Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Summer Squash Rice Gratin

adapted from Gourmet magazine

2 cups cooked short-grain rice~ I like to use pearl rice from Winco's bulk section for this
2 yellow summer squash, sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick (of course, you can use zucchini if you have some :-)
6 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1- 14oz. can diced tomatoes, drained well
1 medium onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 cup grated Manchego cheese (I get mine from Costco)~ you can also use Pecarino Romano or another hard cheese if you prefer

  • Preheat oven to 450F.
  • Toss squash with 1 tablespoon oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a shallow baking pan. Toss tomatoes with 1 tablespoon oil and 1/4 teaspoon salt in another baking pan.
  • Roast squash on top shelf in oven and tomatoes on bottom shelf, turning vegetables once halfway through roasting, until tender, about 10 minutes for tomatoes and 20 minutes for squash. Leave oven on.
  • Meanwhile, cook onion and garlic with 1/2 teaspoon salt in 2 tablespoons oil in a large heavy skillet, covered, over low heat, stirring occasionally, until very tender, 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Stir together rice, onion mixture, eggs, thyme, 1/2 cup cheese, 1 tablespoon oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Spread half of rice mixture in a 2 quart baking dish, then top with half of the squash. Spread remaining rice mixture over squash, then top with remaining squash. Top with tomatoes and drizzle with remaining 2 tablespoons oil, then sprinkle with remaining cheese.
  • Bake on top rack of oven until golden brown, about 20 minutes.

The Keatley Household Does Not Live by Bread Alone~for this week, anyway

I realized this morning when I woke up thinking of what I'd have for breakfast that I've gone a little more crazy than usual. I am pretty sure it has to do with the fact that we have no bread or flour in our house at the moment. Some people love to eat sweets while others crave salty or even fatty foods~ for me it is definitely bread! I don't think I've ever met a bread I didn't like, so this week has been really interesting. I know the kids are thinking this is "interesting" (or "what do you mean we don't have any bread- what am I going to do???) too as they are having to be way more creative than usual. We do have a few other starchy items in the house, so I have been making use of pasta and rice as well as some Scottish oatmeal that's been sitting patiently in the cupboard waiting to be used.

This morning's repast was simple but made me feel like someone was giving me a big hug. I cooked up the aforementioned Scottish oatmeal, using 1/2 & 1/2 instead of water and adding 2 cinnamon sticks, a couple pieces of candied ginger, a few allspice berries and 1/2 of a vanilla bean. Once the milk was almost boiling, I strained out the chunky spices and added the oatmeal. 7 minutes and an occasional stir later, I was in oatmeal bliss. I then went over the top by spooning some King Kelly orange marmalade (bought at Winco but made where I grew up in California) and a little bit of brown sugar. It just got better as everyone was sleeping still, so I got to sit and watch a couple episodes of Gourmet's Diary of a Foodie- my new second favorite culinary-type show after Alton Brown! There are three seasons of shows you can watch on the internet~ be sure to watch the one on Italian home cooks, my numero uno favorite!

I was trying to figure out what to do for dinner when I remembered a recipe I had for zucchini rice gratin. The lead-in even said it would be satisfying for dinner with just a large green salad. This sounded perfect until I realized~ much to my horror (and Brian & Mary's amusement) that we were actually out of zucchini! I looked in everywhere I thought it could be, but alas, no zucchini was to be found. Thankfully, I did find a couple of summer squash, so I was able to make the gratin after all. It now sits on my counter waiting (patiently, like the oatmeal) to be dug into with a large spoon so as not to miss one bit of squashy, ricey, cheesy yumminess!

I also will wait patiently (but not on the counter) to see what else I can come up with this week while we live without the staff of life. When I do take my next bite of bread goodness, I plan on making it worth my to decide what kind it will be.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

"Out of this World" Roasted Kohlrabi & Potatoes

3-4 kohlrabi, ends trimmed and cut into 1/2 inch wedges
6-8 medium blue potatoes, scrubbed but not peeled cut into 1/2 inch wedges
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3-4 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 450F. Toss kohlrabi and potatoes with olive oil, garlic, salt & pepper. Place on rimmed baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and gently stir veggies. Place back in oven for 5 more minutes. Serve while warm.

I plan on using the leftovers for breakfast tomorrow~ if there are any. I like to whisk together a couple of eggs and scramble them up then add the kohlrabi & potatoes the last couple of minutes just to warm them up. I will probably then sprinkle on a little farmstead gouda from my friend Melissa at Willamette Valley Cheese Company and eat happily!

An Alien (Vegetable) Has Landed

As you know, I love to get new-to-me veggies in our wonderful CSA box from Gardenripe! Usually I don't have a problem thinking of new dishes to try, but a few weeks ago I was pretty stumped when I discovered kohlrabi in the box. It looks like something from another galaxy...far, far away~ a light green globe with bumps and three to four stalks sticking out from one side. I really think this might have been what I saw Aunt Beru feed Luke during a scene from Star Wars.

Anyway, I must confess that I tried to ignore these green globes instead of figuring out what to do with them...until today. I was at the house, alone~ a rarity for this mom of four~ and I decided to actually find out about kohlrabi. Googling is a wonderful thing as most people have already found out, and today's search yielded a world of kohlrabi information. I read that kohlrabi is an eastern European vegetable that is part of the cabbage family that can be used raw as well as cooked. I dove into my research a little further and found out that kohlrabi can also be roasted~ one of my favorite ways of cooking right now.

Looking through the rest of my veggie larder, I found some very pretty blue potatoes waiting to be boiled, mashed, stuck in a stew...or roasted! So, with no one else at home to make faces at the newest vegetable to hit the Keatley table, I chopped, drizzled, sprinkled and roasted some "out of this world" kohlrabi & blue potatoes. The smell during roasting was amazing and the taste once out of the oven was even better. Sign me up for more of this alien-looking vegetable anytime!!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Huckleberry Fields Forever...

We got back yesterday from our annual huckleberring/camping weekend up near Mt. Adams in Washington (about a three hour trip from Salem) with my best friend and her extended family. We've been doing the trip off and on for about 10 or so years~ except for the 4 years Ron and Shelly were in Malaysia being dorm parents at Dalat School. We always have such a good time, and this year was no exception!

It was interesting to realize this year that camping with young adults/teenagers is a lot different than camping with small kids. Even though I helped cook the entire weekend, the only person's hot drink I had to fix was my own. Ron- the banana boat (or u-boat) captain, ended up only having to show the kids the correct way to slice the banana for this campfire delicacy then was able to sit back and enjoy the fire instead of making a fleet of boats. The kids even helped clean up~ most of the time!

We never go hungry on these trips as we get together and plan at least a week before we go. This year Ron, Shelly and I (along with a little help from Mary) got together to plan the menu and dole out the ingredients to the various folks who would be joining us. This would be no ordinary outdoor fare, but food fit for a group of camping connoisseurs!

We would, of course, start our days with a hearty breakfast of huckleberry pancakes, eggs and breakfast meat- either sausage or bacon. I had brought a variety of hot beverages to share including what proved to be the most popular, Mannheim Steamroller cinnamon hot chocolate. Ron had brought his coffee press, so those of us who were craving a little java could imbibe to our heart's content. Lunch is always an adventure as we eat out by where we spend the day picking huckleberries. Sandwich fixings are taken in coolers along with chips, fruit and, of course, dessert. The cookie variety this year was almost mind-boggling! The Wests had outdone themselves with chocolate-peanut butter chip (made by Shelly), butterscotch sandies (provided by Chris) and brownies (baked by Gregory). There were also delicious monster cookies that Shelly's mom, Linda, had brought. It was hard to decide which were the favorites, but they all got eaten, so I'd say it was a draw!

Dinner is always so much fun to plan. This year we went with some new options than the normal fare. Ron made his chili (recipe to come as soon as I can get him to write it down for me) with which we had hot dogs and hamburgers~ with or (gasp) without chili.

Ron’s Chili

3 lbs Stew meat (chuck preferred)- cut into small chunks

½ lb ground pork

2 Tbl Flour

1 Tbl oil


1/3 cup dried minced onion

½ tsp garlic powder (divided)

1 can (14-15 oz) beef stock

2 cans (14-15 oz) chicken stock

1 8 oz cans tomato sauce

½ tsp cumin

1 4 oz can mild (or hot) green chilies

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded, deveined, and minced

1 tsp ground black pepper

3 Tbl chili powder


4 8 oz cans tomato sauce

¼ cup chili powder

2 Tbl New Mexico chili powder

2 Tbl Cumin

1 tsp garlic powder

½ Tbl brown sugar

Brown meat in oil and drain. Place in large pot or dutch oven and add seasoning ingredients. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer, covered for 1 ½ hours (stirring occasionally). Uncover, add the sauce ingredients and simmer, uncovered for another 1 ½ to 2 hours (stirring occasionally).

