My brave Vermont quest to bring together food-love and mom-life.


Archive for the ‘Lunch’

Zucchini-Cheddar Muffins 0

Posted on August 22, 2011 by crankycheryl

What kills me is that when I consult this blog as a record of my days, it’s going to look like I did practically nothing this summer.

Friends, I did everything this summer.  The boys and I have been out and about, camping and playing and exploring. We’ve read a ton and seen movies and visited family and friends.  I’ve been cooking up a storm.  Canning, freezing, snacking, everything.

I’ve been working, and even (sound the trumpet) am preparing to start a brand new full time job with the University of Vermont’s Center for Sustainable Agriculture.  (Which, let’s face it, I wouldn’t jinx by advertising in advance, except the director has called and gotten my social security number and birthdate to get my paperwork started, so I’m pretty sure it’s true.)

I’ve written articles and emails and lots and lots of copy for a variety of projects.  Just not here, somehow.

Ah well.  We’re here now.

Among all of these other things, I had the good fortune to be able to provide the food for a friend’s brunch on the day after his summer wedding.  They had friends and family coming from all over the country, and they wanted to show off Vermont’s great food with a big Green Mountain brunch feast.

We got planning, and I scored some help from a friend who’s a NECI grad, and we spent a couple of days making all manner of piecrust and waffles and slicing fruit and making currant lemonade and steeping fresh mint for iced tea.  And maybe the most humble-appearing item of our line-up were these muffins, more like scones because they were so rich.  And containing zucchini because Pike said, “Well, it’s summer in Vermont.  We’ve got to have zucchini there.”  Which is totally true.

These muffins are so buttery, cheesy and good that they would have deserved to be on the menu anyway.  Just today, weeks later,  Z. helped himself to one right out the freezer from the few leftovers we’ve still got.  He would have eaten it that way, but Greg took pity and got him to thaw it in the toaster oven first.  Good.   Good either way.

Zucchini-Cheddar Muffins
Makes about 12
Adapted from Joy of Cooking

  1. Preheat an oven to 350.
  2. Grease a 12-cup muffin tin and set aside.
  3. Whisk together in a bowl:
  • 3 c. all-purpose flour
  • 4 t. baking powder
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1/2 t. baking soda
       4.   Add and toss to separate and coat with the flour mixture:
  • 1 c. shredded zucchini
  • 1 c. shredded cheddar
  • 1/4 c. chopped scallions
  • 3 T. chopped fresh basil (we had purple, so that’s what I used)
      5.   Whisk together in another bowl:
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 c. buttermilk or yogurt
  • 4 T. melted unsalted butter or vegetable oil
       6.  Add to the flour mixture and mix with a few firm but gentle strokes, just until the dry ingredients are moistened.       (Let the batter stay lumpy.)   Scoop into cups of pan, then bake for about 30-35 minutes, or until a skewer comes out     clean.  Let cool in pan for a few minutes, then enjoy while a little warm, or else cool on rack.


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Adorable Empanadas, or How I Scored a Princess Bat 3

Posted on February 19, 2011 by crankycheryl

Z.’s kindergarten teacher saw that I was making empanadas on a Facebook post, and asked if I might come in and do them with the class.  They were wrapping up their five-senses unit, and a hands-on cooking activity seemed a fun way to use those senses.

If you’re not familiar with them, empanadas are little turnovers popular in South America and parts of the Caribbean.  The crust is flaky like a pie crust, though just a bit more doughy.  Often filled with spiced ground meat, they can also contain vegetables, beans, even sweet fruit fillings (think portable pie).  I let Z. pick the flavor (potato and cheese) and started the planning.

The constraints were time and food safety, and the desire to give them a good product that they could succeed at while feeling proud of.   (If you’ve ever cooked with a group of kids you know that they can feel cheated if they don’t have something substantial to do in the creation of the food.)

The solution was to prepare the filling and crust ahead of time, and to leave out the raw eggs or anything that could be dangerous if a kid found himself sampling the ingredients raw.   Easy.  So, with my bag full of dough and filling, I arrived for the activity, we talked about how we use our senses to see the food we’re making, and listen to its crunch or sizzle, and smell its delicious smells.  Then we washed hands thoroughly (I’ve seen what these people do with those hands) and off we went.

