Dragonfly Home Recipes

Recipes, Photography, Musings

Month: September 2015

Sunshine Flatbread Pizzas

Is there anything easier and more versatile than flatbread pizzas?  Well, there probably is, but I’m not sure what that would be.  Anyway, these flatbread pizzas are so easy, they are hardly a recipe–just a nudge in a certain direction if you are unsure about what to make for a quick dinner, or an idea if you are searching for ways to use your summer squash and zucchini.  And they taste really, really good too.  I make these when we need a quick dinner before going back out the door to our various evening activities.  They are healthy and quite light, so if you are headed out to exercise after dinner, this meal won’t weigh you down too much.

sunshine flatbread pizza on tray 2I call them sunshine flatbread pizzas because I typically make them in September and early October, when we have summer squash and zucchini in abundance, and the sun is warm and golden.  Serve them with a salad or a bowl of soup if you like.  It only takes a few minutes to prepare and bake them, and when they’re done, you have something warm and tasty, full of seasonal vegetables.

sunshine flatbread pizza on bench 2It is now officially autumn, and the following quote by writer Gladys Taber reflects how I feel about this gorgeous time of year. “We are in for a spell of perfect weather now, every day luminous, every night brimmed with stars.  Picnics at noon, supper by the applewood fire at night, a walk in the cool moonlight before bed.”   I hope to make the time to savor early autumn in the spirit of this quote, and I hope you all have a beautiful weekend! I’ll also be taking a plate of these over to Angie’s Fiesta Friday to share with the lovely bloggers there.sliced vegetablesunbaked pizzasunshine flatbread pizzas on sheet 2sunshine flatbread pizza on cutting board 3sunshine flatbread pizza on plate

Sunshine Flatbread Pizzas

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Time: 20 minutes
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Ingredients:

  • 1 small zucchini, thinly sliced
  • 1 small summer squash, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 flatbreads (I like to use naan)
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large clove of garlic, minced
  • shredded mozzarella cheese
  • shredded Parmesan cheese

Directions:

Wash and slice the zucchini, summer squash, and onion into thin pieces.  In a large skillet, heat one to two tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat.  Sautee the sliced vegetables until tender, about 5-8 minutes.  Set aside.

Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Pour some olive oil into a shallow bowl.  Mince the garlic and add it to the bowl with the olive oil.  Lay your flatbreads out on a cutting board or the counter.  With a basting brush or pastry brush, spread a layer of olive oil/garlic mixture over the top of the flatbreads.  Then arrange the sautéed vegetables evenly over the flatbreads.  Sprinkle with a good amount of mozzarella and Parmesan cheese (to your personal tastes).  Place the flatbreads on a baking sheet.

Bake in a 375 degree oven for about 10 minutes, or until heated through and the cheese is melted.  Remove, let cool a couple of minutes, and slice into pieces. Enjoy!

 

Wholesome Blueberry Muffins

Blueberries….Using blueberries right now feels like clasping the hand of summer one last time before saying goodbye. These blueberry muffins are delicious, satisfying, and full of nutrients.  Oats, pecans, flaxseed, Greek yogurt, and applesauce give them a deep, rich flavor, and more vitamins and minerals than the average blueberry muffin.  Mornings can be a bit rushed.  Actually, so can afternoons.  It is nice to be able to grab something (or give something) you know will be full of good stuff to carry yourself or someone you love through a busy part of the day.

This fall, among other things, I will be looking for quick, healthy, filling foods that can be eaten on the run.  My kids have extremely busy schedules right now, and are burning a lot of calories with running, soccer, and marching band.  They need lots of food, but I want it to be fueling their active bodies in a healthy way.  (My husband and I are pretty busy and active too!)  These blueberry muffins fit the bill.  This recipe is based on a few different muffin recipes I have played around with over the years, and it produces moist, tasty muffins that are healthy but don’t taste too “healthy,” meaning my kids enjoy eating them.

blueberry muffins on purple bench 8 This week mother nature has given us quintessential end-of-summer weather, with such beautiful sunrises and sunsets, cool mornings and evenings, and warm, drowsy afternoons. Although fall is my favorite season, I will miss this summer and all it has given us.  We are probably seeing the last of the fresh Michigan blueberries, and they don’t taste as sweet as they did earlier in the season (that is why I put them in muffins!).  However, as fall and winter come, you can also use frozen blueberries in this recipe.

