Thursday, October 31, 2013

Quinoa Portabello Burgers

Last weekend, my family took a weekend trip out to Oregon. We've constructed a Top 10 Out-West Bucket List, and were able to check two off that list. We had only planned to attend an Oregon Ducks Football game, but when the game time was changed from 1pm to 7pm, we had a whole day to fill. We left Friday afternoon and drove to Bend, OR, a beautiful town in central Oregon, just to the east of the Cascade Mountain Range. Oregon is known for it's breweries, so I looked online for one that had both great beer and food, and I chose Deschutes Brew Pub.

We had a seriously delicious meal that began with a soft pretzel with mustard/beer cheese dip, a winning combination. I had a pint of the Jubeleale, the spicy amber Christmas beer, which was great. For my entree, I ordered off the specials menu, something I rarely do. There was a black bean burger on the regular menu, but the Quinoa Portabello Burger special caught my eye. The burger was full of mushroom flavor, and it held together surprisingly well considering quinoa can be crumbly. There was a melted Havarti cheese on top, with a smear of garlic aioli and baby arugula tossed in a balsamic vinaigrette, red onion and tomato perfectly topped the burger. Both JJ and I would absolutely go back and try everything else on the menu!

Quinoa Portabello Burgers
adapted from Deschutes Brew Pub

1 c. quinoa, rinsed
2 c. vegetable stock
1 tbsp. butter
2 portabello caps, wiped and gills removed. chopped
1 small yellow onion, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
Kosher salt and black pepper
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1 egg
1/4 c. breadcrumbs (I used oat flour)

Four ciabatta rolls
4 oz. Havarti cheese
4 tomato slices
1 oz. baby arugula tossed with 2 tbsp. balsamic vinaigrette 
Garlic aioli (or mayo mixed with 1 grated garlic clove)

Bring the vegetable stock to a boil in a small pot, add quinoa, cover and turn to simmer.
Cook for 15-20 minutes, until water is absorbed and quinoa has sprouted its tail. 
Heat a skillet over medium, melt butter, add mushrooms, onion and garlic, saute' for 10 minutes, until vegetables begin to caramelize and moisture has cooked out.
Add balsamic vinegar, turn heat off and stir to deglaze pan.
Add quinoa, mushroom mixture, salt, pepper, thyme, egg and breadcrumbs to a bowl, mix well and place in the refrigerator for an hour.
Heat oven to 400*
Spray a cookie sheet with nonstick spray.
Form burgers into 4 equal sized patties (I used a 3/4 c. measuring cup) and place on baking sheet.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, until outside is brown and crisp and inside is cooked through.
Place cheese over burger to melt. 
Place burger on a bun, top with tomato, arugula and garlic aioli

Some photos from our weekend, beautiful Crater Lake where Violet saw snow for the first time, and the Oregon Ducks game! 

Stop by tomorrow for a give-away, I picked up a few things to share on our trip at a very special place!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Manchego-Almond Brussels Sprouts

Get your tiny violin ready, because I'm about to get a pity party started. For the past 27 years, I've spent my absolute favorite holiday with my family, Thanksgiving! It's the one holiday that we all make it home for, it's filled with traditions and it's always such a good time. On Wednesday, I go with my Dad to pick up the race bibs, then bake all of the desserts for Thanksgiving, on Thursday, the whole family runs the Cincinnati T-day 10k race through downtown, then we have close family friends over for dinner, and watch football, Friday we go cut our Christmas tree, and I spend time with friends who are also in town for the holiday, Saturday we decorate the tree and watch the rivalry games - Ohio State vs. Michigan and FSU vs. Florida. It's probably my favorite week of the entire year. And this year, we won't be there. ::Tears::

Hopefully this will be our one and only immediate-family-only Thanksgiving ever. In order to make it a little less devastating, I am trying to focus on the positive, and recreate a Cincinnati T-day in Boise. For starters, we're going to run the Boise T-day 5k (but we might have to run an extra 5k to make it official), then we're going to Skype the family, watch football, and I'll be making my first ever total Thanksgiving dinner. One thing that has got me excited for that is the new Rachael Ray Everyday magazine issue. My awesome friend got a subscription for me, and this month's issue blew me away. I've been drooling over the Thanksgiving section, and plan to make a few of the sides in advance to help narrow down exactly what we'll be eating on November 28.

