Wow, we are a couple of blog slackers. I don’t know what Sara’s excuse is, but I’ve been in a major cooking rut for quite some time. Cooking for 2 kids and no other adults just got depressing. But…good news! My other half got a new job and is home for dinner at least 4 nights a week now, which has breathed new life into my menu planning.
This week I tried a new recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks, Simple Vegetarian Pleasures by Jeanne Lemlin. Scratch that. This is THE favorite cookbook in my house. Every single recipe is easy to prepare and full of flavor. There is seriously not one thing we’ve tried that we weren’t happy with. The recipe I made this week was Rice and Leek Gratin. It takes a little advance planning because you need to have 2-3 cups of cooked rice on hand, but is also a great way to use leftover rice. I did made a few modifications to the recipe and would make a few more if I made it again, which I’m sure I will because everyone loved it. One note, you could easily add any other veggies to this. I felt like the leeks alone would be a bit blah so I threw in some mushrooms, and I could picture many other additions–carrots, broccoli, etc–depending on what’s in your garden or market.
1 cup rice uncooked
2 1/2 cups stock or water (I used veg stock)
2-3 leeks, cleaned, trimmed and thinly sliced.
1 tsp fresh chopped thyme
1 egg, beaten
1 cup milk
1 cup shredded gruyere or other swiss cheese (I used jarlsberg because I’m cheap!)
1/4 cup breadcrumbs mixed with 1 tsp olive oil
Cook the rice. I like to toast mine in a teeny bit of butter before adding the stock.
Saute the leeks in a bit of olive oil until tender. Add any other veggies you’re using. Stir in the thyme and let mixture cool down to room temp.
Mix the veggies in with the rice. Stir in the milk, egg, and some salt and pepper. Stir in the shredded cheese. Press rice mixture into a 2 quart casserole. Sprinkle the bread crumbs over the top. Bake at 375 for about 30 mintutes, until the breadcrumbs are toasted.
Zucchini is notorious for being overabundant. There are stories of people desperate to get rid of them, dropping them off on neighbors steps, abandoning them by the side of the road. For years I’ve heard these stories and wondered “Who are these people?,” because squash borers and squash bugs destroy our plants most years before we get tired of zucchini. Not this year.
With a veggie bin in the fridge full of zukes, I’ve been looking for new things to sneak them into. A few weeks ago a friend served me ricotta pie from the Moosewood Cookbook and I found it quite yummy.
With a couple of modifications (no crust, tapioca flour), it’s gluten free. And though I call it ricotta quiche, it’s not really eggy, a plus for non-egg lovers.
It would work with a number of vegetables, but right now I’m filling it up with zucchini.
Ricotta Quiche with Zucchini
- 1 lb. ricotta cheese
- 3 eggs, beaten
- 1 zucchini, sliced in thin rounds
- 1 small onion, diced
- 2 tsp. fresh chopped basil
- 3 Tbsp. all-purpose or tapioca flour
- 1/4 c. Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 c. grated sharp cheddar
- dash of nutmeg
- 1 c. sour cream
- Preheat the oven to 375° F.
- Saute the onion in a little olive oil. Add the zucchini slices. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Continue to cook until both are soft, but not browned. Set aside and allow to cool slightly.
- Mix the ricotta, egg, Parmesan and cheddar cheeses, flour, and herbs together. (I used tapioca only to make it gluten-free. If that doesn’t matter, regular flour works just fine.)
- Add the zucchini and onion and mix well.
- Spread the mixture into a 10-inch pie plate.
- Cover with cream cheese and sprinkle top liberally with paprika.
- Bake for 40–45 minutes. Let stand for at least 10 minutes before serving.
I found this worked well at a number of temperatures. We had it about 45 minutes after it was done and it was quite good. I’ve had it cold from the fridge, also good, but room temp or above is probably best.
I’ll start with a confession. I haven’t made this. I just ate it last night. And asked for seconds. And poured the drippings onto my plate. And licked the spoon.
Here’s the “recipe” I got verbally. As soon I get out to buy some peaches, I’ll try it.
Antigone’s Grilled Peaches and Cream
- peaches, skinned and halved
- 1 block cream cheese
- pecans, finely chopped
- Grill peaches. (She used an indoor grill, though I imagine you could do it on a regular grill.)
- Arrange in a single layer in a pan or on a platter (the platter should be able to catch a little juice).
- Mix cream cheese, honey, cinnamon, and pecans to taste.
- When peaches have cooled a little, but are still warm, spread the cream cheese mix on top.
I had this served with ice cream, which sounded like a good idea, but the ice cream seemed superfluous. It doesn’t really need anything, but it would probably be very good over French toast or a waffle.
