Garden Pesto

Happy Monday!  I mentioned in my last post that PJ had started a garden in our little back patio.  Since I’ve managed to kill off every basil plant I’ve ever owned, I’m glad to have his green thumb.  Here’s a view of our garden (and PJ).  There’s a mystery plant in that concrete planter in the  back corner!  It’s growing super quickly, you can see how high it is getting.  PJ thinks that it is rhubarb.

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So far, the basil and parsley plants are ready to be used.  Last night, I made a rough pesto that I put over pearl couscous.  It’s a bigger grain than regular couscous, but I think that it’s more delicious.  I thought that it came out very good—and was great again for lunch today!

20130506-172500.jpgGarden Pesto

1) Cook couscous according to package directions.

2) In a food processor, combine a handful of fresh parsley and basil, 2 tablespoons thyme leaves, and 2 garlic cloves.

3) Once it is roughly chopped, add 1/3 cup olive oil, 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar, salt and pepper.

4) Combine with cooked couscous.  Top if grated cheese if desired.

Source: Adapted from Giada’s Kitchen

Now that we have a street-level door, this is the view people see when they walk by my house.

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What to do with the very last of the tomatoes…

I realize that it’s mid-October and I should have posted these tomato recipes earlier in the summer.  I should probably be posting some sort of pumpkin spice something.  But, I got one last delivery of tomatoes in the farm share not too long ago, so here are a few things to do with the very last of the tomatoes.

First, roasted tomatoes.  I kept seeing these mentioned all over the place this summer and finally decided to try them.  Basically, you slice tomatoes and mix with some olive oil, salt, pepper and a little sugar.  Bake at 350 till they are nearly carmelizing at the edges.  Delicious.

One possible use for roasted tomatoes is in an easy salad for lunch for dinner.  The following recipe uses soba noodles, which are another new discovery of mine.  They are made from buckwheat flour, and are pretty tasty.  This salad could use a whole variety of vegetables, whatever you have in stock.  I think that the addition of chickpeas adds some protein, which I for one, definitely don’t do a very good job of eating enough.  Enjoy!  And thanks for reading.

Directions

Combine:

  • cherry tomatoes
  • 1 clove garlic, finely diced
  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed
  • 2 tbs. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbs. olive oil
  • soba noodles, cooked per package directions
  • sprinkling of thyme
  • fresh basil leaves
  • Parmesan cheese to serve

Source: A Couple of Cooks

How cozy does this kitten look!  Quite the life.

Tomato Cobbler

I’ve probably had this recipe saved for about a year…..just waiting for tomato season!  If you haven’t been able to tell by now, I love biscuits, so any excuse to combine biscuits with a vegetable and call it dinner/lunch, seems like a great idea to me.  These cherry tomatoes  came in my farm share box the other week, so it seemed like the perfect time to try the recipe.  The original recipe called for gruyere cheese in the biscuit topping, but since I wanted PJ to try these, I had to leave the cheese out.  Either way—they were worth the wait.   The caramelized onions especially added a tasty touch to the roasted tomatoes.  Enjoy!  And thanks for reading.

Ingredients
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp thyme
2-3 lbs cherry or grape tomatoes
3 tbsp all-purpose flower
salt and pepper

For the biscuits–
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp  salt
8 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 cup grated gruyere cheese (I had to omit)
1 1/2 cups heavy cream (I used whole milk)

Directions

1. In a large skillet, combine the oil and butter over medium heat.  Add the onions and let them cook down and caramelize—about 20-25 minutes.  Stir occasionally.

2. When they are caramelized, add the garlic and thyme and cook about 1-2 minutes.  Remove from heat and let cool.

3.  When they are cool, combine the onion mixture, tomatoes, flour, salt and pepper.  Set aside while you prepare the biscuit topping.

4.  For the biscuit topping–combine the flour, baking power and salt.  Add the cold, cubed butter—either use a food processor or use your hands to break up the butter into small pieces.   Add the cheese (if using) and pour the cream in.  Mix the cream into the dry ingredients to make a soft dough.

5.  Pour the tomato mixture into a 9 x 13 in. baking dish.  Using a large spoon, scoop the biscuit dough into clumps on top.  Bake at 375 for about one hour and 10 minutes.  The tomatoes will be bubbling and the biscuits are golden.  Let cool.

Source: Annie’s Eats

Someone else has been waiting forever to try this too….

Greek Panzanella

I made this for the first time last summer and have been waiting all year for fresh tomatoes to make it again.  It’s really delicious and very summery.  One of the nicest things about this recipe is that you can use whatever vegetables you have on hand (i.e. whatever showed up in your farm share that week!).  My favorite part are the cubes of bread—definitely don’t skimp on these.  If I was left up to my own devices I would probably just soak the bread in the dressing, but alas, a girl should probably eat her vegetables.  Enjoy!  And thanks for reading.

