10/15/18

Vegan Split Pea Soup In A Pressure Cooker Adapted From SkinnyTaste


It finally feels like Fall, which means it's soup weather (although for me, almost any weather is soup weather). If you are like me and love split pea soup, you'll want to make my vegan version of SkinnyTaste's Split Pea Soup in a pressure cooker! I added potatoes, because that's what my mom always does, took out the meat, and added a few extra spices.

Remember when slightly over two years ago I received a PowerPressureXL to play with in my kitchen? I've loved that pressure cooker and used it often, but a few months ago noticed that the non stick coating started to come off. Luckily, the company has rebranded itself into PowerQuickPot, updated its pressure cooker model and now has a stainless steel insert! I received the new model and tested it out by making the split pea soup.

Vegan Split Pea Soup In A Pressure Cooker Adapted From SkinnyTaste

Ingredients
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 small onion, diced
2 celery ribs, peeled, diced
1 large Russet potato, peeled, cubed into 3/4" pieces
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons curry powder
2 teaspoons bourbon smoked paprika
1 pound dry green split peas, washed well
1 bay leaf
6 cups water
chopped parsley for garnish

Directions
1. Set the PowerQuickPot to a saute setting. Add olive oil, allow to heat slightly, then add carrots, onion, celery and potatoes. Saute for 5 minutes.
2. Add the rest of the ingredients, other than parsley, and mix to combine.
3. Set the PowerQuickPot to the bean setting. {Note, the bean setting was for 20 minutes. I used a quick release after 15 minutes.}

Adjust the seasoning and serve topped with parsley. Keep in mind the soup will thicken as it sits in the fridge.

This will be lunch today and tomorrow and the day after!

Thanks PowerQuickPot for my new pressure cooker! I'm giving the older version to a friend and sending her a link to a stainless steel insert.

Note: I received the PowerQuickPot as a gift. I'm not being paid for this post. All opinions are my own.

10/9/18

Quick & Easy: Fried Egg, Sweet Plantains & Avocado


Some meals are planned. Others are thrown together in minutes. At least that's how I cook.

Yesterday, I had a day off, lunch was put together in minutes from a bunch of random ingredients I had on hand.

Quick & Easy: Fried Egg, Sweet Plantains & Avocado

1. Defrosted cooked white beans became a white bean dip with a bit of salt, bean cooking liquid, chili powder, and fresh basil.

2. Fried egg.

3. Frozen and baked plantains from the night before were reheated in the same skillet with the fried egg.

4. Cut up tomato and avocado were sprinkled with a bit of salt.

5. Everything got a bit of a freshness kick from the lime juice.

Quick and easy!

10/2/18

Travel Tuesday: Burlington, Vermont


Earlier in September I flew to Burlington, Vermont for a mini solo vacation. I needed a break from DC, and was looking forward to a getaway full of cooler weather, new experiences, great food, and relaxation. I got it all, but the cooler weather.

This is a quick recap with some photos and a list of things I did, saw, and ate. Most of these recommendations came from my friends and social media followers, and I am here to return the favor and share them with you.

Vermont has been on my list of places to visit for a while, and I finally checked it off! The flight from DC was slightly over an hour and not too expensive. I stayed at an AirBnb close enough to the center of the city and walked to most places. Uber was my other mode of transportation and couldn't have been easier.

Food
1) Honey Road (pictured above): This was probably my favorite meal by far. I was able to get a table outside around 5 pm and had a hard time deciding which dishes to order, because I wanted all of them! I ended up ordering hummus, whipped feta, lamb meatballs, and a charred octopus. Plus a cocktail. And dessert. I did not regret a single bite.

2) Willow's Bagels: perfect late breakfast spot. This place was recommended by a receptionist at the yoga place where I dropped in for a class (which was something I've never done on a vacation: highly recommend). I really liked that the bagels were thin and extra toasted. The smoked salmon and the yellow sliced tomatoes were dreamy!


3) Hen of the Wood: start with an oyster happy hour ($1/each), then move over to the chef's table for dinner, as I did. I loved seeing how the food was being prepared. My favorite dish was the toast with hen of the wood mushrooms, bacon and an egg. Again, I had no trouble getting a seat because I was there on an early side and solo.



4) Misery Loves Company: no photos because it was getting dark when I had dinner at this must restaurant with Carey. It was a great way to end my trip: sharing dishes, wine, and dessert and chatting about food, relationships, travel, etc.

Things to do
Shelburne Farms: I Ubered there from the city and it was beyond worth it. I took the tour of the farm and learned about sustainability, sampled cheese, saw beautiful cows, and had lunch. The tour also included the beautiful inn and garden. So picturesque!

Shelburne Vineyard: a quick Uber ride from the farm, this vineyard is not to miss. Sample the wines, walk around, and enjoy the nature.


