Tag Archives: gluten free

CSA Week 5: Stuffed Zucchini and Herbed Polenta

My weekly farm boxes are getting bigger and heavier! As summer squash and root vegetables start to ripen I’m going to need to get myself a pack mule (or just take my teenagers so they can carry the load)! My CSA box for week five included lettuce, kale, beets, NINE (!) zucchini, three cucumbers, blueberries, green beans, cabbage, and japanese eggplant. My new favorite breakfast has become sautéed mixed veggies with scrambled eggs. This uses up a lot of veggies, but there are still plenty left!

While I’ve never been a huge fan of squash in general, I’m starting to like it more and more, which is a good thing, since it seems to be a plentiful ingredient in my weekly mystery boxes. I’ve come to really enjoy zucchini, mostly because it’s just so darn versatile! It’s got a very mild flavor of its own, which makes it perfect for cooking with other things with stronger flavors. It just takes on the taste of whatever you cook it with. By cooking these in “boat” form instead of chopping them up, the zucchini stays nice and firm and absorbs all the yummy tastes of whatever you stuff it with. I had some salami on its last legs and wonderful feta and those big flavors paired so nicely with the more mild zucchini. You could stuff yours with whatever meats, veggies and/or cheeses you have on hand or try this combo. I made a nice creamy polenta to go with it. You can keep it plain and simple, or mix in a bunch of fresh herbs and veggies to bump up the flavor.

Stuffed Zucchini and Herbed Polenta

Stuffed Zucchini and Herbed Polenta

Stuffed Zucchini

3-4 zucchini, cut in half lengthwise
1/4 cup chopped salami or pepperoni
1/4 cup chopped feta
1/4 cup chopped tomatoes
Salt & pepper

Cut eat zucchini in half, lengthwise. Scoop out some of the seeds, making a boat to hold the filling. Chop up some or all of the scooped zucchini. Put in a small bowl with salami, feta and tomatoes and lightly mix. Heap the filling into the zucchini boats. Sprinkle with a bit of salt & pepper. Bake at 375˚ for 10-15 minutes, until zucchini is tender.

Herbed Polenta

1 cup dry polenta
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup mushrooms
1/4 cup red onion
1/4 cup fresh herbs, chopped fine (I used a mixture of chives, parsley, basil & thyme)
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
2 tbsp. butter
Salt & pepper

Bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Add polenta. Turn heat down to low and cover. Cook 5-10 minutes until liquid is absorbed. While polenta is cooking, saute onion, garlic and mushrooms in another pan. Remove polenta from heat and stir in mushroom mixture, herbs, cheese, butter and salt & pepper. Mix well. Serve immediately.

Note: After cooling, polenta will solidify into a block, which you can then slice and pan fry or bake or broil. I usually save the leftovers and pan fry it with eggs for breakfast.

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Spaghetti Squash Gratin

I’m not a squash fan. Or at least, I didn’t use to be. I’ve been gradually teaching myself to like it. The main trick I have learned in teaching myself to like new foods is to start by cooking it in a similar recipe as foods I do like.

I like spaghetti. With red sauce and cheese.  Now I’m not going to tell you that spaghetti squash tastes exactly like spaghetti. It doesn’t really. In fact, it doesn’t really taste like much at all. When you cook it with cheese and spaghetti sauce, mostly what you taste is cheese and spaghetti sauce. But the spaghetti squash has a nice texture (a little firmer than an actual noodle but not that different) and it’s a great conveyance for your favorite flavors.

The star of this dish – for me – was the ricotta topping. It’s hard to feel like you are missing out when you are eating something so rich and creamy. And here’s the kicker. My daughter ate SQUASH and it was all because she loved the ricotta stuff so much. I gave her a tiny spoonful of this dish (I have a rule that you have to at least try everything once) and told her if she hated it she could make herself a sandwich. Normally she hates squash, so this is how I was expecting it to go down. But instead she went back, loaded up her bowl and ate it all. It was some sort of squashy miracle.

