Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Pumpkin Arugula Pita

The title of this recipe does not do it justice, but I've been enjoying this treat for lunch this week. Last month's Everyday Food magazine had some tips for using and enjoying canned pumpkin puree. Some of them included mixing with cream cheese and smearing on a bagel, adding to a smoothie, stir some in soup, etc. The one that caught my attention, however, was to spread some puree on a tortilla, top with feta and arugula. All of those ingredients are lunch staples in our home, so I decided to give it a try. There is no real recipe, but here are my thoughts.
*Start with a whole-wheat tortilla or pita (I like the pitas best).
*Spread a moderate layer of pumpkin puree on top. If it is too thin, you won't taste it, but don't put a goopy layer on like I did the first time...way too pumpkin-y. So, I'd say about 1/8-1/4 inch thick.
*Sprinkle some feta cheese on top and a little fresh-ground pepper. Pop in a toaster oven or under the broiler for a few minutes until the cheese starts melting and the pumpkin is warmed.
*Remove to a plate and top with a generous pile of baby arugula.
*Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and extra-virgin olive oil. Use a knife and fork to cut up and enjoy.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Apple delight

I got this from a church recipe book a few years back, the girls love these little treats.

*3-4 apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
*¼ cup dry oats
*1/8 cup brown sugar
*¼ tsp cinnamon
Mix altogether and spoon into muffin cups. (I love the silicone cups for these) Bake in oven at 350 for about 10 minutes, or until apples are soft. Feeling crazy? Top it with some vanilla ice cream and caramel syrup.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Roasted Salsa

Next year I will find a better balance between having so many tomatoes come on at once that I can't get all of them canned/frozen/eaten and my too-staggered plantings that give me just enough for a couple servings of marinara every night.  In the meantime I'm enjoying finding new recipes to try in small batches. Here's one I found last year and have enjoyed making this summer. It is just as easy as a fresh salsa, but with a much deeper flavor.

*1 1/2 lb. tomatoes (large work better, but I've used everything from cherry to Roma to heirloom)
*1 medium white onion, halved
*3 jalapenos (I pull out half the seeds)
*3-4 garlic cloves, unpeeled
*3 TBSP. lime juice, 2 limes
*coarse salt and ground pepper
*1/4 c. chopped fresh cilantro

Heat broiler with rack in top position.  Place tomatoes, onion, jalapenos and garlic on a rimmed baking sheet in a single layer. Broil until vegetables are blistered and slightly softened, rotating sheet and turning vegetables frequently, 6-8 minutes.  If the garlic starts to get too brown, pull it out early. Discard garlic skins.  In a food processor, pulse the vegetables until coarsely pureed.  Add lime juice, salt and pepper and pulse.  Stir in cilantro. Refrigerate up to 3 days or freeze up to 3 months.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Peanut Butter Balls

These are great treats to keep on hand, especially to pack into school lunch boxes.  I make 1-2x this recipe, scoop them into balls, and freeze them.  Once frozen, I divide them and keep a dozen or two in the fridge and store the rest in the freezer.  Especially when I make a bigger batch, I use my stand mixer to get them mixed well.

*1/2 c. natural peanut butter (sometimes takes 1-2TBSP more to mix well)
*1/3 c. honey
*1 tsp. vanilla
*2 c. old fashioned oats
*1/4 c. mini chocolate chips

Mix peanut butter and honey, add vanilla and stir in oats and chocolate chips.  Mix until well combined.  Use a cookie scoop to portion into balls and freeze at least 30 minutes to set.  Keep in fridge.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Zucchini Pesto with Linguine

I'm really starting to question my decision to plant six zucchini plants.  We've made some fried zucchini, some tomato pasta sauce, a whole lot of zucchini bread and a batch of cupcakes planned for the weekend.  We've also got bags of frozen zucchini in the freezer and have some more neighborhood deliveries planned for tomorrow.  Tonight we tried a new recipe for zucchini pesto that will absolutely get a regular spot on the summer dinner rotation. This is slightly modified from Rachael Ray.

