Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Jerk-roasted Sweet Potatoes

One of the things I love about fall is the necessity for warm and hearty meals. Fall is the perfect time for roasting things, and since I obviously don't roast much in the way of meat, vegetables get my full attention. There are so many fall vegetables that lend themselves to a nice slow roast in the oven. And the best part about it is that you can throw them in the oven while you prepare the rest of the meal, having an effortless side dish in a matter of time.

I recently picked up some tasty jerk seasoning paste at the grocery store and wanted to try it in a few ways. I have some other ideas up my sleeve, but I wanted to try it with sweet potatoes first. What a delicious and easy combination! There are only 3 ingredients and in a matter of 30 minutes, you have yourself a delicious side dish, perfect for any fall meal.

Jerk-roasted Sweet Potatoes

Jerk-roasted Sweet Potatoes
Serves 4

4 cups peeled sweet potatoes, diced into 1/2" cubes
1/8 c olive oil
1/4-1/3 c jerk seasoning paste*

Preheat oven to 425. In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients. Place in a lightly-oiled baking dish. Put into the heated oven and roast for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve immediately.

If you can't find jerk seasoning paste in your grocery store, here are some recipes for making your own.

Looking for more roasted vegetable ideas??
*Roasted Vegetables 101
*Roasted Potatoes with Green Olives and Caper Vinaigrette
*Harissa-roasted Potatoes
*Lemon Feta Roasted Beets
*Not-your-Mama's Brussel Sprouts

Monday, September 22, 2008

And the Winner is...

Wow - thanks for all of the comments and ideas! It was great to read all of the comments of those of you who are just becoming vegetarian or those who cook for vegetarians. there were also some great ideas in there. A special thanks to Penny who contributed this great idea:

I put the light coconut milk in an icecube tray, freeze it, and pop out the "cubes" into a plastic bag. It is surprising how many recipes do very well without one full can of high-cholesterol-inducing coconut milk. All the taste, less health risk. Another interesting way to serve kale is to roll the de-stemmed leaves like a cigar, finely slice --- you get thin shreds that are excellent tossed on top of boiled & buttered potatoes...yummy.

And the winner, thanks to random.org, is Erin Murphy from What I Made Yesterday! She stated in her comment that they are starting to eat more vegetarian, so I'm sure this recipe will be perfect for ideas and recipes.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

A Smokin' Saturday

Smoked Salmon

So on my most recent trip to the Italian Market, I stopped at one of my favorite kitchen stores, Fantes. It's absolutely fantastic. It's tiny and it's got this treacherous ramp inside that is terrifying to walk up/down in heels, but it's also extremely well-stocked.

I've been wanting a smoker for a long time, so when I saw one on sale, I immediately picked it up. It sat around for a few weeks before I could devote the time to try and use it, but I finally got the chance to do so this afternoon.

Obviously, the first thing that comes to mind with a smoker (at least for me) is salmon, so I immediately went and picked up a filet of salmon. I lightly seasoned it with salt and pepper and threw it in for about 20 minutes.

It came out absolutely perfect. Smoky, tender, and delicious! I can't wait to see what else I can smoke.

Have a great rest of the weekend and don't forget to throw your name in the hat for "Totally Vegetarian."

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Potato-Kale Stew AND Another Book Giveaway!

One of the perks of having a food blog is that I often get copies of cookbooks to review. Obviously as a vegaquarian (or pescetarian, if you prefer), a lot of them are vegetarian in nature.


I recently received a copy of "Totally Vegetarian" in the mail and I must say I'm impressed. Now i'm sure the meat eaters are tuning out here, but stay with me. This cookbook has plenty of solid vegetarian fare that is sure to please any die-hard carnivore. The book is also chock-full of all sorts of information about ingredients and cooking tips and is definitely a very informative read. Scroll down to the bottom for how you can win a copy of this book for your collection!

I decided to try one of the recipes and wanted to try a soup in anticipation of the fall weather that's headed our way. The Potato-Chard Stew sounded absolutely fantastic, so I immediately jotted down the ingredients and headed to the grocery store.

Potato Kale Stew I

Wow - very very tasty. I did make a few changes, such as using kale instead of chard, but wow, is this good! It's very hearty, so it'd be perfect for a chillier night when all you want is something warm and filling.

