38 Power Foods, Week 11 — Spinach — B"L"T Risotto

Bacon, Spinach (the “L”), and Cherry Tomato Risotto
As a kid, spinach was not my thing.  It was that slimy stuff Popeye ate.  I didn’t care if he was strong.  If I had to eat spinach, I didn’t want to be strong.  I wanted nothing that slid whole cloth out of any can.
My own first child adored spinach.  By then, we’d reached the American culinary stage of  gorgeous gooey-cheesy baked spinach casseroles with crispy crumbled crackers on top.  Enabled by grocery store freezers filled with vegetables year-round, we chopped, mixed, added soup or cheese, and threw stuff into ovens to our heart’s content.  We were eating vegetables, weren’t we?  And we liked anything with cheese or sour cream or dried onion soup mix.

Fast forward to our awakening to spinach as a cold-weather vegetable.  To Fed-Ex produce departments continually full of the dirty stuff.  (Spinach was filthy then and still is if you grow it yourself or buy it at the farmer’s market.)  Press again and see the last few years of  clean “baby” spinach in plastic boxes we don’t know what to do with.  (Whole Foods recycles them, by the way; our own recyclers don’t.) 
However we’ve had spinach, it’s been pretty good for and to us.  Full of iron, vitamin C, folate, beta-carotene and vitamin K, this dark leafy, inexpensive and accessible green is beautiful!
Here spinach is mixed with baby kale for a powerful side.
I eat spinach nearly daily:
Herb-Spinach Egg White Omelet

If I don’t make an egg white omelet, I make salad or have spinach instead of lettuce on a sandwich or..

Alyce’s Tomatoed Cod on Fennel with Sauteed Spinach

 I might pair it with fennel as a side for my fish.

Yesterday, my tomatoes (volunteers left on their own for the summer) were picked by a neighbor and deposited on my back step.  She knew I’d been away; she’s a gardener.

These were volunteers from the yard and driveway.  I left them to see what’d happen over the summer. They took over the side bed.

Hybrids ready to eat; they were pretty tasty!

 Hot on the back porch, the tomato scent wafted dizzily through me when I reached down and picked up the container.  What to do with them besides pop one (ok, three) in my mouth as is?

My larder isn’t full yet; we’ve only been home from Colorado for a couple of days.  I did, however, have bacon in small packages in the freezer (one of my mainstays), rice in the pantry, and spinach (which serves as the L in BLT) in the frig.  Way back in the corner was an old chunk of Parmesan our house sitter hadn’t eaten.  B”L”T Risotto was born.  Need I tell you this was the risotto from heaven? (Neighbor got a bowl, too.) Try it today:

b “l” t risotto

2-3 pieces bacon, chopped into 1″ pieces
1T butter
1 large onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 cup arborio rice
Pinch crushed red pepper
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
1 cup white wine
4-5 cups chicken stock, low sodium
1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 – 1 1/2 cups fresh spinach leaves

Set table before you begin.

  1. In a heavy 4 qt saucepan, cook bacon over medium heat until nearly crisp and remove to a paper-towel lined plate leaving bacon fat in pot.  Set aside.   Add butter and onion to the saucepan.  Cook 4-5 minutes until onion is softened; add garlic and rice.  Stir in crushed red pepper, 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper.  Stir well to coat rice.  Cook 1 minute or so. 
  2. Add white wine; raise heat a bit.  Cook a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until wine is absorbed. 
  3.  Add 2 cups warm chicken stock and cook about five minutes, stirring occasionally, until broth is absorbed.   Repeat.  Add last cup of broth (if rice is still too hard to eat–you want it between al dente and fall-apart tender.) Please relax about constantly stirring the risotto.  Pour a glass of wine, turn on the music, and stir only as necessary.
  4.  Stir in tomatoes, Parmesan, spinach, and reserved bacon. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.  
  5. Serve hot with steamed green beans or asparagus. (See below.)   Pass black pepper at table. 

I liked a crisp grassy Sancerre with this, but I like a crisp grassy Sancerre with almost anything.  Chardonnay, which is lovely with creamy dishes, would also drink.

    Note re seasonings:  The heat of the crushed red pepper is one that will build in your mouth as you eat the risotto; be careful not to add too much black pepper at the end.

    Cook’s Note:  For ease of preparation, here’s how I do the asparagus or beans in the microwave while the last cup of broth is cooking away in the risotto pan:

    Just 2 minutes for rinsed (no more water) asparagus on high:

    Beans will take a couple of extra minutes unless they’re haricots verts.  Add a squeeze of lemon and a sprinkle of pepper.

    Sing a new song; eat risotto, too,

    Gone Fishin’ — In the Meanwhile Enjoy my Favorite Peach Post:

    Peaches, cream, and more 

    If its August.  If it’s Colorado.  I’m eating peaches.  Any day. Every day.  For at least two weeks.  By themselves.  On Greek Yogurt with Colorado honey and slivered toasted almonds.  Or granola.   On top of vanilla frozen yogurt.  In a salsa on pork chops.  Etcetera.

    Here are a few of the yummy things I’ve done.  Of course the best?  Above.  Fuzzy naked.

