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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

July 21, 2013

Quinoa Salad with Avocado and Kalamata Olives

Quinoa Salad with Avocado and Kalamata Olives
This recipe comes from the New York Times online.
I thought it sounded like a good way to eat quinoa (keen-wah), which is high in protein and a nice alternative to rice.
Before you cook quinoa, you need to rinse and drain it a few times to get the soapy residue off.  It cooks quickly.

When the little white string in the seed is present, you know it's done.  It's as easy as making rice according to the packaged directions.

After making the quinoa you toss it in a bowl with a seeded & diced cucumber, Kalamata olives (I halved mine), and chopped fresh mint and parsley.  I seasoned it with sea salt and black pepper.

Then I whisked the dressing ingredients together - lemon juice, vinegar, Dijon mustard, garlic, olive oil, and either buttermilk or plain yogurt.  I used plain Greek yogurt with a Tbsp of water to give it a dressing consistency.
You toss half of the dressing with salad greens of your choice (I used romaine), and the other half of the dressing with the quinoa salad.  I served the greens and quinoa separately, but you could combine them.

Top with diced avocado and Feta crumbles (optional).
I really loved this salad - I would do it again even without the dressing.  The boys were neutral, but David liked it too.  The quinoa salad portion was great the next day with new greens.
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July 15, 2013

Strawberry-Thyme Lemonade

Strawberry-Thyme Lemonade
This super-yummy lemonade comes from Real Simple magazine and is intended for both family and adult drinks.
This lemonade base is perfect for sipping in the sun, and you can add a splash of vodka to turn it into an adult version.
Brennan and I can vouch for the family-friendly variety.  It is really, really tasty over crushed ice!
Start by heating sugar, water, and thyme sprigs until the sugar dissolves.

Hull and slice a quart of strawberries.
Remove the thyme sprigs and add the thyme syrup, fresh lemon juice, water, and the strawberries to a large pitcher. 
Stir and chill 30 minutes.
Pour over crushed ice, garnished with a sprig of thyme.

Really, really delicious!!
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Pumpkin Seed and Spinach Pesto

Pumpkin Seed and Spinach Pesto

I have made lots of pestos.  Here are links to Light Basil Pesto, Kale and Walnut Pesto, and Avocado Pesto.  While all similar, they're unique enough to make at different times. 

This recipe is great for a dip - as I did with carrots this afternoon while watching Harry Potter 2 with Brennan.  Also good with pasta, as a spread for a sandwich or baguette, on top of sauteed vegetables, and as a dip with crackers.

I wish I could give credit where it's due, but someone gave me a copy of this recipe.  I'm pretty sure it's been in my to-make folder for a long, long time.

Heat the oven to 350* and toast raw pumpkin seeds for 15 minutes until golden.

While the seeds are toasting, bring a pot of salted water to a boil and blanch the spinach, garlic cloves, and thyme sprigs for 1 minute.  Remove from the water with a slotted spoon and let the spinach cool.  Then squeeze out any excess moisture, and pull the leaves from the thyme sprigs.
Combine the spinach, thyme, garlic, slightly cooled pumpkin seeds, grated Parmesan and olive in a blender or food processor and season with lemon juice and sea salt.  Blend until smooth.
This recipe makes a "dry" pesto, so if you want a more "wet" one, add more olive oil.

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Tomato Salad

Tomato Salad

The farmer's market had some great looking tomatoes on Saturday, so I picked up some to take to the lake.  They disappeared!  David said they may have been his favorite food that he ate at the dinner!

I made a vinaigrette by whisking together olive oil, white wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, minced garlic, and fresh basil. I added a little sea salt and pepper.

I cut red, orange, and yellow tomatoes into 8 wedges in and tossed with the vinaigrette.
I let it chill until we were ready to eat.

Once we were ready to eat, I tossed the tomatoes again, drained off the excess vinaigrette, and added some more fresh basil and parsley.
Then I topped it off with feta cheese crumbles, and we served it with dinner.
(no need to drain the excess vinaigrette if not adding feta)

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Simple Sauteed Vegetables

Simple Sauteed Vegetables

This recipe is long overdue for my sweet friend Emily who is learning to cook and is wanting to introduce more vegetables into her family meals.  She had sauteed squash at a meeting luncheon we attended in April and thought it was amazing.  I assured her it was simple, simple, and I would provide more specific instructions.  Here's what I do (this time with Brennan's help).

These are the beautiful vegetables that Mary brought to Brennan and me last week (along with fun family movies!).  We sliced everything up kind of thick - organic squash, zucchini, kohlrabi (my first time!), and peppers. 

You can either spray the hot saute pan with olive oil spray or pour a little olive oil into the pan with the vegetables.  Spread them out and cook them on each side about 5 minutes.

