Thursday, December 22, 2011

Thai Pizza

Thai Pizza
My kids love this dish.  It's got a peanut butter sauce!  What kid doesn't like peanut butter- especially if you combine it with cilantro and bean sprouts, right?  Leave those ingredients off if you must for the kids, but I like to pile on the fresh crunchy veggies after the pizza bakes so that you have that crisp cool contrast with the hot pizza. My recipe doesn't use up the whole can of coconut milk, so I have some to use later in the week for coconut rice or chicken. If you aren't going to use it within a few days, freeze it. I use the ready made whole wheat crust from Trader Joe's.  While the crust is pre-baking, I get all my veggies chopped.  I made this and Meatball Pizza on the same night, and had the same amount of both for leftovers. It's that yummy.


1 package ready-made pizza dough
1/2 c peanut butter
1/2 c light coconut milk
1 T fish sauce
1 clove minced garlic

1 grated carrot
1 small grated zucchini
1/4 thinly sliced red bell pepper
1/2 leek, sliced (optional)
1 1/2 c sliced chicken or tofu
3/4 c shredded mozzarella cheese

2 scallions, chopped
1/4 chopped basil leaves (optional)
handful cilantro, chopped
handful fresh bean sprouts

Prepare dough as directed.  Spread out on a 9 x 13 inch baking pan, using olive oil as necessary to keep dough from sticking to the pan and to your fingers. Poke holes in it with a fork, and prebake in an oven for 8-10 minutes at 450 degrees.

In a small saucepan, combine peanut butter, coconut milk, garlic, and fish sauce. Bring to a simmer and take off the heat.  Prepare veggies.  Once the crust is partially baked, spread the sauce on the crust.  Sprinkle carrots, zucchini, red pepper, leek (optional), and chicken or tofu.  Sprinkle cheese on top. Bake for another 8 minutes, until cheese is slightly browned.   Take out of the oven, and sprinkle scallions, basil leaves, cilantro, and bean sprouts.  Serve immediately.


Leave us your comments and suggestions!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Spaghetti Squash Carbonara

We are always looking for ways to get more veggies into our kids, and noodle form is one of the easiest.  It's hard to pick things out of noodles, and when you say "spaghetti" in any sentence, there is an automatic acceptance.  Kind of like in Chinese restaurants as a kid, when I would hear the waitresses describe potstickers to other customers as "Chinese hamburgers,"  not that any of my kids or anyone in my family has ever had any problem devouring potstickers, Chinese dumplings, or any other form of "Chinese hamburger." I'm not sure I want to divulge the total number of dumplings that I or either of my siblings can eat in one sitting. I'm also fairly certain that my husband had a certain minimum number that he also had to consume in one sitting in order to be considered "suitable for marriage." But I digress... this is about spaghetti squash and fake, yummy noodles.
 
Spaghetti Squash Carbonara Trio
I wanted to keep this meal high in nutrients, but still get a nice huge plate of noodles.  Enter player 1: spaghetti squash.  I also a trusty zucchini on hand, so enter player 2. I love zucchini noodles, and strongly feel that we have not yet, as a society, explored the extent of their possibilities. And, I also like to add at least some pasta to trick my brain into thinking it's all pasta.  Plus, it's easier on the kids who can sometimes be suspicious of a plate of just zucchini noodles, and what's one more pot.  If you want to simplify things, leave out one of the noodles, but we enjoyed the trio.

1 spaghetti squash
1/2 package whole wheat spaghetti noodles
1 small zucchini
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 eggs
salt and pepper
1/4 c feta cheese (or parmesan cheese)
4 oz cubed pancetta, or 6 slices turkey bacon, cooked and chopped
1/4 c chopped flat leaf parsley or cilantro

Cut the spaghetti squash in half and bake with rind side up in 375 degree oven for 30 minutes. Once the squash is cool enough to handle, scoop out the insides with a fork and set aside.  In the meantime, boil lightly salted water and cook the spaghetti noodles.  Drain, reserving a cup or two of the pasta water. Using a lemon zester, zest the entire zucchini so that it also is noodle-like in appearance.  Set aside.  Break two eggs into a bowl, and whisk with a fork.  Add half of the feta or parmesan cheese.

In a large saute pan or wok on medium high heat, cook the pancetta until crispy.  Add garlic once the pancetta starts to sizzle. Add the zucchini noodles, followed by the cooked spaghetti noodles.  Salt and pepper to taste. Stir, and then add spaghetti squash.  Once everything is hot, turn the heat off and add the egg mixture, stirring and tossing constantly so that the eggs don't scramble. Tongs are great for this.  Add in the parsley or cilantro, and the rest of the cheese, and serve immediately.

Please leave any comments or suggestions!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Chicken Marbella and Amazing Salad Dressing

We had been looking forward to making this recipe for weeks.  Ever since Claire brought a little sample over one night, it's been on our list.  We just had to wait until the weather got a little colder and the grill seemed less inviting.  Don't let the classic Claire/Laura conundrum (Italian parsley or cilantro?) hold you back.  It's good with either!
Served with a side of sweet potatoes and green brown rice.
Chicken Marbella
Don't shy away from the list of ingredients. They might seem like an odd combination, but the capers, olives, and prunes in this dish combine perfectly and will make your mouth water.  The overnight marinade is essential as it lets all the flavors meld together, and adds moisture to the chicken.  Claire likes to marinade the chicken in 2 large Ziploc bags to keep the strong garlic flavor (it's a whole head, not just a clove!) from infusing everything in her refrigerator. To facilitate peeling a whole head's worth of garlic, I suggest smashing the individual cloves with a heavy can or the side of a knife.  Peel away the skin, and toss the garlic into the marinade.   

The original recipe, from the Silver Palate Cookbook, calls for 4 whole chickens (2 1/2 lbs each), but we used 2 slightly larger chickens with the same amount of marinade.  It was nice to have a little of the marinade to ladle over rice or pasta. The olives and capers make a robust brine, without being overpoweringly salty.  The recipe makes enough for a dinner party, a second (or third) meal, or enough for 2 families to share. I sliced one of the chicken breasts up the next day for a delicious sandwich.