    Grilled peaches:

    Preheat clean grill to medium-high heat.  Cut peaches in half and remove pits.  Brush each half with a little bit of canola oil and place cut-side down on grill.  Let cook about 3 or 4 minutes and turn over when grill marks are well-established, but not blackened.  Cook another 2 or 3 minutes until tops of cut-side are somewhat visibly drying.  Remove and cool briefly.  Enjoy as is or try another good idea…

    Grilled Peaches with Goat’s Cheese, Honey and Thyme
    God had to have been in on this creation.  Of course.  Here’s how:
    Grill peaches as above.  Top each with 1-2 T plain goat’s cheese (softened a bit).  Drizzle with your favorite honey and sprinkle with a few leaves of fresh thyme.   (recipe copyright Alyce Morgan, 2010)
    Grilled Peach Salsa
    Lovely on BBQ Pork Chops (Really),
    Shrimp Tacos
    Grilled Fish
    Tortilla Chips?  Of course.  Here’s how:

    2-6 t very finely minced jalapeno (to your taste–start with 2t and more if you’d like)
    1/3 c finely minced onion
    2 large peaches (Colorado preferred), cut in half and grilled*, peeled after grilling, and chopped into 1/2″  pieces
    1 ripe avocado, peeled and diced
    1/2 ea medium red sweet pepper and green sweet pepper, diced
    1/2 c chopped fresh cilantro
    Juice of 1/2 a lime
    Dash of kosher salt and a couple of grates of fresh ground pepper

    In a medium bowl, mix all ingredients gently but thoroughly. Taste and correct seasoning if necessary. (Add more jalapeno, etc) Serve on with grilled pork chops, shrimp or salmon or on seafood or fish tacos. (recipe copyright Alyce Morgan 2010)

    Wine? If you make the bbq pork chops or salmon, try a little inexpensive Beaujolais. Other reds or bigger wines will overwhelm this meal, though a nice Lodi (California) Zinfandel would drink!  It’s summer and something lighter and refreshing will turn on these peaches. If you make the shrimp or fish tacos, a cold Spanish Albarino (lovely white) or even an Oregon Pinot Gris could do the trick.

    (If you’d like to make the green bean salad, here’s the blogpost for it, though I dressed it differently here.  Rather than a mustard vinaigrette, I mixed a bit of top-quality light Ranch with some roasted salsa for a dressing.)

    Lovely frozen yogurt from David Levovitz’ book THE PERFECT SCOOP. (Click for the recipe.)  Just slice those lovely lady peaches and slither them on top of this silky iced lushness.

    Or try  PEACH AMARETTO BREAD PUDDING  if nothing else sounds good:

    Peach-Amaretto Bread Pudding  serves 4-6

    • 2 large hard rolls, cut into ½” slices and buttered
    • 2 large peaches, peeled, pitted and sliced into 1/3” pieces
    • 3 extra large eggs
    • 1 ½ -1 ¾ cups milk
    • 1/8 c Amaretto liqueur
    • 1 t cinnamon (Vietnamese is good)

    1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter 2 qt round casserole and set aside.
    2. In medium bowl, beat eggs and add remaining ingredients. Beat well.
    3. Layer bread and peaches in casserole dish and pour egg mixture over all, stirring just a bit to make sure all ingredients are wet. If some bread/peaches are sticking out on top, it’s fine.
    4. Bake 60-70 min. until edges are crispy, but bread is still tender. Let sit at least 15 minutes before serving. Serve with vanilla ice cream. Can also be served at room temperature or cold.



    While you do all that, I’m on the road again with a fishing pole in the trunk….

    We’ll be back next week…all of us.

    In the meantime, keep cooking…

    and grinning.

    Sing a new song, Alyce

    38 Power Foods, Week 10 — Mushrooms — Mushroom Ragù on Gruyère Toast

    Slip some baguette with Gruyère under a broiler.  Saute some mushrooms with garlic, shallots, herbs, broth and wine.  Spoon the mushrooms over the cheese toast.  Dinner is served.

    I grew up in a house that revered mushrooms. In any form, but mostly on their own.  Just cooked up in a big cast-iron skillet with some garlic or onions.  Eating them on their own was his favorite, but my Dad also loved them with some rice, eggs, or chicken.  He’d have mushrooms any old way.  As a little kid, I wasn’t buying.   It didn’t take long, however, for me to jump on his bandwagon.

    My first mushroom love was the famous mushroom stuffed with sausage.  That gave way to (Lord) the deep-fried variety with sauce.  All the while, regular old mushrooms slowly began to take part in my kitchen pageant.  One day I saw that I was buying mushrooms pretty much every time I went to the store.  Talking with my oldest son the other day, I woke up and realized he was talking about cooking up a big pot of mushrooms.  Never know what you’ll pass on.

    Mushrooms are inexpensive.  They’re healthy.  They’re adaptable. They’re widely available and come in many varieties.  They add vegetable and “meat” value to any dish.  Mushrooms are quick to prepare and can be eaten raw, fried, baked, sauteed, braised, or boiled.  They’re fine on their own, as a perfect omelet filling, luscious crowded together on top a steak or piece of chicken, and they just make gravy.  What’s beef burgundy without mushrooms?   How about a burger?  Portobellos, grilled, or sauteed, are perfect in a bun with all the fixings.   I’m sure there’s more!

