Monday, January 31, 2011

Kale and Potatoes with Feta

 I know I've posted quite a few kale recipes, but we have a ton of it in the garden.  I used Red Russian Kale for this recipe because it wilts nicely.  The traditional, curly kale tends to get crispy if I don't watch it closely.  To make this recipe even easier, you can make extra roasted potatoes with another meal and keep the leftovers in the fridge until you want to make this recipe.  The recipe serves 2 as a main dish, but could easily serve 4 as a side dish.

Kale with Potatoes and Feta
Roasted Potatoes (I used 2 Yukon gold potatoes)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 bunch kale, chopped
1/2 jar roasted red peppers, chopped
1/2 jar quartered artichoke hearts
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

1) Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add garlic, potatoes, and red pepper flakes, and saute 7 minutes, or until potatoes are warm.
2) Add kale, artichoke hearts, and roasted red peppers.  Cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes, or until kale is wilted.
3) Top with feta cheese before serving.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Easy Fried Fish

Fish with our favorite topping

We love fried fish at our house!  I've never had much luck with battered, deep-fried fish, but this simple, pan-fried fish always turns out great.  My 4 year old loves to dip this in homemade tartar sauce, while my husband and I love it with a special topping of tomatoes, onions, garlic, and peppers.  My two year old goes nuts whenever I make this and eats until we run out of fish.  I like to use a cast-iron skillet for this.  I have two (thanks, Mom!), so I fry all of the fish at the same time. 

Fried Fish

4 fillets whitefish (I use talapia)
salt and pepper
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
2 eggs, beaten
4 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons butter

1) Use 2 large skillets over medium-high heat.  Place 2 tablespoons of butter and 2 tablespoons of oil in each skillet.
2) While butter and oil are heating, place 1/4 cup flour in one bowl, beaten egg in a second bowl, and mix together remaining flour, bread crumbs, cornmeal, and Italian seasoning in a third bowl.
3) Season fish with salt and pepper on both sides.  Dip in flour, then egg, then into flour, bread crumb, and cornmeal mixture.  Place into skillet.  You will have 2 fillets of fish in each skillet.
4) Cook for 2 minutes on each side.  For thicker pieces of fish, such as cod, you may need up to 5 minutes per side.  You may want to lower the heat to medium if you are using a thicker fish.
5) Drain on paper towels and serve with  a lemon wedge and optional topping.

Fish Topping
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 medium tomatoes, chopped

1) Heat oil in a small skillet over medium heat. 
2) Add garlic, onion, and peppers, and saute until onions are tender, about 5 minutes.  Turn off heat and stir in tomatoes. 

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Eat Your Brussels Sprouts

Most people I know try to avoid eating brussels sprouts.  I will admit that I was one of those people.  When I want to train myself to like a new vegetable, I grow them in the garden.  If I don't like the homegrown version of the vegetable (ex: kohlrabi), then it is probably safe to assume that I don't like the vegetable.  I learned to love kale by growing it and am determined to like beets by growing them this year.  Last year, I decided that my family would learn to love brussels sprouts by growing them.  I was told that because it is so warm in Florida, most of my plants wouldn't produce any sprouts.  I decided to plant extra and put 6 plants in the ground.  We had a really cold winter last year and I ended up with 5 out of the 6 plants producing a ton of brussels sprouts.  We ate so many brussels sprouts that we got tired of them.  Very few people wanted to take them from us, so we ended up pulling up the plants.

Brussels sprouts. I didnt' pinch the leaves, but the sprouts did just fine.

I did find some really fun recipes for making brussels sprouts.  My very favorite was Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Seckel Pears from Caroline Wright.  This year, we planted 3 brussels sprout plants.  It looks like only one will end up producing.  I tried planting them in my square foot garden this year and I think the plants are just too close to each other.  We order produce from an organic produce co-op and they've had brussels sprouts on the list a few times.  The first few times they appeared, I wasn't ready to try them, so I traded them for other veggies. Last week, the co-op was offering them again and I decided it was time to go back to brussels sprouts.  Pears are at the end of their season, so I knew that my favorite recipe would be hard to make.  I also wanted something I knew the kids would eat, so I combined the sprouts with some chicken Italian sausage.  It was a wonderful meal.  My 4 year old even ate some of the brussels sprouts!

