Monthly Archives: August 2011

Grilled Peaches

My last first day of classes as an undergrad was yesterday. I’m rather excited for 3 out my 4 classes. I’m taking 2 geology classes (Limnology and Sedimentary Structure) and a class about food systems in history. I also have to take intro to Chemistry for my Geo major… with 30 freshman (shoulda done that sooner). I’m coming to the sad realization that three 5 hour labs and 12 hours of work each week, along with heaps of homework and hockey practice is going to take some serious time management. Good thing I have running and cooking to help me keep my sanity. This recipe is short and simple… which is much needed after all of the higher level thinking I’ve been doing the past few days (making stacked histograms and statistically comparing dimensions of the world’s largest lakes nearly put my over the edge.)

I also need to squeeze this recipe in before peaches are completely out of season…

Grilled Peaches

peach, cut in half, pit removed

cooking spray

drizzle of honey

vanilla ice cream (optional)

Preheat grill to medium heat. Cut peach in half and remove pit, spray lightly with cooking spray. Place cut side down (skin side up) on the grill. Grill 5ish minutes until peach looses its firmness. Remove from grill, place grilled side up, drizzle with honey and if so inclined serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. I opted for no ice cream

 

I know… it’s so simple but delicious and healthy (sans the ice cream) and I got to use my grill!

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Stuffed Peppers

At the Geneva Farmers Market I picked up some strawberry-jalapeño jam, (Mark’s new found favorite jam), some peaches and basket of mixed sweet peppers. Last post I talked about stuffing other veggies aside from squash and I decided I should come up with a recipe for stuffed peppers, since I now have a whole basket full.

Mark told me that it was the best thing I’ve made him since he moved in… in all honesty, that isn’t saying much. We grilled one night, made quesadillas another, and went out to dinner the third, but they were pretty tasty. I sautéed up some ground sausage and added it into Mark’s peppers and cooked ours in two separate pans to prevent sausage juice from leaching into my peppers.

 

Today we went hiking at Letchworth Sate Park and now Mark is cooking dinner, his version of curry. I have no idea what is happening since I’ve been kicked out of the kitchen… but it smells good.

Stuffed Peppers

Serves 2-4

Sweet peppers tops removed and seed scooped out, ours were small so 2 for me and 4 for Mark

1 cup brown rice

1 ½ cups water

½ a medium onion, chopped

¾ cup of black beans

1 cup of corn

3 tablespoons of chive cream cheese

1-2 tablespoons of chipotle pepper sauce or your favorite hot sauce

½-1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper

Salsa (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350. Cook the rice according to package directions… usually 1:1.5 ratio rice to water, and it can cook anywhere from 10 min to ½ an hour, depending on the type. With about 5 mins to go on the rice add in the onion, with 1 min to go add in the beans and corn. Turn off the heat and add in hot sauce, cayenne, and cream cheese. Mix well. This is where I scooped out some rice and added it to some broken up browned sausage for Mark. Fill each pepper with the rice mixture, until just overflowing.

Place in a foil lined pan, keeping veggie and sausage peppers separate. Cook for about 20 min or until the peppers are soft and the rice is browned. Remove from the pan and enjoy with salsa if desired.

There will be extra rice… it goes great in burritos the next day (what I had for lunch today)

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Stuffed Squash

On Mondays, my Mom works at the Branford Community Dining Room, a not-for-profit that provides meals to families in need. The wonderful volunteers at the CDR cook up hot meals to be eaten in the Dining Room or deliver to those unable to make it. (I volunteered at the CDR all through high school and the summers I was home from college).This program relies largely on donations. Someone kindly donated more squash that the CDR needed. Due to the excess, my Mom brought home a massive Pattypan Squash for me to use my last night home until Thanksgiving. These squash, that look like flying saucers, are usually about 2 inches in diameter but this one was a good 6 inches across.

So what did I do with this massive squash? I stuffed it of course… with couscous, veggies, fresh basil and whole wheat breadcrumbs. This recipe is easily varied; you can use peppers, tomatoes, eggplants or other types of squash in place of the pattypan. Generally speaking pattypans do not come this large so you would have to stuff 2-3 per person. You can also stick whatever veggies and whatever grain you’d like inside. For example you can go Mexican by stuffing brown rice, black beans, corn and salsa in bell peppers.

Stuffed Squash

Squash—amount varies on number of people and size of squash (1-3 per person)

1 box of couscous (I used Near East Parmesan) or one cup uncooked couscous

1 ¼ cups water

½ an eggplant, cubed

½ bunch asparagus cut into inch pieces

1 portabella mushroom, diced

1 tomato, diced

5 tablespoons of olive oil

6 leaves of fresh basil, julienned

4 tablespoons Feta

4 tablespoons whole wheat bread crumbs

Black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350. Cut the top off of the squash and scoop out seeds, like you would when carving a jack-o-lantern.

