Tag Archives: vegetable

My Holiday Dinner Must-Have

Several years ago I tried out Tyler Florence’s Green Bean Casserole and have made it during the holidays every year since.  The cremini mushrooms are sauteed with minced shallot and garlic, then made into a cream sauce, the blanched green beans are added to it and it’s all poured into a baking dish, which is then topped with parmesan and homemade croutons and it’s all baked and ready for indulging.

If you’re still making Green Bean Casserole with a can of Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup and a can of green beans, shame on you I’m here to help.  Although I think that classic casserole is enjoyable because it takes me back to my childhood, reminds me of my grandma, is so easy to make, and pretty good with lots of those crunchy french onions on top, I thought I’d share my ‘MUST-have’ for the holiday dinner.

This year for turkey day we will be out of town, but I’m still going to make my favorite casserole, and a dessert (of course!).  I’m pretty excited for all of the holiday fun, so I cooked this up for part of our dinner last weekend.

The recipe is here, I make it pretty much the same.  I do love to use creminis and one big portabella for this, and simply using just fresh thyme to herb it up works well.  I add in a few minced garlic cloves when sauteing the shallots.  The cream sauce can sometimes be a bit thin, so be sure to simmer for 5-7 min. once the cream is poured in.  Only bake the croutons for ten minutes, or just until they’re starting to turn golden since they’ll toast up more later when baking.

My food photography really doesn’t do this delicious dish justice as the pics were taken indoors and at night, but (in my opinion) the holiday dinner table just isn’t complete without it. =)


It was great with the Elk Steak that Will grilled up and the acorn squash that I baked with butter and brown sugar.

The only bad thing about this casserole– it is very likely that you will already be filled up on half of a pan of warm yummy croutons before the dish ever hits the table!

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Courgette Favorites :: Fried Zucchini

Can I think of any more not-so-nourishing ways to eat this vegetable??  Well probably, but we won’t go there for now.  My mom always made fried zucchini when I was growing up and I love it.  I don’t deep fry it, and neither did she, but we do a bread crumb coating and pan fry it.  They’re so good as a part of dinner or a little appetizer.  I made a lot of them last night and they’re pretty darn good the next day as a leftover snack too.

::Fried Zucchini::
1 c. flour
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 c. bread crumbs
1 or 2 large zucchini, 1/2″ thick slices
optional:
1/4 c. grated parmesan

With three bowls set out, fill one with the flour, one with two eggs, and one with bread crumbs (and parm if using).  Season the flour or the bread crumbs with s + p.

Roll each slice in flour, then eggs, then bread crumbs, and set on a baking sheet or plate.  Heat a large saute pan (non-stick, cast iron, or stainless) over medium heat, coating the pan with about 1/4″ of olive oil/vegetable oil.  When oil is hot and a pinch of bread crumbs gives a good sizzle, set the coated zucchini in the pan.  Don’t over crowd the pan, cook them in two batches if you have a lot.  Let sizzle and brown, about 5-ish min. on each side.  Only turn over once.  Line the same baking sheet or plate with paper towels and set fried zucchini on it to cool.  Each slice is done when it’s golden brown on each side, and if you press on the center a little and it’ll give.

Tips:
–Use one hand for rolling the slices in the dry ingredients and the other for the wet egg layer, to minimize fingertip clumpage.
–1/2″ thick slices work best, firm on the outside and tender in the middle.
–When removing from pan and setting on paper towels, set the recently-cooked-side down, rather than turning over, so that the oil doesn’t soak back into the zucchini, but runs down into the paper towel.

These are served best with a little marinara or some aioli, but also just right without any dressing.  Cheers!

Courgette Favorites :: Stuffed Squash Blossoms


Carrying on with the zucchini theme in the kitchen, I must share one of my absolute favorite things to do with the garden goods, specifically the blossoms from the squash plants.  They’re not the healthiest little treats to make with your garden produce, but a treat indeed, and a good use for the blossoms.

