Asparagus Salad with Poached Eggs and Tapenade Toasts

Asparagus Salad with Poached Eggs and Tapenade Toasts

Even since I made this for lunch many weeks ago, I have been trying to do something a little more special for lunch on Sundays.  It used to be that Sunday was my big day to cook a grand meal.  But then the Big Green Egg came along, and we have renamed Sunday “Egg Day.”  Don’t get me wrong, I look forward to “Egg Day” each week, but it has finally caught up to me that I miss my cooking day.  Baking stuff for the kid’s lunches is great, and making breakfast treats is awesome, but I miss making that one big meal that you can sit down and really be proud of.

I am not sure how it happened, but all of a sudden I started focusing on Sunday lunches.  It used to be that every Sunday I would just eat leftovers, or make myself an egg sandwich.  Usually I exercise in the morning, so by lunch I am craving some protein – and an egg sandwich hits the spot.  So instead of egg sandwiches, I started thinking about other egg dishes that would hit the spot.  I found this recipe a while ago in Cooking Light, and have been waiting until asparagus season to try it out.  I was actually waiting to make this for dinner one night – but wouldn’t it be an even better lunch?  Of course!

As I was preparing my dish, my younger daughter looked over at what I was doing with intrigue.  I asked her what she wanted to for lunch, and she quickly said, “whatever you are making!”  I loved it.  She was so excited to have her own beautiful Sunday lunch.  We felt like we were eating at a restaurant.  We both gobbled this down so quickly, I could have eaten two portions.  Scraping up that yolk with the asparagus, and then taking a bite of toast was just plain gleeful.  I can hardly wait for next Sunday…not just for dinner, but for lunch too.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds asparagus spears, trimmed
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated orange rind
  • 3 tablespoons fresh orange juice, divided
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 4 teaspoons white wine vinegar, divided
  • 1 tablespoon capers, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground fennel seeds
  • 1 1/2 ounces kalamata olives, pitted and coarsely chopped (about 1/3 cup)
  • 1  garlic clove, minced
  • 12  (1/2-ounce) slices whole-wheat baguette
  • 6  large eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

Preparation

Preheat broiler to high.

Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Add asparagus; cook 3 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain; keep warm.

Combine rind, 2 tablespoons orange juice, 2 tablespoons oil, and 2 teaspoons vinegar in a bowl, stirring well with a whisk.

Place remaining 1 tablespoon orange juice, remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons oil, capers, fennel seeds, olives, and garlic in a food processor; process until finely chopped.

Place baguette slices on a baking sheet. Broil 2 minutes or until golden, turning after 1 minute.

Add water to a large skillet, filling two-thirds full; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer. Stir in remaining 2 teaspoons vinegar. Break each egg into a custard cup. Gently pour eggs into pan; cook 3 minutes or until desired degree of doneness. Carefully remove eggs from pan using a slotted spoon.

Spread tapenade evenly onto toasts; place 2 toasts on each of 6 plates. Drizzle asparagus with dressing, tossing gently to coat. Divide asparagus evenly among plates. Top asparagus with 1 poached egg; sprinkle eggs evenly with pepper and salt. Serve immediately.

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Tortilla Soup with Chorizo and Turkey Meatballs

Tortilla Soup with Chorizo and Turkey Meatballs

The days are getting longer.  Yes, that is exactly how I think about it.  Daylight Savings Time is not my friend.  In the fall, it is a completely different story – you get an extra hour of sleep, everything is peachy.  Plus, I actually love when it gets dark at 4pm in the afternoon, there is something very appealing to me.  I think it is because it seems like it should be so much later when it is dark, but you have hours left in the day.  Last weekend really messed me up – I have been exhausted all week – and as I am typing away, I really should be getting some sleep, as I have a 4am conference call tomorrow.  As if my internal clock isn’t already messed up enough.

There is something positive though about longer days…and it all comes back to this blog.  When I started this blog, I went out and got a painter’s light so I could take pictures before dinner (when it was dark), and I would still capture some good shots.  Over the years though life has become just too hectic – and last year, with my New Year’s resolution to simplify (which I tried extremely hard to do, but it never seems to be enough), I decided I would no longer go through the hassle.  Taking pictures outside is much easier and less time consuming.  Easier said then done.  What that means is that half the year, I can only make things on the weekend to post – and they need to be photographed while there is still light in the sky.  At least my family no longer waits for me to take pictures before we eat dinner.

