Thursday, July 30, 2009

Healthier Cobb Salad (CEIMB)

It's Thursday, and time for another Craving Ellie in my Belly recipe! This time it was a Cobb salad. I do like Cobb salad generally, but I have to say I can see why it's not for everyone. There are usually lots of decadent flavors mixed together, and it could get ugly really quickly.

Well with Ellie, you can count on her finding a more disciplined and less decadent version of the salad, without losing the variety of flavors. The dressing is a little odd, and I wasn't sure whether I liked it or not at first. But as I worked my way through the salad, it started to grow on me. Also, I served it up salad bar style, since there are a lot of toppings and not everyone in this house likes all of them.

And a note about the blue cheese - yes, it's pungent, but as Ellie always says, strong cheese are better for you because you can use less of them.

I also made a couple of changes due to personal preference, but the spirit of Ellie's version is still there. So here it is in all its glory, a healthier and yet every bit as flavorful version of Cobb salad.

Healthier Cobb Salad
adapted from Ellie Krieger's Healthy Appetite (2007)
serves 3


cooking spray
2 slices Canadian bacon
1 hard-boiled egg, chopped
3 cups romaine lettuce, coarsely chopped
1 cup watercress, thick stems removed
1 large tomato, diced
1 small avocado, diced
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
pinch salt and pepper


1. Spray a small skillet with cooking spray and cook the Canadian bacon over medium-high heat until browned and heated through. Set aside to cool slightly while you prepare the other ingredients, then chop.

2. Put the romaine and watercress together in a large bowl. Set out separate small bowls of the bacon, egg, tomato, avocado, and blue cheese with small spoons for serving.

3. In a jar or salad dressing shaker, combine oil, vinegar, lemon juice, dijon, Worcestershire, salt and pepper and shake to combine. (Or whisk in a small bowl). Pour over the lettuce and cress and toss to coat. Serve salad with toppings on the side.

You can, of course, serve it in the more traditional form with the toppings in stripes across the top of the greens, but I like the element of choice. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Corn and Sweet Potato Chowder

Summer is not necessarily the time for soup, but it is the time for excellent sweet corn. And there is something fantastic about corn chowder. This is a slightly more exotic variation of corn chowder, with chunks of sweet potato, and saffron cream stirred in. This is no cafeteria food, my friends.

This is best with really flavorful, quality corn, so hit up your farmers market for this one. You can amp up the flavor if you cook bacon first and saute the onions in the bacon fat instead of olive oil. Or, a sprinkle of red pepper flakes would add an extra zing.

Pick a cool summer night and make an excuse for soup. It's worth it.

Corn and Sweet Potato Chowder
adapted from Stonewall Kitchen Favorites
serves 3-4


1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 large onion, chopped
1 red or yellow bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 small sweet potato, peeled and chopped into small chunks
salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 tablespoon flour
2 cups low sodium vegetable broth
3 large ears fresh corn, husked and kernels cut off
1/2 cup heavy cream (or milk, but you'll lose texture)
1/2 teaspoon crumbled saffron
handful chopped parsley


1. In a large soup pot or Dutch oven, heat the oil over low heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Add the bell pepper and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add sweet potato, season with salt and pepper (generously), and cook for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Stir in the flour and cook for 2 minutes. Raise heat to high, stir in the broth, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for about 10 minutes or until sweet potatoes are just tender when pierced.

3. In a small saucepan, heat the cream and saffron over low heat for about 5 minutes, until just simmering. The cream should be turning yellow. Try not to let a skin form on top. (If it does, just stir until it goes away).

4. Add saffron cream to the chowder and stir in the corn. Heat over low heat for 5 minutes. Season to taste. Serve topped with parsley.


Monday, July 27, 2009

Pasta alla Vodka

I went through a phase where I simply had no choice; if I went to an Italian restaurant that had a pasta with vodka sauce, I had to order it. Despite the name, it does not taste like a cocktail. But vodka sauce translates into a delicate pink colored, creamy tomato sauce. It's decadent and delicious without being too rich or heavy. And in my opinion, it's particularly good when it's spicy.

