Everyday Oven Omelette

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Easy Omelette & Crisp Rye Toast

Easy Omelette & Crisp Rye Toast

Here is the ideal recipe for when you want something kind of light and different … and it works for either brunch or a lazy dinner (in my house … “lazy” means you are out of ideas for what to make).  The ingredients here are just a rough guideline.  Feel free to swap out fresh spinach for the vegetable, a different herb for the dill or basil, red onion for shallots, any other fish for the smoked fish, sweet potato for regular potato.  In other words … the sky is the limit.  You will need a good nonstick pan to make removing the finished eggs from the pan super easy – I have my favorite Swiss Diamond frying pan for this.

And be careful to use oven mitts when taking the saute pan out of the oven.  I always forget the handle will be piping hot and I have burned my fingers more times than you care to know.  I make this when I am alone in the house at dinnertime and I am here to testify that the leftover egg dish is good out of the refrigerator or slightly warmed the next day.

Put on your favorite play list, start pulling things out of your refrigerator and go!

Colorful Ingredients

Colorful Ingredients

Everyday Oven Omelet for Two

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Ingredients
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • ½ cup cooked chopped potatoes (I actually had tri colored small potatoes left over)
  • 1 Tbsp shallots (thinly sliced
  • ½ cup flaked smoked fish
  • ½ cup chopped leftover broccoli or broccolini or asparagus
  • 2 Tbsp chopped dill or basil
Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350 with the oven shelf in the middle.

Over medium high heat, warm the olive oil and butter together in an 8-inch saute pan. Lightly saute the potatoes and shallots for minute until they are a little brown.   Add the fish, vegetables and herbs and distribute evenly.  Meanwhile mix the egg ingredients below together:

  • 4 eggs
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • Fresh ground white or black pepper, as much as you like
  • 1 Tbsp plain yogurt (at least 2%) or sour cream
  • 2 Tbsp crumbled feta or goat cheese

Pour egg mix on top of the sauteed veggies and fish.  When the edges of the omelette are lifting (after one to two minutes), slip the pan carefully into the heated oven for about ten minutes.  Slide out of the pan onto a serving plate and slice pizza style.

Note:  This can be easily doubled for four eaters and put into a 10-inch nonstick skillet.

This was great served with rye toast and a huge bowl of mixed fruit.  So satisfying!

 

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4th Anniversary – Labels & Lessons

This is the fourth anniversary of My Global Kitchens website … so I decided to casually write about some of my current thoughts.

In Oaxaca - making mole... no electricity, surrounded by chickens running around ... but we make the MOST delicious food!

In Oaxaca – making mole… no electricity, surrounded by chickens running around … but we made the MOST delicious food!

I recently took an “Are you a Foodie” quiz. It was funny and although I love food and do a lot of foodie type things, eating regularly at new restaurants isn’t “my thing.”  Yes, I possess  a great deal of  food and nutrition knowledge and can understand most random menu items and descriptions. I love to get together with others who truly enjoy food – ordinary street food, local specialties as well as the unusual ethnic delicacies. And yet I am happiest cooking  food in my own kitchen, where I know where everything comes from and how my creations should taste.

Most of my friends and even my husband are amused with me and giggle at my obsession with cooking, my love of reading cookbooks and food blogs, and my tenacity with trying new ways of making just about everything.  Of course, I have my favorites – chicken picatta, vegetarian soups, crazy salads.   If I am stressed or lonely or happy or sad or tired or energetic – I cook.  I even laugh at myself – I don’t really understand why I love to be in the kitchen and create – but I do.  I’m at peace with it, even if I am cooking just for me!

This is not to say that everyone else is incapable, or that I am in some way superior because I pay so much attention to food.  Quite the opposite.  I almost feel embarrassed that an “Are you a foodie?” quiz exists.  The responses made my skin crawl: For example, I had 19 out of 20, so does that make me a foodie?  On and on, with kind of a smug sounding ring to most of the responses.  Most comments were from foodies.

I don’t call myself a foodie.  I love food, but I call myself a good cook.  A former cateress.

The real problem for me is that I don’t like to be put into any “box” or be labelled as part of a group because usually I’m a bit of an outlier, a rebel.  I don’t relish being casually thought of as  a foodie.  In my experience, once we or others are labelled, it’s almost one size fits all.  “She’s a Republican and probably grew up with guns.”  “He’s a Catholic so when I mentioned my daughter living with her boyfriend, he looked horrified.”  “She has a PhD and is really bright.”  “He grew up with family money, is spoiled and can’t relate.”  Blah blah blah.

