Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Artichoke Hummus

I made this dip to bring to a playgroup yesterday, thinking that only the mommies would really go for it. After all, as I made it, Abby watched me and said "Oh yuck! I don't like artichokes! They are the yuckiest!" Even when I pointed out that she had never had an artichoke, or at least not in a long time, she maintained that they were the yuckiest, end of story.

As it turned out, the kids at the playgroup flocked to the veggies and dip, even bringing it down to their own kiddie table to share. And when my girls needed an afternoon snack, they requested the leftovers! So while I didn't take a picture of the dip per se, I do have a picture of the girls going at the dip and - even better! - scarfing down a bunch of veggies in the process!

Artichoke Hummus

1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 can/jar of artichoke hearts, drained (I used a 12 oz jar, but I think the cans come in 14 oz sizes)
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
2 Tbsp olive oil
kosher salt (add to taste)

In a food processor, blend beans, artichoke hearts, lemon juice, rosemary, and olive oil together until smooth. Add kosher salt to taste, blending well after each addition of salt. Garnish with sweet paprika, if desired, and serve with lots of fresh-cut veggies!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Chicken Baked in Curry-Peanut Sauce

I failed to get a picture of this dish, as my camera battery had died - but it is chicken breasts baked in a beige sauce. Not that photogenic! It was, however, delicious. Both girls gobbled their chicken right up. Abby said, "Mommy, this sauce is so tasty! Thank you!" So, woo!

This recipe made about twice as much sauce as I needed for the 5 chicken breasts I was baking, so I popped half of it in the freezer for a future tasty dinner.

Chicken Baked in Curry-Peanut Sauce

1 inch chunk of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped (if you're not a big fan of ginger, use less)
2 tsp garlic, chopped
1/2 cup smooth natural peanut butter
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 Tbsp soy sauce (I always use reduced sodium)
1 tsp red Thai curry paste
1 1/4 cups light coconut milk
1/4 cup cilantro leaves

4-6 chicken breasts

Preheat oven to 375F.

In a blender or food processor, combine all ingredients (except for the chicken breasts). (Or put the ingredients in a bowl and use your immersion blender, if you have a nifty little one like I do!) Blend them until smooth.

Place chicken breasts in a 9x13 baking dish and pour sauce all over. Freeze any leftover sauce. Bake chicken until the internal temperature reaches 165F - for me, this was somewhere between 35-45 minutes.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Creamy Asparagus Soup

I bought one of those 2-lb bags of asparagus from Costco (indeed, I adore Costco and it's mountains of produce!) for roasting up alongside out Easter lamb - but when the time came, I was just not in the mood for asparagus. So I needed to use it up, and I was in the mood for a creamy soup. I used potato to help thicken the base, so I could use just two cups of 1% milk instead of cream, butter, etc. - and I achieved an incredibly creamy soup.

As with all soups, my kids were a little iffy on this. Abby ended up eating about half of her bowl, though not without some prodding. Lizzy tried a bite... which is, well, something at least!

Creamy Asparagus Soup

2 lbs of asparagus, washed and chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp dried dill
1/4 tsp dried lemon peel
1 large potato, peeled and chopped
2 cups of stock (vegetable or chicken)
2 cups of milk (I used 1%)

In a large pot, stir together asparagus, onion, celery, olive oil, dill, lemon peel, and salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until vegetables have begun to soften.

Add potato and stock. Cover and cook over medium-low heat until potato is soft enough to fall apart easily. Stir in milk.

Use an immersion blender to puree soup (or, puree in a blender, working in batches. Be careful when blending piping hot soup!!). Continue to keep warm over low heat until ready to serve.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Banana-Oatmeal Bread

I've tinkered with this recipe over the years, and it is currently our favorite toasting bread (needless to say, it makes great pb&j, too!). It's got this lovely hint of banana flavor, and it tastes fabulous toasted and buttered. Mmm. This recipe is for the bread machine - I've made bread by hand a few times, but I honestly don't see a difference in the final outcome, and the bread machine allows me to be so wonderfully lazy!

