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STOCKING UP! VEGGIE STYLE

I like to think I’m pretty witty with my titles, don’t tell me if I’m not….it would be devastating!
Homemade vegetable stock is on the agenda.
This is a great one to have on hand & freeze for future use.  Remember a few blogs back I did a grilled vegetable antipasto? No? Well…. I did and I said to save all the ends and freeze for stock. Well I am pulling them out of the freezer today. If you want to use “new” veggies you certainly can but I cook enough that I can put together a bag of scraps to save for stock. The beauty of this is add what ever you’ve got, the more the merrier.

WHAT YOU NEED:
A bag of vegetable scraps ie. onions, celery, asparagus, fennel, carrots, lemons, mushrooms
garlic 5 or 6 small cloves ( just cut in 1/2 my unused & threw it in skins and all
6 to 10 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 cups red or white wine
1/2 cup soy sauce
10 pepper corns
2 bay leaves
1/2 bag frozen spinach (it was there…why not I wasn’t going to use the rest)
12 Cups of water (or fill your stock pot up depending on size)

WHAT YOU DO:
Fill your stock pot with water, add the thyme and bring to boil
add in all the ingredients and reduce to simmer.
simmer for 2 hours and let it reduce by a few cups to really concentrate flavors.
red wine makes it a dark amber stock and white will obviously make it lighter.
DON’T add salt there is some in the soy sauce and it is stock so add it later to what ever you decide to make.
Once you have reduced it a little and cooked all the flavor out of the veggies let it stand and cool, hot stock and containers do not mix.
Strain the stock and then strain again through a sieve to make sure it is nice and clear. you can use cheese cloth if you really want to get crazy with it but I find a sieve works perfect. To store put it in freezer safe containers and freeze or mason jars and refrigerate. It will last about 2 weeks in the fridge and at least 2 months in the freezer. I actually did not have any freezer containers left so I had to use what I had.

Uses for the stock:
Soups….
Sauces
mashed potatoes (instead of milk)
stuffing (instead of h2o)
rice YUM!! super flavorful (instead of h2o)

anywhere you want to add flavor , the possibilities are endless

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ART OF THE ARTICHOKE

Stuffing them is an Art! And I could eat them every night. I saw a cooking show last night that put blue cheese in the middle and baked it so it melted and the middle became a dipping pot of cheese and bread crumbs, uh…YUM I will be doing that next time. For this time I am doing the traditional stuffed (according to my household tradition) with a little extra treat in the middle (wait…you’ll see).
WARNING! Do not under any circumstances put the leaves of the artichoke in the garbage disposal! especially 2 entire artichokes worth when you are done eating them. The repair man will think you are crazy and your dinner will end up costing you more then you bargained for (yep..i did it & yep the guy thought I was an idiot and would only talk to my husband after he found out what i did) hahahaha

WHAT YOU NEED:
2 Artichokes (or more if you have more guests. I eat the entire thing but these could be cut in 1/2 and shared)
2 Lemons and their zest
1 Cup + 1/4 cup breadcrumbs  (panko if you’ve got them or homemade is even better. I used panko today)
1 Tbls Capers
1/2 cup minced sweet onion or shallot
1 clove garlic minced
1 small jar marinated artichoke hearts drained (optional but worth it)
3 Tbls butter
oilve oil
fresh parsley & lemon zest for garnish

WHAT YOU DO:
Trim the artichokes: this is a little time consuming but take the time to do it correctly.
remove the stem and a few of the bottom outer leaves (if there are dried up looking ones)
then cut the top off about 1/2 inch I actually use kitchen scissors then trim the sharp tips of each leaf .
turn it upside down and press to loosen the leaves a bit.
In a large stock pot bring 6 cups water to a boil (at this point you can do just a little water and steam them or boil them in a lot of water, they come out the same)
add salt and 1 lemon cut the peel off to avoid it becoming bitter this will add great flavor to them
Put them cut side up or stem down & drizzle with a little olive oil.
They never stay really green even though you put lemon in the water so they do get a little drab looking but you will dress them up
Cover and cook for 35 minutes (this can be done a day ahead if you like)
Once they are cooked let them cool about 30 to 40 min so you can handle them.
Gently pull the artichoke open from the center to expose the pinkish tiny leaves on the inside. You have to remove those and take out the “choke” it is not nice to eat. use a spoon and scrape the “hairs” out trying not to take out the heart.

