Friday, December 17, 2010

Prolotherapy


Thanksgiving week was my designated rest week. And by “rest” I mean no training and lots of time to sleep in, catch up on things I’ve neglected while training and, in the words of the great KP, “FUCKING EMBRACE [the laziness].” It seemed like a perfect time for prolotherapy.

I don’t expect you to know what that is—I first heard of it a couple months ago—and that’s why I’m writing this post.

“Prolotherapy is a treatment that stimulates the body to repair painful areas. Specifically it involves the injection of natural substances into painful areas to stimulate the body’s own repair mechanisms to strengthen and heal injured structures. Mostly, Prolotherapy is used to strengthen ligaments and tendons.”
                                                -Journal of Prolotherapy

If you read my Pumpkinman race report, you know I dealt with some serious pain in my ankles and lower legs this past season. If you know me, you know that I’ve been dealing with the same (or similar) f***ing pain for years (somewhere between six and 17 years, depending on when you start counting).

I was determined not to be in pain this season. I started working with an amazing physical therapist in May. She taught me to walk properly and taught me to use my butt when I run. I made huge improvements—but the pain came back.

So my amazing physical therapist shipped me off to an osteopath where I learned just how messed up I was. Among other things, my tibia and fibula were externally rotated, my ankle ligaments were way too loose and my feet were too stiff. The osteopath, who is also amazing, did some manipulations and gave me homework. Some things improved (my feet got more flexible), but the pain persisted and my ankles stayed floppy.

This is where prolotherapy comes in. My doctor would inject sarapin (pitcher plant extract) into the injured areas to promote inflammation. Inflammation is the body’s way of repairing itself. For some reason—perhaps it was my diligent use of ice and anti-inflamms or maybe just my body’s ineptitude—my body wasn’t healing.

And so, on the first day of my rest week, I got 15 or so injections in each leg/ankle. Needles touched my bone. [I’m sorry. Did you come here to read about food?] It hurt, but frankly I was braced for a lot more pain. I spent the rest of the week embracing the pain of inflammation while I lazed around (as much as one can laze while hosting Thanksgiving). The following week, I started running no more than three miles at a time. And after three weeks (when my body was nearing the end of the healing cycle), I went back to the doctor for another round.

What happened? Good things. And pain, but the good things totally outweigh the pain. I still feel pain in my legs when I run, but at a tolerable level. My ankles feel stiff (in a good way) and I can actually push off my big toe when I run (something I’ve been trying to do since May). My doctor thinks that my ankles are about 40% stronger than they were before prolotherapy.* In other words, so far, so good.

I started round 2 this week. I’ll keep you posted…


*For the record, I was doing a whole lotta ankle strengthening before the first round of prolotherapy. I got better at the exercises, but my foot continued to flop around as though it was disconnected from my leg. In other words, prolotherapy alone may not have been the cause of my increased ankle strength.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Orange Pan-Glazed Tofu



This is delectably delicious. That is all. Enjoy!

(Adapted from 101 cookbooks)

1 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice (from 3-5 oranges)
1 tbsp grated ginger
2 tsp soy sauce
1 ½ tsp mirin
2 tsp maple syrup
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 package extra-firm tofu, drained, cubed and patted dry
2 tbs olive oil
1 lime, quartered

1. Combine orange juice, soy sauce, mirin, garlic and maple syrup in a medium bowl. Mix well.

2. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.

3. Add tofu to the skillet and cook until the bottom is golden (about 5 minutes). Flip it and cook until it’s golden on the other side (another 5 minutes or so).

4. Add the orange juice mixture to the skillet and simmer until it’s reduced to a thick glaze, about 10 minutes. Flip the tofu after 5 minutes. (While the sauce simmers, be sure to thoroughly douse the tofu in the sauce.)

5. Serve over quinoa, drizzling any remaining sauce over the tofu. Squeeze lime juice over everything, to taste.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Creamy Chicken-Apple Chili



We don’t like chili—at all.* If you’ve invited us to a chili cook-off, we didn’t come. We probably had a great excuse and that excuse was probably totally valid, but we were really truly grateful for whatever that excuse may have been.

We like this chili—a lot—and both admit that chili might not be quite as horrific as we once thought.


*Actually, I had fantastic chili at a friend’s house in 8th grade, but between that chili and this chili, I’ve been totally chili-phobic.


1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts (or chicken tenders), cut into ½-inch chunks
olive oil
4 tsp chili powder
2 apples, peeled and cubed
1 onion, chopped
3 tbsp unsalted butter
¼ cup brown rice flour
2 cups chicken broth
¾ cup skim milk
2 cans of white beans, rinsed
2 cups shredded Monterey jack cheese

1. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat.

2. Add chicken and chili powder. Cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes.

3. Transfer the chili-ed chicken to a bowl and add a little more olive oil to the Dutch oven (about 1 tbsp), if needed.

4. Add onion to the Dutch oven and cook, stirring often, 3-4 minutes (until starting to turn translucent).

5. Add apples and cook for another 2 minutes

6. Transfer the apples and onions to the bowl with the chicken.

7. Turn the temperature down to medium-low and add the butter to the Dutch oven.

8. Once the butter is melted, add the flour and whisk for 1 minute. 

9. Add chicken broth and milk. Whisk for about 3 minutes, until thickened.

10. Add the chicken, apples, onion and beans. Stir and bring to a simmer.

11. Add cheese. Stir until combined. Serve.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Orange-Cranberry Sauce



For those of you who, like me, aren’t what one would call “planners.” For those of you who might be thinking, “hmmm, I suppose I should make some cranberry sauce tomorrow,” here ya go:

12 oz. fresh cranberries
1 large orange, zested and juiced
½ cup natural sugar
½ cup water

1. Combine water, orange zest, orange juice and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves (2-3 minutes).

2. Add cranberries and bring the mixture to a boil.

3. Reduce the heat and simmer until the cranberries explode, about 7 minutes.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Chiffon Cake



Since I’ve vetoed pie at Thanksgiving this year, I’ve been on a quest for alternative desserts. I’ve figured it out: we’ll have pumpkin pie pudding, chocolate peppermint bark and this cake. (If you’re coming for dessert and have problems with any of those selections, zip it, please.) This cake is light and fluffy and deliciously delicate. If I didn’t know better, I’d call it pumpkin angel food cake. But, thanks to Joyofbaking.com, I know better. Apparently, chiffon cakes include egg yolks. Angel food cakes do not. Therefore, this is a chiffon cake.


