Thursday, January 31

Raw Artichoke Green Salad

They had the most beautiful globe artichokes at the farmer's market last weekend that I couldn't resist picking some up on the spot. I love them steamed, but they can also be eaten raw if sliced very thinly. This recipe is a super simple riff on my everyday green salad but adds thinly sliced raw artichoke hearts for extra crunch and flavor. It makes a wonderful side dish, but draping a little prosciutto on top and serving some bread alongside would make a delicious light lunch.

Raw Artichoke Green Salad:
  • Peel all of the outer leaves off of 2 artichokes until the hairy choke is exposed.
  • Use a spoon to dig out the chokes and a knife or sharp vegetable peeler to shave down the outer dark green layer of the stems.
  • Slice the hearts and stems very thinly and place in a bowl of cold water with a squeeze of lemon to avoid browning.*
  • Meanwhile, whisk together the juice of 1 lemon, 1 tsp. Dijon mustard, and 1 finely minced shallot.
  • Slowly whisk 3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil into the dressing and season with salt and pepper.
  • Toss the dressing with 4 c. mixed greens** and the artichoke hearts in a large bowl.
  • Use a vegetable peeler to shave some Parmesan cheese on top.
  • Serve immediately.

Serves two-four (side dish)
*Artichokes can be preapred a few hours in advance and kept in the water before assembling the salad. No need to soak them if using immediately.
**I like a heartier mix of greens here - I used arugula, frisee, and mesclun.

Wednesday, January 30

Super Bowl Menu

It isn't game day without chips and a cheesy dip. Pictured: Mozzarella & Italian Sausage Queso Dip

Make ahead dishes like chili ensure that you're watching the game and not cooking in the kitchen after kick-off. Pictured: Pork Green Chili

The Super Bowl is this Sunday, and this year I’m even more excited than ever to watch the game. We’ll be going to our friend’s Ravens party (wearing purple, of course) and bringing a few dishes to contribute to the snack spread. In Baltimore fashion, I’m making an Old Bay seasoned crab dip – but for those of you looking for more all-American classics, I’ve rounded up some of my favorite football foods. Let a pot of chili simmer on the stove or make a batch of crispy oven-baked buffalo wings because half the fun of the Super Bowl is what you eat and drink

Make your own bar food favorites, like this spin on potato skins. Pictured: Baked Potato Bites

Wings are a classic Super Bowl snack and baked versions are healthier and less messy. Pictured: Buffalo Wings with Blue Cheese Dip

Cookies and bars are a great no-fuss dessert for guests with a sweet tooth. Pictured: Salted Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Tuesday, January 29

Curry Coconut Lentil Soup

A warm and hearty vegetarian soup made with lentils, curry, and coconut milk

Heidi Swanson Coconut Curry Lentil Soup

I’ve been really into lentils lately (one of the ingredients that’s stuck with me post-cleanse), which is great since they’re inexpensive, nutritious, and a great source of protein. Usually I’ve been eating them as a side dish, either sautĂ©ed with garlic or onion or simply dressed in some nice olive oil and a little red wine vinegar, but this soup (lightly adapted from Super Natural Every Day) makes them the star of the show. Unlike most soups, this one requires few ingredients but still manages to have a lot of flavor from the curry powder and coconut milk. I made some for a quick weekend lunch and saved leftovers to bring to work. Just add a little water when reheating, as the soup tends to thicken as it cools.

Curry Coconut Lentil Soup:
  • Heat 2 tbsp. olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.
  • Add in 1 chopped onion and 1 large pinch of red chile flakes and season with salt.
  • Cook for 5-7 minutes, until onions soften and start to turn translucent, then add in 1 heaping tbsp. of minced garlic.
  • Stir garlic for a minute or so, or until fragrant, then add in 6 c. chicken stock* and scrape any bits from the bottom of the pan.
  • Add in 1 1/2 c. green lentils** and a big pinch of salt, cover pot with a lid, and lower heat to a simmer.
  • Cook for 20-40 minutes, or until lentils are very soft.
  • Turn the heat off and stir in 1 c. light coconut milk.
  • Puree soup in a blender until very smooth, adding more broth or water to thin it if necessary.
  • Meanwhile, heat 2 tbsp. butter in a small skillet until starting to brown, then add in 1 tbsp. curry powder and stir to dissolve.
  • Return soup to the pot and add in most of the curry brown butter.
  • Check for seasoning, adding more curry powder or salt if desired.
  • Ladle into bowls and top with another drizzle of brown butter and a handful of thinly sliced scallions.