I don’t appreciate the “us” versus “them” mentality. Having lived the first 17 years of my life in Iowa in a two parent, middle class family,  I’ve heard more than once how sheltered and naive I must be coming from this background.   In reality I have lived in different locations and travelled throughout this country, and throughout the world so I have personally seen the  many many possibilities and blurry lines when it comes to religion, politics, race, education, interests.

And yes, food.  Some of the best meals I have eaten came from wood burning stoves in villages without electricity.  I don’t enjoy solely surrounding myself with people who are exactly like me, who believe the same things, attend the same religious institutions, belong to the same gym or groups.  For me variety is the spice of life and I enjoy my various  friends and acquaintances, I really do.  Sometimes a person with vastly different beliefs becomes a teacher to me, and what I thought was true absolutely goes up in smoke.  I will also say I am delighted, in a perverse way, when some of my stereotypes and the stories I make up based on appearance or preconceived notions prove to be entirely false.

I’ve learned a lot over the past four years. I’m thrilled I’ve been able to share my stories with you. I hope you’ve grown and expanded along the way. And I’m looking forward to many more adventures, to learning many more lessons and to being proven wrong … again.

And now for one of my favorite quotes:

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”

― Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad/Roughing It

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Muffy’s Moussaka

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Marvelous Moussaka!

Marvelous Moussaka!

If I had to choose a type of ethnic food I love the most, I would select Greek or Mediterranean cuisine.  Something about the eggplant and potatoes and lemony flavors, olive oil and clean spices grabs me, yet I seldom prepare these dishes at home…don’t ask me why because I really have no idea.

I recently started fantasizing about Moussaka, one of the best known of all Greek main dishes. Layers of sauteed vegetables (in my case, eggplant and potato), covered by layers of meat sauce topped with a savory custard Bechamel.    I visited Greece in 1973, and during that trip I ate Moussaka nearly every single day.  I also bought a small paperback cookbook at a streetside kiosk (published in 1973) that has very very basic simple authentic Greek recipes.  And I have used that book so many times I can’t count.

My beloved cookbook - covered in olive oil and fingerprints ... still one of my most treasured books.

My beloved cookbook – covered in olive oil and fingerprints … still one of my most treasured books.

BUT the last time I can recall making Moussaka was probably back in the late 1970s.  We were living in Iowa, I had one child and we made friends with another couple, Mary and Steve.  My husband and I cooked with them  a lot and produced some pretty awesome weekend meals.  I distinctly remember sitting in their kitchen and consuming lots of Moussaka and huge bowls of Greek salad.  Those were the glory days!

And then I forgot about it.  Moussaka, as good as it is and as much as I love it, requires many steps.  Salting the eggplant, waiting, rinsing, roasting the eggplant.  Roasting the potatoes, chopping fresh vegetables for the sauce.  Grating the cheese, preparing the fresh bread crumbs, finishing with cooking the Bechamel.  Dishes… More dishes. Too many dishes.

When my brother Kal was here a few weeks ago baking Rhubarb Crostata and salted chocolate cookies with me, we made a date to create Moussaka.  I sent him my recipe and we individually made everything but the Bechamel sauce.  He used chicken sausage with mushrooms (his wife doesn’t like red meat) and I used lamb.  The following day we did the final Bechamel at his house and baked our Moussakas and had a taste test.  I do confess that we both agreed this wasn’t a good project to do together since all we really did in tandem was the final Bechamel, but otherwise we’d have been cooking for four hours in one of our houses.  However, we caught up and had fun conversation while the Moussaka baked away.

Me and My Bro!

Me and My Bro!

And what, pray tell, does someone like me – with a healthy appetite, mind you – do with a lasagna pan full of rich Moussaka?  I gave away a couple squares to friends who also love this dish then cut the rest into serving sizes,  each piece enough for two large servings and froze it for later.  At least four meals for two people, essentially.  I’m guessing this won’t last too long in the freezer… it’s just the perfect dinner to reheat when it’s a rainy or cool evening.

