Friday, October 14, 2016

Fall Food! Easy & Healthy Slow Cooker Soups

Rosemary White Bean Soup

This dump-and-go hearty soup is SO easy, and the finished product can be as low-fat or as decadent as you like! Canned white beans pack a fiber punch and take on any flavor you add to them - serve drizzled with olive oil, top with a dollop of kale pesto, or Greek yogurt and finely chopped rosemary to garnish :)


1 yellow onion, large dice
4 garlic cloves, crushed
2 cans white beans (low sodium if available)
2-4 sprigs rosemary
4 cups vegetable stock or bone broth, or just enough to cover
Salt and pepper to taste
1 lemon
Olive oil or half and half, to taste

Dump first four ingredients into slow cooker. Add just enough liquid to cover ingredients, or more if simmering all day. Add 1 tsp pepper and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt (more if using unsalted homemade stock and low sodium beans).

Cook on low at least four hours. While hot, or when cool enough to handle, purée in a blender or Nutribullet in batches, adding the zest and juice of one lemon and 3 tablespoons olive oil if using. Pour blended soup into a pot and keep warm.

Add half and half to taste, if needed, and season generously with salt and pepper.

Roasted Carrot Miso Soup

Miso paste can be found at your local Asian market or other specialty food store. It is very salty, so be sure to use low sodium broth or plain water and add miso one tablespoon at a time until the flavor suits you. The carrots I used were extra sweet, so I added almost four tablespoons miso, but with milder vegetables you may need less.


1 yellow onion, roughy chopped
2 pounds carrots, roughly chopped
1 tsp pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 inch knob ginger, peeled
4 cups water or stock (I used starchy water left over from boiling potatoes)
3-4 tablespoons white miso paste (find at Asian markets or other specialty stores)

Preheat onion to 400. Prepare two baking sheets with foil.

Chop the carrot and coat with a little more than half the olive oil and pepper. Spread out on baking sheet and roast on top middle rack. Repeat with onion and roast on bottom rack. Check after 20 minutes, as onion may cook quickly, and carrots may take up for 40 minutes or longer depending on size. When the vegetables are somewhat browned on the edges, they are done.

Deglaze the carrots with water if they are stuck to the pan. Transfer the cooked onions, carrots and any liquid to a slow cooker. Add crushed garlic and just enough water or stock to cover.

Cook on low for 8 hours. Add ginger and purée in blender or Nutribullet in batches, adding miso paste as you go and more water if needed to blend. Taste for seasoning. Serve garnished with cilantro, crushed cashews or Sriracha!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Smoked Trout Salad

Who needs icky canned tuna when you've got a boo with a smoker?  Last weekend Dave went all out and smoked everything he could find - pork tenderloin and shoulder, a couple trout, AND a whole duck.  (He gave up before trying to smoke some cheese.)  Next on the list is some smoked salt!

This tasty salad is a perfect vehicle for all that tender fish - basically a classic tuna salad with some peppery arugula thrown in: crunchy celery, red onion and a bright lemony dressing.  Dill would be a great addition too!  This makes a great protein source, a spread for crackers, and tastes even better the next day.

As I've mentioned before, I'm not big into using prepared mayonnaise, but here I've used that organic avocado oil mayo I got for free!  It's definitely faster than making mayo from scratch, but I always do this to make it a little lower calorie: instead of all mayo, I substitute one part dijon mustard and one part fat-free greek yogurt, plus add a squeeze of lemon for freshness.  It really helps!

I still have a lot of smoked trout left - maybe some dip is in my future? :)

Smoked Trout Salad

1 pound smoked trout, flaked, skin and large bones removed
2-3 celery ribs, finely chopped
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
1 cup packed arugula leaves
1 tablespoon organic mayonnaise
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 tablespoon greek yogurt
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Salt and pepper to taste (depending on the saltiness of the fish)

In a mixing bowl, combine the mayo, mustard, yogurt and lemon juice.  Whisk to combine.

Add the fish and vegetables to the bowl and fold into dressing.  Season with pepper and salt if necessary. 

