Entries from blogs tagged with “Sarah Henning”
Confession time: If you follow me on Twitter (@shhenning), you might already know that I’m pregnant. And probably going to have another kid just about any second now.
In any case, as most of you know, pregnancy often comes with its fair share of cravings. In fact, if you look back in these posts, you can tell I was having a major love affair with curry during my first trimester.
But in August, a new, forceful craving emerged: the BLT.
Which is funny because I haven’t had bacon in probably 20 years or more.
Though, it wasn’t the bacon I was craving, per se, it was the mixture of crusty bread, juicy tomatoes and mayo that I really, really wanted.
So I came up with my own twist on the BLT: The AST, otherwise known as the avocado, spinach and tomato sandwich.
I’ve had probably three a week since. Don’t judge me. The baby loves it. Apparently, she’s as much of a “rut” eater as I am.
Recipe note: I know that most people probably eat their BLTs on sandwich bread. I prefer a baguette because when combined with mayo, it reminds me of some truly great sandwiches I had while studying abroad in Spain in college. Even if you’re not a crusty bread person, I urge you to give it a go. You might just love the hard/soft combo of ingredients.
The AST (Avocado, Spinach and Tomato) Sandwich
1/3 to 1/2 crusty baguette (We used Wheatfields), sliced in half
1/2 large slicing tomato, preferably a Cherokee purple, Brandywine or beefsteak, sliced
Half an avocado, sliced
Handful baby spinach
Mayo, Vegenaise or other condiment of choice
Slather both halves of your baguette with mayo. Top with spinach leaves (stems removed). Place avocado slices on one half and the tomato slices on the other half. Smoosh together. Enjoy.
I’m the garden planner in the family, but this year, the hubby made a special request after spotting the tag of a transplant at Vinland Valley Nursery: a Thai dragon pepper.
Though the name alone was enough to conjure visions of our family turning into a clan of fire-breathing Medieval beasts, the hubby was way more jazzed about the spicy possibilities than anything else we’d planned for the Henning Garden 2014, so we bought it.
In July, the tiny peppers on our single little plant started to turn red. And, suddenly, we realized we’d actually have to figure out what the heck to do with our scarily named cultivars. Surprisingly, Mr. Let’s-Buy-This-Terrifyingly-Hot-Pepper didn’t immediately know what he wanted to do with it.
So, we made salsa—mostly because it seemed like step one in conquering (and understanding) the Thai dragon. The one we picked to try roasts the peppers first before putting them in a fresh tomato-and-onion salsa. The roasting added great, professional-grade taste to the salsa. Or, so said my husband, who was the only one brave enough to try it.
Yes, I’m a wimp. I’ll water you, Thai dragon peppers, but eat you? That’s the hubby’s job.
Note: After some research, we found out that the Thai dragon’s opening bid on the Scoville scale is 75,000 units—or just less than a habeñero pepper, which has a starting value of 100,000 units. For reference, a jalapeño starts at 3,500 units.
Fresh Tomato Salsa with Roasted Chiles (“Viva Vegan!” by Terry Hope Romero)
2 to 4 large jalapeño or serrano chiles (sub in 1 Thai Dragon peppers with 2 jalapeños to cut the spice)
2 pounds ripe red tomatoes, preferably plum, seeded and chopped finely
1 large white onion, diced finely
3 tablespoons lime juice
½ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
½ teaspoon salt or more to taste
To roast the chiles: In a large saucepan, bring 1 quart of water to a boil. Have ready a medium-size glass or metal heat-resistant bowl. Heat a cast-iron skillet over medium heat. While the skillet is heating, slice open the chiles, remove the stems and seeds and open the chiles so that they can be easily flattened when pressed with a spatula. (Wear gloves when handling hot chiles.) Place the chiles in the heated skillet and use a metal spatula to press and flip them frequently to toast, about 1 minute. Watch the chiles carefully to prevent them from burning. Remove the skillet from the heat and transfer the chiles the heat-resistant bowl. Pour the boiling water over the chiles and set aside for 10 minutes, to allow the chiles to soften. Drain the water from the chiles. Set aside.
Mince the cooled chiles as finely as possible and place in a mixing bowl.
Add the tomatoes and onion to the chiles and stir in the lime juice and salt. Chill the salsa for 30 minutes or let sit at room temperature, for the flavors to blend and the tomatoes to tenderize and release more of their juices.
Makes about 3 cups.
I’ve started making the kiddo’s lunches for kindergarten, and, as any parent (or just anyone who has ever packed a sack lunch) knows, it’s sometimes difficult to make sure you’re including the right amount of food. Too much and it’s a waste, too little and lunch ends with your kid having a not-so-full tummy.
So, I’ve been trying to vary what I put in the kiddo’s lunch, just to see what comes home and what doesn’t.
Last week, his little treat was a super healthy cookie. This week, it was my version of zucchini bread.
Just like most of you, we’ve got an end-of-summer surplus of zucchini, and rather than grating and freezing it all (which I’ve done in the past), I’ve been trying to use as much of it in “real time” as possible. Thus, it’s pretty convenient that the kiddo loves these chocolate-zucchini muffins (heavily adapted from the Chocolate Spice Zucchini Cake recipe in Nancy O’Connor’s “Rolling Prairie Cookbook”) that use a cup and a half of the shredded stuff at a time.
They’re good for both a lunch treat and for breakfast, but if you can’t get through all 15 of these muffins in short order, don’t worry, as they freeze really well.
