Summer Bruschetta & Garlic Chard

September is my favorite month. It’s like setting the reset button on the year. The air gets a bit crisper, we get to wear fall clothes, we’re all back to work, back to school and looking down the road toward things like (dare I say) the holidays. September is “festival month” here in Portland with PICA’s Time Based Art Festival, MusicFest NW and Feast Portland.

If you haven’t gotten your tickets to any of these said events, particularly Feast Portland you need to jump on them! We’re excited out here to have the first of a long-awaited food and drink festival kicking off on September 21st. Celebrity chefs and food personalities from around the country are descending upon our city to compete, lecture and give demonstrations on the newest thinking and trends in food and cooking. Here’s the website for schedules and tickets.

To me, nothing says end of summer more than fresh tomatoes. We had them bountifully available in upstate NY, but it’s been harder to grow them in Oregon (at least for me) the last couple of summers because our seasons have been shorter. Last summer we had a few cherry tomatoes but this year I thought we’d try to grow a San Marzano variety to jar marinara sauce.
A few of them are starting to peak which gave me a hankering for bruschetta.

Bryce was at the neighbor’s house watching a movie and with Ben away in NYC it was a simple, light dinner for one which also involved Annie Hall, poetically set in the fall in NYC. Every time I watch this movie it’s as if I can simultaneously smell the air and feel the energy of a NY September. Come on, take a walk down memory lane with me. Thanks Woody.

Back to dinner — I’ve been eating tons of chard and kale lately after watching a TedX talk about Dr. Terry Wahls who, reversed her MS symptoms by eating 4-6 cups of dark leafy greens every day as part of a 9 cup per day fruit and vegetable (+ high protein) regimen. She was in a wheelchair at the beginning of this diet and now participates in 18 mile cycling races. (You read that right.) I’m always amazed by these types of stories which further solidify the idea that we should never underestimate the healing power of foods, especially those that specifically nourish the brain. Here’s her TedX Talk.

Of all the darker greens, Swiss chard is actually my favorite because it has a heartier, more substantial leaf that not only has nice flavor, but stands up well to heat.

Summer Bruschetta & Garlic Chard

Bruschetta
1-2 ripe tomatoes, cored, seeded and diced
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, whole
2-3 fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces
Splash of red wine vinegar (lemon juice or balsamic would also work well)
Drizzle of good olive oil
Salt & Pepper (to taste)
1-2 slices of crusty bread, toasted (baguette would be great)

Garlic Chard
1-2 cups of fresh chard washed, dried and chopped in large pieces
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

For the bruschetta:
Put the tomatoes, garlic, basil, vinegar, olive oil and salt and pepper in a bowl and combine. Let the flavors get acquainted for at least 10 minutes.

Put the bread in the toaster or under the broiler. If using the broiler, keep an eye on it as you’ll need to flip the bread!

For the chard:
Heat the tbsp of olive oil in a pan and add the tbsp of chopped garlic. Once you see the oil is heating up add the chard with a pinch of salt and pepper and toss. Note: Don’t wait until the garlic starts to brown to add the chard as the garlic at this point will taste bitter. The garlic will infuse the oil quickly and tastes better warmed, not crispy. The chard will wilt in just a few minutes, so watch it closely. I let mine cook about 2-3 minutes total.

Back to bruschetta:
Take the whole garlic clove and rub one side of the toasted bread. Spoon the tomato mixture over top and finish with fresh ground pepper.

Total prep + cooking time: about 20 minutes.

Have a fantastic day!

Sweet Potato Oven Fries with Garlic Aoli

Food labels aside, Saturdays are for snacking around here. On any given day, I try to eat “the rainbow” in food colors. It’s fun to get kids involved in this game…and honestly has opened up more of a variety of vegetables that Bryce is willing to try. She’s been a little fickle about eating sweet potatoes the last couple of years, but we can always win a stealth mission with a sweet potato fries. Sweet potato oven fries hit the spot with the kids, and grown ups embrace them even more when you pair them with a garlic-y dipping sauce (which, also feels like a fancy indulgence!)

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We Portlanders are gearing up to tackle the winter grays. Eating foods that are rich in antioxidants and Vitamin D are super-important in the effort to stay healthy and to keep our immune systems pumping. Here are a few of the health benefits offered by the lovely sweet potato (aside from the fact that they’re well…sweet:)

Sweet Potatoes are:

1. Rich in beta-carotene, to aid in retinal health and bone strength. It also has powerful antioxidant functions, helping the body scavenge free radicals, and limiting cellular damage.

