Monday, March 30, 2009

Salmon en Croute

March 25th was a fish day so I decided to venture off from my fail-proof poached salmon and try something new. Salmon en croute is what I decided on. This dish has many varieties but it is basically just salmon wrapped in puffed pastry and baked. The pastry keeps the fish moist and captures all the flavors in one neat pocket. There are many recipes out there but I just threw some ingredients that I had on hand and made a mild spinach pesto. One could easily used a prepared basil or other type of pesto but I decided on a spinch pesto that would not overpower the flavor of the salmon. I also made these the night before and put them in the freezer and baked them the next evening which worked out perfectly.


6 servings

  • 1 large skinless salmon fillet cut into 6 2" fillets
  • 2 frozen puff pastry sheets thawed
  • 1 box frozen chopped spinach thawed
  • 1/2 cup toasted almonds
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 -1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 small hand full fresh basil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • zest and juice of half a lemon
  • lemon pepper
  • salt and pepper


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Toast the almonds in a dry skillet until aromatic. Put the thawed, chopped spinach in a cleaned dish cloth and wring out all excess moisture. And the almonds, spinach, garlic, basil, lemon zest and juice in a food process and mix until it starts to resemble a paste. While the food processor is on, drizzle in the olive oil and enough vegetable broth through the top of the food processor until a thick pesto is formed. Salt and pepper to taste.

Season the salmon fillets generously with lemon pepper and quickly sear in a very hot skillet with a little oil (not more the 1 or 2 minutes on each side). This step can be skipped altogether and if your fillets are thin I would recommend not searing them.

Lightly flour your work surface and roll out the puff pastry sheets to 1/8" thickness. Place a fillet on the pastry, top the fillet generously with the spinach pesto and cut around the fillet insuring that there will be enough dough to fully enclose the salmon fillet. Wrap the fillet like you would a present and place seam side down on a parchment lined baking sheet and repeat for the remaining fillets. Brush with olive oil and bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes.

Recipe from me

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Raw Vegan Brownies

This is a great recipe I ran across. Very easy and tasty. They are more like a really good LARA or Power bar than a brownie, however. I doubled the batch because I wanted a thicker bar. They are a little over a 1/2" thick if you double the recipe. If you do make a double batch, to make it easier on your food processor, mix one batch at a time and then add both to your prepared 8"x8" pan. I dusted mine with powdered sugar after I cut them. They freeze really well and are great to take in your lunch. Give these a try.


12 servings

  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1/2 cup pitted dried dates
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons honey or agave nectar


Place all ingredients in food processor and mix until the mix comes together. Spray a 8"x8" plan with cooking spray and press mixtures into pan and put in the freezer for an hour or until they are easy to cut.

Recipe courtesy 28 Cooks

Local Grass Fed Beef

On Saturday I picked up my half of a beef cow from Silvana Meats. My freezer is now packed which makes me really happy. My parents have been raising beef cows for as long as I can remember so I have been very fortunate to have been raised on grass-fed beef my whole life. Grass-fed beef can be more expensive but supporting your local farmers, avoiding steroids, antibiotics, meat recalls and cattle that are inhumanely treated is worth the added expense in my opinion. Support your local farmers!

European Peasant Bread

More bread from Artisan Bread In Five Minutes A Day! I have to say I really can't believe this bread is coming out of my oven, and with so little effort. It is better than what I can get at the store and the last time I looked, a loaf this size was $4.99. These loaves are about .50 cents each (and if you are wondering, yes I'm dutch :) ). It is so easy and to prove this, while I was at work my husband pulled out some dough and made his own loaf and that was his first bead making experience ever. It was not the prettiest loaf but there was nothing wrong with the taste. I even brought some dough with me to work and baked myself a fresh bun in our toaster oven at work...I know I'm a little crazy!

For this batch of European Peasant Bread, I tried the method of baking the bread it a dutch oven. It worked great and I will probably continue using this method. With my fist round of ABn5 bread I was using the method where you put an empty broiler pan in the oven then toss some water into it just after you put the bread in. What I found was that all the steam was putting the flame out in my oven. All I had to do was turn the oven off, then on again but I don't have to worry about it using the dutch oven.

If you are at all interested in baking this bread, I really recommend getting the book but you can find the recipe here.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Fresh Artisan Bread

I love, love, love good bread. I miss the bread from il Fornaio in Rome. So one of my goals is to start making some really good bread. I have made traditional baguettes which take forever and really did not taste better than the ones I could pick up from our local super market. I also just really don't have that kind of time. But then I found something that is taking the foodie blog world by storm and that is Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. I ordered my book last week but just could not wait so I scoured the Internet for the recipe for their master loaf and one of the co-authors had it on this site (I will let you visit that site for the recipe and directions).I made the dough last night and it did only take me 5 minutes and I baked two loaves tonight after work. This is a time commitment I'm willing to make! So I literally just took my first bite and I must say I'm VERY impressed. The crust is crisp yet chewy with an open and moist crumb. I really can't wait for my book to arrive now. Stay tuned, there will be much more bread to come!