1/2 c olive oil
1/2 c red wine vinegar
1 c pitted prunes
1/2 c pitted Spanish olives with juice
1/2 c capers with juice
6 bay leaves
1 head garlic (peeled)
1/4 c dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste
2 chickens cut into pieces, bone in and skin on  (or 10-12 chicken breasts with bone in skin on)

1 c brown sugar
1 c dry white wine (or madeira wine)
1/4 c fresh flat leaf parsley or cilantro

Combine olive oil, vinegar, prunes, capers, bay leaves, garlic oregano,salt and pepper.  Divide in half and pour into 2 Ziploc bags.  Marinate 24-48 hours. (Don't skip this!)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Arrange chicken in a single layer in 1-2 pans, and sprinkle each piece of chicken with brown sugar.  (Or drizzle with honey.) Pour in white wine. Bake for 55-60 minutes, basting with pan juices.  With slotted spoon transfer chicken, olives, prunes and capers  to serving platter.  Pour 2-3 spoonfuls of pan juice over top to moisten.  Sprinkle generously with chopped cilantro and or parsley, and serve with Green Rice or rice pilaf.


Amazing Vinaigrette
It's just salad dressing.  How can there possibly be anything amazing about it?  Maybe it's good, but amazing?  Claire did a little research and came up with this recipe, and let me tell you, it is amazing.  It's made in the blender with vegetable oil instead of olive oil, and it stays emulsified for days, no shaking, rattling, or rolling. I still have my batch from 5 days ago, and it's still blended. It's also creamy and a little bit sweet.  My kids have been asking for it over ranch dressing.  Consider adding a little bit of water if you like a thinner consistency. It still works. Claire served hers with arugula, spinach, cherry tomatoes, shaved parmesan, and homemade croutons.  I just served mine with homemade whole wheat croutons.

1 clove garlic
pinch of salt
pepper
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 c balsamic vinegar
1-2 tsp honey (to taste)
1/2 c vegetable oil

Blend together on high speed garlic, salt, pepper, Dijon mustard, and vinegar for 1-2 minutes.  Slowly drizzle in vegetable oil, and continue to blend on high for 2 minutes.  It will become thick and creamy.  Store in fridge. 

Tell us if you try anything and leave us a comment!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Pumpkin Spice Bread with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

We made a double recipe and got 2 regular sized loafs and 2 mini loafs, which would have been good for giving away, except that we ate it all.  It did not last long.

 1 1/2 c flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp baking powder

6 T butter, softened (3/4 stick)
1 c sugar
1/3 c brown sugar
2 eggs
1/3 c milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 c pumpkin puree

Whisk dry ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.  In a large mixing bowl, mix the butter for 30 seconds. Add sugar and mix until light in color, about 3-4 minutes.  Add eggs, one at a time, and incorporate fully. Mix the pumpkin puree and vanilla.  Mix in the flour mixture a little bit at a time, at a low speed.  Grease loaf pans generously. Divide into1 large loaf pan (8 inch) and 1 small mini-loaf pan (4 inch). Bake at 350 for 1 hour for the large loaf. The smaller loaf should be done after about 45 minutes.  Remove from oven for a few minutes, and then remove from pan and let cool before frosting with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting, below.

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

1 x 8 oz package of cream cheese
1/2 c honey
1 T cinnamon

In a medium mixing bowl, whip above ingredients together. Frost pumpkin loaves and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Please leave a comment and let us know how long it took before the whole loaf was gobbled up.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Pan-seared Tilapia, Green Brown Rice, and Death By Kale

Claire is reluctant to cook fish in her house, so I've been easing her into it at my house.  Fish is wonderfully easy and quick, and oh by the way, healthy too. These tilapia fillets take no time at all.  I buy them in bulk and freeze 2-3 fillets in a freezer bag.  We had this for lunch with Green Brown Rice and about 2/3 bag of Death by Kale between the two of us. More on that below...

With Lemon Chive Dressing drizzled on top...
Pan-seared Tilapia Fillets
It's distressing how easy these are to make.  You can leave off the dressing and just use a squeeze of fresh lemon if you want.  I like to add a few herbs and salt to the flour/breadcrumb mixture. Tilapia is nice because its firmer flesh holds up well in the frying pan, and its milder taste is easy on pickier palates. My twins refer to all fish as "Nemo."  You would think that this would mean that they don't like fish, but you would be wrong.  They scream, "Bite! Nemo! Bite! Nemo!" which means "Give me another bite of fish as soon as possible because my mouth is empty and I am starving to death." It almost seems cannabalistic, but then I remind myself that Nemo is a cartoon fish. Bite away, kids.

2-3 fillets of tilapia
1/2 c whole wheat flour or whole wheat breadcrumbs or both
pinch of herbs (thyme, dill, parsley, sage)
1/2 tsp salt
2 T olive oil

Mix the flour/breadcrumbs, herbs, and salt in a shallow bowl or plate. Lightly coat the tilapia fillets with 1 T olive oil, and dredge in flour/herb mixture on both sides. Heat olive oil in a large frying pan. Place tilapia fillets topside down in the pan on medium-high heat. Once they are golden brown, flip gently to sear the other side. Serve once tilapia is flaky and done. (Cooking time will vary depending on thickness of fillet.)

These fillets are actually huge, and will serve 2. Unless you want seconds.



Lemon Chive Dressing
A version of this was originally posted with my steelhead recipe, but this one has no sugar and I made a few other adjustments. Thanks to Diane Morgan for her original version of this wonderfully versatile sauce that works well on fish, veggies, and salad, too. Add a little water if you are going to use this for salad dressing.

2 T olive oil
2 T fresh squeezed lemon juice with zest
1/2 tsp salt
1 small clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
1/2 tsp honey
2 T minced chives

Whisk together all ingredients except the chives. Stir in the chives and drizzle over tilapia, above.

Green Brown Rice
This was originally posted as Green Rice on our very first post, but this is a slightly different version with brown long grain rice.  You will not believe how fragrant this rice is. And what a great way to get your kids to eat more green stuff. I had some leeks to use up, so I substituted them for the green onions.  I also had 1/2 c pureed cauliflower, so I threw that in- totally optional if you happen to have steamed pureed cauliflower sitting around.

6 cups cooked brown rice
1 leek, chopped (or 3 green onions)
1/2 c basil leaves
1 1/2 c spinach
2 cloves garlic
1/2 c chicken or vegetable stock

In a blender or food processor, puree all ingredients except cooked rice.  Fold into the warm rice until the rice is coated evenly. Serve warm.


