Saturday, March 31, 2012

40 Meatless Meals: Aztec Quiche

1 1/4 c grated Monterey Jack cheese
3/4 c grated mild cheddar cheese
1 9-inch deep dish frozen pie shell
1 4 ounce can diced green chilies
1 c half and half
3 eggs beaten lightly
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground cumin

Spread Monterey Jack cheese and half of cheddar over bottom of pie shell. Sprinkle chilies over cheeses. Stir together in a bowl the half-and-half, eggs, and seasonings. Pour carefully into pie shell. Sprinkle with remaining cheddar. Cover pie with foil, and put in freezer. To prepare for serving, thaw pie and remove foil. Bake uncovered in a preheated 325 degree oven for 40-50 minutes. 6-8 servings.

NOTES: This froze well in a 5-liter Rubbermaid container. In fact, after it was frozen, I could stack another pie on top and they'd both fit nicely.

Served neatly and would be good for brunch.

Source: Once-a-Month Cooking

Friday, March 30, 2012

CL Hint of the Day: Leftover Yolks

Pour cold water over leftover egg yolks before storing in the fridge, to keep them from drying out.

I admit that I usually have the opposite problem (an abundance of whites), but you never know when I might go on a macaron kick, I suppose...

Tip via ATK Feed, where they have lots of other fantastic kitchen hints.

40 Meatless Meals: Pasta Limone

All the comfort of fettucine alfredo with some lemony pep.

Pasta Limone (serves 4-6)
Adapted from Cook's Illustrated

1 lb whole wheat spaghetti
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 medium shallot, minced
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 t lemon zest, finely chopped
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup grated mozarella cheese
black pepper
2 T fresh parsley or basil

In a dutch oven, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, reserving 1.75 cups pasta water.

Heat 1 T oil in dutch oven. Add shallot and cook until soft. Stir in 1.5 cups pasta water and cream; simmer 2 minutes. Turn off burner. Fold in pasta, then stir in remaining oil, lemon zest, juice, cheese, and 1/2 t black pepper. Cover and let stand 2 minutes. Stir in fresh herbs and salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 4-6.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

It's March; Do You Know Where Your Tomatoes Are?

I'm constantly behind in planning out my garden. Maybe it's because I have moved from zone 4 to zone 6, so everything comes just a bit earlier; more likely, it's my deliberate, perfectionist, and yes, procrastinating personality clashing with an activity that's a bit more here-and-now. At any rate, I was pleased to discover SproutRobot, a site that reminds you when to plant your vegetables.

You can simply enter your zip code on the home page to see a week-by-week calendar, or create an account, to receive email reminders to start the plants you check in your profile. They also have paid memberships, where they mail seeds to you at the right times. The calendar includes instructions for each plant. These are geared toward the beginner, but having everything laid out by date might appeal to more advanced gardeners, too.

Here, it's already time for me to start my tomatoes and peppers. Lacking a lot of sunny indoor space for pots, I'll be trying this method using milk cartons as mini-greenhouses.

Other gardening links I've been enjoying:

40 Meatless Meals: Salmon & Red Pepper Pizza

1 pizza crust, unbaked
1 can salmon, drained (skin and bones removed)
1 sweet bell pepper, cut in strips
1 scallion, thinly sliced
1 cup mozarella cheese, grated.

Preheat oven to 420. Spread pizza crust in pan. Sprinkle next three ingredients over crust. Make 15 minutes. Top with cheese and bake until bubbly.

Serves 4.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

40 Meatless Meals: Spicy Black Bean and Sour Cream Enchiladas

2 cans Black Beans, Drained (15 Oz Each)
2 cloves Garlic, Minced
½ cups Chopped Onion, Divided
½ whole Lime, Juice And Zest
1 teaspoon Cumin
1 teaspoon Onion Powder
1 teaspoon Chili Powder
½ teaspoons Cinnamon
½ cups Sour Cream
1 cup Shredded Monterey Jack Cheese, Divided
1 can Green Enchilada Sauce (16 Oz)
1 can Mild Green Chilies (small, 4 Oz Can)
1 package Small Corn Tortillas (10 To 12 Tortillas Per Package)

