Monday, August 30, 2010

Hello, Asheville! (and turkey meatballs)

Our first meal in Asheville. Okay, so really our 5th meal, but our first cooked-by-me-with-heat-on-the-stove meal in Asheville. The kitchen’s not completely unpacked yet, but we’re getting close. The rest of the condo? Oh, dear. I have high hopes we’ll be unpacked soon, but in the meantime, here’s a fancy recipe for you. It’s easy and mostly delicious.

I was inspired by a meal we had at our friends’ house last month. We actually told them we were leaving Cherokee County over this same meal: turkey meatballs and spaghetti. I asked Daphne if she had a recipe, and she told me her method. I tried to recreate.

(sidenote; next year’s resolution will likely involve me making up more recipes. I like to look ahead to things, so yeah. I’ve started thinking about my 2011 resolution in August).

I wrote the recipe down as I went, and here’s what I’ve got:

1 LB ground turkey
1/2 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
3 green onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 t Italian seasoning
1/2 t kosher salt
1/4 t freshly ground black pepper
1 egg white

Combine in a large bowl. Form the mixture into meatballs. I got 19 irregularly shaped meatballs. Place meatballs on a plate and put in fridge for a few minutes to firm up. Meanwhile, heat a non-stick skillet over medium. Brown meatballs on all sides; remove to a clean plate.
Add 1 teaspoon olive oil to the skillet and saute 1 medium zucchini (sliced). Return meatballs to pan and add 1 jar tomato sauce. Simmer until meatballs are cooked through.
I was concerned the turkey meatballs wouldn’t be cooked all the way through, so I let the whole thing simmer for over 30 minutes. 30 minutes was too long if you ask me, because the Newman’s Own marinara sauce (which I didn’t even know I had until I packed our groceries for the move) definitely thickened too much. I thinned it out with water at the end, because it really was getting gloppy.

The meatballs were flavorful, if a bit dry. Did I handle them too much when forming them into meatballs? Not enough egg? Too much cooking time? EDW liked them, and I was mostly ecstatic to have cooked a meal sans recipe in our new home.
I hope you like it. I made it

Monday, August 23, 2010

vegetable bolognese. oh yes.

EDW and I are officially moving this Saturday, but we've started the process already. He'll be boxing up the kitchen today while I'm at work, so I doubt there will be another post until we're set up in Asheville. This week, we'll be going to our favorite restaurants in Murphy and eating a lot of this.

I made vegetable bolognese last week, and I'm really wishing I'd doubled the recipe. Bolognese is one of my favorite tomato sauces, and I was intrigued by this meat free version. It was amazing, and we got 6 servings out of it

I pulsed my green pepper (didn't have a red one in the fridge), onion, garlic and carrots in the food processor until everything seemed to be the texture of ground beef. Then I started sauteeing, and my kitchen started smelling incredible.
With each addition (tomato paste, then mushrooms), the vegetable mixture took on more and more of a meaty texture, and by the time I was simmering the sauce of wine and crushed tomatoes, I'd vowed to myself never to make meat bolognese again.
This sauce is perfect, and I want to eat it for breakfast. Make it exactly as instructed and your heart will sing. Edwin and I really just couldn't believe how good it was.
I hope you like it. I made it.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

revisiting the frittata

I hadn't made a frittata in a while, and it was high time to revisit my favorite way to eat eggs. I love a frittata because with it, the eggs are not the stars but the glue of the dish, and you get to focus on the filling. Egg texture is not my favorite, but anything tastes good with enough cheese and garlic in it. I made a tomato-herb frittata last night.

