A Pot Pie That Isn’t A Brick

Vegetable Pot Pie

Pot pies.  That term does not stir up pleasant images in my head.  Thick pies of lead is what I see.  This image was not improved upon when I began my fast food career in high school.  There is nothing behind those counters that makes your mouth water and pot pies are certainly no exception.  I’ll leave at that, only saying that twenty pound tubs of butter are gross.

Vegetable Pot Pie

I don’t think we ever did the pot pie thing in my family and, to be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever had one.  The weather here has been pretty nice for November but every now and then it dips down and I want something warm and hearty.  Having nothing to really go on with regard to what a pot pie should be, I decided to just go with what I would want out of a pot pie: strong presence of veggies with something that doesn’t make me feel like I ate a brick.

Vegetable Pot Pie

Vegetable Pot Pie

Any pie crust (flaky, biscuit, etc)
3 pounds yellow onion; sliced in halves
5 ounces butternut squash; cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 ounces broccoli; cut into small floret pieces
1 carrot cut into 1/2 inch half slices
1/2 cup peas
1/2 cup corn
1/2 cup cream (heavy, light, your choice)
1/2 vegetable stock
1 tablespoon dried marjoram

Prepare a 9 inch pie pan with your crust and set aside. Preheat the oven to 400.

Saute the onion under medium high heat with 1 table spoon of oil until browned, stirring only occasionally; approximately 6 minutes. Move to a large mixing bowl and season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Saute the squash and carrots in two teaspoons of oil for 3-4 minutes until browning and add to bowl of onions. Saute the broccoli, corn and peas in one tablespoon oil for two minutes then add the vegetables back to the pan. Toss to mix, and the cream, stock, marjoram and mix together. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Fill the pie pan with your vegetables and either top with more crust or sprinkle with cheddar. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until the crust (or vegetables) have become browned or crisp. Serve and enjoy.

Hello everyone!  The weather in DC is totally screwing with me lately; fluctuating from cold to chilly to pleasant in a matter of days.  My culinary barometer doesn’t know whether or not it should be pointing in the root and squash vegetables of winter or forge on with the lighter meals of summer.  I’ve decided to let time being the deciding factor.

All the essentials

Work has been craaaazy lately, with over time becoming the norm rather than the exception.  A bit frustrating at times but with a recent automobile “incident” and Christmas just around the corner, the extra cash is appreciated.  (And yes, we have begun planning Bake-A-Thon 2009!)

Being the cheapskate I am, I rarely work with fresh herbs.  With a gift of some potted plants I’ve been trying to turn that around.  Ever worked with dill?  I don’t think I have.  The most exposure I’ve had to the stuff is snickering at the local  grocery store while reading the dried herb container labeled “Dill Weed”.  (hah!  still cracks me up)  It’s a hard flavor to describe, reminding me a bit like a mild cilantro but also maybe parsley like.  I also had a brief flash of cucumber!  The lemon and garlic, however, kick its influence up.

Romaine with Lemon Dill Dressing

Lemon Dill Dressing
Add this to a simple salad of lettuce; perhaps with carrots or scallions.

1 tablespoon fresh dill fronds; chopped
1 garlic clove; minced
Juice of one lemon (approximately 2 tablespoons)
1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil

Combine and enjoy!

Man, I love Halloween.  Georgetown was a blast as always and there were some really original cool costumes.  My inspector gadget was quite successful, with random strangers yelling “Inspector Gadget” as I walked by.  The extra hour was well spent, livin’ it up until it was time to pass out (not booze related).  Good times!  I’m already plotting next year’s costume (Mad Hatter, maybe?).

Fingerling Potatoes and Rosemary

I was walking the produce aisles of my local Trader Joe’s, which is conveniently located near the local library I go to on the weekends to actually get some work done, when I came across some fingerling potatoes.  The first thought that popped into my head was “fun size potatoes”.; followed quickly by my second thought “Man, these would make great fingers for a Halloween recipe”.  Next year.

Sliced Fingerling Pototoes

Potatoes can take a while to cook even when chopped, so the size of these is rather convenient for during-the-work-week cooking.  Pay heed to the instructions about the pot or pan used.   Stock takes a while to reduce (as does wine and just about anything else you’re going to reduce), so you really want something with a lot of surface area.  This will up the rate of reduction while still allowing all your potatoes to be immersed.

Overall, I liked this. I may experiment with some fresh thyme next time…

Rosemary and Garlic Fingerling Potatoes

Rosemary and Garlic Fingerling Potatoes

4-5 teaspoons olive oil
1 onion; chopped (I went with larger pieces than I normally go)
4 garlic cloves; minced
1 tablespoon butter
Leaves from one sprig of rosemary; coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon salt or more to taste
2.5-3 cups stock (vegetable or chicken)
1-1.5 lb fingerling potatoes; sliced lengthwise

Saute your onion in oil under medium-high until browned; approximately 5 minutes. Add all your remaining ingredients but the potatoes and cover to bring to a boil. Once boiling, add your potatoes, cover again and bring to a “strong simmer” or “weak boil” (I have no idea if these are valid culinary terms). Let it stay like this to reduce your stock; approximately 20-30 minutes.

When close to all the liquid being gone, raise your heat to medium/medium-high. What you’re going for is some light browning on one side of your potatoes. Be sure to watch it at this phase because it’s very easy to burn it if it sits too long! Once the one side has begun to brown, toss and cook it like you were sauteing it. When well browned all around (rhyme!), remove from heat and serve.

If you used a non-stick pot/pan and you have some burnt stuff on the bottom, never fear. Simply deglaze and add to your potatoes for an even richer taste. Enjoy.

Detoxing from Halloween with Acorn Squash & Sweet Potato Soup

Good morning! I hope you had a great Halloween. I spent much of the day watching scary movies, reformatting my computer from Vista to Windows 7 and going to bed by 10:30 PM in order to be up at 5 AM for an early hospital shift – riveting, I know!


You’ve probably had enough of Halloween candy and sweets for a little while (I haven’t, but the scale says otherwise), so this recipe should help if you need some detox along the way.

scoopedseedspost roasting

The other day I made an Acorn Squash & Sweet Potato Soup. It’s a little bit sweet and very tasty. It would make a great appetizer soup for a Thanksgiving dinner party to introduce the meal, or you can have it for weeknight dinner and enjoy the leftovers for a few more nights (like my husband and I did).


I changed a few things from the original recipe including leaving out shallots and chives. Because the squash and sweet potato would already be sweet, I didn’t want to introduce the sweet onion shallot flavor as well. Shallots can also be a little expensive.


I’d never worked with acorn squash before this actually, and it’s very easy. My trick to scoop out the insides after roasting the squash was to use a melon baller – the squash flesh came apart easily and without a lot of mess.


Sprinkle with fresh ground pepper to garnish.


Acorn Squash & Sweet Potato Soup
adapted from Pumpkins & Squashes

1 large sweet potato
1 medium acorn squash
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 cloves garlic, unpeeled
3 3/4 cups low sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup light cream
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375F.

Cut sweet potato and squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out squash seeds and brush cut sides with oil

Place cut squash and sweet potato halves cut-side down in a shallow roasting pan (I used an old brownie pan). Add unpeeled garlic cloves around the vegetables. Roast for 40 minutes until tender.

When cool, pin down one end of the squash with a fork and scoop flesh (ie, the insides) from potato and squash with a melon baller, leaving the skins behind. Peel garlic and add soft insides and scooped flesh to a large saucepan.

Add the chicken broth and a dash of salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, for approximately 30 minutes, until vegetables are very tender. Stir occasionally.

Cool slightly and transfer to a food processor or blender and process until smooth. Work in batches so that you do not overflow your machine. If using a food processor, strain off the cooking liquid and reserve. Process the veggies with only enough liquid to moisten it, then combine with remaining liquid when fully processed.

Return soup to rinsed pan and stir in light cream. Season with salt and pepper and simmer for 5 minutes or until heated through. Garnish as desired and serve!\

Day 4 of Halloween Week – Eyeball stew!

I came up with my costume for halloween! I have decided on Inspector Gadget. I must say I’m quite proud of my stroke of genius. Costumes from your past really are the way to go, if you ask me. I went as the chef from the Muppets a few years back and it was a blast. Of course, last year’s Calvin (Calvin & Hobbes) was not so successful, but I attribute that largely to the fact that my hair wasn’t yellow so much as it was green. Curses!

