Growing Out On A Limb


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Peach & Pesto Pizza

This isn’t so much a recipe as it is a combination of flavors that I want to remember.  Forever.  And ever.

The first time I made this I had thawed puff pastry in the fridge that needed to be used that night.  I told hubby I was thinking pizza and along came this link for peach and pesto pizza.  I thought he was crazy for suggesting the combo but I had a basket of peaches, I always have pesto on hand, and there was fresh mozza screaming to be used so hey… why not?

The only problem with that first one, believe it or not, was that I didn’t use enough peaches!  So I loaded them on the second time around and swapped the puff pastry for homemade dough.  I also add a bit of red onion.  Yum!

Seriously… this is so good that I’m actually sad peach season is over so I can’t make it three times a week!

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Jill’s Kick-Ass Sweet Dill Pickles

That’s what I called these pickles on my recipe card and I’m sticking with it! 

Hubby pretty much insisted that I get this recipe from our friend Jill after sampling a bottle of pickles that she dropped off.  I love dill pickles anyway but these have a sweetness to them that make them extra special. 

And the best part of these is that you don’t have to work for hours at a time to make a huge batch of pickles.  You mix up the brine, leave it in the fridge, and make up the bottles as the cucumbers come ready.  It is just so much more feasible for a busy mom. 

INGREDIENTS

3 cups apple cider vinegar

3 cups white sugar

1/2 cup (scant) coarse salt

1 tsp turmeric

Pinch alum

 

DIRECTIONS

Bring vinegar, sugar, and salt to a boil.  Boil for one minute then leave to cool. 

Once cool, add turmeric and alum.  Refrigerate overnight. 

Leave in fridge and use as cucumbers are ready. 

Pack fresh dill in the bottom of the jar.  Pack cucumbers tightly.  Add more fresh dill. 

Refrigerate at least three weeks.


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Stewed Rhubarb

This is just a simple recipe I found for stewed rhubarb.  Nothing fancy… just rhubarb, some sugar to cut the tartness, and a bit of water to get things cooking.  The proportions are right for my tastes though, so I wanted a record of it.

I love stewed rhubarb on toast.  Or on my spoon.

 

INGREDIENTS

6 cups rhubarb, cut to 1/2-inch pieces

1 cup granulated sugar

2 Tbsp water

DIRECTIONS

Combine all ingredients in a large pot on medium heat.  Cook, stirring frequently, until sugar is dissolved.

Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until rhubarb is soft.  About 15 minutes.

 


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Sweet Potato Fries

I think we finally have this right. 

Cooking the best sweet potato fries at home is not about the recipe but about the method.  The issue is the flipping – they do fine until you need to turn them or get them off the pan.  Suddenly they’re a big mushy mess and don’t finish cooking properly. 

The solution is a bit more time consuming but definitely worth it:  The potatoes are laid out on a cooling rack so they can cook on both sides at the same time (thus no need to flip).  That’s it!  So simple and obvious that you just want to groan for all the sweet potato mush you’ve eaten before! 

And there are lots of options for spices.  We like a roasted garlic and peppers spice mixture but we’ve also tried chinese five spice.  For a sweeter spin, use cinnamon alone or mixed with a bit of sugar. 

1.  Slice sweet potatoes into fries that are about the same size. 

2.  Toss potatoes in a bit of vegetable oil, just to coat, and spices.  (I like to do this well ahead of time so I’m not rushed at supper.  I put everything in a large plastic bag, squish it around, and store in the refrigerator until I’m ready). 

3.  Cover a baking sheet in foil.  Place a metal cooling rack on top.  Place the sweet potatoes on the rack so they aren’t touching each other.  I can usually fit the fries from two good-sized potatoes on one rack. 

4.  Bake at 450 degrees until they’re starting to brown and can be pierced with a fork. 


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Falafel

I bought those boxes of add-your-own-water falafel mix for a long time.  They were yummy but when I realized how easy it is to make my own, I never looked back!  I make falafel about once a month but Hubby and I agree I could make it more. 

We love them tucked into a pita with lettuce, tomato, and tzatziki sauce.  Oliver likes them too (for him I use the little pita wedges you see in the pictures), which I think is awesome. 

INGREDIENTS

19-oz can chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans)

1 small onion, chopped

3 or 4 garlic cloves

2 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped (or a tablespoon of dried)

2 Tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped (or a tablespoon of dried)

1 1/2 tsp cumin

1/4 tsp salt

pinch dried chili flakes

1/4 cup flour

1 tsp baking powder

DIRECTIONS

Put the first eight ingredients in a food processer; pulse until combined but not yet smooth.  Add flour and baking powder; pulse until mixture is soft and can be rolled into little balls without sticking much to the hands.  Add more flour if necessary. 

