bread

savory butternut squash pancakes with browned butter sage sauce

8:14:00 PM

Remember when I said I made butternut squash pancakes for dinner but the pictures turned out so awful I didn’t post it? Well, we had so much leftover squash and a burning desire for pancakes that I made them for brunch again on Saturday. Yep, twice in one week. And, with some natural sunlight, the pictures turned out a wee bit better.


We didn’t do anything for Halloween this year. Last year, Bob rocked an amazing Guy Fieri costume and everyone immediately knew who he was.  (I was Daria, which reflects my personality wonderfully, though I was confused for a Scooby Doo character by some drunk dude.) We also carved pumpkins. This year, though, common sense kicked in and I remembered how un-fun gutting pumpkins is. 

So we bah-humbugged Halloween, but I love these little autumn pancakes. They’re fine on their own, but the real star is this browned butter sage sauce on top. It somehow just intensifies the squash flavor and is straight up divine. If you really wanted to, and if autumn is calling to you, a bet a couple dashes of pumpkin spice would be welcome in these pancakes. 

I added a bit of maple syrup and vinegar to the topping because it’s awesome. The syrup sort of crystalizes around the fresh sage, making these delicious crispy maple bits. SUCH a decadent, delicious brunch.

I served these with fried duck eggs. Duck eggs are awesome and so far superior to chicken eggs, though we don’t buy them super often. 

This makes about 8 medium-sized pancakes. When we made them for dinner, we ate two pancakes each and a side of brussels sprouts, but for brunch, we split the recipe in two. And it was insanely filling and I felt carb-tired all day, but… worth it. 

I used butternut squash but this works with many squashes. To roast squash, cut it in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, and place cut-side down on a baking sheet lined with foil, and bake at 375 degrees for about 45-50 minutes (for a butternut, less time for a smaller squash) until soft. 



savory butternut squash pancakes with browned butter sage sauce

for the pancakes 
1 cup (8 to 8 1/4 ounces) roasted and mashed winter squash (I used butternut)
1/3 cup (80 grams) yogurt or sour cream (I used greek yogurt the first time and plain yogurt the 2nd time, both worked fine) 
2 large eggs
1/2 cup (about 30 grams) finely grated gruyere, comte or parmesan
3/4 teaspoon fine sea or table salt
A few grinds of black pepper
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup (130 grams) all-purpose flour
Butter or olive oil for frying pan

for the sauce
4 tablespoons butter
A pinch or two of salt
about four sage leaves, chopped
1-2 tsp maple syrup
1 tsp apple cider vinegar

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. (This is optional, but it’s great for keeping the pancakes warm while you cook all of them and make the sauce.) 
In a large bowl, whisk squash, yogurt, eggs, cheese, salt, pepper and baking powder until smooth. Add flour and stir until just combined. Batter will be very thick, almost like a dough - this is fine! 

Heat a large frying over medium-low to medium heat. Coat the bottom with butter, and spoon in pancake batter, a heaping 1/4th cup at a time. Press the back of the batter mound to flatten the pancake (this is best with a spatula sprayed with cooking spray - the batter is very sticky.) Cook until golden brown underneath, flip and then cook until the color until golden brown on the second side. Transfer pancakes to baking sheet as they cook and place in the oven so they stay hot. 

Once all pancakes are done, use the same skillet to melt the butter. Once foamy, add salt and sage pieces, stirring constantly. Once butter starts to get golden, add the vinegar, stirring constantly. Then, add the maple syrup - be careful here, as butter will foam. Stir constantly until everything is combined. 


Serve pancakes with the butter sauce. 

lamb

lamb gyro salad with tzatziki

8:48:00 PM

Here’s something dorky: we made a summer bucket list this year. (Well, I did, Bob contributed.) We always talk about doing specific things, but we forget about them, and I found the best way to actually get us out DOING stuff was to write it down and actually schedule specific outings. We actually completed quite a huge chunk of our list, and I feel like this summer was very productive.



One of my favorite bucket list items was “campus day.” I’ve spent my whole life in Madison, minus the four years I spent living in Minneapolis for college. (Loved it, but plans to live there forever changed.)  Bob didn’t live in Madison until he was in college. So, although I’ve spent nearly my whole life here, I’ve never actually taken a real “tour” of UW Madison, and Bob knows campus much better than I do.

We walked about seven miles that day, all around campus and fun gardens and on State Street. We were eventually ravenous and ended up at Parthenon Gyros. This place is bomb. I’ve been there a handful of times since high school, but this particular day  - oh man. We were so hungry. And we could’ve eaten anything, but this was what I needed.  This gyro place looks like nothing special inside, but it has awesome food and this was absolutely the most satisfying meal we could’ve had. I still talk about this particular meal, because there are few times when what you really, really, really want to eat is that incredibly satisfying.

