Saturday, November 26

Chopped Couscous Salad

Here's a relatively easy couscous salad to put together. Most of the prep is dicing things up. You can also easily modify this with what you have on hand. You could swap cannelloni beans with garbanzos, Israeli couscous for the traditional style or even orzo, and veggies can really be anything seasonal.

 My garden is still going (and yes, it's nearly December!) with cilantro, parsley and arugula so I grabbed a bit of each to chop up which adds a great herbal tone and contrast to the sharp vinaigrette dressing.

This is great on its own, over greens, or even with grilled chicken.

A photo posted by Jane (@caff) on

Chopped Couscous Salad

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 8.8 oz bag or 1 cup couscous (I used the Israeli style as that's what I had on hand, but either will work), prepared following directions on box/bag/etc
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, grated (I like to use a microplane)
  • 1/2 to 1 whole shallot, minced (can swap with some red onion)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/8 cup cider vinegar (or swap with your favorite)
  • 1 TBPS honey
  • 1 TBSP pomegranate molasses (optional - can find it at Whole Foods near with the molasses/baking section)
  • 1/4-1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, diced
  • 1-2 handfuls of cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half
  • 5-6 radishes, sliced thin
  • 1-2 avocados, diced
  • 1 can cannelloni beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 TBSP cumin
  • handful fresh cilantro, chopped
  • handful fresh parsley, chopped
  • handful fresh arugula, chopped
  • salt & pepper
METHOD:
1) Prepare couscous per package directions.
2) In a large bowl, prepare the dressing by mixing olive oil, vinegar, shallot, honey, pomegranate molasses (optional), and lemon juice together with a whisk. Add a couple pinches of salt and pepper to taste.
3) Add cucumber, tomatoes, radishes, avocados, beans, cumin, parsley, cilantro, and arugula. Stir to combine. 3) Stir in couscous and taste for seasoning. You might need to add more salt and pepper and lemon juice to your taste.
Makes 4-6 servings.

Saturday, May 28

Avocado & Chickpea Salad

Last night we needed a side to go with our burgers. Hubs suggested guacamole, but that wasn't as helpful but it did spark an idea to use the perfectly ripe avocados for a salad. I used up some "end of the week" produce and made up a dressing that was a mix between middle eastern and latin in flavor.

The result was quite tasty and can be good on a bed of lettuce like arugula. You can also easily modify it; add some diced bell pepper if you have it, radish, fresh corn, etc. Or turn it into more of a meal by adding some grilled chicken or serve it in a wrap with falafel. If you do give it a try, let me know what you think.

Avocado & Chickpea Salad

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 15.5oz (438g) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (can do 2 cans if you like)
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, grated (I like to use a microplane)
  • 1 scallion, cut in half and diced (could also use about 1/4 cup of finely diced red onion)
  • about a thumbnail size of jalapeno, finely diced (or more if you want more heat)
  • 1 cucumber, cut in half and sliced (you want half moons)
  • 1-2 handfuls cherry tomatoes (cut in half) or regular tomato, diced
  • 2-4 TBSP oil, enough to coat
  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 2-3 TBSP pomegranate molasses (you can find this at Whole Foods in the syrup area)
  • 2-3 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • squeeze of lemon juice (1/4-1/2 lemon - squeezed for juice)
  • 1 TBSP cumin
  • salt & pepper
  • 2 TBSP fresh cilantro, chopped (could substitute with parsley)
METHOD:
1) Combine everything in a bowl.
2) Stir gently to combine and make sure seasoning and dressing is evenly coating. Be careful to not mash the avocado up too much. But, it will break down a bit, which will add a creaminess to the dish.
Makes 4-6 servings.

Sunday, May 8

Lemon Meringue Cupcakes

I've had this recipe from King Arthur Flour bookmarked/pinned for a couple years, waiting for the right opportunity to make it. OMG, why did I wait? They are super tasty. I loved the lemon curd and the cake, which has buttermilk in it, is superb on its own. They do take a bit of time and a little finesse, but nothing extraordinary; although the results definitely are.

