Tomato Jam Magic

I’m not sure what else to call this recipe, other than “Tomato Jam Magic”.  I know you’re going to read through the ingredients and think, “What?!?!  Lime juice and cloves?  No way that goes together…”  Trust me on this one.  This jam is a warm, amazing, flavor explosion that’ll shake up your grilled cheese sandwich, be THE gourmet dip at your next dinner party, or be the new pizza red sauce ALL your neighbors will beg you for again and again.

All you have to do is throw everything in your pot and let it simmer–Who knew gourmet would be so easy to make?!

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Let it simmer and cook down until most of the liquid is cooked off and your spoon runs through the jam and it stays separated.

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This will last in your fridge for a while, or you can can it following the traditional canning method and share as Christmas gifts.

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Here’s the grilled cheese {just throw some fresh basil and mozzarella on your bread with that jammy goodness}:

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I made cornmeal hush puppies and use the tomato jam as a dip…Some Sort of Carb + Dip is seriously the best dinner on the planet.

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TOMATO JAM MAGIC

  • Servings: makes 1 pint
  • Difficulty: easy
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Adapted from The Joy of Cooking’s Tomato Jam

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pound tomatoes, cored and finely diced
  • 1/2 yellow onion, finely diced
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 limes, zested and juiced
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme

DIRECTIONS

  1. Combine all ingredients in a large pot.  Bring to a boil over high heat then reduce heat to low.
  2. Let the jam simmer for 30-45 minutes, taking care to stir very frequently.  The liquid will evaporate while simmering, and the jam will reduce  to a sticky, globby jam.  You’ll know it’s done when it’s glossy, not runny/watery, and when you run your spoon across the bottom of the pot, the jam will separate and won’t come back together.  Be sure to stir more frequently toward the end, as it’ll get stickier and more likely to burn.

*You can spoon into a pint jar to keep in your fridge for up to 4 months, or can according to traditional canning methods to preserve longer.

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HODGSON MILL'S HUSH PUPPIES

  • Servings: makes 15-20 hush puppies
  • Difficulty: easy
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I used the hush puppies recipe directly from the Hodgson Mill Brand Cornmeal, with the only change being adding 1 cup fresh corn kernels. 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/4 cups yellow cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk

DIRECTIONS

  1. Fill a large stockpot with 3-4 inches oil and preheat to 375F.
  2. Combine dry ingredients in a medium size mixing bowl.  Blend well.  Add onions, corn, egg, water, and buttermilk in another mixing bowl.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir just until moistened.  Let dough sit for 5 minutes before using.
  3. Drop by rounded teaspoons (I use a #40 cookie scoop, which is about 3 teaspoons, so a bit larger) into the hot oil and fry until dark golden brown, turning frequently (approximately 2 minutes for 1 teaspoons scoop, 3-4 minutes for the #40 scoop).  Let drain on a cooling rack.  Serve warm with Tomato Jam Magic.

 

 

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Match Made in Heaven

I don’t know how your summer has been going, but our thermometer has barely dipped below 95F for two months straight.  When it’s so hot, you just don’t get very hungry for dinner.  We’ve been eating lots of smoothies, cucumbers + dip, bananas + nutella, or just nutella.  And running isn’t nearly as fun.  I can tell you there’s a huge difference between running in 100F and 90F.  I discovered yesterday 90F + a breeze is very comfortable running weather.

But when you get a new cookbook, the oven goes on.  And this meal is WORTH it.  This is summer on a plate–a beautiful, soft and fluffy Corn Pudding Soufflé topped with a sweet and flavorful stone fruit salsa.  And for good measure I threw some Citrus Cherry Irish Soda Bread on the side.  I kept waiting for a bite to be not as good as the first, but this meal will take you for an amazing ride on the SummerFlavorTrain.

Soda bread is pretty cool–it’s leavened with baking soda and buttermilk instead of yeast, so it’s like a big biscuit.  And we all know how much I love biscuits.  Just throw in some orange and grapefruit zest and dried cherries, and your biscuit is magically transformed into a citrus loaf from heaven.

citrus cherry irish bread 1 citrus cherry irish bread 2

I hope you have a Farmers Market or fruit stand nearby–fresh corn, nectarines, and plums deserve to be in the summer sun as long as possible before ending up on your dinner plate!  Adding stone fruit to the salsa base makes it sweet and spicy.  You will have leftover salsa great for chip-dipping!

