And still more figs……

Fig ice pops

We’re still buried under a pile of figs here at the ol’ homestead and I’ll admit I’m a little (a lot) tired of them. That being said, this weeks recipe is super simple and takes maybe 5 minutes to put together and doesn’t require a lot of ingredients. Which is exactly what my tired brain and body need after a super exhausting week at work. So I’ll get right too it.

Fig and Brown Sugar Ice Pops

  • 5-10 ripe figs, cut into 1/4 ” wide sliced
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 can coconut milk

Soak ice pop sticks in water and set aside. Add a couple of slices of fig to each ice pop mold and set mold aside. Place all the remaining ingredients into a blender and and blend for about 30 seconds until all the ingredients are well combined. Pour mixture into ice pop molds insert soaked sticks, seal molds and place in freezer for at least 6 hours to set. Enjoy.

See, I told you it was easy and quick.

Easy Summer Tomato Sauce with Cherry Tomatoes and Herbs

summer sauce with pasta

I mentioned in a recent post that we have a nice little garden out back this summer and now we’ve find ourselves with an (over)abundance of cherry tomatoes. There’s only so many cherry tomatoes I can tolerate in a salad. So I thought I’d make a quick and easy pasta sauce out of them and with the addition of basil, thyme and oregano which is also in (over)abundance make a really light, easy and savory pasta sauce.

I cut the tomatoes in half, tossed them with about 1 TBS of olive oil, added 4 crushed garlic cloves, 1 tsp coarse sea salt, 1 TBS of chili flakes, and the herbs. I roasted them all on a parchment lined cookie sheet at 400°F for about 20 minutes or until the tomatoes burst and start to brown.

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Because the sauce is so light, thin pastas like angel hair, capellini or spaghettini work best. Just simply toss the sauce with some pasta and add a salty cheese like pecorino, ricotta salata or feta. If you wanna add some protein, it’d be nice with grilled shrimp or grilled chicken and finished with some julienned fresh basil. Or if you want to keep it vegan/vegetarian, add more summer veggies like zucchini and eggplant. These can easily be roasted alongside the cherry tomatoes.

The sauce will hold in the fridge for a couple of days and can be warmed by tossing with warm pasta. I just put into a jar and toss it in the fridge to use later in the week.

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Feeling chilly? Warm up with some football and some chili.

chili

I look forward to Fall, not because I’m a big fan of Halloween or the trees changing colors. I like Fall because I feel like I now have the permission of the Weather/Season gods to stop eating salads and light grilled fare and can now eat heartier comfort foods like soups, stews, and roasts.

Chili is hearty, comforting, easy crowd-pleasing dish for entertaining because you can make it ahead or cook it in a slow cooker. It doesn’t require a lot of attention. Also, you can easily extend it to feed a good number of people by adding beans or serving with some kind of bread or chip.

I’ve found that chili is a good gateway to introduce folks to vegetarian food. I will typically use a combination of different beans in my chili as well as TVP (textured vegetable protein). You can buy TVP at health food stores and I know in my area both Wegman’s and Whole Foods have the powdered form in their bulk food section. I prefer to use MorningStar Farms® Meal Starters Grillers® Recipe Crumbles™ . Check for it in your grocery store’s freezer section or in their health food section.

The crumbles look like and are texturally similar to ground beef, this will lend a little familiarity and comfort to folks that are leery of vegetarian and meat-free dishes or have had a bad experience with tofu and tempeh. The crumbles come frozen and don’t require defrosting before cooking. They just need to be heated through. With the relatively short prep and cooking time, you can easily get a hearty meal on the table with minimal planning and effort.

Augment the “meat” with a couple of different types of beans and vegetables. I’m not a big fan of kidney beans so for something like a chili I’ll use a combination of different types like pinto, red beans, black beans or garbanzos. Each bean has its own unique texture and flavor. I like the contrast of texture that each bean lends to the chili. Use what you have on hand and your family likes. In addition to the usual chili ingredients like onions, garlic and peppers, I’ll also add vegetables like corn, red bell peppers, or zucchini, again its whatever you have and like. The version pictured above has corn, garbanzo beans and black beans.

