Roasted Cheesy Potatoes

17 04 2011

One of my favorite things about breakfast is the tasty, savory, potato-y side dish! This particular version is inspired by the roasted potatoes with cheese from a crepe place I used to frequent in Pittsford, NY. It works just as well as a dinner or lunch side as well.

roasted cheesy potatoes


Ingredients:

• 1 lb baby red potatoes, quartered
• extra virgin olive oil
• 3 garlic cloves, minced
• 1 Tbsp chili powder
• salt and pepper to taste
• 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese (or more!)
• dried basil


Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 400º F.
2. Toss the potatoes, garlic and olive oil in a glass baking dish, and season with chili powder and a small pinch of both salt and pepper.
3. Place dish in the oven on the middle rack and bake until potatoes are soft and edges have browned (roughly 40 minutes). While roasting, toss the potatoes with a spatula every 15 minutes or so, being sure to scrape any sticking spuds from the bottom.
4. When the potatoes look almost done, turn the oven up to 500º F and remove the potatoes.
5. While the oven heats up, season the potatoes with a generous pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper and sprinkle the shredded cheese over the top.
6. Return to the oven (this time on the top rack) and roast another 5 to 10 minutes, until the cheese is fully melted and bubbly.
7. Smoosh a large pinch of dried basil in the palm of your hand with your thumb, and sprinkle over the top.


Recommended Serving Instructions:

Serve alongside your favorite breakfast main dish (omelet, scramble, etc.). However, the great thing about these potatoes is that they are so flavorful and filling, they could go with just simple eggs and toast – it takes the pressure off of doing a whole, elaborate meal.


Tips:

•To cut down on the baking time and to ensure a more evenly cooked set of potatoes, you can boil the potatoes for 5-10 minutes before preparing and roasting.


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Cucumber Finger Sandwiches

23 11 2010

Perfect for any afternoon tea party or as an appetizer to your Sunday summer soiree, these little sandwiches are refreshingly good and easy to make.

cucumber sandwich


Ingredients:

•pumpernickel bread, sliced very thin
•cream cheese
•cucumber, sliced thinly
•red onion, sliced thinly (optional)
•lemon pepper


Directions:

cucumber sandwich 11. Toast the bread until browned.
2. Spread cream cheese onto two pieces of bread. You want it to be just thick enough so that you cannot see the bread through the cream cheese, but not much thicker.
3. Layer a single layer of onion and then cucumber.
4. Sprinkle the cucumber generously with lemon pepper.
cucumber sandwich 25. Cover with the other piece of bread with cream cheese and press the sandwich together firmly.
6. Wrap the sandwich tightly in plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes (or up to 1 day before serving).
7. Unwrap the sandwich and cut into small squares. Serve immediately.


Tips:

•The bread part is easiest if you can find the shrink-wrapped bread made for this very dish. I find mine at Whole Foods, although I’m sure you can find it elsewhere. You can also ask your local baker to cut a loaf of bread as thinly as possible. Either way, it saves the frustration of doing it yourself at home!






Homemade Stromboli

16 10 2010

This is my favorite quick end-of-a-LONNGGG-day-at-work-and-I-want-something-tasty-and-filling-but-have-very-little-energy-or-motivation recipes. With premade dough for sale at most local supermarkets (or if you have the foresight to make your own pizza dough and have it at the ready in your fridge at all times), strombolis take a surprisingly little amount of time.

stromboli


Ingredients:stromboli 1

•pizza dough
•1/3 cup tomato sauce
•1/3 cup mozzarella cheese
•large pinch romano cheese
•your favorite pizza toppings
•extra virgin olive oil

Toppings included in picture above:

•Italian style Smart Sausages
•green bell pepper
•red onion
•black olives


Directions:

stromboli 21. Pre-heat oven to 450º F.
2. After letting the dough sit out to get to room temperature, divide into two equal parts and form 1 section into a ball. Stretch out to a 10-12” circle, using a plate or cutting board to help hold its form.
3. Spread the sauce in a rectangle shape along the middle and then add the toppings and cheese on top. The amounts listed above are for 1 stromboli and are only recommendations – I like mine pretty saucy and cheesy.
stromboli 44. Wrap the longer sides around the ingredients to connect in the middle. Fold the smaller ends up to close off the ends.
5. Lightly spread olive oil over the outside of the stromboli.
6. Place the stromboli on a baking sheet and bake 15 minutes, or until it is thoroughly cooked and the outside is golden brown.


