Monday, July 28, 2008

Crostini 3 ways

What is it with me and threes lately? Anyway, I had a lot of leftover crostini from the previous night's dinner, so tonight we had crostini three ways and pretended we were at a fancy small plates restaurant.

#1) With goat cheese (more of last night's leftovers) and avocado slices
#2) With bruschetta (about 3 chopped tomatoes, 1/2 cup chopped basil, 1 clove of garlic pressed, a splash of olive oil)
#3) With Princess Sianessa's walnut hummus (And it came out beautifully, even though I couldn't follow the recipe exactly. I had no time to roast garlic, so I just added 1 clove raw. And I didn't have limes, so I did use lemon juice, despite the warning not to!) The Picky Toddler (who much to my relief is turning out to be not so picky after all now that he is mastering the art of chewing) ate some of it on a cracker.

We threw some olives, broccoli, and cauliflower on the table to round out the meal.

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3 Meals on Sunday

I don't know what got into me on Sunday, but I cooked 3 meals (I usually manage 1 or 2 and go out or eat leftovers or quick stuff for 1 meal.) Anyway, all 3 meals were well-received by the peanut gallery here, the Internal Monologuist and the Picky Toddler.

#1) For breakfast (no pic, unfortunately), we had a lovely veggie hash. I sauteed some chopped onion (about 1/2 large) until beginning to soften, then added 3 medium cubed red potatos and sauteed about 2 mins. Then I added about 1/4 cup water, put the lid on, and let the potato and onions "steam" for about 7 mins to soften. Then I removed the lid, and continued sauteeing until the potatoes just started to brown. Next, I tossed in some chopped red pepper (about 1/2 large) and about 6 sliced mini zuccinis. Finally, I added about 4 eggs beaten with 1/2 cup shredded cheddar and cooked through. It was scrumptious, and an easy way to get some veggies and protein at breakfast.

#2) For lunch, we had black bean burritos, with more zuccini (I wanted to use them up!), tomato, cheese, and salsa. The black beans were based on Nava Atlas's recipe for green chili beans - basically you sautee some garlic and onion, add beans and a little water, then some canned green chilis. You finish the dish by mashing some of the beans to give them a creamy texture.

#3) For dinner, we had apricot-lentil soup, which sounds strange, but it is divine. It's Mollie Katzen's recipe. We served it with crostini, goat cheese (a wonderful part of our anniversary gift from Red and Cathie - thanks!), and salad (those new wooden salad bowls are also from Red and Cathie!). Incidentally, the soup is vegan and fat-free, so it's nice if you have vegan or dieting company. For company (whether vegan or omnivorous), I recommend using red or green lentils. The brown ones (as shown below) just aren't that pretty.

Note for parents - for the Picky Toddler, these meals were adapted as follows:
Breakfast - same, but chopped his portion into smaller chunks and helped him with the fork
Lunch - made him a quesadilla with cheese and some black beans and served as tiny cubes
Dinner - he shocked me by eating the lentil soup straight up! It has a lot of spices in it, but he liked it. He can't use a spoon that well yet, so we just fed it to him.
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Friday, July 18, 2008

Toddler Mini Power Muffins

I like these pumpkin power muffins by Rachel Rappaport at Coconut and Lime, but they will really be put to the test tomorrow morning when my toddler eats breakfast. These are packed with nutrition - pumpkin, egg, yogurt (I substituted yogurt for buttermilk), ground flax seed, oats, and whole wheat flour. I baked them mini-sized and plan to put most of them in the freezer for fast healthy morning meals and snacks. If they are really a hit, they might become part of the regular cooking repertoire, along with iced tea, yogurt, and granola - stuff we just like to keep around.

UPDATE: He likes them!
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Rotini with Roasted Tomatoes

Too tired to post the recipe tonight - I don't think it's online. But the basics: roast cherry tomatoes, olive oil, capers, red pepper flakes, garlic, salt, and pepper for 40 minutes. Toss with cooked pasta, pine nuts, and fresh oregano. I used mixed heirloom cherry tomatoes from Trader Joe's and fresh oregano (from my garden!), and it was colorful and superb.

