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Archive for the ‘autumn suppers’ Category

Oh, you MUST make this dish. I’m serious. Scroll straight down to the recipe, hurry out to the market to gather your ingredients, and put it on your table tonight. You and your family will be so happy that you did. It is so good. So, so good…

Despite the lack of ingredients, this is one of those dinners that clings to your taste buds making them sing and dance, awakening them with it’s full flavors. After every bite, you will continue to be surprised by the citrusy freshness of the kale, the incredible flavor of the beans, the way the feta cheese provides just enough tanginess, and the impeccable crunch of the tostada.

This meal is sort of like a healthy pizza. If you aren’t too familiar with tostadas (David wasn’t), then you should know tostada is a Spanish word meaning “toasted”. In Mexico, tostada refers to an open faced, flat, rigid tortilla spread with cheese, beans, sour cream, chopped lettuce, sliced onion, and salsa. Most of the time, the tortilla is deep fried to attain that toasted crunch, but I baked them in this meal and the result was crunchy perfection.

I’m excited to hear what you think about them, so please share! I know they are being added to our regular rotation, especially since we can’t seem to eat or drink enough kale these days (we are adding it by the handful to our morning smoothies- recipes and pictures I promise to share soon).

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Citrusy Kale and Black Bean Tostada
adapted minimally from Not Without Salt

Tostada
4 flour tortillas
2 teaspoons olive oil

Brush 4 tortillas with olive oil, sprinkle with salt then bake at 400 degrees for 5 minutes or until completely crisp. Be careful not to burn!

Kale Marinade
¼ cup fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground cumin
4 cups kale, thick ribs removed and roughly chopped

Mix ingredients in a large bowl, toss to coat. Let sit for 30 minutes.

Black Beans
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves
1 shallot, finely chopped
pinch of salt
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained (I know…I didn’t have any in my freezer and I really wanted to make this dish! The can ones here work just fine, no need for the slow cooked ones unless you already have some made.)

In a small sauce pan saute garlic and shallots in olive oil over medium heat until just fragrant. Add beans and simmer about 5-7 minutes, until soft and warmed through.

Assemble
1 avocado, roughly cut
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

Place baked tortilla on a plate, top with warm beans, marinated kale, chunks of avocado and crumbled feta cheese.

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I posted this recipe years ago, back when I was doing my weekly menus with recipes all in one post. And, coincidentally, the first recipe was also posted during this time of year. The dish would actually be good in any season- a particularly yummy way to enjoy summer’s fresh basil and pepper bounty- but the roasting process and the high temperature of the oven seems to make the most sense to me in the winter.

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A friend actually reminded me about this dish (Thank you, Sarah!) claiming that it makes her husband’s night when it appears on their dinner menu. It’s so simple, yet so delicious, I think it might make most people excited to see it on their table.

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The way the goat cheese browns and the edges of the peppers become charred adds to its winter appeal. The olive oil and pesto give the dish some substance, yet it remains light, calling you to eat the whole pan at one sitting. We had them with chicken sausages last week, but I also think they’d be good as a side to a hearty grain like quinoa or with other roasted vegetables as I suggested in the original post. Another idea that just popped into my head is how fabulous they’d taste over orzo pasta as a sort of deconstructed pasta sauce…..mmm!

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I’ve made a few changes to the recipe over the years, realizing it didn’t quite need so much olive oil, but for the most part it’s the same. I hope you enjoy these.

Roasted Peppers with Goat Cheese and Pesto

3 peppers of differing colors
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper
Basil leaves
Pesto
Goat Cheese

Half and seed the red, yellow, and orange bell peppers. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spray roasting pan with olive oil and place peppers in pan, cut side up. Drizzle peppers lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Put a basil leaf, a generous spoonful of pesto, and a chunk of goat cheese in each pepper half. Add the pan to the oven for about 30 minutes- you are looking for the peppers to get crispy brown at the edges. Serve with extra freshly torn basil leaves.

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Eager to incorporate fish into our weekly dinner menu has led me to finding quick, tasty ways to prepare it without leaving our house smelling of a fishy pier.

