Monday, October 22, 2012

Turning Over a New Leaf

HUGE thanks to those of you who have read, followed, commented on, and pinned my posts.  

It's time for a redesign...

Stay tuned.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Autumn on a Plate

This recipe does not come with a witty anecdote,  it's just straight up delicious.  The classic autumnal flavors of apple, sweet potato, and kale come together perfectly in these delicious little cakes. Pan fried and served with warm bacon-maple dressing... does it get any better?  I highly doubt it.

1 sweet potato - peeled and grated
1 honey crisp apple - peeled and grated
3 kale leaves - chopped
3 scallions - chopped
1 egg
3 TBSP flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Start by placing grated apple and sweet potato in a dry towel. Squeeze out excess water. Place mixture into a bowl, add the rest of the above listed ingredients and stir to combine.  Drop spoonfuls of mixture into a buttered skillet on medium heat and brown on each side.  Serve with bacon-maple dressing.

Bacon-Maple Dressing:
4-5 slices of thick cut bacon
3 TBSP red wine vinegar
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
2 tsp pure maple syrup
chopped scallion for garnish

Fry bacon slices in a skillet then set them aside on a paper towel to drain off excess grease, reserving about 3 TBSP of rendered bacon fat in the skillet.  Add the rest of the above listed ingredients to the skillet.  Whisk together over low heat. Once thoroughly incorporated, remove from heat, add chopped bacon and garnish with chopped scallions.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

A Fresh Perspective

I am sure you have heard the phrase, "farm to table"... but have you ever actually gone to a farm, picked out your food, and taken it to your own table?  Last Sunday that is exactly what I did.  Tucked away in the heart of southwest Michigan, my two amazing friends have a beautiful plot of land that stretches as far as the eye can see. They allowed me the opportunity to wander around with my camera, gather some eggs, and enjoy a few glasses of wine.  20+ chickens call this place home.  Corn, buckwheat, and amaranth abound.  Large garden beds house everything from tomatoes to melons to root vegetables galore.  (Lucky for me, the tomato garden happened to be overflowing which afforded me a to-go box large enough to feed an army!) I watched the chickens wander around the yard, I saw where they sleep at night, I learned their names.  I saw how much they were loved and cared for.  There is something to be said for going to the source for your food.  It nourishes your soul as well as your body.  The labor of love that is owning your own farm is astonishing and demands respect.  Many thanks to Chuck and Lis, you gave me way more than tomatoes and eggs that day.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Just Drink It...

It's that time of year again... when the air catches a little nip, the distinct smell of grilling starts to be replaced by the smokey aroma of chimneys and fire pits, and you can hear the echos of a football game on a Friday night.  Fall.  It's the season of apples, hayrides, and comfort food.  Unfortunately, it is also the season of the common cold.  Despite my best efforts to deny it, I am officially under the weather.  Today, after mustering enough energy to get down to the kitchen, I managed to gather a few key ingredients from the fridge and concoct what I like to believe was a mean, green, cold-busting machine.  A lovely mixture of leeks, apples, chard, and parsley, this soup was chock-full of vitamin C as well as antioxidants. Smooth and herby with a back note of heat, it was perfect for sipping away the sniffles. No spoon required.

Apple Leek Soup

4C water
1 1/2 tsp salt 
2 leeks - cleaned and rough chopped
1 large honey crisp apple - peeled and rough chopped
1/4 tsp red pepper flake
1/2 C almond milk
2 small chard leaves 
handful of fresh parsley, plus some for garnish
pepper to taste

Add salt to water and bring to boil.  Turn heat to medium, add leeks and apples and simmer for 10 minutes.  Add chard leaves and handful of fresh parsley. Simmer 2 minutes.  Using immersion blender, blend until smooth. Add almond milk and red pepper flake. Stir. Pepper to taste.  Garnish soup with chopped fresh parsley.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Giving thanks... in September

An impromptu potluck dinner occurred here this evening. So impromptu, in fact, that I barely had time to document my own dish before it was devoured. The meal included curried cauliflower with cherry tomatoes, quinoa cakes, and pasta with spicy pumpkin sauce. After stuffing our faces at the table, we adjourned to the fire pit where we cranked out s'mores like it was our job. There was just the right amount of nip in the air to truly appreciate the warmth from the flames. We sat and chatted and made the ground breaking discovery that peanut butter is the perfect add-on to a s'more. Good friends and good food... what more could a girl ask for? Although it was not the official day for giving thanks, tonight made me realize exactly how grateful I am.

Pasta with Butternut Squash

1 small butternut squash - peeled, deseeded, cubed
1 clove garlic - minced
1/2 red onion - chopped
1/2 C chickpeas
3 chard stems - chopped
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp cinnamon
fresh sage leaves

Warm 2 TBSP olive oil in a skillet and saute squash, onions, chickpeas and chard. Once squash is fork tender, add garlic and spices and saute 2-3 more minutes. Add veggies to cooked whole wheat pasta and top with pumpkin sauce. Toss everything together to coat, then bake (covered) for 15 minutes at 325. Garnish with fresh sage.

Spicy Pumpkin Sauce

3 TBSP butter
3 TBSP flour
1/2 red onion - chopped
2 C almond milk
3 TBSP pumpkin butter
1 tsp sriracha
1 tsp red pepper flake
salt and pepper to taste

Melt butter in sauce pan over medium heat. Add onions and saute until tender. Add flour and stir to form paste. Add almond milk, pumpkin butter, sriracha and spices. Simmer on low for 2-3 minutes. Pour over cooked pasta with butternut squash.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Summer Memories

Growing up near the Chesapeake Bay, summer always included huge crab feasts. We would purchase a bushel of Maryland blue crabs, steam them with no small amount of Old Bay seasoning, and dump them onto a picnic table with plenty of piping hot sweet corn. It's my favorite summer memory, hands down. Now that I live in Michigan, cracking crabs is a thing of the past and I am stuck with the packaged crab meat at the grocery store. It is certainly not the best representation but it's better than nothing at all. Today I whipped up a quick snack that combined crab meat and corn into one tasty bite... a nostalgic farewell to summer. I started with a standard cornbread mix and added jalapenos, scallions, crab meat and fresh corn. Old Bay and red pepper flake were thrown in for good measure. Using a cake pop pan, I created tiny spheres of goodness that looked like hush puppies, but without all the deep frying action. Somehow, that made it feel much less gluttonous as I sat and ate each and every one.... dipping them in curry mustard and washing them down with spiked lemonade. Tasty as they were, they didn't begin to compare to the experience of a real crab feast. Next year I'm making the pilgrimage back east, heading down to the bay, and buying myself a bushel of blues. Who's in?....

Monday, September 3, 2012

Wisdom of a Tomato

I used to think I had it all figured out... then life happened. The carefree days of being a child gave way to the unpredictable world of adulthood. With age comes wisdom, and what I have learned at the ripe old age of thirty six is that I don't know half as much as I thought I did. Currently perched on the precipice of a rather large change, I am re-evaluating my life. My brain is crowded with thoughts. I find solace in the kitchen, it's where I clear my mind, become calm, and remember who I am. Something as simple as a sliced homegrown tomato with a little drizzle of pesto can transcend the plate and become a reminder to stop complicating things and get back to the basics. Sometimes you have to deconstruct in order to rebuild.