Cornbread Strata and Meet Bindi!

My apologies again for disappearing. I know I said I was back after my last hiatus, but then something very exciting happened….we got a puppy! Meet Bindi our lab mix little cutie.

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I absolutely love this little pup, so much so that I find it difficult to spend time cooking or writing instead of playing with her! I think we’ve now gotten into a more routine schedule and I hope to posting much more often. If any of you have suggestions for how you balance blogging with family, work, pets and other priorities I’d love to hear them!!

And now for the food. The mornings have started to get a bit cooler, which makes me want to just curl up with something warm and cozy for breakfast. I had 3/4 of a loaf of cornbread and some sauteed onions left over from earlier in the week and decided to try a strata to use it up. You can really make this with any type of bread, but cornbread gives it a nice fall feel. I like to add a little
King Arthur Vermont Cheese Powder to my cornbread. I know, I know cheese powder? But this is a great ingredient that can add extra flavor to mannny dishes. Bread that is a day or two old generally works best for this as well.

Cornbread Strata
Cornbread (note: this is half the amount that I make if I’m making the bread to eat, the strata doesn’t require as much unless you’re feeding a crowd)
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon King Arthur Vermont Cheese Powder (optional)
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1/2 cup milk
1 large egg
4 tablespoons butter, melted

Sauteed Onion:
1 large onion
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt
pepper

Strata:
1 pan cornbread (see above)
4 large eggs
3/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Make the cornbread: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine the cornmeal, flour, sugar, salt, cheese powder, thyme and parsley in a large mixing bowl. Combine the remaining ingredients in a separate bowl. Slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir to combine. Pour the mixture into a baking dish and bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes, until the edges start to brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Saute the onions: Add the olive oil to a pan on medium-low heat. Slice the onion thinly and add to the pan. Cook the onions slowly for about 10 minutes until they’re soft and start to brown just a little. Salt and pepper to taste. Let the onions cool.

Make the strata: Cut the cornbread into small chunks and place about 1/2 in the bottom of a baking dish. Combine the rest of the strata ingredients and the cooled onions in a bowl and whisk lightly. Pour half of the mixture over the bread. Place the rest of the bread in the dish and pour the remaining mixture evenly over the bread the cover it. Add some more grated cheese on top if you like. Bake at 350 for about 35-40 minutes until the eggs are cooked. Enjoy!

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Pasta Puttanesca

photo(4)Here you go, another pasta recipe! I hope you’re not getting sick of these yet. Leave it to me to make be making all these pastas in the summer while everyone else is gearing up for warm weather and swim suit season. Oh well, that’s who I am.

This week I bring you pasta puttanesca, politely translated to the “working girl’s pasta.” Traditional puttanesca has capers and anchovies, but per usual I didn’t have all the right ingredients in my kitchen so I doubled up on the olives to make up for it. Since the olives are pretty salty I don’t add much salt to the sauce, but feel free to adjust that to your tastes.

Pasta Puttanesca

1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, cut into thin slices
14 oz crushed tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 1/2 cups pitted kalamata olives
3 cloves garlic
1 lb spaghetti or bucatini
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
4 fresh basil leaves
grated cheese for topping

1. Place the olive oil and onions in a pan on low heat. Cook until the onions are soft and translucent, about 7-8 minutes.

2. Add the crushed tomatoes, red pepper flakes and salt to the pan with the onions and stir to combine. Continue cooking on low heat, stirring often until the sauce starts to bubble.

3. Combine the olives and garlic in a food processor and pulse for just a few seconds until they’re chopped but not too small. Add the olives and garlic to the sauce and cook for about 20 minutes, stirring often.

4. While the sauce is cooking, cook and drain your pasta in a bowl of salted water.

5. Once the sauce is done, turn off the heat and add the cherry tomatoes. Then add the pasta and toss. Finish with chopped basil and cheese and enjoy!

 

Kale and Pepper Quesadilla

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This quesadilla was the result of needing to use up everything in our fridge before heading out of town for a few days. I was rummaging through the fridge to determine what had to be eaten before we left. The discoveries were a half a block of cheese, half a bag of small sweet peppers, one bunch of kale and a few green onions. Once I realized there were a few whole wheat tortillas hidden in the back of the fridge, the idea came to life. I think quesadillas get a bad rap for being unhealthy food, but depending on the tortilla you use and what you put in them they don’t have to be so bad.

I’m bringing these quesadillas to Angie’s Fiesta Friday party today.  If you haven’t joined the party yet you totally should it’s a ton of fun and the other bloggers are so inspiring! 

