Fall Farro Salad with Fennel + Pear

I'm not really into grain salads but this one has so many foods I do like.  Like fennel - I just don't use Fennel enough.  Eat this on it's own or serve it tossed with the kale.  

Hot chile sesame oil and tamari soy sauce, together, have become my new favorite condiment.  They make everything taste so perfect.  So, of course I drizzles both over this and it did not disappoint.  Give it a try!

Serves 4.

Fall Farro Salad with Fennel + Pear

2/3 cups uncooked farro

1/2 a fennel bulb, cored, thinly sliced

1 small red onion, halved, thinly sliced

1 pear, cored, chopped

2 tablespoons sunflower seeds

1/2 cup feta cheese

olive oil

s + p  (easy on the S - there's a bit of salt from the cheese and seeds already)

lemon juice

1 bunch kale leaves, chopped (optional)

1 clove garlic, minced (optional)

Combine farro with about 4 cups water. Bring to a boil and cook until farro is tender but not falling apart, about 20 minutes. Drain.  

Toss farro with fennel, onion, pear, sunflower seeds, feta and a drizzle of olive oil.  Season with salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste. 

If using kale, steam kale in 1/4 cup water in a covered pan until tender, about 2 minutes.  Drain, return pan to stove, push kale to side of pan. On empty side, cook garlic in dash of oil, about 1 minute.  Stir together with kale.  Season with a squeeze of lemon and a small pinch salt. Toss with farro salad.


Roasted Broccoli

It's fall, so you can turn that oven on again.  Broccoli is a staple in our house.  Usually, we keep blanched broccoli in the fridge.  Cameron likes to snack on it and I warm it up with a drizzle of soy sauce and spicy sesame oil.  I'd actually never made it in the oven but the main dish I was serving had roasted elements that I thought would pair well with a roasted vegetable.  It's also nice to keep things easy with sides that don't need much attention during cooking.  I like unattended sides. 

I used baby broccoli but the normal stuff will do fine.  

Serves 2-4.

Roasted Broccoli

8 oz broccoli, cut into large bite sized pieces

2 tablespoons olive oil

s + p

1 clove garlic, minced

juice of one lemon

grated parmesan cheese

Heat oven to 425 degrees.  In a bowl, toss broccoli with olive oil, salt, pepper and minced garlic. Arrange on baking tray and roast about 20 minutes.  Broccoli will be tender. Immediately, squeeze lemon over broccoli and top with grated cheese. Serve hot.    

Pear Crumble Bars

What the hell are these things called?  Is crumble bar right?  Or is it pie bar or crumb bar?  I really don't know.  I'm saying, with some uncertainty, crumble bars.  They are made with a sweet tart dough layered with fruit and more of the dough crumbled on top.  Don't make them!  Seriously, I feel the same way I feel about french fries as I do crumble bars: I wish I'd never had them so I wouldn't have to be plagued by cravings for their unhealthy deliciousness.  Curse you french fries and crumble bars, curse you. 

On a different note, feel free to use apples instead of pears, if you like. 

Makes one 8" x 8" pan of bars.

Pear Crumble Bars

1/2 cup sugar

1 1/2 cup all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 oz cold butter, cubed

1 egg, beaten

2 pears, cored, sliced

juice of 1/2 a lemon

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

Heat oven to 375 degrees.  Line an 8" x 8" baking pan with a square of parchment paper on the bottom.  Set aside.

Whisk together sugar, flour, baking powder and salt.  Add butter cubes, working with a pastry cutter or your hands or a stand mixer with a paddle attachment until mixture resembles a course sand.  Add beaten egg.  Work until dough comes together.  

Press 2/3 of dough into bottom of pan.  Try to keep it even.  Toss pear slices with lemon juice, sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon and ginger.  Top crust with fruit.  Spread it into an at least somewhat even layer.  Crumble remaining dough on top of fruit.  Lightly press down into fruit.  Bake about 50 minutes until top is golden brown.  Cool before cutting.  

Them ask someone to hide them so you don't eat them all. 