plate of blueberry muffins in hand 2

Cooking and baking and preparing food day in and day out can get tough once in awhile.  My family would be the first to tell you I am not always inspired about being in the kitchen.  (Luckily, my husband and kids do help out too).  But sometimes, cooking, baking, and preparing food feels like so much more than just a chore.  Sometimes, it is elevated to a higher level.  There is a kind of alchemy that occurs, where food can bridge gaps, fill empty spaces, or give meaning to chaotic feelings.  In the kitchen, sometimes I feel I am creating something beautiful and transformative out of very ordinary ingredients.

muffins in trayFor whatever reason, I felt that way with these muffins.  I felt like they were helping us navigate the passage from summer to fall, from relaxation mode to work/school mode, from spending lots of time with family to spending more time with friends and classmates, new teachers, co-workers, and learning new things.  I felt like making these muffins allowed me to grasp the most of what remains of the summer.  I was able to turn a pint of rather sour blueberries into a dozen healthy muffins bursting with tartly sweet blueberry flavor.  And in giving these muffins to my family I was giving them not only nutrition, but all those other things as well: energy to face new challenges, memories of our good times together this summer, strength to grow.

I may not be able to change to world, or solve large-scale problems from the kitchen, but I can contribute in my way.  According to the Dalai Lama, “Just as ripples spread out when a single pebble is dropped into the water, the actions of individuals can have far-reaching effects.”  Blueberry muffins are only a little pebble dropped into the water, but they are also part of something larger.

That is one of the things that keeps drawing me back to the kitchen:  the alchemy that I often feel there, the ordinary becoming extraordinary, the making sense of intangible feelings through tangible food, and the feeling that what I do there is important.  Whether a muffin is just a muffin, or the poet in you sees the symbolic in food the way I do, I hope you have a wonderful weekend! I am taking a plate of these of to Angie’s Fiesta Friday, co-hosted this week by Judi at Cooking with Aunt Juju and Quinn at Dad What’s for Dinner.blueberry muffin ingredientsblueberry muffins in tinblueberry muffin in half

Wholesome Blueberry Muffins

  • Servings: 12 muffins
  • Time: about 15 minutes to prepare and about 25 minutes to bake
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Ingredients:

  • 1 and 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (you can also use whole wheat flour if you prefer)
  • 1 cup of old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup of flaxseed meal (if you have whole flaxseeds, just grind them in a coffee grinder to make the meal)
  • 1/4 cup of pecans
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup of Greek yogurt (either plain or flavored–I use whatever I have on hand)
  • 1/2 cup of light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1/4 cup of applesauce
  • 1 teaspoon of lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 and 1/2 to 2 cups of fresh blueberries (or about 8 ounces of frozen blueberries)

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Grease a standard 12-cup muffin tin with butter (or line it with paper liners).

In a blender or food processor, chop/mix the flour, oats, flaxseed meal, pecans, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Process until the mixture is finely ground and combined.

In a large mixing bowl, briskly stir together the butter, yogurt, brown sugar, egg, applesauce, lemon juice, and vanilla extract.  Add the flour mixture and stir until the dry ingredients are absorbed into the wet–be careful not to overmix it.  Gently fold in the blueberries.

Distribute the batter evenly among the 12 muffin cups.  Bake for 22 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Let the muffins cool in the tray for a few minutes, then remove them to a plate or cooling rack.  Enjoy!

Vegetarian Lasagna

 

Lasagna is one of the ultimate comfort foods.  The rich sauce, the melted cheese, and the velvety noodles all layered and warm…and the smell is divine! Lasagna is a dish I make when I want to give extra comfort to others (or perhaps to myself!).  A few months ago, I posted my favorite recipe for classic lasagna with a meat sauce.  Today, I am sharing a delicious vegetarian lasagna recipe.  With so many fresh vegetables available this time of year, it makes sense to put them to good use.  And honestly, this lasagna tastes great and feels really healthy.  There are so many vitamins and minerals in it, with the fresh spinach, zucchini, carrot, and walnuts, you just know you are doing something good for your body.  The recipe is based on one I found in the cookbook 100 Best Vegetarian Recipes by Carol Gelles.  I do change a few things when I make it, such as substituting walnuts for pine nuts, and using fresh instead frozen spinach, among a few other small details.  I also like to use whole wheat noodles with milled flax seed with this recipe.

