Baby Peppers Stuffed with Sausage and Herbs

The first official week of fall was SO HOT this year! We had record highs 5 or 6 days in a row, it was the hottest week of the whole summer, and it wasn't even summer. Kind of ridiculous. It's usually in the low to mid 70s, and we got up to 95 degrees! I'm not complaining. I know it will be cold before I know it, so I tried to enjoy the heat while I could. I decided to enjoy these unseasonable days with a summery stuffed pepper dish full of delicious sausage, in season veggies, and lots of herbs. Enjoyed on the front porch with a glass of Prosecco, it was spot on. And I ended the night with ice cream, obviously!

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A recipe in one of the cookbooks I recently checked out of the library inspired this dish. I didn't follow the recipe all that closely, but used it as a guide. The original recipe called for chorizo, but my butcher was out, so I went with their verde sausage which is one of my favorites. I don't know exactly what's in it, but it has herbs and a little heat, and is absolutely delicious. It worked out perfectly and these little stuffed peppers were perfect. I will definitely make these little guys again. And really, and sausage would be delicious, chorizo, verde, Italian, choose your own adventure. 

 
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Baby Peppers Stuffed with Sausage and Herbs
Adapted from Les Marchés Francais: Four Seasons of French Dishes from the Paris Markets by Brian DeFehr and Pauline Boldt
Ingredients

  • 10-12 mini bell peppers
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 1/2 jalapeno, diced (optional)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 4 oil packed anchovies, or about 2 teaspoons anchovy paste
  • 1 small or 1/2 large zucchini, diced
  • 2 Plum tomatoes, chopped
  • Shredded kale (optional)
  • 2 verde sausages (alternatively Italian sausage or Chorizo are good options)
  • Salt
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh parsley

Directions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Oil a medium baking dish. Cut the tops off the sweet peppers. With a small knife, dig out the seeds and place the now prepped peppers in the baking dish (slice off a thin slice on the bottom of any of the peppers that want to fall over to create a flat surface). 

Preheat a large skillet over medium heat. Once warm, add a couple of tablespoons olive oil and the add the onions along with a little salt. Cook for 8-10 minutes until softened and starting to brown. Add the jalapeno (if using) and garlic and let cook for 1-2 minutes until the garlic is fragrant. Add the anchovies or anchovy paste,  zucchini, chopped tomatoes and kale (if using; I had a little hanging out in my garden and so just threw it in, but it's not needed). If the skillet is looking too dry, add a little bit of water. Let cook for a couple of minutes until everything is getting nice and wilty. Add more salt to taste. 

Remove the casing from the sausages and crumble into the pan with the onion and zucchini mixture. Cook until the sausage is just about cooked through. Remove from heat and add the minced parsley and stir everything together. (At this point you can add a little bit of shreded of diced cheese; I had a small piece of Manchego floating around the fridge that was perfect for this, but you can just skip it too). 

Use a teaspoon to stuff the mixture into the prepared sweet peppers. Place in preheated oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, until the peppers are fully softened. Remove from oven and top with shredded parmesan cheese if desired. Let cool. Serve warm or at room temperature. 
 

Pflaumenkuchen

Every year there seem to be "new" discoveries to make at the farmers market. Some fruit or vegetable that I just never really noticed before seems to jump out at me and I start seeing it everywhere, and see recipes all over the internet that I probably would have just skipped over before. This year I "discovered" Italian Prune Plums. They are a small, egg shaped, dark purple/almost black plum that is nice enough raw, really shines when baked. Hence this recipe. I bought a small basket a few weeks ago and ate them raw in yogurt with granola. Nice, but certainly not something to write home about. But then I saw the recipe for this yeasted breakfast cake. The description of the plums baking up into a "sweet-tart, floral, rich, and grapey" when cooked left my mouth watering. I was hooked. 

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This cake was a simple yeasted dough that was mildly sweet with just a little richness from butter and an egg. The perfect compliment to the juicey and tart plums that really did bake up into a deliciously jammy topping. Covered in a good handful of cinnamon sugar it really was the perfect late summer breakfast treat. Paired with a steaming cup of coffee you will not go wrong. 

 
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Pflaumenkuchen (Yeasted Plum Cake) 
Adapted from Sweet Amandine, originally from My Berlin Kitchen, by Luisa Weiss
Ingredients
For the dough:

  • 1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons (195 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons (25 grams) sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • Grated zest of half a lemon (optional, I didn't have one but I know it would be great)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6-8 tablespoons (3-4 ounces) whole milk
  • 3 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter
  • 1 egg 

For the fruit and topping:

  • 1¼ pounds Italian prune plums
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Directions
Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan or cake pan.   