Serves six - eight
*Or vegetable stock or water, if you want to make it totally vegetarian. If using water, add more salt.
**You can also use green split peas, which will give the soup a brighter green color.

Monday, January 28

Pork Carnitas

An incredibly easy three-ingredient recipes for melt-in-your-mouth shredded pork

Pork Carnitas

There's a great butcher at the L.A. Farmers Market that always has low prices on large cuts of meat and I always make an effort to go there when I'm in the area. This weekend we saw a late morning movie at The Grove and stopped by the butcher on the way home for the pork to make these carnitas. I got over five pounds of pork shoulder for less than fifteen bucks and its going to last me the whole week for leftovers. Cooking the meat couldn't be easier but yields tons of rich pork flavor from roasting in its own juices and fat. Since I wanted the carnitas to really shine, I served it simply with some tortillas, lime, and pickled red onions.

Pork Carnitas:
  • Have your butcher cut 5 lbs. of bone-in pork shoulder into 2" thick slabs,* then cut each slab in half.
  • Place the pork in a large baking dish in one layer and season all sides generously with kosher salt.
  • Pour 1/3 c. water over the meat and tightly cover the dish with foil and place in a 375F oven.
  • Cook the pork for 65 minutes, then increase the oven temperature to 450F and remove the foil from the top.
  • Roast the pork for another 40 minutes, or until the water has evaporated and only the fat is left in the pan.**
  • Carefully turn the pork*** and roast for another 15 minutes, or until golden on top.
  • Transfer the pork to a plate and let cool for 15 minutes, then shred and discard the bones and any large pieces of fat.

Serves eight-ten
*I had two slabs total.
**If a lot of fat is left, you can drain some of it out.
***Be careful not to break it up too much, it will be falling off the bone.

Friday, January 25

Salmon & Vegetable Soba Noodles

For a pasta lover like me, soba noodles are a great healthy alternative. They’re made of buckwheat and fill me up faster than regular noodles so a little goes a long way. This version is something I made during my cleanse and is vegetable and protein heavy with just a handful of soba. If you’re using leftovers like I did, pre-cooked salmon makes this dish come together in mere minutes. I literally made in it fifteen minutes before racing out the door to get to an early weeknight movie. Even if I’m not pressed for time or watching what I eat, this is still a go-to dish that I’ll tweak and make over and over again.

Salmon & Vegetable Soba Noodles:
  • Heat a wok or skillet over very high heat and add in 1 tbsp. canola oil.
  • Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil and add in 5 oz. soba noodles. Cook for 5 minutes, or until al dente.
  • Add 1 diced jalapeno and 2 heads of finely chopped broccoli to the wok and cook for 4 minutes, or until crisp-tender.
  • Stir in 1 tbsp. minced garlic and cook for another minute, then add in 3 tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce, the juice of 1 small lime, 1 tbsp. sake, and several dashes of Sriracha hot sauce.*
  • Add in the drained noodles and 4 oz. cooked, flaked salmon.**
  • Turn off the heat and add in 1/2 tbsp. sesame oil and 1/4 c. fresh cilantro leaves. 
  • Stir the noodles to combine and check for seasoning and adjust as necessary.
  • Divide into bowls and top with 1/2 diced avocado and black sesame seeds.***

Serves two
*Depending on how spicy you like it.
**To cook salmon, drizzle a 4 oz. boneless fillet with 1/2 tbsp. canola oil and season with salt and pepper. Cook in a 375F oven for 10-15 minutes, or until just cooked through. Can be done a day in advance and kept in the fridge.
***Optional, but I like the crunch.

Thursday, January 24

Orange & Coriander Pork Tenderloin

I've had this notion that tenderloin, or any other cut of meat that needs to be roasted whole and can feed a crowd, is not a weeknight-friendly option. Sometimes that’s still true, but this dish couldn’t be easier. The paprika, orange zest, and coriander create a super quick rub for the meat and only needs to sit on the pork for twenty minutes  to impart great flavor. Browning it in a skillet forms a nice crust (made even easier thanks to all those spices) and sears in the juices before finishing in the oven. While the pork rests, I took the extra few minutes to de-glaze the pan to create a simple pan sauce, but that’s totally optional. It’s a lean, healthy meal that full of flavor and equally perfect for a weeknight at home or entertaining friends and family.

