Monday, September 15, 2014

Sriracha Butter

Are you a griller?  Admittedly, I am not.  The two things I avoid, as far as cooking goes, are baking with yeast (it hates me and refuses to cooperate) and the grill.  I love it when my husband or my Dad grill up something, and I will prepare everything for the fire—as long as I am not the one doing it.  Why?  I don’t know.  I’ve never done it and I guess I’m intimidated.  So even though we live in sunny Southern California, we eat pan-fried steaks much more often than grilled.  Sound boring?  Not when you serve them with Sriracha Butter!
This is a Martha Stewart recipe I found in the back of her magazine this summer.  If you haven’t tried it yet, Sriracha is a brand of hot sauce that is beloved for it’s spicy, fruity bite.  If you don’t have Sriracha handy, try another hot sauce – just not something that’s got too much fire!  The other ingredient that makes this butter special is the anchovies.  I didn’t have any, but I always have a tube of anchovy paste in my fridge (for this Caesar salad recipe and this Green Goddess dressing).  HINT: Any time you see an anchovy fillet in a recipe, you can substitute one inch of anchovy paste.
We ate this on sirloin steaks that were very lean, so the added flavor and fat from the butter were a welcome addition.  My spice-shy daughter loved it and even put some on her steamed cauliflower!  Ready to try it?  Let’s go!
Sriracha Butter
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 2 anchovy fillets, minced (or use a 2-inch squeeze of anchovy paste)
  • 1 tablespoon Sriracha or other chili sauce
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • salt to taste (I didn’t add any extra salt to mine)
  1. Mash the softened butter together with the anchovies, Sriracha, and garlic.  Taste to see if you want any more salt.  Refrigerate until ready to use.  Melt on steaks, cooked vegetables, or potatoes.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Tarragon Green Bean Salad

Green beans – get ‘em while they’re hot!  Or cold.  They’re in season now, so green beans are cheap and plentiful.  My husband likes them best splashed with olive oil and roasted in the oven, but sometimes you don’t want to heat up the house.  For a yummy, summery green bean dish that’s delicious warm or cold, try this Tarragon Green Bean Salad!
Fresh herbs are a joy, and this recipe uses parsley, tarragon, and green onions.  Technically this may be a green goddess salad dressing, and it IS wonderful on a salad with fresh tomatoes.  You will have enough dressing left over to do just that!  Make the dressing while the beans are cooking and this recipe is ready in a snap.  Let’s go!
Tarragon Green Bean Salad
  • 1 pound fresh green beans
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1-inch squeeze of anchovy paste or one small anchovy fillet (you can sub soy sauce if you must)
  • 1 fist full of parsley
  • 1 fist full of tarragon leaves
  • 2 green onions
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons yogurt (or sub sour cream)
  • juice of 1 lemon (or sub tarragon vinegar, if you’re fancy!)
  1. Prep the green beans:  cut off tops and tails and cut the beans into 1-inch pieces.  Put the beans in a covered dish with some water and cover.  Microwave for about six minutes.  You want the beans tender-crisp.
  2. While the beans are steaming, make the dressing:  Blend all the rest of the ingredients in a food processor.  It doesn’t have to be homogeneously smooth, but you don’t want to bite down on a big chunk of garlic!
  3. To serve:  Toss the beans in half of the dressing.  Serve warm, or refrigerate until ready to serve.  It’s great cold too, especially with grilled meats.  Serve the leftover dressing with salad and tomatoes, or use it as a dip for carrots and peppers.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Fruity Energy Bars

