Category Archives: recipes

Quicker In The Kitchen

room to cookSpilling onions, splashing balsamic, near fatal misses with a cleaver. Been there? Every time I am, I think, “I can prevent this! Why am I not helping myself?” Because usually I’m rushing and sometimes I’m just lazy. Here are a few time savers that I’m learning along the way.measure out#1 Doesn’t this just create more dishes? Well, yes, but… I’ve found that if I pre-measure certain ingredients for a recipe I’m WAY more efficient with my time in the kitchen. By now, I can eye-ball things like two tablespoons of olive oil, or a cup of water. But a 1/4 cup? 1 1/2 teaspoons? Where this tip comes in handy: All the ingredients are out, ready, and measured properly. bigger bowl#2 Again, sometimes I am hesitant to pull out a larger dish or whisk than I need because it creates more work later. But really, for all the times that I have whisked vinaigrette in a tiny bowl and had it spill (Or how about flour puffing everywhere with one wrong move?). Where this tip comes in handy: I can be precise with my mixing or whisking without fear of spillage, which can slow things down and frustrate the cook, n’est-ce pas? spread out#3 Pull out everything you need for your task, be it small or big. For chopping, have your compost and serving/measuring bowls handy. Use a large enough cutting board. Choose your knife size accordingly. Minimize the clutter. Where this tip comes in handy: Avoid spills and be safe by giving yourself space to work. research#4 And my favorite: Learn from your cookbooks. From time to time I will sit down with a cookbook or two and go to my happy place. I find it fun and relaxing, and saves time in the long run! So, instead of spending 2 hours running back and forth from stove to recipe, I am familiar, prepared, and efficient from a little pre-reading. Where this tip comes in handy: 5 minutes of research can save you 20 in the kitchen. *Also, try cooking more difficult recipes for the first time when you DO have the time to linger and learn. Then the second or third time around will be quicker!

ON THAT NOTE: HOW TO MAKE CLEAN UP EASIER!

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Lentils

photo-10When the fridge is empty, but your pantry is stocked, this is a great lunch or side for dinner. It’s very filling and delicious!

LENTIL SALAD WITH MUSTARD & TOMATOES (from GP’s It’s All Good)

1 cup lentils (dark green French)

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1/2 tablespoon coarse seeded mustard

Juice of a 1/2 lemon

2 tablespoons white vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)

1/4 cup olive oil

a large pinch of salt

1/2 onion finely diced (shallot, red, or vidalia onion will work)

1 cup halved cherry tomatoes

chopped basil to top (if you have it!)

Cook lentils in a pot of simmering salted water, about 20 minutes. Drain lentils and set them aside to cool.

In a small bowl, whisk together mustards, lemon juice, vinegar, olive oil, and a large pinch of salt. Add lentils, onions, tomatoes, and basil. Season with salt and more lemon to taste. It’s even better if it can sit at room temperature for a half hour before serving.

Another lentil hit? Try Chef Michael’s Curried Red Lentil Dhal. Yum.

 

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White Bean Soup

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This soup really blew me away today. For the minimal time and ingredients it has such a hearty, comforting, lodgey taste. It almost feels like I could be looking out on the Sochi slopes, with a mug of soup in hand, bundled in a Russian-knit wool sweater, fleece lined leggings…and, of course, my Costco socks.

WHITE BEAN SOUP (adapted from Bread and Wine)

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 shallots, diced

1/2 pound carrots, sliced small coin size

1 build fennel, sliced thinly

4 celery, sliced thinly on diagonal

1 sprig of rosemary roughly chopped

3 cans white bean in liquid + 1 can liquid from the white beans

salt and pepper to taste

VINAIGRETTE:

2 teaspoons Dijon

balsamic vinegar

olive oil

In a large pot, soften shallots in olive oil over medium high heat. Add carrots, fennel, and celery. Soften 10-15 minutes.

Add beans in their liquid and the extra bean liquid, rosemary, and salt. Simmer at a gentle boil for 25-35 minutes (depending on your time).

Using the back of a wooden spoon, mash the soup for a chunky texture (This really makes it creamy!). Remove from heat and serve with toppings of choice (vinaigrette, parmesan, rosemary, shredded bacon)

For the vinaigrette: whisk the dijon, and a 2:1 ration of oil to vinegar. Mix until creamy and drizzle over soup and stir in to add a rich and rustic taste.

DSC02241DSC02243The most nature light in our apartment comes through the bedroom that faces the West. It’s my favorite time of day in our sub-earth abode. 

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Chicken & White Bean Chili

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This is comfort food with my name written all over it. It’s gluten and dairy free friendly but gives everyone the option to add toppings that suit to taste!

Our family used to frequent a mexican restaurant that was to die for. Without fail I ordered the Pollo Ajillo, chicken with garlic and tomato sauce. And I remember thinking, “We have to figure out how to recreate this at home.” And we never did. The flavor was too unique, to original.

Whenever I go to my sister’s house I usually end up raiding their fridge for something to snack on. And Laura is always gracious to let me be nosey. But really I’m paying her a compliment because be it fresh fish sticks or left over meatballs, Laura has the gourmet touch. That woman could turn rocks into a delicacy. And on one occasion I opened those stainless steal doors. Two hands. Standing dead center for full viewing. Wide open. And there was a near replica of the Pollo Ajillo of my childhood…The fork lifted to my mouth and…

“How did you make this!” I exclaimed.

She then showed me the recipe. Delicious on a winter’s night and even better left over for lunch the next day. Be prepared to be amazed if Mexican suits your fancy, because for how incredibly simple this recipe is, it is mouthwateringly mouthwatering.

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CHICKEN & WHITE BEAN CHILI

3 chicken breasts*

olive oil

salt and peper

2 yellow onions, diced

1 red bell pepper, chopped

3 garlic cloves, crushed

3/4 teaspoon cumin + 1/2 teaspoon chili powder+ 1/2 teaspoon paprika

28 oz. can diced tomatoes

14 oz. can cannellini beans

Preheat the oven to 425 degress. Brush chicken breasts with olive oil and season with salt and peper. On a baking sheet with parchment paper, bake  in oven for 25 minutes. Let cool then shred meat with your fingers. Set aside.

In a large soup pot, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onions, bell pepper, garlic, spices, and a large pinch of salt. Cook until vegetables are softened, stirring here and there, about 10 minutes. Add tomatoes and a pinch of salt. Bring mixture to a boil then turn the heat on low, cook for 1/2 hour. Add beans, chicken, and 1/3 cup water and simmer for another 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and serve with toppings of choice.

*Time Saver: Use cooked rotisserie chicken or chop rather than shred the cooked chicken breasts.

adapted from GP’s It’s All Good

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Breakfast

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I grew a fondness for breakfast during my college years. Not only was it the cheapest meal to go out for but sometimes 6:30 a.m. was the only time of day we could all get together to celebrate a birthday or a friend passing through on a visit. I know. But those are some of my fondest memories.

These days I try to have something light and simple but yummy whether I’m headed to work or around the house. Often, I’ll have any one of the following adjusting ingredients and quantity accordingly (note: I’ve excluded the christmas cookie breakfast).

SWEET QUINOA BOWL

Quinoa / maple syrup / almond milk / almonds (any nut) / berries (optional)

ALMOND AND KALE SMOOTHIE (sounds like a bummer, but it’s not)

1 cup kale / 1 cup unsweetened almond milk / 1 tablespoon almond butter / 2 dates / 1 tablespoon coconut oil. Blitz in a blender until smooth (adapted from GP’s Its All Good)

GREEK YOGURT WITH BERRIES

Greek yogurt (any flavor) / frozen berries (warmed in the microwave but not hot) / honey

BERRIES WITH MINT

Frozen berries (thawed) / honey / mint

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And of course, some comfort breakfasts for the weekend company or tea with girlfriends.

Anna’s GF Almond Cake

Jenny’s Cranberry Scones

Ree’s Breakfast Potatoes

Deb’s Cinnamon Swirls

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Ottolenghi’s “Plenty”

DSC01548My parents got me this lovely cookbook for my 24th birthday. Mom had received it as a gift while I was living at home and we all benefited from each d.e.l.i.c.i.o.u.s. and unique recipe.

Plenty’s author, Chef Ottolenghi, writes a masterpiece…as far as I’m concerned. You read the recipes thinking, “Hm. I would have never put those together” or “Plenty? Are you sure? But it’s all vegetables!” But each one is a pleasant surprise from the first bite to the last and it is, indeed, plenty. Most are also easily adapted depending on whats in your pantry (within reason) for either a full meal or as a side to a protein, because we do love us some meat.

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This past week I had a head of savoy cabbage in my fridge that needed to be used. So I adapted the following recipe and with a hearty “Hooray”, my palette (and wallet) rejoiced.