Potato & Cheese Empanadas
About 20 turnovers

The Filling

Mix together thoroughly:

  • 4 c. leftover mashed potatoes
  • 1 c. shredded cheddar
  • 1/2 c. butternut squash puree (totally optional, but I have a reputation to maintain)
  • 3/4 t. salt

Set aside.

The crust

1.  Place in a large bowl or food processor:

  • 6 c. all purpose flour
  • 1 T. baking powder
  • 2 t. salt

Stir or pulse until combined, then add:

Pulse or mix until mixture looks like coarse crumbs.  Drizzle over the top:

  • about 1 1/4 c. water

Pulse just a few times or mix gently with fork until dough is just dampened enough to gather into a ball.

2.  Divide into ~20 flat disks, each with a piece of parchment or wax paper between them.  Refrigerate for an hour, or until you’re ready to proceed.  N.B. – If you do make this ahead of time, make sure you give the dough an hour at room temperature to get it to a workable consistency before proceeding.


1.  Preheat oven to 400.

2.  Take each disk one at a time, and roll it or press it into a circle.  In our class we distributed a piece of parchment to each kid, which is worth bringing in if your fabulous teacher doesn’t have it right at hand.

Press the dough (or help the kids press the dough) into a circle.  The shape doesn’t matter terribly, but it should at least have even edges and be symmetrical so it will fold over and seal neatly in an upcoming step.

3.  Take a rounded tablespoon of the filling, and put it just below the center of the circle.  Kids will need help with this as they’ll be likely to put too much filling on for it to close up properly.  How you deal with that is up to you – it’s not a bad idea to let kids learn some food science by seeing what happens when they make different cooking choices.  On the other hand, it’s nice to let everyone succeed in a class setting.

4.  Fold over the dough from top to bottom and seal by pressing.  If your dough is at all crumbly, dipping your finger in water and running it along the edge can help the edges sort of glue together.  Use a fork to crimp the edges, and then place each on an ungreased baking sheet until they’re all completed.

5.  Poke each with a fork two or three times.  Then give them an egg wash by beating

  • an egg or two with a little milk or water and then brushing on the top.

Then we had to run, run, run our empanadas to the kitchen to have them baked before pizzas went in the oven for Pizza Day.  You don’t mess with Pizza Day.

5.  Bake for about 15 minutes, until nicely browned.  Let cool for a few minutes (or the amount of time it takes to run back up the hall to your classroom) and then cut in half and eat.

What we found was that about half the kids were willing to try them, and most of those loved them.  Z. was too conflicted by the warring emotions associated with having me in the classroom and just couldn’t manage eating a new food too.  But one of his friends especially loved them, and that’s how I got my very own Princess Bat.


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Chickpea, Corn & Smoked Cheddar Wraps 0

Posted on September 23, 2010 by crankycheryl

There’s a part of me that loves this time of year as the height of the harvest draws to a close.  The wild ride of summer is a fun romp, sure, but I like the slowdown, how there’s time to stop and appreciate the things that are coming ripe more slowly.  The apples, now.  The tomatoes that have stopped stampeding in from the garden or farmer’s market.  I feel a little less desperate to ENJOY EVERYTHING AT ITS PEAK RIGHT NOW WITH AS LITTLE ADORNMENT AS POSSIBLE!


In this very seemly spirit, here’s a yummy vegetarian dinner that makes use of what’s in season in a completely reasonable way.  And you can make it the rest of the year too, with frozen corn and the best tomatoes you can get your hands on.

Around these parts, wraps are one of the few foods that I can make that E. and Z. will both eat in one form or another, and that the grown-ups can actually enjoy.  These were especially successful for Z., who shredded his wrap and made careful little petit fours with avocado slices, caramelized onion, avocado and cheese.

