Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Simple Garlic Soup

I came home from a long holiday trip to Alaska with a terrible cold and little in the fridge. Faced with potatoes, garlic, and chicken and peppers that I knew were reserved for a dinner P wanted to make, I decided to try my hand at a simple garlic soup. The result was gorgeous: savory, warm, and perfect for a winter cold.

Simple Garlic Soup
adapted from recipes by The Splendid Table, Brooklyn Supper, and Serious Eats

3 heads garlic
3-4 medium yellow potatoes
1/4 yellow onion
1 box beef broth (if available: any kind of stock, or even water and wine, will do)
Olive Oil
Black Pepper
Heavy Cream (optional)

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Chop the tops off of 2 heads of garlic and drizzle with olive oil. Roast in oven for 20 minutes or until fully soft. Remove from heat and let cool.

While your garlic is roasting, peel and smash the cloves from the remaining garlic head. Rinse and dice your potatoes, and dice your small piece of onion. Cover the bottom of a soup pot with a generous layer of olive oil and add garlic, potatoes, onion, pepper, salt, and thyme. Heat to medium-low and let saute slowly with the lid on. Check every five minutes to make sure nothing is getting too brown. After 15 minutes or so, add the beef broth and let simmer.

Once your roasted garlic heads are cool, remove the skin and add to your pot. After simmering for a bit longer, add a bit of water to thin things out (unless you weren't using stock to begin with), then use an immersion blender until smooth. Drizzle in heavy cream or milk if you have it on hand, stir and enjoy.

Serves two.

Food allergies and ethics
Gluten-free so long as you use gluten-free broth, I prefer Pacific Brand. To make vegetarian, substitute beef broth for a flavorful veggie stock. Vegan if you use veggie stock and skip the heavy cream.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Brown Butter Rosemary Cornbread Stuffing

You know the beloved children's story, "If You Give A Mouse A Cookie"?  There could be a follow-up titled "If You Give A Parady A Side-Dish".   We admittedly go overboard at times, which is well-documented on this bloggy.  I spent this Thanksgiving with some dear friends who happen to be the rare sort of people who approach food like my family does, and while we definitively went overboard, the meal was fantastic.  On my list of dishes to contribute was stuffing, and so it began.

Stuffing, the usually humble, down-to-earth dish who is content to never be the star of the Thanksgiving show became a fancy-pants, bougie-fied (not a word, don't care) food in my hands and I have no regrets.  There was a brief moment in time between the cooking and eating of said stuffing where I feared I had gone too far, but one bite and a friend's declaration that it was the best stuffing he'd ever had and all doubts were laid to rest.

So now that you know this dish is over the top, I can tell you that I made my own cornbread to then make into stuffing.  I can admit that I browned butter not once, but twice.  And I can reassure you again that it is so worth it.  Please indulge me and add this to your Christmas meal, or next Thanksgiving, or any other reason you have to feast, because really, who says stuffing is just for Thanksgiving? Not I, and not this stuffing.

cornbread recipe barely adapted from Joy The Baker

1/2 cup (1 stick) plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup coarse ground cornmeal
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
3 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8×8 square baking pan, line with parchment paper.

Brown the butter in a small saucepan. Heat slowly over medium-low heat until it begins to crackle and brown. Remove from heat, whisk together with eggs, buttermilk, and orange juice.

In a large bowl, blend orange zest and rosemary into sugar, pressing the zest and spice into the sugar to release the flavor. Add the rest of the dry ingredients to the large bowl with the flavored sugar, whisk to combine. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, stir to combine. Pour batter into pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.

6 tablespoons butter
9 cups cubed cornbread, stale or toasted dry
1 onion, diced
2 eggs, beaten
3 tablespoons rosemary
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3.4 cup chicken stock.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Brown butter in a small saucepan until it begins to crackle and smell nutty. Remove from heat and transfer to a measuring cup or small bowl.

Mix together cornbread, diced onion, eggs, rosemary, salt, pepper, 3 tablespoons of butter and 1/2 cup of chicken stock in a large bowl. Transfer to a 1 1/2 quart casserole dish. Drizzle the remaining butter and chicken stock over the top. Bake 30-45 minutes, until crisp and brown on top.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Guest Post: Sweet Potato Biscotti

Our Mom called last week to brag about eating these awesome, tender biscotti, so of course, we commissioned a guest post from her fabulous colleague Tammy, a librarian, blogger, and maker of tasty treats.

Merry Christmas and Happy Eatings, Everyone!  I am honored that these sisters have graciously agreed to allow me the opportunity to share with you a recipe I just recently tried.

Knowing this family is very good about eating healthy, I was a little concerned as to how my horribly UN-healthy fare filled with full-fat, refined sugar, gluten and plenty of “vitamin C” (cholesterol) would be received.  But my fears were alleviated when I scrolled through these culinary delights and occasionally found my old friends, “cheese, butter, and heavy cream.”  And even the party twins, “BOOZE & PIE”!

So here goes…enjoy!


For The Biscotti:

3 C all-purpose flour
2 t baking powder
½ t salt
1 t cinnamon
¼ t nutmeg
½ c butter
½ c sugar
½ c brown sugar
3 whole eggs
½ c sweet potato puree
½ c chopped candied pecans

For The Icing (optional):

1 bag white chocolate chips
1 T shortening

Preheat oven to 350 deg F. Mix together all dry ingredients and set aside.  In a separate bowl, cream butter & sugars together, then add eggs and puree.  Next, add the dry ingredients into the wet.  Fold in pecans.

Place dough onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or silicone mat.  Shape into a 15”x16” log and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove from oven and place log on a cooling rack.  Let cool for 30 minutes or more.  Slice into ¾” to 1” slices* and return the slices to lined cookie sheet, bake for 8-10 minutes.  Flip slices over and bake on other side for 8-10 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool on cooling racks.

These are good without the icing, but for extra scrumptiousness, melt chips and shortening in microwave in 30 second increments until melted.  Dip one side of biscotti slices in white chocolate and let dry on cooling racks until firm.

