Create a meal inspired by music – that was the assignment this week from /food52 and one I was perfectly comfortable with. Music has always been a big part of my life, from my dancing days to singing in the choir to singing along with the radio. Some of my earliest memories are of making up dances with sisters – complete with a doll audience and re-purposed dance costumes. Since starting my blog I have picked song titles to go along with my recipes and occasionally have decided to cook something based on hearing a certain song. For this challenge I wanted to do something BIG, something that would push me in some way while still remaining true to the challenge. So I started thinking about my favorite songs, eliminating those that had already been used, and focusing on ones that really have meaning. In the end I decided to go with a song that I first heard when I was in elementary school watching the Today show with my mom.
The 10th Anniversary cast of Les Miserables was being interviewed and while I was originally completely transfixed by Lea Salgona’s Eponine the tall, dark, and handsome (curly hair!!!) gentleman next to her was extremely distracted. During the interview he gave a quick demo of Marius’s solo and I was sold – from that point on I was a Les Miserable fanatic. While I have featured lyrics from On My Own before, which I was convinced was my “theme song” during High School, I decided to focus on the song that sold me on the musical. Marius sings “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables” after realizing he is the lone survivor of his friends. I wanted to create the type of meal that might have been served in the cafe, at that table in the corner…if the guys were vegetarian.
I served this with some left over noodles and crusty bread since I didn’t want any of the sauce to escape. This might not be the most traditional ratatouille recipe out there, but it was warm, comforting, and perfect for sharing with friends.
Time for August’s Secret Recipe Club! This month I was assigned Amy’s blog: A Little Nosh. I had seen Amy’s blog before but for some reason I had missed some rather key things about her. For example her kitchen is about the same size as mine, and while I refer to mine as a “one bum, two tail” kitchen her header declares her kitchen to be a “two butt” zone. I then noticed her CSA button, mostly because the pick-your-own farm I’ve been hitting this year is called also called Great Country Farm. Turns out her CSA is MY pick-your-own farm. Further investigation on her About Me page declared that she does indeed live in the Washington, DC area, so with that I found my first SRC IRL neighbor! Once I got past the initial blog-stalking aspect of my assignment I got down to the recipes. I was immediately drawn to her CSA Friday entries, so many delicious veggie-focused options. She also has an entire Pinterest board dedicated to CSA recipes, one that I will be following as soon as this blog goes live. I also explored some of her past July/August recipes which is where I found the final two contenders for this month’s SRC entry. In the end my need to get rid of some summer squash drove my decision to go with her pesto zucchini.
This dish is so amazingly versatile, it can be served as an amazing side dish or easily adapted for a pasta or pizza topping. After much debating I decided to turn it into a pasta sauce, by adding some onion and a little bit of starchy pasta water. To say this dish was a hit doesn’t begin to cover it. Joe declared the pesto so good that it didn’t need extra cheese, which is the highest praise possible. Thank you Amy for such an amazing recipe! Let me know if you want to go pick peaches…
The other week I was roaming around Pinterest and saw a pin for an awesome open-faced chicken enchilada that looked amazing. While my first inclination was to just switch the chicken tofu or chickun, I decided to take the general concept and go with it. After further “research” I found that these open faced creations are also called California Enchiladas and decided that the time had come for me to give them a whirl. I decided to avoid the tofu and go with some squash and also decided to make my own salsa verde in order to have more control over the heat involved. Everything came together in record time, probably because there was nothing to roll!
I wound up being really bad at being even with my squash layering which resulted in some very cheesy end pieces and an insanely deep center. Not that it stopped any of us
Salsa verde is probably my favorite salsa out there, followed by Texas Caviar (yum!), and one of these days I’m going to remember to save the seeds from some tomatillos so that I can attempt to grow my own. I also need to remember to save the seeds from my other vegetables so that I can cut down on next year’s gardening costs. If anyone has any tips for drying seeds please send them my way!
Honeymoon time!!! While you are reading this Joe and I are (probably) on a plane heading over to the first part of our honeymoon journey: Vienna, Austria. Later we will be hopping the pond to London just in time for the Queen’s Jubilee. This is going to be an amazing trip for so many reasons, needless to say I’m very excited.
