Green Beans with Honey-Mustard Glaze

This past week, we were able to harvest the first green beans (ok, bush beans) from our garden. We picked almost an entire gallon Ziplock-full…with several more that should be ready any day now. Between our garden and CSA, we’ve had a lot of green beans to eat – needless to say I’ve been looking for new ways to make them, other than casseroles and simply steamed/boiled (I don’t know about you, but I get tired of steamed vegetables really, really quickly).

I came across this recipe during an internet search and was immediately drawn to it by its use of mustard seeds. I had a small bag of them in my pantry from buying them for a recipe ages ago – and had just enough for this recipe. Lo and behold – I also had just enough honey for this recipe, too. All signs were pointing to YES!

Green Beans with Honey-Mustard Glaze

from Real Simple

  • 2 lbs green beans, trimmed
  • 3 tbsp whole mustard seeds
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup rice vinegar
  1. Bring a large saucepan or medium-sized pot of water to a boil.
  2. Once the water is boiling, add the green beans and cook, uncovered, for 5 to 7 minutes. Drain and set aside in a large bowl.
  3. Dry the pot and return it to the stove; turn on heat to low. Toast the mustard seeds until they begin to pop (about 1 minute). Consistently stir to prevent scorching.
  4. Add the honey and vinegar and cook until the sauce comes to a boil and becomes syrupy. Drizzle over the green beans; toss and serve.

 

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This recipe was fast! We were able to tag-team dinner; Mike made burgers and I made the green beans in about 15-20 minutes flat. It was absolutely perfect for a busy Monday, and it gave us some much-needed variety with all the green beans that we’ve been eating (not that I’m complaining – fresh green beans while in season are wonderful!)

There is a really nice balance between the honey, rice vinegar, and mustard. It’s not too savory, not too vinegary. I am wondering, however, how this would work with apple cider vinegar instead of the rice vinegar.

If you’re stuck in a rut with your green beans, and have a nice amount of mustard seeds in your cabinet to use up – definitely go ahead and try this recipe. You’ll enjoy it!

 

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Asparagus and Goat Cheese Salad

Hi everyone! Long time, no post. Sorry to those of you who read my blog often – it’s been one heck of a month over here. I’ve been relatively busy during the week with concerts and school wrap-up…and then we’ve been go-go-going almost every weekend (minus the one where I stayed home on a Friday with a stomach flu). There hasn’t been a lot of time for culinary inspiration; my Saved folder on Feedly has grown immensely and the Cooking Light magazines have piled up a bit. However, I’m happy to say that I have 12 actual days left until the end of the school year, and 15 until I jump back in at the bakery for the summer 🙂 Things are starting to slow down…and fewer things are better than slowing down for summer 🙂

Last weekend I had the pleasure of flying down to North Carolina to see my brother-in-law (and now my new sister-in-law) get married in Durham. It was a gorgeous wedding and it was great to see so much family and friends (we stopped in Clayton Sunday night to visit some good friends of ours); better yet, we managed to bring  spring weather back to Northern Michigan! I had a lot of time in airports and vehicles to catch up on reading blog posts, magazines, and even a book on my Kindle…glorious. On our flight back north, I am came across this recipe, and knew that it would be the perfect dish to make that evening to help us ‘detox’ from our weekend. It was a snap to make, and Mike & I both really enjoyed it.

Asparagus and Goat Cheese Salad

adapted from Cooking Light (May 2014)

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • a sprinkle of salt and pepper
  • 1 lb asparagus spears, trimmed
  • 2 cups mixed baby lettuce/spinach greens
  • 2 oz goat cheese, crumbled
  • 3 tbsp chopped pecans, toasted
  • 1 tsp dried tarragon
  • 1/2 tsp dried parsley

For the dressing:

  • 1 cup water
  • rind of 1 lemon, julienned
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp white wine
  • juice of 1 lemon (use the one that you skinned)
  • 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • another sprinkle of salt and pepper
  • 5 tsp olive oil
  1. Combine the teaspoon of olive oil, the asparagus, and a dash of salt and pepper in large bowl and toss to coat. Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the asparagus and cook until the asparagus is lightly charred. Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. In a measuring cup, pour in the water. Microwave for 2 minutes or until water just boils. Add the lemon rind; let it stand 20 seconds. Drain the water and reserve the rind. 
  3. In a small saucepan, add the rind, orange juice, and sugar. Whisk together, and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low; cook until the mixture reduces to about 3 tablespoons.
  4. Combine the wine, lemon juice, mustard, salt & pepper in a small bowl; stir with a whisk. Gradually add the five teaspoons of olive s oil, stirring constantly with a whisk. Stir in orange juice mixture.
  5. In a large bowl, layer the lettuces with the asparagus. Top with the cheese, pecans and herbs. Drizzle the dressing over the top; toss if desired.

