Monday, July 25, 2011

Raspberry Chocolate Road Trip

I have been fortunate enough to take quite a few trips with my mother over recent 
years. We have cruised the Greek Islands, skied the Swiss Alps, and shopped 
along the quaint streets of Quebec.  This year, we managed to sneak in two mini trips on a tighter budget, without compromising on a little fun and adventure.  In April, we drove to Vermont and just last week took a road trip to the Finger Lakes region in upstate NY.  Neither of us has ever been and was struck at just how beautiful this area was.

Winery along lake Seneca

The perfect travel companion, my mother is always up for anything.  She makes the best of any situation and is as easy going as it gets.  At 5 am, I picked her up, filled the car with a tank of gas, and we made our way west for our six-hour drive.  We realized at the Berkshires that we hadn't yet turned on the radio because we were too busy chatting our way across Massachusetts.  My dog, who claimed the backseat, was as happy as could be hanging his head out the window and enjoying the scenery along the way.

Over the course of a few days, we made our way up and down Seneca and Cayuga Lake, taking in the gorgeous views from up above.  We found roadside stands selling blackberries and cherries and stopped at every turn to capture just one more photo.  We had an eye opening experience at a farm sanctuary, hiked alongside a gorge at a state park, and visited a few vineyards for some local wine tasting among the two hundred wineries located along the wine trail.  Lots of time soaking up the sun, swimming in the lakes, and sipping on chai tea lattes made another memorable mother daughter trip.  

Our swimming hole

One of the mementos I brought back with me was a bottle of raspberry liqueur from Finger Lakes Distilling.  Set on a hillside overlooking Seneca Lake, they use local fruit and grains to produce whiskey and sweet liqueurs.  There was an enticing little chalkboard sign out front encouraging you to 'un wine' from all the wineries at the distillery.  My dog was even welcome, where he had his own 'tasting' from a water serving station.  I picked up a bottle of raspberry liqueur, mainly because I am a sucker for all things berry, including raspberries.  But secondly, I knew I would be picking raspberries this weekend and was already at work concocting a raspberry dessert in my mind.  This would just be icing on the cake so to speak, or in this case...tart. 

I have a secret ingredient in this tart.  Tofu.  Yes, you saw that correctly.  Before you stop reading, let me just tell you it creates the most luscious, creamy consistency, and no one will ever know your secret.  It's blended with semi-sweet chocolate, raspberry liqueur, and vanilla extract and sits atop a homemade graham cracker crust.  You could certainly substitute a coffee liqueur for the raspberry if you're so inclined.  Bailey's or Kahlua might be nice.  If you wanted to omit the alcohol, you could even substitute brewed coffee in its place.

Once you chill this tart, it transforms itself into the most rich and decadent chocolate dessert.  This tart has a great 'wow' factor.  I've topped it with a great big serving of handpicked fresh raspberries.  Talk about a lot of love going into this one.  You must understand, raspberry desserts are my ultimate favorite.  I love them so much that I decided to forgo traditional cake at my wedding last year and had the most gorgeous mixed berry tart instead.  Since my husband doesn't eat chocolate, something tells me I'll be devouring most of this tart myself.  What a shame.  I think I'll have a slice of this and start organizing my photos from our latest road trip adventure.  Go ahead and try this tart!  I promise it won't disappoint.  You'll find yourself rushing through dinner just to get to this.

~Raspberry Chocolate Tart Recipe~
Inspired by Vegan Vittles

For the crust:
25 whole wheat graham cracker squares
6 tbsp just melted butter
1 tbsp raspberry jam

For the filling:
12 oz bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 pkg (1lb) silken tofu
1/4 cup raspberry liqueur
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 quart fresh raspberries

Preheat oven to 350.  Place butter in a small bowl and microwave until it just starts to melt.  Combine the butter with graham crackers and jam in a food processor.  Pulse until combined.  You should have a wet, sandy texture.  Press this mixture into the bottom of a tart or pie pan.  I used a 9 1/2" tart pan with a removable bottom. (Note-I used a small amount of butter to grease the pan).

Bake the pie crust for 12 minutes.  Remove and allow to cool.  While the crust is cooling, you can get started on draining the tofu.  Place a few paper towels on a cutting board.  Place the tofu on top, and add a few additional paper towels on top of the tofu.  Gently press and squeeze out the liquid.  Let it drain for about 15 minutes.  

