Springtime Strawberries

I recently found myself home with 8 quarts of springtime strawberries. And not just any strawberries, the best strawberries, thanks to the wonderful and generous Three Springs Fruit Farm.

What does one do with enough strawberries to overtake half a fridge? 

Most we ate just fresh. There is nothing better than fresh, local springtime strawberries, just as they are. 1.5 quarts were lovingly washed, sliced and sent to be enjoyed by Greg’s PhD committee members. My good vibes for Greg were sent in with those strawberries.

And, I made these muffins. Some of the best muffins that I have ever consumed. Roasted strawberries, ricotta cheese and lime zest, in a muffin, together. They’re heavenly.

They were a bit time consuming, but when I was given a day off of work due to lots of rain, I got to muffin making. And strawberry photographing. I turned on some music, put on my favorite comfy dress, opened the windows for Ivy cat, and made muffins all day long. It was great. And therapeutic.

I highly suggest you make these muffins if you get a chance. They are so, so tasty. Use local strawberries if possible. Take your time, enjoy the process. Enjoy the muffins!

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Click here for recipe.

Creamy Vegan Herbed Hemp Dip

How are you? It’s been awhile since I’ve last shared with you, but I’m back today with a recipe that I’m thrilled with. And, today’s recipe – creamy vegan! herbed hemp dip goes perfectly with the everyday oven fries I shared with you two weeks ago!

This dip (or spread) is inspired and heavily adapted from Edible Perspective’s Hemp Seed Dressing recipe. I saw Ashley’s recipe and immediately fell in love. Who knew that blending hemp seeds creates a creamy base perfect for making dressings, dips and spreads! This is it. This will be the base to any creamy dip or dressing I need in the future. Thank you Edible Perspective!

Today’s recipe is my ode to french fries dipped in ranch dressing, a lifelong favorite of mine. I’ve kind of stopped wanting to eat ranch dressing in the last few years though, due to its long and unnatural list of ingredients. I’ve tried my hand at homemade ranch dressing using things like sour cream and mayo, but am always disappointed when I have a ton of those ingredients leftover with no use for them.

While this recipe does not taste like an exact replica of the ranch we’re all used to, it’s a substitute that I’m actually even happier with. It tastes herb-y and delicious, makes a great dip and spread, and it uses real, natural ingredients that I keep on hand. This hemp seed dressing solves all my french fry + ranch problems and is to me, life changing.

It also goes great with fresh veggies, spread on sandwiches or drizzled in wraps!

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Creamy Vegan Herbed Hemp Dip
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For the dip/dressing
1/3 cup water
Juice from 1 lemon (or lime)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 tablespoon pure maple syrup
1/2 cup hemp seeds
2 medium garlic cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
Small pinch of paprika
Small drizzle Worcestershire (optional)
Handful fresh dill
Handful fresh chives
Instructions
Place all ingredients, except fresh herbs, into a blender. Blend on low speed for ~30 seconds, or until smooth and creamy. Scrape down sides of blender, add fresh herbs* and blend for an additional 30 seconds, or until fully incorporated.
Enjoy as a dip, dressing or spread!
Notes
Recipe inspired and heavily adapted from Edible Perspective's Hemp Seed Dressing (link in post).
*Some people prefer a more subtle herb taste, so start with a small amount of fresh herbs and add more as desired.
The Dreaming Foodie http://www.thedreamingfoodie.com/

Everyday Oven Fries

Dreaming Foodie readers, let me introduce you to one of my all-time favorite side dishes. One that Greg and I consume multiple times, every single week. One that we never get sick of and that is always as good as the last time. Healthy, oven-baked french fries. Fries that you can feel good about eating all the time!

This recipe has been years in the making. I have been trying for so long to get the right recipe for homemade fries, made in the oven, and this is it. This will be it for me, forever and ever. For a basic, everyday oven fry recipe, this one wins for me in texture, taste and technique. These fries are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. They taste salty and peppery and have a gentle kick from a touch of paprika. They are simple to make, with just a handful of ingredients and a bit of preparation. You need to try these fries – you will love them!