A few weeks ago, we took a fun trip that I'll post about soon, and I was able to get a stalk of Brussels sprouts on the stalk - I was ecstatic, no, seriously. I chose to make this dish out of the Nov. Everyday issue, checking to see if it would be a Thanksgiving Day contender. Sadly, it wasn't my favorite Brussels sprouts preparation ever, but they were interesting. I've never had lemon with Brussels sprouts, and I'm not totally sure I liked it, I'm more of a balsamic and blue cheese fan, something earthy rather than bright and acidic. But I did love the almonds and manchego, so it wasn't a total loss.

***Come back on Thursday, October 31 for a fun Halloween giveaway***

Manchego-Almond Brussels Sprouts
from November 2013 Everyday Magazine

 2 lbs. Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
3 tbsp. vegetable oil
Salt and pepper
1/3 c. sliced almonds
1 lemon, zested and 1 tbsp. juice
1 oz. shaved manchego (I think I used closer to 2 oz.)

Preheat oven to 450*
Toss Brussels sprouts with oil, salt and pepper on a cookie sheet.
Roast for 10-15 minutes, then toss in almonds and roast for another 5-10 minutes, until sprouts begin to crisp and are tender.
Remove from oven and transfer to a bowl, toss with lemon juice and zest, shave in cheese and gently toss, serve immediately. 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Hominy and White Bean Chili

'Tis the season for chicken and white bean chili recipes to float around, am I right? I was searching for a vegetarian version of the popular dish, and found this recipe on the Cooking Light website. There are a few differences though, namely it's not a while chili, there is a broth base, not a creamy one. This recipe also calls for hominy, an interesting, different addition to chili, and finally, it has a bright, lighter flavor profile from the cilantro and fresh lime.

The only change I made to this recipe was omitting the field roast faux sausage/soy-chorizo it called for. I felt like the beans provided enough protein, and I'm doing my best to avoid most processed meat substitutes. Not only is it cheaper, but I feel better about the least processed ingredients as possible in our diet. Lastly, I also added some chopped yellow bell peppers, just because I had two one hand that needed to be used up asap. I think the only change I might make in the future, would be to add some chunks of avocado to the top, and a nice dollop of light sour cream (and un-veganize it).

Hominy and White Bean Chili
adapted from Cooking Light

4 c. cooked cannelini beans (or 2 15 oz. cans)
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 poblanos, seeded and diced
2 yellow bell peppers, seeded and diced
2 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 1/2 c. vegetable stock
1 tsp. dried oregano
2 tsp. hot sauce (we love Cholula)
1 15 oz. can hominy, drained

sliced green onion
chopped cilantro
lime wedges
avocado chunks
sour cream
shredded Monterrey Jack cheese

Heat a large Dutch oven over medium heat, add oil, bring to temperature.
Add onions, saute' for 3-4 minutes, until edges begin to brown, add garlic, poblanos and yellow bell peppers, saute' for another 5 minutes. 
Add chili powder and cumin, stir to toast spices, add vegetable stock, oregano, hot sauce and hominy. 
Add half of the beans to the pot, mash the remaining half with a fork, then add to the pot.
Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and cook for 20 minutes. 
If desired, add onion and cilantro to the pot, or reserve for topping.
Ladle chili into bowls, top with garnishes and serve immediately.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Pumpkin Soup with Brown Butter

I feel like I'm constantly on the hunt for Pumpkin soup that is flavorful and not full of cream. This soup was full of flavor, an assortment of vegetables, herbs, and just a dollop of creme fraiche and a swirl of brown butter, which added tremendous flavor. The only problem, once again, was the fact that I don't have my blender or food processor here in Boise, so I had to use canned pumpkin and leave my vegetables finely minced. In the future, I'd love to try it with a fresh baked pumpkin with sage.

I loved how this soup was completely savory, no hint of sweetness or even spices that remind you of sweet pumpkin (cinnamon, ginger) just a hint of fresh nutmeg at the end. I also am so glad that I have gotten over my fear of butter consumption. Funny, it never bothers me when I eat cookies, but excess butter in my food makes me feel like I'm over-indulging. However, I did cut back the amount from the recipe.