It was a good thing we made so many as the kids (and the rest of us) were really hungry after a day in the fields! We brought rotisserie chicken for Saturday night to be served with garlic bread, assorted salads and fresh corn on the cob. All the kids (anyone under 20) got to have a "cultural educational experience" by helping to shuck the corn.

My other recipe for the trip that you must try is not really a recipe at all. Ron shared how he always cooks corn, and I had never done it this way before. Just place about 1 1/2 inches of water in a large pan and bring to boil. Add shucked corn, standing it upright in the pot. Cook for 8 minutes. Serve however you like it~ we ate it with butter, salt and pepper. It was simple, yet totally perfect!

I have 6 or so quarts of huckleberries now waiting to be used in future treats. I plan on making scones, huckleberry swirls and buckle. I may even try the margarita/slushie recipe on of my friends sent. For now, it's just good to sit back knowing they will be waiting for me- both the berries in the freezer and the fields up at Mt. Adams.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Bruleed Creme Caramel French Toast

This is a wonderful breakfast, but it is NOT creme brulee french toast! I have searched and searched for a recipe that was already written- somewhere- but, alas, it was not to be! I've taken my french toast casserole and used a flan-type caramel on the bottom. I upped it one more step by sprinkling the top with more brown sugar then browning it with my lil' torch! So delicious, it almost tastes illegal!!
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar - divided
  • 2 Tbs. light corn syrup
  • Lg. Loaf - French Country Bread
  • 6 lg. eggs
  • 1 - 1/2 cups half & half
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 Tbs. Grand Marnier

  1. In a small heavy saucepan and over moderate heat, melt butter, 1 cup brown sugar and corn syrup.
  2. Stir until smooth and evenly pour the butter/sugar mixture into a 9”x13”x2” baking pan to cover the bottom of the pan.
  3. Slice bread into 1” cubes.
  4. Arrange the bread cubes in one layer to cover the bottom of the mixture you may need to squish the cubes together a little for everything to fit.
  5. In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs, half & half, vanilla, Grand Marnier and salt until combined.
  6. Pour or ladle the egg mixture evenly over the bread to ensure that all of the bread receives the egg mixture.
  7. Cover with plastic wrap and chill at least 8 hours or overnight in the refrigerator.
  8. In the morning, pre-heat the oven to 350°.
  9. Remove the bread mixture from the refrigerator and let sit on the counter for 20 minutes.
  10. Bake, uncovered, for 35 to 40 minutes or until puffed and the edges are golden brown.
  11. Sprinkle with remaining brown sugar. Either brown the top with a chef's torch or place in pre-heated broiler for 3-4 minutes until top is golden brown.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Never Go Up Against a Silcilian*...Pesto (adapted from Cooking Light)

1/2 cup pine nuts
6 elephant garlic cloves
8 cups basil leaves
1/2 extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
4 ounces Pecarino Romano cheese, cut into small cubes

~Heat a small skillet over medium. Add pine nuts; cook until lightly toasted, tossing occasionally. Remove from heat.
~Combine nuts and garlic in food processor bowl; process until minced. Add basil, olive oil, salt and pepper; process until blended, scraping sides occasionally. Add cheese; process until smooth.
~To Freeze: place 1/4 cup blobs of pesto on silpat-lined baking sheet and flash-freeze for approximately 2 hours. Remove blobs and place in ziploc bag. These can then be added to soups or hot pasta or microwaved for 20-30 seconds to put on slices of Italian bread~ umm!
*Those of you that know movies will obviously recognize this line from The Princess Bride, in which Vizzini tells the Dread Pirate Roberts "Never go up against a Silcilian when death is on the line"~ obviously, we Silcilians take our pesto seriously!!

Am I Being a Pest-o

I couldn't believe the change in the weather yesterday in Salem! We went from warm and muggy to cooler and muggy with rain all in the space of a few hours. This wasn't a huge surprise, as anyone who has lived here for more than a few months can tell you~ if you don't like the weather in the Willamette Valley, just wait a 10 minutes.