*1-1 1/4 lb. firm zucchini
*1/2 c. slivered or sliced almonds
*1/2 c. fresh mint leaves
*1/2 c. flat-leaf parsley leaves
*3 cloves garlic, quartered
*1 TBSP.  fresh lemon juice
*1/2 c. Parmesan cheese
*1/2-2/3 c. extra-virgin olive oil
*1 lb. whole-wheat or legume-blend linguine

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it.  Halve the zucchini and scrape away the seeds from the centers.  Boil the zucchini for 5 minutes, then, using tongs, transfer to paper towels to drain.  Leave the water at a low boil.  Coarsely chop the zucchini.
In a small skillet, toast the nuts over medium heat until golden and fragrant.  Place half of the nuts in a food processor and let cool; reserve the remaining nuts.
Add the zucchini to the food processor along with the mint, parsley, garlic and lemon juice; season with salt and fresh ground pepper.  Add the cheese and process.  With the machine on, stream in the olive oil until the pesto is just turning from finely chopped to saucy.  Transfer to a large, shallow serving bowl.
Bring the reserved water to a rolling boil, add the pasta and cook until al dente.  Add about 1/2 c. of the pasta cooking water to the pesto.  Drain the pasta and toss with the sauce for a minute or so to combine.  Top with the reserved toasted nuts.

This was very easy to put together and was very tasty.  I was worried that it would taste too "zucchini-ish" but it wasn't at all.  I am going to make a big batch of the sauce to freeze for some winter pastas.  Using the non-white noodles, the cheese and the almonds adds a good amount of protein to a meatless meal.

Also, if anyone in my area needs some zucchini...just holler!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Better Brown Rice

There's no question that brown rice offers a totally different level of nutrition than the more familiar, stripped-down, white variety.  The problem usually falls to the texture, which is often gummy or mushy.  Leave it to Martha Stewart to debunk the common water/rice ratio/cooking time issues to solve the problem.  Here's how she suggests it should be cooked.
For long-grain brown rice, use 1 1/4 cups water to 1 cup rice.  For short-grain, use 1 1/2 cups water.
Bring rice, water, and coarse salt (1/4 tsp. per cup of rice) to a boil.  Cover, and reduce to a slow, steady simmer.  Cook for 30 minutes (not a type-o).  Use a wide, shallow pot with a tight0fitting lid to ensure evenly cooked rice.
Let the cooked rice sit for 10 minutes, covered, to absorb maximum moisture; then remove the lid, and fluff the grains with a fork. Makes about 2 1/2 cups.
Keep cooked brown rice on hand in the fridge for quick additions to soup, casseroles, sides, and salads.  Brown rice also makes an excellent alternative to breakfast cereals - serve warm with a little almond milk and cinnamon.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Roasted Mexican Tomato Soup

I was scanning through my recipe stack looking for something to do with the loads of Roma tomatoes in my garden that ripened this week, and came across a recipe from Relish magazine.  I adapted it a bit to use fresh tomatoes and LOVED the resulting soup!  The article suggested this is a great soup to share with a friend/neighbor, but we ate so much I'd have to make another batch to do that.

*2 lbs. Roma tomatoes (use any variety you've got on hand, but note that the water content is pretty low on the Romas so adjust your liquids accordingly)
*1/2 tsp. salt
*fresh ground pepper
*2 tsp. brown sugar
*2 TBSP. olive oil
*1 medium onion, chopped
*1 large carrot, chopped
*2 garlic cloves, chopped
*1/2 tsp. cumin
*1 can Mexican-style stewed tomatoes
*3 c. chicken broth
*1/4 c. heavy cream
*Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 300.  Cut the tomatoes in halves and place on a baking sheet.  Sprinkle with salt, pepper and brown sugar.  Drizzle with 1 tablespoon oil.  Bake 90 minutes, until browned.  Heat olive oil in a large saucepan.  Add onion, carrot, garlic, and cumin.  Cook, covered, for about 10 minutes.  Add roasted tomatoes, reserved juice, stewed tomatoes and broth.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes.  Mash with a potato masher or blend with an immersion blender until desired consistency. Add cream and season to taste.  Serve with Monterey Jack cheese.  Serves 8.
*This soup will freeze well, and would be great to share.
*We put a scoop of black beans in the bowl and poured the soup over top for a little added protein.  Add some fresh corn on the cob and a big salad for a very colorful and tasty meal.  Both girls loved dipping their quesadillas into the soup!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Lentil Tacos

The first night I made these I got, "these are healthy, right?" from my husband...because I made the mistake of telling him (a big meat-lover) what they were.  Three days later all the left-overs were gone and he was asking me to please make some more.  My bean-burrito-loving daughter and I LOVE them and I the filling can easily be used as a dip, enchilada filling, on a taco salad, or as a side.
Nutrition note: lentils are very high in fiber and protein, loaded with folic acid, iron, phosphorus and potassium.  They are also very low on the glycemic index and very inexpensive.

