Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Apple Pie Quinoa

Full disclosure: I invented this recipe in a desperate need to figure out ways to use a gallon of apple juice that was purchased to make cider for a party that never got put out. I found myself with a giant glass jug of apple juice in a two person household that never drink juice. You know I love a sweet quinoa, so when I woke up on this cold and rainy morning craving something warm and comforting, inspiration struck! Why not cook the quinoa in the cider and see how the flavor gets absorbed? I have to say it turned out even better than I'd imagined, and I think this could be a really healthy, gluten free, vegan alternative to an apple pie (if one were so inclined). It also made for that warm and comforting breakfast I craved.

Apple Pie Quinoa (serves 2) 
1 cup quinoa
2 cups apple juice
1/2 apple (sweeter varieties work best)
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon lemon juice 

Slice the 1/2 apple into bite size pieces (about an inch thick). Add quinoa, apple, and apple juice into a large saucepan and bring to a boil. After boiling, turn burner to low and add cinnamon and lemon juice. Let the mixture simmer until quinoa and apples are soft (about 15 minutes). If you are not concerned with this being particularly low in sugar or vegan, I imagine a dollop of whipped cream on top would make it a really pretty and extra delicious dessert.

Shredded Brussels Sprouts

Ah the Brussels sprout! It has to be the #1 vegetable in the category of once hated and then loved. How many people dreaded the sight of this steamed plant on their plates as children and have come to love it in its far better conceived perfectly roasted variation? I am one of those people that used to hate Brussels sprouts until I discovered Ina Garten's recipe of simply dousing them in olive oil, salt, and pepper and roasting them for 20 minutes. That being said, I never really do anything else with them, until I came across several recipes that suggested shredding them. I decided to start off with the simple and very french idea just sautee those shredded leaves in butter and see what happens. Man it worked! This is an excellent side dish and the sprouts take on an almost green bean like flavor. Definitely a crowd pleaser to bring to a potluck or even an alternative to a traditional Thanksgiving dish.

Shredded Brussels Sprouts
1 pound Brussels Sprouts
3 tablespoons butter
salt and pepper to taste

Begin sliding the Brussels sprouts on the mandolin to shave them into thin little shreds. You will inevitably lose some of that pound of sprouts, and that's ok! You can compost those nubby ends and the recipe assumes you'll lose a lot. Once you have your little hill of shredded Brussels sprouts. Begin sauteing the butter in a large frying pan until mostly melted. Toss in the shredded Brussels sprouts and turn the burner to medium-low. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste (don't be shy with that salt!) and once the shredded sprouts are soft and just starting to brown, they're done. Serve hot!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Breakfast Quinoa

It's that time of year when all that I want when I get out of bed in the morning is something warm to fill my belly. The only problem is that oatmeal gets old. That processed instant crap that is full of sugar is just no good for you and sometimes there's no level of flavor change up that gets me passed the boredom with that steel cut oat texture day after day. Luckily I attended a fantastic nutrition workshop at Yoga District Tea Lodge this past spring that had a fantastic idea for changing it up, breakfast quinoa! It's hearty and comforting the same way that oatmeal is, but can be a nice switch up to the texture routine. You can add a lot of different flavor combinations to it, but below is my favorite maple almond blueberry combo. If you're generally weirded out at the idea of a sweet flavored quinoa, just try it once and I have a feeling you will be sold.

Almond Blueberry Breakfast Quinoa
(serves 2)
1 cup quinoa
1.75 cups water
15 dried blueberries
1 tablespoon maple syrup (make sure it's really maple syrup and not corn syrup in disguise!)
1/2 cup sliced almonds
Boil water and then add quinoa and dried blueberries to the pot. Note that the sweetness of blueberry is going to permeate all of the grains, so if you are choosing a tarter berry you might want to hold off on adding it until the quinoa is cooked. Let it simmer until quinoa is soft (about 12 minutes). The quinoa doesn't need a lot of attention, so feel free to spend this time making your lunch or other morning routine activities. After the quinoa is cooked, scoop it into a bowl and drizzle with a teaspoon of maple syrup and quarter cup of almonds in each bowl. Enjoy!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Garbanzo Bean "tuna" Salad

