Friday, September 26, 2008

Really, Really Simple Creamy Pesto Gnocchi with Green Beans

I love gnocchi. I order it whenever I am out and it is on the menu. The best gnocchi I've ever had was for my birthday last year when Mr. Snowgoose took me to a local vegetarian restaurant. I actually didn't order the gnocchi, Mr. Snowgoose did, but that didn't stop me from eating his. Since then I've been craving gnocchi.

Much to my delight, the September issue of Real SimpleI Magazine had a recipe for gnocchi.

Since it is from RS this means I didn't have to make the gnocchi by hand, I could buy frozen.

Since the magazine arrived in my mailbox over a month ago I've been walking around with the recipe in my wallet searching for frozen gnocchi. When I lived in Boston I often saw gnocchi at the grocery stores near my house; however, despite that I live near six grocery stores I hadn't been able to find any. Finally, last Friday I found some at Trader Joes in the frozen foods. Chances are, if you live near a large grocery store you should be able to find gnocchi.

Ingredients:

1 pound gnocchi (refrigerated or frozen)
Kosher salt and pepper
1/2 pound green beans, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 2 cups)
1 8-ounce container store-bought pesto (about 1 cup)
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup ricotta

Directions:

Cook the gnocchi according to the package directions. Drain and return them to the pot.

Meanwhile, bring a large saucepan of water to a boil and add 1 tablespoon salt. Add the green beans and cook until tender, 3 to 4 minutes; drain.

Add the pesto and cream to the gnocchi and cook over medium heat, stirring, just until heated through, 2 to 3 minutes. Divide among bowls and top with the green beans, ricotta, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.



Substitution: If you can't find gnocchi, try this quick and easy pesto and cream sauce on pasta. Frozen peas are a fine stand-in for green beans.



Yield: Makes 4 servings

NUTRITION PER SERVING
CALORIES 631; FAT 37g (sat 13g); CHOLESTEROL 56mg; CARBOHYDRATE 55g; SODIUM 1344mg; PROTEIN 22g; FIBER 6g; SUGAR 7g

Cook's notes:

When I bought the gnocchi I failed to notice that it came with giant frozen chunks of Gorgonzola cheese. It wasn't until Mr. Snowgoose poured the the frozen pasta into the frying pan that we saw it. Since the cheese was giving the gnocchi a creamy consistency, we agreed to skip the cream and it turned out fine.





I would recommend using peas instead of green beans, I think it would have tasted a bit better, though I personally enjoyed the green bean and pesto combo and I don't even like pesto that much.

And it's totally vegetarian.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Really Simple End of Summer Vegetable Soup

I know I'm a couple of days late with this post considering Fall started Monday (right?), but if you're like me and refusing to acknowledge that summer is over (and clinging desperately to the hope of an Indian Summer and sunshine) or if you have leftover summer veggies that are thisclose to rotting in the crisper, then I have the perfect soup for you, courtesy of the September issue of Real Simple Magazine.

Note: it is not vegetarian, but you can make it by swapping out the chicken broth for vegetable broth.

Also the recipe is for a make ahead version. I just cooked the whole thing and then froze what I didn't eat.

Ingredients:

4 cups low-sodium chicken broth

1 15.5-ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 large zucchini, cut into bite-size pieces
1 large yellow squash, cut into bite-size pieces
1/2 pound green beans, cut into bite-size pieces
2 cups corn kernels (cut from 2 ears, or frozen)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
Kosher salt and pepper

In a large bowl, combine the broth, cannellini beans, zucchini, yellow squash, green beans, corn, onion, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Divide the mixture among freezer-safe containers. Freeze until ready to cook, up to 3 months.

Cook It
Frozen soup mixture
1/4 cup fresh dill sprigs

Transfer the frozen soup mixture to a saucepan. Simmer over medium heat, partially covered, for 10 minutes. Uncover and simmer until the vegetables are tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in the dill.




Yield: Makes 6 servings

NUTRITION PER SERVING
CALORIES 140; FAT 1g (sat 1g); CHOLESTEROL 3mg; CARBOHYDRATE 26g; SODIUM 273mg; PROTEIN 9g; FIBER 6g; SUGAR 6g


Cook's notes:

I used chicken bouillon cubes rather than plain broth because it was what I had on hand.

Also, I didn't add any dill, but I added a lot of garlic. And by a lot of garlic I mean vampires are afraid to come within a ten block radius of my kitchen.

