Category Archives: Vegetables

Roasted Cauliflower & Garlic Soup

Yesterday, with the storm blowing outside, I was ready with a fist full of recipes. Sausage and Lentil Soup was already on the docket, along with sprouted wheat bread recipes, both dinner rolls and French bread.  Mid-morning, the creative process kicked in and this recipe lined up in my head like a military march.

I often wonder why these flashes of creativity strike during a shower, at 3:00 a.m., or when I am already committed to something else for the day. 

Oh well, I have learned to grab a pen and something to scratch it out on, because you can bet money on the fact it will NOT come back to me later.  Fortunately, I had more than the back of an envelope at hand, so the recipe made its way from my head to the paper.

Roasted cauliflower and roasted garlic … these would carry the show. 

Wanting it as creamy white as possible, I chose parsnips over carrots, and declined the notion of celery. Cauliflower creates a creamy texture all on its own once pureed, so a small amount of cream is all it took to hit the mark for texture.  Roasted garlic brings a smooth, deep flavor to quick soups, making it taste like it has simmered all day. Stir in extra roasted cauliflower just before serving, garnished with bacon and scallions for a little crunch and satisfying finish.

This recipe was so easy to put together it was ready in time for lunch with plenty of energy for my breads and lentil soup, which we had for dinner.

Roasted Cauliflower & Garlic Soup

Serves: 2
1      small head  garlic (8-10 cloves) — roasted
2     tablespoons  extra-virgin olive oil
1/2    small head  cauliflower — sliced 1/4″ thick
lemon pepper
2     slices  bacon — fried, crumbled
3/4   cup  parsnip — peeled and diced
1/2    cup  sweet onion — chopped
2      cups  chicken stock
2      tablespoons  cream
scallions — for garnish
sea salt — to taste
pepper — to taste

Heat oven to 400°F Cut top of garlic bulb off so that the majority of the cloves are exposed. Place in a small oven proof dish, pour 2 tablespoons olive oil over garlic bulb, and roast at for 30 minutes or until garlic is soft.

Arrange sliced cauliflower on a rimmed baking sheet, brush with additional olive oil and sprinkle with 1/2-1 teaspoon of the lemon pepper. Place in the oven beside the garlic and roast for about 10 minutes, stirring midway through, until cauliflower is lightly browned. Remove cauliflower from oven and set aside. When garlic is soft and top is lightly browned, remove from oven, place garlic bulb on a plate and let cool. Reserve roasted garlic oil for garnish, if desired.

Cook bacon in a medium sauce pan until crisp and fat is rendered. Drain on paper towel, crumble, and set aside. While bacon is cooking, finely chop 1/2 cup of the roasted cauliflower and reserve.

Cook onion and parsnip in bacon fat in the same sauce pan over med heat until vegetables are softened, about 5-6 minutes. Add cauliflower except for the reserved 1/2 cup to the onions and parsnips. Squeeze the garlic bulb from the bottom to remove garlic cloves and add cloves to the pot.

Pour 1 1/2 cups of the broth over the vegetables and simmer for 8-10 minutes or until vegetables are all cooked through.  Puree soup in a blender until smooth, return to sauce pan and add remaining broth, reserved cauliflower, and cream.

Heat on low for 2 minutes to heat through. Serve in warmed bowls and garnish with crumbled bacon, scallions, and drizzle with reserved roasted garlic olive oil.

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Seasonal Ingredient Map [via Epicurious]: Feature Fridays

Epicurious Seasonal Map

THIS is cool!
An interactive map from Epicurious showing what is fresh and grown locally in your area, by month.  Ever wonder when you can expect local strawberries or winter squash?  Want to be more purposeful about buying locally, but not sure what is available?  Just click on a state and there it is, along with ingredient descriptions, shopping guides, recipes, and tips.  Pretty neat, huh?!  Well, I liked it, though on Fridays I can be easily entertained. 😀  Enjoy!