So, to get out of the house yesterday for a while, my husband asked if I'd like to go see Julie & Julia at one of the theatres here in town. I had totally loved reading My Life In France Julia Child as it had so many reasons to enjoy it~ the whole story was enchanting! On the other hand, I had only read the first two chapters of Julie & Julia as I was disappointed in the swearing and rabbit-trails that had to do with the author's friends relationships. Thankfully, the movie seemed to try to take the best parts of that book and much of My Life in France and intertwine them with fairly seamless continuity. My husband asked if I had cried at all to which I answered "well, of course" then he confessed he had gotten teary a few times just thinking about the passion that Julia Child had for food. The fact that we were spending a Tuesday afternoon at the movie theatre was part of the joy of being out~ it always feels a little self-indulgent to say goodbye to the teenagers at home and head off to someplace to be entertained for a few hours. Whether you get the opportunity to see it in the theatre or wait to watch on DVD, this is a movie for those of us who call ourselves "foodies"!

Of course, coming home afterwards having to make a couple of dishes for our Ecuador team reunion potluck made me immediately think of food when we left the theatre. I ended up making a tossed salad with ingredients from our wonderful CSA box that got delivered last Thursday. It's always fun for me to see what the folks at Gardenripe drop off since it's when I am at work. Last night's salad included romaine and mixed greens, fresh peas that I blanched right before adding, green beans that I had roasted the day before with some elephant garlic and shallots and a very pretty yellow summer squash. I took some homemade balsamic vinegarette and homemade ranch dressing, so people could choose which one they'd prefer on their salad. I also made a chocolate/cinnamon cake with a mocha icing.

The girls and I went to work out today and followed the workout with a trip to my favorite Salem grocery store- Salem Grocery Outlet on Lancaster Drive. It always makes me wonder why everyone doesn't shop here! They have the best prices on so many things, but even more exciting is finding stuff we've heard about but never tried. Today was "stock up" day for us as Cari has decided she wants to make & take her lunch to work instead of eating out (gee- what a concept). We found all kinds of wonderful bargains! The newest try is orange-strawberry mango yogurt from Rachel's. I am looking forward to trying it with some granola for breakfast tomorrow morning!

I've been trying to figure out some recipes to use some of the produce we've been getting, so this afternoon I made a batch of pesto. It's so much less expensive to make your own, and it's easy to pop in the freezer~ You can either put it into ice cube trays or just put 1/4 cup blobs on a silpat on a baking sheet. After freezing them for a couple of hours, the blobs are ready to be put into a ziploc bag and kept until you need them. Go get some basil and make some pesto~ come the middle of January you can pop some summer goodness over some pasta~ how good is that!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Pain du Chocolat a.k.a. chocolate bread

2 packages crescent rolls (just bear with me on this)
2 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate
1/4 cup butter
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
additional powdered sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Heat baking chocolate and butter in microwave until butter is melted. Stir until chocolate is melted too. (You can do this part over the stove in a small saucepan, but the microwave works well for this). Once chocolate/butter mixture is smooth, add 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, a little at a time and mix well. Stir in vanilla. Open crescent rolls and unroll each on an ungreased baking sheet. Place about a tablespoon of chocolate mixture on large end of triangle. Roll up and tuck corners of rolls underneath~ it should look like a small rectangle. Bake for 13-15 minutes or until rolls are golden brown. Dust tops with powdered sugar. Wait for 3-4 minutes until rolls have cooled slightly, then enjoy!

To Bake or Not To Bake

This past weekend was rather a lazy one for me~ or at least it felt like it most of the time as there were many opportunities to simply sit back and enjoy the blue sky and fluffy white clouds drifting by my gaze. Saturday morning found me up a little earlier than anticipated, no doubt thanks to Ruby- our wonderful but persistent black lab- who felt she must take the place of my alarm clock every morning, so she can go out to the yard for her morning constitutional. Anyway, I was up and having to decide whether or not to make breakfast. I choose not to, instead opting to wake up my husband (a momentous task all its' own) and convince him to take Mary and me to breakfast. After dropping off Joshua at the fencing salle for his morning work session, we headed to my new favorite place to break our fast. I have been to Word of Mouth Neighborhood Bistro a few times before, and I have yet to be disappointed. This time was no exception as I decided to take the plunge and try their "best of both worlds" which included a heaping serving of veggie hash AND prime rib hash as well as a couple of eggs (over medium, thank you) and a piece of delicious wheat toast. I had tried the veggie hash, but the prime rib was a new and most amazing taste for me. Generally, I am not a huge fan of prime rib, but I would eat it in their hash any day of the week!! Thankfully, I was able to spend a few hours working off my breakfast as I tended to the yard~ it had been woefully neglected while I was in Ecuador~ and I am sure some of the "extra" calories burned off!