Pan FULL of Moussaka

Pan FULL of Moussaka

As much work as this is, I will absolutely make it again before another 40 years pass!  In fact, I’ll make it before too long.  It’s one of my top ten favorite creations for sure. And PS… For those of you who didn’t know me in my younger days, my nickname is Muffy.  HAHA

Muffy’s Moussaka

Serves 10-12

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Vegetable Ingredients
  • 2 Italian eggplants
  • 2 potatoes
Meat Filling Ingredients:
  • 2 brown skinned onions, peeled and chopped ⅓ inch
  • 2 Tbsp Oil
  • 2 Tbsp Butter
  • 2 lbs. ground lamb, beef,turkey or chicken  (I am partial to lamb)
  • ¾ cup red wine (I used vermouth as that is all I had available at the time)
  • 3 medium sized tomatoes, core removed and diced into ½ inch pieces.
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • ¼ cup chopped parsley
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • 1 ½  tsp salt
  • Ground  black pepper
Instructions

Vegetable Preparation

Weighing the two eggplants and two potatoes together you should have about three pounds worth.

Make in a large 9 x 13 inch or bigger lasagne pan that has been coated with olive oil.

Remove about 3 vertical strips of flesh from the eggplants with a peeler and slice the flesh horizontally  into ½” rounds.  Stack in a colander after coating the pieces with about two teaspoons of salt.   Weigh down the eggplant with a plate to put pressure on the slices, and leave one hour.

Meanwhile preheat the oven to 400 degrees with the oven rack in the middle.  Remove the eggplant from the colander and dry each slice with paper towels, squeezing gently.  Place each slice on a  parchment lined cookie sheet at 400 degrees for and bake for 20 minutes per side. (I was able to fit two eggplants worth on one large cookie sheet.)  When you turn it over halfway, loosely cover the sheet with foil to help make it tender.  It softens just fine even without oil.

Peel and  slice the potatoes widthwise, about ⅜ inches each. Dry the potatoes with paper towels and lightly brush the pieces with olive oil on one side.  Bake oiled side up for about a half hour at 400 degrees until the underside is a little golden brown.  You don’t need to flip these over.

Meat Preparation

In a large straight sided sauce pan, heat oil and butter, add onions and cover the pan to sweat the onion, then remove the lid and slowly brown the onion on low heat. This can take a half hour or so.  Remove the onion from the fry pan but don’t clean it out   Increase the heat, add meat to brown it well, and drain the fat if there is any.  ( I had about 1-2 Tbsp from the lamb.)  Add the browned onions and the rest of the listed ingredients in the “Meat Filling Ingredients” list, cover and cook over low heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until liquid is absorbed.   Let it cool off well then add:

  • 2 beaten eggs
  • ¼ cup fresh breadcrumbs
  • ½ cup good quality Parmesano Reggiano cheese

Set aside the meat sauce until it cools and thickens.  The meat sauce isn’t “saucy” but rather thick and resembles a bolognese.

If doing this the day before, layer the Moussaka as follows:

First make a layer of potato, then top with half of the meat sauce.  Spread everything out evenly, trying to cover the potatoes.  Then lay out the eggplant slices atop the meat sauce  and top them with the remaining meat sauce, again spreading the meat evenly.  At this point either pour over the Bechamel sauce or cover and refrigerate the moussaka until the next day.

Bechamel Sauce Ingredients
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 6 Tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp ground pepper
  • Dash freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 cups milk – heated so it is warmish
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup cottage cheese (I whirled this in the food processor so it was smooth like cream cheese)
  • ½ cup grated imported parmesan (I grate this with my microplane grater)
Sauce Instructions

Melt butter over low heat, add flour, salt, pepper and nutmeg and stir for two minutes.  Remove from heat and gradually add warm milk until thick and smooth.  Put back on the stove on low heat.

In a 2 cup measuring cup, beat two eggs.   Add a little of the sauce into the eggs (a half  cup first) and whisk well while adding so the eggs don’t cook and curdle.   Then put this egg/sauce mix back into the pot of remaining sauce and stir constantly.  Heat one minute, stirring.  Add one cup blended cottage cheese and ½ cup grated parmesan  Cool for 10 minutes.   (Taste to see if you need more parmesan.)

Pour Bechamel sauce over the top of the final meat sauce, evening it out with a knife so it covers everything.

Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or  until golden brown. Let rest at least 20 minutes before cutting.  The next day it holds together more easily and tastes even better.

For leftovers – cut into serving sizes and freeze in airtight containers.

