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

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.