Here is a spicy version of vodka sauce that is quick and delicious, with a sophisticated flavor bound to please a discerning dinner guest. Sometimes simplicity is the best way to go.

A note: you don't want juicy tomatoes here, so after you dice them put them in a mesh strainer in the sink for a few minutes to let the excess juices drain away.

Pasta alla Vodka
adapted from
The Williams-Sonoma Cookbook
serves 3


3 medium sized, ripe tomatoes, seeded and diced
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 large clove garlic, very thinly sliced

2 tablespoons vodka
salt and freshly ground pepper

pinch of red pepper flakes

1/2 pound dried short cut pasta (penne, farfalle, etc.)

1/4 cup heavy cream

handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped


1. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil and salt it. Cook the pasta until al dente, according to package directions.

2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add garlic and saute until just starting to turn golden, 1-2 minutes. Add vodka (carefully!) and cook until reduced by half. Add diced tomatoes and season to taste with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Let it simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes or so.

3. When pasta is done cooking, drain it and add it to the frying pan. Add cream and stir until sauce is cohesive and pasta is coated in it. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve topped with parsley.


Green Bean and Radish Salad

The best way to cook is to start with the ingredients. This may sound like an obvious statement, but many of us (myself included) have a tendency to pick a recipe, and then go out to buy all the ingredients that are not already in our pantry. This has to stop! A big part of why I joined a CSA program was to force myself to work the opposite way - start with fantastic fresh ingredients, and figure out what to make with them.

My sister gave me some beautiful green beans and radishes from the CSA that she recently joined, and I decided to turn them into a simple and delicious salad. I'm planning to make pasta for dinner tonight (recipe to be posted later this week) and thought we'd need something refreshing and crisp to go alongside it. The beans and radishes called my name.

This salad is ridiculously easy; it really doesn't even need a recipe. It's more a jumping off point - use whatever vinegar, nuts, or other flavorings you like. But the idea is that when you have fantastic fresh veggies, the best thing to do is eat them raw or just blanched, with just enough seasoning to keep things interesting. It's minimal effort cooking, folks.

Green Bean and Radish Salad
serves 2


1 lb. slender green beans, trimmed and cut to 2" lengths
handful fresh radishes, trimmed and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons sliced almonds
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil


1. Fill a high-sided skillet about 2 inches with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Salt the water, and add the green beans. While they cook, prepare a large bowl of iced water and keep it nearby. Cook green beans for no more than 2 minutes, just enough to get them to crisp-tender. Scoop the beans out and immediately plunge them in the ice water. Let sit a few minutes, then drain them.

2. Dry off the beans slightly with a towel and toss with radish slices, almonds, vinegar, oil, and a pinch of salt to taste.


Saturday, July 25, 2009

Banana Zucchini Muffins

Here I go with my crazy muffin combinations again. Knowing how delicious both banana bread and zucchini bread are, it seemed only natural that a banana zucchini muffin would be a beautiful thing. I compared multiple muffin recipes and came up with a hybrid that seemed like it would do the trick. And it does, my friends. It does.

This muffin is incredibly moist, with a delicate flavor and a great deal of comfort value. It is not super sweet, so it feels like breakfast rather than dessert. It is also jam-packed with nutrition, and you'd never even know.

Banana Zucchini Muffins
makes 12


1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 eggs
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups white whole wheat (or all-purpose) flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 cup shredded zucchini, moisture squeezed out
2 ripe medium bananas, mashed


1. Preheat oven to 375. Line a muffin tin with reusable (or not) muffin cups or grease and flour the pan.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the oil, applesauce, eggs, brown sugar, and vanilla.

3. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Make a well in the center and add the wet ingredients. Stir until just blended. Then stir in the grated zucchini and mashed banana.

4. Divide the batter among the 12 muffin cups (an ice cream scoop works well). Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in a muffin comes out clean. Let cool about 5-10 minutes, then remove from pan and eat!


