Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A simple and refreshing fruit salad...

This is one of the simplest, most adaptable fruit salads out there. You can use whatever fruit is on hand or in season. With a smidgen of honey to sweeten the deal, even wary fruit eaters will go for a second helping. In this version I combine mint & lemon for a refreshing fruit salad but my grandmother used to always make this with just honey & LOTS of cinnamon. I couldn't get enough of it as a kid! Feel free to experiment with different citrus zests or spices. Let me know what you try!

Firsts I cut a handful of cherries in half....

Then I cubed a few cups of watermelon... (any type of melon tastes great in fruit salad & holds it's shape and texture well)

Next I grated the zest of one lemon...

I chopped up one apple...

And threw all the fruit, lemon zest, and 1/4 cup chopped mint into a bowl.

Remember that lemon we zested? Squeeze it over the fruit. This balances out the honey nicely, and keeps the apple from turning brown.

Mix everything together and drizzle over a few tablespoons of honey.

Now it's time to taste and add more honey if you want it sweeter (oh yeah, and throw in that banana you saw sitting on your counter looking lonely).

You could eat it right away, but I recommend letting it sit ~1 hour in the fridge to bring out some of the fruits juices and meld all the flavors together. It's best enjoyed the day it's made but will keep for another day or two.

Enjoy with brunch, as dessert, or anytime!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Mmmm...Peanut Sauce!

Who doesn't love peanut sauce? (You don't?! Okay, I'm not sure we can be friends anymore. Unless you have a peanut allergy. Then I forgive you.) That creamy, spicy, delicious sauce that you can put on virtually anything. Put a plate of tofu and vegetables in front of a meat-loving guy and he'll probably think you're crazy - put a plate of tofu and vegetables covered in peanut sauce and it's a whole different story. Of course you could also use the sauce over chicken or you know meat of any kind, but that's aside from the point!

So I'm sure many of you already have your own go-to peanut sauce recipe, but this is the one I turn to for a quick, healthy, and frankly just delicious dinner. Put on a pot of rice, stir fry some meat or vegetables and make this peanut sauce - you've got dinner.

First mince 4 garlic cloves, 1/4 cup red onion, and grate 2 tbsp ginger.

You can substitute regular onions, just saute them a little longer so they loose their bite. Or you can leave out the onions all together, just stir vigorously to keep the ginger & garlic from burning.

Tip: I peel and freeze chunks of fresh ginger that way I always have fresh ginger on hand plus it is remarkably easier to grate frozen ginger (trust me: try it!).

Heat 1 tbsp peanut oil (or vegetable oil) over medium heat. Add the minced onion, garlic, and grated ginger. Cook for 1-2 minutes while stirring occasionally to keep the garlic from burning.

Add 2 tbsp rice vinegar (or apple cider vinegar) and deglaze pan for 1 minute.

Add 1 tbsp soy sauce, 1/2 cup water, and 1 tbsp fish sauce (or extra soy sauce for vegetarians). Bring to a boil.

Add 1/3 cup peanut butter & whisk gently to combine. The peanut butter will gently melt into the sauce. A personal warning, if you get too excited whisking the peanut butter before its really melted into the sauce, you will end up with splatters all over your stove...not that I would do that on a regular basis or anything.

Now add hot sauce to taste. If the sauce is too thick, add more water to thin it out. Too thin? Add more peanut butter. You've got the hang of it now.

Now enjoy on top of something like this (with meat or tofu added). And pretend there is a nice plated after picture here.

Peanut Sauce

1 tbsp peanut oil (or vegetable oil)
1/4 cup minced red onion (optional)
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp grated ginger
2 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp fish sauce (or extra soy sauce for vegetarians)
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup peanut butter
Hot chili sauce (Sriracha, etc.), to taste

Heat oil in saucepan over medium heat. Add red onion, garlic, and ginger. Cook for 1-2 minutes while stirring (to avoid burning the garlic) until onion is softened. Add rice vinegar & deglaze the pan for 1 minute. Add soy sauce, fish sauce, and water. Bring to a boil. Add peanut butter & whisk gently to combine. Add hot chili sauce to taste (I usually add ~1 tbsp). If the sauce is to thick it can be thinned with additional water at this point. Serve over stir fry or soba noodles.

Mmmmm mmmm!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Roasted Red Pepper Enchiladas

I've moved my blog over to To visit this post on my new blog click here.

