Roasted Okra & Green Beans

Roasted okra and green beans. A healthy alternative to fried okra or french fries, and so much easier to make.

(Rachel – The Vegan-Eatin’ Daughter)

In our huge haul of garden veggies from Uncle, we had a small batch of fresh okra. I’ve been planning to fry them up, as any good southerner would do, but I’m not really the frying kind of gal. It’s just so messy.

There you have it. The secret to eating  healthy is to be too lazy to clean up greasy pots and pans.

While waiting on me to get over my anal retentiveness, some of my okra and a handful of green beans started to wither away. Still not ready to conquer the mess of slicing, coating, and deep frying the okra, I decided to try out a cooking method I know and love for green beans, roasting, on the okra, too.

I may not be a traditional Southern gal in many ways, but this plate of roasted green beans and okra is my kind of southern treat. In less than 30 minutes, these are prepped, cooked and on your plate. You could serve them as a healthy afternoon snack for kids (almost 11-month old Jackson loved them), a party appetizer, or a side dish to any southern cuisine.

Rachel’s Roasted Okra & Green Beans

Serves 2

Ingredients

2 c. fresh okra (not frozen)
1 cup fresh green beans
3 t. olive oil
1 t. salt
1/2 t. of cayenne

Directions

Preheat oven to 450. Put okra and green beans on a baking sheet. In a small bowl, combine olive oil, salt, and cayenne. Pour the oil over the veggies and rub into them to make sure they are all evenly coated.

Bake for 20 minutes, flipping the veggies after 10 minutes. Sprinkle with a tad more salt as they come out of the oven.

I dipped them in Muir Glen’s organic ketchup (my fave), because I’m a ketchup-aholic, but they really didn’t need anything. Feel free to play with different spices, too.

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Roasted Okra & Green Beans
The URL: http://wp.me/p1UwM9-rm
© Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved


Stuffed Garden Zucchini with Spinach & Walnut Pesto

(Rachel – The Vegan-Eatin’ Daughter)

I have this dramatic little plant on my kitchen table. When she get’s a little parched (it’s most definitely a she), she goes from her perky upright position to draping her long thin limbs all the way over the side of the pot as if she’s fainted. I give her a little sip of water and within minutes the color returns to her cheeks, she brushes the dirt off her skirt, and gets back to work brightening up my kitchen.

As much as I would love to have a green thumb and to have the time, desire, and talent to have a garden, I’m just not there yet. My plants have to literally bend over backwards to get me to notice them. Every attempt at an herb garden has been a miserable failure. One day, when I grow up, I hope I find my inner plant whisperer. Until then, I’ll stick to dramatic plants that practically scream for my attention.

On the bright side, Jared’s Uncle Philip, we just call him Uncle, has an organic garden. Once or twice a year, when his harvest overfloweth, he spreads around the veggie love. This week, he sent us squash, zucchini, cucumbers, a big bag full of beautiful cherry tomatoes, okra, and green beans. Fresh, local, organic, free veggies make my heart go pitter patter!

Some of the zucchini and squash had grown a little too much. When it comes to produce, bigger is usually not better. I hate to waste any vegetable, so I decided to use the zucchini as a pretty vessel for a cherry tomato stuffing.

The zucchini was still a little bit bitter and took longer to bake than a smaller variety, but the stuffing of sweet cherry tomatoes and garlicky croutons was insanely delicious. Smaller zucchini would be perfect and tender enough that you could eat the whole thing, skin and all. If you’re looking for a way to make use of any summer squash that got a little too much time on the vine, though, this is a clever way to use them up.

I have more veggies from Uncle’s garden coming tomorrow and I’ve hardly made a dent in the first round. What’s your favorite way to use up garden veggies?

Rachel’s Stuffed Garden Zucchini with Spinach & Walnut Pesto

Serves 2

Ingredients

2 large zucchini or 4 normal sized zucchini, cut in half lengthwise & seeds scooped out
extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt
course ground pepper

2 slices of whole grain bread, cut into small cubes
1 t. extra virgin olive oil
1 t. garlic powder

1/2 small onion, diced
1 leek, dark green section removed, chopped into thin half moons & rinsed well
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
2 cups baby spinach

Pesto
1/2 c. spinach
1 T. walnuts
1 clove of garlic
1 t. extra virgin olive oil
3-4 t. water
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper

Look at all those pretty cherry tomatoes. That’s only about half of what we got from Uncle’s garden!

