Saturday, July 5, 2014

4th of July Flag Toast and Watermelon Stars

4th of July food has historically been all about lunch around here, with leftovers available for grazing throughout the remainder of the day.  This year, we switched things up a bit by going out for lunch and saving the big All-American feast for dinner.  But first, my daughter and I threw together this super cute and easy breakfast:

sliced bread
cream cheese
strawberries
blueberries

1.  Toast the bread and allow to cool a minute or two.

2.  Spread with cream cheese.

3.  Add blueberries and strawberries to represent stars and stripes.


                             

For the Watermelon Stars, a cookie cutter makes preparation quick and easy.  I use this one twice a year - Christmas and 4th of July!


                                       

                                       




Thursday, June 19, 2014

Easy Bleu Cheese Dressing

Last night's dinner was served with a salad of mixed greens, pepper jack cheese, red grapes, and Bleu cheese dressing.  The salad may sound like an odd combination but it was delicious and really paired well with our steak seasoned couscous wraps.

1/8c milk
1c mayonnaise
6oz. cup plain yogurt
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/2c Bleu cheese, crumbled

1.  Put everything in a medium size bowl and stir until well blended.  Chill until ready to use.  Easy!
                    
                         
Use the extra dressing as a dip with fresh vegetables!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Garlic and Herb Mushroom Tacos


Serve these with some garlic rice.... YUM!!


1/4c mayonnaise
1 TBSP garlic powder
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper sauce, or to taste
1 bag arugula or spring salad mix

2c wild mushrooms (I used cremini and shiitake)
1 shallot
1 1/2 TBSP butter
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2c herbed goat cheese, crumbled
2 tsp. fresh thyme
6 spinach tortillas


  1. In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise, garlic powder, and pepper sauce.  Toss lightly with the salad mix and set aside.  
  2. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add shallot and cook until light golden brown.
  3. Add the mushrooms and continue cooking 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Sprinkle with fresh thyme.
  4. Top warm tortillas with salad mix, mushrooms, and goat cheese.





Thursday, June 5, 2014

Fabulous French Bread

Though I usually go the easier route and just pick up baguettes in the bakery, occasionally I do enjoy baking the bread from scratch.  If you've never made your own French bread, I recommend giving it a shot.  It's really very simple!

All it takes is a few basic ingredients, a couple hours for rising and baking, and a good stand mixer with a dough hook.  You could skip the mixer and knead the dough by hand but that's more traditional than I care to get these days.  I've done it in the past; it's not fun.  What you will absolutely love though -- the amazing aroma that will fill your house as these loaves are baking!  Mmmm...pass the butter.

Yields 2 large loaves:

5 tsp. active dry yeast
2c warm water
1 1/2 tsp. salt
5 1/4c all-purpose flour
cornmeal
1 egg white + 1 TBSP water

1.  Start with the active dry yeast in your mixer bowl; pour in the warm water and allow to stand a few minutes, until slightly bubbly.

2.  Add salt and 2c of flour.  Mix together, using a dough hook or paddle attachment on a Stir/Low setting.  Gradually add the remaining flour.

3.  Let the mixer run another 5 minutes or so, until the dough reaches a smooth, elastic consistency.

4.  Place in lightly oiled bowl, turning once to coat.  Cover with a damp cloth and set aside until the dough has risen to double its original size.  (Mine took about 1 1/2hrs.)

5.  Punch dough down and divide into two equal portions.  Remove to a floured surface, cover again, and allow to rest 10 minutes.

6.  On a floured surface, roll each ball out into a rectangle shape.  Then, from a long side, roll into a baguette shape, sealing the edges with a small amount of water on your fingertips and tapering the ends.

7.  Sprinkle a prepared baking sheet with corn meal and place the baguettes seam side down.  

8.  Whisk egg white and water together and brush lightly over the dough.  Again, cover with the damp cloth and set aside for about 45 minutes.  Preheat oven to 375*

9.  Remove cloth and bake 20 minutes.  Brush again with egg wash and bake an additional 15 minutes, or until done.  Cover with foil during the last 10 minutes or so to prevent over-browning.