Melt the chocolate chips in a double boiler.  Allow the melted chocolate to cool.  Add the chocolate, drained tofu, raspberry liqueur, and vanilla extract to the food processor.  Give it a whirl to combine.  Pour this mixture on top the crust, spreading evenly.  Refrigerate for one hour, then gently press and arrange raspberries on the top of the pie.  Refrigerate for at least another hour, or until you are ready to serve.  Serves 8-10.

Wild raspberries I spotted along our hike

Friday, July 22, 2011

Strawberry Spelt Sunday Morning Pancakes

Who doesn't love a nice stack of golden pancakes to start their day?  They just ooze childhood memories and cozy weekends at home.  If you have ever been the lucky recipient of a stack of homemade pancakes, it's a pretty good morning.  Pancakes had to be the first thing I ever learned to cook on my own.  As soon as I was allowed to use the stove, I would reach for the big yellow box of bisquick in our cupboard.  I'd grab a chair from our kitchen table, push it over to the cabinets and stand on top to pull out our tupperware mixing pitcher and bright yellow mixing cups.  I would carefully measure out the milk and eggs, and not so carefully splatter the mixture along our countertops.  It was the first thing I made, and made well for my family.  My dad was always the first to compliment me on my pancake skills and was a good sport for cleaning up the mess.

These days, I've retired the bisquick, and have been playing around with some new pancake recipes, including variations on flours.  This version uses spelt flour.  Spelt is a cereal grain in the wheat family.  It has a slightly nutty and sweet flavor, is easy to digest, and full of nutrients.  It contains a bit more protein and fewer calories than wheat flour, making it a great choice to start your day.  You can find spelt flour in the bulk aisle of your grocery store or natural food aisle.  These pancakes have just a hint of sweetness from the vanilla and cinnamon.  I serve these golden stacks up with a side of fresh sliced strawberries, and a hefty drizzle of real maple syrup and butter.  They will keep you full and satisfied all morning.  Make these for someone and make their morning special.  You may even make a few memories in the process.

~Strawberry Spelt Sunday Morning Pancakes Recipe~

1 1/4 cup spelt flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg beaten
1 1/4 cup milk
2 tbsp butter, melted 
dash cinnamon
3/4 cup sliced strawberries (plus more for serving alongside)
butter to serve and to grease pan

Combine the flour, baking powder, sea salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl.  Add in the milk, eggs, and melted butter.   Stir together until just combined.  You don't want to overmix the spelt flour.   Fold in the sliced strawberries.  Add a small amount of butter to the pan.  Pour batter into the pan.  Wait until little bubbles form in the middle of the pancakes and the edges start to set.  You want a nice golden color before you flip.  Cook the other side and repeat until you have used up the batter.  You should get about 8 (4-6 inch) pancakes from this recipe.  Serve up with butter, sliced strawberries, and maple syrup.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Simple Squash Gratin

I want to change your mind about a gratin.  Typically smothered in cheese and swimming in heavy cream sauce, it's hard to tell what is beneath those buttery concoctions.  Dishes like this have their time and place, but not in the summer.  In the summer, I adhere to a "less is more" philosophy, especially when highlighting a summer vegetable like squash.  I've kept it lighter, but still plenty flavorful with Mediterranean elements like feta cheese and oregano.  Homemade breadcrumbs top this gratin before baking.  I like to make my own breadcrumbs with leftover bread.  You can use anything you have on hand: sourdough, white, or wheat.  Just remove the crusts and pulse the slices in your food processor.  I store them in plastic bags in my freezer.  They work well in many recipes and I actually prefer the consistency of these breadcrumbs to store bought.   

This recipe stemmed from a need to decrease my mountain of squash.  If you have inherited some squash too, whether from a neighbor, a trip to the market, or your garden, put it to good use here. I also had the chance to incorporate my first of the season onion in this one.  It's very straightforward, nothing over the top, but qualifies as a light and simple vegetable dish.  Once out of the oven, I've tossed fresh diced tomatoes and basil on top.  This makes a great summertime lunch that won't weight you down.  You could serve it alongside rice or even some nice slices of crusty artisan bread. 

