Sunday, June 29, 2014

Pasta with Mushrooms and Artichokes

The night before Thanksgiving I knew I had to make a pasta dish for carbo loading purposes. While we weren't with the whole family at the Cincinnati Thanksgiving 10k, we did run the 5k in Boise (plus I added another 3.1 around the block to get the true T-day 10k feeling). It was my first time pushing Violet in the jogging stroller during a race and we had so much fun together. The Boise race was dog friendly so she was entertained as we ran past them and they ran past us.

While I'm a marinara lover through and through, I didn't want something so acidic before the race. I found this pasta dish from Giada DeLaurentiis that included mushrooms, artichokes AND marsala, three of my absolute favorites. The only changes I made were reducing the cream/using half and half and I used marinated grilled artichokes for a bit more flavor in the sauce. If you haven't tried these artichokes, I highly recommend you do, they were amazing!

Pasta with Mushrooms and Artichokes
slightly adapted from Giada DeLaurentiis

3 tbsp.. olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 lb. mushrooms, cleaned and chopped
Kosher salt
1 c. dry Marsala wine
1 lb. short cut pasta
1 jar of grilled artichokes in marinade
3/4 c. grated parmesan
1/2 c. half and half
chopped flat leaf parsley
1 tsp. fresh black pepper
Crushed red pepper flakes, if desired

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add salt and drop in pasta, cook to al dente, drain and set aside.
Heat olive oil in a large, deep skillet over medium heat.
Add onion and cook for a minute, add mushrooms and saute' until water has evaporated and mushrooms have cooked down, about 10 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper, add Marsala and continue cooking until half the wine has evaporated.
Add pasta, artichokes, half of the parmesan and half and half to the skillet, toss with the mushrooms to mix and heat through.
Top with remaining parmesan, parsley and crushed red pepper flakes.

***Stop back every day until Christmas Eve for 12 new cookie recipes!***

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Mushroom Stout Pie with Potato Biscuits

We've had a few dreary, rainy days this week in Boise so I jumped at what is probably my last chance to make a warm and hearty stew before summer really sets in. I have truly embraced the potato while living out here, so potato biscuits were right up my alley. The filling was hearty and filling but very healthy. The recipe is written for either kidney beans or tofu, so I decided on kidney beans as I always have them in the pantry but rarely find much use for them outside of Minestrone and Veggie Burgers.

Mushroom Stout Pie with Sweet Potato Biscuits
adapted from  Post Punk Kitchen 

3 c. vegetable stock
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 large onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
8 oz. cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 tsp. dried rosemary
2 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 lb carrots, peeled and sliced
10 oz. stout beer 
2 tbsp. tomato paste
Fresh black pepper
1/2 c. AP flour
3 c cooked kidney beans

for the biscuits
1 1/2 c. AP flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 c. mashed sweet potato (baked off the previous night, fork mashed)
3 tbsp. olive oil
3/4 c. nonfat buttermilk

Preheat a Dutch oven over medium heat, saute' onions in olive oil until translucent, about 5 minutes.
Add a pinch of salt and garlic, cook for one minute and stir to ensure garlic doesn't burn.
Add mushrooms, celery, thyme, rosemary and saute' for an additional 5-7 minutes, until mushrooms begin to brown and release liquid.
Add carrots, stout, tomato paste, pepper and salt, bring to a simmer and reduce liquid by half, add vegetable stock and cover. Simmer for five minutes.
Mix flour into one cup of cold water with a fork, be sure there are no lumps. Slowly add to pot, whisking with a fork. Add the kidney beans and stir well, turn heat off and keep covered. 
Preheat oven to 425*
Make biscuits - sift flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. 
In another bowl, use a fork to mix potatoes, olive oil and buttermilk. 
Make a well in the flour bowl and add potato mixture, mix gently with a fork until dough forms, knead a few times but be careful to not overmix. 
Drop heaping spoonfulls of dough onto stew around the pot.
Bake for 25 minutes, until biscuits are puffy and stew is bubbly.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Vegetarian Buffalo "Chicken" and Spiced Brown Sugar Waffles

Well I can't believe it's been 4 months since I blogged last! Where has the time gone? Due to a new job, no daylight for photographing food, writing two novels, editing said novels and just overall being burnt out, this blog obviously took a hiatus. Oh, and Trader Joe's opened so I fell victim to the ease of delicious prepared food. However, I am taking a break from their Spelt Risotto and Sweet Potato Gnocci to start cooking a bit more from scratch. If you're still with me, thank you :) I appreciate your readership!

