Perfect Hard-Boiled Ruby Eggs ♥ Easter Recipe!

Ruby Eggs, just Perfect Hard-Boiled Eggs soaked in beet juice for lovely Easter color.
graphic button small size size 10 Just in time for making Easter eggs: How to cook perfect hard-boiled eggs, then dye the eggs in beet juice or pickled beet juice to create stunning ruby-colored "whites" with sunny-yellow centers. graphic button small size size 10

~recipe update & republished for a little Easter cooking inspiration 2015~
~more recently updated recipes~

Oh so Easter-basket pretty! And yet ever so simple, just hard-boiled eggs soaked overnight in beet juice. Don't worry, soaking transfers beet color, not beet flavor.

Cooking eggs should be simple! Instead, hard-boiled eggs may "look" simple but they can be tricky to cook. The eggs can turn out too soft (undercooked) or too hard and crumbly (overcooked) or ringed with green (cooked improperly) or impossible to peel (probably too fresh). For each problem, someone supplies a list of tricks aka solutions. No more.

I clipped this "perfect hard-boiled eggs every time" recipe so long ago there's no memory of its source. But this technique (a recipe for hard-cooked eggs? I suppose it's that!) creates perfect hard-boil eggs. Every time. With both fresh eggs (which are said to be still trickier) and older eggs. The trick is to live by the clock for precision timing is the key. Get out your timer!

Finnish Rosolli Salad ♥ Traditional at Christmas (and Now Easter?)

Finnish Rosolli Salad,  a rainbow of grated beet, carrot and potato traditional at Christmas in Finland but somehow perfect for Easter, too. #LowCarb #Paleo #GF #Whole30 For Weight Watchers, #PP3. #AVeggieVenture
graphic button small size size 10 Today's beet salad recipe: The traditional Christmas salad in Finland called Rosolli Salad, a rainbow of grated beet, carrot and potato, served here in layers almost like a Scandinavian Seven-Layer Salad. Rosolli Salad is great for parties, especially since it not only may but should be made up to a whole day ahead of time to allow the flavors to meld. Low-Carb and Gluten-Free. With homemade mayonnaise, Paleo and Whole30. graphic button small size size 10

Um. So yes. A Finnish Rosolli Salad is traditional at Christmas, not Easter. In fact, last Christmas, we served Rosolli Salad in small, individual serving cups to start a traditional Finnish Christmas meal. Gorgeous!

But y'know what? To my taste, the taste and colors of beets and carrots are just so spring-y! So Easter it is, Easter and Christmas, that is, for I will make Rosolli Salad again and again.

Finnish Rosolli Salad,  a rainbow of grated beet, carrot and potato traditional at Christmas in Finland but somehow perfect for Easter, too. #LowCarb #Paleo #GF #Whole30 For Weight Watchers, #PP3. #AVeggieVenture
There are many, many, m-a-n-y variations of Rosolli Salad even if a trio of root vegetables (that's beet, carrot and potato) are the near-always constants. A large batch does take considerable time to prepare. Nothing is hard, nothing is tricky, it just takes time. The good news?! Rosolli Salad is better made in advance, up to a whole day ahead of time.

I don't remember eating or even seeing Rosolli Salad when I lived in Finland as a student (nor on any subsequent trips, even one after Christmas) but am so glad to know it now. I do adore this salad, I hope you do too!

Crispy Salty Kale Chips ♥ Recipe
aka Why Did I Wait So Long to Bake Kale in the Oven?

Crispy Salty Kale Chips | vegan, paleo, low carb, Weight Watchers PointsPlus 1 |
Today's vegetable snack: Fresh kale rubbed with a little oil and mustard (or a vinegar, anything with a little acid) and then baked until crispy and salty. Weight Watchers 1 point. Not just vegan, "Vegan Done Real".

~recipe updated & republished for a little weekend cooking inspiration 2015~
~more recently updated recipes~

A couple of St. Louis restaurants are famous for their flash-fried spinach. People like the spinach so much, I get tempted again and again. But to my taste, it's just a greasy pile of greens, especially because it cools down so fast, becoming a cold greasy pile of greens. Ewwwwwwww.

I figured that the food-blog famous kale chips would be the same. But not! They taste fresh and alive and I just love the crispy-salty texture. I have the idea that they'd make a quick pre-supper snack, a way to stave off hunger with something hot and nutritious while cooking the meal.

There's a Woody Allen line about the difference betweeen Episcopalians and Catholics: "All of the pomp, none of the guilt". The same applies to kale chips and flash-fried spinach: "All of the greens, none of the grease."

Creamy Spinach with Artichokes ♥

Creamy Spinach with Artichokes | simple Southern Living casserole, like spinach dip meets steakhouse creamed spinach | low carb, Weight Watchers PointsPlus 4 | A Veggie Venture
graphic button small size size 10 Spinach artichoke dip meets steakhouse creamed spinach, an easy casserole made with pantry ingredients. This Southern Living "Party Cookbook" recipe is simple enough for a weeknight, special enough for company or a holiday meal like Easter or Thanksgiving. graphic button small size size 10

Three Guesses. What are the most-requested restaurant recipes for my column in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch? Mac 'n 'cheese? Right. Salad dressing? That too. Bread pudding? Absolutely. (And oh man, St. Louisans do love their bread pudding. The best I've tasted so far? The Apple Rum Raisin Breading Pudding from Cicero's in the Delmar Loop.)

But after those top three? The next most-requested recipe is for spinach and artichoke dip, what the restaurants call "spin dip". I've written about four different recipes in the four years I've written the column. (Four years! Really! Best yet? It's still fun! I.Digress.) People love-love-love their spin dip!