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I know this looks  like a normal pan of cornbread, but you will be surprised at how light and fluffy this soufflé is!

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This sweet, fresh summer corn pudding soufflé paired with the sweet, spicy stone fruit salsa is a match made in heaven!


CORN PUDDING SOUFFLÉ

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: medium-ish
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Adapted from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups fresh corn
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 red onion, finely diced
  • 3 tablespoons masa
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 eggs, separated

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 375F.  Butter a 6-cup soufflé dish.  [I didn’t have a dish that size, and was nervous the soufflé would overflow in the oven, so I filled 2 small ramekins as well.  If you use a smaller dish, just watch them during the cook time!]
  2. Puree 1 1/2 cups of the corn with half and half, then pour through a fine sieve, pressing the liquid through with a rubber spatula into a bowl.  Set the bowl aside.
  3. Heat a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat, add the butter, red onion, salt and pepper to taste, and cook until the onion is translucent.  Stir in the flour, then whisk in the corn-milk and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, for about 5 minutes, until the mixture is slightly thickened.
  4. Remove the mixture from the heat, and stir in the remaining corn, feta cheese, 1/2 salt and pepper to taste.  Warm the yolks with 1/2 cup of the mixture, then add the yolk mixture to the rest of the corn milk mixture, stirring until smooth.  The mixture will be thick, just make sure you make it as smooth as possible.
  5. Beat the egg whites until they hold firm peaks, then gently fold them into the corn milk egg yolk mixture.  Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish and set in a large roasting pan with boiling water that comes halfway up the side of the baking dish.  Bake until a golden puffy soufflé crown rises over the top of the baking dish, about an hour [watch bake time in smaller baking dishes, check every 20 minutes until the soufflé is set and no longer wet-looking in the middle.]

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STONE FRUIT SALSA

  • Servings: males about 6 cups
  • Difficulty: easy
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INGREDIENTS

  • 2 nectarines, diced
  • 2 plums, diced
  • 4 small tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, finely diced
  • 1 jalapeño, seeds and ribs removed, finely diced
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

  1. Add all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and stir well.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Let sit and allow flavors to combine.
  2. Serve as a topping with the Corn Pudding Soufflé, and later with chips!

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CITRUS CHERRY IRISH SODA BREAD

  • Servings: 1 loaf
  • Difficulty: easy
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INGREDIENTS

  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2-1 3/4 cups buttermilk
  • zest from 1 large grapefruit and 1 large orange

DIRECTIONS

  1. Position rack in the center of the oven and heat to 450F.  If you are using a baking stone to bake the bread, place it in the oven to heat up.
  2. Sift all the dry ingredients and the zest into a large mixing bowl.  Make a well in the center and pour in 1 1/2 cups of the buttermilk.  Stir with one hand to incorporate the buttermilk.  If necessary, add more buttermilk 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough just barely comes together {Think biscuits–be very gentle and soft, not a lot of kneading, and it’ll stay moist and fluffy and not overworked}.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and pat into a round about 6-7 inches in diameter and 1 1/2-2 inches high in the center.  Invert the rounds the floured side is on top and transfer to the baking sheet or stone, covered with a sheet of parchment paper.
  4. With a thin, sharp knife, score an “x” on the dough about 1/4 inch deep, and extend from one side to the other.  Bake on the baking sheet for 15 minutes.  Lower the oven temperature to 400F and bake until the bread is browned and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom, another 20-30 minutes.  Cool to room temperature on a rack before slicing and serving.

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Crostini Trio

I’ve always loved sandwiches–one of my favorite memories is going to visit my Grandparents and Aunt and cousins for a couple weeks every summer, and the first thing we did after tumbling out of the hot and sticky East Coast summer car was run into my Grandparent’s kitchen and pull out all the sandwich fixings.  Rye and pumpernickel breads, crispy, cool lettuce, lunch meats and cheeses, mustard and mayonnaise.  I’ve always regarded the sandwich as a comfort food and associated it with happy times.

Oh, Sandwich!  Such melodrama!

