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).

Soft Baked Pretzels

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

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

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

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

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

Soft Baked PretzelsFullSizeRender (5)

Source: Sprinkle Some Sugar Blog

Ingredients:

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

Directions:

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

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

Honey Mustard Dipping SauceFullSizeRender

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

Mix together and refrigerate

Individualized Egg Tarts

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

Individualized Egg Tarts

Must Have Ingredients

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

Optional Toppings

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

Directions

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

Egg Tart Combination Ideas: 

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

It Starts with the Crust

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Favorite New Pizza Dough recipes from Seriously Delish Cookbook:

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

Pizza Crust

Ingredients:

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

Directions

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

100% Whole Wheat Version

Ingredients:

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

Directions:

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

 

 

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

Caribbean Carrot Soup

I don’t know how to put in words the deliciousness that is this soup! YOU HAVE TO MAKE IT!! My mom found the recipe in her Madison magazine and it sounded perfect from the start since I love soup and it has some of my favorite ingredients: coconut milk, ginger and sriracha (well it called for hot sauce but my mom used sriracha). My mom, Ryan and I have almost eaten the whole batch in three days and we can’t wait to make it again. We made it with a big kick of spice which went perfect with the caribbean flavors. I HIGHLY recommend you make it. It’s light, flavorful and filled with healthy beta-carotene. I’m speechless it was so good…Delish!!

Caribbean Carrot Soup

Source: Madison Magainze March 2013

INGREDIENTS

5 pounds large carrots
2 tbsp plus 3 tbsp canola or sunflower oil
1 large yellow onion
4 cloves garlic
1 tbsp fresh ginger
1 tbsp curry powder
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup plus 2 quarts vegetable or chicken stock
1.5 cans coconut milk
Salt, pepper and hot sauce to taste – my mom used sriracha
Chopped cilantro (for garnish) – we skipped this since we didn’t have any cilantro in the fridge

RECIPE

Peel and chop carrots into large pieces. Coat in about 2 tbsp oil and 1/4 cup stock. Place on parchment and roast at 400 degrees for about 45–60 minutes until carrots are fork-tender.

While carrots are in the oven, chop onion and garlic and grate ginger. In the bottom of a large enameled pot, add 3 tbsp oil and saute garlic, onion and ginger until onions are translucent. Add curry powder and bay leaf and sauté about 1 minute. Add roasted carrots and 1 quart broth and let come to a simmer. Pour in remaining stock and bring to a simmer again. Add coconut milk and remove bay leaf.

Use immersion blender to puree soup, adding stock to thin to desired consistency. Add salt, pepper and hot sauce to taste. Serve hot with chopped cilantro.

 

Curry-Rubbed Salmon

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

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

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

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

Basil Pepper Pesto

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

Basil Pepper Pesto

Adapted from David Rocco’s Pesto Sauce in People Magazine

Ingredients

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

 

Directions

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

Crop Share Cooking

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

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

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

Garlic Scape and Swiss Chard Pesto

Ingredients 

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

Directions

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

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

Kohlrabi Home Fries  

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

Ode to Quinoa

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

Quinoa stuffed Portabella Mushrooms

Ingredients

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

Directions

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

Lemony Quinoa and Avocado Salad

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

Ingredients:

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

Directions

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

Tilapia a la Veracruz

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

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

Tilapia a la Veracruz

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

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

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

Directions:

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

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.

Muffin Overload

Another weekend waiting for our baby with lots of time to bake! As I near my due date (this Friday, May 11th) I was thinking I should bake something for the staff that will take care of my bundle of joy and myself. Since I work at the hospital I know that nurses and staff get a lot of sweet treats. While we all love them we also hate that they sit their tempting us to eat more all day so I pondered what I should make for longer than necessary. It would be way to typical for a dietitian to bring something like fresh fruit to say thanks. Plus that didn’t seem exciting enough so I tried something that I felt was a good half way point between a baked dessert and overly healthy option, healthy verison of muffins. It was my lucky day because I went to Cooking Light’s website and they had an article titled “Healthy Muffin Recipes” with 24 of their top choices.

The first recipe that caught my eye was one I’ve featured on here before: blueberry and oatmeal muffins. Since I wanted to try something new I kept looking. Uw yum, then I saw sour cream and coffeecake muffins and got way to excited to realize I don’t have any sour cream on hand and I didn’t want to run out to the store again. I was still in luck as there were many more tasty looking options. I decided to try the Chocolate Chocolate Chip muffins for the sweet lovers. Myverdict: Very good and not dry for being a light recipe although I have to say that personally I’ve never been a chocolate muffin fan (I know shocking as I love everything else chocolate). I like hearty muffins and would prefer cake or a cupcake if I’m wanting a dose of chocolate but for those who like chocolate muffins this recipe was easy and turned out great.