Death By Kale
You might think kale is a garnish, but I haven't been able to stop eating kale since I made up this little gem.  I've been getting the prewashed 10 ounce bags of kale at Trader Joe's, and am working on my 3rd bag in less than 2 weeks. (We did make some kale chips with 1/2 bag.)  I even had this particular dish with some scrambled eggs one morning, and I fear I may be the first to experience Death By Kale, if that is possible.  I think it's the lemon and the salt that keeps me coming back. Pucker up, Nicole- you're going to love it.

6 cups of washed kale, coarsely chopped with most of the large ribs removed
juice and zest of 1/2 lemon (at least 3 T juice)
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
freshly ground pepper

Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan or wok. Add garlic once the oil is hot enough to make it sizzle.  Add the kale (it will cook down more than you would guess). Sprinkle salt and pepper, and toss to coat. Add lemon juice. Continue to saute until the kale has cooked down and the leaves are tender. Enjoy.

Please leave us a comment, especially if you know of anyone that has ever died from eating too much kale.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Lamb Pitas with Cucumber Yogurt Sauce

This is a great recipe combo because the next night, you can use up the leftover lamb in pasta.  I actually had a difficult time finding ground lamb this time of year, so we mixed the lamb with beef and turkey.  This also helped in making the lamb a little easier to take for palates that are not used to the lamb flavor.
Tell me that doesn't make your mouth water a little bit.
Lamb Pita
These are so fresh and delicious. The cucumber yogurt sauce really makes it come together.  Kids also love building their own- be prepared for a little bit of mess!  This recipe is enough to feed 4 with leftovers for the pasta the next night. Adapted from thefresh20.com

2 lbs ground meat (lamb, beef, or turkey)
1/2 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 c chopped spinach (optional)

Add 1/2 tsp olive oil to large saute pan.  Once heated, add onion and garlic.  Saute until onions are soft. Add meat and spices, and cook until browned. Stir in spinach, and take off the heat once it wilts. Serve in pitas with yogurt sauce, thick sliced tomato, and red pepper strips.


Cucumber Yogurt Sauce
The lemon juice and lemon zest is the secret to making this sauce taste wonderfully fresh.

1 cucumber, peeled and grated
2 small handfuls of finely chopped spinach
1/2 large handful of chopped parsley
1 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
salt to taste
1/2 tsp dried mint (or 3-4 leaves of fresh mint if available)
juice and zest of 1/2 lemon

Mix all ingredients together and serve on pita sandwiches.

Greek Pasta with Lamb
This was so easy to make, yet so flavorful. Since the ground lamb mixture was already done, I was able to prepare the veggies while the pasta was boiling, and then just toss everything together in less than 20 minutes.  I served it with a huge fresh salad.

1/2 package of spaghetti noodles (whole wheat if you have it)
ground lamb mixture (precooked from above meal)
2 T balsamic vinegar
juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
1/2 c grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1 small zucchini, shredded or zested into noodles (optional)
1 cup chopped spinach (optional)
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

Cook pasta as directed, and drain. While the pasta is cooking, reheat the lamb in a large saute pan.  Once the pasta is cooked, drain it and add it to the ground lamb. Add the vegetables, saving the tomatoes and spinach for last. (Consider adding 1/4 cup of chicken stock or pasta water if the pasta seems dry.) Once the zucchini noodles are tender, take the noodles off the heat.  Serve immediately, with feta cheese sprinkled on top.

Please leave any comments or suggestions!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Balsamic Apple Glazed Pork Chops and Savory Twice-baked Sweet Potatoes

Fall is here, and with fall comes anything orange and apples. And soups.  Stay tuned for more soups.  Claire and I had been off for a couple of weeks, so we were so glad to get back together for some major kitchen trashing. This session, we actually made several meals, but they'll be posted separately for ease.  Many of our earlier recipes are bunched together by cooking session, which was fun but harder to reference. Hope you like the shortened, but hopefully slightly more frequent posts.

Balsamic Apple Glazed Pork Chops
We changed this recipe a little so that there was no sugar added.  Another version calls for cherry jam- stay tuned.  It turned out wonderfully, and was well-received by our families.  I served them with the Savory Twice-baked Sweet Potatoes, below, and a side of broccoli. The broccoli was stir-fried with olive oil and a clove of chopped garlic. You could steam it, but the garlic is so good and rounds out the sweetness on the plate.

6-8 pork chops
1/2 onion, diced
1 large apple, finely diced
1/2 c balsamic vinegar
1/3 c honey
1 T soy sauce
1 T grainy mustard
3/4 c water
1-2 T cornstarch

Pan sear pork chops on both sides and let rest in a 9x13 oven-safe baking pan.  Saute onion and apple in the pan used for the pork chops, then add balsamic vinegar, honey, and soy sauce.  Let cook about 2 minutes.  Add mustard.  In a separate bowl or cup, mix water and cornstarch together (so that you won't get lumps), and pour into the saucepan.  Bring sauce to a boil, then reduce heat and let it simmer for another couple of minutes.  Pour over pork chops. Bake and 350 degree preheated oven for about 20 minutes, depending on thickness of pork, until the internal temperature reaches 150-160 degrees. 

Savory Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes
This is an original recipe from Claire. After making this, we came up with several additional variations, including one with caramelized onions and smoked bacon bits, but this is the original version.  Don't leave out the parmesan cheese, as it adds a depth of flavor to the sweet potatoes.

3-4 sweet potatoes
1/3 c nonfat Greek yogurt for every 2 potatoes
1 scallion, chopped
2 T parmesan cheese, grated or shredded
1-2 slices of prosciutto, bacon, or turkey bacon, crisped and chopped

Bake sweet potatoes unwrapped for 1 hour at 350 degrees. Split lengthwise down the middle and scoop out the insides. Reserve the skins. Mix shelled out sweet potatoes with Greek yogurt, scallions, parmesan cheese, and salt to taste- but don't forget you're adding salt with the bacon/prosciutto.  Spoon mixture back into skins and sprinkle bacon/prosciutto on top. Put back in oven and bake for another 15-20 minutes, uncovered.