Sangha Studio: drop in for a class or two and pay what you can. The studio provides mats and blocks.

Spirit of Ethan Allen: take a cruise around the lake!

Green Mountain Railroad Dinner Train: this was the first time I've ever taken a dinner train. I was nervous about sharing a table with strangers. I then was nervous about NOT sharing a table with strangers and having an entire table to myself, but the beauty outside of the windows, the food (I was surprised at how good it was!), and the grand service, made me happy I took this adventure.

Other mentions: take a tour of Citizen Cider, catch a movie at the Merrill's Roxy Cinema, walk through the farmers market.
Happy travels everyone!

9/28/18

Weekend Breakfast: Challah French Toast And Bacon


Who is ready for the weekend!? I know I am.

I wanted to share with you an awesome, super non Kosher, breakfast I made a few weekends ago from the freezer!

Weekend Breakfast: Challah French Toast And Bacon

You see, earlier this month I made an apple and date studded round challah for Rosh Hashannah and had my friend Sarah over with her son to help me celebrate. I sent Sarah home with a chunk of challah for her husband Nick, and froze the rest after slicing it.

In my freezer, I also had individually wrapped slices of bacon. I defrosted both the challah and the bacon overnight, and made breakfast in the morning.

For the bacon, I highly recommend you bake it in the oven on a wire rack set into a baking dish. I sprinkled mine with Cajun spice mix and baked at 430F for about 10 minutes on each side.

The challah French toast is super easy: eggs whisked with a bit of half and half. Challah slices dunked and cooked for about 3-5 minutes on each side.

Have a great weekend!


PS I used Molly Yeh's recipe for the scallion challah, minus the scallions and other extra flavors. I simply added about 3/4 of an apple, diced, and 12 dates also diced.

9/17/18

Vegan Miso And Coconut Milk Red Lentils With Dinosaur Kale Recipe


In need of a quick and easy vegan comfort food recipe!? I have you covered with Vegan Miso And Coconut Milk Red Lentils With Dinosaur Kale Recipe.

Did you miss me? I had a really fun vacation in Burlington, VT and then came back and got a cold and stayed home for an entire week. Oy.

After my vacation, I wanted something healthy but still comforting (you know how hard it is to go back to normal life after so much fun and good food and sleeping in and seeing new things). I decided to use red lentils from my pantry, dinosaur kale from my refrigerator and a few extra ingredients.

I basically did very little prep and dumped everything in my pressure cooker.

Vegan Miso And Coconut Milk Red Lentils With Dinosaur Kale Recipe
Serves 4

1 1/2 cups red lentils
2 teaspoons turmeric
1 bunch dinosaur kale, ribs removed and discarded, torn into pieces
2 cups miso broth
3 garlic cloves, chopped
13.5 ounce can coconut milk
chili powder, to taste

toppings
chopped tomatoes
olive oil
lemon
yogurt, optional

1. Add all ingredients other than toppings into a pressure cooker.
2. Stir to combine.
3. Set the pressure cooker to 8 minutes on beans/lentils setting.

Serve topped with chopped tomatoes, a drizzle of olive oil or a spoon of yogurt or sour cream. A squeeze of lemon juice brightens up this dish really well. Fresh herbs will be good too.

8/30/18

Cajun Spiced Cod With Charred Corn Salad


If you are looking for a healthy meal that is made in less than 20 minutes and is not only colorful, but also has a ton of flavor, make my Cajun Spiced Cod With Charred Corn Salad.

I used defrosted cod, but feel free to use fresh fish. Also, I made my own Cajun spice, but you can buy a jar in your grocery store. If your Cajun spice doesn't have salt, add it to the mix.

This recipe will transfer you to a warmer climate (oh wait...it's a thousand degrees in DC!) and make you feel like you are on vacation. Don't hesitate to have a tropical boozy drink with this dish.

Cajun Spiced Cod With Charred Corn Salad

olive oil
cod 
Cajun spice

corn, charred, kernels cut off (I charred mine directly on the flame of the gas stove, but you can use a grill or a broiler, or simply cut off the kernels and saute them in a skillet)
tomatoes, diced
avocado, diced
red onion, chopped
cilantro, chopped
jalapeno, chopped
lime juice to taste
olive oil
salt & pepper

melon slices

1) Heat olive oil in a non stick skillet. Coat cod on both sides with the Cajun spice and saute for 2-4 minutes on each side depending on the size of the fish.
2) Combine corn, tomatoes, avocado, red onion, cilantro and jalapeno in a bowl and dress with lime juice, olive oil and salt & pepper.
3) Serve the fish with a side of the charred corn salad and a few slices of melon.

8/27/18

Everything But The Kitchen Sink Meatless Monday Salad


Raise your hand if you need to reset your eating after a weekend of tater tots, cake, Mexican food, ice cream, hot dogs, and zero exercise.