I ate the soup the day I made it. The green beans were a little crunchy, but after I started reheating and eating the soup the green beans became softer and more manageable. And I totally used frozen corn.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Moonblush Tomatoes

Hello again.

Remember the too-many-tomatoes conundrum? It continues. So here is a better, easier, sexier way of roasting them, via your fave food goddess Nigella Lawson. Even the recipe's name is sexy, don't you think? Nigella, you tease, you.

Preheat oven to 450.

Put many cherry tomatoes (sliced in half; such a good way of using up all those split ones that were left on the plants too long) in a glass baking dish.

Throw in olive oil, salt, pepper, fresh thyme, fresh basil, dried Italian seasoning, crushed red pepper, whatever you've got.

Mush around.

Here's the fiddly part: the tomatoes really like to be right side up. I understand if this is not possible, but I've tried it both ways and they really come out better if they're facing up. Plus they look very cute and eager.

Put them in the oven. Now turn the oven off. Leave overnight. No peeking!

In the morning you will have lovely roasted tomatoes that are fantab over pasta or couscous for lunch. I swear to you this is true!

Enjoy.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Fake Out Take Out: Curried Rice and Shrimp

Welcome back to another edition of Fake Out Take Out, where I create an authentic ethnic meal without picking up the phone.

Today's meal comes from the September issue of Real Simple Magazine, so you know that recipe is ridiculously easy and fast.

Ingredients:


1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 cup long-grain white rice
Kosher salt and pepper
1 1/2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 cup fresh basil

Directions:

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and carrots and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, 6 to 8 minutes.

Add the garlic and curry and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 2 minutes.

Add the rice, 2 1/2 cups water, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes.



Season the shrimp with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and nestle them in the partially cooked rice. Cover and cook until the shrimp are opaque throughout, 4 to 5 minutes. Fold in the basil and serve.


Yield: Makes 4 servings

NUTRITION PER SERVING
CALORIES 431; FAT 7g (sat 1g); CHOLESTEROL 259mg; CARBOHYDRATE 50g; SODIUM 757mg; PROTEIN 39g; FIBER 3g; SUGAR 3g


Cook's notes:


I used brown rice to make the dish slightly healthier. I also added a simple salad to the meal.



As for the shrimp, I totally just used a bag of frozen shrimp from Trader Joe's. I didn't even thaw them, just dumped them frozen in the pan. It's cheating, but seriously who doesn't cheat at cooking?

Look! It looks just like the picture in the magazine!



I also added extra curry just for fun. My apartment smelled like an Indian restaurant for three days. I'm sure my neighbors were thrilled.

But it a really good meal. I will make it again, only toss in a few other veggies. And there was plenty left over, so Mr. Snowgoose had Fake Out Take Out for lunch. I'll be his coworkers were jealous.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Zucchini Bread, Plain and Simple

Sunshine has all these variations on zucchini bread, and I got curious enough to make my own. Also, this version has a ton of actual zucchini in it, so you can feel slightly virtuous when eating it - despite the oil and sugar. This counts as one of your 5-a-days, right?

prep time: 20 minutes
cook time: 1 hour
makes 2 large loaves, 6 mini loaves

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
1 1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups grated zucchini (green)
1 cup chopped walnuts

Ingredient Notes:
The original recipe called for all white sugar, but after reading some of the reviews, I opted to use half brown, half white.
I am a big fan of cinnamon, so I used heaping teaspoons of the spice.
You can use 1/2 cup of oil and 1/2 cup of unsweetened applesauce to cut the fat content.
I left out the nuts so that my toddler could eat it.

Grease and flour two 8 x 4 inch pans. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
Sift flour, salt, baking powder, soda, and cinnamon together in a bowl.
Beat eggs, oil, vanilla, and sugar together in a large bowl. Add sifted ingredients to the creamed mixture, and beat well. Stir in zucchini and nuts until well combined. Pour batter into prepared pans.
Bake for 40 to 60 minutes, or until tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on rack for 20 minutes. Remove bread from pan, and completely cool.

Baking notes:
Use Pam with flour - so easy!
I think I slightly over-cooked mine, so they were not quite as moist as promised, but next time I will just take them out of the oven sooner.
Still delicious though - I will definitely make this again.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Really Simple: Garlicky Broiled Salmon and Tomatoes

From the September 2008 Real Simple Magazine.