2. Loaded with Vitamin C. As well as warding off cold and flu, Vitamin C assists in the production of collagen which, helps us age a little more gracefully!

3. High in Potassium, which is associated with a reduced risk of stroke, improved blood pressure control and improved bone health.

4. Powered with Magnesium. Magnesium is a mineral that aids in relaxation, as well as blood, bone, heart and nerve function health.

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5 sweet potatoes, cut into about 1 by 5-inch “fries”
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Directions
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Place the sweet potato “fries” on a foil-lined baking sheet and toss with the olive oil. Bake until golden, about 45 minutes.

Meanwhile combine the basil, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. In another small bowl combine the mayonnaise, garlic, and lemon juice, and stir to combine.

When the sweet potato fries come out of the oven, sprinkle with the basil salt. Serve with the garlic mayonnaise alongside for dipping.

French Baguette Pizzas

I remember when 30 minute meals were all the rage, then it was down to 20. Now I’m seeing books that tout the perfect meal in 16 minutes or less. While the 16 minute meal is not exactly what I’m striving for, this meal satisfies the time quotient while achieving high marks for deliciousness, simplicity — and also happens to be a fun way to get your kittens into the kitchen.

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This was inspired by the Pioneer Woman, who is no stranger to a time crunch with four kids and a ranch to tend to. This is a fantastic way to use leftover meats and/or roasted chicken! I do hope you give these a try, topping with all of your own family favorites.

French Baguette Pizza

1 french baguette (or any kind of rustic break will work)

Topping Variations I used:
Marinara/Mozzarella Cheese/sautéed Mushrooms
Marinara/Mozzarella Cheese/sliced Meatball
Marinara/Mozzarella Cheese/Hard Salami
Basil Pesto/Mozzarella Cheese/Roasted Chicken/Roasted Red Bell Peppers

Method
Preheat your oven to 375 Degrees.
Slice a baguette down the middle, creating 2 halves, then slice into length-wise pieces of your desire. Add your toppings, and put the baguettes on the bottom shelf of the oven for about 10 minutes.

Bring the pizzas up to the middle shelf for another 8-12 minutes, or until the toppings melt really well and become acquainted.

Let them cool for 3-5 minutes before serving — then go to town!

Roasted Eggs and Autumn Squash

easypeasyportland:

making this tonight….

Originally posted on easy peasy:

OK guys, ever stumped about what to do with those yellow, funny looking squash?

Yea, me too. I had these yellow squash that frankly I wasn’t sure how to cook but Bryce and I needed a project today after school. We picked them up at the pumpkin patch and intended to paint them along with some spooky gourds. Glad we didn’t! They were delicious roasted with eggs.

Roasted Eggs and Autumn Squash

1 autumn yellow squash
1 egg
1 tsp olive oil (or truffle oil)
1 tsp parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper (to taste)
Fresh parsley torn or chopped

Method:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Cut the bottom of the squash off so that it can sit with stability. Once it is stable on the cutting board carve out the center of the squash, removing most of the seeds and some flesh. You want to create a cup for…

View original 144 more words

Classic Creme Brulee

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Do you?

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Creme Brulee, or Burned Cream may sound like a recipe that requires a certificate from Le Cordon Bleu to make. The truth is it’s the one dessert I’ve made over and over again without fail. It’s something you can make ahead and I’ve never met a kid that didn’t devour it. It’s sweet but not too sweet. Rich but light. Creamy and crunchy. It can be infused with so many different flavors and is totally fun as a way to involve your dinner guests in a meal — I mean who doesn’t love to ignite a blow torch? Alright it’s a smallish culinary torch but it still packs a punch and can be somewhat cathartic. If you don’t have one you could use an oven broiler and have a similar effect (disclosure — I haven’t tested this theory but will share the results when I do!)

Here’s a link if you’re interested in purchasing one.

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Ina Garten’s Classic Creme Brulee
1 extra-large egg
4 extra-large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon for each serving
3 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon orange liqueur (recommended: Grand Marnier, but I omit this for the kid version)

Method
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the egg, egg yolks, and 1/2 cup of the sugar together on low speed until just combined. Meanwhile, scald the cream in a small saucepan until it’s very hot to the touch but not boiled. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the cream to the eggs. Add the vanilla and orange liqueur and pour into 6 to 8-ounce ramekins until almost full.