My sister sent me this gyro recipe ages ago, and I’ve made it a handful of times. Though not super fast, the lamb is easy, tastes amazing and can be turned into a typical gyro (wrapped in a warm pita with tomato and onion and tzatziki) or, as we did here, a nice salad. (Obviously we couldn’t go TOO low carb - I served this with warm pita bread wedges.)

The process for ending up with delicious slices of smoky lamb that are crispy on the edges is, admittedly, a little gross. You puree raw, ground lamb with some raw bacon, spices, garlic and onion into a sort of thick paste, then shape it into a loaf and bake it. (Pro tip: Don't get chunks of lamb instead of ground lamb and try to blend it in a standard blender. It eventually worked, but oh my god, it was a disaster.) Once fully cooked, you thinly slice it, then broil these slices just until browned and crispy and delicious. Then they’re ready to be stuffed in a soft pita or made into a tasty salad. If you don’t eat pork, or want to save some calories, or don’t want to buy bacon for this, you can leave the bacon out. I highly recommend not doing so, but it's definitely possible. 

For best results, make the tzatziki and the lamb mixture the day before. Both are much better sitting and letting flavors meld. But, I've also made this quickly, and it's always good.

These won’t beat the amazing gyros at Parthenon, but they’re as close as I’ll probably ever come at home!



lamb gyro salad with tzatziki sauce
meat recipe from Brown Eyed Baker

for the meat
1 pound ground lamb
2 teaspoons kosher salt (if using regular salt, reduce to 1 tsp)
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves (or about 1 tbsp dried)
½ yellow onion, cut into 1-inch chunks (use remaining onion to top salad)
1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
3 ounces slab bacon or 5 slices sliced bacon, cut into ½-inch pieces (optional but highly recommended)

for the tzatziki dressing
¾ large cucumber (save remaining ¼ for topping salad)
1 cup plain greek yogurt (any fat percentage is fine)
1 large clove of garlic, minced
1 tbsp lemon juice (save lemon slices for garnish and squeezing over salad)
1 tbsp fresh dill, chopped (dried doesn’t work well here - use more if you love dill)

for the salad
mixed greens
1 ½ cups cherry tomatoes, sliced in half (or 2 large tomatoes, diced)
¼ large cucumber
one large carrot, peeled and sliced into coins
½ onion, thinly sliced
bread or pita wedges for serving, if desired (alternatively, wrap gyro meat and toppings in a warmed pita bread)

Make the tzatziki first to let the flavors meld (it’s actually best made a day prior, but it’s fine made same day.) Peel the cucumber, slice it in half lengthwise, and using a melon baller or teaspoon, scrape out the seeds. Mince 3/4th the cucumber; slice the rest of it for topping the salad. Combine the minced cucumber, greek yogurt, garlic, lemon juice, and dill, then place in refrigerator in a covered container until ready to serve.

Make the meat: Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a food processor, combine the ground lamb, salt, pepper, oregano, onion, garlic, and bacon, and process until smooth, scraping down sides of the bowl as necessary. For best flavor, let sit in the fridge for a few hours or overnight.

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray (or lightly oil.) Wet your hands, then shape the meat into a loaf that’s about 8 inches long and 5 inches wide (I actually use a ruler for this and make it as even as possible so it cooks evenly.) Place on baking sheet and bake for 30-40 minutes or until meat reaches 155 degrees inside. Tent loaf with foil, then let sit for 15 minutes.

Once ready, slice the lamb loaf thinly, between 1/8th inch and 1/4th inch thick. Place oven rack on the highest position in the oven below the broiler. Replace the foil on the baking sheet with a new piece of foil (assuming lots of juices have accumulated.) Lay slices in a single layer on the same baking sheet, then broil for about 2-4 minutes or until the edges are crispy. (Watch this super carefully (I’ve started a couple kitchen fires in my day, and the broiler is to blame…) Then, flip slices over and broil for 2-4 minutes on the other side. Don’t get them too brown or the meat will dry out too much.

To make salads, place gyro meat on a bed of mixed greens, and top with tomatoes, carrot, cucumbers, sliced onions and tzatziki sauce. Serve with bread or pita wedges if desired. 

tofu

crispy glazed tofu with brown rice, beets, and sweet potatoes

7:22:00 PM

Do you like tofu? Do you not like tofu? Do you like tofu and you want to convert someone who doesn’t? 

None of that actually matters at all, I guess, because this is delicious, and you will like it regardless. I know the picture is terrible (it was pitch black outside) but I didn’t want to skip posting this recipe because it’s so good. 


When I was a kid, tofu was synonymous with “healthy.” It was stuff hippies ate. It was what Doug Funny hated. It was gross. 