Chocolate Zucchini Muffins
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup honey or maple syrup
1/2 cup coconut sugar
2 eggs, beaten or 2 flax eggs (per egg: 1 tablespoon ground flax seed and 3 tablespoons of water)
1/2 cup non-dairy milk with 1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar stirred in to curdle
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups oat flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons grated orange peel (I used dried)
1 1/2 cups grated zucchini (I grated it in the food processor)
Preheat oven to 350 F. Place liners in a 12-well muffin tin (this recipe makes about 15 muffins, so if you have a second tin, line it with three liners as well).
In a large bowl, combine coconut oil, honey/maple syrup and coconut sugar. Mix in eggs/flax eggs, curdled non-dairy milk and vanilla. Sift in the oat flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, ginger and salt. Stir well to combine. Stir in the orange peel and zucchini.
Spoon the mixture into the lined muffin tins, filling about 2/3 to 3/4 of the way full. Bake for 30 minutes.
Yields 15 muffins.
The kiddo has been talking about bringing his lunch to school for more than a year.
In the days before he started preschool, he asked if this is the year he could bring his lunch. We said no (because of school policy), but that he could bring his lunch in kindergarten.
I sort of suspected that eventually his enthusiasm for bringing his own lunch would wane. But it didn’t during all of preschool. Or in the days leading up to kindergarten, where he got a chance to bring his own lunch to a camp he was attending. And it hasn’t waned (yet) now that he’s an actual kindergartener.
It’s funny, because I remember wanting school lunch. Mostly because it (sometimes) contained things I didn’t often get at home: pizza, french fries, etc. More than that, I remember collecting quarters specifically so I could buy a la carte goodies my parents wouldn’t let me have such as ice cream, cookies and Little Debbie Nutty Bars.
I can’t delude myself into thinking my perfect little boy won’t do this too, no matter how interested he is right now in eating fruits and vegetables. Kids are constantly learning about themselves and the world around them through their experiences. And experience includes food.
I’m not going to put my kid in a food bubble until he’s 18.
But I will make his lunch. For as long as he wants me to.
Which might be until next week or might be until he’s old enough to drive. Hard to tell. But while I do have control of his lunchbox, I’d prefer good stuff go in there.
But I don’t want him to feel deprived either, which is why he always (so far) gets a treat to go along with his basic sandwich/fruit/vegetable trio.
So, one week he got our favorite little chocolate chip cookies (above). Another week, he’s gotten these cookies, which he actually likes better, even though they’re pretty ugly. But even an ugly cookie is a tasty cookie. I’ve also been giving him some special muffins, which I’ll share next week.
But first. The best ugly cookie ever to go in a lunchbox. And, yes, I’ll make them for him through his 18th birthday and beyond.
I feel good putting these in his lunchbox. They’re healthy, taste good and might even stave off his eventual career as a small-change thief with a soft-spot for junk food. Or not.
The Healthiest Cookies Ever (Recipe from www.detoxinista.com)
1 ½ cups raw walnut halves
1 cup medjool dates, pitted (about 12)
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 flax egg (1 tablespoon ground flax or chia seeds plus 3 tablespoons water)
½ cup dark chocolate chips (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350 F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with an “S” blade, process the dates and walnuts together until a crumbly texture is formed. Add in the salt, baking soda, vanilla and flax egg and process again until the batter is relatively smooth. Add in the chocolate chips and briefly pulse, just to combine.
Spoon the batter onto a lined baking sheet, and use your hands to gently flatten the cookie dough. (Tip: Wet your hands with water to prevent sticking.) Bake for 12 minutes, or until the edges are slightly golden. Allow to cool on the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
Serve immediately, and store the leftovers in a sealed container in the fridge or freezer for best shelf life. These cookies should last a week in the fridge, and a month or more in the freezer.
Recently at the Lawrence Farmers' Market, my husband spotted some great-looking tomatillos — those little green husk tomatoes that add tart and tang wherever they go.
We immediately scooped them up and begun to make plans for salsa verde.
If you've never made green salsa at home, it's actually easy to do, if not slightly more involved than making fresh regular salsa. That's because you've got to cook down the tomatillos. Not quite as easy as chopping and blending a few tomatoes, onions and peppers, but totally worth the effort — this sauce goes perfectly on almost anything. Which is good, because it makes 2 cups.
Use it all in a week on various dishes (we've used it on fajitas, salads, veggie burgers and the like) or freeze it in small portions a la pesto and save it for later.
10 tomatillos (husks removed), cleaned and diced (Our tomatillos were really big, so we used fewer)
1 teaspoon olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
Juice of 1 lime
1 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro
In a small saucepan over low heat, saute the garlic and jalapeño in oil until fragrant, about 3 minutes.
Add the tomatillos and salt, saute until the tomatillos begin to release moisture, about 5 minutes. Add the vegetable broth, bring to a slow boil, and cook for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove from the heat, let cool until it is not steaming, then add the cilantro and lime juice. Pour into a blender and blend until relatively smooth, about 30 seconds.
Makes about 2 cups.
— Recipe from "Veganomicon" by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero
We buy a LOT of bananas. We use at least two a day in the morning smoothie that the kiddo and I share. Plus they're perfect for pre-workout snacks, after-school snacks and banana ice soft serve for dessert.
But, sometimes, just like any other family, we miss the mark and just don't get to them. The result: Perfectly ripe bananas going black while waiting their turn in the fruit bowl.
And, because I'm my mother's daughter, what I do with over-ripe bananas is make banana bread.
As one does.
But when I last had too many bananas, I wanted to try something a little different. This winter, I got pretty good at making desserts out of pumpkin and almond butter (see these pumpkin pie bars and doughnuts as evidence), so I thought I might try the same with bananas and almond butter.
