Roasted Broccoli Crostini with Sun-Dried Tomato Hummus

Roasted broccoli crostini with sun-dried tomato hummus - cookieandkate.com

Raise your hand if you need a vacation (me-me-me-me-me!). You, too, huh? I’m working extra hard this week so I can kick back as much as possible next week. My dad is fulfilling his life-long dream of visiting some national parks in the northwest and I’m meeting him at Yosemite! I don’t know what to expect, exactly, but I cannot wait to immerse myself in otherworldly beauty.

broccoli crostini hummus ingredients

My original concept for this crostini was to make whipped sun-dried tomato feta, but it was crazy salty. Goat cheese didn’t do, either, so I finally landed on hummus, which was just right. Bonus? It’s vegan, which is especially great if you’re serving a diverse crowd, and you might end up with extra hummus for snacking or spreading on sandwiches.

I’ll be the first to point out that crostini is typically made with smaller pieces of toast (like, baguette-sized), but the best bread I could find was a big loaf, so you’re looking at some pretty hefty crostini that would make an easy dinner with a side green salad.

Do whatever you’d like with this recipe—maybe you just want the hummus, maybe you want to turn it into a sandwich, maybe you’re in a hurry and want to substitute store-bought roasted garlic hummus instead. It’s all good!

Continue to the recipe…

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Spring Pea and Asparagus Risotto

Simple springtime risotto, minimal stirring required! - cookieandkate.com

Good morning! I’m feeling a little blinky after the three-day weekend, how about you? Like, today feels like Monday but it’s really Tuesday. Blink. Why is my to-do list so long? Blink. Blink. Need more coffee.

English peas

Blink. This risotto has been on my list since I figured out how to make baked brown rice risotto last fall. Risotto made with brown rice takes almost twice as long to cook (fact), but my method of baking it in a Dutch oven and stirring it for just a few minutes at the end seriously cuts down on effort.

For this springtime take on risotto, I kept it simple and steamed the peas in the pot during the last ten minutes of baking. I opted to roast the asparagus while the pot is in the oven, since roasted asparagus tastes best.

It all comes together painlessly and leaves plenty of time to clean up and sip some leftover white wine while the risotto bakes in the oven. Let me know how you like it!

Continue to the recipe…

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A New Approach for Broccoli

Super Tender Broccoli-3

When I was 11 years old my parents sent me to boarding school. It actually wasn’t as bad as it sounded. In many ways it was a big adventure to make new friends and be out in the world on my own.

I learned some big lessons that year.

But the thing that really stuck with me was how amazing my mum’s cooking was. And just how bad boarding school food could be.

It’s easy to trace my fear of over-cooked vegetables back to that time. I distinctly remember beans and broccoli always having that dull army green thing going on. Ick

And the texture. Always of mush.

So it’s not surprising that I grew up to be a fan of ‘al dente’ crunch in my vegetables.

But recently I’ve had a change of heart.

Especially with my broccoli.

It all happened, as the best cooking discoveries tend to happen… by accident.

I was ‘steam-frying‘ a pot of broccoli to have with my poached eggs one morning and got distracted with Fergal. Next thing I knew my broccoli had nothing resembling any crunch left.

But here’s the thing…

I LOVED my super tender broccoli ‘mistake’. The flavour was more subdued and it just melted away in my mouth. I couldn’t wait to have more.

Moral to this tale?

Try cooking your broccoli a little longer. You might be surprised how delicious and interesting good old ‘broc’ can be…

Super Tender Broccoli

I love this broccoli with a poached egg and some home made mayo for breakkie. But lately, I’ve found myself doubling up for more super tender ‘broc’ with sardines or tuna and lashings of lemon juice for lunch or a simple supper.

enough for: 2
takes: 15 minutes
1 bunch broccoli, chopped
2-4 eggs
3 tablespoons white vinegar
mayo to serve

1. Place a medium saucepan on a medium high heat. Add a drizzle of oil, the chopped broccoli and a big splash of water.

2. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring every 3-4 minutes and adding more water if it starts to burn.

3. Meanwhile, bring a small pot of water to the boil for the eggs. Add vinegar then break in your eggs. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and allow the eggs to gently bubble for about 3 minutes or until they feel soft and pillowy to your finger. (I set a timer otherwise I forget them!)

