Confettii Basmati

This post is short and sweet, just like the dinner. It is all about leftovers and garden veggies, which is always a priority for us during the summer months. Earlier in the week, we had Indian Stew (a variation of the Moroccan Stew), and I made extra basmati rice. In an attempt to clean out the fridge and use up our garden veggies, I pulled out the rice, a leftover ear of Iowa sweet corn, a quarter of a yellow squash, a quarter of a red onion, and various shades and quantities of bell peppers.

20140903_165451

I diced it up, sautéed the veg in a smidgen of olive oil, and added a bit of garlic sea salt and a pinch of saffron. Lastly, I added the rice and made sure everything got warm. Easy and tasty.20140903_165913

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

First Snow Kugel

To celebrate my new (to me) oven and the first snow of the year, I wanted to bake a kugel. I’ve never taken a bite of kugel, but I’ve known for a long time that I was destined to love kugel. And, I was right.

Somewhere in early life, I must have heard of kugels, but it didn’t register. Upon reading Miriam’s Kitchen (one of my favorite food memoirs), I started to dream about the possibilities of making a kugel, as Ehrlich notes, they “can be sweet or savory, crisp or creamy” (241). She explains, “A kugel is baked and substantial, mixed in advance, then left to the heat” and “my grandmother’s kugel had autumn in it: chopped apples and raisins, and sometimes walnuts and other times lemon zest or a dollop of orange marmalade melting into the beaten egg. It was like a toothsome crustless apple pie with silken noodles sauced in apple spice” (241). See what I mean?

I took the basics of my kugel recipe from Ehrlich’s and the one from Smitten Kitchen (I’ve plugged this blog often, and that’s because it is amazing). And, the glory of the kugel is the diversity of the dish. For example, this time I made more of a dessert-y kugel, but I’m already thinking of a savory kugel with butternut squash, walnuts, and hints of feta.

Ingredients

1 lb egg noodles (I used extra wide–made by the Ohio Amish)

8 large eggs (though you might try just six for less eggy-ness, especially if adding something like squash)

2/3 cup sugar (for a savory, I’d leave out sugar)

20 oz cottage cheese (I used lowfat because that’s what was in the fridge)

12 oz ricotta cheese (again, lowfat)

1 1/2 sticks of butter, melted

seeds scraped from 1/2 vanilla pod

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 cup dried currants

1 cup dried apricots, halved

Recipe

Preheat oven to 350. Be sure your pan is deep enough so that when the butter bubbles, it doesn’t spill over and burn like mine did (thankfully, the kugel was okay).

Cook the noodles until just soft. Don’t let them get mushy. Rinse and drain.

In a big mixing bowl, beat the eggs. While beating the eggs, add sugar, both kinds of cheese, butter, and spices. As you can imagine, having them already measured and ready to dump in is more than helpful. Stir in the dried fruit. You might also add nuts, if you like.

Pour into a large cake pan (no need to grease). Is is good if there are some noodles floating on the top, as they will crisp and become as irresistible as the peaks on a meringue.

Bake for at least an hour (the eggs have to set). You may need more time, and you do want the top to be nice and crisp but not burned. Serve warm or room temperature. Enjoy!

Posted in noodles, Recipes | Leave a comment

Harvest Delight Baked Pears with Currants and Walnuts

After making pears for Baby H (cubing and cooking with cinnamon), I had two pears left over. I’m not a fan of eating a pear, especially if it has gone the slightest bit soft, and these had some brown spots. So, I decided that if I baked them, the spots wouldn’t matter. I was right.

A quick search for baked pears led me to this simple (and snarky) recipe from Blue Kitchen. I followed it but for cutting it in half. This was a perfect “afters” for the Butternut Squash and Kale lasagna. Some of us topped it with a bit of whipped cream.

Ingredients:

4 firm, ripe pears (I used Bartlett because that is what I had, but I think the red pears would be beautiful for this dish. I also only had two pears!)
1/4 cup Sugar in the Raw
1/4 cup dark brown sugar

3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 cup dried currants
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup water [or more]

If you would like a bit of richness, slip a sliver of butter into each pear

Recipe:

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Core pears. My husband bought an apple corer, and I never appreciated until this task. It was easy to remove the stem that runs the length of the pear. Ah, convenience. Place into a glass dish, and if they won’t stand up, cut the bottom flat.

Mix dry ingredients and use a funnel or piece of paper to fill the pears. Mix the water into the remainder of the dry ingredients, and pour this into the dish. Bake for 30 minutes, and try to spoon the syrupy nuts and currants into and over the pears at least twice. Drizzle the syrup on a pretty dish, place the pear on the dish, and pour a bit more syrup over the top. Enjoy!