                          

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Mashed Potato Tacos

I am so happy with the way these turned out last night!  This is one of those recipes that I worked on one day, changed the next, and then practically rewrote in the kitchen as I was cooking.  Most of my recipes tend to work out that way, actually.  

Either way, my taste testers (husband and kids) and I all thought these tacos were delicious.  And not as filling as you might think; or maybe we were just really hungry.  :)

Hand-held comfort food, here you go:


1 1/2 lb. Yukon gold potatoes, skin-on and diced
5 TBSP butter
1/8 - 1/4c half & half
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
1/8c green onions, sliced thin
1 TBSP vegetable oil 
8 flour tortillas
shredded iceberg lettuce
sharp Cheddar cheese, grated

  1. Place diced potatoes in a medium pot and fill with water to cover.  Bring to a boil and cook until fork tender, approximately 20 minutes; Drain, return to pot, and mash to a chunky consistency. 
  2. Stir in butter, half & half (start with 1/8c and add more to suit your taste), salt, black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, and smoked paprika.  Fold in green onions.
  3. Fill each tortilla with 2 heaping TBSP of the potato mixture.
  4. Add vegetable oil to a large skillet over medium heat.  Add tacos 1-2 at a time, turning to cook to golden brown on each side.  Place cooked tacos on a baking sheet and set in oven on the warm setting.
  5. Top with lettuce and cheese; serve warm.
                            

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Caprese Pasta

I don't know what it is lately, but I have been craving the simple and delicious flavor combination like crazy!  Sandwiches, salads, pizza... it was only a matter of time before pasta went into the mix.  Good thing I love caprese-anything because I now have quite a bit of fresh mozzarella in the fridge, thanks to a recent Buy 1 Get 1 sale at Whole Foods.

This was a super easy dinner that I threw together in no time last night.


1/2lb. farfalle pasta, cooked and drained
3TBSP olive oil
2 TBSP yellow onion, diced
1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves 
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2c vegetable stock
1c cherry tomatoes, quartered
1c fresh mozzarella, cubed
1c fresh spinach, rough chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
basil for garnish

1.  In a medium pot, cook pasta according to package directions; drain in a colander and set aside.

2.  In in same pot, over medium high, heat olive oil and add diced onions.  Cook approximately 1 minute before adding the garlic and thyme.  Cook and stir another 1-2 minutes, until mixture is softened and fragrant.

3.  Pour in the vegetable stock and continue cooking until liquid is reduced almost half.

4.  Add the pasta to the pot.  Then, gently stir in the spinach, tomatoes, and mozzarella; allow to heat through approximately 1-2 minutes.

5.  Season to taste, garnish with basil, and serve hot.



Thursday, May 15, 2014

Garlicky Cauliflower Gratin


I've been experimenting with cauliflower quite a bit lately with this gratin dish being the latest creation.  As always, I used non-dairy butter.  Served over Basmati rice, with a side of sautéed asparagus, this was a delicious meal!

8 cloves garlic, minced
2 TBSP butter, melted 
1 TBSP olive oil
1 large head cauliflower, cut into florets
1/3c Parmesan cheese, grated
salt and pepper, to taste
1 TBSP fresh Italian parsley
1/c Panko breadcrumbs

1.  Preheat oven to 400* and butter an 8x8 baking pan.

2.  In a large bowl, toss the cauliflower with the butter, olive oil, Parmesan, salt, and pepper.

3.  Cover and bake 25 min.

4.  Uncover and top with Panko breadcrumbs.

5.  Switch oven setting to Broil and allow another 3-5 min. cook time to allow for a nice golden brown top.  Sprinkle with parsley and serve warm.





                                     

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Toddler-Approved Pasta Dinner

Do you buy canned raviolis and o's for your little one?  If so, stop it right now!  It's way too easy (and cheap) to make your own!  My two-year old loved this today and even the 20-year old gave it a thumbs up.

Notes:

* As usual, I subbed non-dairy products for the milk and butter
* I use white sugar but think this would be just as tasty with Splenda or maybe agave (haven't tried them yet).
* Pasta I used was the dried mini raviolis from Trader Joe's.  Next time, I'll use fresh though.