bite of lasagna 1Luckily, the heat wave has broken and we are having some very comfortable, gorgeous weather–perfect for making something warm and cozy in the oven.  With my kids going back to school and my husband struggling with a knee injury, I wanted to make something special and nourishing for all of us, to fortify us for the coming challenges.  I will say that this lasagna is not a quick meal.  It is one of those special recipes you use when you have a chunk of time.  But it is so worth the effort, once you find that couple of hours to fit it in.  And it tastes just as good warmed up the next day for leftovers!

lasagna against blue 2I am sharing this wonderful, wholesome recipe on a special day–it is my first time co-hosting the Fiesta Friday link party!  I am joined by Angie, whose recipes are always inspiring and whose photos are totally incredible, and who made the whole Fiesta Friday phenomenon possible, and Kaila@GF Life 24/7, whose blog has delicious recipes for people who are avoiding gluten or have other food allergies–and even if you don’t have a food allergy, her recipes look amazing.  If you are a fellow blogger, I encourage you to add your link to Angie’s Fiesta Friday #85, where you will encounter many talented bloggers with wonderful recipes and photos.  The  posts do not have to be about food, though most are.  Just follow the guidelines, and visit the other blogs you see linked to the fiesta.  It’s a great way to learn about blogs you might now otherwise see, and a great way to let others know about your own blog.  Although I am relatively new to the scene, I have been participating in Fiesta Friday for almost a year, and the bloggers involved are so welcoming and encouraging.  I have learned so much by visiting their blogs, and I feel a real sense of a blogging community with them.  Please feel welcome to join if you wish!

I will close with an excerpt of a poem I came across yesterday.  We are coming up on the season of fall, with all kinds of stunning natural beauty around us, and I am amazed when I look around me at the mist in the fields in the morning, or the lingering blooms of some of the flowers.  But sometimes it can be a challenge to see the beauty when there are difficulties going on in the larger world, or in our own personal worlds.  Sometimes people we encounter act in less than beautiful ways, or sometimes we ourselves act in ways we wish we could do over.  While we are trying to solve problems and right wrongs, it is important to remember to look for the beauty too.  This quote reminds me to seek it in good food, in nature, and in the natural beauty of people.  It is from the poem “The Rhodora”, by Ralph Waldo Emerson, about a beautiful flowering plant similar to the rhododendron:  “Rhodora! If the sages ask thee why/This charm is wasted on the earth and sky,/Tell them, dear, that if eyes were made for seeing,/Then Beauty is its own excuse for being….”

I just love that quote.  If you try this lasagna, I hope you enjoy it as much as we do, and have a beautiful weekend!lasagna with spinachlasagna with saucelasagna in traylasagna against blue 7

Vegetarian Lasagna

  • Servings: 8-12
  • Time: approximately 35 minutes prep time, approximately 1 hour baking time
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Ingredients:

For the Sauce: (If you are in a hurry, skip making the sauce from scratch and use four cups of store-bought sauce)

  • 3 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup of chopped onions
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 14 ounces of canned tomatoes, undrained (if they are not diced, you can break them with a spoon while they are simmering)
  • 3/4 cups of water
  • 1/4 cup of tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup of fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon of oregano, dried
  • a few sprinkles of thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground pepper

For the Filling:

  • 1/3 cup of finely chopped walnuts
  • 1 egg
  • 15 ounces of ricotta cheese
  • 2 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 1 and 1/2 cups of shredded cheese (either Fontina, Provolone, Asiago, or a combination of the three)
  • 3/4 cups of shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
  • approximately 5 ounces of fresh spinach, with as much water dried and squeezed out as possible and chopped coarsely
  • one small or 1/2 of a large zucchini, finely sliced
  • one large carrot, peeled and finely sliced
  • 12 lasagna noodles

Directions:

For the sauce, in a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onions and cook until tender, about 5 minutes.  About a minute before the onions are soft, add the garlic so it turns golden and fragrant.  Add the remaining ingredients.  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook uncovered for about 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the lasagna noodles according to the package directions.

