Tag Archives: Recipes

Fourth of July

When I was growing up, the Fourth of July meant park parties, slip ‘n slides, watermelon, grilling out, fireworks, and playing outside all day long. As I’ve gotten older, I look back on those days with fondness, and am still trying to decide on traditions I want to carry throughout my life. It seems to me that celebrating freedom must also include being aware of our own freedoms and working to extend that to others. As Nelson Mandela so beautifully said: “For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” So when we celebrate freedom and independence what does that truly mean? We celebrate our own freedom as well as our ability to help those who do not have what we have, we celebrate the beautiful land in which we live, we celebrate the abundance it provides, we celebrate the community we are a part of, and I’m sure we each have our own specific freedoms we celebrate each year. Our country is not just an abstract idea that was born in 1776, but it is our neighborhood, our family, our food, our rivers, and the list goes on. This is a day to remember the beauty we live among, to remember what others have done for us and what we can do for others, to recognize and appreciate how truly lucky we are and to not take that for granted. We have not gotten here alone. So when we celebrate, we feast, and we are lucky enough to live in an area where so much delicious food is in season! What better way to celebrate our home than to eat the food it provides?

The Fourth is a day for grilling out – an area of cooking I enjoy but know very little about, so I’ll leave that part up to you. I’m sure you have your favorite recipe for brats or chicken or burgers, but what is Fourth of July without the sides? I experimented a little bit this weekend with some delicious sides that will brighten up your holiday.

Black Bean and Corn Salad

Ingredients:
1 can black beanscorn and blackbean salad
5 ears of corn
1 pint grape tomatoes, chopped
1 avocado, chopped
fresh basil
2 T olive oil
garlic salt
pepper
cayenne pepper (optional)

Preparation:
Roast the corn in the oven at 350 for 25 minutes in the husk. Shuck the corn, cut it off the cob, and add all the other ingredients. Season to your desired taste and let chill in the refrigerator.

Squash and Quinoa Fritters

squash and quiona frittersThese fritters are delicious on their own as a side or snack or you can stack your choice of grilled meat on top of them. I put pan-fried salmon on top with a bechamel sauce, but any grilled meat would be delicious—even a burger for those who don’t want to eat a bun!

Ingredients:
2 eggs
2/3 cup flour (for gluten free version, use multi-purpose gluten-free King Arthur flour)
2 cups yellow squash, grated
2 cups quinoa, cooked
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
¼ cup fresh spinach, finely chopped (OPTIONAL)
1/2 teaspoon salt
For garnish:
2 green onions, chopped
dollop of sour cream or Greek Yogurt

Preparation:
Mix all the ingredients together very well in a mixing bowl. Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet until very hot. Drop a spoonful of fritter mixture into the skillet, use a spatula to flatten and round out the fritter, and allow it to cook and brown on the bottom. Once the bottom is crispy enough, flip the fritter and cook the other side. Take off heat and add salt if needed.

Note: Fritters are all about texture, if the first one doesn’t quite stay together or sticks to the pan, don’t be afraid to add a little more moisture or a little more flour. Fritters are similar to pancakes in that the first few are the ugliest until you figure out the right consistency and cook time. Don’t be discouraged! They’re worth it, I promise.

The recipe I adapted this from calls for spaghetti squash, but I used grated yellow squash. You can really use any vegetable you can grate: zucchini, beets, potatoes, carrots, etc. Experiment away!

Blueberry Lemonade Cooler

What is the Fourth of July without lemonade? But even better, lemonade complimented with local blueberries and mint? One of our customers, Treisha Hall, is a local chef, and she came up with this amazing recipe to feature our blueberries and mint in a delightful, refreshing way.

Ingredients:
1 cup fresh blueberries
20 fresh mint leaves
1 (12 ounce) can frozen concentrated lemonade
4 cups Sprite
1 lemon, sliced 

11406876_10152803482366246_2394485094937640150_nPreparation:
In a large pitcher, combine all ingredients and stir. Refrigerate for at least one hour. Serve in a chilled glass. Enjoy!

For all the adults out there, this drink would be especially delicious spiked with gin or vodka. Enjoy (and drink responsibly)!