PS: You can make this with all eggplant, or with zucchini, eggplant and potato.  Cook’s choice.

 

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Mini Rhubarb Galettes

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Magical Mini Rhubarb Galettes

Magical Mini Rhubarb Galettes

My little brother (a mere 60 year old brother, that is) called me last week and invited himself over to my house so we could bake together.  He specifically wanted to watch me work with pie dough – his nemesis – and asked to make mini rhubarb galettes.  He’d made these before and thought we could split the goods during rhubarb season.  Additionally,  earlier in the week I emailed all my siblings a recipe for a dark chocolate chunk cookies with salt flakes on top – and we both wanted to make this as well.  Sugar and flour and butter — oh my!

What a morning it was…  Kal and I are simpatico in the kitchen.  We both bake often and are thankfully both quick, tidy, and on the same page when it comes to seasoning and estimating quantities–in other words we have fun yet get the job done.  I do, however, have more pie crust experience so I was able to show him a few tricks of the trade.  It turned out that both these projects were way easier with two people – and four hands.  I rolled and cut the dough, he filled and crimped and brushed and we baked and ate and divided.  The cookies were made during the lag time for these pies and it worked out perfectly.  Win win!

I LOVED these little rustic pies.  As pictured, they look a little brown because my farmers market only had green rhubarb, and although it tastes great I prefer the look of red rhubarb for a project like this. (Note: next time I find only green rhubarb I’ll add the peel from a plum or dark red apple to give it a reddish hue).  Adding ginger and dark brown sugar to the rhubarb gave it a complex, deep flavor.  Soooooo good, and a little different  for company.  I always prefer a small, individual dessert rather than something fussy and too rich after a meal. So I’m thrilled to have another perfect accompaniment for spring meals for my guests!

And the aforementioned chocolate chunk cookies?  Let’s just say they were an 11 out of 10.  Look for the recipe and my experience with those soon…

And now, the rhubarb galettes!!

Mini Rhubarb Ginger Rustic Galettes

Servings:  16-18 individual pies

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Dough Ingredients

I always use the same recipe for pies and galettes – which you can find here.

Refrigerate dough for at least an hour so it is pretty cold but not too hard.  I always take the crust out of the fridge a good 15 minutes before I start to roll it.

Filling Ingredients
  • 1 ½ lbs trimmed rhubarb (about 6 cups)
  • A little less than ¾ c dark brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp ginger, grated
  • 2 tsp vanilla
Ingredients to use right before baking
  • 2-3 T whipping cream
  • ¼ cup mixed cinnamon/sugar
Instructions

Make galette filling:

Trim rhubarb stalks and cut them into ½ inch pieces. Add the brown sugar, ginger, and vanilla and stir every few minutes so it brings out the rhubarb juice, about 15 minutes.

Take half the rhubarb out of this bowl and heat it in a saucepan, covering once it starts to simmer.  Let it steam for 5-7 minutes until the rhubarb starts to soften.   Add this hot mixture to the uncooked rhubarb left in the bowl and let everything sit until it is room temperature.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees (or 350 convection if you have that feature) with oven racks in the center of the oven.  Line two cookie sheets with parchment.

Roll out ¼ of the dough and cut into 4-inch diameter circles. Spoon about 1 ½ Tbsp of the rhubarb onto the center of each circular piece of dough.  Fold up and pinch the sides around the rhubarb enough to hold it all in.  Continue until all the rhubarb is used up.  Know that the little pies won’t spread out so they can be within an inch of each other.

Use a pastry brush to swipe the dough edges of each little crostata with cream and sprinkle the edges with a little cinnamon sugar.  Place in the oven for 20-30 minutes until golden brown.

Remove them from the oven and carefully put on a wire rack to cool.  You can also freeze these when cool and re-warm slightly before serving.  Add a dollop of whipping cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream if you feel like indulging!

I am even thinking of freezing a batch of uncooked pies so I can enjoy them after rhubarb season.  And my rhubarb sauce, from now on, will be made with dark brown sugar and fresh grated ginger.

