Wednesday, December 28, 2011

winter fruit salad with lemon poppyseed dressing

Well, here is a new recipe (finally!). I had hoped to post some Christmas dinner ideas, but business and several days without internet made that difficult. Oh well...

Here is a salad we brought for Christmas dinner. Yum!

1/3 cup white sugar (or honey)
1/3 cup lemon juice
2 tsp. diced onion or shallot
3/4 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 cup canola (or other) oil
2 tsp. poppy seeds

1/2 head romaine lettuce, torn or cut into bite-sized pieces (alternately use spinach or half lettuce and half spinach)
2-3 oz. Swiss cheese, shredded
2/3 cup cashews
3 Tbsp. dried cranberries
1/2 apple (or more to taste), diced
1/2 pear (or more to taste), sliced

1. In a blender or food processor, combine sugar (or honey), lemon juice, onion, mustard, and salt. Process until well blended. With machine still running, add oil in a slow, steady stream until mixture is thick and smooth. Add poppy seeds and process just to mix.

2. In a large serving bowl, toss together the lettuce/spinach, shredded swiss cheese, cashews, dried cranberries, apple, and pear. Pour dressing over salad just before serving and toss to coat.

makes approx. 8 servings

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Simple chicken and leek stew

2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 medium leeks, white and tender green parts only, thinly sliced
1/2 pound cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
salt and pepper
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 2 inch (or smaller) pices
all-purpose flour, for dusting (about 2 Tbsp.)
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 Tbsp. thyme
2 Tbsp sour cream
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
steamed rice for serving

1. in a skillet, heat 1 Tbsp of the oil. Add the leeks and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, about 5-7 minutes. Add the mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook, stirring, until the mushrooms are tender, about 4 minutes. Pour into bowl and set aside.
2. Season chicken with salt and pepper and lightly dust with flour, shaking off any excess (or place chicken and flour in ziplock bag and shake until coated. Heat remaining 1 Tbsp. oil in the skillet. Add the chicken and cook over moderate heat until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Add chicken stock and simmer until chicken is just cooked through, about 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken to a plate with the vegetables.
3. Simmer stock over med-high heat until reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Return chicken, leeks and mushrooms to the skillet and simmer over low until warmed through, about 1 minute.
4. In a small bowl, blend the sour cream with the mustard and stir into the stew. Remove from heat, season with salt and pepper and serve. The stew tastes great over rice.

makes 4 servings

Thursday, December 1, 2011

broccoli and cheddar cheese soup

The fresh croutons add a delicious crispy complement to the soup

2 1/2-in. thick slices of bread, cut into 1/2-in. pieces
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 med. russet potato, cut into 1/2-in. pieces
1 bunch broccoli (about 1 1/4 pound), heads cut into small florets, stalks thinly sliced
salt and pepper
3 cups water or chicken broth
1 cup lowfat milk
1/4 tsp. freshly grated or ground nutmeg
6 oz sharp cheddar, coarsely grated

1. Heat oven to 400F. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the bread with 1 Tbsp oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake until golden brown and crisp, 5-7 minutes; set aside.
2. Heat the remaining Tbsp oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the celery, garlic, onion, potato, broccoli stalks, 3/4 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper and cook, covered, stirring occasionally until just tender, 5-6 minutes.
3. Add the florets and 3 cups water to the vegetables, cover and bring to a boil. Simmer for a few minutes until broccoli is just tender.
4. Remove from heat and puree in batches in a blender. Add milk and nutmeg and heat through, about 2 minutes. Add cheese and stir until melted. Serve with croutons.

Serves 4

Friday, November 18, 2011

Thanksgiving dinner sides

The sweetness of the sweet potatoes or yams adds a surprising and delicious twist
Scalloped Russet and Sweet Potatoes
bake 55 min, 350/425°F
8 servings

1 garlic clove
1 Tbsp. butter, softened
1 large onion, peeled and sliced 1/16 inch thick
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
2 cups milk
1/2 cup whipping cream
2 Tbsp. butter
3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
4 medium russet potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/16 inch thick
1 med-large sweet potato or yam (I used sweet, but a yam would add a nice color), peeled and sliced 1/16 inch thick
nutmeg (freshly grated if possible)

