Vegetables Every Day

Vegetables Every Day
Carrot Tarator with Beets

Friday, March 30, 2007

Potluck ... corn and bean salad

Roy had a "family favorites" potluck at work...  here is one of ours

Corn and Bean Salad

This has been popular with the whole family. It’s easy to throw together, and easily multiplied.  It also keeps well in the fridge.

Serves 4

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 ½ cups frozen corn, thawed under running water
1 small red bell pepper, chopped
3 green onions, chopped
½ jalapeño pepper, finely minced (optional)
¼ cup cilantro, minced
Juice from 1 large lime
¼ cup olive oil
½ teaspoon cumin
½ - 1 teaspoon mild chili powder
Salt and Pepper to taste

Put beans and vegetables in a bowl. Mix dressing ingredients in a small jar and mix with salad.  Note: there might be a bit much dressing, don’t use it all if you don’t want.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Muffins and humility

This has been a fun weekend.   My folks were up for a visit, Mom and I went to the LPGA Safeway golf tournament on Saturday, and Sunday I played golf with both Mom and Dad.  The weather (which a week ago threatened to go from winter right into summer) was perfect spring weather after a healthy rain Thursday and Friday (my definition of spring weather: warm enough to wear shorts, but not to hot to be in the sun).
I also showed off a bit in the kitchen.  Friday night  Roy's folks were over too, dinner was a big pot of Mediterranean-style fish soup.  It really came out nice (and one of these days I will get it written down).  On Saturday night, we did a nice herb grilled chicken and asparagus.  Simple, but pretty and very good.  Then, on Sunday morning I made muffins, something we do almost every Sunday morning.  Sometimes I make them, sometimes Roy does, but I have made them enough I practically know the recipe by heart.  This morning, Roy opens the oven, and says my muffins look especially flat.  (Roy's muffins always peak higher than mine therefore, much prettier, so I think he is just kidding me a bit).  The timer goes off, I go look, and not only are they really flat, they are not done yet... the problem was the oven was at 350, not 400.  After another 10 minutes in the oven (everyone, coffee in hand, waiting for breakfast), they were ok (and we managed to eat all of them today).  But know I now why Roy's muffins are prettier:  he makes banana muffins with the same recipe (bananas and raisins instead of apples and cranberries), and doesn't have cold cranberries slowing down the process of rising the muffins. 
Here are the recipes for the muffins and the chicken  (to grill the asparagus, just role the asparagus in little olive oil, maybe some balsamic vinegar, add some pepper and grill along side the chicken).
Grilled Savory Chicken
This chicken always comes out nice and moist -- a good one to fix for company (especially since you have to think ahead a little bit to marinate the chicken).  Of course, you don't have to marinate overnight, 20 minutes works.  It comes out best if you use at least half fresh herbs, OK to not follow below exactly (I often use chives since they are usually plentiful in the garden, and skip the marjoram)
 Serves 4
4 half boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 tablespoon fresh minced thyme (or 1 teaspoon dry)
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh minced sage (or 1/2 teaspoon dry)
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh minced rosemary (or 1/2 teaspoon dry)
3/4 teaspoon fresh minced marjoram (or 1/4 teaspoon dry)
3 tablespoons fresh minced parsley
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon salt
Fresh ground pepper
Juice from ½ a lemon
1/3 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 lemon, cut into wedges (garnish)
Flatten chicken breasts to even out the thickness (best to do between sheets of plastic wrap.  Combine all herbs, spices, lemon rind, and oil.  Rub mixture.  Arrange in shallow dish or Ziploc baggie.  Cover and chill overnight if doing ahead.   Grill for 3-4 minutes on each side.  Serve with lemon wedges.
Apple Cranberry Oatmeal Muffins
1 cup old-fashioned oats (or quick cooking)
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg (optional)
dash salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup un-packed brown sugar
1 apple, peeled and cut into chunks
3/4 cup buttermilk or milk or soy milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup cranberries (thawed under running water if frozen)
OVEN:  Preheat to 400oF.  Grease muffin cups with Pam.
Mix oats, flour, baking powder, soda, spices, and salt in a large bowl.
In a food processor, mix eggs and brown sugar until smooth. Add apples, and pulse until small chunks. Add milk, oil, and vanilla.  Put in cranberries, and pulse a few times, to barely chop the cranberries.
Pour the batter on the dry ingredients, and fold together.
Scoop batter into muffins cups (put water into any empty cups). Bake 20 minutes or until springy to the touch in the center.  Turn out onto a rack to cool, we like them hot from the oven.
As always - send your feedback if you try the recipes!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

More pictures from Mom

Just a quick note ...  Mom has added a few more pictures of her paintings.  Take a look!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Beans and Greens

