Farmers Market Frittata

Not sure what you guys do with your Saturdays but mine usually start at farmers market. I go and get a mocha from the coffee cart and then start my rounds. This usually includes eating enough samples to qualify as breakfast and filling up my giant market bag so full I can barely carry it back to the car.

For this frittata, you can put just about anything in it that you happen to have on hand. This week I had purchased zucchini, cherry tomatoes, goat cheese and red onions. And eggs! Don’t forget the lovely eggs from happy happy chickens who wander around and peck things and live like chickens should. Feel free to substitute ingredients if there is something you like better or need to use up!

This makes a dandy breakfast, but I’ve also been known to serve it with a giant green salad and call it dinner.

Farmer's Market Fritatta

Farmer’s Market Fritatta

Farmer’s Market Frittata

1 zucchini, sliced
Handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
1/3 cup red onion, sliced
Goat cheese
Parmesan
5 eggs
Salt & pepper

Chop veggies. Beat eggs with a bit of salt & pepper in a bowl. Set aside. Heat 10″ skillet over medium heat. Add a bit of olive oil. Add onion and cook for a minute or two. Add zucchini and tomatoes. Sprinkle with a dash of salt and pepper. Cook for 1-2 minutes until zucchini is barely tender.

Veggies in the pan. Just a quick saute is all they need to bring out the flavor!

Veggies in the pan. Just a quick saute is all they need to bring out the flavor!

Pour eggs over veggies. Swirl to cover veggies evenly. Dot with goat cheese and sprinkle with a bit of parmesan.

If some of your veggies stick out don't worry about it, it will all come together just fine.

If some of your veggies stick out don’t worry about it, it will all come together just fine.

Cover and turn heat down to medium low. Cook for 5-10 minutes until eggs are set on top. Cut into wedges and serve hot. Pairs perfectly with a side of fruit or salad.

 

 

 

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Fish Tacos with Strawberry Salsa

At farmer’s market this week I was shocked to still see strawberries. In October? Yep. There might be something to this climate change thing after all. In any case, as long as they are here I’ll keep eating them. The other thing that is plentiful, huge and super cheap right now is cabbage. Let me tell you I have become very creative with using cabbage. It’s just so hard to pass up such a good deal.

These tropical tacos are easy to make, and simple to modify with different fruits based on whatever you have available. This was a particularly tasty combo and the first time I’ve paired strawberries and fish, but it really worked well!  Plus they are so colorful they practically jump off the plate and into your mouth. If you can’t find mahi mahi, substitute any firm, mild white fish and it will work just fine.

One of the best ways I’ve found to get my kids to eat fish is to put it in a taco. Smothering it with fruit is just taking it up an extra notch in their book.

This recipe made more fruit salsa than we needed for the tacos, but don’t worry! The stuff is delicious on its own, or on top of a green salad, mixed into yogurt, or served over ice cream!

Fish Tacos with Strawberry Salsa

Fish Tacos with Strawberry Salsa

Mahi Mahi Tacos with Strawberry Salsa

Fish:
1 pound mahi mahi or other firm white fish
Lemon pepper
Ground chile powder (I like the plain ground ancho chile powder but if you have regular chili powder blend that will work fine as well)
Salt

Strawberry Salsa:
1 pint strawberries, chopped
1-2 cups pineapple, chopped
1 red or green chile or jalapeno, minced
2-3 tbsp. cilantro, minced
1/3 cup red onion, diced
Juice of half a lime
Ground chile powder
Dash of salt

Cabbage:
2 cups red cabbage, thinly sliced
2-3 tbsp. sour cream (or you can sub mayo or greek yogurt)
Juice of half a lime

Corn or flour tortillas

In a mixing bowl mix all ingredients for the salsa. I do this first so it can kind of marinate together while everything else is cooking.

Strawberry Pineapple Salsa

Strawberry Pineapple Salsa

In another bowl, mix cabbage, sour cream and lime juice. Set aside.

Cabbage mixture  to top off your taco!

Cabbage mixture to top off your taco!

Wrap tortillas in foil and stick in the oven to warm while you cook the fish.

Cut fish into strips or squares. Sprinkle fish with salt, lemon pepper and chile powder on both sides.

I don't measure the spices, just sprinkle to your heart's content.

I don’t measure the spices, just sprinkle to your heart’s content.

Heat a bit of oil in a large skillet. Place fish in the skillet, making sure not to crowd the pan. Do it in 2 batches if needed. Cook 2-3 minutes on each side until cooked through and lightly browned.