I'm back to my whatever I can smear on a cracker phase. For years I was a huge tuna salad eater. It was one of the first things my mom taught me to make and it was a quick and easy meal on my shoe string college budget. Then I learned about mercury poisoning, over fishing, dolphins in nets, you know the list and sought to drastically reduce my seafood consumption (or at least save it for really special sushi restaurant occasions, see Sushi Taro). While learning more about vegan and vegetarian alternatives, I stumbled across the approach of using macerated garbanzo beans (or chick peas as I've learned to call them on the East Coast) in lieu of tuna for a great "tuna" salad. The inspiration for this particular recipe came from Sticky Fingers former menu item the "tuna" melt. I don't know that I've fully recreated their amazing dish, but it's pretty close. As you can see above I usually pile the salad on a cracker along with some sliced up cherry tomatoes for a really delicious and filling lunch.

Garbanzo Bean "tuna" Salad
1 can garbanzo beans
1 carrot, sliced
1 celery stalk, diced
2 tablespoons onion, diced
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1/2 teaspoon salt
pinch of pepper
2 tablespoons mayonaise or veganaise

Combine garbanzo beans and carrots into a food processor and mash on high until it's a nice thoroughly mashed substance. Scoop mixture into a bowl and add diced celery and onion, mayo/vego, garlic powder, paprika, celery seed, salt and pepper. Mix with a fork until all the mayo/vego chunks have been thoroughly spread out. Serve with crackers, tortilla, chips, or make into a sandwich. Essentially do anything you'd do with tuna salad, enjoy!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Delicious Green Juice

I try not to be too over the top with the weirdo healthy stuff on this blog (and believe me that I have had many failures that I never subjected you to), but when done the right way, green juice can be so delicious! This is the prime time of farmers market abundance in the DC area to make really tremendous green juice and I wanted to share my tried and true formula for a sweet and pleasant tasting juice that is loaded with all of the healthy nutrients from lots of green veggies.

Delicious Green Juice
1/4 organic water melon, cut into slices with rind (If you are not able to find an organic watermelon, cut the rind off)
1 bunch kale with stems still on
5 stalks of celery cut into 1 inch pieces
1 apple, sliced
Juice of 1 lime
If watermelon is unavailable, simply add 3 additional apples for sweetness. The core of this ratio is one part sweet, one part green, one part celery, and one part citrus (can be lemon or lime).

My best piece of advice for juicing is to prepare everything before you turn the juicer on. Have everything handy and available and make sure the pieces are small enough to prevent overloading your juicer. Mine is particularly finicky around the stringy celery stalks, so I cut those extra small. Once you're ready, start feeding all ingredients through the juicer with the exception of the lime. Once all ingredients are juiced, squeeze the juice of one lime and enjoy.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Recipe Round Up

Recipes from around the internet that I'm currently getting excited to try:

Sunchoke Kale Hash with Farro from Food and Wine

It looks so hearty and this is just in time for the first week sunchokes will be available at several markets in the area. Local and fresh is always best!

Cauliflower and Leek Puree from Every Day with Rachel Ray

A variation on this dish with no breadcrumbs and less butter is all the rage on several paleo recipe sites. I have had moderate to 0 success with most paleo options, but apparently failure does not deter me!

Turnip Green Salsa Verde from Dan Barber via Food and Wine

This actually comes from a very interesting article Chef Barber contributed to the magazine regarding eating more sustainable vegetables from a soil degradation perspective. I was ignorant to the fact that tomatoes and carrots are soil nutrient drainers while brassicas and turnips are great for returning nitrogen to the soil. It's a great read.

Apricot Breakfast Popsicles from Serious Eats

Just in time for this warm start to September. 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Lunch on the Go - Kale Wraps

Sometimes it's time to bite the bullet and go uber healthy. For example, you spent the end of your summer eating and drinking your way from Charleston to Hilton Head and back and it's time to reel it in and make some responsible dietary choices for a while. This is my favorite delicious lunch that is loaded with tons of vegetables, proteins, but super low-carb. Wrapping them up tightly and storing them in a small tupperware with no extra room as you see above is the key to making to work with them still in tact. I also think using the delicate lacinto/dino kale instead of the curly leafy varieties really cuts out that bitter raw kale taste. If you prefer a different combination of vegetables to tomato, cucumber, carrot, scallion, and avocado feel free to mix and match. The only limit is how much you can stuff in that kale leaf. They are so tasty you won't even notice you're eating something so healthy.

