Monday, March 7, 2011

Southwest Skillet Ensemble

Last week I was having a hot, mental debate over whether to fix Heather Bakes, Mexican Quinoa Casserole or my trusty Cuban Black Beans & Quinoa for dinner. I'm not very good at decisions, so I decided to combine the two. The outcome? A-mazing!

Southwest Skillet Ensemble
3 - Cloves  Garlic
1 - Small Onion
1 - Green Bell Pepper
1 - Medium Zucchini
1 - Medium Yellow Squash
1/2 Teaspoon - Crushed Red Pepper
1 - Large Can of Diced Tomatoes
1 - Can of Black Beans
1 Cup - Quinoa
1 Cup - Water
1 Teaspoon - Cumin
1 Teaspoon - Oregano
Salt & Pepper to Taste
***Optional: 1 Cup - Shredded Cheese (of your choosing)

- Chop Veggies
- Sautee veggies in jumbo skillet 'til soft, and almost fully cooked
- Add Spices
- Add tomatoes, beans, quinoa, and water (don't drain the tomatoes and beans--you'll need the juices for the quinoa!)
- Stir to combine, and bring to a boil
- Reduce temperature to low/medium-low and cook for approximately 30minutes or 'til quinoa is fully cooked

***Optional: Top with shredded cheese and place in 350F oven for several minutes 'til cheese if melted and gooey.

Friday, March 4, 2011

BOB Scones--Buckwheat, Oats, and Blueberries

Recently I made a trip to Martin's Farm Market in Hagerstown, MD, which means my cabinets are now stuffed with lots of cool spices (most are less than $1!) and other fun healthy baking/cooking things like flax seeds and steel cut oats. Truth be told, I'd never actually had or used steel cut oats 'til a few days ago. However, I always hear them talked about in relation to healthy things, so I figured, why not?

BOB Scones
1/2 Cup - Steel Cut Oats
1/2 Cup - Milk
1 Teaspoon - Cinnamon
2 Cups - Buckwheat Flour
1/3 Cup - Sugar
2 Teaspoons - Baking Powder
1/2 Teaspoon - Salt
1/2 Cup - Butter (grated or cubed and chilled)
1 Tablespoon - Vanilla Extract
2 Eggs
1/2 Cup - Blueberries

*For Optional Topping: 1 Egg and 1/2 Cup Raw Sugar

- Preheat oven to 375°F

- Add milk to oats to soften them, stir in cinnamon, and chill while you're mixing the other ingredients.

- Combine flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar--stir and add butter.

- If you're using a stand mixer, beat on medium with the paddle attachment 'til butter is cut into dry ingredients and about the size of small peas. Otherwise, us a pastry blender, two knives, or any other trusty method you may have for working butter into flour.

- Add the oat mixture, 2 eggs (slightly beaten), and vanilla to the flour/butter mixture, and beat 'til ingredients just come together--be sure not to overbeat!

- Fold in Blueberries

- On a floured surface form dough into a square and cut into triangles using a sharp knife

*For topping: beat one egg, brush egg over scones, sprinkle with sugar and bake as directed.

- Place triangles on parchment-lined baking sheets and bake for 17 minutes.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Wild, Wonderful Winter Wonderland

Today's Lesson: never trust a Rodent.  Good Old "Prostitution Phil" (don't ask) predicted an early spring, and last Friday when the temperatures were topping 70, it started to look like he might be right! However, as I sit here looking out my window at over 6" of snow, that groundhog should just be glad that even West Virginians don't consider Groundhog Goulash a delicacy.

The funny thing is, I'm one of those crazy people that usually really likes snow, but after being able to run outside in shorts last week, even I was less than thrilled with the forecast. But hey, if you can't beat it, photograph it!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Here's How My Garden (hopefully) Grows

Several weeks ago I put in a massive order to Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company. Not gonna lie, the day the seeds arrived in the mail was really exciting! Not only are they all the packets so pretty and exciting, but they also brought with them the promise of Spring. I've already started the tomatoes, peppers, tomatillos, and eggplants; later this week I'll also start some cabbage and broccoli. It doesn't matter how many times I start a garden, there's something about watching seedlings sprout that never ceases to amaze me.

Below is a list of what I plan on growing this year (so far anyway):
Dragon Tongue Bush Bean
Romanesco Italia Broccoli
Chioggia Beet
Cour Di Bue Cabbage
Cosmic Purple Carrot
De Bourbonne Cucumber
Pandora Striped Rose Eggplant  
Rocky Top Lettuce Mix
Albino Bullnose Pepper
Purple Beauty Pepper
Five Color Silver Beet Chard
Tomatillo Purple
Orange Fleshed Purple Smudge
Mortgage Lifter Tomato
Violet Jasper or Tzi Bi U Tomato
German Red Strawberry
Reisetomate Tomato

Here's Praying for a Bountiful Growing Season! 