Roasted Pepper + Sausage Pasta

A nice alternative to a tomato sauce pasta night.  Roasted bell peppers, red onion and pork sausage make this perfect on a chillier night.  And isn't roasting peppers fun?  I love rubbing off the charred skin and seeing how their texture has totally changed.  Here's a tip:  yellow and orange peppers are almost impossible to tell the difference between once they have been roasted.  

Use any type of sausage that sounds good to you.  I recommend italian or herbed styles.

Serves 6.

Roasted Pepper + Sausage Pasta

8 oz pasta (your choice, I like spaghetti)

3 bell peppers (red, yellow or orange)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 red onion, halved, thinly sliced

10 oz pork sausage, casing discarded

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon chile flakes

s + p

grated parmesan cheese

Boil pasta until al dente.  Drain, set aside.  Turn gas range onto high.  Place whole bell peppers directly onto range. Blacken completely on all sides.  Place in bowl, cover with plastic wrap for 20 minutes.  Rub off skins, discard stem and seeds.  Slice into strips.  Set aside. 

In a large skillet, over medium heat, warm olive oil.  Add onions, cook until soft.  Add sausage, cook completely.  Add garlic, oregano and chile flakes, cook, stirring, about 1 minute.  Add cooked pasta and roasted pepper slices.  Cook until all is hot. Transfer to bowl and toss with cheese.  Season with salt and pepper. 


Butter Lemon Herb Poached Potatoes

It's a buttery starch but it's brightened with lemon and fresh herbs.  Really pleasant, these potatoes.  For me, sides should be easy and not require too much prep nor attention during cooking.  These fit the bill.  

Serves 4.

Butter Poached Potatoes + Lemon + Thyme

1 lb potatoes, in large pieces

1 tablespoon butter

1.5 cups stock, chicken or vegetable

4 thyme sprigs

2 garlic cloves, smashed

lemon juice, to taste

s + p, to taste

In a covered saucepan, simmer potatoes, butter, stock, thyme and garlic until potatoes are soft, about 25 minutes.  Uncover, remove from heat.  Season with lemon juice, salt and pepper. Serve warm.


Classic Beef Stew

My mom used to make a delicious beef stew when I was young.  It was my absolute favorite - I could eat bowls and bowls of it.  I had a hankering for it this weekend that couldn't be stopped. Here's my version, it's pretty close to the original with super tender bites of meat, satisfying root vegetables and a hearty beef flavor.  I think it was the chilly pre autumn evenings that put me in the mood for something so filling and warm.  Feel free to add peas or corn to this along with the green beans, if you'd like more vegetables.  

Cooking time will greatly depend on the size of your stew meat pieces.  For something like this, that I'm eating like soup, I prefer the meat to be bite sized.  Think no bigger than a ping pong ball.  It will take less time to become tender and is easier to eat.  

Serves 6-8.

Classic Beef Stew

4 sprigs fresh thyme

2 bay leaves

1 teaspoon black peppercorns

1 teaspoon dried rosemary

1 teaspoon mustard seeds

3 lbs lean stew beef, in bite sized pieces

s + p

3 tablespoons flour

high heat oil, as needed

1 large yellow onion (or two small), chopped

4 cloves garlic, chopped

1 tomato, peeled, seeded, diced

2 quarts beef stock

4 carrots, peeled, chopped

2 potatoes, peeled, chopped

zest of 1 lemon, in long strips, no pith

1/4 teaspoon chile flakes

2 cups chopped green beans

Gather thyme, bay leaves, rosemary, peppercorns and mustard seeds in cheesecloth and secure with string.  Set aside.  Secure lemon zest with strips with string, set aside. 

Season meat with salt and pepper.  Toss with flour. In a large pot, over high heat, brown meat. Try for a deep brown crust. Work in batches to avoid crowding the pan.  Add more oil, as needed during browning.  Set browned meat aside. 

Add onion, cook until browned, stirring, to avoid burning.  Add garlic and tomato, cook until browned.  Add stock, beef, accumulated juices and spice sachet to pot.  Bring to boil, cover and reduce to a simmer.  Simmer until beef is tender, about 1.5 hours.  Skim any fat or foam from surface.  