I decided to make a trio of crostini one Saturday–little pan-fried bread slices topped with three different toppings.  Maybe it was due to my having just run a 12-mile trail run, and my husband cycling 40 miles around a mountain, but this meal was a smashing success!  One crostini {crostino?} topped with a cannellini bean spread with fresh cucumber slices; one topped with creamy guacamole with olive oil tomatoes; one topped with pistachio basil pesto with fried potato rounds.  These toppings are simple enough for a family gathering, or sophisticated enough for a dinner party.

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This was a perfect meal for the two of us {although I admit we ate as much as a dinner party would have}.  We treated the pan-fried breads like tortilla chips and dipped away!  I have to warn you–if you ever come over for chips and dip, or crostini, for that matter–we liberally and unabashedly double dip.

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CANNELLINI BEAN SPREAD WITH CUCUMBER SLICES

  • Servings: makes 1 1/2 cups
  • Difficulty: easy
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INGREDIENTS

  • 1 15oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1/2 cup fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped
  • 3 mini sweet cucumbers, finely sliced
  • 1 baguette, if serving as crostini

DIRECTIONS

  1. Smash the Cannellini beans with a fork or a potato smasher to a rough paste.  Add the lemon zest and juice and parsley, salt and pepper to taste, and a swirl or two of olive oil.  Stir together and serve with breadsticks, crackers, or crostini.
  2. To make crostini, slice a baguette on the bias.  Brush with olive oil and bake in a 400F oven until browned on each side, or pan fry in a skillet with olive oil, turning until each side is golden.

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CREAMY GUACAMOLE WITH OLIVE OIL TOMATOES

  • Servings: makes 1 1/2 cups
  • Difficulty: easy
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INGREDIENTS

  • 1 avocado, peeled and pit removed
  • 1/4 cup red onion, very finely chopped
  • 2 scallions, green ends finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
  • zest and juice of 1 lime
  • 1/2 cup grape tomatoes
  • 1 baguette, if serving as crostini

DIRECTIONS

  1. Smash the avocado with a fork or potato smasher to a rough paste.  Add the red onion through the lime zest and juice and gently stir together.  Add salt and pepper to taste.
  2. For the olive oil tomatoes, slice the grape tomatoes in half or in quarters, if they are larger in size, and place in a small bowl.  Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper, and stir.
  3. To serve with crostini, slice a baguette on the bias.  Brush with olive oil and bake in a 400F oven until browned on each side, or pan fry in a skillet with olive oil, turning until each side is golden.

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PISTACHIO BASIL PESTO WITH FRIED POTATO ROUNDS

  • Servings: makes 1 cup pesto
  • Difficulty: easy
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INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup pistachios
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 2-3 small red, white, or yukon gold potatoes
  • 1 baguette, if serving as crostini

DIRECTIONS

  1. Place all ingredients in a blender, add salt and pepper to taste and start with 3 tablespoons of olive oil.  Pulse the blender until slightly mixed, clean the sides of the blender with a spatula, and blend again, adding more olive oil while blending until the pesto comes together in a smooth consistency.
  2. Slice the potatoes very thinly.  Coat a large skillet with olive oil and heat to medium-high.  Place the potato slices in a single layer in the skillet, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and pan fry until golden on each side.
  3. To serve with crostini, slice the baguette on the bias.  Brush with olive oil and bake in a 400F oven until browned on each side, or pan fry in a skillet with olive oil, turning until each side is golden.

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Tuscan White Bean Soup and Whole Wheat Biscuits

On soup night my husband always says he feels like he’s being cheated out of a real dinner.  I don’t know what to tell him; in my book there’s nothing more comforting than a hot bowl of homemade soup with biscuits on the side.  It’s been pretty sunny and warmish in our neck of the woods, but I think we’ll still have a few cooler days around the corner, at least one or two for another good soup night.

tuscan white bean soup ingredients

The secret to a good biscuit is to keep the cold ingredients really cold, bring all the ingredients together as quickly as possible, and gently knead no more than 10-12 times.  That combination will ensure the flakiest, softest biscuit on your side of the Mississippi.

A note on wheat flour.  I purchase whole wheat berries and grind them to make my bread.  I happened to run out of hard white wheat berries (which has a softer wheat flavor, and yields a softer, spongier bread), and only had hard red wheat berries (which has a “harder” wheat flavor, and yields a heavier, denser bread).  I thought I’d try my hand at whole wheat biscuits instead of cutting them with half wheat flour/half all-purpose white flour.  They were true to hard red wheat form, and had a really wheat-y flavor that worked well with the rustic soup.  Feel free to cut half and half for a softer biscuit, if you’d like!