4. When the broccoli is no longer crunchy, season generously with sea salt and pepper.

5. To serve, divide broccoli between two plates and top with poached eggs and mayo.

Variations

vegan – skip the eggs and serve broccoli with a big dollop of hummus.

different protein – i love sardines, tuna or salmon instead of the egg. Its also lovely with shaved parmesan or a sharp goats cheese. Great with grilled steaks or pork chops.

side dish – skip the egg and mayo and serve broccoli with a splash of lemon juice anywhere you’d normally serve a green salad.

different veg – try asparagus, kale, cabbage, chard (silverbeet), spinach or broccolini.

Video version of the recipe

What about you?

Got a fave way of cooking broccoli? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below…

Big love,
Jules x

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Basil Pesto Vinaigrette

This simple basil pesto vinaigrette pairs marvelously with green salads and bright summer flavors! cookieandkate.com

This post is brought to you by DeLallo Foods.

Summer is close. Can you feel it? I think it’s hiding just beyond the gray clouds that have been dampening my spirits for days. Go away, clouds! I’m ready for sunshine and long days by the pool. Margaritas and late walks with Cookie. Potlucks full of fresh salads.

Since I often pull up my own salad archives to find a simple recipe and then kick myself for making my salads so involved, I thought I’d share a simple, summery vinaigrette today. It’s inspired by classic basil pesto (basil, pine nuts, olive oil, garlic and lemon) and comes together in just a few minutes in your food processor. I typed up a list of mix-and-match ingredients that should go well with it, too. It’s a build-your-own summer salad extravaganza!

basil pesto vinaigrette ingredients

I’m inevitably in a hurry when I make salads for potlucks and girls’ nights, so I’m pretty excited about a new-to-me option offered by DeLallo Foods. They are my favorite source of sun-dried tomatoes, marinated artichokes and olives, not to mention whole wheat pasta. DeLallo packages up salad-sized portions of themed complementary flavors called SaladSavors, so you can just combine them with fresh greens and a dressing of your choice. Boom! Salad’s ready.

I threw together the salad you see here in about five minutes flat, thanks to DeLallo’s SaladSavors in Sharp Asiago. I say thumbs-up to making salads easy and eating more greens!

Continue to the recipe…

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Spinach Artichoke Enchiladas

Hearty spinach artichoke enchiladas with a simple homemade red sauce! - cookieandkate.com

I’m on a spinach and artichoke kick. I blame the new bar in town that offers an exceptionally tasty spinach-artichoke dip. Tessa and I order it almost every time we meet for happy hour and I daydream about it in between our weekly sessions. It’s more spinach-y than cheesy (how do they pack so much spinach in there?) and has passed for dinner more than once. I can’t get enough of the combination and Tessa can’t either, apparently!

spinach-artichoke enchiladas ingredients

I caught a mention of spinach-artichoke enchiladas on a menu in Austin and didn’t get a chance to try them, so here we are with my homemade version. I based them off memories of the enchiladas my mom makes at home. She is not one to change it up, so her enchiladas consistently feature green chilis, sour cream, flour tortillas and store-bought red sauce. Oh and cheese on top, of course.

I made sure to incorporate all of the above into these lightened-up vegetarian enchiladas, but took it upon myself to create a healthier from-scratch red sauce. I tried spice-based sauce first, followed by tomato-based sauce and finally settled somewhere in between. My recipe is made with common dried spices, tomato paste for some umami-rich tomato flavor, vegetable broth as base and flour to thicken it up.

Continue to the recipe…

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The Secret to Using that Ingredient You’ve Been Procrastinating About…

Rainbow Veg

You know that guilty feeling you get when you uncover an ingredient that’s on its last legs?

Well a few weeks ago I had a case of it. Big time.

The ingredient in question was a bunch of bok choy (why is it always a vegetable?).

For almost a week, every time I’d see it lurking in the crisper drawer, I’d think ‘Man, I really need to use that bok choy’.

And promptly forget about it.

Then one day I noticed the outer leaves were starting to turn yellow. Which made me feel guilty enough to take my sorry-looking bok choy out of the fridge.