1 cup all-purpose gluten-free flour
1 ¼ cup organic sugar
1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp baking powder
9 eggs total (4 yolks and 9 whites—all at room temperature)
1 cup pureed pumpkin
confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

1. Preheat oven to 325º. Lightly spritz a tube pan with canola oil.

2. Combine flour, ¾ cup sugar, pumpkin pie spice and baking powder in a large bowl. Mix well with a whisk.

3. Combine egg yolks and pumpkin in a medium bowl. Mix well with a whisk.

4. Add the pumpkin mixture to the flour mixture and stir until smooth.

5. Place the 9 egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment. Whisk at medium speed until foamy, about 2 minutes.

6. As the mixer continues whisking, gradually add ½ cup sugar.

7. Turn the mixer speed up to high and beat the egg white mixture until it becomes stiff, but moist, 1-2 minutes.

8. Gently fold about a quarter of the egg white mixture into the pumpkin batter until no streaks remain. Repeat, gradually folding the rest of the egg white mixture into the pumpkin batter until no streaks remain.

9. Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 55 minutes. (The cake should be sproingy.)

10. Let the cake cool for 5 minutes and then flip the pan over* so the cake can cool upside down for about 1 ½ hours.

11. Dust the top with confectioners’ sugar and serve.

*Our tube pan has spikes on the rim so we flipped the pan over and put it on top of a cooling rack. If your tube pan doesn’t have spikes, try balancing the tube on a narrow-necked bottle.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Pumpkin-Ricotta Gnocchi With Sage Brown Butter



We’ve had mixed success with gluten-free gnocchi. (And by “mixed” I mean we've had "very little" success.) Gnocchi is all about texture. If you nail it, it’s perfect. If you don’t, you’re stuck with little turd-like things with the consistency of soggy paper towels (in my opinion). 

This gnocchi was perfect—so perfect that I got cocky enough to make it again with pumpkin.

(Adapted from Mark Bittman’s Ricotta Gnocchi recipe in the New York Times)

Note: The ricotta and pumpkin measurements are approximate. The original recipe calls for 15 oz. of ricotta. I used the pureed pumpkin I had left over from the pumpkin pie pudding and filled the rest of the measuring cup with ricotta.

10 oz. fat-free ricotta cheese
5 oz. pureed pumpkin
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 ¼ cup shredded Parmesan (plus more for serving)
¾ to 1 cup all-purpose gluten-free flour
3 tbsp unsalted butter
10 (or more) fresh sage leaves

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

2. In a large bowl, combine pumpkin puree, ricotta, eggs and Parmesan cheese. Add about ½ cup of flour and stir. Add a little more flour and stir. Repeat until you get a very sticky dough.

3. Scoop a spoonful of dough and drop it into the boiling water. If it falls apart, add more flour to the dough and try again. If it stays together, wait until it floats to the surface. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

4. Once you have successful dough, cook the gnocchi in batches (about 5 spoonfuls at a time). One at a time, remove each floating gnocco from the water and set aside.

5. As you near your last batch of gnocchi, add butter to a large skillet over medium heat. When the butter melts and starts to brown, add the sage leaves.

6. Add the gnocchi to the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally until the gnocchi start to brown.

7. Serve immediately. Top with shredded Parmigiano.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Pumpkin Pie Pudding



I have two confessions.

1.) I only like the innards of pumpkin pie. Sure, I’ve eaten plenty of pie crusts in my day, but only because Miss. Manners says it’s rude to scoop out the good stuff and leave a pathetic-looking crust on one’s plate. Of course, now that I don’t eat wheat, I have a perfectly valid excuse for leaving the crust on the plate…OR I could just make this pudding, which takes all the good stuff of pumpkin pie innards and makes it better—and more pudding-like.

2.) This is my second attempt at this recipe. It was successful. The first attempt produced a very tasty pumpkin pie soup. Why? Because I decided the directions were dumb. Why would you heat sugar and cornstarch in a saucepan over medium heat without any liquid? To make pudding, apparently. I learned my lesson. Trust the directions—in this case, at least. No need to go overboard.

(Adapted from Cooking Light)

6 tbsp organic sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 ¾ cup skim milk
1 egg
½ cup pureed pumpkin
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
¼ cup walnut halves
2 tbsp organic sugar
¼ cup whipping cream

1. In a medium bowl, combine the milk and egg. Whisk. Set aside.

2. Combine 6 tbsp sugar and cornstarch in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring gently with a wooden spoon, for about 2 minutes.

3. Gradually add the milk mixture to the sugar mixture. Whisk! Keep whisking and bring the mixture to a boil. Let it boil for 1 minute (keep whisking). Remove from heat.

4. Combine the pumpkin, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg in a bowl. Stir to combine.

5. Add the pumpkin mixture to the milk mixture (one dollop at a time), whisking constantly.

6. Move the saucepan back to the burner and cook the pudding over low heat—don’t stop whisking—for 3 minutes. (They warn you not to let the mixture boil. I say, if it boils, you don’t have it over low heat.)

7. Pour the pudding into individual bowls or ramekins. Cover the surface of the pudding with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.

8. Add 2 tbsp of sugar and the walnuts to a small nonstick skillet over low heat. Cook, stirring, until the sugar get gooey and turns golden brown. (They say this will take 3 minutes. Perhaps it will, if you’re using “low heat” with the ability to boil something, but it took our sugar 12-15 minutes to become gooey—and that’s after I turned the heat up to medium.) Toss the walnuts to cover them with the gooey sugar.

9. Transfer the gooey walnuts to a plate or a parchment paper-covered plate or a cooking spray-coated aluminum foil-covered plate. Let them cool, then chop into chunks.

10. Place the whipping cream in a bowl and beat at high speed until stiff peaks form.

11. To serve, top each bowl of pudding with whipped cream and candied walnuts.

Monday, November 8, 2010

General Tso's Tofu (or chicken)



We don’t remember the last time we had General Tso’s (or General Tsau’s or General Tau’s or General Gau’s or General Gao’s) chicken, but we know it was yummy and extraordinarily unhealthy. We can’t vouch for the accuracy of the General Tso’s taste in this dish, but it’s really tasty (and a hell of a lot healthier than the original deep-fried version).

