Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A Perfect Match: Lemon-Thyme Whipped Ricotta Dip with Summer Veggies

We’re all busy…always on the go, never having enough time in the day to get it all done. But let’s be honest. Each of us has our complete an utter, just-for-the-heck-of-it, total time wasters that we enjoy. And we should.

Mine happens to be watching the “Bachelor” and the “Bachelorette”. Nothing at all productive comes out of watching this show. But week after week, my hubby and I are glued to the television, anticipating what will come next, anxious to see who will receive “the final rose”.

Thankfully we have a few friends that are brave enough to admit that they too waste a couple of hours of their lives each Monday night watching this show. Over the course of time, we’ve each tiptoed out of the “reality show closet” to confess that we are also Bachelorette and Bachelor fans. Now that we've admitted our obsession, we get together each season to watch the finale.

This past Monday happened to be our turn to host the Bachelorette “The Final Rose” watching party. I made this Lemon-Thyme Whipped Ricotta Dip as one of the apps for the eve. Blending fresh herbs, lemon juice and lemon zest with ricotta results in a light, airy, and ultra healthy dip.

With a dip this smooth and sexy, you might just be tempted to leave your basic boring mayo-based dip forever!

Question: What complete and utter time-waster do you enjoy?
until next time...
Lemon-Thyme Whipped Ricotta Dip (adapted from Eating Well Magazine, July 2014 issue)

  • 15 ounce container part-skim ricotta
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh thyme (I used lemon thyme from my garden)
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh chives, snipped (also from my garden)
  • 2 tsp. freshly grated lemon zest
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
Cooking Directions
  1. Combine ricotta, thyme, chives, lemon juice and zest, salt and pepper in food processor, pulsing about 1 minute.
  2. Transfer to a serving bowl, smooth top with back of a spoon. Drizzle oil and garnish with thyme.
  3. Serve with fresh, local (preferably organic) vegetables that are in season. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Dreamy Creamy Peach Pops

It’s summer. It’s hot. It’s a perfect time for frozen pops!

This past week, the Cowie Clan enjoyed visiting family on the sunny coast of South Carolina. During our stay, we packed in lots of good times. 

We took several bike rides on the paths that wind through the Southern scenery; 
we walked on the beach in search of seashells 
and we took a boat ride through the inter-coastal waters in search of dolphin and other sea creatures. 

We checked out a couple of local eateries in the area, 
Java Burrito - LOVE!
but mostly we enjoyed hanging out at home, barbecuing and cooking our own creations.

For dessert one of the evenings I made fruit popsicles using fresh local peaches. Most popsicles found in the market are not worth buying, let alone eating, loaded with artificial colors and sugar (and by that I mean high-fructose corn syrup). These Creamy Dreamy Peach Pops are made with real fruit, fruit juice, yogurt and milk making them a nutritious and refreshing dessert or snack.

The Peach Pops are layered goodness- one layer is sweet and citrusy with the addition of orange juice, the other tangy and creamy with the addition of almond milk and Greek yogurt.  I used home-made vanilla extract in the creamy layer to go along with this month’s “Spirited” Recipe Redux theme. Vanilla extract is super simple to make and gets better with age (recipe here). 

For more healthy pop options, check out the June 2014 issue of Cooking Light. I'm wanna try the Cucumber-Chili-Lime Ice Pops using a few cukes from my garden!
until next time...

