Category Archives: Vegetables

simple spanakopita

I love small plates, family style dinners because they offer variety to suit all tastes, can easily be scaled up or down to accommodate unplanned dinner guests, and allow you to experiment with different recipes and cuisines. One of my favorite house dinners this past year was our Greek inspired night: spanakopita (spinach phyllo pie), avgolemono soup (greek chicken lemon soup), roasted eggplant dip, and toasted pita. The spanakopita looks super impressive but is simple to prepare with the help of olive oil spray, and I promise the phyllo dough isn’t as difficult to work with as everyone makes it out to be! It just takes a little bit of practice, like anything else. The spinach filling is jazzed up with the addition of feta and golden raisins, which give it a nice sweetness in contrast to the savory garlic and spinach. Other great additions to round out this meal include roasted eggplant dipmarinated peppers, celery and orange salad, spicy carrot salad and melon with honeyed yogurt, which all come from the June 2009 Everyday Food magazine!

simple spanakopita

Adapted from Martha Stewart

ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • olive oil cooking spray
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 packages (20 ounces each) baby spinach
  • 1 cup crumbled feta (4 ounces)
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins, chopped
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 20 sheets frozen phyllo dough (from an 8-ounce package), thawed and cut to 8 by 12 inches

directions:

In a medium pan, heat oil over medium-high. Add onion and cook until golden, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 minute. Transfer to a large bowl. Return pan to heat. Working in batches, cook spinach, tossing, until wilted, about 1 minute. Drain spinach and let cool. Press out excess moisture, then roughly chop. Add spinach, feta, and raisins to bowl with onion and season filling with salt and pepper. (To store, refrigerate, up to 2 days.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Unroll phyllo. Place 1 sheet on a work surface (keep remaining sheets covered with a damp kitchen towel to prevent drying); spray with oil. Lay another sheet on top and spray with oil. Repeat until you have 10 layers of phyllo.

Spread half of filling lengthwise down middle of phyllo stack.

Roll into a log, brushing the seam with oil before sealing.

Spray log with oil. Using a small sharp knife, make 8 diagonal cuts on top. Repeat with remaining phyllo and filling.

Place logs, seam side down, on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake until deep golden brown, 45 to 50 minutes. Cut into slices along slashes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

I served it with Avgolemono soup too: 

Bon Appetit!

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citrus salad, herbed quinoa and baked tilapia

I love to watch the food network while i’m running on the treadmill at the gym because i get absorbed in the show and before I know it, I’ve run for 30 minutes! Sometimes I get lucky and find inspiration for dinner. These recipes came from an episode of Giada that focused on light & healthy cooking. I made them for my housemates and they were a huge hit! The citrus salad has become a mainstay. Enjoy!

Caramelized Onion, Fennel and Grapefruit Salad

From Giada on the Food Network

Caramelized onions, fennel and grapefruit-what could be bad? This salad is light and refreshing, a nice fusion of sweet, crunchy and tart. It would be a great addition to a summer picnic.

From the Food Network

Ingredients

Caramelized onions:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 onions, very thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Dressing:

Salad:

  • 2 pink grapefruits
  • 1 head romaine lettuce, thinly sliced or torn into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 large fennel bulb, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 3 scallions, finely sliced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves

Directions:

For the caramelized onions: In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are deep golden brown, about 20 minutes. Set aside to cool, about 10 minutes.

For the dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together the red wine vinegar, lemon juice and honey. Slowly whisk in the olive oil until blended. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

For the salad: Peel and trim the ends from each grapefruit. Using a paring knife, cut along the membrane on both sides of each segment. Free the segments and add them to a large salad bowl. Add the lettuce, fennel, cucumber, scallions, and thyme.

Pour the dressing over the salad and toss until all the ingredients are coated. Arrange the caramelized onions on top and serve.

Herbed Quinoa

From Giada on the Food Network

Quinoa is a superfood and I try to incorporate it into my diet as often as possible. The fresh herbs add a wonderful fragrance and freshness, which really dresses up the quinoa. This is a great high protein side dish.

Ingredients:

Quinoa:

  • 2 3/4 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 cups quinoa

Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

For the quinoa: In a medium saucepan, add the chicken stock, lemon juice and quinoa. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover the pan and cook until all the liquid is absorbed, about 12 to 15 minutes.

For the dressing: In a small bowl, mix together the olive oil, lemon juice, basil, parsley, thyme, and lemon zest. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Pour the dressing over the quinoa and toss until all the ingredients are coated. Transfer the quinoa to a bowl. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and serve.

