Creamy Crockpot Pinto Beans (gf, v option) and Gluten-free Cornbread (gf, veg)

The Missouri November weather was spectacular last weekend. Dave and I went on an epic, 3-hour, 10+ mile hike around the Weldon Spring area to enjoy said Missouri November weather, beginning and ending at the Weldon Spring Disposal Cell. What is the Weldon Spring Disposal Cell, you ask? Well, we wondered the same thing. It’s a 45-acre mound of rocks covering layers of nuclear waste. And you can walk to the top! How’s that for a bizarre tourist attraction?

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view from the top

The Us Army Ordinance Works purchased the site and adjacent land (17,232 acres- whoa) in 1941. The Army contracted the Atlas Powder Company to manufacture trinitrotoluene (TNT) and dinitrotoluene (DNT) at a sprawling factory complex on the site until 1945 to support World War II efforts. After the war, the Army started selling off the land but kept about 2,000 acres to house the Weldon Spring Uranium Feed Mill Plant, which was just what it sounds like- a uranium ore processing plant that operated from 1955 to 1966. Uranium ore processing plants produce well, radioactive waste, and that, kids, is what’s tucked beneath the Weldon Spring Disposal Cell.

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I’m hesitant to believe that the waste isn’t harmful to the surrounding communities or people walking all over the cell, but so far, I feel no strange after-effects. I can see better, though. Strange…. Anyway, we were starving when we got home and had breakfast-for-lunch, with the addition of these warming, slow-cooked, creamy pinto beans and leftover cornbread to dunk in them. I’d soaked the beans overnight the night before and put them in the crockpot before we headed out, so only finishing touches were left to be made when we got back. The cornbread originally accompanied some white bean chicken chili we’d made and heated up well to go with the beans. So, without further ado, creamy crockpot pinto beans and gluten-free cornbread!

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CREAMY CROCKPOT PINTO BEANS

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag dry pinto beans, rinsed and sorted
  • water
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 slices bacon, chopped, or 2 tbsp olive oil for vegan beans
  • 1 yellow or white onion, diced
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, chopped

Directions:

Rinse the dry beans after you pick them over for any rocks or clumps of dirt. Finding rocks and clumps of dirt in bags of dry beans isn’t as far-fetched as it sounds, but it is every bit as gross as it sounds, so look ’em over good. Put the beans in a bowl and cover with an inch of water, soaking at least 8 hours or overnight. How retro-frugal you are, soaking beans! Good for you. The WWII-era Real Housewives of Weldon Spring would be proud.

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RHOWS

When the beans have had a good soaking, dump their soaking water, rinse them again, and put them in your crockpot. Cover with water, up to 1/2 inch above the beans. Keep in mind that when cooking in a crockpot, the water added to a recipe will stay put, so add as much as you’d like or not like. Cover and set to low for 8 hours or high for 4. Take a hike.

When you return from your hike/nap/workday/classified mission, chop the 2 pieces of bacon and cook them over medium in a small skillet until crispy. If you’re omitting bacon, heat the olive oil over medium. Remove the bacon once it’s crispy and add the onion to the bacon fat or olive oil, cooking for 3-4 minutes until translucent. Add the garlic and cook another minute.

Salt and pepper the onions, and add the onions, bacon, and 2 cups of beans to a food processor. Whir that sucker until the mixture is smooth and creamy, then stir the mixture back into the pot of beans.

You’re all done! The beans are even better the next day. They’re rich and creamy and make a perfect partner for a few hunks of….

OLD FASHIONED GLUTEN-FREE CORNBREAD

Adapted from Gluten Free On a Shoestring

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups yellow cornmealbread 1
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 room-temperature egg, beaten
  • 4 tbsp melted butter, cooled
  • 1 1/2 cups room-temperature plain yogurt
  • 4 tbsp raw honey

Directions:

Grab two bowls and preheat your oven to 400. In the larger bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients: cornmeal, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

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In a second, smaller bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients: egg, butter, yogurt, and honey.

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Now make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients in the large bowl. See where this is going? Now you know why the dry ingredients got more bowl-love than the wet ones. Pour the wet ingredients into the center well and mix until just combined.

