Chard parsnip patties

October 10, 2018 at 3:44 am (Dark leafy greens, Fall recipes, Root vegetables, unrated, Website / blog)

I had both chard and parsnips from our CSA a few weeks ago and decided to try a new recipe. I decided to try this recipe for chard and parsnip patties, since the author says her kids like them, and I was hoping that Alma might like them. They have a bit of flour and cheese, but mostly the patties are just veggies.

The first time I made the recipe I had a really hard time getting the patties to stick together. I think I didn’t chop the chard up finely enough. I ended up doubling the flour to get them to stick together at all, and still it was a challenge getting them to form into patties. The recipe says the chard should be “chopped” but I think it really needs to be more minced. The second time I made the recipe I used my food processor to mince the chard  and it worked much better. I also used the food processor for the onions and garlic, and to grate the parsnips.

Derek and I thought the patties were really tasty. I could taste both the parsnip and the chard well. The only problem was that I used quite a bit of oil to cook them. Also, Alma wouldn’t eat them. Maybe because of the cilantro? The second time I tried dividing the mixture into two halves and making one big “pancake/hashbrown” in my cast iron skillet. It was certainly much faster, but it didn’t get as nicely crispy and browned. But Alma ate them the second time around—not sure why.

This is definitely a recipe I would like to keep playing around with, especially in the autumn when we’re getting lots of chard from our CSA.

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Instant Pot Refried Beans

June 28, 2018 at 10:32 pm (Alma's faves, Beans, Mexican & S. American, Monthly menu plan, unrated, Website / blog) ()

I used to make refried beans on the stovetop, but now that I’ve gotten an Instant Pot I wanted to figure out how to make them in the electric pressure cooker instead. I started with this recipe for creamy-dreamy pinto beans from Julie and Kittee, but I changed a few things.

First of all, if I’m going to the trouble of making refries I’m going to want to use more than 2 cups of dry pintos! I figured the maximum that would fit in my 6-quart Instant Pot would be 4 cups, so I doubled the recipe. Also, I wanted to take out some of the beans as whole beans before making refries, so I soaked my beans overnight and reduced the cooking time, so that the beans would come out soft but not falling apart. Then I tweaked the seasoning a bit. Below is my modified recipe.

These days I usually serve my refries with salsa and homemade plantain chips. Alma, at 3.5 years, is a big fan. I’ll try to add a post about how I make the plantain chips next. Read the rest of this entry »

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The best pesto, and sore arms

June 17, 2018 at 9:13 pm (Cooking tips, Italian, Sauce/dressing, Summer recipes, unrated, Website / blog)

I got a ton of fresh basil from my CSA this week, so I decided to make pesto. I followed this “best pesto” recipe from Serious Eats. Wow was it hard work! I like that it gives the amount of basil leaves by weight, but the recipe did not prepare me for how much work it would be. It took a huge amount of effort to grind all those basil leaves down by hand. Maybe it was because I was using a big thai mortar and pestle instead of the little white (marble?) one they show in the video? By the end I could barely grip the mortar any more. And I never did get my basil leaves as fine as they show in their photos. The pesto did taste really good though (even though I didn’t have any Fiore Sardo, and used all parmesan, and left out the final 2 tablespoons of olive oil).

Alma tasted the pesto but wouldn’t eat it. I froze the bulk of it in two small glass jars.

I have more basil. I might try making the same recipe in the food processor, and see how different it tastes to me. Maybe I’ll even freeze my basil overnight first.

I’m out of pine nuts though. Maybe I’ll try making the next batch of pesto with sunflower seeds instead? Or maybe I’ll just freeze my basil (in oil?) and save it in the freezer for some other recipe.

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Amaranth porridge with blueberry sauce

May 27, 2018 at 11:24 pm (Alma's faves, breakfast, Fall recipes, Grains, Monthly menu plan, Spring recipes, unrated, Website / blog, Winter recipes) ()

About once a month I make this recipe from Naturally Ella for Blueberries ‘n’ Cream Amaranth Porridge. Derek won’t eat it, but Alma and I like it a lot. Amaranth has a somewhat odd sticky, grainy texture, but the addition of the creamy blueberry sauce helps transform it into more of a traditional tasting breakfast porridge.

I usually make it on the weekend, since it takes about 30 minutes to make. I always make extra amaranth and freeze it for a quick mid-week breakfast. Here’s how I cook the amaranth.