I didn't have flavored feta, so I upped the garlic to 2 cloves instead of one. I used a mixture of egg whites and whole eggs, and I definitely holla'd at the Ro-tel. Oh, Ro-tel, how I love you and your magical flavors.
This was almost completely delicious. Next time, I think I won't add salt (the 1/4 teaspoon isn't much, but the dish just didn't need it) and I think I would even reduce the amount of cheese. When I told that to Edwin, he was shocked-- never before have I said something needs less cheese, but the frittata really didn't need the 1/2 cup. It made it a little too salty and maybe a tad greasy. I will also add more spinach, because I love spinach and it's good for me.
We both liked this dish. Frittatas are so effortlessly fancy, and I love making them after a long day at work.
I hope you like it. I made it.

Monday, August 16, 2010

thai noodle salad

I wanted another noodle salad last night, so I decided to make one using this thai peanut sauce recipe. It's really easy to throw together, as long as you have the ingredients (I used lime juice instead of tamarind paste and cayenne pepper instead of chili sauce). Just dump all the ingredients in the food processor and go to town.
Okay this sauce? Amazing. It's salty and flavorful and not too hot. I used about 3/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper when all was said and done, and even gentle EDW with his mild palate loved it.

To make the salad, I boiled some whole wheat spaghetti and let the noodles cool completely. Then I tossed together some purple cabbage, red and green bell peppers, sprouts, green onions, cilantro and spinach. I added the noodles to the vegetables and mixed it all with some of the sauce.
EDW and I both had this as leftovers for lunch today, and it's definitely the best Monday lunch I've had in a while.

There's a little more sauce left, and I'm looking forward to dipping veggies in it for a snack.

I hope you like it. I made it.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

the muffin chronicles, part XIII

Banana Nut Muffins are a hard act to follow, and I didn't make things easier on this Sunday's muffin contestant. I made Wheat Bran Muffins* from my BHG cookbook, thinking I should go totally healthy after Sara Foster.

Things were going relatively smoothly. I had measured my dry ingredients (I added cinnamon to my mix) and made a well. I was in the process of combining my wet ingredients (I added vanilla extract), and I was in the middle of measuring my applesauce. I had to open a new plastic jar (I use Wal-Mart's generic unsweetened applesauce), and I grabbed it from the counter. Somehow I lost my grip. The applesauce jar went flying out of my hand and hit the side of my fridge. Hard. Applesauce went flying. It was on the dishwasher, the fridge, the floor, and my feet.

I cursed. Repeatedly. It was my signature single profanity to the nth power. I couldn't stop yelling. EDW swiftly jumped in and started cleaning up my mess. I stopped cussing. I wailed, "What should I do?" as I stood paralyzed with applesauce on my flip flops, and the only thing that seemed logical at the moment was to take a picture.
That's just part of the mess. I helped clean the rest, but if I'm being totally honest, Edwin cleaned most of it. As I continued with the mixing, I cataloged my many faults. EDW just ate his breakfast and interjected when I got too down on myself.

I took some deep breaths. I spooned the batter into the muffin cups. I cleaned the kitchen (not the floor, which EDW had already covered, but the bowls and spoons) while they baked.
And now, 45 minutes later, all I can say is I hate moving. It stresses me out. It makes me irritable. I get mean, and sloppy, and clumsy. This is the last muffin chronicle before we move to Asheville. I'm thrilled to be moving, I really am-- I just hate this process of packing all our stuff.

I'm also maybe a little cranky because I'm listening to Eat Pray Love. I wish Elizabeth Gilbert would quit whining and talk more about gelato. Who cares about what word she is and what word Rome is? I want to hear more about the pizza and the pastries and the slender stalks of asparagus.

Anyway, the muffins turned out well. We both like the taste of wheat bran, and I really like raisins in a muffin. We drizzled honey over our taste tests, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. EDW says they're pretty solid, which means he likes them but not as much as the banana nut muffins.
A big internet shoutout goes to Edwin, for putting up with my kitchen tantrums and not making me feel like a crazy person. Thanks for being the co-host of my life and the milk-flusher of my nostrils.
I hope you like it. I made it.

