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Posts tagged ‘Olive oil’

Bruschetta In Eleven Minutes Tops!

Bruschetta landscape

A favorite in our home because we love Italian food anything, it’s healthy and a snap to make.

Bruschetta in the making

When my daughter was four she came in from munching sweet cherry tomatoes and basil in the garden and exclaimed ” We have a grocery store in our backyard!”  Then she asked…”can we grow a mozzarella plant?” She asked the proper question; can we? If only that were possible. “I wish we could.” was my answer. However, these questions did open the door to researching how mozzarella is made, and where it comes from. I’ve not yet ventured to make it myself, but I hear Mozzarella is pretty easy to produce, so I’ll have to try it and get back to you about that.

Until then, here’s our favorite bruschetta recipe:

Bruschetta

1 Local baguette sliced (I love the Mazama Store’s because it has a wee bit of salt on top)
2-3 Red, preferably heirloom, garden tomatoes (however with snow still on the ground, organic vine-ripened tomatoes have the most flavor)
15 Basil leaves or as many as you have slices of bread
Fresh mozzarella (you can find the pre-sliced kind at some stores) to top the slices of bread
salt for sprinkling
Olive oil (Italian) to drizzle
Balsamic Vinegar (aged has a sweeter flavor, but any will do) to drizzle

Bruschetta olive oil drip drop bottle

Action:

1. Toast the slices of bread, or if you have time put them over the grill or gas burner, to toast
2. Add sliced mozzarella
3. Add Basil face up to catch some of the oil and balsamic drizzle
4. Add sliced tomatoes to each
5. Sprinkle with salt
6. Drizzle with Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar

Bruschetta Ready To Eat!

Buon Appetito!

* Thank you to Diane, Geof, Linda, Marc, Hannah and Eva for patiently waiting to devour these tasty bites while E.A did his photo dance to capture the bruschetta when freshest.

Head Shot RachelleRachelle @ Caramelize Life

“making life a little sweeter, through food, travel and community”

It’s A Comfort-Food-Farro Kind Of Day

Spring is here, no wait… it’s not, oh here it comes… Nope. Now it’s snowing. Don’t get me wrong:

I LOVE SNOW.

But I can see grass now. It’s over, I can’t go back, I’ve gone and done it. The potting shed is clean and the seeds are calling my name.

RKW_4449 Seeds
Ok, so it’s mud season; the fifth season (right after Winter; just before Spring)  Mud season is when we are thankful for all wheel drive and a high clearance vehicle, when I get to be a little crazy at the wheel, just to get up the mile long road we call a “driveway.” Mud season is when the dogs’ paws are caked with the newly emerged earth and their fur becomes the transporter for all that was outside to now reside inside. My neighbor tells me “You’re out numbered” (kids, dogs, cats, bird, bunny, chickens… oh and our exchange student’s fish-Fishy (guess who’s fish it will be in July?)) she advises to “Just let go.”

I think it will be my new mantra.

RKWeymuller Mud Season

This morning I practiced that mantra and put on slippers (dirt goes unnoticed better that way) and made emmer pancakes; a little comfort food for a cold damp day. I was surprised by the fact that breakfast, from egg-crackin’ to clean-up, took little more than 20 minutes. The aroma wafting from the griddle pulled my little sleepy heads out from under their covers and had them at the kitchen bar in no time. I had that Proud Mama moment of knowing that I’m providing a healthy, beginning of the day meal (that they will actually eat) for my active kids. Hopefully they’ll be satisfied until lunch.

Oh! Lunch! I plan the day from one meal to the next. Last night I tried something new; the farro boldly went where only basmati rice had been before…the rice maker. Yup, hoping it would transform our long stove top cooking times to that of a care free slow cooker experience. I am happy to report:  <<genius!>>  It worked! And today I have fresh farro for lunch, via my rice maker.  (Enter celebratory music and little happy dance that you really don’t want in your head).

RKW_4493 Farro, Goat Cheese, Kate and tomat salad

Spinach and Blue Bird Grain Farro Salad:
serves 2 for lunch

1 cup farro
3 cups washed baby organic spinach
A handful of sweet cheery tomatoes halved
1/4 cup goat cheese(Sunny Pine Farm)
dash of lemon pepper
pinch of salt

Stove top method:  Add the Farro to a medium pot with 3 cups or so of water and 1/4 tsp salt. Cover and bring to a boil, then turn down heat to simmer for 45-50 minutes.When farro grains are plump, soft and still chewy remove from heat and fluff with a fork.
Or
Rice Maker method: I use a 1 cup grain to 1 cup liquid and set it to gaba (longer time but great for more nutrients) brown rice mode. But follow your rice makers directions for brown rice.