(Adapted from the Canyon Ranch Demo Kitchen cookbook)

3 tbsp low-sodium gluten-free tamari sauce
6 tbsp red wine vinegar
3 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp hoisin sauce*
1 tbsp minced fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 package extra-firm tofu, drained, patted dry and cubed (or 1 lb. skinless chicken breast, cubed)
¾ cup organic chicken stock
2 tbsp cornstarch
2 tbsp water
3 tbsp canola oil
2 red bell peppers, chopped
1 zucchini, diced

1. Combine tamari, vinegar, brown sugar, hoisin sauce, ginger and garlic in a small bowl. Mix well.

2. Place the tofu or chicken in a shallow baking dish or pie plate and combine with ½ cup of the sauce. If using chicken, marinate for 1 hour. If you’re using tofu, 15 minutes’ll do.

3. Combine cornstarch and water in a small bowl. Stir well with a fork.

4. Add the chicken stock and the cornstarch-water concoction to the rest of the sauce. Set aside.

5. Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a large wok over medium-high heat. Stir fry tofu or chicken until starting to brown (and until chicken is cooked through). Remove from wok and set aside.

6. Re-oil the wok, if necessary, and sauté the red peppers and zucchini until tender-crisp.

7. Add the tofu or chicken and the remaining sauce and cook until the sauce thickens, about 2 minutes.

*Most store-bought hoisin sauce has wheat in it so we made our own (following a Canyon Ranch recipe):
2 tbsp canola oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
pinch chili flakes
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp low-sodium gluten-free tamari sauce
5 tbsp white vinegar
3 tbsp water
1/3 cup black beans

1. Combine oil, garlic and chili flakes in a skillet over medium heat. Saute until garlic turns golden brown.

2. Add brown sugar to the skillet and cook until the sugar caramelizes.

3. Add the rest of the ingredients to the skillet and cook over low heat until the sauce thickens, about 20 minutes. Set aside until cool.

4. Transfer sauce to a blender and blend until smooth. (Can be stored in a covered container in the refrigerator for a week.)

Friday, November 5, 2010

Pasta Al Forno with Butternut Squash (or Pumpkin)



I came across this recipe on the Food52 blog. Doesn’t it sound amazing? Now, check out the ingredients. Doesn’t it sound like a heart attack?

We lightened it up a little and came up with this decadent, yet delicate creation. We know it doesn’t look particularly delicious. The mustard yellow hue is a bit off-putting. And when you place a spoon in the pasta to serve it, it makes a dense gloopy sound that’s also rather off-putting. BUT, trust us. This is one tasty fall dish!

A 3 to 4 pound butternut squash or cheese pumpkin (we used butternut squash)
Olive oil
4 pieces of turkey bacon, cooked until crispy and broken into bits
16 oz. brown rice penne pasta
1 cup fat-free plain Greek yogurt
¾ cup fat-free half and half
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
½ cup shredded parmesan cheese
½ cup shredded fontina cheese
2 tbsp. fat-free ricotta cheese
2 tbsp chopped fresh sage leaves
walnut halves (about a cup), toasted

1. Preheat oven to 400º. Line two baking sheets with foil.

2. Cut squash into equally thick slabs (leave the skin on) and place on the baking sheets. Drizzle the squash lightly with olive oil and bake until the squash is tender and slightly caramelized, about 1 hour. Set aside until it’s cool enough to handle.

3. Bring a large pot of water to boil and cook the pasta until it’s under-done (not even al dente), about 5 minutes. Drain, rinse and set aside.

4. Jack the oven up to 500º.

5. Cut the squash away from the skin and measure out 2 cups of squash, cut into chunks. Combine the squash chunks with the Greek yogurt and half and half in a blender. Puree until smooth.

6. Combine the squash puree with the cheeses, sage and bacon in a large bowl. Stir to combine.

7. Cut the rest of the squash into chunks and gently fold the squash chunks and the penne into the slop in the large bowl. (Remember: it tastes delicious!)

8. Spread the pasta, squash, etc evenly into a lasagna pan or casserole dish and bake for 7-10 minutes, until the top layer of pasta starts to brown and the bottom layer is tender.

9. Top each serving with toasted walnuts.   

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Southwestern Stuffed Squash



The squash fairy visited us last weekend. THANK YOU SQUASH FAIRY! We’ll be using the squash fairy’s squash to make one of our new favorite fall dishes: Southwestern Stuffed Squash.

(Adapted from Eating Well)

2 or more winter squash (any kind will do), halved and seeded
5 oz. turkey sausage, casings removed
1 onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp chili powder
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
15 oz. can of black beans, rinsed
1 cup (or so) of shredded swiss cheese

*Note: Due to miscommunication, we didn’t have black beans when we first made this recipe. We used white beans instead. It was really good, but it’s even better with black beans.

1. Preheat oven to 375º.

2. Spritz a baking sheet with oil and place squash cut-side down on baking sheet. Bake until tender (and slightly caramelized), about 45 minutes.

3. Spritz a large coverable skillet with oil and place over medium heat.

4. Add the sausage innards to the skillet and cook (breaking up the sausage as it cooks) until it’s lightly browned, 3-5 minutes.

5. Add the onion and bell pepper to the skillet and cook, stirring, until softened, 3-5 minutes.

6. Add garlic and chili powder to the skillet and cook stirring constantly, for 30 seconds.

7. Add the tomatoes and beans to the skillet. Cover, reduce heat and let the mixture simmer until the tomatoes are broken down (10-12 minutes).

8. When the squash is done, turn the oven down to 325º. Fill the squash halves with the vegetable-sausage mixture and sprinkle with swiss cheese. Bake until the cheese melts, 8-10 minutes.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Chocolate Mousse



Looks can be deceiving. See that picture up there? It appears to be a photo of two mugs of a rather bland looking tan substance. That substance is chocolate. Normally, I stay away from chocolate that’s closer to tan than espresso (the color), but since I made this I had to try it. And ya know what? Under that top layer of less-than-stellar-looking (but still delicious-tasting) chocolate, there was a mug full of rich, dark, light, silky chocolate decadence. Better yet, it’s really not that bad for you and it’s totally do-able on a weeknight.


¾ cup heavy cream
2 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
Cold water
5 egg whites
2 tbsp organic sugar

1. Heat heavy cream and chocolate in a saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring, until melted and smooth.

2. Fill a large bowl with cold water.

3. Pour the chocolate mixture into a medium bowl and carefully place the chocolate-filled bowl into the bowl of cold water. Allow the chocolate mixture to cool to about 5 minutes. Stir occasionally.