In a 2-quart pot, soak 1.5 cups of amaranth overnight. In the morning, drain the amaranth, and return it to the pot with 3 cups of water and three pinches of salt. Bring the amaranth to a boil, turn the heat as low as it will go, and reduce to a simmer. Cover and let simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit for 10 more minutes. Stir to mix in the extra water on the top of the amaranth.

Alternately, I’ve had success making amaranth in my instant pot electric pressure cooker. Lasttime I tried 1 cup of amaranth with 2 cups of water on high pressure for 3 minutes + natural release. It came out well, although it was sitting on keep warm for about an hour. Alma and I ate more than 2/3 of it for breakfast, so next time I’d try 2 cups of amaranth with 3.75 cups of water for 3 minutes + NR. I’m also curious to try a pot-in-pot method, so I don’t have to clean the large insert, but I suspect the cooking time will go up.

To make the blueberry sauce I follow the original recipe but cut the maple syrup down a tad and use vanilla extract instead of a vanilla bean:

  • 1 cup blueberries (I always use frozen, I wouldn’t waste fresh in this dish!)
  • 2 tsp. maple syrup (or 1 ripe pear, see note below)
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons heavy cream (I haven’t tried coconut milk yet)
  • pinch of salt

Note: I’ve also left the maple syrup out and added a ripe pear to the sauce. Once I just finely diced it (with skin on) and let it simmer with the blueberries. Another time I had a bunch of overripe pears and I cooked them into pear puree first (simmering them then pureeing them with my stick blender). I then used the puree in the blueberry sauce. Alma and I enjoyed both versions.

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Banana Oat Nut Pancakes

May 27, 2018 at 11:13 pm (Alma's faves, breakfast, Derek's faves, Monthly menu plan, unrated, Website / blog) ()

We have tried a lot of banana pancake recipes. This recipe from Cookie and Kate is currently one of our favorites. I usually add pecans as well.

The pancake batter has a lot of coconut oil in it, so I find you don’t need to use much oil in the pan. The oil could probably be cut down. The teaspoon of sweetener seems unnecessary if you eat them with maple syrup. I assume the lemon juice is there to activate the baking soda? I haven’t noticed any lemon flavor.

The recipe says it makes 8 pancakes, but they must be larger than ours, because for me it makes at least 9, usually more.

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Beluga lentil and beet salad with walnuts

May 27, 2018 at 11:03 pm (Alma's faves, Beans, Fall recipes, Monthly menu plan, My brain, Salads, Spring recipes, unrated, Winter recipes) ()

This is not really a recipe so much as a dinner idea. I basically serve beluga lentils and sliced cooked beets on a bed of salad greens, and drizzle with Annie’s dressing. If I have extra time I will roast some walnuts or pepitas to sprinkle on top. Occasionally we will skip the Annie’s and use feta instead.

I make this at least once a month, and everyone is always happy. When I tell Alma (at 3 years old) what we’re having for dinner, she says “oh, yum, I like that.” Derek is less excited about the idea (it sounds too boring) but once he actually eats it he’s always happy. I like it too. Plus it’s relatively easy to make and can be (mostly) frozen for a quick weeknight meal. Both the lentils and beets freeze well, as does Annie’s dressing. So all I have to do is pull out all the frozen components the night before, and then wash some salad greens.

I usually cook up a big batch of beluga lentils in my instant pot (see below for details). If you don’t have one, you could use a stovetop pressure cooker or just make them in a pan. I always make extra and freeze the leftovers in a glass jar.

I also usually cook beets in the instant pot. Roasted may be tastier, but the instant pot is so much easier and more reliable. Sometimes I am in a rush and then I buy the pre-cooked beets that are in every German supermarket. But they don’t taste as good as the ones I cook myself.

How to cook beets in the Instant Pot

Here are the instructions I used. My beets were big — just under 3 inches in diameter — so I cooked them for 20 minutes on high pressure. They came out perfectly—super easy to peel and the texture and flavor were great. In the past when I’ve boiled, steamed, or baked my beets, I’ve always had trouble getting them cooked consistently and getting the peels to come off easily. So this was a nice change of pace.

Here is her time chart with general guidelines (assuming 1 cup of water and quick release not natural release):

  • <2-inch diameter: 10 minutes under high pressure
  • 2-inch diameter: 15 minutes under high pressure
  • 2 to 3-inch diameter: 20 minutes under high pressure
  • >3-inch diameter: 25-30 minutes under high pressure

How to make beluga lentils in the Instant Pot.

I usually use a pot-in-pot method to cook lentils in the instant pot. I put 1.5 cups of water in the base of the instant pot, then put down the trivet and insert my small (3 quart) instant pot base. I fill it with 500g beluga lentils, 900g of water, and 1 tsp. of salt. I cook the lentils on manual (high pressure) for 12 minutes plus natural pressure release.