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • In a mixing bowl, combine black beans, garlic and about half the chopped onions.
  • Next, add the lime (juice and zest), cumin, onion powder, chili powder, cinnamon, sour cream and about one third of the shredded cheese to the mixture. Combine well.
  • Spoon the filling into the corn tortillas (one at a time) and roll them by hand. Try to get them as tight as you can and then place them in a baking dish, seam side down.
  • Pour the green enchilada sauce on top so that it coats each tortilla.
  • Top with the remaining cheese, onions, and here is where you’ll add the super spice! I topped mine with a handful of the pickled jalapeno slices but if you’d prefer milder spice, use the mild green chilies listed in the ingredients list instead. Add as much as you want to suite your taste.
  • Bake in a 9 by 13 inch baking dish (or anything you have that’s long and rectangular) for 15 to 20 minutes until cheese is melted and tortilla edges look crispy and brown.
  • Apologies for the lack of a photo.
  • The flavors in the filling were great! I loved the lime and cinnamon together.
  • Corn tortillas are annoying. Even though we warmed them a little in the microwave, they tended to crack when rolling. Great flavor, but if I wanted this dish to look better, I'd go for flour tortillas.
  • Be sure to drain the beans well. The sour cream tends to make it a little runny as it is.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

40 Meatless Meals: Creamed Mushrooms on toast

2 T butter
8 oz mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 cups milk
2 T cornstarch dissolved in water
1 bouillon cube
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1 t parsley
salt and pepper
Fresh bread

Melt butter in frying pan. Sautee mushrooms until tender; remove from pan. Pour in milk and cornstarch, stirring frequently until sauce thickens. Stir in bouillon, Worcestershire sauce, and parsley. Fold in mushrooms. Season to taste.

Serve over fresh bread.

Serves 4.

Monday, March 26, 2012

40 Meatless Meals: Sweet Potato Risotto

Serves four.

2 tablespoons butter
1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 onion, chopped
1/4 teaspoon minced peeled fresh ginger
2/3 cup Arborio rice or medium-grain rice
1 cup dry Riesling wine
1/4 cup walnuts, toasted, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2-3 T heavy cream (optional)

Melt butter in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add sweet potatoes, onion and ginger; sauté about 5 minutes. Add rice and stir until glossy (add a bit more oil or butter if needed). Turn heat up to high and add wine, stirring until evaporated. Add hot water or vegetable stock 1/2 cup at a time, stirring each until evaporated, until rice is cooked. Season with salt and pepper, and finish by adding the heavy cream, if desired.

Spoon risotto onto plates. Sprinkle with nuts and parsley.

Note: For a less labor-intensive version involving mascarpone cheese, see the original recipe.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

We are waiting, O Lady, for your word of compassion

You have heard, O Virgin, that you will conceive and bear a son; you have heard that it will not be by man but by the Holy Spirit.

The angel awaits an answer; it is time for him to return to God who sent him.

We too are waiting, O Lady, for your word of compassion; the sentence of condemnation weighs heavily upon us.

The price of our salvation is offered to you. We shall be set free at once if you consent. In the eternal Word of God we all came to be, and behold, we die.

In your brief response we are to be remade in order to be recalled to life.

Tearful Adam with his sorrowing family begs this of you, O loving Virgin, in their exile from Paradise. Abraham begs it, David begs it.

All the other holy patriarchs, your ancestors, ask it of you, as they dwell in the country of the shadow of death. This is what the whole earth waits for, prostrate at your feet.

It is right in doing so, for on your word depends comfort for the wretched, ransom for the captive, freedom for the condemned, indeed, salvation for all the sons of Adam, the whole of your race.

Answer quickly, O Virgin. Reply in haste to the angel, or rather through the angel to the Lord. Answer with a word, receive the Word of God.

Speak your own word, conceive the divine Word. Breathe a passing word, embrace the eternal Word.

Why do you delay, why are you afraid? Believe, give praise, and receive. Let humility be bold, let modesty be confident.

This is no time for virginal simplicity to forget prudence. In this matter alone, O prudent Virgin, do not fear to be presumptuous.

Though modest silence is pleasing, dutiful speech is now more necessary.

Open your heart to faith, O blessed Virgin, your lips to praise, your womb to the Creator. See, the desired of all nations is at your door, knocking to enter.

If he should pass by because of your delay, in sorrow you would begin to seek him afresh, the One whom your soul loves.

Arise, hasten, open. Arise in faith, hasten in devotion, open in praise and thanksgiving. Behold the handmaid of the Lord, she says, be it done to me according to your word.