 

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I’m actually relatively new to the use of cast-iron skillets. I’ve had them in my cupboards for a long time, but wasn’t exactly sure how to use them other than over an open flame when camping. So, shoring up the asparagus in the skillet was a very easy tech week that I can use again and again, especially on nights where I don’t want to fire up the grill. I must note that I also used the cast iron toast the pecans; another technique that I’ve never tried. They were amazing on the salad and if you are not allergic, make sure that you include them when you make this.

If you love asparagus as much as we do, then I highly recommend this salad. The combination of asparagus and goat cheese is not one that I would’ve thought of before, but I really enjoyed the combination of flavors. And of course, homemade dressing beats anything out of the bottle, any day.

I’m really excited to add this to my repertoire of salads!

Pasta with Lemon Cream Sauce and Spring Vegetables

Lately it seems as though many food bloggers are jumping into spring flavors – lots of citrus and lemon…spring vegetables…I think we’re all a little *over* those winter soups and stews. Then again, it’s still cool enough for casseroles  (or at least it is in my neck of the woods). Okay, okay, and tomato soup. But that’s besides the point 🙂

I knew once the weather started to “turn” that I too was in the mood for a light pasta with plenty of fresh, spring vegetables. I’m not really one for alfredo and cream sauces as I feel they’re so thick, heavy, and pretty terrible for you – much to the dismay of my husband. I was really pleased to come across this recipe from Cooking Light – they’re constantly working on lightening up dishes without sacrificing flavor. Thus, a cream sauce that was ‘lightened up’ would please both the palates and waistlines in our home!

Pasta with Lemon Cream Sauce and Spring Vegetables

adapted from Cooking Light

  • 8 ounces uncooked rotini or fusilli (aka ‘curly pasta’)
  • 1/2 lb asparagus – woody ends snapped off, and sliced into bite sized pieces
  • 1 cup frozen green peas, thawed
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (or the juice of one lemon)
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • a dash of cayenne pepper, if you like
  • OPTIONAL: Parmesan cheese & dried parsley, for topping
  1. Cook pasta until just al dente. Add the sliced asparagus during the last minute of the pasta boil. Drain the pasta mixture and return to the pot; add the peas and mix around (the heat will thaw the peas).
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat; melt the butter. Add the garlic to the pan and sauté for a minute.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the broth and cornstarch until well-blended. Add this broth mixture to pan and bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute or until thick, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.
  4. To the pan, add the cream, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and cayenne. Add in the pasta & vegetables and toss to coat.  Serve immediately, with parmesan and parsley on top (if you like).

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This dish was incredibly delicious and perfect for a lazy Sunday evening. It was fast and very easy to make. The cream and lemon flavors balance each other out really well and highlights the asparagus and peas. There were absolutely zero leftovers for the next day, so I’m not quite sure how well this would reheat – though I imagine it would be just as fantastic the next day.

I would make this again in a flash – good thing asparagus is still relatively in season! 🙂

**Shared on the Homemade Mondays series at Frugal by Choice, Cheap by Necessity**

Risotto with Spinach and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Risotto is one of my most favorite comfort foods; one I only discovered about four years ago. I’ve finally started to broaden my horizons and make versions other than my absolute favorite recipe. This one was on my meal plan for a few weeks, as I had some spinach and sun-dried tomatoes that I really needed to use up. But because risotto takes a lot of time – it’s not a meal that you can quickly cook – I kept bumping it further and further back. Finally, I found a little bit of free time to make this version of risotto – I’m very pleased with the result, and I also feel that Liz will be especially relieved that I finally made it!

Risotto with Spinach and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

adapted from My Favourite Pastime

  •  6-8 cups stock/broth
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tablespoons butter
  • ½ cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 4 cups spinach, washed & shredded
  • 6 sundried tomatoes, drained and chopped (mine were vacuum sealed, not in oil)
  • ½ cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano
  • salt & pepper
  1. In a saucepan, heat the olive oil & butter over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook until they begin to soften.
  2. Add the garlic and rice and stir for about 2 minutes until it just starts to brown a little.
  3. Add the wine and reduce the heat. Stir constantly until the wine has been absorbed.
  4. Add a cup of your stock to the rice, and stir. When the rice has fully absorbed the liqud, add more stock – a little at a time.
  5. One all the stick has been absorbed, your right should be nice and soft, with a creamy texture. Add the spinach and tomatoes. Add salt & pepper to taste, then add the parmesan cheese. Toss into the rice, and serve hot.