*Slices may then be sliced in half lengthwise for a more authentic biscotti size.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Tom Kha, no Gai

This is a quick and easy way to get some bone-warming Thai flavors onto your table. I took lots of weeknight-friendly shortcuts, and the soup was still utterly satisfying,


Veggie bullion (or chicken broth)
3 TB lemongrass in a tube (or 4 stalks lemongrass, chopped into 4-inch lengths and smashed with the back of a knife)
3 TB ginger in a tube (or a big, hand-sized hunk of ginger, peeled, chopped and smashed with back of knife)
4-5 Thai chilis, stems chopped off (or Sriracha to taste)
Juice of 1 - 2 limes
Chopped kale - or, if you prefer, the more traditional add-ins of chicken and/or mushrooms
1 can coconut milk
2 TB fish sauce (vegetarian fish sauce can be found at Vietnamese markets)

To top:  Fresh cilantro leaves, and I highly recommend fried garlic from an Asian market (or homemade, but it's easily purchased), which packs a great flavor punch on all kinds of soups, from tomato to pho.

Equipment:  A fine mesh strainer.

1.  Mix 8 cups of water with half the amount of bullion called for so it's not overpowering.  Add lime juice, chilis or sriracha, ginger, and lemongrass, and boil for 10 minutes, tasting and adjusting along the way to see if you need more of anything to make the broth pop.  Then, strain to remove the ginger and lemongrass pulp.

2.  Return to a boil and add whatever ingredients you want.  I made it simple with just kale.  Boil until these are cooked.

3.  Add about 1/2 to 3/4 of your can of coconut milk, to taste, plus fish sauce. Again, taste and adjust before serving.  Some recipes recommend a bit of sugar this point; I left it out, but follow your tastebuds.

4.  Ladle into bowls and serve with a small bowl of rice and a small well-baked sweet potato on the side.  Top with fresh cilantro and fried garlic.  

Monday, December 8, 2014

Early Winter Breakfasts: Spiced Butternut Muffins with Bittersweet Chocolate

At some point during the Thanksgiving grocery shopping bonanza, I sent my husband out for a butternut squash. He returned with the largest gourd known to man, which, he informed me very grouchily, cost $9. A $9 squash?! Adding insult to injury (no, really, I tore my rotator cuff during the Thanksgiving festivities and am sure lifting this sucker didn't help) I ran out of time to make butternut soup on Thanksgiving day.

We're determined that $9 is not going to go to waste, so we've since had squash in our chicken soup, squash cooked into quinoa polenta arepas, and now squash in these perfect. not-too-sweet breakfast muffins. 

This recipe seems a bit fussy, but it's only because I was using up other leftover holiday ingredients, like buttermilk and heavy cream. You don't need to follow my lead here, and could definitely substitute plain old milk. And if you're not gluten free? You can sub the brown rice flour for whole wheat and use a regular all-purpose flour. The almond meal would still be a nice touch, or just increase the amount of one of the other flours by 1/2 cup. 

Adapted slightly from this lovely recipe:

Spiced Butternut Muffins with Bittersweet Chocolate
Adapted a little from this lovely recipe at Making Thyme for Health

1 1/2 cups brown rice flour
1/2 cup gluten free all purpose flour (I use this mix)
1/2 cup almond meal
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1 cup roasted and mashed butternut squash** 
2 eggs
2/3 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup chopped bittersweet chocolate

In a large bowl, sift together your dry ingredients. Set aside and preheat your oven to 350°F. Fill a 12-muffin pan with liners.

In a separate bowl, mix together all of your wet ingredients, including the squash. I did this by hand with no problem, and my squash was pretty dry. 

Slowly fold the contents of your wet bowl into the dry mix. Don't overdo it. Fold in the bittersweet chocolate last. 

Pour into muffin tins and bake at 350°F for 25 minutes. 

**You can either pre-roast your squash or puncture its skin and then microwave the heck out of it. You might get some more depth if you roast it, but for muffins I found the microwave a very acceptable cooking method.

Food Allergies and Ethics
Gluten-free, vegetarian

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Chopped Kale Turkey Salad with Pecans, Apples, and Curry Spiced Yogurt Dressing

A perfect Sunday lunch, especially after a Thanksgiving weekend with an abundance of rich food.

For the Salad
Kale, de-ribbed, roughly chopped
Pecan halves
Apple, chopped
Avocado, diced
Turkey, chopped and shredded
Cranberry Relish (optional)

For the Dressing
Greek Yogurt
Olive Oil
Curry Powder
Sea Salt

After de-ribbing and chopping your kale, massage with several squeeze of lemon and sea salt. Add chopped apple, turkey, and pecan pieces, and toss. Add avocado and gently toss again. I also stirred in just a few spoonfuls of leftover cranberry relish to brighten things up a bit.

In a separate bowl, mix several spoonfuls greek yogurt with a teaspoon or two of olive oil. Thin with several squeezes of lemon, and stir in a teaspoon or two of curry powder to taste, plus a few pinches sea salt. Drizzle over salad, toss again, and enjoy!

Food Allergies and Ethics

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Mulled Wine Pear Pie

I developed this recipe several weeks ago, and ever since K has been on top of me to post it, as evidenced by the following note that she left in my draft:




So here it is, just in time for you to dash out and grab the ingredients to add another pie to your Thanksgiving menu (I'm being presumptuous, but I can almost guarantee that by this family's standards, you don't have enough pies planned for Thursday and that ought to be remedied.)

My new favorite equation is booze + fruit = pie, and this season needed a replacement for my ever beloved Bourbon Peach. As I considered exploring other fall flavors in place of the tragically overused pumpkin, I realized that pear and wine may be a perfect match, and a quick google search resulted in baking this Pear, Red Wine and Rosemary Pie.  That yielded a slightly disappointing result - I felt that the syrup was too fussy, and the taste was not nearly as flavorful as I'd hoped.  But a lightbulb went off in my head, and I set about making a mulled wine version of my own with a less involved syrup process, some soaking of the pears in the syrup, and more prominent spices.

