Holiday Leftover Gnocchi


Ok, so nothing was really left over. Having had been lucky enough to serve up two Thanksgiving dinners, I was still looking for more. One scoopful of my butternut squash & spinach casserole wasn’t enough, but not having another lucky table of thirteen tonight, I wasn’t about to serve it again. Besides, I, even me, haven’t been craving over-time in the kitchen, so I wanted something quick.

GNOCCHI WITH BUTTERNUT SQUASH & SPINACH

2 Tablespoons Olive OIl
2 Cups Butternut Squash, diced, 1/2″ cube
3/4 Cup Water
2 Cup Baby Spinach Leaves
1Lb (500g) Gnocchi, store bought (I know, but after a weekend of feast creating 75 seconds of cooking can be a very good thing.)
1 Tablespoon Fresh Italian Parsley, finely chopped
1 Sprig Fresh Thyme, stem removed
1 Clove Garlic, finely minced
Salt & Pepper to taste

Peel and cube the squash and add it to a large sauté pan with the 3/4 cups of water.
Over high heat, bring the water to a boil and stir frequently.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
Once the water is gone, add about half of the oil and reduce the heat slightly to medium high.
Add the minced garlic and continue to toss often until the butternut squash is golden and tender.
Add the spinach to the squash and sauté until wilted. Add herbs, tossing to combine.
Add the gnocchi to the boiling water and cook for about 2 minutes or until it begins to float (as per package directions.)
Drain and add to the spinach and squash.
Sprinkle over salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 2-3.

Waste Not.


Have a kid who won’t eat crusts? I do. So instead of having it continuously irritate me, I’ve decided to please both parties.

I was inspired after reading this New York Times article about wasted food. Where I’m really happy I live in an area which makes us separate so they can collect our organic waste, I was still annoyed at the pile of crusts at the end of most every lunch.
Determined to end the fight but win the battle, I started cutting the crusts from my Darling’s cucumber sandwiches. This little princess must have thought she’d died and gone to heaven, but dare she know that I was storing the crusts in the freezer and watching them accumulate.

Knowing they wouldn’t go bad in the freezer, like the brown bananas, and vegetable scraps before them, they were ready and on hand for anything I might be ready for like, crumbs, croutons or bread pudding.

Bread pudding that her highness had little trouble polishing off for dessert.

Now I just have to plan for those cherry pits.
For other great grocery money saving tips, check out the article put together over at Everyday Food.

CHERRY CHOCOLATE BREAD PUDDING

4oz Semi Sweet Chocolate, roughly chopped
2 Cups Bread (Crusts), any kind, whole wheat, flax, oat, just be sure it’s at least a day old and chopped into 1/2″ cubes
1 Cup Soy Milk
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla
1 Tablespoon Brandy
3 Tablespoons Sugar
1 Tablespoon Arrowroot Powder, cornstarch will work as a substitute
Pinch of Salt
1 Cup Fresh Cherries, pitted & roughly chopped – dried may be substituted when out of season
3 Tablespoons Cocoa Nibs, very optional but quite delicious

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Cube the bread and set aside in a large bowl.
Melt chocolate in a heat proof bowl over a pan of simmering water (or in a double boiler), stirring occasionally until smooth.
Measure milk in a pourable measuring cup.
Add the vanilla, brandy, sugar, salt and arrowroot powder, stirring well to incorporate and dissolve the arrowroot powder.
Pit the cherries, I used the flat side of my chef’s knife to pop the cherry open and the pit little more than a flick from your fingertips.
Roughly chop the cherries, reserving as much of the juice as possible.
Pour the milk mixture over the cubed bread, then add the cherries and their juice along with the cocoa nibs, if using.
Toss well to coat the bread and to soak up the liquid.
Drizzle over the melted chocolate, stirring well to combine.
Pour mixture into a short baking dish or divide between 4 – 1 cup ramekins.
Bake for 15 minutes.

Best served warm and with just about any ice cream you like.

Roasted Vegetable Soup


Who knew that if given the choice, most grown-ups will avoid roasted parsnips and squash if they are served on their own? Made me happy, as I eyed the level of the dish near the end of dinner. I knew where these left over vegetables were going after the Thanksgiving dishes were done.

