Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Middle Eastern Delights: Falafel, Tzatziki and Baba Ganoush

School must have started, because all of a sudden its been nearly two months since my last blog post and summer has slipped away. This meal, a combo of three recipes, was something I intended to have on the blog in summer, when cucumbers are cool and perfect, the garden is brimming over with parsley and tomatoes, but a las, for those of us who live in cooler climates, we will have to rely on grocery store veggies. This meal is really pretty simple and quick. Its a great week night meal or great for entertaining.

Just to fill you all in on my whereabouts, I started a new job a month ago. I am back to teaching Middle School Spanish, and am really enjoying it. Starting a new job is always a learning curve. I have had a lot to catch up on and a lot to do to stay afloat. Zsuly started Kindergarten too. She is doing a Spanish Immersion program, which is fantastic. She comes home every day singing a new song in Spanish. Of course, I still am not allowed to speak to her in Spanish though. During the afternoons I am darting around, bringing her to swim lessons or ballet class. Trying to sneak in a run here and there, get enough sleep and cook healthy meals for the week. My blog is still on my radar, it just might be a little vacant until the slowdown of winter sets in.

The foliage here in Maine is just reaching peak. Driving to work has changed from an intense pallet of green to a watercolor canvas, splashed with fiery oranges, yellows and reds. Apple season is bountiful. I think I have collected at least 40-60 pounds of apples just from trees around town. Some have been crispy, juicy, eating apples, others were great in pie, apple sauce, and salads. We have also made pear and apple cider in the press the last two weekends. Sunday's dinner was Butternut Squash and Apple Soup, topped with crispy kale and pumpkin seeds. Filling and tasty. So perhaps this will be my last summer-like recipe, perhaps not.

Falafel

Ingredients



  • 1 can garbanzos drained and rinsed
  • 3 small cloves of garlic
  • 1 small red onion chopped
  • 3 tsp. cumin
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro
  • 1/4-1/2 cup fresh chopped parsley
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 3 Tbsp. flour
  • Olive Oil for frying
Step 1: Pat the chickpeas dry with kitchen paper. Pour into a food processor, add  the onion, garlic, parsley, cilantro, spices, lemon juice, flour and salt.  Blend until fairly smooth. If the mixture seems to soft add a little more flour. Using your hands, either roll the mixture into small balls or shape into  patties. 

Step 2: Heat the oil in a non-stick or cast iron skillet. Cook the falafel balls or patties about 3 minutes on each side, or until brown and crispy. You can crisp them up a bit in a 375° oven for 5-10 minutes. 

Step 3: Serve with warm pita bread, sliced tomatoes, lettuce, feta cheese, Kalamata olives, Tzatziki sauce and Baba Ganoush. (see recipes below)


Baba Ganoush 
Adapted from the minimalistbaker.com

Ingredients

  • 1 medium eggplant
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 large clove or garlic
  • 2 tbsp. tahini
  • salt
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil to drizzle over top
Step 1: Wash the eggplant and poke a few times with a fork. Either in a 375° oven or on the grill, cook the eggplant until it is soft, the skin starts to brown and it gets oozy. If on the grill the skin can char a bit. 

Step 2: When the eggplant is well done, let it cool. Cut the eggplant so that you are able to scrape out the flesh. Place in a food processor and add remaining ingredients, except the oil. Blend until smooth. Adjust salt, tahini, and lemon juice to taste. Transfer to a bowl or sealable container and drizzle with the olive oil. 

Tzatziki Sauce
adapted from greek.food.com

Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cup greek yogurt (I like Fage)
  • 3 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 large cucumber, skins and seeds removed
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh dill and or mint
  • freshly ground black pepper
Step 1: In a food processor, blend together cucumber, lemon juice, garlic, herbs, salt and pepper. When well blended, transfer to mixing bowl. 

Step 2:  Stir in the yogurt and mix well. Allow to chill for 1-2 hours. Stir well before use. 




Monday, August 24, 2015

Mango Lassi

As summer vacation is drawing to a close, I feel this twinge of sadness and a bit of choking anticipation as I know it will soon be time to say goodbye to summer. Warm days soaked in sunshine. Flowers spilling forth from my garden. Fresh veggies grown with sweat and love. Sleeping in until 7:30, an ultimate luxury. Sitting and sipping my coffee instead of gulping it down as I run frantically around the house, constantly looking at the clock. Long outdoor runs, which fill my lungs with the sweetness of bloom and the saltiness of the bay. I reflect on how summer is a time I truly recharge my soul and stock up on energy reserves to get me through the rest of the year. Its crucial. I let the sweetness and tartness of foraged fruits like plums and blackberries, linger a bit longer on my tongue, knowing that the sun kissed sweetness fades just a bit in the freezing and canning process. I also feel gratitude that there is at least another month of warm days, flowers, gardens and two months of outside time, before that nip of frost gets inside my veins. This summer has been a great one. Its surely filled me with self reflection and new goals. 