-From a homily In Praise of the Virgin Mother by Saint Bernard, abbot (December 20 Office of Readings)
-Image credit: Filippino Lippi, Apparition of the Virgin to Saint Bernard

Friday, March 23, 2012

40 Meatless Meals: Puffy Oven Apple Pancake

Some of our favorite meatless meals are in the "breakfast for dinner" category. They're typically cheap and fast - two valuable commodities for our busy family! This one got high ratings and is one I'll be sure to make again.

2 tbls. packed brown sugar
2 tbls. butter
1/4 ts. cinnamon
1 med. apple, peeled and sliced thin
2 large eggs
1/2 c flour
1/2 c milk
1/4 tsp salt

  • Heat oven to 400 degrees.
  • In a 9 inch pie plate, melt butter (in microwave or oven) and brush it over the bottom and sides.
  • Sprinkle brown sugar and cinnamon evenly over the bottom.
  • Arrange apples over sugar.
  • Mix eggs, flour, milk, and salt. Do not overbeat or the pancake may not puff.
  • Pour into pie plate.
  • Bake 30-35 minutes until puffy and golden brown.
  • Loosen sides and turn upside down on a serving plate. Serve immediately.

Serves one adult or two kids.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

40 Meatless Meals Guest Post: Salmon en Croûte

Guest Post by Mrs. N.

Bread crumbs are the trick to keeping the salmon from turning the pastry soggy. You can also use blanched asparagus, caramelized onions, roasted peppers, or other vegetables in place of the spinach so long as they aren't too watery.

Serves four.

1 sheet puff pastry
4 slices havarti or provolone cheese
½ cup bread crumbs
4 (4-6oz) boneless, skinless salmon fillets
1 cup fresh spinach
¼ cup butter melted
1 tbsp. dried dill
1 tsp. minced garlic

Preheat the oven to 400° and line a cookie sheet with parchment. Unfold the puff pastry and cut it into quarters, gently roll each square out until it looks enough to wrap around your salmon fillets.

Place a slice of cheese in the middle of one of the pastry squares, sprinkle it with one quarter of the bread crumbs and place a piece of salmon on top of that, top with one quarter of the spinach. Bring the edges of the pastry up and pinch them together to form a tight seal, slash two vents in the top of the packet and place it on the parchment. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.

Mix the garlic and dill into the melted butter and brush half of it over the salmon packets. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the pastry is a nice golden brown color, remove from the oven and brush with the remaining dill butter, let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

40 Meatless Meals Guest Post: Parmesan Tilapia with Salt and Vinegar Fries

Guest Post by Mrs. N.

Boiling the potatoes in a mixture of vinegar and water gives them a very bright and sour flavor; you can play with the ratio of water to vinegar to find the flavor you like most, but I've found the ratio given to be a good starting point. If you want to make these during warmer weather without having to turn on the oven, you can just as easily cook them on the grill - just watch them carefully so they don't burn.

Parmesan Tilapia
Serves 4-6.
  • 1-1/2 lbs. tilapia fillets
  • 3 tbsp. dijon mustard
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp. milk
  • 1 cup panko crumbs
  • 2 tsp. dried dill
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan
Turn the oven on to 400 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment. In a shallow bowl whisk together the mustard, eggs and milk. In a separate dish combine the panko, dill and parmesan. Dip the tilapia in the egg mixture and then coat throughly in crumbs, space the fillets even apart on the cookie sheet and top them with any remaining crumb mixture. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the fish flakes easily, remove from the oven and let it rest for 5 minutes so that it holds together when you take it off the pan.

Salt and Vinegar Oven Fries
  • 3 lbs. red potatoes(or other waxy variety)
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • White vinegar
  • Water
  • Olive oil
  • Additional salt
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment. Slice the potatoes 1/4 inch thick and place them and 2 tsp. of salt in a pot. Cover the potatoes with a mixture of 2 parts water to 1 part vinegar and bring to a boil. Boil the potatoes for around 10 minutes or until they can be pierced with a fork but still give some resistance. Drain the potatoes thoroughly and spread in a single layer on the cookie sheet, brush both sides of the potato slices with olive oil and sprinkle the tops with salt. Bake for 20 minutes and then turn the oven to broil. Broil for around 5 minutes or until the tops of the potatoes are blistering and turning dark brown, flip the slices and broil for another five minutes, remove from the oven. Serve plain or with ketchup.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

40 Meatless Meals Guest Post: Roasted Garlic Soup

Guest Post by Mrs. N.

Cannellini beans are what takes this garlic soup from being a pleasant starter to a satisfying and nutritious main dish. To round out your meal add some crusty bread or toast for dipping and a nice green salad.

Serves 4 as a main dish; 6 as a side.
  • 3 heads of garlic
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 2 cans cannellini beans(or 3 cups cooked)
  • 1 quart vegetable stock
  • ½ tsp. black pepper
  • ½ tsp. salt(optional)
  • ½ cup grated parmesan
  • ½ cup whipping cream
  • Parmesan rinds(if you have them around)
Turn the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the top 1/2 inch off of two of the bulbs of garlic so that the tops of the cloves are exposed, drizzle each head with olive oil and wrap them individually in foil. Bake them for 45 to 60 minutes or until the cloves are soft and light brown, remove them from the oven and set aside to cool off.

In a medium stockpot start heating the vegetable stock with the pepper, salt (depending on how salty your stock is) and parmesan rinds. Peel the remaining head of garlic and add all the cloves to the stock. Rinse and drain the beans and add them to the pot, simmer until the garlic cloves are tender. You may need to add additional stock or water at this point depending on how much the beans absorb.

Fish the parmesan rinds out of the soup and discard them. Squish all of the cloves of roasted garlic out of their heads and add them to the soup along with the parmesan and whipping cream.
Puree the soup either in batches with a blender or in the pan with an immersion blender. At this point you can run it through a sieve to remove any remaining bits of bean if you have picky eaters. Otherwise dish it up and top each serving with some additional parmesan.

Monday, March 19, 2012

40 Meatless Meals Guest Post: Savory Crepes

I'm very excited to have some recipes this week from guest blogger Mrs. N. She's cooked up some fantastic meatless dinners to share with you! -T

Crepes stuffed with fresh ricotta cheese and veggies are surprisingly easy to make. You can use any vegetables you like, we've enjoyed fresh spinach, roasted asparagus, and roasted red peppers. If you're in a rush you can easily use pre-made ricotta, just warm it gently in the microwave before stuffing your crepes.

  • 2 large eggs
  • ¾ cups milk
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 cup flour
  • 3 tbsp. melted butter
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 tsp dried herbs or ¼ cup finely chopped fresh herbs
Whisk all crepe ingredients together, let rest for 30 minutes. Heat a small nonstick pan and coat lightly with butter. Pour 1/4 cup of batter into the pan and swirl to spread it around; cook for 30 seconds, flip and cook another 10 seconds. Continue until all the batter is used.

  • Ricotta (recipe below)
  • Veggies
  • 1 gallon whole milk
  • 1 pint cream
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
In a large pot, heat milk and cream to 190 degrees, stirring to keep the bottom from scorching. Once the milk mixture reaches 190°, slowly add the lemon juice. Stir until white curds separate and are floating in the yellow-ish whey. Pour curds and whey into a colander lined with 3-4 layers of cheesecloth. Let drain for several hours. Store cheese in an air-tight container. It will keep for up to two weeks.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

40 Meatless Meals: Stacked Roasted Vegetable Enchiladas

Don't worry if you've never cooked with poblano before; they have a very mellow flavor. All of the heat in this dish comes from the salsa, so feel free to ramp that up if you like.

Serves 2-3.

1 poblano chile, cut into strips
2 red bell peppers, cut into strips
1 small sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 medium onion, halved and slivered
1 cup corn kernels, fresh or frozen
3 T olive oil
1½ tsp ground cumin
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 c salsa
2 oz baby spinach leaves (about 2 big handfuls)
5-6 corn tortillas
2½ cups shredded cheese
sour cream and thinly sliced scallions (green onions) for garnish, if desired

Preheat the oven to 425ºF.

Place poblanos, red bell peppers, sweet potato, and onion onto cookie sheet. Drizzle olive oil and sprinkle the cumin and minced garlic over top; toss to coat, and spread the vegetables evenly in the pan. Roast for 30–40 minutes, or until vegetables are tender and brown in spots. Stir every 10 minutes, and add the corn in the last 10–20 minutes. Remove pan from oven and reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F.

Grease a deep 8" or 9" square baking pan. Spread 1/4 cup of salsa into the bottom of the baking pan. Add a layer of tortilla pieces, top with 1/3 of the vegetables, a handful of spinach, and 1/3 of the cheese. Make a second layer of tortilla, salsa, vegetables, spinach, and cheese. Repeat this order once more; cover with aluminum foil.

Bake for 20 minutes with the foil and 10 without, until cheese is melted and everything is heated through. Rest for 5 minutes before serving with sour cream and scallions.

Friday, March 16, 2012

40 Meatless Meals: Fusilli With Spinach, Ricotta, and Raisins

I love this recipe for being very quick-and-easy, but still interesting enough to serve for company. The whole thing (including thawing spinach) only takes as long as cooking the pasta. I was inspired by Jen's account of eating pasta with golden raisins in Rome, and couldn't be more pleased with the recipe I turned up.

12 ounces fusilli pasta
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 10-ounce box box frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained, and squeezed of excess moisture
2 scallions, thinly sliced (1/3 cup)
1 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
kosher salt and black pepper
1 cup whole or part-skim ricotta
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts

Cook the pasta according to the package directions; drain.

While the pasta is cooking, combine the olive oil, spinach, scallions, raisins, basil, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper in a large bowl. Toss with the pasta to combine. Fold in the ricotta, balsamic vinegar, Parmesan, and pine nuts.

Notes: In the past, I've substituted a healthy splash of cream for the ricotta, and cashews for the pignoli, so go ahead and work with what you have; The main interplay of flavors is between the raisins, spinach, and vinegar. If you use a kitchen scissor to slice the basil and scallions right into the bowl, you can save on dishes, too.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

40 Meatless Meals: Swiss Chard Tart

1 pizza crust, unbaked
2 T olive oil
1 shallot or red onion, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 heads swiss chard, thinly sliced
1/4 cup golden raisins
1 cup grated mozarella cheese

Preheat oven to 420. Spread crust in pan.

In a dutch oven or large stockpot, Sautee shallot in olive oil until tender. Add garlic, heat through. Reduce heat, add swiss chard, and cover for 5 minutes or until chard is slightly wilted. Fold in raisins. Season to taste.

Spread chard mixture over crust and bake 15 minutes. Top with cheese and bake until bubbly.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

40 Meatless Meals: Clamtastic Casserole

All the great taste of stuffed clams- with no shells! Clam casserole with pasta (skip the bacon).

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

40 Meatless Meals: Pistachio or Arugula Pesto

I first tasted pistachio pesto in Sicily, and quickly became a fan of its bright green patina. The creamy cashew tempers the pepper bite of arugula pesto.

Pistachio Pesto
1/4 cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic
3/4 cup shelled pistachios
1 1/2 cups fresh mint leaves

Arugula Pesto
1/4 cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic
1/2 cup cashews
1 1/2 cups baby arugula

Cooked pasta

With a food presser or mortar and pestle, crush garlic into olive oil. Work in nuts until a rough paste forms. Work in leaves until desired consistency is reached. Toss with fresh pasta.

Serves 4-6

Monday, March 12, 2012

40 Meatless Meals: Gratin of White Asparagus

Asparagus is one of the very first signs of new life in the spring, coming into season as early as March. Enjoy this asparagus gratin to celebrate the passing of winter.

  • 4½ T unsalted butter, melted
  • 15 white asparagus spears
  • small bunch of lemon thyme, leaves only
  • generous 3/4 cup crème fraîche*
  • 1 T Dijon mustard
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup fresh white bread crumbs
  • 3½ ounces Parmesan, freshly grated
  • 2 tbsp minced curly parsley
Preheat the oven to 450°. Brush a copper or ceramic gratin dish with a little of the melted butter.

Trim the ends of the asparagus, slice the spears in half lengthwise, and lay them in the buttered gratin dish. Sprinkle with most of the lemon thyme leaves, saving a few for garnish.

Put the crème fraîche and mustard into a heavy pan and place over medium heat. Stir to combine and bring to a simmer, then turn down the heat slightly and let bubble to reduce by about a quarter. Season the reduced mixture with salt and pepper to taste.

Put the bread crumbs in a bowl, add the Parmesan, parsley, and some pepper, and toss with your fingers to combine.

Pour the crème fraîche over the asparagus, then scatter the crumb mixture on top, distributing it evenly. Drizzle with the rest of the melted butter. Bake the gratin on the middle shelf of the oven until the top is crisp and golden and the cream bubbles up around the sides of the dish, 15 to 20 minutes. Sprinkle with the remaining thyme leaves and serve. Be careful not to overcook—the asparagus should still have a bit of a bite.

*Note: For homemade crème fraîche, combine four parts heavy cream with one part buttermilk (~1 1/3 c and 1/3 c, respectively) in a covered container and let it stand at a cool room temperature (65 to 70 degrees) for 24 to 36 hours, until it thickens and sours slightly. Stir it well and refrigerate.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

40 Meatless Meals: Macaroni with Leek Greens

Leek greens are often discarded as inedible, but they respond well to braising and other tenderizing cooking methods. Here, they lend flavor to an otherwise ordinary baked mac-and-cheese dish. This recipe comes from an article entitled "A Thrifty Cooks Guide to (Almost) Free Ingredients," including uses for carrot tops, and orange and potato peels. Do you have any favorite uses for otherwise-discarded foods?

(recipe source.)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 bunch leek greens (from 1½ pounds of leeks), thinly sliced
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups half-and-half or whole milk
  • 10 ounces shredded cheese (2½ cups)
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni
Preheat the oven to 350°. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet. Add the leeks and cook over high heat, stirring just until slightly wilted, 5 minutes; season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook over low heat until very tender, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Add the flour and cook over moderately high heat, whisking, for 2 minutes. Add the half-and-half and bring to a boil, whisking until thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat. Add 2 cups of the cheese, season with salt and pepper and whisk the cheese sauce until melted.

In a large saucepan of salted boiling water, cook the macaroni until nearly al dente. Drain well. Add the macaroni and the cheese sauce to the leek greens and stir until combined.

Transfer the macaroni to an 8-by-11-inch baking dish and sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese. Bake for about 40 minutes, until bubbling. Turn the broiler on and broil the mac and cheese until golden brown on top, about 3 minutes. Let stand before serving.

Friday, March 9, 2012

40 Meatless Meals: Farmhouse Vegetable Soup

Shown here with Basil Bread.

The mushrooms and soy sauce in this recipe combine in this recipe to lend a savoriness and body that is often lacking in vegetable-only soups. If you scrub the vegetables before paring, all of the peelings and ends (potatoes excepted) can be used for stock; keep a container close by as you do your chopping. I made a stock with only the scraps from this soup, half an onion, and a rather sad carrot, and it was one of the best stock pots I've ever put together. The leek greens can either go into the stock pot, or in tomorrow's macaroni and cheese.

With all of these lovely ingredients, I just couldn't resist a mise en place photo.

Source: Cooks Illustrated Nov & Dec 2011.
Serves 6-8.
  • ⅛ oz dried porcini mushrooms, ground into a fine meal
  • 8 sprigs fresh parsley plus 3 T chopped
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 T butter
  • 1½ lbs leeks, light parts only, sliced ½" thick and washed
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into ½" pieces
  • 2 ribs celery, cut into ¼" pieces
  • ⅓ c dry white wine
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 6 c water
  • 4 c vegetable broth
  • ½ c pearl barley
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
  • 1½ lbs gold potatoes, peeled and cut into ½" pieces
  • 1 turnip, peeled and cut into ¾" pieces
  • 1½ c chopped cabbage
  • 1 c frozen peas
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
Using kitchen twine, tie together parsley, thyme, and bay leaf. Melt butter in 6-quart or larger pot; add leeks, carrots, celery, wine, soy sauce, and 2 tsp salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until liquid has evaporated and celery is softened, about 10 minutes.

Add water, broth, barley, herb bundle, garlic, and porcini powder (reserve remaining for another use); increase heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, for 25 minutes.

Add potatoes, turnip, and cabbage; continue to simmer until tender and barley is cooked, 20 minutes.

Remove from heat and remove herb bundle. Stir in peas, lemon juice and remaining parsley; salt and pepper to taste.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

40 Meatless Meals: Herbed Stelline

Stelline, little star shaped soup pasta, make a fun entree.

12 oz stelline
2 T olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup fresh mint, parsley, or basil, finely chopped
salt and pepper

Prepare stelline according to package directions. Sautee garlic in olive oil. Toss in pasta and fresh herb. Season to taste.

Serves 4 as an entree, 6 as a side.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

40 Meatless Meals: Double Pumpkin Lasagna

Pumpkin noodles and sauce make for a hearty winter dinner.

Fresh pasta sheets, made with
2 cups flour
3 eggs
2 T canned pumpkin puree

Pumpkin Sauce
1 T butter
1 shallot, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
remainder of 16 oz can pumpkin puree
1/2 t salt
1 t parsley
1 t sage

2 cups ricotta cheese

1 1/2 cups mozarella cheese, grated, divided

Prepare 6 pasta sheets; trim to size of pan. Grease pan. Preheat oven to 375.

Sautee shallot in butter until tender. Stir in garlic. Fold in remaining ingredients.

Layer pasta-sauce-ricotta-grated cheese, reserving 1/2 cup cheese. End with pasta. Bake covered 40 minutes. Top with remaining cheese and bake 5 minutes, or until melted.

A 9x9 pan serves 4.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

40 Meatless Meals: Vegetarian Chili

This vegetarian chili harnesses some unlikely ingredients to beef it up without the beef. This probably qualifies as one of the best chili recipes I've made, meat or no.

Serves six to eight.

2 tablespoons oil
1½ cups chopped yellow onions
1 cup chopped red bell peppers
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 to 3 serrano peppers, stemmed, seeded and minced
1 medium zucchini, stem ends trimmed and cut into small dice
2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
1½ pounds portobello mushrooms (about 5 large), stemmed, wiped clean and cubed
2 T chili powder
1 T ground cumin
1¼ tsp salt
¼ teaspoon cayenne
4 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
3 cups cooked black beans (or 2 15-oz cans), rinsed and drained
1 (15-oz) can tomato sauce
1 cup vegetable stock or water

In a large pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions, bell peppers, garlic, and serrano peppers, and cook, until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the zucchini, corn, and mushrooms, and cook, stirring, until the vegetables give off their liquid and start to brown around the edges, about 6 minutes.

Add the chili powder, cumin, salt and cayenne, and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the tomatoes, black beans, tomato sauce and vegetable stock, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes.

Remove from the heat, and adjust the seasoning, to taste.

Monday, March 5, 2012

40 Meatless Meals: Arugula Pizza

1 pizza crust, unbaked
6 oz can tomato paste
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 each: parsley, basil, oregano
1 cup baby arugula
1 cup mozarella cheese, grated
1 T olive oil

Preheat oven to 420 degrees. Spread pizza dough on baking tray. In a small box, mix tomato paste, garlic, and herbs; spread evenly over crust. Bake 15 minutes. Sprinkle arugula and cheese over top. Bake 2 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly. Drizzle with olive oil.

Serves 4-6.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

40 Meatless Meals: Spinach Stuffed Mushrooms

Mushrooms are full of savory flavor compounds, and lend a satisfying taste to meatless dishes. Stuffed mushrooms are traditionally served as an hors d'oeuvre, but paired with a salad and rice or other cooked grain, serve handily as a main dish as well.

Serves 4-5.

• 24 ounces Mushrooms
• 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
• 1 Tablespoon Butter
• 1 whole Medium Onion, Diced
• ½ cups Panko Breadcrumbs
• 8 ounces Cream Cheese, softened
• ⅓ cups Sour Cream
• ½ cups Grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese
• ½ cups Grated Monterey Jack
• 1 package frozen chopped Spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
• Salt, Black Pepper, and Hot Sauce to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Wash, dry, and stem mushrooms. Chop the stems finely. Heat olive oil and butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and chopped mushrooms stems and saute for several minutes, or until soft and starting to turn golden. Add panko crumbs, salt, and pepper. Stir and continue cooking for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, add softened cream cheese, sour cream, grated cheeses, and the cooled mushroom/onion/panko mixture. Fold together to combine. Add spinach, a dash of salt, a little pepper, and hot sauce to taste. Fold together until combined.

Using a spoon, mound the mixture into the stemmed mushroom caps. Use the spoon to round the mixture on top. Place on a baking sheet or in a baking dish and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the mushrooms are cooked and the filling is hot.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Why Old Habits Die Hard

This is about the time in Lent when I first fall off the bandwagon in some way (case in point, I moved the markers in my Breviary from Tuesday this morning). Lent can be a great time to start forming new habits, but sticking with them long enough to make them old habits is always a trick. Which is why I found this NYT article on the science of habit forming intriguing.
The process within our brains that creates habits is a three-step loop. First, there is a cue, a trigger that tells your brain to go into automatic mode and which habit to use. Then there is the routine, which can be physical or mental or emotional. Finally, there is a reward, which helps your brain figure out if this particular loop is worth remembering for the future. Over time, this loop — cue, routine, reward; cue, routine, reward — becomes more and more automatic. The cue and reward become neurologically intertwined until a sense of craving emerges. What’s unique about cues and rewards, however, is how subtle they can be. ...

Habits aren’t destiny — they can be ignored, changed or replaced. But it’s also true that once the loop is established and a habit emerges, your brain stops fully participating in decision-making. So unless you deliberately fight a habit — unless you find new cues and rewards — the old pattern will unfold automatically.

