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Month: February 2016

Lazy Day Citrus Smoothie

Lazy Day Citrus Smoothie

Given the back trouble this week, I wasn’t thrilled about the prospect of spending too much time in the kitchen.  I also seemed to have the salad aspect of the week covered in my tuna salad on endive leaves, so decided to do something with fruit instead of my normal entree/salad combo.  I had on hand a couple of bananas, along with a few Sumo  oranges, and a pomelo.  I also had Greek yogurt leftover from the tuna salad.  My back hurt, so I decided not to wrestle with the pomelo.

On a side note, I’m fascinated by all the citrus that shows up this time of year at our supermarket.  I think this may be the first year I’ve seen the Sumo orange, and I mistook it for a large mandarin orange.  I did a bit of research and found that it is actually a cross between a mandarin orange and a California navel orange and has only been sold in the US for the last three years or so.  It originated in Japan.  They are great because they are very easy to peel and have no seeds, though I don’t know if I fully trust a fruit that has its own Facebook page.  (Yes, I was tempted enough to like it and am now following a fruit on Facebook).  For that matter, pomelos are also interesting – as it turns out, they are likely the grandparents of the modern grapefruit, and not, as I’d always assumed, a hybrid fruit that involved grapefruit.

Lazy Day Smoothie

Lazy Day Citrus Smoothie
Makes 4 1/2 pint servings

1 banana
2 Sumo oranges
1/3 cup Greek yogurt
4 or 5 ice cubes

Mix all ingredients in a blender.  Add water or more ice as needed to make the smoothie smooth.

 

Tuna Salad with Preserved Lemon

Tuna Salad with Preserved Lemon

I spent yet another day not at my desk, but stretched out on the couch willing my lower back good health. I was glad to already have a lunch put together, particularly one that was this healthy and easy to assemble. I used plain Greek yogurt for this salad, as mayonnaise has an odd taste to me. I also used endive leaves as a vehicle for the salad, though you could definitely use lettuce, bread, or crackers. Endive is a strange little plant, requiring complicated steps to cultivate. I’ve traditionally steered away from it as it has a reputation for being both expensive and bitter, though I have to say that doesn’t seem to be the case. Two little endives at our strange local market were under $2, though a full pound would be close to $5. I can’t envision a scenario where I’d buy a pound of endive! It has a bit of a green bitter edge, but it was a good counterpoint to the preserved lemon.  And as promised, this is one of many recipes that will use up the preserved Meyer lemons from several weeks ago.

tuna saladplated_tuna_salad

Tuna Salad with Preserved Lemon
Serves 2 as a hearty lunch

1 can water packed tuna
2 small celery stalks
1 teaspoon finely chopped preserved lemon
1 teaspoon capers
¼ cup Greek yogurt

Endive or other means of serving

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly.

My Lunch – Week of February 7

My Lunch – Week of February 7

This week’s theme is the path of least resistance.  I threw out my back mid-week last week and spent three days, bored out of my mind, scanning Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.  I was finally able to move around a bit more today, so decided lunch needed to be very simple this week.  As promised, there is a preserved lemon recipe coming up this week.  This week also features Veggie Booty – my absolute favorite easy snack.  this week Feb 7

Front row, left to right: Valentine’s Day Granola, tuna salad with preserved lemons, and Veggie Booty

Back row, left to right: Endive leaves (for serving the tuna salad), yogurt with rhubarb cherry jam, and a Lazy Day Citrus Smoothie

Happy lunching!

Baked Chicken

Baked Chicken

This is one of my absolute favorite, easy go-to recipes. We often have this on a weekend night, as it is so easy to get the chicken prepped, through it in the oven, and then go off and do something else, like read a good book. I’m especially fond of the recipe, as it usually nets three or four meals, depending on what I do with the leftovers.

bakedchicken5

Baked Chicken

Serving size will depend on use – we typically get three meals out of a 15-pound chicken

1 whole chicken around 15 pounds, neck and giblets removed
1 small onion
4 garlic cloves, peeled
3 sprigs of rosemary
¼ cup olive oil
2 teaspoons coarsely ground salt
1 teaspoon ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Cut the onion in half. Put one half aside for now, and chop the other to a small dice. Chop two of the garlic cloves about as finely as the onion. Take the leaves off one sprig of rosemary and chop coarsely. Combine chopped onion, garlic, and rosemary in a small bowl and add olive oil, salt, and pepper. Stir. Set aside.

