Wednesday, March 31, 2010

What's For Dinner: Pasta with Sauteed Brussels Sprouts, Parmesan, and Pine Nuts

Back to the magazines for tonight's dinner recipe. After having recently conquered cooking an eggplant, I decided it was about time I tried out Brussels sprouts. I've never cooked Brussels sprouts before and have only tasted them once. And the only word that comes to mind to describe that taste is "nasty." Bitter and mushy, yuck! But I've seen a lot of recipes lately that feature Brussels sprouts, so I figured maybe it was just that one restaurant that didn't know how to cook them, and not actually the Brussels sprouts themselves.

While paging through some old magazines, I came upon a recipe for Brussels sprouts with parmesan and pine nuts from an October 2008 issue of Sunset magazine. I decided these Brussels sprouts, presented here as a side-dish, would make an excellent stir in for a pasta dish. Since I was making a serving for one, I cut down the Brussels sprouts to about half-a-dozen (less than 0.5 lb) rather than the 0.75 lb called for in the recipe. One thing to note is to watch the heat level of the pan you're sautéing the garlic and Brussels sprouts in; my pan was a bit too hot and led to less of a browning and more of a burning (whoops!). Luckily, I was able to salvage the dish by scraping out the blackened garlic and later added some more back in once the broth was added.

Pasta with Brussels Sprouts, Parmesan, and Pine Nuts
makes 1+ serving

1 cup pasta
~6 Brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut into quarters
2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
fine sea salt
ground black pepper
1/4 cup vegetable broth (plus more as needed)
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan (plus more for garnish)

1. Start the pasta by bringing a large pot of water to a boil. Once the water is aboil, add in a pinch of sea salt and the pasta. Cook the pasta according to the manufacturer's instructions.
2. Heat a medium-sized skillet on high heat. Add the pine nuts and toast until lightly brown and fragrant. Remove the pine nuts from the skillet and set aside.
3. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a large skillet and heat on high. Add the garlic and Brussels sprouts and saute until brown. Stir constantly to avoid burning. Reduce the heat and add in the vegetable broth and continue cooking until tender. Add more vegetable broth as needed. (I used a lot since I wanted it to serve as a bit of a sauce.) Stir in the pine nuts.
4. Once the pasta is cooked to al dente, remove it from the pasta water and add it to the skillet. Stir to combine. Season with ground black pepper and sea salt to taste. Stir in the grated Parmesan.
5. Serve on a plate and garnish with more grated Parmesan if desired.


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

What's For Dinner: Stuffed Peppers

{the stuffed peppers ready for the oven}

For tonight's dinner inspiration I looked to blogland. A few days ago Emily at The Front Burner posted about her stuffed pepper dinner. Since I had several peppers languishing on the kitchen counter, I decided making stuffed peppers would be a great way to use them up.

{a few of the colorful ingredients}

Peppers Stuffed with Quinoa and Black Beans
makes 2 stuffed peppers (with plenty of filling to spare)

1 cup quinoa (rinsed if necessary)
2 cups water
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 tomato, chopped
1 orange pepper, chopped
1 red pepper
1 yellow pepper
1 tablespoon taco seasoning
1/4 cup salsa (I used medium)
1/4 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Add the quinoa and water to a medium-sized saucepot and bring to a boil. Once the water comes to a boil, cover and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for about 15 minutes or until all the water is aborbed.
3. Once all the water is absorbed, stir in the black beans, chopped orange pepper and tomato, taco seasoning, and salsa. Set mixture aside.
4. Slice the tops off the red and yellow peppers. Remove the seeds and ribs.
5. Place the two peppers in a small loaf pan coated with nonstick spray. Add a little bit of water to the bottom of the loaf pan.
6. Spoon the quinoa mixture into each of the peppers.
7. Place the peppers into the oven and bake for about 45 minutes.
8. When the peppers are done, cover each with a handful of shredded cheddar (or pepperjack) cheese and bake for a few minutes more, or until the cheese is nice and bubbly.
9. Serve each pepper on a bed of the leftover quinoa.

