December 29, 2014

Roasted Fennel

Roasted Fennel

1 bulb fennel
olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut off the green stems of the fennel. Reserve for another use (garnish or to flavor vegetable broth). Chop the white bulb into large chunks. Drizzle with olive oil and salt & pepper. Roast fennel for 30-40 minutes until browned on the edges and tender.

December 23, 2014

Gingerbread Cookies

This is the first time I've made gingerbread cookies. I thought they would be easier than sugar cookies to decorate with my toddler, simply because just using icing is fine. It's hard to find a good substitute for all the junky decorating supplies (dyes, corn syrup, etc.). The listed frosting recipe makes enough to decorate the cookies sparsely, like in my photo. If you wanted to cover each cookie, you may need to double the frosting recipe.

Gingerbread Cookies
from Dishing Up the Dirt

1/2 c. butter
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. molasses (blackstrap is fine)
1 1/2 tsp. vinegar (white or apple cider)
3 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. salt
1 egg, lightly beaten

Combine butter, sugar, molasses, and vinegar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil then turn off the heat and let cool. After cooling transfer to a large mixing bowl.
Sift together all the dry ingredients.
Stir egg into cooled molasses mixture. Gradually stir in the dry ingredients until the dough comes together.
Flatten dough out wrapped in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for about 1-2 hours.
Roll out the dough over a lightly floured surface until about 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes and place on a prepared baking sheet. Re-roll unused dough to make more cookies. Bake in a preheated 375 oven for 8 minutes.
Transfer to a cooling rack. Once cool, frost and decorate as desired.

Royal Icing
1 egg white
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 c. confectioner's (powdered) sugar, sifted

With a hand mixer, beat the egg white with the extract until frothy. Add the sifted powdered sugar and beat on low speed until combined, smooth, and shiny. Turn to high and beat approximately 5 minutes till stiff and glossy. Add food coloring, if desired, and transfer to a pastry bag to pipe onto cookies.

Egg Drop Soup

This is a very basic recipe for egg drop soup that I know I will make repeatedly because it is so easy. When possible, use homemade stock for maximum flavor and health benefits.

Egg Drop Soup

4 cups homemade chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon cornstarch or arrowroot powder
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 green onions, chopped
Salt and white pepper, to taste

In a small cup, make a slurry by combining the cornstarch and 2 tablespoons of chicken stock. Stir until dissolved. Bring remaining chicken stock, grated ginger and soy sauce to a boil. Slowly pour in the cornstarch mixture while stirring the stock, until thickened. Reduce heat to a simmer. Pour in the eggs slowly while stirring the soup in the same direction. The egg will spread and feather. Turn off the heat and add the green onions. Season with salt and pepper, and serve immediately.

September 16, 2014

Traditional Skills and Canning Salsa

Last week was a revival of traditional skills.

Canning! While I did get a good deal on a bushel of tomatoes, canning may make the most sense when you grow the food yourself. So for now, I see this as practice for the day when I have a garden. With a bushel of tomatoes, I made 20 quarts of quartered tomatoes and 8 pints of salsa. I also bought 2.5 pounds of tomatillos, which made 3 pints of salsa.

I also scored some free wild yeast sourdough starter from a baker at the farmer's market. While I want to master how to make my own starter, this allows me to start right off with using it to bake. So far I've made one whole-wheat loaf. It was good, but I've got a long way to go. Baking with sourdough is more about knowing the dough, so I've got my work cut out. I usually just follow a recipe without too much thought past that.

I bought 10 fresh whole chicken, and cut up most of them before freezing. Cutting up a whole chicken into parts isn't that difficult, but I still am learning the anatomy of the chicken. Some of those chickens have stray bones, or so it seems.

I also have been looking up information on how to save seeds. So far I have watermelon and cantalope. I tried it with a tomato, but I'm not so sure the fermenting process worked, so I threw them out. I might try saving the seeds from my mint plant as well.

