Side Dish Recipes, Vegetarian Recipes

Maple and Harissa Roasted Carrots

maple and harissa carrots 4

 

It’s an Autumn Saturday morning in Chicago. As I sit here and type this, I’ve already seen the weather go from dark and cold, to windy and pouring rain. Now, its slightly breezy and a lovely 70 degrees F and sunshine. Why am I telling you this? Well, for one thing, my fiance is a weather geek and it’s rubbed off on me. For another thing, I’m attempting to draw the correlation between this simple carrot recipe (three distinct flavor profiles), and the three stages of this mornings weather. For the last thing, I realize this is a lame analogy … I’ll do better next time.

Silly food – weather comparisons aside, this IS a delicious and lovely carrot recipe. A great combination of sweet and spicy with a slight smoky flavor from the cumin. So easy, even your significant other couldn’t screw it up.

I love buying carrots with the leafy tops still attached. Remove tops when you arrive home and store in an airtight plastic bag in your refrigerator. They will last much longer this way. You already know this, but it’s worth reiterating that grocery store pre bagged carrots have nothin’ on fresh farmers market carrots.

maple and harissa carrots 7maple and harissa carrots 1

 

Simple side dish is the name of the game here.  Cut carrots, toss with glaze, and roast away. Just make sure to bring an umbrella when you leave the house today.

maple and harissa carrots 2maple and harissa carrots 3maple and harissa carrots 6

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 lbs (about 6-8 large) carrots
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tsp harissa chili paste, more if you like spicy
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees F and line a large baking sheet with foil or parchment paper.
  2. Peel and trim off the ends of the carrots.  Cut into quarters, first crosswise, then lengthwise.
  3. Make glaze by combining the remainder of the ingredients.
  4. Toss carrots in glaze.
  5. Arrange carrots onto baking sheet in an even layer and bake for 30-35 minutes. Flip/turn carrots 2 times during the cooking process.
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Salads, Vegetarian Recipes

Kale Salad with Breadcrumb Croutons

Kale Salad with Breadcrumb Croutons

 

I’m guilty of it. I’ll readily admit. I’m guilty of eating kale multiple days a week. I love it in my Fall Quinoa and Kale Salad, Kale and Brussels Sprout Salad with Bacon, Almonds, and Pecorino, and Kale and Corn Salad with Basil Lime Vinaigrette.  All incredibly tasty, satisfying, and hearty. But just because kale can be tough and bitter doesn’t mean you have to “sneak” kale into a salad. Kale actually CAN be deliciously featured in a salad with just a few other ingredients. This is not “kale propaganda.” This is the truth!

By massaging the fibrous leaves, you bring out their sweetness and transform them into something tender and easier to digest.  Just chop up the kale, drizzle with a small amount of olive oil, and use your fingers to rub the oil into the leaves.  After a minute or two, the leaves will begin to wilt and shrink. Trust me, you’ll notice the difference. This salad benefits from being dressed about 15 minutes before it is served. The acid in the dressing helps to break down the kale even more and yields a more tender green.

Kale Salad with Breadcrumb CroutonsKale Salad with Breadcrumb CroutonsKale Salad with Breadcrumb CroutonsKale Salad with Breadcrumb Croutons

 

Preparation for this salad is minimal.

Homemade croutons and salad dressing are always easy on the budget.

Simple. Inexpensive. Kale. Yum.

Kale Salad with Breadcrumb CroutonsKale Salad with Breadcrumb Croutons

 

Ingredients:

  • 5 slices of day old french bread (or whatever you have on hand)
  • 4 tbsp melted butter
  • A pinch of garlic powder
  • 2 bunches of Lacinato kale (about 8 cups), cleaned and dried
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • The juice from 1 lemon (about 3 tbsp)
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Optional: avocado and tomato

Instructions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. Place french bread on a baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes, flipping half way through until bread is crusty. Remove bread from the oven and cool. Tear bread into small (1/2 inch) pieces and toss with the melted butter, salt, pepper, and a pinch of garlic powder. Bake breadcrumb croutons for another 5-10 minutes until golden. Set aside and cool.
  2. Remove stems from kale and slice into thin ribbons.  Don’t forget to massage your kale!
  3. Prepare salad dressing by combining olive oil, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, vinegar, salt and pepper.
  4. Toss together kale and half of the dressing.  Be sure to allow salad to sit for approx 15 minutes. Add additional dressing to your preference. Top with Parmesan cheese and croutons (and avocado and tomato if you desire).