*1 finely chopped yellow onion
*2 garlic cloves, minced
*1 c. dried brown lentils, rinsed
*1 TBSP. chili powder
*2 tsp. ground cumin
*1 tsp. dried oregano
*2 1/2 c. low-sodium chicken (or vegetable) broth

Saute onion and garlic in olive oil until softened.  Add lentils, chili powder, cumin and oregano, then cook and stir for a minute or two.  Add broth and bring to a boil.  Cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Check lentils for doneness at 35 minutes; it may take as long as 45 minutes (you are looking for tender, but not mushy). Uncover and cook for a few minutes until any remaining moisture dissipates.

If using as tacos, serve in a warm corn tortilla with salsa, sour cream, lettuce, and shredded cheddar.  For a burrito, us a flour tortilla  rolled up.  For enchiladas, fill corn tortilla, roll, cover with enchilada sauce and cheese then bake to heat.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Yogurt Biscuits

I'm a big fan of buttermilk biscuits. I love the taste, the texture, and the honey butter or raspberry jam slathered on top.  Unfortunately, I've been the only one in my household who feels this way, so when I make a batch I'm always left feeling guilty for eating the whole tray by myself.  A while back, I found a recipe in the Relish insert in our newspaper for yogurt biscuits...what?  After making them a few times, I can't believe how easy they are to make and how tasty they are (Brett even admitted this is the first biscuit he's ever liked).
*1 1/2 c. self-rising flour
*1 tsp. salt
*1 1/4 c. plain Greek yogurt
Preheat oven to 450.  Whisk flour and salt together in a large bowl.  Make a hollow in the center.  Pour yogurt into center, and stir pulling flour into yogurt. Mix until dry ingredients are moistened and the dough forms.  Sprinkle a clean surface with flour.  Turn dough out, sprinkle with flour and fold in half.  Pat dough until 1/2-inch thick.  Flour again if necessary and fold dough in half a second time.  Pat dough into a 1/2-inch thick round.  Dip a 2-inch biscuit cutter into flour and cut out biscuits without twisting.  Place biscuits close together on a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Bake 10-14 minutes until light golden brown.  Serve hot (with butter and raspberry jam).
Stats: 94 cal, 1g fat, 3g protein, 17g carbs

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Cheesy Chickpea and Sesame Crackers

It isn't easy to find chips/crackers at the store that taste great and have some nutritional value. I got this recipe from Everyday Foods and we love them.  I make a batch each week and keep them in a bowl in the kitchen for a quick snack.
*1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
*1 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
*3/4 tsp. coarse salt
*3/4 tsp. ground pepper
*1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour (I use 3/4 c. 6-grain flour and 3/4 c. AP flour)
*5 TBSP. cold unsalted butter
*1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese (I usually cut this down to 1/3c.)
*1 large egg white
*2 TBSP. sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 350, with racks in the middle and lower third.  In a food processor, pulse chickpeas until coarsely chopped.  Add coriander, salt, pepper, flour and butter and pulse to combine.  With machine running, gradually add 3 tablespoons cold water until dough forms a ball.  Add Parmesan and pulse to combine.
Divide dough and form into to 1-inch-thick disks.  On a lightly floured surface, roll out each disk to an 1/8-inch thickness.  Brush with egg white and sprinkle with sesame seeds.  With a pizza cutter, cut into 1-by-3-inch rectangles and place 1/2 inch apart, on two parchment-lined baking sheets.  Bake until golden brown and crisp, 25-30 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through.  Let crackers cool on sheets then transfer to airtight containers and store at room temperature, up to 2 weeks.