Tomato Cheese Grits

That’s right! I said grits!

tomatoey cheese grits

Great Grits!

Coarsely ground white corn meal. You either love them or hate them. I am in the lovers group but don’t mind the haters. It just means more for me. I’m not here to make you eat grits. Nope, nuh uh. I’m just here to offer a super easy, great grits recipe to those who already love them. Now, if you are a hater and you still feel the need to give this recipe a try,  then do it!. Broaden your horizons. Live the dream. Embrace the southerner you were meant to be.

p.s. don’t tell anyone, but polenta is just yellow grits. shushhhh.

Onward! Gather the necessities.

Ingredients for tomato cheese grits

Ingredients for tomato cheese grits

Pour the 4 cups of vegetable broth into a 2 quart stock pot. Set it on the stove and bring to a boil.

veggie broth

Heat the broth

While that’s heating, grab the tomatoes, core them and chop them up.

half inch dice on tomatoes

Diced tomatoes

Once the broth reaches a boil, stir in the quick cooking grits and the diced tomatoes. Throw in some salt, too.

add grits and tomatoes

stir in the tomatoes and grits

Stir it up real good and return to a boil. Then, lower the heat to simmer and cook, stirring frequently, for 15 to 20 minutes. Just until the grits are tender.

While that’s happening, get out your cheese a grate it up. You’ll need 1 & 1/2 cups of it.

grated cheese

Grate up a bunch o’ cheddar.

When the grits reach the tender stage, remove the pot from the heat and add in the butter and cheese. Mix it up real good. You want that melted cheese to be in every bite.

cheesy grits

Add in the cheese and butter.

Now, comes the hard part. You need to let it rest for 5 minutes. I know, I know, it’s hard. Your patience will be rewarded.

Cheesy Tomato Grits

Tomato Cheese Grits

Now, pour it into a dish and serve!

Here’s a bonus for you! If you add in a whole, 4 oz can of diced green chiles when you add in the tomatoes & grits, you’ll have Chile Cheese Tomato Grits. Just as yummy!

Tomato Cheese Grits
Author: 
Recipe type: side dish
Cuisine: southern American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8 generously
 
A super easy side dish that makes great use out of grits, a southerner's pantry staple.
Ingredients
  • 4 cups of vegetable broth
  • 1 cup quick cooking grits
  • 2 large tomatoes – ½ inch dice
  • 1½ cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
Instructions
  1. In a 2 qt pan, bring the broth to a boil. While it's heating, dice the tomatoes.
  2. When the broth reaches a boil, mix in the diced tomatoes, the teaspoon of salt and the grits.
  3. Return to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, stirring often, for 15 to 20 minutes. As it cooks, shred the cheese.
  4. When the grits are tender, remove from heat and add in the tablespoon of butter and the cheese. Stir to combine. Let stand 5 minutes, then plate and serve.
  5. Bonus version: For chile cheese grits, when you are adding the tomatoes and grits, also add in one whole 4 oz can of diced green chiles. Finish recipe as written.

 

Rainbow Chard

Rainbow Chard

Rainbow chard

Isn’t this pretty

 

The nice thing about the produce co-op, is we get exposed to new stuff. Good stuff. This week’s new stuff was Rainbow Chard. It was new to me, anyway. I’ve seen it in the market but shied away from it. What was this technicolor mutant celery? It looked like rhubarb gone wild. I’m not a fan of rhubarb, so, no way was I going to try this stuff. Well, since I’m typing this, we all know I lied. I did try this stuff. And this stuff is good. The stalks cooked tender and the leaves had a peppery bite to them that I really liked. Chard is quite healthy for you! A half cup serving of chard packs in 28% of your RDA of Vitamin A, 26% of Vitamin C, 22 % Magnesium and 20 % of the iron you need.  So, don’t be like me and fear the chard. Embrace it. Then, clean it and eat it.

Today, for you, I will prepare Pasta with Rainbow Chard and White Beans.

pasta, rainbow chard and beans

Dinner’s ready!

 

You will need, hmm, PASTA! Any kind will do. Chard don’t care. I used Campanelle. They look like little flowers. Nice.

chard ingredients

Your dinner fixings.

Then you’ll need cherry tomatoes, garlic, cannellini beans, some shaved or grated parmesan cheese, crushed red pepper flakes, and some pretty, rainbow chard.

Cook the pasta according to the box directions. Drain, toss with a little olive oil to prevent sticking and set aside.

campanelle pasta

campanelle pasta

 

Swirl some oil in a pan and toss in the quartered cherry tomatoes.

Cherry tomatoes, quartered

quartered cherry tomatoes

Saute them for about 2 minutes, then add the garlic. Cook for another minute.

rainbow chard

So colorful.

Add in the chard stems and cook, covered for three minutes.

Then, pile on the chard leaves. Really, pile them all in, they’ll cook down to nothing.

Chard leaves

That’s a big pile of chard!

Cover and cook two minutes until they wilt down some. Uncover and add in the beans, red pepper flakes. Sprinkle on the salt & pepper.

add the white beans

add the white beans and spices.

Keep the cover off and cook, stirring occasionally, until the leaves are fully wilted, about another three minutes.

Pour the cooked pasta in a large serving dish and top with the chard and bean mixture. Toss to combine fully. Top with shaved cheese.

bowl of pasta chard and beans

Big bowl of pasta, chard and beans

Sprinkle a little more cheese on each serving, just because you can.

pasta, chard and white beans

Good stuff!