This recipe for spinach and artichoke casserole is "half spin dip" and "half steakhouse creamed spinach" – but without the muck of heavy cheese and goopy mayonnaise. It's all about the spinach, cloaked in dreamy-creaminess but without being heavy or cloying, thanks to a bright touch of lemon. I adore it! That said, it may be healthy spinach but like all restaurant spin dips, it's hardly "diet food" – moderation is a good idea!

Whole Cauliflower with Homemade Cheese Sauce ♥
How to Cook a Whole Head of Cauliflower

Whole Cauliflower with Homemade Cheese Sauce | low carb & Weight Watchers PointsPlus 3 | A Veggie Venture
graphic button small size size 10 How to cook a whole head of cauliflower, it's surprisingly unfussy! I like to drape mine in homemade cheese sauce, it makes for dramatic presentation, yes? graphic button small size size 10

~recipe updated & republished for a little weekend cooking inspiration 2015~
~more recently updated recipes~

2010: The sheer beauty of the vegetables arriving in the markets — that would be arriving from California and Mexico; that would be arriving in supermarkets, given that I write from Missouri, where gardeners worry whether there's still time to get cool-weather lettuces, peas too, into soggy gardens — some times stops me in my tracks. If I close my eyes, I can conjure them again, even many weeks later. Last winter, purple-topped turnips glistened in the mist. (Does your supermarket announce the start of the produce misters with a lively rendition of "Singin' in the Rain"? Mine does!) A couple of weeks back, the eggplants were baby-bottom smooth, there was no not running a hand along their smoky curves. This week's vegetable miracle was a bin overflowing with perfect white heads of cauliflower, unblemished, taut with life.

When a beautiful head of cauliflower presents itself, I'm tempted to cook it whole, like my mother did, but the idea always seemed a touch fussy. Hardly! All it took was trimming the cauliflower (which has to happen anyway) and then cooking it in shallow boiling water for 20 minutes. Yes, that easy. And isn't it pretty?!!

Crazy-Good Cooked Cabbage ♥

Crazy-Good Cooked Cabbage. Yes, it's true, crazy good even though just green cabbage and pantry ingredients. #LowCarb #GlutenFree For Weight Watchers, #PP2. And yes #CrazyGood.
Yeah, I said cabbage and "crazy good" in the same sentence. Hmmm, wait, I see those eyes rolling! I hear you thinking, "Yeah right. Cooked cabbage." But really, cooked cabbage is something special! It so belongs on the list of today's best trendy vegetables, right up there with cauliflower and kale. Weight Watchers Friendly, just 2 PointsPlus. Low Cal. Low Carb. Gluten Free. Vegetarian. And CrazyGood.

Quick-Quick. Name March's top vegetable. What, you give up? It's cabbage, of course! Yep, during March, the grocers put big heads of cabbage out there front and center – all famous-like, as prominent as avocados in January and pumpkins in October.

And yeah-yeah, I know that many of you are scoffing at the idea of "crazy good" cabbage. But the thing is, cooked cabbage is crazy good and it's too bad that mostly, cabbage is relegated to coleslaw. So give cabbage a chance, cooked and crazy-good, remember!

Foolproof Oven-Baked Brown Rice ♥

Cook's Illustrated's recipe for Foolproof Oven-Baked Brown Rice, turns out moist, nutty and perfect every time. Rave reviews from home cooks everywhere.
graphic button small size size 10 If you've ever wondered how to bake brown rice in the oven, or how to cook brown rice so that it always – always – turns out nutty and fluffy and perfect, this is your recipe. I like the technique so much, I asked Cook's Illustrated for permission to publish their recipe and lo and behold, they said, "Yes!" So here's their recipe, followed by my own tips and the ways I've adapted the recipe for my own kitchen over the years. graphic button small size size 10

~recipe & photo updated 2011 & 2015~
~republished for a little weekend cooking inspiration 2015~
~more recently updated recipes~

In 2005-2006, only white rice appeared on A Veggie Venture. So you'd never guess that the "house rice" is actually brown rice and how often it makes the menu. Here, brown rice is a kitchen staple, right along with broccoli and chicken stock. Why the recipe reticence, then? Well, my "house recipe" for rice comes from Cook's Illustrated, the folks who test and test and test again, until a dish comes out exactly right, defying myth and tradition – unless myth and tradition actually work. So like most food writers and food bloggers, I hesitate to give away their hard-earned techniques, as much as I appreciate them.

But brown rice is so good for us – and the Cook's Illustrated rice so nutty- and buttery-tasting and yes, foolproof – that I asked for permission to share it online. And lo, they said yes! So if you've struggled with brown rice – wet and soupy? burnt and crunchy? – look no further. This is YOUR recipe, just as it's been mine week-in and week-out for almost two years.

If you're not a Cook's Illustrated subscriber, let me recommend the magazine as a great resource for experienced and new cooks alike. The recipes are real and reliable and without pretension. The testers go out of their way to eliminate unneeded steps and calories both. But if extra steps and calories pay off? Well, they'll say so and why. The technique tips, the product tips, the tool tips, the appliance tips? Well, they're terrific too.

And to fulfill (or encourage!) yearnings for country living, sit down with a fresh cup of hot coffee and a thick slice of fresh bread to savor Christopher Kimball's essays about rural Vermont. It's a must-read for me, something to look forward to and to think back on.

So yes, Cook's Illustrated, many thanks. For permission to reprint your recipe, to be sure, but also for issue after issue of reading and recipes worth both time and dare I say? the price of a subscription.