Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Improvised Meals: Coconut Rice with Greens and Chili-Garlic Black Beans

There's little in this life I find more satisfying than being able to improvise a delicious dinner when we are running low on fresh groceries or when the things in the fridge seem super random. Sometimes my efforts on this front fall pretty flat, but recently I've had good luck and so am going to share a few "improvised meals". Maybe my lovely and creative sisters will join me and post a few of their own?

The first meal in this little mini-series couldn't be easier, and like many of the most nourishing meals, is built around grains and beans. I always keep coconut milk and this Huy Fong chili garlic sauce on hand (looks like the company has verified it is free of gluten), which here adds most of the flavor.

1 can black beans
1 can coconut milk, full fat
1 cup rice (I like to use short-grain brown rice here, but whatever you have on hand will be fine)
1 egg (optional but highly recommended)
Few large handfuls of greens (spinach, arugula, etc)
Garlic (optional)
Red pepper flakes
Hot sauce (I love the Huy Fong chili garlic sauce so much & the company has verified it is gluten free)
Sesame oil

Prepare your coconut rice, using the coconut milk as a partial substitute for water. When cooking brown rice with water, I use a 1:2 ratio; when subbing in some coconut milk I increase the total amount of liquid by about 1/4 cup.

Heat some sesame oil in a pan and add garlic, then black beans. Heat black beans through with red pepper flakes, salt, and hot sauce. In the meantime, fry an egg in a separate pan.

When rice and egg is ready, toss greens on top of bean mixture to wilt. Top rice with beans, egg, and as much extra hot sauce as you can take!

Food Allergies & Ethics: Gluten-free (check your hot sauce), vegetarian, and dairy free. Omit the egg to make it vegan.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

CSA Dinner: Coconut Rice, Braised Baby Bok Choy, and Grated Baby Turnips with Nori Salt

Just a quick note on a dinner that came together just right.  

In this week's CSA, among other things, we got four small, delightful turnips with perfect greens and some baby bok choy.

I made short-grain black rice in the rice cooker with water and half a can of coconut milk (Katelyn taught me that!); braised the bok choy and turnip greens in avocado oil, ponzu, and a little miso; baked an eggplant into lovely softness; and topped it all with grated turnips (spicy and crunchy!) tossed in nori salt.  

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Guest Post: Sunday Chicken, Two Ways (Orange, Kalamata Olives & Fennel or Roasted Red Peppers, Provolone & Basil)

First of all, I am honored to be invited to guest blog again for the fabulous Parady sisters.  

Summer has finally arrived in Laramie, Wyoming, and summertime begs for good, flavorful food!  If you are like me, though, brats and burgers won't necessarily cut it.  My husband Kelby and I have begun a weekend routine of getting all inspired from watching "Lidia's Kitchen" on PBS on Saturday morning and then re-creating her genius for a Sunday night backyard date night.  These two chicken dishes are really, really easy, and really, really delicious.  And, your kitchen will smell amazing for days.

Chicken with Orange, Kalamata Olives, and Fennel

You will need:
- One package of chicken breasts or chicken cutlets (I swear that using free-range, organic, antibiotic-free, etc. chicken really does cook and taste better)
- Two generous tablespoons of unsalted butter (again, I use the fanciest butter I can find - I love Kerrygold Irish butter)
- Two generous tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt
- All-purpose flour (or a gluten-free flour substitute)
- Large red onion
- Large, ripe orange
- One cup pitted and halved Kalamata or Gaeta olives
- Dry white wine (for drinking while cooking, of course, but save a cup or so for the recipe, too!)
- One teaspoon fennel powder
- Chopped fresh Italian parsley

Tackle the fennel powder first.  Having freshly-ground fennel is key for this recipe - all of the other flavors hinge on it!  I had Kelby carefully clean our coffee bean grinder (with some disassembling, I think, to get all the coffee grounds out of the filters and mechanisms), and ground a little more than a teaspoon of fennel seed in it. You haven't smelled until you've smelled freshly ground fennel.

Next, prep your chicken.  If you use chicken breasts, cut them on a bias to create two thin slices from each breast. 

Zest and juice the orange, slice the red onion, and halve the olives, if necessary.  

Melt the butter and olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat - it is important to keep from overheating the mixed fats and burning them off, and to keep from over-cooking the chicken. Season the chicken breasts with kosher salt, and lightly dredge through the flour. Tap off any excess flour. Brown the chicken for about two minutes on each side and set aside. Add the onion and cook until it softens. Then add the olives, orange juice and zest, fennel powder, and some white wine.  I just eyeballed the amount of white wine to use, but I'd say it was between 1/2 and 1 cup.  Cook for a couple of minutes, and then add the chicken back to the skillet to cook for a few minutes more, until all the ingredients come together in a sauce that coats the chicken and the chicken is cooked through. Correct seasoning with a pinch of salt, and sprinkle with chopped parsley. 

Chicken with Roasted Red Peppers, Provolone, and Basil

For this variation on chicken, you will need:

- One package of chicken breasts or chicken cutlets
- Two generous tablespoons of unsalted butter 
- Two generous tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt
- All-purpose flour (or a gluten-free flour substitute)
- One 8-oz. jar of roasted red peppers
- A few ripe tomatoes (use whichever variety is most in season)
- One teaspoon dried oregano
- One cup (at least) grated provolone
- Fresh basil

Slice the red peppers, and dice the tomatoes. The amount of tomato you use is variable, depending on your preference for them, and depending on what tomato variety you have.  If you use plum or roma tomatoes, use about four or five of them.  If you use beefsteak, use only two. Remove the seeds when dicing them. 

Prepare and cook the chicken as you would in the recipe above. However, rather than removing the chicken after browning it, leave it in the pan, and add the peppers, tomatoes, oregano, and about a teaspoon of salt.  Simmer the ingredients until they come together in a sauce.  Top everything with the grated provolone and fresh chopped basil, cover, and cook a few minutes more.  

Final tip: If you don't have a pair of herb scissors, I highly recommend investing in one. Herbs, especially small-leafed herbs, can be such a pain to de-stem and chop, and herb scissors will reduce that prep time down to nothing and make fresh herbs much easier to incorporate into your recipes.  Here's what they look like (in fact, this is the exact pair that I use): http://www.amazon.com/RSVP-SNIP-Herb-Scissors/dp/B000TYKWMI.  

Bon appetit!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Summer Tea Smoothie With Strawberries + Avocado

It was 111° F here in Phoenix yesterday. With heat like that, a smoothie in the morning is basically a necessity, but the typical dairy + banana base loses its appeal.

Enter the summer smoothie made with sun-brewed green or herbal ice tea, avocado for creaminess, frozen berries, cinnamon, and honey. This morning, I covered frozen strawberries with tea I brewed in the sun yesterday using 1 bag of organic green and 2 bags of Tulsi Cleanse. After blending with my immersion blender, I added 1/2 an avocado and a ton of cinnamon and honey, then blended again until smooth. Light, hydrating, creamy, and delicious.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Yogurt: A Collaborative Sororial Post

Sarah dictated her foolproof yogurt-making process to ace interviewer Katelyn, who transcribed and gave it back for editing, and here you have it:  

Homemade yogurt is awesome, saves a ton of $$, and isn't all that effortful, although it takes 1 or 2 tries to get in the swing of it.  I make it roughly every 2 weeks on Sunday nights.