I have also tried setting the lentils up in the morning before work, and setting the timer so that the lentils would be done at dinnertime. Since the lentils would be soaking all day I lowered the cooking time, maybe to 5 minutes? I think it worked fine, but I’m not positive. I also don’t recall how long before dinner I set the start time. Maybe 10 minutes to come to pressure, 5 minutes to cook, and 15 minutes for pressure to come down, so 30 minutes before dinnertime?

If you don’t have the 3-quart insert, you can cook the lentils directly in the large 6-quart base. Jill Nussinow says to cook them with 1.5x water for 6 to 7 minutes plus natural release. But others say 2x water and still others say only 4 minutes natural pressure release. I tried a couple of different ways, but I was never happy with how they turned out. Unfortunately I didn’t keep notes. but I generally found that the lentils cooked unevenly. The ones on the bottom end up overcooked and the ones on the top end up underdone. If you have a a 7-cup pyrex bowl you could use that, but then 500g lentils will likely be too much, causing your bowl to overflow during cooking. Maybe 450g (1 pound) lentils and 800g water would fit? I’ve also heard that some people soak the lentils overnight and then cook them in the instant pot in a steamer basket. I haven’t tried it that way yet.

Also a note on cooking regular (greenish/brownish) lentils in the instant pot. Last time I did 2:1 water to lentils (by weight not volume, so a bit less than 2:1 by volume) in the main pot. I think I cooked them on high pressure for 5 minutes and released pressure after about 15 minutes, but the pressure was just about up. They came out not bad, but a tad unevenly cooked. I think next time I will try using the pot-in-pot method instead.

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Asparagus, pea, fava bean, and barley ragout

May 31, 2017 at 9:37 pm (101 cookbooks, Alma's faves, Beans, Grains, My brain, Pasta, Quick weeknight recipe, Spring recipes, Starches, unrated, Vegetable dishes) (, )

I am embarrassed to admit that I have never cooked with fava beans. All that boiling and husking and peeling of individual beans … Seems like a lot of work. So I thought I’d start easy with basically ready-to-eat frozen, pre-shelled fava beans. But what to do with them? I found this recipe for a spring ragout on the 101 cookbooks blog, and it looked good, and toddler friendly. Alma likes asparagus and peas and pasta, so hopefully she’d like the dish. And she did. I decided to make it a second time, but then Alma got pasta at lunch at daycare, and I didn’t want to serve pasta twice in one day, so I subbed in barley instead. She loved it!  Read the rest of this entry »

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Easy toasted overnight steel cut oatmeal

May 29, 2017 at 8:55 pm (Alma's faves, breakfast, Derek's faves, Fall recipes, Grains, Monthly menu plan, unrated, Website / blog, Winter recipes)

Normally Derek doesn’t like oatmeal made from steel cut oats that much, but today he really liked it, and he asked me to write up what I did. I mostly followed this recipe from Marin Mama Cooks for toasted overnight steel cut oats, but I made a few changes. Read the rest of this entry »

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Red lentil and spinach pancakes

May 16, 2017 at 2:45 pm (Beans, Dark leafy greens, Uncategorized, unrated, Website / blog) ()

Alma does not like red lentils. She will happily eat brown lentils, green lentils, and black lentils, but if I give her a bite of red lentils she invariably spits them out. I think it’s a texture thing, so I thought I’d try this recipe from the Healthy Little Foodies blog for red lentil and spinach pancakes. The recipe is really simple — just soaked (not cooked) red lentils, garlic and spices, and fresh spinach. Read the rest of this entry »

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Baked Cauli-tots

May 15, 2017 at 8:44 pm (Alma's faves, breakfast, Cruciferous rich, Derek's faves, Monthly menu plan, unrated, Website / blog) ()

There are a million recipes online for cauliflower “tots”. They’re a fun change of pace from simple roasted cauliflower, and they’re easy to make in advance when you need a quick breakfast. Serve the cauli-tots with some already cooked beans and some fresh fruit and they’ll make a great breakfast. Read the rest of this entry »

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Homemade Progresso-style Lentil Soup

April 19, 2017 at 2:54 pm (Alma's faves, Beans, Fall recipes, Monthly menu plan, My brain, soup, unrated, Winter recipes)

The first food that Derek ever cooked for me was a bowl of lentil soup. He very carefully opened up a can of Progresso lentil soup, and then worked long and hard to “cook” it. And cook it he did, not in the microwave but in a real pot on the stove! It was piping hot and delicious.

