Sunday, December 23, 2018

Cranberry Pistachio Dark Chocolate Bark

plate of broken up bark
Simply Chocolate, Nuts, and Fruit

Recipe adapted from Kaiser Permanente

It’s Bark!! And according to Kaiser, my health care provider, it’s “food for health.” They’re the experts, right? They offered a version of this healthy-ish treat on their website this holiday season. I tweaked their recipe a bit, by simplifying the process and upping the proportion of chocolate. While it’s not entirely keto-friendly, it is vegan and gluten-free. So it’s a reasonable (and fast!) choice for potlucks. Plus, it’s chocolate!

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Simple Cranberry Apple Slaw

Cranberry Apple Slaw in Bowl
Simple and Colorful Winter Salad

Recipe adapted from Paleo Approach Cookbook

In prepping for a recent dinner party I was challenged by a recipe that took a lot of space, time, and effort: Carbonada en Zapallon. Like many holiday recipes, it requires the entire kitchen for a prolonged period of time. I discovered this simple side dish to add a fresh, seasonal crunch to an otherwise meaty, stick-to-the-ribs menu. Bonuses: only 4 ingredients plus salt and pepper, and it keeps well and can be served with leftovers.  A green salad just can’t compete.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Carbonada en Zapallo: Argentinian Beef Stew in a Pumpkin

Carbonada en Zapallo Just out of the Oven
Pumpkin and Beef Stew: A Delightful Combination

Adapted from an old Recipe

What is in an Argentinian beef stew? First, top quality beef: grass fed, organic, and humanely raised. Next, bell peppers, corn, sweet potato, and a sweet stone fruit. Add some typical US ingredients: onion, garlic, potatoes, and tomatoes. This masterpiece of flavors is stuffed inside a pumpkin and baked to perfection. It’s served by scooping out the stew along with some pumpkin. This is a wonderfully festive meal for a family gathering, or what my buddy Jon the Baker calls Friendsgiving celebrations.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Brussels Sprouts Roasted on the Stalk

Serving of Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pomegranate
Celebrating Sprouts

Recipe Adapted from Trader Joe’s

I had no idea that Brussels sprouts grew on stalks till I moved to California, quite a few years ago now. In those days we could only buy stalk sprouts directly from coastal farmers at roadside stands. Nowadays we see them at Farmers’ Markets, large-scale produce stands, and even at Trader Joe’s (TJ’s). For years I’ve wanted to try the recipe that TJ’s rubber bands to their stalks. When I finally tried it, it was nothing like I imagined. The outside of the sprout is crispy and caramelized, and the inside is soft and delicate, a delicious contrast.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Sausage and Peppers

Recipe by Robin and Bruce

‘Way back when the millennium was new, my husband-to-be and I moved in together and started cooking. Sausage and peppers was one of our first comfort food recipes. I credit Bruce for the chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (smoky preserved jalapenos), which spices up the traditional Italian recipe. We quickly discovered that making large batches of the recipe allowed us to either freeze half or share some with friends who were tending sick or injured family members. Originally we served sausage and peppers over wide noodles. On French bread is also traditional. These days we prefer no-carb, all-veg spaghetti squash.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Vegan Basil Lime Pumpkin Seed Pesto

Pesto on shiritaki noodles garnished with tomato wedges
Add Ripe Tomatoes for Contrast

Recipe by Robin

Lately I’ve been cutting down on dairy products, and more specifically my favorite: cheese!  I love the stuff, but everything from speaking to sleeping is smoother without it. Also, my husband’s new paleo-keto-ish eating plan inspired a new kind of pesto with this summer’s basil crop. Pumpkin seeds are a prominent part of both keto and paleo diets, being low-carb and traditionally hunter-gathered. Their earthy flavor combined with aromatic basil and tangy lime makes cheese both unnecessary and undesirable. Plus, they’re a good source of zinc, magnesium, Vitamin E, and fiber.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

High Protein Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

Two Protein Salads: Chicken and Chickpea
Two of Many Varieties: His & Hers

Recipe Inspired by Nob Hill Markets

Salads! Always healthful, and now in season. For a while I’d been dependent on a pre-made Nob Hill salad for my after-work late lunch. And I felt plenty guilty about the amount of plastic containers I’d recycle. Then I looked at the ingredients and did the math. I didn’t like the lentils in the salad, nor the skimpy amount of egg, tomato, and chickpeas. I thought I could change things up and add avocado. Plus, I could upgrade to organic ingredients. Oddly enough, since I’ve been making my own, our local Nob Hill has stopped carrying the salad. Was my consumption driving their business? Somehow I doubt it.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Green Pea Hummus

