Apple Lemon Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies

Help me.

My child has started multiplication and I do NOT know how to help her. I need to clarify, of course, that I know how to multiply I just don’t know how to explain the process. I suppose it’s due to my being out of elementary school for so long that mathematical basics are second nature to me? I dunno.

I can’t be the only parent out there that struggles with homework, right?

And I certainly can’t be the only parent that struggles with keeping the other, younger sibling occupied while the eldest one whines, squirms, and cries in frustration, right?

Miss B likes to antagonize her sister. She likes to talk, point, punch, poke, and generally annoy Miss M – and her momma – in the process.

The youngest of my daughters does not understand the concept of homework yet. But just wait until the fall when Kindergarten starts. Ruuuuude awakening in store for my kiddo.

The one thing I know of that keeps my youngest sane and occupied is helping in the kitchen. (See my post for Double Chocolate Caramel Pretzel Cookies for evidence) Oh, and TV time but I generally try to limit that as much as possible. I can only hear the Sofia the First theme song so many times.

Most importantly,  the one thing that keeps ME sane during the homework process is baking.

Last night – while Miss M toiled away on multiplication – Miss B and I whipped up a batch of huge Oatmeal Cookies.

While I can’t explain to an 8-year-old how to do multiplication, I can explain how to make some awesome cookies. They are gluten free, vegan, and huge. Let’s not fool ourselves into believing that we stop at one cookie normally, so I’m going to cut to the chase and just show you how to make a big ‘un.

 

Wanting something different than a standard oatmeal cookie, I used Texas Olive Ranch Meyer Lemon Olive Oil, shredded apple, cranberries, brown sugar, and a hefty dose of cinnamon.

I was inspired by an apple pie I make, which shares the same flavors.

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I use “flax eggs” in lots of items around here, given that I flirt on and off with veganism.

My standard recipe for a flax egg is 1 T. ground flax to 2 T. water and let it sit about ten minutes until it resembles cold cream of wheat in texture.

You know, it’s that jiggly mass that plops out of the bowl and into sink when you let your porridge sit out too long.:

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This recipe calls for 1/4 cup mashed banana. If you have 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce feel free to use that.

I just had a plethora of – gag – overripe bananas on hand.

I have an aversion to ripe bananas. Texture, taste, smell…just….ewwww…no…

So I mash the heck out of them and put them into baked goods:

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Firstly, we mix together the wet ingredients: mashed ‘nanas, vanilla, olive oil, flax egg, and shredded apple:

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Then we toss in the remaining ingredients and use a spatula to mix ’em up:

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Using a Tablespoon, scoop out about 2 T. worth of dough and plop that heap onto a parchment lined baking sheet.

Give them a ‘lil pat on the head to flatten them to about 1/4 inch in thickness.

Six cookies per pan/batch will ensure even browning:

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If you like crunch in your cookies, like I do, lightly pat about 1 1/2 tsp. of chopped nuts onto the top of your cookie:

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In this recipe, feel free to use either Quick Oats or Old Fashioned Oats. I prefer an “oaty” cookie, so I used Old Fashioned.

Behold the oaty-ness:

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APPLE LEMON CRANBERRY OATMEAL COOKIES

Yields about 12 cookies

Ingredients:

1/4 cup olive oil (I used Texas Olive Ranch Meyer Lemon Olive Oil) *If you use regular olive oil, simply add 1 tsp. grated lemon zest.

1 medium sized apple, such as Jonagold or Golden Delicious, shredded

1 T. ground flax

2 T. water

1/4 cup (about 1/2 of a whole fruit) of mashed banana OR 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup ground Almond Meal

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1/4 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a small bowl, mix together 1 T. ground flaxseed and 2 T. water. Allow to sit undisturbed for ten minutes.

3. In a large bowl, whisk together the grated apple, flax mixture, mashed banana, olive oil (and lemon zest if using plain olive oil), and vanilla extract.

4. Add in baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and almond meal and use a spatula or wooden spoon to combine with wet ingredients.

5. Add in oats, dried cranberries, and nuts (if using).

6. Place 2 T. of dough onto parchment paper-lined baking sheet. 6 cookies per batch is ideal. Use hand or bottom of glass to flatten cookie to 1/4 inch thickness.

7. Bake at 350 for about 13 – 15 minutes or until browned at edges.

The lemon flavor is strongest right out of the oven and makes for an interesting and unusual oatmeal cookie; the citrus plays of the tang of the dried cranberries quite nicely.

Once the cookies are cool the flavors all marry and are lovely.

I highly recommend a hot cup of Earl Grey or Sweet Tea with these!

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Glazed Orange Rosemary Chicken Breast

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Happy Monday, Y’all!

Although earlier was not very happy. I had to stay home sick today from work. I’ll spare you the details. Luckily, there is a Minute Clinic inside the pharmacy down the road from my house.