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Muffins

To give a good variety I decided to do a heartier muffin as well and chose the Banana Nut Muffins with Oatmeal Streusel. My verdict: very good flavor from the walnuts and bananas and the streusel gives a great touch to the top. I would definitely make these again.

Banana Nut Muffins with Oatmeal Streusel

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

Carrot Cake Muffins

I’m so blessed to have a sister in law that I truly adore. Not only is she a great friend she is also a certified pastry chef (talk about amazing). I find myself yearning for her ability to bake without measuring and create such delicious items from scratch. Her creativity and intelligence are too good not to share.. I hope you enjoy her dishes and writing as much as I do.

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March is rough on the imagination. As the sun begins to peek out from 6 months of Seattle cloud oppression, I can’t help dreaming. Peaches! Raspberries! Rhubarb! Juicy, ripe morsels just waiting to be baked into slumps, tarts, and cobblers. Sadly, when I go to open my CSA box, all I see are more carrots, apples and potatoes. I think the box contents can sense my impatience.
This week I decided to treat my produce to a farewell celebration. Instead of being roasted in olive oil yet again, these carrots cried out for a last hurrah. Inspired by my husband’s love of carrot cake, I tried my hand at a healthier, breakfast version. Most carrot cakes get their moist texture from a lot of oil, and their sweetness from sugar. These muffins use applesauce in place of oil, and I cut down on the sugar  with the addition of pineapple. (The carrots didn’t mind taking a quick vacation to the tropics).

You can use any blend of flour with this recipe. Personally, I like a half/half mix of King Arthur’s White Whole Wheat and All Purpose. For a denser, “healthier tasting” muffin, use more whole grain flour. For a lighter, fluffier muffin, All Purpose is the way to go. If you’re feeling a little bit naughty, these would be delicious with a smear of cream cheese frosting. Or just plain cream cheese. As is, they are a perfect way to start the day. The last bite of winter while we await the splendors of spring.
*One of my guinea pigs wanted me to mention that they were so good, he didn’t realize when he took a big bite of wrapper. Enjoy!

Carrot Cake Muffins

yield: 18 small muffins, 12 large muffins

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup diced pineapple (canned pineapple is fine, just drain the juice)
  • 1 lb. of carrots, peeled and shredded
  • 1 1/3 cups unsweetened applesauce (homemade or store bought)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, or a mix of the two
  • 3 extra large eggs
  • 1 TB. extra flour
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350. Line muffin tins with paper liners, spray lightly with cooking spray or butter.

1). Sift together flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.
2). Using a Kitchen Aid or a hand held mixer, beat eggs, sugar and applesauce until pale yellow and creamy.
3). Mix vanilla into egg mixture.
4). Add flour mixture to eggs, being careful not to over mix. I mix this by hand.
5). Sprinkle extra tablespoon of flour over pineapple and carrots, coat evenly.
6). Add carrots and pineapple to batter, stir to incorporate.
7). Fill lined muffins tins with batter. I fill the tins completely; for smaller muffins, fill 3/4 of the way.
8). Bake for 15-18 minutes, until a tester comes out clean.

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

A thanks to the creator…

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

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

Farro Risotto with Mushrooms

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

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

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

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

Food of the Month

Cheese, Cheese, Cheese!

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

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

Barefoot Contessa’s Mac & Cheese

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

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

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

Pesto Cheese Blossom from The Food Network

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

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

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

Fighting Fruit Fatigue

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

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

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

Twin Cities Live Segment: Fruit Fatigue Link

Recipe Links

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

Healthy Soups

I am presenting my first cooking segment on Twin Cities Live tomorrow, Wednesday October 12th. I’m going to make two of the soups I’ve blogged about before: Roasted Tomato Basil Soup and Spicy Tuscan Soup.

People often think of soup and picture cream based options. While these may taste good they are high in fat and calories. I’m going to show broth based soups that are healthy but still flavorful.

