Sriracha-Lime Corn Salad

First, let me address the white elephant in the room. Where have I been? Or better yet, where have the blog posts gone? Well, having three kids in 3.5 years has really taken away from extracurricular activities. Have I stopped cooking? No. Is nutrition or healthy eating less important? No. Actually, my husband and I are more healthy now after I had him read The Blue Zones by Dan Buettner (more on that in a future blog). Most importantly I’ve thought of my blog constantly when I am making recipes worth sharing. That’s why I’m back. I have a list of recipes I’m dying to share but after shopping for them, cooking them, cleaning it up and putting the kids to bed I find myself exhausted and in bed.  That’s about to change. My growler of cold press coffee and school start for the girls have me ready to post!

First, before corn season is over I want to share a delicious end of summer recipe that you HAVE TO TRY. It would pair perfect with grilled food, fish or even as a side to a Mexican food night. My mom found this delicious recipe in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel this month (adapted from food52.com). It has citrus, crunch, cheese and spice and doesn’t take long to make. YUM YUM YUM!

Sriracha-Lime Corn Salad

Serves: 6

Ingredients

  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 6 ears of corn, cooked and sliced off cobs
  • 2 red bell peppers, diced
  • 3 Tbsp sriracha
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 4 ounces feta or Cotija cheese, crumbled
  • 3 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Heat olive oil in a large saute pan over medium high heat and saute corn kernels until slightly browned (6-8 minutes).
  2. Add peppers and cook 2-3 minutes until barely softened.
  3. Remove from heat and add parsley, cheese and lime juice. Mix to combine
  4. Season with salt and peppers
  5. Add Sriracha and stir to coat (the recipe says to do this in the pan with the peppers and corn but we did it at the end so we could take some out for the kids before we made it spicy. Either way works).

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

Watermelon Salad

It’s finally summer which means the season of fresh juicy fruit has arrived. I love having fresh berries, pineapple and melons around for snacking but recently I was introduced to a new salad that I can’t get enough of. After doing the MS 150 bike ride (where the weather kept us from the second half) my friends Claire & Erin hosted a BBQ for the riders. Of course the spread of food was delicious: orzo pasta salad, veggies with homemade dip, guacamole and chips, brats/burgers and best of all a watermelon salad.  YUMMY!

The crunch and chilly texture from the watermelon paired perfectly with the dryness of the feta cheese.  Topped off with a hint of flavor from the sliced red onions and cilantro. It was oh so refreshing!!! I’ve had it twice since the BBQ and had to share. It’s easy, healthy and perfect for a summer barbecue, family dinner or party. The best part is you can make it without following much of a recipe. When I did it I used ~ 1/2 a watermelon and sprinkled the feta, cilantro and red onion on until it looked like it was coated well. I then squeezed the lemon juice on top, mixed and served. I would recommend making it soon before serving as watermelon can drain overnight.

Ingredients:

  • ~1/2 a Watermelon- diced
  • Feta Cheese- crumbled
  • Red Onion- thinly sliced (I used ~1/4 of one so it wasn’t overpowering)
  • Cilantro- chopped/minced
  • Juice from one lime

Three Bean Salad

You may be wondering if I stopped cooking now that I’m working and a mom. The answer is no, I still cook. The problem is I don’t have time to post all the things I make. Tonight though our daughter had a great evening eating dinner with us followed by a 7pm bath which meant I had time to prep a salad for a work pot luck tomorrow and post about it.

I decided to try a new three bean salad. My first impression is that I like it but I want to see how it infuses over night. It has a mustard flavor to it with the dijon and the fresh parsley and shallots are a great touch.

Three Bean Salad

Source: Cooking Light August 2012

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

Mango Slaw

It’s officially summer which means it’s time for me to make a ton of grain salads, slaws and other cold dishes. When my mom was in town we went to my favorite food blog: Smitten Kitchen and she found a delicious salad for Memorial Day.  I would definitely make this one again! We paired it with burgers and a fruit salad.

(adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

Ingredients

  • 2 mangoes, peeled, pitted and julienned
  • 1 to 1 1/4 pounds Napa cabbage, halved and sliced very thinly
  • 1 red pepper, julienned
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced (we did less since it’s a strong flavor)
  • 6 tablespoons of fresh lime juice, from about two limes
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons oil of your choice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh mint leaves
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds

Directions

  1. Toss mangoes, cabbage, pepper and onion in a large bowl.
  2. Whisk lime juice, vinegar, oil, salt and red pepper in a smaller bowl and pour over slaw. (You can refrigerate it for an hour to let the flavors infuse but you don’t need to).
  3. Before serving, toss with mint leaves and sesame seeds.

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

Healthy Carb Dishes

Since I seem to be craving carbohydrates a lot during this pregnancy I decided to feature healthy ways to satisfy those cravings today on Twin Cities Live. Not only will you fill up on carbs, they will be the healthy kind and you will also get some servings of fruits and vegetables in with these three dishes. So, indulge away with this edamame garden salad, couscous salad with dried fruit or delicious whole wheat raspberry bar.  I make the edamame salad a lot and can tell you it’s delicious. The couscous salad was a new recipe for me but I taste tested it last night. I really liked the spices they added to the couscous, it has a middle eastern taste with a sweet finish from the dried fruit. I am yet to try to raspberry bars but the smell has been taking over my house and I can’t wait to try one. I can only imagine how tasty they are! To find out what other pregnant woment think of the foods watch Twin Cities Live today on Channel 5 at 3pm.

Here are the original recipes with my modifications in red.

Edamame Garden Salad

Source: MrFood.com

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup natural flavor rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice (I usually do 1/2 to 1 whole lemons juice)
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 cups edamame, cooked according to package directions (see Note)
  • 1 cup black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup frozen corn, thawed
  • 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped (I only use 1/4 of a red onion so the onion flavor won’t take over)
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro


Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, combine olive oil, rice vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and black pepper; mix well and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Pour dressing over salad and toss until evenly coated. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Serves 12. Nutritional Information (I calculated the calories/fat from sparkpeople.com) :

Nutrition per Serving (yields 12) = 154 calories, 10g Fat

Couscous Salad with Dried Fruit

Source: Cooking Light 2003

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 3/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon Hungarian hot paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
  • Dash of ground cinnamon
  • Dash of ground allspice
  • 1 1/2 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup uncooked couscous
  • 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 1/4 cup chopped pitted dates
  • 1/4 cup chopped dried apricots
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted
  • 2 tablespoons chopped green onions
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped green olives
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add 3/4 cup onion; sauté 5 minutes or until tender. Add paprika and next 7 ingredients (paprika through allspice); cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add broth; bring to a boil. Gradually stir in couscous. Remove from heat. Cover and let stand 5 minutes. Fluff couscous with a fork. Place couscous in a large bowl. Add 1 tablespoon oil, tomatoes, and remaining ingredients; toss well. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Serving size: 1 cup, serves 6

Nutrition Information: 258 calories, 7.5g Fat, 6.7g Protein, 4.6g Fiber

Raspberry Bars

Source: Eating Well

Ingredients

Crust

  • 3/4 cup white whole-wheat flour or whole-wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans (I was a little shy of 1/2 cup so I filled the 1/2 cup with pecans and topped with oatmeal to get to 1/2 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • 2 tablespoons ice water
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Raspberry Filling

  • 2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 3 cups fresh raspberries, divided
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 tablespoons nonfat cream cheese, softened (I used 1/3 less fat cream cheese instead)
  • 2 tablespoons low-fat milk
  • 1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar

Directions:

  1. To prepare crust: Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat an 8-inch-square baking pan with cooking spray.
  2. Place flour, pecans, 2 tablespoons sugar and salt in a food processor; process until the nuts are finely ground. Add butter one piece at a time, pulsing once or twice after each addition, until incorporated. Add ice water and vanilla and pulse just until the dough starts to come together. Transfer to the prepared pan. Press evenly and firmly into the pan to form a bottom crust.
  3. Bake the crust until it looks set, but not browned, about 15 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack.
  4. To prepare raspberry filling: Sprinkle gelatin over 2 tablespoons water in a small bowl; let stand, stirring once or twice, while you prepare the rest of the filling.
  5. Reserve 16 raspberries. Puree the remaining raspberries in a food processor until smooth. Transfer to a medium saucepan and stir in 1/2 cup sugar. Cook over medium heat until bubbling. Stir in the gelatin mixture and cook, stirring, until the gelatin is melted, about 1 minute.
  6. Fill a large bowl with ice water. Pour the raspberry mixture into a medium bowl and set it in the bowl of ice water. Refrigerate, stirring occasionally with a rubber spatula, until the mixture thickens to the consistency of loose jam and is beginning to set around the edges, about 30 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile, beat cream cheese, milk and confectioners’ sugar in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until smooth.
  8. Spread the thickened raspberry filling evenly over the crust. Dollop the cream cheese mixture over the filling. Draw the tip of a sharp knife or skewer through the two fillings to create a swirled effect. Nestle the reserved berries into the filling, evenly spacing them so each bar will be topped with a berry when cut. Refrigerate until the bars are completely set, about 3 hours. Cut into 16 bars, one raspberry per bar.