Green Chile Sauce Quest

I like challenges, especially when it is a food challenge levied by my husband.  There is no one on the planet I want to please more with efforts I bring to the dinner table.  From time to time, he will mention a meal he had while traveling or point to a recipe in a cooking magazine, requesting I replicate it.

The magazines don’t give me near the fit a fond dining experience does, though sometimes he provides a photo. Whether trying to match childhood memories of Grandma’s Molasses Cookies or the swoon-worthy Wagyu filet at a steakhouse in Phoenix, trying to recreate a dish or flavor experienced by someone else had can be daunting.  I do appreciate his unwavering confidence.

This brings us to Green Chile Sauce.  A couple of years ago while Matt was working in New Mexico, the stories of amazing green chile sauce started rolling in. Served on just about anything that would hold still, New Mexico Green Chile Sauce is known for its superior status.  Time and again, it drew him back to a small cafe for breakfast, and then lunch, for the chance to savor the saporous sauce.

I know, I’ve heard it before how easy green chile sauce is to make, but if that is so, why do so many taste flat, or lack depth?  With fresh green chilies, a few recipes (links below), and Matt’s savvy culinary memory to use as a guide, it’s time to rise to the challenge—make the best green chile sauce on the planet outside New Mexico (or maybe anywhere).  Somehow, so long as he believes I can, I am willing to try.

Beef and Green Chile Chili at Fine Cooking

New Mexico Breakfast and Green Chile Sauce at I love New Mexico

Traditional Style New Mexico Green Chile Sauce at Food.com

Green Chile Sauce at Great-Salso.com

New Mexico Green Chile Sauce Recipe at MJ’s Kitchen

Of course, your comments, suggestions, recipe hints are all welcome 🙂

Emeril’s Butternut Squash Lasagna with Italian Sausage and Sage: One-Pot Wonderful

There are those meals you select knowing you are going to put extra effort into it.  You buy the freshest ingredients, dedicate a chunk of time to fuss over it, accept no substitutions, no excuses, you go all-out.  Emeril‘s Butternut Squash Lasagna with Italian Sausage and Sage is one of those planned indulgences.  I invited my cooking buddy over to indulge with me and we got started at 3:00 for a 6:30 dinner.  Don’t let the time investment dampen your enthusiasm for trying this dish; it is worth every minute, besides new recipes always take longer.

I like butternut squash prepared savory rather than sweet, so this recipe was especially appealing to me. Tender squash seasoned with fresh marjoram, thyme, and bay leaf, accompanied by Honeycrisp apple, fennel, and onion. Fennel sausage, fresh sage leaves and toasted hazelnuts join the mix, rounding out flavors and imparting a hearty texture.  Oh, and it is lasagna, so ricotta, mascarpone, mozzarella, and Parmigiano-Reggiano set the stage for a sensational dinner.

When you pick up a copy of Sizzling Skillets and Other One-Pot Wonders for yourself, mark page 76 for a cold fall afternoon and invite a small army of friends over for dinner.  I had to split this between two pans, the smaller of the two went directly to the freezer and we still had 8-10 servings.

Everyone loved it, each of us trying to describe our delight at the same time. Our daughter said, “This tastes like fall. It’s a little sweet, but then it’s not.” She was right, every bite was a nuance of engaging flavors. By the time we finished dinner, we finally agreed on a single word to describe it–delicious!

Click on the Photo for Order Info

Emeril’s Sizzling Skillets and Other One-Pot Wonders is now available!  Butternut Squash Lasagna with Italian Sausage and Sage and more than 130 other delectable recipes are compiled in this great cookbook.  Just click on the link or the photo to order yours and start enjoying them today.

Disclosure: For my participation in The Secret Ingredient’s One-Pot Blogger Cooking Party, I received a copy of Sizzling Skillets and Other One-Pot Wonders, a jar of Emeril’s Essence seasoning, and a set of Emeril – by zak! Table Art 7-piece. Once the party concludes, upon my successful completion, I will receive a $50 grocery reimbursement and a set of Emeril’s cookbooks.

