Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Kale Chip Nachos with Chipotle Garlic Sauce and Sriracha

I was enjoying some kale chips with chunky salsa the other day, thinking about how much I loved that combination, precarious as it was to eat, when, as always, my mind drifted to other thoughts about food- particularly that I like chips and salsa, but that I love nachos more. Before I knew it, the two thoughts bouncing around in my head had found each other- I love kale chips.  I love nachos.  Surely, I would love kale nachos?

Boy, did I!  Now, I'm sure it doesn't take any explaining for you to know that if kale chips won't support chunks of onions, they certainly won't support all this madness.  But, hey- that's nothing a fork and knife can't fix.  

Nutritional yeast creates a baked in cheesiness that will keep you coming back for more

Chipotle Garlic Sauce takes these nachos to a whole new smoky level

Note:  I've been seeing a lot of blogs lately that advise to use dinosaur kale when making chips, as it has flat leaves and therefore, cooks more evenly.  This is true- but curly kale is so much tastier.  Every time I've used dinosaur kale I've ended up adding loads of salt to take away the bitterness, and the outcome still didn't hold a candle to curly kale. 

Kale Nachos

For kale chips:
1 bunch curly kale, washed, well-dried, center ribs removed
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp salt

Massage all of the ingredients into kale and bake in 400F oven for 6-8 minutes.  There is a very thin line between crispy and burnt, so if they aren't crispy after 6 minutes, check back every 30 seconds.  

For the nachos, use whatever ingredients you prefer.  I used black beans, which I heated in the microwave first.  Then I added avocado, chopped tomatoes, chopped onions, olives, green onions, sriracha, and Chipotle Garlic Sauce (below.)  Make sure you have all ingredients chopped and ready to go so the kale chips stay warm.   

Chipotle Garlic Sauce
1/4 cup mayonnaise (vegans use vegannaise)
1/4 cup sour cream (vegans use coconut milk)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp milk (vegans omit)
1 tsp ground chipotle chili powder
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt

Whisk to combine. 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Fruity Pecan Salad

Would you believe it if I told you that my workout routine is dependent on this little girl?

And yes, I make her wear those wings at all times!  Joking.  Meet Babydoll.  She's a dainty thing- only 10 inches tall, but she can run 3 miles no problem- with me huffing and puffing behind her.  Lately, though, we've had a little dent put in our routine.

Lily Loo
Momma's a little out of shape, so we had to take it easy today.  At least that's what I keep telling myself.  

It was a beautiful day outside, and the walk was followed by my favorite salad of all time.  I've been working on this dressing for years, every since I had something similar at my cousins wedding.  I've finally got it just right- it's tangy, nutty, sweet and garlicky.  It's full of fiber, so it keeps you satiated, but still feels light and fresh.  

This dressing is a serious multi-tasker.  It's great on just about everything.  My husband uses it as a marinade for steaks, and I put it on Roasted Brussels Sprouts, tofu, roasted tomatoes- you just can't go wrong with this.  
Wishing you a gorgeous day!

Fruity Pecan Salad
Yield:  One large salad

3/4 cup pecans
8 dates
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 cup olive oil
2-4 cloves garlic, minced
dash of sriracha (optional)
pinch of salt
pinch of pepper
3 cups lettuce (spring mix is best, but our store was out)
1 apple, chopped
1 cup grapes
1/2 cup onion, thinly sliced

Toast your pecans in a pan with no oil over medium heat until fragrant- 1-2 minutes.  Set aside 1/4 cup to be added to salad later and add rest to blender, followed by dates, vinegar, oil, garlic, sriracha if using, salt, and pepper.  Blend well.  Mix rest of ingredients in a bowl, drizzle dressing over it, and serve.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Dill Spinach Hummus Wrap

Hello, hello!  Did you have a happy Mardi Gras?  Did you eat lots of yummy fried foods?  I did- and boy, was I paying for it today!  My body was just screaming for something light, fresh, and green.  This wrap had me feeling like myself again in no time, and was delicious, to boot!