Sweetness and sunshine can truly be found in this easy and satisfying Mango Lassi Recipe. Im excited to have stashed some frozen mango chunks away in the freezer for a colder day. When things are crazy busy and I need to transport myself to those summer moments or that warm tropical island that I am relaxing on inside my head. 

Ingredients

  • 2 ripe mangos, cut away from pit and scoop out the fruit, careful not to get skin
  • 1/2 cup fat free or low fat plain greek yogurt (I like Fage)
  • 1/4 cup of milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • lots of ice cubes
  • optional (1 tablespoon+ honey) 
Step 1: In a blender or Vitamix, blend fruit until pureed. 

Step 2: Add ice cubes and blend until smooth

Step 3: Add yogurt, milk and vanilla, blend until smooth

Step 4: If desired, add honey

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Mediterranean Sandwich

This summer I have realized that I eat a lot of sandwiches, regardless of whether it is lunch or dinner. I pack them full of veggies and protein and sometimes serve them with a small side salad or soup and know that I am getting a pretty robust and healthy meal. 

This is pretty much the last remaining post from my grilling posts I started back in July. It uses the same marinade and steps to grill the zucchini, summer squash, eggplant and sweet bell peppers. I grill them ahead of time, let them cool and then store them in an air tight container in the fridge. Or if I want a hot sandwich, prepare them right off the grill. 



Ingredients
~makes about 4 generous sized sandwiches

  • 2 medium zukes, sliced lengthwise
  • 1 small yellow squash, sliced lengthwise
  • 1 medium eggplant, sliced into 1/4" rounds
  • 1-2 colored peppers, washed, cut in half with seeds, membranes and stems removed
  • marinade from my grilling post
  • ciabatta or focaccia bread (focaccia is made with a lot of olive oil, keep this in mind when thinking about the fact that the veggies themselves contain a lot of oil)
  • fresh mozzarella cheese, feta or goat cheese
  • pesto or hummus and/or olive tapenade
  • arugula 


Step 1: Once the veggies are cut, marinade according to the link above

Step 2: Grill the veggies until they are as well cooked as you desire. 

Step 3: Here is where you can get creative and make a number of combinations for sandwiches. Decide what you want as a spread for your sandwich: pesto or hummus with olive tapenade. Decide what kind of cheese you would like. Here are some of my favorite combos 
     Fresh mozzarella with pesto (follow link to my nut free pesto recipe) 
     Feta cheese with hummus and olive tapenade (Trader Joe's offers decent versions of both)
     Goat cheese with fresh dill 

Step 4: Spread the bread with your choice of smear and then layer on the veggies, cheese and arugula. If you want a hot sandwich, stick the sandwich open face under the broiler for a few minutes or grill them in a George Foreman to make a panini. Also great served cold on a hot summer day. 

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Banh Mi: Vietnamese Sandwiches

Lunch Done Right

This is a post that I intended to get up way back in February. 

I was first introduced to the amazing Banh Mi sandwich when visiting my best friend in Seattle. For five bucks we got the perfect mid afternoon lunch, created by an amazing combination of flavors and textures, picante, salty, cilantro. It was sooooo good! I couldn't believe I had never had one before. 

I got to thinking about how easy they must be to make. Tested my theory and true, super simple. The pickled veggies, called Do Chua, is part of what makes the greatness of the sandwich. So I too was inspired to make my own. Below are the two recipes.





Do Chua: pickled diakon, carrots and cabbage       

Ingredients

Makes about 3 cups

  • 1 teaspoon salt 
  • 2 teaspoons plus 1/2 cup sugar 
  • 1 1/4 cups distilled white vinegar
  • 1 cup lukewarm water
  • 2-3 carrots peeled and sliced thinly or cut into matchsticks
  • 1-2 diakon, no larger than 2 inches in diameter, peeled and prepared like the carrots
  • 1/2 green or napa cabbage cut into long pieces
  • 1 hot cherry pepper