Tips for Making Healthy Soup

  • Use water or low sodium broths as your base
  • Try adding a small amount of skim milk or 1% milk to soup to add creaminess without much fat
  • Start with onions, garlic, carrots and/or celery to get lots of flavor without calories
  • Think fresh herbs and spices for added taste instead of loads of salt
  • Choose lean meats. Try making chicken chili or choose a lean ground beef or ground turkey breast (make sure it says turkey breast otherwise the turkey may contain some of the skin and not all breast meat)
  • Load up on vegetables: zucchini, tomatoes, squash, potatoes, corn, peppers, kale and beans are great additives to soup
  • When adding beans, look for low sodium varieties. If these aren’t available drain your beans in a strainer and run cold water over them for a minute to wash off some of the sodium

HEALTHY SOUP RECIPES FROM TWIN CITIES LIVE SEGMENT 10/12/2011

Roasted Tomato Basil Soup

Source: Barefoot Contessa

-To make this recipe healthier I use olive oil to sautee the onions instead of butter and I use a low sodium chicken broth (I’ve also made it with vegetable stock for a vegetarian version)
-Don’t have a food mill, don’t worry. I used a food processor to blend the tomatoes and basil in the end. An immersion blender would also work. 

  

Spicy Tuscan Soup 

Adapted from Zuppa Toscana, Olive Garden

Ingredients

  •  2 medium russet potatoes (or 3 small ones)
  • ½ small white onion, chopped
  • 1 pound of Spicy Italian Sausage (in bulk, not with casein) or for you can substitute ground turkey breast and add extra crushed red pepper or for a Vegetarian soup use meatless crumbles instead of sausage
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 5 ½ cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth
  • ½ cup milk (I used skim but use whatever you have in your house)
  • 4 cups chopped Kale (ripped off the vein)
  • 1 can of garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes

Directions

1. Poke holes in the baked potatoes and microwave them for 6-8 minutes (until tender). Set aside to cool.
2. Heat dutch oven to medium high and add onion and sausage to the pan. Cook 5 minutes then add garlic and continue to cook until meat is brown
3. While the meat is cooking rinse and chop the Kale and peel and dice the potatoes
4. Add broth and milk to the onions and meat once the meat is brown
5. Add kale, garbanzo beans, salt and crushed red pepper flakes
6. Simmer for 30 minutes and serve.

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

Crop Share Box # 4 and 6

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

Crop Share Box #4 

What this Box Contains

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

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

Featured Item: Garlic Scapes

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

Recipes & Things I made from this Box

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

Tofu Stir Fry with Broccoli

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

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

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

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

Featured Item: Arugula

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Ingredients

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

Directions

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

Zucchini Bread:

Source: Cooking Light 2005

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

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

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.

Crop Share Box #2

I realize I have box #3 from our crop share and I haven’t posted about box #2 yet. I just finished up the supplies from box #2 so I can share all my recipes. Most of the vegetables I added to our normal dishes and a lot of it was used for salads. I found the ingredients in this box more difficult to use than the veggies we received in our first box. The Hon Tsai Tai I ended up throwing away since it wilted before I figured out what to make with it.

What this Box Contained

Spring salad mix, Garden herb pack for planting (basil, rosemary, thyme, oregano, sage, savory, parsley), spinach, red radishes, asparagus, rhubarb, Egyptian walking onions and green garlic.
Pictured Items from Left to Right: 
BACK: Spring mix, Garden Herb pack, Spinach
FRONT: Red Radishes, Asparagus, Hon Tsai Tai , Green Garlic, Egyptian Walking Onions, Rhubarb
This picture was taken before I split the items with our neighbor so you can see what the size of a full share would look like.

New Recipes I made from this Box

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

Recipes Source: Whole Living Magazine
Ratings: Sina: 4.5, Ryan: 3.5 (he’s a hard critic)
Comments: This recipe was super easy to make. It took me about 5 minutes to prep it and the rest of cook time was for baking. It was delicious: very fresh and not too sweet.

Tex-Mex Salad

-Spring salad Mix topped with grilled seasoned chicken breasts, avocado, diced red peppers & tomatoes, canned no added salt black beans (drained and rinsed), canned no added salt corn (drained and rinsed) and topped with crumbled tortilla chips:
-Dressing: A mix of light sour cream, lime juice, avocado and taco seasoning (I didn’t measure the ingredients)
Ratings: Sina: 3.5 (Ryan wasn’t home for this meal. I had it with my friend Heather)
        

