Monday, July 30, 2012

Chickpea, Beet, and Apple Panini

Tonight I made Chickpea, Beet, and Apple Panini, and it was not as delicious the second time. I'm unsure what was different. I think it just didn't go together as well as I'd thought the first time. This will no longer be a make-again.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Baked Penne with Roasted Vegetables

Thanks to my trip to Shady Maple, I had all the ingredients on hand to make Baked Penne with Roasted Vegetables. Such an excellent pasta dish. I used some smoked mozzarella I'd picked up at the Amish grocery, which was wonderful. I just love this so much. I halved the recipe and it still filled a 9x13 pan. I will never understand that. But it means I have tons to take for lunches this week! I'm back on my "I will eat real food and stop buying lunch at the hospital cafeteria" kick, so this was a good way to get on track. Yum!

Shady Maple Smorgasbord

Yesterday I went on a field trip with a bunch of women I work with at the hospital. We drove out to Lancaster, PA to go to Shady Maple Smorgasbord. Lancaster is known for being the heart of Amish Country, and Shady Maple is a huge buffet owned and run by the Amish.

shady maple

shady maple

shady maple

Nineteen dollars gets you unlimited food, drink, and pie. They respectfully ask that you not take more than you will eat, which, thankfully, is never a problem for me. There are a million different stations with everything imaginable - largely PA Dutch dishes, like buttered noodles, potato filling, homemade breads, beet-pickled eggs, pork & sauerkraut, and pierogies. There was a salad bar, three or four grill stations with seafood and steaks, tons of homemade bread... For beverages, you could get anything from fountain soda to sarsparilla (my favorite) to milkshakes. And, of course, there was a huge dessert selection.

shady maple

So I walked around, got a glass of sarsparilla, and plotted my game plan. I wanted to make sure I hit up all the veg-friendly specialties. Almost everything was fantastically amazing. So simple, very little seasoning, but delicious. I took pictures of each trip to the buffet:

shady maple
Harvard Beets, buttered noodles, fried shrimp, crab cake, pineapple filling, sauteed waxbeans, sauteed corn, steamed cabbage, mashed potatoes, and au gratin potatoes (my FAVORITE of the day).

shady maple
Cheese bread, cornbread (both of which I later bought loaves of), macaroni and cheese, steamed broccoli, more au gratin potatoes, pierogie, and I had also gotten a beet-pickled egg but forgot to take a picture before I ate it.

shady maple
Dessert: "Magic Bar," blueberry cobbler, apple cobbler, chocolate chip whoopie pie, another piece of cornbread, eclair dessert, banana pudding, and coconut cream pie.

So after eating tons and tons and tons of food, we waddled through the shops and over to the grocery store, where we stocked up on baked goods, locally-made cheeses, super-cheap local produce, and local soda.
shady maple

Here's a photo of me and my ladies:
shady maple

After all the shopping and the hour drive, for some reason we had to stop at Premise Maid for ice cream and to observe candy. I had some delicious peach ice cream. I've had Premise Maid chocolate before, as gifts, but I'd never been to the actual shops.

shady maple

shady maple

shady maple

A magical day indeed!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Best Lemon Squares Ever

I was feeling inspired yesterday, so I baked a pan of Possibly the Best Ever Lemon Squares. I've made these so many times at this point that I am sure that they are truly THE BEST lemon squares. Not possibly. Definitively.

Anyway, so I brought the pan in to work. I'd like to say that my coworkers ate them all, but that isn't true. I'd like to tell you that I didn't eat half the pan in my car with a plastic knife, but that also isn't true.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Rochester NY: Part Deux

I know I haven't posted in almost a week. Four of those days were spent on a trip to Rochester, NY, which I will discuss momentarily. The other days, I swear I've tried. There was the Great Caterpillar Debacle last Wednesday, in which I used up a ton of the vegetables from the farmer's market to make Italian Chopped Salad, only to discover a caterpillar in my bowl after preparing it. I can only assume the caterpillar came from the vegetables, which then set off a paranoid panic and resulted in throwing out the whole thing. Then I attempted to make this recipe for black bean tacos (which would have been a new recipe for me), but then learned I don't have any cornmeal. Boo. I finally ended up making Cauliflower-Onion Linguine for dinner tonight, which was delicious. Excellent.

Alright, now let's rewind.

So I went to Rochester NY to visit friends. I went there in March and posted all about the food during that trip, but we went to all new places this time.

