The food bump.

Now, I can’t pretend to be an expert or anything. I’ve been pregnant for 4 months out of my whole lifetime. But there is something I have learned. You know that “baby bump” that begins to appear soon after women start their blissful journey into the second trimester? People start to comment on “the bump” they see,and perhaps even reach out their hand (Dear God I hope they know you really well or else you have permission to slap their hand) and feel “the baby”.

Listen friends. You’re actually seeing/feeling her lunch. Or breakfast, or perhaps dinner, or perhaps a snack. I wake up in the morning, looking sort of pregnant…sort of tubby. By the end of the evening, I look legitimately pregnant. It’s a gross transition. Tubby to that exciting “pop” you were told would happen any moment…and then you wake up in the morning and it’s back to tubby. So if you were actually going to feel the baby, you’d have to feel in between a women’s groin and her belly button. Awkward. Obviously there comes a point when this isn’t the case, but during the beginning stages of bumpage, it is.

Here’s a diagram for those of you who need a visual. It starts at the beginning of pregnancy (look how roomy it is in there, it’s like a 5 star suite!). Your intestines have all this room to spread out and move stuff right along. But quickly, your intestines are squished up and your bladder down. So think about it…right now, my intestines are beginning their journey into squashed land and no longer fill my lower abdomen. So when I eat throughout the day, my stomach visible grows larger. The pictures make it clear why women at 30+ weeks deserve to have things picked up/moved/done for them. I mean good gaawwwddd.

 weeks_pregnant_pictures

In summary:

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Anyway, I can’t really complain. My pregnancy so far has been a cake walk. More pros than cons. One moment of serious food aversion to squash and potatoes when I was 10ish weeks along. Never a speck of nausea. The fatigue was pretty bad. I felt depressed as the daily tasks that used to be so easy, piled up around me while I napped. But hey. I’d rather be sleepy than pukey. And some women have to deal with both (I’m SO sorry!).

And before you ask…yes, that is a Nerf gun on the ground. No, I don’t have a son I never told you about. Yes…it belongs to my husband and he keeps it next to the bed…ya know, in case of intruders.

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Ice cream in January? Yes, in sandwich form.

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned exactly the extent to which I love ice cream. I worked at Baskin Robbins for a few years in high school and I haven’t been able to get enough of the stuff since. No joke, given the flavor and brand, I could eat a gallon of ice cream with no problem at all. It helps that I don’t have a lactose-intolerant bone in my body. Well, sometimes it’s not helpful. Sometimes it’s down right annoying. I’d love a reason to stop me from consuming the calories. As it stands, it’s an internal battle raging in my head. Very often, ice cream wins said battle.

It’s been at least a month since I’ve had any ice cream, and as a reward for my good behavior, I’ll eat some ice cream. Ice cream sandwiches are of course a favorite dessert of mine, so I thought I’d try my hand at making some. It was a lot simpler process than I’d imagined. I will say, the freezing of the sandwich is key to its success. They were MUCH better after being frozen overnight, as opposed to 30 minutes.

This dough recipe is also great, though I must admit, not perfect. It’s delicious, but doesn’t have the same soft and chewy texture of a traditional ice cream sandwich. I don’t see this outcome as a problem, only as an opportunity to make more ice cream sandwiches :)

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Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Sandwiches 

2 cup(s) All-Purpose Flour

1/2 cup(s) Cocoa Powder

2 tablespoon(s) Cocoa Powder

1/4 teaspoon(s) Salt

1 cup(s) (2 sticks) Unsalted Butter, softened

1 1/2 cup(s) Confectioners’ Sugar

2 large Egg Yolks

1 teaspoon(s) Pure Vanilla Extract

2 quart(s) Mint Chocolate-Chip Ice Cream, slightly softened (Or flavor of choice)

  1. Make the cookie-sandwich dough: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Sift together the flour, cocoa, and salt in a medium-sized bowl and set aside. Beat the butter and sugar together in a large bowl with an electric mixer set on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks and the vanilla to the butter mixture and beat to incorporate. Reduce mixer speed to low and slowly add the flour mixture. Beat until a firm dough forms. Divide dough in half and shape each half into a rectangle, about 4 by 3 inches. Wrap in plastic and chill for 20 minutes.

  2. Shape the cookies: Line a 13- by 9-inch baking pan (or large plastic tupperware) with plastic wrap and spread the ice cream in the pan. Cover with plastic wrap and refreeze. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. Roll one rectangle of dough out to 1/4 inch in thickness — approximately 9 by 11 inches. Cut the dough into six 2 1/2- by 5-inch rectangles. Repeat using the remaining dough for a total of 12 cookies. Using the blunt end of a wooden skewer, poke holes into the cookies (5 rows with 3 holes in each row). Place the cookies about 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes on the pan. Transfer the baked cookies to a wire rack and let cool completely.