Make the dough:  
Put the milk and the 3 tablespoons butter into a small saucepan and heat over the lowest possible flame, swirling occasionally, until the butter has just melted.  Add the vanilla extract. Set aside to cool until lukewarm.  Meanwhile, blend the dry ingredients - the flour, 2 tablespoons sugar, yeast, lemon zest, and salt - in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. 

In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg with the lukewarm milk and butter.  Pour the mixture into the dry ingredients, and stir with a wooden spoon until you have a loose dough.  Knead on medium speed for about 4 minutes, or until a smooth dough forms.  If your dough is sticky, add a tablespoon or two of flour, only as much as you need to keep it manageable.  Form the dough into a ball, place it in the buttered pan, cover with a towel, and let it rise until it's doubled in bulk, anywhere from one to two and a half hours, depending on the temperature of your kitchen.

Prepare the fruit and topping:
While the dough rises, heat the oven to 350 degrees, and pit and quarter the prune plums.  Stir together the remaining 3 tablespoons of sugar and the cinnamon in a small bowl and set aside.  Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and leave to cool.         

When the dough is ready, deflate it with your fingertips.  Push it down evenly along the bottom of the pan and about 1-inch up the sides.  Gently press the quartered plums into the dough at a 45-degree angle, making concentric circles.  (Start at the edge and work your way toward the middle.)  If you have extra plums on your cutting board once you've arranged your circles, squeeze them in somewhere.  The more plums, the better.  Sprinkle with the cinnamon-sugar mixture, spoon the melted butter over top, and set aside, uncovered, for 20 minutes.

Bake for 40-45 minutes (the original recipe called for 30-40 minutes, but mine was definitely not done at 30 minutes, and was questionable at 40; I'd start checking at 30 just in case your oven runs a little hotter than mine, but it may take 45 + minutes so use your best judgement), until the crust is brown and the plums are bubbling.  Cool until the fruit is no longer hot.  

Vacation at Lake Macatawa

Intern year is over! In some ways it went super fast, and in other aspects it was incredible slow. Regardless, I can hardly believe it's over. I'm ready to start year 2. It's crazy to think that by the end of this next year I'll be 2/3 done with residency, with only 1 year to go. To celebrate, Lara and I were able to get a few days off and we decided to spend these rare days off at the lake. My aunt and uncle generously allowed us to stay at their lake house in Holland, MI. Although the weather wasn't the most ideal for a lakeside vacation, some a little rain, a lot of clouds, it was still about as relaxing as possible, the perfect way to end out the year. Enjoy the pics!

 
 

 

Our first day included a trip to the local farmer's market after which our kitchen was overflowing with produce. Subsequently we ate very, very well! 

 

Zucchini Greek Yogurt Muffins

It's that time of year again, zucchini season. The summer squash are exploding from every stand at the farmer's market, dark green, light green, yellow. Every year I hear people groaning about their excess of summer squash but to be honest I've never felt like I had too much of this mild vegetable. I honestly think I could eat grilled zucchini all day, every day of August. It is so good. A little olive oil, a pinch or two of salt, +/- some chili powder or smoked paprika, I never get tired of this simple preparation. And then there's summer squash's sweeter side, the magic of zucchini bread and muffins. 

I whipped up these muffins last weekend to keep in my freezer all week, easy to pull out for a mid-morning snack or to tide me over in the late afternoon before dinner. They ended up being the perfect choice. Nothing flashy, mildly flavored, not overly sweet. A true snack. Each one is on the smaller side, good for a quick bite when you need something fast! 

These muffins are full of wholesome ingredients, the zucchini obviously, whole grain oats,  whole wheat flour, and Greek yogurt. Naturally sweetened for the most part with a little honey (plus just a bit of brown sugar), and lightly spiced with cinnamon. They may not win any beauty contests, but they will give you something tasty and nutritions to sink your teeth into when that craving strikes. 

 
 

Greek Yogurt Zucchini Muffins
Adapted from Running with Spoons
Ingredients

  • 1 cup (120 g) whole wheat or spelt flour
  • 1 cup (80 g) old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup (225 g) plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup (80g) honey
  • 2 tbsp (25 g) brown sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (115 g) shredded zucchini, squeezed of excess liquid

Directions
Preheat your oven to 350F (176C) and prepare a muffin pan by lining the cavities with paper liners or greasing them with oil or cooking spray. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, oats, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg until it becomes slightly frothy. Whisk in the yogurt, honey, sugar, and vanilla, mixing until well combined. Fold in the shredded zucchini.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, mixing gently until just combined. Fold in the chocolate chips, if using.

Divide the batter evenly among the 12 muffin cups, filling them almost to the top.

Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the tops of the muffins begin to turn golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. Allow the muffins to cool in the pan for ~15 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely. Store them in an airtight container 

Yields: 12 small muffins