Friday, July 24, 2009

Pasta with Kale Pesto

Our experiments with pesto continue. I found a delicious sounding recipe in Food Network magazine for broccoli rabe pesto, and decided to adapt it to use kale instead. The result is an unusual, deeply flavorful and cheesy dish that doesn't feel too heavy. It's almost like a lighter, greener macaroni and cheese. Absolutely fantastic. And it's great for those who don't really do the garlic thing, as there is plenty of flavor without any garlic whatsoever.

I can't emphasize enough that there are really no limits on pesto possibilities. I realize the photo above looks a lot like an arugula pesto pasta that I wrote about not too long ago, and yet it tastes completely different. Here we have kale, pistachios, and cheese, joining together to make a fantastic sauce. Pesto knows no bounds, really. And kale is so incredibly good for you; this is a great way to get it into your diet.

Pasta with Kale Pesto
adapted from Food Network Magazine
serves 2


1 small bunch kale, stalks removed
1/4 cup shelled roasted unsalted pistachios
1/4 cup grated parmesan
2 tablespoons part skim ricotta cheese
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/4 pound whole wheat elbows (or other small cut pasta)


1. Bring a medium pot of well-salted water to a boil. Set up a large bowl of salted iced water, as well. Blanch the kale in the boiling water for just about one minute, until bright green and pliable. Scoop it out and immerse it in the iced water to stop the cooking. (Don't dump out the water, and keep it on the heat at a boil).

2. Drain the kale and squeeze out any excess water. Coarsely chop it, and then puree in a food processor until finely ground up (like a dense paste). Add pistachios and parmesan and puree until fairly smooth. Season generously with salt. Add ricotta and puree until well combined.

3. Cook pasta in the pot that is already boiling from the kale. Cook according to package directions. Reserve about 1/2 cup pasta cooking water, drain and return pasta to the pot.

4. Add the pesto to the pot along with enough of the pasta cooking water to loosen it up. Stir well until pasta is thoroughly coated with the pesto. Serve.


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Cantaloupe Mint Popsicles

As soon as the weather took a turn for the unbearably hot, I started craving popsicles. And I knew the popsicles would be infinitely better if theye were home made. One trip to Bed, Bath & Beyond and about $3 later, I had my very own popsicle molds.

That was about a month ago. I didn't get around to actually using them until tonight. I found the perfect guinea pig recipe in a cookbook I recently picked up, brought to you by the folks at Eating Well Magazine, Eating Well in Season. It's summer, cantaloupes are in season, and I happened to have one in the fridge thanks to my CSA bag. (And yes, I will probably mention my CSA in almost every entry, so brace yourselves).

The result is a sweet, but not syrupy, popsicle that is infinitely refreshing and delicious. It's like a frozen cocktail on a stick, sans alcohol. Run out and buy some $3 popsicle molds and make this right away. It will make you feel like a grown-up version of a kid again. Whatever that means.

Cantaloupe Mint Popsicles
adapted from
Eating Well in Season
makes 4 popsicles


1/2 small cantaloupe, seeds removed

1/4 cup water

2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint leaves

juice of 1 small lemon


1. Scoop out flesh from the cantaloupe and puree in a food processor. Measure out just shy of 1 cup of puree and set aside in a bowl. (If you have extra, just drink it. Trust me.)

2. In a small saucepan, combine the water and sugar and heat over high heat. When it comes to a boil, stir in mint and immediately remove from heat. Let sit for 1 minute.

3. Stir the mint syrup into the cantaloupe puree, and stir in lemon juice. Pour into four popsicle molds, insert sticks*, and freeze until completely solid, at least a few hours. Dip the molds into hot water briefly before removing the popsicles.

*depending on your type of molds - if the sticks are free-standing, let the popsicles freeze for about an hour before you insert the sticks.


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Grilled Steak with Fresh Corn Salad

Occasionally I stumble upon a recipe that I just know will be a home run with my husband. This is one of those recipes. What's not to like? It's the definitive summer meal - grilled steak alongside a salad filled with fresh summer produce, including grilled sweet corn. I believe the reaction you're having is something along the lines of 'Yum.'

The steak is really a no-brainer, brushed with a simple garlic marinade. The veggies don't need a lot of help if you get good ones. The bell pepper and corn came from my CSA bag, the cucumber from the farmers market, and the tomato from a friend's garden. It doesn't get any better than that.