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Grease a cast-iron skillet or 9×13″ pan and spread the cornmeal mixture in evenly. Bake for 20 minutes, until the top is golden-brown.

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This celiac husband-friendly side was quite tasty. It held together well but was also crumbly, and would be great with the addition of cheddar cheese or chopped green chiles. It was great with the white chili and stood up to the beans.  What will you serve with yours?


Chicken Roasted with Mushrooms and Shallots & Garlic Mashed Cauliflower (gf)

We’re officially on the gluten-free express train. Our kitchen was mostly gluten-free before Dave’s diagnosis but now there’s actual gluten protocol to follow (i.e., no gluten at all en la casa). This isn’t a huge deal, as I can always scarf chewy chunks of Panera baguette in my car and continue to have glutinous adventures at work, where we eat as if it’s the last day on Earth everyday (they get me).

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The new rules have inspired creativity [when I’ve had time to cook], as evidenced in last night’s ingenious mashed cauliflower. What a great idea! Total mashed potato fake-out. Yes, potatoes are gluten-free but cauliflower is a lower GI food, has more vitamins, blah blah blah. The mashed cauliflower can be as light or as creamy and indulgent as you’d like and, as for the roasted chicken, it’s delicious and easy and everyone loves roasted chicken. That’s all the intro roasted chicken ever needs. ‘Twas a hearty, warming, comforting dinner perfect for fall.

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CHICKEN ROASTED WITH MUSHROOMS AND SHALLOTS

Adapted from the Food Network

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 chicken leg quarters, skin-on
  • kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pint white mushrooms (about 12), washed well and sliced
  • 4 large shallots, quartered
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary

GARLIC MASHED CAULIFLOWER 

Ingredients:

  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets, OR 2 bags pre-cut cauliflower
  • 1 clove garlic, minced OR 4-5 cloves roasted garlic
  • 1 tbsp cream cheese, softened and/or 2 tbsp chèvre
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • 3 tbsp butter, softened OR 2 tbsp milk
  • 1/8 tsp chicken bouillon or chicken base
  • cracked black pepper
  • fresh snipped chives

Directions:

Both of these recipes are pretty quick. The chicken pan roasts, then finishes in the oven; the cauliflower boils and is puréed. Facilisimo. Let’s start with the chicken and then make the cauliflower as the chicken roasts. Preheat your over to 350. In a cast iron or other oven-safe pan, heat the olive oil over medium. If you’re making cauliflower now, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Sprinkle both sides of the chicken leg quarters liberally with salt and pepper and add, skin-side down, to the hot oil.

Cook for 5 minutes, letting the skin brown. Flip over and cook the backsides for 5 minutes as well. You may want to use a splatter guard, as the olive oil will be deliciously crackly and splatter-prone.

When both sides have browned, top the chicken with the sliced mushrooms, shallots, and rosemary, tucking the veggies in between the chicken pieces. Slide the pan into the hot oven and let roast for 20 minutes. Cauliflower time! If you haven’t already, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the cauliflower florets and boil for 6-8 minutes, until softened. Drain well in a colander, but don’t let the cauliflower cool off too much- you’ll use its heat to melt and disperse the cheeses and butter (mmm, melting cheeses and butter).

When the cauliflower has drained, add it to a food processor or put it back into the pot you boiled it in if you’re using an immersion blender. Add your chosen cheeses, garlic, bullion, milk, and pepper. Blend. Taste for seasonings and consistency and adjust as needed (salt, pepper, more milk, more cheese, etc.). Eat a few spoonsful and top with chives. Back to the chicken!

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photo credt: Dave Cruse

The amazing part is, your chicken is done. It will look fabulous. Remove the chicken and veggies to a platter, discarding the rosemary sprigs, and let rest for 5 minutes before serving to lock in the juices (I love saying that). Lock ’em in. Now would be the time to make a simple pan sauce or sprinkle with lemon juice, if you’d like. The dish is certainly tasty enough to not need a sauce, but it wouldn’t hurt. Pour a glass of wine (pairing recommendations here), scoop up some cauliflower, cut a piece of chicken, and enjoy.