Ingredients
3 cups (or so) diced bread
1 cucumber/zucchini/squash, diced
1 or 2 peppers, diced
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced.
2 tsp. minced garlic (2 cloves)
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 cup olive oil
feta cheese
olives (I omitted)

Directions
1.  Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  When it’s hot, add the diced bread and season with salt and pepper.  Stirring frequently, toast the bread till it’s browned, about 5-10 minutes.  Let cool.

2. Combine the cucumber, peppers, tomatoes and red onion.

3.  In a small container, whisk together the garlic, red wine vinegar, oregano, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper to taste.  While whisking, add the remaining 1/2 cup of olive oil.  (If this seems like it would be a lot of dressing for your veggies, you could cut it in half).

4.  Add the feta, olives and bread to the vegetables.  Pour the vinaigrette over the top and mix to combine.  Let it rest for about 30 minutes to let all the flavors develop.

It lasts for a while, so it’s good to enjoy for lunch.

Source: Barefoot Contessa: How Easy is That?

 

Also, if anyone is in the Baltimore area and is looking to adopt a cat, I discovered this cat rescue over the weekend: Lucky Cat Rescue

They seems like a really well-run organization and have many pretty kittens and cats up for adoption.  They are also looking for volunteers to foster cats.  If you are interested–please check them out!

Everyone should be as lucky as this cat with her very own fort!

 

 

Spring Asparagus Soup

Spring is upon us in Baltimore!  I know that this is the season when I should be roasting asparagus for every meal, but, my confession is that I don’t love asparagus.  I decided to try this asparagus soup to see if I would like it in a new way.  Even though it looks like pea soup, I enjoyed it!  Very light and tasty.  It was one of the first times I’ve made soup, and this recipe was a manageable one.  If you are looking for a way to embrace spring, here’s one idea.  Enjoy!

Ingredients:
1 lb. asparagus
salt and pepper
1 tbs. extra virgin olive oil
1 tbs. butter
1 medium leek, white and light green parts only, washed and sliced into 1 inch chunks
1/2 medium white onion, thinly sliced
1 large shallot, sliced (I omitted, couldn’t find one at the farmer’s market)
1 garlic clove, sliced

Directions:
1. With a vegetable peeler, peel the outer layer of the asparagus, starting about an inch from the top.  Keep all of the peelings.

2. When all the asparagus are peeled, cut off the ends of each stalk.  Add those ends to your collection of peelings.  Wrap the peelings and the ends in a piece of cheesecloth.  Tie it up into a little bundle with some string or ribbon.

(note: cheesecloth is pretty cheap from the supermarket)

3. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.   When it’s boiling, put in the asparagus and your cheesecloth bundle.  Let cook for 4 minutes before removing the asparagus to a colander.  Rise with cold water and add several ice cubes to it.  Toss the cheesecloth bundle, but reserve 3-4 cups of the cooking liquid.

4. Dry the pot and add the olive oil and butter.  Under low heat, add the leeks, onion, shallot and garlic.  Season with salt and pepper and toss around until everything is covered with the butter and oil.

5. Cover the pot and cook for about 15 minutes, until everything is softened.

6. Add the 3-4 cups of reserved cooking liquid.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer, cover and cook for 10 minutes.

7. Add the asparagus and simmer for 5 more minutes, uncovered.

8. In batches, puree with soup in a blender or food processor.  (Or use an immersion blender, if you have one).  Season for taste with salt and pepper.

Even the cat was curious.  Also, I discovered that picassa can add fun features to pictures, I’ll try not to get too crazy with it……….

Source: Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table.  (a beautiful cookbook, fyi).

Avocado, Tomato and Pepper Salad

As part of my attempts to mix up the lunches that I bring to work, I’ve learned to like avocados.  I previously never understood why people would get so excited about them, but I’ve become a convert.  I like their creamy texture.  I saw this recipe in a friend’s cookbook, so decided to try and improvise with the ripe avocado I had in the fridge.  I put the salad over spinach and I think it’ll make enough for about 4 lunches this week.  I also kept the dressing in a separate container and added it to my lunch container the day before I bring it to work.  Hope you enjoy!

1. Combine:

  • 1 pepper, diced
  • A container of grape tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 avocado, diced

I think you can also also add whatever other veggies you had on hand or thought would taste good.  I didn’t have red onion, but that also might be tasty.  The original recipe also called for black beans, but I didn’t happen to have any.

2. For the dressing, whisk together:

  • Zest of one lime
  • Juice from one lime
  • 1 teaspoon of minced garlic
  • A few tablespoons of olive oil (I added a little bit at a time to taste)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Adapted from Barefoot Contessa at Home

Spinach Salad with a Citrus Twist

I saw this salad on a blog the other day and thought it looked like it had some interesting flavors.  I also made enough so that I could take it to lunch all week and I added some turkey sausage for a bit of protein.  I tend to get hungry so quickly at work (like a hungry caterpillar), so the more substantial lunch is, the better.  I heard from someone this weekend who has checked out my blog (thanks Andrew!), so I’m going to try to incorporate more pictures in each post.  I added a few below so that you can see the meal in progress.  It’s not the prettiest process, but it did taste good!

Thanks for reading!