Posted in Recipes | 1 Comment

Acorn Squash with Apple and Quinoa Stuffing

Again, we are swimming in squash. From our last farm share, I picked out a cute little acorn squash. Why are diminutive foods so much more enticing? Perhaps I had this picked out as a side dish. For a full meal, you might use a regular size acorn squash.

These were a perfect complement to crockpot rotisserie chicken. I tweaked a recipe from All Recipes. The house smelled very good, like harvest time.

Ingredients

  • 1 acorn squash, halved 
  • 2/3 cup quinoa
  • 1 1/3 cups water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons butter
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 leek, cut into quarters and sliced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, diced (peel left on)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar (if you are not a fan of vinegar, you could skip this or else substitute apple juice or broth)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup shredded Romano cheese

Recipe

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Bake squash until tender. I used a small squash, so it took very little time. You may leave the seeds in until it is cooked and it is easier to remove all of the thready stuff.

Cook quinoa to the product’s specification. For most quinoa in the U.S., there is no need to rinse to rid it of bitterness. Stir in the butter and salt and pepper. I used red quinoa, which was a lovely color combination with orange squash.

In a heavy pan, heat the olive oil and cook the onion, pepper and celery until the onion turns translucent. Add the diced apple, and cook until everything is almost tender. Be careful not to overcook, as it can be mushy. Next, add the garlic and ginger, the vinegar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. I also added fenugreek, since I am nursing and trying to keep up my milk supply. Mix in the cooked quinoa and heat through until the liquid cooks off and the spices get into everything.

Scoop out about an inch of baked acorn squash, chop if necessary, and mix that into the quinoa. Fill the squash halves with quinoa, slightly mounding it. You can top this with the cheese, or you might try nuts or dried cranberries. Pop them under the broiler long enough to melt the cheese and warm up the squash. Enjoy!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Butternut Squash and Kale Lasagna

My husband is in love with squash, and his frequent refrain lately is, “when are you going to make butternut squash soup?” And, I plan on making it, but we need to find some other means of consuming the large store of squash in the pantry. I’ve made baby food, and Baby H loves it, but again, one baby can only eat so much squash. Plus, we have other veggies from our farm share/latest farmer’s market foray.

A big pan of pasta (or anything, really) is a boon in this house. It means one afternoon of cooking and then time off for doing things like playing with the baby or working on my dissertation. Hah. But, my casual response to the perennial question was, “I’m making butternut squash lasagna,” and I went about my day of playing with the baby and working on my dissertation (and doing laundry, etc., etc.).

With regular lasagna, I have become competent enough (the crock pot failure does not count) to throw something together and have a wonderful dish, but this pan is not the usual tomato sauce concoction I know so well. It would be a white sauce, and I’ve never done a white sauce. I didn’t want to do a white sauce.

So, I looked up several (maybe a dozen) recipes, looking, in vain, for a butternut squash recipe that has tomato sauce. No such thing, and upon some more thinking about it, that makes sense. It could be done, and it could even be tasty, but it was not in the cards. Besides, A just brought home three containers of milk.

I mostly followed the Good Housekeeping recipe, honestly, because it was one of the simplest. I tweaked it, according to what I had on hand and my own taste. I swapped out Swiss chard for kale and Parmesan for Romano. I added fenugreek because it’s good for nursing moms, and I like the taste. I opted to halve and bake the squash without peeling and cubing it as a time saver, since the squash needed to be mashed anyway. Sure it took a smidge longer to bake, but I played with a baby instead of standing around chopping and peeling.

Ingredients

  • whole package of whole wheat lasagna noodles
  • 1 large butternut squash, halved
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1 large bunch of kale (or other green), discard stems
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon fenugreek
  • ¼ teaspoon dried thyme (or fresh if you have it)
  • 4 cups milk (I used Lactaid)
  • ¾ cup grated Romano cheese

 
Recipe

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Halve the squash, never mind the seeds just yet. In a large cake pan (probably what you’ll use for the lasagna—why dirty another dish), lay the squash down and add two inches of water. Bake until the skin turns brown and it feels soft (varies with the size of the squash). Cook lasagna noodles as directed. Mind that they don’t stick together. When done, let cool a bit and spoon out the squash into a bowl, mashing it as you go. In a large, heavy pot, heat olive oil. Add sliced onions and cook until translucent. Next, tear the kale from the stems and put it into a large pot with the onions. Add ½ cup water and let the kale cook down. Add water as needed. Set aside. In same pot, melt butter (don’t let it burn) and add flour and thyme and nutmeg, whisking all the while. Cook for a minute. Slowly add the milk and mind that it does not scald or boil over. Bring it to a boil and boil for a minute, stirring all the while. Stir in cheese—put aside ¼ cup for topping—and remove from heat.

