Lots of Greens and Beans and Traveling Tunes

So, we’ve been trying to eat less wheat and fewer starches yet, one of my go-to type of recipes to throw together is a yummy, cheesey Italian-style baked dish. One day, I had this great idea of substituting the shell-type noodle with a kale leaf! This idea was super exciting to me and I couldn’t stop thinking about it for days. Seriously. Here’s what came of it…

Stuffed Kale- Oooey Gooey Cheesey Goodness!

Stuffed Kale- Oooey Gooey Cheesey Goodness!

Ricotta & Butternut Squash Stuffed Kale
10-12 Kale Leaves
Olive Oil
1 small Butternut Squash- peeled, halved, cored, cubed
1 small Onion
8 oz fresh Ricotta Cheese
1 small bunch of mixed fresh Herbs, chopped (I used oregano, rosemary, sage, and parsley.)
Sea Salt & Black Pepper

Butternut Squash

There is some prep involved but you can do these individual steps ahead of time and then assemble them all together before baking.

The ricotta mixture looks like this!

The ricotta mixture looks like this!

Red Sauce
½ Onion, chopped
1 lb Sausage
½ cup red wine
1 25 oz can Whole Tomatoes, chopped
2 cloves Garlic, crushed and chopped
Fresh Parsley and Oregano, chopped (I use lots of fresh herbs, you can use whatever amount you are comfortable with.)
1 Tbsp Tomato Paste
Ground Black Pepper

½ cup grated Pecorino from Wisconsin Sheep Dairy Coop (I bought it at The Bloomy Rind in Nashville. It is divine! You could use any aged Italian style cheese.)

Any red sauce will do and you can leave it vegetarian if you wish.

Any red sauce will do and you can leave it vegetarian if you wish.

Wash the kale leaves and remove the thick center stem. So, if you have big leaves, you can use each half as a leaf. Pat them dry and set aside. Saute the onion and butternut squash in the olive oil until soft. Set aside to cool. In a small bowl, mix together the ricotta, herbs, salt and pepper. Once the onion and squash mixture is cool, mix it with the ricotta.

You can really use any spaghetti sauce you wish. I made a simple one, using Sweet Italian Sausage from Porter Road Butcher in Nashville. Simply saute the onion in some olive oil. Add the sausage to brown. Add the wine and then the garlic and tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper if necessary and cook. Add fresh herbs and a little tomato paste, if necessary, to thicken a little. You may not need the entire recipe above for the dish and might have leftovers of the sauce. (Sorry- I didn’t measure well.)

Use the kale leaf as a pasta shell and stuff it full!

Use the kale leaf as a pasta shell and stuff it full!

Preheat oven to 375. Place a thin layer of the sauce in the bottom of a 9”x13” baking dish. Hold a kale leaf in your hand and place a spoonful of the ricotta mixture on it. Roll to tuck the sides under and place in the baking dish. (Basically, you use the kale leaves as you would pasta- as a vessel to hold the ricotta filling.) Repeat until all the kale bundles have been made and the dish is full with one layer of tightly bunched kale bundles. Cover with the sauce. Top with the grated cheese. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until the top is a nice golden brown.

Stuff Kale Assembling

Stuffed Kale

When we lived in Seattle, one of my favorite places to shop was the PCC Markets. They brought natural food shopping to all new heights. One thing I still look forward to each time we visit and get together with family and friends is stopping by for some party or picnic foods. In addition to an enormous selection of local cheeses, breads, produce, beer, wine, and chocolates, they also have a great deli filled with delicious and healthy prepared foods. This next recipe is one I adapted from their recipe called, Turkish Garbanzo Salad. I just made a few adjustments to better fit my taste- one is, I changed to Spanish smoked paprika which gives it a much different flavor. I don’t like it quite so onion-y so I held back on the onion and switched to a white onion. I also adjusted the amounts of each ingredient to make a smaller quantity. I love it but if I make too much, we have too many leftovers. If you are making it for a large group or taking it to a potluck, you may want to double this recipe. This one makes about 6 or so servings.

Garbanzo Bean Salad

Garbanzo Bean Salad

Garbanzo Bean Salad
4 Tbsp Red Wine Vinegar
3 Tbsp Olive Oil
3 cloves Garlic, crushed and finely chopped
1 tsp Dijon Mustard
2 Tbsp fresh Oregano, chopped
3 Tbsp fresh Parsley, chopped
1 tsp Spanish Smoked Paprika
¼-½ tsp Sea Salt
½ tsp ground Black Pepper
2 (14-ounce) cans Garbanzo Beans, rinsed and drained
¼ White Onion, very finely chopped
¼ cup dried Apricots, diced
¼ cup Kalamata Olives – rinsed, drained, pitted, and chopped

Mix the first 9 ingredients together in a small bowl to make a vinaigrette. In a medium sized bowl, add the beans, onion, apricots, and olives. Stir well. Pour the vinaigrette over the bean mixture and stir. Let set in the refrigerator for a couple of hours before serving.

Beans & Greens!

Beans & Greens!

I make the Garbanzo Bean Salad so often that I wanted to come up with another fun and healthy bean salad for more variety. Bean salads are perfect for lunch- they are so simple to make, you can make them super healthy, you can eat them without having to heat them, and they offer a good protein hit to sustain you throughout the afternoon. This next one is a beans and kale salad which came about based on what I had in the refrigerator and in my cupboard. As I began to add ingredients together, it started to remind me of my favorite dish at The Wild Cow vegetarian restaurant in Nashville, Beans & Greens, hence the name of this salad.

Beans & Greens Salad
2 cloves Garlic, crushed and finely chopped
1 small bunch fresh Parsley, chopped
juice of ½ Lemon
1 tsp Braggs Amino Acids
2 tsp Tahini
Sea Salt & Black Pepper
1 ½ cup Kale, chopped into small pieces
1 ½ cup canned or boxed Kidney Beans (drained)
1 cup cooked Rice (You can use brown rice or white, or substitute another grain. I just use whatever I have leftovers of.)

Make a dressing by mixing the first 6 ingredients together in a medium sized bowl. Add the kale and massage it into the dressing, gently crushing the leaves a little. Add in the beans and rice and stir.

Add sliced avocado on the side for an even more deliciously satisfying lunch!

Add sliced avocado on the side for an even more deliciously satisfying lunch!

New music and record release shows are happening in our neighborhood on a daily basis. We can hardly keep up but it sure is fun trying! I had seen Jesse Lafser play awhile back and remembered really loving her voice so when I saw her post about her new release party, I knew it was a must-see.

Jesse Lafser at the Basement, April 25, 2015.

Jesse Lafser at the Basement, April 25, 2015.