4. Add the egg whites to the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk at medium speed until foamy, about 1 minute.

5. As the mixer whisks, add the sugar to the foamy egg whites. Beat until stiff, but moist, 2-3 minutes.

6. Transfer the egg white mixture to a large bowl and pour the cold chocolate mixture into the bowl of the stand mixer.

7. Beat the chocolate mixture at medium speed “until fluffy.” According to the original recipe, fluffiness should occur in 2 minutes. We never achieved fluffiness and gave up after about 5 minutes.

8. Fold a quarter of the egg white mixture into the chocolate mixture just until it’s a uniform color (i.e. no streaks). Gradually fold the rest of the egg white mixture into the chocolate mixture.

9. Divide the mousse into cups. (The recipe says to divide it into 8 cups. Our mousse filled 3 ½ cups. This may have been a consequence of unfluffy chocolate, but the lack of chocolate fluffiness may have led to the rich chocolate flavor…so fluff your chocolate at your own risk.)

10. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Cornflake Chicken



I have been a horrible food blogger lately (and a truly terrible science blogger*). I’ve got a massive backlog of recipes to share and so, well, it’s time to get back to work…starting with last night’s dinner: Cornflake chicken.

(Adapted from a whole bunch of recipes we found online)

Boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips (or chicken tenders)
At least 1 cup Cornflakes, crushed
Onion powder
Garlic powder
Dijon mustard
Honey

1. Preheat oven to 400º. Cover a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and spritz with oil.

2. Combine mustard and honey in a shallow dish and combine cornflakes with a few dashes of onion powder and garlic powder in another shallow dish.

3. Dunk the chicken in the honey mustard mixture (smother it), coat it in the cornflake mixture and place it on the baking sheet.

4. Bake for 15-20 min.



*Something is in the works, Mauka to Makai fans. Yes, it’s been in the works for at least a month, but I promise to entertain/educate/enthrall/enlighten you with a M2M post soon—and by soon I mean no later than Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Maple Walnut Tofu



This is a little bit wrong. It’s tofu—healthy healthy tofu—but it tastes like candy. YUM!

(Very loosely adapted from Everyday with Rachael Ray)

1 cup walnut halves
1 package extra firm tofu, drained, patted dry and cubed
1 tbsp EVOO
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
¼ cup chicken stock (or another ¼ cup apple cider vinegar)
½ cup maple syrup


1. Preheat oven to 325º.

2. Spread walnuts on a rimmed baking sheet and toast until fragrant, 10-12 minutes.

3. Heat EVOO in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the tofu to the skillet and cook until browned, about 10 minutes. Remove tofu and set aside.

4. Add vinegar, chicken stock and maple syrup to the skillet. Cook until the sauce thickens.

5. Add tofu and walnuts to the skillet. Stir to coat with the maple sauce. Enjoy.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Adorable Kitten Needs a Home (in Southern California)!





PLEASE ADOPT BIANCA!
Bianca is a 12 week old polydactyl Manx kitten with special needs. Like many Manx, she has incontinence, and cannot always control her bladder. She means very well, and uses her littler box most of the time, but has accidents most often when she sleeps. Otherwise, she is very happy and healthy and loves to purr, snuggle, and chase bottle caps. She is absolutely beautiful, with stripes on her legs, and a leopard print belly. Her extra large paws are amazing! She is also a superb hunter, even stalking and catching a fly the other day. She is looking for a home perhaps as an outdoor cat, where she can be given lots of love and care. She is almost up to date on her shots, and can be by the time you adopt her. She has not yet been spayed, as she is so young, but this could also be done in advance of her adoption. 
If you have experience with Manx cats or feel that you can give Bianca the kind of attention and love she needs, please contact us at healthyish@gmail.com and we'll put you in touch with her fostermom.
Many thanks for considering Bianca!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Sweet and Slightly Spicy Tofu and Quinoa Peach Salad



Not much to say on this one….just fast, easy, yummy food. I’ll return to more loquacious posts soon.

(Adapted from Cooking Light)

A word on that whole “adapted” thing: I write “adapted from” to give credit to the original source of the recipe, but in most cases, we modify the recipe so much that the original authors probably wouldn’t recognize it. Still, we believe that everyone deserves credit for their work.

¾ cup quinoa
1 ½ cups water
2 red bell peppers, diced
3 tbsp lemon juice
1 ½ tbsp EVOO
1 tbsp plus another dollop of honey
2 peaches, peeled and sliced

1 package extra-firm tofu, drained, patted dry and cubed
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp chili powder
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
6 tbsp honey
2 tsp cider vinegar

1. Bring water to boil in a small saucepan. Add quinoa. Cover and turn heat to low. (It’ll be done in about 15 minutes.)

2. Preheat broiler and coat a broiler pan with cooking spray.

3. Combine garlic powder, chili powder and red pepper flakes in a large zip-top bag. Add tofu, seal the bag and shake to coat.

4. Place tofu on broiler pan and broil for 5 minutes, flip and broil another 5 minutes or so.

5. Combine the 6 tbsp honey and the cider vinegar in a small bowl and stir until it’s a glaze-like consistency.

6. Brush the tofu with the glaze (about ¼ cup of glaze) and return it to the broiler. Broil for 1 minute. Flip. Brush with glaze. Broil for another minute.  

7. Combine lemon juice, honey and EVOO in a large bowl. Stir.

8. Add red bell peppers, peaches and quinoa to the bowl and toss.

9. Brush (or pour) the leftover glaze over the tofu. 

Monday, September 13, 2010

Pumpkinman Half Ironman


Goal #1: Finish 70.3 miles
Check
Goal #2: Finish in under 6:00
Check
Goal #3: Finish in under 5:30
Check

I’ve avoided the public race report until now—because frankly, I think people would rather read about food than my race—but enough people have asked for “all the details” that I thought I’d give it a shot.

So, as you all know, this was my first half Ironman. I’m a sprinter. I like to go fast. I had no idea how this long distance thing would work. Originally, the bike was my biggest concern. (How could I possibly bike for 56 miles without going crazy?) And then my typical end-of-season calf issues took on a whole new level (and location) of pain. The bike was no longer a concern. I wondered if I’d be able to run at all.

We got up crazy early (got the expected “WTF?” look from a very sleepy pup) and got to the venue around 5:30. I won’t bore you with my pre-race routine. I got ready. It was cold.

