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!






Baba Ghanoush

27 10 2010

baba ghanoush 1I have always been a big fan of this creamy, smoky dip. As I was walking through the farmer’s market the other day, I saw some beautiful eggplant and was instantly inspired to attempt making some from scratch. It turned out to be surprisingly simple and incredibly tasty.


Ingredients:

baba ghanoush•2 1-pound eggplants
•1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
•1/4 cup tahini
•3 Tbs lemon juice
•1 garlic clove, chopped
•pinch of salt
•freshly ground black pepper


baba ghanoush 2Directions:

1. Pre-heat oven to 375º F and generously oil a baking sheet.
2. Slice eggplants in half, lengthwise, and place cut side down onto the pan. Bake for about 50 minutes, until the flesh is very soft.
3. Scoop out the flesh into a strainer and place over a bowl. Let the eggplant drain excess liquid for 30 minutes.
4. Place all of the ingredients into a food processor or blender and blend until almost smooth.
5. Chill until use, allow to rest at least 1 hour.
6. Serve at room temperature.


Recommended Serving Instructions:

Serve at room temperature as a dip with pita bread or pita chips.






It’s Guacamole Time!

5 08 2010

I sometimes wonder if I am a pregnant woman stuck in a man’s body. I get cravings ALL the time! Right now, I’ve been craving guacamole pretty regularly. This recipe is just how I like it: simple, chunky, mashed avocado with a few other veggies, some light spices and a little heat. It’s super easy and refreshing to eat during these hot summer days!

guacamole


Ingredients:

•4 avocados
•juice of 1 lime
•1 medium jalapeno
•4 cloves of garlic
•1/2 large red onion
•1/2 pint of grape tomatoes
•large handful of fresh cilantro, finely chopped
•1/2 tsp cumin
•salt and pepper to taste


Directions:

1. Finely chop the jalapeno (remove seeds if you want a milder guacamole), garlic, red onion and tomatoes. Set aside.
2. Cut avocados in half, de-pit (whack sharp knife into the pit and twist out), scoop out the flesh and mash in a large bowl, leaving fairly chunky.
3. Squeeze the juice of 1 fresh lime over the avocado to prevent browning.
3. Add the chopped vegetables, cilantro, cumin, salt and pepper and mix with a fork until well incorporated.
4. Cover with plastic wrap or move into sealable container and chill for at least 30 minutes. This will allow the spices and heat to bleed into the dip.
5. Serve and enjoy!


guacamole tacosRecommended Serving Instructions:

Obviously, guacamole is great with tortilla chips or as a condiment for most any Mexican dish. However, when I’m craving guacamole (like I am now), I love making guacamole tacos (see below). It’s a great alternative to typical grilled veggie or fake meat tacos. Serve with some fresh brown rice and homemade refried black beans – easy, filling, balanced and delicious!






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.






Sundried Tomato Gnocchi

22 07 2010

I’ve never gotten into the whole make-your-own-pasta thing. But here’s one pasta I will make over and over again. The recipe is easy, malleable and produces delicious (non-traditional) gnocchi! Instead of waiting for potatoes to cook and using a special flour, you just have to purchase a container of ricotta and use the all-purpose flour you have sitting in your cupboard.

This is from yet another great recipe from the amazing BrokeAss Gourmet.

gnocchi


Ingredients:

•1 1/3 cup ricotta
•16 sundried tomatoes (from a jar), chopped
•1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
•2 1/2 cups flour
•2 egg yolks
•3 garlic cloves
•salt


Directions:

1. In a large bowl, mix ricotta, sundried tomatoes, parmesan, flour, yolks, garlic and a pinch of salt.
2. Mix until a sticky dough forms, adding more flour if/as necessary.
gnocchi 13. Turn out dough onto a floured surface roll into 4 or 5 long snakes, about 3/4 inches to 1 inch thick.
4. Cut into 1 inch pieces.
5. Bring a large pot of salted water to a light boil and add gnocchi. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until gnocchi floats to the surface.
6. Drain and serve with your favorite sauce.