Mild Tomato Salsa for Canning

10 cups, peeled, cored, chopped tomatoes
6 cups seeded, chopped peppers (use 2 or so jalapenos, the rest can be green bell peppers)
4 cups chopped onions
1 cup chopped cilantro
1 cup bottled lemon juice
3-4 tsp salt

Remove the tomato skins by cutting a small "x" on the bottom of each tomato and then drop them (in batches) in a pot of boiling water for about a minute. When the skins start to crack or peel, remove with a slotted spoon and put them in a large bowl or sink filled with ice water. The skins will easily peel off. Also cut out the core.

Chop up the tomatoes and put in a colander over a bowl to collect the juice. Squeeze the tomatoes to get out as much juice as possible. Put the juice in a large pot and bring to a simmer. Reduce the juice till thickened.

While juice is simmering, chop up peppers, onions, and cilantro. When juice is reduced and thickened, add the chopped tomatoes, peppers, onions, cilantro, lemon juice and salt to pot. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes. Add more salt, if needed.

Meanwhile, in a water bath canner, prepare 8 pint jars by submersing in water. Heat to almost boiling.

When salsa is ready, remove jars and fill with salsa, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Wipe rims clean and top with clean lids. Screw on rings.

Put jars back in water bath and boil with lid on for 15 minutes. Then remove the lid of the canner and let sit for 5 minutes. Remove the jars and allow to cool.

September 15, 2014

Chia Seed Fruit Salad

This is one of the most delicious sugar-free dishes I've eaten. If you use bananas it really reminds me of frog eye salad (a cool whip fruit salad), which I don't make any more.

Chia Seed Fruit Salad

4 cups of diced fruit (berries, bananas, pears, apples, oranges, peaches)
1/4 cup currants or chopped raisins
1/3 cup chia seeds
2 cups coconut milk (1 can)
1 orange, juiced and zested
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

Make this in one big bowl or four single serving dishes. To serving bowl (or bowls), add the fruit and currants. In a separate mixing bowl, combine the chia seeds, coconut milk, orange juice, orange zest, vanilla extract, and cinnamon. Stir to combine. Pour chia seed mixture over the fruit. Top with shredded coconut. Allow to set in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or overnight.

August 11, 2014

Corn and Cheddar Chowder

Summer corn is in season! Try this delicious soup that highlights corn.

Corn and Cheddar Chowder
adapted from Family Bites

1 lb new potatoes, diced and unpeeled
3 cups water
6-7 sprigs of fresh thyme or 1 tsp. dried thyme
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 large yellow onion
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon oil
4 cups of corn, scraped from 6-7 ears of corn
3 green onions
1 cup milk
1/3 cup cream
1 cup chicken stock
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
10 grinds fresh ground pepper
1 1/2 cups grated extra sharp cheddar cheese

Clean the potatoes and cut into bite-sized pieces. Place them in a soup pot and cover with the water, fresh thyme and salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Chop the onion. In a medium saucepan, heat butter and olive oil and add onion, sauteeing until translucent and slightly browned. While the onion cooks, remove the corn from the ears and set aside. Slice the green onions, ends removed, and set aside.

Once the onions have cooked add them to the potatoes. Also add the corn, green onions, milk, cream and stock. Bring to a boil and allow to bubble for 7-8 minutes. Add the cumin, paprika and pepper and stir well. Lower the heat and add the cheese, allowing it to melt completely. Serve and enjoy.

Jamaican Pork Tenderloin

This pork tenderloin recipe comes together so quickly but has great flavor without marinating.

Jamaican Pork Tenderloin
adapted from Joshua Trent

2 lb pork tenderloin
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
2 teaspoons brown sugar, coconut palm sugar, or sucanat
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon tomato paste
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoon honey

Preheat oven to 425°F.

In a bowl, combine the spice rub ingredients.

Pat the meat dry with paper towels. Tenderloins don't always come trussed, so if you have two pieces, tie them together lengthwise using kitchen string in about 5 or 6 sections.

Rub spice mixture over tenderloin and allow to rest for 15 minutes.