Servings 4 (Serving Size: 2 cups)

Pasta Recipes, Vegetarian Recipes

Stove-top Gnocchi (not mac) and Cheese with Peas

Fun enough for the kids.  Just grown up enough for the adult palate as well.  So simple to make.  Ready for it?  Sure you are.

Gnocchi3

 

This is a fun twist on macaroni and cheese.  I like creating an opportunity to introduce children to new foods and expand their palates, while simultaneously eating something with a sense of familiarity.  Stove-top Gnocchi (not Mac) and Cheese with Peas … does just that.  It’s a rich, decadent cheese sauce.  Move over kiddies, I’m diving in too.

If you’ve never cooked gnocchi (small potato dumplings) before, the time is now. Your family will love these little potato pillows.  Just bring a big pot of salted water to a boil (as you would for pasta).  Then add the gnocchi, give it a stir, and wait until they rise to the surface. About 3-ish minutes.  Once they’ve floated to the top, just strain out the water and you’re ready to go!  Easy peasy!

Prepare your ingredients ahead of time.  Shred your cheeses and have your milk and seasonings out and ready.  The thing about cheese sauce is that things happen fast.  Because you’re working with milk, butter, cheese and heat – this sauce can burn easily if you’re not careful.  By getting everything prepared ahead of time, you can focus on the cooking.

This dish comes together in under 30 minutes.  Being prepared in one pot means minimal clean up.  (We love that!)  Happy family.  Easy clean up.  Delicious meal for the whole crew.

Gnocchi2Gnocchi1Gnocchi4

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 17.5 ounce boxes potato gnocchi
  • 4 tbsp (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/4 tsp mustard powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 cups freshly shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cups freshly shredded fontina cheese
  • 1/2 cup freshly shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen peas, thawed
  • (Optional toppings: chopped fresh basil, extra Parmesan cheese)

Directions:

  1. Bring a large heavy-bottomed stock pot of salted water to a boil.  Add the gnocchi and cook according to package directions. Drain, set aside, and reserve.  Make sure to toss the cooked gnocchi frequently so they do not stick together when preparing the cheese sauce.
  2. Next, make the béchamel sauce.  In the same pot, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Once the butter has melted, add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.  Stir in the flour and cook the mixture, stirring constantly until light brown in color with a slightly toasted aroma, about 3 minutes. Add the milk slowly into the flour and butter mixture, whisking constantly so you get all the lumps out.  Bring sauce to a low boil, whisking constantly, then simmer,  still whisking occasionally, for 3 minutes to thicken.  The sauce should thicken enough to coat the back of a spoon.
  3. Stir in cheeses, mustard powder, salt and pepper until smooth.  Note: Do not add your cheese too fast or too soon as this could result in clumpy, greasy chaos instead of creamy, cheesy deliciousness.  Instead, wait for your béchamel to reach the right thickness.  Then, add the cheese in three batches, making sure each batch is completely melted before adding more cheese.
  4. Add the gnocchi and peas, stirring to combine, and cook over low heat just until warmed throughout. Serve immediately with fresh basil and additional parmesan cheese.

Note: It will originally seem that there is too much cheese sauce for the amount of gnocchi. Trust me – the sauce will continue to thicken and you will be happy with the extra creamy, cheesy deliciousness.

Note: Leftovers can be topped with homemade breadcrumbs (2-3 slices of day old bread pulsed in a food processor to form small crumbs then combined with 1 tbsp melted butter and 2 tsp fresh herbs) and baked in a 350 degree F oven for 40 minutes until bubbling and golden brown.

Servings: 6

Thank you Bell Family Company for featuring Stove-top Gnocchi (not Mac) and Cheese with Peas on your blog.  Anyone living in the New York or Chicago area looking for an incredible nanny service, look no further.  Need a sitter for date night? A TravelSitter for your summer vacation?  A full-time nanny for a new baby?  They have you covered.  Visit their website for details.  Let them know Emily Always Cooks sent you!

