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Posts Tagged ‘quick & easy’

Bizarre Veggies–Roasted!

Roasted Romanesco and Yellow Cauliflower

At the farmers market a few weeks ago as I was picking up my last CSA box, I encountered a bizarre veggie that I could not resist buying and figuring out what to do with–Romanesco Broccoli. Romanesco broccoli is an Italian broccoli that has a similar texture as that of cauliflower. You can use it for pastas, risotto, or as I have…just a delicious roasted side dish.  The flavor is mild, the texture is crunchy and all-together it is a wonderful combination of broccoli and cauliflower that just happens to look like it grew on Mars.

Romanesco Broccoli

So for the recipe–it is a safe, simple way to experiment with new veggies–roasting. Roasting is so simple and a great way to cook any hearty veggie. The roasting time depends on how “crispy brown” you like your veggies. I opt to have differing sizes of the veggies cut so that some pieces get really crunchy and brown while others are lighter and crisp tender.

Ingredients:

  • olive oil, enough to coat veggies
  • Romanesco broccoli
  • Yellow cauliflower
  • salt
  • pepper
  • crushed red pepper flakes

To make:

Preheat oven to 400-425. In a large bowl, mix cut Romanesco broccoli and cauliflower with olive oil, salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper. Place veggies in a single layer on a baking pan and bake for approximately 20 minutes–or until brown and crisped to your liking. You can give the veggies a stir half way through for more even browning. Serve warm or at room temperature. Enjoy!

Delicious, Strange, Veggies: roasted yellow cauliflower & romanesco broccoli

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Better than BAR pizza…

One of my favorite pizza’s is a pizza from BAR restaurant in New Haven, CT. It is their white pizza topped with mashed potato and bacon. I know…it sounds crazy, but is it absolutely delicious!  I have not been back to New Haven in a while and was really in the mood for recreating this spectacular pie. So…with a little experimentation, I think I found a winner. Here is my version of “Better than Bar Loaded Mashed Potato Pizza”.  The toppings taste better, but I will admit the crust from BAR (or really any New Haven pizzeria takes the prize). I am pretty sure this version is much healthier than what you would order in a restaurants and it has the added farm-to-table appeal because I was able to use fresh potatoes and broccoli from my CSA box. Like most home cooks, I don’t have the luxury of a brick fire pit to get that classic charred New Haven style crust, but for a home version this is a great option. By using a pre-made thin crust pizza dough and cooked it on a pizza stone you can get pretty close for a home version, but for the real experience I recommend a pizza tour of New Haven, CT.

Loaded Mashed Potato Pizza

Loaded Mashed Potato Pizza

Ingredients.

thin pizza crust (store-bought or make your own)

3-4 medium white potato, or 2 large

4 cloves garlic, peeled and cut in half

extra virgin olive oil

sour cream

whole milk

broccoli

bacon

cheese (I used an Italian blend)

salt & pepper (white pepper if you have it)

Instructions.

Preheat the oven to 400-450 degrees with the pizza stone in the oven. If you are not using a pizza stone then I recommend preheating a baking sheet at 400.

Prep the pizza topping ingredients: For the  mashed potatoes, peel and cut the potatoes into chunks. Add potatoes and garlic to a pot of boiling water and boil until fork tender. Meanwhile cook the bacon until crisp and tear into small pieces. Steam or par-boil the broccoli until just tender. When the potatoes and garlic are soft, remove from water and place into a bowl to mash. If you have a food mill, use the food mill using a medium grate disc to make light and fluffy garlic mashed potatoes. Add 1/2 cup sour cream and pour milk until the potatoes are soft, creamy and to the consistency you desire. Salt and pepper the potatoes to taste. If you prefer chunkier potatoes mash by hand.

Assemble the pizza: Spread a generous layer of olive oil all over the pizza dough to coat. Layer the mashed potatoes onto the pizza, add a thin layer of cheese, add the bacon and broccoli, drizzle a light layer of olive oil, then top with more cheese.  There is no real science to the amount of toppings you use so feel free to experiment!

Bake the pizza in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes or until the cheese is melted and crust is brown and crispy! Let cool for a few minutes before cutting. And lastly…ENJOY 🙂

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Perfect Bites: Southern Pan Fried Okra

One of my absolute favorite foods is fresh fried okra. Not the over-battered kind, but the lightly dusted in cornmeal, pan-fried extra crispy (no goo) kind. This recipe is one that my mother passed along and it makes the perfect bite of fried okra every time. It is so simple and so delicious! I could eat an entire pan of this okra myself…but I practice self control and always make it when I have someone to share a few bites with 🙂

The trick to this recipe is the okra…only fresh summer okra will do. I have attempted to re-create the fried okra using frozen okra and it just doesn’t work out well. It actually ends up a soggy mess. So reap the benefits of your farmer’s market, CSA box, or garden grown okra while it lasts and fry up this Southern delight!

