Monday, April 30, 2012

Weekly Menu: April 29-May 5

Wow! I can't believe I'm planning a menu for the end of April/first week of May!
In planning this week's menu, I went to our binder of favorite recipes. We keep it organized by type of dish (vegetarian, soup, desert, etc.) and protect the recipes torn from magazines or printed from the internet in plastic sheet protectors.  

I'm not that great at keeping this updated as far as removing recipes we no longer consider favorites, or adding new favorites ones that have made it onto our table countless times (black bean and sweet potato burrito anyone?) but it's on my perpetual to-do list.  Regardless, this book is a great place to look when I just don't know what to make this week. It always inspires me.

This week's menu includes two dishes that are designed for leftovers. Things are getting hectic as the end of my semester at school draws near (two weeks!!) 

Ryan's Pick of the week:  Ryan's chili

Awesome veggie lasagna (I think this was adapted from the back of the Creamette pasta box-- regardless of origin, the recipe follows)

Real Simple ravioli with apples and walnuts

Veggie quinoa bowl: there was an array of produce on my grocery list... I will let you know what makes it into the bowl this week! 

Friday night:  We are planning on dinner out at Proof!

Also, I borrowed my mom's juicer... adventures to follow.

Awesome Veggie Lasagna


cheese mixture:
15 oz. ricotta
2 C shredded mozzarella
1/2 C shredded parmesan
1/2 lb. frozen spinach (this is what I believe makes this veggie lasagna go from great to awesome)
salt and pepper

veggies (I encourage you to mix, match and get creative with this mix!):
1/2 C green pepper, diced
1/2 C onion, diced
1/2 zucchini, sliced in small rounds
1/2-1 C frozen corn

1/2 box of whole wheat lasagna noodles
26 ounces of your favorite tomato sauce

thaw the spinach by placing in the fridge a few hours prior or for a few minutes in the microwave.
preheat oven to 375.
bring water to a boil for lasagna noodles, cook according to package directions.
meanwhile, assemble cheese mixture in a bowl and prep veggies. mix your vegetables in a separate bowl from the cheese and prepare for assembling the lasagna!
when noodles are done, in a 9x13 pan, spread a layer of sauce, then noodles, cheese and vegetables.  repeat until ingredients are gone!
cover with foil and bake for 30-50 minutes.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

A Frittata Idea

I make frittatas very often and don't share my recipes often enough! Here's what I made last night...

Remember the half bunch of asparagus I put in my veggie quinoa bowl?  The rest found its way into this delicious Friday night frittata. In fact, it was the star.  Sometimes I like to load the egg dish with veggies, but not this time.  Here's the run down.


6 eggs
1/2 bunch of asparagus cut into 1-2 inch pieces
1-2 Tbsp goat cheese
olive oil
salt and pepper

preheat oven to 400.
whisk 6 eggs, add salt and pepper.
coat oven proof pan with olive oil, paying attention to the sides, I usually use spray oil.
heat olive oil in pan on the stove.
pour eggs into hot pan.
add asparagus, spreading it all around the pan.
add small chunks of goat cheese throughout.
by this time, the egg should begin to set. 
place the entire dish into the oven for about 20 minutes.

Roasted Yukon gold potatoes and a simple spinach salad made this a nice Friday night meal after a long week.

To make the side dish: Cut 8-10 Yukon golds into bite sized pieces.  Toss with olive oil, salt, pepper, and paprika.  Put in the oven, 10 minutes before you begin prepping the frittata.  Stir a few times. They should be done by the time the frittata is brown around the edges.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Three recipe ideas for Barley

I've been cruising on whole grains all week; barley, millet, oats and quinoa (thanks for your previous quinoa post!). The feature grain of my spring pantry is a big jar of pearled barley. Here are three favorite ways I made it this week.

Breakfast Cream of Barley

This is a hot cereal recipe for one serving. Double or triple for a crowd.