Pasta Recipes, Salads, Vegetarian Recipes

Roasted Tomato and Arugula Pasta Salad

Roasted Tomato and Arugula Pasta Salad

 

I’ve got roasted garlic and tomatoes, and I’ve got feta cheese, and I’ve got arugula, and I’ve got artichokes, and I’ve got a deliciously lemony dressing.  And, you may partake with me on one condition; that you listen to (read) my short rant about Spring weather in Chicago.  Those of you not dealing with these same weather conditions, just bare with me!

Mother Nature is currently unleashing her full schizophrenic arsenal on us.  One day the temperature “soars” to 60F.  The next day brings partial snow flurries and blustery winds followed by multiple days of perma-gray skies.  This time of year has me craving bright Spring flavors while simultaneously hankering for Winter comfort foods.  This dish is a lovely and beautiful combination of the two.

The produce isn’t exactly “there” yet.  My easy fix … roasting my veggies.  Roasting tomatoes brings out their natural sweetness and concentrates the flavor.  The juice from the tomatoes combines with the vinaigrette.  This coats the pasta, adding a fat free component to the sauce.  The same goes for the roasted garlic.

Roasted Tomato and Arugula Pasta SaladRoasted Tomato and Arugula Pasta SaladRoasted Tomato and Arugula Pasta Salad

 

If you live in a warm weather climate, just chalk my above rant up to ‘another Midwesterner complaining about the weather.’  If you’re here with me … Just chalk my above rant up to ‘another Midwesterner complaining about the weather.’  Either way, this dish is not weather discriminant.  Great when served cold or at room temperature.  Light and bright, yet hearty and comforting.  The answer to this cold/warm/cold/warm weather.

Roasted Tomato and Arugula Pasta SaladRoasted Tomato and Arugula Pasta Salad

 

Ingredients:

  • 16oz whole wheat penne pasta
  • 2 pints cherry tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup plus 2 tsp olive oil, divided
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 sprig rosemary (optional: I add rosemary to all of my roasted vegetables because I have a rosemary plant on my windowsill garden, this can easily be left out if you do not have it on hand.)
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • A small handful of basil, about 1/8 cup, julienned
  • 15oz can artichoke hearts, quartered
  • 2 scallions, finely sliced
  • 4-6 cups arugula
  • 1 cup feta crumbled (or substitute 8 oz container ciliegine “small cherry” fresh mozzarella balls)
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions in a large pot of boiling salted water.  For al dente, my whole wheat penne took 15 minutes.  Drain and run under water to cool and stop the cooking.
  2. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F.  Combine cherry tomatoes with 2 tsp olive oil, garlic cloves, fresh rosemary, salt and freshly cracked black pepper.  Cook for 20-25 minutes until tomatoes are soft, slightly charred, and some are just bursting. Discard rosemary and mince the freshly roasted garlic. Set aside to be added to the salad dressing.
  3. To make the vinaigrette, combine 1/3 cup olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, minced roasted garlic, fresh basil, salt and freshly cracked black pepper.  Give the dressing a good whisk. If using a mason jar,  give a few shakes.
  4. Combine cooked pasta, artichokes, and scallions with 1/2 of the dressing, and toss to coat. Add the fresh arugula and roasted tomatoes. Toss again *being careful not to crush the tomatoes.*  Add additional vinaigrette to your taste.  Note: The tomatoes are delicate and contain a lot of juice, so be careful when tossing.  Also, if the tomatoes burst, the tomato juice will add liquid and become part of the vinaigrette, so be careful not to over dress.
  5. Top with feta or mozzarella cheese.

Servings: 10 servings
Serving size: 1 cup – 1 1/2 cups (depending on the amount of arugula added)

Salads, Vegetarian Recipes

Arugula and Cauliflower Salad with Farro, Feta and Avocado

Arugula and Cauliflower Salad with Farro, Feta and Avocado

 

Stuck in a salad rut?  Well, not anymore.

This one has a fantastic variety of delicious and beautiful attributes.  Time to bust that salad rut!  (That sounds kinda weird, but I’m gonna roll with it.)