Dill Spinach Hummus Wrap
For Hummus:
1 can garbonzo beans, drained and rinsed
2 1/2 cups fresh baby spinach
1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tbsp fresh dill
2 tbsp tahini
2 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 tbsp water
pinch paprika
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup pine nuts (optional)
Add all ingredients except for pine nuts to food processor, streaming in olive oil as you go to help it come together.  Blend well, then stir in pine nuts.

For Wrap:
1 large flour tortilla
1/4 red bell pepper, sliced
1/4 green bell pepper, sliced
1/4 medium red onion, sliced
1/4 tsp seasoning of choice (I used Cajun)
pinch each of salt and pepper
1/2 cup chopped lettuce
1 tbsp capers (optional)

Bring medium sized frying pan to medium high heat and swirl a little olive oil in pan to coat.  Add peppers, onions, and seasonings and stir fry until softened.
Heat tortilla in microwave for 30 seconds to soften.  Spread with as much hummus as you like, then layer with other ingredients, roll up like a jelly roll, cut off ends to pretty it up, and serve.  

Monday, February 20, 2012

Curried Dill Couscous with Slow-Roasted Grape Tomatoes and Pearl Onions

I woke up this morning with the words "curried dill" repeating on a loop in my mind.  I knew that nothing would satisfy me today unless it contained those two ingredients.  

And oh, my, was I satisfied!  Please, please don't dismiss this because you see the word slow-roasted.  That doesn't mean loads of work- it simply means it will take a while, and that the flavors will be super-concentrated and amazing.  You could make the onions and tomatoes ahead of time, or the couscous ahead of time, whatever you do- just make it!  I think you'll be glad you did :) 

Curried Dill Couscous with Slow-Roasted Grape Tomatoes and Pearl Onions

For Tomatoes and Onions:
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1 cup frozen pearl onions, thawed
1/4 tsp salt, divided
1/8 tsp pepper, divided
1/4 tsp dried thyme, divided
olive oil, to coat

Preheat oven to 225.  Place halved grape tomatoes and pearl onions in separate bowls (if pearl onions are larger than tomatoes, you may have to halve them as well.  Have to halve :)  Drizzle just enough olive oil over each to coat, then sprinkle equally with salt, pepper, and thyme.  Place on foil-lined baking sheets in oven.  Remove onions after 2 hours, tomatoes after 2 1/2 to 3 (tomatoes should be dried but juicy inside, but you want your onions nice golden and plump.)

For Couscous:

2 cups vegetable broth
1/4 cup butter (vegans use Earth Balance margarine)

1/2 tbsp curry powder
dash of sriracha (optional)
2 cups couscous
2 cloves garlic, crushed
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup pine nuts
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

Toast pine nuts in medium frying pan over medium heat until golden and fragrant, shaking the pan a few times to make sure that they don't burn.  In a medium saucepan add vegetable broth, butter, curry powder, and sriracha and bring to boil, then immediately add couscous and garlic, stir quickly, and remove from heat.  Cover and let rest for 5 minutes, fluff with fork and add salt and pepper to taste, and toss with rest of ingredients.  Serve hot or cold.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Cajun Chickpea Jambalaya

A whopping 4% of the restaurants in the town next to us are Cajun.  In other words, there is one Cajun restaurant there.  Needless to say, it's a small town, but bigger than the one we live in, which boasts one Subway and a deli.  So when my parents come to visit, as they are doing today, there is a good chance that they will say, "Hey, let's go out tonight!"  And an even better chance that what that really means is "to that Cajun restaurant whose only vegetarian option is buttered noodles."  I don't think I've ever had Cajun food before, but seeing my parents and husband in such states of food bliss made me wonder what the fuss is about.  So I set about to find out for myself.

 I based this recipe off of Emeril's Cajun Jambalaya, but as you can see, I strayed from it quite a bit.  After all, what does Emeril know about Cajun food?  What makes this so good, in my opinion of course (although I hope you agree) is that each individual element is seasoned- the chickpeas, the peppers, the rice- so you get that wonderful effect of layer upon layer of flavor.  Thank you, Emeril, for a good base recipe.  But you know how it is- sometimes you just have to kick it up a notch.