One note on cooking the squash: some people cook it whole, some cut it in half. It will cook faster if you cut it in half (in about 45 minutes or so), but wrestling these things into submission when they are raw is not always easy. I found it much easier to break this sucker down when it was cooked and tender, so I left mine whole.

Spaghetti Squash Gratin

Spaghetti Squash Gratin

Spaghetti Squash Gratin
(from Recipe Sweet)

1 spaghetti squash

1 tbsp. olive oil
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced or minced
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1/8 tsp. crushed red pepper
1 (28 oz.) can whole tomatoes, drained and smooshed with your fingers or coarsely chopped (or you can use diced ones)
2 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/4 cup red wine
1/4 basil leaves, coarsely chopped or torn

Gratin Topping:
1 (15 oz.) container part-skim ricotta cheese
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 400˚. Poke your squash with a fork or knife a few times and place in the oven whole (I put mine on a pan just in case it leaked some juices). Roast for 1 – 1 1/2 hours until tender. Let it cool just a bit so you can handle it. (You can do this the day before or earlier in the day if time is an issue).

Slice it in half, scoop out the seeds in the middle (discard the seeds), and then using a fork, comb through the squash, creating “spaghetti” strands. Place these in the bottom of your baking dish. Drizzle with just a bit of olive oil and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Toss a bit with your fingers to combine.

Looks like spaghetti!

Looks like spaghetti!

In a saucepan, heat 1 tbsp. of olive oil. Add garlic and crushed red pepper.  Cook and stir for a minute. Add tomatoes, salt & pepper, Italian seasoning and wine. Bring to a boil and then turn down to a simmer for 15 minutes. Pour over the top of the squash and spread out so all of the squash is covered.

Smother anything in this sauce and it will be good.

Smother anything in this sauce and it will be good.

In a small bowl, combine ricotta, parmesan and seasonings.  Carefully spread ricotta mixture over the top of the red sauce.

Ready to cook!

Ready to cook!

Bake at 400˚ for 40-45 minutes, until lightly browned. Dig in!

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Potato Palooza! My Top 20 in Spuds

This week marked two years since I started this blog. It started with a 30-day vegetarian challenge issued by my daughter, Claire.  From there it has become a fun way to share my love of food and cooking with my family and friends (even the friends I’ve never met!), an online recipe box for myself and an ongoing cooking project for me and my kids to work on together.

To celebrate, I thought I would highlight my favorite food – the potato! I know National Potato Day is in August, but let’s be honest.  If you know me, you know it’s always National Potato Day at my house.  Maybe it’s my Irish side, or maybe just because they are irresistible, but I love them.  And apparently, so do you, since some of these rate among my most popular posts over the last couple of years.  I thought it made sense to have a collection of these favorites all in one place.  So I give to you my top 20 in spuds.

One of the most fun things about potatoes are all the incredible ways to cook them.  Which is your favorite?  It’s so hard to choose! Just click on the photo caption to go to the corresponding post.

The #1 most popular potato post on my site, and in the top five of ALL my posts, you can’t go wrong with this fancy presentation of an old favorite.

Like salt & vinegar potato chips?  You will LOVE these zippy roasted potatoes!

Who says potatoes are a side dish?  Grab yourself some big spuds and let them shine as a main course.

Forget frozen french fries.  Leave the chemicals behind and make them yourself!  Easy and oh so good.

Work out your aggression and enjoy a tasty side dish with these delightful smashed and baked potatoes.

One of my very favorites and a cure-all for just about everything.  Restaurant quality hash browns right in your own kitchen.

Spanish tortilla. One of my favorite tastes of Spain and such a beautiful presentation too!

Easy to throw together for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  And you can even use up your leftovers!

My favorite camping food – but perfect for a lazy evening at home too.

Not your mama’s scalloped potatoes.  No cans of soup here.  Just unbelievably good comfort food.