Lemon Meringue Cupcakes

INGREDIENTS:
For Cupcakes
  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk
For Lemon Curd (Yield: a scant 2 cups)
  • zest of 1-2 lemons
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 4 large, juicy lemons)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup (8 TBSP) butter, melted
  • 2 large eggs
For Meringue
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tarter
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 6 TBSP sugar
METHOD:
1) Preheat the oven to 400°F and line a 12-cup cupcake or muffin pan with paper liners; spritz the liners lightly with cooking spray.
2) To make the cupcakes: Place the following in the bowl of your mixer: the cake flour blend, baking powder, salt, baking soda, sugar, butter, egg, vanilla and Buttery Sweet Dough Flavor. Add 1/3 cup of the buttermilk.
3) Blend the mixture on medium speed for 2 minutes. The mixture will be thick at first, but will smooth out as you mix.
4) Add the remaining 1/3 cup buttermilk and mix on medium speed for 1 minute. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl, and mix briefly, if necessary.
5) Fill each well of the pan 2/3 full, and bake the cupcakes for 15 to 18 minutes, until they're light golden brown on the edges. Remove them from the oven, and immediately transfer them from the pan to a rack. Cool completely.
6) Combine all of the lemon curd ingredients in a pan on medium heat and stir well.
7) When curd starts to thicken, coats the back of a spoon, and starts to mound a bit as you stir, it's done. This will take anywhere from 4 to 10 minutes. The curd's temperature should have reached at least 185°F. Stir the curd one more time, spoon it into a storage container, and refrigerate until firm. (Extra curd keeps refrigerated for up to 3 weeks; freeze for longer storage.)
8) Core each cooled cupcake with a cupcake corer (or an apple corer), leaving a small well in the center of the cake. Fill to the brim with cooled lemon filling. Fill all cupcakes, then prepare the meringue.
9) To make the meringue: In a very clean work bowl, whip the egg whites and Bakewell Cream or cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Add the salt. Gradually add the sugar, increasing the whipping speed and continuing to whip until the mixture is light and billowy, and stiff peaks form.
10) Mound or pipe meringue onto each cupcake, then toast the meringue with a cook's torch; or carefully broil until golden brown. Serve warm, for a flowing lemon lava; or cool for a more set filling.
Makes 12 cupcakes.

Sunday, October 18

Green Chicken Chili Ramen

The last couple of weeks I've been craving something gingery for dinner. And as last night was the first frost warning of the season, it seemed like a great night to try to put something together with the fresh noodles I had sitting in the fridge and the finger of ginger I had purchased earlier in the week. Something soupy and hearty, perfectly suited to warm up on a cold night.

I spent a few minutes trying to figure out what ingredients I wanted to combine and in what order. I loosely based this recipe off the Wagamama Chili Beef Raman recipe I found and made last year (which is also very delicious!).

We had some garlic (and I mean GARLIC) haricot verts left over from dinner earlier in the week which I thought I could use up along with a small head of Napa cabbage I had recently purchased. Fresh cilantro ties the flavors together perfectly. So hence the name of Green Chicken Chili Ramen.

In the ingredient list you'll see ginger and garlic twice. It's not an error; there is some garlic & ginger used for the marinade and then some used in the base of the broth. I suppose you could simplify it and only add it at one place but I think that you get some more complexity of flavor having it layered. That part is totally up to you.

And of course, you can play with veg and spiciness to your tastes as well. Give it a try.

Green Chicken Chili Ramen

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 lb. chicken (I use breasts or tenders because I prefer white meat)
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, grated
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 TBSP ginger, grated finely (I like to use a fine microplane)
  • 1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, minced
  • 4 TBSP teriyaki sauce
  • 2 TBSP oil
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1 small head Napa cabbage, shredded
  • 1 big handful haricot vert or green beans, diced or whole
  • 32 oz chicken broth
  • salt & pepper
  • 18 oz fresh or dried asian Noodles (I used something called "Chinese noodles" that I found in the refrigerated section at my grocery store, but this is a good list of different asian noodles that could work
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1-2 tsp sriracha sauce
  • 3-4 slices of jalapeno or other fresh chili
  • 1/4-1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
METHOD:
1) Marinate chicken in 1-2 grated garlic cloves, 1 TBSP grated ginger, and 4 TBSP teriyaki sauce
2) Add 2 TBSP oil to a dutch oven/pan you'll use for making the soup. Once heated, add chicken and marinade. Once cooked, take out chicken (cover & set aside), leaving any garlic & ginger in pan.
3) Add butter, sliced shallot, 2 minced garlic cloves and minced ginger. Saute for 3-5 minutes.
4) Add 3/4-1 small head of Napa cabbage that has been shredded/sliced and good handful haricot verts or green beans and saute until cabbage is slightly softened.
5) Add chicken stock and then salt, pepper, red pepper flake, sriracha, and optional chili pepper slices to taste. Bring to a boil.
6) Meanwhile make noodles according to directions on package & set aside.
7) Dice chicken that had been set aside and add it and the cilantro to soup. Check seasonings and make any adjustments. Simmer for 10 minutes.
8) Place noodles in bowl for serving. Top with soup. Garnish with more cilantro & enjoy.

Makes 4-6 servings.

Wednesday, September 16

Chicken Gyros & Tzatziki

When you want something fresh and healthy, a great choice is choosing the gyro. Often mispronounced (proper pronunciation here), it's a great way to get protein and vegetables. Served with tzatziki, a yogurt-based sauce, it's also full of flavor.
The word gyro literally translates to turn in Greek. Typically the dish is made of meat (usually beef, veal, mutton, pork, or chicken) cooked on a vertical rotisserie served in a pita with tomato, onion, and tzatziki sauce.

A couple months ago I discovered a gyro food truck near a job I was working. The next day I was on the web seeking out a gyro recipe to try at home. I don't have a rotisserie or spit on my grill so it needed to be something I could do easily.