Eww Split Pea (Slime) Soup

Work has been crazy these past few weeks. I started a new project which I really enjoy (for the most part) but right now I feel like one of those babies you throw in the water to “teach” to swim. This week, for example, I have worked 32 hours and talk of coming in on Saturday has already come up! This, unfortunately, has eaten into my culinary (therapy) time.


I really wanted to make a “blood soup” for theme week (I’m sure your mouths are watering), perhaps something along the lines of a borscht but with less cream, but there was too much left to chance. With my limited free time I needed something I had more confidence in so I turned to the noble yet somewhat unloved green split-pea. These things, when pureed look gross enough by themselves. But with eyeballs? Yuck!

I tried using olive slices with no luck as they easily fell out during cooking. I recommend using whole olives instead. With these you can put them in before or after cooking, if no one minds you handling their food (or they don’t know!). 😛

Eyeball Slime Soup

Eyeball Slime Soup

Make split pea soup from just about any recipe where it’s primarily composed of the peas (not a lot of other colorful veggies). Be conservative on the water for a thicker (slimier) consistency.

After rolling dumpling batter into balls, press whole olives in them. Be sure they’re in their well, repressing the batter in so it secure and well formed. Cook as usual. Place your “eyeballs” in your soup and enjoy!

I never saw the movie Ratatouille when it came out, despite its rave reviews and the insistence of my friends. “You love food! Why haven’t you seen it!?” Add it to the long long list of movies I’ve never gotten around to. After insisting I see the movie, many people insisted I make the actual dish it’s named after, believing the veggie maniac in me would love it. Oh, how little they know me!

Anti-Zucchini Ratatouille With Rice

The dish in the movie was not actually ratatouille (gasp!). It was in fact a dish called confit byaldi, which is a variation of the original French dish (actually, it’s a variation of the classic confit byaldi, so really it’s a variation of a variation, but I digress). There were a bunch of tweaks here and there to the recipe but one of the most notable for me was the prominent role zucchini played. Summer squash and I, we’re not friends. You add that sucker to just about any dish and it’s a good chance it’ll ruin it for me. I once made a vegetarian chili with a good deal of this foul ingredient and it was so bad I had to throw it out (and I hate wasting food).

Mmmm Veggies

I do, however, enjoy winter squashes; being far less bitter than their warm weather counterparts. I decided to try a variation because the idea of a meal so rich in delicious vegetables was very enticing. So I threw in acorn squash and while I was at it I replaced the juicier tomatoes with cherry tomatoes (which, I acknowledge, is a bit of a pain in the butt to chop when you have a pound of them) so the individual ingredients could have a chance to express themselves. Maybe it’s just me, but often I feel like tomato sauce is just too strong to play nicely with mild flavors. Don’t like your meatloaf? Drown it in ketchup!

Buncha Cherry Tomatoes

I was pretty pleased with the results, though I doubt this could be considered any more authentic than the movie version. The vegetables definitely kept their identity and the versatility of this dish is a big plus. You can use it as a side, the main course, over rice, over couscous… If you prefer a more “wet” dish, just replace the cherry tomatoes with plum or canned.

Onion and Cherry Tomatoes Anti-Zucchini Ratatouille

Anti-Zucchini Ratatouille

1 eggplant; chopped into 1/2-1 inch cubes
1 acorn squash; cut into fourths
2 bell peppers of any kind (I recommend at least one sweet: red, yellow, orage)
1 lb cherry tomatoes; chopped
2 onion; chopped
4 garlic cloves; minced
Leaves from one sprig of thyme; chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 bay leaf.

Preheat the oven to 450. Place your eggplant in a bowl with about 4 tablespoons of oil and a teaspoon of salt (this is approximate, assuming a pound of eggplant) and mix to combine. Spread onto baking sheets so they have a little space between them. Using a brush (or your hands), lightly coat the acorn squash with olive oil and place in its own baking pan. Deseed and cut in half your beller peppers and place in their own baking pan. Roast everything for 15-20 minutes until the bell pepper skins are beginning to loosen. Leave the acorn squash in for another 10-15 minutes until the flesh is tender. Let everything cool until it can be handled.