Even Rolling Stone is talking about her! She put on one fine show at the Basement and now, her new cd is on heavy rotation in our house. My very favorite way to enjoy it, though, is played loudly, on repeat, as I drive. This is perfect road trip music. If you aren’t listening to it loudly, while hitting the road, it will surely make you want to plan your next adventure. You can read the Rolling Stone article HERE and see the video for my favorite new song. And please go buy a copy of her new cd, Raised On The Plains, HERE!

Jesse Lafser with fiddler at the Basement, April 25, 2015.

Jesse Lafser with fiddler at the Basement, April 25, 2015.

Vietnamese Rice Salad & Tennessee Love Songs

SGM-1Thanks to our friends Sarah & Preston, we have a new favorite weekly dinner staple which we call Vietnamese Rice Salad. Sarah and Preston had us over to dinner a couple months ago and served us this wonderful dinner of grilled chicken and jalapenos served over rice with fresh raw vegetables and this delicious homemade Vietnamese sauce (Nuoc Mam Cham). We left their house with our bellies full and the recipe in our hands and have literally made it about half a dozen times since.

Vietnamese Salad-1

It is so easy to make and lends itself to many different variations so we never tire of it. You can make it with grilled vegetables, any type of grilled meat, or Tofu. And leftovers are great the next day for lunch! With Sarah and Preston’s permission, I want to share the recipe here. The sauce is based on one of our favorite Vietnamese dishes- Bun Bowl- and Preston tried many different recipes he found before settling on this excellent version. This one is adapted from this recipe here.

Vietnamese Dressing- 1

Vietnamese Rice Salad Sauce
1 1/2 cup Coconut Water
6 tsp Brown Rice Vinegar
6 Tbsp Organic Raw Cane Sugar
8 Tbsp Fish Sauce
6 Tbsp fresh Lime Juice
4 cloves fresh Garlic, chopped
1 fresh (or dried but reconstituted) Red Chili Pepper deseeded and finely chopped (or a Tbsp Sriracha sauce)

Mix the coconut water, vinegar, and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove pan from heat and let cool. Add fish sauce, lime juice, and garlic. Store the sauce in a jar in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Vietnamese Salad-2

Vietnamese Salad-3

Vietnamese Salad-4

For the salad, grill vegetables and/or meat- we vary it every time. Sometimes we marinate chicken or fish in a teriyaki sauce or rub it with a simple dry rub before grilling. Grilled or pan seared shrimp is yummy. Portabello mushrooms drizzled with sesame oil and Tamari (or soy sauce) before grilling are also great. Also, grilled peppers, squash, and asparagus work well. One variation also included roasted Brussels Sprouts with the rice and grilled meal. Remove meat and vegetables from the grill, chop, serve on a bed of rice, and then top with chopped tomatoes, matchstick carrot sticks, sliced avocados, chopped cilantro, chopped cucumbers, etc. Pour some of the sauce on top. Enjoy!

Vietnamese Dressing- Wine

Both these wines, above, that Grant picked out were strong pairings and are good, affordable choices for spring.

SGM-3

We are also very thankful for Sarah in providing us with some of our favorite new music! She has a brand new album out called, Tennessee Love Song. The Nashville album release is this Tuesday, April 7th at the Nashville Palace 7:30-8:30. This is Sarah Gayle Meech‘s second full length release. Sarah and Preston moved here about five years ago and she quickly began getting gigs playing on Lower Broadway. Grant played guitar for her for a couple of years and often I would hang out downtown watching their entire 4 hour set. Sarah is a great band leader who can work the crowd. She knows those old country classics and can very seamlessly throw her originals into the mix. She still plays regularly at Robert’s, Layla’s, and the Nashville Palace and has been touring lots lately, as well.

SGM-2

Sarah released her first cd a couple years ago. This second release is a great follow up. Listening to it, I can hear real confidence in her songwriting and her voice. And it is about real love songs- about place and person. There are also some really fun tunes that make me want to dance, like Watermelon and Root Beer. Below is the awesome video.

It’s been awhile since I’ve seen an entire Sarah Gayle Meech set of originals so I am really looking forward to her show this week. Hope to see you there! You can purchase her new cd there or HERE.

tennesseelovesong

A Picnic of Old Memories

Celebration

I just returned from a family visit in South Carolina where we celebrated my wonderful mother and step-father during the week marking their 25th wedding anniversary and his 80th birthday, where we were surrounded by so many dear old family friends. It made me very nostalgic and thankful for a small loving community that nurtured me as I grew up. In fact, it wasn’t until the moment I was surrounded by these beautiful friends of my parents, some of whom I have known my whole life, that I even realized how really special it was to have had this opportunity and how incredible it is to have these connections that hold so many of my memories and link special family life moments together.

Mom & Mary Bauld, January 2015

I am especially thankful for Mom’s 55 year old friendship with Mary Bauld. Mary is her first name, Bauld her last name but I don’t know of a single person who doesn’t always call her, “Mary Bauld.” Mary Bauld and her husband Bob met Mom and Dad in West Virginia back before any of them lived in South Carolina. They became best friends and have never strayed. They are very different from each other yet have a long history and a strong bond. They live one street apart. They have shared all important life events, good times and bad, and always been there for each other. They talk a couple times a week and go bowling every Thursday morning with a women’s bowling league, always followed by lunch and grocery shopping. Mary Bauld has four children and now many grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Here I am with my Sis and Janet & Barbara, Mary Bauld's youngest girls.

Here I am with my Sis and Janet & Barbara, Mary Bauld’s youngest girls.

Growing up, I spent many hours after school and many summers hanging out at the Bauld house. Janet, the youngest of Mary Bauld’s children is two years younger than me. We learned to swim together and let me tell you, we owned that lake at the Clemson YMCA! We spent countless hours playing Barbies and watching the Bionic Woman. At my house, we became experts at furniture gymnastics and created all sorts of culinary delights as my Mom sat quietly reading in the next room, allowing us to experiment. It was common to compare our mothers’ cooking- they each did things slightly different. They both made delicious meatloaf- Mary Bauld always served hers with fried potatoes and Mom always served hers with Succotash. They both bragged about their sweet tea and dared us kids to say whose was better. Mom’s cooking was slightly more southern and Mary Bauld sometimes cooked up special Spanish recipes from her family such as Cabbage Rolls. One time, Mary Bauld served me a peanut butter and lettuce sandwich for lunch which was weird and I have never let her forget it. One recipe Mom learned to make from Mary Bauld was Pepperoni Rolls, a favorite from the area of West Virginia that Mary Bauld grew up in. I didn’t realize what a regional food a Pepperoni Roll was to West Virginia until a couple of years ago when I read an article about it. And I have even discovered that there is a website dedicated to the Pepperoni Roll here.

