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falling behind (post 17 of a 52 recipe resolution)

June 30, 2013

The year is officially half over and tomorrow, July 1, starts week 27. There are a couple of reasons why I think about that but for right now it’s because I’m only on recipe 17. I’m officially behind if I’m going to post 52 recipes this year. The thing is, I’ve got pictures of a lot of recipes I’ve tried, I just haven’t writing the post to go along with them. I’ve got some catching up to do.

Remember my last post when I was turning over page corners to mark recipes that I probably wouldn’t get around to making? Consider this as two down and a few more to go. Maybe I’ll get through all of the tagged pages before the next issue arrives.

This one is called Berkeley Veggie Burger and it also comes from Cooking Light and I think it’s great as we head into summer. It may be too fragile to cook on grill racks, but if you have one of those flat pans that you set on top of the grill racks that should work.

We topped our burgers with mayo, lettuce, tomato and a little blue cheese. These burgers are very mild in flavor and I think the blue cheese overpowered them. I think next time I’ll use a cheddar or American cheese.

Berkeley Veggie Burger
Adapted from Cooking Light

    6 burger buns
    3 cups grated cooked golden beet, about 3 medium
    1/3 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
    1/3 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
    2 tbsp horseradish
    3 tbsp minced fresh chives
    1/4 tsp black pepper
    9 oz cooked brown rice (from about 4.5 oz uncooked brown rice)
    2 tsp Dijon mustard
    2 large eggs
    1 large egg white
    3/8 tspkosher salt, divided
    2 tbsp canola oil, divided

Preheat the oven to 400F. Place a baking sheet in the oven.

Combine beet and next 6 ingredients (through rice). Combine mustard, eggs, and egg white. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt and mustard mixture to beet mixture; stir well. Spoon about 2/3 cup rice mixture into a (4-inch) round biscuit cutter; pack mixture down. Remove mold; repeat 5 times to form 6 patties.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil; swirl to coat. Carefully add 3 patties to pan; cook 3 minutes. Carefully transfer patties to preheated baking sheet coated with cooking spray, turning patties over. Repeat procedure with remaining 1 tablespoon oil and 3 patties. Return baking sheet to oven; bake patties at 400° for 12 minutes.

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plowing ahead (post 16 of a 52 recipe resolution)

June 25, 2013

As I was thumbing through the latest Cooking Light and folding over the corners of pages with recipes that I likely won’t get around to making, there was a picture for Summer Squash Galette.  I decided to make that the next night for dinner and got all of my ingredients together.  The crust ingredients included the usual suspects, flour and salt, but also included baking powder and olive oil.  The next day, following the instructions, I got everything together and spun them around in the food processor.  It came out all crumbly, like a shortbread dough.  Still I plowed ahead and formed a disk, wrapped it in plastic wrap and refrigerated it for the prescribed amount of time.  In the meantime I sliced the zucchini for the topping and mixed my ricotta filling ingredients.  You can see where this is going, right?  When I pulled the dough from the refrigerator and went to roll it out, it was miserable.  I couldn’t roll it into a 14″ circle to save my soul.  While Mike was listening to me curse he was also multi-tasking and looking up the local pizza joint phone number to order out.  Good thing, since I ended up throwing the dough into the trash.

Two good things came of that experience.  1)  We tried a new place for pizza delivery and it was terrific!  I’ve spent a year looking for good thin crust delivery pizza and I’ve finally found it.  2) The galette filling from the Cooking Light recipe was really good and not wanting to waste it, the next night I made a galette dough from Williams-Sonoma that was perfect.  Not “light” mind you but every calorie was worth it.  This is my combination of the W-S dough and the Cooking Light filling.