Slice the remaining onion into four large pieces. Place the whole chicken in a cast iron skillet or other large oven-safe pan. Gently loosen the skin on the chicken breast. Take the olive oil mixture and pour under the loosened skin, gently pushing so that it goes under as much of the skin as possible. Take the large chunks of onion, the remaining garlic cloves, and the remaining rosemary sprigs and use these to stuff the chicken’s cavity.bakedchicken2bakedchicken1

Bake the chicken for fifteen minutes at 425 degrees. Drop the oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake for 1 ½ hours to 2 hours, depending on the size of the chicken. The chicken is done when its internal temperature hits 185 degrees. In the last half hour or so, keep an eye on the chicken – if the skin is getting too crispy, drop the oven temperature to 325 to finish baking.

Throwback Thursday: February Edition

Throwback Thursday: February Edition

I am, resolutely, not a sports fan. I don’t get into, nor do I particularly understand, football, basketball, baseball, or soccer. I used to think I get my non-sports gene from my family: growing up, no one would admit to being concerned about who was playing whom or what the score was from the latest game.

Except that my mother and my grandmother followed our NFL football team, the Broncos, and my grandmother, for some reason, could actually tell you a bit about who the players were for our major league baseball team, the Rockies. So while no one would confess to being interested in sports, I recall hearing my mother cursing the TV late on Sunday afternoons when the Broncos were losing, which, it seems to me, they did a lot of when I was young.

This strange sports enthusiasm masquerading as ambivalence permeated my youth. I only became caught up in any sort of sports fervor when the Broncos made it to the Super Bowl twice in the 1980s, in 1987 and 1988. (Of course, they lost both years). Even in my youth, anything that involved celebratory fervor had to also involve food. I was eleven years old in 1987, so my cooking repertoire still involved using a lot of pre-packaged mixes. I was also a huge fan of food coloring – that lovely type that uses Red Dye #40 and comes in tiny tubes that turns food neon shades of red, blue, green, and yellow and can be mixed together to make orange. I also believed in experimentation with food. One of the single greatest gifts both my mother and grandmother gave me was that they never discouraged this experimentation – they just stepped back and let me have fun. I decided that, in honor of the Broncos making it to the Super Bowl, I’d make something that was blue and orange.

In 1987, I made blue and orange cupcakes. Recipe – one box of white cake mix, one container of white pre-made frosting, and plenty of blue, red, and yellow food dye. The cupcakes were plenty colorful – full on blue cupcake and blue frosting and then full on orange cupcake and orange frosting. My family ate these without protest, even if the blue cupcakes did look a bit, well, toxically blue. The Broncos lost. I was disappointed, even though I really didn’t care much about football. The loss just felt so communal and was probably my first real experience with fandom loss.

In 1988, I decided to step up my enthusiasm game. I’d been making a lot of boxed vanilla pudding that year. I don’t remember all the particulars, and my mother doesn’t want to remember, but I’m pretty sure I dyed half of the vanilla pudding orange and the other half blue and swirled them together artistically. I wish I had a picture – I’m pretty sure that when the blue and orange puddings actually mixed, they were a muddy swirl of brown. The Broncos lost again. The pudding became the perfect representation of that loss.

The Broncos made it to the Super Bowl again in 1990. By that time, I was fully into teenager-hood and didn’t care. I didn’t bother making anything that year and haven’t in any of the subsequent years that they’ve made it since, even though I think there were a few years that they might have actually won.

This Sunday, the Broncos will be playing in a Super Bowl, yet again. If they lose, my main consolation will be that they aren’t playing the Seahawks this year, because living in the PNW, in a state without a national team, the Seahawks are the chosen ones and it was a sad Monday a few years ago when the won decisively against the Broncos. I’ll be half-heartedly paying attention to the game via the Internet, peeking a look at the score occasionally, if I remember to. I’m so very, very tempted though to try a more sophisticated and updated recipe with blue and orange something – maybe using natural dyes or making little footballs out of mashed potatoes or making Marzipan Broncos or…or maybe not.

In the meantime, I’m sharing a photo of a blue and orange cocktail. I’ll admit that, as I was writing this post, I was wracking my brain to think of what I had in the pantry that was orange and blue, so I could post an appropriately themed photo. Orange is easy – I have mandarin oranges in the fridge. But blue? Except for blueberries and blue potatoes, I can’t think of a time when food turning blue is a good thing. Until I thought about the liquor shelf in the pantry and realized I have blue Curacao. This layered cocktail took the juice of one mandarin orange, about 1 ounce of Malibu rum and two ounces of blue Curacao. Win or lose, I’ll probably be drinking one of these on Sunday.Layered Cocktail

Carrot, Beet, and Picked Fennel Salad

Carrot, Beet, and Picked Fennel Salad

I started canning, in earnest, about three years ago.  I started out of a combination of nostalgia – when I was a teenager, my mom and I used to make pickles in the summer – but also out of an effort to take an advantage of and stay on top of the extraordinary abundance of produce that can be found in the PNW in the summer.

