Thursday, September 29, 2011

Portabella Mushroom "Fries"

Fried vegetables, in my opinion are a nutritional oxymoron.  Maybe after a few hours of happy hour at the bar, they may seem like a “healthy” munchie, but let’s be real.  The draw of the “fries”, are their crunchy and crispy exterior and added flavor to just about anything.  The problem with most fried veggies is that the veggie is lost inside a glob of greasy breading or fried batter.   I am not a fryer, so I set out on a mission to find a healthy alternative!
So if you seek the crunchy without the fat and fryer, try this method of making veggie “fries”. 
The prep is a two-fold cooking process but it is worth the effort, and can be made in the background of preparing other things for your meal.  Organic mushrooms are not necessary but my choice.  You can vary your seasonings and type of bread crumb, but the rice flour is a must for the breading to adhere to the roasted mushrooms. 

Organic Portabella Mushroom “fries”

Time:  40-50 minutes         makes Four side dish servings
5-6 organic portabella caps or baby bella caps (could use cremini mushrooms as well)
(Mother Earth Organics are amazing!)
FOR ROASTING the shrooms
Olive oil, kosher salt, pepper,  a splash of balsamic or red wine vinegar, fresh thyme

FOR BREADING the shrooms: (about 1 cup of each) rice flour (sweet white or brown rice),  buttermilk, bread crumbs (I use a mix of homemade bread crumbs and panko, herbs, and sometimes a few tablespoons of finely grated parmesan-romano cheese)
a veggie grill basket-type pan or a slotted broiler sheet pan may work (anything that lets the veggies get some directed heat.

  Cut stem off mushrooms and wipe them off.  Toss mushrooms with a coating of olive oil, a pinch of salt and pepper (don’t overdo!), a splash of the vinegar.  Place on a baking sheet prepped with cooking spray or some olive oil, and lay the thyme on top of the mushrooms.  Bake, uncovered, in a preheated 350-400 degree oven for 25-30 minutes.  They will look a little shriveled but, will not release their water.
STEP TWO:  In the meantime you can set up your breading station.  You will need 3 shallow dishes- first is the rice flour.  If you don’t have rice flour, get it!  All-purpose flour is too heavy and that’s the reason why breading slides off things!  Rice flour is finer, has nice flavor, and adheres/coats evenly.  Next dish is for is the buttermilk.  I use 2% organic milk mixed with 1 T of apple-cider vinegar to make it.  The third dish is for the bread crumbs.  Have some extra breadcrumb mix available, you may need to replenish this dish depending on the size of your caps.
STEP THREE:  Once the mushrooms are cooled, you can cut them into the fried shape of your choice.  I like steak-fry style for the mushrooms because they are meaty, but you could do more of a mc d style too.  Place a baking pan lined with parchment or wax paper at the end of your assembly line.
STEP FOUR: Dredge the mushrooms through each bowl, making sure that any excess is shaken off before dipping in the next dish.  (You will notice how the roasting process has brought out enough water content to allow the mushrooms to coat easily and evenly.)
Place them on the baking sheet.  At this point you could freeze them for another time.  Just place the sheet in the freezer for about an hour and when they are somewhat frozen, transfer them to a container.
STEP FIVE:  Place the grill basket pan on a preheated 400 degree gas grill.  Place the mushrooms on the basket pan and close the grill.  These are great to make if you are grilling meat of other meal items at the same time.  The ‘shrooms should take about 20 minutes.  Turn them occasionally.  They should become a nice golden color and may become slightly charred, depending on the height of your grill flame.  Remove from the heat. 
Drizzle with olive oil and season more to taste.  Serve as a side, with your fav condiments.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Healthy Homemade Medjool Date Caramel

Here’s a great, simple way to turn the season’s amazing apples and pears into a dessert (or anytime) treat. I served this date caramel drizzled on top of a pear and apple tart at the raw dinner/demo at Fresh Thymes last week. But it is so good just drizzled on fresh fruit slices (or even on its own – naughty!), you don’t even need to go to the effort of making a tart! Tastes just like the caramel apples I used to love to get at the fair when I was a kiddo…even better! Dip some slices and sprinkle on some crushed nuts or coconut for an extra tasty treat.