Except to throw in the usual mention that yes, it's healthy!

Grilled Steak with Fresh Corn Salad
adapted from Eating Well magazine
serves 2


1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
2 small New York strip (or similar) steaks, trimmed
2 ears corn, husked
1 medium tomato, chopped
1 small red bell pepper, diced
1/2 large cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar


1. Preheat grill or grill-pan to high.

2. Combine garlic, 1 teaspoon oil and a pinch of salt in a small bowl. Brush the mixture on both sides of the steaks. Place steaks and corn on the grill. Grill steaks 3 to 4 minutes per side for medium (or to desired doneness). Let them rest while the corn finishes cooking. Grill the corn, turning to cook all sides, until some kernels are slightly charred, about 6 minutes total. Let stand until cool enough to handle.

3. Remove corn kernels from the cobs using a sharp knife. Combine with tomato, bell pepper, and cucumber in a medium bowl. Stir in vinegar, remaining teaspoon of oil, and a pinch of salt. Slice steaks and serve with the salad.


Monday, July 20, 2009

Eggplant Roll-Ups

I don't eat eggplant very often. I have sort of a texture issue with it. But when I cook it myself, I tend to err on the side of under-cooking, and then I actually like it. Who knew - that mushiness is actually avoidable!

I got an eggplant in my last CSA bag, so I decided to try out a recipe I've had for a while and always wondered about. I lightened it up considerably, and the result is a fresh and simple dish that makes the most of quality summer produce.

If you're not a fan of ricotta cheese, you could try substituting mozzarella or some other type of cheese for the filling. But if you are a fan, I recommend sticking with the ricotta filling as it is heavenly and light. This is eggplant parmigiana's slimmer younger sister. Give her a try.

Eggplant Roll-Ups
adapted from Everyday with Rachael Ray
serves 3


1 medium eggplant, cut lengthwise into 1/4" slices
salt and pepper
2 large eggs
handful fresh basil leaves, chopped
1 cup bread crumbs
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup part skim ricotta cheese
2 tablespoons parmesan
2 medium or 1 large tomato, diced


1. Season eggplant slices with salt and pepper. In a wide, shallow bowl, whisk the eggs. Pour bread crumbs and about half the basil onto a large plate. Coat each slice of eggplant in egg, and then in the bread crumb-basil mixture.

2. Preheat oven to 350. In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon EVOO over medium-high heat. Working in batches, cook eggplant until golden, 2 minutes on each side, using remaining tablespoon EVOO for second batch. Transfer eggplant to a paper-towel lined plate.

3. In a small bowl, combine ricotta and parmesan with remaining basil. Season with salt and pepper.

4. Assemble the roll-ups - put 1 to 2 tablespoons of ricotta mixture onto each eggplant slice and roll it up the best you can (if it's a bit too short, just fold it in half). Tuck the roll-ups together into a baking dish and bake until tender, about 10 minutes. Top with diced tomato and serve.


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Aromatic Noodles with Lime-Peanut Sauce (CEIMB)

It's Thursday, which means it's time for a CEIMB recipe! This one is not for the faint of heart, particularly with the tweaks I gave to it. It's spicy, zingy, and delicious, with a subtle richness to it at the same time. I thought it was remarkably flavorful. Ellie Krieger has proven, once again, that healthy does not equal boring. In case there were any of you out there who were still holding out.

Peanut butter and noodles don't seem like the most obvious combination, no matter how much Thai food you might eat. (And I eat a *lot* of Thai food). But when you thin out the peanut butter with lime juice, soy sauce, and rice vinegar, suddenly it's not just something you spread on your English muffin. It's a sauce, people. And you just made it in your trusty food processor in about 30 seconds.

I changed up the veggie profile a bit, focusing on the broccoli and adding in avocado as a garnish. It was good. Really, really good.

Aromatic Noodles with Lime-Peanut Sauce
adapted from Ellie Krieger's The Food You Crave
serves 3


6 ounces whole wheat spaghetti or angel hair
florets of 1 head of broccoli
1/4 cup creamy natural peanut butter
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
juice of 1 small lime (about 1 tablespoon)
1 scallion, cut into pieces
1/2 inch fresh ginger, finely grated
1 tablespoon firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 small avocado, pitted and sliced for garnish
toasted sesame seeds for garnish


1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and return to pot.

