Asparagus and Mushroom Millet Pilaf, and a verrrryyy quiet weekend

Asparagus and Mushroom Millet Pilaf with mushroomsI was totally lazy yesterday afternoon while The Bug was napping.  And all evening, after he went to sleep.  I should have been folding laundry.  Or cleaning up the kitchen.  But instead I started writing a blog post, perusing Facebook, and catching up on My Fair Wedding and Sweet Genius on my DVR.  And why was I feel totally OK with this?  Well, The Bug was napping.  My tummy was full from gobbling up some leftovers of Friday night’s dinner (after I had already had lunch.  And a cake pop.) while I was photographing it for this blog entry.  And The Hubby was away until Sunday afternoon, so I knew I had all night and a good portion of Sunday to do the piddly tasks.  Other than the sound of The Bug snoring over the monitor, the house was very quiet.  Almost unnerving how quiet it was.  Today, for some reason, the quiet is nice and appealing.  Maybe because now the chores are done, and it is a damp, dreary day, perfect for staying inside.

So anyway, dinner Friday night.  So good!  As I mentioned, I was picked at more of it straight out of the fridge.  And, since The Hubby wasn’t home, I just finished it off for dinner.  The Bug happily devoured a broccoli and cheese omelet (with ketchup naturally).  I’m wasn’t sharing my leftovers.

I love Jessica’s How Sweet It Is blog.  Her photos are amazing (something I aspire to), and she cracks me up regularly.  You would think by the name that her blog would be all about desserts.  Well, she does have some A-MAZ-ING desserts.  But oftentimes, it is her savory recipes that catch my attention.  Like this Springtime Jasmine Rice Salad.  Mushrooms, asparagus…  mmmmm!!!!  My favorites.

Asparagus and Mushroom Millet Pilaf from top

I scoured my grocery store and could not find the jasmine brown rice.  I guess I could have bought regular jasmine rice, but I bought a bag of millet on a whim awhile ago.  Millet is a grain that looks similar to couscous or maybe even kinda like barley, but it is gluten-free.  I have been trying to figure out a way to make it that wouldn’t freak out The Hubby.  Put a new dessert or a new meat dish in front of him, and he is all over it.  A new vegetable or grain – well, that is usually perceived as me trying to force “crunchy” health foods on him.  But this was good.  Real good.

Asparagus and mushroom miillet pilaf leftoversI used some dried cranberries instead of the dried cherries, and tweaked the amounts of other ingredients, since I was making a larger portion.  And I used vegetable broth instead of chicken.  I’m sure either way would be great, but with the veggie broth, this is a nice vegan meal.  And if you aren’t vegan, try it with some shrimp, like we did on Friday night, or sprinkled with a little goat cheese, as I did on Saturday night.  Or eat it straight out of the fridge, cold.

The Hubby liked it, despite his lack of love for asparagus and mushrooms, and The Bug ate his portion.  Though honestly, he was more interested in devouring seven or eight shrimp – go figure, normally he won’t touch shrimp.  Ugh, the eating habits of toddlers!

I definitely want to try it with the brown jasmine rice, just as Jessica made it.  But I think that’ll require a drive to Whole Foods, which, sadly, is not too convenient.  And I still have that bag of millet, or I am thinking it would be good with quinoa, to, to amp up the protein.  Mom, can’t wait for you to try it – this is what I am making on Good Friday!

And since it is so quiet, I need some conversation, even if it is “virtual”.  So tell me what you think of this recipe, answer the questions below, or just say Hi.  I’d love to hear from everyone who is reading, so we can get to know each other!

Are you lazy or productive when your significant other is away?  What are you favorite spring vegetables or fruits?

