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Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Blue Cheese Dip @ My Pantry ShelfOnce you fall in love with Brussels sprouts, it is impossible to get enough.  We eat them like candy at our house, or most of us do.  One child has chosen to shun these green meatballs for now- more for us!  While we enjoy them shaved in salads and sauteed with garlic, the best preparation in my opinion is to simply toss them in oil, season them with salt and pepper and roast in the oven.

Brussels Srouts and dip

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Blue Cheese Dip can be served as either an unexpected appetizer or a gratifying side dish.  The Brussels sprouts caramelize a bit in the oven and match beautifully with the blue cheese and yogurt dip.  The dish hits all the notes of a warm, savory, dippable treat, but without the guilt of fat and carbohydrates that so many appetizers carry.

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Fuyu Persimmon Salsa

December 30, 2012

Fuyu Persimmon Salsa from My Pantry ShelfSome people have all the luck, like a few weeks ago when I came home to a ginormous bag of Fuyu persimmons and Meyer lemons on my front porch.  I love each of these fruits and am lucky enough to have a friend who is happy to share the bounty from her trees.  Since then I have done my best to make a strong dent in the harvest, despite the fact that my family members have all opted out of the challenge.  After weeks of nibbling and a double batch of our long-time favorite Fuyu Persimmon Chutney failed to exhaust my fruit supply, I began to question my luck.  I cannot stand for food to go to waste, and yet there were just so many persimmons.  That is when it occurred to me that when life gives you just about any fruit, it is almost always a good idea to make salsa!

Fuyu Persimmon Salsa marries the slight sweetness of firm fleshed Fuyu persimmons with the savory goodness of garlic, a little heat from a spot of ginger, and a pop of acid from Meyer lemon.  While I would not turn down an opportunity to scoop this onto a crispy tortilla chip, this salsa is perhaps better paired with seared fish or roast chicken.  Its bright fresh flavors are just the thing to erase the memory of one (or more) too many Christmas cookies.

Do you have a favorite persimmon recipe?  If so, please share in the comments below!

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Giftable Granola

December 20, 2012

Giftable Granola from My Pantry ShelfGranola is a hot item in our house these days. Though its name may be the butt of jokes in some circles, granola deserves credit for being not only full of healthy whole foods, but also incredibly tasty. Perhaps if Santa had to choose, granola might end up on the nice AND the naughty list.

Giftable Granola is my favorite granola recipe. It is sweet with a touch of salt and packs an endearing crunch. It tempts as a mid-day snack and turns a bowl of fruit and yogurt into a great morning. The recipe is incredibly flexible, so feel free to add your own favorite nuts, seeds, and dried fruit. The granola keeps for weeks in a sealed container, but not at our house. This batch is mostly being bagged up and given to friends, an antidote to the ever-present indulgence that is December. Make a batch of this now for gifts, or save the recipe as a kick-off to your New Year’s resolution. I think you will love it.

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Thanksgiving Menu Guide

November 15, 2012

With Halloween behind us, we are officially hurtling towards the Thanksgiving.  For me that means it is time to get serious about meal planning.  While Thanksgiving is a time to enjoy time-honored dishes, each year I like to try something new as well.  Here a a collection of special occasion-worthy recipes from My Pantry Shelf that my family loves.  What is your favorite dish to make for Thanksgiving?  Tell us in the comments below.  Feel free to add a link to your recipes.

appetizers

Fuyu Persimmon Chutney

Fresh Herb Chevre

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Blue Cheese Dip @ My Pantry Shelf

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Blue Cheese Yogurt Dip

sides and salads

Acorn Squash Rings with Apple Glaze

Brussels Sprouts with Garlicky Bread Crumbs

Chipotle Black Bean and Butternut Squash Salad

Forbidden Rice and Green Onion Hearth Bread

Orange Quinoa with Almonds, Olives, and Feta

Roasted Beet and Hazelnut Salad with Feta

Shaved Brussels Sprout Slaw

Sweet Potato and Bacon Gratin

Stuffed Winter Squash with Rice and Sausage

dessert

Pumpkin Coconut Pudding

Satsuma Granita

Satsuma Granita

drinks

Cranberry Daiquiris

brunch

Bacon Breakfast Strata

Buckwheat Blueberry Pancakes

Easy Cranberry Bread

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Thanksgiving is never at our home.  Each year we alternate between my and my husband’s parents’ homes.  This holiday is decidedly my favorite.  I love the cool weather, the rustling of leaves, the family crammed into the kitchen to gossip, stir, and sip.   And of course the food.  Each of the homes we visit have special dishes that we love, but since each year we miss one of the homes, I like to make our favorites ahead of time so we do not miss out.