First of all, on the five hour drive up, I stopped at JellyBeans Restaurant in the tiny little town of Painted Post, NY because the bestie Erica had given me an assignment.
JellyBeans
The assignment was to eat at a sit-down restaurant and have a meal completely by myself. It's been almost a year since I've been on my own here, and I still hadn't ventured into the "alone in a restaurant" territory. So I went to JellyBeans and had a Mexican breakfast burrito. Amazing. And totally un-scary. I bet I can do it again sometime!
burrito

The first night I was there, my friends took me to California Rollin' Sushi Bar. We ordered a TON of delicious things. Some of the rolls ordered had bacon in them, so sadly they were not for me, but that's interesting and fun. My favorite was the Dancing Diablo Roll, which was a spicy Asian barbecued salmon rolled up in a sushi roll, and then the whole roll is deep fried and covered with more of the barbecue sauce. I KNOW RIGHT. Amazeballs.
sushi

Instead of dessert at the sushi restaurant, we went to Phillips European, which is a restaurant where you can go and just order coffee and dessert. SO MUCH DESSERT. I got a carrot cake, and it was one of the yummiest carrot cakes of all time.
cake

And finally, I must discuss the wonder of Tim Hortons. They have delicious coffee and pastries, and I have heard that it is even better in Canada. I couldn't go to Canada because my passport didn't return to me in time :( But some day I will go there! Until then, when I visit Rochester I can have my Tim Hortons fix!
coffee

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Coconut-Crusted Tofu with Peach-Lemongrass Salsa

I've had this recipe for awhile and I truly consider making it nearly every week when I'm meal-planning. With a massive influx of beautifully ripe peaches at the farmer's market, I decided now was the time to try it out. There are so many things that had prevented me from trying it. First it was my ex's aversion to coconut. Then it was that peaches weren't in season. And for some reason I felt strongly that this recipe was going to be a lot of work.

Well guess what? It isn't. Despite the verbose nature of the recipe, it basically comes down to this:
1. Chop stuff up and make the salsa.
2. Coat slices of tofu in coconut, flour, and cornstarch.
3. Pan-fry tofu.

That's it. I swear. The whole step about like, "Keep warm in oven on rack placed on top of baking sheet" is totally unnecessary. The tofu does not cool so quickly that you need to keep it heated while you cook the rest of the pieces. So silly.

All in all, this took a ridiculously short amount of time and produced an amazing result. It is SO GOOD. Every part about it is delicious. You can find fresh lemongrass at the grocery store in the herb section, but I used powdered from Penzeys and it worked just fine. I had it with some Caribbean Coconut Rice, which was the perfect complement. I'm taking leftovers for lunch today and am unsure how well it will translate to reheating, but we'll see. Might as well give it a shot.

I would definitely make this again. It's delicious and it's a surprisingly great alternative to coconut shrimp. I swear!

tofu

Coconut-Crusted Tofu with Peach-Lemongrass Salsa
Eating Well

The crunchy-crisp tofu and our spicy-sweet salsa are inspired by that restaurant-chain classic, deep-fried coconut shrimp. Make it a meal: Stir fresh cilantro into basmati rice and serve alongside. Try sliced bananas drizzled with "lite" coconut milk for dessert.

3 medium peaches -- peeled, pitted and diced
1 jalapenos -- (1-2) preferably red, seeded and minced
1 2-inch piece fresh lemongrass -- minced, or 1 teaspoon dried
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon rice-wine vinegar
3/4 teaspoon salt -- divided
1/3 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
14 ounces extra-firm water-packed tofu -- drained
2 tablespoons canola oil -- divided

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Set a wire rack on a large baking sheet.

2. Combine peaches, jalapenos, lemongrass, basil, brown sugar, vinegar and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl; toss to combine.

3. Mix coconut, flour and cornstarch in a shallow dish. Cut the block of tofu lengthwise into 8 thin steaks. Pat the tofu slices dry with a paper towel, sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, then press both sides of each tofu steak into the coconut mixture.

4. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 4 tofu steaks and cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side, adjusting heat as necessary to prevent scorching. Transfer the tofu steaks to the rack-lined baking sheet and place in the oven to keep warm. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in the skillet over medium-high heat; cook the remaining tofu steaks until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Serve the tofu with the peach salsa.

Servings: 4

Saturday, July 14, 2012

New Potatoes with Balsamic and Shallot Butter

I've really been eating terribly lately (a bag of sour patch kids and a cup of coffee is NOT BREAKFAST) so my goal at the farmer's market this morning was to stock up on as much fresh produce as possible. I got home and made individual tupperware containers of cantaloupe, blackberries, blueberries, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and cucumber - SPECIFICALLY so I can easily access them for meals and snacks. I'm motivated!

I used some of the lovely fresh produce - including some spicy red garlic! - and a multigrain bread from the Flour Shop to make Grilled Eggplant Sandwiches with Red Onion and Aioli. Delicious as always.

To go with it, I had some small red potatoes and wanted to try something new that would complement the sandwich. I had this recipe involving simmering down balsamic til it's syrupy and then mixing it with butter and herbs. It was much stronger than I had anticipated, but it was still very good. I doubt I would make it again, but it was an excellent side dish for this sandwich!

potato

New Potatoes with Balsamic and Shallot Butter
Cooking Light, March 2005

The balsamic butter mixture is deep brown and tastes delicious. The butter can be made ahead, chilled, and tossed with the potatoes just before serving.

2/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup butter -- softened
3 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt -- divided
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 pounds small red potatoes
1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley

1. Bring vinegar to a boil in a small saucepan; reduce heat, and simmer until reduced to 2 tablespoons (about 10 minutes). Place in a medium bowl, and cool completely. Add butter, chopped shallots, thyme, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and black pepper; stir well to combine.