Asparagus and Mushroom Millet Pilaf (serves 4)

Adapted from Springtime Jasmine Rice Salad at How Sweet It Is

Ingredients

about 1 lb asparagus spears, woody stems removed, cut into 1-1 1/2 in pieces

Asparaugs and Mushroom Millet Pilaf Collage2 T olive oil, divided

1 c  millet

1 t kosher salt

2 cup low-sodium vegetable or chicken stock

1 shallot, minced

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 pint white or baby bella mushrooms, quartered

1/2 cup dry white wine (I used a sauvignon blanc)

1/3 cup dried cranberries, coarsely chopped

kosher salt

freshly ground pepper

Directions

1.  Prepare the millet as per the package directions, using stock instead of water.  I cooked mine in my rice cooker.

2.  Preheat the oven to 400°F.  Toss the asparagus with 1 T olive oil, 1 t salt, and freshly ground black pepper.  Lay in a single layer on a baking sheet, and roast until tender, about 20-25 minutes.

3.  Heat 1 T olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.

4.  Add shallot and a little salt, and cook until soft, about 2-3 minutes.

5.  Add mushrooms to the pan, and cook until nicely browned and soft, about 5-7 minutes.

6.  Add the garlic and dried cranberries, and cook for another minutes or so.

7.  Add the wine, and cook for a couple of minutes to reduce the liquid a bit.

8.  Toss the mushroom mixture with the roasted asparagus and millet, and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Enjoy!

Asparagus and Mushroom Millet Pilaf Close-up

This recipe was shared with:

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Granola that’s Kinda Nutty (to power through business trips that are also kinda nutty)

Maple Nutty Granola yogurt parfait up closeWhen I was working, I had to travel to Europe several times, and once for two weeks to China and India.  And seriously, the best thing about many foreign hotels is their insane breakfast buffets.  These spreads catered to the breakfast preferences of many different countries and cultures, from eggs and bacon and potatoes, to waffles and pancakes and french toast, to knockwursts and bratwursts and whatvever-wursts, to congee and sushi and dumplings.  Now granted, I was traveling for business, so I did stay at pretty decent hotels.  But even the smaller ones all seem to know how to do breakfast right.  And one thing that always seem to have it a bowl of plain, thick yogurt, another of fresh fruit preserves, and yet another filled with granola.  More often than not, even with all of the other choices, I went for that – a little dairy, a little protein, a little fruit – just what I needed to power through the insane schedule that I usually had while traveling (one time involving 7 airplane flights in 10 days).

Back at home, the store-bought granola always left something to be desired for me.  Many seem to have a lot more sugar and fat than I am really looking for, not enough nuts and fruit, and way too much “filler”.  Plus, with finding out about my wheat allergy, I have to steer clear from granola that contains things like wheat and barley flakes, or even wheat germ.  So that is why I came up with this recipe.  It has a pretty high ratio of nuts and seeds to oats, a good amount of dried fruit, and just the right amount of sweetness, but without adding any refined sugars.  The only grain is oatmeal, and while I don’t need to seek out the gluten-free oats, this can be gluten-free if you purchase the gluten-free oats.   And it has a lot of different kinds of nuts.  I love nuts, and each one seems to have at least on particular standout nutritional stat, like walnuts for Omega-3’s, cashews for minerals and B-vitamins, and almonds for Vitamin E.  Here is a great source for lots of nutritional information about many different nuts and seeds.

Nutty Granola yogurt parfait

I love to eat this granola over plain yogurt with some chopped berries (or you can get all fancy and make parfaits), and The Bug likes it in any of the many yogurt combos I make for him (like this one).  But it is also good simply with some warm or cold milk (my new favorite is Almond Breeze’s Coconut Almond Milk, maybe with a little chopped banana.  I’ve also been known to eat it by the handful.

It also makes a nice gift.

Maple Nutty Granola Gift

And the great thing about granola recipes is that they really are a guideline.  Feel free to switch it up based on the nuts and seeds and fruits you love or have around.

Maple Nutty Granola Yogurt parfait

What is your favorite breakfast food?  Is there something you beeline for when you are at a buffet?