You will need:

A starter yogurt.  I like Noosa best if you can get it.  Fage works great too.  You need at least 2 TB; I usually use about 1/2 a cup.  Or, you can buy a stable culture online at www.culturesforhealth.com.  (They also have a lot of good advice and info on their site.)

Half a gallon of full-fat, high-quality, pasteurized (but not ultra-pasteurized) milk.  If you make a gallon at a time, it takes a LOT longer to heat and cool the milk, so I've decided a half gallon is the perfect amount.

A stock pot big enough to hold all of your milk; a soup pot to boil water in for sterilizing things; a strainer; a whisk; a ladle; a cooking thermometer; enough canning jars to hold 1/2 gallon total; and a cooler big enough to hold all the jars.   (Canning tools are nice to help handle the hot jars, but not necessary.)

About an hour (mostly because of the time to heat and cool the milk).

To make the yogurt:

1.  Assemble equipment and get your starter yogurt out of the fridge to bring it to room temperature.

2.  Heat the milk in the stock pot up to 175 degrees (Farenheit) to scald it.  Start stirring when it gets up to about 165 to prevent it from boiling over.  (Since we're using a strainer, don't worry too much about some milk cooking to the bottom of the pot.)  As soon as it hits 175, take it off the heat.

3.  Cool the milk to 120.  This takes a LONG time at room temperature.  I recommend putting the stock pot in the freezer with the lid off and checking the temperature frequently.

4.  While the milk cools, fill your cooler with 90-degree water, just high enough that it won't come up to the lids of your jars and leak in.   And start your saucepan of water boiling to sterilize the jars.  (You can also sterilize your whisk, ladle, strainer, and canning tools at this point and lay them out on a clean towel.)

5.  When the milk gets to 120, take it out of the freezer, and whisk in your starter yogurt so the bacteria get mixed around.

6.  Then, sterilize your jars one by one, ladling the milk mixture through the strainer into each one to fill it, putting a lid on it (not too tight), and putting it in the warm water in the cooler.

7.  Leave the yogurt in the closed cooler for 10-12 hours (overnight works well). It should be quite thick and tart; the longer you leave it, the thicker and more tart it will get.  Mine comes out thick enough that you can see little bubbles frozen on the surface around the edges.


- I like to sterilize because that way, the yogurt lasts a VERY long time (like a month!) in the fridge.  When I tried skipping that step, I had a few batches go bad.

- I used to love thick greek-style yogurts, and experimented with straining my yogurt to get that thickness, but have come to love the delicate texture of unstrained yogurt.

- Commercial yogurts don't have stable cultures, so you need to either buy a stable culture like one from Cultures for Health (and then use your own yogurt to start each subsequent batch), or use a new starter each time.  Since we usually eat up a whole batch before I get around to making another, it's been easier for me to just buy a new starter each time - and still cost-effective given the quantity.

- If you want to make a gallon at a time, 1/2 a cup of starter yogurt is still plenty.

- If you have a spot in your house that stays at a steady 90 or 95 degrees, you could skip the cooler and just put the jars there.  (Top of water cooler, by heater, in greenhouse, etc.) 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Guest Post: Thai Feast

Guest Post from the recently relocated Natalie (sometimes blogging at Lady Justice):

We made a thai feast for some friends tonight, and it turned out pretty well, so I thought I would share these recipes I found.  This was the first time I had really made thai food like this (I have made curry before, but not the whole shebang), so I didn't really know what I was doing, but following recipes (and then adding my own personal twist here and there) is pretty easy and fun!

1. Tofu Tom Yum Soup:

My variations: I used a lot more tofu than it called for.  In fact, I don't even know what the recipe means by "8 medium sized cubes of tofu" . . . only 8 pieces, really? I used a whole pound!  So I would recommend doubling the water/broth amount as well.  I also substituted fresh thai basil leaves for the kaffir lime leaves. And I omitted the chili peppers (because I don't eat them).

2. Yum Pak Grood:

Omitted the chiles, otherwise by the book.  Fiddlehead ferns!!

3. Tofu Massaman Curry:

This recipe has a gajillion ingredients, but the homemade curry flavor is worth it!

Because there just weren't enough ingredients already, I also added 3 carrots (thinly sliced in half lengthwise and then on the bias), which I put in with the potatoes.  I substituted 1 lb.  cubed tofu for the chicken in this recipe.  I also used actual minced shrimp instead of shrimp paste, and fresh lime juice instead of tamarind.  I also subbed veg. broth for chicken broth (of course), and I subbed black pepper for white pepper, and ground cumin for whole cumin.  And I omitted red pepper, but left in a little bit of cayenne pepper.  (I served chili sauce, fresh lime wedges, and fresh cilantro on the side of all items as desired.)  Everything else by the book (or web page as it were).

4. Cassava Cake:

A super easy and tasty dessert!  I added 1 tsp. vanilla extract and 3 tbsp. agave to this recipe (as recommended by others in the comments).  Also, I used about 2 1/2 c. cassava, fresh grated from the whole root vegetable.  I also sprinkled powered sugar on the top.  (This totally freaked my boyfriend out because we weren't following the recipes exactly.  It's like he doesn't know what's going to happen if we improvise.  What are you doing . . . will the powdered sugar change the taste of the whole cake?!  Lol.)

Warning: Make sure if you are using fresh cassava to cur all the skin off, cut it into chunks, cut out the woody fiber from the center of the vegetable, and rinse the chunks well before grating.  Cassava can make you sick if you don't pre-rinse it or if you undercook it.  But since this recipe cooks for at least an hour, it should be fine.

We also served the cake with green tea, coffee, and green tea cakes as another dessert alternative.  I found all of these interesting and exotic items at Uwajimaya, a fantastical and gigantic Asian Supermarket wonderland in downtown Seattle!

I wish I would have taken pictures because it was tasty and eye-catching too!  But by the time I get it all made I am too hungry to think about taking pictures!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Guest Post: Gluten Free Pumpkin Muffins

An email from our momma:  

i made these this morning & they are YUM! left out the cloves & chocolate chips. Upped the nutmeg & ginger slightly, added ground flax seeds - tablespoon or 2, and chopped walnuts. I tossed some raw pepitas with a small amount of raw sugar & sprinkled on top of muffins before baking. The pumpkin seeds really added a nice crunch :D


Monday, March 10, 2014

Gluten-Free Almond + Orange Tea Cookies

These fluffy, cakey cookies actually remind me of a lemon poppyseed olive oil cake I picked up recently at the La Grande Orange Grocery in Phoenix. I whipped them up on Sunday to serve with chamomile tea (for P) and a hot whiskey toddy with fresh squeezed orange juice (for me).

I came up with the recipe after reviewing five or six recipes for orange and almond cookies online. The batter was just a little too wet to form with my hands, but happily they baked beautifully as cookies and did not pancake at all. The cakey texture and mellow flavor makes them perfect for serving as a snack with tea anytime of the day.