Longer days means taking pictures after I make a weeknight meal – I love it.  Last night I was so excited to run a bowl of soup outside and snap a few shots before sitting down – I felt like I accomplished that much more in my evening.  After all – this very easy soup that I found in Cooking Light was definitely worth photographing.  I took one taste, and I knew it was a keeper.  I love a good meal in a bowl – and this was definitely satisfying.  I must say – do not skip the cilantro – it made the entire dish sing.

So, maybe longer days means I can be more productive.  But seriously, is that really what I need right now?  Just a good bowl of soup and some sleep – now that’s more like it.

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 3/4 cup chopped seeded poblano pepper
  • 1 ounce smoked Spanish chorizo, finely chopped
  • 4 cups unsalted chicken stock (such as Swanson)
  • 1  (14.5-ounce) can unsalted diced tomatoes, drained
  • 2  corn tortillas, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 12 ounces 93% lean ground turkey
  • 1  large egg
  • Cooking spray
  • 3/4 cup frozen corn kernels
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Preparation

Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add oil; swirl to coat. Add onion, poblano, and chorizo; sauté 2 minutes. Add stock and tomatoes; bring to a simmer. Stir in tortillas.

Combine 1/4 teaspoon salt, garlic powder, and next 4 ingredients (through egg). Shape turkey mixture into 12 meatballs. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add meatballs; cook 4 minutes, browning on all sides. Add meatballs, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and corn to stock mixture, and simmer 5 minutes. Top with cilantro.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Tortilla Soup with Chorizo and Turkey Meatballs

Lentil Salad with Soft-Cooked Eggs

Lentil Salad with Soft-Cooked Eggs

Lunch has never been my favorite meal and I think I know why.  At home on the weekends, it seems to be more of a chore than anything else.  The girls are usually not starving, because they had a late breakfast – and they never know what to eat.  If it were up to them they would have a brunch every day – with eggs, pancakes, bacon, etc…  At work, although I am starving, I have to force myself to get to the cafeteria just to get something healthy in my body.  Then I just march back up the five flights of stairs just to sit in my office and eat while I catch up on email.  How is that healthy?

When I am traveling in Europe it is completely different.  Even when I am in the office we take the time to go to the cafeteria and sit down and eat – that is if we don’t get out of the building and eat somewhere else.  Even when we have meetings, we take the time to have lunch.  When I studied there during college, I remember that was the only meal that I didn’t eat with my French family – that was their family time – the kids left school to go home for lunch, and that was the big meal of the day.  It makes sense – you have hours to burn off the food and then you eat a light dinner before going to bed.

When I am home on the weekends, my go-to-lunch is an egg sandwich.  I tend not to eat eggs for breakfast, but by lunch time that is exactly what I need.  I have been staring at the lentils in my pantry for quite a while now, when this recipe flew out of the stacked pile from Cooking Light.  A big light bulb went off in my head.  Instead of my typical egg sandwich, why not take the time to make this lentil salad that I can enjoy a few times this week, and cook a soft boiled egg to go on top – just like the beautiful picture next to the recipe.  I swear, it was calling me.

My egg was probably a little softer than the recipe called for – but it was perfect for me.  The yolk drizzled over the top of the arugula and the combination with the lentils was to die for.  By the time this was done, the girls had already eaten, and were upstairs – so I had the kitchen to myself.  It was almost luxurious – sitting there with my beautiful salad. Not having to get up and get something for someone.  I took my time, and savored every bite.  Now I can see why lunch is so appealing – if only life always quieted down during the middle of the day.  Keep dreaming…

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups dried petite green lentils
  • 6  large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 1 1/4 cups diced red bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 8 cups baby arugula

Preparation

Place lentils in a medium saucepan. Cover with water to 3 inches above lentils; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until lentils are tender. Drain and keep warm.

