Tag Archives: Joy of Cooking

Riso all’autunno

11 Nov

The other day, I thought about making pasta alla primavera for lunches this week. Then I thought I should use brown rice instead because it’s healthier. Then I remembered that it’s fall, not spring, so maybe I should venture in a more seasonable direction. I checked the calendar of seasonal produce I keep on the fridge and set about throwing together a concept. I’m really happy with how it came out.

And so, I present to you…

Riso all’autunno (or Autumn Rice in ‘Merican)

(based upon the Joy of Cooking recipe I posted about here)

1 small winter squash (I used acorn)
3 medium beets, greens removed
½ pound Brussels sprouts, chopped
½ cup red lentils
3 cloves plus 2 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed, divided
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups fresh mushrooms, coarsely chopped (mine were maitakes from Mushroom Planet, but your favorite variety will work)
1 small shallot, minced
1 cup long-grain brown rice
4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth

Preheat the oven to 400° F. Pierce the skin of the winter squash six times with a knife or fork. I call this stabbing because it’s way more fun. Wrap the three beets in aluminum foil. Woo hoo, can you feel my heart beet?

Place the squash and beets on an edged baking sheet and stick them in the over for about 15 minutes. You want them slightly cooked but not done.

Remove them and turn off the oven. Meanwhile, grease, spray, or line a 9”x13” baking dish. When the squash is cool enough to handle, cut it in half and scoop out the seeds:

Now chop up just the flesh and toss it in the baking dish. Chop up those beets, while you’re at it, and throw them in, too. Be prepared, however, ‘cause these things bleed:

I promise you won’t stay magenta forever, though. Clean the Brussels sprouts and cut them to the size you like. I bought small-ish ones and chopped them in quarters because I didn’t want huge chunks. Rinse the lentils and pick over them, if necessary. Now toss the veggies and the legumes in with the squash and beets. Top with three cloves of minced garlic:

At this time, preheat the oven to 350° F. Heat a large sauté pan over medium to medium-high heat, and drizzle in the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the mushrooms, remaining two cloves of garlic, and the shallot. Sauté, stirring often, until the mushrooms are softened but the garlic isn’t burned, about five minutes.

Now add the rice and stir until it’s coated. Quickly add the vegetable broth. If all four cups of broth won’t fit, just add two for now and pour the other two into the baking dish.

Let the broth reach a boil, then pour the mixture into the baking dish. Stir everything around so it’s more or less evenly distributed.

Yours will be brothier. I didn’t use enough at the out-set. Stick it in the oven to bake for 50 minutes to an hour. At this point, stir it around and see if the rice is softened. If it isn’t and there’s no more broth, add a little more (about ½ a cup at a time) and put back in the oven for 15 minutes. It’s done when the rice is cooked and the beets and soft enough to eat.

Serves six (or just me six times).

I’m super-duper happy with how this turned out. Let me first say, however, that this is not a quick-and-easy meal. There is precooking and quite a bit of chopping, things I don’t normally do. However, the end result is very rich, hearty, and earthy*, and I think the deliciousness is worth the extra work. I top my servings with some black pepper, but otherwise the veggies speak very well for themselves. I love how bright and autumnal-colored the beets turn the dish. The squash and sprouts add a nice variation in taste and texture. I slightly overcooked my acorn squash, but I don’t really mind the mushiness. The mushrooms aren’t very obtrusive. I only used about 1 ½ cups, so I recommended two in the recipe because I love ‘em. Also, my rice came out somewhat al dente, which I like, but if you don’t, you could boil the rice a little on its own before adding it. The lentils are barely noticeable, but they do ramp up the nutrition of the dish.

I enjoyed a serving of my Riso all’autunno with a lovely salad today. I will post that recipe tomorrow.