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Rhubarb Custard Dessert

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Rhubarb Custard Dessert ... or "Rhubarb Crack" as it's lovingly known in our family

Rhubarb Custard Dessert … or “Rhubarb Crack” as it’s lovingly known in our family

I love living in my condominium … no huge yard to tend to but just the right amount of room in my planter boxes for herbs and tomatoes.  That said … every spring when I pass by yards featuring huge, wild patches of rhubarb – it gives me pause. And I have to admit – I get a little jealous.  When my daughter and her family lived in Iowa, her office had a massive clump of wild rhubarb growing outside that we would harvest for days on end, creating countless desserts and sauces and salsas.  Those were the days…

From all this rhubarb madness, I became most enamored of today’s recipe – it’s my all time rhubarb dessert prizewinner. I saved a typed copy of this recipe a while ago and cannot for the life of me remember the origin. But I’ve made it several times since, tweaking it here and there (surprise, surprise).  I do know that it originated back in the day before anyone worried about consuming too many eggs and too much butter and such.

Rhubarb Custard Dessert

Serves 10-12

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Crust Ingredients
  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (not plain whole wheat, but whole wheat pastry flour.  It makes a difference)
  • 2/3 cup cold salted butter, cut into ½  inch pieces
  • 1 egg
Rhubarb Filling Ingredients
  • 8 cups rhubarb, cut into 1 inch slices
  • 6 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
Topping Ingredients
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 cup cold salted butter, sliced into 1/2 inch bits
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar  (add a bit more if you like pretty sweet desserts – I do not and this amount is perfect for my tastebuds)
Instructions

Use an 11-inch springform pan or a 9 x 12 cake pan.  I like the looks of pieces cut from the springform pan.

Preheat the oven to 350 with a rack in the middle of the oven.  Grease and flour the bottom and sides of the springform pan. I line the bottom with a round piece of parchment paper to fit, then re-grease and flour the paper.

In a food processor pulse together the two cups flour, and ⅔ cup butter until it looks like sand. Stir in the egg.  Dump all of this into the bottom of your pan and firmly press it on the bottom (and up the sides if you are using the springform.  It doesn’t have to be perfect!)

Put the rhubarb on top of the crust.  It will be pretty full, which is OK since the rhubarb cooks down.

Mix together the remaining six eggs and two cups sugar and pour over the rhubarb.

Pulse the topping ingredients (flour, butter and sugar) in the food processor until crumbly and sprinkle over the rhubarb and custard layer.

Bake mid oven for 70-80 minutes or until topping is browned.  Let it cool completely on the counter then put in the fridge and let it get cold before removing the ring of the springform pan.

This is wonderful if you sneak a nibble right out of the oven, or when barely warm or even cold.  I store this in the refrigerator and it stays nice for a week.  I eat it for breakfast straight up, but if using it as a dessert I always serve this with a scoop of good quality vanilla ice cream or even slightly sweetened whipped cream.

Now go harvest that rhubarb!!

 

 

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Pecan-Crusted Chicken with Arugula Salad

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Pecan-Crusted Chicken, Arugula Salad & Perfect Potatoes

Pecan-Crusted Chicken, Arugula Salad & Perfect Potatoes

I often rack my brain for quick dinner ideas – the kind I can shop for, cook and clean up in a flash.  Better yet, I love inspirational meals that allow me to use food I already have on hand.    And this is how I resurrected this old but wonderful dish for dinner the other night.  The last thing I wanted to do after a full day was to go grocery shopping.  So I was happy to discover that I had two chicken breast halves, some tiny, tri-colored new potatoes from the farmers market, and salad fixings.

I also found some honey mustard dressing tucked away in the fridge – similar to that I posted a while back.  And then the light went off in my brain: make the chicken breasts just a little different!  I don’t often prepare boneless skinless chicken breast; to me they are a little dry and they taste like I something I’d be eating on a low fat diet.  Nope, I prefer chicken thighs if you must know.  It’s too easy to overcook chicken breast.  But here they were, purchased on a 2-for-1 sale and just begging to be made.

This particular recipe was perfect.  I pounded the breasts to an even thickness, dipped them  in an egg wash, coated them with citrus, herbs and finely chopped pecans, then seared them on the stovetop.  The tiny potatoes were coated with olive oil, salt and pepper and roasted at 400 degrees in my toaster oven for 10 -15 minutes.  The simple salad came together in a flash: arugula, tomato, and avocado.  Once coated with the honey mustard dressing, this went in the dish first.  The crunchy chicken breast was sliced on top and potatoes scattered alongside the entire dish.

My husband pronounced it “better than anything you could buy in a restaurant.”  And folks, that means it is a 10!