I’ve got a lot of hoops to jump through when it comes to making snacks for my girls.  I try to eat Paleo myself, and while I do serve my girls grains and legumes, I am always searching for recipes that rely on Paleo ingredients first.  Next, my older daughter is allergic to peanuts and tree nuts.  That eliminates a giant swath of choices in the Paleo category, which excludes grains in favor of nuts.  So for baking, that leaves me either coconut products (which we love and use often), or seeds, like pepitas or sunflower seeds.  I found a recipe that sounded good, reconfigured it for our needs, and now I proudly present:  Fruity Energy Bars!
In the grocery store, you’ll find half an aisle dedicated to energy and granola bars.  I love them and I love that, for the most part, they’re healthy and nutritious.  They are, however, kind of pricy – sometimes two or three dollars a bar!  And it seems like the ones with the fewer ingredients are even more expensive!  (I’m looking at you, Larabar!)  Now, these Fruity Energy Bars couldn’t be quicker – just three minutes in the food processor, and about half an hour to chill and firm up.  I think you could easily exchange the dried cranberries for another dried fruit – apples, apricots, raisins, prunes, or cherries would all work.  If you want to use nuts instead of sunflower seeds, try almonds or walnuts.  They do warm up very quickly and get soft, so keep them in the fridge until ready to eat.  Ready?  Get energized!

Fruity Energy Bars

  • 1 cup pitted dates
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup sunflower seeds (I used roasted and salted)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips
  1. Pour all the ingredients into the bowl of  your food processor.  Pulse to blend, then mix for about 3 minutes.  You can blend it all the way together and it will form a ball, but I took mine out before that so I could still have a little texture to the bars – kind of like the consistency of sticky sand.
  2. Line an 8×8 pan with plastic wrap, or grease with a little coconut oil.  Press the mixture into the pan and press down with the back of a big spoon.  Refrigerate for at least half an hour.  Cut into 1″x4″ bars.  Get energized and go be productive!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Crockpot Pork Tacos

If your idea of Mexican food is based on the dollar menu at Taco Bell, you are in for a treat!  Authentic Mexican food is easy to make at home and is quite healthy for you.  This Monday was Cinco de Mayo, so I made these Crockpot Pork Tacos, and they were muy delicioso!
In Mexico, and in authentic Mexican restaurants here in California, there is no shredded lettuce or cheddar cheese.  Tacos are simple and small and are often eaten on-the-go, so they’re not all covered in sauces or messy vegetables.  Chopped onions and cilantro are usually the only thing you’ll see, with a squeeze of lime.  I added avocado to mine because it pairs great with the pork.  It’s a traditional accompaniment to tacos and adds a creamy note to balance out the sharpness of the raw onions.
As far as the pork goes, I usually use a big shoulder roast, but you can use whatever pork roast you like.  The seasoning is simple here, but you can spice it up as much as you want.  Try adding a can of chipotles in adobo sauce for a smoky flavor, or a jar of salsa verde to the crockpot.
Finally, tacos are kind of like sandwiches.  You can make a thousand different kinds of sandwiches and all are tasty.  But if you only ever eat a turkey sandwich, you may never know how much you’d love a Reuben.  So:  if taco night at your house always means ground beef and diced tomatoes, you owe it to yourself to try something new.  Ready?  Vamanos!
Crockpot Pork Tacos
  • 1 large pork roast, 2 or 3 pounds
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1 or 2 avocados, sliced or diced
  • corn tortillas
  • lime or lemon wedges, to serve
  1. Combine the salt, garlic powder, and cumin, and rub all over the outside of the pork roast.  Place in your crockpot and cook for 8 hours on low.  When done, the pork should pull apart easily.
  2. Warm up your tortillas:  I wrap a few tortillas in a clean, damp dish towel and microwave for 20 seconds.  If you try to use them cold, they’ll crack!
  3. Shred your pork with two forks, or chop roughly.  To serve, put about 1/3 cup of shredded pork in the center of a tortilla.  Sprinkle with cilantro, onion, and avocado.  Squeeze lime over taco.  Eat several.  Don’t wipe your hands on your pants!
If you have leftovers, and I always do, I usually skip the tortilla and just eat the pork, reheated in the microwave, covered in cilantro, onions, and avocado.  Skip the carbs, and squeeze lots of lime!

