Roasted Veggie Quesadillas with Pesto and Goat Cheese + a Twist to My Favorite Barley Risotto

As I have been prepping for my first day back to work tomorrow I have tried to get myself back in the mindset of thinking through all our meals on Sundays. I forget how this can be a lot of work up front but how much easier it is as the week goes on and you have things prepped and ready for the meal ahead of time. I wanted to share two meals I made this week that were delicious. If you are able to roast the vegetables ahead of time then the actual prep of these delicious meals is simple. First up was a variation of my favorite barley risotto. Instead of mushrooms and sausage this time I did butternut squash, kale and turkey sausage (this would be just as good without the meat as well). I love anything with roasted vegetables and have always loved roasted vegetable sandwiches so decided to try it in quesadilla format.  I added pesto and goat cheese to make it complete.

As I said I highly recommend roasting the vegetables for both of these recipes at the same time.  Then when it comes time to make the meals it’s fast. Plus, after the vegetables are roasted the risotto only uses one pot (MY FAVORITE) and all I had to do to make the quesadillas the next night was assemble and bake. After roasting store the squash separate from the other vegetables (the mushrooms, zucchini, onions and red peppers can go in the same container). Below is one of the two pans of veggies I did (the other had the onion, red pepper and second zucchini).

IMG_3235

Roasted Vegetable Quesadillas with Pesto and Goat Cheese

Serves 4IMG_3264

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 zucchini sliced the long way
  • 2 red bell peppers, sliced into 1 inch long chunks
  • 3 portabella mushrooms, julienned
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 ounces of goat cheese
  • 1 cup pesto
  • 8 flour tortillas

Directions

  1. This step can be done in advance. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray then lay vegetables on top and drizzle olive oil over them. Roast at 400 for 40 minutes or until tender. If making the quesadillas later in the week store the vegetables in a sealed container in the fridge overnight.
  2. When it’s time to eat. Set oven to 350
  3. Assemble quesadillas by laying four tortillas down and spreading the vegetables evenly over them. Next, break off small chunks of goat cheese and spread on top of the vegetables. On the other 4 tortillas spread 1/4 cup of pesto evenly to the edges. Flip this quesadilla on top of the other tortilla.
  4. Lay all four assembled quesadillas on a baking sheet and bake for 5-10 minutes (until tortilla is slightly browned), flip and bake 5-10 min on the other side.
  5. Serve warm

Butternut Squash, Kale, Turkey Sausage Barley Risotto

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 pound of bulk turkey sausage (or two sausages with the casein removed)
  • 2 cups of chicken broth
  • 1 cup of hull-less or pearl barley, rinsed
  • 1 bunch of kale, stems removed and ripped to small pieces (I used a 5 ounce bag of kale)
  • 1 Butternut squash peeled and diced (I bought a 20 ounce container which is ~3 cups)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. This step can be done a day ahead if desired. Spray a baking pan with cooking spray then place the diced squash on the pan and drizzle with 1 Tbsp olive oil. Roast the butternut squash at 400 for 40 minutes.
  2. Heat dutch oven (or a large pot) to medium high and add 1 Tbsp olive oil. Saute the onion and  sausage until sausage is cooked through.
  3. Add chicken broth and barley to the pot, bring to a boil then cover and reduce to a simmer for ~40 minutes until barley is tender and the liquid is absorbed
  4. When 10 minutes remain (after barley has been on for 30 minutes) add the kale and roasted butternut squash.
  5. Remove from heat. Add the Parmesan cheese.
  6. Add salt and pepper as desired and serve

Homemade Ramen

When we were kids my brother and I used to love packaged Ramen noodles. It was often our after school snack when my mom was still at work. I still find myself craving these delicious things and was so happy when we had a Ramen restaurant nearby. Last year the restaurant moved and I was determined to create this dish at home. Since then we’ve remade it multiple times and even the kids love it. This is a vegetarian version of a ramen recipe that is super simple, quick and flavorful. A great way to get the classic ramen taste with the addition of fiber and nutrient rich vegetables. This recipe can be made with any vegetable your heart desires. I listed below how I usually prep mine as I think chives and mushrooms should be in every ramen dish and I always have broccoli on hand. Carrots and green onions are also good additions.  The beauty is once you have the broth base and noodles you can vary it up. I usually make it vegetarian but also have added meat if I have leftovers or a soft cooked egg for additional protein. The picture shows a time I made it this summer and sliced up leftover brats to add to the top (pork shoulder would be great too). All this Ramen talk and now I am going to the store to get Chinese noodles so we can have this for dinner tonight! Buon Appetito

Click here to see how long to boil eggs for different consistencies of yolk if you want to add an egg to the top. If doing that start the eggs when you begin the recipe.

Serves: 4-6

 Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp sesame oil, or olive oil
  • ¼ c. minced onion
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 tsp. freshly grated ginger
  • 1 cup carrots, chopped
  • 2 cups mushrooms, chopped
  • 1.5-2 cups broccoli, chopped
  • 8 cups vegetable broth (or chicken broth)
  • 2 cups water
  • 12 oz Chinese Noodles (some say Ramen noodles on the package, some say udon or soba) or Rice Noodles (gluten free option). I’ve used both with good results
  • 4 tsp ground celery seed
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped chives
  • Optional toppings
    • sliced green onion
    • chopped basil
    • soy sauce
    • Hot spices: red pepper flakes, hot sauce, etc
    • soft cooked eggs sliced in half
    • cooked meat (leftover pulled pork or sausage)

Instructions

  1. In a large saucepan, add oil and heat up. Then add minced onion, garlic, ginger and vegetables (carrots, mushrooms and broccoli or any variation of vegetables you want added).
  2. Continually toss and cook for 3-5 minutes on medium heat.
  3. Next add in broth and water.
  4. Add Chinese noodles and celery seed. Boil for amount of time listed on Chinese noodle direction for noodles to be done.
  5. Remove from heat and top with chives and any additional optional toppings you want.

 

Sweet Potato Oatmeal Pancakes

I find it ironic that within this big world wide web I searched how to make Sweet Potato Oatmeal pancakes on pinterest and got linked to a blog that was inspired by the same restaurant as I was. The restaurant that impressed me (and them) with these delicious pancakes was Short Stack Eatery in Madison. After eating my sweet potato oatmeal pancakes I couldn’t wait to make them for the kids (and who am I kidding for myself). Just as anticipated all the kids loved them. My four year old ate 3, the two year old 2 and the baby 1 and they have now been added into our breakfast for dinner rotation. We served them with fresh cut up fruit on the side and milk.

Since sweet potatoes are a fall food staple it’s the perfect time to try these out. You will need 1-2 sweet potatoes from your potato sack + some staple fall spices (nutmeg and cinnamon). I recommend cooking the sweet potatoes ahead of time so they are cooled and easier to peel and mash when you are ready to make the batter. Also, they freeze well so consider doubling it and freezing them to microwave later. I do this for as one of my quick healthy options for our 8 month old. My last editors note. The restaurant served them with mascarpone cream, which I listed the ingredients and directions for below but haven’t done so myself as I wasn’t eating dairy. Although, now that I can have dairy again I can’t wait to try it.

img_2779

Sweet Potato Oatmeal Pancakes

Serves: 4-6

Recipe adapted from whatimadetoday blog

Ingredients for pancakes:

  • 3/4 cup sweet potatoes, peeled and mashed (1-2 sweet potatoes)
  • 1 cup of all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup oatmeal
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2-4 Tbsp sugar (some people don’t use any sugar but some like a little. I recommend 2 Tbsp)
  • 1 cup milk (skim, 1%, 2% or whole work)
  • 1/4 cup Greek yogurt, plain
  • 2 Tbsp butter, melted + butter for spreading on pancakes after
  • 2 eggs (1 whole egg, 1 egg white only)
  • Syrup for serving

Optional: Serve with mascarpone cream (the restaurant did this as well as the blogger who posted the recipe) and fresh fruit (raspberries, strawberries, peaches or blueberries).

Ingredients for mascarpone cream topping:

  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tsp powdered sugar
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup mascarpone cheese

Directions for pancakes:

  1. Cook Sweet Potatoes. I usually do mine in the microwave. Prick the potatoes a few times with a fork, place on a plate and microwave on high 8-10 minutes or until tender when fork is inserted. Take out and let cool (if making the pancakes later then put in a covered container in the fridge.
  2. When ready to make the pancakes peel the cooled off sweet potatoes and mash.
  3. In a large bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients from flour through sugar.
  4. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the milk, yogurt, melted butter, egg and egg white.
  5. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until combined. Stir in mashed sweet potatoes and mix until there are no clumps.
  6. Heat a griddle or fry pan over medium heat and spray with PAM or add butter to pan. Pour ~1/4 cup of batter for each pancake and cook for 1.5-2 minutes, flip and repeat.

Directions for mascarpone cream:

  1. If making the mascarpone cream sauce, whisk the whipping cream in blender until it firm peaks form. Add sugar and vanilla extract and mix until combined.
  2. Scrape down sides and add mascarpone cheese and mix on low until combined. Serve on top of pancakes

Squash “Lasagna” Bake

My dinner tonight was a last minute meal inspired by our morning trip to the Shorewood Farmers Market. I ran into my friend Rachel who told me about this delicious squash lasagna she made earlier in the week. After my mouth was watering my husband set out to find some squash at the market and I made my grocery list of other things we’d need. My friend, like me, often gets inspiration from a recipe then whips it up in her own way based on what she has and how she likes. I got some inspiration from pinterest variations of this but ended up doing my own simpler thing so I thought I’d write it down so I could make it again. I also had to share this as I can’t wait to eat the leftovers tomorrow. Another friend of mine prepped a similar bake tonight for a dinner early this week which made me realize it’s a great dish to pre-prepare and pop in after work on a crisp fall day.

This recipe is gluten free and could also be made vegetarian by replacing the sausage with diced eggplant (if using eggplant make sure to let it simmer with the onions and sauce the whole time the squash cooks to ensure it’s tenderness)

Squash “Lasagna” Bake

serves: 6-8

Ingredients:

  • Butternut or Summer Squash (one large or two small)
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 pound sausage, Italian or turkey (I buy in bulk if not bulk remove casein) –> 1 1/2 cups eggplant if making vegetarian
  • 2 Tbsp Olive oil, separated
  • 1/2 jar of classic marinara
  • 8 ounces of ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, shredded and separated
  • 1 tsp dried parsley or 1 Tbsp fresh
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut squash in half lengthwise and remove seeds with a spoon. Drizzle 1 Tbsp olive oil onto squash and sprinkle with salt and pepper and place in oven to roast for 50-60 minutes
  2. In the meantime heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a medium saucepan. Add onion and let cook 3-5 minutes then add the sausage, breaking up pieces and cook until the meat is brown and cooked through. Turn heat to low and add 1/2 container of marinara sauce, let simmer until squash is done.
  3. Mix together the ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese and parsley and set aside.
  4. Once the squash is done let it cool 10 minutes. Keep the oven on. Then using a fork scoop out the inside of the squash into a greased 8×8 casserole dish. It will come out looking like spaghetti noodles. I personally mashed mine a little with a fork in the dish. Once the squash is set layer it with the meat sauce and then spread the ricotto cheese mixture on top.
  5. Place the dish back in the oven for 25-30 minutes until the sides bubble a little. If you are making the dish ahead then skip this part until you are ready to eat and place in the refrigerator. I would suggest cooking the day after it’s prepped.

Curried Chicken with Cauliflower, Apricots and Olives

This Christmas we had a big group of family come into town to celebrate. Instead of doing gifts between individuals we did an adult gift exchange. Each person had to buy a gift for $20-40 that the majority would like and then we played the dice game to choose and steal gifts. Lucky for me, I won an awesome new cookbook and sheet pan (my other one is very very “seasoned”). The cookbook is called Sheet Pan Suppers by Molly Gilbert and so far the two recipes I’ve made have been easy, tasty and not too much prep or dishes to prepare! I can’t wait to try more recipes in it as we have time!

One of the many great things about having family come to town is the extra hands to hold baby Miles usually allows me to cook a few nights.  I have found out quickly in Miles’ first 4 week of life that when it’s just me and the kids around to prep dinner (kids being: 3.5, 2 and 1 month) we survive on quick dinners not new recipes.

This past month we have had a lot of company to help us as we get used to being a family of 5. Ryan’s grandmother, Audrey, was our most recent visitor and the giver of my great cookbook. What better time to try our first recipe out. We decided on a curried chicken dish with an interesting pairing of cauliflower, apricots and olives. It was DELICIOUS. A hint of sweetness from the apricots and tartness from the olives paired great with the curry flavors. If you like curry, you’ll love it. We served it over brown rice.

Curried Chicken with Cauliflower, Apricots and Olives

Recipe from: Sheet Pan Suppers by Molly Gilbert

Ingredients

  • 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 2 pounds)
  • 4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 tsp curry powder
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 3/4 cup chopped dried apricots (soaked in hot water for 5 minutes and drained)
  • 1 cup pitted green olives, halved
  • 2 cups brown rice, uncooked (or quinoa as a gluten free option)

Directions

  1. Combine the chicken thighs with 2 Tbsp of the olive oil, 2 tsp of hte curry powder, the cyaenne, 1/2 tsp of the paprika, the cinnamon, vinegar and 1/2 tsp of the stalt in a large zip-top bag. Seal the bag and make sure chicken is covered in marinade. Let the chicken marinate in the fridge for at least 45 minutes and up to overnight (we did 45 minutes)
  2. When ready to cook, preheat oven to 425 and line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
  3. Place the cauliflower on the sheet pan. Add the remaining 2 Tbsp olive oil, 2 tsp curry powder, 1/2 tsp paprika and 1/2 tsp salt and toss to coat. Scatter the apricots and olives over the cauliflower, and toss to combine. Spread into a single layer.
  4. Remove the chicken thighs from the marinade and place them atop the cauliflower, spacing them evenly apart. Discard the bag. Roast, rotating the pan halfway through, until the cauliflower is slightly charred and the chicken is cooked through, about 45 minutes (a thermometer into the meat should read 165).
  5. Start the whole grain rice when you put the meat into the oven as it will takes ~40 minutes. Cook according to brown rice packaging. If making quinoa you can do it now or once the chicken has been in for 20 minutes as it won’t take as long. I recommend preparing 2 cups (before cooked)

FullSizeRender (7)

Soft Baked Pretzels

My daughter asked me this weekend if we could have soft pretzels like we had on the  ferry from Wisconsin to Michigan last summer. I love that, like me, the things she remembers about trips include the food she ate! Ironically, I looked at my kids food ideas  board on pinterest and saw that I had already pinned a soft pretzel recipe. Milwaukee has a plethora of German brew pubs, which means tons of homemade soft pretzels, and a new family favorite appetizer.