Add water to a large saucepan to a depth of 3 inches; bring to a boil. Add eggs; boil 5 minutes and 30 seconds. Drain. Plunge eggs into ice water; let stand 5 minutes. Drain and peel.

Combine oil, vinegar, mustard, garlic, salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Set aside 2 tablespoons oil mixture. Add lentils, bell pepper, onions, and celery to remaining oil mixture; toss gently to coat. Place reserved 2 tablespoons oil mixture and arugula in a large bowl; toss to coat.

Place about 3/4 cup lentil mixture and about 1 cup arugula mixture on each of 6 plates. Cut eggs in half lengthwise; top each serving with 2 egg halves. Sprinkle evenly with remaining 1/8 teaspoon black pepper.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Lentil Salad with Soft-Cooked Eggs

Pork Posole

Pork Posole

I have started trying something new on the weekends.  I have been very spoiled for some time now – my husband has a toy, it is called The Big Green Egg, and Sunday’s are egg day.  I am no longer responsible for Sunday night dinners, and haven’t been for a few years.  He has taken that responsibility (of course I help with the sides), and I have definitely been benefiting.  It allows me to focus on making jam and baking on Sunday, which is absolutely what I love to do.

The other weekend though I had a thought – cooking during the week is hard.  We cook every night (we are not a take out family, nor do we go to restaurants on school nights), and let me tell you – after being at work all day, it is hard to get home and then cook a meal from scratch every night.  Before we had kids – I would cook every weekend, for the entire week.  We worked even more back then, and when we got home at 8pm, we just wanted to be able to throw something in the oven, but still have a home cooked meal.  So why don’t I do more of that now?  Well, I have limited cooking time, and like I mentioned, I need to save some for jamming and baking.

So, I decided to make one meal over the weekend, that we could warm up later in the week – and I saw this recipe in Cooking Light and thought it would be perfect.  It was super easy to make, and it warmed up just perfectly.  I think it actually even had a better flavor after letting it sit in the refrigerator for a few days.  The pork was so ridiculously tender, and the hominy really softened up.  Let’s see if I can actually keep this going…and maybe add another meal in there at some point.  I can always dream.

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 12 ounces boneless pork shoulder, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 4  garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1/2 cup beer
  • 2 cups unsalted chicken stock (such as Swanson)
  • 1/2 cup salsa verde
  • 1  (28-ounce) can hominy, drained
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves
  • avocado

Preparation

Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add oil; swirl to coat. Add pork; sauté 5 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Remove pork from pan, reserving 1 tablespoon drippings in pan. Add onion to pan; sauté 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute, stirring constantly. Return pork to pan; stir in cumin and pepper. Add beer; bring to a boil. Cook until liquid almost evaporates (about 9 minutes).

Add chicken stock, salsa, and hominy; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1 hour and 10 minutes or until pork is very tender, stirring occasionally. Ladle 1 1/3 cups soup into each of 4 bowls. Top each serving with 1 tablespoon cilantro and avocado.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Pork Posole

Red Lentil Dahl

Red Lentil Dal

This is going to be brief, but I need to share this recipe.  What a week – I can hardly believe it is almost over.  I really feel like I blinked, and it went from Monday to Thursday night.  It didn’t help that I was in meetings pretty much all week, and have barely had a chance to catch my breath – and in the process came down with a nasty cold. My body was definitely trying to tell me something…maybe I just need some soup.

Fall came really quickly this year, and all of a sudden it became soup and stew weather.  Not only is it pretty easy to make (for the most part), you can make a large batch and it usually it gets better the longer it sits.  One of my favorite recipes to make when the weather turns is Dahl.  I just love Indian food – those wonderful flavors and spices all blended together, and Dahl is just super easy to make – particularly this recipe from Cooking Light.

We used to eat Indian food quite a bit, but with my husband’s dairy allergy we have really cut that out of our routine.  The girls also have not embraced Indian food as much as they have embraced other international flavors.  This dish though got them a little closer to asking for it – they both loved it, and even ate the large pieces of spinach.  Hopefully they will be able to ward off this cold – and I will be seeing some Indian food in my future….more soon.