Oh, is it just me!? 

I present you with Everything But The Kitchen Sink Meatless Monday Salad aka big ass salad. This salad uses leftover baked red skinned potatoes and all the summer produce you have on hand. If you happen to be a hater of mayonnaise, use olive oil, which will make this salad vegan!

Everything But The Kitchen Sink Meatless Monday Salad

baked red skinned potatoes, cubed
fresh corn kernels
tomatoes, cubed
Persian cucumbers, cubed
cilantro, chopped
pickled red onions
salt and pepper to taste
mayonnaise

The pickled red onions really make this salad! As far as how much of each ingredient to use, I say do as you wish. I had about the same amount of potatoes, corn, tomatoes, and cucumbers. If you want this to be more of a potato salad, add more potatoes!

8/22/18

Plum Almond Cake From Domenica Marchetti


Yesterday as soon as I saw Domenica Marchetti share a link to her Plum Almond Cake recipe on Leite's Culinaria, I decided that I would make it. Yes, another cake.

Miraculously, I had all the ingredients needed for the cake at home! {I did have to make my own almond flour from the slivered almonds, but that was really easy.}

Speaking of miraculous, and this has nothing really to do with the cake or the blog, but DEAR MEN: PLEASE STOP GHOSTING!!!! I suppose this also applies to women who do that. It's cowardly, unkind, and rude, and karma, hopefully will get you. I'm still waiting for that miracle of finding ♥.


Ok, back to the cake. I followed the recipe a hundred percent, and the results were stellar. My condo smelled sweet from the ripe plums, sugar, and almond extract. The cake had a tender inside and crusty outside, and took only minutes to put together. 


Above is the before photo: you add the simple batter to the spring form pan, the plop the halved plums, and top with the mixture of almonds, butter and sugar!

The photo below is the after. Please follow the instructions and allow full 20 minutes for the cake to cool. I did not, and mine broke in a few places, but still tasted awesome warm topped with sour cream!!! 


I had leftovers for breakfast with iced coffee.

Let there be cake!

8/20/18

Quick & Easy Pickled Red Onions With Sumac


One of the ingredients I always have on hand are onions. I add onions to soups, salads, thinly sliced into sandwiches, main dishes, and side dishes.

Pickled onions aren't only easy to make, but can elevate any dish and enhance its flavor.

Last weekend I made a quick batch of pickled onions without using any measurements and with an addition of sumac. It was so good and easy, I decided to make a second batch and to share the recipe with you.

Quick & Easy Pickled Red Onions With Sumac

1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
juice of 1 tangerine
white vinegar
a few dashes of sumac

Place sliced onions into a small jar. Add juice of tangerine and enough white vinegar to cover. Add sumac. Add the lid. Shake. Refrigerate for at least a few hours.

I've added these onions to a pulled pork sandwich, tuna salad, and a big potato salad that I'll blog about later this week.

8/14/18

Peach Upside-Down Cake from Secrets of the Southern Table by Virginia Willis


At the beginning of this year, I decided to make more recipes that will challenge my culinary skills. This past weekend, I did just that when I baked Peach Upside-Down Cake from Secrets of the Southern Table by Virginia Willis

I've been following Virginia Willis on social media for a while, and bought a ticket to a dinner she hosted in DC as soon as I saw it announced. The dinner was part of her book tour for the newly released Secrets of the Southern Table. I received a preview copy of the book from Virginia's publishers, and as soon as I tried the Peach Upside-Down Cake at dinner, I knew I'd have to make it. 

During the dinner I also tried and loved Virginia's shrimp and grits, but the highlight of the night was hearing about the new cookbook and the stories of Southern cuisine. Virginia researched the book for a year and shares stories of farmers, makers and growers, and immigrants who have impacted the food. You'll learn that Southern cuisine is not just okra, shrimp and grits, and fried chicken. The book includes recipes for dishes such as shredded beef arepas, Mexican chocolate pudding, tomato-ginger green beans, and chicken and butterbean paella.

But let's talk about cake for now!

This was my first time making an upside-down cake, and I was nervous. Would it come out as light and flavorful as Virginia's? Will it stick to the cast iron skillet? Will my friend who came over for her belated birthday celebration like it? Well, I had nothing to worry about.




PEACH UPSIDE-DOWN CAKE from SECRETS OF THE SOUTHERN TABLE by VIRGINIA WILLIS. Copyright © 2018 by VIRGINIA WILLIS. Used by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

Peach Upside-Down Cake
Serves 10

Southern peaches are something special. The trouble is, you pretty much have to live in the South to understand what the fuss is about, because peaches bought elsewhere are most often picked green and hard before shipping. 

When ag-entrepreneur Stephen Rose moved to Nashville in the summer of 2010, he made a disheartening discovery: No one was selling fresh, flavorful peaches like the kind he’d grown up with in Peach County, Georgia. He had an idea. He and his wife bought a 1964 Jeep truck and started selling big, beautiful, juicy Georgia peaches out of their cab in Nashville. Within five weeks, the city had consumed over ten tons of their brown-bagged peaches. Now the Peach Truck Tour travels through Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, and Pennsylvania!

Pineapple upside-down cake is a Southern classic and is most often made with canned pineapple.

This version uses fresh peaches and is a vast improvement, in my opinion. You can use all-purpose flour instead of the cake flour, but the results will be a bit heavier and slightly dense.

4 medium peaches (about1½ pounds), unpeeled and cut into⅓-inch-thick wedges
Juice of 1 lemon
1 cup cake flour, not self-rising
¾ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 cup granulated sugar
10 tablespoons (½ cup plus 2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
2 large eggs
½ cup sour cream

Bourbon Cream (recipe follows)

1.Heat oven to 350ºF. Line a rimmed baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. (This step helps with cleanup.)

2.Toss the peaches with the lemon juice in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and baking soda.

3.Cook ¼ cup of the granulated sugar over medium heat in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, for 10 minutes, or until the sugar melts and turns a deep amber color. Remove from the heat. Immediately add 2 tablespoons of the butter and stir vigorously. Arrange the peach wedges in concentric circles over the sugar mixture, overlapping them as needed.

4.In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the remaining ¾ cup granulated sugar, ½ cup butter, and vanilla bean seeds on medium speed until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until blended after each addition. Add the sour cream and beat until blended. With the mixer running on low speed, gradually add the flour mixture, beating just until blended and stopping to scrape bowl as needed. Spoon the batter over the peaches in the skillet and spread to cover. Place the skillet on the prepared baking sheet.

5.Bake until golden brown and a wooden toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool in the skillet on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Run a knife around edge to loosen.

6.Carefully pour out any excess liquid from the skillet into a measuring cup and set aside. (It’s okay if you don’t have any excess liquid—it all depends on how juicy your fruit is.) Carefully invert the cake onto a serving plate and drizzle with any reserved liquid. Let cool slightly, about 10 minutes. Cut into wedges using a serrated knife. Top with bourbon cream and serve immediately.

Bourbon Cream

Makes about 1 cup

½ cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon bourbon


1.Combine the cream and bourbon in a large bowl. Refrigerate, along with a whisk, for at least 15 minutes. Once chilled, beat the cream with the chilled whisk until it holds soft peaks, 3 to 5 minutes.



The recipe was incredibly easy to follow and filled my condo with such a sweet aroma. I used only 3 peaches and vanilla extract instead of vanilla bean. The cake had no trouble coming out of the cast iron skillet and had crispy edges, while remaining tender on the inside.

I did not have bourbon and used orange flavored vodka for the topping ;)

The only downsize of this baking project was the mess I left in my kitchen!

8/6/18

Summer Eggplant, Zucchini & Pepper In A Pressure Cooker


Good morning! It's another Monday, and I have another Meatless Monday recipe for you. Don't worry, I eat plenty of meat ;)

Last night I was thinking about how to use summer produce I had in my refrigerator including an eggplant, red pepper, and a zucchini. I considered making ratatouille, but could not be bothered to saute all the vegetables in a skillet. Instead, I decided to literally dice and dump all the vegetables into my pressure cooker and call it a night. The results were awesome!

Summer Eggplant, Zucchini & Pepper In A Pressure Cooker
Serves 4-6

Ingredients
1 large eggplant, diced
1 red pepper, diced
1 zucchini, diced
1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, sliced
14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
salt & pepper to taste
drizzle olive oil
1/3 cup chopped parsley, more to garnish

Directions
1. Add all the ingredients into a pressure cooker (other than the garnish parsley). 
2. Using the vegetable option, pressurize for 10 minutes.
3. Release the steam, taste, add more salt if needed. Serve topped with chopped fresh parsley.

My condo smelled so good! You can serve this dish as a side, use it as a base for shakshuka, puree into a soup, or pulse a few times in a food processor to turn into a chunky salsa.

8/2/18

Broccoli Rabe With Hazelnuts & Feta


I don't know about you, but I love the slightly bitter taste of broccoli rabe. To me, it's a grown up version of broccoli, and is so much prettier with thinner stalks and beautiful leaves. Paired with other strong flavors, whether salty, sweet, or spicy, broccoli rabe's bitterness is lessened, and you end up with a quick and easy dish that can be a light meal in itself or a great side.