Simply, this recipe is a keeper. One I’m sure to use monthly as it is easy enough for a week night meal, very tasty and fresh, looks elegant on a table, and provides a healthy dose of omega-3 fats.
Plus, the clean up is minimal since the fish bakes in a sheet of aluminum foil!

Baked Salmon with Lemon Slices

One pound salmon filet, with skin on
1 lemon, sliced very thin
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil

Instructions
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Place salmon filet on a large sheet of aluminum foil. Season the topside only with salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil and place thin slices of lemon on top of filet.

Gather the foil into a loose “pocket” shape being careful not to create a package that is tight. The loose shape will allow steam to form inside the foil, which helps to cook the fish.

Lower the oven temperature to 425 degrees, then place salmon in the oven. Cook for about 10- 12 minutes, depending on the thickness of your filet.

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As you know, I’m always on the hunt for easy and quick recipes for weeknight meals. The recipe has to be really good to land a spot in our rotation since I love trying new dishes. This pasta dish is definitely a staple in my kitchen. What I love about it is its versatility. There are so many options for ingredients in this dish that we always have enough on hand to make a pleasing pasta dinner. It usually goes something like this:

1. Pour a glass of wine- usually red, but sometimes white

2. Prepare the following:

3/4 lb of whatever pasta you have on hand
Some protein- we often use chick peas, white beans, prosciutto, or salami
A large bag or bunch of greens- I wish I could say I get mine from the farmer’s market, but what I typically have is the bag of mixed Southern Greens from Trader Joe’s
A 1/2 cup of cheese- ricotta seems to be the go-to around here since I love having it around to spread on warm toast, but we also use mozzarella quite often
1 lemon
Lots of olive oil
3 or 4 garlic cloves
Salt & ground pepper
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Boil a big pot of salted water. Cook pasta about 12 minutes, or according to package directions. Before draining, reserve about a cup of the hot pasta water to use if your pasta dish is too dry once combined- I ALWAYS forget to do this, even if I remember to set aside the water, but I do think it would be a good addition.

While the pasta is cooking, chop the meat, if using, into small pieces, or rinse and drain your beans. Sauté the meat in a large pot over medium heat with some olive oil until crispy. Add the minced cloves of garlic to the pot and sauté until fragrant (if you are not using meat, add olive oil with your garlic). Next, add your mix of greens, sautéing until wilted. Add more olive oil here if the greens are not covered nicely. If using beans, add them after you have wilted the greens. Squeeze half a lemon on top of the mixture.

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Stir the cooked pasta, and pasta water, if you remember, into the greens mixture. Toss with cheese and perhaps another squeeze of lemon. Salt to taste…Savor.
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Before I jump into new posts with new photos and new recipes for 2012, I thought it’d be fun to look back through my food photos from 2011. I have to admit, I got better and better at shooting my food as the year went on. Perhaps I’m getting better with my camera. Or, maybe I’m more comfortable staging the shot. Or, perhaps the lighting is better in our Seattle home.
I’m not sure what it is exactly, but I do know I still have a lot to learn. I’m inspired every day by photos from other bloggers and I have my goals set high for 2012. I think I’m saying goodbye for good to the weekly menu…it’s way too time consuming and I think the pressure of a daily food post was robbing me of my creativity a bit. So, I plan to devote more time to the recipe development and, especially, more time to quality photos this year. I have big plans for my blog and hope you continue to join me on this fun, creative journey.

My favorite food photos from 2011, with a link to their recipe:

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Winter Farm-Fresh Stir Fry

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Grilled Peanut Butter and Jelly

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Grilled Salmon with Fennel and Lemon

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Ruby Red Grapefruit Sour Cream Pancake

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Blueberry Ginger Mojito

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Blueberry Whole Grain Buttermilk Pancakes

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Grilled Naan Pizza

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Vegetable Ratatouille

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Watermelon and Mint Skewers

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Slow Cooked Pinto Beans

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Roasted Tomato and Black Bean Salad

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Pumpkin Muffins

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Slow Cooked Lentils

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Pea Pesto Pasta

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Blackened Catfish

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I’m thankful

20111122-032212.jpgI’ve been reading lots of wonderfully inspirational Thanksgiving-themed posts on my weekly blog reads and their words, as usual, have inspired me to compose my own message of thanks.