Today's recipe is another quick fix meal that I turn to quite frequently. These enchiladas are really all about the sauce. I give you a suggestion for the filling, but really, you can use just about anything you like. You can make them vegetarian using black beans, vegetables, & cheese or you can use up just about any leftover meat you have (or cook up some ground beef with some corn mixed in). Feel free to be adventurous! But whatever you do, try this sauce!!

The secret?

All you need are these two ingredients...

Just mix these two together (1 quart roasted red pepper soup with 1-4oz can diced green chilis). If you're doing it for a crowd that likes spicy food, go ahead and use two cans per 1 quart soup. Feel free to use any boxed (or leftover homemade) roasted red pepper soup. They add a subtle sweetness that you don't really notice but really makes these fusion enchiladas shine. Trust me.

This is a great enchilada sauce for kids, too (even picky ones like it!). If you use a "mild diced green chilis" can it won't be at all spicy (they just add a nice flavor) but you could use 1/2 a can if you're worried.

So onto the enchilada making!

(Preheat oven to 400 F. ) As I mentioned before, you can really use any filling, but I heated up leftover stir fried shredded cabbage (with just cumin & salt) and 1-12.5oz can "chunk white chicken." Somehow canned chicken just tastes right in enchiladas. Call me weird - just don't knock it 'til you try it (hey this is supposed to be a fast meal, right?) If you have leftover cooked chicken, that would be delicious shredded in the filling.

Now while you're at it, heat up the roasted red pepper soup (microwave or stovetop). Mix in the can of green chilis.

Wasn't that easy? Now you're ready to assemble. Just spoon some filling into a tortilla and roll it up.

Layer a little sauce in a 9x13 pan (I used a smaller square pan because I was making just enough for two). Put in the rolled tortillas side by side (usually 6-8 rolled tortillas fit in a 9x13 pan).

Now start pouring the rest of that delicious sauce over all the tortillas. (Since I did this in a smaller square pan, I just used 1/2 of the sauce, but don't be afraid to drench the tortillas)

Sprinkle over some grated cheese. I used cheddar, but mozzarella, gouda, or queso fresco would be delicious!

Now just bake in the oven for about 10 minutes or until cheese is melted (now do you see why we heated up all the ingredients beforehand?). If you forgot to heat up the ingredients (or didn't feel like it) you can put in the oven at 350 for about 25 minutes or until bubbling & cheese is melted.



1 quart Roasted Red Pepper Soup
1-4oz can Diced Green Chilis

(your choice!)
2 12-oz cans chicken
3 cups stir fried cabbage w/ cumin & salt

6-8 large tortillas

1 cup shredded cheese

Heat up soup & mix with diced green chilis.
Heat up filling. Spoon filling into tortillas. Place filled tortillas in 9x13 baking dish. Pour over soup. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake for 10 minutes at 400 F or until cheese is melted. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Greek Salad

Greetings! I apologize about the lack of blog posts this past week. I'm one day away from being done with finals and its safe to say that I am VERY excited. When it comes to studying organic chemistry or cooking, well I'll just say you can probably guess which I'd rather be doing. The good news for all my readers, however, is that it will soon be summer and therefore I should have more time to update!

Onto today's recipe: Greek Salad. I love ordering the Greek Salad at Pegasus Pizza over on Alki. They have great pizza but in fact, I may go there almost entirely for the salad. It's that good. Thus, last time I was at Pegasus Pizza I tried to pay very close attention to the ingredients so that I could recreate it at home. Suffice to say I think this came pretty close! Overall this dish comes together pretty quickly & definitely hits the spot on a hot summer day when you don't feel like heating up the kitchen. Enjoy!

Let's start with the dressing (this can be done ahead of time & kept in the fridge for up to 5 days or so). Add 3 oz feta, 3 tbsp olive oil, 1/4 cup buttermilk (or yogurt or sour cream), 1 tbsp mayonnaise, 2 tbsp lemon juice (or white wine vinegar...or the vinegar that the peperoncini jar!) and a pinch of sugar into a food processor.

Now just give it a whirl! If it's too thick, thin it out with a little more buttermilk.

Now add a healthy dose of freshly ground black pepper. If desired, you can also add 1 tsp of dried dill & a little salt.

Now taste it! Does is need anything? Feel free to tinker around with it at this point. Once you've tinkered to your heart's content, you can set it aside & prepare all the other salad ingredients.

Now chop up 1/2 green bell pepper and 1/4 red onion VERY THINLY. As in, go get your microplane thin. Or practice your knife skills. Just promise me you won't cut yourself.

You want the onion and bell pepper to almost wilt into the lettuce. It will make all the flavors meld together and be easier to eat.