Chickpea, Corn & Smoked Cheddar Wraps
Makes 8 wraps

1.  Have 8 wraps or tortillas warmed and ready, wrapped in a tea towel that’s very slightly damp and in a very low oven.

2.  In a large skillet, heat until rippling:

  • 2 T. olive oil

3.  Add:

  • 1 c. chopped onion (I cut mine fairly fine, you can do yours as you like)
  • 1 c. chopped red pepper
  • 4 purple tomatillos, cut into quarters (optional)

Cook until very soft.

4.  While onion mix is cooking, prepare other ingredients for wraps.  I like to put them all on one large plate for the middle of the table where everyone can help themselves to what they like.

  • 4 oz. smoked cheddar, sliced thinly
  • 1 juicy tomato, cut in half and sliced thinly
  • 2 cups of lettuce, cleaned and torn into small pieces if large
  • 1/2 c. cilantro, cleaned and coarsely chopped

5.  When onion mix is well-cooked, stir in:

  • 2 cups drained cooked or canned chick peas
  • kernels from 4 ears fresh corn

Cook until heated through, then place mix in serving bowl.

6.  Put together wraps with a couple tablespoons of the chickpea mix, and whatever other ingredients you like.

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Sweet Summer Salad 0

Posted on July 27, 2010 by crankycheryl

Colorful, easy and refreshing, this is a nice use for all the stuff starting to show up or wind up here in the gardens and CSA shares.

Making it also marked the last use of my favorite bowl, which has finally cracked through to such a degree that liquids seep out.  It’s now on the porch with some straggly hot pepper plants limping over its side.

Sweet Summer Salad
4 servings

  • 4 ears of corn, boiled for 30 seconds (yes, only 30), and kernels cut from the cobs
  • 1 qt. edible pod peas (snow or sugar snaps), strings removed, blanched for 30 seconds

  • 3 cups watermelon, either cubes or balls
  • 1 T. lemon or lime juice
  • 1 t. fish sauce or umeboshi vinegar
  • 1 dash vinegar based hot sauce

Mix it all together and serve cold or at room temperature.

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Curses! Greek Veggie Burgers 4

Posted on May 05, 2010 by crankycheryl

I don’t know what is happening to me, but I seem to be turning into Cursing Mommy.

We were coming home from Costco the other day, merging onto the highway.  There were three cars driving in our direction, and two of them merged into the passing lane so we could merge in.   I started to get up to speed and steer into the right-hand lane, but saw that car #3 had not yielded.  This is clearly annoying, but really not an unexpectedly big deal, right?

So what happened next is a little confusing.  A word came out of my mouth that I didn’t really know was in my vocabulary, a word so far beyond polite conversation that I can’t write it here.  It was a word that had Z. in an explosion of delight there in  the backseat:

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!  What’s a dushbag Mommy?!  HAHAHAHAHAHA!  DUSHBAG, DUSHBAG, DUSHBAG!  Mommy said duuuuuushbag.

Proud I was not.

Clearly I have no excuse for what came out of my mouth as I was reading about the recall of all those children’s products and realized I had given the boys the tainted medicine.  Upset, of course, but was it really necessary to provoke E. to ask:

Son of a what, Mommy?

It’s a good thing I’ve got some nice mellow dinners like this one to get myself on an even keel.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

Greek Veggie Burgers
yield: about 12

Puree together in a food processor, leaving it just a bit chunky for texture

  • 1 1/2 cups steamed and drained kale or spinach
  • 1/2 c. chopped sauteed mushrooms
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked or canned chick peas, drained

Place spinach mixture in bowl and stir in:

  • 1 1/2 cups bulgur wheat (3/4 c. dry, soaked in 1 1/4 c. boiling water for 30 minutes)
  • 3/4 cup vital wheat gluten
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 T. tamari, soy sauce, or Bragg’s
  • 1 t. chopped garlic
  • 1 t. dried lemon peel
  • 1 t. chopped fresh oregano or 1/2 t. dried

Form into patties, then place on baking sheet (give a little space around each, but they won’t expand like baked goods so don’t worry too much).  Bake for 25 minutes, then carefully flip with a spatula and bake for 20 more, until nicely browned.  Serve in whatever burger-y way you like.