For the stuffing: Melt the butter in a saute pan and add onion and cook until soft and translucent. Add garlic and cook just of a few min to soften the raw flavor and add the bread crumbs (add fresh herbs if you have them, thyme would be nice).
Squeeze the juice of 1 or 2 lemons into the crumbs and brown. If you notice the stuffing is too wet add more bread crumbs if it is too dry add more lemon & a little olive oil. It should be about the constancy of stuffing for a turkey. It is going to cook and the top will get dryer and crunchy.
Chop the capers and add them at the end of the cooking.
Drain the jar of artichoke hearts and chop them.
Once the choke is removed loosen the leaves and start stuffing, I try to put a little in each leaf and then once you get to the middle here is the TREAT put in some of the chopped artichoke hearts (Tablespoon or so) then fill it with the stuffing.
Bake at 350 for 30 mins until the stuffing is golden and the leaves are starting to brown.
Sprinkle with the parsley and lemon zest to serve. Put a couple dipping sauces on the table if you like. I do a sweet Balsamic vinaigrette and a creamy Aoli

A MASTERPIECE!

VERY INSPIRING BLOGGER AWARD & THE VERSATILE BLOGGER!! WHO? ME? REALLY? WOW!, THANK YOU (Tearing up)

I have to say I was completely surprised and shocked to have someone ( La Tête de Légumes ) bestow upon me not ONE (1) but TWO (2) honors that I am so proud of! This is the like winning an Oscar to someone like me, who carries around a Food Journal and takes notes all day & loves to write about food, my food, my recipes & my ideas on what I think good food is. I woke my husband out of a sound sleep on the couch to tell him when I saw it, He was not quite as thrilled as I am but he tried to pretend he knew what I was talking about said “Oh Honey that’s really good I knew you could do it, you always worry about stuff but see it all works out”….I’m not sure what he was talking about but supportive none the less.

OK, NOW THERE ARE RULES FOR THIS THERE ARE 4 OF THEM SO HERE WE GO:
#1 Thank the person who nominated you and link back to them in your post.
( ok this might be easy for some but how the heck do I link?) HA HAAAA It took about an hour but I think I’ve got it now!!
La Tête de Légumes THANK YOU FROM ALL I’VE GOT, THANK YOU. I appreciate this from someone I admire in the world of food & blogging.

#2 Share 7 things about yourself: (some people just list them I feel a need to explain them & have visuals)

1– I (myself and my husband) rescue dogs. Well, not dogs… Chihuahua’s. All together they equal 1 dog. We started 8 years ago when I learned what a puppy mill was and that was it. I am holding my ground on 8 yes 8! For now we have 8 crazy barking, yapping Chihuahua’s ranging from 3 1/2 pounds to 27. (ok Filbert the 27 pounder is not Chihuahua, he came from Chi rescue but kept growing so we did his DNA and not a bit of Chihuahua in him BUT!, he doesn’t know this and when & if the time is right we will tell him. Until then he is one of us and always will be.) Ringing the door bell is just as you would imagine……INSANE! so please don’t just let us know you are coming, we will be on the look out. Although he is gracious and smiles every day I know our Mail Carrier hates us.
The pack grace the cover of the William’s Annual Christmas Card and this was last year’s.
Skippy came after the christmas photos were done so we had add him on the inside of the card.

2- I am a Vegetarian, I have been for 20+ years, I am not Vegan and I DO cook meat & I do it well.(not well done, I cook real good) My husband is NOT a vegetarian or Vegan. I will not cook Veal or Lamb or baby things and it may seem hypocritical but that is just the way I am.. I really enjoy cooking and I like to cook for my husband, I try to make the best choices for him, myself and the animal world. I do what is right for my life and my conscience. I do not look down on people for eating meat or making different choices then me. I do not like to tell people I am a Vegetarian because people roll their eyes or think they have to go out of their way to make food I will eat. I am fine eating side dishes when we go places. I do not taste the meat dishes I make. I have a very keen sense of smell and my husband, together it is a perfect test to making something delicious.

3- Cooking has always been something I’ve loved to do. I have always found cooking to be calming, inspiring & something I can share. I would come home from school and create things and then as I got older I would come home from my job and go right in the kitchen, chop things and experiment. I learned to cook by reading cookbooks, watching cooking shows and testing out ideas. Martha Stewart’s magazines had the first images I had seen of really beautiful recipes & I wanted to make that, Gourmet Food. I love to chop things by hand and not use my food processor unless something calls for a lot of shredded cheese or I need to really rush. There’s no love in a Cuisinart.