{served up and ready to eat -- and oh wow, DELISH!}

Monday, March 29, 2010

What's For Dinner: Roasted Eggplant and Tomato Naan Wraps

{roasted eggplant and tomato naan (un)wrap}

I have become a bit of a magazine junkie of late--I think this week I'll try to highlight a few recipes from some of my favorite magazines. The inspiration for tonight's dinner comes from the article "30 Fast and Fresh Spring Dinners" from the April issue of Sunset magazine. The recipe that instantly caught my eye from the article was the one for Grilled Eggplant Naan Wraps with Tahini-Yogurt Dressing. Since I've never cooked with eggplant before, I decided this recipe would be a good one to start out with. I made a few substitutions (such as roasting the eggplant and tomato rather than grilling them) and additions to the magazine's recipe, and I have to say my wrap turned out rather tasty.

Roasted Eggplant and Tomato Naan Wraps
makes two servings

1 eggplant, sliced into 1/2" rounds (I cut the super-wide rounds in half)
1/2 medium-sized tomato, cut into wedges
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
pinch kosher salt
pinch freshly ground pepper
1 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup tahini
3 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon garlic, minced (about 3 cloves)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 pieces of naan
1 cup arugula
feta cheese, crumbled

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
2. Place the sliced eggplant rounds on a baking sheet. Brush each side with olive oil. Leave space on one side of the sheet for the tomato slices, which you will add after the eggplant has roasted for awhile.
3. Roast for about 20 minutes.
4. Slice the tomato half into thin wedges. Brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Add the tomato slices to the baking sheet. While the baking sheet is out of the oven, flip the eggplant rounds and brush with more olive oil if necessary.
5. Roast for an additional 10 minutes.
6. To make the dressing, whisk together the yogurt, tahini, lemon juice, garlic, and kosher salt. (Note: this recipe makes a TON of tahini-yogurt dressing; you may opt to 1/2 or 1/4 the recipe; or just save the extra and use it for a salad dressing or sandwich dressing later in the week, as I plan to do.)
7. Prepare the naan by brushing it lightly with olive oil then heating it in the oven for about 3 minutes at 400 degrees after the veggies are done roasting.
8. To make the wraps, place the naan on a plate, add a handful of arugula in the center, then add several pieces of eggplant and the tomato slices. Top with crumbled feta cheese and a spoonful of the tahini-yogurt dressing.
9. Fold the sides over to make a wrap. (I totally eat wraps with a fork, so I just ate it open-faced.)

{the roasted eggplant (half)rounds and tomato wedges}

Friday, March 26, 2010

What's For Dinner: Pasta with Broccoli and Chorizo

This past hunting season, D opted to have most of his antelope made into breakfast sausage and chorizo. Meaning -- we have a freezer full of sausage, so it's about time we started to use it up! For tonight's dinner we looked to Giada again, this time using her Everyday Italian cookbook recipe for orecchiette with broccoli rabe (or in our case, casarecce with broccoli florets). This recipe can easily be made into a vegetarian dish by replacing the sausage with soy crumbles.

Pasta with Broccoli and Chorizo
makes 2 servings

2 cups pasta
pinch salt
1/2 lb chorizo sausage
1 clove garlic, minced
pinch red pepper flakes

1. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Once the water is boiling, add a pinch of salt and the pasta. Cook according to the manufacturer's instructions.
2. In a medium skillet, brown the chorizo (about 5 minutes). Add the minced garlic and red pepper flakes, stir until fragrant (about 30 seconds).
3. Once the pasta is cooked to al dente, remove the pasta from the water (reserve 1 C of the pasta water) and add the pasta to the sausage mixture. Stir to combine.
4. Add water as needed to moisten the pasta. Finish the dish by stirring in the parmesan cheese.
5. Serve immediately.


Thursday, March 25, 2010

What's For Dessert: Ricotta Cappuccino

{the ingredients: ricotta cheese, raw sugar, espresso powder, and a vanilla bean}

Tonight's dessert was inspired by a recipe on a recent episode of Everyday Italian. Four ingredients and about five minutes later . . . dessert was done! Well, all but the chilling in the fridge for one hour part, anyway. This was the perfect dessert recipe, given that I already had all of the ingredients on hand -- a nearly-full carton of ricotta cheese leftover from making ravioli the other day, plenty of espresso powder from my foray into making tiramisu, and perhaps most exciting, a container of vanilla beans that I had impulsively put in my cart on a recent trip to Costco.

Ricotta Cappuccino (printer-friendly version)
makes 4 servings

1/2 C raw sugar
1 vanilla bean
1/2 T espresso powder
1 15 oz container ricotta cheese

1. Split open the vanilla bean and scrape out the seeds. Add the seeds into a food processor along with the sugar, and process to combine.
2. Add the ricotta cheese and espresso powder into the food processor. Blend the mixture together for one minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and then process for another minute.
3. Spoon the combined mixture into four teacups. Cover and place in the fridge to chill for at least one hour.

