Friday, July 31, 2015

BBQ Eggplant Sandwiches with Provolone & Mushrooms

I have a whole bunch of eggplant so I decided to try this sandwich the other day for dinner. I used some Sweet Baby Ray's for he sauce. I did not have any mushrooms, so I left that out. I had some spring onions that I used in place of the red onion. And I used some frying peppers from my garden instead of the pepperoncinis. I have to say, I was fairly disappointed. It was kind of overly sweet, which may have been because of the sauce I used, and I felt like it was missing something, but I couldn't figure out what. I didn't love this. I would not make it again.


BBQ Eggplant Sandwiches with Provolone & Mushrooms

1 large eggplant (about 1 1/2 pounds), trimmed and sliced lengthwise into four 1/2-inch thick planks
1/2 cup BBQ sauce, divided
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 red onion, halved and sliced into thin wedges
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 slices provolone cheese (1/8-inch thick slices)
4 ciabatta or hoagie rolls, split and toasted
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 jarred pepperoncini peppers, thinly sliced

Position oven rack six inches from the heat source and preheat broiler on high. Line broiler pan or rimmed baking sheet with foil.

Brush eggplant slices on both sides with 2 tablespoons BBQ sauce and season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon peeper. Arrange slices on foil-lined pan.

Broil eggplant until browned and soft, about 4 minutes. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, toss mushrooms and red onion with oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and reserve.

Remove broiler pan from oven, flip eggplant slices, and brush with 2 more tablespoons BBQ sauce. Scatter mushroom mixture around the eggplant on the pan and broil until browned and soft, about 3 minutes more. Add 1 slice of cheese to each eggplant plank and continue to broil until cheese is melted and browned, about 2 minutes more.

To assemble the sandwiches, brush the top toasted half of each roll with 1 tablespoon mayonnaise and each bottom half with 1 tablespoon BBQ sauce. Layer an eggplant slice, some mushroom mixture, and a few slices of pepperoncini on the bottom of each roll. Close the sandwiches and serve immediately.

Yield: 4 servings

Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Best Zucchini Bread

With my abundance of zucchini from the farm, I have been doing my best to find ways to cook it, freeze it, and preserve it. I've frozen them in coins, sticks, and shredded. I have made zoodles. (Not freezable.) And then I decided to try making a basic zucchini bread. I don't think I've tried one before, so that was new. I made it for a friend who LOVES zucchini bread and subjected myself to their scathing criticism. As it turns out, I made an excellent zucchini bread. The allspice is strong, and I'm not sure if that's how it's supposed to taste, but the loaf was enjoyed and all was well.


I might make this again to freeze. I also want to try a chocolate chip version.


The Best Zucchini Bread
Mel's Kitchen Cafe

1 pound zucchini
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 cup plain yogurt (not fat-free)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice or sour cream
6 tablespoons butter, melted

Adjust an oven rack to middle position and preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Generously coat a 9-inch by 5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray (you may want to grease and flour just to be safe).

Chop the ends off the zucchini (just 1/4-inch off each end) and finely shred the zucchini, peel and all. Place the shredded zucchini in a clean kitchen towel, wrap the towel, and wring the ends (like a an old-fashioned candy wrapper) to squeeze out all the excess water. You should have about 1 to 1 1/2 cups of dry zucchini. Set the zucchini aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, allspice, and salt. In a smaller bowl, whisk the sugar, yogurt, eggs, lemon juice or sour cream, and butter until combined.

Gently fold the yogurt mixture and zucchini into the flour mixture, using a rubber spatula to fold the ingredients together until just combined. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan.

Bake until golden brown and a thin knife or skewer inserted in the center comes out with a few crumbs attached, 45-55 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes then turn out into wire rack to cool for at least 1 hour. Store well-covered for up to three days.

Yield: 1 loaf

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Blueberry Lemon Cookies

I thought a blueberry-lemon cookie sounded like a nice, fresh, summery choice for the last Cookie Monday of July. One of the doctors described these as: "They're like fruity little clouds of sweet air." It's kind of true. The cake flour keeps them light and fluffy. The fresh blueberries make it feel almost healthy (just kidding). And my coworker who hates both lemon and blueberries liked these. Magic!


Blueberry Lemon Cookies
Sugar Apron

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
zest of 1 lemon
3 Tbsp lemon juice
1 pinch salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3 1/4 cups cake flour
1 1/2 cups blueberries
2 tsp pure vanilla extract

In an electric bowl mixer, beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition, add lemon zest and juice, and mix well.

In a separate bowl, whisk together dry ingredients.

With the mixer on low, slowly add the dry ingredients into the batter.

Carefully fold in the blueberries after all the ingredients have been mixed together.

Allow dough to cool in the refrigerator for at least an hour and up to overnight.