Broccoli Rabe With Hazelnuts & Feta
Ingredients
olive oil
broccoli rabe
salt
red pepper flakes
hazelnuts
feta, crumbled

Directions
1. Heat a non stick skillet. Drizzle in olive oil. Allow the oil to heat.
2. Add broccoli rabe to the skillet, season with salt and red pepper flakes and quickly saute until the vegetables are tender.
3. Meanwhile, in a different skillet, lightly brown whole hazelnuts in a bit of olive oil and season with salt. Even if your nuts are already toasted, this will wake up their natural flavor a bit more.
4. Plate the broccoli rabe and top with hazelnuts and feta.

You can drizzle this side with a bit of light honey or reduced balsamic vinegar in the end!

This dish is best cooked right before you will serve it. Don't make enough for leftovers as the broccoli rabe will become soggy.

Eat your greens!!

7/30/18

Shishito Peppers With Corn, Feta, Crema & Bourbon Smoked Paprika


This Shishito Peppers With Corn, Feta, Crema & Bourbon Smoked Paprika was inspired by a recipe Washington's Green Grocer posted on their instagram and insta story. 

I changed a few ingredients and absolutely loved it! If you love Mexican corn, you need to make this dish while the corn is fresh and sweet.

Shishito Peppers With Corn, Feta, Crema & Bourbon Smoked Paprika

Ingredients
olive oil
shishito peppers
fresh corn kernels
salt
feta, crumbled
bourbon smoked paprika
Mexican crema (or use a combination of Greek yogurt thinned out with a bit of lime juice)
chiffonade of basil (feel free to use cilantro)

Directions
1. Heat two skillets. Add olive oil. In one skillet add corn kernels and saute until golden. In another skillet, preferably cast iron, blacken shishito peppers.
2. Season corn and shishito peppers with salt and add to a plate.
3. Top with feta, bourbon smoked paprika, a drizzle of Mexican crema, and basil.

The photo looks messy, but I hope you will still try out this combination of flavors. 

7/25/18

Quick & Easy Entertainment: Piquillo & Artichoke Bruschetta


Looking for a quick and easy entertainment idea? Bruschetta fits the bill perfectly.

My friend Allison came over this past Monday for a night of The Bachelorette, and I thought it'd be fun to make bruschetta to go with vinho verde, hummus, brie, and other chips and dips.

You start with toasted sliced bread, add a topping, and dig in.

I usually think of bruschetta topping made with tomatoes, but this time around I picked up a jar of piquillo & artichoke bruschetta from World Market. {Fun fact: I used to work at World Market ages ago part time, and still love shopping there.}

Of course you can easily make this topping yourself by combining chopped piquillo peppers (or roasted red peppers) with chopped marinated artichoke hearts and a bit of olive oil.

Quick & Easy Entertainment Piquillo & Artichoke Bruschetta

Ingredients
baguette, sliced diagonally into 1/4" slices
olive oil
garlic clove, sliced lengthwise
piquillo & artichoke bruschetta topping
fresh basil, sliced

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 400F.
2. Brush each side of sliced baguette with olive oil and bake for 3-6 minutes on each side, depending on how golden brown you want your bread.
3. Rub halved garlic clove onto each slice of toast.
4. Top each slice with piquillo & artichoke bruschetta and basil.

Easy summer entertainment!!

7/23/18

Quick & Easy Vegetarian Summer Meal


Quick & Easy Vegetarian Summer Meal is something you can have for lunch or dinner any day of the week, but especially for Meatless Monday. This combination of ingredients requires almost no cooking.

Half of the items on the plate come from Washington's Green Grocer; the other half come from Trader Joe's. Neither is a paid contributor ;) I love both.

Last night I needed a quick meal with some color and flavor as a counterpart to the gloomy rainy weekend.

1) Corn: husk the corn and wrap it in aluminum foil and then grill it directly on the gas flame turning occasionally.

2) Feta

3) Tomatoes: sliced and sprinkled with kosher salt

4) Eggplant spread: topped with chopped red onions. This Trader Joe's spread is beyond addicting and can be eaten as a side or spread on toast or used in sandwiches or as a dip.

5) Shishito peppers: blistered in a cast iron with a bit of olive oil. Sprinkled with kosher salt and a bit of feta.

Filling. Colorful. Healthy.

7/17/18

Cajun Smoked Salmon Salad Recipe


Love smoked salmon? Looking for something more fun than plain cream cheese to schmear on your bagel? Then you need to try my Cajun Smoked Salmon Salad Recipe.

You want to buy Cajun Flavored Smoked Salmon that comes in one piece instead of sliced smoke salmon. If you can't find Cajun Flavored Smoked Salmon, get regular smoked salmon that comes in a large unsliced piece and add some of this spice mix

Cajun Smoked Salmon Salad Recipe
Ingredients
Cajun Flavor Smoked Salmon, flaked
zest of a lemon
finely chopped Vidalia onion
chopped cilantro
lemon juice to taste
enough mayonnaise to combine

I know...there are no amounts listed. I wasn't planning on blogging about this, but my friend Laura said I should. Trust your gut and add as much or as little of each ingredient as you wish. Combine them all in a bowl.