 

Rainbow Chard
Author: 
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Vegetarian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
A tasty dish of pasta and rainbow chard with white beans.
Ingredients
  • 12 ounce box of pasta
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 2 bunches rainbow chard, stems and leaves separated and cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 15.5-ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • ½ teaspoon each of salt and pepper
  • ¼ cup shaved Cabot monterey jack cheese
Instructions
  1. Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain. Return to pot, toss with 1 teaspoon oil and keep warm.
  2. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and cook about 2 minutes. Stir in the chard stems and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the chard leaves, packing them down, Cover and cook until partially wilted, about 2 minutes. Remove the cover and fold in the cannellini beans, ½ teaspoon each of salt & pepper, the red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, until the chard leaves are tender, another 3 minutes..
  3. Place the cooked pasta in a large serving bowl and top with the chard mixture. Toss to combine. Sprinkle shaved cheese on top.

 

Red Dragon Pie

Red Dragon Pie

Red Dragon Beans

Aduki beans

Beans. We don’t give them enough respect. They’re easy to grow and available year around. Fresh, frozen, canned or dried. So many varieties. Limas, lentils, kidney, black eyed, garbanzo, soy and many, many more.

Not only are beans good for your heart, they also contain saponin compounds that appear to protect cells from cancer causing damage. Cancer facts. Women who eat beans two or more times a week have a lower risk of developing breast cancer. They’re full of flavonols for antioxidant activity and fiber for, well, you know what fiber does. Beans are on the low end of the glycemic chart, so are better for diabetics. Dark beans have the added bonus of being loaded with iron. Beans – is it any wonder they’re called the magical fruit?

This recipe pairs dried aduki beans with rice to form a complete protein. Throw in a mashed potato topping, covered in cheese and man, you’ve got it made. The aduki bean is also called the red dragon bean. If you eat them, you are blessed with the strength of a dragon. Couldn’t hurt, could it. Then, you could really mean this – Meddle thee not in the affairs of dragons, for thou art crunchy and tasteth good with ketchup!

Crunch, crunch.

slice out of a Red Dragon Pie

Red Dragon Pie

Let’s get to cookin’! Start with a ½ cup of beans in four cups of salted water. Bring to a boil and simmer for one hour. After they have simmered for 20 minutes, add in ¼ cup of brown rice and stir. Continue cooking until the beans are tender and the rice cooked. Drain over a bowl to save the broth. You’ll need to save one cup of broth.

aduki beans and brown rice

cooked aduki beans & brown rice

On to the mashed potatoes. Peel and dice up 4 medium to large potatoes. Add to a pot and cover with salted water. Boil until tender. Drain and return to the pot. Add some butter and cream. Mash away! If you like some lumps, leave some lumps. Lumps mean it’s real stuff, man.

mashed potatoes

mashed potatoes

Heat a large fry pan over medium heat. Pour in a little oil and add in a diced carrot, diced onion and some quartered white mushrooms.

Sauteed carrots, onions and mushrooms

Sauteed vegetables

Saute for about 5 minutes until they’re softened. Add in the beans and rice mixture. Sprinkle with the italian herbs. Add in the tamari sauce, the tomato paste and chili sauce.

condiments

Flavor!

Tomato paste in a tube. The world is a marvelous place. Pour in the reserved bean stock. Mix it all up. Add in some pepper and salt, if it needs any more salt. Simmer for 20 minutes, or until the juice is absorbed.

dragon beans and rice mix

Mix it all up.

Preheat your oven to 350º. Get out a nine inch pie dish and butter the sides and bottom. Spread the bean mixture in a even layer over the bottom.

dragon bean mix

layer the bean mix

Spread a layer of mashed potatoes over that, covering the beans completely and sealing to the edges with the mashed potatoes.

layer of mashed potatoes

add a layer of mashed potatoes

Lick potato spoon.

Shred 1 cup of cheese. I used fontina but you can use any hard cheese. Cheddar would be dandy! Sprinkle the cheese all over the top of the dish.

top with shredded cheese

top with shredded cheese

Bake for 30 minutes at 350º. If the top is not nicely browned after that time, run it under the broiler for a few minutes. You just gotta have a crunchy, toasty, cheesy pie top. You just have to!

Aduki Cottage Casserole

Toasty goodness!

Red Dragon Pie
Author: 
Recipe type: casserole
Cuisine: vegetarian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
A savory sheppard type pie featuring aduki beans.
Ingredients
  • ½ cup dry aduki beans
  • ¼ cup brown rice
  • 4 medium to large potatoes. Butter & cream to mash.
  • 1 cup shredded fontina cheese
  • ½ cup carrot, quartered, then diced
  • ¾ cup diced yellow or white onion
  • 1 - 8oz package whole white mushrooms, cut into quarters
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp mixed dried italian herbs
  • 1 Tbsp chilli sauce
  • 2 Tbsp tamari soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 cup of aduki/rice stock - reserved
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. In a medium sauce pan combine ½ cup of aduki beans in four cups of salted water. Bring to a boil and simmer for one hour. After they have simmered for 20 minutes, add in ¼ cup of brown rice and stir. Continue cooking the remaining 40 minutes, until the beans are tender and the rice cooked. Drain over a bowl to catch the stock. You'll need to save one cup of stock.
  2. Peel and chop 4 medium to large potatoes. Add to a pot and cover with salted water. Boil until tender. Drain and return to the pot. Add some butter and cream. Mash them up.
  3. Heat a large skillet pan over medium heat. Pour in the oil and add in the diced carrot, diced onion and quartered white mushrooms. Saute for about 5 minutes until they're softened. Add in the drained bean and rice mixture.
  4. Sprinkle with the italian herbs. Add in the tamari sauce, the tomato paste and chili sauce. Pour in the reserved bean stock. Mix it all up. Add pepper and salt to taste. Simmer for 20 minutes, or until the juice is absorbed.
  5. Preheat your oven to 350º.
  6. Get out a nine inch pie dish and butter the sides and bottom. Spread the bean mixture in a even layer over the bottom. Spread a layer of mashed potatoes over that, covering the beans completely and spread to the edges.
  7. Sprinkle the shredded cheese over the top of the dish. Bake for 30 minutes at 350º.
  8. If the top is not nicely browned after that time, run it under the broiler for a few minutes.