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I’m thankful, that in spite of the ridiculous hours that David is required to work this year, that we are being taught how to appreciate our time…the time we have to ourselves and the time we get to spend with each other.

This weekend was rare in that the 3 of us were at home together. We didn’t do anything spectacular, but what we did was special- to us- because we hung out as a family. We have stopped taking our time together for granted and, believe me, this is a true gift.20111122-034531.jpg

I’m thankful for the family autumn walk we took on Saturday where we had time to simply enjoy the bright bursts of colors and the sunshine among the frosted leaves.20111122-033803.jpg

I’m thankful that I CAN walk. In light of my diagnosis, one never knows if this will be something I can continue to do forever and, geesh, I have no plans to take that lightly. I’m thankful to be able to walk and run and play and I’m thankful that I feel good doing all of those things. A few days ago, I took a solo run in the crisp November air and I felt so connected and so at peace. I NEED running. I NEED movement, and I’m going to fight my hardest to keep it!

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I’m ever so thankful for this little guy in our lives. The one who can be whining one minute and laughing the next out of pure, blissful joy. I’m thankful for his tender heart and his inquisitive mind and the way he loves his friends. I’m thankful for how much he loves to touch, to see, and to learn.
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I’m thankful for the family and friends who will be surrounding our table on Thanksgiving and for all of our dear family and friends that the miles separate us from. Psst…our house loves visitors!

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I’m thankful to all of you who read this little piece of my world and for allowing me to share and, to be perfectly honest, self-promote.

And, I’m so, so thankful for good food. On fall nights when we want something warm, but don’t have a lot of prep time, I often turn to this sandwich which I have dubbed our “Fall Sandwich”. It’s super easy to make and creates that perfect bite of warm autumn flavored in your mouth. I hope you can enjoy it too…it seems to be an ideal choice for those turkey leftovers…
Happy Thanksgiving!

Fall Sandwich:
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Spread pumpkin butter or apple butter or sweet potato butter or cranberry spread onto large pieces of good bread. Top with roasted turkey and a slice of Gouda cheese and toast or place under the broiler until bubbly and lightly browned. Serve with a big slather of spicy brown mustard on the side. I also like mine with a side of arugala, but leaving this out won’t be a deal breaker.

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When the lovely editor of The Runcible Spoon asked me to contribute to their holiday issue I was so stoked! The Runcible Spoon is a fab-o, super hip food zine based in Washington, D.C. The goal of the zine’s founders “is to capture the pleasure of eating food and present it to you in a half-collage, half-illustrated, half-magic little magazine.” For each issue (there have now been 6), a community of offbeat writers and bloggers contributes stories, restaurant reviews, and recipes “with the hope of one thing: to get you daydreaming about food, glorious food — and cooking, of course!”

When I was approached about contributing to the fall issue, I pitched the idea of a slow cooked meat recipe which sort of signifies cold autumn football Saturdays for me. I love the idea of a slowly simmering, rich, meaty meal on the stove while cozying up on the couch to cheer for our favorite teams. Thankfully, the editor liked my idea and allowed me to contribute my original recipe featuring homemade pork meatballs made with red wine and apple cider. When I saw the finished product last week, I was so excited! The illustrations and fun collage on my page are adorable! I love the small touch of red yarn under my name, introductory paragraph, and recipe title that resembles the stitching on a football! And, I love the sweet picture of the boy and girl looking dreamily at each other coming out of the Le Creuset roasting pan.
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Check out the whole zine here…it’s worth the read!

Would love to know what you think. And, if you make the meatballs…how’d you like them?

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So, this is not exactly pizza. It’s more like a calzone, really, but I’m calling it rustic pizza because that’s what seems to suit it best. You can create your own twist on this recipe by throwing in whatever you have in your refrigerator- roasted vegetables (this would be a great place to tuck in some vegetable ratatouille), leftover meats, or greens. The only requirements, per se, are some sort of cheese and a yummy red sauce. Any pizza dough works for this, I adore the store bought from Trader Joes, but if you’re a homemade dough person, by all means…

Here is the recipe for our version of rustic pizzas. I hope you enjoy them as much as we did!