~Simple Squash Gratin Recipe~

4 yellow squash sliced 1/2" thick
1 large onion sliced in half moons
1 clove garlic
1 tsp oregano
1/2 cup feta cheese
1/2 cup buttermilk
2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 cups breadcrumbs
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup chopped grape tomatoes
handful of basil, chiffonade or chop
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350.  In a large saucepan, heat 1 tbsp olive oil.  Add garlic clove and cook for about 1-2 minutes.  Add onion and oregano, cooking for about 4 minutes.  Add squash to the pan, cover with a lid and allow to cook down for 10-12  minutes.  Stir this occasionally to prevent from sticking and ensuring squash cooks evenly.

With 1 tbsp of butter, grease a 13x9, (3 quart) pan.  Arrange squash and onion mixture in a layer.  Pour buttermilk over top and sprinkle evenly with feta cheese.  

In a small pan, heat remaining tbsp of extra virgin olive oil and butter.  Toss, coat, and heat breadcrumbs over low heat.  Pour breadcrumbs over squash and feta mixture.  Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.  Bake 20 minutes.  I also like to leave this under the broiler for just a minute at the very end to give the top a light brown color.  Serves 6.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Blueberry Buttermilk Bread Pudding

Aahh, it's here.  The long awaited and anticipated blueberry season.  Living in New England, these are the days I long for during those cold, cruel, winter months.  Sometime in February when I am scraping the ice from my car and haven't seen the sun in days, I dream of a day like today.  It's Saturday morning. With my dog in tow, iced tea in the cup holder, and windows down, I drive to the farm.  I drive along route one, pass the old historic homes, and reach open fields.  Today is the day I will pick my own blueberries.  I've been eyeing those little bushes for a few weeks now, watching the shade of berries change from green, to lavender, to bright blue.  It's such a short but sweet season.  I come across clusters of these hidden jewels, sitting in the sun, so ripe they may just fall right from the bush.  I walk along row after row, tasting a few blueberries along the way.  They look too good to pass up.  My dog finds a few berry casualties along the way as well.

I knew exactly what I wanted to make with these little blue gems.  I have been dreaming about a blueberry bread pudding for weeks now.  Since starting this blog, I've kept a notebook full of ideas.  Right at the top is listed 'write blueberry buttermilk bread pudding recipe'.  There are asterisks on either side, it's highlighted in neon yellow and has the notation, 'July.'  And here we are.  I've never even had a blueberry bread pudding before, but knew I needed to create one.  Bread pudding evolved out of a use for stale bread.  It was a poor man's dessert so to speak.  How ironic, since I felt like a queen devouring this one.  It's so simple.  Milk and eggs create a custard for the bread to take a little dunk in.  They all soak together for a bit.  Some lemon zest, brown sugar, and vanilla join them.  My just picked blueberries are combined and poured into a pan and cooked low and slow.  I can't help but turn my oven light on and peak from time to time.  The butter bubbles along the sides of the pan and the piques of the bread start to become crusty.  The bread pudding is the perfect consistency in my opinion; just custardy enough and moist in the middle.  

The sauce hit me as I was watching the dessert cook.  With an extra pint of blueberries on hand, I wanted to create something to spoon over each serving.  However, I didn't want it to be too sweet and overtake the dessert.  This blueberry sauce hits just the right notes of sweet and tart.  It's the most beautiful deep purple tone.  It was just what each little square needed.  The blueberries take center stage all around here.  I was so happy with the way it turned out, I drove a few of these slices over to my dad's office on my way to work.  I hear it was a hit.  Thanks to those there who have been following this little blog of mine.  If you make it on your own, let me know how it turns out.  I think I'll be revisiting this one again.  Sometime this winter, maybe in February, I'll also be remembering this day of blueberry bliss and waiting for it to arrive again. 

~Blueberry Buttermilk Bread Pudding Recipe~

8 (1/2") slices of whole wheat artisan bread, cut into cubes
3 cups buttermilk
4 organic eggs
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp lemon zest
1 pint (2 cups) blueberries
1 tbsp butter

Preheat oven to 350.  Slice and cube bread.  In a large bowl, whisk together buttermilk, eggs, brown sugar, lemon zest, and vanilla extract until well combined.  Add cubes of bread and give it a good dunk, submerging in the liquid.  Let rest for 30 minutes.

Grease a 13x9 inch pan with butter.  After the 30 minutes, add blueberries, using your hands to combine.  Pour into pan.  Bake for 60 minutes.

While the bread pudding is baking, you can get started on the blueberry sauce.

~Blueberry Sauce Recipe~

1 pint (2 cups) blueberries
2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest.

