Every Day CSA Stir Fry

Sorry it has been a while. What has happened in 11 months? Well, I got an actual job. The husband and I moved into a real house. With a real kitchen. So, a lot! I have still been cooking, just not blogging about it.

My latest obsession is my Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA. It is The. Best. Invention. Every week, I pick up a giant box of fresh veggies from a local farmer. And they are delicious. You never know what you are going to get, which forces me to find creative ways to eat new veggies. It also cuts down on time at the grocery store.

It also makes me feel really guilty if something goes bad. So, we have been trying to find some creative ways to eat a LOT of veggies. Lucky for you vegetarian readers.

This is one of those recipes that is so easy, it is almost embarrassing. But, it is also delicious, and a great way to get your vegetables.

Every Day CSA Stir Fry (A Delectable Endeavors original)

20141002_2031211 lb of protein or tofu (I used a 14 oz package of firm tofu)

2 1/2 cups of your favorite veggies, chopped (I used broccoli, kohlrabi, carrot, onion, and pepper)

2 Tbl canola or vegetable oil

salt and pepper to taste

2-3 gloves of garlic

1 Tbl of chopped ginger

2 Tbl soy sauce

1/4 cup hoisin

Rice, prepared as you like it

20141002_203238Start by cooking the protein. You can use any type of protein, as long as it is sliced into small, thin slices (i.e.: flank steak or chicken tenderloin).

Put oil into a sauté pan on medium high. Season protein with salt and pepper. Once oil is warm through, add protein and cook through. Remove from pan and let drain on paper towel.

With remaining oil, add aromatics (garlic, onion, ginger). Cook until nearly translucent. Season with salt and pepper. Add other vegetables and toss until nearly done, but still crisp (only a few minutes). Deglaze pan with soy sauce, toss vegetables. Pour hoisin and mix well. Serve warm over rice. Voila!

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Truffle Veggie Mac and Cheese

Oh. My. God. This recipe is soooo good and soooo easy. It truly is quick gourmet food. This would be a great way to easily impress a bunch of people. Present it with a French accent and REALLY impress them.

“For zee entree – macaroni et fromage.”

If you ever make mac and cheese at home, you’ll never understand why people buy the boxed stuff.  It is so easy. Step 1. Boil some pasta. Step 2. Make a roux. (fancy French word) 3. Add cheese and pour over pasta. Voila! It’s that easy. And then you can impress people that you know the word roux. Don’t let the French words intimidate you. A roux is just some fat (think oil and butter) heated up and whisked with flour. That’s it! It helps make your milk and cheese the thick, creamy consistency that comes to mind when we think of macaroni and cheese. And homemade is far superior to the powdered junk.

This recipe isn’t exactly healthy, but the fact that half of the pasta is subbed out for vegetables not only makes you feel *less* guilty, but adds a nice added layer of texture. Plus, it uses whole wheat pasta and olive oil instead of butter.  So while it still tastes incredibly rich and delicious it is slightly better for you than most mac and cheese.

Adapted from The Comfort of Cooking 

1380565_10101750806766149_1241242200_n1 cup broccoli florets, chopped into small chunks

1 red pepper, diced (I used yellow, but I would use red for color)

1 zucchini, quartered and diced

2 cups whole wheat pasta

1/4 cup olive oil

1 garlic clove, minced

3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups milk

2 cups (8 oz.) shredded Truffle Cheddar (I use Hook’s. If you can get it, you should.)

1/2 tsp thyme

Salt and pepper, to taste

2 Tbsp panko breadcrumbs

Heat oven to 400 degrees (Farenheit).  Put vegetables in a pan large enough to hold the veggies plus the pasta cooked. With just the vegetables in the pan, drizzle with some olive oil. Add thyme in addition to salt and pepper to taste. Roast in the oven for approximately 20 minutes.

While vegetables are roasting, boil a large pot of water. Add 2 cups of pasta and cook until al dente. Strain.