Sear tenderloin in a large oven-safe skillet set on medium-high heat, about 1-2 minutes per side, or until browned. While searing, mix the honey, tomato paste and vinegar in a small bowl. When ready for the oven, brush mixture on top of the meat.

Place the tenderloin, still in the skillet, in the oven. Cook until a probe thermometer reaches 140-145°F, about 15-20 minutes.

Remove from oven and let rest uncovered for 10-15 minutes. Remove string and slice into 1/2 inch slices.

July 31, 2014

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies with Chocolate

When I want to make a treat, usually I think chocolate and peanut butter. I can't help it! I recently discovered these peanut butter chocolate chip cookies with oats. The oats aren't very noticeable and add texture. Try chopped dark chocolate (the darker the better) instead of chocolate chips here or in any cookie recipe to slightly reduce sugar content and add more deliciousness.

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies with Chocolate
from Brown Eyed Baker

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar or sucanat
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips or chopped dark chocolate

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.

On medium speed, cream together the butter, peanut butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and beat to combine. On low speed, gradually add the flour until just combined. Stir in the oats, and then the chocolate chips.

Use a large cookie scoop (3 tablespoons) and drop dough onto prepared baking sheets about 2 inches apart. Flatten cookies slightly with fingers. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the cookies are lightly golden. Cool completely on the baking sheet and then store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Coconut Lime Cookies

These cookies are scrumptious!

Coconut Lime Cookies
adapted from Two Peas

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon grated lime zest
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
16 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into sixteen 1/2-inch pieces, at cool room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons cream cheese, at room temperature

1 tablespoon cream cheese, at room temperature
3 tablespoons lime juice
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 1/2 cups unsweetened finely shredded coconut

In bowl of standing mixer fitted with flat beater, mix flour, lime zest, sugar, and salt on low speed until combined, about 5 seconds. With mixer running on low, add butter 1 piece at a time; continue to mix until mixture looks crumbly and slightly wet, about 1 minute longer. Add vanilla and cream cheese and mix on low until dough just begins to form large clumps, about 30 seconds.

Use hands or a cookie scoop to roll dough into 1-inch balls. Place on parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing about 1 1/2 inches apart. Bake one batch at a time in 375-degree oven until lightly browned, about 12 minutes. Cool to room temperature.

Whisk cream cheese and 2 tablespoons lime juice in medium bowl until combined and no lumps remain. Whisk in confectioners' sugar until smooth, adding remaining lime juice as needed until glaze is thin enough to spread easily.

Dip tops of cookies into glaze and scrape away excess, then dip into coconut. Set cookies on parchment-lined baking sheet; let stand until glaze dries and sets, about 20 minutes.

Eggplant Parmesan

Eggplant parmesan never tasted so good as it did yesterday when I made it with this recipe. Yum!

Eggplant Parmesan
adapted from Martha Stewart

1 large egg
1 cup plain dry breadcrumbs (make your own by toasting stale homemade bread and then putting it in a food processor)
3/4 cup finely grated Parmesan, plus 2 tablespoons for topping
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
Coarse salt and ground pepper
2 large eggplants (2 1/2 pounds total), peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch rounds
4 cups tomato sauce
8 oz. thinly sliced or shredded fresh mozzarella

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brush 1 or 2 baking sheets with olive oil; set aside. In a wide, shallow bowl, whisk together egg and 1 tablespoons water. In another bowl, combine breadcrumbs, 3/4 cup Parmesan, oregano, and basil; season with salt and pepper.

Dip eggplant slices in egg mixture, letting excess drip off, then dredge in breadcrumb mixture, coating well; place on baking sheets. Bake until golden brown on bottom, 20 to 25 minutes. Turn slices; continue baking until browned on other side, 15 to 20 minutes more. Remove from oven; raise oven heat to 400 degrees.

