Just a Bite

Brian and I attended a lovely potluck picnic in the park this weekend. Sure, we had lots of ideas for yummy things to make, but none of them were quite right for this event. We needed something that wouldn’t melt (chocolate desserts were out), didn’t need utensils to be enjoyed (who knew what the hosts would have on hand), it needed to be super portable (we were going to have to walk to our destination) and we needed to whip it up the morning of the event. I decided to experiment with a cheddar corn muffin that I’ve made dozens of times before. But this time, I added in some fresh basil (thanks to my coworker’s garden) and a bit of tomato paste and reduced the serving size.

Tomato, Cheddar and Basil Bites

Tomato, Cheddar and Basil Bites by somethingwewhippedup.com

The end result was quite fun. The mini muffins had a flavor reminiscent of a fancy pizza, but the basil really freshened up the whole experience. The size of these also turned out to be a bonus. The potluck was filled with so many yummy treats that everyone wanted to try. I’m glad they could enjoy just a bite of our dish and then go back for seconds if they had room later. I came home with an empty tray, so I guess they did!

Tomato, Cheddar and Basil Bites

Makes about 3 dozen

  • 1 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh basil leaves

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Fill a mini muffin pan with paper liners and set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Mix until well combined and set aside.

3. In a large bowl, combine the eggs and buttermilk. Slowly whisk in the cooled melted butter. Slowly incorporate the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients in two batches, mixing well between each. Stir in the tomato paste until well combined and then fold in the cheddar cheese and basil. Fill prepared muffin pan with batter (each cup should be 3/4 of the way full) and cook for 11 to 13 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove to a cooling rack. Repeat until remaining batter is used up.

SWWU Tip Make sure these have plenty of time to sit before you serve them, about 6 hours. If you dig in too soon (like I did), they won’t have enough time to cool and the paper liners will stick.

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Gluten-Free Quinoa Tabbouleh

Whenever we’re hanging out with a crowd, be it a weekend at the farm or a stay at a beach house, we always bring a big batch of some sort of cold salad. It’s great to have an extra lunch or dinner side pre-made and also good for nibbling on throughout the day. One of my go-to favorites is a twist on tabbouleh.

Gluten-Free Quinoa Tabbouleh by somethingwewhippedup.com

Gluten-Free Quinoa Tabbouleh by somethingwewhippedup.com

The use of quinoa (instead of the usual bulgur) and chickpeas makes this filling side a protein-rich, gluten-free dish. Fresh herbs, lemon juice—and my secret ingredient, lemon zest—all add a nice refreshing pop of flavor.

Gluten-Free Quinoa Tabbouleh

Makes 8 to 10 servings

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • zest and juice from 1 lemon
  • 4 cups cooked quinoa (follow package directions)
  • 1 15.5-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 3/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 hothouse cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • kosher salt, to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. In a large bowl, combine the garlic, olive oil, white wine vinegar, lemon zest and lemon juice. Stir to combine.

2. Add the quinoa, chickpeas, scallions, mint, parsley, cucumber and tomatoes. Toss to coat. Add salt and pepper to taste. Taste and adjust seasoning (including olive oil and vinegar) if desired. Serve at room temperature or chill.

SWWU Tip: Want some extra flavor? Cook your quinoa in vegetable or chicken stock instead of water.

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Putting Some Roots Down–To Snack On!

While spring is just around the corner (fingers crossed) our local farmers’ market is still just sliding by with what’s left of the winter picks. That means there are tons of potatoes and turnips, but not a lot of color. A giant pile of carrots did catch our eye though and we figured they could provide a pretty pop at a dinner we were hosting. We ended up shredding  them along with some scallions and transforming them into crispy cakes with a caramelized shallot crème fraîche topping. They were a big hit with our friends and we’ll definitely be making them again.

Carrot Fritters with Caramelized Shallot Creme Fraiche by somethingwewhippedup.com

Carrot Fritters with Caramelized Shallot Creme Fraiche by somethingwewhippedup.com

Carrot Fritters with Caramelized Shallot Crème Fraîche

Makes 18 fritters

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup thinly sliced shallots (about 4 large)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon canola oil, plus more for frying
  • 2 eggs
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 1/2 cups shredded carrots
  • 6 scallions, shredded
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley, divided
  • 1 8-ounce container crème fraîche

1. Add the butter and shallots to a large pan over medium. Cook, stirring occasionally, until brown and caramelized, about 15 to 20  minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside to cool.

2. Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, combine the flour, 1 teaspoon canola oil, eggs and a pinch each salt and pepper; whisk. Mix in the carrots, scallions, garlic and 1 tablespoon parsley and toss until combined.

3. Fill a large heavy-bottom pan with a 1/4-inch of canola oil and heat over medium. Once bubbling, add the carrot mixture, 1/4 cup at a time, and press down to form a cake. Cook for 1 to 3 minutes or until browned, then flip and cook an additional 1 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a rack lined with paper towels and continue until all of the carrot mixture is used, using additional oil as needed.

4. Transfer the fritters to a baking sheet (preferably one lined with racks) and cook in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes or until crisp. Meanwhile, combine the crème fraîche, scallions and remaining parsley; add salt and pepper to taste. Serve alongside the heated fritters.

SWWU Tip 1: Make quick work of prepping your ingredients by shredding the carrots, scallions and garlic in a food processor fitted with the grater disk.

SWWU Tip: Fritters can be made up to one day ahead and stored in an airtight container in the fridge. Just wait to heat them in the oven until just before you serve them.

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