Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas salad

A quick and delicious lunch on a day where you'll eat your weight with dinner:

Make sure you have:
1 pt. grape tomatoes or 3 large tomatoes
3 small persian cucumbers
1/4 large red onion
feta cheese (big block in the brine is best)
fresh mint (totally worth it)
olives (kalmatta are yummiest)
red wine vinegar
olive oil
salt & pepper

And then:
  • Thinly slice the onion and place in a small bowl.  Add enough red wine vinegar to mostly cover, about 1/4 cup.  Set aside.
  • Chop tomatoes, cucumber, olives and feta into bite sized pieces.  Add to a large bowl and add salt & pepper.  Roughly chop or tear a good handful of mint and add to the bowl.  The salt will start bringing liquid out of the tomato and cucumber, so you are likely to use only part of the wine vinegar from the reserved onions.  
  • Add the onions to the rest of the salad, reserving most of the vinegar .  Squeeze half of a fresh lemon over the top
  • whisk olive oil into the reserved vinegar, then start by adding half of this dressing and tossing the salad.  Add remaining dressing as needed
  • Pour yourself a glass of white wine and sit down and gaze at the tree and reflect on how awesome your life is.  Or at least marvel at how damn yummy the salad is.  OH, and how good the pecan, bourbon and chocolate pie will be for dessert!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Painlessly roasted vegetables

It's such a treat to discern the subtle differences in flavor of vegetables. Yet it is so simple to bring the flavors out by roasting.  Really, there's no wrong way to roast veggies, but it can be intimidating and often requires some advance planning.  I love to roast a big batch when I have plenty of time and then use throughout the week.

Make sure you have:
- nonstick baking sheet or roasting pan
- good olive oil
- salt & pepper
*optional seasoning of your choice (tony cachere's for spicy, garlic salt or spike for savory etc.
- veggies of your choosing

    • squash family - eggplant, yellow squash, zucchini, butternut squash etc
    • mushrooms
    • root veggies - carrot, onion, potato, sweet potato, shallots
    • kale!
    • cherry tomatoes
    • garlic (see note on this one)
And then:
- preheat the oven to 350ยบ F  (you have some flexibility on this)
- chop to a consistent size and place on baking sheet 
- season all with a fair amount of salt and pepper
- use your hands to gently toss the veggies with olive oil and place in the oven for 30-45 minutes or until you can easily insert a fork in the pieces.  it takes much longer for dense root veggies to roast than it does for delicate zucchini and depends a great deal on your oven.

roasting garlic - I love this flavor, but it can be a little trickier.  to  do this, chop across the top of the bulb to expose the individual cloves. Place in the center of a square of heavy duty aluminum foil and drizzle the exposed cloves with olive oil.  Bring the corners to wrap the clove in foil.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Monday, September 9, 2013

Five Seed Almond Bars

I start every day with a jumbo mug of coffee & cream and a five seed almond bar from Trader Joe's. They have just the right balance of salty and sweet, chewy with a slight crunch and only have 110 calories/bar (or 3 points for those doing WW).  Are you sold yet?  Anyhow, a bag of 8-10 bars is $3.99 and we easily go through 2/week. Each time I pick up a few bags, I feel wasteful, so today I did a first attempt at recreating them.  I modified this recipe from Cannella Vita, a la Seedsproutsavor but without a food processor, the raisins didn't become quite the paste I'd hoped.  I used a combination of chia, sunflower, pepitas, flax and poppy seeds.  Golden raisins and flax oil.  Next time I'll put a tad of molasses and a pinch of ginger!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Prosciutto wrapped Salmon with quinoa

Cooking fish is intimidating for many, and I admit to not cooking it as often as I'd like.  Quinoa fits the same description for me.  Screw either of them up and no one is happy with the result.  Salmon seems to be a family favorite, and a quick teriyaki generally makes it's way into our dinner rotation.  Tonight I decided to try something different.  

Make sure you have:
Wild Alaskan Salmon Filet
olive oil
salt & pepper

And then:
Use a paper towel to pat salmon dry.  Season generously with salt & pepper.  Wrap prosciutto around the salmon fillet and brush with olive oil.  Place in a 375 oven for about 10 mins.

The key to making quinoa tasty is to first rinse and drain well.  Then toast the grain in a dry skillet until it begins to pop.  The taste is soooo much better!

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Breakfast taco cups

Brunch is my favorite meal.  I love everything about it.  The time of day, the flexibility of foods, the gathering of friends that tend to accompany good food. My favorite brunches those that begin with a hot, strong cup of coffee with cream and segway into a mimosa or moscato. While I usually make a frittata or a basic strata when I'm hosting, this time I went for something with a tex-mex slant. Turns out they were especially delicious with the quick pico de gallo on top.  

