Roasted Beets with Feta

It’s beet season! I think beets are one of those vegetables that can often get a bad rap. They look kind of funny when you pull them out of the ground…they stain everything…and they do have an earthy taste. Then again, I grew up eating beets (albeit out of a can, but I did eat them) so I guess it’s one of those vegetables where you love ’em, or you don’t.

The best way to get your beets ready to eat is to roast them. Because of the sugar, they carmelize really nicely and sweeten right up. All you need to do to roast them is trim off the greens, wrap each beet with aluminum foil, and roast for about an hour or two or until they soften (see recipe below). Let them cool and use your hands to gently peel off the skin under running cold water (it seriously rubs right off). You may or may not want to wear gloves during the peeling process because there is plenty of magenta-colored juice under that skin!

This recipe was given to me by my husband’s step mom, who made this with some beets they had also received from their Fresh Fork basket. My father-in-law is not a fan of beets, but really liked this dish. I’m not sure if it made him a believer (beet-leiver? Ha!) of sorts, but she was was really pleased with the result and forwarded it to me. And now, I share the love with you.

Roasted Beets with Feta

from Allrecipes.com

  • 4 beets, trimmed of greens
  • 1/4 cup minced shallots
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, minced
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar (or more to taste)
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar (or more to taste)
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • salt and pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 400*F. Wrap each beet individually in aluminum foil, and place onto a baking sheet or into a muffin pan (to keep them from rolling around). Bake the beets in the preheated oven until easily pierced with a fork, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  2. While the beets are in the oven, make your vinaigrette: whisk together the shallot, parsley, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and red wine vinegar in a bowl until it blends. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and set aside. Periodically whisk together to keep the dressing emulsified.
  3. Once the beets are done, remove them from the oven and let cool. Discard the foil and peel the beets under cold running water, and cut into 1/4 inch slices. Again, you may want to wear gloves or you risk staining your hands!
  4. Place the sliced beets onto a serving dish or into a bowl and pour the vinaigrette over the beets, and sprinkle with feta cheese.

imageI have to admit, my picture is a bit terrible…but you get the idea.

This is a great side dish to share with others, or just to keep all for yourself (if you like beets, like I do). The leftovers lasted maybe a day or two, tops.

Maybe my recipe will make a beet-liever out of you. Maybe you’ll make it and still hate beets! But I figure it’s at least worth a shot, especially if you are looking for a vegetable that is a bit more in season for this time of year.

Enjoy!

Harissa Ravioli

I have a fun one for you today!

We’re now combining the concept of ‘eating less meat’ and ‘Lent’. I’ve been searching high and low for a few new meatless meals that aren’t all about grains and dairy (which we all know hold the first several spots in my list of favorite foods) and may be relative nice on the waistline.

I came across this one in a cookbook that had been circulating around the bakery; lately we’ve been passing around a cookbook or two to get inspired in our own kitchens. I came across this recipe and was hooked because of its use of harissa.

Harissa is a spicy chili pepper paste that is THE condiment of Tunisia. It has a very rich, spicy flavor and is used for meats, vegetables, dips…you name it. There are several different variations of harissa; all of which vary based upon household preferences and regions. Our version that I found at Spice Merchants (I loooooove this store) includes caraway, cumin, coriander, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, sea salt, and dried chiles. It has such a neat flavor profile and after trying this recipe, I cannot wait to use it again (I’m thinking roasted veggies).

 

Harissa Ravioli

adapted from Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Every Day

  • 1 garlic clove, smashed
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp harissa paste/powder
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 12-oz cheese ravioli (fresh or frozen) (tortellini works too)
  • 8 oz broccoli florets, trimmed and cut into bite-sized pieces (broccolini/rapini works too)
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted (almonds or pepitas work, too)
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 5 or 6 kalamata olives, sliced
  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil. While it’s heating up, prepare the harissa mixture: Take the smashed garlic clove and sprinkle the salt over it. Then, chop into a paste. Transfer this to a small bowl and stir in the lemon juice, harissa, and olive oil. Taste and add more salt if needed.
  2. Once the water is boiling, add the ravioli. Cook until they float to the top of the water (usually 1-2 minutes is all it takes). About 30 seconds before the ravioli has finished cooking, add the broccoli to the pot. Boil for about 30 seconds to a minute, then remove from heat.
  3. Put the ravioli and broccoli in a large mixing bowl. Add the harissa mixutre, nuts, cheese and olives. Toss to combine and serve.