This salad is incredibly flavorful and yet light. I had it with an everything bagel, tomatoes and cucumbers. 

7/12/18

Vegan Thai Corn, Potato & Zucchini Soup


Are you swimming in the sea of summer corn and zucchini? If the answer is yes, then this Vegan Thai Corn, Potato & Zucchini Soup is perfect for you.

I saw a recipe for Thai-Style Corn Chowder on TheKitchn and adapted it slightly to fit what I had on hand.

First, I used only 2 red skinned potatoes, and added 2 large zucchini. I also used vegetable broth instead of chicken broth. Finally, I pureed part of the soup to improve the texture.

The one recommendation I'm still figuring out is whether to mince the lemon grass*** or simply bruise it using the back of the knife because I did not like the texture of the minced lemongrass in the soup. You decide!

Vegan Thai Corn, Potato & Zucchini Soup
Adapted from TheKitchn
Serves 4-6
Ingredients
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 red skinned potatoes, cut into bite-size pieces
1 Thai chili pepper, finely chopped {do NOT touch your eyes after}
1 3" piece of lemongrass, bruised with the back of the knife to release the flavor
salt to taste
4 cups vegetable broth
4 cups fresh corn {if you are making this soup in the winter, use defrosted corn}
2 zucchini, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced
1 13.5 to 15 ounce can coconut milk
chopped cilantro
lime wedges

Directions
1. Heat a heavy bottomed soup pot on the stove. Add olive oil and allow it to heat.
2. Add chopped onions and allow to cook until translucent.
3. Add potatoes, chili pepper and lemongrass and saute for 5 minutes.
4. Season with salt. 
5. Add just enough broth to cover the vegetables, bring to a simmer and cook 5 to 8 minutes, covered, until potatoes are tender.
6. Add corn and zucchini and the rest of the broth. Bring to a simmer and continue cooking for a few more minutes.
7. Fish out the lemongrass and discard.
8. Off the heat, add coconut milk.
9. Carefully ladle a few cups of the soup into a blender. Blend until smooth and add back into the soup pot.
10. Serve the soup garnished with cilantro and a squeeze of lime juice.

*** Rereading the recipe, I noticed the lemongrass was finely grated, not minced. Oy. Clearly I did not pay enough attention.

7/9/18

Meatless Monday: Summer Burrata Salad With Tomatoes, Peaches & Cherries


Over the weekend I made a Summer Burrata Salad With Tomatoes, Peaches & Cherries, and it was divine!

Burrata is somewhat costly, but is a great splurge from time to time. Usually served with fresh tomatoes, a drizzle of olive oil and salt, the salad is a great start to a meal or a light meal in itself. I added a few extra ingredients to make a stunning (if I say so myself) plated salad.


Summer Burrata Salad With Tomatoes, Peaches & Cherries
Ingredients
1 ball burrata
tomatoes (I used kumato, cherry, and golden varieties), sliced or/and quartered
peaches, sliced
Rainier cherries, pitted and halved
pickled corn
basil
chili olive oil
salt  

Directions
1. Tear the burrata ball. Arrange tomatoes, peaches, cherries, and pickled corn in a pleasing pattern.
2. Top with basil.
3. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt.

Here's to more gorgeous summer salads!!

7/5/18

Healthy Eating: Zucchini, Tomato & Cod Recipe


This Zucchini, Tomato & Cod Recipe is super quick, satisfying, healthy, and reheats well. I wasn't planning on blogging about it, but after tasting my creation, I wanted to share it with you.

If you have had one too many burgers or hot dogs yesterday at the 4th of July get together, or are drowning in the number of zucchini from your garden, or don't eat meat on Fridays, or just want something that feels light, make this dish!

Zucchini, Tomato & Cod Recipe
Serves 4

Ingredients
2 teaspoons olive oil
3 zucchini, quartered lengthwise and cut into 1/4" slices
3 summer squash, quartered lengthwise and cut into 1/4" slices
1/2 large Vidalia onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
2 14.5 ounce cans of diced tomatoes (I use Muir Glen: not sponsored. I really like them and order them by the case on Amazon.)
1-2 pinches red pepper flakes
4 cod filets (or use halibut or tilapia or even shrimp)
fresh basil

Directions
1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add zucchini, summer squash, onions, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper and saute until the vegetables are tender.
2. Add diced tomatoes and their juices and red pepper flakes and bring to a low simmer.
3. Submerge cod in the zucchini/summer squash/tomato stew and simmer, covered, until the fish is cooked through. This may take 5-15 minutes depending on the size of the fish: check the fish with a fork to make sure it is cooked through.
4. Serve topped with fresh basil.

NOTES:
1. I used defrosted cod. It worked really well.
2. You can use sliced peppers into the stew in step #1.
3. Olives or capers would be a great addition to this dish.

