Thursday Recipe Exchange: Roasting

Tried to fit some actual cooking into what has been a very busy week. The weather is very warm here right now, so I want to rush out and buy plants and get summer underway. But even 90 degree (!) temps can be deceptive – at this altitude they still recommend planting after Mother’s day to be safe. We’ve had 90 degrees to freezing whiplash before.

JeffreyW's Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Carrots and Parsnips

Roasting seemed wrong for our summer like weather, but most roasting recipes can be adapted for the gas-grill as needed, so I went with it. Roasting adds great flavor to foods, vegetables in particular. The slow cooking method adds a touch of sweetness and depth to almost any vegetable (current cooking crush Ming Tsai even has a recipe for roasting radicchio). For a quick dinner you can add vegetables tossed with olive oil to the bottom of a roasting pan, top with chicken breasts rubbed with oil and seasoned with salt & pepper and roast until the chicken is required temperature.  One pan dinner in about 35 minutes.

This week I roasted Asparagus topped with mozzarella and tonight’s sweet potato recipe. And here is the link to JeffreyW’s Brussel Sprouts, Carrots and Parsnips.

For dessert I made a batch of Orange Brownies.  I think for the weekend, though, I’m going to stick to stove top cooking and grilling.  What’s on your menu this week? Does weather affect what you want to cook?

Roasted Sweet Potatoes

  • 4 medium sweet potatoes, cut into 1 or 2 inch pieces
  • 2 medium red onions, cut in to 1-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • sprig of fresh time, cut into 4 pieces
  • salt & pepper (about 1/2 tsp of pepper or more, finely ground)

Preheat oven to 425. Combine all ingredients in baking dish. Toss to coat the veggies and bake for 35 minutes, until the sweet potatoes are tender and onions are soft.  

Next Week: Awesome Cookies

Roasted Mozzarella Asparagus

Sorry for the light posts. I do have some fun things in mind though, starting with Orange Brownies tonight. So there’s that. Roasting is our menu exchange theme for tomorrow, so I thought I’d start things off with some asparagus which I think would go very well with JeffreyW’s flatiron steaks.  He made them look so good, I’m going to try one this week. I usually go for sirloin, but these looked amazing, so I’ll give them a taste. I’ll let you know how they turn out. Now for a side:

Roasted Mozzarella Asparagus

  • 2 pounds fresh asparagus
  • Good olive oil
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1/2 cup  fresh, shredded mozzarella
  • 1/2 tsp lemon zest

Baking sheet

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Break off the tough ends of the asparagus. A quick trick is to keep the rubber band in place, snap off one or two to see where the tough break is, then use a knife to cut them all at that place. Remove rubber band and wash stalks thoroughly, pat dry.

Place the asparagus on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, then toss to coat completely. Spread  in a single layer and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Roast for 25 minutes, until tender but still crisp. Spread mozzarella and lemon zest evenly over the top and broil for 2 minutes or until the cheese is melted and golden.

If your weather allows, you can also do these on the grill, use a nice grilling pan and adjust the time according to grill temp.

Spring Potato Salad

A fresher version of potato salad:

Spring Potato Salad

  • 2 lbs small new potatoes or fingerlings
  • 1 lb asparagus, trimmed
  • 2 cups sugar snap peas or green beans, trimmed
  • 6 green onions, chopped


  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp whole grain mustard
  • 3 tbsp red wine vinegar

salt and pepper to taste

Clean potatoes, cut in half, add to saucepan with enough water to cover.  Bring to boil and cook until tender (about 15 minutes). Drain and run cold water over them until cool, refrigerate.  Fill saucepan with water and a dash of salt. Bring to a boil, add asparagus. After one minute, add peas or green beans. Cook 2 more minutes, drain and blanch in ice bath.  Drain and dry with paper towel.  Mix together vinaigrette. Combine all ingredients and toss well. Salt and pepper to taste.

Mmm…asparagus frittata

I’m notorious for buying asparagus and forgetting to use it.  We probably toss as much as we eat.  I was determined to get some use from the bunch brought home yesterday. Frittatas are easy and fun!

This one has mushrooms and red onions as well as the asparagus. Just as an aside, I am really starting to enjoy these cherry tomatoes.

Here is a photo of Homer that I very nearly didn’t get.  Operator flash error, had the settings wrong.  In post processing I was able to tease an image from what looked to be a black, empty frame.  Note the grain-you can boost the brightness a lot, but it comes at a price.