Rinse your blueberries under running water.  Don't worry about rinsing too well.  Add these to a small saucepan with honey, lemon juice, and zest.  Bring up to a boil and let the berries burst and fall apart.  Their juices will release and give off a good amount of liquid.  Let it bubble for about 3-4 minutes, and then simmer for 5 more.  You will get about 1 cup of sauce.

Once you remove the bread pudding, let it rest for at least 20 minutes before serving.  Cut into large squares and remove with a small spatula.  Ladle blueberry sauce onto each slice.  Serves 6-8.  (Note-I like this best served at room temperature.)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Asian Sesame Millet Stir-Fry

Last weekend, you could have caught me chasing around the light in our backyard as the sun was setting; my camera around my neck and this dish in my hands.  I didn't intend to post this recipe, but as I started making this for dinner, was really happy with how it was turning out.  A quick taste and I knew I had a winner.  I quickly plated it and ran outside with my camera to capture this one.  I think you'll be happy I included it here.  The sauce really won me over.  Garlic, fresh ginger, sesame seed oil, honey, and soy sauce are at work.  It's paired with slightly tender but still crisp fresh vegetables.  I came home from my CSA pickup and put my vegetables to good use.  It reminds me of a takeout dish I often crave, but this version is even better.  There's no driving involved, it's easier on my wallet, and a whole lot healthier.

I've used a bed of millet here to rest the vegetables and sauce.  Millet is a whole grain with a mild nutty flavor.  It has a creamy consistency, almost like that of mashed potato, yet fluffy like rice.  It's the primary grain in much of Asia and has crept into my pantry once I learned of it's nutritional profile.  It's just starting to gain some popularity.  High in protein and fiber, it's an ideal energy source.  It cooks up in the same amount of time as rice, but it's a nice change in flavor and texture.  I've topped this dish with sesame seeds.  It's bright, colorful, and sure to please.  I bet my neighbors are all still wondering what I've been up to in my yard.  Maybe I'll have to share this dish and explain.     

~Asian Sesame Millet Stir-Fry Recipe~

1 cup millet
3 cups water
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 summer squash, sliced
1 small red pepper, sliced
1 carrot, sliced
1/2 lb snap peas (approx. 3 cups)
3 cloves garlic, diced
1" piece of fresh ginger, diced
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
3 tbsp honey
1 tsp sesame seed oil
1 tbsp cornstarch disolved in 1/2 cup water
1 tsp sesame seeds

Rinse and drain millet.  Add millet to saucepan with water and bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.  While millet is cooking, prep all your vegetables.  Chop the squash, red pepper, and carrot.  Remove stem ends of snap peas and string down the middle.   Remove the skin of the ginger with the back of a spoon and dice, along with the garlic.

You'll need two small bowls.  In the first bowl, whisk combine soy sauce, honey, and sesame seed oil.  In a separate small bowl, whisk and dissolve cornstarch in water.  Keep these handy by the stove.

Heat olive oil in wok or large pan over medium heat.  Add in squash, red pepper, carrot, and snap peas.  Cook for about 5 minutes before adding the ginger and garlic.  Cook for another minute or two. You want the vegetables to remain tender but crisp.  Add sauce mixture to the pan, combining it with the vegetables.  Pour cornstarch and water mixture over top.  Cook for about 2 minutes more, until the sauce starts develop a slightly syrupy/thick consistency.  

After millet is finished cooking, remove the lid and allow to sit for 5 minutes.  Now, you can fluff the millet with a fork and add to a serving dish.  Add vegetables to the top of the millet and pour the sauce down over the top.  Top with sesame seeds.  Serves 6.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Foolproof Frittata and a Flight to NYC

The frittata.  Maybe you haven't made one in ages, or maybe you've forgotten all about this little wonder.  A classic.  I consider it the little black dress of my cooking repertoire.  A staple that's versatile, affordable, and essential in my collection.  Just like my little black dress, I can pull it out on a moment's notice and be ready for any occasion; breakfast, lunch, or dinner.  I can dress it up by adding vegetables and herbs, or dress it down and keep it simple with a splash of cream and sprinkle of cheese.  It carries me from season to season, and never goes out of style.  

I wrote this recipe for my best friend Mary, whose cooking repertoire is expanding as quickly as her wardrobe.  Two years ago, she packed her bags and moved to NYC after receiving a job offer (sigh).  She began adjusting to life in a larger than life city and I began adjusting to us being at a distance. Now living by herself, Mary was in need of some quick and healthy cooking tips.  I  sent her a care package with a few kitchen essentials, including The Little Black Apron: A Single Girl's Guide to Cooking with Style and Grace'.  I recently flew down to NYC to visit Mary and sitting on her bookcase was this book, marked with memos, stuffed with magazine recipe cutouts, and worn around the edges.  

