Potatoes, eggs, peas and cheese


My friend Erin made this recipe for me over the weekend (a favorite from her childhood), and I realized this morning that I had both leftover potato fries and peas, so I made it for myself!

It is certainly not the most beautiful of dishes, but it’s a very satisfying breakfast that tastes great with a spoonful of salsa or a few shots of hot sauce.

You can make it in any amount, depending on what you have around. Just figure about one tablespoon of butter for each medium sized potato.

Potatoes, eggs, peas and cheese

1 Tablespoon butter
1 baked potato (cooked) cut into chunks
1/2 cup cooked peas
2 eggs
1/4 cup shredded cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the butter in a skillet over medium heat. When it’s melted, toss in the potatoes and let them warm up for a few minutes. Add in the peas. Next, crack in the eggs and quickly stir them around so the yolk and white scramble together. Season with salt and pepper. Turn off the heat, mix in the cheese, and serve.

Quinoa with Corn and Scallions

This recipe has been a long time coming. I’ve meant to experiment with cooking quinoa for ages because I’ve read and written articles about how great it is for you in terms of protein and fiber. For vegetarians, it’s even more important to eat foods like this because they make you feel satiated.

The only time I’ve ever really had it I didn’t like it at all. So I was a bit skeptical of cooking it. But I found this recipe in my new “Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone” cookbook, and it sounded delish so I made it tonight.

It was awesome! I had two helpings. After which I was so full I couldn’t dream of eating dessert. Yessss.

I did not have fresh corn and I tripled the cheese (come on, it was only 1/3 cup), but other than that I followed the recipe. Well, except I used no-chicken broth instead of the stock it called for. I am a hopeless recipe changer.

So here’s my version. Make it ASAP; it is lovely. And do throw in whatever other veggies you have around to make it even healthier.

Quinoa with Corn and Scallions

1 bag frozen corn
2 cups no-chicken broth
1 cup quinoa, thoroughly rinsed (very important!)
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Nuke the corn. While that’s cooking heat the broth in a pot to boiling. Add the rinsed quinoa along with the salt and pepper, cover and reduce to medium, cooking for 15 minutes. After that remove from heat and let sit 5 minutes more.

Meanwhile, heat a saucepan to medium and melt the butter. Add the chopped scallions and corn and saute for a few minutes, just until the corn starts to brown. Add the corn mixture to the quinoa, mix well and top with cheese.

Holy Guacamole

Because Mike and I felt like having a little fiesta in this 30-below weather, and because avocados were so surprisingly ripe at Hy-Vee today, I give you the only recipe for guacamole you’ll ever need.

But first! I give you my most frequently used spice blend, which you’ll need for this recipe, and it goes like this:

3 T. ground cumin
3 T. ground chili powder
1 T. Celtic sea salt

Why so little salt? That particular kind goes a looong way because it’s in a very natural form, and that’s a good thing, right? I buy my spices from Penzeys, or at Mexican or Indian grocery stores where they usually have a wide array of affordable bulk spices.

Guacamole

3 ripe avocados
2 cloves garlic, minced
About 1/8 of an onion, diced
As much fresh jalapeno as you can handle, diced (I use maybe 1/4 of one, seeded)
The juice of half a lemon
2 T. of your spice blend
10 grape tomatoes, halved, or half a seeded tomato, diced

As you can see, this is a very imprecise recipe, so if you have more avocado, add a little more of each ingredient. The important thing is to use fresh ingredients. If you get a little too much garlic, so what?

Scoop out your avocados and dice them up. Squeeze in the lemon juice so your avocados don’t turn brown.

Add the garlic and mash it all together with a fork.

Add the onions and jalapenos, then the tomatoes.

Mix in the spice blend. Taste it. If it needs a little more seasoning, adjust it here.

And for God sakes don’t feel guilty about eating guacamole. Avocados are full of good fats. This recipe is vegan, raw even. If you’re not going to eat it with other veggies just go easy on the chips. Lots of guacamole on a little chip. Cerveza. Tortilla soup (recipe coming). Perfect dinner for a ridiculously cold night.

Wild rice stuffed acorn squash

This would be a great recipe for a Thanksgiving table. It has all the flavors of a turkey stuffing, but it’s vegan — with protein coming from wild rice and ground pecans. The consistency is like mashed potatoes.

I can’t say I was a big squash fan (other than grilled zucchini and yellow squash in the summer) before this recipe. The only time I’ve really cooked with it was when I spent 3 hours making Ina Garten’s from-scratch pot pies. It had pieces of butternut squash inside, but I don’t think they got cooked enough to melt in your mouth. They were just sort of stringy and odd. But in this recipe the squash is basically obliterated by heat and caramelized with a sweet crust – yum.

