Roasted Green Beans and Fennel

IMG_2141Fresh green beans paired with a huge bulb of fennel from the farmers’ market is a new favorite side for me, just as roasting is my new favorite way of cooking vegetables.  These were so pretty before they went into the oven that I posted this before image. They looked great after roasting as well, but we served them up with leftover baked chicken and they disappeared before having their picture taken. I will definitely serve this dish again soon and might experiment with adding some chopped shallots but the flavor was excellent with just the toss of olive oil and sprinkles of sea salt and freshly ground pepper!

Roasted Green Beans and Fennel

4 cups fresh green beans, washed, ends snipped and broken in pieces

1 large bulb fennel, greens and root trimmed, cut into small chunks, rinsed carefully and       patted dry

olive oil

sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place green beans and fennel pieces in baking dish, drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat. Sprinkle with  sea salt and ground pepper.  Roast for 20 to 25 minutes.

Warm Green Lentil Salad with Shallot Vinaigrette

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I have cooked brown lentils in one of our favorite soups for many years.  When I was experimenting with various Indian foods, I used different colors and kinds of lentils, even grinding them once to make a lentil flour in my attempt to make a good masala dosa.  But when I saw this recipe a few months ago on one of my favorite blogs I knew I wanted to try Green Lentils! These tiny dark green lentils are harder to find, but Whole Foods has them in their bulk food section.

Another attraction to the recipe posted in http://www.backroadjournal.wordpress.com was its billing as a French Bistro meal.  For that recipe, spicy lamb sausages called Merguez  were used, but I used what I could find, which was a lovely Italian spicy sausage.  So maybe my version of the salad is an Italian bistro meal!  Serve with a crusty loaf of bread.  Leftovers can be eaten cold (the flavors have already been soaked up in the lentils and vegetables) or warmed.

Warm Lentil Salad with Shallot Vinaigrette

4 servings, or 2 generous ones!

Shallot Vinaigrette

2  Tbsp. of either sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar

pinch of sea salt (about 1/8 tsp.

freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. finely minced shallot

2 tsp.Dijon mustard

1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil

Mix vinegar, salt, pepper and the minced shallot.. Let sit for about 5 minutes to soften shallots. Stir in the mustard, then whisk in the oil in a slow, steady stream. Taste and adjust for more oil or more vinegar, salt or mustard if needed.

Lentil Salad

1 or 2 spicy sausages, sliced

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1/2 large onion, diced

1 stalk of celery, diced

1/2 small bulb of fennel, diced (optional)

2 cloves of garlic, minced

3/4 cup green Lentils de Puy, rinsed well

2 cups chicken broth

1 teaspoon dried French Thyme (I use Penzey’s)

1 bay leaf

1 potato (I used Yukon Gold), peeled and diced

1 carrot, peeled and diced (here I used a lovely yellow carrot from the Farmer’s Market)

salt and pepper, to taste

fresh chopped thyme or parsley for garnish if you wish

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat, add the sausages and brown until they are a little crispy. Remove from the pan and keep warm. In the same saucepan, add the onions, celery and fennel, sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook about 1 minute. Add the lentils, and broth to cover by about 2 inches. Add thyme, bay leaf, and season with salt and pepper. Raise the heat to medium high, bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Partially cover the pan with a lid and simmer the lentils until they are just tender, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, cover the diced potatoes and carrots with cold, salted water. Cook over moderately high heat until the potatoes and carrots are tender, about 10 minutes. Drain well and place in a large bowl, toss with a little of the vinaigrette.

When the lentils are done, drain well, place in the bowl with the cooked potatoes and carrots. Discard the bay leaf. Add the rest of the vinaigrette and toss well. Let sit for a few minutes until the vinaigrette is absorbed, taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary. If the lentils seem dry, you can drizzle with a little olive oil. To serve, transfer the lentils to individual plates or bowls and top with the sausages.

Be sure to add the vinaigrette while the lentils and vegetables are hot so that they can absorb all the flavors.

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Poppy Seed Rolls

 IMG_1781 IMG_1779Crescent roll dough found in the refrigerator section of the supermarket is one of the most versatile ingredients to be found!  Hundreds of uses can be found online and in cookbooks, featuring the dough in everything from savory starters to desserts.  Stuffing the dough with poppy seed paste or filling is only one of the many fillings that result in easy to do, tasty pastries.  These are close to homemade poppy seed kolaches!  We also use chocolate chips, apple slices sprinkled with cinnamon sugar, and separate the dough triangles into smaller pieces to wrap little sausages for pigs in a blanket!

