Friday, April 30, 2010

Lemon Tarragon Pasta

Sometimes you need something genuinely quick and easy to pull together for dinner.  For instance, when you've just returned from a way-too-long business trip to Dallas, Texas, and you are starving, but have next to nothing left in the fridge because your husband lived off cereal and take-out during your absence. 

Yes, the reason I haven't posted all week is for the above-stated reasons.  And I got home ready to eat just about anything, but not just anything.  I still wanted something wholesome and tasty, something that would say, "Yes, you are home, and you get to eat home-cooked meals again."  So I whipped together the perpetual comfort food: pasta. 

This is based on a pasta dish my mother used to make a lot when I was in high school.  It's simple, flavorful, and definitely hits the spot when you need something quick and filling.  You can make it a side dish alongside chicken and/or veggies, or fish, or you can just make a salad to go with it.  I sauteed some chicken sausage and mushrooms to have with it, and my belly is very happy now.  No more Tex-Mex for me.  (Not that there's anything wrong with that).

You probably already have all the ingredients for this - if you don't have tarragon, you can easily substitute basil (even dried basil if you're really desperate). 

Lemon Tarragon Pasta
serves 2


4 ounces whole grain spaghetti or angel hair
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, plus 1 teaspoon
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
1 teaspoon lemon zest
juice of 1/2 lemon


1.  Bring a pot of water to a boil and salt it.  Add the pasta and cook until just al dente, probably about 5-7 minutes depending on the thickness of your pasta.

2.  At the same time that you add the pasta to the water, heat one tablespoon of oil in a small skillet over medium heat.  As soon as it's hot, reduce heat to low and add the garlic.  Cook, stirring, for less than one minute, until fragrant.  Be careful not to burn it.  Add the tarragon and lemon zest, and season lightly with salt.  Cook, stirring, for another minute.  Add lemon juice and stir.

3.  Before draining the pasta, reserve 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid.  Drain pasta and return to the pot.  Add the lemon and tarragon mixture and the reserved cooking liquid, and stir well.  Stir in remaining oil and salt to taste.  Serve.


Friday, April 23, 2010

Roast Turkey Breast with Kale, Sweet Potatoes, and Beets

It smells so good in our house right now - like Thanksgiving!  And it was a lot easier to achieve than a Thanksgiving dinner, believe you me.

The other day I picked up a turkey breast half from the grocery store, prepared to create a delicious and hearty meal.  I finally got around to making it tonight.  I took the veggies I had leftover from last week's CSA (the ones that would roast well, anyway), and tossed them with some oil and salt in the roasting pan.  I prepared the turkey breast with some improvised seasoning and put it on top on a rack.  I roasted it.  The end.

Well, almost the end.  Add in a simple pan gravy and a very happy tummy.  This is an easy way to evoke the flavors of everyone's favorite annual meal any time of year.  The kale, beets, and sweet potatoes roast beautifully in the turkey drippings and take on an incredible depth of flavor they never knew they had in them.

This could be a special occasion meal, or even a simple Friday night with the family meal.  You make the choice.

A note:  get the turkey breast out of the fridge at least half an hour (but no longer than two hours) before you are going to cook it.

Roast Turkey Breast with Kale, Sweet Potatoes, and Beets
serves 3-4


1 bunch of kale, tough stems and ribs removed, coarsely chopped
2 large beets, trimmed, peeled, and quartered
1 large sweet potato, cut into 1/2-inch rounds
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 skin-on, bone-in turkey breast half, about 2.5 pounds
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
zest of one lemon
1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1 tablespoon flour


1.  Preheat the oven to 450.  Take a small roasting pan with a rack, remove the rack, and place the kale, beets, sweet potato, and garlic in the pan.  Toss with 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil and a pinch of salt.  Push the veggies to the perimeter of the pan to make room for the rack, and place the rack back in the pan.

2.  Rinse and pat dry the turkey breast.  Season both sides fairly generously with salt, tucking some under the skin with your fingers.  Place the turkey breast on the roasting rack over the vegetables and drizzle it with the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Rub the oil over the breast with your hands, and tuck some under the skin.  Season the turkey with the poultry seasoning and lemon zest, tucking some under the skin.