Mama’s Crispy Pan Fried Okra

  • fresh okra
  • cornmeal (white or yellow)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • dash of cayenne (optional)
  • vegetable or canola oil for frying

To make:

Heat oil in a saute or frying pan (cast iron is best) over medium-high heat. I use just enough oil to cover the okra about 1/4-1/2 way. This is more of a pan fry method rather than a deep fry.

Cut the okra ends off and slice into rounds approximately 1/2 inch in length. Working rather quickly (to take advantage of the okra “goo”) place okra in a shallow dish, season with salt and pepper (and cayenne if you are using). Sprinkle a heaping layer of corn meal on top of the okra and gently mix to coat the okra.

Lightly coat the okra in cornmeal, salt and pepper

If the okra is fresh enough there should be enough okra goo to make the corn meal stick. Carefully place okra in hot oil. Do not over fill the pan with the okra, you want only one layer of okra in the pan to ensure all of the sides of the okra get crispy. Cover the pan and cook for approximately 10  minutes, gently stir about 1/2 way through. Monitor the heat to prevent the okra burning or oil from getting too hot when covered. Remove cover and cook until okra has browned to your preference (another 5-10 minutes). I like a few pieces to be on the darker side (usually the smaller ones). Okra will crisp up more as it cools. Remove cooked okra with a slotted spoon from the oil and let cool slightly on a paper towel lined plate. Serve warm or at room temperature.  Enjoy!

Just a little oil to pan fry this crispy summer treat!

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CSA box–each week a wonderful surprise of fruits and veggies!

This summer my husband and I decided to participate in a community supported agriculture (CSA) program. We thought this would be a great way to support local farmers, eat more fresh produce, and possibly trim up our waistlines! Participating in a CSA program is a great alternative for city-dwellers like ourselves to enjoy the fresh bounty of summer fruits and veggies even though we don’t have our own garden.

We decided to participate in Stillman’s Farm, which has been great so far.  If you are interested, you can follow their blog linked my Local Favorites blogroll list. We are about 5 weeks into the deliveries and are happy with the quality and selection of veggies. Lots of greens! It does take some work to clean and prep all of the produce, but the end results of delicious, fresh foods is worth it! I will be posting recipes using these fresh fruits and veggies (hopefully frequently).

This first recipe is a  fast, easy, and delicious way to use up Kale (which has been abundant in the boxes from week to week so far). The chips can me made with any variety of Kale.

Basic Kale Chips

  • Fresh kale–cleaned, stems and center ribs cut and removed
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & Pepper

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

Tear kale into the size “chips” you desire. Toss kale in olive oil to coat. Place kale in a single layer on a baking sheet; top with salt and pepper (or other spices–see note below). Bake in oven for approx 30 min. You can check the crispiness at 20 min. then continue to cook until chips are crisp to your preference. Remove from oven and let cool on wire rack.

The chips are best the same day, but can last one or two more days, stored in an airtight container. The light, airy crispy kale chips will go fast, so you won’t have to worry about storing them too long 🙂

*Note: This is just a basic recipe. Add any spice you like (i.e. cayenne, garlic, cumin, crushed red pepper, etc.) to the chips to change up the flavors.

Kale chips–surprisingly delicious!

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Cherry Clafoutis: So easy and delicious–a great way to showcase fresh cherries of summer!

Summer is the season of cherries! Fresh cherries are a delight that I only recently started to enjoy. They take a little work to pit, but the sweet, tart taste of a fresh cherry makes a wonderful summertime perfect bite. When you are tired of eating the fresh cherries plain, here is a recipe that is quick and easy and makes the perfect rustic dessert or even sweet breakfast.

This recipe uses fresh cherries in a traditional French dish: Cherry Clafoutis. The most traditional way to bake this egg-pastry is to leave the cherries un-pitted. I prefer to go ahead and pit the cherries  prior to baking, so that each bite is full of sweet, tart, creamy, and a little chewy deliciousness.