Add carrots, potatoes, chile flakes and lemon zest bundle.  Boil, uncovered, until vegetables are tender.  Add green beans.  Turn off heat, season with salt and pepper.  Remove spice sachet and lemon zest bundle before serving. 

Mexican Quinoa Skillet

This is a one pot meal.  Minimal prep, mostly unattended cooking.  Like everything on this blog, we're going to eat it in a bowl with sautéed kale.  This would also be a great burrito filling.  I like burritos.  

Serves 4.

Mexican Turkey + Quinoa Skillet

1 lb ground lean turkey breast

small splash olive oil

1 small yellow onion, minced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon chile powder

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 cup uncooked quinoa

1 cup corn kernels (fresh or frozen)

1 15 oz tin diced tomatoes

15 oz water

1 15oz tin kidney beans, drained, rinsed

In a large skillet, over medium heat, saute onion and garlic until soft.  Add turkey and spices, breaking it up meat with spoon, cook until no longer pink.  Stir in quinoa, corn, tomatoes and water.  Bring to a simmer and cover.  Cook until thick and most of the water is evaporated, about 20 minutes.  Stir in beans to until warmed thru.  

Serve with tortillas, chips, avocado, sour cream, grated cheese, picked jalapeños... whatever you got.


Cornmeal Oven Chicken

Sometimes I just need crispy chicken but I don't want to break out a gallon of oil for frying.  This is the perfect stand in: crispy and flavorful.  

Serves 4.

Cornmeal Crusted Chicken

2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast

1/2 cup  buttermilk

1 tablespoon franks red hot sauce

2 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons black pepper

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

2/3 cup cornmeal

1/3 cup bread crumbs

Slice the chicken into 1/2 inch strips.  Toss with buttermilk and hot sauce. Cover and place in the fridge to marinate at least 1 hour. 

Whisk together salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder with cornmeal and bread crumbs.  

Remove chicken from buttermilk, letting extra drip off.  Coat each piece in breading mixture. (Breaded pieces may be held in fridge until ready to cook.  This will help the breading dry out and become crispier when cooked.)

When ready to cook, heat oven to 425 degrees.  Arrange strips on an oiled or lined sheet tray. Bake 15 minutes, flip and bake 10 minutes more.  

Spicy Blackened Tomato Sauce

This recipe makes about 4 pints of spicy, flavorful tomato sauce.  I had a grab bag of fresh-from- the-garden tomatoes (Thanks, Mom!) like plum, cherry and regular so feel free to use whatever you have.  I kept out one pint for dinner and the rest are labelled and headed for the freezer.  If  you do not like it SPICY, halve or omit the chile flakes.  

Spicy Blackened Tomato Sauce

small splash high heat oil

8 garlic cloves, peeled

1 yellow onion, peeled, quartered

4 pounds tomatoes, cored as needed

1 teaspoon chile flakes

1 handful fresh basil leaves

2 tablespoons olive oil

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Toss garlic cloves and onion in a small splash of oil.  Arrange on large baking sheet.  Place in oven.  

Heat a cast iron skillet or griddle over high heat.  Once HOT, add tomatoes, starting with your larger ones if using different types.  Turn tomatoes as needed, letting them blacken on each side. Transfer them to the sheet tray in the oven as the are ready.  (They are ready when the have black spots on each side, the skin starts to peel or they start to cook down.)  Once all the tomatoes are seared and in the oven, let it all roast 30 minutes.  Everything, including the garlic cloves should be very soft and blend-able.  

Remove tray from oven and transfer contents to a heat proof bowl.  Add chile flakes, basil and olive oil.  Use an immersion blender to blend until smooth.  Serve while hot or let cool completely, portion, label and freeze. 


Greek Chicken Wraps + Marinade

I know, you just saw the greek chicken burgers a couple weeks ago.  But I did mention that I'm obsessed with that medley of flavors.  It's so summery.  Perfect of the grill and eating outside. I'm not ready to let go of summer.  If you're one of the many who are declaring "I'm ready for Fall!" I'm not with you on this.  You can keep your sweater weather, your layering of clothing, your sand free lives, your pumpkin spice, your pork recipes, your sensibly stored patio furniture cushions, your apple picking and your beautiful changing foliage - OK, maybe Fall is great.  I'm won over by the pumpkin stuff, the pork recipes and the fact that apple picking is usually followed by candy apple making and eating.  

