Saturday, January 19, 2019

Cheesy Stuffed Eggplant - Moosewood Cookbook

Last week I mentioned that I have some unusual ingredients lurking in my pantry and fridge. Today I present this gorgeous, gorgeous wild rice from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. (Do I really need to clarify that the Upper Peninsula is in Michigan?  Seems redundant to this Michigan girl. Anyway, it's beautiful and wild and natural and awesome up there. It almost seems like another state: Yoopers have a special accent, they eat food that can only be found there (think meat pasties), and they understand snow... real snow!)

I spent a week in the UP last summer and purchased these two types of wild rice. (can you see the difference?) Seriously, I forgot they were in my fridge. Now, I'm on a mission to use them whenever I can.

This eggplant recipe from my beloved Moosewood Cookbook is one of my old standbys. Today, I swapped wild rice for the recommended brown rice (a great improvement!) and I messed around with the original seasonings.

I served it in the hollowed out eggplant which would be fancy for a dinner party, but usually, I just plop it all in a casserole and call it good. Chewy, cheesy, creamy, and really good.

Here's what you need to stuff 5 eggplant halves or make a nice casserole:
6 medium eggplants
1-1/2 C  raw wild rice, cooked
olive oil
2 C minced onion
12 oz minced mushrooms
black pepper
hot pepper flakes
5-6 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 C cottage cheese
1 C grated cheddar cheese
1/2 C fresh parsley
2 T sunflower seeds
1 T sesame seeds

Here's what you do:
Cut the eggplants lengthwise and use a spoon to scrape out the insides. It's a bit tricky, but be's possible. Chop the flesh in about 1/2 inch cubes. (If you're not serving the rice in the eggplants, simply peel the eggplants and chop the flesh.)

Saute the eggplant, onions, mushrooms, herbs for about 15 minutes. Add the garlic at the last minute or so.

Mix everything. Bake till perfect.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Peanut Sesame Noodles

What are the unusual ingredients lurking in the back of your pantry? I have a bag of millet in mine that I really need to use, but I'm not sure how. I also have a jar of raw, crushed, mild paprika from Poland. I have no idea how use it either. I have some really weird spices too : fenugreek, harissa, and black salt anyone?

I remember purchasing these black sesame seeds because I wanted them for sushi, but after my most recent sushi fiasco (read about it HERE), I'm giving sushi a rest for a while.

You have to admit that the black seeds look great on these peanut sesame noodles.

Nothing too fancy about this recipe; I sauteed onions and garlic and added them to the peanut sauce. Lots of raw veg gave the noodles a good crunch.  Thinning the sauce with pasta water helped keep the noodles nice and silky and made leftover less clumpy.

My guys thought it would be good heated up, but I served it cold. This type of noodle dish always goes over well - everyone loves it.

Peanut Sesame Noodles
Saute 2 small onions and 2 cloves of garlic in sesame oil. Place in blender.
Add the following to the blender and whirl till smooth
1/2 C peanut butter
1/2 C tahini
1/4 C lime juice
1/4 C soy (or less to taste)
2-4 T sriracha sauce
2  T honey

cook 1 pound of pasta until tender (more than al dente) reserving about 1/4-1/2 C of the starchy water. Add the water to the peanut sauce.

slice a red pepper as thinly as you can and also chop the tender parts of 2 stalks of broccoli.

3-4 scallions, cut in 1/2 inch slices

serve with fancy black sesame seeds or a handful of peanuts.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Easy Creamy Tortellini Soup

This was so easy to pull together on a late Sunday afternoon! I used a basic recipe I found at Taste of Home and made it better by doubling the tomatoes and making it creamy with a can of cannellini beans. Lots of black pepper is a must here.

Saute some minced garlic in a small amount of oil
Add 2 cans diced tomatoes
Add 48-64 ounces of good vegetable stock
Add 9 ounces refrigerated cheese tortellini
Add 2 t Italian seasoning

simmer until pasta is cooked

Add 1 bag spinach
Add 1 can undrained cannellini beans which have been pureed in a blender
Add 1 heaping t of ground black pepper

Serve with Parmesan cheese.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Spicy Shrimp - New York Times

Do you really think that 'high class' sites like the New York Times and Bon Appetit have better recipes than or Taste of Home or other 'regular'  sites?  (Let's not get into an argument about my use of 'high class' or 'regular.' You know darn well what I mean!)

