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Starred Recipes

3 Stars - A Family Favorite
2 Stars - Really Good, Will Make Again
1 Star - Good Recipe, Probably Won't Make Again

November 29, 2012

Mediterranean Grain Salad

Mediterranean Grain Salad

I really love the versatility of a grain salad.  This version comes from Sandy who taught me the yumminess of this kind of dish.  It's great as a side dish, a main dish, to take to a pot luck, and keeps for a couple of days easily in the fridge.  This version was especially yummy!
You start with 6 cups of cooked grains - whatever you might have on hand.
I had made couscous (not actually a grain) and brown Basmati rice before and froze them to use later.  So I pulled out some of each and defrosted them.
But you could use any grain, or combination of grains including rice, quinoa, barley, couscous, etc.
Once I was ready to make this dish, I heated the rice and couscous in the microwave for a couple of minutes to take the chill off and combined them in my large mixing bowl. 
To my mixed grains I added a can of chickpeas (rinsed & drained), a jar of Kalamata olives (drained), chopped scallions, a chopped cucumber and fresh basil.  I mixed it all up together and seasoned with garlic powder, Kosher salt, and black pepper.

Because I wanted the boys to eat this dish as well, I didn't add tomatoes to the dish, but halved some cherry tomatoes for David and me to top ours with.  If you have tomato lovers at your house, you can incorporate the fresh or sun-dried tomatoes in your grains with the other ingredients.
Then I added bottled Balsamic vinaigrette, tossed the salad together, and served it alongside my other dishes for dinner.
The grain/vegetable/herbs/vinaigrette combinations are endless, but I liked this Mediterranean flair.
If you wanted to, you could also add any additional protein like other beans, meat, cheese, tofu, fish, or shrimp.
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Mango Salsa

Mango Salsa

This versatile recipe comes from Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa herself.  Brennan requested tilapia for dinner this week, and I thought this make-ahead salsa would be an easy topping.  We all liked it and I'll certainly make it again for other dishes.
I modified the dish somewhat and will share my changes with you.
I started by sauteing onion and minced ginger in olive oil until the onion was translucent - about 10 minutes.  Then I added garlic and cooked it for 1 minute.  At that point I added in diced mango, orange juice, light brown sugar, salt, pepper, and diced  jalapeño and cooked it again for 10 minutes.
Ina suggests 2 onions diced, but that seemed like a ton of onion for this non-onion loving set of parents.  So I used 1/2 a yellow onion and the balance seemed right.  I can't imagine quadrupling the amount.
I used 1 tsp of diced  jalapeño, but you could certainly use more!

Then you transfer the dish to a serving bowl and top with mint.  Ina suggests 2 tsp of fresh mint, but I chopped up quite a bit more.
You can then serve it warm, let it come to room temperature, or do like I did and cover it in plastic wrap and pop it in the fridge for later.

It was great on hot out of the oven tilapia!

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November 19, 2012

Corn and Chickpea Patties

Corn and Chickpea Patties

I had my first chickpea patty when I took healthy cooking classes with Sandy, Healthy Coach and Natural Foods Chef.  They were delicious.
I found several other recipes that were similar and I tried one of them recently - and they were super dry.  There wasn't enough dip to make them palatable.
Chickpea Patties are also known as "croquettes" and "burgers".
Tonight I made Sandy's version, and they were so much better!
I cooked frozen corn and chopped onion in olive oil, then combined the vegetables with corn meal, bread crumbs, herbs, and spices with just a few pulses of the food processor.

I knew immediately that these were going to be moist.

Here is my last iteration.  Waaaay too dry.

Once the ingredients were pulsed just to combine, I formed them into patties, dusted them with cornmeal, and heated them for a few minutes on both sides in the same oiled pan I used to cook the onions and corn, spraying on just a little more oil.
I served them with a Greek yogurt and herb dipping sauce, and delicious!
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Chickpea and Tofu Mild Curry

Chickpea and Tofu Mild Curry

I have never made curry from scratch, so I was excited to try this mild curry from the You Are What You Eat cookbook that I've used so much.
There are a lot of ingredients to this dish, but most of them I already had in the fridge, pantry, or cabinet.
I started by cooking onions in olive oil for 10 minutes until they were very tender.
(there's a theme, I'm venturing out and cooking with onions more and more these days)
Then I added in drained/cubed tofu, chickpeas, fresh cilantro, diced carrots, spices, and water. 
I brought it to a boil, then covered it and let it simmer for 10 minutes.

