it’s been far too long…

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I’ve needed to post.

Desperately.

So here it is.

In photographic form…

A taste of the last six months.

Yeah for summer!

What have you been up to?

enjoy

xo

coconut curry with tofu

Curry. I like it a lot.

It can be hot or not so hot. It can be red, green or yellow. It can be a paste or a powder. You can serve it with meat (or not), veggies, tofu, nuts, chickpeas or a mixture of any of the above – it’s truly a versatile dish – and a simple one.

This recipe (if you can call it that) is always a little different for me, I just use whatever I have on hand…mix it with coconut milk, vegetable broth, some fresh herbs (typically cilantro) and finish with freshly squeezed lime juice and a delicious dinner is served!

Most curry dishes (in my opinion) are pretty much the curry base mixed with the ingredients of choice plus coconut milk and stock. Oh, and lime juice. Must have the lime juice.

So if your wondering what to have for dinner, why not try a simple curry?

You can find pre-made curry pastes or curry powders in just about any grocery store, for this recipe I used a red curry paste – I prefer the paste for a dish like this. Think you have nothing on hand to eat? Think again. Not a lot is needed for curries, just a bit of creativity and a little time…

I didn’t have much on hand,

veggies

(I’m so excited to be in my garden again, this post was written before my garden was in full force) – so I utilized what I did have;  one red pepper, broccoli, carrots, cashews, tofu, onions, fresh parsley and limes. Basically a few staples.

Here’s a few more ideas for curried dishes – sweet potato, spinach, kale, fresh ginger, garlic…try using frozen veggies too if fresh aren’t available. No limes? Use lemons. No cilantro? Use parsley. Fish also tastes divine curried…as do a variety of meats. So, go crazy. Get out your knife, your stock, your coconut milk and whatever you have in your fridge and get currying. (:

While you are preparing the curried veggies don’t forget to start cooking your rice or rice noodles so it is  ready when your curry is ready…

First, dice

cubed tofu

sauteed tofu

and sauté your tofu (or meat of choice), until golden and crispy. Remove from pan and set aside.

sauteed veggies

In same pan sauté onions in a bit of olive oil (or butter), until golden, add carrots (or any ‘hard’ veggie), until slightly softened, then add your ‘softer’ veggies like peppers, broccoli or greens – sauté for a few more minutes.

add coconut milk

Then I push the veggies to the sides of the pan, add the curry paste (amount depends upon how spicy you want it) and coconut milk (1 can) and mix well until all is blended – all the while simmering over a low heat…then add about 1 – 1.5 cups of veggie stock and mix well. Add cashews and the sauteed tofu and simmer for another 5 minutes or so. Salt to taste, add fresh herbs (parsley or cilantro) and finished with freshly squeezed lime juice.

IMG_4251_2

Portion out a bit of rice (or rice noodles), then top with the curried veggies (or whatever it was you curried) and enjoy.

top view - served

Salt and lime to taste.

Easy. Delicious. Healthy. Versatile. Inexpensive.

served 1

What’s not to love?

Enjoy.

simple, delicious, comfort food…alfredo with veggies!

So, as usual, I hadn’t really ‘planned’ dinner…I used to plan dinners, well, sort of… my idea of planning was and still is, to try and incorporate a new recipe every now and again – to help with the boringness of the ‘same old, same old’ – but now that I’m only home three nights a week, I tend to ‘wing it’ and simply use what I have on hand…sometimes it works, sometimes it’s still the ‘same old, same old’…but it’s always homemade, with love.

This night I was in need of a change, do you that know that feeling?

Our bodies need change, our minds need change, and our food prep habits need change…hence, how I ended up with this recipe…

I needed to use what I had (I live 25 minutes from the closest grocery store, one-way), and I wanted to utilize the abundance of fresh kale I had just picked from my backyard garden and I wanted comfort food.

first kale + swiss chard

So, guess what I came up with? Pasta with kale, dripping in alfredo sauce!

vertical alfredo

It was SO good.