“Golumpki,” or Cabbage Rolls (gf, v option)

Friends! It has been too long! I passed the exam I was studying for and slumped into an exhausted, thumb-sucking ball for a month post-test. Lots of celebration, lots of yoga, and one trip to San Fran to see great friends later- I’m back! Back and cooking again. It’s fall in Saint Louis and the change-of-season cooking bug has bitten me again. My favorite bite. I’m so happy to be back in a bit of a routine and I’ll tell you- being back to writing and sharing on a!g feels fantastic. Let’s get cooking.

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Sometime in the whirlwind that was the first 3 quarters of 2014, my husband was diagnosed with a severe gluten intolerance (possibly celiac disease… this caused major malnutrition- what the heck! poor guy just wanted some sandwiches!). Most of what I cooked on a daily basis before the diagnosis was gluten free, save for a cake or bread project here or there, but this news has majorly changed what’s coming into and being prepared in our kitchen.

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Considering his dietary needs and my hankering as of late for cooked cabbage (all my life, I’ve been waiting to become that small, ethnic grandmother I know I’m supposed to be), I freestyled a pot of the humble golumpki, or, cabbage roll for dinner last night. My version has beef but it can easily be omitted to make a vegan version; you also have a stovetop or crockpot choice to make.

GOLUMPKI (CABBAGE ROLLS)

Ingredients:

  • I large head cabbage, core removed
  • 1/2 lb portobello mushroom caps (increase to 1lb for vegan rolls), chopped fine
  • 1 lb high-quality lean ground beef
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 parsnip, shredded
  • 1 large carrot or 1 cup baby carrots, shredded
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 cup brown rice, uncooked
  • 1-2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • tomato sauce or juice, to taste (2-14.5 oz cans tomato sauce/1 -28 oz can crushed tomatoes OR 1-14.5 oz can tomato sauce and large can tomato juice, see super-serious Note On Tomato Sauce below)

Directions:

This is a homey meal that comes with a homey preparation: it’s simmered on the stove for 2 hours or can be made in a slow cooker. So, not a top pick for nights when you need a quick meal, but a great pick for easy, warm nights with a glass of red wine to help you cook and some jazz on the radio. Now that you know this and have cleared your calendar, boil a large pot of water and core the cabbage with a large knife. When the water is boiling, remove the pot to a trivet, place the cabbage in the hot water core side-up, and cover. Let this sit for 10-15 minutes while you prep your veggies.

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Heat the oil over medium in a deep, heavy-bottomed pot. Make sure it has a lid if you’re not going the slow-cooker route. Veggie prep!! Save yourself some time and shred the carrot and parsnip in a food processor. This is also how I chopped the portobellos. Just pulse, pulse, pulse until you have a small chop. I diced my onion because I love dicing onions, but the onion could absolutely go the food processor route. Mince the garlic and set aside. Add the onion to the oil and sauté, stirring occasionally. Put the thyme, parsnip, carrot, celery, and mushrooms in a large bowl as the onion cooks (keep the garlic set aside).
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When the onion is translucent, add the bowl o’ veg. Stir it all up and salt and pepper the mix generously. This mixture will release quite a bit of liquid, so allow the liquid to cook off. It helps to create a well in the middle as the veggies cook- the liquid will gather there and simmer away.

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When the liquid is almost all the way gone, splash a bit more olive oil in the well you’ve created and add your garlic, stirring until fragrant.

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Remove from heat and stir well. Pour back into the large bowl and let cool for a few minutes… and let’s get back to the cabbage. The cabbage will be soft and pliable now. With tongs, peel off about 15 leaves, one by one.

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I cut out the large, tough vein in the leaves, but you don’t have to. Set the leaves aside and mix the ground beef, rice, and tomato paste in with the veggie mixture. Salt and pepper again, and mix a second time. This is your filling! You’re almost ready to leave the kitchen!

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this looks kind of gross, eh?

Grab the pot you cooked the veggies in OR your crockpot, whichever you’ll be using. Take a cabbage leaf and scoop 1/4-1/3 cup of the filling into the leaf depending on the leaf’s size, rolling the bottom, then sides, and then top down around it. I didn’t photograph this process, but here’s a helpful 20 second video made by someone who did. It’s very easy. Arrange the little bundles snugly in the pot or crockpot. You’ll have 2-3 layers of bundles, depending on the size of your pot.