Monday was my first afternoon alone with all three kiddos. Miles was napping in the swing and the girls were playing great together downstairs so I figured I’d bake. Why not?

While the pretzels were baking I made a honey mustard dip and I put some Tostados queso dip in a second bowl as our two dipping sauces (Yes…dietitians have processed food in their houses too. Remember -MODERATION).

I felt so accomplished afterwards. A fun, delicious homemade dinner on the table that everyone loved. Ryan and I had ours with an Italian sausage and salad on the side to round out the meal and the kids had deli meat and fruit with theirs.

One quick disclaimer. This is a very easy recipe but beware that it is a little time consuming as you have to make the dough, knead the dough (I did this in my Kitchen Aid mixer), let the dough rise for 15 minutes, form pretzels, let the pretzels sit in baking soda bath for 2 minute and then bake them for 8 minutes. I did 2-3 pretzels in the baking soda bath at a time to speed things up. I’d assume ~45 minutes total before they are ready to eat but I promise it is worth it.

Soft Baked PretzelsFullSizeRender (5)

Source: Sprinkle Some Sugar Blog

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast (1 standard packet)
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 cups all purpose flour (3/4 cup more if needed)
  • Baking soda Bath = 2 cups of water and 4 Tbsp baking soda
  • 6 Tbsp melted butter and 1 Tbsp coarse salt for sprinkling on top post baking (I used 4 Tbsp butter and pinched salt on but did not measure)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 475 and line baking sheet with parchment paper or a non stick silicone baking sheet mat

  1. Combine yeast and warm water and sugar in a stand mixer fitted with a hook or in a bowl if you aren’t using a mixer. Let sit until your yeast is “frosty” or looks like it’s bubbling.
  2. Add salt and melted butter to yeast mixture
  3. Add flour one cup at a time until dough forms and is no longer sticky. You may need more or less based on temperatures where you live. I found that I actually had to add 3 tsp of water (one at a time) to this to make it sticky.
  4. Once dough Knead dough in mixer or by hand for 5 minutes until its smooth.
  5. Form dough into and let sit in a bowl for 15 minutes (I covered my bowl with a towel as i do that with other dough I make)
  6. While dough rises prepare baking soda bath. Boil 2 cups of water with 4 Tbsp baking soda. Stir and heat until dissolved. Remove from heat and pour into a 8×8 or 9×9 pan and let cool to be lukewarm temperatures.
  7. Take the dough out of the bowl and flatten slightly to cut into 8 sections like a pizza. Roll each section out to be ~15-20 inches long. Form the rope into a pretzel
  8. Once 2-3 are made place them in the baking soda bath and leave for 2 minutes (make the rest of the pretzels while they soak). If they are not fully covered spoon liquid mixture on to the top.
  9. Remove from baking soda bath and place on baking sheet. Reform if needed and sprinkle with salt
  10. Bake for 8-9 minutes until golden brown
  11. Brush with melted butter after taking out of the oven and serve HOT with your favorite dipping sauce

Honey Mustard Dipping SauceFullSizeRender

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp yellow mustard
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp dijon mustard
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice

Mix together and refrigerate

Chicken Tortilla Soup and Turkey Lasagna

When you pass your 40 week gestation date and you feel comfortable with baby happily hanging out you realize it’s time to cook. We hit single digits for the first time all winter and we didn’t have plans (as we could have been at the hospital) so Ryan and I took our stab at getting ahead for dinners. Yesterday he made our favorite turkey lasagna recipe and today we made chicken tortilla soup to freeze and enjoy post baby T3. Unlike a lot of chicken tortilla soups this one has noodles in it which I thought the kids would love. Two recipes down, one Asian Noodle dish prepped and ready for dinner tonight.

Looking for an easy, tasty meal for these cold days? Try one of these recipes. The lasagna is my favorite as it’s easy but still has homemade sauce and great flavor. As for the soup, one spoon in to taste test and it’s yummy!

Turkey Lasagna-  (Ina Garten) Barefoot Contessa

Chicken Tortilla Soup (with noodles) from damndelicious.net

Individualized Egg Tarts

My mother in law made a delicious herbed tomato and roasted garlic tart from Smitten Kitchen when she was in town this fall so we had extra puff pastry sheets in our freezer. I spotted them on the perfect day when the kids were happily playing together by themselves in the tent where I could see them. This meant I had time to think about a way to use them that we would all enjoy for lunch. Our littlest, Luisa, loves eggs so the breakfast puff pastry concept was launched. The nice thing about these little egg tarts is you can make them anyway you want. We had breakfast sausage and spinach around to add but you could do any cooked or roasted vegetable with or without a meat (see the bottom of this post for my combination ideas). I also was able to take mine out earlier so my egg was over medium while Elena and Luisa’s yolks were cracked and fully cooked. Individualized shared meal ideas are some of my favorite go-to meals mostly when they are quick like this was. They got a big stamp of approval from Luisa who ate hers in record time.  I doctored mine up with Trader Joe’s Sambal Matah Indonesian salsa for added flavor and spice. Another salsa that would be good to top them with is Frotera’s Chipotle Salsa made with roasted tomatillo and garlic for a smoky fresh spice flavor (my new favorite obsession). These were so good and fun for the kids that I’ll be making different variations for Luisa’s first birthday dinner and serving them with a side of fresh fruit, salad and cake.

Individualized Egg Tarts

Must Have Ingredients

  • Frozen Puff Pastry Sheets (I used Peppridge Farms puff pastry sheets) –I cut one sheet into 4 egg tarts so the full box should make 8
  • 8 eggs

Optional Toppings

  • ~1 cup spinach, chopped
  • Cooked veggies (peppers, onions, musrhooms zucchini or broccoli all come to mind as variations to try)
  • Breakfast meat (Canadian bacon, ham, prosciutto, cooked breakfast sausage or bacon), chopped
  • Trader Joe’s Sambal Matah Indonesian salsa or Frotera’s Chipotle Salsa or other salsa or hot sauce to top
  • Cheese (feta, goat or manchego would be my choices)

Directions

  1. Thaw the pastry sheet at room temperature until its easy to handle (20-40 minutes)IMG_1971
  2. Unfold the pastry sheets on a lightly floured surface and cut them into four pieces.
  3. Bend the sides of the puff pastry pieces up to make a shell so the egg doesn’t spill out
  4. Scramble an egg and put it in the pastry shell or crack it into the shell if you want it sunny side up
  5. Top with any meat, vegetables or cheese you desire
  6. Bake at 400 degrees for 12-20 minutes until the pastry sheet is lightly golden and the egg FullSizeRenderis cooked to your desired consistency
  7. Plate and top with salsa or serve plain

Egg Tart Combination Ideas: 

  • ham, broccoli and cheddar cheese
  • prosicutto, arugula and manchego cheese
  • bell pepper, spinach and goat cheeseFullSizeRender (1)
  • mushroom, parmesan and sausage
  • tomato, basil and bacon

It Starts with the Crust

Our family loves eating pizza and we usually make it weekly. With three out of four of us not being able to eat cheese we’ve been making our pizzas homemade for years. The reason I love making pizza from scratch is you can customize it for your family.  Our daughter loves pepperoni so we top hers with some of that and mushrooms, olives, peppers or spinach. What an easy way to get whole grains, vegetables and protein into one meal. Plus you can serve it with a side of cooked veggies or cut up fruit.

My critique of a good pizza often comes back to how good the crust was. The thinner and crispier the better and nothing is better to me than Wells Brothers Pizza in my hometown (Racine, Wisconsin). The crust is thin, crispy and delicious.  Having homemade pizza with the perfect crust can be hard to come by. I have tried a lot of brands of pizza dough on the market and have found a few new obsessions worth sharing. One pre-made crust, one dough you roll at home and two recipes to start from scratch. I’ve found now that I’m at home with the kids I love making dough from scratch. The kneading is rather therapeutic mostly on days when our 2 1/2 year old is extra feisty and the rolling and assembly is a great way to get kids in the kitchen cooking with you. Plus, the end results are a win for everyone. Yum, yum, yum.

My Favorite pre-made crust: Angelic Bakehouse Flatzza-Sprouted Whole Grain Pizza Crust

These crusts are made in Cudahy, Wisconsin by Angelic Bakehouse and can be found at select Whole Foods Regions and Sprouts Farmers Markets (located in 10 states). I pick them up at the Milwaukee Whole Foods but good news for my Minneapolis friends and other American readers. You can buy them on Angelic Bakehouse’s website. I promise you will not be disappointed. They also have a Flatzza wrap that I imagine is just as delightful that I will have to check out next time I’m at Whole FoodsFlatzza Crust

  • Why I love them: They are super thin crust, come in a two pack and are made from sprouted whole grains which are higher in protein, have a lower gylcemic index and are said to be easier to digest.
  • Nutrition: 110 calories, 5g protein and 3g Fiber in 1/4 of the crust
  • Check out all the types of grains on their ingredient list: Whole sprouted grains of red wheat berries, quinoa, oat groats, rye berries, barley, amaranth, and millet, water, wheat flour, sunflower oil, vital wheat gluten, 100% domestic honey, oat fiber, cultured wheat, salt, molasses, yeast.

Favorite Pre-made Dough Choices-Whole Foods Pizza Counter or Trader Joe’s Ready to Bake Pizza Dough

  1. Whole Foods Pizza Counter
    1. Did you know you can go up to the Whole Foods Market pizza area and ask to buy some of the dough to take home? This was news to me but a great way to get a fresh homemade dough
    2. Why I love this product: Fresh choice that required no work
  2. Trader Joe’s Ready to Bake Pizza Doughpizza-dough
    1. This has always been a staple for us for grilled or baked pizzas. They have a regular, whole wheat and garlic & herb crust choice. Personally, I love the added flavors in the garlic & herb one for a classic pizza creation. The other two are great choices when it will be topped with lots of flavors.
    2. Why I love these: Whole wheat option if desired, cheap, easy to roll out and easy to find as Trader Joe’s have always been close to where I’ve lived

Favorite New Pizza Dough recipes from Seriously Delish Cookbook:

I received the Seriously Delish cookbook from Jessica Merchant’s How Sweet It Is blog for Christmas from one of my best friends. I love getting knew cookbooks and this one has been a big hit so far. Included in the book is the authors favorite pizza crust and a 100% whole wheat version of her favorite pizza crust that I have made with the help of my little sous chef and will definitely make again.

Pizza Crust

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/8 cups warm water
  • 3 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cups all purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1 tsp salt

Directions

  1. Combine water, yeast, honey and olive oil in a large bowl. Mix together with a spoon and let sit until foamy (~10-15 minutes). Add 2 1/2 cups of flour and the salt, and stir with a spoon until the dough comes together but is still sticky, Using your hands, form the dough into a ball and work the additional 1/2 cup flour (you don’t need to use all if it is not needed) into the dough, kneading it on a floured surface for a few minutes.
  2. Rub the same bowl with a few drops of olive oil and place the dough inside, turning it over to coat. Cover the bowl with a towel and place in a warm place to rise for ~1 1/2 hours.
  3. Once the dough has risen, punch it down and remove it from the bowl. Place on a floured counter and, if it is sticky, knead a few tablespoons of flour into it until it is silky smooth.

100% Whole Wheat Version

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/8 cups warm water
  • 3 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 2/3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, combine water, yeast, honey and olive oil. Mix with a spoon, then let sit until foamy, about 10-15 minutes. Add in 2 cups flour and salt, stirring with a spoon until the dough comes together but is still sticky. Using your hands, form the dough into a ball and work in the additional 2/3 cup flour, kneading it on a floured surface for a few minutes.
  2. Rub the same bowl with olive oil then place the dough inside, turning to coat. Cover with a towel and place in a warm place to rise for about 1-1 1/2 hours.
  3. Once the dough has risen, punch it down and remove it from the bowl. Place on a floured counter and, if it is sticky, knead a few tablespoons of flour into it until it i silky and smooth

 

 

Barley Risotto with Mushrooms and Spicy Sausage

When the temperature gets below 20 degrees all I want is some warm, tasty comfort food. What better way than with a warm risotto. I adapted this from a Weight Watchers barley risotto recipe to be less…well less weight watcher-sie and more me. This recipe is easy to make dairy free or half and half as I did to accommodate myself and my cheese eating husband and our fairy godmother (I know we have a fairy Godmother. It’s pretty cool). What I liked best about this recipe was unlike the constant stirring required in traditional risotto with arborio rice this barley one allowed it to simmer on its own without having to be mixed. This means I will now be eating rissoto 10 times more often as that was always my deterrent to cook it. I mean what mom with two kids has the ability to stand next to a pot and stir for 30-40 minutes!?!  One thing I will add is the spicy sausage gave it a kick so if you want to make it more kid friendly I’d recommend doing two regular sausage instead of one of each. Without further ado here is the most recent Teskey dinner hit!