Paired with a salad this makes a terrific summer lunch or dinner

Zucchini and Ricotta Galette
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/4 cup sour cream
3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, divided
1/4 cup ice water
1 large or two small zucchini, sliced into 1/4 inch rounds
3/4 cup ricotta cheese (part skim is fine)
1/2 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil

Prepare the pastry
In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, add the flour and salt and pulse once or twice to combine.  Add the butter and pulse 6 or 7 times until the butter is about the size of small peas.   In a medium bowl combine the sour cream, 2 tsp lemon juice and water.  Add the butter and flour mixture and using a wooden spoon mix in the liquid until large lumps form.  Be careful not to overwork the dough.  You want those bits of butter to remain in the dough.  Pat the dough into a 5 inch disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Prepare the filling
In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, parmesan, remaining 1 tsp lemon juice, lemon zest, black pepper, beaten egg and salt.

Prepare the Galette
Preheat the oven to 400F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  On a floured work surface, roll the dough into a 12-inch round. Transfer to the parchment lined baking sheet.  Spread the ricotta mixture evenly over the bottom of the dough, leaving a 2-inch border.  Top the ricotta mixture with the zucchini rounds, layering them in concentric circles. Drizzle with 1 tbsp olive oil.  Fold the border over the filling, pleating the edge to make it fit.  The center will be open.

Bake the galette until the cheese is puffed, the zucchini is slightly wilted and the galette is golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly.  Cut into wedges and serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

galette slice

no eye rolling please (post 15 of a 52 recipe resolution)

June 8, 2013

popover 1
Popovers.  I’d never made them, never even eaten one, but I saw a recipe and knew I had to try them.  I’d heard of them of course, but I was always put off by the idea that I needed to have a popover pan to bake them in.  Once I figured out that a standard muffin tin could be used, I was on my way.  I don’t like buying kitchen items that have a single purpose (Mike is rolling his eyes right now) but muffin tins, I have those.  Honestly, I have plenty of single purpose kitchen things, but that closet doesn’t have any more room.

Anyway, popovers.  Once I decided to make them, I looked at no less than 30 variations before I settled on some combination of the most common varieties that I came across – Gruyère and parmesan.  I thought they’d make a nice addition to take to supper at a friend’s house.  Since I’d never had a popover before I was flying by the seat of my pants, but good news, the experiment worked and we both liked them.  Next time though, I think I’d rather make and serve them right away as opposed to two hours after taking the popovers out of the oven.  In order to keep them from deflating between removing from the oven and eating them, I had to cook them a little longer than normal.

These couldn’t have been easier to make and using the blender was the way to go.  If you don’t have a blender, an electric mixer or even a wire whisk works just fine.  I sat down on the floor in front of the oven window to watch as these rise as they baked.

Gruyère, Parmesan and Chive Popovers
makes 12

4 large eggs, warmed in a bowl of hot water for 10 minutes before cracking
1-1/2 cups milk (skim, low-fat or full fat), lukewarm
1/2 tsp salt
1-1/2 cups AP flour
3 tbsp. melted butter
3/4 cup grated Gruyère cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp chopped chives

Preheat over to 450F.  Position rack o a lower shelf.  The top of the fully risen popovers should be about midway up the oven.  If they’re too close to the top of the oven, they’ll burn.  Also position a rack at the very top of the oven  in case you need to shield the popovers from directly heat during baking.  Make sure the oven is up to temperature before you start the batter.

Use a standard 12-cup metal muffin time (cups 2-1/2″ wide x 1-1/2″ deep).  Grease the pan thoroughly, including the area between the cups so the tops don’t stick.

Using a blender, electric mixer or wire whisk (I used a blender), blend together the eggs, milk and salt.  Add the flour all at once and blend until frothy, about 20 – 30 seconds.  There’s shouldn’t be any large lumps in the batter.  Last add the melted butter, both cheeses and chives.  Blend for just a second to combine.

Pour the batter into the muffin cups, filling them 2/3 to 3/4 full.

Bake the popovers for 20 minutes without opening the oven door.  Reduce heat to 350F and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, until they’re a deep golden brown. If the popovers are browning too quickly, put a cookie sheet on the top oven rack to shield the popovers from direct heat.

If you plan on serving the popovers immediately, remove from the oven and stick the tip of a knife into the top of each to release steam and help prevent them from getting soggy.  Remove from pan and serve.