7/2/18

Meatless Monday: Tomato Sourdough Toast! Taste Of Summer



In the words of Oprah, I LOVE BREAD!!! During the Summer months, I love the simplicity of tomato sandwiches. Mine usually include toasted bread, mayonnaise, tomato, and salt.

When your recipe has only a few ingredients, you need to make sure to use the best ones. This Tomato Sourdough Toast comes from my visit to Penn Quarter Farmers Market last Thursday where I bought a gorgeous ripe tomato from Toigo Orchards and half a loaf of sourdough from Seylou. {Thank god I only bought half of the loaf: I've been eating it daily and my scale is not happy about it. My taste buds, however, are rather pleased by this crusty bread with tender inside!}

For the rest of the ingredients, I used mayonnaise, thinly sliced red onions, Kosher salt, and baby basil. 


Tomato Sourdough Toast
1) Toast sliced bread and allow to cool
2) Smother the toast with mayonnaise
3) Add a layer of thinly sliced red onion and a layer of thick slices of tomatoes
4) Sprinkle with Kosher salt
5) Top with baby basil

PS What do you think of my new background? I took an old wood table I haven't used in ages and distressed it with a hammer, a few nails, and then stained it!

6/28/18

Beef & Kimchi Korean Stew With Potatoes & Zucchini: How To Host A Korean Feast At Home

This past Sunday my friends Jenn and Cat came over to hang out and cook (and of course eat) Korean food in my condo. It was SO much fun.

If you love Korean food, but are intimidated by cooking it at home, I have the perfect plan of action for you.

You want to keep the menu pretty simple and buy a few things already prepared.

1) Buy banchan and dessert: Jenn brought kimchi, seaweed salad, kimchi cucumbers, fried anchovies, and seasoned sesame leaves. For dessert (which we actually snacked on while cooking), we had rice balls filled with sesame seeds. I've never had these sweets and really liked them!

2) For the main course I chose a kimchi and beef stew made in a pressure cooker! More on it below.

3) While the main course was in the pressure cooker, we whipped up simple scallion and shrimp pancakes. Luckily, Cat was more than happy to cook them (I get a bit scared of hot sizzling oil).

4) To drink, have iced tea and rose on hand!


My entire condo smelled like oil, but it was so worth it! The pancakes were crispy on the edges and took only a few minutes to cook. For the dipping sauce, we combined soy sauce and rice wine vinegar with a bit of Korean chili flakes.


Beef & Kimchi Korean Stew With Potatoes & Zucchini: How To Host A Korean Feast At Home
Serves 6
Adapted from Two Sleevers

In my version of the stew, we used fresh mushrooms instead of dried, and added peppers, potatoes and zucchini. If you can't find Korean peppers and zucchini, use regular ones. Cat bought produce from an Asian market and that's how they were labeled there.

Ingredients
2 cups kimchi
1 pound stew beef cubes
1 small onion, chopped
8 ounces sliced shitake mushrooms
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons ginger powder (I did not have fresh ginger)
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon Korean chili powder
1 tablespoon gochujang
1/4 teaspoon sugar
2 cups water
4 Korean peppers, sliced (or use 1 green bell pepper)
2 Russet potatoes, peeled, cubed
3 Korean zucchini, cut into large dice
1 cup diced firm tofu
rice to serve
scallions, chopped

Directions
1. Put all the ingredients (other than potatoes, zucchini, tofu, rice, and scallions) into a pressure cooker. Set for 15 minutes.
2. Release the pressure. Add potatoes. Set for 5 more minutes.
3. Release the pressure. Add zucchini. Set for 3 minutes.
4. Release the pressure. Add tofu. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.
5. Serve the stew over rice garnished with scallions.

Talk about comfort food!!! The stew wasn't overly spicy, but had so much flavor from the kimchi and the vegetables and the beef. I added a bit of kimchi and kimchi juice to my portion before eating it. The addition of potatoes was so good: who doesn't like meat and potatoes!?

The stew makes about 6 portions and is great for leftovers!


This rose is so refreshing, has a pretty label, and is under $10!


Here's to more cooking adventures with friends!

6/22/18

Weekend Inspiration: Flower Power


Weekend is almost here! I want to remind you once again to treat yourself to some flowers! Find your own sunshine!

Earlier this week I bought a miniature sunflower plant at Whole Foods for only $2.99!! That's cheaper than a fancy coffee, will last longer, and will bring you so much joy. Plus, no calories ;)

6/18/18

Meatless Monday: Cold Borsch


What is better on a hot summer day than cold soup? Of course I can think of a few things, but a bowl of Cold Borsch is not only beautiful, low calorie, and satisfying, but is also nutritious, can be made a few days ahead, and is quite versatile.

