Monday, September 28, 2009

Roasted Corn Pudding in Acorn Squash

I can't take any credit for this blog post as I completely ripped it off from 101 Cookbooks (see the recipe and more pictures here).

But as soon as I saw the title and photo I knew I was going to try making it myself. Because is there anything that screams "fall" more than squash? OK, other than football, chili, apple crisp, scarves, and crunchy leaves? Didn't think so.

The recipe is VERY easy, but it takes a lot of time. First, you have to bake your squash for 30-40 minutes to start to bake it, then you add a corn/milk/egg mixture and bake for another 30 minutes. So if you are very hungry, this is probably not the recipe you want to start right now. However, if you have about 90 minutes, you too can sit down in front of this gorgeous plate of autumn goodness.

The recipe can be found at the link above. I didn't have anise seed so I skipped that part and I would recommend adding more salt than the recipe calls for. Other than that, it's a straightforward and simple recipe. I had a lot of corn filling left over after filling my 2 squash halves so I filled up 3 greased ramekins (the kind I use for chocolate lava cakes). Oh wait - you may not know about my chocolate lava cakes quite yet....that post will be coming soon, I promise!

I enjoyed my beautiful squash dish with some simple steamed kale - shallot and garlic sauteed in olive oil, add kale and 1/4 cup water and cover and cook for 3 minutes or until tender. Add a splash of fresh lemon juice, kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to finish.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Tomato and Corn Pie

I've been waiting weeks to make this recipe, but it's just been too hot. And, even though it was still 75 degrees and humid today I threw caution to the wind and cranked up the oven. Because I have read about tomato and corn pie on just about every food blog out there this summer. Don't believe me? Here are just a couple of blog posts that have been taunting me with this recipe in recent weeks:
Obviously, the tomatoes ripen sooner in whichever state these blog writers live, so I've had to wait patiently until the bounty started rolling in Minneapolis. Today was finally the day that I got to make this recipe and I've been looking forward to it all day long. My favorite blog lately is Smitten Kitchen so I used her recipe nearly exactly (my only substitution was using whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose).

I'm not gonna lie, this is a putzy recipe that I will probably never make again. As you've been able to tell from prior posts, I like simple and quick meals. There were lots of steps involved in this pie - they're not difficult steps, but they take time. I'm just not that excited about making dough - unless it's a simple kind you can use a hand mixer for (like for popovers or profiteroles). That being said, this dough had only a couple ingredients and came together pretty simply.

The fun part is layering all the ingredients in the pie crust.

Here is what the pie looked like after being removed from the oven, all nice and golden:

And a lovely slice ready to be eaten!

I've read that this tastes even better room temperature or cold so leftovers should be perfect for lunch tomorrow.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Roasted Tomato Sauce or Soup

The tomato express keeps on rolling through my kitchen. I was brave enough to turn on the oven today after feeling a nice breeze wafting through my windows. And I had a giant tub of gorgeous roma tomatoes just begging to be used. And basil and bell peppers. Also, at the farmer's market I saw a tub of the cutest baby shallots and for $2 that I couldn't resist buying.

So, I'm about to give you a recipe for the Easiest. Pasta Sauce. EVER. Seriously. You will thank me later because you will never again need to buy a jar of spaghetti sauce at the grocery store. And the secret to this sauce is roasting. Roasting is simply throwing something in a hot oven and letting it sit for awhile. Even the biggest kitchen dolt can handle this, I swear. I learned about the wonders of roasted tomatoes in the Jones kitchen for our annual labor day roasted salsa weekend. This is also where I learned how to remove tomato skins!

So with roasting, the peppers get a nice char on them, the garlic and shallots become soft and deep-flavored, and the tomatoes get so sweet, you'll think the final sauce has got some other fancy secret ingredients. The best part about this recipe is that you can honestly eliminate any of the ingredients you don't like - as long as you keep the tomatoes - and it still tastes great. Even just plain roasted tomatoes will be awesome on your pasta or pizza. Also great about this sauce - the thick consistency. As anyone who's tried to make a fresh stovetop pasta sauce knows, tomatoes are FULL of water and make for a runny sauce. Not so with roasting. The sauce is thick and rich and oh so delicious!

The only thing that makes it a little tricky is removing the tomato skins but you can certainly skip that step if you want to - I have before and it doesn't change the awesome flavor of the sauce. To remove tomato skins, slice an X into the top and drop them in a pot of boiling water for 1 minute. Remove to a bowl of cool water and the skins will peel right off.