This is one of those pies in which the baking process is just as lovely as the eating.  The pears turn a stunning, jewel-toned purple, and the smell of the spices and wine simmering into syrup is just the thing your home would like to be filled with in November.

for the syrup:
1 bottle (probably cheap) dry red wine
1 cup sugar
3 sticks cinnamon
6 whole cloves
2 whole star anise
(feel free to add your own spices, or even some orange zest, but don't go overboard - you'll add more spices later and my first round was far too heavy on the cloves)

Place all ingredients into a medium pot, bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer until reduced to 1/3 of original volume. Strain spices from syrup,  pour over sliced pears in a large bowl and allow to soak 2-3 hours (if anyone tries longer or shorter, let me know how it turns out!)

for the pie: 
1 double pie crust, unbaked
3 lbs of Bartlett or Anjou Pears, peeled and sliced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 tablespoon butter, cut into pieces
1 beaten egg
Granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 375.

Roll out one pie crust to fit a 9-inch pie pan, place in bottom of pie pan.  Toss flour and spices in the bowl with wine-soaked pears.  Place filling (syrup included, but use your eye to judge if you feel there's too much liquid and adjust accordingly) in pie crust and dot with butter pieces.  Roll out other crust and place on top.  Pinch edges of crusts together to seal, flute and decorate as desired. Cut slits to ventilate. Brush crust with a beaten egg and sprinkle with granulated sugar.

Bake for 30 minutes at 375, then reduce oven to 350 and rotate pie.  Continue baking for 60-75 minutes or until crust is golden and juices are bubbling.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Moonshine Hot Toddy

I've come down with a cold over the last few days, apparently because the high has dropped into only (!) the 70s 'round these parts.  Cue a round of concerned text messages from Mum, prescribing all manner of remedies beginning with steaming myself in the shower ("Gettin' might nippy down there! Steam yourself!") and of course including the ever-beloved ZICAM ("a different Zi cam nasal spray that supposedly shortens cold SHOULD have told u that when u were @ store").

Then came my personal favorite remedy that I had already been gladly utilizing: the hot toddy ("Eat honey & lemon if U have it.  Warm it up & add whiskey.  Do you have bourbon left from pie?  It would work too.")  The hot toddy has become my go-to comfort when sick - so never fear, Mum, this sick daughter's throat is well coated with toddy love.  Tonight I was inspired to do a fall twist on the classic version, which turned out better than I expected. So here you go, a rare same-night posting:

For 1:
Hot water
Cinnamon Apple Spice herbal tea from Celestial Seasonings (or similar)
Apple Pie Moonshine
1 quarter of an orange

Fill your mug slightly over half-full with hot water.  Add tea bag, the juice of the orange, honey and moonshine as desired.  Perfect for any cold evening, whether sickness or weather-related. Mum-recommended.

Previous Toddy Inspiration: 
by Kate: Italian Amaretto Cookies and Bourbon Hot Toddies
by Sarah: Apple Toddy

Friday, November 14, 2014

Classic Turkey Soup

Nothing's better than a simple turkey soup in November. Bookmark this for Thanksgiving leftovers now, or do like I did and get started early using turkey breasts cooked in a crockpot. 

2 turkey breasts, combining to about 1 to 1 1/2 pounds of meat
2 ribs of celery
5-7 carrots
1 yellow or sweet onion
1 cup wild rice
8 cups veggie or turkey broth
Olive Oil

Cook the turkey breasts ahead of time in the crockpot with 3 cups of your broth (more if needed to completely cover the meat), sage, pepper, and salt. You could do this the day before or the day of, just make sure you get it in at least four hours prior to cooking. I usually cook on high the entire time, but if you notice the meat is done in advance or cooking quickly switch to low for the duration.

Cover the bottom of a large soup pot with olive oil and place on burner turned to medium high heat. Add the full cup of wild rice and stir to coat with olive oil. While the rice and oil are heating, dice your onion finely. Add onion to heat and stir with rice.

Start chopping your carrots and celery. I like the celery chopped finely and the carrots with a little larger dice.

After the onions have softened a bit, add the broth that you left out of the crockpot, the celery, and the carrots. Bring to a low boil, then turn down just a bit. It typically takes the rice 30-40 minutes to cook through.

While soup is simmering, shred the turkey breasts using two forks. Add to the main soup pot along with the broth they cooked in, let simmer for another 10 minutes, and enjoy.

Depending on how your rice cooks, you may find you need a little more liquid: I added about 1/2 cup of water and that worked out fine. We ate this as a very hearty soup, almost a stew.

Food Allergies and Ethics
Gluten-free and dairy-free, just check your broth.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Perfect Oven-Fried Potatoes

Easy peasy perfect oven-fried potatoes. Picture says it all, right?

Yellow potatoes (4-5 good-sized, could also use a larger number of tiny fingerlings)
Butter (1-2 Tbsp)

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Put somewhere between 1-2 tablespoons of butter in a glass baking pan and place on the top shelf of your oven so that the butter heats with the oven. (You can do more or less butter depending on the size of your potatoes and your personal butter preference.)

Puncture your potatoes with a fork and place them together on a plate, then microwave for 5ish minutes or until tender. The first time you do this, stop halfway through and check. Watch not to turn them to mush, you want them to be cooked through, soft, but holding their shape. Sometimes if I have bigger potatoes, I flip them halfway through, too.

Next, quarter the steaming potatoes with a sharp knife. You could oven-fry 'em whole or halved, too, but you'll get a better crisp if you quarter them.

Pull out the baking pan and add your potatoes to the sizzling butter. It's ok to do this even if the oven isn't at 425 yet, you'll just have to watch your baking time. Don't be alarmed if the butter has browned a bit, then you just have brown butter fried potatoes and what's not to love about that! Toss with salt and pepper. Add more butter if you need after you see how coated the potatoes are. I go for a nice coat but not dripping.

Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. I like to finish off with a quick broil to get them even crispier. Flip them halfway through if you want, though sometimes I'm too lazy and it's fine.

Obviously, you can do this with more than 4-5 potatoes, I have just found that to be a nice size to serve alongside breakfast or lunch for P and I and have some leftovers. These are also delightful with a little grated cheese and a glass of red wine. Which I think counts as a reasonable working gal's dinner.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Harissa Broth Vegetable Soup with Chickpeas + Swirled Feta

I made this gorgeous soup after seeing Heidi Swanson's recipe for Spicy Chickpea and Bulgur Soup. You really do want to have harissa on hand here. I also used some za'atar but that's certainly not necessary.

This soup received rave reviews from several guests with very diverse palates. The swirled feta takes it over the top and is well worth the bit of extra effort.

