Monday, August 26, 2013

Meatless Luscious Fun: Easy Herb-Rubbed Roasted Summer Veggies - 082613

Nothing makes me happier than laughter in my in kitchen. I love, love, love to entertain. Dinner, drinks and nibbles, games, a new movie - it doesn't matter. If I could, I'd entertain every night. I'm incredibly spoiled in my professional life, most often with a wonderful sous chef and an intern or two. Then there's the super staffing service who care about making both me and my guests happy. When teaching at Cooks Warehouse I have incredible assistants who are interested and excited about cooking with me.

Unfortunatley, none of them follow me home:) So in my favorite room in my house, I am often alone. (My husband Mike, doesn't cook. But he cleans. This makes me very very happy.) So when I have the opportunity to chat across my island while I am cooking, my world is perfect. My favorite kind of food to feed my folks is casual. Often ethnic, but always easy and healthy. If I am cooking outside on the grill, I pop some veggies like this recipe into the oven, and by the time they are done I have a salad or slaw tossed and everything comes out at the same time.

The secret to enjoying dinner with guests is recipes like this one. I've taken the extra fat and the fuss out of these veggies, and added in the wonderful taste of herbs and spices. You can cut your veggies early in the morning, and just toss them with the herb rub and oil when you start your grill. They will take about 45 minutes to roast, plenty of time to toss a big green salad and cook a handful delicious fish filets. Add a good bottle of wine and some fruit, cheese and nuts for dessert, and you can have a good time at your party, too!

Herb Rubbed Veggies

3 Cups Sliced Zucchini
2 Cut Red Peppers
2 Cups Sliced Yellow Squash
2 Large Red Onions, peeled and quartered
1 Large Head Fennel, Sliced

3 TB Balsamic Vinegar
2 TB Olive Oil
½  Tsp Dried Basil
½ Tsp Dried Oregano
½ Tsp Dried Tarragon
½ Tsp Dried Thyme
½ Tsp Dried Parsley
½ Tsp Dried Rosemary
½ Tsp Each, Salt and Pepper
4 Garlic Cloves, Grated

Preheat oven to 425F. Toss all the ingredients together
Place them on a sheet pan,  stir well to coat. Cover and bake at 425F for 45 minutes or until vegetables are tender. 

*Why are we using dried herbs and spices in this recipe? These veggies cook at high heat for 45 minutes. The dried will hold up better than fresh - but feel free to chop some fresh herbs and stir them through the cooked veg after they are done.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Meatless Luscious Fun - Almond Honey Cake - 081913

Almond Honey Cake - packed full of fresh fresh summer fruit, juicy berries or sweet jam. What's not to like? This is a recipe that has been so often requested in the past few weeks, I promised to pass it on as quickly as possible. Thus, this week's Meatless Monday blog post!

There's so much to say about this cake... You can make it for everyone...low sugar and gluten free. The almonds, packed with protein, balance out the sugar in the honey. And speaking of honey, make sure to buy local honey if you can find it. There's lots of research lately that shows local honey is good for those of us who suffer from allergies. Those wonderful bees are making honey from the same plants that cause us so much distress during runny nose seasons in the fall and spring. Just make sure to enjoy the honey year-round not just allergy season! If you want to learn more about this subject, here's a good article to check out: Honey for Allergies

Back to the cake...I think you'll love it, too. Not too sweet, it can even be a delicious breakfast bread - or for a "pick-me-up" in the afternoon, a small square topped with a handful of blueberries is just perfect. . What's even better is that it makes good cakes in round, square and cupcake pans. So instead of slicing it in half as I did with the lemon curd below - you can bake pretty cupcakes and top them with the summer's best fruit!

 Honey Almond Cake

1 ¾ Cup Almond Meal
4 large eggs, at room temperature, separated
1/2 Cup Honey
1 Tsp Vanilla
1/2 Tsp Baking Soda
1/2 Tsp Sea Salt

2 TB Honey
1/4 Cup Sliced Almonds, toasted

Step One
Preheat oven to 350F. Spray and line a 9” springform pan. OR spray and line a round or square 9" pan OR spray a cupcake pan.

Step Two
Beat the 4 egg whites on medium speed until very foamy, white and doubled in volume, about the soft peak stage.

Step Three
Beat the 4 egg yolks, the 1/2 cup honey, vanilla, baking soda and salt in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until well combined. Add the ground almonds and beat on low until combined.

Step Four
Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the egg whites into the nut mixture until just combined. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan.

Step Five
Bake the cake until golden brown and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pan and gently remove the side ring. 

*To serve, brush the top of the cake with honey and sprinkle with sliced almonds OR top with summer berries OR slice in half and put jam or lemon curd and berries. Your choice - they are all good!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Meatless Luscious Fun - Summer Corn Salad - 081213

Wowza - we had a great time celebrating "couples and love" last Friday night - and its not even Valentines Day. Sparkling wine, fun appetizers awaited the couples as they arrived. Dennis and Cindy held a massage worship for the group and as we cooked away in the kitchen we heard lots of laughter from the next room.

What does Friday night have to do with Meatless Monday? One of the most scrumptious Corn Salads you've ever put in your mouth. Fresh local corn, the zing of jalepenos and the cooling power of fresh mint make this summer salad a fantastic side for dinner tonight, and the perfect stuffer for a wrap tomorrow. Don't even think about not trying this one!

Summer Corn Salad
8 Fresh and Local Ears of Corn
Nonstick Spray
1- 2 Jalepenos, finely chopped (seeds and ribs removed if desired)
1/2 Tsp of Salt
1/4 Tsp of Pepper
1/4 Chopped Fresh Mint
2 TB Sherry Vinegar
1/2 Cup Freshly Grated Manchego Cheese
Mint for Garnish

Step One
Grill the corn on a grill pan, or outside on the grill. No need to be fussy about the way you are grilling it - just shuck and spray it with a little nonstick spray. Place the ears directly on the grates and grill until you get some good grill marks. Cool and cut the corn off the cobs.

Step Two
Heat the olive oil in a large pan. Add the jalepenos and cook and stir until wilted. Add in the corn, salt and pepper and cook and stir til well incorporated. Remove from the heat, stir in the mint and vinegar. Place in a bowl, sprinkle with the cheese and garnish with mint.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Meatless Luscious Fun Real Guacamole

This time of year all I want is cool foods. And one of my favorite? Avocados. I think they are pretty perfect. What's not to like? Packed with good-for-you unsaturated fats, 35% more potassium than bananas, rich in folic acid and vitamin K and full of fiber! Not to mention they taste good.

Where we all get in trouble, tho is the chips...But this guac recipe is super with crunchy fresh veggies, a spread on a wrap, or as an addition to a salad or a vegetable taco. Don't miss out on the benefits of avocados just because you are cutting down on chips. Even if you don't have time to make the creamy dip, just slice some avocados and place them on your green salad - like I did above. Yummy, filling and fast, it takes a salad from ordinary to divine!

Best Ever Guacamole
4 Ripe Haas Avocados
1/4 Cup Finely Chopped, (Peeled and Seeded) Tomatoes,
1 TB Minced Red Onion
1 Finely Chopped Jalepeno
2 Cloves Garlic, Grated
1/4 Cup Chopped Cilantro
Sea Salt to Taste
1 Cup Grated Light Cheddar Cheese

Step One
Halve, peel and pit the avocados and mash with the tomatoes, onion, jalapeno, garlic and cilantro. Salt to taste and spread on a large platter. Sprinkle with the cheese.