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Posts Tagged ‘cheese’

Time for another recipe! I’m sure many of you have had the experience of making so much of an amazing dish that you end up with amazing leftovers. But sometimes, no matter how amazing the leftovers are, you’re just not in the mood for the same dish twice. When this happened to me this summer, I got creative and turned last night’s dinner into a totally new breakfast.

The Dinner

As I’ve discussed in previous posts, our garden was overflowing with squash and tomatoes this year. One way I enjoyed eating up these veggies was making a chunky, fresh pasta sauce. I’ve never been a fan of using a lot of canned ingredients, so I like to make my own “sauces” using veggies and spices, which I toss with brown rice pasta.

I’m not overly strict, but I am basically wheat-free, and brown rice pasta hits the spot when one of my carb cravings comes along. I like Tinkyada brand pasta, though I’m sure there are many good brands.

my favorite pasta

These pastas have a great energy saving cooking method, too. Simply boil for 5 minutes, and let sit covered for another 20 minutes. I find that it’s almost impossible to overcook brown rice pasta, so its perfect for multi-tasking and making a sauce at the same time.

Chunky Veggie Pasta Sauce

Anyway, back to the sauce . . . as with most of my cooking, I use what’s seasonal and available. Here is what I put in the sauce:

  • 1 large yellow squash, chopped
  • 5 small-medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh corn kernels
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • fresh and/or dried herbs (I used oregano, basil, and thyme, dried and fresh)
  • 1-2 Tbs olive oil
  • splash white wine (because, as I’ve said before, wine makes everything better)
  • salt and pepper to taste

This is a very general recipe. Basically, I just sauté a bit of garlic and herbs in olive oil, throw in a bunch of fresh veggies and herbs that I think are delicious, and splash some white wine on top before serving. I toss the “sauce” with the pasta (I put this in parentheses because it’s really more like sautéed veggies and liquid than sauce–but still delicious), top with parm, and serve. It makes a wonderful, easy, healthy, dinner.

Leftover Veggie Egg Bake

But let’s get down to the main event: using up the leftovers. The pasta sauce could’ve served four, but only two of us ate it, so we had leftovers. I didn’t feel like pasta two nights in a row, but I needed to use up all the food becuase the garden doesn’t wait! So, I decided to use the veggie pasta sauce to add some veg-power to our breakfast. I added some eggs and feta cheese (for a bit of fanciness), and ended up with a protien and veggie-packed morning meal.

Ingredients:

  • about 2 cups chunky veggie sauce (this is just what I had leftover–any amount would work)*
  • 2 eggs*
  • 1/4 cup feta cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

*I used about a 1:1 ratio for cups of veggie sauce to eggs, and I liked the results. However this dish was very heavy on the veggies, and I would up the eggs for a more quiche-like dish. Also, if you’re using a sauce with more liquid, you also may want to up the egg ratio and cook for a bit longer, so the end result isn’t too soupy.

Directions:

  • Step 1: Preheat oven to 450°.
  • Step 2: Use a fork to stir the eggs, breaking the yokes, in a large bowl.
  • Step 3: Add the leftover veggies, feta, salt, and pepper, making sure the eggs coat everything thoroughly.
  • Step 4: Pour the egg and veggie mixture into a glass baking dish.
  • Step 5: Bake for 45 minutes to an hour. (45 minutes leaves a bit of liquid, while an hour should be enough to remove all the excess moisture for a firmer dish.)
  • Step 6: Let cool slightly, and serve!

veggie leftovers egg bake © 2012, Juniper Stokes

This breakfast, made from two eggs and leftovers, tasted like gourmet brunch. This is my favorite new method for all veggie leftovers and I highly recommend it. Enjoy!

veggie leftovers egg bake © 2012, Juniper Stokes

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Well, pumpkin blossoms, to be more accurate. This year our pumpkin plant is out of control. Its vines must run at least 16 feet along our garden fence, and everyday we see more beautiful bright orange blossoms opening and begging for attention.

pumpkin blossom in the garden © 2012, Juniper Stokes

Eventually I noticed that only some of these blossoms were turning into actual pumpkins. I knew squash blossoms were edible, but hesitated to gather them for fear that I would be stealing one of the few blossoms that actually bore fruit. So, I did a bit of research. It turns out there are two types of blossoms on the same plant, male and female, and only the female blossoms bear fruit! So, how do you tell the difference? The female blossoms will already have a miniature version of the squash at their base. Check out pictures here:

Male and female squash blossom pictures.

I’ve also noticed that male blossoms tend to stick straight up along the vine, while females will more often aim downward.

Since learning to gather only male blossoms, I have been going squash blossom crazy this summer! I add them to sautés and soups, put them in quesadillas, steam them and serve lightly salted, and of course, stuff them. I have perfected my stuffed quash blossom recipe this summer, so here is the step-by-step to making amazing stuffed squash blossoms.

Ingredients

  • about 8 squash or pumpkin blossoms
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup fresh mixed herbs, chopped
  • 3 oz goat cheese
  • 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

To be honest, I’m a very intuitive cook and never really measure anything. But if you stick to these basic ingredients and ratios, with a dose of your own intuition, you will end up with something delicious.

Gathering the Blossoms

Now that you know how to tell male from female blossoms, it’s time to gather them. Every few days we’ll have several blossoms blooming at once, and  I generally wait for one of these days to do my gathering. It’s best to pick the blossoms in the morning, when they are in full bloom, as they tend to wilt and close down later in the day. And, the blossoms only bloom for a day, so don’t expect to go back for the same blossom the next day. Also, make sure to leave a few blossoms for pollination–the girls do need a few boys!

To pick each blossom, simply cut the  stem an inch or so below the blossom. Wear gloves or a long sleeved shirt if you have sensitive skin, because squash and pumpkin plants are prickly.

Preparing the Blossoms

It’s easiest to prepare the blossoms immediately after picking them, when they are still open. They will close up after a few hours, which makes preparation more difficult, though still doable.

pumpkin blossoms immediately after picking © 2012, Juniper Stokes

pumpkin blossoms later in the day © 2012, Juniper Stokes

After gently washing the blossoms, reach in and pinch off the stamen. It’s fine to leave the stems on because they are completely edible, and are actually one of my favorite parts once cooked!

Making the Filling

To make the filling, first add the egg to your mixing bowl and stir with a fork to break the yoke.

Next, stir in the chopped herbs. I’ve tried all different combinations here, usually some variation of chives, basil, parsley, and tarragon, and every time has been delicious. My favorite by a margin though was 2/3 cup chives and 1/3 cup tarragon. Amazing.

Now stir in the cheese. I like to use coarsely chopped goat cheese and mozzarella, though feel free to experiment with your own favorites.

Once all the ingredients are mixed, the filling should have a thick, malleable consistency.

the filling © 2012, Juniper Stokes

Stuffing the Blossoms

Now for the fun part. First, prepare a baking dish by placing a small amount of olive oil in the bottom. You will gently coat the blossoms in olive oil as you add them to the dish. Next, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Take the first blossom and gently open its petals. you can use a spoon to scoop in the filling, but I find it’s easier just to get messy and use my fingers. I grab a small bit and gently press it into the blossom until it’s almost full, then gently close the petals again, pinching them together at the top.

Once the blossom is stuffed, roll it in the olive oil and line it up in the baking dish.

Baking

Once the blossoms are ready, bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes. You’ll want the filling to cook, but the blossoms to retain their delicate taste, so make sure to take them out before the blossoms turn brown.

YUM © 2012, Juniper Stokes

Now you’re ready to serve. Enjoy!

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