The swim was in Knights Pond, just down a huge hill from the transition area. It’s a stereotypical pond—small, shallow and loaded with vegetation. We had to swim two loops. I was in the fourth wave, seven minutes behind the elites, six minutes behind the 39-and-under men and three minutes behind the 40-plus men. Based on last year’s results and this year’s athlete list, I knew there was at least one other swimmer in my wave. I planned to keep an eye on her.

I dove into the water, which was a lot warmer than the air, and immediately got a taste of ick. The water tasted metallic. I briefly wondered why, remembered friends calling it a manure pond and telling me about tons of goose poop on the grass near the beach and tried to keep my mouth closed for the rest of the swim. I got out of the crowd fairly early and tried to find the first buoy in the fog. There were two women right in front of me. I was okay with that. They probably knew what they were doing. I wasn’t really sure how to pace this swim (and have a tendency to err towards warm-up pace). We swam through a clump of red caps (40-plus men) and started hitting the green caps (39-and-under men). Finding each buoy was challenging. It felt more like a scavenger hunt than a race. I came into the beach, ran through the chute and dove back into the water—a little early, ooops. My hips hit the bottom of the pond, tugging my wetsuit down a bit. That was stupid. The second loop was more of the same. I stopped kicking (not that I kicked much in the first loop) and tried to focus on a strong pull. I wasn’t gonna be able to rely on my arms during the bike and the run so I figured I’d make them work now. I swam back into the beach through a bunch of vegetation (pictured myself looking like swamp thing when I came out of the water) and ran up the beach. I was 10 seconds behind the first person in my wave. Swim: 28:09


I started up the giant hill to the transition area. I started running (because this was a race and I felt great…maybe I should’ve pushed the swim a little more) and then walked the steep part. There was no need to destroy my calves just yet. T1 went fine. I took my time, put on my socks (which took forever) and got the hell outta there.

I got myself settled in on the bike and just rode. I sucked down some Accelerade to get rid of the icky taste of the pond and had my first gel round mile 6. I watched the miles tick by on my computer, telling myself I could take another gel when I got to certain mile markers and checking my time every 14 miles. I wanted to do the bike in three hours, but would be really happy if I could finish in less than three hours. I had no idea if that was possible. At 14 miles, my time was 45-something. Right on target for 3:00. It was windy. I had no idea if I could hold that pace. At 26 miles, I was at 1:27. Hunh. A lot of guys passed me, but not nearly as many women as I expected. Maybe I finally figured out this biking thing—at least a little bit.

I got a little bored (and slow) around mile 39. Where were Erin and Stacy? Shouldn’t they have blown by me by now? For the first time in my triathlon “career” I wondered why I do this. I let myself have an early gel, just to give me something to do, and it worked. I was back to loving (or at least thoroughly enjoying) the race. Erin passed me around mile 49. She was flying (and smiling, of course). Bike: 2:55:09

T2 was another leisurely transition. I racked my bike, took a puff of my inhaler, put on my Garmin, took another puff and tried to put on my shoes. Right foot in. No problem. Left foot—not so easy. I finally paid attention to what I was doing. My left baby toe was getting caught on the side of my shoe, but I couldn’t feel it since my feet were numb. I stuffed it in there with the rest of the little piggies and took off.

My feet were numb! This was fabulous news. I couldn’t feel pain if I couldn’t feel anything. I prayed for 13.1 miles of numbness (and a port-a-potty). My first mile felt great. I looked at my Garmin. 7:30. Hmm, I should slow down. The next mile was a 7:58 and felt really easy. I had planned on starting around an 8:30 and descending, but I felt good. I decided to revisit everything after I peed. The woman running with me said she couldn’t make it to the port-a-potty and ran off into the woods. I should’ve done the same. We rounded the corner and were in a residential area with no sign of a port-a-potty. Finally there was one at the top of the hill around mile 4. The feeling started to come back in my left foot and every few steps I felt like I was stepping on a nail, but I cranked it up the hill to the port-a-potty. I peed as fast as I could and ran through the aid station, grabbing water and taking a gel.

And then someone shot me…in my right leg, under my Achilles, one of the places that’d been bothering me for the past three weeks. The pain was sharp, but brief. It came and went unpredictably. Then my left shin started hurting. That’s a pain I can run through. The stabs to my right leg alternated between dull pains that lasted for a while to sharp shots of pain. It hurt running uphill. It hurt running downhill. It hurt running on a flat road. I told myself that ninjas (or people who look like ninjas because of all the kinesio tape on their calves) feel no pain. I swore, quietly, but fairly consistently.

On the last long uphill a guy behind me begged me not to slow down with some comment like “I love running behind beautiful women.” I thanked him, but told him I was currently figuring out how I could amputate my calves so he may not want to rely on me to pace him. I hobbled along. Slowly. The rest of my body felt great. I wasn’t tired. I wasn’t out of breath. I could’ve held a conversation, but my calves threatened to throw me to the ground every time I attempted to speed up.

My original goal for the run had been sub-2:00. I started to worry that I might not make it. I stared at my watch, doing all sorts of worst case scenario calculations. Finally, I made it to mile 11. 2.1 miles to go. I knew I could walk 2 miles if I had to. I’d probably still make it in under 6:00. But I was running. It hurt like hell, but I was running. I had no idea if walking would hurt more or less. Why find out?

12.5 miles. Almost there. This is where I should kick. That’s my thing. I’m a sprinter. I have a kick. People don’t pass me coming into the finish. I had the energy. I wanted to kick really really badly, but @#$& it hurt! And then we had to run up a hill. It wasn’t a big hill. But it was a hill. Two people passed me. Both of them were older than me. The woman shouted words of encouragement. I wished it was fatigue that was slowing me down. I wished I could put my head down and go (and thank her as I flew by her), but my legs said no. I finally reached the top of the hill and then had to run downhill (which hurt just as badly as the uphill) and then I reached the chute. I couldn’t hobble to the finish, dammit! I used my quads to lift my legs up and throw them forward. I saw the clock: 5:30 (5:23 since I started) and somehow managed a quad-throwing “sprint” to the finish. Run: 1:56:09.

Final Time: 5:23:59. 25th F, 3rd AG

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Summer Squash Carpaccio



I am way behind on this blog (and even further behind on Mauka to Makai). I shall now attempt to play a pretty intense (but likely never-ending) game of catch up. Ready. Set. Go!