If you are going to serve them later, bake for an additional 5 minutes or so.  This will make them a little more sturdy and able to hold their popped shape longer.  Reheat in a 350F oven for just a few minutes before serving.

popover 2

back to back (post 14 of a 52 recipe resolution)

May 28, 2013

It’s a good thing that Memorial Day weekend is just the unofficial start to summer.  It gives us a couple of weeks for the Chicago weather to start looking and feeling like summer.  I planned back to back early morning outdoor activities for this weekend with the Soldier Field 10 Mile on Saturday morning and Bike the Drive on Sunday morning and it was cold for both.  Most people (ignore the crazy lady in blue in the picture at the bottom) had on long pants, jacket and gloves for Bike the Drive.  Granted, when we left our house on Sunday morning it was 6:15 a.m., but still, we should be beyond gloves in mid-May, no?

One of my colleagues (Hi Michael!) always takes care of my “no meat” preference when he orders catered lunches for work events and the one that sticks out as best ever is the grilled veggie wrap.  This week I decided it was high time to make it at home, again hoping for warmer weather and farmers market vegetables.  It’s an easy peasy, do everything in advance kind of meal and can be changed up to what suits your preference.  I am limited to a grill pan at home so there isn’t that hint of smokey flavor that you’d get from an outdoor grill, but don’t let that stop you, the grill pan works perfectly.

I cooked each vegetable separately to allow for the different cooking times and I kept each cooked veggie separate on the platter so we could each choose what we wanted in our wrap. The broccoli in the recipe isn’t on the platter because there was a moment of “Crap, I forgot the broccoli!”  In addition to the veggies, Mike added fresh spinach, I added green leaf lettuce and both added a touch of bottled Caesar dressing.

Don’t be surprised if you see these at my next family gathering.

Not much of a recipe, but here goes.

Grilled Veggie Wraps

1/4 cup Olive oil, separated
Asparagus spears, woody ends removed
1 bell pepper (red, orange or yellow for color), sliced about 1/4 inch
4 or 5 crimini mushrooms, stems removed and sliced about 1/4 – 1/3 inch
2 small zucchini, cut in half cross-wise and then sliced into 1/4 – 1/3 inch strips length-wise
2 small yellow squash, cut in half cross-wise and then sliced into 1/4 – 1/3 inch strips length-wise
1 small head of broccoli, cut into small florets

diced tomato
fresh baby spinach
leaf lettuce
swiss or parmesan cheese
10″ flour tortillas

Heat grill pan over medium high heat.  Toss asparagus in about 1 tbsp. olive oil and add to grill pan.  Let cook for 2-3 minutes and turn them over to cook another 1-2 minutes.  I don’t recommend pencil thin spears for this.  They’ll cook too quickly and won’t hold up well.  Remove to platter.  Repeat process with each vegetable, adding them to the platter as they finish.  Cool to room temperature before making wraps.  You can make your vegetables the day before, cover and refrigerate overnight.  Bring to slightly cool or room temperature before making wraps.

Warm your tortillas on a platter covered with a minimally damp paper towel for about 15 seconds before layering your vegetables and toppings.  Roll up burrito style and cut in half to serve.

The platter would easily accommodate grilled and sliced chicken for those who would like meat in their wrap.



humbled (post 13 of a 52 recipe resolution)

May 27, 2013

Saturday I ran the Soldier Field 10 Mile (no, this isn’t becoming a running blog).  This isn’t about the actual running, but about the events before and after the 10 miles.  The designated event charity for this year was Salute, Inc. whose mission reads: SALUTE, INC., passionately pursues meeting the financial, physical and emotional needs of the military service members, veterans and their families. We strive to raise awareness of their sacrifices and provide a safety net to ensure every military family is treated with honor and dignity. 

Appropriately on Memorial Day, our fallen soldiers were honored by a lone bugler playing Taps before a silent 12,500 runners.  After running 5 miles south on a closed Lake Shore Drive we turned around and headed back north along the lakefront path and finished mile 10 on the 50 yard line of Solider Field with the jumbotron showing each runner as they crossed the finish line.  I can’t tell you how humbled I felt to have a medal placed around my neck by a uniformed member of our military.  It seemed backwards for them to be giving me a medal just for running a race.  The military always has my respect and gratitude for the service they give to our country so we can have the freedoms we enjoy.