3.  Place the roasting rack in the oven and cook for 20 minutes.  Reduce heat to 400, then cook for another 20-30 minutes, or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast reads 165.  Remove from the oven, and transfer the rack with the turkey on it to a cutting board to rest for about 10 minutes.  

4.  Transfer the vegetables to a casserole or serving dish while the turkey breast rests.  Place the roasting pan with the turkey drippings on the stove over medium heat.  Add the broth, and whisk the flour in, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan.  Cook for about 5 minutes, until a nice brown gravy forms.  

5.  Carve the turkey breast and serve sliced and drizzled with gravy, with the veggies alongside.


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Broccoli Polenta

It's pretty clear, if you browse this site, that I love polenta.  I don't often make it the two-step way; that is, cooking it, cooling it, then cooking it again.  This method of making polenta results in a more solid base that can be topped with any number of things and possibly even treated as a finger food.  It's kind of fun, really.

This variation not only involves the two-step cooking process, but it mixes good old broccoli into the polenta itself, making it hearty and chunky and more like a meal than an appetizer.  I chose to drizzle marinara sauce over the top, but you could eat it plain, with meat, or with other veggies on top.  It's basic and good.

Broccoli Polenta
adapted from Veganomicon
serves 2-3


1 3/4 cups vegetable broth
pinch of salt
1/2 cup polenta (the grain, not the pre-prepared stuff)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups very finely diced broccoli, florets and stems


1.  Bring the broth and salt to a boil in a medium saucepan.  Add the polenta in a slow, steady stream, whisking as you add it.  Add the broccoli and olive oil, stir well, and reduce heat to low.  Cover and let simmer for 15 minutes, stirring often.

2.  Turn off the heat and let sit for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  By the end it should be very thick.  Transfer the polenta to a small greased baking dish or casserole, and refrigerate for one hour.

3.  Preheat the broiler (preferably in your toaster oven, if you have one).  Grease a baking sheet with olive oil.  Cut the set polenta into squares and transfer to the baking sheet.  Cook under the broiler for 7-10 minutes, or until golden-brown.  Serve.


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Sweet Potato Biscuits

Mmm, yum.

Okay I guess I should say more than just that.  Sweet potatoes are a delightful blend of sweet and savory, starch and veggie, angelic and naughty.  Mash them up and bake them into a biscuit, and suddenly you open up all kinds of possibilities.  Have them with a little butter and jam, or some honey, and you've got a sweet treat.  Have them with some prosciutto or ham, and you have a savory snack.

These came out fairly small, more like a soft little cookie than a biscuit, so if you want a heartier biscuit that you can do a bit more with, you might want to double the size (thereby cutting the number of biscuits in half - yes, I can do basic math!)

As with most baked goods, if not all, these biscuits are best straight out of the oven.  But you can eat them cool, too.  They're versatile like that.

Sweet Potato Biscuits
adapted from Screen Doors and Sweet Tea
makes 12-16, depending on size


2 medium sized sweet potatoes
2/3 cup milk (I used skim)
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 1/4 cups white whole wheat flour
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt


1.  Preheat toaster oven (or oven) to 375.  Place the sweet potatoes on a baking sheet and bake for 40 minutes, or until easily pierced with a knife.  Let cool, then peel and coarsely chop.  Mash the sweet potatoes.  You will have a little over a cup of mashed sweet potato.

2.  After the sweet potatoes are cooled and mashed, preheat the oven to 450.  Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silpat liner.

3.  In a medium bowl, mix sweet potato, milk, and butter.  In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt.  Add dry ingredients to wet and stir gently to combine to a soft dough.

4.  Drop heaping tablespoons of the dough onto the prepared baking sheet (or make them bigger if you like).  You don't need to space them out too much because they won't really spread.  Bake 12-15 minutes, or until golden.


Monday, April 19, 2010

Honey-Lime Salmon Salad

This is seriously one of the most delicious things I think I have ever made.  And it was one of those impromptu, what's-in-the-fridge-and-how-can-I-make-it-yummy meals.  I'm glad I paid attention to what I was doing, so you can benefit from my top secret lab experiments, i.e. improvisation in the kitchen.