I stumbled across Tide & Thyme's recipe and gave it ago. DELISH! I even followed her recipe for tzatziki. I've now made it a few times and really the only changes I've made is what I put into the sandwich. As you can see in the photo, I included some shredded red cabbage to the shredded lettuce, and omitted the cucumber since there was already a good amount in the tzatziki. I warmed the pita on the stove (as you would for tortillas for tacos) to help wake up the bread (you could even toss it on the grill for a couple seconds). The other trick I did was to tear off a square of foil and build the sandwich on it and then use it to roll the gyro up nice and tight. It makes eating it a lot easier, plus you get that food truck feel.

Listing this here for posterity, but check out Tide & Thyme's blog - there are some other great things there too!

Tide & Thyme's Chicken Gyros

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 lb. chicken (I use breasts or tenders because I prefer white meat)
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 2 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • salt & pepper
  • tzatziki sauce
  • sliced tomatoes
  • shredded lettuce
  • shredded red cabbage (if desired)
  • sliced cucumber (if desired)
  • 4-6 pitas
METHOD:
1) Combine garlic, lemon juice, vinegar, olive oil, oregano, salt & pepper with whisk or fork in bowl or ziplock bag. Add chicken, thoroughly coat with marinade, and place in fridge to marinate for at least an hour.
2) Grill or cook in pan until browned and cooked through. After resting, slice into strips or shred.
3) Warm pita then top with chicken, tzatziki, and veggies.
4) Enjoy.

Makes 4-6 servings.

Tide & Thyme's Tzatziki Sauce

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 32oz. container of plain greek yogurt
  • 2 regular cucumbers or 1 english cucumber, peeled & seeded
  • 2 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed (use a garlic press or microplane)
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp dried dill or fresh (I use fresh)
  • salt & pepper to taste
METHOD:
1) Shred or grate cucumber (I like to use my food processor). Then place them in a clean kitchen towel and squeeze to remove as much moisture as possible.
2) Mix yogurt, cucumber, garlic, vinegar, lemon juice, dill, salt & pepper together and refrigerate to let flavors blend together.
3) Enjoy. It makes a lot, but if you have leftover from gyros, it's a great dip for veggies too.

Monday, July 27

Pesto Chicken Orzo

I've been trying to bring my lunch to work and eat less frozen, packaged meals. Granted the ones I tend to eat are organic, GMO free, etc. But still. Cooking food gives me control of what I'm eating. Sunday as I was making my list for the grocery store this week, I tried to think about what would be good to bring. Pesto popped into my head, which it tends to do this time of year when the basil in the garden is abundant (I didn't make fresh pesto for this, instead I purchased some, but either works!)

I looked at Pinterest for some ideas and created my own dish that works hot or cold. Rather than cooking up chicken breasts, I "cheated" and grabbed one of the roast chickens from the store, which allowed me to simply pull off the white meat and not have to dirty another dish while cooking. Zucchini have looked good and are healthy and easy, so I picked up a few of those that were locally grown from the grocery store (mine have yet to produce more than flowers, so far). Mushrooms seemed like a nice pairing with the zucchini. And of course onion and garlic had to go in.

As I was cooking, I realized I had some shredded mozzarella and I added a handful of it which helped give the dish an almost risotto-like consistency. I kept the seasoning simple since pesto flavor was what I was after. I'll definitely even try this with rice as well. Because, pesto is good on EVERYTHING.

You can play with the veggies you include as well to suit your tastes or clean out your fridge.


Chicken Orzo Pesto

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 cooked chicken, shredded or cut in bite size pieces (for this I got a oven-roasted one from the store to speed up time)
  • 3-4 medium zucchini cut in bite-size rounds
  • 1 package orzo
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1- 1 1/2 cups mushrooms, sliced
  • 2-4 garlic cloves, diced
  • about 1/2 cup mozzarella, shredded (optional)
  • about 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated (optional)
  • 1 package (7oz) pesto (or make your own fresh)
  • 2-3 TBSP olive oil
  • salt & pepper to taste
METHOD:
1) Cook orzo according to box instructions/al dente.
2) When done, reuse pot. Add olive oil, onion, garlic. Saute until onion starts to soften.
3) Add garlic, mushrooms. Cook down a little.
4) Add zucchini, salt & pepper to taste, and cook until veggies are tender, browned and water is evaporated.
5) Turn off heat. Taste for seasoning & adjust as needed.
6) Add cooked orzo.
7) Add cheese. Stir.
8) Enjoy.

Makes 4-6 servings.


Sunday, June 14

Garlic scapes

Today I cut the first of the garlic scapes from the plants that were the first to emerge after a most snowy winter. They're huge and looking good. At one point about a month ago, I noticed some of the lower leaves of the garlic plants was looking a little yellow.

I did some research and found that it could be due to low nitrogen levels in the soil. So I got some bat guano to try which is very high in nitrogen. It seemed to work. I spread a small amount around the plants in the soil, used the edge of my trowel to turn it in a little and then watered.

Typically by now the leaves start to dry up and the garlic is ready for pulling. But, we had such a late spring here that I have a feeling we might not be pulling the garlic out until July this year.

Now that I have the scapes, Hubs wants to make some scape pesto. I've recently gotten him on the pesto wagon (finally!), and I'm sure they'll be delish.

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