*When I say “earthy,” I do, indeed, mean it tastes like dirt, in a good way. Beets, as a matter of fact, taste like dirt. Ain’t no shame in it, but I want to make it clear that I know that. If you don’t tend to like roasted beets, then you won’t like them here since the flavor is pretty pronounced. Sub in something else.

If you make the dish, I’d love to hear about it! This is the first baked rice dish I’ve ever created, and I have to admit I greatly enjoyed it. Oh, and expect to see the keptlovinglyforlaters a few more times; four servings still remain.


Garlicky dinner

4 Nov

It’s no secret that I love garlic. I smell like it a lot. For that, I’m sorry, but I have no regrets.

Tonight’s dinner starred the pungent, wonderful stuff:

Whole wheat linguine aglio e olio style, which is with garlic and olive oil. And crushed red pepper. My lungs can tell you all about that as it hit the hot oil. I put a pinch of nooch on mine, too. We also had lovely salads tossed with chopped parsley and featuring a homemade, garlic-love-fest dressing.

Lemon and Garlic Dressing

(Adapted from the Joy of Cooking)

  • 2 cloves of garlic, smashed or pressed
  • 2 pinches of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 3/4 olive oil

Mash or stir garlic with a pinch of salt and set aside. In a lidded container, add the other pinch of salt, pepper, lemon juice, and mustard. Add garlic paste. Put on the lid and shake to combine. Drizzle in olive oil, put the lid back on, and shake it some more. Store in the fridge or use immediately. Makes about 1 cup.

More tea?

12 Sep

(I apologize in advance if you see this post on my craft blog, too, but I wanted to share it both places.)

Wow. My tea party birthday was such a huge, amazing pile of fun that I’m not even sure where to start. I guess I’ll go chronologically. Beware: this is a long, photo-heavy post. And there’s a lot of sugar and caffeine to go around, too.

I started drinking tea a lot more often in the past few months. I was interested in learning to dry my own mint leaves and such to make tisanes, and my research led me to look for a particular book on tea that my local library didn’t have. Instead, they had Victoria magazine’s The Essential Tea Companion, which is full of information on steeping tea, using fancy dishes, and throwing tea parties. My brain went, “click.” This was May or June, I believe, and I quickly started searching my mind for a good reason to throw a tea party. I decided my birthday was a good choice. It was far enough away to plan, and I knew people would indulge me in honor of my ability not to die before I could ring in another year.

I spent a couple of months hitting up estate sales and thrift stores here and there in search of a hodgepodge of tea cups, cloth napkins, and other accoutrements. I had some early successes, but my search lagged towards the end. Luckily, the day before I had a great score at CMCA Thrift Shop (I would link you, but their website may be compromise at the moment — the store is on Utica, right by Hillcrest). I ended up with 18 beautiful tea cups all within the basic color palette I had chosen (pink, blue, purple, and gold).

Taking a much-needed, pre-party bath.

That’s enough background. On with the party!

My taller half and my mother helped me set up an hour before guests were due to arrive. We held the party at Chandler Park‘s gorgeous new community center. The room was perfect!

My major task the day before and the morning of was cooking and assembling food. Here’s the result:

The rundown (from left to right): paper plates (more on those below); plastic cutlery, a stack of vintage cloth napkins; tea sandwiches: white bean (with chives, basil, garlic and onion) on top, herbed cream cheese (with chives, garlic, onion, paprika, and chili powder) below, and peanut butter and banana on gluten-free bread on the silver platter; two veggie trays, one with hummus in the middle and the other with ranch dip; berries; two boxes of cookies brought by my cousin; sugar cookies; pumpkin chocolate chip cupcakes; tea cups; lemonade; assorted tea bags; honey; creamer; and the electric kettle (well, and the boom box).