I pluck my squash blossoms and when I have at least a dozen good ones, I fill them with a ricotta-mozzerella cheesy goodness, roll them in flour, egg, and bread crumbs, and pan fry them.  If you have zucchini blossoms in your garden and never end up eating them, and stumble upon this blog post, you’ve got to try it!  They’re even better with a little marinara to dip them in, but I usually am so eager to eat them I don’t bother with heating up the sauce.  =)



::Stuffed Squash Blossoms::

1/2 c. cream cheese, softened
1 c. ricotta cheese
3/4 – 1 c. mozzarella, grated
1/4 c. parmesan, grated (optional)
1 egg yolk, (optional)
1 T. fresh basil, chopped
pinch of s+p

In a mixing bowl, beat together the cream cheese, ricotta, egg yolk, basil, s+p, and stir in the mozzarella and parmesan.  Use a pastry bag or a quart size ziplock bag, folding the top of the bag over your fingers and spoon in the cheese filling.  Cut the point off the ziplock to squeeze the filling into the blossoms.  (The cheese filling can be any combination of cheeses you like, even using just ricotta and mozzarella works well).

Carefully hold the blossom and pry it open on one end, squeeze the cheese into the blossom.  Have three bowls ready, one with flour, one with 1-2 eggs lightly beaten eggs, and the other with bread crumbs.  (Can always add in a handful of grated parm in w/ the bread crumbs).

Toss the stuffed blossoms lightly in the flour, then the egg, then bread crumbs, one at a time.  When they’re all coated, set in a hot pan evenly coated with olive oil/canola oil.  Let sizzle and get golden brown on all sides, turning carefully every two-ish minutes.  Remove from pan when golden and crisped on all sides.

Enjoy!  And let me know if you have made these before, or if you’re going to give it a try.  =)

Courgette Favorites :: Zucchini Angel Hair Pancake

I’ve been in a zucchini mood lately, which works out well since I’m getting a bit of it from the garden and farmer’s market.  We enjoyed this dish last night for dinner, and though it’s a bit of work, it’s well worth it.  It’s a fun, delicious, Italian dish. I’ve made Zucchini Potato Pancakes before, and those are great as a side in your dinner but this big pancake with angel hair pasta serves well as a main course, and makes really good leftovers.  This recipe was in a Cooking Light magazine I was flipping through while getting my hair done last week.  So I went home, looked it up online and whipped up one big pancake.  =)

The only things I switched up in the recipe was the 1/3 c. flour that is called for, I replaced with 1/4 c. bread crumbs and 1/4 c. flour, and only did a little pinch of baking powder, and did more parmesan.  I also should have used my nonstick skillet but used the stainless saute pan, and rather than flipping it I cooked it til brown and crisp on the bottom then finished it in the oven at 450 for 20-25 min.
Well the food photography was done indoors and at night, so the pics don’t make it look as appetizing and delicious as it was, but this with a little green salad really is perfect!  YUM!  =)

Roasted Potato Leek Soup

I made this soup the other night with our potatoes from the garden, so I can freeze it and have it to pull out for dinner on those chilly winter nights to come.  I’m not so sure any of it is going to make it to the freezer.  Can’t. Stop. Eating. It.  Even with the weather so warm right now, and usually I don’t care for hot soup in the summer, I’ve been enjoying it for lunch and dinner.

So comforting, soothing, heartwarming, creamy, and flavorful.  I basically did Ina Garten’s recipe from my cookbook, Back to Basics, and changed it up a little.



The roasted potatoes and leeks, sauteed shallot and garlic, white wine, chicken broth, parmesan, whole milk, parmesan, and a sprinkling of thyme and parsley all make for the best flavor!  Really, if you plan on making potato soup sometime soon, you’ve got to cook this one up!

::Roasted Potato Leek Soup::

3-4 lbs potatoes, cut in 3/4″ cubes (ideally yukon golds, but I used russets and reds from our garden)
3 leeks, cleaned and chopped
1/3 c. olive oil
Spread the potatoes and leeks out in a single layer on 3 baking sheets, drizzle well with olive oil and s+p and toss.  Roast at 400 F for 35-40 min.

3-4 T olive oil
2 shallots, chopped
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 c. dry white wine
2 qts. chicken broth
4-6 c. whole milk
4 T. parmesan, grated

In a large stockpot heat the olive oil, add in shallots, then garlic and saute til a few min., then toss in two sheet pans of the roasted veg, setting aside the third pan for later.  Saute only a couple min., pour in white wine and let cook a few min.  Add about 1 qt of broth (enough to make it thin enough to puree).  Use an immersion blender to puree the mixture in the pot (or puree batches of it in a food processor).  After it’s all pureed in the pot, heat back up, add in 4-6 c. whole milk (or cream), parmesan, and sprinkle in 1 T. fresh or dried thyme, fresh parsley, and s+p to taste.  Do not let it get to a full boil, but a gentle simmer.  Add in the last baking sheet of roasted potatoes and leeks to the pureed soup, stir up and enjoy! 