Recommended Serving Instructions:

This gnocchi has a great flavor in and of itself, so you don’t want to serve it with anything overpowering. My favorite is what you see in the picture at the top. Sauté 2 cloves of garlic in 1 tablespoon of olive oil for a minute or two. Add the cooked gnocchi and pan-fry over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes, until the edges start to brown. Add 1/2 a pint of grape tomatoes (cut into halves), 2 cups of fresh spinach, and salt and pepper to taste. Sauté until the tomatoes start to soften and the spinach is wilted. Remove from the heat, sprinkle with a little parmesan and serve immediately.

This is also good in a simple cheesy cream sauce (think: most filling, rich, tasty pasta dish EVER). Also, a great appetizer is to take some cooked gnocchi, pan-fry in olive oil until the edges are caramelized, and serve as an appetizer with toothpicks and a tomato dipping sauce.


Tips:

•I liked the idea of having a couple bites of pure sundried tomatoes in my gnocchi, so I opted not to use the food processor and to just mix by hand (chopping the sundried tomatoes somewhat small beforehand). It was also for this reason that I opted to use jarred sundried tomatoes over dry ones. The recipe didn’t specify, but I would recommend this just to have the added moisture.
•My first inclination was to add all sorts of spices and herbs into the gnocchi. I did finally opt for some garlic. But there are two main takeaways here. 1) You can really mold this into whatever you want. Replace sundried tomatoes with some other flavorful veggie or herb (perhaps roasted garlic?). 2) Just be careful not to overdo it. It is, afterall, pasta – something that is normally basically flour and salt. One or two additional flavors is enough, and the more simple you make it, the more different things you can do with it once it is made.






The Perfect Hummus Recipe

14 06 2010

The thing about hummus is that there are almost as many ways to make hummus as there are to spell it. But this is the version I will most humbly call “the perfect hummus recipe.” It’s a little backwards in the order of steps (compared to most recipes I’ve come across). But it works well in a large blender (for those of you who don’t have a super large food processor) and comes out just as creamy and thick as any other hummus I’ve had. I’ve also played around with proportions of the various ingredients A LOT, and this is my favorite combination.

the perfect hummus


Ingredients:

•6 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
•8 Tbs tahini
•10 1/2 Tbs lemon juice
•16 oz can of chickpeas
•5 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
•2 1/2 tsp ground cumin
•salt
•ground black pepper


Directions:

1. Combine garlic, tahini and lemon juice in blender. Blend until thoroughly combined and relatively smooth.
2. Drain the chickpeas, reserving the liquid. Add the chickpeas and a tablespoon of liquid to the blender. Blend until smooth. Use a spatula to ensure chunks from the top make it to the bottom. If it is too thick, gradually add more of the liquid until it is smooth.
3. With the blender running (it should be okay to remove the lid at this point), gradually add the olive oil.
4. Add the cumin and salt and pepper to taste. Blend until well incorporated.
5. Put hummus in an airtight container, or cover in a bowl with plastic wrap, and chill until ready to serve (at least 1 hour or up to 1 day).


Recommended Serving Instructions:

Enjoy this dish with fresh raw vegetables, pan-fried zucchini, or baked pita chips. Use as a base for a Mediterranean wrap. Add flavor and depth to your favorite sandwich.


Tips:

•I recommend starting with this recipe and then tweaking on later batches. One thing it took me a while to learn is to DOCUMENT what you try each time. I made a few repeat mistakes and forgot amazing combinations because I didn’t keep close track of exactly how much I was adding of what.
•Use this recipe as a template. Like roasted red pepper hummus? Something spicier? Roasted garlic? Add your favorite flavor-enhancers and color-adders to this recipe. Just keep in mind that if it’s something more liquid, you will likely want to scale back on chickpea water. Or if it’s a thickening agent, you may want to add more.
•Have some old pita bread sitting around? Pull the pita apart into 2 thin halves and cut into small triangles. Bake in a single layer at about 200ºF for about 20-30 minutes. This is a great way to get rid of your almost-stale pita bread and a cheaper, healthier alternative to store-bought pita chips. You can also lightly brush the pita with olive oil and season with your favorite spices for something a little more impressive. I personally like a little garlic, sea salt, ground pepper and poppy seeds.