Potato-Kale Stew
Serves 4

3 tbsp olive oil
2 cups diced onion
1/4 tsp salt
1 medium sweet potato, cut into 2" pieces
1 yukon gold potato, cut into 2" pieces
1/2 red bell pepper, cut into 1/2" dice
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 (14 oz) can coconut milk
2 cups sliced fresh kale leaves

In large pot, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add onion and salt, and saute 3-4 minutes until it starts to soften. Add potatoes, bell pepper, garlic, ginger, and spices, and saute for a minute or two. Add coconut milk and bring to a boil. Lower heat, cover, and simmer 20-25 minutes, until potatoes are tender. Add kale leaves, remove from heat, and allow to sit for a minute or two for kale to soften. Serve and enjoy!

Want a copy of this cookbook for your very own??
Simply leave me a comment by midnite on Sunday, September 21st. I'll pick a winner at random on Monday, September 22nd.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Okra Curry

So this weekend I finally made it to Eastern Market here in Lancaster. Wow - I was very impressed. Although it was fairly small, it had such a "grass roots" feel to it that was very warm and welcoming. There were some produce stands, as well as some great ethnic food stands. There is an Ethiopian stand that I absolutely must return to, and the Moroccan stand is also next on my list. There were also some great jewelry vendors.

I stopped at one of the produce stands and saw some lovely fresh okra. I love okra, but I've actually never prepared it. I immediately grabbed some and brought it home to brainstorm. I've already made a jambalaya with okra, but I wanted the okra at center stage.

This is a great recipe. Not only is it amazingly tasty, but it is quick and easy to make. You can have this on the table in about 25-30 minutes. It's also very hearty, and if served over rice, this would make the perfect vegetarian entree.

Okra Curry I

Okra Curry
Serves 3-4

2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp fresh ginger, minced
3 cups fresh (or frozen) okra, sliced
2/3 cup red bell pepper, chopped
1 1/2 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp salt
1 (8 oz) can crushed tomatoes
1 cup water

In medium saucepan, heat olive oil. Add onion and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add garlic and ginger, and saute for another minute or two. Add okra, red pepper, curry powder, coriander, and salt, and saute another minute. Add tomatoes and water and bring to a boil. Lower heat, cover, and simmer 15-20 minutes, until okra is tender. Serve over rice.

Looking for more curry??

*Mushroom Curry
*Coconut Lentil Curry
*Curried Lo Mein

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Thai Curry Seafood Bruschetta

One of my favorite local restaurants is Checkers, a lovely little bistro. The food is usually excellent, the service and staff are exceptional, and the atmosphere is cozy and unpretentious. They have a portion of their menu dedicated to small plates, and that's usually what I pick from. One of my favorites is their Seafood Bruschetta. It's clams, mussels, scallops, and shrimp, poached in a lovely buttery broth, and served over grilled bread. It's absolutely fantastic! What's ironic about this dish is that it's the first dish I ever had at the restaurant when it first opened, and I absolutely did not like it. I think part of it was the fact that I was expecting more of a traditional bruschetta, and secondly, the dish was overcooked.

Obviously, it wasn't enough to keep me away, from either the dish or the establishment. I've ordered it since quite a few times, and it seems to get better and better.

For this dish, I wanted to try and recreate the seafood mixture part, but kick up the flavor of the broth. This time, I've used a mixture of flounder, scallops, shrimp, and mussels, but you can easily mix and match any seafood you want. I added some coconut milk and red curry paste for a serious dose of taste. The fresh cilantro tossed in at the end adds just the right kick.

The best part of this dish?? It's one of those "Ace In the Hole" recipes. I've talked about this before, but every cook needs an arsenal of recipes that can be whipped up in the least amount of time possible, uses ingredients that are usually stocked in your kitchen, yet looks like you spent hours slaving over the stove. This recipe has some serious "Impress" factor, and is perfect to whip up when you are serving guests, or better yet, that special someone.

Thai Curry Seafood Bruschetta V

Thai Curry Seafood Bruschetta
Serves 4

2 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 cups diced plum tomatoes
1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 (15 oz) cans coconut milk
1 1/2 tbsp red curry paste
3 lb assorted seafood
1/4 c fresh cilantro, chopped
salt to taste

In large pot, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add tomatoes, ginger, and garlic, and saute for 1 minute. Add coconut milk and curry paste, stir well, and bring to a boil. Add seafood and lower heat to a simmer. (It may be necessary to add seafood in stages, judging by how fast it cooks - please see chart at the end) Simmer until seafood is done. Add cilantro, stir well, and served with crusty bread.

