Tag Archives: vegetable

Zucchini Chocolate Chip Muffins

5 Jun

If your eyebrow is raised archly at the prospect of zucchini in a muffin as mine initially was, let me assure you that it’s delicious. Or, perhaps more accurately, it makes the muffin delicious. The actual flavour disappears entirely because the zucchini is so finely grated. Instead, you get wonderfully moist muffins that have a punch of goodness and just a handful of chocolate chips. This is my current favourite muffin recipe – I make it nearly every other week and always eat one before I put them away for breakfast the next morning.

These would be good with half a cup of chopped walnuts if you were so inclined!

Makes 12.

Ingredients

1 1/2c all-purpose flour
2/3c white sugar
1 ts baking soda
1 ts cinnamon
1/2 ts salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 c vegetable oil
1/4 c milk
1 ts vanilla
1 c zucchini, finely grated
1 handful chocolate chips – feel free to be as stingy or as generous as you like

Directions

1. Preheat your oven to 350F and line or grease muffin cups.
2. Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl.
3. In a smaller bowl, combine the egg, oil, milk and vanilla. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and then toss in the grated carrot.
3. Stir everything together until just combined and then spoon into the muffin cups.
4. Bake for 20-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the muffin comes out clean. Leave for 5 minutes then pop onto a rack to cool off completely.

muffin

How I Learned to Love the Garden

27 Aug

I have always appreciated food though, admittedly, I have learned to appreciate it on new levels in the last ten years. I’ve certainly always enjoyed eating and reaping the rewards of others’ hard work; now, I understand just how much work goes into getting that food to my hungry mouth.  It’s not like I wasn’t exposed to food production as a child: my dad maintained a wonderful garden in our backyard that had carrots, beets, tomatoes, peas, beans, chives, rhubarb, cucumber and whatever else he felt like planting (like the year he tried corn. I kept hoping for ghost baseball players to appear. Sadly, neither the corn nor the ghosts deigned to show). We also had cherry, pear and apricot trees along with a raspberry bush and grapevines. Homegrown fruits and veggies we did not lack. We also had a walnut tree but in the 20+ years we lived in our house, no one ate a single, solitary walnut. We’d find them on the ground with six tiny, squirrel bites taken out of them. Tree rats are the worst. What I lacked was the interest in cultivating them. My parents would send me into the yard to pick whatever was ripe at the time and I’d inevitably come back with about 50% of what needed to be picked. What can I say? I was more interested in something SUPER IMPORTANT like whether or not Zack and Kelly‘s eternal love would be torn asunder by the evil Jeff.

Fast forward to 2007. I am now living in an apartment with J and ruing the lack of outdoor space to grow my own food. We would buy basil plants that would, inevitably, wither and die in record time. We did see some success planting mint in my dad’s garden. So much success, in fact, that the mint spread over the next few months and by the following summer, was rather intrusively making its way into the rest of the garden. That was bolstering, though. “I can actually grow things,” I remarked as my dad looked on, happy I’d taken an interest in gardening but dismayed by the herb that was now embedded in the chives and beans and peas and…

Jump to 2012. J and I are house hunting. We come across a house with a slightly wild but charming front yard and an absolutely lovely backyard with lush, red cherry tomatoes. “This has potential,” I think to myself excitedly. The sight of those gorgeous tomatoes has stirred something inside me and I can imagine spending quiet afternoons planting and weeding and watering and enjoying the fruits of my labour. The day we took possession of the house, I went straight to the yard and plucked one of the tomatoes from the vine and popped it in my mouth. “That’s it. I’m growing everything I can back here.”

Next spring, my dad arrived at the house with tomato seed packets and a container with soil pods to get them started. I took a surprising amount of delight planting the little seeds and watching them grow into full blown…seedlings. My dad planted them in one of the gardens and I tended to those things like I tended to foodNURDling. By August we had fresh, plump cherry, Early Girl and beefsteak tomatoes.

Wee tomatoes.

Wee tomatoes.

 

Emboldened by my success, I started to hatch plans for summer 2014. I planted beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, green, red and jalapeno peppers, basil, lemon thyme, rosemary and mint. When each ripened, I happily picked ALL of the fruits and vegetables and gave each to the foodNURDling. As he happily gobbled down cucumber and tomato slices, I called my mom:

“Mom! A thing I grew is eating a thing I grew!” I almost wanted to cry.

It was A Moment for me. Growing food for me and my family. This is how I learned to love my garden.