For the filling, place the walnuts in a small skillet. Cook them over low heat for just a couple of minutes.  Remove them from the heat and chop finely.  In the same skillet, add a bit of olive oil and sauté the sliced zucchini and carrot until just tender.  Set aside.  In a large bowl, beat the egg.  Then stir in the ricotta and walnuts.  Add 1 cup of the mozzarella, the other shredded cheese, 1/2 cup of the Parmesan, and the pepper.  Stir well to combine.  Then stir in the spinach, zucchini, and carrot.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Spread half of the tomato sauce on the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch baking dish.  Place 4 of the lasagna noodles on top of the sauce in the dish.  Spread half of the ricotta filling over the four noodles.  Then top with four more noodles.  Spread the rest of the ricotta filling on top of the noodles.  Top with four more noodles.  Spread the remaining sauce over the noodles.

Bake for 30 minutes at 375 degrees.  After 30 minutes, pull the lasagna out and sprinkle it with the remaining cup of mozzarella and 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese.  Put it back in the oven and continue baking it for another 20 minutes.  Remove it from the oven and let it stand for 15 minutes before slicing it. Enjoy!

This recipe is adapted from 100 Best Vegetarian Recipes by Carol Gelles

Refreshing Tabbouleh

Tabbouleh is one of the most refreshing salads I have ever tasted.  With lots of mint, cucumber, lemon juice, parsley, and ripe, juicy tomatoes, it not only quenches my thirst and naturally cools me down, but it is also full of nutrients and tastes delicious. The grain in tabbouleh is bulgur wheat, which tastes similar to couscous.  close-up of tabboulehI really like bulgur because it is a hundred percent whole wheat and full of fiber, iron, protein, and vitamin B-6.  Bulgur is also a relatively low glycemic index food, so it causes less fluctuations in blood glucose levels than many other carbohydrates. Plus, it is filling without giving one that stuffed feeling.

mintWith the heat wave we have been experiencing this week, it is the perfect dish to satisfy a body in need of nutrients with a light touch.  It is also a perfect dish to take to potlucks and picnics, since this salad does not wilt easily.

I can’t believe I forgot about this dish all summer until now, since my whole family loves it, and I made it numerous times last summer.  We have some of the ingredients growing in our very own garden right now, including parsley, tomatoes ripening on the vine, and mint growing rampant.  That makes it even better, because the freshness of the vegetables is key to the wonderful flavor.  Luckily, I am now back on track again with the tabbouleh, and there is still time to make more, with the tomatoes still rolling in!  After eating a big bowlful during dinner tonight, my son said that he likes tabbouleh so much, he would rather eat a bowl of it than eat an Oreo (!), and with him, that is saying something.  With that kind of endorsement, I am going to make another batch tomorrow! In fact, I plan to double the recipe so it will last for more than one meal.

veggies and bulgurThe recipe I am sharing below reflects the balance of traditional tabbouleh ingredients we like best in my family.  Feel free to adjust the levels to your personal tastes.  It only takes about a half hour to whip up a batch, though it tastes best after it has chilled at least an hour.

Until the next time, stay cool, and savor what remains of the beautiful summer! The mornings have been so misty and lovely here lately, before the day starts to really heat up.  The insects are humming and there is a golden hue to the light. I hope you have a great Labor Day weekend! I am off to visit Angie’s Fiesta Friday, co-hosted today by Effie @ Food Daydreaming and Steffi @ Ginger & Bread.bulgur and veggiestwo bowls of tabboulehclose up tabbouleh

Refreshing Tabbouleh

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: approximately 35 minutes
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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup of bulgur
  • 1 cup of tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cup of cucumber, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 cup of green onions, finely sliced
  • 1/2 cup of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 cup of mint leaves, chopped
  • 1/3 cup of fresh lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup of extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Wash the bulgur in a bowl, changing the water a few times.  Then cover the bulgur with boiling water.  Set aside and let it sit for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, wash and finely chop the vegetables and herbs, and place them in a medium bowl.  Add the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.  When the bulgur is done, drain it through a fine strainer.  Take the bulgur by handfuls and squeeze the excess water out of it, then add it to the bowl with the salad mixture.  Stir gently to combine.  Cover and refrigerate the tabbouleh for at least one hour.  Serve cold.  Enjoy!