      I don’t know a whole lot about mushroom nutrition, but here are a few things I’ve discovered: they’re full of B vitamins and lots of minerals.  In a nutshell:

    Mushrooms provide many of the nutritional attributes of produce, as well as attributes more commonly found in meat, beans or grains. Mushrooms are low in calories, fat-free, cholesterol-free and very low in sodium, yet they provide important nutrients, including selenium, potassium, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin D and more. Read on to discover some of nature’s hidden treasures found in mushrooms.  more info:  mushroom.com

    BTW:  If you’d like to pick wild mushrooms, be extremely careful, and get some training.  Many people become seriously ill every year eating poisonous mushrooms.  

    You don’t need a big herb garden.  I just have a couple of fragrant pots right outside my front door.  A little dirt.  A little water.  Not much more.  In Colorado, we’re able to bring pots of herbs indoors for the winter.

    When I realized mushrooms were up next on our 39 Healthiest Ingredients,  I began dreaming of  cooking up a big pot of them with yummy fresh herbs, shallots, etc., and spooning that over toasted baguette pieces that were topped with Gruyère.  Last night I stopped dreaming:

    mushroom ragù on gruyère toast                  serves 4

    •  8 slices baguette 
    • 8 thin slices Gruyère cheese
    • 1  T each extra virgin olive oil and butter 
    • 1/4 t crushed red pepper 
    • 24 oz any mixed mushrooms, sliced (shitake, button, crimini, portobello) 
    • 2 shallots sliced
    • 2 garlic cloves, minced
    • 2T minced mixed fresh herbs (tarragon, marjoram, chives, parsley, sage, thyme are good choices)  plus a little extra reserved for garnish
    •  1/2 cup each chicken broth, low sodium and white wine
    •  1/4 t  each kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
    • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, optional
     Place baguette slices, topped with the Gruyère cheese, on a baking sheet and broil for about 2 minutes or until cheese is browned and bubbly.  Remove from oven and place two cheese toasts in each of four shallow bowls. Set aside.

    In a large, deep sauté pan, heat olive oil, butter, and crushed red pepper over medium heat.  Add mushrooms, shallots, and garlic.  Cook a few minutes without  stirring until mushrooms are browned.  Stir to turn mushrooms and add herbs, broth, wine, salt, and pepper.  Simmer for several  minutes, stirring occasionally until liquid is somewhat reduced.  Taste and adjust for seasoning. Divide mushroom mixture evenly over toasted cheese baguette slices. Garnish with reserved fresh herbs.  If desired, top with grated Parmesan.  Pass extra fresh ground black pepper at the table.

    For vegan option:  skip Gruyere and brush bread with olive oil before broiling.  Exchange vegetable broth for chicken and either use vegan grated cheese for garnish or no cheese at all.

    Wine?  Please serve my mushroom ragu with an Oregon Pinot Noir.  You’ll be so glad you did.  I’m partial to Ken Wright or Sineann, but there are many lovely winemakers around the Willamette valley. 

    Want more great mushroom ideas?  Check out the other beautiful 38 Healthiest Ingredient bloggers:

    Ansh – SpiceRoots.com  
    Jill – SaucyCooks 

    Sarah – Everything in the Kitchen Sink
    Anabanana – adobodownunder.blogspot.com
    As we go along, I’m guessing we’ll get some other writers involved.  If you’re interested in joining the gang writing each week, get in touch with Mireya from My Healthy Eating Habits:  Mireya@MyHealthyEatingHabits.com

    Sing a new song,

    Julia Child’s 100th Birthday — Salmon Fillet en Papillote with Shallots and Tomatoes: Fast Food!

    Not spending the summer in St. Paul, I don’t have any of my Julia books on the shelf….And it’s Julia’s 100th birthday!  I shipped all of the ones I needed to work on the soup cookbook and I brought my own personal cookbook, but the whole library cannot come to Colorado.  Julia’s books sit in Minnesota: 

    One bookcase of cookbooks

    So to celebrate Julia’s 100th birthday (along with everyone else in the world), I had to come up with something on the web.  Salmon en Papillote with Shallots and Tomatoes seemed perfect.   Since I had salmon the freezer.   And I was alone.  Fish is perfect for one.

    One.  Singular sensation:

    First place the salmon filet on the parchment paper on a schmear of butter

    While grilled salmon is the standard summer prep in the U.S., I’m here to tell you that you just might enjoy wrapping that little piece of fish up in parchment paper and throwing it in the oven.  Almost feels like a little craft project going on.  The oven is not on long enough to heat up the kitchen. The resulting fillet is tender, toothsome, done perfectly, and seasoned elegantly.  And if you don’t pour a loving glass of Pinot Noir or even a Syrah to go along with, I’ll be unhappy.  I will haunt you.  See below for the recipe that’s faster than calling for pizza.  Quicker than driving through the drive-through.  By the time you set the table and sauté some spinach, dinner is D-O-N-E.  If you’re still set on grilling, you could probably use the same recipe for the grill, switching foil for the paper and going the Girl Scout route.

    Thanks, Julia.   I know you’re enjoying the kitchen that never gets hot, where feet never hurt, European and American measurements are the same,  knives are forever sharp, tupperware bottoms and tops always match, and watched pots do boil.  God speed.

    Season with salt and pepper.  Top with shallots, tomatoes, and fresh herbs.

    An aside…My favorite Julia Child recipe is French Bread.  Really.   A story for another day.