Build your taco with a tortilla, a couple of chunks of fish, top with strawberry salsa and cabbage!

Yeah, it's a total mess when you eat it, especially if you go crazy overfilling it like this. But it's worth it! For less mess, go a little lighter with the fillings.

Yeah, it’s a total mess when you eat it, especially if you go crazy overfilling it like this. But it’s worth it! For less mess, go a little lighter with the fillings.

My son Luke prefers his taco deconstructed so he can eat it with a fork:

Don't like wrestling with messy tacos? Make a taco plate instead!

Don’t like wrestling with messy tacos? Make a taco plate instead!

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Beef Daube Provençal

Fall is here and I for one could not be happier! As much as I love the sunshine, I had missed the cool, crisp mornings and stormy evenings. And of course I missed pots of soup and comforting meals hot from the oven. So goodbye summer salads and hello fallish flavors and comfort food.

I suppose this is nothing more than a glorified beef stew, but it’s a top notch version of beef stew. And who doesn’t love beef stew anyway? The wine and slow cooking give this dish a rich, full flavor that really can’t be beat. And serving it over noodles? Pure genius. They soak up the extra juices, elevating this “stew” to fork food. It doesn’t take much time to throw together, but plan ahead for this one since it cooks 2-3 hours in the oven. It’s well worth the wait. And hey, if you get bored, there’s always the rest of that bottle of wine to keep you busy.

Beef Daube Provençal

Beef Daube Provençal

Beef Daube Provençal
(from Cooking Light)

2 tsp. olive oil
12 garlic cloves, crushed
1 (2 pound) boneless chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 2 inch cubes
1 1/4 tsp. salt, divided
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper, divided
1 cup red wine
2 cups chopped carrots
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1/2 cup beef broth
1 tbsp. tomato paste
1 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
Dash of ground cloves
1 (14.5) can diced tomatoes
1 bay leaf
3 cups cooked medium egg noodles

Preheat oven to 300°. Heat a small Dutch oven over low heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add garlic; cook 5 minutes or until garlic is fragrant, stirring occasionally. Remove garlic with a slotted spoon; set aside. Increase heat to medium-high. Add beef to pan (you may need to do this in batches so you don’t overcrowd the meat); sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook 5 minutes, browning on all sides. Remove beef from pan. Add wine to pan; bring to a boil, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Add reserved garlic, beef, remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper, carrots, and next 8 ingredients (through bay leaf), and bring to a boil. Cover and bake at 300° for 2 1/2 hours or until beef is tender. Discard bay leaf. Serve over noodles.

Note: To make in a slow cooker, prepare through Step 2. Place beef mixture in an electric slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for 5 hours or until beef is tender.

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Summer Eating, Lazy Cooks, and Tomatillo-Corn Sauté

Someone asked me today if this was the end of the Hungry Monkeys. Definitely not! I’m still here. Admittedly I’ve been excessively lazy this summer when it comes to writing my blog, or cooking, or well, lots of things. It’s summer, and it’s hot. The kids are out of school, we have been out and about (mostly trying to stay cool since our house has no air conditioning) and cooking has just not taken a high priority lately.

I’ve been doing about 75% of my grocery shopping at farmers markets. Most of my shopping trips look something like this:

Summer shopping.

Summer shopping.

And most of the meals I make at home look something like this:

Veggies, fruit, sauteed peppers and poached eggs. Breakfast, lunch or dinner of champions!

Veggies, fruit, sautéed padron peppers and poached eggs. Breakfast, lunch or dinner of champions!

Or this:

Tomatillo-corn sauté, three bean salad and sliced tomatoes with goat cheese.

Tomatillo-corn sauté (recipe below), three bean salad and sliced tomatoes with goat cheese.

If I’m eating like a rabbit, why am I not jumping up and down at having reached my fitness and weight goals this summer, you might ask?  Because…in between my very healthy and wonderful farmer’s market meals I’ve been eating out waaaaay too much, and the other 25% of my grocery shopping is mostly made up of Trader Joe’s buckets of cookies and other goodies.

So. Kids go back to school next week, a regular routine will once again be established to some degree, weather will be getting cooler and my oven will once again be in constant use. And I am looking forward to all of that!

In the meantime, as I look through the photos on my camera that I’ve accumulated over the few times I have cooked something this summer (ahem, 124 photos, yikes!) I will endeavor to remember how I made the delicious food pictured therein and post a few blogs.