 

Flaky Vegetable Squares or Vegetables en Croute

An Elegant Vegetarian Thanksgiving Entree

Flaky Vegetable Squares

Vegetables en Croute

I bet you thought I’d forgot about this. I didn’t. See, funny things happen when you try to shoot photos for a blog. The colors don’t always come out right. Or a bug appears in the middle of your plate. Or, as with me, you’re just not happy. Not with the pictures, not with the recipe. So, you start over. You work on the recipe. Fix it three times in two weeks. Oh, how my family suffers for my art. They have to eat all the mistakes and practice recipes. They suffer, I tell you!

Assemble all your ingredients.

Flaky vegetable squares ingredients

Flaky vegetable squares ingredients

Or most of them. I always seem to forget something.

Chop up the cauliflower. Count out 20 florets and set aside in a small bowl. Not 19 or 21 florets, 20!

20 cauliflower florets

Put the rest of the cauliflower into a large bowl. Clean and slice the leek. You’ll need 5, one inch slices. Put those in the large, cauliflower bowl. Drizzle them with olive oil, some salt and pepper and give a toss. Spread them out on a large baking sheet.

cauliflower on tray

Ready to roast

Now, cut the tops off of the garlic heads, place on foil square, and drizzle with 1/2 tsp oil.

Garlic heads

Garlic heads

Wrap the foil around the garlic. Put the garlic on the pan with the cauliflower and roast in a 425º oven for 30 – 45 minutes. Flip them all over at the halfway mark, so they get nice and browned on both sides. Don’t flip the garlic. All the oil will spill out and you don’t want that to happen. After the leeks and cauliflower are browned and tender, remove the pan from the oven and set it aside to cool.

Roast cauliflower and leeks

Roast leeks and cauliflower

Open the foil around the garlic so it can cool some, too.

Oven roast garlic

Oven roast garlic

I turn my oven off after I pull the pan out. It takes another 20 minutes of preparation before you’ll be ready for it again, so if you want to keep it on or turn it off, it’s up to you. While the garlic is still warm, squeeze garlic pulp from each clove into a food processor.

work bowl

roasted veg in processor

Add cauliflower mixture and 1 tsp Tamari soy sauce, and puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. Set the puree aside.

Cauliflower puree

Cauliflower puree

You can do all this part ahead of time and put the puree in the fridge until you are really to continue with the dish. Just pull it out, so it can come to room temperature while you are working on the rest of the recipe. This would be a great time to get the puff pastry out of the refrigerator, too.

Chop the head of broccoli into florets. Halve the carrot lengthwise, then cut into half moons. Take the remaining leek part, cut in half lengthwise, and then into 1/4 inch strips. Pile all this into a bowl and dump in the mushrooms.

vegetables

ready to sautee

Place a large fry pan on the stove over medium high heat. Swirl in the oil and dump in the mixed vegetables and stir fry. While they are cooking, combine the wine, cornstarch, Tamari soy sauce, thyme, salt, & pepper, in small bowl and stir until cornstarch has dissolved.

wine and cornstarch mix

wine and cornstarch mixture

When the veggie mix is fork tender and browned, after about 5 to 7 minutes, pour in the cornstarch mixture and stir a couple of minutes until thickened. Remove from stove and let cool.

vegetables with sauce

vegetables with sauce

Remove a large roasted red pepper from the jar. Spread it out and pat dry. Cut into 16 thin strips. Set aside.

sliced roast red pepper

sliced roast red pepper

Now, unfold the puff pastry on a work surface. Roll it flat into a 12 inch square. Cut the square into 4 smaller squares and put on a lined baking sheet. Chill the dough for 15 minutes to get ready for the next step. Heat your oven to 425º.

various filling stages

puree, then vegetables, then pepper strips

Spread 1/4 cup of the cauliflower puree in the center of each pastry. Top the puree with a scoop of the vegetable mix. Arrange 2 red pepper strips on each pastry, laying one strip from top to bottom and the other from side to side.

floding

First fold, corner to corner

Fold corners of pastry squares over vegetable filling and into center, pinching corners to seal.

folding

Second fold, corner to corner

Brush pastry squares with a lightly beaten egg-white

pastry egg wash

egg wash on pastry

and bake for 12 -15 minutes until they are nice a browned. Let rest for 5 minutes. Now, go wow your guests with your magnificent Vegetables en Croute!

