Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Why are these food posts so looooong?

This is solid day four of working on this food post, which is boring even to me, but will hopefully prove useful for the recipe collection that will someday compile itself, right? Yeesh, I need to cook less often or blog more often. Maybe both.

Pesto Gnocchi

Yep, store-bought, dried gnocchi. Even Costco's pesto could not save it. I'm afraid gnocchi must be from scratch, which is bad news because it's rather a time-suck of a meal. Fresh, store-bought gnocchi might be good, though, for those whose pocket books can manage it.


Beets, despite supposedly having a high-sugar content, are kind of gross. And even the chunks of cooked beets in this stew were kinda gross. However, once I wised up and pureed the whole silly batch, herbivores and omnivores alike lapped it up.

1. Place in a crockpot on high for four hours or low for eight:
-2 lbs chopped, peeled beets
-1 lb potatoes
-1 onion
-5 c broth
-3 T tomato paste (I used more like half a can)

2. add 3 c of finely shredded cabbage for another 45 minutes

3. puree it all, or just half if you don't mind beet chunks

4. turn off the heat and mix in the following:
-2 T dill
-1 T red wine vinegar (I used more)
-2 T fresh lemon juice
-salt and pepper, other seasonings to taste

5. garnish with dollop of plain yogurt, fresh parsley, chopped hard-boiled eggs, or if you're us, all three!

T3, El3, Er2, Ch2, Mark/Noe/Kjerstin/Kyle/Mish 3

Broccomole in Lavash Bread

I made this again for a picnic dinner/family hike and rolled it in lavash bread (basically a rectangle tortilla), but this time I steamed the broccoli before mashing it with avocado and seasonings and, not surprisingly, it made a great difference.

T3, El3, Er3, Ch3

Muhammara Dip

Yum! This is our new favorite sandwich spread, and it's also great on toast plain, or mixed into pasta or veggies or eggs, need I go on? I really don't like the taste of plain walnuts, but soaked and pureed in this form, we get our cranial development (thanks, walnuts!) sans gagging.

Blend the following in a food processor:
-12 oz roasted red bell peppers, drained
-1 c walnuts
-1/3 c panko bread crumbs
-2 T olive oil
-2 t fresh lemon juice
-1 t cumin
-1/4 t cayenne

T3, El3, Er3, Ch3

Spinach Falafel with Yogurt Tahini Sauce (from

I didn't feel like forming balls (perhaps because the mixture was frustratingly wet even after waiting the allotted time), so I made patties with this and served them with the yogurt sauce on muhammara-slathered toast. Exotic dishes intimidate me, but this one was certainly worth the risk and will be frequently repeated.

Mix the following:
-2 c falafel mix (from a box, although I hear it's not hard to make from scratch)
-1.5 c water
-1 T oil
-3 c minced spinach
-1/4 c minced cilantro

Let it sit for 5 min until water absorbed, form patties, and bake 12-15 min, flip, and bake another 5-10 minutes.

The yogurt tahini sauce is made by whisking 1/2 c plain yogurt, 2 T tahini, 2 t lemon juice, 1/2 t cumin, and salt & pepper.

T3, El3, Er3, Ch3

10 min. Thai Curry (from

Coconut curry is the only entree about which Kyle and I are in complete agreement. So, we eat it lots. Kyle throws in meat when he makes it (though last time even he admitted it didn't add anything to the flavor or texture), and I douse mine with veggies, but it's the curry paste and rich coconut milk that make it pure magic for the mouth. Our recipe fluctuates a great deal, so here's someone else's. (If you want it to taste more like Kyle's curry, and if you're not taking crazy pills surely you do, saute garlic and onion in the beginning and add a generous squeeze of fish sauce, then lime juice and a cilantro garnish in the end.)

The amount of curry paste you use is totally up to you. I've used 2 tablespoons, which is about medium spice level. You can always add more curry paste after tasting, so it's best to start with a little bit and work your way up. If you're cooking rice, make extra and freeze for next time.

1 teaspoon cooking oil
2 tablespoons red curry paste (or more)
12 ounces coconut milk
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into strips
8 ounces fresh mushrooms (I used King Trumpet mushrooms)
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
16 basil leaves (optional)
Cooked rice

Heat a skillet over medium high heat, once hot add in the cooking oil and red curry paste. Whisk for about 30 seconds. Pour in the coconut milk and whisk to combine. When it comes to a simmer, add in the mushrooms and the red peppers and continue cooking for 3 minutes. Taste and whisk in additional curry paste if you want. Add the shrimp to the curry and cook for another 2-3 minutes, until the shrimp is cooked through. Stir in the basil and serve over rice.

