Greek style cheese pies (Tyropita) and the plight of the lonely extrovert.

Life, it will kill ya! Well had some recent disappointments, reality cooking show redemption is on hold perhaps forever….don’t you love rejection emails? I sure do….not. But onward and upward…in all actuality, besides feeling sorry for myself and reflecting on what I lack, I’m not really that upset. I think life is more about learning to be resilient to rejection more than it is about celebrating success. Self-analysis is a less than stellar activity for most, myself included and I’ve done a lot of it in the last few years, and realized I am one of those people pleasing extroverts. Some folks can’t stand our kind, I think oh I am hilariously vocal, others might find this audible annoyance, but really we just yearn for love and approval. I just want everything to be fun! Is that so wrong? Continue reading “Greek style cheese pies (Tyropita) and the plight of the lonely extrovert.”

Rustic Lentils and Barley ala crock pot

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You know that feeling when you finally feel like you are home? Well I haven’t felt that way in quite a few years….and finally I feel that sentimental braingasm of belonging that isn’t really familiar to me. With all the anxiety that moving brings we quite possible made the best decision we as a team (my husband and I) have ever made. Abraham Maslow theorized that every human desires membership, order, and meaning. In the hierarchy of needs we need all these things to be “happy” I don’t know if its in a “Pharrell” kinda way or just having a sense of belonging. I actually find it quite hard to be my normal, cynical, self when everything seems to be coming up Zanny (my nickname). With this new optimism comes a rediscovery of things in the past I have been negative about….one I have realized I had unfairly judged would be the crock pot, slow cooker, whatever you like to call them. Continue reading “Rustic Lentils and Barley ala crock pot”

Roasted asparagus and beet panzanella

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The best cooks in the world know how to get the most bang for their buck. Italian panzanella is a prime example of repurposing ingredients. Panzanella utilizes leftover, even stale bread and makes it a showstopping salad.
Continue reading “Roasted asparagus and beet panzanella”

Aloo Gobi with Sweet potatoes

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I love Indian food but I used to rarely make it at home, as it always seemed to be missing out on a certain depth. When I first moved to Portland, I met a lady who had just relocated here from India, we would walk our daughters home together from kindergarten and she would practice her English on me while I collected her vegetarian Indian cooking techniques.
Continue reading “Aloo Gobi with Sweet potatoes”

Elote (Mexican corn on the cob) or finding new and interesting things to do with a George Foreman Grill.

I have a confession….I have a new obsession.  It is Elote!  Elote is a street food from Mexico, basically grilled corn on the cob smothered in mayo (yuckers) or crema which is Mexican table cream (yummers), add some cojita cheese (I used feta, which is a totally reasonable substitution, even Parmesan would work…think salty), sprinkled with hot sauce, or chili powder depending on who’s cookin the grub (preference), top that sucker with some cilantro and a squeeze of lime.  Corn season is on the horizon and I love using it when it’s fresh and delicious, I cut the kernels off the cob, I hate getting corn stuck in my teeth, and served it with corn chips (cornplosion!) but traditionally it is lathered and slathered and eatin right off the old cob.  Great for when you are already gonna fire up the grill this corn is the perfect accompaniment to any grilled main, or as an appetizer.  I wasn’t firing up the grill, so I dusted off my George Foreman grill, and used it to “grill” our cobbers.  Seriously, my George Foreman grill is never used for its original purpose, I think it’s actually real terrible for cooking steaks or chicken, but hotdogs, bratwursts, Panini, or corn, it is quite a useful tool, especially if you don’t want to take the time to fire up the grill (optimal way, in my opinion), or do a boring boil (reduces nutrients).  So if you have one of these, anyone married in the last decade probably received one as a gift, I did, try it for corn on the cob (remove the husk first), it takes about ten minutes to achieve the char I wanted, but it worked great!  So seriously pull out the GF grill and use for corn…weird…yes…..but innovation comes from thinking outside the box!elote1

5 ingredient Tri-colored roasted potatoes

Sometimes when I’m shopping at farmer’s markets or even the regular grocery store, my menu will change based upon what looks good to me at the time. I was at my local store and saw that they carried a special variety of purple sweet potato, they were local, farmed in WA, seasonal and a steal at $1.99 a lb. The California garnets also caught my eye, they were a bit pricier but not much and since I only needed one it is still way cheaper than buying premade frozen ones….not to mention tastier in general. To round out my palate I also picked up a WA russet, just to add a bit more starch and a less sweet variation and color. I instantly thought of roasting them, I have to admit….I didn’t really like sweet potatoes till my late 20’s (growing up with the canned ones topped with marshmallows, no Bueno)but since then it has been quite a passionate admiration. So here it is a fab, easy, only a few ingredients needed side dish that can sometimes upstage the main!
1 of each potato, garnet, russet, waxy, purple, whatever looks good to you
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Indian curry powder
Thinly sliced shallots or onions
Pre heat oven to 425 degrees. Try to buy potatoes that are about the same size, peel and cut into pieces about the same size (so cooking time will be the same). On a lightly oiled sheet pan (I used olive oil, just a light coating, if you are feeling extra lazy you can use Olive oil pam), add potatoes in one layer, add a lil more oil, add, salt, pepper, curry, and shallots or onions (1 shallot, or half a medium onion).

Trying to take my "artsy" shot was made impossible by my tater thief in the prime of his terrible two's!!
Trying to take my “artsy” shot was made impossible by my tater thief in the prime of his terrible two’s!!

