Tag Archives: carrots

Carrot Tahini Muffins

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I have a carrot fan in my house. Ever since his teeth came in, my son has been obsessed with carrots. We visited Rome, Italy when he was just over a year old and tried to introduce him to McDonald’s french fries. Much to my husband’s display the fry was discarded in favor of a carrot. A year later on an epic road trip he ate so many carrots that crunching became the soundtrack for our trip and I began to see an orange tinge on his skin. (Maybe it was my imagination but given the amount of carrots he consumed I’m not so sure). At school he is known as the kid who loves carrots and will opt for the crunchy orange vegetable over a sweet treat any day. And carrots have become a staple on my weekly trip to the market; not having them in the house can cause chaos to ensue. But really, I’m not complaining because what mom doesn’t want her children to like healthy foods.

So in my quest to keep things fresh on the carrot front I’m always on the lookout for new recipes that include this favored vegetable. So when I came across this SmittenKitchen recipe for carrot muffins, I knew I had to give them a shot. I loved the fact that they aren’t filled with a lot of sugar and butter, instead relying on olive oil, buttermilk and a tahini for their moistness and flavor. Yes, tahini; the sesame paste most often associated with hummus and other Middle Eastern treats. Plus the afore mentioned carrots.

And the results? Absolutely delicious. They were a hit in my house and will be making regular appearances on my breakfast menus.

CARROT TAHINI MUFFINS
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup tahini
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cup packed coarsely grated carrots

Sesame seeds, for garnish

  • Heat oven to 425 degrees F.
  • Whisk the olive oil, tahini and brown sugar together in the bottom of a large bowl.
  • Whisk in the eggs, then the buttermilk and vanilla.
  • Whisk in baking powder, baking soda and salt, then switch to a spoon or flexible spatula and stir in flour, then carrots, mixing just until combined.
  • Coat a standard sized 12-cup muffin tin  with a nonstick spray.
  • Fill each about 3/4 of the way with batter then sprinkle the tops with sesame seeds.
  • Bake muffins for 14 to 16 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the center of each comes out batter-free.
  • Let them cool in pan for 5 minutes on a rack before transferring them to the cooling rack to cool completely.

Yields: 12 muffins

Hamburger Soup

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It is Fast Friday again and time for another fast and fabulous dinner suggestion. If you are anything like me, by the time Friday rolls around the last thing you want to do to cook a big meal yet we all still have to eat.  The dishes featured in this series aren’t necessarily fancy but they bring together simple ingredients most people already have in their pantries or have easy access to and allow you to put a real meal on the table in between 30 and 45 minutes.  Enjoy and if you have your own fast recipes you want to share, please send them my way and I will in turn share them with all of my readers.

Soup is one of my favorite meals and since so many soups are quick to make, they are a  staple in my house. Filling, warming and satisfying soups make for the perfect dinner when paired with crusty bread and make even better leftovers for lunch the next day. And just about anything can be turned into a satisfying soup. This recipe, adapted from The Noble Pig has quickly become a favorite in my house where I liberally substitute the vegetables and even the ground meat depending upon what I have on hand. And thanks to the tangy and flavorful V-8, another favorite pantry staple, the broth is rich and flavorful without hours of cooking.

So if you are looking for a fast and tasty weeknight dinner idea, look no further than this soup. I promise that you won’t be disappointed.

HAMBURGER SOUP

1/4 pound pancetta, diced

2 pounds ground beef

1-1/2 cups carrots, peeled and sliced into 1 inch thick coins

1-1/2 cups celery, sliced into 1 inch pieces

1 leek, white and green parts only, thinly sliced

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 cup frozen corn

4 cups beef broth

1 – 14 ounce can diced tomatoes

15 ounces V-8 vegetable juice

1 teaspoon ground oregano

1-1/2 teaspoons salt

1/2 pound small dry pasta

2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar

  • Place a large soup pot over medium high heat. Add the ground beef and cook until browned, using a spoon to crumble the meat.
  • Drain off the fat.
  • Add the carrots, celery, leek, corn, broth, V8, garlic and oregano to the meat mixture.
  • Increase the temperature to high and bring to a boil. Reduce the temperature to medium-low and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.
  • Return the temperature to high, add the pasta to the pot and cook until the pasta is al dental,8-10 minutes depending upon the size of your pasta.
  • Stir in vinegar right before serving.

