Oh my gosh, this soup. This soup!
I mentioned the Complete Cook’s County TV Show Cookbook on my new Cookbook Club page last week, but I only recently delved into its meticulous pages to try a recipe. I’d followed Chris Kimball, the creator of America’s Test Kitchen, via his excellent Cooks Illustrated magazines in my mother’s kitchen. However, I was unfamiliar with the Cook’s County recipes until this fabulous book showed up under the tree. (Thanks, Mama THT!)
What to do? Why, try a recipe, of course! Hence, this absolutely unreal minestrone soup.
Friends, as you know, I’m a fan of experimenting with vegetarian and vegan food. (Baking, more baking, pasta dishes, etc. )While I can’t say I’d go vegan for life (being engaged to a semi-carnivore makes that a bit complicated — love you, THT!), I’ve been working on incorporating a vegetarian diet more regularly into my life for the last 6 months or so. (See, this is what happens when you take a “blogging hiatus,” GKG. No one knows about these adventures! she said to herself…)
Sometimes, I kill even myself with these puns.
Hello, lovely GKG readers! After letting my 1st Blogiversary fly by a few weeks ago (eeeeeeeoooops … that’s me, your neighborhood friendly GKG, riding the strugglebus), I’m formally recommitting myself to the blogging world. Readers, I love you all terribly, and I’m now back with a vengeance.
Now, onto the cookery!
What if I told you that a simple, hearty meal could be yours in 30-ish minutes and using only 4 ingredients? You’d be all over that bidness, right? What if I also told you that this dinner creation is as customizable as you can imagine, allowing for creativity, taste preferences, and inventive food adventures to your heart’s content?
If your response is a Howard Dean-style “Yeeeeah!” then you’ve come to the right blog.
It’s officially time for Sherry Petersik and Katie Bower’s Pinterest Challenge! While I’ve been soldiering on with recipes this year in the spirit of their challenges (such as this one, this one, and this one), I can now officially submit mine to the Petersik’s blog paradise. Hurrah! For the official Pinterest Challenge submission, I decided to tackle something that I’d seen repeatedly in the hallowed … pages (?) of the Pin: Flour-free Cauliflower Pizza Crust.
While I’m not vegan, nor am I gluten-free, I like exploring veggie-based meals for both environmental (fewer methane emissions? Woot.) and health (fewer calories + more nutrients? Dietary goodness FTW.) reasons. With more than a few friends and relatives with Celiac’s disease and other gluten struggles, I’ve explored gluten-free baking and cooking with mucho curiosity. And with pictures like this circulating on Pinterest, my interest was officially piqued:
Know what I find totally satisfying, deliciously tasty, and completely delightful?
If I told you it was something healthy, would you believe me? (And that, shockingly, it wasn’t pizza? Or just melted cheese? I know, me neither.)
It’s a veggie burger!
With the advent of fall (yup, still excited about it, and will be until winter comes crawling), I always get in the mood for that caramelized, tender-crisp and buttery flavor of roasted vegetables. While fall specifically tends to make me crave root veggies — roasted sweet potatoes, squashes, parsnips and more — the simple technique of roasting veggies is clutch for any budding chef to master.
Here are the simplest steps for successful veggie roasting:
- Cut or trim veggies into semi-uniform pieces (for even cooking time)
- Coat lightly with salt, pepper and olive oil
- Spread veggies onto a baking sheet, and roast at 425 degrees for 10-30 minutes, or until the veggies have caramelized (browned with natural sugars) and are cooked to your liking.
That’s it! The process brings out so much of each veggie’s natural flavor while infusing them with the earthy olive oil and piquant salt & pepper combo. As Adam Roberts, a.k.a. the Amateur Gourmet, says of his take on Ina Garten’s roasted broccoli, “If parents made this broccoli for their kids, kids wouldn’t hate broccoli. They’d beg for it.”
Veg-roasting is also a killer way to stretch a dollar — pick up one sweet potato & one parsnip, slice & prepare as noted above, and boom. You have more than enough food to create a satisfying side dish for two or more, and for minimal cost. In the spirit of Jessie J, I suppose “it’s not about the money, money, money” — but saving a little never hurts!
A few of my favorite roasted veggie options:
- Asparagus with Tomatoes (seen above): Trim asparagus by holding both ends and “bending” the stalks — they’ll naturally break at the proper point. Toss with cherry or diced tomatoes and olive oil, salt & pepper. Roast as noted above for 10-15 minutes. Serve with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese and a drizzle of lemon juice. Mmm!
- Root Veggies: Slice sweet potatoes, parsnips, rutabaga and red onion into steak fry-size pieces. Coat with olive oil and a drizzle of maple syrup (thanks, Gwyneth! Seriously — what would I do without your book?); roast for 30 mins to 1 hour, or until veggies have caramelized and cooked to your liking.
- Broccoli: For a take on Ina’s heavenly broccoli, coat broccoli florets with olive oil, adding salt & pepper to taste. Roast for 20-25 mins with 4 or 5 peeled garlic cloves. After the broccoli florets are done, toss with parmesan cheese, lemon juice, and toasted pine nuts. Consume mass quantities, coneheads.
Do y’all roast veggies in fall and winter? What are your favorites? How about some meat-and-veggie parings: Which roasted veggies to you like with your protein? Happy eating!