Showing posts tagged recipes

NO MORE LETTUCE!  - 3 yummy alternative salads you can make once and enjoy all week.
My 3 favorite easy and impressive desserts you can make when you don’t have time to bake for your holiday party.
At the entrance of Trader Joe’s, there is a bin full of colorful squash.  To me, they all look like colorful decorations to make table arrangements for dinner parties.  But it occurred to me after making fresh pumpkin pie* that those might be edible! That’s a joke of course, but for someone who didn’t grow up with a mother who cooked (or even ate vegetables), multi-colored squash is intimidating.  After a few winters under my belt cooking butternut squash and spaghetti squash, I’ve gotten inventive, and also a little bored.  So now I’m ready to venture on through the squash world.
Instead of just finding a recipe on Epicurious, I thought I’d tweet my favorite chefs to see how they like to prepare it.  (I take advantage of any occasion to tweet chefs and foodies because they’re always so responsive!)

A little intro to my foodies:
@101cookbooks is veggie Chef Heidi Swason (you LOVED her quinoa cakes I blogged)
@GoodAppetite is NYTimes columnist Melissa Clark, one of my favorite recipe resources for classic foods prepared with an interesting twist. She has videos online that’s really helpful. Click here to see her archives, right now there are TONS of Thanksgiving recipes.
@ChefArtSmith has several notable restaurants and was recently on top chef. In Atlanta Southern Art in Buckhead is his outpost.
@KittenWithAWhip is Kat Kinsman,the editor of Eatocracy, CNN’s entertaining food blog.  Her whip keeps me entertained on twitter.
@Healthista - Leah, nutritionist and former MTM contributor (read her very helpful posts here), YourHealthista.com
Here’s what they suggested:


Squash 101 for buying and cooking — Kat Kinsman
Roasted Chicken Thighs with Delicata Squash — Melissa Clark
Miso Sesame Winter Squash — Heidi Swanson
Squash Angel Hair with Greens and Golden Raisins — Leah


Let me know if you get to one of these before I do and put your comments below!  I’m awaiting a healthy recipe from Chef Lesley Palmer that I will add here shortly.  I love her stuff because her dishes are well-rounded in terms of protein, carbs, fat, and calories.

(Photo via caro on tumblr via Food & Drink / Guide to Winter squash.)
*Melissa Clark just posted this brandied fresh pumpkin pie recipe that I’ll have to try and compare to the one I used.  It ran just two weeks too late!

At the entrance of Trader Joe’s, there is a bin full of colorful squash.  To me, they all look like colorful decorations to make table arrangements for dinner parties.  But it occurred to me after making fresh pumpkin pie* that those might be edible! That’s a joke of course, but for someone who didn’t grow up with a mother who cooked (or even ate vegetables), multi-colored squash is intimidating.  After a few winters under my belt cooking butternut squash and spaghetti squash, I’ve gotten inventive, and also a little bored.  So now I’m ready to venture on through the squash world.

Instead of just finding a recipe on Epicurious, I thought I’d tweet my favorite chefs to see how they like to prepare it.  (I take advantage of any occasion to tweet chefs and foodies because they’re always so responsive!)

A little intro to my foodies:

Here’s what they suggested:

Let me know if you get to one of these before I do and put your comments below!  I’m awaiting a healthy recipe from Chef Lesley Palmer that I will add here shortly.  I love her stuff because her dishes are well-rounded in terms of protein, carbs, fat, and calories.

(Photo via caro on tumblr via Food & Drink / Guide to Winter squash.)

*Melissa Clark just posted this brandied fresh pumpkin pie recipe that I’ll have to try and compare to the one I used.  It ran just two weeks too late!

Tags:recipes/
Now that it’s cold outside, banana bread is especially delicious to cuddle up with.

My problem in baking the bread has always been the middle; I could never get it cooked through without drying out the edges.  Finally, last week, I got it right with this recipe. I did use the chocolate chips, although next time I’ll leave them out or sub them for raisins.  I used sprouted whole wheat flour from whole foods (it’s course, you’ll see it) and doubled the bananas.

Banana Bread with Chocolate Chips and Walnuts

Bon Appetit February 2000

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup walnuts, chopped, toasted (just throw them in the oven as it preheats)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (I doubled this)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour 9x5x2 1/2-inch metal loaf pan. Whisk first 4 ingredients in medium bowl to blend. Combine chocolate chips and walnuts in small bowl; add 1 tablespoon flour mixture and toss to coat. Beat butter in large bowl until fluffy. Gradually add sugar, beating until well blended. Beat in eggs 1 at a time. Beat in mashed bananas, lemon juice and vanilla extract. Beat in flour mixture. Spoon 1/3 of batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle with half of nut mixture. Spoon 1/3 of batter over. Sprinkle with remaining nut mixture. Cover with remaining batter. Run knife through batter in zigzag pattern. Bake bread until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour 5 minutes. Turn out onto rack and cool.

Now that it’s cold outside, banana bread is especially delicious to cuddle up with.

My problem in baking the bread has always been the middle; I could never get it cooked through without drying out the edges.  Finally, last week, I got it right with this recipe. I did use the chocolate chips, although next time I’ll leave them out or sub them for raisins.  I used sprouted whole wheat flour from whole foods (it’s course, you’ll see it) and doubled the bananas.

Banana Bread with Chocolate Chips and Walnuts

Bon Appetit February 2000

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup walnuts, chopped, toasted (just throw them in the oven as it preheats)
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup mashed ripe bananas (I doubled this)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour 9x5x2 1/2-inch metal loaf pan. Whisk first 4 ingredients in medium bowl to blend. Combine chocolate chips and walnuts in small bowl; add 1 tablespoon flour mixture and toss to coat.
Beat butter in large bowl until fluffy. Gradually add sugar, beating until well blended. Beat in eggs 1 at a time. Beat in mashed bananas, lemon juice and vanilla extract. Beat in flour mixture. Spoon 1/3 of batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle with half of nut mixture. Spoon 1/3 of batter over. Sprinkle with remaining nut mixture. Cover with remaining batter. Run knife through batter in zigzag pattern.
Bake bread until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour 5 minutes. Turn out onto rack and cool.