Thursday Night Menu: Asparagus, Peppers and Berries, Oh, My

As the weather warms up I find myself wandering the grocery aisles looking for fresh foods to cook with, not wanting any more root vegetables or winter squash.  It can be challenging because I want fresh – not shipped from a thousand miles fresh.  But I settle for what I can find, which are peppers and asparagus.  The linguine calls for red and green peppers, but red, green, yellow and orange were all on sale, so I’m going with that in mine.   It will make for a nice spring presentation.  Add to that a bunch of tulips for the table and I’m in full Spring mode at my house.  What are you doing to chase away the remnants of winter this weekend?

On the board tonight:

  1. Linguine w/Garlic & Peppers
  2. Italian Asparagus
  3. Mixed berries & whipped cream

Linguine w/Garlic & Peppers

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic
  • ¼ to ½ tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 green pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 red pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 2 oz fresh basil leaves
  • 14 oz can diced tomatoes*
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 4 oz shredded Romano-Parmesan cheese
  • 9 oz pkg. fresh linguine

saucepan and skillet

In skillet heat oil, add garlic, red pepper flakes, green & red peppers and sauté for 5 minutes on medium heat. Add fresh basil, tomatoes, salt & pepper let simmer while pasta cooks. Cook pasta according to package directions and drain well. Toss with pepper mixture & cheese.

* you can use fresh tomatoes, probably 2 large, but I couldn’t find any decent ones this time of year.

Italian Asparagus

  • 1 bunch (approx. 16 oz) fresh asparagus spears
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp oregano, crushed
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 oz shredded Romano/Parmesan

saucepan & steamer

Gently scrub asparagus, cut in half and place in steamer. Add enough water to saucepan to come in the bottom of the steamer. Steam for 5 to 8 minutes, until the stalks are tender. Remove and toss with oil, oregano, salt, pepper & cheese.

Shopping List:

  • 1 green pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 red pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 2 oz fresh basil leaves
  • 14 oz can diced tomatoes*
  • 4 oz shredded Romano-parmesan cheese**
  • 9 oz pkg. fresh linguine
  • 1 bunch (approx. 16 oz) fresh asparagus spears
  • 2 oz shredded Romano/Parmesan
  • 16 oz mixed berries
  • Whipped Cream

Also: oregano, olive oil, salt, pepper, crushed garlic, crushed red pepper flakes

Thursday Night Menu: Longing for Spring Edition

I don’t know about you, but my last few weeks have been full of activities and work. Add to that an unexpected snow storm that created havoc on the roads today and I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed and short on time. So tonight’s menu is about simplicity and freshness. The snow and cold makes me long for fresh fruits and vegetables (and seed catalogs). I know good quality can be hard to come by this time of year, but I am tired of soups and stews, so I’ll do the freshest I can with the ingredients available. Nothing exciting about this pasta dish, except it is quick, easy and fresh. Substituting good quality canned diced tomatoes (maybe even roasted tomatoes) will work if you can’t find any decent fresh tomatoes. I can usually find local greenhouse tomatoes at the indoor farmer’s market, along with fresh dried pastas, so I try to get there when I can. For the salad, I look for anything that sounds like it might be a good addition: snow peas, jicama, grapes, peppers, even sliced apples, to add to several types of greens. A friend introduced me to Greek yogurt recently and I really, really like it. It’s smooth, creamy and works well as a dessert. I know blueberries and raspberries can be iffy when fresh this time of year (re: bland), not to mention expensive. I like frozen, organic blueberries that are small and taste almost like wild blueberries. Frozen raspberries are almost always better than any out of season fresh raspberry. I thaw them and serve with the yogurt and that works really well. So with all that, I’ve done my best to bring some fresh ideas to a cold winter’s weekend.

On the board tonight:

  1. Tomato-Parmesan Linguine
  2. Tossed Salad w/Lemon Thyme Vinaigrette
  3. Steamed Asparagus Spears
  4. Blueberries & Raspberries w/vanilla yogurt

Tomato-Parmesan Linguine

  • 6-8 Roma tomatoes, diced (or equivalent)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil (or you can substitute 2-14 oz cans diced tomatoes and skip the oil)
  • ½ cup fresh basil, chopped or 2 tsp dried basil, crushed
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic
  • ½ cup fresh shredded parmesan (not grated)
  • 9 oz fresh linguini or a nice flavored dry pasta
  • Parmesan for topping

2 saucepans, serving dish

Heat oil in saucepan, add tomatoes, basil, oregano & garlic. Cook, stirring constantly for 5 minutes on medium-high, reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer 10 minutes, add parmesan and cook 5 minutes. Meanwhile, in large saucepan, cook linguini according to package directions. Toss together pasta and tomatoes and serve. Serve with additional parmesan.

