Saturday, August 28, 2010

Bulgur, Mint, and Parlsey Salad

When I saw the large bunch of flat leaf parsley in the produce box I knew tabbouleh was in our future. Nutty bulgur, tart lemon, cool cucumbers and tomatoes--love it!

The Husband made this dish, so no prep photos today.

The flavor blends and intensifies the longer it sits, so make it a few hours ahead of time if you can. It was near divine when I scarfed down the leftovers the next day.

Recipe below; printable version here.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Chili in Grilled Zucchini Boats

Yesterday was too dreadfully hot to think about cooking, so we fired up the grill and tried something new. These are officially chili-stuffed zucchini, but we thought it was much more interesting to dub them zucchini boats.

Halve zucchini lengthwise and scoop out
the centers
Salt and pepper, then brush with garlic
and olive oil
The recipe has you make up a very basic mix of beans, cheese, cilantro and salsa, but you could substitute leftover chili for an even faster prep. I'll add a pinch of cumin or chili pepper the next time around.

The Boy declared that it was the only recipe I've ever made that he liked. I decided to accept the compliment without comment!

Recipe below; printable version here.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Pacific Northwest Chili

We've dubbed this dish Pacific Northwest chili because it includes an item held in great esteem by many in these parts: beer. Also because all the veggies in it are grown around here (and are in season right now). But mostly the beer.

We tried this out when we were looking for vegetarian recipes to add to our repertoire, but it's become our favorite chili recipe.  It is simply amazing in the summer when the ingredients are all fresh.

Recipe below; printable version here.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Dairy-Free Zucchini Bread

I've been experimenting with coconut oil in my baking lately as a substitute for butter and shortening. It's naturally dairy-free and avoids the trans-fats in margarine. And--I was happy to discover--doesn't seem to make everything taste like coconut.

On a side note, we always have unrefined coconut oil in the house because I regularly use it to moisturize my daughter's super curly hair. I'm not sure what seems odder to me: that I use a food item on her hair, or that I cook with a hair product.

This is a basic zucchini bread using coconut oil, with a little whole wheat pastry flour slipped in for that whole grain goodness. Best enjoyed on the deck in the morning sun with a cup of good coffee.

Recipe below; printable version here.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

We're on vacation at the moment. Playing in the sand, spending time with family, and enjoying chocolate zucchini cake.

Why, Heather, you might be saying. That cake looks a little mussed. Like the top third completely separated from the rest of the cake and was plopped back on in a rush.

Eh, maybe. I refuse to admit anything. But it's vacation time and the cake still tastes great (the mix of cinnamon and cocoa is to die for).

Visit Simply Recipes for the recipe!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Dairy-Free Pesto

I think pesto is pretty close to perfection. So I embraced this dairy-free pesto recipe pretty much the minute I tasted it, since it meant we wouldn't have to kick pesto out of our meals for The Girl's sake. Not quite as rich as regular pesto, it still has that sublime flavor mix of basil, garlic and pinenuts. With no olive oil and no cheese involved, the recipe triples as a low-fat pesto recipe and vegan pesto recipe.

The equation begins, of course, with basil.

One cup firmly packed basil leaves +

one cup tomatoes +
one clove minced garlic +
one tablespoon toasted pinenuts +
one-half teaspoon salt
Blend it all together in a food processor or blender, and you're done! I make up several batches when basil and tomatoes abound in the summer and freeze it in one-cup portions.

Recipe below.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Bee-bim Bop

This is Swiss chard.

It is not, as I mistakenly believed last year, rhubarb. Although, in my defense, rhubarb looks suspiciously like Swiss chard. The purple stalks! The broad green leaves!

Thinking it was rhubarb, one year ago I tossed the (perfectly edible!) leaves and used the stalks to make "rhubarb" crisp. Which tasted like it was made from celery. Ugh.

Aside from learning what chard actually looks like, the most useful thing I've learned about it since then is that its leaves can be substituted for spinach in pretty much any recipe. It's not too tough and  has a very mild flavor.

We used some of our first chard of this summer in bee-bim bop. I always enjoy this meal, even with all the pots and pans it dirties.

Believe it or not, this recipe came from a children's book.  One day The Boy picked up Bee-Bim Bop! by Linda Sue Park at the library. It's a bouncy, rhyming tale of a little girl happily helping make her family's dinner of bee-bim bop (which the book translates as "mix-mix bowl"), a Korean mixed dish of marinated beef, vegetables and fried egg.

A recipe follows the story, with instructions divided up for "you" (the child" and the "grown-up". After many, many readings of the book, The Boy was excited to taste bee-bim bop himself. It was a huge success! Love the marinade for the meat.

It is a time-consuming, multi-pan recipe. And I make no claims that I'm doing authentic Korean cooking here. But bee-bim bop has easily slipped its way into our regular stable of meals.

Recipe below; printable version here. Check out the book for a kid-inclusive version!

Photo credit (rhubarb): Sandy Austin

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Urban harvesting

One balmy evening last week my family joined 200 neighbors for some urban harvesting.

Urban harvesting tries to make sure none of the edible plants dotting cities go to waste. So many folks have the old row of apple trees or such that goes unpicked each year. A local group started up a brand new program in our town modeled after this one in Portland; owners of fruit or nut plants register their trees and vines with the organization. At harvest time, a group of volunteers meets for a picking party. You take home half of what you pick. The other half goes to a local food bank or soup kitchen.

It could be as simple as someone with a single cherry tree in their yard they know won't be harvesting themselves. On the day we participated it was hundreds of gorgeous old, organic blueberry bushes that for whatever reason aren't being used commercially right now.

It was a perfect summer evening. The late-day sun slanted across the field, kids popped berries into their mouths when they thought parents weren't looking, lighthearted laughter came from between the rows. We were pushing up against The Girl's bedtime, so we left fairly early after doing our little bit by picking seven pounds. Lots of the other pickers at the harvest party were still diligently picking as we drove away.  And when the evening was done, over 1,000 pounds of fresh blueberries went to our local food bank, the other 1,000 went home with the satisfied harvesters, and all of it was kept from going to waste. Truly win-win-win.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Black Bean, Corn, and Zucchini Enchiladas

I love enchiladas. Mmmmm. This Cooking Light recipe revamps them up for summer, incorporating seasonal veggies and lightening them up without sacrificing their warm, saucy goodness.

The inside is a mixture of zucchini, corn and black beans, sprinkled with shredded cheese and wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla.

Little bundles of tastiness!

The recipe includes instructions for making a homemade sauce. It is veeerrrry tempting to sub in the handy dandy can of enchilada sauce from the grocery store. But resist. The veggie filling is fairly bland--a sort of fresh, healthy base--and it's the sauce that really makes the flavor of the dish. And, other than the half-hour it simmers on the stovetop, the sauce goes together quite quickly--and can be made up to three days ahead.

Recipe below; printable version here.

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