Date Caramel
Makes about ½ a cup
½ cup (packed) of medjool dates, pitted and soaked for at least an hour
1 heaping tablespoon almonds (or cashews) (soaked for a few hours is best – not the end of the world if you forget!)
1 tablespoon coconut oil
½ teaspoon vanilla (or more, to taste)
2-3 small pinches of sea salt
Several teaspoons agave nectar, to adjust sweetness (optional)

In a blender, combine almonds or cashews with 3 tablespoons of water. (You could also just use 3 tablespoons of an already-prepared nut milk or soy milk, and skip the blending.)
Blend to a milky consistency, straining out solid particles if necessary (if there are only nut tiny particles, and you aren’t picky, don’t sweat it).
Add soaked and drained dates, coconut oil and vanilla, and blend until smooth, pausing frequently to scrape down sides. (This step can also be done in a food processor.)
Add salt – a pinch at a time, so you don’t over salt – and blend again. Taste for salty/sweet balance, adding a little agave or a date or two more if you prefer a sweeter caramel.
Refrigerate in an airtight container to chill the caramel prior to using, if desired.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Mizuna Salad with Kohlrabi and Pomegranate Seeds

Martha Stewart Living, February 2005
  • Yield Serves 6


  • 2 large celery stalks
  • 1 medium kohlrabi bulb (8 ounces), trimmed and peeled
  • 1 small pomegranate
  • 3 1/2 cups mizuna (3 ounces) or other tender, bitter salad greens such as arugula or dandelion
  • 2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
  • 1/8 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil


  1. Using a mandoline or a sharp knife, thinly slice the celery and kohlrabi. Cut kohlrabi slices into 1/4-inch-wide strips.

  2. Halve pomegranate; remove enough seeds to yield 1/2 cup (reserve remainder for another use). Add seeds, celery, kohlrabi, and mizuna to a serving bowl.

  3. Whisk together vinegar, salt, pepper, sugar, and mustard. Whisking constantly, add oil in a slow, steady stream; whisk until emulsified. Toss with salad.

Edamame Spread

This recipe comes from Martha Stewart
's Everyday Food (March 2006).

coarse salt and ground pepper
2 cups shelled edamame
3 large garlic cloves, peeled
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon olive oil
radishes (or other vegetables) and rice crackers, for serving

1. In a medium saucepan of boiling salted water, cook the edamame and garlic until edamame are tender, about 5 minutes. Drain.
2. In a food processor, puree edamame, garlic, lemon zest and juice, oil, and 1/2 cup water until very smooth, about 2 minutes, scraping down sides of bowl. If needed, thin by adding water one tablespoon at a time. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
3. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 1 day. (If needed, add additional water.) Serve with radishes and crackers.

Baby Bok Choy with Chile and Garlic

This side is easy enough to make for the holidays or any night of the week. It goes well with tofu, steamed fish, or meatloaf.

Everyday Food, November 2010
  • Yield Serves 4


  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 pounds baby bok choy, leaves separated
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • Soy sauce


  1. In a large skillet, heat vegetable oil over medium-high. Add garlic and stir until fragrant, 10 seconds. Add baby bok choy and cook, stirring frequently, until leaves are wilted and stems are crisp-tender, about 4 minutes. Add red-pepper flakes and sesame oil. Season to taste with soy sauce and toss to combine.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Sweet Dumpling Squash Stuffed with Quinoa

There are two main ways that I prepare squash -- the quick and easy way (microwave), or the slow and tastier way (oven). Microwaving it cooks the insides faster and makes the vegetable easier to cut with a knife. But baking it in the oven gives it the tasty caramelized flavor and brings out the natural sweetness of the squash. For this recipe, I do half and half (5-8 minutes of microwaving, and 20-30 minutes of baking) to save time and maintain flavor.

1 cup quinoa
3 sweet dumpling squashes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 diced onion
1/4 cup chopped walnuts (or nut of choice)
1/4 cup raisins (currants or chopped dates work as well)
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
Salt and freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
1 tablespoon Grade B pure maple syrup (optional, depending on if you like sweet)
1 tsp butter or Smart Balance

1.) Preheat oven to 400 F.
2.) Place 3 whole sweet dumpling squashes on a large microwave-safe plate and nuke for 5-8 minutes (depending on the strength of your microwave).
3.) Rinse and cook quinoa in 1 and 1/2 cups of boiling water then let it simmer in pot covered with lid for about 15 minutes.
4.) Saute chopped onions in olive oil until transluscent and then add nuts, spices and raisins and sauté an additional minute (be careful not to burn the nuts). Mix in the cooked quinoa and salt/pepper when done. At this point you can add a teaspoon of butter or Smart Balance for some heavenly buttery flavor :-)
5.) Take the squash out of the microwave and carefully cut squash in half and scoop out seeds.
6.) Spray a baking dish with cooking spray and place squash halves upright on it and stuff it with quinoa/onion/nut/raisin/spice mixture. If you like your squash sweet like me, drizzle some maple syrup on top before putting it in the oven for 20 minutes.
7.) Serve immediately

Note: Organic sweet dumpling squash, unlike acorn, pumpkin or other types of squash, has a thin edible peel therefore less waste! So go ahead and eat the whole thing (except the stem of course)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Golden Peach Cake

This recipe was developed by Epicurious using nectarines; I had peaches that needed to be used quickly and this cake was a simple, tasty way to use them. I didn't bother peeling the peaches. I think almost any fruit would work well in this recipe.