1. Preheat oven to 350. Aggressively rub inside of a 2 1/2 to 3 quart baking dish with garlic clove, coat with 1 Tbsp butter. Set aside.
2. Cook onion in olive oil until tender, sprinkling well with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and stir in thyme leaves. Set aside.
3. In small saucepan, heat milk and cream just until simmering. In medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Whisk in flour until combined. Remove from heat and whisk in hot milk and cream a little at a time until incorporated. Return to heat; bring to a gentle boil. Cook for about 3 minutes, until thickened.
4. Layer 1/3 of russets and yams in prepared dish. Season with salt, pepper and a light sprinkling of nutmeg. Layer 1/3 of onions then spoon 1/3 of cream mixture on top. Make 2 more layers with remaining potatoes, onions, seasonings, and cream mixture, finishing with the cream mixture.
5. Bake uncovered 45 minutes. Increase oven temp to 425. Bake 10-15 minutes until bubbly, golden crusty brown, and potatoes are fork tender. Let stand 10 minutes.

I haven't felt strongly about Brussels sprouts one way or the other. I didn't grow up on them and have only made them a few times. Since I don't dislike them, when I saw this recipe I decided to try it. These were so good!

Roasted Brussels Sprouts
bake 45 minutes, 425°F
10 servings

3 pounds Brussels sprouts, quartered
3/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper
1 cup walnut pieces
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar (red wine vinegar could work too)
1 Tbsp grainy mustard
2 Tbsp. honey
3 Tbsp. capers, rinsed
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 shallots, minced
2-oz tin of anchovies (or 1-2 Tbsp. anchovy paste)

1. Preheat oven to 425. In a large bowl toss the sprouts with 1/4 cup olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread on 2 large rimmed baking sheets and roast for about 45 minutes, stirring once or twice, until tender and charred in spots. Switch pans halfway through.
2. Spread walnuts in a pie plate and toast 3-5 minutes, until golden. Let cool.
3. In a large bowl, whisk the vinegar with mustard and honey. Whisk in remaining 1/2 cup olive oil until well combined. Add capers, garlic, shallots and anchovies; season with salt and pepper. Add Brussels sprouts and walnuts and toss well.
This can be made up to 4 hours ahead of time and kept at room temp. Rewarm before serving.

This is a neat way to serve stuffing, in cute individual portions

Lemony Mushroom-and-Pine-Nut Stuffing Muffins
bake 45 minutes, 375°F (plus baking time for bread cubes and pine nuts)
makes at 12 muffins

1 cup pine nuts
1 14-oz loaf of bread, crusts removed, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/4 cup olive oil
1 medium red onion, diced
1 celery rib, diced
1 pound assorted mushrooms, thinly sliced
salt and pepper
1 cup cream
2 large eggs
1/2 cup chicken broth
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
juice of 2 lemons
1 cup chopped parsley

1. Preheat oven to 350. Generously butter 12-cup muffin tin. Spread pine nuts in a pie plate. Toast nuts for about 4 minutes, until golden.
2. Spread bread cubes on 1-2 large baking sheets. Bake 15 minutes, until toasted. Transfer to a large bowl and let cool. Increase oven temp to 375.
3. In a large skillet, heat the oil. Add onion and celery and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook, stirring, until the mushrooms are tender and browned, 7 minutes. Let cool, then add to the bread.
4. In a medium bowl, whisk the cream with the eggs. Stir in the chicken broth, lemon zest and juice and 2 tsp. salt. Add to the bread along with with parsley and pine nuts and stir well. Spoon the stuffing into prepared muffin cups. Bake in upper third of the oven for 45 minutes, until crisp on top and heated through. Unmold and serve hot.
To make ahead: the unbaked stuffing muffins can be refrigerated overnight.

All ingredients for these recipes are available at the Green Barn except anchovies.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Fish en papillote

I just have to post this recipe because it was SO delicious. Don't let the fancy title fool you, it is actually easy to prepare and pretty fast (especially if you have a julienne tool). Everything cooks together to make an absolutely tender and flavorful dish.