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Now for my Note On Tomato Sauce: allow my trial and error to guide you, grasshopper. I throw myself on the cooking pyre for YOU, for youuuu. Okay, so I poured two cans of tomato sauce and a large can of crushed tomatoes over my cabbage rolls. The combo was too thick and too seasoned, and overpowered the more delicate flavors of the rolls. If you’re a big tomato fan, by all means- go this route. Otherwise, I strongly suggest using one can of tomato sauce (or 2 cups of your favorite jarred or homemade sauce) and pouring in tomato juice or V8 until the mixture reaches the top of the rolls. Up to you. Comme ci, comme ça.

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bye bye, golumps

If you’re using a crockpot, cover and set to low for 8 hours. You could refrigerate the crock at this point and start it in the morning, if you’d like. If you’re cooking on a stove top, bring the tomato mixture to a boil and then cover, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer for 2 hours. What will you do in those 2 hours? I read about *nothing* in Allure and we watched some DVR’ed triathlon, because we are that cool.  So! Kick up your heels…

…and, as on a cooking show, I’m sorry, but your long cooking time has magically elapsed and it’s time to head back into the kitchen. Everything’s easy from here,  though: serve. With sour cream, if you’d like, or mashed potatoes on the side. There’s a picture of a pretty roll up top, but you will lay waste to your cabbage rolls and they will look like this:

cabbage12HAPPY GOLUMPING!


Culinary Bucket List, West of Maine Shrimp Rolls (pes), and Watermelon Crush Smoothie (v, gf)

Hey there! In last week’s post, I mentioned my “dying wish” meal: Dominican beans and rice. “What would your last meal be?” has got to be my favorite food-related question out there- it can reveal so much! Last week’s post got me thinking about the rest of my culinary bucket list- the foods and restaurants I want to try before I kick the you-know-what. I put pen to paper on these and here’s what I came up with:

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  • Chili from Ben’s Chili Bowl in D.C.
  • A lobster roll in Maine
  • Pho in Ho Chi Min City
  • Pizza in Italy (or NYC! had as a child but don’t remember too well)
  • Tapas and jamón Ibérico in Madrid
  • A Jucy Lucy from Matt’s Bar in Minneapolis
  • Spam musubi and poke from Da Poke Shack in Kailua-Kona, HI
  • Feijoada and a caipirinha in Brazil
  • Spicy, spicy street food and dou hua in Chendgu, Sichian province
  • Moules frites in Brussels
  • Korean food with a table full of garnishes, anywhere
  • Dim sum in San Fran’s Chinatown
  • Ice cream at the Ben and Jerry’s factory in Vermont
  • Brewery stops in Seattle and Bend, OR
  • Wine tasting in Napa Valley

Dreaming is wonderful but being grateful for what you have seen and done is where it’s at.  Here are some of the standout culinary moments I’ve been fortunate enough to experience:

  • Dinner at the Signature Room of the John Hancock Tower in Chicago
  • Brunch at the Army Navy Club in D.C.
  • Crab cakes oceanside in Maryland
  • Burgers made the same way as they were when my grandparents were newlyweds at Whisler’s Drive-Up in Carthage, MO
  • Cuban food in Little Havana
  • A hot Krispy Kreme donut right off of the conveyor belt
  • Fried chicken and fireworks by the Potomac on the Fourth of July
  • Hot, fresh apple cider feet from where it was made at an orchard
  • Oysters and Yuengling at the Old Ebbitt Grill in D.C.
  • Hot dogs at various MLB ballparks and Chicago dogs in Chicago
  • Sushi at Station Sushi in Solana Beach, CA and fish tacos in San Diego
  • Oklahoma Joe’s BBQ in Kansas City
  • Street tacos in Acapulco
  • Fette Sau BBQ and momofuku milk bar cookies in Brooklyn
  • Jerk chicken and Red Stripe from shack kitchens in Jamaica and home-cooked creole lobster with coconut rice and peas on the beach in Negril
  • Café au lait and a croissant in Paris
  • St. Louis roll call: Ted Drewes frozen custard, toasted ravioli, dinner at the chef’s counter at niche with Gerard Craft at the helm, cocktails made by Ted Kilgore, pho at Mai Lee, Sunday dim sum at Lulu Seafood
  • NOLA roll call: Beignets and chicory coffee at Café du Monde, hurricanes at Pat O’Brien’s, boozy Friday lunch (complete with sing along) at Galatoire’s, oysters at the Acme Oyster House, a Pimm’s Cup at The Napoleon House, pecan-crusted fish and champagne and bread pudding at Commander’s Palace, a Sazerac at the Roosevelt Hotel, Abita and Zapps on Frenchmen Street, cocktails [everywhere]
  • Dominican Republic roll call: sancocho, fresh fish and boiled crabs, limoncillos, sweet-sauced and oregano-sprinkled cheese pizza from Pizzarelli, road stand ice-cold Presidente, juicy mangoes I climbed for and plucked myself, mofongo from Adrian Tropical, red snapper from the ice chest at Capitan Cook’s, and many, many more…