I just made an excellent White Bean, Kale, and Farro Stew from And I plan to make a simple tortellini soup from Taste of Home tomorrow for dinner. Nothing wrong with either recipe as far as I can tell.

Maybe the New York Times uses ingredients that are less common to the average cook, but I never feel like they are out of my reach here in small town mid-America. One glance at the ingredient list below and you'll see what I mean....maybe not everyone has a bottle of fish sauce handy.

You could look all over the internet and find dozens of recipes for a spicy shrimp meal to serve over rice, but I ask you..... did Mario Batali eat it? Well, according to the New York Times, he often made this exact dish after a busy night in his kitchen and then drinking into the wee hours of the morning. Time for something spicy, according to the Times article.  Maybe the stories surrounding the recipes on Allrecipes are more quaint? "I take this to the church potluck every chance I get and everyone loves it!"  No snobbery there.

Mario Batalli has a summer home near where I live, and I can tell you, it's a pretty low-key place. Plenty of  'regular' people walking around. A 'regular' grocery store and 'regular' bars and restaurants. So maybe he's a perfectly regular guy who just happens to have a fantastic career in New York and has had his excellent Spicy Shrimp recipe published there.

Spicy Shrimp - New York Time style

2 T red curry paste
1/4 C fish sauce
1/4 C sambal
1/4 C sweet chili sauce
2 pounds raw shrimp (I used frozen and it was fine), shells removed, deveined
3 T sesame oil
1 C sliced scallions
2 T soy sauce
1 can light coconut milk
1 bunch cilantro

Mix the curry, fish, sambal, and chili sauces in a saute pan. Add the shrimp and cook until done. Add the onions and cook a bit. Stir in the soy sauce and coconut milk. Chop the entire bunch of cilantro and toss in at the last minute. Serve over white rice.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Sharing My Kitchen

Words cannot describe how much I love this photo! It's like a treasure hunt into my life. 

My husband has a new hobby which is  excellent because he needs something fun to do during all the hours away from his work. And the best news is that I will benefit from said hobby - in fact I'm thrilled!

He has decided to learn how to bake bread - real, honest to goodness bread. Not from the bread machine or from a starter kit, no! Real yeast, real kneading, real rising, and real baking stones.

He conquered bagels a few days ago and we have been feasting on bagels morning, noon, and night.

Yesterday he worked on 'pain a l'ancienne' which is a gorgeous loaf of bread made 'in the traditional way,'  (not the 'ancient' way.)

Last night he started some pizza dough. How tasty will that be? (I take pizza very seriously!)

But here's the thing that I find most interesting - it's happening in MY kitchen...... Did you really look at the photo of my KITCHEN? I sit nearby while the flour is floating all over the place and wonder to myself if it'll ever get wiped up. The spraying of water directly on my 500 degree oven walls was fun to watch. (sarcasm).

Twice in the past few days, I have changed my finely tuned menu to accommodate those loaves of perfection; who wouldn't prefer a bagel sandwich over a plate of leftovers or the pain a l'ancienne and sharp cheddar over Asian noodles?

All this has caused me to evaluate my ownership of the kitchen in our house; I am finding out that I'm a 'kitchen-hog' of the worst kind! I don't like it!

So as my husband develops his awesome new hobby, I will work on my attitudes about sharing space in OUR home. Wish me luck!

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Tofu Mushroom Stir Fry - keeping it simple

This would be an excellent recipe for those of you who are unfamiliar with using firm tofu. I conquered my fear of tofu a few years ago and now it's a staple in my kitchen. It's so handy for a quick meal! Cheap and filling. And so simple! And delicious! And nutritious!

This is also a good beginner recipe for using shiitake mushrooms - please tell me you're not still using only button mushrooms.  I can't get over how delicious shiitakes are. They are probably not as cheap as button mushrooms, but the improvement in flavor is worth it.

At first I thought there would not be enough sauce for 4 portions, but it's plenty. My guys added Sriracha sauce and I added just a splash of extra soy sauce.

Tofu Mushroom Stir Fry (from Bon Appetite)

1 lb extra firm tofu, cut in 1/2 inch cubes, blotted dry on a cotton towel or paper towels.
Sprinkle 2 t corn starch, 1 T soy sauce, some hot pepper flakes over tofu cubes.
Fry in 1 T corn oil until brown, flip over and continue browning pieces of tofu. Set aside.

1 lb shiitake and button mushroom mix. Remove stems from shiitakes and tear them in biggish pieces.

1 bunch green onions, cut in 1 inch pieces.