Poppy Seed Rolls

2 cans (8 oz each) refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
1 can poppy seed filling
For Glaze:
1⁄2 cup

confectioners sugar

1 1⁄4 tablespoon milk
1⁄4 teaspoon fresh lemon zest

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line large baking sheet with silicone liner or lightly butter. Separate dough along perforations into 16 triangles. Spread poppy filling over triangles. Roll up, starting at wide end. Bake 12 to 14 minutes or until golden brown. To make glaze, combine confectioners sugar, milk, and lemon zest in small bowl, and stir until smooth. Drizzle glaze over top of rolls while they are warm

Mary Ann’s Oriental Ambrosia with Celery Seed Dressing

The ingredients for this recipe are too colorful to skip a photo this time. So I borrow this similar photo from Flickr user Ben Brown. Ingredients shown vary slightly from my recipe.

Oriental AmbrosiaToday is the first day of Spring and although I am still pretty much house bound I am watching the greening of our garden from my window, planning seed planting for someone else to do, and thinking of delicious salads we have enjoyed in the past.  This shrimp salad is a wonderful addition to your Easter buffet, and delicious for light meals through Spring and all summer long.  I first made it over 40 years ago when I was introduced to the flavor combination by a friend.

Mary Ann’s Oriental Shrimp Ambrosia

2 cups of peeled, cleaned, and cooked shrimp (fresh is best, but frozen works well)

1/2 cup toasted cashews

1 cup pineapple tidbits, drained

1 cup mandarin oranges, drained

1 small can sliced water chestnuts, drained

4 cup torn romaine or butter lettuce

1 cup diced celery

1/2 cup sliced green onions

1/4 cup chopped green peopper

1/4 cup coconut flakes

Place torn lettuce in large bowl.  Combine other ingredients and place on top. Serve with following dressing. If you prefer, set each ingredient out in a separate bowl and let those at your table choose and mix their own.  However, tossing everything together results in a beautiful, tasty combination!

Celery Seed Dressing

3/4 cup sugar

1/3 cup apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon grated onion

1 cup salad oil

1 teaspoon celery seed

Combine first 4 ingredients in blender and mix. Add 1 cup oil gradually, until mixture thickens.  Add celery seed.

Funnel Cakes

I am sure most of you have seen these because they are so popular at booths in county and state fairs. This is one recipe I really not regret having a photo as well as a video to share with you!  The process is fun, the results dramatic, and very quickly disappear at our house.

Funnel Cakes

1 1/4 cups flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4  teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon soda

1 egg

3/4 cup milk

your preference salad oil for frying

powdered sugar to use as topping

Mix dry ingredients in bowl, combine egg and milk, add to dry ingredients, and beat until smooth.. In a deep cast iron skillet,,heat 1 inch of oil.  Pour 1/4 cup batter into a funnel using your finger to cover the opening. .

Hold the funnel filled with batther over the heated oil, being careful not to spatter hot oil , remove your finger and slowly release the batter beginning in the center of the skillet and moving outward in a spiral. Brown 2 minutes, until golden crisp and puffy.  It will not be perfect, but the uneven spiral with its crispy goodness is perfectly delicious!  Repeat the process until all your batter has been used. You will have 5 or 6 funnel cakes, depending on size.  Drain well on paper towels, slide onto serving dish with wide spatula, and sift or sprinkle powdered sugar over top. Serve while hot.

YouTube videos of this are available for watching if you wish before you try this on your own.

Barbecue Flapjacks

I am not cooking at all since my injury and repair of a ruptured Achilles tendon.  This does not mean we are going hungry because many kind friends are bringing us meals. I will take this “off” time to post some old recipes, family favorites in years past. No photos to go with them, but why don’t you try some of these and send me a photo of your results?

My mother, Opal Teal, sent me a recipe card on which she had written this recipe. I treasure the card with her handwriting. We had this often when our sons were “growing boys.”

Barbecue Flapjacks

1 lb. ground beef
1/2 c. chopped onion
1/2 c. barbecue sauce
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
dash Tabasco sauce
1 can refrigerated baking powder biscuits (12 biscuits).
1 c. shredded cheddar cheese

In large skillet, brown ground beef and onions  Add barbecue sauce, brown sugar and Tabasco.. Set aside.

Separate biscuit dough into 12 biscuits. Place one biscuit in each of 12 ungreased muffin cups pressing dough up sides to edge of cup. Spoon meat mixture into cups. Sprinkle each with cheese. Bake at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.

Cranberry Orange Smoothie

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This is hands down my favorite smoothie of all the new ones we have tried!  I have never bought frozen cranberries before, but will keep them in the freezer now. I love adding fresh oranges. The combination of flavors is full of flavor and blends so well with Almond Coconut Milk and Greek yogurt.