2. Meanwhile, put broccoli in a steamer basket over a pot of boiling water and steam for 5 minutes, or until crisp-tender.

3. While everything is cooking, puree the peanut butter, soy sauce, water, vinegar, lime juice, scallion, ginger, brown sugar, and red pepper in a food processor until smooth.

4. Toss the pasta with most of the sauce, reserving about two tablespoons or so. Serve pasta topped with broccoli, drizzle with remaining sauce, and garnish with avocado slices and toasted sesame seeds.


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Chicken Breast with Mustard Sauce

I'm providing you with yet another chicken recipe that is incredibly easy and fast, yet tastes semi-gourmet. The sauce is the highlight of the dish, and takes about three minutes to prepare. If you serve it up with some lightly sauteed seasonal veggies, this can be a year-round weeknight dinner.

This sauce is tangy with a hint of sweetness from the honey, a whisper of wine and a bit of spice from grainy mustard. It thickens up quickly in the pan and dinner is ready in no time.

A couple of notes - I was generous with the chicken quantity here. Normally I take one large chicken breast half and cut it horizontally in half so we have two cutlets. Tonight I went the full monty and did two chicken breast halves. If you prefer to go lighter on the meat, just do one chicken breast half divided in two, but don't reduce the amount of the sauce.

Secondly, don't worry if a lot of the panko coating is lost in the pan while you're cooking the chicken - it will get picked up in the sauce and make it that much more delicious.

Chicken Breast with Mustard Sauce
adapted from Williams-Sonoma Eat Well
serves 2


2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
salt and freshly ground pepper
3/4 cups panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons dry white wine
1/4 cup low sodium chicken broth
1/2 tablespoon good quality honey
1 tablespoon whole grain mustard


1. Pound chicken to an even thickness and season with salt and pepper. Dredge in the panko to coat well. Heat oil in a large nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and reduce heat to medium. Cook until chicken is golden on both sides and cooked through, about 5-6 minutes per side.

2. Transfer chicken to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm. Add wine, broth, and honey to the pan and raise heat to bring to a boil. Scrape up any browned bits from the pan bottom. Cook sauce until it reduces to about 1/3 cup, 2 or 3 minutes. Stir in mustard until dissolved into sauce. Spoon over chicken and serve.


Monday, July 13, 2009

Quinoa Tabouli

My favorite part of most combination plates at Mediterranean restaurants is the tabouli. In case you don't swing the Mediterranean way, tabouli is a beautifully refreshing grain and herb salad. Traditionally the grain of choice is bulgur, which is healthful and delicious. Sometimes it's fun to mix it up a bit; and with a world of incredible whole grains out there, why wouldn't you? This is a quinoa-based tabouli recipe, and I can't claim not to be biased when I say that I prefer it to the traditional bulgur-based version. Quinoa is, after all, my favorite grain.

Everything else you know and love about tabouli is here - fresh parsley and mint, zesty lemon and spices, even cucumber, tomato and scallion. Feel free to add in toasted walnuts for an added layer of flavor and crunch. This is a great meal for a summer evening, since there is very little stove-work involved. Take advantage of the time that the grains are cooking to chop and prep the other ingredients.

Low maintenance, tasty and unique. This is another winner.

Quinoa Tabouli
adapted from Mollie Katzen's
Vegetable Heaven
serves 3


1 cup uncooked quinoa

1 1/4 cups water

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon ground coriander

pinch cinnamon

1 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley

1/2 cup minced fresh mint leaves
2 scallions, finely minced

1 small or 1/2 large cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced

1 garlic clove, minced or pressed

salt and pepper to taste

juice of 1 small lemon (about 2-3 tablespoons)

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 small to medium tomato, diced


1. Place quinoa in a strainer and rinse with cold water. Transfer to a small saucepan, add water, and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 20 minutes untouched. Remove from heat, fluff with a fork, and set aside. Fluff again periodically while it cools.