Preheat oven to 350.

Use a small scoop (about 1 tbsp size) and place rounded balls of dough on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or foil (or non-stick cookie sheets).

Bake for 11-14 minutes, until the bottoms are slightly golden brown (the edges should not brown).

Yield: I got about 5-6 dozen from this recipe. I know. I was surprised, too.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Vegetarian Muffalettas

With a refrigerator overflowing with eggplant, tomatoes, and zucchini, I've been looking for recipes incorporating all of them. (I've also been pickling, freezing, and preserving everything - that's another post!) This quick sandwich gave me the opportunity to use up some of the produce. I did add a tomato. Instead of using green olives, I used some pre-made tapenade. I also seasoned the vegetables with a little sage and thyme. It all worked out nicely. It was an acceptable sandwich but I wouldn't go out of my way to make it again.


Vegetarian Muffalettas
Eating Well

1 small eggplant, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices
1 large red bell pepper, quartered lengthwise
1 small zucchini, sliced lengthwise into 4 slices
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
4 crusty rolls, such as ciabatta rolls, split
4 slices provolone cheese
6 large pimiento-stuffed green olives, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped pickled banana peppers
1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar

Preheat grill to high.

Toss eggplant, bell pepper, zucchini, oil, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Grill the vegetables, turning occasionally, until charred and tender, 6 to 10 minutes total. Grill rolls until toasted, 2 to 3 minutes. Put a piece of cheese on the bottom halves of the rolls as they come off the grill, to melt the cheese a little.

Reserve 4 roll-size eggplant slices, 2 zucchini slices and 2 bell pepper pieces. Finely chop the remaining vegetables and combine in a bowl with olives, banana peppers and vinegar; divide among the cheesy rolls. Place a reserved eggplant slice on top of each. Cut the reserved zucchini slices in half crosswise and thinly slice the bell pepper; place on the eggplant. Cover with the roll tops.

Yield: 4 servings

Friday, July 24, 2015

The Stack

Obviously you know how much I love breakfast food, so this sounded like a fun way to eat up a variety of vegetables all at once. I took this recipe and modified it to include what I had. I added up some okra from my garden, some yellow squash, and some fresh garlic. I didn't poach the egg. I used cherry tomatoes from my garden instead of a sliced tomato (although now I have actual full-size huge tomatoes from the yard!) This was delicious and I loved it, and I would make it again.


The Stack
Vegetarian Times

1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
3 small Yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed and sliced into thin rounds
1/2 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 12-ounce bunch Swiss chard, stems removed, leaves chiffonaded
4 large eggs
1 small tomato, diced

Combine sour cream and chipotle powder in small bowl, and set aside.

Coat medium skillet with cooking spray, and heat over medium heat. Arrange potato rounds in single layer in skillet, cover, and cook 5 to 6 minutes, flipping halfway through. Add onion, and season with salt and pepper, if desired. Cover, and cook 2 to 3 minutes more, or until potatoes are fork-tender. Remove potatoes to plate, and set aside.

Wipe out skillet, coat with cooking spray, and heat over medium heat. Add garlic, and sauté 30 seconds. Add Swiss chard, and saute 3 to 5 minutes more, or until bright green and tender.

Meanwhile, bring saucepan filled with 2 inches of water to a boil. Crack eggs into saucepan; reduce heat to low, and poach 4 minutes.

To serve: Divide potato mixture among 4 plates, and top each with 1 1/2 tsp. chipotle sour cream, Swiss chard, and 1 poached egg. Dollop 1 1/2 tsp. chipotle sour cream atop egg, and garnish with diced tomato.

Yield: 4 servings

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Garlicky Flatbread Pizza with Beets, Balsamic, and Feta

I made this the other day to use up some vegetables from the farm, and it was excellent. Absolutely excellent. I used some naan from Trader Joe's. I used oregano, parsley, and tomatoes from my garden. I used beets and garlic from the farm, and I subbed in some swiss chard instead of arugula. This was seriously so good. I had it with some roasted cabbage and it was an excellent meal.


Beetza! Garlicky Flatbread Pizza with Beets, Balsamic, and Feta
Peas & Crayons

1 large or 2 small beets, leaves and stem removed
1 tsp minced + smashed garlic with a pinch of salt added
2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
1/8 tsp dried parsley (1/8 to 1/4)
a pinch of oregano
1 garlic naan flatbread or your favorite pizza crust
2/3 cup crumbled feta or goat cheese
1/2 cup baby arugula
3 thin slices heirloom tomato, quartered
1 TBSP balsamic reduction or glaze

Roast your beets in the oven using your preferred method for roasting. (I peeled and sliced mine, then roasted for 30 min at 350 with some olive oil, salt, and pepper.)