Directions

Preheat oven to 375. Place zucchini cut side up in a baking dish, drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt and course ground black pepper. Bake until fork tender. 20-35 minutes depending on the size of the zucchini.

Toss bread cubes with olive oil and garlic powder.  Pour onto a baking sheet and bake in the same oven as zucchini until crispy, about 10 minutes.

In a skillet, heat a little olive oil on medium heat. Add onion and leeks and saute until transclucent, add garlic and tomatoes, continue sauteing for about five more minutes. Remove from heat and stir in spinach.

When the zucchini are fork tender, remove from the oven, stuff generously with the filling and put back in the oven for 15 more minutes.

Blend all of the pesto ingredients together, starting with 3 t. of water and adding more until the pesto is thin enough to drizzle easily.

Serve the stuffed squash on a big family platter, drizzled with pesto on top. Can be served as a main meatless dish or as a side.

The skin on the larger squash is too tough to eat, but the flesh did get tender while baking.

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Stuffed Garden Zucchini with Spinach & Walnut Pesto
The URL: http://wp.me/p1UwM9-qP
© Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved


Mexican Comfort Casserole & Cashew Queso

Saturday was a big game for my husband’s high school baseball team. I told him as I kissed him goodbye “We”ll be there, look for us in the stands.” Of course, Jackson’s afternoon nap fell at exactly the start of the game. I’ve been trying to keep him on a good sleep schedule during the day as it seems to translate to better sleep at night, so I waited until he woke up. Finally, after sleeping an hour and a half, I quickly loaded him in the car to try and make it to the game before it ended. I tuned into the local radio station airing the game and crossed my fingers that the innings would slow down (the ONLY time I’ve ever wished for baseball to slow down!) We rushed into the stadium as the seventh inning began, our team down three runs.

I sat in the stands next to another coaches’ wife. We both cheered loud when our husbands’ team tied up the game, sending us into extra innings. It was a nail biter of a game!

Sadly, the other team scored the winning run knocking our boys out of their first place spot in district.

“I don’t think I’m going to wait around for them to finish talking to the boys.” I told the other coach’s wife. “I think I’ll head to the store for a few things instead. There’s nothing like Mexican food to cheer Jared up.”

“Yep, I have a pint of Blue Bell in the freezer for occasions just like this,” she nodded.

So I whipped up a mexican casserole, cashew cheese dip, rice, salsa, and gaucamole. Then popped open a couple of Coronas with a twist of lime. Boy was my kitchen a mess, but my husband was feeling like a winner again!

My mom got that little avocado green dip dish for me. It’s an antique from 1960. I think it’s so cute!

Due to that whole baby sleep schedule mentioned above, it was dark by the time we actually sat down to eat, so pics of the Mexican Fiesta were quite meh. Yeah, meh is a word. So I made a plate of leftovers on Sunday for lunch to get better pictures. Leftovers = equally delicious.

Rachel’s
Mexican Comfort Casserole with Cashew Queso

Serves 8

Ingredients

2 1/2 c. chopped onions
2 c. chopped peppers (any color or kind — I used green bell and poblano)
3 cloves garlic, minced or thinly sliced
1 yellow squash, sliced
2 zucchini, sliced
1 can fire roasted tomatoes
2-3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
4 c. (or 2 16 oz cans) of refried or mashed pinto beans
~12 corn tortillas
Cashew Queso (see below)
Optional garnish: lettuce, tomato, avocado

Directions

Preheat oven to 350.

Saute onions on medium to med-high heat with a little oil and salt for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the peppers and continue sauteing for 10 more minutes. In the last couple of minutes add the garlic.

In a separate pan, saute zucchini and squash on med-high heat with a little oil and salt & pepper until they just start to brown but are still firm.

Meanwhile, in a food processor or blender combine the fire roasted tomatoes and chipotle peppers in adobe sauce. Pour mixture into a bowl large enough to dip a corn tortilla in.

Now begin layering in a casserole dish (I used two round ones, but you could use one 8 x10 or whatever you have on hand). This recipe is super flexible. If you end up with extra ingredients, just add another layer.

