Busy Times = Quick Dinners

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Almond Flour Crusted Tilapia is tonight’s quick dinner.

With our two kids birthdays, Thanksgiving, Hanukah and Christmas all within a month, it’s been non-stop lately.

This dinner comes together in about 20 minutes. Any white fish filet works well.
I like the Almond flour for it’s added dose of Vitamin E, Magnesium, Protein and Iron. Not to mention the fabulous flavor and texture.

Dust fish on both sides with sea salt and pepper and then Almond flour.
Pan sear in olive oil, about 4 minutes a side, covered. Top with Sriracha Aioli.
(Sriracha and light mayo in my house)

I’m serving it tonight with some black beans and brown rice I had made up yesterday. Baby greens salad for the adults and avocado chunks for the kids.
GOYA Adobo with Cumin is my quick all purpose spice for rice and beans.
Happy Holidays! I hope to find time to post some holiday foods soon.

Election Night Quick Pickles

They were ready just in time to make an interesting relish tray for our Thanksgiving dinner. Election night 2012, I was so nervous I couldn’t sit still and chopping vegetables always relaxes me.
In my vegetable drawer were some inglorious rutabaga and some candy stripped beets that weren’t getting any younger.
I pulled out the mandolin, sliced up each and then contemplated them in their individual bowls.
The rutabaga I decided needed to be adventurous so I sliced up some ginger and garlic and added it.
The beets got garlic and some leftover fresh thyme, and everything packed into wide month jars.
Then I set about to make my brine for both.

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My basic formula is half cider vinegar, half water.
First briefly toast some whole coriander and pepper corns in your pot. Add about 2 cups vinegar and 2 cups water and about 1/4 cup salt and 1/4-1/2 cup sugar, and a bay leaf. This is for about 4, 16oz jars full.
I then added some Ethiopian Berbere Spice blend for kick. Bring to gentle boil to dissolve sugar and salt.
Pour into jars until vegetables are fully covered and then boil water process the sealed jars for 10 minutes.
Pickles can be eaten in 2-3 weeks but do get better with some age. If you don’t want to bother with the water processing, just keep them in your frig.

Use What you Gotta Frittata

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When I had my restaurant our quiche of the day was one of our most popular lunches. It worked out well for everyone, as that was where all the unused prepped vegetables from the night before ended up. My formula was always non- traditional with the egg mostly a binder to hold a ton of vegetables and some cheese together. I often use fresh herbs or spices too, it’s still my go-to at home for using up vegetable sides.

Before writing this I happen to Wikipedia Frittata up make sure I had the proper amount of t’s. Turns out the crustless dish I make at home is more akin to the Middle Eastern dishes Eggah and Kuku. Needless to say, anything cut into triangles seems to be a hit with my family. Leftover leftovers are great breakfast sandwiches as well! This at least serves 4-6 with some salad and bread. I made in 8×8 glass casserole.
For this one: oven to 375*
6-8 eggs depending on egg size
1 cup skim milk
About 1 cup leftover baked acorn squash
1 cup roasted w/ olive oil, S&P, celery root cubes
About 2/3 cup braised collards w/garlic
4 Slices of Muenster cheese
Beat eggs, add milk and beat till really frothy, add squash and mix well.
Then stir in collards and celery root.
Pour in pan and place sliced cheese on top. Bake for 45 minutes or until knife comes out clean from center.
Please, by all means improvise ! love to hear about crazy combos .

Gifts from the Garden!

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These two little gems were volunteers in the container garden in our parking spot. After the zucchinis died back, I noticed this new little vine growing and recognized it as melon. The seeds must have come in from our basement worm composter fertilizer. Well they were not going to have time to ripen.
So I picked them to see what we got.
Wow were they delicious ! I pealed them and they had the texture and crunch of a cucumber and the slight hint of sweet watermelon flavor . It was wonderful in a salad. I might do this on purpose next year.

Lamb and Leek Corn Chowder

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Lamb Stock, ummm lamb stock. The wonderful byproduct of a rich and special meal.
For this wonderful soup of leftovers I cut the kernels off the cobs of grilled corn and set it aside. We had 6 cobs left because everyone was so full they couldn’t even touch the corn. Then the cobs and shoulder bones went into a 8 quart pot with water, bay leaf and a little salt. There they simmered for several hours until any remaining meat had totally left the bone.
While that warmed the house with wonderful aromas, I browned some mirepoix. (equal parts diced carrots, celery and onion) Set that aside and then diced and sautéed my leeks. It was the beautiful bunch of leeks that came in my Enterprise Farm CSA, that inspired this recipe.
After straining my stock, I threw in about 1/3 of the reserved corn kernels, the mirepoix, a few pealed and cubed potatoes and a few cloves of smashed garlic, simmered till potatoes cooked through. The stick blender went to work making a beautiful purée and the reserved corn kernel and leeks went in. I finished with milk, but use cream if you like for a rich treat. Salt and cracked pepper at the end.