Roasted Tomato Sauce (for pasta or pizza)
A lot of tomatoes, cut in half or fourths - skins removed (optional)
2 Red or Yellow Bell Peppers, seeds removed and cut into big chunks
A big handful of baby shallots (or a cut up onion), skins removed
1 whole bulb of garlic, remove skins from all the cloves
1 tsp salt
Fresh cracked black pepper
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Fresh basil, optional

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Put tomatoes in a big roasting pan (I used a pyrex cake pan). In another pan, put your garlic, shallots, and bell peppers. Cover all the veggies with a generous amount of olive oil, sprinkle with salt, pepper, crushed red pepper flakes. Throw in the hot oven for 40 minutes or until everything is soft and sort of charred on the edges. Mash up everything with a fork or potato masher (or an immersion blender would be perfect here) and add fresh basil. I threw it into my food processor for a couple quick pulses. VOILA! Pasta or pizza sauce!

Roasted Tomato Soup
Make sauce as described above
Add vegetable or chicken stock to desired consistency
Heat on stovetop until hot
Optional: reduce some cream in another pot until thick and add to soup for extra richness
Optional: add other veggies or roasted mushrooms to make the soup healthier and chunkier

Enjoy with a grilled cheese sandwich and glass of prosecco or champagne!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Huevos Rancheros and Pico de Gallo

Woot! This is my 100th post! I'm super proud to have posted pretty regularly for 9 months and I've got a renewed energy to keep on posting. Today I stocked up on tomatoes at the farmer's market and I have a few recipes up my sleeve that I'll hopefully share soon!

In the meantime, I have 2 recipes to share. The first is a basic pico de gallo, aka salsa fresca. This is one of my favorite condiments! The original recipe I'm sure is 1,000 years old but I found instructions on Smitten Kitchen. And you can swap out the tomatoes for any other fruit such as mango, peach, or pineapple for a fantastic accompaniment for fish. The recipe below can be done by dicing or mincing the ingredients finely - or, if you are lazy feel free to throw everything in a food processor and pulse until chopped.

Pico de Gallo (aka Salsa Fresca)
Red onion
Jalapeno (I used 1 regular jalapeno and 1 serrano)
Juice of 1/2 lime
1/4 tsp salt
Big handful fresh cilantro
Optional - fresh sweet corn cut from cob

Once you have your pico ready to go, you can work on the rest of the Huevos Rancheros. I used the recipe from (again!) Smitten Kitchen and loved it. The next time I make this, I will poach or fry the egg separately and char the tortilla over an open flame, rather than mess with the skillet and the egg flip - which I am not skilled at.

Huevos Rancheros
Corn tortillas
Cheddar cheese, grated
1 egg
black beans
pico de gallo (aka salsa fresca)

Follow the instructions on the Smitten Kitchen site to cook the tortilla, add cheese and egg. Flip once and make sure yolk is still runny. Serve with beans and pico de gallo.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Summer Quinoa Salad

This is just a bunch of leftovers from the furthest corners of my fridge thrown together and it tasted great for lunch!

Summer Quinoa Salad
Quinoa, cooked per package instructions
Tomato, diced (mine were bright orange gifted to me from Jodi's garden)
Feta cheese, crumbled
Leftover grilled zucchini
A good glug of red wine vinegar
A drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Eggs Poached in Tomato Sauce

Oh hi there Green and Lean readers! I hope you haven't given up on me. I still have a few more posts up my sleeve before we hit Dec 31 so I'm not abandoning you yet. I've just been pretty slow...must be due in part to my old(er) age. Yep, that's of Monday I'm no longer 30. I'm now IN MY 30's. Ick. Well actually, not ick - it's really been pretty great. So, all the birthday excitement combined with unseasonably HOT September weather has resulted in nothing new from my kitchen.

Today it was only 77 degrees (and not upper 80's). Don't get me wrong, I'm certainly NOT complaining about hot weather. I'm merely suggesting that cooking in an un-air conditioned tiny house is not palatable on warm days, and therefore this blog suffers. But the slight respite from the heat today gave me the motivation I needed to go for an extra long walk and make a green and lean dinner.

I have to talk a little bit now about tomato sauce - which is one of my favorite things to eat in the fall. Homemade tomato sauce is really super easy and SO much better for you than those jars in the store loaded with sodium, sugar, artificial flavorings, and preservatives. I have a couple great recipes for tomato sauce that I'll share when it's cool enough to turn on the oven (yes, I'm such a tease!). In the meantime, tonight I used some frozen sauce I'd made last year. It's filled with lots of garlic, crushed red pepper, and basil - pretty traditional yet still tastes fresh from the garden because I used in-season tomatoes before freezing.

Also, just because I love tomato sauce, it doesn't mean I love pasta. In fact, I'm really lukewarm on pasta. Bread and I, however, have a mad passionate love affair. So, I usually just like to soak up my fresh tomato sauce with bread. Tonight I needed some protein to go with my tomatoes and bread....and eggs seemed the perfect solution. I poached my egg right in the little pot of simmering tomato sauce - it's an ingenious way to cook up a tasty little dinner if I do say so myself.

The finished dish includes the following components: grilled ciabatta bread, fresh spinach that wilts as soon as the hot sauce hits it, rich and delicious homemade tomato sauce, a poached egg, and grilled zucchini. And to top it all off, a light dusting of finely grated parmesan cheese - or as Zack calls it, "angel hair."

