Saturday, July 26, 2008

Roasted Squash Fettucini

Pasta dishes are so easy that most of the time I don't even post them anymore. How many different ways can I say "Saute veggies, toss with pasta and cheese" and have you believe that it really doesn't taste exactly the same every time? Can I get away with it one more time? Pretty please?

Last night, the trick was in the herbs. The fresh basil and oregano, to be exact. Sometimes, I think I need to get basil-scented air filters for my house, because I just LOVE the way it smells. After I pick some leaves, I smell my hands the whole way to the house. The oregano smells awesome too, but there's just something about fresh basil that makes my heart go pitter-patter.

The veggies were good - basically, a mish-mosh of things I had leftover in my fridge and a couple of things I pulled out of the garden.
But the basil...the basil has my heart.

Roasted Squash Fetucini

1/2 eggplant, cut in 1" cubes
2 large zucchini, cut in 1" cubes
1 small yellow squash, cut in 1" cubes
4 roma tomatoes, halved
1/2 of a large yellow onion, cut in fairly large pieces
1 small red bell pepper, cut in fairly large pieces
3 Tbsp olive oil
3 cloves minced garlic
sprinkling of kosher salt
a few turns of freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, chiffonade if you feel fancy, just chop them up if you don't
3?? Tbsp chopped fresh oregano
2 Tbsp butter or margerine*
1/4 cup half and half
1/2 cup parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350F.
Toss the vegetables with the olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Spread out on a baking sheet and bake for about 30 minutes, turning veggies once halfway through.

Cook your fettucini. Drain and return to the pan. While the pasta is still hot - add the butter, half and half, and cheese. Stir (I tossed everything around with a pair of tongs) until butter is melted. Add the veggies, toss around til it's all mixed up and serve - sprinkled with more cheese if you're half the cheese-fiend that I am.

I haven't been grocery shopping since the family left last Sunday, so I was just using up lots of leftover stuff. As a result...
* I didn't have any butter or margerine left -but I did have a tub of country crock, so that's what I used. It tasted just fine...but doesn't cheese cover all ills?

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Blueberry Streusel-ish Cake

We drove down to a local place that sells blueberries today. The original plan was to do the U-Pick option, but it got hot earlier than we planned. So we just grabbed a couple of pints out of their refrigerator, drank some soda from their old-fashioned soda machine (glass bottles!) and headed home.

Then, I decided that it wasn't enough to toss a few in my mouth every couple of minutes and let the juicy sweetness pop in my mouth. It wouldn't be enough to have them on my breakfast cereal. Maybe it would be enough if I made a blueberry cake of some kind for dessert.

I looked up a bunch of recipes online, and, in my usual fashion, combined about 5 to make this (I don't have corn syrup, which my favorite candidate called for; I wanted to use either yogurt or sour cream...etc, etc).

The streusal recipe I found sounded interesting - much wetter than anything I've used before. "Unusual" = "Must Make Immediately". It was very sweet rich, but the cake ended up being not too sweet and very light, so they actually went together very well.

Oh, and then I went to get my flour and discovered that the weekend's festivities used my stockpile (we're talking a brand new 5 pound bag, here) of all-purpose. So i used self-rising, left out the baking powder I had planned on and halved the baking soda.

Blueberry Streusel-ish Cake

Batter:1/2 cup margerine
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup fat free sour cream
2 cups self-rising flour, sifted
1 tsp baking soda

1 cup blueberries
1 Tbsp sugar

6 Tbsp (3/4 stick) butter or margerine
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1 cup chopped walnuts

Heat the oven to 350F.

  1. Make the Batter: Cream together butter and sugar; add eggs and vanilla, mix thoroughly. Add sour cream and mix to combine. Add flour and baking soda and mix thoroughly.

  2. Make the Blueberry Batter: In a food Processor, crush blueberries and 1 Tbsp sugar. Transfer to a small bowl and stir in 1/2 cup batter.

  3. Make the Streusel: Melt the margerine in a small bowl in microwave. Add brown sugar and cinnamon and stir. It's going to be very pasty at this point. Stir in walnuts.

  4. Grab a bundt pan and coat it with nonstick spray. Press the streusel evenly around the bottom. Pour 1/2 of the batter on top. Drop the blueberry batter evenly around the top of that layer. Spread the remaining batter on top of that. The blueberry layer showed around the edges of mine, which means I probably didn't do too good of a job halving the batter. Math was never my strongsuit.

  5. Bake for about 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out mostly clean - a few moist crumbs are fine. Immediately invert on a cake plate. You may have to scoop half of the streusel out of the pan and put it back on the cake, but that's ok. Or at least, I think it's ok.

Notes: I think I'd go with a more traditional struesel topping - this was a little too rich for me. The Professor and the teenagers in residence thought it was great, though, so your mileage may vary.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Fried Zucchini

My in-laws are in town for a few days of Fun In The South (they're from That Heathen North). And one of the great things about these visits is all the food. I love to cook and they love to eat. They love to cook and I love to eat. So over the course of a few days, we take turns in the kitchen. Yesterday was their turn.

In addition to their signature Gnocchi with Vodka Sauce (Which has to be eaten to be believed), my father-in-law pounced on the zucchini in my vegetable drawer. A few eggs and some bread crumbs later, we had a side dish.

And all I had to do was eat - which explains the fuzzy picture. It's kinda hard to snap a decent pic when you're stealing pieces of fried goodness out of the frying pan.

Fried Zucchini

Some zucchini
an egg or two, beaten
a pile of seasoned bread crumbs (these were the italian flavor)
canola oil, as needed

Cut the zucchini in half lengthwise, then again.

Dip into egg;
Dredge into bread crumbs;

In a large skillet, heat about an inch of canola oil until it's piping hot. Drop zucchini in - and try to move it as little as possible. Cook for five minutes. Cool on paper towels.

In theory these make a great side dish with pasta and sauce. In practice...they were great appetizers as we opened the wine.