Oops, I almost forgot! Cut up 1/2 cucumber however you like. I chose large chunks. If you like you can also cut up some tomatoes. I didn't have any. I didn't miss them.

Now, go get a big bowl and fill it up with chopped lettuce. I used about 1/2 a head of iceberg lettuce (somehow iceberg lettuce just belongs in a greek salad) and then a couple handfuls of other lettuce varieties for good measure. Now top it with all those impressive thinly chopped vegetables. Add a small can of chopped olives (or kalamata olives if you want to get fancy!) and the equivelant of 5 chopped peperoncinis (or more!).

The peperoncinis really make this salad sing. (Betcha didn't know a salad could sing.) Plus they make a pretty garnish.

Continuing on the theme of toppings, add 3 oz crumbled feta cheese and 1/4 cup sunflower seeds (mine were salted). (you can also add croutons if you feel so inclined)

Now remember that dressing we made? Yep. Pour it all on!

Now just mix it all together & serve. It tastes really good next to a slice of gourmet pizza if you ask me. Or by itself.

Here's the recipe again.....

3 oz feta
3 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 tbsp mayonnaise
2 tbsp lemon juice (or vinegar)
pinch of sugar
freshly ground pepper
1 tsp dried dill (or 1 tbsp fresh)
salt, to taste

Whirl everything together in a food processor. Adjust to taste & thin with more buttermilk if necessary.

Dressing, see above
1/2 large head iceberg lettuce, chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, VERY THINLY sliced
1/4 red onion, VERY THINLY sliced
1/2 cucumber, chopped
1 small can chopped olives
6 chopped peperoncinis
3 oz crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
croutons, optional

Mix everything together & serve!

(to make it a more substantial meal by itself, you can add some thinly sliced salami)

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Swedish Pancakes (pannkakor)

There is nothing more comforting than Swedish Pancakes. Breakfast? Lunch? Dinner? I'll eat them anytime. These were one of my favorite meals growing up and I practice little restraint when it comes to them.

So what's the difference between Swedish Pancakes and crepes? While the two are often considered interchangeable, I consider a crepe to be just a touch thinner and taste more "eggy." Also, growing up my mother always used half whole-wheat flour in the Swedish Pancakes which gives them a more robust slightly nutty flavor. Without that whole-wheat flour they taste just a little flat to me - but that's a personal thing. If you're looking more for a traditional Swedish Pancake feel free to just use all-purpose flour.

So if you've got a skillet and some milk, eggs, and flour (& a little butter) in your kitchen - you're set. So why not break out of that breakfast rut and try these next weekend?

Start by cracking two eggs into a large bowl & whisk them together.

Add 1.5 dl whole-wheat flour and 1.5 dl all-purpose (white) flour. If you're using US measurements, that's a heaping half cup of each type of flour. You can go ahead and use all white flour if you'd prefer.

Add 6 dl of milk (2.5 cups). Now whisk it all together. You don't need to worry about getting every little lump out. If you're a perfectionist, you could use a blender. I don't.

Now heat up a non-stick (or really well seasoned cast iron) over medium heat. Add a pat of butter and swirl to coat the pan. Don't skip this step between pancakes. While they won't stick to the nonstick pan, they won't get that beautiful lacey appearance that you're going for.

Add 1 dl (~1/2 cup) of batter to the pan and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan. Do this fairly quickly as the pancake will begin to cook almost immediately.

Don't worry if you don't get it right the first time, you've got plenty of batter. Plus, sometimes the first few pancakes don't look as perfect because the pan isn't quite hot enough yet. It's okay - people will still be fighting over who gets to eat them.

Let the pancake cook for a minute or so until you can feasibly flip it over with a spatula and they look a lovely speckled brown. They only need to cook for about 30 seconds on this second side. Then I just fold them in half and in half again and stick them in a warming bowl within easy reach of the stove (or onto your hungry friends plates). Repeat with the remaining pancakes. This might take about 20 minutes or so to go through the whole bowl of batter. If you're talented and up for the challenge, you can get two pans going at once to speed up the process.

There are endless toppings you could put on your Swedish Pancakes but I usually go for jam (and whipped cream, if I'm going all out).

Today I tried whipping cream with a fork while making the pancakes. How is it that I always forget how long that takes to whip by hand? Sigh. We decided to use the half-whipped yet still pourable cream because we were too hungry to wait any longer. It was delicious!

Now just fold up your pancake and you're ready to eat! Other favorite toppings include: butter & sugar, lemon juice & powdered sugar, and of course nutella. These Swedish pancakes also work particularly well with savory fillings (creamed spinach or mushrooms, etc.).