After a bit of trial and error, I ended up not with great banana bread, but with great banana-nut muffins. (Muffins beat out the bread version mostly because they made for easier portion control.) They're dense and moist and perfect for the morning, either plain or topped with some honey or jam.
You might be able to tell from that last suggestion, but what these muffins aren't is sweet. The bananas and only 2 tablespoons of maple syrup sweeten the whole batch. I realize this might be a turnoff for some people (my kiddo wasn't a fan), but my hubby and I really liked that we didn't feel like we were eating a sugar bomb first thing in the morning.
That said, if you like your muffins sweeter, you could add another 2 tablespoons or so of maple syrup to get them a big sweeter, though they still will never rival traditional banana bread in the toothache arena.
Low-Sugar Banana Nut Muffins
4-5 ripe or over-ripe bananas
1/2 cup almond butter (no salt and raw, if possible)
4 eggs or the equivalent of an egg substitute like a flax egg
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted if solid
2 tablespoons maple syrup (or more)
1/2 cup coconut flour (this is really absorbent, so you don't want to substitute another type)
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 pinch of salt (adjust if your almond butter is salted)
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line 12 to 15 muffin cups with paper liners and set aside.
In a blender, combine your bananas (cut up), eggs or egg replacement, almond butter, coconut oil and maple syrup. Blend well. If you're using regular eggs, it will be quite frothy.
Pour the blender contents into a bowl and add the remaining ingredients except for chopped walnuts. Mix well. Fold in the walnuts and mix again.
Fill each of the liners two-thirds of the way full. If you add more maple syrup, chances are you'll have more batter and get closer to the yield of 15.
Bake for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean in the center. Serves 12 to 15.
When attending a wedding, it is normally customary to RSVP, choose an outfit, talk the hubby into a tie. But recently, my wedding prep became RSVP, choose an outfit, bake a pie.
Actually, two pies.
A good running buddy of mine requested at her recent wedding that a few of her guests bake two homemade pies for the reception’s dessert table rather than bring a gift. It’s an idea that I thought was genius. And went along perfectly with the locally sourced theme of this wedding in which 75 percent of the reception dinner for 200 was grown by the bride herself and the rest (save for a bit of watermelon) was bought from local vendors. (And you thought your wedding was crazy to plan.)
In keeping with the locally flavored theme, I wanted to make at least one pie that showcased the abundance of blackberries we have right now in our home berry patch. I also wanted to feature the pie crust my grandma made probably weekly when I was little. As I wrote awhile ago, she was a fabulous cook and I’m honored to have her recipes in my arsenal.
So, for one of my two wedding pies, I decided I’d make pie the old-fashioned way. Grandma’s crust paired with my spin on Sauver’s blackberry pie recipe.
The result, as you can see above, was gorgeous, and tasted great, too.
Now, it’s not exactly the healthiest thing I ever put in this column, however. For a pie more along the lines of what’s usually in this space, check out this recipe, which I adapted into my other pie by making it in a deep-dish pie plate and using cherries for the topping rather than strawberries (I called it Vegan Cherry Cheesecake Pie at the wedding).
Blackberry Pie and Grandma Jeanne No-Fail Pie Dough
1 recipe for pie dough (below)
⅓ cup flour plus more for rolling
1 teaspoon salt
6 cups blackberries (if using frozen, defrost and drain juice)
¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoon lemon juice
Zest of one lemon or 2 more teaspoons of lemon juice
A pinch of cinnamon
1 egg white
Unwrap 1 dough disk; transfer to a well-floured surface. Whack it with a rolling pin several times to flatten it out; turn it over and repeat. Roll out dough to form an 11-inch circle and transfer it to a 9-inch deep-dish pie pan. (If dough tears and needs mending, dab a little water where it requires patching and "glue" on a piece of dough.) Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
Heat oven to 425 degrees. Put berries, ¾ cup sugar, lemon juice, zest (if using), cinnamon, ⅓ cup flour and salt into a bowl. Using a wooden spoon, mash gently to make a textured filling; pour into chilled crust and set aside.
Beat egg white and 1 tablespoon water together in a bowl and set aside. Roll out remaining dough disk into an 11-inch circle; cut into ¾-inch-wide strips. Arrange strips over pie in a lattice pattern, trim excess dough and crimp edges of pie. Brush crust with egg mixture; sprinkle with remaining sugar.
Bake on the middle rack of the oven until crust is just golden, about 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees, bake until golden brown and bubbling, about 30 minutes more. Let cool before serving.
Note: I had leftover dough from the latticing and ended up making “pie dough cookies” with the excess (this is another thing I used to do with my grandma). To do this, combine the remaining dough scraps, roll into a rough circle, and then top with butter and cinnamon sugar. Roll the dough into a log and then cut little pinwheel shaped cookies from the log (cut each slice about a quarter-inch thick). I baked them for about 20 minutes once the temperature was lowered to 350. The kiddo loved these more than the actual pie.
Grandma Jeanne’s No-Fail Pie Dough
3 cups unbleached flour
1 ¼ cups shortening (Note: I swapped butter for this recipe, as I don’t like the nutritional profile of shortening)
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons salt
Cut-in until the mixture doesn’t cling (breadcrumb or shortcake texture). Note: This can take five minutes or more, be patient.
1 tablespoon apple vinegar
1 egg, beaten
½ cup water
Mix wet items.
Add wet to dry ingredients a little at a time, stirring constantly until moist-will form a ball when completely mixed.
Chill in discs, wrapped in plastic, for at least one hour before rolling out.
Makes two 9-inch pie crusts.
Mostly because we did a horrible job of grilling outdoors last summer, the hubby and I are trying really, really hard to better use our little Weber this summer.