Kale Wraps
3 leaves of lacinto (dino) kale in tact with bottom stem removed
1/2 avocado
1/2 medium sized tomato, sliced and then divide each slice into quarters
1/4 cup carrot shavings (use a vegetable peeler to shave off slivers)
1/4 cup cucumber, sliced and then divide each slice into quarters
1 tablespoon spring onions, diced
1/4 cup hummus
Start by preparing everything as listed above so you're ready to just assembly line this task. I recommend making each wrap one at a time and placing them into the tupperware as they are rolled up. Spread a tablespoon and a half or so of hummus onto the kale leaf. It should cover the whole thing. Start arranging your veggies. I prefer slicing the avocado on the bottom layer, then drizzling in tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, and scallions. Start rolling from the bottom end where the stem was removed and then immediately place in tupperware. Repeat that process for remaining two wraps and pack them up very tightly! If this all falls apart, you can always mix it all up into a salad when you are ready to eat it. It's all still delicious in whatever form it winds up in, but there's something nice about the wrap shape if you can achieve it.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Summer Salad with Potatoes and Avocado Dill Dressing

Adapted from Marie Simmons Fresh & Fast Vegetarian

Going with the creamy, but not-too-rich theme of the month, I want to share my new most favorite salad dressing in the world. Behold the wonder of Marie Simmons Avocado Dill dressing. It's in the same vein as tatziki, in that it's not overly heavy and would be a great dip for vegetables or a side sauce or drizzled on any protein. I discovered it as the dressing in her recipe for this beautiful summer salad that has enough potatoes to be a full meal by itself. It's not a quick throw together at the last minute type of deal, but look at how pretty it is! It's just as elegant an experience to eat it and peel through the layers with that amazing creamy dill dressing in every bite.

Summer Salad with Potatoes and Avocado Dill Dressing
1/2 avocado
3 tablespoons cup greek yogurt
1.5 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/4 cup dill, chopped
1/4 cup cucumbers, roughly chopped, seeds removed
1 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
The rest of that cucumber, sliced
2 tomatoes sliced
1/2 pound potatoes (I used a combination of gold and purple yukons, which added some nice color)
1/4 cup onions sliced thin with a mandolin if available
1/4 cup radishes, sliced thin with a mandolin, again, if available
1/2 pound greens of your choice

Boil a pot of water and toss the potatoes in there to start cooking and then start making the dressing. Toss avocado, greek yogurt, mayonnaise, dill, and 1/4 cup of rough chopped cucumbers, and salt into food processor and blend until very creamy. Scoop it into a bowl and cover before setting in the fridge to chill. After the potatoes have softened (probably about 20 minutes of boiling depending on size), set them aside to cool as you prepare additional vegetables. Slice tomatoes and cucumbers into 1/2 slices and sprinkle with a hit of salt. Mandolin the onions and radishes, but make sure to leave the onions separate. The pretty presentation depends on the onions resting daintily on top.

After potatoes have cooled, slice them into 1/4 inch slices and set aside. Grab plates and you can start layering. Start spooning the dressing onto the plate and swirl in circles until it's about a inch away from the edges. Place the potatoes down directly in the dressing arranged in a circle before layering the tomatoes, cucumbers, and radishes on top. Drizzle with a little more dressing before topping with the greens and thinly sliced onions and yet another drizzle of dressing. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Simply Delicious Tatziki

I had one of those beautiful, it's not just me, moments this past weekend while I was camping with a dear friend who mentioned how overwhelmed she got when googling for a simple tatziki recipe. Either the portions are insane, there is clearly too much garlic, or some weird obscure ingredient that you'd never thought would be in this simple Greek sauce. Even some of the tried and true corners of the internet that usually have great recipes seem to over-complicate, so I decided to mess around with portions until I found a consistency and flavor I liked.

This is what I came up with and it's pretty great, if I do say so myself. Add this to anything that needs a little luscious creaminess without a ton of fat. I put it on simple veggie kebobs Sunday night and it was the healthiest and tastiest meal I had all week.

This is a side dish that will sauce a meal for approximately 6 people. If you have extra, use it as a delicious veggie dip. It's a crowd pleaser!