Kale and Pepper Quesadillas

Serves 2
2 tablespoons olive oil
8-10 mini sweet peppers
1 bunch kale
1/2 cup green onions, chopped
1/2 cup pepper jack cheese, shredded or cubed
2 whole wheat tortillas
Salt
Pepper

1. Remove the tops and seeds of the peppers and cut them into thin strips. Add the pepper strips and 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a pan on medium heat. Sauté until the peppers soften, about 6-8 minutes and season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer the peppers to a bowl.

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2. Remove the kale leaves from the stems and chop into small pieces. Add the remaining olive oil and kale to the pan on low heat and sauté for about 4 minutes until the kale wilts. Add the kale to the bowl with the peppers.

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3. Add the green onions to the bowl with the other vegetables and stir to combine.

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4. Place a tortilla in the pan and return to low heat. Place 1/4 of the cheese on half of the tortilla, then half of the vegetable mixture then another 1/4 of the cheese. Fold the other half of the tortilla on top and cook for 3 minutes. Flip the tortilla and cook for another 2 minutes then remove it from the pan. Enjoy!
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Panzanella with Bacon and Sweet Balsamic Dressing

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As much as I’ve been trying to be very healthy lately, I have been and always will be a carb-aholic. I love bread of every shape and size and simply can never get enough. Therefore, it shouldn’t surprise you that I would he a huge fan of a bread salad. And if you’re already making the salad out of bread, why not add bacon? Now that’s a salad!

I received some great little yellow tomatoes in this week’s farm basket and their color just goes so great with the bacon and toasted bread. However, you can use any kind of tomatoes you like. I also added some spinach to this so I could feel slightly less guilty while eating it. I topped this salad with a sweet balsamic dressing which was just perfect. I’ve already eaten two helpings of this salad today – and it’s not even noon, oops! Oh well, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it as much as I am!

And to make things even better, it’s Fiesta Friday! Check it out and join the party!

Panzanella with Bacon and Sweet Balsamic Dressing
For the salad:
2 tablespoons salted butter
2 slices day old bread, cubed
3 pieces of crunchy bacon
1/2 cup tomatoes, chopped in half
1 cup spinach chopped into bite-sized pieces
2 green onions, chopped
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
1/2 ball of mozzarella cheese, cubed

For the dressing:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

1. Add the salted butter to a pan on low heat. When the butter melts, add the bread cubes to the pan and cook until lightly toasted, about 8-10 minutes.

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2. In a bowl combine the bacon, tomatoes, spinach, green onions, parsley and mozzarella. Add the bread when it’s toasted and toss to combine all of the ingredients.

3. To make the dressing whisk all the ingredients together. Pour the dressing over the salad, enjoy!

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Tabbouleh

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I love making dishes that I can make a big batch of and bring to lunch every day for a week. This helps prevent me from going out and buying lunch. It also gives me a lunch I can look forward to – not just some sad sandwich that I don’t really want to eat. Tabbouleh is an excellent example of this, this recipe makes enough for nearly a week’s worth of lunches and paired with a nice warm pita it’s a lunch you’re sure to look forward to!

If you haven’t used bulgur before it’s a type of wheat that’s common in Middle Eastern cooking. You can find it in most grocery stores near the rice or the international aisle. Unlike other grains, you cook it by pouring boiling water over the wheat and letting it sit and absorb.photo(33)

This recipe is very light and fresh while still being filling. I definitely suggest making some pitas to go with it. This King Arthur recipe works every time! You can also substitute some of the flour for whole wheat if you like.

Tabbouleh
1 cup bulgur wheat
2 cups boiling water
1 pint cherry tomatoes, each cut into quarters
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup dried mint
6 green onions, chopped
1 cucumber, chopped (optional)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

1. Place your bulgur in a heatproof bowl, boil your water and add the boiling water to the bowl with the bulgur. Cover the bowl with aluminum foil and let it sit for about 30 minutes, until the water has evaporated and the bulgur is softened. Fluff the bulgur lightly with a fork.

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2. While waiting for your bulgur, chop your tomatoes, parsley, cucumber and onions and add them to a separate bowl. Next add the mint. Once the bulgur has cooled, add the chopped vegetables and mint to it and stir to combine.

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3. Finally, make the dressing. Combine the olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Pour the dressing over the bulgur mixture and stir it thoroughly to combine.

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4. Chill for at least an hour before serving, enjoy!