Celebrating Asparagus

The season of asparagus has descended upon the Piedmont, a time, for some, that is highly anticipated. Europeans have festivals celebrating the arrival of asparagus; in the weeks before its appearance you can practically hear all the menus being rewritten to incorporate the cherished vegetable. The first recipes for asparagus date back to 2,500 years ago “written in ancient Greek and Egyptian hieroglyphics” and the passion continued with the Caesars who sent out ships to search for the best asparagus(Kingsolver, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle). When you eat asparagus lovingly and in season you will be joining in with royalty. But all of this asparagus-frenzy is not unfounded, it is a truly remarkable vegetable. Planting asparagus is hard work, but once planted an asparagus patch can produce for twenty to thirty years. After it is planted it takes three years before it can be harvested and then the first year of harvest can only last for two weeks. Asparagus needs an adequate amount of dormancy in the warmer months in order to store enough starch underground so that it can produce the next year. Once the patch is mature it can still only be harvested for about eight weeks before it must be allowed grow past it’s crown stage and into the stage that resembles a smaller, feathery Christmas tree—the female plants even produce bright red berries.

asparagus3

For most of my asparagus information I turned to Barbara Kingsolver, an asparagus aficionado. She is so infatuated with the plant that she has dug it into the yards of almost everywhere she has lived, including rental homes where she would never see it come to fruition. She has a whole chapter entitled ‘Waiting For Asparagus’ in her book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and joins in with other local food writers and chefs in using asparagus as the spearhead for eating seasonally and locally. “[Asparagus is] best eaten the day it is cut, period…Waiting for the quality experience seems to be the constitutional article that has slipped from American food custom. If we mean to reclaim it, asparagus seems like a place to start” (Kingsolver, 32). If we are to follow in the footsteps of Kingsolver—fantastic footsteps to follow in, I would argue—we would eat asparagus like mad for the eight weeks we can grow it and not touch it again until it peaks its grey-green head through the familiar soil the next year. What better way is there to stay in touch with the seasons than eating what they offer as they offer it?

asparagus1So with all of my research and writing about the amazing flavor of freshly harvested asparagus I couldn’t resist a trip to the farmers market for fresh asparagus. I arrived and found beautiful, alluring bunches of green and purple asparagus everywhere so I quickly chose one and ran from my urge to continue buying produce. I wanted to find a different way to cook asparagus that I had never heard of before and discovered this recipe for Lemon Dijon Crusted Asparagus Fries, which turned out quite deliciously.

Asparagus Fries

  • asparagusprep21 bunch of asparagus, washed, ends trimmed and cut in half
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • ¾ cup panko breadcrumbs
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper

Lemon Dijon Aioli

  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • salt & pepper

Asparagus Fries

  1. asparagus fries oven2Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with baking spray.
  2. Combine egg, dijon and lemon juice in a shallow bowl, whisk together.
  3. Combine breadcrumbs, lemon zest, red pepper and salt & pepper in a dish and mix together.
  4. Coat asparagus first in egg mixture and then in breadcrumb mixture. Line up on baking sheet.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes until breadcrumbs have turned golden brown and asparagus still has some “bite” left to it.
  6. Serve warm out of the oven.

Lemon Dijon Aioli

  1. While asparagus bake, combine all ingredients in a small bowl and whisk together.

asparagus fries2

You have eight weeks to enjoy the crisp, sweet presence of asparagus. Relish it while its here and, if you’re feeling daring, take after Barbara Kingsolver and experience the long wait to celebrate its majestic return.

St. Patrick’s Day Delights

St. Patrick’s Day was originally a day of feasting to honor St. Patrick, a saint who was not originally from Ireland but was kidnapped by Irish Pirates from England and brought into Ireland at the age of 16. He was sold into slavery and then escaped six years later. But he decided to return as a missionary, eventually became a priest and a bishop, and then died on March 17, 461 AD. He did not drive all the snakes out of Ireland, as myth states, (there never were any snakes in the UK because of the frigid water surrounding it), and St. Patrick’s Day was largely forgotten for the better part of a few centuries. St. Patrick’s Day as we know it today was developed by Irish immigrants in North America. They were treated terribly by most North Americans and wanted a day to remember and feel proud of their home country, so they started having parades.