We’re never going to be everyday grillers, or even once-a-week-when-it’s-warm grillers. But doing better than the two(?) times we grilled out last summer seems to be a nice goal.
Yes, you read that right. I did mean to tack potatoes onto the end of that sentence.
I’d never considered doing potatoes on the grill, because I always just sort of see them as a “stove” food, if that makes sense. But, nope, turns out you can grill them.
And they’re delicious.
Grilled potatoes taste like roasted potatoes, but with a little something extra from being on the fire. They also are wonderful in that you don’t have to choose between storing all those wonderful new potatoes that are available locally right now and turning your kitchen into the surface of the sun while simultaneously trying to cool your house down to a reasonable summer temp in the 70s.
So, the save energy and taste delicious. What can’t they do?
Grill-Roasted New Potatoes
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary leaves
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds new potatoes, each 1 1/2 to 2 inches in diameter, scrubbed and quartered
Prepare grill for direct cooking over medium heat (350 to 450 F).
In a medium bowl, combine the oil, rosemary, salt and pepper. Add the potatoes and stir to coat them evenly.
Brush the cooking grates clean. Grill the potatoes over direct medium heat, with the lid closed as much as possible, until tender and browned on all sides, 15 to 20 minutes, scooping and turning with a wide spatula every 5 minutes or so.
Remove from the grill and transfer the potatoes to a serving bowl. Serve warm. Serves 6 to 8.
Note: We used a metal grilling pan meant for vegetables rather than putting the potatoes directly on the grill. We also didn’t check the temperature, but rather put them on early in the process when the grill was coolest. They cooked faster than the suggested 15 to 20 minutes, but they still tasted great.
— Recipe from www.weber.com
I know the date on the calendar assures us that summer is here (the temps are a good reminder, too), but it finally felt like summer in CSA land when we scored not only tomatoes but also summer squash in the same box from Rolling Prairie.
I was especially excited to see the squash because just recently I’d had some really delicious summer squash served up at Merchant’s Pub. It seemed simple enough: just summer squash sauteed with tomatoes. And the second I saw our little crooked-neck squash, I knew I’d have to try to recreate it. (Note to self: Why don’t I do this more often with great stuff I eat out?)
Though I had fresh tomatoes, thanks to the box, I decided to use canned diced tomatoes from our pantry. Mostly because I knew if I used all the brand new tomatoes in a single go, we’d be pulling our hair out in a few short days wishing we hadn’t used the fresh ones.
So, slicing the summer squash as thin as I could get it without breaking out the mandolin, I went to town, recreating the side we’d enjoyed so much. Pulled out the tomatoes, salt and pepper, olive oil and garlic and hoped for the best.
And the result was delicious. It wasn’t a frilly side dish or anything, but it was hearty and paired nicely with the salad, veggie burgers and leftover green onion potato pancakes we had for the rest of the meal.
Sauteed Summer Squash with Tomatoes and Garlic
1 pound or so summer squash, sliced thin
1 can diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon chopped garlic (about 2 cloves)
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat a tablespoon or so of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic and let warm for a minute. Add in summer squash and tomatoes. Cover and let simmer, stirring occasionally, until the squash is soft, 5 minutes or more. Serve hot and season with salt and pepper. Serves 4 to 6.
I know I’m all about the vegetables in this column, but I would be completely remiss if I didn’t share this fabulous recipe for a great summer dessert.
A healthy summer dessert, of course. But a great one, nonetheless.
I love Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, though I never eat them anymore. They just have too many ingredients I’d rather avoid. But luckily for me (and you), I’ve found this awesome healthy recipe that uses all-natural ingredients, healthy fats and unrefined sugars to create the same delightful flavor combination as those little cups of heaven.
Even better, they can be whipped up in 15 minutes, and just need an hour to freeze. That’s right, they don’t even need an oven or stove. A major bonus as temperatures get into the 90s.
I’ve made them many times and each time they haven’t disappointed. My hubby and the kiddo love them too. So much so that I’ve had to announce I’ll only make them once a week. Yes, they’re that good.
Note: To melt the coconut oil, stick it outside. Kidding. Sort of. What I tend to do is boil water in my electric kettle (avoiding the stove, of course), pour the hot water into a 2-cup Pyrex measuring cup and then place a 1-cup measuring cup full of coconut oil over the water. It’s a sort of easy double-boiler method.
No-Bake Peanut Butter Cup Bars
3/4 cup ground almond meal
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon melted coconut oil
Pinch of sea salt
Peanut butter filling:
1/2 cup creamy natural peanut butter
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon melted coconut oil
Pinch of sea salt
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
Line a standard loaf pan with parchment paper and set it aside. In a medium bowl, stir together all of the chocolate crust ingredients until a moist dough is formed. Press the dough evenly into the bottom of the lined loaf pan, and place it in the freezer to set.
To prepare the filling, you can use the same bowl to stir together the peanut butter, maple syrup, coconut oil and salt. Depending on whether you’re using salted or unsalted peanut butter, you may want to add more salt to taste. Store-bought peanut butter cups are quite salty, so I like to add a generous pinch of salt to mimic that flavor. Remove the crust from the freezer and pour the peanut butter filling over the top, using a spatula to spread it out evenly. Return the pan to the freezer to set.
Rinse the mixing bowl, and use it again, if you choose, to make the final layer. Combine the cocoa powder, melted coconut oil, and maple syrup, whisking well to break up any clumps. Once the mixture has become a smooth chocolate sauce, pour it over the peanut butter layer, and return the pan to the freezer to set until firm, about an hour or two.