Ingredients

  • 5 cups water, divided
  • 3/4 cup dried small red lentils
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 3/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
  • 2  serrano chiles, minced (optional)
  • 2 ounces spinach (about 4 cups loosely packed)

Preparation

To prepare dal, combine 3 cups water and lentils in a bowl. Let stand 20 minutes; drain.

Heat a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil; swirl to coat. Add the chopped onion; sauté 3 minutes. Add ginger and next 6 ingredients (through serranos); sauté for 30 seconds. Add lentils and remaining 2 cups water to pan. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer 23 minutes. Stir in spinach; cook 2 minutes or until spinach wilts.

To prepare salad, combine 2 tablespoons oil, rind, juice, and sugar in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add carrot, sliced onion, and cilantro; toss to coat.

To prepare flatbreads, shape each dough portion into a 5-inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Coat dough with cooking spray. Heat a grill pan over high heat. Add 2 dough portions to pan; cook 2 minutes on each side or until lightly charred. Repeat the procedure with remaining dough. Combine coriander and 1/4 teaspoon salt; sprinkle over hot flatbreads. Serve with rice, dal, and salad.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Red Lentil Dahl

Red Lentil Dahl 2

Two-Cheese Mac and Cheese

Two Cheese Mac and Cheese

It’s interesting to watch people change over time.  I look at my daughters now, and wonder how they will turn out 10, 20, 30 years from now.  When I was younger, I hated to write.  Stick me in front of a stack of numbers, and I was happy as a clam – but ask me to do any type of writing, and I would just panic.  To this day, I am still much more comfortable with numbers (or quantitative data), than I am with any other type of information – but there is a part of me that longs to write.  It is a way to let things out in a non-obtrusive sort of way – to let some of the stress out that builds up throughout the day.  Fortunately I have other healthy ways to deal with stress, but writing actually does allow me to cope in a way that I had never experienced before.

Jealousy is a horrible word.  It is horrible for so many reasons, but it has taken on a whole new meaning for me over the past several years.  I have watched it destroy people – and for no good reasons what so ever.  There is never any winning when jealousy is involved.  It only ends up hurting people.  And sometimes you can dig yourself into such a big hole, that there is no coming out unscathed.  It is at those times that you wish you could turn back the clock – and remind the person how this could end.  Maybe, just maybe that would resonate. Sometimes you just don’t know how good you have it.  It is not just a horrible word, it is a horrible state.

I have never been much of a jealous person, although I have definitely been guilty of food envy.  Going to a restaurant is a little bit like opening a box of chocolates. You can look at the menu and read about the dishes, but until you get a chance to taste – you don’t really know what you are going to get.  Macaroni and Cheese is a whole different story.  Seriously – when have you ever had a macaroni and cheese that you did not like?  Ok – so as I write that, I can remember over the years eating plenty of mac-n-cheese that looked amazing, but when you actually took a bite it either had no flavor, was dry, or just tasted like someone melted some cheese over pasta.  Now – just to keep it real, of course I have never turned away mac-n-cheese, even if it didn’t taste fantastic – but I will never give up finding that perfect mac-n-cheese recipe, and just when I think I have found it, I am sure there is another one out there that is even better.

The other week while my husband was travelling, I decided it was time to try out a new mac-n-cheese recipe.  One of my daughters is not a big fan of cream cheese, but I figured this might just change her mind.  And boy did it ever.  The girls thought this was hands down the best mac-n-cheese I have ever made.  It was super creamy, flavorful, and worth every single bite – and the best part of all, it came from Cooking Light.  So no need to ever have food envy with this recipe in your stash.  And don’t worry, it feeds a big crowd – so no one else will have food envy either.  It’s a win-win for everyone – and isn’t that the way life should be.

Ingredients

  • 10 ounce large elbow macaroni
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 3  garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 1/4 cups unsalted chicken stock (such as Swanson), divided
  • 1/2 cup 2% reduced-fat milk
  • 8 teaspoons all-purpose flour
  • 4 ounces 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Cooking spray
  • 3 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (about 3/4 cup)

Preparation

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain. Set aside.

Preheat broiler to high.