Funny thing, us people. Sure, presentation is important but so is how we connect with food. Being forced to eat sloppy, bitter, mashed squash as a kid might just hinder the most grown up of grown ups away from rediscovering it through a lifetime of hate. However, have a chilly autumn day and place a warm, satisfying soup in front of that same taster and you just might get an entirely different story.
Continue reading Roasted Vegetable Soup

Grilled Vegetable Panini


It almost seems that all I’ve been doing lately is preparing leftovers. Thankfully everyone typically has abundant left overs. Seeing that I’m usually preparing something, I’m not often without something in my own fridge screaming out not to be forgotten.
With summer starting, I’ve been spending more time outdoors, having many salads and grilled vegetables.
Currently it’s sweet potatoes, peppers, asparagus and mushrooms waiting for rejuvenation, but I’m sure just about any flavourful set of vegetables, grilled or roasted, would be delicious. So, the plan was to take this leftover glory back outside for lunch to combat the almighty burger. I thought serving up summer with grilled sandwiches would be a nice summer escape from the ordinary.

GRILLED VEGETABLE PANINI

2 Cups Leftover Grilled or Roasted Vegetables
1 Medium Onion, Sliced
1/2 Package Medium Firm Tofu
3 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
4 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Vine Ripened Tomato, Sliced
3 Cloves Garlic, Minced
4 Tablespoons Basil Pesto
4 Tablespoons Tampanade
4 Tablespoons Dijon
Salt & Pepper to Taste
4 Large Panini Buns

Heat a large sautée pan and add 2 tablespoons of the oil.
Peel and slice the onion the sauté until softened. (About 5 minutes.)
Cut the tofu into 1/4″ slices, lay flat and drizzle over the soy sauce.
Mince the garlic, slice the tomato and add that and the grilled vegetables to the onion, just to warm through.
Preheat the grill to medium.
Slice the panini buns lengthwise and add your desired condiments to each.
Top each with equal amounts of the heated, grilled vegetables and slices of tofu.
Lightly brush the remaining olive oil on the outside crusts of the buns.
Reduce the grill heat to low.
Lay the sandwiches in a row on the grill and weigh them down with a clean cookie sheet toped with cans, rocks or bricks – whatever is clean and handy to give them a good squish.
Allow the sandwiches to toast for about 3 – 4 minutes, checking regularly to avoid burning.
Brush oil, flip and repeat on the other side for another few minutes until the outside is lightly toasted with grill marks.

*Note: If you eat it, during the sandwich construction, thinly sliced smoked gouda or chèvre would make wonderful substitutions for the tofu.

Everyone’s Favourite Banana Cake


In honor of Mother’s Day it’s all about all things sweet.

… and not to mention comforting. With banana cake here’s certainly both.

Call it banana bread or call it cake, I don’t know any mom who hasn’t cut out a slice after the need has arisen to use up some over ripened bananas.

So perfect for a Mother’s Day luncheon, especially if your Mother in Law happens to be vegan, as is mine.

There is certainly no reason to deprive any woman on her big day!

As most moms will tell you this is the best way of using up those bananas. In our house we’re pretty particular over the colour yellow so once bananas are streaked with brown they’re destined for the freezer where they keep wonderfully until something delicious is ready for them.

Happy Mother’s Day to all!

EGGLESS BANANA CAKE

3 Ripe Bananas
1/4 Cup Vegetable Oil
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar, packed
1 teaspoon Salt
Replacer equal to one egg (+ water to package direction)
1 teaspoon Vanilla
1 1/2 Cup Soft Whole Wheat Flour
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 Cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate Pieces
1/2 Cup Broken, Toasted Pecans (optional)

Method

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

In a large mixer, cream the bananas with the oil, sugar and vanilla.

Prepare the egg replacer as to the package directions and add it and the salt to the banana mixture.

Once well combined, add the baking powder and soda, followed by the flour, adding it in batches.

Stir in chocolate pieces and nuts, if using.

Oil and dust a 8″ round pan with flour. Pour in the batter and bake on the centre rack for about 40 -45 minutes.

Check bounce at the centre of the cake or insert and remove a toothpick. The cake is moist but it should come out fairly clean.

Allow to cool slightly and dust with confectioners sugar.

This recipe will also make a great loaf (55 – 65 minutes), 12 muffins(18-20 minutes) or 24 mini muffins (about 13 – 15 minutes).