Now, in a time when everyone is a health expert and you can find a myriad of studies paid for by various industries, tofu no longer has a health food reputation. People can debate soy for hours, just like they debate the virtues of coconut oil and eggs and coffee (all of which I also love.) The bottom line for me: it might be healthy, and it’s a very cheap form of protein (a couple weeks ago we got two pounds of organic tofu for two bucks!) and it will absorb the flavor of whatever you do with it. It’s a great base for so many dishes. We probably eat it about once a week. 

Regardless of whether or not tofu is “healthy”, this particular preparation of it isn’t exactly healthy. Coated in panko, lightly fried, and tossed in a delectable, ginger-y sauce. But you’ll pair it with a whole grain (brown rice, farro, or quinoa are all good options) and some yummy fall vegetables and it’ll rock your world.

The only non-vegan part of this recipe is the egg that you use in the breading (and the honey in the sauce, but you can use agave nectar.) I’m not sure of a great way to vegan-ify it. I’m open to suggestions! I’ve read about dipping the tofu in soy milk, then in flour, then in soy milk again before putting into breading. I’ve also read that vegan mayo works, but I have no idea how it will taste. (We bought vegan mayo once. I will not be buying it again.) It might sort of work not putting anything on it since tofu is kind of wet to begin with, but I haven’t tried it.

This recipe is from Crepes of Wrath, which is full of lots of delicious recipes. Check it out! The only real change I made was to use brown rice instead of quinoa as I really don’t like quinoa (I know, blasphemy.) I actually meant to use farro, but lost it somewhere deep in the cupboard to the point I thought I didn’t have any … so brown rice it is. 

This will convert pretty much any tofu hater. Seriously. 

crispy glazed tofu with brown rice, beets, and sweet potatoes
adapted (barely) from The Crepes of Wrath

for the brown rice and vegetables
1 cup brown rice, uncooked
3-4 beets, peeled and cut into cubes
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp honey or agave nectar (optional)
salt and pepper

for the tofu
1 lb tofu (if your package is a little less, that’s okay)
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup panko breadcrumbs 
½ tsp Chinese 5-spice powder
1 egg, beaten in a shallow dish with 1 tbsp water
canola oil (probably about ½ cup in all)

for the sauce
2 tsp olive oil
1 large shallot, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1-inch piece of ginger, minced (about 1.5-2 tbsp)
3 tbsp honey or agave nectar
3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp sugar
2 tsp sriracha or garlic chili sauce
dash of sesame oil (optional, but tasty if you have a bottle)
1 tbsp cornstarch dissolved in ¼ cup water
sesame seeds and chopped scallions for garnish

Start by pressing the tofu. Cut tofu into several slices about ½-¾ inch thick, lay slices flat on a thick layer of paper towels, top with another thick layer of paper towels, and put a heavy skillet on top. Let sit for about 20-30 minutes.

Cook rice according to package directions and add salt and pepper to taste. While rice is cooking, roast the vegetables: preheat the oven to 400 degrees (I use convection setting). Toss the peeled, cubed vegetables with the olive oil, honey or agave nectar, salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet lined with foil and bake for about 15-20 minutes (will take shorter on convection oven, longer in regular oven.) You want the vegetables browned in spots and slightly crispy. Stir halfway through.

When rice and vegetables are done, stir the vegetables into the rice, taste the mix for seasoning, and set aside. Keep warm.

Cook the tofu: After tofu is pressed, cut into cubes. Combine the panko, flour, and 5-spice powder in a shallow dish. Working with a few pieces of tofu at a time, dip them into the egg mixed with water, then into the panko mix. Press to adhere the crumbs to the tofu, then set aside. 

In a large skillet or pot, heat about ½ inch of canola oil over medium heat until hot, then add tofu in batches. It’ll take a couple minutes for the tofu to brown. Once it’s brown, flip over with tongs and brown the other side. When tofu is cooked, remove from pan with tongs and place on paper towels to drain. Continue breading and pan-frying tofu until all is cooked.

Lastly, make the glaze. Heat the two tsp of olive oil in a saucepan, then add in the shallot and saute until softened. Add the garlic and ginger, stir for 30 seconds. Then add the honey/agave nectar, soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, sriracha/chili sauce, and sesame oil. Cook until it boils, then stir in the cornstarch/water mixture and continue to cook and let thicken, about 2-3 minutes. Once sauce is thick, stir in the fried tofu and cook for just a little bit so it re-warms the tofu. 

Serve tofu with the rice mixture. Season with sesame seeds and scallions.

poultry

chipotle chicken nachos

7:04:00 PM

Nachoooooosssssss.

These are the best. I’ve spent a lot of my adult life trying to make nachos slightly healthier, and I’ve never really succeeded. One good technique is to make your own tortilla chips (so easy - cut fresh corn tortillas into wedges, spray with a bit of oil, sprinkle on some salt and pepper, and bake.) Admittedly, baked chips are not quite as hearty and don't stand up to toppings as well, and it’s not what I did here, because it was GAME DAY.