1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup softened butter
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cups almond meal
3/4 cup gluten-free baking mix 
2 eggs
Zest of 1 small orange
Juice of 1/2 small orange
2 teaspoons almond extract
Several drops orange extract or food-grade orange essential oil (optional)

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a cookie sheet, or cover your cookie sheet with a Silpat baking sheet or parchment paper. 

Cream your sugar with olive oil and softened butter. Add almond meal, flour, and eggs. Mix well. Zest one small orange over your mixing bowl. Once you are done zesting, squeeze the juice of about 1/2 of the orange into the bowl. Add 2 teaspoons of almond extract. If you have it on hand, add several drops of food-grade orange essential oil or orange extract. 

Use a spoon to drop batter onto the baking sheet. The recipe will make a dozen cookies and you should be able to bake them in one batch; just make sure to leave about two inches between cookies. Bake for 15 minutes, and let cool completely before enjoying. 

If you prefer a sweeter treat, these would be great with a quick icing made of confectioners sugar and fresh-squeezed orange juice. If you don't have orange extract or essential oil on hand for the batter, you might consider making a quick reduction from the juice of a full orange to make sure the citrus flavor comes through. These would also be lovely with thinly sliced almonds baked in or pressed on top.

Finally, the batter is pretty forgiving so if you want to play around and add a bit more juice or almond flavor, or if you think it needs a bit more or less flour, go for it. The batter has the consistency perhaps of something between a traditional cake and traditional cookie batter, so don't worry if it seems a bit wet. 


Food Allergies and Ethics: These are gluten-free. However, if you are not living in a gluten-free household you could easily use all-purpose flour in place of the gluten-free baking mix. 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Roasted Tomato & Rosemary White Bean Dip

Spring has come to Arizona, but for everyone still suffering from cold weather this roasted tomato and rosemary white bean dip is just the thing. I served it during the holidays and for the superbowl; it's great party fare but also nice to have on hand during the week to use as a sandwich spread or salad topper.
1 container grape or cherry tomatoes
3-4 roma or hothouse tomatoes
1 head garlic
10 sprigs fresh rosemary 
3 cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
Olive oil
Sea salt
Black pepper
Smoked paprika
Chipotle powder (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Quarter roma or hothouse tomatoes and halve grape or cherry tomatoes. Slice the top off of the garlic head. Arrange tomatoes and garlic together in roasting pan and drizzle very generously with olive oil, pouring a nice glug directly over the head of garlic, especially. Season with sea salt and black pepper. Let roast for 30 minutes, then add about half of your rosemary  and stir or flip tomatoes. Roast for an additional 30 minutes or until your tomatoes are running with juice and beginning to caramelize. 

While tomatoes are roasting, pour three cans of rinsed and drained cannellini bins into a large saucepan. Drizzle generously with olive oil and season with sea salt, black pepper, and smoked paprika to taste. Add chipotle powder if interested in a spicier, smokier dip. Add good amount of de-stemmed rosemary leaves to the saucepan. Stir and mash gently while beans heat all the way through. Add more olive oil if they begin to get too dry. 

Remove tomatoes and garlic from oven and beans from heat. Add tomatoes and beans to a large serving bowl. Remove rosemary sprigs, but feel free to knock the leaves off into the beans and tomato bowl. Rinse garlic head under cold water and then slip skin off of the roasted cloves. Mash cloves into the beans and tomatoes with a masher or a large fork until texture is how you prefer. I like it fairly smooth but with some of the beans keeping their form. Make sure to pour all of the oil from the roasting pan into the dip, and add other seasonings until the flavor is as you prefer. Decorate with remaining rosemary sprigs.

Serve warm with roasted or raw vegetables, crackers, bread, or even tortilla or potato chips. Enjoy.

Food Allergies and Ethics: The dip itself is gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan. Just be mindful of what you serve it with. 

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Baked Farro

I've tried making farro before, but somehow I never got why people rave about it.  This time I do.  It's a perfect, hearty, deliciously savory vegetarian meal for a cold night.

2 cups (dry) farro - note whether you have whole, semi-pearled, or pearled
2 cups of your favorite tomato-based pasta sauce
2 cups broth
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 egg
2 cups grated cheese (I used a gouda)
1 cup chopped parsley

First, if you are using whole farro, you will need to either soak overnight, or pressure-cook for 10 minutes. For semi-pearled or pearled, you need to cook it for a few minutes in the broth until it softens a bit.

Then, just mix together all of the other ingredients, pour them over the farro (and broth) in a baking pan, and bake uncovered for 45 minute at 400.   

Newfangled Cheese Ball

I made this over the holidays and it got eaten faster than anything else on the snack table.  The parsley makes it much more attractive than your traditional cheddar-and-almonds orange blob.

In case of recipe link death (it has happened to some of our early posts!  Quelle horreur!), here's what you need to know:


Group One:
1 cup crumbled blue cheese
1 TB buttermilk
8 ounces cream cheese
about 3 Medjool dates, minced (should be 3 TB)

Group Two:
1 TB minced shallots
1/2 tsp grated lemon rind
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

Group Three:
1/4 cup minced parsley
2.5 TB walnuts, toasted and finely chopped

Thoroughly mix Group One (you may need to let your cheeses soften first), then mix in Group Two.  Use saran wrap to form this mixture into a ball, refrigerating it for a bit first if needed.  Unwrap, separately mix together Group Three, and roll the cheeseball in the mixture.

Cotija Tacos

The main point of this post is to note that it's easy to make a delicious, salty, soft-and-chewy round of griddled cotija in the toaster oven.  Make some little piles of crumbled cotija on the metal toaster tray.... toast them.... et voila! Plunk each one on a warmed corn tortilla and top it as you please.  I used crema, pickled onion, and some corn and nopales (finely diced and browned in butter, lime juice, paprika, cayenne, cumin and salt).

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Cinnamon Ginger Sea Salt Energy Bars (Gluten-Free and No-Bake)

Most gluten-free energy bars rely on dried fruit and nuts, and in my experience tend to be overly sweet. These snack bars are made from a very flexible dried fruit and nut base, but the combination of cinnamon, sea salt, ginger, and dark chocolate makes them something special.

The recipe is extremely forgiving, so have fun with substitutions. These are a great way to ease back into the post-holiday working life. For those of you still in airports, I carried the bars on my flights yesterday. They held up very well.

1 1/2 cups dried apricots
1/2 cup dried blueberries
1/2 cup almonds
1/4 cup macadamia nuts
Cinnamon (to taste, but I recommend using copious amounts!)
Ginger (I used powdered but dried or candied would be wonderful)
Sea Salt (to taste, but you really want the salt to cut through the sweetness of the dried fruit)
Handful of dark chocolate chips (about 2 oz. dark chocolate)

Optional: Agave, honey, or coconut oil (just a small drizzle of one for moisture purposes)

Grind your dried fruit and nuts in a food processor until the mixture is fairly fine. Add cinnamon, ginger, and sea salt to taste. If you need a bit more moisture, drizzle in some agave, honey, or coconut oil.