With dinner already organized, I couldn’t think of a way to use the bok choy then. So I decided to ‘prep it’ so my future self would be able to find it a home before the yellow took over…

It only took a few minutes to wash, discard the incriminating yellowish leaves and finely chop the rest. But the best part? I instantly felt better.

Then I popped my prepped bok choy in the most visible place in the fridge. Done.

And you know what?

The next day I used my bok choy with some canned tuna in a quick salad for lunch. It was delicious, fresh and crunchy. A happy end to the story.

So what is the secret to using that ingredient you’ve been procrastinating about?

There are two basic steps…

1. Prep your ingredient
This can be as simple as washing and chopping a bunch of bok choy. Or more complicated like soaking and cooking a pot of beans. The key is to get your ingredient to a state where it’s ready to be used with minimal effort.

Chefs call this ‘mise en place’. It’s critical for enabling a restaurant to get your meal on the table ASAP.

Of course, this chef ‘trick’ is something that we home cooks can really benefit from as well. Especially when we come home from a long hard day and need to get something delicious and nutritious on the table right when we have no energy left.

2. Make it visible
You can’t ‘decide’ to use an ingredient if you’re not thinking about it. And if you’re anything like me, your probably not going to remember its there unless it’s staring you in the face.

It’s a simple idea but I can’t tell you how much it’s helped me avoid waste!

Now I Have a Favour

I’m going to be going much deeper into all my favourite ways of prepping ingredients so they’re easy to use in my upcoming online cooking class, ‘The Organized Cook’. But before I release the program I want to make sure I have everything covered.

I’d really love to get your input so I’ve created a super quick survey below. It will only take a minute or so and I’d really appreciate your help!

____________

Rainbow Veg

This is really more of an idea than an actual recipe. The possibilities are endless not only for the types of veg you use but how you incorporate them into your cooking. This is without a doubt the number one habit I’ve developed which has helped me eat more veg across all my meals, especially breakfast and lunch.

enough for: 2
takes: 10 minutes
1 carrot, peeled
1 beetroot, scrubbed and peeled
1/4 cauliflower

1. Grate veg using your food processor or a box grater. Toss together.

2. Use as per one of the suggestions below or store in an airtight container in the fridge.

Usage Suggestions

breakfast – serve with poached egg or two and a good dollop of homemade mayo (one of my all time favourite breakkies).

side salad – toss in a little lemon juice and olive oil and season generously. Lovely with BBQ or pan fried fish or chicken.

quick n’ easy lunch – toss in a drained can of tuna, salmon or sardines and serve with lashings of lemon juice.

another lunch salad – make a quick dressing of 1 part vinegar and 2 parts olive oil. Toss in the grated veg and crumble over some marinated or regular feta. Finish with toasted almonds, hazelnuts or pine nuts.

rice / couscous alternative – serve grated raw veg as an alternative to steamed rice or couscous. I just serve my hot curry or Tajine on a bed of the cold raw veg and enjoy the temperature and textural contrast.

Variations

different veg – also good with broccoli but for some reason grated broccoli goes slimy after a couple of days so I only make enough to eat in the next 24hours if I’m using broc. Zucchini or other summer squash are brilliant as is fennel.

don’t grate – asparagus unless you want asparagus soup!

hand chopped veg – great with capsicum (bell peppers), snow peas, sugarsnap peas, green beans, bok choy, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, asparagus.

herby – toss in fresh herbs such as parsley, basil, mint or coriander (cilantro).

Big love,
Jules x

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Frozen Blueberry Margaritas

Frozen blueberry margaritas made with all natural ingredients! - cookieandkate.com

Spring weather comes on with a vengeance in central Oklahoma, where I grew up. I miss it. I miss the way the energy crackles in the air as the warm, southern winds crash into the cooler winds from the north. I miss the eerily still, humid mornings that prickle the back of my neck and tell me something isn’t quite right. Inevitably, on those days, the wind will pick up and my hair will turn into a million little whips again, all flailing in different directions.

Sometimes the clouds turn black, the air goes green and the tornado sirens start wailing. Spring in Oklahoma is rarely boring, oftentimes terrifying and mostly exhilarating.

blueberry margaritas preparation

Kansas City has been covered up by gray clouds for days. Days upon days upon days, with a few hours of sunshine and some rain here and there. I can’t recall a more dreary, boring spring. I want to poke the clouds and shout, “Do something!” We caught some much-needed sunshine yesterday afternoon and we’re supposed to get more this afternoon, before the sky goes gray again. Gray for days, I tell you.