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It’s a colorful meal, isn’t it?

I will absolutely make this again, especially once CSA season rolls around again and I have plenty of fresh chard & spinach. If you don’t like parmesan, you can always change the cheese to mozzarella – I think that would taste just as great. I also wonder what this would taste like with a little lemon zest. I ended up taking the leftovers for lunch; I honestly don’t mind leftover risotto, unlike someone else I know 😉

In the meantime, if you’re expecting yet another winter storm, I highly suggest putting this on the docket for dinner. It’s comforting, flavorful and warms you right up!

 

Colcannon

I don’t know about you, but I’m officially ready for all things green, and it’s not even St. Patrick’s Day anymore. I’ve bookmarked so many festive, spring-y recipes in the past three days alone that I may have to spend extra time in my kitchen once our water troubles are over, just so I can get into the spirit. I’m quite tired of the winter blues.

This year for St. Patrick’s Day, we decided to bake our corned beef brisket rather than boil with vegetables. In previous years, we always end up with a ton of leftover cabbage, and not a lot of the really flavorful ‘stuff’.  Plus, since we’re grown-ups and had to work, neither of us could stay home and drink cook all day. Ah, those were the days…

…anyway, this was the recipe that I made to go along with our corned beef. We needed something tasty, yet easy to whip up – you all know how Mondays are! What’s even better is that I didn’t have to buy any cabbage – I had a half-head of it in my freezer, leftover from our CSA. It was the perfect amount needed to whip up this recipe for colcannon.

Colcannon

adapted from Barefeet in the Kitchen

  • 1-2 tbsp bacon bits
  • 2 lbs small red potatoes, cut into 1″ pieces
  • 1 tsp canola oil
  • 1/2 head cabbage
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • Kosher salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1 tbsp butter
  1. In a pot, bring the potatoes to a boil. Continue until the potatoes are fork tender (around 15-20 minutes).
  2. Around ten minutes into the potato boil, heat the oil in a large skillet, over medium-high heat. Add the onions and saute until lightly browned.
  3. Add the cabbage and periodically toss as it cooks down. Add some salt & pepper as you go. Add the bacon bits and toss to combine. At this point, make sure to check the potatoes – if they are nowhere near done, turn off the cabbage so that it does not burn.
  4. Once the potatoes are finished cooking, drain and return them back to the pot. Add the milk, butter and a dash of salt and pepper; mash away!
  5. Add the cabbage mixture to the potatoes and mix well.
Staying classy on a paper plate. I blame the pipes.

Staying classy on a paper plate. I blame the pipes.

I never really thought about putting bacon into colcannon until I found the original recipe for this post. It really adds a little something extra to the dish (and probably to my waistline, too). Obviously, you are more than welcome to omit the bacon if you so choose. I used bacon bits because that’s what I had in my refrigerator, and I didn’t really feel it was necessary to really grease up the skillet any more than I needed to (especially with all the plumbing issues we’ve been having).

This dish is delicious, easy on the wallet, and definitely not the worst thing you could consume on St. Patrick’s Day.

Acorn Squash Soup

I just did a calculation and there’s only 4 more months until warm weather – March, April, May, June! Granted, February just started, but some of us up here are snowed in and frozen solid…

…anyway, the squash that we received during our CSA this past summer has lasted a relatively long time. In fact, I still have some laying around and it needs to be used up. This soup that I made utilized the acorn squash that I hadn’t used yet. This really hit the spot on a cold snowy day when basketball & pep band were cancelled. 

You need to do one of two things with this recipe: either 1) roast the squash ahead of time, or 2) have a good 2+ hours to make dinner. Trust me on this one.