Sounds like I’ve got my priorities straight, right? My memories have always been punctuated by food- what I ordered when we went here or there, what we ate the day that this-or-that happened, what so-and so cooks so well. Today’s recipe is an approximation of one of the dishes on my list- the lobster roll! My OCD prevents me from trying this recipe with lobster- I’m holding out for the real thing in the right place- so I used shrimp. Didn’t heat up the kitchen too much and loved every bite. Bonus recipe below for a cooling summer smoothie!

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WEST OF MAINE SHRIMP ROLLS

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 lemon, cut in half
  • 1 tsp Old Bay seasoning
  • 10 peppercorns
  • 1/4 cup light mayo or Greek yogurt
  • 2 stalks celery, finely diced
  • 1/3 cup yellow onion, finely diced
  • 3-4 tbsp fresh tarragon, chopped
  • Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
  • celery seed
  • butter or olive oil
  • hot dog buns

Directions:

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the Old Bay seasoning, the lemon, and the peppercorns. When the water is boiling, add the shrimp and boil 2-3 minutes, until opaque and cooked through. Strain and set aside, tossing the lemon and peppercorns. I recommend chilling the shrimp for a while to bring to room temp or cooler.

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Meanwhile, dice the onion, celery, and tarragon. When the shrimp are cool (or warm, your call), toss the veggies and tarragon with the mayo, a sprinkle of celery seed, and some cracked black pepper. Fold in the shrimp and taste for seasoning.

Toast hot dog buns and drizzle with a bit of melted butter or some olive oil. Pile high with the shrimp salad and enjoy! Serve with a refreshing:

WATERMELON CRUSH SMOOTHIE

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 cups watermelon
  • a handful cilantro
  • 2-inch knob of ginger
  • juice of a lime
  • a handful of strawberries
  • 24 oz coconut water

Directions:

Toss all ingredients in a blender a whir away. Serve over ice. Crazy straw optional, but recommended.

Would be quite tasty with a bit of coconut rum… Hmm. Rum is good for pondering. Sip your smoothie, ponder, and tell me….

 What have YOU checked off of your culinary bucket list? What’s left to be tasted?


Secret Ingredient Black Bean & Quinoa Chili (v, gf), Quickie Caulifower “Rice” (v, gf), and BeckyAmyLew

happy feet, happy place

After a lovely, relaxing 4th of July weekend spent fishing, reading, and sleeping at the cabin of some dear family friends, Dave and I came home happy and calm… and in dire need of a s’mores and hot dog detox. It was a vegemergency. While running through the grocery store on a typical post-holiday “we have no food in the house” weekday evening, I racked my brain for a vegan meal that would take little prep work and would allow me to get a few things done while it cooked.  An enticing Fit Foodie Finds recipe I’d Pinned recently popped in my mind and thought I’d give it a whirl.