1 knob of ginger, sliced thinly or grated.

Saute mushrooms, onions, and ginger in 1 T corn oil until brown in some spots.

1 T soy sauce
1 T rice vinegar
1 T mirin (rice wine)

Mix tofu, mushrooms, and sauce. Heat up and serve over white rice

Garnish: sesame seeds.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Citrus-Pistachio Couscous Salad

 Looking to lighten up your meal plans this coming month? Here's a light and delicious salad for you to try. I used to make this all the time when I was younger and for some reason, it slipped out of my regular rotation. You can see I have it scratched on the inside cover of my old-favorite "Moosewood Cookbook."

I remember eating this at a neighbor's house and asking for the recipe. She blurted out a few things and I ran home and scribbled them down. I'm not even sure I got it half right. And I know for certain that back then, couscous seemed very exotic! In fact, the woman herself seemed exotic to me .... I don't really remember why though. Her daughter and my daughter were little friends and would spend long afternoons playing together and eating at each others' houses. Mom and I were friendly and almost 'girlfriends,' so it was completely bizarre when we woke up one morning to find they had moved during the night! House was entirely empty of people and items! I have no idea what happened to them, but I whenever I see this recipe, I am transported back to that mysterious event and I will always wonder about it.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

1980s Cheesy Bean Dip

Are we eating any healthier these days? We certainly know more about the effects of the SAD diet (Standard American Diet) on our bodies than we did in the 1980s, but do we care at all? I know I do.

I recently learned that a few dairy industries have had to close shop or at least cut way back on production because the demand for non-dairy milk has increased so much in recent years – and that is GOOD NEWS! And I also just learned that some of the disgustingly huge meat companies (think Tyson and Smithfield) have put some of their energies into cruelty free meats (think Beyond Meat and Tofurky …by the way, have you tried the Beyond Meat burger? OMG!)

Well, I regressed this week and ate a batch of this cheesy bean dip, which I lovingly call *1980s* cheesy bean dip….cuz, you know….cheese and all that….so 80s.

Here’s what you need:
2 cans refried beans
1 C shredded cheddar
1 C shredded Monterey jack
1 brick cream cheese
1 C sour cream
½ pack taco seasoning
Hot sauce to taste

Here’s what you do:
Melt and stir, melt and stir, melt and stir. Dip and eat, dip and eat, dip and eat.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Cashew Cream Zucchini Sauce

What happens when you go away from your zucchini plants for 5 days? It’s no exaggeration to say you get some pretty large veggies.

I do believe zucchini could feed the world, and if we prepared it this way, everyone would be happy!

I filled my Cuisinart 2 times. Jam-packed. 

Here’s what you need:
Freshly picked zucchini
Lots of fresh garlic – minced
Lots of red pepper flakes
Lots of raw cashews
Fresh basil

Here’s what you do:
Saute the minced garlic, red pepper flakes, and cashews in a generous amount of olive oil. Roughly shred the zucchini and add it to the garlic mixture. I added more cashews at this point and I don’t regret it. Allow it to simmer and cook down a bit, but be warned, the zucchini never really ever shrinks at all. Toward the end, when the cashews are soft and the zucchini is pretty soft, add lots of fresh basil. Stir vigorously. The aroma is heavenly!

Allow to cook a bit and process in a high-speed blender. Serve on pasta with a nice parmesan. Delicious!

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Simple Mushroom Sandwich

Sometimes the simpler a meal is, the better. This portobello mushroom sandwich is the perfect example of that truth. The secret is in using high quality mushrooms and high quality buns. Today I used homemade hamburger buns from my local bakery. I have used ciabatta buns, and those work too.

Here's what you need:
large portobello mushrooms - 2 per sandwich
olive oil
tin foil
Sandwich buns
Parmesan cheese (dairy or non dairy)
garlic salt

Here's what you do:
clean the mushrooms with a small spoon, scraping out the black gills and trimming off the stem. Place them on a grill pan and drizzle olive oil over both sides. Salt them generously. Start grilling them slowly, flipping them every so often. You don't want them to become brown, just soft and juicy. The salt will bring out lots of juice and that's good. Cover them with foil and allow them to cook for at least 30 minutes, flipping them once in a while. They are done when a knife slips easily into the center of the mushroom.

In the mean time, make the best garlicky Parmesan toast with your buns. The buns do not need to be hot at meal time; they can sit around a bit before serving the sandwiches.

That's it!