Here’s a close-up of the dessert/tea area:

I want to take a moment here to talk about the lemonade — yes, the brown stuff in the pitcher is lemonade. Why is it brown?, you may wonder. Did you serve your guests rotten juice? Yes, we did! No, wait, no, we didn’t. Here’s how you take freshly squeezed lemonade (or any other lightly colored, homemade juice) and make it look like tea: when creating the sugar syrup, use raw turbinado sugar instead of the processed white stuff. Isn’t that ingenious? No matter what everyone was sipping at the party, we all looked like we were enjoying tea. I dislike lemonade, but I heard tons of “yum!”s from the crowd, so I will let you know that the recipe came from The Joy of Cooking. The raw sugar was entirely our idea, however. The lemonade was lovingly squeezed by my gorgeous taller half.

Both of the desserts I baked were entirely vegan. The sugar cookie recipe is from the Joy of Vegan Baking, and the cupcakes are my favorite still from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World.

Beside the desserts, I placed the tea cups so guests could choose their own. Then they could either enjoy the brown lemonade or one of the varieties of tea:

The electric kettle on the far right, barely visible, supplied the hot water. I also placed (coconut milk) creamer and honey for flavoring, but I apparently forgot to photo them. Here are the adorable containers:

In front of all the food, I placed little signs denoting what was available. I also placed an informational piece on how to make tea. Here is that and one of my favorite food labels:

My love set out three eight-top tables, at which we seated five each, and cushy chairs, all of which were included in our incredible reasonable facility rental. I didn’t have appropriately sized tablecloths, but we made do. My mother did three gorgeous, springy flower arrangements. I know it’s nearly fall, but tea party just doesn’t scream deep oranges and reds to me.

When guests arrived, I asked everyone to wear a name tag since I had a variety of people there who didn’t know each other: my family, my love’s sister, high-school friends, and Tulsa Craft Mafia gals. After about 30 minutes of mingling, I unleashed everyone on the food. We ate and sipped our tea for about an hour.

This is Kayla, my friend since 9th grade. She is beautiful. She has a 17-month-old daughter who will one day be named the most drop-dead gorgeous creature that has ever lived on this planet. Kayla also knows how to pretty up some tea. Also, don’t let that “Miss” on her name tag fool you. She’s a married lady, so hands off.

This is my love with his sister. Check out her amazing hat. Can you believe my dark Greek man shares so much DNA with this fair redhead? Totally. Just look at their matching smiles and gorgeous faces.

Another reason I asked everyone to wear name tags is because I held a best-dressed contest. Everyone voted for their favorite outfitted party attendee or attendees, and I added up the votes. The winners were:

Holly, the crafty hottie behind Hollyrocks, in second place, and my little cousin Diana in first place. How amazing do they both look? For their efforts, Diana went home with a rubber ducky tea infuser, and Holly got a gift certificate to Tulsa’s Dragonmoon Tea Company (which I’ll have to review someday).

Let’s check out Diana’s full ensemble once more:

No wonder she won with 50% of the votes.

After I announced those winners, we briefly did some birthday things. My taller half kicked it off with a game called, Do You Know Brigid? Ten trivia questions separated the knows from the know nots. My mother won. I meant to exclude her, but my love didn’t want to. She took home a prize she brought to give out to a winner. Speaking of Mom, here I am with her and her mother, too:

We don’t look alike or anything. Afterward, everyone sang to me and I opened a few gifts, which included:

An amazing Alice in Wonderland teapot from my friend Nichole and these way-too-awesome cupcake baking molds from my cousin Charity. Yes, I put them to good use this morning and enjoyed a leftover cupcake and Earl Grey Lavender tea in one of my tea cups for breakfast. My love’s sister also gave me a subscription to the awesome Ready Made magazine. My dad’s girlfriend gave me a gift basket of homemade apple butter, peach melba jam, and a gluten-free, vegan pancake mix. So thoughtful. Holly gifted me one of her terrariums for my desk at work, which I’ve been dying to have. Uber-crafty Tara gave me Loop-d-Loop Crochet. Speaking of my Mafia gals, check us out:

Yes, it is hard work being this hot AND crafty.