When I know in advance that my husband is going to be elsewhere for dinner, I often take the excuse to cook fish.  I so rarely get to make it, that it becomes a special occasion of sorts in my kitchen.  Invariably, I turn to wild Alaskan salmon, my favorite seafood of all.  Tonight I dug up a bunch of vegetables from my CSA that needed using, and made a lettuce-free salad to serve as a bed for the star of the show.

This is simple and incredibly quick to pull together.  It's remarkably healthy.  The salad "dressing" doesn't need any oil because of the fat from the avocado and the salmon, which balances everything out.  This is company-worthy, but easy enough to make on a weeknight. 

The cats were sniffing the air in appreciation as I cooked this.  I think that's pretty high praise.

Honey-Lime Salmon Salad
serves 2


2 medium-large carrots, peeled and grated
3 baby zucchini, grated
2 kirby or persian cucumbers, diced
1 large avocado, diced
1 scallion, thinly sliced
1 lime, cut in half
12 oz. wild Alaskan salmon fillet (or two 6-oz. salmon fillets)
2 tablespoons honey
cooking spray


1.  Combine the grated carrots, zucchini, cucumber, avocado, and scallion in a bowl.  Drizzle the juice of 1/2 the lime over them and toss to combine.  Set aside.

2.  Season the salmon on both sides with a pinch of salt and the honey.  Drizzle with the juice of the other 1/2 lime. (Note, you might want to season one side of the salmon, and then season the other side after you put the seasoned side down in the skillet, so you don't get honey everywhere).

3.  Heat a medium-large nonstick skillet, sprayed lightly with cooking spray.  When it's hot, add the salmon and cook, about 2-3 minutes per side (less if you just want to sear it).  

4.  Season the veggies with salt just before serving.  Serve each 6 oz. fillet (or cut the 12 oz. fillet in half) on a bed of the vegetables. 


Friday, April 16, 2010

Pasta with Turkey Meatballs in Spicy Tomato Sauce

This recipe marks my 300th post!  Who knew?  Anyone who wondered if I'd keep it up this long, well, there's your answer.  And what better way to celebrate than with a plate filled with comfort food?

We're not looking at any ordinary spaghetti and meatballs here, folks.  These are moist, flavorful turkey meatballs doused with super spicy, rich tomato sauce.  And better yet, they're healthy, too!  We were all out of spaghetti in our house, so I used whole wheat elbows instead.  Feel free to use whatever whole wheat pasta you like.

Also, the sauce is spicy, folks.  I boldly assumed that Ellie's recipe wasn't going to be spicy enough for me, so I amped up the spice.  This led to a dish that had me reaching for my water glass after every other bite.  Don't get me wrong, it was fabulous, but it was a bit hotter than intended.  So take my word for it, don't increase the chipotle pepper quantity unless you want to be sweating while you eat your pasta. 

The meatballs are definitely the best turkey meatballs I've ever made.  The carrot and onion provide a sweetness and texture that is really tasty.  I highly recommend them! 

This recipe makes a lot, so you will have leftovers for days.  If you're prefer not to have meatballs for days, then cut the recipe in half.  Also, I know it's a longer recipe ingredient-wise than I normally make, but just read it through and you'll see it's pretty easy.

Pasta with Turkey Meatballs in Spicy Tomato Sauce
adapted from Ellie Krieger's The Food You Crave
serves 6


for the sauce:
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
2 tablespoons tomato paste
one 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 teaspoon finely minced canned chipotle in adobo sauce (or more to taste)
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried rosemary (or a sprig of fresh)
salt to taste

for the meatballs:
cooking spray
1 pound lean ground turkey meat
1 slice whole wheat bread, pulsed into crumbs in a food processor
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan
1/2 cup finely grated carrot
1/4 cup finely chopped onion (about 1/2 small onion)
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
1 large egg
pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper

for the pasta:
one 14.5 ounce box whole wheat pasta of your choice
parmesan and parsley for garnish


1.  In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent.  Add the garlic and cook for one minute.  Add the tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, chipotle, oregano, and rosemary, and stir everything together.  Bring to a low boil, then reduce heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes.