Dreamy Creamy Peach Pops

  • 2 cups Peaches
  • 1/2 cup Orange Juice
  • 1 cup Almond Milk (or any type milk)
  • 3 ounces Plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
Cooking Directions
  1. Peel and chop peaches.
  2. Blend together 2/3 cup peaches and orange juice. Fill popsicle molds halfway and freeze for at least an hour. For a fun effect, tilt mold sideways while freezing.
  3. Blend together remaining peaches, yogurt, milk and vanilla extract. Fill the pop molds with the milk mixture. Insert the sticks. Freeze until solid, about 5 hours.
  4. Remove from freezer, let stand at room temperature for 5 minutes before removing from molds.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Kitchen Sink Soba Stir-Fry {a Recipe Redux}

The Cowie Clan likes stir-fry…a lot. Here are reasons I personally like stir-fry:
  1. Its quick!  It takes no time at all to prepare, especially when serving with soba or udon noodles.
  2. It’s healthy! I can throw in just about anything and the family gobbles it up, assuring that  we’re getting in several servings of vegetables in one meal.
  3. It’s sneaky! It’s a great way to “hide” some less favorite vegetables (turnips were in this stir fry but don’t you dare tell my kids, or my hubby).
  4. It’s local! It is a great way to use some of the local vegetables that we get from the farmer’s market or our CSA.
  5. It’s versatile! It allows for many variations depending on what I have on hand.
  6. It’s happy! Nothing’s better than hearing the compliments on how good it tastes.

This month’s Recipe Redux Challenge asks members to use edible flowers in their cooking creations. There are soooo many ways one could go with this challenge. So many. And believe me, I contemplated many different options. I ended up deciding to make a savory dish using garlic flowers, better known as garlic scapes, as my edible flower element.

I grow garlic in my garden every year, partly because it is so easy, but also because it seems to keep the pests away (and vampires I suppose). About this time of year, planted garlic bulbs send out a little shoot with a “flower” at the end, the garlic scape. Cutting the garlic scape is a win-win: the scape is edible, resembling somewhat of a cross between garlic and a chive. And apparently it helps the plant too: cutting back the scapes helps send nutrients down to the garlic bulb, producing an even bigger end product.

If you don’t have garlic scapes available, no problemo- just use fresh garlic and/or chives instead. Remember, this type of recipe is quite forgiving and versatile. Just about any vegetable can be chopped up and thrown in and generate the same fab results. And if tofu doesn’t work for you, try adding cooked cubes of chicken breast, pork, or beef instead. The only part of the recipe that I would suggest remain constant is the sauce, otherwise throw in everything but the kitchen sink!

Kitchen Sink Soba Stir-Fry (Recipe inspired by Kitchen Sink Soba in July 2014 issue of Food & Wine)
1 cup orange juice
2 Tbsp lime juice
3 Tbsp. soy sauce (we used Ozark Forest Shiitake Mushroom Soy Sauce)
2 Tbsp. sesame oil
1 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar
1 tsp. sugar
12 ounces dried soba
1 package extra-firm tofu, drained, water pressed out and cubed
3 Tbsp. oil (I used half coconut oil, half grapeseed oil)
½ cup garlic scapes, finely chopped (if you don’t have scapes, use fresh garlic and/or chives)
½ cup broccoli, cut into small florets (ours from Green BEAN delivery)
2 carrots, cut into small pieces (ours from Green BEAN delivery)
2 Tbsp fresh ginger, finely minced (also from Green BEAN delivery)
2 large turnips, peeled and cut into matchsticks (ours from Kenny Duzan’s Farm, Columbia, MO via Local Chef StL)
1 bunch Swiss chard, stems removed, rough chopped (ours from Local Chef CSA)
2 Tbsp. black sesame seeds

1. In a saucepan, simmer the orange juice until reduced to a syrupy consistency, about 15 minutes. Whisk in lime juice, soy sauce, sesame oil, vinegar and sugar.
2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil, add soba noodles and cook to al dente, about 4 minutes.  Drain and rinse in cold water.
3. Transfer noodles to a large bowl, add ½ of the sauce. Add the tofu to the remaining sauce.
4. In a wok or large skillet, heat oil. Add garlic scapes, broccoli, carrots and ginger and stir-fry until vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. Add chard and cook until wilted about 2 more minutes.
5. Add vegetables to the bowl with the soba, top with tofu and black sesame seeds.

until next time...
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