Saturday, January 24, 2015

Baked sweet potatoes with salsa verde and chipotle

Sweet potatoes (or yams) are one of nature's most perfect foods.  Their list of health benefits is impressive...they're packed with vitamins B6, C & D, iron, magnesium, potassium, antioxidants, beta carotene and other'll be warding off cancer, promoting anti-aging and managing stress by simply eating these tasty little sweeties.

Plus they are cheap and versatile and a satisfying plant-based entree...although they are a great side dish to any meat as well.  

Nothing could be easier than popping a few potatoes in the oven for an hour and adding these simple, bright toppings for some extra go ahead and get all healthy up in your kitchen!

Serves 4

4 small to medium orange-fleshed sweet potatoes (or yams)
olive oil
sea salt & fresh ground pepper
4 t. butter (optional)

salsa verde:

1/2 c. packed cilantro leaves
1/4 c. packed flat-leaf parsley leaves
2 green onions - whites & greens, sliced
1 small clove garlic, peeled & roughly chopped

1 t. lemon juice
1/2 t. sea or kosher salt & fresh ground pepper
1/4 c. olive oil

1 c. Greek yogurt
Chipotle hot sauce - I really like “Dan’s Prime Smoky Chipotle Sauce

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a rimmed sheet pan with aluminum foil.  Poke several holes in each sweet potato with a fork or paring knife.  Rub skins with olive oil.  Place in oven and cook for one hour.

Near the end of baking time, prepare the salsa verde.  Combine the cilantro, parsley, green onion, garlic, lemon juice, salt & pepper and olive oil in a mini food processor or blender.  Pulse in one second intervals until herbs are nicely chopped and ingredients are combined.  This sauce does not have to be totally smooth - it can be a little chunky.

Remove the sweet potatoes from oven.  Slice through the top skin to reveal the flesh, like a baked potato.   With a fork, gently mix the flesh of each potato with salt & pepper to taste, and 1 t. butter (optional).

Top each sweet potato with a dollop of Greek yogurt, a generous spoonful of salsa verde and a drizzle of chipotle sauce.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Immunity bowl

This past week our house has been hit with a round of colds.  It seems to happen every year around now... this post-holiday, middle of winter yuck.  Everyone I know has had the same sore throat, cough, stuffy nose, loss of voice, etc. Enough, already!

I decided to use this as a wake up call to boost our systems with healthy immunity-promoting foods (in addition to purchasing every supplement I could get my hands on at Whole Foods).  Out of my research came this yummy immunity rice bowl.

Each ingredient in this recipe is found on pretty much every list published regarding immunity foodsgarlic, ginger, Japanese mushrooms, chard (or any dark, leafy green - feel free to sub in your fav), pepitas (aka pumpkin seeds...lots of zinc in these), and sprouts.  

I used black Japonica rice because it is: a) gorgeous b) has a delish nutty taste, and c) is packed full of the same antioxidants found in blueberries and blackberries.  But feel free to use brown rice instead - it's still super healthy.

Be well out there!

Serves 2

1 c. black Japonica rice
2 t. finely chopped ginger - divided
2 t. finely chopped garlic - divided
2 t. vegetable oil
8 oz. shiitake mushrooms - stems removed & thickly sliced
1 T. soy sauce
1 t. Asian toasted sesame oil
1 bunch of chard, roughly chopped
kosher salt & pepper
1/4 c. roasted & salted pepitas
1/2 c. pea shoots or bean sprouts

Cook black Japonica rice according to directions on the package.  (One cup of dry rice will yield 2 cups of cooked rice.)

Heat vegetable oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat.  Add shiitake mushrooms and cook about 4 minutes, stirring only a couple times, allowing them to get nice and browned.  Add 1 t. garlic and 1 t. ginger, stir and cook one more minute.  Turn off heat and add the soy sauce.  Stir to combine.  Remove from pan.

Reheat the toasted sesame oil in the same large sauté pan over medium heat.  Add the chopped chard and cook until wilted - about 3 minutes.  Add the remaining teaspoon of ginger and garlic and sauté one more minute.  Season with salt & pepper to taste.