*Meredith Corporation. Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book. 11th ed. "Wheat Bran Muffins." p. 233.

the muffin chronicles, part XII

I usually make a cake for Edwin's coworkers on their birthdays. This year, Jacqueline requested no cake at all, but I still wanted to make a treat for her, so I made Sara Foster's banana nut muffins.* Oh, help. These are like cakes.

Sour cream? A stick of butter? Sugar? Yes please! I made these Wednesday night, and there was enough batter for 12 muffins for Jacqueline and a mini-loaf for us. Before I continue, let the record show that this is the best muffin batter I have ever tasted. Ever. Ever ever. I wish Ben and Jerry's would make an ice cream flavor of this banana nut batter.

EDW and I ate the entire mini-loaf for dessert. The muffins looked like perfection. When I do make them again, for a special occasion, I'm going to add chocolate chips. I am going to have to only make these muffins on special occasions, as they are not healthy and I have no willpower when it comes to eating them in moderation.
I hope [Jacqueline] liked it. I made it.

*Foster, Sara. Fresh Every Day: More Great Recipes from Foster's Market. "Banana Nut Muffins." p 32.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Roasted Summer Vegetables

We finished up the last of our free produce last night (squash and green beans; I had to buy the tomatoes and onion). I cut everything into bite sized pieces and tossed it with a little olive oil, garlic, cilantro and basil. I roasted the veggies at 425 for about 30-35 minutes.
Served over our fave Trader Joe's Harvest Grains Blend and spinach, it made a complete meal. EDW and I went crazy for this. There's just something magical that happens when you roast vegetables. I liked the red onion best, and EDW's favorite was the squash.
I hope you like it. I made it.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Peach and Tomato Pasta

I bought a ton of beautiful white peaches at Mercier's last week, and I needed to use them. EDW and I have been eating one with every meal, but we weren't going fast enough. I made this peach and tomato pasta from Better Homes and Gardens for dinner Monday night.

I used whole wheat penne instead of spaghetti, but I followed the rest of the recipe pretty closely. I loved the idea of combining peaches, tomatoes and olives (yes! olives!) for a meal. It was quick and easy, and it all smelled really really good.
I liked this meal, but I have to say, it wasn't my favorite. It reminded me of this great pasta recipe Emmel's mom makes with tomatoes and corn in the summer-- and I like that one better.
It was a good way to use the peaches, and I'm happy to eat the leftovers, but I probably won't make this again.
I hope you like it. I made it.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Spicy Almond Soba Noodles

This was my first experience cooking with soba noodles, and I have to say, they excite me. I really wasn't sure if our Ingles would have them at all, but they did and I bought the little buckwheat pasta. I made spicy almond soba noodles for dinner Sunday.

I didn't make my own almond butter first; I used raw unsalted almond butter from the Ingles. I blended up the spicy sauce: rice vinegar, ginger, almond butter, agave nectar, crushed red pepper and water. The recipe said to use 2-3 tablespoons red pepper, depending on how spicy you wanted the sauce to be. I used a scant 2 tablespoons.
The noodles cook just like any other pasta, and the veggies were sauteed and ready in no time. I had leftover bell peppers from the shower, so I used a combination of orange, yellow, and green peppers. I served the whole thing over spinach for more color (and to balance out the spice of the noodles).

I'm glad I did. This dish was spicy spicy! I loved it and could handle the heat (I'm tough and fancy), but poor EDW had a rough go of it. He didn't tolerate the kick so well, but he wants me to make the dish again with a milder sauce. I'll be happy to, as I loooooooooved this meal. I love the spice and almond flavors, and I really liked it as a salad of sorts.
I hope you like it. I made it.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

the muffin chronicles, part XI

I made up another recipe this week! I adapted a Betty Crocker recipe for banana muffins, and here's what I did:

Blueberry Banana Muffins

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Whisk dry ingredients together.