Nutrition Per bar (serves 16): 101 calories; 5 g fat ( 2 g sat , 2 g mono ); 6 mg cholesterol; 14 g carbohydrates; 2 g protein; 2 g fiber; 94 mg sodium; 64 mg potassium.

 

Kale Chips

As I sit and look out the window at the snow falling I find myself aching for my garden vegetables. As a dietitian selecting a favorite vegetable is near impossible and ever changing but one of my top picks for the past two years has been kale. I first was introduced to kale chips by my friend, the cohost of Twin Cities Live, Elizabeth Ries. My husband and I have been hooked ever since the first time I made them and it’s one of the only foods he consistently request I make all summer. I realized in the conversion of my blog to this website my kale chip recipe did not make it over. Since I’m running out to Target today and plan to get some kale to make kale chips for dinner I had to repost this as it’s one of our favorite recipes. We have grown kale in our garden for the past two years and it was like the giving tree. It grew and grew and grew and still was fresh to eat through earlier November. I started passing it out to friends, dropping it off in my neighbors mailbox and serving it for every occasion I could think of and it has been a hit! If you have a garden, save a little room and you will be pleasantly surprised.

 

Kale definitely a good thing to fall in love with since it is only 34 calories per cup but packed with nutrition including beta carotene, Vitamin C, Vitamin K and lots of minerals including iron and calcium. It is truly a guilt free treat! So, I dare those of you who are scared to try leafy greens to make this recipe. You won’t be disappointed. Then, once you become addicted to trying new ways to eat kale like I am I recommend trying the Spicy Tuscan Soup recipe on my site. I also hope to post a delicious kale salad recipe my family made for Thanksgiving and Christmas sometime soon.

Roasted Kale Chips

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F
  2. Wash 1-2 bunches of kale, remove stems, tear into small pieces
  3. Toss with 2 tsp olive oil and spread on baking sheet
  4. Salt and pepper lightly
  5. Bake until crisp and slightly golden around edges (10 minutes) –> I will warn you that you have to watch them closely as they can burn quickly

Brussel Sprouts with Bacon, Garlic and Shallots

What was your favorite Thanksgiving dish this year?

I was in charge of a vegetable side for our Thanksgiving meal and I chose to make a Brussel Sprouts recipe that I had tried a few weeks back and was a huge success! I made them ahead of time according to the recipe directions with the  addition of parmesan cheese sprinkled on top then we reheated them in the oven before we ate. If you like Brussel sprouts you’ll love this recipe that combines the flavors of garlic, bacon and shallots with this crunchy vegetable.

Brussel Sprouts with Bacon, Garlic and Shallots (recipe linked)

Cooking Light November 2012

Ingredients:

  • 6 slices center-cut bacon, chopped
  • 1/2 cup sliced shallot (about 1 large)
  • 1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
  • 6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 3/4 cup fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

  1. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add bacon, and sauté for 5 minutes or until bacon begins to brown. Remove pan from heat. Remove the bacon from pan with a slotted spoon, reserving 1 tablespoon drippings in pan (discard the remaining drippings).
  2. Return pan to medium-high heat, and stir in bacon, shallot, and Brussels sprouts; sauté 4 minutes. Add garlic, and saute for 4 minutes or until garlic begins to brown, stirring frequently. Add the chicken broth, and bring to a boil. Cook for 2 minutes or until the broth mostly evaporates and the sprouts are crisp-tender, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; stir in salt and pepper.