1/2 red onion, julienned
1 zucchini, julienned
1 large carrot, julienned
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
squash, julienned, or mushrooms, or bell peppers (optional).
1 Tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
4-4oz white fish fillets
1 lemon, thinly sliced
8 sprigs fresh thyme
4 pats butter
1/4 cup white wine*
parchment paper

1. Preheat oven to 375F. In a bowl, mix together the onion, zucchini, carrot, and garlic (and other veggies if desired). Add the oil, season with salt and pepper, and toss to combine.
2. Put each fish fillet in a large square of parchment paper and season with salt and pepper to taste. Arrange the vegetables on top, dividing evenly. Top the vegetables with 2 lemon slices, 2 sprigs thyme, a pat of butter and 1 Tbsp wine, layering in order.
3. Fold the parchment paper around the edges tightly in 1/4-inch folds to create a half moon shape. Make sure you press as you crimp and fold to seal the packets well, otherwise the steam will escape. Alternately gather all edges together and twist at the top to form a little bag. A stapler is handy if there are any openings. Arrange the packets on a baking sheet. Bake until the fish is cooked through, about 12 minutes depending on the thickness of the fish (mine were larger fillets so they took about 25 minutes). To serve, cut open the packets and serve directly in the parchment on a plate or remove the fish to the plate using a spatula, being sure you don't leave the juices behind.

*chicken broth works almost as well. I tried it both ways since I didn't have much wine due to a disaster: I dropped the grocery bag with the wine bottle in it on the pavement on the way from the car to the house. I ran inside, grabbed my baster and was able to save a bit of it before it trickled out of the bag. Phew!

serves 4

Spaghetti squash with garlic and herbs (and cheese of course)

If you have stayed away from spaghetti squash because you have no idea what to do with it, try this fast and easy recipe. You can also use this recipe as a starting point. Sauteed veggies would be a great addition.


1 spaghetti squash (about 3-4 pounds)1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp olive oil2 cloves garlic, finely minced1/4 cup finely minced herbs (I used parsley and tarragon, but basil would be yummy too)1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
toasted pine nuts (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 375F. Cut squash in half, lengthwise. Use a fork to remove seeds. Place flesh side down in baking dish with ½ inch of water. Pierce squash a few times with sharp paring knife (to let steam escape). bake for about 60 minutes (closer to 90 minutes if it is a larger one like mine was), or until a paring knife pierces easily through skin with little resistance. Let squash cool for 10 minutes.

2. Use a fork to scrape the squash to get long strands. If the squash seem difficult to scrape, return the squash to bake for an additional 10 minutes.
3. Heat a large saute pan with the butter and oil and the garlic over medium-low heat. When garlic becomes fragrant, add herbs, salt and spaghetti squash strands. Toss well, sprinkle in the parmesan cheese and taste to see if you need additional salt. The spaghetti squash should have a slight crunch (i.e. not mushy) - but if you like it softer, cover the pan and cook 2 more minutes.
makes 4 servings

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Cranberry-pear tossed salad

My wonderful husband gave me the afternoon and evening off so I could go horseback riding while he made me a birthday dinner. The menu: this salad, Asian salmon on top of curried quinoa, and an apple squash bake. Everything was SO amazingly delicious. I just took pictures of this one, but if you are interested in the other recipes, just ask!
What a great Fall salad

1/3 cup apricot nectar
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/3 cup canola oil (if you'd like, substitute some Udo's oil, it's so nutritious!)
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
2 Tbsp sugar
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
12 cups mixed salad greens (sounds like a lot, but this recipe serves 12. Cut back if you need to)
3 medium pears, sliced
1/2 cup dried cranberries
3/4 cup crumbled blue cheese

1. For a dressing, in a bowl whisk together the first six ingredients; set aside.
2. In a hreavy skillet, melt sugar over medium heat, stirring constantly. Add walnuts; stir to coat and remove from heat.
3. In a large salad bowl, combine greens, pears, and cranberries. Drizzle with dressing. Add nuts and blue cheese and toss.

serves 12

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

sweet potato and black bean burritos

Sound a little weird? They actually very good. Even my meat-loving man didn't mind that the meat was missing.