Pepperoni Rolls

Well, I grew up and stopped eating beef and got particular about all meat really. It wasn’t until we started shopping at our local Porter Road Butcher that I even really thought about eating Pepperoni Rolls again. They make their own version of pepperoni they call Porteroni from local grass-fed beef with no funny stuff in it. I had a brilliant idea to take some home with me on one of my recent visits so Mom and I could make Pepperoni Rolls together. She humored me.

Porteroni

She had just recently started making one of our very favorite relatives, my great aunt Judy’s yeast rolls again so we used that recipe, too. (I found out that the childhood Pepperoni Rolls were usually made with Pillsbury Hot Roll Mix.) Here’s the recipe we followed…

Judy's Roll Recipe

The instructions aren’t so clear to me and I couldn’t remember exactly how she made it all happen so I had to get some clarification from Mom and I made a minor change in my version as I don’t particularly like to use vegetable shortening (I just don’t understand it and it kind of freaks me out.), so I substituted butter here. I think you could also use the Spectrum organic vegetable shortening or coconut oil just fine.

Here is the recipe I came up with, hopefully easier to understand with a few pictures for better clarification. By the way, those are Mom’s hands and my Nana’s rolling pin in those photos.

Pepperoni Rolls
2 cups Warm Water
2 packages Dry Yeast
½ cup Sugar
2 tsp Salt
¼ cup Unsalted Butter, softened
1 Egg
6 ½ – 7 cups Flour
1 lb Pepperoni (roughly)

Place the warm water (not hot, just tepid) in a bowl and add the yeast. Dissolve the yeast. Stir in the sugar, salt, butter, and the egg. Use an electric mixer to mix gently. Add 3 cups flour to the bowl. Make sure all ingredients are incorporated. Then, stir by hand and add 3 ½ more cups flour. The dough will be sort of sticky and loose. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth (or a lid with a small hole in it) and place in refrigerator. The next day, take the bowl out and uncover. Let it come to room temperature and rise a little.

After the dough rises, place the dough on a floured surface, kneading to bring together. Cut the dough into about 20-24 pieces (this recipe makes many for sharing!). Gently form each piece of dough into a ball, incorporating more flour as needed. Cut the pepperoni (or Porteroni) into strips, about 2 ½”- 3” long and ¼” wide roughly. Preheat oven to 350. Roll each ball out into a circle, about ¼” thick. Place a pepperoni stick on the round, about one third of the diameter and fold the dough over. Then place another pepperoni stick on the dough and fold over again. Tuck the ends under gently so the ends will be all sealed. Place rolls on a baking sheet and bake at 350 for approximately 20 minutes, or until golden brown and done.

Momma Rolling Dough

Ready to go in the oven!

Ready to go in the oven!

If you don’t eat meat or aren’t interested in Pepperoni Rolls, this recipe makes great dinner rolls, too. Mom always serves them at the holidays. Simply use a round biscuit cutter to cut circles and then fold them over, in half, before baking. That’s the way Aunt Judy always did it.

And of course, you can use any pepperoni you choose. This is not necessarily a healthier version but just one I feel better about because it was made with all real ingredients that I trusted by people I know. Sometimes, you just need to revisit those great old recipes you grew up on.

And I couldn’t think of any better music to represent this post than this wonderful new release, Picnic in the Sky, from our friends Jeni and Billy because their music has been described as Appalachain Folk Music which precisely describes the music from the area where Mom and Mary Bauld grew up in the hills of Virginia and West Virginia.

Jeni & Billy

Jeni & Billy

I first met Jeni and Billy at our Red Barn Round-Up parties and love running into them in the neighborhood- that is, when they happen to be home. They spend quite a lot of time working out on the road, giving house concerts and playing music festivals. You can follow their journey and read their beautiful tales on their website and blogs.

J&B Playing

Jeni & Billy singing a duet at the Red Barn Round-Up, April 2013.

J&B at RBR

Jeni & Billy with Grant playing his big green Gretsch in the backing band!

Jeni and Billy are some of the sweetest, most genuine people I have ever met- in song and in real life. In fact, I went online to purchase their newest release today to listen to while I wrote this post and instantly received an email from them with the subject line, “You Wonderful Person, Thank You!” And then, I swear to God, they drove through the snow to drop off a real copy of the cd for me to have, as well. It totally made my day. So, not only will buying your own copy of their cd (here!) make you feel really special but once you listen to it you will be incredibly happy for all the new music you just added to your life and for supporting their art. Their songs are so wonderful and for me personally, bring to mind so many beautiful images of my childhood visits to Mom’s family in southwestern Virginia.

I will close with this live video of Jeni & Billy performing their song, Reckoning Day.

Happy New Year!

Family Portrait on Thanksgiving Day!

Family Portrait on Thanksgiving Day!

Renewal. That’s the word that keeps popping into my head as I start this new year. 2015 has a nice ring to it, I have to admit. I just successfully made it through another holiday season. Whew… After years of working retail during the holidays and getting caught up in the extra stress often associated, I decided a couple years back that the only way to make it through is to do the very minimum when it comes to celebrating and participating in the festivities. I have worked hard at avoiding all stressful situations during this time. Lucky for us, the real meaning of the season found us anyway. With the new year, we’ve been greeted with so much love from awesome family visits, great times with old dear friends, as well as some fun new friends.

I have felt that the last couple of years have been so difficult for many folks near and dear to us. We lost some dear loved ones and had more friends who were faced with scary health and life challenges. Perhaps it is our age. I have to admit that entering into my 40’s has been more challenging mentally for me than any other decade. The last few months though, I’ve been trying to regroup, alter my perspective on things, reconnect to the people and things that are most important to me, figure out some new paths, get rid of the clutter (literally and metaphorically) and I’m starting to feel a little more comfortable and excited for whatever lies ahead.

One thing that becomes more clear the older I get is the love I feel for family and friends. It becomes easier to let people know how important they are to you. And throughout all these changes and challenges that life offers us as we move through this life, the constants for me that always help keep me grounded and connected to others is good food and music. I feel so grateful that I have always been able to have these two constants in my life.

Final Plate

In keeping our distance with the holidays these past couple of years, Grant and I have used Thanksgiving as a time to try completely new recipes and ways of cooking which has been totally exciting to us. Last year, we had a Korean Thanksgiving and this past Thanksgiving, we did it again but decided to make dumplings! As we have just enjoyed the last two dumplings we had left in the freezer, I thought it was about time to post these recipes. In researching recipes before Thanksgiving, I found this wonderful website by a Korean woman who goes by the name Maangchi. I adore her. She has some great recipes and her videos are really helpful.