Barley Risotto with Mushrooms and Spicy Sausage

yields ~6 cups of risotto

Ingredients

  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • ~12 ounce of mushrooms, chopped (more or less is okay too- I used crimini but baby portabellas would work too)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 sausages (1 regular, 1 spicy)
  • 2 cups of chicken broth
  • 1 cup of hull-less or pearl barley, rinsed
  • 1 tsp of fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp of dried thyme
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Heat olive oil in medium dutch oven  or large pot
  2. Add onion and let sautee for 2-3 minutes
  3. Add mushrooms and garlic to the pot and cook 3-4 more minutes
  4. Remove casein from the sausages and add small pieces to the sauteing vegetables. Cook until the meat is cooked through and the onions and mushrooms are tender (~10 minutes)
  5. Pour in chicken broth and 1 cup of barley. Stir.
  6. Increase heat to have the broth boil then cover and reduce to a simmer for ~40 minutes until barley is tender and the liquid is absorbed
  7. Remove saucepan from heat. Add thyme and cheese. I removed my portion and didn’t add cheese then added the cheese to the pot for others. It was delicious even without the cheese!
  8. Add salt and pepper as desired and serve

Dairy Free Mac

I’m always trying to find creative dairy free recipes so our oldest daughter can enjoy some of our favorite dishes (she is very intolerant to dairy and I’m hoping she out grows it). Recently I made an awesome one that I will definitely make again (I can’t say that for many) and had to share. I first saw it when my friend Ashley posted it on Facebook from Bold Vegan’s blog. The title was  “extra Creamy Vegan Mac and Cheese (not some hippy dippy “cheesy”Mac and cheese).” This catchy title caught my attention as a I love cheese and am not a vegan. Plus, I’ve been wanting to try using nutritional yeast as people say its a great cheese alternative.

What is nutritional yeast?

nutr yeastNutritional yeast is a deactivated yeast sold in flakes or powder form for cooking. It’s a great source of B vitamins, folic acid, selenium , zinc and is a complete protein. If you are a vegan or vegetarian I recommend looking for one that is fortified with vitamin B12. Two tablespoons of nutritional yeast contain about 45 calorie and 8 grams of protein. The recipe below uses 1/2 cup which would be ~24 grams of protein from the yeast.

It produces a cheesy, nutty flavor that was great in our recipe. You can use a few tablespoons to add creaminess to sauces, soups or mashed potatoes (I plan to start doing this) or you can add in more for a cheesy texture.  I’ve also heard you can sprinkle it on popcorn for added flavor.  I found mine at whole foods in the bulk  section and would imagine most co-ops also sell it. For a little over 1/2 a cup it cost me $2.09 ($18.99/lb).

Without further explanation I will let you get to the recipe. Know that my husband, brother, mom  and I all liked it. It was creamy with a nice slight nutty flavor and an added bonus that there were vegetables blended in! We served ours with sesame green beans. I’ll include how I make those below as they are a family staple.

Dairy Free Macaroni and Cheese using Nutritional Yeast

Ingredients

  • 1russet potato, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 cup carrot, cut into 1/2 inch rounds
  • 1/4 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup butter  (for vegan version use Earth Balance spread)
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast (40g)
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons canned coconut milk (full fat is recommended but I used Trader Joe’s Light Coconut milk)
  • pinch of black pepper
  • 1 box (8 oz) of macaroni noodles or elbows  (I probably used about 12 ounces of noodles from a 16 0z box–I didnt measure just poured)
  • Parsley for garnish

Directions

  1. Place potato, carrot and onion in a pan, cover with 2 cups of water and simmer for 20 minutes with the lid on.
  2. While the potato mixture is cooking start your water for the noodles and cook noodles according to the package.
  3. After 20 minutes, turn off heat in potato pan and add butter (or Earth Balance spread f making vegan), nutritional yeast, turmeric and salt. Stir to combine until melted (DO NOT discard the water, keep it in the pan)
  4. Pour mixture into a blender and blend for ~1 minute until creamy and smooth (NOTE: I used an immersion blender and did the blending in the pan it cooked in which was super easy). You may need to scrape the sides down from the blender a couple of times for everything to get incorporated.
  5. Add coconut milk to the blender and continue to blend until mixture is creamy throughout.
  6. Pour cheese sauce over cooked noodles.
  7. Garnish with parsley and serve.

veg mac             veg mac 2

Sesame Seed Green Beans

If you are crunched for time like me you can buy a  bag of green beans to steam in the microwave or if you have more time or fresh green beans sautee them in a pan with a small amount of olive oil. I like my green beans with a lot of crunch so I usually do the least amount of time recommended on the steam bag. Once they are cooked drizzle with sesame seed oil, salt, pepper and sesame seeds and serve.

My sous chefs

Asian Noodles- A New Teskey Favorite

Do you ever get stressed about magazines piling up month after month? Not real stresssed more just “anxious to read them and not see the next months edition show up before you have even lifted the cover of the previous months” stressed. Personally, I feel like this a lot lately as life is busy and those lay back read a magazine days have become far and few. I finally had a quiet sleeping baby and a chance to catch up on my celebrity gossip from US Weekly, learn from  my Parenting magazine, get recipe ideas from  Cooking Light and Todays Dietitian.  While skimming Todays Dietitian I came across this great and easy vegetarian dish in their Meatless Mondays article. So three weeks ago I cooked it up for my  in-laws (aka MN mom and dad) and meat loving husband and it got passing reviews from all three. To my surprise the second time I made it our almost 2 year old tolerated the mildly spiced sauce and loved it.  This has already become a dish in our frequent rotation and will be a great go to last minute week night meal for our house.

Here are a few reasons why I loved this dish:

1. It’s vegetarian! I love having meatless meals mixed between nights we have meat and try to do this at least once a week if not more times. It is a great way to add variety in protein choices and helps keep a good balance between macronutrients and as research has shown a diet that is majority plant based can help prevent diseases (now I love meat don’t get me wrong but I don’t think it should be the only protein people think about when planning meals)

2. The veggies and noodles cook in the same pot so you only end up with three dirty dishes (a bowl for the sauce, one pot and a strainer)…yes THREE dishes TOTAL! Amazing.

3. It was EXTREMELY easy and the sauce used things that I normally have in my pantry (if you don’t have almond butter you could definitely sub peanut butter).

4. My toddler liked it. Now not sure this is a great one to have as she likes most things (or per the norm for most toddlers – will like something one day then not eat much next time you make it then devour it at a future meal)

We ate it three weeks ago and I have made it by request two more times since then which rarely happens. Once for my dad and the next time for a group of 8 (we doubled the recipe that time). There is a little kick so if you are sensitive to spice you may want to add the chili-garlic sauce after but it truly was a mild kick and our daughter was fine with it.

Here is the recipe with my adjustments/comments italicized. I do mention below that I normally double the sauce (when I doubled the recipe I just did 1.5 times the sauce) so if you plan to do that you will need double the amount of soy sauce, lime juice, brown sugar and chili-garlic sauce then what is listed below.

Asian Noodle Bowl with Spicy Almond Sauce

Serves 6

Ingredients
1/4 cup sliced almonds
3/4 lb whole wheat spaghetti
1/2 head broccoli (about 3/4 lb), tops cut into flowerets, stems peeled and sliced thinly –I did more than 1/2 a head
2 cups (about 4 oz) snow peas, trimmed – I did a little more based on what I had
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup unsalted almond butter
1/4 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
3 T fresh lime juice
2 T brown sugar
1 T chili-garlic sauce, such as Sriracha
1 scallion, green part only (about 3 T)

Directions
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

2. Toast the almonds in a dry skillet on medium heat, stirring frequently until they’re golden, about 3 minutes – IF YOU ARE IN A RUSH YOU COULD SKIP THIS STEP

3. Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package. Three minutes before the pasta is ready, add the broccoli to the pasta pot. One minute before it’s ready, add the snow peas and red peppers to the pot.

4. I DOUBLED THE QUANTITIES ABOVE WHEN I MADE THE SAUCE — While the pasta is cooking, make the sauce. Place the almond butter, soy sauce, lime juice, brown sugar, chili-garlic sauce, and 3 T of boiling water from the pasta pot into a large bowl, and whisk until smooth.

5. Drain the noodles and vegetables, return them to the pasta pot, add the sauce and toss to coat. Serve garnished with the toasted almonds and scallion greens (if the sauce turns out thick, as mine sometimes does, just add a little more water to the finished pot and mix in).

Nutrient Analysis per serving assuming no extra veggies and one batch of sauce
Calories: 410; Total fat: 16 g; Sat fat: 1.5 g; Cholesterol: 85 mg; Sodium: 460 mg; Total carbohydrates: 60 g; Dietary fiber: 17 g; Protein: 15 g

— Recipe Adapted from Ellie Krieger, RD, for the Almond Board of California.

Recipe found in Todays Dietitian Magazine 

Family Meal: Biscuit Topped Chicken Potpie

We learned at 13 months old that our daughter has a milk/dairy intolerance. She can eat yogurt but anything in addition to that ends with many diaper changes. Since this realization I’m always on the look out for new dairy free recipes since my mind always comes back to lasagna, macaroni and grilled cheese. Thanks to my recent Cooking Light I was reminded of a childhood classics to re-enter into our dinner menu rotations: chicken potpie.

This one was a biscuit-topped chicken potpie. It was DELICIOUS. Everyone in the family was a fan even mom and dad. I used Pillsbury Biscuits vs making them homemade (as I listed below) and put the chicken in the crockpot the day before so all I had to do was prepare the filling the night of which made for an easy dinner. Kids or no kids its a classic flavor that I’d recommend.

Biscuit-Topped Chicken Potpie

Adapted from Cooking Light September 2013

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon canola or olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onion (one medium onion)
  • 1 cup chopped carrot (~2-3 carrots)
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery (~1-2 stalks)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 cups low sodium chicken stock
  • 2 cups shredded cooked chicken breast (~3/4 pound chicken)
  • 1 cup frozen green peas, thawed
  • 1 (3/4-ounce) package fresh poultry blend herbs
  • One container of Biscuits (such as Pillsbury)

Directions

  1. This recipe calls for the chicken to be cooked when you prepare it. I usually put the chicken in my small crock pot with chicken broth in the morning or a day ahead. Another option would be to use a Rotisserie Chicken chopped up. Whatever you chose, make sure your chicken is cooked before moving on.
  2. Preheat oven to 425°.
  3. To prepare filling, heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrot, and celery; sauté 4 minutes. Add garlic; sauté 30 seconds. Stir flour, salt, and pepper into vegetables; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in stock; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium; simmer 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in chicken and peas; simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Remove rosemary from herb package; reserve for another use. Strip leaves from stems of remaining herbs; chop leaves to measure 2 tablespoons. Stir herbs into filling. Pour filling in a 2-quart baking dish or cast-iron skillet coated with cooking spray.
  4. Arrange the raw biscuits on top of the filling; coat with cooking spray. Bake at 425° for 35 minutes or until browned.

Curry-Rubbed Salmon

We were honored to have my Aunt Nancy visit last week and help out with our daughter. As if that wasn’t enough she decided to cook dinner for us as well. Wetook out a handful of my cookbooks the night before and browsed for a new tasty recipe. After browsing many books nothing beat out the recipes we found in one of my favorite books: Power Foods from the editors of whole living magazine.

After reviewing all our options we landed on curry-rubbed salmon with napa slaw, brown basmati rice and sauteed zucchini and red peppers.

It was delicious!! Using the broiler for the salmon kept it very moist which to me is the first key to a good piece of fish. I expected a stronger curry flavor  but it was faint (in a good way) and the slaw was the perfect pairing. The mint and lime flavors were refreshing on a cold February night and perfect with fish. I’ve been eating the leftovers all week. I’ll definitely make it again. The one change I’d make is to add an extra juiced lime to the slaw as it felt a little dry.

Basil Pepper Pesto

My husband and I love sauces, spreads and things with a kick. Now that it’s basil season that means lots of pesto. Pesto chicken paninis, pasta, sandwiches, salad dressings…you get my drift. We love pesto!! When we were up north over the fourth of July I saw a recipe for a spicy pesto that caught my eye. We made it last week and I can’t wait to make it again this week. It was AMAZING. I know I say that a lot but this truly was to die for. We ate it everyday until it was gone. Day one was grilled chicken with the pesto on top, day two paninis with pesto, day three grilled chicken club sandwiches with pesto. I even found myself sneaking in the kitchen to dip pretzels in it during the day. If you like a little spice you will love this recipe (I think I may even try a little jalapeno in it next time too to kick it up another notch). They said you can store it in your refrigerator for up to three weeks but believe me it will be long gone before you have to worry about the expiration date. I can’t wait to try it on pasta and grilled fish!!

Basil Pepper Pesto

Adapted from David Rocco’s Pesto Sauce in People Magazine

Ingredients

  • 2 cups lightly packed fresh basil leaves, washed and dried
  • 1 cup hot peppers (the original recipe calls for Serrano, I used salsa hot peppers from my garden but a mix would work as well. Now if you don’t like a big kick go with a pepper with less heat like a banana)
  • 3-4 garlic cloves
  • 1 cup sun-dried tomatoes (not oil packed)
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil

 

Directions

  1. Place the first four ingredients in a food processor fitted with steel blade. Process until well combined (but not pureed). If you don’t have a food processor you could also chop these ingredients on a cutting board and lace in a bowl
  2. Place mixture in a jar or storable container and pour in olive oil and stir.

The amazing cooks I know…

It’s been too long since I featured some of the amazing food that I eat after other peoples hard work. A few weeks ago my dear friend Amanda, who I met at work came over to visit Elena and I. Not only did she bring wine she also brought everything to cook us dinner. I was already grateful for her company and delicious food but we also had a good cribbage match (I won) and she did the dishes…talk about an amazing friend. For those of you who have moved to a city that you didn’t grow up in or go to college in you will agree it’s always fun to make new friends. I was blessed to be introduced to Ryan’s friends from growing up when we moved here and I nowcall them my best friends as well but it’s always fun when you start to make your first friends on your own. Amanda is one of those women for me. After working at Regions Hospital for about six months I had seen her a few times in medical rounds and then noticed her wearing something Badger (I can’t remember if it was her badge holder or what). As most of you know I’m a huge UW-Madison fan as I am an alum (Go Bucky!) so I struck up a conversation that likely went something like this:

Me: “Hey are you a Badger fan”

Amanda: “Yeah I went there for college”

Me: “Me too. Want to come over this weekend to watch the football game”

Amanda: “Definitely”

…the rest is history. We’ve attended Badger/Gopher basketball games together, attended an alumni event and watched football games together. She’s just as into sports as me and always up to talk about the recent game and news at work. So, over the years we have become great buds. We have much more in common than Madison such as our love for cooking, laughing, playing cribbage, gardening, etc…

Have I talked her up enough!?! Okay, well now let me show you what she made for dinner.

Amandas Ravioli with Chicken, Asparagus, Roasted Tomatoes topped with Fresh Basil Pesto

Ingredients

  • Roasted tomatoes (see recipe below)
  • Fresh basil pesto (see recipe below or you could use store bought but you would lose a lot of the fresh taste)
  • Two package of pre-made ravioli, any type (we used one mushroom, one beef)
  • 3 chicken breasts, pounded so they have a thin consistent thickness
  • Grill Mates Montreal Steak Seasoning
  • One bunch of Asparagus, washed with the ends trimmed off

Things that can be made ahead:

Roasted Tomatoes: 

Toss cherry tomatoes with a little olive oil, salt and pepper, place on a pan. Cook in the oven at 350 until the juices start to run and the tomatos are kinda of shrivelled up (~30-40 minutes)

Fresh Basil Pesto:
2 cups packed fresh basil
1/3 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup shredded parmesean
3 cloves of garlic (FYI: Amanda uses a couple more than this because she love garlic)
Salt and pepper to taste
Place all ingredients in a  a food processor, blend then slowly add 1/2 cup olive oil

Day of Directions:

  1. Fill a pot with water and bring to boil
  2. Heat grill to 400 degrees
  3. Pound out chicken until it is equal thickness throughout between 2 pieces of wax or parchment paper (You can just used a flat pan for this if you dont have a meat pounder)
  4. Season chicken with Grill Mates Monterey Steak seasoning
  5. Spray grill pan and place asparagus and chicken on the grill pan. Grill until cooked (~6-7 minutes per side)
  6. While the chicken and asparagus are cooking place ravioli in the boiling water and cook according to the directions.
  7. Once the chicken and asparagus are done, let the chicken rest, then cut into pieces
  8. Place a few ravioli onto a bowl or plate, layer with chicken, asparagus, cold roasted tomatoes top with pesto and serve.

Crop Share Cooking

As I titled my post for today I was reminded of my families favorite quote from the movie Good Morning Vietnam. What a perfect quote after our crazy hot and humid month of July with constant 90-100 degree temps + humidity.

Hey, can you tell me what’s your name? “My name is Roosevelt E. Roosevelt.” Roosevelt, what town are you stationed in? “I’m stationed in Poontang.” Well, thank you, Roosevelt. What’s the weather like out there? “It’s hot! Damn hot! Real hot! Hottest things is my shorts. I could cook things in it. A little crotch pot cooking.” Well, tell me what it feels like. “Fool, it’s hot! I told you again! Were you born on the sun? It’s damn hot! It’s so damn hot, I saw little guys, their orange robes burst into flames. It’s that hot! Do you know what I’m talking about?” What do you think it’s going to be like tonight? “It’s gonna be hot and wet! That’s nice if you’re with a lady, but ain’t no good if you’re in the jungle!” Thank you, Roosevelt.

For those of you who haven’t seen this movie I highly recommend watching it. No, I’m not crotch pot cooking today although if you don’t have air conditioning you could. Instead I’m crop share cooking! I find myself with a stash of random vegetables a week or so after our crop share drop offs. While some things like zucchini, carrots, kale, garlic, onions and many more are used within days some tend to sit in our crisper for longer periods of time and I want to fix that so I went looking for recipes with kohlrabi, swiss chard and garlic scapes that would make it into our regular rotation. My first experiment was pesto. I’ve heard of garlic scape pestos and swiss chard pestos so I figured I’d try to make my own combined variation. I love how it turned out. A strong garlic flavor with the perfect note of lemon and a small spicy taste. The swiss chard is subtle since it was blanched ahead (which is good this means my husband will like it). Another addition to this could be 1/4 cup of walnuts. This pesto will be perfect for a spread on sandwiches/paninis or as a sauce over pasta or grilled chicken breasts.

Garlic Scape and Swiss Chard Pesto

Ingredients 

  • 3 garlic scapes
  • 1 bunch swiss chard leaves (remove from stems and use leaves only)
  • 1 lemon juiced
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup olive oil

Directions

  1. Pull swiss chard off stems and blanch in boiling water for one minute
  2. Strain and squeeze out water
  3. Put the chard, garlic scapes, walnuts, lemon, salt, pepper and crushed red pepper in food processor and blend until smooth.
  4. Slowly pour olive oil in through the top hole of your food processor while it is on. Blend until oil is immersed
  5. Serve with cooked pasta, as a sauce over grilled chicken breasts or spread onto sandwiches or paninis.

My next challenge was to find a way to cook kohlrabi that makes me want to come back for more. When I came across this recipe in the New York Times I knew it was my last opportunity to fall in love with this vegetable. If I don’t love it as a fry when will I love it?

Kohlrabi Home Fries  

I do realize this isn’t the healthiest way to cook kohlrabi but it is a great swap out for french fries (richer in Vitamin C, B vitamins, fiber and less calories) and they were delicious. I’m serious, delicious! You really don’t need much oil to cook them (i’d err on the light side with 2 Tbsp vs 4) since the kohlrabi doesn’t absorb much. I will definitely be making these again and can’t wait to feed them to my husband. I chose to do half chili powder and half cumin seasoned. I think next time I’ll make a southwest dipping sauce out of light sour cream to go with them! YUMMY.

Ode to Quinoa

It’s time I pay respect to one of my favorite grains. You may be asking why we need to pay respect to a food…well, here’s why. One it’s a whole grain. Two, it’s a complete protein. Three, it’s gluten free so can accomodate many diets and four, it’s quick and easy to make. Who doesn’t love that. A half cup serving contains ~110 calories, 2.5 grams fiber and 4 grams of protein. I frequently cook quinoa and add any combination of herbs and vegetables to it which is how the stuffed portabella mushroom recipe was created. I’ll put how I made it below but feel free to vary it. The recipe is a great way to make two meals from one dish. I made the quinoa as a side to our dinner Monday and then two days later used it up by stuffing these mushrooms. The second recipe I have been eyeing up ever since I saw the picture of it on pinterest. The fact that it has quinoa, lemon, avocado and cilantro made me know it would taste just as amazing as I had imagined. I will definitely make this one again and I also plan to keep mushrooms around for stuffing when I’m back at work!

Quinoa stuffed Portabella Mushrooms

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cup quinoa
  • A large handful of fresh cilantro
  • 5 green onions
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 6 portabella mushrooms
  • 2-4 ounces of goat cheese

Directions

  1. Heat 3 cups of water with 1 ½ cups of quinoa until boiling (if you are stuffing the peppers the same day you should also preheat the oven to 375 degrees)
  2. Cover and reduce heat to low and cook until the liquid is absorbed (~15 minutes)
  3. Chop a large handful of cilantro and 4 to 5 green onions and add to the quinoa
  4. Season with salt, pepper and a dash of crushed red pepper
  5. Wash the portabella mushrooms and pull the stems out of each of them and set them in a baking dish
  6. Scoop quinoa mixture into portabella mushrooms and top with goat cheese
  7. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until mushrooms are tender. 

Lemony Quinoa and Avocado Salad

I followed a recipe from pinterest: Quinoa and Avocado Salad with Lemon Tahini Dressing with a few changes. I listed how I cooked it below. This can be made in advance with the avocado added right before serving. If served as a side like we did it would serve 5-6.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
  • ¼ cup green onions or chives, diced
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lemon juiced (~1/4 cup)
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • Dash of salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Heat 1 cup of water with ½ cups of quinoa until boiling
  2. Cover and reduce heat to low and cook until the liquid is absorbed (~15 minutes)
  3. While the quinoa cooks prep your ad ins and dressing: chop your bell pepper, cilantro and green onions and place in a medium bowl
  4. To make dressing whisk together the tahini, olive oil, garlic and lemon juice
  5. Once quinoa is cooked add it to the bowl with the chopped red bell pepper, cilantro and green onions. Pour dressing on top and toss (THIS CAN ALL BE DONE A DAY IN ADVANCE)
  6. Chop and add the avocado to the quinoa prior to serving and top with a dash of salt and pepper.
  7. Serve cold

Tilapia a la Veracruz

There are so many joys to motherhood and maternity leave. Besides all the amazing cuddles, coos and fun Elena shares with me on a daily basis I’ve also been blessed to have a lot of my family who live out of town visit. In addition, Elena must know that her mommy loves to cook because she usually takes a long nap or enjoys kicking her legs on her mat which gives me free time in the kitchen. This past week my cousin Maddi was able to come over to meet Elena and join us for dinner. Knowing she is a pesce-vegetarian I wanted to cook fish but with a new twist. Thanks to my husband I had a great recipe cut out for a mexican style fish from his Mens Health magazine. The original recipe calls for snapper but since my grocery store didn’t have snapper I made it with tilapia. Truly, I think any white fish would work great in this recipe. Also, the original recipe has you grill the fish in tinfoil packets but with the rain we decided to bake them instead.

There were many things that I loved about this recipe. First, it was super easy and quick to prepare which will be great for when I’m back at work (It took less than 30 minutes). Also, most of the things it calls for are things I have on hand in my pantry or in my garden. Lastly, and most importantly, all three of us thought it was delicious. The cooked tomatoes, lime juice and cilantro gave it a fresh flavor that mixed great with the hint of salt you tast from the olives and capers. We forgot to add the jalapenos but I would imagine the spice would just enhance the dish. I can’t wait to try them in it next time.

Tilapia a la Veracruz

Recipe adapted from Mens Health June 2012’s Snapper a la Veracruz recipe

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup pitted chopped green olives
  • 2 Tbsp capers
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes (keep these whole)
  • 1 handful fresh cilantro roughly chopped (you could also use parsley here if you had that instead)
  • Juice from one lime
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Fresh or pickled jalapenos chopped (this is optional and we actual forgot to add them in but next time I will make sure to use them as we love spice)
  • Four 4-6 ounce white fish filets (snapper, tilapia, cod, halibut, etc…)

Directions:

  1. Heat grill to medium or preheat the oven to 425
  2. In a small bowl combine the olives, capers, cherry tomatoes, cilantro, lime juice, olive oil and jalapenos.
  3. If you are cooking them on the grill take out four pieces of aluminum foil that will be large enough to fold over your fish. Place a piece of fish in the center, season with salt and top with 1/4 of the salsa mixture. Now fold the foil over so the fish is completely covered. Roll the edges tightly to seal the package. Place the packets on the grill (grill should max out at 450) and cook until the fish is done and flaky (~8-10 minutes)
  4. If you are using the oven take out a 8 x 11 pan and line it with aluminum foil. Place the four fish filets on top of the foil, lightly salt them then top each filet with 1/4 of the salsa mixture. Place the pan in the oven and cook for ~10-12 minutes or until the fish flakes.

Spicy Korean BBQ Chicken

Day twelve of being a mom and so far I love it. Things thus far have gone relatively smooth and I’ve been able to occasionally cook. I even have a new number #1 fan who already joins me in the kitchen (see picture below). I think she’s going to love cooking just liker her mama. 

For my first post in awhile I didn’t know where to begin with new recipes…the last month of pregnancy my stack of recipes to make got overwhelmingly big. Since I’ve been away from posting in awhile I wanted to make sure my first post back was dynamite so I chose a recipe my husband gave me from Men’s Health for our barbecue with my parents and Ryan’s parents. The recipe is from the executive chef of Momofuku David Chang. Having eaten his food before in New York (and knowing my cousins husband works at his restaurant) I knew this would be a delicious recipe and we were right. This chicken was absolutely dynamite. I HIGHLY recommend making it this summer. It was a fun new flavor for grilling chicken. The chicken thighs were extremely tender and the slight kick with Korean flavor was addicting. This is a recipe I will definitely be using again soon!

Spicy Korean BBQ Chicken 

Recipe from Executive Chef David Chang featured in Men’s Health Magazine

Ingredients

  • 8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
  • 2 Tbsp sriracha hot sauce
  • 2 Tbsp grapeseed oil (I used canola oil instead)
  • 1/2 cup apple juice
  • 1Tbsp honey
  • 1 Tbsp korean miso or white japanese miso
  • 1 Tbsp minced ginger (I grated mine in)
  • 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup chopped scallions

Directions

  1. Place the chicken thighs in a large resealable bag.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together the oil, apple juice, honey, miso, ginger, garlic and salt. Add 1 cup of water and mix thoroughly. Next, mix in the onion and scallions.
  3. Pour half the marinade mixture into the plastic bag with the chicken, seal and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to a day. (Note: I would only pour enough to cover the chicken and save the rest to make the sauce after as the topping sauce was delicious)
  4. Refrigerate the remaining marinade in a small covered saucepan
  5. When it’s time to eat place the saucepan of reserved marinade on medium heat and simmer until the mixture is thickened and saucelike, about 20 minutes
  6. Take the chicken out, brush a grill pan with oil and set the heat to medium high. When the grill is hot place the thighs on and cook until the undersides have charred grill marks (about 5 minute).
  7. Flip the thighs and cook until a meat thermometer inserted in the middle reads 165 degrees (about 5 more minutes). Let them rest for 2-3 minutes.
  8. Serve  chicken with the sauce on top (it’s recommended to serve with white rice and grilled vegetables such as scallions, mushrooms or bok choy…we  served it with grilled zucchini, eggplant and corn)


Miso-Ginger Salmon with Sesame Green Beans and Rice Pilaf

As my husband and I near my due date (12 days and counting) we don’t have many weekend plans. After an early night on Friday and nothing planned Saturday we decided to see if some friends wanted to come over for dinner. While we love down time we have had a lot lately so we figured why not host a little dinner gathering with Ryan’s best friends from high school. I was excited to have company since I’ve had a recipe for miso-ginger salmon from a friend I’ve been dying to have again and feature on my blog. To stick with the theme I decided to use other Asian flavors in my side dishes.

The original salmon recipe is a Bobby Flay recipe called Miso-Ginger Marinated Grilled Salmon. Since it’s 46 degrees today I decided to bake it vs make Ryan stand in the cold to grill.  I also subbed low sodium chicken broth for mirin as the recipe calls for.