To serve, divide the rice between two bowls.  Top with sautéed chard and mushrooms.  Sprinkle pepitas and sprouts over the top.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Quinoa, beet and avocado bowl

It seems post-holiday, squeaky-clean eating is all the rage right now.  And believe you me, I am just as in need of it as the next gal (or dude). This month I will feature a few uber-healthy dishes to get your belly, body, mind and spirit all back on track from the sugar-, dairy-, meat-, and booze-fest that was December.

So here you have it...your vegetarian, dairy-free, whole grain, plant protein-infused, veggie-packed, seasonally-appropriate bowl of wholesome goodness.  The great thing about this recipe is that it's so delicious & satisfying (the beet-avocado combo is beyond) that you will want to eat this way all year round!

This recipe makes 4 servings so I make everything up without dressing the salad and keep it in my fridge for a week of healthy lunches!

Serves 4

4 small-medium beets, scrubbed & tops removed
1/2 c. sliced almonds
2 c. cooked quinoa (either warm or cooled - both would be delish)
1 ripe but firm avocado - diced
4 handfuls wild arugula
2 c. little gem or romaine hearts - torn into bite size pieces

1 small shallot - minced
1 small garlic clove - minced
large pinch of kosher or sea salt & fresh ground pepper
1 1/2 T. Dijon mustard
1 t. honey
1 t. orange zest
2 T. red wine vinegar
1/3 c. olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Wrap beets in foil and roast one hour.  Remove beets, carefully open foil and cool until you can handle them.  Slip skins off with your hands and dice.  Cool to room temperature. (Can be made up to 3 days ahead and stored in refrigerator)

Decrease oven temperature to 350.  Spread sliced almonds on a rimmed baking sheet in a single layer.  Toast in oven 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove and let cool.

In a small bowl, whisk together the shallot, garlic, S&P, Dijon, honey, orange zest and red wine vinegar.  Slowly drizzle in olive oil while whisking to emulsify. (Can also be made up to 3 days ahead and stored in refrigerator)

In a large bowl, toss the arugula, little gem (or romaine hearts), beets, avocado and almonds generously with the dressing (you may not use all the dressing).  Divide the quinoa (serve warm or cooled - your choice) into 4 bowls and top with the salad mixture.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Wine-braised brisket with tart cherries and carrots

Every year I host a Christmas Eve dinner with a group of families that have become our adopted family here in LA.  Usually I do fun, different versions of a So-Cal taco feast, but this year I am going to switch it up and make this wine-braised beef brisket.  It's going to be this, my Holiday mashed potatoes (you must try these babies if you haven't already) a bright, zesty salad and voila! - dinner is served.

It's fab for entertaining because you can make it a day or two ahead, if needed, and just reheat it before serving - it will actually be even tastier this way.  The braised meat with the tart cherries is beyond delicious and it also makes for a very pretty presentation.  

If you like short ribs, you will love this recipe - the braised meat is similar but there is much more of it and I actually like it better.  Plus, it's a great way to serve beef to a crowd.  I predict much plate-licking at my house on Christmas Eve! 

Happiest of holidays to you and yours!!

Serves 8

3 to 3 1/2 pound beef brisket
kosher salt & fresh ground pepper
1 t. vegetable oil
1 onion - chopped
3 cloves garlic - chopped
2 whole sprigs of rosemary
3 whole sprigs of thyme
1 c. red wine
2 c. chicken broth

1 c. peeled & sliced carrots
juice of half a lemon
1/2 t. cinnamon
2 T. brown sugar
1 t. kosher salt
fresh ground pepper
1/2 c. dried prunes
1 c. dried tart cherries

Season entire brisket generously with kosher salt and pepper.  Heat oil until very hot in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Sear brisket until deeply browned and caramelized on all sides - about 10 minutes total.  Remove brisket and set aside.  Wipe out excess fat with tongs and a paper towels, but leave the brown bits on the bottom of the pan.