For my new Father-In-Law's birthday, I wanted to make something that was easy yet tasted like I had spent most of the day in the kitchen (which was true about the dessert: chocolate zucchini cupcakes).

I chose the Garlicky Broiled Salmon and Tomatoes because Real Simple claimed it would take 15 minutes from start to finish and because it looked good. Since there was only three of us, I modified the recipe and only bought 1.15 pounds of fresh salmon from the market.

Ingredients:

3 6-ounce pieces skinless salmon fillet
4 medium tomatoes, cut in half
1/2 teaspoon paprika, preferably hot
2 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and pepper
8 sprigs fresh thyme
4 cloves garlic, sliced

Heat broiler. Place the salmon and tomatoes, cut-side up, in a broiler proof roasting pan or on a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle the salmon with the paprika.

Drizzle the salmon and tomatoes with the oil and season with 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Scatter the thyme and garlic over the top.

Broil until the salmon is opaque throughout and the tomatoes are tender, 8 to 10 minutes.

Yield: Makes 3 servings



Since I packed up all the ingredients and brought them to Mr. Snowgoose's dad's house, I forgot the garlic. Since he didn't have any, I added a garlic rub and garlic pepper but it wasn't as garlicky as I'd have liked.

Since I added the easy edamame salad and booked some instant brown rice (I love boil in a bag rice!), the total time was more like 20-25 minutes.

This was the end result:




Next time I'll add more paprika and garlic to the tomatoes.

Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes

This is a similar recipe to my famous blueberry-zucchini bread. Sharona made a chocolate zucchini cake and bragged about how good it was, so I had to check it out for myself. It's from the Bon Appetit Cookbook (2006).

Since I don't have cake pans (yet), I opted to make cupcakes so that I could share some with Mr. Snowgoose's dad (for hos birthday) and send Mr. Snowgoose into work with some.

The recipe claims to make 12 servings, but it made 24 cupcakes.

Ingredients:

2 1/4 cups sifted all purpose flour (sifted, then measured) (note: I did not sift. I do not own one of those sifter things).
1/2 cup unsweetened coca powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups sugar (I used Splenda for Baking)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk (I used soymilk. When Sharona made it she used a combination of milk and yogurt.)
2 cups grated, unpeeled zucchini (about 2 1/2 medium)
1 6 oz package semi sweet chocolate chips (about 1 cup)
3/4 cup chopped walnuts (I used 1/2 cup)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
2. Line and grease two 12-cup cupcake tins with cupcake wrappers.



3. Sift flour, cocoa powder, biking soda, and salt into medium bowl.
4. Beat sugar, butter, and oil in a large bowl until well blended.
5. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.
6. Beat in vanilla.
7. Mix in flour mixture alternately with buttermilk in 3 additions each.
8. Mix in grated zucchini.



9. Mix in chocolate chips and nuts.



10. Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 30 minutes, Cool cake completely.



These turned out pretty awesome, if I do say so myself. We wound up serving them with ice cream.

Easy Edamame Salad (as seen at Whole Foods)

I found this recipe at Whole Foods. The description was kind of funny: "Edamame are protein rich and kids love them. This salad is good enough to make them eat their vegetables. It holds up well in the lunch box and comes together quickly. Let the kids help with the grating."

Serves 4

Ingredients:
one- 16 oz bag of shelled edamame
3 carrots, peeled and grated (using the large holes of a box grater)
1 zucchini, peeled and grated (using the large holes of a box grater)
8 radishes, quartered

Toss together all the above ingredients with your favorite bottled sesame dressing.

Note: I forgot the zucchini.



I used it as a side in the birthday dinner I made for my new Father-In-Law. His verdict was "While I wouldn't ask you to make the salad again, I would eat it again if you made it and laced it in front of me."

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Fake out Take out: Chinese Chicken and Rice with Veggies

It's no secret that I don't really like Chinese food. It makes me feel gross and I'm hungry like 15 minutes after eating it.

But I do like brown rice and chicken and veggies.

A few weeks ago, while shopping at my neighborhood Trader Joe's when I discovered Soyaki Sauce.



Since Mr. Snowgoose likes Chinese food (and pretty much everything) I decided to make my own version of Chinese take out.

It's relatively simple and quite filling.

