Monday, September 19, 2011

Buh Bye Blogger

While I've enjoyed the ease of use at, for a variety of reasons Vermont Foodie has now moved to I hope to see you there!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Returned (with a Side of Macaroni and Cheese)

I originally started this blog in 2009 as part of a CSA group sharing tips and recipes through blogging. I loved that summer. The fresh produce weekly (not to mention the local Vermont breads, cheeses and maple creams among other goodies), always a bag bursting with surprises, challenging me to make the most of what I had received, was truly a bright spot in every week. For a variety of reasons, I only participated in the CSA for one summer. But my appetite and thirst (ha! food words) for cooking have never diminished, but are ruled by the time I have available and my energy reserves (yes, I have kids. Two of them. Highly energized. Really energetic. A lot.). But I've been missing the blog lately. I've been missing the process of finding and trying new recipes, seeking out ingredients that aren't my 'normal' shopping list and trying to find wholesome dishes that my kids will actually eat and my husband and I will enjoy.

Moscow, Vermont 8/11
Fall does this to me, too. One sniff of a pumpkin spice latte (hm, I think I may need one tomorrow morning, actually), apple cake or mulled cider, and I melt like chocolate. I've always had a special place in my heart for Fall (I even got married in late September).  Autumn is all about the senses. The vision of foliage, glowing maroon, gold (go Eagles), amber and sienna in the weakening sunlight.  The rustle of leaves underfoot on a crisp day.  The aroma of wood burning fires, cinnamon wafting from warmed ovens.  Being only early September, we are just starting to get hints of early Autumn in Vermont. But - it's just enough for me to get the oven warmed up and start hunting for comfort dishes that help make my house a home. Here's one of the first of the season from my house.

Crusty Macaroni and Cheese
From the New York Times

Honestly, crusty is not my favorite word. But it is appropriate for this dish. My grandmother used to fry neat little piles of shredded cheese in a frying pan as a snack. The topping on this dish is directly reminiscent of that treat.  I'm partial to Cabot cheddar, particularly the seriously sharp kind, because Cabot is not only a great Vermont company but also because it, well, tastes delicious (try a simple grilled sharp cheddar and bacon on homemade bread and you'll see what I mean).  This dish isn't your creamy, processed cheese variety of mac and cheese, but it is rich with a satisfying chew to the top layer.

My picky three-year-old gobbled this up (my six-year-old will require a few more tries). As you will see, you don't even need to make a bechamel sauce for this mac and cheese, which was originally what attracted my over-extended self to the recipe.  To up the nutritional content (is it even worth trying when there are 24 ounces of cheese?), I use Ronzoni SmartTaste pasta, higher in fiber and lower in calories. This choice is leftover from my days on Weight Watchers where fiber is king. Tomorrow might actually be a Weight Watchers day.  The recipe calls for whole milk, which I'm not in the habit of stocking on a regular basis. I'm willing to make an exception, though, for a cool, rainy early September day.

3 tablespoons butter
12 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese, coarsely grated
12 ounces American or cheddar cheese (I used cheddar, because I LOVE cheddar), coarsely grated
1 pound elbow pasta, boiled in salted water until just tender, drained, and rinsed under cold water
1/8 teaspoon cayenne (optional)
2/3 cup whole milk

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Use one tablespoon butter to thickly grease a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Combine grated cheeses and set aside two heaping cups for topping.

In a large bowl, toss together the pasta, cheeses, cayenne (if using) and salt to taste. Place in prepared pan and evenly pour milk over surface.  Sprinkle reserved cheese on top, dot with remaining butter and bake, uncovered, 45 minutes.  Raise heat to 400 degrees and bake 15 to 20 minutes more, until crusty on top and bottom.

8 to 12 servings.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Whole Wheat Apple Muffins

I'll try not to say it too often over the next months (although I can't really make any promises), but I absolutely love Fall. Living in New England, it's almost impossible not to get excited about the crisp bite in the air, the beautiful landscapes and the seasonal fall festivals, craft shows and leaf peeping.

Right now, that means apples. We've consistently had at least a dozen apples in the house at any given moment over the past couple of weeks, and we're barely into apple season. My kids and I, though, take this as an open invitation to get creative in the kitchen. My 4-year old son and I did just that with moist, sweet apple muffins, capped off with a crunchy brown sugar topping. We split the batter between 12 regular size tins and 12 mini muffin tins so that he could take some to preschool for snack. Probably the best part of the process for my son was using the apple "machine," my peeler/corer. It's a great time-saver, but also a great way to get kids excited about eating apples.

I found the recipe on, yet another blogging site I recently discovered through a friend. The recipe is originally from King Arthur Flour, a Vermont company (and the oldest flour company in the U.S.) that really does it right. Their flours are free of additives and they are involved in a lot of community projects. And they come up with great recipes, as their Whole Wheat Apple Muffin recipe proves.

Whole Wheat Apple Muffins
From King Arthur Flour, via

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
1 T cinnamon
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed (I used light brown sugar)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 cup buttermilk (I used 1 T vinegar + enough milk to make 1 cup = good substitute)
2 large apples, peeled, cored, and coarsely chopped

Preheat the oven to 450. Grease and flour 18 muffin cups and set aside.

Mix together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon, and set aside. In a separate bowl, cream the butter and add the granulated sugar and 1/4 cup of the brown sugar. Beat until fluffy. Add the egg and mix well; stop once to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. Mix in the buttermilk gently. (If you over-mix, the buttermilk will cause the mixture to curdle.) One note - I could not get the buttermilk to combine, so I started adding the flour, which worked well. Stir in the dry ingredients and fold in the apple chunks.

Divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups, sprinkling the remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar on top. Bake for 10 minutes, turn the heat down to 400, and bake for an additional 5 to 10 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Cool the muffins for 5 minutes in the tin, then turn them out onto a wire rack to cook completely.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Bolognese Sauce

When I dove into Twitter last spring, I realized immediately that the social network is a goldmine for foodies. One of the sites that I became enamored with was Bakerella (Queen of the cake pops!), a treasure trove of creative recipes and incredible photography (some people call this food porn). The first night I discovered her site, I spent hours scrolling through the photographs wishing I had the foodie genius to come up with recipes like she does. A few blog posts detailed Bakerella's visit to the Pioneer Woman, and I was all at once introduced to another culinary maven, a woman named Ree who lives in the country and clearly has a zest for life. While Bakerella (real name unknown) focuses primarly on sweet treats, the Pioneer Woman posts a lot of recipes for hearty cooking. Which made her site the perfect match for me tonight, because I was specifically looking for a top-notch bolegnese sauce recipe. Not a meat sauce, not a marinara with ground beef. Bolognese.

One side note: I served my pasta bolognese alongside a vegetable from my CSA I had never laid eyes on before. Turns out it was romanesca cauliflower. It looked unlike any cauliflower I've eaten before (actually quite beautiful in its own way), but tastied very similar to the grocery-variety. Unfortunately, that meant my kids still didn't want to eat it. Maybe next time!

Bolognese Sauce
From The Pioneer Woman

1-1/2 cups grated carrots
1 large red onion, divided
1/2 cup olive oil
2 pounds ground beef
2 T oregano flakes
2 T dried basil flakes
1 6-oz can tomato paste
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 to 2 cups red wine
2 T Worcestershire
2 28-oz cans whole tomatoes
1 cup milk
Fresh Parmesan cheese

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven or skillet over medium heat. Add grated carrots and onions and cooke for a few minutes. Make a well in the center of the mixture, then add in the ground beef. Cook for a few minutes until brown, gradually stirring it into the carrot mixture. Throw in oregano and basil. Use fresh if you have it; fine if you don't.

When the meat is browned and combined with other ingredients, make another well. Add tomato paste and let it heat. Add garlic and stir to combine.

Make a well in the center of the mixture and add red wine. Stir together. Add Worcestershire and stir. Add canned tomatoes.

Finally, pour in milk, stir, and let simmer for 30 minutes-2 hours. However long you need. Serve with pasta and a generous sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.

I don't have a photo of my final sauce, because all I wanted to do was eat it! But trust me, the step-by-step photos on Pioneer Woman are drool-inducing.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Corn Chowder with Chicken and Buttermilk Biscuits

Continuing the soup kick that permeated my summer, I could not resist the opportunity to use some of my CSA corn for a chowder. Also, I had two large bulbs of fennel, and I read that fennel can be a great addition to soup. Finally, I had both carrots and celery from my CSA, so really, how could I not make some kind of soup?

Homemade chowder is a little tricky for me, though, because I cannot bring myself to purchase any dairy product creamier than 1% (and the 1% was a compromise with my husband - I would really prefer skim). It takes a really special ganache for me to bring out the heavy cream.

Luckily, has an amazing chowder recipe that can use any type of milk (and also uses bacon fat, but somehow I don't have the same reservation about bacon fat...). The way this chowder slowly simmers with an amazing assortment of hearty flavors (bacon, carrot, celery, bay leaf) creates a really flavorful soup.

To me, a hearty, savory soup is not complete without some kind of bread. Tonight, that bread was biscuits. While I periodically have buttermilk in the fridge, I don't keep it as a staple since I can't go through a container fast enough. However, a few years back my mother-in-law let me in on a little secret: powdered buttermilk. Is it as good as the real thing? Not quite. Would I use it in buttermilk pancakes: in a pinch, but don't expect pancakes quite as fluffy and rich. Nonetheless, it works in biscuits! So biscuits we had.

Corn Chowder with Chicken
Adapated from

1 T unsalted butter
1 strip of bacon or 1 t of bacon fat (sub 1/2 T butter for vegetarian)
1/2 large yellow onion, chopped (about 1/2 cup) I was out of onion and substituted fennel, which could also be added with the onion
1/2 large carrot, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1/2 celery stalk, chopped (about 1/3 cup)
3 ears sweet corn, kernels removed from the cobs (about 2 cups), cobs reserved
1 bay leaf
3-1/2 cups milk, whole or low fat
1 medium Yukon Gold potato, or Ruesset, peeled and diced I was out of potato, and it was fine without!
1/4 red bell pepper, chopped (about 1/4 cup)
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
1/2 t fresh thyme leaves
Leftover chicken to taste

In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the bacon strip and fry until the bacon renders its fat, but doesn't begin to brown, 3 or 4 minutes. Add the onion (and/or fennel) and saute for 4 to 5 minutes, until soft. Add the carrot and celery and cook for 4 or 5 more minutes.

Break the corn cobs in half and add them to the saucepan. Add the milk and boy leaf. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a bare simmer. Cover the pot and cook for 30 minutes. Make sure the heat is as low as can be and still maintain a gentle simmer to prevent scalding the milk.

Discard the cobs, the bacon strip, and the bay leaf. Raise the heat, add the potatoes (if using), red pepper, 1 t of salt, fresh ground pepper, bring to a simmer and reduce heat to maintain a simmer for 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are fork tender.

Raise the heat, add the corn kernels, thyme and leftover chicken. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 5 minutes.

Serves 4

Buttermilk Biscuits
From SACO Foods

4 T SACO buttermilk blend
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 t baking powder
1 t salt
1/2 t baking soda
2 t granulated sugar
1/3 cup solid shortening (I used butter. Shortening will make for a flakier biscuit, though)
2/3 cup water

Preheat oven to 450. In large mixing bowl, sift together dry ingredients. Cut in shortening thoroughly until mixture resembles corn meal. Add water and mix until dough is pliable. Do not overbeat. Turn dough onto lightly-floured surface and knead for about 30 sec (20 to 25 times). Roll or pat 1/2 inch thick, no less. Cut with floured biscuit cutter. Place close together on ungreased baking sheet. Bake 10 to 12 minutes, or until golden brown. Makes one dozen 2-1/2 inch biscuits.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Earlier this year I discovered a site,, that I have come to rely on for all types of baking recipes. I've made quite a few of their recipes at this point, and have not been disappointed. In fact, their Lemon Tart recipe still stands as my favorite dessert of the Summer of 2009.

I visited again recently looking for a good oatmeal cookie recipe. Earlier this summer I received a 5-pound bag of oats from my CSA. I've slowly been working through it (including bringing it to Maine and back on vacation), but I'm finding now that fall weather is descending upon New England, I'm finding a lot of great recipes that call for oats. One warning (which really applies to any cookie recipe using butter) - I over-softened the butter in this batch, so the final product spread more than it should have. One other note... forgot to take a picture of the final product! (Possibly related to my butter error? No, never....):

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup walnuts or pecans, toasted and chopped (optional)
3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 t pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1/2 t ground cinnamon
3-cups old fashioned rolled oats
1 cup chocolate chips (I used semi-sweet; other options are white or dark chocolate chips, dried cranberries, cherries, or raisins)

To toast nuts: Preheat oven to 350 and toast nuts 8-10 minutes until lightly browned and fragrant. Let cool and chop into pieces. Set aside.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), cream the butter and sugar until creamy and smooth (about 2-3 minutes). Add the egg and vanilla exract and beat to combine. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, and ground cinnamon. Add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture and beat until incorporated. Stir in the nuts, oats, and dried cranberries or chocolate chips.

For large cookies, use 1/4 cup of batter and space the cookies about 2 inches apart on the baking sheet. Then wet your hand and flatten the cookies slightly with your fingers so they are about 1/2 inch thick. Bake the cookies for about 12-15 minutes at 350 degrees, or until light golden brown around the edges but still soft and a little wet in the centers. Remove from oven and let the cookies cool a few minutes on the baking sheet before transferring them to a wire rack to cool.

Makes about 20-24 large cookies

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Summer Sides: Baked Beans and Pasta Salad

Admittedly, I haven't been doing as much from-scratch cooking in the past few weeks as I would prefer (thank running my own consulting business and watching my kids for that - wait, did I say that exact same thing last week?). At any rate, during these stretches I'm a big fan of short-cut cooking, which I realize is a little bit cheating. (For more on this, check out Michael Pollan's July 29, 2009 New York Times article Out of the Kitchen, Onto the Couch.) Despite the affect I may be having on the decline on American cooking, sometimes it's just a reality. And the reality I was faced with this week was onions.

Lots of onions.

So I turned to one of my favorite summer side dish recipes, Molasses Baked Beans, which I knew would use at least some onion. The ingredients I used weren't the most local, or the most high-fructose-corn-syrup-free, both of which I normally try to be very cognizant of. However, with scouting out the right ingredients you actually could make it both local and HFCS-free.

Molasses Baked Beans
Adapted from All You
6 slices bacon, cut into a 1/2-inch dice
1 onion, chopped
3 (18 oz) jars/cans baked beans
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
3 T Worcestershire sauce
1 T dry mustard
1/2 t kosher salt

Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crispy, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to a paper towel-lined plate to drain fat. Discard all but 1 T fat from pan. Add onion to skillet and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in beans, brown sugar, molasses, Worcestershire sauce, dry mustard and salt. Cover and cook over medium-low heat for 25 minutes.
For my second summer side, I really wanted to use as much of my fresh CSA produce and goodies as possible, so I decided to make an impromptu pasta salad. The real key for me in this dish was the fresh feta cheese from Bonnieview Farm in South Albany, VT, that came in my delivery. This cheese was surprisingly unsalty, which complemented nicely with the kalamata olives and Italian dressing I also included in the salad. To make this dish as healthy as possible I used a lot of fresh Pete's Greens summer squash and high fiber pasta (I'm partial to Ronzoni Smart Taste). I just scaled the ingredients to the portion size I wanted, making sure to use serving sizes on any boxes/bottles for ingredients that were not fresh produce.

Summer Pasta Salad
Scaled for 3 servings
3 oz high fiber pasta (such as Ronzoni Smart Taste)
1 summer squash, sliced
1 small jar quartered marinated artichokes, rinsed
8 kalamata olives, sliced
2 T lite Italian salad dressing
Fresh basil or other herbs
Feta cheese to taste

Boil the pasta according to the package directions. Add the sliced zucchini during the last couple of minutes. Drain and rinse with cool water.

Dice the cooked zucchini and toss in a bowl with pasta, artichokes, olives and Italian dressing. Top with fresh herbs and feta right before serving.
Blog Widget by LinkWithin