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large yam or sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-in pieces
1 medium red onion, half chopped and half thinly sliced
1 15.5 oz can black beans, rinsed
2 tsp. chopped chipotle peppers in adobo sauce *
1 small bunch spinach, thick stems discarded, leaves coarsely chopped
6 oz. Monterey Jack cheese, coarsely grated
4 large flour tortillas (I used whole wheat)
sour cream
lime wedges

1. Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a large skilled over medium heat. Add the yams, chopped onion, and 1/2 tsp. salt and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until tender, 10-12 minutes.
2. Add the beans and chipotles and cook, stirring occasionally for 2 minutes. Add the spinach and cook, tossing, until it begins to wilt, about 2 minutes.
3. Divide the cheese and potato-bean mixture among the tortillas and roll up to form burritos. Wipe out the skillet, add remaining olive oil and heat over medium heat. Cook the burritos, seam side down first until golden brown, 2-3 minutes per side. Serve with sour cream and lime wedges.

serves 4

*This adds a nice smokey flavor with a little spice. If you like more spice you can add more. If you don't feel like buying a can just to use a small amount you could substitute a small amount of  hot pepper or red pepper flakes. Or, I just chopped the remaining peppers, divided the pieces and sauce among the sections of an ice cube tray (this was a tip listed on the recipe). Once frozen, transfer to a freezer-safe container. You can save them to add to chili, soups, or stews)

Friday, September 30, 2011

Roasted Green Beans with Mushrooms, Balsamic, and Parmesan

I found this recipe on pinterest and took it. At least I admitted that :)
Local green beans are still in so now is the time to try this.

8 oz mushrooms, sliced into half inch slices (I used crimini)
1 lb fresh green beans
 1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt and black pepper to taste
2 Tbsp finely grated parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 450. Wash mushroom and dry them. Cut mushrooms. Trim ends of beans and cut beans in half. 
2. Put cut beans and mushrooms into a ziplock bag or bowl. Whisk together olive oil and vinegar and pour over. Squeeze bag (or stir) until beans and mushrooms are evenly coated. 
3. Arrange in a single layer on a large cookie sheet or roasting pan. Roast about 20 minutes until beans are tender crisp, mushrooms are cooked, and all liquid from mushrooms has evaporated. Remove from oven, season to taste with salt and pepper, then sprinkle with parmesan.

Makes 4 servings

Twice Baked Butternut Squash

It seems like Fall is really here. I thought I would be sad, but the crisp and (hopefully) sunny days inspire me to make yummy fall food with seasonal produce like squash and yams. I am looking forward to soups as well!

This was originally a Martha Stewart recipe but I tweaked it a bit. I was tempted to go sweet, but I stuck with savory and am happy I did.

These amounts are approximate. You may want to adjust based on the size of your squash and to your personal taste.
2 butternut squash
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp paprika (I had run out so I substituted Old Bay seasoning)
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp. chopped chives (I think sage or thyme would taste really good too)
3 Tbsp fresh bread crumbs or buttered panko bread crumbs

1. Heat oven to 450 with rack in center. Halve squash lengthwise and remove seeds and fibers. Sprinkle halves with salt and pepper. Fill a roasting pan with 1/4 inch water. Place squash in pan, cover with foil and bake until tender when pierced with the tip of a knife 35-45 minutes). 
2. Remove from oven, transfer to a cool surface and let sit until cool enough to handle. Reduce oven temperature to 425. Use a spoon to scoop flesh out of each half into a large bowl, leaving a 1/4 inch border so they will keep their shape.
3. To the bowl add sour cream, paprika, nutmeg, garlic powder, chives and 1 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Mix with a handheld electric mixer or potato masher until smooth and well combined.
4. Fill halves with mixture and sprinkle tops with breadcrumbs. Bake until golden brown and hot, approx. 20 minutes.

makes 4 generous servings

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Tomato Salad with Parmesan Crisps

1 and 1/2 cups finely diced heirloom or local tomatoes
1 Tbsp. snipped chives
1 tsp. coarsely chopped tarragon
2 tsp. olive oil

6 Tbsp. freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 and 1/2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
1 Tbsp plus 2 tsp. all-purpose flour
freshly ground pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 400 and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, combine cheese, butter, flour, and a generous pinch of pepper. Mash the ingredients until a dough forms. Form into a 4 inch log (adding more flour if needed). Cut into 12 slices and arrange on baking sheet. Press the slices into 1 and 1/2 inch rounds.
2. Bake on the lowest rack in the oven for about 8 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking, until the crisps are golden brown and sizzling. Let cool completely then transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and blot excess fat.
3. In a small bowl, toss the tomatoes with chives, tarragon, olive oil, salt and pepper. Spoon over parmesan crisps and serve right away.