Orange, Paprika & Coriander Pork Tenderloin:
  • Stir together 1 tbsp. orange zest, 2 tsp. ground coriander, 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, 1 tsp. hot paprika, and 1 tsp. olive oil together until it forms a paste.
  • Rub the paste over one 1 1/4 lb. pork tenderloin and let sit at room temperature for 20 minutes.
  • Meanwhile heat 1 tbsp. canola oil in a large skillet until very hot.
  • Add in the pork and sear for 3-4 minutes per side, or until dark and crusty.*
  • Put the skill into a 425F oven and cook for another 7-15 minutes, or until the juices run clear from the meat.
  • Transfer pork to a plate and cover with foil to rest for 10 minutes.
  • Deglaze the pan with the juice of 1/2 orange and 1/3 c. chicken stock, scraping up any bits from the bottom of the pan.
  • Slice pork and top with pan sauce.

Serves four - five
*This will take about 10 minutes total.

Wednesday, January 23

Root Vegetable Quinoa Salad

So my cleanse is over (as you might have guessed from this post), but there are still lots of recipes I made during that time that are worth mentioning.  I’m a big fan of quinoa, but this salad has the right balance of being veggie-heavy with just enough grains to bring it into main-course territory. The beets, radishes, fennel, and shallots all get super caramelized which brings out their natural sugars and adds a nice charred flavor. It’s hard to tell which vegetable you’re eating since they all look alike after cooking, but the surprises keeps the salad interesting. I served it warm, but cold leftovers make a great lunch – and if you want to add a little crumbled feta on top (my greatest craving during the cleanse), I think it would taste even better.

Root Vegetable Quinoa Salad:
  • Scrub and trim 2 bunches of small beets* and 1 large bunch of radishes.
  • Quarter or halve the beets and radishes into bite-size pieces and thinly slice 1 large bulb of fennel.
  • Peel and trim 3 shallots and toss all the vegetables with 2 tbsp. olive oil.
  • Season veggies with salt and pepper and arrange in a single layer on two baking sheets.
  • Place the baking sheets in a 450F oven for 25-40 minutes, turning once or twice, until caramelized and tender.**
  • Meanwhile, rinse 1/2 c. quinoa and place in a pot of cold water. Season with salt.
  • Bring quinoa to a boil, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes, or until al dente.
  • Drain quinoa and place in a large serving bowl. Add the roasted vegetables on top.
  • Whisk together the juice of 1 Meyer lemon and 3 tbsp. olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  • Pour dressing over the salad and sprinkle with 2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley.
  • Drizzle with a little balsamic vinegar (optional) and serve.

Serves four
*The beets may need to be peeled in some places to remove any really dirty areas. I like two use two different colors of beets.
**I find that the fennel and shallots caramelize faster than the beets and radishes. You might want to keep those on a separate baking sheet and remove from the oven earlier.

Tuesday, January 22

Baked Potato Bites

These adorable appetizers have all the flavor of a loaded baked potato

Our friend invited us over to watch the AFC Championship game (he's a lifelong Ravens fan), which was the perfect excuse to try out the baked potato bites from my Smitten Kitchen cookbook. This recipe is a cross between potato skins, potato chips, and nachos, and is really the ultimate football snack food. The potatoes are simply sliced, roasted until crisp, and sprinkled with toppings. I went for the classic loaded baked potato combo of Tillamook cheddar, bacon bits, sour cream (I actually substituted with Greek yogurt), and scallions - but you could definitely get creative with whatever toppings you like best. They were a hit at the party and might even be considered a good luck charm for the Ravens in the Superbowl.

Related Recipes:
- Garlic Hassleback Potatoes
- Sweet Potato Cakes with Creamy Herb Dip
- Potato Latkes

Baked Potato Bites:
  • Slice 4 large Russet potatoes in 1/2" rounds and place in a large bowl.
  • Drizzle with 2  tbsp. melted butter and season generously with salt and pepper.
  • Line two large baking sheets with aluminum foil and coat with a non-stick spray.
  • Arrange the potato slices on the baking sheets in a single layer and place in a 425F oven.
  • Cook for 30 minutes, or until potatoes are tender and the bottom has browned, then flip them and place back in the oven for 5 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, dice 5 slices of thick-cut bacon and place in a hot, dry skillet.
  • Cook bacon bits until crispy, about 4 minutes, then remove with a slotted spoon and let drain on a paper towel.
  • Take the potatoes out of the oven and sprinkle the tops of each with grated sharp cheddar cheese.*
  • Place the potatoes back in the oven for 2-3 minutes, or until the cheese has melted.
  • Take the potatoes back out of the oven and sprinkle with the bacon bits.
  • Spoon a little sour cream on top of each potato and sprinkle with thinly sliced scallions.
  • Potato bites can be eaten immediately or at room temperature.

Makes about 40 bites
*You'll need about 1 c. of grated cheese total.