Layer 1: 1/2 of the onion, pepper, and garlic mixture
Layer 2: tortillas dipped in chipotle tomato sauce and topped with a thin layer of more sauce (tear tortillas in half to border edges if needed)
Layer 3: 2 cups of beans
Layer 4: tortillas dipped in chipotle tomato sauce and topped with a thin layer of more sauce
Layer 5: zucchini and squash
Layer 6: tortillas dipped in chipotle tomato sauce and topped with a thin layer of more sauce
Layer 7: 2 cups of beans
Layer 8: 1/2 of the onion, pepper, and garlic mixture

Bake uncovered for 30 minutes. Top with cashew queso, lettuce tomato, and avocado.

Cashew Queso

Note: this is not my recipe. I got it from a friend and I’m unsure of the source.

Ingredients

1 c. raw cashews
1/4 c. sunflower seeds
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
2 tbsp onion powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 orange roasted bell pepper* (red or yellow will work too, but orange gives the most cheese-like color)
2 c. water
1 tsp lemon juice

Directions

In a food processor, blend cashews, sunflower seeds, nutritional yeast, salt,and onion powder into a fine dust. Add about 1/2 a cup of the water and the roasted bell pepper and blend again. Add the rest of the water and lemon juice. Transfer mixture to a pot and heat on medium heat, stirring pretty often until it has thickened to the consistency you like. If it gets too thick, just add a little more water.

*Making your own roasted peppers is easy. Just placing them directly on on a gas burner flame rotating it a few times (like this) or on a pan under the broiler until charred. Then put it in a bowl tightly covered with plastic wrap for a about five minutes. Rub off most of the skin with a damp paper towel. Voila, roasted peppers!

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Mexican Comfort Casserole & Cashew Queso
The URL: https://welaughwecrywecook.com/2012/04/03/mexican-comfort-casserole-cashew-queso

Sun Dried Tomato & Artichoke Bowtie Pasta

We are proud Texans in this household….

Hook 'Em Horns

Jackson cowboyed up for his first Halloween

…but if I weren’t Texan, I’d be Italian.

My mom would say the same about herself. In fact, I think she may be Italian at heart. She lives on Italian time meandering through the day, disregarding clocks and schedules, stopping for a daily afternoon siesta when she gets the yawns. Like a typical Italian mama, she cooks great big delicious meals for family and friends for any occasion that pops up.

I, on the other hand, may more accurately fit the description of the strong willed Italian. Just now as I was browsing for Italian quotes, I stopped on a t-shirt slogan that said “Always right, never wrong…I’m Italian.” Jared peaked over, and quicker than a stallion shot off, “Hey honey, maybe you are Italian!”

Italian food is as diverse as the people from there (or who wish they were). It can be crazy indulgent or mad healthy. Most dishes can be modified to satisfy a meat lover, vegetarian, or even vegan. A dish can have bright and fresh flavors from lemon and rosemary, deep rustic flavors from tomatoes and olives, or rich creamy flavors from cheeses and cream. Kids love it, adults love it. What’s not to love?

This bowtie pasta dish would be great to serve at your next big family gathering. Feel free to mix up the veggies with whatever you have on hand or toss in some chicken or Parmesan for the meat and cheese lovers at the table.

Rachel’s
Sun Dried Tomato Bowtie Pasta

Ingredients

16 oz of Whole Wheat Bowtie Pasta (The Delallo line of whole wheat pastas are my favorite)
1 can of quartered artichoke hearts
1 6oz  jar of Sun Dried Tomatoes packed in olive oil and herbs
1 small onion, chopped
1 zucchini, chopped
1 yellow squash, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
A couple handful of spinach
3 tbs of white cooking wine
Salt & Pepper
Chopped parsley (optional)

Directions

While prepping the veggies, boil the water and cook the pasta as directed on the box, salting the water liberally.

Chop the veggies and mince the garlic. Julienne cut the sun dried tomatoes, reserving the oil in the jar.

In a large pan, heat about a tbs of oil on med-high heat, add onions and a sprinkle of salt. Sautee until the onions are golden. Add zucchini, squash, and garlic and sautee until soft. Add artichokes, sun dried tomatoes, spinach, and white cooking wine and sautee until spinach is just wilted. Gently toss the drained pasta in with the veggies. Pour in just enough of the oil and herbs from the sun dried tomatoes to lightly coat everything. Season with salt & pepper to taste and garnish with fresh chopped parsley.

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Sun Dried Tomato & Artichoke Bowtie Pasta
The URL: https://welaughwecrywecook.wordpress.com/2012/03/15/sun-dried-tomato-artichoke-bowtie-pasta
© Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved