Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Tuesday Night Meatballs with Gluten Free Pasta

As much as I like to cook...sometimes you just need something easy, peasy that's quick and delish for dinner. Plus, I hurt my back like a week ago and last night was the first time I felt up to doing any had to be low-key, comfort food sort of stuff.
I'd been craving meatballs for like a week and we had rice pasta and a jar of sauce in the pantry. So I grabbed a package of grass fed ground beef on my way home from work.
Thirty minutes later. Voila. Tuesday night's dinner on the table. 
I'm happy and husband is happy.

Why the gluten-free pasta? Well, not because I need to have it. 
I enjoy the whole bread/carbs/wheat flour thing...just not all the time. And the Tinkyada rice pasta is just damn tasty to me. It has good texture, not mushy.
I don't really use a recipe to make meatballs, so I'm putting this together for you to the best of my recollection, just in case you want it. They are best with homemade sauce, but that's for a night when I get started a little earlier. Some folks like to fry their meatballs in a skillet to brown them, not me. Save cleaning a pan, lose the added oil, and keep it simple. Peace.

Meatballs with Gluten Free Pasta

1/2 pound ground beef {I used dry-aged grass fed}
1/2 pound ground pork
1/2 small onion, chopped
Parsley, chopped - about a handful
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 egg, slightly beaten
Panko bread crumbs, 1/4 cup
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Your favorite homemade or jarred pasta sauce
Pasta noodles {I used Tinkyada brand}
Parmesan cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 350F. Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl till well-combined. Don't overmix or overwork the meat or it can get tough. Shape into the same size meatballs {I used an ice cream scoop} and place on lined sheet pan. Bake until cooked through, about 18-20 minutes or so.
While meatballs are cooking, cook the pasta in salted water, according to package directions.
Heat up sauce in a large saucepan and allow to simmer on low heat. When meatballs are done cooking in the oven, remove them and place into the sauce until ready to serve.
Serve pasta and meatballs with sauce and a sprinkle of grated parmesan.

P.S. Yes, I did get a back rub along with my meatballs. Jay's good like that. I'm a lucky girl.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Khichdi - Indian Comfort Food

If I could eat just two cuisines for most of my would have to be Indian and Vietnamese. 
I love them both. I love the all the amazing spice used in Indian cuisine and the fresh herbs and fish sauce of Vietnamese, so delicious.
Honestly, I don't make too many attempts at home to make Indian food, but my goal this year is dust off my Indian cookbooks and really dive in.

I stopped by a neighborhood Indian grocery the other day and it was a treat to leisurely stroll the aisles, looking at lots of familiar ingredients and not-so-familiar items. I picked up this huge bag of Khichdi and got busy. 
Khichdi is Indian comfort food and I remember having it some years ago, but had never made it at home. A great excuse to pull out my spices and stash of curry leaves in the freezer. Basically, it is a vegetarian dish of rice and lentils, similar to a porridge. It is said to be very nutritious and easy on the digestive system. Although it can be made without spice, this one a little spice and a bit of ghee. yum

Monday, December 15, 2014

Roswell's Sugar Shack in the Back - rockin' the Breakfast Biscuits!

They say a picture says a thousand what do you think this one says?

It is no secret that I love good food. I like making it, baking it, talking about it, sharing it with friends, and exploring food gems in my city.
Generally, I eat pretty healthy. But I'm all for a bacon indulgence and having a treat once in a while.
When I have a day off from work, I either like to make a special breakfast or get out and explore a new breakfast place with Jay. 
We recently discovered Sugar Shack in the Back, which is right behind the Fickle Pickle Restaurant off Canton Street in downtown Roswell, GA. 

They have lots of yummy-looking items, including cookies, cupcakes, ice cream, and croissants. 
Their biscuit breakfast sandwiches we had were some of the best biscuits I've had in a long time. And I kind of love that they are square biscuits....bonus points!
The fact that my "ooey-gooey" biscuit came stuffed with eggs, bacon, pimento cheese, and pepper jelly was compelling in a sit-and-stare-at-it-for a while kind of way. Jay's biscuit had Brie and balsamic syrup....I think .....I was a little too busy ogling my biscuit to pay attention to his! So yummy.

We sat outside on their lovely patio and really enjoyed our sunny, relaxed morning. We will definitely go back and take some friends next time...and probably not need to eat again the rest of the day!