Pecan-Crusted Chicken with Arugula Salad

Makes two large or four smaller servings

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Chicken Ingredients
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
  • 1 egg
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • ¾ cups finely chopped pecans
  • 1 Tbsp fresh chopped dill
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp ground pepper
  • Zest of one lemon, minced
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
Chicken Instructions

Pound the chicken breasts and cut them into four equal sized pieces.

Beat the egg with two tablespoons water.

Mix together pecans, dill, salt, pepper and lemon zest.

Dip the chicken pieces into the egg mixture and then dredge in pecan mixture.

Once coated, place the chicken pieces on a waxed paper-lined tray and allow the breasts to remain at room temperature for about 20 minutes to set the crust.  After this time you can begin cooking them.

Over a medium high flame, heat a 12-inch deep saute pan, add two tablespoons of olive oil.  When the oil is shimmering, add the chicken breasts and cook for three minutes.  Carefully turn each breast piece over, lower the heat to medium and finish sauteeing the second side for about eight minutes.  Remove to a carving board for five minutes then cut into ½ inch slices.

I usually prepare extra chicken breasts so I can have leftovers the next day to stir into risotto, for sandwiches, or pasta.

Salad Dressing

Makes ~1 cup (you will have a lot left over)

Dressing Ingredients
  • ¼ c honey
  • 3 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp  minced fresh shallots
  • 1 Tbsp cider vinegar
  • Juice of ½ large lemon
  • ½ tsp salt and ⅛ tsp fresh ground pepper
Dressing and Salad Instructions

I put everything for the dressing together and blended it with my stick immersion blender.

For each eater, figure about 1 ½ cups of greens, 1 small tomato and ¼ avocado, cubed.

Use a few tablespoons of the dressing just to barely coat the salad and reserve the rest in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.

Put the dressed salad in the bottom of a shallow bowl or plate.

Top with slices of warm seared chicken breasts over the top, and scatter the warm new potatoes around too.

 

 

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Oatmeal Tehini Cherry Power Bites

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Power Balls! The Perfect Post-Workout Treat.

Power Balls! The Perfect Post-Workout Treat.

I don’t know about you, when I return home following an intense (for me) yoga class or spin class – the kind where your head sweats and you look like a drowned rat when exercise is finished – I am often absolutely famished.   It’s hard for me to come back and take the time to make a proper plate of food. So I recently began taking a couple of these little healthful balls with me for a post workout snack.

I know, some of you love Kind Bars or Larabars…but I do not.  I’m sick of dates and nuts and peanut butter and all the other “binders.”   So yesterday I made it a point to experiment with sesame seed paste, or tehini.

These little balls are simple – it’s just a matter of stirring the ingredients together.  I love that I am able to use tehini and my favorite dried cherries!  Add in old fashioned raw oats and some ground flaxseed – you could also use whole sesame seeds or ground chia seeds or even hemp seeds if you want to be new age.  The point is that now I am invested in packing two of these in my car or bag for those times when I am hungry  post workout and wish to put something in my mouth that tastes good and IS good for me.

Next up I am going to experiment with chocolate tehini, unsweetened coconut flakes and kamut flakes.  Stay tuned!

Oatmeal Tehini Cherry Power Bites

Makes ~ 16-20 balls

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Ingredients
  • 1 ½ cup dry old fashioned oats
  • ¼ cup ground flax seed
  • 1 cup dry tart cherries
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • dash of dry nutmeg
  • dash of sea salt
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1½ -2 Tbsp honey
  • 1 Tbsp oil
  • ½ cup tehini (I love Soom Foods tehini)
Instructions

Add dry oats, flaxseeds, dried cherries and spices to a bowl and mix to distribute evenly.

Mix the the vanilla, honey, and tehini together, combine with  the dry ingredients  and mix to form a dough that you can smash together to form balls.   I usually have to add more tehini to get it to this point.

Form into 1-inch balls, (Pack them tightly so they dot crumble apart) and place on waxed paper inside of a sealed container  and refrigerate for up to eight days.  Each ball will be two or three bites of goodness!

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Fabulous Fish Hash!

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Fresh Fish Hash!

Fresh Fish Hash!

Often I have an idea for a new dish I want to try or a recipe I hope to recreate as I’m enjoying a meal in a restaurant.  Other inspiration comes from blogs and online recipes.  But sometimes I look inside my pantry and refrigerator to see what is on hand … and then I simply begin to cook.

