Stuffed Artichokes

Stuffed Artichokes

Yesterday I tried something new. I prepared and served stuffed artichokes. Up until that point, my experience with eating artichokes extended to smothering their hearts with cheese and spinach in a dip. I can not say that these stuffed artichokes were better, but they certainly were different.

A stuffed artichokes recipe first caught my eye when I was researching Oktoberfest recipes on The Beeroness earlier this fall. If you are a first-time artichoke stuffer like me, checking out the great pictures The Beeroness provides is a good idea.

They may look complicated, but stuffed artichokes are not at all difficult to prepare. To get the filling in between the petals, I found it easiest to place my artichoke right down into the bowl of stuffing mixture. I then spooned the stuffing mixture right over the artichoke itself, filling its petals almost like water running down a fountain.

Stuffed Artichokes

 

Stuffed Artichokes

Although they are easy to prepare, these stuffed artichokes are a mess to eat. I wished I would have worn a plastic bib like they give you at seafood restaurants on the beach and placed a metal bucket nearby to discard the leaves.

I did not tear out the heart of my artichoke (sounds so cruel!) as seen on The Beeroness, and I am glad I did not. Taking a bite from the center felt like a reward after nibbling through all of the outer petals! And did you know the artichoke heart that we most often eat will actually bloom over time? Lovely and delicious. Enjoy!

Stuffed Artichokes

 

Stuffed Artichokes
 
Author:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 4 artichokes
  • 1 cup Italian bread crumbs
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup cooked and crumbled bacon
  • Olive oil for drizzling
  • 1 cup beer for steaming
Instructions
  1. Trim the artichokes by cutting one inch off the tops and removing the stems so the artichokes can sit upright. Use kitchen scissors to trim the pointy tips off each petal.
  2. Combine the bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, and bacon in a bowl.
  3. Loosen the petals of a choke from the center (so that it looks like a flower in bloom). Fill in each petal with a little of the bread crumb mixture.
  4. Drizzle lightly with olive oil.
  5. Place the artichokes (stems down) in a pot so that they fit snugly and remain upright.
  6. Fill the pot with an inch or two beer (or water) and place a lid over the top.
  7. Steam over medium heat for 40-60 minutes or until the petals can be pulled from the center of the vegetable without too much tugging.
 

Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

I love reading what everyone is thankful for this time of year. Most of the social media posts I read are about being grateful for family and the like. I also appreciate the less profound posts such as this one about the Magic Eraser products used to remove marks from walls: “I know the package says magic, but man, they are amazing. Every time I use them I swear I stand there with my mouth wide open in wonder it truly worked! Thank you Mr. Clean!” Whatever makes you happy, right?

Although I have yet to publicly announce my thanks on Facebook or Twitter, I make a legitimate effort to say thank you for something each day of the year. Some times they are simple things I usually take for granted, like having a bed to sleep in or the convenience of a working washer and dryer in my town home. Other days, my thanks are more profound, and I express how grateful I am for my health and the health of my family.

Yesterday evening before the start of a yoga class, I was chatting with a friend who mentioned he just returned from a lovely cruise to the Bahamas. I did not catch all of the details (music was playing and I may have a bit of a hearing problem), but the gist of the story was this: There was a man on the beach selling shells, and for whatever reason, he was offered a trade of two pears instead of money for a shell. My friend said that man ate both of those pears right away because “he was hungry!” Emphasis on hungry. Thoughts of that hungry man on the beach stayed with me throughout the class.

Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

The cynic in me says I know nothing about that man or his situation or even if the story as I interpreted it is based in reality. But the theme of appreciation for what I have yet take for granted spoke to me through that story. My dad has always said the one thing he does not understand about God is how He can give some people so much, yet others so little. There certainly is an argument to be made that people make their own luck and hard work can get someone anywhere, but when I look at the circumstances some individuals are born into, that seems like a pretty tall order.

I wanted to share that story with you today in hopes it inspires you to take just a moment to say a silent or public thanks for something good, no matter how minor, in your life.