The parmesan crisps can be stored in an airtight container for up to a week.
Simpler version: skip steps 1 and 2 and use crackers, chips, or bread instead of parmesan crisps.

makes 4 servings

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Corn Salad

You don't need exact amounts of anything for this salad. I added what felt and looked right for all the ingredients so the amounts below are estimates. Just have fun with it. Sometimes it feels good not to measure :)

8 ears of corn, husked
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved or sliced depending on the size
1/2-1 small red onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 green pepper, diced
12 oz canned black beans, drained and rinsed
cilantro (1/4-1/2 cup)
olive oil (approx. 1/4 cup)
juice of 1 lime
about 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

1. Boil water in large pot and cook corn for 2-3 minutes. Remove from water and cool. Slice off the kernels.
2. Mix tomatoes, onion, celery, beans, and cilantro with corn in a large bowl. Stir in olive oil, lime juice, red wine vinegar and salt and pepper.
Tastes best when chilled.

Makes approx. 8 servings

Another fun variation is to add sour cream instead of the oil and vinegar.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Pork Kebabs with Plums, Nectarines and Honey-Mint Glaze

 This is a great summer meal. It is pretty simple, fast, and delicious. The sweet honey glaze caramelizes slightly during grilling and complements the pork and fruit. It is a good time to try this out since local plums and nectarines are in!

4-5 plums or nectarines each cut into 1 inch wedges (I used both)
2-12 oz (or equivalent) pork tenderloins, each cut crosswise into 8 pieces
1 tsp. plus 1/4 tsp. salt, divided
1/3 cup plus 1 Tbsp. honey
2 Tbsp. orange juice
2 Tbsp. lime juice
1 tsp. oil
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh mint

1. Heat grill. Thread plums/nectarines onto metal (or soaked wood) skewers. Thread pork on skewers and sprinkle with 1 tsp. salt.
2. Combine honey, orange juice, oil, crushed red pepper and 1/4 tsp. salt in a small bowl. Reserve 2 Tbsp. of the mixture.
3. Oil grill grate. Grill skewers, covered over medium heat or coals 8-10 minutes or until pork is pale pink in the cener and fruit is tender, turning to brown on both sides and basting occasionally with honey mixture.
4. Drizzle skewers with reserved honey mixture and sprinkle with mint.

makes 4 servings.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Chicken with Cherry-Tarragon Sauce

So, after a two week break, due to our vacation, I decided to post what we had for dinner last night. We really enjoyed it. I actually forgot to take pictures until the food was mostly consumed. After an "oh no!" moment, I gathered up the last bits for a photo shoot. Kind of sad. Sigh... :)
You can use delicious local Lapin cherries for this one. It is actually quite a simple recipe. The only time consuming part is pitting the cherries (unless you happen to have a handy cherry pitter, which I don't).

1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp. smoked paprika
1 tsp. dry mustard
8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cups fresh pitted dark sweet cherries
2 Tbsp. snipped fresh tarragon
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup dry red wine or cherry juice
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 Tbsp butter
2 cups hot cooked couscous* (or rice)

1. In a shallow dish combine flour, paprika, mustard, 1/4 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper. Coat chicken with this mixture.
2. In a skillet, cook chicken in hot oil over medium to medium-high heat for 8-10 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink, turning once. Remove from pan and cover to keep warm.
2. Add cherries, tarragon, and garlic to skillet. Cover and stir over medium heat for 1 minute. Stir in wine (or juice) and broth. Simmer uncovered, 3-5 minutes or until sauce is reduced to 2 cups. Stir in butter until melted. Season with salt and pepper.
3. To serve, spoon sauce over chicken and serve with couscous. You can sprinkle with additional tarragon.

makes 4 servings

*to make couscous, bring 2 3/4 cup water to a boil. Add 1 tsp. salt, stir, and add 1 1/2 cup couscous. Remove from heat and let sit covered for about 5 minutes (until all the water is absorbed). Fluff with a fork.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Grilled Veggies with Basil Pecan Pesto

These pictures do not do this dish justice. I grilled the veggies just a tad too long this time which doesn't make for a beautiful presentation :), but it still tastes so good. It is a great side dish and can be served hot or cold.