I put on the cutest black and white flowered wrap-around dress that I’d gotten from Old Navy. I have been super excited to wear this dress. Being 5’1″ tall usually means that I can’t find a maxi dress that isn’t so long it looks like I’m playing dress up from a giant’s closet. Old Navy has a Petite Department on their website and…tadaaaaa…this season they’re selling maxi-dresses for us vertically challenged folk.

It was sooooooo windy today. And although I felt horrible, I was super excited to be wearing this dress. (It’s the small things, you know) I’d even dug out some wedge sandals. SCORE! I pulled up into the CVS parking lot and, very lady-like, got out of my car. I took two steps. Out of nowhere, I got hit with a blast of wind not unlike a mini tornado of doom. Yeah. You know what happened next. The super cute wrap-around dress I’d been coveting since last summer was suddenly NOT wrapped around. Imagine: Curtains blowing open.

At least there were only ten people in the parking lot. *Note Sarcasm*

I like to look on the sunny side of things, though. At least I’d shaved my legs today. 😉

Speaking of sunny things, today I have for you a nice Orange Rosemary chicken breast! (See how I worked that transition there?)

On a side note, aren’t y’all excited that the Farmer’s Markets are coming out of hibernation?

Here’s a lovely Rosemary Olive Oil that you can find at many DFW area markets or online here 

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Roasted Sweet Potatoes are the perfect complement to the chicken. I roasted mine for five minutes before squeezing the chicken in.

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Isn’t fresh citrus juice just loverly?

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The Orange/Rosemary flavor combo is a nice departure from your typical lemon marinade. The glaze is simply brought to a boil,

allowed to thicken, and finished off with a bit of unsalted butter and fresh parsley. Divine!

Keep in mind that you’ll be making the marinade and the start of the pan sauce in one bowl. Before adding your chicken, you must first remove half the liquid.

It is important to keep your sauce base away from raw chicken germs!

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Glazed Orange Rosemary Chicken Breast with a side of Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Serves 2, may easily be doubled or tripled

Ingredients:

1 cup fresh orange juice

1/2 cup Rosemary Olive Oil (You can easily substitute 1/2 cup olive oil plus 1 T. fresh, minced Rosemary or 1 tsp. dried Rosemary)

1 T. course ground Dijon mustard

1 tsp. sea salt

1/2 tsp. ground black pepper

2 chicken breasts, boneless skinless

2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced

1 tsp. olive oil

sea salt and pepper

2 T. pure maple syrup

2 T. butter

1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Directions:

1. In a large bowl, whisk together fresh orange juice, rosemary olive oil, Dijon Mustard, sea salt, and pepper. Remove half of this mixture and place into the refrigerator. To your large bowl, add in your chicken. Cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes to a few hours, turning occasionally. You can also pour the marinade into a gallon sized Ziploc bag and add your chicken. Squeeze out all air and refrigerate. This alternate method is helpful if you don’t want to be bothered with flipping your chicken.

2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

3. Toss diced sweet potatoes with 1 tsp. olive oil and sea salt and pepper to taste. Please sweet potatoes onto foil lined baking sheet. Roast for five minutes.

4. Remove sweet potatoes from oven and stir around. Place your marinated chicken (discard used marinade) amongst the sweet potatoes.

5. Roast for 25 minutes, stirring potatoes every so often to ensure they do not burn on one side. (Your chicken breast should be 165 degrees according to a meat thermometer.)

6. While your chicken is roasting, make your Orange Rosemary Glaze.

7. In a saucepan, combine previously reserved orange juice mixture with 2 T. pure maple syrup. Whisk over medium-high heat and bring to a low boil.

8. After mixture has been at a low boil for a few minutes, you will notice it begins to thicken. This is seen by the bubbles “lingering” at the top of the glaze without immediately popping. This means your glaze is D-O-N-E.

9. Remove saucepan from heat and whisk in butter and fresh parsley. Spoon over chicken and serve.

You can most definitely grill your marinated chicken breasts and serve with this glaze. I bet it would be amazing!

Okay, confessional aside…I don’t often grill because I’m scared of fire. Don’t laugh. I’m also scared of broilers. And now, thanks to the Dallas Winds, I am terrified of mean,tiny tornadoes. I’ll stick with jeans from now on.

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Indian-inspired Potato Bean Saute

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Let me kick off this post by saying that I am by no means an expert in Indian Cuisine.

Yes, I am aware that Garbanzo (Chickpea) Beans or lentils would have been more authentic. However, I was making this lunch completely on-the-fly.

STARVING, impatient, and without my glasses, what I thought was a can of Garbanzo beans turned out to be Great Northern beans.

Sigh.

I’m reminded of that insurance commercial where an elderly lady is bumbling around without her glasses, petting and speaking baby-goo-goo nonsense to what she believes to be her cat. Turns out, it was a raccoon or skunk or something like that. Hehe.

So…anyways. Yeah. I totally had a moment.

 I had a craving for something with curry and potatoes. I also wanted something filling and quick to make, and this came together in about a half hour. Not bad. Given that it has no meat or animal products in it, I was unsure if I’d be successful in getting Mr. Carnivore to eat it without complaint. It worked! He wandered in from the garage and asked what I was making because it smelled good. I have learned after ten (!) years of marriage to this man that if I make something without meat, I can’t mention that before mealtime.

After we had eaten, I compulsively just HAD to blurt out “You liked that? Well….IT IS VEEEEGAN!!!!”. I just had to prove a point, you know…

Check out how simple a healthy, hearty meal can be:

Grab yourself some good Quality Olive Oil. I used Texas Olive Ranch, of course by now you know I’m basically like their Fan Club President!

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Without starting a small fire, get your oil nice ‘n hot. Toss in your chopped onions.

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Add in your ‘taters and spices and stir until it smells nice ‘n toasty.

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Add in the rest, including your “not-so-Garbanzo-beans”.

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Toss in your green stuff. Throw a lid on it and let it simmer down.

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Doesn’t it look unauthentically deeeelish?

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EASY INDIAN-INSPIRED POTATO BEAN SAUTE

INGREDIENTS:

15 oz. can Great Northern Beans (or Garbanzo), drained and rinsed

1 T. olive oil

2 tsp. minced garlic

1 small yellow onion, diced

1 T. curry powder

1/4 tsp. ground ginger

1/4 tsp. ground cumin

one pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

2 medium Russet Potatoes, peeled and diced

1 bay leaf

1/2 cup water or veggie stock

15 oz. can petite cut diced tomatoes

1 1/2 cups kale, chopped

Lemon Wedges

To Serve: Cooked Brown Rice, Cooked Basmati Rice, Pita Bread, or Crusty French Bread

DIRECTIONS:

1. In a large, deep sauté pan heat your oil over medium heat. Add in your onions and sweat them out. Add in minced garlic and stir 30 seconds.

2. Add the diced potatoes and spices. Cook for one minute, until spices are fragrant.

3. Add in remaining ingredients, except lemon wedges, stirring to combine. Bring to boil, then cover and lower heat to low.

4. Gently simmer for 30 minutes, stirring every so often, until potatoes are very tender.

5. Remove bay leaf and serve garnished with a lemon wedge over starch of choice.

Texan Quinoa with Grapefruit Cumin Vinaigrette

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Today’s been pretty productive. In my terms, I mean. Usually I’m just happy if I manage to put mascara on.

The things I did today were the following:

1. Pick up produce co-op share from Urban Acres from outside the pickup location in front of the Crossfit studio. Make goo-goo eyes at the hot Crossfit guys. (Although it probably just looks like I have a facial twitch)

2. Go to Target. Look for dresses (for my sister’s wedding) for my two girls. Push cart like a mad woman while drinking Starbucks and chasing my girls around the clothing department while they chase each other. Like a champ, might I add. And don’t be judgy. At some point most parents find themselves in that exact situation. I just tolerate those moments better with a caramel macchiato.

3. Get hair did. It’s been a year since I’ve had it cut OR colored, but I’d be more concerned about my hair color if I hadn’t gained some weight over the past year. D’OH!

4. Take pictures of food.

5. Order take-out. (The irony is not lost on me)

I actually couldn’t wait to write a recipe after seeing the share I picked up this morning. Take a gander at the organic goodness:

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I love Spring produce! I was so excited to see Ataulfo mangoes, Rio Star Grapefuit, cilantro, parsley, red cabbage, and radishes. My faaaavorite type of lemons were also in there, Meyer, but I’m saving those for another recipe. Today I have for you a lovely, flavorful Texan Quinoa salad. Fluffy quinoa is tossed with a ton of crispy, fresh veggies and a tangy Grapefruit Cumin vinaigrette. Chunks of sour-sweet Ataulfo mango, black beans, and creamy avocado add fullness to this dish, which I prefer to serve cold or at room temperature.

So, why Grapefruit? Well, if you’ve never had a Texan, Rio Star Grapefruit you are seriously missing out. I grew up eating really, super tart grapefruit at my Grandmother’s house and I remember that instantaneous lip pucker. Ick. Rio Star grapefruit are no where NEAR that. They are heavenly. That being said, if you aren’t really a grapefruit fan this is a good way to introduce the citrus star into your diet.

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This dish is inherently vegan and gluten-free, but for my carnivorous buddies out there I imagine fish or chicken would be great.

And, of course, my love affair and fan-girl status with Texas Olive Ranch continues. I used their Roasted Garlic Olive Oil in this recipe because I didn’t feel like eating chunks of garlic today. Their olive oil is gently immersed with yummy, garlicky goodness and I felt it rounded out the vinaigrette quite nicely.

This recipe does require a bit of chopping, but I PROMISE you it is so worth it. If you are crunched on time, swing by the salad bar at your grocery store and load up on pre-chopped veggies! I won’t judge.

