Zesty Honey-Lime Cauliflower Rice

Admittedly, I’m still on a not-so-silent crusade to get a cat.

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A large part of my job is to poke around the Internet for cat and dog videos, memes and stories, and occasionally I come across the right cat video to make me swoon. Then I promptly text Mike to once again ask if we can get a cat, at which time he promptly says absolutely not.

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I’m wearing him down slowly, I can feel it. Madison will be a whole other story, because she has no love for cats and thinks they’re all squirrels she can torture. That would certainly make for some good videos though.

#catsmakeeverythingbetter.

I may not have a cat, but I have this cauliflower rice dish, which is going to be just enough, for now.

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What You Need:

  • 1 medium head cauliflower, florets and stems chopped off
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 small garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup scallions, chopped
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 1/4 cup freshly chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 cup very finely chopped pistachios
  • 1/2 tbsp honey
  • 2 scallions, whole

What You Do:

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Put the cauliflower into a food processor and pulse until the cauliflower becomes a rice-like texture.

In a large bowl, combine the rice, olive oil, minced garlic, scallions, lime juice, cilantro and pistachios, stirring well to fully combine.

Chill in the refrigerator or heat in an oven or microwave depending on your desired temperature for serving. I served mine warm with a piece of seasoned chicken.

Drizzle very lightly with the honey.

Top with the scallions for garnish, and a lime wedge on the side if desired! Delish!

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Squash Stuffed with Sausage and Wine-Soaked Onions

Mike and I installed a doggie door this summer for Madison.

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I think she has finally achieved her ultimate goal in life – to come and go as she pleases.

All I’m saying is that it was a little TOO easy to train her to use this door.

She’ll always come back in for food, though.

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What You Need:

  • One large summer squash (about 10′ long and fairly thick)
  • 1 cup diced onions
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 cup chopped green pepper
  • 1 chopped jalapeno
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup garlic scapes, chopped
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 lb. hot Italian (or your favorite) sausage, sliced into 1″ pieces
  • 3 cups tomato sauce, either your favorite jar sauce, or homemade this way

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What You Do:

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Preheat oven to 325F

Halve the squash lengthwise from stem to end and scoop out the inside seeds so you’re left with a hollow “bowl”.

Place face-down on parchment paper and bake for about 40 minutes.

While the squash is baking, take a large skillet and partially caramelize the onions by cooking them with the water on medium heat, covered, for about 10 minutes or until they soften and become fragrant.

Add the green pepper, jalapeno, cherry tomatoes, garlic scape and wine, and continue to cook, covered, for about 15-20 minutes or until all vegetables are soft and cooked through, the cherry tomatoes are puckered and split, and the wine has cooked off.

Remove from heat, drain and set aside in a large bowl.

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In a separate skillet, heat the coconut oil on low-medium heat, and add the sausage. Cook for about 15 minutes, turning the sausage periodically to prevent burning and to cook through each piece.

When the sausage is done, drain on a paper towel to absorb the grease, and add to the vegetable mixture, stirring thoroughly to combine.

Remove the squash from the oven and flip over so the scooped-out side is facing up.

Scoop the sausage filling into each squash liberally.

Place back in the oven for 10 minutes.

Cover each piece with tomato sauce and serve.

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Garden-Destroying August Hail Storms

New England weather is notoriously unpredictable (If you don’t like the weather, just wait a minute, as they say) because of days like last Thursday, August 7, when giant hail fell from the sky around 4pm over a 10-mile (ish) area of the Seacoast that included my garden.

When I pulled into my driveway after work, I had to pinch myself to make sure I hadn’t gone through a time warp.

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My dog Madison, a Husky, was psyched. Winter had arrived 4 months early and it was glorious. I, however, immediately ran to the backyard, remembering only one thing – years ago when a freak summer hail storm hit and ruined cars in sale lots all over the Seacoast. If hail could dent the hood of a car, what would it do to my garden?!?