Roasted Sausage and Brussels Sprouts
1 package chicken Italian sausage
1 pound brussels sprouts, cut in half
2 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
2 tablespoons Kerrygold butter with garlic and herbs, melted (you can also make your own garlic herb butter)

1) Preheat oven to 425.  Cut each sausage link into 4 pieces.  Place on a large baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes.  You may want to add some oil to the sausage, since chicken sausage is low in fat and sometimes sticks to the pan.
2) While the sausage is cooking, toss the brussels sprouts in one tablespoon of the olive oil, the salt, pepper, and red pepper.
3) After the sausage has been cooking for 20 minutes, add the brussels sprouts and remaining 1 tablespoon of oil and mix well.  Roast for another 15 - 20 minutes, until sausage is done and the sprouts are just starting to get brown.  Stir after the first 10 minutes.
4) Pour melted garlic her butter over everything before serving.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Eggs and Veggie for Cheryl

A few weeks ago, my one of my best friends in the entire world, Cheryl, moved to California.  I've known Cheryl for 11 years and lived with her for 2 years in college.  I always loved watching her cook because she would just throw fresh ingredients together and make a great meal.  I remember one evening during my senior year of college where I was making a steak on my George Foreman Grill.  She came home and started heating up some frozen stir-fry vegetables.  She offered to share some veggies with me in exchange for some of my steak and we ended up making some wonderful teriyaki steak wraps together.
After I got married, Cheryl and I continued to see each other (and cook together) quite a bit.  In the last year, she has taught my husband and I about the joys of putting a fried egg on top of just about anything.  My friend Shelley sparked my interest in eggs when she invited me over for black beans topped with salsa, cheese, and a fried egg.  I told Cheryl about it, and on one of her visits, I watched her make quite a few fun egg dishes.
When Cheryl moved, I wanted to celebrate her new job by creating a recipe for her.  I came up with a recipe that seemed like fun and invited Shelley over to try it.  We both loved it and I decided it should be Cheryl's special recipe.  I decided to use leftover potatoes in this because Cheryl's egg dishes usually involved leftovers.  Congratulations on your new job, Cheryl :) 

Cheryl's Eggs and Veggies
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup leftover roasted potatoes
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 roma tomato, chopped
1 handful chopped kale
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
1 fried egg, yolk still runny

1) Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the potatoes, red pepper, onion, and garlic, and saute until potatoes are warm and peppers are tender, about 5-7 minutes.
2) Turn off the heat and stir in the tomatoes and kale.  Stir occasionally until kale is wilted. You will want to start frying your egg in a separate pan at this time.
3) Place the potato mixture on a plate.  Top with parmesan cheese and a fried egg.  Break the yolk as soon as you put it on top of the potatoes.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Roasted Potatoes

This is a recipe I make about once a week.  When I was in high school, my mom came across a recipe for oven french fries that were really simple- potatoes, olive oil, salt, and pepper.  It is a great basic recipe for roasting potatoes.  When I took the picture, I was making breakfast for dinner, so the potatoes are cut into 2-bite pieces.  Feel free to cut them into whatever size you need.  I've used the small, multi-colored potatoes, red potatoes, yukon gold, and russets for this recipe.  The yukon gold, red, and multi-colored potatoes hold their shape better than the russets.  You can also experiment with the seasonings on this.  We enjoy adding cajun seasoning when we want spicy potatoes and garlic, herbs, and parmesan cheese when we have are having chicken or fish for dinner.  These take a little bit longer than frozen french fries, but they are worth the little bit of extra work.  Enjoy!

Roasted Potatoes
2 pounds of potatoes, scrubbed and cut into size of your choice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
optional: use seasoned salt instead of kosher salt

1) Heat oven to 425 and grease a large cookie sheet. I have a "misto" bottle that sprays oil, so I use that.
2) In a large bowl, combine potatoes, oil, salt, and pepper.  Stir until potatoes are coated. Transfer to the cookie sheet.
3) Bake for 15 minutes, stir, and bake for 15 minutes longer.  Large potatoes may need more time, smaller potatoes may need less time.
4) Season with additional salt and pepper, to taste.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Fish Tacos

This is another one of those recipes where I tried something in a restaurant and thought "I could make this."  I've been making these for the past 4 years and we all love them.  You can use just about any white fish you want, but my favorite is mahi.  My kids aren't always up for the really spicy seasoning I use, so I usually season their fish with salt, pepper, seasoned salt, and garlic powder.  I made this for my husband's birthday, so I made salsa ranch, mango salsa, and black bean salsa to go with it.  Usually, I only make one salsa for it, but since it was a birthday dinner, I made an exception! You could easily use your favorite store-bought salsa, too.