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TUSCAN WHITE BEAN SOUP

  • Servings: 4-6 bowls
  • Difficulty: easy
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Soups aren’t hard to pull together, and are a great busy-night-dinner-fixing.  Soup can be served right away, but if you let it all simmer for at least an hour, you’ll draw out deeper layers of flavor. 

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups mixed chopped carrots, celery, and yellow onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and sliced on the diagonal
  • 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, julienned
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups short pasta
  • 1 can white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups mixed greens
  • salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

  1. Coat the bottom of a large stock pot with olive oil and heat to medium-high.  Add the mixed chopped carrots, celery and yellow onion and salt and pepper to taste, and sauté until the onion is translucent, about 5-7 minutes.  Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant.
  2. Add the diagonally-sliced carrot, sun-dried tomatoes, bay leaves, and vegetable stock and water.  Let come to a boil and add the short pasta.  Let cook for at least 8 minutes, turn the heat down to low and let simmer until the carrots are tender, about 15-20 minutes.
  3. Add more water as needed for the soup-y consistency you want, then add the beans and greens and stir just until the greens are wilted.
  4. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of salt and pepper.

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WHOLE WHEAT BISCUITS

  • Servings: makes 10 biscuits (using a 2 1/2-inch biscuit cutter)
  • Difficulty: easy
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This recipe is from The Complete Guide to Country Cooking.  While the recipe calls for 2 cups all-purpose flour, I used 2 cups whole wheat flour.  Feel free to use half white, half wheat flour.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; cut in shortening until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Stir in buttermilk.  On a floured surface, knead 10-12 times.  Roll to 1/2-inch thickness; cut with a 2 1/2 inch biscuit cutter.  Place on a greased cookie sheet (I use a sheet of parchment paper).  Bake at 450F for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.

 

Giving Thanks Feast

When Americans celebrate the most American Holiday, Thanksgiving, my mind honestly doesn’t rest on turkey or pumpkin pie or pilgrims or Native Americans or large family gatherings with the awkward what-are-you-thankful-for go around the table {What?  It isn’t awkward for your family?…Please tell me the secret}.  I instead go back to my two International Experiences.  I look at these experiences as the two times in my life when I felt supremely grateful for all that was being given me, and the two times in my life that were the most educating, refining, clarifying, and soul-searching-humbling.

First was Italy.  I knew I wasn’t ready for college right out of high school, and long story short, I ended up in Italy.  I nannied for an Italian family; traveled; taught English; learned Italian.  I turned 18 while I was in Italy, and acutely felt all those growing pains that accompany coming of age.  It was an odd sort of existence because I felt so isolated and alone but at the same time had a tight group of American, Canadian, and Italian families that reached out to this lost girl who was trying to find herself.  I cannot express how deeply indebted I feel to the families that housed me, fed me, gave me their children to tend, their houses to sit, used their time, energy, and fuel to pick me up from a remote area where I was nannying to bring me to church and spend the rest of Sunday with their families.  I was there for only six or seven months, but how deeply those months shaped me.

Second was Brazil.  A few years later when I turned in my papers to serve a mission for the LDS Church, I was convinced I would be returning to Italy.  They ask if you speak any other languages, and places you’ve lived.  I very excitedly filled in those blanks: “I lived in Italy; I speak Italian; I teach Italian at a Community College.”  Imagine my surprise when I got my papers back, being called to serve in São Paulo, Brazil.  And so I spent 18 months speaking, living, breathing, loving Brazil.  Brazilians are so inherently and deeply loving.  Brazil, and the people of Brazil, swept me up in their arms and taught me how to love, and with that love I was finally equipped to start my journey of healing my broken parts.  I will always be thankful.

And, ironically, I was more culinarily influenced in Brazil than Italy.  Missionaries live on a strict monthly budget, and to help compensate, members of the congregation of the area volunteer to feed the missionaries.  I was so touched, moved, and humbled each lunchtime spent with these families.  There were a number of families that signed up to feed the missionaries on a weekly basis, despite the burden that placed on their budgets or food stores.  I’m sure they rationed their rice and beans all week so they could make extra portions for four or more guests {mostly tall, hungry American young men who ate way more than a Brazilian}.