Vegetables en Croute

Flaky vegetable squares

Flaky Vegetable Squares or Vegetables en Croute
Author: 
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Vegetarian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
Tender roasted vegetables wrapped in a flaky pastry.
Ingredients
  • 1 large head cauliflower (2 to 3 lbs), cut into small florets, divided, setting aside 20 florets.
  • 1 head broccoli, cut into small florets. About 2 cups of florets.
  • 1 large carrot, halved lengthwise, then cut into half moons.
  • 1 8oz pkg sliced white mushrooms.
  • 1 leek. Clean the leeks. Cut off the root bottom and the dark green leaves, so you end up with the white and light green parts only. Slice into 5 - 1 inch rounds, set aside. Slice the remainder in half lengthwise, and then into ¼ inch strips.
  • 1 large roasted red pepper from jar. Pat dry and slice into 16 thin strips. Use as many peppers as necessary.
  • 3 Tbs. plus ½ tsp. olive oil, divided
  • salt and ground black pepper, as needed
  • 2 heads garlic
  • 2 tsp Tamari soy sauce, divided
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 1 Tbs cornstarch
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves, stripped off the stems
  • 1 17.3-oz pkg frozen puff pastry, thawed (2 sheets)
  • 1 egg white, beaten, for brushing dough
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425ºF. Set aside 20 cauliflower florets in bowl. Toss remaining cauliflower florets and 5 leek rounds with 1 Tbs oil. Season with 1 tsp salt and ¼ tsp pepper. Spread on large baking sheet. Cut tops off garlic heads, place on foil square, and drizzle with ½ tsp oil. Close foil around garlic. Place foil wrapped garlic and cauliflower loaded baking sheet in oven, and roast 30-45 minutes, stirring cauliflower halfway through cooking time, until cauliflower and leeks are browned and fork tender. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
  2. At this point, you can turn your oven off or leave it on while you prepare the rest – it will take about 20 minutes.
  3. While garlic is still warm, squeeze garlic pulp from each clove into work bowl of a food processor. Add cauliflower mixture and 1 tsp Tamari soy sauce, and puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. Set aside.
  4. Combine wine, cornstarch, remaining 1 tsp Tamari soy sauce, thyme, ¼ tsp salt, ⅛ tsp pepper, in small bowl and stir until cornstarch has dissolved. Set aside.
  5. Heat remaining 2 Tbs oil in a large skillet over medium- high heat. Add broccoli florets, carrots, reserved 20 cauliflower florets, mushrooms, and sliced leeks, and stir-fry 5-7 minutes, or until vegetables begin to brown. Add cornstarch mixture, and stir-fry 1-2 minutes more, or until most of liquid has evaporated and vegetables are coated with sauce. Remove from heat, and cool.
  6. Remove a large roasted red pepper from the jar. Spread it out and pat dry. Cut into 16 thin strips. Set aside.
  7. Meanwhile, roll each sheet of puff pastry into 12-inch square on floured work surface. Cut each sheet into 4 squares, and place on 2 parchment-lined baking sheets. Chill 15 minutes.
  8. Preheat oven to 425ºF. Spread ¼ cup cauliflower puree in a circle in center of each pastry

 

Mushroom Stew in Bread Bowls

 

vegetarian mushroom stew in bread bowls

Mushroom Stew in Bread Bowls

An easy, elegant vegetarian starter to your holiday meal.

A common reaction from your friends after they hear that you’ve gone veg, is – What do you eat? I tell them, I don’t know about you, but I eat food. What, lettuce? – I hear back. Nope, I eat hearty, healthy foods. This mushroom stew is a perfect example of that. It’s got the 3 H’s covered. Hot, Hearty & Healthy! It’s got a couple of yummys thrown in, too. Plus, it presents beautifully. So, if you want to impress your guests and family, serve them this beautiful, flavorful stew.                                                        The line up for this dish.  

Mushroom stew ingredients

Mushroom stew ingredients

 Dump the dried porcini into a bowl and add the 1 cup of boiling water. Give it a stir and set it aside to soak for 10 minutes.

dried porcini mushrooms soaking

soaking the dry porcini mushrooms

Don’t get ahead of yourself and dump that mushroom flavored liquid out. You are going to need it.

Take the Kaiser rolls, I used whole wheat, and using a serrated knife, slice the tops off. Using your fingers, pull out enough bread from the roll to make a hollowed out bowl.

Hollowed out bread rolls

Hollowed out bread rolls.

Save the pulled out bread for making stuffings or your own panko crumbs. If you can’t find Kaiser rolls, any large bun will do. You want it to be 4 to 5 inches across and at least 3 inches thick. Using a pastry brush, brush a layer of oil on the bread bowls and the tops.

oil on bread bowls

Brush on the olive oil.

Place in a 400º degree oven for about 5 minutes, until light gold and crispy. Set them aside.

toasted bread bowls

Toasted bread bowls.

Slice up all the white, shiitake and baby bella mushrooms and put in a bowl.

chopped mushrooms

Chopped white, shiitake and baby bella mushrooms.

In a large skillet over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the chopped scallions. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute, add in the diced garlic and cook, stirring for an additional 2 minutes.

sauteed scallions and garlic

Sauteed scallions and garlic.

Dump in the fresh mushrooms and cook,

cooking the mushrooms

Add in the fresh mushrooms.

stirring frequently, until the mushrooms are tender, about 5 minutes.

the cooked mushrooms

cooked and ready for the next step

Scoop the procini out of the liquid and drain on paper towels. Chop up the porcini. Strain the soaking liquid through a lined sieve.

mushroom broth

Straining the flavorful mushroom broth.

