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Showing posts from September, 2007

Plastic-Wrapped Acorn Squash in the Microwave

A rose is a rose is a rose ... but NOT when it comes to "commercial" squash, the ones you pop in the microwave for six minutes. What comes out is NOT squash but ... yuck.

First let me be clear: what I'm talking about in this post is a 'commercial' squash that's been specially processed for cooking in the microwave. And please, before concluding I have some romantic attachment to "fresh only" vegetables, it's just not true.

I support this product on its face. I like the idea that a whole acorn squash can be on the table in about 10 minutes. I like the fact that it's easy to cut the squash in half to serve. I like the fact that it might actually help more people enjoy healthful winter squash. I promotecooking vegetables in the microwave. I don't even mind that the price is 4 times one that requires oven roasting.

What I DO object to is the flavor: NONE. Watery. Wimpy. Like, um, water, wimpy flavorless squash.

What I DO object to is the waste: …

Grilled Cheese BLT ♥

OH MY. May I just say that there are far too few sandwiches in this household? Perhaps it's no wonder, then, that on the rare occasion that bread, bacon, cheese and tomatoes were on hand at the same time, there was no deciding whether to make a grilled cheese or a BLT -- and so I combined them. Thank you, Sandwich Gods, thank you.

MAKE IT A MEAL Nothing like soup and a sandwich for lunch, perhaps the light, fresh-tomato Summer's Tomato Soup?


FROM THE VEGETABLE RECIPE ARCHIVES Hmm. I do have bread and tomatoes. Maybe it's time to 'update the photos' (always a good excuse ...) for 2005's luscious Eggplant, Tomato & Mozzarella Sandwiches and Artichoke & Pepper Grilled Cheese Sandwiches.

TWO YEARS AGO Tomato & Rice Salad, a tasty combination that I re-made this summer, still tastes great.

Grilled Cheese BLTHands-on time: 10 minutes
Time to table: 15 minutes
Serves 1 (easily multiplied)
2 slices bacon
2 slices bread
Thin slather of mayonnaise
Sprinkling of a goo…

Power Food Broccoli Salad

Power Rangers and broccoli salad: who knew they would meet on the dinner table? They do, in this week's Kitchen Parade column for Power Food Broccoli Salad.


SO WHAT IS KITCHEN PARADE, EXACTLY? Kitchen Parade is the food column that my Mom started writing for our family newspaper when I was a baby. Today it's published in my hometown newspapers in suburban St. Louis and features 'fresh seasonal recipes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences'.

Where A Veggie Venture is 'pure food blog', full of experimentation and exploration, Kitchen Parade features recipes a modern cook can count on. All are thoroughly tested by a home cook in a home kitchen and many are family and reader favorites. All recipes feature easy-to-find ingredients, clear instructions and because I believe so strongly in informed food choices, nutrition analysis and Weight Watchers points. Want to know more? Explore KitchenParade.com, including Kitchen Parade's Recipe Box!

WHY DO…

Farmgirl's Swiss Chard Tuna Salad ♥

So it's kind of amazing to me that you can add so much Swiss chard, a soft and delicate leafy green, to what's otherwise a pretty traditional tuna salad recipe – and yet it's still completely tuna salad not some weird variation. Low Carb. High Protein. Naturally Gluten Free. Whole30 Friendly with homemade mayonnaise.
It's hard – for us, anyway and let me not just say "hard" but "really hard" – to eat enough greens. So I'm ever on the look-out for ways to incorporate greens into stuff that we're already eating. This easy tuna salad – it could be your favorite tuna salad recipe, even a tuna salad from the deli – was easily transformed. And I was quite surprised that even with the addition of three large Swiss chard leaves, this was still tuna salad, just a little greener – and very good, definitely worth a try.

COMPLIMENTS!
"Excellent savory tuna salad ...what a treat!." ~ belleplaine

Green Beans with Mayo-Soy Sauce ♥

Such a simple, tasty way to "dress" green beans in a quick toss of mayonnaise, soy sauce and if you like, hot sauce. The same sauce works with other vegetables too!
~recipe & photo updated 2015~
~more recently updated recipes~
2007: At coffee with a new friend the other day, the conversation leaned to books and recipes. (Yoohoo, a new reading friend! Yay, a new foodie friend!) Marie shared a colleague's recipe from some 25 years ago. It's so simple, it's not even a "recipe" – just beans tossed in a sauce of mayonnaise and soy sauce. But I've made it twice now and it's amazing that something this easy can be this good. Would the same mayo-soy sauce work with steamed broccoli? cooked cabbage? Brussels sprouts? cauliflower? I think so. And frozen vegetables? For sure!

2015: I use this simple little sauce so often, one vegetable after another – that said, it remains a particular favorite for green beans, quick, cheap, approachable. These day…

The Heartbeat of Iowa

It's a special day over at Kitchen Parade, an introduction to Iowa 'pioneers' who are raising pork for Niman Ranch with new-but-old practices.