I think all that cheese negated the health benefits of the kale, but such is life sometimes…

A few months ago (in the cold, dark of winter) I was wanting something rich, gooey, and comforting –  I needed a recipe for an alfredo sauce. A simple sauce of cheese, milk/cream, roux and salt and pepper. Nothing else would do. I connected to the internet (yes, I still have dial-up and yes, it still exists, sadly…) and after awhile I came across this delicious and easy to make recipe. I made it, I loved it and I printed it to keep – and I’m so glad I did.

I hadn’t made it since the dark days of winter, but when your in the mood for a rich and decadent alfredo sauce and you live in the woods by the sea, well, you better know how to make it, or at least have a recipe to help you know how!

So, I looked in the fridge – yeah, all the ingredients were there! All I had to do was prep.

No simple feat as a mamma of a pre-schooler, but with a little help from Michael, my partner – he entertained our four year old, while I chopped, diced, whisked and then finally, assembled – dinner!

pasta, veggies, alfredo

This recipe is so flexible, it’s ridiculous.

Here’s what you need and what to do;

Sautee any veggies you have – I used peppers, mushrooms and kale – in a bit of olive oil and set aside.

veggies sauteed

Boil water for pasta and begin cooking pasta just before you start making the alfredo sauce.

Prepare alfredo sauce.

Place cooked pasta on plate or bowl, top with alfredo, then veggies and voila, dinner is served! Finish with a bit of sea salt and freshly cracked pepper and serve alongside a salad of greens and a feast is served! Enjoy.

Alfredo Sauce

Alfredo Recipe – Print this!

Slightly adapted from Jessica at Delicious Obsessions

Ingredients;

1/4 cup

1/2 tbsp. freshly minced garlic

1 -2 tbsp. flour of your choice (I used 1.5 tbsp. unbleached white)

3/4 cup whole milk*

3/4 cup heavy cream*

**(I substituted 1.5 cups half and half and 1/4 whole milk for heavy cream and milk measurements)

1.5 cups freshly shredded parmesan cheese

Kosher or sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

What to Do:

In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, melt the butter.

Add garlic and saute until lightly browned.

Sprinkle the flour over the butter/garlic mixture and whisk around, quickly. You want to use enough flour to absorb the butter, without over doing it.  You want to create a roux (which is a mixture of flour and a fat (usually butter) used to thicken sauces and soups), which is slightly thick, yet fluid, without being gloppy.

Whisk this mixture for about 4 minutes, stirring constantly to prevent burning…this helps remove the ‘raw’ taste the flour could have if undercooked. The flour should be very lightly browned.

After you’ve made your roux (cooked your flour), slowly add the milk and cream, all the while continuing to whisk. Keep whisking – or else your sauce will be clumpy – until it’s slightly thickened and gently bubbling…

While whisking, add the shredded parmesan, little by little, until all is incorporated.

Remove from heat.  Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Things to consider;

Don’t have kale? Use spinach or swiss chard.

Don’t have peppers? Use caramelized onions or summer squash.

What about garlic? Or garlic scapes? Or fresh basil? What about freshly chopped parsley?

Like meat? Add sausage or bacon.

Play around with what you have and keep it simple.

Veggies and cheese over pasta, how can you go wrong?

Enjoy.

 

 

grown up grilled cheese

Every now and again I’m in the mood for a grilled cheese sandwich… not just cheese, melted on bread, no, I like mine with veggies, herbs and cheese or any combination thereof. Grown-up style…

This wasn’t a ‘planned meal’ by any means, I just used what I had on hand – a bit of fresh parsley, broccoli, mushrooms, sundried tomatoes and artichoke hearts. Pesto would have been good too or fresh basil, the options are endless – use what you have – get creative, have fun with an old (and easy) favorite!

Cheese, bread and veggies – what could be better? Are you vegan? Well, then, use vegan cheese!

ingredients

Simply saute veggies in a bit of olive oil, add a pinch of two of salt and pepper.

saute

 

Butter one side of each slice of bread (whatever kind of bread you like).