Assembly. Begin with a goodly amount of sauce on the bottom of your pan. Lay down the first layer of noodles. Next, layer the greens and onion mixture. Cover with sauce and another layer of noodles. Now, spread evenly the squash and cover with the final layer of noodles. Pour on the remaining sauce and sprinkle the Romano on top. I garnished with fresh twigs of thyme from my garden. Bake for 30 minutes, with foil, and ten more without foil. Let stand before serving. Enjoy!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Salmon en papillote

Though I was recently lamenting that I’ve not read a book in 5 months, I did have time to snag a new cookbook, Steaming Basics, from the public library. This book is AMAZING, especially if you have a fascination with dim sum. I’ve always been a fan of steam cooking. It’s fast, healthy, easy to clean up, and the food keeps its flavor better.

Since I became pregnant with our son, my mother-in-law has had us for Sunday dinners, and she’s really been there for us. For her birthday this month, I wanted to make a Sunday dinner for her, and I wanted it to be special. She’s a big salmon fan, and this dish was fun because it was like opening a present.

I mostly followed the recipe from the book. It is incredibly simple yet fancy and tasty. The sour cream creates a simple “sauce” that compliments the fish. I used wild caught sockeye salmon, with amazing flavor and color.

Ingredients:

Parchment Paper and string

Fresh spinach leaves, enough for 4 small handfuls

4 Tbsp sour cream

Salmon filets, about 4 ounces each and no skin

24 grape tomatoes

Fresh dill sprigs

Recipe:

Cut four pieces of parchment paper, a bit larger than office paper size. You need to be able to gather it and seal it well enough to keep out the steam.  Place paper flat and layer ingredients. Spinach, sour cream, Salmon, dill, and tomatoes on the sides. Gather up the sides (nothing fancy), making sure you don’t have any gaps to let steam in, and tie it at the top. Put in a steamer and steam for 12-15 minutes.

Enjoy!

Posted in Recipes | Leave a comment

Five Spice Oatmeal Cookies

I am hosting a play group/mommy support group for our local chapter of Bradley Method for Natural Childbirth. Our group includes moms, moms to be, the smallest newborns, toddlers, and even young children. As you can imagine, all of the playing and talking makes people hungry, so there are always snacks. This can be tricky with being mindful of nutrition, food allergies, and snacks that could choke babies. But, it should also be fun and part of the overall experience.

Since it is a morning play group, I decided to have a “breakfast” theme, with fresh fruit, juice, and oatmeal–cookies. Because I am normally a flop with baking, I turned to one of my favorite foodie blogs, Smitten Kitchen, for inspiration, and I found it.

I used Smitten Kitchen’s recipe for Thick, Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, adapted for my personal taste and my finicky oven. Thinking of my other cookie flops, I decided to try the recipe ahead and freeze the dough, to bake the night before. A friend came by to talk baby stuff, and I got her to eat a couple cookies. She said, “What are you talking about!? You can totally make awesome, scrumptious cookies,” or something like that. I’m just paraphrasing.

Ingredients:

1 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon Chinese Five Spice Powder (or Cinnamon)
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups rolled oats
1 1/2 cup raisins (or other dried fruit. I want to try diced apricots and almonds next time)
1 cup walnuts, chopped (I omitted these to be safe for nut allergies)

Preheat oven to 350°F

Recipe:

In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, egg, and vanilla. In another bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, Five Spice Powder, and salt together. Stir the dry mixture into the wet mixture. Next, stir in the oats, raisins and walnuts.

Chill the dough in the fridge or freezer to set the butter. You can chill the whole bowl, make the scoops and chill those, or make the cookie balls and put them on the prepared cookie sheet and chill. It depends on whether you are baking the whole batch right away. I was not, so the sheet in the freezer worked well for me. 

The cookies should be two inches apart on a SILPAT parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake them for 10 to 12 minutes. Baking time may varies, depending on the oven and the temperature of the cookies (My oven is off by 100 degrees, most of the time. We need a new one, but we also needed a new clothes washer, and since we use cloth diapers, the washer won out for now). Remove when they start to crisp around the edges but are not yet done in the center. Let them sit on the hot baking sheet for five minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack. Makes several dozen.

Enjoy!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment