Posts Tagged ‘vegetarian’

Post 11/13 – Oven Roasted Butternut Squash

January 16, 2012 2 comments

This summer, Matt and I tried our hand at raised bed gardening.  We were fairly successful with some vegetables:  butternut squash, zucchini, radishes, lettuce, sweet potatoes, tomatillos, and tomatoes.  We were not so successful with green beans, yellow crookneck squash, and cucumbers.  Thank goodness for local farmer’s markets! 

Butternut squash was probably the most rewarding vegetable we grew.  They matured faster than expected.  The vines lasted a long time.  We had a few separate harvests with good yields!  We still have some.  It’s one of our favorites, and it’s even better home-grown.

One night via Facebook, my friend Shelli asked me for butternut squash recipes.  I gave her a few ideas:  butternut and sage lasagna, butternut ravioli, and a butternut soup.  She said these suggestions sounded good, but she wanted something fast since it was a week night.  So I responded with my quick and easy roasted butternut squash recipe. 

Oven Roasted Butternut Squash

1-3 Butternut squash, cut into ¼”-1” chunks/cubes

1-4 tablespoons olive oil

Kosher Salt

Pepper (black and/or cayenne)

Optional seasoning:  cumin, Aleppo pepper, and chipotle pepper

Optional veggies:  golden beets, sweet potatoes, onions, potatoes, parsnips, and carrots

Preheat your oven and a cookie sheet with a lip (sheet pan or jelly roll pan) covered in foil (this makes clean up much easier) to 450º degrees F.  While preheating the oven and the cookie sheet, prepare your butternut squash (and any other vegetable you want to roast, like golden beets, sweet potatoes, onions, potatoes, parsnips, and carrots).  You can also add chopped garlic, but wait until the end to add it or it might burn.

Butternut squash can have a tough peel that makes them a little difficult to prep.  To me, the easiest way is to use a sharp chef’s knife to cut off the stem end and the bottom end.  This makes it more stable.  You can rest it on towel-covered cutting board and then use a vegetable peeler to remove the peel.  It seems easier to peel top to bottom before you cut it.  Remove the peel and cut off the neck.  Then, slice the bottom lengthwise.  Use a large, study spoon or an ice cream scoop to remove the seeds.  It’s like cleaning a pumpkin for a jack-o-lantern, but not as messy.  Slice it into half moons and then cut them into chunks/cubes.  You probably want the chunks about ¼” to 1” and relatively the same size.  Unless you are like me and you like some pieces tender and some crispy, then cut some pieces 1” and others about 1/4”.

Place the squash chunks in a mixing bowl.  Pour in a little olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper (I like Penzeys’ Black and Red pepper blend), and any other spices you might like (especially cumin or chipotle pepper).

Carefully spread it evenly on the hot cookie sheet.  It should sizzle a bit.  Check every 15 minutes and stir.  Roast until it gets tender and has a nice color.  The cooking time depends on your oven, the temperature of the cookie sheet when you start, and how many vegetables you are cooking.  Keep checking.  It should probably take about 30-40 minutes, depending on how crispy you like it.    

Post 7/13 – Tuscan White Bean Dip

January 12, 2012 2 comments

Yahoo, halfway through the Baker’s Dozen Blitz of Posts!  Thought I’d share one of our favorite dips.  Not sure if this is really Tuscan, but it is Tuscan inspired.  We had similar flavors on our recent Italian honeymoon (rosemary, garlic, and lemon – yum!). One of these days, I’ll post some photos from our trip.  We took lots of photos!!  Once I can figure them out, I’ll also post some recipes from our trip. Trying to re-create the flavors  is challenging, but the experiments are fun. Back to the “bean dip,” guess it doesn’t really matter what it’s called, I just know it is delicious and is an easy-to-make alternative to traditional hummus. 

 Tuscan White Bean Dip

 ¼ cup olive oil

1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, coarsely chopped (stems removed)

2 cloves garlic, sliced

19 ounce can of cannellini beans, rinsed and drained*

½ cup almonds, lightly toasted (slivered, sliced, or chopped; raw would also work, but I like the added flavor from the toasting)

1 teaspoon Kosher salt

¾ teaspoon black pepper

½ lemon (both the juice and the zest)

¼ cup hot water, as needed


Optional Garnishes:

almonds, sprinkle of lemon zest, drizzle of  olive oil, sprig of fresh rosemary


Infuse the olive oil with the rosemary and garlic: combine the olive oil, rosemary, and garlic in a glass microwave-safe container and heat in the microwave for about 30 seconds (stop every 10 seconds to check for burning).  You can also do it in a small pan on the stove on low heat for about 5 minutes.   While you are preparing the rest of the ingredients, let the mixture sit for about 5 to 10 minutes.  Then, use a strainer or a spoon to remove some of the rosemary (it can get bitter).  I like rosemary, but sometimes it can be overwhelming.   You can also remove the garlic if that is your preference.  But I love the extra garlic flavor.  I’ve been known to add even more garlic. Remove what you want, leave what you want, it’s your dip!