Baked Tilapia

Tilapia is a great inexpensive white fish that takes on whatever flavor you want to give it. We always have fillets in the freezer at my house which come in handy when i don’t have much time to prepare dinner. This fish is lemony and a little spicy and is ready in minutes!

Ingredients

  • 4 tilapia fillets (6 ounces each)
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted (margarine or butter substitutes work too)
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons capers, drained
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/8 teaspoon paprika

Directions

  • Place tilapia in an ungreased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish. In a small bowl, combine the butter, lemon juice, garlic powder and salt; pour over the fillets. Sprinkle with capers, oregano and paprika.
  • Bake, uncovered, at 425° for 10-15 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork.

These three recipes come together to make a light and delicious dinner that is equally impressive and easy!

pasta puttanesca

Hi friends,

I have a ton of new posts coming up for you as I have been cooking up a storm lately! Classes ended last Thursday, and what better way to procrastinate studying for finals then to cook? I have already had two 6 person dinner parties and countless late night dessert sessions. This is the Australian version of finals week and I like it.

Today I am sharing my delicious homemade puttanesca tomato sauce with you. I love that you can basically just throw anything you have in the fridge into the pan and come out with a hearty homemade sauce in about the time it takes to cook the pasta. The ingredients I show should only be a guide, as you can really use any vegetables you have/want. I paired it with whole wheat pasta because I like the healthy nutty flavor, but you can use any pasta you have in your pantry.

Puttanesca Sauce

Note: This recipe makes enough for 2 people, but you can easily double it if you are serving more, or if you want to freeze some for later.

Ingredients:
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, diced
1 zucchini, diced
10 mushrooms, chopped
handful of artichoke hearts (canned or marinated), chopped
1 tablespoon capers, rinsed
handful of kalamata olives, chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 can whole peeled tomatoes with juices, loosely chopped
Pinch cayenne pepper, and S/P

Directions:
Saute garlic and onion until they start to brown. Add zucchini and mushrooms until cooked through and wilting. Then add artichoke hearts, capers and olives and stir everything together. Add tomato paste, and stir to combine. Finally, add the canned tomatoes, breaking up the whole tomatoes with your hand or a knife. Add the cayenne pepper and seasonings, and let simmer for 10 minutes, or until your pasta is ready.

I served this with my favorite roasted asparagus and a glass of red wine.

Bon Appetit.

Cheers,
E

artichoke olive crostini

Artichoke olive crostini are another one of my favorite hor d’oeuvres that i’ve made multiple times and were a huge hit on new years eve.

They are so simple, only requiring a handful of ingredients and a food processor, yet they pack quite an intense bite.

I decided to make a bunch of baguette toasts (cut up regular and whole wheat baguettes, brushed with olive oil and baked in the oven for a few minutes), and then put out a variety of spreads: artichoke olive, bruschetta, spicy black bean, olive tapenade, and a garlic eggplant spread.

It worked perfectly for my cocktail party where everyone wanted easy food that they could eat with their hands, and it satisfied a variety of taste preferences.

Artichoke Olive Crostini courtesy of Smitten Kitchen

  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and smashed
  • 1 cup large green pitted olives (i couldn’t find canned green olives, so I got them at an olive bar from the supermarket)
  • 1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and drained
  • 1 15-ounce can of artichoke hearts, drained
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • slices of toasted baguette

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. In a food processor, process the garlic, olives, capers, artichoke hearts and olive oil to a coarse paste.

only 3 ingredients!

2. Toast the bread on the oven rack for 6 minutes, or until crisp and browned. Spread the olive paste thickly over the toasts and serve.

Note: If made ahead of time, just let it come to room temperature before serving.

Let me know what you think!

Also, here’s a picture of my coffee table spread from my party, hopefully it will inspire you to host a party of your own!

a range of cheeses, crackers, olives, cornichons, pepper crusted salami, and rice crackers.

 

upside down mushroom tartlets

Happy new year!!!

I hosted a new years eve party for some friends, and this was one of the appetizers I made. I tested these out a few weeks ago when I hosted a Cornell Gourmet Club event at my apartment and they were a huge hit! Savory and delicious, warm with a nice flaky puff pastry underneath.

These look really fancy and impressive, but are actually extremely simple. I got the recipe from one of my favorite magazines, Everyday Food, when they did a feature on creative ways to use a muffin tin.