Place one slice of bread, buttered side down, onto a skillet over medium heat.

Place sauteed veggies on bread first, then top with cheese…

melt cheese

cover with lid (for a short time to help cheese melt), then top with second slice of bread, and flip to brown the other side.

Remove from pan, let rest a few minutes and enjoy.

Grown-up grilled cheese, yum!

Need a summer inspired sandwich – go here!

What’s your favorite sandwich?

Enjoy.

roasted beets

Roasted beets

These sublime beauties are a cinch to prepare.

Really.

In years past I’ve grown and harvested many, many beets;

veggies

though last years erratic weather prevented an abundant crop, sadly, I had only a few…

beet in ground

so, off to the farmers market I go!

unwashed beets

Wash, scrub (if necessary) and remove green tops. (Steam or saute greens with a bit of olive oil, don’t just throw those beauties away…)

beets in sink

tops and bottoms removed

I usually cut off the tops and tails of each beet. These beets I felt I needed to cut off a bit more than usual…if they are freshly harvested, I cut a much smaller area…

close-up before packing

Dampen each beet slightly with a bit of water and then wrap in foil.

wrapping each

I prefer wrapping each beet individually, though you could also prepare a foil packet and roast a few together. The key to either preparation is to be sure the foil is sealed. You want to be sure to keep all those lovely juices in!

Length of time depends on the size and freshness of the beet. Smaller beets take less time, larger beets, more. Also, the fresher the beet, the less time is takes to roast…smaller beets can take up to 25 minutes, while larger ones, up to an hour.

peeled and cubed

A beet is roasted once it can be easily pierced with a fork or tip of a small knife.

Now, you ask, “At what temperature do you roast?” Well, this can also fluctuate…beets are flexible with temperature…so, feel free to roast your beets while the rest of dinner is baking away, or on their own…beets are happiest between between 325 degrees F. and 425 degrees F.

If it’s only beets your roasting, then place those lovelies in a 425 degree F pre-heated oven.

I usually roast them in my cast iron skillet, but any oven safe pan will do. The foil keeps all the steam in, thus, all the resulting juices too…making clean-up a snap!

Do be careful while opening each packet as juice may spill out…beautiful deep purple juice. Staining juice…

Once cooled enough to touch, peeling is so easy that the skins simply slip off. If you don’t mind having your hands stained a crimson red for awhile, then by all means, slide those skins off with your bare hands. If not,  you may prefer using gloved hands or you can also use a paring knife. Granted, using a paring knife will not prevent staining, it’s just another method…

sliced with salt

Regretfully, I do not have any photos depicting the ease of slipping off the skins…by the time each beet had cooled enough to hold, the sun had set. My natural light  had disappeared…

But, the following day, the sun shone bright and I enjoyed these lovelies sliced and sprinkled with a smidgen of kosher salt as well as in a salad of fresh spinach, goat cheese and walnuts.

beet and spinach salad

Simple. Easy. Delicious.

Why not roast a few today?

Enjoy!

potato leek soup

I’d never grown leeks before, but thought I’d try…and I’m so glad I did. Mass produced leeks lack, what all mass produced veggies lack, and that’s taste.

my leeks 1

Backyard leeks are incredibly powerful,

Less is more with these beauties…

my leeks 2

Not a gardener? Well then stop by your local farmers market and pick up a few…or your local health food store…or the organic produce aisle of your local supermarket.

The difference is incredible and well worth the expense…see for yourself.

Potato Leek Soup

Print this recipe

potatoes, leeks, onion

1.5 lbs. potatoes

3/4 to 1 lb. leeks – chopped

1/2 onion – chopped

4-5 cups vegetable or chicken stock…whichever you prefer…

juice from 1-2 lemons

olive oil

a couple tablespoons of butter

salt and pepper to taste

That’s it.

Here’s what to do;

First, wash and peel the potatoes, then chop.