I am not a football fan, and never have been. But, living in a one-bedroom loft condo with a fella who owns a Packers scarf and Packers blanket and Packers hats, sacrifices must be made during season (which is, of course, 90% of the year, right? I swear it never ends.) And I live in Wisconsin, so.  Bob puts up with plenty of my nonsense, and with football comes good food, so I can’t mind too much. A couple times we’ve made homemade soft pretzels with beer cheese sauce. Once we made a giant Cuban sandwich (or was that for the Kentucky Derby? I don’t know.) 

Anyway. I’ve made these a big handful of times over the last few years. They are so. good. I was hesitant to use a recipe that called for ketchup, of all things, as the main ingredient in the sauce base, but I swear, you CANNOT tell. It is nothing but pure deliciousness.(Use one of those fancy organic ketchups with low sugar and um, it’s healthy, right?) The sauce is sweet and smoky and a little spicy. Also, any recipe that starts off with twenty cloves of garlic is good in my book. 

I cut the recipe in half when we make them because in no universe should we have eight servings of nachos available to us. Cutting it in half leaves us with two reasonable portions for dinner plus leftovers for lunch the next day. 



chipotle chicken nachos
serves 8 
adapted (barely) from Katie at the Kitchen Door

ingredients
for the topping
6 cloves garlic, unpeeled and left whole
14 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
a little olive oil
3 yellow onions,  peeled
1 fresh bay leaf (I use a couple dried)
2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2-3 red bell peppers, seeded, deveined, and finely chopped
4 canned chipotles in adobo sauce (or to taste - start with 1 or 2 and if it’s not spicy enough, add more)
1 cup ketchup 
1 cup chicken stock
2 tbs smoked paprika

to assemble
tortilla chips (for 8 servings, about 1 whole bag)
1 cup cheese (I like sharp cheddar, a smoked cheese works well here too) 
2 avocado, chopped
2-3 cups shredded lettuce
a few sliced radishes
cilantro
sour cream

Start by roasting the unpeeled garlic. Place cloves in a piece of aluminum foil, drizzle with a little oil and some salt, and roast in a 375 degree oven until tender, about 20-30 minutes. (It’s really best to just roast an entire head of garlic as long as you’re doing this, because roasted garlic is nirvana, but that’s up to you.) This will go in your sauce later.

 Cook the chicken: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Chop one of the onions (roughly, it’s just for flavor) and add it to the pot along with the bay leaf and chicken thighs. Cook chicken until it reaches 160 degrees, about 10-14 minutes. Remove with tongs and let sit until cool enough to shred. Shred with your hands (easiest) or two forks. Discard the liquid and onion.

Start on the sauce: Chop the remaining two onions and the 14 cloves of peeled garlic. Heat the tablespoon of canola oil in a large nonstick skillet and add the onions, garlic, and bell peppers. Cook until vegetables are soft, about 10-15 minutes. 

Take your roasted garlic you cooked earlier and toss it in a food processor or blender along with the chipotles (I recommend starting with 1-2 if you’re spice-shy and add more if needed),  ketchup, chicken stock, and smoked paprika. Blend until smooth. Add this sauce to the vegetables in the pan and cook for about 10-15 minutes. The sauce will reduce and thicken. Finally, stir in in the chicken and heat through.

To assemble nachos, preheat the broiler and place oven rack under the broiler. Line a couple of baking sheets with foil and spray with cooking spray. Add enough chips to cover the bottom, then top with the chicken mixture and cheese. (I usually make a couple of layers - chips, then chicken, then cheese, then repeat.) When broiler is ready, broil nachos for a couple of minutes - watch carefully! - until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Top with whatever you like on your nachos! (My favorite is sour cream, avocado, and shredded lettuce.) 

pasta/noodles

farro risotto with butternut squash and pepitas

7:55:00 PM


Phew! Life is busy. I'm a few weeks behind, so it's a good thing that the lack of lighting in our condo and the darker evenings make it so that many of my food photographs turn out so horribly that I'm not even bothering to post the recipe for a few things. Not that my photography is anything but very amateur on a good day, but trying to photograph enchiladas (seriously, how does that even work? How do you even DO that?) in the dark is just not working. So, a post about my amazing chicken enchilada recipe that is so good I'd make it for company will have to wait. Hopefully not too long, as I do have a fridge full of tomatillos from the farmer's market needing to be used up in enchilada sauce.

It's only October and I'm already moderately tired of sweet potatoes and squash. Though I did make these super delicious winter squash pancakes with crispy sage and brown butter from Smitten Kitchen tonight that were very yummy (I served with chicken sausage and brussels sprouts with leeks.)

Risotto is one of those things that people complain about making, but I don’t really mind it, especially not in the cooler months when standing around a stove isn’t so bad. 

