Crumbly Carrot and Rhubarb Muffins & Raspberry Chia Jam

Hi WordPress friends! I’ve been blogging over at Squarespace for about a year now and wanted to check in here to share my new blog URL and a link to a couple new seasonal recipes adapted from the My New Roots cookbook.  You can subscribe to Funky Beets by typing in your email on the right hand side bar of the site to get updates on what’s cooking in my kitchen. Check it all out at www.funkybeetsblog.com — thanks so much for your support!

In other news, I’ve been published! My food writing appeared in this Sunday’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.  Check out the link below to find the online version of my story on how to throw a laid back picnic party complete with light and tasty recipes to impress your friends without turning on the oven!

http://www.jsonline.com/features/parties/pick-fresh-light-dishes-for-perfect-picnic-party-fare-b99498244z1-304605071.htmlraspberry chia jam

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Smoky ‘Shroom-and-Kale-Stuffed Pattypan Squash

I wish I’d been around when humans got down to the business of naming things.  I’d definitely be pretty psyched to have been the one to point at a scurrying gray rodent with an endearingly bushy tail and say, “We should call that a ‘squirrel’ from now on.” And speaking of awesome names, heirloom vegetables might just be one of the deepest wellsprings of hilarious, beautiful and downright odd monikers known to man.  In the tomato family alone, there’s “Chocolate Stripes,” “Mortgage Lifter,” “Pink Oxheart,” “Brandywine,” “Big Rainbow,” “Enchantment,” “German Johnson,” and “Grandma’s Recliner.” No wait, that last one was made up by Molly and Matt of Spilled Milk, one of my very favorite podcasts.

Take pattypan squash.  It’s hard to say without a hint of a smile, right? These flower-shaped beauties are also known as scallop squash, which describes the elegant curves of their edges.  (Cue John Legend song here.)  Come to think of it, that tune could very well have been written about heirloom veggies: all your perfect imperfections… Anyway, according to rareseeds.com, pattypan is “a very ancient native American heirloom squash, grown by the northern Indians for hundreds of years.”  So thank you northern Indians, for cultivating this delicious fruit we still enjoy today.

beautiful vegetables

The pattypans we got in our box this week were about fist size, perfect for stuffing with goodness to preserve their unique geometry and create a hot-lookin’ main dish.  To stuff a pattypan squash, treat it like a pumpkin destined for jack o’ lantern status: saw out the top of the squash with a paring knife by aiming the blade at about a 45 degree angle down into the flesh and cut in a circle; you should wind up with a cone shape when you pull off the top. Then using a metal spoon, scrape out the seeds and some of the flesh of the pattypan, making a decent sized compartment for whatever you’d like to stuff inside.

hollow squash

My creation was born of what dwelt in the fridge: collard greens, red Russian kale, cream cheese, and cremini mushrooms.  You can stuff yours with just about anything; grains, greens, and/or cheese work especially well.  Here’s my recipe:

Smoky ‘Shroom-and-Kale-Stuffed Pattypan Squash

Ingredients:

2 large Pattypan squash, tops removed and insides hollowed as described above

2 Tbsp olive oil, divided

2 cloves garlic, minced

5 collard green leaves, ribs removed and shredded

5 red Russian kale leaves, ribs removed and shredded

8 whole cremini mushrooms, diced

¼ cup cream cheese

smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, and salt to taste

stuffed pattypan squash

Method:

In a medium sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat.  Add garlic and sauté for a brief minute before adding the shredded greens.  Reduce the heat slightly and cook the greens until bright green and tender, adding water to deglaze the pan as needed, as you don’t want the garlic or the greens to brown or burn.  Remove greens from the pan to a small bowl and set aside.