Fish Tacos
serves 4
24 ounces mahi, or white fish of your choice
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
blackening seasoning, to taste (I use Big Kevin's)
12 corn tortillas, warmed in the oven at 250 for 10 minutes (wrap in foil)
shredded lettuce
shredded cheese
salsa (mango, black bean, or your favorite)
southwest ranch or salsa mixed with your favorite ranch dressing

1) Heat butter and olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat until butter is melted and skillet is hot.
2) Season fish generously with blackening seasoning on both sides.
3) Add fish to skillet and cook for 5 - 7minutes on each side, until fish flakes with a fork.  You may want to reduce the heat to medium when you turn the fish.
4) When the fish is done, cut each piece into 3 strips.
5) Place a piece of fish in a corn tortilla and top with your choice of toppings.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Pearl Couscous

I started eating couscous about 3 years ago, after I came across a recipe that looked like fun.  I don't know why I stopped eating it, but for some reason I stopped putting it on our menu.  A few weeks ago, I realized that I hadn't started the rice for our dinner yet and that dinner would be ready in 15 minutes.  I went rummaging through the pantry and found some couscous and remembered that it took very little time to cook, so I made it.  My kids loved it, so I decided to do more with it.  I found some whole wheat pearl (also called Israeli) couscous  when I was shopping the other day.  I mixed it with some peppers, onions, garlic, and tomato for a tasty meatless dinner.

Pearl Couscous
1 cup whole wheat pearl couscous
1 1/4 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 plum tomato, chopped
shredded Romano cheese

1) Bring water to a boil; add couscous and salt.  Cover saucepan and simmer for 8 - 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and let sit for about 5 minutes.
2) While couscous is cooking, heat olive oil in skillet over medium heat.  Add garlic, bell pepper, and onion.  Saute 5 - 10 minutes, or until peppers are tender.  Add tomato and mix with other ingredients.
3) Combine pepper mixture with couscous.  Top with Romano cheese.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Outback Bread

I made this bread for the first time about 2 years ago.  It was before I started baking most of our bread, so I had very little confidence in my ability to make bread.  This bread turned out great the first time I made it!  Two years later, I am still making it.  I like to make one large, round loaf when I do it.  It doesn't look exactly like the Bushman bread at Outback, but it tastes great.  It is an easy pumpernickel recipe that doesn't call for a lot of strange ingredients.  One of my favorite things about this recipe is the wonderful smell that fills the house while it is baking. 

Outback Bread
from Chef Pablo's Restaurant Recipes
2 packets (1 1/2 tablespoons) dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup warm (not hot) water
1/2 cup dark molasses
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons oil
2 cups rye flour
2 1/2 - 3 cups bread flour (use 3 - 3 1/2 cups if using unbleached, all purpose flour)

1) Soften yeast in 1/2 cup warm water.
2) Stir in the sugar and let stand 6 minutes or until it’s bubbly.
3) In large mixing bowl combine the yeast/water combo above along with 1 cup warm water with molasses, salt, oil and rye flour.
4) Mix this until it makes a nice smooth batter.
5) Work in the bread flour until the dough is smooth and no longer sticky. It should be very pliable and elastic.
6) Knead the dough for a few minutes and then let it rise in a greased bowl until it’s doubled (about 1 hour).
7) Punch the dough down and shape into 2 large round loaves
8) Placed the loaves a few inches apart on a greased and cornmeal dusted cookie sheet. Sprinkle a bit of the cornmeal over the top of the loaves as well.
9) Let loaves rise in a warm place until doubled (about 1 hour).
10) Bake loaves at 375 for about 30 minutes or until the crust makes hollow sound when tapped.

Stir-Fry with Peanut Sauce

A few of my friends came over one evening in November for a recipe swap.  We sat at down at a table with our favorite recipes and meal ideas and shared our ideas with each other.  I ended up with quite a few new recipes.  My friend Wendy gave me a great recipe for Shrimp with Thai noodles and peanut sauce.  I harvested some bok choi from the garden and decided to make a stir-fry.  I get tired of teriyaki sauce, so I wanted to try something new.  I decided to try the peanut sauce from Wendy's recipe.  We loved it!  I made mine mild for the kids, but you could easily increase the amount of red pepper flakes or add some chili paste if you want a spicy peanut sauce.  One of my favorite things about stir-frys is that you can use whatever vegetables you have around the house.  Feel free to substitute any of the vegetables in this recipe.  I usually add broccoli, but we didn't have any at the time. Thank you, Wendy, for this awesome recipe!