Arborio rice is, of course, the best way to make risotto. It gets so creamy and delicious and perfect (eventually…) 

But, we’ve also become quite fond of farro recently.  I first started using it in summer to make delicious faro bowls with tomatoes, avocado, bacon, fresh mozzarella, basil, and a simple balsamic dressing. But it works even better in fall, I think. In the spirit of eating fewer refined carbs and opting for whole grains instead, I made this ferro-based risotto instead of arborio-based risotto, and it is a delicious fall dish. 

I won’t lie, this does not get as creamy as risotto made with traditional arborio rice - it just doesn’t have that kind of starch in it. But, it is creamy and good, and has delicious bits of roasted butternut squash, toasty pumpkin seeds, and rich gruyere cheese. It’s comforting and yummy and slightly healthier than a regular risotto. It takes about the same amount of time, but doesn’t require quite as much stirring - you can be a little less attentive to this, which is nice if you’re making a side dish or have other stuff to do. 

A gruyere works best here for the cheese. We are obsessed with Trader Joe’s cheddar/gruyere blend, which is what I used here, but parmesan would also work in a pinch. Whatever you use, use freshly grated. 


farro risotto with butternut squash and pepitas
serves 4

ingredients
for the squash
1 small butternut squash, peeled and chopped into ½ inch cubes
1 tbsp canola oil
salt and pepper 

for the risotto
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large leek, sliced thinly
1 cup of farro, uncooked
2 cloves of garlic, minced
½ cup marsala (or white wine) 
4 cups vegetable broth
a tbsp each fresh thyme, fresh sage, fresh rosemary, plus more for garnish
salt and pepper
2 oz gruyere cheese 
about ½ cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)

Cook the squash: Preheat oven to 400 degrees (convection works best if that’s an option.) Toss the cubed squash with canola oil in a bowl, season with salt and pepper, and spread in an even layer on a foil-lined baking sheet. Roast about 20 minutes or until browned in spots and soft; set aside.

Make the risotto: Heat a pot over medium heat. Once hot, add the tablespoon of olive oil. Add the leek and saute a few minutes until starting to get tender. Add the garlic and farro and continue stirring, until farro is starting to smell slightly toasted. Add the marsala or white wine, and cook for 1 minute until wine is absorbed. Add the fresh herbs and stir until incorporated. Add 1 cup of broth, and continue cooking until liquid is absorbed, stirring frequently. Add another cup of broth and do the same - wait for it to be absorbed before adding more. Do this two more times with the last two cups of broth. This will likely take about 30 minutes or so total. Test the farro - it should still be a little chewy but mostly soft. If it’s not quite tender enough, add more broth (or water) and cook the same way, stirring to incorporate, until tender. 

Add almost all the cheese to the risotto (saving some for topping) and stir until incorporated. Add the cooked, roasted squash, stirring gently - you don’t want to mash the squash completely. 

Toast the pumpkin seeds by heating a dry nonstick skillet over high heat, then adding the pumpkin seeds. Stir frequently and watch carefully so they don’t burn. Once toasted, sprinkle over the risotto.



pasta/noodles

tofu pad thai

7:35:00 PM

Fun fact that is mildly embarrassing: the first time I ever made pad thai, ketchup was a main sauce ingredient. I was young and in college and poor, and I thought it was delicious. Now, I would have no excuse to do something that heinous. Google has me believing that some restaurants even put ketchup in their pad thai, which is terrifying. Don’t do this. Make this instead.


I loooove pad thai. I’m not certain, but it may be the first way I ever ate tofu, which is probably why I still love tofu so much.  I tend to always order tofu in any Asian-style noodle dish, despite being an omnivore, because I just like it. (Also good - mock duck/seitan. The best curry I ever had, from a place right down the street called Ha Long Bay, was a mock duck massaman curry. Phenomenal.) 

There are a lot of resources on the internet that argue about the right way to authentically make Pad Thai. Most of them require stir-frying the noodles in individual servings, adding sauce and ingredients as you go. But, I have a crappy electric flat-top stove, which makes it absolutely impossible to quickly control heat level. Pans just don’t get hot enough quickly enough to do this, and also, it feels like just too much work. 

Most people agree that the ingredients in the pad thai sauce are palm sugar, tamarind paste, fish sauce, and maybe thai chilis. Most also include peanuts and lime and bean sprouts.

I don’t have palm sugar and it can be expensive, so brown sugar it is. But the other ingredients are all there. If you can’t find tamarind paste, it’s easy to find online, and it lasts forever in the fridge so you can make pad thai over and over again. There isn’t really a good substitute for it. 