Spread 1 cup sauce in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Depending on how much eggplant you have, arrange the eggplant all in the bottom of the dish OR only use half the eggplant. Cover the eggplant layer with sauce and mozzarella. If using two layers of eggplant, place the other layer of eggplant on top, and top with more sauce and mozzarella. Sprinkle the top with remaining 2 tablespoons Parmesan. Bake until sauce is bubbling and cheese is melted, 15 to 20 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

July 24, 2014

Coriander Radish Noodles

I made this dish last spring but never posted it. This year when I saw breakfast radishes again at the farmer's market, I remembered this dish and made it again. When I remember something I've made only once, I know I have to permanently remember it by posting it here.

Coriander Radish Noodles
from Heidi Swanson

12 ounces dried soba noodles
3/4 cup slivered breakfast radishes, reserve tops
3/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt, or to taste
1 medium shallot, thinly sliced
1/4 cup brown rice wine vinegar
1/8 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 small clove garlic
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh (or dried) coriander seeds
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika
poached eggs, one per person

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the water generously, and cook the soba noodles per package instructions. Drain and rinse under cold water until cool.

In the meantime, place the radishes in a small bowl and toss with 1/8 teaspoon of salt, and set aside. Place the shallots in a separate small bowl with the vinegar and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Set aside as well.

Place the garlic in a mortar and pestle, sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of the sea salt, and mash into a paste. Add the sesame and fresh coriander seeds, and pound together. If using dried coriander seeds, toast in a dry skillet until fragrant before using. Work in the olive oil gradually, then the paprikas, and blend until uniform.

To serve, place the soba noodles in large bowl, and arrange the radishes across the top. Trim the stems from the radish tops you reserves, and chiffonade into thin ribbons (~1/2 cup). Add them as well. Add the shallot-vinegar mixture and toss well. Drizzle with the sesame-paprika paste, and garnish with sesame seeds. Taste and season with more salt if needed. Optional, serve topped with soft-poached eggs.

Ottolenghi's Spinach Salad with Dates, Almonds, and Pita

This is one of the most delicious salads I have ever eaten, but please do not skip the sumac. It's a middle eastern spice that's hard to substitute.

Ottolenghi's Spinach Salad with Dates, Almonds, and Pita

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
3 1/2 ounces dates (100 grams or 5-6 dates),preferably Medjool, pitted and quartered lengthwise
2 tablespoons unsalted butter (30 grams)
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 small pitas (about 3 1/2 ounces, or 100 grams), roughly torn into 1 1/2 -inch pieces
1/2 cup whole unsalted almonds (75 grams), coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons sumac
1/2 teaspoon chile flakes
5 to 6 ounces baby spinach leaves (150 grams)
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Put vinegar, onion and dates in a small bowl. Add a pinch of salt and mix well with your hands. Leave to marinate for 20 minutes, then drain any residual vinegar and discard.

Meanwhile, heat butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium frying pan over medium heat. Add pita and cook for 4 to 6 minutes, stirring all the time, until pita is golden. Add almonds and continue cooking until pita is crunchy and browned and almonds are toasted and fragrant, about 2 minutes more. Remove from heat and mix in sumac, chile flakes and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Set aside to cool.

When ready to serve, toss spinach leaves with pita mix in a large mixing bowl. Add dates and red onion, remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, the lemon juice and another pinch of salt. Taste for seasoning and serve immediately.

March 19, 2014

Chicken Legs in Tomato Gravy with Mashed Potatoes

I just finished reading (most of) Cooked by Michael Pollan. Like my experience reading other books by Pollan, I came away amazed, enlightened, and ready to change. (After reading a book a month for five years for a book club, I asked other members what book changed their life, if any. I don't remember if anyone else had an answer, but mine was In Defense of Food by Pollan, and I couldn't quite understand why no one else had been impacted like me.) In Cooked, I learned why wild yeast sourdough bread is the healthiest bread and all about the role bacteria plays in our bodies and why we should eat more of it, like fermented foods (the modern diet is almost devoid of bacteria). But those are topics for another day. The one for today is braising.

One section of Cooked is devoted to the power of water in cooking. Braising (to cook food slowly in fat and a small amount of liquid in a covered pot) can transform seemingly hopeless cuts of meat into divine morsels. I realized braising was not a technique I really use at all in cooking, so when I saw this recipe for a chicken braise, I was motivated to try it. I made this last night; my life is changed. I certainly have used similar ingredients (chicken, onions, carrots, celery, garlic, tomatoes, water) to create other dishes, but this has to be the tastiest one-pot dish I've made or eaten ever or at least in a long time. Really, it was quite amazing.

I need more braises in my life! If you have any to share, please do. I'll definitely be on the lookout. My next will be for a grass-fed chuck steak I just bought directly from a family farm. I just bought a little beef from him to make sure I liked it (I've had some grass-fed beef that was not worth repeating), but I'm hoping to be back for more soon. And since it's more expensive than run-of-the-mill grocery store beef, cheaper cuts are all I can afford. Braising is the process to turn those cuts into something magical.

Chicken Legs in Tomato Gravy with Mashed Potatoes
adapted from Food52

olive oil
4 chicken legs (drumstick and thigh attached or separated), skin-on
1 cup celery, diced
1 1/2 cup yellow onion, diced
1 1/2 cup carrots, thinly sliced on a bias
4 to 6 garlic cloves, chopped
1 cup dry white wine or chicken broth
2 cups tomato purée
1 cup water
1 1/2 tablespoon rosemary, minced OR 2 tsp. dried rosemary
2 bay leaves
kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
mashed potatoes, for serving

Season the chicken on all sides with salt and pepper. Heat the oven to 375˚ F. Place a large sauté pan that is oven-safe over medium heat. Add enough olive oil to the pan so that the bottom is just coated. Add the chicken legs and brown them generously on all sides. Adjust the heat as necessary. Add the carrots, celery, and onions to the pan, and season with salt and pepper.  Make sure the heat is on medium or lower so that it takes a long time for them to soften. Don't let the vegetables brown. Once the veggies are very soft, add the garlic and rosemary. Stir the veggies around and once the garlic is fragrant nestle the chicken legs comfortably with the veggies.  Add the white wine or chicken broth and let it reduce to almost nothing. While the liquid is reducing use a wooden spoon to scrape up all the good bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Add tomato puree, water, and bay leaves. Bring the liquid to a boil, cover with a "lid" made out of parchment, then slide it into the heated oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour.  Serve over mashed potatoes.

February 20, 2014

Anise Butter Cookies

I love anise, but haven't run across many recipes that call for aniseed. These butter cookies were delightful, but with just a hint of anise.

Anise Butter Cookies
from Mediterranean Harvest by Martha Rose Shulman

12 Tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 c. sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon finely chopped lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons aniseeds, crushed in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder
2 1/4 all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter with the sugar until fluffy and pale, about 4 minutes. Scrape down the bowl and beaters. Add the egg, lemon zest, vanilla and aniseeds, and beat together.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. On low speed, beat into the butter mixture, just until combined. Gather the dough into a ball, then press down to a 1-inch thickness. Wrap tightly in plastic and refrigerate overnight or for up to 3 days, or place in the freezer for 1 to 2 hours. Alternatively (if you don’t want to roll out the dough), remove spoonfuls of half of the dough and plop them down the middle of a piece of parchment paper to create a log about 2 inches in diameter. Fold the parchment up around the log to and refrigerate for 2 hours or longer. Repeat with the remaining dough.

Preheat the oven to 350 F with the rack adjusted to the lowest setting. Line baking sheets with parchment.

Cut the dough into 2 or 4 pieces, and roll out one piece at a time on a lightly floured work surface, to about ¼-inch thick. Cut into circles or shapes, dipping the cutter into flour between each cut, and place 1 inch apart on the baking sheet. Keep the remaining pieces of dough in the refrigerator or freezer.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, turning the baking sheets front to back halfway through. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack.