Cajun Chickpea Jambalaya

2 cups rice
2 cups vegetable broth
2 tbsp cajun seasoning, or to taste
2 tbsp butter
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 cans chickpeas
olive oil for frying
2 tbsp taco seasoning
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 green bell pepper, sliced
1 medium red onion, sliced
3 stalks celery, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
2-3 cloves garlic

Cook rice according to instructions on package, substituting broth for water and adding bay leaf.  Stir in cajun seasoning, butter, and tomato paste.  Meanwhile, add enough olive oil to coat large frying pan and cook chick peas over medium high heat, stirring in taco seasoning.  Let cook for 5 minutes, then remove from pan, add a bit more oil, and add peppers, onions, celery, salt and pepper to pan.  Let cook until soft, stirring occasionally.  Add garlic, cook for 30 seconds while stirring.  Add veggies and chick peas, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.  Remove bay leaf before serving.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Beet Green and Sage Pesto Linguini with Slow Roasted Tomatoes

My husband knows me better than anyone.  He knows that as much as I love to make my own food, there will be days when that frozen pizza that I said I didn't want will be my very best friend.  He knows that I will always, always be in need of new socks.  And he also knows that when I say I don't want anything for Valentine's Day, what I really mean is that I want him to get creative.  This Valentine's Day, he showed up with a gleaming ruby red bunch of beets.  And I almost cried. The man knows how to get to me.  What you should be seeing here is a gorgeous- wait, I'm not going to tell you.  I'm working on that recipe and it will be amazing one day but right now it needs a little tweaking.  Luckily for me, this bunch of beets came complete with greens, and those greens more than made up for the disappointment their roots brought.

There's no use reinventing the wheel here.  Deb over at Smitten Kitchen's got the best recipe for slow-roasted tomatoes, ever.  Period.  So I'll just spare you a sad attempt to recreate it and send you right on down to the master herself.  Or, of course, you may just want to use bottled sundried tomatoes.  (Trust me, you don't.)

Beet Green and Sage Pesto Linguini with Slow Roasted Tomatoes

1  lb linguini
2 cups chopped beet greens, center ribs removed
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup sage leaves
1 cup fresh grated parmesan
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
1/4 tsp pepper, or to taste
2 tbsp water
1/2 cup olive oil+ more for frying
1 cup slow-roasted tomatoes

Add enough oil to coat a large frying pan and bring to medium low heat.  Add beet greens and cook until wilted.  Let cool.  Bring large pot of water to boil and cook pasta according to instructions on package.  Add walnuts to food processor and grind until fine, then add cooked greens and all other ingredients except for tomatoes, streaming in olive oil at the end.  Drain pasta and return to pot, tossing with pesto and adding in tomatoes.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Roasted Shredded Brussels Waldorf Salad with Maple Cider Vinaigrette

I have to say, I've been loving me some brussels sprouts lately.  This is my 22nd post, 3 of which have been about these little cabbages of the gemmifera sort (there's a new baby name for you, celebrities.  I know you're reading.  Okay, maybe not.)  Anyways, back to brussels- I love this salad.  It's a dream come true for women like me who can't make up their minds.  It's hot, but cold.  It's crisp, but smooth.  It's sweet, but savory.  It's....

All gone :(

Roasted Shredded Brussels Waldorf Salad with Maple Cider Vinaigrette
Yield: 4 servings

2 lbs brussels sprouts, shredded, washed, and dried
1/4 cup dried cranberries
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1 cup chopped apples (I used pink lady)
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

Maple Cider Vinaigrette

1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/2 tbsp dijon mustard
1 tbsp good maple syrup
1 tsp sriracha (optional but gives it a little something extra)
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1/2 cup olive oil

Prepare vinaigrette:
Whisk together all ingredients, streaming olive oil in at the end.  This vinaigrette is best prepared ahead of time and refrigerated a few hours to develop flavors, but it will still be good if used immediately.  
Preheat oven to 400F.
Pour shredded brussels sprouts and cranberries into a large baking dish and toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Roast for 25-30 minutes, stirring a few times.  Toast walnuts briefly in a frying pan with no oil over medium heat for 1 or 2 minutes, or until fragrant.  Pour all ingredients into a bowl and toss with vinaigrette.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Kale and Pistachio Couscous

If you are vegetarian, or even just health-conscious, then I'm sure you've heard of kale chips.  I'm not sure who first came up with the concept, but I'd like to give them a big hug.  They're fantastic, and certainly much better for you than any thing else I can think of that precedes the word "chip."  Still, there comes a point when two months of eating the same thing every day, sometimes twice a day, loses its appeal, no matter how good it is.  I created this dish with low expectations, merely a way to use up one last bunch of kale, and certainly with no plans of ever showcasing it on this blog.  But I was pleasantly surprised by it, and so thrilled to see my kids enjoy it, that I felt it had earned it's place on here with the rest of my favorites.

I am calling this a side because that's what I think most people would consider it.  But I ate it as an entree, and felt full and energetic all day.  If you are are still a little unsure of kale, I suggest only using a half bunch and leaving out the extra bits at the end, as it is hardly detectable once pureed with the other ingredients.

Kale and Pistachio Couscous
Yield: 4 sides

1 cup couscous (uncooked)
1 bunch curly kale, stems and center ribs removed, chopped
1/2 cup vegetable broth
1/2 cup pistachios
1/2 tsp salt, divided
1/4 tsp pepper, divided
1 tsp lemon
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup olive oil + more for pan frying
1/2 cup parmesan
1 small onion, chopped

Toast pistachios briefly in pan with no oil over medium low heat until fragrant.  Set aside.  In a large pot over medium high heat, add broth and toss in kale, along with 1/4 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp pepper.  Cover and cook for 5 minutes.  Remove cover and continue to cook, stirring until almost all of the water has evaporated.  Remove from heat and let cool slightly.  Blitz half of the pistachios in food processor, reserving the rest to be added later, then add in half of the kale and all other ingredients except for onions.  Process well.  Cook couscous according to instructions on package.  Add a little oil to large pot and sautee onions over medium high heat until translucent.  Reduce heat to medium, then add couscous, pureed ingredients, kale, and pistachios, and toss to combine. Let cook for 5 minutes.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Southwestern Pasta

Way back in my waitressing days, the restaurant I worked at had a pasta that I'd been itching to try.  It was called the Southwestern Chicken Pasta, although of course I'd requested to have it made without chicken.  I'd heard my customers rave about it- heck, I'd even raved about it when asked (I'm sorry customers.  It's just easier to pretend to eat meat than answer a million questions about protein.)   Anyways, when I finally tried this dish I was disappointed, to say the least.  It just didn't live up to it's potential, and that made me sad.  So I took it upon myself to give it the life it deserved.

Southwestern Pasta
Yield: 4 servings

For Sauce:
6 tbsp butter
1/4 cup flour
4 cups milk
1 cup fresh grated parmesan (any other kind will result in lumpy sauce)
1/2 cup tomato paste
1-2 tbsp cajun seasoning
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

In medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat, then whisk in flour and cook until it forms a golden paste, about 5-7 minutes.  Whisk in milk one cup at a time, then reduce heat to medium, and rest of ingredients, whisking continuously until combined. Let cook for 8-10 minutes, whisking frequently, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 10- 15 minutes.

For Pasta:
16 oz pkg rotini (or pasta of choice)
1 red bell pepper, sliced
2 anaheim peppers, sliced
1 small red onion, sliced
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
2-4 cloves garlic, minced

Bring water to boil in large pot and cook pasta according to al dente instructions on box.  In a large frying pan over medium high heat, cook peppers and onions until onions become transparent.  Add garlic, salt and pepper, and cook for 30 seconds, stirring continuously.  Reduce heat to low and cook for 10- 15 minutes until peppers and onions are fork-tender.  Add sauce and veggies to pasta and toss to combine. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Caramelized Shallot and Sage Buns

Last night an idea came to me that was so exciting that I rushed out of bed to see if it had been done before.  Fingers crossed, I hit the search button and there it was, staring me right in the face.  I was devastated, but consoled myself with the thought that just because it's been done before doesn't mean that I can't do it better. This goes out to all of you who've made caramelized onion buns.  Are you ready for a throwdown? 

