Thursday, December 31, 2009

Top Ten of Green and Lean '09

I love year end countdown lists! So, it’s only fair that I provide my own retrospective on my year-long blog challenge. Back in January, I started this blog as a diary that I could use for my own inspiration and motivation to eat healthier. I kept the web address “hidden” from search engines and didn’t tell anyone about it for quite awhile. But, I cracked and told Cassandra about it so we’d have things to share over the distance of MN to NY. She was so encouraging about this silly blog that I slowly started letting others read my posts. I was a little scared and embarrassed that my brainless musings would be available to the world on the Internet, but I’ve had such positive feedback that I’ve gotten over it.

Thank you to every one of you who has read any of these posts over the past year. Special thanks to those of you who have left a comment! You have no idea how energizing it is when there are comments on my posts! And a million zillion thank yous if you were inspired by any of my posts and went to your kitchen to make something green and lean of your own!

I will spare you a lot of talk about the benefits of eating real and unprocessed food (if you’ve been reading for awhile, you’ve heard it all before anyways!). I will, however, say that in the past year I have lost a significant amount of weight, lowered my glucose and blood pressure, and increased my “good” cholesterol. These improvements in my health have not come by depriving myself. In fact, I’ve eaten more delicious food in the past year than I ever have in my life.

I don’t know how much I will continue to blog in 2010. I do enjoy trying new recipes so there may be a new post from time to time. Perhaps the blog will evolve into something new. Who knows? All I know for sure is that I will continue the healthy habits I started in 2009.

To get 2010 started on an inspirational note, here are my top ten favorite posts of 2009:

10. Mustard Dill Fish – a simple and elegant main dish perfect for entertaining. Another great fish entrée is Salmon with Smashed Peas.

9. Hippie Chow – a complete meal made a million different ways. See also the Mexi-version.

8. Fish Tacos – my favorite summertime meal to serve to a crowd

7. Roasted Mushroom and Tomato Sandwich with Goat Cheese – I just discovered this incredible combination of ingredients and I can’t get enough. It’s also fabulous on pizza or salad.

6. Seared Tuna Salad with Spicy Asian Dressing – the dressing is amazing and would work on a simple cabbage salad, or with canned tuna, or even grilled chicken.

5. Split Pea Soup – probably the cheapest recipe on the blog and still one of my favorite winter lunches. Very filling and super healthy!

4. Egg Baked in a Tomato – one of my fancier posts. It’s deceptively simple but looks so impressive!

3. Olive Oil Granola – a great way to start your day with whole grains. I also recommend these other breakfast recipes: Yogurt, Larabars, Oatmeal, and Chocolate Peanut Granola.

2. Grilled Vegetable Frittata – I love frittatas so much, I posted about them three times! Check out versions 1 and 2 also.

1. Kale and Egg on Toast – it was my first post and continues to be my absolute favorite meal of all time (preferably accompanied by red wine and followed by dark chocolate). I could happily eat this a few times a week for the rest of my life.

Thanks again for following my 2009 real food challenge! I wish you all a very happy and healthy 2010!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Food Blogs

If you are like me then you enjoy reading food blogs. I just found a super cool website that lists hundreds of them! Bookmark this and surf away this weekend if you have some free time!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Homemade Barbecue Sauce

Yesterday I had the most fabulous two-hour lunch with the Jones girls and Angela at the French Meadow. We shared a crisp bottle of Sauvignon Blanc in the middle of a Monday afternoon and ate some delicious food. Libby ordered the BBQ Tempeh Wrap and it looked so good, I knew I wanted to try making it myself.

So I invited Alicia over for dinner tonight so I could experiment (she's always such a willing guinea pig!). I found a great homemade barbecue sauce recipe from the Smitten Kitchen (who originally got it from the Barefoot Contessa). The recipe makes SIX CUPS of sauce, which I thought was ridiculous so I only made 1/4 of a recipe.

Then I wanted to put in some yummy tempeh but can you believe that Kowalski's doesn't have tempeh? Yeah, I couldn't believe it either. So we had grilled chicken instead.

Also in the wrap: cooked quinoa, sliced red onion, cheddar cheese, fresh spinach, and pepperoncinis. All the same things on the French Meadow version (except they use brown rice instead of quinoa). On the side, sweet potatoes cut into matchsticks and roasted at 500 degrees in the oven.

It tasted like bar food or fast food, but was totally healthy!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas Colors Casserole

I know it's a dumb title, and it's not even really a casserole! But what else do you title a one-skillet meal like this other than just listing all the ingredients? I could have called it Sausage, Kale, Beans, and Tomatoes. But that's so boring you'd fall asleep before you get through the whole title.

I used vegetarian sausage (Tofurky brand Italian style) but you can use real meat or omit it totally. There's plenty of protein with the beans so the sausage is really not necessary - but this week who cares about what is necessary? This tastes really good, and it's quite healthy so that's all that matters. And what a great way to remind yourself that you don't have to wait until next week to begin your healthy can start now and not feel like you are giving up anything delicious!

Christmas Colors Casserole
Vegetarian sausage, sliced
1 bunch tuscan kale, stems removed and chopped
1 can white beans, drained
1 can diced tomatoes (I used leftover spicy tomatoes from yesterday's baked shrimp and tomatoes, or you could totally use leftover frozen roasted tomatoes from last fall)

In a nonstick skillet, heat the sausage until it browns, add the kale, beans, and tomatoes and some salt and pepper. Cover and cook for a few minutes until kale wilts.

Ho ho ho!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Baked Shrimp with Tomatoes and Feta

Well, this was an interesting Christmas! I expect many of you also had your plans changed at the last minute due to the horrible and terrifying storm that was predicted. While we got lots of snow "up north" near Fergus Falls, we certainly didn't get the storm of the century. Nevertheless, we cancelled our traditional Christmas plans and had a makeshift Christmas.