Ingredients for Soup
2 yellow onions
1 head garlic
1 anaheim chile pepper
2 red bell peppers
Large handful of kale
1 small butternut squash
4 yellow potatoes

1 14.5 oz can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
1 can chickpeas
32 fl. oz. veggie broth

1 Lemon
2 T harissa
Za'atar if already in your cupboard
Olive Oil

Ingredients for Swirled Feta
Whole fat, plain greek yogurt
1/2 block feta
Fresh parsley
Several squeezes of lemon
Za'atar (again, if already in your cupboard)

Cover the bottom of your soup pot with a generous pour of olive oil and set on medium heat. At this point, I recommend also puncturing the skin on your butternut squash and microwaving it to soften. I also do this with the potatoes if I'm in a hurry and don't have time to wait for them to cook through all the way in the soup.

Dice your onions, chile pepper, and red bell peppers and add to the pot. Season with salt, pepper, and za'atar if using. While those soften, mince or crush your entire head of garlic. If you have one, place garlic in a mortar & pestle along with a big squeeze or two of lemon, two to three tablespoons harissa (depending on how hot your harissa is), and another pour of olive oil. Crush to form a paste. If you don't have a mortar and pestle, just stir this all together and be sure to really mince/crush your garlic.

Add your harissa paste to the soup pot and toss well with onions and peppers. When onions are translucent, add the vegetable broth.

While broth simmers with the onions, peppers, and harissa paste, pull out your softened butternut squash and softened potatoes. Chop and add to soup. Rinse your squash seeds and roast them like this if you'd like an extra soup topping.

Rinse your canned chickpeas and add to soup along with fire roasted tomatoes. As a last step, rinse and de-rib your kale, then toss in a few handfuls of that as well.

Finally, while the soup simmers, you can whip up this amazing swirl of feta, yogurt, and fresh herbs to top each bowl with. Put 1/2 block of feta into your food processor along with a big handful fresh parsley, some squeezes of your lemon, salt, pepper, and za'atar or more harissa if you want. Process. Depending on how wet your feta is, you may want to add a small bit of olive oil, too. After the first process, add tablespoons of plain whole greek yogurt until you have a nice creamy consistency. If you don't have a food processor, finely chop your parsley and mix by hand.

Taste and continue to season the soup as you like - I think I poured in a bit of the wine I was drinking at one point. Serve with a generous dollop of the feta cream on top and crusty bread on the side.

Food Allergies and Ethics: Vegetarian, vegan if you skip the swirled feta. Gluten free, but please check your veggie broth. I use Pacific brand.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Sea Salt & Vinegar Roasted Squash Seeds

In Phoenix, I froze all my food waste that could be composted and hauled it to some gracious friends who had both a compost pile and chickens. Since moving to Boston, no workable composting solution has presented itself and I've been regretfully tossing all my beautiful veggie peels and seedy innards.

Until we find a way to divert food waste again, I'm trying to be more mindful about reducing the amount of it that ends up in one of Boston's trash incinerators. This morning, poised to toss the innards of a gorgeous acorn squash, I realized one squash's worth of roasted seeds would make a lovely afternoon snack.

Whether you have the seeds from just one acorn or butternut or delicata or kabocha, or a whole slew of pumpkin seeds from Halloween prep, you can do the same. Let's use as much of our veggies as possible, people!

Sea Salt & Vinegar Roasted Squash Seeds

Preheat oven to 350. Rinse your seeds well, and then spread on the bottom of a glass baking pan or baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes, plain, to get them dried out. Once beginning to crisp, reduce the heat to 250. Pull out seeds and coat well with olive oil, sea salt, cracked black pepper and white wine vinegar. (Be generous with the vinegar if you want that puckery taste!) Let bake for another 30 minutes. Pull out and enjoy warm as a snack or on top of soup, like this roasted red pepper and potato or this chopped veggie soup with crema and seeds.  To save for later, let them cool completely and then store in a glass jar with an airtight lid, then use as a topper on a hearty salad like our warm quinoa and chickpeas mix.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Chopped Fall Slaw with Brussel Sprouts

Somewhere between a chopped salad and a slaw, this is a lovely way to use up brussel sprouts when you're tired of roasting them. Crunchy and light! I recommend serving with a heavier soup or any dish with a lot of starch or cheese.

About a dozen brussel sprouts
1 pint grape tomatoes
White wine vinegar
Olive oil
Sea salt
Cracked black pepper
Maple syrup

Rinse your brussel sprouts and cut of their woody bottoms. Chop in a food processor or shred manually with a sharp knife. Place into salad bowl and toss with several large squeezes of lemon, olive oil, sea salt and black pepper. Next, rinse and finely chop your tomatoes. (I did this in the food processor too, just be careful not to turn them into tomato paste.) Add to the sprouts. Add a bit of white wine vinegar and maple syrup to taste, toss, and enjoy.

Food Allergies & Ethics: Vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Roasted Red Pepper and Potato Soup

On Sunday, I came up with a vague plan to make a roasted red pepper soup this week. Mostly, the plan entailed buying red peppers and figuring out how to turn them into soup later. Here's the outcome: a lovely, creamy, potato-red pepper pairing that was filling and nutritious. I want to do a better job showcasing the regular food we eat around these parts, and this is tasty, relaxed, and very easy to make changes to depending on what you have on hand.

5 red peppers
6-8 yellow potatoes
Head of garlic
1 box vegetable stock
Olive oil

Fresh thyme
Paprika (smoked or regular, whatever you have on hand or prefer)

White or red wine (optional)
Parmesan rind (optional)
Heavy cream or half and half (for a final drizzle, optional)

Preheat your oven to 400. Then, wash and de-seed your peppers. I typically slice off the top, then slice the pepper into thirds, removing the seeds from the middle. Arrange your clean pepper segments in a large glass baking dish, toss well with several glugs of olive oil, and put them into the oven to roast. This typically takes about 35-40 minutes. You want to keep them in until the skin is blackened and pulling in places.

While the peppers are roasting, peel most of the cloves of garlic from your garlic head. Toss them whole into a deep soup pot with a healthy covering of olive oil, and begin to cook on medium heat. Throw in some white or even red wine if you have it on hand...I poured right of the glass of Pinot I was drinking. Added some nice depth but totally isn't necessary.