You can certainly sub any other cooked protein for the tofu, like thinly sliced chicken thighs.


tofu pad thai

ingredients
for sauce
6 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp tamarind concentrate/paste
1 tsp thai chile paste
5 tbsp brown sugar, packed

for pad thai
8 oz wide rice noodles (such as bahn pho)
1 block super firm tofu (12-16 oz), cut into 8 slices width-wise
2 tbsp canola oil
5 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 cups bean sprouts
4 medium carrots, peeled and grated on a cheese grater or shredded in a food processor
2 eggs, whisked (optional)
salt and pepper

for serving
5 scallions, sliced 
cilantro
lime wedges
2 oz (about ½ cup) dry roasted peanuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 400 degrees (convection setting if you have it for crispier tofu.)

Start by pressing your tofu. Slice into about 8 equal pieces, then place on a layer of paper towels. Top with more paper towels and place a heavy skillet on top. Let drain for about 20 minutes, while you prep everything else.

Mix together the fish sauce, tamarind paste, thai chile paste and brown sugar; set aside.

When tofu is pressed, cut into cubes. Toss with a tablespoon of canola oil, salt and pepper to taste. Bake on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil for about 20 minutes, stirring once, or until tofu is crispy on the outside. 

Cook the pad thai noodles in salted water according to package directions. You can undercook them a little bit as you’ll saute them a little bit with the other ingredients later.

In a small nonstick skillet, make a thin omelet with the whisked eggs: season eggs with salt and pepper, then pour eggs into skillet and tilt the pan to create an even layer. Let set on the bottom, then flip over. Once set, slide onto a cutting board and slice into thin strips.

In a large skillet or wok, heat a tablespoon of canola oil and add the minced garlic. Saute for about 30 seconds. Add almost all the bean sprouts and almost all the carrots (save a little bit for garnish.) 

Add the sauce to the large skillet, and bring to a simmer. Finally, add the cooked noodles and toss (gently!) until all the noodles are incorporated with the vegetables and they are coated in the sauce. Add the cooked tofu and stir. 

Serve the pad thai with chopped peanuts, scallions, cilantro, the reserved bean sprouts and carrots, and lime wedges.







breads

mediterranean platter with homemade pita and red pepper eggplant dip

6:19:00 PM



Like many things we’ve cooked this last summer, this idea for dinner popped up due to our CSA. We got eggplant. I have tried to like eggplant, I really have. I’ve made eggplant parmesan. I’ve salted and not salted. I’ve peeled and not peeled. And really, I just couldn’t think of a way to turn it into a meal I’d actually really enjoy. Eggplant is fine, but it’s just that - fine. 

Until I remembered eggplant spread. Trader Joe’s Eggplant Garlic Spread, to be more exact. Like all amazing things at Trader Joe’s, they no longer make it. I don’t have a full ingredients list for this amazing spread, but the front of the jar describes this spread as a mix of eggplant, garlic, and fefferoni peppers. I only Googled “fefferoni peppers” for about twenty seconds before I got a headache, so I took this in a different direction and decided to use up some of the CSA bell peppers as well and make an eggplant, red pepper, and roasted garlic spread. Close enough.

And then I needed something to eat WITH it. So then came the pita, then the decision to just throw lots of little things onto a platter and eat that for dinner. And it worked. You can, of course, make this a lot easier by buying pita, but this recipe from New York Times was really good. 

This would be a nice spread to have at parties, too, with some more vegetables and maybe some hummus. 




Pita requires HOT temperatures in the oven to puff up like a pita. If your oven is not totally clean, like ours, you maaaay want to have another person with you to fan your smoke alarms every single time you open your oven. Ahem. Thanks Bob. On the plus side, I think we burned off any remaining gunk in the oven after cooking these pitas. 




mediterranean platter with homemade pita and red pepper eggplant dip

for the pita
2 tsp active dry yeast
½ tsp sugar
¼ cup whole wheat flour 
2 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 tsp kosher salt
2 tbsp olive oil

for the eggplant dip
1 large eggplant, peeled and sliced into ½ inch thick rounds
1 head garlic, top ½ inch sliced off to expose cloves
2 red bell peppers
salt and pepper
olive oil 

for parsnip fries
4 parsnips, peeled and cut into thin sticks 
about 1 tbsp olive oil
about 1 tsp greek seasoning
salt (if using unsalted greek seasoning) and pepper, to taste

for the plate
sliced raw vegetables for dipping (we used carrots)
kalamata olives
mozzarella balls (we used the kind marinated in olive oil & herbs)
hard boiled eggs (we used pickled eggs that Bob made) 
parsley for garnish

For the pita bread: 
Place yeast and sugar in a bowl. Add  1 cup warm water (110 degrees or so) and stir until dissolved. Add all of the whole wheat flour (¼ cup) and ¼ cup of the all purpose flour. Whisk. Let sit in a warm place for about 15 minutes, or until frothy.