Anyway... since it's still summer, let's marinate some chicken in my still favorite flavors and fire up the grill while wearing some cutoff shorts while we still can, yes?

Serves 4.

Mediterranean Chicken Marinade + Wraps

for the marinade

2 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons lemon juice (about 1/2 a lemon)

1 garlic clove, minced

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon dried parsley

1/4 teaspoon chile flakes

for serving

flat bread wraps or pita

chopped lettuce

feta cheese

tzatziki sauce

thinly sliced red onion tossed in red wine vinegar + salt

Whisk together all marinade ingredients. 

Pound chicken breasts so they are of even thickness.  (I just pound the top of the breast as thin as the thinner bottom. You can do this in a plastic bag or in plastic wrap for easier clean up.)

Toss chicken breast in marinade.  Cover and place in fridge.  Let marinate about 30 minutes.  

Remove chicken and cook.  In a pan or on a grill, about 5 minutes on each side over medium high heat.  Let rest 5 minutes and slice.  Make sandwich wraps with pita, lettuce, feta, tzatziki and pickled onions. 




Zucchini Spice Bread

Hmmm... what to do with all your extra zucchini?  If you have a garden, you know what I mean.  I don't have one, but my mother does and on a visit this last weekend she arrived with about 8 pounds of tomatoes and 3 giant zucchinis.  Awesome.  The tomatoes you'll see in sauce and soup form soon.  Cameron isn't crazy about zucchini squash but doesn't everyone like zucchini bread?  I know I do.  

Other things you can do with your zucchini?  Shred it, bag it, freeze it.  Make noodles out of it, sneak long thin slices into lasagna, grill it and sprinkle it with vinegar, make a gratin, make a pizza, ratatouille....  Not that any of these suggestions matter because you're just going to make it into this bread, aren't you?  

This quick bread is well spiced, mild on the zucchini flavor with a moist crumb.  It's not too sweet.

Makes 1 loaf. 

Zucchini Bread

3 cups grated zucchini  + 1 tablespoon sugar

2 cups all purpose flour

3/4 cups sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons grape seed oil

1/2 cup buttermilk

zest of 1 lemon

Toss grated zucchini with the tablespoon sugar.  Place it in a strainer set over a bowl.  You will be amazed how much water this gets out.  Leave it there while you do everything else.  

Heat oven to 375.  Line a loaf pan with parchment paper and lightly oil.  Set aside.  

Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice.  In another bowl, whisk oil, butter milk and lemon zest.  Press out any extra water from zucchini.  Combine zucchini and buttermilk mixture with the dry ingredients until flour is hydrated.  Do not over mix.  Smooth into loaf pan.  Bake 55-60 minutes.  (When cake is done, it will feel firm and springy and an inserted toothpick will come out clean.)  Let cool.  

Funfetti Birthday Cake

I really like baking cakes.  I also really like when someone has a birthday so I can make them a cake.  Not just any cake but a BDAY CAKE!!!!   Birthday cakes have to be special.  They're a big part of the birthday celebration and should be glorious.  This one is lightly flavored with lemon and pops with colorful sprinkles that are mixed into the batter.  The edible gold glitter helps, too.

Edible glitter can be found at cake baking supply shops and Amazon.  The one used on this cake is Disco Dust which is an extra fine, non toxic, edible glitter.  It does get everywhere - all the cake eaters had gold glitter on their faces from it but it's pretty so who cares. 

Serves 20 people. (Yea, it's a big one.)

Confetti Cake

3 1/2 cups cake flour

4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

6 oz unsalted butter, room temperature

2 1/2 cups sugar

2 teaspoons lemon zest

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

15 oz whole milk

6 egg whites

1/2 cup sprinkles

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease three 9 inch cake pans.  Place a 9 inch round of parchment paper in the bottom of each, butter the paper.  Set aside.

Sift flour, baking powder and salt together into a bowl.  Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar until very light, about 4 minutes.  Add lemon and vanilla.  In another bowl, whisk milk and egg whites.  