    Wrap up and pin or staple as I did.  Bake at 425 degrees F about 8 minutes.   Et voila!

    The fish recipe I used is from this book, but I found it here:

    Jacques’ method for wrapping the fish in paper includes leaving a hole, inserting a straw, and blowing up the paper “balloon” before baking.  I went with Julia and even changed that.  As long as you get the paper packet sealed well, you’ll be fine.

    Julia’s Salmon Fillet en Papillote with Shallots and Tomato
    serves 1

    1 tablespoon unsalted butter, soft (Cut this down to 1tsp)
    1 skinless salmon fillet, 6 to 8 ounces
    Salt and freshly ground white pepper  (I used black pepper)
    1 tablespoon very finely minced shallots (or scallions) (Used minced red onion.)
    1/2 cup diced fresh tomato garnish
    Whole leaves of flat-leaf parsley, about a dozen  (I added a couple of thyme sprigs.)

    1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
    2. Smear the butter in the very center of a piece of parchment paper cut to 15″x20″
    3. Season each side of the salmon with a big pinch of salt and several grinds
    of pepper, and lay the salmon, its most attractive side up, on the buttered
    area of the paper.
    4. Mix the minced shallots and tomato together and spread on top of the
    salmon fillet. Scatter the parsley leaves over and around the fish.
    5. Lift the shorter (15-inch) sides of the parchment so the edges meet right
    above the salmon, like a tent. Fold over several times, then fold the sides
    together. Crimp the folds tightly with your fingers, or use several pins at
    the end to seal the package completely.  (I stapled the paper.)
    6. Set the package on the cookie sheet and bake 8 minutes for a fillet less
    than an inch thick, or 10 minutes for a thick fillet 1 to 1 1/4 inches thick.
    7. To serve, carefully transfer the package to a dinner plate, remove the pins
    if you have used them, and simply unfold or cut the parchment open. If
    you’d rather remove the package before eating, cut or tear the paper
    alongside the fillet, and slide the fish right onto the plate.
    Just cut open.
    The meal.
     Since this sounded wonderfully suited to a bed of sautéed spinach, I took care of that
    while the salmon cooked in the oven.  One pound of fresh spinach will cook down to one cup of cooked spinach.  I think I cooked about 3 ounces of fresh spinach for me.  I stirred in some hunks of garlic at the end, but started with a little crushed red pepper in the olive oil.  Do as you like.  This, along with a small piece of buttered whole wheat bread, rounded out the meal.  Along with the wine, of course.
    Ready for its close-up.  Done, but oh-so-tender.  Just perfect.  Just Julia.
      Cook’s Note:   Whole Foods in Colorado Springs sells their gorgeous wild salmon frozen in individual pieces for four bucks and change.  I guess they’d rather freeze it than throw it away.  This salmon is luscious.  I throw it in a covered soup pot on the front porch for 30 minutes or so (summertime) and it’s unthawed.   I have also cooked it stone-cold-frozen on a very hot grill indeed.
    more julia for fun
    Sing a new song; buy some parchment paper,

    Alyce’s Tortellini Salad Goes to Denver, but Misses Olivia’s Birthday


    Summer comes and this tortellini salad comes with it.  Just ask my family.
    Full of tender cheese-filled tortellini and lots of chunky vegetables, it’s held together with a brisk mustard vinaigrette and lots of thin slices of sopressata or hard salami.  If I’m going to a family event or a church picnic, I make a big bowl of this salad and bring it along.  In Minnesota, it goes in the cooler and makes its way up north to celebrate Joe’s and Olivia’s birthdays. The original recipe was, I think, from the COLORADO SPRINGS GAZETTE years ago, but it has changed quite a bit over time.

    I missed Olivia’s birthday this year, but made the salad anyway.  See you soon, I hope!

    Here in Colorado, it travels up I-25 to Denver for a family afternoon by the pool after a visit to a museum.

    This year, Bill made a big hunk of brisket he smoked overnight.  Sean brewed some beer and I made (of course) the tortellini salad.  Occasionally it morphs just a bit; originally it didn’t have many vegetables.  I had to amend that.  The resulting salad is fine for a whole meal, but it’s also a total one-dish side for any barbequed meat.  You know how pasta salad can be pale, insipid, and less than interesting?  Perhaps only filling?  Easily left on the plate at picnics?  That is what this pasta salad is not.   

    Nope, we don’t want to get out of the pool. Even for lunch.
    This is either Cosmo or Gizmo tending bar.  Whichever one, he got no tortellini salad.
    The unveiling of the smoked meat!

    serves 12

    18-20 oz. fresh cheese tortellini (find in refrigerator case)
    2 small zucchini, cut into matchstick size pieces
    1 small yellow squash, ditto
    1 red sweet pepper, ditto
    1 yellow sweet pepper, ditto
    1 green or orange sweet pepper, ditto
    1/4 c minced red onion
    1/4# hard salami, cut into 1/4″ slices  (I like sopressata for this.)
    1/3 c  each fresh basil and parsley, chopped (keep out 1 T for garnish)
    1/2 t dried oregano or Herbes de Provence
    1/2 c freshly-grated Parmesan cheese (keep out 2T for top of dish)
    3 cloves garlic, minced
    3T red wine vinegar
    2T Dijon mustard
    1/3 c Extra-virgin olive oil
    Kosher salt; Freshly-ground Pepper;1/8 t crushed red pepper
    Cherry Tomatoes for garnish