Of course, abundance in produce leads to abundance in canning, which leads to having many, many jars of pickled vegetables and many, many jars of chutney, jam, and preserves. It’s a vicious cycle, because by the time spring rolls around, I’m ready to start canning again, even if I haven’t completely depleted the already existing supply from the last season. Thus, come February, I’m frantically looking for and creating recipes that use up the canned goods.

This salad was born from that desperation.  I have a few cans of pickled fennel left and thought it might complement some thinly shaved carrots and beets.  I was, fortunately, right.  This isn’t exactly a recipe – but more some general advice about how to combine a few ingredients into a simple salad.

SaladSalad with pickled fennel

Carrot, Beet, and Pickled Fennel Salad

Thinly slice four or five carrots into strips about 2 inches long.  Thinly slice a large beet into similar sized strips.  Drain a jar of pickled fennel, reserving the pickling liquid.  Combine the beets, carrots, and pickled fennel in a bowl.  Combine 4 tablespoons of the reserved pickling liquid with 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a jar.  Place a tight lid on the jar and shake vigorously.  Combine the pickling liquid and olive oil mix with the vegetables.  Grind a bit of black pepper over the top and serve.

Samosa Style Twice-Baked Potatoes

Samosa Style Twice-Baked Potatoes

Sunday was one of those days. I overslept, turned over to look at the alarm clock when I heard the Daisy’s tags rattle and realized she was awake and on the move, and then wondered why the clock didn’t seem to be on. My initial impulse was to blame the dog – she still likes to shimmy under the bed and I thought she might have figured out how to unplug the alarm clock. But no such luck – the power was out. The power was out throughout the town: 2,000 some houses as it turned out. I’m not a functional human being without coffee, so we had to go out for breakfast and then we had to go without Internet and electricity for another three or so hours. It worked out fine, as it gave us plenty of time to take Daisy for a long walk and it gave me a good hour of time to do some

general cleaning. However, my well-laid cooking plans were significantly delayed so by the time the power came back on around 2:30 p.m., I was in no mood to actually cook.

stuffed potatoes and chutney

My original intention was to make baked samosas. Samosas are a heavenly blend of potato, carrot, celery, onion, peas, and spices wrapped in dough and usually deep-fried. By the time the afternoon came around, I didn’t want to bother with making a dough, so decided to improvise, bake my potatoes instead, and make a riff on samosas with twice-baked potatoes. I have to say that I think I like this better than what I’d planned to make. I did throw a bit of parmesan cheese on the top of these and crisped it under the broiler. Cheese + potatoes are just a natural combination for me. I think they would have been just fine without this, but I’m going into a chaotic week and needed a little extra food love at lunch. I also am using a bit of cherry chutney to spice these up. It’s that time of the year when I’m in a scramble to use up as much of the canned goods that I put up the previous summer to make way for whatever I’ll be putting up starting in the spring. If you happen to have a good chutney on hand, the potatoes are lovely with them, but it’s not essential.

Samosa mixStuffed potatoes

Samosa Style Twice-Baked Potatoes
Serves 4

2 baking potatoes, scrubbed
3 stalks celery, finely chopped
3 carrots, finely chopped
½ onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
½ cup frozen peas
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon whole mustard seeds
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon curry powder
½ teaspoon cumin
½ cup parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Scrub the potatoes thoroughly. Put the potatoes on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for an hour or until potatoes are soft. Once potatoes are cooked, set aside to cool.

In a cast iron or non-stick skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the onion, garlic, celery and carrots and cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are soft. Add the peas and cook until the peas are thawed. Add the mustard seeds, salt, ground ginger, curry powder and cumin and stir until all the vegetables are coated and put the spice and vegetable mix in a medium sized bowl.

Cut the potatoes in half and scoop out most of the potato. Leave a ¼ inch layer of potato in the skins to keep them stable for stuffing. Combine the potato with the vegetable mix in the bowl and combine. Stuff each potato skin with a portion of the vegetable and potato mix. Sprinkle the top of each stuffed potato with about an 1/8 cup of parmesan cheese. Put the potatoes back into the oven at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Switch the oven to broil and broil the potatoes for 5 minutes, until the tops are browned. Serve with chutney on the side.

My Lunch – Week of February 1st

My Lunch – Week of February 1st

Lunch - Week of Feb. 1

Lunch this week: the large dish in the middle is a samosa style twice-baked potato.  From left to right in the smaller dishes: yogurt with rhubarb cherry mint jam; cherry chutney (for the potato); trail mix with dark chocolate, dried cranberries, pecans, and banana chips; mulberry granola; and carrot, beet, and pickled fennel salad.  It’s going to be a lovely week for food!

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