We accomplished quite a bit that weekend; visiting a few exhibits at the MET, eating lunch on park benches, strolling along outdoor markets, and cooking each night in her tiny, perfect New York kitchen.  This frittata recipe is for her.  Everyone needs a good frittata recipe. It's less heavy and fussy than a quiche and comes together in a flash.  Armed with eggs in your fridge and a few fill ins, you can create a satisfying meal in no time.  It's also a great 'clean out the fridge' kind of meal.  Anything goes here.  Play around and see what combinations you like.  Use whatever vegetables are in season, add your favorite cheeses, herbs, or even hot sauce or curry if that's your thing. 

In this version, I use one of my favorite trios: spinach, feta cheese, and sun-dried tomatoes.  I like the salty bite of the feta against the sweet bite of the sun-dried tomatoes.  The barely wilted spinach keeps it fresh and bright.  As the eggs begin to puff up and the top becomes slightly brown under the broiler, you will find yourself falling for the frittata all over again.  Try this combination and you may just begin revisiting it again and again.  This is great for a weekend breakfast or brunch to fuel your day.  Serve it with a side salad or soup for a light lunch or dinner.  The possibilities are endless.  I can't picture Mary in a little black apron, but I can definitely see her in a little black dress cooking this frittata after a long hard day at work.

~Foolproof Frittata Recipe~
6 organic eggs
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp organic cream
1 small onion, diced
4 cups baby spinach
3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes chopped
 few grinds from a pepper mill

Adjust oven to broil setting.  In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, cream, pepper, and set aside.  Heat olive oil in an oven proof skillet or cast iron pan (8-10 in.) over medium high heat.  Cook onions for about 5 minutes until they soften and begin to brown.  Add in the sun-dried tomatoes and cook for a minute.  Add in the spinach and let it just wilt down, about 4-5 minutes.  Give your eggs and cream another quick whisk before adding to the pan and adjust your heat by lowering to medium.  Just be sure your heat is low enough so you wont burn the eggs on the bottom of the pan.  Low and slow is better here.  Pour the egg mixture over top, giving the pan a little swirl to distribute the eggs evenly.  Sprinkle feta cheese over top.  Cook for about 5-7 minutes.  Once the edges appear to be set and the middle of the frittata retains just a bit of liquid, transfer to oven.  Cook for 2-3 minutes until the top is lightly browned and fluffy.  Remove from the pan, and cut into 4 large wedges to serve.  Serves 4.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Mexican Vegetable Summer Stew

Soups and stews in the summer are just fine by me, especially ones utilizing the abundance of seasonal summer squash and corn.   This stew packs a good deal of flavor and will taste like you have been cooking all day.  You can thank the chipotle chile in adobo and fire roasted tomatoes for that.  These ingredients give the stew depth and add a smoky flavor.  I'm not much of a heat person myself, so I've removed the ribs and seeds from the chipotle chili.  If you prefer more heat, leave the ribs and seeds in tact.  If you're really brave, you could certainly add in two chipotles.  The addition of black beans and quinoa make this stew a protein rich powerhouse.  

Quinoa, pronounced (keen-wah) if you are not familiar with this ingredient, is actually a seed.  It fluffs as it cooks but still retains a little crunchy bite.  Although quinoa might appear to be a new super food, its origins are ancient.  It was a staple of the Incan civilization and considered to be a sacred grain.  Quinoa is popping up everywhere these days.   I'm seeing lots of recipes and magazines featuring it in one-way or another.  Quinoa is very versatile and can be used in both cooking and baking.  

When my in laws come over for dinner, I'll often make Mexican food.  It's fun, easy, and always a crowd pleaser.  I turned my mother-in-law onto quinoa with a cold salad I make chock full of black beans, tomatoes, corn, and avocado.  I've taken some of the same elements in the salad she loves and turned it into a stew.  I've even noticed a bag or two of quinoa sitting in her kitchen these days.  I love introducing people to new foods they have yet to try.  Hopefully as I move forward with this blog, I can accomplish just that.