Step 1: Place the carrot and daikons in a bowl and sprinkle with the salt and 2 teaspoons of the sugar. 
Step 2: Using your hands, knead the vegetables for about 3 minutes, to release the water from them. When they are somewhat softened and there is liquid at the bottom of the bowl, stop kneading. The daikon should be soft enough that the ends touch but the daikon does not break when bent in half. The vegetables should have lost about one-fourth of their volume. 
Step 3: Drain in a colander and rinse under cold running water, then press gently to expel extra water. 
Step 4.  In a 1 quart ball jar, make the brine by combining 1/2 cup sugar, the vinegar, and the water and stir to dissolve the sugar. 
Step 5: Transfer the carrot and daikon, along with cabbage and hot peppers to the jar of brine. The brine should cover the vegetables.Place the top on tightly and gently shake the jar from side to side to assure the veggies have all been coated. 
Step 6:  Let the vegetables marinate in the brine for at least 1 hour before eating. They will keep in the refrigerator for up to 4 weeks. Don't be alarmed if they begin to smell quite pungent. 
Note: You can add a number of veggies to this recipe. Try shallots or salad turnips too. 
 Adapted from vietworldkitchen.com

Banh Mi 

Ingredients 
  • Soft rolls, such as Portuguese rolls
  • cucumbers, sliced
  • 1 jalapeño, sliced thin, seeds removed
  • cilantro leaves, washed 
  • chopped scallions
  • marinated tofu, pork or beef sliced thinly (marinate using my teriyaki or bourbon marinade found under sauces label)
  • Do Chua (pickled veggies) 

Step 1: Marinate and prepare the meat  or tofu accordingly. 

Step 2: Slice a small wedge out of the top of the roll or cut a slit into the side of the roll, but not all the way through. 

Step 3: Place the tofu/meat in the roll, layer with the pickles, cucumbers, jalapeño, cilantro and finish with the scallions. 

Step 4: Eat and savor that flavor and how you just created an awesome, simple healthy lunch! 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

This has been one of those Maine summers that totally makes you fall in love. The weather has been perfect. Warm sunny days, sapphire skies filled with cotton candy clouds. On the water, the light shines so brightly, it makes each wave and ripple look as though they are crested with silver. 

I got a week to myself for the first week of August, while Zsuleikah was getting some good grandparent bonding time. I was really looking forward to some solitude and quiet. My first night solo, I headed up to Eustis, to sleep lakeside in Cathedral Pines Campground on Flagstaff Lake. It had been years since I had been up that way, and don't think I ever realized how incredibly beautiful it is. There had just been a rain storm earlier in the evening and fog was creeping its curling tendrils through the blue mountains and over the gray glassy lake. Daylight was closed with an incredible line of fire squashed between the cloud layer in the sky and the steadfast mountains. Reflecting pinks and purples on the water. As night creeped in, I built myself a fire to take off the chill of the dampness.  The blue moon rose quietly over the island speckled lake, as a loon family called back and forth to one another and the water lapped the sandy shore.

The next morning, I greeted the world with the rising sun, soaked in the peaceful morning and packed up camp to head to Mount Bigelow. Beauty surrounded me from the start of the trail. A bubbling brook seeping into Stratton Brook Pond, green mountains behind, green grasses reaching to the blue sky. My feet hit the ground and I began to clip along the Firewarden's Trail. About a mile and a half from the top, large moss covered boulders
positioned as stairs invited me to the summit, teasing me with tiny glimpses through the trees of the views that were awaiting me. When I reached the top of Avery Peak, my tired quads enjoyed resting on the windy mountain top, surrounded by a 360 degree view of Sugarloaf Mountain, Little Bigelow, Crocker Mountain and Flagstaff Lake. I continued on the trail toWest Peak, through miniature fairy forests on to South Horn and North Horn, eventually winding my way down to Horn Pond, and the rest of the way down the mountain. It was a little slice of 15 mile alpine heaven. It took me exactly 8 hours, reaching the car at 4:45 tired and accomplished. Before ending the day on the couch with two movies, I spent dusk meandering through my parents enormous garden with a cold beer in my hand, munching on green beans and peas, before finally grilling up some zucchini and tomatoes and tossing them with garlic, fresh basil and cream cheese into a huge bowl of pasta.  


I spent much of the next day harvesting food from my parents enormous garden. Cilantro, zucchini and squash, lettuce, blackberries, raspberries and blueberries. Before heading back to Portland with a cooler full of veggie loot, I picked an enormous bouquet of Queen Anne's Lace, Black Eyed Susans and Golden Rod. 

If you grow a garden like I do, then you are probably asking yourself during this time of year, "what do I do with all this zucchini?" My squash is just starting to come in, but I know it is a matter of days before I start asking that question.  Its the plant that once it starts, it just keeps on giving. I'll get back to the zucchini in a minute, but first want to share a bit this summer's experience in Maine.I make a lot of dishes using zucchinis. I love a Zucchini and Tomato Melt on a hot day. Zucchini Egg Casserole, Zucchini Enchiladas with Salsa Verde. And of course, if you have seen my posts about grilling, grilled zucchinis are super versatile. Since we also have a sweet tooth in our
household, baked zucchini goodies are also a favorite. I had always been used to traditional zucchini bread, which I love too. Then my friend Claire introduced me to these delicious chocolate muffins. She was always whipping them up as a treat in the summer whenever we were over. When I finally asked for the recipe, I was excited to see that aside from the amount of sugar, they were fairly healthy, made with a whopping two cups of zucchini and whole wheat flour. 