Please leave us a comment!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Pan-seared Scallops with Pecan-Arugula Pesto on Zucchini Noodles and Red Curry Squash and Sweet Potato Soup

My schedule has not been matching up with Claire's very well, so we are now both in cooking blog withdrawel. I've had to sneak in a post.  My first attempt was a wonderful grilled chicken, but the pictures came out all blurry and unacceptable. We'll have to save that for another time. In the meantime, these dishes are fantastic fall offerings.  Soup season is here!

Serve this with the soup below for a gorgeous and flavorful meal.
Pan-seared Scallops 
with Pecan-Arugula Pesto and Zucchini Noodles
Scallops are an overlooked favorite with kids, and a nice departure from chicken. The trick is to not overcook them, as they can get rubbery.  I used high heat and a dusting of flour to get a nice crisp coating. Fresh ones are the best, but I bought frozen so that I wasn't on a time crunch to get them cooked. The dried salted herb mixture is something that I use for my homemade croutons-- you don't have to be particular about the herbs that you add- adjust according to taste and what's in your spice rack.

1 lb. frozen thawed or fresh scallops
1-2 T flour
1-2 tsp salted dried herb mixture (sea salt, pepper, and a pinch each of thyme, oregano, rosemary, dill, parsley)

Toss scallops with flour and herb mixture. Heat pan on high with 1 T olive oil. Place the scallops in a single layer for a few minutes, and once browned, use tongs to flip to the opposite side for a couple more minutes.  Cooking time will vary depending on the size and thickness of your scallops. Once the scallops are done, arrange them them over a bed of zucchini noodles tossed with pecan-arugula pesto.

Pecan-Arugula Pesto and Zucchini Noodles
Zucchini noodles are one of my go-to favorites.  I use my lemon zester and mix the zucchini noodles with whole wheat pasta.  It cuts the carbs, adds moisture to the whole wheat pasta, and kids (and grown-ups) will gobble it up. The pesto was inspired by a familycircle.com recipe that originally called for almonds instead of pecans.  The leftover pesto is GREAT as a sandwich spread- try it with turkey and roasted red pepper with crisp lettuce.  Don't be afraid of the arugula.  It is not bitter at all.

Pesto:
1/2 c chopped pecans
2 1/2 c arugula
1 1/2 c spinach
1/2 c basil leaves
2 large cloves of garlic
1/2 c olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
black pepper to taste

Blend the first 5 ingredients together in a food processor, adding the oil slowly.  Add salt and pepper. 

Zucchini noodles:
2 small zucchini or 1 medium zucchini, zested in its entirety with a lemon zester
4 oz (1/4 package) whole wheat spaghetti noodles, cooked
1 small clove garlic, minced

In a large saute pan, heat 1 tsp olive oil and add garlic when it sizzles. Add the zucchini noodles and saute, but be somewhat gentle so you don't break up the noodles too much. After about a minute, add the cooked spaghetti. Add about 1/3 cup of the pecan arugula pesto, and toss gently in the saute pan until it is incorporated.  Add more pesto if necessary.  Serve with shaved parmesan cheese and freshly ground black pepper. I also added 1/4 julienned red pepper for color. 

Red Curry Squash and Sweet Potato Soup
This soup has the most wonderful aroma, and is fantastic on a cold, dreary day. You can adjust the curry to your taste, but don't forget that the coconut milk will temper the spice.  If you don't have curry paste, you can also use red curry sauce, which I found at Trader Joe's. The original recipe called for butternut squash only, but I didn't quite have enough, so I threw in a sweet potato and had no regrets.  If it's too spicy, you can always add a dollop of Greek yogurt to cut the heat.

1 lb. butternut squash, peeled and cubed
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed
1-2 T olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 inch ginger root, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T red curry paste or 1/2 c red curry sauce
1 can (14 oz) lite coconut milk
3 c chicken or vegetable broth
2-3 T lime juice, and lime zest if you used fresh lime
1 tsp salt
1/2 c frozen corn (frozen roasted corn if you can find it)
2 diced scallions
1/4 c chopped cilantro (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Toss the squash and the sweet potatoes with 1 T olive oil and arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 25 minutes, or until tender.  In a large soup pot, heat 1 T olive oil and add the onions, garlic, and ginger.  Saute until the onions are translucent and turn off heat. Add the chicken stock, coconut milk, red curry paste, lime juice and zest.  Add the squash and sweet potatoes, and using an immersion blender, blend the soup until it is smooth. Turn the heat back on and add the corn, half the scallions, and salt to taste. Once the soup is heated, ladle into large bowls and garnish with the rest of the scallions and cilantro.

Please leave comments/suggestions.  We love hearing from you!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Crock Pot Tortilla Soup with Sauteed Greens

We were both working this week and unable to cook together, so I suggested, more as a challenge to myself, a crock pot recipe. I am crock pot challenged, even when Claire helps get everything together, but this time it turned out.  I think.  At the very least, it was not only edible but palatable and appetizing!  Claire, I should note, reads her crock pot cookbooks from start to finish, and knows all sorts of things about keeping the lid on, not overfilling, etc.  I tend to skip those parts of cookbooks, and so I end up peeking halfway through and somehow ruining the dish.  It doesn't seem like that would make a difference, but it does.  I'd say this is a great addition to the chili family, this one with a little ole!  Our first recipe in a while with no zucchini! It got good reviews from the family, with very few leftovers.


Crock Pot Tortilla Soup
You can serve this with tortillas, tortilla chips, brown rice, or in my case, sauteed cabbage and spinach!  The taco seasoning is adapted slightly from allrecipes.com.  It tastes like the mix you buy in the store, but you know what's going into it.  We also were able to adjust the cumin flavor, and turn down the heat a little bit for the kids. This is easy to make vegetarian by substituting TVP for the ground meat and using vegetable broth instead.


You might also want to add in finely chopped
mushrooms, carrots, zucchini,
or 1/2 c salsa for extra flavor.
2 cups cooked chicken meat or ground turkey
2 14 oz cans tomatoes, green chili flavor if available
2 cans beans (we used black)
1 bag frozen corn (or 2 cans of corn)
3 T taco seasoning (see below)
2 cans chicken broth
1 small onion, finely diced
1 clove garlic, finely diced
1/4 c cornmeal



Taco seasoning:
1 T chili powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1/4 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp paprika
1 tsp cumin (we used a little less)
1/2 tsp ground coriander (if avail)
salt and pepper to taste


Toppings:
green onions 
shredded cheese
crushed chips
Greek yogurt or sour cream
squeeze of lime

Dump everything in the crock pot, except the toppings.  Stir only once.  Close the crock pot lid and turn on low heat.  Do not open for 4 hours.  DO NOT OVER FILL.  If the crock pot is more than 2/3 full it will not have enough room to create steam and won't cook properly.