Press the mixture into a loaf pan lined with parchment paper. Melt the dark chocolate and drizzle or spread over the loaf. Refrigerate until the mixture firms (30 minutes or so). Remove from loaf pan and cut into 12 squares. Store in a glass container or wrapped individually in foil or wax paper. I recommend keeping these refrigerated or enjoying them from the freezer, but they are sturdy even after a few hours of travel.

Food Allergies and Ethics: Gluten-free and vegan (so long as you check your dark chocolate).

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Perfect Kale Breakfast Tacos

When P isn't around to make his famous scrambled eggs on corn tortillas, I like to make myself cheesy kale breakfast tacos. (Also fantastic served with tomato soup for dinner or lunch.)

I've written the recipe to serve one person; multiply accordingly.

2 corn tortillas
Several thin slices of a sharp white cheddar
1/4 bunch of kale (you can substitute spinach if you don't have kale on hand)
Olive oil or butter

Plain greek yogurt

Place a skillet on your burner over medium heat, with a thin pat of butter or layer of olive oil in the bottom. Clean and de-stem your kale, then add torn pieces to the pan. Sprinkle salt and let cook until quite tender.

Add both corn tortillas to the bottom of the skillet. Let fry in the remaining butter or oil. Add thinly sliced cheddar to each, then place kale on top to melt cheese. Fold each tortilla over and let fry on each side until crispy. Serve with plain greek yogurt and a bit of salsa.

Food Allergies and Ethics: Vegetarian and gluten free.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Autumn Quinoa with Parsnip Puree

I have never made parsnips before!  I lurv them.  They are like... potatoes, but with flavor!

I served the puree over the quinoa, and it was nice and hearty.  Also, I failed to take a picture, but parnip puree is NOT exactly photogenic, so don't worry about it.


Start with 4-5 large parsnips.  Remove the stringy cores as you chop them into dice. Toss them in melted butter, salt them, and roast in a pan for about 25-30 mins in a 400 degree oven, until pieces are easily cut through with a knife.

Throw the pieces in the blender (in batches if necessary), with about 2 cups total of milk, plus salt and freshly grated nutmeg to taste.  Blend until creamy adding more milk as needed.


Cook  1 cup (dry) quinoa (rice cooker works great).  Finely chop 2 shallots.  Soften in butter in a small pan on stovetop, then add a small handful of walnuts, about 8 sage leaves, and a small green apple, all finely chopped, and cook till sage leaves are crispy.   Add to quinoa along with a bit of white balsamic or apple cider vinegar, salt, and olive oil.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Roasted Eggplant with Buttermilk

This is a completely heavenly recipe from "Plenty."  (Actually, it's the cover recipe!)  I made it as soon as I got home from Turkey a few weeks ago, because I realized while I was there that I've been cooking eggplant wrong forever (basically, by doing anything other than baking it until it falls out of its skin), and this recipe seemed like it would fix that.   Oh man: it did.

Just to assuage my guilt about reposting other people's recipes, let me tell you that esp if you are a vegetarian, you need to buy this cookbook!  This particular recipe, for example, includes a miraculous method for de-seeding pomegranates that I'm not going to spill here.

Here's what I will tell you, though.  This is one beautiful set of flavors, and it was barely any work.  Also, this is how you cook an eggplant, regardless of what you top it with.


2 large eggplants
1/3 cup olive oil
1.5 tsp lemon thyme (I used a mix of thyme and lemon verbena)
1 pomegranate, seeded
1 tsp za'atar (make your own like this)

For sauce:
9 TB buttermilk
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1.5 TB olive oil
1 small garlic clove, crushed
pinch of salt

1.  Preheat oven to 400 and prepare eggplants:  Cut in half lengthwise, leaving stem on.  Lay on baking sheet, cut sides up.  Then, "score" the flesh of each eggplant deeply with a knife, both from side-to-side and diagonally, being careful not to cut through the skin.  Finally, brush with olive oil.  Keep brushing until the flesh of the 4 halves has soaked up the entire 1/3 cup.  Sprinkle with lemon thyme, salt, and pepper.  Roast for 35-40 minutes or until soft and browned.

2.  To make the sauce, just whisk everything together.  To serve the eggplants, pour some buttermilk sauce over each half, and top with pomegranate seeds, za'aatar, and a drizzle of olive oil.  

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Chopped Veggie Soup with Pepitas and Crema

We're still splitting the difference between summer and fall here in Phoenix, where daytime temps are in the 80s or 90s but the evenings are quite chilly, dropping into the 50s. (Cue laughing from my mother in Wyoming and my sister in Colorado.) This soup does the same, but readers who are already experiencing blustery days or snow may want to swap out the zucchini for butternut.

Chopped Veggie Soup with Pepitas and Crema
1 carton of good veggie broth (Pacific brand is gluten-free)
2 14oz cans fire-roasted tomatoes
2 zucchinis
1/2 bag frozen corn
1 can cannellini beans
Several small yellow or red potatoes
Several large handfuls spinach
1 head garlic
1 yellow onion
Parmesan rinds (optional)
Olive oil
Black pepper

Heavy cream
Chopped fresh herbs (optional but a lovely topping, I used basil)

Pour a generous glug of olive oil into your soup pot and begin to heat on a medium setting. Thickly slice your onion, mince the entire head of garlic, and cut your potatoes into small segments. Add to the pot. Stir in salt and pepper and let cook until onions and potatoes soften a bit. Next add your liquids: fire-roasted tomatoes, veggie broth, and water if necessary. Start with just one can of the tomatoes and add from the second can as you like. Thoroughly rinse the beans and stir those in as well.

At this point I throw in the Parmesan rinds, which will add a rich quality to your broth. Slice your zucchinis, add the corn, and simmer until done. Continue to add salt, pepper, dill, and squeezes of lemon juice to taste.

While the broth is simmering, heat your smallest frying pan with just a touch of olive oil. Add the pepitas, salt, and pepper and leave them on until toasted, stirring occasionally. Chop fresh herbs to use as a topping along with the pepitas.

Just before you take the soup off of the stove, stir in a few handfuls of torn spinach. Remove the Parmesan rinds, ladle into bowls, and sprinkle with toasted pepitas and chopped fresh herbs. Finally, add just a drizzle of heavy cream. If you don't have cream, thin a bit of plain yogurt with lemon juice as a substitute. I also grated some additional Parmesan on top, or you could add a bit of feta.

Food Allergies and Ethics:  Gluten free (but make sure to check your broth) and vegetarian. Could easily be vegan by omitting the Parmesan rinds and the drizzle of cream at the end.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Roasted Grape & Asparagus Pizza

I made this several months back when my father-in-law was visiting, and I guess I forgot to post it.   Not for lack of yumminess - I loved the little bursts of flavor from the grapes.  The pre-cooking is important for them to get soft and sugary, so don't skip it!

Brush your pizza crust with an emulsion of lemon olive oil, white balsamic, honey, a touch of mustard and salt. (Salad dressing, basically).  Spoon a few tablespoons of pizza sauce on top of that and spread thinly.