    In 8 qt. stock pot, bring 5-6 qts. well-salted water to boil. Add fresh tortellini and cook about 8 min or according to package directions.
    Meantime, make dressing: In large bowl (or in food processor), whisk together red wine vinegar, garlic and Dijon mustard. Slowly pour in olive oil and whisk until emulsified (creamy and satiny). Add salt and peppers; stir well. Set dressing aside.
    Drain tortellini while still a tad al dente and, while hot in colander, add all zucchini and yellow squash. Stir gently to let heat of pasta cook the squash just a tad. Allow pasta and squash to cool, stirring periodically.
    Add sliced peppers, salami, all but 2 tablespoons parmesan all but 1 tablespoon fresh basil, and the oregano or Herbes de Provence.  Stir gently; tortellini can fall apart easily. Drizzle most of dressing onto salad and combine. (Save some dressing to add right before serving)
    Refrigerate until needed or overnight. To serve, add extra dressing and taste salad for seasoning. Add salt and pepper as needed. Garnish with reserved basil or parsley, Parmesan cheese, and cherry tomatoes.  (If refrigerated overnight, you’ll definitely need to re-season.)

    Note:  If you have any other vegetables, add them. This version has some fresh, minced broccoli as well as some diced carrots.

    Note:  For vegetarian or vegan option, skip salami and, for vegan, use pasta made without eggs and leave off Parmesan.

    {printable recipe}

    Aunt Carolyn relaxing after lunch.

    Sing a new song; make an old tortellini salad,

    38 Power Foods, Week 9 — Kale — Baby Kale and Spinach with a Roasted Chicken Breast

     While I didn’t grow up eating kale, I got to it as soon as I could.  My folks were transplanted southerners.  Greens made an appearance, oh yeah.  I ate them.  (not)
    There were lots of reasons why I finally hit on kale (baby kale first, actually)  once I knew from good.  One was its curly beauty:

           One was its strength and goodness.

    One cup of kale contains 36 calories, 5 grams of fiber, and 15% of the daily requirement of calcium and vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), 40% of magnesium, 180% of vitamin A, 200% of vitamin C, and 1,020% of vitamin K. It is also a good source of minerals copper, potassium, iron, manganese, and phosphorus.

    Kale’s health benefits are primarily linked to the high concentration and excellent source of antioxidant vitamins A, C, and K — and sulphur-containing phytonutrients.(courtesy webmd.)

    Another was its price.  Even at Whole Foods, kale was doable, payable, and edible.

    Last was its ease of preparation. Clean well, chop, saute, season, eat.  Repeat.  Mix in another bit of greens if you like.   Herbs?  Oh, yes.  Heat?  Sure.  Good in soup?  Perfect!  And…
     Served with a bit of rice or a piece of chicken, I loved, loved it.    Try this:
    baby kale and spinach with a roasted chicken breast
      A. first roast your chicken breast
    Roast  olive oiled and salt and peppered bone-in breasts 45 minutes at 350 F a la Ina.

      B.  toward the end of the cooking time for the chicken, begin cooking the greens:

    In a medium skillet or sauté pan, pour in about a tablespoon of olive oil.  (No need for extra virgin.)  Heat over medium heat with a pinch of crushed red pepper and kosher salt. 
    1. Add 4-5 very thin slices of red onion, torn or cut if they’re large. Cook, stirring, for one minute.
    2. Drop in 4 cups or so spinach and baby kale. (Use chopped kale in place of baby kale if that’s what you have.)  Let cook down as much as you like; watch it carefully.  Stir.   Some people like greens barely cooked; some like them well done.  Suit yourself.
    3. When almost done to your liking, toss in about 6 sliced cherry or grape tomatoes.  
    4. Heat through and serve hot or at room temperature.  (You can add a splash of apple cider vinegar if you like.)
     Never cooked greens like kale?  Watch how here:

    If you liked this recipe, you might like:

    Alyce’s Red, White, and Blue Kale Salad

    Stay cool!
     38 Power Foods is a group effort!   Stop by these other blogs and see what they’re cooking each week as we team up to bring you some of the healthiest cooking available.

    Ansh – SpiceRoots.com  
    Jill – SaucyCooks 

    Sarah – Everything in the Kitchen Sink
    Anabanana – adobodownunder.blogspot.com
    As we go along, I’m guessing we’ll get some other writers involved.  If you’re interested in joining the gang writing each week, get in touch with Mireya from My Healthy Eating Habits:  Mireya@MyHealthyEatingHabits.com

    Sing a new song,

    baby kale and spinach with a roasted chicken breast originally posted by alyce on dinnerplace.blogspot.com

    two-dog kitchen and around the ‘hood

    Earlier this week on More Time:  Homemade Potato Chip-Steak Salad with Homemade Mayonnaise Dressing
    Just add fork

    Right now on the dinnerplace blog:  Would you make breakfast?
    Egg+Egg White Omelet filled with Nonfat Cottage Cheese on WW Toast

    Guacamole Soup with Cheese Quesadillas…recipe I’m working on for the book.  Five tries and I’m finally happy.
    Miss Gab and Tucker under my make-shift desk.