1/3 cup pearled barley
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup milk of choice (I prefer rice milk, but could also use almond, soy or dairy here)
plus extra milk for blending
a sprinkle of sweet spices (your choice, any combo cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, nutmeg, cloves)
a small handful of dried fruit, soaked in hot water 10 minutes (raisins, or cranberries, or tart cherries)
maple syrup, to taste

Rinse the barley in a sieve under cold water. Combine barley, 1/2 cup water and 3/4 cup milk in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, turn down the heat, cover partially and let barley simmer until soft 20 to 25 minutes for pearled barley (double the time for hulled barley). Puree the cooked barley with your handstick blender or a regular blender (keep the lid open just a tad for blending hot liquids) adding extra milk to achieve an easy-blending consistency (texture should be similar to cream of wheat). Stir in your soaked fruit, and top with maple syrup.


The following two recipes are inspired by the Eating Wisely piece on whole grains in the March Yoga Journal.

Cranberry Herb Barley Salad

1 cup pearled barley
3 cups water
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup chopped chives
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Rinse the barley in a sieve under cold water. Place in a medium pot with the water. Bring to a boil, then simmer on low heat 20- 25 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk together in a medium bowl the olive oil, vinegar, cranberries, chives and parsley. Drain any excess liquid from the cooked barley, fluff with a fork and stir into the cranberry mixture.

Barley Bowl with Asparagus
Note: the original recipe is a soup, called for 6 cups of veggie broth. I prefer this dish thicker, like a rice bowl. Feel free to adjust the broth addition to our preference, more broth to make it more like a soup.

1 cup pearled barley
3 cups water
Sea salt
2 cups veggie broth
1/2 a bunch of asparagus, trimmed and cut on the diagonal in 1/2 inch pieces
freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup miso paste
chopped fresh parsley

Rinse barley under cold water. Place in a medium pot with 3 cups water and a pinch of sea salt. Boil for  20 to 25 minutes (twice as long if you are using hulled barley). When barley is cooked through, add the veggie broth to the pot, and spread the asparagus on top. Cover with a lid, bring it all to a boil again and cook long enough for the asparagus to steam and turn a bright green. Remove from heat. Dissolve the miso paste in a bit of warm water, and stir into the pot with the barley and asparagus. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with fresh chopped parsley.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Veggie Quinoa Bowl in 30 Minutes or Less

Here is a very quick, delicious dinner you can prep after a long day of work!  Here's what I did.

1 1/2 cup vegetable broth
2/3 cup quinoa, rinsed
1/2 can chickpeas, drained
1 red bell pepper, sliced lengthwise
1/4-1/2 red onion, sliced
1/2 bunch of asparagus, stalks broken into thirds
3 handfuls washed spinach
olive oil
salt and pepper

Bring veggie broth to a boil.  Add quinoa and set stove to medium-low heat.  Cover. 

Wash and prep veggies. Wait until quinoa has about 5-7 minutes left to cook (quinoa usually takes about 15-20 minutes, and at the 5 minute mark most of the liquid should be gone, if you still have a lot of liquid remaining, turn up the heat, just be careful not to burn it.).

Heat olive oil in a sautee pan on high, add peppers, onions and asparagus.  Cook for about 5 minutes.  Add spinach in the last minute and cook until wilted.  Add chickpeas.  Turn heat off.
By this time, the quinoa should be done.  If all the liquid is not yet gone, drain the quinoa if you don't like it brothy.  Transfer your vegetables to a bowl and mix in the quinoa.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Cocoa Coconut Haystacks

Here's a quick share of a little goodie I found online awhile back at the Sprouted Kitchen. These little goodies are vegan, dairy and sugar free and so good!

Remember our love of coconut haystacks! This is a the best homemade recipe I've tasted.

You can find the full recipe, as well as Sprouted Kitchen's beauuuuuutiful food photography here.

Here's my own take on making these cocoa coconut goodies.

Cocoa Coconut Haystacks (adapted from Sprouted Kitchen)

This is my ingredient list for a half batch (makes 12). Full batch recipe here.

3/4 cup dried, unsweetened coconut
1/4 cup cocoa powder
3 Tbsp rolled oats
3 Tbsp maple syrup (I use a little less sweetener than the SK recipe)
2 Tbsp coconut oil
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
a dash of cinnamon

Preheat oven to 215F. Mix the dry ingredients, then stir in the syrup, oil and vanilla extract. Use a melon baller to scoop out to form 12 balls approx 1-inch diameter and space evenly on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes on middle rack. For a raw treat you can skip the baking step and keep the cocoa coconut balls in the fridge.