2. Place potatoes in a saucepan; cover with water. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until tender. Drain. Cut potatoes in half; place in a large bowl. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Add butter mixture and parsley; toss gently to coat. Serve immediately.

Servings: 8

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Italian Chopped Salad

Tonight I made Chipotle Sweet Potato & Guac Tacos again, and they were wonderful. If you microwave the sweet potato before mixing it all together, it really takes about 10 minutes from start to finish. It's amazing.

Last night I made this Italian-ish chopped salad. I made enough to take the rest for lunch today, which was an excellent idea because it did, indeed, pass the lunchbox test! I know it's a simple idea for a salad, but you know how much I rely on recipes. I really enjoyed this a lot. I would make this again. In fact, I'd make more of it for lunches this week if I had more olives and red peppers!

chopped

Italian Chopped Salad
Vegetarian Times, March 2009

This hearty lunch salad is packed with fiber (to fill you up) and protein (to provide you with sustained energy). Once you get the hang of making it, there are endless variations you can try with your favorite beans, dressings, nuts, and salad greens. Be sure to choose a dressing made with polyunsaturated and/or monounsaturated fats, or simply dress the salad with olive oil and vinegar.

10 grape or cherry tomatoes -- halved
5 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas -- or 1 15-oz. can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
4 ounces low-fat feta cheese -- crumbled
1/3 cup low-fat Italian dressing
1 roasted red pepper -- rinsed and cut into thin strips
10 pitted kalamata olives -- sliced
4 pepperoncini peppers -- seeded and sliced
3 tablespoons pine nuts
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 head romaine lettuce -- chopped into 1-inch pieces

Toss together chickpeas, tomatoes, feta, dressing, roasted red pepper, olives, pepperoncini, pine nuts, and balsamic vinegar in large bowl. Let stand 15 minutes to marinate. Fold in lettuce, and season with salt and pepper if desired.

Servings: 4

Monday, July 09, 2012

Breakfast Burritos

Tonight I made Breakfast Burritos, but I used soy chorizo instead of fake sausage. It was tasty and delicious. I am proud of myself for making something for dinner tonight, because in all honestly, prior to making my dinner I was considering either eating spaghettios or just a bag of sour patch kids for my dinner. Look at that! A step toward caring for myself!

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Fresh Cherry Pie

Almost exactly a year ago, I made Fresh Cherry Pie for the first time. And what a phenomenal pie it is! It was delicious and beautiful the first time around, but I made it even prettier this time. I really am so proud of my pies. I need to bake more of them.

To make this one pretty, I used a ravioli cutter (as if I will ever actually make ravioli) to cut the dough into strips, and then I rolled out the extra dough and cut out stars. I think it turned out lovely and it was very tasty if you like cherries. I took it to a friend's house for the 4th of July and brought the leftovers to work today. No more pie! Everyone ate it. Wonderful!

pie

pie

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Eggplant Sabich

I was really excited to try this sandwich because it got very high ratings from Vegetarian Times. I even managed to find spicy pickled mango.

mango

As it turns out, pickled mango is kind of gross, and this whole thing was just kind of odd. I didn't love it at all. I even had some really great freshly-made pita flatbread to use to fold over into a sandwich. Alas, it was not enjoyable. I will not make this again.

sabich

Eggplant Sabich
Vegetarian Times, June 2012

What began as a typical Saturday breakfast among Jews from Iraq is now considered by many to be Israel's most popular sandwich after falafel. To keep it light and easy, this recipe focuses on broiled sliced eggplant, but feel free to add sliced, boiled potatoes; sliced hard-boiled eggs; and/or sliced baked tofu for a heftier sandwich.

Sandwich:
1 medium eggplant (3/4 lb), sliced into 3/8-inch rounds
2 1/2 teaspoon olive oil, for brushing
4 tablespoons prepared hummus
4 pita rounds or crusty French or Italian rolls, such as ciabatta rolls
Hot pepper relish, such as zehug, or other hot sauce to taste, optional
4-8 slices pickled mango, such as amba, or other spicy pickles, optional

Tahini Sauce:
1/4 cup tahini, stirred well
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced (1 tsp.)

Diced Vegetable Salad:
2 Roma tomatoes, diced (1 cup)
1 Persian cucumber, diced (3/4 cup)
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro or Italian parsley
2 tablespoons chopped red or other onion

1. To make sandwich: Preheat broiler. Arrange eggplant slices in single layer on foil-lined baking sheet. Brush eggplant with 1 1/4 teaspoons oil, and season with salt and pepper, if desired. Broil 4 minutes, flip with spatula, brush with remaining 1 1/4 teaspoons oil, and broil 4 minutes more, or until tender when pierced with a fork.

2. Meanwhile, make tahini sauce: Stir together tahini, lemon juice, garlic, and 3 tablespoons water in small bowl. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.

3. To make vegetable salad, combine all ingredients in medium bowl.

4. To serve: Divide eggplant slices, hummus, and diced vegetable salad among pitas. Drizzle with tahini sauce and garnish with hot relish, if using. Serve with more tahini sauce on the side, and pickled mango slices, if using.

Servings: 4