Both of us still love Progresso vegetable classics lentil soup, but we can’t get it here in Germany. It’s probably for the best though, as I try not to buy canned foods, plus the sodium levels are through the roof. Still, we miss it, and so I decided to try to make it myself. I looked online for a copycat recipe, but couldn’t find anything that seemed promising. So I just took a look at the ingredient list and nutritional label and gave it a crack. I haven’t had the real thing in years, so I could be off, but to both Derek and I my soup tasted just like the real thing.

The first time I made it Alma wouldn’t touch it (too brown and goopy I guess), but at some point she finally tried it and really liked it. Then the next time I served it she again rejected it. I reminded her that last time she had scarfed it up and that she had even chastised me for finishing all the leftovers. She tried it again and again happily polished off her bowl.
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What we’ve been eating in April, with toddler menus

May 1, 2016 at 9:22 pm (Menus, unrated)

I have had no time to blog lately, so I thought I’d do one big post about what we’ve been eating lately. Luckily Derek asked me to keep notes on our menus, as a way of making menu planning easier. It’s easier to just repeat old menus than try to figure out new menus from scratch.  My notes aren’t complete though, as some days I forgot to write down what we ate.

We’ve been making lots of old standbys, but have tried a few new recipes. I’m posting our menus below, with some brief notes on the new recipes. I’m also including a separate entry for what Alma ate for dinner, since my German friends with toddlers often ask me what we feed her. They just can’t imagine what she eats. A vegetarian toddler who rarely gets bread or pasta (and who doesn’t like potatoes, at least when I cook them)? What in the world does she eat every day? Hopefully this post will answer that question! Read the rest of this entry »

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Simple, French-style pureed soup, especially for toddlers

May 1, 2016 at 8:09 pm (Alma's faves, French, Root vegetables, soup, unrated, Vegetable dishes, Website / blog) ()

I recently read the book French Kids Eat Everything: How Our Family Moved to France, Cured Picky Eating, Banned Snacking, and Discovered 10 Simple Rules for Raising Happy, Healthy Eaters by Karen LeBillon. I quite enjoyed the book, and—when it comes to preparing food for Alma—it gave me lots of “food” for thought. (Sorry!)

There are a number of interesting observations LeBillon makes in the book, but I’ll save them for another post. Today, I wanted to focus on the idea of starting dinner with a simple pureed vegetable soup. LeBillon says that the French start their meal with a soup several times a week. This soup is almost always a vegetable soup, and often a simple pureed vegetable soup. These soups supposedly make great starters for babies and toddlers, as they’re an easy way to introduce them to a lot of different vegetables. Also, it gives them a vegetable at the start of the meal, when they are most hungry. Finally, they’re really fast to make. Just saute some aromatics, throw in your veggies and broth, simmer briefly, and puree. All in all, that’s pretty easy, which is definitely a plus when it comes to cooking with a busy toddler underfoot. Finally, they freeze really well. You can freeze the soups in small jars and then defrost them quickly when needed—no need to scramble to put something healthy on the table at the last minute.

I thought I’d give it a try. I started with LeBillon’s simple French carrot soup with dill recipe.  Although most toddlers seem to like carrots, Alma usually does not, I’m not sure why—maybe a texture issue? I thought  pureeing them was worth a try. The first time I served it, Alma ate one very tiny bowl of it (a mise en place bowl), without too much complaint. She didn’t love it, but it helped that she’s just learned how to use a spoon, and so anything that requires a spoon is therefore very exciting. I had made quite a bit of soup, so I decided to take half of the leftovers and add in some roasted red bell pepper and jarred tomatoes, and pureed the soup again. I refrigerated a little bit of each soup, and froze the rest in small glass jars. The version with red bell pepper and tomato was definitely a bigger hit (with both Derek and Alma) than the straight carrot soup, but over the last several weeks Alma has eaten the plain carrot dill version several times, sometimes enthusiastically, sometimes less so.