First let’s talk texture. These fries get their crispiness from a quick boil before they are baked. I simply cut up the potatoes, place them in a large pot with water, bring it to a boil and boil for just 5 minutes. This exact method evolved from many other methods I’ve tried over the years. This is the one that works for me and that I’ll continue to do. It’s easy and takes very little time. The 5-minute boil is imperative to this exact recipe. I made many fries in the past that I did not boil and they have not come out as well or nearly as crispy. The boiling changes everything.

The taste of these fries is incredible. I took everything I like about different fries and put them into one. They are salty (who doesn’t love salty fries?), they are peppery, a tiny bit garlic-y and onion-y (from garlic powder and onion powder), a tiny bit spicy (from paprika) and herb-y (from parsley). This is a combination that I just love – nothing fancy or exotic, just yummy basic fries, made with ingredients that are always stocked in my pantry. 

The technique is simple. Cut potatoes, boil, drain + rinse, brush with olive oil + sprinkle with seasoning, bake 40-45 minutes. It’s that easy. I show in two photos below how I cut my potatoes. I used to cut oven fries thin, but found out that thin fries will break with the boiling step. For this recipe, the fries need to be sliced thick, like very large steak fries. They need to be able to withstand the boiling. From start to finish, the fries will shrink, so if you think they look large once they are cut, don’t worry, you won’t think that once you are eating a crispy, delicious fry! 

A few more notes on this recipe – for Greg and I, I usually use 3-4 medium to large russet potatoes. That makes a ton of fries – two full baking sheets, so for lighter eaters, I would plan for 1 medium-large potato per person. They do make good leftovers, and are awesome reheated in the oven. The seasoning amounts I provide will be good for 3-4 medium-large potatoes. If you’re feeding a crowd, double or triple the amounts as needed!

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Everyday Oven Fries
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Ingredients
3-4 medium potatoes (I like russet)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt or powder
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1 heaping teaspoon dried parsley
2 tablespoons olive oil
Instructions
Preheat oven to 400*.
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a small bowl, mix together all spices. Set aside.
Rinse potatoes. Cut into very thick slices. I usually get 10-12 slices, or fries, per potato.
Place sliced potatoes into large pot and fill with water. Bring to a boil. Boil exactly 5 minutes.
Drain and rinse with cold water. Let potatoes cool slightly, just to the point that you can easily handle them.
Arrange evenly on baking sheets, so that no potatoes are touching.
Brush lightly with olive oil and sprinkle evenly with spice mix.
Bake for 40-45 minutes in oven, or until crispy and golden brown.
Enjoy!
Notes
3-4 medium to large potatoes with make two full baking sheets of fries. As part of a meal, I would plan for 1 large potato per person.
The Dreaming Foodie http://www.thedreamingfoodie.com/

Shiitake Mushroom + Green Garlic (or Spring Onion) Parmesan Quiche

It’s no surprise that I love quiche. Evidence: smoked salmon quiche, Brussels sprouts quiche, tomato + pesto quiche and asparagus + mushroom quiche. Today I’m adding a new one to the list – shiitake mushroom + green garlic (or spring onion) Parmesan quiche.

This is my newest creation and it’s all thanks to the return of Headhouse Farmers’ Market. I’ve told you before that Greg and I work  at a farmers market in the city on Sundays for his family’s farm, Three Springs Fruit Farm. After a winter hiatus, the market is back up and running and I couldn’t be happier to be back at it again. Each week we get to come home with fresh and local produce that is always, truly the best.

Anyway, let me tell you about green garlic. Our next door neighbor at market always has the best vegetables. Greg and I get mushrooms from him every single week, but a few weeks ago decided to pick up some spring onions as well, or so we thought. We went home with the mushrooms and spring onions and I made a quiche for dinner. It was so excellent with the veggies, plus some fresh thyme I had in the fridge and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. It wasn’t until the next week at market I discovered that the spring onions were in fact, not spring onions, but actually something called green garlic. I loved the previous weeks quiche so much, that home I went with more green garlic.

After some research, here’s what I found: ”Green garlic is simply immature garlic and looks like a slightly overgrown scallion or green onion,” about.com told me. For more info, click here. Huh, how about that. Either way, I’m glad to have tasted something I never had before and to learn something new.

Don’t be scared though, this quiche is not overly garlic-tasting at all. You could continue to tell me I’m using spring onions and I would believe you. I do think spring onions would produce a similar taste in this quiche, so that’s why I included them in the title. If you use spring onions, make sure they are plump and full looking, and preferably locally grown (always the best!). But, if you are at a market this weekend and see green garlic, pick it up and give something new a try!