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TEXAN QUINOA with GRAPEFRUIT CUMIN VINAIGRETTE

Serves 4 -6 as an entrée, 8 – 12 as a side dish

Quinoa Ingredients:

1 cup quinoa, rinsed

2 cups vegetable broth or water

1 cup carrots, sliced into thin rounds or matchsticks

3 medium radishes, diced

2 cups red cabbage, shredded

1/2 medium red onion, diced

1 small bunch cilantro, chopped

1/2 bunch parsley, chopped

3 green onions, thinly sliced

1 yellow bell pepper, diced

1 jalapeno, minced

15 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained

1 mango, diced

1 avocado, diced

salt and pepper, to taste

 Grapefruit Cumin vinaigrette, see below

Directions:

1. In medium pot over medium high heat, bring two cups water or broth to boil. Stir in rinsed quinoa. Cover and reduce heat to low. Cook for 15 minutes or until quinoa has absorbed all liquid and is fluffy. Set aside and let cool.

2.  Chop all veggies according to ingredients specifications.

3. When quinoa is cool, add veggies from carrots through jalapeno. Season as desired with salt and pepper.

4. Drizzle prepared Grapefruit Cumin Vinaigrette over salad and toss to combine.

5. Add rinsed black beans, mango, and avocado to top of salad and gently fold into salad.

6. Serve at room temperature or chill in refrigerator for at least two hours.

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Grapefruit Cumin Vinaigrette

makes enough for a full recipe of Texan Quinoa or enough to dress six salads or as a marinade for tofu,fish, shrimp, or chicken

Ingredients:

1 large grapefruit (enough for 6 ounces juice)

1/4 cup olive oil, such as Roasted Garlic Olive Oil

1 tsp. honey

1 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. oregano

salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

1. Slice grapefruit in half and extract its juice.

2. Combine juice and remaining ingredients in tightly covered jar and vigorously shake to combine.

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Chili con cornbread

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There’s something about chili that just screams comfort food.

And versatility, too. You can eat it a zillion different ways: on baked potatoes, French fries, tater tots, hamburgers, hot dogs, crushed Fritos corn chips, or just straight up.

There are also a zillion different ways to top it: cheddar cheese, crema fresca, sour cream, white onions, green onions, chives, chopped cilantro, and on and on.

And let’s not even get started about the many, many different ways to prepare it.

This is my favorite, and a favorite with my family as well. I like it just on the verge of being too spicy. It’s a delicate balance, and one’s tolerance for scoville units is definitely open to personal interpretation. This chili is pretty middle of the road – a great recipe for kids. I love chili spooned over a big wedge of slightly sweet, homemade cornbread. I love the balance of spicy versus sweet. And then, of course, I have to top it off with some sour cream and green onions. Heavenly.

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Being that I live in Texas, it would be an absolute sin to make my chili with Wallyworld ground beef. I’m fortunate enough to live near a great butcher shop, Local Yocal, which is owned by the Farmers that raise the grass-fed beef they sell. They also provide an outlet for other quality artisans; check it out here. They also sell delicious local eggs, too. I used these in my cornbread.

I stopped in the market and had a great time perusing the assortment. The woman that helped me pick what to purchase was an absolute gem. I just wish I had gotten her name so I could give her the proper acknowledgement. Ultimately, she recommended using half grass fed beef and half Wagyu beef in my chili. Boy, I’m glad I listened. That was some pure beef magic, right there.

“Is there really a difference between grocery store beef and locally sourced?” YES! Their grass-fed beef was very clean, a crisp, focused, beef taste without any background noise as I call it. Y(ou know, that faint plastic wrapped taste that grocery store beef has after sitting in the case for so long?) The Wagyu beef was also delicious; a very rich, almost buttery taste. Incredible. Indulgent.

I used the Chipotle infused special edition olive oil from Texas Olive Ranch to sauté my beef and onions. The specialty line is available at Farmer’s Markets in Texas, but a suitable substitute would be Rattlesnake from Texas Olive Ranch, which can be purchased at larger grocery chains in Texas as well as at Local Yocal.

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Even my terrier wanted a bowl of chili. Check out the photo-bomb below. You know she was just waiting for me to drop that bowl. Now, let’s get down to it, shall we?

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CHILI CON CORNBREAD

Makes 6 – 8 servings

CHILI

Ingredients:

1 lb. ground beef.

1 large onion, diced

2 T. olive oil

2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. garlic powder

2 tsp. garlic, minced

1 1/2 T. Worcestershire sauce

1 cup water

8 oz. tomato sauce

15 oz. can diced tomatoes

15 oz. can pinto beans, undrained

15. oz. can kidney beans, undrained

15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed

2 T. chili powder

1 t. ground chipotle

1 t. ground ancho chili powder

1 t. smoked paprika

1 t. ground cumin

1 t. oregano

1/3 cup fresh parley, minced

Directions:

1. In dutch oven, heat 2 T. olive oil over medium high. Add onions and cook until softened. Add minced garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds.

2. Add ground beef, salt, and garlic powder. Cook until beef is browned.

3. Add remaining ingredients and bring to boil.

4. Once boiling, lower heat to low and allow to simmer one hour. Stir every fifteen minutes or so.

That’s it! Easy peasy. This chili makes a lot and it freezes wonderfully.

