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Sunday, December 6, 2009

Christmas Party


Last night we had lots of wonderful friends over for a Christmas party. It's something we've started doing since we moved to Colorado, and I look forward to it all year long! This is the third time we've done it, and every time it has been so wonderful. I feel so blessed to have made some wonderful friends here, and I think it's so nice to take a night (without kids:) and just hang out, enjoy some good food and wine, and celebrate Christmas together. We had two sommeliers from a local wine store come and do wine tastings the first hour. Later on, Rob and two others played guitars and sang, which was just amazing.

This year I decided to stick with some favorites and not re-invent the wheel. I feel like last year I had put together such a good menu for appetizers. So much of it could be done the night before, and nothing required me being in the oven all evening. I set out the last food as the first guests were arriving, and then was able to just be a part of the party and enjoy myself the rest of the time. Très magnificant!

I did a table of appetizers(see above), and then a table of desserts. (I don't want to include pictures of people since not everyone likes to have their pictures online. :) We had the desserts catered from my favorite local French Bakery. yum! Today we are eating like kings, and it's wonderful!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Almond Poppyseed Muffins


From time to time I check out High Altitude Baking books from the library. Admittedly, I don't always have enough time to read them, or try anything, before they are due. Finally, I tried something from one of them, called Baking at High Altitude: The Muffin Lady's Old Fashioned Recipes. They were good. A little dry, but again that can be an altitude thing, or I could have left them in too long, or it could be because of the whole wheat pastry flour I used. It was a good enough recipe to keep though. They didn't fall, and they cooked all the way through. I'm learning that if I get my hands on a recipe like that up here, I need to hang on to it. (For those of you out of the area, I believe we are at 5960 ft here)

Almond Poppyseed Muffins

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

1/4 cup melted butter or margarine
3/4 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
2 1/4 cups flour ( I used whole wheat pastry)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup poppy seeds
1/3 cup sliced almonds

1. Thoroughly mix the melted margarine/butter, sugar, eggs, milk, vanilla, and almond extract.

2. Add the dry ingredients and poppyseeds, if using, to the egg mixture. Thoroughly mix the batter until all ingredients are fully incorporated.

3. Grease 5-6 large muffin pan sections or 10-12 regular size muffin pan sections or 2 dozen mino muffin sections.

4. Fill each muffin section 7/8 full with the batter. Sprinkle almond slices on top of each muffin.

5. Bake 15-35 minutes (I know, big variance - I did 12 regular size muffins, and it took 15 minutes, just to give you some idea) until firm on top or until the inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Add 1 extra egg when doubling or add 2 extra eggs when tripling this recipe.
To change it up, substitute 1/3 cup mini chocolate chips for the poppy seeds!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Thanksgiving
















We had a quiet, but wonderful Thanksgiving. I did have a few mishaps that I learned from.
  • I accidently bought filo dough instead of puff pastry, so the tops to the pot pies weren't what I was hoping.
  • Don't forget the whip cream for the pie!
  • The planning ahead was SO worth it, because I wasn't overwhelmed that day.
  • Oh, and I need to keep dollar bills around to occasionally stick in my husbands back pocket or shirt or something for a tip, because that man is amazing. He was always in the kitchen at the right time, washing dishes when I needed them, and cleaned up every mess I made. I feel very blessed to have married such a great guy!
The pictures above are just random pictures from the day. I'm going back to the old posts to add pictures of what some of the recipes actually looked like while I was cooking. I made the Pumpkin Pie above with a whole wheat crust. The kids decorated our formal dining room table for dinner. Elijah and I ran the Turkey Day 5K that our town puts on each year. And Analise is enjoying some of the wonderful breakfast the local French Bakery delivered to us. It was waiting for us when we got home from the race: Quiches, criossants, chocolate criossants, fruit tarts, and a baguette. It was heaven. That is definitely going to be a new tradition! :) Hope yours was happy as well!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Turkey Tettrazini




More turkey leftovers! As I said in my previous post, this is the first year I've even had leftovers to do anything with. So I have to confess a mistake I made. I did that thing you are never supposed to do....I skimmed this recipe, and didn't really read it that thoroughly. Mostly when I skim, I'm looking to see if there is some appliance or gadget I might not have, or if the prep time is misleading and it's really one of those recipes that takes a whole afternoon. Never did I suspect that this recipe is actually already doubled, for you to freeze one and serve one. I thought I was being so smart, and decided I was going to double the recipe. Well, I ended up with 4 Turkey Tettrazzinis, a house full of giggles calling it the "Quadzzini incident", but thankfully no more turkey leftovers!! And hey, if you live in the neighborhood, I have 3 Turkey Tettrazzinis in the freezer if you need dinner some night. :)

I think you could very easily make this vegetarian. Just leave out the meat, and use veggie broth. I want to increase the mushrooms and peas in this recipe personally, especially for a vegetarian version. I'm going to try all of that next time I make it. I think will all the dairy it would still be very filling. yum!

Turkey Tettrazzini
Serves 8
*MAKES 2* (giggles from the fam....)

coarse salt and ground pepper
6 tablespoons butter
1 pound white mushrooms, trimmed and sliced 1/4 inch think
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups milk
1 can (14.5 ounces) reduced sodium chicken broth
3/4 cup white wine
3 cups grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme (I used 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh)
1 pound linguine (I used whole wheat)
about 4 cups shredded turkey, or chicken (About 1 rotiserrie chicken)
1 package (10 ounces) frozen peas, thawed and drained ( I just put them in frozen, it worked)

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil (for pasta). In a large saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons butter over high heat. Add mushrooms, and season with salt and pepper. Cook, tossing frequently, until tender and browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl, and set aside.

2. Make sauce: In same saucepan, melt remaining 4 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add flour; cook, whisking, about 1 minute. Whisking constantly, gradually add milk, broth, and wine. Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer, and add 2 cups Parmesan and thyme. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Cook pasta 2 minutes less than package instructions for al dente; drain and return to pot. Add sauce, chicken, peas, and mushrooms. Toss well to combine. (I did this differently. I put the noddles in the pan, then the mushrooms over the top, then the sauce over the top of that. I just thought it gave it more color.) Divide between 2 (ahem) shallow 2 quart baking dishes; sprinkle with remaining Parmesan. Freeze (see below) or bake until browned, about 30 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

To FREEZE
Cool pan to room temperature. Cover tightly with aluminum foil, and freeze for up to 3 months.

To Bake from FROZEN
Bake, covered with foil, at 400 degrees, until center is warm, about 2 hours. Uncover, and bake until top is browned, about 20 minutes more.

To Bake from THAWED
Thaw overnight in refrigerator. Bake, covered with foil at 400 degrees, until center is warm, about 30 minutes. Uncover, and bake until top is browned about 20 minutes more.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Turkey Salad on Greens

For some reason this year, I decided I WANTED the experience of having turkey leftovers. Mind you, I don't actually like turkey, but I do like a challenge. So a 20 pound bird I did make. And I do have leftovers for my leftovers. So this post and the one to follow soon will have the recipes I made for my family with the leftovers. Dad liked this curried salad a lot.