Using the same pan over medium heat, add the second tablespoon of olive oil.  Add the diced mushrooms to the pan and stir to coat with oil.  Once the mushrooms are tender and glossy, lower the heat and add the cream cheese, stirring to encourage melting. Add smoked paprika, cayenne and salt, tasting the mixture with each addition. (Don’t be shy with your spices, the cream cheese tempers the heat quite nicely.) Add the cooked greens back to the pan and mix all ingredients (except squash) until uniformly incorporated, then remove filling mixture from heat.

Using a spoon, stuff the kale and mushroom mixture into the squashes, pushing down on the filling with the back of the spoon to make room for more goodness.  Overstuff so some filling is visible coming out of the squash, then place the little caps on top. Cover the outside of the squash with a light sheen of olive oil to prevent scorching.

Bake stuffed squash in a 400°F oven for about 20 minutes or until thickest part of squash can be pierced with a fork without much difficulty (but is not totally mushy.)

Serve warm alongside a simple green salad and sliced fruit of the season.

kale and mushroom stuffed pattypan squash

kale and shroom stuffed pattypans

Zippy Radish Salad with Green Onions and Lemon Zest

Zesty, peppery, biting – the flavor of a freshly picked radish is anything but tame.  For this reason, many people tend to shy away from this surprisingly versatile veggie that also happens to be a nutritional powerhouse.

I must admit, radishes hold a very special place in my heart.  On the night we were engaged, my husband Brandon and I ate at a farm to table restaurant in Door County, where we had a perfect appetizer of jewel-toned radishes served with smoked sea salt. In celebration of this simple, yet unforgettable dish, we served radishes as a starter at our wedding as well.  So yeah, I like radishes.

This weekend, my best pal and fellow dietetics student Chetney and I teamed up to do a cooking demonstration at our local farmers market.  We shared and handed out samples of two recipes that showcased some of the season’s best produce, donated by one of the market vendors, Kettle Rock Farm. Our “Zippy Radish Salad” was a big hit, as was the Kickin’ Kale Hummus that’ll be popping up on Chetney’s blog soon.  Under our paper lantern-adorned tent, we prepared this salad from scratch amidst eager market patrons and handed out samples, in response to which many people commented, “I don’t like radishes, but this is delicious!”

Here’s us all apron-ed out in between demos:

Chetney and I at the market

Not only are radishes de-lish, but they’re also a good source of vitamin C, fiber, and some pretty amazing phytonutrients called isothiocyanates, which are also found in broccoli, kale, and the other cruciferous veggies we’ve all come to love.  Isothiocyanates (try saying that three times fast) are known to help rid the body of carcinogens and to inhibit the growth of cancer cells by essentially causing them to self destruct. Read more about these fascinating compounds here.

But now onto the recipe: the reason this super-simple salad was beloved even by the radish-averse is because it tames the vegetable’s bite while allowing just enough of its “zip” to shine through.  It’s like that one perfect dress that plays up all your nice parts while hiding your less-favorite spots. The bulk of the salad is raw chopped radishes and green onions. The “dressing” is plain, whole milk yogurt, salt, pepper, and lemon zest.  The creamy, tangy yogurt plays so well against the sharp flavors of onion and radish while lemon zest brightens everything to just the right flavor-hue to please nearly every palate.  Enjoy with all your favorite picnic foods this summer, replete with pride in your ability to say “isothiocyanates” with a mouthful of zippy radish salad!

radish salad

Zippy Radish Salad
serves 4 as a side dish

Ingredients:

2 ½ cups radishes, chopped into matchsticks
3-4 green onions, sliced into thin rounds, green and white parts
1/4 cup whole milk plain yogurt
1 tsp lemon zest
pepper to taste
1/4 tsp salt, added just before serving

Method:

Combine chopped radishes and green onions in a medium serving bowl.

In a separate bowl, stir together yogurt, lemon zest and pepper in a separate bowl, then pour over vegetables and stir to combine. Just before serving, stir in salt.

Note: if you stir in the salt right away and allow the salad to sit before serving, the radishes will lost their crunch and the salad will become watery.