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CORN BREAD

Ingredients:

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted in a large glass bowl

1/2 cup sugar

2 eggs, room temperature

1 cup buttermilk

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup cornmeal

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 cup corn kernels (optional)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and generously butter a 9×9 baking dish or line a muffin pan with liners.

1. Melt butter in the microwave in a large Pyrex bowl. Whisk in sugar and set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, and salt.

3. Returning to the large bowl with the melted butter/sugar, whisk in the eggs.

4. Quickly stir the baking soda into the buttermilk, pour into butter mixture and whisk to combine.

5. Gently whisk in dry ingredients, stirring just until combined. Small bumps are a-ok.

6. Pour into baking dish and bake for 35 minutes. If you are making muffins, bake 20 – 25 minutes (my oven bakes them perfectly in 22 minutes)

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Creamy Avocado Cilantro Pasta

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After last night’s carnivorous dinner of Steak and Cheese Panini, I decided tonight was MY night. After all, I did end up eating Apple Jacks for dinner since I don’t eat that much in the way of meat. I can’t really say that I’m vegetarian or vegan. I generally avoid any kind of label. I eat dairy and eggs in moderation and meat every once in a blue moon, if obtained from a responsible source. I just really dig my veggies, man.

Today during lunch, I am happy to report that I did NOT get lost going to Green Grocer again. While I was there, I picked up a few items that just “looked good”: organic brown rice pasta, organic cilantro, organic crookneck squash, and my FAVORITE TOMATOES from Amelia’s Farm. Amelia’s Farm is a Texan company (yeehaw!) and I’m not joking – they grow the best tomatoes I’ve ever had in my entire life!

And, oh yeah, I sautéed the squash and totally forgot about adding it to the pasta. Whoops.

I also forgot to put the avocado in the picture of the sauce ingredients. I blame that on the dinnertime rush.

I’ve said it before, many times, that good quality ingredients can elevate a simple supper to extremes. This simple Creamy Avocado Cilantro Pasta is one of those. Not only is it vegan and gluten free, it’s brimming with good-for-you-fats from the olive oil and avocado used in the sauce. A healthy portion of the aforementioned veggies and some organic black beans completes this dish, adding extra fiber and protein.

This dish is super easy and is weeknight worthy; it came together for me in 20 minutes! Served warm or cold, this recipe makes enough for four very generous main entrée portions or about 8-10 side dish servings.

I topped mine with some Bragg’s nutritional yeast for some added B-vitamins.

Enjoy!

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Creamy Avocado Cilantro Sauce

(makes about one cup, depending on the size of your cilantro bunch)

1 bunch cilantro

2 tsp. minced garlic

1/4 cup raw almonds

1/2 lime

1/2 avocado, flesh scooped from outer skin

1/4 cup good quality olive oil, such as Texas Olive Ranch

1 tsp. sea salt

1/2 tsp. fresh ground pepper

Directions:

1. In the bowl of a food processor or blender, process all ingredients until a slightly chunky sauce forms. Stop every 15 seconds or so to scrape the bowl. (My mini-chopper did the job in about 1 minute)

That’s it! This sauce, similar to a pesto, would make a wonderful sandwich spread. It would also be tasty spooned over some goat cheese and served with crackers. Keep this in the fridge for up to three days.

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Creamy Avocado Cilantro Pasta

Ingredients:

12 oz. bag of brown rice pasta (or equal amount of any other type pasta)

1 T. sea salt (for adding to pasta water)

2 medium tomatoes, diced

1 cup corn kernels

15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed

1/2 bunch green onions, sliced

1 batch of Creamy Avocado Cilantro sauce

Lime Wedges, to serve

Nutritional Yeast or Queso Fresco, to serve

Directions:

1. Bring a large pot full of water to boil, adding in 1 T. of sea salt. Cook pasta per package directions.

2. Meanwhile, make your Creamy Avocado Sauce.

3. Once pasta is al dente, drain and rinse briefly with fresh water.

4. In a large serving bowl, gently toss the cooked pasta with prepared sauce, tomatoes, beans, corn, and scallions. Season with additional salt and pepper and serve with lime wedges and optional cheese.

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“Don’t Follow Me, I’m Lost” Steak and Cheese Panini

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Fellow veggie friends, I am sorry.

See, I’m married to a carnivore and have spawned one carnivorous daughter. And they loooooooooove their steaks.

I don’t pass judgment on dietary/lifestyle preferences, which is why when I’m out and about Dallas and find a really good cut of meat I usually get some for the family.

Earlier today, I intended to swing by Green Grocer to get a green juice. However, the onramp to 75 was shut down and I was forced to try to find my way over to Lower Greenville. Key word:try. I really don’t know what I did. I thought I could cut over and pick up Greenville by taking some side street, but instead I found myself in Deep Ellum. This was a good thing, really! I’m just glad I didn’t end up in Louisiana, to be honest.

Driving down Elm, I saw the signage for Rudolph’s Market, so I went inside; come to find out it has been in business 118 years! That’s crazy. Anyways, I love me a family business so I picked up a package of a cut of beef called “Philly Steak”. I just knew my two meat eaters would love me for it. Rudolph’s also sells breads from Empire Baking Company , and I picked up a yummy looking loaf of Jalapeno Cheddar.