Curried Turkey on Greens
Would be great to pack in a lunch box, and is ready in 10 minutes.
Serves 2

1/2 pound leftover roast turkey, shredded
1 celery stalk, thinly sliced
1/2 cup seedless red grapes, halved
1/3 cup plain low-fat yogurt
2 to 3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 to 2 teaspoons curry powder
coarse salt and ground pepper
5 ounces Bibb lettuce torn into bite size pieces (about 8 cups)

In a medium bowl, combine turkey, celery, grapes, yogurt, lemon juice, and curry powder; season with salt and pepper. Spoon mixture over lettuce.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Harvest Turkey Pot Pies







We're eating this individual pot pies on Thanksgiving, but you might like to give them a try with your leftovers. Freeze a few for an easy dinner over the busy December month too!

The great thing about these, is if you have some vegetarians in the crowd, you can easily leave the meat out, since you're making one for each person.

Harvest Turkey (or Vegetarian) Pot Pies

Serves 8

Ingredient


2 Tbs. olive oil
12 oz. button mushrooms, sliced
1 medium onion, chopped (1 cup)
3 stalks celery, diced (about 1 cup)
3 cloves garlic, minced (1 Tbs.)
1 Tbs. chopped fresh thyme
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 lb. butternut squash, cubed
5 small red potatoes, sliced
1/2 lb. green beans, halved
2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
optional - 2 cups turkey shredded


3 Tbs. cornstarch
1 17.3-oz pkg. vegan frozen puff pastry (2 sheets), thawed



Directions


1. Heat oil in pot over medium-low heat. Add mushrooms, onion, celery, garlic and thyme. Cover, and cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover, increase heat to medium, and cook 5 minutes more, or until mushrooms begin to brown. Add wine; simmer 2 minutes, or until liquid evaporates.

2. Add squash, potatoes, green beans, corn and 5 cups water. Cover, and simmer 7 minutes.
Whisk cornstarch with 1/2 cup liquid from vegetable mixture. Stir cornstarch mixture into vegetables. Simmer 1 minute, or until thickened. If using turkey, stir in turkey. Seperate into two seperate containers if making half vegetarian. If making ahead, cool, and refrigerate up to 2 days.


3. Preheat oven to 425F. Coat 2 baking sheets with cooking spray. Cut 4 circles from one puff pastry sheet. Repeat with remaining sheet. Cut 1-inch hole in center of each circle. Cut leaves from dough scraps, then chill tops and leaves 15 minutes. Adhere leaves to tops by brushing with water. Bake 15 minutes, or until brown and puffy. Store cooled tops up to 2 days in airtight container.
Reheat filling, and warm tops in oven, if needed. Ladle filling into small pie dishes or ramekins.




4. If eating today, top with crusts, and serve. If you made ahead of time, reheat filling, and warm tops in oven. Ladle filling into 8 ramekins. Top with crusts.

Nutritional Information for Vegetarian Pies
Per SERVING: Calories: 465, Protein: 11g, Total fat: 20g, Saturated fat: 5g, Carbs: 62g, Cholesterol: mg, Sodium: 483mg, Fiber: 7g, Sugars: 7g

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Curly Kale with Caramelized Onions




This is one of the sides we are eating for Thanksgiving. It's an ideal dish to make a day or two ahead of time, because it actually tastes better after it sits.

Curly Kale with Caramelized Onions
Serves 8


2 Tbs. olive oil
1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced (about 1 1/2 cups)
3 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 Tbs.)
3 lb. curly kale, stemmed and coarsely chopped (about 12 cups)
3 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup chopped almonds

Directions
Heat oil in large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, and cook 10 to 15 minutes, or until soft and beginning to brown. Add garlic, and cook 1 minute, or until fragrant.

Stir in kale and 2 cups water. Cover, and cook 30 minutes, or until kale is tender. Season with salt and pepper. If making ahead, cool, and store in airtight container. Just before serving, reheat kale mixture, then drizzle with vinegar, and sprinkle with almonds.

Nutritional Information
Per SERVING: Calories: 127, Protein: 5g, Total fat: 6g, Saturated fat: g, Carbs: 17g, Cholesterol: mg, Sodium: 120mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugars: 3g

Honey-Pecan and Pecorino Salad

Things are going pretty good with the thanksgiving prep. I made the nuts and vinaigrette yesterday for this salad. I also cooked a 20 pound turkey (wanting leftovers) so that it's ready for me to make the pot pie filling. I didn't get to the kale, due to a flat tire, and a doctors appt that took three times longer than it was going to. I also didn't get to the pie crust, but I feel like I made up for that by getting both of the pies made completely before 9am this morning. :)

Here is the recipe for the salad we will eat tomorrow.

Honey-Pecan and Pecorino Salad
Serves 8

ingredients

Honey Pecans
2 Tbs. honey
1 cup whole pecans
2 tsp. chili powder (I cut this in half, it just seemed like way too much to me)
1/2 tsp. salt

Honey-Mustard Vinaigrette
2 Tbs. vinegar
4 tsp. honey
2 tsp. mustard
2 Tbs. oil

Salad
8 cups mesclun salad mix
1 bunch green onions, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1/2 cup dried cranberries
2 oz. pecorino cheese

Directions
1. To make Honey Pecans: Bring honey to a simmer in large skillet over medium heat. Stir in pecans, and cook 3 to 4 minutes, or until pecans are coated in honey and most liquid has evaporated. Remove from heat; stir in chili powder and salt. Transfer pecans to plate to cool, then store in airtight container or set aside.

2. To make Honey-Mustard Vinaigrette: Whisk together vinegar, honey and mustard. Add oil; whisk to combine. Season with salt and pepper.

3. To make Salad: Toss mesclun, green onions, cranberries and pecans with vinaigrette. Shave cheese into curls over salad with vegetable peeler. Serve immediately.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Planning a Thanksgiving Feast


It's that time of year again, and some of you other foodies might be doing the same thing I am......planning out a week of cooking. Some of you might not know where to start. All I can say is - just go for it. It's like anything else, you learn a little each year, and get better every time. Those grandmas who don't have to look at recipes anymore, and have system that works like clockwork, didn't come by that easily. There's a reason we associate that with our 70 year old gradnmas. When they were my age, they burned turkeys, left guests waiting for food 2 hours too long, and learned from their mistakes. That's where I'm at. This year it is just my family of 5 and we plan to eat in our pajamas. :) That gives me the freedom to make mistakes, as my family is very forgiving. It also gives me the opportunity to cook as if I have guests coming.....and learn from my mistakes.


Last year we had some wonderful friends to visit, and the meal was fabulous. I also had 4 extra hands to help me and I know it wouldn't have worked out so smoothly had I been by myself. So I'm going to go for it this year. Not as big of a spread, because 2 adults and 3 kids can only eat so much, even in leftovers, but I'm going to give it my all. Below is my plan of attack, and in the days to come you'll find recipes on here to follow. I'd love to hear about your plans in the comments too! Are you going somewhere? Are you the hostess? What are you making this year?