Honey Peanut Butter Bars

I bought puffed rice for a recipe, but it really called for crisp rice cereal. I searched for a recipe using puffed rice and found this one. Since I made it I've been craving more and will make some soon.

Honey Peanut Butter Bars
adapted from She Bakes Here

1 cup natural peanut butter
2 tbsp maple syrup
1/4 cup melted honey
3 - 3 1/2 cups puffed wheat or rice cereal
1/4 cup chocolate, melted

Line a 8x8 inch square pan with parchment paper. In a large bowl, stir together peanut butter, maple syrup and honey with a wooden spoon.

Stir in puffed wheat or rice cereal and mix until the cereal is lightly coated. Using the back of the spoon, press the mixture evenly into the square pan.

Put the pan in the freezer for 25 minutes until the bars have hardened.

Grab hold of the parchment paper and gently lift the bars out of the pan. Using a sharp knife, cut the bars into even rectangles. Drizzle with melted chocolate.

Store bars in an airtight container in the fridge.

Big Yummy Bowl

This salad is absolutely delicious. My toddler loved it too - she cleaned her plate in record time. This photo is after her second plateful. Doesn't she look happy? The original recipe was called Big Vegan Bowl, but the fact that it is vegan is irrelevant. It's a big YUMMY bowl!

Big Yummy Bowl
from Oh She Glows

1 large sweet potato, chopped into 3/4-inch cubes
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (about 1.5 cups)
olive oil
spices: garlic powder, chili powder, cumin, cayenne
1 cup uncooked quinoa
1 large carrot, peeled and julienned
purple cabbage or vegetable of choice, shredded
couple handfuls of greens for the base (optional)
lots of hummus
sliced avocado
hulled hemp seeds (optional)

Preheat oven to 400F and line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
Spread out the chopped sweet potato on one sheet. Drizzle with 1/2 tablespoon of oil or so and toss the potatoes until coated. Sprinkle with fine grain sea salt.

For the roasted chickpeas: Drain and rinse the chickpeas and then place on a large tea towel and pat until completely dry. Discard any skins that fall off. Transfer the chickpeas to the baking sheet and drizzle with 1/2 teaspoon oil. Rub them around with your hands until lightly coated. Generously sprinkle with fine grain sea salt and your favorite spices, like garlic powder, chili powder, cumin, cayenne, and salt. Toss gently to combine.

Place both the sweet potato and chickpeas into the preheated oven. Roast for 15 minutes at 400F and then remove both. Flip the sweet potatoes and gently roll around the chickpeas. Place back in the oven for another 15 minutes or so, watching closely during the last 5 minutes. When the chickpeas are golden and the sweet potatoes are lightly browned on the bottom and fork tender, they are ready to come out.

Meanwhile, cook the quinoa while the roasting is going on. In a fine mesh sieve, rinse the quinoa and then place in a medium pot. Add in 1.5 cups of water and stir. Bring the mixture to a low boil and then reduce the heat to low/medium and cover with lid. Simmer, covered, for about 14-17 minutes (you can check after 13 minutes), until all of the water is absorbed and the quinoa is fluffy. Remove from heat and leave the lid on to steam for another 5-10 minutes or longer if needed. Fluff with fork.

Assemble the bowl: Add a couple handfuls of greens into a large shallow bowl. When the roasted veggies and chickpeas are done, allow the chickpeas to cool for 5 minutes and then add them on the salad followed by the sliced avocado, hummus, shredded veggies, and hemp seeds. Serve immediately.

January 30, 2014

Bolognese Sauce

This sauce is delicious and easy, and, served over pasta with cheese, is the kind of meal I crave on a cold winter night.

Bolognese Sauce
adapted from The Pioneer Woman

1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup carrots, grated
1 onion, diced
1 pound ground beef
1 Tbsp. dried oregano
1 Tbsp. dried basil
4 Tbsp. tomato paste
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup vegetable or chicken stock
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire or soy sauce
1 can (28 ounce) whole tomatoes
1/2 cup milk, optional
salt and pepper, to taste
freshly grated Parmesan or Romano Pecorino cheese

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven or skillet over medium heat. Add grated carrots and onions and cook for a few minutes. Make a well in the center of the mixture, and then add in the ground beef. Cook for a few minutes until brown, gradually stirring it into the carrot mixture.