Pour the mushroom liquid to the cooked mushrooms in the pan. Add in the chopped porcini. Raise the heat to high and cook for 5 minutes.

adding tomatoes, basil, broth

Add in the tomatoes, vegetable broth, basil, salt & pepper.

Add in the chopped tomatoes, broth, basil, salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally until slightly reduced, about 5 minutes. While it’s boiling, add in the cornstarch mixture and cook, stirring until slightly thickened. About 1 minute more. Stir in the parsley. Spoon the stew into the bread bowls. Sprinkle with the shaved cheese and replace tops. Eat, enjoy!

mushroom stew

Vegetarian Mushroom Stew in a Toasted Bread Bowl.

Recipe time!

Mushroom Stew in Bread Bowls
Author: 
Recipe type: Main course
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 4 Kaiser rolls or any roll 4 to 5 inches across and 3 inches thick
  • 1 ounce package of dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil, divided
  • 2 scallions or green onions, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons finely diced garlic
  • 8 to 10 ounce package white mushrooms, sliced
  • 8 ounce package baby portabella mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 ounce package of shiitake mushrooms, sliced with stems discarded
  • 1 cup of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 cup of vegetable broth, divided
  • ¼ cup fresh basil, chopped
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 teaspoons of cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons of the vegetable broth
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • ¼ cup shaved Organic Valley swiss or Cabot monterey jack cheese for topping
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400º. Place the dried porcini mushrooms into a small bowl and pour in the boiling water. Let stand until softened, about 10 minutes.
  2. Using a serrated knife, slice the tops off the rolls. Using your fingers, carefully pull out enough bread to create a bowl like indention. Using 1 tablespoon of oil, brush the insides of the bread bowl and the undersides of the tops. Place the bread bowls and tops on a baking sheet and bake until light gold and crisp, about 5 minutes. Set aside.
  3. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to a large skillet. Using medium heat, sauté the scallions for a minute, then add the diced garlic and cook an additional 2 minutes.
  4. Add in the white, shiitake and baby portabella mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, until mushrooms are tender, about 5 minutes.
  5. Scoop the soaked porcini mushrooms out of the liquid and drain on paper towels. Coarsely chop the porcini. Strain the porcini liquid through a lined sieve and add into the pan, along with the chopped porcini. Increase the heat to high and cook 5 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes, broth, basil, salt and pepper and cook until slightly reduced, about 5 minutes. While it's boiling, add in the cornstarch mixture and cook, stirring until slightly thickened. About 1 minute. Stir in parsley. Spoon the stew into the bread bowls, sprinkle with shaved cheese and replace bread tops. Serve.

 

Brown Rice and Black Bean Stuffed Peppers

Or

Halloween Stuffed Peppers

Halloween stuffed pepper

 

You’ve seen them on Pinterest, Facebook or someplace else. Those cute stuffed peppers with a carved face, just like a little Jack O’ Lantern. Now, you’re going to see them here, too. Except, this “food with a face” you can eat! A totally vegetarian version of stuffing goes in these babies. And might I just add, a really, really tasty stuffing. I stuffed more of it in me than I did the peppers.

On to the particulars.

Gather the cast and crew.

stuffed pepper ingredients

For mini Jack O’ Lanterns, you will want to use the orange peppers. You’ll notice that a lighter one has snuck into the line up. He just doesn’t spend as much time in the tanning booth as the others.

I’m going to share one of my culinary secrets. I use frozen microwave brown rice. You’re shocked, I can tell. It’s ok, we all have our little short cuts. This is mine. Most recipes call for two cups of cooked rice and guess what? That little bag has two cups in it. Destiny, right? The ingredients are – brown rice, water. Works for me! So, pop that bag in the microwave and cook it. Set it aside to cool down while you clean the peppers.

Carefully cut the tops off the peppers and remove seeds.

Cleaned peppers

Get out your carving tools, mine was a tiny paring knife, and carve little faces into the pepper sides. Don’t hate the yellow guy.

tiny faces

tiny faces

Get out a large mixing bowl. Dump the cooled rice into it. Add in the drained and rinsed black beans.

In a dry sautee pan, over medium heat, toast your chopped walnuts.

toasted walnuts

Don’t wander off. Stay put and give these a stir after a minute. When you smell them, remove from heat and pour into the mixing bowl. Wipe out the pan, add the olive oil and the diced carrots. Saute for about 3 minutes, then add in the diced zucchini.

veggie sautee

Cook an additional 3 minutes. Remove from heat and pour into the mixing bowl. Add in the chopped parsley, the crumbled goat cheese and the Italian dressing. Salt and pepper to your liking.

mix it all up

 

Spoon the stuffing into the peppers. Fill them up and pack it in. Arrange peppers in the baking dish.

Are you lookin’ at me?

Keep the tops off for the first part of baking. Bake at 350º for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, place tops on peppers and return to oven. Bake another 30 minutes or until done.

Don’t eat me!

 

The toasty walnuts, the creaminess of the goat cheese and the crunch of the pepper. Oh my.

Join me for dinner?

 

Brown Rice and Black Bean Stuffed Peppers

 

Serves: 4           Prep time: 20 min       Bake time: 50 min

 

Ingredients:

 

  • 4 bell peppers – for Halloween, use all orange color
  • 1 pkg of microwave brown rice, cooked according to package instructions, set aside to cool.
  • 1 can black beans, 15 oz or so. Rinsed and drained
  • 3/4 cup of zucchini, diced.
  • 3/4 cup carrot, diced.
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 2 oz goat cheese
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1/4 cup Italian oil and vinegar type dressing

 

Directions:

 

Preheat oven to 350º. Spray or grease an 8 x 8 baking dish.C

Carefully cut tops off peppers and remove seeds. For Halloween, carve cute faces into pepper wall. Set aside.