Menu
Harvest Turkey Pot Pies
Curly Kale with Carmelized Onions
Honey-Pecan and Pecorino Salad
Duchess Potatoes
Sesame Twists
Pumpkin Pie with homemade Whipped Cream

This is what I'll be working on each day....always depends on the kids what I actually get done. Sometimes things get bumped to the next day, sometimes if it's a good day I attack some parts early, even if it's just getting some chopping and prep done. the Whole Wheat Pie crust, pie, and whipped cream is something that I definitely might make on any given day.


Grab your aprons......

Monday
Grocery shopping!


Tuesday
Cook turkey
Whole Wheat Pie Crust and Pie

Curly Kale with Carmelized Onions
Prepare Honey-Pecans and Honey Mustard Vinaigerette for Salad


Wednesday

Turkey and vegetarian pie filling

Duchess Potatoes
Prepare dough for Sesame Twists

The Big Day
Run The Turkey Day 5K with my 7 year old son :)
Bake Sesame Twists
Assemble Salad
Reheat Kale
Assemble Pot pies, top with crusts and bake
Make whipped cream

and we're off!! :) See you tomorrow with some recipes. Have a fun week everybody!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Spinich, Basil, and Tomato Frittatas

I first came across a recipe like this for making mini fritattas in a South Beach Diet cookbook, and I just love the idea. It's an easy way to make something ahead of time whether you have company, or just want to get a jumpstart on a busy week. Mini frittatas are made simply in your cupcake pan! As easy as that. You can use the recipe below, but feel free to use what you have on hand, or what you like. Sometimes I saute up a bunch of veggies, or use leftover sauteed veggies from dinner the night before. The nice thing about these too, is if you do have picky eaters, it's easy to leave ingredients out of a few for those that like it simple. Top with salt and pepper, serve some fruit on the side, and YUM!

Spinich, Basil, and Tomato Frittatas
serves 4-8
from Delicious Living July '07

4 eggs
4 egg whites
1 tablespoon reduced-fat (2 percent) milk
freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup minced fresh basil
10 cherry tomatoes, quartered
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 cups (1 ounce) baby spinich leaves

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Coat four 1-cup ramekins or eight 1/2-cup muffin cups with cooking spray.
2. In a large bowl, beat eggs and egg whites. Add milk, pepper, salt, basil, tomatoes, and cheese.
3. In a medium saute pan, heat olive oil; saute garlic over medium heat for about 2 minutes. Add spinich and saute 1-2 minutes, until spinich is wilted but still a vibrant green. Add spinich mixture to egg mixture. Ladle into prepared ramekins or cups. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until eggs are cooked thoroughly. (They will expand while cooking and will collapse while cooling.)
When cool, remove from cups. Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to one week.

Per serving: 70 calories, 55% fat cal., 4g fat, 2g sat fat, 110mg chol, 6g protein, 2g carb, 0g fiber, 193mg sodium

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Almond-crusted Chicken Tenders


The food section in the Denver Post has a section called "Dinner Tonight, Lunch Tomorrow" and this picture caught my eye. Because even though I am not a chicken fan, I LOVE fish that has any kind of nut crust on it, so I thought I would try this. They were great, and so was the dip. Leftovers for lunch the next day though? Not so much.

Almond-crusted Chicken Tenders
From "The Harvest Eating Cookbook," by Keith Snow (Running Press). Serves 4. Double this recipe for leftovers.

Ingredients
1/2 cup egg whites (from about 4 large eggs)
1 cup crushed almonds
2 pounds organic chicken tenders
Olive oil for frying
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
A twist of ground black pepper
1 cup Greek-style yogurt
1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard
2 teaspoons honey
Directions
Place the egg whites in a shallow bowl and beat. Place the almonds in a second shallow bowl. Dredge the chicken tenders in the egg whites then dip each one in the almonds to coat them evenly.

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken four pieces at a time and cook for about 5 minutes per side until cooked through and golden brown. They will be firm to the touch when cooked.
Season with salt and pepper. Repeat with the remaining chicken until all used. Set aside.
Combine the yogurt, mustard and honey in a bowl and mix well. Serve with the chicken as a dipping sauce

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Slow Cooker Mixed Bean Soup with Cornmeal Dumplings

My dear friend Julie passed this recipe on to me a few years ago. I love a good hearty meat free meal. This one also has hardly any dairy in it. But you won't miss it! It's filling. Remember, don't lift the lid to stir or peek when the slow cooker is on! Every time you open the lid you have to add 20 minutes to your cooking time.

Slow Cooker Mixed Bean Soup with Cornmeal Dumplings

Ingredients for soup
1 15 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 15 ounce can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 15 ounce can garbonzo beans, rinsed and drained
1 14 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 medium onion, chopped
1 16 ounce package mixed frozen vegetables
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 14 oz can reduced sodium chicken/vegetable broth
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon dried parsley

Combine all ingredients in slow cooker. Cook on low 8-10 hours, or high 4-5 hours. At the end of cooking time turn the slow cooker on high while you are making dumplings.

ingredients for dumplings
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup cornmeal
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons skim milk
2 teaspoons oil

Stir flour, cornmeal, baking powder and sugar in a medium bowl. In a small bowl combine egg, milk, and oil. Stir wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto soup. Cover, and cook 30 minutes more without lifting the lid.

Makes 6-8 servings.

Per serving: 279 calories, 14g protein, 5 g fat, 47g carbs, 30 mg chol., 694 mg. sodium

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Caribbean Chicken

I recently went through my recipe cupboard (I know) and organized, sorted, and filed. It's a hard process for me, sort of like sorting pictures for someone else. :) I get attached to recipes, or the IDEA of making them, and it's hard to let them go. Alas, I am also a minimalist, and these two things don't mesh well. So about once every year I end up sorting through them, usually when I'm starting to get excited about planning for the holidays as I am now.

So I came across countless random scraps of recipes torn out of newspapers and magazines. Some I had to toss, some I pulled out to try so I could decide if they were worth keeping. Sometimes I tear out a recipe, and don't end up using it for years.

Such is the case with this Carribean Chicken recipe. No credits, no pictures, just a scrap of newspaper, so I'm not sure who to give credit to. Strangely, I expected my kids to love this, and they just didn't. Rob and I thought it was good, but I'm not sure if it's KEEP it kind of good if they weren't into it, and I'm not a big meat eater anyway.

The chicken is moist (I used organic). The individual packets are fun. The rice is fun and sweet. The hot sauce is so subtle, you don't have to worry about the kids not liking it for that reason. (I actually left it off theirs, but wouldn't if I made it again). I put brown rice in the rice cooker in the afternoon so it was ready when I was making dinner.

Carribean Chicken

4 sheets (12"X18" inches each) heavy duty aluminum foil
4 cups cooked rice
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1/4 cup flaked coconut
1 (15 oz) can pineapple tidbits in pineapple juice, undrained
2 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon caribbean jerk seasoning (see note below to make your own)
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves

Preheat oven to 450 degrees or preheat charcoal grill. Spray sheets of foil with nonstick cooking spray. Combine rice, red pepper, onions, coconut, pineapple, brown sugar and lime juice. Center 1/4 of rice mixture (I put more, to use it all) Rub jerk seasoning over chicken; place on top of ingredients on foil sheet.