Rinse your potatoes and puncture with a fork. Then, throw them in the microwave for 7 minutes, until they are mostly soft. Chop with the skins on and add to the garlic, oil, and wine already simmering.

Next, add your veggie broth and begin to season using salt, pepper, smoked or regular paprika, and thyme. If you have an old parmesan rind on hand, throw 'er in. If not, don't worry about it. Let simmer while your peppers finish.

Once your peppers have a decent blackening going, pull them out of the oven. This is where you really should let them steam in a covered bowl and then remove their peels. But who's got time for that, especially on a weekday? Throw them into the soup pot, peels, oil, and all.

It's time now for your immersion blender (or to do this in batches in a regular blender if that's what you have available). Pull out the parmesan rind if there's one in there, and then immersion blend away. Slowly add milk as you go, until you get the texture you want. I added a drizzle of organic half and half at the end, but again, this is an easy soup and that's not necessary.

Food Allergies & Ethics: Gluten-free, but check your vegetable broth of course. Vegetarian. Replace the milk with coconut milk to make this vegan, or leave it out all together and thin with a bit more broth, wine, or water.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Fancy Grilled Cheese, Autumn Edition (Grilled Cheese with Sharp White Cheddar, Caramelized Onions and Butternut Squash)

We're big fans of cheese around these parts, especially when it's melting between slices of toasty, buttered bread. Here's an October edition of what P and I like to call Fancy Grilled Cheese aka Grilled Cheese With Extras Like Mustard and Caramelized Onions and All Other Good Things.

Grilled Cheese with White Cheddar, Caramelized Onions and Butternut Squash

I used leftover roasted butternut squash here. If you're starting from the beginning, well, turn your oven to 425 or so and get to roasting. Or, to make it easier, just microwave the squash. I'm skeptical too, except that's how our Ma does it and it always works. Stab it with a fork, microwave for between 7-10 minutes or until that cute little squash is falling in on itself.

Once that's taken care of, assemble your grilled cheese components.

Bread (gluten-free if you need)
Sharp white cheddar cheese or gruyere, lots, thinly sliced
Yellow onion, thinly sliced
Butternut or acorn squash, roasted and de-seeded
Sharp mustard

1. Heat a little butter in a skillet, and cook your thinly sliced onion over medium-low heat with salt until it becomes extremely soft and begins to caramelize. Don't rush this, to properly caramelize I find onions need 30+ minutes.

2. In the meantime, spread butter and a nice sharp mustard on all sides of your bread.

3. Once the onions are ready, remove from the skillet and set aside.

4. Add a touch more butter to the same skillet, then lay your bread slices down.

5. Flip a few times, and once the bread is beginning to toast nicely, add your thinly sliced cheese.

6. As the cheese is melting, top with caramelized onions and a scoopful of squash.

7. Flip one slice onto the other and toast the whole thing in the skillet with a little more mustard. (Just put a bit down in the skillet like you would butter. This makes for a messy, messy skillet but a delightful, delightful sandwich.)

8. Remove from heat and enjoy.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Lime Basil Gin & Tonic

It's the last Friday of summer.  Here's a cocktail inspired by a drink I had somewhere once, the lime basil growing abundantly in the backyard, and LIME FLAVORED EVERYTHING in Mom's fridge.

A squeeze of agave
2 ounces Limeade
3 ounces Lime gin
2 ounces Lime perrier or tonic water
11 Lime Basil leaves (mine are on the small side, so if yours are larger, adust accordingly)
(in the absence of LIME FLAVORED EVERYTHING, plain gin, perrier/tonic, and/or basil will do just fine.)

Honesty:  Those measurements are complete estimates of what I did based off of the interwebs.  I believe you are a smart, capable adult who deserves this cocktail and can guesstimate your measurements just as well as I. ;) 

Place 10 basil leaves in your hand, clap.  Pummel them in a small glass with agave and a small amount of your limeade. Strain out basil leaves.  Add to tumbler with gin, perrier and the rest of the limeade, stir well.  Garnish with final basil leaf.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Plum Raspberry Crumble

I'm home in September for the first time since high school (usually this time of year is kicking off school or busy in other ways), and I forgot how lovely the mild air and changing of the seasons can be here.  The leaves are just beginning to brush yellow, but the best of late summer flowers still spill out of pots around our yard.

Because of this pie, I didn't make nearly enough out of late summer berries, failing to even make my Dad's legendary raspberry cobbler because all I wanted to do was soak peaches in whiskey.  Whoops.  I wanted to remedy that and also to make use of some abundant plums from a tree in my Mum's yard, so I adapted this recipe to suit my late summer/early fall baking desires. The result was exactly right: it has all the tart, fresh flavors of summer, but begins to ease in the subtly spicy-sweet flavors of fall.  I happily baked while old favorites like Mary Chapin Carpenter and Tom Petty played out of our stereo with windows and doors thrown open to welcome the almost-crisp night air.  It's a transition dessert, to help us say goodbye to recent favorites while welcoming what's next.

Now, do you think there are still peaches enough to make that pie one last time?

(Oven at 350)
10 small plums
1 cup raspberries (alternately to raspberries and plums, 1 1/2 cups of whatever fruit(s) you please)
1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp vanilla powder (alternately, 1/2 tsp vanilla extract, or leave out)
4 TB butter, in small cubes
1/3 cup sliced almonds (optional, feel free to leave out or exchange for pecans or walnuts)

Note: We were concerned that the plums had bitter skins, so I blanched and peeled mine.  You'll want to pit and slice yours, and I leave the peeling up to your discretion.

Place plums and raspberries in the bottom of either four 1/2 cup or two 1 cup ramekins, filling roughly half.  In a small bowl, mix flour, oats, sugar and spices.  With fingers, work butter cubes in until the butter pieces are roughly pea sized or a little larger.  Toss with almonds.  Press crumble on top of fruit, chill ramekins 20 minutes or overnight.  Once ready to bake, heat oven to 350 and place ramekins on a baking sheet with parchment paper to catch any bubbling over.  Bake 22-28 minutes until bubbling and golden. Enjoy with a scoop of ice cream by night or a mug of coffee by morning.  Or vice versa, who am I to judge?

