Jun 28, 2010

{vegetable + meatball soup}

This is my second attempt at a vegetable soup and I think I finally got it right. This soup was absolutely delicious and I think one of the best things I've ever made. Since I had ground beef I decided to add a few meatballs to the mix but you could easily leave them out and sub a vegetable stock for the chicken stock to make this vegan. You could really put any veggies you have on hand into this and it will come out good.

Recipe and pics after the jump

{local pops}

Summer is here and with that comes the lovely days of 90 and 100º weather. Blech. Thankfully, I found some recipes out there to make fruit popsicles that are both healthy and refreshing. I was inspired by these delicious looking treats and decided to use the raspberries and blueberries I'd picked up at the market to try my own version. You could make these without adding any sweetener but I had some local honey on hand and decided to add in just enough to take out the bite...especially with the raspberries. I highly recommend using molds that have no funky shapes or dips like I did with my raspberry molds...it made it terribly difficult to get out of the glass after it had frozen. My favorite was the blueberry version...perfectly refreshing and scrumptious. The raspberry version ended up not having quite enough honey in it so it had a little bit of a bite. If you make these, just taste them once its all mixed up before putting into the molds to make sure the sweetness factor is to your liking. As we are moving south this week, these will definitely become a staple in our freezer to help us survive the hot summer months.

Recipe and pics after the jump

Jun 27, 2010

{june daring bakers: blueberry pavlovas}

The June 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Dawn of Doable and Delicious. Dawn challenged the Daring Bakers’ to make Chocolate Pavlovas and Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse. The challenge recipe is based on a recipe from the book Chocolate Epiphany by Francois Payard

This months challenge was to make chocolate pavlovas and chocolate mascarpone mousse. As I am trying to make each challenge using as local of ingredients as possible, I am happy to say that I only had to go out and buy the heavy cream and mascarpone cheese. Granted, we did make mascarpone cheese in the Tiramisu daring bakers challenge back in February, but I really didn't want to go through the trouble and end up with butter again so I bought it instead. I discovered that yes indeed, I had made it incorrectly during that challenge...oh well. So, getting back to this challenge, at the market last Saturday I discovered that blueberries had come into season. I was so excited that I bought several pints...these have to be the best blueberries I've ever eaten in my life. For the challenge I decided to use them to make a blueberry meringue, blueberry mouse and the mascarpone cream drizzle.

I decided to do a half recipe since it was going to only be John and I eating this. Sadly, we still had too much. My changes to the original recipe were basically doing a straight substitute of the chocolate for the blueberries. To prepare them, I simply pureed them in my tiny food processor so that they would mix well with all of the other ingredients. The nice thing about this dessert was that it was fairly easy to make and put together. The longest portion was waiting on the merengues to cook but let me tell you, crispy blueberry merengues absolutely melt in your mouth. It was like cotton candy in crunch form. I would have been fine just making and eating those! The mouse was also pretty delicious and the blueberys flavor came through nicely. It all combined to make an absolute delight in the mouth. John, who doesn't usually enjoy sugary sweets, LOVED these.

Check out the pics and recipe after the jump

Jun 24, 2010

{potato, squash and goat cheese gratin}

As more items are becoming available at our local farmers market, I'm having to stretch my imagination further to figure out what to make with it all. Its not that there are no recipes out there, on the contrary, there are too many and I can't choose. The other issue I've been having is in trying to stretch our meat supply since it tends to be the more expensive portion of our weekly food budget. I've been able to successfully make a couple vegetarian dishes a week that John approves of and fills us up adequately. However, since we are not vegetarians and I've never done much vegetarian cooking, I'm having a difficult time knowing where to look and knowing if the dish will be filling enough. Thankfully, the other day as I was surfing around on The Kitchen, I found this delicious looking vegetarian dish using ingredients I had picked up from the market. I decided to add some onions into the mix and only used about one third of the cheese it called for since I was saving the rest for the summer pizza. Served with a salad, the meal ended up being quite filling and we were able to get 3 servings out of it. It would work great as a side dish as well, but we were both pleased with it as the main course. I would add all of the cheese it calls for though as it will only make it taste better.

Recipe and pics after the jump

{summer pizza}

We are a huge fan of pizza. Me even more so because its one of the simplest things to put together for dinner and it usually comes out tasting quite delicious. Also, I can usually make it entirely vegetarian and John doesn't complain. I call this one the summer pizza because it uses delicious ingredients that are in season during the summer (creative, I know): yellow squash, tomatoes + onions. Paired with some fresh basil and goat cheese this pizza will just melt in your mouth. Since I'm more a fan of thin crust I found a recipe that required no yeast and no rising time and adapted it to what I had on hand. The original recipe can be found here. I'm not entirely sure what salad oil is so I used olive oil instead. Below the jump is my version of the pizza crust recipe and pizza.

