Archive for March, 2011


Eating Locally

March 29, 2011

In the past 5 years, I’ve done a lot of reading and research on eating locally, on where to shop, on what it means to label something organic. Every winter I search through local community-supported agriculture shares, but inevitably I decide that a weekly commitment especially in the summer when I travel may not be the best idea. Sooo, I decided to try a similar share program where I opt in for however many weeks I want. Right now, I get all sorts of fruits and vegetables every other week. It’s amazing. I bet I’m ready to try a full CSA share before too long!

In my first week, I got lots of wonderful goodies:

  • Leeks
  • Arugula
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Cabbage
  • Red potatoes and
  • Shiitake mushrooms

Plus many juicy fruits:

  • Apples
  • Oranges
  • Bananas
  • Kiwis and
  • Pears

You can also add in special items with each delivery. There’s all sorts of cheese, yogurts, herbs, meats and more that you can pick from based on what you are hoping to cook. I asked for a bunch of fresh meyer lemons to use when making a batch of limoncello with some friends:

I’ll let you know how it works out, but at the very least, you can expect to see the fresh ingredients making appearances in dishes going forward.  A few were used in the Shepherd’s Pie I just posted, and the limoncello is steeping as I type!





Shepherd’s Pie

March 25, 2011

For many years, Shepherd’s Pie has been one of my top  comfort foods. It’s right up there with chicken pot pie and mac n cheese.  This one is full of ground lamb, mushrooms and yummy gravy.

You will need:

  • 2 lbs baby red bliss potatoes
  • 3 T sour cream
  • 1/2 c milk
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 T ground lamb
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 carrots, peeled + chopped
  • 8 oz mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 t paprika
  • 1 t garlic powder
  • 2 T butter
  • 2 T flour
  • 1 c stock
  • 2 t Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 c frozen peas

Then you…

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Place the potatoes in cold water in a pot; boil until  tender, about 10-12 minutes.
  3. Drain potatoes and put back in pan to steam off extra water. Mash with the sour cream and milk. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add the lamb & season with salt and pepper. Cook until golden.
  5. Add the onions, carrots and mushrooms. Saute another 5 minutes, until veggies just start to soften.
  6. In a small saucepan, melt the butter and stir in the flour. Cook for about 2 minutes to make the roux.
  7. Whisk in broth and Worcestershire sauce. Allow to simmer about 1 minute to thicken.
  8. Stir the gravy and peas into the lamb mixture.
  9. Spoon the lamb filling into a 13×9 baking dish. Spread the mashed potatoes over the filling. Bake 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are golden.

Spinach Artichoke Bread

March 18, 2011

This one comes from Cooking Light, but there is nothing about the taste that screams “I’m good for you!” It comes out creamy  on the inside and crispy on the outside, and it has all the best parts of spinach and artichoke dip. This is a great recipe for a party appetizer or side!

You will need:

  • 1 c (4 oz) crumbled feta cheese (I used fat-free)
  • 1/3 c (3 oz) low-fat cream cheese (I used a whipped cream cheese to make it lighter and easier to mix)
  • 1/2 t dried oregano
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1 can (14 oz) artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • 1 pkg (10 oz) frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained and squeezed dry
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 refrigerated pizza crust (can or fresh – I used a fresh whole wheat herb that I’d made)
  • Fresh grated Parmesan for topping, optional

Then you…

  1. Preheat your oven to 350. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (or lightly coat with non-stick cooking spray).
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the feta, cream cheese, oregano, salt, artichoke, spinach, garlic and egg white. Stir to mix well.
  3. On a lightly floured surface, roll the pizza dough into a rectangle about 8×12 inches.
  4. Spread the filling over the dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border.
  5. Beginning with a long edge, roll up the bread like a jelly-roll.
  6. Pinch seams and ends to seal closed.
  7. Place roll, seam side down, on prepared baking sheet. Cut diagonal slits on top of the roll to reveal filling, using a sharp knife.
  8. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden.
  9. If desired sprinkle with the Parmesan. Bake an additional 5 minutes or until cheese melts.
  10. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Blueberry (Pumpkin) Muffins

March 15, 2011

Yummy muffins! I added a 1/2 cup of pumpkin puree to these, because I had some on hand. If you don’t (or aren’t feeling the pumpkin), just leave it out! This makes one dozen regular-sized muffins.

You will need:

  • 2 c flour
  • 1 T baking powder
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/2 t ground nutmeg
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 c milk
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1/2 c applesauce
  • (1/2 c pumpkin puree – optional)
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1 1/2 c (~1 qt) fresh or unthawed frozen blueberries
  • 2 T flaxseeds (optional)

Then you…

  1. Preheat your oven to 375. Prepare muffin tins with paper liners or non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg together in a large mixing bowl.
  3. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, sugar, applesauce, (pumpkin,) and vanilla.
  4. Pour the liquid mixture into the flour mixture, and mix together just until the dry ingredients are moistened.
  5. Gently fold in the blueberries.
  6. Divide the batter among the muffin cups. Sprinkle tops with flaxseed, if you want.
  7. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, roughly 20-25 minutes.
  8. Allow to cool for a few minutes in the tins before removed and cooling completely on a wire rack.


Pan Roasted Cranberry Beans

March 12, 2011

When I was last in San Francisco, I made an excursion to the weekend Farmers’ Market down by the piers. Rancho Gordo had a stand with all sorts of fabulous looking dried heirloom beans. On a recommendation from a friend, I picked up a package of cranberry beans. These beans (sometimes called Borlotti beans) are certainly tasty. You don’t find them fresh most of the year, but the dried work quite well. They look like pinto beans, but have a different taste:

To prep the dried beans, you allow them to soak in water for at least 12 hours. Then rise prior to use. Note: 1 cup of the dried beans is roughly 3 cups of beans prepared.

You will need:

  • 3 c of re-hydrated cranberry beans (see above)
  • 3 T olive oil, divided
  • 2 T dried thyme
  • 1 T butter
  • 1 half small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and cut in half
  • 1 T dried basil
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 c fresh parsley, chopped

Then you…

  1. Put the beans in a large saucepan with enough water to cover by an inch or so. Add 1 T olive oil and 2 T dried thyme. Bring to a boil, and then simmer about 45 minutes or until the beans are softened through. Strain.
  2. In a large heavy skillet, head the remaining olive oil with the butter. Add in the beans, garlic and onion. Saute 5 minutes.
  3. Add basil and lemon juice. Continue to saute until cooked through and crispy on the outside.
  4. Season with the parsley, salt and pepper. Enjoy!



Goat Cheese Souffle

March 9, 2011

I adapted this recipe from one I found through Redwood Hill Farm, which is a dairy farm in Sonoma Valley. I figured if anyone knew what to do with some delicious goat cheese, it would be folks who put their heart and soul into making creamy cheeses and luscious milks. This is a savory souffle that is best shared with others.

You will need:

  • 1/4 c butter
  • 1/4 c flour
  • 1 c milk
  • 1/4 t ground mustard
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 8 oz goat cheese (I used a garlic and herb)
  • 6 T fresh chives, minced
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 4 eggs, separated

Then you…

  1. Preheat the oven to 300. Butter the inside of a 1.5 quart souffle dish.
  2. Melt the butter in a heavy, medium-sized sauce pan over medium heat. When foamy, whisk in the flour until smooth.
  3. Cook for 30 seconds, and then slowly whisk in the milk. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the sauce thickens, roughly 5 minutes.
  4. Whisk in the mustard powder and salt/pepper to taste.
  5. Stir in the goat cheese until incorporated into the sauce; remove from heat. Stir in the chives and lemon zest, and set aside to cool.
  6. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks in a small bowl until well blended and just starting to lighten in color.
  7. Beat the whites in a large bowl using an electric mixer until they form stiff peaks (think meringue).
  8. Stir the egg yolks into the cooled goat cheese mixture.
  9. Using a rubber spatula, folk in half of the beaten egg whites until they are just barely combined.
  10. Add the remaining whites and fold very gently. Don’t overmix or it won’t rise!
  11. Pour into the prepared baking dish.
  12. Bake until it has doubled in size and is lightly browned, approx. 35-40 minutes. Don’t open the oven until you are ready to remove the souffle.
  13. Serve immediately!


Creamy Salmon Dill Shells

March 5, 2011

My dad is a spectacular fellow, so when he volunteered to guest post on here, how could I say no? Last weekend he pulled out this healthy, yet flavorful dinner for my mom. In his words: “Dinner came out pretty good. Very tasty.” He served this low-fat pasta dish with a tossed salad, broccoli, multigrain rolls, and some wine. Hope you enjoy it too!

You will need:

  • 1 lb small pasta shells
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 8-oz bottle clam juice
  • 1/2 c dry white wine
  • 3/4 t dried thyme
  • 1/2 t dried dill
  • 1/2 lb salmon, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 c cucumber, peeled, seeded and sliced
  • 3 T flour
  • 1/4 c low-fat plain yogurt
  • 1/2 c reduced fat sour cream
  • 1 1/2 t Worcestershire sauce
  • 3/4 t salt
  • 1/4 t freshly ground pepper

Then you…

  1. Boil water and cook pasta until just tender. Drain well.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, combine shallots, clam juice, white wine, thyme and dill. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to a simmer.
  3. Add salmon and cucumber; cover and cook until salmon is just opaque, about 3 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the salmon and cucumber to a plate.
  4. In a small bowl, combine the flour and yogurt until blended. Stir the yogurt mixture into the remaining claim mixture in the saucepan. Cook, stirring, until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes.
  5. Stir in the sour cream.
  6. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl, and stir in the Worcestershire, salt and pepper. Add the pasta and toss to combine.
  7. Add the salmon and the cucumber, tossing gently to combine.
  8. Divide among 4 bowls, and serve!

Smokey Almond Crumble

March 1, 2011


The other day I picked up some almonds for snacking. Unfortunately (for me), I didn’t realize that they where smoked! The smokey flavor was good, but it was a bit more than I wanted on its own. So I chopped them up and added a little bit of caramelized sugar to make a yummy almond crumble. It’s sweet mixed with the smoke and is fun to snack on or sprinkle on top of yogurt or ice cream.

You will need:

  • 2 c smoked almonds, roughly chopped
  • 1 1/2 c sugar
  • 4 T water

Then you…

  1. Preheat the oven to 400. Spread the chopped almonds on a baking sheet and toast for about 5 minutes, or until fragrant and starting to turn golden. Set aside to cool.
  2. Grease a second baking sheet with butter.
  3. In a heavy-bottom saucepan , mix together the sugar and the water. Make sure there are no extra crystals on the edges or your sugar won’t caramelize right.
  4. Heat on medium without stirring until it comes to a boil. As it starts to turn golden (about 10 minutes), mix in the nuts. Spread on the buttered sheet and allow to cool.
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