Rice and beans are the staple.  Food is regional, so where I was, onions and garlic were used to flavor the rice and beans.  Every house used the same ingredients, but every bowl of rice and beans we sat down to tasted different!  I asked every mom of the house their recipe, and they all–every single time–threw back their heads and laughed at this silly blond American, “Recipe?!”

One mom made us a delicious “Tomate com quiabo e frango” {Tomato with okra and chicken}, and when I asked her for the recipe, she laughed and looked at me like I’d just asked her to lick my foot.  “There is no recipe!”  She said.  “Well, how about the ingredients?”  She shrugged, slightly bewildered by my request.  What she finally wrote for me consisted of one line: “Tomato.  Okra.  Onion.  Garlic.  Chicken.”  I have tried a number of times in the almost 14 years since being home, but I have not been able to replicate that delicious dish.  Despite having the recipe.

So.  After my very roundabout introduction to this Giving Thanks Feast, if it were up to me, every fourth Thursday of November, I would make a feast using Brazilian-inspired ingredients.  This feast represents abundance, love, richness of life, simplicity, humility–everything a Giving Thanks Feast should represent.  I ❤ this feast.

brazilian feast ingredients

A few hours later…

brazilian feast 2

brazilian feast 1

There are a lot of things going on here, so we’re going to take a few recipes at a time.  The feast consists of: Rice and Beans, Fried Mandioca, Collards, Pão de Queijo, Mandioca Stew, Simple Salad.  We’ll start with the Rice and Beans and the Pão de Queijo.

For the Rice and Beans, I am a bit old-fashioned and soak the beans for 24 hours, and use 8-10 hours to cook the beans in a Big Pot.  If you use dry beans, soaking for at least 8 hours is recommended, but I prefer a full 24 hours; I think it makes the beans have a creamier texture.  Ok, the truth:  I am mostly a ninny when it comes to trying new things, and a pressure cooker quite frankly scares me.  A pressure cooker would obviously cut down on your cook time, but I’ve never tried one, so I can’t even begin to advise your pressure cooker bean cookery.  So the recipe reflects the time and effort into cooking beans the old-fashioned way.  Let me know if your pressure cooker speaks to you, and what it says on my behalf.

brazilian rice and beans 1brazilian rice and beans 2brazilian rice and beans 3And the Pão de Queijo {AKA:  light and fluffy bits of airiness that fell from the heavens} is so simple to pull together with this recipe.  You just blend everything together in the blender, bake, and eat straight from the oven.  A family in the first city I served in whipped these up for us every time we visited them.  The mom did not give me an odd look when I asked for the recipe, but said, “Look, Sister, it’s so easy!  Just this and that, see?”  It took a little while for me to get this recipe down with American-ingredient equivalents, but I finally got it as close as possible to how I remember them tasting.  You will love these scrumptiously edible, delectable, addict-able popover-like-roll-breads.

brazilian pao de queijo ingredients

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BRAZILIAN RICE AND BEANS

  • Servings: serves a party (although I have frozen the beans for two different meals, and they defrost really well)
  • Difficulty: difficult-ish, just because of the time required
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INGREDIENTS FOR THE BEANS

  • 2 cups beans, soaked in 8 cups water at least 8 hours, overnight/24 hours preferred (pinto are traditional, but you could also use black beans…but then it would have to turn into a feijoada…)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • Loads of water, at least 15-20 cups

INGREDIENTS FOR THE RICE

  • 1 cup white rice
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, finely minced

DIRECTIONS

  1. Coat a large pot with olive oil and heat over medium to medium-high heat.  Add the onion and garlic and salt and pepper to taste and saute until the onion is translucent.  Drain your soaking beans and add them to the pot to saute for another 5-10 minutes.  Add enough water until the beans are covered by 1-2 inches.  Let come to a boil and lower heat to medium.
  2. Let the beans cook, uncovered, and the liquid reduce until you can see the beans, then add water to cover the beans by 1-2 inches, and continue the process, cooking, reducing, adding water, etc., stirring and talking to your beans lovingly.  This whole process will take a good 8-10 hours.  After about 6-7 hours, you will notice the liquid has magically turned from watery beans into a sort of thick almost-stew-like consistency.  This is when you’ll add your last amount of water, and let it cook down just enough until you have beans and bean “gravy” to serve with your rice.
  3. To prepare the rice, first saute the onions, garlic, and salt and pepper to taste over medium heat until the onion is translucent.  Then add rice and water and cook the rice according to package directions.

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PÃO DE QUEIJO DE LIQUIDIFICADOR {Pão de Queijo in the Blender}

  • Servings: makes 24 in a mini muffin tin
  • Difficulty: super easy and super addict-able
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INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup half-and-half (makes them fluffier than just milk)
  • 3/4 cup oil (olive, vegetable, canola all work equally well)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups tapioca flour/starch (find down the gluten-free aisle in any grocery store)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup powdered parmesan cheese

DIRECTIONS

  1. Mix all the ingredients in a blender in the order listed.  Blend until fully mixed.  The batter should look like thin pancake batter or crepe batter.
  2. Generously grease mini muffin tins and pour the batter until just to the top of the muffin tins.
  3. Bake at 425 for 15-20 minutes until just golden brown around the edges.  Don’t overtake or they will be crunchy and tough instead of soft.  Best served hot from the oven.

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Fav Pizza Dough Recipe

Homemade pizza dough is a cinch with 6 simple ingredients and an hour of time on your hands.  The secret with any yeast dough is giving your yeast time to bloom, and not adding your salt too quickly.  Sugar lets yeast grow and bloom; salt deactivates the yeast’s chemical reaction.  If you want a fluffy, crispy, crunchy crust {yes, pizza dough can be all three at the same time!}, take your time and give it some love…like any good thing in life.

pizza dough

pizza dough helper


CLASSIC PIZZA DOUGH

  • Servings: makes three 15-inch pizza pies (or lots and lots of little ones)
  • Difficulty: medium, for the time to let rise and bake
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Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Baking Cookbook

INGREDIENTS

  • 5 teaspoons yeast
  • 2 cups very warm water (technically between 105-115 degrees Fahrenheit; too hot will kill the yeast, too cold won’t activate it)
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4-5 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon salt

DIRECTIONS

  1. Put yeast in a large mixing bowl and pour the warm water over top.  Sprinkle the sugar overtop and let it rest and “bloom”, about 5-7 minutes.  The yeast will be fully bloomed when it’s foamy and bubbly.
  2. Add the olive oil.  Add 3 cups of flour, then salt, and stir with a wooden spoon until a thick paste has formed.  Let rest for about 5 minutes, then add flour, half cup at a time, until the dough forms a rough ball.  Dump out on a floured surface, and continue adding flour, a spoonful at a time, while kneading, until a smooth, soft dough forms.  There is no exact measurement of flour to add; too much and your dough will be dry and non-pliable, too little and it’ll be too sticky.  Add just enough so the dough is soft and smooth, and slightly moist to the touch without sticking to and coming off on your fingers.  Knead the dough for about 7-10 minutes, and form into a ball.
  3. Coat your large mixing bowl with olive oil, gently place the dough ball in the bowl, and drizzle more olive oil overtop.  Cover with plastic wrap, or the lid to the bowl–just placed lightly on top, not sealed, and let rise in a warm, draft-free spot until doubled, about 45-60 minutes.
  4. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.  If you are using a pizza stone, place it in the oven.  Divide the dough in thirds for large pizzas, or equal-sized smaller balls.  You can use a rolling pin or your hands to spread the pizza dough into a circle shape.  If you are using a pizza stone, prepare your pizza on a floured surface (semolina or all-purpose) you can use to transfer to the hot pizza stone.  Top with desired toppings and bake for 15-20 minutes, until the crust is crispy and brown.

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You Are What You Eat

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{Recipes + Photos featured in LDS Living Sept/Oct 2016 Issue}

Dip anyone?  Two different pumpkin dips + homemade spinach feta bread = a pretty satisfying {vegetarian, not vegan} dinner.  Even the hubby, who normally complains he feels “suckered out of dinner” if I serve soup and biscuits, thought dip and bread was a score.  Now that I know that…

Dips are so easy–just fold together all the ingredients, pour into a baking dish, bake until golden and bubbly, and serve with crackers or toasty bread!  Your kitchen is going to thank you, your dinner table buddies are going to thank you, and you are going to thank you.

The first is a really creamy and briny Pumpkin Artichoke Dip, using a Zucca Rotondo Pumpkin, dicing it up and pan-roasting it for deeper flavor, then mixing it with the cream cheese mixture, marinated artichoke hearts, and sliced green onions.  Top with fresh green parsley, and you’re ready to dig in.

pumpkin artichoke dip ingredients

pumpkin artichoke dip

pumpkin artichoke dip with parsley

The second is a warm and hearty Savory Pumpkin Bake, using regular orange Sweet Pumpkin, pan-roasting it, mashing it, and mixing it with garlic and ginger then topping it with crispy crunchy melty bread crumbs and cheese.

savory pumpkin bake

savory pumpkin bake 2

Two Pumpkin Dips, fresh crusty bread–easiest dinner ever.

pumpkin dips


CREAMY PUMPKIN ARTICHOKE DIP

  • Servings: makes one 9-inch (1-quart) baking dish
  • Difficulty: easy
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Adapted from Betty Crocker’s Christmas Cookbook

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups diced pumpkin
  • 1 8oz package cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons half-and-half
  • 3/4 cup shredded asiago cheese
  • 1 14oz can marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • 4 medium green onions, chopped (about 1/4 cup)
  • fresh parsley, chopped, for garnishing

DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat oven to 350.
  2. Coat a large skillet with olive oil and heat to medium/medium-high. Pan-roast diced pumpkin with salt and pepper to taste until golden brown.  Turn off heat and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the cream cheese, greek yogurt, half-and-half, and salt and pepper to taste.  Beat with a hand mixer until well combined and creamy.
  4. Add the cheese, artichoke hearts, green onions, and pan-roasted pumpkin.  Gently fold together and pour into a greased 9-inch (1-quart) baking dish.
  5. Bake uncovered 10-15 minutes and the top is golden and bubbly.  Sprinkle with parsley.

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SAVORY PUMPKIN BAKE

  • Servings: makes 1 9-inch (1-quart) baking dish
  • Difficulty: easy
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INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups diced pumpkin
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tablespoons melted butter
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/3 cup dry milk powder
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup grated gouda cheese

DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat the oven to 350.
  2. Coat a large skillet with olive oil and heat to medium.  Saute diced pumpkin and onion with salt and pepper to taste until the pumpkin has a little bit of color.  Add 1 cup of water and let the pumpkin cook down until just softened,not mushy.  Put in a large bowl and mash the pumpkin–don’t let it get pureed or completely mashed, you want some texture and lumps to your dip.
  3. To the mashed pumpkin, add the ginger, garlic, melted butter, beaten eggs, and milk powder.  Mix well and pour into a greased 9-inch (1-quart) baking dish.
  4. Mix the breadcrumbs and gouda cheese in a medium bowl, and drizzle 2 tablespoons olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.  Stir until well combined and spoon overtop the pumpkin mixture.
  5. Bake 20-30 minutes, until the topping is golden brown and the cheese is melty.

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SPINACH FETA BREAD

  • Servings: makes 4 1-pound loaves
  • Difficulty: medium to hard, if you're new to bread making
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Adapted from Jeff Hertzberg’s Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day; I am treating this like “normal” bread dough and taking the time to let it rise twice before baking.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons yeast
  • 3 cups lukewarm water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 cup packed cooked spinach, chopped
  • 2/3 cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • 3-5 more cups of all-purpose flour

DIRECTIONS

  1. Spoon the yeast into a very large bowl (I use a 32-cup Tupperware bowl), pour the lukewarm water overtop, and sprinkle the sugar over the yeast/water mixture.  Let is proof for about 5-10 minutes.
  2. Add the flour and salt, and stir into a tick paste.  Add the spinach and feta cheese and stir.  Add at least 2 more cups of flour and turn the dough out on to a floured surface.  Knead for 8-10 minutes, adding up to 2-3 more cups of flour, until you have a soft and elastic dough.  Set back in your large mixing bowl, greased with olive oil, drizzling a bit more olive oil on top, and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
  3. Punch down and divide into four equal balls.  You can free-form bread balls, roll up and fit into a bread pan, or even roll into long french bread-type loaves.  Cover and let rise again, about 1 hour.
  4. Heat oven to 450.  Sprinkle bread with flour and using a serrated knife, make slices across the top of your loaves, if desired.  Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes or until crispy and golden brown and the loaves sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.