Serves 6-8

Guinness Stout Beef & Barley Soup

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The reemergence of a wintery blast of weather inspired to me make soup this past weekend. When it comes to beef I usually make a beef stew with red wine but decided to kick things up a notch by substituting Guinness Stout in honor of St. Patrick’s Day and turning the meal into a brothier soup since that is what is preferred by my fussy eaters.  In addition to my usual soup vegetables, I added some barley for body and peas and red peppers for added color and flavor.  The addition of the beer resulted in a hearty and comforting dish with a depth of flavor that is absent when using wine.

This recipe will make a reappearance in the fall since I am hoping that the weather will soon be turning too warm for hot soups.  In the meantime, for those of you in cooler climates, try this.  I promise that you won’t be disappointed.

GUINNESS STOUT BEEF  & BARLEY SOUP

2 Tablespoons olive oil

1 pound stew beef, cubed into bite sized pieces

1/4 cup dry sherry

2 large onions, chopped

3 cloves garlic, crushed and minced

10 baby red potatoes, cubed

3 large carrots, peeled and sliced into coins

2 bottles Guinness Stout

3 cups beef broth

3/4 cup pearl barley

2 bay leaves

1 teaspoon fresh thyme, minced

Salt and pepper to taste

1 red pepper, diced

1/2 cup baby peas

  • Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium high heat.  When the oil is shimmering, add the beef and cook, stirring occasionally, until it is seared and brown on all sides.
  • De-glaze the pan with the sherry.  Add the onions, garlic, carrots, and potatoes.  Stir to combine.
  • Add the stout, broth, barley, bay leaves, thyme and salt and pepper.  Stir to combine.
  • Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low, and cover.  Simmer, stirring occasionally,  for 1 to 1 1/2 hours until the beef is tender and the vegetables can easily be pierced with a fork.
  • Adjust seasonings.  Add the red pepper and peas and cook until heated through.

The soup can be made ahead of time then reheated when ready to serve.  I like to make it the day before I want to serve it so the flavors have time to meld. If possible, add the peas and red pepper right before serving since you don’t want them to over cook and turn mushy.

Meat & Stout Pie w/ Blue Cheese Crust

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Tis the season when everyone is a wee bit Irish so why not celebrate with food?

For me, pot pies are the ultimate in winter comfort food. Chicken and turkey are my usual fillings but since my family eats a lot of beef stew I began playing with making a beef pot pie that was reminiscent of meat pies I’ve enjoyed in Great Britain. And I found success. If a rich beef stew is good, it is even better when encased in a flaky crust. But I didn’t stop there. In honor of Saint Patrick’s Day I adapted this pot pie from Williams Sonoma into an Irish tribute. Both beef and lamb and slow cooked in a rich Guinness Stout broth which infuses the entire meal with flavor. And best of all, it is topped off with a blue cheese crust. Yum.

I’m not going to lie; this is a time consuming dish to make. But you can do as I often do and make this dish is two steps over two days. The filling and dough can be made ahead of time and refrigerated until you are ready to assemble the pot pies and eat them. Simply reheat the filling until it is hot and bubbling then fill the pie dishes and proceed as directed. By doing this, you can easily serve up hot pie pies as a fast weeknight meal.

MEAT & STOUT PIE w/ BLUE CHEESE CRUST

For the meat filling:

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

2 cups baby portobello mushrooms, quartered

1 cup pearl onions, peeled

2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided

2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, divided

1 1/2 lb. beef chuck roast, cut into 1-inch cubes

1 pound lamb roast, cut into 1-inch cubes

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

3 garlic cloves, minced

3 tablespoons tomato paste

2 1/2 cups Irish stout, divided

1 cup beef broth

1 cup carrots, cut into chunks

2 cups red potatoes, cut into chunks

2 bay leaves

1 tablespoon fresh thyme, finely minced

One 16-inch round blue cheese pastry

  • Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large Dutch oven set over medium-high heat.
  • When the oil shimmers, add the mushrooms, onions, 1 teaspoon of the salt and 1 teaspoon of the pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally for 10 to 12 minutes or until the vegetables are lightly browned and softened. Transfer the vegetables to a bowl.
  • Place the flour and remaining salt and pepper in a large bowl.
  • Dredge the beef and lamb in the flour mixture, shaking off the excess.
  • Add 1 tablespoon of the oil to the pot. When the oil is hot add half of the meat and brown on all sides, about 7 minutes. Transfer the meat to a separate bowl.
  • Add 1/4 cup of the Guinness Stout to the pot, stirring to scrape up any brown bits. Pour the liquid into the reserved meat.
  • Repeat the process with the remaining oil, meat and 1/4 cup of stout.
  • Return the pot to medium-high heat and add the garlic and tomato paste. Cook, stirring constantly for 30 seconds.
  • Add the meat, reserved liquid, remaining stout and beef broth the the pot, stirring to scrape up any browned bits.
  • Add the mushrooms, onions, carrots, potatoes, bay leaves and thyme and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the beef is very tender, about 3 hours.