Sauteed Greens
I can't stand having a meal with nothing green.  So I had to throw this together.  I put a big scoop in the bottom of the bowl and ladled the soup over it.  Delicious, and only takes about 4-5 minutes to cook!

3 c shredded cabbage
2 cups chopped spinach
1 clove minced garlic

Heat 2 tsp oil in a sautee pan.  Add garlic once the oil is hot enough to sizzle.  Add the cabbage and stir, being careful not to burn. Add liquid as necessary.  Add the spinach as the cabbage is starting to wilt. Salt if necessary, but remember you're serving this with soup!

Please leave a comment!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Red and White Hearty Chili, Red Cabbage and Jicama Slaw, Greek Tomato Salad, and Classic Cornbread

Claire and I both had chili on our minds, with handfuls of veggies thrown in and turkey instead of beef.  We made two delicious versions, one white and one red. They both came together really quickly, which gave us time to come up with a few side dishes. Generally when Claire and I cook, we look through our refrigerators and our conversation goes something like  I've got red cabbage. I've got a lot of tomatoes.  I've got 1/2 a thing of jicama. We could make a red cabbage slaw.  Ok, what about tomato salad? That sounds good. I've got a little bit of feta cheese.  What about Greek tomato salad?  I have a recipe I've been meaning to try.  That will go great with chili.  Should we make cornbread too? I don't know if I'm a huge cornbread fan- the stuff from the box has that weird aftertaste. I have a from-scratch recipe.  Then we discuss our timing- this week for instance, we had a 1 1/2 hour window interrupted by various kid drop-offs and a teacher conference. So if the ingredients sometimes seem a little random, you might be onto something...

Served with Kale Chips. The phrase "Eat your colors!"
comes to mind, doesn't it?

Hearty Turkey Chili
Hearty and heart-healthy.  Unless you serve it with the homemade cornbread posted below, which you should.  Don't be nervous about the quantity of zucchini and mushrooms.  They cook down, and we didn't need to add water.  The mushrooms also gave the chili some depth, while the tomato paste also added a lot of flavor.  We chopped the carrots so finely that you couldn't even tell they were there.  I like putting carrots, pureed or diced into tomato-based soups/sauces because it adds a little sweetness and cuts the natural acidity of the tomatoes. 

1 lb ground turkey, browned
1 onion, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c diced carrots (very fine)
2 c diced mushrooms
3 c diced zucchini
2 x14 oz cans of diced tomatoes
3 T tomato paste
1 T chicken base
1 dash Worcestershire sauce
1 T red wine vinegar
1 T smoked or Hungarian paprika
2 T chili powder
1 T coriander
2 tsp oregano
1 tsp salt (to taste)
1 T honey
1/2 c frozen corn
2 cans white kidney beans, liquid included

Brown the meat, and add the garlic and onions.  Saute together, and add carrots.  Add the zucchini and mushrooms, saute and let them cook down for a few minutes.  During this time, add the tomatoes, tomato paste, chicken base, Worcestershire sauce, red wine vinegar, honey, and spices.  Add the frozen corn and the beans. Salt to taste, let it simmer for about 20-30 minutes. Garnish with Greek yogurt, cheddar cheese, green onions, cilantro if desired. Serve with cornbread.  And hot sauce!

Hearty White Chicken Chili
This white chili, also known as stew, has three different types of meat in it, but it's PACKED with veggies and might even be, dare I say, healthy? Feel free to vary the vegetables.  I used a lot of what was leftover in my fridge from other meals- my baby carrots were on their last legs, and crying to be tossed in a soup. Top it with nonfat Greek yogurt instead of sour cream, and don't forget the cilantro like I did.

1 lb. chicken sausage
4 slices turkey bacon
1 can white chicken breast, or 1 c leftover shredded rotisserie chicken
2 cans white navy beans (rinsed and drained)
1/2 c diced carrots
1/2 c frozen corn
1 medium zucchini, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 c spinach, chopped
3 c cabbage, shredded
1/4 red pepper, diced
1/2 large onion, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp cumin
6 c water or broth
(salt to taste, but the sausage and bacon may have plenty, so taste first)

In a large stockpot, heat 1 tsp olive oil and add garlic and onions. Saute until translucent. Add the sausage and bacon, cook until the sausage is done.  Next add carrots and celery and saute for a few minutes, adding a little water if the pot starts to scorch. Add the canned or rotisserie chicken, followed by the cabbage, zucchini, and corn. Add the beans and the water, followed by the spices. Let the chili simmer on medium heat until it reduces, about 20 minutes. Add the spinach and red pepper about 10 minutes before serving.

Red Cabbage and Jicama Slaw
This is great as a stand-alone side dish, but also works well with pulled pork or BBQ chicken.  I had some on a slice of toast with Chevre cheese.  It was so tempting that a co-worker asked to try it.  Besides, how can you resist the beautiful color? Don't be worried about the quantity- it will reduce as the dressing sets in.

1/2 head red cabbage, thinly sliced with mandoline (about 4-6 cups)
1 jicama, julienned (about 1 1/2 cups)
This is even more vibrant the next day.
4 green onions, sliced thinly on the diagonal.

Dressing:
1/3 c red wine vinegar
1/3 c olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 T honey or agave nectar, or 2 tsp sugar
pinch of dried oregano
pinch of dried basil
sea salt to taste
pepper to taste
2 T water
1 T Dijon mustard

Toss the veggies with the dressing and let it sit for at least 20 minutes.

Greek Tomato Summer Salad
This was a huge hit with Claire's family.  She thinks the feta cheese was what roped them in.  The dressing has fantastic flavor and would be good on a regular salad if you're sick of balsamic and olive oil. 

4 c chopped tomatoes
1 chopped bell pepper
1 cucumber, seeded and chopped
2 oz feta cheese, crumbled

Dressing:
1/2 c red wine vinegar
1/2 c olive oil
2 pinches dried oregano
6 basil leaves, sliced
1 T honey
salt and pepper to taste

Toss veggies with dressing, and let sit for 30-45 minutes. Add the feta cheese before serving.