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Divide your dough into three or four portions (size depends on the person you are making it for; for us, we had a baby bear, mama bear, and papa bear size). Flatten out each piece of dough to about ¼ – ½ inch thick using your hands or a rolling pin and shape into a rough circle. In the center of each dough round add a couple of spoonfuls of sauce ( we used Trader Joe’s tomato basil marinara sauce), a few freshly cut rounds of mozzarella cheese, a few pieces of cooked sausage (spicy chicken sausage went into ours), and a couple of torn up pieces of basil.

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Brush a little bit of olive oil along the edge of the dough circle. Pull one side of the dough over the filling to reach the other side. Push to seal the edges and brush the top of each pizza with olive oil. Place on a parchment lined sheet tray or directly onto a pre-heated pizza stone.
Bake at 450 degrees until golden, about 15-20 minutes.

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Let cool slightly as the inside will remain very hot for quite awhile. We actually cut Jack’s way before meal time so it would be cool enough…he did not appreciate the wait! Serve with a handful of arugula and some warmed marinara sauce for dipping.

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So, this is a meal that beckons and then receives a much appreciated thank you from it’s eaters to the cook. My family of three gobbled this soup up and very happily ate it for lunch the next day! It’s a keeper…and I’ve been searching for soup go-tos for years!

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My only issue with this soup is the prep labor and time…I spent over 30 minutes peeling, chopping, and cutting before a single ingredient touched the heat. But, if you have the time, it’s SO worth it. I will be making it again (and again) this winter and am excited to see how different sausage flavors enhance the overall soup flavor.

Potato and Sausage Soup
Adapted from Bon Appetit, October 2007

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add 9 ounces of fully cooked sausage (I used a spicy Italian chicken sausage and loved how the bits of fennel seed fell out of the sausage enhancing the soup’s texture and flavor) and cook until brown, about 8 minutes. Transfer sausage to paper towels to drain. Add 2 diced medium onions and 2 cloves of minced garlic to the pot and cook until translucent, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Add 2 medium potatoes, cut into skinny half moons, and 4 smallish sweet potatoes, cut into a large dice, and cook until beginning to soften, stirring often, about 12 minutes. Add 4 cups of chicken broth and 2 cups of vegetable broth and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until potatoes are soft, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Use your ladle to roughly mash some of the potatoes. Add browned sausage back to soup. Stir in 1 bag of 6-ounces of fresh spinach leaves and simmer just until wilted, about 3-4 minutes. Stir in 1 tablespoon oil. Season with salt and pepper. Divide among bowls and serve.

Tell me what you think…and, if you have soup recipes you want to share, please respond in the comments and let me know!

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Pumpkin Muffins

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What better way to welcome fall than with the taste of pumpkin? These pumpkin muffins are the next sure addition to my muffin making/baking line-up. They make for a scrumptious early morning breakfast and are super easy to make…both good things. And, the crunchy top created from the cinnamon and sugar topping…oh. my. Spread a little mascarpone cheese on for good measure, or not, either way you will have an autumn-flavored breakfast delight awaiting you!

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I expect muffin making to dirty a max of two bowls, to be hand mixed, and to be completed in less than 8 steps. This recipe met all of that. For me, making muffins is a way to have a little homemade added to our every day, not so I can master the art of complicated baking. I’ll save that for birthday cakes…

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Pumpkin Muffins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil a 12-cup muffin tin (I don’t believe in using paper muffin/cupcake liners because of the waste and the way it slows down the muffin/cupcake eating! Just be sure to oil well.).

Using a wire whisk, whisk together 1 cup of canned pumpkin (the unsweetened one, not the pie filling), 1/3 cup vegetable oil, 2 large eggs, 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, 1 1/4 cups sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt in a large bowl until smooth. In a separate bowl, mix 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour with 1 teaspoon baking powder. The, whisk flour mixture into wet ingredients until just combined.

Stir together 1 teaspoon of cinnamon and 1 tablespoon of sugar in another bowl.

Divide batter among muffin cups, then sprinkle tops with the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Bake until puffed and golden brown and wooden pick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes.

Cool in the muffin tin on a wire rack for five minutes, then transfer muffins from tin to rack and cool to warm or room temperature.

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