Heat a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add garlic to pan; cook 3 minutes or until garlic is fragrant, stirring frequently (do not brown). Stir in 1 cup stock; bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute. Combine remaining 1 1/4 cups stock, milk, and flour; stir with a whisk until flour dissolves. Add milk mixture to garlic mixture, stirring with a whisk. Bring to a boil; cook 5 minutes or until mixture begins to thicken. Remove milk mixture from heat; add cream cheese, stirring until smooth. Stir in salt and pepper. Add cooked pasta to milk mixture, tossing to coat. Let stand 5 minutes. Pour pasta mixture into a 2-quart baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle cheddar evenly over pasta mixture. Broil 3 minutes or until cheese melts and begins to brown. Let stand 5 minutes.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here: Two Cheese Mac and Cheese

Pigs in Sleeping Bags

Pigs in Sleeping Bags

I feel like pork is the new “in thing.”  For me, it has never lost it’s luster, but I really feel like it has been making a big comeback since this commercial: “Pork, the other white meat…”  When we were in NYC this summer we ate at Swine, definitely a place that was all about the Pig, and in Seattle they are hyping up another new restaurant focusing on that pink animal – Le Petit Cochon.  It always cracks me up when someone finds out that I am jewish, then assumes that I don’t eat pork.  I realize that my grandparents would probably not like this post very much – but I have to admit, it has a very fond place in my heart.  Come on, everything is better with bacon, even butter.

This recipe was in my pile for a very long time – after finding it in Bon Appetit.  It was one of those recipes that I knew I had to make, but I also had to find the right time to make it.  It called for Dufour puffed pastry, which just happens to be one of the most delicious puffed pastry that you can buy frozen.  I am sure that the ratio of butter to flour is ridiculous, but it is completely worth it.  So – how about some pig with that butter?  And that’s all she wrote.

This recipe is not for everyone – there are multiple steps, and you really much have a very large spatula in which to transfer these babies onto the cookie sheet – otherwise, think ahead, and place the puffed pastry on the cookie sheet before placing the filling on top.  If you do attempt this though – you will certainly not be disappointed – this was outstanding.  The girls really loved them as well – even though they were both very afraid when they saw the sauerkraut.  I served them for dinner – by cutting them in half – but you could easily slice these unto small pieces and serve them as an appetizer, as the recipe says below.

Ok – off to get rid of this headache I have had all week.  In fact, rolling up into a sleeping bag sounds just about perfect right now – I promise to come out for bacon.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup minced shallot
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
  • 3 tablespoons whole milk
  • 3/4 cup drained sauerkraut
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard plus more for serving
  • 3/4 teaspoon caraway seeds, toasted, lightly crushed
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 ounces ground pork
  • 1 14-ounce package Dufour Pastry Kitchens frozen puff pastry, thawed
  • All-purpose flour (for dusting)
  • 1 large egg, beaten to blend

Preparation

Melt butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add shallot and cook, stirring occasionally and reducing heat if needed to prevent burning, until soft,  4-5 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring occasionally,  until aromatic, about 1 minute. Transfer shallot mixture to a large bowl and let cool.

Combine panko and milk in  a small bowl; let stand until milk is absorbed, 2-3 minutes. Add to bowl with shallot mixture. Squeeze any excess liquid from sauerkraut; coarsely chop and add to bowl. Stir in 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard and caraway seeds; season with salt and pepper. Mix well. Add pork; using a fork or your hands, gently mix until just combined (do not overmix).

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll out pastry on a lightly floured surface to a 14×10-inch rectangle. Cut lengthwise into three 14×3 1/3-inch strips. Transfer strips to prepared baking sheet. Using one-third of sausage filling and leaving a 1-inch border at each end, pat sausage to form a thin log of filling down the center of 1 pastry strip. Fold pastry over sausage mixture to enclose, then press pastry together to seal. Fold seam under to ensure that sausage is tightly wrapped. Repeat with remaining pastry and sausage mixture.

Cut small diagonal slits at  1 inch intervals along top of pastries (to help release steam). Brush top and sides of pastry with beaten egg; chill in freezer for about 30 minutes. DO AHEAD: Pastries can be made 2 weeks ahead. Cover tightly with plastic wrap, then foil, and keep frozen.