Add salt, olive oil, and most of the rest of the flour - save ½ cup for rolling and adding if dough is too wet. Mix with a large wooden spoon until it comes together. Add a bit of flour and knead in the bowl for about 1 minute, incorporating all the dough.

Turn onto a floured work surface (I used a cutting board). Knead for 2 minutes or until smooth. Let rest for 10 minutes, then knead again 2 minutes. If dough is too wet, add a bit more flour (I didn’t need to.) At this point, you can put the dough in a large ziplock bag and place in the fridge overnight (this is what I did so it came together more quickly the next day.) 

If not refrigerating dough, place in an oiled bowl and cover it with plastic wrap. Leave in a warm spot until it’s doubled in size, about 1 hour. 

To cook the pitas, preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Place a large baking sheet in the oven while it preheats. 

Divide your dough into 8 roughly equal pieces, roll them into balls, cover with a damp towel, and let sit for about 10 minutes. Then, roll each ball into an 8-inch circle. 

Once oven is preheated, place two dough circles on the preheated baking sheet quickly, then close the oven. An oven light is handy here. After 2 minutes, the pitas should be puffed up. Flip the pitas over and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes. Don’t overbake these - they will still be pale with just a few brown spots. When done, remove from oven and cover pitas with a towel to keep warm. Cook the rest of the pitas, two at a time on the baking sheet, until all are baked. 

For the eggplant spread: 
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Drizzle a little bit of olive oil over the top of the head of garlic and wrap in aluminum foil and place in the oven, top of the garlic side up. 

Line a baking sheet with foil; spray with cooking spray or a little oil. Slice the sides off your 2 bell peppers so you end up with 8 equal-ish pieces. Toss the sliced eggplant and bell peppers with a bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper. (At this point you could add whatever seasonings you want in your dip - I like it with just salt and pepper.) Place the eggplant slices and bell peppers (skin side up) in a single layer on the baking sheet. 

Roast all the vegetables and the garlic for about 20-30 minutes, until vegetables are browned in spots. The garlic may take up to 45 minutes - you want the cloves softened and browned. 

Place the roasted vegetables into the bowl of a food processor and squeeze the garlic pulp into the bowl. Mix until desired consistency is reached. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. 

For the parsnip fries: 
You can roast these at the same time as the other vegetables on a different rack in the oven. Combine parsnip sticks with olive oil, salt, pepper, and greek seasoning. Line another baking sheet with foil, spray with cooking spray, and place on a baking sheet in a single layer. Cook for about 20-30 minutes until browned and getting crispy.

For plating: 
Cut pita into wedges. You can drizzle it with olive oil if you wish. Plate with eggplant spread, sliced raw vegetables, parsnip fries, a handful of olives, some mozzarella balls, a hard-boiled egg sliced in half, and a sprinkle of parsley. 


pita recipe from New York Times





beef

flank steak with poblano molé and seasoned rice

9:05:00 PM




Do you ever have some kind of recipe saved, thinking “I’m totally going to make that sometime soon” and then several years - not days, weeks, or months, but actually years - later, it’s still sitting in your recipe file and every single time you look at it you say “I’m going to make that this week!” and then you look at the long list of ingredients and think about the effort you’d expend and how much easier it would be to just make grilled cheese?

This one followed me around a while, starting with a ripped out page from a magazine, then placed into a binder, and then when I finally went electronic for recipe storage, it lasted through three different recipe storage apps before I finally cooked the damn thing. 

This is a delicious, medium-rare cooked flank steak, sliced thinly and served with a delicious chocolatey molé sauce. The sauce is not beautiful, but it’s tasty. It's served with a nice side of seasoned rice, and I threw in some brussels sprouts because I’m me and we’ve talked about that obsession before. (Also, it’s fall, and they’re everywhere right now, and they are perfect.) 

The original recipe called for bison flank steak. There’s some frozen in my grocery store, and some at the farmer’s market, but it was expensive and I found a good quality beef flank steak at the butcher shop, so I used that. 

I didn’t include any directions for brussels sprouts because they’re basic - these ones, I shredded in the food processor with my slicing blade, and then sautéed them in a bit of olive oil, salt, pepper, and I think I may have splashed some white wine in there as well. 

