Southern-Style Green Beans

I’m 45 years old and until recently have never really cooked green beans with bacon. I don’t generally think vegetables need meat (or extra fat) added to them, but maybe the years of living in the South have rubbed off on me because here I am adding bacon to my green beans and cooking them until they are super tender. They taste great this way and are a nice variation to the way I usually prepare green beans (toss them into some salted boiling water and cook about 10 minutes until they are crisp-tender).

Southern-Style Green Beans

4 slices bacon, chopped
1 pound fresh green beans, washed and ends trimmed
2 cups water
1 bouillon cube (vegetable or chicken)

Cooked the chopped bacon in a pot until crisp. Remove the bacon, leaving the bacon fat in the pot. Set the bacon aside. Add the green beans, water, and bouillon cube. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and then cook for about 1 hour or until the green beans are very tender. Stir in the reserved bacon and serve.

Shown here:  Southern-Style Green Beans alongside baked chicken and hashbrown casserole.

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Summer Vegetable Tart

Summer Vegetable Tart

This is an easy tart to utilize all those summer vegetables. If you have a small eggplant, that would be a nice addition in the roasted vegetable mixture. A balsamic reduction would be excellent drizzled over the finished tart.

Vegetable Tart

Summer Vegetable Tart

1 sheet puff pastry dough, defrosted
1 large sweet onion, sliced into rings
1 red bell pepper, cored and cut into strips (or rings)
1 large zucchini, ends removed and sliced
8 ounce package mushrooms (I used Baby Bellas), cleaned and sliced
olive oil
2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
1 tablespoon capers
handful fresh basil leaves, torn
salt and black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400º F.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the sliced onion, red bell pepper, zucchini, and mushrooms on the baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 10 – 15 minutes until the vegetables are softened. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly.

Line the baking sheet with a fresh sheet of parchment paper. Unfold the puff pastry on a lightly floured surface. Using a rolling pin, gently roll out the puff pastry into a rectangle (try not to get it too thin). Place the puff pastry on the lined baking sheet.

Place the roasted vegetables on the puff pastry, leaving a border. Sprinkle the crumbled goat cheese, capers, and torn basil over the roasted vegetables. Drizzle the tart with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Summer Vegetable Tart (before baking)

Bake for 20 – 25 minutes until the crust is golden. Serve warm.


Zoodles with Peanut Sauce

I bought a spiralizer at a school fundraiser yard sale for $1 and now that it is summer and zucchini is pleniful, it’s a perfect time to use it to make zoodles (zucchini noodles).

I haven’t had much luck with growing zucchini in my garden. This year, I planted some zucchini in a bucket on my deck and so far have only gotten 2 zucchini from it. They were kind of funky-looking, but tasted great as zoodles.

I have worked on perfecting my Peanut Sauce for years and I think I have finally nailed it. This stuff is great on all kinds of noodles (rice noodles, spaghetti, zoodles, etc…) and as a sauce for grilled chicken (think Satay) and Summer Rolls.

The Peanut Sauce recipe includes a paste made from a clove of garlic. This is an excellent tutorial on how to make garlic paste with a knife. This is how I do it:

Zoodles with Peanut Sauce

Special tool needed:  spiralizer

1 tablespoon (or less) of mild-tasting oil (I used canola)
4 medium-sized zucchini, ends trimmed, spiralized
1 carrot, peeled and grated
prepared Peanut Sauce (recipe below)

fresh cilantro
crushed peanuts

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the spiralized zucchini and shredded carrots and cook, tossing often with tongs, until tender (but not mushy). Turn off the heat and add the peanut sauce to the zoodles. Toss to coat. Serve topped with fresh cilantro and crushed peanuts. Can be eaten warm or cold.

Peanut Sauce

1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 clove garlic, minced and made into a paste with the side of the knife’s blade (see tutorial video above)
1 – 2 teaspoons sriracha
juice of 1/2 lime
warm water (about 1/2 cup)

Combine the peanut butter, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, garlic past, sriracha, and lime juice. Add water, a little at a time, until you reach a somewhat thick, but pourable consistency. You want it just so that it coasts the noodles but isn’t too thick or too thin. Refrigerate any leftover sauce.


Pickled Collard Greens

Pickled Collard Greens

I get the most amazing collard greens from my CSA. Sometimes I get an overwhelming amount of amazing collard greens from my CSA. It’s a challenge I gladly accept. I’m always trying to think of interesting ways to prepare them. This morning I put a Boston Butt pork roast in the crockpot with dinner plans for pulled pork sandwiches on homemade Focaccia bread. I was staring into the fridge and the idea of pickling the collards popped into my head. I have pickled mustard greens before and enjoyed using them as a condiment. Why not collards? Y’all, they turned out so good. They were excellent on the pulled pork sandwiches. I kind of wish I had made a double batch.

These sweet and sour collard greens would also make an excellent side dish. Just cook the collards until tender (about 20 minutes longer than stated in the recipe) and serve warm. I could easily drink the pickling/cooking liquid. : )

Pickled Collard Greens

1 large bunch of collard greens
2 cups water
1/2 cup vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Wash and chop the collard greens. I usually remove the center ribs from the leaves before chopping.

In a pot over high heat, bring the water, vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and let simmer for 5 minutes.

Add the chopped collards and cook for 5 (for crunchy collards – these are actually better after a few days in the fridge) to 20 (for use right away as a condiment or side dish) minutes. Let the collards and pickling liquid cool and then transfer to a large Mason jar. Refrigerate at least several hours (a couple of days is even better) before use.