Add oregano and basil. When the meat is browned and combined with other ingredients, make another well. Add tomato paste and let it heat. Add garlic and stir to combine.
Make a well in the center of the mixture and add stock. Stir together. Add Worcestershire or soy sauce and stir. Add canned tomatoes. Finally, pour in milk, stir, and let simmer for 30 minutes, up to 2 hours.

Serve with pasta and Parmesan or Romano Pecorino cheese.

January 16, 2014

Broccoli and Cheddar Frittata

I don't use broccoli nearly enough in my cooking and was pleasantly surprised with this frittata. Broccoli and cheddar really are a delicious classic flavor combo.

Broccoli and Cheddar Frittata
adapted from Ellie Krieger

6 large eggs
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 small red onion, sliced (about 1 cup)
2 cups chopped cooked broccoli (steam for a few minutes)
1/4 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup shredded extra-sharp cheddar (2 ounces)

In a medium bowl, add the eggs and whisk until combined. Set aside.

In a medium ovenproof nonstick skillet heat the oil over a medium flame. Add the onion and cook until it begins to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the broccoli and cook for another 2 minutes. Season with salt and a few turns of pepper. Pour the egg mixture over the vegetables in the skillet covering them evenly. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and let cook until the egg mixture has set around the edges but is somewhat liquid in the middle, about 8 minutes. Sprinkle with the cheese.

Meanwhile, preheat the broiler. Place the skillet under the broiler about 2 inches from the heat until the surface is set and golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Be careful not to overcook or the egg mixture will become tough.

Spritz Cookies

I have a cookie press, but have only used it a few times. This Christmas I thought it would be fun to decorate cookies with my toddler. She did think it was fun, but all she could really do was sprinkle on the coconut. I kept the cookies mostly out of her reach except for the one we were decorating, but she still managed to snatch two and put them in her mouth before I could stop her.

Spritz Cookies
adapted from Wilton

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 cups butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

In bowl, combine flour and baking powder. In large bowl, beat butter and sugar with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add egg, milk, vanilla and almond extract; mix well. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture; beat until combined. Do not chill. Fill cookie press with dough and with desired disks, press cookies onto ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake 10-12 minutes or until edges are light golden brown. Cool 2 minutes on cookie sheet on cooling rack. Remove from sheet; cool completely.

1 egg white
3 c powdered sugar
2-3 Tbsp water, if needed

Whisk egg white till frothy. Add powdered sugar and water (if needed) till thick and smooth. Add coloring as desired. Use shortly after making as the frosting will harden in 1 to 2 hours.

January 7, 2014


Naan is a type of Indian flatbread, usually served warm and brushed with ghee (clarified butter). It's so good, but warm bread always is. Feel free to leave out the cumin and garlic if the flavors don't work with the rest of your meal.

from Sprouted Kitchen

2 cups white or white whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup of warm milk
1/2 cup of yogurt
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
ghee or coconut oil

Mix all the dry ingredients together and make a well of flour.

Mix milk and yogurt together and pour half of it into the well and slowly combine it together.

Add the liquid slowly and combine it all together slowly until a soft dough is made. The dough should be soft and tender. If dough sticks to your hand, use little bit of oil.

Cover with damp cloth and let it sit in a warm place for at least 2 hours.

Preheat a heavy bottomed, seasoned skillet or cast iron. Flour your work surface and knead the dough a few times, working in the minced garlic. Divide the dough into 6 to 8 pieces. Roll them out into a thin, oblong or round shape. Brush one side with water and add it to the pan, damp side down. Cook for about one minute until it browns, flip and cook the other side for another minute or two. Once lightly browned, run it over an open flame on the stove to get a few char marks. Brush the warm bread with a thin layer of ghee or coconut oil and a pinch of salt. Repeat with remaining dough. Keep covered with a dish cloth until ready to serve.