Thanks to Irish Pirates and Irish immigrants we have a day in March to eat, drink, and be merry—not to mention wear green, pinch people, and talk about leprechauns. There is always the traditional meal of corned beef, potatoes, and cabbage, or the approach of serving only green food. I like to mix tradition and innovation, so here are a few different easy appetizer recipes you might like to try this Tuesday.

Kale Chips: These delicious and healthy snacks are incredibly easy to make, just make sure to keep an eye on them so they don’t burn! Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. De-stem the kale, I usually just pull it off of the stem into the size I want the chips to be. Spray a baking sheet, lay out the kale on the baking sheet, the kale can touch but don’t layer it. Sprinkle salt, pepper, garlic powder, cayenne or red pepper flakes if you like a little heat, and squeeze some lemon juice over top and put in the oven for about 5 minutes. Make sure to watch the kale, the time will differ depending on how big the kale pieces are. Enjoy!

Salt and Vinegar Smashed Potatoes: Potatoes are a must for St. Patrick’s Day, but I get stuck in making them only a few different ways. I was excited to find a different way to cook potatoes! I decided to try out this recipe and they turned out great, but mine definitely were not as pretty as the ones pictured in the recipe.

2 pounds mixed baby potatoes (Yukon Gold, red, etc.)
1 Tablespoon kosher salt, plus addt’l for sprinkling
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons white vinegar
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh chives
Freshly ground black pepper

smashed potatoes 2Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
Add potatoes and 1 Tbsp. kosher salt to a medium saucepan. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and return potatoes to saucepan. Add butter and gently toss to coat. Transfer potatoes to prepared baking sheet, spreading them out in a single layer. Using a heavy mug or glass, smash each potato to about 1/2-inch thickness. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove potatoes from oven and turn each with a spatula. Drizzle with olive oil and continue baking for 20 minutes more. Once baked, sprinkle with vinegar, chopped chives, salt and pepper. Serve hot.

Greek Spinach Dip: Dip is always a favorite appetizer of mine but it is hard to find a recipe for dip that isn’t amazingly terrible for you. Luckily I was able to find a spinach dip with Greek yogurt and feta cheese, its flavor is similar to the Greek pastry, Spanakopita. It would be great served with pita chips or pita bread.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup roughly chopped shallots
4 green onions, chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic
12 ounces spinach leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 cup Greek yogurt
1/2 cup finely crumbled feta cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
Freshly ground black pepper

Heat oil in a large frying pan over high heat. Add shallots, onions, and garlic and cook, stirring often, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add spinach and cook, stirring often, until wilted, about 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, scoop spinach into a food processor; pulse until roughly puréed, about 5 pulses. Add remaining ingredients except pepper, pulse once just to combine, then season to taste with pepper.

I would recommend adding Irish Soda Bread from Stick Boy to the celebration, they offer two different flavors: traditional and chocolate. Along with some boozy cupcakes from JP’s Pastry: Chocolate Bailey’s Cupcake (chocolate cupcake, Bailey buttercream, dipped in Bailey’s infused ganache) and Irish Whiskey Maple Vanilla Cupcake (Sour Cream White cake, Irish Whiskey Buttercream, scented with maple syrup).

Finally, we can’t celebrate St. Patty’s Day without beer. If you want something different than Guinness (although over 13 million pints are consumed around the world on St. Patrick’s Day), I have selected some awesome local beer with the help of my good friend, Reece, over at Aviator Brewing Company in Fuquay-Varina.

Aviator2
Hogwild IPA (Aviator Brewing Fuquay-Varina, NC): “A golden brew made with Pale Ale and Vienna malts.  A veritable fest of the big “C” hops. Chinook, Columbus, Cascade.  Dry hopped with Magnum, Williamette, and Amarillo.  A very hoppy and refreshing ale.”
Bed of Nails Brown Ale (Hi-Wire Brewing, Asheville, NC): “Our brown ale is crafted as an ode to traditional English brown. Its delicate body allows the flavors of caramel and toffee from our specialty malts to come to life.”
Silverback American Stout (Unknown Brewing Charlotte, NC): “This 6.5% ABV stout with 7 grains and all West Coast hops. It has a beautiful, tan head and the malts give create a smooth roasted taste and chocolate notes. It finishes with slight pine and a little more hops than most traditional stouts.”
Torch Pilsner (Foothills Brewing, Winston-Salem, NC): “Legend has it that, well over a century ago, citizens of western Bohemia grew so dissatisfied with their beer they dumped it in the streets. So a new style evolved, in the city of Pilsen, combining the soft local water with pale malts and earthy Saaz hops. And the Bohemians were pleased. Our pilsner adheres closely to that original style. ’Cause we like happy Bohemians.”