Simply Delicious Tatziki 

1.5 cups greek yogurt (I used Fage non-fat, but feel free to use any fat content you like. Full fat yogurt might require less olive oil)
1 tablespoon dill (yes, that is a lot, trust me)
1/4 cup cucumber, sliced (about 8 slices of a large cuke)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 a garlic clove

Combine all ingredients into food processor and blend on high until the cucumbers are just slivers. If you prefer a creamier sauce, add a touch more olive oil and continue to blend until it reaches the desired consistency.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Lunch on the Go - Serious Eats 17 Fresh and Healthy Recipe Ideas

Head over to Serious Eats today for a look at 17 excellent fresh and healthy recipe ideas. I plan on trying this Brown Rice Bowl with Charred and Nutty Romesco ASAP. Serious Eats is a great place for recipe ideas and food news from around the US.

Cajun Style Ooey Gooey Green Bean Casserole

Sometimes you just need something warm and comforting that barely counts as healthy. This has got lots of green beans and veg that adds flavor, but the predominate feature is the cream. Yummy rich cream that bakes into a gooey delight. Make this for yourself the next time you want something decadent, but want to at least get some nutrients with all of that fat. I was inspired by an episode of Diners Drive-ins and Dives feature on the Old Coffeepot Restaurant's Big Easy Green Bean Casserole. That recipe is here on the food network website, but you must always remember that no one tries those before they post the video, so they always need some adaptation. My version uses vinho verde instead of sherry and coconut oil instead of butter. The idea of using artichoke hearts and bell peppers in the stock base was brilliant and gave this a true Cajun flavor, that I love! I left out the carrots to keep the sweetness down and didn't regret it.

Cajun Style Ooey Gooey Green Bean Casserole
1 pound green beans, trimmed and snapped in half
1 quart heavy cream
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1/4 cup artichoke heart bottoms, diced
1/4 cup bell peppers, diced
1 small onion, diced
2 large stalks celery, diced
1/2 cup cremini mushrooms, diced
1/2 cup white wine(I used vinho verde, just go with what you have)
2 cups vegetable stock (maybe the Joe Yonan version you made at home)
1 tablespoon corn starch
1/2 cup cold water
1/2 cup bread crumbs
2 tablespoons salt

Add coconut oil to the bottom of a large dutch oven or other deep pot with onions, celery, bell pepper, and artichoke heart bottoms with a teaspoon of salt. After the vegetables have a golden brown to them, add the white wine and green beans and continue to stir until about 1/2 of the liquid has evaporated. Add the vegetable stock and another tablespoon of salt and simmer for 10 minutes (green beans should be getting soft). Turn on your oven and set to 350 degrees so it has time to pre-heart. Turn the heat to low and add the cream and stir at which point the mixture will look a lot like a cream of mushroom soup with green beans in it.

While that mixture is on low, combine the cold water with corn starch to make a slurry. Slowly stir it into the pot to thicken the mixture. Pour the whole thing into a casserole dish and sprinkle with breadcrumbs before popping it into oven for 15 minutes, allowing the top to get a golden brown cover. Serve in a bowl and enjoy!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Your New Favorite Summer Treat - updated

What could make the Watermelon Mint Smoothie even better? Turn it into a popsicle! I recently acquired a Groovy Freezer Popsicle Molds set and it is such a game changer for home made easy desserts! Ice-cream is a great love of mine, but I know moderation is key with such high-fat and processed sugar treats so I'm always looking for a good alternative. With these molds you can make literally anything you want and avoid preservatives or other less-than-healthy ingredients. I will be experimenting over the next few weeks and posting the successful results, but you can start with the watermelon smoothie because yum!

Try this at Home - The Kitchn's Sweet Corn and Goat Cheese Stuffed Peppers

Needless to say, I spend a lot of time reading food blogs. I have varying success with recipes on some, but the Kitchn's are pretty consistently wonderful and this Sweet Corn and Goat Cheese Stuffed Peppers was no exception. I used an oven instead of a grill, so I modified by pre-roasting the peppers for about 7 minutes prior to stuffing and then roasting another 5 minutes. It was so delicious and the presentation is gorgeous! Sprinkle whole kernals of corn on top if you want the sweetness from the corn to come through even more!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Roasted Vegetable Cous Cous with Goat Cheese

Sometimes accident is the mother of invention. I've been making a version of this dish for years with polenta that is a wram and comforting winter dish. I was spacing out as I poured the cous cous into the pot and by the time it started boiling I figured it wouldn't come out that different. To my pleasant surprise, I think I actually like this version better. This cous cous is lighter and makes for a refreshing more summery meal.