T3, El3, Er3, Ch3

Middle Eastern Zucchini Boats from

Recipe adapted from Family Circle, August 2010 Issue

4 medium zucchini (about 6 ounces each)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 red or yellow bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1/2 medium-size onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 pound ground chicken
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons pine nuts

1. Cut zucchini in half lengthwise. Using a small spoon, carefully scoop out flesh and seeds, leaving a 1/4-inch-thick shell around edges. Discard flesh and seeds.

2. Place half of the zucchini, cut-side down, in an 11 x 7 x 2-inch glass baking dish. Add 1/2 cup water and cover with plastic wrap, venting one corner. Microwave 4 minutes. Place cooked zucchini in a large baking dish. Repeat with remaining zucchini.

3. Meanwhile, heat oven to 400 degrees F. In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add bell pepper, onion and garlic; cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Crumble in chicken. Stir in raisins, salt, pepper and cinnamon. Cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn off heat and stir in cheese.

4. Fill each zucchini half with about 1/3 cup stuffing, then sprinkle the pine nuts over tops. Bake at 400 degrees F for 10 minutes or until the zucchini is cooked through.

Dandelion Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing from

I decided to give dandelion greens another shot. However, I waited too long to use them AGAIN. Anything but perfectly fresh greens makes a mighty bitter aftertaste. Warm bacon dressing, anyone? Alas, still bitter. With fresh greens, though, perhaps plucked directly from your backyard, I have a feeling this might turn out a winner.

serves 4, recipe adapted from Alton Brown

8 ounces baby spinach (or dandelion greens, in my case)
2-4 large eggs (opt.)
8 pieces thick-sliced bacon
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4-6 large white mushrooms, sliced
1 small red onion, very thinly sliced

Wash, drain and pat the spinach until thoroughly dry. Place into a large mixing bowl and set aside.

If choosing to hard boil your eggs, check out How to Make Perfect Hard Boiled Eggs and then slice each hard boiled egg into 4 quarters, lengthwise, and set aside. If choosing to poach your eggs, check out Easy Poached Eggs Recipe on Simply Recipes. What a useful site!

While the eggs are cooking, fry the bacon and remove to a paper towel to drain, reserving 3 tablespoons of the rendered fat. Crumble the bacon and set aside.

Transfer the fat to a small saucepan set over low heat and whisk in the red wine vinegar, sugar and Dijon mustard. Season with a small pinch each of kosher salt and black pepper.

Add the mushrooms and the sliced onion to the spinach and toss. Add the dressing and bacon and toss to combine. Divide the spinach between 4 plates or bowls and evenly divide the egg among them. Season with pepper, as desired. Serve immediately.

I won't rate this because I'm sure it would've been 3s across the board had I used fresher greens. Eight slices of bacon? Yeah, it better be 3s.

Indian Dal Nirvana Lentils (from with mashed cauliflower and naan bread

Recipe from Nirvana Restaurant, Beverly Hills

Serve with basmati or naan flatbread.

1 cup dry lentils

6 ounces canned crushed tomato

1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or less depending on your spice preference)

1 cup water

4 tablespoons butter

1/8 teaspoon salt, more to taste

freshly ground black pepper

1/3 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro

In a large sauce pan, add the lentils and fill with water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes until the lentils open and are tender. Drain the water from the lentils and return the lentils to the pot. Stir the lentils around in the pot mashing some of them against the pot to break open. Add the tomato puree, ginger, garlic, cayenne pepper, water, butter, salt and pepper. Cook for 1 hour until the dal is thick. Make sure to check the pot periodically to make sure the water does not cook out.

Stir in cream, garnish with minced cilantro.

T2 (but only because it looks AMAZING in the picture but still just tastes like lentils, but I will make it again with different expectations and it will very likely deliver), El2, Er2, Ch2

Mashed cauliflower is how I get my kids to EACH eat two bowlfuls of vegetables in one sitting. I treat it just like potatoes, and Charlie still thinks it is. I'll break the news to him someday.

Sweet Potato Gnocchi

Ultra delish-sounding, no? Sweet potatoes are my very favoritest veggie, after all. Okay, here goes...

1. Bake 1 lb sweet potatoes for 30-50 minutes until soft, or nuke 'em for 15 minutes if you're in a hurry.

2. Remove peels, mash, and add:
-garlic cloves
-salt, nutmeg, or whatever seasonings make you happy
-1 egg

3. Gradually knead in 2 cups of whole wheat flour until it sticks to itself more than to you, kind of like a bread dough.

4. Boil a big pot of salted water and drop grape-sized pieces into the water, fishing them out once they float. (We tried to press the dough out of a pastry bag like frosting, but the bag broke. I ended up rolling the dough into little snakes and cutting small pieces off. Yes, it took a while (though I about tripled the batch). Enlist small people's help.)

5. Brown lots of butter in a hot pan, add a can of coconut cream, frozen peas, and the gnocchi.

T3 (You might have guessed that butter and coconut cream make anything yummy. You're very smart. I was a little disappointed, though, that the gnocchi still tasted like normal potato gnocchi with only a faint glimmer of sweet potato flavor. Perhaps I'll use less flour next time?), El3, Er3, Ch3+

Lemon Poppyseed Dressing

I made this salad for company, thus the sugar.

-1/2 c sugar
-1/2 c fresh lemon juice
-2 t onion
-1 t dijon mustard
-1/2 t salt
-2/3 c extra virgin olive oil (this is the best time to use the purest olive oil because it loses much of its healthfulness when heated, so kind of a waste of money-- cold-pressed in salad dressings is the way to go)
-1 T poppy seeds

I tossed this with baby spinach, kiwi, avocado, grapes, walnuts, feta, and beans. I know it's still a salad, but YUM!

Cashew Milk from

I love me some almond or coconut milk in a carton, truly, however, it was time to make cashew milk. There is some settling, so shake it real good each time before you pour. I love this flavor so much more than every other (dairy or non-dairy) milk I've tried, plus I feel so much better about it being completely fresh, even raw, and free of factory interventions.

1 cup (raw) cashews, soaked overnight
4 cups water
1 tablespoon agave nectar
pinch celtic sea salt
  1. Discard soaking water and rinse cashews thoroughly until water runs clear
  2. Place cashews, (4 cups fresh) water, agave and salt in a Vitamix
  3. Process on high speed 20-30 seconds
  4. Store in glass mason jar in refrigerator
T3, El3, Er3, Ch3

Veggie Masala Burgers from

My patties took forever to brown, but maybe I put in too many extra veggies (a common offense) and that made it too moist. I ended up just stir frying the rest of the mixture. I love the crispiness of patties fried in coconut oil, but next time I might just bake them to cut down on my stove-side time.

Hands down my favorite frozen veggie burger is the Trader Joe's Vegetable Masala Burger. But more and more I’m trying to eliminate our house of boxed and processed food. This recipe does just that, while also adding a fabulous new addition to our weekly meals!
  • 2 large carrots, cubed
  • 2 medium potatoes (I used red potatoes), cubed
  • 1/2 cup bell peppers, diced
  • 1/2 cup corn kernels
  • 1/2 cup edamame (shelled)
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp mustard seed
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp salt


  • Start by cubing the potatoes and carrots into small diced pieces. Try to make the cubes as consistent as possible, so that they will cook evenly in the pan. Over medium high heat, sauté the carrots and potatoes in a little bit of olive oil for about ten minutes, or until starting to brown.
  • For the rest of the ingredients, I stuck with my Trader Joe’s theme. For the peppers, edamame, and corn – frozen is fine!
  • Once the potatoes and carrots are starting to get soft…
  • Go ahead and add the rest of the vegetables and cook until they are warmed. These burgers take a little more time than a bean burger, since you need to cook the vegetables – but I promise the end result is totally worth it!
  • While the vegetables are cooking, go ahead and pull out your food processor. The first item into the food processor is 1/2 cup of rolled oats…
  • Pour them in and pulse them to the consistency of a coarse flour.
  • Add the vegetables once they are ready, along with the olive oil, salt, and the blend of spices. Spices are what make these burgers so delicious!
  • Alternate pulsing the food processor and scraping down the sides, in order to ensure that everything is mixed well. Combine until the veggies are chopped into teeny tiny pieces!
  • Wet your hands and form into patties. Using the same pan that you used to cook your vegetables, add a little more olive oil and cook the burgers over medium high heat.
  • When you make veggie burgers, you’re never quite sure until you FLIP whether or not they are going to hold together or crumble to bits. I am happy to report that these held together really well – probably my best to date! After a few minutes of cooking on one side, use a spatula to flip the patties over.
  • Once they are cooked on both sides, they are ready to eat!
  • While yes – it was a bit more work than simply heating up a frozen burger – this recipe makes six patties! So you can easily make it once and freeze the rest to eat later in the week. Problem solved!
T3, El3, Er3, Ch3

Raw Treat Balls

I really ought to come up with a different title for this little tasty. I tried to market them to Kyle as cookies, but he nixed that after one bite. Then again, I actually chose to nibble on them INSTEAD of the cookies on the adjacent counter, and not just out of guilt! So, don't expect these to taste like cookies. They're not even cooked. They are worth making, though. In fact, I am craving some this very moment.