The other morning in Belize I biked to my favorite yoga studio, Zen Arcade, and took a pretty intense “intermediate” yoga class for 75 minutes.  After a 15 minute break and some fruit juice I stayed for a 45-minute Pilates class.  My muscles felt like Jello and I wished I could click my heels and snap my fingers to be three miles North at our house.  But no, I mounted my beach cruiser bike and pedaled back home.  Along the way I stopped, as I do most days,  to pick up fresh, hot, thick corn tortillas from a roadside stand – just 50 cents US for eight!.  And for no reason in particular I started to dream of fish hash.

Fish hash?  Kind of a crazy thought, I know, considering that I have never made or eaten fish hash.  The term hash connotes a  preparation of cooked meat or fish or poultry cut into small pieces and cooked again, often adding potatoes and other vegetables. For dinner the previous night I made fish on the grill and had extra left over… so perhaps I still had the delicious memory of charred fish in my head when I came up with this thought…  Or maybe I was reminded of the conversation Wayne and I had recently – laughing about the amount of food in the house and using this and that; he said “I wonder how long we could survive with just the food here without going to the store?”   Days?  Weeks and weeks?

I got home and rolled up my sleeves…(well, not literally because I was still wearing a sleeveless yoga top.)  But I pulled out red skinned potatoes and scrubbed them…then out came a carrot, some onion, garlic, tomato, red sweet pepper, chili powder, and a little sweet and sour sauce I had made.  I cubed the leftover snapper fish, probably two cups worth.

This dish start to finish took about 20 minutes.  In the middle of my cooking it on the stove, we had an air conditioner repairman come in to help fix the A/C and he said “Oh, somebody is cooking.  It smells good!”  Gotta love that.

Gotta Love a One "Pot" Meal!

Gotta Love a One “Pot” Meal!

We ate this hash for lunch with the fresh warm corn tortillas and a bowl of tropical fruit. Guess what?  I had enough for lunch the following day as well.  And I’m thinking that if I hadn’t had the fish this would be perfect with a poached egg on top, or with cubed cooked yams in place of new potatoes.  Spices could be changed out as well…

Fish Hash

Serves 4

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Ingredients
  • 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ red pepper, diced ½ inch
  • 1 medium size brown skinned onion, diced ¼ inch
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and cut into ⅛ inch rounds
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and slivered
  • 4 red skinned potatoes, cooked (I did this in the microwave for 5 minutes) and cubed into 1-inch pieces (about 2 cups total)
  • 2 cups flaked cooked white fish, bones removed
  • 2 Tbsp sweet and sour sauce or worcestershire or anything you have around
  • 1 large tomato, diced ½ inch
Instructions

Heat a 12-inch saute pan on medium high heat.  Add the oil, then add the onion, garlic, carrot, and sweet pepper and saute for 10 minutes, stirring halfway through. Carrots should be tender.   Add the cubed cooked potatoes and continue sautéing for another five minutes until the potatoes are brown and the onions are crispy.  Finally add the fish flakes, tomato and sauce of your choice.  Stir together, cook another two minutes then remove from the heat.  Taste to see if you need more salt, pepper or seasoning.  Buen provecho!

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Ina – Mine-a Lemon Bread

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Lovely & Luscious Lemon Bread

Lovely & Luscious Lemon Bread

When life hands you lemons, make LEMON BREAD!!!

My mother-in-law lives in Southern California, and has a huge lemon tree growing right outside her kitchen door.  If we’re lucky enough to visit during the winter time, her tree becomes laden with massive, juicy lemons.  I love to make homemade lemonade while visiting there, and when I get ready to pack up and return to Seattle I stuff as many lemons in my carry on bag as I can!

Besides being a chocoholic, I LOVE the taste of lemon … or citrus of any kind, for that matter.  If I cannot have chocolate to satisfy my sweet tooth, the next best thing for me is anything with tart lemon.

Hence this cake, which originates from Ina Garten – aka The Barefoot Contessa.  I call it a loaf because it is baked in a bread pan and sliced like bread.   Many of Ina’s recipes are great but they can be a bit over the top in terms of butter, sour cream and the like.  I actually cut the amount of sugar syrup and sugary lemon glaze with this and I still love the flavors.  Ina likes this with lemon curd and raspberries; I am on board with berries but more lemon curd?  Not for me!