Roll into meatball-sized balls.  Flatten into patties if desired.  I have found patties easier to fry and easier to tuck into a pita. 

Heat a bit of oil and fry on each side until golden.  I sometimes have to add some more oil between batches. 

Tuck them in a pita with some tzatziki sauce, lettuce, tomato, and munch away!


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Caramelized Tofu

Let me say this:  If you’re on the fence about tofu, this is an excellent place to start.  The recipe is from here, 101cookbooks.com.  I watch this site carefully and love the natural, organic feel of her recipes, not to mention the tips and tricks on vegetarian cooking. 

This is so easy and quick to prepare!  I originally served the tofu on gently sauteed spinach, as the author suggested, in place of the brussel sprouts.  The spinach was a pretty strong flavor there so I definitely intend on trying it again on the sprouts to see how it compares.  (The photos here show the tofu served on mushroom rice, which was really yummy as well). 

INGREDIENTS

1 pkg extra-firm tofu, cut into thin 1-inch segments

sea salt

olive or peanut oil

2 medium cloves garlic, minced

1/3 cups pecans, toasted and chopped

3 tbsp brown sugar

1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

1/2 lb brussel sprouts, washed and cut into 1/8-inch strips (or a few handles of spinach, cut into strips)

DIRECTIONS

Cook the tofu in a large hot skillet with a bit of sea salt and oil.  Saute until slightly golden (mine took 8 or 10 minutes). 

Add the garlic and pecans and cook for another minute or so. 

Stir in sugar and cook another couple of minutes.  Set aside. 

In the same pan, add a bit more oil and turn heat up to medium-high.  Add the brussel sprouts and cook 2 or 3 minutes, until there are golden bits.  (For spinach, I didn’t need any more oil and just cooked until it was slightly wilted). 

Yummy! 


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Tofu and Vegetable Pot Pie

When I’m talking food, people often ask me if Brian is also a vegetarian.  Most times I joke, “Not by choice” but the truth is that he’s fine with having several vegetarian meals through the week. 

So I’m always looking for vegetarian recipes that will satisfy all of us and have had this recipe at the kitchn in the “to try” bucket for a while.  It didn’t disappoint Brian or I… or Oliver, for that matter.  We all lapped it right up. 

The only change I made with with the nutritional yeast.  I didn’t have it and my small-town grocery store doesn’t carry it so, after a little research, I substituted a little grated parmesan instead. 

I made the filling ahead of time and just threw the crust together before baking… super convenient. 

INGREDIENTS

~ Filling ~

8 oz extra firm tofu

3 Tbsp olive oil, divided

1 small yellow onion, diced

1 celery rib, diced

1 carrot, diced

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 potato, diced

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 tsp nutritional yeast (I substituted parmesan)

2 Tbsp soy sauce

1 1/4 cups vegetable broth

1/2 cup fresh or frozen peas

1 tsp sage (I used about 1/2 tsp dried sage)

1 tsp thyme leaves

Salt and pepper

~ Crust (chill ingredients prior to mixing) ~

1 cup + 2 Tbsp flour

1/2 cup butter

Ice water

  

DIRECTIONS

For filling

Cut tofu into a 1/3-inch dice and press between paper or dish towels to get rid of excess water.  Heat 1 Tbsp of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat until golden.  Remove from skillet and set aside. 

Heat remaining 2 Tbsp oil and add onion, celery, carrot, and garlic.  Saute until onion is translucent. 

Add potato to skillet and cook until tender but not mushy. 

Add flour, nutritional yeast (or parmesan), and soy sauce to skllet and stir into vegetables. 

Add broth and stir until combined, scraping the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. 

Add tofu, peas, sage, and thyme and stir just until combined. 

Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper. 

For the crust

Chill ingredients and tools in freezer prior to preparing the crust. 

Cut butter into small bits and add to flour.  Cut butter into flour until it resembles coarse meal.  Gradually add ice water into bowl, mixing until dough just comes together. 

Quickly shape into a ball and flatten into a disk.  Place on a floured surface and roll out to fit dishes. 

To assemble

The original author used two ramekins but I didn’t have the right size so used a 9″ square casserole dish.  Whatever dish you use, roll out and cut the crust accordingly. 

Put vegetable mixture into dish.  Cover with crust, rolling under the edges to form a thicker edge.  Seal around the edges and cut a slit in the middle. 

Bake in a 400 degree oven until golden and bubbling, about 30 minutes.