Ingredients 

  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 cup cane sugar
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 eggs at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips (regular fine too)
  • 2 cups grated zucchini, drained (if its super watery, drain well, a tiny bit of water will keep muffins moist) 
  • Non-stick spray for muffin tins if not using paper liners
Step 1: Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare muffin tin (spray if not using paper liners) 

Step 2: Whisk together dry ingredients (first six ingredients on list)

Step 3: In a large bowl whisk together the eggs, sugar, then oil and vanilla. Beat slowly to combine. 

Step 4: Add dry ingredient mixture to wet ingredients, mix until just blended. 

Step 5: Add zucchini and chocolate chips, mix until just combined.

Step 6: Spoon into prepared cups 3/4 full. Bake 15-20 minutes. You can check for doneness by inserting a toothpick, if it comes out clean they are done. Or if the top of the muffin is just barely sticky and springy, it is done. Let cool completely on a baking rack. 

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Nothings Perfect Peachy Pie

Peach Pie: Striving For Balance Not Perfection

I had to make a little play on words with this post, because I am one of those perfectionist people. At least with most things. Its a lot of pressure trying to make things come out perfect all the time. I was recently reminded of my perfectionism working on a laborious project, trying to iron out every wrinkle, only to find a trail of wrinkles behind me, wanting it to be absolutely symmetrical. Snapping at my friends who were helping. 

Personal life scenarios also throw it in my face all the time. This past week has presented some serious ups and downs for me and also reminded me, life isn't perfect, no matter how hard we try and control the situation to make it that way. It's those imperfections that allow us the space to grow and learn, as hard as they might be sometimes. I am confronted with my perfectionism in the kitchen as well. Feeling disappointed when the texture, taste, color, presentation isn't exactly what I had envisioned. Of course, striving for greatness is a positive thing. It gives us reason to keep improving ourselves, our products, our relationships, etc. But we will never reach perfection. 

With the difficulties this week, have also come triumphs. I received news that I have been awarded a full scholarship to start a Yoga Teacher Training in October! Achieving balance, different than achieving perfection. This has been something I have wanted to do for ten years! The timing was never quite right, but I felt like now was the time, and success. I am trying to shift things in my life, career wise, as well as in other areas too, and I think this will be the perfect blazer at the start of the trail. 

I feel like I have been living on fruit this summer, at least fruit mixed in with other sumptuous yummies. What better time of the year than too spend most of your grocery budget on fresh fruit. Sometimes in Maine, getting good fresh fruit can be difficult and for years seemed near impossible. Since we are so far North and East, our fresh peaches and other stone fruits come much later in the season than other places across the country. But I have been quite impressed by those I could get at the supermarket. And not to mention, but the mangoes have been out of this world! Two fruits that make me very happy!


So with all that juicy peach eating, I am making a peach feed. Get ready for a lot of recipes featuring the fuzzy fellas. Peach salsa, Peach Caprese Salad, Salad with Honey, Goat Cheese and Fresh Peaches. Oh Yum! 


This peach pie recipe was from Two Peas and Their Pod. I made a few slight alterations and would probably add ginger to it next time. Especially considering Zsuleikah didn't like it anyway. I don't think she likes the texture of cooked peaches. With the extra crust we made her a little hand pie. I can include the directions to that below. Super easy, low sugar and aside from the buttery crust not so terrible for you. 



Ingredients 

Pie Crust
  • 2/12 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk, cold
  • 1-2 tablespoons water, cold
  • 1 small egg, beaten, for the egg wash
  • Turbinado sugar, to sprinkle on top of the crust to give it that sparkly look
Filling
  • 8 cups sliced peaches, skin removed
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (this includes cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, clove, cardamom and lemon zest)
  • 3-4 tablespoons cornstarch, depending on how juicy your peaches are
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
I never have buttermilk on hand, and it seems silly to buy the large container that they sell in the store, when you never use that much. So here is a way to make buttermilk at home.   

Combine 1/2 cup of milk (I used 2%)  and 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice (you can also use white vinegar) Let stand at room temperature for 5-10 minutes. And voila! buttermilk. 