      Today I took a break from recipe development and sat out on the front deck with a cup of coffee for a few.  In the crab apple tree off to the right was a tiny chickadee singing, “CHRIS-tine.”  I’ve never seen chickadees in Colorado, much less in my own yard.  Soon, I saw there was a second chickadee.   Of course, they’re always in pairs.  They seemed to be digging around for insects in the bark of the tree.  Sitting quietly, I finally saw one of the birds  go to a nest–right in the tree. 
    How could I not have noticed them, the building of the nest, or the baby birds?

     Lesson for the day:  If you don’t take the time to rest or sit quietly, you won’t know what’s going on in  life right outside your own front door.

    Homemade Potato Chip-Steak Salad

    Just add fork

    Sometimes I don’t know what gets into me.  I know I have something leftover and simple from which to create a meal.  Say a piece of steak or two small pieces, in this case.  (Neither Dave nor I could finish our dinner the night before. Is there something wrong with us?)  I didn’t set out to make a homemade potato chip-steak salad…but here’s how it happened: 

    First,  I take the steak out of the frig and begin casting around for something to go with it.  Toast?  I could make a sandwich.  Pasta?  I could cook up some vegetables to go with the steak while the water boils.  Stir fry?  Omelet filled with steak?  Steak and eggs?  I could make  mushrooms in velouté  sauce with cream (Supreme is the name, I think–I made it up as a young cook without knowing its name.) and Dijon mustard, add the steak and serve it over rice.  How about a childhood favorite, beef hash?  (Who would waste great steak on hash, Alyce?) 

    Instead of beginning any of those dishes,  I  find myself at the Cuisinart making homemade mayonnaise, using Daniel Boulud’s method:

    Who is Daniel Boulud?


    Make a poached egg and cook it for only two minutes.  Remove from water with a slotted spoon and place it in a food processor fitted with the metal blade.  Pulse until well-blended. 

    Into the food processor bowl, pour 1T good-quality  white-wine vinegar (such as Chardonnay or Champagne) and 1T Dijon mustard. (I like to use the whole grain variety.) Pulse until well blended.

    Through the feed tube, with the machine running, drizzle 1 cup canola oil.* Process until thick.  Season with salt and pepper.

    *Daniel Boulud uses peanut oil


    And then I take out a skillet, heat a little canola oil and fry up very thin slices of potato for potato chips.  This is coming together, I think:

    Drain them on paper towels. Salt and pepper immediately.   Don’t eat them all.


    Meantime, I “boil” an egg in the microwave.  (Break an egg into a greased, microwave-safe cereal-sized bowl.  With a fork, poke the egg white all over several times and the yolk once.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap and microwave on high for one minute.  Let sit one minute.  Remove wrap, tip egg onto cutting board and chop)

    Next:  A large bowl comes out of the cupboard (nearly done now–pretty quick!) and I line it with  

    4 cups of mixed greens topped with the steak, 1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese, the chopped egg, 1/4 cucumber, chopped, 2 green onions, chopped, 1 carrot, sliced, 1 stalk celery, sliced, 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley, 1/2 each yellow and red pepper sliced, and whatever other vegetables I can find–including a beautiful warm summer tomato (don’t refrigerate them ever) and even a little leftover grilled sweet corn.

    When the chips are done, I put them around the outside of the salad bowl.

    A half-lemon is located and squeezed over the entire salad.  Salt and pepper are next.  I’m generous, but don’t go overboard.  After all, the salad will be dressed with real mayonnaise, right?

    I slip a few pieces of baguette under the broiler.  (brushed with oil, sprinkled with salt and pepper)

    And dinner is served:

    I serve the mayonnaise separately; no need to over-dress this lovely bowl of goodness.

    This process made enough for Dave and me.  He ate two servings; I ate one.  So I’d say this was about 3 servings!

    two-dog kitchen and around the ‘hood

    I’m tired of the daytime heat.  Like the whole rest of the country, I guess. Storms often arrive late afternoon or early evening.  Things blow and go; little rain arrives, though when it does, it’s incredibly forceful.  I water everything daily.  A beautiful part of near-mountain living is the coolness of the evening and night.   While we  resort to air conditioning during the day, in the evening after suppertime it’s turned off and the windows are thrown open wide to welcome the sweet breeze.  All night long the air graces our rooms unlike the midwest where the heat lingers heavily.

    My favorite breakfast these days…when I’m not having yogurt and berries: 

    On the dinnerplace blog now:  Egg+Egg White Omelet filled with Nonfat Cottage Cheese on WW Toast

    If I don’t get out early to walk the doggies (by 7:30), and sometimes even if I do, I later get in a power walk on youtube.  Sometimes two! There are several walks from which to choose–3 minute for a desk break, 5 minute, 2 mile, etc. They are easy to fit into the day and I often stick up the laptop (with the walking video on and the sound off) next to the tv when a favorite show is on.   I do the walk/exercise and watch Ina all at the same time.