Instead of my grandma's usual spare ribs (ick!) and lutefisk (double ick!) we feasted on leftover chicken enchiladas on Christmas Eve. Dinner was followed by a rousing few hours of Beatles Rockband. While not technically the night we had planned, it was a lot of fun!

Now it's back to regular life in Minneapolis and Sunday night dinner. Tonight's theme is "Going Greek!" This recipe was originally from Ellie Krieger but I spiced it up considerably.

Baked Shrimp with Tomatoes and Feta (adapted from Ellie Krieger)
1 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, salt and pepper
1 big handful kalamata olives, chopped
2 cans diced tomatoes with basil and garlic
1 pound raw shrimp, thawed
feta cheese, crumbled
orzo, cooked

In a large skillet, heat some olive oil and add the onion, crushed red pepper, salt and black pepper. Cook a few minutes until soft. Add garlic and cook 1 minute more. Add a splash of good red wine. Add 2 cans of diced tomatoes with the juices. Cook 5-10 minutes or until liquid dissolves. Add olives and shrimp. Top with crumbled feta and put skillet in 425 degree oven for 12 minutes.

Serve over cooked orzo.

On the side, I had a romaine salad with raw red onions and craisins. The dressing was red wine vinegar, olive oil, and dried oregano.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Creamed Mushroom and Artichoke Pasta

Dear Macy's Department Store:
It's not you, it's me. We've had a special 5 weeks together. I really like my new wardrobe that was purchased over 50% off with all the sales and my employee discount. But I need some space to focus on myself and have a little more "me" time. So, it's time to say goodbye. I hope you find happiness with another seasonal employee soon.

Sorry for the serious drought of posts this month. As you can tell, my free time has been non-existent. When I have worked my day job, then gone to Macy's for a closing shift, I've been packing 2 lunches (note: leftover Green and Lean Loaf on wheat bread with ketchup is excellent!). It's certainly a healthy way to eat, but I miss cooking and hot food!

Hot, comforting, tasty food accompanied by a glass of red wine is exactly what I made tonight. And it was good, like lick your plate good (of course I would NEVER do that, and even if I did I wouldn't admit it). The recipe contains cream, butter, and cheese so I'm sure the calorie and fat count is higher than the normal recipe on this blog....however (!) everything is OK in moderation and with a big pile of greens on the side this is a great dinner.

Smitten Kitchen came through again with a killer recipe and I tried to copy it with just a few tweaks. Here is how I did it.

Creamed Mushroom and Artichoke Pasta
Olive oil and butter
3 large shallots, diced
1 package crimini mushrooms, chopped fine
1/2 cup Marsala wine
3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup cream
1 can artichokes, drained and chopped
2-3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper
1/2 lb whole wheat pasta

Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil and a pat of butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add chopped shallot and cook until soft, 2-5 minutes. Add mushrooms and 1 tsp salt and cook until moisture evaporates. Add Marsala wine and cook until moisture evaporates. (Cook your pasta to al dente in the meantime).

Add cooked pasta to skillet, add artichokes, parmesan cheese, cream, balsamic vinegar and a few grinds of pepper. Cook until heated through - sauce will thicken upon standing.

Serve with a field green salad and red wine.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Green and Lean Loaf

I wasn't kidding about being uninspired in the kitchen - I've been begging everyone I meet to tell me what they've been eating lately. It's fascinating for me to ask people what they had for dinner last night! If they answer honestly, you get a peek into their lives. And aside from that, I'm hoping to find an answer that will give me that good old excited feeling that makes me want to cook new recipes.

I should have known to ask one of my 3 ultra creative friends (Cass, Colin, or Terrin) for inspiration. This time it was T who (over a bottle of fabulous pink prosecco at Barbette) said, "You should make a really good veggie loaf." How had I never ever considered this? Pure genius! It's PERFECT for Green and Lean...healthy and unfussy.

Only problem? None of the veggie loaf recipes I could find online were veggie enough for me. Most contained only lentils, brown rice, mushrooms, or all three. That sounded awfully brown and ugly. I want green in my Green and Lean Loaf! So this recipe is entirely made up by me with lots of added veggies and it turned out AMAZING, if I do say so myself.

Although it's been over 12 years since I've eaten red meat, one bite instantly reminded me of eating my mom's meatloaf because my version has all the same good qualities. It's comforting, earthy, and filling - but without the animal fat. I kept the flavors mostly Italian, with dried basil and a parmesan cheese crust on top.

I'm sure this would be good with traditional ketchup or barbecue sauce but I didn't need it. Maybe that will be added to leftover Green and Lean Loaf sandwiches (although I think mayo mixed with sriracha sauce would also be great on this!). I ate it tonight plain with roasted parsnips.

As usual, I didn't measure so the recipe below contains approximations. It's difficult to screw up if you add good-tasting ingredients though. Just make sure there is enough egg to make it bind together.

Green and Lean Loaf
Cooked veggies (I had leftover roasted broccoli, cauliflower, and mushrooms), chopped finely
Cooked greens (I had leftover sauteed kale)
1/4 yellow onion, diced finely
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large carrot, peeled and grated
Cooked lentils (boil 1 cup French lentils in 4 cups water for 45 minutes)
1/2 cup cooked quinoa (or brown rice, if you prefer)
1/2 cup oats (or breadcrumbs, but I didn't have any)
1/4 cup finely shredded parmesan cheese, plus another 1/4 cup for topping
4 eggs
1 tsp worcestershire sauce
1 tsp dried (or even better, fresh) basil
salt and pepper

Mix all ingredients in a big bowl and pack into a greased loaf pan. Top with a layer of parmesan cheese, cover with tinfoil and bake for 35 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove foil and bake another 10-15 minutes or until top is browned. Let cool at least 5 minutes before slicing and serving.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

More Vegetable Than Egg Frittata

Eleven months of blogging down, one to go! And this one is proving to be tough. There isn't a whole lot of culinary inspiration in fresh local veggies right now, and all the food magazines, tv shows, and websites are focusing on holiday cookies.

