Monthly Archives: August 2010

Tortellini & Artichoke Salad

My wonderful sister-in-law came to visit one hot summer weekend and she was gracious enough to make this salad for us! We served it with smoked ribs, baked beans, and crispy oven-fried potatoes. So good!

I had to run a few other errands while she made it, so I don’t have any fun prep pictures. I’m also guessing on some of the measurements- particularly the dressing. Add a little at a time- you can always add more!

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Tortellini & Artichoke Salad
from Krista McC.

1 bag frozen tortellini
1 6-7.5 oz. jar marinated artichokes
1/2 red pepper
3-4 green onions
1 small jar sliced black olives
4 slices bacon
1 bottle creamy Italian dressing

Cook the tortellini according to the instructions on the packages; drain and set aside to cool. Chop the artichokes into bite-sized pieces. Dice the red pepper and green onion; fry and crumble the bacon. Drain the black olives and cut in half (optional).

In a large bowl, carefully fold all of the ingredients except the dressing with a spatula. Add the dressing a little at a time; fold thoroughly to cover all ingredients. Cover and chilli in the fridge for 2 hours or overnight. Keeps for 4-5 days covered in the fridge.

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Filed under 30 min. or less, Pasta, Summer

Fun Facts Friday

1. My favorite beverage is beer. Sad, but true. There are just so many beers to choose from, so many that are hand-crafted lovingly by curious, smart beer lovers. I want to taste them all. I’m never unhappy with a beer in my near future.

2. We don’t have a microwave. When we moved to Wisconsin, our apartment had a microwave built in above the stove. We got rid of the micro I’d won at the Senior After-Prom Party. And when we moved into our house, we just put off buying a new one… and here we are, 9 months later, with no microwave.

3. I check Etsy at regular intervals throughout the day, just to see the Treasury set featured on the front page.  Whoever has the job of going through all the Treasuries and picking what to put on the front page- I want it.

4. I don’t like raw tomatoes, but I love cooked tomatos. Marinara, bruchetta, salsa, ketchup– bring it on.  And contrary to what most people say, it is not a “texture thing” for me- it’s a flavor thing. I don’t like the taste of uncooked ‘maters.

5. But my tomato plants are the most cherished in my garden. Because of the whole loving tomato sauces and stews thing. Plus they’re sooo easy to can and always taste better than any mass-produced tomato product.

My parents are coming this weekend, which means barbeque. Smoked pork butt from a friendly local farm with potatoes, corn on the cob, beans, and peach pie with homemade ice cream.  And, of course, beer. :)  Can’t wait!

Have a great weekend!

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Filed under Just a Thought

Blueberry-Lemon Crumb Bars

I found these listed merely as blueberry crumb bars, but when made with an entire lemon, I think the lemon deserves to be included in the title!

What a great “crumb” recipe. Really. The blueberry filling is simple and straightforward: tart, fresh, and nothing earth-shattering. But the crust… ay de mi. Even with all the lemon zest, it’s not “too” lemony, particularly once cooled to room temperature. It’s just right. Perfect, even. :)

Because I can’t ever leave anything alone, I will be making these again, but probably with strawberry and rhubarb and reducing the lemon juice in the filling. Despite the numerous bags of rhubarb in the freezer, it’s still growing out behind the garden- lucky me!

Blueberry-Lemon Crumb Bars
from Smitten Kitchen

Deb’s note- These are easiest to cut once chilled, and store even better in the fridge than they do at room temperature–something unusual for cookies!

1 c. white sugar
1 t. baking powder
3 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. cold butter (2 sticks)
1 egg
1/4 t. salt
Zest and juice of one lemon
4 c. fresh blueberries (2 pints containers)
1/2 c. white sugar
4 t. cornstarch

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a 9×13 inch pan. In a medium bowl, stir together 1 cup sugar, flour, and baking powder. Mix in salt and lemon zest. Use a fork or pastry cutter to blend in the butter and egg. Dough will be crumbly. Pat half of dough into the prepared pan.

In another bowl, stir together the 1/2 c. sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice. Gently mix in the blueberries. Sprinkle the blueberry mixture evenly over the crust. Crumble remaining dough over the berry layer.

Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until top is slightly brown. Cool completely before cutting into squares.

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Filed under Cookies, Desserts, Summer

Summer Barley Soup

While I was prepping and cooking this soup, I sang over and over, “Orange and greens, barley and beans, orange and greens, barley and beans…”

This could easily be a fall or winter soup by using canned or frozen veggies, but because these were all fresh from my garden, I like to think of it as a summer soup. Add a leafy green and it’s definitely a summer soup. So there.  I was in need of an easy lunch recipe that would fill me up, and there’s nothing much easier than warming up a bowl of soup.