Preheat oven to 425°. Bake pastries (if frozen, no need  to thaw) until puffed and light brown, about 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350°; continue baking until sausage is cooked through and pastry is golden and completely puffed, about 25 minutes. Let cool slightly. Cut sausage rolls crosswise  into 1 inch pieces. Serve with a bowl of Dijon mustard for dipping.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Pigs in Sleeping Bags

Chicken-Spinach Sliders

Chicken Sliders with Spinach

We are in the second week of school (the first full week), and I get a phone call from the nurse today.  My younger daughter is not feeling well and needs to be picked up.  Ugh.  There’s nothing like getting thrown right into the fire.  Fortunately our college babysitter hasn’t started back at school yet and was able to go get her, so my entire work day was not gone – but still.  Just the stress of knowing you have a sick child at school is not fun.  We are also just in the beginning of the after school activities, and trying to come up with a good rhythm for everything.  I basically come home frazzled every night not knowing where to turn.  There is still paperwork to be filled out, homework to help with, bills to pay, lunches to make – and oh, there is dinner…  Now more than ever I am looking for really healthy and delicious meals to serve and are quick and easy.

Once I get into the groove, I will get back to my recipe planning on the weekends, but I haven’t gotten there yet.  It is really funny how quickly you forget once you get out of the routine.  In August – I was determined to cook during my time off from work – and I definitely did just that.  I can’t wait to repeat some of the dishes I made, they would be perfect for a healthy weeknight dinner – like this one (which I adapted) from Bon Appetit.  My younger daughter has decided that she doesn’t like chicken.  Basically she is just sick of it – we make it so often – mostly because I love it – but it is easy, versatile, and very healthy.  So lately I have been looking for interesting chicken recipes that I can make, where she doesn’t really know it is chicken.  This was definitely a winner – for so many reasons.  Not only was the chicken a big hit – they both loved the spinach – in fact, they hardly knew it was in there.  I served these with the zucchini fritters, and actually used the soy dipping sauce with these as well – what an awesome meal.

So I hope that everyone else is easing into the new school year - I know I will get there, I just need a little more time.  I guess I am still in denial – we finally had the nicest summer on record, and it is still going strong.  A real sunny and hot summer that is unlike anything I have seen in Seattle for 17 years.  The silver lining?  There will be a lot more grilling during the week, and maybe I don’t need to get organized so quickly…it is a perfect excuse to pass this off to my husband the grill master.  If he cooks, it is definitely quick and easy for me…

Ingredients

  • 1/2 bunch flat-leaf spinach, thick stems removed, leaves chopped (about 4 cups)
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 12 slider buns or small dinner rolls, split, lightly toasted (for serving)
  • Mayonnaise, sliced red onion, and pickle slices (for serving)

Preparation

Combine spinach, scallions, garlic, chicken, and cumin in a medium bowl; season with salt and pepper. Using a fork, mix gently just to combine. Form chicken mixture into twelve 1/2-inch-thick patties.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Working in 2 batches, cook patties until golden brown and cooked through (resist the temptation to press down on patties with your spatula while cooking), about 5 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.

Serve chicken -spinach patties on buns with mayonnaise, onion, and pickles.

DO AHEAD: Patties can be formed 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Bring to room temperature before cooking.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here: Chicken-Spinach Sliders

Cucumber Mint Tequila Cooler

Cucumber Mint Tequilla Cooler

I swear, the summer keeps getting better and better.  I feel horrible about saying this when there are so many places not having a good summer, but we deserve it.  It is not every year that we actually see temperatures above 80 degrees, and I swear at this point we have seen more days like that than I can count.  Tonight I did something a little out of the ordinary for me – almost decadent – I went to a class at Book Larder on making cocktails.  I sat there for 90 minutes basically listening to a lecture on different flavor combinations, spices and ways to infuse alcohol.  It was amazing in so many ways…first of all, to take a break from work, or the chaos of coming home after a long day – just to sit there and be able to think about all the different creations available – it is almost a little overwhelming.  There is so much I want to do, and so little time.