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Chia pumpkin pudding

November 6, 2015 at 11:13 pm (Alma's faves, Dessert, Monthly menu plan, Pudding, unrated, Website / blog) ()

When we visited my Mom in June, she made a simple chia pudding with almond milk, which I really liked. It’s also vegan and raw. I liked it so much that when I got home I bought some chia seeds. But then of course I never got around to using them. When my mom came to visit in August, she discovered the unopened package, and made homemade almond milk and then used it to make me some more of her chia pudding. It was delicious. But making the almond milk was a pain, because my almonds didn’t peel easily. So for a second batch she tried making a version with hemp milk instead of almond milk. It was also good, but the hemp milk adds a pretty sharp grassy note. Alma ate both versions, but seemed to prefer the one with almond milk. Once my mom left I didn’t have the energy to make almond milk, so I bought some at the store and made another batch of chia almond milk pudding. Alma really liked it.  So I tried to find some more recipes using chia seeds, and I came across this recipe for pumpkin pie chia pudding. Read the rest of this entry »

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Kohlrabi slaw with cilantro jalapeño lime dressing

July 23, 2015 at 9:41 pm (Cruciferous rich, Mexican & S. American, Salads, unrated)

I bought a large kohlrabi without having any specific plans for it, then found a recipe on thekitchn.com for a kohlrabi and carrot slaw. I used the recipe as a jumping off point, altered it based on what I had in the fridge, and ended up with a kohlrabi, carrot, fennel, and apple slaw with a cilantro jalapeño lime dressing. It was a little spicy and a little sweet, and both Derek and I liked it a lot! I didn’t measure anything, so below is my best guess at what I did. Read the rest of this entry »

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What we’ve been cooking this week

May 17, 2015 at 8:01 pm (Beans, Cruciferous rich, Dark leafy greens, East and SE Asia, Georgeanne Brennan, Indian, Isa C. Moskowitz, Middle East / N. Africa, Nancie McDermott, Peter Berley, Root vegetables, Tofu, unrated, Vegetable dishes)

I say what we’ve been cooking instead of what I’ve been cooking, because with the new baby, Derek has been doing about as much cooking as I have, if not more. In the first few months he was mostly just making old standbys, but in the last week or two we’ve finally started to branch out and try some new recipes. I don’t have time to write full blog posts about each one, so I’ll write a short blurb here for each. Read the rest of this entry »

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Sweet caramelized tofu with shredded brussels sprouts and pecans

January 19, 2015 at 3:17 pm (101 cookbooks, Chinese, Cruciferous rich, East and SE Asia, Fall recipes, Tofu, unrated, Winter recipes)

I wanted to use up some brussels sprouts and cilantro, and found this recipe for a tofu, sprout stirfry on 101cookbooks. It looked interesting, and we had all the ingredients on hand, so Derek and I gave it a try for lunch yesterday. Read the rest of this entry »

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California barley bowl with arugula, avocado, seeds, and feta

December 31, 2014 at 4:39 pm (101 cookbooks, breakfast, Dark leafy greens, Grains, Necessarily nonvegan, Salads, Starches, unrated)

This was another pantry-cleaning-inspired selection. I wanted to use up some whole (unhulled) barley, and Derek and I chose this refreshing-sounding recipe for a barley salad from the 101 cookbooks website. Read the rest of this entry »

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Pumpkin risotto with sage and arugula

December 31, 2014 at 4:30 pm (Derek's faves, Fall recipes, Grains, Italian, Meyer & Romano, Necessarily nonvegan, Starches, unrated, Winter recipes)

I’m doing an end-of-the-year pantry cleaning, and wanted to use up some risotto rice. Derek and I looked at a couple of different recipes and finally decided on this pumpkin risotto recipe from the Union Square Cookbook. The recipe first has you make a pumpkin broth using standard vegetable broth ingredients (onion, leek, celery, carrots, etc.) as well as 2 cups canned pumpkin puree, maple syrup, and sweet spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. Once the broth is made, you make the risotto, adding diced winter squash along with the rice, and then tossing in fresh sage, arugula, and mozzarella right before serving. Read the rest of this entry »

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Chocolate teff banana bread

December 15, 2014 at 11:58 pm (Dessert, Muffins and quick breads, unrated, Website / blog)

I was looking for a recipe to use up some teff flour, and I came across this recipe for chocolate, teff, banana bread on the Cannelle Et Vanille blog. I vaguely recall making a different chocolate, teff, banana bread earlier this year (this recipe from the gluten-free-girl blog) and not being so excited about it. I’m not usually a fan of chocolate in banana bread—I normally prefer adding nuts and spices, as I find that adding chocolate or chocolate chips overpowers the pure banana-bread-y-ness.  With this recipe, however, I absolutely loved the final product. I’m not sure what made the key difference (maybe it’s just the pregnancy talking?), but I adored this cake. It’s very sweet and very moist and very banana-y, with a tender crumb that is neither overly delicate nor overly gooey. Read the rest of this entry »

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Za’atar-Spiced Beet Dip with Goat Cheese and Hazelnuts

November 9, 2014 at 1:54 pm (Middle East / N. Africa, Root vegetables, unrated, Website / blog)

I’ve seen this Yotam Ottolenghi beet dip recipe show up on several blogs lately, and although beets and goat cheese is a standard combination, I’ve never tried beets and goat cheese with Zaatar before. It sounded interesting, so I thought I’d give it a try.