Banana-Oatmeal Bread

1 cup ripe banana, sliced
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 1/3 cups milk
1 3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 1/2 cups bread flour
3/4 cup rolled oats
3 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp gluten
1 Tbsp + 1/2 tsp rapid rise yeast

Add ingredients according to your bread machine's instructions (I add mine in the exact order listed here). Set for the whole wheat cycle. This is a 2-lb loaf, if your machine requires that info. Walk away while the bread machine works its magic, and then take all the credit and glory when people compliment the yummy bread.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Zucchini Nuggets, Take Two

Waaaaay back when we started this blog, I posted zucchini nuggets. I made those all the time that fall, and then they kind of fell by the wayside. I found myself once again with some lonely, unused zucchini in my veggie drawer the other night, so I thought of those nuggets. I revamped the recipe this time around, largely because I had run out of Panko bread crumbs, also because I had more zucchini to use up. These were just as big a hit with the girls as the originals - served alongside some home-baked sweet potato fries, these made a great "fries and nuggets" dinner!

I used homemade bread crumbs for these. No one in our family really loves the crusty ends of loaves of breads (or "bread bums", as we call them), so I collect them in a bag in the freezer. When I need bread crumbs, I whirl up a few "bums" in our food processor - and voila, I have coarse, whole wheat bread crumbs!

Zucchini Nuggets, Take Two

3 small zucchini, grated
2 cups coarse bread crumbs
2 Tbsp flour
2 eggs
1/2 cup cheese (cheddar, jack, whatever you like)
canola oil for frying

In a large bowl, combine zucchini, crumbs, flour, eggs, and cheese. You want the mixture to have a meatball-like quality to it.

Heat up a small amount of canola oil in a frying pan over medium-low heat. Gather up scoops of the zucchini mixture, slightly smaller than a golf ball. Mush the ball in your hands a few times until the mixture is really holding together, and then flatten into a nugget shape. After all the nuggets are formed, cook them in batches.

I cooked them "low and slow" - about 4 to 5 minutes per side, over medium-low heat - to let them get nice and golden. This made about 24 nuggets.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Mushroom-Spinach Sauce

We had a day last week when I realized the girls had reached dinner time with nary a fruit or vegetable to their day. This is very uncommon for us - but it was a day when we were running around with school, ballet, and errands, and we had done more "on the fly" eating than usual. I wanted to pack as many fruits and veggies into dinner as I reasonably could, while also making something the girls would eat without complaint (as they were very tired and likely to kick up a fuss). I resorted to the favorite mom trick of pureeing veggies into a sauce for pasta, and served the pasta with smoothies. I like to use a rotini pasta with sauces - the spirals hold a lot of saucy goodness! The girls cleaned their plates (and their cups), and I felt much better about our day!

(I'm continuing my goal of one vegan and one vegetarian dish per week, which has been much easier than I expected. This was our vegan meal of the week (the smoothies were bananas, strawberries, pomegranate juice, and vanilla soy milk).)

Mushroom-Spinach Sauce

1 box rotini pasta
2-3 handfuls of baby spinach
1 zucchini, sliced
5 large white mushrooms, washed and chopped
1 Tbsp olive oil
dash of oregano, salt
2 tsp balsamic vinegar

In a large pot, cook pasta according to package directions. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water when draining the cooked pasta.

In a sauce pan, heat up the olive oil over medium heat. Add the spinach, zucchini, and mushrooms. Season with oregano and salt. Cook, stirring, until the zucchini and mushrooms are soft. Transfer the veggies to a blender, adding balsamic vinegar. Blend veggies until smooth, adding some of the pasta cooking water as needed.

Toss the cooked pasta in the sauce before serving.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Rosemary Beef Stew with Greens

In continuing to use up that big bag o' spinach last week, I made a wonderful rosemary beef stew. I adore rosemary, and we've had enough rain and gloomy temperatures to make beef stew a welcome addition to the weekly menu. The spinach was fine in this soup, although I generally prefer hardier greens, like kale, in my soup.

Rosemary Beef Stew with Greens

1/2 lb cooked and cubed beef
4 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup red wine
1 cup water
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped onion
4 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 clove garlic, minced
2-3 handfuls of washed, chopped greens (spinach, kale, chard, whatever you like)
1 cup sliced mushrooms

I took the easy route on making this, and would do it in a slow cooker in the future (I wasn't thinking quite that far ahead that day). In a large pot, combine beef, chicken stock, wine, water, celery, onion, carrots, rosemary, and garlic. Bring to a boil and lower heat. Simmer until vegetables are soft (I let mine go for about an hour). Stir in the greens and mushrooms - simmer for an additional 10-15 minutes, until mushrooms are soft and cooked through.

I served this with some cheese toast, and the girls did a fairly decent job on it - they picked out and ate the beef and carrots, and Abby also ate the "lettuce" (as she calls all greens). I've made tremendous progress on getting the girls to at least try soup this winter!