Slice half a bunch of thin asparagus spears into small (1/2 inch or so) pieces. Halve a handful of small red grapes.  Sear first the asparagus, then the grape halves, in just a bit of olive oil on the stovetop.  Top the pizza with asparagus, grapes, dollops of goat cheese, and very finely grated parmesan.  Resist the urge to over-top.

Google the baking time & temp depending on the thickness of your crust, whether you are using a stone, your oven, etc.  

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Mediterranean Stuffed Peppers with Yogurt Sauce

Let's be clear:  I have stuffed a pepper or two.  My mom's basic recipe was my favorite in college until I stopped eating ground beef, and in the winter, I think there is hardly a nicer dinner.

I promise I really try not to post every single variation, since you can basically stuff anything delicious in a pepper and bam, dinner success! - but I like the yogurt sauce (in lieu of cheese) and flavor-packed, protein-laden filling of tonight's attempt, so here we are.


1 white onion
1 can white beans or chickpeas
1 16-oz can whole tomatoes
1 bunch torn kale
If you have some slow-roasted tomatoes, 1 cup of those (I slow-roasted grape tomatoes today and they are to die for so I threw a handful of them in).
1 tsp each paprika and cayenne (more cayenne if needed)
1/2 TB each mint and basil
olive oil
2 TB lemon juice
1 cup (uncooked) quinoa
1/2 TB cumin

Start quinoa cooking with the cumin in the water (on stove or in rice cooker).

Clean the peppers and set them upright in a deep, square baking dish.  (mine fits 4-5 peppers depending on size).  Splash a bit of water in, put lid on, and microwave for 5 minutes to begin steaming them and removing crunch.

In one frying pan, cut the onion into 8ths and cook it in olive oil on low heat to caramelize or at least soften.

Meanwhile, in another (larger) one, heat up a TB of olive oil, add drained and rinsed beans/chickpeas, add paprika, cayenne, and a few pinches of salt, and cook on high heat.  Taste and add more cayenne until there's as much fire as you like.  When the beans start to darken, scoop 2/3 of the whole tomatoes from the can and crush them with your fingers, and add them (but not their juice yet).  When the onions are ready, add them too.

Add basil, dill, and lemon juice and let this all cook together for a bit, then toss the kale in.  When the kale is cooked, add the (cooked and drained) quinoa.

Spoon filling into pepper and tuck any excess around them in the dish.  Crush the remaining whole tomatoes and pour them and their juice over the top.  Bake without lid at 425 for at least an hour - the longer the better, really (I don't think there is such a thing as too long!)

Yogurt Sauce:

Mix up the following:

Plain yogurt (trying to use up my last batch = reason for this meal)
1 small cucumber (lemon, persian, baby), chopped into very small dice
2 TB finely chopped fresh mint
1 tsp ground cumin
Optional: squirt of lemon juice

Beet & Arugula Lunch Salad

Before going off on vacation, I'm trying to preserve veggies from CSA and garden however I can.  I had a few weeks worth of beautiful, multicolored CSA beets (about a dozen total!), so I roasted them in their skins with oil and salt, then peeled and chopped them.  Most, I threw in a tupperware with some oil and vinegar in the fridge for future use, but I took out about a cup and a half for this lunch.

Simple:  Just the chopped beets, some chopped mild white cheese (mine was basket cheese but whatever, really - mozzarella, goat, you name it), a few handfuls of roughly chopped arugula (CSA again!), lemon olive oil, white balsamic, and---this is key---plenty of salt .

Kimchi Soup

More adventures with kimchi!

I looked at a bunch of different recipes and then mostly worked off of this one, because it struck me that the addition of a little miso and mirin might help compensate for the lack of pork in my (vegetarian) version.

I made a lot more than the quantity in the recipe (as usual) and added a bunch of CSA veggies (also as usual!) that just needed to get eaten.  I think this would be lovely as a simple brothy soup, so I'm not necesarily exhorting anyone to do the veggie-packing thing, but my fridge has a truly intimidating stockpile in it and CSA day is coming around again soon!  (That said, this tasted very nice with the additions.)

So I know that all of my soups basically look the same in photos (warm-colored broth with veggies and tofu floating in it?  Again?).  But this taste is completely new for me and just amazing.  The kimchi mellows in the soup, and although I added plenty of Vietnamese chili-garlic sauce (not having any Korean chili powder on hand), the flavor was bright and tangy and not too burn-y for my timid (but improving!) tastebuds.

There, I think that is a record use of parens even from me.  So!  The Soup!

8 cups water
2 cups kimchi
1 onion, chopped
5 tsp chopped garlic
1 bell pepper or large, mild hot pepper, chopped

1 small eggplant, cut into dice
1 package extra firm tofu, cut into dice
Whatever other veggies you need to use up, if any, chopped - zucchini, mushrooms, any greens...
3 TB butter
3 TB miso paste
3 TB mirin
1 TB soy sauce
Juice of 1/2 a lime
Ginger paste
Chili sauce or powder, or Sriracha, or what-have-you
4 sliced green onions

1.  Start by sauteeing onion, garlic, and green pepper in 2 TB butter.  When they soften, add kimchi (leaving behind its juice for now), eggplant, and other firm veggies.  Sautee a few more minutes, then add water, kimchi juice, miso paste, mirin, and soy sauce.

2.  Once broth gets to boiling, taste, and add ginger paste and chili sauce to taste, plus more miso/mirin/soy sauce (and/or salt) if needed.  You'll probably want one 1 TB or more of chili sauce.

3.  Boil until eggplant is nearly translucent, then add (1) any leafy greens that just need a little cook time, and finally (2) tofu, green onions, last TB butter, and lime juice.   Taste and adjust flavors again, and serve with rice.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Caramelized Kimchi Scrambled Eggs

For about a week now, as everyone has probably heard, it has rained like I've never seen in Denver.  It's like the summer of 2005 in New York when the subways kept flooding and the whole city was just streaming with water.  (Needless to say, things are a lot worse than just rainy in a lot of the communities surrounding us, and I'm grateful that the rain has stayed out of our basement, our roof has held up, and we've been home safe and dry throughout.)

The extra moisture has apparently led to some oversized veggies from our CSA, like last week's giant cabbage, which I took as my cue to finally make kimchi (I also included cucumbers, peppers, young leeks, and easter egg radishes from the CSA).  

When it was ready to eat, I wanted to do something a little more special than just rice (even though I'm sure that will be a frequent meal till we eat it all).  This was just the ticket - flavorful comfort food on a rainy night:

1-1.5 cups kimchi, plus more on the side 
Black rice 
4 eggs
1 TB milk
4 TB sugar
2 TB white vinegar
1 TB soy sauce

All you do is:  Mix the kimchi (1 to 1.5 cups - eyeball it; it depends how tightly packed they are and how much you like), sugar, vinegar and soy sauce.  In another bowl, whisk up 3 eggs and the yolk of the fork, plus the milk.  

Heat a frying pan up to high heat, add the kimchi mixture, cover with a lid, and watch it carefully for the liquid to caramelize - about 5 minutes (don't let it burn!).  

