A Special Occasion Vegetarian Feast

Why not try THREE totally new, more complex than normal recipes for a special holiday meal? All three turned out about as perfectly as I could imagine, and I would definitely make them all again (although not obvious with the poor iPhone photo showing).

First up: Beet, Orange, Rhubarb & Endive Salad inspired by Epicurious
I had three ginormous beets, boiled them for an hour, peeled, sliced and chilled them for another hour. The rhubarb, fresh from Watauga County Farmers Market, was sliced diagonally dropped in warm but not boiling water/sugar mix and left to simmer 2 minutes, followed by chilling. Mix those two together with cut navel orange chunks and endive, plus a dash of feta, and you have a sweet tangy crunchy salad.

Next on tap: Vegetables Wellington Redux from Vegetarian Times
This was actually pretty simple, but required a lot of prep. Chop red pepper, asparagus, onion, and Rowan County chard, then saute for 10 minutes (adding chard at about 6 minutes). Mix in some homemade pesto and set aside. Working with thawed pastry crust sheets laid on parchment paper (essential, do not skip!), line a loaf pan with the pastry like a box. Spread marscapone on the bottom, sprinkle with rosemary and garlic powder and poke holes in the pastry. Add the asparagus mix, sprinkle with parmesan, and fold the top edges around and over to make an enclosed roll. Brush exposed pastry with an egg and chill 20 mins. Bake at 425 for 15 minutes, reduce heat to 350 and bake another 45 minutes. Serve with marinara sauce on the side.

And lastly: Sweet Potato Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
I combined and modified about 5 recipes into the following.

1 c whole wheat flour
1 c white flour
1 t baking soda
1 t baking powder
1/4 t ginger
1 T cinnamon
1/2 t nutmeg
pinch of salt
1/2 c softened butter
1/2 c packed brown sugar
3/4 c sugar
1 c egg beaters

2 c mashed sweet potato (just nuke ‘em for 6-8 mins)
dried cranberries

Combine first eight ingredients and mix well. In separate bowl, combine remaining ingredients, except sweet potato, mix well. Gently fold flour mix into wet ingredients. Do not over mix, and then gently fold in sweet potato (clumps are ok!). Place into greased muffin tins and bake 20-24 minutes until springy.

1 package low fat cream cheese
1/2 c powdered sugar
2 T cinnamon
1 T vanilla extract

Stir cheese to loosen, then gently beat in remaining ingredients until creamy. Frost cupcakes and top with dried cranberries.


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Pass the Pimentos Please

In college, pimento cheese held a special place in my menu quirks. I didn’t dine on it frequently, but I when I did…a nice spread, two slices of bread, and FRITOS! That’s right, I put chips on my sandwich. So delicious that gooey crunchy concoction was. The unfortunate thing, of course, that isn’t especially healthy.
Fast forward a few, or twelve, years and I’ve grown up a bit, and decided to give those eats a makeover. It turned out perfect, not quite as slimy or fatty, but I also didn’t feel guilty enjoying the cheesy goodness!
8 oz sharp or extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated
4-6 oz plain Greek yogurt (depending on desired creaminess)
¼ c jarred pimentos (to taste)
2-3 T sweet pickle juice (to taste)
dash of freshly ground black pepper
Mix it all up, chill, serve on melba toasties, crackers, or as a grilled sandwich with lettuce for the crunch (instead of fritos!). 

Chinese Chicken Noodle Soup with Green Onions & Sesame

Quite an impressive title huh? For the first official Winter Harvest meal, I wanted to use those delicious green onions. Local fresh ones always seem to be spicier and stronger than the store variety, yet somehow milder than regular onions.

Nevermind that I forgot they were the star ingredient until I’d already diced up a yellow onion and had to package it back up and put in the fridge. Oops. Luckily it wasn’t too late to feature these guys from Poplin Farm.

This packaging cracks me up.

The recipe that I adapted from called for Napa Cabbage, which looked less than appealing at the grocery store (I can’t imagine it’s turnover rate is very respectable and it showed. Substitution time!).

I used Savoy Cabbage, that came from Critcher Farms in Deep Gap, NC. That just happens to be about a half mile down the road from my parent’s house!

Cabbage is a winter vegetable and it is entering it’s peak month (according to Wikipedia).

Chopped to pieces.

I put together a marinade of low-sodium soy, EVOO, and Sherry. And, for this meal, we reached a new milestone in the Green Kitchen. I didn’t think it was possible for a food photo, especially one I took, to be…well, gross. Squeamish readers shield your eyes….

Chopped up (organic, free-range) chicken marinating. Pretty gross looking.

I let it sit for a while and sauted a bunch of pressed garlic.

Add in the cabbage/onions. Boil some water for the noodles.

Hello shutter speed.

Add in the stock and the cooked chicken strips.

Add some sesame.

Combine it all and add the cilantro.

VOILA!

Chinese Chicken Noodle Soup
with Green Onions & Sesame

Adapted from epicurious.com

90 g (1/3 package) Ramen-style noodles
32 oz low sodium chicken broth + 1 c water
2-3 c chopped savoy cabbage (or Napa)
6-8 large green onions finely chopped
2 medium chicken breasts cut into thin 1″ long strips
4-6 cloves minced fresh garlic
3-4 T sesame seeds
1/4 c chopped fresh cilantro
3 T low sodium soy sauce
2 T cooking Sherry
2 T extra virgin olive oil

Combine soy, Sherry and half of oil into marinade for chicken strips. Let sit 20 minutes or up to 2 hours in the refrigerator. In a Dutch oven or large soup pot, heat half oil and add garlic, cook 1 minute on medium heat. Add in cabbage, onions, and gradually add water while cooking for 3-5 minutes. Add broth. In separate skillet, cook chicken strips 5-8 minutes just until done, and coat well with sesame seeds. In separate pot, prepare noodles as directed and drain. Transfer chicken and noodles to soup pot and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer up to 10 minutes longer, adding in cilantro after 5 minutes.