Step 1: Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Mix it well with a wire whisk. Add the cubed butter and toss with your fingertips to coat each cube in flour. Using a pastry cutter or two knives, mix the butter into the flour until it is nearly the consistency of very course cornmeal, it will be quite flakey. Chill in the freezer for 15 minutes. 
Step 2:  Remove from freezer and add the buttermilk. Use a spoon and then your hands to stir the mixture until it comes together into a ball. If it is too dry, add the water a tablespoon at a time. Divide the dough in two. Place in ziplock bags or wrap in plastic wrap and flatten into disks.  Chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour and up to 3 days.
Step 3. While the dough is chilling, make the peach pie filling.  In a large bowl, combine peaches, sugar, spices, cornstarch, and vanilla extract. Gently stir until mixed well. 
Step 4. When ready to roll out, let the dough rest at room temperature for five minutes. At this time you should preheat your oven to 400 degrees. On a lightly floured surface, use a rolling pin to roll out the dough into a rough 13 inch circle. Dough should be about 1/4 inch thick. Transfer dough to pie dish. Fill pie with peach filling. Repeat with the second disk of dough. You can cut the dough and make a lattice over the filling. I used small cookie cutters to make different shapes to lay over the filling, but the juiciness of the pie made them a little soggy. Or you can you can just lay the rolled out dough over the top and cut a few vents with a sharp knife. 
Step 5. Fold the edges of the top and bottom crusts together and use your index fingers and thumb to pinch into a pattern. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. 
Step 6. Bake in a 400 degrees oven for 45 minutes or until the pie is bubbly and the crust is golden brown. My fruit wasn't notice bubbly, but I believe this was due to the type of crust I put on top. Let the pie cool completely on a wire cooling rack before cutting. And of course, best served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. 
To make the hand pie. We rolled out the remaining dough. I spooned in some greek yogurt into the center on one side, sprinkled on a handful of blueberries, and a little sugar and folded over the dough. Then fold up the edges of the dough and press with your fingers or fork to seal. Lastly, cut some steam vents into the top. There was plenty of egg wash left to brush with the egg wash. 


Thursday, July 23, 2015

Grilling Part III: Ginger Bourbon Glaze for Mushrooms, Tofu, Pineapple, Salmon and More

Ginger Bourbon Glaze

On my first grilling post, I used this recipe for tofu, mushrooms and pineapple. I planned to have it be a bourbon glaze, as the original recipe calls for, but we were  out of bourbon, and instead of being bothered to run to the store again five miles away on the 4th of July, I subbed fresh pineapple juice for the bourbon. This is a recipe my mom came across, I think in a newspaper clipping or something to that nature. That recipe, made with the bourbon, too, has been tried and true. It is amazing on salmon! This recipe was so darn good, I am salivating just thinking about it. Can someone please cook this up for me for dinner tonight?! 
Ingredients: Original recipe is intended for 8, 6 oz. salmon filets. It can also be used for chicken breasts or pork tenderloin. As I said above I have also used it for the vegetarian items listed below. The recipe makes enough to glaze for the amount I have listed. 
  • 1 small container of Crimini mushrooms, washed with stems removed
  • 1 container of extra firm organic tofu, drained and cut into thick slices
  • 1 whole fresh pineapple, with peel trimmed and core removed, cut into slices
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 6 TBSP bourbon (you can also sub pineapple juice from the pineapple here) 
  • 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 TBSP lime juice
  • 2 tsp fresh, grated peeled ginger
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
Step 1: Combine all the ingredients in a medium size mixing bowl, and mix well.  Layer  a large sealable leak proof container first with mushrooms, then tofu, then the pineapple. Pour the bourbon mixture over the mushrooms, pineapple, and tofu. Cover the container tightly and slowly mix by turning container up and down. 

Step 2: Let marinate in the fridge for at least 2 hours, mixing every 30 minutes or so. 

Step 3: When you are ready to grill, remove the items from the glaze. Place the mushrooms tops down on the grill. Place the other items on the grill and cook all over a low or medium-low flame. The mushrooms may need longer to cook than the tofu and pineapple. You will know the mushrooms are done when they are soft and slightly shriveled. Remember to flip the pineapple and the tofu, this is not necessary with the mushrooms. As this was all vegetarian, I also made a reduction by cooking down the left over glaze in a skillet on the stove. That way I could pour it over the veggies and tofu for a little added yum. 

See my other grilling recipes to accompany this main staple and make a real feast of vegetarian delights!

Note: If using this for salmon, you can make it on the grill, skin side down. Or you can make it in the broiler. Place salmon filets on a cookie sheet with an edge, skin side down. Pour remaining glaze over the fish. Cook in the broiler until flesh of salmon begins to separate just slightly. (about 7-12 minutes). Finish by sprinkling with sesame seeds and sliced scallions. 