Friday, January 18

Braised Leeks with Sweet Lentils

I cook with some kind of onion, shallot, or leek in nearly every meal I make, but they’re rarely the star of the dish. Parisians have it right, though, with onion tarts, soup, and braised leeks all being classic fare in the City of Light. Leeks are in their peak season right now and there’s no better way to use them than in a recipe like this. As they cook, the leeks get a great buttery texture and sweet flavor. Here, they’re served with lentils, breadcrumbs, and fresh parsley which provide a nice flavor and texture contrast to the dish. It make a wonderful and surprisingly filling vegetarian meal, but don’t be afraid to serve them on their own as a side dish or with some soft cheese as a nice starter salad.

Braised Leeks with Sweet Lentils, Breadcrumbs & Parsley:
  • Melt 1 tbsp. butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Add in 3-5 trimmed, rinsed,* and halved leeks, cut-side down and cook for 3-5 minutes, or until golden.
  • Drizzle the leeks with a little olive oil and flip, cooking for another 2-3 minutes on the other side.
  • Season leeks with a good pinch of salt, ground pepper, and 2 tbsp. of honey.
  • Pour 1 c. chicken stock** into the skillet, cover with a lid, and lower heat to a gentle simmer.
  • Cook leeks for 15-30 minutes, or until very tender.
  • Meanwhile, bring 2/3 c. lentils and 1 1/2 c. water to simmer and cover with a lid.
  • Cook lentils for 15-25 minutes, or until tender and drain off any excess water.***
  • In a small pan, melt together 1/2 tbsp. butter and 1 tsp. olive oil and add in the lentils.
  • Sprinkle lentils with 1/2 tbsp. raw sugar**** and 2 tsp. rice vinegar.
  • Stir lentils until sugar dissolves and add in a pinch of salt.
  • Combine 1/4 c. breadcrumbs with 1 tsp. olive oil and set aside.
  • To serve, divide leeks onto plate, top with some of the lentils, and sprinkle with fresh minced parsley and breadcrumbs.

Serves two (main course)
Serves four-six (side dish)
*The best way to clean leeks is to halve them and place in a large bowl of water for 5-10 minutes. The dirt will fall to the bottom of the bowl and the clean leeks will float to the top.
**Or vegetable stock or water.
***Any kind of lentils will do, although my favorite are black beluga. Cooking times may vary, so check your package. Can be made in advance and kept in the fridge for a few days.
****Or brown sugar. You may want to add a little more, according to your preference.

Thursday, January 17

Edamame Glass Noodles

I’m all for using fresh produce, but some vegetables are just so easy to keep on hand in the freezer. I always have frozen edamame, which I usually dip in soy sauce and eat as a snack or side dish. This dish  (from Ottolenghi’s Plenty) is a great way to make use of those freezer bags and pantry staples to create a fresh, light meal. The soy beans and noodles get tossed with a tangy-sweet dressing and sprinkled with tons of good toppings: peanuts, scallions, sesame seeds, chilies. I used glass noodles (thin rice noodles) as the recipe suggested, but any Asian noodle (such as soba) would work well. It’s a tasty, protein-packed vegetarian meal as is, but feel free to add a little chicken or tofu to bulk it up.

Edamame Glass Noodles:
  • Whisk together 2 tbsp. canola oil, 1 tbsp. sesame oil, the juice of 4 small limes, 2 tbsp. brown sugar, 2 tbsp. fresh grated ginger, 2 tsp. tamarind paste,* and 2 tsp. soy sauce. Set aside.
  • Place 8 oz. glass noodles** in a large bowl of hot water and soak until soft, about 5-15 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, heat 2 tbsp. canola oil in a large skillet or wok over high heat.
  • Add in 3 cloves minced garlic and cook for a minute, or until just about to brown.
  • Drain the noodles and add to the pan with the sauce.
  • Add in 2 1/2 c. cooked and shelled edamame, 1/2 c. chopped fresh cilantro, 1/4 c. roasted peanuts, 3 thinly sliced scallions, 1 minced red chili, and 3 tbsp. sesame seeds.
  • Check for seasoning and adjust as necessary.
  • Toss until dressing has been absorbed, then divide into bowls and serve.

Serves two-four
*Available in the Asian section of many grocery stores.
**Also known as cellophane noodes or any other noodle you like. Check package instructions for cooking time.