Kale and Posole Soup

Kale and Posole Soup

This is one of my favorite soups. I make it often.  If I happen to have some poblanos in the fridge, I will chop one up and add it to this soup to kick up the spice level a bit.

Kale and Posole Soup

1 tablespoon oil (I use canola mostly)
1 medium onion, chopped
6 medium cloves garlic, minced
8 – 10 cups vegetable broth
1 bunch kale, cleaned, ribs removed, and chopped
1 jalapeno, stem and seeds removed and minced
1 15.5 ounce can hominy, drained
1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes and their juices
1 medium zucchini, diced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
salt and pepper, to taste

Heat the oil in a soup pot. Sauté the onion over medium heat until soft, add the garlic and continue to sauté for another minute. Add remaining ingredients, except the zucchini and cilantro. Bring the soup to a boil on high heat. Once it comes to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes, uncovered. Add the zucchini ands simmer another 5 minutes. Add the cilantro and season the soup to taste with salt and pepper.

Serves 4


Greek Tomato, Cucumber, and Chickpea Breakfast Salad

Greek Cucumber and Chickpea Breakfast Salad

Cooking Light and Saveur are my two favorite cooking magazines. I love Saveur for the beautiful pictures and articles on global cuisine, as well as, the ethnic recipes. Their recipes tend to be a bit more time-consuming and better for special occasions. On the other hand, Cooking Light has easy, healthier, everyday recipes that tend to utilize lots of fruits and veggies. Their recipes are great for day-to-day cooking.

Recently, I found a recipe for Greek Cucumber and Chickpea Breakfast Salad in the June 2015 issue of Cooking Light. I prefer savory foods for breakfast, so this salad was right up my alley.  I adapted it a bit to accommodate the ingredients I had on hand, like fresh grape and yellow cherry tomatoes and cucumbers from my garden and sweet onions and purple bell peppers from my CSA box. The result was delicious! I ate it with a small bowl of vegetable soup and was quite satisfied. You can find the original recipe in Cooking Light here.

Greek Cucumber and Chickpea Breakfast Salad 2

Greek Tomato, Cucumber, and Chickpea Breakfast Salad

1 1/2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of kosher salt
1/2 cup drained canned chickpeas
6 – 8 cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
4 pitted kalamata olives, chopped
1/4 small bell pepper (your choice of color)
1/4 small sweet onion (or to taste)
1 small cucumber, thinly sliced (I used a pickling type cucumber)
2 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese

Combine the first 4 ingredients in a medium bowl, stirring with a fork or whisk. Add chickpeas, tomatoes, olives, bell pepper, and sweet onion; toss to combine. Arrange cucumber slices on a plate or in a bowl and top with the tomato and chickpea mixture. Top with the feta cheese.


Chiang Mai Curry Noodle Soup with Vegetables

Vegetarian Chiang Mai Curry Noodle Soup 2

Earlier this year, I revamped one of my favorite Thai soups to make it vegetarian, as well as acceptable for the low iodine diet I was on at the time. I was super happy with the way the soup turned out. It was delicious! So flavorful.

I replaced the traditional fish sauce with a Umami Sauce I made. I typically use my favorite Madras curry powder in this recipe, but I included a recipe for a Madras-style curry powder at the bottom of the recipe anyway. I have a big collection of spices, but I realize not everyone does, so feel free to replace the Madras curry powder with any store-bought Indian curry powder. For the noodles you can use linguine (or spaghetti) or rice noodles.

Vegetarian Chiang Mai Curry Noodle Soup

I contacted Thai Kitchen via their Facebook page and asked about the type of salt they use in their products. Turns out they do not use iodized salt. This opens a world of possibilities for those on a low iodine diet. The Thai Kitchen red curry paste should not be hard to find. Look in the ethnic section of your grocery store. I actually bought a jar at Target.

TK Red Curry Paste

Chiang Mai Curry Noodle Soup with Vegetables

1/2 lb. linguine, cooked
1 tsp. vegetable oil
1 – 3 tsp. Thai Kitchen red curry paste (to taste)
1 T. Madras curry powder (recipe follows)
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 can (13.5 oz.) unsweetened coconut milk
4 cups  vegetable or chicken stock (unsalted or homemade for LID)
3 tablespoons Umami Sauce
1 tsp. sugar
1/8 head green cabbage, cored and shredded
4 ounces sugar snap peas, strings removed and halved (you can use snow peas instead)
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced (or use the mushrooms left over from making the Umami Sauce)
1/2 to 1 12 ounce (approximately) can baby corn, drained
1 cup fresh spinach, torn
Kosher salt, to taste
fresh cilantro leaves
unsalted peanuts, crushed
limes, cut into wedges

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add shredded cabbage and cook until just tender. Add the red curry paste, curry powder, and cumin and cook, stirring, until fragrant (about 40 seconds).  Whisk in coconut milk and stock and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium, add Umami Sauce and sugar, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.  Stir in sugar snap peas, mushrooms, and baby corn and simmer until all the veggies are tender, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with kosher salt. Stir in torn spinach and take off the heat.

Divide noodles in soup bowls, ladle soup into bowls, and top with fresh cilantro leaves and crushed unsalted peanuts.  Serve with a wedge of lime.

Curry Powder

Quick and Easy Salt-Free Madras Curry Powder

3 tablespoons ground turmeric
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons ground coriander
1 tablespoon ground cardamom
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Combine all of the spices and store in a glass Mason jar.