I used pre-cooked, pre-peeled beets, and so the recipe was pretty easy—just put everything but the garnishes in the food processor and blend. The puree tasted okay, but I could barely taste the za’atar, which was the reason I had picked the recipe in the first place. I ended up adding quite a bit more as a garnish on top of the puree. as well as more hazelnuts and goat cheese and scallions. (The garnishes seemed to disappear much faster than the beet dip.)

We ate the dip with pita bread, but it seemed to last an awful long time, given that it was only made from 6 beets. (Normally Derek and I could polish off 6 small beets in one or maybe two sittings.) Derek liked the dish more than me, but after we finally finished it I asked him if we should make it again, and he said no.

I think my main problem with the recipe is that it’s a dip. I just didn’t know what to do with it. I couldn’t figure out what to dip into it other than pita bread, and I didn’t really want to eat a massive amount of pita bread. I think I would have liked it better as a salad with sliced beets.

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Yam and Peanut Stew with Kale

November 9, 2014 at 1:14 pm (Beans, Beans and greens, Fall recipes, Middle East / N. Africa, One pot wonders, Root vegetables, soup, Uncategorized, unrated, Website / blog, Winter recipes)

My sister loves this recipe for a yam and peanut stew with kale, and has recommended it to me several times. She mentioned it again last week and coincidentally I had (almost) all the ingredients on hand (everything but the roasted and salted peanuts and the scallions). Hanaleah said that I could leave off both, since they’re just garnishes. So I decided to make it for dinner.

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Sautéed shredded zucchini with lemon and thyme

August 2, 2014 at 5:13 pm (Other, Summer recipes, unrated, Vegetable dishes)

For my next zucchini recipe, I chose this simple recipe from Sara Moulton Cooks at Home. Jack Bishop has similar recipes in his Italian Vegetarian cookbook. The idea is to concentrate the zucchini flavor by tossing the grated zucchini with salt and letting it drain, then squeezing out a lot of the moisture. Read the rest of this entry »

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Almond meal and zucchini falafel

August 2, 2014 at 5:04 pm (Middle East / N. Africa, Summer recipes, unrated, Website / blog)

Even after making two zucchini breads, I still had a ton of zucchini left. I cooked some up with carrots and onions and used it as a topping for pasta along with fresh tomatoes and basil. It was tasty but for my next recipe I wanted to try something a little bit different. When I was looking for recipes that call for coconut flour, I had bookmarked this recipe for almond meal and zucchini falafel from the divaliciousrecipesinthecity.com blog. Unfortunately, I didn’t go back and re-read the head notes before making the recipe, I just started with the ingredient list. I saw “almond meal” and thought it was supposed to be ground almonds, but it turns out the recipe is actually calling for the fibrous, low-fat almond meal leftover from making homemade almond milk. Whoops! Maybe that’s why my falafel were such a disaster. But a surprisingly tasty disaster… Read the rest of this entry »

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Healthier zucchini bread

August 2, 2014 at 4:47 pm (Muffins and quick breads, Summer recipes, unrated, Website / blog)

A friend gave me a ton of zucchini from her garden, and I had to figure out what to do with it. I’d never made zucchini bread before, but I was in the mood for something sweet, so I found two recipes online for reasonably healthy-looking zucchini bread. One is for a “regular” zucchini bread, just modified a bit to be lower calorie. The second is for a chocolate zucchini bread. Read the rest of this entry »

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Saucy Italian baked eggs

May 27, 2014 at 6:38 pm (breakfast, Italian, Monthly menu plan, Necessarily nonvegan, One pot wonders, Ottolenghi, Quick weeknight recipe, Spring recipes, Summer recipes, unrated, Website / blog, Winter recipes)

I came across this recipe for saucy Italian baked eggs on a random blog, and immediately started drooling. I’ve been craving tomato sauce lately and this recipe is basically an egg baked in a big ramekin of marinara sauce with a little mozzarella and basil for garnish. It even looked easy enough that Derek could make it himself. Read the rest of this entry »

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Buckwheat pancakes filled with asparagus, broccoli, and mushrooms

April 12, 2014 at 10:51 pm (Cruciferous rich, French, Rebecca Wood, unrated)