***Try adding chopped fresh dill, basil, mint or other seasonal herbs for a new flavorful twist!***

zippy radish salad

Nutrition Information – Thank you Chetney for calculating these out!
serving size = ¼ salad

Calories: 18
Fat: 1g
Carbohydrate: 2g
Sugar: 1g
Protein: 1g
Fiber: 1g
Sodium: 157mg
Vitamin A: 8% DV
Vitamin C: 8% DV
Calcium: 4% DV
Iron: 8% DV

Sage, Arugula and Leek Omelette for Two (and one more CSA-inspired recipe!)

Happy first day of summer. I’ve issued myself a challenge: one blog entry per week showcasing the produce from our weekly CSA box. We’re two boxes in and I’ve yet to write a post about the awesomely fresh, local, organic veggies I’ve been cooking, eating and loving lately , so looks like this one’s gonna be a two-fer folks. These recipes will be more loose and versatile than others I’ve posted; they’re meant to inspire you to grab whatever’s fresh at the market and make from it something simple and delicious, that showcases the flavors of the season. Please interpret these with your own creative twist, and leave a comment about what you came up with, I’d love to hear from you. Let’s share some local love!

From some of the shining stars of our first box, which we conveniently pick up at the nearby Tosa farmer’s market every Saturday morning, I whipped up a tasty midday omelette filled with leeks, sage, baby arugula (not from the CSA ) and goat cheese.

sage, arugula and leek omelette

I’m no omelette pro, but the key to keeping it together seems to be touching the eggs as little as possible while they’re cooking. I’m sure they are plenty of excellent omelette-making tutorials on YouTube so I won’t go into great depth with the instructions.

Sage, Arugula and Leek Omelette for Two

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon butter or olive oil (divided)
5 free range eggs (bonus if you can get them at the market)
salt to taste
1 tablespoon half and half (or whole milk, heavy cream, or coconut milk)
two handfuls baby arugula
about 8 sage leaves, chopped
1 small (spring) leek, sliced into half moons, rinsed
¼ cup fresh goat cheese, crumbled
fresh cracked black pepper to taste

Method:

Heat ½ tablespoon of the butter or oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When butter is melted or oil runs loosely in the pan, add the leeks and stir until slightly softened. Next, add the arugula and sage, cooking until wilted. Turn off heat and remove mixture to a separate plate; cover with a bowl to keep warm. Wipe the skillet clean with a paper towel.

Whisk together the eggs, cream, and salt in a bowl. Add another ½ tablespoon of fat to the skillet.

When butter is melted or oil runs loosely in the pan, pour the eggs into it and swirl to cover the surface of the skillet. Let the eggs sit for a quick minute, until the bottom of the omelette is just firm. Then, using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, gently peel back the cooked eggs and tilt the pan so the runny eggs run into the open space in the skillet. Continue this process maybe one or two more times until the eggs are mostly cooked but still soft.

Add the arugula mixture to the center of the omelette in a loose line, then sprinkle the filling with about half of the goat cheese. Carefully fold the omelette edges over the filling. Cover the skillet and cook for one more minute if you are concerned there may be some runny egg lurking.

Remove omelette from the skillet and serve topped with remaining goat cheese crumbles, pepper, and a sage garnish if you’re feelin’ fancy. Cut in two and enjoy with a loved one or save half for tomorrow’s lunch (cold omelette = delish).

sage, arugula and leek omelette

Week two’s box brought us strawberries, kale, leeks, radishes, asparagus, and more! Today, I whipped up a simple cooked salad of sautéed kale and asparagus, sun-dried tomatoes, pine nuts and parmesan which we enjoyed alongside a rotisserie chicken and some good crusty bread (wine too).

fresh loca asparagus

Roasted Kale and Asparagus Salad with Nutmeg

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 lb. asparagus, trimmed of woody ends
1 bunch red Russian (or any other variety) kale, stems removed, leaves chopped
1 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
¼ cup freshly grated parmesan or other hard cheese
¼ cup pine nuts
salt, pepper to taste

sauteed kale and asparagus salad

Heat half of the oil in a large skillet, medium heat. Add the asparagus and sauté until bright green and still very crisp, about 4 minutes. Season with nutmeg, salt and pepper. Remove from pan and set aside.