1 egg
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup milk
3 very ripe mashed bananas
1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine wet ingredients in a large bowl. Add dry ingredients. Don't overmix!

Fold in 1 cup blueberries.

Bake 20 minutes in a 400 degree oven. Remove muffins from pan immediately; let cool on wire rack.

This makes 12 good sized muffins, and EDW and I each had one while they were still warm from the oven. We really like these. The banana flavor is nice and strong, and I love the juicy blueberries.I should have greased the pan or greased the muffin liners, because the muffin definitely stuck to the liner. The sweet potato banana muffin recipe makes you grease the liners as well-- does it have something to do with using banana?
All in all, this is a great way to use up overripe bananas.
I hope you like it. I made it.

shower food

The shower was a success! Here's what we ate:

Pulled Pork Sliders
Potato Salad
Veggies with hummus and sesame garlic dip
Fruit Salsa with Cinnamon Sugar Pita Chips
Graham Cracker Toffee
Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Pretzel Bars
Raspberry Lemonade Punch

I made crockpot barbeque and Sister Schubert's parker house rolls and whole wheat dinner rolls. Honestly, why would anyone ever make their own yeast rolls when SS does it so well? There was Maurice's sauce on the side.I didn't make the potato salad (or take a phote of it, apparently). Carla's favorite potato salad is from Mercier's, so we just got some from there. I don't like it-- too mayonnaisey for me. EDW says it's scrumptious, and he doesn't think it is heavy on the mayo at all.

We bought the hummus, too, and used a packaged dip mix for the sesame garlic dip.The fruit salsa was a hit. I was a little skeptical at first-- fruit, red pepper, green onions and jalapeƱo? But it was seriously delicious. I want to eat it all.the.time. I didn't make the cinnamon sugar tortilla chips that were part of the recipe. Instead I ripped open a couple bags of Stacy's pitas and said holla.
You already met the graham cracker toffee. It's amazing and refrigerating it is definitely the way to go. I sampled a chilled piece on Friday and decided we didn't have enough, so I made another half batch. I'm so glad I did. They went like hotcakes! I think the next time I make it I'm going to add chocolate chips to the pecans and see how that goes.

For the chocolate chip peanut butter pretzel bars, I made this recipe for chocolate chip cookie pretzel bars and instead of 12 ounces chocolate chips, I used 6 ounces each of chocolate and peanut butter chips. EDW loved these, and I absolutely did too.
I didn't make the cake. Someone else did, and she did a fabulous job. Claude's brother and sister-in-law weren't able to be at the shower, but they wanted to contribute, so Sharon and I collaborated on a cake order. This cake was fantastic.
Carla's been loving lemonade during her pregnancy, so I made raspberry lemonade punch. It was tart and refreshing!
Here are your happy hosts in front of the food.
And here we are with the parents-to-be!
It was such a fun afternoon, and we're so glad we could do this for Carla and Claude before we pack up the house (moving in 3 weeks!).

I hope you like it. We made it.

Friday, August 6, 2010

graham cracker toffee

Edwin and I are hosting a baby shower for our dear friends Carla and Claude this weekend. I'm making a ton of food, and I'll definitely share photes once I have them. We're serving several sweet treats, but I thought I'd go ahead and show you this one early.

It's called graham cracker toffee, and I got the recipe from my MIL this weekend. Her mother (Mama AKA Addie AKA EDW's maternal grandmother) gave her a copy of a cookbook a friend of hers made. It's basically a bound compilation of favorite family recipes, and I loved looking through it when we were in Brevard. Think of a junior league cookbook ( that has family anecdotes included with most recipes.

To make the toffee:

Break graham crackers into their smallest sections. Place in a 9x13 in a single layer. [the recipe didn't say whether to grease the pan, but I figured a little more butter wouldn't hurt anything]

Sprinkle chopped pecans over graham crackers.