Minestrone with Orzo

So as you can see I'm very much into the soups lately. I think that even though my crocuses have come and gone it still feels very much like winter. This is a great, hearty soup packed with vegetables that will see you through until spring.


Serves 6-8

  • 1/2 pound (about 1 1/4 cups) dried white beans such as Great Northern, picked over and rinsed
  • 2/3 cups orzo pasta
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 rib of celery, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped fine
  • 1 zucchini, scrubbed and cut into 1/4-inch slices then halved
  • 1 yellow squash, scrubbed and cut into 1/4-inch slices then halved
  • 1/4 pound green beans, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 pound boiling potatoes
  • 4 cups shredded green cabbage (preferably Savoy)
  • 1/2 pound kale, rinsed, drained, stems discarded, and the leaves chopped (about 6 cups)
  • a 28-ounce can tomatoes, chopped coarse and drained well
  • 4 1/2 cups vegetable broth (preferably low-salt)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • sea salt and pepper to taste


In a large bowl let the white beans soak in enough water to cover them by 2 inches overnight or quick-soak them. Drain the white beans, in a saucepan combine them with enough water to cover them by 2 inches, and simmer them, uncovered, adding more water if necessary to keep them barely covered, for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until they are tender. Add the salt and simmer the white beans for 5 minutes more. Remove the pan from the heat and let the white beans stand, uncovered.

In a heavy kettle add the oil and cook the onion until it is softened. Add the carrots, the celery, and the garlic and cook the mixture, stirring, for 4 minutes. Add the zucchini, the green beans, and the potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch dice, and cook the mixture, stirring, for 4 minutes. Add the cabbage and the kale and cook the mixture, stirring, until the cabbage is wilted. Add the tomatoes, broth, bay leaves, and red pepper flakes and simmer the soup, covered, for 1 hour.

Drain the white beans, reserving the liquid, in a blender or food processor purée half of them with 1 cup of the reserved liquid, and stir the purée, the remaining white beans and the orzo into the soup. Simmer the soup, uncovered, for 15 minutes, thin it if desired with some of the remaining reserve liquid, and season it with salt and pepper. The soup may be made 3 days in advance and kept covered and chilled. Reheat the soup, thinning it with water as desired. Serve with crusty bread.

Recipe adapted from Gourmet

Corn Chowder

I love few things more than a thick creamy chowder with lots of cream...but not really something one can have too often for obvious reasons. This is a very easy and healthy recipe for a thick, creamy and satisfying chowder.


Serves 4-6

  • 5-6 medium sized potatoes (I used red)
  • 1 15 oz. can corn with liquid
  • 1-2 cups unsweetened plain almond milk (you could use milk)
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste


Cut the potatoes into quarters and boil until soft, about 10 minutes. Puree the potato, with the skin on, in a food processor. Stir in the almond milk, as well as the seasonings. Add the potato mixture to a large sauce pan as well as the can of corn with liquid. Heat to desired temperature and thin with water if necessary.

Recipe inspired by The Summertree Cafe

Monday, March 9, 2009

Oatmeal-Raisin Spice Cookies

I decided I wanted to come up with a healthier oatmeal cookie. This is what I came up with. They were really good I think and would lend well to many different additions(white chocolate and cranberries etc). I added raisins, chocolate chunks, and coconut but feel free to play around. These are also vegan as well.


Makes 2 dozen cookies

  • 1/2 cup evaporated cane juice (or granulated sugar)
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup prune puree (Put 6-8 pitted prunes in food processor and add 3-4 tables spoons hot water. Pulse until pureed.)*
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons almond milk (I used unsweetened vanilla)
  • 3/4 cups all-purpose flower
  • 1/2-3/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour (use more or less depending on how wet the mix is)**
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 4 oz chopped semi-sweet chocolate (I used Baker's brand. Does not have milk or milk fat)
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Coat baking sheets with vegetable cooking spray. In large bowl, whisk together sugars, prune puree, water, almond milk, and vanilla until well mixed, about 1 minute. In medium bowl, combine flour, spice, baking soda, and salt; stir into sugar mixture until well blended. Stir in oats, raisins, chocolate, and coconut. Drop by spoonfuls onto prepared baking sheets, spacing 2 inches apart. Bake for 12 minutes or until edges start to brown. Remove from baking sheets to wire rack to cool completely.

* you could use prune baby food or Sunsweet makes a product called Fat Replacer Bear Fruit that is a mix of prunes and apples that you can find in the baking isle by the oils.

** I think it is best to add the all-purpose flour first then mix all the ingredients and then add the WW flour a little at a time to get the desired "wetness". A wetter mix will make cookies that flatten out and are chewy. A dryer mix will create a cookies that stays in a ball shape and is more dense.