Fresh Egg Scrambles

Before I even write about this let me tell you about my egg scramble morning. My dear friend Brent came over for one of our routine brunch dates. We were really excited to do egg scrambles and diced red potatoes with herbs. We spent about an hour chopping everything before we turned on the oven to hear a constant DING, DING, DING noise. Even after hitting the off button multiple times it still kept coming back. So, we find the oven manual which tells us to turn the oven off. Not knowing how to turn a gas oven off we have to call my husband who’s at a bachelor party and get step-by-step instructions from his very handy friend on turning the gas line off and unplugging the appliance.  We thought about going out for brunch at this point but we were too determined to cook since all our food was chopped and ready to go. So, what comes to my mind but to use the grill.  Of course that didn’t go as planned either since  it wouldn’t heat over 275 (I found out later the gas connection was kinked). Check out the picture below. All I can say is thank you for the Cheez-it’s we bought on an impulse at the store since we had about 3 hours of waiting, cooking, stirring and more waiting before we had our slow cooked egg scrambles, which by the way were amazing. The slow cooking definitely paid off because these were the most fluffy tasting eggs I’ve ever had (although I can’t say I plan to make more eggs on the grill anytime soon).
So what were in the scrambles?
Egg scramble #1: Eggs whipped with skim milk and mixed with chopped green garlic & Egyptian walking onions then topped with sharp provolone cheese
Egg scramble #2: Eggs whipped with skim milk and chopped chives mixed in with leftover white cheese added at the end (not sure the type).
Breakfast Potatoes: Diced red potatoes, chives, herbs, salt, pepper and olive oil.
Rating: Sina: 5 (Ryan once again was gone for this meal)

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.

Food of the Month

This months featured food is so sensational that it has a catch phrase; the incredible edible egg (did I get the tune in your head…).  The egg has been a much debated food in the nutrition field. Once looked down upon for its cholesterol content it is now a beloved staple in most households and breakfast menus.  Eggs are extremely nutritious for us. They contain the most bio available form of protein (the highest quality of protein you can buy) and they pack in a lot of vitamins and minerals without a lot of calories. One large egg contains ~70 calories, ~6.3g protein. If you choose to just eat the egg white then you will consume 17 calories and 3.6g protein but you will also miss out on a lot of the vitamins and minerals found in the yolk. They can be enjoyed alone, in a casserole, on a salad, sandwich or in pasta (mmm…carbonara). Eggs play a key role in cooking with their ability to leaven, emulsify and bind. Just as important it is to know how your partner takes his or her coffee it is equally as important to ask “how do you like your eggs?” While I prefer them over easy or poached my husband prefers them over hard or hard boiled

My favorite breakfasts always contain eggs. They are a staple in our refrigerator and never make it to their expiration date. They are a great source of protein and keep you feeling satisfied for longer than most carbohydrate rich breakfasts.  With Mother’s Day less than a week away I wanted to share a scrumptious egg bake dish perfect for a mid morning brunch. This delicious recipe comes from my childhood neighbor Patti. The original recipe is for a cheese and sausage egg bake but I am going to post a vegetarian variation I made last year when I hosted Mother’s Day brunch.  It’s great for entertaining since you make it the night before.

Vegetable Egg Casserole

Serves:  10-12
Make the night before you plan to serve it

Ingredients

  • 12 eggs
  • 4 cups milk
  • 4 slices of bread, cubed
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 cup diced roasted red peppers
  • 1 bundle of asparagus cut up
  • 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup to 1 cup of grated cheddar cheese
  • You can add sausage as desired, sauté before adding

Directions

  1. Beat together the eggs and milk
  2. Break up the bread and layer it on the bottom of a greased 9 x 11 pan
  3. Add vegetables and cheese, salt and mustard
  4. Pour eggs over top of mixture
  5. Refrigerate over night
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for ~1 hour and 15-30 minutes or until it barely shakes in the middle
  7. Let it sit for ~ 5 minutes before cutting and serving
*To make the original sausage and cheese egg casserole saute the sausage and add in place of the vegetables
For another favorite egg dish check out January’s “weekend of food” post to see my poached eggs with manchego cheese, crushed red peppers and prosciutto breakfast. 

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

Spring Pasta: Campanelle with Apsaragus and Pecorino Cheese

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

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

Garganelli with Asparagus and Pecorino Romano

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

Power Granola

I’ve spent the past six days in Rosemary Beach, Florida with my husband and seven other great friends. During the time we were on vacation our lovely puppy got a vacation of her own running through the snow up north, eating pup cups and lots of cuddling by her grandparents. She’s still sleeping this evening from all the exercise (or depression of her parents coming back).
As a small token of thanks I decided to bake something for my amazing in-laws to enjoy. I’ve done most of my usuals for them: muffins, scones and cookies so to change it up I decided to try making homemade granola. Knowing that a lot of granolas are loaded with fat and calories I went to my favorite resource to aim me in the right direction: Cooking Light. The best part about this recipe was I had all the ingredients in my cabinet (with the exception of almonds which I replaced with sunflower seeds). Of course I didn’t follow the recipe verbatim. I doubled the cinnamon and sprinkled in All Spice for extra flavor. This granola was filled with spice and crunch and would be perfect on yogurt or mixed into your morning cereal.