  3. Assemble the sandwiches: Place 6 cookies face down on a clean work surface. Remove the ice cream from the baking dish and unwrap it. Using a sharp knife, cut six 2 1/2- by 5-inch rectangles from the ice cream. Place one piece of ice cream on each of the cookies and top with remaining cookies. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and freeze until set — Minimum 30 minutes, best overnight.

Enjoy.

A Pleasant Surprise – Farmer’s Casserole

It was one of those lazy mornings on Saturday. Matt and I slept in, finally getting going and ready to eat breakfast at about 11. We both felt like eating a big breakfast. Probably because it was actually lunch time. We were running low on staple breakfast supplies and neither of us we’re going to get dressed to run to the store. We wanted more than scrambled eggs and toast.

On a whim I picked up my Betty Crocker cookbook and thumbed around the never-before-inspected “Eggs & Cheese” section. Recipe after recipe let me down, as I listed off ingredients I didn’t have. But, hoping to be inspired, I kept at it.

I saw one titled “Farmer’s Casserole”. The word “farmer” is almost synonymous with “meat” in the recipe world, and being a vegetarian I thought it would be another fail. But the first ingredient set a light bulb off. “Frozen shredded hash brown”. Frozen? Gasp! I had frozen diced potato in my freezer from last summer! I had forgotten! Oh…1 cup of ham, shoot. Wait…I’ve got a bunch of vegetarian sausage patties in my freezer! Also from last summer! My mother-in-law, the substitution queen, would be so proud of me.

After a few more substitutions, (chopped yellow onion instead of green onion, and half chipotle cheddar half medium cheddar in instead if Monterey jack) I threw together what I thought would probably be a semi-disaster. Edible, but never to be made again.

How wrong I was. Turns out it’s one of the most delicious, eggy, cheesy things I’ve ever eaten. I will be making this ag

Farmer's Cassarole 5 Farmer's Cassarole Farmer's Cassarole 1 Farmer's Cassarole 3 Farmer's Cassarole 4 Farmer's Cassarole 2There were a few things I would change. After laying the potatoes in the bottom of the dish, I would sprinkle pepper all over them. If available, I would also use chipotle cheddar (or spiced cheese of some kind) entirely. It needed some pizzazz. I ended up adding hot sauce and pepper to every fork full.

The vegetarian patties worked wonders! I thawed them, chopped them and tossed em’ in. Next time I might add some diced bell peppers and half grape tomatoes. Yum. This MUST be your next Saturday morning meal. De. Lish.

Farmer’s Casserole – Betty Crocker

Nonstick cooking spray

3 cups frozen shredded hash brown potatoes

3/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese with jalapeno peppers or shredded cheddar cheese (3 ounces)

1 cup diced cooked ham, cooked breakfast sausage or Canadian-style bacon (or veggie sausage or veggies)

1/4 cup sliced green onions (2)

4 beaten eggs

1 1/2 cups milk or one 12-ounce can evaporated milk or evaporated fat-free milk (I used almond milk)

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper (more if you’d like to add it to potatoes)

1.Coat a 2-quart square baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Arrange potatoes evenly in the bottom of the dish (insert – pepper). Sprinkle with cheese, ham, and green onions.

2.In a bowl combine eggs, milk, salt, and pepper. Pour egg mixture over potato mixture in dish.

3.Bake, uncovered, in a 350 degree F oven for 40 to 45 minutes (took mine more like 60 min) or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. Makes 6 servings.

Enjoy.

Linguine with Broccoli Cream Pesto

I think I found a staple. This pasta is uncomplicated, fresh, warm, and easy to cook up. It tastes SO good. Of course, I have yet to make a Smitten Kitchen recipe that I don’t like.

Broccoli Cream Pesto PastaThe flavor of broccoli really comes through in this pasta, but somehow it tastes a little sweet. Which makes me think this would be loved by people of all ages and varied palates. Honestly the texture is so perfect…you don’t need bread. Trust me, I like my bread with a side of bread. But I didn’t touch the stuff tonight.

I also like my pasta with a side of pasta, so if you’re the same way and cooking for more than 3 or 4 people, double the recipe.

173163166167Broccoli Cream Pesto Pasta

Broccoli Cream Pesto Pasta

Note: The sauce is gluten-free and could be used with a gluten-free pasta.

1/2 pound broccoli
1/2 pound dried spaghetti or pasta of choice
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced (or, more to taste)
1/2 teaspoon table salt
Freshly ground black pepper or pinches of red pepper flakes
4 tablespoons heavy cream
A heap of grated parmesan (about 1/2 cup), to serve

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil for your pasta.

