Friday, June 22, 2012

This is not that healthy, but is definitely delicious and easy to make.  I found the recipe on


canola oil for frying
1/2 c milk
1/2 c heavy cream
4 eggs
3 tbs sugar
2 teaspoons of vanilla
6 english muffins, halved
powder sugar

Mix the milk, cream, eggs and 3 tbs of sugar in a shallow bowl.  Whisk until well combined.  Soak the english muffins in the liquid, on both sides.

Heat 1/4 inch of oil in a pan.  When warm, fry the english muffins on each side until golden brown.  About 30 seconds.  Leave them to rest on a plate lined with paper towels, to soak up the extra oil.Serve with powdered sugar, fruit and/or syrup.  (We didn't have powdered sugar so made do with strawberries and maple syrup.)

Stuffed Ball Squash

Ugly picture alert!  Dan promised to use his fancy camera to start taking my food photos so they won't be so darn ugly.  I'm hoping we can get that going next week.  Until then, ugly photos it is!

This recipe is a combination effort.  The woman selling the ball squash suggested stuffing them with sausage, rice and goat cheese.  I obviously don't do sausage so Dan and I tweaked it and decided on lentils, tomatoes, and kalamata olives as well.  We bought "western ranch" goat cheese, which was from Hidden Creek Farm.  I didn't want to do something with a lot of sauce, so I cooked the quinoa and lentils both in vegetable broth, then tossed everything in some olive oil and lemon juice.  That let the goat cheese and the squash hold their own and really come through.

2 medium ball squash
1/2 cup cooked quinoa (I cooked mine in the rice maker, 1/2 c quinoa, 1 c veggie broth)
1/2 cup cooked lentils (boiled these guys for about 25 minutes in veg broth)
1/2 can of tomatoes, drained and diced
handful of kalamata olives, roughly chopped
3-4 oz flavored goat cheese
salt and pepper to taste
2 tsp olive oil
2 tsp lemon juice

Cook your lentils and your quinoa.  Cut the top off of your squash and scoop of the seeds and guts, like you would a pumpkin.  Make sure you don't scrape it too thin, leave some squash to eat!  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  I dumped my squash guts, but someone else told us she separates the seeds and roasts them to snack on later.

Mix your quinoa, lentils, kalamata olives and tomatoes in a bowl.  Drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice, season with salt and pepper to taste and mix.  Chop or crumble your goat cheese and mix that in as well.  We did this when our stuffing was warm, the goat cheese kind of melted and it was DELICIOUS that way, but you can also mix it when cold to make sure you get melty pockets of goat cheese instead.

Stuff your squash and bake on 350 until the squash is cooked through (when you can pierce it with a fork).  This was about 30 minutes for us.

Romano Beans with Oregano

One of my favorite parts about living in the Shenandoah Valley is the local food movement.  We have constant access to unique, fresh, delicious foods and we love exploring the different farms, producers and farmers markets.  I have a rating system in my head of which farmers markets, farms and farm stands I like best and when they're open.  It's like an excel spreadsheet in my brain.  For food.

When we moved to Staunton, the Staunton farmer's Market became my favorite.  Every Saturday morning Darwin and I would walk down.  First stop would be green beans to bribe Darwin for good behavior.  If he didn't get green beans first thing, he'd resort to rooting through the bins at each of the stalls looking for them.  Zucchini and peppers are also acceptable substitutes in the world of Darwin.  The best part about the Staunton Farmers Market?  The producers.  By and large the stands are run by the producers and the farm's owners.  They take the time to get to know you and your own personal tastes, will make recommendations, and share their green beans with your dog (maybe that's just me....)

Rockbridge has a farmer's market Saturday morning and Lexington has one Wednesday morning.  I've made it to the Wednesday one once and there was an excellent farm stall with the most delicious purple cauliflower I have ever had.  Bonus points that it was PURPLE.  Unfortunately, I normally spend my Wednesday mornings "persecuting" (as one defense attorney likes to call it).  Lucky for me, Saturday's market is exactly what I love; friendly local farmers telling you all about their food.  They also have someone who sells fresh caught trout which makes me ridiculously excited.  Fresh fish is not easy to get over here.  I'm going to have to start paying more attention to which farms everything comes from so I can share with you guys, but we are constantly finding new and interesting veggies, some I have never seen before.  We're also meeting amazing people who can tell us all about the food, their family farms, and their community projects.  We regularly run into the chef from Brix with trash bags full of greens.  Excellent reminder as to why we LOVE that restaurant.

The point of that long winded story?  I saw something that looked like green beans and were called romano beans and figured what the heck.  I definitely need to eat those.  When I started googling recipes I learned that they aren't that common, which I am adding to my list of why I love our farmer's market.  After some tweaking I came up with a recipe, mostly borrowed from the LA times website.  Dan and I both thought that the romano beans tasted kind of like anise and a little like mint.  Yummy and delicious, not a snap pea and not a green bean, a little like both.

1 lb romano beans
1 tbs olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tbs fresh oregano, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbs balsamic vinegar
1/2 a can of tomatoes, drained and diced (you can also use 1/2 cup of grape tomatoes, halved)

Rinse the romano beans, then snip the ends off and remove the string running along the back of the pod.  Bring a pot of salted water to a boil.  When it starts to boil, throw the beans in and blanche them until al dente.  The recipe called for five minutes, but for me it wound up being closer to ten.  Drain in a colander.

Heat the tbs of olive oil in a pan.  Sautee the garlic and oregano until fragrant, about two minutes.  Add the beans and cook approximately 10 minutes, until tender.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Add the tomatoes and cook approximately two minutes. Remove from heat, finish with balsamic vinegar and allow to sit for a minute or two.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Whole Wheat Banana Blueberry Bread

Someone had an adventure with AP flour the other day, which resulted in a sofa covered in gummy, sticky, flour paste.  Pretty clearly this someone was not human.  (The bonus of having five animals is that you can blame pretty much any household disaster on a four legged monster).

The backstory involves the SPCA, as basically all of my backstories do.  After fostering a puppy mill rescue back in January and seeing how much Darwin loved having a friend, Dan and I bit the bullet.  In return for tolerating the cats smacking him (Hunter), sleeping on him (Boo), and blatantly stealing his food (Sam), Darwin needed a dog friend.  So we packed him in the car, drove him to multiple shelters and pounds, let him play with a dozen or so dogs, and chose Molly.  For Darwin and Molly it was love at first sight.  They were licking each others faces, play bowing, and chasing within ten minutes of meeting one another.

Unfortunately, there is a downside to puppy love.  Like when you put up a babygate without checking to make sure both dogs are on the same side.  As it turns out, Molly was heartbroken to be separated from Darwin and did what any love sick girl does: she binged on carbs.  In particular, she got into the 35 pound bag of AP flour and spent the day nomming it into a paste, then rubbing her face on my sofa.  And while I was scrubbing my sofa clean, she went back for more, appeared with a face COVERED in flour, then ran for the bed when I tried to wipe her off.  I think she made her point.  Never separate puppies in love.  Also, hound dogs hate being alone.  

Needless to say when I got the urge to make banana blueberry bread there was no AP flour to be found.  After scouring my cabinet for whole wheat pastry flour and then the internet for a recipe using whole wheat pastry flour, I found this recipe on A Dash of Sass.  I had my doubts about baking with whole wheat flour but this bread was delicious.  Substituting whole wheat flour for AP and honey for sugar also means I can pretend this is healthy!

Whole Wheat Banana Blueberry Bread

 1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 cup mashed, very ripe bananas (I used two bananas)
1 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup hot water
2/3 cup wild blueberries (I used closer to a full cup)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Whisk oil and honey together in a large bowl, then add the two eggs and whisk for about 90 seconds, or until fully combined.

Add the vanilla and mashed bananas.  Mix flour and salt together in a bowl, then add to the oil, eggs, and banana mixture.

In a small cup or bowl, heat the water and add the baking soda.  Allow to dissolve, then mix fully with the banana mixture.  I left out the walnuts, but if you want to use some, this would be the time to add them.

The recipe then tells you to mix in the blueberries.  I mixed them in the bowl, then added them to the pan and they mostly sank to the bottom.  Dan advised that it would be better to pour the batter into the pan, then gently and quickly mix the blueberries in.  I used fresh, you can use frozen, but the color may bleed a little bit.

Bake for 50-60 minutes, then allow to cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack.  (You probably want to allow more like 30 or 40 minutes to cool).

This bread is excellent warm with a little butter, or you could spread all natural PB or almond butter for a yummy breakfast.