Delish with a mug of chai. Hope you are having a good week, my friend. xxCara

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

I made your lunch: creamy pea soup

I took a few minutes Monday afternoon to make some lunch.  I used Cara's recipe for a healthy pea soup with creamy avocado instead of actual cream.  I didn't miss the cream at all!  I thought the avocado taste (which I like, don't get me wrong) might be overpowering and it would make the soup too thick. I was wrong on both accounts!  What a delicious simple soup.  I topped it with some of that cilantro, pumpkin seed and lime pesto as those flavors go very well with avocado.  I only made a half recipe and look forward to making it again tomorrow with the other half of the avocado that is tightly wrapped in plastic, just hanging out in the fridge. 

Monday, April 23, 2012

Weekly Menu April 22-28

Some spring vegetables are starting to creep into the menu!!

quinoa with carrots, asparagus and spinach

frittata with asparagus and goat cheese

stacked enchilada
(it appears that this recipe is only available online now to subscribers of Taste of Home ) this dish has appeared here a few times now and is proving to be an easy to prep, tasty dish. I look forward to adding some things to make it better... but not this week.

pasta with the leftover cilantro pesto from Sunday and a salad

roasted chicken, red pepper and mozzarella panini with salad
    note:  I bought a rotisserie chicken to use in lunches and salads this week, and will use some for this sandwich.   I have been doing this a lot lately and decided that one of my "as soon as this semester is over" cooking projects will be to roast a chicken on my own!  It's about time I learn some new kitchen skills, and I need to find out if it's a lot cheaper and tastier than buying an already cooked rotisserie chicken at the grocery store for $6.99. 

I am also hoping to try one of Cara's healthy Spring recipes for lunch... the creamy pea soup with avocado!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Sunday Night Dinner

Baked salmon with cilantro, pumpkin seed (aka pepitas), and lime pesto (recipe found here)

with baked yukon gold potatoes:
     take about 1/2 pound yukon golds, wash and dry, then toss with olive oil, chopped garlic, salt and pepper.  roast at 400 for about 40 minutes.  

Now I have some leftover roasted pumpkin seeds (found them in the bulk bins at Hy Vee) to snack on this week as well as leftover pesto. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

spring cleaning

Hello Kitchen Table Friends! I'm been away for a bit, blogging over on the Bliss Journal about my Spring  cleanse. I'm just wrapping it up and thought I'd share with you a few clean and simple spring recipes that I've enjoyed this week.

If you want to learn more about what sort of "cleaning" happens in my spring cleanse, read this post: Six Tips for Spring Cleansing.

Ginger Banana Breakfast Shake

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A gal and her kitchen knife.

I love chopping things.  Today I prepped some peppers for tomorrow's crock pot dinner.  Just a few minutes of prep work will save some time tomorrow morning...  Chopping veggies helps me think about other things, or nothing at all. 

2 peppers and my hand me down knife

My knife is my most essential kitchen  tool.  Sometimes I travel with it if I know I'm going to be doing some cooking at a friend or relative's house.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Weekly Menu: April 15-21

I'm a bit behind on my regularly scheduled grocery list compiling and shopping.  Sunday the power was out all day due to a huge rain/wind storm.  Trees and power lines were down all over my neighborhood.  I just made my list and hope to get to the store tonight or tomorrow between classes.

Believe it or not, it's a busy week again in Des Moines.  I have three weeks left in my school semester, Ryan has a log going on this week and I'm working with my family to prepare for Grandma's 90th birthday party on Saturday.   This has forced me not only to plan dinners for the week but to plan which days these easy dinners will be made...

I just made the curried chickpea salad from Mark Bittman to eat for dinner tonight. UPDATE! I just ate it  and it was great!  Easy to make too.  I can envision many variations on this salad (tuna salad anyone?) as the coconut milk is a substitute for the oft used mayo that is found in many salads...

Tuesdsay: Leftover kale pesto with pasta.  I think I'll add tomatoes this time...

Wednesday: crock pot pork stew peperonata from Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker. This was a wedding present but I haven't ever made a recipe from it... her goes! 