Maple Mixed Nut Granola

Ingredients

3 c oats (I use Quaker Old Fashioned Oats)

Granola in bowl1 c raw cashews, chopped

1 c chopped walnuts

1 c chopped pecans

1/2 c sliced almonds

1/4 c flax seeds

1/4 c sesame seeds

1/2 c pumpkin seeds (pepitas)

1 c unsweetened, flaked coconut

1/4 c water

1/4 c olive oil

1/2 c real maple syrup

1 t cinnamon

1 t vanilla extract

1 t kosher salt

1 1/2 c dried fruit (I like equal parts raisins, dried cranberries, and dried cherries)

Directions

Granola on pan1.  Preheat your oven to 250°F.  Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat.

2.  In a large bowl, combine the oats, nuts, seeds, and coconut.

3.  In a small bowl, combine the water, olive oil, maple syrup, cinnamon, vanilla, and salt.

4.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and toss until it is evenly distributed and moistened.

5.  Bake for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, stirring every 20 minutes, or until dry and golden.

6.  Toss the dried fruits in with the granola mixture.

7.  Allow to cool and store in an airtight container.

Enjoy!

Maple Nutty Granola closeup

This recipe was shared with:

A Little Nosh’s Tastetastic Thursday

Amee’s Savory Dish Fit and Fabulous Friday 3/23/12

I Heart Nap Time

What Makes You Say Mmmmm? Monday Linky

Nap-Time Creations

 

 

 

 

Mexican Pineapple Black Bean Stuffed Baked Sweet Potatoes – No More ‘Mallows!

I have lots of dreams.  Strange Weird Crazy Stupid Lame Awesome as it sounds, many of those dreams have to do with food.  Things like open a bed & breakfast, become a sommelier, own a cafe/wine bar/bakery, be a waitress at a really fancy restaurant, meet Giada or Tyler or Michael or Tom or Mario (DiLaurentiis, Florence, Symon, Collicchio, and Batali for those of you who aren’t on a first name basis with them, as I am), write a cookbook…

One of those dreams is to win a recipe contest.  Now I have always been an overachiever, so I have my sights set on the $1 Million Pillsbury Bake-Off.  But I figure I should probably start a little smaller.  So when I saw Biz at My Bizzy Kitchen post her entry for the No More ‘Mallows! recipe contest, sponsored by the North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission, I knew I had to enter.  I had just made a sweet potato recipe a couple of weeks ago that I thought would be perfect for this contest.

No More 'Mallows!

The black bean filling for my spin on baked stuffed potatoes is based on this Black Bean & Mango Taco recipe from my friend, Michelle, at Find Your Balance.  She is a health coach, and has some awesome, healthy recipes.  Pinapple Black Bean Stuffed Baked Sweet Potatoes with ForkAnything that gets my husband to eat and love a dinner that does not include meat must be good.  And The Bug loves Mexican.  So her recipe has become one of our family favorites.  But I have switched it up some, and instead of tacos, I thought it would be awesome stuffed into some sweet potatoes.  And, just to make Michelle happy, I added in some dark, leafy greens and Greek yogurt (though the leafy greens could be optional, if you are not a fan, and you could use sour cream, if you prefer).

So give this a try for your Meatless Monday, Lent Friday, or any day, really.  It’s that good.  No need to reserve it for your vegetarian days (unless all of your days are vegetarian days).  It has a lot of ingredients, but most are probably already in your pantry.  Oooh, and it would probably also be good with some of this.

Pineapple Black Bean Stuffed Baked Sweet Potatoes with Limes and Avocado

Have you ever entered a recipe contest?  What are some of the random, seemingly silly goals you have?

Mexican Pineapple Black Bean Stuffed Baked Sweet Potatoes (serves 4)

Adapted from Black Bean & Mango Tacos from Find Your Balance

Ingredients

For Sweet Potatoes:

4 sweet potatoes

half of a lime

1/2 t kosher salt

1 T olive oil

For Monterey Jack Creamy Swiss Chard:

16 c Swiss chard (or other dark, leafy green of your choice) – I know this sounds like a lot, but it really cooks down

Monterey Jack Swiss Chard1/4 t salt

freshly ground black pepper

1/2 c milk (any kind will do, I used 1%)

1 c (about 4 oz.) shredded Monterey Jack cheese

For Pineapple Black Beans:

1 T olive oil

half of a large sweet onion, chopped

Black Beans1/4 t salt

freshly ground black pepper

1 red pepper, chopped

1 clove garlic, chopped

1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed

1 lime

2 T chili powder

1 T cumin

1/2 c water

Pineapple Black Bean Stuffed Sweet Potatoes on plate1 c chopped fresh or canned pineapple

2 T chopped cilantro

For garnish (optional):

1/2 c Greek yogurt (I like Chobani) or sour cream

1/2 lime

chopped avocado

cilantro

Directions

1.  Preheat your oven to 400°F.

2.  Squeeze half of a lime into a bowl and add the salt.  Toss the sweet potatoes in the lime-salt mixture.

3.  Wrap each potato individually in aluminum foil, and bake for 45 minutes-1 hour, or until soft (alternatively, you could cook them in the microwave for about 10-15 minutes, but NOT with the aluminum foil)

4.  While the sweet potatoes are baking, prepare the fillings.  Start by spraying a large pan with olive oil or cooking spray, and putting over medium heat.

5.  Add the Swiss chard, salt and pepper, and cover with a lid.  Cook for about 5 minutes, or until wilted, stirring every couple of minutes.

6.  Remove the lid and add the milk and cheese.  Cook until thickened slightly and cream.  Set aside.

7.  In the same pan or in a clean pan, heat the olive and add the onions, salt, and pepper.  Cook until starting to turn translucent.

8.  Add the red pepper and cook until the onions and peppers are soft.

9.  Add the garlic and cook for another minute.  Add the black beans, juice of a lime, chili powder, cumin, and water, and simmer for 8-10 minutes, or until heated through.  You can keep covered over a low heat until the sweet potatoes are ready.

10.  Stir the pineapple and cilantro into the black bean mixture.

11.  Combine the Greek yogurt or sour cream and lime juice, and chop the avocado and cilantro, if using.

12.  Slice open the baked sweet potatoes, and fill with the swiss chard and black bean mixture.  Top with the desired garnishes.

Enjoy!

Pineapple Black Bean Stuffed Sweet Potatoes close up
This recipe was shared with:

Kelly the Kitchen Kop’sReal Food Wednesday 3/21/12

These Chicks Cooked Recipe Swap #44

The Countertop Confections’ What’s Cooking Thursday 3/22/12

A Little Nosh’s Tastetastic Thursday 3/22/12

Savannah’s Savory Bites Friday Feature Blog Hop 3/23/12

Amee’s Savory Dish Fit and Fabulous Friday 3/23/12

March Improv Challenge: Potato Goat Cheese Gratin

So I was perusing the foodie blogoshpere, and stumbled upon The Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker.  I thought the name of her blog was hysterical, and then I saw her Improv challenge.  This sounded like too much fun.  Basically a theme is given, which is two assigned ingredients, then it is up to the bloggers to let the creative juices flow, and see what they can come up with.  Then on the third Thursday of the month, we will all publish our new recipes based on the theme.  I decided I had to get in on the action.

Improv Challenge

So I will say, this recipe is really improv.  I had a sweet potato and some white potatoes laying around, and I was really in the mood for goat cheese.  So after digging around for some sort of scalloped, au gratin potato recipe idea for inspiration, I found Gratin Dauphinois (Scalloped Potatoes with Cheese) from Cooking Light.  I did a little tweaking, and this is what I threw together.

Potato Goat Cheese Gratin

It was yummy – a little sweet, a little salty, creamy, tangy.  We all ate the leftovers with dinner the next night, and I had the last little bit the following day for lunch.  The Bug was a fan, too.

Slice of Potato Goat Cheese Gratin

Since I really did pull this together off the cuff (I didn’t have much time, since I only recently found out about the challenge), it could still use a tweak or two.  I think next time I would not put the goat cheese in the milk, and would instead just crumble it on top of each potato layer, in order to get pockets of the tangy goat cheese.  If I try this and update it (and get some better photos – I had two hungry boys and a steak getting cold, so was in a rush), I will let you know.  But it was really good as-is, especially with a steak perfectly grilled by The Hubby.