Which reminds me of my favorite exchange with Zack on Easter morning when we made our breakfast strata and I used my Microplane to finely grate some parm:

Zack: It looks like angel hair.
Me: No, I think it looks like rabbit fur [because it was Easter, duh]
Zack: Don't say that! It's like we killed the Easter Bunny!
Me: Oh, you're OK scalping an angel, but you can't touch the Easter Bunny?

Eggs Poached in Tomato Sauce
Tomato Sauce, preferably homemade
Eggs, 1 or 2 per person
Grilled bread
Fresh Spinach
Parmesan cheese

Heat the sauce in a pot on the stove. When simmering, crack an egg into the sauce and cover and cook for 4-6 minutes, until your desired doneness. Put grilled bread in a shallow bowl or on a plate, top with a handful of fresh spinach, then place poached egg on top and ladle the hot sauce over the whole plate. Dust with parm and serve with grilled zucchini and chilled rose wine.

Update: I just googled "eggs poached in tomato sauce" and I found this fabulous post by one of my favorite food blogs - Smitten Kitchen - on the same topic. I highly recommend you look at her gorgeous photos and get inspired to make this meal for yourself!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Rainbow Rollup

Again, I find myself suffering from a lack of creativity lately. Late summer is difficult for cooking. I continue to eat the same things over and over again because there is such an abundance of certain things (tomatoes, corn, basil). So I've been enjoying plenty of Mexi-Hippie Chow with Quinoa, Fresh Salsa/Pico de Gallo, and Caprese Salads. Not a whole lot of exciting stuff there for blogging about.

However, I did make a lovely little Rainbow Rollup that's so simple and colorful that I thought I could make a post out of it. This could be an appetizer or a light lunch, and in fact, I have enjoyed it as both in the past few days. This post was my inspiration - and it shows how great this recipe is if you are trying to feed kids. Because really, who doesn't want to eat a rainbow?

I first made it because it makes a great portable, light, and healthy appetizer that I wanted to bring to the cabin for Labor Day weekend to share with a crowd. I was worried that the tortillas would get soggy but it held up really surprisingly well!

The Rainbow Rollup appetizer was successful with the Labor Day crowd and I had some leftover veggies and cream cheese so I made another whole one to bring to work for lunch today. It was delicious. The best thing about these is that the possibilities are endless! Think of all the colorful veggies out there - you could really make your rainbow a million different ways.

Now, there are probably a lot of ways I could make Rainbow Rollups healthier. First, the tortillas - I used regular white ones because I just haven't found a wheat tortilla that tastes good. I thought about wheat Flat-Outs, but they are too thick. So maybe this isn't the healthiest option, but I figure the amount of colorful veggies offsets this. Also, cream cheese isn't considered "whole food" in my unprocessed food plan. But as readers of this blog know, I don't deny myself anything as long as I don't eat bad foods in excess. So, I'm OK with a little cream cheese.

Rainbow Rollups
Giant flour tortillas
8 oz. cream cheese, softened (use full-fat for full-flavor!)
1 spoonful Hellmann's real mayo
salt, pepper, and fresh or dried herbs (such as basil, parsley, thyme)
red veggies, diced finely (I used red bell pepper)
orange veggies, diced finely (I used grated carrot)
yellow veggies, diced finely (I used yellow squash)
green veggies, diced finely (I used zucchini)
blue or purple veggies, diced finely (if you can find them! I added sliced black olives to my lunch wrap today, not quite purple but close enough)

Mix the cream cheese, mayo, salt, pepper, and herbs and spread a thin layer on a tortilla. Add rainbow veggies and roll tightly.

For an appetizer, slice into pinwheels.
For a light lunch, roll up like a burrito or wrap and pack into your lunchbox.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Heirloom Tomato Pizza

Okay, while this will not win me any awards for creativity, it looked pretty and tasted good so I deem it worthy of a blog post. In addition, it took about 20 minutes from start to finish so it's pretty convenient on a beautiful September weeknight after a killer walk with some good (and hungry) friends.

I bought a variety of heirloom tomatoes in red, green, and gold, sliced them thin and layered them on a wheat pizza crust coated with freshly made basil pesto (see previous post for pesto recipe).

Then top it with thin sliced fresh mozzarella, grated parmesan, salt and pepper. I always add crushed red pepper flakes when the pizza is piping hot from the oven.

Heirloom Tomato Pizza
whole wheat boboli pizza crust (or make your own if you have time and energy)
homemade or store bought basil pesto
heirloom tomatoes, thinly sliced
fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
grated parmesan
salt and pepper

Spread the pesto on the crust, top with tomatoes and cheese, sprinkle with salt and pepper and bake for 10 minutes or until crust is crisp and cheese is melted. Serve with a field green salad lightly dressed with balsamic vinaigrette, and white wine.