Roasted Vegetable Cous Cous with Goat Cheese
2 cups cous cous
2 ears of corn
8 cherry tomatoes
2 crowns of broccoli
3 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper
1/2 cup goat cheese (optional)

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Shuck corn, wash broccoli and tomatoes. Place on baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast vegetables until a golden brown color shades them (approximately 15 minutes). Set the vegetables aside to cool while you cook your cous cous. After veggies have cooled, cut the corn kernals off the corn and mix into cooked cous cous. Cut cherry tomatoes in half and mix them in along with the broccoli. Add goat cheese if desired and serve in bowls.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Mama L's Shrimp Avocado Dip

My boyfriend's mother is one of my favorite people in the world. She is my hero of home entertaining and manages to feed huge gatherings of people delicious food with little prep time and rarely, if ever, lets a sign of stress show through. Most importantly, she genuinely enjoys every minute of it. One of her signature
appetizers is this fail-safe crowd pleasing shrimp avocado dip. The ingredients are strikingly simple, but the creamy avocado blends with the cocktail sauce to make a truly interesting flavor that always surprises. I had a few people over to watch the World Cup final and no one could believe it cocktail sauce was such a prominent ingredient. Best of all it's super easy to prepare. I know the brownish shade is not the most of appetizing images, but it is so tasty, trust me!

Mama L's Shrimp Avocado Dip 
(serves about 8 as an appetizer)
4 medium to large size avocados, diced
1/2 pound of medium shrimp, cooked and chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
1 small onion, diced
5 oz (1/2 a bottle) cocktail sauce

Mix all ingredients in a bowl mindful not to over stir and completely crush all of the avocado. Ideally a chip will pick up nice size bites of shrimp and avocado together. Chill for an hour before serving to help the flavors mix together. Serve with tortilla chips.

Clearly I'm really into shrimp and avocado combinations this summer. 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Breakfast on the Go - Muffin Tin Frittatas

Is there anything more comforting than a hot breakfast? If I had it my way, we'd all start work at 10-11 am and spend the morning leisurely enjoying a homemade breakfast before starting the day. Given that the odds of that happening are slim to none, the closest I've been able to get is zapping a frittata in the microwave to get a warm egg and vegetable treat, first thing. I tend to make these by the dozen or half dozen and eat them throughout the week each weekday morning. They do not disappoint!

Muffin Tin Frittatas
6 eggs
6 egg whites
4 medium potatoes - diced small
2 medium leeks - diced
(you can use any combination of vegetables, broccoli is also a nice one)
2 tablespoons of coconut oil
1 tablespoon vegetable oil (for greasing muffin tin)
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup low fat milk
1/2 cup cheddar cheese (optional)

Pre-heat oven to 375.
Add coconut oil to a skillet and sautee leeks until soft (about 10 minutes). Add the potatoes and a generous toss of salt to the leeks and stir until potatoes start to soften (15 minutes). While that is sauteing you can start cracking eggs into a mixing bowl. To get all the egg whites possible, I switch the yolk between hands until all of the white has shed the yolk and finds the bowl. After the potatoes are soft, remove the potato leek mixture from pan and let it cool at least 15 minutes so that you don't wind up with scrambled eggs. After they've cooled, add them to the mixed eggs along with milk and a pinch of salt and pepper. Fill each muffin slot with egg mixture and top with cheese, if adding. Place in the oven for 20 minutes (eggs should be puffed up and golden brown on top).

Note - If you are cooking a half dozen, just halve this recipe and only cook for 15 minutes.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Your new favorite summer treat - Watermelon Mint Smoothie

I know it's a little early to be posting about watermelon, but here in DC I can at least get Florida watermelons and that will have to be local enough for the month of June. It's beginning to be that time of year where the body craves subsistence on nothing but cool refreshing fruit concoctions and this one is my favorite. If you're craving something sweet and refreshing, grab some mint from your garden (or the store) and throw it in a blender with some watermelon and ice, you won't be disappointed!

