Zucchini & Tomatoes Oh My!

I wasn’t going to write a post until I ate this cold dish for lunch.  This is the what I had left when I remembered it was so good, I should post it.  When it was hot last night, it was a healthy tasting dinner.  One of those dinners where I can eat past the point of being filled (don’t feel like moving) and not feel like I have harmed myself with the contents.  The past couple of weeks, zucchini and tomatoes have crept into just about every meal.  As a cold dish, I highly rate as a recipe for using up those ingredients and making a delicious dish!  The following is very much adjustable with ingredients. ** Note the lovely polka dot tablecloth.  My mother just sent it to me and although this picture doesn’t feature it well, I thought I would note it as I really love it.

olive oil to coat your pan

2 medium zucchini

1 yellow summer squash

20 cherry tomatoes halved

3 cloves garlic

1 can cannellini beans rinsed well

1 handful of herbs (I used some parsley, basil and oregano)

sea salt and pepper to taste

2 tablespoons good balsamic

1 pound whole wheat pasta

Begin boiling water for pasta.  Meanwhile, over medium heat on a fairly large skillet, saute squash that is chopped into pieces about 1/2 inch thick.  Saute until tender and add a little salt.  Toss in the tomatoes & garlic for about 5 minutes then add the cannellini beans.  When ingredients are warm, add chopped herbs and toss for another minute or two with the balsamic.  Remove from heat and serve on a bed of pasta if you are going to eat it warm.  Otherwise, toss and refrigerate for a delicious cold dish (and I usually deplore leftovers!)

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Kohlrabi with lemon butter

Until this summer I have never had a moment where I craved kohlrabi.  It has always seemed like one of those vegetables that I throw in a salad to provide a little crunch but really doesn’t wow me with flavor.  Our CSA (community supported agriculture – that is for you Mike), provided us with a bunch of these funky looking kohlrabi balls.  I figured it was time for me to get busy using them and discover a recipe that makes me happy to see more kohlrabi instead of ignoring them in the crisper.  This recipe is all about simplicity but every ingredient used is key.  I have made it three times and the second time I left out the parsley as I didn’t have any on hand.  The flavor was only about 80% there and there was nothing more butter or salt or lemon juice could do to make up for the tablespoon of fresh herbage.  So, here is an easy recipe for kohlrabi that reminds me of the decadence of eating a steamed spring artichoke dipped in butter.

Steamed kohlrabi with lemon butter

1.  Trim the leggy looking pieces off one bunch (about 4) kohlrabi so you have a roundish shape but don’t peel.  Steam covered for 40 minutes/until tender

2.  Cool slightly, peel and chop.

3,  In a saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat; stir in 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, 1 clove of garlic and 1 tablespoon of fresh chopped parsley.  Stir around for about 2 minutes and then add chopped kohlrabi.

4.  Toss kohlrabi to coat and season with salt and pepper.

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Haystacks

One of the meals I like to keep ingredients around so that I can treat friends to an impromptu meal is Haystacks.  This is an ideal meal for summer because if you already have the beans there is very little to prep involving heat.   I generally make up a large batch of refried beans and freeze it in 4 serving sizes.  Then all you need to do is microwave it or warm them on the stove.  When canned refried beans go on sale at our food co-op, I stock the pantry with a dozen or so for camping trips or unexpected guests.  The Eden brand does not use BPA in their can liners so that makes me feel better about opening up a can.  Refried beans, scrambled eggs a tortilla shell and some salsa also make a quick & impressive breakfast.

Boucci’s family has always called this dish “Haystacks”.  I’m not certain where the “hay” part of it comes from…perhaps the high piling on the plates like you do with a barn or trailer at harvest time?  Nice, big smiles abound from friends when they load up their plates like Scotty here Scotty Q works up a healthy appetite by being a bike frame maker extraordinaire and cyclist.  He and Boucci have been great friends since they met in a class in junior high.  Scott’s life revolves around his passion of bicycles and he has had many brilliant wins during his racing career.  All of the cool riders I know have one of his sweet custom rides.  Here is a link to wet your appetite.  Alas, I dream of the day that I can join the cool ranks.  :)  Right now I am only half-cool since I stoke our custom tandem.  They say your happiness goes back to normal within a week of a new purchase, but I can say that every time I ride the tandem, my happiness quotient goes up and I appreciate it.  My kneecaps are also thankful since they don’t bang the handlebars like our old steed.

These are the goods you need in order to transform hungry bellies into satiated ones:

corn chips*

cheese (I generally use pepper jack or a combo of it w/ a nice melting cheddar or mozzarella)

refried beans

guacamole

lettuce

tomato

salsa

*These Michigan made corn chips are what we have been grooving on lately

Just to forewarn you, Scotty was right on when he said “What!  Do they put nicotine in these things?”