As for the complete meal…My favorite things to eat with salmon are brown rice and green beans (with a close tie for asparagus). To make it fit with my Asian themed dinner I sauteed the green beans with sesame oil then topped them with sesame seeds, salt and pepper. For our starch I made rice pilaf the way my mom taught me. This rice is a staple in our household and can be varied with herbs or vegetables for different flavors.

Miso-Ginger Salmon

Adapted from Bobby Flay’s recipe Miso-Ginger Marinated Grilled Salmon

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup white miso paste
  • 1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup grated fresh ginger
  • 1/4 cup sesame oil
  • 8 salmon filets

Directions

  1. Whisk the first six ingredients together in a small to medium bowl. This will make a lot of marinade and could coat up to 8 fillets. It can be cut in half if you are just making 4 salmon fillets
  2. Place the salmon filets in a glass container that will fit in your fridge and pour the marinade over. Cover and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes (this can be done the day before if you want them to set overnight for more flavor too). I marinaded mine for 2-3 hours
  3. When you are ready to cook the salmon put in a glass dish (or you can do what I did and use a shallow glass dish to marinade then you can use that to bake them). My husband and I love sauce so we actually left most of the marinade in the dish when baking to give more flavor and keep it moist.
  4. Cover and Bake at 375 for ~35-40 minutes.

Sesame Green Beans

This recipe is very easy and measurements are flexible based on how many green beans you’re cooking. Heat a large saute pan to medium, lightly spray with cooking spray. Add green beans and let cook 4-5 minutes. Now, add 1-2 Tbsp Sesame oil and cover the pan to finish the cooking (use more or less based on how many green beans you have, you want them lightly coated). Cook for 5-10 more minutes depending on how crispy you like them. I like mine to have a crunch still so I only cooked them for a total of 10 or 12 minutes. Turn heat off and sprinkle with salt, pepper and sesame seeds.

Whole Grain Rice Pilaf

Ingredients

  • 1/2 stick Butter
  • 1/2 to 1 onion, diced (the amount you add is flexible)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • A handful of spaghetti noodles, broken to ~1.5-2 inch pieces (~1/2 cup)
  • 2 1/2 cups Whole Grain Rice (I usually use Jasmine)
  • 5 cups Low sodium chicken broth
  • salt and pepper to season per taste

Directions

  1. Melt Butter in a sauce pan and add onion, garlic and noodles and cook until onions are translucent
  2. Add rice and chicken broth. Bring to a boil then cover and reduce heat to low and cook for 4o minutes
  3. Season with salt and pepper as desired

Chicken Salad

There is nothing I love more than to make a salad that I can enjoy for dinner and pack for lunches the next few days. With fresh bought pita pockets and organic chicken in the freezer I thought what better than to make chicken salad. I wasn’t interested in traditional chicken salad and while I love chicken salad with grapes and pineapple I decided to try a new spin tonight, a Mediterranean version. I was very pleased with the result and am looking forward to having them for lunch again tomorrow. The recipe has a slight kick from the crushed red peppers, some crunch from the bell pepper,a salty flavor from the olives and the dressing is light with a citrus tang flavor. A definite repeat recipe.

Chicken Salad Pita Pockets

Adapted from Cooking Light’s Mediterranean Chicken Salad Pitas

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup plain no fat Greek yogurt
  • the juice from one lemon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp crushed red pepper (I did 1/2 tsp since we like spice and it gave it a nice kick but if you don’t like spice I’d do 1/4 tsp)
  • 3 to 3 1/2 cups cooked chicken, diced (I diced the chicken raw and sauteed it to cook it quickly)
  • 1 larger red pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped olives (I did kalamata but green would work too)
  • 1/3 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 (15 ounce) can of low sodium chick peas, rinsed
  • Dash of salt and pepper
  • Pitas cut in half
  • Tomato slices
  • Lettuce

Directions:

  1. Combine first four ingredients in a bowl and set aside
  2. In a separate bowl combine the cooked chicken, olives, cilantro and chick peas.
  3. Now add the yogurt to the chicken mixture and sprinkle with salt and pepper .
  4. Stuff the pita halves with sliced tomatoes, lettuce and chicken salad and serve.

IMG_1733

A thanks to the creator…

How do you say thanks to a dear friend who graciously created your website for you. Well, for me the answer was easy, have her over for dinner. While she’s the website and design expert, I can be the dinner chef. Kristen has been an amazing friend to me over the years. We grew up in Racine together and became closer as we got older and am so blessed that she lives in the Twin Cities with me. She’s an amazing freelance web designer and developer among many other thing (card player, friend, listener, happy hour mate, pedal pub participant, etc…). The past two months in her small window of free time she has taken on the task of upgrading me from my blog into a website, which would have taken me over a year with many flip out tantrums. I highly recommend checking out her website to see some of her work and get more information. I also encourage all my readers to browse the new site to see all the new and improved upgrades!

Ever since Ryan and I had a date night at Mill Valley Kitchen I’ve been craving their wild mushroom farro risotto. Since, Kristen’s a vegetarian and a fellow mushroom lover it seemed like the perfect time to try this out on my own and low and behold my favorite source, Cooking Light, had a recipe.

Farro Risotto with Mushrooms

I ventured to Whole Foods as I knew they would have some of the more obscure ingredients like mushroom broth. I also found they have an array of dried mushrooms to choose from. After much debate I went with shiitake, partially because I wasn’t familiar with some of the varieties and partially because I love shiitake mushrooms. I must forewarn all readers who plan to make this that soaking them in boiling water as the recipe states, did give a rather unpleasant smell, but know that it’s subtle and worth it as they gave a delicious flavor in the dish.

Another tip to readers. Farro, like most grains should be soaked before using. This is important to help rinse the grain and also, to politely say this, make it “more comfortable” to digest. Mine only soaked for 2 hours since I was making the dish the same night I bought the farro. If you know you are going to make it in advance I recommend soaking the farro overnight.

To finish our meal I paired our risotto with a salad of mixed greens, dried cherries, avocado, feta and poppyseed dressing then we finished our meal with a mini cheesecake and cannoli from Whole Foods. This was the perfect meal to make while Kristen was hard at work since it called for 30-40 minutes of stirring. It gave her time to do her web designing while I stayed out of the way. Our overall consensus was a double thumbs up on to the dish. I would definitely make it again for any risotto or mushroom lover or vegetarian foodie and Kristen anytime you’re craving it again you knows who to call.

Once again, a huge thank you to my dear friend Kristen Angel for all her amazing work on the site. I hope you enjoy the new look and upgraded features. Let us know what you think!

Food of the Month

Cheese, Cheese, Cheese!

If you’re saying to yourself, why cheese? Well, for one, the packers are on a nice winning streak and I’m a proud cheese head and two, because the holidays make me think of delicious cheese dishes and plates.

I started my food of the month off a few days behind but with a great entrance.

Barefoot Contessa’s Mac & Cheese

This was a great dish for a Sunday afternoon. I made mine with Trader Joe’s organic vegetable radiatore noodles and I split my milk (1/2 skim milk and 1/2 2% lactaid milk). I also used a gruyere/swiss mix instead of straight gruyere cheese and it was delicious. Also, I only had whole wheat bread so I used this to make the bread crumbs. Lastly, and this was my mistake, I added 3/4 Tbsp instead of 1/2 tsp of nutmeg but we all liked it. I think I would do a 1/2 Tbsp if I made it again.

From a nutrition standpoint for macaroni and cheese I would classify this one in the middle. It’s not a low fat recipe but it also isn’t an insane recipe with cream and extra pounds of cheese. You could always cut back on how much cheese you add if you want to lighten it up even more.  I found it to be a nice balance that can be paired with some veggies or a side salad to round out the meal.

Another one of my favorite recipes for the holiday season to bring as an appetizer is the

Pesto Cheese Blossom from The Food Network

To make this healthier I always use fat free cream cheese.  You mix the cream cheese with garlic so it will still have a good flavor. I opt out of adding the pistachios since I’m not a big fan of them but I know others who have made this with them. I’ve brought this to a work party, friends party and made it for family and everyone loves it. Plus you can make it the day ahead and it’s Christmas colors.

It’s hard to talk about cheese and not talk about serving sizes. Cheese, in the right portion size is a great source of calcium but it is often over ate. Since it is made from milk it is higher in fat so it’s important to note how much you are eating. I would stick to 1- 1.5 ounces per serving. This looks like 6 dice and while that seems like a lot of plain cheese it adds up quickly when cheese is added to things like pizza, nachos, macaroni and cheese, etc…

Another thing to note is some cheese are a little lower in fat than others. For example, feta, provolone, mozzarella and swiss cheese have less natural fat than cheddar and havarti cheese. Another great cheese is Laughing Cow, who make a great portioned swiss cheese with 50 calories per wedge plus a light version that comes in multiple flavors for only 35 calories per wedge. It is a great substitution for cream cheese or to spread on sandwiches. Another way to cut back on the fat in cheese is to choose ones made with 2% milk. They will have less fat without sacrificing taste and texture like some fat free cheeses do.

Fighting Fruit Fatigue

You may remember I talked about fruit fatigue at the beginning of the month in my choose cherries post. Well today I discussed ways to fight fruit fatigue on Twin Cities Live. Try new ways to to eat fruit instead of only eating apples, bananas, oranges and watermelon. Many fruits are available year round in dried, juice, frozen or canned forms. The recommended amount of fruit for adults is 1-2 cups per day. Only one if 5 Americans are getting enough fruit each day, are you? I hope so and if not read on for some great ways to increase your fruit intake for a long, healthy life.

I showed viewers ways to cook with dried cherries, tart cherry juice, pears, grapefruits and grapefruit juice! I was also lucky enough to be accompanied by my cousin Jess who took so many lovely pictures during the segment.  Check out the finished dishes below (recipes linked at the bottom). I highly recommend the cherry chili for a delicious warm winter dish, the smoothie for breakfast or a snack, the baked brie as a Christmas party appetizer, the salad as a dinner party starter, the grapefruit slaw served with tilapia or cod and the ginger grapefruit spritzer as a party cocktail!

Prepping the food before the show
Cherry Chili and the Yogurt Cherry Smoothie ingredients ready to make live
Candied Walnut, Pear and Leafy Green Salad and Baked Brie en Crout with Pears
Grapefruit Slaw and Ginger Grapefruit Spritzers
 

Twin Cities Live Segment: Fruit Fatigue Link

Recipe Links

Cherry Chili
Cherry Yogurt Smoothie
Candied Walnut, Pear and Leafy Green Salad – try topping with goat cheese
Brie en Croute with Pears – I used croissants in place of the frozen pastry puff
Grapefruit Slaw – I topped it with grated fresh ginger
Ginger Grapefruit Spritzer

The amazing cooks I know…

This month I want to feature another amazing cook I know; my best friend Rachel.
You’ve probably heard me talk about Rachel before as she is one of the three women who inspired me to love cooking (her, my mom and my Aunt Nancy). Rachel has always been great at baking and trying fun new recipes. We both are Cooking Light addicts so it’s fun to hear what she makes out of the magazine each month and what I chose to make. Often times there is some overlap as we seem to have the same taste. She is also the proud mother to a new gorgeous baby girl, Alexis. Alexis is the luckiest girl in the world as she will always have delicious lunches that her friends will be jealous of.

I asked Rachel to think of a recipe she makes a lot to feature on the blog and she thought of the perfect dish; jambalaya. This is great for two reasons. One, I can think of multiple times I’ve been on the phone with Rachel as she makes this and two, I don’t eat shellfish so my blog is lacking great recipes with shrimp. What better recipe to make on a cold evening than this flavorful, spicy dish. My mom has already said she can’t wait to make this recipe! Enjoy!!!

Jambalaya with Shrimp and Andouille Sausage (click on the title to bring you to the recipe)
Source: Cooking Light April 2005

You know you’ve become an expert at a recipe when you have your to do adjustments. Here are Rachel’s recommended adjustments after many preparations.
-Double the Shrimp and Sausage
-Use a little extra of all the spices. If you’re nervous just do a few extra shakes of each
-Add Rotisserie Chicken

Serve with cornbread

Choose Cherries

Fall is upon us which means colder weather, falling leaves and for many back to the routine cold weather fruits. Nearly half of the fruit Americans eat are from oranges, bananas, apples and watermelon alone. While I love all four of those I also find myself searching for more variety and trying to avoid the dreaded fruit fatigue. Whether your 20, 30, 80 or a small child, we can all benefit from fruit so don’t let your intake go down this winter because of boredom! Only one in five Americans currently reaches their recommended intake of fruit each day (1-2 cups). One easy way to increase your intake is to try new fruit and recipes and fight off fruit fatigue. That’s why November’s food of the month is tart cherries.

Cherries are known as a super fruit for their powerful antioxidant properties that help reduce inflammation and in turn may help decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease or decrease the symptoms of arthritis. They are also a great source of potassium and recent research shows they may relieve muscle pain for active adults.

It’s no surprise that eighty-seven percent of Americans put taste as their number one consideration when purchasing food. Cherries sweet, tart and juicy flavor will keep you coming back for more. Another plus for cherries are the many forms available year round (fresh, frozen or dried) making it easy to add them to your daily intake. They’re also a great fruit for the holiday season; their bold red color can brighten any dish and add flavor to meats, stuffings, sides and desserts.

To start out this month I made a new cherry smoothie recipe from Choose Cherries. I really enjoyed the hint of cinnamon mixed with the sweet honey and tart cherries.

Cherry Berry Smoothie

Ingredients

1/2 cup frozen tart cherries, pitted
1/2 cup 1% low fat milk
1/4 cup plain lowfat yogurt
2 tablespoons fresh blueberries
1 tablespoon cherry juice concentrate
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Sprinkle of cinnamon (optional)
8 ice cubes

Garnish

1 tablespoon slivered toasted almonds
1 tablespoon chopped dried tart cherries

Directions


Blend all ingredients in blender until smooth. Pour into two chilled glasses
Another one of my favorite ways to eat cherries is in a pork dish my mother in law makes. If you like savory with a touch of sweet I highly recommend trying this recipe.