Place the ramekins in a baking pan and carefully pour boiling water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the custards are set when gently shaken. Remove the custards from the water bath, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate until firm.

To serve, spread 1 tablespoon of sugar evenly on the top of each ramekin and heat with a kitchen blowtorch until the sugar carmelizes evenly. Allow to sit at room temperature for a minute until the caramelized sugar hardens.

* Propane Torch Safety
Propane gas torches are highly flammable and should be kept away from heat, open flame and prolonged exposure to sunlight. They should be used only in well-ventilated areas. When lighting a propane gas torch, place the torch on a flat, steady surface, facing away from you. Light the match or lighter and then open the gas valve. Light the gas jet, and blow out the match. Always turn off the burner valve to “finger tight” when finished using the torch. Children should never use a propane gas torch without adult supervision.

– See more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/creme-brulee-recipe/index.html#sthash.FdfZEWuD.dpuf

Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/creme-brulee-recipe/index.html?oc=linkback

Have a great week!

Sunday Greek Yogurt Pancakes

For years I thought I was inept at making a good pancake. We grew up eating Bisquick and no matter the occasion the result was, without fail, pancakes that were heavy and (likely) burned. Not enough milk, too much milk. Over beaten. Heat too high. OK, I may have learned a few things since then but still erupts the tinge of anxiety over whether or not a flapjack recipe will deliver a light, fluffy yet rich tasting pancake that will satisfy my brood. Behold!

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Inspired by a sour cream pancake recipe found on Epicurious, I substituted the sour cream with Greek yogurt and ended up with something that tastes better (I’ve had both versions) and can feel better about eating. Brycey put a little elbow grease into the whisk and so it was a Sunday morning family affair. She has asked that we find a way to incorporate pumpkin into the next batch. I think she’s onto something.

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Greek Yogurt Pancakes
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup greek yogurt
1/2 cup milk (I used 1% milk fat)
1 large egg
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus additional for cooking pancakes

Method:

Preheat oven to 200°F

Whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Whisk together yogurt, milk, egg, and melted butter (2 tablespoons), then whisk into flour mixture. The batter will be slightly thick but not paste-like. If it needs a touch more milk to loosen then add about 1 tbsp at a time.

Brush a 12-inch nonstick skillet with melted butter and heat over medium heat until hot. Working in batches, pour a scant 1/4 cup batter per pancake into skillet and cook until bubbles appear on surface and undersides are golden brown. Flip and cook other side, about 1 minute. Transfer to a baking sheet and keep warm in oven. Lightly butter skillet between batches.
Serve pancakes with warm syrup.

Have a great week!

Tuscan Style Vegetable Stew

I couldn’t help but be inspired by all the photos I’m seeing of snow, sleds, snowboards and rosey noses. We’re heading up to the mountain on new years eve and I made ahead a vegetable stew that will hit the spot and warm our bones when we retreat inside. Have soup…will travel!

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This recipe was inspired by Ellie Krieger. A traditional Tuscan soup wouldn’t have broccoli in it, but since there’s a cold brewing in our house we needed added ammunition in conquering it. We’re fighting the good fight.

Tuscan Style Vegetable Stew

1 med-lrg onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 med zucchini, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 c fresh chopped broccoli (stems and crowns)
2 C fresh spinach leaves
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 15oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 14.5oz can fire-roasted diced tomatoes (low sodium if possible)
4 C low sodium chicken broth

1 tbsp. fresh thyme OR 1 tsp. dried
2 tsp chopped fresh sage OR ½ tsp. dried
½ tsp salt plus more to taste
¼ tsp black pepper
½ C parmesan cheese (optional)
1 crusty french baguette (optional)

In a small bowl, mash half the beans with the back of a fork and set aside.

Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium high heat. Add all the vegetables except the spinach. Add the garlic, salt, pepper, thyme and sage. Cook until the vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.

Add the broth and tomatoes and bring to a boil. Add the mashed beans, the remaining whole beans and cook another 10 minutes. The beans will thicken the soup a bit. Add the spinach leaves and cook about 3 minutes more, until the spinach is wilted.

Serve topped with parmesan cheese along side a piece of crusty bread. This would also be great with croutons.

Have a wonderful, safe new year!