2. Meanwhile, in a large serving bowl, combine the spices, herbs, and remaining ingredients (except tomato), stirring just to combine. When the grains have cooled to room temperature, add them to the bowl and stir well with a fork. Add the tomato and stir gently.

3. Cover tightly and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving. Serve with toasted pita bread if desired, or just eat plain as a salad.


Friday, July 10, 2009

Beet, Chickpea and Almond Dip

No, this is not a recipe for hot pink play-dough. On the contrary - it's a recipe for a sophisticated, yet simple and healthy dip. This is a great one for parties, as people will scratch their heads trying to figure out what on earth is in that mysterious pink dip.

It's beets, people. Beets. The much-maligned root vegetable that has recently become trendy in upscale restaurants. It's no wonder that beet juice is used to add color and sweetness to other dishes, when you see what happens to it in a food processor.

Even people who think they don't like beets will probably like this dip. It is like a garlicky hummus, only instead of tahini, you have beets and almonds! It's spicy and sweet at once, with a very pleasing smooth texture just waiting to be slathered on a crunchy pita chip.

Beet, Chickpea and Almond Dip
adapted from Bon Appetit's Fast Easy Fresh Cookbook
makes 2 cups


1 large beet, peeled and chopped into chunks
1 cup rinsed and drained canned chickpeas
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (or more if needed)
1/4 cup slivered almonds
4 small garlic cloves, peeled
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
freshly ground pepper


1. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil over high heat. Salt it and add the beet chunks. Cook until tender, about 12 minutes. Drain and add beet chunks to food processor.

2. Add chickpeas, olive oil, almonds and garlic to food processor and process until smooth. If it's too thick, stream in a smidge more olive oil. Add red wine vinegar and season with salt and pepper to taste. Process again until smooth. Serve with pita chips or fresh pita bread wedges.


Wednesday, July 8, 2009


Sometimes you just feel like a brownie. Nothing else will suffice. You want good quality chocolate in a portable cakey form, with melty chocolate chips. And this hunger can only be satisfied one way. By baking them yourself.

I found myself in this predicament last night. So I made these brownies with the best quality chocolate I could get my hands on. They're good, people. Really, really good. Rich, soft, and decadent. The chocolate is the key. And take your time melting it with the butter. Enjoy the magic of cooking alchemy. It's a lovely experience, really.

Please make these. Right away.

adapted from The Williams-Sonoma Cookbook
makes 9 brownies


1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter or Smart Balance
3 oz good quality unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon real vanilla extract
3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour, sifted
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips


1. Lightly grease an 8 x 8 baking pan. In a medium saucepan over low heat, combine butter and unsweetened chocolate. Cook, stirring often, until melted, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in sugar and a pinch of salt. Add eggs and vanilla and stir until well blended.

2. Sprinkle the sifted flour over the mixture and stir until just blended. Stir in chocolate chips. Pour batter into prepared dish and spread evenly.

3. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Do not overbake. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before cutting into 9 even squares.

Enjoy, enjoy, and enjoy again. Nine times, to be precise.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Corn and Kale Confetti

All sorts of new things are taking place in my culinary world. The biggest of them all is my new subscription to a CSA (community supported agriculture) program. I've been wanting to join one for about a year now, and I finally found one that fits my lifestyle, at Southern California CSA. I got my first bag on Thursday and have been swooning over all of the contents, each of which tastes about a million times better than its supermarket counterpart.

Tonight's simple meal is in honor of this CSA. It's comprised of beautiful kale and sweet corn that came in my first bag. The corn is the sweetest, juiciest corn I've ever had, and the kale is pretty phenomenal as well. If you don't belong to a CSA, you can still visit your local farmer's market and pick up some high quality seasonal produce to replicate this in your own kitchen!

This meal can be served as a main course, a side dish, or cold as a salad. It could even work as a salsa of sorts. However you serve it up, it's delicious. Sweet, tangy, and a little bit spicy all at once. And it's incredibly good for you in every sense of the word.