In a food processor, combine the beans, almonds, salt, pepper, lemon juice, lemon zest, and the rosemary garlic infused olive oil. Pulse until the ingredients come together.  If it is too thick, add some hot water (start with a tablespoon).  Pulse the mixture a few more time.  Add a bit more water if needed. Taste and adjust the seasonings as needed (might need a bit more lemon juice, salt, or pepper).  Process until the mixture is thick but still has some texture and is spreadable and dipable (I’m making up more words).  If you want it more like traditional hummus, you can process it until it is a creamy purée.   Keep in the refrigerator but serve at room temperature.  Great on sandwiches or served with pita, crackers, or raw veggies!


*A note about cannellini beans.  Cannellini beans are an Italian white bean, sometimes known as white kidney beans.  You can buy them canned or dried.  I typically use canned, because this is such a quick snack to whip up for company, they are easier.  However, using dried beans that I soaked and cooked myself would probably be better.  I know my hummus is better when I used freshly cooked garbanzo beans.  If you can’t find cannellini beans, you can substitute navy beans or great northern beans.  They are easier to find and less expensive.  And truthfully, they might work better since their texture tends to be drier.  Last time I made this recipe, the cannellini beans were a little too moist and the dip was a bit soupy (had to adjust by adding more almonds).  Yep, I have my fair share of  mess ups!


Thanks to Matt for the photo.  The pottery in the photo is from our friend Diane Walls, an awesome artist in Huntsville (





Post 5/13 – Cheese Soufflé with Spinach

January 10, 2012 6 comments

Today Matt and I are celebrating our second wedding anniversary.  It’s been an adventure so far. Glad I married a man who likes to cook almost as much as I do.  For New Year’s Eve, we cooked dinner together…he made individual Cheese Soufflés with Spinach and I made the Panettone French Toast from a recent post.  The meal was awesome but the best part was hanging out together.  Wow, that sounds kinda goofy, but it’s true. 

This was Matt’s first time making a soufflé and it was great!  He wasn’t sure about baking them in individual ramekins, but it worked. They could’ve been a bit poofier (Is this a word?).  Maybe using three ramekins instead of four would’ve  made them
taller. Either way, poofy or not so poofy, they were good!

Possible variations:  Using aged yellow Cheddar instead of the extra sharp white Cheddar.  A pinch of dried mustard powder might be a nice addition.  Also, I wonder if it would work with chopped broccoli instead of the spinach?  The broccoli might be too heavy and the result might be more like a frittata.  Bet it would still be good.  I might try this one day, when it’s just us and not company.  After reading the draft, Matt mentioned maybe using Gruyère and caramelized onions instead of Cheddar and Spinach.  Many possibilities.

Here’s the recipe…

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 cup hot milk

½ teaspoon Kosher salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (or use ½ teaspoon Penzeys’ Black & Red instead of the cayenne and black pepper)

¼ teaspoon of nutmeg

4 extra-large egg yolks, at room-temperature*

½ cup grated extra sharp white Cheddar

1 package frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry

5 extra-large egg whites, at room temperature*

⅛ teaspoon cream of tartar

For greasing the dish(es):

Unsalted butter and freshly grated Parmesan (quantities deepened on how many ramekins you use.)

Preheat the oven to 400º degrees F.  Liberally butter the inside of a 6 to 8-cup soufflé dish (or 3 to 4 10-ounce ramekins) and sprinkle the bottom and sides evenly with Parmesan.  This step is important, otherwise…the cheese gives the soufflé something to cling to as it rises and it makes it easier to clean.

Make the white sauce base…melt the butter in a medium saucepan over low heat.  Use a wire whisk and stir in the flour.  Cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes.  Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the hot milk, ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon black pepper, cayenne, and nutmeg.  Cook over low heat, stirring constantly for 1 minute.

Off the heat, while still hot, whisk in the egg yolks, one at a time.  Stir in the Cheddar, ¼ cup of Parmesan, and the spinach.  Transfer this mixture to a large bowl (one that is not hot).

Using an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment beat the egg whites, cream of tartar, and a pinch of salt.  Beat on low for 1 minute, increase to medium and beat 1 minute, then beat on high until you get firm, glossy peaks (another 2-3 minutes).