I started out by making her recipe for dumpling wrappers and while I did this, Grant was busy working on the dumpling filling.

DoughMandu-Pi (Dumpling Wrappers)
This recipe makes 16 large wrappers, each one roughly 5 ½ to 6 inches in diameter.
2 cups all purpose flour plus ¼ cup extra for dusting
½ teaspoon salt
⅔ cup water

Combine 2 cups of flour, salt, and water in a large mixing bowl. Mix with a wooden spoon until it turns into a lump. Then knead it by hand for a few minutes until the dough gets a little softer. Put it in a plastic bag to keep it from the air and let it sit for 10 to 30 minutes on the kitchen counter.

Take the dough out of the plastic bag. It will be a little softer and moist and easier to handle. Knead it for 5 to 7 minutes, until it’s smooth and elastic. Place the dough on a cutting board dusted with a bit of flour and divide it into 2 equal pieces. Put one half into the plastic bag to keep it from getting dried out as your work on the other half. Cut the piece of dough into 8 equal sized pieces. Roll each piece out with a rolling pin into 5 ½ to 6 inch round circle disks. They should be a little thinner on the edges than in the middle, because you will eventually be pinching the edges together when making the dumplings, so you don’t want them too thick and doughy. Take the second half out of the bag and make dumpling wrappers out of it using the same method. Use them right away to make dumplings, or freeze them for later. To freeze: Cover a large platter with plastic wrap and put the wrappers on it. Place them so they don’t touch each other, and separate layers of skins with sheets of plastic wrap. When it’s full of skins, cover the entire tray with plastic wrap and freeze it for up to 1 month. To use frozen Mandu-Pi, thaw out at room temperature for 10 to 20 minutes before using them to make dumplings.

Dumplings

And here is the recipe for the Kimchi Dumplings. Our version was slightly adapted from her version which can be found with this awesome youtube instruction class here- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fpyEDjmTeGo

Kimchi-Wangmandu (King Sized Kimchi Dumplings)
Makes roughly 16 large dumplings.
½ pound Ground Beef
½ pound Ground Pork
1 tsp finely chopped Fresh Ginger
3 cloves Garlic, peeled and chopped
2 tsp Tamari
1 Tbsp Raw Organic Cane Sugar
1 Tbsp Toasted Sesame Oil
1 tsp ground Black Pepper
1 cup finely chopped Onion
1 cup chopped Green Onions
1 cup Kimchi, chopped
½ cup Firm Tofu
½ cup Bean Sprouts, chopped
1 tsp Salt
Grapeseed Oil
a little flour to dust your fingers

Dipping sauce:
2 tablespoons Tamari
1 tablespoon Rice Wine vinegar
¼ cup chopped Onion
1 Jalapeño, chopped
1 tsp Raw Organic Cane Sugar

Place the beef, pork, garlic, and ginger into a bowl. Use a wooden spoon to mix with 2 teaspoons tamari, 1 tablespoon sugar, 2 teaspoons sesame oil, and ½ teaspoon ground black pepper. You can use a food processor if you want to. Heat up a skillet over medium high heat and add 1 teaspoon grapeseed oil. Stir fry the meat mixture until the meat is no longer pink. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and be sure to include the juices from the cooked meat. Add the minced onion, the green onions, and kimchi to the mixing bowl. Squeeze the tofu slightly by hand to remove excess water and add it to the mixing bowl. Add 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon sesame oil, ½ teaspoon ground black pepper. Mix well by hand or a wooden spoon until well mixed. Put a wrapper on your palm and add 2 or 3 spoons of filling to the center. Loosely fold it in half vertically. Pinch the bottom on the fold to seal it. Push the right side in a little bit, so the wrapper folds in on itself slightly. Pinch that fold to make a pleat. Do the same on the left side and alternate sides all the way up until the dumpling is sealed. Pinch or wrap the end to seal it. Repeat until you’ve made all dumplings.

Filling

To freeze for later use (up to 3 months):
Set the dumplings on a tray lined with plastic wrap so they aren’t touching each other. Put into the freezer for 8 hours or so, until they are all frozen. Gently put them into a plastic bag or airtight container and put them back into the freezer.

To steam dumplings:
Boil water in a steamer. Line the steamer rack or basket with a parchment paper. Place dumplings in the steamer basket, but be sure to make room between them because they will expand slightly when cooked. Cover and steam for 15 minutes. Remove and serve with dipping sauce.

To fry dumplings:
Heat up a skillet over medium high heat. Add 2 tablespoons vegetable oil and swirl to spread the oil evenly. Add some dumplings and cook over medium heat, rotating them so each side gets golden-brown. Lower the heat to low and cover. Cook for a few more minutes. Remove and serve with dipping sauce.

Dipping sauce:
Combine 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, 1 tablespoon vinegar, ¼ cup chopped onion,  jalapeño in a bowl. Mix well. Optionally, if you like it sweet, add 1 teaspoon brown sugar.

Dumplings & Beans

In making the mashed potatoes, Grant saved the skins and, not wanting to ever waste any food (plus, always looking for more delicious snacks), he lightly fried the skins for a little pre-meal appetizer! Genius idea.

Potato Skins

Kimchi Mashed Potatoes

We made a few fried dumplings and a few steamed. I think the steamed ones were my favorite! We served the dumplings with green beans that had been sauteed with shiitake mushrooms and some kimchi mashed potatoes! As an appetizer (it was Thanksgiving after all), Grant made these yummy chicken wings that he threw together. We enjoyed these with some delicious homemade cider our friend David made for us.

T-day Korean Wings

Korean BBQ Chicken Wings
12 Chicken Wings
¼ cup Tamari
¼ cup Rice Wine
4 cloves Garlic, chopped
2 Tbsp Hot Korean Chili Paste (or Sriracha)
¼ cup Brown Sugar
1 Tbsp Grapeseed Oil

Preheat oven to 400. Combine all ingredients (excluding the chicken & grapeseed oil) together in a bowl. Add chicken and cover. Marinate 2 hours or overnight. Heat an iron skillet on stove on medium high. Add grapeseed oil. Take chicken out of marinade but reserve the marinade. Put the chicken wings in the pan skin side down and sear until a golden brown. Flip chicken wings over with tongs or a fork. Place skillet in the oven for 20 minutes to finish cooking. While those are cooking, heat the marinade in a saucepan over medium heat to reduce by half. Use this to baste the chicken wings a couple of times for the last 10 minutes of baking time. Remove the skillet from the oven and cool for a couple minutes. Serve!