Now, the best part about post-Thanksgiving. Sharing recipes from your meals. I’d love to hear what your favorite dish was or new things you tried. I love trying new recipes in the winter!

The perfect post-Thanksgiving dinner picture: Tenley taking a nap after enjoying her large marrow bone while the family ate their meal.

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

What do you do with 12 tomato plants?

Seeing bowls filled with fresh picked tomatoes from my garden makes me so excited to cook. My tomato supply is in peak season and I add about 6 more tomatoes to the bunch every 1-2 days, so what do I do with them all? For starters I eat 2-3 of them sliced up each day after work and was just telling my coworker I’m going to have withdrawals after my garden season is over. We also have enjoyed a few caprese salads thanks to my fresh supply of basil. I was hoping to try making homemade tomato juice this year to use for bloody mary’s during Badger games but I’m still debating this as I’d have to learn how to can (canning is still on my list of things to learn, for now I just make things I can freeze).

There are still plenty of options to use up a lot of tomatoes. I love tomato basil soup but often can’t enjoy it since it’s made with (I’m lactose intolerant). I found this great recipe that I made for dinner and froze in containers to eat this fall. I’m going to make another batch (this time with a small amount of milk) as well since it was so good. I love soup for lunch in the fall and this will be a great treat to remind me of summer.

Roasted Tomato Basil Soup

Source: Barefoot Contessa

 

We had the soup with an amazing side chopped salad of refrigerator leftovers (chick peas, corn off the cob, feta cheese, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers and vinaigrette) and my favorite, Spotted Cow Beer.

I’ve also made 4 large batches of fresh salsa so far this summer.

I use a food processor when I make salsa since it’s much quicker than dicing. I don’t follow a recipe but I made sure to pay attention to what I added this time so I could share.

Sina’s Garden Salsa

First: Add the following ingredients to your food processor: 1/3 of a white or yellow onion, 1 green bell pepper, 2 jalapeno peppers (without seeds), 1 habenero pepper (optional for spice) and 1/2 bunch of cilantro

Next, slice tomatoes in half and add them to the food processor. Hit the pulse button 10-13 times until it’s a good consistency for you. I used smaller tomatoes (around a roma size) and added 14 to this batch.

Voila, you’re done and the outcome is a delicious homemade salsa to use with chips or tacos. This is my husbands favorite!

Next up, homemade marinara sauce to freeze for the fall!

Crop Share Box #7

It’s definitely August. If you take a look back at Box #1 compared to Box #7 you will see the the amount of vegetables we’ve gotten has doubled and the varieties have expanded. Note, this is only half a crop share and a hard one to tell what we got as many things came with one so we each picked items out that we would use.

What this box contained

Green Top Carrots, Cucumbers, Broccoli, Italian Garlic, Summer Squash, Sweet Spanish Onions, Gold Potatoes, Italian Frying Peppers, Eggplant, Sweet Corn, Green Top Gold, Thai Basil, Tomatillos, Sesame Greens, Melons, Zucchini
Pictured above:
From front left: Sesame Greens, Sweet Spanish Onions, Broccoli, Eggplant, Cucumber (yellow), Zucchini, Cucumber
From left on top row: Green Top Carrots, Italian Frying Pepper, Summer Squash

New Recipes

Grilled Cabbage 

Directions: Cut cabbage into thick slices. Top with olive oil, salt, pepper and a generous amount of garlic powder. Place on tinfoil and grill for ~ 40 minutes. Remove and sprinkle with pecorino or parmesan cheese and serve
Ratings: Sina 4, Ryan 4

 

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

Power Foods

I received a new cookbook for my birthday from my neighbor Greta. The book is from the editors of Whole Living Magazine foreword by Martha Stewart called Power Foods. She knows me well since I love cooking with nutrient dense foods which are the base of their recipes. To give it a test run I made three recipes from the cookbook to bring over for a lunch date with Greta, her mom and baby Matilda.
I have to give Greta credit for making this first dish. She’s the first person I’ve ever met who eats parsley raw. That being said I figured she would love this salad which uses parsley as the base. A big thank you to Greta for loving Parsley because I have now discovered a great recipe. The flavor was unique, fresh, flavorful and fulfilling. A mix of a sharp parsley with sweet tones from the citrus and intensified flavor from the salty olives and capers. I thought the flavors would be good but too strong for me but I was proven wrong and now appreciate this herb much more.