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When in Doubt: Fritters 3

Posted on April 23, 2010 by crankycheryl

We were out to dinner the other night and a friend pulled a couple of crinkly plastic bags out of her purse.  She had a share of a wild-crafting CSA, and declared that she needed some help “appreciating” the coltsfoot and sedum with which she had been gifted that week.

We nibbled at bites, furrowed our brows, and concluded that frying was the answer.  Definitely frying.

Two days later, Z. and I were having our usual Monday at home and it was time for breakfast when I stumbled on the bags in the fridge.  Fritter time.

So I beat together until smooth:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 c. white whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 c. milk
  • 1/4 t. kosher salt

And then stirred in a cup or so of the mixed wild stuff.

Then heated up in a large skillet until it was slightly rippling:

  • 1 T. butter
  • 1 T. olive oil

Then poured the whole mix in, and let it sit until the underside was set and the top was starting to bubble, when it got flipped.

Then I cut it into wedges and ate half of it. It was really good – the coltsfoot has a sort of cumin-like taste that I found delicious.  The sedum tasted most like wilted thick spinach, pretty green but unoffensive.

And this is when the really startling thing happened.  Z. was watching Sid the Science Kid when he started wrinkling up his little nose and said, “I smell something yummy, Mommy!”  Hmm.  I asked if he wanted some.  I gave him a little slice, which he promptly devoured.  And then he ate the rest!  Hardly picking out the greens at all!

Truth be told, I’m still a little stunned.

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Fennel-Tomato-Orange Relish 0

Posted on April 21, 2010 by crankycheryl

Now I have a four-year old whose favorite word is, “stupid.”   He’s discovered its versatility, with applications like,

“I can’t have a second dessert today?  I don’t want to be part of this stupid family any more.”

“My face got wet.  This swim class is 10 amounts of STUPID!”

“My [child-centered, loving, hippy-dippy, filled-with-friends] pre-school is stupid and I’M NOT GOING.”

It’s a joy and a half, I tell you.

But still it’s spring and it’s beautiful and I crept outside this afternoon to do some gardening and before I knew it both boys had found their way out with me to dig in the dirt and water plants.  And then we spied a new neighbor’s little boy around their age and in a flash they had all armed themselves with plastic guns and were climbing the dirt pile and refusing to come in when the rain started.  It felt like childhood.

And while this was going on I was working on a clean-out-the-crisper effort, and turned some random bits of of this and that into a fully respectable and totally delicious relish.  We had it with some mashed potatoes and lamb chops I had found in the freezer and defrosted, but it would be great with some sauteed tofu, or spread on a wrap with some brie or prosciutto, or with some eggs for breakfast.

Do consider yourself warned:  it is far too stupid for ornery four-year-olds.

Fennel-Tomato-Orange Relish
Makes about 2 cups

In a large skillet heat:

  • 3 T. olive oil until rippling


  • 1 large onion cut into 3/4″ dice
  • 1 large or 2 small fennel bulbs, white parts cut crosswise and then diced into 3/4″ pieces

Cook over medium-low heat until transparent, then add:

  • 2 diced plum tomatoes
  • 1 organic orange with its peel, cut into 1/2″ dice 
  • 1 organic lemon with its peel, cut into 1/2″ dice
  • 1/2 t. kosher salt
  • finely chopped fronds from the fennel

Cook for about 10 minutes at a light bubbling simmer, then cover and cook for 30 minutes more over very low heat.  Stir 2 or 3 times and add a bit more olive oil if it starts to stick too much.  Remove lid and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes more.  Serve warm or cool and use as you like.

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Easy & Tropical End-of-Winter Salad 0

Posted on April 07, 2010 by crankycheryl

Among the 5 or 6 fresh fruits or vegetables that E. will eat are mangoes, which is just a kick in the pants to an aspiring Vermont localvore mom.  But I love them too, so we’ve often got one or two around.

And now, while we’re waiting for those first wonderful local greens of the year, why not throw a couple things together for a salad that’s light and bright and will lend a spark to whatever you serve it with.

This is such an easy little recipe that I keep checking it over to see what I forgot.  It’s all there, but  if you like you could go ahead and add some sliced red onion (I don’t terribly care for its strong flavor with fresh fruit), or some toasted pepitas.  Some goat cheese or manchego wouldn’t hurt.