1 cup packed basil leaves
2 garlic cloves, peeled
¼ cup pecans
¼ cup parmesan cheese
½ cup olive oil
a pinch of kosher salt

Vegetables: (whatever you like, but here is a suggestion:)
2 zucchini, cut in quarters lengthwise (or half if they are on the small side)
2 yellow squash, cut in quarters lengthwise (same as above)
1 red onion, cut in wedges from root to stem, leaving stem intact (so they don't fall apart because you don't want these guys slipping though the cracks!)
1 red, yellow, or orange bell pepper, seeded and cut into thick strips
2 tomatoes, cut in half (any kind will do)

1. Prepare your grill to cook at medium heat. Cut your vegetables and cover them all with a bit of olive oil. The vegetables will be cut into bite size chunks later. Sprinkle the vegetables with salt.

2. Place the vegetables on the grill. After the first ones laid down have cooked for about two minutes rotate them about 45 degrees without turning them. Cook for another minute or two and then flip or turn them to another un-grilled surface. Cook for another 2 minutes and rotate them again. Continue grilling the vegetables until they are are cooked but still somewhat firm. The tomatoes will get very soft and that is OK. Remove all of the vegetables from the grill and set them aside to cool.

3. Using a food processor or blender, process the garlic until it is coarsely chopped. Add in the basil, nuts and cheese and pulse a few times. Add the oil in a slow stream through the feeder tube until it is all incorporated. Season to taste with salt. Feel free to add more olive oil if you want.

4. When the vegetables have cooled, cut them all into bite sized pieces. Smash and chop the tomatoes. Combine the vegetables in a large bowl. Add the pesto to the vegetables and stir to combine. Season with additional salt, if necessary. Place the vegetables into a serving bowl and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Avocado Fries

Here is something a little different to try. These guys are crispy on the outside with that lovely creamy texture of avocado on the inside.

1/4 cup flour
1 tsp. salt
2 large eggs
1 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
2 firm ripe avocados, cut into 1/2 inch wedges
canola oil for frying
salt and pepper
grated parmesan

1. Heat oil in a large pan (enough to cover avocado slices, 1/2-1 inch).
2. Mix flour and salt in bowl. Beat 2 large eggs in another bowl. Place breadcrumbs in a third bowl.
3. Sprinkle avocado slices with salt and pepper. Dip in flour, then egg, then the breadcrumbs. Once oil is really hot, fry avocado for about 30 seconds (or until golden brown). Remove to a serving plate and sprinkle with grated parmesan.

serves at least 4

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Antioxidant Orchard Salad

I love candied pecans! This version is healthier and super tasty.
Ingredients: (these are approximate amounts, so adjust ratios to your own taste)
1/2 cup pecans
1-2 tsp. agave nectar
pinch of salt

12 oz mixed baby greens          
1 cup grapes, halved
1/2 cup celery, thinly sliced
1 cup English cucumber, diced
1/4-1/3 cup red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 cup fresh strawberries, sliced
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 heaping Tbsp. fresh mint leaves, chopped

3 Tbsp. pomegranate juice
3 Tbsp. lemon juice
3 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar (optional)
1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp. olive oil

For the agave-roasted walnuts: 
Toss pecans in agave and a pinch of salt. Bake at 300, turning to cook evenly, until the nuts caramelize (about 15 minutes)
For the dressing:
whisk together pomegranate juice, lemon juice, balsamic, and olive oil,
For the salad:
Combine all remaining ingredients and toss with dressing. Top with pecans.

Grains and Fruit Summer Salad

1 cup lightly packed fresh basil
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
4 gloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper
2 cups cooked grains (quinoa*, wild rice, and/or brown rice) I did half wild rice and half quinoa
1/2 cup sliced green onions
4 cups mixed salad greens (I used spring mix)
2 cups blueberries
1 cup cantaloupe cubes
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 small zucchini, sliced very thinly lengthwise
1/2 cup walnut pieces toasted (I drizzled them with agave nectar and toasted at 300 until done, mixing a few times)
1/3 cup snipped fresh herbs (dill, basil, and/or mint)
4 oz grilled meat or fish (optional)