Second, clean each leek, chop white parts only.

cleaned leeks

trimmed leeks

Peel and chop onion.

choped onion

Splash enough olive oil to coat bottom of a heavy bottomed cook pot.

Heat over medium heat.

Add chopped onion and a bit of butter…

caramelized onion

Saute until browned.

Add chopped leeks…

chopped leek

Toss in a bit more butter…don’t be afraid…

Saute for a few more minutes.

Add chopped potatoes.

potatoes and onions

Toss and coat with buttery, browned onions/leeks…

Add a bit more butter…

Mix well.

9.adding stock

Pour in stock.

Stir.

Add a good pinch of coarse salt and freshly ground pepper. Stir.

Finish with freshly squeezed lemon juice…

Cover and simmer for about an hour.

slighly pureed in pot

From here it’s up to you;

Do you prefer a pureed version of potato leek soup? If so, then mix potato and leeks in a blender, with a bit of stock…keep blending in small batches until desired consistency is met…add more salt and pepper to taste…

Or, if that’s not your style, why not enjoy it, as is…?

Final option.

Utilize a hand mixer and puree only some…thus creating a smashed up soup, that’s what I did.

Whichever you choose…

Finish with ringlets of freshly chopped leeks (greenish part) and possibly even a splash of cream…

potato leek soup served

Serve with freshly baked bread.

freshly baked bread

Enjoy.

…the last taste of summer

It’s officially fall now.

The autumn equinox has come and gone and the leaves are beginning to turn here in Maine…apples and pumpkins abound, mums (the flowers) are being popped into the ground and into pots everywhere and the smell of smoke is in the air…but I’m still savoring the last taste of summer…

vine-ripened

Vine ripened tomatoes,

basil 2

fresh basil,

fresh mozz. 2

fresh mozzarella

presto pesto

and pesto.

Melt together between two slices of bread and you will taste summer in a way which no other sandwich compares…

Granted, my tomatoes have all been plucked from their vines (nights are getting a bit too chilly for them) and they now continue to ripen on my window sill and the basil (still in the garden) is starting to brown, but I picked as much as I could before the cooler nights settled in and I’m so glad I did! I’ve made batches of pesto, stored what I could in the fridge and am drying more…

So what to do with all those tomatoes, basil and pesto?

Bake some bread, buy a block of fresh mozzarella and get slicing….

Now it’s not a ‘cheap’ sandwich to make if you have to buy all the ingredients, but if you’ve been fortunate enough to grow the basil and tomatoes and have the desire to bake some bread (check this recipe out for a very simple and inexpensive recipe) all you’ll need to buy is the fresh mozzarella. The least expensive block I’ve found sets me back $4, but I can get at least 4 sandwiches from one, so that ends up being only $1 per sandwich (at least for the cheese), a far cry from what this sandwich would cost if it was to be ordered out…

Gather your ingredients;

tomatoes + basil

sliced bread 2

fresh mozz. 2

A few leaves of basil, a few slices of fresh mozz., a couple pieces of bread, a tablespoon or two of pesto and sliced tomato. Add a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic if you wish, a bit of butter for browning and you will have the tastiest summer sandwich – ever!

Spread each half of bread with pesto,

pesto spread 2

top with a layer of basil, fresh sliced mozzarella and then tomatoes…drizzle with a bit of olive oil and balsamic (if you wish), a sprinkle of salt and top with other half of the bread…butter each side and place on hot griddle. Turn once browned and then cook the other side. Cut and serve! side view layered 2

layer tomatoes, basil and cheese 2

top view browned

cut and ready to serve 2

These were so delicious, Michael and I agreed we each had to have a second!

Are you missing summer already? Then why not make this sandwich and be reminded…

What are your favorite summertime ingredients? What’s your favorite sandwich?

Enjoy.

spring rolls

My previous post was all about the delicious inspiration served up over at Frugal Feeding, (noodle broth + spring rolls) and while he offers his own recipe for spring rolls, I chose to simply use what I had on hand.