15oz. can tomato sauce
2 TBSP milk
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. salt
1 TBSP butter
3 TBSP nutritional yeast
2 TBSP sugar
2c small-medium size pasta

1.  Cook the pasta according to package instructions.  Drain and set aside.

2.  In a medium saucepan, over medium high heat, melt the butter.

3.  Add remaining ingredients and heat through, stirring frequently.

4.  Top pasta with sauce and serve.





Thursday, March 27, 2014

Roasted Garlic and Leek Soup

The annual spring cold that has been going around lately finally made an appearance at our house.  I had a little touch of it but my husband is absolutely miserable!  So, in addition to a homemade juice involving lots of ginger, garlic, kale, and other cold-fighting foods, we enjoyed this soup along with a simple baguette and butter for dinner last night.  The house smelled amazing from all the garlic in the air  and the soup was a big hit with everyone.  Our two-year old even went back for seconds!

Notes:

* Used Earth Balance for the butter and Better Than Bouillon's No-Chicken for the broth


4 bulbs garlic, large
olive oil
6 TBSP butter
4 leeks, chopped
1/2c yellow onion, chopped
6 TBSP all-purpose flour
4c chicken broth
1/3c dry sherry
1/4 tsp. white pepper
fresh chives, for garnish

1.  Preheat oven to 350*  Cut off tops of garlic heads, exposing the cloves.  Drizzle with olive oil and roast in the oven approximately 1 hour.  Allow to cool and squeeze to remove the cloves.

2.  In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter.  Add garlic, leeks, and onion.  Break up the garlic with your spoon and stir frequently until leeks and onion are soft.

3.  Add the flour and stir quickly to thicken.  Pour in the broth, sherry, and white pepper.

4.  Reduce heat to low and allow soup to simmer approximately 20 min.  Adjust the seasoning, to taste, top with chives, and serve hot.




Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Vegan Teriyaki Chicken

Last night's dinner of my vegan version of teriyaki chicken, served over rice, and with a side of sautéed green beans was devoured by everyone, even our super picky 2-year old.  

Note:  For the "chicken", I used Beyond Meat which is easily the best chicken substitute available right now, in my opinion.   


1 TBSP cornstarch
1 TBSP water
1/2c white sugar
1/2c soy sauce
1/4c apple cider vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 pkg. chicken substitute, chopped into bite-size pieces

1.  Preheat oven to 425*

2.  In a small saucepan over low heat, combine all ingredients except the chicken.  Allow to simmer, stirring frequently, until thickened.

3.  Add chicken to a prepared 8x8 baking dish and baste generously with the sauce.

4.  Bake, uncovered, for 45-50 min., turning and basting with extra sauce every 10 min.




















Hint of Coconut Cookies

Even my non-coconut eaters raved about these cookies!  It may seem like a lot of coconut but for some reason, the flavor is pleasantly mild and not at all.  And the texture
is just the right amount of chewy goodness!

Here's the recipe:

1 1/4c.  all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 c. butter
1/2c. packed brown sugar
1/2 c. white sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/3 c. flaked coconut
1.  Preheat oven to 350*
2.  In a small mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

3.  In a stand mixer, cream the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar on medium speed until smooth.

4.  Beat in the egg and vanilla until light and fluffy.

5.  Gradually blend in the flour mixture, then mix in the coconut.

6.  Roll into 1" balls and place on a cookie sheet a few inches apart.  

7.  Place the cookie sheet in the refrigerator and allow it to chill for about 30 min.

8.  Remove from the refrigerator straight to the oven.  Bake for approximately 12 min. or until lightly toasted.

9.  Cool on wire racks.

My most adamant coconut hater kept trying to sneak cookies while I was making dinner.  :)

Monday, March 17, 2014

Beer Braised Collard Greens

Today is March 17th, which means today is all about all things green.  People are clad in green, wearing shamrocks, and drinking green beer so it seems only right that today's recipe is one for, you guessed it - greens!


2 TBSP olive oil
1/2c yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb. fresh collard greens, cut into 2” pieces and stems removed
1 (12oz.) light beer
1 TBSP brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. red pepper flakes
Ground black pepper, to taste


1.  Heat olive oil in skillet over medium high heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring continuously for 1-2 minutes or until onion is softened and garlic is light golden brown.

