1) Go to a nearby farmers market- hungry
2) Buy a new or used cookbook - pictures pictures pictures
3) Go youtube and blog-xploring - nothing inspires like a how-to video
4) Try a recipe with an unfamiliar ingredient or unfamiliar pairing/combination - mine might be rhubarb pie (never had rhubarb!) - it's the mystery factor
My favorite way to get inspired?
5) Try a meal without a "main course"
I put together a "fall" menu consisting of a cool winter salad, a hearty soup, and a savory lo-carb muffin. It has a lot of different elements and textures and should appeal to many palates. This menu works for a Sunday lunch or a light weeknight dinner. The nutrients in this menu are very balanced.
We started with a wonderful simple salad.
Arugula, Orange and Fennel Salad
1 bag Arugula or Spring Mix Lettuce
2 Whole Oranges, with the peel on
1 Fennel Bulb, cut in skinny wedges
walnuts or candied pecans
salt & pepper
I don't have Arugula, so I used store bought spring mix in a bag. Works perfectly fine.
Put the spring mix in a mixing bowl.
Zest one of the oranges (or more if you like orange flavor) onto the spring mix
Add Fennel wedges.
Peel the oranges, and then cut 1/4" thick slices. Each slice should be fully round and showing the "spokes of the wheel".. (I hope that makes sense!). Set these slices aside until you are ready to serve.
When ready to serve, toss the mix with salt, pepper, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Plate the salad greens and then top with 2 or 3 orange slices.
Top orange slices w/ freshly ground pepper and nuts.
(The fennel isn't a must, but it really makes the salad wonderfully wintery)
Then we had...
Potato and Leek Soup
I love this soup so much and always forget to make it.
2 T butter
1-2 stalks celery, chopped
2-3 leeks, dark greens and tough skins removed, cleaned, sliced in half lengthwise and then sliced up to the root
2 c veg stock or 2c water
2 c sliced potatoes (not russet or red skinned)
1 T cream or 3 T half & half
Heat the butter in a large pot (dutch oven?) and sautee celery and leeks until tender. Add slided potatoes, stir until coated and then add water or vegetable stock immediately. Liquid should barely cover all ingredients. If not, add more liquid. Bring to a boil and then cover and simmer. When potatoes are tender, mash contents until you have a thick soupy mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add cream for color and texture.
Sun Dried Tomato and Cottage Cheese Muffins
Recipe from Rose Elliot - who is the awesome-est vegetarian cook ever - super creative!
(my recommendation - don't use cupcake liners - spray the pan instead - otherwise the batter sticks to the paper!)
You can use the flour of your choice in this recipe.
To grind the almonds I gave them a whirl in my food processor.
1 cup plain cottage cheese (low-fat is fine)
3/4 cup parmesan cheese, freshly grated
1/4 cup flour
1 cup almonds, very finely ground
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes (in oil), finely chopped
1/4 cup basil, finely chopped
1/4 cup water
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 400F degrees. Line a muffin pan with medium-sized paper baking cups, you'll need nine of them.
Put the cottage cheese into a bowl with all but 1/4 cup of the Parmesan cheese, the flour, ground almonds, baking powder, sun-dried tomatoes, basil, water, and eggs, and season with salt, then mix all together.
Spoon the mixture into the muffing cups 3/4 full, scatter with the remaining Parmesan, and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until set, risen, and golden brown. Serve as hot or at room temperature.
Makes 9 muffins.