While it was simmering I boiled a large pot of salted water and cooked a pound of shredded kale for about 4 minutes until it was good and tender.
I added in dissolved cornstarch and miso that I had dissolved with a little bit of the curry liquid, and let the curry cook another few minutes.

I drained the kale and placed it on a platter, topping it with the curry and some fresh cilantro.
I served the curry with rice and warmed naan.
The flavors are very mild and might need a little more salt during the cooking process.
But everyone liked it and it made for a nice change of pace!
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आप का खाना स्वादिष्ट हो
(Hindi for "Bon Appetit!")

Dill and Chive Peas

Dill and Chive Peas

This quick and easy side vegetable comes from the October/November 2012 Taste of Home magazine.
We like peas around here, so I thought I'd give this a try.  It couldn't be simpler.
I heated frozen peas in a Corning Ware dish according to the package directions.
I drained out the little bit of excess water.
Then I mixed in the other remaining ingredients - butter, Kosher salt, fresh chives, dill, and lemon pepper.

And served immediately!

They're very tasty, and so quick to make.
The original recipe calls for fresh dill, but I used dried dill.
I'd like to try it with fresh dill the next time I think to pick some up!
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Linguine with Tuscan Kale

Linguine with Tuscan Kale

A few days ago I shared a recipe from Chef Gregory, and this is another one of his.
While we love pasta in our house, I had no idea how this recipe would go over.
That's a lot of kale and a lot of onion. 
I just wasn't sure.
But, it was a hit! 
We had some leftovers, but not much.  I'll certainly make this dish again someday.
You start by cooking chopped onion and garlic in olive oil until transparent. 

Then you add in the thinly sliced kale and let it wilt with the onions and garlic for 5 minutes.
I was lucky that Mary and Mike had just given us some beautiful greens from their organic garden.  This kale was delicious!!

Then you add in vegetable stock and cook for 20 minutes, letting the stock reduce.
Season with salt and pepper, then toss with hot linguine and Parmesan cheese.


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Buon Appetito!

Sweet Potato and Apple Soup

Sweet Potato and Apple Soup
This yummy soup comes from the December 2012 Real Simple magazine.
It was easy and delicious, and really good heated up the next day for lunch.
I started by heating olive oil in my soup pot and adding in chopped onion with salt and pepper.
Then I added in peeled and chopped sweet potatoes, an apple, vegetable broth, and nutmeg, letting it boil and then simmer for 15 minutes.

 Then I turned off the heat and used my handy immersion blender to mix it all up.
And done!

The recipe suggests serving with blue cheese, chopped walnuts, crackers, and sliced apples.
I think these extras made the soup even better!
I served it with thinly sliced apples, chopped walnuts, and feta crumbles.
Warm and delicious!

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November 16, 2012

Brussels Sprouts with Maple Syrup

Brussels Sprouts with Maple Syrup

Mary and I attended a local class last month with Chef Gregory, a popular local chef and former Executive Chef.  His theme was "Fall Favorites".  We watched him prepare a number of dishes then all ate together.  My kind of class!

sneaky iPhone photo

I tucked his recipes away and have been too focused on other things to bother cooking lately, but earlier this week I made a great meal, including my favorite dish from the night - Brussels Sprouts with Maple Syrup.
You could easily lighten up this dish by cutting back on the butter and olive oil, but I followed the directions.  The dish turned out great.  Everyone ate two helpings.  Of Brussels sprouts.  Unbelievable.
Fresh Brussels sprouts are soooo much better than the frozen boiled kind.
You start by trimming the fresh Brussels sprouts and halving them lengthwise, cooking them in olive oil over medium high heat until they're nice and golden on the bottoms.

You then season them with salt & pepper and toss them to cook until tender.

Then you remove them from the pan and add butter and chopped fresh herbs to the pan along with maple syrup, cooking the herbs.
Then return the Brussels sprouts and coat well.