There is no good transition into the recipe I’m going to share so I’ll just get right to it.  Squash is a workhorse vegetable in my house.  It’s easily available all year and can be prepared 1000 different ways.  This squash sauté is set apart by the addition of crushed red pepper flakes.  They bring enough heat to make squash interesting, but not so much that it’s overwhelmed.  If you don’t like heat, reduce the red pepper flakes, but don’t eliminate them.  You’ll be disappointed.

Summer Squash Sauté
Bon Appetit

I used the julienne attachment with my Cuisinart to make the vegetable sliced a cinch.

2 lbs yellow squash and/or zucchini, cut into match sticks
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup sliced almonds
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, sliced thin
1/4 tsp crushed pepper flakes
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan

Place squash in a colander set over a large bowl and toss with 1 tsp salt.  Let squash stand for 10 minutes then squeeze well to remove as much excess moisture as possible.  Do not rinse the squash afterward.

Toast the almonds in a large dry skillet over medium heat, tossing occasionally, until lightly browned.  Remove and set aside.

Heat oil in the same skillet over medium heat.  Add garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring often, until fragrant but not browned.  About 2 minutes.  Add squash and cook, tossing occasionally, until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes.  Fold in Parmesan and season with salt and pepper.  Fold in almonds and serve.


races, rewards, reality and gratitude

May 16, 2013

Jeez, are you tired of seeing the coconut cream pie when you flip over here?  I guess it’s pretty obvious that I don’t write these posts early and schedule them weeks in advance.  Worse yet, I don’t even have a new recipe today, just a revamp of the previously posted chopped salad.

In the weeks since Mike’s birthday we’ve had an estate sale at my Mom’s house in advance of her moving; gone to Indy so I could run my first (and probably only – sorry Mark!) half-marathon; moved my Mom into her new place and run a 5K.  This weekend is blessedly quiet so maybe I can try out some new recipes.

I’m bursting with pride on my half-marathon results!  My goal was 2-1/2 hours.  I finished in 2:15:23, well ahead of my goal with a 10:21 pace.  Overall I placed 206 in my division (based on age and gender) with a field of 1171; 4861 out of 16039 in my gender and overall I placed 12968 out of 30069.  Pretty respectable.

I know that you’re supposed to load up on carbs the night before a race, but I have to be honest here, my post race dinner was carb heaven and as my reward for running 13.1 miles, I didn’t feel a moment of guilt about it.  It was a sinfully rich baked five cheese penne with Fontina, Mozzarella, Parmesan, Asiago and Mascarpone!

The reality of life is that I don’t get to eat like that on a daily basis.  Generally I have the biggest salad you’ve ever seen for lunch.  I’ve written about the chopped salad before, but with all the farmers markets coming to life again, it’s time to refresh the ingredients.  My salad today had beautiful asparagus (green and purple), blackened edamame, ditalini pasta, gorgonzola, diced grape tomatoes and toasted pepitas.  All of it was on a bed of green leaf lettuce and tossed in a balsamic vinaigrette.  It’s all about balance, right?

I’d be remiss if I didn’t say a huge Thank You to my brother in law Mark as he’s the one who got me through the last couple of weeks of training for the half-marathon.  Mark lives 68 miles away from me and when I needed to get 10 miles in, he drove all the way to my house to run those miles with me.  In that one run we encountered sleet, snow, sun and lots of wind.  The next Saturday when I needed to get in 12 miles, he met me again and this time put me through a challenging hill run and literally pulled me over a flooded creek.  Mark, I couldn’t have run that race without your help and encouragement.  And to Mike….thank you for always giving me the confidence to try anything.

That was the acceptance speech I would have given had I been asked, but they only interviewed the guy who came in 12967 people ahead of me.


April 27, 2013

Happy Birthday to you.  Happy Birthday to you.  Happy Birthday dear Mike.  Happy Birthday to you.

Save room.  There’s pie.

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