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 THIS IS WHAT IT DOES.

It not only dents your tomatoes, zucchini, spaghetti squash and kale (which, let’s face it, is pretty indestructible) but it makes all those fresh green tomatoes drop to the ground in peril just days before they would realize their red, ripened potential.

Sad.

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So I’ve got a bunch of these green tomatoes now, which I’ve bagged and frozen. This post is basically to lament the loss of my tomato plant and get sympathy, as well as warn you that there are some green tomato recipes on the horizon! Fried green tomatoes anyone?!

Zucchini, Tomato and Corn Gratin

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Ah zucchini.

I like squash a lot. I really do. But I’m at that point in the summer when, to be honest, the level of squash present in my life is getting to be slightly overwhelming. Not only am I harvesting a small bumper crop in my backyard, but I for some reason keep thinking that purchasing additional summer squash at the farmer’s market is a good idea.

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One of my zucchini plants, going strong.

So the chain of events is as follows: Buy fresh squash at the FM –> feel compelled to use said fresh squash before it goes bad  –> neglect picking the actively-growing squash in my garden –> end up with giant backyard squash.

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This isn’t even the biggest one. My latest monster creation is at LEAST 3 Hershey’s bars long, and probably half of one in width.

So Mike has been subjected to an onslaught of zucchini recipes lately, which have included zucchini bread, zucchini pizza boats, and zucchini-topped pizza, and this is basically fine as he doesn’t mind squash. (But he might after this summer!) I’m still fine with it too, but the ongoing challenge is cooking it in different ways so we don’t get sick of it.

You don’t have to love squash to like this dish, though. It is really very good. This recipe post reflects a few changes that I would most certainly employ if I cook this again, which I will, so don’t lose faith in me if you feel the photos don’t quite do it justice.

The farmer’s market/my garden ingredients used in this meal are:

  • Zucchini and Summer Squash
  • Corn on the cob
  • Onion
  • Tomatoes
  • Garlic

What You Need:

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  • About a pound of zucchini and summer squash sliced into thin rounds (I used a mandolin for this)
  • 1 1/2 cups panko or your favorite bread ground up to make breadcrumbs
  • 1 small yellow onion, sliced
  • 2 corn on the cob, with corn sliced off the cob
  • 1 cup Parmesan or Romano cheese, grated
  • 2 large tomatoes, sliced thin (I also used a mandolin for this)
  • Salt
  • Olive or coconut oil
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tbsp butter, melted
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

 

What You Do:

The Squash

Preheat oven to 350F

Here’s an important step you should never, ever ignore when cooking squash, but I always do anyways. Salt your squash to help remove moisture. This will help it cook better and faster, and overall just taste better.

So, toss your squash rounds with 1-2 tsp salt and set aside in a colander to let it drain (about 10 minutes).

After, lay the slices out on a VERY LIGHTLY oiled baking sheet, and place in the oven for about 5-7 minutes, or until the slices look slightly translucent and soft.

Leave the oven on since the whole dish needs about 10 minutes in there at the end.

The Filling

Warm a tbsp of olive or coconut oil in a medium frying pan over medium heat. When hot, place onion slices in and cover, letting the onions caramelize. Remove them when they smell sweet and look translucent with just a touch of brown.

Gently toss your corn with a tiny bit of salt, black pepper and olive or coconut oil, and mix with the caramelized onions.

The Topping

Melt the 2 tbsp of butter over low heat.

In a small bowl, mix your grated cheese and panko, adding a sprinkle of salt and black pepper.

Pour the melted butter into the panko mixture, add the minced garlic and stir it up.

The Finale

Line a baking dish with the cooked squash and raw tomato slices, alternating as you go. After you have one layer down, sprinkle some of your onion and corn mixture over it.

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Add more squash and tomato slices, covering them with onions and corn each time you have a new layer, until both toppings are gone.

Top the entire dish with the panko mix.