For the crust:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons salt

1 tablespoon sugar

16 tablespoons cold butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

1/3 cup ice water

4 ounces crumbled blue cheese

  • In a food processor, pulse the flour, salt and sugar until blended.
  • Add in the butter pieces and pulse until the mixture resembles a coarse meal; about 10 pulses.
  • Add the water and pulse an additional 2 to 3 times. The dough should be soft and hold together when squeezed but not sticky. If necessary, add additional water, by the tablespoon, until the dough is the right texture.
  • Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead with your hands a few times. Shape into a disk, wrap in parchment paper and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  • Remove the dough from the refrigerator and allow to sit at room temperature for 5 minutes.
  • Sprinkle the top of the dough with flour and place on a lightly floured sheet of parchment paper. Roll into a rough 12 by 16 inch square.
  • Sprinkle the blue cheese over half of the  dough then fold the other half over the cheese. Roll the dough again until it it is 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Refrigerate for 10 minutes.

To assemble the pot pies:

  • Pre heat the oven to 400 degrees.
  • Place 4 2-cup oven proof ramekins on a rimmed baking dish and fill each one with the meat mixture.
  • Using a sharp paring knife and your baking dishes as a guide, cut out 4 circles of dough, adding 1/2 inch to each piece of dough.
  • Place the dough on top of each pot pie, crimping the edges to form a seal.
  • Cut 3 or 4 silts into the top of each pie.
  • Bake at 400 degrees for 25 to 35 minutes or until the tops are browned and flakey.
  • Allow to sit for 15 minutes before serving.

Yields: 4 2-cup pot pies

Queen’s Pie

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I’ve always been a fan of chicken pot pie. It is the ultimate in comfort food and is the perfect use for both left over chicken as well as those chicken breasts in your refrigerator that need jazzing up. And because I’m a fan of pot pies, I naturally gravitate to them when they appear on a restaurant menu. So when I spotted something called “Queen’s Pie” on a restaurant menu recently I just had to inquire as to what it was.

My inquiry was met with a chuckle from the waiter who went on in broken English to describe a dish that contained chicken, meatballs and vegetables in a creamy broth. To me it sounded a lot like chicken pot pie and that is exactly what it was and it didn’t disappoint.

Back at home I set out to recreate this dish. Because I made this for a weeknight dinner, I used pre-made meatballs and puff pastry shells that just needed to be heated in the oven but if you have the time, could make both of these from scratch if you prefer. I augmented the meat with a generous amount of vegetables–in this case peas and corn–since they are favorites in my house and combined in all in a creamy sauce. The results were a hit. After all what isn’t to love about a chicken pot pie with meatballs!

QUEEN’S PIE

3 Tablespoons unsalted butter

2 large carrots, peeled and cut into small coins

1 stalk celery, diced

1 leek, thinly sliced

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup dry sherry

3 cups low sodium chicken broth

1/2 cup heavy cream

2 bay leaves

3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces

24 – 1/2 inch meatballs

3/4 cup frozen peas

3/4 cup canned corn

6 puff pastry shells

  • Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven set over medium heat.  Add the carrots, celery, leek and salt and saute for 5-7 minutes or until the vegetables are soft and the onion is translucent.
  • Add in the garlic and saute for 15 seconds or until fragrant.
  • Stir in the flour and the sherry, scraping up any stuck bits from the bottom of the pan.
  • Add the broth, cream, and bay leaves and simmer for 8-10 minutes or until the mixture has thickened.
  • Gently stir in the chicken and meatballs.
  • Season with salt and pepper and simmer gently for 15 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
  • Discard the bay leaves and stir in the peas and corn, heating until the vegetables are hot.
  • Cook the pastry shells according to package instructions.
  • To serve, generously fill the pastry with the meat mixture.