Happy celebrations!

On Winter Months and “Gross” Veggies

gross foodWhy is it that the winter vegetables are the ones that get the most criticism? How often have you heard someone say: “I pretty much like all vegetables except…beets, or turnips, or cabbage, or especially brussels sprouts”? We think of winter vegetables as bland and boring, remember their strong smells from childhood forced dinners, and we all collectively shudder. But, I’m here to tell you that you should push those prejudices aside and embrace the smelly, weird-looking winter vegetables that are so abundant in these seemingly barren months.

“We kids feared many things in those days—werewolves, dentists, North Koreans, Sunday School—but they all paled in comparison with Brussels sprouts.”—Dave Barry

Let’s start with brussels sprouts, the ones with the worst reputation for their smelliness and their bitter taste. Both of these unfortunate aspects can be avoided by cooking them correctly and, most importantly, not overcooking them. The health benefits of Brussels sprouts are myriad: they are chock full of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, folic acid, and dietary fiber, not to mention the fact that they are thought to help prevent colon cancer. They were likely cultivated in Ancient Rome and then became popular in Belgium in the sixteenth century and began to spread. Now we grow Brussels sprouts here in the cold months and once we learn to cook them correctly, we can actually enjoy their many benefits. The following is a delicious recipe from a cook at the Morning Times in Downtown Raleigh named Tommy.

Pan-Seared Brussels Sprouts in a Balsamic Reduction
-Thinly slice Brussels sprouts
-Sautee in a pan on high heat with just enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan
-When starting to brown and are slightly soft pour the balsamic reduction over them and salt and pepper to taste
-To make a balsamic reduction boil a cup of balsamic vinegar, to know when it is ready dip a spoon in the balsamic, while holding vertically swipe your finger down toward the bottom of the spoon to make a streak, turn spoon horizontally and when it doesn’t run, it is ready to use

“The beet is the most intense of vegetables…Slavic peoples get their physical characteristics from potatoes, their smoldering inquietude from radishes, their seriousness from beets.”—Tom Robbins, Jitterbug Perfume

As a child I associated beets with the canned pickled beets my grandmother would serve for Sunday dinner. It was not until college that I had the pleasure of tasting a roasted beet and it changed everything. Historically beets were used primarily for their medicinal purposes to aid in digestion, reduce fevers, and cure wounds and skin problems. Beets became very popular in the 1600s in Eastern and Central European cuisine. Its popularity only grew and they were even used as a sweetener in puddings and desserts. Another fantastic aspect of the beet is that when you cook with it the whole dish turns pink! You can boil beets and then use the water to make pink rice for picky children. My favorite way to eat beets is simply to roast them with garlic and onion. I like to slice them in thin medallions, toss them in olive oil, salt, and pepper along with chopped onion and garlic, and bake on a cookie sheet at 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

“The turnip is a capricious vegetable, which seems reluctant to show itself at its best.”
–Waverley Root

The dislike of turnips might be rooted in history. It was the primary food of the peasants in Ancient Rome and Greece, it has been traditionally used as livestock fodder, and apparently Romans threw turnips at people that they disliked. The traditional southern way to eat turnips is to boil and mash them, like potatoes, which I actually like.; but there are many different ways to use turnips. A delicious recipe I found online (actually from a list of 18 different turnip recipes) was to roast turnips and then make a mustard sauce to pour over them. Incredibly simple, just chop up turnips, roast with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and while that’s cooking mix 1 T of spicy brown mustard, 1 T apple cider vinegar, 2 T of olive oil, and 1 T of maple syrup (optional).