I was slightly intimidated by the long cooking time, with the toddler underfoot and all. But it was surprisingly easy to toss the tomato mixture together and stick into the oven - while it roasted, we read The Hungry Little Caterpillar again and again while the scent of dinner wafted through the house. Good times.
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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A tiny tomato!

Check it out! I'm so excited!
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Quick and healthy weeknight dinner

Tonight we had a very quick and healthy dinner of broccoli frittata and store-bought (Trader's Joe's - in the freezer aisle) asparagus risotto. The frittata was based on a recipe from Nava Atlas's 5-Ingredient Gourmet. Beat 4 eggs with 1/4 cup grated parmesan, 2 cups steamed broccoli chopped fine (I even cheated on this and used microwave-in-bag broccoli - microwaved it while I beat the eggs and cheese - then just chopped it after cooking and stirred it in), salt, and pepper. Heat a large skillet at medium-high with 1 tsp olive oil. Pour in egg mixture. Set for 5 min. Gently transfer to plate. Flip plate back over skillet to cook the raw side. Cook a few more minutes. Put back on plate, and slice into wedges. Easy, healthy, and delicious. Our toddler ate some of this, and the risotto, too!

Another nice accompaniment to this frittata would be Tomato, Corn, and Basil soup. Maybe next time.

A quick shout out to Sian - I'll be making that zucchini recipe you sent me soon!
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Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Simple vacation meals

The pic above is the view we had from the house we rented last week in Carmet, CA (that's not a typo - we weren't in Carmel). Cooking was an interesting challenge there - an unfamiliar kitchen with a bare cupboard and few appliances. And being on vacation, standing over the (electric) stove for hours wasn't in my plans. Here's a rundown of some of what we very happily ate:

- Scrambled eggs with excellent local cheese (Petaluma, CA), green onions, and tomato with whole wheat bread and sliced white peaches
- Wheat banana pancakes, using a surprisingly good mix and fresh banana with a big bowl of cherries on the side
- Barbecued veggie burgers with the same terrific cheese and corn on the cob with more cherries and sliced cantaloupe
- Pasta with store-bought basil-tomato sauce, and you guessed it, more cheese.

In the evenings, we enjoyed dulce de leche ice cream and cheap white wine while we sat by the fire. Sigh. I'm already planning our next trip.

Sorry for all the product placements, but buying delicious, quick stuff made our vacation meals a delight.
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Gardening is going better than I thought it would

Garden update: About 5 weeks after potting these seedlings! From the top: tomato, pepper, basil, oregano, and rosemary. Next summer I'll definitely do this again with a greater variety of veggies and herbs. I can't wait to taste a tomato or pepper from my backyard.
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Monday, July 7, 2008

Make-Your-Own Farro Salad and Crostini

Sorry I haven't posted in awhile. I was crazy busy, and then on vacation.

Here's a fun summer make-your-own meal. I set some warm farro tossed with a little balsamic vinegar and pine nuts and crostini on the table, along with steamed green beans, fresh mozzarella, good olives, chopped fresh tomatoes, sliced red pepper, and torn basil leaves. My husband and I mixed the farro and crostini with the various delicious tidbits. An easy, pretty meal and perfect for a hot day when you don't feel like cooking. This is also a great way to use up leftovers or incorporate your farmer's market or garden goodies.

I made the farro in my black and decker steamer and the crostini by slicing some day-old baguette, brushing lightly with olive oil and salt, and baking at about 400 for 10 mins.

Other variations of the make-your-own meal are burritos, pizza, and mediterranean mezze platters, all of which I'm likely to post about soon. My toddler is just starting to eat non-pureed food (hallelulah!), so we'll see if this turns out to be true, but I'm guessing that the make-your-own meal in all its variations will be a hit - he'll be able to be picky and probably like all the fun little tidbits to choose from.