Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Grilled Bok Choy Salad

Without having joined a CSA, I don't think I would have ever made this recipe. Each week when I get my box of produce, I do recipe searches for some of the items I don't use on a normal basis. I've only cooked with bok choy two or three times, so I wanted to try something new. When I found this recipe, I knew it would be a huge hit! Whenever I can find a recipe or make a dish that uses multiple CSA items, it's even better, so seeing scallions on the ingredient list was a bonus.

It also seemed fateful that another ingredient this recipe called for was orange juice and segments, which we've got plenty of these days! Last weekend, my husband, Violet and I went down to his grandparents to pick some fruit from their trees. I may have a love-hate relationship with Florida, but this was definitely a "love" day! Violet loved helping harvest the fruit, and I was able to bring it to friends and family.

The red cabbage was also already on hand because when we were in Cincinnati for Thanksgiving, my dad harvested the last of his fall garden, which included several heads of broccoli and red and green cabbage. I came home with bags full of cabbage! 
Finally, this salad is topped with wasabi peas, one of my absolute favorite snacks. I never have to worry about my husband eating them, or the baby and dogs begging for some!

This salad was so flavorful and fresh, slightly warm (in both temperature and heat!) and perfect for winter. I served pan fried tofu on the side topped with a little of the extra vinaigrette to complete the meal.

Grilled Bok Choy Salad

1 head of bok choy
1 small red cabbage
2 large scallions
1 orange
1 package ramen noodles
1/4 c. cilantro leaves
1/2 c. wasabi peas
Salt and pepper
Extra virgin olive oil

1 orange, juiced (1/4 c.)
1/4 c. aged balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. sesame oil
1 tbsp. sriracha
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground mustard
1 tsp. garlic powder
Salt and pepper

Preheat a grill or grill pan to medium-high heat.
Quarter the bok choy and cabbage heads, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Place cut side down on the grill, cook for 2 minutes, then rotate and cook each additional side for 1-2 minutes.
Remove from the grill pan and set aside.
Slice scallions in half and place cut side down on the grill, cook for 1 minute, remove and set aside.
Prepare dressing by mixing all ingredients and whisking well, taste and add salt and pepper as needed.
Slice cabbage and bok choy into 1/4" strips, add to a large serving bowl.
Chop scallions, add to cabbage and toss well.
Segment the orange and arrange on top, sprinkle with cilantro and wasabi peas, for garnish.
Pour half of the dressing onto the salad, and serve with the remainder on the side.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Cherry Almond Cookies & Pistachio Spice Shortbread

Let's not act surprised that my first blog post in months is my Christmas Cookie post! I couldn't let December pass by without it, could I? This is actually round 1 of 2 or 3 cookie baking sessions. This year, I wised up and brought my Cincinnati cookie packages with me at Thanksgiving rather than spend the big bucks to mail them later in December. Who doesn't want a giant box of cookies the day after Thanksgiving?! 

I used some of my traditional favorites, and added two new ones! The lovely people at Oh! Nuts are always so kind to send bloggers (even the semi-retired bloggers) a few items each Christmas to try out in our baking. I chose dried cherries and pistachios, and made two different cookies with them. The  blue arrow is pointing to the Cherry Almond, and the lavender arrow is pointing to the Pistachio Spice Shortbread. They were both phenomenal, and I recommend them! 

I made them exactly as written, so I'll just link you to the original.

There is one other juicy bit to share with you! I have felt a bit uninspired to blog over the past few months, but I finally have my cooking muse! I joined a CSA here in Jacksonville (KYV Farm) and I am so excited to start making and creating recipes with the beautiful produce! I will also be sharing a few more cookie recipes with you as the month goes on because we have to balance all of the kale and squash out with something, right? 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Roasted Acorn Squash and Arugula Salad with Gorgonzola

I try so hard to love all vegetables equally, but acorn squash is probably my least favorite of all the squash out there. So now that we've had it three weeks in a row in the CSA basket, I figured I should find a way to love it. It's not fair to compare it to sweet and versatile butternut, easy to prep delicata, new and exciting kobocha, or pasta-sub spaghetti. It's small, hard to prep, it's earthy, the skin is tough, and it doesn't naturally scream 'use me in this recipe' unless it's stuffed - though it does make for a pretty presentation - but it's hard to eat that way.