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Vegetarians, avert your eyes! Look away!

I then went skipping wandering a bit further down Elm. I didn’t really know where I was going. My husband shouldn’t let me out of the house, I tend to wander and collect things. (Dogs, cool rocks, pictures of sunsets, loaves of bread, stuff like that) My husband wants to see if he can have one of those teddy bear toddler leashes made in adult size. He blames the Red Bull. I blame my overconsumption of Jack Kerouac novels and a teenage fascination with “On The Road”.

Anywho, I then saw the signage for Mozzarella Company, which sells cars. Just kidding. They sell cheese, lots and lots of delicious cheese. I had so much fun inside that store. I was lucky to have met the owner, Paula Lambert. She opened Mozzarella Company 32 years ago! What an accomplishment. I enjoyed discussing cheeses with her, and even sampled her newest flavor cheese which is infused with lemon. Divine! I told Paula what I had purchased at Rudolph’s and she suggested a Black Pepper Garlic Cacciota cheese. My husband and 8 year old went gaga over it.

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If you ever find yourself “lost” in Deep Ellum, make sure you swing by this place. It’s the only one I know of where you can meet the person that makes your cheese!

Okay…redirecting here. Let’s get to the recipe, shall we? This Panini is super easy to make. Perfect for a weeknight dinner.

STEAK AND PEPPERED CHEESE PANINI

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INGREDIENTS:

1 1/2 lbs. steak, thinly sliced

1 T. Worcestershire Sauce

1/2 cup Mesquite Olive Oil (Texas Olive Ranch, as always) OR 1/2 cup olive oil plus 1/2 tsp. liquid smoke

1/3 cup vinegar or lemon juice (I used Pecan Balsamic)

1 tsp. hot sauce

Sea Salt

1/2 red onion, sliced

2 – 3 T. olive oil, separated, for cooking onion slices and steak slices

1 loaf of nice, crusty bread

1 clove garlic, halved

1/4 lb. quality cheese (if you aren’t in the Dallas area, use any mild white cheese plus a nice dose of cracked black pepper)

Optional condiments: Greens, sliced tomatoes, jalapenos, spicy carrots, etc.

DIRECTIONS:

1. In a large Ziploc bag, combine the Worcestershire, oil, vinegar, hot sauce, and shake to combine. Add your slices of steak and let marinate for 15 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, in large sauté pan over medium high heat, heat enough oil to cook red onions until starting to brown. Remove from pan.

3. Remove marinated meat and discard remaining marinade. Generously sprinkle sea salt onto steak. Working in batches, fry steak slices in oil until browned and cooked through. Set aside.

4. Cut clove of garlic in half, rubbing the cut end over your slices of bread.

5. Layer sliced steak, cheese, onions, and any other desired condiments into a sandwich.

6. Using a Panini press, cook sandwich per machine directions. If you don’t have one, use a large pan and place your Panini in the middle. Using a small pan, gently press down on your sandwich. After 1 – 2 minutes, flip over and repeat the pressing. Viola!

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Belgian Waffles with Balsamic Blueberry Velvet Syrup

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Belgian Waffles, meet Blueberry.

Blueberry, meet Blueberry Balsamic Vinegar.

Yup. Blueberry Balsamic Vinegar for breakfast. Okay, well maybe not FOR breakfast, but certainly IN it.

As we edge closer and closer to spring, I’ve noticed a distinct change in my food cravings. I’ve finally kicked my butternut squash craving, kicked my Brussels Sprout yearnings to the yard. Now, I want berries. I was asparagus and peas. I want tastes of Spring!

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So, naturally, whilst strolling the Dallas Farmer’s Market this past Friday I snapped up a huge pint of plump, juicy blueberries for about $2. What a steal!

It’s now Sunday morning and around my house, this usually means a big breakfast. Pancakes, eggs, bacon…stuff like that. I’d saved my basket of berries specifically for Sunday morning, because I knew just what I wanted. Blueberry waffles! And because I’m always looking for ways to take my go-to dishes over the top, I whipped up a batch of blueberry syrup and amped it up with a healthy dose of Blueberry Balsamic Vinegar from Texas Olive Ranch.

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As you can see, I’m not an expert vinegar-pourerer (that’s the technical term, ya know)

SIMPLY SPICED WAFFLES

(Makes 3 large Belgian Waffles, or 6 traditional sized waffles)

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INGREDIENTS:

2 cups of All-Purpose flour

2 T. sugar

1 T. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg

1 cup blueberries, rinsed and lightly patted dry

1 1/2 cups whole milk

1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

1 tsp. vanilla

2 eggs, separated

DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat your waffle iron.

2. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Gently stir in blueberries to coat in the flour.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, melted butter, vanilla, and egg yolks.