Mix 1/2 cup sugar and 2 sticks butter in a small sauce pan. Bring to a boil, and boil 3 minutes while stirring. Spread butter mixture over pecans and bake at 350 for 8 minutes.

I had a bit of a hard time justifying this recipe. I cook lots of things that require 2 sticks of butter, but melting it down and just pouring it on top of something seemed so wrong. My only consolation was that by the time I boiled the butter for 3 minutes it had turned light brown, and I could pretend it was toffee and not just butter and sugar. Please don't leave me comments saying that is exactly what toffee is. Don't ruin Heath bars for me, just don't.

After the candy has cooled, you're supposed to break it into pieces. I just took a knife and cut semi-regular squares. Then I removed the squares and put them in a large ziploc in the fridge until Saturday. I hope that storage method works.
EDW and I each had a taste. I shouldn't have tasted them at all, because now I can't stop thinking about them. They're chewy and sweet and sticky and the graham cracker really gives them a sentimental quality. I love these, and I'm going to do my best not to eat them all before Saturday afternoon.

I hope you like it. I made it.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

great green vegetable pasta

Here's another produce recipe from Simply in Season: great green vegetable pasta.* I chose this recipe because it's one pot and you get to use whatever vegetables you have on hand. I used green beans, zucchini, squash, and green onions.

All you do is start the pasta boiling according to the package's directions. I was using Wal-Mart's brand of whole wheat rotini. When there are three minutes left to boil, add the green beans and squash. When there's 1 minute left, add the green onions. Things get crowded, but don't worry.
Drain the pasta, return it to the pot and add butter, cottage cheese, parmesan cheese, and minced garlic.

And serve!
Easy peasy and delicious. EDW and I really enjoyed this, and we ate it a couple more times for lunch. It reheats well and is so adaptable.

I hope you like it. I made it.

*Lind, Mary Beth and Cathleen Hockman-Wert. Simply in Season. "Great Green Vegetable Pasta." p. 123.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

vegetable delight

We're still working through our summer produce here in the Murph, and I'm loving it. For dinner Monday night I made a vegetable feast (thanks, Simply in Season for the inspiration, preesh). I made [oven] fried okra,* squash & basil salad,** and southwestern corn chowder.***

For the okra, I followed the oven-frying option in the recipe. I dredged my okra in milk and then rolled it around in a mixture of corn meal and Lawry's. Then I baked it on my greased and unattractive baking sheet for about 35 minutes, turning often. I was unimpressed with the okra. It just didn't have much flavor to it, and the little green bits were a bit chewy for my taste. I think in the future, I'll either have real fried okra or do a sautee like last night (or try it grilled like Emmel's mom makes it). Edwin and I agreed that the okra was the least delicious of the three dishes I made.
The squash and basil salad appealed to me because of the lunch we had on Saturday. Our new condo is around the corner from an Earthfare, and while it's no Whole Foods, it's still much more than I'm used to here in Cherokee County. We feasted upon the salad/hot bar, and there was a marinated squash salad. It was delicious, and I decided to try this squash and basil salad in an effort to recreate it. I mixed olive oil, white wine vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper, and garlic, and poured that over squash, zucchini, cucumber and basil. I let it marinate for about an hour, and then served it on a bed of spinach. It was simple and delightful. I'll make this again and again, especially since I don't have to heat anything up.
I also made southwestern corn chowder, which was a snap to throw together. After cooking the onion and adding corn and broth, you're supposed to take out part of the solids and liquids and blend them. I just used my immersion blender and went to town until I liked the texture. I added black beans for protein:
and some of this!
Chipotle pepper flakes! EDW and I found them at Marshall's last weekend, and I loved the flavor they added to the chowder.
All in all, it was a great summer meal.

I hope you like it. I made it.

Lind, Mary Beth and Cathleen Hockman-Wert. Simply in Season. *"Fried Okra." p.117; **"Squash and Basil Salad." p. 102; ***"Southwestern Corn Chowder." p. 95.