Pork Roast Tenderloin with Dried Cherries and Rosemary

Serves 6
Source: The Foster’s Market Cookbook by Sara Foster 

Ingredients

Two 1-pound pork tenderloins
½ cup dried cherries
1/3 cup dry red wine
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
¾ cup good-quality, all-natural cranberry juice
4 garlic cloves, minced
6 shallots, cut in half lengthwise
3 tablespoons fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Directions

1. Rinse the pork loin, pat dry, and place in a shallow glass or ceramic baking dish.  Set aside.
2. Whisk together the cherries, wine, vinegar, cranberry juice, shallots, and rosemary in a bowl.  Pour this mixture over the pork, cover, and refrigerate 2 to 3 hours or overnight, turning the pork several times.
 3. Heat the olive oil in a large, ovenproof skillet over medium heat.  Remove the pork from the marinade (reserve the marinade) and place the pork in the heated skillet.  Cook the pork on all sides, 5 to 6 minutes total time, until light brown.   (I browned in my electric skillet then transferred to a baking dish).
 4. Pour the reserved marinade over the pork and place the skillet (or baking dish) in the oven.  Roast, basting several times, 20 to 25 minutes or until a meat thermometer registers 150 to 155 degrees.  The meat will be a very light pink color.  (NOTE:  The pork will continue cooking after it is removed from the oven).
 5. Remove the pork from the baking dish and place on a grooved carving board.  Cover the pork loosely and let it rest 5 to 10 minutes before carving.
 6. Season with salt and pepper.  Slice into ¼-inch pieces and spoon the pan juices over the pork.  Serve immediately.
I’m also really excited to try Cooking Light‘s Wild Rice Stuffing with Dried Cherries and Toasted Pecans from the November 2011 issue.
For more information and numerous great cherry recipes go Choose Cherries

Crop Share Box #8

What this Box Contained

Cucumbers, Italian Garlic, Summer Squash, Sweet Spanish Onions, Sweet Corn, Watermelon, Melons, Arugula, Edamame, Tomatoes, Red Grape Tomatoes, Orange or Red Ukraine Peppers, Roaster Peppers, Corn, Eggplant, Basil, Potatoes
Pictured Above
From Front Left to Right: Red Grape Tomatoes, Eggplant, Roaster Peppers, Potatoes, Basil
From Back Left to Right:  Edamame, Cucumber, Tomatoes, Arugula, Summer Squash, Orange Ukraine Pepper, Cantaloupe, Corn

New Recipes & Meals I Made

Crop Share Chopped Side Salad

Rating: Sina: 4
Chopped Romaine lettuce, tomatoes, corn off the cob, chick peas, cucumbers and homemade mustard vinaigrette

Omelets for dinner

Swiss cheese, tomato, pepper, spinach and zucchini omelettes with a side of tomatoes with basil and cooked zucchini.

Jicama Cole Slaw and Fish Tacos (see bottom of post for recipe)

These are my favorite fish tacos. I got the idea of making a jicama cole slaw for the top of fish tacos from a restaurant in town called Chino Latinos. The roasted red pepper sauce is also a great touch. You can also add shredded lettuce or cheese to the tacos but we ate them with just the fish, jicama slaw and sauce. I’m disappointed at how they look in this picture because they taste much better than that! Also, I added cherry tomatoes to the slaw this time since I wanted to use them up.
Ratings: Sina: 4, Ryan: 4

Breakfast sandwiches with arugula, tomato, pecorino cheese and an egg on an English muffin.

Potato and Swiss Chard Gratin

The original recipe is from Smitten kitchen and posted on my holiday blog from last year when we made it the correct way (with sweet potatoes). Since I had swiss chard in the garden and extra garlic and scallions I figured I’d make it with my crop share potatoes from the last box and this box
Ratings: Sina: 4 (delicious but not as good as when you make it with sweet potatoes)

Sina’s Fish Tacos (a combination of three recipes)

Baja Fish Tacos

Recipe from Baja Fish Tacos on myrecipes.com
3-4 tbsp taco seasoning
2 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp orange juice
2 pounds tilapia or mahi-mahi
Flour or corn tortillas
Avocado slices
1 lime: wedged
Directions
1. Combine first 2 ingredients in a medium bowl. Add fish; toss to coat.
2. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add fish; sautee 5 minutes or until fish is done
3. Warm tortillas according to package directions.
I then Served the fish tacos with the jicama slaw, avocados, sauce and have people add what they like.

Roasted Red Pepper and Cucumber Yogurt Sauce

Recipe from Mediterranean fish tacos courtesy Rachel ray, 2008
2 roasted red peppers, patted dry
1 cup fat free yogurt
½ tsp ground cumin
¼ cucumber, peeled and grated
Directions: Combine red peppers and yogurt in food processor. Add cumin, 1 clove garlic, zest and juice of ½ lemon, cucumber and process until smooth, transfer to a bowl.
Add to the top of the fish tacos

Jicama Cole Slaw

Recipe from Jicama Slaw courtesy Emeril Lagasse
1 cup fat free yogurt
3 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp cider vinegar
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp chopped cilantro leaves
1 tsp ground cumin1 tsp salt
½ tsp ground black pepper
3 cups shredded or julienned jicama
½ bunch green onions, sliced thinly on the bias
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
Directions: (great side with the fish tacos or you can put it on your tacos)
1. Combine the yogurt, lime juice, cider vinegar, sugar, cilantro, cumin, salt and peppers and whisk to combine. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to allow flavors to develop
2. When ready to serve, combine the jicama, green onions, and red bell peppers in a large bowl and add the dressing. Toss gently but thoroughly to combine. Season with additional salt and pepper, if necessary. Serve immediately

Food of the Month

I just returned from an eight day trip in the Pacific north west and Canada and while part of September is over it’s still not to late to enjoy this months food. Peppers! They come in many shapes, sizes, colors and spice levels.

The Scoville Heat Scale is a great way to see what level of pepper is best for you.

To start the celebration of the food of the month I made Un-Stuffed Peppers. You may be asking why I made the recipe “unstuffed.” It came down to the size of my peppers. I was planning to make stuffed peppers for dinner but all the peppers I wanted to stuff were too small to fit much filling so instead I mixed all the things you would put in a stuffed pepper together in a dish and baked it. I am eating this dish as I type my blog post and OMG it’s AMAZING! Every year when I make stuffed peppers I just use up what I have in my fridge and that is what this recipe was but the flavors came together perfect. The pepper mix was perfect since my husband and I like a small kick in our dishes.  This is a great dish that we will definitely have again!

“UN-Stuffed” Peppers

Ingredients

  • 2 cups brown rice (cook according to instructions. I did 2 cups of brown rice with 4 cups chicken stock)
  • You could use any combination of peppers. Here is what I used: 7 small Bell Peppers, 1 Banana Pepper, 1 Jalapeno (without seeds), 1 unknown hot pepper from crop share (the dark green one), diced
  • 2 shallots, diced
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, diced
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp Italian Parsley, chopped
  • 3 chicken sausages, cut into slices (you could also sub boca crumbles here for a vegetarian dish)
  • 1 small zucchini (or in my case it was 1/3 of a large one)
  • 2 ears of corn, cook and add only the kernels
  • 2 ounce of cheese (any type of shredded or diced cheese will work)

Directions

  • Cook rice according to directions
  • Stir all ingredients in a big bowl with the cooked rice and mix
  • Grease a 9 x 11 pan and pile ingredients in.
  • Bake at 400 for ~35-40 minutes
Garden Peppers

Unstuffed Peppers – prebaking


…just went and got seconds…time to go.The beauty of this dish is it’s flexibility. Don’t have one of the ingredients or want to add another vegetable, go for it.

Philly Cheese Steaks

My husband was reading the USA Weekend insert in the paper back in June and found a “Father’s Day” recipe for Philly Cheese Steak that he cut out for me to make. I was thankful that he contributed a recipe since I’m always asking him what he wants to eat but I was also eating my words because I’ve gotten used to being the meal chooser. I’ve never enjoyed Philly cheese steaks in the past because I find the meat chewy and the sandwich overfilled with cheese so I put off making them until July. This past weekend we enjoyed our first summer weekend at home just the two of us and I wanted to make Ryan something I knew he’d love. I went to the store without my recipe so asked the butcher what cut of meat would work best for Philly Cheese Steaks.  He gave me a few options but said a New York Strip Steak is by far the best for Philly sandwiches so that’s what I bought, a 1 pound New York Strip.

Philly Cheese Steaks

I followed USA Weekends (June 10-12,2011 edition) recipe for the marinade and I let the steak soak in it for an hour before starting up the grill. From there I decided to make my own variation since this recipe called for jarred fried peppers and I had fresh peppers from the garden.

Marinade

Mix: 1 Tbs olive oil, 2 Tbsp A1 steak sauce, 1 Tbsp soy sauce, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp paprika, 1 tsp coarsely ground black pepper.

Direction

  • Make the Meat Marinade and let steaks sit in the refrigerator in the marinade for ~ 1 hour
  • Warm the grill to medium high
  • Slice one sweet onion, 1 green bell pepper and 1 large banana pepper.
  • Toss the vegetables with a small amount of olive oil.
  • Place the steak and veggies on a grill plate and grill (Our piece of steak was very thick so I ended up cooking it about 5-6 minutes on each side and I kept the veggies on that whole time. Be careful not to overcook the steak and remember it will keep cooking once you remove it from the grill. Our steak turned out medium which is exactly how we like it).
  • Once your steak is cooked to your liking and the veggies look done remove the steak and veggies from the grill.
  • Thinly slice the steak.
  • Now, the good part. Drizzle two hoagies or brat buns with olive oil and red wine vinegar.
  • Place on grill to toast for 2-3 minutes.
  • Remove, layer on steak and veggies and top with a slice of swiss or provolone cheese (we used swiss).
  • Place back on the grill until the cheese melts.

Serve immediately.

*Side Note: our deli cuts cheese into 1/2 ounce slices so I used two slices per sandwich which = 1 serving of cheese per sandwich.

Honestly, I wasn’t even expecting to like these but I was so surprised because I loved them. I loved the vinegar taste on the bun and the sharp cheese taste over the mix of hot and mild peppers and perfectly seasoned and cooked steak. Definitely a recipe I will be making in again in the future and one I highly recommend for any meat lovers or steak skeptics! It was very easy to prep and perfect for hot days when you don’t want to use the oven. My picture doesn’t even do it justice since I didn’t remember to take my camera out until the colorful veggies were topped with cheese.

Ratings

Sina: 5, Ryan: 5

philly cheese steaks

Food of the Month

I picked my first tomato from my garden last week and was so overtly excited that it’s officially tomato season. While farmers markets and other gardens have had tomatoes fresh for most of July mine are just coming into bloom. Since starting the food of the month I have anticipated using tomatoes and now the time has come! I am so obsessed with tomatoes I don’t even know how to start and can’t even imagine typing all the recipes I have using fresh tomatoes. For one most of the dishes don’t have recipes. Fresh salsa, marinara sauce and tomato soup are things I just whip up and taste as I go. I’m so excited that I have 12 tomato plants this year. I know I’ll have no issue using them and I may even get fancy and try canning some of my salsa and sauce or make homemade tomato juice!

First thing first I want to try to answer a common question that arises.

Are tomatoes a fruit or a vegetable?

This is an ongoing debate and depends on who you ask. Botanists would say they are a fruit because botanically they grow like fruits but the United States Department of Agriculture, horticulturists and most dietitians classify it as a vegetable. I’m not sure how accurate this is but I read this statement online today (also showing the debate has been going on for centuries): “On May 10, 1893, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the tomato is a vegetable and, as such, is subject to import taxes under the United States Tariff Act of 1883.

What’s in a tomato?

One medium sized tomato (3” diameter) has ~ 30-35 calories and is a rich source of Vitamin A and Vitamin C. Tomatoes also contain an antioxidant called lycopene which has been studied for it’s cancer fighting properties. Lycopene protects our cells from oxygen damage which can help white blood cells and may also help prevent heart disease.

Now how to use them. Well if you’re like me then you’ll pick ’em, slice ’em and top them with a dash of salt and pepper or olive oil and balsamic vinegar (I can eat a few tomatoes at a time when they’re in season).
And last but not least…a few great tomato recipes worth listing…

Summer Tomato, Mozzarella and Basil Panini with Balsamic Syrup:

Cooking Light-August 2011
I made these sandwiches for my mom and I when she was in town. While I’ve made MANY caprese panini’s with basil, tomatoes and fresh mozzarella this one was by far the best. The determining factor was balsamic reduction.
Rating: Sina: 5, Becca (my mom): 5
          

Tomato Bruschetta

Ingredients

Writer’s Note: I don’t use a recipe when I make bruschetta but here is the gist, measurements may vary a little

  • French or Italian Bread
  • 2-4 tomatoes diced
  • 1-2 Tbsp olive oil
  • ~1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar  (reduced balsamic vinegar also works)
  • 12-20 basil leaves diced (I like a lot)
  • dash of salt and pepper
  • Fresh grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

Slice bread and toast in the oven on broil
Mix tomatoes, olive oil, vinegar and basil and layer on top of bread slices. Sprinkle each with salt and pepper. Grate Parmesan on top and serve immediately. You can always prepare the topping ahead of time and assemble them on bread later if you are bringing it to a party.
Rating: Sina: 5, Ryan: 4.5

Caprese Salad

Slice tomato and fresh buffalo mozzarella cheese and layer every other. Sprinkle with cut up basil and drizzle with olive oil, balsamic, salt and pepper and serve
Rating: Sina: 5, Ryan: 4.5

Crop Share Box # 4 and 6

If you’re wondering why I haven’t posted about my crop shares recently it’s because we’ve been on the road. We left the day crop share box #5 arrived so that one was enjoyed by our neighbors. Here’s the update and recipes from crop shares #4 (from June 23rd) and #6 (from July 21st). This months past box has been my favorite so far. We’ve almost used everything in it already! The vegetables were very versatile and easy to add to meals.