I’M SO GLAD I DID.

chili split

ignore my ominous, hulking shadow… Lauren hungry, Lauren want food

This chili hit the spot, despite the 95-degree St. Louis summer upon us. Use any veggies you have lying around for your version; edit and add to use what’s in your pantry. Whatever you toss in will add bright, veggie goodness. We had a beautiful home-grown zucchini my in-laws gave us over the weekend (thank you!) and decided to add it to the mix; carrots, broccoli, potatoes, different beans, different peppers, or more or less of the ingredients listed below would all work well. I do recommend keeping the secret ingredient, though…

SECRET INGREDIENT BLACK BEAN & QUINOA CHILI

Adapted from Fit Foodie Finds

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 poblano pepper, diced
  • 1 large zucchini, chopped into large dice
  • 3+ cloves garlic, minced
  • 5 cups water + 3 tsp vegetable base, or 3 cups vegetable stock + 2 cups water
  • 3 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 can yellow hominy, drained and rinsed
  • juice of one lime
  • 3 tbsp good-quality chili powder
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • avocado, green onion, sour cream (obviously not vegan), hot sauce for serving
  • And…… 

The secret ingredient is…. a cinnamon stick!! BOOM! Vegan chili mic drop.

Directions:

OMIGOSHYOUGUYS. The chili was so very easy to throw together. There are just three little steps: chop veggies, sauté veggies, simmer chili. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a heavy stock pot or dutch oven. Add the onion, green pepper, zucchini, and poblano pepper and sauté until the onion is translucent- if you want to. You could very easily dump all ingredients into the pot and crank up the heat. If you’re sautéing, add the garlic and cook until fragrant. Add all other ingredients (gah! so easy!). Bring to a boil, reduce heat to med-low and cover, simmering for 50 minutes. Put chili in face. 

chili simmering

The genius addition of a cinnamon stick gives this chili a smoky, sweet quality that’s hard to pinpoint and plays well with the other spices and veggies. The cinnamon flavor isn’t overwhelming and having a secret ingredient to add makes this dish even more special.

hearty veggie goodness

hearty veggie goodness

Now- for the cauliflower rice, which you can whip up while the chili is simmering. I adapted this recipe from BeckyAmyLew, my old friend Becky Lewis’ paleo-friendly recipe and running blog. Cute site name, huh? Becky is a talented and creative home cook with international influences and lots to share. She describes herself as an:

“amateur Foodie and social media enthusiast living in the middle of America, USA. An expert in nothing. Simply aspires to inspire people through the gift of sharing.”

Check her out, especially if you’re looking for clever paleo recipes. In her cauliflower “rice” post, Taiwan-born Becky describes the globally important grain as a favorite and as what she misses most in her no-grain paleo diet; I completely relate and was drawn to this recipe instantly, as my Dominican bones also pine for white rice with each meal (damn healthy choices, depriving me of diabetes and the joy in life…). Rice is such a love of mine, my “dying wish” meal is my aunt’s habichuelas con arroz blanco, Dominican beans and rice. Becky’s cauliflower substitute was so satisfying, I just may update that wish.

CAULIFLOWER “RICE”

Adapted from BeckyAmyLew

Ingredients: 

  • 1 head cauliflower, roughly chopped
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • kosher salt and cracked black pepper
  • Seasonings to your taste, optional (I used Goya Adobo)

Directions:

In a blender or food processor, pulse the cauliflower in batches. You’re looking for a rice-like shape and size, small but not ground into meal. This is a surprisingly easy consistency to achieve. Just pulse, pulse, pulse and keep an eye on it as you go.

cauliflower in blender

Set the cauliflower aside and sauté the diced onion in the olive oil in a deep saucepan over medium until the onion is translucent. Add the cauliflower and salt and pepper to taste, stirring well to combine. Cover the mix and let steam for 5-10 minutes, stirring frequently and checking often.

"rice, rice," baby

rice, rice, baby

 There you have it! Cauliflower “rice!” Pairs perfectly with chili, stir-fries, and other saucy foods. What other grain alternatives have you tried?


Grilled Fish Tacos with Cilantro Slaw & Corn, Tomato, and Avocado Salad

IT’S HOT OUTSIDE AGAIN… FINALLY. Glory, hallelu! Simple pleasures are the best, and there are few simple pleasures I love more than the feeling of sun on my face and limbs and a warm breeze blowing by. It’s my favorite time of year- time for long days and nights and living outside, for outdoor concerts and bikes and running and sweating and swimming and brewery patios and dinners from the grill. Time to jump in with wild abandon and really live!