I took advantage of the sunshine yesterday to bring you some refreshing blueberry margaritas, which would be just perfect for storm sipping. They’re modeled after the blueberry margaritas at The Mont in Norman, Oklahoma, which is an institution. My grandmother went there in college and I did, too!

Continue to the recipe…

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12 Affordable Meatless Meals

Find a collection of affordable vegetarian recipes at cookieandkate.com!

Good morning! I thought it would be fine to highlight some of the more affordable recipes on my blog today. The reality is vegetarian cooking is generally inexpensive, since we’re typically using beans and eggs for protein. I went through the archives and marked the least expensive meals with my new “budget-friendly” category, which you can access here or at any time by hovering over ALL RECIPES, then mousing down to “EVERYDAY” and clicking “Budget friendly”.

I thought I’d share a few tips on saving money without sacrificing quality while we’re at it. In-season vegetables are generally your best bets since they require less resources to grow under optimal conditions, so check my monthly seasonal produce guides to find out what’s in season now! Organic produce is typically more expensive. You can spend wisely by choosing organic produce for the items on the dirty dozen list and often opt for conventional if they’re on the clean fifteen list. That’s generally how I shop.

Cooking well-balanced meals from scratch with whole grains is a great way to save money and keep your belly full until the next meal. Whole grains offer more nutritional bang for your buck—they offer more fiber, nutrients and healthy fats than processed grains do. Some of my favorites include whole grain pasta, brown rice and farro. Gluten-free, grain-like options include quinoa, millet (millet is downright cheap, by the way) and sorghum. Beans and lentils are great additions as well, and they’re especially affordable if you cook them from scratch (although canned beans are undeniably convenient and still inexpensive).

In going through my recipes, I noticed that the biggest culprits for increasing cost per recipe included fresh herbs other than cilantro and parsley (growing an herb garden is a great way to save $$$) and vegetable broth (which can be made from scratch or just replaced with water, albeit with less flavor).

Other culprits included extra-virgin olive oil, which I use liberally for its incredible health benefits. It’s my go-to cooking oil (quality extra-virgin olive oil can actually be heated up to 425 degrees Fahrenheit before it starts breaking down). Big bottles of California Olive Ranch, Trader Joe’s 100% Greek Kalamata and organic olive oil purchased on sale are my top picks. Honey and maple syrup are pricy and there’s not much to be done about it, although I do buy the biggest jars available to save per ounce.

Alright, I think that just about covers my tips. What are yours?!

Continue to the recipe…

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Vegan Chipotle Carrot Queso

Chipotle carrot vegan queso - cookieandkate.com

Yeah, I would be skeptical of this cheese-less queso if I were you. Queso literally means “cheese” in Spanish, so this dip is a dairy-free, cheese-like fraud—a fraud that this dairy-eating queso lover thoroughly enjoys. That counts for something, right?

vegan queso ingredients

I was highly skeptical of vegan queso until Ali convinced me to give Füd’s vegan nachos a chance. She said they’re the best nachos in town, vegan or not, so I agreed to meet her there for lunch. While I would still argue that the world’s best nachos feature golden, bubbly, baked cheese (and are cooked to order at The Library Bar and Grill in Norman, Oklahoma), Füd’s nachos were pretty good.

They were good enough that I happily polished off my half of our heaping plate of nachos and left with a belly full of chips and “cheese,” like I would if presented with real cheese nachos, except this time I didn’t need a nap afterward. Bonus point for dairy-free queso.

Continue to the recipe…

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Genetically Modified Food: Should You Be Afraid?

Fish & Fennel

A few months ago I was really excited about discovering frozen edamame (soy beans) in my local supermarket. So I wrote a blog post about my new love.

As you do.

What really surprised me was the amount of people leaving comments and emails warning that edamame were soy beans which are GM. Something I hadn’t even thought of.

Anyway after doing some investigation, (aka reading the label!) I realised my edamame we were from China. So probably were GM. So I decided to stop buying them and made a mental note to write a followup blog post about my thoughts on genetic modification of food…

So here we are!