We have now pulled out all of our potatoes from the garden, I think I will make another pot of this to have more to freeze.  It is so nice to have homemade soup in the freezer on those winter evenings where soup just sounds perfect, or those weeknights that you just don’t feel like cooking.  =)

Dilly Beans

Well I had a full day of work today, made 2 Chocolate Hazelnut Tortes, a Ricotta Tart in an Almond Crust, 2 Lemon Olive Oil Poundcakes, one New York Cheesecake, a Tiramisu, some Tuille cookies, Flathead Cherry Sauce (for the cheesecake of course), and a Rhubarb Compote for the tart.  Whew!  I will post recipes for a couple of those lovely sweet treats soon.  But for now I wanted to tell you about the Dilly Beans I made and canned a few days ago.

Last week Will was working in WA and visited the produce farms in the area.  He brought home a large bag of green beans, among some other great fresh produce. 🙂  So I figured this was my opportunity to make Dilly Beans for first time and can them.

I ended up with six pint jars of canned beans and gave two to my mom.  I like them a lot, they are very dilly and very good.  If you like pickles or pickled asparagus, you’ll love these.  Perfect to snack on, have as an appetizer, or even part of a meal.  I put a couple in my sandwich since I didn’t have pickles!

The recipe is from my cousin, Nichole, over at Born in the Wrong Century.  It can also be found in one of my favorite books, Williams-Sonoma The Art of Preserving.  Nichole recommended it to me a year ago and I’m so glad I got it.


It is chock-full of beautiful photos, great recipes, and helpful instructions on canning.  If you love to cook, and enjoy canning also, this is a great book to add to your collection!  Very inspirational during the summer months, but can be used all year long.

::Dilly Beans::
(Compliments of Nichole)

(Yield – 6 pints)
3 cups white vinegar, 5% acidity
6 Tbsp kosher salt
3 cups filtered water
6 fresh dill heads (or 6 Tbsp dill seeds & 6 fresh dill sprigs)
Cayenne pepper
Yellow mustard seed
6 cloves garlic
4 lb green beans

In a sauce pan combine vinegar, salt and water. Bring to a boil to dissolve salt.

Meanwhile, place the following in each sterile, hot pint jar: 1 dill head (or 1 Tbsp seeds & 4 sprigs), 1/8 tsp cayenne, 1/8 tsp mustard seed and 1 clove garlic. Trim the beans so they are 1/2 inch shorter than the pint jar. Pack the beans as tight as possible into the jars.

Ladle the hot brine into the jars leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Use a chopstick to remove any air bubbles and add more brine if necessary. Wipe the rims and seal. Process the jars for 15 minutes (for 5k’ elevation) in a hot water bath. Let cool and check the seals.

I will add that I ended up making twice as much brine, I ran out while filling my jars! 🙂

Have you had, or made, Dilly Beans before?

Mom, you better pop open that jar and enjoy!

🙂

Spinach, Beet, Goat Cheese Salad

I love goat cheese.  Even better, I love goat cheese with beets, orange segments, toasted almonds, in a light and fresh spinach or butterhead lettuce salad.  Perfect for summer.  This is one of my top three fav salads, very light and flavorful.  We have been enjoying spinach and lettuce from the garden and this is a great way to enjoy the fresh greens.

::Salad::
Butterhead Lettuce and/or Spinach
Goat cheese crumbles
Beets, roasted or boiled, cooled and diced
Toasted almonds
Orange segments (slice segments out of the membranes of a peeled orange w/ a paring knife)

::Honey-Orange Vinaigrette::
Juice from 1-2 oranges (1/3 c.)
1 T. honey
1 T white wine vinegar
s+p
1/2 c. olive oil
Mix o.j., honey, vinager, s+p in a bowl, whisk in the olive oil in a slow stream.  Or put all liquids in a blender, slowly stream in the oil.

I hope this has inspired you to try a fresh and flavorful summer salad!  And if you like beets and goat cheese, you’ll surely love this.

Enjoy!