For now, I’ll give you the very simple but delicious recipe for the tomatillo-corn sauté pictured above. This is a recipe invented by my Aunt Debi which she made for us when we went to visit her and paint on her wall a few weeks ago. It was so delicious I just had to make it two or three more times when I came home. I add a little red onion to my version. The three bean salad was something that Trader Joe’s was sampling the other day that I was all too happy to copy at home. Simply a can of garbanzo beans (drain and rinse), a can of kidney beans (drain and rinse), and raw green beans chopped up. Combine all three kinds of beans and add a generous splash of rice vinegar and some salt and pepper.

Tomatillo-Corn Sauté

Tomatillo-Corn Sauté

Tomatillo-Corn Sauté
(slightly modified from the original recipe by Debi Hiltenbrand)

6-8 ears of sweet corn
1 cup chopped tomatillos (about a half pound)
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
Salt & pepper
1 heaping spoonful of coconut oil

Heat coconut oil over medium heat. Add onion and tomatillo to pan. Using a sharp knife, slice kernels off of corn cobs. Add corn to the pan. Add paprika and salt & pepper to taste. Sauté over medium heat for at least 1/2 hour, stirring occasionally, until tomatillos and onions are very soft.

And there you have it! Am I the only lazy cook out there this summer? What have you guys been making on hot days?

 

 

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Forget the Lettuce Veggie Salad

When you eat a lot of vegetables, which we do at my house, you get sick of the traditional salad. Sometimes I just don’t want to see another leaf of lettuce, even though I really like salad. But never fear, when salad boredom happens, I tend to just start combining random ingredients in the hopes of inventing something new that everyone will actually eat. It usually works.

I would describe this as a Mediterranean-ish veggie extravaganza. Filling and flavorful, it stands well on its own, or is the perfect side dish for just about anything. As an added bonus, it works well at room temperature which makes it terrific for potlucks and picnics.

No Lettuce Veggie Salad

Forget the Lettuce Veggie Salad

Forget the Lettuce Veggie Salad

1 can great northern beans, drained and rinsed
1 can olives, cut in half
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half
1 zucchini, diced
2 green onions, sliced
1 small can artichoke hearts, drained and quartered or coarsely chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 cup feta, crumbled
2-3 tbsp. olive oil
2-3 tbsp. vinegar
Salt & pepper

Combine all ingredients. Eat.

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Roasted Pepper Black Bean Chili

I know, I know. It’s 80 degrees and I’m making chili. You might think I’m odd, but for me, chili is not just a winter food. One reason is I like it too much to confine it to just one season. The other is that I planted ten pepper plants and I have to find ways to use them, assuming I don’t kill them off before they produce anything. Besides, this is a recipe for the crock pot, which means no heating up the house with the oven!

The basic recipe for this is actually quite similar to my regular chili, but this time I used dried beans and roasted peppers and wow! it tastes completely different. Deeper, smokier, wonderful! You can use whatever combination of peppers you like or happen to have. I’ll list the combo I used, which resulted in a fairly mild but flavorful batch. Feel free to toss in some hotter ones if you are a five-alarm sort of person.

Plan ahead and soak your beans the night before to ensure they get done in the slow cooker. Or you can use canned beans in a pinch. This works well as a vegetarian recipe too, just leave out the ground beef.

Roasted Pepper Chili

Roasted Pepper Chili

Roasted Pepper Chili

2 cups dried black beans
4 cups water
2 poblano peppers
3 anaheim chiles
1 red bell pepper
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 cans fire-roasted tomatoes
1 pound ground beef
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
2-3 tbsp. chili powder
2-3 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. oregano
Salt & pepper

The night before, rinse dried beans. Place in a bowl with at least six cups of water. Let soak overnight. In the morning, drain beans and put in crock pot. In a skillet, brown ground beef and add to crock pot.

Remove seeds and stems from peppers and lay skin-side up on a large cookie sheet. Place under broiler 4-5 minutes, until skin turns black. Remove and put in a paper or plastic bag to cool.

Add onion, garlic, tomatoes, tomato sauce, chili powder, oregano and cumin to crock pot.

Remove peppers from their bag, chop and add to the crock pot. Cover with about 4 cups of water, give it a stir. Cook on high for 6-8 hours until beans are soft. Add salt & pepper to taste.

This was even better the next day!

So good.

So good.