Strawberry Overload Cake

Despite my tomboy nature, both my daughters are girly-girls.  Princesses, fairies, dress-up, and everything pink rules their world.  This year we ended up celebrating my three year-old’s birthday on Mother’s Day, so I had a lot going on and didn’t want to spend too much time planning and decorating an elaborate cake.  Instead, I found a recipe online for a strawberry cake, created a strawberry frosting for it, and filled it with even more fresh strawberries.  The result isStrawberry Overload Cake!
The strawberry flavor comes from three sources:  fresh berries, frozen berries, and strawberry Jell-O.  Be sure to keep the cake in the fridge until time to serve.  The original recipe called for two 9-inch round cake pans, but I used a rectangular 9×13 pan and cut that in half to make two layers.  Your girly-girl will delight in the layers of pink in this sweet treat!
Strawberry Overload Cake resize
Strawberry Overload Cake
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 three-ounce package of strawberry Jell-O
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  • 2 3/4 cups sifted cake flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup pureed frozen strawberries
  1. Preheat the oven to 350*F.  Grease and flour your pans (two 9-inch round, or one 9×13 rectangular.)
  2. Cream together the sugar, Jell-O and butter.  Blend in the eggs, one at a time.
  3. In a small bowl, mix together the flour and baking powder.
  4. Add the flour mixture and milk to the butter mixture, alternating flour and milk, and blend well.  Mix in the pureed strawberries.
  5. Pour batter into pans and bake.  Check the cakes at 25 minutes.  I took mine out at about 35 minutes, because I was using a bigger pan.  Do a toothpick test to make sure the cake is not wet inside.
  6. Cool for ten minutes in the pan, then turn out on a rack to continue cooling.
For the frosting and filling:
Strawberry Frosting
  • 1 8-ounce package of cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 stick butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup whipped cream (or try Cool Whip)
  • 1 cup fresh strawberries for layering
  1. In a pot with a lid, simmer the frozen strawberries and break them up with a wooden spoon, smashing them.  When they are all cooked and smashed, add the cream cheese, butter, and lemon juice and beat with a hand mixer.
  2. Add in the powdered sugar, beating well.  Beat in the whipped cream.  Taste.  It should be sweet tart – the cake is very sweet, so I wanted the icing to be a little different.  You can add a squeeze more lemon if you like, or  take it the other direction and add more sugar if you like.  It’s pretty flexible and you can change it to suit your taste.
To assemble:
  1. Cut the large cake in half, width-wise, so you have two 9×6 rectangles (or just put one of the round cakes on a plate.)  On a large serving platter, place the cake on the bottom, and frost the top of it with about half a cup of the frosting.  Slice the fresh strawberries and layer them over the frosting.  Carefully add another layer of frosting on top of the fresh berries.  Then place the next layer on top and frost the whole thing, top and sides.  Garnish with more fresh strawberries.
  2. This cake is kind of dense and rich, so small pieces are a good thing.

Shrimp with Cilantro Pesto

One thing that will bum me out, without fail, is seeing a wilted, mushy bunch of herbs that I didn’t get to in time.  Just makes me feel terrible.  So I had this nearly full bunch of cilantro in my produce drawer and no clue what to make with it.  Aha!  How about try it in pesto?  This recipe forShrimp with Cilantro Pesto was a big hit at dinner last night!
You can cook the shrimp however you like.  Here, we just pan-fried them quickly with salt and pepper, and let the pesto do the heavy lifting in the flavor category.  This comes together so quick it’s laughable.  Make the pesto whenever you like – even the day before – and keep in the fridge until you are ready to eat.  We ate this with roasted baby potatoes and roasted broccoli.  The pesto was especially delicious on the potatoes.  Try it and see!
Shrimp with Cilantro Pesto
  • 1 large bunch cilantro
  • 1/3 cup toasted pepitas
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • juice of 1 lemon or lime
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 pound shrimp, peeled
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  1. Wash and shake the cilantro and trim about half an inch off the bottom of the stems.  Place them in the bowl of a food processor.  Blend with the pepitas, garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil.  Taste and add salt and pepper to your liking.  Pour into a bowl and store in the fridge until ready to use.
  2. Prepare the shrimp: peel the shell off, remove the tail, and de-vein.  Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil.  Heat a pan on medium-high, and quickly sauté the shrimp.  They will only take about 2 minutes per side – don’t let them get tough and overdone!  Remove shrimp from pan to a plate and serve with the cilantro pesto (and a squeeze of lemon if you like.)

