Beautiful, Chunky Roasted Veggies

I love roasted vegetables, but sometimes forget how much veggies shrink while cooking. By cutting the chunks larger, and spreading them out, you can get wonderful flavor without overcooking them. Plus all of these truly beautiful vegetables are hardy, so you can prep this early and roast them later.

Ingredients

1 large red onion, halved and cut into eighths
1 medium yellow onion, halved and cut into quarters
2 small zucchini, cut lengthwise and into 2″ pieces
2 small summer squash, cut lengthwise and into 2″ pieces
2 green bell peppers, cut into 2″ pieces
2 red bell peppers, cut into 2″ pieces
1 carton baby Portabella mushrooms, sliced thickly
1/2 head of cauliflower, cut into florets
2 blue potatoes, halved and cut into 3/4″ slices

3 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
good-sized pinch each of Oregano, Basil, Red Pepper Flakes & Parsley
smaller pinch each of Rosemary and Thyme

Mix oil and spices in a small bowl. Pour a little extra olive oil on two baking sheets and sprinkle a little more garlic powder, salt and black pepper on them. Spread around with your hand, and then dump the vegetables on one pan. Pour the olive oil mixture over and toss gently until all of the veggies are coated. Spread the veggies evenly on the two trays and bake at 425 for 25-30 minutes. Give them a bit of a stir half way through. The veggies should still have all their beautiful colors, but still be nicely cooked.

These vegetables are so beautiful:

Easiest Vinaigrette

I made this dressing yesterday for Christmas lunch and realized that I had to really hunt for it. So I decided to make it a bit easier to find. If you don’t have fish sauce, you can definitely make it without.  But if you get a chance – definitely try it – the flavor it adds to dishes is amazing.

1 tsp crushed garlic or 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
3 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1-2 tsp Fish Sauce
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

To make vinaigrette, add all ingredients to a mason jar, starting with 1 tsp of the fish sauce. Close with lid and shake like crazy until well blended. Taste and add salt, pepper or fish sauce as needed.

Mango Trifle

Inspired by the Great British Bake Off to try some new flavors – I made Mango Trifle for Samir’s birthday dinner last night. The recipe is very easy and so delicious.

Ingredients

2-3 cups of cake (angel food or yellow cake, unfrosted) cut into 2″chunks
14 oz (or more) frozen mango pulp
2 Tbsp rum
Rich Vanilla Cardamom Custard
whipped cream
fresh mango chunks

Place cake in the bottom of a large bowl or clear trifle dish. (Be a bit neater if using a clear trifle dish.) Cut frozen mango into 1/2″ chunks and lightly toss with rum. Place on top of cake. Pour cooled Rich Custard over fruit and cake and refrigerate at least a couple of hours until lightly set. Top with whipped cream and fresh mango chunks just before serving.

Palak Paneer

Beautiful Baby Spinach from Pille-Riin-Priske on Unsplash.com

I’ve always loved Palak Paneer, but had never tried to make it. We had Samir’s birthday supper last night and I made it, along with Biryani and a really delicious Mango Trifle, which I’ll add soon. Kumy made his amazing Potatoes, too.

I used a modified version of Swasthi’s recipe from IndianHealthyRecipes.com, which was excellent, if a bit confusing. Basically, you cook the spinach mixture first, and then the spice, onion tomato mixture. You add the spinach back in near the end, and Paneer goes in last, just before serving. It’s actually fairly easy.

It looks like a million ingredients, but they all go together beautifully.

Part 1:

2 Tbsp oil
4 green chilies (Long, skinny ones, seeded) or 2 small/medium Jalapenos, seeded
1 lb. organic baby spinach, washed and well-drained
20 cashews (unsalted or salted is fine)

Part 2:

2 Tbsp butter
1/2 tsp cumin seeds, whole
2 green cardamoms, whole
1″ cinnamon stick, whole
4 cloves, whole

1.5 cups onions, finely chopped
2 tsp fresh grated ginger
2 tsp crushed garlic

1 14 oz. can crushed or petite-diced tomatoes with juices in can. (Can carefully buzz with an immersion blender in the can if you want a smoother curry.)
1.5 tsp salt

1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp dried fenugreek leaves
12 oz. Paneer, cut into 1/2″ cubes

In a dutch oven, heat oil. Saute chillies, cashews and spinach until spinach is completely wilted, but still bright green. Remove from heat, transfer into a bowl and let cool. Use an immersion blender or food processor to buzz the spinach into a smooth mixture.