2.  Meanwhile, make the meatballs.  Preheat the broiler.  Spray the broiler pan or other baking pan with cooking spray.  Combine all the meatball ingredients in a large bowl and mix well (preferably with your hands).  Form approximately 1 1/2 to 2 inch balls and place them on the broiler pan.  You will have somewhere between 12 and 20 meatballs, depending on the size.  Put in the broiler for about 10 minutes, until browned and mostly cooked.

3.  While the meatballs are under the broiler, start a pot of water to boil for the pasta.

4.  Put the meatballs in the pot of sauce and cover to let them finish cooking and the sauce thicken a bit, about 10 minutes.  Cook the pasta while this is happening.  Drain the pasta and toss it with the sauce and meatballs.  

5.  Serve the pasta and meatballs garnished with a little parmesan and parsley.


Thursday, April 15, 2010

Steamed Baby Artichokes

I love artichokes.  They have such an indescribably magical flavor - a combination of earthiness, sweetness, and springiness.  The big globe artichokes can sometimes seem like an awful lot of effort for not a lot of food, and that is when it's a great idea to pick up a bunch of baby artichokes.

The baby artichoke is almost entirely edible.  There are a few tough outer leaves that need to be stripped away, but otherwise they are ready to get in your belly.  There is no choke to avoid, so you can treat it basically as one big artichoke heart.  And the heart is what it's all about, after all.

This dish would be great as an appetizer, or as part of a tapas ensemble.  It also works as a side dish.  You could cut up the artichokes smaller and put them in a pasta dish, if you like.  But I think they are best alone, drizzled with the simple chive vinaigrette, and savored.

For prep purposes, just trim the stem and pull off the toughest outer leaves.  Then your baby artichokes are ready for their steam bath.

Steamed Baby Artichokes
serves 2-3 as a side dish or small plate


8 or 9 baby artichokes, trimmed
kosher salt
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
juice of 1/2 small lemon
1 teaspoon finely chopped chives


1.  Bring a couple of inches of water to a boil in a pot.  Place a steamer insert into the pot (the bottom of the insert should not be touching water) and place the artichokes in the insert.  Sprinkle lightly with salt.  Cover and steam for 15-20 minutes, or until the artichokes are tender.  You should easily be able to insert a fork into the artichokes and pull it out again.  Remove from heat.

2.  Cut the baby artichokes in half and lay them on a platter, cut side up.  In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, lemon, chives, and a pinch of salt.  Drizzle the vinaigrette over the baby artichokes.  Serve.


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Buttered Fresh Peas & Green Beans

Can we just take a moment to step back and appreciate the fact that spring is well underway?  When you go to the farmers market (at least on this side of the country), you see a whole lot of green.  It is a beautiful thing.

Last weekend I picked up a magnificent batch of skinny green beans and fresh English peas.  I was super excited about the peas.  You see, I grew up hating peas.  I mean really, really hating them.  And I still don't really like frozen peas unless they are tucked into a paella or pureed to some unrecognizable form.  But fresh English peas are a whole other ball game - crisp and plump and wonderful.

When you have produce this good, it's a shame to mess with it too much.  So I simply blanched the veggies just enough to take the raw edge off them, then immediately drained them and tossed them with butter, parsley, and salt.  The end.  Fin.  Let's eat.

The result is this magnificent side dish that would be superb alongside some fresh fish, or even just tossed with some butter lettuce and served as a salad.  I ate a plate of it all by itself, and it was a beautiful thing.

Buttered Fresh Peas & Green Beans
serves 3 as a side dish


1/2 lb. fresh green beans, trimmed and then cut into 2 inch lengths
1/2 lb. fresh English peas (shells removed)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley or mint


1.  Bring a medium pot of water to a boil and salt it.  Add the green beans and blanch for about one minute.  Add the peas and blanch for an additional 30 seconds.  Drain immediately.

2.  Return the blanched veggies to the pot and toss with the butter, parsley or mint, and a healthy pinch of salt.  Serve.