Lemon Thyme Vinaigrette Dressing

  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ cup lemon juice (more if needed)
  • ½ tsp dried thyme, crushed
  • ½ cup olive oil

Add lemon zest, salt, juice & thyme in blender. Slowly add oil while blending, emulsifying the mixture. Taste and add more oil, lemon juice or salt as needed. Let sit for ½ hour before serving.

Shopping list:

  • Salad ingredients
  • 32 oz vanilla yogurt
  • 8 oz blueberries
  • 8 oz raspberries
  • 6 oz olive oil
  • 1 lb Asparagus
  • 6-8 Roma tomatoes (or equivalent) – or you can substitute 2-14 oz cans diced tomatoes
  • ½ cup fresh basil, chopped or 2 tsp dried basil, crushed
  • 6 oz fresh shredded parmesan (not grated)
  • 9 oz fresh linguini or a nice flavored dry pasta

Also: lemon zest, salt, lemon juice, dried thyme, ½ cup olive oil, crushed garlic, dried oregano

Mmm…Cream of Asparagus Soup

With cheeses and potatoes and bacon!  Yay!  Started out thinking cheese and broccoli soup but that morphed into wondering if there was a similar recipe using asparagus.  I had a bunch of asparagus spears that I really, really, wanted to eat before they spoiled.  They go bad so quick.  It runs about 50/50 whether my asparagus goes bad before I get around to cooking it. Not today!

A quick search found this recipe and it sounded great just reading the ingredient list.  Bacon?  Cheese?  What’s not to like?  LOL  I pretty much followed the recipe except for the feta, didn’t have any.  I used more parmesan, romano, and asiago in its place.  And didn’t have any milk so I used some half and half and the last few ounces of heavy cream that needed using.  Switched from pan to a pot mid way through, about when I started adding the cheeses.  The food processor worked fine for me on this, using a blender and going through several batches just seemed too tedious for me today.


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Apple Butter Pork Loin

This is a new recipe for me and I loved the way it turned out.  The combination of pork, apple and spices was so good and this recipe is really easy.  It’s based on this recipe from, but I changed it up a little bit.  This recipe can be cut back to serve less people with very little trouble.

Apple Butter Pork Loin Roast

1 10 lb pork loin roast

7 apples – peeled and cored – sprinkled with cinnamon sugar if desired

4 cups of apple cider (32 oz)

Salt and pepper to taste

2 cups of apple butter (16 oz)

3/4 cup dark brown sugar (6 0z)

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons ground cloves

1 teaspoon of fresh grated nutmeg

20 whole cloves – optional

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Put your pork roast in a roasting pan and season to taste with salt and pepper and stud with cloves if you’re using them.  Pour in the apple cider, making sure that  the bottom of the pan is covered.  Place your apples in the pan around the roast.  I used 4 Granny Smith and 3 Pink Lady apples, the Granny Smiths melted into apple sauce in the juice, the Pink Ladies stayed intact, but were very soft and sweet.

Cover tightly with foil and roast for 1 1/2 hours.

Mix the apple butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, ground cloves and nutmeg in a small bowl while the roast is in the oven.

Remove the roast from the oven, uncover and slather the apple butter mix  over the roast, re-cover with the foil and return to oven and continue to roast for at least another 1 1/2 hours.  Uncover the roast and return to oven for 30 minutes until the apple butter glaze starts to dry out a bit.  Remove from oven and let sit and rest for 10 minutes.  Slice and serve with juice/sauce from the pan.

I found the cooking time after you add the apple butter glaze to be pretty forgiving.  There’s so much moisture in the pan that you can leave it cooking for a really long time without drying it out as long as the foil is on it.  I like to cook my pork until it’s falling apart, so I cooked mine for almost 2 1/2 hours before I pulled the foil off.  If you like your pork more firm, stick with the shorter time but cook until it is at least 190 degrees internal temp on a meat thermometer.

I served this with twice baked potatoes made with sour cream, sharp cheddar cheese and bacon, steamed asparagus drizzle with garlic-olive oil and classic ceasar salad.

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