~Saute baby spinach with a little water and a dash of lemon pepper and a pinch of salt, until it wilts then remove from heat
~fill warmed bowl with farro
~crumble goat cheese onto the farro
~top with wilted baby spinach and halved tomatoes

Enjoy!

Head Shot Rachelle  Rachelle Weymuller @ Caramelize Life
“Making Life Sweeter Through Food, Travel and Community”

Butternut Squash & Spinach Lasagne

We live the lives of busy Moms, friends, entrepreneurs, wives, community members…the list of hats grows long. So it is important that we use our time wisely while the kids are at school and the house is quiet by combining our get together time. Focusing on sharing and connecting, creating new recipes and learning from each other are all great ways to build lasting relationships.

We set up a plan to meet once a month and share new recipes, try each others favorite recipes and expand our regular “go to” menus for our families. Our goal is to prep and make a dinner for that night and then something to put away in the freezer or “put-up” in the pantry to be enjoyed in the future months as a tasty reminder of our day together in the kitchen.

We decide menus by what we have in our refrigerators. For me that is easy; a quick check, since I have just one. But Stew, she has four refrigerators I’m told so she always comes ready for a multitude of options. On our most recent get together, her car was packed and each time she pulled something from her bottomless box of goodies, like a magician, I was pleasantly surprised at what she emerged with: squash, spinach, fresh squeezed lemon juice, herbs picked that day a little bit of this and a little bit of that. I have to confess, Stew Dietz is not your ordinary super mom (a title I think all Moms carry in this day and age) like the rest of us but she is also a caterer extraordinaire so she has menu planning down to a science.

After taking stock of our potential ingredients, we decided the plan was to make a Butternut Squash and Spinach Lasagne, Potato Leek Soup, Parsley Pesto and Apple Butter. These days in the kitchen are very productive. For the Butternut Squash and Spinach Lasagne, Stew found inspiration from a Bon Appétit magazine but we didn’t have all the ingredients they called for and staying true to our creative spirit we improvised and tweaked their recipe to what worked for us:

Butternut Squash & Spinach Lasagna

10-12 Servings            9x13x3” pan

2#            Butternut squash, peeled, halved, seeded & cut ¼ “slices
1#            Spinach
1               Large Yellow Onion,  diced small
1#            Fresh Mozzarella, grated or cut into small strips
16oz        Skim Ricotta
1c            Grated romano cheese
Zest from one lemon
4              Sage leaves, minced
1T            Fresh Rosemary leaves, minced
2T           Fresh Thyme leaves, minced
½ c         Fresh parsley leaves, chopped

Bechamel

¼ c            Unsalted butter
¼ c            Unbleached all-purpose flour
3c               Whole milk
2c              Half & half
¼ tsp       Fresh grated nutmeg
1                Bay leaf
Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
1#              Lasagna noodles
½ c            Parmesan

Toss sliced squash pieces with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Bake on sheet pans in preheated 400 oven until cooked, but not mushy, about 20 minutes.

In 10 qt stock pot heat water until boil and cook lasagna noodles until done.  Toss with a little extra virgin olive oil to keep from sticking and lay out on extra sheet pans, wax paper or parchment.

Heat 3T olive oil in 8 qt heavy bottom stock pot and saute onions until tender but not colored, about 8 minutes.  Add rosemary, fresh thyme & sage and cook adding salt & pepper to taste.  Add spinach in handfuls stirring it in until wilted.  Cook over high to finish wilting and help evaporate liquid (or drain in colander, reserving liquid for soup!)  Stir in lemon rind and fresh parsley.  Once cooled blend with ricotta & Romano set aside in a bowl for assembly.

In heavy bottomed 5qt pot melt butter over medium heat.  Whisk in flour and cook not letting it brown, about 2-3 minutes.  Slowly whisk in whole milk & half and half.  Add bay leaves & nutmeg. Slowly bring to boil and simmer stirring almost constantly until thickened, about 10-15 minutes depending on your heat. Season with salt and white pepper.  Pour through mesh strainer.

To Assemble:

In 9”x13” pan spread about 1/3c béchamel in the bottom of the pan.  Top with layer of lasagna noodles, butternut squash slices, Fresh mozzarella, spinach/ricotta mixture & ½ c béchamel.  Keep repeating for a total of 3 layers of “filling” ending with noodles/ last of béchamel and ½ c Parmesan.

Bake @ 375 for 45 minutes, turning to broil for additional 5 minutes.  Let rest before cutting and serving.

*Freezer Tip:

I usually cover the lasagne with plastic wrap and then aluminum foil and write on the foil; What is inside, the date it was made, and date it should be eaten by as well as baking instructions, incase I am not the one making it for dinner. I also add a reminder to remove the plastic wrap beneath the foil.
Other ideas would be to add suggestions of what side dishes to pair with it.