Breakfast anyone?  Easy baked eggs with a little potato and cheese.

Lemony potatoes, perfect side dish for fish or chicken.  I can eat a whole batch of these by myself. Scroll down past the fish recipe for the potatoes (but the fish is worth stopping for too!).


The most perfect side dish with just about anything, but especially if you are a “meat & potatoes” type.

A very veggie version of Shepherd’s Pie.

The best – and most unusual – stuffed peppers you will ever eat.  A touch of heat and Indian spices make these irresistible.

A classic potato salad to make your grandma (and mine!) proud.

A not-s0-classic potato salad.  This hearty spinach salad features tiny potatoes that steal the show.

Put your leftover baked potatoes to good use in this hearty, comforting soup.

Cheesy, with a southwestern kick.  This is a great spin on the classic potato soup.

Who says potato soup isn’t healthy?  Get your veggies for the day without evening noticing in this delicious concoction.

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Going Green…Chili Style!

Just when I thought I had used up all my shredded pork, a gift came in the form of a gallon bag of shredded smoked pork from my uncle.  Not one to look a gift pig in the mouth, I divided it into a few containers and stuck it in the freezer to be doled out to my family at a later date.  Of course I had to cook some of it right away.  And it tastes amazing!  If you aren’t lucky enough to have people giving you pork, you can use leftovers from my basic pork roast recipe, or simply throw in a small pork roast or some chops.  Since this is a crock pot recipe they will cook up just fine over the course of the day.

When I went to school in Denver, I discovered the best Mexican food I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating.  The general thinking there is to smother just about everything in green chili.  And I am okay with that!  And if you don’t feel like eating it over the top of a burrito, a nice bowl of it works just fine.  As opposed to most other places I’ve lived, in that style of cooking the green sauce is more spicy; the red sauce is the mild stuff.  I didn’t have a recipe for green chili, so I just winged it and was very pleased with the results!  Since we were planning to eat this as a soup/stew, I made this version chunkier than I remember, and added some black beans.  Not that that will stop me from using the leftovers to smother something – like a breakfast burrito!  Serve with rice and warm tortillas.

That's what I'm talkin' about!

That’s what I’m talkin’ about!

Pork Green Chili

5-6 Anaheim Chiles
3-4 Poblano or Padilla Peppers
6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced or minced
3-4 cups shredded or chopped pork*
1 onion, diced
1 1/2 pounds tomatillos, husked and quartered
4 cups chicken broth
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
Salt to taste
2-3 tsp. ground cumin
Rice & tortillas for serving if desired

Looking yummy already!  Tomatillos and peppers.

Looking yummy already! Tomatillos and peppers.

Seed peppers.  You can do this to the small ones by cutting of the top, turning upside down and rolling between your hands or shaking out the seeds.  Or you can cut them in half and remove the seeds that way.

All ready to roast.

All ready to roast.

Lay out on a baking sheet and broil for 4-5 minutes per side until skin is blackened.

Leave them in there until the skin is nice and black.  It will peel right off once it is cool.

Leave them in there until the skin is nice and black. It will peel right off once it is cool.

Place in a paper or plastic bag to steam and cool.  When cool enough to handle, remove skins and coarsely chop peppers.

Add all ingredients to crock pot.  Turn on high for a 2-3 hours, then turn down to low and cook until dinner time.  Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.

* If you don’t have a bunch of leftover shredded pork in your freezer, feel free to use a small pork roast, or pork chops.  Just put the meat on the bottom of the crock pot and pile everything else on top.  At the end of the day, take a couple of forks and pull the meat apart into shreds or chunks and remove any bones before serving.

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Lemony Avocado Egg Salad Lettuce Wraps

Pinterest has been both good and bad for my waistline.  So many good recipes, so little time.  But more than the exact recipes, I love it for the inspiration.   I saw a photo of egg salad made with avocados and just had to make it.  That being said, beyond the egg and avocado I veered off and did my own thing.