We sprinkle them with garlic powder, sea salt, and black pepper for a little flavor.

The red potatoes I did separately because the other vegetables had already started and I knew these would take a few minutes longer, being thicker.  We sauteed them with fresh rosemary from Mary's garden.  

Then we tossed all the vegetables together, added a little fresh parsley and a touch more sea salt and served.  We also microwave the leftovers the next day.
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Lentil Salad

Lentil Salad

I found this recipe in the April/May 2013 Vegetarian Times.  I thought it sounded like a great dish to make ahead of time and take to the lake this weekend.  It was really great - I will make this again and again!

I started by cooking a bag of lentils in broth.  They only take about 15 minutes.  I drained them and scooped out 4 cups worth, keeping the rest for another use.

While the lentils were cooking I asked Brennan to make up the vinaigrette of Dijon mustard, white wine vinegar (you could also use red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar), olive oil, Kosher salt, and pepper.

This recipe calls for 2 cups of chopped vegetables like carrots, fennel, celery, or radishes.  I went with carrots and radishes, dicing them somewhat.

Add the lentils, vegetables, diced cucumber, fresh parsley, and season with Kosher salt and pepper.  Refrigerate for up to a day and top with more fresh parsley before serving at room temperature.
It was a great accompaniment for the brats, sweet corn, fruit salad, tomato salad, chips, and Gouda and apple appetizer that Brennan made for us! 
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July 12, 2013

Massaged Kale Salad

Massaged Kale Salad
I read a review of a restaurant's Massaged Kale Salad online and wondered what in the world this is.  I had never heard of a "massaged salad" so Googled it.  I read several recipes on various websites, combined them all and made my own this week.
The various online recipes called for different versions of kale like dinosaur kale and black kale.  I used Kroger Kale - what was available to me without much research! 
I understand from Mary that Russian Kale is delicious fresh.  I don't normally think of kale as something I would eat raw.
But a massaged kale salad is raw, and is very tasty.
This will be a staple recipe in my house.
You start by washing and trimming the stems off of a large bunch of kale.  Then cut the kale into 2 inch pieces (bite-sized pieces).
Place them in a large bowl and sprinkle on Kosher salt and the juice of an entire lemon.
Then massage the kale with your hands vigorously for 3 minutes.
The salt and lemon juice will start to wilt the kale.
Then add in olive oil and massage for another 2 minutes.
(I think this is a great job for a junior chef who might be hanging around the kitchen wanting to help mom).
Then toss in fruit and raw seeds or nuts.
Diced apple and mango were the most recommended fruits.
Raw sunflower seeds and pepitas were recommended as well.
I went with apple and pepitas for this salad.

After the photo I decided to mix in the apple so that it wouldn't turn brown on me.  I wanted to save the leftovers in the fridge because it will apparently keep for several days.

The kale is very lemony, but I like it a lot.  A chunk of apple with a piece of kale cuts the lemon flavor down.  I think this is a great way to serve this super nutritious veggie!

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Mexican-Style Sweet Corn

Mexican-Style Sweet Corn
I found this recipe in Redbook Magazine and knew the boys would especially like it.
I modified it just a bit, reducing the amount of butter their recipe called for.
When we lived in Mexico, we enjoyed visiting local parks.  The boys were so young - just toddlers/preschoolers while we were there - and a trip to the park was a big outing :)
At all the parks, and lining the streets in the little towns, were fresh fruit and fruit juice vendors.
And one of the most popular street food was Mexican corn on the cob.
And it was muy, muy rico!
I was always a little leery of buying food off the street in Mexico, especially for the boys.
But we did enjoy some Mexican corn - what with it being cooked and all :)
The corn I remember the most was when we were visiting the rainforest in the state that we lived in, a beautiful lake park.
After walking around enjoying the beautiful scenery, we enjoyed some corn.
Media Luna
Brennan (2) at Media Luna
I could just squeeze him.  He is so darn cute.
What made it different was that they roasted it on an open grill, then squeezed lime over it, dusted on some cayenne pepper, cheese, and then had mayo or melted butter for you to add if you wanted to.
Really, really good!
This recipe is for cut sweet corn.  I didn't have fresh grilled, so I used frozen, and cooked it first according to the package, and drained it well.  Then I added it back to the pot.
I added in butter and cayenne pepper and let it cook for 3 minutes.

Then I removed it from the heat and stirred in grated Parmesan, Kosher salt, and fresh lime juice.

The boys really liked this version.  I think I could use quite a bit more cayenne pepper, especially a dusting on top before serving.  But 1/4 tsp might be enough for your family. 
Brennan mentioned this corn from lunch when we were at a play last night. 
How much he loved it. 
Didn't have the heart to tell him I finished it off with my dinner :)
Looks like I'll be making it again.
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Buen Provecho!