Remove broccoli florets from stems and chop into medium florets. Peel stems with a vegetable peeler (I do this so that they cook quickly, plus, I prefer their taste without the tough stem skin.) and slice them into 1/2-inch segments.

Use your pot of future pasta water to steam (by suspending a mesh strainer over your pasta pot and covering it with a lid for 5 to 6 minutes) your broccoli florets and stems until just tender, then drain if needed and set them aside.

Add pasta to water and cook until al dente, or about one minute less than fully cooked. Before draining pasta, reserve a cup of pasta cooking water and set it aside. Drain pasta.

Wipe out pot so that you can use it again. In the bottom of pot, melt butter and olive oil together over medium heat.

Add onion and reduce to medium-low, sauteing it until tender, about 7 minutes. Add garlic and cook for another two minutes. Add steamed broccoli, salt and red or black pepper and turn the heat back up to medium-high, cooking it with the onion and garlic for a few additional minutes. Pour cream over mixture and let cook for 30 seconds.

Transfer broccoli mixture and all of its creamy bits at the bottom of the pan to a blender or food processor and blend in short bursts until it’s finely chopped and a little sauce. Don’t worry if it looks dry; that reserved pasta water will give it the sauciness it needs in a minute.

Add the broccoli sauce back to the pot with the drained spaghetti and a splash or two of the reserved pasta water. Cook over medium-high for 1 to 2 minutes, tossing the mixture so that it evenly coats. Add more pasta water as needed to loosen the sauce. Adjust seasonings to taste, adding more salt or pepper, and scoop into a serving bowl. Shower spaghetti with grated parmesan and dig in.

Do ahead: Deb (from Smitten Kitchen) makes a large batch of the sauce and keeps it in the fridge for several days, boiling a little pasta each day for lunch when she make it for  her son.

177Enjoy.

Zucchini Rice Gratin

Recipe posts abound. I’ve just got food on the brain! So far we’ve grown what we estimate to be about 150 pounds of veggies this spring/summer. Of that 150 pounds, 45 has been zucchini. Zucchini that I grew on accident (another story for another day). I’ve been using it up/giving it away as fast as possible. Same with tomatoes. So this recipe, using both of those things and ingredients I had on hand, caught my eye. It was also fun to try something new. I didn’t realize how delicious rice gratin was.

This recipe is perfect. Combining (jasmine) rice, thyme, onions, garlic and topping it with broiled zucc, tomatoes and parmesan cheese…I don’t have words. The burst of summer tomato flavor, paired with the chewy rice. Aaahhh…heaven. This will be a regular for sure.

Zucchini Rice Gratin

1/3 cup uncooked white rice, long-grain is suggested but use whatever you prefer
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 pounds zucchini (about 3 medium), sliced 1/4-inch thick
1/2 pound plum tomatoes, sliced 1/4-inch thick
Table salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 medium onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
1/2 cup grated Parmesan, divided

Preheat oven to 450°F. Cook the rice according to your favorite method. The package directions work in some cases, but check my notes above about adjustments I find I have to make. If you cook the rice in a large, wide-ish covered skillet, it might cook even faster but you’ll have the chance to use it again (and save on dirty dishes) when you need to cook the onions in a bit.

While rice cooks, coat two large (or, if you have the same pitifully small oven as I do, three smaller) baking sheets each with a tablespoon of a of olive oil (a bit less for smaller pans). Spread zucchini and tomato slices on the baking sheets in as close to a single layer as you can. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Roast tomatoes for 10 minutes and zucchini for 20. Flip zucchini halfway through; it’s not worth the messy effort for the tomatoes. Leave oven on.

Your zucchini will most likely not have slices that look like coasters. It only happens when you have a 10 pound zucchini…which haunts you from the corner of the kitchen.

Heat large, heavy skillet (such as the one you used to cook your rice) over medium heat. Once hot, add 2 tablespoons olive oil, heat oil, then add onions, garlic and 1/4 teaspoon salt to pan. Cover and reduce heat to low, cooking onion until limp and tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Combine onion mixture, rice, eggs, thyme, half of your grated cheese and a half-tablespoon of olive oil in a bowl. Add a good amount of freshly ground black pepper. Use the remaining half-tablespoon of olive oil to coat a shallow 2-quart baking dish. Spread half of rice mixture in bottom of dish. Arrange half of roasted zucchini on top. Spread remaining rice mixture over it and please don’t worry about being neat about this; dinner will be “rustic” tonight! Arrange remaining zucchini on top, then tomato slices. Sprinkle with remaining grated cheese and bake until set and golden brown, about 20 minutes. Each oven varies, but I find mine does the very best browning when the dish is on a rack near the top of the oven.