Pics and recipe after the jump

Jun 22, 2010

{stuffed yellow squash}

Yellow squash is in season! Yay for color and something new! I've seen several stuffed squash recipes that looked delicious so I figured it would be easy to mix up something on my own. I have to say that this recipe turned out just wonderfully. In fact, we have now added it to our list of favorites. We ate this on its own and it was just barely filling enough. Next time I think I'll add in a side of veggies or a salad to help complete the meal even more.

The goat cheese added a nice flavor to the overal taste but when I try this again, I think adding in even more goat cheese and/or sour cream will help keep the meat a little more moist. Once I had combined all of the ingredients, I realized that I could have gotten away with using even less than 1/4 lb of beef since there were so many other things going into the mix. As the summer veggies continue to come into season, I think we will be trying several different variations of this...I could see using chicken, tomatoes, zucchini and peppers with some italian spices. mmmm, I'm hungry.

Recipe after the jump

Jun 21, 2010


Ketchup is a staple ingredient in our household. As we began the locavore challenge, one of our rules was that we would not go to the store before hand to stock up on anything...we would just continue on with what we had on hand and when it ran out either make it or do without. Well, last week we ran out of ketchup and now that potatoes are coming into season, well, we must have ketchup. John has taken on the responsibility to create any condiments or staple items that we might need such as chicken stock and in this case ketchup. So, on Saturday we drove out to a nearby market located on the side of the road that had plenty of delicious looking red tomatoes. Granted, it is not quite tomato season up here, but this farmer uses a hothouse to grow them during the off-season. We bought 10 tomatoes and headed home to test out our new recipe.

We chose to cut the original recipe into thirds and saw in some other recipes that people had added in some sweetness so we did a hybrid of recipes. We forgot to time how long it took to reduce the mixture a ketchup consistency but it was a while. It was definitely cool to see it go from liquid to a nice thickness. The smells from the spices filled our house with deliciousness. Unfortunately, since we only used one cup of the vinegar it evaporated within the 30 minutes of simmering so, we recommend only simmering it for about 15 minutes. Since the vinegar disappeared, we thought we could just adding another cup into the spice mixture and it would be okay...well once that was added to the tomatoes lets just say that the ketchup had a nice bite of vinegar. Thats when we saw that other people's recipes added in brown sugar or maple syrup so, we decided to give it a try thinking that it might help out with the overpowering of the vinegar. It definitely helped but there is still a strong vinegar taste to it.

The original recipe called for a tablespoons of paprika which we didn't have. We did have cayenne and thought it would be a good substitution for the paprika. We put in a couple teaspoons of cayenne and whew!! spicey! Next time, we will just add a couple dashes.

All in all, it was a fun experiment and we will definitely use the ketchup we made until its gone. Next time I believe we will try a different recipe.

Recipe and pics after the jump

Jun 14, 2010

{daring cooks: pâtés and bread}

Our hostesses this month, Evelyne of Cheap Ethnic Eatz, and Valerie of a The Chocolate Bunny, chose delicious pate with freshly baked bread as their June Daring Cook’s challenge! They’ve provided us with 4 different pate recipes to choose from and are allowing us to go wild with our homemade bread choice.

I've been having so much fun with all of the Daring Bakers challenges that this month I signed up for Daring Cooks. John was particularly happy about this as he prefers the savory over the sweet. hehe Daring Bakers has been my excuse to actually have sweet things around so I figured he deserved a little something too.

Our challenge for this month looked very interesting and was something I've never experienced before. A pâté is basically a meat or veggie based paste that can then be spread onto bread or served with crackers. The meat versions are usually made with liver or gizzards which was just not something that I could stomach making so, I opted for the veggie version. My goal was to create a tricolor vegetable pâté using as many local ingredients as possible.

On a visit to our farmers market this morning we discovered so many more vegetables available! Yellow squash, zucchini, brocoli and garlic were just a few items we were able to pick up. So very happy about the variety being harvested right now! With all of my fresh ingredients in hand I went to figuring out the recipe I'd be able to make for the challenge.

Beans are not something that I can find at my farmers market and peppers are not quite in season so I knew those two layers had to be adapted. Most seasonal ingredients tend to taste good together so I chose to go with a zucchini top layer, carrot and goat cheese middle layer and the basil pesto as my bottom layer. Individually it all tasted pretty good and as as a medley, it was delicious. Since its only John and I, I did a half recipe for the top two layers but a full recipe of the pesto...you can never have too much pesto.

For the bread I used a recipe from my Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day cookbook. The honey whole wheat baguette turned out super delicious and was great with the vegetable pâté. It would also taste great served on crackers or with raw veggies. The taste of the pate was so very refreshing...I think I could eat it simply spread on a sandwich slice as my lunch.

I really enjoyed this challenge and it was relatively simple to adapt and create a completely local and seasonal pâté. It was pretty quick and easy to put together which is great since for the next month, my life will be consumed with watching all of the world cup soccer games! GO USA!! Definitely give the recipe a try, it works great as a snack while watching the matches. For the meat based pâtés, original tricolor veggie pâté and baguette recipes, check them out at the Daring Kitchen.

Recipe and pics after the jump