Emeril’s Spicy Vegetable Coconut Curry: Main or Side Dish

Spicy Vegetable Coconut Curry

I braved the pouring rain yesterday running errands, which included a stop at Whole Foods for Emeril’s Spicy Vegetable Coconut Curry recipe. Oh, the stories I could tell about what goes on behind these lovely photos (and the stories my family could tell too!).  Sloshing shoes and all, it was worth it!  I love to hear the mmm’s and ooh’s at the dinner table, serving my family satisfying meals is one of my greatest pleasures. Emeril’s recipes have always made that easy, as I’ve followed Emeril Live and gleaned from his website for years.  To say it is a privilege to preview Sizzling Skillets and Other One-Pot Wonders and be part of The Secret Ingredient One-Pot Blogging Party is an understatement—I am having a blast!

Spice preference in our house ranges from “kick-it-all-the-way-up” to “I’ll take milk with that.”  I try to land somewhere in between with a dish like this—keeping some Sriracha near by for some, while avoiding a fire drill for others. The recipe called for seeded fresh chili, but since I could not find fresh I used dried.  There was no way to separate the seeds in the dried chilies, so adjustments were made for that too.  My husband, who likes it kicked-up, mentioned the chilies were “a bit naughty” when tasting a larger piece.  Yes, they certainly get your attention.

Ready to Simmer

Spicy Vegetable Coconut Curry is a lively vegetarian dish with fried tofu incorporating the subtleties of lemongrass and fresh ginger, which complement the red curry.  Instead of using tofu and serving it as a main dish, I served this beautiful kaleidoscope of vegetables as a side dish with rotisserie chicken and cilantro quinoa.  The simmering time enabled me to debone the chicken and fluff the quinoa with the cilantro, so dinner was a snap.  As the recipe suggested, a garnish of peanuts would be fabulous, but I could not pass up the shelled, roasted pistachios at Whole Foods—these smoky, earthy morsels put it over the top.  Drizzle some of the coconut curry sauce over the chicken and BAM! it’s dinnertime!

Main Dish or Side Dish

Click on the Photo for Pre-order Info

The variety of delicious recipes in this one cookbook is so appealing; you’ll go back to it again and again. 

Have you entered to win your own copy? Just click on the link below and follow the instructions.

Emeril’s Sizzling Skillets Giveaway: Enter Here To Win a Free Copy! 

Omelets: Perfection is in the Eye of the Beholder (or Taster)

Scanning cookbooks or browsing the web, you find scores of differing opinions about how to cook the perfect omelet—everything from medium heat to high heat, slowly, quickly, non-stick pan, or specialized omelet pan. Regardless the technique you choose, practice will be your greatest teacher.  For a little fun, I included an instructional video by Julia Child because her straightforward style makes me smile (especially the way she chucks the specialized omelet pan under the table).

Though non-stick pans are often recommended for omelets, I use cast iron since we stopped using non-stick years ago.  Plain eggs have never been my favorite, so I fold savory ingredients inside the eggs and add fresh on top.  Of course, the beauty of omelets is their versatility, substitutions are as simple as choosing what you like. This recipe is one of our favorites—fluffy eggs folded over spinach, mushrooms, cheese, onion, and garlic, with a garnish of fresh avocado, tomato, basil, and feta. Practice, be creative with ingredients and enjoy omelets for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

Spinach-Mushroom Omelet with Avocado, Tomato, Basil, & Feta

Serves: 2
3      whole  eggs
1       pinch  sea salt
1       pinch  black pepper — freshly ground
1       tablespoon  milk
2      tablespoons  butter
1       whole  green onion — green and white part
1       clove  garlic — minced
5       large  mushroom — sliced thick
2       handfuls  fresh spinach
1/3   cup  cheese — any favorite that will melt
Garnish:
1/2    whole  avocado — sliced
1        whole  Roma tomato — seeded and chopped
3        large  basil leaves — chiffonade
2        tablespoons  feta cheese

In a skillet over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon butter. Add onion and garlic and cook until softened.  Add mushrooms and cook until mushrooms release their juices. Add two large handfuls of spinach and stir while cooking until spinach is just wilted. Remove from pan and set aside on a plate until ready to fill the omelet.

