Spicy Lentil Tacos

Do you have lentils in your pantry? These easy going legumes are like the laid back surfers of the bean world. Ready to go at a moment’s notice they require hardly any preparation and take just a brief 25 minutes to cook. No overnight soaking, pre-cooking, or long slow simmers required. Packed with protein, fiber, essential minerals, and B vitamins lentils are an excellent choice for bulking up meatless meals. (more…)

Homemade Granola

I used to be a morning person. Frequently bouncing out of bed before the alarm went off, I dove into my day with vigor. Sometimes when Mr. B was out of town I completely forgot to make coffee, only realizing my error when a wicked headache kicked in around 10:30am. Breakfast was most often hot- eggs on toast, oatmeal, and banana pancakes on the weekends. A box of cereal could languish in our pantry for months and a half gallon of milk spoiled in the fridge more times than I care to admit. I’m sure you can all guess what happened next. (more…)

Pressure Cooker Chili

Growing up, we had an old school pressure cooker. A heavy dull gray pot, it would sit on the stove and heat up until the removable valve would whistle steam and dance around like a bobble head doll. My mom warned us to stay away from the pot when it whistled. I would watch from a distance, wondering if the steam would ever become too much for the valve to handle and send it sky rocketing off the pot toward the ceiling. That never happened, but therein lies the reason most people avoid pressure cookers- fear of exploding pots and ugly ceiling stains. (more…)

Salmon with a Soy Maple Glaze

As my pregnancy moves along, I have found it increasingly challenging to maintain my usual long hours in the kitchen. Perhaps it is nature’s way of getting me prepared for the changes ahead (much like waking up six times a night, oh joy!) or maybe it is just because carrying another human around all day can really wear a body out. However the benefit is that I have already started to seek out recipes that deliver the level of flavor and enjoyment we are used to without the time commitment. (more…)

Carrot Orange Ginger Juice

It all started with Jack Lalanne. I was in a hotel room, flipping through the channels while waiting for Mr. B and I landed on the always-running informercial for a Jack Lalanne juicer. My thumb paused over the remote as I watched Jack push an entire section of pineapple through the juicer in seconds flat. My stomach growled. Fresh pineapple juice sounded great. I continued to watch as the machine pulverized celery, melons, carrots, and anything else remotely edible stacked on the counter nearby. Mr. B walked in and asked, “What are you watching?” I replied, “I think we should get a juicer.” (more…)

Savory Sausage Stuffed Squash

I was not planning to write about this recipe. It was supposed to be just a quick weeknight dinner that served the purpose of using up a few forlorn carnival squash. The squash had been sitting patiently on my counter since the last farmer’s market way back in October, a long time even for squash. Yet, in classic Alton Brown fashion, the proper mix of ingredients and techniques in this recipe turned an ordinary weeknight meal into a dish worth celebrating. (more…)

Roasted Cauliflower with Lemon Tahini Sauce

Cauliflower is a reliable vegetable. One of the few hearty vegetables that can be counted on when other options are buried under a foot of snow or are road-weary from traveling across hemispheres. This cruciferous winter hero not only packs a fiber filled punch but is loaded with vitamin C and vitamin K. The only challenge is finding a healthy way to make it taste good. (more…)

Spiced Banana Bread (Vegan)

Spiced Banana Bread

Everyone should have a go-to banana bread recipe. Much like the ubiquitous chocolate chip cookie, the kid-friendly marinara sauce, or a family favorite grilled cheese, banana bread is a home cooking standby. (Unless of course you are one of those odd people who doesn’t like bananas. Then hang on a week or two as zucchini bread is bound to make an appearance soon!)

Making Spiced Banana Bread

It took me a while to find “my” banana bread. I dallied with orange juice filled loaves. I played with chocolate chip studded slices. I even flirted with pineapple bits in the batter but at the end of the day each version ended up slightly off. Too tropical, too sweet, too much like a muffin. The bananas took a backseat as the other ingredients stepped up front and center on the palate. (more…)

Garlicky Potato and Baby Spinach Gratin

Garlicky Potato and Baby Spinach Gratin

The arrival of Memorial Day weekend always feels like the official start of summer. Bright sunny mornings, languid afternoons, and warm nights work together to bring on the magical feeling of our favorite season. This year we have enjoyed an unusual stretch of hot weather, with temperatures already hitting 90 on several days. In response Mr. B and I have let the dust accumulate on our indoor dining table, moving all meals outside for the foreseeable future. The grill is coming back into regular rotation and Oscar is spending the warm days floating his ears in a plastic swimming pool on the deck.
A recent visit from a few members of Mr. B’s extended family led to the first BBQ party of the season. With little time to prepare a meal, I pulled out our always reliable grilled rib-eye and asparagus recipe and made a quick strawberry rhubarb pie. When I contemplated what side dish to serve with the steak, I was torn. Mr. B’s family has a long held tradition of ordering creamed spinach whenever they are in a steak house. While I enjoy creamed spinach I am actually more of a gratin girl- preferring thin layers of potatoes below a toasted cheese crust to greens swimming in cream. After mentally debating between the two dishes the thought struck me, what if I could do both? Google provided the answer in mere seconds, with a wonderful recipe for a garlicky potato and baby spinach gratin from Food and Wine.