Enjoy!

making life sweeter…from Rachelle @ Caramelizelife

Caramelize Life Cooking Class @ Sun Mountain Lodge

It was a perfect time of year and a wonderful opportunity to work with a fantastic group of women in a garden to table cooking class.

Caramelize Life was kindly invited by Methow Arts Alliance and  Sun Mountain Lodge  to bring local produce and share simple recipes that could be made quickly at home with a lovely group of women visiting the Methow Valley.

It happened to be perfect timing for the class as the garden was in full production and ingredients were as fresh as could be.  On stage were succulent Heirloom tomatoes, fresh herbs, a selection of creamy chèvre from Sunny Pine Farm and locally sourced salmon

We all had a splendid time whipping up seasonal fair and an even better time sampling from our work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 ~cheers Rachelle@caramelizelife

What’s for Dinner?

 Misty Fjord’s Wild Salmon

  Seasoned with garlic, onions, dill and olive oil.

  Olive tapenade, sun-dried tomatoes and pine nut orzo pasta.

 And fresh sautéed  garden asparagus.

A quick and easy dish that is balanced and scrumptious too!

Wild caught salmon is the best, both in flavor and nutrients. Having worked in the Alaskan fishing industry in my 20’s I know it’s not an easy job and am thankful to be able to stock up on quality salmon each season.

Our mountains are not quite close enough to the ocean and inlets so we stock our freezer like squirrels in the fall with all things good. That’s when I place an order with our neighbor Fran, owner of Misty Fjord Seafood who I’m pretty sure is actually Super Woman. I end up guesstimating how many filets and pieces of fish we’ll need until the next season, and if we end up with extra we have it smoked so that we can enjoy it on hikes with a little goat cheese and good bread.

If you’ve got freezer space I highly recommend stocking up. Having it on hand makes dinner a snap!

Ingredients:

1 wild salmon fillet
3 pressed cloves of garlic
1 sliced onion
1 lemon (half sliced and half for juice)
a handful of asparagus spears
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil
1 teaspoon dill weed
3 tablespoons of quark, sour cream, mayo or LEMONAISE®
3 cups of orzo
2 tablespoons olive tapenade
sun-dried tomatoes (a jar or 9-10 from your pantry chopped)
1/4 cup of pine nuts
1/2 parmesan cheese (optional)
dash of white wine for sauteing

~preheat the oven to 400f

~Defrost the fillet in its packaging (it is recommended to do so in the refrigerator but under running water has worked in a pinch. You can save the water and use it to feed your plants).

~Next prep the garlic, onions and dill sauce

Dill sauce:
~combine the quark, sour cream or mayo with 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice, dill weed and mix. Omit the lemon if using LEMONAISE®
~Once defrosted place the fillet on an aluminum foil covered baking sheet for easier clean up.
~Drizzle olive oil onto the fillet, sprinkle dill weed and add slices of the onion, garlic and lemon (squeeze the slices just a bit) and cover with foil.
~Bake for 15-20 minutes checking for done-ness = when the salmon flesh turns to a light pink.

Now, prepare the orzo while the salmon is baking.
Orzo is quick and a favorite with our kids. To make it an all around hit I add a little color and flavor with sun-dried tomatoes, keeping it quick and easy I use a pre-made olive tapenade that I have on hand for easy appetizers. If you have time and can make your own I am sure you’ll be rewarded. Another crowd pleaser and healthy addition, is to add pine nuts.

Next, prep the asparagus. This is fun because it is fresh right now and in the backyard, easily gathered by the kids and they love it.

walking with scissors

~Once the asparagus is washed, then saute it with a little white wine until tender and set the asparagus aside.

~By the time the orzo is finished, your salmon should be done as well.
~warm plates if you want
~mix the olive tapenade, sun-dried tomatoes and pine nuts into the orzo and add the parmesan cheese.
~serve right away with a small dollop of dill sauce on top of the salmon.

serves 4-5

More salmon recipes here

Plan ahead
I love to make enough for leftovers. Extra orzo is great for lunches, add pesto to change it up or make it into a salad. It’s perfect hot or cold.
Leftover salmon is nice for morning egg scrambles, add chevre, chives and spinach for a healthy start.

Learn more
If you are interested as to why I choose wild salmon over farmed raised there are a number of reasons and it is important to know why and what you are putting into your body. I don’t think we can trust that someone else will be looking out for our best interests.  I feel it is important to educate oneself and spread the word on sustainable practices that benefit all. If your curiosity is piqued, then please check out the following links and make your own choice.