So, I have been eating a bunch of frozen leftovers - soups, squash, roasted tomatoes, etc. Tonight I roasted a bunch of veggies including beets to make Beet and Goat Cheese Salads for lunches this week. And I'll be making Split Pea Soup again tomorrow to satisfy a craving. These are not blog-worthy meals anymore...been there, done that! So I'm apologizing in advance if December is a bit light on blog posts. If any readers out there have inspiration for me, please send ideas my way! Either I'm winding down on this blog, or it's just another temporary dip on the ups and downs of cooking ideas.

I had my mom in town this weekend for our annual holiday show. We saw In The Heights and enjoyed it! And we ate out a lot. At non-healthy "restaurants" (using that term loosely here) where it is impossible to get anything green other than a wilty piece of lettuce on a burger. So tonight it was time to pack in the veggies and I took a page out of Mark Bittman's book for the More Vegetable Than Egg Frittata.

Usually when I make frittatas, I use 4-6 eggs for a pan this size. This one has only 2 eggs plus 1 egg white and a splash of water. And I think it would serve 3-4 hungry people.

First I roasted broccoli, cauliflower, parsnips, and mushrooms in a 450 degree oven until browned. Then I sauteed a half a yellow onion and a bunch of kale in a nonstick skillet. Add a TON of the roasted veggies to the skillet with the kale and onion. Then add your egg and water mixture, salt and pepper. Then I topped it with a little bit of finely shredded sharp Wisconsin cheddar cheese. Cook on stovetop until the eggs start to set then put in a hot oven to finish cooking and brown the cheese.

Shown here with the frittata is that effing delicious and amazing White Salad that is quickly becoming my favorite side dish.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Raw Brussels Sprouts Salad and Cranberry-Infused Vodka

I know this is what we are all craving post-Thanksgiving with too much rich food in our bellies. I know I was ready for some clean crisp green veggies to detox. And I've had this recipe bookmarked for quite awhile but just never got around to making it so now seemed like the perfect time.

The Brussels sprouts are RAW in this salad, which seemed weird to me at first, but when you think about it, it makes sense. Brussels sprouts are just baby cabbages so this is very comparable to a light cabbage salad or cole slaw.

It's great the next day, too. The sprouts stay crunchy and the lemon juice works its way in there to meld with the parm and the result is a very healthy and satisfying veggie dish. I followed this recipe nearly exactly, just substituting toasted hazelnuts for the walnuts.

To go with the sprout salad, I bought a pre-made 6-grain pizza crust, spread on it a layer of homemade pesto, and added cherry tomatoes and mushrooms that I had roasted and frozen in September. Topped with crumbled goat cheese and parmesan and baked for 10-12 minutes....heaven.

Finally, I was inspired by the cranberry-infused vodka on The Heavy Table so I had to try it. My friends know that if there is one thing I love to make, it's moonshine! I love making infused vodkas, kaluha, irish cream, etc. This one looks so pretty and it's currently marinating for upcoming holiday celebrations. I think it will go smashingly with some prosecco for a festive holiday drink.

However, there are just too many things wrong with the recipe on The Heavy Table website...first, they use the word DETHAWED wich I seriously hate. Second, they say to process the cranberries for 2 minutes in a food processor...that is a long time and I think you would end up with cranberry soup if you did that. Finally, it only calls for 3 cups of vodka and what seems like way too much sugar (2 cups). So, I scrapped their whole recipe and made up my own. I'll let you know in a few weeks if it worked in my favor or not!

Cranberry-Infused Vodka
1 liter vodka
1 package fresh cranberries
1 cup sugar
1 cup water

Mix sugar and water in saucepan over medium heat until dissolved.
Pulse cranberries in food processor briefly until chopped.
Mix all together and let sit for a few weeks, stirring occasionally.

Serve with tonic, soda, prosecco, on the rocks, or up in a martini glass.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Leftover Cranberry Sauce Oat Muffins

Not everything I make turns out perfectly. I'm just a regular person who tries recipes here and there, sometimes they work and sometimes they don't. This is an example of one that didn't turn out perfectly but I liked the flavors and idea so much that I'm going to post about it anyways.

I already gave you a great idea for using your Thanksgiving leftovers, but I also get lots of leftover cranberry sauce. My grandma makes the cranberry sauce every year and lets me take home the leftovers. I usually make a KILLER salad dressing out of it (cranberry sauce, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil) which goes great with greens, feta cheese, and toasted walnuts.

This year I saw a recipe on the Serious Eats website for Cranberry Oat Muffins and I wanted to try it.

I think my downfall here was substitutions. Olive oil for vegetable oil, oat flour for regular flour, soy milk for regular milk. I'm just so impatient that I didn't go to the store to get the right ingredients and I used what I had on hand. The resulting muffins tasted great, BUT fell apart and crumbled. I got the first one out of the pan to take a picture but the rest were kind of messy.

I would love to try this recipe again with the appropriate ingredients, and I would also add some walnuts or pecans. Luckily, I was able to wrangle Grandma Verna's cranberry sauce recipe out of her so I can make my own and try this again!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thanksgiving Shepherd's Pie

Sure, turkey sandwiches and turkey soup are great. But year after year, I get bored with those traditional leftovers.

So this is what my family has done for several years with our Thanksgiving leftovers. It's so simple and freezable and you'll appreciate this piping hot from your oven in the bleak days of mid-January. It's a shepherd's pie, of sorts. Just a pie crust with layers of your leftover Thanksgiving dinner and topped with all those leftover mashed potatoes.

We use a store-bought pie crust (which are always on sale at this time of year anyways) but if you have lots of stuffing/dressing leftover, I think you could press that into the bottom of the pan and use that as your crust! The only other new ingredient you need - and this is entirely optional - is a bag of frozen mixed vegetables. I like the extra color in there.