Parsley-Leaf Salad with Pine Nuts, Olives and Orange Dressing

Next up were the open faced tofu tomato sandwiches inspired by the cookbook cover. If you’re like me you stare at a cookbook and dream about the flavor of the food on the cover and finally get to the point where you have to find out what it tastes like. I was pleasantly happy with the results of this dish but would like to see a little more flavor added to the tofu spread. Maybe a fresh herb, more lemon or garlic? Still worth trying and experimenting with for a vegetarian protein spread.

Open-Faced Tomato sandwiches with herbs and creamy tofu spread

 
My last dish choice was for my love of green beans, corn on the cob and tomatoes. I think it will be better once I have heirloom tomatoes from the garden but it was very delicious and easy to make.

Green Bean, Corn and Tomato Salad

My overall favorite dish was probably the parsley salad followed by the tomato sandwiches. I chose to use basil on the top which was great with the tomatoes. Now for the verdict of the cook book so far: two thumbs up. It’s creative and uses familiar foods in new ways and makes adding unique foods to your diet easy.  For anyone who likes to cook new recipes with very healthy foods I recommend trying this book. I’m sure it’s available at most bookstores and I saw it online at amazon.

Grilled Fruit

It’s my first day home after a 10 day road trip to Notre Dame, Racine and Webster, Wisconsin. Our week off was filled with friends, family, a wedding, meeting baby Alexis and of course a lot of good food. We enjoyed family dinners with the Postorino’s, Teskey’s, Eberle’s and Connell’s and ate lots of fish, grilled meals and fruit desserts.

I was lucky enough to overlap a night in Racine with my brother and since everyone in my family likes to cook we made dinner as a group. It was a ton of fun to share the kitchen and see how great of a sue chef my brother has become.

Grilled fruit has been on my list of things to cook this summer so I was very excited for our family dinner of salad, chicken and vegetable kabobs and grilled pineapples and peaches. To start we sliced the pineapple and placed them on skewers and cut the peaches in half. My next thought was to drizzle them with honey since I didn’t want to use butter, which a lot of recipes call for, but there was no honey in the house so we cooked them plain. The results were great since the grill enhanced the flavors of the fresh fruit.  The pineapple was delicious with the chicken and the peaches were enjoyed as dessert. The sweetness was increased and perfect without anything on it. I can’t wait to try other variations with cinnamon or nutmeg!!

Grilled Fruit

  • If you want to try this on your own it’s very simple. Slice up fresh fruit (peaches, pineapple, mangoes, pears and strawberries would all work –along with more options I’m sure)
  • Grill on each side for ~5-8 minutes (or until crisp with grill marks)
  • Remove and enjoy!
  • Try them plain, sprinkled with cinnamon, sugar or nutmeg or over ice cream for a healthy treat!

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.

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.

Whole Grain Salads

Barley, quinoa and bulgar salads are my absolute favorite sides for dinner when it’s nice out. They are great sources of fiber and easy to prepare ahead of time. I like to make them on the weekends for dinner and use the leftovers for our lunches during the week. The nice thing about whole grain salads is you don’t need a recipe to make a delicious combination and it’s a great way to use up vegetables that have been sitting in the fridge for awhile. Start by preparing the grain of your choice per the box directions: barley, wheatberries, quinoa, bulgar, etc…(I usually cook mine in broth instead of water for added flavor). Next, dice up fresh vegetables and herbs (peppers, green onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, sun dried tomatoes, olives, zucchini, arugula, basil, parsley, thyme, etc…) and add them to your cooled off grains. You can also add beans, nuts, cheese (feta works great) or seeds. Lastly, top this off with dressing. You can use a store bought dressing if you are crunched for time but homemade dressings are healthier and tastier and very easy to make. Start by using a general ratio of about 2:1 for oil to vinegar or a citrus juice like lime, lemon or orange. Then add some fresh or dried herbs or just a sprinkle of salt and pepper.