Walnut Sliders

I saw Sandra Lee from the Food Network make these walnut burgers that were inspired by Rudy's Drive-In in Wisconsin. These burgers I guess are a top seller so I was intrigued! Normally I don't pay much attention to Sandra Lee's show, Semi Homemade because well, she often uses a lot of processed and prepared foods, hence the name. But, as I watched the show I saw that these burgers were really healthy and had no processed items in them. So I put it in my "must make soon pile". That was a few months ago and I thought that these would be perfect to make as sliders for a birthday party I was going to. They are easy to put together, have great taste and texture and only got good reviews at the party.

I did a little more research and found that Rudy's version of the burger does not have chickpeas and has cheddar and parmesan in them. I think I will try a few different versions in the future and know that after these I will never buy store bought veggie burgers again. I bet these patties would freeze well and they are vegan too so great for Lent!

Modified from Sandra Lee's Drive-In Walnut Burger.


Makes 8 slider sized burger or 4 large burgers

  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 3/4 cup canned garbanzo beans, drained
  • 1/3 cup plain dried whole wheat bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon grill seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon ground flax seeds plus 3 tablespoons water (let stand for 15 minutes)
  • 8 whole wheat or multi grain rolls
  • Hamburger fixings


In a food processor, combine walnuts, garbanzo beans, bread crumbs, grill seasoning, paprika, pepper flakes, oil and vinegar and pulse until coarsely ground.

Flax and water mixture to food processor and pulse for 10 seconds, just enough to incorporate the ingredients. Divide into 8 equal-size parts; roll into balls, and flatten with the palm of your hand into 3/4-inch-thick patties.

Place burgers on oiled grill or skillet. Cook 4 minutes per side.

Serve hot on toasted buns.

Cod Liver Oil

So, I'm not a huge supplement fan. I believe if you eat a healthy and balanced diet one should get most of the nutrients we need. However, somethings are hard to get enough of through food alone, especially if you don't have a high caloric diet.

I do feel that one supplement that is great to add to your diet is cod liver oil. It is one of the most concentrated and reliable source for DHA, EPA, vitamin A, and vitamin D. These four nutrients are needed for: healthy skin, strong bones, healthy joints, healthy cardiovascular system, nervous system, and a healthy lining for your digestive tract.

Cod liver oil comes in both gel caps and in liquid form. I have tried gel caps and was often having fishy burps (not pleasant). I had heard that the higher quality fish oil is used for the straight oil in liquid form so I have been using that and have had no problem with unpleasant fish burps. I should add that a chaser of juice is a must for me.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


I was at my local food co-op and bought a big bag of dried chick peas. I'm a big fan of falafel and I thought it was about time for me to make some from scratch. I'm so glad I did! It takes a little time. The chick peas need to soak for hours but it is really very easy and I made up the whole batch and put the falafel patties in the freezer. I can just grab a few any time I want and just like that you have a quick and easy lunch!

(25 falafel balls)
2 cups of dries chickpeas, soaked in water for 12 hours
Crumbs from 2 slices of white bread
5 cloves of garlic
2 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup chopped parsley
1/2 cup chopped coriander
1/2 small onion
1 spoon of sesame seeds
1 teaspoon cumin spice
1 teaspoon paprika
Salt, pepper
Oil for deep frying**

1. Wash the soaked chickpeas and put them in a food processor with the garlic, onion and spices. Grind until you get a rough moist texture. Add a little water if needed.
2. Move the mixture into a large bowl, add the rest of the ingredients and put aside, covered, for 30-60 minutes.
3. Warm the oil - it should be hot, not boiling. Add the baking soda to the mixture and knead a little.
4. Wet your hands and shape little balls (smaller then apricots). Fry until you get a deep brown shade. Serve hot!
**I have also just brushed the patties with oil and baked them in the oven. They don't get as crunchy but are still very good.

Recipe courtesy The Hummus Blog

Lentil Soup

The majority of the Christians world wide are observing Great Lent. For Orthodox Christians like me that means no meat, dairy, and a few other things. We basically become vegan for forty days. For the next few weeks I will be sharing some great lenten (vegan) meals starting will a hearty bowl of lentil soup.


Serves 6-8

  • 2 tablespoons oil (I used peanut)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 pound lentils
  • 11 cups low-salt vegetable broth
  • 2 tsp thyme
  • 2/3 cup dried multi grain elbow pasta


Heat the oil in a heavy large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, and celery. Add the garlic, salt, and pepper and saute until all the vegetables are tender, about 5 to 8 minutes. Add the tomatoes with their juices. Simmer until the juices evaporate a little and the tomatoes break down, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Add the lentils and mix to coat. Add the broth and stir. Add the thyme sprigs. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cover and simmer over low heat until the lentils are almost tender, about 30 minutes.

Stir in the pasta. Simmer until the pasta is tender but still firm to the bite, about 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Ladle the soup into bowls, and serve.

Recipe modified from Giada De Laurentiis

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