So, here is how we do it: put your store bought thawed pie crust in the bottom of a pie plate. Layer a bit of leftover stuffing/dressing, diced leftover turkey, and some frozen mixed veggies. Pour leftover gravy over the layers. Top with mashed potatoes. Cut off the edges of the crust and press around the pan with a fork or make pretty edges. Sprinkle with some paprika for color and freeze until you are ready to eat more turkey. Then when that day comes, just throw it in the oven until it's hot.

It's kind of like a store-bought pot-pie, but this is made with real ingredients and love from scratch by your mom (or whomever makes your Thanksgiving feast). It's also a fabulous thing to send with your college-aged kid back to his apartment, or to give to a young couple with a 2-year old and another on the way, or to your octogenarian grandparents. Everyone loves a simple one-dish meal that they just have to throw in the oven to get dinner on the table!

And you won't get bored with turkey sandwiches ever again!

Note: I'm sure you noticed the photos are better than usual. They are courtesy of Nick and Kim Fosse and Kim's fancy new camera.

Friday, November 27, 2009

My Favorite Snack - Peanut Butter Yogurt

If you need a snack but want something that doesn't pack a bunch of empty calories, this is the thing for you. I like to have this on nights I'm craving ice cream but don't want all that fat, sugar or artificial flavorings.

It doesn't look pretty, but it tastes great!

Here's how you do it: start with one small spoonful of peanut butter (I use Earth Balance chunky) and put it in the microwave for 20-30 seconds or until it's swirlable. Add 3 big scoops of thick and creamy greek yogurt and mix together.

Now, there are a bunch of directions you can go from here, but I usually stick to just two different routes. One - add chocolate chips for a PB/Choc Yogurt snack. Or, two (as seen here) a squirt of honey and a sprinkling of sunflower seeds.

This is a decadent treat that's got protein, good fats, calcium, and a hint of sweetness. It's substantial so you'll get filled up and feel totally satisfied. You'll have no guilty regrets after enjoying this snack!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Apple Salsa with Cinnamon Chips

This is my contribution to the Thanksgiving day meal (well, this and a bunch of wine). I can't decide if it's an appetizer or a dessert...could easily be either one, but I'm going with appetizer. It will be nice to have something cold, crunchy, and relatively healthy before all that hot mushy food.

The original recipe is from Pampered Chef, I think. A co-worker brought it for a potluck at work a few years ago and I thought it was great! The chips are supposed to be made from flour tortillas but I had some wonton wrappers left in the fridge so I substituted them AND I used leaf-shaped cookie cutters to crank up the cuteness factor.

Apple Salsa with Cinnamon Chips (adapted from the Pampered Chef)
2 granny smith apples, peeled, cored, chopped
1 kiwi, peeled and chopped
1 cup strawberries, chopped
zest and juice of 1 medium orange
2 T. brown sugar
2 T. apple jelly (I used orange marmalade)

Mix all together.

For the chips, brush tortillas or wonton wrappers with water and sprinkle with a mixture of cinnamon and sugar. If you're feeling fancy, use cookie cutters to make your chips into an adorable shape (snowflakes, leaves, etc). Bake at 300 degrees for 5-10 minutes or until golden brown.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Minnesota Vikings Soup

This is a “clean out your refrigerator” soup for those times when you’ll be gone for a few days and need to use up your produce. I essentially threw every vegetable I could find in my house into this soup. I could have called it Rainbow Soup, but I didn't add anything red. That could be easily remedied by adding some canned or frozen tomatoes.

So Rainbow Soup would have been a fun title, but after adding a half of a small purple cabbage, everything was dyed a beautiful shade of MN Vikings Purple. And why not celebrate a team that keeps on winning games? It's kind of fun to have a winning team! That Favre guy seems to know what he’s doing.

The next day, the purple soup will have become even more shockingly bright and will have dyed all your pretty veggies and beans (everything but the kale) indigo. You will scare your co-workers when you heat this up at the communal microwave. Just a warning.

Minnesota Vikings Soup (aka Rainbow Soup, aka Everything But the Kitchen Sink Soup)
½ yellow onion, diced
2-3 orange carrots, peeled and diced
2-3 yellow carrots, peeled and diced
1 parsnip, peeled and diced
1 medium Yukon gold potato, diced
2 ribs celery, diced
2 bay leaves
6 cups water and bouillon cubes or stock
½ small head of purple (or green) cabbage, chopped
1 bunch kale or chard, removed from stem and chopped
1 can white beans, drained and rinsed
freshly grated parmesan cheese

In a big soup pot, heat some olive oil and add the onion, carrots, parsnip, potato and celery. Add bay leaves and salt and pepper to taste. Cook until veggies are soft, about 10-15 minutes.

Add water and bouillon cubes (or stock) and bring to a boil. Add chopped cabbage and kale and beans. Cover and simmer another 10-15 minutes. Serve topped with freshly grated parmesan cheese.

Note: In hindsight, the name of this soup may be a bit insulting since the purple cabbage was a gift from my Packer-fan friend Sarah! Though I did include cheese in the recipe to appease her and any other Wisconsonites out there.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Quinoa Stuffed Squash

I have already shown you one stuffed squash recipe, sort of. That one was for Roasted Corn Pudding in Acorn Squash, back in September. When Sarah gave me a cute little festival squash from her Harmony Valley Farms CSA, I knew I had to do another stuffed squash because it was so darn cute - orange and yellow stripes - that it looks pretty on a plate as a serving vessel.

This time, I cooked up my usual red quinoa, added toasted hazelnuts and chopped craisins. A little scallion for color and crunch and some crumbled goat cheese also go well with these flavors. The final squash half was very filling (I couldn't even eat half of the squash half).