Pour cooled rice in a large mixing bowl. Add in the rinsed and drained black beans.

In a dry sautee pan, over medium heat, toast chopped walnuts. It only takes a few minutes. Remove from pan and add to bowl mixture.

Wipe out pan. Add 2 teaspoons of olive oil and swirl to coat. Add in the diced carrots and sautee 2 to 3 minutes. Add in the diced zucchini. Cook 2 to 3 minutes more. Add to bowl mixture.

To the mixture in the large bowl, add the crumbled goat cheese, the chopped parsley, and the Italian dressing. Salt and pepper to taste. Stir to combine.

Using a spoon or scoop, stuff the peppers full of the mixture.

Place the stuffed peppers in the baking dish. Keep the top part of the pepper off. Bake stuffed peppers at 350º for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, place pepper caps on top and return to oven. Bake an additional 30 minutes or until done. Peppers will sag and the tops will be browned when done.


Another Holiday side dish. Scalloped potatoes and kale


scallop potato and kale gratin

scalloped potatoes and kale

 

Kale. A leafy, green, stalky, thing. I generally do not like leafy, green, stalky, things. I can narrow that down – I do not like greens. I can grow collards, mustard greens, turnip greens and cook them up just fine. Just don’t expect me to eat them. Nope, not gonna happen.

Funny thing about belonging to a produce co-op, you never know what’s going to be offered. Sometimes, it’s a bonanza for me. Hello, organic shiitake mushrooms! Other times it’s a Buh? Moment. Like kiwiberries. What are those? Well, they’re tiny, kiwi like, berries. I was shocked, I tell you. Kiwis that are a berry! My world has exploded with new and wondrous produce. Then, along came kale. And the kale cheerleaders. “You must try it. Makes delicious chips.” What is it with kale chips? Do they give you super powers? Do you get to belong to a super secret kale club? With a handshake? Try it, they said. You’ll like it, they said. So I did. Try it, that is. No secret hand shake. Dang. No chips were made either. Maybe, they do give you super powers. What is did, was find a recipe and make it my own. Now, you can make it your own, too.

The kale line up.

kale. potatoes, cheese

scalloped potatoes and kale ingredients

Rinse and shake dry the kale. Fold it in half, holding in one hand. With the other hand, pull that stem off. Nobody wants that stuff. Yuk. Now, tear the leaves into smaller pieces. Stuff them all in a larger stock pot. Add in 1/2 cup of water, cover and bring to a boil over med-high heat. Cook until the kale wilts, about 8 minutes. Drain and let cool.

cooked kale

draining the cooked kale

When cool enough to handle, squeeze the excess water out. Fluff and set aside.

Peel and slice the potatoes into thin slices. You’ll want between 4 and 5 cups of sliced potatoes.

potato and kale gratin ingredients

fluffy kale, sliced potatoes, shredded cheese, butter and garlic

A mandoline comes in handy here. I got mine at a thrift store. Amazon has some good ones, too.

Preheat your oven to 425º. Spray or grease a 2qt casserole dish. Spread half the sliced potatoes on the bottom of the dish.

potato layer

potato layer

Next, add all the kale in a layer. Top that with half the shredded cheese, all the garlic and half the butter cubes.

kale and cheese layer

kale, cheese garlic and butter

Arrange the last of the potatoes on top. Then, add the remaining cheese and butter. Salt and pepper to taste. Cover it all with a cup of milk.

scalloped kale

final layer, adding the milk

I used almond milk. Give the dish a gentle shake to settle it.

Bake for 45 minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender and the cheese has browned. Get a plate and eat that sucker up!

Scalloped kale with potatoes

Yum!

Scalloped potatoes and kale
Author: 
Recipe type: casserole
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
  • 1 pound of fresh kale or 1- 10 ounce package of frozen, thawed and squeezed dry.
  • 6 to 10 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced thin, about 4 to 5 cups.
  • 1 teaspoon of finely diced garlic
  • 1½ cups of grated Organic Valley Baby Swiss cheese
  • 4 Tablespoons cold butter, cubed
  • 1 cup milk, almond milk works for this
  • Salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. If you are using fresh kale, rinse thoroughly and shake dry. Pull kale leaves from stems and rip into smaller pieces. Put kale into a large stock pot with ½ cup of water. Cook over medium high heat for about 8 minutes or until kale wilts. Drain and let cool. When cool, squeeze dry. Fluff and set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 425º. Spray or grease a 2qt casserole dish. Layer half the potatoes in the bottom of the dish. Spread all of the kale as the next layer. Sprinkle on half the cheese and all the garlic. Dot with half the butter. Arrange the last of the potatoes on top. Then, add the remaining cheese and butter. Add salt and pepper to your liking. Pour the milk evenly over the top and gently shake to settle.
  3. Bake 45 minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender and the cheese is browned.

 

Easy side dishes to wow your Thanksgiving dinner guests! Mashed Cauliflower.

First up, a flavorful smashed cauliflower dish that will make plain, old, mashed potatoes jealous. Plus, it has the bonus of being able to travel, if you need a take & bake dish! This is by far, our favorite side dish.