Heat the remaining oil in the same skillet. Add the chopped kale leaves and sauté until bright green and tender. Add the sun dried tomatoes, cooking minute or two longer. Remove skillet from heat and stir in parmesan and pine nuts. Salt and pepper to taste, add addition olive oil as desired.

In a large bowl or on a serving platter, first make a layer of the sautéed kale, then top with the asparagus, finishing with more parmesan and pine nuts for garnish.

Serve warm, cold, or at room temperature.

IMG_0454

Maple Vanilla Rhubarb Compote

‘Tis the season to find a random patch of rhubarb growing in your next door neighbor’s backyard. Don’t be shy; ask him if he plans to use it. If the answer is no, chop it down and make something that tastes precisely like the beginning of summer.
fresh picked rhubarb
I tend towards simpler preparations of rhubarb: the ones that let its tangy, uniquely rhubarbian flavor shine through. The stewed compote I made is scented with vanilla, orange zest, and a touch of cinnamon with just enough maple syrup to take off the pucker-inducing edge. You may like more sweetener, in which case, add it!

I like this compote best swirled into full fat, plain yogurt. The tanginess of both ingredients play well together, and the creaminess of the yogurt tempers the hint of bitterness in the ‘barb while playing up the sweeter notes of maple and spice. This morning I dolloped both on top of a steaming stack of coconut flour pancakes and declared a breakfast miracle worthy of sharing.
maple vanilla rhubarb compote
I didn’t want to be too greedy with the free rhubarb, so I only took about 6 stalks. This recipe could easily be doubled or tripled to accommodate a larger rhubarb haul.

Maple Vanilla Rhubarb Compote

makes about 2 small jelly jars full

Ingredients:

2 cups rhubarb stalks, rinsed and chopped into 1/4 inch pieces
3 tablespoons maple syrup
zest and juice from 1 medium orange
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
dash of cinnamon
dash of salt
summer fresh rhubarb
Method:

Combine all ingredients in a heavy bottomed skilled or saucepan. Heat mixture over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until rhubarb begins to break down and become soft, about ten minutes. Taste compote and add more sweetener if desired.

Allow to cool slightly and pour into jars. Keep refrigerated for up to three weeks. Enjoy over pancakes, waffles, oatmeal, yogurt, ice cream or straight from the jar.
rhubarb compote on coconut pancakes
Lip-smacking summer goodness.

Wholesome Homemade Peanut Butter Eggs

Did you ever notice how many of your most beloved childhood foods taste better in your memory that in real life? It’s kind of sad and yet somehow fascinating; now that I eat mostly whole foods and try to steer clear of added artificial crap, those treats I adored as a child taste eerily fake and often leave a lingering plasticky taste in my mouth. Don’t get me wrong, I can get down on a bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch or an ice cream sandwich from time to time, but as a general rule the edible foodlike substances of my youth have lost their luster.

Wholesome Homemade Peanut Butter Eggs

Reese’s peanut butter cups fall into this category. I remember those commercials that would feature all the different ways to go about eating your Reese’s. My favorite one was to poke a perfect hole in the middle, eat that first and then nibble away at the grooved, rigid outer ring. Now when I eat a Reese’s, all I taste is a fistfight between salt and sugar with a hint of peanut butter flavor egging them on in the background (no pun intended). So when I saw a recipe for copycat Reese’s peanut butter eggs on Pinterest, I was all about making a revamped version of my old Easter basket fav.