We made this dish twice. The first time it was delicious. The second time, it tasted like tomatoes. The difference—we think—was in the size of the squash. We used a much bigger yellow squash for the second iteration. Perhaps large yellow squash taste like tomatoes….who knows?


Yellow squash
Shredded Parmesan cheese
Toasted pine nuts
EVOO
Lemon juice

1. Peel the squash and slice it into ribbons (using a vegetable peeler or the slicing disk on a food processor).

2. Combine all ingredients in a bowl (all quantities are to taste so add however much you want). Toss. Eat.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Beef and Green Pepper Kebabs



I have nothing to say about these except that they’re easy and delicious, especially with fresh green peppers from our CSA.

(Adapted from a super-secret recipe from a super-secret source)

beef (preferably grass-fed), cubed
2-3 green bell peppers, cubed
3 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp corn starch
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp sugar
a dash or two of ground ginger

1. If using bamboo skewers, soak them in water for at least 30 minutes before using.

2. Pre-heat grill to medium hot.

3. Whisk soy sauce, corn starch, red wine vinegar, sugar and ginger together in a bowl. Add cubed beef and peppers and toss to coat.

4. String beef and green peppers onto skewers and grill, flip, grill until done.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting




The first time we made these, we gobbled them up so quickly we forgot to take a picture. So, ummm, you’ve been warned about their delicious and slightly addictive nature. Enjoy!

(Adapted from glutenfreeville.com)

3 eggs
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup pumpkin
¾ cup brown rice flour
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp cloves
¼ tsp ginger

For the frosting:
4 oz. reduced-fat cream cheese
½ cup powdered sugar
3 tbsp butter (at room temperature)
1 tsp vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 375º and spray muffin tins with cooking spray.

2. Beat eggs and sugar together.

3. Add pumpkin, flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and ginger to the eggs and sugar. Beat together.

4. Pour batter into muffin cups and bake 13-15 minutes.

5. Whip the cream cheese, powdered sugar, butter and vanilla together until it’s well-combined and frosting-like.

6. When the cupcakes are cool, smother them with frosting.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Grilled Corn on the Cob




We may be way too dependent on corn, as Michael Pollan says, but fresh-picked local corn is DAMN GOOD, especially on the grill.

(Our friend Leah taught us this method.)

corn on the cob (unshucked)

1. Place corn in a large pan and cover with water. You may need to put a plate on top of the corn to keep it from floating to the surface. Let soak for about an hour.

2. Trim any excessively long silk threads and place the corn on a medium hot grill. Cover.

3. Flip the corn after about 20 minutes. Cook another 20 minutes and remove from heat.

4. Shuck (when it’s cool enough to do so) and eat. You don’t even need butter!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Veggie Burgers with Caramelized Onions, Goat Cheese and Balsamic Glaze



These scrumptious burgers are made with lentils and quinoa, but let’s face it, if you were to offer a “lentil quinoa burger” to a carnivore, they’d run.

(Adapted from Women’s Health)

½ cup quinoa
1 19oz can lentils, rinsed
½ cup gluten-free breadcrumbs
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 cloves garlic, chopped
½ cup walnut pieces
juice of half a lemon
1 tbsp butter
2 onions, thinly sliced
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
crumbled goat cheese
balsamic glaze (or balsamic vinegar reduced into balsamic glaze)

1. Combine quinoa and 1 cup of water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes or until quinoa is cooked. Set aside to cool.

2. While the quinoa simmers, melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and cook until they’re translucent, 4-5 minutes. Add brown sugar and balsamic vinegar. Stir. Reduce heat to medium low and cover the pan. Cook for about 30 minutes, peeking every once in a while.

3. Preheat grill to medium.

4. In a large bowl, combine the cooled quinoa, bread crumbs, egg, garlic, lemon juice and half the lentils.

5. Place quinoa mixture in a food processor and mix until it becomes well-combined mush. Add the walnuts and the rest of the lentils and pulse until they’re incorporated.

6. Form the quinoa mixture into patties, brush both sides with olive oil and slap ‘em on the grill. Cook for 4 minutes per side.

7. Serve each burger with caramelized onions and crumbled goat cheese and drizzle with balsamic vinegar.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Maple-Roasted Hakurei Turnips and Sweet Potatoes



Before our first CSA pickup of the year, I’d never heard of a hakurei turnip. In fact, I’m not sure if I’d ever even eaten a turnip of any kind (or if I’d ever had a desire to eat a turnip). I certainly had no idea how to cook them, but of course, the fabulous Laughing Stock Farm Cookbook had a suggestion. Roast them with oil, rosemary and salt, it said. I did it and I didn’t really like them. At first, they were yummy, kind of like potatoes roasted with rosemary, but then there was another taste that overpowered the savory taste of the rosemary. It wasn’t until a friend mentioned that she’d roasted them with sweet potatoes that I realized that it was the sweet aftertaste that had bothered me. And what do we do with sweet things? We cover them in maple syrup, of course.

Seriously, these are delicious, which is a good thing because it seems like these turnips will be in season all summer.

Hakurei turnips (just the white parts), diced
Sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp maple syrup

1. Preheat oven to 425º.

2. Combine hakurei turnips all ingredients in a large bowl and toss to make sure the vegetables are coated.

3. Pour the contents of the bowl onto a rimmed baking sheet.

4. Roast for 20-30 minutes (until the turnips and potatoes are pokeable and slightly brown).

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Lime Ice Cream



We made this last night. Temperatures had finally fallen into the 80s, but the idea of eating was still rather unappealing…until I had a spoonful of this deliciousness. It’s creamy and refreshing and soooo yummy!

(Adapted from Food52)

¾ cup natural sugar
1 ½ cup heavy cream
2 tbsp grated lime zest
1/3 cup fresh-squeezed lime juice

1. Combine all ingredients and stir until the sugar is dissolved.

2. Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker (and make ice cream) or pour it into a shallow dish and freeze, stirring every once in a while.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Quinoa, Mango and Black Bean Salad



It’s been HOT in Maine for the past few days. When it’s this hot, the idea of turning on the oven is fairly repulsive. The idea of eating anything other than popsicles is also pretty gross, but eventually we get hungry enough to eat something cold and refreshing like this yummy salad.

(This recipe is adapted from Eating Well.)

1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
½ cup orange juice
4 tbsp rice vinegar
4 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp minced fresh ginger
1 mango, peeled and diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 can of black beans, rinsed

1. Pour the quinoa into a small dry saucepan and toast over medium heat, stirring often, for 4-6 minutes (until it starts smelling nutty).