Ingredients

For caramelizing the onions
1 sliced onion ( I used half white onion and half red onion)
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper

For the sausage
Two links turkey sausage (or whatever kind you prefer)
olive oil

1. In two separate saute pans, heat up the olive oil.  For the onions, get the oil hot and add the balsamic vinegar, the onions and the salt and pepper.  Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently,  till the onions turn soft and lightly brown (about 20 minutes)

2. For the sausage, heat up the olive oil and add the sausage.  I usually remove it from the casing and break it up into smaller bits.  Cook all the way through, until it is lightly browned.

For the salad
One grapefruit,segmented
Washed spinach (or whatever salad greens you feel like!)

For the dressing
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice (I just used the juice of one lemon)
1 tsp honey
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

3. For the dressing, combine all ingredients except the olive oil.  Pour in the olive oil slowly until it tastes the way you like.  I probably added less than 1/4 a cup of olive oil.

4. Arrange the grapefruit pieces, sausage and onions over the spinach.  Pour dressing over it and combine.

5. Enjoy the extras for lunch if you want.  I kept the dressing, spinach, grapefruit and onion/sausage all separate until the night before. I wasn’t sure if if would get too soggy.  Enjoy!


Adapted from Apple a Day. Originally from a Giada recipe found on FoodNetwork.com

Veggie Pot Pie

I thought this recipe was especially interesting because it uses cornmeal in the biscuit topping.  It definitely gives it a little more of a sweet flavor.  The other nice thing about this recipe is that there is a lot of flexibility in what vegetables you can add to it.  I used kale, but I’m pretty sure you could substitute any other leafy green.  The original recipe also called for parsnips, but I wasn’t quite brave enough.  Perhaps you will be.   It makes quite a bit, so I enjoyed it all week for dinner/lunch.

Ingredients:

2-3 carrots, sliced
1 large onion, chopped
Small bunch of kale (or other leafy green), about 2 cups chopped
8 ounces of mushrooms, slided
2 cloves of garlic, diced
2 tablespoons of flour
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar (I only had red wine vinegar, and it was fine)
1 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
3 cups vegetable broth (I used chicken)
1 can cannellini or red beans (I omitted, it didn’t seem like there was enough room in my pan)

For the topping:

3/4 cup white flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
6 tablespoons cornmeal
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons butter (softened)
1/2 cup parmesan cheese (I also omitted because I didn’t have any).
1/2 cup buttermilk (I substituted 1/2 cup milk with 1/2 tablespoon of vinegar)

1. In a large skillet, add 2 tablespoons olive oil.  Add the carrots, onion, mushroom and kale.  Season with salt and pepper.  Saute till the onion turns translucent, about 5-7 minutes.

2. Add the garlic and saute for another 30 seconds.  Add the flour and cook for another minute.  Stir in the white/red wine vinegar, soy sauce, tomato paste and thyme.  Cook for another minute.   Stir in the vegetable broth (I definitely used less than the 3 cups, add as much as it seems like is necessary).

3. Lower the heat and simmer for about 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens.  I added a little bit of cornstarch to make it thicken even more.  If you are using beans, you can add them now.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

4. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, combine white flour, whole wheat flour, cornmeal, baking power and salt.  Stir in butter and cheese to combine.  Then add in buttermilk until a dough forms.  Knead a little bit with your hands to combine all the ingredients and form a ball of dough.

5. When the vegetable sauce is thickened,pour into a baking pan.  Place scoops of dough on the top.

6. Bake about 30 minutes at 400 degrees, until the ball of dough are lightly browned.  Let cool before serving.

Source: A Couple of Cooks

Roasted Acorn Squash, Barley, Spinach and Feta

I’ve recently been trying to prepare a good amount of food on the weekends to take for lunch for the whole week.  I’ve also been trying to learn how to cook and eat different vegetables, like acorn squash.  I pretty much avoided all different types of squash growing up.  So I’m expanding my horizons!  Acorn squash had a sweet, delicious taste.  This was a meal that I made on the weekend and was able to divide up to take to lunch each week.   I ended up dividing up the food into three different containers, so they were ready to grab each day when I went to work.  Overall, it was a pretty tasty lunch!  And I still enjoyed it as much on the third day.

Ingredients

1 acorn squash

bunch of spinach (could also substitute kale or other greens)

barley (enough to make about 1-2 cups cooked)

feta cheese

olive oil

salt and pepper

dressing of your choice

optional: walnuts or sunflower seeds

1. Cut the acorn squash into long strips and remove the seeds.  Toss the slices with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and roast at 425F for about 30-40 minutes.  The acorn squash should be tender.  Remove from the oven and let it cool.

2. Prepare the barley as directed by the package.

3. When the acorn squash is done, cut into cube size pieces.  Rinse the spinach and cut into easy-to-eat pieces.

4. Prepare the salads.  I divided them up into the three containers I was going to take to work.  I placed barley on the bottom, spinach next and topped it with acorn squash and feta cheese.

5. I put the salad dressing on my salad each morning before I went to work so that it wouldn’t get soggy.

Adapted from A Couple of Cooks