These tasty nuggets of joy are made from just seven wholesome ingredients. The texture is freakishly similar to the store bought ones, but the taste is supremely better. Coated in bittersweet chocolate and scented lightly with vanilla and cinnamon, these actually “taste of what they are” which is mostly straight-up peanut butter. Coconut flour is the binder and thickener for the filling, maple syrup sweetens the deal just a touch. As long as you can form a semi-reasonable egg shape and refrain from licking your fingers every five minutes while coating these, you should be just as successful in making them as I was. Happy Easter. Have a wonderful weekend of renewal, reunion, and refreshment.

Ingredient note: Coconut flour is soft flour produced from dried coconut as a natural byproduct of coconut milk production. As my friend Elizabeth, who introduced me to this versatile, gluten-free flour, has pointed out, “it’s almost all fiber” and for this reason, it absorbs liquid like a sponge and cannot be substituted for AP flour in a 1:1 ratio. It’s best to use coconut flour in recipes that were created with this ingredient in mind, like this one or this one!

Coconut flour is an exceptionally good source of the essential micronutrient manganese. Manganese helps our bodies optimally utilize choline and biotin (found in eggs), vitamin C and thiamin. Manganese also supports a healthy skeletal and nervous system and promotes thyroid health.

Coconut flour can be found in most well-stocked grocery stores (Bob’s Red Mill has a version) as well as in the bulk section at many natural food stores (including the Milwaukee-area’s Outpost Natural Foods).

Wholesome Homemade Peanut Butter Eggs

Wholesome Homemade Peanut Butter Eggs

adapted from My Whole Food Life
makes about 16 “eggs”

Ingredients:

For the filling:

1 cup natural peanut butter (ingredient list: peanuts, salt)
1/4 cup coconut flour
3 Tbsp pure maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp cinnamon

For the chocolate coating:

1/2 cup chocolate chips
1 ½ Tbsp almond milk (or milk of choice)

*alternatively you can combine 1/4 cup melted coconut oil, 1/4 cup cocoa powder and 2-3 Tbsp maple syrup or honey to make your chocolate coating*

Method:

Combine the peanut butter, coconut flour, maple syrup, vanilla and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Mix well using an immersion blender, food processor, or a fork and a very strong arm.  The filling should be similar to the texture of cookie dough. If it’s more runny than that, add a tiny bit more coconut flour.Wholesome Homemade Peanut Butter Eggs

With clean hands, shape the mixture into about 16 eggs (~ 1 Tbsp of filling per egg). Hint: make sure they’re tapered at the top and more rounded and wide at the bottom, this is the key to a convincing egg. 🙂IMG_0233

Place the “eggs” on a lined baking sheet and stick them in the freezer while you heat up the chocolate, at least 5 minutes.

Using a double boiler over simmering water, melt the chocolate chips and milk together until smooth and creamy. Remove chocolate from heat and retrieve the eggs from the freezer.

Roll each egg in the chocolate until covered and place them back on the lined baking sheet. (There is no right way to do this. You can use two forks, a spoon, or your fingers. It’s a bit tedious and you may have to put the eggs back into the freezer halfway through to prevent them from melting in their hot chocolate bath, but you’ll get through it and by George, it will be worth it.)

IMG_0244

Stick the eggs back in the freezer to let the chocolate set for an hour or two, storing them there until ready to share.

Wholesome Homemade Peanut Butter Eggs

Guaranteed to be a hit with bunnies, rabbits and even the occasional hare at your holiday gathering.

Oat-tastic Cookies with Semisweet Chocolate Chips

It’s been a spell since I last posted, folks. School became pretty intense for a while there: I was blessed with the challenge of creating and carrying out a lesson plan to teach 7th and 8th graders about the connections between sugar consumption, obesity, and diabetes. At first blush this seemed like a straightforward task, but the lines between these three “epidemics” of our nation are more blurred that you might think. Perhaps there will be more on that in another post, this one’s about cookies.