Once sticky, pour the egg mixture in, and scramble, stirring constantly until the eggs seem just a little bit runny.  (My brother-in-law, who makes the most amazing scrambled eggs, taught me the trick is to stop then, because they'll keep cooking once you turn off the heat.)  

Eat with rice and more kimchi.  Amazing.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Tomato Cucumber Salad with Middle Eastern Yogurt Dressing

Chop up 2 cups each cucumbers and tomatoes.   Dress with:

2 finely chopped chiles 
skin of 1/2 preserved lemon, finely chopped
chopped parsley and mint
juice of 1 lemon
1 cup good plain yogurt
plenty of salt
dash of olive oil

Frozen Yogurt

I've been experimenting with making yogurt and as a result we had a big container of Fage that wasn't getting eaten.  That led me to Heidi's frozen yogurt recipe.  I can't say that I've ever had better!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Ridiculous Camping Food: Grilled Strawberry Shortcake

Tastes like freaking heaven.  Involves simply this:  Buy an angel food cake at the store (or make one yourself).  Slice and grill with halved strawberries in a frying pan over the camp fire.  Serve w/whipped cream.  Die happy.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Lemon Ricotta Waffles

This is one of those reposting-in-its-entirety moments, because this recipe is perfect.

[Picture please, Annalise!]

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Grilled Peach Panzanella

Here is a summary of this lengthy recipe, which you should make because it involves chewy grilled bread, velvety grilled peaches, fresh cherry tomatoes, and basil, like so:

[Annalise is going to add the picture she took here!  She is visiting me and does not approve of my usual, crappy, overly-zoomed-in iphone pics.]

One loaf of ciabatta or similar (the pop-it-in-your-oven kind from King Soopers is A-OK)
4 large peaches
2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes (or whatever tomatoes)
5 TB citrus-infused olive oil
3 TB apple cider vinegar
2 shallots
1 clove garlic
Large handful fresh basil
Salt & pepper & sugar

1.  Combine vinegar, finely sliced shallot, and a pinch each of salt and sugar and set aside.

2.  Halve or chop tomatoes, toss in 3 TB olive oil + salt + finely sliced garlic clove, and set aside.

3.  Slice bread loaf in half horizontally (so you separate the top of the loaf from the bottom of the loaf).  Brush with 1 TB oil, salt, and place on grill to toast.  When toasted, chop or tear into bite-sized pieces; toss with vinegar mixture, then with tomato mixture.

4.  Slice up peaches, toss in last TB olive oil + salt, and grill.  Once nicely roasted, toss them into the rest of the ingredients, add the basil (chopped), more salt and pepper if needed, and eat.  

Friday, July 26, 2013

Squash Tacos with Roasted Tomatoes and Cucumber Slaw

This was a CSA-user-upper kind of dinner, which I ate twice (once with spouse, once with mom and little sis!).  It tasted just fine.



2-3 summer squashes
2 small onions
1-2 jalapenos
2 ears of corn
Small head of garlic
2 TB butter
Cumin, cayenne, salt
4 medium-large garden tomatoes
Corn tortillas
Feta or queso fresco or goat cheese


Fresh garden cucumbers
half a jalapeno
Small red onion
Juice of 4 limes
1-2 tsp chili paste
2 tsp fish sauce
1 TB brown sugar

Spanish rice & black beans

For the taco filling:

Dice the onion and squash into corn-sized pieces, the jalapenos a bit smaller, and cut the corn off the cob.  Melt butter in a skillet.  Add the onion and jalapeno, and cook over medium-low heat until they start to get soft.  (Don't let them start browning yet.)  When onions are getting soft, add squash and corn and spice with cumin, cayenne and salt.  Then just let it all cook until the veggies barely start to brown.

Meanwhile, put the head of garlic in the oven or toaster at 325 to soften it.  For the tomatoes, halve them and put them under the broiler to roast - keep your eye on them so they don't get too blackened.  Towards the end of the veggies' cooking time, peel the softened garlic and mash or chop it into the mix (depending how soft it is).

Serve each taco with 2 tomato halves, a scoop of filling, and feta.

For the slaw (served on the side or in the tacos):

Cut cucumbers (I had 3 small ones) into small slices.  Cut jalapeno and a small quantity of onion paper-thin.  Mix up the other ingredients in a bowl to dissolve sugar in lime juice, then toss everything together (putting them in a tupperware and shaking them up works well), adjusting quantities to taste.  Even better the next day.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Drop Biscuit Cobbler with Blackberries & Strawberries (Gluten Free)

Baking used to be something I did when I needed to be soothed. But this year, the things happening are beyond the edges of any kind of self-soothing. This year is full of things that make you unable to swallow anything for days, things that creep up and hit you just as you are relaxing into a meal, things that are wretched and disgusting and horrifying and make you drop the spoon and try not to choke on the back of your own throat.

And so I haven't baked since the holidays. 

This isn't a very good way to sell a recipe. I suppose we might all be better off right now if I had decided to gush about how baking is therapeutic, or given you a hyper-filtered photo of bubbling dough and oozing berries with a caption about making peace in the midst of grief and confusion. But though I've mustered a cobbler, I can't quite muster happy. This is all I've got. Everything is shitty but somehow I made a great cobbler. 

Gluten-Free Blackberry Strawberry Cobbler

As the NY Times informed us well over a week ago, the line between cobbler and buckle and crumble and all other bready desserts with baked fruit is fluid, even contentious. In my family, cobbler has historically been made with a batter that is poured over berries in a clean sheet, then baked into a thick, golden layer of pancake-like doughiness that invades the depths of the fruit underneath. 

This cobbler is different, topped instead with drop biscuits that form a raggedy, discontinuous crust that sinks down into the fruit but does not encase the berries. 

1 bag Pamela's Gluten Free Biscuit and Scone Mix* 
8 tablespoons cold butter
1 tablespoon honey
1-1/4 cup milk

*You can of course substitute any drop biscuit recipe here; you'll need 8-12 biscuits. If you are looking to make gfree drop biscuits from scratch, Shauna Ahern has several recipes on her site glutenfreegirl.com. 

2/3 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons gluten free flour (any kind, all purpose is best but others will be fine)
2 pints strawberries, tops removed and quartered
1.5 pints blackberries

Preheat your oven to 400 F. In a deep 9 inch baking dish (I used ceramic but glass is fine), toss your berries with 2/3 cup brown sugar and 2 tablespoons gluten free flour. Set aside. Prepare your drop biscuits following whatever recipe you are using. If you are using the Pamela's mix, this means using a pastry blender to cut in the butter until it forms pea-sized pieces, then incorporating the milk by hand. I added a little honey because I wasn't sure how sweet the dough was going to be. Drop biscuit-sized scoops onto the top of your berries--this can be quite haphazard--and bake for 25-30 minutes until berries are oozing and your biscuits are browned. Enjoy with vanilla ice cream. 

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Fourth of July Pie

Last summer, I did a terrible thing. I made lots of pies and I never shared them on this little bloggy.

Luckily, it's never too late to share a recipe, so just in time for you to run to the store and get ingredients  to whip up the most fitting dessert for tomorrow's holiday (or, really, any holiday at all), I'll start to share them.