Wednesday, January 16

Tomato, Fennel & Feta Shrimp Casserole

I’m always looking for easy dishes for entertaining, preferably things that can be made in advance and don’t require a lot of clean up after the meal. In the summer we do a lot of grilling and in the winter that usually means slow-cooked dishes from my dutch oven, but I don’t always have three hours to let things braise. Enter the casserole, which can really be elevated to a company-worthy meal despite its association with 50’s housewives and canned soup. This version has great Greek flavors with a chunky tomato-fennel sauce, jumbo shrimp, and a satisfying feta-panko topping. It’s a great dish to impress a crowd and they’ll never know how easy it was to make.

Tomato, Fennel & Feta Shrimp Casserole:
  • Heat 2 tbsp. olive oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium heat.
  • Add in 1 diced onion and 1 bulb of diced fennel and saute for 10 minutes, or until softened but not brown.
  • Add in 3-4 cloves of minced garlic and stir for a minute, then add in 1/4 c. white wine.
  • Scrape any bits from the bottom of the pan and let wine reduce for a few minutes, then add in 2 tsp. tomato paste and stir until smooth.
  • Add in 1 can* of diced tomatoes, 1 tbsp. vermouth, 1 tsp. Herbes de Provence,** salt, and pepper.
  • Simmer sauce over low heat for 20 minutes.***
  • Meanwhile, combine 1 c. panko breadcrumbs with a handful of minced parsley, the zest of 1/2 lemon, and 2 tbsp. olive oil.
  • Turn the heat off and nestle 1lb. of large peeled and de-veined shrimp into the sauce, leaving the tails up.
  • Scatter 1/2 c. of crumbled feta cheese over the dish and then top with the breadcrumb mixture.
  • Bake casserole in the oven for 20 minutes, or until top is golden and shrimp are pink.
  • Squeeze the juice of a lemon over the top and serve.

Serves four - six
*14-15 oz. total.
**Or any dried herb mixture you like.
***Sauce can be made a day in advance and kept in the fridge. Warm before adding the shrimp and placing in the oven.

Tuesday, January 15

Roasted Salmon with Green Harissa

A great tip for enjoying fast, easy meals on weeknights is to prepare a flavorful sauce or marinade in advance and use it to brighten up dishes all week. This green harissa sauce is different than its red counterpart, and reminds me of a stronger flavored pesto. The jalapenos add a nice spicy kick and mingle with the fresh herbs, spices, and lemon to create a sauce that would make anything taste good. I prepared it over the weekend and served it with some simply roasted salmon for a super quick meal. Make extra and serve it with chicken, roasted vegetables, or as a spread it sandwiches.

Roasted Salmon with Green Harissa:
For Sauce
  • Combine 1 chopped jalapeno,* 1/3 c. loosely packed parsley leaves, 1/3 c. loosely packed cilantro, 2 thinly sliced scallions, 1 small cloves of smashed garlic, the juice of 2 lemons, 1 tbsp. toasted cumin seeds,** 1/2 tbsp. ground coriander, and a large pinch of salt in a blender.
  • Add in 1/3 c. extra-virgin olive oil and blend until a smooth paste forms.***
  • Set aside, or cover surface directly with plastic wrap and keep in the fridge for up to 5 days.
For Salmon
  • Season two 4 oz. boneless skin-on salmon fillets with salt and pepper.
  • Meanwhile, heat 1/2 tbsp. canola oil in a large oven-proof skillet over high heat until very hot and almost smoking.
  • Add in the salmon, skin side down, and cook for 3-4 minutes.
  • Transfer salmon to a 375F oven and cook for another 3 minutes, or until almost cooked through.
  • Divide salmon onto plates and serve with green harissa sauce.

Serves two
*Remove the seeds or keep them in for extra heat.
**To toast cumin, place seeds in a dry skillet for 3 minutes over medium heat, or until fragrant. Can use seeds or ground spices for both cumin and coriander.
***You may need to add a little more oil depending on how thick you want the sauce.

Monday, January 14

Carrot Avocado Salad

Sweet roasted carrots and buttery avocado make a unique simple salad

I had a handful of leftover carrots from this soup and decided to make a super simple carrot and avocado salad. Roasting the carrots brings out their sweetness and adds a lightly charred flavor to the dish which pairs nicely with the creamy avocado. I topped it off with some microgreens, but anything similar (like sprouts or pea shoots) would work or they can be left off completely. My preference is to serve it warm, but cold or room temperature works especially if you’re trying to pack it to go or use the leftovers for a light lunch at work. It’s a refreshing change from an ordinary green salad and great affirmation that something extraordinary can come from a few forgotten ingredients in the fridge. 