2.  Add collard greens, beer, sugar, salt, red pepper flakes, and black pepper.

3.  Allow to simmer 30-45 minutes or until collard greens are wilted and beer is reduced slightly.

4.  Remove from heat and serve immediately.


Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Vegetable Tortellini Stew

Open a bottle of red and get ready to make a hearty and delicious stew!  This is what we had two nights ago along with some herbed biscuits for dipping.  Don't worry about leftovers.  This stew freezes really well!
2 TBSP olive oil
1lb. vegan sausage (Match Meats makes a really good one)
3/4c. chopped onion
1c.sliced carrots
1 cup sliced celery
5 c. vegetable broth
1/2c. red wine
1 (14.5 oz.) can Italian seasoned diced tomatoes, with liquid
1c. ketchup
1 1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup zucchini, sliced
1 pound fresh tortellini pasta
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/4 cup chopped parsley
salt and pepper to taste

1.  In a large pot, heat approximately 2 TBSP olive oil and brown sausage.

2.  Add onions and saute until tender. Add carrots, celery, vegetable broth, red wine, tomatoes, ketchup, Italian seasoning, and garlic.

3.  Bring to a boil and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes.

4.  Meanwhile, in a separate pan, prepare tortellini according to package directions; drain and set aside.

5.  Stir in in the zucchini, tortellini, red bell pepper, and parsley.  

6.  Simmer, covered, for about 25-30
minutes.

7.  Season with salt and pepper.  Serve hot.
               

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Savory Stuffed Red Potatoes

I recently found myself with half a bag of baby red potatoes and no real plans for them.  A few more days and they would go out with the trash.  That seemed wasteful though and I'm trying to make more of an effort to actually use all the produce I buy.

Roasted corn and poblano soup was already on the menu so I decided to try these little potato bites on the side.  The two dishes paired really well, which was a relief because the potatoes can take awhile to prepare.  It's a simple recipe but the scooping out of the potatoes (without tearing the skins!) is what is most time consuming.  Worth it though.

Note:
* I used vegan substitutes for the sour cream and butter.


8 red potatoes, bite size
1 TBSP sour cream
2 TBSP butter, melted
1/4 tsp. seasoned salt
1/8 tsp. black pepper
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. green onion
2 TBSP cheddar cheese, grated
olive oil and sea salt

1.  In a saucepan, cover the potatoes with water and boil until tender.  The amount of time needed here will depend on the size of your potatoes.  Mine were on the small side and I let them boil about 15 minutes.  Drain potatoes and set aside to cool.

2.  Cut potatoes in half and carefully scoop out the inside, leaving a little edge all around.  Spray a little olive oil on the skin side of each potato and sprinkle with sea salt, to taste.

3.  In a medium size bowl, combine the scooped out potato, sour cream, butter, seasoned salt, pepper, garlic powder, green onions, and cheese.

4.  Spoon the mixture evenly back into each potato skin and top with a little extra cheese.

5.  Bake approximately 10 minutes.  Sprinkle with green onions and serve.



Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Goat Cheese Stuffed Pepper Bites

At a recent event with my husband, there were trays of bite size appetizers made up of all sorts of complicated combinations floating around.  The one we both seemed to enjoy most though was the simplest.  A little spicy, a little sweet, a little creamy, a little crunch….. it's a perfect balance and so easy!

Notes:

* You can buy peppadews in a jar but I also found them on the olive bar, of all places. 

* Soy creamer worked great for me but dairy milk, half and half, whatever you have on hand would work as well. 

12 peppadew peppers, seeded an drained well
4oz. goat cheese
1-2 TBSP creamer, to taste

1.  Place the cheese in a small mixing bowl.  Add the creamer 1 tsp. at a time and stir until the mixture reaches desired consistency.  (I used 1 TBSP = 1 tsp. but the amount you use will depend on the softness of your cheese.)

2.  Scoop the cheese mixture into a piping bag and fill the peppers.

3.  Refrigerate if you're making these ahead of time but serve them at room temperature.

                

                

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