Corn and Kale Confetti
serves 3 as a main course


1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 large onion, diced
1 bunch kale, stems and tough ribs removed, chopped
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
kernels of 2 ears sweet white corn
salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper


1. Heat the oil in a deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook until just starting to turn golden, about 3 or 4 minutes. Add the kale and the water, and put a tight lid on the skillet. Shake the skillet a little bit and keep it covered for about 2 minutes. Remove lid.

Add the red wine vinegar and toss. Cook until kale is fairly wilted, but still firm, about 3 more minutes.

3. Add corn kernels and season with salt and pepper. Toss everything to combine and cook for about 3 more minutes, until corn is just barely cooked. Season with cayenne pepper and serve (hot or cold).

Easy, healthy and delicious! Enjoy.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Chicken and Smashed Broccoli-potatoes with Gouda Gravy

My entire culinary world expanded by about a trillion the day I first made home-made gravy. It was so easy, so delicious and rich, that suddenly a universe of possibility opened up before me. I've mentioned many times in this blog my love of the pan sauce, and really gravy is in the same genre.

Here we have a luscious, slightly cheesy gravy that serves as a blanket of flavor for simple pan-sauteed chicken breast and a healthy potato-broccoli mash. It doesn't feel overly decadent or rich, it just feels fantastic.

Make sure you use some quality gouda cheese for the gravy, and the rest of it will fall into place. This makes an excellent end to a long weekend.

Chicken and Smashed Broccoli-potatoes with Gouda Gravy
adapted from Every Day with Rachael Ray
serves 2 (with some leftover mash)


1 large baking potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 small head broccoli, florets & stems cut into 1-inch pieces
2 chicken breast cutlets, lightly pounded
2 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves stripped and stems discarded
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon flour (pref. whole wheat)
1/4 cup low sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup skim milk
1/2 cup shredded gouda cheese


1. In a large saucepan, cover potatoes with cold water. Bring to a boil and salt the pot; simmer for 8 minutes. Add broccoli pieces and cook an additional 8 minutes. Drain and return to the pan.

2. While the veggies are cooking, season chicken with thyme, salt and pepper. Heat EVOO in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook for 5 or 6 minutes per side, until golden-brown and cooked through.

3. In a small, heavy saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add flour and cook for 1 minute, then whisk in chicken broth and 1/4 cup milk and cook until thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, and stir in the cheese, using a figure 8 motion to incorporate it evenly until melted. Remove from heat.

4. Add remaining 1/4 cup milk to the broccoli and potatoes, and mash with a potato masher. Season with salt and pepper.

5. Serve chicken alongside a heaping scoop of the mash and top with gravy.


Saturday, July 4, 2009

Vegan Caesar Salad

Normally when I make a vegan recipe I don't actually call it "Vegan So-and-so," as the term "vegan" is apt to turn some people off. But in the case of caesar salad, I think it is relevant. So many people happily eat caesar salads their whole lives without thinking about what is actually in that mysterious, tangy dressing. Well some of us are perfectly happy to eat it, even knowing what's in it. I, for one, am not afraid of anchovies. Where I draw the line, however, is the raw egg.

I know, I know. I'm sure it's perfectly safe. And it's never stopped me from tasting cookie batter. But the idea of eating salad with raw egg dressing...well, it just doesn't appeal to me. And my husband is vehemently anti-anchovy. Hence, the vegan caesar salad to keep everyone happy.

I was really happy with how this recipe came out - creamy, tangy dressing with none of the guilt or fear of salmonella. The flavors are fabulous, and with the quality romaine and asparagus that I used from my CSA bag this week, the salad just had that extra special something.

We had this for our 4th of July dinner, and there's an ice cream sundae with my name on it as soon as I finish this blog entry...if there are typos, you'll know why.

Vegan Caesar Salad
adapted from Veganomicon
serves 3-4 (you'll have leftover dressing)


1/3 cup slivered or sliced blanched almonds
2 large cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
3/4 pound silken tofu
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon capers
4 teaspoons caper brine
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon mustard powder

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 slices whole wheat bread

cooking spray
1 bunch thin asparagus, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 head romaine lettuce, chopped
freshly ground black pepper


1. Make the dressing: pulse sliced almonds in a food processor until crumbly and set aside. Blend garlic, tofu, and oil in the processor until creamy and smooth. Add lemon juice, capers, brine, sugar, and mustard powder, and pulse until blended. Pour into the container with ground almonds and whisk to combine. Cover and chill for at least 30 minutes.