Wild rice stuffed acorn squash

Adapted from Epicurean

2 small acorn squash
1/2 cup wild rice
1 1/2 cups water
3 tablespoons fresh sage (or 1 dried)
1 teaspoon thyme
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 onion finely chopped
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
1 teaspoon black pepper
pinch of ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup pecans plus pecan pieces for topping

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Oil a baking sheet (I suggest one with a Silpat on top). Cut each squash in half as shown. Scoop out the guts and place cut-side down on the baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes or until the flesh is soft. Reduce heat to 375.

In a saucepan, cook the wild rice in the water, simmering until it is tender and starting to split. You may have to add a little more water or drain some off. Depends on your rice.

Finely chop the sage. In a saute pan, heat the olive oil and saute the carrot, onion and sage over medium heat until softened. Stir in the thyme, marjoram, pepper, nutmeg and salt and remove pan from heat.

When the squash halves are cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh with a big spoon, leaving a bit behind so the skins stay in tact. (I tore two of them, but they still held well enough together). In a large bowl, mash the flesh with a potato masher. Use a food processor to grind the pecans finely. Add the ground pecans, sauteed vegetables and wild rice to the squash bowl and mix thoroughly. Stuff the mixture into the shells and sprinkle with pecan pieces. Place in a casserole dish big enough for them all to fit snugly. Bake for 30 minutes.

Feel good about a really healthy dinner.

Almost-all local ratatouille

Ratatouille is one of those dishes that is so incredibly simple it doesn’t seem possible for it to be good, but it’s that simplicity that makes it even better than most dishes. And what I think makes it even better is using ingredients that have been pulled from the ground just hours before.

We bought quite a bit at the farmers market this week: green beans, red potatoes, blueberries, peppers, eggplant, carrots… So it just seemed like together with the tomatoes from our garden we had the makings of a fresh all-vegetable dish. In fact, the only vegetable ingredient that was not local was the garlic. I mixed red and orange tomatoes from our garden and got to use two of my favorite kitchen items: the cutting board with a drain and the soft peeler. Nice!

I used this recipe for “Simple Ratatouille” that I cut out of a newspaper. It says it’s adapted from Julia Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.” I’ve used it before, and I think it’s just about perfect.

You need:

1/2 pound zucchini, sliced into 1/8-inch slices
1/2 pound eggplant, sliced into 3/8-inch slices
3 T. olive oil
1/2 pound thinly sliced yellow onions
1 sliced green bell pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and juiced
3 T. fresh parsley or basil
Salt and pepper to taste

1. First of all, salt your eggplant slices, let them sit for an hour and then rinse them off. It really helps with the bitterness.
2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and lay out the eggplant and zucchini slices (you may need 2 but I squished ’em all on one). Brush lightly with olive oil and bake until slightly brown on each side.
3. In a skillet, cook onions and peppers in 2 T. olive oil for about 10 minutes. Stir in garlic and season to taste.

Slice tomato pulp into 3/8-inch strips. Place tomato slices over onions and peppers.

4. Cover the skillet and cook over low for 5 minutes. Uncover, baste with the tomato juices, raise the heat and boil for several minutes, until most of the juice has evaporated.
5. Put 1/3 of tomato mixture in bottom of a small casserole dish. Sprinkle with 1 T. herbs. Arrange half of the eggplant and zucchini on top, more tomatoes and herbs, then the rest of the zucchini/eggplant and finally the rest of the tomatoes. Cover and simmer for 25 minutes.

We ate it with a brown rice mixture and thought it was delicious and incredibly healthy. And local, of course.

Tofu-Wild Rice Casserole

Over the weekend my sister graduated from college, and after the sweltering ceremony we all headed to a big buffet, which blessedly had plenty of vegetarian food. The very last item was a casserole made with different kinds of rice, tofu cubes, onions and red peppers. And even though it had been languishing there for a while by the time I got to it, I really liked it. So I tried to make it.

We have an abundance of wild rice in our cupboard, thanks to a few trips to northern Minnesota. I always forget it’s back there in a giant sealed jar, just waiting to be enjoyed, if only the cook had the patience to wait 45 minutes for it.

Fortunately, my experiment with this recipe — baking it in the oven with vegetable broth — worked beautifully. And it kept me from worrying about what stage of boiling over my pot was in.

It’s kind of hard to write this up as an exact recipe, so I’ll just tell you what I did.

I put a cup of brown rice and 3/4 cup of wild rice in a 9X13 casserole dish. Then I added about three cups of vegetable broth and a tablespoon of butter. I covered it up with foil and put it in a 375-degree oven to bake. I sauteed about half an onion and half a red pepper (cut into strips) in a little oil on the stovetop until the onions turned translucent. Then I set them aside and fried some tofu rectangles (maybe an inch and a half long and 1/4-inch thick) in more oil. After about 45 minutes, I added the onions, peppers and tofu to the rice, and about a cup more broth. I baked it all another 45 minutes, then seasoned it with salt and pepper and called it a casserole. It still seemed to be lacking something in flavor, so I added a little more butter and salt at the end. Overall, it was really delicious, and full of healthy grains and tofu.