Why salmon is worth the fight- video

Salmon Aid

David Dobs describes the life of a wild salmon and the confusion between wild and farmed in his 2008 article in Eating Well named The Wild Salmon Debate  “He [the salmon] eats with an open mind—other fish, mollusks, and lots and lots of krill and other planktonic crustacea that have feasted on red algae. This diet turns his flesh pink and rich in omega-3 fatty acids.”

Now what’s for dessert?

Cheers!
Rachelle @ caramelizelife

~

Fresh Fish & Zesty Salsa Warm up Winter Nights…

Perch Tacos with Salsa Verde


This taco recipe is a simple, full proof meal that can be easily modified to your liking.  Combining the sweet tang of tomatillos (even easier to grow than tomatoes) and the smokiness of jalapenos hits a perfect balance.  Paired with the light fresh texture of winter white fish, we see it pleases almost any palate.

“Son!” is the constant refrain heard from inside the Ice Shanty throughout the winter.  That’s short for “it’s on!”-a phrase we learned quickly when perch and trout fishing out on the ice with family and friends.  Once the state fish and wildlife department announces the ice is thick enough and safe, the shanty is skied out to live on Lake Paterson until the spring thaw.  (It is converted into “deer camp” in the fall.)

And through the winter, patiently braving the cold is rewarded with buckets of fresh, flaky perch, delicate trout and delectable Kokanee (lake dwelling sockeye salmon).

Since the fish and water are so cold in the dead of winter, there is never a trace of “fishy” flavor in these perch.  They may be smallish, even tiny, but are so fresh and prolific that it is completely worth the effort.  Being small fish, they are perfect for tacos, chowders or an easy fish and chips.

Ice fishing is fun and productive.  It is a wonderful first fishing experience for children because they can easily bait their own hook, catch their fish and keep going at it, all by themselves.

The first time that Phoenix  age 6, went ice fishing, he was so ecstatic that he plunged his hands into the icy water, refusing gloves, bringing up one fish after another off his line.  (That’s not to suggest you catch the perch with your hands, he was just very enthused.)

Paired with the Salsa Verde below this recipe is packed with flavor.

1 lb Perch or other white fish such as halibut or snapper
t 1.c bread crumbs
1 large organic egg or 2 small
1 c. Jalapeño Salsa Verde
1-3 T. Olive oil
8 tortillas
1 c. shredded purple cabbage
½ c. Mexican crema or creme fraiche
½  c. additional Jalapeño Salsa Verde or Tomato Salsa
1 c. chopped fresh cilantro
½ c. green onions
Lime wedges for serving

The fish works well breaded and fried, or quickly broiled.  For frying, mix your eggs, briefly soak the fish fillets, then bread.  In a heavy sauté pan over medium heat, warm the oil. Arrange the fish on the pan and cook until golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn over and cook until the fish is opaque throughout, about 1-2 more minutes more. Timing depends on the thickness of your fish.  Rather than time it exactly, take your cue from the fish.
To assemble each taco, place 1/8 of the fish in the center of the tortilla and top with 2 T. cabbage, 1-2 T. crema, 1-2 T. salsa, then garnish with 1 T. cilantro and 1 T. green onions.  Wrap and bake briefly or sauté in a heavy skillet.  Serve the tacos with lime wedges, sour cream or topping of choice.

Jalapeño—Tomatillo Salsa

2 Pint Yield

This salsa recipe is one of our favorites.  It combines the exotic sweetness of tomatillos with the smoky zest of jalapeños.  Without being big and chunky in texture, it is much thicker than similar tomato salsas.  Go liberal on garlic and cilantro to taste, as the salsa benefits from each.  And feel free to change up the ratios to your liking–with this recipe it is fun to get creative.

We’ve been whittling down this salsa for years and one thing is for sure: amount does not equate to quality.  Even the smallest batch of this salsa goes a long way, both because of its flavor and thickness.  It’s definitely spiced up our winter nights:)  Enjoy!

5 1/2 c. husked and chopped Tomatillos
1 c. chopped Jalapenos, fresh or roasted
1 c. chopped onion
6 cloves minced garlic
1/2 t. salt
2-3 T. freshly ground cumin
1/2 c. cider vinegar

up to 1/2 c. other pepper variety to taste such as green chills or cayennes (optional)

1/4 c. lime juice

1/2 c. cilantro

Chop tomatillos, peppers, onion and garlic separately by hand or food processor.  Combine all ingredients except cilantro and lime juice in a sauce pan over medium high heat.  Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for at least 5 minutes.  Add lime juice and cilantro for last 2 minutes of cooking.  Ladle hot salsa into jars.  Can in water bath or pressure cooker, or enjoy fresh.

recipe Serves 4

Note: We usually make a double or triple batch of this salsa.  It is just as good preserved by canning or freezing. 

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