I probably first heard of chicken and waffles when I moved to North Carolina for college, and it seemed so weird to me. We rarely had fried chicken growing up, and our waffles were always at breakfast smothered in syrup and fruit. However, I saw them recently in a magazine and decided the sweet and savory combo sounded fantastic. I try to limit our fake meat consumption to once a week, and Trader Joe's chickenless fingers are my husbands favorite fake meat. We love any and all Buffalo chicken combinations, so I figured using a sweeter waffle then dousing these with buffalo sauce would taste great.

I used this recipe for Spiced Brown Sugar Waffles from Williams-Sonoma for the waffle portion of this meal as it turned up in a search for sweeter waffles. These waffles were delicious, just sweet enough with a hint of spice. They take a few extra steps, but it's worth it for a crisp outside and fluffy inside. If you decide to go with a traditional waffle, you may want to drizzle some maple syrup along with buffalo sauce, or skip the buffalo sauce all together (but....don't). My husband liked to make his waffle and chicken into a sort of taco, but these were delicious any way you make them. I served these with a bacon-less wedge salad on the side.

Vegetarian Buffalo "Chicken" and Spiced Brown Sugar Waffles

1 package chickenless chicken nuggets or tenders
1/2 c. buffalo sauce
4 waffles, recipe below

3 eggs, separated
1 3/4 c. buttermilk
1 stick butter, melted (or canola oil, I used 50/50)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 3/4 c. unbleached all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 c. firmly packed brown sugar

Cook chickenless tenders according to package directions. 
While chicken cooks, prepare waffles.
Preheat waffle iron to medium-high heat.
Whisk together egg yolks, buttermilk, butter and vanilla.
Sift flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and sugar together, stir into wet mixture .
In another bowl, beat egg whites until peaks form, fold into other mixture until just incorporated.
Grease waffle iron, spoon batter onto iron (about 1/3-1/2 c. depending on iron) and cook until golden, about 5-6 minutes.
Keep warm on a plate covered with foil until serving. 
Serve with chickenless tenders, a drizzle of buffalo sauce and maple syrup, if desired.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Red Velvet Shortbread Cookies

As I was browsing cookie recipes on the Better Homes and Garden's website (how I got there, I have no idea!) I saw this recipe and knew it would be perfect for my dad. His favorite cookies tend to be shortbread or my un-iced gingerbread men/sugar cookies. His favorite nut is the pistachio, and these suggest dipping the cookie in either sprinkles or pistachios. I did make two versions, one with sprinkles and one with pistachios. 

The red velvet aspect makes it more festive and the subtle hint of cocoa powder makes them taste just like red velvet cake. If you don't have time to make them for Christmas, they'd also be perfect for Valentine's Day! (I doubled this recipe the first time, then tripled it the second, you will get about 15-18 cookies per single recipe below)

Red Velvet Shortbread Cookies
directions rewritten, recipe from Better Homes and Gardens

1 1/4 c. all purpose flour
1/3 c. sugar
2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 c. butter
1 tbsp. red food coloring
3 oz. white chocolate, chips or chopped
Finely chopped pistachios (about 1/2 c.) or nonpareils (about 2 tbsp.)

Cream butter and sugar, add salt cocoa powder and red food coloring, mix well.
Gently fold in flour until it is absorbed. 
Lay a piece of plastic wrap out and form dough into a log, tightly wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 325*
Line a cookie sheet with parchment.
Slice cookies 1/4" wide and place 2" apart on cookie sheet.
Bake for 18-20 minutes, until puffed and set, cool on a wire rack to room temperature. 
Melt white chocolate in a small dish, dip cookies in chocolate and then sprinkle with nuts or nonpaerils, lay on plastic wrap to dry, about an hour. 
Place in an airtight container for up to a week.

Black and White Cookies

For a few years I've been wanting to make black and white cookies but they seemed intimidating. They're the kind of thing that if you screw it up, people will notice. They have such a distinct flavor and look and when they're good, they're GOOD. They're more of a cake-cookie than a hard, sturdy cookie and the secret getting the perfectly flat top is flipping them over and icing the bottom!

My older sister is a big black and white cookie fan so I decided to bite the bullet and try out black and whites for her Christmas cookie package. I used Smitten Kitchen's recipe and steps exactly so I would not mess up a single step. I'm not going to rewrite them because they're long and involved, I'll just give you a link to the recipe. Make these! Make them now! Smitten Kitchen's Black and White Cookies

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Fruitcake Cookies

Starting in late October, I create a document where I copy and paste Christmas cookie ideas for the year. I generally try to make about 6-8 of the old favorites and 6-8 new cookies. Since my Kitchenaid mixer didn't make it to Boise, along with my rolling pin, silpat, cookie cutters and a few other baking essentials, I had to rethink the list. While I normally make Gingerbread men cut outs, sugar cookie Christmas trees, chocolate sugar cookie snowflakes and spritz cookies, they weren't an option this year.