Gather the cast. Cut the cauliflower into roughly 2 inch chunks. Leave the core on, it will cook just fine. If a small leaf sneaks in there, cook it, too. Rinse it off and add to a large stock pot. Add in a 1/2 cup of water and sprinkle with some salt. You want the cauliflower to steam cook. Get it to boiling over high heat and then cover, reduce heat and steam for 10 minutes or until the cauliflower is fork tender. Drain and return to pot.

Put the pot back on the still warm burner. Add in the cubed cream cheese, scallion, shredded cheddar and sour cream. Stir to melt the cheese. Grab a potato masher and mash the dickens out of it. Add salt and pepper to taste. That’s it. No butter, no milk, no kidding!

Spoon the cauliflower mixture into a greased 2qt casserole dish and top with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese. Now, you can either cover the dish and refrigerate until needed, or put this in a 350º oven and bake for 20 minutes or until it’s bubbly and the cheese has browned. Remove and garnish with the reserved scallions. How easy was that? Now, go wow your guests. smashed cauliflower

Cauli Smash

Serves: 6 Prep time: 5 min Total cook time: 30 min

Ingredients:

  • 1 large head of cauliflower
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 ounces low fat cream cheese – cubed
  • 2 ounces or 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese – divided
  • 1 scallion diced, reserve 1 tablespoon for garnish
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Heat oven to 350º. Grease a 2 qt casserole dish.

Cut cauliflower into 2 inch chunks. Rinse off. Put into a large stock pot with 1/2 cup of water and add a sprinkle of salt. Bring to boil over high heat. Cover and reduce to medium. Steam for 10 minutes or until fork tender, stirring halfway through cooking time. Drain and return to pot. Place pot on still warm burner and add the cubed cream cheese, 1/4 cup of sour cream, diced scallion and 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar cheese. Stir until cheese is melted. Using a potato masher, give it all a rough smash. If you want it really creamy, you can put it in a blender or food processor. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Spoon cauliflower mash into the greased casserole dish. Sprinkle top with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese. Bake for 20 minutes or until bubbly and cheese has browned. Remove and top with reserved scallions.

Finally Poblanos!

What was going to be a simple supper, turned into an ordeal. Right after I got started with preparations, we were hit with a humongous thunder storm! The rapid fire lightening and thunder gave us quite a show. It also cause me to have multiple, short, power outages. That makes cooking a bunch of fun! Plus, take one very storm frightened dog and you get double your fun. A calming pill, his thunder shirt, and his dad protecting him got us through. It was, to say the least, a very long night.

But, enough of that, it’s FOOD TIME!

What we have here is, roasted stuffed poblanos with polenta topped with a black bean hummus & guacamole.

Do ahead: Turn your oven to high broil. Take the washed and dried poblanos, spray them with oil and put on a foil lined baking sheet.  You’ll want to adjust the oven racks so that the top of your tallest pepper is 2 to 3 inches away from the heat. Place your tray of peppers under the broiler. As the skins start to cook, you’ll hear them popping. Don’t be afraid, that’s what it’s supposed to do. Now, you know your oven better than I do, so times will be approximate. Check them after a few minutes. If you have some nicely blistered skin, flip them over and do the other side. You want a nice char on the poblanos, Not a flambé. Do not let them catch fire. Your night will be even worse than mine. When both sides are charred,  remove tray and turn oven off. Place the peppers into paper bags. If you don’t have any bags, you can put them into a heat proof bowl and cover it. You want to let the poblanos steam the skins loose. So, bag or bowl them and walk away. Come back in 30 minutes and check to see it they are cool enough to handle. Time to peel off all that blistered pepper skin. Now the bags can multi task. It’s a good place to pile all the skin that you peel off the peppers. The skin should come off easily. If you have some tough spots, don’t fret about it. Leave them on.  The next step is to open the peppers up and remove the seed cap. I use scissors for this. I just find that it’s easier. Cut half way across the cap at the top, then cut down, lengthwise of the pepper, almost to the end. You are making a T shaped cut. Open up the pepper, trimming the side wall veins as needed. Cut the seed pod off at the stem. Leave the stem part. Set them in a greased 9 x 13 pan and get ready for the next step.

Gather your ingredients. Most people stuff their poblanos with beans, jalapeños, tomatoes and onions. I say – Hey, all stuff is in this handy, dandy can of hoppin’ John. So, I use them. Open and drain the canned beans. Toss them into a bowl with the cumin, cilantro and lime juice.  Mix it up.

Open the pack of Queso Blanco. This is a soft white cheese that won’t melt. If you like fried cheese, this will hold up to the heat. I like the soft cheese and not the melty kind for this. If you want melty cheese, use quesadilla cheese or monterey jack. Cut the cheese into strips. Lay a couple of strips on the bottom of the open pepper. Add a couple of spoonfuls of the hoppin John mix. Don’t over pack the peppers. Fold the sides of the peppers closed and add a couple of the cheese slices.

Fire up the broiler again on high. Broil the poblanos a couple of inches away from the heat, until the cheese is browned. Remember, it won’t melt. The peppers cooked when you blistered them, so all you want to do is heat the food and brown the cheese.

Now, we move onto the polenta rounds topped with black bean hummus and guacamole.

The ingredients for this dish. Rinse and drain the black beans, reserving 1/4 cup of bean liquid. Put beans into the work bowl of a food processor. Add in the chopped cilantro, diced garlic, olive oil, the chipotle pepper from the adobo sauce, cumin and lime juice. Hummus recipes call for tahini, a sesame seed paste. That stuff is expensive and hard to find around here so I do what my son taught me. I use peanut butter. I can’t tell the difference. Add the peanut butter in, too.Process the mixture into a moist paste. If it seems to dry to you, add some of the reserved bean liquid. You want it to have a soft, moist dip like quality. Scoop it into a bowl and garnish with some chopped cilantro.