Then last week I had my wisdom teeth taken out, an experience from which I gleaned a deep-seated gratitude for the ability to eat solid food. Even just 6 days of milkshakes, mashed potatoes, and pureed soups left me fantasizing about biting into a juicy cheeseburger or a fish taco or anything with more than a singular taste and texture. I haven’t graduated to caramel apples or chips and salsa yet, but I’m glad to report we made perfectly medium-rare grassfed burgers on the grill last night and I was able to satisfy my craving quite successfully.

And here I am now, on a gray Sunday morning taking in the sounds of robins welcoming spring: cheerily, cheer up, cheer up, cheerily, cheer up and a pot of oatmeal amiably bubbling away on the stove (make that burning away on the stove, oops.)

Today’s recipe is for cookies I shared at dietetic student “eat and greet” (we organized as the dietetics club board a couple weeks ago). Sharing an hour of conversation with smart and dynamic women was a welcome respite from the harried school week. But I think maybe it was the promise of these cookies that auspiciously brought us all together. 😉

Oat-tastic Chocolate Chip Cookies

I found the recipe in a cookbook I borrowed from the library: The Kinfolk Table. It calls for vegetable shortening rather than the more commonplace butter. The payoff is a denser, more robust chew that preserves the luscious, fat-coated crumb of classic oatmeal cookies.

The oatmeal to flour ratio in these bad boys is 3:1, perfect for cookies that are both acceptable breakfast fare and nearly-guiltless nighttime snack. I switched out the AP flour for whole wheat pastry, my MO for most all baked goods. The vegetable shortening I use is a non-hydrogenated, organic palm oil made by Spectrum, who quells my fears of being an accomplice to orangutan murder with this pleasant blurb: “we craft our shortening from sustainably harvested organic palm oil sourced from dozens of small family farmers in Colombia.” (Palm oil has a rather complex reputation which you can read about here.) That said, if you’re leery of the ingredient you can certainly use butter, the texture will just be slightly different, as noted by the original recipe’s author.

Kinfolk Table cookbook

The recipe note also recommends combining all ingredients by hand, stating that using an electric mixer will alter the intended texture. (I gather the texture is paramount to the success of these cookies.) I must disclose I still used my Kitchen Aid to cream the butter and sugars, but the rest of the ingredients I mixed in manually.

The dough should be refrigerated for at least one hour before baking to ensure, you guessed it, optimal texture. For a fascinating NYT read on how cookie outcomes improve as dough is allowed longer fridge time, click here. Well, this post has taken me almost two hours to write, so I’m just going to get down to the recipe now, which is what you came here for anyway, right?

Oat-tastic Cookies with Semisweet Chocolate Chips

adapted from Julie Pointer’s recipe in The Kinfolk Table
Makes about 3 dozen cookies

Ingredients:

1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup organic vegetable shortening, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 large eggs, beaten
1½ cups whole wheat pastry flour
3 cups whole rolled oats (not quick cooking)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Oat-tastic Chocolate Chip Cookies

Method:

In a large bowl, combine the sugars and shortening and mix until creamy. Add in the vanilla, salt, baking soda, and eggs, and stir until just combined.

Combine the flour, oats, and chocolate chips. Incorporate these into the wet ingredients in three or four additions, stirring until mixture is more or less uniform. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour until the dough is chilled and firm.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place a rack in the center of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Using a spoon, or in my case a melon-baller, scoop the dough into approximately 2 tablespoon spheres and place them on the prepared baking sheets about 1 inch apart. Press the dough down gently with your fingertips.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until the cookie edges just begin to brown, rotating the sheets halfway through if your oven bakes unevenly.

Transfer the baking sheets to a rack and cool for 5 minutes then transfer the cookies directly to the rack and cool completely, about 30 minutes (eat at least three before they cool).

Serve or store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Oat-tastic Chocolate Chip Cookie // funkybeetss