When making the stew, prep everything first, measuring your ingredients and chopping your vegetables.  I do this whenever I make soups or stews and it comes together very easily.  Simply leave everything ready by the stove and toss in as you move along in the recipe.  You'll have a hearty one-pot meal in no time.  

Don't be surprised if people start flocking to your kitchen lured in by all the Mexican spices and aroma.  It will work out just fine because there will be more than enough stew to go around.  It also makes for great leftovers for lunch the next day.  I top this stew with slices of cool creamy avocado, bright cilantro, and chopped green onion.  Enjoy this outside; off your balcony, on your deck, in your yard, or anywhere you can soak up a long summer night.  A Corona in hand wouldn't be a bad idea either.

~Mexican Vegetable Summer Stew Recipe~

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 red onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 chipotle in adobo, ribs and seeds removed, chopped
2 zucchini, cut lengthwise and chopped
1 summer squash, cut lengthwise and chopped
1 28oz. can fire roasted tomatoes
4 cups vegetable stock
1 cup fresh or frozen corn
2 cups cooked black beans
1/3 cup quinoa 
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp coriander
juice of 1 lime
sea salt and pepper to taste
avocado, green onion, and cilantro for topping

In a large pot, saute red onion, garlic, and chipotle in extra virgin olive oil for 3 minutes over medium heat, until the onion becomes translucent.  Add in zucchini, squash, chili powder, cumin, and coriander and cook for about 3-4 minutes.  Add quinoa, can of tomatoes, and 4 cups of vegetable broth.  Bring up to a boil, cover, and reduce to a simmer.  Cook for about 15 minutes, until the quinoa is cooked.  You'll be able to tell when the white germ has partially detached itself.  It will look like a spiral.  Add corn and black beans and cook for a few more minutes.  Add the juice of one lime to the pot.  Add salt and pepper to your liking.

Serve in bowls with avocado slices and cilantro.  The quinoa has a tendency to sink towards the bottom of the pot.  Just give it a good stir as you ladle the stew into individual bowls.  Serves 6.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Rosemary Garlic Matchsticks with Dipping Sauce

The truth is, I'm not one for deep fried french fries.  Sure, the first few bites are great, but then they become sludgy, heavy, and greasy.  I would much rather this version using fresh sliced potatoes layered with rosemary and garlic.  Made from ingredients I always have on hand, they are certainly easy enough to throw together.  Baking these matchsticks at a high temperature for a lengthy amount of time gives them their crispy golden exterior.  With just a hint of rosemary and garlicky goodness, you can indulge without the sludge.  The beauty of enjoying these little matchsticks is with this dipping sauce I've created.  Tastier and less sugary than ketchup, it's a creamy and tangy mustard mixture utilizing yogurt as its base.  These have become a staple in our house and many nights you can find us wrestling over the crispiest matchsticks to sop up the dipping sauce.  I don't think we have ever left one of these little guys behind.

If you can, reach for organic potatoes.  Potatoes grown conventionally are one of the more contaminated vegetables because they are grown underground.  You can learn more about the 'dirty dozen' and 'clean 15' here.  Familiarizing yourself with these lists can help you decide if and what to buy organic if possible.  Potatoes are one of those vegetables I always choose to buy organic.  A large bag keeps well and many nights I reach for potatoes to create side dishes.   These matchsticks are a great little twist on one of my favorite comfort foods.  I make this recipe for my husband and I, and it serves two good size portions.  You could certainly double both the matchsticks and dipping sauce recipes for a few more people.  Generally, one potato per person works well as a side dish.

~Rosemary Garlic Matchsticks Recipe~
      (Adapted from Ellie Kreiger)

2 large baking potatoes
1/3 cup olive oil, plus 1 tsp
2 cloves garlic chopped
1 tsp fresh chopped rosemary
1/2 tsp sea salt
few grinds from pepper mill

Preheat oven to 450˚.  In a small saute pan, heat 1 tsp of olive oil and add garlic and rosemary.  Cook for about 3 minutes.  Add this mixture to a large bowl with remaining olive oil, sea salt, and pepper.  Cut potatoes lengthwise and again into matchsticks, about 1/4" in size.  Toss the potatoes very well, coating in the olive oil and herb mixture.  Lay in a single layer on a sheet pan.  Cook for 65 minutes, turning halfway through, until the matchsticks are dark golden brown.

~Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce Recipe~
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp dijon mustard
1 tbsp honey

Mix these ingredients together until well combined in a small bowl.  Serve alongside the matchsticks.  Serves 2.