I buy the small cans of beans, even though they are more expensive. I have less waste with a smaller can especially if I’m going to be using more than one kind. Canned beans tend to have quite a bit of sodium, so I’ll pour them into a strainer and rinse them in cold water before using. I also used canned chipotles in adobo sauce. Chipotles are fire roasted jalapeños. The roasted flavor from the chilies as well as the spicy adobo sauce lend a rich smokiness to the chili that typically would come from grilled meat. They can be fairly hot so use in moderation. I haven’t figured out how to make small amounts of chili, so this stores really well in the freezer it also makes for a great topping for nachos.

Recipe
1 Yellow Onion Diced
1 Bell Pepper Diced
4 Garlic Cloves Crushed
1 Cup Frozen or Fresh Corn Kernals
2 cups of what ever type of beans you like
16 oz of Low Sodium Vegetable Stock/Broth
2 Chipotles chilies and 2 TBS of the Adobo sauce that they are canned with (optional) Add more chipotle if you like things really hot.
2 cups of MorningStar Farms® Meal Starters Grillers® Recipe Crumbles™ (optional)
1 15oz can of tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes
1 TBS Cracked Black Pepper
2 TBS Ground Cumin
2 TBS Chili Powder
Salt to taste
2 TBS Olive Oil

Heat the 2 TBS of oil in a large stock pot or dutch over over medium high heat. Add the onions, bell pepper and garlic and cook until the onions soften. Add the pepper, cumin and chili powder for about a minute then add the tomatoes. Turn the heat down to medium and cover and let simmer for about 10 minutes. Add the the remainder of the ingredients except the salt and cover and simmer until every thing is heated through.

Garnish with shredded cheese and green onions and serve with corn bread or corn chips.

Next up…a wonton three-way or rather, wontons three different ways.

Falafel is the Best Street Food Ever: Millions throughout the Middle East Would Agree.

Falafel with tomato cucumber salad

Falafel with tomato cucumber salad

Falafel is a popular street food throughout the Middle East. Its a great meat replacement and its high in protein, flavorful and healthy if fried in a heart healthy oil like grapeseed oil or first press extra virgin olive oil.

Chickpeas (garbanzo beans) or fava beans are the two most common beans used to make falafel. The beans are ground up with onions, herbs and spices then formed into ping-pong sized balls or patties.

Falafel’s eaten as a convenient on the go kind of meal. Its often served in a highly portable warm Pita with a variety of condiments. Popular condiments are shredded lettuce, pickles, onions, hot peppers, radishes hummus, tahini, tomato cucumber salad or yogurt garlic sauce.

The beans have to soak in water overnight so this isn’t something that you can decide to make at the last minute. Once the beans have soaked and have softened its just a matter of putting all the ingredients into a food processor until everything comes together and can be formed into balls or patties. I’ll let the mix chill in the fridge for an hour or so before I form into balls and fry them up.

Falafel Recipe
1 cups dried garbanzo or fava beans
1/2 cup diced onions
1/2 cup roughly chopped parsley
3 cloves of garlic crushed
4 green onions chopped whites and greens
1 jalapeño minced (optional)
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp each, pepper, ground coriander, ground cumin, ground cinnamon and ground cardamom
1/2 tsp flour
1/2 tsp corn starch

Strain the garbanzo beans and put into a food processors with the rest of the ingredients. Pulse the ingredients until everything comes together. It should look like bread crumbs. Don’t over blend or you’ll make humus. Heat fryer to 350 form falafel into balls or patties and fry in batches until golden brown then drain on paper towels. If you find that your falafel isn’t cooked through you can finish them in the 350 oven for about 10 minutes.

Yogurt Sauce
1 TBS Lemon Zest
Juice from 1 Lemon
2 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup coarsely chopped parsley
16 oz Greek style yogurt
salt and pepper to taste

Toss everything into a food processor and blend until everything is well incorporated.

Tomato Cucumber Salad
2 Medium sized tomatoes, seeded and diced
1/2 medium sized red onion diced
1 English-style cucumber, diced
1 clove garlic crushed
1/4 cup coarsley chopped parsley
salt and pepper to taste
Juice from 1/2 Lemon
2 TBS Extra virgin olive oil

Mix all the ingredients together and chill until ready to serve.

Next up…energy drinks