Quinoa Stuffed Squash
1 small squash (I had a festival or carnival squash)
1 cup quinoa, cooked
1 handful toasted hazelnuts or other nut, chopped
1 handful chopped dried and sweetened cranberries
2 scallions, chopped
a hunk of goat cheese, crumbled
splash of balsamic vinegar
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

Carefully cut squash in half, remove seeds and goop. Coat with olive oil, salt, and pepper and roast - cut side down - in a 400 degree oven for about 30 minutes or until soft.

Mix quinoa, nuts, craisins, scallions, and goat cheese in a small bowl. Add a splash of balsamic vinegar and a drizzle of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Add mixture to center well of cooked squash and return to the oven to heat through. Top with a dusting of freshly grated parmesan cheese before serving.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Roasted Root Veggies and Fish

It has been one hell of a week! Lots of time spent in the office - 7am meetings, 9pm meetings, and everything in between. On top of all that, I decided to get a second job for the holidays at Macy's. That's right, a big fat twenty percent discount is MINE!

I was thankful this past week even with the crazy schedule to be able to eat delicious leftovers....I cannot stress enough how much in love I am with reheated Kale and Chard Panade with a poached egg on top. Seriously, it's divine. But the panade is long gone so it's time for a new recipe.

I found the recipe for Roasted Root Veggies and Fish in the awesome (and free) magazine Real Food, which you can pick up at Lund's and Byerly's stores in the Twin Cities. The magazine is fabulous - edited by Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl, who is hands down the BEST local food writer (or even just writer). I first became a fan of her weekly restaurant reviews in City Pages, then followed her to Minnesota Monthly. She has taken the Real Food magazine to a new level and it's amazing that you can get it for free when it's packed full of great recipes, photos, and articles.

Anyways, I changed this recipe a bit based on my tastes and budget (omitting the potato, substituting salmon for the halibut). The hardest thing (and it's not hard at all) is cutting all the root vegetables into a 1/4 inch dice. Then you let your oven do the rest of the work! Here's a pic of the veggies pre-roasting.

And, once again I'm fortunate to be on the receiving end of a very generous friend with extra fresh and local produce. Sarah showed me the most carrots I've ever seen in one place in my life (all in her fridge), which is why she gave me some orange and yellow carrots, turnips, and onion from her winter CSA share. All of those made it into this dish! The end result is colorful, healthy, and very delicious!

Roasted Root Veggies and Fish (adapted from Real Food magazine)
4 roma tomatoes, diced
1 large parsnip, peeled and diced
3 large carrots, peeled and diced (I used a mix of orange and yellow)
1 medium turnip, peeled and diced
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 garlic clove, diced
olive oil, salt, pepper, thyme
4 boneless/skinless fish filets (halibut, salmon, mahi mahi, or any mild flavored fish)
lemon wedges

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Put all the diced veggies on a sheet pan, add a healthy drizzle of olive oil, sprinkle with salt, pepper, and thyme (I used dried instead of fresh). Roast for 35 minutes or until the veggies are soft.

Season the fish with olive oil, salt, pepper, and more thyme. Clear a spot in the middle of the pan for the fish and spoon some of the veggies on top. Crank up the oven to 450 degrees and roast the fish and veggies for 15 minutes or until fish is done.

Finish with a squirt of fresh lemon juice and serve immediately.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Kale and Chard Panade

My kitchen smells ridiculously amazing right now. Try to imagine the aroma of slowly cooked and caramelized onions, the best quality gruyere cheese, a mixture of lightly wilted kale and chard, and toasty cubes of bread from Rustica bakery....if you look up "comfort food" in the food dictionary, you should find this recipe.

This recipe is taken directly from Orangette (read Molly's post on soggy bread, it's great!). Just know if you want to make this, read all the instructions first or you may be surprised to find it takes about 2 hours from start to finish (at least 1/2 hour for the onions to caramelize, and another 1 1/2 hours to bake the panade). The only thing I changed about the original recipe was to use 1 bunch of chard and 1 bunch of dino kale. And, if making again, I would reduce the amount of garlic by half.

This fancy casserole is another great way to add more kale into your diet!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Honey Apple Oat Cake

Just reading the title is tasty, right? I found the recipe for this cake in Cooking Light last year and it was one of those things I liked so much I ate one piece and threw the rest in the garbage so I wouldn't eat too much of it (I do that to Doritos if they're anywhere in my vicinity, too - but I have to crush them first otherwise I probably would dig them out of the garbage later.). I finally figured out that sweets are something you should give away, not throw away, if you don't want to eat the whole batch.

Anyways, this is a fabulous cake to make on a crisp November evening to share with two lovely friends and a bottle of chilled prosecco after a wine tasting at your new neighborhood wine shop.

The cake ends up super moist from the honey and applesauce. There's no oil at all in the recipe which cuts down on the fat. There's quite a bit of sugar, but only a scant 1/4 cup butter for the whole cake. Cooking Light says that 1 serving is only 255 calories and 5.4 grams of fat - not bad! Plus it has 3.4 grams of protein and 1.5 grams of fiber. I think this counts as a Green and Lean recipe for sure! I can also verify that a small piece goes perfectly with a hot mug of black coffee for breakfast!

Honey Apple Oat Cake (from Cooking Light)
1 cup quick-cooking oats (I used regular oats and it worked just fine)
1 cup hot water
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (I used whole wheat flour and it worked just fine)
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/3 cups brown sugar
3/4 cup applesauce
1/3 cup honey
2 large eggs

1/4 cup butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted

Mix oats and water and set aside. Mix dry ingredients (flour, cinnamon, soda, salt). In separate bowl, beat sugar, applesauce, honey, and eggs with hand mixer for 1 minute. Add the oat/water mixture and dry ingredients a little at a time until fully mixed. Pour into greased cake pan and bake at 350 degrees for 48 minutes (my cake was done after only about 30 minutes) or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.

Mix topping ingredients in small saucepan and cook until bubbly. Quickly pour over cake and broil for 1 minute until top is bubbly and golden.