4. Gently stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients until just combined.

5. Beat egg whites until stiff, then gently fold them into combined waffle batter.

6. Generously spray the waffle iron with cooking spray and fill and cook your waffles per iron directions.

BALSAMIC BLUEBERRY VELVET SYRUP

(The “Velvet” part came from my hubby, who remarked that the syrup was “velvety and amazing”. I love him! Always a willing guinea pig)

This makes about 2 cups of syrup and will keep about one week in the fridge.

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INGREDIENTS:

1 cup blueberries, rinsed and gently patted dry

1/2 cup pure maple syrup

2 T. Blueberry Balsamic Vinegar (substitute regular Balsamic Vinegar if you need to)

2 tsp. unsulfured Molasses

1 tsp. vanilla

pinch of salt

DIRECTIONS

1. Combine all ingredients in small sauce pot and bring to a gentle boil.

2. Simmer approximately 15 minutes, until most berries have burst and released their juicy goodness.

3. Spoon over waffles, pancakes, cake, or even ice cream and enjoy!

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Sesame Panko Crusted Salmon on Braised Asian Veggies

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This morning I found myself in awe. See, I have recently undertaken an attempt at starting a veggie patch. And when I say veggie patch, I really mean I have three green things that I am attempting to grow sitting on my window sill: basil, spinach, and green onions. I once saw on Pinterest that you can grow green onions just by sticking the leftover root-stumps (technical term) into a glass of water and letting them do their thing. I figured “Why Not?”, threw caution in the wind and set those suckers on the ledge overlooking my backyard (hoping that the dogs wouldn’t disturb my feeble attempts at developing a green thumb).

This isn’t the first time that I’ve attempted to harness the power of nature and grow my own food. Let’s see…attempt #1 was back in my late teens. I tried to grow carrots, which never even so much as sprouted in the container; I ended up pitching the container in the trash after three months of fruitless hope and despair. Imagine my surprise when my Dad went to get something out of the side yard and noticed some little stray plants. Thinking they were weeds, he pulled them out, only to discover some monstrous abomination of nature – three nubby carrots and only one carrot top. Like some kind of veggie freak. I was too weirded out to even eat them, so they went to my Uncle Tony’s rabbit instead.

Notable attempt #2 occurred many moons after the mutant carrot adventure, after we’d moved to Texas. I wanted to teach my girls about food, sustainability, yada yada, so I’d purchased what should have been a foolproof herb garden starter kit from Home Depot. So, one sunny afternoon, my girls and I sat in the front yard carefully patting the seeds into the little pockets of soil. We were even joined by three neighbor kids, who up until that point seemed absolutely terrified of me. Now I was feeling pretty cool. I even told the kids how we would meet up to check the progress of the herbs every day. What a cute plan, no? Then I went on a three day business trip, Dallas got a HUGE windstorm, and I returned home to find little herblings (another technical term) strewn about the backyard, along with the hopes and dreams of every child on my street.

*sigh*

But…back to the current veggies. I’m pleased to report that from last week to today, my green onions have in fact regenerated. Wow!

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Except for the basil, that poor bastard:

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Now, onto today’s recipe. I’ve been craving veggies and salmon for weeks now. Last week, in my co-op share from Urban Acres, I got a huge, honkin’ head ‘o bok choy. It seems only natural to braise it and top it off with some salmon. Bok Choy, of course, is very good in Asian flavored dishes and this particular one is no exception. It is a quick, hearty, healthy meal loaded with vitamins and heart healthy fats.

Just do yourself a favor. If you cannot grow anything like myself, sign up for a co-op or just pick up your veggies from the grocery store. Unless you are into mutant carrots.

Also, I served this with a Basmati rice. I have not included the directions in this post, but simply follow the directions on your package. A good time to start your rice (mine had only a 15 minute cook time) is after you’ve prepared your teriyaki sauce and set your salmon in the fridge to hang out and marinade for 30 minutes. You’ll also want to start your veggies during this time and everything with be ready around the same time. Start to finish this dish took me only 45 minutes, most of that time was spent taking pictures. Ha!

SESAME PANKO CRUSTED SALMON ON BRAISED ASIAN VEGGIES

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TERIYAKI SAUCE

Ingredients:

1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce

1/4 cup pineapple juice

1/4 cup olive oil (I used Texas Olive Ranch’s Meyer Lemon Oil)

2 T. brown sugar

1 T. Rice Wine Vinegar

1 T. sesame seeds

1 tsp. ginger, ground or fresh

1 tsp. minced garlic

Directions:

1. Whisk all ingredients together in a medium bowl.

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SESAME PANKO CRUSTED SALMON

Ingredients:

4 individual sized Salmon fillets (approx. 5 oz. each)

1/2 recipe Teriyaki Sauce (see above)

1 1/2 cups Panko bread crumbs

2 T. olive oil

1/4 tsp. ground black pepper

Directions:

1. Set Salmon fillets in rectangular glass dish.

2. Pour 1/2 recipe of the Teriyaki Sauce over the fish and marinate, in the fridge, for 30 minutes. (THIS IS A GOOD POINT TO START YOUR RICE AND GET WORKING ON YOUR BRAISED VEGGIES!)