As I was noting recipes I thought to myself how it would be fun to make a certain cookie that each member of my family would really like. So over the next few days you'll see different cookies that I made hoping to make each family member feel extra special!

First up is my husband! He is one of the only people I know who love fruitcake. Seriously... So when I saw these Ina cookies I knew they'd be a hit with him. I made a few small changes to the original recipe. First, I couldn't get dried figs at the store and I didn't feel like trying another so I used dates. Turns out my husband prefers dates! Next, I soaked the fruit/nuts in Bourbon rather than sherry. Lastly I left out the candied cherries and used dried cherries instead. Do not be afraid of these cookies, yes Fruitcake is a polarizing thing, but they're so good! They plethora of dried fruit and nuts is just lightly held together with a brown sugary dough, totally delicious!

Fruitcake Cookies
loosely based on Ina Garten's recipe 

1 c. diced dried dates
1 c. diced dried apricots
1/2 c. golden raisins
1/2 c. dried cherries, chopped
1/2 c. dried cranberries
3 tbsp. Bourbon
1 tbsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 tbsp. lemon zest
3/4 c. chopped pecans
1 c. butter, softened
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
2/3 c. light brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
2 2/3 c. all purpose flour

Toss dried fruit and pecans in a bowl, drizzle with bourbon, lemon juice and zest, add a pinch of kosher salt.
Cover and let fruit sit overnight at room temperature.
Cream butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl.
Add egg and cloves, mix well.
Add flour and mix until it is just combined, do not overmix.
Add fruit mixture and gently fold to distribute evenly.
Chill dough for at least one hour.
Preheat oven to 350*
Scoop dough by heaping tablespoons full into palms, roll into a ball then gently flatten into a disc, place 2" apart on a parchment lined cookie sheet.
Bake for 15-17 minutes until golden brown.
Cool on a metal rack and store in an airtight container for up to a week.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

White Cheddar Beer Mac and Cheese

(from my Instagram: ashmelzorn)

Back in October when my family took a trip to Oregon we visited Deschutes Brewery in Bend, Oregon. We began our meal with their Beer Cheese and pretzel dip which was insanely memorable. The cheese was a melted white cheddar laced with beer and there was coarse stone ground mustard rimming the bowl. When you swiped the pretzel through the mustard and into the cheese it was phenomenal. When it came time to make our Thanksgiving menu, I mentioned turning the beer cheese dip into a mac and cheese. I've had mac and cheese with mustard powder as an ingredient in the past, so I knew if I kept it subtle we'd have a winning dish.  

(Thanksgiving plate, mac and cheese is at twelve o'clock)

I used somewhat local Tillamook White Cheddar, which is delicious. We chose the Fat Tire Amber Ale because I'm not a fan of IPAs, which the dip used (we bought a 6-pack so I didn't want to get shorted out of the leftover beer!) This mac and cheese got better with each plate of leftovers! The beer taste was a little stronger and we declared it the best mac and cheese I've ever made!

White Cheddar Beer Mac and Cheese
Veggie by Season original

12 oz. short cut pasta (we used shells)
Kosher salt
2 tbsp. butter
1/2 large or 1 small yellow onion, minced
Black pepper
3 tbsp. flour
1 c. beer of choice
1 c. 2% milk
2 tbsp. coarse ground mustard (I like inglehoffer from World Market)
12 oz. fresh grated sharp white cheddar

Preheat oven to 400*
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt and add pasta, cook to al dente, about 8-10 minutes.
Heat a shallow skillet over medium-low heat, melt butter and add onions
Saute' onions for 2-3 minutes, until translucent, season with salt and black pepper.
Add flour, whisk to cook for a minute then turn heat up to medium-high.
Add beer, whisk flour clumps into beer and reduce liquid by half.
Add milk and bring mixture to a simmer, turn heat off.
Add mustard and cheese, use a spatula and stir using a figure-eight motion.
Taste cheese sauce and add more salt and pepper if necessary.
Drain pasta and pour into a baking dish, add cheese sauce and stir well to combine.
Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until desired brownness and crunch.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Whiskey Apple Soda

'Twas the week of Thanksgiving and I'm not with my I'm drinking to dull the pain. Just kidding! I was browsing the Williams-Sonoma website for Thanksgiving recipe ideas and came across the Whiskey Apple Cider recipe. It included Bourbon (JJ's favorite) and Ginger Beer (my favorite) so I declared it the Official Cocktail of Thanksgiving 2013. Of course I had to test it out first just to be sure, and it's a winner! The bourbon is a bit strong but I always find bourbon to be strong. I diluted mine a bit with the ginger beer and loved it. I think this would also be a nice punch option if diluted a bit as well for a Fall party.