I opted to finish off this dessert with a little whipped cream dolloped on top:

Whipped Cream
1/2 C organic heavy cream
1/2 T confectioner's sugar
1/2 T vanilla extract

1. Chill your mixing bowl and whisk in the freezer for about 15 minutes.
2. Pour the heavy cream into the chilled mixing bowl, and whip at high speed. When cream begins to thicken, add the sugar and vanilla extract.
3. Continue to whip the cream until stiff peaks form.
4. Add a dollop of whip cream to each cup of ricotta cappuccino; use a sifter to add a pinch of cinnamon and cocoa powder to garnish.


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

What's For Dinner: Greek Pizza

While at the grocery store this morning to pick up my post-workout chai latte, I wandered around the aisles hoping for a little dinnertime inspiration. I saw some whole wheat flatbread in the bakery and decided it would make an excellent base for a Greek pizza. Since we already had feta cheese and olives in the fridge, all it took was a quick whirl around the produce section to pick up a red onion and tomato, and the plan for dinner was well underway.

Come 6p, while I caught up on dish duty, I set D to work on getting the pizza fixins' ready. After chopping up some onion and olives and slicing up a tomato, we were ready to put the pizza together. D liberally doused the bread with olive oil, then spread on the toppings, starting with the feta cheese, then the red onion, then the olives, and finally the tomato slices. We cooked the pizza in an oven pre-heated to 400 degrees for 20 minutes. We let it cool for a few minutes and then served up some slices -- really good and super easy for a weeknight dinner.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Where to Eat: Denver

D and I first visited Snooze following a recommendation from a friend who lived in Denver. We have since been back several times--and each visit is as delicious as the last. This little corner eatery, open for breakfast and lunch only, is THE place to go for Sunday brunch. Breakfast at Snooze was the icing on the cake of my birthday weekend in Denver this past weekend. When we ran past the restaurant around 10a during a morning jog around downtown, there were already tons of people waiting for tables. When we came back later around 12p, the wait time for a table was over an hour. Though we were starving, there was no question whether or not we would wait. We walked around the LoDo neighborhood (Coors Field is only a couple blocks' walk from Snooze), and the hour flew by.

On the weekend, Snooze is definitely hopping--during our recent visit the crowd skewed toward the hair-of-the-dog and hipster scene. Where's my washed-out vintage tee-shirt and funky sunglasses when I need 'em?

Snooze prides itself on sourcing ingredients from organic or local producers and everything that I've had there is delicious. Among my favorite things on the menu are the breakfast burrito (leftovers pictured above -- the burrito is HUGE) and the pineapple upside down pancakes (imagine pineapple upside down cake in pancake form -- yeah, yum!)

Snooze Eatery
2262 Larimer Street
Denver, CO 80205
Open Monday-Friday, 6:30a to 2:30p and Saturday-Sunday, 7a to 2:30p.

And, oh, wow--they're opening a Snooze in Fort Collins this April! Such a close proximity to home could be dangerous.


Monday, March 22, 2010

Where to Eat: Denver

[via Flickr]

My birthday was this past Saturday and after a leisurely breakfast of a donut with chocolate icing and coconut from the local donut shop and a chai latte from the 'bucks, we packed up and headed out for my birthday treat--dinner and an overnight stay at the Vee Bar Ranch. We were looking forward to lounging around in our creekside cabin, which featured a fireplace and several cozy rocking chairs. Unfortunately, upon our arrival we found that they had overbooked the cabin, and we would instead be staying in a plain Jane lodge room. And nary a discount in sight. So . . . D and I decided it just wouldn't do, and a change in plans was set in place. We headed back home, did a little Internet sleuthing, and found a great deal on a hotel in downtown Denver. Instead of country livin', we would be spending my birthday in the Big City. No complaints from me!

On the two-hour drive to Denver, I used my handy-dandy BlackBerry to search for Italian restaurants in the area, and out of chance happened upon Panzano [warning: their website has music]. They had me at their motto: "Chi mangia bene, viva bene." (Those who eat well, live well.) A quick search on Open Table (my fave new app) told me that they had reservations available at 9:15p, so I snapped it up, and our dinner plans were set. We arrived in the city around 8p, checked into our room at the Westin Tabor Center (big room, nice view of downtown goings-on), slipped into our fancy clothes (or, I did anyway, D pulled on his cowboy boots), and headed out to the restaurant. As luck would have it, Panzano was literally just a few blocks away from our hotel.