Watermelon Mint Smoothie
2 cups watermelon
2 mint leaves
1/2 cup ice
Blend all ingredients together and serve.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Succotash with Kale and Garlic Scapes

Forgive the photo. You know by now that the recipes taste better than I photograph them. This was the brain child of one of those nights when I open my fridge and try to come up with something that will use as much produce as possible before leaving town for the weekend and risking it goes bad. I had 1 ear of leftover corn from a party this weekend, kale, and some garlic scapes from the farmers market...hmm what to do? I know it's not really late enough in the summer for a corn and tomato dish, but I had the corn and the last of my jarred summer tomatoes were looking ready to go, so I went for it. I think it came out pretty great! It's super healthy, packed with nutrients, vegan and gluten free! If I weren't making an intentionally super healthy weekday meal, I might be so inclined to sprinkle this with Parmesan cheese. If you try it, let me know how it goes!

Succotash with Kale and Garlic Scapes
1 bunch kale, stems removed and torn into bite sized leaves
1 ear of corn, cut from the ear
1 jar of tomatoes (canned if you don't have jarred)
1 garlic scape, diced
1.5 tablespoons coconut oil
salt and pepper to taste
Start by trimming your kale. I think you can't get those pieces too small. I had few bites that were full mouthfuls of kale and they were much less appetizing. To remove the stem, I typically grab it from the bottom with one hand and pinch either side with the other before running that hand up to the top, stripping the stem in a clean motion. If that makes no sense, just pull each kale bit off the stem. Cut the corn kernals off the ear and set aside. Dice the scapes and place the coconut oil in a large skillet on medium heat. Add the
garlic scapes first to get some of that garlic flavor permeated through the oil then add kale and corn and stir until kale has cooked down to half the size it was (about 8 minutes). Pour the jar of tomatoes over the top and add salt and pepper before turning down the heat to let it simmer another 5 minutes. Serve with a spoon, enjoy!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Caramelized Onion and Goat Cheese Crostini

Adventures in to re-create the delicious things consumed in Spain and Portugal continues! This comes from an amazing Tapas Bar in Sevilla called Dos de Mayo. It is ranked as Trip Advisor's 31st of the 1400 restaurants in Sevilla, and I think it should be higher. The staff is incredibly friendly, it is HOPPIN at all hours of the night, and I couldn't stop staring at this adorable pair of sisters in their 80's making dirty jokes with the bartender. Needless to say I loved my experience there immensely, and, if you are ever in the area, you must go. In the interim, make their best tapa at home and enjoy a little slice of tapas espa├▒olas at home.

Caramelized Onion and Goat Cheese Crostini
2-3 slices of a large rustico loaf cut into 2 inch long pieces. I like mine on the thin side, but feel free to adjust.
1 small sweet yellow onion sliced thin
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon salt
1.5 inch pieces of goat cheese to top the bread - I love cherry glen's monocacy ash and it was a dead ringer for whatever lovely goat cheese they used at Dos de Mayo.

Add butter to frying pan with onions and let simmer a minute or two before drizzling with olive oil. The trick to caramelizing is starting with a nice sizzling heat and then once they've started releasing some liquid, turning the heat down and letting them sit low and slow. Spread the onions out along the pan so they are all cooking nice and flat pressed against. Only stir as they start to brown to prevent any burning. I tend to turn them every 6 minutes or so. Once they are all a nice golden brown, turn off heat. Toast the crostinis and pull them out nice and hot. Add the cheese while the toast is still warm and top with still hot onions to get the cheese just a little melty before serving. Remember that even slightly imperfect caramelized onions are delicious, so don't stress too much about getting that perfect brown. I've still yet to achieve it, but have enjoyed every batch in my learning curve. 

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Try this at Home - Joe Yonan's DIY vegetable broth

If you do not yet own a copy of Joe Yonan's Eat your Vegetables, you should remedy that situation immediately. It is an incredible cook book full of approachable and delicious recipes with a variety of vegetables, textures, and flavors. It's not strictly vegetarian (includes anchovy paste here and there), but uses primarily plant based ingredients and I've yet to try something he suggested that didn't work beautifully. He has a brilliant suggestion of saving vegetable scraps in the freezer and once the bag is full to dump it into a pot with water and salt for some DIY vegetable stock.

