Monthly Archives: July 2011

Try Again

Sichuan Stir-Fry

The past month has been a month of changes and upheavals, and things are seeming to settle down to a new rhythm.  Currently the leader of IIP, the amazing Jeroxie, is going through a similar situation and I have faith that eventually she and her family will find a new rhythm.

When Joe and I first started dating I had to make some changes to my recipes, essentially eliminating any and all spice from the recipes.  This recipe marks a real milestone in that Joe found it to be lacking in the spice department, and was requesting more chili sauce.  I am now looking forward at moving from moderately spicy Chinese to oh so spicy Thai food and upgrading my peppers.  While we will never be able to eat at a real Thai Restaurant (silly peanut allergies), I’m looking forward to being able to try homemade versions of various Thai Basil dishes and maybe even some modified noodles dishes.

This dish is a fusion, taking some of my favorite elements of Asian cooking and tossing them all together in a delicious sauce.  The base of my recipe is my Sichuan Eggplant recipe which can be found here!  I then decided to add broccoli to the dish as well as some red cabbage in order to give the dish a crunchy texture.   Right after adding the sauce I also added the rice and created a “well” in the center of the wok.  I cracked an eye into the hole and then scrambled it, similar to how you would do a fried rice dish.  once the rice was cooked it was time to enjoy!

Sneak Away

Rustic Blueberry Apple Pie

There is nothing as delicious as the taste of fresh picked fruits.  Somehow they manage to pack summer into every fresh bite and the result is pure perfection.  In the past we have been fortunate enough to pick our own from Crooked Run Orchard but this year I have been taking advantage of the local farmer markets to add some new fruits.  While I do see Crooked Run in my future, possibly this weekend if Mother Nature turns on the AC, this past week I was really craving some late blueberries which they don’t have.   I also wanted to do something with blueberries for my Simple and in Season blog post since last summer I neglected blueberries in favor of peaches and blackberries.  This simple pie can be done with almost any combination of fruits, I tend to do one berry and one “other” fruit.  Originally the plan was to use peaches but when I was out last week the selection was a little lacking since true peach season is just starting.  Instead I decided to pick up a few of the few early apples and switch things up a bit.

Ingredients: (serves 8)

  • favorite press-in-crust (I do a Brown Butter version of the standard butter crust from Joy of Cooking)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 2 apples, cored and quartered
  • 3/4 cup blueberries
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • pinch of cinnamon/cloves
Directions:
  1. Bring the water, cinnamon, brown sugar, and cloves to a boil.  Then add the apples and turn heat down  and allow to simmer.  Cook the apples for 15minutes, until the apples are tender and the sauce has reduced by half.  Spoon out the apples and reserve in a large bowl.  Allow the mixture to keep cooking.  
  2. Meanwhile preheat oven to 425 and press the crust into a 12in pie pan.  Cook the crust for 7minutes and then remove from oven.  Spoon in the apples and toss on the blueberries.  Pour 1/4 cup of the apple sauce over the mixture.  Reserve the rest  for later.  Bake Pie for 10minutes.
  3. While the pie mix the butter with the flour, brown sugar, and cloves until mixture has a texture similar to large breadcrumbs.  Remove pie from oven and top with the streusel mixture before returning to the oven to cook for a final 25minutes or until crust is brown and mixture is bubbly.  Serve warm, and topped with the apple sauce!
I love simple recipes and more than that I love recipes that taste like their ingredients.  While this pie could be done with more sugar or other seasonings but there is something about an apple pie that tastes like apples.

Drifting Away

Green Bean Bean Salad

I have finally harvested my two first tomatoes, that is if two tomatoes can be considered a harvest.  I also noticed three eggplant blossoms so maybe there is still hope of homegrown eggplant after all!  I have a few ideas for how to improve things for next year, which will essentially turn my front flower beds into vegetable gardens.  I still haven’t decided what all I will plant but I’m hoping that my little groundhog friend will stay away.

One of the things I’m debating are the addition of green beans.  They are probably my favorite vegetable and I love how many different ways they can be prepared, from blanched to steamed, to a simple stir fry they are essentially the perfect vegetable.  My only problem if figuring out where to put them since they need full sun.  It seems more and more likely that I’ll need to expand the garden around the side of my house.  All of which is perfectly doable, just have to find the time to tame the beast that is my side yard.

This recipe is one of the many reasons why I would love to have my own green beans, not only is this salad amazing warm it’s only great the next day straight from the fridge.  This salad is basically a hodge-podge of many salads all thrown together to create a master salad.