Bring up sides of foil and double fold. Double fold ends to form a packet, leaving room for heat circulation inside packet.

Repeat to make four packets. Bake 18 to 22 minutes on a cookie sheet in oven or grill 16 to 20 minutes in covered grill. Makes 4 servings.

Note: You can buy Cariibean Jerk seasoning in the spice section of supermarkets. I just made my own. Combine 1 teaspoon allspice, 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, 1/2 teaspoon paprika, 1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce and 2 teaspoons vegetable oil in a small bowl; mix well.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Cooking with the kids





One morning I sensed Isaac needed some attention...and sat down with him and asked him if he would like to be in charge of dinner that night. I asked him what he'd like to make, and said I would buy the ingredients while he was at school, and we would work on it when he got home. I had to laugh because he chose something so basic, but it was so much fun! Sometimes easy can be a blast, and this definitely was. We had bean and cheese nachos, guacamole, salsa, and banana splits for dessert.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Caramel Corn

I just love talking to my kids about the "love your neighbors as yourself" scripture, and even more than that, finding ways to put it into action. We have fantastic neighbors, and I am blessed to get along with all of them. I think it's great to live in a place where we know them, trust them, and not only are happy to help them, but love to do unexpected things for them too.



In the Fall, and for Christmas we love to make little things to leave at their doors. This Fall we bought bags that had big pumpkin faces on them, and filled them with caramel corn. It's a super easy recipe that uses only the microwave (and an air popper if you make your popcorn that way, like we do). Make sure and adjust it for your microwave; some of the newer ones cook really fast. Kid friendly! Let them help! :)

Caramel Corn

4 Quarts popped corn
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup dark Karo
1 stick butter
Dash of salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 large grocery size brown paper bag

Mix all ingredients EXCEPT soda. Microwave for two minutes. Stir. Microwave 2 minutes more. Add soda. Stir well. Will foam. Put popcorn in a brown paper sack and pour caramel mix evenly over corn. Shake. Microwave 1 1/2 minutes (*note* my microwave takes 1 minute, just depends if yours is older or newer). Shake. Microwave 1 1/2 minutes (or 1 minute) more. Shake and pour out on a cookie sheet to cool. Enjoy!

The Clay-Pot experience








I happened upon a clay pot at the Goodwill last year, and after having been introduced to it at a friends house shortly before, I knew I had to buy it. Thankfully it came with a cookbook, and as the weather has been steadily cooling, I have been having so much fun making some of the recipes out of it. Since I have three boys in the house, I do have to make sure I'm getting them enough protein. Once in awhile, they do love to eat meat. This clay pot is as handsoff as a crockpot, but just a bit different in how it cooks. I have loved most of the recipes out of "The Clay-pot Cookbook" except for any that have sour cream or dairy in them - those I thought were not great. So far we've made Orange Chicken, Chicken with Spices and Brandy, Swiss Chicken with Mushrooms, Curried Chicken with Guinness, and the classic French dish Beef Bourguignonne(see first picture).

With a clay pot, you soak the pot for 15 minutes in water before adding the ingredients, put it in a COLD oven, and then turn it up really high (480-490 degrees) and it generally cooks about an hour and half. With most of the recipes you remove the liquid from the clay pot, and cook it on the stove with some arrowroot powder wisked into it(doesn't cloud a sauce like cornstarch) and then you have a gravy/sauce to go with your dish. Sometimes you leave the top off and cook it for another 10 minutes or so, to brown the top.
I haven't really run into anyone outside of my friend who actually has a clay pot, so I'm not sure how many recipes I'll post on here. I was never going to buy one full price because I thought having a slow cooker and a clay pot would be the same thing. It's not! They amazing savory, melt in your mouth taste that comes from dishes in this pot can't be reproduced in a slow cooker. I'm really happy to have both, and now can't imagine not having the clay pot.
An example of an easy meal you can throw in there without a recipe is in the third picture above. It was in the intro of the book, where the author writes about her first night with her clay pot. I threw in everything she wrote about except the cheese, and it was wonderful!

"That night I cooked my first chicken, laboring over the beast like some sweaty midwife, massagin her with salt and pepper, painting her with a brillant mixture of paprika, oil, crushed garlic, and minced fresh rosemary. I added little white onions, chopped parsley, tiny new potatoes, carrots, mushrooms, grated Monterey Jack and white wine. Popping the water-soaked pot into a cold oven, I turned the thermostat to 480 degrees - and waited..

Soon the most delectable odor filled the house.....it was a smash. The bird had a plump, running-over succulence, the skin was golden brown, and the carrots could have doubled as dessert. Even the mundane little new potatoes took on an exotic cast. But it was the sauce that did it. The juices that came pouring out of that pot - an intoxicating fusion of bird, wine, herbs, and roots - was something....."

I had the same experience! What a happy discovery. If anyone has one, or wants some recipes, let me know, and I'll start posting them as I make them.
Happy fall cooking!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sauteed Swiss Chard

I think it's hard to get little ones into dark leafy greens. Even most adults don't eat them a few times a week like they are supposed to. I think the big question is, how can you prepare them so they taste good? We get some through juicing, but I want my kids to actually KNOW that they are getting them, and not just stick them hidden in things. That's why I love recipes like the previous kale soup I posted, and this one I made tonight. It's from the wonderful Edible Front Range magazine. I highly encourage you to check out Edible Communities and see if there is one for your area. It's packed full of news about farmers, chefs, and how people in your community are eating more local and seasonal, and local events. And of course, there are wonderful recipes, like this one that got 2 thumbs up from all three of my kiddos.

Sauteed Swiss Chard
by Sue Hollingshead

1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
4 to 5 cloves garlic, minced
2 bunches Swiss Chard, rinsed, tough stems removed, thinly sliced
1 cup raisins, softened in water about one hour, then drained
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted (if cost makes getting these difficult, substitute toasted sunflower seeds)
balsamic vinegar
sea salt

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add garlic, stirring, until fragrant, about 4 minutes. Add Swiss Chard and cook, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes or until tender to your liking.

Stir in raisins and pine nuts. Season with balsamic vinegar and sea salt.
Makes about 4 servings.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Kale and White Bean Soup

I have cooked many a Kale and White Bean Stew in my day....ever since I discovered how yummy Kale can be, I should add. I haven't always been a fan. I think it happened about 4 years ago, when I started adding it to juice, and then started sauteing it. Now this soup is one of the few will eat it (not just drink it).

My favorite recipe to date has been one that I have for my crockpot, just because I love an easy recipe....one that cooks itself, you know? But this is definitely my new favorite. It is SO hearty. Even my boys, who easily eat "thirds" at dinner these days, are filled up by one bowl of this soup.