In a saucepan, heat 1/4 cup of oil in the pan, add garlic and cook until fragrant (only a minute). Add flour and whisk vigorously. This will thicken quite fast; you only need to cook for a minute. Gradually whisk in milk, 1/2 cup at a time. Continue to whisk once all the milk is added until slightly thickened. Remove from heat and whisk in cheese. (It is important to do this off of the heat so it doesn’t scorch.)

Pour the cooked pasta into the dish with roasted vegetables and mix. Pour cheese mixture on top. Top with breadcrumbs and place under broiler in your oven for approximately 4-5 minutes.

Let cool for 8-10 minutes before serving.

Mediterranean Barley Salad

My  renewed quest to eat healthier begun a few months ago when I realized that I only had 3 months to prepare for a beach wedding. Eeks! Luckily, the wedding was fabulous and I didn’t gain 12 pounds right before it, so everything went swimmingly, so to speak. However, it did encourage me to start looking for healthier options for grains. I have blogged about the wonder-grain quinoa, which I love, but I needed to mix things up a bit.

I recently discovered pearled barley, which *technically* is not a whole grain (because the husk of the barley grain is removed), but still pretty delicious and good for you. Because the husk of barley requires very little processing to get rid off, and takes very little nutritional value from the barley, your body treats pearled barley like a whole grain!

You can use it as a substitute for other, not-so-healthy grains like rice. And it makes a mean cold salad. You can buy pearled barley in most grocery stores in the bulk food section for VERY cheap. This is a good starter recipe if you are new to pearled barley.

This dish was inspired by a friend’s Mediterranean salad. She brought it to a party once and I was smitten.  I really like the light, earthy flavors of mediterranean cuisine. This cold salad is a crowd pleaser and great to bring to a potluck on a hot summer day.

A Delectable Endeavors Original

01 cup of dry pearled barley

2 cups of water

2 Tbl lemon juice

3 Tbl olive oil

salt and pepper

2 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 can of chickpeas, rinsed

1/2 cup of chopped, roasted red pepper

1/8 cup chopped parsley

feta

Bring 2 cups of water with 1/2 tsp salt to a boil. Add dry pearled barley. Let sit for approximately 40 – 45 minutes until water is completely absorbed. It is important not to stir the barley while it cooks.

Mix lemon juice and oil with garlic and salt and pepper. Once barley is cooked, while still warm, pour oil and lemon mixture over the barley and toss with a fork. Toss in red pepper, chickpeas, parsley and feta to taste. Refrigerate for at least an hour. Then, enjoy!

The Best Roasted Brussels Sprouts

One of my favorite restaurants is Zaytinya.  They have delicious small plates so you can try a bunch of different things and the best pita bread on earth.  But I really love them because they taught me that I love brussels sprouts.  I have never been a big fan of cooked cabbage smell, but these brussels sprouts are out of this world!

I decided I wanted to try to replicate these on my own at home. I’ve tried them a couple of different ways, and, by far, the best concoction is that of Slate writer L.V. Anderson. Anderson writes a column called “You’re Doing it Wrong” where she tells readers how to prepare foods in the most delicious way. I don’t always agree with her advice (a ginger snap crust does not necessarily save a pumpkin pie, and I’m personally not a huge fan of the feta/watermelon combination), but she does have this one spot on. You can read her column here.

However, the real secret to delectable sprouts is char. I don’t mean burning them to a crisp, but certainly getting some delicious brown on there so the edges begin to wilt and become crunchy. This is an essential part to fully cooking a brussels sprout. Those little things are tightly wrapped balls of water-holding buds that need some coaxing to get to the melt-in-your mouth with an edge of crunch consistency that makes this dish shine. (In other words, it takes a while to roast them.) Additionally, these little guys are super healthy!

From L.V. Anderson at Slate

Soy-Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Oil for greasing the pan
1¼ pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
2 tablespoons peanut oil (I’ve used canola and olive just fine)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Black pepper

Heat the oven to 350°F and lightly grease a 13- by 18-inch baking sheet. Toss the Brussels sprouts with oil, soy sauce, mustard, and a little black pepper. Transfer to the greased baking sheet in an even layer and roast until the sprouts are partially tender, about 15 minutes. Stir and raise the oven temperature to 400°F. Continue to roast, stirring every 5 minutes or so, until the sprouts are browned and fully tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Serve hot or warm.