As we approach Thanksgiving, a number of us will likely be giving thanks for good food and the work of those who prepared it. This recipe is likely not one to grace the holiday table, but I do think it has a place in the rotation of day-after-Thanksgiving leftovers.

Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

If you are not keen on the bacon and fruit version I prepared, you are in luck. There are approximately 1,600 recipes for stuffed sweet potatoes floating around the internet. I have listed some of my favorites below.

For a Mediterranean option, visit Gourmande in the Kitchen.  If a Southwestern style is more your speed, Elly Says Opa has you covered. And for what I call a California version full of avocado, Betsy Life is the place to be. How Sweet It Is offers both meat lovers and fruit lovers a stuffed sweet potato option.

For breakfast, try a sweet potato stuffed with eggs and cheese at Running to the Kitchen. Later in the day, Healthy. Happy. Life. has both skinny and fully loaded options available for lunch and dinner. Enjoy!

Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
 
Author:
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, washed and scrubbed
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • 1 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large pear, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • ¼ cup crumbled bacon, fully cooked
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese
Instructions
  1. Pierce the clean sweet potatoes in several places with a fork and wrap with aluminum foil.
  2. Place the wrapped potatoes on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees F for approximately one hour. The potatoes should be tender when fully cooked.
  3. While the potatoes cool, plump the dried cranberries by placing them in a bowl and pouring warm water over them to cover (a few will float).
  4. While they fatten up, melt the butter in a skillet over medium-high heat.
  5. Add the pears and sauté until tender and slightly golden, about 4 minutes.
  6. Drain the plump cranberries and add them to the skillet along with the walnuts, bacon, ginger, and brown sugar.
  7. Sauté about a minute to warm, then remove from heat.
  8. Cut the tops and bottoms off each potato and slit lengthwise.
  9. Use a fork to gently mash the pulp inside each potato.
  10. Mound 1 cup of the filling mixture into and onto the sweet potatoes.
  11. Garnish each potato with one tablespoon of crumbled feta cheese.
Notes
The amount of filling this recipe makes could easily be spread across three medium to large sweet potatoes. Simply go a bit lighter than one cup of filling per potato.
 

Stuffed Eggplants

Stuffed Eggplants

Eggplant is one of these vegetables that I have very little experience with. Up until cooking with one this past summer, I think its safe to say my encounters with eggplant had extended only to Eggplant Parmesan at Olive Garden. I am not sure if eggplant is something that is just not popular in my family, or if it is just not popular at all.

Although my experience with it is limited, I do enjoy eggplant. Its meaty texture reminds me a lot of the large Portabella mushrooms I like on a grilled vegetable sandwich.

Stuffed Eggplants

I got involved with eggplants after a co-worker shared garden produce last July. I had no idea what to do with the things, but they were so cute I could not resist taking them home. Notably, the urge to take things home based on cuteness alone could be detrimental at, say, the animal shelter (kittens!),  but in the case of cast off produce, it served me well.

After putting out a call for ideas, I ended up stuffing those eggplants. I liked them so much, I knew I would make some another time, and that time is now. If you like the idea of stuffed vegetables but prefer to use rice or quinoa in place of bread crumbs, simply click on over to the stuffed recipes page and refer to the tomato and pepper recipes. Enjoy!

Stuffed Eggplants

Stuffed! Eggplants
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 medium to large eggplant
  • 1 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ cup onion, chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • ½ cup diced tomatoes
  • 1½ cups Italian-style bread crumbs
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • ¼ cup mozzarella cheese
Instructions
  1. Halve the eggplant lengthwise and scoop out the flesh.Take care not to damage the skins as they will be used to hold the filling.
  2. Set the shells aside and chop the flesh.
  3. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium low heat.
  4. Saute the chopped eggplant along with the onion and celery until soft.
  5. Remove from heat and stir in the tomatoes.
  6. While the vegetables cool, stir together the bread crumbs, grated Parmesan cheese and the egg.
  7. Stir together the cooked vegetables and the bread crumb mixture.
  8. Fill the reserved eggplant shells with the mixture and place in a lightly greased baking dish.
  9. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 20 minutes. During the last few minutes of baking, sprinkle with mozzarella or another cheese of choice.