Claire's Classic Cornbread
This is really good.  It is sweet, but not cloyingly so.  And it doesn't have that weird aftertaste that the box mix has. Claire had tried many different homemade cornbread recipes, and adapted this one from Martha Stewart's Everyday Food, adding a little more moisture and frozen corn as well.  I agree that cornbread should have real corn in it for added texture and sweetness.  The kids loved it, especially the twins.

1/2 c unsalted melted butter
1 1/2 c lowfat buttermilk
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
6 T sugar
1 1/2 c fine cornmeal
1 c flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 c fresh or frozen corn

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Butter an 8 x 8 inch baking pan. Combine the dry ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.  In a large bowl, mix the wet ingredients. Whisk the melted butter together with the buttermilk, eggs, sugar, and corn. Gradually incorporate the dry ingredients.  Mix until just combined, being careful not to overmix. Pour the batter into the baking pan. Bake for 23-28 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.



Let us know if you try our recipes, what worked, what didn't... We love hearing your comments. 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Meatless Monday: Vegetable and Chevre Casserole

Another successful Meatless Monday experiment. The kids liked it, and Claire was pleasantly surprised- as much as we love our veggies, few people jump up and down at the prospect of veggie casserole, right? It's also great reheated!

Vegetable and Chevre Casserole
I got the original recipe for this from thefresh20.com, which is a great meal planning site.  I tweaked it a little by adding chevre instead of feta, and adding TVP to give the recipe a little more substance. TVP is textured vegetable protein. It is low cost, and you just add hot water for a few minutes to reconstitute it.  It has the texture of ground meat, but not the flavor. I add a little balsamic vinegar to it to give it a little more flavor, and mixed into dishes, it adds texture and protein. The recipe works just fine without it, also.

1 box whole wheat penne pasta
1 medium onion, diced
2 T olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 carrots, diced
2 zucchini, diced
4 tomatoes, diced
1 c green beans, diced
3/4 c packed basil leaves, chopped
2 c chopped spinach
1 c crumbled chevre cheese
1 c TVP (textured vegetable protein), reconstituted (optional)
1/4 c sunflower seeds
4 T balsamic vinegar
2 c vegetable stock or water
salt and pepper
1 c whole wheat bread crumbs
1/2 c parmesan cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook pasta as directed, drain and place in 9 x 13 inch pan. In a large saute pan, heat olive oil and add onions and garlic. Cook until translucent. Add carrots (these take longer) and saute, adding a little vegetable stock of water if the pan gets dry. Next add zucchini and saute for a minute before adding green beans.   Add tomatoes, basil leaves, and 3 T balsamic vinegar. Let simmer for a few minutes. Add the rest of the vegetable stock or water and salt and pepper. Stir in basil leaves and spinach at the last minute, and then pour over the noodles. Stir so that all the noodles are covered. Add 1 T balsamic vinegar to the TVP, and mix into the casserole along with the sunflower seeds. Crumble in the chevre and mix carefully.  Mix the bread crumbs with the cheese and sprinkle over the top.  Bake for 20 minutes covered, then 10 minutes uncovered so that the bread crumb layer is golden brown.

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Friday, September 16, 2011

Baked Parmesan Chicken Tenders and Lemon Zucchini Noodles

Claire needed a week off, so Myndi, who has been taking care of my kids for nearly 5 years, helped me with this meal. The veggies are mixed in with the noodles, but I still like to serve it with a salad. It was a big hit with the twins, who kept asking for more "noo-noo" (noodles) and "bawk bawk" (chicken). Of course, it turns out that many of the noo-noo were ending up in hair and down shirts, but I'm pretty sure they got a good meal anyway. Bawk bawk!
That's homemade ranch dressing from the previous post.
You can use it as dip, too if you want.

Baked Parmesan Chicken Tenders
This recipe was adapted from thefresh20.com. It's easy to make and delicious.  My son dipped his chicken in ketchup.  If you have any leftovers, they are also great for a quick lunch or sandwich the next day!

Prebaked...
1 1/2 lbs chicken breasts, cut into palm-sized pieces of even thickness
1 egg
2 T Dijon mustard
3/4 c (whole wheat or panko) bread crumbs
1/4 c Parmesan cheese, grated
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp oregano

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a baking sheet. Combine the breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, garlic powder, and oregano in a small shallow bowl. Whisk the egg and mustard with 2 T water.  Dip the pieces of chicken into the egg/mustard mixture, and evenly coat with breadcrumbs.  Arrange on baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes or until the chicken is done.
Crunchy hot delicious!

Lemon Zucchini Noodles
I really love zucchini noodles, which is good because I still have a lot of zucchini.  When mixed with whole wheat spaghetti, which can sometimes taste like corrugated cardboard strips, it adds moisture and a lightness without adding significant calories. I used a whole lemon with the zest as well, and happened to score some lovely grape tomatoes from Nicole at work, so I threw those in too.  This would also be a great Meatless Monday main dish or side dish.
I had to include this prep picture because it was so tantalizing.

1/2 package of (whole wheat) spaghetti, about 8 oz
1 medium zucchini (do not peel)
1 c grape tomatoes, quartered
1 1/2 c spinach, chopped
juice and zest of 1 lemon
2 cloves of garlic, minced

Cook the spaghetti noodles as directed on the package. While you are waiting, zest the entire zucchini until you have a pile of zucchini noodles (see picture). In a large pan, heat 1 tsp olive oil and add garlic.  Stir and add zucchini, noodles, and lemon juice/zest. (The best cooking tool for this is a pair of long chopsticks, but failing that, try tongs.) Add the tomatoes and spinach, and toss in the pan for another minute until the spinach is wilted.

It looks like pasta and tastes like pasta, but it's half vegetables!


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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Meatless Monday: Spinach Cheese Quesadillas, Easy Black Beans, and Spanish Rice

Quesadillas with beans and rice is almost a no-brainer, but the lack of green in the meal seems wrong to me. I will usually serve this with a little salad anyway, but adding the spinach and making the beans from scratch (although to make it quick, I used canned beans) really adds to the freshness and nutrition.  I also upped the health quotient by using whole grain tortillas and olive oil instead of butter.
I used non-fat Greek yogurt with a sprinkle of dill instead of sour cream.
This has the added benefit of increasing the protein content of the meal.