Crop Share Box #4 

What this Box Contains

Mini romaine lettuce, iceberg lettuce, spinach, salad mix, sorrels, kohlrabi, sugar snap peas, broccoli raab, strawberries, iceberg lettuce, scallions, baby white turnips, garlic scapes (curly green in the front) and salad mix in the back

Pictured (from left): sorrels, kohlrabi, broccoli raab, strawberries, iceberg lettuce, scallions, baby white turnips, garlic scapes (curly green in the front) and salad mix in the back

Featured Item: Garlic Scapes

Garlic scapes are the long spirals that grow from garlic plants. The top portion of garlic bulbs. They have the same great flavor as garlic and can be used like a garlic scallion. Try adding chopped or diced garlic scapes to spreads, sauteed veggies or on top of pizza and scrambled eggs.

Recipes & Things I made from this Box

Well sadly this box didn’t have a lot of new or interesting recipes. The garlic scapes have been added to dishes here and there including egg salad, scrambled eggs, veggie burgers, salmon burgers and pizza. The strawberries were eaten raw immediately after receiving the box since they were so juicy and flavorful. Per usual the lettuce and salad mix were used for everyday side salads with dinner and for work. Lastly, and sadly, the kohlrabi and sorrels went bad while we were gone before we used them. 🙁

Tofu Stir Fry with Broccoli

I started out by following a recipe from my Super Foods cookbook for this dinner but was short on a few main ingredients so I ended up whipping this up from the things I had on hand.
Ratings: Sina: 2, Ryan: 2 – nothing special but fine to eat for one evening

Crop Share #6 (my favorite so box so far)

What’s This Box Contained (same as what’s pictured)

Pictured (from left to right): arugula, summer squash, zucchini, rainbow chard, sweet Spanish onions, garlic bulb, cucumber, cauliflower, green & yellow beans, new red potatoes and green top carrots

Featured Item: Arugula

Arugula is a spicy salad green that has a peppery mustard flavor. It’s great added into salad or on top of pizza, burgers, sandwiches (especially paninis), sauteed with vegetables or added to soup.

Recipes & Things I made from this Box (so far):

Salmon Burgers (adapted from Cooking Light) with Grilled Rosemary New Red Potatoes & Grilled Zucchini and Summer Squash

You can get the gist of these burgers from our high ratings (the highest yet). They were cooked perfectly with great flavor from the honey mustard sauce, onion arugula topping and in the burger patties themselves. I would suggest following the recipes guidelines to make sure you don’t over cook them. Once your grill is heated to medium (ours was at 375) cook them for 3 minutes on each side.
Ratings: Ryan: 4.5 ,Sina: 4.5 ,My Mom: 5

Honey Dijon mustard & onion and arugula mix for topping the burgers

 

Salmon burger with grilled new red potatoes and grilled summer squash, zucchini & cauliflower

Salmon Burger Recipe: Adapted from Cooking Lights Salmon Burger Recipe 2011

Ingredients

  • 1 pound skinless salmon fillets (skin removed) and diced into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 Tbsp Grated lemon rind
  • 2 Tbsp Parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 cup diced bell peppers
  • 1/4 cup capers
  • 1 Tbsp diced garlic scape (you could use one garlic clove as well)
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 1/4 tsp of ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 1 cup arugula, chopped
  • 1/2 cup diced scallions (from crop share box #4)
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 hamburger buns

Directions

  1. Preheat grill to medium
  2. Put 1/2 salmon, 1 tbsp mustard and lemon rind into food processor, blend until smooth. Remove and put in a large bowl. Next, put the other 1/2 of the salmon in the food processor and pulse 6 times or until coarsely chopped. Add salmon to bowl and fold in parsley and next 5 ingredients. Divide mixture into 4 and gently shape into 1/2 inch thick patties
  3. Combine remaining 1 Tbsp mustard and honey in a small bowl. Set aside
  4. Combine arugula and next 3 ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside.
  5. Coat a grill pan with cooking spray and place on the grill for 3 minutes. Turn patties and cook for an additional 3 minutes or until cooked to your preference.
  6. Place 1 patty on a bun and brush the honey/mustard mix on the top of the bun and top patty with arugula mix and serve.

Zucchini Bread:

Source: Cooking Light 2005

Follow the link above. My adaptations: 1/2 the oil (because I ran out), lime zest instead of lemon and 3 times the cinnamon. To top it off I sprinkled a cinnamon crunch on the top. For a very light bread it still had a lot of flavor from the zest and cinnamon.
Ratings: Sina: 3.5, Ryan: 3.5-4 (I think if you look at is as a light bread then a 4.5 but as a zucchini bread compared to high fat breads then a 3.5)

That’s all for now. I still have the Swiss chard, green beans, carrots, cucumber and one onion to use this weekend!

A Tribute to the Food of the Month – Aaron’s Favorite Turkey Burgers

My brother-in-law shares the same love for cooking as I do and this year for my birthday he sent me his favorite turkey burger recipe for June’s Food of the Month. It was such a thoughtful gift and I was very excited to make this recipe since olives and feta cheese are right up my alley.
I made the burgers this Thursday when our friends Jena and Ryan came over for dinner. Although it’s a big statement I can say they are the best homemade turkey burger I have ever made; and believe me I’ve made a lot. He also sent me a great recipe for homemade french fries which was ironic since at work I just talked about satisfying cravings, specifically french fries, in a healthy way. If you’ve been craving a burger and fries try making them at home with healthier ingredients. Not only will you save money but you’ll save fat and your arteries as well!

Turkey Burgers with Tomato Jam, Olives and Feta

Source: Bon Appetit August 2008

 Oven Fries

     

Ingredients

  • Two pounds unpeeled russet potatoes cut into 1/2 inch sticks
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1.5 tsp cracked coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • Course salt
  • I also added some fresh rosemary, chopped

Directions

Toss ingredients in a large bowl and bake at 450 degrees for 40-50 minutes (or until crispy).
Ratings: Sina: 5, Ryan: 3.5 (per Ryan “a 4 if I would have made them crispier”)

Crop Share Box #3

Even though Box number 3 came three weeks ago I didn’t post yet because I had one more dish to make with its contents. This box was filled with greens and very easy to use although during my excited state from getting more vegetables I ate the asparagus and used the rhubarb before I took the picture. Whoopsie. Once again a lot of random salads were made with this weeks share and aren’t listed below. So far my favorite thing about this farm is that they send a lot of lettuce, spring mix and spinach with each box, which means I always have salad ingredients.

What this box contained

Romaine Lettuce, Saute Mix, Salad Mix, Asparagus, Rhubarb, Baby White Turnips (gave to our neighbors), Pea Vine, Potato Onion, Green Garlic and Bok Choi

Pictured Items from Left to Right
Pea Vine, Bok Choi, Green Garlic, Romaine Lettuce
In bag in back: 1/2 Saute Mix, 1/2 Salad Mix
Things I forgot to picture: Asparagus and Rhubarb

New Recipes I made from this box

Soba noodles, tofu and vegetable stir fry

(Source: Power Foods Cookbook)
This dish was a 2 in 1 since it used my bok choi from this box and the broccoli from the box I picked up this week. A few downfalls came with this dish but were more related to my poor job buying the ingredients. First, I realized that I ate both the red peppers that I bought for this dish in salads this week. Then I remembered that I wasn’t able to find buckwheat soba noodles or any soba noodles for that matter. Ours really turned out to be a “rice noodle, tofu and vegetable stir fry.”
Ratings: Sina: 3, Ryan: 3 (we both agreed it needed more vegetables–ahem…the red peppers it called for– but we liked the asian flavors)

Sauteed Greens with Potato Onions

I decided to saute the greens with diced potato onions and minced garlic in olive oil. I then sprinkled on salt, pepper and lemon juice.
Ratings: Sina: 3, Ryan: 2.5

Brisket Birthday Dinner

Yesterday was my husbands birthday so the dinner menu was centered around him, which means one thing, BEEF. While reading my Cooking Light magazine this past month I came across a page showing beef brisket sandwiches that looked amazing. After returning to the page to find the recipe I saw that it was an add from Beef It’s What’s For Dinner. Wandering to their website for the first time I found a basic recipe that was perfect to work off of to make the sandwiches (recipe below). I chose to make them in a crock pot instead of the oven since we were out golfing while they cooked. To go with the beef I made corn with a new butter spread.

Grilled Corn with Roasted Jalapeno Butter

Roasting the jalapeno reduced the spicy kick and the honey and lime zest gave it a great sweet balance (sounds weird but tasted great).
Lastly, we balanced our plate with a salad made with lettuce and spring mix from my crop share, red peppers, tomatoes, feta cheese and an avocado. Topped with my coworkers favorite vinaigrette (if she’s okay with me sharing it I’ll post it tomorrow).
Even though corn is a starchy vegetable I think we did a good job trying to live up to the MyPlate food guide!
It was delicious and enjoyed by all but it didn’t stop there, per Ryan’s request we had chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream cake from DQ! I rarely feel like a meal was the perfect amount of food and all worth remaking but this one nailed it. Not too much food a great combination.

Beer Braised Beef Brisket Sandwiches

Inspired and Adapted from a Beef It’s What’s For Dinner recipe
Ingredients

  • 4 pounds of beef brisket – fat trimmed off
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 (12 ounce) bottle of beer
  • 1 (12 ounce) bottle of chili sauce
  • Olive Oil
  • 2 onions (chopped into 12 pieces each)
  • Buns
Directions
  1. Rub minced garlic onto beef. Heat oil in a pan and place the beef in the pan and brown it on each side (1-3 minutes per side). Remove beef from heat and season with salt and pepper
  2. Turn crock pot to high and place the chopped onions on the bottom and the beef on top of them.
  3. Mix the bottle of beer and chili sauce and pour over the beef.
  4. Cover and let cook for 4-5 hours.
  5. Remove beef from crock pot and slice thinly against the grain.
  6. Place back in the crock pot on low until you are ready to eat.
  7. Serve with good buns and the sauce on top.

Food of the Month

I know what you’re thinking it’s June 4th and I’m a little behind on my food of the month. I apologize for my neglect to the blog.  I’ve been outside pulling out bushes, weeding my garden and our summer season of weddings and bachelorette parties officially began last night. So needless to say I’ve been very limited on finding free time to blog but I haven’t forgotten about this months food. After many dinners on the grill due to a broken oven I thought I would dedicate this month (…ahem…the best month of the year…) to turkey burgers. Turkey burgers are so easy to make and can be a healthier alternative to beef burgers. I’m not talking about buying turkey patties and throwing them on the grill. I’m talking about homemade turkey patties. Starting with ground turkey, adding in chopped veggies, cheese and spices, forming them into patties and then tossing them on the grill to cook.  The combinations and varieties you can make are endless which makes them a fun food to cook throughout the summer months.

The first thing to know is what to look for when you buy ground turkey since the varieties at the store aren’t all the same. Frozen ground turkey is usually dark meat and can actually contain skin in it. This type of turkey is just as high in fat as ground beef. I recommend not using this type of turkey. Regular ground turkey, which is labeled as 93% lean is usually part white and part dark meat and can still be fairly high in calories and fat although still less fat than ground beef. Ground turkey breast, is the lowest in fat. This can also be used in recipes but it dries out easily so you may need to add an egg to the burgers. I tend to buy the lean ground turkey for burgers since it doesn’t get as dry but find that the ground turkey breast works well in soups, stews and chili’s.

This past week I decided to make crop share turkey burgers. I chopped up some of the ramps I had left, which by the way I’m obsessed with. If you are ever at a farmers market and see them BUY them. You can add them to almost anything for a garlic/onion flavor. I then added in my leftover chives, some spinach and crumbled feta cheese. We grilled them and topped them with a thin slice of Swiss cheese and served them on a whole wheat bun with a side of corn and asparagus. It was a delicious dinner. The burgers were very juicy and flavorful.

If you prefer to follow a recipe for your burgers try the one I listed below for a start before you get creative with your own combination. The cucumber-feta topping would be perfect on a hot day. My aunt also has an AMAZING hoisin turkey burger recipe that I posted below

Turkey Hummus Sliders

Food Network (recipe suggested by Greta)

Asian Turkey Burgers

Cooking Light 2001 (provided by my Aunt Nancy)
  • Combine 1/2 cup hoisin sauce, 1/4tsp garlic powder, 1/4 tsp ground Ginger and 2 pounds of ground turkey
  • Shape into 8 patties and grill or broil.

Crop Share Box #1

This is the second year my husband and I have joined a crop share with our neighbors. We have a full share every other week package and our first box came last week. As a new addition to the blog I plan to share my journey cooking through all the unique vegetables that the boxes contain. I’ll share what was in the box, new recipes I try with the vegetables and other information about the vegetables. To give you guys a better understanding of how the recipes tasted my husband I will also rank the taste of recipes. That way you can distinguish which may be worth trying. Our rating scale will be out of 5 stars.
  • 5 stars: Mouthwatering, when can I have it again? Will definitely make again.
  • 4 stars: Very good, a definite recipe to repeat.
  • 3 stars: Tasted good but nothing special, would make a variation of it again.
  • 2 stars: Something was missing but has potential to be fixed.
  • 1 star: Not good, would never make it again.
After the cold and wet spring I wasn’t sure what I would find in my first box. With much anticipation my neighbor Greta and I went together to find our pick up location and vegetables. After splitting things with Greta here is what our share looked like.

Crop Share Box #1

What this box contained

Sunchokes, Parsnips, Ramps, Overwintered Spinach, Black Radishes, Sorrels, Chives, Watercress and Nettles

Pictured Items from left to right
Ramp, Spinach & Watercress (in bag), Sorrels, Chives
Sunchokes and Black Parsnip in front of bag

New recipes I made from items in this box

Fried Sunchoke chips with Rosemary Salt

Source: Epicurious (from Greta)

Rating: 4.5 stars from Sina, 4 from Ryan

      

Potato salad with Chives Recipe edited from recipes my mom made as a kid and online recipes

-Baby Red Potatoes, boiled then cut into 1/2 inch pieces (I used ~5 pounds)
-Chives, diced (~1/2 cup or to taste)
-Light Sour Cream (~1 cup)
-Salt and Pepper to taste (don’t be bashful)
Rating: Sina: 3 stars,  Ryan  2 stars
I love potato salads with a sour cream base but I think I would add garlic and more pepper next time.