If you're feeling decadent, top with freshly made sweetened whipped cream.

Give a majority of the remaining cake to your friends to take home to their husbands and/or sister and kid.

Friday, November 13, 2009

White Salad

OK, the last post was for a perfect Thanksgiving side dish or salad, this one is perfect for your Christmas table! First of all, the colors...white, white, white, a tiny punch of red, and maybe a bit of green if you add some parsley. Beautiful. And the flavors are so fresh and clean to balance out all the other heavy holiday fare.

You must include this salad in your holiday food rotation, or just winter lunches. It's light and crunchy - two adjectives that aren't usually used to describe winter food. I loved it. As usual, my photos are nothing compared to the original post on Not Without Salt (check out the link below for the pretty pictures!)

Winter White Salad (from Not Without Salt)
1/4 celery root, peeled and sliced thin
1 pink lady apple (leave skin on for a splash of bright red color in the salad), julienned or sliced into matchsticks
1 bulb fennel, sliced thin
1 leek, white parts only, sliced into rings
1/4 cup creme fraiche
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
a couple parsley leaves for garnish and color

Mix ingredients together and enjoy!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Thanksgiving Wild Rice Salad

I've never been a big fan of the Thanksgiving meal because it seems like all the food is just hot and mushy. My favorite things on Thanksgiving day are the lefse with butter and sugar, my grandma's cranberry sauce, and Boujolais Nouveau. I compensate for my distaste of potatoes and turkey and stuffing with extra quantities of "The Booj" as my bro Nick calls it.

However, if this salad were served at Thanksgiving I would have a new favorite side dish. Unfortunately, the crowd that gathers at my T-Day celebration isn't much receptive to anything that breaks with tradition. So, I adapted this side dish into a main course entree that I will enjoy all next week for lunch. If your Turkey Day crowd can handle it, I highly recommend omitting the chicken and adding this beautiful and tasty dish to your feast. It's got great crunch from the celery and sweetness from the craisins. The best part is that it's totally lean, no mayo at all - just yogurt or buttermilk to make the tangy and creamy lemony dressing.

Thanksgiving Wild Rice Salad (adapted from the New York Times)
1 quart water
1 cup wild rice
salt to taste
1/2 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup sweetened dried cranberries, chopped
1-2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cooked and chopped (optional - use only if serving as a main dish)
3-4 celery stalks, sliced thin
handful chopped flat leaf parsley

Bring the water to a boil, add salt to taste and wild rice. Lower heat, cover and simmer 40 minutes. Drain and toss with the other ingredients.

1/2 lemon, juiced and zested
2 tsp red wine vinegar
1 small garlic clove, grated on a microplane
salt and pepper to taste
6 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp buttermilk or plain yogurt (I used yogurt)

Whisk dressing ingredients together and toss with wild rice mixture. Add more salt or pepper to taste.

I assume this would go fabulously with a couple bottles of "The Booj."

NOTE: I want to let you know this is one of those salads that get BETTER after sitting in the fridge overnight. The lemon flavor intensifies and settles into the rice to make it a party on your tongue.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Spicy Black Bean Tostadas

I love fall and winter food, really. But after weeks of eating lots of leftover roasted veggies and soups, my stomach was screaming for something to wake it up. I need spice and I need it now.

This post was my inspiration for my dinner. I thought black beans and feta was such an odd combination, but it really works! I did mix it up a little bit based on what ingredients I was craving (i.e. adding chipotle peppers for SPICE!).

First, I made the slaw and let it sit for a few minutes to let the flavors meld. Then I sauteed a half an onion and added a chipotle pepper and teaspoon of the adobo sauce. I added the beans and smooshed it all together to make a yummy spicy black bean mash. Put together on a corn tortilla with fresh avocado and some feta stomach was definitely awoken!

Spicy Black Bean Tostadas
shredded cabbage or slaw mix
1 lime, juice and zest
1 leek, white parts only
cilantro, chopped
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 chipotle pepper, chopped
1 tsp adobo sauce from chipotles
1 tsp cumin
1 can black beans, drained
corn tortillas
feta cheese

Make the slaw - mix cabbage, lime juice and zest, leek, cilantro, and salt and pepper - and let it sit for 10-15 minutes to let the flavors merge together.

Saute the onion in olive oil until soft, add the chipotle pepper and sauce, cumin, beans, and salt and pepper to heat through. Mash with a fork.

Heat corn tortillas with olive oil in skillet on one side until charred, flip over to char the other side and add a smear of beans and some crumbled feta cheese. Remove from heat, add slaw and avocado.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Spinach Artichoke Whole Wheat Penne

I actually tried to cook a Rachael Ray 30-Minute Meal. I followed the recipes almost exactly from a recent episode. She made thinly pounded chicken rolled up with asparagus and cheese served with a lemon dijon pan sauce and a pasta side dish that was supposed to taste like a healthier version of spinach/artichoke dip (it didn't).

Overall, the meal was pretty good (the best parts were the lemon dijon pan sauce and the artichokes) and it was loaded with iron, fiber, protein, and other important vitamins and minerals. If I were to make this again, I would NOT do the rollup business (I honestly felt ridiculous buying asparagus in November), and just bake the chicken breasts and make that yummy sauce to go on top. Also, I would definitely use 2 cans of artichokes and less pasta.

I have no idea if the dinner was ready in under 30 minutes, but it couldn't have been too far off. Rachael may be one of the most irritating people on the planet, but the meal was simple, healthy, pretty, and tasty. Here's how I would adapt the recipe for the pasta to my taste if I were to make it again.

Spinach Artichoke Pasta
1 bag fresh baby spinach
1 big handful toasted almonds
1 large garlic clove, minced or grated
1 shallot, diced
1/2 cup vegetable stock
2 Tbsp olive oil, salt, and pepper
2 cans quartered artichoke hearts, drained
1/2 bag or box whole wheat pasta
grated parmesan cheese

Blitz first 6 ingredients (through oil/salt/pepper) in a food processor and set aside.

Add artichokes to a non-stick skillet with a little olive oil and heat through and start to brown.

Cook whole wheat pasta according to package directions. Save a cup of the cooking liquid before draining. Mix pesto with reserved cooking liquid, add pasta, artichokes, and cheese. Mix together and serve with baked chicken breasts topped with lemon dijon pan sauce.

Lemon Dijon pan sauce
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp flour
1/2 - 3/4 cup vegetable stock
1 tsp dijon mustard
lemon zest and juice

Melt butter in skillet, add flour and cook 2 minutes. Add stock and mustard and whisk to get rid of lumps and thicken. Remove from heat and add lemon zest and juice. Serve over chicken or fish.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Olive Oil Granola

I wasn't going to post this recipe or photo because I've already shown you a granola recipe before - that one was chocolate granola that ends up in big chunks. It's crunchy and super delicious.

But this granola is totally different. It doesn't clump together but ends up spoonable, like cereal. And it has such a deep, rich flavor from the olive's addicting for sure. The recipe originally appeared in the New York Times this summer and ALL the blogs were making it. Well, now I'm firmly on the bandwagon and this is my new go-to granola recipe. The only thing I would change next time is reducing the amount of brown sugar - I think it could handle a little less sweetness.

Olive Oil Granola
3 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1 1/2 cup nuts, any kind (I used peanuts, raw almonds, and marcona almonds)
1 cup seeds (I used pumpkin and sunflower seeds)
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
3/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup brown sugar (or less to taste)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cardamom
3/4 cup dried sweetened cranberries

Mix all ingredients - except cranberries - together and spread on sheet pans. Bake at 300 degrees for 45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Remove from oven and add cranberries.

Serve with yogurt, berries, ice cream, milk, or on its own!

UPDATED 2/4/12:  Wow, it's been a few years since I first tried this recipe but I still make this granola once or twice a month, it's really that good.  However, now I reduce the brown sugar to 1/4 cup, and the maple syrup to 1/2 cup.  I've also swapped the olive oil for melted coconut oil with excellent results!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Winter Hippie Chow

As you've probably figured out if you read this blog, I don't really have an original thought in my head. Everything I do or make is ripped off from someone else. Hey, at least I usually try to give credit when I do this!

The reason I'm telling you this is because I love the idea of Hippie Chow, and I stole it from the blog Bread and Honey (it's a great post that I recommend reading for your entertainment). I did a mexi-version of Hippie Chow this summer and tonight I turned it into a winter version. You can make Hippie Chow however you want to! Substitute bread, pasta, or rice for the quinoa and ANY veggies that tickle your fancy. Top it with meat, eggs, beans, or other proteins and you have a SLAM DUNK dinner that's quick and yummy and healthy!

I had a bunch of farmer's market veggies in my fridge and I didn't want them to go bad since I was leaving for NYC. So the night before I left, I threw all the veggies on a couple sheet pans and roasted them with olive oil, salt and pepper until they were soft. Here's what I had: carrots, green beans, a sweet potato, beets, and portobello mushrooms.

This is such a great GREEN and LEAN TIP to avoid having to throw away your old produce: If you have veggies just starting to get old, roast them and freeze them! You can then use them later in soups, pasta, frittatas, pizzas, or on their own.

So tonight I put those pre-roasted veggies on top of some cooked quinoa (I always keep some cooked quinoa in my fridge now!), topped with a poached egg and garnished with chopped parsley and grated parmesan cheese. It was groovy, man.

Hippie Chow
grains (quinoa, rice, pasta, bread, etc)
protein (meat, eggs, beans)

Cook the ingredients, mix together, light some incense, and eat sitting on your floor barefoot listening to Jack Johnson or Bob Marley tunes.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Chicken Noodle Soup for Sick/Lazy People

The New York trip was fabulous...until I got slammed with a horrible cold the night before flying home. I knew something wasn't right when I couldn't enjoy my free drinks at the art event! I mean, c'mon - free tequila?

That night and during the entire flight home, I was pretty miserable with sore throat, itchy ears, headache, and even painful eyeballs. I blame my pain on either being trapped in an airplane with germy people or coming into contact with the 8 million people that live on the tiny island of Manhattan.

Regardless, I'm just happy it's not the flu and so I turned to a cliche - chicken noodle soup - to make me feel better. This is such a simple recipe and if you are one of those people who thinks soup comes from a can...then this is a great starter recipe for you. It's the first soup I ever made from scratch and it really does have healing powers!

The reason I call it soup for lazy people is because I did take a few shortcuts. One, I used a carton of broth (instead of making my own stock), and I used a low-sodium rotisserie chicken from the grocery store. It was kind of disgusting to remove all the skin and remove the meat - but less gross than dealing with raw chicken. Real, free-range, and organic chicken breasts would of course be better in here, but hey, I'm sick and lazy!

Chicken Noodle Soup
1/2 yellow onion, diced
3 carrots, peeled and diced
3 ribs celery, diced
salt and pepper and any herbs or seasonings
2 cartons (4 cups each) chicken broth or stock
Diced chicken
1 cup egg noodles
chopped parsley and grated parmesan cheese for garnish

In a soup pot, heat olive oil and add onion, carrot, and celery, salt, pepper, and herbs (I used dried bay leaves and thyme). Cook about 5-8 minutes or until veggies are soft.

Add broth or stock and chicken, bring to a boil. Add noodles and lower heat to medium. Cover and simmer about 10 minutes or until noodles are soft (or until chicken is cooked if using raw chicken). Serve with chopped parsley and parmesan cheese.

What I Ate in NYC - Part Three

I had such a fabulous time in New York with Zack, Cassandra, and Ben!