Carrot Avocado Salad:
  • Slice 1/2 bunch small-medium sized carrots* in half lengthwise and place on a making sheet.
  • Toss carrots with 1 tbsp. olive oil, salt, and pepper and place in a 415F oven.
  • Roast carrots for 15-20 minutes, or until tender and edges are dark.
  • Meanwhile, whisk together the juice from 1/2 meyer lemon,** 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper.
  • Slowly whisk in 2 tbsp. olive oil and toss some with the hot carrots.
  • Add some of the carrots to a plate, then layer with 1/2 sliced avocado.
  • Top with the remaining carrots and avocado and a handful of microgreens.
  • Drizzle remaining dressing on top and serve.

Serves one (light meal)
Serves two (side dish)
*About 6 carrots. Or use a few large carrots and cut in quarters.
**Meyer lemons are sweeter then regular. Can substitute for a regular lemon or some lemon and some orange juice.

Thursday, January 10

Kale, Onion, & Potato Pot Pies

For those of you not in the middle of a cleanse or New Year’s diet, here’s the perfect January dish: Hot pot pies filled with hearty vegetables, a creamy sauce, and topped with a flaky crust. It’s the kind of comfort food that was created for cold days and suitable for all occasions (because who doesn’t like pot pies?). I had an epiphany while making these and realized that pot pies are one of those foods that can be made a million different ways using whatever ingredients are in season or on hand, just like a hash or fried rice. The kale, potatoes, and onions in this dish are perfect for the dead of winter, but a summery version with corn and squash would be wonderful come July. 

Kale, Fennel, & Potato Pot Pies:
  • Peel and dice two Yukon Gold potatoes into bite-size pieces, place in a small pot, and cover with cold water.
  • Bring the water to a boil and cook for 10-15 minutes, or until potatoes are tender but still hold their shape.*
  • Drain potatoes and set aside.
  • Meanwhile, melt 6 tbsp. butter in a large skillet and add in 1 thinly sliced onion.
  • Cook onion until soft but not brown, around 10-15 minutes, then whisk in 1/4 c. flour.
  • Stir until mixture is thick and free of lumps, about 2 minutes, then slowly whisk in 3 c. chicken stock.
  • Add in 1 tbsp. vermouth and season generously with salt and pepper.**
  • Add in 1 head of thinly sliced kale, stems removed, and cook for 4-5 minutes, or until wilted.
  • Stir in the potatoes and 2 tbsp. heavy cream and check for seasoning.
  • Ladle the filling into bowls or ramekins*** and top with pieces of pie dough,**** pressing around the edges to form a seal.
  • Cut a few slits into the top of the dough, brush the tops with heavy cream, and season with salt and pepper.
  • Bake the pies in a 375F for 45 minutes, or until pastry is golden and filling is bubbling.

Serves four
*The potatoes can be a little underdone, as they will finish cooking in the oven. Can be done a day ahead and kept in the fridge.
**The sauce should be highly seasoned or the pie will be bland.
***I used individual 6 oz. ramekins, but you can also use one large baking dish and cook it for a little longer.
****I used frozen, defrosted pie dough from Trader Joe's. You can also use puff pastry.

Wednesday, January 9

Bloody Mary Crab Salad

The number one thing I’ve learned during my food cleanse is that I really don’t like green salads. It’s not that they aren’t nice side dishes, or that I haven’t featured a bunch of them on my blog, but something about eating a big bowl of cold greens and vegetables in the dead of winter (while everyone else around me is getting free made-to-order burritos from our work) is miserable. Having said that, here is a recipe for a delicious green salad – a salad that would ordinarily fall into my hate list – except that it’s topped with tons of delicious fresh crab meat. And avocado (which is a savior for adding creaminess to someone avoiding dairy). And a spicy Bloody Mary-inspired dressing. It’s Dungeness crab season, but I imagine this would be just delightful to bring to the beach when the weather turns warm again.

Bloody Mary Crab Salad:
For Dressing
  • Whisk together 1 tbsp. tomato paste and the juice of 1 small lemon until the paste dissolves.
  • Add in 1 minced shallot, 1 tsp. prepared horseradish, 1/2 tsp. hot sauce, 1/2 tsp. celery seedsalt and pepper.*
  • Slowly whisk in 2-3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil.
For Salad
  • Toss 5 oz. baby lettuces with some of the dressing and divide onto plates.
  • Meanwhile, warm 1/2 lb. fresh crab meat in a skillet over medium heat for 3-4 minutes.**
  • Top the lettuce with some of the crab, some slices of avocado, and thinly sliced celery.***
  • Drizzle more dressing over top, if desired.

Serves two (main course)
Serves four (side dish)
*You can add more or less horseradish and hot sauce (such as Tabasco) to suit your level of heat.
**Or serve it cold.
***About 1 small avocado and 4 stalks of celery for the whole salad.

Tuesday, January 8

Lemon Tahini Carrot Soup

Healthy and flavorful puree of carrot soup

Lemon Tahini Carrot Soup

I find pureed vegetable soups to be incredibly filling, making them a great option for a healthy lunch to sustain you the rest of the day. I've made carrot soups before, this one being a favorite for its rich depth of sweet carrot flavor, but this version is completely different. The carrots become a vessel for the spicy warming flavors of cumin, coriander, and red chile and the lemon tahini swirl adds a wonderful nuttiness and creaminess. The soup has so many complimenting flavors that it's easy to eat a whole bowlful without a nice chunk of crusty bread (something I'm currently avoiding during my food cleanse) as a crutch. I like the freshness that a handful of microgreens adds, but feel free to add whatever toppings you like.

Related Recipes:
- Roasted Carrot Soup
- Pumpkin Soup
- Cheddar Cauliflower Soup

Lemon Tahini Carrot Soup:
  • Heat 2 tbsp. olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.
  • Add in 2 bunches* of peeled, diced carrots, 1 diced onion, 5 smashed garlic cloves, 1/2 tsp. ground cumin, 1/4 tsp. ground coriander, a large pinch of salt, and a pinch of red chile flakes.
  • Cook vegetables for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until softened and starting to brown.
  • Add in 4 c. chicken stock** and bring to a boil, then cover with a lid and lower to simmer.
  • Cook for 20-30 minutes, or until vegetables are very tender.
  • Let soup cool slightly, then transfer to a blender and puree until smooth.
  • Check soup for seasonings and adjust as necessary.***
  • Meanwhile, whisk 3 tbsp. tahini,**** 2 tbsp. lemon juice, and 2 tbsp. water together until yogurt consistency.
  • Divide soup into bowls and swirl in a dollop of the tahini mixture.
  • Top with a handful of microgreens, optional.

Serves five-six
*About 2 lbs. total.
**Or vegetable stock, if you want to make this truly vegetarian.
***You can also add more stock or water if it needs to be thinned.
****Sesame seed paste, look for it by the nut butters in your grocery store. Yogurt would be nice, but different, as a substitute.

Monday, January 7

Healthy Breakfasts

I'm several days into my food cleanse and have found breakfasts the most successful meal of the day. Instead of my usual bagel and cream cheese, I've been sticking to a little plain yogurt, whole grain cereal, and fresh berries (see above) during the weekdays. For the weekends, I've been enjoying a super nutritious vegetable hash topped with an egg. Usually my hashes are potato-heavy but this version only uses one small Yukon Gold (which has the most fiber out of any potato variety) and is filled with a ton of hearty swiss chard. It's the kind of meal that fills you up for hours and is exciting to eat even if you're not trying to be health-conscious.

Swiss Chard, Mushroom, & Onion Hash:
  • Heat 1 tbsp. olive oil in a large skillet over high heat.
  • Add in 1 finely diced Yukon Gold potato and 1 thinly sliced yellow onion.
  • Cook for 10 minutes, or until the vegetables have started to caramelize and are nearly tender.
  • Add in 1 large head of de-stemmed, chopped swiss chard* and 4 cloves of minced garlic.
  • Stir to wilt the greens, about 1-2 minutes, then add in 1/2 c. chicken stock,** salt, and pepper and scrape any bits from the bottom of the pan.
  • Let all the liquid evaporate, then add in 8 oz. sliced cremini mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes, or until tender.
  • Check for seasoning and divide onto plates.
  • Top with a sunny-side up egg, if desired.

Serves two-three
*This will seem like a lot of chard but will cook down quickly. If it's too much to add to the pan at once, add half and stir til wilted before adding more.
**Or vegetable stock or water.

Friday, January 4

Buffalo Wings & Blue Cheese Dip

These baked wings are a healthier, mess-free way to make buffalo wings at home

Baked Buffalo Wings and Blue Cheese Dip

The Vikings are in the playoffs after an exciting victory against the Packers last weekend. For my fiancĂ© (an obsessive lifelong fan) and me, by association, this is great news especially since it guarantees that we’ll finally be able to watch them play on TV. Instead of paying for a plate of bad buffalo wings and a semi-blocked view of the game at a bar, we can post up on our couch and enjoy food and drinks at our leisure. These wings are a stress-free take on the classic game day food and served with a super chunky and tangy blue cheese dip. They’re super easy to make ahead and can be customized to go as spicy or mild as you like.