Something about the buttery shallots, and the Sherry Wine Vinegar that you stir in at the end, set this recipe apart from the others. I used curly Kale, and next time will use less, as the amount they say kind of takes over the soup in my opinion. Because of this I needed to double the broth, and it definitely needed the salt and pepper to finish it off. I highly recommend this soup on one of these beautiful crisp fall days! We served it with a warmed whole wheat baguette, and assorted cheeses.

Kale and White Bean Soup
Yield: makes 6 servings ( doubled this, and it fed us for 3 nights)

ingredients
1 1/2 pounds kale leaves, center ribs and stems removed
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped peeled carrots
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped shallots (about 4)
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 cup dry white wine
2 15-ounce cans white beans (preferably organic), drained
4 cups (or more) vegetable broth
3 fresh thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon Sherry wine vinegar
2 tablespoons assorted chopped fresh herbs (such as tarragon, parsley, and chives)

preparation
Cook kale in large pot of boiling salted water 1 minute. Drain. Transfer to bowl of ice water to cool. Drain. Squeeze out excess water. Coarsely chop kale.
Heat olive oil in medium pot over medium heat. Add chopped carrots, celery, shallots, and garlic; cook until soft, stirring, about 15 minutes (do not brown vegetables). Add white wine and simmer until liquid is slightly reduced, about 7 minutes. Add white beans, 4 cups broth, thyme sprigs, and bay leaf and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 20 minutes. Add kale and simmer 5 minutes longer. Remove thyme sprigs and bay leaf. Add more broth by 1/2 cupfuls to thin stew, if desired. Mix in Sherry wine vinegar and chopped fresh herbs. Season with salt and pepper.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Succotash of Fresh Corn, Lima Beans, Tomatoes and Onions

I have never made Succotash before :). Actually I don't think I was ever exactly sure WHAT succotash was. Now I know it's a yummy, fresh tasting side dish. It's great for when there is fresh sweet corn and tomatoes on hand. Elijah and I liked this a lot, the two littliest ones weren't as crazy about it. Although, they did get the giggles when I taught them how to say "Suffering Succotash!"


Succotash of Fresh Corn, Lima Beans, Tomatoes and Onions

yield: Makes 6 servings

ingredients
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
Coarse kosher salt
1 large garlic clove, minced
3 cups chopped red tomatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds)
2 1/4 cups corn kernels cut from 4 ears of corn (preferably 2 ears of white corn and 2 ears of yellow corn)
2 cups fresh lima beans (from about 2 pounds pods) or 10 to 11 ounces frozen lima beans or baby butter beans, thawed
3 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil

preparation
Heat oil in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and sprinkle with coarse salt. Sauté until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic; stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes, corn, and lima beans. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until corn and lima beans are tender and tomatoes are soft, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season to taste with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Rewarm before continuing.
Stir in basil and serve.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Fish Fillets with Olives and Oregano


I made this over the weekend. The kids loved it! They ate all of it up. I used fresh halibut (which I realized cost the same as the frozen, even though the fresh is overnighted from CA. great deal!).

Fish Fillets with Olives and Oregano
yield: Makes 4 main-course servings
active time: 15 min
total time: 30 min

ingredients
4 (1 1/4-inch-thick) pieces white-fleshed skinless fish fillets, such as halibut (6 oz each)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 very thin lemon slices
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/3 cup pitted brine-cured green olives such as picholine, halved lengthwise (2 oz)
1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh oregano or 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled

preparation

Put oven rack in upper third of oven and preheat oven to 450°F.
Pat fish dry and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then sear fillets, skinned sides down, until browned well, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer, seared sides up, to baking dish (reserve skillet), then top each fillet with a slice of lemon.
Add wine to skillet and bring to a boil, scraping up any brown bits. Boil 30 seconds, then pour around fish. Scatter olives around fish and bake, uncovered, until fish is just cooked through, 8 to 12 minutes.
Transfer fish to a platter, then whisk lemon juice, oregano, and remaining 2 tablespoons oil into cooking liquid in baking dish. Season sauce with salt and pepper and spoon over fish.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Cake Wrecks
















I got to go on a fun Field Trip last night :). I ventured into the city to see none other than Jen Yates of Cake Wrecks blog fame. If you haven't heard of this site yet, then you should definitely visit, and on the right hand side, click on anything under "Fan Faves" or "Classics". You are sure to be laughing so hard you're crying in a good five minutes. Jen got the idea for the blog after someone sent her a picture of a cake they ordered that was made wrong, and after a few hours of searching the web, and realising there were so many more out there, she started the blog that very same day. She posts every day, and it's a fun site to look up once in awhile when you want a laugh. Jen herself is hilarious, and it's not just the pictures, but the writing that makes the site so funny. Both her and her husband were at Tattered Cover last night, promoting a book they published full of the funniest cakes from the blog. They were hilarious, and showed slides of their favorites, signed books, and held a cake wrecks cupcake contest. I didn't even find out about the event until right before it happened, otherwise I would have totally entered! I hope you enjoy the pictures, and can maybe catch Jen when she's in your area, or her book at your local store. ( A local cupcake shop provided the cupcakes in the second picture. They were SO good I wish I could give her credit, but I can't remember the name :(

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Zucchini Casserole

I'm still going through all my zucchini recipes this fall, among other things. A friend left to go to Hawaii for the weekend, and gave her huge family size share of CSA goods. I've got onions, beets, radishes, lettuces, corn, potatoes, zucchini, pears, peaches.....and more! Last night I made some roasted potatoes and onions, with an Organic Chicken for the kiddos. I also made this Zucchini Casserole, which my kids inhaled, and declared tasted like lasagna. I think they are on to something, as once they said it, I thought it DID taste like lasagna. Only without the pasta and meat, it's like a healthy version. (I'm not saying "light" version though, you can't leave out that sharp cheddar folks, sorry.)

Zucchini Casserole
from The Not-Strictly Vegetarian Cookbook, by Lois Dribin and Susan Ivankovich

4 zucchini squash (or 1 ginormous one, like I used)
1 lb. sharp cheddar cheese
1 lg can tomato paste (i used a small one, cause that's how we like it)
parsley
oregano
basil
salt and pepper
olive oil

Grate cheese. Wash & slice zucchini (I used my trusty mandoline). Oil a 2 qt casserole with lid. Layer casserole with: a layer of zucchini, sprinkle of salt and pepper, then a heavier sprinkle of parsley, oregano, and basil. Then add a layer of cheese and scatter a few dabs of tomato paste on the top. Sprinkle lightly with olive oil. Continue to layer until you reach the top. Cook, covered 1 1/2 to 2 hours at 350 degrees.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

You say Tomato......