If you are looking for some new breakfast places to try in the Roswell and Atlanta hoods, here are some of my favorites:

Thumbs-Up Diner
♥ ♥ ♥ love the Portland Scramble
J. Christopher's
a fan of the Turkey Sausage platter with egg whites and fruit♥ ♥ ♥
West Egg Cafe
♥ ♥ ♥ Black Bean cakes and Eggs - yum!
Cafe Jonah
 Batdorf and Bronson coffee and breakfast sandwiches ♥ ♥ ♥
Douceur de France
♥ ♥ ♥ delicious quiche

Happy Breakfast peeps!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Holiday Panettone French Toast


I love those mornings....the slow to wake ones followed by some gentle yoga stretches, foamy, rich coffee, and something truly special for breakfast. These mornings don't happen a lot and I cling to them when they do.
On Monday, with no where to rush to and time to hang in my pj's {it's the little things that make life sweet, right?},  I decided to break out the panettone. You can find panettone at most grocery stores during the holidays. It's an amazing soft, sweet bread from Italy, full of candied orange, raisins, and lemon zest. I love it toasted with ghee spread on top and it also makes out-of-this world french toast. Perfect for the holidays and super easy to do for a family breakfast.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Carrot Soup with Swiss Chard & Dukkah

I'm a big fan of Deborah Madison. I met her years ago at Morningside Farmers Market in Atlanta. She was there on a bright Saturday morning to do a cooking demo. I fell in love with her beautiful treasure of a cookbook Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone and promptly bought one for my mom and one for myself. At the time I was primarily vegetarian, eating occasional seafood, and stayed that way for about 9 years.
I do eat meat these days, but I often feel that vegetarian cuisine is still much more interesting to me and that my body craves it more than meat.
Recently, I happened upon a copy of one of her newest cookbooks Vegetable Literacy and snatched it up. I could spend an entire Sunday afternoon on the couch, just thumbing through it and dreaming of tasting her Sauteed Jerusalem Artichokes with Rosemary and Smoked Salt, Eggplant Tartines, or Sweet Potatoes with White Miso Ginger Sauce. Good God, yum.

Deborah amazes me with the depth and breadth of her knowledge on vegetables, gardening, and cooking. Her recipes aren't complicated, explained extremely well,  and there are always some interesting ingredients for me to explore. This soup recipe is the second one I decided to make from the book - mainly cause I had a bunch of carrots in the fridge that needed some loving. And, I was very curious about this Egyptian topping, known as "dukkah".

I made a few slight variations to Deborah's recipe....adding orange zest to the soup, using sauteed swiss chard instead of collards, using lemon instead of lime juice and coconut oil instead of coconut butter, and changing up the seasonings a bit in the dukkah. I don't know if my pics do it justice {that darn challenge of trying to shoot food pics while the sun is going down} - but the soup is such a gorgeous, bright orange. And it just feels so good to eat.
Soul satisfying. Thank you Deborah for your passion and inspiring me.

Carrot Soup with Swiss Chard and Dukkah 
 {adapted a bit from Vegetable Literacy}

For the soup:
2 Tablespoons ghee
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 1/4 pounds carrots, scrubbed and thinly sliced

1/2 teaspoon orange zest
2 tablespoons peeled and slivered fresh ginger
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Sea salt

For the greens:
3 leaves of swiss chard, rinsed
Sea salt
Coconut oil
Squeeze of lemon juice

Dukkah {see recipe that follows}

Warm the ghee in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, orange zest, ginger, cumin, and 1 teaspoon salt, give it a stir and cook until wilted, about 6 minutes. Add 4 cups water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer until the vegetables are soft, about 25 minutes.
While the soup is cooking, prepare the swiss chard. Trim the stems, stack the leaves, roll them up, and then slice thinly crosswise. You’ll have a pile of long, thin, slices of collards. Heat a skillet on medium, add some coconut oil and a sprinkle of sea salt, and saute the swiss chard briefly till just wilted. Toss in a squeeze of lemon juice to taste. Set greens aside.
When the soup is ready, puree until smooth {I use my Vitamix}. Taste for salt, adding more if necessary. You can thin the soup with water at this point.
Ladle the soup into bowls and set a tangle of swiss chard atop each serving and top with a bit of dukkah {to your taste}.

Makes about 2 cups

1 cup almonds
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup coriander seeds
1/4 cup cumin seeds 
3/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
A few pinches of dried thyme
A few pinches of dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Spread the nuts on a parchment-lined or silpat-lined sheet pan and toast in the oven until fragrant, about 8 minutes. Transfer hot nuts to a plate to cool. Next toast the seeds the same way for about 5 minutes and then transfer these to a plate to cool.
Once fully cooled, put nuts and seeds into a food processor. Add the thyme, oregano, red pepper flakes and salt and pulse until roughly ground, being careful to not let them become a paste. When you are happy with the texture, season with some pepper. Can be kept in a tightly sealed container for 1-2 weeks.
*Per Deborah, Dukkah can be used to spice up the flavor of scrambled eggs, grilled and roasted vegetables, bean purees, salads, soups, etc.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Luscious Pumpkin Orange Cinnamon Rolls

Cinnamon rolls are so indulgent and crazy good. I rarely make them because of that. I promise myself I'll only eat one and then I talk myself into another and end up needing an immediate siesta. Sugar crash.
But with the holidays rolling around and pumpkin season in full effect, 
I figured...why the heck not? I love working with yeasted doughs and this one is fun to make and the rolls come out beautifully.
This time I only ate one and a half, gave a few to the hubs, and took the rest to work. Yay.