Transfer to a dish and drizzle with the remaining olive oil and serve hot.
A couple of notes:
Really, you don't need that much olive oil and butter.  This could easily be lightened up.
But it was good!
I used fresh chives and parsley but used 1/2 Tbsp of dried sage.  Worked just fine.
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Tunisia Meets Provence Salad

Tunisia Meets Provence Salad
I found this wonderful grain salad recipe in Vegetarian Times and tried it out last week with cooked barley I had in the fridge.  You could use any cooked grain though - brown rice, quinoa, couscous (I know, not a grain, but still...).

I really liked the sweetness that comes from the apple and the saltiness with the olives.
Everyone in the family liked this recipe.
I'll certainly make it again.
The recipe calls for 12 Kalamata olives.  I'd use the whole jar next time.
And I didn't peel the green apple as the recipe suggests, but you certainly could.
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Bon Apetit!

November 4, 2012

Bulgur Salad with White Wine Vinaigrette

Bulgur Salad with White Wine Vinaigrette

A dish that I make often because it's so versatile and easy is a Grain Salad. 
I have lots and lots of recipes for these great dishes and they go by many names.

Grain Salads
Rice Bowls
Veggie Grain Mixes

It depends on the cookbook author or chef as to what they're called.
I learned more about these dishes when I took cooking lessons with Sandy this past spring.

I've come to trust my instincts on what would work well together, so I thought I'd share the latest salad I assembled.

These salads have 3 components:

A Grain
Chopped Vegetables and Herbs
A Vinaigrette

The possibilities really are endless!

I wanted to try a white wine vinaigrette that I jotted down when watching Food Network many months ago.  I don't remember who the chef was who prepared this - sorry!.  It's a simple vinaigrette that worked well with the bulgur (a.k.a. bulgar and bulghur) and vegetables that I chose.

You can use any grain in a Grain Salad.  I happened to have bulgur that I cooked up so I planned to use it.  You could also use cooked brown rice, barley, couscous, millet, quinoa...  I've made many varieties.

You can also use any vegetables.  I chopped up cucumber and carrot, and added chopped fresh parsley.

I tossed the bulgur, vegetables and herbs together, then made the vinaigrette in a container with a tight lid. 
The White Wine Vinaigrette was very easy - I included olive oil, white wine vinegar, salt & pepper, fresh parsley & basil, Dijon mustard, and garlic. 
Tip:  I would use garlic powder in place of chopped garlic next time.  It was a little bitter.
Toss and serve.
This is great at room temperature alongside a couple other dishes (I made tilapia and bread this night).  It's also great as leftovers.
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November 3, 2012

Cucumber Salad with Peanut-Lime Viniaigrette

Cucumber Salad with Peanut-Lime Vinaigrette
This recipe comes from the September 2012 Vegetarian Times
It was a great compliment to the Thai-Thai Birdie Wraps for dinner one night.
This recipe is very simple.  I started by whisking up the vinaigrette.
I used grapeseed and toasted sesame oil that I get at Kroger, and use quite often.
You could use peanut oil instead of grapeseed.


Then I peeled and sliced two good sized cucumbers and placed them on a platter.
I drizzled with all of the vinaigrette.

Then topped with chopped peanuts and cilantro.

Some family members added a little Sriracha to the top. 
This side dish was a hit!
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(kŏr hâi jà-rern aa-hăan!)
Bon Appetit in Thai

Thai-Thai Birdie

Thai-Thai Birdie
Another yummy recipe from the Abs Diet author/creative recipe namer.
This is an easy weeknight recipe that everyone in the family surprisingly enjoyed.
I made a vegetarian version, but you could also add grilled chicken to this dish for a heartier meal, which makes a lot of sense given the name of the recipe.
Warm tortillas in the microwave for 30 seconds each. 
Spread peanut butter down the middle, then top with matchstick carrots, chopped cilantro, fresh mixed greens, and top with chili sauce if you'd like a kick.

I had Sriracha on hand, but it's super hot.  

Roll up and enjoy!

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(kŏr hâi jà-rern aa-hăan!)
Bon Appetit in Thai