And after two hours of eating, sipping, chatting, and playing, it was all over. Mom and my love helped me clean and pack up. We ended up with some leftovers, which is fine by me. We ran out of plastic containers after I threw a bunch away, so Mom took the rest of the baby carrots and broccoli home in a vase:

Clever and weird.

It runs in the family.

I want to thank all of my 14 guests, including my two super-duper helpers, for making this party a reality. I couldn’t have had more fun dressing up and just hanging out with some of my favorite people ever.

Now, for a little honesty: I had planned to include a few things that I had to scrap after running out of time and money. First, I intended to use real plates instead of Chinet. However, not all of the tea cups came with saucers, and eventually I had to give up on finding enough that matched my color scheme and vision. I hate to be wasteful, but it saved my sanity. At least I bought plates made from recycled materials. I also intended to make flavored honeys and put out sugar cubes. These things didn’t happen, and it was OK. I ended up with a nearly vegan tea party that fit my fancy fantasies without breaking the bank.

Speaking of nearly vegan, of the things I made, only the cream cheese sandwiches were not dairy-free. The cookies my cousin brought and the ranch dressing that came with the veggie trays weren’t either, but I ate vegan during the party (with the exception of the honey, but I don’t exclude that from my diet). I’m pretty proud!

And though this concludes the food portion of my food blog, I will now parade a few more vanity shots:

Me with Kayla and Nichole, two of my oldest friends and favorite gals. (I was wearing really tall shoes. In real life, I’m only about 1.5″ taller than both of them.)

Cousins! That’s us in age and height order. Notice that Charity is not wearing heels and towers over us anyway.

Me with my stepsister Kaity, my little sister Sarah (who is an 11-year-old giant), and Dad’s girlfriend Jo.

And me and my love, AKA the best tea party co-host in the world.

I wish you a Sunday filled with peace, love, and half the amount of sugar and caffeine on which I ran yesterday.

Daily eats: September 8, 2010

9 Sep

Here is what I ate today.

Maybe it’s the weather, or maybe it’s the comedown from a long, lovely weekend, but I have not wanted to get out of bed this week. The dark outside my window isn’t helping, either. This morning, I actually thought about changing my schedule so I could sleep longer. Sad. Anyway, when I finally rose and showered, I was too lazy to put forth much effort. A quickie breakfast came to the rescue.

Whole-wheat toast topped with about 1.5 tablespoons of Justin’s Maple Almond Butter and orange juice (about 1.5 cups).

Somehow that tided me over until noon. I don’t know how since I’m usually ravenous by 9:30. Even so, I enjoyed my usual morning tea at work:

Choice Organic Irish Breakfast Tea with about a tablespoon of raw, local honey. The sweet stuff has made a huge difference in me managing my seasonal allergies.

When the lunch hour rolled around, I ate something incredibly tasty:

A spinach salad topped with doctured-up dressing and two yamburgers on the side. Yes, yamburgers. They are based heavily on Gena’s Sweet Potato Chickpea Burgers. The biggest difference is that I used yams from the farmers market, attempted to double the recipe but really just made the proportions off, and possibly undercooked them. Even so, I loved them. They are delicious! I promise I’m not a paid spokesperson for Choosing Raw. She just happens to have posted some very interesting recipes lately, and I gotta eat, ya know.

The salad itself was 2.5 ounces of organic baby spinach, and I made the dressing from about a tablespoon of tahini, two tablespoons of Newman’s Own Low Fat Sesame Ginger Dressing, and 1.5 teaspoons of the most flavorful, nasal-intruding Dijon mustard ever. Yum! The yamburgers were delicious enjoyed in concert with the salad and dressing.

I never did manage to wake up today, which didn’t make me a very useful employee. Don’t tell. During a quick jaunt to return some library books, I stopped at QuikTrip to get some coffee. I figured it had to taste better than the Java Dave’s executive crap sludge coffee service at the office.