One of the things I look forward to when our favorite farm stand opens each summer is the fresh Georgia peaches they bring in. These are not your average grocery store peach–there is nothing like them! My two year old eats at least one a day, sometimes two. Is there anything sweeter than a toddler with a face full of a juicy, ripe peach?
That’s what I thought.
But this week, I bought too many peaches. Since I had four that were starting to go bad I decided to try peach cobbler. I have never even eaten a cobbler to my knowledge so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I checked out a few recipes and this is what I came up with:
1. Melt 1 stick of butter and pour it into the bottom of a 2 quart baking dish.
2. In a separate bowl, mix together 1 cup sugar, 1 cup flour, 2 tsp. baking powder, 1/2 tsp salt.
3. Stir in 1 cup of milk and 1 tsp. of vanilla.
4. Pour this mixture over the melted butter.
5. Toss 4-5 slices peaches with 2 tsp sugar and 1/2 tsp cinnamon.
6. Bake at 375 for about 35 minutes, until the crust is brown and pulling away from the sides of the pan.
YUM. I always imagined cobbler to be more of a biscuity crust but it wasn’t. The batter rises over the peaches and forms this gooey, sticky, chewy crust. My 5 year old, who was not excited about this dessert because he doesn’t like peaches, asked if we could “always” have this for dessert. The only thing missing was vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.
I’m not really a fan of cauliflower. Still, when we were at our weekly potluck, I thought I’d try the cauliflower casserole. It was cheesy—how bad could it be?
I loved it, and K. loved it.
A few days later when a friend offered me a cauliflower from her garden, I gladly took it and did my own take of her casserole. It comes together pretty quickly. We had it with maple-mustard glazed grilled pork chops.
Cheesy cauliflower casserole
- 1 cauliflower
- mustard (enough to coat cauliflower) (I used Plochman’s Natural Stoneground)
- 1-2 Tbsp. mustard seeds (yellow or black)
- 1 onion chopped
- sharp cheddar cheese (to taste) (I used Cabot hunter sharp)
- Preheat oven to 350° F.
- Remove leaves and any tough center stem of the cauliflower. Chop up the rest into small to medium-sized chunks. Steam until just tender.
- Coat cauliflower with mustard and place in a casserole dish.
- Saute onion in a little butter or olive oil. Toss in the mustard seeds. Cook until the onion is soft, but not browned. Add to the cauliflower and mix.
- Sprinkle liberally with chunks of cheese or shredded cheese.
- Bake until cheese is melted.
You can vary the flavor of this quite a bit by using different mustards or different cheeses.
This meal reminded me of the kind of thing Sara and I would have come up with together if we still lived down the road from each other. (Sara would have had the pizza dough rising and I would have had the spinach and feta.) I threw it together last night because I wasn’t in the mood for traditional pizza, which I was making for the kids.
I split the pizza dough I had in half, and let N. do his thing on the the boys’ pizza. I sauteed some onion, garlic, and a bag of fresh spinach from my favorite local farm store, squeezed some lemon juice over the whole thing, threw in some crumbled feta (I used fat free, I don’t notice a difference), and folded it into the dough. Baked for about 25 mins at 450. It was delicious–flavorful, satisfying, and not too heavy. Great simple meal!
Since it’s just me and the kids 5 nights out of 7 I am always on the hunt for easy home cooked recipes that the kids will eat and I will enjoy, too. My 5 year old especially is pretty picky and almost always whines and says “ewe” to just about anything home cooked that I put in front of him. There is nothing more depressing than cooking for yourself and 2 little kids and having them reject what you made. To avoid the battle, I end up falling back on “kid” food–mac & cheese from a box, pizza, grilled cheese, etc.
This week my friend sent me a slow cooker recipe for sloppy “janes,” or vegetarian sloppy joes, claiming even her pickiest kid gobbled it up. I decided to give it a shot yesterday. It was the perfect night for a crock pot recipe because we had swimming class till 5:30 so it was great to come home and not have to scramble to get dinner going.And…drum roll…both kids chowed it! I think they liked the sweetness of the sauce, but could it be any more nutritious?
1 chopped onion
2-3 cloves garlic
1 cup each diced carrots and celery
2/3 cups each brown lentils and brown rice–uncooked
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp mustard
salt and red pepper to taste
30 oz stock
1 15 oz can tomato sauce or pureed tomatoes
Throw everything in the crock pot except the tomatoes. Cook on high for 4 hours. Dump in the tomatoes and cook for 30 mins more. Serve it on hard rolls or it totally works as a rice & lentil bowl meal, too. Next time I might sneak some pureed greens in.