Easy peasy! Enjoy.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Red Bell Pepper Soup

My husband and I are both coming down with nasty colds right now, so soup was the obvious choice for dinner tonight.  This soup is packed with Vitamin C, which will hopefully help us kick this illness to the curb.  It also happens to taste fantastic. 

Bell peppers are remarkably underrated.  They come in most of the colors of the rainbow, and they house an incredible depth of flavor.  Red bell peppers in particular are sweet and slightly sharp at the same time.  There's a lot more to them than their beautiful color.

This soup really showcases the glory of the red bell pepper.  Thanks to a little bit of rice, it has a nice creamy starchiness when it's pureed.  It's incredibly comforting and somehow refreshing at the same time.  It's exciting to find such a great red pepper soup that doesn't involve roasted red peppers, but the bell pepper in its unadulterated form.

Red Bell Pepper Soup
adapted from Alice Waters' The Art of Simple food
serves 3-4


2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 large onion, thinly sliced
1 large red bell pepper, halved, seeded and thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped
leaves from 4 sprigs of thyme
2 cups low sodium veggie or chicken broth
1 cup water
2 tablespoons short grain brown rice
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
pinch red pepper flakes


1.  Heat the oil in a heavy soup pot over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and bell pepper and season with salt.  Cook, stirring frequently, until the veggies are softened but not browned, about 5 minutes.

2.  Add the garlic and thyme and cook for an additional 4 minutes, stirring often.

3.  Add the broth, water, rice, and vinegar.  Raise the heat to bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and partially cover the pot.  Let simmer for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the rice is tender.  

4.  Puree the soup with an immersion blender or in batches in a blender or food processor, until completely smooth.  Season to taste with salt and red pepper flakes.  Serve hot.


Sunday, April 11, 2010

Tangelo Broccoli Beef

The season for tangelos is drawing to a close, but the ones that are still available are extremely juicy.  It seemed criminal not to attempt to use that excessive juice in a savory meal.  I just had to try it.

If you're not familiar with tangelos, they are the tart cousin of the orange - in fact, they are a cross between tangerines and pommelos.  They can be fairly sharp, almost unpleasantly so, in my opinion.  But they are so incredibly juicy that they definitely beat their citrus cousins in that category. 

Instead of a more traditional Broccoli Beef recipe, I thought I would combine that concept with a citrus sauce featuring our friend the tangelo.  The result is a slightly sweet, beautifully juicy (how many times can I use that word in one blog post?) and subtly unusual meal.  I threw in otherwise common ingredients for an Asian dish, to let the tangelo truly stand out.  The result was a quick and easy stir fry that is anything but pedestrian.

Use any cut of beef you like - I tend to go for leaner cuts, but anything would work here.

Tangelo Broccoli Beef
serves 3


1 tablespoon canola oil
florets of 1 head of broccoli, cut into uniform pieces
3/4 lb. to 1 lb. top sirloin, visible fat removed, cut into 1/4" strips
pinch of salt
juice of 1 large tangelo (about 1/3 cup of juice)
2 teaspoons Sriracha or other hot chile sauce
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon low sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon cornstarch
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1 scallion, thinly slice
toasted sesame seeds for garnish


1.  Heat the oil in a wok or large skillet over high heat.  Add the broccoli and cook, stirring constantly and shaking the pan on occasion, for about 1 minute, until broccoli is bright green.   Add steak and season with salt.  Continue cooking, stirring constantly, until most of the pink is gone from the beef.

2.  Whisk the tangelo juice, hot sauce, sesame oil, soy sauce, cornstarch, and ginger together in a small bowl until well combined.  Pour over the beef and broccoli and reduce heat to medium.  Stir in the scallions. Continue to stir and cook until the beef and broccoli are coated in a tangelo glaze.  

3.  Serve with toasted sesame seeds if you like.  This is great over brown rice, but soba noodles would work nicely too.


Friday, April 9, 2010

Veggie Hash and Eggs

There is something incredibly satisfying about eggs for meals other than breakfast.  This meal can, of course, be breakfast, but it is so easy to whip up that it's an excellent candidate for a quick after-work supper.  You take whatever veggies happen to be in your fridge, chop them up, saute them in olive oil, and fry up a couple of eggs to put on top.  Voila. 