I wanted to use up some buckwheat flour, and so I went straight to the buckwheat section of The Splendid Grain by Rebecca Wood. The first recipe we picked was a very simple recipe for Sarrasin Crepes, the buckwheat crepes that are typical in Brittany. The recipe looked pretty typical, except that it calls for ground coriander. Read the rest of this entry »

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Bok choy braised with garlic

April 12, 2014 at 10:32 pm (Cruciferous rich, Dark leafy greens, unrated, Vegetable dishes)

I wanted a quick way to use up some bok choy last week, and choose this recipe from Cook’s Illustrated. Normally I stir-fry bok choy, so I was curious how it would taste braised instead. Read the rest of this entry »

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Bean, barley, cabbage stew with bear garlic pesto

April 12, 2014 at 10:21 pm (101 cookbooks, Beans, Beans and greens, Derek's faves, Grains, Miso, One pot wonders, soup, unrated, Vegetable dishes)

I found some small red beans in the Turkish store near my house last week. I snapped them up, excited to add something a bit different to my usual rotation (black beans, cranberry beans, kidney beans, white beans, lentils, various kinds of dals, chickpeas, and split mung beans). I cooked up a big pot of red beans, then had to figure out how to make a full dinner out of them. I searched all my cookbooks for recipes for red beans (with the convenient eatyourbooks.com website) and found this 101cookbooks recipe for a farro and bean stew. Amazingly, I had (almost) all the ingredients.

The recipe looked pretty plain. It’s just veggies and beans and grains without any spices or herbs, not even garlic—the only seasoning is salt. So I decided to use the Bärlauch I had in the fridge to make a Bärlauch pesto. I tried to look up what Bärlauch is called in the states, and found a number of translations. Wikipedia says “Allium ursinum – known as ramsons, buckrams, wild garlic, broad-leaved garlic, wood garlic, bear leek or bear’s garlic – is a wild relative of chives native to Europe and Asia.” It’s a broad, bright green leaf that tastes strongly of garlic, and (as I discovered this week) lasts quite a long time in the fridge! I had it in a plastic bag in the fridge all week and it didn’t seem at all the worse for the waiting. Read the rest of this entry »

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How to cook acorn squash

March 23, 2014 at 8:18 pm (Cook's Illustrated, Fall recipes, unrated, Website / blog, Winter recipes)

When I first moved to Germany I couldn’t find acorn squash, and then last year they suddenly started turning up, but I had forgotten how to cook them. I tried baking them several times but they always ended up with burned skin and dried-up insides. Clearly I am not good at winging it. So this time I followed an actual recipe! Well…, sort of. As much as such a thing is possible. Read the rest of this entry »

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The optimal way to bake sweet potatoes

March 21, 2014 at 12:25 pm (Root vegetables, unrated)

I was going to be home late on Tuesday, and so I asked Derek to bake some sweet potatoes, so that they’d be ready to eat when I got home. He asked me how and I said I didn’t remember exactly, but that they’re pretty forgiving. When I got home I found that he had rinsed them off, pricked the sweet potatoes with a knife in a few places, and put them on an (unlined) cookie sheet. He had been baking them at 375 for about an hour and they were not even close to being soft. I was surprised, as I feel like sweet potatoes are usually done after an hour in the oven. They were were quite large, but I think that even large sweet potatoes shouldn’t take much longer than an hour to get soft.

After 20 more minutes the potatoes were still hard. I poked the sweet potatoes a few more times and turned the oven up to 400. I also turned the sweet potatoes and added some water to the cookie sheet, to keep the skin from burning before the flesh got soft. After another 30 minutes or so they were finally done, but the cookie sheet was covered in burnt sweet potato juice. What a mess.

Clearly this wasn’t the optimal way to cook sweet potatoes. So what is? I did some quick internet research to try to figure it out. Read the rest of this entry »

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Late Spring chopped salad

March 19, 2014 at 8:50 pm (My brain, Salads, unrated)

I made a spur-of-the-moment chopped salad (i.e., no greens) yesterday for breakfast, and it turned out delicious, so I’m going to try to write down what was in it.

  • Two carrots, grated
  • Half of a kohlrabi, peeled and then julienned (actually I used a spiral slicer)
  • About half a jar of hearts of palm, sliced
  • A handful of florets of raw cauliflower, which had been marinated in a very ginger-y, vinegary dressing overnight
  • One stalk of celery, sliced
  • A couple handfuls of chopped parsley

We dressed the salad with my homemade Annie’s tahini dressing. The salad was very tasty, but what I liked most about it were all the different textures. Everything except the parsley was crunchy, but each ingredient offered a distinct type of crunch. Read the rest of this entry »

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Homemade lara bars

February 26, 2014 at 10:09 am (Dessert, Other, unrated, Website / blog)

So far I’ve been doing pretty well on my elimination diet, except for my one “cheat” with a bit of oatmeal. Also, I forgot that lemon is citrus and I ate it several times. It’s so hard to cut out lemon that I’ve decided to leave it in. Could anyone really be allergic to lemons? I haven’t actually noticed any improvements in my allergies yet, but it’s only been a week and a half, so maybe it just takes more time.