For a Saturday evening (albeit a little late), the restaurant wasn't that busy, and we were seated immediately. A quick look at the menu via my BlackBerry earlier had looked promising; I was even more excited about the culinary possibilities after seeing that the entire back page of the menu was dedicated to extolling their dedication to local, organic, sustainable, and naturally-raised food products and other green initiatives. Definitely a restaurant right up my alley! Our meal was top-notch, and I would highly recommend Panzano to anyone visiting downtown Denver.

We started our meal with crespelle ai funghi, or mushroom-filled crepes. The leftover fondata sauce was excellent when sopped up by the house-baked bread.

For my entree, I ordered rosemarino tagliatelle, a house-made pasta infused with rosemary and served with dried cranberries, toasted pine nuts, goat cheese, and a lemon emulsion. I think I may have to try to make something similar later this week. Really nice flavors and incredibly light. It's always nice when you finish a meal of pasta and aren't entirely stuffed to the gills!

Dustin opted to try the Bear Mountain skirt steak, served over faro with winter greens and house-cured pancetta, along with sauteed mushrooms and Gorgonzola cheese. He is now a little obsessed with this cut of meat (especially since we recently watched an episode of Barefoot Contessa that featured this same cut) -- I think we may have to try to source some from Wag's sometime soon.

For dessert we shared tiramisu (unfortunately we snarfed it down before I could get a picture) -- it was good, but admittedly not among the best we have had. One bonus was the garnish of chocolate-covered espresso beans. Yum! All in all, quite a nice way to celebrate my birthday!

909 17th Street at Champa
Denver, CO 80202
Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner (note: they also have a gluten-free lunch and dinner menu!)

Friday, March 19, 2010

What's For Dinner: Egg Salad Sandwich

I've been craving an egg salad sandwich for awhile now -- so tonight seemed as good a night as any to make one! I served the sandwich alongside some roasted fingerling potato halves and sweet potato wedges. I seasoned the fingerling potatoes with salt, pepper, and rosemary. The sweet potatoes were seasoned with salt, pepper, and curry powder. So good!

Hardboiled Eggs
Since hardboiling eggs at high altitude can be a challenge, I looked up several directions first before heading to the stove. I finally settled on the following method:
1. Place three eggs in a small saucepan and cover with cold water. (The water should be about an inch above the eggs.) Bring the water to a boil and allow eggs to boil for one minute. After one minute, remove the saucepan from the heat, cover, and let rest for 18 minutes.
2. After 18 minutes, drain the water and place the eggs in a bowl of ice water. Done and done!

Egg Salad
makes one serving

1 egg
pinch fine sea salt
pinch ground pepper
1 teaspoon plain organic yogurt (in lieu of mayo)
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1. Peel a hardboiled egg and place it in a bowl. Use a fork to chop the egg into pieces. Season with salt and pepper.
2. Add in the yogurt and mustard and stir to combine.

To construct the sandwich, I made a base layer of baby spinach on one half of a whole wheat sandwich thin, added the egg salad, and topped it all with the other sandwich thin. Yum!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

What's For Breakfast: Yogurt with Strawberries and Sliced Banana

The great thing about having yogurt for breakfast is that you can make it a little bit different every time. For this morning's brekkie, I added some sliced strawberries (another score from Costco -- seriously, they have some great prices on produce!) and a sliced banana to my plain Brown Cow yogurt. Since I bought the plain flavor, I added a generous squirt of agave nectar to sweeten it up a little bit. After taking this picture, I topped the yogurt with ground cinnamon and a scoop of homemade granola. Which reminds me, I need to make another batch!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

What's Baking: Irish Soda Bread

For St. Patrick's Day, a classic recipe for Irish soda bread, made today in honor of my Grandma Moran, from whom this recipe is from. Sláinte!

