Roasted vegetables

We went camping this past weekend and I disconnected myself from the internet for two days. How freeing! But I am concerned that the world may go to hell in a hand basket while I’m not watching, and then what would I do?

Camping weekends are usually rainy and cold. That is just our luck. This one was no exception but the sun did come out for a spell on Sunday morning. We sat around reading real books, the ones where you actually turn the pages. We acted like the old people we are by hitting the sack by 9:00 each night. No time for a campfire!

We did not eat our steaks while camping so we fixed them for our Sunday supper. I roasted the vegetables that I had taken along and added Brussels sprouts. Hubby does not particularly care for Brussels sprouts but I figured roasting them would make them okay.

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This concoction is 4 red potatoes, 2 carrots, 1 onion, and 1/2 package steam-able baby Brussels sprouts. This is dressed with 1/8 cup olive oil, 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar, 3 fresh sage leaves, one sprig of fresh rosemary, one sprig of fresh thyme, and a few snips of fresh parsley. I roasted this at 425 degrees F for one hour, stirring twice during that time.

Hubby grilled the bacon wrapped beef (an Aldi product that is fabulous!) and we had our dinner. Yum! A lovely dinner for the winter-ish spring day!20170507_204434264_iOS

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Dinner in a flash: frozen pirogi

This is one of my favorite dinners to prepare. The ingredients do not have to be measured and you can add or subtract as desired. This dinner starts with a package of frozen pirogi.

Dice one onion and mince 2 garlic cloves. Saute these in a large sauce pan or skillet with a little olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter. When the aroma is enticing stir in the frozen pirogi and stir to the bottom of the pan so they will lightly brown. Brown is not an accurate description. They turn golden with a few brown spots. Turn them over from time to time so they color on both sides. Your kitchen will smell wonderful. Add a pinch or two of salt or celery salt if you salt your food. The pirogi package said to saute for about  8 minutes per side but just do them until nicely colored.

Now add 1/2 bag of frozen mixed vegetables. I always have the standard mixed bag with corn, carrots, green beans. I suppose you could be inventive and add other mixes as well. Then add 1 can of stewed tomatoes. The stewed tomatoes I use have seasoning in them. (I did not read the ingredients and there is also sugar and calcium chloride, natural flavors, and salt. But they are $0.59 a can at my discount grocery store.) For more color and vitamins I add about one cup of frozen spinach. Stir this and cover and simmer until the vegetables are cooked. That is, what, 8-10 minutes?

Dinner in a bowl. And filling. This could actually feed 4 people but the two of us eat the whole thing!

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Exotic vegetables!

Just for fun: meet Leo. Hubby and I completely lost our minds after the Thanksgiving holiday and brought home this 80 pound dog from the Humane Society. He’s eleven years old and we decided we could be his forever family for the last few years of his life. He’s old and grey like us!

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In my never ending yet inconsistent quest to eat healthier I picked up some new cookbooks at my local library, one of which was Meat on the Side by Nikki Dinki (2016, St Martin’s Press). I do not know this author; I did not buy the books; this is just me experimenting with recipes in my kitchen.

The recipe I made first was Roasted Grape, Arugula + Goat Cheese Baked Potatoes. Doesn’t that sound intriguing? I had grapes sitting in my fridge that needed using and they were just past good eating but had not turned into raisins.I had a large bag of potatoes and had just bought goat cheese and mixed greens (includes arugula) at my field trip to Whole Foods the other day. I do not usually shop at Whole Foods as it is a bit out of my price range for regular groceries.

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I could not find the recipe as an on-line link. So here is what you need:

  • 4 Idaho potatoes, scrubbed and dried
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 cups red seedless grapes
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 cups lightly packed, coarsely chopped arugula
  • 4 ounces soft garlic and herb goat cheese log
  • 1/4 cup honey

Rub the potatoes with oil, salt with 1/4 teaspoon of the salt, prick with fork and bake in 400 degree F oven for 45 minutes, or until done.

Toss the grapes with the other tablespoon of oil and 1/4 teaspoon salt and the pepper. Place on a brimmed baking sheet. 25 minutes into the baking of the potatoes put the grapes in the oven to roast.

When the potatoes are done, slit the top and smush open. Fluff with a fork and mix in the arugula. Then divide the cheese and grapes among the 4 potatoes. Drizzle with honey. At each of those steps the recipe instructs to add more of the salt. Serve immediately.

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My end product does not look as nice and neat as the picture in the cookbook. But it is quite tasty. This was our supper so we each ate two stuffed potatoes. The warm grapes were quite pleasant.

I did not add the entire amount of salt that she called for in the recipe. I used only 1/2 teaspoon: on the outside of the potatoes and then on the grapes. I used plain goat cheese and not flavored. I used mixed greens and not just arugula. I used both red and black seedless grapes.

Most of the recipes in this cookbook are odd/different combinations of vegetables. I like the idea that she developed her recipes with the vegetable as the star and the meat as the condiment. I might try her Pumpkin Pancakes and Beet Hummus. But truly, these recipes are a bit more unusual for my ordinary home cooking. Interesting to read and think about though.

“Eat your vegetables, or no dessert!”

Clean out the fridge pasta sauce!

As the title states this is exactly how I made this sauce. I had some lovely fresh ravioli from the Stew Leonard’s store and wanted to have these for dinner. This will be a vegetarian meal. The ravioli are butternut squash and artisan cheese filled. I have never made my own ravioli. I find fresh and/or frozen ravioli is a handy quick meal; the same goes for frozen pirogi. And it is handy to have Artisan Bread dough hanging about in the fridge as well!

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Here’s what I found in my refrigerator and what I threw in the sauce:

  • 1/2 of a large can of tomato puree (a scant two cups?)
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped
  • 1/2 fennel bulb
  • 1 large carrot, all alone
  • a handful of baby spinach leaves, chopped roughly if desired
  • a handful of black olives, cut in halves
  • homemade pesto
  • 1/2 cup water for thinning
  • sprinkle of Italian seasoning
  • sprinkle of dried parsley

Heat a little olive oil in a deep skillet over medium heat. I use my favorite 10 inch cast iron skillet. Chop the onion, carrot, and fennel. Saute this in the oil for about 8 minutes. Stir in the tomato puree, spinach, seasonings, and water. When this is simmering nicely stir in the pesto (about 1 Tablespoon). Lastly stir in the olives. Continue to simmer for about 20 minutes to blend all the flavors.

The vegetables were al dente. You could cook the onion, carrot, and fennel longer if you want a softer texture. I liked the crunch as contrast to the soft ravioli. I have two cups of sauce leftover and have that waiting in my freezer for another meal.

Must be vegetable week at my house! Now what to do with all the potatoes in my pantry that need cooking?