This meal from start to finish took approximately 20 minutes to make and was absolutely perfect for a weeknight meal and a Lenten Friday, at that. I used spinach & cheese ravioli; you can use whatever kind you wish, however. The leftovers heated up very well for my hubby and it really was a nice change from our usual meal line-up as of late. The harissa does have a kick, so if you are a bit wary of the heat, use less sauce when you mix up the ravioli for serving.  It’s simple, flavorful and relatively healthy, too.

If you see harissa at your local store, pick some up and give it a try. It’s a really neat condiment that adds depth, heat and flavor to what are otherwise ordinary ingredients. As I said before, I’m thinking that roasted veggies with harissa will be next 🙂

Crockpot Potato Soup

At this moment I’m texting my parents and siblings about the crazy weather back in Cleveland, and I’m gloating about the fact that northern Michigan is not receiving any snow. It is however, bitter cold out there with temperatures just above single digits (in comparison to last year, though, these temperatures are just fine; we’ll take ’em). It is perfect soup, stew and casserole weather.

Every time I make soup, I always remember how much I like to eat it and wonder why I do not make it more often. My husband is an even bigger fan of it, too. If made right, they’re satisfying, filling, and chock-full of all the stuff that’s really good for you. What’s not to love?

My February schedule is, for a lack of a better word, ridiculous. I do not have a lot of time during the week to really cook and have fun doing it, so I’ve got to think ahead and be practical these next few weeks – our Crockpot in particular is really going to have to pull its weight.

This soup is a crockpot recipe that really worked well yesterday. I spent my Saturday working in the bakery, so it was my husband’s job to finish up cooking and get dinner ready by the time I rolled in at 6:30. It’s delicious, filling and really hit the spot.

Crockpot Potato Soup

adapted from Cooking Classy

  • 3 lbs russet potatoes (or any potatoes that you have hanging around), peeled and diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 6 cups chicken/veggie broth
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • several dashes of salt and pepper
  • a dash of celery seed (if desired)
  • a dash of paprika (if desired)
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • your favorite potato toppings (cheese, bacon, green onions, etc.)
  1. In a 6 quart crockpot, add the potato, onion, broth, milk, and seasonings. Cover with the lid and cook – 4 hours on high, or 8 hours on low.
  2. When you’re about ready to eat, measure out two cups of the liquid from the slow cooker. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Once the butter has melted, gradually add the flour and whisk to combine. Whisk in the reserved liquid. Once this mixture is nice and thick, pour it all back into the crockpot.
  3. At this point, you can either a) use a potato masher or emulsion blender to break down or puree the potatoes, or b) leave it alone. Whatever you decide, afterwards turn up the heat on the crockpot to high and let the mixture thicken up (it takes about 10 minutes).
  4. Once the soup is nice and thick, turn the heat to warm and stir in the sour cream. Serve topped with loaded potato ingredients, or mix ’em in.

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This soup was very low-maintenance and tasted great! My husband ended up adding the bacon to the soup, and leaving the cheese and scallions for topping later. We did notice that after a day or two in the refrigerator, the soup did condense a little bit – but it wasn’t anything that a little heat and stirring couldn’t fix when we were ready to eat it.

What impressed me the most was using evaporated milk – I had never thought to use that for a soup before, but it makes so much sense! It adds depth and richness to a soup, without overloading it with a ton of fat like regular heavy cream or even half-n-half would. I’ve used it already in another creamy crockpot soup and it really works. Obviously this soup wouldn’t work as a vegan dish, but would be so for vegetarians or Meatless Mondays.

If you’re as busy as we are, and as cold as we are, I could not recommend this soup more! Enjoy!

 

Roasted Tomato and Eggplant Soup

This post is excruciatingly belated – partly because I’m behind in blogging, and partly because I wanted to wait until the weather started to turn to post this recipe. Thanks to my husband, I’ve grown to really love and appreciate having soup for dinner. It makes great leftovers and is a satisfying meal; with my culinary ADD, the more veggies and herbs, the better! 🙂 Thus it’s now fall and I’m *finally* ready for soups and stews.