You can always put this on bread or roll it in a tortilla or wrap instead, but I loved it wrapped in leafy lettuce with some fruit on the side.  Light but very satisfying – and very low on the carbs!

Lemony Avocado Egg Salad

Lemony Avocado Egg Salad

Lemony Avocado Egg Salad Lettuce Wraps

4 eggs
2 small avocados
2 tbsp. mayonnaise
Zest from half a lemon
1 tsp. lemon juice
Salt & pepper
Leaf Lettuce or Boston lettuce leaves for wrapping

Boil eggs. You can use whatever method you prefer.  Here’s the way I do it:  I put a half dozen eggs in a pan, cover with water, turn the burner on high and set the timer for 15 minutes (time may vary depending on altitude).  When it goes off, I rinse with cold water, and when they are cool enough to handle, I peel the ones I want to use, and stick the rest in the fridge for salads or whatever the next day.

Score avocados (see pic) and spoon out into a bowl.

Cut in half, remove pit (if you whack it with the blade of the knife and twist, it pops right out).  Score with a knife like this, then just use a spoon to scoop out perfectly diced avocado.

Cut in half, remove pit (if you whack it with the blade of the knife and twist, it pops right out). Score with a knife like this, then just use a spoon to scoop out perfectly diced avocado.

Dice up eggs and add to bowl (you want about equal amounts of eggs and avocados).  Use a knife to slice and stab through the mixture until it’s all chopped as fine as you like it (nice high-tech method, huh?).  I like a little texture so this is how I left mine.

Use a knife to cut through chunks to make them smaller and get it all combined well.

Use a knife to cut through chunks to make them smaller.  It also combines everything really well.

Add mayo, lemon zest, lemon juice (I didn’t measure it, I just cut off a wedge and squeezed it in there) plus a pinch of salt & pepper. Mix well.  Layer two or three big leaves, plop some egg salad in there and wrap up.  Eat.



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Roasted Cauliflower “Fries”

If you can’t eat french fries every night, the least you can do is cook your other veggies up in a way you can pretend they are fries.  This is my favorite way to cook cauliflower (closely followed by my Cheesy Cauliflower Bake but this one is a LOT healthier).  It turns out tender but with a little crunchiness on the edges.  No mushy veggies here.  Even your pickiest vegetable haters will go for this one.

Roasted Cauliflower

Roasted Cauliflower “Fries”

Roasted Cauliflower “Fries”

1 head cauliflower
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. oregano
2 tsp. olive oil

*All of the above measurements are completely open to interpretation.  I sprinkle, I pinch, I drizzle.  But some people like to measure so I guessed at how much I put on there.  Feel free to adjust to your tastes.

Preheat the oven to 400˚.  Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray.  Break up or chop cauliflower into bite sized pieces and spread on the cookie sheet.  Sprinkle with spices.  Drizzle with oil.  Toss around a bit with your fingers to coat all of the cauliflower.

Raw cauliflower tossed with spices and a bit of oil.

Raw cauliflower tossed with spices and a bit of oil.

Bake for 30 minutes until cauliflower is tender and starting to brown on the edges.  I usually stir around once or twice in there during the cooking time.

Roasted cauliflower, fresh out of the oven.

Roasted cauliflower, fresh out of the oven.

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Blackened Chicken Salad

I’ve been doing a fair amount of yoga lately.  Which is a wonderful thing.  It feels great and it’s good for me.  My mind and body and spirit are all thanking me.  But that also means I’m spending a lot of time looking in large mirrors at myself in yoga clothes.  And that leads me to this post, which is about eating MORE SALAD!

But this is not just any salad.  If you are going to eat salad, it should be a magnificent salad.  This qualifies.  The chicken has so much flavor it’s practically jumping off the plate and the homemade dressing is simply divine.  Full of flavor (and easier on the waistline than the stuff out of a bottle) and has a cooling effect on the heat of the spices on the chicken.  All together, it just works beautifully.  You won’t even notice you’re eating something healthy.

