My Blog on WCCO-TV: Bite of Minnesota

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Cupcake Pops to the Rescue!

What a great Memorial Weekend! We drove out to the herb farm, bought a bunch of herbs, veggies and peppers to add to our starter plants we had growing from seed at home. We finished all the planting on Friday, so that gave us the rest of the weekend to play tennis (we both still suck), go on runs (week 4 of my running program on deck), make and eat a bunch of food, and tune up our video gaming skills. I’m not supremely talented in the video game department, but I enjoy playing. My favorite is still Dr. Mario and now that our friend, Eric, showed us some tricks in Mario Party 8 on Thursday night, I’m eager to unlock some other levels.

One of the cool things I made lately would have to be Bakerella’s Cupcake Pops. As soon as I saw them, I knew I had to make them, no matter how tedious a job. I ran out to JoAnn’s to buy the tools: lollipop sticks, bags, flower cookie cutter, and sprinkles. Then I ran to Cub to buy cake mix, frosting, white almond bark and regular chocolate bark. I forgot the M&M’s, but my sister picked some up for me. Then I got to work.

Here are the cupcake pops formed and dipped into the chocolate:

Ryan made me a special box to hold all of them upright so I didn’t have to spend money on Styrofoam.

And here’s the bite shot…yummy strawberry cake inside.

I made these for Ryan’s mom’s 50th birthday and the kids LOVED them. My niece, Ashlyn, wanted to skip dinner and kept saying, “Cake, cake!”

Big thanks to Bakerella for the awesome idea!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Tempeh Nicoise

Is it distasteful to use the term “farmer’s tan”? Because I’m getting quite the farmer's tan from running outside lately. I guess I need to get some sleeveless workout shirts or else I’m going to look quite funny when I have to wear a sundress. Eek! At least the weather is nice, right? Nice enough that salads suffice for dinner.

I love my cookbooks, especially my $1 garage sale find from a few years ago, Very Vegetarian. I always discover something cool to try and my new favorite is a vegan take on a Nicoise salad, Tempeh Nicoise. Not only am I getting a ton of veggies and a bit of protein from the tempeh, but I also get to use my favorite vinaigrette. It’s pretty basic:

(makes almost 1 cup)

1 tbsp Dijon mustard
½ tsp minced garlic
1 tsp minced shallot
½ tsp sugar
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
¼ cup red wine vinegar
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup flax oil

I could pretty much drink this stuff…but that wouldn’t be healthy, so I will take any excuse to use it on veggies. Here’s the salad ingredients before we assembled it. The dobs of white stuff is vegan aioli using Veganise, garlic, and lemon juice. I don’t usually like mayo, but it’s fantastic on the tempeh.

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Dandelion Greens & Ramp Brie Baguette

So exciting, the Mill City Farmers Market opened on Saturday! Ryan and I took his mom, Diane, because she had never been there before. I picked up some dandelion greens, lettuce mix, arugula, rhubarb, and baby bok choy. I was so excited to see the dandelion greens and to pick up tender lettuce mix from our crop share farmers at Loon Organics.

Although it was a bit cold on Saturday morning, it was still refreshing to be outside by the river and wander around. I can't wait for more market trips!

On Sunday, I made about 15 cups of croutons with the leftover bread that was overtaking my freezer. I baked them in the oven with a ground mixture of smoked sea salt, dried rosemary, and black pepper mixed with olive oil. All batches were done in just enough time to enjoy a salad. I finally had an opportunity to use what we bought at the market for dinner. I made a salad of dandelion greens, arugula, and lettuce mix and whisked together a lemon hemp oil vinaigrette.

After baking up some sweet potato fries, I used Laura's suggestion for one more ramp dish:

Brush a baguette cut in half with butter (we used our ramp butter).
Top with sliced ramps and slices of brie.
Broil for 1-2 minutes or until cheese starts to melt.
Drizzle with a little truffle oil (or you can use olive oil if you don't have truffle oil)

Everything was awesome! The salad was a great mix of tender greens with bitter leaves from the dandelion and arugula. The baguettes were fantastic and a great excuse to use a little truffle oil. I highly recommend you try this at home.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Ramp It Up!