The article is framed by information about how retailers use this science in marketing (interesting in its own right). I'll be looking for the loop pattern in my own habits, though, and hopefully it will be a bit of help as I work to form some and break others.

40 Meatless Meals: Salmon Rice Salad

This salmon rice salad is an American version of the tuna and olives classic I enjoyed while a student in Rome. It is pleasant at room temperature or warm.

6 T olive oil
2-3 T lemon juice
1/t parsley
1 1/2 cups rice, prepared
1 can salmon, drained and broken into chunks (skin and bones removed)
2 cups frozen corn, heated through
1/2 cup roasted red bell peppers, diced
salt and pepper

In a large bowl, whisk lemon juice into olive oil. Gently fold in next five ingredients. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serves 4.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

St. David's Day

It has just come to my attention that today's recipe is particularly apt, given that today is St. David's Day. Unless, of course, you'd rather wear your leeks today. In that case, go ahead and make the tart out of them tomorrow.

40 Meatless Meals: Mushroom Leek Galette

This recipe is perfect for this transitional time of year. The toastiness of the baked whole wheat crust is cozy for still-wintry days, but the brightness of the filling hints at the coming spring. The crust method here is a little unorthodox, almost a quick-and-dirty puff pastry. This allows the crust to be flaky, yet durable enough for a free-form tart, and whole-wheat without becoming tough.

Source: Cooks Illustrated Jan & Feb 2012
Serves 4-6.

  • 1¼ cups (6¼ oz) all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup (2¼ oz) whole-wheat flour
  • 1 T sugar
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 10 T cold unsalted butter, cut into ½" pices
  • 7 T ice water
  • 1 tsp white vinegar
  • 1 pound shiitake mushrooms (or a combination shiitake and baby bella), sliced thin
  • 5 tsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 lb leeks, light-colored parts only, sliced ½" thick and washed
  • 1 tsp minced fresh thyme
  • 2 T crème fraîche or sour cream
  • 1 T Dijon mustard
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 oz (¾ c) Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 T minced fresh parsley
Combine flours, sugar, and salt in bowl or food processor. Add butter and process or use pastry blender until it forms pea-sized pieces. Sprinkle water and vinegar over mixture. Fold together until it forms a loose, shaggy mass, with some dry flour remaining. Transfer to a large square of plastic wrap and wrap tightly, pressing into a 4" square. Refrigerate 45 minutes.

Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface. Roll into an 11"x8" rectangle (hint: have a sheet of paper nearby to help you estimate the size). Fold in thirds like a letter, using a bench scraper if needed. Turn dough 90 degrees and repeat. Turn once more and repeat. After this last fold, fold dough in half, forming a 4" square. Press top of dough to seal fold. Rewrap in plastic and chill for 45 minutes (up to 2 days).

Place mushrooms in covered bowl and microwave until tender, 3-5 minutes. Drain and return to bowl. Meanwhile, heat 1T oil in a large skillet over medium heat; add leeks and thyme, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until leeks are tender and begin to brown, 5-7 mins. Transfer to bowl with mushrooms. Stir in crème fraîche and mustard. Salt and pepper to taste.

Place pizza stone (optional) on lower-middle oven rack and heat oven to 400º. Let dough stand at room temperature 15 minutes. Roll out on generously floured surface to a 14" circle. Transfer to parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush top of dough with 1 tsp oil. Spread half of filling over dough, leaving 2" border; sprinkle with half of Gorgonzola; repeat layers. Drizzle 1 tsp oil over filling. Fold edges of dough up over filling, working in sections and pressing gently to seal folds. Brush dough with egg and sprinkle with salt.

Lower oven temp to 375º. Bake until crust is deep golden brown and filling begins to brown, 35-45 minutes. Remove from oven; cool on a baking rack for 10 minutes. Transfer to cutting board, sprinkle with parsley, and serve.

The Holy Father's Prayer Intentions for March, 2012

General Intention: Contribution of Women. That the whole world may recognize the contribution of women to the development of society.

Missionary Intention: Persecuted Christians. That the Holy Spirit may grant perseverance to those who suffer discrimination, persecution, or death for the name of Christ, particularly in Asia.

O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer You all my prayers, works, joys and sufferings of this day for all the intentions of Your Sacred Heart, in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world, in reparation for my sins, for the intentions of all our associates, and in particular for the intentions of the Holy Father for this month. Amen.