Grandma Moran's Soda Bread
makes one loaf

2 cups unsifted unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons raw sugar
2 teaspoons aluminum-free baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 tablespoon caraway seeds [optional, and personally, I opt out]
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup raisins

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2. Lightly grease either a round cake pan or use a baking sheet.
3. Wash raisins in cool water, drain well, and toss with some flour to coat. Set aside.
4. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
5. Use fingertips to mix butter and flour mixture until crumbly.
6. Stir in floured raisins and caraway seeds, if using.
7. Make a well in the center, and add the buttermilk.
8. Stir with a wooden spoon until ingredients are just moistened.
9. Turn dough out on lightly-floured board. Knead until smooth -- about one minute. Add additional flour as needed.
10. Shape dough into a ball, about 6-8 inches in diameter.
11. Place the dough in the prepared round cake pan or baking sheet. Use a knife to make a cross on the top down to within one inch of the bottom.
12. Bake 30-40 minutes or until golden brown.
13. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

What's For Dinner: Venison Backstrap

For dinner tonight we thawed some venison and had a little steak for dinner. For sides I served roasted potatoes and a spinach salad. D was in charge of cooking the backstrap, or loin (a super-tender cut). First, he heated several tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet over high heat. He then seared each backstrap steak for about 6 minutes on each side. To finish the steaks, he placed the skillet into the oven and cooked the meat for another 6 minutes. He then removed the skillet from the oven and placed the steaks onto a cutting board to rest for several minutes. He sliced the steak into thin strips for serving. I followed the same roasted potato recipe as before; I also used the same balsamic vinaigrette dressing as before, too. For the salad, I put together baby spinach leaves, dried cranberries, crumbled feta cheese, and a few cubes of sourdough bread.

Monday, March 15, 2010

What's For Dinner: Homemade(ish) Ravioli

After scoring a gigantic log (yeah . . . not the tastiest of terms) of goat cheese at Costco yesterday I decided I needed to start to put it to use immediately. For dinner tonight, I opted to make ravioli with a variety of fillings. The base filling was a mixture of goat cheese, ricotta cheese, two cloves of pressed garlic, and a pinch of salt and pepper. From this base I made three different fillings. (All-told, the filling is enough to make about 16 large ravioli; three make a nice individual serving.)

Goat Cheese and Ricotta Base Filling
3 oz goat cheese
1/3 C part-skim ricotta cheese
pinch fine sea salt
pinch ground pepper
2 garlic cloves, pressed

1. Mix together all the ingredients with a spoon. (I used my handy-dandy kitchen scale to measure out 3 oz of goat cheese.)

Base Filling + Sun-dried Tomatoes
6 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped

1. Take 1/3 of the base filling and place it in a bowl. Add half of the chopped sun-dried tomatoes and stir to mix.

Base Filling + Spinach and Sun-dried Tomatoes
remaining portion of sun-dried tomatoes
2 handfuls of fresh baby spinach
olive oil

1. Heat 1 T of olive oil in a skillet over high heat. Add in two handfuls of fresh spinach and saute until slightly wilted.
2. Remove the spinach from the heat and chop into small pieces.
3. In another bowl, place another 1/3 of the filling into it. Add the remaining portion of chopped sun-dried tomatoes and the chopped spinach; stir to combine.

Base Filling + Rosemary and Nutmeg
1 t rosemary, finely chopped
ground nutmeg

1. To the remaining portion of the base filling, add in 1 t of finely chopped rosemary and several pinches of nutmeg. Stir to combine.

Now, if I were feeling really ambitious, I would make authentic ravioli dough from scratch. However, since this is the first time I've made ravioli myself, I thought I'd take the easy route the first time around. Baby steps, right? To make my ravioli in record time, I opted to use wonton skins.

To make the ravioli, I placed a tablespoon of filling into the center of each wonton square. Then, I dipped my finger in a little bowl of water and moistened all the edges of the square. Finally, I folder a corner over to make a triangle, and made sure that the edges were completely sealed and there were no air pockets. Easy-peasy!

To cook the ravioli, I added them one at a time into a boiling pot of water, about three per batch. I boiled the ravioli for five minutes, then removed each from the water with a slotted spoon and placed each on a paper-towel lined cooling rack to drain off the excess liquid.

I served the ravioli with an artichoke pesto pasta sauce. Delish!

Finally, since I had a little bit of leftover filling, I decided to use it as topping for some crostini. Can't let the goat cheese go to waste!