Spinach Cheese Quesadillas
I feel silly writing a recipe, but I do know at least one woman who did not know what a quesadilla was.  I explained that it was a grilled cheese sandwich, only instead of bread you use tortillas.  I buy my shredded cheddar in bulk, and then freeze it in small bags in 2 cup portions.  I also normally would add a little chopped mushroom to this, but mushrooms is on one of my kids' Don't Like List. Therefore, I'm not allowed to give him a hard time about it, so I leave them out for now. 

I used sprouted grain tortillas for these.
2 cups chopped spinach
(1/2 cup thinly sliced mushrooms, sauteed, optional)
2 cups shredded cheddar
1 scallion chopped
10-12 medium tortillas
small amount of butter or olive oil

Butter or brush olive oil one side of a tortilla and put in a frying pan, with the heat on medium. Sprinkle cheese, spinach, sauteed mushroom, and a little scallion. Do the same with one side of another tortilla and layer on top, greased side up. When the quesadilla is brown on the bottom, carefully flip over and brown the second side. Makes 5-6 quesadillas.

Black Beans
Holy frijoles, these are yummy! My twins LOVE beans and rice.  Can't feed them fast enough. If this is the case for you, make a double batch and use the leftovers the next day for lunch. The flavors meld together overnight, so they're even better reheated. If you want to REALLY make it from scratch, soak the beans overnight and cook for 30 minutes to 1 1/2 hours, depending on how long you soaked the beans, etc.  Or you could use a pressure cooker or crock pot. It's really not difficult; just takes some planning.  

I added frozen roasted corn. So good.
  • 1 (16 ounce) can black beans, rinsed
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 red bell pepper, chopped or frozen corn
  • 3 T chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 T balsamic vinegar
  • 1 T soy sauce
  • 1 T sherry or white wine
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • salt to taste

Saute the onion and garlic together in 1 tsp olive oil. Add red pepper, then beans.  Stir in balsamic, soy sauce, and sherry. Salt and cayenne to taste. Bring to a boil.  Simmer for 5 minutes, then stir in cilantro right before serving. 

Spanish Rice
I may have mentioned before that I cook all my rice in a rice cooker. It's an old rice cooker that I've been using for over 20 years. I add enough water so that my second knuckle is covered when I lay my hand over the surface of the rice. It works every time, but makes it difficult for me to estimate how much water to write down in a recipe. So, I'm adapting the following recipe from http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/best-spanish-rice/detail.aspx
I used short grain brown rice. Long grain rice would give it
a more traditional look. Oh, and I stirred in some chopped
spinach at the end. See Laura's List for more on that.

1 1/2 c white or brown rice, uncooked
2 c water or vegetable broth
1/4 c chopped onion
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp dill weed
1 c salsa

Saute onion in olive oil until soft.  Add uncooked rice and saute.  Add oregano and dill weed. Mix in salsa. At this point, you can add the water and finish cooking on the stovetop, or transfer the whole mixture along with the liquids to a rice cooker to finish. Either way, it's ready in about 20 minutes.


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Monday, September 12, 2011

World's Best Turkey Burgers, Angel Hair Coleslaw, and Pear Chevre Salad with Cilantro Lime Tahini Dressing

We jazzed up Claire's amazing turkey burgers a little by adding more veggies to the burger mix, but absolutely no flavor was lost. Since I am on a little health kick, this works for me.  You may notice there is a little less fat in our recipes (at least for a few weeks) and that we have replaced refined grains and sugars with whole grain this and agave nectar. Don't worry-- we are not compromising on flavor, and the baked goods will be back soon enough.  We're already planning some great fall line-ups.  In the meantime, you won't be disappointed in this meal. And neither will your waistline.

It looks like melted cheese, doesn't it? It's roasted yellow pepper.
The cheese is IN the burger and oozes out when you bite in..


World's Best Turkey Burgers
Perhaps inspired by my spinach obsession, Claire has recently been trying to add more mushrooms to her daily fare.  So we've created a veggie-packed version of her original turkey burger by adding spinach, mushrooms, and carrots. The gouda and the scallions add such a great flavor that you won't need condiments. These burgers are moist and delicious! Served here with lettuce, tomato, and roasted yellow pepper.  This recipe yields about 6 burgers.  If you make a double batch, they freeze well for a quick meal later in the month.

1 1/2 lb. ground turkey
1/2 c grated gouda cheese
4 scallions, finely chopped
1/4 c dried whole wheat bread crumbs
1/4 c Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, finely minced
2 carrots, finely grated (optional)
1 -2 c spinach, chopped finely (optional)
3 mushrooms finely diced (optional)

Mix all ingredients together. Form into six generous 1 inch patties.  Place on the hottest part of the grill and sear until browned, about 1-2 minutes on each side.  Move to a slightly cooler part of the grill and cook until done (5-10 minutes). Serve on whole wheat buns.

Angel Hair Coleslaw
We both independently bought bags of pre-shredded cabbage at the grocery, totally on impulse.  We had to laugh at each other.  I have to admit, I was a little jealous because Claire found angel hair pre-shredded cabbage.  I realize that you can just buy a cabbage and then shred it yourself, but if you're going to make an impulse purchase, isn't it better to buy a bag of cabbage than a new pair of shoes or lipstick? We are living life in the suburban fast lane.  The angel hair cabbage really reduced quickly.  This is an original dressing. It was wonderful with the burgers, and would even be a great garnish for the burgers or just serve it on the side.  This recipe makes twice as much dressing as you need, so you can try it both ways!

Dressing:
1/2 c white balsamic vinegar
1/2 c olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 T honey or agave nectar
pinch of dried oregano
pinch of dried basil
smoked sea salt to taste (or regular sea salt)
pepper to taste
2 T water
1 T Dijon mustard

Reserve half the dressing, saving for later, and toss the other half with:
4 cups finely shredded cabbage
1 carrot, finely grated
1/2 spinach leaves, chopped (for color!)

Whisk the dressing ingredients together and toss with the cabbage, carrots, and spinach.

Cilantro Lime Tahini Dressing a.k.a Sauce
We are on a salad dressing kick.  Salad dressing is easy and quick to make at home, and after you get used to the lightness and fresh flavor of homemade dressings, it's hard to go back to the stuff in the bottles. This dressing is adapted from Peas and Thank You by Sarah Matheny, and would work great on grilled fish as well.  If you're wondering what to do with all that extra tahini, try the hummus from last week!