Last year on the Fourth I threw together a quick, easy and patriotic pie.  It's more giant-pile-of-berries-and-cream-and-crust that I made look pretty, but it's so worth it.  5 steps to messy, good-looking magic.

1 pre-baked pie crust
Extra pie dough for cutouts
6 cups blueberries and strawberries, sugared (raspberries could work, too)
Whipping cream
Vanilla extract

The Steps:
  1. Toss cleaned and hulled berries in sugar.
  2. Whip up some cream. 
  3. Pour berries into baked pie shell.
  4. Top with whipped cream.
  5. Cut out star shapes from extra dough, bake and coat with cinnamon sugar.  Place on whipped cream.

Happy 4th everyone!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Fava Beans with Tomatoes and Toasted Bread

It's confession time.

As the baby sister on this blog, I have an embarrassing childhood nickname to admit to (thanks to S, and her active childhood imagination) in order to fully explain the significance  of me eating beans tonight. The nickname, in its most basic form, was, well, Bean.

More of a name replacement than a nickname in actuality, throughout the years it received variations of Beanie, Beaners, Beanalise, and perhaps the most embarrassing as thought of by my HS XC coach, Beanalicious. My grandfather used to tell me to call my sisters Asparagus and Broccoli in retaliation, but they never had quite the same ring to them.

The only positive that embarrassed-kid-version-of-me found in this family name was that it could be used to bolster my arguments against certain foods and help me stubbornly hang on to my pickiness. If any form of bean were set in front of me, I would say"I can't eat that, it's cannibalism!" quite smugly.

I'm hear to share is because I, Beanalise, not only consumed beans tonight (gasp!) but also cooked them for myself.

it helps that the beans were in this delicious dish 

Of course, this recipe and trying of beans was not my own doing, like most of the dishes that have led to the demise of my finicky habits. (such as the salad my grandmother made me my freshman year of college), but was Katelyn's. I won't say that I am a fully converted bean-eater just yet, but this Bean has both spilled the (nickname) beans and eaten them. This dish is perfectly fresh, bright, flavorful, and filling.

(The simplicity of this recipe means I am going to share it in an equally simple form, as well as give an insight into how recipe sharing goes in this family- quick text messages about that-one-time-you-made-beans-and-I-actually-ate-them. Here's a screen shot, ha)

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Watermelon Feta Quinoa Salad

I've been meaning to make this for around a year, since Annalise emailed a similar recipe to Katelyn and I with the comment, "Look!  A recipe we would all like!" I finally saw some great watermelons at the store today, and although I'm not generally a huge fan, it makes this salad really refreshing.  Tastes like summer!  :)

2 cups (dry) rainbow quinoa, cooked
1/4 of a watermelon, chopped
7 oz feta, crumbled

1/4 cups finely chopped fresh mint leaves
2 VERY finely chopped scallions (be careful, cold salads get oniony-er over time)
Lemon olive oil, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, tiny squirt of mustard to emulsify, tiny squirt of honey, pinch salt.

(And I just now realized I posted this right after another quinoa recipe.....!!)

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Honey Glazed Carrots with Golden Tomatoes and Garlicky Quinoa

K was right when she said that we sisters love quinoa.   This is a recipe from a few nights ago that I was reminded to post when a blog search with the word "quinoa"  turned up a variety of results.  It's a bit of a spin on basic idea of the Curried Pineapple Quinoa I posted recently, so my apologies if you begin to feel quinoa-ed out (I have a warm-salad-with-quinoa-recipe I will also be posting soon).  I love how many different spins this grain can have, and was pleased that this recipe that I threw together was equally delicious as its inspiration, yet entirely different.

I bought some carrots from a farmer's market, and figured their farm fresh glory deserved to shine in a dish built for them.  Remembering how simple the curried quinoa was, I tweaked it, replaced spices, found a great carrot recipe which I also tweaked, and tossed it together to create this:
For Quinoa:
1 1/2 cups veggie or chicken broth
3/4 cup quinoa
2 teaspoons lemon garlic spice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Lemon zest
Lemon juice

For tomatoes:
A quarter of a red onion
1 clove garlic, minced
About 1/2 pint golden cherry tomatoes

For the carrots: 
1 bunch carrots
1 small head garlic, halved
Coarse salt
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons honey
2 sprigs fresh rosemary

Bring broth, quinoa, lemon garlic spice powder, salt, and pepper to a boil in a saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the quinoa is tender, 15 to 20 minutes. 

Dice onion and sauté with garlic and olive oil for a few minutes.  Toss in as many cherry tomatoes as you like.  Sauté until onion is tender and cherry tomatoes have cooked down until they begin to char and burst.

Place carrots and garlic in a separate pan, salt and cover with water. Simmer about 10 minutes or until tender. Remove carrots and garlic, and set aside, clean pan. Heat to medium high. Add oil, honey, rosemary, and 1 tablespoon water and cook until bubbling. Add carrots and garlic and cook, stirring, until coated and slightly caramelized, about 5 minutes.

Combine quinoa, carrots and tomatoes and enjoy.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Indian-Spiced Black Lentil Soup

This is one of those times when I really really don't want to let a recipe slip away from me, so I'm reposting it even though I have nothing really useful to add.  If you hit an unseasonable cold streak, or crave Indian food and live in a city without much of it, or don't know what to do with a bag of black lentils, trust me, this is the answer.  

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Avocado Kale Salad with Roasted Chicken, Radishes, Sweet Corn, Grapes, and Hazelnuts

Alright, this is a ridiculously long title. But these ingredients went so well together that I didn't have the heart to leave any of them off.

I made this delightful salad to complete a baby shower spread for one of my dearest friends. We also served this quiche; a cheese spread with honey goat gouda, blueberry goat cheese, wine-soaked syrah, white apricot stilton, and sharp cheddar; a mix of hazelnuts, almonds, and pistachios toasted with sea salt and rosemary; chocolate covered strawberries; grapes and tangerines; cake; and some delightful drink that involved grapefruit bitters.
Everything But Kale Salad

Unfortunately in the photos I didn't capture the salad, but you can see the rest of the table. The quiche cooks up beautifully even when you use skim milk rather than cream.

Despite its somewhat unorthodox ingredients, this salad was much enjoyed.

Please do note that I made this for more than thirty people and thus can't really provide exact amounts for a smaller salad. In the notes below I've given loose guidance for a salad to serve five.

Raw Sweet Corn
Hazelnuts (pistachios would also be amazing here; in one bowl I actually used both. If those are too
expensive, use sliced or blanched almonds)

To serve five people, I usually use two big bundles of kale. If you are using  a whole-roasted chicken, use the best meat for this and judge accordingly. If not, I would recommend one big breast for a five person serving. One or two cobs of corn will be fine, again for a medium sized salad, and just buy one bunch of radishes and use to your preference. Be generous with the grapes and hazelnuts. I usually use two avos for a regular sized salad. 