Grilling Part II: Grilled Chipotle Lime Sweet Potato Coins

Grilled Chipotle Lime Sweet Potato Coins 

I think of summer as endless time, where I can get things done and get ahead of myself a bit. But then when it arrives, I am reminded of how busy I always am. Trying to soak up the goodness of it's warmth and rays. Taking advantage of its sweet bounty, berries, fruits, veggies. Getting in fun time with my daughter. Keeping up a steady exercise routine and finding a moment in the middle to relax. All these things seem to leave little time for blogging. 

This recipe is really  simple and can be made either on the grill or roasted in the oven. Again, I don't have exact ingredients for the recipe, as it involves just mixing together a few things, just enough to coat the potatoes. 

Ingredients

  • 2-4 sweet potatoes (depending on how many you are feeding), washed, scrubbed and cut into coins (circles)
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves
  • juice of 1-2 limes ( I like 2 to make it zesty)
  • 1 large clove of minced garlic
  • 1 tsp. (or more to taste) chipotle flakes
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil (about 3-4 tablespoons or enough to coat)
  • salt and pepper to taste
Step 1:
In a sealable container, place the sweet potato coins, pour all ingredients over the top, in no particular order, but doing the olive oil last. Cover and shake well so that the potatoes are well coated with the sauce and ingredients are well mixed. Set aside to sit for an hour on the counter, or if more time, in the fridge. 

Step 2
If grilling, place potatoes on grill and cook over a low flame. Cook on each side for 5-7 minutes (depending on grill it could take longer). If you have extra sauce, you can brush it on with a grill or pastry brush. You will know they are done when there are nice grill marks and the potato itself has browned slightly on both sides and are softened.  

If roasting in the oven cook in a preheated oven at 425. Cook about 15 minutes on each side. 

This is a great side with fish, meat or other veggies. 

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Summer Means Its Time to Grill

Grilling I: Lemon and Garlic Veggies or Chicken

You will never hear me complain about how it is too hot in the summer. Maybe too hot to cook, but never too hot. I dream all year about nights of tossing and turning, sheet half on half off, because its warm and muggy. Afternoon cumulonimbus clouds, building to create thunder storms that make you jump even though you've heard thunder millions of times before. The magical sounds of the cicadas buzzing in the trees. Hot sand underfoot at the beach. Eating just a little too much ice cream. I'm the kind of girl who tries to spend as much time outside as possible. So grilling is that perfect excuse for spending more time out of doors. I just purchased my first propane grill this spring and have come up with some great recipes that have gotten the thumbs up from friends and family. For the Fourth I did a lot of marinating and grilled up quite the vegetarian feast. These marinades work great on chicken too.  I mostly grill veggies, as I stick to a mostly vegetarian diet, and because they are so versatile. Great for dinner and excellent leftovers on a sandwich for lunch. I find that with marinating, a lot depends on personal taste, so none of these measurements are perfectly round or exact. This post will also be organized a bit differently from my other posts, as far as steps for cooking. 


Veggie or Chicken Lemon and Garlic Marinade

I use this marinade on eggplant, zucchini, asparagus, bell peppers and chicken. Of course the more herbs you add to it (keep in mind how the flavors of the herbs meld and their intensity) the more flavorful it will be. 

Ingredients

  • Veggies for grilling, see suggestions above
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Fresh squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons or more)
  • salt
  • pepper
  • oregano
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
To prepare zucchini or summer squash, I cut it into thin slices lengthwise, I find this cooks the best and is easiest to grill. For eggplant, I cut in 1/4-1/2 inch thick rounds. Keep in mind that eggplant can get really dry grilling. It also soaks up a lot of oil, and this gives it the best flavor and consistency. You might want to marinate your eggplant separately, and increase the olive oil. Asparagus doesn't need any special preparation, nor does it actually need to marinate. Just toss it in the ingredients for the marinade before grilling. For the peppers, they need to be cut in halves and have the seeds and membranes removed. 

To make the marinade, place the prepared veggies in a leakproof storage container. In a 2 cup measuring cup squeeze 2 lemons (more if using a large quantity of veggies). Remove any seeds. Whisk in about a 1/4 cup of EVOO. Add garlic, salt, pepper and any other seasonings. Whisk ingredients well. Now pour the mixture into the storage container over the veggies. Cover and shake to coat all veggies. If marinating for more than an hour, refrigerate and shake frequently. If you are not marinating the veggies longer than an hour, you can leave the container at room temperature. Once your grill is fired up, place veggies at an angle on the grill and cook on a low to medium-low heat. The thing about grills, is each one is different, so you just need to get to know your grill. Turn once the veggies start to wilt or brown. Pay close attention, so that you don't burn the veggies. Zucchini and squash will cook faster than eggplant. I like to let my eggplant cook on a low flame until it gets almost mushy. Remove carefully from grill. When grilling peppers, I cook until there is a good char on the skin, and remove the skin before eating. 