The following are guidelines on roughly how long my seafood took to cook:

5-7 minutes
Large clams
Large scallops
Large shrimp

3-5 minutes
Fish (flounder, tilapia, etc), cut into 1-2" pieces
Smaller shrimp
Bay scallops

Monday, September 08, 2008

Exotic Mushroom Pate

I'll be the first to admit that this isn't the most appetizing thing I've ever photographed. But I will also tell you that the flavor of this pate is absolutely delicious.

I used a combination of shiitake, straw, oyster, and baby bella mushrooms, but you could easily substitute whatever you happen to have. Not only is this recipe extremely delicious, but it's also extremely easy to make. From start to finish, it took me about 15 minutes. That's some quick work!

Serve with bagel crips, crackers, or everything flatbread(as seen here). This would also make a great sandwich filling or would be a fantastic little spread to tuck in the center of an omelet.

Exotic Mushroom Pate

Exotic Mushroom Pate

2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp diced shallot
2 cups chopped mushrooms
pinch of salt
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 oz cream cheese

In a saucepan, heat 2 tbsp olive oil. Add shallots and saute for 30 seconds. Add mushrooms, sprinkle with a pinch or two of salt, and saute for 4-5 minutes, until almost soft. Add thyme leaves and saute for an additional minute. Remove from heat and spoon mushroom mixture into a small food processor. Add cream cheese and process until smooth. Add balsamic vinegar, salt to taste, and pulse until mixed in. Chill, serve, and enjoy!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Chipotle-Coriander Grilled Peaches

So it's definitely the end days of the summer growing season, which means gardens and orchards are bursting with fresh produce and fruits that are simply amazing. I'm especially excited about the orchards as this is the first year I'm actually enjoying stone fruit.

My parents picked up some fabulous peaches last week and sent a few juicy ones over to my house to enjoy. Wow - I had completely forgotten how fantastic they were! I wanted to do something fun with them and thought grilling them might be good.

Seriously, these are amazing. There are only 4 ingredients and it literally takes about 5 minutes to throw together and grill. These would be a wonderful dessert and fabulous ending to a end-of-summer cookout or dinner. Although I've topped them with a bit of creme fraiche whipped with a tiny bit of honey, these would be fantastic served with vanilla ice cream. The ground chipotle chili adds just *touch* of heat, so don't be afraid to give it a try.

Grilled Peaches III

Chipotle-Coriander Grilled Peaches

4 large peaches, washed
1/4 c light brown sugar
1/4 tsp ground chipotle powder
1/4 tsp ground coriander

Slice peaches into 1/4" thick slices. In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, chipotle, and coriander. Sprinkle a substantial amount of brown sugar mixture on peaches and pat onto slices until coated. Repeat with remaining slices. Heat grill or grill pan to medium-high heat and grill peaches, 2-3 minutes each side. Serve immediately.

Monday, September 01, 2008

The End of Summer

It's Labor Day, which is the last "official" day of summer. It's hard to believe that summer is over and fall is right around the corner. So in the spirit of the last "official summer picnic" day, I thought I'd do a quick post with some last-minute ideas to make and take to your gatherings.


This Edamole is a perfect dip to take, for a few reasons. First off, it's a much lower-fat option to the full-fat guacamole. Secondly, this is a great way to introduce people to edamame, since there are still a few out there who haven't tried it yet. Thirdly and most importantly, it's super easy to whip up!

Red Pepper and Feta Spread

If you're looking for something a little more elegant, try this Red Pepper and Feta Spread. Pipe it into cucumber cups or endive for an elegant appetizer, or spread it on a tortilla, roll it up, and slice into pinwheels for a quick and easy nosh.

Chili Lime Peanuts

Salty snacks are always good to have on hand for guests to nibble on. These Chili Lime Peanuts are perfect as they give a perfect salty/sweet combination. Or try one of the other flavors.

Cucumber Salad II

Looking for something more substantial, yet still easy to make? Whip up this Cucumber Salad in minutes. Not only is it super quick and super tasty, but it also uses up some of that end-of-summer produce bounty.

Gingered 3-Seed Dressing

This is absolutely one of my favorite dishes to make to take to picnics and cookouts. This Slaw with 3-Seed Dressing is very tasty and loaded with flavor.

Potato Salad with Chili-Cumin Vinaigrette

Although this was posted on Memorial Day, it is definitely tasty for Labor Day too! This Potato Salad with Chili-Cumin Dressing is extremely tasty. It's full of flavor and provides just enough spiciness to warm you up. Go ahead, give it a try!

Chai-spiced Roasted Bananas

Looking for something sweet?? These Chai-roasted Bananas would be perfect to serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. They are quick, easy, and extremely tasty.