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quick dinner: roasted red pepper with baby spinach soup

Sunday, March 10th, 2013

This was about all I had in me after a long first full day of daylight savings. We spent it hanging out with family, sledding, and enjoying the wonderfully sunny 47°F weather. Kiddo off a wee bit all day because of the time change and the constant reminder that her teeth are very much bothering her. Sunday night is bath night… followed by the usual bedtime routine. Except an overtired, bewildered and bothered gal makes for a long and drawn out goodnight.

Soup. It’s what’s for dinner. We’ve been having homemade lentil soup the last few nights, but I feel like it’s giving my gal trouble after nursing, so tonight I heated lentil for Craig, and I opted for Trader Joe’s. Their boxed roasted red pepper and tomato soup is pretty tasty. I added lots of organic baby spinach that wilted perfectly while the soup was heating. I topped the soup with sour cream, horseradish sauce, and the leftover crumbs from our garlic bread I had just sliced.

Love quick dinners. We are zonked. Wonder what the rest of the night will bring with my babe. Where are her two top front teeth? We have been teething for weeeeeeeeeks now. When will they make their appearance?

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Posted in Cooking Adventures, On the Subject of Parenthood, The Daily Balance | 107 Comments »


Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

I cannot believe that Thanksgiving is here! I can’t believe that it is the end of November. I can’t believe how dark it gets so early.

And yet, I am thankful that the fall weather has been mostly wonderful. The last time I wrote, we were without power for multiple days following a freakish end-of-October snow storm that pummeled New England and left hundreds of thousands without power.

Well, the power came back for us after 3 and a half days. My parents were without power for even longer. I feel fortunate that the weather wasn’t colder or it really would have been miserable. In fact, most of November has been unseasonably warm. We’ve had multiple weekends in a row with temps in the 60s. It has been lovely.

The leaves finally had a chance to play catch-up and turn and fall from the trees. We are almost done with our raking—hopefully with the long holiday weekend upon us we’ll get a chance to finish up the yard work. I still want to do one last fertilization of our new lawn.

In the meantime, I am gearing up to make some Thanksgiving dishes for multiple feasts tomorrow. I love cooking and baking for the holidays. I find it all very creative and inspiring, especially since I haven’t done as much cooking this fall as I usually do. I have been poring over recipe books and scouring websites online for ideas. And here is what I think I will be preparing.

Honeyed Carrots and Oranges

Honeyed Carrots and Oranges courtesy of Real Simple

I still have a bunch of carrots in the garden, but with the temps beginning to get colder, especially at night, I’m ready to harvest the lot. So I think I will make Honeyed Carrots and Oranges courtesy of Real Simple. It looks like a delightfully yummy and easy dish! I am thankful that I am still able to cook using ingredients straight from the garden!

I am also going to make some sort of casserole dish—probably a variation on the “traditional” green bean casserole that uses those fun crunchy onions. I think I’ll add some thinly sliced shallots.

I’m also making a few desserts. I have gone back and forth on what to make, but ultimately I think I will make my very favorite—Swedish Apple Pie. You can find my recipe with photos on how to make the best Swedish Apple Pie here. Instead of honeycrisp apples, I will be using a combo of Granny Smith and Cortland.

I am so looking forward to hanging out in the kitchen tonight to do some baking!

I am very thankful to be able to take some time off to celebrate Thanksgiving, and I can’t wait to see family and friends in town over the next several days. With the holiday season kicking off, it’s so easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of doing and the stresses that seam to infiltrate our day-to-day. This year I’m going to take it slow and easy and relish each day. It is really such a short season after all. It’s meant to be enjoyed.

Cheers and Happy Thanksgiving to you!

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Posted in Cooking Adventures, The Daily Balance, The Growing Season | 1 Comment »

tomato basil mozzarella salad

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

No shortage of tomatoes going on around here. We are eating them all the time. I love all the different types of tomatoes we are growing, including several varieties of heirlooms. One of my very favorite dishes is a simple tomato, basil, and mozzarella salad.

tomato basil mozzarella salad

It is so easy to make. Slice up whatever tomatoes you have on hand. I have been using combinations of yellow pear, orange grape, mortgage lifter heirloom, and japanese black trifele heirloom. Gently toss with some good-quality organic extra virgin olive oil, a dash of sea salt, freshly-ground black pepper, and freshly chopped basil.

fresh basil

Potted basil plants on our front stoop.

Add some pearl-sized fresh mozzarella balls and gently combine.
tomato basil mozzarella salad

And you are done. A great end-of-summer side dish. Also fantastic on top of a garden salad or as a bread topper.

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Posted in Cooking Adventures, The Growing Season | 1 Comment »

grilled portobello mushrooms

Sunday, June 19th, 2011

What a great weekend it has been! The weather absolutely cooperated, and it was just beautiful out. Sunny and breezy. We went for a 25-mile bike ride into Massachusetts to explore the lovely town of Groton yesterday. We hung out with family celebrating Father’s Day today. And we grilled! So thrilled to have the grill clean and working and ready to go on hot days like today.

clean grill

It took hours to clean the inside and grates a few weeks back, but it was well worth it!