Wow, we sure have been busy the last couple weeks. It seems the plans never end, but I can’t imagine life any other way. A couple highlights: Franz Ferdinand rocking out at First Avenue & volunteering at the PACER benefit where Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons performed. Frankie is suprisingly short, but he sure can still do the dance moves.

We’ve also been keeping busy in the kitchen trying out various ramp recipes. Are you familiar with ramps? They are a garlicky wild onion and one of the first signs of spring. They are easily used in many dishes instead of (or in addition to) garlic, onions and leeks. Although I bought mine at Mississippi Market, I know other co-ops have them too. I’m eager to see if the Mill City Farmers Market will be selling ramps at the opener this weekend. We’ll see…

Over the last week or so, we made quite a few meals with ramps as they were so easy to toss into a dish. They were great in breakfast burritos where I threw a couple of diced ramps in with the sautéing peppers. They also paired well with potatoes in a soup. My favorite meal we made would have to be pizza (I know, big surprise, I love pizza).

I made my standard pizza dough in the breadmaker and rolled it out into a circle. I spread a tiny bit of olive oil and ramp butter on the crust, topped that with mozzarella, sliced orange bell peppers, diced tomatoes and thinly sliced ramps. I baked the pizza for 10 minutes and sprinkled it with the ramp greens before serving. The ramps added the perfect spice level and did not over power the pizza at all.

Something else that kept me busy, and kept my muscles strong, was making a pound of ramp butter. After making this, I realized I definitely did NOT need a whole pound of ramp butter, but at least I can share with others. I got this idea from Serious Eats and quartered the recipe. I’d recommend cutting it down even more into eighths unless you have some great plans for your ramp butter. I've only used it on pizza and bread so far.

For other ramp recipes and ideas, visit my other blog, Bite of Minnesota, where you can find the recipes for both Spaghetti with Ramp Pesto & Potato Ramp Soup.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Vegetable Stuffed Poblano Peppers

In honor of all those Cinco de Mayo parties that are happening this weekend, I’m posting about awesome veggie stuffed poblanos! I’ve never been a big fan of regular chile rellenos because they don’t seem too healthy. When I came across a healthy version, I jumped at the chance to make these.

I do have a confession to make first…Ryan made these, I didn’t. Yeah, he’s back in action in the kitchen and in an effort to let him learn by experience, I have to take the back seat sometimes. It’s so tough because I want to fine tune so many things, but I’m proud of my restraint and truly, he does a great job on his own so I can’t complain.

Here’s a pic of the stuffed poblanos before they were baked. The peppers were then topped with a little sharp cheddar and enchilada sauce and baked until heated through.

This is now a favorite dish and would be a great crowd pleaser. The beans and veggies went so well together and it’s a great way to use up an extra can of enchilada sauce. Serve alongside a margarita and some cornbread and you’re set!

I got this recipe from a co-op newspaper, The Mix:

Vegetable Stuffed Poblano Peppers
(4 servings)

4 poblano peppers, small to medium size
1 tbsp oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 medium sized carrot, grated
2 small zucchini, cut into bite-sized cubes
1 15.5 oz. can pinto beans
1 10-oz. can enchilada sauce
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp cumin
Salt to taste
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, divided

Wash and slit open one side of peppers, leaving the stalk intact. Remove all the seeds and membranes, rinse and place in a large saucepan filled with water. Make sure you put a lid on to avoid pepper fumes filling the kitchen. Cook peppers for about 5 minutes until they turn a deep green color. Drain and set aside.

Heat the oil in a medium-sized saucepan, add the onion and cook for about 2-3 minutes. Add the zucchini and carrots and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the chili powder, oregano and cumin and make sure all the vegetables are coated.

Add the pinto beans, stir and remove from heat. Add ½ cup of shredded cheese and stir until melted. Pour about half the can of enchilada sauce into a casserole dish. Stuff each pepper with the vegetable mixture and place on top of the sauce. Pour the rest of the sauce over the peppers and cover the casserole dish with foil. Bake at 375° for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and sprinkle the rest of the cheese over the peppers and return to the oven until the cheese has melted.

Serve with salsa, sour cream, and on top of steamed rice and warmed tortillas.

This post is a contribution to Fight Back Fridays.
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