A few more notes on the quiche – the thyme is essential. It gives a taste that is subtle but makes a big difference. Use fresh or dried, whatever you have on hand – see the recipe for specific amounts. And, the Parmesan in this is amazing. It adds just the right salty/buttery taste without being heavy or overpowering. Enjoy this springtime quiche!

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Shiitake Mushroom + Green Garlic (or Spring Onion) Parmesan Quiche
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Ingredients
1 prepared pie crust
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups (or more!) shiitake mushrooms, chopped
5 stalks green garlic (or spring onions), sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
Several sprigs of fresh thyme, lightly chopped (or 1/4 teaspoon dried, ground thyme)
2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
5-7 eggs (depending on the size of your crust)
1 cup whole milk (or half & half)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Scant 1/2 teaspoon salt
Instructions
Preheat oven to 400*.
Roll pie crust out into pie pan.
Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to a medium pan over medium heat. Once hot, add the mushrooms and green garlic. Saute for several minutes, until the veggies have softened and are slightly golden. Add the garlic cloves and stir. Remove from heat.
Beat together the eggs, milk, salt and pepper using a mixer or a whisk. Mix well, until eggs seem very light and aerated.
Add the veggies to the bottom of the pie crust, then sprinkle on the Parmesan. Pour the egg mixture into the crust.
Bake in the preheated oven for 20-30 minutes**, or until quiche is just set, but cooked through.
Enjoy!
Notes
I used green garlic, but spring onions will work as well.
**Quiche can be tricky as ovens vary. Quiche cooks differently in different ovens so sometimes it takes some experimenting to find the right baking temperature and time for your oven. Mine takes exactly 20 minutes in a 400* oven, but keep in mind that you may need to adjust the temperature/time to accommodate your oven.**
The Dreaming Foodie http://www.thedreamingfoodie.com/

Favorite Hummus

I’m sharing with you today my absolute favorite hummus recipe – homemade, simple, uncomplicated and tahini-free!

I don’t like buying things that I don’t use often. I will occasionally buy a special ingredient for a special recipe, but for everyday food, I use what’s already in my pantry + some fresh fruits and veggies. That has always been my hummus dilemma. I don’t want to buy tahini, but I read everywhere that the key to creamy, yummy hummus is tahini. So I bought it once and it took up room in my fridge and the only thing I used it for was hummus and I’m just not happy with things like that. If you are like me, and want a seriously uncomplicated, tahini-free hummus, this is the recipe for you!

With six total ingredients (all things that I always have on hand) and just a tiny bit of time, you can have delicious, filling, simplified hummus!

I make this all the time and don’t vary it. When it comes to hummus, I truly do just enjoy it simple, not complicated and not fancy. Just some chickpeas, lemon, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. That’s it. To me, that’s all it needs. This version is creamy, lemony and wonderful served with crackers, toasted bread or fresh veggies. This hummus is great to whip up for a snack, to take to a party or to enjoy it as we did just last night, as a spread on sandwiches.

If you try it and you love, let me know. Leave a comment on this post, on Facebook or Twitter!

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Favorite Hummus
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Ingredients
1 15-ounce can chickpeas
Juice from 1/2 of a lemon (or about 2 tablespoons)
2 medium garlic cloves
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
Instructions
Drain but don't rinse the chickpeas (see notes below).
Add the chickpeas, lemon juice, garlic cloves, pepper and salt to a food processor. Process for about one minute, or until mixture has turned into a smooth paste.
Turn off the food processor, scrape down the sides and turn it back on, drizzling in the olive oil a little at a time, until hummus has reached your desired smoothness and consistency.
Taste and add more lemon juice, garlic, pepper and/or salt to your taste.
Notes
I drain, but don't rinse my chickpeas. The brand I use has no salt added so I don't feel the need to rinse them. If your canned chickpeas have salt added, rinse them if you are worried about excess salt, or don't rinse them and don't add any extra salt to the hummus.
If you are sensitive to lemon or garlic tastes, start with less of each and add more as you choose.
The Dreaming Foodie http://www.thedreamingfoodie.com/