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.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Quinoa Cakes with Eggplant and Tomato Ragout

A few weeks ago, I made the mistake of telling a friend about these surprisingly delicious quinoa cakes. I promised her I’d post the recipe eventually. Apparently, “eventually” is not soon enough. Apparently “eventually” was three weeks ago…Well, here are the friggin’ quinoa cakes. Enjoy!

Seriously, these are delicious and, although the recipe looks wicked long, most of the steps can be done simultaneously so it can definitely be done in under an hour, less if you make the quinoa and/or roast the peppers ahead of time.

(Adapted from

1 cup quinoa
1 egg
1 egg white
shredded parmesan cheese
1 clove garlic, minced
dried oregano
4-5 tbsp olive oil, divided
1 medium eggplant, peeled and cubed
1 onion, diced
2 small cloves garlic, minced
½ tsp dried oregano
3 tbsp EVOO
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1 large red bell pepper, halved and seeded
¾ c water
1 cup shredded mozzarella

1. Heat broiler. Spray baking sheet with cooking spray.

2. Place pepper halves on baking sheet, cut side down. Broil peppers on top rack (about 3 inches below the heat source) for 5 minutes or so, until the skins are mostly charred.

3. Remove peppers from the oven and place in a saucepan with a lid.

4. When the peppers are cool enough to handle, remove them from the saucepan, de-skin them (the charred parts will peel right off) and dice. Set aside.

5. Combine egg and egg white in a small bowl and beat lightly. Set aside.

6. Cook quinoa according to package instructions. Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool.

7. Add the lightly beaten eggs, a handful (more or less) of shredded parmesan, 1 minced garlic clove and a reasonable amount (or an unreasonable amount if that’s how you roll) of dried oregano to the quinoa. Mix well.

8. Mold the quinoa mixture into cakes and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and spritzed with cooking spray. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes (up to an hour).

9. Heat EVOO in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the eggplant, onion, 2 minced garlic cloves and oregano and cook covered until eggplant softens, about 5 minutes.

10. Stir in the tomatoes, roasted red pepper and ¾ cup water and simmer, covered (but stirring occasionally) for about 10 minutes.

11. Meanwhile (assuming the quinoa cakes have had sufficient time to chill), heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. When the oil shimmers, add the cakes.

12. Cook the cakes for 8-10 minutes, turning once and adding 2-3 tbsp of oil when you flip the cakes. The cakes should be crisp and golden.

13. Plate the cakes. Top each cake with the ragout and sprinkle with mozzarella. 

Monday, May 17, 2010

Banana Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

Pete eats brown bananas. That means we rarely have brown bananas for banana bread or other scrumptious dishes that require mushy bananas. But I got lucky yesterday—I snagged two bananas that were “brown” by my definition (merely “freckled” by Pete’s definition) and made my first attempt at banana ice cream. It was an enormous success! Even doubtful Pete thought it was so good that we should start buying brown bananas in bulk.

(Adapted from the advice of two brilliant friends and Cooking Light)

brown bananas
chocolate chips

1. Slice the bananas into rounds and place them on a baking sheet.
2. Freeze the sliced bananas for a few hours.
3. Put the frozen bits o’ banana in a food processor and process until creamy.
4. Add chocolate chips and process until they’re sufficiently mixed into the banana ice cream.
5. EAT!

Friday, May 14, 2010


We’ve got some new blog bling. It’s over there…to the right. See the banner that says ATAYNE? That’s our bling. Ain’t it purdy?

Atayne is a really cool company that makes performance apparel (ie. shirts that will pull sweat away from your skin) from recycled plastic bottles and other natural stuff. When you click on the banner, you’ll go straight to the Atayne website. There, you can buy lots of great clothes (like cycling jerseys, après run tops and performance tops) and check out this totally fascinating feature called “Science Made Simple” (shameless plug).

Now that I’ve disclosed that I write for Atayne, there’s something else I need to tell you: when you click on that Atayne banner and buy some stuff, we get commission—and you (obviously) get some really cool performance apparel. In other words, when you buy Atayne stuff from our link, you’re also making a donation to Healthy-ish.

Go ahead. Click on the bling and shop away.

Note for those of you who don’t know us personally: We’re really opinionated and will never pimp anything that we don’t deem absolutely awesome. 

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Apple Chips

Technically, everything has a season. Asparagus is a spring vegetable, blackberries come out at the end of summer and apples are a fall thing. We’re huge proponents of eating locally-grown food in-season, BUT we cheated…and it was good.

(Adapted from Everyday with Rachel Ray)

2 large apples

¼ cup confectioners’ sugar

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 250º and line baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. Thinly slice the apples (as thin as you can without cutting yourself), discarding the ends and the seeds.