And for dessert, I made these cookies which I adapted from another shortbread recipe I came up with awhile back.

Shortbread

Ginger Raisin Shortbread
¾ cup Powdered Sugar
½ tsp Sea Salt
2 cups All Purpose Flour
2 sticks Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
½ cup Raisins, chopped
1 Tbsp Fresh Ginger, grated
¼ cup Buttermilk
¼ cup Raw Cane Sugar (for sprinkling on the top of the cookies)

Preheat oven to 325°F. Mix sugar, salt, and flour together in a bowl. Add butter. Use your finger to incorporate the butter into the flour mixture, slowly and gently like you would pie crust. The largest pieces of butter should be the size of grains of rice. Once the butter is mixed in, add raisins, ginger, and buttermilk. Mix together. Gather dough into ball, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for an hour or so. You can roll dough out and cut cookies with a cookie cutter or roll into a log and slice. Sprinkle each cookie with a little raw cane sugar. Bake cookies until lightly browned, about 20 minutes. Cool on rack.

Music

Left & Middle- Santa’s Ice Cold Pickers play at Santa’s Pub every Sunday 7-9pm. Right- Kenny Vaughan Trio playing happy hour at The 5 Spot (Jan 2015).

We’ve been enjoying some fun Happy Hour shows around town and our usual weekly musical events and sincerely hope to follow through on my resolution of more live music in 2015 in the weeks to come… Happy New Year everyone!

Old Favorites (& A Few New Old Favorites!)

Fall Flowers

I’ve been thankful for my blog these last few weeks as it has served as a nice reminder of some of our favorite recipes and we have have been revisiting those lately. With the cold weather moving on in, we’ve already made several soups from previous posts- Lima Bean Soup With Bacon & Lemon, Simple Roasted Sweet Potato Soup, and Cabbage Soup. There are also these soups from last year that we conjure back up from time to time.

Big Bowl of Sweet Potato Soup

Big Bowl of Sweet Potato Soup

And here is this year’s version of my Roasted Pumpkin Soup. I say “this year” because I make it once a year but usually forget to write it down and then have to reinvent it every year.

Pumpkin Soup

Roasted Pumpkin Soup with a bowl of freshly chopped herbs ready to go it and a dish of roasted beets for the accompanying salad.

Roasted Pumpkin Soup
1 Sugar Pumpkin, roasted
¾ cup Cashews
½ cup Water
4 cup Vegetable Stock
1 ½ White or Yellow Onions, finely chopped
3 Tbsp Butter
2 cloves Garlic, chopped
1-2 Tbsp Fresh Chopped Herbs (Oregano, Parsley, Sage, Rosemary)
1 tsp Smoked Paprika

Cut pumpkin in half. Scrape out and discard the seeds the stringy bits. (Or roast the pumpkin seeds!) Place each half face down in a baking dish. Fill the dish with about an inch of water and place in the oven at 400 for about 20 minutes. Remove the halves from the dish and let cool. Once cool enough to touch, scoop out the pumpkin flesh into a medium bowl and set aside. Blend cashews with water. Sautee the onions in the butter in a Dutch oven or soup pot. Add garlic. Blend the pumpkin with the stock and onions and, along with the cashew milk, add back to the soup pot. Stir and bring to a boil. Add the smoked paprika. Reduce to a simmer. Add herbs. Salt & pepper as needed. Simmer for 20 minutes.

I came up with this tasty baked pasta and squash dish that I think would make a perfect Thanksgiving side dish.

Squash & Sage

Baked Butternut Squash & Sage Pasta
8 oz Pasta (I used Conchiglie, Montebello brand, but any penne or macaroni would do.)
1 small Butternut Squash, peeled, seeds removed and cut into small cubes
1 ½ cup Stock (veggie or chicken)
1 cup Whole Milk
1 tsp Dry Mustard
½ tsp Cayenne
¼ tsp Nutmeg
Sea Salt & Black Pepper
2 cups Prairie Breeze Cheese, grated (Prairie Breeze from Milton Creamery is the best and can be found most days at The Bloomy Rind in Nashville. You could also use Beechers Flagship, a sharp cheddar, a Gruyere or a blend of your favorites.)
2 Tbsp Fresh Chopped Sage
1 cup Bella Sourdough Bread Crumbs
2 Tbsp Butter + a little to butter the baking dish

Squash-1

Squash-2

Preheat oven to 375. Place the squash cubes in a pan with the stock. Cook on medium high heat until the squash forks done. Turn the stove to low. Meanwhile, cook the pasta and then drain. Chop the bread into small cubes. In an iron skillet, add 2 Tbsp butter and place on medium heat. Once the butter melts, add the bread and the chopped sage. Stir the bread crumbs several times as they crisp and lightly brown. Remove the bread crumbs from the stove and set aside. With a fork or potato masher, mash the squash in the broth. Add the milk and mustard, cayenne, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Stir together and then stir in the 1 1/2 cup cheese, reserving ½ cup for the top. Butter a baking dish and then add the pasta. Pour the squash mixture over the pasta and then top with the remaining cheese and the bread crumbs. Cover the baking dish with a piece of foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 15 more minutes.

Squash Pasta & Beans

I’ve been revisiting lots of old favorite music, as well, and discovering old music that is new to me. That’s the beauty of music, it is timeless, and just out there in the world waiting for you to discover and connect with it. Thanks to one Luke Bell who is the only local musician I have known to cover Randy Travis- he does it so well and I have realized it takes a special voice to do so- I have been listening to lots of old Randy Travis classics like this one…

And, holy cow, have y’all ever seen this video for He Walked On Water? It is very sweet.

Speaking of sweets, I don’t have any sweet treat recipes to post this time but Lord, have I been baking and eating sweets. I was asked to assist my sweet (no pun intended) friend Melissa Corbin as she competed in the great World Food Championships in Las Vegas. We spent hours baking and experimenting together.

Sweets in LV

You can read all about it and get her delicious recipe for Triple Dickel Apple and Chèvre Galette here.

This photo of all the judges empty tasting plates pretty much sums up how I currently feel about sweets.

This photo of all the judges empty tasting plates pretty much sums up how I currently feel about sweets.

Zucchini Pie & Non-GMOs

Zucchini Pie!

Zucchini Pie!