Potato Goat Cheese Gratin with Steak and Asparagus

If you like what you see here, I’d love for you to subscribe to updates by email, “Like” me on Facebook, or follow me on Twitter.  Also, make sure you check out the links below to see what the other Improvers came up with.

Potato Goat Cheese Gratin

Based on Gratin Dauphinois (Scalloped Potatoes with Cheese) from Cooking Light.

Ingredients

Potato Goat Cheese Gratin vertical1 garlic clove, halved

4 ounces goat cheese

1 cup milk (I used 2% because that is what I had)

3-4 sprigs fresh thyme

About 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 lbs white potatoes and/or sweet potatoes (I used one large sweet potato, and the rest white potatoes), sliced 1/8 in. thick

1 1/2 T olive oil

3/4 t kosher salt

black pepper

Directions

1.  Preheat your oven to 450°F.  Spray a 9 inch round glass pie plate with olive oil or cooking spray.  Rub with the cut sides of the garlic. Discard the garlic.

2.  In a pan, combine 2 oz. of the goat cheese, the milk and the thyme, and bring to a boil.  Remove from heat.

3. While the milk is heating, layer one-third of the potato slices in the pie plate, drizzle with 1/2 T olive oil, 1/4 t. salt, and black pepper.  Repeat with two more layers of potatoes (I uses half of the white potatoes for my first layer, then the sweet potatoes, and finally another layer of white potatoes).

4.  Pour the milk mixture over the top of the potatoes, and lay the thyme sprigs on top.

5.  Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes.

6.  Uncover, crumble the remaining 2 oz. of goat cheese and sprinkle on the top.

7.  Bake uncovered for another 20-25 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender and the cheese starts to brown.

Enjoy!

Potato Goat Cheese Gratin Closeup



Eggplant Parm-lasagna with “Faux”-lognese Sauce and Being Part of the Foodie Blogosphere

I am definitely a newbie when it comes to writing a blog.  Really, I am even a newbie when it comes to recording my recipes.  Yes, I am a scientist, and in the lab I was always very exact with my measurements.  I think that is why I love baking – formulas, measurements, acids, bases, heat, reactions, solids, liquids, and gases.  It truly is a science.  Cooking is definitely more of an art.  I am not an artist, but when I cook, it is more of a little of this, a little of that, unless I am following someone else’s recipe.  So I decided to start making cooking like a science experiment, and my spiral notebook of recipes is my new laboratory notebook.  Just now it say salt and baking soda, instead of sodium chloride and sodium bicarbonate.

But I am also a newbie with really, seriously reading blogs.  I had a couple I checked out pretty frequently in the past.  Mainly Weelicious and Fix Me a Snack, trying to come up with healthy meals and snacks (and even healthier spins on treats) for The Bug.  For awhile, I was determined that no cracker from a box shall cross his lips.  And, while I have made a fair share of homemade Wheat Thins and Cheez-Its, my delusions did not last long.  Especially when we go to the playgroup at my church, and my kid steals Goldfish from all of the other kids.  After he has already eaten his entire bowl of Cheerios, raisins, and freeze dried apples.

But I digress.  So as I have been reading blogs, chatting on Facebook with other bloggers, I started to notice some chatter about “stealing recipes.”  Confessions of a Cookbook Queen even had this gem in her hilarious series “Ryan Gosling, Food Blogger’s Husband” series of pictures.  Well, I stumbled upon a recipe at Pink Parsley for Lasagna-Stuffed Portabellos, and immediately began drooling and planning when I would make this amazing-sounding recipe.  Lasagna without pasta – I’m in!

Friday…  yes, it’s Lent, this is perfect for Friday.  And I am going to Mom’s.  I love mushrooms.  Mom loves mushrooms.  Sam loves mushrooms.  Larry… uhhh…  hates mushrooms.  Grrr!  But I still wanted lasagna, so I decide to change it up a bit to a version that we would all enjoy.