    I’m working on the soups for the cookbook almost daily.  Once I develop a recipe, it must be tested several times and then I pass it on to someone else for testing.  Does it work when someone else makes it?  I’ve now made posole several times, shall we say.  (I think I’ve got it down.)  My dear friend, sommelier Drew Robinson, was to come today to taste three of the soups (and one secret very-fast dessert) in order to begin the process of pairing.  Long ago, at some far-away dinner with our wine group, Drew let it be known he would provide the wine pairings for a cookbook I would someday write.  Not sure either one of us believed it would ever happen, but it’s happening!  Anyway, Drew forgot he has another wine-tasting tonight and we’re rescheduling.   I am a bit relieved because as much as I love my new posole recipe, I’m ready for something else to eat.  The next soups are a quick vegetarian bean and a cold avocado.   As the book will not have photographs, I keep forgetting to take pictures….I must do it!

    I play inside with Miss Gab in the afternoons for a few minutes–too hot for her to run outdoors. 

    You’re throwing the ball, right?

    We’ve had plenty of time to visit with old friends and worship at First Congregational…one of my very favorite churches anywhere.  Last Sunday, the ample sanctuary was filled to capacity.  Nothing special occuring…and it was summer when  a lot of churches are fairly empty.  Why is FCC so full?  While I might not be qualified to say why, I do know these things:  there’s a bow toward tradition…while embracing the new.  All are truly welcome and these folks are joyful; what more could you want?  Except that when the table is laid and communion is about to begin, these words are said, “Come, all things are ready.”  Such a breathing place.

      One of the best parts about being here is more time with my family

      off to a beer festival…

      and lunches/shopping trips in the middle of the day:

      Trip to Toys r Us:  expensive
      Smile on grandson’s face:  priceless

      Sing a new song,

      Bannocks — A Tribute to Marion Cunningham (Reposted from my Dinner Place blog)

      A little apricot preserves…

       I never knew Marion Cunningham personally, but after my Mom, she pretty much taught me to cook and, perhaps more truly, to bake.  She died this last week (July 11, 2012–Read the LA Times obituary here) at the age of 90 after a lifetime of cooking, writing, and testing recipes for her cookbooks (Fanny Farmer, Fanny Farmer Baking Book, The Breakfast Book, etc.) and for her long-lived column in The San Francisco Chronicle.  She encouraged several generations of home cooks to… well, to just go on and cook.  Set the table and eat at home, please and thank you.

      Her books and recipes were not cute, though they were entertaining.  They weren’t novelesque, though they were terribly readable.  They were always sort of like Goldilocks’ favorite bed–just right.  Accurate, concise, occasionally gently witty…above all correct, well-tested, and usable. If I couldn’t remember the formula for cobbler topping, I grabbed The Fanny Farmer Baking Book.  For goodness sake, I STILL grab it.  If I was testing my own blueberry muffin recipe, I looked no further than Marion Cunningham for comparison. Not just because I knew the recipe would work, but because her entire life’s belief in feeding oneself and one’s loved ones well was warmed up, stirred in, and firmly baked into each and every page.

      Food is a topic of conversation, she said. It can be an imprint that you pass onto someone else. It can be a shared experience. Sitting down and eating together is a binding quality for a family. Eating on the run doesn’t cover all the bases it should.

      She never was a star chef on “Chopped,” (though she did have a cooking show, “Cunningham and Company,” on the Food Network) and she didn’t have lots of restaurants named after her, but all who knew her work respected and loved both her and the food-at-home she championed.  She worked with James Beard as his assistant for years, traveled with Alice Waters, and claimed Judith Jones as an editor.  Why she didn’t make Gourmet Live’s list of the 50 Women Game-Changers in Food was always beyond me.  So, Marion, my very own hero, in your tasty and fine memory, I today share your great Bannocks recipe for all far and wide.  I know there are delectable aromas whispering your name wafting toward heaven from all over the world today– and always.  Thanks for the food and even more for encouraging the life that goes with it.  God speed.


       A bit about Bannocks:  A Scottish, gluten-free flat and buttery bread that can be used as a breakfast treat with butter and jam or honey, it’s also a fine cracker for cheese, and a crunchy-buttery (not sweet) shortbread for anytime.  Before home had ovens, bannocks were cooked on a girdle..like a griddle, but hung over the heating surface with chains.  Bannocks were then cooked more like pancakes.  You might try it when camping.   If you’re a Dorothy Sayers fan, the British mystery writer mentions bannocks being cooked on a girdle in the book HAVE HIS CARCASE

      Bannocks perhaps are a bit like scones in shape as they’re triangular, though they are not tall and bread-like, and rather only about a crispy  1/4 -1/3″ thick.  Lovely with soupI make these in the food processor in just a few minutes.  The recipe works fine at sea level and at altitude as is.

      photo courtesy Gourmet

      Bannocks by Marion Cunningham from The Breakfast Book

      • 1 cup rolled oats
      • 1 cup oat flour
      • 1/4 teaspoon salt
      • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled
      • 1/2 cup water

      Preheat the oven to 400°F. Grease a baking sheet or line with parchment paper.

      In a mixing bowl, toss the oats, flour, and salt together with a fork. Cut the cold butter into small pieces, toss it into the flour mixture, and rub it in until coarse bits form. Stir in the water until all the flour is absorbed.  (Can be done in the food processor if desired.) 
      Gather the rough dough together and put it on a board lightly dusted with oat flour. Knead about 6 times. Divide the dough in half and pat each half into a circle about ¼- inch thick. Cut each circle into 4 wedges and arrange the wedges 1/2 inch apart on the baking sheet. Bake about 20 minutes or until lightly colored.