Serves 6

Tuscan Sausage & White Bean Soup

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It’s Fast Friday again and time for another fast and fabulous dinner suggestion. If you are anything like me, by the time Friday rolls around the last thing I want to do is cook a big meal yet we all still have to eat. The dishes featured in this series aren’t necessarily fancy but they bring together simple ingredients most people already have in their pantries or have easy access to and allow you to put a real meal on the table in between 30 and 45 minutes. Enjoy and if you have your own fast recipes you want to share, please send them my way and I will in turn share them with all of my readers.
Tonight calls for soup. After a holiday season filled with rich treats and perhaps a late night ringing in the new year, tonight’s dinner needs to be easy, fast and on the lighter side while still being warming and comforting (since the weather is anything but). So soup it is. And this soup, from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe fits the bill perfectly. It is warm and satisfying without being heavy. And in true Fast Friday form, it is fast. So go ahead and make a pot tonight. Just add some crusty French bread and dinner is served.
TUSCAN SAUSAGE & WHITE BEAN SOUP

1 pound mild Italian sausage links, casings removed

1/2 cup chopped carrots

1/2 cup chopped yellow onion

3 cloves garlic, chopped

6 cups low-sodium chicken broth

2 (14.5-ounce each) cans diced tomatoes

1 (15-ounce) can Cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

1/2 tablespoon dried basil

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 1/2 cups uncooked small pasta

9 ounces spinach leaves, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

  • In a large pot, cook the sausage over medium heat until browned, 3-4 minutes, breaking it into small pieces as it cooks.
  • Add the carrots, onion, and garlic, and continue to cook, stirring often, until the sausage is cooked through, 5-10 minutes.
  • Add the broth, tomatoes, beans, basil, salt and pepper.
  • Bring the soup to a boil.
  • Add the shell pasta, reduce the heat to a simmer and cover the pot. Cook for about 8-10 minutes, until the pasta is tender, stirring occasionally to make sure the pasta isn’t sticking.
  • Stir in the spinach and simmer for another minute until the spinach is wilted.
  • Serve sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.

Serves 6

Turkey Pot Pie

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Turkey leftovers…….after a big Thanksgiving dinner, they seem to haunt you for days on end.  In the immediate aftermath of the turkey coma sandwiches filled with turkey, stuffing, and gravy are on the menu.  Next you might simply reheat the original meal but after that what do you do with your mounds of turkey?  In reality, the possibilities are endless.

Turkey pot pie is one of my all time favorite uses for leftover turkey.  Turkey and vegetables cooked in a creamy sauce and hidden beneath a flaky crust make for the ultimate cool weather comfort food.  This recipe is an adaptation of one from America’s Test Kitchen.  The recipe is extremely flexible; add or subtract vegetables as you like, use more turkey or less, and it will still be good.  You can make the pie as one large casserole topped with either a traditional crust, biscuits, or even store-bought phyllo dough or puff pastry if you are short on time.  Alternatively, you can make the pies in individual dishes which is my preferred way to serve them.  Regardless of the crust you use, make sure the filling in hot when you place it on top otherwise you will end up with a soggy crust.

Serve the pot pies up with some left over cranberry sauce and watch them disappear.

TURKEY POT PIE

For the pie crust:

6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

4 tablespoons cold buttermilk or water

  • Using a pastry cutter, two forks, or a food processor fitted with a metal blade, cut together the butter and flour until the mixture is uniformly blended and resembles coarse cornmeal.
  • In half tablespoon increments, add the buttermilk or water and stir, cut, or process until the dough just holds together.  You might not need to use all of the liquid.
  • Divide the dough in half and cover and set one half aside.
  • Place the piece of dough between two sheets of waxed or parchment paper.  Using a rolling pin roll and stretch the dough into a large circle.  Roughly divide the circle into four equal pieces, loosely cover with waxed paper or plastic wrap, and set aside until ready to use.