I hope everyone has a happy and safe Thanksgiving. If you want to follow my cooking you can get updates on twitter (@veggieash) and instagram (@ashmelzorn) where I've been posting some recipe trials as well as my NaNoWriMo updates - I won!

Whisky Apple Soda

 Ice as needed
2 oz. bourbon
3/4 oz apple juice/cider
1/2 oz. ginger beer
1 oz. soda water

Fill a shaker with ice, add bourbon, apple juice and ginger beer.
Shake well for 5 seconds, strain into a glass.
Top with soda water and serve immediately. 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Rosti Casserole with Baked Eggs

When I looked in the Thanksgiving grocery store circular there was an ad on the front page - 10lb. bags of Idaho Potatoes for $.99! It took everything in me to not buy ten bags, I can't pass up a good deal! I'm usually one to spend a bit more on Yukon Golds (my favorite) or small red potatoes but I've been trying to give the Russet some love. I've been reading more and more about the benefits of potatoes, even white potatoes. While we still love and eat sweet potatoes/yams often, I'm trying to incorporate more regular potatoes into our diet.

I stumbled across this recipe on the Cooking Light website and thought it would be a nice lighter meal as we gear up for Thanksgiving. The recipe calls for frozen shredded potatoes but that's not happening! I also skipped on the turnip just because I had so many potatoes to use. I cooked the eggs almost entirely through as we're not drippy yolk fans but other than that made the recipe as written. The only change I would make is to use a larger, more shallow pan to maximize crisp crust.

Rosti Casserole with Baked Eggs

10 oz. low-fat Greek yogurt (I use Fage 2% plain)
2 tbsp. unbleached all purpose flour
5 oz. grated Gruyere cheese
1 tbsp melted butter
1 1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. fresh grated nutmeg
2.5 lbs. fresh shredded potatoes (I shredded them directly into a colander, added a pinch of salt, tossed and squeezed out the moisture) or 1 30 oz. package of frozen shredded hash brown potatoes
8 large eggs
1-2 tsp Fresh or dried chives

Preheat oven to 400*
Combine yogurt and flour in a large mixing bowl, whisk well. 
Add Gruyere, butter, chives, salt, black pepper and nutmeg, whisk well. 
Add potatoes and fold until they are well coated in the yogurt mixture.
Spread evenly into a 13x9 baking dish (or larger if you want more crisp edges).
Bake for 30 minutes, or until bubble.
Remove from oven, use a spoon to create 8 divots and crack an egg into each divot.
Return to oven and bake for another 10-20 minutes, until eggs are cooked to desired doneness.
Sprinkle with fresh pepper and more chives.
Serve immediately. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Baked Samosas

I love Indian food but hate paying for take out. I've been trying more and more to make it at home but it never tastes quite as authentic. Sometimes I think my 'make your own take-out' meals aren't *as* good because I don't use butter/oil/sugar with reckless abandon the way restaurants do. My absolute favorite Indian appetizer is the Samosa. Generally they're fried dough pockets full of curried potatoes, peas and onion and they're served with a chutney of some sort. These are of course healthified by using wonton wrappers and baking rather than frying the samosas. However they still have the same delicious flavor and crunch of their less-healthy original version. 
 made a simple pear-raisin chutney and would have preferred something not so chunky. A sweet chutney condiment definitely lessens the heat and saltiness of these and adds a nice balance. I used large wonton wrappers but you could also make these bite-sized for appetizers and go with the small squares.  

Baked Samosas
adapted from Foodtv

2 large Idaho Russet potatoes
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 yellow onion, medium dice 
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 c. frozen peas
1" square nub of fresh grated ginger root
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. spicy curry powder
1/4 c. cilantro leaves, minced
1 package wonton wrappers

Mango, Date, Pear or Tamarind Chutney, if desired

Preheat oven to 400*
Wash and dry potatoes, pierce with a fork and wrap in aluminum foil.
Bake until cooked through, about 60 minutes.
Cool, peel and discard skins, then dice potatoes (they'll crumble some, it's ok), add to a large mixing bowl
Heat a skillet over medium, add oil, onions and garlic. 
Saute for 5 minutes, until softened, add cumin, coriander, salt, pepper, curry powder and peas.
Pour into mixing bowl with potatoes and gently toss to combine. 
Lay wonton wrappers out on a dry surface, keep a small bowl of water closeby
Add 1/4 c. spoonfuls to the wonton, then use finger to paint water around the edges, fold over and close.
Place on parchment lined cookie sheet.
When you're finished with all samosas, place in the oven and bake for 10-20 minutes, until golden brown and crisp. 
Serve immediately.