I had some leftover cooked beets from the other night's salad, so I used those, as well as some spinach and zucchini.  I threw in some feta too, but this meal certainly didn't need cheese to complete it.  It's healthy, easy, and different enough that you can forget it is basically the easiest meal on earth.  Use whatever veggies you like.

It also would be excellent hangover food, if you happen to have had a bit too much to drink the night before.   Just sayin'.

Veggie Hash and Eggs
serves 1


1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 cooked and peeled medium-sized beet, chopped into bite-size pieces
2 baby zucchini, chopped into bite-size pieces
2 cups loosely packed spinach leaves, coarsely chopped
salt to taste
1/4 cup cubed feta cheese
2 tablespoons chopped chives
2 large eggs


1.  Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the beet, zucchini, and spinach and saute until the spinach is wilted and the zucchini is getting tender.  

2.  Push the veggies to the side of the pan and crack the two eggs into the vacant space.  Fry them up - cook until starting to set, then flip with a spatula and cook on the other side, about 1 minute per side.  Toss the chives and feta with the veggies just before removing from the pan.

3.  Put the veggies in a bowl and top with the eggs.


Thursday, April 8, 2010

Crunchy Garlic Chicken

I crack jokes about it now, but when I was a kid, I actually liked Shake 'N Bake.  Now I wouldn't touch it with a ten foot pole, as I'm sure it is loaded with hydrogenated oils and whatnot.  Along came Jamie Oliver to teach me that you can make a home-made version that tastes absolutely fantastic!

Jamie's new TV show and book are all over the place right now, and his message is something I also feel passionate about.  He is all about teaching people the value of real, whole foods that are not processed and messed about with.  On top of that, he is teaching people that eating real food is actually easy and inexpensive, contrary to popular belief.  This recipe is a great example.  I made a few changes to make it healthier, but even Jamie's slightly naughtier version is still much better than pre-prepared chicken strips you might buy in the freezer section, or boxed bread crumb coatings that are loaded with junk.

This is a simple and incredibly flavorful recipe that will make your kids or picky husbands or wives very happy.  I made a simple potato-asparagus salad (simply boiled the potatoes, added the asparagus for the last minute of cooking, drained it all and tossed it with a simple vinaigrette) to go alongside and it was a wonderful meal.

Crunchy Garlic Chicken
adapted from Jamie's Food Revolution
serves 2


1 clove garlic, peeled
zest of 1 small lemon
6 plain whole wheat crackers
1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
leaves from 5 sprigs of fresh thyme
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons flour
1 large egg, beaten
2 skinless chicken breast cutlets, pounded to 1/4 inch thickness


1.  Combine the garlic, lemon zest, crackers, olive oil, thyme, and salt and pepper to taste in a food processor.  Process until very fine.  Transfer to a bowl.

2.  Preheat oven or toaster oven to 450.  Sprinkle flour onto a small plate.   Dredge the chicken cutlets in the flour to coat completely, then dip them into the beaten egg to coat completely.  Finally dredge them in the cracker mixture until thoroughly coated (you may have to help out a bit with your hands).

3.  Place the chicken cutlets on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes, flipping over about halfway through.  If the crumb mixture starts burning reduce heat slightly.  Serve hot.


Monday, April 5, 2010

Roasted Beet Salad with Maple-Glazed Walnuts

I often get beets in my CSA bag, and I'll admit, I'm not always thrilled about it.  This salad has that magical something, though, that makes the beets much more appealing.  And that magical something comes in the form of home made maple-glazed walnuts.  Yum.

These nuts have a gorgeous sticky coating that tastes of rich maple syrup, with just a hint of salt to balance out the sweetness.  They compliment the naturally sweet beets very well.  The final component is a flavorful dressing studded with chives and freshly grated ginger.  Delicious.

This would make an elegant first course without any greens, or a great side salad with them.  If you're not a walnut fan, try it with pecans or hazelnuts. 