“The time has come…to talk of many things: Of shoes–and ships–and sealing wax–of cabbages–and kings–And why the sea is boiling hot–And whether pigs have wings.”—Lewis Carroll

Cabbage has been around for centuries, it can be found in Greek mythology in which “Diogenes advised a young man, ‘If you lived on cabbage, you would not be obliged to flatter the powerful.’  To this, the courtier replied, ‘If you flattered the powerful, you would not be obliged to live on cabbage.’ ” While I’m not sure what exactly to do with this myth, it is safe to say that cabbage has been with us for most of history all over the world. You can find cabbage in almost every cuisine. Unfortunately cabbage is remembered mostly for its pungent smell, which actually comes from the sulfur in the cabbage, an important nutrient that helps the body fight off bacteria. Cabbage is incredibly rich in Vitamin C, fiber, iron, calcium, and potassium. Basically it’s amazing and you should eat it all the time (it is present in so many different cuisines that you can’t even get tired of it)! Here’s an intriguing sounding recipe for fried cabbage: Shred some cabbage, chop up and fry a few pieces of bacon, chop a yellow onion, add to the bacon, and sautee in butter, finally add the shredded cabbage and cook for 30 minutes, At the end add a little more butter, a dash of apple cider vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste and enjoy!

Winter seasonal vegetables collection including potatoes, parsni

I know that February is a hard month physically and emotionally–the bitter cold has begun to sink into your bones and the soil is basically barren, we all may have forgotten what flowers actually smell like. February seems to be the month of waiting for winter to end. The best way to fight off that winter depression is to get into the warm kitchen and try new recipes with what is available. Hopefully you’ll be delighted by the delicious abundance that is readily available in the winter.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Harvesting timeThanksgiving happens to be my favorite holiday; what could be more beautiful than a celebration centered on eating together and remembering all that we have to be thankful for? It is easy to allow ourselves to get wrapped up in the preparation and production of the day or any of the other multitude of issues the holidays can bring up. But this is what I find to be incredibly beautiful about Thanksgiving: there is something inspiring about taking time to be thankful and to love those around us. When we realize the abundance we have become accustomed to, the relationships we have taken for granted, it is one of the most humbling experiences we can have. Being aware of how lucky we are to have family, to have food, to have shelter, makes it hard to sit idly by while others are going without. There is a power behind preparing food for and eating food with other people. It fosters this awareness, it removes us from our insular, single-minded daily lives, and puts us on the same level as the person next to us, the person who grew our food, the person who prepared it; and we notice the person who is hungry. Eating is an act of communion and when we pay attention it connects us with every single other person and animal on this planet. I cannot think of a more valuable celebration than one that reminds us of our dependence on other people and on the earth, we are not as separate as we like to think we are and that is a beautiful thing. So this Thanksgiving let us remember everything we have to be thankful for, let us remember our brothers and sisters around the world, and let us take action to make this world a better place in whatever way rings true to each of our hearts. We cannot do everything, but we each can do a little bit, and taking time to be thankful is the first step.

“…to speak of the pleasure of eating is to go beyond those categories. Eating with the fullest pleasure – pleasure, that is, that does not depend on ignorance – is perhaps the profoundest enactment of our connection with the world. In this pleasure we experience and celebrate our dependence and our gratitude, for we are living from mystery, from creatures we did not make and powers we cannot comprehend. …”—Wendell Berry

And in the true spirit of sharing celebrations, here are some fantastic Thanksgiving recipes from the Papa Spud’s staff:

Roasted Beer-Brined Turkey with Onion Gravy and Bacon from Rob
Source: http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/roasted-beer-brined-turkey-with-onion-gravy-and-bacon

1/4 cup yellow mustard seeds
2 tablespoons black peppercorns
8 bay leaves
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup kosher salt
2 onions, cut into thick wedges
1 pound slab bacon, skin removed and meat sliced 1/3 inch thick
Six 12-ounce bottles Guinness stout
One 12- to 14-pound turkey
1 cup turkey stock or low-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