To give myself an edge in this imaginary competition, I used shallots instead of onions, but before laying them on, spread the dough with my amazing multitasking mushroom sage dip/spread/filling.  I had thought about making a thick parmesan bechamel to act as the "icing," but that will have to wait until next time, as I had hungry family members who were growing impatient.  The dough is based on this recipe for 90 minute cinnamon rolls, but I made a few minor changes to make it more savory. This is definitely a recipe that will have a place at our table for years to come.

Caramelized Shallot and Sage Buns

For the dough:

3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup butter
3 1/4 cups flour
1 package instant yeast
1 tbsp sugar
1 1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup water
1 egg

Heat milk and butter in microwave for 1-2 minutes, until butter is melted .  Let cool until lukewarm.  In a large mixing bowl, combine 2 1/4 cups flour, yeast, sugar, and salt.  Mix well. In a medium sized bowl, beat together water, egg, and milk mixture and add to dry mixture.  Mix well, adding remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time.  Turn out onto lightly floured surface and knead for 5-10 minutes until smooth.  Place in greased bowl,  cover with a damp cloth and let rise in warm place for 10 minutes.

Mushroom Spread

(This makes quite a bit extra, but freezes well and can be used for just about anything- pizzas, as a warm dip, or as a filling for Stuffed Mushrooms.)

2 cups chopped mushrooms
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup walnuts
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh sage
1/2 cup parmesan
1/4 cup olive oil + extra for frying
1/2- 1 tsp black truffle oil (optional)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Coat large frying pan with olive oil and heat to medium high.  Add onions and mushrooms until onions turn translucent, then reduce heat to medium and add garlic.  Cook for just about 30 seconds, then remove from heat and let cool.  Pulse walnuts in food processor until fine.  Add cooled mushroom mixture, sage, parmesan, olive oil, salt, pepper, and truffle oil, if using, and pulse until well blended. 

For Caramelized Shallots: 

2 cups shallots, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter

Add oil and butter to medium-sized pan and bring to medium high heat.  Add shallots and let cook a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until edges begin to brown slightly.  Turn heat down to medium, and cook for 10 minutes, stirring a few times.  Turn heat to low, cover, and cook for 20 minutes.  


1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
2 tbsp melted butter


Preheat oven to 375F.
Roll out dough into a 9*12" rectangle on a lightly floured board.  Spread with 1/4 cup mushroom spread, then sprinkle caramelized shallots and mozzarella evenly over entire surface.  Roll up like a jelly roll and cut into 12 even slices.  Place in greased 8" pan and brush with melted butter.  Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown.

The gift of food

My father in law has an awesome habit of bringing gifts every time he visits.  But not just any gifts- food gifts!  (The best kind!)  On his last visit, he brought just what the doctor ordered.

Avocados are a powerhouse of vegetarian nutrients.  Not only are they chock-full of protein, but they're also high in B-vitamins, potassium, and fiber.  Here in America we're used to avocados being used in savory dishes, but in other parts of the world that's nearly unheard of.  Countries like Brazil, Indonesia, and Vietnam use it solely in desserts, such as milkshakes, ice cream, or even just plain mashed with sugar and lime.  But me?  I'll stay out of this argument and just go for both- sweet and savory.  Dinner and Dessert.

Avocado and... 


Can you tell I'm loving my ice cream maker?
Avocado and Wasabi Sorbet

27 oz regular coconut milk 
3/4 cup water
2 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 tbsp tapioca flour
3 avocados, pitted and peels removed
2- 3 1/2 tsp wasabi paste (I used 3 1/2 and got the same pleasant burn that wasabi peas give)
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

In a medium saucepan over medium low heat, combine coconut milk, water, sugar, and tapioca flour.  Stir until dissolved.  Let cool, then pour into blender with other ingredients.  Blend well, then transfer into sealed container and refrigerate 2 hours or overnight.  Then follow instructions for your ice cream maker.  Mine took 20 minutes for a soft serve consistency.  For a firmer consistency, freeze for at least 2 hours.