Serve it warm with vanilla bean ice cream - late summer heaven.

Golden Peach Cake
Adapted from Epicurious
Yield: 8 servings

1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
Rounded 1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup plus 1/2 tablespoon sugar, divided
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon pure almond extract
2-3 peaches, pitted and cut into 1/2-inch-thick wedges
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg


1. Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Lightly butter a 9-inch springform pan.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.

3. In a large bowl, beat butter and 3/4 cup sugar with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in extracts. At low speed, mix in flour mixture until just combined.

4. Spread batter evenly in pan, then scatter peaches over top. Stir together nutmeg and remaining 1/2 tablespoon sugar and sprinkle over top.

5. Bake until cake is golden-brown and top is firm but tender when lightly touched (cake will rise over fruit), 45 to 50 minutes. Cool in pan 10 minutes. Remove side of pan and cool to warm.

Eggplant and Tomato-Mint Salsa

This is an old favorite of mine from a 2005 issue of Cooking Light. It's not the most beautiful-looking dish, but it sure is tasty and worth the effort.

The Cooking Light instructions tell you to grill the eggplant; you get a smokier flavor from the eggplant using a grill. I've also roasted the eggplant in the oven and it turned out fine. I've included this method as an alternative in the directions.

Eggplant and Tomato-Mint Salsa
Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1/2 cup)

  • 2 medium eggplants (about 1 1/2 pounds)
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped seeded tomato
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
1. Cut each eggplant in half lengthwise. Lightly score cut sides of eggplant.
2. Place eggplant, cut sides down, on grill rack coated with cooking spray. Grill 20 minutes or until very tender, turning occasionally. Alternatively, place eggplant, cut sides down, on a baking sheet. Bake in a 425°F oven for about 45 minutes or until very tender.
3. Scoop pulp from eggplant halves and place in a sieve over a bowl. Discard peels. Let pulp stand 1 hour or until cool and thoroughly drained. Discard liquid.
4. Coarsely mash pulp, and place in a small bowl. Stir in tomato and remaining ingredients. Serve at room temperature, stirring just before serving.

Beet Hummus

Hi everyone,
I've been having a great summer full of cooking and baking using my CSA vegetables and fruit, so I decided to start contributing to the recipe blog. I live in Center City Philadelphia with my husband and four-year-old daughter. We get a full share of vegetables, a fruit share, and eggs and milk from the buying club. We love Lancaster Farm Fresh!

I have about four bags of beets in my fridge right now, so I needed a way to use some since more are coming this week. I found this recipe on Simply Recipes and thought it sounded interesting; I wasn't sure how it'd taste, but I was willing to try it. It's delicious! I love the fact that it can be frozen and I told my daughter it was Pinkalicious Dip, which convinced her it was worth a try.

Beet Hummus
Yield: 2.5 cups
Adapted from Simply Recipes.

3/4 lb. beets (about 5 medium sized beets), scrubbed clean, cooked, peeled, and cubed*
3 T. tahini (Sesame Paste)
5 T. lemon juice
1 large clove garlic, chopped
1 1/2 T. ground cumin
1 T. lemon zest (zest from approx. 2 lemons)
Generous pinch of Kosher salt
Fresh ground pepper to taste

*To cook the beets, I use Mark Bittman's roasted beets recipe. Wrap a few beets (unwashed, uncut) in aluminum foil. Make as many packets as you need for the beets you're roasting; each packet of beets should be similarly sized. I usually put 3-4 beets in one packet. Place your aluminum foil packets of beets on a baking sheet and bake at 375°F for about an hour, or until easily penetrated with a knife or fork. Once the beets have cooled, the skin will peel off easily.

1. Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings and ingredients as desired.
2. Chill and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or freeze for longer storage.

We ate this with flatbread, baby carrots, and the baby bell peppers that were in our share last week.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Twice Baked Mashed Potatoes

This recipes comes from

Twice Baked Mashed Potatoes
Serves 6 (Side Dishes)

½ cup chopped onion
½ cup chopped green pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
4 cups mashed potatoes (prepared with milk and butter)
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese, divided
¼ cup crumbled cooked bacon, optional
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper

In a small skillet, sauté onion and green pepper in oil until tender. In a large bowl, combine the onion mixture, mashed potatoes, ½ cup cheese, bacon (if desired), salt, and pepper. Spoon into a greased 2-quart baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes or until cheese is melted.