Turn heat to medium and add onion.  Cook onions 5-7 minutes, stirring often, and then add garlic.  Cook for 1 minute more. Add wine, broth, whole herbs and return brisket to the pot.  (The leaves of the herbs will fall off their woody stems while cooking.)  Bring to a boil, lower heat to a simmer, and cover.  Cook 2 hours at a gentle simmer, turning brisket once or twice.

After two hours, add the carrots, lemon juice, cinnamon, brown sugar, salt & pepper, prunes and dried tart cherries.  Stir to combine ingredients in the liquid.  Return to a boil, lower heat to a simmer, cover and cook another 45 minutes.

Turn off heat, remove brisket and set aside. Remove woody stems left from the herbs.  Spoon any excess fat off the top of the liquid.  Bring the liquid in the pot to a rapid boil and allow to reduce 10 minutes. 

Cut the brisket across the grain into approximately 1/4 inch 

slices - it will be very tender.  Place on a platter and spoon the fruit and sauce on top of the meat.  Serve any extra sauce alongside the meat.  For a pretty presentation, garnish with fresh chopped herbs, if desired. 

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Roasted butternut squash lasagna

The flavors in this vegetarian, roasted butternut squash lasagne are such a comforting & unique combo.  It's slightly sweet-ish from roasting & caramelizing the veggies and combined with the earthy, nuttiness of the fontina cheese and creaminess of a classic bechamel sauce (don't be scared of this fancy French terminology - it's totally not hard to make!)'s pretty freaking phenomenal.

Give yourself some time to make this recipe - it's not one you want to try and bust out after work on a weeknight.  Lasagne's are notoriously a bit of a labor of love, but SO well worth the effort - and it makes great leftovers for later in the week!

To save a little time on this recipe, look for pre-cut butternut at the market - it's usually pretty plentiful this time of year.  I love to serve this dish with an arugula salad dressed simply with lemon, olive oil and S &'s a great bright, peppery balance with the sweet cheesiness of the lasagne.

Serves 8-10

8 c. butternut squash - peeled and cut into 1” cubes (about one,  2 1/2 - 3 pound squash)
1 onion, peeled and cut into 8 wedges (leave root end attached so they stay held together)
2-3 T. olive oil
1 t. chopped fresh rosemary
1 t. chopped fresh thyme
2 t. chopped fresh sage
kosher salt & fresh ground pepper
1/2 c. chicken or veggie broth
pinch of nutmeg

1 package fresh lasagne noodles (can sub regular lasagne noodles)

1/4 c. butter
1/4 c. all purpose flour
3 1/2 c. milk
salt & pepper to taste

2 1/2 c. grated fontina
1/4 c. grated parmesan

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Divide onion and squash between two rimmed baking sheets.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with herbs and salt & pepper. Gently toss with your hands to coat.  Place in oven and roast 45-55 minutes, stirring/flipping one or twice for even browning.  You are looking for a nice deep brown caramelization on the veggies.

While the veggies are roasting, cook lasagne noodles according to directions.  Drain, rinse well in cold water and keep very moist until you are ready to assemble lasagne.

Remove veggies and let them cool slightly.  Lower oven to 375 degrees.  Chop roasted onions.  Place butternut squash in large bowl with broth and mash with a potato masher until no large chunks remain.  Add onion and nutmeg to the squash and mix together.

To make béchamel, melt butter over medium heat in a large saucepan.  Add flour, whisk and cook for 1 minute.  Gradually add milk, whisking as you go.  Heat to boiling over medium-high heat.  Lower heat to medium-low and simmer 5 minutes, whisking often until thickened.  Season with salt & pepper to taste.

To assemble, spoon a little béchamel in the bottom of an oiled 

9 x 13 pan and spread to coat.  Place a layer of noodles and evenly spread half of the squash mixture, 1/3 of the fontina and 1/3 of the béchamel.  Repeat with another layer of noodles, the rest of the squash and another 1/3 of the fontina and béchamel. Finish with the last layer of noodles, the remaining 1/3 of the béchamel and fontina and sprinkle with Parmesan.