Making Garlicky Potato and Baby Spinach Gratin

Reading through the recipe I knew it was the perfect marriage of both elements. Thinly sliced potatoes and wilted spinach with garlic are bathed in a creamy sauce topped with an oozing layer of toasted cheese. With the help of a mandoline slicer the dish came together in about 15 minutes and kept happily in the fridge until I was ready to place it in the oven. As we sat down to dinner, I hoped that my intuition was correct. (It is always risky to make a recipe for the first time with guests at the table!) One forkful of the potato and spinach gratin and my hunch paid off. The dish went beautifully with grilled steak and was met with exclamations of joy around the table. It was such a success that I believe it earned a permanent place in our fall-back entertaining menu. If you are looking to satisfy both the creamed spinach and potato gratin lovers in your life, this is the dish to do it!

Garlicky Potato and Baby Spinach Gratin

Garlicky Potato and Baby Spinach Gratin (Printable Recipe)
Adapted from Food and Wine
Serves 10
Ingredients:
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup plus 4 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more to coat the baking dish
10 ounces baby spinach (8 cups)
5 garlic cloves, minced
2 1/2 pounds baking potatoes, peeled and sliced, on a mandoline, 1/16 inch thick
Directions:
Pre-heat the oven to 425° with a rack in the middle. Butter an 11×17 inch baking dish or 10 8-ounce ramekins. In a glass measuring cup or small bowl with a pouring spout, mix together the cream, 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Set cream mixture aside.
Place a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add two tablespoons of butter, and melt it. Add the baby spinach and minced garlic to the pan, toss the spinach with tongs and cook until the spinach is wilted, about 1 minute. If the spinach is slow to wilt, add 1/4 cup of water to the pan. Turn off the heat, and set the pan and spinach aside.
Evenly layer the potato slices in the bottom of the baking dish or ramekins. Distribute the spinach in an even layer on top of the potatoes. Whisk the cream mixture with a fork, and then pour it evenly on top of the spinach and potatoes. Give the dish (or ramekins) a little shake after pouring in the cream, to help it settle around the filling. Sprinkle the remaining 4 tablespoons of Parmesan over the top of the filling. Place the baking dish in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the cheese is brown, the cream filling is bubbling, and the potatoes are tender. Let the dish cool for about 5 minutes before serving as the potatoes will be quite hot.

Scottish Oat Cakes

Scottish Oat Cakes

I don’t have many words for you today. The busyness of Spring has continued over the past week with a crazy amount of dirt moving and garden building. Beyond the Spring activity, something even bigger has been brewing: my parents are re-locating to the Dakotas! I think we are all still in a bit of shock that everything lined up perfectly for a cross-country move. After 30 years on the West Coast they are headed East for a major change of scene. Trading fish and forests for buffalo and prairies, it will be a whole new world to explore together! They stayed with us for the past week while house hunting and found a fantastic place that is within walking distance from our house. I cannot begin to tell you how excited I am to have them only minutes away instead of two time zones and 1,000 miles.

Making Scottish Oat Cakes

While my parents were visiting, I whipped up a batch of these Scottish oat cakes. Pulled from a recent issue of Vegetarian Times, this recipe comes together in minutes for a quick and healthy breakfast. The finished cakes are shaped like cookies (but not nearly as sweet), and are a wonderful portable breakfast for mornings on the run. Filled with rolled oats, buttermilk, and a little brown sugar they are a satisfying alternative to granola bars or cereal. Mr. B noted that “Without jam these cakes are doomed” which translates to, “These cakes are so healthy a good dose of sugar is necessary to call them breakfast.” However with a smear of your favorite jam or a drizzle of honey they are the perfect way to enjoy a weekday morning with family.

Scottish Oat Cakes

Scottish Oat Cakes (Printable Recipe)
Adapted from Vegetarian Times, February 2010
Makes 24
Ingredients:
2 cups old-fashioned oats
1/4 cup light brown sugar
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups oat flour, plus more for dusting work surface
1/4 cup non hydrogenated shortening or vegan margarine, cut into small pieces (I’m a bad Vegetarian Times reader who used lard…but it was oh so good!)
3/4 cup nonfat buttermilk
Directions:
Pre-heat the oven to 325°F with two racks set a few inches apart near the center of the oven. Line 2 baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, stir together the oats, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt. Place the oat flour in a separate large bowl. Add the small pieces of shortening, and rub it into the oat flour with your fingers until the mixture is crumbly. Add the dry oat mixture and buttermilk to the large bowl, stirring well to combine.
Dust work surface heavily with oat flour, then pat the dough to roughly 10- x 8-inch rectangle 1/4-inch thick. The dough will be quite sticky. Dust additional flour on top of the dough as needed to form a rectangle. Use a knife or a 1″ biscuit cutter to cut the dough into circles or triangles. With a spatula, gently transfer the oat cakes to the lined baking sheet. Pat out the remaining scraps into another 1/4″ thick rectangle, and repeat the process until all of the dough is cut. Bake the oat cakes for 20 to 25 minutes, or until they are a light brown. Let the cakes cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheets, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely. Serve with jam or honey.
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