Kale, Pesto and Red Onion Flatbread

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Last week, for the first time since I’ve lived in the DC area, we actually got some real snow! Nothing crazy, probably just about 3 inches in my area but I was excited none the less. To make it even better, the snow allowed me to work from home for a day, extending the already long weekend! I really enjoy days when I work from home because I have extra time to make lunch and dinner.

Given the chilly temperatures and the lack of quick snow removal in this area, instead of finding a new recipe to try and going out to buy all the ingredients, I rummaged through the cupboards and fridge to see what I could develop with what I had on hand. I always have ingredients for dough, I had kale and these adorable red pearl onions (sorry if adorable is a weird word for onions, but these really were) from my week’s farm basket and a jar of pesto my friend brought me from Italy that I’ve been excited to try. I put it all together and came up with this flatbread. If you don’t want to make dough, you can use frozen pizza dough as a shortcut.

Kale, Pesto and Onion Flatbread
Dough:
1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup warm waterflatbread2
2 Tablespoon yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon
pepper

Topping:
1 bunch kale, stems removed and washed
1/2 cup red pearl onions peeled and chopped (or 1 small red onion)
3 Tablespoons pesto
1 Tablespoon  plus 2 teaspoons olive oil
salt
pepper
a few shavings of parmesan cheese

Begin by making your dough. Add the water and yeast to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook and let sit for ten minutes. Then combine the flour and salt in a separate bowl and add them to the water and yeast mixture. Using the dough hook, begin to combine and slowly add 1 tablespoon of olive oil while it’s all mixing. Continue mixing until a ball of dough had formed. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with a towel and let rise for an hour.

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After the dough has risen, preheat your oven to 400 degrees (if you have a pizza stone it really helps to bake these on a hot pizza stone). Divide the dough into two equal pieces and roll each piece into an oblong shape. Drizzle the additional olive oil and a bit of salt and pepper on top of the rolled out dough. When the oven is ready, place the dough on your pizza stone or on a baking sheet if you don’t have a pizza stone. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until the dough just starts to get a little brown.

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To make the topping add the olive oil and onions to a pan on medium-low heat. Cook the onions for about 5 minutes then add your kale to the pan. Add your desired amount of salt and pepper. Continue to cook for about 8-10 minutes, until the kale has wilted.

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Remove your dough from the oven and spread a a layer of pesto over it. Top with your kale and onions. Add a few shavings of parmesan cheese, enjoy!

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Spaghetti Squash with Turkey Sausage, Onions and Peppers

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I absolutely love this time of year.  It’s cool enough to be comfortable outside, but not yet time to bundle up. I can start pulling out my favorite fall staples like boots and scarves.  And, in my opinion, it’s the best season for vegetables.  It’s the perfect transition time when you can still get some late summer gems like great heirloom tomatoes at the same time that my fall favorites likes squash , sweet potatoes and swiss chard are just hitting their peak.  This week I got spaghetti squash in my farm basket – an ingredient I’ve never cooked myself before.  The past few days I’ve been craving an Italian sausage and peppers sandwich, so I decided to see if I could combine the two.  I’m a bit of a turkey kick at the moment, so I substituted turkey sausage for pork and the taste was surprisingly similar.  A fun bonus with the squash – you can toast the seeds just like pumpkin seeds to snack on!

Spaghetti Squash with Turkey Sausage, Onions and Peppers
2 medium spaghetti squash
2 bell peppers cut into strips
1 yellow onion sliced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
salt
pepper
olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees

2. Cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds – save them if you want to roast them!

3. Drizzle olive oil over the squash and salt and pepper them photo (7)

4. Place the squash on a baking sheet and put them in the oven for 30-40 minutes, until you can easily poke them with a fork and feel that they’re soft

5. Add some olive to a large pan on medium heat and add the onions and the sausage
**I like my peppers just a little crunchy so I wait to add them, if you prefer them cooked more add them in with the onions and sausage

6. Add the peppers and season with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes and cook until the sausage is cooked through

photo (8)7. When the squash is soft, take it out of the oven and use a fork to scrape out spaghetti like strands and add them to the cooked sausage and vegetables – careful with the squash it will be very hot!

8. Mix it all together, top with some pecorino romano or parmesan and enjoy!

Roasted Spaghetti Squash Seeds 

Rinse the seeds and let them dry on a paper towel. Mix the seeds in a bowl with some olive, salt and pepper (add some cayenne if you like spice). Put them on a baking sheet and bake at 250 for 30-40 minutes, turning them every ten minutes so they evenly roast.

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