This weekend when our friends were visiting, they really got to see what we have been working on for the past couple of years.  They were shocked.  They actually called us adults, and I just laughed.  They wanted to know how we even know what types of alcohol to buy – and I explained that we have basically been doing research for the past couple of years – and this year in particular we really made a lot of progress getting to know a bartender at our favorite restaurant.  He is so knowledgeable, we just sit there and drill him every time we go there.  It is amazing how much we have learned.  Between jam and cocktails, there has got to be a business in there somewhere – or for now, a really fun hobby.

I also decided that from now on, whenever I post a cocktail here, I will explain how to turn it into a mocktail – in case you don’t drink alcohol, you are pregnant – or you want to make your kids something really fun to drink.  I saw this recipe in Cooking Light, and I was sold after the first ingredient.  I am a sucker for anything with cucumbers.  I also thought, why not get your vitamins in as well?  This cocktail was just perfect for a hot summer night.  It was so refreshing, and earthy – the flavors were incredible.  If you are making this alcohol free – just leave out the tequila and add a little extra tonic water - it is that easy.  Your kids will never believe they are actually drinking something good for them.  Here’s to summer!!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups chopped English cucumber
  • 1/2 cup mint leaves
  • 1/3 cup agave nectar
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves
  • 1  lime, sectioned and juiced
  •  Dash of salt
  • 1/2 cup tequila blanco (optional)
  • 3/4 cup chilled tonic water

Preparation

Combine first 6 ingredients in a food processor; pulse until smooth. Scrape mixture into a bowl; stir in tequila. Chill. Strain. Stir in tonic water. Serve over ice.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Cucumber Mint Tequila Cooler

Turkey Lettuce Wraps with Peanut Sauce

Turkey Lettuce Wraps 2

I am a little under the weather…it doesn’t happen very often, and when it does, it is almost impossible for me to slow down, but I am trying.  I am actually waiting for my kids to finish reading so I can go to bed – they hate it when I got to bed before them – and they don’t really understand the concept of their mom being “sick.”

In my last post, I lamented on making lunches…and now isn’t it ironic that my older daughter just entered a “Healthy Lunchtime Challenge” that Michele Obama and Epicurious.com sponsored?  Our dear friend Arla won this last year – she was the representative from Washington State that got to fly to the White House and meet Michele Obama!!!  We are still so proud of her – and it inspired my daughter to enter this year.  I know her chances are not great, but I was proud that she tried.  I wish I saved the essay she wrote for the contest – but I will try and explain it the best I can.  Basically she used to buy hot lunch every once in a while – that was until she realized how horrible the lunches actually were.  One time she ordered Chicken Teriyaki, and she said it had no flavor, and no color – other than brown and white (rice).  She wanted to create something healthy and colorful, that would be fun to eat.

I made lettuce wraps a while ago for dinner one night – and the girls were both skeptic, but they tried them, and LOVED them!!  So that was her inspiration.  She changed the recipe to meet her flavor needs (nothing spicy), and made sure it was made with lean ground turkey and brown rice.  She also mentioned if her cafeteria could serve food like this everyday – she would be running to be first in line.

So – here’s to school lunch of the future…and I think the girls are done reading – so off to bed for me!

Ingredients

Sauce

  • 1 teaspoon canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
  • 4 teaspoons hoisin sauce
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

Filling

  • 1  pound of ground turkey breast
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 6  thinly sliced green onions (about 2/3 cup), divided
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 3 tablespoons lower-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 cup thin sliced red peppers
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 2 cups hot cooked brown rice
  • 8  Bibb lettuce leaves

Preparation

To prepare sauce, heat a small saucepan over medium heat. Add canola oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add shallot, and sauté for 2 minutes. Add 1/3 cup water, peanut-butter and hoisin, and stir with a whisk. Bring to a boil; cook 1 minute. Remove from heat; stir in lime juice.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add sesame oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add 1/3 cup green onions; sauté 1 minute. Add ground turkey; sauté until browned, stirring occasionally. Add 2 tablespoons cilantro, soy sauce, ginger, sugar; sauté 1 minute. Remove from heat.

Spoon 1/4 cup rice into each lettuce leaf. Top with about 1/2 cup meat mixture; sprinkle with green onions, peppers and carrots. Serve with sauce.