Got this yummy recipe from a friend on Facebook. Tried it out tonight, and it was so good! Now if you look at this, and you are tempted to leave out the mint, and cream sherry, and maybe substitute mozzarella for the cheeses, then stick out your hand for a minute. *slap* not okay! If you want to make Cappellini Pomodoro, then by all means do! I love it - it's a great quick night meal when tomatoes are so yummy like they are right now. However, if you have been making Cappellini Pomodoro for awhile now, and are ready to make a grown up version, or want to impress some guests by talking about how you've been letting the tomatoes soak in cream sherry for the past 2 hours before they arrived, then you want to make my friend's Summer Pasta with Tomatoes, Basil and Cheese. When I went to my trusty wine guy (if you don't have one, you need one. Not the kind that is just working in the wine store because he can't let go of the college years, but my kind. The kind that still looks a little punk rock, is actually a sommelier, and you are pretty sure he owns the place. Oh, and he has to be willing to let my kids raid the lollipops, and listen to me give intimate details about what I'm making for dinner. and like it.) he hooked me up with a huge bottle of cream sherry, that can be kept in the fridge, and I guess you can drink it over the rocks. It's a bit sweet and is supposed to go well with coffee and dessert. I've never had it outside of this pasta, but I'll let you know how it is. For wine to go with the meal, he paired this with Podere De Giuggiolo 2007 Toscana.

I thought the flavors in this were subtle, and I liked them. It won't be too spicy for your kids, so don't worry about those red pepper flakes.

Summer Pasta with Tomatoes, Basil and Cheese

ingredients

2 pounds vine ripened tomatoes, seeded and diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint leaves
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup cream sherry
12 ounces spaghetti (I used Whole Wheat)
1/2 cup freshly grated Asiago cheese
2 cups fontina cheese, shredded

DIRECTIONS
In a medium bowl, toss together tomatoes, garlic, basil, mint, salt and black pepper, hot pepper flakes, olive oil, and cream sherry. Let stand at room temperature for up to 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
Cook the pasta In a large pot of boiling salted water until tender, but firm to the bite.
Drain the pasta, and transfer to a large serving bowl. Drain 1/4 cup of the liquid from the tomato mixture, and toss with the pasta to coat. Add cheese, and toss until it begins to melt. Add the tomato mixture, and toss until mixed.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Oregon Tuna Melts


When I was waiting for a friend at the Tattered Cover (my favorite local independent book store) the other night, I started flipping through the newest Food and Wine magazine. I came across one of those recipes, where the picture itself made me freeze and start breathing very deeply....you know what I'm talking about. That "I want to eat that, as SOON as possible" kind of a feeling. I called my hubby to have him see if it was on their website, and sure enough it was. This is a heavier meal than our family usually eats, BUT after seeing the picture, you can see I had no choice in the matter. yum.



Recipe by Tommy Habetz
Total Time: 25 minutes
Serves: 4 (we'll see about that.....:)
Ingredients
Two 6-ounce cans albacore tuna
1/4 cup finely diced red onion
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon minced basil
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
Salt and freshly ground pepper
4 ciabatta rolls, split
Dijon mustard and mayonnaise, for spreading
Eight 1/4-inch-thick slices of Swiss or cheddar cheese (6 ounces)
Sixteen 1/8-inch-thick lengthwise slices of kosher dill pickle
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
Directions
In a medium bowl, mix the tuna with the onion, olive oil, vinegar, basil and crushed red pepper. Season with salt and pepper.
Heat a panini press or griddle. Spread the cut sides of the rolls with mustard and mayonnaise and top each roll half with a slice of cheese. Spread the tuna salad on the bottoms and cover with the pickles. Close the sandwiches and spread the outsides of the rolls with the butter.
Add the sandwiches to the press and cook over moderate heat until the cheese is melted, about 6 minutes. Cut the sandwiches in half and serve.
HEY - this even comes with a wine pairing. sweet!!
"Wine: Pinot Noir is Oregon’s famous grape, but Pinot Gris also does well there. The minerally 2007 King Estate Signature and the apple-inflected 2008 Chehalem 3 Vineyard would both be good here."

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Pasta with Tomatoes and Zucchini


I'm still going through lots of zucchini.....grilling and sauteing it mostly. But I've been keeping my eyes out for recipes, and came across this one at the Whole Foods website. It got high reviews, and the zucchini is "hidden" (which at this point, is okay:) and it looked fresh and light. Also I am starting to have lots of tomatoes as they have been coming in at the Farmer's Market and the stores. Try this out for an easy weeknight dish. Put the kids to work grating the zucchini, and you'll have this done in no time!

Fusilli Pasta with Roasted Tomatoes and “Hidden” Zucchini

Serves 4

"As you eat this unique recipe the juicy, roasted tomatoes break apart into the pasta to make the sauce right on your plate. People at the table might not even notice the extra serving of vegetables you 'hid' by grating squash into the pasta, but the flavor will make it a winner."

ingredients
6 plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise
2 teaspoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese, divided
1/4 cup chopped basil
1/2 pound Organic Whole Wheat Fusilli
2 zucchini or yellow squash, grated
2 tablespoons lemon juice

method
Preheat oven to 400°F. Arrange tomatoes on a large parchment-lined sheet tray, cut-sides up. Drizzle with oil; season with salt and pepper. Scatter 2 tablespoons Parmesan and 2 tablespoons basil evenly over top. Roast until juicy and bubbling, about 20 minutes; set aside. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add fusilli and cook until al dente, 10 to 12 minutes. Drain and transfer to a large bowl. Add zucchini, lemon juice, remaining 6 tablespoons Parmesan and 2 tablespoons basil. Toss to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Divide pasta onto four plates, top with tomatoes and serve.

nutrition
Per serving (about 9oz/271g-wt.): 310 calories (60 from fat), 7g total fat, 2g saturated fat, 10mg cholesterol, 470mg sodium, 51g total carbohydrate (7g dietary fiber, 6g sugar), 13g protein

Monday, August 24, 2009

Grilled Tuna Kabobs with Peach Mango Salsa

This is a favorite summer recipe in our house! It wasn't until I went to Hawaii when I was 20 that I ever had Tuna in any form other than in a can. But Tuna steak is AMAZING. I had no idea what I was missing. Of course, in Hawaii the fish we ate had been caught that morning, and was incredibly fresh - here we have to do with the frozen. But that's okay. In this recipe with the Peach Mango Salsa, all I have to do is close my eyes to imagine the smell of those Plumeria flowers......



Grilled Tuna Kabobs with Peach Mango Salsa

1 12 ounce package frozen Yellowfin Tuna Steaks, thawed and cut into chunks
2 Tbsp Extra-virgin olive oil
2 lemons
1 cup Peach Mango salsa, divided
1 large yellow onion
2 bell peppers, (red, green, yellow or orange, it doesn't matter), cut into chunks
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup Organic Whole Wheat cous cous, prepared to package directions

If using wood or bamboo skewers, put them in water to soak. (at least 15 minutes, so they don't catch fire on the grill) Preheat an oiled grill to medium high. Cut one lemon in half and slice into thick half moons. Squeeze the other lemon and combine with the oil and 2 tablespoons salsa in a medium bowl. Alternate fish, vegetables, and lemon on soaked skewers. Brush with salsa/lemon mixture. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place skewers on a hot grill and cook 3-5 minutes, basting often with mixture, turning once. Serve kabobs over couscous with salsa for dipping.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Poblano Chiles Stuffed with Black Beans and Summer Squash


I came across this recipe in a book I received as a gift from a dear friend. It's called New Flavors for Vegetables, and it is put out by Williams-Sonoma. It was too spicy for the kids, so I seperately made them some rice, beans, sauteed squash, and some mild salsa. They put all their stuff into some Whole Wheat tortillas. Rob and I LOVED this recipe. I will definitely make it again, and again, and again!