Here’s the recipe I tried this weekend (minus the pistachios):

Mediterranean Barley with Chickpeas and Arugula

Food of the Month

It’s officially April which means fresh vegetables and fruit will begin to ramp up and carry on through fall. I figured what better time than now to feature one of my all time favorite vegetables, asparagus, since it is in season this time of year. Asparagus is a rich source of folate, potassium, Vitamins A, E and C. Not only is it loaded in nutrients it is also low in calories with six spears providing ~22 calories. Asparagus is a great vegetable by itself and a great color and flavor additive for risottos, pastas and salads. It’s easy to prepare and delicious tossed in olive oil, salt and pepper and placed on the grill or roasted in the oven. The key is not to over cook it. The spears should still have a crunch when you eat them. Here is one of my favorite recipes. Perfect for serving at parties or as a starter for a date night.

Asparagus con Prosciutto (aka prosciutto wrapped asparagus)

There are many ways to make this recipe and most traditional recipes don’t cook the prosciutto. I’ve realized over time that I actually prefer it when the prosciutto is slightly cooked and crispy. A trick I’ve learned from preparing this so often is to blanch the asparagus. Cooking the spears for a short amount of time will help them keep their bright green color. Here is how I make this delicious antipasto.

Ingredients

  • 1 bundle of asparagus, washed with bottom ends cut off
  • ~6-8 thin slices of prosciutto, cut in half lengthwise
  • olive oil
  • black pepper
  • salt (optional, not always needed since prosciutto is salty)

Directions

  • Blanch asparagus in boiling water for two minutes
  • Toss asparagus in ice water immediately after to stop the cooking
  • Wrap each asparagus spear with a thin slice of prosciutto
  • Place each asparagus wrapped in prosciutto on a baking sheet
  • Broil until asparagus is crispy (varies 3-10 minutes depending on how crispy you want them)
  • Lightly drizzle with olive oil and black pepper
  • Serve warm or chilled

Food for thought (better yet for smell…)

Yes, it’s true asparagus can make your urine smell after eating it but not everyone has the gene. If you have to think about if you’ve noticed this before you definitely don’t have it. Being a carrier of this gene I can say there is no doubt you wouldn’t notice the smell. Turns out asparagus contains a sulfur called murcaptan that makes the smell when it’s broken down in our digestive systems.

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

Our Christmas

My family is filled with people who love to cook and when we go home we’re always treated to great food. My Aunt Nancy knows how to cook everything, from traditional Italian food (my dad’s family is 100% Italian) to wholesome vegetable dishes from her garden. Then we have my mom and I who both love great food and new recipes. We’re also graced with my brother’s fiancee, Sara, a culinary school grad and professional pastry cook. After much deliberation, we decided to split cooking honors on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Today, Christmas Eve, Sara undertook the pivotal task of making a traditional four course Italian meal. Assisting is my dad, an eager culinary pupil, and my brother who has turned into our resident sous chef. Below they are seen creating the Butternut and acorn squash ravioli.

     
My dad’s favorite meals consist of many courses, conversation, and wine. My two cousins, Maddi and Emily, are vegetarians so we have both meat and veggie dishes tonight.

Our Christmas Eve menu:

Antipasti

  • Plate of Italian Meats, Cheeses and Olives from Tenuta’s (a great Italian market in Kenosha, WI; definitely worth a trip).
  • Winter Vegetables Panzanella (Italian bread salad)

Primi Piatti

  • Squash ravioli with butter sage sauce

Secondi Piatti

  • Braciole (Round steak flattened then layered with prosciutto, pine nuts, mozzarella and raisins rolled up, browned and simmered in marinara sauce for 6-8 hours)
  • Stuffed Peppers for the Vegetarians

Dolce

My mom, Aunt Nancy, Maddi and I will have our turn in the kitchen tomorrow, Christmas Day. In order to spend Christmas with friends and family we brined the turkey and prepped our dishes today. Here is our list of sides:

Curried Cauliflower with Capers Source: Cooking Light

  • Recipe changes: doubled the curry powder

Swiss Chard and Sweet Potato Gratin Source: Smitten Kitchen 

  • Recipe changes: substituted skim milk for heavy cream

Corn Bread and Broccoli Rabe Strata Source New York Times

   
MMmmm…I can’t wait to eat. May your holiday be filled with family and finger-lickin’, lip-smackin’, melt in your mouth food just like mine. Buon Natale from the Postorino/Teskey/Reeves family.