2. Add water to the saucepan. Cover and bring to a simmer. Turn heat to low and cook until all the water is absorbed and the quinoa is tender, 15-20 minutes.

3. In a large bowl, whisk orange juice, rice vinegar, sesame oil and minced ginger together. Add mango, bell peppers and beans.

4. When the quinoa is done, stir it into the mango, bell pepper and bean mixture.

5. Serve as is or chill and serve.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Kale Chips



I’ve always been wary of kale. I’ve tried to like it. I’ve smothered it in garlic (which, in my book, makes everything delectable), but still had a problem with the texture. In my experiences kale is tough, like a fruit roll-up, but not nearly as tasty.

Deb (of Smitten Kitchen) agrees with me:

“But I still couldn’t warm to kale. Because I didn’t like the way it tasted. And I don’t care if something is chock-full of vitamin A, C and calcium, I don’t care if it makes you live longer or feel stronger or fixes the budget deficit, I’ve got this hang-up wherein I won’t eat food if it doesn’t taste good to me…And kale just didn’t.”

Or she did—until she made kale chips.

Kale chips? Wouldn’t that be like making lettuce chips? Yes, but no. I decided to give kale one last shot with the kale chip recipe in the Laughing Stock Farm Cookbook and you know what? They’re awesome.

Olive oil (or canola oil)
Kale
Shredded Parmesan cheese

1. Chop and stem the kale. (Be aggressive. The stems are the tough parts so get them outta there!)

2. Preheat the oven to 350º.

3. Line an edged baking sheet (or two) with foil and brush (or spray) the foil with oil.

4. Spread the kale on the baking sheets and bake for 5 minutes, stir the kale, bake for 3 minutes, stir it, then bake for 2 minutes.

5. Sprinkle the shredded parm over the kale and bake for 10-15 more minutes, stirring every 3-5 minutes. Cook until the kale is crispy, but don’t let it burn!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Gluten-Free Cinnamon Buns



YUM! These are absolutely positively scrumptious, but the glaze needs a little work. I like the glaze that comes with Pilsbury cinnamon buns. It’s gooey and delicious and probably completely unnatural. This glaze was too, umm, healthy(?)

(Adapted from Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day.)

Chunk of gluten-free brioche dough (the size of a small cantaloupe)
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup confectioners’ sugar plus extra for dusting
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp skim milk
1 tbsp unsalted butter at room temperature

1. Grease an 8-inch cake pan or pie plate.

2. Sprinkle confectioners’ sugar over a silicone mat and plop the dough on top of the sugared mat. Place a sheet of plastic wrap on top of the dough and use a rolling pin to roll the dough into a rectangle (about ¼-inch thick). Remove the plastic wrap.

3. Combine the brown sugar and cinnamon in a medium bowl, breaking up any chunks with the back of a spoon.

4. Sprinkle the filling over the dough and then roll the dough into a log.

5. Cut the log into 12 equal-ish pieces and place the pieces in the pan (swirled edge up). Cover the buns loosely with plastic wrap and let sit for about 1 hour.

6. Preheat oven to 350º and place a rack in the center of the oven.

7. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the tops are lightly brown.

8. Combine the confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, milk (adding 1 tbsp at a time) and butter in a medium bowl. Mix well and spread the glaze over the buns while they’re still warm. 

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Chard with Feta




We’ve been searching for the perfect CSA (that stands for Community Supported Agriculture…click here for a more thorough explanation) since we moved to Maine. Our first CSA was perfect—but the timing and location of the pick-up was a pain in the a**. Last year’s CSA was bad. It wasn’t their fault. It was a rainy summer. They lost the broccoli and the tomatoes and all the other good stuff. We got lettuce—lots and lots of lettuce…so much lettuce that I tried (unsuccessfully) to convince Pete that we needed a bunny to help us eat it all.

This year, we’ve joined the CSA at Laughing Stock Farm and I think it might be the one. So far, we’ve gotten chard, kale, baby bok choy, basil, broccoli raab, hakurei turnips, mesclun greens and a cookbook to help us figure out how to cook things we’d never even heard of (like hakurei turnips).

This speedy, delicious (and kind of lemony) dish is our adaptation of a recipe from the Laughing Stock Farm Cookbook.

1 bunch chard, washed and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
EVOO
Crumbled Feta

1. Heat EVOO in a skillet over medium heat.

2. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until the garlic is fragrant (about 30 seconds).

3. Add the chard stems. Cook, stirring for about 1 minute.

4. Add the chard leaves and cook, stirring, until the leaves are wilted (1-2 minutes).

5. Add feta and remove from heat. Cover the pan and let sit for a couple minutes, until the feta begins to melt.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Lemony Chicken, Potato and Green Bean Salad




Simple yumminess. Delicious warm or cold. That’s all I have to say.

(Adapted from Everyday with Rachel Ray.)

red potatoes, quartered (about 1 ½ pounds)
green beans (lots)
¼ cup EVOO
1-2 tbsp olive oil
1 lemon (zested and juiced)
1 egg, beaten
¼ cup brown rice flour (or all-purpose flour for wheat-eaters)
¼ cup chicken broth
dried parsley
2-3 skinless boneless chicken breasts (pounded) or chicken cutlets or chicken tenders (you just need thin chicken)

1. Fill a large saucepan halfway with water. Add the potatoes and bring the water to a boil. Cook about 10 minutes, until the potatoes are tenderly poke-able, but not crumbly.

2. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the potatoes to a colander and add the green beans to the boiling water. Cook for 2 minutes.

3. Dump the green beans and water into the potato-filled colander.

4. Combine ¼ cup EVOO, the lemon zest and half of the lemon juice in a large bowl. Add the potatoes and green beans and toss to coat.

5. Set up two shallow dishes. Place the beaten egg in one dish and the flour in the other.

6. Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat.

7. Dip the chicken in the flour, then the egg, then the flour, then the skillet. Cook, turning once, until the chicken is golden (about 8 minutes).

8. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and cut into strips. Add the chicken to the bowl of potatoes and green beans.

9. Add chicken broth to the skillet and reduce the heat to medium. Cook, scraping up any brown bits, for about a minute.

10. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the rest of the lemon juice. Pour the pan sauce over the chicken, potatoes and green beans. Sprinkle with dried parsley and toss.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Gluten-Free Brioche



Brioche. Brioche. Brioche. It’s kind of fun to say. The bread itself isn’t that thrilling. It’s tasty and it’s especially yummy toasted and topped with jam, but we have bigger plans for brioche—I’m thinking French toast, bread pudding and hamburger buns. But first, the brioche:

(Adapted from Healthy Bread in Five Minutes A Day.)