Roasted Mushrooms on Creamy Pasta

I do not have many dietary restrictions.  I am not against eating animals.  I like to try weird, or crazy sounding things.  And I love vegetarian food.  I regularly eat vegetarian meals.  I am no stranger to tofu (in fact, I make it regularly) and paneer is one of my favorite foods.  So, I’m not quite sure why I don’t post more of my vegetarian recipes.  One of my new year’s resolutions will be to get better at that, especially for all my vegetarian friends out there.

If you are not a fan of vegetarian food, you just haven’t had any good vegetarian food yet.  For all of you out there sneering at the idea of eating tofu or jeering at the thought of an entree that doesn’t bleed, lower those noses! Good vegetarian food is hearty and savory.  In fact, I challenge you to think of how many things you eat regularly that are already vegetarian.  I bet you would be surprised.  I like to tout eating vegetarian at least one day a week, mainly because Americans eat WAY more meat than we need or should.  Not only does this have implications for our own culture and way of life, but also for the rest of the world.  If you don’t believe me, just read some Michael Pollan.  But if you don’t care about that, eating vegetarian once or twice a week can also help your health.

At least, in theory.  But if that’s what you’re doing . . . Don’t start with this dish.  🙂

I had bought a box of baby bella mushrooms a little while ago and they were sitting in the refrigerator just waiting to go bad.  Rather than having that happen, I decided to create something delicious with them.

I have always wanted to roast mushrooms.  I never used to like them, but I’ve become more accustomed to them now (and quite fond of wild mushrooms).  I think properly roasting anything makes it taste amazing, so I thought for sure that roasting these lovely little mushrooms would bring out the earthy goodness of them.  It did.  However, there is one simple rule to preparing good roasted mushrooms.  Make sure your mushrooms are clean.  Whatever you do, do NOT submerge your mushrooms in water.  That can damage their delicate form and make them mushy when cooked.  Simply wipe them off with a damp cloth or paper towel.

Roasted Mushrooms on Creamy Pasta

For the mushrooms, adapted from the awesome Smitten Kitchen,

1 pound of your favorite mushrooms
3 large garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

Preheat oven to 450°F with rack in middle. Toss mushrooms with capers, garlic, oil, 1/8 teaspoon salt and several grinds of pepper in a 1 1/2- to 2-qt shallow baking dish. Top with butter and roast, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are tender and golden and bubbly garlic sauce forms below, 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in lemon juice and parsley.

For the pasta sauce, this is a classic cream sauce with cheese that you can find right here on Delectable Endeavors!  You can add any kind of cheese you would like.  I used parmesan for this and it was lovely.

Soup Sundays – Curried Carrot Soup

Along with the Brunch Series, I am starting Soup Sundays.  This winter I started making soups on Sunday afternoons.  I like to take leftovers, or fresh ingredients that need to be used and make them into a delicious soup – the perfect Sunday night meal for those chilly winter afternoons.  I decided to post this little ritual for all of you to share.  Not only is making soup a nice, relaxing way to spend the afternoon, but then you have delicious leftovers to eat all week.  If you double the recipes you could free some as well.

Additionally, I’m not sure if I have adequately expressed my love of carrots.  I do love carrots.  They have to be on my top 5 of all vegetable options.  Of course, in America, we are often resigned to eating them raw with Ranch Dressing.  Gross.  I don’t not approve. (Speaking of which, if you have never seen Saturday Night Live’s skit on Ranch dressing, you much check it out here.)   There are so many better ways to utilize such a versatile veggie.

Carrots are actually a root vegetable, related to the potato and the dandelion.  Which means they are hearty, starchy, and packed with vitamins.  It also means there are many, many different types of carrots.  Did you know you can actually get a purple carrot?  No lie.  Check them out the next time you go to the farmer’s market.