I finally got around to a full bag of vegetables last night and decided to give it a try. So I poured my bag of scallion tops, celery ends, chard stems, and juiced carrot shavings into the pot (He advises not to include kale and other very bitter vegetables as that might overload the flavor.). I added a 1/2 cup of salt and 6 cups of water and then just let it simmer for about an hour and a half. I was amazed at how rich the broth flavor was after so little effort or planning in terms of what veggies I included.

Mr. Yonan includes a brilliant suggestion of freezing all of the broth in ice trays to be used in as needed portions. This brought me to the realization I own no ice trays, so I just froze the whole thing and will make something delicious with it all later. I will be acquiring ice trays and following all of his advice in my next attempt. A word to the wise, the bits of carrot were a little too small and fell right through the strainer. The flavor is still wonderful, but if you want a truly perfect broth, avoid little bits and maybe skip the pulp left over from juicing all together.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Mango Shrimp Salad with Avocado

I'm eating the leftovers as we speak and it is so delicious, you guys! This blog hasn't been updated in a while since I was on vacation in Portugal and southern Spain. Every thing I ate was insane and I am so in tapas mode. I will probably spend the next several weeks, if not months, copying all of the things I loved there and the first up is this wonderful salad. I something very similar at a tapas bar in Cordoba and let me tell you that the better quality shrimps there make a huge difference. This was made with whole foods wild caught pink frozen shrimp and it just wasn't the same. That being said, it's still a refreshing summer salad and the perfect thing to eat on a hot day.

Mango Shrimp Salad with Avocado
12 - 15 shrimp depending on size (the fresher the better!), cooked and sliced into 1/2 inch cubes
1 mango, diced
3 tomatoes, diced
1 green pepper, diced
1 scallion, diced (white and green parts)
1/2 of one small onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
juice of 1/2 a lime
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste, I used a pinch of pepper and a generous 3 tablespoons of salt
slices of 1/4 of an avocado, as garnish

Cook the shrimp and leave in the fridge to chill. Combine all ingredients except avocado in a bowl and mix. Add avocado to the top and sprinkle with a touch more salt. Enjoy!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Strawberry Rhubarb Coconut Cream Pudding

Vegan and gluten free potluck dish - a serious challenge. I wanted to use seasonal ingredients from my local farmer's market making it even trickier, but I came up with a riff on the classic Vanilla Wafer Banana Pudding that is vegan, gluten, free, low in sugar, and truly delicious. The Tupperware came back completely empty, which is always a great sign of a successful dish! If you like the idea but want to add some crunch, consider a layer of graham cracker or nuts on top.

Strawberry Rhubarb Coconut Cream Pudding
1 pound strawberries, sliced
5 large stalks of rhubarb, roughly chopped (approximately 1 inch cubes)
3 cans coconut milk, refrigerated over night (do not used reduced fat)
4 tablespoons sugar
1 cup water
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 bananas

Start the rhubarb puree first (this can be made the day before)
Pour rhubarb pieces into sauce pan on medium heat with 4 tablespoons of sugar and the cup of water. Gently stir as the stems breakdown eventually turning into an applesauce like consistency. Allow it to cool and then refrigerate at least 4 hours.

 While the rhubarb puree is cooling, slice the pound of strawberries and set aside. These beauties were acquired at the farmer's market a few hours before prep and the flavor was unreal, no sugar needed. If you're strawberries are slightly tart, consider a sprinkling of sugar over the top before assembling.

Coconut Cream: Remove the cans of coconut milk from the fridge without overly shaking or turning over (this will keep the coconut cream separate from the milk. After removing the lid, the thick creamy bit should be easy to scoop out of the can. Add this to your blender first along with both bananas, vanilla extract, and 2 tablespoons of the coconut milk to think the mixture slightly. Blend on high until the mixture is smooth and free of any banana chunks.