Charred cauliflower is a fun and unique salad ingredient.  When combined with the nutty farro, a hearty quality is achieved without taking away from the salad’s inherent light/healthiness.  Farro is a simple hearty grain with high contents of fiber, protein, and iron.  I adore adding it to soups and salads, and I often use it as a substitute for pasta or rice.  If you are a farro novice, check out Bob’s Red Mill Organic Farro.  This cooks up easily and perfectly every time.

A few more bright ingredients and a simple lemon vinaigrette dressing round things out.  Look at these pictures … There’s too much delicious harmony in this salad for any type of rut to continue.

Arugula and Cauliflower Salad with Farro, Feta and AvocadoArugula and Cauliflower Salad with Farro, Feta and AvocadoArugula and Cauliflower Salad with Farro, Feta and AvocadoArugula and Cauliflower Salad with Farro, Feta and AvocadoArugula and Cauliflower Salad with Farro, Feta and Avocado

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into bite-sized florets
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
  • A pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup uncooked farro, rinsed (I like Bob’s Red Mill Organic Farro)
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • 7 oz. bag arugula
  • 20 pitted kalamata olives, halved lengthwise
  • 1/4 cup oil packed sun-dried tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 3 ounces feta, crumbled (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1 tbsp capers
  • 1 avocado, sliced into thin strips
  • Simple Lemon Vinaigrette Ingredients: 1/2 cup lemon juice, 1/2 cup olive oil, 1 shallot minced, 1 garlic clove minced, 1 tbsp Dijon mustard, 1 tbsp honey, salt and black pepper

 

Instructions:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees F.  Toss cauliflower florets with olive oil, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.  Roast for 30 minutes, turning halfway, until the cauliflower is tender and golden.
  2. Next, prepare the lemon vinaigrette . Combine 1/2 cup lemon juice, 1/2 cup olive oil, 1 minced shallot, 1 minced garlic clove, 1 tbsp Dijon mustard, 1 tbsp honey, salt and black pepper; mix well.  I like to prepare this vinaigrette in a mason jar. Simply combine the ingredients, attach lid, and shake.
  3. Meanwhile, cook farro. In a medium saucepan, combine farro, 3 cups of water (enough water to cover the farro by a couple of inches) and a pinch of salt. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce heat to a gentle simmer.  Cook until the farro is tender to the bite but still a little chewy (about 30 minutes). Drain off the excess water and rinse well.  Allow farro to drain well to remove as much water as possible.  Toss cooked and cooled farro with a small amount of vinaigrette and 2 tbsp fresh parsley. (Note: Check the cooking instructions on the bag of farro you purchased. Shorter or longer cook times may be required depending on the type used.)
  4. In a large serving bowl, toss together arugula and 1/3 cup salad dressing. Add the roasted cauliflower, reserved farro, kalamata olives, sun-dried tomatoes, feta and capers.
  5. Top salad with avocado and additional salad dressing if desired.

Servings: 3 as a main dish, 6 as a side dish

 

Side Dish Recipes, Snacks, Vegetarian Recipes

Crispy Asian Brussels Sprouts

Crispy Asian Brussels Sprouts

 

I get it.

Telling you “Asian roasted Brussels sprouts are the perfect bar food snack” makes me sound like a food snob.  But if you’re reading this, you’re either already a food snob, or you’re on the road to becoming one.  So let’s embrace both our inner food snobbery, and this fantastically delicious and easy to make bar snack.

Like clockwork, 4pm rolls around and I begin craving a cold beer and a salty treat.  I look in the fridge to find something to curb my hunger.  My eyes keep going back to a bag of Brussels sprouts.  Conventional wisdom tells me my snack attack cannot be cured by Brussels sprouts.  Conventional wisdom be damned!

I crank the oven to high heat to get the Brussels sprouts charred and crispy, then toss them in a sticky Asian glaze.   Slightly sweet, a bit tangy, and nicely balanced by the heat from the Sriracha.

Kiss the mozzarella sticks goodbye.  You’ve evolved into a more sophisticated form of bar food.  Don’t forget the cold beer.