  1. In a very large pot, combine the mustard seeds, peppercorns and bay leaves and toast over moderate heat until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the brown sugar and salt and remove from the heat. Add 4 cups of water and stir until the sugar and salt are dissolved; let cool completely.
  2. Add the onions, bacon, Guinness and 16 cups of cold water to the pot. Add the turkey to the brine, breast side down, and top with a heavy lid to keep it submerged. Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350° and position a rack on the bottom shelf. Lift the turkey from the brine, pick off any peppercorns, mustard seeds and bay leaves and pat dry. Transfer the turkey to a large roasting pan, breast side up. Scatter the onion wedges in the pan and add 1 cup of water. Using toothpicks, secure the bacon slices over the breast. Roast the turkey for about 2 hours, turning the pan occasionally, until an instant-read thermometer inserted deep into the turkey thighs registers 150°. Remove the bacon and return the turkey to the oven. Roast for about 1 hour longer, until the breast is browned and an instant-read thermometer inserted in a thigh registers 170°. Transfer the turkey to a carving board.
  4. Pour the pan juices and onion wedges into a saucepan and boil until reduced to 3 cups, about 5 minutes. Add the turkey stock and return to a boil. In a small bowl, mash the butter to a paste with the flour. Whisk the paste into the gravy and boil until thickened slightly, about 5 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, cut the bacon crosswise 1/2 inch thick. In a large skillet, fry the bacon over high heat, stirring occasionally, until browned and crisp, about 3 minutes.
  6. Carve the turkey and serve with the gravy and bacon.

Green Bean Casserole from Justin
Source: http://food52.com/recipes/7875-homemade-green-bean-casserole

Serves 6

  • 5
 pounds French green beans, ends trimmed
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • 1 
cup shallots, thinly sliced
  • 3
 tablespoons flour, divided
  • 8 
ounces mushrooms (shitake and baby bella or mixed), sliced
  • 2 
tablespoons butter
  • 2
 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4
 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4
 cup dry white wine
  • 1
 cup vegetable broth (or chicken)
  • 1
 cup half and half
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Wash and trim green beans. Blanch in boiling, well-salted water. Immediately transfer to ice water bath and set aside.
  3. Heat 1 to 2 inches of vegetable oil in a deep, medium skillet.
  4. Pat shallots dry, then toss with 1 tablespoon of flour. Season with salt and pepper. Fry shallots in oil (in batches) until golden brown, then transfer to a plate to drain on a paper towel.
  5. Melt butter over medium heat in a medium pan or cast iron skillet. Add mushrooms and saute until mushrooms are golden brown.
  6. Add garlic and nutmeg and cook for another minute or two. Add 2 tablespoons of flour and cook for 1 minute.
  7. Slowly add white wine, cook for a minute and stirring to break up any flour lumps. Slowly add vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Boil the mixture for another 2 minutes, then turn the heat down to medium-low.
  8. Add half & half and cook, stirring, until mixture begins to thicken. Take off heat.
  9. Add green beans to mushroom mixture. Add 1/4 cup of the fried shallots. Mix to combine and season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer green bean casserole to a 9×9 baking dish or bake in cast iron skillet. Sprinkle remaining shallots on top or around edges of casserole.

Bake for 20 minutes until green beans are warmed and mixture is a little bubbly.

Sweet Potato Casserole from Alex’s Mom
3 cups raw sweet potato, grated
1/2 to 3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cups melted butter
2 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
Mix well.  Turn into casserole dish.

Topping

1/2 cups brown sugar
1/4 cup flour
1 TBS melted butter
1/2 cup chopped pecans
Sprinkle on top and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

**May double for large gathering.  This serves 6 people

Spicy Vegetarian Collards from Lindsay
Before you cook collards make sure to wash them very thoroughly, they tend to hold grit and dirt more than other greens.

Ingredients:
1 bunch collards
1 large yellow onion
3-4 cloves of garlic
Apple Cider Vinegar
Yellow Mustard
Red Pepper Flakes
Salt
Pepper

Chop the onion and garlic and sauté them in olive oil with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Meanwhile take the stems out of the collards and chop them up (the smaller you chop them the faster they will cook, I usually chop them in 1 inch wide strips). Once the onions are translucent add the collards, put water (or vegetable stock for even more flavor) in, enough to cover the collards. Bring to a boil, cover, and cook on medium-low heat. At this point add in two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and a squeeze of mustard. I continue to add spices by taste testing as the collards cook down, it’s really up to you how vinegar-y you want them to taste! Make sure to keep adding water as the collards cook. Cook until tender.