Place in the oven for 10 minutes or until the topping starts to brown and the tomato juices are bubbling. Then – enjoy!

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Pro-Tip: I would recommend making this a wild rice gratin to replace the panko and make it a gluten-free meal. Cook up some wild rice, mix it with an egg and the onions and corn and cheese. Put it on the bottom of the pan and line the tomato and squash on top. Sprinkle with some additional cheese. There ya go!

Sesame-Ginger Vegetable Quinoa Salad with Cranberries and Walnuts, Lemon-crusted Haddock and a Side Salad

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For my third day of Five Days of Farmer’s Market Meals, I made a smorgasbord (kinda) in order to get a better handle on my overflowing crisper drawer.

But I succeeded in using a lot of vegetables, and everything went together pretty nicely in the end! This recipe makes for a delightful little summery meal, and it’s got a couple completely different ingredients in it that really give it a unique flavor.

You likely won’t be able to find the same exact stuff at your market, but I address that in the ingredients list.

The farmer’s market ingredients used in this meal are:

  • Agretti
  • Culinary celery
  • Carrots
  • Spinach
  • Cucumber
  • Scallions
  • Wild-caught local haddock from the fish guy

I’d like you to meet two of my new favorite veggies: Agretti and Culinary Celery

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What is Agretti? Agretti is a Mediterranean water-retaining plant that looks like it should taste like grass but is actually DELICIOUS and can be used in basically anything, including raw in salads, omelets, or sprinkled over pasta (which is how I would have used it had I not just made pasta. Poor planning!)

Culinary Celery will blow your mind if you don’t like celery, but will especially blow your mind if you don’t like parsley. This awesome vegetable creation is a divine marriage of the two that tastes just perfect and doesn’t have that often overwhelming flavor you get with celery and/or parsley.

Agretti can be tough to find unless you know a farmer or market that grows Mediterranean-type veggies, but if you want to try and use something similar, people claim dandelion greens come close-ish.

As for culinary celery, I’ve never seen this before but you might ask around for it. Otherwise, adding a tiny bit of both celery and parsley together would be fine just to get that flavor.

ALSO – NEVER FEAR! This dish is perfect without either of these things! It’s the sesame-ginger sauce that really brings it all together 🙂

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What You Need for the Quinoa Salad

  • 1 cup quinoa cooked according to package directions
  • 1 cup shredded carrot
  • 1 cup finely chopped culinary celery
  • 1-2 cups roughly chopped agretti
  • 1 cup dried cranberries (I used Craisins)
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup finely chopped cucumber

What You Need for the Sesame-Ginger Dressing

  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar (or substitute with honey)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • pinch red pepper or chili flakes to taste

 

What You Need for the Lemon-Crusted Haddock

  • 2 meyer lemons, cut into slices
  • 1/4 cup shredded parm
  • 1/4 cup panko (or your favorite bread ground up in a food processor)
  • Haddock

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What You Do

Add the shredded veggies and chopped walnuts and whole cranberries to the quinoa in a large bowl and mix thoroughly. Add sesame dressing, mix well, and set aside in the refrigerator to chill for about an hour, if you can wait. This dish is good both hot and cold.

While the quinoa salad is chilling, sprinkle the haddock with fresh lemon.

Mix together the shredded parm and panko, and gently dip the lemon-doused haddock in to lightly cover the fish, or sprinkle the mixture over the fish if picking it up isn’t really an option.

Bake, grill or pan-fry the haddock until cooked. Serve alongside the quinoa salad with a mixed-green salad on the side if desired! I made a quick salad with leftover agretti, spinach leaves and chopped scallions.

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Five Days of Farmer’s Market Meals

The summer farmer’s market is like a once-a-week holiday to me.

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It’s one of my top favorite days along with Halloween and my birthday. I start preparing days ahead of time – mentally mapping out my weekend schedule to make sure I can get there in time to get eggs before they’re sold out, and secretly planning to “forget” to eat breakfast so I can order the made-on-the-spot egg, sausage and cheese croissant sandwich from one of the local farms.