Power Granola

Source: Cooking Light May 2005

      

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!

Cinnamon Chip Scones

Sharing recipes is key to expanding your repertoire of cooking abilities. Five years ago I received a recipe that has become a staple in my kitchen. The recipe came from my best friend who got it from her mom who received it from her coworker and who knows where before that. The original recipe is for Cinnamon Chip Scones but once you know the basic recipe you can modify it to make different flavors. I’ve tried apple walnut, pear, dried cherries with white chocolate chips and butterscotch and another new variety this past weekend. Cinnamon Chip are still my favorite but it’s always fun to experiment. Its a recipe you know will satisfy and a popular recipe to share. I know I can say I’ve shared it with at least 10 people if not more!

Cinnamon Chip Scones

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 6 Tbsp cold butter (no substitutes)
  • 1 cup (8ounces) vanilla yogurt
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp milk, divided
  • 1 cup cinnamon chips
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon.
  3. Cut in butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  4. Combine yogurt and 1/4 cup milk in separate bowl, stir into crumb mixture just until moistened.
  5. Knead in cinnamon chips (or other additives)
  6. On a greased baking sheet, pat the dough into a 9-10 inch circle. Cut into 8 wedges. Brush the top of each scone with the remaining two Tbsp of milk.
  7. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown
This past weekend I attempted yet another flavor twist for a Pampered Chef party. Since the people attending were all interested in cooking I knew they would be adventurous so I went with one batch of traditional Cinnamon Chip Scones and a batch of Coconut Banana Chocolate Chip scones.

Coconut Banana Chocolate Chip Scones

  • Add 1 banana sliced, 1/2 cup chocolate chips and 1/2 cup of coconut in place of the cinnamon chips.

 

Food of the Month

The coldest week of the year is about to commence and this month’s whole grain, fiber-rich food will keep you warm and full. If you haven’t guessed it yet; the food of the month is oatmeal.

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and oatmeal is the perfect food to make morning eating easy, quick, savory and healthy at approximately 140 calories per cup. It’s a great source of soluble fiber which helps lower blood cholesterol and prevent heart disease so before you hit the snooze alarm read on to learn a variety of flavors and different ways to eat this delicious food.
When it comes to a bowl of oatmeal there is something for everyone. You can choose from old fashioned, quick cooking or steel cut oats as your base. Next, consider what you are craving…crunchy, smooth, sweet??? For a crunch sprinkle in chopped walnuts, pecans or the Omega-3 rich flax seed. For smooth and savory flavors toss in a Tbsp of peanut or almond butter. To please that sweet tooth try fresh, frozen or dried fruit or try topping your oats with honey and ground cinnamon  (it adds flavor without calories). The combinations for this breakfast dish are endless.

Here are My Current Oatmeal Favorites

Instant Oatmeal: Trader Joe’s Organic Instant Oats & Flax Oatmeal: A perfect combination of smooth oatmeal with flax seed to add crunch and a nutty flavor.
Add ins: Frozen blueberries and soy milk: 3 ounces of soy milk added to my instant oats gives me a creamy cereal and the frozen blueberries are my go to in the winter (peaches and pears are also favorites of mine when they are in season).
Coffee Shop Oatmeal: Caribou’s Plain Seven Grain Oatmeal made with Soy Milk: (with cinnamon and nutmeg on top): Caribou did it right with the addition of their morning hot cereals. Their oatmeal balances crunchy and smooth in one bowl.

OATMEAL RECIPES

Oatmeal Blueberry Muffins– Cooking Light

Oatmeal Pancakes – Cooking Light

These pancakes are divine and remind me that whole grain pancakes can give just as big of cravings as the childhood pancakes my mom made. Even children will love this breakfast dish. Note to the cook: I recommend doubling the cinnamon or adding some nutmeg for more flavor. Lastly, to top the dish off I recommend my peach compote.

  • Peach Compote: Add 1/2 cup of water and 1/4 cup sugar to a sauce pan and heat until the sugar is dissolved. Next, add 1-2 cups of frozen peaches and let simmer for 5-10 minutes or until peaches are soft. Lastly, add 1-2 Tbsp all purpose flour to help thicken the sauce. Enjoy on top of your oatmeal with maple syrup.

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.

Food of the Month: Chili

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

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

Southwestern Chili

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

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chili (Vegetarian)

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

Chili Con Carne

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

Turkey and Bean Chili

Source: Cooking Light September 2010

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

Chicken Chili Recipe

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

Ingredients

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

Directions

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