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Polenta Veggie Bowl

I have so many recipes picked out and marked on my weekly menu, and yet…they sit there mostly ignored lately. The reason is that fresh produce is happening, and when I go to farmer’s market, I don’t really make a list. I just buy whatever looks great and is priced right. Usually whatever is coming off the plants is not only the tastiest, but also the cheapest, since it is ripe and plentiful. Of course I buy more than I plan to, because everything looks delicious and then I have a pile of stuff that needs to be used pretty quickly. Aside from the veggies, there is hummus, and fresh goat cheese and oh my, so many wonderful things. And all of this lives in my kitchen during these months. Which all adds up to ignoring my recipes and throwing random ingredients together.

This is a terrific weeknight meal, since it only takes about 15 minutes from start to finish and uses no weird ingredients (if you consider any of these ingredients weird you can swap it for something more “normal” if you’d like). As far as vegetarian meals go, this one is very satisfying.

So set aside your Pinterest recipe board and your cookbooks and magazines, and join me by throwing together whatever random veggies and cheese YOU like and using them to top off a bowl of piping hot and creamy polenta. Mmmm. This is the combo I made, but feel free to substitute. I don’t mind a bit.

Polenta Veggie Bowl

Polenta Veggie Bowl with Goat Cheese. 

Polenta Veggie Bowl
(serves 2)

1 cup polenta
Olive oil
1-2 zucchini
6 (or more) cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup red onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic
6-8 olives (I used green castelvetrano olives, but any kind is fine)
Basil
Salt & pepper
1 tbsp. butter
1/4 cup milk
2 oz. goat cheese, divided

Bring 2 1/2 cups of water or broth to a boil. Add polenta and a pinch of salt. Give it a stir, cover, and turn down heat to low. Cook for 10-15 minutes until liquid is absorbed and polenta is soft and creamy. Remove from heat. Add butter, milk, half of the goat cheese and a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Whisk into the polenta until creamy.

Meanwhile, heat a skillet over medium heat. Add a drizzle of olive oil. Add onion and cook 2-3 minutes until softened. Add garlic and cook another 30 seconds or so. Add zucchini, tomatoes and olives. Cook 2-3 minutes until zucchini is softened but still firm. Taste and season with salt & pepper if needed.

Scoop polenta into a bowl and serve the veggies on top. Sprinkle with remaining goat cheese.

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Sesame Stir Fried Broccoli

I’ve heard some people say they don’t like broccoli because of the way it smells when they boil it. I say don’t boil it at all! A quick sauté in a saucepan is going to give you bright, crisp-tender broccoli that will be far more appetizing than any boiled broccoli mush you’ve eaten in the past.

If you aren’t crazy about how a vegetable (or anything) smells when you are cooking it, one of the best ways to combat it is to cook it with things that smell wonderful. I’ve combined my broccoli with garlic and sesame, both of which smell absolutely divine. Toss in a little crushed red pepper and a splash of soy sauce and you are good to go.

I would put this on a bowl of rice or noodles and call it dinner, but feel free to toss some shrimp, chicken or tofu with it, or just serve it as a veggie side for your favorite main dish.

Sesame Stir Fried Broccoli

Sesame Stir Fried Broccoli

Sesame Stir Fried Broccoli

1-2 heads broccoli, cut into bite size florets (I chop up the stems and include those too)
2 tsp. sesame oil
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp. soy sauce
Toasted sesame seeds for garnish (optional)

Heat large skillet or wok over medium high heat. Add sesame oil, garlic and crushed red pepper. Cook and stir 30 seconds until fragrant. Add broccoli. Cook, stirring often, over medium high heat for 3-5 minutes, or until broccoli is bright green, tender but still crisp. Toss with soy sauce. Add a bit of salt if needed. Garnish with sesame seeds if desired.

 

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Fruity Salad with Basil Vinaigrette and Roasted Polenta

It’s that time of year again when salad becomes an every other night menu item in my house. This is partially due to the no air conditioning equals minimal cooking policy. And partly because I’m trying to fit into my summer clothes from last year.

In any case, salad doesn’t have to be boring. This one has an easy, bright vinaigrette, fresh fruit and yummy roasted polenta rounds to go with it.

The first time I bought polenta in a tube I was leery to say the least. It’s weird. It doesn’t look appetizing. And good food usually doesn’t come in a tube of any kind. BUT. Polenta is one of those weird foods that you cook and then as it cools it will form whatever shape you happen to put it in. The tubes of polenta generally are minimally processed with no extra ingredients. It’s such a wonderful convenience, especially if you are wanting to fry it up like this. Simply take it out of the tube, slice it up and bake it (or you can pan fry it instead). It’s delicious and soooo easy.