Once the bars are firm, grab the edges of parchment paper to easily lift the solid bar from the pan, and use a sharp knife to slice the bars into your desired size. Store them in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to two weeks, or in the freezer for up to a month. (The bars become very firm if frozen for too long, so I prefer serving them from the fridge after the initial firming-up time.)
Makes about 15 bars.
— Recipe from www.detoxinista.com
We’re starting to get see the beginnings of our local tomato season, thanks to area hothouse farmers. And while I can’t wait for real tomato season, I’m thrilled to get a chance at any good tomatoes after a winter of ho-hum out-of-season stock.
One of my favorite ways to enjoy these brand new babies over the last week or so has been in a simple salad of romaine and avocado. Everything about those flavors makes for a fresh, summery combination that is very much wanted on these sudden 90-degree days.
That said, though I normally make my own dressings or just stick to simple oil and vinegar preparations, I had a huge hankering the other week for Caesar dressing, though not for Caesar salad.
So, being a bit lazy, I bought some at the store and tried it out on my favorite summery salad combination.
In a word? Perfection.
It turns out Caesar salad doesn’t necessarily need to be all cheese and croutons. It’s great with a myriad of other flavors, including the bright and smooth tastes of tomatoes and avocados. The crunchy romaine base does its job either way.
Healthier Caesar Salad
1 head of romaine lettuce, chopped
1 handful cherry or grape tomatoes, halved or one large tomato, chopped
1/2 avocado, chopped
Protein of your choice (optional — salmon or chicken might work well)
Caesar dressing of your choice
In a bowl, layer romaine, tomatoes and avocado. Top with protein if using and dressing. Enjoy. Serves 1 to 2.
If you’ve read my column over the years, you’ve probably noticed that particularly when it’s hot, I will do anything to avoid turning on the oven or stovetop in the summer. ANYTHING. And I’m betting to guess you all feel the same way.
This includes in the morning, by the way. Which can complicate things.
But lately we’ve been using a recipe that has really made it much easier to keep our cool for breakfast: overnight oats.
There are several versions of this on the Web, but the recipe we make is one that’s customizable and not very sweet to start off with, so it’s easy to adjust to three very different flavor profiles (the hubby's, the kiddo's and mine). Which means it’s the perfect way to make a breakfast everyone can enjoy.
And it’s perfect for people who can’t eat at home. I layered mine with blueberries and strawberries and added just a touch of maple syrup before twisting the lid on my mason jar and running out the door. At home, the boys will add brown sugar and bananas or raisins to theirs and enjoy it in a normal (cool) bowl.
Take that, summer!
2 cups rolled oats
3 cups nondairy milk (we used vanilla flax)
1/2 cup chia seeds
2 large, ripe bananas, well-mashed
1 teaspoon cinnamon
In a glass bowl with a lid, whisk together all ingredients. Cover with lid and put in the fridge overnight.
In the morning, give it a stir to make sure it’s combined. Serve as desired. Suggested serving: with fruit and maple syrup. Serves 6.
Local beet season has begun. For beet lovers, that means about six weeks of uninterrupted, local deliciousness. For those who don’t have much love for the rosy roots, it can mean almost two months of avoidance tactics.
I am a beet lover. Always have been (thanks, Mom), always will be. My husband, on the other hand, isn’t. He’s more of a beet tolerator. He’ll eat them because I like them and because he has made a lifelong claim that he’ll pretty much eat anything (which is mostly true), but he most definitely doesn’t enjoy this time of year.
So, when we finally got a bunch of beets in our Rolling Prairie CSA, I was super surprised that he suggested we eat them. In a new side dish of all things.
Obviously, I was on on board.
Thus, because, amazingly, we haven’t made every recipe in the fabulous Rolling Prairie Cookbook by Merc savant Nancy O’Connor, we made for the first time a recipe that was quick and easy, even for a packed Monday night: Quick grated beets.
They were indeed super quick (we made them while reheating leftovers) and they were totally delicious (says the girl who ate three of the four servings). But, hey, the hubby ate one serving and suggested it.
That’s a total win right there. Thus, if your house is a house divided over beets, or even if it’s not, definitely give this little recipe a try.
Quick Grated Beets
4 medium-sized beets
1 tablespoon butter or olive oil (we used coconut oil)
1 to 3 tablespoons lemon juice (to taste)
3 to 6 tablespoons water or vegetable stock
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Chopped fresh dill or parsley
Wash, peel and coarsely grate beets. Heat butter or oil in a medium-sized skillet over medium-low heat. Add beets, and stir to coat well. Sprinkle with lemon juice, cover and cook for about 10 minutes. Stir occasionally and add water or stock as needed to prevent scorching. Cook until just tender. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with dill or parsley. Serve immediately. Serves 4.
— From "Rolling Prairie Cookbook" by Nancy O’Connor
I know I’m the one with the healthy eating column, but even I like to indulge from time to time. And usually if that indulgence makes it into this space, it’s obviously healthy.
That said, sometimes, an indulgence is an indulgence, even if it’s been modified a bit. And today’s recipe is just that: a slightly healthier version of an indulgence. But mostly it’s an indulgence in its own right.
But first: I’m sharing this indulgence along with an update to how our CSA eating is going this year. By now most everyone who has joined a local community supported agriculture program should have gotten a share or several to start off 2014.
For our family and our Rolling Prairie subscription (and probably yours as well) that has meant a lot of greens. For example, this week it was spinach, lettuce, mint, asparagus, peas and green onions.
It has meant a lot of side dishes.
Not that it’s a bad thing. No, it’s a very good, very tasty thing. Salads, roasted veggies and green smoothies have been on the menu for weeks now.
And because I’ve covered those well in this space, I decided it might be more prudent at this point to share what we had after one of those delicious meals featuring Rolling Prairie goodness: cake.