Freshly Made Green Pea Hummus with Carrots

Recipe adapted from Cooking Light

Meanwhile, back in the bean fields, May’s eat-‘em-whole pea pods have matured. No longer edible “in toto,” only the peas inside the pods are nosh-able. Removing the pods takes time and effort. It's rewarding work, producing peas with infinitely more flavor and texture than their frozen counterparts. Fresh English peas improve any recipe, like this one, that calls for frozen peas. Preparation couldn’t be simpler: blanch the peas, throw ingredients into the food processor and spin. Scoop into a bowl and top with olive oil and ground sumac.*

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Escarole and Poached Egg Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette

Hearty Dinner Salad

Recipe adapted from Magazine Clipping

How do you turn a side salad into a satisfying dinner salad? Start with a somewhat larger bed of greens, then add a substantial quantity of topping ingredients, especially protein and carb-rich veggies. Then increase the quantity of dressing accordingly. In this case, I increased the amount of tomatoes, peas, and eggs. Rodoni Farms is still selling fresh English peas at the Farmers’ Market, which make the salad all the more healthful and delicious than the frozen peas in the original recipe. This is the perfect salad for that short period of time when the last of the peas’ season converges with the first of the tomatoes’.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Snap Peas with Ginger and Citrus

Closeup of Snap Peas with Lemon and Ginger
Simply Delicious: Peas with Lemon and Ginger

Recipe adapted from Eat Greens

At last, the spring veggies have sprung! Local Farmers’ Markets are starting to pop up, and the weather is dry and balmy. Springtime veggies like chard, kale, spinach, cauliflower, broccolini, and tiny new carrots are on the menu, as well as winter relics like beets, oranges, and lemons. Plus the quintessential springtime veg: peas. Snap peas, also known as Chinese pea pods, are young peas that are small and tender enough to eat pod and all. Get ‘em now, because as the peas mature, the pods toughen and can’t be eaten.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Asian Slaw

Bowl of Asian Salad with Chopsticks
Colorful and Healthful

Recipe by Robin

A craving for a slaw that would be a perfect foil for parchment baked salmon engulfed me. Especially since I had 1½  lbs. of salmon in the freezer, caught and flash-frozen by my work colleague’s kids in Alaska last season. One does not want such a generous and delicious gift to go to waste. I got a little carried away (inspiration knows no seasons), and included cilantro, which is decidedly not in season, though readily available in the market. A better choice would have been parsley, currently growing in my garden, or simply skipping the little green addition. The cabbage, carrots, green onions, sesame seeds, and exotic dressing will carry the dish with little reduction, unless you happen to be crazy about cilantro as I am.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Parchment Baked Salmon with Lemon and Dill

Closeup of Parchment Baked Salmon with Lemon and Dill

Recipe by Robin

At last, fresh dill is available in the market again. Not that it’s exactly in season here in Santa Cruz in April. However, its annual reappearance on shelves inspired a way to use the fresh frozen Alaskan salmon that my  colleague’s kids caught and gifted to me last season. This recipe requires little prep time, minimal ingredients, and just a little finesse with the parchment. Key to its success are very fresh (or flash frozen and thawed) wild salmon and a bunch of fresh dill. Simple is good.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Cheese Soufflé

Cheese Souffle Just Baked, Cut into 6 wedges
Six Sumptuous Slices

Recipe adapted from Simplicity from a Monastery Kitchen

Cheese! Does anyone in the USA not love it? I recently read that Americans consume most of their cheese on pizza. Yet a soufflé is a more effective and delicious cheese vehicle, delivering straight-on cheesey flavor with no distracting dough or veggies. Eggs lend a velvety texture to the dish, while adding protein to the mix. And despite looking complicated, soufflés are quite straightforward to make if you remember three things: Be patient making the roux; keep stirring and use low heat. Cool the roux before adding the egg yolks to it. And beat the egg whites thoroughly before folding them in. Voila! Cheese soufflé!

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Cashew Chicken Salad with Mandarin Oranges

Two Protein Salads: Chicken and Chickpea
A Salad for All Seasons

Recipe Inspired by Cooking Light

In the middle of winter, comfort foods abound. Yet, after months of hefty fare, along comes an unseasonably warm and sunny day, and we suddenly crave fresh raw veggies. This winter veggie salad is a nutritional powerhouse, good for boosting immunity during the winter months. Cabbage is high in Vitamins A, K, and B6, plus 20 flavonoids and 15 phenols. Carrots are loaded with beta carotene and antioxidants. Bean sprouts contain lots of iron, copper, and other minerals. Ginger aids digestion and warms the body from within, a good addition to a wintertime salad.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Fresh Mint Tea

Recipe by Robin

Here in the Santa Cruz Mountains, semi-wild mint pops up with the first winter rains. Planted in some nearby herb garden years ago, it has spread by runners to form a thick mat of leafy stems throughout our back yard. As delicate as the leaves seem, they don’t mind the cold at all. Some sturdy spearmint variety, these leaves are famously stirred into mint juleps and muddled into mojitos. But in winter they make a refreshing and warming tea that soothes body and spirit.
The super-easy recipe is uplifting and thirst-quenching, whether you are sick or well, by yourself or with a friend.