Autumn Grilled Lamb Roast

The end of the season BBQ is bitter sweet. Bitter because we love to cook outside, but not so much when it’s not comfortable. Sweet because we go back to long slow charcoal projects. The heat of summer makes us want to cook quick things on the gas grill.
I took the last of the half lamb we bought from Pygarus Farm in New Boston, NH out of the chest freezer and gave it a good rub down. If you want my rub and details about “indirect heat charcoal grilling” , see the post; “Where the Buffalo Roam”.
This was a bone-in shoulder roast and it was done in about an hour, I made a mop of beer, honey, garlic and kalamata olive juice.
This post really honors Food Day, as our whole dinner was from local farms.
We had roasted butternut squash and sweet potato cubes, and braised kale and tomatoes from our Enterprise Farm -Year Round CSA.
Also amazing huge sweet corn from Greaney’s Farm and Ice Cream stand, 114 in South Weare, NH.
Home of the ice cream eating chickens!
The kale was braised with caramelized onions and diced tomatoes, beer, diced kalamata olives and also some of the same potion I used for the mop.
Our Enterprise Farm share had contained a bunch of lovely leeks which inspired what I made with the leftovers. I’ll get to that in my next post.

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Green Macaroni & Cheese

If the clean plate club is any indication, I’ve found the magic formula for my girls quick dinner. This was my best “hide the vegetable” trick yet, easily made into a grown up gourmet version too.

The lowest sodium box version I’ve found is “Annie’s Bunny Pasta with Yummy Cheese”.
Then you need: A stick blender-

1 cup frozen organic spinach.
2 Tps Bob’s Red Mill fine Almond Flour ( great extra boost).
1/4 cup milk.
1/4 cup fresh grated parmesan.

Boil pasta until al dente.
Start spinach with some olive oil in small covered sauce pot. When spinach is defrosted add milk and grated cheese.
Stick blender on low heat until cheese melts, add cheese packet from Annie’s.
Add almond flour and stick blend until creamy.
Add cooked pasta to sauce- Arugula or watercress would be great sub for the spinach for a more exotic taste.
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Whole Wheat Soda Scones

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I love Irish Soda Bread. After making all this jam I was thinking about something simple I could make to serve with, and really highlight my jams. I came up with these mini scones and they are so EASY and perfect. Firm, but with a tender crumb, they would also be fantastic served with soup or stew. You could also add some raisins for “Spotted Dick” style soda bread.
I never have buttermilk when I want it so I do the buttermilk substitute of a Tablespoon of cider vinegar per cup of milk- let sit on counter for 10 minutes.
You need:
3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cup buttermilk or soured milk
To do: Oven to 425*
Cover cookie sheet with parchment
In large bowl whisk all dry ingredients.
Make a well in the center and add most of the sour/buttermilk .
Knead with one hand until evenly moist, leave enough milk to brush each scone with.
Transfer dough to floured surface, and very gently knead and shape to about an 8in round inch high oval.

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Cut lengthwise and then into triangles. I came out with 14 mini scones.
Place on sheet and brush with the milk, and dust with flour. Bake for 20 minutes or until nice and golden. You can do toothpick test too.
Try this for brunch sometime. It’s possibly the easiest thing to bake. You could also experiment: add dry herbs or dried chopped fruit and dust with sugar.

The Yam Lunch

I’m a big fan of the lite breakfast and lunch, so you can splurge a little for dinner, program. When eating alone, I often opt for something vegetarian. Around this time a year I’m sick of salads and I return to my old fav, The Red Garnet Yam. So totally satisfying, I end up doing this several days a week for a few months. The red garnet yam is the long skinny, thin skinned cousin of the sweet potato, and many other assorted varieties, I like it the best for eating whole. Because of its long skinny shape, it cooks quickly and evenly in the oven or microwave. The peel is very tender and tasty and that is where so much of the nutrients are. A great lunch to bring to work too. When I was in the office world I would leave a jar of salsa and a tub of hummus in the work frig for my almost daily yam.
Wash with a vegetable scrubber, wrap in a paper towel and then parchment paper and it’s ready to travel. Wet the paper towel, wrap back in parchment and microwave for 4-5 minutes when ready to eat. Split it down the middle and top with your favorite toppings- handful of greens, Greek yogurt and roasted red peppers, endless possibilities. My strange favorite is Green Mountain roasted garlic salsa and some hummus.
For a regular or toaster oven, wrap in parchment paper and then aluminum foil and about an hour at 425*.

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Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

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Finished here with a dollop of whole milk yogurt and a drizzle of White Truffle Honey. Truffle Honey is pretty easy to come by if you have a gourmet or specialty cheese store near you. I love it drizzled on a flatbread with caramelized onions, goat cheese and fresh arugula too.
For the soup:
A stick blender is my soup tool of choice all fall/winter.
Also unsweetened coconut milk and Madras Curry Powder are my favorites for this soup. Substitute as you like!
Cut a good size butternut squash in half and remove seeds. Oven to 350*
(you can clean the seeds and spice roast for garnishing the soup if you like)
Line a metal or glass roasting pan with parchment paper to prevent burning of the juices and oil.
Generously coat the inside of the squash with olive oil, enough so that some is dripping into roasting pan.
Toss about 6 cloves of garlic in oil and put in roasting pan also.
Roast until knife easily penetrates solid end of squash; 60-120 minutes if you get a giant squash! Let it cool a few minutes and then peel. Pour juices and oil from pan into soup pot, add your stock of choice. I like to make my own chicken stock and keep it frozen. Start simmering-
Purée with stick blender, add Madras Curry powder and about 2/3 cup coconut milk and purée again. Taste, and then add salt as the Madras Curry often includes salt. More time with the stick blender gives a velvet texture, but some like it more course. Finnish with yogurt and truffle honey right before serving. Sweet and spicy and earthy from the truffle. Yum.