Sunday morning came and along with it was the decision to bake something for breakfast before church or not. I decided to do a little kitchen "cheating" and make my version of pain du chocolat (or as my friend Lorie corrected me, "chocolate bread"). I don't usually make breakfast on Sunday mornings as we are rushing out the door, but being August, we didn't have to leave quite so early as there is no Sunday school during the month. Brian actually was up in time to not only put on a pot of coffee, but he helped me bake too (wonders will never cease)! With a hot cup of coffee and a couple of the pain du chocolat in front of me, I was ready for a great day~ no matter what it might hold!!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Chicken Empanadas

3 c. flour
2 tbsp. butter or shortening
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
1 c. water

Mix first 5 ingredients, add water, stir and knead into a dough. Roll out thin and cut into 5-inch circles. Fill with chicken filling given below. Fold dough over into half moons, sealing edges by pressing together. Fry in deep hot fat.


2 T. extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1/4 cup cilantro
1/2 cup fresh or frozen peas
1/2 cup carrot, chopped
1 lb. cooked and chopped chicken
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. cumin powder
1/4 tsp. cayenne

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, cilantro, peas and carrots. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until onion is translucent. Add chicken and seasonings. Cool before filling empanadas.

Comida es Muy Bien!!

Finally, after being home a week, I've got a few minutes to start sharing a little about our amazing trip to Ecuador! I know we didn't go for the food, but as many of you will realize, it is always part of whatever I do and wherever I get to travel- I'm sure most of you would say the same!!
Today's memory will be of our first evening in Macas. It is a lovely little town of about 30,000 people. I call it lovely because the smells, sights and smiles are forever part of my heart. We arrived in Macas in the afternoon on Sunday, July 12th after a rather bumpy ride in a 30-passenger airplane- of which our entire team took up the whole plane. It was probably pretty amazing to see the Andes as we flew over them, but I was relegated to the very back seat of the plane that unfortunately had no windows. 10 minutes into the air, and the flight attendant walked down the very narrow aisle with drinkable yogurt as well as a nice snack which I didn't partake in as a kindness to the team member who was sitting next to me willing herself (and praying) not to be ill during our 45 minute trip. Upon landing, we could feel the humidity and see the lushness of the area in full bloom. We had made it to Macas where we would be experiencing so many exciting things for 12 days~ including some of the most delicious food I have ever eaten!

Once checked in to our hotel, we headed to Emanuel Christian School for dinner and to look at the place we would be spending most of our waking hours for the next week and a half. We walked up the steps to the cafeteria which is very open and airy~ and very warm during the day as I would soon find out thanks to a metal roof. The kitchen crew~ Hermana Patricia and daughter Valeria (our breakfast cooks), Hermana Gina (our "jefe de cocina" or "chef of the kitchen") and Hermana Carmita ("jefe segundo" or "assistant chef") had put together a welcome dinner of empanadas filled with chicken and veggies that were absolutely amazing! The crust was flaky, the chicken tender, and the veggies were totally fresh. It was served with a salad that was as tasty and fresh as any found in the Willamette Valley during peak farmers' market months. I am not a huge chocolate milk/hot cocoa fan, but the chocolate beverage they served with dinner was just sweet enough and at the right temperature to set off the rest of the meal perfectly!

I know we were all hungry, but I also know there were very few leftovers that night. My Spanish is definitely lacking, but I did learn to tell our kitchen crew, "Comida es muy bien". It was one of many new food/cooking phrases I would get the opportunity to practice while on our trip. We went back to the hotel after spending a few hours getting ready for to start "Son Rock Kids Camp" the next day, excited and exhausted with both our appetites and our hearts growing and ready to take on more!!