Place squash (in a foil lined pan) in the oven while you prepare the veggies and couscous (but omit this if using peppers or tomatoes). Bring 1 ¼ cup of water and 2 tablespoons (and spice sack if using boxed couscous) to a boil. Once boiling, remove from heat and stir in couscous, cover and let stand 5 mins until water is absorbed. Fluff the couscous with a fork. In the mean time, heat a skillet over medium heat with 3 tablespoon of olive oil and chop the veggies. Add the asparagus, mushroom and eggplant to the pan and sauté for 5 min or until they start to lose their firmness.

Stir the cooked veggies, tomato, feta, black pepper and bread crumbs into the couscous, julienne the basil and sir that in as well.

Remove the squash from the oven, stuff it with as much of the couscous mixture as will fit. Sprinkle a little bit of bread crumbs over the top and place back in the oven for 20-30 min, or until the couscous is brown on top and the squash is soft. Plate and enjoy… I’d recommend using a steak knife to cut it. Meat-heads… you could add in some cooked, crumbled sausage to the couscous mixture before stuffing. Because these are individual servings, you could make some with sausage and some without.

 

On a happy and exiting note to end this post… On Tuesday, Mark finally moved into the apartment! It is so surreal that it was finally (his) move in day; I’ve only been waiting 3 months. Anywho… I’m off to the Geneva Farmers Market!

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Grilled Veggie Pizza

So I just returned to the world of technology after spending 5 days at camp in Maine. Though I love blogging, it was so nice and refreshing to leave my phone and watch at home and unplug myself for a week. Living on “camp time” is great: you eat when you are hungry, go to bed when it’s dark and wake up when it’s light out. You “shower” in the lake with Doctor Bronner’s. And cooking is always an adventure (the grocery store is over an hour away) though I managed to run a pretty gourmet kitchen… tacos with fresh made guac, wild blueberry buckwheat pancakes, penne with veggies and a creamy chipotle sauce… just to name a few. Mark and I did a huge hike up Double Top Mountain in Baxter State Park and kayaked on the lake. And one day I went on a great 4 mile run.

This recipe is one of my favorites and is a regular in the dinner rotation, (and is easily do-able at camp). This healthier version of pizza uses whole wheat dough and is piled high with flavorful veggies and a small amount of cheese… and it’s grilled! When it comes to this recipe my philosophy is the higher you can pile the veggies on, the better. Feel free to use your favorite veggies, this is my favorite combination.

Grilled Veggie Pizza

Serves 2-4 people (depending on pizza size and hunger levels)

 

1 ball of pre-made whole wheat pizza dough

1 squash, cut into ¼” rounds

1 zucchini, cut into ¼” rounds

4-6 cups spinach

1 bunch asparagus, chewy, dry ends trimmed off

1 red pepper cut into ¼” rings or strips

1 Vidalia onion cut into ¼” slices and separated into rings

Black pepper

Dried basil

2 tablespoon olive oil

4 tablespoons of your favorite Italian dressing

½ teaspoon dried basil

Few dashes of dried garlic

½ to 1 cup of your favorite tomato sauce

4-6 oz of feta or fresh grated mozzarella cheese

First preheat your grill to a medium heat. Spray your grill pan with non-stick cooking spray. I like to put mine on a cookie sheet so the spray (and later the marinade) does not get all over the place. Then slice up vegetables. Place the prepared vegetables (minus the spinach) in a gallon size zip top bag. Add the oil, dressing, pepper, bail, and garlic into the bag. Close the top and shake the bag to coat the veggies. Dump the veggies out onto the grill pan and arrange into one layer. Place grill pan on the grill. Grill for about 10 mins, turning the vegetables occasionally. When the veggies start to get brown take them off the grill.

 

While the veggies grill, work the pizza dough until it is about ¼-1/2 inch thick and resembles the shape of a pizza. This is tricky, I like to use my fist pulling the dough gently. I made mine in the shape of a square to fit on the grill. Place the dough on the grill and grill about 2-4 mins, until it has light brown lines on the underside. Flip (I used 2 spatulas), and grill lightly on the underside.

Remove from the heat, spread a thin layer of sauce, leaving a ½ to one inch border around the edge. Arrange the spinach in a thin layer. Pile on the veggies and top with the cheese. Place the whole pizza back on the grill for 2-4 mins to melt the cheese. Take pizza off the heat, slice up, plate and enjoy!

 

 

You can also speed up the same recipe and make individual pizzas by using whole wheat pitas (8 pitas). Follow the same instructions for the veggies but while the veggies grill, lay out each pita and top with a thin layer of sauce. When the veggies are done divide them evenly among the 8 pitas. Top each one with 1 tablespoon of feta or mozzarella. Place the pitas on the grill for 2-3 mins until the bottoms start to brown and the cheese is melted. Take them off the heat, plate and enjoy!

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Spinach Lasagna

So this post is way over due, I made this recipe about 2 weeks ago… but the night I planned to blog about it I got in a car accident. So needless to say, blogging was the last thing on my mind. I’m fine but my car has a 5,500 dollar booboo.  I spent the last week on vacation in Rhode Island with my family (that’s where I was headed when the accident happened).