Poblano Chiles Stuffed with Black Beans and Summer Squash
makes 4-6 servings

ingredients

8 Poblano Chiles
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 white onion, finely diced
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 zucchini, diced
2 yellow summer squash, diced
1 ripe tomato, diced
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 can (15 ounces) black beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 bunch of cilantro, leaves coarsely chopped
1 cup cooked white rice (I made Brown)
1/2 cup creme fraiche
small chunk parmesan cheese

Position an oven rack 6 inches below the heating element and preheat the broiler. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and place 2 of the chiles on the prepared sheet. Broil the chiles, turning occasionally, until charred on all sides, about 15 minutes. Set the oven temperature to 400 degrees. Transfer the chiles to a bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let steam for 5 minutes. With wet fingers, pull off the skin from the chiles. Remove the seeds and stems from the chiles, dice the flesh, and set aside.

Cut a 2-inch-long slit in each of the remaining 6 chiles. With a pairing knife, carefully scrape out the seeds from the insides of the chiles.

In a saute pan over medium heat, warm the oil. When the oil is hot, add the onion and a pinch of salt and saute until the onion is soft and translucent, 5-6 minutes. Add the zucchini and summer squash, cover the pan, and saute until just tender, 5-6 minutes. Uncover, add the tomato, cayenne, and a pinch each of salt and pepper and saute for 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let the vegetables cool slightly.

Add the beans, diced poblanos, cilantro, rice, and creme fraiche to the pan and mix well. Spoon the bean mixture into the chiles, dividing it evenly. Place the stuffed chiles, cut side up, in a baking dish, and add enough water to come 1/2 inch up the sides of the dish. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake until the stuffing is heated through and the water has evaporated, about 20 minutes. Remove the foil, grate some cheese over the tops of the chiles, and bake uncovered, until the cheese melts, about 5 minutes.

Serve right away directly from the baking dish.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Summer Cooking



It feels so good to be home, and back in the groove of things, cooking in my own kitchen. The kids have had a three week break off from year round school, and this is the last week. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I let them help pick some of the menu this week. This means usually more meat than I would normally cook, but that's okay. We had chicken and turkey this week, but they were both great recipes.

I am not a fan of turkey, especially not ground turkey. bleh! However, this specific turkey burger recipe is good. It's the only way I'll eat it. Next is a sort of Asian type noodle dish. Both we made from the Whole Foods Meals for 4 for under $15 flyer that I picked up 2 years ago, and still use all the time.



Serves 4
Ingredients

1/2 pound white ground turkey
1/2 pounds dark ground turkey
6 sundried tomatoes in olive oil, thinly sliced, plus 2 tablespoons olive oil from the jar
2 tablespoons chopped parsley (or 2 teaspoons dried)
2 tablespoons chopped basil (or 2 teaspoons dried)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Salt and pepper
4 whole wheat buns or rolls
4 tablespoons garlic and lemon sandwich spread*
Lettuce and sliced tomatoes
Method

Place turkey in a bowl. Gently work in sundried tomatoes plus 2 tablespoons oil from the jar, parsley, basil, garlic, salt and pepper. Take care not to overwork the mixture. Form into 4 patties, making an indentation in the middle of each one to help the burgers cook evenly. Cover and refrigerate an hour to blend flavors. Grill patties until firm and browned and all pink is gone from center, about 3 to 5 minutes per side. Serve on toasted buns with garlic lemon sandwich spread. lettuce and tomatoes.

Nutrition
Per serving (1 burger/233g-wt.): 440 calories (220 from fat), 25g total fat, 3.5g saturated fat, 65mg cholesterol, 660mg sodium, 27g total carbohydrate (4g dietary fiber, 5g sugar), 27g protein


Serves 4
California is known for trend-setting cuisine and much of that is based on the culinary influence of its citizens, including a large Asian population. Here’s a simple take on a cold noodle salad. Add baked tofu, chicken or shrimp if you wish, but it’s delish as is!

Ingredients
8 ounces dried capellini pasta (I used Whole Wheat. Make sure you don't overcook)
1 cup frozen shelled edamame
1 to 2 tablespoons canola oil
6 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, sliced (if on a budget, substitute with something else)
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 cup julienned carrots and/or red cabbage
2/3 cup thinly sliced green onion
1/4 cup sesame seeds, lightly toasted (optional)
Crushed red chile peppers, to taste (optional)
Method
Cook pasta, adding edamame to pot with the pasta when the water boils. Rinse in very cold water, drain and set aside. In a large sauté pan, cook mushroom slices in oil over low heat (do not brown). Turn off heat. Add toasted sesame oil, soy sauce and rice vinegar. Toss shiitake sauce with noodles, carrots and/or cabbage and green onions. Serve topped with sesame seeds. Pass red pepper flakes at the table, if desired.

Nutrition
Per serving (about 7oz/210g-wt.): 420 calories (140 from fat), 15g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 15g protein, 54g total carbohydrate (5g dietary fiber, 6g sugar), 0mg cholesterol, 370mg sodium


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Zucchini Sweet Potato Bread

I've been receiving gifts of zucchini this past week, which has been SO wonderful. Even I can only eat so much of it raw, or grilled, sauteed....and so even though it's hot out, I broke down and made a couple of loaves of bread. I threw some in the freezer, and we've been eating the rest. I really like this recipe because it sneaks in 2 veggies, and anytime you can have your kids eating two servings of vegetables before breakfast is even over, is a good day, right? I would love any experienced Agave Nectar bakers to let me know if they think I could use that in this recipe instead of sugar. With no butter in the recipe, if I could also put Agave Nectar in place of the 2 cups (gulp) of sugar, I would be thrilled. Either way though, it's YUMMY. And you can use the excuse of it not having butter in it, to slather some on when you eat it hot out of the oven. :)

I put the kids to work, and had the boys do all of the vegetable grating. It made this super easy!
I also used half whole wheat flour, and did not make any altitude adjustments, and it turned out great. Don't skip the flour and butter in the pan, you'll need it to get this out in one piece.

Sweet Potato and Zucchini Bread
Bon Appétit November 1992
by Debbie Fleming: Townville, South Carolina
Makes 1 loaf

ingredients

2 cups all purpose flour (I used half Whole Wheat)
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups grated zucchini
1 1/2 cups grated peeled sweet potato
1 cup chopped walnuts, toasted

preparation

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour 9x5x3-inch loaf pan. Sift first 5 ingredients into medium bowl. Beat sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla to blend in large bowl. Mix in zucchini and sweet potato. Add dry ingredients and walnuts and stir well.

Transfer batter to prepared pan. Bake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour 20 minutes. Cool bread in pan on rack 15 minutes. Cut around bread to loosen. Turn out onto rack and cool completely. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Wrap in foil and let stand at room temperature.)