October is Non-GMO month. GMOs (genetically modified organisms) are plants or animals that have been created through gene splicing techniques. It is changing the DNA of a plant. There is a lot of misinformation out in the world about this particular issue. One common misconception of GMOs is that they will allow us to feed more people in our ever growing world yet, none of the GMO traits currently on the market even offer increased yield, drought tolerance, higher nutrition, or any other benefits to consumers. And there is plenty of evidence now that connects GMOs to health problems, environmental damage and violation of both farmers’ and consumers’ rights. More than 60 countries around the world now have either significant restrictions or outright bans on the production and sale of GMOs (meaning, also, that they won’t allow US grown products into their country!). The bottom line is, once we have lost complete control of the source of our food, there is absolutely no turning back. The importance of labeling our food as “Non GMO” is so that people like me, who care whether or not my food has been genetically modified, can try to avoid consuming too much genetically modified food. Seriously, y’all. It’s all about personal choice and labeling non-GMOs means we all still get a choice. I’ll stop my preaching but you can find out much more about this issue at the Non-GMO Project’s site.

The reason I thought to tie this topic in with this particular recipe below, though, is some of my favorite vegetables are now almost impossible to find Non-GMO (especially in middle Tennessee). In the United States, unless you can be certain you are eating organic, our corn crops, beet crops, zucchini and squash crops are pretty much all genetically modified at this point. Buying fresh vegetables has never been so confusing. In the summer, it’s easy to either grow your own food or buy seasonal, organic and local thanks to our local organic farmers! In the winter, it becomes way more complicated. We now have to think about the “Dirty Dozen” and this GMO list.

05-10

Thank God for friends, neighbors, and local farmers like Double N Urban Farm  (above) who provided us with lots of delicious organic produce this past summer!

000

Now, about that recipe… I have a special place in my heart for Art Bomb Studios in Greenville, S.C. First off, one of my very favorite people in all the world, my big Sis, has a studio space there. So, I have spent lots of time here visiting her studio, attending their many art shows, or just hanging out and enjoying some food with excellent company.

art bomb 2

09-28

On my most recent visit, our friend and Art Bomb founder Diane shared some wonderful cookbooks with me and this very special recipe of hers for Zucchini Pie. I had never heard of such but she said it was one of her very favorite recipes and I have often made Zucchini Bread so I thought I would give it a try. I am always looking for new ways to add even more veggies into our diet. Even though it is easier to find good, local organic zucchini in the summer, this pie screamed FALL to me! Next time, I might experiment with grating the zucchini instead of cubing and it just might be tasty with some grated candied ginger thrown in. It would be great served alongside apple and pumpkin pies for a Thanksgiving day spread. Leftovers were great with a cup of coffee for breakfast.

Zuc Pie 3

Zuc Pie 2

Zucchini Pie
Filling:
4 cups Zucchini, diced
1 ¼ cups Sugar (I used organic cane sugar.)
1 ½ tsp Cinnamon
¼ cup Flour
1 Egg, beaten
¼ tsp Salt

Topping:
½ cup Brown Sugar
½ cup Unsalted Butter
1 cup Flour

Preheat oven to 350. Mix all the filling ingredients together in a bowl and let rest for 20-25 minutes. According to Diane, this is a necessary step which allows the gasses to escape so you won’t get gas from eating it. While you let the filling rest, roll out the pie dough (PLEASE never use store-bought crust, it is so easy to make your own. Here is my basic recipe here) and make the topping by mixing the 3 ingredients together until crumbly. I just used my fingers. Pour filling into unbaked pie crust and then crumble topping on top. Bake for one hour.

Zuc Pie 4

Exciting music news this week: our buddy (and proud Alabamian) Jon Byrd has a new cd out!

JonByrd

Jon is a wonderful songwriter, storyteller and all around great human being. His song Jack Knife is seriously one of my all time favorites. With this album, his 3rd, he decided to sing the songs of some of his favorite songwriters. It’s titled, Route 41, and you can purchase it here. He had his cd release party at the world famous Station Inn last week. If you happened to miss it, he’s playing again next Friday. You can check out all his dates on his website.

JB cd release

Out next week is the second EP from our buddy, Cale Tyson, titled, Cheater’s Wine.

Cale cd

This young Texan is already getting some good reviews for his songwriting. He’s a big fan of Townes Van Zandt and has a deep respect for the oldtimers of country music. He is in a group of young Nashville songwriters who are leading the charge to keep traditional country music alive. I love them!

Don’t forget to support our local artists and musicians as they are truly what make our communities thrive. Eat well, cold season is coming up! For more interesting articles about Non-GMOs and eating with purpose, visit our friends over at Corbin in The Dell.

Boiled Peanuts and Country Music

Boiled Peanuts-2

Growing up in South Carolina, hand-written “boiled peanuts” signs on the side of the road were a constant visual. The landscape is dotted with them and nearly every convenience store has a crock pot simmering with boiled peanuts. There was never a shortage, however, I never ate them as a youngster. In fact, I thought they were gross without even ever trying them. Shameful. It wasn’t until I brought my Pacific Northwestern born and bred soon-to-be husband to the south for the first time nearly fifteen years ago that I actually tried them, as I had to give him a complete southern experience. It was then that I realized how good they actually are.

When we first moved to Nashville eight years ago, we stumbled across a big bag of green peanuts at the farmer’s market and Grant was excited to make his own boiled peanuts. He did and they were delicious. But then we never saw green peanuts again until just the other day. Come to find out, you can also make these with dried peanuts in the shell which are much easier to find.

Green Peanuts

Green Peanuts

Here’s Grant’s recipe. They are so good, we ate the whole pound in one sitting!

Hot & Smoky Boiled Peanuts
1 lb Green Peanuts
2 Tbsp Smoked Sea Salt
1 Tbsp Sea Salt
1 tsp Black Pepper
1 tsp Smoked Paprika
½ tsp Cayenne

Mix spices in a pot of water. Add Peanuts. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 2-3 hours.

Boiling Peanuts

Boiling Peanuts

Boiled peanuts make me think of road trips and speaking of road trips, our friend and fellow Nashvillian, JP Harris, is one of the hardest working road dogs we know and he has a brand new album out! His music is country- I mean real honky-tonk country and very fun (I’m talking like Jerry Reed fun), and he’s one of the nicest guys around. You can pick up his new album, Home Is Where the Hurt Is, from Cow Island Music here. And you can be sure to hear JP Harris & The Tough Choices live because they are always on tour. You can see a full list of all the live dates on his website, here.

JP Harris & The Tough Choices at the Basement. March 2014.

JP Harris & The Tough Choices at the Basement. March 2014.

Also, I am anxiously awaiting the new release from Margo Price. I’ve mentioned Margo before, here, back when her band Buffalo Clover’s latest cd was released. Margo has had a side country band for sometime now called Margo & The Pricetags. They were always fun but it wasn’t until she decided to make that her main musical focus that I really took notice. That’s become one of my favorite things about having lived in Nashville just as long as I have- I get to follow along and watch as many songwriters and musicians discover who they are and begin to hone in on their talents. It all starts to unfold right in front of you and it is so exciting to be a part of.

