Sunday, November 5, 2017

Apples Poached with Spices

Option #1: Serve Chilled with Mint Leaves

Recipe from Unidentified Clipping


Between Halloween candy overindulgence and Thanksgiving pie decadence is a peaceful season where simple autumn desserts give our bodies a break as well as a lift.  While raw persimmons, pears, and pomegranates conveniently fill the everyday dessert bill, baked or poached apples provide more elegant treats for special occasions. And with very little fuss—10 minutes of prep and less than an hour of cooking time. Plus, an aromatic apple and spice smell issues forth from the kitchen, imbuing the entire household with an iconic fragrance of autumn.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Melinda’s Pear Crisp

Bowl of Fresh Pear Crisp
Pear Pizazz

Recipe adapted from Sunset Light & Healthy


If you’ve got to work for a living, finding a job with people that you enjoy makes it easier. I lucked out at my job with Melinda, who is not only smart, energetic, and forever making me laugh, but also loves food and cooking. When her pear trees were in full fruit, she brought in a pan of pear crisp one morning, still warm from the oven. She said the recipe was reasonably healthy, and that she’d reduced the sugar. Unlike most crisps, it’s flavored with vanilla and nutmeg, not cinnamon. Originally “oatie peach crumble,” her tweaked recipe compliments pears perfectly.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Vegan Red Pepper Soup

Bowl of Vegan Pepper Soup
Health and Happiness

Recipe from Women’s Health Big Book


In my quest for new smoothies this year, I came across a book with the rather intimidating title: The Women's Health Big Book of Smoothies & Soups: More than 100 Blended Recipes for Boosted Energy, Brighter Skin & Better Health. Although I liked some of the smoothie ideas, I looked askance at the blender soups, particularly those made with all raw ingredients that could be served hot or cold. Yet, Radiant Red Pepper Soup was compelling—especially with 5 red bells in the fridge due to a hot, long pepper season this year. I whipped up this soup as an appetizer, thinking that the flavor would be more healthful than delicious. Sometimes I love it when I’m wrong!

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Pacific Rim Honey Grilled Pork

Two Honey Grilled Pork Steaks
Nontraditional Octoberfest Food

Recipe from Letters from the Hive


BBQ season isn’t over, so my friends on both US coasts tell me. And they’re right. Golden October days are perfect for grilling, provided that we start early enough to avoid grilling after dark. Also, rake away those dry leaves from the BBQ area to keep it safe. Autumn grilling is especially good for roasting meats that pair well with seasonal homemade applesauce.  This sweet-savory pork recipe comes from an unlikely source. The book Letters from the Hive is an informative and rather sexy look at bees, honey, and beekeeping—see my Goodreads review for details. Essentially, the pork is saturated in an Asian-inspired honey-lime marinade, then grilled or broiled. This marinade also works on fish.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Ginger Glazed Winter Squash

Glazed Buttercup squash half on plate
Try it on Buttercup

Recipe adapted from Classic Zucchini Cookbook


One of the great loves of my life is butternut squash. I have whipped it, pied it, baked it, minestroned it, honeyed it, spiced it, saged it, saladed it, seeded it, puddinged it, muffined it, blondied it, and even microwave-steamed it in a motel room. And after all of this, I found yet another delicious way to serve it. Essentially, it’s baked, but adding sherry and ginger to the mix distinguishes it from the more usual cinnamon-maple syrup glaze. It’s a more sophisticated flavor that’s at home at fancier dinner parties and potlucks. So far I've glazed both butternut and buttercup squash.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Baked Tunisian Eggah

Slice of Tunisian Eggah Garnished with Parsley
Eggah! A Fantastic Way to Eat Your Veggies

Recipe from Mediterranean Light


Eggah! I made it because I love saying it, and because bell peppers and tomatoes will soon be out of season. Tunisian eggah is technically an oxymoron, since eggah is an Egyptian dish, and the closest dish in Tunisia is called tagine (and is quite different that tagines from other Arabic countries). It’s called kuku in Iran, and Ej’jah in other places. It’s similar to Spain’s omelette, except it’s packed with festive red and green veggies rather than potatoes, and spiced up with cumin, cinnamon, and other lovely aromatics. It’s similar to a frittata, but thicker and more fragrant.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Fish and Corn Chowder

Bowl of Fish and Corn Chowder with spoon and napkin
Late Summer Veggies Compliment Fish

Recipe adapted from Everyday DASH


It's odd to take a recipe from a healthy cookbook and add potatoes, extra flour, extra bacon, and half and half. But whoever heard of fish chowder without potatoes or cream? And so I padded this light recipe with traditional flavors. Just a small amount of half and half kicks up flavor and texture. Potatoes, though not the healthiest veggies, contain potassium and other minerals. Their high glycemic index is mitigated when eaten with lean protein, like fish and lowfat milk. The extra bacon adds indispensable flavor, and the amount is still less than one strip per serving.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Summer Corn and Tomato Salad

Grilled Halibut Plated with Generous Portion of Corn and Tomato Salad
Summertime and the Living is Yummy

Recipe by Robin


The quintessential summertime meal is made with garden-fresh corn and tomatoes backed by toothsome barbecue. Late summer bell peppers and sun-loving herbs are the proverbial icing on the cake. For years I’ve wanted to create a corn and tomato salad. Finally this year I was spurred to action. Jeanne, a thoughtful librarian colleague, brought several pounds of flash-frozen halibut to work. Every summer her kids board charter boats in Ketchikan, Alaska to do some deep sea fishing, and she shares their fishy wealth with others. Her generous contribution inspired me to get going on the corn salad.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Baba Ganoush

Bowl of Baba with ring of multicolored carrots around it
Colorful Carrots are Delightfully Dipable

Recipe by Robin


About 25 years ago, my friend Bee turned me on to Baba Ganoush, the Middle Eastern eggplant dip that he calls Eggplant Baba. He uses just grilled eggplant, cumin powder, cayenne, garlic, salt, and “lotsa olive oil.” Since I can’t recreate his delicious concoction of just 6 ingredients, I’ve added the traditional lemon juice, tahini, and white pepper.  The key to authentic flavor is grilling the eggplant slowly till the skin is charred and insides are soft. I use a Weber grill for added charcoal flavor. Bee uses a hibachi, and also suggests grilling under a broiler or over a flame burner if it’s not barbecue weather.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Cherries Jubilee

Bowl of Cherries Jubilee
Recipe by Robin


There are many fun facets to making Cherries Jubilee. It sounds and looks fancy, but doesn’t take more than 30 minutes. You get to start a fire and impress your friends with your flambé skills. The recipe is historical, supposedly created by August Escoffier for Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee (1887), in honor of the queen’s well known love of cherries. And it’s served over ice cream, always a plus. But my favorite thing about cherries jubilee is that, unlike other cherry desserts, the cherries don’t need to be pitted. Liberation from a thankless and staining task!