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Posts Tagged ‘Food and Recipes’

Yum. I made this dish for the first time few nights ago, and I am so happy with how well it turned out. Crunchy green beans and walnuts, combined with pungent blue cheese and red onion, make a wonderfully rich and savory salad. I served this as a side to a great (and garlicky) pot of healthy winter vegetable soup. The meal was a resounding success. Again, yum.

Green Bean and New Potato Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 pound green beans, chopped into 2″ pieces
  • 2-6 golden and purple new potatoes*
  • about 1/4 red onion, sliced thinly
  • 1/4 cup raw walnuts (or roasted, if you prefer), roughly chopped
  • about 5 oz. blue cheese, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, coarsely chopped
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 Tbs balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper, to taste

*For this version, I just threw in two little potatoes for fun and a bit of color. Next time, I would use about six–they were good! On the other hand, I think you could easily leave them out and make a strictly green bean salad that is equally delicious.

Directions

  1. Thinly slice the potatoes. Add them to the bottom of a steamer with already boiling water.
  2. After about 8 minutes, add the green beans. Continue to boil for another 6 minutes or so. Let cool.
  3. While the beans and potatoes are steaming, prepare the onions, walnuts, and parsley. Thinly slice the onion and coarsely chop the walnuts and parsley, mixing all together in a salad bowl.
  4. Once the beans have cooled a bit, add them to the bowl. Drizzle olive oil to coat, with balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper, to taste. Toss all ingredients together to mix.
  5. Serve immediately, or chill for a bit to let flavors meld.
© 2012, Juniper Stokes

© 2012, Juniper Stokes

The Soup

When I prepared the soup to go with this meal, I really just threw whatever vegetables I had on hand in a bit pot with a lot of garlic and herbs. I didn’t take any pictures or write anything down because I wasn’t expecting an amazing soup–just a good healthy soup to fulfill my winter-weather cravings. But of course the soup ended up being ridiculously amazing, and my cousin’s wife (who was present at the meal) has been asking me for the recipe. So, for her and anyone else who wants to stick to our overall meal plan, here is my best guess for how to recreate my stellar soup.

Ingredients

  • 1 butternut squash, chopped
  • 1 turnip, chopped
  • 1/2 white/golden onion, chopped
  • 4 new potatoes, quartered
  • 6 baby bella mushrooms, quartered
  • 1//4 cup green beans, chopped
  • 1 cup frozen kale
  • 1 head garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1/3 cup loosely packed fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp dried sage
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 quart broth/water*
  • splash white wine
  • grated parmesan to top

*I only had about half a box of veggie bouillon on hand, so I added that and used water to cover the rest of the vegetables. I honestly think water works just as well as bouillon in any well-seasoned soup.

Again, I just threw whatever I had in a big pot and hoped for the best. The soup was great, but next time I might decide to leave out the mushrooms. Or to add tomato. Feel free to play with whatever you have on hand. The key ingredient in this soup is actually the fresh parsley–it made a huge difference in the flavor. And of course the wine. As my regular readers will know, I add wine to everything I cook. I guess it’s my good luck charm.

Directions

First, prepare the squash by roasting it at 450 degrees for about 40 minutes. At this point, the squash should be easy to remove from its skin, but not yet cooked all the way through. (Remember to save the seeds! Perfectly Cooked Pumpkin Seeds)

Next, set the potatoes to boil. Like squash, potatoes take quite awhile to cook through, so these extra steps make a difference in how quickly the soup is ready.  Allow the potatoes to boil until they are just over halfway cooked (about 12 minutes) and remove from heat.

While the squash and potatoes are cooking, begin to prepare the rest of the vegetables. Once everything is chopped and ready to go, add the onion, garlic, herbs, salt, pepper, and olive oil to the bottom of a big pot. Sauté these ingredients together over medium heat until the onion begins to turn clear.

Next, add the mushrooms, turnip, beans, and potatoes, and continue to sauté for another 8 minutes or so.

By this time, the squash should be done roasting. Turn the heat to low and let the veggies continue to cook gently while you prepare the squash. Once the squash is ready, turn the heat back up to medium, add the squash, and continue to cook everything together for another 5 minutes.

At this point, all the veggies should be just about cooked through and steeped in herby goodness, so add the broth and water. Bring the liquid to a boil, reduce heat, and stir in the kale. Continue to simmer for another 12 minutes.

Next, stir in the fresh parsley, and continue to simmer for another 5 minutes or so.

The last step is to turn off the heat and stir in a splash of wine. Top with salt, pepper, and parmesan to taste.

The bright orange squash and dark green kale make this quite a pretty soup, and with all the garlic and vitamin-packed vegetables, it’s incredible healthy and perfect for warming up during winter. I’ll definitely add a picture next time I make this!

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I was doing a bit of shopping at Whole Foods the other day when I noticed that radicchio was half off the regular price. Now, I’ve never cooked with radicchio before, nor have I thought much about what it actually is . . . . It’s always just been one of those fancy ingredients casually referenced in gourmet foodie magazines that sounds somehow familiar yet also unidentifiable. But on this particular trip to the store, the bright yellow half off tag caught my attention, and though I had absolutely no idea what to do with the vegetable, I decided it would be a good time to learn.

In case you’re wondering, radicchio looks a bit like small purple cabbage:

Česky: červená čekanka

radicchio, from Wikipedia’s creative commons

I did a bit of research on different ways to cook radicchio, and I found several interesting recipes. In the end, I decided to keep the ingredients as simple as possible. After all, it was my first time actually tasting radicchio, so I really wanted to taste it! As it turns out, radicchio has a very bitter taste. While nutritional medicine and Ayurveda remind us that we need all types of flavors in our palate, I found the bitterness of this vegetable alone to be a bit much. In order to balance the bitterness, I roasted the radicchio until it was almost caramelized and topped it with a bit of lemon juice and parmesan. The result made a subtly bitter and balanced dish that works perfectly as a small side.