Since its hit 90F in Phoenix today, it seems a bit late to share a recipe for a big pot of beans in the crock pot, but since I was in Toronto last week I know that some places its still very cold (it was never above freezing for the 2 days I was there… but everyone was happy because it wasn’t snowing and the sun actually came out). And I really did make these a couple of weeks ago.   The beans and greens below is a great meal for a cold day, but just in case we don’t have any more cool weather, beans and greens also make a great side dish:   sauté a bit of onion, garlic and/or bacon in a pan, add a can of white beans (drained and rinsed), add a bit of water or broth and heat, then add a bag or bunch of greens… spinach, mustard greens, whatever and cook until wilted.  This is a great side disk with a piece of grilled meat… dinner in 15 minutes.  My last night in Toronto, dinner (at the airport Hilton, since I had a very early flight back home) was beans and greens, with roasted tomatoes stuffed with couscous… pretty good for traveling food, although I could have done without the squeeze bottle decoration of white who knows what cream something on it.

The Gadget: Crock Pot.  I have the crock pot we got as a wedding gift.  Which is starting to get scary, mostly because I remember appliances that my mom had (when I was a kid) from when she got married, and how ancient they seemed.  So my crock pot is > 20 years old, even more ancient in relative terms,  but it still works great, mostly I only use for cooking beans in the winter.  If you want to cook more stuff (like whole chickens) I would recommend a 6-quart model.

The ingredient:  Christmas Lima Beans from Native Seed Search.  These are really wonderful beans.  They are quite large, and  pretty red and white beans that hold their color when cooked.  They have a very meaty texture / taste to them.  When I order the beans, I can’t help but order some chilies or chili powder.  I especially like the mild Hatch Chile powder and the Chipotle chili power or flakes.

Beans and Greens

This is traditionally done with Navy Beans.. but really any kind of beans works.  It makes a lot, but it freezes well (just put single servings in 1 quart freezer baggies).

Serves 8

1 lb dry beans
1 smoked ham hock
1 large onion, diced
1 large carrot, diced (optional)
1 bag baby spinach (optional if you just want more traditional beans)

Rinse the beans, put in the crock pot and cover with water by a couple of inches, and let soak overnight.  Drain the beans, put in the ham hock, onion,  carrot along with beans back in the pot.  At about 7 cups of water (should cover beans by an inch or two, but make sure there is about 1 inch of clearance in the pot).  Start on high for about an hour (or until you leave for work), then cook all day on low. Later in the day (when you are home from work), check the beans… if they are not done, put back on high.  About 30 minutes or so before you are ready to eat, pull out the ham hock.  Let cool a bit, then pull the meat off the bone, pull off any skin or fat.  Put the ham and the greens back in the crock pot (turn on high if its not already).  Cook for about 10 minutes and greens are wilted.  Taste, add a bit of salt if needed.  Also acceptable (especially if you skip the greens) is to serve with catsup.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Freezer Cookies

Freezer Cookies

These oatmeal cookies are one of our favorites, but like most deserts, there is just too much for the two of us to (reasonably) eat before it gets stale.  And I really like cookies best when they are just out of the oven.  So, when I make these, I only cook one or two dozen, the rest are put on foil and popped in the freezer.  When you are ready for cookies again, you just bake another 6 cookies.. perfect weeknight desert for two.  The recipe is the one the used to be oatmeal box, modified for “trans-fat free” cooking:  the shortening has been replaced with butter plus canola oil.

The Gadget:  Toaster Oven.  My toaster oven is used for a long list of things: it includes warming up a piece of pizza, toasting nuts (generally one toast cycle is perfect), baking potatoes (start in the microwave then go into the toaster, and you have a perfectly baked potato in 15 minutes), cooking quesadilla’s (use broil setting), warming bread (wrap in foil), and once in a while, making toast.  Below are the instructions for doing freezer cookies, later on I will post my other favorite toaster oven dessert – fruit crisps!

Oatmeal Cookies


½ cup butter
¼ cup canola oil
1 cup brown sugar, unpacked
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
¼ cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour
½ teaspoon baking soda

3 cups oats (quick cooking or regular)
1 cup raisins  
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup walnuts 

Spray cookie sheets with Pam (or use parchment paper), and heat oven to 350oF.

Cream butter, oil, and sugars, then beat in egg.  Add water and vanilla, beat some more.  Add flour and baking soda, mix on low until blended.  Add oats, raisins, chips, nuts, stir together with a wooden spoon.

Drop onto cookie sheets, bake about 12 minutes or until just starting to brown.

For Freezing:  tear off sheets of foil slightly larger than the tray for your toaster oven.  Spray with Pam.  Drop 6 cookies on foil, and gently wrap foil around the dough (fold the sides in to get a couple of tubes, crimp the ends a bit), then put the rolls into a gallon freezer bag (you should be able to get about 3 per bag).  When you are ready to eat, gently unwrap, put on the tray for the toaster oven, and cook.  Use 12 minutes at 350F as a starting guide, but keep an eye on them (they are best when a little undercooked in my opinion).  For my current oven, I need to bake at 325F.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Whatever to do with all the veggies?