I came across this recipe back in August, when my CSA was chock-full of tomatoes and eggplant. Especially eggplant. I had a Sunday afternoon to play around in my kitchen, and I decided to make this soup ahead of time to freeze for cooler weather. I’m thankful that I did – this soup really hit the spot during our first chilly week up here!

 

Roasted Tomato and Eggplant Soup

adapted from Martha Stewart

  • 3 pounds roma tomatoes,cored and cut in half
  • 1/2 lb carrots, sliced into 3/4-inch pieces
  • 10 cloves garlic (cut it back a bit if you like)
  • 4 tbsp
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 large eggplant, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch chunks
  • 1 15-oz can chickpeas, rinsed & drained
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • cilantro – for serving
  • rustic bread – for serving
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees . Make sure that you have two racks in your oven, towards the middle.
  2. On a baking sheet, toss together the tomatoes carrots, garlic, and half of the oil. Spread into a single layer and arrange the tomatoes with cut sides down. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  3. On another baking sheet, toss together the eggplant, chickpeas, curry powder, and the rest of the oil. Spread in a single layer.
  4. Place both sheets in oven, putting the tomato mixture on the higher rack. Roast until the veggies are tender for 45-50 minutes, tossing each mixture halfway through.
  5. Remove baking sheets from oven. Using tongs, peel off the skins from the tomatoes & discard the skins. Transfer the tomato mixture into a large pot and puree with an immersion blender (if you don’t have one, use a food processor or blender). Thin with 2-3 cups of water; add eggplant mixture and continue to blend. Add an additional cup of water if desired.
  6. Turn on heat to medium-high and bring the soup to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper. Serve topped with cilantro and with a side of crusty bread.
Roasted Tomato and Eggplant Soup

Roasted Tomato and Eggplant Soup

Because of the chickpeas, this soup is ridiculously filling – thus a little goes a long way! Since I had made it ahead of time and froze it, the soup was a snap to defrost and eat on a chilly Monday. The cilantro adds a nice touch to it, and of course we ate it with some fresh bread!

While the ingredients may be a little out of ordinary, they are all things that can be found in your local grocery store (or CSA). You could even save yourself the step of peeling tomatoes by using canned tomatoes; just roast the garlic with the chickpeas.

Oh yeah – I realized after the fact that this soup is also vegan! 🙂 So, hooray for a satisfying soup that is filling, nutritious, and contains no animal products whatsoever (even though we all know that I am borderline meatatarian). Try this – you won’t be disappointed!

 

Jalapeño Coleslaw

Summer is all about cookouts, and with it being late summer, these gatherings are still in full force. I’m not complaining one bit – the next few weekends for us are filled with plenty of get-togethers with friends and family. Obviously, it’s good to have several ‘entertaining’ dishes up your sleeve for these occasions.

My husband is a big fan of coleslaw. With me, I could take it or leave it – at least, the stuff that you see pre-made at the deli and/or sold in bulk. I had never tried my hand at homemade coleslaw up until a week or two ago. Now that I have, it might be safe to say that I’ve turned a corner of sorts.

Don’t let the name fool you – this coleslaw does have a jalapeno pepper in it, but it isn’t overpowering at all. It gives just a bit of a bite.

Jalapeño Coleslaw

adapted from Serious Eats

For the Dressing:

  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 3 tbsp lime juice
  • 3 tbsp cilantro, finely chopped – I used the stuff that they sell in the tube. Love it.
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper

For the Slaw:

  • 1 large head of green cabbage
  • 1-2 carrots; peeled and grated
  • 1 large jalapeno – stemmed, seeded and diced (unless you want it super hot)
  1. Make the dressing: whisk together all dressing ingredients. Set aside (or in the refrigerator).
  2. Make the slaw: Using a mandolin, shred the cabbage; if you don’t have one, then finely chop it by hand.
  3. Combine the cabbage, carrot and jalapeno in a large bowl. If serving right away, pour dressing over vegetables and toss to coat. Add salt, pepper and/or sugar and season to taste. If serving later, refrigerate the slaw until ready to serve (or transport in a cooler). Mix everything together when it’s time to eat.
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I know, I know. Functionality over plating…

 

I really enjoyed this dish. We brought it over to a friend’s house for a cookout where they were serving pulled pork sandwiches. It paired really well together. The cumin, lime juice and pepper give this coleslaw a Southwestern flair to it; you could easily serve this with chicken or with fish tacos, too. It tastes wonderfully fresh and beats the store-bought slaw, hands down. Then again, homemade dishes beat store-bought ones anyways, right?