Samosa-Style Stuffed Baked Potatoes from Kristina
Source: http://foodandspice.blogspot.com/2012/08/samosa-style-stuffed-baked-potatoes.html

Ingredients:

  • 2 large Russet or baking potatoes
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream, vegetable stock or water
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen peas
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small carrot, cut into small cubes
  • 1 small clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1 to 2 fresh green chilies or jalapeños, seeded and minced
  • 1-inch piece fresh ginger, minced

Spices:

1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2/3 teaspoons chat masala (see note)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
pinch of asafetida
2/3 teaspoon sea salt
olive oil for brushing

Instructions:
Scrub the potatoes, pierce with a fork, and bake in a 400° oven for 1 hour or until fork tender. Remove from heat and let cool. When the baked potatoes are cool, slice in half lengthwise and gently scoop out the center into a medium bowl, leaving roughly 1/4-inch of the potato in the skin. Mash the scooped out potato with the cream, vegetable stock or water. If using fresh peas, boil them with some water in a small saucepan for a minute or two until just tender. If using frozen peas, just rinse in a strainer briefly. Set aside. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed frying pan over medium heat. When hot, add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds to the pan. Stir for 30 to 60 seconds or until the mustard seeds turn grey and begin to splutter and pop. Now add the onions and carrots and cook, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes or until the onion begins to brown. Add the garlic, chilies or jalapeños, and ginger to the pan and stir for 1 minute. Now add the spices and salt and stir for 1 minute. Add a tablespoon of water to deglaze the pan, then add the mashed potatoes and cook, stirring often, until the potato is heated throughout. Add more cream or water if the mixture seems too dry. Stir in the peas and cook for another few minutes. If you are adding lemon juice instead of chat masala, stir it in now (see note below). Remove from heat. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and preheat an oven to 400°. Brush the potato shells with some olive oil and transfer the mashed potato mixture to the shells, pressing the filling down gently with a wooden spoon until the mixture sits firmly.

Bake the stuffed potatoes for 20 to 30 minutes or until the tops are lightly browned. Remove from heat, let cool for 5 to 10 minutes, and serve hot, topped with your favorite chutney and garnished with fresh parsley and finely chopped chives if desired.
Note: If you don’t have chat masala powder on hand, use fresh lemon juice from one small lemon and add when the potatoes and peas are heated throughout in the frying pan.

Makes 2 servings

Cranberry Apple Casserole from Chris           

1 & 1/2 c peeled, sliced tart apples
1 c fresh cranberries
1/2 c sugar, white
1/4 c chopped nuts
1/2 c uncooked oatmeal
1/4 c brown sugar
1/4 c melted butter
1/8 c flour

Mix first apples, cranberries, and white sugar. Pour into greased 8×8″ baking dish. Blend oatmeal, brown sugar, butter, and flour. Sprinkle nuts on top.  Bake 40-45 minutes at 350 degrees.

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Caramel Swirl from Alex’s Mom

Crust
1 1/2 cups gingersnap cookies
1 1/2 cups toasted pecans
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cups melted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease 9 inch springform pan. Wrap outside of pan in aluminum foil.
Finely grind cookies, pecans and brown sugar in food processor. add butter and blend.  Spread and press crumbs onto bottom and partially up sides of pan.

Filling
4 8 oz. pkgs cream cheese , room temperature
1 2/3 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups of pumpkin puree ( 1 12 oz canned pumpkin)
4 TBS whipping cream
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
4 eggs

Beat cream cheese and sugar til light and fluffy. Reserve 1 cup and refrigerate for topping.  Add whipping cream, spices, pumpkin- mix well. Beat in 1 egg at a time.  Pour into crust.  Bake approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes or until cheesecake center moves only slightly when shaken. Open oven slightly and leave cake in oven for 30 minutes.  Run sharp knife around cake pan sides to loosen cake and cool on counter before covering tightly and placing in fridge overnight or at lease 8 hours before serving.

Topping
1 cup reserved cream cheese mixture, room temperature
5 TBS whipping cream
Mix well

Caramel Sauce  (**easier version- buy caramel topping for ice cream)
1 cup brown sugar
2TBS water
1/2 cup butter
1 tsp vanilla
1TBS cream

Boil sugar and water stirring constantly until smooth, approx 5 minutes on medium to low heat.  Add butter, return to boil.  Stir in cream and vanilla. Cool before use.

Remove cheesecake from fridge. Release and remove sides of pan. Spread cream cheese topping onto cake. Pour caramel sauce in lines on top. Use knife to swirl caramel sauce. Serve residual sauce with cake.

Dog (not in focus) licks itself and sitting in front of big tast