Blackened Chicken Salad.  Incredible!

Blackened Chicken Salad. Incredible!

Blackened Chicken Salad
(from canyoustayfordinner.com)

2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 pound chicken breasts, sliced into 1/2″ cutlets
4 tsp. olive oil, divided
8 cups mixed salad (lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes and whatever else you like)

Buttermilk Dressing:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (you can sub light sour cream in a pinch)
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tbsp. fresh chives
1 tbsp. fresh parsley
1 tsp. dill
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 tbsp. cider vinegar
3/4 – 1 cup low fat buttermilk

Combine the first 6 ingredients (seasonings through salt) in a small bowl.  Rub all over chicken cutlets on both sides.

Spice mix to "blacken" the chicken.  I would rub this on just about anything.

Spice mix to “blacken” the chicken. I would rub this on just about anything.

Add 2 tsp. olive oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add half the cutlets to the pan.  Cook cutlets for 5 minutes on each side.  Remove to a plate and repeat with the other 2 tsp. olive oil and the other half of the cutlets.

If this looks freaking fantastic, just wait until you taste it!

If this looks freaking fantastic, just wait until you taste it!

While cutlets are cooking, whisk together mayonnaise, yogurt, garlic powder, chives, parsley, dill, salt & pepper.  Whisk in vinegar, then 3/4 cup buttermilk, add a bit more buttermilk until it’s the consistency you like. Store any leftovers in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Lighter buttermilk ranch dressing.  So much better than the stuff in a bottle.

Lighter buttermilk ranch dressing. So much better than the stuff in a bottle.  And isn’t that the cutest little pig whisk you’ve ever seen?

Combine salad ingredients and divide among 4 plates.  Slice chicken cutlets and add to the top of each salad.  Drizzle with dressing and serve more on the side.

Where's my fork?

Where’s my fork?

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Asian-Inspired Pork Loin and Slaw

I love mixing marinades.  I always feel like a mad scientist, tossing in a bit of this and a dash of that.  Rarely measuring.  One of the nice unexpected benefits to blogging is that it has forced me to write down what I do and how much I do it with, which has made it possible to reproduce good results.

I actually started out with the makings for an Asian slaw, and needed something to go with it, so I decided to go with an Asian(ish) pork loin.  I honestly have no idea if they would ever make it like this in Asia, but the flavors have a distinctive Asian twist so we’ll just roll with it.  When you have a well-stocked pantry, you can pretend you’re from anywhere, right?  Normally I would do these two dishes in two separate posts but they went together so well, I thought I’d just throw it out there together.

I never used to be a huge fan of pork, but I absolutely adore pork loin.  It’s lean, but juicy and it soaks up just about any marinade you put on it and just gets tastier.  And they are just about foolproof to cook.  Depending on where you shop, sometimes they are a little pricey, but I keep my eye out for sales, and when I see one I stash a few in my freezer.

Asian-Inspired Pork Loin and Slaw

Asian-Inspired Pork Loin and Slaw

Asian-ish Pork Loin

1/4 cup hoisin sauce
2-3 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 tbsp. chili garlic sauce
2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1-2 pork loins (1 package usually has 2 loins in it)

Mix together marinade all ingredients in a large zip lock bag, then add pork loin.  Marinate at least 30 minutes or up to a couple of hours.

My favorite way to marinate since it's easy to reposition so all of the meat gets some love.  You can do it in a dish or bowl if you prefer.

My favorite way to marinate since it’s easy to reposition so all of the meat gets some love. You can do it in a dish or bowl if you prefer.

Preheat oven to 350˚.  Place loin in a shallow baking dish and bake for 40 minutes, brushing once or twice during cooking with leftover marinade (do not brush with marinade during the last 5 minutes of cooking). It should be done, but if you want to test it, a meat thermometer should read 145˚ in the center of the loin.  Remove from oven and let rest 5 minutes before slicing.  It should be slightly pink in the center.