Still trying to figure out what to do with all the veggies?  One suggestion:  Pasta.  We eat a variation on this most weeks (usually mid- week – when you have a one leftover sausage, some random vegetables, you’re hungry and it’s 6:30pm!) . 

This is more a technique than a recipe, and sometimes it will come out better than others.  I never measure while doing this (it goes much faster), and its always different which makes it possible to eat every week.   If you are having a hard time visualizing (or are planning trip to the store as opposed to sorting through the vegetable bin to figure out what’s a week old vs. 3 weeks old) here are few ideas:  Asparagus, onions, guyere, and ham…  or Mushrooms, broccoli, garlic and onions with chicken sausage.   Last week we did onions, garlic, lots of red pepper flakes, zucchini, red bell peppers, leftover grilled chicken sausage,  with bow tie pasta, white wine and cream sauce…

The Gadget:  Boos Block cutting board.  Really any big cutting board will work so that you are able to just cut up the veggies and leave on the board until you are ready to use.  Handy accessory:  a chef’s scoop  to move stuff into the pan.

The Ingredient:  Chicken and/or turkey sausage.  There are several brands out there, Adelle’s is pretty commonly available, lately we have mostly been getting Gerhard’s from Trader Joe’s.  They come with feta and pine nuts, or pesto, sometimes smoked.. lots of options. They have a long shelf life so you don’t need to cook right away. They are pre-cooked, great on the grill.  But we can’t each the whole package (4 or 5 sausages), and the left-overs are great in pasta, pizza, salads… what-ever.

Pasta Whatever

Serves 2 plus some leftovers for lunch

Start boiling water (with some salt) for pasta.  Use whatever pasta you have around, I like the chunky kinds best (like penne or bow ties), but spaghetti works too.  Below proportions are for 1/2 pound of pasta, which are perfect for the 2 of use plus one or two lunches. 

Meanwhile, prep whatever else:
  • Vegetables (blanched):  Use up to 1-3 cups of asparagus, peas, broccoli or other vegetables cut in bite size pieces.  The trick -- add to pasta pot and cook (need to judge how much time to cook the veggies, generally add 2-3 minutes before the pasta is done).
  • Aromatics and other Vegetables (sautéed): I always use some onions or garlic or shallots.  Use up to 1-2 cups of onions, shallots, mushrooms, zucchini, and/or bell peppers.  Red pepper flakes are good to throw in too.  Spinach or other greens are great (best if chopped a bit), add just before adding the pasta.
  • Meat (optional): Leftover roasted or grilled meat, chicken or sausage (cut into chunks),  or black forest ham (cut sandwich slices into strips).  Bacon or other raw meats (chicken, shrimp) are also great, but you will need to start in a separate skillet while pasta cooks.
  • Herbs: whatever you like, .  Fresh basil (when I get from my herb garden in the summer) is great, if I don’t have fresh herbs, I usually don’t bother.  Add with the pasta.
  • Cheese: Usually I use a hard cheese (like parmesan)  but again, whatever you have on hand.. about ½ cup, shredded.  Goat cheese is also yummy, but do try to avoid anything stringy when it melts (like mozzarella).
  • Nuts:  A nice addition if there is no meat.  Walnuts or pine nuts, toasted in the toaster oven (1 cycle through “toast” on a foil lined pan) are good.
  • Other… Tomatoes (good fresh ones, chopped), olives, other leftover veggies…

When the pasta (and vegetables if you cooked w/ pasta) is done, dip a 1 cup measuring cup in the water and set aside, then drain and leave pasta in the colander.   Put the pasta pot back on the stove over medium high heat  and add a bit of olive oil (a little less than a tablespoon), add red pepper flakes if desired, and sauté vegetables.  When they get soft, or dry (which ever comes first), add white wine or broth or pasta water or a combination, total about 1/2 cup.  Or – if you are feeling rich, add some cream (1/4 a cup) along with broth or wine.  Put the cooked pasta and veggies back in the pot, add the cheese (and nuts if you are using), warm up a bit on the stove..  If it seems a bit dry, add some pasta water.  The give a good twist of pepper and serve… 

[Edit:  Today, I cook the pasta in one pot, and the veggies in a large saute pan.  If using veggies that need to cook a bit, I just steam in the saute pan.  When the pasta is done, I transfer from the pasta pot to the saute pan with a large slotted spoon or tongs]

Next day – make into pasta salad… add a few drops of vinegar, maybe a little salt and pepper.  Best if let warm up little before eating.

Let me know if you like it!