Upside Down Mushroom Tartlets courtesy of Martha Stewart

Makes 6

  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed and cut into six 3-inch rounds (you can use a circle cookie cutter, or I used the bottom of a wine bottle and carefully cut a circle around it)
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for muffin pan
  • 1 large shallot, diced small
  • 1 pound cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, plus more for serving
  • 3/4 cup grated Gruyere cheese (i used a blend of fontina, and a few other cheeses, but really anything will work.

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place puff pastry rounds in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet and refrigerate while mushrooms cook.

2. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high. Add shallot and cook, stirring, until soft, 3 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring, until soft and browned, 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in thyme and remove skillet from heat.

3. Lightly oil 6 jumbo muffin cups. Divide mushroom mixture and cheese among cups, then top each with a chilled pastry round. Bake until pastry is golden brown and puffed, about 25 minutes, rotating pan halfway through.

full pan

chilled puff pastry rounds on top

4. Run a small knife around cups to loosen tartlets. Place a rimmed baking sheet or large plate over pan and invert to release tartlets (If you have a silicon muffin pan, releasing them will be easier). Sprinkle with more thyme. Serve warm.

finished product

These make a great appetizer/finger food for your next cocktail party. They could also make a great light dinner with a nice salad on the side.

Enjoy!

keep calm and gobble on

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. What could possibly be better than delicious hearty food, pie, family, friends, and most of all tradition? Nothing. Every year my family spends thanksgiving at our very good family friend’s house in the village just a few blocks from home. We split up some of the cooking. My mom and I made green beans, pear crumble pie and a curried quinoa butternut squash salad to bring.

Garlic-Roasted Green Beans with Shallots and Almonds

(Makes 4 servings)

Ingredients:
1 lb. fresh green beans
6 shallots, peeled, and cut into thin slivers
5 large cloves garlic, peeled and cut into thin slices
2 T olive oil
1 tsp. salt
fresh ground pepper
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, very finely chopped
1/4 cup almonds, chopped (I used sliced almonds and only slightly chopped them)
1 tsp. lemon zest

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 450 F. Trim ends from green beans.

2. Peel and cut shallots and garlic, then place with beans in a bowl. Add olive oil, salt and pepper, and use a wooden spoon to toss until beans, shallots, and garlic are well coated with oil.

3. Spray roasting pan with nonstick spray or mist with olive oil, then arrange the vegetable in a single layer. (I like to cover the plan with foil and spray the foil for easy clean-up). Roast 12-15 minutes or slightly longer, until beans are slightly shriveled, and shallots and garlic are lightly browned.

4. While beans cook, toss together chopped parsley, chopped almonds, and lemon zest. When beans are done, toss hot beans with parsley/lemon/almond mixture and serve immediately.

Curried Quinoa with Chickpeas and Butternut Squash

(8 servings)

Ingredients:
1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into cubes
1 tablespoon olive oil, divided (1/2 tablespoon=1 1/2 tsp)
1 tablespoon honey
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/2 tsp cumin
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp mustard powder
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
salt and pepper

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Mix the squash with half the olive oil, 1 tablespoon of honey, and season with salt and pepper. Toss to combine and spread onto a foil covered baking sheet. Bake for about 15 minutes, turn and bake for an additional 15 minutes until tender. Set aside.

hmm honey

ready for roastin'

2. Combine chickpeas with remaining olive oil (1.5 tsp), cumin, salt and pepper. Toss to combine and spread onto a foil lined baking sheet. Bake for about 10 minutes or until slightly crunchy and heated. Set aside.

3. While squash and beans are cooling, combine quinoa, water, curry powder and mustard powder in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook until the liquid is absorbed, about 12-15 minutes.

4. Combine cooked quinoa with squash, chickpeas and pumpkin seeds. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Vanilla and Pear Crumble Pie

Ingredients:
1 deep dish pie shell (can use frozen or make your own)

For filling:
5 pears, cored and thinly sliced
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1/2 cup natural cane sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract (or 1/2 a vanilla bean split lengthwise and seeds scraped out)

For crumble:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temp
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 325 F. In a large bowl combine pears, flour, salt, sugar, cinnamon and vanilla. Use your hands or a spoon to carefully combine the ingredients together, making sure the pears don’t break apart. Set aside.

Thinly sliced

2. In a smaller bowl, combine flour, oats, brown sugar and butter. Using a pastry cutter or fork, combine the mixture until it resembles large crumbs.

Pre-butter

hmmm

yum large crumbs

3. Place the pie tin on a rimmed cookie sheet. Spoon the filling into the pie shell. Top with the crumble mixture. Your pie should be very tall and overflowing. The rimed cookie sheet will catch any spillage.