Grilled Caesar Salad

Before we go any further:  Yes, you grill the lettuce.  Say what?!  I first encountered this recipe at an Italian restaurant in our neighborhood a few years back.  It was a revelation—you can grill lettuce! And  instead of making it nasty and squishy, just a tiny bit of char adds so much flavor and texture as to change the whole dish!  Then I saw the idea again in a magazine last week and, that was it, I had to try it at home.  (Okay – I made my husband do the actual grilling.  But I supervised, I promise!)
The dressing comes together in a snap in the food processor (or you can do it old-school in a wooden salad bowl with a fork, but I find it is hard on my forearms!)  The only ingredient you may not have is anchovy paste.  It’s pretty cheap and lasts forever in your fridge, and it adds that “umami” flavor you can’t get anywhere else.  It’s also great in spaghetti sauce, if you’re worried you won’t make a lot of Caesar salad.  This dressing also calls for a raw egg yolk.  I would highly recommend buying the highest quality eggs you can find – check your local farmer’s market – or at least getting organic, free-range, or both.  (If you are immunosuppressed you could substitute a spoonful of store-bought mayonnaise, but it’s just not the same.)  Also, you’ll notice there are no croutons on my plate.  We almost never eat bread, but if croutons are your thing, go ahead and pile them on!
This salad was a side dish to a dinner of grilled steaks and grilled veggies.  Feel free to chop up some grilled chicken and make it a whole meal!  For a side dish, plan on one half of a head of lettuce per person.  If you are making it the main dish, serve a whole head of lettuce per person.  Curious?  Let’s go!
Grilled Caesar Salad
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon anchovy paste
  • juice of one lemon
  • 1/4 – 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 head romaine lettuce
  • croutons and grated parmesan cheese to serve
  1. Prepare the dressing:  In a food processor, blend together the garlic, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, egg yolk, anchovy paste,  and lemon juice.  Blend in 1/4 cup of oil.  Taste to see if you like the consistency.  If you want it more diluted, add more oil.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  2. Prepare the lettuce:  Slice it vertically down through the core.  You have two long halves now.  Wipe with a dry paper towel.  The lettuce needs to be completely dry or else it will stick and wilt.  No washing it, no oiling it!  Place the lettuce on the grill, cut side down, for 2 minutes without moving it.  With tongs, take it off the grill and lay it grilled-side up on a plate.  Don’t cover it or it will get soggy.  Drizzle with dressing, and add croutons or grated cheese to serve.  Eat it now!

Crunchy Chopped Salad

I think this was originally a recipe from a South Beach Diet cookbook.  But I started making it so long ago, and have added and deleted ingredients over the years…so that I am not sure it’s the same one in the book.  That’s okay – it’s not about exact ingredients.  You can add or subtract as you like.  It’s about CRUNCH!  And that’s what you get in this Crunchy Chopped Salad!
I know that chips aren’t great for me.  I usually don’t crave them, and I make sure I don’t keep them in the house (because as a stay-at-home mom, you DO eat whatever is in the pantry!)  But sometimes you just get that urge for something kind of salty and crunchy.  I make this salad instead.  Is it the same?  Of course not!  (Otherwise I’d call it Doritos Salad!)  But this satisfying, fun-to-eat dish  scratches that itch for me, and maybe it will for you too.
If you need a break from lettuce, try this.  If you have lots of singleton vegetables in your crisper drawer, try this.  If you want something fresh and different for your next cookout, try this!
Crunchy Chopped Salad
(Serves four as a side dish)
  • 6 baby carrots
  • 1 bunch radishes, trimmed
  • 3 stalks celery, trimmed
  • 2 Persian cucumbers, or one large cucumber
  • 1/2 red bell pepper
  • 1/2 yellow bell pepper
  • 2 green onions
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • juice of 1 lemon or lime
  • 2 or 3 drops of honey
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 avocados
  1. Wash and trim all your veggies.  Cut them all into medium-small pieces.  This is up to you, but for example, I cut the peppers into 1/2″ square pieces.  The radishes, cucumbers, carrots, and celery all get sliced vertically, then cut into 1/4″ slices.  If you dice everything too small, you won’t get the crunchiness.  If you cut everything too large, you’ll only get one or two veggies on your spoon at a time.  Experiment and see what size you like best.  If you are using a large cucumber, you may want to peel off the waxy skin and scoop out the seeds.  I like Persians because they are thin-skinned and have very little squishy gel around the seeds.  Pile all your chopped veggies into a big bowl and toss.  Beautiful, right?
  2. In a little food processor, blend up your garlic, lemon juice, honey, salt and pepper, and 1/4 cup olive oil.  Taste and dilute with more oil if you like.
  3. To serve, dish the salad into a bowl and drizzle liberally with dressing.  For each serving, dice half of an avocado and place it on top (otherwise it gets smushed.)  Eat this salad with a big soup spoon so you get a little of each vegetable in every bite!
If you have leftovers, you can mix in a can of tuna the next day.  It’s wonderful!