Spaghetti Squash in Pan

Well, we all loved it, so I had to post it.  Except the whole time I have been thinking about it, I’ve been paranoid that Josie (as if I know her well-enough to be on a first name basis) would think I was stealing her recipe.  I don’t want to be rejected by the blogosphere after I just joined it!!  So hopefully if she sees this, she knows that this was done in the utmost respect and appreciation of her recipe, which I will.  You should, too.  But I hope you try and like this one, as well.

None of us were in a pasta mood that night, so we just scooped up the sauce and cheese with some bread.  But this would go fabulously with some pasta (regular or gluten-free), or even some spaghetti squash.  Or even make just the sauce to go with your noodles.  Salting and draining the eggplant (“making the eggplant cry”, like my Grandma always said) really gives it a nice meat-y texture – something good to give to your carnivorous husband (like mine) on Meatless Monday or a Lent Friday.

Eggplant Parm-lasagna on plate

Are you more of a scientist or an artist?  Baker or cook?  Leave some comments below.  I’d love to “chat” some more with you. 

And if you are liking what you are seeing, “Like” me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, and tell your friends to stop by.

This recipe was shared with:

Hodgepodge Friday 3/9/12 at It’s a Hodgepodge Life

Blogger Secret Ingredient – Parmesan at My Kitchen Adventures

Eggplant Parm-lasagna with “Faux”-lognese Sauce (serves 4)
Adated from Pink Parsley‘s Lasagna-Stuffed Portabellos

Eggplant

2 medium eggplants, sliced in half lengthwise

1 T olive oil

1/8 t oregano and 1/8 t parsley (which I used), or 1/4 t Italian seasoning

salt and pepper

1 c ricotta cheese

1/2 t dried parsley

1/4 c plus 2-3 T (for topping) grated parmesan cheese

salt and pepper, to taste

4 oz. fresh mozzarella, cut in thin slices

about 1 cup “Faux”-lognese sauce, see below, or your pasta sauce of choice

Directions

1.  Preheat your oven to 425ºF.Eggplant shells

2.  Scoop out the flesh from the eggplant, leaving approximately a half-inch thick “shell”.  Reserve the eggplant for the sauce, if making.

3.  Sprinkle a little salt inside the eggplant shells, and flip them upside down on a paper towel to draw out some of the water for about 5-10 minutes.Cheese filling

4.  Blot out some of the water from the shell, and place them cut side down in a glass baking dish sprayed with olive oil or cooking spray.

5.  Bake for about 15 minutes, or until eggplant starts to become soft.

6. While the eggplant is “crying” and baking, make the cheese mixture by combining the ricotta cheese, 1/2 t dried parsley, parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper, to taste, in a small bowl.Stuffing the eggplants

7.  Remove the eggplant from the oven.

8.  Spoon about 2 T sauce into the bottom of each eggplant.  Divide the cheese mixture evenly between the shells, and top with another 2 T sauce on each.

9.  Lay the mozzarella on top of the stuffed eggplants, and sprinkle with the parmesan cheese.Eggplants in oven

10.  Baked for 15-20 minutes, or until heated through and the cheese in bubbly and browned.

“Faux”-logenese Sauce

Eggplant reserved from preparing the “shells”, cut into about 1/4 in. cubes.  If you are just making the sauce, 1 medium eggplant, or about 1 1/2-2 c chopped eggplant will do

1/2 T olive oil

1/2 medium onion, chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

1/2 t dried oregano and 1 t dried parsley (which I used), or 1 1/2 t Italian seasoning

salt and pepper, to taste

1 T fresh basil

Directions

1.  Sprinkle the eggplant cubes with a little salt and let sit for 5-10 minutes (make it cry again).  Squeeze out the excess liquid using a paper towel or kitchen towel.

2.  Heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat.  Add the onion, and saute until translucent and soft.  Add the garlic and cook for another minute.

3.  Add in the eggplant, oregano and parsley, and salt and pepper, to taste.

4.  Simmer until it is heated through, or longer, if desired.  Just before serving or stuffing the eggplants, stir in the basil.

Enjoy!

Eggplant on plate close