For me, the best part of spring rolls is their versatility…fresh or fried, vegetarian or meat based – the combinations abound…

While the rolling wasn’t that simple, it wasn’t that difficult either…a little more practice and time (I had two very hungry people patiently waiting for me to ‘figure it out’) and I’ll have it down! These rolls were scrumptious nonetheless…

spring rolls

You’ll need one packet of Spring Roll Wrappers and rice noodles, plus whatever filling you’d like to add – see my list below for ideas.

Print this recipe…

First here’s how to use spring roll wrappers;

1. Fill a shallow tray/dish with hot water and place a spring roll wrapper into the water until it is soft and pliable (about 15-20 seconds).

2. Remove the wrapper and gently lay onto a damp tea towel and blot until until it is slightly sticky/dry.

3. Place the filling of your choice in the middle of the wrapper and then fold in two opposing sides, not fully covering the filling, then roll the third side over and upwards to form a neat roll shape.

Here’s one filling suggestion (more below);

spring roll ingrediants

1 cup cooked rice noodles – chilled, whole (some recipes suggest chopping – I didn’t)

handful fresh spinach leaves

1-2 small carrots, peeled and thinly sliced

2 tbs. bean sprouts

handful fresh mint and or coriander (cilantro), chopped

red chili

1. Mix all ingredients in bowl. Use one (more/less) heaping spoon full of mixture per wrapper (or whatever portion you find suitable for the wrappers you are using).

2. Place mixture in center of wrapper, add a dash of tamari or soy sauce and roll as instructed above.

3. Serve immediately. Or deep fry for about 2 minutes and serve with dipping sauce. We used tamari, though a sweet and sour chili sauce would be lovely too!

We enjoyed them both fresh and fried. See for yourself.

Here are a few more suggestions to try, or any combination thereof, the choice is entirely up to you…

lettuce leaves

medium sized prawns (cooked)

shredded duck (cooked)

fresh basil

pak choi, finely chopped

chopped garlic

chopped ginger

any fresh green which can be eaten raw

cabbage – thinly sliced

noodle broth + rolls

This is a refreshingly light, yet extremely satisfying meal…especially when served with noodle broth.

enjoy!

How do you like your spring rolls?

noodle broth

I’d been yearning for something different.

Something light.

Something fresh.

Something new. And I found it.

Noodle broth and spring rolls.

noodle broth + rolls

My inspiration (and Noodle broth recipe) came from the fabulous food blog, Frugal Feeding. As the name suggests, it’s a blog about eating well without spending a fortune – great recipe collection there, to say the least. The photos were so enticing and beautiful I knew right away, this was what I was looking for.

Try them for yourself and see what you think. I think both dishes are divine…especially served in this beautiful dish set from China…can you believe I found the whole set? Still in the package? At my local transfer station. Amazing…

Noodle Broth 

recipe from Frugal Feeding:

print this

100g rice noodles

4 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock)

small bunch of thyme

2-3 bay leaves

2 tablespoons finely chopped ginger

smidgen dark soy sauce

1-2 small red chilies (depending on your likes)

a few leaves of fresh basil

2 tbsp. sesame oil

broth herbs

stock added - broth

Fry garlic and ginger in a large cooking pot, using the sesame oil. Add thyme, bay leaves and chicken stock. Bring to a simmer and allow spices to infuse, with lid on, for 15-20 minutes.

straining

Sieve the stock.

noodles

Remove all the contents. Return to pot and add uncooked noodles. Allow to simmer for about 15 minutes, at which time, noodles should be cooked.

noodle broth

Serve in bowls and top with finely chopped red chilies, a sprinkling of soy sauce and a few freshly torn basil leaves…deliciousness indeed!

Side note – I forgot to buy basil, so I substituted with fresh cilantro (maybe you can tell in the photos?). While it didn’t take away from the dish, I do look forward to trying this dish with the sweetness of basil added…if only my little plants were bigger!

enjoy

P.S.  Stay tuned for the spring rolls…