29 Things You Can Expect Now Summer's Finally Here

I’m aliiiiive!!!

Speaking of dinners from the grill, these tacos are a favorite dish I had kind of forgotten about for a while (oops) and made last night to celebrate the change of seasons. Produce-heavy and no oven required. Perfect for a hot and steamy weeknight. Mama likey.

GRILLED FISH TACOS WITH CILANTRO SLAW

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 lbs firm, white fish fillets (I used cod, mahi mahi also works well)
  • canola oil
  • kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • corn tortillas
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 2 cups shredded green cabbage
  • 1/4 cup cilantro
  • 1/2 cup sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 tbsp chopped chives, if you have them around
  • 1 jalapeño, diced (optional but highly recommended)
  • white onion, diced (optional)
  • hot sauce for serving

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CORN, TOMATO, AND AVOCADO SALAD

Ingredients:

  • 1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • the kernels from 2 ears of corn
  • 3 scallions, sliced
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1-2 limes, juiced
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • handful parsley, chopped
  • 1 tbsp  chopped chives, if you have them around
  • kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

For the fish tacos and slaw:  preheat a grill or an indoor grill pan or skillet to medium-high heat. Brush the fish on both sides with canola oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Dave grilled these (thanks!) while I prepped the veggies, and he cooked them in a grill basket for about 7 minutes per side. How long you cook the fish will depend on the thickness of the fillets and the heat of your grill or stove; basically, cook until firm and opaque, flipping halfway through. Set aside in a large bowl when done.

not a very colorful or exciting pic, but you can take that up with the cod

not a very colorful or exciting pic, but you can take that up with the cod

While the fish cooks, stir together the sour cream, juice of one lime, a pinch of kosher salt and about 1/4 tsp black pepper in a medium-sized bowl.

fish tacos4

Stir in the chives, cilantro, jalapeño, and cabbage. Taste this and adjust seasoning a needed.

fish tacos5

Toss the fish with the cumin and the remaining lime juice. Spoon into microwaved, doubled-up corn tortillas, top with onion and the cilantro slaw, and serve, passing hot sauce around. YUM.

For the corn, tomato, and avocado salad: okay, first off, to remove corn kernels, stand an ear of corn up on its flat end (the end you break the stalk off of) on a cutting board and slice the kernels off from the top down with a large knife. In my next life, I’ll add a video of how to do this (so many plans for this next life). Toss the tomatoes, scallions, parsley, chives, and corn together in a large bowl. Top with lime juice, canola oil, a big pinch of salt, and a few generous grinds of black pepper and toss together. Fold in the avocado. DONE! This is crazy flavorful and so, so good for you. Enjoy!

fish tacos6

Winter was arduous, mmkay? Welcome, late spring and I love you, summer.

The 15 Phases Of Every Winter

who has two thumbs and figured out how to add gifs to her posts? hahaha…

 

 

 

 

 


Broccoli Wild Rice Casserole (veg, gf) & Planting Herbs Like a Boss

So I’ve cautiously planted a few things this year… useful things. Herbs. This is my first shot at eating something I’ve grown and, as of this morning, the herbs were still alive (victoreeeeeeeyyyy!). Though the herbs aren’t dead, I’ve formed a bad habit of tending to but not using them- and what’s the point of that?! Sheesh. I decided to make this casserole to pick some thyme and let it do it’s thing. To give it its thyme to shine, if you will (yuk yuk yuk).

cass2

Here are the products of my attempt at green thumbing-it. Irises I didn’t plant, the suspiciously healthy herbs, succulents that survive in desert conditions, coreopsis and other native plants that were the lone survivors of a Washington University drought experiment (thanks, Julie!), and basil, which would probably grow in a highway ditch.

Stand back. I am a master gardener.