Monday, February 6, 2012


I've been on a bit of a garam masala kick lately, ever since I saw Lukas Volger's idea for Garam Masala Toast.   I tried making garam masala cinnamon buns, garam masala date bars, and garam masala cookies.  I was beginning to wonder what was wrong with me.  None of these recipes were turning out right.  The cinnamon buns hadn't risen enough, the crust for the date bars had cooked unevenly, and the cookies were crisp and not pillowy enough for my liking.  Turns out that this little bottle was trying to tell me something.  It had a destiny to fulfill. And it's destiny was to become...


Saturday, February 4, 2012

Panko Fried Zucchini Rollups

There they were.  Zucchinis.  Three of them.  "Why did you buy these?" I asked Frank, probably in a rude tone that was completely unnecessary.  Poor Frank.  "They were on the list," he replied.  "Why were... ohhhhh."  Right.  Today was the day.  I had made up my mind to face my bogey man.  And I had put it right there on the list, along with things that I actually wanted to eat.  Things that I would much rather spend my time cooking than... zucchini.  Shudder.  I sliced the zucchini into thin ribbons, salted them liberally, and placed them on a wire rack to drain.  I figured if it works for eggplant, it just may work for zucchini as well.  I've seen a lot of fun recipes for zucchini and cucumber rollups floating around the webosphere lately, and I wanted to give something like that a try.  But deep down in my heart of hearts, I knew that I just wasn't ready for naked zucchini yet.  It had to be... breaded... and there had to be another vegetable component, one that I earnestly enjoyed, one that could take my mind off of... the zucchini.  Enter roasted tomatoes.  I love them.  Could eat them plain.  And I even loved them in this.  In fact, I even loved the zucchini in this.  True Story.

I used Boursin in these because, well, that's what we had.  But you could use any spreadable cheese.  If you like it, then slather it on.  Now that zucchini and I have reached a common ground, I am excited to explore other opportunities in our relationship.  And I hope that you feel the same way.
Panko Fried Zucchini Rollups

3 medium zucchini, cut lengthwise to 1/4" thickness, salted and drained (directions follow)
1 pint grape tomatoes
3 eggs
1/2 tsp salt (plus more for tomatoes and zucchini)
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp pepper, divided
2 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs
1/2 cup fresh grated parmesan
1 cup spreadable cheese
vegetable oil, for frying

Place zucchini in one layer on wire rack and sprinkle with 1 tsp salt.  Cover with cookie sheet and add weights to it (I use a few heavy bowls.)  Let drain for 2 hours, then pat dry.
Preheat oven to 400F.
Add a little oil to tomatoes, then sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Roast for about 20 minutes, shaking the pan a few times, until they burst and skin begins to shrivel.  Meanwhile, heat a large frying pan filled with at least 2 inches of vegetable oil to medium high heat.  In shallow bowl, beat egg, mixing in salt, garlic powder, and pepper.  In seperate shallow bowl, mix together panko breadcrumbs and parmesan.  Dip zucchini slices in egg mixture first, letting excess drip back into the bowl, then dip in panko mixture and press to coat well.  Fry in batches of 3-4 at a time until golden on both sides, then drain on paper towels.  (Resist temptation to turn before they're ready, as this causes the panko to fall off.  You'll know it's time when the sides start to turn golden brown.)  Dot little bits of cream cheese onto the slices (I did 3 drops, about 1 tsp each.)  After a few seconds, the cheese will have softened enough that you can easily spread it without messing up the breading.  Then add 1 tomato to each one, and use toothpicks to secure.  Finish off with a little extra grated parmesan.  These are great dipped in tomato sauce or ranch. 

You know how photographs help to keep memories alive?

Ones that maybe would have been forgotten, but because we occasionally encounter them remain engrained in our subconscious?  Well, it's been over 25 years since I've eaten my mom's Goulash, but every time she cooks it my memory hits the refresh button and I'm transported back to my 4 year old self, scraping my farm animal bowl clean of every last drop.  No, I don't miss the meat, but that's not to say that I no longer crave the bold heartiness of this Hungarian stew.  I was hesitant to make this, as I was certain that it would be a pale comparison to the original.  But this dish stands on its own merits.  It's not lentils pretending to be beef.  It's lentils being lentils, swimming in a saucy broth of sweetness and spice.  It's goulash all grown up, but never forgetting its roots. 