Friday, March 12, 2010

Ingredient Spotlight: Spinach

Spinach is one of my favorite greens--not only does it fit in well as an ingredient in a bunch of different dishes, but it also has a lot of great health benefits. I tend to substitute spinach in most recipes that call for lettuce or other leafy greens, and also like to add it to other entrees, such as the tortellini dish pictured above. For me, the greatest nutritional aspect of spinach is that it is rich in iron--as someone who mainly eats a vegetarian diet, getting in enough iron is super-important. (In fact, I opted to add meat back into my diet (though sparingly) a few years ago after finding that my veggie-based diet, even when supplemented with iron supplements, was not enough to properly maintain my body's iron levels.)

Some health benefits of spinach:
  • It's a great source of several nutrients, including vitamins A, C, and K; calcium; magnesium; manganese; beta-carotene; and folate.
  • It's an excellent source of fiber.
  • It's a good source of lutein when served in conjunction with a fat, such as olive oil.
  • It has been implicated as a factor in the prevention of some forms of cancer, heart disease, stroke, and osteoporosis.

Sources: Women's Health magazine, Prevention magazine, NutritionData

Thursday, March 11, 2010

What's On the Side: Wild Rice with Roasted Zucchini and Yellow Squash

For this side, I took a packet of ready-made wild rice and tossed it together with slices of roasted zucchini and yellow squash. A good combination of ready-made and fresh ingredients.

Roasted Zucchini and Yellow Squash
makes 2+ servings

1 yellow squash, cut into 1/4" discs
1 zucchini, cut into 1/4" discs
olive oil
dried thyme

1. Preheat an oven to 450 degrees.
2. Place the chopped squash and zucchini on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat. Sprinkle each slice with dried thyme.
3. Roast in the oven for 15-20; flip the slices halfway through the cooking time. Remove from oven when the slices are slightly browned.


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

What's For Dinner: Roasted Vegetables Served Over Quinoa

Tonight's dinner was inspired by a recipe in a recent issue of Food & Wine. I was excited to try this recipe as I've never cooked (or eaten) parsnips or celery root before. (Long story short, both are delish!) I made a huge mess of roasted veggies, since I figured they'd make for good leftovers.

Roasted Vegetables
makes 4+ servings

6 small parsnips, peeled and sliced/halved
12 baby carrots, sliced in half
1 celery root, peeled and chopped into 1/2" pieces
1 medium sweet potato, washed, dried, and cut into 1/2" pieces
1/2 red onion, cut into 1/2" quarters
1 zucchini, sliced into 1/2" rounds
1 yellow squash, sliced into 1/2" rounds
2 tablespoons olive oil
coarse sea salt
ground black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Place all the veggies into a medium-sized baking dish. Drizzle with about 2 T of olive oil and toss veggies to coat.
3. Season with pinches of salt and pepper.
4. Roast in the oven for about 45 minutes to an hour. Stir veggies every 15 minutes. Veggies are ready when they are fork-tender and slightly browned.



Roasted Vegetable Dressing
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
3 teaspoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
ground black pepper
fine sea salt

1. Whisk together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, and Dijon mustard in a large bowl.
2. Stir in the parsley; season with pepper and salt.
3. When the roasted vegetables are ready, spoon them into the bowl with the dressing. Toss and/or stir to coat the veggies with the dressing.

Serve the roasted vegetables over a bed of quinoa. Garnish with crumbled feta cheese.


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

What's For Dinner: Porkelope Burgers

[D busy at work making ground meat for burgers]

So, let's face it, antelope is not the tastiest of meats. This probably has to do with the high amount of sage in their diet. So, following this year's antelope hunt, D had most of the meat processed into chorizo and breakfast sausage, but also saved several pounds to be made into burger at home. Because antelope is such a lean meat, we procured some pork fat from one of D's colleagues who also happens to naturally raise cattle, pigs, sheep, and goats. (They also supplied the delicious pork our caterers used to make into pulled-pork sandwiches for our wedding rehearsal dinner last fall.) The Kitchenaid mixer was put into use to make the ground meat with the help of the meat grinder/pasta maker attachment. First D ground up the antelope meat, then he ground up the pork fat, and finally to make the burger meat, he ground together a mixture of the antelope (~90%) and pork fat (~10%) together. We then used our handy vacuum sealer to seal up packages of the meat for the freezer. We kept out one package, and had a dinner of porkelope (a term which deserves all its credit to my Dad) burgers. The porkelope burgers turned out great -- garnished with a little spinach and goat cheese -- we found them to be just as satisfying as any red meat burger.