The sauce calls for both sliced almonds and pumpkin seeds, both toasted. You can chop almonds if you don’t have sliced ones. They’re all going in the same blender. To toast them, I placed them in a hot, dry skillet until they were starting to get golden. I made a few more toasted pumpkin seeds to garnish. 



flank steak with poblano molé and seasoned rice
adapted (barely) from Cooking Light

for the rice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/3 cup finely chopped onion
1 cup uncooked long-grain rice (I used brown basmati; white works better, but brown is fine)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cup broth (vegetable, beef, or chicken) 
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro (optional, I omitted)

for the molé sauce
2 tomatillos (I used 3 as mine were small) 
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
1 seeded, chopped poblano chile
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon ancho chile powder or chipotle chile powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/3 cup fire-roasted diced tomatoes, canned (you can make do with regular diced tomatoes)
1/4 cup broth (vegetable, beef, or chicken)
1 chopped chipotle chile, canned in adobo sauce
1/2 (6-inch) corn tortilla, torn into pieces
½ ounce dark chocolate, chopped (I used unsweetened)
1 tablespoon sliced almonds, toasted and finely chopped
1 tablespoon pepitas (pumpkin seeds), toasted

for the steak
cooking spray
1 lb flank steak
salt and pepper to taste

Make the rice: Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the cup onion to pan; cook 3 minutes or until tender. Stir in rice; cook 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add tomato paste, cumin, and 1/4 teaspoon salt; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in the broth and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until rice is tender (or cook for as long as your rice instructions indicate; since I used brown basmati, this took about 40 minutes.) Remove from heat; stir in cilantro if using. Keep warm.

To make the sauce: Peel and chop the tomatillos. Heat 1/2 teaspoon oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add poblano, 1/4 cup onion, and tomatillos; cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in chile powder, 1/4 teaspoon cumin, salt, and garlic; cook 1 minute. Stir in tomatoes, 1/4 cup broth, chipotle, and tortilla; cook 5 minutes. Reduce heat; simmer 6 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add chocolate, stirring until melted; remove from heat. Stir in ­almonds and pumpkinseeds. Place mixture in blender. Remove center piece of blender lid; secure lid on blender. Place a towel over opening in lid. Blend until smooth. Taste sauce and season as needed. Keep warm.

For the steak: Heat a pan (cast iron REALLY works best here to get the best crust on the steak) over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Season steak well with salt and pepper. Add steak to pan; cook 5 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. I used a meat thermometer and cooked it to 135 degrees  for medium-rare - the meat will continue cooking slightly once removed from the pan. Loosely tent with foil and let stand 5 minutes. 

Using a sharp knife, cut the steak into very thin slices against the grain.

Serve steak with the rice and mole sauce. Great served with a salad or a sautéed or roasted vegetable. 

vegetarian

black bean and sweet potato tacos with avocado

9:15:00 PM


My goodness, I am so far behind in this blog! Finally loaded the memory card from the camera and saw how many meals I haven’t posted yet. I cook every night, and photograph most meals, so unless I post every single day, I’ll probably be chronically behind. 

I think I’ve mentioned before that we are big taco fans. Luckily, you can really make tacos out of almost everything. This is one of my favorite combinations, and is so good for fall, when sweet potatoes are abundant. It’s cheap, it’s vegan if you leave off the sour cream and replace the honey with maple syrup or another sweetener, it’s easy, and it’s delicious. It still tastes fresh with the addition of lime juice and avocado while using mostly pantry ingredients. 

My tacos here don’t look as pretty as yours will if you use a normal orange sweet potato. Our CSA game us some beautiful purple sweet potatoes, but they aren’t quite as beautiful against black beans as a nice vibrant orange sweet potato is. Luckily, they are tasty either way.

Sweet potatoes and chipotle are a long-standing favorite combination of mine. Simply roasting them with a bit of oil, salt, pepper, and chipotle makes a tasty side dish.



black bean and sweet potato tacos with avocado

ingedients
for taco filling


1 tbsp olive or canola oil
1 medium white or yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into ½ inch cubes
1 15.5-oz  can black beans, rinsed and drained (or about 1.5 cups homemade)
1 tbsp honey (or maple syrup for vegan)
1 canned chipotle in adobo sauce, chopped, plus 1-2 tbsp more of sauce - adjust for your spice level
juice of one lime

for guacamole
2 avocados, peeled, pitted, and cut into chunks
2 cloves garlic
½ jalapeño, seeded and diced (add more or less to your spice level)
juice of one lime
salt and pepper to taste

for serving
12 corn tortillas
lime wedges
sour cream (omit if vegan)
cilantro (optional)
any other taco toppings you like - cheese, tomato, lettuce, salsa

For the filling: Heat large skillet over medium-high. Once hot, add oil, then the onions. Saute until fairly soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and saute a minute more. Add the black beans and the cubed sweet potato. Add in the honey, chipotle chile, and lime juice. Cover and let steam until the sweet potato is soft, about 10-15 minutes. 

While the filling cooks, mash up the avocado with the back of a fork, and stir in the garlic, jalapeño, lime juice, and salt and pepper. Refrigerate until ready to use. 

Heat the tortillas. I always put mine on a baking sheet and broil until warm and toasted. Alternatively, you can wrap them in foil and heat in a warm oven. 

Fill tortillas with sweet potato and bean filling. Top with guacamole, sour cream, and any other toppings you prefer. Serve with lime wedges.



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