Pumpkin Soup with Brown Butter and Creme Fraiche

1 28 oz. can pumpkin puree
1 sprig of fresh sage leaves
4 tbsp. butter
1 leek, white and green parts, finely minced
2 carrots, peeled and finely minced
2 shallots, finely minced
1 small yellow onion, finely minced
6 garlic cloves, finely minced
6 c. vegetable stock
1 bouquet garni (4 parsley sprigs, 4 thyme sprigs, 1 bay leaf, tied in cheesecloth)
1/2 c. creme fraiche
Freshly grated nutmeg, for serving
Kosher salt and black pepper

In a Dutch oven over medium heat, melt 2 tbsp. butter.
Add leek, carrots, shallots, onions, season with salt and pepper.
Cook, stirring often, until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.
Add garlic, stir and cook for about a minute.
Add the pumpkin puree, stock, bouquet garni, stir and taste, adjust seasonings.
Cover and simmer for 20 minutes, remove the bouquet garni.
Blend soup in batches, if desired.
Heat a small saucepan over medium-low heat, add 2 tbsp. butter, cook and swirl until butter begins to brown and smells nutty, about 3-4 minutes.
Ladle soup into bowls, top with a dollop of creme fraiche, swirl in a bit of the butter, and grate fresh nutmeg on top, serve immediately.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Moroccan-Spiced Vegetarian Chili

This recipe caught my eye as I perused the Williams-Sonoma recipe bank last week. It had all of the things I was looking for, spicy, warm, comforting, squash-filled and healthy! I love when a dish that is fulfilling is also healthy. The leftovers made for a delicious lunch the next day.

I made a few small changes from the original recipes, beginning with the initial steps. I don't have a blender here in Boise, so I used chili powder instead of making the chili-garlic puree. I also used golden raisins rather than prunes, personal preference, dried beans instead of canned, and quinoa as a base to soak up the spicy, tomato broth. I also topped the  chili with a dollop of green yogurt.

While I would consider this more of a stew than a chili, it was so perfectly balanced flavor-wise. Though it calls for 10 garlic cloves, it doesn't seem overpowered in the last bit, the spices are complimentary, and the sweet squash and fruit keep it from being too savory. This will definitely be a new go-to for our Sunday stews.

Moroccan-Spiced Vegetarian Chili

1 tbsp. EVOO
1 small yellow onion, chopped
6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 tbsp. ancho chili powder
1 1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 butternut squash, 1 1/2 lbs., peeled and cubed
2 c. cooked chickpeas
2 medium zucchini, cut in 1/2" dice
1/3 c. sliced apricots
1/3 c. golden raisins
2-3 c. vegetable stock

Heat a large Dutch oven over medium heat, add onions and sliced garlic.
Cook for 3-5 minutes, until they begin to caramelize on the edges.
Add chili powder, turmeric, cinnamon, cumin, coriader, stir well to toast seasonings. 
Add tomatoes and squash, turn heat to low, cover and cook squash for 15 minutes.
Add chickpeas, zucchini, apricots, raisins, stir well to combine, cover and cook for another 15 minutes. 
Taste, adjust seasonings, and add stock if stew is too thick. 
Serve over rice, quinoa, cous cous, or any other starch, top with a dollop of Greek yogurt. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Gruyere and Olive Tapenade Grilled Cheese

I've never been a huge grilled cheese fan, I find it to be too plain. I love sandwiches with a variety of flavors to balance each other out. A few years ago, it seemed like grilled cheese was becoming trendy, and I saw many varieties with tomato and bacon added. It sounded good, if you're a bacon eater, but I am not. I came across this recipe on the Cooking Light website, and it seemed like the perfect vegetarian take on the bacon and tomato version. The olive tapenade adds a delicious salty flavor, the gruyere is sharp and nutty, the fresh tomato adds acidity and texture, and the sun dried tomatoes add a sweetness that balances all of the other ingredients. We enjoyed this sandwich with soup for lunch, though it would also make a fantastic easy dinner.