Tags:recipes/
When it comes to party recipes, I always say, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Friends and family usually can’t wait for your famous dishes like beer can chicken, fajitas and queso, or ribs. Click here for my BBQ how-to guide or refer to my grilling posts.
That being said, there’s always room to try something new. It could be the next fan favorite.
I’ve been inspired by The Local Palate, a Charleston foodie mag, to try a few new alternatives to serve at kick-off this season.
Bacon-Wrapped Duck
4 duck breasts
1 pound of bacon (not thick cut)
10 fresh assorted hot peppers (jalapeno, serrano, fresno) cut into slices
Bamboo skewers, soaked in water for 10 minutes
Your favorite teriyaki sauce
Cut duck breast into 1 inch chunks. Slice bacon in half to shorten. Roll one piece of bacon around one piece of duck and then wrap one slice of pepper around bacon. Slide onto skewer. You should get about 8 skewers total. Place on grill over medium heat and grill on each side for 4 minutes or until bacon is cooked. Serve with teriyaki sauce.
Jicama Green Apple Slaw
1 small head of radicchio, thinly sliced
1 jicama, peeled and chopped
1 green apple, small dice
2 carrots, grated
1/4 cup cashews chopped
1/2 bunch of cilantro, roughly chopped
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons sesame oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Mix the first six ingredients together in a medium-sized bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk rice wine vinegar and honey until blended. Add sesame oil and whisk until blended. Add dressing to the veggies and toss to coat. Salt and pepper to taste and serve.
Caramelized Apple Upside Down Cornbread Cake
4 ounces of butter, room temperature
1 cup + 4 ounces sorghum syrup, more for garnish
3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, quartered, and seeded
2 eggs, room temperature
1 cup buttermilk
4 ounces melted butter
1 cup cornmeal
1 pinch of salt
1 cup White Lily self-rising flour
Ice cream, optional
Preheat oven to 325. In a heavy 10-inch stainless steel skillet, melt butter wtih 1 cup of sorghum until well incorporated. Remove from heat. Add apples to skillet, round side down, set aside. In a mixing bowl, beat eggs, buttermilk, meltedbutter, and remaining 4 ounces sorghum syrup. Add cornmeal, salt, and flour, beat until well incorporated. Pour batter over apples and bake for 35-45 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes. To serve, cover with a plate that fits over the top of the skillet and flip over. Tap skillet bottom to release cake. Slice into wedges, garnish with syrup, and serve.
Indian Summer Cocktail
Small handful of mint
4 small pieces of pineapple
1/2 ounce lemon juice
1/2 ounce green Chartreuse
1 1/2 ounces of gin
Lemon twist for garnish
Muddle pineapple, with mint. Add remaining ingredients and shake with ice. Strain into a freshly-iced old fashion glass and garnish with twist.

When it comes to party recipes, I always say, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Friends and family usually can’t wait for your famous dishes like beer can chicken, fajitas and queso, or ribs. Click here for my BBQ how-to guide or refer to my grilling posts.

That being said, there’s always room to try something new. It could be the next fan favorite.

I’ve been inspired by The Local Palate, a Charleston foodie mag, to try a few new alternatives to serve at kick-off this season.

Bacon-Wrapped Duck

  • 4 duck breasts
  • 1 pound of bacon (not thick cut)
  • 10 fresh assorted hot peppers (jalapeno, serrano, fresno) cut into slices
  • Bamboo skewers, soaked in water for 10 minutes
  • Your favorite teriyaki sauce

Cut duck breast into 1 inch chunks. Slice bacon in half to shorten. Roll one piece of bacon around one piece of duck and then wrap one slice of pepper around bacon. Slide onto skewer. You should get about 8 skewers total. Place on grill over medium heat and grill on each side for 4 minutes or until bacon is cooked. Serve with teriyaki sauce.

Jicama Green Apple Slaw

  • 1 small head of radicchio, thinly sliced
  • 1 jicama, peeled and chopped
  • 1 green apple, small dice
  • 2 carrots, grated
  • 1/4 cup cashews chopped
  • 1/2 bunch of cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Mix the first six ingredients together in a medium-sized bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk rice wine vinegar and honey until blended. Add sesame oil and whisk until blended. Add dressing to the veggies and toss to coat. Salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Caramelized Apple Upside Down Cornbread Cake

  • 4 ounces of butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup + 4 ounces sorghum syrup, more for garnish
  • 3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, quartered, and seeded
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 4 ounces melted butter
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 cup White Lily self-rising flour
  • Ice cream, optional

Preheat oven to 325. In a heavy 10-inch stainless steel skillet, melt butter wtih 1 cup of sorghum until well incorporated. Remove from heat. Add apples to skillet, round side down, set aside. In a mixing bowl, beat eggs, buttermilk, meltedbutter, and remaining 4 ounces sorghum syrup. Add cornmeal, salt, and flour, beat until well incorporated. Pour batter over apples and bake for 35-45 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes. To serve, cover with a plate that fits over the top of the skillet and flip over. Tap skillet bottom to release cake. Slice into wedges, garnish with syrup, and serve.

Indian Summer Cocktail

  • Small handful of mint
  • 4 small pieces of pineapple
  • 1/2 ounce lemon juice
  • 1/2 ounce green Chartreuse
  • 1 1/2 ounces of gin
  • Lemon twist for garnish

Muddle pineapple, with mint. Add remaining ingredients and shake with ice. Strain into a freshly-iced old fashion glass and garnish with twist.

Tags:recipes/
In the south we grill a lot, hence of all my grilling and marinade recipes.  Beer can chicken is hands down my favorite preparation for chicken.  Recently we were referred to Adam Perry Lang’s book Serious Barbecue for more great recipes.  We all admit, his preparation for the classic Beer Can Chicken takes our favorite to a new level.
Don’t be intimidated by the long ingredient list or process.  It’s super simple, especially if you’re all hanging around chatting.
The Marinade:
1/2 cup canola oil (or melted coconut oil if you want to be healthy)
1/2 cup water
2 Tblspn Worcestershire sauce
2 Tblspn Japanese soy sauce
1 Tblspn cider vinegar
1 Tblspn yellow mustard
1 Tblspn firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 Tblspn fresh ground black pepper
1 Tblspn kosher salt
6 garlic cloves, grated
1 medium sweet onion coarsely chopped
1 serrano, Thai bird, or other hot chilli sliced with the seeds removed
Enough for 3 chickens.  I save what I don’t use in a jar in the fridge.  It keeps for a while!
The Glaze:
1/2 cup orange marmalade (I use apricot jam)
1/4 cup honey
2 Tblspn cider vinegar
1 Tblspn freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 Tblspn coarsely chopped chives
1 Tblspn coarsely chopped parsley
Other stuff you need:
2 12 oz beer cans
Large Zip Lock bags
1/2 bunch thyme and 1/2 bunch of marjoram tied in a bundle
8 Tblspn unsalted butter
Fleur de sel (optional)
Finishing dressing (the ultimate finishing touch):
1 Tblspn finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 Tblspn finely chopped chives
1 lemon
1/4 cup EVOO
Preparation:
Combine all marinade ingredients in a blender and pulse until smooth.
Take the crap out of the inside of the chicken, rinse, and put into a large zip lock bag.
Pour marinade over chicken and seal, pressing out all of the air.  Refrigerate for 8-24 hours.
Pre-heat bbq (even better a Green Egg!) with drip pan/deflector plate and fruit-wood (like apple) to 300 degrees.
Place all glaze ingredients in jar and shake to combine.
Remove chickens from bags and let marinade stay in bag.  Pat chicken dry lightly with a paper towel.
Put chickens on top of empty cans.
Place chickens in cooker basting occasionally with herb bundle dipped in butter.
Cook until internal temperature of thigh is 165, and breast is 155.  It will take 45 min to 1 hr 15 min.
Give the glaze a quick shake and then using the herb brush, brush the chicken with the glaze.
Put the bird back in the cooker and cook until internal temp is 175 for the thigh and 165 for the breast.  About 15 to 20 min.
Remove the chicken and let it rest upright for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine parsley and chives in a small bowl, zest in the lemon and squeeze in all of its juices.  Add EVOO. Pour this onto your cutting board or work surface.
Place chicken on board and cut it into quarters.
Sprinkle with Fleur de sel.