Roasted Beet Salad with Maple-Glazed Walnuts
adapted from Stonewall Kitchen Harvest
serves 3-4 as a first course


2 medium yellow and/or red beets
1 teaspoon plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon butter
1/2 cup walnut halves
1 tablespoon real maple syrup
salt to taste
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
2 teaspoons minced fresh chives
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar


1.  Preheat toaster oven (or oven) to 400.  Wrap the beets in a piece of foil and roast in the center of the oven for 45-55 minutes, or until knife-tender.  Set aside to cool for a few minutes while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

2.  Heat 1 teaspoon oil and the butter in a small skillet over medium heat.  When it's melted, add the walnut halves and cook, stirring, for two minutes.  Add the maple syrup and salt to taste, and continue cooking and stirring for 3-4 minutes, until the walnuts are glazed.  Remove from heat.

3.  Whisk together the ginger, chives, vinegar, and remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a small bowl.

4.  Peel the cooled beets with a paring knife.  Cut into thin slices.  Serve garnished with the walnuts and drizzled with the chive dressing.


Sunday, April 4, 2010

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Gorgeousness, thy name is carrot cake. 

Today is Easter (in case you didn't know), and while my family is not religious in the slightest, we will take any excuse to get together and eat a lot of food any time.  Easter is no exception.  My contribution to the meal today is this fun and delicious (and reminiscent of bunny images, therefore holiday appropriate, in my opinion) carrot cake.  I found a yummy sounding recipe on the Pioneer Woman's recipe sharing site, Tasty Kitchen,  and tweaked it to be slightly more nutritious.

Next time I will tweak it even further, I think, cutting the oil in half and substituting applesauce for the remainder.  Still, you'd never know this was a whole wheat cake with (relatively) low fat frosting!  It has the delicious spices you expect from a carrot cake, the moisture and extra sweetness thanks to the carrots, and a load of personality. 

I chose to make this cake as an 8" square layer cake just for something a bit different, but you can also make it a round one, or bake it in a 13 x 9 rectangular baker.   And a note:  I found that the cake sagged a bit in the middle, which is something I'll work on correcting in the future - it was easily fixed with extra frosting in the middle!

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting


cooking spray
2 cups sugar
1 1/4 cup vegetable oil
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups white whole wheat flour (or whole wheat pastry flour)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups grated carrot (about four carrots)
8 ounces 1/3 less fat cream cheese (neufchatel), room temp
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temp
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar
handful chopped pecans


1.  Preheat oven to 350.  Lightly spray two round or square cake pans, or a 13 x 9 pan with cooking spray.

2.  In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment (or by hand in a large bowl) combine sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla.  

3.  In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and baking powder.  Add dry ingredients to wet and mix until just combined.  Stir in the carrot. 

4.  Pour the batter into the baking pan(s).  The pans should only be about half full (the cake will rise significantly).  Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean.  Cool in the pan for about half an hour, then turn out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.

5.  Make the frosting:  beat together the cream cheese, butter, vanilla,  and powdered sugar.  Frost the cake (if doing two layers, there will be enough for the middle and the top).  Sprinkle with pecans.


Saturday, April 3, 2010

Lemony Spinach Pesto

This is another variation on pesto that is simple and tasty.  It's jam-packed with refreshing lemon flavor and will happily grace whatever meat, pasta, sandwich, or other edible material you choose to put it on.  I would recommend something a bit more interesting than plain pasta, though, as it can get a bit monotonous (but I feel that way about most pestos, so don't take it the wrong way!)

A big fresh bunch of spinach and a lemon join forces to make this fun and zippy sauce.  Grill up some chicken and slather it on, it would be great!

Lemony Spinach Pesto
adapted from Giada's Everyday Italian
makes 2 cups


2 cups (tightly packed) spinach leaves (about 2 ounces)
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
zest from one lemon
juice from 1/2 lemon (about 2 tablespoons total)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (or a bit less)
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste


1.  Puree the spinach, pine nuts, zest, and lemon juice together in a food processor.  With the food processor on, stream in the olive oil just until the mixture takes on a pesto-like texture, smooth and creamy but still somewhat textured.

2.  Transfer the pesto to a bowl and stir in the parmesan, and salt and pepper to taste.  Use however you like, it will keep in the refrigerator for a day or two.