My produce co-op offers these tubes of prepared polenta in different flavor varieties. I get them because they’re convenient and easy to use. Open it over a dish because they’re water packed. Remove wrapper and slice the tube into 1/2 inch slices.  Place the slices into a fry pan coated with 1 tablespoon of oil. Fry over med-high heat until browned, flip and fry the other side. Drain on paper towels.

Plating time. Place a poblano on the plate and put two polenta rounds beside it. Top with some black bean hummus and a scoop of guacamole. Yum!

Roast Stuffed Poblano Peppers

Serves: 4 Prep time: 30 min Cook time: 5 min

Ingredients:

  • 4 large poblano peppers
  • 2 cans of Margaret Holmes Hoppin’ John, drained.
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • juice of one lime

Directions:

Coat poblanos with cooking spray, place on tray and broil until skin is charred all over. Remove and place in paper bags to steam. When cool, peel away outer skin and cut pepper open. Start with a T cut across the top and continue lengthwise until almost the bottom tip of the pepper. Cut off seed pod, leaving top intact. Set pepper aside in a greased 9 x 13 backing dish.

Put drained hoppin’ John in a bowl. Add in the chopped cilantro, cumin and lime juice. Mix well.

Open and slice Queso Blanco cheese into strips. Place two strips of cheese into the bottom of each opened poblano. Fill pepper with hoppin John mixture, careful to not overfill. Fold poblano sides up and top with two more cheese slices.

Turn oven on to Hi-broil. Place peppers into oven a couple of inches from heat source. Broil Five minutes or until cheese is browned. It will not melt. Serve and enjoy.

Black Bean Hummus

Makes about 4 cups

Ingredients:

  • 2 – 15 ounce cans black beans, drained, reserving 1/4 cup of liquid
  • 3 Tablespoons creamy peanut butter
  • 1 pepper from a can of chipotle poppers in adobo sauce
  • 2 teaspoons diced garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon cumin
  • the juice of one lime

Directions:

Place drained black beans into the work bowl of a food processor. Add in the peanut butter, cilantro, chipotle pepper, garlic, cumin and lime juice. Process until smooth. If too dry, add in the reserved bean liquid. Salt and pepper to taste.

Simple Guacamole

Ingredients:

  • 2 avocados
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 scallion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon diced garlic
  • Juice of one lime
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Slice avocados in half, removing and discarding pit. Holding avocado, run a knife tip lengthwise and then across – without cutting through the peel – dividing it into little cubes. Using a spoon, scoop the cubes out into a bowl. Repeat with remaining halves. Using a fork or masher, give the avocados a rough mash. Leave some cubes whole.

Add remaining ingredients into the bowl. Mix well. Salt and pepper to taste.

 

More mushrooms?

We eat a lot of mushrooms around here. We eat a lot of everything. Eating is good.

And since I’m a good eater, I’m sharing another mushroom recipe. This is a hearty, stick to your ribs, dish. Perfectly suited for those cooler nights. For any night!

Gather your ingredients. I used wheat noodles this time. Sometimes, I use the no-yolk kind.

Strip the thyme off the stems. Chop the shallots. (or like me, spoon them out of the jar) Depending on the size of your mushrooms, either cut them in halves or quarter them. Measure out a cup of the low fat sour cream and cut off 4oz. of the low fat cream cheese. In a large sauté pan over medium high heat, melt the butter. Dump in the shallots and the mushrooms. Cook for roughly 5 to 7 minutes, or until the shallots are clear and the mushrooms tender. Add the wine ( I used a delicious Pino Grigio) and swirl it around. Using a spatula, scrape up all the little yummy bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Add the thyme, salt and pepper. Simmer uncovered until the wine has almost cooked off. Give it a stir a couple of times for good measure. Now, scoot all the mushroom mixture to one side of the pan. Add the sour cream & cream cheese.Let it soften a bit, then combine it with the mushrooms. If it seems a little dry, add some hot pasta water. You want it nice and creamy. Plate up some noodles and top with the stroganoff. Eat, enjoy.

Mushroom Stroganoff

Serves: 4   Prep time: 20 min.    Cook time: 20 min

Ingredients

  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 16 oz baby bella mushrooms
  • 2 whole shallots (sliced)
  • 1 cup low fat sour cream
  • 4 oz low-fat cream cheese or neufchatel cheese
  • ½ cups white wine
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 10 – 12 oz package of wide egg noodles

Preparation Instructions

Prepare egg noodles according to package directions. Reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water. Keep warm.

Trim stems of mushrooms. Cut the mushrooms in halves or quarters depending on size.

Place large sauce pan on stove over medium-high heat.

Add the butter and melt.

Add shallots and the mushrooms. Cook about 5 minutes, or until the shallots are clear and the mushrooms are tender.

Add the wine and stir the pan, scraping up any stuck on bits. Add the thyme and black pepper.

Cook down the wine until the pan is almost dry. Push the mushroom mix to one side of the pan. Add the cream cheese and sour cream. Allow the heat up and soften. Blend together. Cook until hot and bubbly. Add reserved hot pasta water – if necessary – by the tablespoon until desired creaminess is reached.

Enjoy!