With the mixer running, add 1/3 for the flour mixture to the creamed sugar butter.  Next, add 1/3 of the milk eggs, do this 2 more times until everything is in the mixer bowl.  Fold in the sprinkles.

Pour equal amounts into each prepared cake pan.  Bake until edges are light gold, centers are set and a toothpick tests clean.  It's about 25-30 minutes.  Remove from oven, cool in pan 5 minutes. Invert and cool completely on rack.  (Don't forget to remove the paper!  Seriously, I've seen it happen.)  

Once completely and totally cooled, you may frost it.  I recommend a swiss meringue buttercream, if you're up for a fun/frustrating challenge.

I was not.  The first buttercream I made failed and I did not wish to make another one.  So, went for something super light and not too sweet.  I used a stabilized, sweetened whipped cream frosting.  It is delicious but not to best for layered cakes as it tends to push out the sides as it's cut.  If you're interested:  In a small saucepan, whisk 1 cup powdered sugar with 8 teaspoons corn starch.  Whisk in 1 cup heavy cream.  Cook, stirring constantly until thickened (will coat the back of a spoon.)  Let this pudding you have just made cool completely, even chill it if you can.  In a chilled bowl with chilled beaters/whisk, whisk 5 cups heavy cream to loose soft peaks then whisk in cooled pudding until stiff peaks form, less than 5 minutes.  Don't over beat past the stiff peaks or you'll ruin it.  



Greek Chicken Burgers

I'm open to all types of burgers but at home I mostly make them with poultry.  Chicken and turkey burgers can be a little boring and very dry so it's helpful to spice them up a bit.  I recently discovered a popular greek place in our new neighborhood that I am now obsessed with.  The gyros are soooo dreamy.  (Yes, a sandwich can be dreamy!)  Because I'm too embarrassed to order from them every single night, I've been cooking up a lot of greek inspired foods for dinner here at home.  Think feta, red onion, olive oil, sea salt, spinach, garlic, lemon, parsley and oregano.  If you like what you're reading - this non-boring burger recipe is for you. 

Makes 4 burgers.

Greek Chicken Burgers

2 BIG handfuls of spinach leaves

1/2 cup finely diced red onion

1 clove garlic, minced

juice of 1/2 a lemon

s + p

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon dried parsley

1/4 teaspoon red chile flakes

1/3 - 1/2 cup feta

1 lb ground chicken

Cook spinach in a pan with a splash of water until it begins to wilt.  Remove from pan and squeeze out as much water as you can with your hands.  Chop.  

Combine spinach with all remaining ingredients except of chicken.  Add chicken, mix.  Form into 4 burger patties.  

Heat a skillet oven medium high heat.  Lightly oil skillet.  (I like to use a spray bottle filled with grape seed oil for things like this.)  Cook patties until browned, about 5 minutes, flip, cook until browned.  



Strawberry Banana Biscuits

My new breakfast!  Probably good other parts of the day, too.  I think biscuit is my new favorite word.  

I've been wanting to make these forever but was procrastinating working on a recipe but today, I woke up feeling energized, needing to bake and craving biscuits.  A winning combination. The outcome being these tender biscuits that are a bit sweet, fruity with a hint of banana and bites of fresh strawberry.  

Makes about 16 biscuits (2.5") 

Strawberry Banana Biscuits

2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 cup sugar

3 tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces

1 cup well mashed banana (about 1 large)

1/3 cup sliced strawberries

1/3 cup buttermilk (more or less)

Heat oven to 450 degrees.  Lightly grease baking tray.  Set aside.

Whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and sugar.  Add cold butter, work into flour with fingers until butter pieces are very small but visible.  Stir in banana and strawberries.  Slowly add buttermilk until dough comes together.  It will be slightly sticky.  Adjust with more flour or more buttermilk, as needed.  Give it a couple quick kneads.  

On a floured surface, flatten dough to 1/2" thick.  Use a 2-3 inch sized biscuit cutter or drinking glass to cut biscuits.  (Dip in flour if it starts to stick.  Arrange biscuits on tray.  Bake 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown.  (The best way to check is to pick one up off the tray, turn it over and look for a nice toasty, color and texture.)  


Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Granola

I used a week of hiking in Maine as an excuse to make this peanut buttery granola.  It's a chunky granola, somewhere in between loose and bars.  It's tasty and works for snacking or as a sundae topping, too.  

This can be prepared as a looser granola by not pressing into a rectangular form before baking and then stirring once of twice during baking for even cooking.  If you prefer bars, double the peanut butter and honey. 

Makes about 1 quart. 

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Granola

1/4 cup peanut butter

3 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons neutral oil

2 cups rolled oats

2 tablespoon roasted, salted sunflower seeds

1/2 teaspoon chia seeds

1/4 cup mini chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix peanut butter, honey and oil until smooth and well combined.  Stir in oats, sunflower seeds, chia seeds and mini chips.  Stir until all is coated and sticky.

Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat.  Transfer granola mixture to mat, use a spatula to form a rectangle, pressing in sides and top to help the granola stick together during baking.

Bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes. Let cool.  Break up into large pieces. 

Chorizo + Tomato Vegetable Soup

A quick stroll through the farmers market will get you all the things you need to make for this soup.  It's smoky, spicy, salty and a little sweet from all the peek season summer vegetables. Chorizo is a fresh Mexican sausage made from pork and spiced with paprika.  It can be found in most butcher shops and grocery stores.  I held back on it so if you like a meatier soup use 1 pound chorizo.  

Makes 6 servings.

Chorizo + Tomato Vegetable Soup

small splash high heat oil

8oz chorizo sausage, casings discarded

1 yellow onion, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 carrots, peeled, finely chopped

1 poblano chile, stemmed, seeded, finely chopped

1 tin diced tomatoes

1 quart vegetable stock

1 1/2 cup diced new potatoes

1 teaspoon dreid oregano

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 bay leaf

kernels from 2 ears of corn

1 cup green beans, chopped

s + p

lemon juice

Heat a pot over medium high heat.  Add oil.  Add chorizo, cook until browned and set aside.  Return pot to stove, lower heat to medium.  Add onions, cook until soft and glossy, about 8 minutes.  Add garlic, carrots and poblano chile, cook 4 minutes, stirring.  Add reserved chorizo, tomatoes, stock, potatoes, oregano, cumin, paprika and bay leaf.  Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer.  Let simmer 20 minutes.  Add corn and green beans.  Simmer 10 minutes more.  Adjust seasoning with salt, pepper and lemon juice.  


Zucchini Pizzas

It's not pizza, but it is a gluten free, vegetable thing that will remind you of pizza.  This is perfect if you have any zucchini-zillas growing in your garden.  The wider the zucchini, the better.  I think this would also be great using portobello mushroom caps instead.  (Or in addition, you could mix and match your veggies!)

Serves 2-4.

Zucchini Pizza Bites

1 large, mega zucchini, cut into 3/4" slices

 olive oil

s + p

1 cup tomato sauce

1 - 1 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Toppings:  olives, onion, pepperoni...

Heat oven to 375 degrees.  Brush both sides of zucchini slices with olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper.  Arrange on baking tray.  Place in oven and cook 12 minutes.  

Remove from oven and top with sauce, cheese and desired toppings.  Return to oven and bake 10 minutes more.  

Plum Upside Down Cake

This cake is incredibly easy.  The hardest part is deciding how to layer the plum slices.   I whipped this up in between an afternoon at the beach and a backyard dinner.  (A quick one!)  It's really the perfect balance of fresh summer fruit and sweet cake.  Feel free to substitute peaches or nectarines for the plums. 

Makes 1 cake. 

Plum Upside Down Cake

2 tablespoons butter, room temp

about 1/3 cup light brown sugar

2-3 ripe plums,pitted, thinly sliced

1 2/3 cup cake flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/3 cup butter, room temp

1 cup sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup milk

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease the inside of a 9 inch cake pan with the 2 tablespoons of butter. Make sure to get the sides and corners.  Sprinkle with the brown sugar.  Be very liberal with the butter and sugar.  Arrange fruit slices on along base of pan, extend to sides if you like. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, whisk flour, salt and baking powder together.  Set aside.  In another bowl, whisk butter and sugar until light.  Beat in egg and vanilla.  Add the dry ingredients in two or three batches, alternating with the milk, until batter is smooth but not over mixed.  