Chicken Stir-Fry with Peanut Sauce
(serves 4)

Peanut Sauce
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter (I used Jif)
1/4 cup Italian dressing
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon grated ginger root (1/8 teaspoon if using dried ginger)
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes.

1) In small saucepan, combine water, peanut butter, salad dressing, brown sugar, soy sauce, ginger root, and red pepper flakes.
2) Cook over medium-low heat until smooth and creamy, stirring frequently.  Set aside.

Chicken Stir-Fry
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into1-inch pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 yellow squash or zucchini, cut in half, lengthwise and sliced
2 bell peppers (color of your choice), cut into 1-inch pieces
4 carrots, sliced
1 rib of celery, sliced
1 head of bok choi, chopped

1) Heat oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook about 5 minutes per side, until done.
2) Add yellow squash, bell peppers, carrots, celery, and bok choi.  Stir-fry for about  4 minutes.
3) Add the peanut sauce and toss well.
4) Serve over rice or noodles.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Eggplant Roll

This is what I made with the last eggplant we harvested.  I've had something similar at Italian restaurants in the area, so I decided to make my own.  These require more work than most of the things I cook, so give yourself plenty of time to make the eggplant rolls.

Eggplant Roll
1 ball pizza dough
1 eggplant, salted, rinsed, and cut into 1-inch cubes
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup all purpose flour
1 egg, beaten
1 1/2 cups seasoned bread crumbs
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 cup or more shredded mozzarella cheese
Pizza sauce for dipping (optional)

1) Take 3 shallow bowls and place flour in one, the beaten egg in the second, and the bread crumbs in the third.
2) Add olive oil to a heavy skillet and heat over medium heat
3) Dip eggplant into flour, shake off any excess, then into egg, and finally into bread crumbs. 
4) Add to skillet and fry for 3 - 5 minutes per side.
5) Drain eggplant on paper towels.
6) Preheat the oven to 425.
7) Roll out pizza dough into a 10 inch circle.
8) Brush one side of the dough with olive oil.  Add garlic, eggplant, and cheese do the dough and wrap it into a log.  It is OK if you leave the ends open, but make sure to pinch the sides, so the filling doesn't leak out.
9) Bake for 15 - 25 minutes, or until golden brown.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Looking Back

2010 was an eventful year in my kitchen and garden.  There were quite a few recipes I tried that I didn't blog about (I've got to save some stuff for 2011).  Since I didn't start blogging until August, there was quite a bit of gardening information left out.  I thought I would take a few minutes and look back at 2010 in my kitchen and garden and look ahead to some of my culinary and gardening goals for 2011.  Happy New Year!

2010 Highlights (Good and Bad):
Learning how to make soft, moist whole wheat bread
Making turkey soup that tasted just like my mother-in-laws's
Harvesting a ton of cabbage and Brussels sprouts from the garden
Learning different ways to cook cabbage and Brussels sprouts
No real spring.  We went from really cold to temperatures in the 80s.  The tomatoes and peppers were pretty unhappy this spring.
Making vegetable broth
Too many fire ants in the garden
Discovering roasted pears- best side dish ever (Maybe I discovered these in 2009, but we ate a lot of them this year)
Expanding the number of fish recipes I make
Growing kale
My first attempt at bread bowls
Not buying lettuce for 2 months because my garden produced so much
Meatball soup
Finding nitrate-free bacon that I actually liked
Yummy homemade apple butter
6 nights below freezing before Jan 1.  Goodbye tomatoes and peppers.
New Year's Eve black-eyed-peas that were mushy and tasted like dirt
Large crop of cucumbers
Lots of yummy eggplant
Homemade vanilla extract (I haven't tried it yet, it still needs a little bit of time)
Learning how to make my own flavored syrup for coffee
Scalloped potatoes in the crockpot- not a good idea with the newer crockpots.  We went out for dinner that night.

2011 Goals:
Don't grow squash
Remember to blog about fish recipes
Do more research on companion planting
Grow cucumbers vertically
Learn how to make dried beans that taste good without using a seasoning packet or meat for flavor
Find a maccaroni and cheese recipe that doesn't rely heavily on american cheese that the kids are willing to eat
Finally have enough tomatoes for a nice harvest
Grow beets
Learn to like beets
Try turnips in something other than broth
Find a cheaper way to make beef broth
Grow more sunflowers in the summer
Start making our hamburger buns and sub rolls
Find more eggplant recipes
Grow sweet potatoes

One of the many cabbages we harvested in 2010