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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Green Beans with Lemon Vinaigrette and Sliced Almonds


I know this might sound crazy to some of you but It’s been warm here in the southwest, warmer than usual. To compensate for the heat we are now walking in the early mornings. Today we decided to drive out to one of the outlaying Mountain preserves to check out the wildflowers and do a little hiking.


On our way home we decided to stop at the market. This time of year the farmers in our area are harvesting both fall and spring veggies. As I was getting ready to check out I saw a large basket of green beans. I know green beans sound so everyday but after breaking one in half and tasting it I could not resist, they were so tender and fresh. The hardest part was deciding whether to keep them raw or to cook them, in the end I decided to blanch the beans and prepare a dressing. Serve this vegetable side dish for your Easter brunch or dinner.

The lemon vinaigrette adds a fresh tang and will help break up the heaviness of any meal.

Ingredients:

1 pound green beans (trimmed and halved)
1 stalk fresh garlic (use just the white part and finely chop)
1 lemon (zest and juice, need 3 tablespoons juice)
3 tablespoons Extra Virgin olive oil, divided
1/8 teaspoon dried mustard
1/4 teaspoon honey
1/4 cup slivered roasted almonds
Salt and pepper

To prepare:

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add beans and cook 3 to 4 minutes until crisp tender. Stir a few times to make sure beans cook evenly. Check by tasting, cook until you get the desired result. (I like mine just cooked so they are a little crunchy) Remove from heat, drain and then plunge into a large bowl of ice and water. Drain and set aside.


In a medium sized bowl whisk together the lemon zest, juice, olive oil, dried mustard and honey. Season to taste, salt and pepper.

In a large heavy skillet add remaining tablespoon of olive oil, then add fresh garlic. Stir occasionally about a minute or so.


Add green beans and cook about a minute to lightly warm.


Transfer beans to serving dish and toss gently with vinaigrette. Garnish with sliced almonds.


Enjoy!





Sunday, March 15, 2015

Flower Child Scramble


A couple of weeks ago my husband and I went out for breakfast. It was the first week-end in a long time that we had no actual plans. I almost felt like I was on a mini vacation. Saturday morning we woke up, went hiking and then decided to try The Henry, a new restaurant in Scottsdale. The décor was fairly masculine, kind of like Mid Century Modern meets Victorian meets office. It is touted as a neighborhood restaurant where friends and family can gather and grab a cup of coffee or a complete meal. The menu is pretty eclectic; there are traditional dishes, great salads, sandwiches and even Heirloom quinoa tacos. I ordered the flower child scramble and it was delicious. Simply put it was organic eggs scrambled with mushrooms, butternut squash and kale.

I thought the best way to recreate this recipe would be to prepare each vegetable separately. The butternut squash was peeled, cubed and roasted, the mushrooms sauteed in olive oil with a little Marsala wine added at the very end. The kale was sauteed and then ½ cup of water was added to help cook it down and make it a little softer. I scrambled the eggs by themselves and then added the ingredients and garnished with fresh Parmesan cheese.

Ingredients:

Extra Virgin Olive oil
1/2 butternut squash (peeled and cut into small dice)
2 large kale leaves (stem removed and cut into thin slices)
1/2 cup water
8 ounces cremini mushrooms (wiped clean and cut into quarters)
2 tablespoons Marsala wine (or cognac, white wine would be great too)
6 eggs (whisked together, medium bowl)
Salt and pepper
Fresh Parmesan for garnish

To prepare:

Preheat oven to 400°

In a medium sized oven proof dish place prepared butternut squash pieces and 1 tablespoon of olive oil, mix together with hands, or a large spoon. (Whatever works best for you). Bake for 25 minutes, stirring squash halfway through. Remove from oven, set aside.


Next the kale, in a medium size skillet on medium high heat add olive oil, then kale and cook stirring frequently until wilted, add 1/2 cup water and cook down until water evaporates and kale is soft, remove from pan and set aside in a small bowl.


Now for the mushrooms, in the same skillet on medium-high heat add a tablespoon of olive oil, then place mushrooms in skillet and stir occasionally, when mushroom get to the point that they start releasing moisture; about 5 to 8 minutes. Turn down heat a little and add wine. Stir mushrooms until wine evaporates, remove from heat.

In a large non-stick pan on medium heat, add 1 tablespoon olive oil, when pan is hot add eggs, stirring gently. Here you want the eggs just cooked. Remove from heat add the squash, kale and mushrooms.


Gently mix together, top with fresh Parmesan. Serve with a side of fresh fruit. Enjoy!



Thursday, March 12, 2015

White Beans and Savoy Cabbage with Chicken Sausage


The first time I prepared this dish was about 4 years ago after receiving Heidi Swanson’s cookbook in the mail “Super Natural Every Day". I followed the directions and ingredient list to the letter. It was simple to make, somewhat hearty and perfect for the cold winter day. As time went on I began making simple changes to this dish depending on what I had on hand and what was available seasonally. As with most of her recipes the ingredients used are mainly whole and natural and many of her recipes can be used as a sort of template or as she states in her introduction as “starting points”.

This time I stir fried the potatoes, removed them from the skillet and then added back the potatoes and the chicken sausage at the end. This step made for a more crispy potato (crouton) atop the beans and cabbage. Also I used savoy cabbage instead of the regular and sliced it a little thicker. You could also swap out kale or chard for the cabbage and add quinoa or farro for even more flavor. Have fun with this dish.

This recipe has been adapted from Heidi Swanson’s book, "Super Natural Every Day".

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons canola oil
1 large russet potato (peeled and diced small)
Sea salt
1 clove garlic (minced)
1 - 15 ounce can white beans (rinsed and drained).
1 medium savoy cabbage (sliced 1/4 inch)
1/4 pound chicken sausage (sliced 1/4 inch thin)
Grated Parmesan, for garnish

To prepare:

Preheat oven to warm.

Add canola oil to a large skillet over medium high heat, place diced potatoes in pan and let sit. Saute; stirring every few of minutes, about 8 to 10 total. Remove potatoes from skillet and place in a heat proof dish in the oven on warm until the rest of the dish is done.


Add sausage and cook one to two minutes until lightly browned, remove from the pan, set aside in a separate dish. Now back to the skillet; add the beans and let cook until just browned; about 3 to 4 minutes, add in garlic and stir another minute longer.


Place cabbage in skillet over the beans and with a pair on tongs, gently mix together; cook until wilted. Serve with potatoes and sausage in the center family style. Garnish with Parmesan cheese. Enjoy!










Wednesday, March 4, 2015

No Bake Chocolate Almond Oat Bars


I could not stop eating these bars. I ate them day and night for almost a week, my husband only had one. Best yet there is no time in the oven. Almond butter, butter and honey are melted together in a saucepan and the remaining ingredients are added. They will need some time in the fridge.

The raisins and rolled oats contributed to the texture of the bar making them a little chewy. Here you could sub out cranberries, dried cherries, blueberries…pretty much any dried fruit your heart fancies. Have fun with these bars, I did……Now off to the gym!

Recipe is from Martha Stewart Living

Ingredients:

1 cup almond butter
1/3 cup honey
1 stick butter (unsalted)
2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup almonds (roasted and rough chopped)
3/4 cup raisins
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate (rough chopped)
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

To prepare:

Prepare an 8 inch square pan by coating pan with cooking spray. Line with parchment paper leaving a few inches of overhang on all sides.

Begin by melting almond butter, honey and butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Stir frequently, about 5 to 7 minutes until mixture is completely combined.


Remove from heat and add remaining ingredients, stirring until chocolate has melted and well combined.


Spoon into prepared pan and refrigerate until chocolate hardens. I waited about 6 hours. Cut into bars.

Makes about 2 dozen.


Saturday, February 28, 2015

Cottage Cooking Club February Three Recipes

We are now in our tenth month of the Cottage Cooking Club; a group of bloggers cooking together and then posting our experiences along with the Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's cookbook, "River Cottage Veg". Our group is and has been inspired by our dedicated leader Andrea of the The Kitchen Lioness. Every month Andrea picks one recipe from each of the ten chapters. We then pick and choose which one or ones we want to blog about in a single post. I prepared 3 of the 10 recipes chosen and once again was impressed by the simplicity and flavor of each finished dish.


The first recipe I prepared was the cheesy peasy puff turnover. Prepared is really an over statement here as this was so easy to put together.


Basically the puff pastry is filled with frozen peas and white cheddar (or the cheese of your choice), next it’s folded over, sealed and then baked in the oven. The kitchen smelled wonderful and as the time came to pull the turnover out of the oven, we gathered around.


Soon after we cut into slices and devoured this little gem in one sitting. A real crowd pleaser.


Avocado and pink grapefruit with chili was my second dish and I would definitely make this again and again. We have a pink grapefruit tree in our yard and I'm always on the lookout for recipes. The two main ingredients go so well together, this was light and delicious.


The last dish I prepared was the potato rosti and another big winner in my book. It definitely reminds me of our American hash browns. The potato is quartered, then boiled for about 5 minutes, here you want the potato slightly underdone. Next it is refrigerated, making it easier to grate. I really liked this technique and will be using it next time I make something like this. I caramelized an onion beforehand and added it into the grated potato. I served with this with sliced green onions on top.

Recipes adapted from the River Cottage Veg, by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. First recipe; from the chapter "Store-Cupboard Suppers" Cheesy peasy puff turnover (page 220). Second dish from the chapter "Raw Assemblies"Avocado and ruby grapefruit with chilli (page 122).  And last but not least; From the chapter "Side Dishes" Potato Rösti (page 391).

To see what recipes the other members chose for this month, head over to the LYL post for December on the CCC website, by clicking clicking here.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Seeded Buckwheat Cookies


It was the title “Seeded buckwheat cookies” that first caught my attention. I was perusing through the February 2015 Bon Appetite magazine and immediately bookmarked the page. This recipe appealed to me for so many reasons. The biggest being the use of the buckwheat flour. The first time I used this ingredient I prepared Buckwheat pancakes with cardamom syrup and fresh peach slices. Since that moment I have been hooked on the wonderful earthy and nutty tasting flavor. On top of that one cup each of ground pecans and regular all-purpose flour are added to the mix to create a delectable and delightful cookie base.

The dough can be made up to a few days before hand or if you have most of an afternoon free you will have enough time. The dough is a bit delicate and has to be chilled two separate times and rolled out between layers of parchment paper to prevent it from sticking. Powdered sugar is used in the base of this recipe and whipped with butter about 4 minutes until light and fluffy. Two teaspoons of granulated sugar are then mixed along with the “seeds” to be sprinkled on the tops of the "cookie" right before baking in the oven.

Ingredients:

1 cup pecans (toasted)
1 cup buckwheat flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling out dough
1 cup room temperature unsalted butter
2/3 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons white sesame seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons black sesame seeds

To prepare:

Place pecans, buckwheat flour, salt, baking powder and 1 cup all-purpose flour in food processor and pulse until pecans are thoroughly ground.


Beat butter, powdered sugar and vanilla on medium high speed until light and fluffy. (I used my standing mixer) about 4 minutes. Mixture will turn white and silky. Reduce heat to low and add dry ingredients. (Just enough to combine).

Divide dough in half, form into a disk and then wrap each half in plastic wrap. Chill at least 2 hours until firm.

Working with one piece at a time, roll disks of dough between two sheets of lightly floured parchment paper to keep dough from sticking, about 1/4 inch thick. Transfer to a baking pan, then remove top parchment sheet. Freeze another 30 minutes.


While dough is chilling, mix in a small bowl, the granulated sugar and the black and white sesame seeds.

Preheat oven to 350°

Using a sharp knife cut out 2 inch squares or diamonds from dough and place on baking sheet. Sprinkle with sesame mixture.


Bake until golden brown around the edges, 10-12 minutes. Enjoy!

*As a side note buckwheat is not a grain but derived from the seeds of a flowering plant and gluten-free.*

Recipe has been slightly adapted from Bon Appetit magazine, February 2015.





Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Root Veggie Tarte Tatin


A tarte tatin is really an upside down tart. On Wikipedia I found a story that centered around a hotel that was run by 2 sisters, and as fate would have it their last name was Tatin. One day the older sister; the one that did most of the cooking make a mistake. She had started an apple pie but had overcooked the apples. Desperately she tried to rescue the dish by adding the pastry dough to the top of the pan and baked the entire “pie” in the oven. After baking she turned the tart out upside down…… and as the story goes the guests loved it. Fiction or not I like to believe this is what really happened even though no recipes were actually written by either of the sisters.

This tarte tatin was a wonderful surprise. It’s a comforting dish that is both sweet and savory. The flaky crust works well with the combination of roasted veggies. Really, it makes this dish with it's contrast in texture. Makes for a great vegetarian meal and a great way to clean out the fridge.

Recipe has been adapted from Bon Appetit, February 2015 edition.

Ingredients:

2 medium Yukon Gold potatoes (peeled, cut into 1/2 inch rounds)
1 large sweet potato (peeled, cut into 1/2 inch rounds)
2 medium carrots (peeled, cut into 1/2 inch rounds)
3 medium turnips (peeled, cut into 1/2 inch rounds)
1 large red onion (cut into 1/2 inch rounds)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage
4 ounce goat cheese
1 sheet pie or puff pastry dough
flour (enough to roll out dough)

To prepare:

Preheat oven to 400°.

Toss veggies with olive oil, salt and pepper on a large roasting sheet.


Roast until tender and golden around the edges, 30 to 40 minutes.


In the meantime, prepare the caramel topping. Cook sugar and 2 tablespoons water in a small sauce pan over medium-high heat. Stir mixture every minute or so to keep mixture cohesive, approx 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat, add vinegar, a pinch of salt, and then stir to combine. Pour caramel into the bottom of the 9 inch pie dish. Sprinkle rosemary and sage over top.


Arrange veggies in even layers, using carrots and turnips to fill in the spaces. Scatter onions and goat cheese. Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface approx 12 inches round total. Drape over dish and tuck in. Prick dough all over with a fork.


Bake approx 20 to 25 minutes until crust is golden brown. Set on a cooling rack 5 to 10 minutes until set. Invert and cut into slices. Enjoy!