Cover with foil and bake 30 minutes.  Remove foil and bake 15 minutes more until cheese is browned.  Remove from oven and let sit 15 minutes before serving.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Udon noodle bowl with five-spice pork & shitake mushrooms

My whole family loves this satisfying, slurpy Asian noodle warming & delicious on these chilly nights.  The pork balls are amaze balls & so gratifying with the udon noodles, bok choy and shitake mushrooms.  

It's kind of like the Asian version of spaghetti and meatballs, but with some chicken soup mixed into it.  Obviously this meal = major comfort food.  If you like some heat, top it off with a little Sriracha or sambal oelek before serving.

Serves 4-6

1 pound ground pork
1 1/2 t. minced garlic
1 1/2 t. minced ginger
1 t. minced lemongrass
2 t. soy sauce
1 t. fish sauce
2 t. Thai sweet chili sauce
1 t. Chinese five-spice
1 egg - beaten
1/2 c. breadcrumbs or panko
1 t. vegetable oil

8 c. chicken broth

2 T. soy sauce
2, 4-inch pieces of lemongrass - bruised
1 3-inch piece of ginger cut into 4-5 slices
8 oz. shitake mushrooms, stemmed and thinly sliced
8 oz. udon noodles
4 c. packed chopped baby bok choy

Sriracha or sambal oelek (optional)

In a large bowl, combine pork, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, soy sauce, fish sauce, sweet chili sauce, five-spice, egg and panko.  Mix together using hands to combine ingredients thoroughly.  Form into 24-26 one and a half inch balls.

Heat one t. vegetable oil in a large soup pot over medium heat.  Cook meatballs until nicely browned and cooked through, about 8-9 minutes, stirring to brown evenly.  Remove from pot and wipe out excess oil with a paper towel.

Add chicken broth, soy sauce, lemongrass, and ginger slices to pot and heat until simmering.  Add pork balls and mushrooms and simmer 10 minutes.  Remove ginger slices and lemongrass. 

Add udon noodles and cook as directed on the package.  Do not overcook, or they start to get mushy & fall apart.  Add bok choy and simmer 1-2 minutes more.  Serve topped with a little Sriracha or sambal if you want a little spice.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Turkey black bean chipotle chili

This is a "use-up-your-leftover-Thanksgiving-turkey" recipe.  I always hope & wish for more leftovers than I actually end up with, but if you do have some extra bird, this is a great way to put it to good use.  The other lovely thing is, you can use this recipe any time of year because it is just as delish with chopped rotisserie chicken in lieu of turkey.

I love the chipotle pepper with the black beans in this recipe.  Use just one for a mild smokiness and use 2-3 for some pumped-up spiciness, if that's your thang.

I hope you all had a fantastic Thanksgiving filled with smiling faces & happy tummies.

Serves 6

1 T. olive oil
1 onion- chopped
3 cloves garlic - chopped
1 red pepper - diced
2 t. dried oregano
2 t. chili powder
1 t. cumin
2 t. kosher salt
1 T. tomato paste
1 T. brown sugar
grated zest of one orange
1-3 chipotle peppers in adobo, minced (depending on how spicy you like it)
4 c. chicken broth or turkey stock
2, 15-ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 small sweet potato, peeled and diced (about 1 cup)
1 c. fresh or frozen corn kernels
4 c. cooked, diced turkey (or chicken)
1/4 c. cilantro - chopped

garnishes: shredded jack or cheddar cheese, chopped cilantro & sour cream

In a large soup pot, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add onion and cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add garlic and red pepper and cook for 3-4 minutes. Next, add oregano, chili powder, cumin, salt, tomato paste, brown sugar, orange zest and chipotle peppers to the pot and stir to combine flavors.  Cook for 2 minutes.

Add chicken broth and bring to a boil.  Add black beans, sweet potato & corn and return to a boil.  Lower heat to medium-low and let simmer for about an hour.

Add diced turkey and chopped cilantro and simmer 5 more minutes.  Serve in bowls and garnish with shredded cheese, chopped cilantro and a dollop of sour cream.