To easily get the seeds out of your pomegranate, score around the center (don’t cut all the way through), pull the two halves apart, turn one half over in your palm and beat on it with a wooden spoon. In about 10-15 seconds, you will have a bowl full of pomegranate seeds. Try not to hit your hand with the spoon. For you visual types, check out this video if you don’t believe me or need to see it before attempting. If you like pomegranates, this will change your life. Seriously.

basilvinaigrettesalad3

Salad with Fresh Basil Vinaigrette and Roasted Polenta

6-8 cups salad greens (I used 1/2 leaf lettuce and 1/2 spinach)
1-2 cups sliced purple cabbage
2 ripe pears, seeded & sliced
1/2 pomegranate
1/2 cup feta cheese
1/2 cup walnuts (I lightly toast mine in a skillet but it’s optional)

For the dressing:
3 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. dijon mustard
2 tbsp. olive oil
1/4 cup fresh basil, sliced into thin ribbons or chopped
Salt & pepper

1 tube prepared polenta

Preheat oven to 400˚. Slice polenta in rounds about 1/4 inch thick and spread out on a cookie sheet. Very lightly drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt & pepper. Bake 20-30 minutes until a lightly browned and a bit crispy on the edges. They will still be tender and chewy in the middle.

Polenta "croutons", disks, rounds...whatever you call them, they are crispy, chewy, wonderful good!

Polenta “croutons”, disks, rounds…whatever you call them, they are crispy, chewy, wonderful good!

In a large salad bowl, combine greens, cabbage, pears and pomegranate.

In a small bowl whisk together dijon, vinegar, salt and pepper. While continuing to whisk, add olive oil very slowly, just a tiny drizzle. Stir in basil, taste and adjust seasonings if needed.

Whisk, whisk, whisk to get a dressing that stays together!

Whisk, whisk, whisk!

Add feta, walnuts and dressing to salad bowl and toss gently to combine. Serve with polenta rounds.

If you're going to eat salad, you should definitely eat this one!

If you’re going to eat salad, why not eat this one?

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Pesto Potatoes with Poached Eggs & Spinach

Any meal that is centered around potatoes is going to be a winner in my book. There is no better way to get me to eat a whole bunch of spinach than to pile some wonderful potatoes on top of it.

I’ve been known to make this particular meal for breakfast, lunch or dinner (sometimes more than once in a day if I have leftovers). Not only that but the potatoes used in this regularly show up as a side dish for dinner or breakfast as well.  Now that summer is approaching, I already have one pot of basil growing with more to join it soon, which means pesto in my fridge ALL SUMMER LONG!

If you have your favorite pesto recipe or store brand, feel free to use that. For my fresh basil pesto, click here. Or for something slightly different, try my recipe for hazelnut pesto.

Pesto Potato Masterpiece!

Pesto Potato Masterpiece!

Pesto Potatoes with Poached Eggs & Spinach
(Serves 2-3)

2-3 cups red potatoes, quartered
2-3 tbsp. basil pesto
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
Salt & pepper
Eggs (1-2 per person)
3 cups spinach
Handful of kalamata olives, pitted

For sauce:
1 tbsp. mayonnaise (or olive oil if you don’t like it creamy)
2 tsp. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. pesto

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add potatoes and cook about 10 minutes until fork tender (but not mushy). Drain potatoes. In a bowl, whisk together 2-3 tbsp. pesto, 2 tbsp. olive oil, 2 tbsp. red wine vinegar and a pinch of salt & pepper. Add potatoes and toss to coat.

Divide spinach between two plates.

Spinach

Spinach

 

Top with potatoes.

Then potatoes. Mmm.

Then potatoes. Mmm.

Bring a small pan of water with 1/2 tsp. of vinegar to a boil. Gently break eggs into the pan (1-2 per person). Turn heat down to simmer. Cook 3 minutes until whites are set. Remove with a slotted spoon and lay on top of potatoes.

Perfectly poached eggs on top. If you prefer your eggs a different way, do your own thing here.

Perfectly poached eggs on top. If you prefer your eggs a different way, do your own thing here.

Mix together sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Scatter a few olives on top of the eggs & potatoes. Drizzle everything with sauce, add a grind or two of fresh pepper and eat!

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