In the south we grill a lot, hence of all my grilling and marinade recipes.  Beer can chicken is hands down my favorite preparation for chicken.  Recently we were referred to Adam Perry Lang’s book Serious Barbecue for more great recipes.  We all admit, his preparation for the classic Beer Can Chicken takes our favorite to a new level.

Don’t be intimidated by the long ingredient list or process.  It’s super simple, especially if you’re all hanging around chatting.

The Marinade:

  • 1/2 cup canola oil (or melted coconut oil if you want to be healthy)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 Tblspn Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 Tblspn Japanese soy sauce
  • 1 Tblspn cider vinegar
  • 1 Tblspn yellow mustard
  • 1 Tblspn firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 Tblspn fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 Tblspn kosher salt
  • 6 garlic cloves, grated
  • 1 medium sweet onion coarsely chopped
  • 1 serrano, Thai bird, or other hot chilli sliced with the seeds removed

Enough for 3 chickens.  I save what I don’t use in a jar in the fridge.  It keeps for a while!

The Glaze:

  • 1/2 cup orange marmalade (I use apricot jam)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 Tblspn cider vinegar
  • 1 Tblspn freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 Tblspn coarsely chopped chives
  • 1 Tblspn coarsely chopped parsley

Other stuff you need:

  • 2 12 oz beer cans
  • Large Zip Lock bags
  • 1/2 bunch thyme and 1/2 bunch of marjoram tied in a bundle
  • 8 Tblspn unsalted butter
  • Fleur de sel (optional)

Finishing dressing (the ultimate finishing touch):

  • 1 Tblspn finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 Tblspn finely chopped chives
  • 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup EVOO

Preparation:

  1. Combine all marinade ingredients in a blender and pulse until smooth.
  2. Take the crap out of the inside of the chicken, rinse, and put into a large zip lock bag.
  3. Pour marinade over chicken and seal, pressing out all of the air.  Refrigerate for 8-24 hours.
  4. Pre-heat bbq (even better a Green Egg!) with drip pan/deflector plate and fruit-wood (like apple) to 300 degrees.
  5. Place all glaze ingredients in jar and shake to combine.
  6. Remove chickens from bags and let marinade stay in bag.  Pat chicken dry lightly with a paper towel.
  7. Put chickens on top of empty cans.
  8. Place chickens in cooker basting occasionally with herb bundle dipped in butter.
  9. Cook until internal temperature of thigh is 165, and breast is 155.  It will take 45 min to 1 hr 15 min.
  10. Give the glaze a quick shake and then using the herb brush, brush the chicken with the glaze.
  11. Put the bird back in the cooker and cook until internal temp is 175 for the thigh and 165 for the breast.  About 15 to 20 min.
  12. Remove the chicken and let it rest upright for 30 minutes.
  13. Meanwhile, combine parsley and chives in a small bowl, zest in the lemon and squeeze in all of its juices.  Add EVOO. Pour this onto your cutting board or work surface.
  14. Place chicken on board and cut it into quarters.
  15. Sprinkle with Fleur de sel.
I made these quinoa cakes 3 times last week!  Healthy, hearty, and delicious by everyone’s standards.  Make these instead of a potatoes for your next bbq or even breakfast.
The recipe is from my new cookbook, Super Natural Every Day by Heidi Swanson.  (You can also find the recipe on Epicurious here.)  All of her recipes are vegetarian but look to be so rich with a variety of flavors I wouldn’t normally put together.
Quinoa Cakes
Makes enough for 12 cakes.  Store the unused uncooked mix for for up to 5 days in the fridge.
Ingredients
2 1/2 cups cooked quinoa
4 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1/3 cup finely chopped chives
1 yellow or white onion finely chopped
1/3 cup fresh grated parmesan  or Gruyere cheese
3 cloves garlic finely chopped
1 cup bread crumbs (I used organic gluten free made from rice)
Water, if needed
1 Tbspn Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Optional: Any veggies you have available.  Finely chopped.
Preparation

1.  Combine the quinoa, eggs, and salt in a medium bowl. Stir in the chives, onion, cheese, and garlic. Add the bread crumbs, stir, and let sit for a few minutes so the crumbs can absorb some of the moisture.
2.  At this point, you should have a mixture you can easily form into twelve 1-inch/2.5cm thick patties. I err on the very moist side because it makes for a not-overly-dry patty, but you can add more bread crumbs, a bit at a time, to firm up the mixture, if need be. Conversely, a bit more beaten egg or water can be used to moisten the mixture.
3.  Heat the oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-low heat, add 4- 6 patties, if they’ll fit with some room between each, cover, and cook for 7 to 10 minutes, until the bottoms are deeply browned. Turn up the heat if there is no browning after 10 minutes and continue to cook until the patties are browned. Carefully flip the patties with a spatula and cook the second sides for 7 minutes, or until golden.
4.  Remove from the skillet and cool on a wire rack while you cook the remaining patties.
MR Note: I went for a wetter patty so they would be moist inside.  When I initially put them in the pan, they looked like they were going to fall apart.  A couple minutes in, I flattened them with the spatula to get more browning and the cake formed back into one piece.  You really can’t mess these up.  The more burned the better in my opinion :)

  

I made these quinoa cakes 3 times last week!  Healthy, hearty, and delicious by everyone’s standards.  Make these instead of a potatoes for your next bbq or even breakfast.

The recipe is from my new cookbook, Super Natural Every Day by Heidi Swanson.  (You can also find the recipe on Epicurious here.)  All of her recipes are vegetarian but look to be so rich with a variety of flavors I wouldn’t normally put together.

Quinoa Cakes

Makes enough for 12 cakes.  Store the unused uncooked mix for for up to 5 days in the fridge.

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped chives
  • 1 yellow or white onion finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup fresh grated parmesan  or Gruyere cheese
  • 3 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 1 cup bread crumbs (I used organic gluten free made from rice)
  • Water, if needed
  • 1 Tbspn Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Optional: Any veggies you have available.  Finely chopped.

Preparation

1.  Combine the quinoa, eggs, and salt in a medium bowl. Stir in the chives, onion, cheese, and garlic. Add the bread crumbs, stir, and let sit for a few minutes so the crumbs can absorb some of the moisture.

2.  At this point, you should have a mixture you can easily form into twelve 1-inch/2.5cm thick patties. I err on the very moist side because it makes for a not-overly-dry patty, but you can add more bread crumbs, a bit at a time, to firm up the mixture, if need be. Conversely, a bit more beaten egg or water can be used to moisten the mixture.

3.  Heat the oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-low heat, add 4- 6 patties, if they’ll fit with some room between each, cover, and cook for 7 to 10 minutes, until the bottoms are deeply browned. Turn up the heat if there is no browning after 10 minutes and continue to cook until the patties are browned. Carefully flip the patties with a spatula and cook the second sides for 7 minutes, or until golden.

4.  Remove from the skillet and cool on a wire rack while you cook the remaining patties.

MR Note: I went for a wetter patty so they would be moist inside.  When I initially put them in the pan, they looked like they were going to fall apart.  A couple minutes in, I flattened them with the spatula to get more browning and the cake formed back into one piece.  You really can’t mess these up.  The more burned the better in my opinion :)

  
Searching for a quick dinner recipe I came across Chicken Lettuce Wraps on my epicurious app and went with it.  Tasty, healthy, quick, and a welcome change from all of the herb infused dishes I’ve made lately.
Stir-Fried Chicken Lettuce Wraps
Serves 6
16 large butter lettuce leaves
1/2 cup Asian sweet chili sauce (optional)
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken thighs, minced
2 scallions, minced
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons peanut oil (I used Canola)
3 medium shiitake mushrooms (about 1 ounce), stemmed, minced (I used white button mushrooms)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon minced peeled fresh ginger
1/4 cup unsalted, roasted cashews, chopped (I totally forgot to do this and I didn’t miss them)
Preparation
Do all the prep work of mincing first, then get ready to cook.
Mix chicken, scallions, soy sauce, and cornstarch in a medium bowl; marinate 10 minutes at room temperature, stirring occasionally.
Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet.
Add mushrooms; stirfry 15 seconds.
Add garlic and ginger and stir-fry 10 seconds.
Add chicken mixture and cook, stirring often, until golden brown and cooked through, about 3-4 minutes.
Arrange lettuce leaves on a large platter.
Spoon chicken mixture into lettuce leaves, dividing equally.
Garnish with cashews. Roll leaves around filling and dip into chili sauce.
**Veggie Additions
I sauteed chopped kale in a separate pan and then added into stir fry at the end. I could have used broccoli, zucchini, eggplant, maybe even carrots to make this more nutritious!

Searching for a quick dinner recipe I came across Chicken Lettuce Wraps on my epicurious app and went with it.  Tasty, healthy, quick, and a welcome change from all of the herb infused dishes I’ve made lately.

Stir-Fried Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Serves 6

  • 16 large butter lettuce leaves
  • 1/2 cup Asian sweet chili sauce (optional)
  • 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken thighs, minced
  • 2 scallions, minced
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil (I used Canola)
  • 3 medium shiitake mushrooms (about 1 ounce), stemmed, minced (I used white button mushrooms)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 1/4 cup unsalted, roasted cashews, chopped (I totally forgot to do this and I didn’t miss them)

Preparation

  1. Do all the prep work of mincing first, then get ready to cook.
  2. Mix chicken, scallions, soy sauce, and cornstarch in a medium bowl; marinate 10 minutes at room temperature, stirring occasionally.
  3. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet.
  4. Add mushrooms; stirfry 15 seconds.
  5. Add garlic and ginger and stir-fry 10 seconds.
  6. Add chicken mixture and cook, stirring often, until golden brown and cooked through, about 3-4 minutes.
  7. Arrange lettuce leaves on a large platter.
  8. Spoon chicken mixture into lettuce leaves, dividing equally.
  9. Garnish with cashews. Roll leaves around filling and dip into chili sauce.

**Veggie Additions

I sauteed chopped kale in a separate pan and then added into stir fry at the end. I could have used broccoli, zucchini, eggplant, maybe even carrots to make this more nutritious!

EASY WAYS TO SPICE UP YOUR SUMMER PARTIES
Whether it’s Cinco de Mayo, Labor Day, 4th of July, or just a little summer get-together, it’s nice to do something special to make your bbq or pool party unique.  Anyone can open tubs of dips and pour pre-made margarita mix, but why do that when it’s cheaper, healthier, and tastier to prepare a few things really well.
Here are a few of my favorite tricks and recipes that always make my guests smile.  All pics are from my archives.  (It’s been too long since I threw a real party so I had to dig deep.)
** DILLY DALLY AND DECORATE

You’re right to think people are just happy to be at your house having you cook for them, but a few simple additions can make all the difference to make your party exceptional.  A garden variety of flowers on the table, in the bathroom, on shelves.  Use vases or an eclectic mix of handy containers - see mine here. Witty cocktail napkins are a simple snag at any Sur La Table.
If it’s a holiday, I don’t have to tell you to buy themed knick knacks at the Dollar Store.  But… Buy cute knick knacks!  Allot at least $10 and go wild.
** ROLL OUT THE RED BLANKET
 
Well, your blanket doesn’t have to be red, but I’ve found people will join other guests they don’t know on a blanket to eat or chat.   At a table, they feel like they have to pull up a chair, on a couch they have to squish in.  This is also a simple solution if you don’t have enough chairs and tables.  Eating a meal standing can be uncomfortable.
** OPT FOR ALTERNATIVE BEVERAGES

Anybody can serve light beer and margaritas.  Consider other options for punch, concoctions, and lagers.  My go-to is an infused vodka with strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries.  I muddle them up and let them sit in the vodka overnight (or at least 8 hours) in the fridge. Strain the fruit or leave it, then serve with splash of fresh oj and soda water.
Another favorite is sweet tequila (like Corralejo Reposado that has a honey sweetness on the tongue) over ice with lime and a splash of water or soda water. If you like it sweet, add agave. Advise guests to sip instead of slurp.  This drink is clean and has exponentially less calories than a margarita.  If you really enjoy a mixed drink, opt for a mojito!  Here’s an easy recipe.
As for wine, it’s hot outside, so pick up bottles of Rose instead of Chardonnay or Sav Blanc.  It’s cheap, colorful, and delicious!

Finally, serve local craft beer instead of Bud Light.  It’s like serving a steak instead of a frozen burger.  A few of my favorites are here.
** MARINATE YOUR MEAT

Unless you’re serving masses or have a special burger mix (if so please share!), buy some good cuts of meat and marinate them.  Click here for my beef fajita marinade and grilled pork chops.
If you’re looking to go big, roast up this bad boy pork dish.  It’s labor intense and pays off in flavor.  Great for cold weather, but I feel you could serve it in smaller portions for a summer party.  Being the cover of BonAppetit, it’s a show stopper.
** ORDER THE REAL DEAL

There are two companies that come to mind for amazing party food you can order online.  Goode Company and Texas Tamales will deliver the goods to your door that you can unwrap and serve with pride.  Goode Company has THE BEST brisket, BBQ sauce (get the original), and a pecan pie that is admittedly better than mine.
Tamales are not something I would make myself and freeze well so they’re great to have at parties.  Top them off with some of their chile and/or chile con queso.  Your guests will love you (and hate you) all in one breath.  Sinfully delicious and worth every bite.
** DIY YOUR DIPS
Resist the hesitation to dump dip out of the tub into the bowl.  Usually this is what guests will eat the most of, so do them right and make it from fresh ingredients!
No one can resist chile con queso dip, I don’t care who they are.  Use this recipe instead of a block of velveeta for a smokey and healthy sauce people won’t feel so bad about devouring.
Making guacamole from scratch is totally worth it.  Chop up avocados, tomatoes, and onions to your liking.  Please don’t forget the cilantro, it’s my favorite part!  Maybe add some fresh jalapeno.  Squeeze in lemon or lime.  Salt and pepper.  To give it a little extra kick, add fresh minced garlic (very important it’s minced).
A healthy alternative to both is pineapple salsa.  Simple chop up:
1 pineapple, peeled and diced
¼ cup chopped scallion, green part only
¼ cup diced red bell pepper
1 tablespoon finely diced fresh jalapeno
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
1 small clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
**MAKE YOUR OWN CHIPS
Even though this takes a long time, hand-made chips will be the talk of the party.  All you have to do is cut up tortillas into triangles and fry them in EVOO or Grapeseeed oil.  Fill a sauce pan about 1/3 with oil, wait until the oil is hot, fry triangles in batches so they don’t overlap flipping a couple times, then put aside on paper towels to absorb the grease.  Season with salt.
Of course, you can bake them too, but they aren’t as good.
** DON’T FORGET THE SWEETS

Dessert is easy to make ahead so it shouldn’t get in your way the day of the party.  Two recipes that always please a crowd are my famous chocolate pie (one batch can make 2-3 pies).  This year’s favorite has been banana pudding which you can serve in individual plastic cups instead of a big bowl.  For a cake or cupcakes, absolutely take the time to make this carrot cake.  Or consider these bad ass brownies.
** PLAN A GAME

Games are either a huge hit or a total miss.  My thought:  drop the idea early and see the reaction before you commit.  My friends and I love an hour of Celebrity (charades with celebrity names), Kings (above), Pictionary, Scategories, etc.  My friend Scott from high school, who happens to be a builder, actually had one of those huge Jengas made out of 2x4’s.  SOOOO much fun.  I’m not saying go that far.  But consider it if you’re bbq is adults.  Now, if you’re entertaining kids, absolutely plan ahead with a bag toss, chalk, hopscotch, or board games if you don’t have the available toys.

EASY WAYS TO SPICE UP YOUR SUMMER PARTIES

Whether it’s Cinco de Mayo, Labor Day, 4th of July, or just a little summer get-together, it’s nice to do something special to make your bbq or pool party unique.  Anyone can open tubs of dips and pour pre-made margarita mix, but why do that when it’s cheaper, healthier, and tastier to prepare a few things really well.

Here are a few of my favorite tricks and recipes that always make my guests smile.  All pics are from my archives.  (It’s been too long since I threw a real party so I had to dig deep.)

** DILLY DALLY AND DECORATE

You’re right to think people are just happy to be at your house having you cook for them, but a few simple additions can make all the difference to make your party exceptional.  A garden variety of flowers on the table, in the bathroom, on shelves.  Use vases or an eclectic mix of handy containers - see mine here. Witty cocktail napkins are a simple snag at any Sur La Table.

If it’s a holiday, I don’t have to tell you to buy themed knick knacks at the Dollar Store.  But… Buy cute knick knacks!  Allot at least $10 and go wild.

** ROLL OUT THE RED BLANKET

 

Well, your blanket doesn’t have to be red, but I’ve found people will join other guests they don’t know on a blanket to eat or chat.   At a table, they feel like they have to pull up a chair, on a couch they have to squish in.  This is also a simple solution if you don’t have enough chairs and tables.  Eating a meal standing can be uncomfortable.

** OPT FOR ALTERNATIVE BEVERAGES

Anybody can serve light beer and margaritas.  Consider other options for punch, concoctions, and lagers.  My go-to is an infused vodka with strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries.  I muddle them up and let them sit in the vodka overnight (or at least 8 hours) in the fridge. Strain the fruit or leave it, then serve with splash of fresh oj and soda water.

Another favorite is sweet tequila (like Corralejo Reposado that has a honey sweetness on the tongue) over ice with lime and a splash of water or soda water. If you like it sweet, add agave. Advise guests to sip instead of slurp.  This drink is clean and has exponentially less calories than a margarita.  If you really enjoy a mixed drink, opt for a mojito!  Here’s an easy recipe.

As for wine, it’s hot outside, so pick up bottles of Rose instead of Chardonnay or Sav Blanc.  It’s cheap, colorful, and delicious!

Finally, serve local craft beer instead of Bud Light.  It’s like serving a steak instead of a frozen burger.  A few of my favorites are here.

** MARINATE YOUR MEAT

Unless you’re serving masses or have a special burger mix (if so please share!), buy some good cuts of meat and marinate them.  Click here for my beef fajita marinade and grilled pork chops.

If you’re looking to go big, roast up this bad boy pork dish.  It’s labor intense and pays off in flavor.  Great for cold weather, but I feel you could serve it in smaller portions for a summer party.  Being the cover of BonAppetit, it’s a show stopper.

** ORDER THE REAL DEAL

There are two companies that come to mind for amazing party food you can order online.  Goode Company and Texas Tamales will deliver the goods to your door that you can unwrap and serve with pride.  Goode Company has THE BEST brisket, BBQ sauce (get the original), and a pecan pie that is admittedly better than mine.

Tamales are not something I would make myself and freeze well so they’re great to have at parties.  Top them off with some of their chile and/or chile con queso.  Your guests will love you (and hate you) all in one breath.  Sinfully delicious and worth every bite.

** DIY YOUR DIPS

Resist the hesitation to dump dip out of the tub into the bowl.  Usually this is what guests will eat the most of, so do them right and make it from fresh ingredients!

No one can resist chile con queso dip, I don’t care who they are.  Use this recipe instead of a block of velveeta for a smokey and healthy sauce people won’t feel so bad about devouring.

Making guacamole from scratch is totally worth it.  Chop up avocados, tomatoes, and onions to your liking.  Please don’t forget the cilantro, it’s my favorite part!  Maybe add some fresh jalapeno.  Squeeze in lemon or lime.  Salt and pepper.  To give it a little extra kick, add fresh minced garlic (very important it’s minced).

A healthy alternative to both is pineapple salsa.  Simple chop up:

  • 1 pineapple, peeled and diced
  • ¼ cup chopped scallion, green part only
  • ¼ cup diced red bell pepper
  • 1 tablespoon finely diced fresh jalapeno
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil

**MAKE YOUR OWN CHIPS

Even though this takes a long time, hand-made chips will be the talk of the party.  All you have to do is cut up tortillas into triangles and fry them in EVOO or Grapeseeed oil.  Fill a sauce pan about 1/3 with oil, wait until the oil is hot, fry triangles in batches so they don’t overlap flipping a couple times, then put aside on paper towels to absorb the grease.  Season with salt.

Of course, you can bake them too, but they aren’t as good.

** DON’T FORGET THE SWEETS

Dessert is easy to make ahead so it shouldn’t get in your way the day of the party.  Two recipes that always please a crowd are my famous chocolate pie (one batch can make 2-3 pies).  This year’s favorite has been banana pudding which you can serve in individual plastic cups instead of a big bowl.  For a cake or cupcakes, absolutely take the time to make this carrot cake.  Or consider these bad ass brownies.

** PLAN A GAME

Games are either a huge hit or a total miss.  My thought:  drop the idea early and see the reaction before you commit.  My friends and I love an hour of Celebrity (charades with celebrity names), Kings (above), Pictionary, Scategories, etc.  My friend Scott from high school, who happens to be a builder, actually had one of those huge Jengas made out of 2x4’s.  SOOOO much fun.  I’m not saying go that far.  But consider it if you’re bbq is adults.  Now, if you’re entertaining kids, absolutely plan ahead with a bag toss, chalk, hopscotch, or board games if you don’t have the available toys.

I watched my girlfriend Kim, queen of “easy breezy,”  whip up this fresh and healthy pizza within 20 minutes the other night.  The part that amazed me was how easy it was to make her tomato sauce from scratch.  I never thought of simply sauteing cherry tomatoes until they become saucy and delicious.
 Here’s what you need: cherry tomatoes, garlic, seasoning. That’s it! 

Simply:
Cut the tomatoes in half.
Chop or mince a clove of garlic.
Throw in a pan with a little olive oil and season.
Let cook for 15 - 20 minutes stirring occasionally.
You can use it for pizza or pasta.
Kim’s easy breezy version of the pizza uses rotisserie chicken, sauteed broccoli, and grated Parmesan cheese.  She toasted a frozen pizza crust in the oven.  Pre-pizza dough is another option.
When I made it, I roasted chicken breasts (skin on that I stuffed with herbs) and broccoli together.  I sauteed down some kale to add into the sauce.  I could have very easily put all of that on top of pasta, quinoa, or wheat fresh bread instead of pizza dough.

I watched my girlfriend Kim, queen of “easy breezy,”  whip up this fresh and healthy pizza within 20 minutes the other night.  The part that amazed me was how easy it was to make her tomato sauce from scratch.  I never thought of simply sauteing cherry tomatoes until they become saucy and delicious.

 Here’s what you need: cherry tomatoes, garlic, seasoning. That’s it!

Simply:

  1. Cut the tomatoes in half.
  2. Chop or mince a clove of garlic.
  3. Throw in a pan with a little olive oil and season.
  4. Let cook for 15 - 20 minutes stirring occasionally.

You can use it for pizza or pasta.

Kim’s easy breezy version of the pizza uses rotisserie chicken, sauteed broccoli, and grated Parmesan cheese.  She toasted a frozen pizza crust in the oven.  Pre-pizza dough is another option.

When I made it, I roasted chicken breasts (skin on that I stuffed with herbs) and broccoli together.  I sauteed down some kale to add into the sauce.  I could have very easily put all of that on top of pasta, quinoa, or wheat fresh bread instead of pizza dough.

There are a million chocolate chip cookies recipes, but I love this one because there are 3 distinct levels of flavor in every bite.  First you get the butter in the cakey cookie, then the rich chocolate, and finally a tinge of kosher salt!  Jim Lahey’s recipe calls for kosher salt instead of table salt (which is what I would usually use so it would melt into the dough). It makes the cookie a little more exciting than simply sweet.
Jim Lahey, the award-winning baker and founder of the famous Sullivan Street Bakery in New York City, is the go-to guy for classic recipes (see his recipe for no-knead bread here when you scroll down.)  I won’t say that his recipes are THE BEST, but they’re pretty damn close.  My only complaint about this cookie is that it’s too cakey.  Next time I’ll add a little more butter to thin it out.
Of course, I didn’t follow his recipe exactly because I always like to make a “healthier” version :)  So you’ll see his recipe below along with my substitutions.
Jim Lahey’s Classic Chocolate Chip Cookie
From Bon Appetit March 2012 

Ingredients

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (MR used wheat)
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar (MR used Turbinado)
1 large egg, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips (MR used Ghirardelli)



Preparation

Arrange racks in upper and lower thirds of oven; preheat to 425°. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. 
Whisk flour, salt, and baking powder in a small bowl. 
Using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter and both sugars in a large bowl until well combined, 2–3 minutes. 
Add egg and vanilla; beat on medium-high speed until mixture is light and fluffy, 2–3 minutes. 
Add dry ingredients, reduce speed to low, and mix just to blend. Fold in chocolate chips.

Spoon heaping tablespoonfuls of dough onto prepared baking sheets, spacing 1 1/2” apart. Bake, rotating pans halfway through, until edges are golden brown, 6–8 minutes. Transfer to wire racks and let cool. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Store airtight at room temperature, or freeze cookies for up to 2 months.

There are a million chocolate chip cookies recipes, but I love this one because there are 3 distinct levels of flavor in every bite.  First you get the butter in the cakey cookie, then the rich chocolate, and finally a tinge of kosher salt!  Jim Lahey’s recipe calls for kosher salt instead of table salt (which is what I would usually use so it would melt into the dough). It makes the cookie a little more exciting than simply sweet.