In recipe news I have a number of fresh veggie recipes lined up for while we are gone, still trying to keep my promise of using more seasonal and local produce. This week the local market had broccoli, carrots, greens, and a few early varieties of squash. I got a little bit of everything, originally thinking I was going to do a stir fry. Then I went to the Asian Market and saw some great looking rice noodles, and decided to try something new. There is an amazing restaurant near my house that specializing in Burmese cooking and I decided to attempt to recreate my favorite dish: Singapore Street Noodles. The description in the menu reads “thin rice noodles stir-fried with curry masala and vegetables” with the option of adding a protein. I switch off between tofu and extra veggies, and for my version I decided to keep with the veggie version.
Once finished we added some sriracha sauce to our bowls, since we tend to like things on the HOT side. This dish is easily becoming part of our rotation, it’s quick and easy plus the vegetables can be rotated in and out based on what is in season.
Slow Cooker Vegetables
Things have been a little insane lately, with classes, certifications, and only one car. So I have been leaning heavily on my slow cooker to insure that there is something delicious for dinner, with little effort (or time) on my part. I have been going back to my old faithfuls but have also been testing some new combinations to add to my list. Essentially my testing consists of just throwing a bunch of veggies or beans in the slow cooker with some type of liquid and seeing what happens. While one recipe was a massive fail, the rest were a huge hit. As an added bonus I tried to incorporate as many local and seasonal ingredients in order to stay on track with my goals. In doing so I think I found a new Top Squash: Delicata Squash. Yum!
I had some Parmesan Cheese left over from a dish earlier in the week so decided to use the last of it as a topping, which worked perfectly for us. Greek yogurt would also be a great topping, but the vegetables could easily go naked. I served it over garlic couscous but yellow rice, egg noodles, or simple brown rice would also work great.
Pasta with Fall Squash
I have a horrible confession to make: up until this summer I have never really done seasonal cooking. Sure I’ll do more soups in the winter but I never focused on what produce is at it’s height for those soups. Lately however I’m trying to be more attentive, and luckily my grocery store makes it easy with large “Grown Local” signs, so all I have to pay attention. This dish is the result on that, and I’m happy to report that I have realized how versatile squash really is. Once I was of the variety that purchased zucchini only, then I added butternut squash, but with the latest purchase I think I have now experimented with close to a half-dozen squash/gourd varieties so far this season. I’m sure this is nothing compared to some (most?) people but I’m proud of how far I’ve come in being more aware of where the food I eat comes from. This post is an example of one of my squash adventures. As I mentioned earlier my grocery store does a great job of signing locally grown seasonal produce, and this time of year they have the squash bin row. This row goes a good 20ft and features a good dozen types of squash/gourds ranging from the small pattypans to some huge blue hubbards. It’s been interesting to watch them cycle thru as the pattypans are reduced to a smaller and smaller section while the butternut, acorn, and buttercup types are taking over. For this recipe I used some late season pattypans but if done during the summer either long neck or bent-neck yellow squash would work.
I also enjoy that this recipe is one of those quick and easy ones where dinner is on the table within about 30minutes of starting. I’m looking forward to seeing what other varieties of winter produce start showing up at the market and what all I can do with them!
Risotto Style Orzo
Secret Recipe Club
Last month I noticed that a number of the food blogs I follow were posting about some Secret Recipe Club, and I was intrigued. I am always looking for new blog groups to join and I this one has a really great concept. Each blogger that joins is assigned a blog to pick a recipe from and then posts that recipe on a certain day. As soon as I got my blog assignment I jumped right on over to The Daily Dish to find my recipe! I was originally going to make this dish for my Birthday BBQ but instead it became the perfect weeknight dinner when things got a little crazy. I did make some changes from the original recipe and it was a big hit!
Ingredients: (serves 4)
- 1/2 red onion, diced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 squash, diced
- 2 tbsp EVOO
- 1 cup orzo
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1/4 cup basil leaves, chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
- Heat the Olive Oil over medium heat in a large saute pan. Add the garlic, onion, and squash and cook until tender.
- Add the orzo, vegetable broth, water, and white wine then bring the mixture to a boil before covering and turning heat to low. Stir often to make sure the orzo doesn’t stick.
- Stir in the tomatoes, basil leaves, and Parmesan cheese then Serve!
I had a great time with this assignment and I’m looking forward to see what blog I get assigned next month.