Ready for the oven

4. Cover the exposed pie shell with thin strips of foil. Bake for 35 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 25 minutes.

The food was INCREDIBLE. We were all in severe food comas by the end, but it was well worth it. Here are some pictures from our beautiful thanksgiving feast:

Cranberry mold

turkey lurkey

cranberry stuffing

wild rice salad with cranberries and nuts

sweet potatoes covered with marshmellows and pecans

my grandmother's cranberry sauce (recipe to come)

my glorious plate

birds eye view of the table part 1

part 2

part 3

And of course, no thanksgiving is complete without an assortment of desserts….

pumpkin cheesecake (recipe to come)

classic pumpkin pie

chocolate pecan pie

And just for good measure, here are some pictures I dug up from thanksgiving last year:

turkey day

best ever roasted vegetables

homemade popovers!

table shot

check out the cranberry mold

tablescape 2

no thanksgiving is complete without pumpkin pie

Hope you all had wonderful thanksgiving feasts with your family and friends! I’m already counting down the days until next year.

teriyaki salmon and roasted asparagus

nothing better than salmon, asparagus and crusty french bread

As a busy college student I find myself making a lot of chicken and pasta because it’s quick and easy. And then sometimes a light bulb goes off and I remember that making fish is even quicker and more delicious, and I run to the Wegman’s seafood counter to see what’s fresh.

This week the salmon fillets called to me, so I decided on a healthy meal of salmon and asparagus. The salmon was infused with this fantastic sweet and gingery flavor from letting it marinate. And even people who don’t like asparagus will like these. They are crunchy, lemony, and a little salty from the capers. Delicious!

Broiled Salmon Teriyaki
Adapted from Martha Stewart

Ingredients:
Boneless salmon fillet (with or without skin depending on preference)
I used Trader Joes Soyaki teriyaki sauce, but if you want to make your own:
for 6 fillets:
1 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice or mild vinegar
1 inch peeled giner, sliced
3 garlic cloves, smashed

Directions:

1. Whisk the soy sauce, honey, and lemon juice together in a large enough dish to fit the the salmon. Stir in the ginger and garlic. Place the salmon, skin side up, in the sauce and marinate for at least 10 or up to 30 minutes. If using pre-made teriyaki sauce, just place the salmon in that.

2. Preheat a broiler to very hot. Remove the salmon from the marinade, pat it dry with paper towels, and place it skin side down on an oiled pan or parchment paper lined baking sheet. Cook until it is slightly firm to the touch, and flakes easily when pressed, 10 to 15 minutes, depending on thickness. While the salmon is cooking, brush it a couple of times with the marinade. Immediately remove the skin while the fish is hot (if applicable), and serve.

Roasted Asparagus with Capers and Lemon
Recipe from Martha Stewart

Pictures by Beanca Nicholson: donnya-ma.

Ingredients:
1 bunch asparagus (trimmed)
1/8 cup salt-packed capers, rinsed well, soaked, and drained
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
sea salt
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
garnish: lemon wedges

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Arrange asparagus and capers evenly on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper (for easy clean up). Drizzle with oil, turning asparagus to coat. Season with salt and sprinkle with red-pepper flakes. Squeeze some lemon juice on top.

2. Roast, shaking sheet once, until asparagus is crisp-tender and golden at the tips, 12 to 16 minutes. Let cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature. Garnish with lemon wedges.

———–

These last few weeks have been full of cooking and going out to eat, so here are some pictures and more from all of my activities…

I took a great Indian cooking class on campus last week. I don’t have all of the recipes, but I took pictures:

Naan

Creamy pumpkin soup

Stuffed eggplant with rice and melted cheese

Spicy tofu & vegetable green curry with vermicelli noodles

Smoked eggplant dip

Smoked Eggplant (Bhartoo)

1 eggplant (cut in half, smear with oil and bake in a toaster oven at 400 F for 45 mins)
1 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup fresh chopped cilantro
1/4 cup finely chopped scallions
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp (or more) chili paste
salt to taste
1 cap of hickory smoke liquid
When the eggplant is cooked, let cool. Then scoop the flesh out and chop finely.
Add other ingredients and serve.

Lucy and I also went out to brunch at Cafe Dewitt, which was voted best brunch in Ithaca and I got one of their specials. It was fantastic to say the least.

Hazelnut waffle with praline cream and fresh raspberries

In non-food related news, I got a kitten! Introducing the love of my life, Zara:

1 lb, 5 oz of cuteness

Thanks for reading!