Thursday: black bean burritos with brown rice and cheese

Friday: leftovers or frozen pizza

Have a great week everyone!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Dinner tonight: Cara's kale and walnut pesto

 kale and my beloved food processor 

 kale, garlic and walnuts. i like how you can still get a sense of the texture.

it looks a lot different with the olive oil and lemon juice.


Dinner.  Kale with veggie pasta and a salad!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Easter Brunch

We had a little brunch at our house Easter morning before riding our bikes over to the park where we shivered with some friends and beckoned the sun to come out. It did not.

I looked all over for rhubarb this weekend, but none was to be had. Maybe its too early here? I wish I had a little rhubarb patch out back of my 6 unit apartment building. I wonder what the neighbors would say :)

So I gave up on the rhubarb treat and made blueberry muffins instead. I also made an overnight french toast and overdid my asparagus (oops!). But the saver of the day was my friend Beth who appeared at the door with the most amazing mini-quiches ever and what was the most adorable baby lamb cake I have ever seen.

This white cake was sweetened with applesauce, filled with buttercream frosting and topped with coconut. Beth baked the cake in a lamb shaped cake mold from her grandmother. The lamb cake was one of her easter traditions growing up, and she brought one to share with us. This lamb was almost too cute to eat!

Beth made these tarragon topped mini-quiches using wonton wrappers instead of pastry, shaped in muffin tins and filled with egg, milk, cheese and bacon. They were wonderful, and so pretty!

Here's our little spread, fresh picked spring flowers while the lamb looks over the french toast :)

Weekly Menu April 8-14

Whew! I just returned from a stock the pantry grocery trip.  I thought the store would be quiet on Easter morning, but I was wrong.  I had run out of several pantry items so had a lot to bring home (cans of beans, tomato products, walnuts... ).  Now all is back in order.  Here's the weekly menu.  That just happens to be all vegetarian.  Bon Appetit!

Cara's kale and walnut pesto that was recently included on Food Gawker and saw a huge spike in views last week.  Have to try this one out!!

The ever delicious black bean and sweet potato burrito.  Still not tired of this gem, also from Cara.  Have you tried this yet? Do. It. Now!

New recipe from Mark Bittman's blog: curried chickpea salad... with pita bread for a light and easy dinner.

New recipe from Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker...  creamy tomato soup with Israeli couscous this will probably be paired with a grilled mozzarella sandwich.  MM!

Homemade pizza.  Gotta use that second Bon Appetit no-knead crust.  Toppings: fresh mozzarella, basil and red peppers. I kind of want to eat that right now!!

Have a great week.  What's for dinner where you live?


Saturday, April 7, 2012

Stormy Saturday Morning

I have a lot of homework to do this weekend. So I'm taking this gloomy Saturday morning to lounge around before errands and reading dominate my day.  I don't have real weekend cooking plans, but a few weekly menu meals got pushed out of the week due to busy schedules and an unexpected dinner invitation so I have the soup and the pasta left to make. 

However, last night, I had a flash of inspiration to make scones.  I didn't know it was going to be a gloomy morning, but now, as it rains and thunders, and I catch up on internet browsing (Food Gawker, Pinterest, Facebook, Bon, etc.) they are perfect.  Especially with some homemade strawberry jam and lots of coffee.

My Chia frog, who is trying to grow his seeds, looks a little jealous.

This make the dough ahead trick comes from my dear Kitchen Table Friend, Cara.  One Saturday morning, when I was visiting her in Denver Colorado, she magically produced warm scones (I believe they were lemon and currant!) out of the oven.  When did you make those? I asked, delighted.  She had prepared the dough the night before for a warm, morning breakfast surprise.  Yum.  Cara makes the best scones. 

I am improving, by practicing when the mood strikes, the Joy of Cooking recipe for classic scones with dried cranberries. I leisurely made the recipe last night and stored the dough in the fridge.  Then this morning when I woke up, as the coffee was brewing, I preheated the oven to 450, brushed the top with egg, and 20 minutes later, voila! Breakfast. 

My husband just popped in from working on something in the garage to get one and said "yuuuum!"  so I think I've done a good job this time around. 

Now, as I finish writing this, it seems the rain is clearing up... so that means I should probably get to work!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Gingery Cranberry Breakfast Quinoa

Its spring and while I love hot cereal for breakfast in the morning, I'm so over the same old oatmeal I've been eating all winter long. This morning I switched it up with quinoa with cranberries, spiked with crystallized ginger. It was so nice I thought I'd share it with you.