*We made 2 loaves of brioche and 2 batches of gluten-free cinnamon buns (recipe coming soon) from a single batch of dough.

For the dough:
1 cup brown rice flour
1 cup tapioca flour
3 ¾ cups cornstarch
2 tbsp granulated yeast
½ tbsp sea salt
2 tbsp xanthan gum
2 ½ cups skim milk
1 cup honey
4 large eggs
1 cup canola oil
1 tbsp vanilla extract

for the topping:
egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 tbsp of water)
natural granulated sugar

1. Whisk together brown rice flour, tapioca flour, cornstarch, yeast, salt and xanthan gum in a huge bowl.

2. In another bowl, combine the milk, honey, eggs, canola oil and vanilla.

3. If you have a food processor (14-cup) or stand mixer, transfer the dry ingredients to the bowl of the processor or mixer. Gradually, mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until everything is moist and there’s no sign of flour.

4. Cover the dough loosely (ie. not airtight) and let it sit at room temperature for 2 hours.

5. Choose your own adventure: use the dough now or refrigerate it in a lidded (but not airtight container for up to five days.

6. When you’re ready to turn the dough into brioche, grease am 8 ½ x 4 ½ loaf pan and break off a chunk of dough the size of a small cantaloupe.

7. Pull the dough into a long oval and plop it in the loaf pan. Let it sit, loosely covered with plastic wrap, for 40 minutes if it’s fresh (90 minutes if it’s been refrigerated).

8. Preheat the oven to 350º.

9. Brush the top of the loaf with the egg wash and sprinkle with sugar and bake in the middle of the oven for 40-45 minutes (until the top is caramel brown and firm).

10. Extract the brioche from the pan and let it cool on a rack before slicing and eating.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Portabella Eggs Benedict



Real eggs benedict consists of Hollandaise sauce-topped poached eggs on ham and an English muffin. The only thing this dish has in common with eggs benedict is the presence of eggs, but, because the idea for this dish came from “grilled portabella benedict” in Ellie Krieger’s So Easy cookbook, we decided to keep the benedict in the name. Portabella eggs benedict has a little more in common with grilled portabella benedict than it does with real eggs benedict (but just a little). Both recipes include portabella caps, eggs and pesto and that’s where the similarities end.

If you make roast the tomatoes and make the pesto ahead of time, you can throw this dish together in a matter of minutes.

4 portabella mushroom caps
olive oil
4 eggs
roasted tomatoes (click here for the recipe)
Nino’s pesto (click here for the recipe)
Shredded parmesan cheese

1. Preheat grill or grill pan.

2. De-gill the portabellas (gently scrape the dark gills out from inside the cap with a spoon) and coat them with olive oil.

3. Grill the portabellas over medium-high heat until they’re tender, 7-10 minutes per side (they're ready to go when they soften and start leaking clear liquid).

4. Fry the eggs.

5. Fill each portabella cap with as many roasted tomatoes as you can fit. Top with the fried egg. Drizzle with pesto and sprinkle with shredded parm.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Roasted Tomatoes



I don’t have much to say about these. They’re easy and delicious and they make the house smell great. We throw them in pasta, on pizza and in the middle of this slightly wacky Portabella eggs benedict recipe I’ll be posting soon.

1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
2-3 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
EVOO (about ¼ cup)
1 tsp dried thyme

1. Preheat oven to 375º and line an edged baking sheet (or lasagna pan) with parchment paper.

2. Place the tomatoes, cut side up, on the baking sheet. Scatter the sliced garlic over and around the tomatoes. Drizzle with EVOO and sprinkle with thyme.

3. Roast for 30-40 minutes and then jack the temperature up to 400º and roast for 10 minutes. 

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Grilled Sweet Potatoes with Honey-Butter Glaze




We roast sweet potatoes all the time (slice ‘em thinly, spritz ‘em with a little canola oil, roast, flip, spritz the other side with canola oil and sprinkle with lemon juice, roast). They’re totally delicious and pretty darn healthy. Now that it’s grilling season, we’ve moved the sweet potato operation outside and experimented with a slightly less-healthy variation. The verdict? Totally delicious!

Sweet potatoes
Unsalted butter
Honey

1. Preheat grill.

2. Wash sweet potatoes and slice into rounds (about ¼-inch thick).

3. Combine butter and honey (you choose how much) in a microwaveable bowl and microwave until the butter melts. Stir to combine.

4. Brush one side of the sweet potato rounds with the honey-butter glaze and plop glazed-side-down onto the grill.

5. Cook until grill marks appear, then brush the glaze on the other side of the sweet potato, flip and cook until grill marks appear and the sweet potato is tender enough to bite into.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Nino's Pesto



I was lucky enough to spend the fall semester of my junior year of college in Florence—actually I lived in Sesto Fiorentino, 9 miles outside Firenze. We lived and took classes in a villa with frescos on the walls. Sometimes we could hear Nino (our opera-singing chef) singing in the kitchen, while we sat in class…I could go on and on about villa life and my adventures in Europe, but it’s probably better if I don’t. Instead, I’ll share Nino’s recipe for the best pesto in the universe.

1 medium potato, peeled and diced
3 oz. (more or less) chopped green beans
at least 12 fresh basil leaves per person
1 tbsp pine nuts (walnuts work if you’re in a bind)
3 tbsp shredded parmesan cheese (OR 2 tbsp shredded parmesan cheese and 1 tbsp shredded pecorino cheese)
½ cup EVOO
2 cloves garlic

1. Fill a large pasta pot with water. Add potatoes and green beans and bring to a boil.

2. Add pasta and cook until it’s al dente.

3. Meanwhile, place basil, cheese, nuts and garlic in a food processor and blend. Add EVOO and blend again.

4. Pour the pesto sauce into a large bowl.

5. When the pasta’s done drain it.* Then add the pasta and vegetables to the pesto sauce and toss to cover.

6. Mangia!

*If your pesto is too pasty, add 3 tbsp of the pasta water—unless you’re using brown rice pasta. In that case either add 3 tbsp tap water or 3 tbsp of the vegetable-y water (reserve the water before you add the pasta). I rarely add water.