Stir about a quarter of the egg whites into the cheese mixture.  This will lighten the mixture and make folding in the remaining egg whites easier.  Slowly and carefully, fold in the rest of the egg whites.  This is where patience pays off.  Use care when folding the mixture or you could deflate it.  Pour into the soufflé dish(es), smooth the top, and then use a spatula or spoon to draw circle on top, this helps it rise evenly.  Carefully place it on the middle rack of the oven.  Close the oven door and then turn the temperature down to 375º degrees F.  Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until poofy and golden brown.  This is not a time to use the Katie Cookie Technique to open the oven, whack the sheet.  Keep the oven closed, you can peek through the window.  It is pretty cool to watch it get poofy.  Serve it immediately.  Refrigerate any leftovers.  They are good the next day for breakfast (even cold or you can heat it up).  The texture isn’t quite the same but it still tastes great.

*The eggs must be at room temperature.  It usually takes several hours to bring them to the right temperature (sometimes overnight).  If the eggs are cold and you are ready to make the dish, you can quickly bring them up to temperature by putting the whole eggs (shells included) in a bowl and pour hot water over them.  They usually warm quickly, in about 10 minutes.


Post 3/13 – Indian Lentils and Rice

January 8, 2012 4 comments

This is my go-to meal of choice.  It is similar to an Indian spicy and savory pongal.  It is quick, economical, healthy, tasty, and versatile!  It can be vegan, and it freezes well.  All in all, one of our favorite dishes at the Smith-Jordan house.  A few notes:

Fresh Curry Leaves: The recipe calls for fresh curry leaves, they are important to the dish.  However, you probably don’t have fresh curry leaves in your refrigerator.  Luckily, you can find them at your local Indian or Asian market.  They are typically stored in the refrigerated section.  It is best to keep them refrigerated, since they tend to oxidize and turn black.  They will stay fresh in the refrigerator for about 5 days if left on the stem.  The bags of leaves can be large, so I usually freeze the leftover leaves (removed from the stem) in a re-sealable plastic bag.  They aren’t quite as pungent when thawed, but they maintain their unique flavor that is essential to the dish.  

Curry powder:  It does not come from curry leaves.  Curry powder is actually a generic term for a blend of several different spices.  My former boss ( I miss her) told me that families in India each have their own unique blend.

Ghee:  Clarified butter, it is a staple in many Indian recipes.  You can make your own or you can buy it.  Locally, Garden Cove and Earth Fare usually carry glass jars of organic clarified butter.  

Trivia time and random factoids are over, now time for the recipe…

 ½ cup red lentils (or yellow split peas (chana dal) or moong dal)

2 cups rice (basmati is more flavorful, but delicate, jasmine rice works well)

1 cup dried, unsweetened coconut (not sweetened baking coconut)

6 cups water

¼ cup ghee or oil (coconut, safflower, or any oil of your choice)

2 teaspoons mustard seeds

2 teaspoons cumin seeds

4-6 cloves of garlic, minced

¾ teaspoon turmeric (heaping)

1½ teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons black pepper, freshly ground (or you can use Black & Red from Penzeys)

12-16 fresh curry leaves, thinly sliced with a few left whole for garnish

pinch of cayenne pepper, optional

Optional garnishes: thinly sliced hot peppers. additional whole fresh curry leaves, plain yogurt, lime pickles, chopped cashews or almonds, golden raisins, or toasted coconut

If you use split peas or large lentils, cover with water, let soak for 20 minutes, and then rinse.  Rinse the rice in a strainer until the water runs clear. 

In a large saucepan, combine the lentils, rice, coconut, and water.  Cover, bring to a boil, stir a few times, then lower the heat, and simmer for 20 minutes until tender.

Meanwhile, while the rice is cooking, heat a small sauté pan on medium heat.  Toast the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, garlic, turmeric, salt, black pepper, peppers, and curry leaves in the ghee or oil.  Heat the mixture for about 2-5 minutes, until very aromatic.  Watch and stir frequently because it can burn quickly.  Set aside.  When rice/lentil mixture is cooked, gently stir in the spice mixture.  Sprinkle with chopped nuts, a few whole curry leaves, and it’s ready to serve.

Note:  It is delicious as it is, but I’ve been thinking about making a few changes…upping the lentil quantity to 1 full cup and increasing the water to 6½ cups.  I think the addition of more lentils might make it a heartier dish.  Also, I’m thinking about adding some grated ginger.  Not certain how the ginger would play with the curry leaves, so I might omit the curry leaves.  

Excuses, Excuses…

August 26, 2011 12 comments

Ok, it has been a while since my last post (actually, my first and only post).  There are tons of reasons:  1) health issues, 2) honeymoon trip planning (much more fun than #1), 3) writer’s block, and 4) a lack of confidence.  This last one is the biggie.

Health issues are improving and I am feeling better!  All of the flights and rooms are booked so the trip planning is going well.  Just have the little details of what to see, what to do, how to get there, left to plan.  Writer’s block has plagued me for years; I should be used to it by now.  I just gotta write something, anything, to get me started.  This post is my attempt to get over this latest block.