Did I have pie afterwards? Of course.

3-Bean Chipotle Chili

You’d never believe a dish this hearty was vegan. Well, until you put the crackers and cheese in it, but who’s counting?

I think we planned to have this last week because it was so damn cold. Again. We just needed as much comfort food as we could get. But then we ran out of time to cook it and had to make it today when it was sunny and beautiful.

The secret, I think, is to use crushed tomatoes instead of whole or cut tomatoes. And then mix in a few chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, as many as you can handle, for extra flavor.

3-Bean Chipotle Chili

2 T. olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 zucchini, chopped (peeled, if you like)
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 15 oz. can dark kidney beans, drained
1 15 oz. can black beans, drained
1 15 oz. can chili beans
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 7 oz. can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
1 T. cumin
1 T. chili powder
1 t. oregano
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper to taste

While the oil is heating in a big saucepan over medium, chop up all the vegetables.

I usually throw the garlic and onions in first, followed by the peppers, then the other veggies. After they’ve cooked about five minutes, mix in the spices, salt and pepper and bay leaf. Once everything is combined, add the tomatoes and beans and put a lid on the pot.

While that simmers, take out as many chipotle peppers as you want. If you don’t like spicy foods, I would take one or even one without the seeds. Those suckers are hot! I use three, but I had to work up to that. Put the rest in a container in the fridge until you need them again. Chop the chiles super fine and add them to the pot.

Simmer over medium-low heat for 30 minutes, remove the bay leaf and serve with cheddar and saltines.

Shipwreck stew

This is one of those recipes that came out of a random cookbook, probably from the ’70s, and became a fixture in our home growing up. It’s called Shipwreck Stew, but it’s really a casserole you bake for two hours. Make it on a Sunday and you’ll have dinner a couple nights that week.

Originally it was made with ground beef and chopped tomatoes, which became really dry on top. I adapted it several times when I became vegetarian and am finally satisfied with this version.

Shipwreck Stew

1 large onion, chopped
4 ribs celery, chopped
2 T. butter
3 c. peeled and diced golden potatoes
1/2 c. uncooked basmati rice
1 28-oz. can dark kidney beans, drained
1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 T. Worcestershire sauce
1 T. chili powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brown onions and celery in skillet in butter over medium heat. Mix Worcestershire sauce and chili powder into can of crushed tomatoes. Layer half of the onions/celery, then potatoes, rice, beans and tomatoes in 9X13 baking dish and repeat with other half. Cover with foil and bake for two hours. Check on it once to make sure the rice is not drying out.

To make it meaty: Add a layer of ground beef (raw, so it will cook in the 2 hours).

*Update! My dad shared with me the story of where this recipe came from. Thanks, dad!

In 1973 or so my girlfriend at the time in Manhattan lived in a kind of commune hippy house with several other people. They each shared cooking duties and prepared meals for the whole house. One of the members (a guy of course) had really no experience in cooking, so he began perusing cookbooks for something relatively easy that would serve 8 people. At last he found a recipe called Shipwreck stew in one of the cookbooks that belonged to my girlfriend. With its simple ingredients and preparation the resulting dish was much loved by all the hippies in the house! Anyway somehow the cookbook ended up at my apartment and didn’t make it back to her after we parted ways. So I kept the cookbook and now you and Megan have experienced the magic of the hippy commune Shipwreck stew. I’m sure that it will be shared with friends and future generations to come.

Pesto Genovese

As soon as you walk into our garden you smell the sweet basil, and it just brings a smile to your face. So now that our plants are thriving I decided to pick a bunch of leaves and make pesto.

I have a great recipe from my friend Alessandra, who is from Viterbo, Italy. It’s your classic basil pesto with a LOT of garlic. She tosses it with pasta, and that’s what we did, too.

I find that this makes just enough to mix with a pound of pasta and have a little left over to spread on a grilled veggie sandwich.

Pesto alla Genovese for 4

2 cups of fresh basil leaves, washed and dried
3 tablespoons of pine nuts
5 garlic cloves, peeled (Yup, that’s 5.)
2 tablespoons of Pecorino cheese
4 tablespoons of Parmigiano cheese (or use all parmigiano)
Olive oil (maybe 1/3 cup?)
Salt to taste

Toss basil leaves, pine nuts, garlic, a pinch of salt and cheese in a food processor or blender.

Add olive oil and pulse a few times until blended. At this point you’ll want to taste it and make sure the texture is smooth and moist. If it’s too dry, add more oil and pulse again.

That’s it. You’re done. Pesto is ridiculously easy to make. You don’t even have to cook it. Just toss it with cooked penne (I like Barilla Plus) and top with a little more cheese.

*Pesto freezing tip: If you want to save some pesto to drop into sauces or spread on sandwiches later, prepare the pesto without the cheese, and freeze it in an ice cube tray. When you’re ready to use, thaw a couple cubes and mix in the cheese.