Cranberry Orange Scones

If you have kids, you probably know what summer break is like:  trying to keep them busy and entertained without letting their brains turn to mush!  One of my favorite ways to do that is baking together.    I have my older girl (first grader now!) read the recipe out loud, and both girls love to stir and mix and pour ingredients.  Today’s group baking exercise?  Cranberry Orange Scones!
These are gluten-free, made with coconut flour.  If you’ve never tried it, I can’t recommend it highly enough.  For six big scones, you only need half a cup of coconut flour!  I like making treats for the girls that are single serving – that way there’s no arguing over whether the slice of bread is big enough, or having to share the last one.  These came together in a snap.  I made some changes, but the original recipe (found on the Elana’s Pantry website) directs you to mix all the ingredients in a food processor, and I’m sure that would have made the recipe go even faster!  But because my girls wanted to help, we mixed them by hand – dry ingredients in a large bowl, wet ingredients in a smaller bowl, and then mixed wet into dry.
Try these little heaven-scented beauties today!
Cranberry Orange Scones 
(Gluten-Free)     makes six large scones
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil or softened butter
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup dried sweetened cranberries
  • zest of one orange, plus the juice of half the orange
  1. In a large bowl, blend together the flour, salt, and baking soda.
  2. In another bowl, beat together the coconut oil or butter, honey, and eggs.
  3. Mix the egg mixture into the flour mixture.  Stir in the cranberries, orange zest, and orange juice.
  4. On a Silpat mat or parchment paper, make six mounds of dough.
  5. Bake for about 15 minutes at 350*F.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Crockpot Chicken Curry and Curry Chicken Stew