I love this sort of recipe because it makes use of whatever you’ve got in your pantry and produce drawer.  You can chop up a tomato instead of using tomato paste. If you don’t have barley, brown rice or buckwheat would be good substitutes. Use a mix of fresh herbs from the garden or market. Any sort of bean– pinto, kidney, northern, canellini, even black bean– would work here.  However, I recommend sticking with red lentils and not subbing in green lentils– the red ones are smaller, and when cooked in this soup sort of fall apart and help to thicken it.

Summer Barley Soup

1 c. dry beans or 1 can beans, any variety
1 c. uncooked barley
3 c. chicken or vegetable stock
1 c. dry red lentils
1 T. olive oil
1/2 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic
1 1/2 c. sliced carrots
2 T. Italian seasoning (or a mixture of thyme, rosemary, oregano, and sage)
2 T. tomato paste
1 1/2 c. peas
1 1/2 c. green beans, cut into bite-sized pieces

If using dry beans, set the beans to soak in 2 cups water overnight, or in a crockpot for 2-3 hours; do not drain the water. If using canned beans, rinse and drain.

In a large pot on medium-high, bring the 3 cups of stock to a boil; add barley and simmer for 30 minutes. Rinse the lentils, then add to the pot. Stir occasionally while simmering.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add diced onion and saute for 3-4 minutes. Add carrots and garlic; stir and saute for 5 minutes. Add tomato paste and seasoning and stir into carrots mixture; carefully mix in peas and green beans and saute for another 5 minutes.

Once lentils and soft, add the vegetable mixture and beans. (If used dry beans, add the retained soaking water; if canned, add an additional cup of stock or water.) Simmer for 30 to 60 minutes, depending on how soft you want your veggies. I like to serve with bread- homemade pita shown above- or a fresh salad.

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Filed under Clean Eating, Soups, Summer, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Zucchini fritters

The first time I ate zucchini and liked it was at the (almost-)famous Sarah and Brad Richardson household, at one of their (almost-)famous get-togethers.  Brad had picked out this recipe to make, and of course, started mixing drinks and playing host, leaving Sarah to get her hands messy and do all the frying.

It might have been the booze or the heat, but those little babies were fantastic. Fresh, complex but not overwhelming, hearty and substantial but not rich or filling. I couldn’t believe that I was eating zucchini… and liking it. (Of course, the cream cheese and shrimp didn’t hurt…)

I tried making zucchini and squash fritters at home for the rest of that summer, but never came up with anything I liked.  I originally bought these little squash with the intention of making oven-fried chips out of them, but somehow, I found myself thinking about fritters.  After browsing recipes online, I came up with this, and will not stray.

They’re crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside. I love the slight taste of egg and nutmeg in the background. I ate these with a scoop of sour cream mixed with a little lemon juice and a little dill for a light summer lunch.

Zucchini fritters

The recipe that the Richardsons used relies on the moisture from the zucchini, while the vast majority of recipes I found online given instructions for squeezing most of the moisture out of the ‘fruit’ and instead holding the fritters together with eggs. I joined the two techniques on a whim, and it worked!  (I know, I was surprised too.)

~1 pound zucchini, or a combination of zucchini and squash, coarsely grated (should yield ~2 1/2 cups)
1 1/2 t. kosher salt, divided
2-4 T. olive oil
1 egg white
1/4 t. nutmeg
1/4 t. cayenne pepper (option)
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 to 3/4 c. flour

In a smallish bowl, place 1 lightly-packed cup of grated zucchini. In a fine-mesh strainer or colander, mix the remaining grated zucchini and 1 t. salt and allow to sit for 15-20 minutes to drain. Press or squeeze the zucchini to get as much moisture out as possible; add back to the bowl of undrained zucchini.

Heat the oil in a frying pan on medium high. Beat the egg white til just frothy and pour over zucchini. Add nutmeg, pepper, and 1 /2 t. salt, and stir well. Add 1/2 c. of the flour and mix well to combine. If needed, add the remaining 1/4 c. flour by tablespoons, just until the batter is thick enough to hold together but still wet enough to stick to your fingers.

With wet hands or a dough scoop, form the fritter batter into balls or discs. Place in the hot oil and press lightly to flatten. Fry each side for 2-3 minutes, until golden brown. Serve warm.

*Note: These can be eaten cold, but I think they are not very good warmed up. If this makes more fritters than you want at one time, cover the batter with plastic wrap right on top of the fritter batter, and again tightly over the top of the bowl. This will last in the fridge for 1-2 days.

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Filed under Clean Eating, Side dishes, Summer, Vegetables, Vegetarian