Add a tablespoon of butter to skillet over medium heat and swirl so that melted butter covers the pan. Whisk eggs, milk, salt and pepper together until a little foamy.

Pour the egg mixture into the pan and lightly scramble it with the back of a fork or rubber spatula for 30-40 seconds. When eggs begin to set, stop stirring. Spread the omelet into an even layer and allow cooking for another 30 seconds. Gently test the edges of the eggs with a spatula and work to get them to release from the pan.

Once the eggs are nearly set, but not firm, remove pan from heat. Add the cheese and spinach-mushroom mixture to one side. Gently slide a spatula under the opposite side and fold over the filling. Cover with a lid and allow to set for 1-2 minutes to melt the cheese.

Transfer to a plate and garnish with slices of avocado, fresh tomatoes, basil, and feta.

Notes: Eggs cook quickly, it is important to have all ingredients prepped before beginning cooking the eggs.

Cut vegetables work best in omelets when lightly cooked before filling the omelet so the vegetables can release some of their moisture. Otherwise, the omelet can become soggy. 

To preserve a cut avocado, leave the peel and the pit in tact on the part saved. Place the unused portion in a resealable bag with a squeeze of lime or lemon juice to keep the avocado from turning brown. Use within 1-2 days for best results.

Shared on the following Blog Hops:
Real Food Whole Health Traditional Tuesdays
SS & GF Lightly Indulgent Tuesday
Hearth & Soul Blog Hop
Fresh Bites Friday
Girlichef for EKat’s Kitchen Friday Potlock
The Healthy Home Economist Monday Mania

Farmers Markets [Revisted]: The Bounty of Summer

Sometimes a previous post is worth resurrecting, revisiting something wonderful—Farmers Markets certainly qualify.  I hope it is a refreshing reminder of summer’s offering.

It is the height of the season for Farmers Markets in the Rocky Mountain region with various locations every Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday in Colorado Springs.  My personal favorite is at 24th & West Colorado Ave, in Old Colorado City on Saturday mornings.  Matt and I browse vine-ripened produce, local honey, salsa, and fresh-baked bread by La Baguette, while we take in the aroma of roasted chilies or hot kettle corn wafting in the air.  Colorado lamb always gets our attention with summer grilling in the forefront of our minds. That is, of course, until I spot the blooms of Perennial Favorites—reminded that my flowerbeds could use some work.

July will be sweet with Rocky Ford cantaloupe, watermelon, and peaches & cream corn that will accompany picnics and holiday parties. Produce, flowers, bread, honey, meat, cheese, herbs, roasted chilies—it is worthy of the crowd on a Saturday morning, or any other day of the week that you can find food fresh, ripe, and flavorful. This is one of those times to ignore the advice to not shop when hungry, several of the vendors offer samples.

Just like reading labels in the grocery store, it is just as important to inquire about the origin of the produce when shopping at a Farmer’s Market.  Not all vendors raise what they sell, so if you’re not careful, you can end up with Florida sweet corn or California tomatoes.  For some customers, the convenience of a larger variety saves a trip elsewhere, so the mix is good.  Overall, the summer markets are rich with local, Colorado produce and meat, providing superior nutrition at your table.

One of the advantages of visiting the same Farmer’s Market is getting to know the people growing your food.  Early August will be the peak of the season for delicious tree-ripened peaches from Tate Orchards in Palisade.  I especially appreciate their efforts to provide peaches without the use of chemical pesticides or herbicides. This is truly a special time of year to see the growers face to face and reward their hard work with our patronage.

In addition to food products, some markets highlight art, handmade crafts, and music.  These prove to be more interesting for the kids when their patience with veggies runs out.  Organic and conventional farmers, artists, musicians, and family businesses sit under adjacent awnings lining streets and parking lots throughout the city.  Our community is blessed to have them if only for a short season. It is summertime goodness at its finest.