Honestly, I made this cake in all its pudding-like glory because my son requested it. I’d loaned the cookbook from which it’s adapted to a friend and just got it back and asked my 5-year-old to page through for a weekend dessert we could make. We had a family function planned, and I figured if I were going to make something for the masses, I should make sure my own kid would be excited about it first.
What he picked was something I’d never tried making in any capacity before (and I’ve done a lot of baking in my day). Yes, for some reason, I’d never attempted a pudding cake. I knew I liked them and their warm, gooey texture, but for some reason, I’d never tried making one. Must have been a baking blind spot, for sure.
That said, though it’s not the prettiest cake ever, this one got major brownie points for being super easy, relatively healthy (though it has more sugar in it than I typically use) and allergy friendly (no milk, eggs, wheat in it). We served it up with coconut milk ice cream, though in my opinion it didn’t really need it.
Kid-Friendly Fudgy Pudding Cake
1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
1 1/2 cups oat flour
3/4 cup plus 1/3 cup coconut palm sugar, divided
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons cocoa powder, divided
1/3 cup chocolate chips or chopped chocolate
3/4 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup non-dairy milk (we used flax milk)
2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted, plus more for greasing the pan
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/4 cups boiling water
Preheat the oven to 375 F. Lightly grease a 7-by-11-inch glass baking dish with coconut oil. In a small bowl, whisk the ground flaxseed with 3 tablespoons water. Set aside.
In a large bowl, mix together the oat flour, 3/4 cup of the coconut sugar, 1/3 cup of the cocoa powder, the chocolate chips, salt and baking powder.
In a small bowl, whisk together the flaxseed mixture, non-dairy milk, coconut oil and vanilla. Pour the milk mixture over the flour mixture and stir until thoroughly combined. Pour batter into the prepared baking dish and smooth out the top evenly with a spoon.
In a small bowl or mug, combine the remaining 1/3 cup coconut sugar and remaining 2 tablespoons cocoa powder. Sprinkle the mixture evenly over the batter in the baking dish.
Slowly pour the boiling water over the cocoa powder mixture, ensuring the liquid completely covers the mixture. The cake will now look like a complete disaster, but this is normal. Promise.
Bake for 27 to 33 minutes, uncovered, until the cake is semi-firm on top but bubbly and gooey around the edges.
Let the cake cool for 5 to 10 minutes before digging in. If desired, serve with ice cream.
— Recipe adapted from Angela Liddon’s Fudgy Mocha Pudding Cake recipe from "The Oh She Glows Cookbook")
I’ve mentioned before that I’d looked forward to having a garden since before buying our house. I’d wanted one back when we owned a little Key West-style place in South Florida, but the “soil” (sand?) wasn’t really conducive to growing anything besides grass, and it barely did that. Therefore, moving to Lawrence was big.
From a single raised bed, our garden has grown to include (as of this year), three vegetable beds, three fruit beds (blackberries and strawberries in one, elderberries in another, and grapes in yet another), plus a bunch of herbs in our container garden and three fruit trees: cherry, peach and pear.
We don’t have an “urban” farm yet, and we probably never will, but I’m really happy with the how much our little garden has grown in the past few years. Really, it started out with just a hope to grow our own tomatoes. But once I really took a look at all the items we could grow ourselves in Kansas, the garden just — poof — exploded.
Have we gotten much of a return on all the time we’ve put in, planting, watering and weeding? Well, yes and no.
No in that we are probably candidates to write the sequel to that book, "The $64 Tomato". I keep track of what we spend on the garden each year, but I’ve never really plugged in what we’ve gotten for all that money. All I know is that some summers — the ones where we had consistent temps in the 100s — we didn’t get much at all.
But yes in that we’ve gotten a lot of enjoyment from the possibilities. We never know if we’ll get 100 tomatoes or one. If our blackberries will survive or die like the blueberries and raspberries before them. And when we have successes (you should see the blackberries!) it’s a pleasant surprise. Even more than that, it’s not just educational for me, it’s educational for my 5-year-old, who already knows so much more than I did about growing produce when I was double his age.
As you may have judged from my last post, I’m sort of obsessed with curry at the moment. Or for the entire seasons of fall, winter and spring. And it doesn’t seem to matter what type — Indian, Thai, a hybrid — I want it.
Luckily, for my rut-loving tendencies, there are all the above types of curry to spice things up, lest my husband and kiddo want to chuck me and all of our curry powder out of the house in a coup.
That hasn’t happened yet, though. So, if you’ll allow me, one last curry recipe before I hope it gets so warm, my stovetop goes on hiatus.
This curry recipe is also a great use for those final overwintered sweet potatoes before we get to the long wait for fresh local ones in the fall. If you don’t have sweet potatoes or want to make this dish a bit more “summery,” replace the sweet potato with a couple of peeled and chopped carrots.
This recipe also happens to have a similar flavor to restaurant-bought coconut-based curries, but is super simple to make. In fact, the most difficult part is waiting for the water to boil for the quinoa. My family’s single caveat with this recipe is that it isn’t very spicy, but it’s sweet, thus, my hubby likes to add Sriracha to his bowl.
Easy Coconut Curry
For the sauce:
1 teaspoon coconut oil
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons curry powder
1 (13.5 ounce) can coconut milk
1 tablespoon tamari, or soy sauce
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
To complete the dish:
1 sweet potato, chopped
1 pound assorted vegetables, chopped (we used frozen broccoli)
1 cup quinoa, rinsed
2 cups water
To get started, combine the quinoa and water in a small saucepan over high heat, and bring it to a boil. Once boiling, cover the pot and reduce the heat to low, allowing the quinoa to cook for 15 minutes while you work on the curry sauce.