Grilled Gruyere and Olive Tapenade Sandwiches
slightly adapted from Cooking Light, makes 2 sandwiches

4 slices of thick, multigrain bread
2 oz. shaved Gruyere cheese
1 beefsteak tomato, sliced
12 kalamata olives (I used 6 kalamata and 6 jumbo green olives)
6 sun dried tomato halves
1 garlic clove
1 tsp. butter or nonstick cooking spray

Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-low heat
Finely chop olives and sun dried tomatoes, add to a small dish, grate in garlic clove, toss to combine. 
Divide olive mixture in half between two pieces of bread, place in the skillet.
Top olive mixture with Gruyere cheese, then place 2 slices of tomato on each piece of bread.
Top each sandwich with a second slice of bread, then place a cover on the pan.
Cook for 2-3 minutes, until bread is toasted and slightly brown, gently flip and cook for another 2-3 minutes on the other side, until toasted.
Remove from the pan, slice in half and serve.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Tomato and Mozzarella Risotto

This past week, I did something that I haven't done in a few months, probably since we were living in Jacksonville. I went through some of my favorite websites and blogs (cookbooks are in storage, I'm really missing the Moosewood ones!) and printed out dozens of recipes and put them in a folder. On Friday, I went through the recipes and picked out six to make for dinner each night this week (we leave for a weekend trip on Friday!) It has been so nice to have a new variety of things, especially this risotto.

I made a few small changes from the original, a Cooking Light recipe, specifically adding some wine, using diced canned tomatoes, and a grate of Parmesan to finish the dish.  The flavors were delicious, basically a caprese salad, but warm and comforting, a nice way to taste the best flavors of summer in the cooling fall weather!

Tomato and Mozzarella Risotto

1 tsp. butter
1 tsp. olive oil
1/2 small yellow onion, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 c. arborio rice
1/4 c. dry white wine
1 c. canned, diced tomatoes
3 c. vegetable stock, warmed
2 c. fresh baby spinach leaves
1 dozen basil leaves, roughly chopped
2 oz. fresh mozzarella, chopped
1 oz. fresh grated parmesan cheese
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste

Heat a shallow skillet over medium heat.
Add butter and olive oil, melt together, then add onion and garlic, saute for 5 minutes.
Add rice, stir to gently toast for 2 minutes.
Add white wine, when liquid has reduced to half, add tomatoes and about 1/2 c. stock.
Once stock is absorbed, add another 1/2 c., continuing to stir rice every minute or two and adding more stock, as needed.
After about 20 minutes of adding stock and stirring risotto, turn heat off.
Fold in spinach and basil leaves, then add mozzarella and parmesan and gently fold.
Taste and add more salt, if necessary, it might be salty enough, season with black pepper.
Serve immediately.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Baked Quinoa with Zucchini, Corn and Basil

As I was perusing Williams-Sonoma's recipes last week for some dinner ideas, I came across this Baked Penne with Corn, Zucchini and Basil. It was the perfect way to marry the fleeting summer produce with a warm, wintery recipe. Because there was no real vegetarian protein, and already starch from corn, I substituted quinoa for the pasta. I also used canned, diced tomatoes rather than fresh, just because I had them on hand.

This is another great casserole meal to keep in mind for freezer stocking, baby/sick meals, or just something warm, hearty and healthy to cook for your own family! Now please excuse me while I go huddle in the corner with my space heater, we had our first frost last night.

Baked Quinoa with Zucchini, Corn and Basil

1 c. quinoa, rinsed well
3 c. vegetable stock
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 ears of corn, kernels cut off
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 medium zucchini, sliced into half moons
1/4 c. dry white wine
1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes
12 large basil leave, torn
2 tbsp. grated parmesan cheese
1 c. shredded mozzarella cheese

Bring vegetable stock to a boil in a stock pot, add quinoa, turn heat to low and cover, cook for 15 minutes.
While quinoa cooks, heat a large skillet over medium heat, add olive oil and corn kernels, saute for 5 minutes, then add onion, garlic and zucchini.
Season with salt and pepper, and continue to saute for another 10 minutes, until vegetables are softened and beginning to brown a bit.
Add white wine, scrape bits off the bottom of the pan, when wine has evaporated for the most part, add diced tomatoes, and turn heat off.
Preheat oven to 400*
Fluff quinoa with a fork, then add to the skillet with vegetables, gently mix, then add torn basil leaves and gently mix once more.
Transfer to a casserole dish, sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.
Top with parmesan and mozzarella in a layer on top.
Place in the oven, and bake for 15-25 minutes, until cheese are beginning to brown and crisp.
Serve immediately.