27 July, 2011

Simple Summer Pasta

Today I am sharing an idea.
A recipe without measurements.
This is how I like to cook.

I know there is always pasta in my pantry, veggies on my counter and cheese in my fridge.
Cook pasta. Cut veggies. (squash and tomatoes in this picture)
Combine in a casserole dish with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
Fold in some parmesan cheese or feta.
Bake in 350 degree oven for 20 minutes.
Add grilled chicken if you please.
Fresh. Simple.Yum.

21 July, 2011

Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

Confession...I might have not tasted a dish because I did not like its ingredients. And I might have missed out on a great dish. Sometimes we decide we don't like a certain food and so we never try it again. We should try it again. And again. And again. Foods combined with different ingredients, prepared a certain way, or cooked with an alternate method usually taste completely different. Sometimes it is the consistency, the accompaniments, the presentation, or the dipping sauce that can make the difference.

Here are just a couple of my own personal examples:
I do not like maraschino cherries. I adore fresh cherries.
I do not feast on spicy tuna sushi rolls. I dig raw tuna and grilled tuna.
I do not enjoy raw cauliflower. I love cauliflower soup and cauliflower gratins.
I do not care for hamburgers and despise meatloaf. I am giddy for meatballs.
I do not appreciate grilled chicken breast. I fancy chicken skewers with a dipping sauce. 
I hate green peas (yes, the "h word"). I tolerate frozen green peas and admire fresh green peas.
Do you have a personal example?

I have never been a huge fan of portobello burgers; however I would join the facebook fan page for grilled and stuffed mushrooms if there was one. "Simple Plates like this"

Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms
Adapted from Marinated Mushroom Caps, Whole Living Magazine, June 2011
juice of 2 lemons
1 tsp grated lemon zest*
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp salt
4 small portobello mushroom caps
1/2 cup raw cashews **
1 ear corn, shucked
Whisk lemon juice, lemon zest, oil, garlic and salt. (*I never measure lemon zest)
Arrange mushrooms round side down in a shallow dish and pierce them with a knife or fork.
Soak cashews in warm water for at least 30 minutes, drain, and pulse in a food processor until the consistency of a hummus. Taste and season with salt.
Once mushrooms are done marinating, remove them from their dish, spoon cashew puree into the caps, and top with corn. You can bake, grill, or broil these to your desired consistency. I put them in a 350 degree toaster oven for about 15 minutes and finished them off under the broiler for a couple minutes until the corn achieved some char.

**Vegans and those on raw food diets use cashews to make "cheese" and "cream". You can stuff your mushrooms with lots of different ingredients but I urge you to try the cashew cheese.

15 July, 2011

Whipped Sorbet

Cheers to Friday!
Don't let summer or its bounty pass you by.

Whipped Sorbet
Whole Living Magazine August 2011
3 bananas, peeled and frozen
1 cup frozen berries
Puree ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Serve immediately.

12 July, 2011

Wing It: One Year of Simple Plates

One year ago I started a project called Simple Plates. As I nervously pressed the publish button I wondered about the future of this project. Would I be able to keep it up for a year or longer? Would my ideas dry up or would the outlet help them flow? Would I enjoy it or would it become a burden? Would I get positive feedback or any feedback at all? I am known as a planner and am not much of a risk taker. I like to stay on the trail, follow an agenda, and have multiple contingency plans. The lesson learned is that while planning and analyzing works for most decisions there are times when we should just follow our hearts, trust our instincts and wing it.  My biggest reward has been the feedback received from my family, my friends and complete strangers. I hope that Simple Plates has provided something for you whether that may be dinner ideas ripe for tweaking, motivation to get into the kitchen, or just a bit of entertainment. Balance is my goal. Learning to appreciate the art of winging it just so happened along the way.

I have created a facebook page to celebrate the one year anniversary of Simple Plates. If you are a fan please "like" my new page and help pass on the word to others. Also, you can join as a Simple Plate follower by clicking the "join this site" button on the right and signing in with any email and password. Thank your for reading! Here are some favorites from the past year:
My Family's Favorite: Turkey Pot Pie
Favorite Summer Recipe: Corn Summer Salad
Favorite Rainy Day Recipe: Taco Soup
Favorite Recipe for large group: Back Pocket Lasagna
Favorite Picture : Slaw Dogs with Mango
Simplest of the Simple Plates: Egg Tomato Toast

06 July, 2011

Strawberry Oat Date Bar

I only have a handful of vivid childhood memories. However, my sister seems to remember everything from the womb to the present day. In one of my memories my sisters and I are in black leotards standing on a chair at our kitchen table making date bars with one of my many favorite aunts. Maybe I cheated on this memory as there is also a photograph from this day. This memory is what I think of when I think of dates. The other day I came across a recipe for strawberry date oat bars in Whole Living magazine and decided to give it a try. You know for old time's sake.
What is a date? Is it the big sister of the raisin, the cousin of a prune, an in-law of the fig? Or just a reason to get dressed up on a Saturday night and wear perfume? Well maybe, but mostly it is a fruit that happens to be high in fiber, calcium and potasium. Dates are sticky and and when ground into a paste you can use them as a natural sweetner for baking. Or you can use them as the star of the recipe. Date night anyone?
Makes 6 servings
1.5 cups pitted dates
1/4 cup raw macadamia nuts *
2 tbsp old fashioned rolled oats
Pinch of sea salt
1 cup strawberries thinly sliced

Pulse dates, nuts, oats, and salt in a food processor until combined. The mixture will first turn into a sandy consistency but after a few minutes it will all come together. Press the date mixture onto a cutting board into a square or circle. Put half of your strawberries into the food processor until they look like a jam. Spread the jam onto the top of the date bar and set in the refrigerator for about 30 minues. Remove from refrigerator, cut into bars, and add sliced strawberries on top.

*In this recipe I used cashews instead of macadamia nuts and imagine a bit of honey would be a good addition. The bars are the consistency of a really chewy and gooey granola bar and I imagine you could tweak this recipe to make some really creative treats.