Cherry Clafoutis

Ingredients:

  • Approx. 2 cups fresh sweet cherries, stemmed and pitted (or leave un-pitted for a purist version–just warn every one of the pits prior to eating)
  • 3 large eggs (room temperature)
  • 1 cup milk (room temperature)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • Butter–for coating pan
  • Powdered sugar, for dusting/garnish

To make:

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 375°F.
  2. Coat a medium cast iron (or other oven-safe) pan with butter. Place cherries in pan in a single layer. Don’t get too attached to the design because they will shift as the Clafoutis cooks.
  3. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla and almond extracts, and salt until smooth and the sugar has dissolved. Add the flour and whisk until just combined. A few lumps are ok. Hint: the room temperature eggs and milk allow the ingredients to incorporate better than if used cold milk/eggs right from the fridge. The room temperature eggs/milk also help with giving the Clafoutis a better rise when baking.
  4. Pour batter over the cherries in the prepared pan.
  5. Bake approx. 30 minutes. The batter should be set, slightly puffed and light golden brown around the edges.
  6. Remove from oven and let cool on a  wire rack  for about 10 minutes (the Clafoutis will deflate).
  7. Garnish with powdered sugar and serve warm. Enjoy!

Ready to slice and eat!

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Dutch baby pancake–perfect breakfast, brunch, or dessert bite!

This recipe is one if the easiest recipes for a quick, tasty breakfast (or possibly dessert)!  When your husband, kids, or friends are in the mood for pancakes and you really don’t feel like laboring over a hot skillet to make single size pancakes for a crowd, this is a wonderful alternative–a Dutch baby pancake (also called a popover pancake, German pancake, Poffertje, or Bismarck).

There are a few notable differences from a traditional pancake. The Dutch baby pancake is a bit more egg’y (similar to a crepe) and makes one large pancake that you can slice up into single servings, or just put on a plate and let everyone gather ’round and tear off a portion family style. There are many ways to spice  up this recipe. You can add your favorite fruit, chocolate, cinnamon, etc.–your imagination is the only limit. This recipe is the basic version–not too sweet, a little chewy, and makes a perfect bite for breakfast, brunch, or sometimes dessert.

An additional bonus: you will get some good use out of your cast iron skillet and clean up is a cinch!

Basic Dutch baby Pancake

Ingredients:

1/2 cup regular all-purpose flour

1/2 cup milk (I used skim, but whole or 2% will work as well)

2 eggs, lightly beaten

2-3 Tbsp butter

2-3 Tbsp powdered sugar

2-3 Tbsp lemon juice (or juice from 1/2 lemon)

To make:

Preheat oven to 425. Combine flour, milk, and eggs in a mixing bowl–beat lightly with a fork or whisk. There will be a few lumps, which is ok. Put bUtter in cast iron or other oven-proof frying pan and place in the pre-heated oven. When butter melts, carefully pour bAtter into heated pan. Return to oven and bake for approximately 20 minutes. The pancake is done when it is lightly browned at the edges and puffed. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and lemon juice. Serve immediately. Don’t worry if the pancake falls–it will still taste good 🙂

My new favorite “pancake” recipe

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Happy Zucchini Bread Day!

Today is both National Zucchini Bread Day and Administrative Professionals Day. What better way to combine the two “fun holidays” and make mini zucchini breads to take to work with you and share with your fellow co-workers! This recipe is a fun spin on plain zucchini bread. The sweet potato and adds some extra moistness and nutrition to this perfect loaf of not-too sweet quick bread perfect for sharing.

Sweet Potato Zucchini Bread

(slightly modified from epicurious.com)

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups zucchini (grated*, you can leave the peel on)–one medium/large zucchini
  • 1-2 cups sweet potato (peeled and grated*)–one small/medium sweet potato
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts, lightly toasted

To make:

*Note: To grate the zucchini and sweet potatoes, you can either use a box grater (large holes) or use a grater attachment for your food processor

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease 4 mini loaf pans (or a regular 9 x 5 loaf pan) with non-stick cooking spray. Sift flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into medium bowl. Beat sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla in large bowl until well combined using whisk or electric mixer. Stir in zucchini and sweet potato. Add dry ingredients and walnuts and stir well. Pour or scoop batter to pans. Bake for about 30-45 minutes (if using a full size loaf pan the cooking time will be approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes). Either way use a toothpick or sharp knife to test the center–when the tester comes out clean the loaves are done. Cool bread in pan on rack 15 minutes. Slide knife around bread to loosen. Turn out onto rack and cool completely.

Feel free to bake this bread a day ahead. Once completely cool, cover in plastic wrap and foil. Keep at room temperature. The mini loaves transport easily for sharing 🙂

Delicious mini Zucchini Bread Loaves to share!

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