       “Cooking is one of the legacies we can leave to the future, and I would like to be remembered for my baking. We all know we’re not immortal, but after I’m gone, I would like my son and daughter to be able to say, ‘Our mother made real yeast bread for breakfast.’”
        ~Marion Cunningham

      Have fun cooking and taking care of yourself,

      38 Power Foods, Week 8 — Carrots — On the Loose

      I have no idea what you’d do without carrots.  I think I just couldn’t cook without them.
      I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about, “Oh, I love carrots,” but there isn’t a week that goes by that I don’t buy them. I can’t imagine my crisper without carrots.  But I don’t think I ever thought much about them before.

      Two carrot stories come to mind…after this gorgeous salad:

      Moroccan Carrot Salad

       We were camping in Texas once where we spent long days tubing on the Guadalupe River.  (Folks floated by with six-packs tied to their inner tubes.)  It was so hot the ice was a constant puddle in the coolers and we worried about our food.  (Why didn’t I sell ice in south Texas?  Once again I had chosen the wrong profession.)   Insert bad language; there were six of us to feed three times a day for a week.  One poor woman stopped to say only one thing to me, “Even my carrots rotted today.”   I knew how she felt; I was down to cabbage, potatoes, and onions, though I always have cans in the back of the van.  If your carrots betray you, you’re in trouble.  She was heartbroken and I understood why.

      And the other story….

      Once, when I’d been on Weight Watchers forever, Dave said,

      I liked you a lot better when carrots were no points.

      You see, carrots, along with all the other vegetables in the world, were FREE–point-wise, that is.  Until one year, somebody smartened up and figured out they had a little sugar.  Wowee-zowee; they were then 1 point.  Broke my heart.  (Since then, a WW friend reports carrots are once more free.  I’m breathing a bit easier though I simply use myfitnesspal.com to track my weight and exercise now.  Love that site and there’s an app for it.)

      Took this at Pike Place Market.  Gorgeous sentiment, “Carrots on-the-loose.”

      Carrots make nearly everything taste better. Without them, how could you make soup?  If you skip them and just add the onions and celery to flavor the broth, it’s just not the same.  What about stew?  Roast chicken with vegetables?  Salad?  Veggie tray?  Pot Roast? Carrot cake? 

      I make carrot cake cupcakes at Easter; recipe here.  It’s for the sheetcake, but works just the same.

       How about…

      Alyce’s  Egg Salad?


      Split Pea Soup for One?


      Pasta out of the Frig and Pantry??
      Lentil Soup?


      Could you bring potato salad?
      Make your own Chicken Noodle Soup from scratch?

      Chicken Noodle Soup in Under an Hour (above)  has morphed into a soup with a 30 minute finishing time for cookbook I’m working on…It works. Just wait and see how.

      Unless you have spent a lot of time thinking about it, you’ve just realized the cooking world

      would be a very different place without carrots. (One note: if you like them in spaghetti sauce or marinara, be careful; too many and you’ve ruined it.  I sometimes like just a bit of carrot in my marinara.)   Naturally, they’re good for you.  Didn’t your mother tell you to eat your carrots so you could see better?  A deficiency of vitamin A can cause night blindness, according to several sources, but it doesn’t appear carrots truly help you see better. 
      Carrots are an excellent source of vitamin A, a good source of potassium, and contain vitamins C & B6, copper, folic acid,thiamine and magnesium. The high level of beta-carotene is very important and gives carrots their distinctive orange colour.
      Carrots also contain, in smaller amounts, essential oils, carbohydrates and nitrogenous composites. They are well-known for their sweetening, antianaemic, healing, diuretic, remineralizing and sedative properties.
      In order to assimilate the greatest quantity of the nutrients present in carrots, it is important to chew them well – they are the exception to the rule – they are more nutritious cooked than raw.

      Did I mention they keep a good long while?   How long?

      2-3 weeks fresh in the refrigerator
      12-18 months blanched and stored well-wrapped in the freezer


      Read a poem about a pea who wants to be a carrot here.
      National Carrot Day?  February 3,  naturally. 

       38 Power Foods is a group effort!   Stop by these other blogs and see what they’re cooking each week as we team up to bring you some of the healthiest cooking available.

      Ansh – SpiceRoots.com  
      Jill – SaucyCooks 

      Sarah – Everything in the Kitchen Sink
      Anabanana – adobodownunder.blogspot.com
      As we go along, I’m guessing we’ll get some other writers involved.  If you’re interested in joining the gang writing each week, get in touch with Mireya from My Healthy Eating Habits:  Mireya@MyHealthyEatingHabits.com

      two-dog kitchen and around the ‘hood

      Our eastern view the morning after the big rain storm.  Roads washed out and a bridge collapsed.

      Next afternoon, more rain while our house was being painted.  I just can’t capture the rainbows in Colorado, but here’s my try.  This is just off to the southeast from the mesa up on the west side of Colorado Springs (up above I-25 if you’ve ever driven through north to south in the state.)

      My temp office to write the book.  I love being alone to write.  We moved out the bedroom furniture to give me space.

      One of two soups I worked on this week:  Alyce’s Spicy Cucumber-Feta photographed in my tiny herb garden.

      Sing a new song; chew your carrots up, honey,