I wrote about making Cold Borsch a while back, but made a variation on that recipe yesterday in honor of my dad because he's the king of borsch!


I started the night before by cooking peeled and diced beets in plenty of salted water. I separately cooked a few diced potatoes in salted water.

Once the vegetables and the liquids were cool, I drained the potatoes and added them to the cooked beets and the beet liquid.

The next day, I added Greek Yogurt, diced cucumbers, diced red onion, and plenty of chopped dill to the soup. 

I used Greek yogurt instead of buttermilk, because I already had it in my refrigerator. If you use buttermilk, you'll probably have plenty of leftovers. Don't worry: I have plenty of recipes for you that include buttermilk. Everything from appetizers, to main courses, to dessert!

You can also add hard boiled eggs, radishes, other herbs such as basil, and wilted spinach!

6/13/18

Quick & Easy Ground Lamb With Zucchini & Corn


I'm back from vacation in Seattle with a Quick & Easy Ground Lamb With Zucchini & Corn Recipe. My friends from Superior Farms challenged me to create a quick healthy weeknight dinner recipe using ground lamb and provided a stipend for ingredients.

Given that the temperatures are rising and the summer produce is starting to show up, I wanted to make a recipe that took minutes to make and featured some of my favorite summer produce: corn and tomatoes!

Quick & Easy Ground Lamb With Zucchini & Corn
Serves 4

Ingredients
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 pound ground lamb
1 large zucchini, diced
kernels from 2 ears of corn
salt & pepper to taste
4 whole wheat pita (the ones I found had 130 calories each)
1/3 cup crumbled feta
1/3 cup halved cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped dill
hot sauce to taste

Directions
1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add ground lamb and saute on medium heat for 5 minutes.
2. Pour out most of the fat.
3. Add zucchini and corn, season with salt and pepper, and saute for 15 minutes.
4. Toast pitas (in the oven or directly on the gas flame or in a cast iron skillet).
5. Serve a quarter of lamb mixture topped with a quarter of feta, tomatoes and dill, drizzled with as much of hot sauce as you like.
6. This can be eaten with the cut up pita OR you can cut the pita in half and make pita pockets.

This dish had a lot of flavor but did not feel heavy. You can serve this mixture on a bed of salad greens or on top of cubed and roasted sweet potato or use it to make stuffed peppers.

5/21/18

Vegan Eggplant, Chickpea & Tomato With Israeli Cous Cous Meal Prep


Let me tell you about a vegan dish that's full of flavor, color, nutrients, and is perfect for meal prep for the week.

Vegan Eggplant, Chickpea & Tomato With Israeli Cous Cous Meal Prep

Ingredients for 4-6 servings

1 tablespoon olive oil, more if needed
1 medium sized Italian eggplant, diced into 1/4" pieces
1 small onion, diced
2 cans diced tomatoes
2 cans chickpeas, drained {I used home cooked chickpeas}
1/3 cup halved Kalamata olives
salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste
2 cups cooked Israeli cous cous
fresh basil

Directions
1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add eggplant and onions and saute on medium heat until the eggplant is tender. Add more oil if needed.
2. Add canned tomatoes and their juices, chickpeas, and olives. Season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes, and bring the mixture to a hard simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes.
3. Add cooked cous cous. Mix to combine.
4. Serve topped with fresh basil. 

5/16/18

Summer Chicken Soup. Meal Prep In A Pressure Cooker.


Let's talk about soup: I love it. Whether it's a bowl of cold summer borsch or a steaming bowl of split pea soup, soup provides nourishment, is great for leftovers, and can be eaten for any meal of the day. Yes, I occasionally eat soup for breakfast.

Over the weekend, I made a version of Pinch of Yum's Instant Pot Summer Soup and am so happy with the results. 

Let me tell you about this Summer Chicken Soup


The base of the recipe is a combination of chicken broth and crushed tomatoes. I used crushed tomatoes with basil to increase the flavor.

There's no need to saute carrots and celery before adding them to the pressure cooker. To make things easier, I did not even peel the carrots.

You can use whichever spices you like the most. In addition to onion powder and salt, I seasoned the soup generously with sumac, which intensified the deep red color of the soup.

I did not have farro, so used brown rice.

As far as the chicken goes, I actually used 2 large chicken breasts with the bones. They were less expensive and provided even more flavor to the soup. Plus, you shred the chicken and can easily discard the bones before serving the soup.

Originally I thought about using frozen corn, but am so glad I ended up incorporating fresh corn because it added a nice texture to the soup.

I topped my bowl of Summer Chicken Soup with strained yogurt, fresh cilantro and Parmesan.

Note that the brown rice (or whichever grain you use) will expand in the soup as it sits in the refrigerator. Not to worry: add a bit more chicken broth when reheating the soup.

Tell me what's the latest soup you ate!