 Ginger Cranberry Breakfast Quinoa

1 cup red quinoa, rinsed
2 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup crystalized ginger, chopped
1/3 cup dried cranberries
honey, to taste
splash of milk of your choice (almond, soy, rice or dairy)

Bring quinoa and water to a boil. Add ginger and cranberries, lower heat and cover with a lid. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes, until quinoa is soft and 'splits' open. Serve with a splash of milk (I love it with almond milk) and a drizzle of honey.

Do you have any Easter plans? I'll be spreading my kitchen table with some of my favorite spring foods, rhubarb and asparagus. What are you cooking up for the weekend?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Almond and Apricot Thumbprint Cookies

Here's a little goodie I made last week for the Fun-A-Day Boston opening show at the Aviary Gallery. These cookies are chock full of one of my favorite foods: Almonds!

This recipe calls for almond butter, and last week I had tried my hand at making my own homemade almond butter. I love the stuff, and it can be a bit pricey in store. I ground up the almonds in my food processor. It took about 15 minutes and while the almond butter turned out well, my food processor wasn't very happy with me. By the time the almonds had turned to butter, the machine was smelling a bit overdone and I was sensing imminent mechanical failure. Perhaps an industrial rated food processor would handle this better. Not sure if I'll try it again on my own (my food processor is one of my favorite kitchen tools). So for this recipe you can try making your own following this perfect tutorial from a cozy kitchen, or just buy your own (I find Trader Joe's has the cheapest store-bought almond butter).

And now to the cookies! This is a Martha Stewart recipe, I've made it several times. Click here to find the full recipe. I follow it to the "t" with perfect results every time.

Voila! They were a hit at the art show. Check out our spread...

A little note about this 2-tiered dessert stand: I picked it up at Laura Ashley in the UK while I was in Wales for grad school. Its one of my favorite things, I use it to display desserts or just as a spring and summer fruit basket at home. The whole thing comes apart and packs flat for easy transport. Love it!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Carrot Cake Pancakes

Cara, I think you're going to like this one. It's about breakfast between friends!

One of the perks of bring in grad school and working irregular hours,  is that I can have friends come over for breakfast before an afternoon class.  Today Aimee rode her bike over so we could make carrot cake pancakes !  What a treat to have a friend over to start the week! I love meeting friends for coffee at Des Moines' wonderful local coffee shops, however, for me there are times when having a friend over so you can cook together cannot be beat.  Especially when that friend is a fellow food enthusiast.  When planning our breakfast, Aimee wrote in an e mail "Do we think about food too much?"  To which I responded,  "Yes and there's nothing wrong with that!" 

We followed the recipe, almost exactly but instead used vanilla almond milk (rather thank plain) and substituted canola oil for a delicious walnut oil.  These pancakes (which happen to be vegan, if you're into that kind of thing) had a spicy, nutty flavor.  They were light and fluffy (perhaps due to a pleasant bubbling that occurred upon adding the wet ingredients to the dry) and not too sweet. 

I do not love carrot cake, the cake version. It's often too dense and too sweet and the cream cheese frosting that is usually on top is just over kill in my opinion (recall... I don't like frosting very much, period.) This was a nice substitute. So, if you're ever thinking of making me a carrot cake, just make me carrot pan-cakes instead. 

Monday, April 2, 2012

Weekly Menu: The first week of April

In my planning for this week's menu, I looked back on past weekly menu posts.  Sharing my love of food was one reason to make this blog, an added bonus outcome has been an archive of what I've been eating! While it's turning to Spring and has been unseasonably warm, I'm having a difficult time transitioning to Spring time foods. It's just too early for the spring vegetable dishes that keep popping up in my food magazines.  Farmers' markets aren't even open yet, but when they do, perhaps we'll see a dramatic change.  Enjoy!

stacked enchilada from Taste of Home

frittata with leeks, potatoes, cheese (feta, parmesan, or goat: whatever strikes me at the moment, tomatoes, and rosemary.

shell pasta with veggie sausage, mushrooms and tomatoes. 

Indian corn soup with chicken

roasted salmon with rosemary and garlic green beans