Flourless Chocolate Cake

I don't know how many flourless chocolate cake recipes I've tried - too many. I still am on the search for a better one - but this one will do for now. I'm tired of trying something new each time, so I wanted to document this one. It's easy and uses ingredients I have on hand.

Have you tried cacao powder? It retains more health benefits than cocoa powder, though seem of these are lost when heated, like baked in this cake. I've successfully used cacao powder in many different recipes to replace cocoa powder.

Flourless Chocolate Cake
adapted from Epicurious 

4 ounces fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened)
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder or cacao powder

Preheat oven to 375°F and butter an 8-inch round baking pan. Line bottom with a round of wax paper and butter paper.

Chop chocolate into small pieces. In a double boiler or metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water melt chocolate with butter, stirring, until smooth. Remove top of double boiler or bowl from heat and whisk sugar into chocolate mixture. Add eggs and whisk well. Sift 1/2 cup cocoa powder over chocolate mixture and whisk until just combined. Pour batter into pan and bake in middle of oven 25 minutes, or until top has formed a thin crust. Cool cake in pan on a rack 5 minutes and invert onto a serving plate.

Dust cake with additional cocoa powder or powdered sugar and serve with sorbet if desired. Cake keeps, after being cooled completely, in an airtight container, 1 week.

Spinach and Mushroom Stuffed Shells

Baked cheesy pasta is always welcome in cold winter months. We don't eat pasta that much, so I don't worry about the refined flour in it.

Spinach and Mushroom Stuffed Shells
from What Megan's Making

Kosher salt
8 ounces (about 20) jumbo pasta shells
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling and brushing
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 ounces white mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 10-ounce package frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil or 1 tsp. dried basil

For the sauce (or use any tomato sauce you have on hand)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
Large pinch of red pepper flakes
1 28-ounce can whole plum tomatoes, crushed by hand
Kosher salt

For the stuffed shells: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta shells and cook until slightly softened but still firm, about 7-10 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water. Drizzle with olive oil and toss; set aside.

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, 30 seconds. Add the mushrooms and cook, undisturbed, until golden in spots, about 2 minutes. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are soft, about 5 more minutes. Add the spinach and stir until heated through, about 2 minutes. Let cool completely.

Finely chop the spinach-mushroom mixture and combine in a bowl with the ricotta cheese, mozzarella, Parmesan, egg, basil and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Stuff each shell with about 2 tablespoons of the filling; set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

For the tomato sauce: Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, fennel seeds and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, until lightly golden, about 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes, then rinse out the can with 1 cup water and add to the skillet; add 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bring to a simmer and cook until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a blender and puree until smooth.

Brush a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with olive oil and pour in half of the tomato sauce. Add the stuffed shells, then top with the remaining tomato sauce. Cover with aluminum foil and bake 25 minutes; uncover and continue baking until bubbly, 15 to 20 more minutes. Sprinkle with some extra mozzarella and Parmesan and bake 5 more minutes, or until cheese is melted.

January 4, 2014

Orange Ricotta Pancakes

I love just about every pancake I make, but my husband is harder to impress. He loves these ricotta pancakes, and I do too, but that's not news.

Orange Ricotta Pancakes
adapted from Sweet Peas Kitchen

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1 cup ricotta cheese
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Maple syrup

In medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, ricotta cheese, milk, orange juice, butter, and orange zest; set aside.

Make a well in center of the dry ingredients; pour in milk mixture and whisk very gently until just combined (a few lumps should remain). Do not over mix.

Heat a skillet or griddle over medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes; add a small pat of butter and coat the pan. Pour a 1/3 cup of batter on the pan and cook until large bubbles begin to appear, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Using a thin, wide spatula, flip pancakes and cook until golden brown on second side, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes longer. Repeat with remaining batter. Serve warm with maple syrup.