Friday, February 4, 2011

Sweet Potato Fries & Avocado Reubens

Rational I am not, so it should really come as no surprise that I hate sweet potatoes, but I Love sweet potato fries (or SPFs if you will). Frozen ones are meh, some restaurant ones are OK, but homemade ones, dear readers, are the best you'll ever have. I think the biggest advantage to homemade SPFs is that you're totally in control--the sweet potato is your oyster, or let's say mussel, I don't like oysters either. Anyway, you can cut them to any thickness and you can make them sweet, savory, spicy, or all of the above! Below is how I made them last night, but like I said, feel free to change it up as your tastebuds see fit.

Sweet Potato Fries
3 - 5 Medium Sweet Potatoes
1/4 Cup - Canola Oil
1 Tablespoon - Sesame Oil
1 Tablespoon - Salt (I prefer Kosher or Sea)
1 Teaspoon - Garlic Powder
1 Teaspoon - Basil
1/4 Teaspoon - Cayenne Pepper

- Preheat oven to 400°F
- Wash SPs and butcher into whatever shapes you desire. You can peel them if you like, but I prefer to leave the skins on.

- Place SPs in gallon-sized ziploc bag, add oils & spices, seal bag, and shake 'til everything is thoroughly coated.

- Using a large slotted spoon, scoop SPs onto rimmed baking sheet and spread them around as much as possible.

- Bake for 30-40 minutes or until you've reached desired crispiness.

In my book, SPFs are the main course and anything else on the plate is a sideshow; however, these avocado reubens gave the SPFs a run for their money!

Avocado Reubens
Adapted from the Skinny Bitch in the Kitch, Reuben-esque

Rye Bread
Thousand Island (preferably homemade)
Sauerkraut (fully drained)
Swiss Cheese

- Toast bread
- Place on baking sheet
- Slather one half with Thousand Island
- Lay several generous slices of avocado on "dressed" side of bread
- Mound the other slice of bread with kraut
- Top with one (or two, I won't judge) slice(s) of swiss cheese
- Place under broiler 'til cheese is fully melted
- Assemble sandwich and attempt to eat without making a giant mess--good luck!

Monday, January 31, 2011

I Love Snow Days

Over the past week I've spent a lot of time in kitchen since Mini Coopers and over a foot of snow just don't mix. I didn't do any blogging, but I did do some baking and LOTS of picture taking.

First I made Smitten Kitchen's Marshamallows which are kind of messy, but they are also TO DIE FOR. After eating these, I may never eat another store-bought mallow again.

Then there were these lovely little heart cookies from The Cookie & Biscuit Bible (also pictured above).

And last, but certainly not least, Dorie Greenspan's Linzer Sables--there aren't words to do these cookies justice, but thankfully there are pictures.

Hachis Parmentier Végétarien

Hachis Parmentier Végétarien

(Blogger Fail: So, I actually wrote this post last week and thought I'd hit the publish button. Oops!)

As the temperature dropped well below freezing, comfort food was a must on Monday night's dinner menu. Then again, I also didn't want to venture out  to the grocery store. I surveyed my kitchen stock, and decided to peruse Dorie Greenspan's Around My French Table, to see what the French had in mind for a stick-to-your-ribs dish with relatively few ingredients. I'm a sucker for anything with a picture, and the photo of the Hachis Parmentier in the book almost made me forget just how frigid it was outside. Hmmmmm, but did I have the ingredients?

The original recipe called for braised beef and sausage, of which I had neither. The "bonne idée" note on the side, however, suggested using ground beef and sausage (of which I still had neither), but that got me thinking....I did have a couple of bags of soy crumbles in the freezer. I figured that by adding the right spices (Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme à la Scarborough Fair) I could mimic both the savory beef and spicy sausage flavors, and concoct a vegetarian version of this traditional French comfort food. So, does my picture above make you feel all warm and comforted?

Hachis Parmentier Végétarien
As Adapted from Dorie Greenspan's Around My French Table

3 - Cloves of Garlic (diced)
1 - Small Onion (diced)
2 - Bags of Soy Crumbles
1 Tablespoon - Parsley
1 Teaspoon - Sage
1 Teaspoon - Rosemary
1 Teaspoon - Thyme
1 Tablespoon - Tomato Paste
1 Cup - Vegetable Broth
*Salt and Pepper to Taste

2lbs - Potatoes
3/4 Cup - Milk
1/2 Cup Gruyère (grated)
2 Tablespoons - Parmesan or Asiago (grated)
1 Tablespoon - Butter (grated)

- Preheat oven to 400°F
- Sauté garlic and onions in a large skillet 'til onions become translucent.
- Add soy crumbles and spices to skillet, and cook 'til the crumbles are cooked.
- Stir in broth and tomato paste, and cook on medium 'til mixture thickens.
- Spoon "meat" mixture into a 9x13 casserole dish, cover, and set aside.

- Boil quartered potatoes (I leave the skins on) until you can poke them easily with a fork.
- When potatoes are cooked, add milk, and mash them using a potato masher, hand mixer, or immersion blender (my fave!).
- Spoon potatoes over meat mixture.
- Spread grated cheese over potatoes
- Top with shredded butter, and bake for 30minutes or 'til topping is golden brown.