In the meantime, melt the coconut oil in a 3-quart saute pan over medium heat, and saute the onions and garlic until tender, about 5 minutes. Add in the coconut milk, curry powder, tamari, maple syrup and salt and whisk well to combine. (Since curry powders can vary by brand, start with a smaller amount and add more to suit your tastes.)
Adjust any other flavors as needed, then bring the sauce to a simmer and add in the chopped sweet potatoes. Cover the pan, and allow the sweet potatoes to steam in the sauce for 5 minutes. Finally, add the rest of the vegetables, toss in the sauce to coat, then cover and allow to steam until fork-tender.
Fluff the cooked quinoa with a fork, then serve with a generous portion of the vegetables and curry sauce. Serves two to four.
— Recipe from www.detoxinista.com
All winter long, it seems, I made curry. Thai curry, to be exact. I wrote about a few of them in this space. They were hearty and often served over sweet potatoes for extra nutrition, because I’m a little weird like that.
And I may be one of the luckiest foodies on the planet, because I was just gifted a perfect Indian curry recipe for summer.
One of my friends, Paffi, and I met for lunch the other day, and she brought with her a shopping bag. I was kind of oblivious, and just figured she’d gone on a grocery trip before lunch and didn’t want to leave whatever she’d bought in a hot car while we ate.
Turns out, the bag was for me.
Inside was a recipe for chickpea curry we’d talked about quite awhile ago, and ALL the ingredients I needed to make it.
Have I mentioned I have awesome friends?
Well, I do. And I had to make Paffi’s chickpea curry ASAP. We made it Sunday night, and not only was it super fast (the rice took longer to cook than the curry itself), it was also light and fresh and perfect for summer.
The curry features fresh Roma tomatoes and onion — two things we’ll have in season at the same time shortly — plus curry powder, and that was pretty much it. A little oil, a little cumin, and a whole lot of fresh, light flavor. This is not your winter curry. And the chickpeas make it super hearty.
Honestly, I can’t wait until the tomatoes and onions both are either from my garden, my CSA share, or the Lawrence Farmers’ Market.
1 medium onion, diced
5 Roma tomatoes, diced
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 cup water (as needed)
Vegetable oil to saute (we used coconut oil)
1 teaspoon Deep curry powder (can be found at Indian food stores)
Cayenne powder to taste (optional)
¼ teaspoon cumin powder (optional)
2 cups cooked basmati rice
Heat oil in pan over medium heat. Add onions. Sprinkle salt to sweat the onions. Saute until translucent.
Add chickpeas and stir to incorporate into onions. Add curry powder and, if using, add cayenne and cumin. Cook for a minute, stirring constantly.
Stir in tomatoes and then add enough water to wet the bottom of the pan and scrape any caramelization.
Continue to cook and stir until the curry comes to a boil. Cover the pan. Lower heat and simmer for 7 minutes. Remove from heat.
Add salt to taste and serve over rice or eat with naan. Serves 4.
Sometime between last spring and this spring, my kiddo totally forgot that he loves asparagus. Last year, he’d eat the green or purple stalks, no questions asked. But this year?
No, no, no, no, get that away from me, no.
That’s a direct quote.
I’m sure anyone with kids/grandkids/imagines their life with kids reading this understands the fickle nature of a child’s taste buds — and the amnesia that goes along with it.
Once upon a time, my son ate all sorts of things that are utterly “Gross, mom, jeez!” He’d eat vegetable korma. Pad Thai. Even something as difficult to love as soup.
Nope. Nope. Nope.
Today, he’ll try new things, but only within reason. Example: He’ll try papaya because it looks like cantaloupe or mango. Or those chia seed doughnuts I made, specifically because they look like doughnuts.
But foods he’s tried before that we swear up and down that he likes? Not unless it looks promising.
And, asparagus, my friends, doesn’t look promising. Too green, too plant-like (despite the fact that this kid will eat baby spinach leaves plain), too unfamiliar.
So, how do we get him to eat it?
Bribed the heck out of him.
Basically, though he’s 5, our kid doesn’t necessarily always have the same dinner we have. We’re still transitioning him into eating what we eat, no ifs, ands or buts. But I’m still too concerned about him not eating enough, that I’m not strict about this (maybe we’re training me and not him, then?).
Thus, sometimes he has exactly what we have but most of the time, he has our sides plus something else. Case in point: tonight we’re having fajitas with salad on the side. He’ll have salad, avocado, raw red peppers saved from the fajita pan and a quesadilla.
But we want to eventually get him to eat exactly what we eat for dinner. I’m not making him his very own specialized dinner until he’s 18. Plus, I want him to eat and enjoy foods that aren’t your everyday picks, like seasonal, delicious asparagus.
So we’ll do what I’m sure many parents will do. We say something along the lines of, “If you eat two pieces of asparagus, you can watch a cartoon after dinner. No asparagus, no cartoon.”
Usually, that does the trick. Sometimes, as is the case with soup for some reason (even potato chowder, aka “french fry soup”), he’ll just say, “I didn’t want to watch a cartoon.” Yeah, right, kid.
When I was his age, I distinctly remember having to eat the dinner my parents were eating, no substitutions. Therefore, I wonder if I’m being soft. Should I stop tailoring his meals? Should I wait until he starts kindergarten in the fall? Or should I just roll with it, and be happy that he eats really healthy even if he’s not eating exactly what we’re eating?
I don’t have the answer. I don’t know if I’ll ever know exactly what’s right. But I do know that trying to persuade him to eat food that's good for him can never be bad. Even if it comes with a side of bribery.