1. For basil dressing, in a blender or food processor combine the basil, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, 1/4 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. black pepper. Cover and precess until nearly smooth. Set aside.
2. In a medium bowl stir together cooked grains and green onions. stir in about 2 Tbsp. of the dressing.
3. For the salad, line a large bowl with greens. Top greens with grains mixture, blueberries, cantaloupe, tomatoes, zucchini, walnuts, and meat (if desired). Drizzle with remaining basil dressing; toss gently. Sprinkle with fresh herbs.
*for 2 cups cooked quinoa, in a fine strainer rinse 1/2 cup quinoa under cold running water; drain. In a small saucepan combine 1 1/3 cups water, quinoa, and 1/4 tsp. salt. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer 15 minutes. Let stand to cool slightly. Drain off remaining liquid and fluff with a fork.

makes 8 side dish or 4 main dish servings

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Watermelon Salad

an easy and refreshing side dish
2 envelopes unflavored gelatin
2 cups watermelon juice*
1 1/2 cups white grape juice
1 tsp. shredded lemon or orange peel
1 1/2 cups assorted chopped fruit (I used peeled peaches and nectarines and green grapes)
optional topping: 1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese and mint leaves (I know it sounds weird, but the recipe I found called for it and so I listened. It tastes quite good)

1. In a medium saucepan sprinkle gelatin over watermelon juice. Let stand 5 minutes. Then cook over medium until gelatin is dissolved. Stir in grape juice and citrus peel.
2. transfer half the mixture to an 8x8 baking dish. Add fruit. Cover and refrigerate about 1 1/2 hours or until it is set. (keep remaining watermelon juice at room temperature).
3. Spoon remaining juice mixture on top. Cover and refrigerate for and additional 1 1/2 hours or more.
4. Top with feta and mint (at least try the mint if you can :) before serving.

serves 9
* to juice watermelon, puree chunks in the blender and strain to remove pulp. It took about 1/3 of a melon to make 2 cups.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Grilled Portobello Melt

I'm so happy that the Summer weather has come (kind of) and have been utilizing the grill as much as possible!

4 portobello mushrooms, stems removed
1 large red bell pepper, cut into quarters
1 large red onion, cut into 1/4 inch slices
4-8 slices cheese (I was hoping to try pepper jack but only had monterey jack so I added some herbs and crushed red pepper flakes)

for sauce combine:
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp. olive oil
3 Tbsp. honey

1. Brush onions, peppers, and tops of mushrooms with olive oil and place onions and peppers on hot grill.
2. When they are browned with good grill marks on one side turn over. Add mushrooms, cap side up and pour sauce on top.
3. When liquid boils top mushrooms with onions and peppers and cheese slices (and herbs and spices if desired).
4. When cheese is melted, remove mushrooms from the grill and serve.

makes 4 main dish servings

Friday, June 17, 2011

Grilled Peaches With Honey Nut Cream

So easy to make and so delicious!
3 peaches, halved and pitted (make sure they are nice and ripe)
1 Tbsp oil
sugar and cinnamon for sprinkling
4 oz cream cheese
1 Tbsp honey (plus extra for drizzling)
2-3 Tbsp chopped pecans

1. Preheat the grill for medium heat.
2. Brush peaches with a light coating of oil. Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon.
3. Mix cream cheese with honey and nuts.
4 Grill peaches cut side down for about 5 minutes or until they have nice grill marks. Turn over and place a dollop of the cream cheese where the pit was. Grill for another 2 minutes. Drizzle with honey and serve immediately.

makes 6 small servings

Monday, June 6, 2011

Mango and Berry Tarts

These were so good and were actually pretty easy to make. The dough can be made a couple days ahead of time which I did, though unintentionally. Due to a busy week (my husband's baby brother just got married!), I didn't get around to putting the tarts together until Sunday, which was just as well because we had family over :)
These are very versatile; you can do all tropical fruits or just berries or a combination.

For the pastry:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 and 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) cold unsalted butter cut into small pieces 
1/4-1/2 cup ice water

Filling (suggestion):
1/2-1 mango, thinly sliced
1 small banana, sliced
8 medium strawberries, chopped
24 (or thereabouts) blueberries
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
sugar, for sprinkling

whipped cream or vanilla ice cream for serving.