Sit back. Relax. And Enjoy!

This makes about 10 pancakes (I forgot to keep count) and serves roughly 3 hungry adults.

Here are those ingredients again:
2 eggs
1.5 dl (heaping 1/2 cup) all-purpose flour
1.5 dl whole wheat flour
(or more all-purpose)
6 dl (2.5 cups) milk

Mix it all together. Heat up buttered skillet. Add 1 dl (1/2 cup) batter to pan and swirl to coat. Cook for 1 minute. Flip. Cook for 30 seconds. Repeat with remaining batter (buttering skillet in between each pancake). Serve with desired toppings.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Clam and Herb Spaghetti

I love tinkering with recipes. I try and force myself to follow a recipe the first time around but rarely, I must admit, do I stick to my intent. The lure of the spices beckoning from the shelf over in the corner always seem to win me over. It's just too gosh darn fun to tinker with recipes.

This, however, this is one of those recipes. Those recipes that you can turn to in a crunch - whether its company dropping in unexpectedly or when you suddenly find out you're out of ground beef when you were planning on making hamburgers. This recipe is time-tested & fool proof. Just. The. Way. It. Is. Even I refrain from tinkering (okay, lets be honest...I don't tinker too much!) with this recipe. It's made of ingredients I always keep on hand (once you try it, you too will stock up cans of minced clams & the rest you probably already have) and the whole thing is ready in less than 1/2 an hour (chopping included!).

This recipe is perfect for those warm summer days where you want a satisfying meal but one that doesn't feel so "heavy." This serves up a hefty dose of olive oil and clams. It's one of those recipes I turn to when I have something important the next day (be it a race or a test) and I want something that will taste great and give me lots of "feel-good energy" for lack of a better term!

Start out by finely dicing (the finer the better!) 1 large onion & 3 cloves garlic. This is one of those recipes you can pull out your food processor for if you don't mind cleaning it out later.

While you're at it, you might as well finely chop 1 cup parsley*.

*I never seem to go through parsley and it inevitably sits there looking sad in a near-wilted state. At that point, (if I remember!) I finely chop it and throw it in a ziploc and into the freezer. It works perfect for dishes like this where you slightly cook it - you can just throw the already chopped frozen parsley in and voila! it works just like fresh and you didn't waste anything.

Now heat a skillet over medium high heat. Add 1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil (about 250 ml). Once that begins to warm up, add your chopped onion & 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (or 1 chopped dried red chili). You won't really notice the heat, it merely adds a pleasant warmth in the background of the dish. Let cook 3 minutes. Add your 3 chopped garlic cloves.

(Don't forget to start cooking the spaghetti at this point!)

Add chopped garlic, 1 tbsp dried basil, 1 tbsp dried oregano, salt & freshly ground black pepper, and the broth from both cans of minced clams (reserve the clams). Simmer until reduced slightly (-10 minutes, depending on how hot your stove is and how thin you like your sauce - don't forget it will still thicken a little more later!).

Add that 1 cup chopped parsley and the reserved minced clams. You're almost done! Let simmer for about 5 minutes to heat up the clams and slightly wilt the parsley. Don't forget to check on that spaghetti you have boiling!

Now grate a good mound of fresh parmesan cheese for serving. Don't skimp! By this time, your noodles should be cooked, the sauce is ready to go, and everyone is drifting into the kitchen because of the delicious smells. Enjoy!

Clam Spaghetti
Serves 4

1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (or 1 dried red chili, chopped)
1 large onion, finely minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp dried basil
1 tbsp dried oregano
Salt* & pepper
2 (6.5-oz) cans minced clams **
1 cup chopped parsley

Cooked spaghetti (I usually do about 1 lb dried spaghetti)
Fresh parmesan cheese, grated (for serving)

Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add chopped onion & red chili flakes. Stir and let cook for 3 minutes. Add minced garlic, basil, oregano, salt & pepper, and the broth from the minced clams (reserve the clams). Let simmer until reduced (~10 minutes). Add the chopped clams and chopped parsley. Let simmer for 5 minutes.

Serve over cooked spaghetti noodles and top with a healthy dose of freshly grated parmesan cheese.

* I usually use 1/4 teaspoon salt or less because the broth from the clams is salty and is topped with the slightly salty parmesan cheese.

**If you want to get fancy and you have access to fresh clams, you could steam the clams seperately and use 1 cup bottled clam juice (yes, they actually sell that) in the recipe. Just add the clams in at the very end right before serving. Tres elegante!