4- My sister’s name is Tanya so we are Tanya & Tasha. We are not twins. We are 3 years apart and our last name was Smith. We both married someone with the last name Williams so we are now Tanya & Tasha Williams & our husbands are NOT related (people ask). People call me Tanya all the time & I answer to it. I think we look alike and we definitely sound alike. She lives about 5 states away. We were on a plane together 2 weeks ago and we both had almost the exact same glasses for reading. She is pretty & smart & so are her children.

5- I have an extensive shoe collection and it is materialistic, ridiculous, I love it & I am well aware of better things I could have spent my money on. But it’s too late now! I love to go in my closet and look at my shoes. Some people collect coins, some collect stamps, me….I collect shoes, Ok I buy shoes and call them a collection:
col·lec·tion
[kuh-lek-shuhn]
noun

1.the act of collecting.
2.something that is collected; a group of objects or anamount of material accumulated in one location, especiallyfor some purpose or as a result of some process: a stampcollection; a collection of unclaimed hats in the checkroom; acollection of books on Churchill.

I feel like I’m in a store when I’m in my room and I really love it, it makes me happy. We don’t have children so i use that as my excuse of why I can spend money on shoes. If we ever did have children I would stop buying them for me and buy them for them. Did you know they have shoes for dogs?


6-I hope people find this interesting and fun and not long-winded because I would not be me if I didn’t write exactly as if I were talking. I really enjoy reading other Bloggers blogs, what they have to say and the pictures they include. I only hope to be as fun & inspiring as the writers I read every day.7- Finally, I know FINALLY I think I have the most handsome and caring husband in the world. He drives me crazy every day but he is truly one of the most supportive, loving and funny people I know. I am really lucky to have what I do. He loves each and every dog as much as I do. I get up every day because he tells me I’m pretty, I can do what ever I put my mind to and he is proud of me & that is exactly what I think of him…..ok he’s not pretty but you know what I mean.
3 Pass the award(s) onto 15 Bloggers you enjoy. –
Here they are….if you are not too tired after reading my 1262 words!! In no particular order
each one has talent & interest that keeps me coming back for more.
VERY INSPIRING BLOGGER AWARD:
Going Dutch
Mike’s Look at Life
Bucket List Publications
FoodsVentures
Happiness Stan Lives Here
THE VERSATILE BLOGGER:
The Harvest Gypsies
Phill’s Blog
creative noshing
sweatlikemambo
Assia’s Kaleidoscope
THE VERY INSPIRING AWARD & VERSATILE BLOGGER:
Whim & Wanderlust
Tasha in the Kitchen
One Man’s Meat
Photo Nature Blog
Paintbox Kitchen
4. Contact the bloggers you have chosen and let them know that they have been nominated!
As I was told too, you are not obligated to do this but I think you are great at what you do and deserve recognition.

Tastefully Yours,
Tasha

Perfect Portobello Mushroom Sandwich

yes it is also Portabella! I realized as I was going to write this I did not know what was correct spelling so I looked it up and it is both, one is the “Brand” name so either one is the right one. Go figure…
Also as far as “perfect” goes, that is according to me, I have not done any taste tests or official surveys other then my husband so I can only say as far as Im concerned it is darn good, “perfect” for me 🙂
WHAT YOU NEED:

2 Portobello mushrooms (or more if you want to feed more people)
4 Tbls Balsamic vinaigrette  (use home made & make sure it has a little honey or something sweet in it, you can use store bought too)
2 Tbls Herbed Goat cheese (plain is fine, I like lots of flavor)
hand full of greens baby greens, spinach, butter lettuce what ever you have or like best. I had “organic spring mix baby lettuce” in the fridge
1 really good roll (I have a ciabatta “sandwich” roll that was in a 4 pack at the store and I loved it. You can buy them and freeze them so you always have them) Good bread makes a good sandwich

WHAT YOU DO:
De-stem your mushrooms and gently remove the brown “gills” (I spent a lot of time Googling mushrooms today and yes they call it gills and when you think about it it’s weird, they look like gills) Using a spoon GENTLY scrape the gills keeping the mushroom in tack as much as possible. Don’t dig them out you want to have some mushroom left for roasting.
Scraped side up, again GENTLY score the mushroom so it will absorb the dressing, take care not to cut through.
Put in about 1 & 1/2 Tbls of the dressing (more or less if you want) on each and place on a baking sheet, lined with non-stick foil
Roast in a 425 degree oven for 30 minutes depending on the size of the mushrooms. This makes them thin and really cooked well & that is just the way I love it. I am not a fan of a 1/2 raw giant portobello on a sandwich.
While they are cooking cut the roll and lightly toast it.
drizzle the greens with a teaspoon or so of the dressing as well, just to coat them lightly and add more flavor (I like flavor, what can I say)
Spread both sides of the roll with goat cheese, I did about a full teaspoon on each but of course it is up to you. If I had more I would have put more but I was just about out.
Once the mushroom is cooked cut it thinly holding the knife on an angle so you get thin slices but they are wide, if you were to just cut it into strips they would be tiny and fall off the sandwich.
Build your sandwich!
Top the goat cheese spread on the roll with the mushrooms, load up the lettuce and you are ready to eat.
A few variations or add-ons that would be great too……
Thinly sliced red onion
roasted red peppers
roasted eggplant (coming soon)