On the next grilling post I will include my recipe for Pineapple-Ginger and Bourbon Mushrooms and Tofu. And another will have the Chipotle Lime Sweet Potatoes. Also to come my grilled veggie sandwich recipe. Man, I've got a lot of work ahead of me. 










Thursday, June 25, 2015

Because sometimes life is a peach...apricot...plum breakfast cobbler

Stone fruit season is one of my favorite...well who am I kidding. I've probably said a million seasons are my favorites at this point. It is hard to come across good fresh peaches in the northern most state of New England at this time of year. But, I lucked out surprisingly with some from the grocery store. I thought instead of muffins, I would mix it up a bit and do a spin on breakfast treats. I pretty much tweaked the recipe from food52.com, one of my favorite foodie sites and feeds. 

Ingredients 

Serves 8




Fruit Mixture 

  • pounds peaches and apricots, peeled, pitted, and cut into slice, with 1 peach, plum and apricot sliced in half with pit removed set aside
  • 1/3 cup turbinado sugar
  • teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons cornstarch
  • teaspoon salt
  • Generous pinch of ground cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice
Cornmeal Biscuit Topping
  • cup whole wheat flour
  • 2/3 cup cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup turbinado sugar
  • teaspoons baking powder
  • tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2/3 cup 2 % milk 
  • 1 egg beaten 
  • Turbinado sugar, for sprinkling over top

Step 1Preheat the oven to 375° F. 

Step 2: Gently toss peaches and sugar together in a large bowl and let sit for 5 minutes. The peaches will release some juices and become syrupy.

Step 3: Drain juice from peaches and reserve 1/4 cup of the juice (you can throw out any remaining juice). In a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the reserved peach juice, lemon juice, cornstarch, salt and cinnamon until smooth.

Step 4: Mix peaches and juice mixture together in a bowl, and then transfer to the cast iron skillet (or baking dish) Set aside.

Step 5: For the biscuit topping, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.

Step 6: Add the butter and use your fingertips to rub the butter into the dry ingredients, working quickly, until the butter pieces are about the size of lentils. 

Step 7: Beat the egg and the milk together and add it into the flour mixture, mixing gently until the dough comes together.  If the dough seems too dry, add a splash more of milk. The less the dough is worked the better. 

Step 8: Using a large spoon, drop the dough over the fruit mixture, leavings space between each spoonful as the dough will expand in the oven. Press the fruit halves that you have set aside into the spoonfuls of dough, brush dough with milk and sprinkle dough and fruit with sugar. 

Step 9: Bake the cobbler for about 35 minutes, until the filling is bubbly and the topping is golden brown. Cool for a few minutes. This is best served warm with a scoop of greek yogurt, or if you want to indulge whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.  

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Strawberry Spinach Salad with Fresh Peaches and Mint

Hello Self, Its Nice to See You Again

When the weather finally gets warm and beautiful in Maine, I can't be bothered with being inside, its still so novel. My summer clock has already been set, which means I am up until midnight and awake when the sun rises. If only I actually could get out of bed with the sun, haha, my days would be much more productive. After my energy and animo have been dormant for the past 5 months, its as though a switch has been flicked back on, the drip of motivation has been increased and I feel zest for life again. Things seem okay, I don't feel the need to escape to warmer places, fictional settings, or live vicariously through the characters I grow so close to with marathons of Netflix episodes. May has been a blessing of warm and sunny weather. I've been running the Back Cove regularly again, beach combing in South Portland, and working on my hugely improved and expanded urban garden. 
My new garden

 I even just purchased my first propane grill! I've already used it three times. BBQ chicken dinner one night, grilled zucchini, Eggplant and Red and Orange peppers made amazing sandwiches for work this week, and Friday night Sockeye Salmon with Chipotle Sweet Potato Coins, ahhh! So amazing! Had my iPhone camera been working, that probably would have been the most recent post, but due to a damaged battery, leading to a replacement phone, I couldn't get more than a few seconds of usage out of it. Maybe I will have to make that my next post. 



So yay to the first real rainy day! Rain made my Sunday ambition inspire me to make naan to go with one of my bimonthly staples, curried lentils. Well this is my second attempt at yeast breads with the same batch of yeast in my pantry and it just didn't rise. The yeast must have been old. So that post is just going to have to wait. Monday ambition, cleaning the house for three hours! I found a new component of my vacuum cleaner, and cleaned it out. I thought the thing was shot, as it had been spitting all the dirt back out. But oh baby, that was some fine suction I got, and some super clean floors. Yeah, sometimes its really the small things. 