Now, for the real reason you’re here. An asparagus recipe we’re loving at the moment (even if the kiddo is still suspicious):
Asparagus with Lemon and Olives
1 pound asparagus
1 tablespoon butter or coconut oil, melted
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Sea salt and black pepper
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and halved
Preheat oven to 375 F.
Chop the ends off the asparagus and rinse under water. Place the asparagus on a baking sheet and toss with the melted butter or coconut oil. Sprinkle with garlic powder, sea salt and black pepper to taste. Roast for approximately 10-15 minutes, less time for thin asparagus, more time for thick asparagus.
While the asparagus is roasting, use a microplane grater to remove the zest from the lemon, and set the zest aside.
When the asparagus is bright green and fork tender, remove it from the oven, drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and top with the lemon zest and halved olives.
— Recipe from Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfilippo
It’s nearly May, and you know what that means, don’t you? CSA time!
For the past several years, I’ve been documenting how I use the CSA (community supported agriculture) box I get weekly through the spring, summer and fall from Rolling Prairie Farmers Alliance. If you are new to the idea of CSAs, basically, you as a consumer make an agreement with a farm or group of farms to buy produce from them every week in a “share.” This means the farmers get guaranteed customers for a certain period of time and that as a buyer, you get fresh produce every week, usually at a slight discount.
It’s a win-win for everyone involved, in my opinion, but I’ve also done it for several years. If you’re newly signed up, it can actually be a bit daunting. Mostly because A: You have no or little control over which items you pick up each week; and B: Sometimes you have no idea what to do unfamiliar foods that can be part of the bounty (kohlrabi, anyone?).
Thus, in an effort to help keep all that local goodness from withering in your fridge (and mine), I’ve written for years about how I used my CSA box in hopes that it’ll help newbies and veterans alike use their produce and enjoy it.
That said, this CSA season, we’re going to try something a little different. Rather than writing about it each week, I’ll write monthly specifically about ideas for your bounty. Though I may write more frequently in the middle of the summer when we’re all drowning in tomatoes.
Fear not, there’s plenty of backlog in this blog for you to seek out if you need weekly inspiration. Just search and enjoy. Plus, this will allow me to write about gardening with kids, farmers market finds and other fun foodie things in the summer.
But, for those of you getting your first CSA box in the coming week or so, or who have overloaded at the farmers market with a bunch of pretty spring vegetables, I’ve got a great spring-y recipe for you to kick off the season.
My family signed up for my CSA’s “early bag,” which means we’ve been picking up local greens and other veggies for the past three weeks. And one of our favorite new recipes we’ve tried so far this season is from the cookbook I find the most helpful during the local growing season, Nancy O’Connor’s "Rolling Prairie Cookbook".
It’s a soup that helped us use up one of the hardest early veggies for me to finish: green onions. We enjoyed it with homemade veggie burgers, and it was the perfect addition.
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 cups chopped green onions
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger root
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
6 to 7 cups water or vegetable broth (up to 1/2 cup of this can be dry white wine)
Several generous grinds black pepper
1 cup snow peas, sliced in half, on the diagonal (we used just regular peas)
1/2 to 3/4 cup cooked basmati rice (optional)
1/4 to 1/3 cup chopped green onions for garnish
Heat oil in soup pot over medium heat. Add green onions and ginger. Saute for 2 to 3 minutes. Add soy sauce, water or broth and black pepper. Simmer for 2 to 3 minutes. Add snow peas. Simmer 1 to 2 more minutes. Serve immediately. A tablespoon or two of cooked white or brown basmati rice may be added to each serving if desired. Garnish with raw, chopped green onion. Serves 6.
— Recipe from "Rolling Prairie Cookbook" by Nancy O’Connor
When I last wrote about doughnuts, I told you I was really, really trying not to make doughnut making a “thing” for me. I’d had a doughnut pan literally for years and had avoided using it because I was sort of afraid of over-using it, if you know what I mean.
But here I am with another doughnut recipe.
I don’t know if only having two types of doughnuts in my repertoire counts as having a “thing,” but if we get to three, maybe I should slow down. But at least I can take solace in the fact that, again, these are healthy doughnuts. No refined sugar, full of omega-3 fatty acids from the chia seeds, and they’re insanely delicious.
In fact, they’re so delicious, we’ve made them three times in a week. The kiddo was a little suspicious at first because the chia seeds make them look a bit gray. But he was won over on the first bite and even stole part of mine after devouring his own quickly.
A few notes: If you don’t have a doughnut pan, a muffin tin works. And I happened to use Penzeys strong Vietnamese cinnamon. It’s so strong you’re supposed to cut the amount in a recipe by a third. I didn’t do that. Thus, if you make these and decide they need a little more cinnamon, add a touch more of the regular kind to the recipe the next time.
Out-the-Door Chia Power Doughnuts
3/4 cup gluten-free oat flour
1/2 cup chia seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup pure maple syrup or other liquid sweetener
1/3 cup non-dairy milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Lightly grease a 6-cavity doughnut pan with oil (I used coconut). Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the oat flour, chia seeds, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.
Add the maple syrup, milk and vanilla and stir until combined. The batter will be runny but this is normal.
Bake the doughnuts for 22 to 26 minutes, until firm to the touch. A toothpick inserted into a doughnut should come out clean.
Cool the doughnuts in the pan for about 10 minutes, and then carefully invert the pan onto a cooling rack. The doughnuts should pop right out — if they don’t, let them cool a bit more and gently pull a knife along the edges of the wells to loosen them. Cool the doughnuts completely on the rack.
— Recipe from The Oh She Glows Cookbook by Angela Liddon