Lentil and Roasted Potato Goulash

1 lb lentils, cooked
3 potatoes, peeled and cut to small cubes
1 medium sized onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and grated
3 red bell peppers
1/8 tsp marjoram
1/2 tsp caraway seeds
1/2 cup flour
2-3 cloves garlic
3/4 cup tomato paste
4 cups good, hearty vegetable broth
1 1/2 tbsp sugar
3/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 1/2 tbsp paprika
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400F.
Drizzle a little olive oil on potatoes and roast for 20-25 minutes, turning a few times, until golden brown and fork tender.
In large pot, bring butter and a little oil to medium high heat.  Add onion, carrot, bell pepper, marjoram and caraway seeds.  Cook until translucent, reduce heat to medium.  Add flour and stir until dissolved, then add garlic, tomato paste, vegetable broth, sugar, vinegar, and paprika.  When all is combined, add lentils, potatoes, bay leaf, salt and pepper.  Reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes to an hour.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The good news is that my kids like wheat berries

The bad news is... that my kids like wheat berries.  Today I was confronted by 2 cups of this mothergrain staring ominously at me from its gladware container in the fridge.  "Do you really want to see me again at your next diaper change?"  It taunted.  I most certainly did not.  This dish was born out of a need for something that I would enjoy, but my kids would not.  And unless I've thoroughly destroyed your appetite with that introduction, then I do believe that you will enjoy it, too.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Happy T day!

What's that?  You didn't buy your very first bottle of truffle oil today?  Well, you must!  I've pined over these little bottles for what seems like ages.  It just didn't seem right- $20 for 4 ounces of something that I'm not even sure I'll enjoy?  Well, today I reached my breaking point.  I sent my wonderful husband to the store, and as soon as he came home, started frantically rifling through the grocery bags.  What can I say?  The anticipation had built up a bit over the years.  I found a black box- so sleek!  So sophisticated!  I opened the box.  I tried peeling the foil off the cap- needed assistance from a knife here.  Okay, the foil was off.  I twisted the cap, sniffed- sighed.  Took a taste- and just about fell to the floor.  Heaven.  Flavor upon aroma upon aroma upon flavor, and all of them bouncing off one another so nicely.  It was like that scene in Alice in Wonderland, where she takes a sip of the bottle that says, "Drink Me," and experiences a myriad of taste sensations all at once.  It was the three-coursed meal chewing gum that turned Violet into a blueberry in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  It was... sensational.  I'm a truffle oil convert.  Are you ready for your baptism?

Truffled Sage and Walnut Stuffed MushroomsYield: 30 stuffed mushrooms

2 cups chopped mushrooms+ 30 stemmed large mushrooms (save stems for vegetable broth, coming soon)
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped shallots
1/2 cup walnuts
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh sage
1/4 cup olive oil + extra for frying
1/2- 1 tsp black truffle oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 cup parmesan
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 tbsp butter, melted 

Preheat oven to 350F.
Coat one medium sized pan and one large pan with olive oil and heat both to medium high.  Add shallots to medium sized pan, and add onions and mushrooms to the large pan.  Heat shallots until they just start to brown around the edges, then turn heat to medium and cook 10 minutes, stirring frequently, making sure that they don't burn.  Meanwhile, stir onions and mushrooms a few times.  When onions turn translucent reduce heat to medium and add garlic.  Cook for just about 30 seconds, then remove from heat and let cool..  After cooking shallots for 10 minutes at medium, turn heat to low and cover.  Pulse walnuts in food processor until fine.  Add cooled mushroom mixture, sage, olive oil, salt, pepper, and truffle oil.  Process well.  Pour into bowl, add shallots and parmesan, and stir to combine.  Use a pastry brush to lightly coat mushrooms with just a touch of butter, enough to make them shine.  Pour the rest of the butter into the panko breadcrumbs and mix to coat.  Stuff mushrooms so that they're overflowing a bit with blended mixture, then top with panko.  Cook for 20-25 minutes, until panko is golden and mushrooms are slightly browned.