Easy & Tropical End-of-Winter Salad
Serves 4

Rip into 2″ pieces then rinse and dry:

  • 1 head romaine lettuce

Toss lettuce with:

  • 1 T. fresh lemon juice
  • 3 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • sprinkle of kosher salt
  • 2 or 3 grinds of freshly ground pepper
  • sprinkle of cayenne or chili powder (optional)

Cut into large dice:

  • 1 ripe mango
  • 1 ripe avocado

Place fruit on top of the lettuce and serve.

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Birthday Lunch for Mom: Squash-Lemongrass Soup 1

Posted on March 23, 2010 by crankycheryl

My mother always seems to be away for her February birthday, which is a pretty sensible reaction to late winter in Vermont, really.

So it was late but at last we got together.  My mom loves Korean food and culture and so I was researching a lunch to build around the kimchi that was newly ready when she left this comment here on the blog:

“I feel faint after seeing your latest post on steamed buns.”

So of course I had to make another round of those, and then since the whole Korean theme was sort of blown, I felt free to improvise a soup to use up our last butternut squash – vaguely inspired by the knowledge that there was such a thing as Korean pumpkin porridge.

It was a nice, nibbly sort of lunch – a couple of the buns, some soup, the kimchi, and then a traditional spinach side dish.  Maybe you too have one last squash from the winter CSA and want to give it a whirl.

Butternut Squash-Lemongrass Soup
4 servings

  • 1 butternut squash, cut in half, seeded, and roasted for 30 minutes at 400
  • 1 – 2 cups mild vegetarian stock (if you’re using storebought, try the “Better than Bouillion” line, which has less of that overly-processed taste than many do)
  • 1/2 c. coconut milk
  • 1 t. lemongrass paste (I’m sorry – I used the stuff in a tube!), or else 1/2 t. lemon zest, 1 t. lemon juice
  • 1 t. chopped ginger
  • salt to taste
  • toasted hulled squash seeds for garnish (you should roast the ones you scooped from the squash for a snack, but they’re a little too coarse for a pleasant topping)

Once the squash is cool enough to handle, scoop its flesh and 1 c. stock, coconut milk, lemongrass, ginger, and a generous pinch of salt in a blender or food processor.  Adjust its thickness with more stock if you wish, and taste for salt.  Heat until just at a simmer and serve topped with the seeds.

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Insalata de Jefe 1

Posted on February 09, 2010 by crankycheryl

Oh, it’s crunch time for aspiring localvores.  We’re eating so much out of the freezer that we saved from our summer CSA share, we’re munching on Vermont apples and slicing up my reduced fat Cabot cheddar.  It’s delicious, and Vermont farmers, I thank you.

But it’s also tropical food season, and I’m loving the avocados and oranges that are so beautiful and abundant.  And that plus my perpetual love of tapas led me to put together a Spanish-inspired salad a couple of times this week.

Great name, right?  Get it?  Chef Salad?  But it’s Spanish, so it becomes jefe salad!

Oy.  Someone get me somewhere tropical, rapido.

Insalata de Jefe

2 servings

  • 2 links spicy sausage (chorizo, maybe – I used a vegan spicy one from our local co-op)
  • 2 satsumas, mandarins, clementines, or any very sweet, juicy and seedless citrus fruit you like, peeled and sections pulled apart
  • 1/2 red onion, cut into slivers
  • 1/2 cup oil-cured olives, pitted
  • 1/2 avocado, cut into thin slices

Toss together:

  • 6 cups salad greens
  • 1 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 t. sherry vinegar
  • kosher salt
  • fresh ground pepper

Place greens in bowls, and other ingredients on top, and serve immediately.  You might like some bread on the side.   Not me, since I’m suddenly aware I’m going to a high school reunion in 3 weeks.  But why should you suffer?

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    Cheryl Herrick's brave Vermont quest to bring together food-love and mom-life. All original content (written, graphical, recipes or other), unless otherwise noted, is © and/or TM Cheryl Herrick. All rights reserved by the author. Want to reprint a recipe? Just get in touch and ask.

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