3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil, lightly greased.

5. After marinating time is up, remove your fillets from the marinade and place on prepared sheet. DISCARD USED MARINADE!

6. In a small mixing bowl, combine Panko bread crumbs with olive oil. Divide mixture evenly to the top of salmon fillets, patting down to ensure they stick to the top of the fish.

7. Bake in oven for 12-15 minutes, until salmon flakes easily with a fork. See picture below for a visual of what “flaky” fish looks like:

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BRAISED ASIAN VEGGIES

Ingredients:

1 head Bok Choy, rinsed and sliced into 1/2 inch ribbons

1 cup carrots, sliced on the bias (fancy word for diagonally)

1 sweet bell pepper, diced into large chunks

1 cup edamame, removed from tough outer shell (you can find these shelled in the frozen foods aisle)

1/2 cup water or veggie broth

Directions:

1. Preheat a large sauté pan over medium heat.

2. Pour veggie broth or water into pan and add your veggies. (Using water/broth to braise your veggies saves you from extra fat/calories!)

3. Cook veggies about 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until the carrots just have a slight bite to them. You still want your veggies to be crispy and not mush.

 

To tie the dish together:

On a dinner plate, place about a 1/2 cup serving of rice, followed by about 3/4 cup veggie mixture. Drizzle 2 T. of remaining Teriyaki Sauce (NOT used for marinating your fish) over rice and veggies. Top this colorful mound of deliciousness with your crunchy Salmon. Dig in!

 

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Spicy Noodles with Greens and Shallot

Spicy Noodles with Greens and Shallot

Upon waking up yesterday morning, I had decided to give up carbs and coffee in an attempt to quickly shed some pounds for my sister’s upcoming wedding.

Aside from the fact that I have a biscuit hanging out of my mouth as I type this post, one can easily see from the picture above that by late afternoon yesterday my determination had quickly waned.

You see, yesterday I picked up my co-op share from Urban Acres  and it was just bursting with all kinds of yummy things. Specifically, a bunch of organic greens: Dandelion, Turnip, and Spinach.

Yesterday was also “clean out the fridge, pantry, and freezer day”. While rooting around the deep freezer, I came across a container of fresh Sweet Potato pasta I had purchased from Jimmy’s Food Store on Bryan off Fitzhugh in Dallas.

I got to thinking…Pasta. Shallots. Greens. Spice. Four things that I love dearly. Have you tried Rattlesnake Oil from Texas Olive Ranch before? It has cracked pepper and Chipotle peppers! Delicious.

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I’m no quitter. Except for when it comes to carbs. I love me some carbs, especially spicy ones tossed with greens, caramelized shallots, and olive oil with a shot of balsamic vinegar. I used Pomegranate Balsamic, but just like with any of my recipes, you can substitute plain. (I just really, really recommend Texas Olive Ranch as you can see from my collection in the background. Everyone has their splurges, right?)

This recipe is very quick to come together, making it perfect for weeknight meals.

SPICY NOODLES WITH GREENS AND SHALLOT

Serves 8 as a side or 4 as a main with VERY generous servings

Ingredients

16 oz. noodles of choice (fresh if possible!)

1 cup shallot, sliced thin (about 4 -5 bulbs)

2 tsp. minced garlic

1 bunch Dandelion greens

1 bunch Turnip greens

1 medium bunch spinach (or 3 cups baby spinach)

1/2 cup Rattlesnake Olive Oil (or 1/2 cup olive oil and 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes) plus 3 T. for sautéing veggies

1/4 cup Pomegranate Balsamic Vinegar (or 1/4 cup Balsamic)

1/3 cup water or vegetable broth

Sea Salt and Pepper, to taste

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Directions:

 

2. Meanwhile, carefully rinse your greens to ensure all gritty dirt is removed from leaves. Pat dry and slice into thin ribbons. Set aside. Slice shallots and prepare your sauté pan.

3. In a large sauté pan, heat 3 T. olive oil over medium heat. Add shallots to pan and sauté approximately 3 minutes until softened.

4. Add vinegar to pan and cook about 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently until slightly reduced and shallots are very soft. If shallots start to stick, splash in some water or veggie broth.

5. Add sliced greens to sauté pan, along with minced garlic and water or veggie broth. Cook approx. 3 minutes longer, until greens are wilted and a vibrant green.

6. Once noodles are cooked, drain and empty into a large serving dish. Add cooked greens and shallots to bowl, along with 1/2 cup olive oil. Using tongs, gently toss to combine.

 

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This dish would be lovely with some toasted walnuts or some Parmesan cheese. Vegans could also use some nutritional yeast as this dish as written is vegan friendly.

Real quick – back to my talk of carb-cutting and coffee elimination. IF you regularly consume 1/2 a pot of coffee a day (like me), do not try to create, cook, and photograph two blog posts at once while making sandwiches for your young-uns. You run the risk of angering the boiling pasta gods, nearly getting your starchy pasta water splashed into your Mango Jam. See photo below:

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Now, if you’ll excuse me….I’m off to pour another cup of coffee.