Margo Price with Mark Sloan on guitar. Basement, March 2014.

Margo Price with Mark Sloan on guitar. Basement, March 2014.

So far, Margo & The Pricetags have recorded a single titled, Since You Put Me Down, and she is currently working on a full album. Rolling Stone Country just posted her first video for that single and you can see it, below. It blew me away. I can’t wait to hear more, Margo! (And also, you can find out more about Erin Rae who lends beautiful backing vocals on this song here. You will hear much more about her on this blog and elsewhere soon, too. We love Erin!)

Fall is here. It is officially soup making weather! More recipes and music recommendations coming soon…

Oat Cakes, Blue Cheese & Bluegrass

Oat Crackers & Blue Cheese

Oat Cake Crackers served with Dunbarton Blue.

Grant and I both love whole grain, very slightly sweet crackers that are really somewhere in between a cracker and a cookie. When we lived in the Pacific Northwest, we could find these up in Canada or in specialty food stores around Seattle. Often they are labeled “Digestive Aids” and are popular in British food sections. In Scotland, they call them Oat Cakes. They are a perfect companion to really good cheese, especially blue cheese. I’ve been hanging out lots at The Bloomy Rind and she has an excellent selection of U.S. artisan blue cheeses. So many! I’ve been slowly working my way through all of them which made me start to crave the little oat crackers I can’t seem to find anywhere around these parts. So, I came up with my own recipe! It’s really hard to know what to call them since the idea seems to stem from the Scottish Oat Cakes yet, they are more like cookies but since they aren’t very sweet, they are also kind of a cracker. I decided to call them Oatmeal Cake Crackers.

Oat Cracker Dough

Oatmeal Cake Crackers
1 ½ cups Rolled Oats, coarsely ground in a food processor
1 cup Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
¼ cup Demerara Sugar (or Cane Sugar or Brown Sugar)
¾ tsp Sea Salt
½ tsp Baking Soda
½ cup Unsalted Butter
¼ cup Buttermilk (I used Hatcher whole buttermilk.)

Oat Crackers on Sheet

Preheat oven to 350. Mix all ingredients together with your hands or a food processor. Roll out on a floured surface to ¼” thickness. Using a small biscuit cutter, cut into rounds and place on a cookie sheet. Brush the tops with egg white. Bake for 15-16 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack. These are delicious with cheese, especially the blue or cheddar varieties.

Oat Crackers Baked

Last weekend was a big bluegrass weekend for us as Grant’s bluegrass band, Off The Wagon, had three shows. Saturday they played The Station Inn and our friend Bradford Lee Folk joined them for a few songs. It reminded me of how much I love his voice and that I forgot to mention his new album, Somewhere Far Away, which came out a couple months back.

Bradford  & OTW

We first became familiar with Brad, or at least his voice, back when we lived in Seattle and we saw his old band Open Road play one of our favorite venues, the Tractor Tavern. So, when we first met him in Nashville a few years back, we were thrilled he had moved to town and excited to hear his new music. What a voice!

Brad&Mic-2

You can find his new cd plus lots of other good merch and his touring dates all on his website here. His songs are so beautiful and his voice is really unique. Definitely check his music out!

Brad at Roberts

 

Summer’s End

Whidbey

West Beach, Whidbey Island, WA.

Beach

Washington Park, Anacortes, WA.

Skagit

Driving through the Skagit Valley always pulls at my heart. There is nothing like it.

We just returned from a trip to visit family and friends in the Pacific Northwest. We quickly made up for our usual lack of fresh seafood while living in middle Tennessee, right from the get-go and procured a few other of our favorite PNW treats…

Photo 7-Seafood

Photo 8-Food

And in Seattle, our friend Steve took us out on his boat where we feasted on a picnic of freshly caught and steamed crab, local cheeses, and fresh fruit- while getting one of the best views of the city, in my opinion. I find the real working parts of the city to be the most beautiful.

Nautical

Nautical Men!

from the Boat

Our friend Kathy had a little birthday cook-out for her husband Chris and we were thrilled to be able to help celebrate. She created a few new simple recipes that I fell in love with. She came up with a few gems and with her permission, I am sharing them here. Her cooking methods are similar to ours in that she doesn’t usually follow recipes or measure ingredients so the measurements are a little of a guess but both seem hard to screw up, just taste along the way and adjust to suit yourself.

Cook-Out

Why, yes, that IS a Paul Stanley birthday cake!

Kalamata Fig

Kalamata Fig Spread
1 cup pitted Kalamata Olives
1/2-3/4 cup Bonne Maman Fig Preserves (3/4 c will make it sweeter, 1/2 c less figgy and more savory)

Blend together in a food processor, that’s it! Serve with bread or crackers. Rosemary makes a good garnish for it. It is excellent with goat cheese!

And what to do with all those jalapenos from the garden and the leftover watermelon in the fridge? Well, this sangria Kathy came up with was super delicious and made for a fun, festive cook-out beverage!

Watermelon Sangria

Watermelon Jalapeno Sangria
4 cups(ish) cubed Watermelon
1 medium seeded Jalepeno, diced fine
1 cup Sugar
1/2 cup Lime Juice
1 bottle dry Rose wine
1/2-3/4 bottle slightly Sparkling White Wine, like a Vinho Verde
1 cup Sparkling Water

Combine all ingredients together and then enjoy! Ahhh… so refreshing, with a hint of spice!

This next recipe came about from a few different inspirations. One, I was trying to think of another party recipe to include in this post. Secondly, as I was thinking about our trip, I was reminded of the excellent dinner we shared with dear friends Tim, Kelly, & Sully at their home. We hadn’t made a kale salad for ourselves in quite awhile. They served an excellent one with corn on the cob and grilled chicken. It was so beautiful.

Bakers

Kale Salad

And the third inspiration for this next recipe is our friend and neighbor, Melissa, who has an amazing back yard garden. I stopped by to take some photos for her last week and in return she made me dinner (with the excellent company of Melissa and her husband “Pank”) and sent me home with 2 bags of produce. I felt a little guilty as I surely came out on top of that barder. In one of the bags was a big bunch of kale!

Kale

I also used some cheese I picked up in Seattle and brought back with us. It is a parmesan style made by Beechers. Any parmesan-like cheese will work.

Beechers Brad's Parm

Made in Seattle, Brad’s Parmesan is a good salad topper.