1/2 c water
1/2 c tahini
1/4 c lime juice (use the zest too if fresh squeezed)
1/8 c dark soy sauce or tamari
1 T chopped cilantro
2 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp agave nectar (or sugar) to taste

Whisk together until combined well.


Pear Chevre Salad with Cinnamon Vinaigrette
We adapted the recipe for the dressing from Peas and Thank You by Sarah Matheny.  The cinnamon vinaigrette is a departure from the usual path, but it's such an interesting dressing that it's worth a try. This salad would also be great with candied pecans or walnuts, but we just used plain pecans today.  We thought this might also be good with bleu cheese crumbles or a sweet potato salad.

1 tsp Dijon mustard
3 T apple cider vinegar
3 T lemon juice
1/3 c agave nectar or pure maple syrup
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 c canola oil

Whisk all ingredients together, except for the oil.  Slowly drizzle the oil in while whisking vigorously.  Serve over fresh lettuce, with pear slices, nuts, and cheese crumbles such as chevre or gorgonzola.

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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Mediterranean Zucchini Boats, Fresh Hummus, and Tabouli Salad

We still have a lot of zucchini, in case you can't tell.  We are also looking forward to the start of school, as Claire and I have found it significantly more challenging to cook at our usual pace and quantity with 6 kids running around. Not that having to pick out an occasional Nerf bullet out of a pile of chopped onions would break our stride at all. This collection of recipes is on the healthy side, with very little fat and lots of fresh vegetables and small portions of lean meat. We didn't leave out the flavor, however.  The leftovers from prepping the zucchini boats were nicely combined into a delicious pasta with whole wheat noodles. No one complained in our house.

Mediterranean Zucchini Boats
This is an original recipe. Cooking time can vary, depending on how soft you like your zucchini.  For a firmer texture, 35 minutes would probably do it. Serve this with the Creamy Greek Goddess dressing over the top.

4-6 medium zucchini
1 lb lean ground beef or chicken sausage
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 onion, diced
2 1/2 c cooked quinoa
2 cups spinach, chopped
1 egg (lightly beaten)
1 c low fat cottage cheese
1/4 tsp cinnamon
salt and pepper to taste (less if you used sausage)

Saute the garlic and onions until the onions are soft.  Add the meat and break up into little pieces until it's cooked. Add in the spinach.  Reserve about a third on an extra plate.  (This will be combined with the zucchini guts to make a nice pasta for the next night.)  In a medium bowl, mix the ground beef/spinach mixture (the 2/3 portion) with the cooked quinoa, egg, cottage cheese, and cinnamon. Slice the zucchini in half lengthwise. Scoop out the insides or guts and reserve.  Thicker zucchini will mean a slightly longer cooking time, but less potential waste. Arrange the hollowed zucchini on a baking pan and stuff with the stuffing mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes.  To make the zucchini more tender (or mushy), add a small amount of water to the bottom of the pan.  Serve with Creamy Greek Goddess Dressing drizzled over the top.

Creamy Greek Goddess Dressing/Dip
Using Greek yogurt significantly increases the protein content of this dressing.  If you like it more pourable, add a couple of tablespoons of milk, although I would let it set for a few minutes before you decide, as the high water content of the parsley and herbs tends to make it fairly liquid.  It's great on salad and as a dip, and in this case, a sauce for the Zucchini Boats above.

1 c non-fat plain Greek yogurt
2 T chives, chopped
1 T mint, finely chopped
2 T cilantro, chopped
2 T parsley, chopped
1/2 tsp salt
pepper to taste

Blend in a food processor.



Tabouli
I had to convince Claire that we needed to make this.  She had a recent bad tabouli experience from which she is still recovering. This won her over in one bite, though, with its fresh lemon flavor.  I squeezed fresh lemon juice, so I used a bit of zest to give it an extra pop.   I'm pretty sure that real tabouli salad doesn't include cucumber, but we really liked the addition.

1/4 c bulgur wheat
1/4 c warm water
1 cucumber, peeled and seeded, and cut into small chunks
1 1/2 large parsley bunch, chopped
2 tomatoes, diced
4 scallions, chopped
1/4 c lemon juice with diced zest
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 c olive oil

Soak the bulgur wheat in the warm water for an hour while you get everything else ready. (If you're in a hurry, stick it in the microwave for a couple of minutes.) Mix the bulgur wheat with the remaining ingredients in a large mixing bowl.

Hummus
I used to always make my own hummus, in part because once you buy a jar of tahini, you are somewhat obligated to keep making hummus until the tahini is all gone. I've gotten out of the habit, but store bought hummus often has a weird flavor, and a lot of extra added fat. Actually making hummus is so easy and inexpensive that it's silly not to try it at least once. You will be a convert, I promise.  The garlic can be increased if you like the hummus spicy, and if you aren't interested in talking to people for the rest of the day.

2 cans chickpeas, drained, but with the liquid reserved
1/3 c lemon juice with a little diced zest
2 T tahini
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
2 T olive oil
paprika and chopped parsley for garnish

Blend all ingredients except the chickpea liquid and the garnish in batches in a small food processor. Or all at once in a big food processor.  Keep blending until it is creamy, adding reserved liquid as needed until the desired consistency is reached. Scrape out the hummus into a bowl and garnish.  Serve with veggies or pita wedges, or use on sandwiches.

Zucchini Guts Pasta
This pasta was created to eliminate any waste from the Mediterranean Zucchini Boats above. Some family members voted it better than the boats. It's got tons of zucchini in it, as well as chopped spinach, and we used whole wheat pasta!

2 c meat stuffing, reserved from above recipe (approximate)
2 c zucchini innards, chopped
2 c chopped spinach
1/4 c basil leaves, chopped
1/4 onion, diced (this was leftover so we added it!)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 T chicken base + 1 c water, or 1 c chicken stock
4 c cooked whole wheat pasta noodles

In a large saute pan, add 1 tsp olive oil and then saute the garlic and onions until the onions are translucent. Add the zucchini, and saute until it is cooked.  Mix in the meat, spinach, and basil leaves. Add the base + water or stock, and add the noodles last.  Stir until everything is mixed in evenly. Top with shredded parmesan if desired.

Claire holding my twins.


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