Stuffed Winter Squash with Rice and Sausage recipe is a take on my family’s traditional Thanksgiving stuffing.  My parents have hosted Thanksgiving every year for my entire life (and longer). Each year they put on an impressive spread with many mouth-watering dishes, but my favorite is by far the rice stuffing.   Inspired by their once neighbors and long-time friends, my parents early on shunned the bread stuffings they were raised on and adopted a rice version of the dish.  Wild rice baked along with flavorful Italian sausage, fresh vegetables and herbs to make a tasty, toothsome (not to mention gluten-free) side dish.  This stuffing is delicious baked in the bird or baked in a greased casserole dish, but love the look and taste of baking it in delicata squash halves.  It also makes for very tidy serving.  The stuffing can be made ahead a day or two and kept covered in the refrigerator or a couple of weeks ahead and kept in the freezer.  Wait to stuff the squash halves until the day of baking.  One of the squash boats is a generous serving, perfect if it is your main side dish. If you are serving it with many side dishes, such as on Thanksgiving, they neatly cut in half.

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If any week is screaming for comfort food, it is this one.  In my life, I am facing a grading deadline (I teach high school science when I’m not cooking), parent conferences crammed into any and every spare hour, and a nail-biter of an election.  Yes, the presidential election has my nerves on end, but honestly the biggest concern on my mind is California’s Proposition 30.

As an educator and parent of children in public schools, I know first hand the drastic cuts that California schools have made over the last five years.  The passage of Proposition 30 does not make things much better, but it prevents further cuts to the already ravaged district budgets.  The other day, a few students approached me about the upcoming elections.  They had engaged in spirited mock democracy in their history classes, their faces aglow with hope and pride in our civic opportunities.  We discussed that our district, backed against the wall, may be forced to end the school year three weeks early (among other extreme measures) if Prop 30 does not pass.   No, these kids did not dance and dream at the thought of a longer vacation, they went gray with the realization they may not be able to finish the year.  They want to attend school.  They know they engage in valuable learning and skill-building at school and that 15 days out of each of their classes puts them at a huge disadvantage.  Every district in California is facing some similar extreme measure.   This is the heartbreak of the school funding crisis.  Yes, economies and tax codes are complex, but when funding is denied to schools, it is the students who lose every time.  School children cannot vote.  It is our responsibility to represent their interests!  So Tuesday, get out to vote.  And if you can read this, thank your parents’ generation who approved taxes to fund the public schools that gave you and your peers the opportunity to learn.

Saucy Sausage and Eggplant over Polenta is a simple, comforting dish with fresh, rich flavors from the Roasted Tomato Sauce with Fennel.  Having a batch of the sauce in the freezer makes this dinner come together in no time.  You could certainly make this dish with your own favorite marinara sauce.  To save time, cook the polenta slow on the stove top, while you put together the sausage and eggplant.  Then sit back, pour a glass of wine, and wait for the election results to roll in…

Please share this post with other voters and lovers of comfort food!

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Habañero Pepper Jelly

October 27, 2012

The rains came this week and called the official end to summer.  The cool weather came a bit late if you ask me, our sweaters and socks, not to mention our umbrellas, were looking mighty lonely. We picked our last lug of peppers just in time, hauling in a respectable bounty before the soaking.  Our pepper plants have nearly given us more peppers than we know what to do with, or than we would know if we were not busy making all sorts of yummy pepper dishes every few days.  There was no question of how to prepare this last harvest of peppers.  For the last year there has been a habañero pepper-sized hole on my pantry shelf (and in my heart- sigh).  Before you jump to judgement and label me as a dramatic preserved foodaphile, let me explain.  I started making a version of this jelly years ago.  In the early days of our relationship, my husband and I would make whole meals out of Swedish crisp bread topped with cream cheese and pepper jelly.  It was so good, we dubbed it “THE snack”.  It became a staple in our pantry and our diet.  For some reason, I never got around to making it last summer, so there was sweet relief in filling the pantry void with this jeweled treat.

Sweet, tart, and spicy, Habañero Pepper Jelly is nearly irresistible.  Habañero peppers have a robust flavor that infuses the jelly, but they are very spicy.  For this batch, I used a combination of semi-hot Hungarian wax peppers and a handful of habañeros.  There is a serious kick.  More often I pair the spicy habañeros with sweet bell peppers.  Of course, you can add whichever kinds of peppers you wish.  Not a fan of the heat?  It is fine to use only sweet peppers.  The only guideline is to try to use peppers that are in the same color range.  I once tried to use green, yellow, and red peppers and the result was a murky brown jelly.  Serve this jelly with a cheese course (great with goat cheese, brie, or cream cheese- a sharp cheddar is good too).  The jelly adds a serious kick to a simple grilled cheese or spread it on a turkey sandwich.  Come to think of it, this would be a wonderful hostess gift for Thanksgiving.  This recipe is all the reason you need to run out to the Farmers’ Market today to snatch up the last of the fall peppers.  You will not be disappointed.

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