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Bloggiversary, Round Three: Sarah's Five Favorites

Long ago in Wyoming, when we were little girls, Katelyn, Annalise and I went through a phase where we were fighting a lot.  I think we were probably about 12, 9, and 5, so we're talking almost 20 years ago. (Back then, my favorite dinner was elk Dad hunted and butchered himself, with a side of Mom's scallop potatoes.  Sorry about the vegetarianism, Dad - it's about factory farms!)

Well, at some point, the three of us were overtaken with remorse for our bickering and had a meeting after dinner one night in the basement, during which we decided the solution was to form a club, consisting of the three of us, and called ....... ahem:   "Sarah, Katelyn and Annalise in Peace:  SKAP!!"

I'll just let that sink in a bit.

Actually, it gets even better.  The rules of SKAP were that if one sister did something mean to another sister, the third sister got to act in a quasi-judicial capacity and decide what the mean sister had to do for her victim, and then..... we would sing a special song we referred to as the "SKAP Rap."

...... Yep.  The "SKAP Rap."  I don't even know what to say about that, other than that we lived in small-town Wyoming without a television, so please, cut us a break.  Thankfully, I do NOT remember the words.

So, the reason I am telling this completely ridiculous story (other than that I still love to embarrass my younger siblings) is just to say that ever since I left home, I have done nothing but wish that I could again live close enough to my sisters to bicker regularly, make up, and hatch stupid plots together.  Please call me today so we can bicker, OK, guys?

When I claimed "" five years ago and then called my sisters to tell them about it, I was in the middle of probably the lowest period of my life (a divorce in my mid-twenties).  I think I imagined that the blog would be sort of a recipe box, a place to jot down reminders and ideas, and I think it came to mind because I was frankly having trouble forcing myself to cook for nobody but me.  Watching the posts grow ever-longer, as my two deeply thoughtful sisters use the blog to capture pieces of daily life in their lovely writing voices, has been a surprise and a source of happiness again and again over five tumultuous years.

OK!  So recipes:

By Annalise:
Fava Beans with Tomatoes and Toasted Bread.  I love this recipe both on its merits, and because it includes an extended discussion of Annalise's embarrassing childhood nickname (also my fault - I'm on a roll here), and also because it is posted via a photo of an exchange of text messages between her and Katelyn.

Vegan Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes:  This post is all Annalise all the time (covering such essentials as her love of autumn, colored pants, baking, and Pinterest), and coincidentally also contains a recipe sent via text message.

Finally, Annalise, while I will not insult your formidable baking prowess by categorizing our most-read recipe ever as a "favorite," I will note that in the time we've had this blog, you've gone from being a sweet and awesome college girl who makes her friends cookies and takes a blurry phone photo, to a sweet and awesome college grad who makes an entire Thanksgiving dinner for 40 immigrant teenagers and takes sophisticated photos on a fancy camera.  Well played.  

By Katelyn:
Tha(ish) Indian(ish) Soup:  I obviously make this without chicken, and it's straight-up one of the yummiest things on the blog.  I might make it today!

Strawberry Breakfast Salad with Cowboy:  This salad is quintessential Katelyn:  Healthy, comforting, fresh, and unexpected.  Plus, the post itself is very sweet, which is also quintessential Katelyn.  Tell that cowboy to eat his salad!

Katelyn, I credit your entries on this blog with helping me get into much healthier eating habits than 5 years ago.  You are so thoughtful about everything you do in life, and (science jokes like this one aside) you really bring all of your scientific and social scientific training and learning to bear on everyday decisions.  Everyone in our family benefits a lot from that.

By Sarah:
Fresh Corn and Fava Soup:  This is the kind of thing I wish I managed to eat every single day!  Mostly veggies, with flavor.

Alright, that's it from me.  Thanks for letting me publicly air my great love for these two:

Annalise and I are pretending to be aliens.  I am confident that today, now that she is no longer a preteen wearing awesome lipgloss, Katelyn would join us.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Bloggiversary, Round Two: Kate's Five Favorite Recipes from Five Years

The sisters and I started blogging five years ago. A lot of things have changed since then, from where we live to what we look like and what we do. But our enduring love for food, and for talking to each other about food, has stayed the same.

Here are my five favorite recipe posts from the last five years of blogging. 

By A: 
See my dear little sister, you're not always last!

Frozen Sweet Potato Fries: C'mon, kids, who doesn't love a good frozen fry? A thinks this is a favorite because I love to make fun of her. That's true, but I chose it for two other reasons, as well. First, I take a lot of pride in the fact that despite being foodies, us Parady girls are not snobby about our food. We love all kinds of meals and all kinds of recipes, for all kinds of reasons. Frozen fries are GOOD, and quick, and they belong on this here bloggie.

Second, lil' sis has greatly expanded both her palate and her kitchen skills over the past five years. I'm really proud of her. The fries are a favorite, then, because they highlight just how amazing some of her more recent posts are, especially the one I've chosen as another favorite, below.

Grandma's Fresh Lemon Pie: Lemons, pie, and Grandma. I recently moved away from the city that Annalise and I have been living in together, and this post makes me get a little weepy. She and I have spent four of the last five years baking pies in my kitchen, spending time together with our Grandma, and salivating over Arizona lemons from A's yard. This pie, and Annalise's gorgeous presentation of it, is a gem. 

By S: 
So much of what I know about cooking I learned from Sarah. Our parents are pretty darn good in the kitchen. But it's S who imparted the three most important rules of my kitchen: veggies are delicious, so is cheese, and no cooking project is ever too big. See below.

Warm Tortilla Salad & "Jalapeno Poppers": S is the queen of creating amazing salads, and this is a classic Parady sister "eat-a-delicious-salad-with-a-rich-side" pairing. The flavor and texture combo here is ridiculously good, and one that all three of us love: tangy, salty, perfectly acidic, creamy, and crunchy. Oh wait, everyone really loves that combination! Final comment: if you haven't made these poppers yet, do it this weekend. So easy, so enjoyable.