Hot Pepper Noodles

11 Apr

I modified the original recipe from Bon Appétit to make it spicier and saucier. It also calls for chicken which would be tasty, but we were looking to make a vegetarian dish. Shrimp would also be excellent!

Serves 2 hungry people.

Ingredients

3 tb oyster sauce hot pepper noodle prep
2 tb chili garlic sauce
1.5 tb soy sauce
1 ts sugar
10 oz dried rice noodles
2 tb vegetable oil
1/2 red bell pepper, cut into 1″ pieces
1/2 yellow/orange bell pepper, cut into 1″ pieces
1 small onion, cut into 1″ pieces
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 egg, beaten

Directions

1. In a small bowl, combine the oyster sauce, chili garlic sauce, soy sauce and sugar.
2. Place the noodles in a large bowl and cover with boiling water. Stir the noodles and cover the bowl for 4 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water. Set aside.
3. Heat a wok to medium heat and add the oil. Toss in the garlic and cook 1 minute. Add in peppers, onion and tomatoes and half the sauce. Toss to coat and cook 3-4 minutes until vegetables have softened.
4. Add the egg, noodles and the rest of the sauce. Toss constantly until the noodles and vegetables are completely coated. Serve and top with basil, if desired.

hot pepper noodle complete

Spicy Sauteed Rapini w/ Pine Nuts & Raisins

25 Jan

Apparently, I’ve become a grown up. I am now voluntarily eating not just Brussels sprouts but now rapini! Traditionally not  a big fan of bitter greens, I have warmed to them in the last year so long as they are balanced with other flavours to cut through the bitterness. Cue J making Giada de Laurentiis’  sautéed rapini that has a nice kick with some chili flakes and sweetness from a handful raisins.  This side dish looked fantastic served in our colourful casserole dishes!

Serves 2.

Ingredients

2 bunches rapini, stems trimmed
3 tb olive oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 ts red pepper flakes
1/4 c raisins
salt
2 tb pine nuts, toasted

Directions

1. Blanch the rapini by dropping it in a pot of boiling water for 1 minute, then transferring it to an ice bath. Reserve roughly 1/4 of the cooking liquid.
2.  Heat the oil in a heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, and sauté  about 1 minute.
3. Reduce heat to medium-low and add the rapini. Toss to coat.
4. Add half the the reserved cooking water, the raisins, and cook until the rapini is heated through and the stems are tender, about 4 minutes. Season with salt, to taste.
5. Right before you’re ready to serve, add the pine nuts and toss so that all the ingredients have combined.

NYT Project: Shredded Brussels Sprouts w/ Bacon & Pine Nuts

19 Dec

Brussels sprouts were the bane of my existence as a child. The mere mention of them would send me into fits of eye-rolling, gagging and desperate complaining with the hope of being spared from their inherent repulsiveness.  My parents would insist that they liked them and I could only assume that they were either a) blatantly lying or b) insane.

Fast forward twenty years and I find myself at the market, buying a pint of Brussels sprouts voluntarily. What has gotten in to me? It started back in the summer with reports of a friend making absolutely delectable Brussels sprouts for a group of eight or so. So the story goes, people were actually fighting (cordially…but still) over the last few sprouts. After verifying this story and hearing said people swear up and down that they were great, I began to rethink my stance. If all those people – most of whom hated Brussels sprouts as kids – liked them now, maybe it was time to give them another chance. Flipping through the NYT cookbook, I came across a recipe that looked easy and, importantly, included bacon. Bacon makes everything better, as far as I can tell.

This recipe does require you to do a few steps, but if you have a food processor, it is well worth using it! Alternatively, if you have Brussels sprouts large enough, you could shred them on a box grater. Just watch your fingers!

They look so harmless!

Serves 2.

Ingredients

1 pint Brussels sprouts
3 strips bacon, diced
1/4 c pine nuts
3 scallions, finely sliced
1/4 ts nutmeg
salt & pepper

Directions

1. Trim the Brussels sprouts. If you have time/desire to, you can core them as well but it’s not necessary. In batches, shred in the food processor.
2.  Fry the diced bacon until crispy, roughly 10 minutes. When cooked, remove the bacon and drain on paper towels.
3.  Add the pine nuts to the pan with the bacon fat and cook over a medium-low heat until the pine nuts have turned a light brown. (2-3 minutes.)
4. Add the sprouts, scallions and nutmeg. Cook until the sprouts are done, roughly 6-8 minutes. They should be bright green.
5. Stir in the bacon pieces and season with plenty of salt and pepper. (Make sure you taste, though, as the bacon is salty, too.)

Looks great, tastes better.

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