The first time I ever went to our farmer’s market, about 6 or 7 years ago, I was drastically underprepared. I had ridden my bike there, and ended up riding home clutching to my handlebars a plastic bag containing my sole purchase – a carton of fresh eggs. I tried so hard to avoid all the bumps in the road.

Now I have a large and in charge straw bag that fits an almost embarrassing amount of veggies and other market goodies. Sometimes I accidentally hit people with it because my turning radius is so much wider than normal.

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It’s quite the adventure.

However, the real adventure begins at home in my kitchen, surrounded by mostly green, leafy foods that have more uses than I can wrap my brain around.

So, I decided I would turn it into a fun blog topic! For the next five days, I’m going to be posting recipes I’ve made from items purchased at our local farmer’s market! Other ingredients will be involved, but main ingredients and inspiration for the meal comes from the market.

Hope you enjoy the short journey and I hope this inspires some new ideas too! And let me know of any unique summer farmer’s market veggies you’ve discovered and used!

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Credit: Seacoast Grower’s Association

 

Tomato Rhubarb Cobbler

There is nothing not amazing about this dish.

I know that’s a horribly-put-together sentence, grammatically speaking, but it can’t be helped because I’m still in the haze of having eaten this amazing dinner.

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A couple of years ago my friend had an awesome cooking blog that was basically my kitchen bible. One day she posted this tomato cobbler recipe and with the way she raved about how good it was, it was too tempting not to try. And ever since I too was able to partake in its amazingness, it’s never left the back of my mind as the perfect summer recipe that I crave any time of year.

But it’s almost summer and that’s good enough for me; the local farmer’s market is already full of awesome, inspirational veggies. So, armed with a fresh bundle of rhubarb and already tasting warm pinched cherry tomatoes, I delved into this recipe after work and a yoga session to cap off the day right.

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It has two parts – the filling and the topping – but despite that, it’s pretty easy to make.

Preheat oven to 375 F

What You Need for the Filling:

  • 3 pints cherry tomatoes
  • One large onion, sliced thin
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 cup chopped rhubarb
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp flour

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What You Need for the Topping:

  • 1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 oz blue cheese crumbles (or extra if you’re cheese-addicted like me)
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 stick butter (8 tbsp) melted

IMG_3995What You Do:

Start by prepping the filling. Heat oil on low-medium in a large skillet. Add onion slices and cover, letting them caramelize. When they’ve become softer and begin to look translucent, add the rhubarb and garlic, stirring for about 5-8 minutes until the rhubarb softens. Remove from heat before the rhubarb totally breaks down and becomes mushy.

Add cherry tomatoes and 3 tbsp of flour to the rhubarb/onion filling and mix well, making sure the tomatoes are fully coated.

Pour the filling mixture into an 8×11 baking dish and pop the filling mixture into the oven for about 20 minutes. Take them out when the tomatoes are looking hot and pinchy.

In a medium bowl, mix the whole wheat flour, the all-purpose flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt together.

In a separate, larger bowl, mix the buttermilk and melted butter, whisking well.

Slowly add the flour mixture to the buttermilk mixture, stirring well. Then add the blue cheese and mix thoroughly. It will start to become dough-y.

Once the filling is done pre-baking, spread out the dough somewhat generously over the top of the mixture to create a topping. IMG_4005

Put this whole shebang back in the oven for another 20-25 minutes (check it though – the topping will burn easy if it’s in for too long!)

Give it some time to cool, even though that will be hard, and delve in! Works great as leftovers too!

 

Pro Tip: I have 2. First, as you guessed this is not a Gluten-Free recipe. But it easily could be by substituting the flour and using any gluten-free biscuit recipe you have for the topping! My second tip is that you will likely have biscuit dough leftover so make some biscuits! #duh