For me, it's been an emotional return to a place where I lived for 14 years. Today, for the first time in many years, I hear The Heartbeat of Iowa.










SO WHAT IS KITCHEN PARADE, EXACTLY? Kitchen Parade is the food column that my Mom started writing for our family newspaper when I was a baby. Today it's published in my hometown newspapers in suburban St. Louis and features 'fresh seasonal recipes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences'.

Where A Veggie Venture is 'pure food blog', full of experimentation and exploration, Kitchen Parade features recipes a modern cook can count on. All are thoroughly tested by a home cook in a home kitchen and many are family and reader favorites. All recipes feature easy-to-find ingredients, clear instructions and because I believe so strongly in informed food choic…

(Sloooow) Baked Potatoes ♥ How Long to Bake a Baked Potato

Doesn't everybody bake potatoes for an hour? But one hour in the oven is just not enough! Here's how long to really bake a baked potato, that is, if you want the potato to turn nutty and soft and super-special: three hours. Three hours is not a typo. It really is "three" full hours. Baked potatoes' skin and flesh are both completely delicious when the potato is slow-baked for a long time.
The pregnant pause. I've learned to wait expectantly (ahem) when it occurs in a conversation with my friend Anne, a fine, fine cook and owner of Kitchen Conservatory, St. Louis' great kitchen store and cooking school. (She and her husband introduced me to this guy, The Man With the Hands (I Married Him!)!)

You see, Anne has, shall-we-say? strong views about food that are some times contrary to conventional wisdom. I always learn something. Take the latest lesson, how to make the best baked potatoes. There's a story here, a memorable one.

Anne's Dad and 68,000 …

Bitter Melon Sauté ♥

So if we need any more signs of the globalization of our planet, check out the Des Moines Farmers Market smack dab in the middle of the corn and bean fields of central Iowa.

What a fabulous farmers market - the best I've seen, bar none. And mine is no solo act singing the market's praises. At least one of the chefs for the Niman Ranch annual hog producers appreciation dinner weekend before last agrees. "The farmers market is spectacular," he told me just as I was heading there, "way better than anything in Chicago."

The market is huge, as much a street festival with booth after booth of locally raised produce, meat, honey and fresh flowers along with artisan cheese and bread -- plus food stalls (have you had a pupusa, yet? delicious! or what about homemade biscuits and sausage gravy? swoon!) and market-appropriate crafts like bird houses made from gourds and t-shirts that read, "I'm an Iowa Girl". We were especially lucky to get the grand tour f…

Foodie Fight! A Trivia Game for Food Lovers

Question: What are Chocolate & Zucchini and Gastropoda?

Answer: Food blogs, of course, as many food-blog enthusiasts will recognize!

What's new, however, is the source of the Q&A, the great new trivia game for food lovers called Foodie Fight. (Yes, my fellow food bloggers, we have indeed all arrived when even two of our number are mentioned in a food trivia game!)

The game comes with 168 trivia cards (each with questions in six food-fun categories) plus game boards (for individuals or teams) and playing tokens. Use the boards and tokens or just fly through the question cards.

The questions are a perfect mix of the obscure (Q. How many bubbles in a bottle of champagne, anyone?) and the familiar (Q. What vegetable is some times referred to as "Swiss", after a 16th-century botanist?) -- so you'll be stumped often enough to learn something but not so often as to feel stupid.

And when you know the answers -- and you will, I promise -- you'll feel like a culinary br…

Steamed Butternut Squash ♥
How to Steam Butternut Squash in a Collapsible Steamer Basket

How to steam butternut squash in a collapsible steamer basket. Totally simple, totally clean and pure tasting.
WAY BACK IN 2007 So what self-respecting vegetable-recipe website like A Veggie Venture takes 2+ years to figure out how to steam winter squash? No question what held me back: I like ten fingers! I was unwilling to sacrifice a single one to a squash, no-siree!

Here's the trick – and it takes all of six minutes to cut a butternut squash into cubes, definitely a good investment of time for how gorgeous steamed winter squash turns out. Better yet? I checked: yep, all fingers present and accounted for. Here's how you cut an unwieldy butternut squash into cubes. Do it once and you'll never look back.

IN WORDS First slice off the stem end and the blossom end, this will give you flat surfaces to steady your work. Then cut off the "neck" of a butternut squash, those are the pale brown ones with a round bulb on one end and a long neck – with a sharp knife, thi…

Kitchen Parade Extra: Banana Oatmeal Cookies♥

Oatmeal cookies with a banana twist!

Okay, I've got your complete attention now, right? I thought so -- check out this week's Kitchen Parade column for a great home-style cookie recipe Banana Oatmeal Cookies — plus two quick banana desserts, too!


SO WHAT IS KITCHEN PARADE, EXACTLY? Kitchen Parade is the food column that my Mom started writing for our family newspaper when I was a baby. Today it's published in my hometown newspapers in suburban St. Louis and features 'fresh seasonal recipes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences'.