Juicy wonderful pork loin.

Juicy wonderful pork loin.  Best when it’s slightly pink in the center.

Asian Slaw

1 small head Napa cabbage, thinly sliced
1/2 bell pepper, chopped or sliced
2 carrots, shredded
2 green onions, sliced
3 tbsp. rice vinegar
1 tbsp. lime juice
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. sesame seeds
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper

Mix all ingredients.  I recommend letting it sit for at least 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, before serving so flavors can mingle.

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Indian Spiced Lamb & Lentil Stew

My love of Indian food and my love of soup have finally found each other.

My daughter came home from school yesterday and immediately moaned in delight because our house smelled so wonderful.  And who could blame her?  I was doing the same thing myself.

I came across this gem of a recipe in Cooking Light and almost skipped over it because it just didn’t look very exciting.  But the flavor (and the amazing aroma) was outstanding.  The original recipe calls for only 6 oz. of lamb but the package I bought was a pound so I just decided to double the recipe and have leftovers.  An excellent decision!  Other than the lamb everything else on the list was stuff I normally have in my cupboard or fridge, so I’m sure this will land in my pile of go-to recipes I use when there is “nothing” to cook.  I’m already looking forward to making it again.

Indian-Spiced Lamb & Lentil Stew

Indian-Spiced Lamb & Lentil Stew

Indian Spiced Lamb & Lentil Stew
(adapted from Cooking Light)

1 pound ground lamb
2 tsp. red curry powder (I used Madras curry powder since I had it)
2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground cayenne pepper
2 cups chopped onion
1 1/2 cups chopped carrots
1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1 1/2 cups dry brown lentils
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
1 can coconut milk
1 can diced tomatoes with juice
Plain Greek yogurt for garnish
Cilantro for garnish

Drizzle a bit of olive oil in your soup pot and add lamb, stirring to break up.  Add curry powder, cumin, salt & cayenne pepper.  Cook for a few minutes.  Add onions, carrots and jalapeno.  Continue to cook, stirring occasionally for 4-5 minutes until lamb is browned.  Add garlic and cook another minute.  Add tomato paste, stir well and cook another minute.  Add lentils and stir well, then add broth, water, coconut milk and tomatoes.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for about 40 minutes, until lentils are tender.  Taste and adjust seasonings if needed (I added a bit more salt).  Serve topped with a dollop of yogurt and a sprinkle of chopped cilantro.  Serves 6-8.

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Individual Mushroom & Feta Crustless Quiche

Here’s a little something to think about for your weekend breakfasting, although they are quick and easy enough to make on weekdays too.  I love the individual servings, which make it easy to customize the ingredients if needed.  Plus they just look a little fancy.  Perfect for a brunch or just for the heck of it.  Feel free to use any combo of veggies or meats you like in these.


Delicious Mushroom & Feta Quiche

Individual Mushroom & Feta Crustless Quiche
(This recipe makes 4 quiches.  To make just one, use 1-2 eggs and about 1/2 cup of half & half)

3/4 cup mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup onions, sliced
1 small clove garlic, minced
5 eggs
1 3/4 cup half & half
Salt & pepper
Feta (about a tablespoon for each ramekin)

Saute the mushrooms, onions and garlic in a little olive oil until onions are tender.  Spray each of 4 ramekins with cooking spray.  Divide the veggie mixture among the ramekins.

Sauteed veggies.  Feel free to substitute whatever you like if mushrooms and onions don't rock your world.

Sauteed veggies. Feel free to substitute whatever you like if mushrooms and onions don’t rock your world.

In a bowl beat eggs with half & half and some salt & pepper. Pour into each ramekin on top of the vegetables.  Sprinkle with feta.

All ready to pop in the oven.

All ready to pop in the oven.

Bake for 20-30 minutes, until tops are brown and it stays set when you jiggle it a bit.  Let them cool for 5 minutes or so before eating.

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