[Porkelope burger served alongside sweet potato chips
and roasted zucchini and yellow squash]

Monday, March 8, 2010

What's Baking: Chocolate Chip Snickerdoodles

Ok, so the following recipe is basically the same as the last cookie recipe I posted, except this one includes an addition of 1 teaspoon of cinnamon. But, let me tell you, that little teaspoon changes everything. Apparently, I have "discovered" the recipe for snickerdoodles with chocolate chips. Can you say heavenly? Because that's what I think they are, anyway.

Chocolate Chip Snickerdoodles
makes 18 delicious cookies

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup raw sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup Guittard chocolate chips

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a small bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon. Set aside.
3. Using an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugars until they are light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Add the vanilla extract and stir to combine.
4. Add the dry ingredients in small portions to the wet ingredients. Stir to combine between additions.
5. Stir in the chocolate chips by hand.
6. Use a spoon to drop cookie dough in rounded portions onto a nonstick baking sheet. Set each cookie about two inches apart.
7. Bake for 12-14 minutes, or until cookies have set on top and are slightly browned around the edges.
8. Remove from baking sheet and place on wire rack to cool.

Friday, March 5, 2010

What's Baking: Parmesan, Romano, and Chive Drop Biscuits

Ya gotta have biscuits with stew, right? Though we have some Pillsbury biscuits in the freezer, it's always nice to make 'em from scratch. And this recipe makes throwing together a batch or two of drop biscuits super-easy.

Parmesan, Romano, and Chive Drop Biscuits
makes 12 biscuits

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
3/4 cup organic skim milk
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup grated romano cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon chives, chopped

1. Preheat an oven 450 degrees.
2. Mix the dry ingredients together in a medium-sized bowl.
3. Stir in the milk, olive oil, and cheeses.
4. Continue to mix until the dough comes together and all the ingredients are incorporated.
5. Use a tablespoon to drop spoonfuls of the batter onto a baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the tops are browned.
6. Remove from the oven, place on a wire rack, and grate cheese over the top of each biscuit.


Thursday, March 4, 2010

What's For Dinner: Cheddar Penne with Broccolini

This entree was (heavily) inspired by a recent episode of the Rachael Ray Show. (Shockingly, no EVOO is involved.) All-told, this took about 20 minutes to pull together -- making it definitely my kind of meal.

Cheddar Penne with Broccolini
makes 4 servings

1 pkg broccolini
6 oz whole wheat penne
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup organic skim milk
1 1/2 cups white cheddar cheese, shredded
pinch coarse sea salt
pinch ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chives, chopped

1. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add the sea salt and pasta to the boiling water. Cook for about 8 minutes, then add the broccolini to the water and boil for another 4 or 5 minutes, or until the pasta is done.
2. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small sauce pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for about 2 minutes -- try to avoid letting the garlic brown. Next, whisk in the flour. Once the flour is incorporated, whisk in the milk. Continue stirring until the mixture has thickened; season with black pepper.
3. Remove from the heat and stir in 1 cup of the cheddar cheese. Set aside.
4. Drain the pasta and broccolini. Pour into a bowl and mix together with the cheese sauce.
5. Pour the pasta and sauce into a casserole dish. Top the pasta with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese. Place in the oven under the broiler and allow to cook until the cheese is melted and lightly browned.
6. Remove the pasta from the oven and top with the chives. Allow to cool for a few minutes before serving.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

What's For Dinner: Spaghetti with Olives and Italian Breadcrumbs

This meal was inspired by a recent episode of Giada De Laurentiis' Everyday Italian. (The episode seemed to be one of the rare ones without a lot of gratuitous leaning over by Giada.) Given that I was not in the mood to make a many-stepped meal, this simple-to-make pasta entree definitely fit the bill.

Spaghetti with Olives and Italian Breadcrumbs
makes 2 servings

2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup dry Italian breadcrumbs (see below for recipe)
~12 green and kalamata olives, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley, roughly chopped
whole wheat spaghetti

1. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add a pinch of coarse sea salt and the spaghetti to the boiling water. (I used a fistful of spaghetti, about the diameter of a quarter.)
2. While the pasta is cooking, heat about 2 T of olive oil in a large skillet on the stovetop.
3. Add the bread crumbs, and stir. Cook the bread crumbs until they are lightly browned, about 2 minutes.
4. Remove the skillet from the heat and add the olives.
5. After about 8 minutes (or when the pasta is al dente) remove the spaghetti from the cooking pot with tongs, and add to the skillet. Drizzle with a tablespoon or two of olive oil and stir together.
6. Add about 1/4 cup of the pasta water to the skillet and stir to combine. (The pasta-bread crumb mixture should be lightly moistened, but not mushy.)
7. Finish the pasta dish by adding the parsley to the top. Serve immediately.