My Experience with GM Foods

Back when I was studying Food Science in the 90s, ‘Biotechnology’ was a relatively new field. I found it fascinating and elected to take a subject on Food Biotechnology in my final year of university.

So what did I learn?

Firstly that there’s potential for genetic modification to be helpful.

For example, enabling bacteria to produce the ‘rennet’ required for some cheese making rather than getting it from the traditional source of calves stomachs.

But there was also a lot of potential for harm.

To my mind there are 3 main aspects to this…

1. The Testing.
When we go inserting genetic material from one species into another, we’re doing something that cannot happen in nature. The effects can be difficult to predict.

So rigorous testing is really critical to ensuring no unwanted side effects. Which is relatively easy in a tank of bacteria but more difficult when we’re talking about releasing or even trialling GM crops out in nature.

2. The Politics.
The best way to explain this is with an example. Lets look at the humble soy bean.

The genetic manipulation with soy was to make soybeans resistant to a particular herbicide, namely Round-Up.

The ‘benefit’ here is that weeds can easily be controlled in a soy crop by spraying with said herbicide.

Then farmers have to buy their seeds from the same company that sells them the Round-Up.

And they can’t ‘save’ the seeds to use for next years crop. They must buy fresh seeds (and herbicide) every year from the one company and no one else. Sounds like a brilliant marketing strategy to me.

3. Biodiversity.
If everyone is growing genetically identical crops, regardless of whether they’re genetically modified or not, all our proverbial eggs are in the one basket.

Seems a risky move to me.

So Am I Afraid of GM Foods?

Afraid? No. Wary? yes. Pro-labelling? Absolutely.

And do I personally choose to eat GM foods? Yes and No. It depends.

I’m happy to eat parmesan made with GM rennet but ‘Round-Up-Ready Soybeans?’ No thank you Monsanto. I’d rather have frozen Australian broad beans.

What About You?

How do you feel about GM foods?
I’d love to hear in the comments below.

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Double Fennel Fish

I have a goal to eat fish at least once a week for dinner this year. And while my Irishman is still pretty fish-phobic, I’ve really been enjoying the change. This ‘double fennel’ dish with fennel seeds as a crust and then fresh fennel as a salad has been one of my favourites this year. I should mention the idea to grind fennel seeds and use them on fish came from a David Tanis recipe I made for the Jules & David Project.

enough for: 2
takes: 15 minutes
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
450g (1lb) fish fillets
2 tablespoons lemon juice + 1 lemon, halved
1 large or 2 small fennel bulbs
1 bunch flat leaf parsley, leaves picked

1. Grind fennel seeds with a spice or coffee grinder. Or bash with a mortar and pestle. Rub fish with a little oil on both sides and sprinkle over ground fennel and lots of sea salt and pepper.

2. Heat a frying pan large enough to hold the fish in a single layer on a medium high heat. Cook fish for 3-4 minutes on each side or until just cooked through and golden on the outsides.

3. While the fish is cooking combine 2 tablespoons lemon juice in a salad bowl with 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil. Season.

4. Trim and discard fennel stalks then finely slice the bulbs using a mandoline or sharp knife. Toss sliced fennel and parsley leaves in the dressing.

5. Serve fish hot with the fennel salad and half a lemon on the side.

Variations

carnivore – replace fish with pork chops or chicken thigh fillets and adjust the cooking time as needed.

vegetarian – serve fennel salad with marinated feta and roast almonds.

vegan – toss cooked chickpeas or lentils in with the salad and serve with a tahini sauce drizzled over (2 tablespoons each tahini, lemon juice, olive oil and water).

more veg – toss any crunchy salad veg in such as red capsicum (bell peppers), grated carrot, grated beets, sliced snow peas.

carb lovers / more substantial – toss torn rustic sourdough in with the salad or serve with roast or pan fried potatoes or home made fries.

no fennel seeds – just skip it or try coriander or cumin seeds instead. Or serve cooked fish with sumac sprinkled over.

no fennel – my fave alternative is white cabbage or Brussels sprouts but you could use finely sliced snow peas or shaved zucchini.

And if you’re following the Jules & David Project, the latest installment is called menu fifteen: THE BEAN SOUP LUNCH

Big love,
Jules x

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