Two for the price of one!  That’s what you get when you start this recipe in the crockpot.  It’s not very glamorous, but oh boy! does it smell and taste divine!  A simple list of ingredients  and a crockpot are all you need to make two delicious meals: Crockpot Curry Chicken and Curry Chicken Stew!
First you need a can of coconut milk or coconut cream.  It needs to be a can, because the coconut milk “beverage” they put in cartons is all watery, and you need the high fat content of the canned stuff.  Trader Joe’s has both canned coconut milk and coconut cream, or you can try an Asian market or online.  Next thing you need is curry.  You can use curry paste; I just used curry powder and it was lovely.  You’ll need an 8-ounce package of mushrooms, any kind – I used regular button mushrooms, but shiitakes or creminis would be nice too, and give it a stronger flavor.  And last is this beauty:
Chinese Broccoli resize
I buy it at the farmer’s market from a Vietnamese lady who tells me it’s called “Chinese broccoli”.  A little online research shows its real name is kai lan.  Its leaves are like spinach, and its cooked stems have the consistency of asparagus.  If you can’t find it, use spinach instead…although the Chinese broccoli has a stronger, more bitter flavor.
I made this with whole chicken legs – skin, bones and all – but I think next time I’ll try it with just boneless, skinless thighs.  Chicken skin in the crockpot is not a nice thing – we actually peeled it off before we ate the Curry Chicken the first night because it just seemed kind of rubbery.  But I think the skin and bones do add to the stock for the stew the next day, so it’s up to you.  Either way, you get two healthy, delicious meals out of one crockpot – you can’t beat that!
Crockpot Curry Chicken
  • 3 pounds whole chicken legs
  • 1 can of coconut cream, or use coconut milk (not low-fat)
  • 3 tablespoons curry powder or curry paste of your choice
  • juice of 1 lemon or lime
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  1. In a large crockpot, set the time for 8 hours on low or 4-6 on high.  Put the chicken legs on the bottom.
  2. Mix together the coconut cream, curry, lemon juice and salt.  Pour over the chicken and stir to combine.
  3. Cook until a thermometer reads 180*F.  Remove chicken legs from the pot and cover them with foil.  Pour the coconut broth into a large pan and simmer for about 15 minutes.  It will reduce a little.  Serve chicken legs with coconut broth.
Now, at this point, I had 2 very large legs leftover and about a cup of coconut broth.  I put them together in a Tupperware container.  Then the next day, I made…
Curry Chicken Stew
  • 1 tablespoon butter, coconut oil or olive oil
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 pound Chinese broccoli, cut into 2-inch pieces  (or use fresh spinach)
  • 2 large cooked chicken legs (or use 1 pound of chicken thighs)
  • leftover coconut broth – as much as you have
  • optional chicken broth
  • optional jasmine rice to serve
  1. In a large pan, saute the mushrooms in 1 tablespoon butter, coconut oil, or olive oil.  Stir, and after five minutes, add the Chinese broccoli and cover.
  2. While the mushrooms are cooking, prepare the chicken:  peel off the skin and any subcutaneous fat you find from the cooked chicken legs.  Remove the meat from the bones and roughly chop.
  3. Add the chopped chicken and remaining coconut broth to the mushrooms and Chinese broccoli.  If you want it to be soupier, add some chicken broth.  Cook until the chicken is hot, about ten minutes.
This would be lovely with some steamed jasmine rice!  I ate this for lunch, and liked it so much I ate it again for breakfast.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Samson's Carrot Cookies

For Christmas, I got my kindergartner The Disney Princess Cookbook, and I’m so happy I did!  With pretty princesses on every page, it features real recipes (and not just cake mix plus applesauce-type concoctions) that are great for parents and kids to make together.  I have her read the recipes, and she’s learning about following directions, measurements, and even fractions!  We’ve made a few things from her cookbook, but the one we like best is Samson’s Carrot Cookies.
Samson, if you don’t know, is the name of Prince Phillip’s horse in “Sleeping Beauty.”  These cookies are soft and cake-like, with carrots, apples, and cranberries.  (We omitted the walnuts since my girl is allergic, but I know they’d be delicious!)   These make great bribes for little girls who stay in their beds all night, too.  (Yep… guilty!)   Try them this weekend with your favorite little prince or princess.
Disney Princess Cookbook resize
Samson’s Carrot Cookies
(from The Disney Princess Cookbook)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • (we added 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger.  It’s not in the recipe but it was a lovely addition)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup shredded carrot
  • 1/2 cup shredded apple
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries (raisins would work too)
  1. Heat the oven to 375*F.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon,  nutmeg, and ground ginger.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the brown sugar and melted butter.  Then beat in the egg with a fork.
  4. Stir the flour mixture into the sugar mixture until the batter is smooth.  Then stir in the oats, shredded carrot and apple, walnuts, and dried cranberries.
  5. Drop rounded tablespoons of batter onto the cookie sheet, spacing them about 1/2 inch apart.
  6. Bake the cookies until they just begin to turn golden brown on top, about 8 minutes.  (NOTE: The recipe says ’8 minutes’, but I found 12 minutes was more like it in my oven.  Let’s say check at 8 minutes, but be prepared for 4-5 more!)  Leave them on the baking sheet for 2 minutes before moving them to a wire rack to cool.

Laurie Samson's Carrot Cookie resize
Hey Mom, I stole another cookie off the counter while you were writing your blog! Want a bite?