For the filling:

3 Tablespoons unsalted butter

2 large carrots, peeled and cut into small coins

1 stalk celery, diced

1 medium onion, diced

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 Teaspoons fresh thyme, minced

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup dry white wine

1 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth

1/4 cup heavy cream

2 bay leaves

3 cups cooked turkey, cut into bite sized pieces

1/3 cup frozen peas

1/3 cup frozen or canned corn kernels

  • Pre-heat the oven to 425.
  • Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven set over medium heat.  Add the carrots, celery, onion, and salt and saute for 5-7 minutes or until the vegetables are soft and the onion is translucent.
  • Add in the garlic and thyme and saute for 15 seconds or until fragrant.
  • Stir in the flour and wine scraping up any stuck bits from the bottom of the pan.
  • Add the broth, cream, and bay leaves and simmer for 8-10 minutes or until the mixture has thickened.
    Stir in the turkey until combined. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Discard the bay leaves and stir in the peas and corn.
  • Divide the filling evenly between 4 oven-proof bowls, mini-casserole dishes or other individual serving dishes.  (Alternatively, pour the entire mixture into a single large casserole dish).
  • Using the reserved crust, place one piece of dough over the top of each casserole dish.  Use a sharp knife to trim the excess dough from the edges of each dish and crimp the edges to form a seal.   Cut two or three slits into the top of the crust to allow steam to escape.
  • Place the casseroles on a large rimmed baking tray and bake for 20 minutes or until the crust is browned and the filling in bubbly.
  • Allow to sit for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Serves 4

For other turkey inspired recipes check out the following:

Cottage Pie w/ Beef & Carrots

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Comfort foods run supreme in my household this time of the year and one of the most satisfying meals when the weather is dark and damp is meat pies. Try as I might, however, I always struggle with making a nice pie crust. My solution is to skip the crust all together and to top the pie with mashed potatoes instead.

This recipe is courtesy of Fine Cooking magazine and is rich, hearty and thoroughly satisfying and is reminiscent of a shepherd’s pie. Because I started with a more tender piece of meat which was then slow cooked, the meat is fork tender while the addition of porcini mushrooms adds even more flavor and texture to the dish. I love the tanginess that the addition of Greek yogurt adds to the mashed potato topping. If you don’t have Greek yogurt you can substitute sour cream or even half-and-half.

So when the weather turns cold, turn on your oven and bake up this hearty dish for dinner. It will warm you inside and out.

COTTAGE PIE w/ BEEF & CARROTS

For the beef stew:

1-3/4 cups low-sodium beef broth

1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms

2 tablespoons olive oil

2-1/2 pounds thin-cut steaks, 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick, trimmed of any excess fat or gristle

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice

2 celery stalks, cut into 1/2-inch dice

2 small onions, cut into 1/2-inch dice

1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves

2 tablespoons tomato paste

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

3/4 cup dry white wine

For the topping:

2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-1/2- to 2-inch chunks

Kosher salt

5 tablespoons unsalted butter (at room temperature, cut into 3 pieces)

1/2 cup Greek yogurt

Freshly ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika

To make the stew:
  • Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F.
  • Bring the broth to a simmer over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms then remove from the pan from the heat, cover, and steep for at least 15 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, heat the oil in a heavy stew pot or shallow 5-quart Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
  • Pat the steaks dry, season lightly with kosher salt and pepper, and put only as many in the pan as will fit without crowding.
  • Sear the steaks, flipping once, until nicely browned, 3 to 4 minutes per side.
  • Set aside on a platter, and repeat with the remaining steaks.
  • Lower the heat to medium and add the carrots, celery, onions, and thyme.
  • Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to soften, about 7 minutes.
  • Stir in the tomato paste, and cook for a few minutes.
  • Add the flour, stirring to blend, and cook for another minute.
  • Add the wine, bring to a simmer, and reduce the heat to low.
  • With a slotted spoon, scoop the mushrooms from the broth and transfer to a cutting board. Coarsely chop the mushrooms and add them to the vegetables. Slowly add the broth, being careful to hold back the last few tablespoons, which may contain grit from the mushrooms.
  • Cut the steaks into 1/2- to 3/4-inch cubes and add to the pot, along with any juices.
  • Cover tightly and transfer to the oven. Cook, stirring once or twice, until the meat is tender, about 1 hour. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Set the stew in a warm place, and increase the oven temperature to 375°F.
To make the potato topping:
  • Place the potatoes in a large saucepan and cover by an inch with cold water. Add 1 teaspoon of kosher salt.
  • Bring to a simmer over medium heat, partially cover, and simmer until the potatoes are easily pierced with a skewer, about 20 minutes.
  • Drain, and return the potatoes to the saucepan. Put the pan over low heat and shake or stir the potatoes until a floury film forms on the bottom of the pot, 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Using a ricer, food mill, or potato masher, mash the potatoes. Stir in the  butter with a broad wooden spoon.
  • Once the butter is thoroughly absorbed, add the yogurt and stir vigorously until it is thoroughly blended in.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Assemble and bake:
  • Lightly coat a shallow 3-quart baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
  • Spoon the stew into the baking dish.
  • Spread the potatoes on top in an even layer and sprinkle with the paprika.
  • Bake at 375°F until the stew is bubbling around the sides, and the top is lightly browned, 35 to 45 minutes.