Chop the bell peppers and place in a bowl along with the eggplant. After removing the skin from the squash, chop and add to the bowl. Set aside.

In a large (LARGE. Everything’s gonna end up in this sucker) pan under low to medium low heat, cook your onions and garlic with the herbs and spices with two tablespoons of oil until the onions are very soft; approximately 8-10 minutes. You’re cooking under low heat to avoid browning, so be sure to watch and stir on occasion.

Add the tomatoes, raise the temperature oh so slightly and cook until the tomatoes have begun to soften but still have their shape; approximately 10 minutes. Add your bowl of vegetables along with the salt and pepper to taste. Cook to reduce some of the liquid out and so that all the ingredients have a chance to mingle; approximately 10 minutes. Remove from heat, server and enjoy.

Pesto Pizza (hold the milkshakes… please)!


You know those crazy people who don’t like sauce on their pizza (cough-my husband’s sister-cough)? Well this one’s for you!

pesto and tomatowith cheese

Remember the other week when Morgan and I went to a neat gourmet store/cafe in Charlottesville called Feast? Well we also bought a little jar of basil pesto.


I have a great memory of going out late for food one night with a friend in college – for some reason we thought pesto pizza washed down with giant milkshakes at midnight was a great idea. We were wrong (dead wrong), but that doesn’t mean pesto pizza isn’t delicious!


Pesto Pizza

1 ball of dough
1 jar of basil pesto or make your own (see recipe links below)
1 tomato
1 cup of freshly grated mozarella
a little bit of oil and a bit of flour

We bought a delicious and inexpensive bag of pizza dough at Chandler’s Bakery in Charlottesville.

If you have a pizza stone, preheat the oven with the stone in there to 525F. Flour a baking sheet and roll out the dough – preferably on a baking sheet that will make it easy to transfer the pizza to the stone (that’s always the hardest part!).

Drizzle a small bit of oil on the dough and then spread your basil pesto over it. It doesn’t take much pesto, maybe 1/4 cup for a medium size pizza. If you’d like to make your own, I recommend 101 Cookbooks’ recipe; Simply Recipes also has one but I haven’t tried it.

Slice the tomato and then cut the slices in half (I hate it when you bite into a piece of tomato but can’t bite through it all the way… let’s just go bite-sized!). Spread the slices over the pizza. Grate your mozzarella and sprinkle gingerly over the tomatoes.

Pull out the oven rack as far as you can, and get another person to help you carefully transfer the pizza to the stone. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown.

Potato Skins

I was browsing the foodie blogosphere for some outside inspiration when I came across this delicious looking recipe from Kristin over at Picky Cook. I’m quite fond of broccoli so this was right up my alley.

I upped the veggies (of course. hey, broccoli was on sale) a bit and gave up a bit more of a broil for more of a burn; what I expect from a good bar potato skin. Other than not giving the potatoes enough of an initial bake (making it harder to hollow out and mash), they turned out great! If you’re looking for more potato skin ideas, check out Heather’s recipe with rutabaga.

Doing Our Part – Blueberry Vinaigrette

This Saturday I participated in a park cleanup project for National Public Lands Day.  The Access Fund and Mid Atlantic Climbers helped organize a series of necessary work at Carderock Park in Maryland.  The group was comprised mostly of climbers which made it a great event to meet some new fellow adventurers for hitting the rocks.  Together we re-mulched all the trails, restored the shoreline walls, and covered misleading false trails.  It was great, but exhausting work.  Though I would like to say that Boca burgers suck and are a crime against vegetarians everywhere!

Mulching At Adopt A Crag Heavy Lifting At Adopt A Crag

Frozen blueberries were on sale this week so I couldn’t resist (they go great in smoothies, by the way).  The weather’s been really great so far so for me light dinners are still in and I decided to try something different for a vinaigrette using these newly acquired berries.  I have to admit, the result didn’t blow me away but it was a nice change.  If you’ve got any suggestions or ideas, throw em my way.

Blueberries Blueberry Vinaigrette

Blueberry Vinaigrette

1/2 cup fresh blueberries (or if frozen, thawed)
1 shallot; chopped
1 garlic clove; chopped
1/4 white wine vinegar
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup olive oil
Pinch of salt

Combine all your ingredients in your blender. Enjoy.

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