So I did some googling and recipe searching. I came across a recipe for Acorn Squash and Gorgonzola Pizza, which sounded interesting, and used my CSA arugula! However, when the time came I just didn't get around to making pizza dough, so a salad sounded like the next easiest thing. This salad was perfect, and I absolutely loved the squash. I even found a bonus, acorn squash holds up really well to roasting, it doesn't get too soft or crumble like others can. The finishing touch to this salad, however, was a thick, syrupy pomegranate balsamic vinegar I recently was gifted. It balanced out the bitter and earthy tastes from the other ingredients perfectly!

Roasted Acorn Squash and Arugula Salad with Gorgonzola

2 acorn squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1" cubes
1 tbsp. maple syrup
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
1 large bunch of arugula
1/2 c. crumbled gorgonzola
Aged balsamic vinegar
Extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 400*
Toss squash in syrup, 1 tbsp. olive oil, salt and pepper, then arrange on a baking sheet.
Roast for 20 minutes, toss squash, and roast another 10-20 minutes, until caramelized and tender.
Arrange arugula in a salad bowl, toss with a drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkle of salt and pepper.
Remove squash from oven, cool for 5 minutes, then arrange atop arugula, sprinkle with gorgonzola and drizzle with balsamic vinegar.
Serve immediately or arugula will wilt.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Maple-Mustard Glazed Carrots

If you searched the archives of this blog, you'd find a hard time locating recipes that called for butter. While I was working really hard to lose weight, I cut calories everywhere I could. Butter and olive oil seemed like wasted calorie bombs. All I saw was 190 calories and 10 grams of fat per serving. However, as I entered more of a maintenance mode, I began to embrace things like butter, sugar, and healthy fats in small doses.

As I began cooking with butter, I realized a little goes a long way in regard to flavoring the dish and helping to caramelize vegetables. That 1 tablespoon of butter wasn't so scary when it was divided up into 4 portions, and certain vegetables became much more palatable!

When I received a bunch of gorgeous bi-colored carrots in my CSA bag, I searched one of my favorite recipe banks, the Williams-Sonoma website! I found this recipe, but swapped out maple syrup for brown sugar because I love the maple-mustard combo! These carrots were delicious, they had a great balance of flavors and are a really simple side for any meal!

Maple-Mustard Glazed Carrots
adapted from Williams-Sonoma

2 c. peeled and sliced carrots
1 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. whole grain dijon mustard
1 tbsp. pure maple syrup
salt and pepper, to taste
Herb garnish, if desired (parsley, chives, scallions)

Add carrots to a saucepan, cover with water.
Boil over high heat until water is evaporated (about 5 minutes), turn heat to low.
Add butter, mustard, maple syrup, salt and pepper. 
Stir well to combine.
Taste and adjust seasonings.
Pour into a serving dish and garnish, if desired.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Goat Cheese Mashed Turnips

Every Thanksgiving when my mom starts delegating dishes, we all smirk when Popie volunteers his mashed turnips. On any average day, most people aren't going to want mashed turnips, so when they're on the table at Thanksgiving along with a dozen other delicious sides, it's just sad. Popie ends up taking home 90% of the turnips, he and Grandma being the only ones who took a small scoop. 
When I got turnips three weeks in a row in my CSA share, I felt like I should take it upon myself to make an honorable mashed turnip recipe. After browsing some websites and finding 5-star recipes, I learned the secret to liking turnips... 1 pound of butter! While I did recently profess my love of (a small pat) butter in dishes, I couldn't stomach a stick or two, so I decided to make something up on the fly. 
I pulled out the cheese drawer - because that's how you make any vegetable desirable - and settled on goat cheese! I also had a few small new potatoes left over from another recipe, so I took a shot with this and it came out really well! We enjoyed these turnips with lentil-loaf and green beans. 

Goat Cheese Mashed Turnips
Veggie by Season original

2 lbs. turnips, peeled and quartered 
1/2 lb. new potatoes, peeled and quartered
Kosher salt and black pepper
4 oz. goat cheese
2 tbsp. butter
Fresh herbs, chopped (like rosemary, thyme, basil or tarragon)

Place turnips and potatoes in a pot, fill with cold water until vegetables are covered.
Heat over high, bring to a boil, add a pinch of salt, then turn to low and simmer for 15 minutes, or until turnips are very tender.
Drain well, place back in the pot, add goat cheese, butter and a hearty grind of black pepper.
Using a potato masher or hand mixer, begin mashing until turnips reach desired consistency.
Taste, adjust salt and pepper.
Pour into a dish and garnish with herbs and another grind of pepper.