The hardest part for me so far has been the nightly desire for a sweet snack of some sort. I said I was going to try to cut out added sugars as much as possible, and instead I’ve been eating Lara-type dried fruit and nut bars as a post-dinner dessert. They’re very tasty but a little bit too big for a dessert before bed. Also, they’re quite expensive (about 2 euros each). So I decided to try making my own. There are a million recipes online and I picked two to try: gingerbread bars and coconut cranberry bars. Read the rest of this entry »

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Sauerkraut patties

February 24, 2014 at 11:23 am (Beans, Cruciferous rich, unrated, Website / blog)

Derek was very skeptical about my allergy-free diet. He can still eat wheat and dairy and soy, of course, but still—I’m the one doing the cooking. But he was surprised to find that he loved both dinners I’ve made since he got back from Berlin. On Friday I just made a simple stir-fry, but it came out way better than most stir-fries I throw together. Then last night I made these sauerkraut patties from the click clack gorilla blog, and he absolutely loved them.

For the stir-fry Derek chopped up a bunch of garlic for me and I got out some leftover minced ginger. I sautéed both in a bit of olive oil along with a big handful of cashews. Then I added two heads of broccoli, some sliced shiitakes, and some more olive oil and sautéed everything briefly. I covered the broccoli with a layer of frozen stir-fry veggies (including bell peppers, carrots, bean sprouts, bamboo, leeks, etc.) and added a bit of water, salt, and pepper, then covered the pan and let everything steam until soft. When just about done I mixed a few teaspoons of Thai red curry paste with a tablespoon or so of coconut milk, just until dissolved, then threw that into the stir-fry along with some chopped scallions. Delicious. Both Derek and I really loved it.

The sauerkraut patty recipe looks pretty weird, but the title was quite persuasive (“sauerkraut patties will save your life”). I figured they were worth a try. The recipe is not really a recipe as much as an idea. (There are no measurements for anything.) I used:

  • one bag of sauerkraut from the farmer’s market
  • about 1/2 cup of cooked steel cut oats (okay, I cheated a bit on the no-grain front, but at least oats don’t have gluten)
  • some ground almonds for “flour”
  • one large carrot, grated
  • one large zucchini, grated
  • 1/2 red onion, grated
  • a couple ladlefuls of pinto beans
  • salt and pepper and a bit of red thai curry paste

The batter still looked pretty wet but I didn’t want to add any flour so I figured I’d just try it as it was. I added some oil to my cast iron skillet and fried the patties up until brown on both sides. The patties didn’t hold together great, but they were certainly recognizable as individual units, which was better than I expected. I found them a little odd. They were very sour from the sauerkraut and the (inside) texture was soggy and a little stringy. They weren’t unpleasant, but I don’t know that I’d rush to make them again. Derek, however, absolutely adored them. He spread them with more thai curry paste and really liked the combination of the spicy curry paste and the sourness of the sauerkraut. I think he likes sauerkraut more than me.

He ended our meal by saying, “I don’t know how this allergy-free diet has done it, but somehow your cooking has really improved lately!”

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Roasted sweet potato fries

February 17, 2014 at 10:49 pm (Fall recipes, Quick weeknight recipe, Root vegetables, Starches, Uncategorized, unrated, Website / blog, Winter recipes)

I’ve decided to go on an elimination diet for a month, to see if it helps my allergies. I chose the foods to eliminate based on how allergenic they seem to be in general, as well as the results of a skin-prick test I had years ago. I decided to eliminate the three big allergens—soy, dairy, and gluten—as well as a number of other foods.

Today was my first day of what I call my “allergy-free” diet and I got home from work quite late and found very little in the fridge, since we were out of town all weekend and I didn’t get a chance to do my normal Saturday morning shopping. Normally I would throw together a pasta dish or a stir-fry with veggies and tofu, but today I had to be a little more creative. I found some sweet potatoes and a jar of giant white beans in the pantry, and so I improvised what turned out to be a quite tasty dinner of sweet potato fries and white beans with leeks and dill and parsley. (I had chopped herbs in the freezer.) Read the rest of this entry »

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