1. Throw 1 c oats into the food processor until the consistency of flour.

2. Add
-1 t salt
-1/3 c cocoa nibs (I used 60% cacao dark chocolate chips)
-1 T cinnamon
-1/3 c coconut oil
-1 c nut butter (I used half almond, half peanut)
-1/3 c maple syrup
-10 dates

3. Transfer to a bowl and add
-1/2 c oats
-1/2 c coconut flakes
-1/2 c raisins
-1/4 c dried cranberries
-1/4 dried apples

4. Roll into balls and binge without guilt; refrigerate leftovers

T3, El3, Er3, Ch3

Meatless Cabbage Rolls

I can't find the recipe I (extremely loosely) used for this, but just know that there are recipes out there in case you're heavy on leftovers and a head of cabbage calls your name. You can stuff pretty much anything in these pretties, and a solid tomato sauce will do it all good.

Broccoli and Bulgar in Peanut Sauce from my friends' Weight Watchers cookbook

1. cook 1 c bulgar in 3 c water; simmer 10 min or until liquid absorbed
2. Steam 3 c broccoli florets until tender-crisp (I just put my steamer over the pot of bulgar wheat)
3. Blend the following
-1/2 loose-packed cilantro leaves
-3 T chunky peanut butter
-2 T reduced-sodium soy sauce
-1 T white-white vinegar
-1 t sugar
-1/8 t cayenne pepper
4. Add the sauce and broccoli to the bulgar

T3, El2, Er2, Ch2
Here's the thing, though. Something funny happens to my grains when I cook them. Instead of doubling in mass, they quintuple, I think. Perhaps I overcooked? Anyway, the peanut sauce didn't get anywhere near flavoring that humongous pot of carbs. I added a little more of this and that, but it was still borderline bland. The good news is that the next day I made another batch or two (or five) of the sauce and then the dish was considerably tasty, even to Kyle.

Green Papaya Salad

Kyle brought home a bag of shredded green papaya from the Asian store. Honestly, I wasn't much excited about it. However, it made a pretty salad, and had I not used spoiled, bitter lime juice, I likely wouldn't have had to toss the leftovers today.

Combine 1 julienned green papaya with shredded carrot, bean sprouts, julienned green beans, tomatoes, and what have you. Garnish with crushed peanuts.

Make a sauce with the following and pour it over the salad:
-3 cloves garlic
-1 scallion or green onion
-1/4 c fish sauce
-1/4 c sugar
-1/3 c lime juice
-1/4 t lime zest
-2 Thai bird chiles (or to taste)
-fresh herbs like mint, cilanto, etc

Okay, I won't rate this because I messed it up using old limes for the lime juice and it came out seriously bitter. Kyle and his friend didn't seem to mind, but I couldn't down more than a few bites. I will try the sauce again later and report.

Vietnamese Shrimp Salad Rolls

These are basically a mix of fresh veggies and herbs rolled up in a rice wrap, decorated with shrimp. They're pretty, fun to eat and, dipped in sweet chili sauce, delectable (though a good ole fish sauce for dipping might be a healthier choice). I made the mistake of leaving the cucumber peel on before I chopped, so another unfortunate run-in with Bitter. However, they were still good. Note: leftovers do NOT keep well-- eat 'em fresh!

1 cucumber, peeled and julienned
2 carrots, peeled and julienned
1 avocado, cut in thin strips
bean sprout, alfalfa sprouts, whatev
cilantro, Thai basil, green onion, whatev

1. Roll all of the above up in a leaf of lettuce (anything but iceberg) and place on top of a wetted rice wrap sheet (available at Asian stores-- they are tortilla-sized, uber-thin sheets of rice, and when dipped in water become stretchy and pliable). Carefully roll it up burrito-style. I placed a few shrimp on the rice wrap before putting the lettuce and veggies down. This was mostly decorative.

T3, El3, Er2, Ch2

Stuffed Portobellos

Okay, I cheated on this one. I saw them stuffed portos on manager's special in the pre-packaged produce section and snagged them. Yes, I do regret it, not because they weren't homemade, but because they didn't taste at all as good as something I would've made. There are so many ways I've wanted to cook with portobellos but could never justify the cost. I'd especially like to try it as a burger patty-substitute. Even stuffed with cheese, this was just way too much mushroom in the mouth. Then again, I served it as the entree. Giant mushrooms. Sorry about that. I'll do better next time.


sara said...

your food posts leave me hungry, and feeling completely inadequate as a wife, mother, and fast food eater.

Chris said...

Wow! You've been busy. I'm definitely going to try some of these dishes. I have a each of the recipes separately and then they're super easy to find on your blog if you're using it as any sort of filing system. I have a blog that's separate that I do just that and I love it cause no matter where I am (with internet access) I can get my recipes.

Stephanie said...

I hate the process of food blogging. It takes so much time to sort through all the recipes. But it still can be fun!

I love Elana's recipe for cashew milk. I make it occasionally, but much prefer homemade almond milk. I make this stuff weekly, and love it! Here's a good link if you are up for it (it's a good 15-20 minutes of work to "milk" the pulp):

Are you trying to go more dairy free? If so, I have a couple more recipes you may be interested in :)

Hope all is well.