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Cranberry Orange Smoothie

1 cup almond coconut milk
1/2 cup Greek yogurt (I used whole milk yogurt, not low-fat)
2/3 cup frozen cranberries
2 oranges, peeled, segmented, and seeded
2 tablespoons maple syrup, or to taste
Combine the almond milk, yogurt, cranberries, oranges and maple syrup in the blender.

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Baked Antipasto Ring

IMG_1815There are so many recipes that use crescent roll dough as the ingredient which makes the recipe both quick and delicious. This antipasto ring is simple enough to make for supper on a busy night and just right  for an appetizer for guests. Everyone loves antipasto, and you can stuff this pastry with a variety of antipasto ingredients.

Baked Antipasto Ring

2 cans crescent roll dough (I like to use Immaculate Baking Company’s product

1/2  cup well drained roasted red bell peppers, about 4 pieces

8 slices provolone cheese, halved

1/4 pound sliced peppered salami

1/4 pound prosciutto

1/4 pound sliced deli ham

pickled yellow hot pepper rings

1 sprig fresh rosemary, leaves stripped and chopped

optional:  sliced black or kalamata olives

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Unroll both cans of dough; separate into 8 rectangles. On ungreased 12-inch pizza pan, arrange rectangles in ring so short sides of rectangles form a circle in center. (Dough will overlap and part of the ends will hang over edge of pan. Dough ring should resemble a sun.)

Spread roasted red bell peppers towards center of ring on bottom halves of rectangles. Top with half of the cheese. Layer salami, ham and prosciutto slices over cheese. Arrange pepper rings over top. Sprinkle with olives if desired. Cover with remaining half of cheese.

Bring each dough rectangle hanging over side of pan up over stacked filling, tucking dough under bottom layer of dough to secure it. Repeat around sandwich until entire filling is enclosed. Sprinkle with black peppe and chopped fresh rosemary. Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove from oven and let set for 10 minutes before slicing.

Cabbage and Smoked Sausage Soup

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On damp, wintry days, a pot of hearty soup bubbling on the stove sends out an invitation – “come to the table and warm your heart as well as your tummy!”   When I ladled this fragrant, brothy German style cabbage soup into our red pottery bowls, I smiled in anticipation today. Along with Joe’s contribution of a skillet of cornbread, it was perfect for the middle of a day that had not been an easy one, so it was indeed comfort food.  There are variations of this recipe in many cookbooks and online, proving this combination of foods invites variation and is very forgiving. One recipe I found included the addition of one can of condensed cream of celery soup which I found interesting and wanted to try, but true to form, I changed the soup to cream of chicken because that was in the pantry.  Here is my version.  It is delicious and makes enough for alot of people or several meals!

Cabbage and Smoked Sausage Soup

3 -4 strips thick sliced bacon, cut into small pieces

1 onion, chopped

4-5 carrots, peeled and sliced

3 celery stalks, sliced into 1/2 inch pieces

5 medium yellow potatoes, peeled and chopped

1 smoked sausage ring or up to 1 pound links ( I used HEB’s Cranberry Pork link sausages)

6 cups chicken broth

1 can or carton cream of chicken soup

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground black pepper (or less if you prefer, we like pepper!)

1 teaspoon dried thyme

In large soup pot, cook bacon pieces until they begin to brown and release fat.  Add onion, saute 2-3 minutes, then add carrots, celery, sausage, and potaotes.  Add salt, pepper, and thyme, then stir in chicken broth. Bring to simmer and cook covered for about 30 minutes, until potatoes and carrots are tender. Add cream of chicken soup and stir. Continue heating 2 minutes, then turn off heat.  Stir, and ladle into bowls.

Meyer Lemon Smoothie

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A few days of much warmer weather had me looking at new smoothie recipes this week. My niece sent me a link to this one posted on realsimple.com.  Their version had the Meyer lemons peeled but then added lemon zest.  Meyer lemon skins are very thin (and difficult to peel without loosing alot of juice) and I have used the whole seeded lemon in other recipes, so I simply seeded the lemons and cut them in chunks, providing plenty of zest in the blending. I am not fond of drinking buttermilk but these breakfast treats were yummy, a definite keeper for refreshing summertime smoothies. I always love adding another Meyer lemon recipe to my files.  Our tree provides us with a bountiful supply of lemons every year.
Meyer Lemon Smoothie
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup Plain Greek yogurt
2 Meyer lemons seeded and cut in pieces
about 1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
2  tablespoons agave syrup or honey to taste
1 cup crushed ice
Place all ingredients except ice in blender beginning with buttermilk. When lemon chunks have been pureed, add crushed ice and blend a few seconds longer. Pour in 2 glasses and garnish with lemon slice or mint.