Chill or serve immediately.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Shrimp Cakes with Lemon Parmesan Arugula Salad

So I only came up with this recipe to use up bread crumbs!  When Dave makes fresh homemade whole-grain bread for me, there's always that last little bit that goes stale before we use it up, or little odds and ends that are too small to toast. I always end up saving those pieces because I hate for any of his handmade bread to to go to waste (also, I can't throw anything away. I'm a crazy food recycler). I tossed all those frozen pieces into my food processor to make bread crumbs, and now I've been busy baking up vegetable gratins, meatloaf and these shrimp cakes to use them up! I think meatballs may be in my future :-D

Use a measuring scoop to get these shrimp cakes evenly sized  - this recipe yielded about six, perfect for two to split! You could substitute crab for the shrimp, but it's harder to get the cakes to stick together while flipping because the meat is already cooked.  Instead you could bake these (with shrimp, crab or other seafood) at 400 for about 15 minutes if preferred.

Shrimp Cakes

1 egg, beaten
1 lb raw shrimp, roughly chopped 
3/4 cup fresh bread crumbs
3 chopped scallions
1-3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 tsp Old Bay seasoning
scant tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
Zest of one lemon
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Chop the shrimp in a food processor, pulsing intermittently, until shrimp pieces are roughly chopped but before it turns to paste.

In a large bowl, whisk the egg until combined. Add all remaining ingredients and fold until well mixed.

Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Using a 1/2 cup measure, scoop the shrimp mixture and form into patties. Saute four minutes per side, or until lightly browned and crispy.


Serve with aioli and arugula salad, recipes below:

Lemon Parmesan Arugula Salad

3 tbs extra virgin olive oil
3 tbs lemon juice
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp honey
Pinch each salt and pepper
1/2 cup Parmigiano Reggiano or other good quality hard, salty cheese
5 cups arugula

Combine first five ingredients in a bowl and whisk until combined.  Add half the cheese and stir.

Add arugula and fold to combine; top with remaining cheese.

I made aioli following these two recipes.  The second is easier, but the first tastes better!  I NEVER use mayo - but recently made an exception to try this Primal Kitchen Organic Avocado Oil Mayonnaise.  Get it for FREE like I did by signing up for a free trial of Thrive Market!

Aioli recipe from scratch via Chowhound:

Easier Epicurious recipe here:

Monday, March 28, 2016

Triple Coconut Cream Pie

1.5 cups dried unsweetened coconut
1.5 cups dried frozen coconut (found at my local Asian market)
3-4 tablespoons coconut oil
3-4 tablespoons maple syrup

Bake at 325 on upper middle rack for 8-12 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool while preparing filling.

3 eggs
2 cans coconut milk
1/2 cup arrowroot flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 pinch salt
3/4 cup dried unsweetened coconut

Blend first five ingredients and cook in a saucepan over medium high heat, whisking constantly, until thickened. When custard has a thick pudding-like consistency, stir in the coconut. Pour into crust and chill for four hours or overnight.

1 pint heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 capful vanilla extract
1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut, lightly toasted

Whip the cream, syrup and vanilla on high with a stand or hand mixer. Pile the whipped cream on top of the pie and sprinkle with the coconut. Serve and enjoy!

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Homemade Ketchup & Barbecue Sauce!

Fresh ketchup and barbecue sauce taste way better than Heinz! Plus you can customize them to suit your own tastes: substitute honey or balsamic vinegar; add curry powder, sriracha, bacon salt?! 

Since we don't use it much, below is a small-batch ketchup recipe that makes just shy of two cups... enough to keep in the fridge until your next ketchup inspiration strikes, but you could easily double or triple it to feed the whole family :)  Following that is a larger barbecue sauce recipe which we made to go along with a huge pork shoulder and beef brisket we smoked for the Superbowl.  It yielded about three jars of sauce... two of which are chillin in the freezer, til 2016's first summer barbecue arrives :)

Homemade Ketchup Recipe (about 2 cups)

1 6 ounce can tomato paste
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tbs Worcestershire
1 tbs molasses
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder

Stir all ingredients together in a small pot over low heat. Simmer until desired thickness is reached.  Keep leftovers refrigerated.

Homemade Barbecue Sauce Recipe

1 large onion, diced
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbs salt
1 tbs ground mustard
1 tbs smoked paprika
1 tbs chipotle chile powder
6 tablespoons bourbon
1 cup red wine vinegar
1 1/2 cups balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 29 ounce can tomato sauce
3 6 ounce cans tomato paste

Add the chopped onion to a saute pan coated with one tablespoon oil.  Saute the onion over medium heat, seasoning with the salt and spices, until softened.  Add the minced garlic and cook for one minute until fragrant.  When the pan is dry, turn up the heat and add the bourbon.  When it has mostly cooked off, add the vinegars and tomato sauce and paste.  Simmer over low heat (partially covered if needed, to prevent splattering).