2. Make the croutons: Preheat toaster oven (or oven) to 400. Whisk together the olive oil, minced garlic, and lemon juice until well combined. Cut the bread into cubes and toss the cubes in the oil mixture until fairly well coated. Place bread cubes on foil-lined baking sheet and bake until crispy and brown, about 12 to 14 minutes, tossing a couple of times during the baking process. Set aside to cool.

3. Heat a small skillet over medium heat and spray with cooking spray. Saute the asparagus pieces until just cooked, about 3 minutes. Set aside to cool.

4. Assemble the salad by putting lettuce and asparagus in a large bowl. Pour on about 1/3 cup of dressing (or however much you like) and toss well. Add croutons and toss again. Serve.

Yes there are a lot of ingredients and a few complicated steps, but it's actually really easy, and will please even the anchovy and raw-egg haters in your family. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Breakfast Cookies (CEIMB)

Today I'm pleased to announce a new feature on this blog. You see, I am now a proud member of Craving Ellie in my Belly, a blog made up of a group of food bloggers paying homage to the lovely and talented Ellie Krieger every Thursday. Each week a different one of Ms. Krieger's recipes is chosen, and the food bloggers all post about it on Thursdays and compare notes.

This week is my first week participating, and the recipe was Ellie's Breakfast Cookies. The idea of cookies for breakfast sounds somewhat unorthodox, but think about it people - we eat croissants, muffins, scones, and even donuts and call them breakfast. This cookie is far more nutritious and excusable! Just wait until you see the ingredients.

I tweaked it a bit to make it even *more* healthy, if that's possible - I substituted honey for the refined sugar, and used all whole wheat pastry flour instead of part whole wheat and part regular. I made a couple of other changes that were just matters of preference. What results is the version of the recipe that I've posted below, which produces gorgeous, soft oatmeal raisin cookies with a hint of spice and a whole lot of wholesome goodness.

Breakfast Cookies
adapted from Healthy Appetite with Ellie Krieger (2007)
makes 12 cookies*


1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup honey
1 egg
1/4 cup unsweetened, all natural applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup bran cereal flakes
1/3 cup raisins


1. Preheat oven to 350, and line a cookie sheet with parchment or silpat liner.

2. Whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a medium bowl. Combine butter, oil, and honey in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix on high speed until well combined, about 1 minute. Add egg, applesauce, and vanilla and beat an additional 30 seconds.

3. Add flour mixture and beat an additional 30 seconds. Add oats, flakes, and raisins and mix over low speed just until incorporated. Spoon about 3 tablespoons of batter per cookie onto the prepared baking sheet, leaving a couple of inches between cookies. (An ice cream scoop filled about halfway is a good measure for the batter).

4. Bake for 12 minutes, until fragrant but still soft. Let cool slightly, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

*I made only 9 cookies because I was greedy with the batter.


Wednesday, July 1, 2009

No-Cook Pizza Sauce

"No-cook" is a slight misnomer, since of course when you bake the pizza that this sauce graces with its presence, there will inevitably be some cooking. But a sauce that looks this gorgeous, tastes this vibrant, without simmering on the stove even in the slightest? Yes, please.

If you like your pizza really saucy, you will like this sauce. If you're secretly disappointed when you go to one of those "gourmet" pizza joints and the slice you order has tomato rounds instead of sauce, you'll like this sauce. Come to think of it, whoever you are, you'll like this sauce. It's rich, it's tomato-laden, it's zesty - look no further.

Grab one of those whole wheat pizza doughs from your market, slather on this sauce and some fresh mozzarella, and you've got dinner.

No-Cook Pizza Sauce
adapted from Cooking Light Magazine
makes 2 12" pizzas worth (or 1 extremely saucy one)


5 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes, mostly drained
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste


1. Stir all the ingredients together in a bowl with a whisk. Put on a pizza, bake it, and eat!