Tips:

•While jarred sauce is quick and easy, this is still a great opportunity to use your homemade sauce (including my tomato sauce and basil walnut pesto). Also, if you like white pizza, try just using some melted butter, olive oil and tons of minced garlic.
•To zest up your stromboli, you can sprinkle various ingredients on the outside before you bake it. Think of it like a bagel – sesame seeds, poppy seeds, romano or asiago cheese, fresh cracked black pepper, garlic powder, dried onion, even mimic an everything bagel…
•This dish is definitely ideal for your pizza stone, if you have one. But if not, a nice dark cookie sheet works fine. It needs to cook fairly quickly on a high heat.






Vegetarian Garbage Plate (oh, yes I did!)

9 10 2010

I went to college in Rochester, NY, and if you are from upstate New York you are likely all too familiar with this unique regional dish. It usually involves a heap of mac salad, a heap of home fries, topped with 2 cheeseburgers, a hot chili meat sauce and then mustard and chopped onions. Since I realized I’ll never be able to go back and relive my college days with this dish (it’s pretty much meat and fat, through and through), I decided to create my own veg-friendly garbage plate. If you ever feel adventurous, give it a try!

garbage plate


Ingredients

Alexia Foods Yukon Gold frozen french fries
•homemade mac salad (wheat macaroni, organic canola mayonnaise, red onion, green bell pepper, salt, pepper, garlic powder, parsley)
•2 homemade veggie burgers
•2 sandwich slices of cheddar cheese
•vegetarian chorizo hot sauce (see recipe below)
•red onion, finely chopped
•brown mustard


Directions:

garbage plate 11. Bake french fries according to directions.
2. Heat veggie burgers and top with cheese so it starts to melt.
3. Pile french fries and mac salad so they each take up half a large plate or bowl.
4. Top with the veggie cheeseburgers, spoon a hefty portion of the chorizo sauce on top, and then garnish with mustard and onions.


Sauce Ingredients:

•2 Tbs butter
•1 Tbs vegetable oil
•4 cloves garlic
•1/2 red onion, finely chopped
•12 oz chorizo style Smart Sausages, diced
•1 Tbs chili powder
•a pinch of kosher salt
•2 tsp fresh ground pepper
•cayenne pepper to taste
•15 oz can chopped tomatoes


Sauce Directions:

1. Heat butter and oil in a medium saucepan. Add garlic and onion and sauté until they become soft.
garbage plate 22. Add chorizo and cook over medium-high heat until thoroughly browned (about 5 minutes). The sausage will start to fall apart – this is a good thing considering original garbage plate sauce is made with ground beef. In the end, you want a chili-like consistency.
3. Add seasoning and brown another 2 minutes.
4. Add the tomatoes and simmer for 10 minutes over medium heat. Adjust seasoning to taste, as needed.


Tips:

•A traditional garbage plate has lots of options. Instead of french fries and mac salad, you can replace one or both with home fries or baked beans. And instead of cheeseburgers, you can serve with hotdogs, Italian sausage, chicken tenders, grilled cheese or eggs. Try your own combinations!
•This meal is scientifically proven to cure hangovers.
•Most importantly, DO NOT EAT THIS OFTEN!






Homemade Veggie Burgers

3 09 2010

While MorningStar is pretty much a staple in my household, it’s always better to eat food that is minimally processed. That is why this veggie burger recipe is great – you see and taste all of the ingredients that go into them. Plus, they taste amazing! The only way to make them more natural would be to make your own beans…and maybe ferment some soy beans to make your own soy sauce…

burger


Ingredients:

burger ingredients•3 cups cooked brown rice
•15 oz. can of black beans
•15 oz. can of red kidney beans
•1 Tbsp unsalted butter
•1 medium cooking onion, finely chopped
•1 medium carrot, shredded
•1 cup breadcrumbs (preferably unseasoned)
•3/4 cup roasted unsalted sunflower seeds
•1/2 cup dried parsley
•4 large eggs, lightly beaten
•1/4 cup soy sauce
•1/4 vegan Worcestershire sauce
•garlic powder
•salt and pepper to taste


Directions:

burger 11. Make brown rice in advance. It works best in this recipe if you let it cool to room temperature or slightly warmer.
2. Rinse and drain the black and kidney beans. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat and add beans. Cook thoroughly until they are soft and then mash with a wooden spoon.
burger 23. Combine everything on the list from rice to parsley. Stir until everything is evenly combined.
4. Beat the eggs in a separate bowl and combine with the soy sauce and vegan Worcestershire sauce. Add to the main mixture and stir until fully incorporated.
burger 35. Form into 1/2-inch thick patties, roughly 4 inches in diameter.
6. Heat large skillet over medium-high heat. Coat with nonstick cooking spray and cook each patty about 4 minutes per side, until outsides are thoroughly browned and the insides are cooked through.


Recommended Serving Instructions:

Serve however you like to eat your burgers. I enjoy these with homemade guacamole, pepper jack, lettuce, tomato and red onion on sesame buns.


Tips:

burger 4•The burgers can tend to be on the fragile side. One thing you can do to help the cooking process is make the patties in advance and chill for 20-30 minutes (or up to 2 hours) before cooking.
•This recipe makes about 1 dozen burgers – way too many burgers for the normal dinner crew. I have found that the burgers last longer if you just cook them all at once and then freeze the leftovers. If you refrigerate the mixture to cook later, it tends to dry out.
•Another option for the excessive veggie burger mixture is to make however many burgers you want and make a vegetarian meatloaf with the rest. Sometimes I make 4 burgers and put the rest in a 2-quart square ceramic baking dish (spray with non-stick spray first). Pack the loaf into the dish and cover in foil. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 375º F. After about 20 minutes, remove the foil and cook an additional 5-10 minutes until the top is browned and the inside is cooked through (should be barely moist).






Vegan Chili

3 08 2010

This vegetarian chili is a little non-traditional in that A) it has a nice Middle Eastern/Indian flavor, and B) it is actually quite good for you. Every spoonful will deliver hearty beans and chunks of veggies, and the only fat in the dish is what comes naturally from the beans (which is fairly minimal). But this isn’t one of those veggie soups that you love because it tastes okay and is really good for you. This stuff tastes really good! Meat- and non-meat-eaters alike have fallen for this chili, and I hope you will, too!

veg chili


Ingredients:

•5 garlic cloves
•3 medium cooking onions
•3 celery ribs
•1 green bell pepper
•1 red bell pepper
•1 orange or yellow bell pepper
•2 small zucchini
•2 small yellow squash
•2 cups yellow corn kernels (fresh, canned or frozen)
•28 oz can red kidney beans
•28 oz can black beans
•28 oz can garbanzo beans
•15 oz can pinto beans
•28 oz can diced tomatoes
•15 oz can tomato sauce
•4 Tbs tomato paste
•2 tsp chili powder
•1 Tbs cumin
•1 Tbs coriander
•2 tsb cayenne pepper
•salt and pepper to taste


Directions:

1. Finely chop the garlic. Chop the rest of the vegetables so that they are roughly the same size (you want them to cook at the same speed). I generally chop into larger pieces so you can bite into the vegetables, but smaller pieces will cook faster.
2. Rinse and drain all beans (and corn, if canned).
3. Combine all ingredients in a large (8 quart) saucepan.
4. Once all ingredients are thoroughly combined, cover and heat over medium heat. Stir occasionally.
chili 35. Once the chili begins to simmer, turn the heat down to medium-low and cook until vegetables are tender. Stir regularly to make sure the bottom does not burn.
6. It should take about an hour from the time you turn on the burner to when the vegetables become tender, but timing will depend on your pot, stove and size of vegetable pieces.


Recommended Serving Instructions:

chili 4My preferred way to serve this chili is with a dollop of plain yogurt, and if I want a little extra spice, a dash of cayenne pepper. The cool dairy and little extra spice go well with the cumin and coriander. However, don’t worry! You can still sprinkle with chopped onion, shredded cheddar cheese and/or some sour cream and serve with corn tortilla chips. Or even serve in a bread bowl. The traditional chili accompaniments work quite nicely!


Tips:

•Where’s the liquid? When you first combine the ingredients, you’ll notice there is very little liquid/sauce. Don’t worry, as you cook the vegetables, water will be released and it will get cooked into the sauce. You don’t want to add any additional liquid because it will become too soupy. This should be fairly thick.
•The timing for cooking the chili is really more of a suggestion. About an hour is the bare minimum of what you should do. If you want something lighter and crunchier, do less time (just note the flavors may be less cohesive). I tend to let it simmer a little longer (an additional 20 minutes or even more), to make sure the flavors fully develop. You’ll be surprised how long the veggies will hold up before becoming too soggy or overcooked.
•This dish is freezer friendly. It makes 4 to 5 quarts. When I was living alone I would make it and freeze in several single-serving containers and it would last several weeks.






Easy, Cheesy, Cream Sauce

27 07 2010

gnocchi and cheeseThis recipe is my standard go-to for when I crave something creamy and rich. I just whip up this sauce and add it to pasta with some fresh veggies, or make a quick and easy mac n’ cheese. The great thing about this sauce is that (in terms of cream sauce), it’s relatively not bad for you. It is thick and rich and tasty, but predominantly low-fat milk with a little butter, oil and cheese.

Sundried tomato gnocchi in cream sauce pictured above.


Ingredients:

•2 Tbs butter
•1 Tbs olive oil
•3 cloves of garlic, minced
•2 Tbs flour
•1/2 cup parmesan cheese
•2 1/2 cups low-fat milk
•4 large leaves of fresh basil, finely chopped (plus extra for garnish)
•salt and pepper to taste


Directions:

cheese sauce1. In a large saucepan, heat butter and olive oil over medium heat.
2. Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute.
3. Combine flour and heat for 3 minutes (stirring constantly), until it forms a golden brown paste.
4. Stir in parmesan until it begins to melt.
5. Begin slowly adding milk, whisking constantly from now on. Begin with just a splash, then up to 1/2 a cup at a time. After each addition, keep whisking and wait to add more until sauce is heated again and slightly thickened.
6. After all milk is added, reduce heat to medium-low and add basil and salt and pepper to taste (you won’t need much salt at all).


Recommended Serving Instructions:

While the sauce is still warm and over the burner, add your favorite cooked pasta (or sundried tomato gnocchi – pictured above). Mix until evenly coated and heated. Immediately serve and sprinkle with some fresh basil and/or cracked black pepper. If you add macaroni, ziti, penne (or any other similar tube pasta) you can then place in a baking dish and make a delicious, white, baked mac n’ cheese. Sprinkle the top with more parmesan and/or bread crumbs, cover with foil, and bake at 400º F for about 20 minutes. Then remove the foil and bake until the top is browned to your liking.


Tips:

•Try mixing this up by replacing the parmesan cheese with some other kind of cheese (chevre, brie, gorgonzola, etc.). Just be conscious of the fact that you may need to alter the amount of cheese you add depending on the kind. If you add a stronger cheese (gorgonzola), you may need less, or if you use a more mild cheese (chevre), you may need more.
•A little goes a long way! You’ll find you just need to lightly coat your pasta with this sauce, so you’ll likely have leftovers. That’s fine – it keeps relatively well. Just refrigerate or freeze in plastic containers, or even jar it.