I wanted to make a soup that highlighted my love of carrots and their versatility.  This soup is a great example of how carrots can rise above Ranch dressing and even complement Eastern spices.  In this recipe, I use crushed garlic and ginger because I like how they lend flavor to the soup.  I feel as though they permeate the soup better in this form.  Of course, you can just as easily substitute minced garlic and grated ginger.  I also use finely ground black pepper for the same reason.  My favorite is Tellicherry black pepper from The Spice House.

Curried Carrot Soup – A Delectable Endeavors Original

2 Tbl vegetable oil

1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped

4 cups of roughly chopped carrot

4-5 cloves garlic

1 Tbl grated ginger

1 Tbl of your favorite curry paste, or 2 tsp. of your favorite curry powder (I used red curry paste)

3 cups of chicken or vegetable broth

1 14 oz can of coconut milk (I often use the lowfat kind and it works just fine)

1 Tbl lime juice

soy sauce to taste

Heat oil in a dutch oven or other large saucepan.  Add garlic and ginger.  Saute until fragrant (only about a minute).

Add onions and saute for a few minutes.  Add carrots and season generously with salt and pepper.  Let cook until they begin to soften.

Make a small space in the middle of the pan and add curry.   Let it cook a bit, then mix in the rest of the vegetables.  Pour stock over curry and vegetable mixture.  Let simmer until all of the vegetables are softened and cooked through.

Add coconut milk and reduce heat to low.  Let cook and combine for as long as you would like.  When you are ready to serve, add lime juice and soy sauce to taste.  Either let soup cool and blend it in a blender, or do what I do and take a hand blender to the pan.  I like to leave my soup a little chunky.

To serve, you can reserve a little of the coconut milk and swirl in the soup for a nice touch.

Vegetable and Tortellini Soup

After the chilly late fall weather, and stuffing myself on Thanksgiving, soup sounded lovely.  I like soup.  Especially in cold weather.  It’s the nice kind of warmth I need to feel like I can brave the outdoors again tomorrow.  Since I love cooking, I can’t just BUY soup.  No, no.  I need to MAKE soup.  Luckily for me, soup is incredibly easy to make.  There are some things I have learned over the process of writing this blog and that is there are some things you should rarely buy, because they are just too easy to make.

Exhibit 1: Cranberry sauce.  I had NO idea how simple cranberry sauce was until I made it for Thanksgiving this year.  Literally, you just boil cranberries in some liquid and add some sugar.  Just like that, you’re done.  Cranberry sauce.  Why would you ever buy it?  Plus, by making it, you can add some nice touches.  For instance, I boiled mine in orange juice and brandy.  I used some spices to liven it up.  I would post the recipe, but my fiance told me it tasted like a holiday candle (in other words, awful).  I didn’t think it was so bad  . . .

Exhibit 2: Creme Brulee.  I know, it sounds fancy and French, but its really just a custard with crystallized sugar on top.  Essentially, creme brulee is only 5 ingredients and a blow torch (or a broiler, if you know MY recipe).  Remember this the next time you order a $6 vanilla bean creme brulee for dessert.

Exhibit  3: Soup.  Now, creamy, blended soups are a little more difficult and require a little bit more work and some special equipment.  However, broth-based soups are pretty simple and can often be made from leftovers!  This soup is made from veggies most people have around the house and pre-made tortellini, but you could just as easily throw together soup from some leftover turkey or chicken, canned veggies, and broth.  Pasta and rice are great for another hearty layer.

This soup is really simple and delicous for a frosty winter night.

2 Tbl butter

1/2 large onion, chopped

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 large tomato, diced

2 cups chicken broth

2 cups of water

2 Tbl of marinara sauce (or 1 Tbl pest0)

1 package of fresh or frozen cheese tortellini

1 1/2 cup fresh spinach, washed and torn, loosely

Melt butter in a large saucepan.  Add onion.  Cook until just barely translucent.  Add garlic.  Cook until fragrant; this should only take about 2 minutes.  Add tomatoes, water, and broth.  Bring to a boil.  Add marinara sauce or pesto to season.  Add tortellini.  Boil for 5 minutes, then add spinach.  Cook for 2 more minutes and serve!