July 10, 2013

Delish Summer Salad

Delish Summer Salad
This salad comes from my friend, and chef and wellness coach Sandy Thomas.  She shared this recipe with us in a cooking class I took with her last year.  I took this salad to a party for the 4th of July, and made it again for the family last night. 
It's really delicious!
Cook frozen edamame according to package directions.  I used frozen sweet corn, so I cooked that as well.  Grilled fresh sweet corn would be great!
Then I rinsed a can of black beans and a can of cannelini beans and drained them well.  I tossed together the corn, edamame, black, and cannelini beans with grape tomatoes.
I mixed up the quick vinaigrette of olive oil, rice vinegar, sherry vinegar, and Dijon mustard.  Once it was emulsified, I tossed it with the vegetables.  Before serving I added ribbons of sliced fresh basil and seasoned with sea salt and pepper.

Of course, I made a tomato-less version for my no-tomato eaters. 
 David let them know that our version was not only prettier, but tastier.  They still declined the tomato version :)
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July 8, 2013

No-Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

No-Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies
I have been making these cookies for years.  I don't remember where I got the recipe, but I'm pretty sure it was a church cookbook.  Maybe my grandmother's church?  I have several so I could go back and look through them, but I vaguely remember finding this recipe years ago as I was reading through a newly gifted cookbook.
These are very simple and kids can make them, with a little supervision.
I made them for kids this time around when I attended a couple of parties over the 4th of July weekend where there would be plenty of kids to enjoy them.

And I made them while watching Bridget Jones's Diary.
I paused to get started on my cookies after Bridget had her heart broken by Daniel Cleaver, and was headed to the dinner party with lots of smug married couples.  You know, where at the end Mark Darcy tells her he likes her. 
Just as she is.
You bring sugar, milk, cocoa, and butter to a boil, letting it boil for 1 1/2 minutes.  Then you remove it from the heat and immediately stir in peanut butter and oatmeal.
And then it needs to seriously cool.  But not too long or it is difficult to shape them into cookies without them crumbling.  I would say 20 minutes.
Or, in my case, until the end of the fight between Daniel and Mark after Bridget's birthday dinner (with the blue soup). 
Then form the cookies (I usually end up making more like balls than cookies - but any shape works), and let them sit on wax paper to cool completely so they won't crumble apart.
Serve, and store any leftovers (ha) in an airtight container.

Tom:  Well done Bridge, four hours of careful cooking and a feast of blue soup, omelette and marmalade. I think that deserves a toast, don't you? To Bridget, who cannot cook, but who we love
just as she is.
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Easy Mushroom Rice Pilaf

Easy Mushroom Rice Pilaf
On the back of the Lundgren's short grain brown rice package, Brennan found a recipe for easy mushroom rice pilaf.  He cut it off the package and I tucked in away in my thick file of recipes-to-try.
When Thomas was gone last week to camp, it was a great time.  Thomas does not like mushrooms, so he wouldn't miss out.
Brennan and I picked out a box of fresh shiitakes to try with this recipe.  I've read that button mushrooms don't have the same nutritional properties that other mushrooms have, plus shiitakes are "meatier", and I like them the best.  You could use any mushrooms here.
So, my first attempt at this dish didn't work great.  The directions stated to put all the ingredients in a pot, bring to a boil, then simmer covered for 50 minutes.  I think the mushrooms soaked up too much of the broth.  I kept adding more, and adding more, but it took much longer than 50 minutes.  The dish was still good, but let me share with you what I did to make it much faster the second time I made it.
I soaked the rice in a bowl, covered with a dishcloth, for 6 hours.  You could also do this overnight.  Then I drained the rice and followed the directions - much, much better.  The rice cooked well and I didn't have to add any extra broth.  It was delicious.

And with only a few ingredients that I usually have on hand - mushrooms, brown rice, fresh parsley, broth, garlic, olive oil, pepper - it is definitely an Easy recipe.

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Sauteed Mustard Greens

Sauteed Mustard Greens
This recipe comes straight from Anne Burrell at  I was looking for a healthy, simple way to cook greens like mustard, collard, and turnip and found this one that I liked a lot.
Start by washing the mustard greens and remove the hard stems.  Cut them into 2 inch pieces.  You don't have to dry them thoroughly.

Heat olive oil (a Tbsp or so) in a large pan with halved garlic and red pepper flakes.  Allow the garlic to brown slightly and get really fragrant.  Discard the garlic.

Add the greens and cover, cooking until they are wilted.
Stir in the red wine vinegar, and season with Kosher salt.
Serve hot.
I didn't have red wine vinegar so I used Balsamic and it was too vinegar-y.  The second time I used red wine vinegar and it was much, much better.
I'm going to try this dish again with other greens.  But it certainly worked well with mustard greens!
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