Where A Veggie Venture is 'pure food blog', full of experimentation and exploration, Kitchen Parade features recipes a modern cook can count on. All are thoroughly tested by a home cook in a home kitchen and many are family and reader favorites. All recipes feature easy-to-find ingredients, clear instructions and because I believe so strongly in informed food choices, nutrition analysis and Weight Watchers points. W…

Quick Supper: Bolognese Sauce with Slow-Roasted Tomatoes ♥

Yes, it's THAT time of year again. ("What? Time of year? What time of year is it?" I just know you're wondering.) But this is a most pivotal time of year, the few weeks at the cusp of summer and autumn when we must-must-must slow-roast tomatoes so that for the rest of the year, we're able to pull the taste of sweet summer from our freezers on mere whim or sheer inspiration.

(My apologies to regular readers, you know this story. But new readers? Slow-roased tomatoes bear repeating!) In 2005, I became curious about -- okay, obsessed with -- slow-roasted tomatoes. I roasted, well, 15 batches. No wonder I've collected so many recipes for using slow-roasted tomatoes!

And don't let anyone lead you astray thinking that a mere four hours or so will 'slow-roast' tomatoes. Nope. You see, I've tested. From much trial, much error, I know that it takes 10 - 12 hours, yes hours! at 200F to create the real essence of slow-roasting.

So if you're wondering ho…

Smoked Potatoes ♥

When I became the unexpected owner of a Camerons stovetop smoker last spring, naturally, I wondered about the potential of smoked vegetables. What would emerge?

First up, lovely woody nutty smoked potatoes. "Tastes like bacon," remarked one taste tester -- thus proving that bacon tastes like smoke, not bacon, yes?

And just like smoking trout, shrimp and scallops (my favorites on the smoker and the real reason to buy a smoker if considering one), smoked potatoes are easy-easy cooking. Just slice and season, arrange in the smoker, then walk away. In fact, the recipe I followed specified smoking the potatoes for 45 minutes. But I forgot to set the timer and so these cooked for almost twice that: no problem. (I do recommend paying attention to the timer, however.)

NUTRITION NOTES These were smoked with zero fat -- but still were absolutely delicious, especially smeared with good mustard. That said, my chef friend tells me that slathered in duck fat beforehand (since it won't bu…

How to Freeze Corn Like an Iowa Farm Wife ♥

On Saturday, I had the great pleasure of sharing a table and an evening's worth of conversation with Niman Ranch pork producers Richard and Delores Blackford whose central-Iowa farm is only a tractor's ride from where my great-grandparents once were townies raising strawberries on a corner lot.

And when an Iowa farmwife shares the technique she uses to put up 120 quarts of corn every summer, you just know this Veggie Evangelist is grabbing a pen to take furious notes – not that notes are required, the technique is dead simple.

So on the drive back to St. Louis, I picked up a 'farmers dozen' ears of corn whose fourteen ears yielded only a scant six cups of corn – about 1 percent of what Mrs. Blackford puts up – but I promise to enjoy every single kernel. Here's her recipe – farm-tested, farm-loved, farm-sweet.

Yellow Squash Coconut Soup ♥ Recipe

Today's vegetable soup recipe: A riff on a Julia Child’s master soup recipe, thickened with a starch like rice (or here, farro) instead of flour.
~recipe & photo updated 2013~
~more recently updated recipes~
2007 Original Post: Would Julia Child be pleased? Will StephenCooks be pleased? Yes and yes, I think. You see, this soup is a variation on on last month's Cream of Zucchini Soup, a 'master recipe' from Julia Child's The Way to Cook but is also inspired by Stephen's Summer Squash & Fresh Corn Soup. I especially like Stephen's idea that some times we cook with our 'left hands', almost without thought while cooking something else, because it's that simple or flexible or forgiving.

So rather than use rice and sour cream like before, I used farro and coconut milk. And instead of the blender (or Stephen's faster food processor) to process, I used the Braun immersion blender, saving space in the dishwasher. And I used bacon grease inst…

Green Smoothies ♥
Fourteen Tips + Five Recipes to Get You Started

How to make green smoothies, Fourteen Tips + Five Sample Recipes to create your own delicious, healthy smoothies. Weight Watchers take note, the calories and points really add up quickly.
Confession Time: While I wanted to "try" green smoothies, I really didn't expect to like them. But I do! At first, I experimented with "how much green" tastes good – me, I like "more than less" green but "not a lot". Then for the last few years, my morning routine regularly includes a green smoothie – most often, with milk to fulfill the Weight Watchers milk/calcium/protein requirement. I call it "breakfast in a glass". Green Smoothies are fast, easy and (can be) very pretty! I've collected some favorite Green Smoothie recipes here, just to inspire. And tips? You bet, lots of tips! Because in the end, for a Green Smoothie to work, it's got to suit you. Here's what works for me, let me know what works for you!

GREEN SMOOTHIE TIPS(Fi…