As this post has taken me a total of three days from start to finish, its Tuesday and the third day of rain. I am not feeling so good about yesterday and today's high of 48 degrees  and am more disappointed to find most of the seeds that had sprouted in my garden bed drowned. Not to mention the squirrels have eaten off all the leaves of my pumpkin plants. I put a net over all my beds, but they still find their way in. After I found the last two plants chewed, I sprinkled cayenne pepper on everything. If you know how to keep those tree rats away, please leave it in my comments. 

If only the rainy days meant I had time to catch up on posts. I have so many posts on my Instagram account awaiting a blog post and recipe. With time, only two and a half weeks until school is out! 

So here is to a non complicated, don't have to wait for the dough to rise, find it in the fridge recipe, a simple salad, and really, its great for this season, as strawberries and baby spinach start to fruit from the early summer ground. 

Ingredients 

This is a substantial serving for one or enough for a side salad to serve two
  • Organic baby spinach
  • 5-6 fresh mint leaves, washed and sliced into ribbons
  • 1-2 fresh ripe peaches, washed and sliced
  • 6-8 fresh organic strawberries, washed, greens removed and sliced
  • candied pecans or dry roasted slivered almonds
  • crumbled goat cheese or feta cheese
  • Maine Maple Syrup
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
  • Balsamic Vinegar or freshly squeezed lemon or orange juice
Place spinach in a bowl or on plate. Next place the sliced strawberries and peaches. Sprinkle the roughly crushed candied pecans or slivered almonds on top of the fruit. Sprinkle on the cheese over the nuts. Drizzle with a Tablespoon or so of EVOO,  1 teaspoon or so of maple syrup, and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar or the citrus juice. Top with the fresh mint and serve. Cracked pepper and salt optional. If you have a flavored gourmet balsamic vinegar, this would be really nice with the salad. 


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Curried Vegetable Tortilla Pizza With Cilantro Dressing

This is such a quick, easy and tasty meal. I am always in a rush to get dinner made, so I was super excited about creating this recipe. I came up with this recipe around the Super Bowl. I wish my photos did it more justice, don't judge the book by the cover on this one. Things have been so busy, and with the weather getting warmer, and days getting longer, I just haven't found as much time to work on my posts. I have so many recipes that I need to get up. I'm looking forward to getting around to it and I miss working on my baby.

Tomorrow we are having a wellness fair at school for both students and sta
ff. I will be teaching a cooking workshop, showing how to make sushi. I have a boat load of rice cooking and cooked in my kitchen right now. I hope it all goes smoothly!

Curried Vegetable Tortilla Pizza 

Ingredients
  • half of one eggplant cubed
  • 2 small red potatoes, scrubbed and cubed
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup of cubed butternut squash
  • Shredded mozzarella, jack and cheddar cheese mix
  • pesto (optional)
  • soft flour tortillas
  • olive oil
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon curry powder, depending on personal preference
  • 1 can great white northern beans
  • salt
  • pepper
  • basil
  • oregano

All the veggies should be cubed to relatively the same size cubes. I made mine about 1/4 inch cubes.

In a skillet add 2-3 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil, heat slightly, add the potatoes and eggplant.  You may need to adjust, as eggplant and potatoes both suck up a lot of oil. Sauté veggies over a medium heat, sprinkle with salt. When they begin to soften, add garlic. Cover and stir occasionally. After another 2-3 minutes add curry. Stir frequently. At some point the veggies will begin to stick to the bottom of the pan, scrape with a spatula. When the potatoes are soft, but not yet done, add in the butternut squash, and remaining spices. Cover again, stirring frequently until squash is done.

Have your oven preheated to 375˚ Oil the bottom of the tortillas. You can either put the tortillas on a flat cookie sheet or you can use a pizza stone, as long as you heat it with the oven. Place the tortillas on the pan/stone. Add a teaspoon of pesto and spread around the top of the tortilla. Sprinkle cheese on. Top with a couple spoonfuls of the curried veggie mixture and then finish with a few spoonfuls of the beans. Bake in the oven about 5 minutes or until the crusts get crispy and the cheese melts. If you are using a cookie sheet, you might want to carefully remove the pizzas from the pan and place them directly on the oven rack for extra crispness.

I also made a cilantro dressing to go with my salad, which was so delicious to dip my pizza in. The recipe is below.

Ingredients
  • Juice of 2 limes and 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons of maple syrup or honey
  • 1 tablespoon of raw cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup of EVOO
  • 1/4 cup of washed cilantro
  • a few sprigs of fresh mint
  • pepper

Blend in blender until pureed.
You could also add some yogurt to this to make it a little thicker and creamier.