Serves 8

Morning Glory Muffins

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Morning Glory muffins will always take me back to my childhood.  Growing up, the local bakery produced these giant muffins filled with lots of flavors and textures–from carrots and coconut to raisins and nuts or even fresh fruit, these were my favorite bakery treat.  In hindsight they were probably a lot less healthy than I thought they were at the time.  Somewhere along the line these muffins seemed to drop off of bakery menus in favor of new trends but I still love them.

This recipe is an adaptation of one from King Arthur Flour and is a formula rather than an exact recipe.  If you don’t like dried cranberries you can substitute whatever dried fruits you prefer.  The pecans can be omitted entirely or switched with almonds, walnuts, or additional sunflower seeds.  Be creative; you won’t be disappointed with the results.  As my son says, these muffins are yummy in the tummy!

MORNING GLORY MUFFINS

1/2 cup dried cranberries

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup packed dark brown sugar

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

3/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups peeled and grated carrots

1 pear, peeled, cored, and grated

1/2 cup sweetened coconut

1/2 cup chopped pecans

1/3 cup sunflower seeds

1/3 cup wheat germ

3 large eggs

2/3 cup vegetable oil

1/4 orange juice

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • Preheat the oven to 375.  Line a muffin tine with papers and coat the papers with non-stick spray.  Set aside.
  • Place the dried cranberries in a small bowl and cover them with hot water; set aside to soak.
  • Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, spices, and salt in a large mixing bowl.
  • Stir in the carrots, pear, coconut, nuts, sunflower seeds, and wheat germ.
  • In a separate bowl beat together the eggs, oil, orange juice, and vanilla.
  • Add the wet mixture into the flour mixture and stir until evenly moistened.
  • Drain the cranberries and fold into the batter.
  • Scoop the batter evenly into the prepared muffin tin.  The cups will be very full.
  • Bake for 25-28 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the middle of a muffin comes out clean.  Remove the muffins from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for 5 minutes.  Turn them out onto a wire rack and allow to cool completely.

Yields:  1 dozen muffins

Spring Vegetable Pasta

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By the time late spring rolls around I’m all about lightening up my dinners and taking advantage of the fresh vegetables that are popping up in the local markets. Pastas are always a go-to meal in my family and they serve as the perfect canvas for highlighting the best vegetables of the season. In this dish adapted from Cooking Light, fresh snap peas, carrots and radishes are the featured vegetables. Many people shy away from radishes thinking their flavor is to pungent but when they are sliced thinly then lightly sauteed in butter, they emerge sweet and tenderly crisp. Topped with lemon zest and a handful of freshly chopped dill, this dish is bright, flavorful and a true spring celebration.

Use the recipe as a suggestion and choose whatever vegetables you prefer. Really, your options are endless so pick a few vegetables that look good, add in the freshly chopped herb of your choice and enjoy!

 

SPRING VEGETABLE PASTA

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 cup thinly diagonally sliced baby carrots

1/2 cup thinly sliced radishes

1 cup low sodium chicken broth

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

8 ounces snap peas

1/4 cup thinly sliced green onion

1 tablespoon finely shredded lemon zest, divided

5 ounces cream cheese

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

10 ounce fresh noodles of your choice

1/4 cup chopped fresh dill

  • Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain into a colander over a bowl, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking liquid.
  • Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Add the carrots and radishes and sauté for 2 minutes.
  • Add chicken broth and 1/2 teaspoon salt; simmer 4 minutes.
  • Add the snap peas, green onions and half of the lemon zest. Simmer for 3 minutes or until liquid is reduced to 1/2 cup and vegetables are crisp-tender.
  • Reduce heat to medium-low and add the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, cream cheese, and pepper to vegetable mixture, stirring with a whisk until smooth.
  • Add the cooked noodles to vegetable mixture; toss to coat.
  • Stir in 1/4 cup of the reserved cooking liquid; adding additional cooking liquid as needed to thin sauce to your liking.
  • Sprinkle with the remaining lemon zest and dill over pasta mixture.
  • Divide pasta mixture into 4 shallow bowls.
  • Serve immediately.

Serves 4

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