Acorn Squash Soup

Adapted from Guy Fieri

  • 3 whole acorn squash
  • 6 shallots (3 whole, 3 diced)
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 4 cups stock (I used chicken)
  • cayenne pepper to taste
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper (white pepper is so…weird)
  • 1 tsp sage (dry)
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 tsp marjoram
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  1. DO THIS STEP AHEAD OF TIME IF NEEDED: Preheat the oven to 350*. Cut the squash in half on the equator and remove the seeds with a spoon. Cut a flat spot on each end so the squash will lay flat. Line a baking sheet with foil and on, lay the squash, cut side up. To 3 of the halves, add a whole shallot. To the other 3 add 2 cloves of garlic. Sprinkle with salt & pepper and drizzle with 2 tbsp of the oil. Roast in the oven until very tender; approximately 1 hour. Remove from oven & when cool enough to touch, scoop the squash from the skin, keeping the roasted shallots & garlic with the scooped squash.
  2. In a large Dutch oven, heat 1 tbsp of oil and the butter over medium-high heat. Add the raw, diced shallots & saute until they begin to carmelize.
  3. Deglaze the pan with 1/2 cup of the stock and stir to remove any bits of shallot off of the bottom of the pan. Reduce the heat and add the squash, roasted shallots & roasted garlic. Stir,then add in the remaining stock. Stir to combine, then puree with a stick blender.
  4. Add in the cayenne, white pepper, and herbs. Stir to combine, then add the cream and Worcestershire. Heat over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally until it begins to simmer.
  5. Once you have a slow simmer going, use the stick blender again to puree the soup until it is nice and smooth. Stir in the parmesan and reduce the heat to low.

You can serve the soup topped with black pepper, a drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkle of Parmesan, or even some Tabasco sauce, like we did:

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We had some fresh bread with ours…mmm!

While making this soup, I finally realized why I haven’t used up all of my squash yet – I really don’t like all the scooping & scraping that comes with its preparation. If only there were an easier way…I really do like how squash is such a palette for flavors, but I really don’t like all the work that goes into it.

Sadly, I have 4 more squashes to go…

Make sure that if you can, get some fresh bread to eat with this soup! I picked up a loaf of Breadworks Italian and it was really fantastic for getting the last spoonfuls out of the bowl. The older I get, the more I realize that soup can truly be a comfort food.

Polenta Tamale Pie & The Freezer

For the past month or so, I’ve had this tube of polenta sitting in my pantry. I like polenta a lot – and have seen quite a few recipes that include it – but just never got around to it. I really liked the idea of using it with a Mexican-flavored dish, so off to the internet I went.

I came back with polenta tamale pie. Mike is a huge fan of tamales, so I figured this would be a great dish to try. There are so many recipes out there for this, so I ended up reading through a few and just going for it, so to speak – the two links I’ve linked to gave me the best directions based on what I had sitting in my pantry & freezer.

Polenta Tamale Pie

Inspired by Bon Appetit & Eat, Live, Run

  • 1 tube polenta – sliced into 1/4″-thick rounds
  • 1 tsp canola oil
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2/3 lb ground beef
  • 1 can refried beans with green chiles
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • a dash of cayenne pepper
  • salsa
  • 4 oz shredded Mexican-blend or sharp cheddar cheese
  1. Preheat the oven to 350*.
  2. In a skillet, heat the oil over medium heat and add the onion; cook for a few minutes until the onions start to get a little soft.
  3. Add the garlic and the ground beef at the same time – keep an eye on the garlic so that it doesn’t burn. Once the ground beef has been cooked through, turn off the heat and drain the mixture in a colander in the sink.
  4. In a bowl, mix the ground beef with the refried beans. Add the spcies and salsa, and mix to combine.
  5. In a baking dish, layer about half of the polenta rounds to cover the bottom. Then pour your beef & bean mixture on top of that. Lay the second half of the polenta rounds over the mixture, and cover with cheese.
  6. Cover and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the cover, and bake for 15 more minutes (a total of 30 minutes total). Serve with sour cream and cilantro, and a side of yellow rice, if desired.

Sadly, I don’t have a picture of my tamale pie, because my husband someone had dug right into the pie before I could snap a picture…and this is one of those dishes that doesn’t look very appetizing once someone has started digging into it. But, you’re going to have to trust me on this one. It’s delicious!

You can easily, easily make this a vegetarian (or maybe even vegan if you omit the cheese?) dish by making your mixture with corn, tomatoes, and pinto or black beans, instead of ground beef and refried beans. More than likely, this is what I’m going to do next time I make this dish. You really wouldn’t “miss” the meat, persay. You could even do ground turkey instead of beef, to lighten it up – I used beef because I have some in my freezer, and wanted to use some up before transferring it to the new chest freezer!!!

I’ve had my chest freezer for 24 hours and I’m already in love. The freezer in our kitchen refrigerator is terrible – it defrosts ice cubes – and the freezer in the garage is even worse, especially with the frigid weather we’ve been having. It was an affordable necessity. I also purchased a small FoodSaver to see if that will help me freeze extra meat and vegetables better, especially when CSA season starts and I want to preserve vegetables. So far, the 2 lbs of ground beef I vacuum-packed & froze have held up well. I’m sold 😉

So, in a nutshell, that’s what’s been up over here in my kitchen. Tamale pie, and a new freezer. All while it’s freezing cold outside.