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Crustless Kale Quiche

Talk about a tongue twister!  It’s worth the effort to say, and the little bit to make, because this Crustless Kale Quiche hits the spot.
I’ve only made this once … and I’ve already eaten almost half of it.  The kale adds a little bitterness and chew to what would otherwise be a run-of-the-mill spinach pie.  Nutmeg, currants, and pepitas add an almost sweet, Middle Eastern flavor profile.  The three eggs are just enough to combine the ingredients without becoming heavy or custardy like a regular spinach quiche.  Don’t get me wrong – a traditional spinach and swiss cheese quiche is wonderful, but this one is lighter, with an unexpected combination of flavors that will have you craving it again.
I ate this hot, and I ate it cold, cut right out of the fridge.  I ate this with a big slab of goat cheese on top and I ate it plain.  I’m going to eat more of it with dinner tonight and see if I can’t discover some new way to enjoy it.  If you want your greens, with a little extra zing, try this instead of a salad tonight!
Crustless Kale Quiche
  • 1 pound bag of frozen chopped spinach
  • 1 large bunch of kale
  • 3/4 cup pepitas (or try pine nuts or sunflower seeds)
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil (or butter) plus more for greasing the pie plate
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic (about 2 cloves)
  • 1/2 cup currants or raisins (next time I’m trying golden raisins!)
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 eggs
  • Goat cheese, to serve, if desired
  1. Wash the kale and remove from the stem, tearing it into smaller-than-bite-sized pieces.  Saute on medium heat in a large pot with a lid.  Don’t add any extra water or oil – just the damp kale by itself.  Stir occasionally until it gets soft, about 15 minutes.  When it appears soft and has reduced in volume, pour in the bag of frozen spinach.  Stir to combine and replace the lid.  Cook on medium-low for another five minutes until the spinach is thawed.  Remove from the heat and let cool.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350*F.  While the spinach and kale are cooling, heat the coconut oil over medium and add the pepitas.  Stir frequently for 5 minutes, then add the garlic and currants.  Stir for another 3 minutes.
  3. Squeeze out as much water from the kale mixture as possible, then dump it into a large bowl.  Pour over the pepita mixture and combine.  Add nutmeg and salt.
  4. Beat 3 eggs well and mix into kale mixture.  Grease a pie plate, then fill with the kale mixture.  Smooth it down so you have a flat top.  Bake for 35 minutes or until not wet in the middle.  Serve warm or cold, with goat cheese or without.

Sweet Pea Soup

I call both of my girls “Sweet Pea.”  My Mom called me “Sweet Pea” too.   So when I was working on a recipe to use up the last of my buttermilk and stumbled on this tempting combination of peas and mint, I couldn’t help but give it a cute name:  Sweet Pea Soup!
Peas and mint are a natural springtime match-up.  This soup comes together in half an hour, and with another half hour to chill,  it will be ready to eat.  I used both frozen peas and pea pods (which are all over my Farmer’s Market, and probably yours, too.)  If you can’t find pea pods, just double the frozen peas and use a full pound.  The recipe calls for you to strain the blended soup, which gives it a more silky, smooth texture.  You can skip this step if you are in a hurry, or if you like a little thicker body to your soup.  Either way I think you’ll love it, and so will all the “Sweet Pea’s” in your life!
Sweet Pea Soup
  • 1 cup pea pods, any kind
  • 1 onion (sweet Vidalia would be nice, but I just used a regular white onion), chopped
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 8 ounces frozen peas
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 handful mint leaves (save a few pretty ones for garnish)
  • salt to taste
  1. In a large pot, heat the pea pods and onion in the butter.  Cook over medium heat for ten minutes until the onion is getting soft.
  2. Add the frozen peas and chicken stock.  Cook on medium for ten minutes.
  3. Turn off the heat.  Pour in buttermilk and mint.  Blend with an immersion blender, or transfer to a large blender and blend in batches until smooth.  Taste and add salt to your liking.
  4. Strain the soup through a mesh sieve (or not, your choice.)  Cool in the refrigerator for half an hour.  Serve chilled, with additional mint leaves for garnish.