Italian Breadcrumbs
makes about 2 cups

5 slices of whole wheat bread 
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/4 tesapoon rosemary

1. Preheat an oven to 300 degrees.
2. Place the bread slices on a baking sheet. Put the baking sheet in the heated oven and bake until the slices are lightly browned, about 15-20 minutes. (Constantly check the bread to ensure it does not burn.)
3. Allow the slices to cool.
4. Once the bread slices are cooled, add them to a food processor, and process until a fine- to coarse-textured breadcrumb is produced. Add the seasonings and pulse a few times to thoroughly combine.
5. Store in an airtight container. To keep for an even longer time, store leftover breadcrumbs in the freezer.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

What's For Dinner (or Breakfast!): Waffles with Vanilla Sauce

Who doesn't love breakfast-for-dinner every once in a while (or even more often!)? For dinner, we broke out my Grandma and Grandpa Moran's waffle iron to make some delish waffles for dinner. (And, we saved the extra batter to make some fresh waffles for breakfast in the morning.) To top the waffles, we supplemented maple syrup (real of course!) with some of my Grandma Berg's famous vanilla waffle sauce. A simple sauce to make, and the perfect complement to waffles fresh from the waffle iron.

Waffles (from Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook Susan G. Komen Edition)
makes 4+ servings

1 3/4 C unbleached all-purpose flour
2 T raw sugar
1 T baking powder
1/4 t fine sea salt
2 farm fresh eggs
1 3/4 C organic whole milk (you could use skim or low-fat)
1/2 C unsalted butter, melted
1 t vanilla

1. Stir together the dry ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients.
2. In a separate bowl, beat together the two eggs. Stir in the milk, melted butter, and vanilla.
3. Add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients; stir to combine. (Do not over-stir; the batter will be lumpy.)
4. Pour 1 - 1 1/4 C of batter into the center of a greased (we use canola oil spray) waffle iron. Close the lid and allow to cook according to the manufacturer's instructions.
5. When done, use a fork to lift the waffle from the iron. Serve immediately, or place on a plate in a 200-degree oven to keep warm.

Grandma Berg's Famous (and Hopefully Not Secret) Vanilla Waffle Sauce
makes 4+ servings

2 C organic milk (I use skim)
1/2 C raw sugar
2 T unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 t vanilla

1. Mix milk, sugar, and flour over medium heat in a medium saucepan. Stir frequently! (This is very important; you do not want the milk to scorch -- this may or may not have happened the very first time I attempted to make this sauce on my own . . .)
2. Continue stirring as mixture heats; bring mixture to a boil. Cook for a few minutes more; the mixture will thicken to a pudding-like consistency.
3. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Keep warm and serve over waffles immediately.


Monday, March 1, 2010

What's On the Side: Citrus-Apple Salad

This fruit salad complements most meals, or could make for a light breakfast, lunch, or mid-day snack. Citrus fruits make up the base of this salad; I opted to use a grapefruit and oranges; you could choose your favorite citrus fruits. (I think my next iteration will include a tangelo or two.) The impetus to make this salad comes from one of my new favorite food blogs, Everybody Likes Sandwiches.

Citrus-Apple Salad
makes 3+ servings

1 grapefruit
2 navel oranges
2 apples (I used a Braeburn and a Pink Lady)
1 lime
1 - 1 1/2 tablespoons turbinado (raw) sugar

1. Peel and cut the citrus fruits into sections. Be sure to remove as much pith as possible. Add into a medium-sized serving bowl. (I opted to cut the sections over the bowl to capture all the grapefruit juice.
2. Cut and quarter the apples. Add to the serving bowl.
3. Gently roll the lime on a flat surface; cut into halves and add the lime juice into the fruit bowl.
4. Stir all the fruit and juices together.
5. Add the sugar. In addition to 1 T of raw sugar, I also added about 2 t of vanilla bean-lavender sugar, another Savory Spice Shop find. Stir to combine.
6. Finish off the fruit salad by adding lime zest over the top.

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