Pour into prepared cake pan, over fruit.  Gently smooth top if needed. Bake 40-45 minutes or until fully baked.  Remove from oven and let cool in pan 5 minutes.  Run knife along edges to loosen.  Invert cake onto plate and serve.  

Vegan Bowl + Dill Mustard Sauce

Vegan bowls!  I love these.  Perfect for lunch because it has a little bit of everything.  This one has flavors of dill, mustard and caraway seed.  This recipe came about after visiting the Ithaca Farmer's Market and tasting several sauerkrauts by Crooked Carrot.  They make raw, live culture products using local produce.  I picked up their Original Kraut and immediately began working on a 'bowl' recipe suitable for this pristine, classic sauerkraut.  And here you have it.  

Also, if you haven't had tempeh - try it!  It has a firm chewy texture and an earthy taste.  It's made of fermented soy beans and has more protein and fiber than tofu.  

Serves 4.

Tempeh Vegan Bowl + Dill Mustard Sauce

for the bowl

1 tablespoon tamari soy sauce

8oz tempeh

4 large handfuls of chopped kale

small splash olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced

pinch red chile flakes

lemon juice, to taste

1 cup quinoa

1 teaspoon poppy seeds

3 carrots, peeled into ribbons

1 cup sauerkraut

for the sauce

2 teaspoon olive oil

1 shallot, minced

1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds

2 cups vegetable or chicken stock

2 teaspoons dijon mustard

s + p

fresh dill, finely chopped

Cook the tempeh: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice tempeh into 1/4 inch slices and drizzle with tamari.  Arrange on tray and bake 8 minutes or until golden brown.  

Cook kale:  Add about 1/4 cup water to a large saute pan.  Bring to a boil.  Add kale.  Cover and cook until kale wilts, about 1 minute.  Drain.  Return to medium high heat.  Push kale to one side of pan.  On the bare side, heat splash olive oil with minced garlic and chile flakes.  Cook until garlic softens and toss with kale.  Season with salt, pepper and lemon juice.  

Cook quinoa:  Combine quinoa and 2 cups of water in a small sauce pan.  Cover, bring to a boil. Reduce to low heat and simmer 15 minutes or until water is absorbed and quinoa is soft.  Stir in poppy seeds.  

Cook mustard dill sauce:  In a saute pan, over medium heat, warm olive oil.  Add shallots and caraway seeds.  Saute until shallots are soft and mixture is fragrant.  Turn up heat to high and add stock.  Boil until liquid is reduced by half.  Remove from heat and stir in mustard.  Season with salt, pepper and lemon juice.  Liberally, toss with quinoa and stir in as much dill as you like.  Save extra sauce of drizzling over finished bowls.  

Assemble the bowls:  Spoon dressed quinoa into bowl. Top with sautéed kale, tempeh, raw carrot ribbons and sauerkraut.  Drizzle with extra mustard sauce if you like. 



Turkey Chili

Another easy dinner idea.  This is a meatier chili than I normally make.  It has lots of protein and little fat because of the lean ground turkey.  Serve over brown rice and kale.  Everything's instantly better with a bit of kale, isn't it?  

Serves 6.

Turkey Chili

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 yellow onion, finely diced

1 jalapeno, stemmed, seeded, minced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 lb lean ground turkey breast

s + p

1 14 oz tin diced tomatoes

14oz chicken stock

1 14oz tin black beans, drained, rinsed

1 14oz tin chickpeas, drained, rinsed

1 14oz tin kidney beans, drained, rinsed

2 tablespoons cumin

1-2 tablespoon chile powder, to taste

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Warm oil in a pot, over medium heat.  Add onions, jalapeños and garlic.  Cook until soft, about 8 minutes.  Season turkey with salt, pepper and add to pot.  Cook until browned.  Break meat up with a spoon while it cooks.  Stir in tomatoes, stock, beans, cumin, chile powder and cinnamon.  

Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer.  Simmer 15 minutes.  Adjust seasoning as desired.  Serve hot.