When sauce has reached desired thickness, remove from heat and refrigerate to cool.  When cool enough to handle, blend in a Nutribullet or other food processor, until smooth and no chunks remain.  Serve warm.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Turkey Veggie Meatloaf

The problem I always have with substituting turkey for beef is that turkey's generally flavorless. Not so with this meatloaf! Lots of spice, Worcestershire, and sautéed aromatics keep things interesting, plus a healthy dollop of (homemade) ketchup. You can use any store bought bread crumbs (or grind up your own if you're a crazy person like me who can't throw away bread butts). I used a mishmash of spices here just to keep the meatloaf from tasting too much like any one thing, but if you want to go, say, all rosemary, or use ras el hanout for a Moroccan flair, get creative! (As a guideline, I used 3/4 a tsp salt plus 3 tsp of spice per pound of meat.) Enjoy!

2 pounds 99% extra lean ground turkey meat
1/2 yellow onion
1 green bell pepper
1/2 carrot (optional)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp ground mustard
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp each: chipotle chile powder, celery salt, allspice, turmeric, curry, mace
3 tbs Worcestershire
1/3 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
2 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup ketchup, plus more for topping
2 tbs fresh Italian parsley, optional

Chop the vegetables, then add to a food processor. Pulse a few times until no large pieces remain.

Heat a sauté pan with a tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add the chopped veggies and sauté, seasoning lightly with salt and pepper, until no liquid remains. Set aside to cool.

To a bowl add all the remaining ingredients, plus the cooled vegetables. Mix gently until thoroughly blended.

Pour mixture into a non-stick loaf pan and top with more ketchup. Bake for one hour at 350 degrees, then allow ten minutes to cool before slicing. Serve alongside sweet potatoes or peas.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Lamb Chops with Cherry Port Sauce and Celery Root Leek Purée (and Scotch Vanilla Ice Cream)

couldn't think of anything romantic to cook this Valentine's Day! I had stumbled across a recipe for vanilla ice cream, and since that's Dave's favorite I decided to unearth the old electric ice cream maker from 1985. But for the main course? Dave picked lamb, and I came up with the cherry-port sauce to give it some sweet V-day flavor ;) Kinda risky to do two, never-before-tried recipes for a special dinner, but luckily everything turned out even better than I hoped for! Enjoy!

1 tbs olive oil
1 frenched rack of lamb
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 cup port or sweet red wine
2 cups frozen cherries, defrosted
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tbs chopped mint

2 celery roots, peeled and chopped
1 leek, chopped
2 cups milk (1% ok)
1 cup chicken or vegetable broth, as needed
1/4 cup heavy cream
Salt and pepper to taste

In a pot, bring the milk to a simmer. Peel and chop the celery root and add to the pot. Chop the leek and submerge the pieces in water to remove all grit. Add leeks to the pot and if needed add broth to cover. Bring to a low boil and then simmer until vegetables are very soft, about 15 minutes. Drain the vegetables over a bowl (reserving the cooking liquid) and add the vegetables to a blender or food processor with the heavy cream. Blend until smooth, adding the reserved cooking liquid if needed until desired texture is reached. Taste for seasoning and when satisfied return to the hot pot to keep warm.

While vegetables are cooking, cut the rack of lamb into pan chops. Slice from top to bottom alongside the bone. Salt and pepper both side of the chops generously and set aside until ready to cook. Defrost the cherries in a bowl (a couple minutes in the microwave if needed) and chop the shallots finely.

Heat a large pan with olive oil. Add the pan chops and sear 4-5 minutes on each side. When browned, remove to a plate and keep warm. To the hot pan add the shallots, port, cherries and their juice. Cook five minutes, then add chops and any juices back to the pan. Coat chops in the sauce and continue cooking until meat is cooked through and sauce is thick.

To serve, place a serving of celery root purée on each plate, followed by two or three lamb chops. Finish with sauce and chopped mint.

Scotch Vanilla Ice Cream
(Recipe adapted from here)

2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
3/4 sugar (I use raw turbinado sugar, finely ground in my Nutribullet)
1 tbs vanilla (vanilla bean also would be great)
4 tbs Glenlivet 12, or your favorite scotch

Whisk together ingredients, then put in the refrigerator to chill for several hours.

Add to ice cream maker following manufacturer's instructions. When ice cream is ready, freeze until ready to serve.