Ingredients: (serves 4-5)

  • 1 lb green beans, ends trimmed and in 3in pieces
  • 1 1/2 lbs baby red potatoes, halved
  • 1 can cannellini beans, rinsed/drained
  • 1/2 vidalia onion, chopped
  • 1 7oz can tuna (dolphin/sea turtle safe) (optional)
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely diced
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 4 basil leaves, finely chopped
  • 1/4 tsp salt/pepper
Directions:
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and the potatoes, cooking for 10minutes or until potatoes are just tender.  Remove the potatoes, set aside, and then add the green beans to the boiling water.  Cook the green beans for about 5minutes, then drain rinse and pour into a large bowl.  
  2. In a small bowl mix together the garlic, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar.  Set Aside
  3. Add the white beans, onion, cooked potatoes, and tuna to the green beans.  Mix well and then add the dressing.  Add the basil, salt/pepper, and toss.  Season to taste as needed with additional salt/pepper.   Serve!

This dish can easily become a vegan dish by dropping the tuna and adding some more beans or some extra firmed tofu.  This salad also goes great inside a pita, just break the potatoes up into smaller pieces before stuffing the pita.  

Certain Company

Pasta with Pepper Sauce

Every now and then I see something that I never thought I would see.  Yesterday I was fortunate enough to come across a modern troubadour walking down the trail.  Strumming his guitar and serenading everyone he walked by he scared the daylights out of our one puppy while bringing a smile to my face.  There was just something soothing about it, made me feel like I was living in Stars Hollow for a hot second.

In other news I think I have figured out my tomato bandit.  Coming home from work today I almost ran over a very large groundhog while pulling on to my street.  Why he is going for the green ones and not the gorgeous red ones, still not sure but hopefully he will find a new garden to terrorize in the coming days.

This recipe is perfect for this time of year, when tomatoes are nice and juicy and peppers are starting to peak.  The perfect sauce for a simple summer supper that comes straight from the garden.

Ingredients (serves 4-5)

  • 1 tbsp EVOO
  • 4 bell peppers (mixing colors is encouraged), diced
  • 4 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, diced
  • 1/2 vidalia onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tbsp oregano, finely chopped
  • 1 lb favorite pasta
  • 1/4 cup fresh grated Parmesan Cheese (optional)
Directions
  1. Meanwhile cook the pasta according to the directions on the box.  Drain and return to pot.
  2. Pour the sauce over the pasta toss well and top with the freshly grated cheese.  Serve hot with fresh Italian Bread.
For a richer tasting sauce this can also be done in a slow cooker.  Add all of the sauce ingredient to the slow cooker and cook on low for 6 hrs, or high for 2hrs.

Our House

Potato Salad

This past week has been totally surreal and I feel like I need a week long vacation to recover from everything.  There were lows and highs and lots of people and even more food.  I now have a lot more respect for the ladies of the yellow rose who did an amazing job this past Thursday, and are just truly wonderful women.  One of these ladies did an amazing bruchetta and my new mission is to figure out who made it so that I can find out what was in it.  I promise that once I get the recipe I will share it because this was easily the best bruchetta I have ever had.  While I wasn’t allowed to bring a potluck to Thursday’s event I was able to bring something to the picnic potluck this past Saturday for Joe’s family.  I actually wound up bringing three items: Berry Basil Muffins, Strawberry Banana Bread, and my mom’s Potato Salad.  I have always taken her potato salad for granted, and it wasn’t until someone asked me for the recipe that I realized it wasn’t written down anywhere.  So to make sure that doesn’t happen I am sharing it with the internet so that I can insure it will always been around.

Ingredients: (serves 6-8)

  • 2.5 lbs white or butter potatoes, halved
  • 4 eggs, hard-boiled
  • 1 vidalia onion, chopped
  • 2 tbsp yellow mustard
  • 1/2 cup olive oil based mayo
  • 1 tbsp pickle juice
  • 1/2 tbsp paprika
Directions:
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the potatoes.  Cook the potatoes until they are tender, then drain and rinse with cold water before placing in a large bowl.
  2. Add the eggs and onion to the potatoes then mix in the mustard, mayo, and pickle juice.  Season to taste with salt/pepper and if needed add more mustard/mayo to taste.  Add the paprika, stir and then cover.  Place in fridge to chill for at least two hours.  Serve and Enjoy!  
If it lasts that long this salad is also great the next day, just add some more paprika.  I have also been told that Old Bay also goes well with this but since I’m not a fan I can’t really comment.