To use my homegrown, real-life, big girl thyme and combine my love of grains, casseroles, and veggies, I made this delicious fare last night. Largely based on Heidi Swanson’s wild rice casserole (I know, I know, I keep coming back to Heidi), I added more dairy and waaay more veggies to make this a hearty and filling vegetarian side. Served with greens, another veggie, or with salmon as Dave enjoyed it, it’s a main dish. It’s quite tasty and addictive- I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

cass veggies

get jazzy on it

BROCCOLI WILD RICE CASSEROLE

Inspired by Heidi Swanson

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup uncooked wild rice
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 2 eggs
  • 8 oz cottage cheese
  • 8 oz sour cream
  • 1/2 cup milk or cream
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt, divided
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme or 1 tsp dried
  • 5-6 cremini mushrooms, diced
  • half a large yellow onion, diced
  • 3-4 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 3-4 stalks of celery, diced
  • 3 cloves fresh garlic or 4-5 cloves roasted garlic
  • 3 leaves kale, ribbed and cut into ribbons
  • 1 small head broccoli, stems diced and florets cut into quarters

Directions:

To cook the wild rice: in a small stockpot, add the wild rice, water, and 1/2 tsp salt. Bring to a boil, cover and cook for 20-25 minutes, until the rice is chewy. You may need to drain this, depending on how temperamental and stubborn your rice is. Set aside!

I got some wild, wild rice

I got some wiiild, wiiild rice**

As the rice cooks, heat the olive oil in a large, deep saucepan. Add your pre-chopped veggies and sauté in this order:

  1. carrots, mushrooms, thyme, onion, and 1/2 tsp kosher salt for 3 minutes
  2. add kale and broccoli, cook another 2 minutes
  3. add celery and garlic, cook 2 minutes more
  4. your kitchen smells amazing now.

cass veggies cook

Set the veggies aside or just scoot the pan to a cold burner. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, sour cream, cottage cheese, milk, and as much pepper as you’d like. You can whisk in the last 1/2 tsp salt here or omit it altogether.

cass eggs

Preheat your oven to 350. Using a bit more olive oil or some butter, grease a casserole dish. I used a large Corningware but a 9X9 would work well here, or even a 9×13. Fold the rice into the dairy and egg mixture and then fold in the veggies.

cass all mixed in bowl

Pour the rice and veggie mix into the greased casserole dish and cover with foil. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes, then remove the foil and bake an additional 20-25 minutes depending on the depth of your casserole dish. You want the casserole to be heated through and the top to be golden brown. All done! Let cool slightly and serve!


**


Produce Basket Weeknight Curry (v, gf)

Well, hello! It’s time for a curry. This dish is a great way to either add veggies to your diet, celebrate a meatless Monday, or use up the sad veggies withering away accusingly in your fridge. Grab the veggies! It’s not too late!

veggie curry

PRODUCE BASKET WEEKNIGHT CURRY

Ingredients:

  • brown rice, cooked according to package directions (or a microwaveable package of brown rice)
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil

    you saved us!

    you saved us!

  • 6-8 cups of any combination of vegetables you may have, or:
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1-inch piece of ginger, grated
  • 1/2 eggplant, chopped
  • 1 cup green beans, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped 
  • 1 1/2 cups broccoli florets
  • 1/2 cup green peas
  • 1/2 cup mushrooms

              And:

  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 2 tbsp red or green curry paste, your choice (or 1+ tbsp curry powder and 1 tsp kosher salt)
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce or 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • extra credit: 1 kaffir lime leaf and 1 tsp grated lemongrass
  • cilantro, for serving
  • bean sprouts, for serving 
  • sriracha or other chili paste for serving

Directions:

Heat the coconut oil in a large, deep skillet or wok over medium high heat. When the oil has melted and is hot- you can test this by tossing in an onion- add the onion and saute for about 2 minutes, until they start to become translucent. Add the garlic, ginger, and lemongrass, if using, and saute for another minute. Add the rest of your spectacular veggie combo (excluding cilantro and bean sprouts) and saute, stirring often, for 2-3 minutes more. Leave the stove on and skillet hot.

veggie saute

Remove the veggies to a large bowl and add the coconut milk to the  skillet and bring to a simmer. When the coconut milk is simmering, add the curry paste or powder, the brown sugar, and the fish sauce or salt. Stir to dissolve and combine, then add the veggies back and the kaffir lime leaf to the pan. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer 3-5 more minutes.

veggies cooking

That’s it! Taste a bit of the sauce and adjust seasonings as necessary. You may like it a bit more salty. Serve over brown rice and pass sriracha. How good of you to eat so many veggies at once. Yum.