Any who apologies aside, this post is about a get together that we had with family friends the last time I went home to CT. We shared stories and laughter over spinach lasagna, a salad loaded with veggies and some blueberry, peach cobbler with vanilla ice cream. This spinach lasagna is a secret family recipe but incredibly simple and delicious. I have to give props to my mom, this is her recipe (and its just about the only thing she makes well) but don’t let that turn you away, I can attest… it is very good.

Vacation was much needed after my whole car ordeal… we spent a week at the beach boogie boarding, surfing, kayaking, and biking (oh and of course running). It was so nice to have the salty sea breeze blowing in my hair and sand between my toes. One thing I really miss living in Geneva is not being a 10 minute drive from the ocean anymore… I’m a beach kid at heart.

Spinach Lasagna

Makes 1 full lasagna pan… cut pieces as big or as small as you’d like

6  large  fresh lasagna noodles

6 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese

8 cups of your favorite tomato sauce

2 lbs (32 oz) of ricotta cheese

1 egg

1 box (~10 oz) frozen chopped spinach

2 cans of diced tomatoes

In a bowl mix together sauce and diced tomatoes. Defrost spinach according to package directions (usually involves about 5 min in a microwave). In a large bowl mix together the spinach, ricotta and egg. Spoon thin, even layer of sauce onto the bottom of the lasagna pan… this prevents the lasagna from sticking so make sure you cover the whole bottom. Run two of the fresh noodles under the tap and place them side by side in the bottom of the pan so that they cover it from end to end… they might overlap a little in the middle. Spoon half of the ricotta mixture over the top. Spread it evenly over the noodles. Sprinkle with 2 cups of mozzarella cheese.

Spoon ~3 cups of sauce evenly over the cheese. Run two more noodles under the tap and place in pan (as above). Repeat spreading the remaining ricotta mixture, then 2 cups of mozzarella, and ~3 cups of sauce. Then top with the 2 remaining noodles, run under the tap.

Top with the remaining sauce and mozzarella cheese.

Bake in a 350°F oven for about an hour. Bake for about 50 mins covered in foil then take it off for the last 10 mins to brown the top. Make sure the center is hot after baking, this can be done using an instant read thermometer… it should read at least 145°F. Or if you don’t have a thermometer, stick a clean finger in the center to feel if it is hot. Let it stand for about 15 minutes before slicing into it.

Check out this pic of the full moon from vacation (and a few other vacation pics)

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Peach, Blueberry, and Blackberry Crisp

Exciting news… this weekend Mark and I bought some pepper plants to add to our window garden. Our kitchen window faces south and has a wide sill, so I’m going to attempt to nurture these 2 pepper plants and some basil, parsley and chives. Ok, it might be hardly exciting news… but I’m feeling that a spicy thai soup might come out of these new peppers.

 

Not sure if you noticed but we are right in the middle of peak produce season… everything has been so fresh, delicious and RIPE. Two of my most favorite things, peaches and blueberries, are both in season, so it’s perfect time to make a crisp or cobbler out of these yummy summer fruits. Topped with an oatmeal crumble and some vanilla ice cream, this cobbler is delicious. I made some swap outs to make this treat a little more healthful. I replaced half of the butter with low fat yogurt, used a modest amount of brown sugar because the fruit was so ripe and I changed up all purpose flour for brown rice flour so Mark’s dad could enjoy some (he’s gluten free). We also got a steal on the peaches; we bought a heaping bag of overripe utility peaches for 2 dollars… 2 dollars! I think the overripe ones make the sweetest baked goods, (and as added bonus, you need less sugar). I didn’t exactly measure anything so the amounts are approximate.

 Peach, Blueberry and Blackberry Crisp

Serves 6

6-8 medium size peaches cut into ½ inch cubes, wash and scrub them good to get some of the fuzz off. Peel as much skin as you can off with your fingers, but don’t go crazy, about half of my peach skin remained on.

Fruit

½ pint of blueberries

½ pint of blackberries

¼ cup of brown sugar, loosely packed, more or less to taste

Crisp

1 heaping tablespoon of corn starch

1 cup of oats

¼ cup of brown sugar

1 cup of brown rice flour

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

1/3 cup butter, melted

1/3 cup yogurt (vanilla or plain)

Vanilla Ice Cream

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Chop up the peaches, and add to a large bowl. Add in the blueberries and blackberries, then the ¼ cup of brown sugar and corn starch. Toss gently to coat the fruit. Pour into a greased glass baking dish (8×8). In a medium size bowl combine the remaining ingredients with a wooden spoon, it should have the texture of a loose dough or oatmeal cookie batter. Spoon the batter evenly over the top of the fruit. Bake for 20-25 min or until the top is golden brown and the fruit is bubbly. Serve with vanilla ice cream.

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