I've made cinnamon rolls many times over the years, but never one with pumpkin. The pumpkin taste is subtle and the color of the dough is so pretty. And the orange zest just takes it to another level.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Sweet Potato, Kale and White Beans - Supper Simplified!

It's kind of odd to start a post with this, but here you have it....STRESS!
My life has had it's fair share lately. And I haven't handled it as gracefully as I might like. 
I might even have to attribute my 4.5# weight lost in the last 2 weeks to stress. I'm not suggesting this is a great way to lose weight. {I've actually been going to Weight Watchers for a few months and it's been working for me! 12.5# down and yep, all my jeans but one look like mom's jean on me now....lovely.}
With some life and work craziness in the last month, you be more likely to see me over-indulging in eats and drinks and under-indulging in the good stuff like yoga, exercise, and getting plenty of zzzzz's.
So, let's just say that counting points has not been my forte in the last few weeks.

I'm trying to get back to healthy eats and recipes that feel simple and nourishing. This is one that I had on my Pinterest page for a while and it certainly hit the spot for dinner the other night. Thank you to the Kitchn {one of my favs} for sharing it.
Pretty sure this will be a go-to through the holidays. 
I told my husband Jay that I realized I've got to get back to basics to manage my stress. Eating good stuff, sleeping enough, and exercising.
Then there's the serenity prayer. Saving my ass lately. Maybe you could use it today too:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.

Sweet Potato, Kale and White Beans
Serves 4

straight from the good folks at the Kitchn

4 sweet potatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 shallot, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 (4-inch) sprig fresh rosemary
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 1/2 cups (or 1 can) cooked and drained white beans
6 cups kale, trimmed and sliced into ribbons
Juice of 1/4 lemon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400°F.
Scrub the sweet potatoes and prick them in a few places with a fork. Place them on a baking sheet and bake until soft all the way through, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Start the beans and greens about 15 to 20 minutes before the sweet potatoes are done.
In a wide, deep saucepan with a cover, heat the olive oil over low-moderate heat. Add the shallots and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, rosemary sprig, and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, for about a minute. Add the beans and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the kale, cover the pan, and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes or until the kale is soft. Remove the rosemary sprig, stir in the lemon juice, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
To serve, slice each sweet potato lengthwise and push on the ends to open up the middle. Spoon the beans and greens into the center.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

I'm a sucker for a good chocolate chip cookie. Always have been since I was a little kid. One of my favorite memories from kid-hood is coming home from school and making chocolate chip cookies with my mom. Warm, gooey, chocolate chip cookies just out of the oven....pure comfort. 

I like to take a basic recipe, like a cookie, and give it my own tweak. With chocolate chip cookies, I've made some pretty yummy variations, including one with dried cherries and toasted pecans and a sweet and salty compost cookie with butterscotch chips, pretzels and Fritos. Sometimes I just like the old standard baked with a sprinkle of flaky sea salt on the top.

Are you a fan of browned butter like me? Does your mouth water from that incredible nutty aroma that rolls through the kitchen while you are cooking the brown butter? It makes a pretty killer chocolate chip cookie! Drizzled over roasted butternut squash with sage and risotto or blended into a creamy buttercream icing for vanilla bean cupcakes....browned butter is such a treat. And easy to make. 

I promise.

To make browned butter, just cut up your stick (or sticks) of unsalted butter into slices and place it into a light-colored saucepan. Place heat on medium and let butter melt. After butter is completely melted let it continue to cook, stirring often. The butter will foam and sputter as the water is released and you will see the milk proteins in the bottom turning brown (hence the need to keep stirring, so they don't burn). 

As soon as you get a nice, light brown color and nutty smell, remove from the heat and pour butter into another bowl to cool (it will keep cooking and you don't want it to burn.) You can use immediately or refrigerate if you need the butter solidified or plan to store it.

Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes about 2 dozen

1 cup browned butter, chilled until firm
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs, room temperature
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup spelt flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup pecans, chopped (toasted if you like)

Make browned butter and chill it until firm. Preheat oven to 350F.
In a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter with the sugars until light and fluffly. Add vanilla and then one egg at a time, blending well and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients and then add to the mixer bowl. Mix until blended. Add chocolate chips and pecans and mix just until incorporated. 
Portion dough with a small cookie scoop or tablespoon measure onto a sheet pan lined with parchment. Cook in pre-heated oven until golden brown, about 10-11 minutes.
*This recipe makes a softer cookie with crisp edges.