Tzatziki Wrap

What a fun word to say:  Tzatziki!  With spring in full swing now, I am in love with using fresh herbs in as many ways possible.  This recipe for my Tzatziki Wrap uses a small handful of dill. Dill is a lovely thing to grow in a windowbox, if you can, or in your garden, because it goes with so many other flavors and cuisines.  If you have leftover dill after making the tzatziki, use it on fresh or smoked salmon.
Tzatziki is just a fancy way to say “yogurt dip.”   It is found in Greek and Mediterranean dishes, and goes well with all grilled meats—chicken, beef, lamb, salmon—as well as vegetarian dishes like falafel.  Blend this up in your food processor in five minutes, and enjoy for lunch or a light dinner tonight!
Tzatziki Wrap 
(Makes two wraps)
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt (Greek yogurt or regular.  Avoid nonfat as the texture is too runny)
  • 1 big handful dill sprigs, any tough parts trimmed away
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 large cucumber, peeled and seeded
  • 1/2 red bell pepper
  • 1/2 green bell pepper
  • 1 cup baby spinach, or a few leaves of romaine lettuce
  • 1 cooked chicken breast
  • tortillas or pita bread for wrapping
  1. Make the tzatziki:  In a food processor or blender, blend the yogurt, dill, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and garlic together.  Cut the half a cucumber in half again, and add one half to the blender and combine.  (You should now have one-quarter of a cucumber left.  Math!)  Refrigerate the tzatziki until ready to use.
  2. Slice the peppers and cucumber into very fine strips.  If you are using romaine lettuce, wash and dry the leaves and stack them on a cutting board.  Cut the leaves into fine strips.  Mix the peppers, cucumber, and lettuce in a large bowl and toss to combine.
  3. Very thinly slice the chicken breast.  Prepare your tortilla or pita bread for filling.  (I always warm up tortillas in the microwave, covered with a damp paper towel, so they’re pliable and won’t break.)  Fill tortilla with chicken breast slices, vegetables, and a big drizzle of tzatziki.  Roll up and eat, with more tzatziki if you like.
  4. Cutting carbs, or do you have leftover wrap filling?  Toss with tzatziki and eat it like a salad!  It also goes great as a dip—try with carrots.

Pickled Red Beet Eggs

I remember as a kid being very sad one Easter Sunday.  It was because, when I peeled one of the eggs I worked so hard to paint and dye and sticker-ize and bedazzle—all that work—the inside looked just like a plain, un-dyed egg!  (I hope my Mom told me that beauty is only skin deep.)  But later on in the day, I was delighted when my Mom took the big container of Pickled Red Beet Eggs out of the refrigerator! When you cut into one of these purple beauties – surprise! – the color went all the way through to the yolk!
This recipe is a great way to use up those hardboiled eggs.  I’ve found my kids like dyeing them way more than they like eating them, so I am usually guaranteed half a dozen eggs to use in this dish.  This is an old Pennsylvania Dutch recipe that came from my Mom and her mother, in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.  You can adjust the ratio of vinegar to sugar, but I like how these are sweet-tart and firm.  Some people add very thinly sliced onions to the beet brine, and others add whole cloves.  I like them with just these 4 ingredients.
You’ll want to let these soak for at least 2 days.  I wouldn’t let them sit more than a week, but I really doubt they’ll last that long!  Make sure the eggs and beets are in a deep and narrow container so everything is submerged – if you go shallow and wide, your eggs won’t color evenly and you’ll have to rotate them at least 2 times a day.  So raid the kids’ Easter baskets and start pickling!

Pickled Red Beet Eggs
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 cans sliced beets (not pickled beets)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup vinegar (you can use white or apple cider)
  1. In a sauce pan, place eggs in one layer.  Fill pan, covering the eggs with an inch of water.  Cook on high until a boil is just reached, then immediately remove from heat and cover with a lid.  Set a timer for 13 minutes.  When the time is up, drain the eggs and fill the pan with ice and water.  Let cool.
  2. Peel the cooled eggs and put them in a deep container with a lid.  Dump the two cans of beets and their juice into the container, followed by the sugar and vinegar.  Swirl around to dissolve.  Store in the refrigerator for at least 2 days, making sure the eggs are submerged (or turning them if they are not.)  Cut eggs in half and serve with beets.