This leads me to “lack of confidence.”  I have many recipes to share, but I am worried that the recipes might not be foolproof enough to post.  Case in point – recently, I made cornbread when my in-laws were visiting.  I got a little too confident and didn’t measure everything.  Big mistake!  Thought I was running out of the corn meal mix, so I just poured all of it into the mixing bowl.  Figured I would get the ratio correct when I added the buttermilk.  Not so much.  Fail!  It tasted fine, but the texture was crumbly.  Having a fail from my own recipe, didn’t exactly boost my confidence.

I’ve also been concerned that my photography is not good enough.  So, I’ve used this as another rationalization not to post.  Well, we just got a new camera for our trip to Italy and I am optimistic that this excuse will not be an issue for very long.  Now, if I can just learn how to use the camera, I’ll be set! In the meantime, I will post what I can (with or without photographs).  I can always update posts after the fact.

Following are three recipes to make up for my lack of recent posts.  The first is my homage to summer – a “Magic” Blueberry Cobbler.  This recipe, originally from Good Morning America,  is also delicious with peaches (or blackberries, or even a combo of the three).  Berry season is over but if last night’s farmers market is any indication, peaches are still going strong here in Alabama.  The other two are my welcome to fall recipes (one can dream that fall will be here eventually) – Egyptian Style Red Lentil Soup and an Egyptian Style Salad Dressing.  Last week’s cooler weather made me think about soup.  This is an excellent and versatile soup; it can be vegetarian, vegan, or made with stock.  In addition, it is relatively quick to make since it does not need to simmer all day. It is great for not heating up the kitchen while we are waiting patiently for fall!  The salad dressing makes a nice accompaniment, perfect on a simple green salad.

Magic Blueberry Cobbler:
5 cups fresh blueberries (works with frozen berries too, you can also substitute peaches or blackberries for half of the blueberries)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (I probably used a little more)
¼ teaspoon ground mace (optional, I used cinnamon)
3 cups sugar (I used less sugar)
1 cup whole milk (I have used ½ & ½ with a little water)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
½ teaspoon vanilla extract (or a little more)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1½ cups boiling water

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Spread the blueberries in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.  Drizzle the lemon juice over the berries and set this aside.  In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, ½ teaspoon of the salt, the nutmeg, mace (or cinnamon), 1½ cups of the sugar, the milk, butter, and vanilla.  Spoon over the berries and spread in an even layer.

In a small bowl, combine the remaining 1½ cups sugar, the remaining ½ teaspoon salt, and the cornstarch.  Sprinkle this mixture over the batter.  Pour the boiling water evenly over the top of the cobbler.  Poke a few holes down in the batter with the handle of a wooden spoon.  Bake for 1 hour or until bubbly, golden brown and shiny.  Serve warm or at room temperature (I like it cold for breakfast!).

Egyptian Style Red Lentil Soup:
2 cups chopped onions
10 cloves garlic, peeled, roughly chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 carrots, chopped
1-1½ cups chopped potatoes (about 1 large potato)
5 cups water (or vegetable broth or chicken stock)
1 cup dried red lentils
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 teaspoons ground cumin
½ teaspoon turmeric
¼ teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon salt
Pinch of hot chili flakes, cayenne, or Aleppo pepper (optional)
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Salt and pepper

In a large pot or Dutch oven, sauté the onions, celery, and garlic in oil.  Add the carrots, potatoes, lentils, and water. Cover and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat and simmer 15-20 minutes or until the lentils and vegetables are tender. Take pot off the heat or turn it to very low.

In a separate, small saucepan, add the canola oil and warm over low heat until the oil is hot but not smoking.  Add the cumin, turmeric, coriander, salt, and chili flakes; cook and stir constantly for 2-3 minutes or until the spices have released their fragrance (be careful not to burn the spices).  Set spice mixture aside for a few minutes to cool.

Stir spice mixture into the lentil mixture and then add the cilantro.  You can purée the soup, in batches, in a blender or you can use an immersion blender and blend to a desired texture (I like to leave it a little chunky).  Add the fresh lemon juice and stir to combine.  Re-warm soup and season with more salt/pepper, if you want.  Serve with lemon wedges and Greek low-fat yogurt.

Egyptian Style Salad Dressing:
¼ cup oil (canola, sunflower, olive oil, or your choice of oils)
¼ cup lemon juice (can also substitute lime if that’s what you have)
1 tablespoon vinegar (white or apple cider or a combination)
4-5 garlic cloves, crushed
¼ teaspoon salt (or to taste)
¼ teaspoon black pepper (or to taste)
Pinch of cumin
Pinch of hot chili flakes, cayenne, or Aleppo pepper (optional)

Mix ingredients.  Serve over a green salad or tomato/cucumber/onion/parsley chopped salad.