While your beets are roasting in the oven or boiling away on the stove, make your garlic spread. Combine minced and smashed garlic with a pinch of salt, olive oil, oregano, and parsley. Whisk and let it sit so the herbs and garlic infuse into the olive oil.

Preheat your oven or toaster oven to 350 degrees F and spread the garlicky herbed olive oil on your naan before you attempt to drink the entire bowl.

Top with half the feta or goat cheese and add your beets and half of the sliced tomatoes.

Bake for about 15 minutes, directly on the rack, until the crust is golden and crisp.

Top with arugula and remaining tomato and feta and drizzle with a hearty tablespoon or so of sweet balsamic reduction.

Garlic-Rubbed Roasted Cabbage

This recipe has been making the rounds on Pinterest for awhile, so I decided to try it with some of the cabbage I got from the CSA. It's super-simple and sounded like it would be great. As it turns out, it's alright. The cabbage cooks through evenly but it doesn't get particularly crispy. I'm not sure why I expected it to. It would be easier to just saute it on the stove, honestly. But eh! I was roasting beets in the oven anyway so it was convenient. Not deserving of all the hype, though!


Garlic-Rubbed Roasted Cabbage
Everyday Maven

1 head organic green cabbage (approx 2lb) cut into 1" thick slices
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, smashed (2 to 3)
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 spray olive oil OR non-stick cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400F and spray a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray. Pull outer leaf off cabbage, cut cabbage from top to bottom (bottom being root) into 1" thick slices.

Rub both sides of cabbage with smashed garlic.

Use a pastry brush to evenly spread the olive oil over both sides of the cabbage slices.

Finally, sprinkle each side with a bit of kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper.

Roast on the middle rack for 30 minutes. Carefully flip the cabbage steaks and roast for an additional 30 minutes until edges are brown and crispy.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Gnocchi with Summer Squash, Feta, & Basil

There isn't a whole lot I need to say about this. I used squash from the farm, basil from my garden, and added a bunch of cherry tomatoes (also from the garden). It was fantastic and delicious, and it was great reheated the next day. There are so many possibilities for variations. I'm a big fan of this. And it looks so pretty!


Gnocchi with Summer Squash, Feta, & Basil
Real Simple

1 pound gnocchi, fresh or frozen
1/4 cup olive oil
3 yellow squash (about 1 1/2 pounds) cut into 3/4-inch pieces
3 cloves garlic, chopped
Kosher salt and black pepper
4 ounces Feta, crumbled (about 1 cup)
1/3 cup torn fresh basil leaves

Cook the gnocchi according to the package directions; drain and return it to the pot.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the squash, garlic, and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Cook, tossing occasionally, until crisp-tender, 6 to 8 minutes.

Add the squash to the gnocchi and toss to combine. Serve sprinkled with the Feta and basil. Season with pepper.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Best M&M Cookies

You know, I thought this was an exciting new pudding cookie recipe using M&Ms, but after I made them, I realized it's exactly the same as all the other ones I've made. Well, not exactly. It's different from this one (also for M&M pudding cookies). But it's close enough. And the cookies taste exactly the same. Always delicious and puffy and nicely textured. But I wish it had been slightly different for a little something new. I'll need to start getting more adventurous with my baking again soon!


Best M&M Cookies
Cookies & Cups

3/4 cup butter, at room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 box instant vanilla pudding mix
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups mini M&Ms, plus 1/4 cup more for garnish

Preheat oven to 350°

In bowl of stand mixer combine butter and brown sugar, beating until combined.

Add in egg and vanilla and continue mixing until smooth, scraping sides as necessary. Mix in vanilla pudding, baking soda and salt.

Add in egg and vanilla and continue mixing until smooth, scraping sides as necessary. Mix in vanilla pudding, baking soda and salt.

Stir in M&Ms.

Using a large cookie scoop, scoop dough onto lined baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake for 9-11 minutes until edges begin to golden.

Allow to cool on baking sheet for 3-4 minutes and then transfer to wire rack to finish cooling

Store airtight for up to 3 days

Yield: 24 large cookies (I doubled it & made the cookies smaller, and got about 6-7 dozen)

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Shredded Harvest Hash & Fried Egg Breakfast Tacos

I have tons of vegetables from the CSA - and now also from my own garden! - so I'm trying to find creative ways to use them up each week. I've roasted a lot of vegetables, added them to pastas, made stir-fry, and just parboiled & frozen them for future use. I'm planning to start pickling, as well. And when I have a little bit more basil, I will make a big batch of pesto.