Roasted Radicchio

Ingredients

  • 1 head radicchio
  • 1 small white onion
  • juice of 1/4 large lemon
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1/4 cup shredded parmesan
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Slice the onion and radicchio (many people also prepare the radicchio as wedges), and place them in a glass baking dish. Add the olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper and toss to coat. Bake covered for about 15 minutes. Uncover, and gently stir and turn the vegetables. Cook uncovered for another 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, stir the vegetables again, top with parmesan, and cook for another 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, and serve.

Roasted Radicchio © 2012, Juniper Stokes

Enjoy!

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I eat salad all summer long, and I don’t always like to give up my daily salads as summer turns to fall and fall turns to winter. But I do like to eat seasonally, and now that it’s November, what’s more seasonal than pumpkin and squash? Adding a bit of curried pumpkin and feta cheese to an otherwise basic salad makes this easy staple suddenly seasonal and gourmet . . . and surprisingly easy to prepare!

Ingredients (serves 2 as a main)

  • 1/4 acorn squash (okay, I used squash in my salad, but I’m sure any winter variety, including pumpkin, would work)
  • 1/4 c crumbled feta
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 cucumber, chopped
  • 4 radishes, sliced
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1 avocado, chopped
  • 2 c lettuce, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp curry powder
  • 2 Tbs flax oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

First, steam the acorn squash (or pumpkin) for about 20 min. While the squash is steaming, sprinkle a bit of curry powder on top. I won’t lie–there are probably more professional ways to create delicious curried squash. But when I cook for myself, I like quick and easy, and this method is the quickest and easiest I’ve found. Once the squash is fully steamed, use a vegetable peeler to take off the skin, and then chop the squash into bite-sized pieces.

While the squash is steaming, you can prepare the rest of the salad. Chop or slice all the veggies and put them a bowl. Then add the feta. It’s as easy as that.

Once the salad is prepared and the steamed squash is on top, you can dress the salad. Following the easy=good method, I put the dressing ingredients directly on the salad, rather than premixing them. I think curry and basil make a great combo, so I first sprinkle a bit of dried basil on top, followed a bit of salt and pepper. Next, add the flax oil. I like the nutty flavor flax adds to this dish, and flax is rich in those ever-important omega 3s. Finally, top the salad with the balsamic vinegar, toss, and enjoy.

curried pumpkin and feta salad © 2012, Juniper Stokes

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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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Our tomato harvest this year has been our most successful ever. It’s our first year starting the plants from seed with our new greenhouse, and the results have been amazing.

tomato time © 2012, Juniper Stokes

And can I just give a shout out to heirlooms?  I love the rich color variations, ranging from “tomato” red (haha) to deep violet. And the sweet, true tomato flavor completely spoils me. I don’t know how I’ll go back to store bought this winter (yes, I do try to eat seasonally, but I just can’t go 6+ months without fresh tomatoes).

With all these beautiful tomatoes to play with, I’ve been busy experimenting in the kitchen this year. One of my favorite new recipes is a very simple cold tomato soup that allows the pure flavors of the tomatoes to shine. The soup is packed with healthy ingredients, naturally rich, and completely vegan. With a bit of attention to ingredients, this summer soup can easily be made raw.

Tomato Summer Soup

Ingredients:

  • about 6 medium-small tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup packed fresh basil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tsp agave*
  • 1/4 cup olive oil*
  • salt to taste

*Not all agave nectars and olive oils are raw, but raw versions are available. Try Xagave and Bariani olive oil.

Instructions:

The instructions are really pretty easy–put everything in a food processor and voila! I chop the tomatoes into fourths before blending, as well as the garlic. I recommend serving this soup in small bowls or cocktail glasses, as it really is rich.

tomato summer soup © 2012, Juniper Stokes

Variations:

I’ve also made this soup with a combination of basil and parsley, as well as extra garlic. With these ingredients, you can’t go wrong. A bit of parsley is delicious, and more garlic to taste only ups the health benefits.

For the raw foodies among you, I think this would make a great raw sauce for zucchini pasta.

Once again, enjoy!

 

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I love fresh green beans. They are one of my favorite summer foods. And the green beans from our garden are top notch. I don’t know what the magic factor is, but I swear, there is something special about our garden’s green beans. Even my lizard (a bearded dragon who lived a long and happy life) would snub store-bought beans in favor of our home grown ones.

Maybe it’s all the love and good vibes we send to the garden . . . or maybe it’s the organic compost painstakingly collected all year. Whatever the reason, I’m very happy to be able to walk out the back door and eat fresh beans off the vine.

This year, we tried some tri-colored bush beans in addition to regular green beans:

purple, yellow, and green beans from the garden © 2012, Juniper Stokes

With beans this good, I find simpler is better for serving them. Here’s my favorite way to enjoy garden beans.

Perfectly Steamed Green Beans with Dill

  • 1-2 cups green beans (or tri-colored!)
  • 1/2 tsp dried dill
  • butter, salt, and pepper to taste*

*I use olive oil instead of butter to make a vegan version.

First, prepare the beans by washing them and trimming the ends. I like to leave the beans long, but but feel free to chop them into bite-sized pieces if you prefer. Next, bring a small amount of water to boil under a steamer insert in the bottom of a medium-sized pot. Once the water is boiling, turn the burner to medium heat and add the beans. Next sprinkle the dill over the beans to allow them to absorb the flavor as they cook.  For perfectly steamed beans, cook covered for 5 minutes, then remove the beans from the heat. The beans can continue to sit in the steamer for another 4-5 minutes without getting too mushy. Serve the beans with a dollop of butter and salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!

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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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