This is easy to make but be forewarned: it takes a lot of pots and pans and dishes!  The recipe that follows is pretty much the same as Ina’s with a few minor changes from yours truly.  I usually gift one loaf or even freeze it then take the bread out and serve this dessert when the spirit moves me.   I continue to be amazed at how perfect this cake is.  Jakey boy says this is one of the best things I make, which is a huge compliment coming from my baby boy.

Ina and Mine-a Lemon Bread

Makes 2 Loaves

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Ingredients
  • 2 sticks salted butter
  • 2 ⅓ cups granulated sugar – divide into 2 cups and ⅓ cup
  • 5 large eggs, room temperature
  • ⅓ cup grated lemon zest (5 to 8  large lemons) – I grate the zest on my microplane grater
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½  teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ~¾ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice – divide 1/4 cup for batter, 1/3 cup for sugar syrup and 3 Tbsp for glaze
  • ¾ cup buttermilk (room temperature)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Glaze Ingredients
  • 1 ½  cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice (from the original ¾ cup you squeezed)
Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350ºF and place the baking rack in the center of the oven. Grease two 8 ½ x 4 ½ inch x 2 ½ inch bread pans.  Cut parchment paper to fit the bottom of the pans and press onto the bottoms, then I always grease the top of the parchment too. Truth be told, I use Pam for this task.

Using a hand mixer or stand mixer, cream the butter and two cups granulated sugar on medium high speed for about 5 minutes or until light and fluffy. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs, one at a time, and the lemon zest.

Stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl. In a one cup glass pyrex measuring cup combine ¼ cup lemon juice, the buttermilk and vanilla. Add the flour mixture and buttermilk mixture alternately to the batter, beginning and ending with the flour. Divide the batter evenly between the two pans, smooth the tops with a kitchen knife, and bake for 45 minutes to an hour, until a cake tester comes out clean. (My loaves took 45 minutes.)

Combine ⅓ cup granulated sugar with ⅓ cup lemon juice in a small saucepan and cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves and makes a syrup. When the cakes are done, let them cool for 10 minutes, shake them gently to loosen the sides and invert them, top side up, onto a rack set over parchment paper.  If they don’t easily release from the bread pans, run a knife around the edges.  Poke the top of the loaves all over with a toothpick and brush the lemon syrup over the cakes. Allow time for the syrup to absorb so you use all the sugar syrup.  Allow the cakes to cool completely.

For the glaze, combine the powdered sugar and lemon juice in a bowl, mixing with a wire whisk until smooth. Slowly pour over the top of the cooled cakes and allow the glaze to drizzle down the sides. I always smooth the topping all over too. Again you have to go slowly to use all the mixture although some will drip off the cake and onto the parchment.  Let the glaze harden, (I refrigerate the cakes for a few minutes to help it along) wrap the loaves in foil and freeze one loaf or gift it to someone very special!

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Nachos Grande

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Nachos For Everyone!

Nachos For Everyone!

OK people… a short while ago I posted a picture from Belize of our dinner – nachos grande.  Several of you wrote and wanted the recipe.  Recipe?  Really?!?  You actually asked me to quantify this?

Of course, I did.  Making nachos is like making a pizza, except the bottom layer is made from local, freshly baked tortilla chips instead of dough.  Here is what we did:

Nachos Grande

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Line a rimmed cookie sheet with foil and turn on the broiler.

Layer in the following order:

  • Tortilla chips to cover the bottom – pile them on so there is almost a double layer
  • 1 ⅓  cups drained but cooked black beans
  • 2 small ripe tomatoes, diced
  • ⅓ cup diced sweet pickles
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 ½ cups raw chicken sausage (taken out of the casings, torn into ¼ inch pieces)
  • ¼ cup grated Edam cheese
  • Hot (picante) sauce

Put the assembled tray of ingredients (except hot sauce) under a broiler in the oven just until the cheese is melted and the meat is cooked.

After it is cooked, I add about ½ tsp very hot (picante) sauce such as Marie Sharps – shake evenly over top

Enjoy!

Note: you can use ground beef in place of chicken sausage, add black olives, sauteed onion…let your imagination go wild.

Leftovers can be warmed on foil in the toaster oven at 400 degrees for 10 minutes and are darned good!

 

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