Pasta with Ramps and Sorrel

Combine the following ingredients
  • Pasta noodles, cooked
  • Sorrel and Ramps -washed, chopped and sauteed
  • Olive oil
  • Crushed red pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • salt and pepper
Sina: 3 stars, Ryan: 3

Interested in joining a crop share. Check out Local Harvest for farms close to you.

Spring Pasta: Campanelle with Apsaragus and Pecorino Cheese

This months Cooking Light featured a series of spring pastas. While I love pasta with homemade marinara or bolognese sauces I also love the taste of an olive oil, lemon or other herb sauce and fresh vegetables or pancetta. A perfect dish for spring! To start off the series of spring pastas I made the Garganelli with Asparagus and Pecorino Cheese for dinner tonight since it was quick and I didn’t get home from yoga until late.

Ever since I studied abroad in Italy I am obsessed with pecorino romano cheese. For those of you who haven’t tried it it’s a hard Italian cheese made out of sheep’s milk. It has a very sharp and slightly salty taste and is great for grating on dishes. Similar to a Parmigiano Reggiano but better!

Garganelli with Asparagus and Pecorino Romano

Source: Cooking Light – April 2011
My Adjustments to this Recipe:
 
  • My grocery store didn’t have garganelli noodles so I used campanelle noodles.
  • I added two roasted red pepper chicken sausage (slice and sauté with asparagus)
  • I also increased the recipe to two garlic cloves instead of one
  • We topped with crushed red pepper
Vegetarian version: Make original recipe but sub vegetable broth for chicken broth 
 
 
Buon Appetito!

Beef Broccoli Stir Fry

The first day back to work after vacation always comes as a shock. The relaxation quickly fizzles and responsibilities, deadlines and workloads accumulate quicker than anticipated. Today was day two back to work for my husband and I and knowing how busy he has been I decided to make a meal I knew he would love.  Let me first explain why I knew he would love this dish. First, you will have to know that I’ve never been a beef lover. My mom doesn’t like steak so we didn’t have it as kids and once I tried it as an adult I wasn’t impressed. I’m a big texture eater and while the flavor of steak is usually delicious I don’t like all the chewing that comes with it. Now, I know what most of you are thinking, “You just haven’t had a good steak before.” I’ve heard this line a million times and I’ve tried many different cuts, flavors and cooking methods.  Nine out of ten times I’m still turned off by the texture and only eat half an ounce (with the exception of a beef tenderloin I had at Manny’s Steak house that melted in my mouth). That being said I don’t cook beef often so my husband has to resort to ordering fancy steaks when we are out to eat. The second reason I knew he’d love my dinner choice was the fresh ginger and Sriracha added to the sauce; two things he loves.

I knew I’d like the flavor of this dish and figured I’d pick out most of the beef but to my amazement I loved it and so did my husband. The beef wasn’t chewy, the broccoli kept the perfect crunch and the flavor was delicious.
In situations when I cook something delicious my first instinct is to call my best friend Rachel to tell her about it (we started a cooking club last year since we both have such a passion for food and I knew she would love this). Well, she works second shift at the hospital so I’m sharing the recipe with my changes (which include doubling the sauce) to my blog followers. You have to try this and tell me what you think.

Beef Broccoli Stir Fry

Adapted from: Cooking Light March 2011

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole grain rice (uncooked)
  • 3 tablespoons dry sherry, divided
  • 3 tablespoons lower-sodium soy sauce, divided
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 pound boneless sirloin steak, cut diagonally across grain into thin slices
  • 1 cup lower-sodium beef or chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoon hoisin sauce
  • 2 teaspoon Sriracha (hot chile sauce) or 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, peeled and grated + more for the top of your dish if desired
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 4 cups broccoli (~1 broccoli head), chopped (you can buy the prechopped bag at the store to save time)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/3 cup sliced green onions

Directions

  1. Cook 1 cup of whole grain rice according to directions.
  2. While rice cooks, combine 1 tablespoon sherry, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, sugar, and beef. Stir together 2 tablespoon sherry, 2 tablespoon soy sauce, broth, cornstarch, hoisin, and Sriracha.
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add beef mixture; sauté 3 minutes or until browned. Remove beef from pan. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to pan. Add ginger and garlic; cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly.
  4. Add broccoli and 1/4 cup water; cook 1 minute. Add onions; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add broth mixture and beef mixture; cook 2 minutes or until beef is thoroughly heated and sauce is slightly thick.
  5. Serve beef mixture over rice. Add fresh ginger and Sriracha to top as desired

Food of the Month

Get out your togas because this month we’re going Greek. Rich and creamy are just two words to describe Greek yogurt, which is this months featured food. A few years ago Greek yogurt was a rarity on produce shelves but with the growing attention it’s gotten from health  nuts it has gained popularity. Over the past year I’ve seen more brand available at supermarkets and more competitive prices. This calcium-loaded food contains healthy bacterial cultures that boast digestion benefits. Like traditional yogurt Greek style yogurt is made from fermented milk. It is then strained in cloth leaving a thicker product with the same sour taste. Some of the nutrition benefits are due to the increased concentration of Greek yogurt. It generally contains more live cultures and probiotics. In addition, Greek yogurt is higher in protein and lower in sugar than traditional yogurt and since it contains fewer carbohydrates it is also lower in lactose content (which is great for all of my fellow lactose intolerant readers out there). One 6-ounce container of Chobani nonfat Greek yogurt contains 140 calories and 14 grams of protein per serving which keep me feeling full and satisfied between breakfast and lunch.
Greek yogurt is very versatile so think outside the container. It can be used as a base for dips, sauces or smoothies. Here’s what to know when you head to the stores.
  • Look for a low fat or non-fat variety.
  • The plain flavors tend to be best for dips and sauces and take on the flavor of the herbs or spices added.
  • If you have children you may want to Chobani’s Champions that were developed just for kids. Each 3.5-ounce container contains 100 calories.

Here are a few of my favorite varieties and recipes

Brands

  • Trader Joe’s Greek Style NonFat Yogurt- Honey Flavored
  • Chobani Nonfat Greek Yogurt– Strawberry & Peach flavored or the 2% Fat Pineapple flavored variety (I have yet to see the 0% honey, black cherry or lemon flavors at my supermarket but can imagine I’ll like those too).
  • Fage- comes in a large container with a lid to reseal. Great for making the french onion dip recipe below

Most Recent Dish I’ve made with Greek Yogurt

Bahamian-Spiced Chicken with Yogurt-Cilantro Sauce

Source: Bobby Flay for Health Magazine
Pictured above
**My husband and I both loved the flavor of the chicken. I can imagine it will be even better when we are able to make it on the grill.

Sina’s French Onion Dip

Ingredients (I don’t usually measure but you can’t mess it up)

  • Nonfat Plain Greek Yogurt
  • Diced green onions
  • Sodium free seasoning blend (any should work)
  • Small amount of Morton’s seasoning blend

Directions

Mix onions and seasonings into the yogurt to your liking. It was delicious with potato chips!

A Weekend of Food

Cold winter weekends always make me want to cook. This weekend my cooking escapades started with a fabulous brunch with my dear friend Brent. We started by making homemade hash browns; a first for both of us. We then made a poached egg dish with prosciutto, manchego cheese and crushed red peppers layered on a piece of toast: replicated from an entree at my favorite breakfast restaurant in Madison, Marigold Kitchen(If you are ever visiting you have to stop!).

Poached Eggs with Prosciutto, Manchego and Crushed Red Pepper

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs per person
  • 2 thinly sliced pieces of sourdough bread, toasted per person
  • 2 slices Prosciutto per person
  • ~1/4 cup or less of Manchego cheese, shredded per person
  • Crushed Red Peppers to top

Directions

  • Poach Eggs
  • While eggs are poaching, toast bread
  • Sautee prosciutto for 1-2 minutes until warm
  • Layer your toast with prosciutto, then eggs, shredded cheese and top with crushed red peppers
  • Serve
My next kitchen endeavor was to prepare Sunday night dinner. After a very relaxing and productive weekend I thought my husband and I could use a good home cooked meal. Knowing the pork chop recipe I was going to make (Cuban Pork Chops with Mojo Source: Guy’s Big Bite- Food Network) I grabbed our Brussels sprouts and squash out of the refrigerator and put my thinking cap on. What should I do with my vegetables tonight? My inspiration for the Brussels sprouts came from the leftover prosciutto and manchego cheese from brunch. For those of you who think Brussels sprouts are bland think again.

Brussels Sprouts with Prosciutto

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 pound Brussels Sprouts (stems trimmed off and cut in half)
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 3 thin slices of Prosciutto, diced (Pancetta or bacon would also work)
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
  • 1/8 cup white wine
  • 1-2 Tbsp shredded Manchego or Parmesan cheese

Directions

  1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add olive oil
  2. Add Brussels sprout and saute for 3 minutes
  3. Add water and cook for 3 more minutes (I covered my pot to slightly steam the sprouts)
  4. Add prosciutto pieces and garlic and continue saute for 5 minutes
  5. Reduce heat and add lemon juice and white wine. Scrape the bottom of the pan to get the flavors off and let cook for a few more minutes or until liquids have dissolved and Brussels sprouts are tender
  6. If desired, add shredded cheese to the top
     
Next, I had the task of seasoning the squash. Roasting is my favorite way to prepare squash (really most vegetable for that matter). Cinnamon and curry are my go to flavors for this starch and since I was in a creative mood I figured why not try mixing the two. Here’s what I came up with.

Curried Butternut Squash

Ingredients

  • 3 cups of butternut squash, cubed (I used one full container of the peeled and cubed butternut squash sold at Trader Joe’s)
  • 1 Tbsp Olive oil
  • 2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp Nutmeg
  • 2 tsp Curry Powder
  • Dash of salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Place squash and the rest of the ingredients in a bowl and toss
  3. Put the squash in a 9 x 13 pan and bake for 35-40 minutes or until squash is tender when a fork is inserted
After watching a lot of football this weekend my mind was drawn to the colors on my plate and the upcoming green vs orange showdown (for those of you non-football followers my Green Bay Packers play the Chicago Bears this weekend for a spot in the Superbowl). I hope the game is as good as this meal was. I was in complete bliss the rest of the evening and reminded that a good meal in with family is priceless.

Cuban Pork Chops with Mojo

Source: Guys Big Bite-Food Network

Boeuf Bourguignon

My best friend Rachel and I both have a love for cooking but we live in different states so we rarely get to cook together. Luckily, every Christmas we take a day off for a long weekend together.  This year we decided to tackle Julia Child’s Boeuf Bourguignon recipe. After patting the beef dry, chopping, browning, baking, mixing, baking and then sautéing the mushrooms and onions we were set.

At about the 30th step and an hour in we started to wonder if this was going to be worth all the effort. A few hours later as the smell filled the house our confidence in this dish grew. While this isn’t a light recipe nor was it a quick and easy recipe it was definitely worth it. I have never been a big a beef eater since the texture isn’t my favorite but this was perfect. So for the once a year I am up for a good comfort stew I think I’ll make it again.  If you have the time and a good cooking partner (because you’re in the kitchen for awhile) I highly recommend tackling the iconic Julia Child’s recipe.

Beef Bourguignon

The video they have helped explain a few of the steps to us.

Food of the Month: Chili

I thought I would start a food of the month and what better way to start then with a warm meal for this cold month of December. Chili is one of my favorite things to make since I love spice, cilantro, soup, beans and vegetables and chili mixes all of that together. Chili can be a very healthy meal since it’s loaded with  tomatoes, vegetables and beans. Try to avoid loading it with sour cream, cheese and chips. I usually add a small amount of light sour cream or I add a few slices of avocado and cilantro. One great thing about chili is you can serve it to almost anyone since you can make it vegetarian, gluten free or dairy free very easily. There are so many types of chili and I love trying new recipes. Since I love spice I usually end up adding extra jalapenos, chili peppers or chili powder then the recipes calls for.

 Here are a few I love. I hope you find them as tasty as I do. Let me know what you think!

Southwestern Chili

Source: Cooking Light March 2005
I just made this recipe for friends that love spice like my husband and I do. It was dynamite and I highly recommend it. I used Andouille sausage in place of the Cajun smoked sausage and ground bison in place of the ground sirloin

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chili (Vegetarian)

Source: Cooking Light October 2005
This is a fun way to have the flavor of chili with the taste of sweet potatoes. My friend Beanie made this recipe for Ryan and I and we loved it. I’m going to dedicate this one to Kristen Angel since she asked for vegetarian recipes on my blog and I think she’ll like this vegetarian twist to chili!)

Chili Con Carne

Source: Cooking Light January 2010
My husband made this recipe for a group of people coming over to watch football last winter. This Texas style  chili packs flavor without beans. This was the first chili I can remember that I ate without beans. I really enjoyed the taste of the beef and flavor of the base. It was a great change up to how I usually think of chili.

Turkey and Bean Chili

Source: Cooking Light September 2010

I love this recipe because it’s quick and easy. I’ve made it following the recipe exactly and I’ve also done it with the addition of bell peppers since I had them left over from my garden.

Chicken Chili Recipe

Source: My dear friend Claire
This was the first chili I ever made and my go to for a few years before I started experimenting with new chili recipes.  I still love the flavor of it and the fact that it’s a chicken chili without cream. The marinaded chicken adds a lot of flavor.

Ingredients

  • 14 oz can of black beans (drained – I use the no added salt canned black beans)
  • 1 can red beans (drained)
  • 1/2 can refried beans
  • 29 oz can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup Low Sodium Chicken Broth
  • Chipotle marinade
  • 4 Chicken breasts
  • 1 Red pepper (chopped)
  • 1 Green pepper (chopped)
  • 1 Jalapeno pepper (chopped)
  • 1 Yellow onion (chopped)
  • 4 Garlic Cloves
  • 1 Tbsp cumin
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp salt

Directions

  1. Marinate the chicken in the Lawry’s marinade (for at least 30 minutes) and cut into chunks.
  2. In skillet add olive oil and brown chicken.
  3. Remove chicken from pan once cooked.
  4. In same pan saute onion, red and green peppers and garlic.  In large pot add chricken broth, red and black beans and tomatos.  Stir.
  5. Add chicken and 1/2 can of refried beans.
  6. Add seasoning.
  7. Let simmer as desired.  Ready when heated.