They say Labor Day is the end of summer, but don’t let it – keep on enjoying this great weather!

Chimichurri Sauce

I have to admit it – I’m a bit of a condiment/sauce queen. Our refrigerator is full of hot sauces, dressings, sauces, mustards…I love the zing and the variety that they bring to an otherwise typical meal in my house and I’ve found myself really putting forth some restraint during the summer months to not buy something new every week.

We’ve had our CSA parsley patiently waiting around, sitting in a glass and covered with a plastic bag. This technique has kept it fresh for the past several weeks, until I figured out how to use it. I then thought back to several years ago when I had made a flank steak with chimichurri sauce  for my fiancé’s birthday. I didn’t own a food processor back then so chopping herbs was really a chore. But, the end result was worth it and the sauce tasted amazing.

So, with newer kitchen gadgets and all the right ingredients, I whipped up this sauce in about 10 minutes – no manual chopping required! 😉

Chimichurri Sauce

adapted from Food and Wine

  • 1/4 cup parsley
  • 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 3-4 large garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp crushed red pepper (or more/less to taste)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  1. In a food processor, combine the parsley, vinegar, garlic, oregano and crushed red pepper. Process until smooth; season with salt and pepper. Add the olive oil and process again, until the oil and vinegar emulsifies.
  2. Taste a little bit of the sauce. Add more of any of the above ingredients if you wish. Pulse to process, and repeat as necessary.

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The chimichurri sauce smells and tastes amazing – it’s so bright and summery. I plan on making this with flank steak, but it would also taste great on fish. Why not on grilled vegetables, too…or for dipping bread?

I think it’s safe to say that the possibilities are endless with this savory, herby sauce.

Shared over yonder at Homemade Mondays, hosted by Frugal by Choice, Cheap by Necessity.

 

Stuffed Pattypan Squash

Patty-pan squash, as cute as they are, had taken up some ‘prime real estate’ in my crisper drawer over the past week (so to speak). Before, I had always just sliced them up and sautéed them, since they had a really nice shape and they’re so user-friendly because you don’t have to peel them. However, we all know that squash can become relatively boring, especially in the thick of summertime.

I began doing some research, as I often do, for new and exciting ideas. I came across this.

How could I have not thought of this earlier? I’ve seen stuffed zucchini again and again on my favorite blogs – why can’t I do the same thing with patty-pan squash? It’s the same idea as stuffed peppers, but if you aren’t a huge fan of bell peppers or just not in the mood, it could work really well…right? Right!

Stuffed Patty-pan Squash

Inspired by Oh My Veggies!

  1. Heat your oven to 350*. Ina small saucepan, prepare the Red Beans and Rice according to package directions.
  2. Take your patty-pan squash and carefully slice off both the stem top and the nubbin on the bottom, so that it sits flat. Scoop out the seedy insides, but leaving enough squash to hold in the rice.
  3. Spray a casserole dish with cooking spray. Arrange the squash in the dish; fill each squash with the rice mixture – and really fill them up. Then into the casserole dish, pour a 1/4-cup of water
  4. Cover with the dish lid or aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven.
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I topped mine with a little bit of cheese.

As you can see, I made the recipe with one of those really handy mixed rice packs that you find at the store. I had it in my pantry and truthfully was feeling pretty lazy from kayaking earlier in the day – so it worked out really well. The squash is very filling, too, which I know that my husband appreciated after coming home hungry from playing soccer.

I think this could really work with other types of mixed rice products out there. Be sure to read your labels if you’re trying to avoid MSG or insanely processed foods. I’m sure that making your own filling with rice and other assorted spices/vegetables could work as well. The best part about this is that because zucchini & squash are so versatile, the possibilities are pretty endless. I’d like to try this with Asian-inspired flavors to see how it turns out.

So, now I have yet another fun way to use those adorable patty-pan squash 🙂 Try it out for yourself; I don’t think you’ll be very disappointed!

 – Shared on Homemade Mondays at Frugal by Choice, Cheap by Necessity