Enjoy – T

Eggplant “Sandwiches”

I have to admit eggplant is not my favorite but this is excellent. They are not your traditional sandwich but its something stuffed between 2 somethings so I say sandwich.
I also was talking on the phone while I was making it so I missed a few of the photos, hopefully you can see what I am going to explain.
WHAT YOU NEED:
1 eggplant peeled and sliced into 1/2 inch rounds 1/4 inch if you want them thinner.
2 Cups of your favorite sauce (homemade is great but I am in love with RAO’s it is just as good, no joke go find it and try it you will be amazed)
3 eggs (mixed in shallow bowl for dredging)
2 Cups panko bread crumbs (seasoned or not, up to you)-seasoned go stale faster so use them up if you open them
1 Cup parm cheese (added to panko of the best breading ever)
2 Cups mashed potatoes (left over are perfect or you can buy them made or make them depending on the level of work you want to do)
2 Tbls Chives chopped for garnish & the potoatoes
3 tbls oil (more if needed) I am using a lighter oil to fry these up

WHAT YOU DO:
Pre heat oven to 350 (to keep eggplant warm as you cook them
In one bowl crack the eggs and mix
in second bowl add panko & parm cheese & mix
Dredge the eggplant one at a time in the egg then in the panko and add to pan with the oil heated on med/high.
Cook until golden brown and transfer to paper towels to remove excess oil the put on a baking sheet and put in oven to keep warm. (you don’t want them greasy or oily)
Continue to do this until all the eggplant is cooked.
Heat the sauce and mashed potatoes until nice and hot. Mix in most of the chives but save a teaspoon or so for the garnish. (feel free to use parsley if you have it for garnish)
To assemble spoon a few Tbls sauce onto a plate and then place one of the eggplant rounds on sauce.
top with 2 tablespoons mashed potatoes (or more if you like) and then place another eggplant round on top to make a “Sandwich” top with a little more sauce and garnish with the chives and serve immediately. My husband ate 2 and they were filling. this is a delicious dish and is worth a try.
 

Enjoy-T

Something simple to serve along side……
grab some Ciabatta bread stick at the store,rub a garlic clove, brush with butter (mixed with basil, italian seasoning, garlic salt) top with some parmesan cheese and bake at 425 for 10 min
 

Easy Bruschetta & I’m Finally Feeling Betta

Sick for a solid week with Bronchitis in bed and on the couch I’m starving and so is my husband. In the 10 years we have been together he has cooked twice, both times a stir fry so you can imagine what I eat as a sick person……not much.
But I am on my way to better & I’m so hungry for something tasty!
WHAT YOU NEED:
6 small tomatoes chopped (I got the Compari, bigger then cherry, about 1 1/2 inches)
Cibatta bread
1 scallion/green onion chopped
1 Lg garlic clove minced
Fresh Mozzarella (3 slices for each piece)
1/4 Cup fresh or frozen basil (frozen from my garden)
10 to 12 Kalamata olives chopped/pitted
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
splash balsamic vinegar
olive oil for drizzling

WHAT YOU DO:
This is an easy one with BIG flavor!!
heat oven to 425
Cut the Ciabatta bread into 1/2 inch pieces (I like it on the bias so it looks pretty & fits a little more)
Toast in oven about 1/2 way to brown
In a bowl add the chopped tomatoes, garlic, scallion, basil, olives, salt, red pepper, and the balsamic.
Stir it up and let it sit for a little so the flavors combine, maybe 20 min.
Top the partially toasted bread with the mixture and then add 3 slices of fresh mozzarella to each and toast again for 5 to 7 minutes, until the cheese starts to melt and then take them out garnish with fresh basil or parsley and eat them. you could broil them too and get the cheese bubbly & browned but I’m too hungry for that.
Enjoy -T