Cabbage, Cranberry, and Dill Salad

Serves 4

1 medium cabbage, chopped

1/2 bunch of dill, roughly chopped

1 cup of dried cranberries (or dried cherries)

grated zest of a half lemon

6 tsp lemon juice

1/4 olive oil

1 garlic clove, crushed

salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients and mix with hands. Let sit for 10 minutes. Mix again, then adjust salt to taste (Ottonlenghi says you’ll need a fair amount of salt to counteract the lemon, but always taste then adjust).

To serve, lift the salad out of the bowl using your hands, leaving most of the juice behind.

Adapted from Plenty

Ottolenghi has two more recent cookbooks

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I Finally Did It! Chocolate Chip Cookies

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I did it! I made full and fluffy chocolate chip cookies! This is big for me because my history with these cookies is not so good. Think paper thin, stick-to-the-pan butter puddles. Hm. And then two things happened: I followed a different recipe from this cookbook AND I used my mother-in-law’s baking sheets.

These may not look like anything special to you, but to me, it’s close to a work of art! More so… it’s that I conquered.

My sister wrote a little blurb on this cookbook and actually got it for me as a bridal shower guest book. This is the fourth recipe I have made from it among sugar and gingerbread cookies and French onion soup. 4 out of 1,000 recipes. Cool.

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It’s Friday. Enjoy your family and home and tree this weekend. Christmas is almost here!

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Winter Cider

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Here is a *simple* recipe for making cider for your next holiday bash or family night! Taught to me by the dear friend who gave me these mulling spices as a gift.

WINTER CIDER

The recipe varies depending on how much you want to make. You can’t go wrong, and you can always taste as you go!

2 parts Apple Juice

1 part Cranberry Juice

2 tablespoons Mulling Spices (or toss in 5 whole cloves, half of an orange rind, 1 cinnamon stick, and 2 whole allspice)

In a large pot, pour juice together and add spices. Set on a low heat for 25-30 minutes. Remove spices using a spider skimmer or strainer-sifter. Keep on low heat while serving.

Mmmmm. Enjoy. 

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A Holiday Menu

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This Saturday we’re having a small gathering with some family and friends. I put together the menu last week and also have the help of family with a few of the dishes (phew, thank you!).

Because this is my “first” hosted holiday dinner party, I wanted to do something less “turkey-like”. I didn’t want to bite off more than I could chew….so, this is our menu:

APERTIF

Pistachios

Olive Tapenade with Crackers

Crudités with Dill Dip

DINNER

Butternut Squash & Kale Chicken Pot Pie

Plenty’s Sweet Winter Slaw

SK’s Caesar Salad (sans the chicken)

Smashed Potatoes with Sage (a various of this recipe, brought by Mom)

Bread and more bread

DESSERT

Flourless Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Coulis

Christmas Oranges & Chocolate Chip Cookies

All are very easy recipes. It’s my first go at the cake and pot pie, but both came highly recommended by my sister.

 Happy Friday!!!

photo from Bon Appetit

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Stovetop Popcorn

unnamed I share a love for popcorn with my dad and one time for Christmas I got a Popcorn Bowl and Kernel gift from Crate & Barrel from him and my mom. Start the Hallelujah Chorus…all those kernels!

Now I make it almost every week when watching a movie or for an afternoon munch. It’s just a great snack: crunchy, gluten-free, adaptable. Mmhmm.

Stovetop Popcorn

Makes approx. 4 cups popped corn (a personal size)

2 tablespoons coconut oil (or olive, canola, vegetable oil, depending on your preference. This could change the ratio. So, my rule: use enough oil to generously coat all kernels to create a juicy, popping sound when hot)

1/4 cup popcorn kernels (blue kernels used in this picture)

Olive Oil Spray

Salt

Put oil and kernels in a small pot. Shake around over a high heat until all kernels are coated. Place a paper towel between the pot and the top to collect the moisture while popping. Shake around again as oil begins to heat.

At the sound of the first pop, let it sit until the popping is consistent. Then casually shake over heat until popping slows down. Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl immediately.

Coat with olive oil spray and toss…spray and toss. Then salt and toss to taste.

Variations:

Spice it up with a dash of paprika (Yum. Really.)

Make some kettle corn. Put oil and kernels into the pot then add 3-5 tablespoons white sugar and follow the  remaining directions (depending on your sweet tooth, increase or decrease sugar). Be quick about removing it from the heat when finished otherwise the sugar will burn! 

When you just want butter Put 2-4 tablespoons butter in with olive oil and kernels then follow remaining directions. 

OR

Replace the olive oil spray with anywhere from 2-4 tablespoons butter. Pour a bit and toss. Pour the rest and toss. Then add salt.

 

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