Make sure you have:
10 large eggs
12 corn tortillas
cooking oil (for softening the tortillas)
cooked fajita/taco meat or chorizo or roasted veggies
shredded cheddar or jack cheese

And then:
Preheat oven to 375
Warm tortillas in microwave or in a bit of warm cooking oil (this helps them get nice and crispy)
Place one tortilla into each cup of a muffin tin, folding edges as needed to make a sturdy base
Cook tortillas in the warmed oven for 8-10 minuts, until they are starting to firm, but not brown
Remove muffin tin from oven, and carefully layer meat & cheese within each cup
In a separate bowl, beat and season the eggs with salt and pepper
Pour eggs carefully into each cup
Bake for 15 minutes or until eggs have set and tortillas are browned and crispy on edges
Serve with salsa or pico de gallo and cholula or tabasco sauce

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Grown-up grilled cheese

Think of it as a Monte Cristo, but without the deep frying.  This is a standard throw-down-quick dinner in our house and is easily tweaked to fit the palates of those who don't like goat cheese.

Grown up Grilled Cheese
Make sure you have:

  • Sourdough
  • butter
  • goat cheese
  • prosciutto
  • apricot jam

And then:
  1. Spread goat cheese on one slice of sourdough, top with prosciutto and place on buttered griddle
  2. Spread a layer of apricot jam on the other slice of bread and place atop the prosciutto.  
  3. Butter that top slice of bread and flip the sammy over
  4. Grill until the cheese is nice and melty
  5. Serve with a little more jam on the side, and a little salad of mixed greens tossed with a basic vinegrette
YUMMERS! It's comforting and classy, all mixed together.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Summer lovin': the grill!

In a recent discussion about lunchbox appropriate items with O, age 7.999999, he informed me that he likes meat that's "chewy".  "You know, like steak."  Ummmmmm......ok.  So, onto the week's grocery list, steak was added.  I did this with the hope that there'd be plenty of leftovers so that I could put some in his lunch for summer camp for the next couple of days.

I'd marinated a flank steak in what remained of some Korean teriyaki-ish sauce and some italian dressing.  I know, classy, right?  But as we prep for a cross-country move, the refrigerator needs to be cleaned out.  Anyhow, seems it's taken me forever to figure out how to grill anything more sophisticated than a hot dog.  But tonight, I figured out a few key grilling notions:
  • Marinate the meat for a good couple of hours in the fridge
  • Let the meat come close to room temperature before putting on the grill
  • Pull meat from marinade, then salt & pepper before placing on grill
  • Flank steak cook time is approx. 7 minutes per side
  • Let it rest, 5-10minutes 
  • Grilled baguette is everyone's favorite
Tonight's menu items were: Greek Salad with Grilled Flank Steak and baguette

Greek Salad
 Make sure you have:
  • Persian cucumbers
  • ripe tomatoes
  • Kalmatta olives (pitted)
  • Red onion
  • Greek Feta in brine
  • handful of fresh basil & mint leaves
  • Romaine
  • Garlic salt (TJ's grinder is my fave)
  • Black pepper
  • Restaurant style italian dressing (Red wine vinegar, olive oil, lemon, herbs)
And then:
  1. Thinly slice the onions and rinse in water, drain and soak in a bit of dressing
  2. Chop cucumber, tomato, olives, feta, and herbs into roughly the same sized dice, season with garlic salt and pepper and toss all with dressing.
  3. Just before serving, add chopped lettuce and toss again.  Season as desired
Speedy & delicious Flank Steak
At least 2 hours ahead (or in the morning) of time make sure you have:
  • Flank steak
  • Marinade makings (vinegar/oil based dressings or marinades are easy!)
  • Large ziploc bag
And then:
  1. Place steak in the ziploc and pour marinade over meat.  Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  2. When you begin preheating the grill, pull the ziploc out of the fridge and place on counter
  3. When the grill is ready, take meat out of marinade and throw away excess.  
  4. Season generously with salt and pepper.  This seemed to make a nice crust on the meat
  5. Grill approx 7 minutes per side
  6. Take off the grill and cover with aluminum foil and allow to rest for 5-10 minutes
  7. Slice thinly against the grain and serve over greek salad

Monday, June 17, 2013

Feed this family

I'm such a fan of a well-told story.  One that starts out grippingly and throws a couple of curve balls, and then, naturally, has a brilliant ending. I aspire to be as good a story-teller as I am a listener.  J likes to tell me and the boys that it takes 10,000 hours to get really good at something.  So, here's to the start of my 10,000 hour journey in storytelling.  Food, friends, family and fun along the way.