Anyway, for now, I decided to make these tacos for dinner last night. I made the following changes:
*Instead of the vegetables listed, I used kale, carrots, beets, fennel, okra, and frying peppers (the latter two of which I grew in my own garden!!!)
*Flour tortillas instead of corn
*Topped with shredded cheese, green onions, jalapenos (that I grew myself!), cilantro (from my garden!) and shredded red cabbage

This was GREAT!!! I really enjoyed it a lot. It was a great way to appreciate the integrity of the vegetables, and, paired with farm-fresh eggs, was just a great dinner. It's very versatile, too, so it would be a great way to use up extra root vegetables. I would definitely make this again.


Shredded Harvest Hash & Fried Egg Breakfast Tacos
Recipe from With Food & Love

Harvest Hash:
1 large beet
1 large watermelon radish {or handful of red radishes}
3 lacinato kale leaves, ribs removed
8 - 10 brussel sprouts
1 large leek
1 large carrot
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt

For the Tacos:
8 soft corn tortillas
8 farm fresh fried eggs {or 2 cups of warm black beans, for vegan option}
Sliced avocado
fresh cilantro or parsley
your favorite hot sauce

Preheat your oven to 475 degrees + line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Shred all of your veggies into thin strips. In a large bowl toss all of the veggies with the olive oil and sea salt. Spread the veggies onto the baking sheet in an even layer. Roast for 15 - 20 minutes, flipping halfway.

While the veggies are in the oven, fry your eggs.

To assemble layer the eggs on top of the corn tortillas, then the avocado and top with a generous portion of the shredded harvest hash.

Serves 4 (8 tacos)

Famous Spicy Kimchi

For awhile this winter I was on a big kimchi kick, where I was throwing kimchi into everything. Kimchi, as you may know, is a spicy fermented cabbage from Korea. But I can't find it at the store anymore! Thus, I became inspired and decided to make my own.


This is the first time I have tried fermenting, and one of my very few attempts at canning. I think it turned out pretty well. I'm not sure yet. I made the recipe as written, though I did halve it, and it all turned out how it was supposed to - fizzy, gaseous, smells like dirty diapers (I wear it doesn't taste like them though). I just stuck the jars in the refrigerator this morning and am hoping that it tastes good. If not, I'll just have to try again with a different recipe! Experimenting with this stuff is fun. I feel inspired and adventurous again.

Here is my prep station:

Mom's Famous Spicy Kimchi
From Primally Inspired

2 heads Napa cabbage (about 6 pounds total)
1 cup sea salt
2 cups spring or distilled water
1 large daikon radish (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled
4 large carrots (about 3/4 pound total)
1 apple, peeled and core removed (don't leave the apple out! The apple provides sugar for the bacteria to eat so it can ferment properly)
2 bunches scallions, chopped
1 whole head of garlic, peeled
4 ounces fresh ginger
1 1/2 cups hot Korean chili flakes
optional: 1 teaspoon fish sauce
optional: pinch or two (or three!) of dried red pepper flakes
1/3 cup additional distilled or spring water
clean mason jars

Cut your cabbage in one inch (bite size) pieces and place it in 2 very large bowls. Add 1/2 cup sea salt and 1 cup of water to each bowl and toss with your hands to coat. Let the cabbage sit for one hour, tossing every 20 minutes. You'll start to see the cabbage releasing liquid and shrinking in size - that's exactly what we want!

While the cabbage is sitting, shred your radish, carrots and apple in a food processor. If you don't have a food processor, you can chop them in small pieces. Set aside.

In a food processor, process the garlic and ginger until smooth.

Fold in your Korean hot chili flakes, red pepper flakes (if using) and fish sauce (if using) and 1/3 cup water. Stir until it becomes a paste. Set aside.

After the cabbage has sat for 1 hour, rinse it very well with cold water and then strain the water. Rinse and strain for a total of 3 times. Rinsing and straining 3 times is important because you want to wash away most of the salt or it will be way too salty!

Place your rinsed cabbage in one of your very large bowls (it should all fit in one bowl now). Add the radish, carrot, scallions and apple and your hot chili/garlic/ginger paste. With gloves on your hands (important!), toss everything together making sure that the paste coats all the veggies well.

Add the kimchi to your mason jars packing it in tightly. Make sure to leave at least 2 inches of headroom (the kimchi will expand as it ferments). Close the lids to your jars. This recipe usually makes about 8-10 pint size jars.

Close the lids on your jars and let them sit for 3-5 days.

You must "burp" the jars once a day during these 3-5 days. You do that by quickly opening the jar and then closing it. You'll hear gas releasing - just like what it sounds like when you open a soda. That is normal and a good sign! You should see small bubbles in your jar, too. And if you hold the opened jar to your ears, you'll also hear it fizzing. That's like music to a fermenters ears :)

After 3 days, give your kimchi a taste. If it tastes tangy and "fizzy", that means your kimchi is finished and you can move your jars to the fridge. They will last about a year in the fridge. If you don't taste that tanginess, let your kimchi sit for a few more days.