Yogurt: A Collaborative Sororial Post: Besides assurances from Sarah's husband that this is the best yogurt, ever, I chose this post because it is mostly a transcript of a cell phone conversation between Sarah, in Denver, and me, in North Carolina. So much of Sarah's wisdom comes my way over the phone, sadly, so it feels appropriate.

And now, for the big confession. I actually haven't taken the plunge and made yogurt yet. I'm scared! But I'm going to do it soon. Because the most important thing I've learned from big sis is that all the life things are terrifying-- but you just do them anyway. I'm trying to follow her into the world of making bold career decisions (she started her own firm this year), but maybe I'll take a baby step in the kitchen first. Join me, dear blog readers, and let's be fearless in the face of FERMENTATION AND BACTERIA.

By K (me):

Spiced Molasses Holiday Pie: This pie was born from a long review of other recipes for molasses pie and shoo-fly pie. The traditional recipes fittingly come from Pennsylvania Dutch country where our Mom grew up. They seem to have a crumb layer in addition to a "wet" molasses filling. Our version instead offers straight-up gooey goodness, with a filling that I think was originally based on this recipe in particular. (I didn't take good notes during my search, so unfortunately we've never really been sure how it came to be, but that looks very close.) Together, Annalise and I created two different versions, one stronger and topped with a maple whipped cream, one sweeter and topped with a cinnamon whipped cream. Pick one, and make it this holiday season.

Here's to the next five years of recipes!


Thursday, September 4, 2014

Bloggiversary: Annalise's 5 Favorite Recipes from 5 Years

Today, this bloggy of ours turns 5 years old - we can scarcely believe it.  In all of those five years, we've never celebrated the anniversary, but we figured 5 is a big deal. If our blog were a human, it could be starting kindergarten!  All 3 of us will be posting to share our top 5 recipes over the next few days, a "Greatest Hits" collection, if you will.

While we know posts have been few and far between recently, we really love this blog, and searching through the archive for ALL-TIME FAVORITES (an impossible task) reminded me of why I'm personally so happy we have it. Looking through posts reminded me of some of my happiest memories with my sisters, as well as some of harder times we've faced together and the therapy that cooking provided.  I also found myself (as our Mum would say) LOL-ing over the signature Parady cornball humor that is sprinkled throughout all of our posts.  I remembered how K was so excited over her IMMERSION BLENDER that she demanded we caps-lock those words in all recipes, found this joke from Sarah that went sadly un-appreciated and laughed over my own early cooking college days.

Cooking is (clearly) a big deal to our family, and whether we are calling each other on the phone for a recipe reminder and throwing in a quick life update on the way or spending hours together baking way too many pies for a big holiday dinner, it keeps us close in moments big and small.  This blog allows us to record that, along with being a virtual recipe box, so thank you for reading and allowing us to share our delicious memories with you.

Starting with the oldest sister first, here are my two favorite recipes by Sarah: 
I would be remiss if I were to not choose a soup recipe from Sarah, and as the title of this recipe states, tomato soup recipes are her particular favorite.  There are 47 soup recipes on this blog, and once when I wanted to make one for a sick roommate I called Sarah directly because I was too overwhelmed to choose.  This is the one she directed me to and it certainly lived up to the caps-locked hype.  I would declare it her favorite but fall is on its way and I would not be shocked if another tomato soup recipe appeared along with it.  Making it reminds me of many such phone calls over the years to my sisters, who always have the right food answers.

Watermelon Feta Quinoa Salad
An alternate title for this blog could be "".  While our tastes and preferences vary drastically, there are also strong similarities between the three of us, one being that our cooking/eating alternates between very healthy and very indulgent.  We call it a "balanced" diet - a favorite lunch order for all three of us is sweet potato fries + salad.  Here's a recipe that came out of a suggestion I made on an email thread where we all challenged each other to come up with something we all three would eat (initially Sarah said she hates watermelon, then she ended up being the one to post it, so ha!) and came to fruition during a summer cookout at Sarah's home.  Triple-Parady-approved!

By Kate:
Maple Custard Cream Pie
Choosing a pie from Kate was essentially mandatory for me, as our joint love of pie has been a dominating theme on this blog and also in many happy memories together during our years in Phoenix.  We are the sisters who once made 5 Thanksgiving pies for only 10 people. However, I will admit that there was a time where I *gasp* didn't have a deep love of pie.  This was the pie that changed that, so of course it came from K.  It's still a long-time favorite of mine, particularly for Christmas morning.

Roasted Corn and Tomato Risotto
Risottos are a specialty of K's, and they are partially responsible for me starting to eat vegetables a few years ago while I was still listed as the "finicky carnivore" in our blog description.  Big sisters are excellent for tucking foods you are skeptical of into creamy, cheesy, flavorful rice so that eventually you will eat them on their own.  I chose this one because we are just at the tail end of abundant corn and tomatoes, but you can't go wrong with any of the risottos she's shared.

By me: 
Costan Rican Casado and Guanabana Batidos
As the youngest sister on this blog, my culinary skills are always lagging just a tad behind the others (and some of my more embarrassing cooking moments have been archived here).  It's a point of pride and amusement for me, then, that I wrote our TWO MOST VIEWED POSTS of all time.  Muahahaha.  This is the second most-viewed, but I am actually proud of rather than embarrassed by this one.  Going abroad was the best thing for my development as a cook, because I became the de facto cook for my roommates and was challenged by unusual ingredients.  Upon return, I took it upon myself to recreate my favorite meal from Costa Rica, and the result is this post that has apparently become some sort of "expert" recipe for others who miss the light, fresh meals found there.

Bonus favorite by Mum:
French Onion Cream of Mushroom Soup
I couldn't resist including a guest post from our Mom in my list of favorite-ever posts.  While I myself have never made this soup (the picky eater in me still can't stomach mushrooms), K captured our family perfectly in writing this post.  I remember reading it and laughing so hard I fell off my bed and startled my roommate two rooms away.  It deserved to be on here.

Look forward to hearing from K and S soon, and maybe take some time to glance through our archives yourself.  Happy bloggiversary to us!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Heidi's Zucchini Agrodolce

I just wanted to say that I made this and it was amazing.

I love that Heidi's recipes always have unique flavor profiles that you can still meddle with.  Besides her ingredients:

a dressing of vinegar, salt, garlic, honey and olive oil;
mandoline-sliced zucchini,
blanched red onion also thinly sliced on the mandoline,
toasted walnuts
toasted coconut flakes, and chopped dates...