One of my favorite things to grill is portobello mushrooms. They are healthy and relatively inexpensive, and they make for such a hearty and delicious salad topper. I start by buying organic portobellos and marinating them. My favorite way to marinate them is to lay them gill side up in a pyrex baking dish. Then I combine roughly 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil with 1/2 cup balsamic and rice vinegar and add some herbs I have on hand (oregano, basil, parsley) and pour over the mushrooms.
marinating portobellos

Then I squirt a little mustard on each mushroom and a dash of soy sauce. Sprinkle with some dried rosemary, garlic powder, and red pepper flakes. Cover and put in the fridge for a few hours to let all the flavors soak in.

To cook, preheat your grill on high and then use tongs to place mushrooms on the grill, gills up. Cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes and then flip and grill for another 8–10 minutes. You can baste the mushrooms with any leftover marinade.
grilled portobellos

Once they are done, place them on top of your favorite spring/summer salad!

grilled portobello salad

Greens, tomatoes, sugar snap peas, broccoli, red pepper, red onion, broccoli slaw, and grilled portobellos

Did you grill anything amazing this weekend? I am always looking for ideas.

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Posted in Cooking Adventures, The Daily Balance | 2 Comments »

how to make socca pizza

Thursday, May 5th, 2011

Socca pizza! Divine. Ridiculously delicious. Hearty. Filling. Healthy. Gluten-free. From chickpeas! Have you heard about socca pizza? If you haven’t you are in for an amazing treat. I am IN LOVE with socca pizza.
socca pizza

The gist is this: it’s like making your normal homemade pizza but instead of using a pre-made crust or made from wheat-based flour crust, instead you use chickpea flour… aka garbanzo bean flour. And there is no yeast involved either!

To be honest, I had never even thought of cooking/baking using chickpea/garbanzo bean flour until a few weeks back when my friend Katie mentioned chickpea flour on her amazing blog Bistro Katie. She is a vegan at-home cook, and she is always coming up with delectable veggie recipes! Katie had mentioned socca pizza on twitter, and I began to do my research. Turns out the Italians and French have been cooking with chickpea flour (besan) for ages and have mastered the socca pizza. Well, of course they have! Now I am just wishing I had come across a socca pizza in my travels to Italy over the past few years.

I love homemade pizza. Love. Love. Love. I usually make my pizzas using pita bread, but I am always open to trying something new. So I read a bunch of different recipes online for how to make a good socca crust, and I settled on A Mingling of Tastes for my inspiration. Awesome blog, too! So here is my adapted socca pizza recipe from A Mingling of Tastes (which I have now made twice… so there are photos from both pizza nights here!)

How to make a socca pizza:
In a mixing bowl combine:
• Roughly 2 1/2 cups of chickpea (garbanzo bean) flour — makes 2 oven-proof skillet pizza crusts or 1 cookie sheet pizza crust
• Dash of salt
• Dash of freshly ground red pepper
• Dash of garlic powder
• Dashes of your herbs of choice… any mixture of rosemary, thyme, parsley, basil, oregano
• Generous amount of freshly ground black pepper
garbanzo bean flour

socca pizza dry ingredients

Whisk the flour and whatnot all together. Then slowly add 2 1/2 cups of water to the flour mixture, whisking to combine. Keep mixing and whisking to break up any flour clumps.
mixing socca crust

Then let the chickpea flour/water/herb mixture “rest” for at least 30 minutes. This works out perfectly because while it is resting, you can pre-heat your oven to 450°F and begin chopping veggies for your pizza!

When your oven is close to getting pre-heated, add a tablespoon or two of olive oil to either two oven-proof skillets or to one rimmed cookie sheet and pop it in the oven for a few minutes to heat up.
olive oil socca pizza

Take out your pans before the oil starts to smoke. Then you can either add the oil to your socca crust mixture that has been resting, or pour the mixture equally into the skillets (if you are using two) and gently work in the oil (similar to making corn bread). Then pop your pans back in the oven and bake the crust for 15–20 minutes.

Take the crust out when the time is done or once the edges are browning and the center is cracking and firm.

socca crust

Oven-proof skillet version

cookie sheet socca crust

Version 2: socca crust cookie-sheet style

Once your socca pizza crust is ready, it is time for toppings! Any of your favorite pizza toppings will do. You can use sauce, pesto… you name it! And whatever veggies and/or meats you love.

socca pizza tomato sauce

We like to use organic pizza sauce (pre-made and easy!)

Now add your veggies!

socca pizza toppings

For the skillets we used broccoli, roasted red and yellow peppers, minced garlic, tomato, yellow onion, zucchini, summer squash, turkey pepperoni

Our second go-round with the cookie sheet socca pizza, we went all-veggie and used spinach, red onion, yellow onion, broccoli, red pepper, tomatoes, and green olives.
cookie sheet socca toppings

Top the pizza with your favorite cheese if you like, and bake at 450°F for another 10–15 minutes or so until the cheese is melted.
Socca pizza

Using a pizza cutter or spatula, gently cut the pizza into slices, taking care not to harm your pan.
socca pizza

socca pizza

socca pizza

I think I prefer making socca pizza using a cookie sheet because then you only have to deal with one pan. But whether or not you go the cookie sheet route or two oven-proof skillets, you should have enough pizza to serve 4. And the best part about cooking for just 2? Leftover socca pizza!!!
leftover socca pizza

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Posted in Cooking Adventures | 82 Comments »

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