Saturday, June 30, 2012

One-Pan Dinners: Couscous!

You know what? I frikkin' LOVE couscous.  Boil water, stir in, cover and remove from heat.  Come back in five minutes.  Genius, I tell you!

Anyway, tonight's dinner was a delicious throw-together: crumbled Italian pork sausage with onions and zucchini, veggie stock and the couscous.  It took all of fifteen minutes to put together, from the start.

One-Pan Couscous
1-2 T olive oil
1 link (about 1/3 lb) Italian pork sausage, crumbled
1/2 a sweet yellow onion, chopped
1 large or 2 small zucchini, chopped
2-3/4 c. vegetable stock
1-1/2 c. French couscous (the tiny kind)

Heat pan, add oil, saute onion.  Add sausage and brown; add chopped zucchini and cook until desired tenderness.  Add stock, bring to a full rolling boil.  Stir in couscous, remove from heat and cover for 5 min.  Fluff with a fork and dig in!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Clean-out-the-cabinets Vegetarian Night

Feeling dirt-ass poor tonight, so it was "how do I use what I've got and make a whole meal?"

There were red lentils in the cupboard, and a little rice left in the canister, a couple cloves of garlic, some onion, and about a third of the kale from the CSA this week.  Veggie stock I made last night.  That was dinner, and in this combination:

Rice-Cooker Rice and Lentils
  • Equal parts brown rice and red lentils*
  • Twice that amount of veggie stock* or water
  • Two cloves of garlic, crushed or minced or whatever
  • A pat of butter or a dribble of oil
  • Salt
Throw all that in a rice cooker.   Turn it on cook and let it go until it clicks off.

Cut thin slices off the onion so that they form rings.  Saute these briefly in a skillet, in either oil or butter.  Once they're clear/browned/caramelized, remove from pan and set aside.

Top lentil mixture with onions and eat up!

Skillet Greens
  • 1-2 T butter or oil
  • 1 clove garlic (or the remains from pressed garlic, which I used
  • about 1/2 cup water
  • fresh greens (kale, chard, collards, mustard, spinach, or whatever)
  • lemon juice or vinegar of your choice
Rince greens in cold water.  Heat the skillet (I used the same one I'd just cooked the onions in) and tear up the greens, still slightly wet, into the pan.  (For tender greens like spinach and chard, the stems can be chopped and added before the leaves.  For kale, the stems went into the veggie bag.) Cover and let steam slightly, adding the 1/2 of water if they start to sear.  Cover again and let steam until greens are tender (about 5-6 minutes for kale) and add butter/oil and garlic.

Saute just a bit, then remove from heat before they greens get scorched.  Sprinkle with lemon/vinegar and salt, if desired.

*Lentils:  Any kind of lentils will work.  Red lentils turn this into a stew/casserole, depending on how much liquid is left.  They fall apart, seriously.  Brown lentils retain a slightly crunchy beaniness if not cooked a bit beforehand, so if you want them soft, they'll have to go in at least partially pre-cooked.  Haven't done this with green or black lentils.

*Vegetable Stock: I save all my veggie scraps in the freezer in a much-reused gallon-sized plastic bag, until the bag gets full.  Then I dump the contents into a stock pot, cover with water, salt lightly, and boil the stuffing out of it.  When all the veggie scraps are looking like all the life is out of them, I remove the solids, run the liquid through a strainer-inside-a-funnel into a jar, and there you have it.  (By the way, my "funnel" is the cut off top of a gallon milk jug.)

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Chicken Wings in Three Styles

I seem to be in an improvisational mood these days.

Chicken Wings in Three Styles

Marinate chicken wings in any of the following marinades: the longer, the better.

1: Buffalo Wings
  • Buffalo wing sauce (I use Frank's Red Hot)
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Oregano
  • Garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper, as desired
2: Balsamic Wings
  • Olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Basil
  • Oregano
  • Garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper, as desired
3: Sweet Smoky Wings
  • Olive oil
  • Ketchup
  • Sweet spicy mustard
  • Garlic powder
  • Oregano
  • a few drops of Liquid Smoke
  • Chili powder
  • Cumin
  • Salt and pepper, as desired
Bake wings at 350 degrees F (175 C), turning once to brown evenly, if necessary.  I bake mine on a roasting pan, so that the juices drip down and the skin gets crispy.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Beef and mushroom cabbage wraps

These wraps are made with beef from a friend's farm. We get our meat and eggs directly from an awesome young woman farmer, and I love it that we can support her in building her business. If you don't want to use beef, you could probably sub pretty much any ground meat you like. I think I may try doing them with pork sometime soon.

I'd originally intended to do lettuce wraps, but I couldn't find lettuce that would work well for wrapping, so I ended up using savoy cabbage. I find it actually works pretty well and tastes great, although it's maybe not as flexible as lettuce, so it's a little more prone to cracking and allowing drips. But if you're eating wraps with your fingers, you should be the sort of person who's okay with drips, right?

Yes, I ate three of them. Actually, I didn't. I ate five.

Once again, I sort of made this up as I went along.

extra-virgin coconut oil
one medium onion, diced
six cloves of garlic, smashed
fresh ginger, about 1.5" piece, minced
one pound of ground beef
gluten-free tamari
sesame oil
mushrooms, chopped coarsely, maybe 3/4 cup or so
savoy cabbage

Onions and garlic are the default start to about 95% of my cooking.

In a large skillet, heat coconut oil over medium heat. Add onions, cook until translucent, then add garlic and ginger--be careful not to burn them. Next, add the beef to the pan and brown it. Throw in the mushrooms, a good splash of tamari, and a glug of sesame oil. Cook for a few minutes until mushrooms are soft and it seems done enough.

While filling is cooking, tear off some cabbage leaves and put them on a plate. Chop up some cilantro.

Fill leaves with meat and mushroom mixture, then top with a swirl of sriracha (yes, it's not paleo, and no, I don't care) and a sprinkle of cilantro.

To eat, fold cabbage around filling with your hands. Expect that it will drip a little. That's okay, you can eat those bits with a spoon or do what I do if nobody's looking and lick your plate.

Nom nom nom.

Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie

So we had a TON of veggies to use, some from this week's CSA, and some from the previous (two weeks ago), and I just wanted to do something... different.

So: The potatoes from the last CSA went on to boil, and the rest of the veggies got diced and sauteed, and I threw in seasonings. Into a pan, cover with potatoes (mashed with butter and chunks of cheese thrown in) and it's PIE.

  • 2 T or so olive oil (or butter, whatever) 
  • 1/2 a medium onion, chopped 
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery 
  • 2 carrots, chopped 
  • 1/2 a bell pepper, chopped 
  • 1/2 cup fava or lima beans 
  • 1 zucchini, chunked or chopped 
  • 1 t dried thyme 
  • 1 T Worcestershire sauce (or to taste) 
  • 1 T balsamic vinegar 
  • 1 T sweet-spicy mustard 
  • 1/4 t garlic powder OR 1 clove garlic, chopped/minced 
  • 4-5 medium potatoes, cut into 1/2" chunks (about 1 lb.) 
  • salt, pepper, and any other seasonings to taste 
  • 2 T butter 3 oz aged cheese, cubed (we had aged gouda on hand, but anything would work)  


Start potatoes to boil in a 3-qt. saucepan with enough water to cover. Salt as desired (I use a teaspoon or two). Let come to a rolling boil, then cook until fork-tender. Remove from heat; set aside.

Heat olive oil/butter in a skillet, adding onion, celery, bell pepper, carrots and fava beans. Saute until onion is clear; add zucchini. Toss lightly with Worcestershire, balsamic, garlic and thyme until coated, letting simmer briefly. Remove from heat and mix in mustard.

Lightly grease a 2-qt. baking dish, and layer bottom of pan with vegetable mixture. Mash potatoes with a little butter, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper as desired. Fold in cheese; cover vegetable layer with potatoes.

Heat oven to 350 degrees F (175 C); bake 15-20 minutes until vegetable mixture is bubbly and potatoes are lightly browned. You may put a few small bits of butter on top of the potatoes halfway through if you're feeling as luxurious as I was tonight. Let stand a bit maybe, or just dig in.


It's pretty tasty. Good mix of flavors - savory without being either spicy or bland.

I love summer.

It's already hot here and I don't love to cook anyway. So here's my quick, early dinner:

2 eggs, lightly scrambled and cooked in olive oil
Leftover diced tomato
A small handful of arugula (which I recently found out is what they call rocket in the UK), drizzled with lemon-flavored fish oil, sea salt, and ground black pepper
Some canned black beans, rinsed
A small avocado

I had some unsweetened chilled ice tea with it, too. Yum!

By the way, this sort of meal could easily be made vegetarian by drizzling the arugula with olive oil instead of fish oil, or even just lemon juice. I ate it with the egg and it was a really interesting mix of flavors.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Chocolate Cake with Ganache

I had a party for my birthday last night, and I wanted a chocolate bundt cake with ganache topping. I don't like sweet frosting, but rich chocolate is one of my favorite things. So I decided to make my own cake. I made the actual cake from a box mix, and I turned to the Internet for tips on how to make the ganache.

I heated 1 c. of cream on low heat until it was just starting to boil, stirring often to keep the skin off. Then I whisked in 1 bag of Ghiradelli 60% cacao chocolate chips. I took it off the heat for a few minutes, and then poured it over my cake.

If you want the ganache to set, you'd put it in the fridge overnight. I chose to let the ganache remain a bit gooey. The ratio of chocolate to cream was right, although I'd halve the recipe next time, as it made more ganache than I really needed to cover one cake.

It turned out really well. My friends loved it, and it tasted exactly as I'd imagined. The ganache kept the cake itself moist, and gave it a rich, dark chocolate flavor. Because it's so rich, it's completely satisfying after only one piece. Ganache is easier to make than I imagined, so I will definitely be making it again in the future.

It also went well with my after-dinner cup of Earl Grey Creme.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Dandelion Greens with Hot Bacon Dressing

I got a new cookbook! Well technically an e-book. . . But still! Aren't cookbooks exciting? And this one seems like it'll be a real winner. It's The Farm by Ian Knauer, and it's full of delicious-looking recipes, beautiful pictures, and lots of stories from life on his family's farm. For my inaugural recipe, I chose this dandelion greens salad. This was my first attempt at foraging for my food, and I did feel a little silly crouching in the parking strip picking young dandelion leaves. I wondered what people driving by thought of me. But after I made and consumed this salad, I don't care anymore.

Dandelion greens are bitter, but in the book Knauer specifically recommends picking very young leaves, from plants that haven't flowered yet. Also, the dressing perfectly complements the bitterness with all the fatty bacon goodness and sugar. Altogether a mix of intense flavors, cheap, easy to make; and eating a bowlful of weeds makes you feel like a total badass.

The recipe in the book is for 4-6 servings, and since it was only me I halved it, but still had to give one quarter of it to the dogs! They liked it too. Here's how I made it.


2 slices bacon, chopped
Half a shallot, finely chopped
1 small egg
1/6 C water
1 1/2 T apple cider vinegar
1/2 T sugar
A medium-size colander's worth of young dandelion greens
Black pepper


Cook the bacon in a large heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer the bacon to drain on paper towels, reserving the fat in the skillet.

Turn heat to low, add the shallot, and cook until soft, 4 to 6 minutes.

Whisk together the egg, vinegar, and water. Add the sugar and 1/4 t salt to the skillet, stir, and then add the egg mixture. Whisk constantly to avoid curdling. When the dressing has thickened, pour over the greens and stir to coat. The greens will get a little wilted. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Lemon Tart

I recently became aware of an adorable online magazine called Sweet Paul, and was inspired to create this Lemon Tart.

Now, in reality the recipe calls for Meyer lemons rather than regular ones, but I was put off at the grocery store by the fact that they were $4.99/lb! I figured a normal, $0.99/lb lemon would work fine. And you know, it sort of did, but the large proportion of pith of a regular lemon compared to a Meyer lemon did make it much more bitter than I presume one made according to the recipe would be. It doesn't taste horrible, but I love bitter foods, so maybe to others it would be inedible. Who knows! So I'm going to copy the recipe straight from the magazine here, and you can decide if you'd like to spring for the fancy lemons or not.

I also didn't have vanilla ice cream to accompany the tart, so I topped it with some ricotta blobs and fresh raspberries, which was pretty delicious.


1 frozen puff pastry, thawed
5 Meyer lemons
1 cup sugar
2 T confectioner's sugar
Vanilla ice cream


Preheat oven to 390 degrees. Roll out the puff pastry to a little larger than its size, using a bit of flour to keep it from sticking to the work surface. Place pastry on a baking tray covered with parchment paper. Slice the lemons as thinly as possible and remove the seeds. Dip the lemon slices in sugar and arrange on the pastry. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and sprinkle with confectioner's sugar. Let cool for a bit, then eat!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Pizza with Pesto, Spinach, Mushrooms, Bacon, and Ricotta

This isn't really a pizza recipe post, since I'm sure y'all can figure out how to put toppings on a store bought crust and bake it, but I did want to share a picture and maybe inspire some pizza-creation!

I bought the only pre-made crusts at the store, little two-packs of gluten free frozen crusts by Udi's. They are pretty good, though they're really more like pitas than pizza crusts. Then I topped it with homemade pesto, layered on the veggies and bacon, spooned some ricotta on top, and finished with some olive oil and fresh ground black pepper.

When it came to baking, I experimented by putting a foot-square piece of Carrara marble I liberated (with permission) from a former employer into the oven to act as a pizza stone. I don't have a lot of experience making my own pizzas but I've heard a pizza stone is a good thing for getting the crust nice and crispy on the bottom. And what do you know, it worked! Amazing.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Salmon Rice Bowls

Rice is a debatable ingredient among paleo eaters, so this one isn't 100% paleo, but whatevs. I deadlifted 253 pounds today--a new PR--and then did "Jackie" (1000m row, 50 thrusters, 30 pullups). I'm eating whatever I want, not because I "earned it" by working out but because I dare anyone to stand between me and my dinner tonight.


16 oz wild pacific salmon
6 baby bok choy
1 1/2 cups white rice
extra-light olive oil
toasted sesame oil (cold pressed, unrefined)
gluten-free tamari
five spice powder
4 cloves garlic
1 tbsp minced ginger
1/4 cup water

This is one of those meals where I made it up as I went along, so I didn't really plan ahead or measure anything. First of all, I cooked up a pot of white rice. I then started two cast iron pans heating on the stove, both over medium heat. In one, I put some extra light olive oil (chosen for flavour neutrality, so use whatever oil you like), some sesame oil, and a good shot of five spice powder. In the other, I added some finely chopped garlic and some minced ginger to some more olive oil and sesame oil.

While that was heating up, I cleaned and separated some baby bok choy. I threw the bok choy into the pan with the five spice powder and added a couple of tablespoons of gluten-free tamari and about 1/4 cup of water.

In the other pan, I put four wild salmon fillets and let it cook on one side. While it was cooking, I stirred up the bok choy a bit. I then flipped over the salmon and added a splash of tamari to the pan. As the salmon was finishing cooking, I took a couple of deep bowls out of the cupboard and put about 3/4 cup of rice in the bottom of each, layering the bok choy on top of that. I then returned the pan from the bok choy to the stove and turned the heat up to reduce the remaining liquid into a sauce. I topped each bowl with two pieces of salmon and then poured the sauce over top.



Sunday, May 6, 2012

Sweet Potato Salad

So I'm finally getting in on the EWF fun! I should start off and introduce myself. I'm Bird, and I'm the resident paleo. No, that doesn't mean I go around in a fur bikini eating raw meat. It also doesn't mean I'm into low carb or weird evo-psych theories about gender roles.

I focus on eating whole foods, preferably from local, organic sources. This means a lot of vegetables (soon to be coming from the CSA we've joined), good eggs from chickens that get to scratch in the sunshine, and meats from a woman farmer friend of mine--yay for supporting feminist enterprises! Along with that I eat some fruit, some nuts, and sometimes a bit of good quality dairy. I have celiac disease, so I have been gluten free for about five years now, and going paleo wasn't a big shift. I feel healthier and happier eating this way, and I've also gained a closer connection to my food and local farming community.

So, on to the food! Today's recipe is a paleo sweet potato salad that's vegetarian-friendly too.

Sweet potato salad goodness

One of the tricky things about eating gluten and grain free is sharing a meal with vegetarian friends. Yesterday my partner and I were invited to dinner with friends, and I needed to bring a side dish to share. I knew other people were bringing green salads, so I wanted a starch dish that would be exciting and easy to transport to a potluck. I had some sweet potatoes in the pantry and some homemade mayo in the fridge, so I thought a sweet potato salad sounded like a great idea. I looked around online and found a lot of the recipes included bacon--not exactly a vegetarian option. So, how to get that umami taste without adding meat? Sundried tomatoes to the rescue! However, it still needed a little bit balance it, so I also used a tablespoon of dijon mustard, which balanced nicely with the sweetness from the potatoes, and green onions added flavour and an appealing crunch.

Sundried tomatoes make me want to eat them like candy


2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced into 1/2" cubes
2 tbsp coconut oil
8 hardboiled eggs, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup homemade mayonnaise
6 sundried tomatoes (packed in olive oil), chopped
1 tbsp dijon mustard
4 green onions, chopped
sea salt

Sweet potatoes in the pan


Heat coconut oil in a deep cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add sweet potato chunks and cook until browned and soft. Transfer to large mixing bowl and set aside to cool.

Once potatoes have cooled, add eggs, mayo, tomatoes, mustard, and onions, and mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Gorgeous eggs from Meadow Creek Farm

Friday, May 4, 2012

Chile Sin Carne al Mole: A Tragedy

Here is another recipe from Vegan With A Vengeance, by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. I was very excited to make this chili because I adore mole, and let me tell you, if I was the type of person who liked really spicy food, I would be raving about it. Unfortunately I can't handle it. I am going to make this again and tone down the spice, probably by omitting the chile powder and just use the jalapeño.

It was a pretty big letdown to not be able to eat my creation, especially after I dressed it up with avocado slices and plain yogurt. However, I didn't want it to go to waste, so I put it in the freezer and have been trying to foist it off on my heat-loving friends. I almost would've gotten rid of a container of it today, too, if my friend's bag hadn't been too full already!

So my final review is, make this according to the recipe I'm posting if you like spicy food, and proceed with caution and experiment with the spice if you're a little more sensitive.


1/3 cup olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 small jalapeño, minced
1 small red bell pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, smashed
1 pound seitan, coarsely chopped into 1/4" cubes
2 T chile powder
1 t ground cinnamon
1/2 t ground cumin
1 (28 oz) can whole peeled tomatoes in sauce
3 T cocoa powder
3 T blackstrap molasses
2 (14 oz) cans pinto beans, drained and well rinsed
2 1/2 cups vegetable broth


Preheat a Dutch oven or large pot over medium-high heat; pour in and heat the olive oil. Add the onions and peppers and sauté for two minutes, then add the garlic and seitan. Cook for eight minutes, until onions are soft. Add the chile powder, cinnamon, and cumin, stirring constantly for another minute. Add the tomatoes, cocoa powder, and molasses. Stir and break up the tomatoes with the back of a spoon, then add the beans and vegetable broth. Cover and bring to a gentle boil, then lower the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes. Allow to sit at least 20 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Blondeez Daily Diary Tuesday

Happy May! 

I started the day thankful that the kid stayed mostly asleep and totally fever-free through the night.  I threw together a hot breakfast of Turkey-Apple Hash and made twin tuna salads for CJ and me for lunch.  I grabbed a hard boiled egg to eat late morning before my workout, then afterwards had that tuna salad over arugula with some homemade applesauce.  Some pistachios and grapefruit hit the spot for a snack, and dinner was leftover carnitas and roasted brussels sprouts.  All in all a good day!

Turkey-Apple Hash
Serves 4-8, depending on how hungry you are
Prep Time: 5 min
Cook Time: 15 min
  • 2 Tbsp. cooking fat (I used ghee)
  • 1 tsp. garam masala
  • 1.5 lbs ground turkey
  • 2 Fuji apples, peeled, cored, and grated
  • 1 zucchini or summer squash, diced
Melt cooking fat in large pan over medium heat and add the garam masala, cooking about 2 minutes to infuse.  Add the ground meat to the pan and brown.  Add the apples and squash and cover for about 5 min, or until squash begins to soften.  Remove cover and allow liquid from apples to cook off, stirring frequently.

Fancy Tuna Salad
Serves 1-2
Prep Time: 10 min
  • 1 can tuna
  • 1/2 large fennel bulb, diced and 1 tsp. fennel greens
  • 1/2 shallot, diced small
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 2 Tbsp. capers
  • 1 tsp. dried or fresh dill
  • 2-3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
Combine all ingredients, adding oil just to the desired consistency.  Throw in whatever else you have around that sounds good:  olives, sun dried tomatoes, etc.  Serve on bread or over salad greens.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts (Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook)
Serves: 2-4
Prep Time: 5 min
Cook Time: 40 min
  • 1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts
  • 3 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Cut off the brown ends of the Brussels sprouts and pull off any yellow outer leaves. Mix them in a bowl with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Pour them on a sheet pan and roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. Shake the pan from time to time to brown the sprouts evenly. Sprinkle with more kosher salt ( I like these salty like French fries), and serve immediately.

Blondeez Weekend Plus One

This weekend the kiddo had a fever that lasted through Monday, so there was more caring for her and less cooking than usual.  For the most part I can't even remember what I ate, so it's definitely not interesting enough to share!  Leftovers, mostly, though I also made a strawberry rhubarb crumble that I polished off almost single-handedly.  Sunday I made it out to grocery shop and made carnitas as well as some other stuff I'll be eating later this week.  Yesterday we indulged some cravings and had pizza and ice cream to celebrate the kid having her appetite back.

Blondeez Daily Diary Friday

Apple Raisin Irish Oatmeal warmed me up after a quick bike ride this morning.  Lunch was leftovers from last night, and homemade applesauce as a snack.

Dinner was a one-pot slow cooker meal that I love--Curried Chicken and  Rice.  Since I had the greens left from the beets I looked up an indian-inspired recipe and came up with Braised Beet Greens, which added a little more greenery to our meal. 

Curried Chicken and Rice (from Slow Cooker Revolution)
Serves 6-8
Prep Time: 20 min
Cook Time: 4-6 hours
  • 3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 2 onions, minced
  • 1 jalapeno chile, stemmed, seeded, and minced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. minced or grated ginger
  • 1 Tbsp. curry powder
  • 1 tsp. garam masala
  • 3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1 14-oz. can light coconut milk
  • 2 lbs. boneless, skinless, chicken thighs, trimmed
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 cups instant brown rice
  • 1/2 head cauliflower (~1 lb.), cored and cut into 1-inch florets
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 3 Tbsp. sliced almonds, toasted
  • 2 Tbsp. minced fresh cilantro
Heat 2 Tbsp. of the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering.  Add onions, jalapeno, garlic, ginger, curry, and garam masala and cook until vegetables are soft and lightly browned, 8-10 min.  Stir in flour and cook for 1 min.  Slowly whisk incoconut milk, scraping up any browned bits and smoothing out lumps, then transfer to slow cooker.

Season chicken with salt and pepper, add to slow cooker, and coat evenly with sauce.  Cover and cook until chicken is tender, 4-6 hours on low.  Break up chicken into bite-size pieces with wooden spoon.  Stir in rice and 1 tsp. salt, cover, and cook on high until rice is tender, 20-30 min.

Microwave cauliflower with remaining 1 Tbsp. oil in a large bowl, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 4 min.  Stir softened cauliflower and peas into slow cooker and let sit until heated through, about 5 min.  Sprinkle with almonds and cilantro and serve.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Blondeez Daily Diary Thursday

Breakfast and lunch were not that exciting today--greek yogurt with honey plus Fruit and Nut Granola for breakfast, then leftover Beef, Tomato, and Sweet Potato Stew and Quinoa Tabbouleh for lunch after my second CrossFit workout.  I had some more of that homemade applesauce for a snack.  But dinner was the main event!

First, I had marinated Damn Fine Chicken Wednesday night, which I've been excited to try. And wow, it totally lived up to expectations!  I am so excited to eat more for lunch tomorrow.

Next I made Oven Roasted Golden Beets--my first time cooking beets, which the kid's day care says she loves. 

Then I added steamed artichokes (I really can't get enough of them!).  It made a really colorful plate with the chicken and beets, and of course I finally remembered to take pictures of everything so the blog is prettier!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Blondeez Daily Diary Wednesday

Not much to report today, no new recipes, but getting ready for more cooking later in the week.  Apple and Raisin Irish Oatmeal for breakfast, then I caved to the delicious aroma of Patxi's pizza for lunch at work (caved in the sense that I had brought lunch and instead paid for the pizza--I am trying not to assign value to the food itself except in terms of deliciousness!).  I met up with a friend for coffee in the afternoon and introduced him to the awesomeness of Zombie Runner--a running store in an old theater with the best espresso in Palo Alto.  He had a decaf espresso, I had a chai latte, and we split some mexican-style salted almond dark chocolate.

I stopped at a farmers market-style grocery on the way home for a few ingredients and the kid and I munched on fresh strawberries that were priced to sell (I love living in California!) while we shopped.  By the time I got home and marinated some chicken for tomorrow, I wasn't really hungry for dinner, so for the first time as long as I can remember, I skipped it.  Weird.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Blondeez Intermittent Diary

Let's just call it what it is. ;)

Sunday I basically had one long meal, for the birthday party.  I snacked on things while I was cooking, then had leftovers for dinner, so I'll just tell you what I made for the party!  I made Baked Kale Chips as an appetizer, and guacamole (vague instructions below) that I served with salsa and tortilla chips also as a munchie snack. Then CJ fired up our grill to cook the marinated tri-tip (I bought it pre-marinated because it was on sale, actually cheaper than the same quality meat without marinade), Lemon Chicken drumsticks that I marinated the night before, and salmon fillets (loose recipe below).  I threw Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Bacon in the oven and then Broiled Zucchini, and only barely remembered to get out the Quinoa Tabbouleh I made the night before!

The cake was a gluten-free devil's food cake with homemade vanilla buttercream (recipe below), which my mom and I cut up into a duck, like she used to make me as a kid.  Ours looked like this, but there are lots of animal cut-up cakes here.  We paired it with vanilla bean ice cream and good company!

On Monday I had the delicious Apple Raisin Irish Oatmeal for breakfast after a short run.  For lunch, I met some friends at LYFE kitchen, where I had the grilled artichokes with lemon aiol, roasted beets & farro salad (organic field greens, whole-grain farro, roasted beets & fennel, oranges, walnuts, dried cranberries, pomegranate, red onion, basil, and maple-sherry vinaigrette) and a pineapple-coconut-lime cooler.  After the weekend of intense cooking I pulled out a carton of organic tomato soup and made grilled cheese using whole wheat bread and muenster cheese, and some baby spinach.  Plus birthday cake for dessert!

Today I polished off the birthday cake before I left for work, then had greek yogurt with honey as a mid-morning snack.  I went to my first official CrossFit workout at noon, then had leftover beef and sweet potato stew and quinoa tabbouleh for lunch.  When I got home I put artichokes on the stove to steam and fried up a few eggs for a very quick dinner.

Grilled Salmon (from a friend of my mom's)
Serves: however many you want
Cook Time: ~20 minutes
  • Salmon fillets (~4 oz. per person)
  • butter
  • soy sauce (I used wheat-free organic because one of my guests is celiac)
  • minced garlic
Lay salmon on a generously-sized piece of heavy duty foil.  Dot with butter and garlic and drizzle with soy sauce.  Wrap the foil to seal around the fish, then put on a hot grill for about 20 minutes, or until done.  The fish is basically steamed in its packet!

Guacamole (made up as I went along)
Serves: 6-8
Prep Time: 5 min.
  • 4 avocados
  • 1/2 jalapeno
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder (or minced garlic)
  • 1-2 Tbsp. lemon or lime juice 
  • salsa
Mash up the avocados and then stir in the rest to your own taste.

Buttercream Frosting (courtesy of my mom's brain)
Frosts one 9" round cake (double if you're doing a layer cake)
Prep Time: 4 min.
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 lb. powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2-3 Tbsp. milk (to desired texture)
Whip the butter until light and airy, then add most of the powdered sugar gradually, mixing slowly at first.  Alternate with the liquids as needed until you reach the desired texture.  You can add other flavors or colors to match your cake!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Blondeez Daily Diary Saturday and Party Prep

I sort of made up for lost time today by spending most of it planning, shopping, and cooking!  My parents helped by entertaining the kid and acting as prep chefs.  Some cooking for today, some for the week to come, and a lot for tomorrow, when we're having a small family party for the kid's second birthday (around 20 people--yes, for my family, that's small!).  Among the guests we have two celiac, one allergic to eggs, a couple paleo fans, one who doesn't eat beef, and one who has problems with ulcers and heartburn.  So on the one hand, most of those food preferences go together.  On the other, it was a lot to think about.

I made a gluten free devil's food cake from a mix (pics tomorrow when it's frosted!) because I couldn't justify buying the ingredients for making it from scratch when I'm not likely to use most of them in the future.  The girl who is allergic to eggs will have her own vegan dessert, thanks to her mom telling me there was no need to try to make an egg and gluten free cake.

First thing, it was high time I made breakfasts for the week.  I cleaned up the slow cooker and made steel cut oats with apples and raisins.

As long as I was chopping apples, I also whipped up some homemade apple sauce on the stove.  The kid loves it and we're working on getting more fruit into her.

By the time those were done it was about time to start dinner!  I pulled out the paleo cookbook for Moroccan Chicken, and then because my parents and the kid are anything but paleo, we added some soft polenta made in the microwave, which was super easy.  And yummy!

After dinner, I threw together more food for tomorrow.  First up, Quinoa Tabbouleh, which I'm super excited for as it's a great high-protein carb with lots of veggies, and everyone except the hardcore paleo types can eat it.

Then I marinated some drumsticks and squeezed a whole lotta lemons (from my parents' backyard) so we can have fresh lemonade tomorrow.  Can't wait!

Irish Oatmeal with Apples and Raisins (America's Test Kitchen's Slow Cooker Revolution)
Serves 8
Prep Time: 20 min
Cook Time: 4 hours
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 2 cups steel cut oats
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 lb. apples (3-3), cored and shredded
  • 1/2 cup dried apples, cut into 1/2 inch pieces 
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. salt
Melt butter in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat.  Add oats and toast, stirring constantly, until golden and fragrant, about 2 minutes; transfer to slow cooker.

Stir water, apples, dried apples, raisins, sugar, cunnamon, and salt into slow cooker.  Cover and cook until oats are softened and thickened, 4-6 hours on low.  Let oatmeal sit for 10 minutes; stir well adn swerve.  Oatmeal can be refrigerated for up to 4 days.  Reheat oatmeal either in microwave or in a heavy-bottomed saucepan.

Apple Sauce (The UltraMetabolism Cookbook)
Serves 4
Prep Time: 15 min
Cook Time: 40 min
  •  4 large apples (about 2 lbs.) cored and cut into chunks
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • small pinch allspice
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
Place the apples in a large pan with the water.  Cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Reduce heat to medium and cook the apples until they are soft, about 20-25 min.  When the apples are cooked, remove only the apples to the bowl of a food processor, fitted with a metal blade, leaving cooking liquid in the pan.

Bring the remaining cooking liquid in the pan to a boil over high heat until it reduces to about 1 or 2 tablespoons (it is like syrup).  Add the reduced liquid from the pan to the food processor along with the cinnamon, allspice, and lemon juice, and process to the desired consistency.

 Moroccan Chicken (from Whole9 Nutrition Guide)
Serves 2-4
Cook Time: 25 min.
  • 2 Tbsp. cooking fat, divided
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 3 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 tsp. coriander
  • 1/4 tsp. saffron
  • 1 can artichoke hearts, halved
  • 3-6 sundried tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 lb. diced chicken breast
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 cup kalamata or black olives
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
Heat 1 Tbsp. of cooking fat in a large skillet.  Saute the onion and garlic for about 3 minutes, add the spices, and saute for another 2 minutes.  Add the artichokes and tomatoes, cook for 2 more minutes, then place the mixture aside in a bowl.  Add the second Tbsp. of  cooking fat to the skillet, then add the diced chicken.  Cook for 5 minutes, turning the meat often, until the chicken is browned.  Add the veggies back in, then add the parsley, olives,, and lemon juice.  Stir and cook until the juices reduce--5 to 7 minutes.

Soft Polenta in the Microwave (credit to my mom)
Serves 4
Cook time: 15 min.
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 tsp. butter
  • pinch fresh ground pepper
  • 2 tsp. blue cheese (or other cheese, or additional butter)
Combine water, cornmeal, and salt in a microwave-safe dish (at least 6 cups).  Stir and microwave uncovered for 5 min on high.  Stir well, cover loosely with a paper towel, and microwave for another 5 minutes on high.  Stir in butter, pepper, and cheese (or butter), then let cool and thicken for at least 3 minutes before serving.

Blondeez Not Daily At All Anymore Diary--Weekend Update

The week got away from me, in many ways, so I'll just catch you up on meals and recipes of note.  There weren't many.   Seriously, I was in survival mode this week.  But my parents arrived on Thursday to celebrate the kid's birthday, so we had a decent dinner that night!  I roasted a chicken and potatoes and steamed artichokes, then put together a salad with 50/50 lettuce and spinach, avocado, cucumber, and yogurt blue cheese dressing.  A bottle of chardonnay and we were a very happy bunch!  No recipes except for the chicken, which comes from my favorite basic, delicious food book.  How to Cook Everything is a great reference manual--I have often had a random thought or ingredient and looked up his instructions.  A lot of times I have another recipe in mind, but he explains technique with illustrations (like how to truss and carve poultry!) and has wonderfully simple recipes that can be dressed up or dressed down. 

Then last night my parents were at a cousin's for dinner so CJ made crock pot Beef and Sweet Potato Stew, which was a great and comforting meal after a long week.

Roast Chicken with Roasted New Potatoes (from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything)
Serves 4
Cook Time: 60-75 min
  • 6 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. fresh (or 2 tsp. dried) herbs--thyme, rosemary, marjoram, oregano, or sage
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 whole (3-4 lb.) chicken, trimmed of excess fat, then rinsed and patted dry.
  • 1 1/2 lbs. waxy red or white potatoes, skins on a scrubbed (either baby/new or cut into chunks)
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Mix together the olive oil, herb, salt, and pepper.  Place the chicken, breast side down, on a rack in a roasting pan.  Toss half of the herb mixture with the potatoes and scatter them in the pan.  Begin roasting.

After about 20 minutes, take the pan out and spoon some of the oil mixture over the chicken and potatoes, then turn the chicken breast side up.  Shake the pan for the potatoes turn and cook evenly.  Roast another 7-8 minutes, or until the breast begins to brown.  Turn the heat down to 325 degrees F and baste the chicken again with the rest of the oil mixture.  Roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh read 160-165 degrees F.  Total roasting time will be 50-70 min.

Remove the chicken and test potatoes for doneness.  If the potatoes are not soft, turn the heat up to 425 degrees F and roast for a few minutes while the chicken rests.

Beef and Sweet Potato Stew (crock pot) (from The Paleo Recipe Book)
Serves 4
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 8 hours
  • 1 lb. beef chuck or otehr stewing cut, in 1-inch cubes
  • 3 cups sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • pinch allspice
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 large onion, cut in chunks
  • 1 can (28 oz.) tomatoes
  • 8 dried apricots, halved (optional)
  • chopped parsley for garnish
  • cooking fat (we used walnut oil)
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Heat a skillet over a medium heat, season the beef cubes to taste with salt and pepper and brown on all sides with some cooking fat in the hot skillet.

Place the browned beef, sweet potatoes, garlic, allspice, bay leaf, cinnamon stick, onion, and tomatoes in a crock pot and cook on high for 8 hours, until the beef is fork tender.  Add the dried apricots and cook, covered, for another 20 min until the apricots are soft.

Remove the bay leaf and cinnamon stick before serving with chopped parsley on top.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Blondeez Daily Diary Monday

They day started out inauspiciously, with yogurt and honey and then lunch eaten quickly from the catered lunch at work.  But then dinner happened!  Dinner was a sweet potato, apple, and sausage hash and brussels sprouts with bacon.  A little pork heavy, but delicious!  I once again forgot to take pictures until after dinner, when I was packing leftovers for my lunch tomorrow.  Trust me, it was awesome.

Both recipes are from the packet of nutrition information that I got at my Crossfit intro class, so they are paleo-approved.  And they are also CJ and Blondeez approved!

Sausage, Apple, and Sweet Potato Hash
Serves 2-4
Prep Time: 10 min.
Cook Time: 15 min.
  • Chicken or pork sausage
  • Cooking fat of your choice
  • 1 sweet potato, diced
  • 1 red apple, diced
  • 1 sweet onion, diced
  • 1 green pepper (I added more apple instead since I loathe it)
  • Fresh basil and thyme (I used dried and added earlier in cooking)
Heat cooking fat in a large skillet.  Add diced sweet potato and cook for about 10 minutes, until you can just pierce them with a fork.  Add apple, onion, and pepper and cook until tender.  Meanwhile, brown sausage in a separate pan, then chop and add to vegetable mixture.  Serve hot.

Brussels Sprout and Bacon Medley
Serves: 4
Prep time: 5 min
Cook time: 20 min
  • 5 slices bacon
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 lbs. brussels sprouts
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • fresh ground black pepper to taste
Heat a skillet over medium heat and cook the bacon until crispy.  Pat the cooked bacon dry and cut or crumble into small pieces.  Cook the chopped onion in the rendered bacon fat for about 2 minutes, until they soften.  Add the whole sprouts, stir well, and cook about 3 minutes, until they start to soften.  Add the chicken stock, bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer and cover for about 10 minutes.  When cooked, drain remaining liquid and sprinkle with crumbled bacon.

After dinner CJ and the kid cuddled while I put together marinade for chicken drumsticks tomorrow!  Yum.

Cold Udon Noodles with Peanut Sauce and Seitan

I'm a huge fan of Isa Chandra Moskowitz, America's Most Awesome Vegan Chef. She has a rad website and has written several books. I own Vegan with a Vengeance, and tonight I made this delicious cold noodle dish from it. It's got lots of raw vegetables and the peanut sauce is so good I could eat it with a spoon. I will now paraphrase the recipe below.


Peanut Sauce:
2 t peanut oil
2 cloves minced garlic
2 T minced ginger
1 C water
2 T soy sauce
1 t ground coriander
2/3 C creamy natural peanut butter
2 T maple syrup
3 T rice vinegar
2 t chile sauce (I used Sriracha)

1 lb seitan sliced into 1/4" strips
1 T peanut oil
1 clove garlic
2 t soy sauce

To Serve:
10 oz udon noodles
1/4 C black sesame seeds
1 cucumber, halved across, sliced into matchsticks (I'm not too dexterous with a  knife, so mine were more like crudité.)
4 C mung bean sprouts
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
2 C scallions, chopped
Lime wedges


Make the peanut sauce:
In a small saucepan, sauté the garlic and ginger in peanut oil over low-medium heat. Add the water, soy sauce, and coriander and bring to a boil. Add the peanut butter and turn heat to low. Whisk until well combined. Mix in the maple syrup, vinegar, and chile sauce. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.

Make the noodles:
Meanwhile, prepare the udon noodles according to package directions. When noodles have cooked, drain in a colander and rinse with cold water until they are cool to the touch. Let them rest in the colander while you prepare the seitan.

Make the seitan:
Sauté the seitan in peanut oil for 5 minutes on each side until browned. Then add the garlic and soy sauce and cook for another minute or so.

The peanut sauce should now be at room temperature. Give the noodles a final rinse to make them cold and keep them from sticking together.

In the actual recipe, it is recommended to plate everything before serving on a big platter, which you could totally do, but a great thing about this dish is that it's fun to serve buffet style, so that everyone gets the perfect proportion of noodles to sauce to veggies to seitan. By the way, I hadn't had seitan before this meal. I liked it, but I think it expanded a lot in my stomach and did make me feel uncomfortable for a while afterwards!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Blondeez Daily Diary Sunday

Today was supposed to be a whirlwind day of church and then a bike ride in Santa Cruz, but I have a big project at work that is going out the door tomorrow so we ended up canceling all of it in favor of making sure I had time to do everything well without being super stressed.  CJ was tired anyway, and the kid thought nudism was the word of the day, so it's just as well we only left the house to grocery shop.

In the morning I made myself a Nut Butter Smoothie with almond butter.  The kid was jealous and didn't want her yogurt--next time I'll have to make a double batch.  It isn't very photogenic, though.


I bought a bag of overripe bananas at a discount last weekend and they had just gotten to the "make bread" point today, so I also made a loaf of banana bread and then froze the rest of the bananas (halved and peeled) for later use in smoothies or baking.  I had the end slice when it was piping hot, and it was great on its own.


I didn't get lunch until late, but I made up for lost time by making a yummy egg salad.  No mayo or relish--this was the fancy stuff!  = P I ate it over salad greens as is my usual practice these days.  Another slice of that banana bread served as a sweet snack.


I decided we should have a light dinner after our late lunch, so I grabbed some organic creamy tomato soup while at the grocery store and added a salad of baby lettuces, avocado, cucumber, and turkey breast with a yogurt/blue cheese dressing.  I forgot to take a picture, but I packed the same thing for my lunch tomorrow so I'll snap one then!

Nut Butter Smoothie:
Serves 1
Prep time: 5 min.
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened plain soy milk
  • 1/4 sup soft tofu
  • 1/2 banana, frozen
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. almond butter or cashew butter
  • ice (optional)

 Combine all ingredients in a blender or in a cup using an immersion blender. 

Banana Bread (from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything)
Prep Time: 10 min
Cook Time: 1 hour
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 very ripe bananas, mashed until smooth
  • 1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease a standard loaf pan.

Combine dry ingredients well.  Cream butter and mix in eggs and banana until well-combined.  Add wet ingredients to dry, and stir until just combined.  Gently mix in coconut, nuts, and vanilla.  Pour into loaf pan and bake for 45 minutes to an hour, until the top is brown and a pick comes out almost clean.  This will be moister than most breads.

Fancy Egg Salad (my own concoction)
Serves: 2
Prep Time: 10 min (not including boiling eggs)
  • 2 hardboiled eggs
  • 1 Tbsp. dijon mustard
  • 1/2 shallot, diced small
  • 2 tsp. fresh or dried dillweed
  • 2 tsp. capers
  • 1-2 Tbsp. olive oil
Peel and dice the boiled eggs.  Add everything except the olive oil, then add olive oil until the eggs are moist enough for your taste.  Other things to throw in if you have & like them:  sundried tomatoes, fresh fennel root (diced small), olives, other fresh herbs.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Blondeez Not Quite Daily Diary Thursday--Saturday

Another busy couple days in the books.  I've been part time at my firm for a couple of years now and that means that it's more like a "regular" full-time job most weeks, but big things are happening in my cases so I've been putting in a little more time working than usual. 

Breakfast at home was yogurt with honey again.  Since I spend three mornings a week exercising with a friend at work first thing, I tend to buy/make enough of one portable breakfast and one to eat at home for the work week.  So you can probably guess what I ate on Friday morning, right?  I'll make a different kind of hot cereal and maybe do smoothies at home next week.

Lunch was leftover crab salad on a hoagie roll, since we were out of salad greens and I'm trying (not all that successfully) to make lunch my most substantial meal.  More granola for a snack, and the work day wrapped up before I could blink an eye.  By the time I got home, I was exhausted and then discovered we were missing ingredients for dinner.  So when CJ suggested pizza, I said sure.

Maple spiced oatmeal with currants kicked off the day, and after that the whole day sort of went to crap, food-wise.  I am not interested in turning this blog into some sort of food confessional, so let's just say I did some stress eating and none of it was delicious enough to mention.

I decided to have a little more substantial breakfast this morning because I went to an introduction to CrossFit class at 11, so I didn't want to be hungry.  The kid and I had a little picnic in the living room; I had yogurt with granola and honey, and the kid had whole wheat toast with peanut butter:

After my crossfit intro (lots of talking, some instruction on form, and then one cardio set that took me 10 minutes) I came home and had the last of my crab salad with avocado and mango.  Along with an enormous mug of water, that kept me going through hanging with the kid and doing a little work in the afternoon.

By the time dinner rolled around, I was getting really hungry, so I heated up artichoke mashed potatoes and added some nitrate free deli turkey, a green salad, and roasted broccolini (aka baby broccoli).  No recipes really, but the broccolini was new to me so I googled a bit and settled on roasting as the preferred cooking method.  I tossed the veg with olive oil, lemon juice, and Garlic and Wine Seasoning and threw in the oven at 300 degrees F for about 15 minutes.  Easy peasy!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Blondeez Daily Diary Wednesday

Today was a busy day so food wasn't the first thing on my mind, but it's always back there somewhere.  I am a person who thinks about food often and fondly in myriad ways--always trying a new restaurant, finding a new recipe, thinking about modifying my approach to eating, or just thinking "I want chocolate."  I started out as a spectacularly picky eater, and just in the last few years have embraced many ingredients that would have wrinkled my nose before.  But I have always loved food in a visceral way.  I so enjoy the rituals of planning, shopping, cooking, and eating that I could never fathom giving that up, no matter what else I may change about how I do those things.   I know several people who say that if they could take a pill and get all their nutrients and forgo eating, that would be okay with them.  I believe them, but that is definitely not me. 

Over the years I have approached how to eat in a lot of ways.  I didn't think much about it as a child and even as a teenager.  In college the cafeteria was so vile (at least to my picky palate) that grilled cheese, frozen yogurt, and cereal were about the only edible options.  In graduate school, I learned to cook properly and began to appreciate a more diverse diet; I also went on my first weight-loss "diet" ever.  I've tried various nutritional approaches since then, some for health reasons and some as an attempt to control weight. 

Right now I'm an omnivore, trying to reduce the proportion of refined foods in my diet.  One reason that Ultrametabolism Cookbook is close at hand is that I recently tried the elimination program its author suggests, to identify food intolerances and sources of "inflammation" in the body.  I felt better and lost a significant bit of weight (according to the author, as a result of decreased inflammation and therefore better functioning metabolism) but it was too difficult to make everything from scratch--and like most diets, as soon as I stopped following the restrictive plan the pounds showed back up.  Still, I may go gluten and dairy free again soon to try to obtain the benefits I experienced before in the form of increased energy, reduced congestion, and clearer thinking.  In the meantime, I am focusing on eating as many fresh and unrefined foods as I can.


Enough rambling, on to the food!  My morning jog got cut short by some pretty heavy rain and achy feet, so I headed inside to warm up with more maple spiced oatmeal with currants.  A series of crises at work led to scarfing a small plate of tri tip, potato salad, and roasted summer squash in small spurts between 11:45 and 3 (the catered lunch at work, which I usually avoid but was thankfully okay since I had to cancel lunch with a friend).  By 3 I was hangry (so hungry I was angry!) so I dug into the fruit and nut granola.
CJ was in charge of dinner tonight, and he made Chicken Tagine in the crock pot.  It's another new recipe, and I was definitely pleased!  So pleased, in fact, that we scarfed it all down and I forgot to take a picture.  Sorry!  I finished the evening with some dark chocolate with sea salt and almonds from Chocolove to fuel a late night working after the kid went to sleep.

Recipe to be posted later when I the cookbook handy!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Blondeez Daily Diary Tuesday

Do you ever get into cookbook ruts?  I planned this week's recipe basically using 3 cookbooks and a couple web recipes, so judging just based on this week you'd think I was obsessed with them.  I do love them, but I'll try to work in a little more variety as we go along.

I added local honey to a big dollop of greek-style yogurt for breakfast this morning.  Last week I finally broke down and bought some Fage 2% to see if it lives up to the hype (plus it was on sale) and it's definitely the best greek-style yogurt I've tried!  I was disappointed to learn that most of the commercial greek yogurts have artificial thickeners added instead of being strained, but the Fage is just milk and yogurt cultures.  It's pretty filling--I ended up eating my snack in the afternoon because I wasn't hungry midmorning.

Lunch was leftovers--drumsticks and artichoke mashed potatoes from Sunday and the last of the creamed spinach.  In the afternoon, I had a handful of Fruit and Nut Granola that I made this weekend, which I love.

Finally it was dinnertime!  I made Crabmeat Salad with Avocado and Mango, which has a citrus dressing instead of mayonnaise.  I think it's just gooey enough without being heavy.  Here is a huge platter waiting for dressing (I made a double recipe because I was feeding a crowd):

CJ and our guests ate it on hoagie rolls, Akira picked pieces out of a bowl with her fingers, and I had mine in a bowl over spinach:

I polished off the last of the Banana Spice Cake with Cream Cheese Glaze for dessert!

Crabmeat Salad with Avocado and Mango (modified from The Ultrametabolism Cookbook)
Serves 8
Prep time: 20 min
  • 1 lb. lump crabmeat (I use fake because I like to eat this often and I don't have *that* much money)
  • 1/4 cup minced scallion
  • 1/4 cup diced fennel
  • 2 avocados, diced
  • 1 cup diced mango
  • 1/4 cup finely diced red pepper (I leave this out because it gives me indigestion)
  • 1/4 cup minced cilantro
  • 1 tsp. minced jalapeno
  • 1 tsp. lime zest
  • 5 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 4 Tbsp. lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. snipped chives
Flake the crabmeat into a bowl.  Gently fold in scallion, fennel, avocado, mango., red pepper, cilantro, jalapeno, and lime zest.

Combine the olive oil, lime juice, salt, and pepper.  Pour over the crab and gently mix.  Garnish with chives.

Fruit and Nut Granola (from The Ultrametabolism Cookbook)
Serves 12
Prep Time: 10 min.
Cook Time: 45 min.

  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup chopped raw, unsalted almonds
  • 1/4 cup chopped raw Brazil nuts (I hate them so I use walnuts or hazelnuts)
  • 1/4 raw, unsalted sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup flaxseed
  • 1/4 cup wheat germ
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • pinch ground nutmeg
  • pinch kosher salt
  • 3 Tbsp. canned unsweetened lite coconut milk
  • 2 Tbsp. honey
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. grapeseed or other neutral-flavored oil
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup dried blueberries
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
Preheat oven to 275 degrees F.

In a large bowl, combine oats, nuts, seeds, wheat germ, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.  In a small bowl, whisk together the coconut milk, honey, and vanilla.  Drizzle over the oat and nut mixture and combine well.

Brush a sheet pan with oil.  Transfer the granola to the sheet pan and bake for about 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes, until browned.  Remove from the oven and stir in the dried fruits.  Let coola nd store in an airtight container (refrigerate after 5 days).

Monday, April 9, 2012

Blondeez Daily Diary Monday

After a great morning bike ride with my workout buddy, breakfast was that maple oatmeal with currants again, eaten at my desk while prepping for a call:
Lunch was leftover rotisserie chicken and rice pilaf from a box. It's not all that healthy or delicious when I think about it, but I have warm nostalgic feelings from eating it frequently in college. I didn't have any veggies cooked so I supplemented with a salad from the office caterer--romaine with pears, walnuts, dried cranberries, pear vinaigrette, and a little goat cheese.
In the afternoon, there was a baby shower so I had some chocolate cake with banana filling--yum!
Dinner was a new recipe: Apple Soy Roasted Salmon. CJ (the husband) marinated it for an hour or so before I got home and then we threw it in the oven, some quinoa pilaf on the stove, and pre-packaged creamed spinach in the microwave. The one snag was that CJ mixed up tamari (soy sauce) with Sriracha [he had never heard soy sauce called tamari before so he guessed], so there was almost ten times the chili flavor there should have been in the marinade! I added more tamari as soon as we discovered the goof, and when I reduced the marinade to a sauce I added a big splash of coconut milk to temper the heat.
Quinoa pilaf in progress:

Salmon ready for the oven:
The final product, with toddler fingers ready to climb up and grab it from the counter!
Everything turned out pretty well, especially considering the recipe mixup! We'll have to try it again with the correct proportions of spices. CJ redeemed himself by suggesting piña coladas for dessert to cool our tongues!
The recipes:
Apple-Soy Roasted Salmon (from the Ultrametabolism Cookbook)
Serves 4
Prep time: 90 minutes including marinating
Cook time: 21 minutes
  • 3/4 cup apple juice
  • 4 6-oz. wild salmon fillets
  • 2 Tbsp. wheat free tamari
  • 1 Tbsp. sesame oil
  • 1 tsp. agave nectar
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1 tsp. minced ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. red chili paste
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
  • 4 lime wedges
Boil the apple juice in a small pan until reduced by half. Set aside to cool.
Place the salmon in a single layer in a shallow baking dish
Stir together the cooled apple juice, tamari, sesame oil, agave, garlic, ginger, and chili paste. Pour the marinade over the salmon and refrigerate for about an hour.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Before roasting the salmon, pour the excess marinade off the fish into a small pan. Bring the marinade to a boil over high heat and cook until reduced by half, about 7 minutes.
Place the salmon in the oven for about 7 minutes. Brush salmon with reduced marinade and continue cooking until golden brown and cooked through, about 7 more minutes. Before serving, brush again with marinade and garnish with scallions and lime wedges.

Quinoa Pilaf (from the Cancer Fighting Kitchen)
Serves 4
Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 25 min

  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. finely diced shallot
  • 1 fennel bulb, diced small
  • 1 carrot, peeled and diced small
  • Sea salt
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cardamom
  • 1 3/4 cups broth (chicken or vegetable)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley or mint
Heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat, then add shallots, fennel, and carrot, plus a pinch of salt and sauté until the vegetables start to sweat, about 3 min. Stir in the quinoa and spices, then stir in the broth and 1/2 tsp. salt and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover, and simme for about 20 min., until the liquid has been absorbed and the quinoa is tender. Fluff with a fork and add fresh herbs before serving.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Lemon Olive Oil Cake

Hey tacqueaux, I'm super stoked about this blog as a place to celebrate our love of eating food and sharing our most delicious creations with each other. It's so important to have space on the Internet free of food policing and shame.

Okay, I'm going to get right to it with a cake recipe I made recently. I love lemon cake. I don't bake cakes often but when I do, it's lemon. My go-to recipe is the Blitztorte from my battered old copy of Joy of Cooking, but I wanted to try something new this time, and the idea of a cake made with olive oil was very intriguing. It also is made up of ingredients you probably already have.


3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 large lemon

1 cup cake flour (not self-rising)

4 large eggs, separated

3/4 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar


Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Grease 9"x9" square pan with some oil, then line bottom with parchment paper. Oil parchment.

Finely grate enough lemon zest to measure 1 1/2 teaspoons and whisk together with flour. Halve lemon, then squeeze and reserve 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice.

Beat together yolks and 1/2 cup sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at high speed until thick and pale, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium and add olive oil (3/4 cup) and reserved lemon juice, beating until just combined (mixture may appear separated). Using a wooden spoon, stir in flour mixture (do not beat) until just combined.

Beat egg whites with 1/2 teaspoon salt in another large bowl with cleaned beaters at medium-high speed until foamy, then add 1/4 cup sugar a little at a time, beating, and continue to beat until egg whites just hold soft peaks, about 3 minutes.

Gently fold one third of whites into yolk mixture to lighten, then fold in remaining whites gently but thoroughly.

Transfer batter to pan and gently rap against work surface once or twice to release any air bubbles. Sprinkle top evenly with remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar. Bake until puffed and golden and a wooden pick or skewer inserted in center of cake comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Cool cake in pan on a rack 10 minutes, then run a thin knife around edge of pan. Invert pan to remove cake and peel off parchment. Cool cake for as long as you can stand it before cutting. This cake is delicious on its own but it gets really spectacular with the addition of a scoop of plain Greek yogurt on top, sprinkled with chopped almonds and drizzled with honey.

[Recipe adapted from one found on Epicurious, changed to reflect how I actually made it.]

Family Dinner Sunday

Hi blog reading people!  This is our first post (unless one of my co-bloggers types fast) and my first post for sure so I'll say a little bit about my food philosophy.  I am lucky to be able to find and afford many organic and natural foods.  I am a recovering vegetable-phobe discovering new ways to add them to my life, and loving it.  I have a sweet tooth that could turn a whole kindergarten class hyperactive so I will likely feature dessert here on a regular basis.  I love to bake my own bread when I have time.  I own a lot of diet/weight loss cookbooks, but I am not on a diet.  I often find myself adjusting recipes to add back healthy fats or natural sweeteners where it calls for artificial flavorings.

I had a cooking-intensive weekend, but it paid off today as I had a mostly stress-free dinner with my in-laws, not to mention plenty of other good food! 

I started my morning with Maple Spiced Oatmeal with Currants before taking my toddler to church for Easter services.  Even the kid liked it--she usually rejects oatmeal but she took a few bites of mine before requesting yogurt and a banana.  Also before we left, I got started on dinner--Lemon Chicken in the slow cooker.  When we got back home, my husband had just put Smitten Kitchen's Boozy Baked French Toast, which I threw together last night, into the oven.  Paired with some spiked coffee, it was the perfect way to relax and feel festive before my in-laws arrived for egg hunting and dinner.

Dinner was the aforementioned braised whole chicken, artichoke mashed potatoes, roasted broccoli with crispy prosciutto and balsamic vinegar (from Nom Nom Paleo), and wine--a nice California white blend.  I knew we would like the broccoli, but the potatoes were the hit of the table.  Even my father-in-law, who isn't a big potato guy, had some.  Finally, we topped it off with banana spice cake (bundt style) and cream cheese glaze, the leftovers of which I managed to photograph before my roommates gobbled it up.

I'll take more pictures in the future, but we just had the idea to start the blog tonight and I was so excited about today's food I had to share!  I've linked recipes above where I got them online, and the couple from cookbooks are below. 

Maple Spiced Oatmeal with Currants  (adapted from the Ultra-Metabolism Cookbook)
4 servings, 3/4 cup each
Prep time: 5 min
Total time: ~35 min
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup steel-cut oats
  • 1/2 cup currants
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup (original recipe calls for 1 tsp. maple extract)
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • pinch allspice
  • splash whole milk (original recipe calls for unsweetened soy milk, optional)
Boil water in a medium saucepan.  Stir in oats and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the currants and cook for 10 more minutes, stirring frequently.  Add the maple, cinnamon, and allspice at the very end, and add milk as needed to achieve your desired consistency.

I immediately divided it into four containers and now I've got breakfast ready to go a couple mornings this week!

Slow Cooker Lemon Chicken (from Weight Watchers Slow Good Super Slow Cooker Cookbook)
Makes 6 servings
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 3 or 6 hours
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1.5 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. fresh ground pepper
  • 1 (~3.5 lb.) chicken
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. grated lemon zest
Combine garlic, oil, oregano, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.  Rinse and pat dry the chicken, then gently separate the skin from the meat on the breast, thighs, and legs.  Rub half the spice mixture under the skin and half in the cavity of the chicken.

Heat and grease a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the chicken breast side down and brown, turning frequently, for 6-8 minutes.  Transfer to a 5- or 6-quart slow cooker.  Add broth to the skillet and deglaze, scraping the brown bits from the skillet while the broth boils briefly.  Add 1 Tbsp. of lemon juice and pour the liquid over the chicken.  Cover and cook until fork-tender (3-4 hours on high or 6-8 on low).

About 20 minutes before cooking time is over, stir lemon zest into the remaining lemon juice and pour into the slow cooker.  Cover and cook on high until fragrant.  Transfer chicken to a platter and serve with the broth as a sauce.

(WW says to use low-sodium chicken broth, to discard the skin and wings from the chicken, and to skim any fat from the broth.  I have low blood pressure and don't keep low-sodium anything around, the broth didn't seem overly fatty, and my husband said "the skin's the best part!" so I didn't do any of that.)

Cream cheese glaze (borrowed from here)

  • 1 (4 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 tablespoon butter, softened
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1 teaspoon rum extract (didn't have any so I used almond and vanilla)
  • 1 tablespoon milk
Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Heat in a microwave oven for 15 seconds. Drizzle spoonfuls over a cooled cake.