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Haystacks

Haystacks.

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Sandwich Bread

I have been thwarted the last two times I have purchased sandwich bread from the local Stonehouse Bakery.  They use good ingredients but their bread has been afflicted with bread mold the last two times.  This last time, I bought it the day it was made and it still had 4 days left on the exp. but before I could eat a slice – low and behold – spores were growing right under the label.  Boucci recommends something w/ a sourdough starter for longer life expectancy but there are days where I want a nice, soft sandwich.  Not, a sandwich that requires me to gnaw on it or burn a lot of energy chewing.  Yes, some days I am lazy like that and just don’t want to work my jaw muscles.   Mine are pretty toned and all but I just don’t feel like that is an area I need to strength train daily.

I decided no more throwing good bread to my worms.  (Yes, we are proud worm farmers – more on that another day).  So here is my go-to loaf for soft, sandwich bread.

1.5 cups of warm water (102-105 degrees)

1 tablespoon dry yeast

1 heaping tablespoon of honey or sugar

1.5 teaspoons salt

1/4 cup oil (I have used various types with good results.  DO NOT use a high quality olive oil as they do not like heat).

2 3/4 cup all purpose flour

1.5 cups whole wheat or white whole wheat flour

* King Arthur Flour is my favorite.  They are now making organic versions.

1.  Combine first 4 ingredients and allow to sit 5 minutes

2.  Add oil then flours and knead for a few minutes

3.  Let your dough sit in a nice, warm place for 45 minutes – 1hr.  It should double in size.   Meanwhile put a little oil in a 6 cup loaf pan and grease it up.

4.  Gather your dough and form it into a loaf.  Be gentle with it but it should de-poof and you can stretch the top and tuck the sides under.

Let it sit there while your oven warms up to 375 degrees

Bake for 35-40 minutes until it has a lovely brown color.

Let it sit for 10-15 minutes in the pan and then remove and set to cool on a wire rack.

Being around hungry cyclists has been good for my cooking ego.  They have so much gratitude after long rides.  :)  Young Stephen here recently completed the Lumberjack 100.  Even though he had a mechanical after 5 miles and had to run back and re-start, he churned out an admirable time.  Here’s to completing what you start, hearty appetites and big, soft sandwiches.

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Spring Delights! Asparagus and Morels!

This time of year is filled with so much goodness.  I have been busy with my garden and all of the other 101 distractions that come with spring.  I just love this time of year with all of the plants awakening and blooming.  All of this has led me to neglect posting my recipes.  There are many days where I fix a meal and take a picture but then don’t have the energy to summons writing about it.  Amigo here pretty much captures how I often feel

The other day we took a tandem mountain bike ride through Arcadia.  It was loaded with Trillium and other spring flowers.  It is truly an outstanding trail.  I feel like I am riding through someone’s flower garden for miles and miles.  One of the nicest things about the ride was when we were taking a break, I spotted a morel!  Then we started looking around and found a load of them.  We were with some friends and we all filled our jersey pockets as much as possible.  I think our load was well over 20.  We also picked some wild leeks and with our bounty, I ended up preparing a tasty spring dish.

Here is how I went about the preparation.

1.  Sauted up 4 leeks with a sweet yellow onion for about 5 minutes

2.  Added chopped morels and sauted for another 10 minutes

3.  Then I tossed in some local asparagus until it was tender – 4/5 minutes

Meanwhile I boiled some pasta.

4.  I tossed it together w/ some good olive oil, about 1/2 cup of cream, cherry tomatoes for a little color and a little Parmesean for a touch of decadence.  

More happy things to report are that my Aunt has a new puppy!  He is extremely sweet, smart and adorable.  It was pretty amusing as I haven’t seen her in a while and we both ended up wearing matching skirts :)Hope you are enjoying spring’s bounty as well!

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Scones

One of the things I miss about cable television is folding the laundry and tuning into The Food Network.  Often their recipes have ingredients that I cannot easily obtain  but I always enjoy watching someone who is enthusiastic about food and cooking.  I  emailed my mother this scone recipe by  Giada de Laurentis because Giada makes everything look easy and delicious.  This recipe also has common ingredients.

My mother is the official baker in the family.  She made these for me when I visited and holy cow!  Words don’t do justice for describing how good these scones taste.  I give this 5 forks even though I pretty much inhaled a few by hand without pausing for breath.  I have more of a salt & fat tooth than a sweet tooth but this recipe makes me realize I have lots of teeth.  Thank you mother!  This recipe is a keeper.  Hope you are able to share it with friends or loved ones.

You can find the recipe here

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