Remove the rhubarb puree from the fridge and begin layering with all ingredients handy. Start with a layer of strawberries on the bottom, then a layer of coconut cream, a layer of rhubarb puree (which ends up being more blobs, that's ok!), another layer of all three with sparser strawberries on top so some Jackson Pollack style swirls of rhubarb puree visible on top that I thought made for a pretty presentation. The longer it sits, the more the rhubarb mixes in with the coconut cream, which isn't at all a bad thing. It's very runny and has to be served in cups as more of a mixed up pudding, but it's a real crowd pleaser that is as healthy as a dessert gets.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Leftover Chicken Tortilla Soup

As you can tell from the recipes on this blog, I eat a primarily vegetarian diet. It is a choice I make for both my health and the good of the environment, and try to keep the exceptions few and far between. There are several local farmers that sell their sustainably raised meat at my farmers market and once in a while I will indulge. This indulgence usually involves buying a whole chicken and enjoying a week's worth of meals for two, since meat works best in small portions that serve as the principle flavor source. A whole chicken was purchased a few weeks ago and after following Thomas Keller's killer roasted chicken recipe, my boyfriend and I sat down to a delicious roasted chicken dinner on a Sunday. Then the fun really begins working with the leftovers all week. He made a great mexican rice and beans dish and I used the rest to make my favorite tortilla soup.

Chicken Tortilla Soup (serves 4)

2 tablespoons coconut oil (can use olive oil instead)
1 cup roasted chicken (use whatever bits are left!)
1 small onion, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, diced with seeds removed
1 green pepper, diced
1 jar of tomatoes (can or box works too)
1 cup cooked rice
3/4 cup corn (I used frozen, organic / non-gmo, obvs)
1/3 cup (5 tablespoons) salt
5 cups water
1 teaspoon chili pepper (optional)
1 avocado for garnish, sliced
Tortilla chips for garnish (optional)

Begin by sauteing the onions in the coconut oil for 2 minutes, then add celery, jalapeno, and green pepper with a tablespoon of salt and stir for another 2 minutes, or until vegetables have all started to soften. Add the chicken bits and don't be afraid of including the skin and continue to saute another 5 minutes before adding the tomato and water with the remaining 4 tablespoons of salt and chili pepper if including it. Let all ingredients simmer for 20 minutes. Reduce heat and stir in cooked rice. Ladle into bowls and garnish with sliced avocados and tortilla chips, if desired. Enjoy!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Easy Comfort Food - Baked Potato with Cheese and Broccoli

It looks as casual as it is! Sometimes spring doesn't come on schedule and you find yourself looking around your kitchen in late April and wanting nothing but warm and creamy treats. I like to keep this within caloric control and include some vegetables with this simple baked potato with cheese sauce and broccoli. It takes very little effort and is just the soul warming comfort you want on a rainy day.

Baked Potato with Cheese and Broccoli (serves 2)
2 russet potatoes
2 heads of broccoli
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic
salt and pepper to taste

Cheese Sauce
1 cup cheddar cheese
1/4 cup of onion - chopped
2 tablespoons butter
1.5 tablespoons flour
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Wash potatoes and place on a baking sheet. Drizzle with tablespoon of olive oil on each potato and a pinch of salt each. Place in the oven for 45 minutes. While the potatoes are cooking, prep broccoli  and mince garlic. Add to a sauce pan with 1 cup of water and let steam with a pinch of salt and pepper. Grab another sauce pan and add the butter and sautee the onions until translucent  before adding cheese. After the cheese is melted, add flour and stir until thick.
Split potatoes and place broccoli within each mid-section before pouring over a generous helping of cheese sauce. Enjoy!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Lunch on the Go - Greek salad

Feta cheese will truly make anything delicious. It is, of course, high in fat and you don't want to go too crazy, but a little bit goes a long way, flavor-wise. Pretty much any time I add it to a salad and include oregano, I call it a "greek salad" although that should traditionally be just cucumbers, feta, and tomatoes. Below is a nutritious packed one that includes lots of protein thanks to the beans.

Greek Salad for 1
2 tablespoons feta cheese
1/4 cucumber with slices, chopped into 4
8 cherry tomatoes, sliced
5 kalamata olives, sliced
1/4 cup whatever greens you like
1/4 cup garbanzo beans (I was out so I subbed great norther beans for the photo above and they were great!)
1/4 red bell pepper, chopped
1/4 green bell pepper, chopped
1 tablespoonful of hummus (optional)
Combine all ingredients and it's ready!

Greek dressing
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
Combine all ingredients and stir.