Ingredient Prep and Assembly
Husk your corn and wash all vegetables
De-stem and chop your kale
Thinly slice your radishes
Saw the corn off of the cob
Slice grapes in half
Pit avos and cut in half
Shred chicken

After everything is cleaned and prepped, I begin by massaging my kale with the avocado. This can be a bit laborious, but is absolutely necessary. Massage until your kale is tender and there are very few whole avo pieces remaining. Then, add your radishes, corn, grapes, chicken, and hazelnuts, pistachios, or other nuts of choice. Toss well. 

Dressing Suggestions
For the bridal shower, I made a mustardy dressing that I unfortunately didn't document. The basic ingredients and process went like this: 

Whisk a generous amount of whole-grain mustard with 1/4 cup of olive oil. Add lemon juice, brown sugar, and sea salt to taste. You can substitute the lemon juice for apple cider vinegar or the juice of an orange. Start with small amounts and work up in increments until you find a nice balance of acidity, sweetness, and saltiness. 

This would also be great with a homemade buttermilk dressing! When I make a homemade buttermilk, I usually combine 1/2 cup or so buttermilk with several tablespoons greek yogurt or sour cream, lemon juice, and sea salt. You may need a splash of olive oil to get to the right consistency.

Considerations for food ethics and allergies: Using the mustard-based dressing, I made a vegan version of this by omitting the chicken; it was still hearty and delicious. If you are concerned with protein, consider adding chickpeas. Gluten free. Dairy free unless you use the buttermilk dressing.

Ed. 5/19/13 (by Sarah):  Here is a picture of the salad as I made it this weekend!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Curried Pineapple Chicken Quinoa

Whenever a friend asks me to "teach" them to cook, I feel at a loss because I am not quite sure how to do so.  Teach them lingo?  Tell them what the different types of knives are? Tell them how to cut different fruits and vegetables? The one thing I consistently come back to is sharing that the best way to learn to cook is to follow recipe after recipe until you learn what works, and then you will eventually learn to vary them slowly, until you one day will feel able to develop your own recipe.  You have to learn the rules so that you can break them. This year I have found myself more often than any other ever googling recipes with ingredients I have on hand, considering, adjusting, and making things outside of my tried-and-true basics.

Tonight, I had pineapple and I had quinoa. I googled and found a few different recipes, but ultimately decided upon this one, which I found here. I followed the beginning and changed it up near the end. Being the resident carnivore on this blog (even as my title has officially been changed to Happy Omnivore),  I also grilled up some chicken and added it in as well, though it would have been just as delicious without.  I served mine hot rather than cold, so here is the recipe I landed upon, with which I was quite happy.

    1 1/2 cups veggie or chicken broth
    3/4 cup quinoa
    2 teaspoons curry powder
    1 clove garlic, minced
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/4 teaspoon black pepper
    1 cup pineapple chunks
    A quarter of a red onion
    1 chicken breast

Bring broth, quinoa, curry powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper to a boil in a saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the quinoa is tender, 15 to 20 minutes. 

Dice onion and sauté with olive oil until tender.  Add bite sized pieces of chicken seasoned with more curry, pepper, salt and garlic to your taste. Sauté until almost cooked through, add pineapple chunks.  Let the chicken cook in the juices until fully cooked, and pineapple is softened.

Mix chicken and pineapple with cooked quinoa, serve hot.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


In quotes b/c I have no idea if this is how one actually makes ricotta.  But you can't beat the level of effort:

Bring 1/2 a gallon of whole milk and a cup of cream to a boil with 1/2 a tsp of salt.  As soon as it reaches a rolling boil, toss in 4 TB fresh lemon juice, bring down to a simmer, and stir for a minute or two to make sure everything curdles.  (Fascinating!)  Drain in a cheesecloth-coated strainer for an hour.  Keep the whey for smoothies if you're into that kind of thing.  Eat.

Spring Pasta with Grapes, Ricotta, Parsley and Grilled Bread

I mean.... I don't even know what to say if I didn't have you at "grapes, ricotta, parsley and grilled bread."  Swoon.  (This recipe is kind of an entree-scale flavor rip-off of this one, btw.)

1 bunch asparagus (I used purple!)
Sugar snap peas
Thin spinach pasta
1 bunch red grapes, halved
1.5 cups ricotta
1/2 a bunch of parsley leaves, roughly chopped
Lemon olive oil
Crusty bread cut into crouton-sized chunks
Lemon juice

In a large frying pan, heat olive oil (lemon flavored if possible) on high heat.  Chop snowpeas in half and chop asparagus spears into small bite-sized pieces.  Toss those and some salt into the hot oil, cover, and cook on high heat until very tender, shaking the entire pan occasionally to prevent burning.

Meantime, get your pasta water boiling, and whenever it boils, make your pasta.  Preheat oven to 225 so that whatever gets done first can go into a big serving bowl to stay warm.  When pasta is done, drain, toss with a bit more olive oil to prevent sticking, and put in bowl in oven.

Add veggies to bowl when they are done.  Use frying pan (without rinsing), with a little additional oil and salt if needed, to grill chunks of bread - not as hard as for croutons, but somewhere in the middle! Set bread aside to top each bowl of pasta.

Finally, use same pan, with more oil if needed, to grill grape halves and parsley.  The grapes should give off juice and become slightly translucent.  Toss them into pasta bowl before they lose shape.

Finish by tossing in ricotta, salt and lemon juice to taste, and top each bowl with bread chunks.

Chiles Rellenos

Turns out it is extremely fun to make chiles rellenos at home.... don't believe me?  Behold:

There, now that you are completely persuaded....

You will need a poblano for each person you are feeding, some kind of gas flame (gas stove? flame thrower? welding torch?  gas grill?  broiler? sky's the limit here, really), and the following (for 4 poblanos):

3 cups shredded Jack cheese
salt & pepper

4 eggs, room temperature
another 1/2 tsp salt
1 cup evil vegetable oil

That is ALL!

Now for the harder parts.

First, you need to blister your chiles, like you see above.  Basically putting them right in the gas flame and turning them with tongs every so often worked out just dandy.  They snap and crackle as you roast their skins, it is jolly good fun!  Takes awhile though, so leave some time.

When they are black on the outside and tender, take them away from the gas.  Split each one up the side and carefully remove the seeds without ripping the pepper anywhere else, and rub the outer blackened skin off.  Then season with salt & pepper and stuff with cheese.

Second, you need to mix up your batter.   Separate the eggs. Beat the egg whites with salt until stiff peaks form. Mix the yolks up with a fork, then gently ever so gently fold them into the whites.  Voila!

Now, heat the oil in a large frying pan.  The internet teacheth that the oil is hot when you put a wooden spoon handle in it and it sizzles.  When hot, here's what you do:

Make a chile-sized little island of batter in the oil.  Flatten it a little with wooden spoon and then let it brown some.  When it seems like it will hold its shape, gently plop a chile atop it.  Start another little island going.  When the first one (the chile-containing island) is brown enough to eat, flip the whole thing over on top of Island #2, so that now the chile is totally encased in batter, and let that brown until it matches the topside.  Then, put that chile on a metal rack and stick it into a 250 degree oven.

Do the same with yr remaining chiles, bake them a bit longer all together, and eat with delicious toppings!