Jim Lahey, the award-winning baker and founder of the famous Sullivan Street Bakery in New York City, is the go-to guy for classic recipes (see his recipe for no-knead bread here when you scroll down.)  I won’t say that his recipes are THE BEST, but they’re pretty damn close.  My only complaint about this cookie is that it’s too cakey.  Next time I’ll add a little more butter to thin it out.

Of course, I didn’t follow his recipe exactly because I always like to make a “healthier” version :)  So you’ll see his recipe below along with my substitutions.

Jim Lahey’s Classic Chocolate Chip Cookie

From Bon Appetit March 2012 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (MR used wheat)
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup sugar (MR used Turbinado)
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips (MR used Ghirardelli)

Preparation

  1. Arrange racks in upper and lower thirds of oven; preheat to 425°. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Whisk flour, salt, and baking powder in a small bowl.
  3. Using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter and both sugars in a large bowl until well combined, 2–3 minutes.
  4. Add egg and vanilla; beat on medium-high speed until mixture is light and fluffy, 2–3 minutes.
  5. Add dry ingredients, reduce speed to low, and mix just to blend. Fold in chocolate chips.
Spoon heaping tablespoonfuls of dough onto prepared baking sheets, spacing 1 1/2” apart. Bake, rotating pans halfway through, until edges are golden brown, 6–8 minutes. Transfer to wire racks and let cool. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Store airtight at room temperature, or freeze cookies for up to 2 months.

POACHING AN EGG FOR BLONDES

I grew up with a mother who didn’t cook at all so even the most basic methods are intimidating to me.  For example, I didn’t start roasting until 2 years ago and that’s one of the most foolproof techniques you can use in the kitchen!

On my recent vacation, I ordered my eggs poached because I like them that way AND I don’t know how to poach myself.  So I cornered my latest favorite chef, German Mosquera, before my meeting with his GM, to learn just how I could poach my own eggs.

Watch the video of the process.

To do it on your own, you’ll need:

  • A gently simmering pot of 1 part vinegar, 3 parts water, with a pinch of salt.
  • Eggs cracked in ramekins.
  • An ice bath.
  • Large spoon.

All you have to do is:

  1. Crack the egg into the ramekin.
  2. Lower it into the simmering water.
  3. Cook 2-4 minutes.
  4. Remove from the water to serve or place in the ice bath.

I liked getting the personal instruction because it looks a little funky.  Now I’m excited to make my own!

A reader said, “I wish I could see your grocery list”  Well, here it  is!  Can you read it?? Yeah, me neither. I actually have nice  handwriting when I’m not rushing….
No, seriously, I never make a list unless I’m determined to cook, which I was this week. 
If I don’t make a list, here’s what I usually pick up (as I go through the store):
Broccoli crown or broccolini bunch or green beans
Spinach or salad mix with herbs
Herbs (rosemary, thyme, basil)
1 tomato 
1 sweet onion
1 avocado
1 sweet potato
1 honey crisp apple
1 pineapple
2 small bananas
Fresh OJ - medium
Fresh Green Juice - small
Grapes or clementines or strawberries or blueberries
1 cup quinoa
2 cups granola
1/2 cup of roasted (no salt) nuts I’m in the mood for
1/2 cup Thompson raisins
Dark chocolate
1/2 chicken with bones and skin or in-store roasted turkey slices
1 filet white fish
1 serving of flavored organic yogurt
3-4 Justin’s almond butter packets
1-2 Gnu bars
Terra sweet potato chips, no salt
1 bottle white wine
1 awesome beer
Cookies of some sort (the healthiest that sounds appealing)
A couple pre-made deli stuff: broccoli crunch, butternut squash, green beans, edamame, a soup
This week I’ve made two recipes from publications. But really, nothing special.  You can see them for yourself.

Roasted Talapia with EVOO and herbs.  Spinach using the Whole Foods recipe I posted last week.  Brown rice with lime and cilantro.

This didn’t turn out as I had hoped.  Island pork recipe from Clean Eating magazine and green beans with sesame oil.

Apple-potato latkes with maple-cinnamon yogurt from one of my favorite sources: Melissa Clark’s column “A Good Appetite” in NYTimes Dining section on Wednesdays.  (I fell in love with her making this Chicken Adobo.  Then I found THESE BAD ASS RIBS!)  I’m sure hers were MUCH better, but my circumstances were not great.  I  had to make the mix and then put it in the fridge for an hour before  frying them. Ideally, I’d like to broil them!  I’ll try that soon.   Until then, see my healthy substitutions below and see what you can do  with them.  Here is the recipe:

Apple-P0tato Latkes with Cinnamon Sour Cream
From Melissa Clark, NYTimes Dining
6 tablespoons sour cream or Greek yogurt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon maple syrup
2 Golden Delicious apples, peeled and cored 
1 large russet potato, peeled
1 medium yellow onion, peeled
2/3 cup all-purpose flour 
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Olive oil, for frying.
MR used: Nonfat Greek yogurt. Wheat flour. Whatever apples I had  in the fridge.  Whole Foods brand agave syrup, both Maple and Cinnamon  (in addition to ground cinnamon).  
Instructions
1.  In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream or yogurt, cinnamon and syrup. Cover and chill until ready to use.
2.  Coarsely grate the apples, potato and onion. Put  the mixture in a  clean dish towel and squeeze to wring out as much  liquid as possible.  For the crispiest pancakes, you want the least  moisture.
3.  Working quickly, put the mixture in a large bowl,  add the flour, eggs,  salt, baking powder and pepper, and mix until the  flour is absorbed.
4.  In a heavy-bottomed pan over medium-high heat, pour  in about 1/4 inch  of oil. Once the oil is hot (a drop of batter placed  in the pan should  sizzle), drop heaping tablespoons of batter into the  pan, cooking 3 to 4  latkes at a time. Use a spatula to flatten the  scoops into disks. When the edges of the latkes  are brown and crispy, 2  to 3 minutes, flip them. Cook until the second  side is deeply browned,  another 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the latkes to  a plate lined with paper  towels to drain. Repeat with the remaining  batter. Serve with dollops of  the cinnamon sour cream on top.
MR notes: I know nothing about oil except their benefits.  EVOO was too thick to fry in.  Test a latke in the oil before making all of them.  I had to add additional potato and apple because my batter had too much flour.  And the yogurt is unexpectedly amazing; you need it.  I used it instead of ketchup.

A reader said, “I wish I could see your grocery list”  Well, here it is!  Can you read it?? Yeah, me neither. I actually have nice handwriting when I’m not rushing….

No, seriously, I never make a list unless I’m determined to cook, which I was this week. 

If I don’t make a list, here’s what I usually pick up (as I go through the store):

  • Broccoli crown or broccolini bunch or green beans
  • Spinach or salad mix with herbs
  • Herbs (rosemary, thyme, basil)
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 sweet onion
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 sweet potato
  • 1 honey crisp apple
  • 1 pineapple
  • 2 small bananas
  • Fresh OJ - medium
  • Fresh Green Juice - small
  • Grapes or clementines or strawberries or blueberries
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups granola
  • 1/2 cup of roasted (no salt) nuts I’m in the mood for
  • 1/2 cup Thompson raisins
  • Dark chocolate
  • 1/2 chicken with bones and skin or in-store roasted turkey slices
  • 1 filet white fish
  • 1 serving of flavored organic yogurt
  • 3-4 Justin’s almond butter packets
  • 1-2 Gnu bars
  • Terra sweet potato chips, no salt
  • 1 bottle white wine
  • 1 awesome beer
  • Cookies of some sort (the healthiest that sounds appealing)
  • A couple pre-made deli stuff: broccoli crunch, butternut squash, green beans, edamame, a soup

This week I’ve made two recipes from publications. But really, nothing special.  You can see them for yourself.

Roasted Talapia with EVOO and herbs.  Spinach using the Whole Foods recipe I posted last week.  Brown rice with lime and cilantro.

This didn’t turn out as I had hoped.  Island pork recipe from Clean Eating magazine and green beans with sesame oil.

Apple-potato latkes with maple-cinnamon yogurt from one of my favorite sources: Melissa Clark’s column “A Good Appetite” in NYTimes Dining section on Wednesdays.  (I fell in love with her making this Chicken Adobo.  Then I found THESE BAD ASS RIBS!) I’m sure hers were MUCH better, but my circumstances were not great.  I had to make the mix and then put it in the fridge for an hour before frying them. Ideally, I’d like to broil them!  I’ll try that soon.  Until then, see my healthy substitutions below and see what you can do with them.  Here is the recipe:

Apple-P0tato Latkes with Cinnamon Sour Cream

From Melissa Clark, NYTimes Dining

  • 6 tablespoons sour cream or Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon maple syrup
  • 2 Golden Delicious apples, peeled and cored
  • 1 large russet potato, peeled
  • 1 medium yellow onion, peeled
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • Olive oil, for frying.

MR used: Nonfat Greek yogurt. Wheat flour. Whatever apples I had in the fridge.  Whole Foods brand agave syrup, both Maple and Cinnamon (in addition to ground cinnamon). 

Instructions

1. In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream or yogurt, cinnamon and syrup. Cover and chill until ready to use.

2. Coarsely grate the apples, potato and onion. Put the mixture in a clean dish towel and squeeze to wring out as much liquid as possible. For the crispiest pancakes, you want the least moisture.

3. Working quickly, put the mixture in a large bowl, add the flour, eggs, salt, baking powder and pepper, and mix until the flour is absorbed.

4. In a heavy-bottomed pan over medium-high heat, pour in about 1/4 inch of oil. Once the oil is hot (a drop of batter placed in the pan should sizzle), drop heaping tablespoons of batter into the pan, cooking 3 to 4 latkes at a time. Use a spatula to flatten the scoops into disks. When the edges of the latkes are brown and crispy, 2 to 3 minutes, flip them. Cook until the second side is deeply browned, another 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the latkes to a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Repeat with the remaining batter. Serve with dollops of the cinnamon sour cream on top.

MR notes: I know nothing about oil except their benefits.  EVOO was too thick to fry in.  Test a latke in the oil before making all of them.  I had to add additional potato and apple because my batter had too much flour.  And the yogurt is unexpectedly amazing; you need it.  I used it instead of ketchup.

WHOLE FOODS RECIPES YOU CAN PLAY WITH

Tired of cooking up my veggies the same old way, I downloaded the Whole Foods Recipe App on my iPhone in the grocery store the other day for some quick and healthy recipes.  The following two caught my attention and make it to my stove top last week.  Honestly, they’re both pretty bland if you make them according to the instructions, but that means they are perfect bases for you cooks to go wild with herbs, spices, and additional veggies.

LENTIL CHILI

* I shared this with my Dad, my mom who hates healthy food, and a girlfriend.  They all loved it!

Nutrition Per serving : 120 calories (5 from fat), 0g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, 180mg sodium, 21g total carbohydrate (7g dietary fiber, 6g sugar), 6g protein


Ingredients

*Makes 8 servings.  I cut in half and got 5.

  • 8 cups low-sodium vegetable broth, divided
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 large red bell pepper, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 4 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 (16-ounce) package brown lentils (about 2 1/4 cups lentils)
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans no-salt-added diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (VERY IMPORTANT)
  • My additions: fresh thyme and a whole bag/box/bunch of spinach

Directions

1. Bring 3/4 cup broth to a simmer in a large pot over medium-high heat.

2. Add onion, bell pepper and garlic and cook about 8 minutes or until onion is translucent and pepper is tender.

3. Stir in chili powder and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.

4. Add lentils, tomatoes and remaining 7 1/4 cups broth.

5. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, partially covered, 30 minutes or until lentils are almost tender.

6. Uncover and cook 10 minutes longer. * I stirred in fresh thyme and a whole page of spinach. Probably should have stirred in thyme earlier but it didn’t occur to me.

7. Stir in cilantro and serve.

HEARTY GREENS WITH HERBS AND WHITE BEANS

Nutrition Per serving: 210 calories (10 from fat), 1g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, 60mg sodium, 39g total carbohydrate (12g dietary fiber, 3g sugar), 14g protein

Ingredients

* Makes 4 servings.  I cut the recipe in half and got 3 servings.

  • 3/4 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 cup chopped white onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 pound (1 to 2 bunches) dark leafy greens, such as collards, kale or mustard greens (above), tough stems removed and leaves thinly sliced
  • 1 (15-ounce) can no-salt-added Great Northern or other white beans, rinsed and drained, or 1 1/2 cups cooked white beans
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions

1. Bring broth to a simmer in a large, high-sided skillet over medium-high heat.

2. Add onion and garlic and cook until tender, stirring occasionally, about 7 minutes.

3. Stir in greens, in batches if needed, along with beans, rosemary, thyme and crushed red pepper.

4. Cover, reduce heat to medium and cook 5 minutes, stirring once.

5. Uncover and cook another 2 minutes or until greens are very tender.

6. Stir in black pepper and serve. *Absolutely needs a little salt as well.

About me

This is the tumblr for my lifestyle blog MoreThanMary.com - a site that offers you my tips and tricks in fitness, fashion, food, and travel, so by the end of the week it's like you've read a magazine written by someone you trust.

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