Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Handheld Peach Pies

Ahh, fall is in full… well, change. The temperatures are swinging from warm to downright chilly, it’s getting dark earlier and the leaves are decorating my walk to class with vibrant reds and oranges. One of my favorite fall traditions is college football and tailgating, which has been going strong for several weeks now. If you’ve never had the good fortune of tailgating at a Big 10 school, you’re missing out! The entire west side of Iowa City pretty much shuts down, wears ridiculous black and gold clothes that often border on costume-esque, and anyone walking around who has the good sense to yell “Go Hawks!” is greeted with beer and food from complete strangers at tailgates in the near vicinity.

Tailgating also provides a good reason to get creative with recipes for people who want to move beyond the typical hot dogs, chips and beer. I’ve been looking at this recipe for some time now and was just waiting for peaches to come into season. Luckily for me, peaches hit their prime right about the start of tailgate season, so I was able to put these together for the state consuming Iowa-Iowa State rivalry game.

I will start by saying that these mini-pies are very delicious and look impressive, which gives the baker some bragging rights and lots of admiration from the inebriated friends trying them. I’m going to follow that up, however, with the reality of this recipe – it’s a huge pain in the a$*! I'm also going to throw in a quick apology for the awkward formatting on this post. After fighting it for two weeks, I decided putting the post up was more important than continuing to fight with invisible formatting gnomes that are messing things up!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Pumpkin Porter

Ah, beer. As Homer says, the cause of, and solution to, all of life's problems.

It's definitely fall now in Chicago. The farmer's markets are exploding with harvest-season produce, most of it in gourd and pomme form. Apples and pumpkins from Michigan, acorn, butternut, and spaghetti squash from Illinois and Wisconsin, root vegetables from Indiana. There are even a few end-of-season cherry tomatoes hanging on stoically. Combine that with the chilly, damp weather and heavy leaden clouds floating over Lake Michigan, and it is apparent that fall has fallen. Which puts me in a brewing mood like none other.

I woke up in a particularly good mood on Saturday morning, because I knew I was gonna spend all day making beer. This particular recipe is especially time-consuming, because it involves roasting a whole pumpkin, mashing it up, and steeping it with the grains for 45 minutes. In light of that, this one needs an early start. I broke up the whole business a little by playing some Ultimate Frisbee, but that just made coming back to the brew and drinking a couple beers that much more enjoyable.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Spicy Caprese Salad and Mediterranean Pasta

A month or so ago, I stumbled across a foodie gem called Tasting Table. They have regional sections, so I'm not reading about recipes that are awesome with produce only in season elsewhere, as well as a national section. One of the weekly recipe emails that caught my eye was a new twist on the traditional insalata caprese. Not that I think there's anything wrong with the original -- dishes with 3 ingredients that stand the test of time usually have a reason-- but it's always fun to add a little spice and see what happens.

This meal nicely spans the changing of seasons, combining the simplicity of the caprese salad (which always seems like a summer salad to me) with a warm, hearty pasta -- and all the ingredients are currently in season! I'm actually quite proud that almost all of the ingredients for this meal came from the Iowa City Farmer's Market, one of my favorite ways to spend a Saturday morning. I ended up having to buy the mozzerella cheese from the co-op because my cheese vendor wasn't at the market that morning. I personally always use Barilla PLUS for pasta, because of it's high protein, fiber and omega-3 content without tasting too hefty, but any pasta you prefer will work just as well. Hopefully this will inspire you to check out your own farmer's market if you've never been, or act as an impetus to go more regularly and get ingredients for dinner.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Vegetable, Chicken and Fish Taco Trio

I alluded to this in my last post, but one of the major summer events was my best friend's wedding- and weddings warrant a bachelorette party! In planning the party, I decided it would be cheapest for all parties included to make the dinner and have people chip in for groceries rather than going out to dinner... this was the case, though I definitely forgot to factor in how long it takes for charcoal to heat up. An inside grill or gas grill would certainly help speed this process along, and avoid your neighbors gawking at you for barbecuing by flashlight! All in all, the dinner was a big success and the tacos were well liked, including the chicken variety that was a stretch for this vegetarian.
Vegetable tacos 

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Peperoni Arrostiti all'Acciughe (Roast Peppers with Anchovies)

Okay, so major fail on my part on the whole "I'm gonna post more often this summer" thing. Turns out my summer didn't have as much free time as I thought it would, and I kept forgetting to take pictures when I cooked. But as a nice break from studying bacteria, viruses, and parasites (second year has started off at a grueling pace), I thought I'd post this recipe, because it's really easy and delicious.

I have to say that fall is my favorite season because I have a thing for squash, cold air, fire-colored trees, and the smell of wood smoke. I also associate fall with beginnings - it's the start of the academic year, and I'm always doing really cool (read "disgusting") stuff and haven't gotten burnt out with it yet. That being said, the produce at the end of summer is without parallel. Cherry tomatoes, summer squash, berries of various sorts, etc. etc.

This recipe is the perfect thing for an end-of-summer antipasto, or, if you choose to add the fish, main course for those who don't have a whole lot of time on their hands. The peppers can be used for any number of things, and are light-years better than the canned roasted peppers you can get at the grocery store.