Roast for 25 minutes, done….I topped ours with some cilantro I had, but you can use any fresh herb you have on hand or leave it out completely.

sneakin snacks while Mom was trying to photography his "nandy"
sneakin snacks while Mom was trying to photograph his “nandy”

Wanna take this recipe to a whole new galaxy? Add my recipe for tzatiki, from yesterday’s gyro recipe to still warm potatoes…tuber heaven!

Green Minestrone for Mr. Gandolfini

While on vacation in my hometown I heard the bad news about James Ganolfini, he died of heart attack while on holiday in Italy. It made me ponder how quick life can stop, end, kaput, fin you’re done. Having my Dad still recovering from heart surgery made it hit a bit close to home, it also made me realize how important it is to try to eat in a helpful manner. Healthy food choices can be the difference between life and death, Jarom and I were watching a TED talk last night and the speaker was a doctor who specializes in diets based to starve cancer tumors with nutrients. While listening to his talk I realized a lot of his mantra is based purely in eating locally and sustainably. Today’s recipe is a minestrone that is made with all green veggies (which just happen to be center stage at the farmer’s market), it is delicious and healthy, affordable, and if eaten regularly will help ward off cancer causing cells…did I mention it tastes real good?? Well it does…..
1 bunch chard
1 bunch lactinato Kale (because its the Italian variety)
½ head of cabbage, I used a small napa that was at my market
1 can cannellini beans
2 quarts stock, I used chicken
½ cup white wine, I used a WA pinot grigio
2 small zucchini diced, medium
1 onion, diced
2 ribs celery, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper
1 cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped
1 cup pasta of choice
Olive oil
In a large pot put a glug of oil over medium heat, add onions, garlic, celery, red pepper flake and sauté 5 minutes. Add chard (chopped), kale (chopped), cannellini beans, and stock. Turn heat up to high, bring to boil, turn back to medium add wine, pasta, zucchini, salt and pepper, simmer 20 minutes. Remove from heat and add parsley. Top with bread crumbs (I make my own, with left over bread that I store in the freezer), and parmesan cheese. This is optional but delicious.
Well todays thought, try to eat fresh food, grown locally, and arrivederchi Tony Soprano, you left us much to soon.

If you can’t beet em’ eat em’.

So it always amazes me how much the quality of ingredients affect how good a dish is. You can spend all day making a dish with great technique and plating, but if your produce is old was it worth your time? I love beets they are delicious, sweet, healthy and turn into heaven when roasted. The farmer’s market in my hood, had the most amazing beets! I grabbed two bunches not really thinking much about it, when I went to prepare them for my dish, I noticed that one bunch were the most beautiful tiger stripped beets i’d ever seen!
I peeled them and set the oven to 400 degrees, the stripped beets I sliced with mandolin, the red beets I cut into quarters. They cooked for about twenty minutes, while they cooked I prepared the beet greens, by rough chopping and boiling in salted water for about six minutes. Beet greens are delicious and many folks just throw them out! Lightly cooked the leaves are similar to spinach and the stalks almost have an asparagus flavor to me. After they boil, I toss them in a little red wine vinegar. I decided I would serve the roasted beets with their greens and top with some local goat’s feta and some fresh dill, both that I had purchased at the farmer’s market. To get my daughter excited to eat her veggies, I did a few different plating options and let her pick her favorite. Getting kids involved and making it fun helps to motivate them to try new things….Ava loved the whole thing and cleaned her plate, as did my two year old, and my husband. Beets are always a winner at our house!
Go out and have a veggie adventure, grow your own, or buy from local farmers who use organic growing methods, use good ingredients and you are sure to have something you will be proud of, regardless of how simple it is!
Kid approved!

Spring Asparagus flatbread with Marcona Almonds

IMG_4586Asparagus season is full bloom! Aside from all the nutritional value, asparagus is beautiful and the perfect way to celebrate the blooming of spring and end of winter (I’m over it). My go to way to serve asparagus is to just use a lil olive oil, salt, pep, and roast them, sometimes, though you may just want to make something a little more special without a bunch of time consuming prep work…here in Portland, when the sun shines you get out in it as much as you can! Well yesterday was “meatless” Monday so totally inspired by a flat bread that I had at New Seasons market, I decided to make my own version. I usually don’t drive during the week so I walked down to the Wholefoods and picked up some ingredients. I love the fresh made whole wheat pizza crust at Wholefoods, it has five ingredients, and it’s delicious and a bargain at $3! Honestly, it’s made in house and knowing that it’s made with good ingredients makes it a great short cut and saves me a load of mess and time, some pizza joints will sell you dough, or of course you can make your own…but avoid anything that pops in tube….full o’ nasties. I got some asparagus from Cali at the grocery outlet for 99cents on Sunday (that place is a goldmine!) and I had some Spanish Marcona almonds, pecorino, olive oil, and red pepper flakes at home.
Preheat oven to 450.
Roll out your dough into a rectangle, or the shape you like, you can even make individual flatbread if you so choose. Brush the dough with some olive oil, add asparagus (raw), almonds (press them into the dough), sprinkle with pecorino or parm (I like the tang and saltiness of the sheep milk pecorino, it’s a romano cheese and I think you can use a lot less and get a lot more flavor, add fresh ground pepper and throw it in the oven for about 15 minutes or until golden. When it done use some citrus zest to add a punch of freshness! Seriously who knew almonds and asparagus were so delicious together? Easily made vegan friendly without the cheese and still delicious! It will look like you slaved away in the kitchen, does anyone remember that rice crispy treat commercial from the nineties, where the mom put a bunch of flour on her face so it looked like she had been slaving over the no bake treat? Kinda like that but way better! Enjoy!