 

Let cool and gobble up.

Fritters.

Every once in a while, I discover a new recipe that knocks my socks off. I usually go way over board after such a discovery. I start to make it every other day which my husband’s taste buds tire of. These however, are so delicious, that I don’t care. It’s my pleasure to introduce you to, zucchini fritters.

I discovered this recipe on a website my friend Julie suggested, Smittenkitchen.com. I’ve been dinking around on the website ever since and am so impressed with the recipes she has shared. They are delicious, easy to follow and creative. So, with the exception of my inserted photos, I’m going just going to paste her recipe/instructions right here.

Zucchini Fritters

Yield: About 6 – 3 1/2 inch fritters

1 pound (about 2 medium) zucchini

1 teaspoon coarse or Kosher salt, plus extra to taste

2 scallions, split lengthwise and sliced thin

1 large egg, lightly beaten

Freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Olive or another oil of your choice, for frying

To serve (optional)

1 cup sour cream or plain, full-fat yogurt

1 to 2 tablespoon lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon lemon zest

Pinches of salt

1 small minced or crushed clove of garlic

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Have a baking sheet ready.

Trim ends off zucchini and grate them either on the large holes of a box grater or, if you have one, using the shredding blade of a food processor. The latter is my favorite as I’m convinced it creates the coarsest and most rope-like strands and frankly, I like my fritters to look like mops.

In a large bowl, toss zucchini with 1 teaspoon coarse salt and set aside for 10 minutes. Wring out the zucchini in one of the following ways: pressing it against the holes of a colander with a wooden spoon to extract the water, squeezing out small handfuls at a time, or wrapping it up in a clean dishtowel or piece of cheese cloth and wringing away. You’ll be shocked (I was!) by the amount of liquid you’ll lose, but this is a good thing as it will save the fritters from sogginess.

Return deflated mass of zucchini shreds to bowl. Taste and if you think it could benefit from more salt (most rinses down the drain), add a little bit more; we found 1/4 teaspoon more just right. Stir in scallions, egg and some freshly ground black pepper. In a tiny dish, stir together flour and baking powder, then stir the mixture into the zucchini batter.

In a large heavy skillet — cast iron is dreamy here — heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Drop small bunches of the zucchini mixture onto the skillet only a few at a time so they don’t become crowded and lightly nudge them flatter with the back of your spatula. Cook the fritters over moderately high heat until the edges underneath are golden, about 3 to 4 minutes. If you find this happening too quickly,  reduce the heat to medium. Flip the fritters and fry them on the other side until browned underneath again, about 2 to 3 minutes more. Drain briefly on paper towels then transfer to baking sheet and then into the warm oven until needed. Repeat process, keeping the pan well-oiled, with remaining batter. I like to make sure that the fritters have at least 10 minutes in the oven to finish setting and getting extra crisp.

For the topping, if using, stir together the sour cream, lemon juice, zest, salt and garlic and adjust the flavors to your taste. Dollop on each fritter before serving. These fritters are also delicious with a poached or fried egg on top, trust me.

I will never eat sour cream the same again. I actually took the time to whip 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, pinches of salt and a small crushed garlic clove into ours. Seriously. I have never tasted anything so heavenly.

Zucchini that is fresh from your garden or purchased during summer months should contain quite a lot of water. So take your time really wringing it out. Your fritters will taste better if you do. During the winter months, don’t be afraid to sprinkle your zucchini with water to moisten it back up.

If you try this recipe let me know! Am I just crazy in thinking this is to die for??!!

Pesto Freak Out

I love pesto. We eat it all the time. Use it as bread dip, on our pasta, on our pizza, etc. But it’s so spendy in the stores. This year I got the bright idea to make a bunch ahead of time so I could freeze it to use throughout the fall. However I assumed, as I always do, that I was going to make TONS of it. “I’ve made it before, how hard can it be to make a bigger batch?”.

Well it’s not hard particularly, but I only have one food processor so I’m limited to about 40 oz at a time. So that’s what I’ve done. It takes quite a bit of time and quite a lot of olive oil. It also took about half of the leaves on my three mature basil plants to do it.

However, I’ve got about 30 more seeds sprouting up. So there’s going to be pesto at every single meal this next year. :)

I simply throw basil, garlic, almonds (cheaper than pine nuts) and olive oil into my food processor and blend it until I like the texture. I add more olive oil as I go. I’ve frozen it in some small freezer jam jars. When I want it, I’ll pull it out, let it thaw and add parmesan cheese.

Any homemade pesto experiences or other recipes out there?