Melt butter in the dutch oven and add the whole spices. Let cook until the spices are starting to sizzle a bit – maybe a minute or two. Add the onions and cook until golden – about 8-10 minutes. Add the ginger and garlic and cook, stirring constantly for 1-2 minutes.

Add tomatoes with juice and salt. (If you used salted cashews, go easy on the salt.) Cook for several minutes until the tomatoes start to break down. If you buzzed the tomatoes, you’ll have a smoother curry. If you left the tomatoes in chunks, you’ll have a chunkier curry. Both are fine.

Add the garam masala and about 1 cup of water to the pan, and cook down until you have a nice, fairly thick gravy consistency. When in doubt – let it get a little drier. You can always add a bit of water at the end to loosen it up if you need to.

Add the spinach mixture and the dried Fenugreek leaves. Cook another 2-3 minutes to bring it back to the simmer. Taste and add a bit of salt if needed, and if it’s very thick, add a couple of spoons of water.

Add the paneer and mix gently to coat with curry.

Serve with Naan, or roti.

Red Cabbage & Sausage

Maya bought a gorgeous red cabbage when she was last home and I had a half package of turkey sausage I wanted to use use up. Cooked cabbage and sausage sounds like a nice German style dish, I thought. I love sauteed cabbage, so I improvised and came up with what ended up being a really tasty dinner. Leave out the sausage and you’ve got a lovely, colorful side dish.

1 Tbsp butter
1/2 yellow onion, rough chopped
1 1/2 cups red cabbage, chopped
2 tsp garlic puree
1/2 tsp Kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
good pinch of caraway seed
8 oz turkey sausage, cut 1/2″ thick

Heat butter in a medium frying pan. Add onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic puree and cook another minute, stirring. Add salt, pepper and caraway seed and give a stir. Add cabbage and toss to combine.

Cook on low heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add sausage pieces, stir to combine, cover and cook another 1o minutes, until sausage is warmed through.

Check seasonings and serve.

Delish!!

The best Chicken and Gnocchi Soup

Kumy’s Mom loves soup, so I was anxious to try this hearty, creamy soup that came from the New York Times, and I must say it did not disappoint!

It was rich, delicious and so satisfying – one worth repeating. I did add a bit more Sage, since I have recently fallen in love with Sage.

It comes together very quickly, so it’s perfect for a weeknight supper. Leave out the chicken and use veggie stock for a delicious vegetarian version.

INGREDIENTS

3 Tbsp butter
1 cup each carrots, leeks and celery, chopped into bite-sized pieces
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped or 1 heaping tsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1 tsp poultry seasoning
1/4 tsp rubbed Sage
1 tsp Kosher salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
5 cups chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream
1 (16-ounce) package fresh or shelf-stable store-bought gnocchi
½ small rotisserie chicken, skin and bones discarded, meat torn into bite-size pieces (about 2 cups shredded meat)
Fresh parsley, for garnish (optional)

In a large pot, melt butter over medium. Add carrots, leek, celery, garlic, and spices. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are slightly softened, about 10 minutes.

Sprinkle with the flour, then cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Gradually stir in the stock and cream, and bring to a boil over high heat.

Once the mixture boils, stir in the gnocchi, reduce heat to medium and cook until gnocchi and vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes.

Stir in the chicken in the last couple of minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Ladle into serving bowls and top with fresh parsley if desired.

Smoky BBQ Beans (Vegan)

This is another side that I made for our Smashburger dinner the other night. It’s a Jamie Oliver recipe, and somewhat simplified but we loved its smokier, tangier flavor.

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion rough chopped,
2 cloves of garlic, crushed or 2 heaping tsp garlic puree
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 heaping tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 cup pureed tomatoes
2 small cans vegetarian baked beans
1/3 cup BBQ sauce (I used Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce, which is vegan)
1/2 tsp kosher salt – or to taste

Heat olive oil in a large frying pan. Add onions and garlic and sautee several minutes until softened and just starting to turn golden.

Add spices and cook a little longer. Add tomato puree, beans and BBQ sauce. Stir wlel, heating through and put in a baking dish. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for at least 30 minutes.

Crispy Smashed Potatoes

We griddled out last night and the boys made amazing Smashburgers. So good – we’re definitely hoping for an encore! I started potatoes boiling for potato salad as a side. But I don’t really like potato salad all that much and neither does anyone else.

So what do you really want with burgers? Fries, of course! And what goes better with a Smashburger than Smashed Potatoes? I found an amazingly good recipe from melskitchencafe.com. It’s easy, delicious and everyone loved it!

Ingredients:

2 lbs. baby red or yellow potatoes
1 Tbsp plus ¼ tsp kosher salt, divided
4 Tbsp olive oil, divided
¼ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp onion powder
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley, chives and/or green onion (optional)

Add 1 Tbsp salt to a pot of boiling water and add potatoes. Cook until quite soft, but not totally mushy. Let cool.

Drizzle and smear a little of the olive oil on a baking sheet and place potatoes on the sheet. Using a potato masher, or the bottom of a water glass, press down on the potatoes until they’re smashed about 1/2″ thick. Don’t crowd them.

Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with garlic powder, onion powder and a little kosher salt. Grind fresh pepper over.

Bake in a 425 oven for 25-30 minutes or until slightly golden on the top and nicely browned on the bottom.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream, or ketchup. Delish!

Easy Cheesy Toast

The weather is suddenly feeling cooler here and I was hungry for something warm and cheesy. My brother Tom and I used to make cheese toast when we were kids and I always loved it. Since I’d just baked a fresh loaf of bread, I thought Cheese Toast would be fun and fast. I used The Pioneer Woman’s Recipe, with slight variations. Either way – it’s warm, cheesy, crunchy and delicious and when Ali stopped by, he loved it, too!

Ingredients

2 cups grated Sharp Cheddar
2 cups grated Monterey Jack (or quesadilla cheese)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp seasoned salt (Lawry’s)

Slices of a hearty loaf (I used my easy French Bread.) Cut the slices in half if they are large.

Directions

In a medium bowl, combine the Cheddar, Monterey Jack, mayonnaise, Parmesan, pepper and seasoned salt.

Mound the cheese mixture on the slices of bread. Place on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Switch to the broiler and broil for another few minutes, until the cheese is utterly bubbly and starting to get brown in places.

These cheese toasts freeze well. To reheat, just bake them for 5 minutes, then broil another minute of so.

Note: Ree adds 1 tsp of salt and 4 Tbsp of melted butter, but honestly I don’t think you need either. I might also try adding a few drops of hot sauce or Worcestershire Sauce.

This would also be a humdinger served with Tomato Soup!

Simple Canning – Jam or Jelly

I love home made jams and jellies, but the process can look pretty daunting. I’ve simplified it so you don’t have 10 pots going at the same time. You do need to be careful though, because if your jam isn’t cooked right or properly sealed, it can spoil and be unsafe to eat.

Fortunately, it’s not rocket science. At least, it’s not quite rocket science. Okay, in my kitchen it’s not even in the same neighborhood as rocket science. Still, it’s worth being careful…

Here’s what you’ll need:

a big pot for the jam or jelly
a big pot for a water bath
a small pan for lids
jars, lids and rims
Tongs for lifting the jars in and out of the water (Optional but they make for fewer burned fingers)
a wide mouth funnel for filling jars
baking pan

Method:

1. Fill a big pot 2/3 full of water, and set it on to boil to use as a “water bath.” Start a teakettle at the same time so you can add water as needed.

2. Preheat oven to 225 degrees. Wash jars in hot soapy water and rinse, but do not dry. Place them upside down in a baking pan and place in the oven. Bake 20 minutes. Turn oven off and remove only when you’re ready to fill them. Be careful – they will be pretty hot.

3. Bring water to boil in the little sauce pan. Once boiling, add the lids. Remove from heat and keep there until you need them. Some people use a magnetic thingy, which I may invest in. For now, I just dump out the water when I’m ready to use them.

4. Make the jam or jelly according to the recipe.

5. Position funnel over empty jar and fill, stopping 1/2″ from the top. Carefully wipe the glass tops of the jars with a damp towel and put the lids on. Put the bands on, but don’t completely tighten.

6. Place the jars in the water bath and top up with boiling water until they’re completely covered. Bring the water back to a boil, then turn down and let them cook for at least 10 minutes. (This is call processing.)

7. Remove from the water bath onto a clean dish towel, and let cool for several hours or overnight.

8. Check the lids after the jam has cooled to be sure the centers are firmly down. Tighten the bands and label the jams.

If the lids are loose or they bobble up and down, they aren’t sealed. Just remove the lids, wipe down the glass again, wash the lids and replace them and the loosely tightened rims. Process them for another 10 minutes, or just keep those jars in the refrigerator.

That’s it. It’s actually pretty easy!