Yeah, not so much. QT, I love your gas prices, your commitment to the community, your efficiency, and your fee-free ATMs, but I prefer my coffee a little less bitter, burnt, and acidic. I had maybe half a dozen sips before throwing it out.

I was feeling a blood sugar crash approaching when I got home, but instead of finding something too naughty, I had an unpictured banana. It was yellow. You can imagine it.

In the evening, my love and I enjoyed dinner:

That’s baked brown rice with mushrooms and white bean dip, both from the Joy of Cooking, as well as some baby carrots (Bunny Luv! Flashbacks to my childhood). I topped the dip with some nutritional yeast and both dishes with plenty of black pepper. The rice especially was incredible. We used shiitake mushrooms from Mushroom Planet, a vendor at the Cherry Street Farmers Market. If you’re local, you have to try some of her fungi. I am especially enamored of the maitakes. So, so good.

Have I mentioned my birthday is Friday? That I’ll soon finish my climb over the hill that is 25? I hope 26 treats me well. Anyway, I decided to bring cookies to work tomorrow in celebration. Other people bake on their own birthdays, right?

Mexican Hot Chocolate Snickerdoodles. Oh mama. This is one of my favorite quick, easy, and unbelievably delicious cookie recipes. Snickerdoodle is a bit of a misnomer since they do not have the crunch or the cream of tartar bite that the name usually implies. Instead, these are pure, chocolatey heaven. I had two. Ok, three. And the batter equivalent of at least one more.

Also, look at how differently my two cookie sheets bake these things:

They don’t even look like the same kind of cookie.

So that was my Wednesday in food. It was a fairly balanced day, if you ignore all the cookies, but who would want to do that?

Brown Rice and Lentil Pilaf

3 Sep

Tonight was the third and final night of our brown rice and lentil pilaf. Not a single eating of this dish involved a reasonable dinner hour, either. Because we adapted a recipe originally calling for white rice, the cooking time skyrocketed. I think the earliest we consumed this meal was 8:30 one night, and no, we are not one of those sophisticated, pseudo-European couples. I tend to be ready for dinner when your grandma is. However, I will declare that this was worth the work, though I’m glad we made three nights’ worth of the rice in one batch.

Brown Rice and Lentil Pilaf

Serves 6 (adapted from Joy of Cooking)


  • 1/2 cup lentils
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 cup long-grain brown rice
  • 1 quart vegetable broth (or water)
  • salt to taste
  • 1/4-1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Rinse and pick over lentils. Boil water in a medium saucepan. Stir in the lentils and boil for 10 minutes (uncovered). Drain the lentils and set aside. Then heat oil in a large saucepan over low heat, adding the garlic and cumin seeds until they sizzle, about a minute. Then add the lentils and the brown rice. Stir until they’re coated, about a minute. Then add at least three cups of vegetable broth (or water) and the salt. Keep an eye on the rice and add more liquid as needed. Cover, boil, then reduce heat to medium-low until the rice is tender and the moisture is absorbed, about 45 minutes. Let stand for five minutes uncovered. At this point, toast walnuts in a pan over medium heat until lightly browned and fragrant, about four minutes. Serve up pilaf topped with toasted walnuts.

If I had made this solo, I would have reduced the oil to one tablespoon, but the recipe is delicious as is. We decided to accompany it with steamed broccoli, about 1/2 a pound each (weight before cooking). I topped mine with a substantial pinch of nutritional yeast and black pepper;

my beloved opted for lemon juice (unpictured, but I bet you can imagine it).

This proved to be a substantial but not overwhelming meal. According to SparkPeople, mine had 495 calories, 8 grams of fat, 21 grams of protein, and 18 grams of fiber.

Do you prefer brown or white rice? I no longer purchase the pale stuff, but I always enjoy it at Mediterranean and Indian restaurants. I still think I prefer brown rice, however.