...I also added:

mandoline-sliced carrots,
kernels of corn,
green beans chopped into tiny green bean coins,
finely chopped black olives, and
finely chopped parsley.

I served the resulting crispy salad on a bed of lightly dressed greens, just to give our jaws a break from chewing.  Take that, CSA box!  

Melon-Olive Skewers with Bread & Rosemary

I haven't snapped a picture of these skewers at any of the several summer barbeques for which I've made them, but besides being juicy and chewy and savory and sweet, they are also quite lovely, pale green and red and black.  You'll need:

One ripe green melon (really key that you get a good one, as we all know the horrors of unripe honeydew - cantaloupe would probably be nice too), cubed
Cherry or grape tomatoes 
Gemlik olives (mild, wrinkly black "breakfast olives"), pitted
Crusty bread, cubed

Skewer these items (all at a 1:1 ratio); drizzle them with a mixture of olive oil, something tart (lemon juice, pomegranate molasses, balsamic, apple cider vinegar, etc.), rosemary, and salt; and grill them.  Smaller cubes grill more nicely and are easier to eat.  You can serve people their own skewers, or unskewer everything, toss in a bowl, and serve as a salad.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Food from Turkey

Almost a year ago, my spouse and I took a vacation to Turkey.  The trip very much reminded me of how weakly educated I am in history before the past 100 years or so, something that I suppose is not a surprise, living as I do in the "New World," on a thoroughly colonized continent in a society that chooses to view its own history as beginning a bit over 200 years ago.  In Turkey, you can't avoid the physical signs of layers and layers and layers of history, society upon society, world upon world.  It's dizzying to the American mind, and very wonderful.

Anyway, this here is a food blog, and the reason I'm posting so belatedly about our trip is that I've been making some very tasty melon-black olive-bread skewers all summer, and as I thought about posting them here, I realized that the idea came from eating many Turkish breakfasts involved juicy, honey-sweet melons and mild, wrinkly black olives.  This made me nostalgic, I went back to my photos of the trip, and here are all the delicious things I found there:

White beans in rich broth in Cappadocia.

Melt-in-your mouth mezze at Seten.

A bulgur-and-chickpea soup with the most amazing flavor (which I've been meaning to try making), also at Seten.

Breakfast:  Olives, cheeses, fruits, tomatoes, raisins.  Heaven.

Eating a little wild apple from an abandoned orchard in the Rose Valley.

There were grapes, too!

Wonderful bread and haydari

Clay pot, cracked open (which took some effort) for eating on a chilly night

Cheese-filled flatbread on the river in the Ihlara River Valley

Honey and pistachios and flaky pastry

More mind-blowing mezze in Kalkan, at a place called Olive Garden

Lunch to go in Istanbul.

Beautiful pasta at a museum restaurant in Istanbul

Fancy manti at Mikla

Sweets and spices at the Spice Bazaar

Peppers and white beans from another lovely lunch counter

Husband with sesame bread


Friday, August 29, 2014

Bourbon Peach Pie

We know this space has been neglected.  Just the other day Kate sent an email to us asking for the recipes that are currently simmering on our stovetops, and as she declared herself in a cooking rut I realized that I am in the same uninspired place.

To be fair, we've had a busy summer of changes.  In July, I ended my two-year AmeriCorps program and moved out of the sweet old house that I was lucky enough to live in for two years.  Somewhere in between there I waved good-bye to Kate and Pete as they moved across the country for an exciting new chapter.  Sarah, meanwhile, has been working her tail off in her own new professional venture.  And now I sit, still in the Phoenix heat, rarely feeling the motivation to do much more than roast some simple veggies or follow someone else's recipe to a T.

Luckily, motivation can always be found in pie, and all the more so when that pie involves booze.  I've been on the hunt for a solid bourbon peach pie recipe all summer, dreaming of something that married two of my favorite vices perfectly.  In early summer, my friend and (now) new roommate Mandy and I had a night of too-much-pie-baking to celebrate our program graduation that ended with us laying on her floor at midnight while pies (multiple) still sat in the oven, including these bourbon peach hand pies by smitten kitchen.  Her husband declared them the best "pop tart" he'd ever eaten, and they were delicious to be sure, but lacking the kick of bourbon I was hoping for.  It seemed every recipe I could find gushed about adding a "splash of bourbon", but who wants just a splash? I, personally, would like some drunken peaches. A few weeks later, I decided that another google search was in order, and baked a peach pie with bourbon-laced caramel as my last pie in the kitchen I dearly loved.  The caramel didn't set quite right, but it was also lovely and perfect for feeding the kind friends and family that helped my roommates and I move.  Still, the truly boozy pie I was seeking alluded me until Mandy found what we had hoped for: a recipe that validated our desire to simply soak the peaches in bourbon until the cows came home. We loosely followed that, and here's the result, a pie that will make you ecstatically happy to be an adult even while dealing with responsibilities like moving in 100+ heat.  I should know, it's already been made three times since then, somehow always coming before the many other berry-filled summer desserts I have vague ambitions to bake but haven't gotten around to.

Hopefully fall will provide these sisters with a little more stability, and we'll have some fresh veggie-filled ideas for you.  But until then, pie:

1 double pie crust dough, chilled
7 juicy peaches, pitted, peeled and sliced
(at least) 1/4 cup of bourbon
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon salted butter (or unsalted butter and 1/4 teaspoon of salt)

In a large bowl, douse sliced peaches in bourbon (don't be shy).  Cover and let chill for awhile, at least a couple hours but overnight recommended (the longer they chill, the more bourbon they'll soak up).

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Whisk sugar, flour, cinnamon and lemon juice in a bowl, then mix with peaches.  Roll out pie crust and place in 9 inch pie pan.  Fill bottom crust with peaches, cover with scattered pieces of butter, cover with top crust (or lattice, if preferred).  Be sure to ventilate crust,  then brush with egg wash and dust with raw sugar.

Bake for 35 minutes, then reduce temperature to 350 for an additional 25-30, until crust is golden.  Cover crust edges with aluminum foil or pie shield if browning too quickly.


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):  

Bon appetit!