In the past, I've shared my eating adventures of the Big Apple (you can read Part 1 HERE, and Part 2 HERE).

And of course this time was no exception to the wonderful and delicious food that can be had in NYC. I enjoyed items from the following lovely establishments (sorry, forgot my camera and have no photos)!

Really, the food in NYC cannot be beat! And while it appears that I ate huge quantities of take out food, really most of it was very veggie-filled and in small portions. Plus, I walked at least 10,000 miles so I needed the calories!

Not mentioned above is the barrels of wine that I consumed. That goes without saying, right?

I heart NY.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Turkey, Apple, Cheddar Sandwich

I often get pretty preachy about eating real foods. It's been the basis for the transformation in my health over the past year. Giving up (for the most part) processed and artificial foods has changed my outlook on food and I have never enjoyed meals more than I have in the past year.

However, there are a few pre-packaged items that I still love, and won't give up anytime soon. The first is the amazing Luna Bar. All the flavors are delicious and they are convenient for work, school, traveling, and every day life. Love Luna Bars.

The other is Quorn brand fake meats. Naked Chik'n Cutlets are awesome on a lunchtime salad. So simple to throw on top of some greens, craisins, sunflower seeds, feta, and balsamic vinaigrette. This is my standard go-to weekday work lunch, I can assemble it in about three minutes before I rush out the door each morning. I heat up the chik'n cutlet at work and it adds a great meaty and substantial texture to lunch that gets me through the afternoon without hunger pains.

What's in these Quorn thingies? I don't really know. The box says it's 58% mycoprotein, rehydrated egg white, and pea fiber. Mycoprotein is described as a type of fungus, like mushrooms. It's most likely created in a science lab and NOT grown in the earth, which I am generally against. However, I do stress moderation in everything...and these Quorn products are very high in fiber and protein while being super low in calories and it tastes delicious and it's simple. That's why this processed food is on my safe list for now.

In anticipation of Thanksgiving flavors (that 4-day weekend is still a month away, but who's counting?), I baked up the Turk'y Roast.

Been craving sandwiches something fierce lately so I paired the turk'y with a granny smith apple and cheddar cheese on wheat bread slathered with yellow mustard.

I was too hungry to take a photo of my sandwich (and, I forgot) so no food porn today, sorry! Just a "before" shot of the ingredients.

This sandwich was the perfect fuel to get me through a 4 mile walk and an hour of raking and bagging wet leaves. The only improvement would have been a dollop of my grandma's cranberry sauce instead of the mustard.

And speaking of apples, I'm gearing up for another trip to the Big Apple on Monday - so no blogging until at least late next week!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Spaghetti Squash Lasagna

"Oh my God, YUM." Those were my actual words after eating my first bite of this vegetarian lasagna. It was so delicious that I burnt the roof of my mouth because I couldn't stop eating it even though I knew it was scorching hot.

It took a bunch of brainstorming before I figured out a way to use up all that spaghetti squash I baked earlier this week. I recalled a recipe my mom gave me years ago for something called "spaghetti pie" which was cooked noodles in the bottom of a pie pan topped with meat, veggies, and cheese. This is pretty much the same thing, just substituting spaghetti squash for the actual noodles, so - heads up Angela - this is completely gluten-free!

It's also a nutritional powerhouse. Except for 1 egg and a little bit of cheese, every item in this beautiful entree is a vegetable (or fruit, in the case of the tomatoes)! You'd never know it by tasting it.

I kept trying to think of which veggies I wanted to pair with my spaghetti squash base, and since I LOVE mushrooms and kale and they are so abundant at the markets right now, I figured it was a match made in heaven. I was right. Adding to the fall flavors party was goat cheese, which just has the perfect flavor to offset those winter veggies. However, you can add whatever veggies (broccoli or zucchini?) or meat (ground turkey?) or cheese (mozzarella?) you want to make this yummy dish - you are only limited by your imagination on this one!

So, substitute all you want as you experiment with this recipe! But I'll give you the list of the ingredients I used.

Spaghetti Squash Lasagna
spaghetti squash, cooked
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
2 packages mushrooms, sliced (I used one pkg button, one pkg crimini)
1 bunch kale, stems removed and chopped
splash of red wine
roasted tomato sauce (or store bought, if you must)
1 package goat cheese
sprinkle of freshly grated parmesan cheese

Mix the squash, egg, and parmesan with your hands and pat into the bottom of a greased baking dish (mine was 9x11).

In the meantime, saute your onion in a skillet with olive oil until translucent. Add the mushrooms and keep cooking until they are browned. Add the kale, a splash of red wine, salt, and pepper and cover and cook for approximately 3 minutes. Layer the mushrooms and kale over the squash base.

Top with a layer of tomato sauce, crumbled goat cheese, and a final sprinkling of grated parmesan cheese. Bake until hot and cheese is melty and browned.

Try to let it rest a little bit before digging in!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Spaghetti Squash

This is not a recipe, and it might be incredibly boring to you if you are familiar with this particular vegetable. But I just discovered it a year or two ago and I'm still a little smitten with the miracle of spaghetti squash.

Here's what it looks like when you bring it home from the grocery store or farmer's market.

When you cut it open, it looks just like any other squash or pumpkin - orange and goopy. The miracle happens after you bake it. All you need to do to enjoy is cut it in half, remove the guts, douse with olive oil and salt/pepper, and place cut side down on a sheet pan. Bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes. Here is the COOL part, take a fork and scrape the flesh and it turns into spaghetti!

Speaking of freaky vegetables, have you ever seen Brussels sprouts on the stalk? It reminds me of Jack and the Beanstalk or something. It's like a scary but delicious alien vegetable.

Here is my final simple dinner of salmon, Brussels sprouts, and spaghetti squash...and it just occurred to me that I cooked each piece exactly the same...douse each olive oil, salt, and pepper and bake until done. I did add a final splash from a half a lemon to the sprouts and fish.