Monday, September 26, 2011

Green tomato chutney

This chutney was my answer to the green tomatoes that have been hanging on my plant, but not turning red. Since it's getting cooler, I figured I should try to do something with them before we lost them. I left a couple on the plant, just in case, because the past couple of days have been a little warmer than usual... maybe we will get another red tomato or two to enjoy before the season is officially over. This chutney has a lot of spices in it as well as vinegar, salt, and brown sugar. It would be really good over some pork or chicken along with some rice. It would even be good as a dip for some corn chips. As with any chutney, the opportunities are endless.

This recipe yielded about 3 cups of chutney. I put half in a jar in the refrigerator and the other half in a freezer container and froze it. I wanted to preserve and store some of the tomatoes, but I didn't have a ton - only one plant. If you have a lot of green tomatoes, you can easily adjust the recipe to make a large batch to freeze more. 

Friday, September 23, 2011

Buckwheat pancakes

As the weather begins to cool and the leaves are starting to have hints of orange and yellow, I fear I am getting back into "pancake mode" on Sunday mornings. You would think that I would have run out of pancake ideas by now, but that doesn't seem to be the case. It's OK though, I mean, that's what Sunday mornings are for - leisurely coffee and a big breakfast.

There are a couple of things I just don't understand when it comes to pancakes. For one, I don't understand why more people don't make pancakes from scratch (i.e., why do so many people make them from a box or a pourable plastic container)? Pancakes are so easy to make and so versatile - it's fun to try out different kinds. They are also a great way to get kids to help you and get interested in their food and cooking. Also, I think it should probably be against the law in the state of NY (and probably VT) to use anything but real maple syrup. Why do we feel compelled to buy fake flavored high fructose corn syrup when we are surrounded by maple producers?  

Monday, September 19, 2011

Beef and wild mushroom stew

Autumn is in the air and I love it! As soon as the temperature begins to drop down, I'm ready for stews, soups, and all other comfort foods. I'm already grabbing up butternut squash, beets, cabbage, and more. I was in the mood to kick-off my cool weather cooking with a hearty and earthy stew. Full of beef and mushrooms on top of some creamy mashed potatoes - it was a perfect way to begin the season! These little baby carrots are not something I would normally use, but I got the for free and figured this would be a good way to use them up. Any carrots would work well for this (I just bought some orange, purple, and white ones at the farmer's market that I'm looking forward to eating). The mushrooms were from the farmer's market - a jar of dried wild chanterelles supplemented by some my husband had foraged.

This stew is something that you make on the weekend so you can let it slow cook for a few hours until the beef almost melts in your mouth. This recipe will serve about four people. 

Friday, September 16, 2011

Spanish rice

Did anyone else out there love a certain boxed rice product as a kid that had a "Spanish rice" flavor full of tomatoes and black olives? Well, I did. My mom didn't make that boxed stuff very often; for me it was always thought of as a treat. I thought about this rice recently when I was making some summer vegetable enchiladas and decided to try to make it for myself. I worked from memory trying to remember the flavors that were in the rice I ate as a kid - black olives, onions, tomatoes... I think the rice turned out pretty good and is likely much healthier than the boxed brand I remember. I used water because I wanted to keep this meal vegetarian. You can use chicken stock or vegetable stock in place (or half water/half stock). This will add more flavor to the rice, but I thought it was good the way it was. The fresh tomatoes help to make it sweet (and used up some of the romas that our plant has been producing). This rice is a perfect side dish for tacos, enchiladas, chicken with salsa, or even on a burrito. It will serve four as a side. 

Monday, September 12, 2011

Zucchini bread

You know it's the end of summer when you begin making zucchini bread to try to use up more of your zucchini! I have always loved zucchini bread; it's one of those classic treats. I'm sure there are many of you out there that have your favorite zucchini bread recipes. I enjoy how the bread uses a summer vegetable with some classic fall spices. It is a nice transition from summer to fall. This quick bread goes well with your morning coffee or tea, or as a snack anytime of day - I like it with a glass of apple cider.

I used the batter to make one giant loaf of bread in a standard loaf pan (I couldn't find my other loaf pan!), but you can cut the batter in half to make two smaller loaves (just cut the cooking time down). Most recipes use 2+ cups of sugar, but I like to cut the amount down. I find that it is sweet enough.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Thai basil chicken

Thai basil chicken (sometimes called Pad Kapow or Pad Krapow) is one of my go-to dishes to order when I am at a Thai restaurant. I love the sauce with its sweet and spicy notes and Thai basil is one of my favorite herbs. Since we have Thai basil in our herb garden this year, I set out to recreate my restaurant favorite at home. I've made this twice now and both times I've found it to be very successful and similar in flavor to what I've eaten out. I read a lot of different sauce recipes and messed around with it until I found the flavor combination I was looking for. This dish is packed full of flavor and is quick and easy to make. I hope that you have the opportunity to get Thai basil where you are so that you can try it. I used chicken thighs and peppers in my dish because that's what I always see in the restaurant. Some recipes use ground chicken or pork, and I'm not sure what the "authentic" recipe uses.

My husband and I ate all of this the first night - no lunch leftovers. I think it should have fed at least three people though, but it was just so good (or maybe we were just really hungry that night). Serve this dish with some Jasmine or regular rice.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Healing Foods event round-up: Zucchini and summer squash

Thank you to everyone who submitted their recipes to August's Healing Foods event which featured zucchini and summer squash. I chose zucchini for my August guest host spot. Zucchini is very abundant right now as we are right in the height of summer and zucchini production in my area. Did you know that zucchini has many health benefits? Zucchini, and all summer squash, are great sources of magnesium, vitamin C, zinc, and other antioxidants. Summer squash are known for their anti-inflammatory properties, blood sugar regulation, and other healthful properties.