Monday, August 10, 2009

Greens, Chicken and Citrus Salad



While the kids have been off school for these 3 weeks, I let the boys each pick a night where they were "in charge" of dinner. Obviously this meant a lot of help from me, but I still tried to let them do what they could do. I let them flip through cookbooks, and of course they were drawn to anything with pictures. Tonight Isaac set the table, and helped to make this delicious salad.


With a short ingredient list, and only 15 minutes of prep time, this was a great summer dinner.



Serves: 4 (2-cup)
Details: Grapefruit brings a refreshing taste, a pretty look, and a healthy dose of vitamin C and fiber to this salad. (Phase 2)


Ingredients:
2 tablespoons minced red onion
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 (1-pound) head green leaf lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces (8 cups)
1 pink grapefruit, sectioned
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions:
Combine onion, vinegar, 4 tablespoons of the oil, 1/4 teapsoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper in a jar with a lid. Close tightly and shake vigorously to combine.


Season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat remaining oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat; cook chicken until browned, 5 to 7 minutes per side. Remove from heat, cut into 1/2-inch clisces, and toss with 3 tablespoons of the dressing.

Gently toss together lettuce, grapefruit, and remaining dressing in a large bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve salad topped with chicken slices.

Nutritional Information:380 calories
20 g fat (3 g sat)
8 g carbohydate
41 g protein
2 g dietary fiber
190 mg sodium

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Summer Sandwich


We've been getting cucumbers out of the kid's garden and they are so good! I'm not trying to can or pickle anything this year - I don't think we'll end up with enough for that. We're getting the perfect amount to eat really. We've had just a handful of green beans, and herbs. The tomatoes have some green heirlooms on them, all beautiful and knotty. I can't wait until they are ready! In an effort to not get bored with cucumber - all we've been doing is munching on them plain or with some goat cheese and herbs smeared on top - I looked up Budget Recipes on Whole Foods website, and came across this lovely summer sandwich. The kids loved it for lunch today, and I'm excited to have something new for their lunchboxes when they head back to school. I used baby leaf lettuce instead of watercress, and sprouted grain bread.


Serves 4

When summer fruits are at their sweetest, peaches make a worthy substitution for the strawberries in this recipe.
Ingredients
8 large strawberries
4 ounces (8 tablespoons) Neufchâtel, softened
1 tablespoon chopped mint
1 teaspoon lemon zest
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 seedless cucumber, thinly sliced
1 bunch watercress, long stems trimmed
8 slices whole wheat sandwich bread
Method
Chop 4 of the strawberries and slice the remaining 4. In a large bowl, mash chopped strawberries with a fork. Add Neufchâtel, mint, zest, salt and pepper and mix until well combined. Spread strawberry mixture evenly between slices of bread then arrange cucumbers, sliced berries and watercress over half of the slices. Top with remaining slices to form sandwiches then halve each and serve.
Nutrition
Per serving (about 6oz/170g-wt.): 230 calories (70 from fat), 8g total fat, 4g saturated fat, 20mg cholesterol, 670mg sodium, 28g total carbohydrate (5g dietary fiber, 7g sugar), 10g protein

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

July food pics

I'm telling you....this summer is busy! I know pretty soon here it's going to slow down, and I will be back to posting some fabulous recipes for you. But for now, I'm just along for the ride and trying to enjoy every minute. Here's some July food pics.

Here is some Tiramisu a friend and I enjoyed in North Beach in San Francisco. Made from scratch from a lovely little Italian Espresso place, called Cafe Greco.

We walked up to the window at the Pier 1 Seafood Market on Fisherman's Wharf, where you can get the same food for cheaper that they serve in the restaurant, but to-go, and sit outside and eat. I had some Sweet and Sour Calamari with coleslaw, and a cup of clam chowder. yum!!
This is an Eggplant, Zucchini, and Red Pepper Torte that I made for some company. Usually I make this in the winter, so as not to have the oven running for so long, I roasted the veggies on the grill instead. This is one of my favorite all time recipes, and it tastes AMAZING.




This "recipe" I got from a friend. It's so simple - just cantaloupe, blueberries, torn mint leaves, and Agave Nectar. so good! It goes great with any BBQ.



I been eating raw until Dinner again and feel fabulous. It's so much easier in the summer with all the wonderful produce overflowing at the Farmer's Market, and in our kitchen. I wish it could be this way all year long!
Lastly I'll leave you with a recipe I made to use up some Kale. It was pretty good, though the kids weren't crazy about it, Rob and I liked it. I'd make it again. Kale and Mushrooms over Creamy Polenta. I hope you are having some wonderful food adventures of your own this summer!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Summer BBQ menu








This summer has been so busy! I haven't had much time to post on here. Also, as a result, I've been making good ol' standby recipes, and not as many new things. We have some friends coming through town from Minnesota on Sunday though, and they eat a variety of different ways. We have meat eaters, vegetarians, and vegans in the group, and so I need to have a varied menu. When I came across some recipes for a summer BBQ in a free magazine at the natural food store, I new that I had the makings for a great menu. I'm adding a drink, dessert, and some salad with edible flowers from our garden to round out the menu. For the dessert I'm thinking vegan cookies, and another blueberry pie.
(I used Whole Wheat bread for croutons)

I split the recipes in half, and tried them out two seperate nights on my family this week. This helped me see what things I could do ahead for when we serve it to company. Some things I'm doing ahead today are: making the croutons, making the frittata (can be served at room temp), making the polenta, marinading the steak, and clipping the herbs that I need from the garden so they are ready in the fridge. I will also make whatever desserts I decide on today. If I run out of time for desserts, I will buy vegan already made cookies, and then serve fresh berries with homemade whipped cream.
When we made these ahead, my personal favorite was the Grilled Ratatoulle served over the Grilled Polenta. I think it is really hard to find a vegan grill recipe that is so hearty that you truly forget you aren't eating meat - and this one fits the bill. We all ate one serving and were full the rest of the night!
Happy 4th!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Food pictures from May

For our 10 year anniversary, we went to Paris in April. But on the actual night in May we went out to eat at our favorite local restaurant, The Old Blinking Light. We love this little local place, where the chef can be seen at the Highlands Ranch farmer's market buying produce (I've spotted him). This was the dessert they brought us out on the house, when they realized it was our anniversary. :) Chocolate soup! With made from scratch Banana Bread.
This was Rob's meal, Tres Rellenos. They ranged from spicy to mild. Two were roasted, one was fried. Definitely the Poblano was our favorite.

This was my meal. I wasn't that hungry so I just got a bowl of their soup of the day. I read an article in a local magazine about how the chef took a few months off, and learned how to raise his own cattle. So now the beef at the restaurant is from the chef's farm! So I had to try some. This was Green Chili and Mariposa Beef stew. The bread was drizzled with honey......yummmmm!


This is a pic of the TOTALLY cute apron that my friend Joia gave me as a gift :) I LOVE it! I feel so sassy and can't help shaking my hips to the music when I am cooking with this on.

This is just a pot of Italian Wedding Soup with Vegan Meatballs I had cooking up one night, and I took a pic. I used Whole Wheat noodles in it. We make this about 3-4 times a year. I love one pot meals!