Buffalo Chicken Wings & Yogurt Blue Cheese Dip:
For Dip
  • Combine 1/4 c. plain yogurt with 1/4 c. blue cheese crumbles and a splash of milk.
  • Season with salt and pepper and set aside.*
For Wings
  • Line a baking sheet with foil and place a baking rack on top of the sheet.
  • Toss 2 lb. chicken wings** with 1 tbsp. canola oil and season with salt and pepper.
  • Arrange wings on the baking rack in an even layer and place in a 400F oven for 40 minutes, or until crispy and cooked through.
  • Meanwhile, combine 1 tbsp. melted butter, 1/8 c. hot sauce,***  and 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper in a large bowl.
  • Add in the hot wings and toss so that the sauce completely coats each one.
  • Serve with blue cheese dip.

Serves two-four (appetizer)
*Can be made a day in advance and kept covered in the fridge.
**I used drummettes only, as I like them the best.
***The spicier the hot sauce, the spicier the wings will be.

Thursday, January 3

Salted Chocolate Chunk Cookies

So I know I've been sharing healthy recipes and tips all week and now I go and give out a recipe for chocolate chip cookies. In my defense, I made these last weekend while I was still in the holiday state of mind and they were just too delicious not to share. Salted desserts have been big for a while now, but sprinkling some flakes on top of a standard chocolate chip cookie really transforms it into some new and much more exciting. Everyone has their personal preference on chocolate chip cookies and these are just how I like mine: crisp at the edges with a soft center. Using chocolate pieces instead of traditional chips allows for chocolate in every bite.

Salted Chocolate Chunk Cookies:
  • Use an electric mixer to cream together 1 stick room-temperature butter, 3/4 c. brown sugar, 1/2 c. sugar, and 1/4 c. powdered sugar in a bowl.
  • Mix until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, then add in 2 egg yolks, 1 egg, and 1 tsp. vanilla extract.
  • Beat until pale and creamy, about 3 minutes.
  • In another bowl, stir together 1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour, 1 tsp. baking powder, 1/4 tsp. baking soda, and 1/2 tsp. salt.
  • Gradually add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients until just combined, scraping down the bowl a few times.
  • Gently stir in 8 oz. chopped semi-sweet chocolate.
  • Use a tablespoon to drop cookie dough onto two parchment-lined baking sheets, leaving 1" spaces between the cookies.
  • Flatten the cookies slightly and sprinkle generously with flaked sea salt.*
  • Bake in 375F oven for 10-15 minutes, rotating the baking sheets once for even cooking.
  • Remove cookies and let cool slightly before serving.**

Makes twenty-twenty four cookies
*Such a Maldon. The flakes add a nice crunch to the cookies.
**Cookies can be cooled completely and kept in an air-tight container for a few days.

Wednesday, January 2

Food Cleanse

Pictured: Roasted Salmon with Fresh Cherry Tomato Sauce

It's 2013, meaning it's officially the year that I'm getting married! I have less than five months to go and the pressure of looking bride ready is really heating up. I'm not one to diet, but after discovering Bon Appetit's yearly Food Lover's Cleanse, a two week food plan that focuses on resetting your body by eating nutritious meals, I felt inspired to try my own version. Here are some tips I picked up that are helping to shape my food cleanse and hopefully will be incorporated into healthy eating well beyond January.

Healthy Eating tips from Nutritionist Marissa Lippert (see full article here):
  • Drinks: Less booze and more water! Try to limit alcohol to 2-4 drinks per week and drink 2 liters of water per day. Try limiting coffee to one cup per day.
  • Dairy and Refined Sugar & Carbs: Try to drop these altogether, although a small amount of yogurt or feta cheese is alright. Replace refined sugar and flours with more complex whole grains, honey, etc. that will help take your body a longer time to break down.
  • Meat & Fish: Try and limit your meat intake and only eat lean proteins like fish, boneless skinless chicken breasts, and, occasionally, lean beef. Limit portions to the size of your fist (4-6 oz.).
  • Fruit & Veggies: Make sure that over half of your plate is filled with healthy fruit and vegetables. Raw contains more nutrients than cooked.
  • Meal time: Keep meals small and eat often. Having a healthy snack in the afternoon is a great way to keep your energy high and make sure you don't eat a huge meal for dinner.
  • Don't Be Too Strict: Don't stress out about cheating a little every once and awhile. Food should still taste good!

P.S. I've added a new tag to my recipes called "healthy". These recipes are vegetable, lean protein, and whole grain focused. The full list can be found here.