3. Combine the cinnamon and sugar in a bowl.

4. Arrange the apple slices on the baking sheets in a single layer. Sprinkle with the cinnamon-sugar mixture.

5. Bake for 1 ½ to 2 hours, flipping every 30 minutes.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Black Bean Burgers with Guacamole and Pineapple

As I’ve said before, it’s just not right to tell a carnivore that the vegetarian dish they’re about to eat is meat. In fact, before we made these burgers, we questioned the accuracy of calling something made of smooshed beans a burger. These aren’t merely slabs of smooshed beans, however, they’re burgers—delicious, hearty, yummy (even a little bit meaty) burgers. We liked ‘em so much that we made them two nights in a row.

(Adapted from Cooking Light)

2 15oz cans black beans, rinsed and drained

¾ cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese (or 3 oz)

1 tsp dried oregano

2 large egg whites

1 pineapple, chopped

Guacamole (here’s our recipe)

Optional Bun (We used everything Spelt bagels. Pete liked it better with the “bun,” I liked it better without.)

1. Preheat oven to 350º and coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.

2. Add black beans to a medium bowl and squoosh them with a fork. Stir in the cheese, oregano and egg whites.

3. Shape the bean mixture into patties.

4. Bake for 30 minutes, flipping (carefully!) halfway through

5. Top each burger with guacamole and pineapple chunks.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Broccoli and Goat Cheese Souffle

We made this awesome broccoli and goat cheese soufflé last Easter, but the picture above isn’t of the soufflé we made last year. That soufflé was such a hit that my mom made it this Easter. The above photo is of her masterpiece.

And speaking of moms, this dish would be perfect for Mother’s Day…

(Adapted from Eating Well.)

1 ½ cups broccoli florets

1 tbsp butter

1 tbsp EVOO

2 tbsp brown rice flour (or regular all purpose flour if you eat wheat)

1 ¼ cups skim milk

1 tsp Dijon mustard

¼ tsp dried rosemary

½ cup crumbled goat cheese

3 large eggs, separated

2 large egg whites

¼ tsp cream of tartar

1. Preheat oven to 375º and spray a soufflé dish (that holds 2 to 2 ½ quarts) with cooking spray. Place the soufflé dish on a baking sheet (just in case there’s spillage).

2. Using your preferred steaming method—we use a saucepan and a steamer basket, but the recipe suggests microwaving—steam the broccoli until it’s tender-crisp, 1-2 minutes. Set aside.

3. Meanwhile, combine the butter and EVOO in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Once the butter has melted, add the flour and whisk for 1 minute (until the mixture is caramel-colored).

4. Add the milk, mustard and rosemary and cook, whisking constantly, until thickened, 1-2 minutes.

5. Take the saucepan off the heat and add goat cheese and 3 egg yolks. Whisk until well-combined and then transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Set aside.

6. In another bowl, use an electric mixer (on high) to beat the 5 egg whites until soft peaks form.

7. Add the cream of tartar and beat until stiff peaks form.

8. Use a rubber spatula to gently fold half of the stiff-peaked whites into the goat cheese mixture. Add the broccoli and the rest of the stiff-peaked whites (gently!) and fold everything together until you can no longer see any white streaks.

9. Transfer the mixture to the soufflé dish.

10. Bake until it looks like the picture above, about 30 minutes. It’ll be firm to the touch and have an internal temperature of 160º.

11. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Parmesan-Crusted Chicken

Wednesday nights are always a little bit crazy. It’s hump day. We’re exhausted. We get home late from track, spinning or a group ride. The last thing we want to do is cook dinner, but of course, we’re hungry—we’re always hungry. If we’re lucky, we can reheat leftovers, but, like I said, we’re hungry and sometimes we finish the leftovers before we’re supposed to. So…we make a super-speedy dish, like this one.

(Adapted from The Food Network)

1/3 cup flour (we use brown rice flour)

chicken, cut into ½-inch-wide strips

1/3 cup skim milk

1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese

½ cup quick-cooking oats

¾ tsp garlic powder

¾ tsp onion powder

½ tsp dried oregano

½ cup fat-free sour cream

2 tsp Dijon mustard

2 tsp honey

1. Preheat oven to 400º and coat a baking sheet wit cooking spray.

2. Set up two shallow dishes and a zip-top bag. Place the flour in the first dish, the milk in the second dish and the parm, oats, garlic powder, onion powder and oregano in the zip-top bag. Dip the chicken pieces in the flour (turn to coat), then the milk and then drop them in the zip-top bag. Seal the bag and shake it to coat the chicken.

3. Place the coated chicken on the baking sheet and spray the chicken with cooking spray.

4. Bake for about 15 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and the crust is golden.

5. While the chicken cooks, whisk the sour cream, mustard and honey together in a small bowl.

6. Serve the chicken with the dipping sauce.