Ingredients:
3 or 4 tablespoons Soyaki Sauce
garlic cloves, crushed (as much or as little as you like)
frozen peas
three or four small chicken breasts
frozen edamame, unshelled
2 cups instant brown rice cooked
frozen broccoli
2 tablespoons olive oil

Directions:

1. Cook brown rice as directed
2. In a skillet saute chicken in garlic, olive oil, and soyaki sauce
3. When chicken is nearly cooked, toss in frozen veggies and saute with additional sauce.
4. Mix everything in a big bowl.
5. Serve.






If you're a vegetarian, this is relatively easy to modify. Switch out the chicken for tofu or just add more veggies.

Fast French Toast (with apples)

For our first breakfast/ brunch as a newlywed couple, I decided to make Mr. Snowgoose and I French Toast. It also helped that in the freezer I had some stale french bread, and exactly two eggs left over from the zucchini bread and an apple that was about to go bad.

From the Better Homes and Garden Cookbook (page 125)

Ingredients:

2 beaten eggs
1/2 cup milk (we used soy)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
5 1-inch thick slices of French bread or 6 slices of normal bread
1 tablespoon margarine, butter, or cooking oil
maple-flavored syrup
1 apple. sliced and de-cored.

Directions:

In a shallow bowl beat together eggs, milk, vanilla, and cinnamon. Dip bread into egg mixture, coating both sides.

In skillet or a griddle cook bread in hot butter (or cooking spray like we did) over medium high heat for 2-3 minutes on each side or until golden brown.

Serve warm with syrup. Makes 5 or 6 slices.

Since I had left over egg mixture I dipped my apple slices in it and let them soak it up. then I threw them in the skillet after the French Toast was done. Then I tossed everything together.

Without syrup:


With syrup:



Serve with your favorite coffee and yogurt. I think if I'd had soem bacon it would have made it even better.

what to do with an overflowing garden

Look, I'm back! Woo hoo. Anyway.... our little community garden plot has been producing loads of stuff. We're overloaded with tomatoes and jalapenos in particular. You start getting that vegetable guilt, you know, when you look at the windowsill and twenty tomatoes are there staring at you petulantly, developing black spots, because you just ate twenty yesterday and just picked a hundred from the garden today and frankly it's a little overwhelming. (And no, I don't can; the initial buying output is too much for me.)

So I roast! Load many many tomatoes in a baking dish (all kinds of tomatoes, cut into wedges, and you can use cherries as well). Slick with good olive oil. Also salt and pepper. I use my hands to stir, it's easier, although then it's helpful if someone's around to turn the faucet on for you. Throw in the oven for 20 minutes or so at 425. Serve plain as a side dish, or on pasta, or on bread as bruschetta. Consider also whirring in a blender and turning into soup.

As for the jalapenos: if you know people who love them some heat, try jalapeno salsa. Chop coarsely as many jalapenos as you want, including seeds and pith in maybe half. (Although you could go nuts and throw all the seeds in, who am I to judge.) Put them in a food processor (or the chopper thingie of your immersion blender) with a tomato or two (deseeded), salt, pepper, lemon juice, olive oil. And whir! This went over very well at a recent burrito party. It's lovely and green with little red flecks, and makes a nice counterpoint to your standard homemade pico de gallo (also a nice use of tomatoes).

That's it from this urban farmer! If you're in my neighborhood, come on by and visit. We've planted about thirty turnip plants for the fall. Anyone know any good turnip recipes??

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Smoked Gouda Pasta Salad

contributed by stillme, with help from loutre and Mimi.
This is a dish we found in a Southern Living magazine (which was available because Loutre is from Louisiana) and modified to our own tastes. The result was significantly fresher, lighter and healthier than the original. It's very nice for a hot day, and makes great left-overs.

makes 6 servings
prep: 20 minutes
cook: 12 minutes; chill 1 hour

1 can marinated artichoke hearts in brine
1 8oz package rotini pasta, cooked
1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
1/2 lb smoked gouda, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 5oz bag baby spinach leaves (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 4.5oz can chopped green chiles, drained
1/2 cup spicy brown mustard
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 t pepper
garnishes: tomato wedges, baby spinach leaves

Drain artichokes, reserving liquid. Cut artichokes into strips and place in a large bowl.
Add pasta and next 4 ingredients, and gently toss.
Stir together reserved artichoke liquid, mustard and next 4 ingredients until blended. Add to pasta mix, stirring to combine.
Cover and chill.
Garnish if desired.