1. Make the pastry. In a food processor or blender, pulse the flour and salt. Add the butter and pulse until it is the size of small peas. Sprinkle the ice water over the mixture and pulse until the pastry starts to come together. Transfer to a work surface and knead gently a few times until thoroughly blended. Divide pastry in half and flatten into disks, Wrap in plastic and refrigerate until chilled, about an hour.  (if you chill it like I did for almost 3 days, you will need to let it sit at room temp for at least a half hour or soften in the microwave for a few seconds).
2. Preheat the oven to 400. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. On a lightly floured surface, roll out one of the disks 1/8 inch thick. Using a 5-inch plate (I found a plastic lid about the right size) as a guide, cut out 3 rounds and transfer to the baking sheet. Repeat with rest of the pastry. Refrigerate until firm, about 10 minutes.
3. Make the filling. Arrange the mango, banana, strawberries and blueberries (or whatever fruit you have chosen) on top. Bring the pastry edges up and around the fruit, pinching firmly to firm a pleated rim on each tart. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 35 minutes, until pastry is golden brown and fruit is bubbling. Serve warm or at room temperature with whipping cream or ice cream.

makes 6 servings

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Broccoli Salad

here's a variation on a traditional broccoli salad
5-6 cups broccoli florets
1/2 cup cooked bacon, crumbled
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted (about 8 minutes at 300, stirring once)
1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
1 cup frozen peas, thawed, or fresh
1/2 cup raisins (which I didn't add, but it just tastes better with them)

1 cup plain yogurt (or mayo. I'm not a huge mayo fan, but I found out it does taste better with it. I tried making my own for the first time. I need to try again :)
The yogurt is the healthier way to go)
2 Tbsp. vinegar
1/4 cup honey

Combine broccoli, bacon, almonds, onion, peas, and raisins. In a separate bowl whisk together remaining ingredients. Add to salad and chill before serving.

serves 4-6

Friday, May 20, 2011

Strawberry Watermelon Smoothie

A refreshing drink perfect for a Memorial Day barbecue or for any outdoor occasion

Blend together in a blender until smooth:
3 c. frozen strawberries
3 c. watermelon, cubed and frozen
1/2 c. vanilla yogurt (or plain plus 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract)
1/2 c. cream
1/4 c. lemon or orange juice
sweetener if desired (I added just a little agave nectar)

serves 4

Friday, May 13, 2011

Steamed Artichoke

frost kissed but still just as tasty

1. Pull off any smaller leaves towards base and on the stem, cut excess stem, leaving up to one inch. You can also trim the top and the tips of the leaves, but I think this is more for looks.
2. Fill large pot with a few inches of water (for more flavor you can add a garlic clove, bay leaf, and lemon slice) and insert steaming basket. Add artichokes, cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer and cook 25-45 minutes or until outer leaves can be easily pulled off.
3. Serve with a dipping sauce. I like a lemon and garlic butter sauce or a mayo, sour cream, and parmesan sauce.

For first time artichoke eaters I found some very helpful instructions. Don't be intimidated, they are a lot of fun to eat. Our 3 year absolutely loves them, probably because she has a blast pulling off leaves and dipping them.

1. Pull off outer petals, one at a time.
artichoke-5.jpg artichoke-4.jpg
2. Dip white fleshy end in melted butter or sauce. Tightly grip the other end of the petal. Place in mouth, dip side down, and pull through teeth to remove soft, pulpy, delicious portion of the petal. Discard remaining petal.
artichoke-10.jpg artichoke-11.jpg
Continue until all of the petals are removed.
artichoke-6.jpg artichoke-7.jpg
3. With a knife or spoon, scrape out and discard the inedible fuzzy part (called the "choke") covering the artichoke heart. The remaining bottom of the artichoke is the heart. Cut into pieces and dip into sauce to eat.
artichoke-8.jpg artichoke-9.jpg

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Roasted Potatoes

A great side dish for any time of the year

potatoes (I like red or yukon gold)
salt (preferably coarse sea salt) and pepper to taste
 1/4 c.+ olive oil
herbs (dried or fresh)

1. Preheat oven to 450. Cube potatoes and boil for 3 minutes. Drain well. 
2. Spread out in a single layer in a roasting pan. Drizzle generously with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and herbs (if using fresh sprinkle during the last 5 minutes of roasting). Toss everything together until evenly coated.
3. Roast for about 25 minutes or until golden and crispy on the outside and tender on the inside.