Lemon Kale Dip
1 small bunch Kale
Sea Salt
Lemon Zest of ½ Lemon
Lemon Juice of ¼ Lemon
1-2 cloves Garlic
8 oz Neufchatel Cheese
½ – 1 cup Greek Yogurt
¼ cup finely grated firm Italian-style cheese
Black Pepper
1 Tbsp fresh Parsley
1 Tbsp fresh Basil
2 tsp fresh Oregano

Remove the hard middle stems from the kale leaves. Clean and dry kale leaves. Sprinkle the leaves with a little sea salt and squeeze the lemon over. Zest the lemon on top. Gently massage the leaves with your fingers and let sit while you mix all the other ingredients together in a food processor. Start by adding ½ cup yogurt and later you can gradually add in more, if needed. Chop up the kale finely and add to the mixture. Add more yogurt if necessary for desired thickness. Chill for a little while. Serve with Pretzel Chips.

Photo 16-Kale Spread

I can’t stop thinking about Otis Gibbs‘ music this week. Last week, we went to his album release at the world famous Station Inn! Otis has been playing music and writing songs for a long time. He tours all over but, he very rarely plays in Nashville. It was a real treat to hear him play with a full band.

Otis' Album Release

I snagged this poor quality, quick, cell phone photo before we were encouraged to put our electronics away and be there in person, together!

Otis is a great story teller and this new cd is a wonderful collection of new songs. Each one sounds like a soon-to-be favorite. This new album is sure to be one of those that just gets better and better with each listen, too.

Amy & Otis

Amy Lashley, Russell, and Otis Gibbs. The Red Barn Round-Up, April 2013.

Here’s a video for one of my favorite new songs, The Darker Side of Me.

You can purchase the new album on his website, here, and while you are there be sure to check out Amy Lashley’s page, Otis’ photographs (if you ever wondered what to buy me, hint, hint!), and Otis’ most excellent podcasts, “Thank’s for Giving a Damn!”

Photo 20-OG cd

In Celebration of the Tomato

1-Tomatoes

I have proclaimed this every year since I moved back to the south and I will do it again- southern tomatoes are the best tomatoes in the world! It’s true. Our neighborhood in Nashville believes in this so much that it hosts the Tomato Art Festival which grows in numbers of attendees every year. With it happening this coming weekend, I thought it was a good time to post some of our favorite tomato recipes from this summer. And just in case you need more ideas, here is the link to last year’s recipes.

Tomatoes are perfect on their own. Growing up, a small plate of sliced tomatoes and cucumbers was always on the dinner table throughout the summer. This year, Grant and I have been enjoying this simple salad of tomatoes, cucumbers, peaches, lemon basil from our garden, and sea salt and pepper.

2-Tom Cuke Peach Salad

I am afraid I didn’t write out actual recipes for most of these tomato creations this time. But, here are the ideas. They are all super easy and the ingredients are all so awesome, they are pretty hard to mess up no matter what measurements you use.

3-Bread Salad

I used to make this bread salad all the time, so much so that I think I got a little tired of it. I rediscovered it as a way to use up lots of leftover Bella Nashville sourdough bread. First, cut up leftover bread into cubes. Heat a large iron skillet. Add some butter. Toss in the bread cubes and saute to make croutons. You can toss anything in this salad- cucumbers, tomatoes, steamed green beans, olives, capers, basil, oregano, parsley, thyme, red onion, chopped garlic, peppers, scallions… add the homemade croutons and sprinkle with a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Salt and pepper if needed. Enjoy! If you need a real recipe to follow, Ina Garten has a great one here.

4-Chicken Eggplant Parmesan

We had so many tomatoes and little eggplants in our CSA box one week that we made a Chicken Eggplant Parmesan. It was so beautiful and super yummy. We didn’t follow a recipe. First we roasted up all the tomatoes with some garlic and a little olive oil in a baking dish at 400 degrees in the oven. Once they got all nice and roasted, we pulled them out and added in a bunch of fresh herbs from our garden and ground them in a little food processor. Voila- the sauce was ready! I sliced the eggplants and brushed them with olive oil and roasted those in the oven on a baking sheet until they were slightly brown. Next, we flattened two chicken breasts and cut them into pieces. We dipped them in egg and lightly coated them with a flour mixture and lightly fried them in an iron skillet. Then, we layered all the elements and added some Parmesan Reggiano and baked in the oven at 375 for 20-30 minutes.

5-Grit Stuffed Squash

I used some leftover cheese grits and roasted cherry tomatoes to come up with this next recipe. We had so many patty pan squash in our CSA basket and I had seen some recipes recently for stuffed patty pan squash that I decided to give it a try. Using the cheese grits as a base, I added a little crumbled bacon, roasted cherry tomatoes, some of the squash I cut out of the patty pans, fresh herbs, sauteed onion and garlic. I mixed it all together, stuffed it into the squash, topped with cheese, and baked in the oven.

6-Mac Cheese Prep

Some of my favorite ingredients to mix with tomatoes are cheese and bacon! I had this idea for a decadent Macaroni & Cheese for about a week and finally had time to make it. It was delicious! I used a fun new cheese (to me) that I got at The Bloomy Rind called Suffolk Punch from Parrish Hill Creamery in Vermont. I used this recipe for Mac & Cheese, below, that is an adaptation of a recipe from my Sister. I pulled the dish out of the oven a little early and added tomato slices, crumbled bacon, and I also topped the Mac & Cheese with some Pecorino to give it some sharpness. I then placed it back in the oven for 15-20 minutes. Delicious!

Mac & Cheese
olive oil
2 cups macaroni (I use Montebello brand)
2-3 cups grated cheese (I use combination of sharp cheddar & gruyere usually)
1 tsp butter (to coat bottom of baking dish)
1 tsp salt
1-2 tsp hot sauce
2 tsp dry mustard
2 eggs
2 cups milk

Cook pasta until al dente. Drain and blanch with cold water. Cover bottom of buttered baking dish with 1/2 of pasta. Spread 1/2 of the cheese over. Repeat. Beat eggs, milk, and spices together. Pour over. Bake at 375 for about 30 minutes.

7-Mac Cheese

I served it with some green beans from my cousin Johnny’s garden that I steamed and then sauteed with a little olive oil and mixed herbed nuts and some sauteed yellow squash and Vidalia onions!

7-Mac & Cheese

A musical highlight for us this summer was an outdoor concert at the Frist Art Museum one evening a couple weeks ago of Marty Stuart and his band, The Fabulous Superlatives. The show coincided with Marty’s photography which is on exhibit there now. I have so much respect for the man and his art. What a fun way to spend a summer evening (and celebrate my birthday!).

MS-1

MS-2

Go listen to some Mary Stuart music and be sure to check out his many books of photography. They’ve got a new album in the works and I can’t wait!