Crispy Asian Brussels SproutsCrispy Asian Brussels SproutsCrispy Asian Brussels Sprouts

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound fresh Brussels sprouts
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1-2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • ½ tsp fresh ginger, finely grated
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 1 tbsp Sriracha sauce
  • A pinch of freshly cracked black pepper

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and set a rack on the very top level. Cover a large rimmed baking sheet with foil and reserve.
  2. Prepare the Brussels sprouts by cutting off the base of each sprout and slicing them in half.  Discard any loose outer leaves.
  3. Rinse Brussels sprouts under cold water and drain removing as much excess water as possible.
  4. In a bowl, toss Brussels sprouts with the oil and sprinkle with salt. Stir with your hands to ensure they are well-oiled and salted, and spread out evenly on baking a sheet.
  5. Place in the oven on the top rack for 45-50 minutes. After both 20 and 40 minute mark, stir the Brussels sprouts to ensure all sides get crispy.
  6. When Brussles sprouts are close to being done, prepare the sauce. In a small saute pan, combine garlic, ginger, soy sauce, fish sauce, honey, lime juice, Sriracha, and black pepper. Reduce sauce over medium-high heat until sauce is thickened (about 5 minutes).  Make sure to stir frequently to avoid burning.
  7.  When fully cooked and crisped on all sides, remove Brussels sprouts from the oven. Place them in a bowl and toss with some of the reduced sauce.  Add sauce the sauce a little bit at a time, as you don’t want the Brussels sprouts to be overly soaked. You want them to retain their crispy texture. You should have a little sauce leftover.
Dessert Recipes, DIY, Vegetarian Recipes

How To Make Homemade Pumpkin Puree

Homemade Pumpkin Puree

 

Stop wasting your money at Starbucks on pumpkin bread.  Start baking with homemade pumpkin puree.  It couldn’t be easier.

Sugar pumpkins are an excellent choice for cooking and baking.  These smaller squashes have a firm, sweet flesh and are only about 6 to 8 inches in diameter.  These particular pumpkins are great for roasting and turning into puree.  They have a more pronounced flavor and their firmer and less stringy flesh roasts up to a much more pleasant consistency than that of a larger pumpkin.  Pure pumpkin puree is incredibly healthy for you.  Running about 50 calories for 1 cup and packed with vital antioxidants, and vitamins.  Homemade pumpkin puree is a win-win-win.  Tastes great, healthy, and easy to prepare.

So, leave those large decorative pumpkins for carving jack-o-lanterns and pick up some sugar pumpkins for baking.  Your homemade pumpkin will impress, and make your Starbuck going friends jealous.  Note: If you are preparing a recipe that calls for a 15oz can of pumpkin puree use 1 3/4 cups of this homemade pumpkin puree instead.

Some fun pumpkin recipes coming soon!  In the meantime, give these pumpkin bars a try.

Homemade Pumpkin PureeHomemade Pumpkin PureeHomemade Pumpkin PureeHomemade Pumpkin PureeHomemade Pumpkin PureeHomemade Pumpkin Puree

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 small ripe sugar pumpkins, about 1.5-2 lbs each

Directions:

  1. Cut the stems off the pumpkins.
  2. Cut the pumpkins in half and scoop out the seeds and pulp.  Save the seeds to roast later.  Note: I like to use an ice cream scoop for this step.
  3. Cut each pumpkin in half, then in half again. You should have 8 pieces.
  4. Roast cut side up at 350 degrees F for 1 hour.  They should be light golden brown and easily pierced with a fork when done.
  5. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes or until cool enough to handle.  Remove the pumpkin skin using a pairing knife.  Be sure to scrape the skin with a knife to remove any additional pumpkin flesh.
  6. Discard the skins and add the pumpkin to a food processor or powerful blender.  Puree for several minutes until smooth.   You may have to do this in 2 batches depending on the size of your food processor.  Note: Not all pumpkins are the same.  Some can be watery and some can be dry.  Mine were a bit dry, so I added 2 tbsp of water to the pumpkin as I pureed it.  It is just what it needed.  If your puree is too watery, you should strain it in a cheesecloth (a fine mesh strainer or a coffee filter will also work) to get rid of some of the liquid.
  7. Use immediately, store in your refrigerator for up to a week, or freeze for up to 6 months.

This recipe yields 3 cups of pumpkin puree.  Note: If you are preparing a recipe that calls for a 15oz can of pumpkin puree use 1 3/4 cups of this homemade pumpkin puree instead.

Don’t forget to roast your pumpkin seeds! Pumpkin Seeds