Garlic Roasted Sweet Potatoes

SAMSUNG CSC

Sweet potatoes don’t need to be loaded down with butter and sugar to taste good. In fact I much prefer making the most of their natural sweetness by caramelizing them in the oven. I simply roast them on high heat with a couple complementary vegetables, such as leeks and turnips, and lots of garlic until fragrant and brown. Serve with greens and a simple protein, such as a fried egg (as pictured here). No need to overthink the rest of the meal, these roasted vegetables are plenty flavorful on their own!

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 large sweet potatoes
  • 1 turnip
  • 2 large leeks
  • 6 to 8 cloves of garlic
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper

INSTRUCTIONS
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Peel the sweet potatoes and garlic and chop into half-inch pieces. Chop the leeks into half-inch rounds. Put the veggies in a large mixing bowl and douse with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Mix with a wooden spoon, adding more olive oil as needed to ensure that all veggies are lightly coated. Distribute the veggies between two large baking sheets.

Peel the garlic and place on a large piece of tinfoil. Fold up the edges of the tinfoil to create a little packet in which to roast the garlic. Just before cinching the packet, add a few tablespoons of olive oil. Seal the tinfoil packet and place in the corner of one of the baking sheets.

Roast the veggies for 20 minutes, then remove from the oven and stir thoroughly. Return to the oven for another 10 minutes (I usually reverse the positioning of the pans at this point). Remove the veggies from the oven and return them to the mixing bowl. Open the garlic packet and mash or chop the roasted garlic cloves. Add the garlic to the mixing bowl and combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

SERVES
4 to 6 people

Coconut Cinnamon Granola

SAMSUNG CSC

I have always considered yogurt parfaits to be a totally decadent breakfast reserved for special occasions. But when I learned how to make my own granola I started eating yogurt parfaits several days of the week. By now I have experimented with granola quite a bit, and this is my favorite way to do it. The combination of coconut, cinnamon, and honey is nutty, rich, and subtly sweet. Serve over yogurt with fresh raspberries for a tasty treat!

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tbsp. coconut oil
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • ¼ scant tsp. salt
  • 1 ½ cups rolled oats
  • ½ cup sunflower seeds
  • ½ cup dried coconut flakes
  • ½ cup pepitas
  • 1 ½ tsp. cinnamon

INSTRUCTIONS
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Using a medium mixing bowl, melt the coconut oil in the microwave until it becomes liquid. Whisk in the honey, vanilla, and salt. Mix in the oats, sunflower seeds, coconut flakes, pepitas, and cinnamon. Pour the granola mixture on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Spread the granola evenly in a ¼ inch thick layer. Bake for about 25 minutes, depending on how crunchy you prefer your granola. Less than 25 minutes will produce relatively blond, chewy granola, where as more than 25 minutes will produce a crunchier granola. If you leave the granola in for longer than 25 minutes keep an eye on it to ensure that it does not become overly brown (burnt).

SERVES
6 – 8 people

Curry Lime Shrimp Tacos

SAMSUNG CSC

This dish was a spontaneous dinner experiment that just turned OUT. Tacos are great because you can keep them simple as long as you have the right mix of flavors. In my opinion, the staple ingredients for a good taco include: a protein, some seasoning, corn tortilla, onion, cilantro, and lime. Check out this tasty variation, or make a few substitutions using whatever you have in the pantry!

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/3 cups dried coconut flakes
  • 2 large limes
  • 2 tsp. honey
  • ½ cup cilantro, chopped fine
  • ½ large onion
  • About 5 radishes
  • 3 tbsp. coconut oil
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 lb. uncooked shrimp (fresh or defrosted)
  • 2 tsp. curry powder
  • Salt to taste
  • Corn tortillas

INSTRUCTIONS
Toast the coconut flakes in the oven or on the stovetop until golden brown. While the coconut is toasting, squeeze one of the limes into a medium bowl. Add the honey and chopped cilantro and whisk. Chop the onion and radishes into small pieces and combine with the dressing.

Chop the garlic. Heat the coconut oil on medium-high in a large skillet, being careful not to burn the oil. Add the garlic and the shrimp. The shrimp should cover the bottom of the pan in an even layer, but if it doesn’t you should cook the shrimp in batches. Cook the shrimp until just pink on both sides, about 1-2 minutes per side. Remove the pan from heat/burner. Transfer the shrimp to a cutting board to remove the tails and cut into ½ inch pieces. Put the shrimp pieces back into the pan with oil and garlic and add curry powder, toasted coconut, and salt to taste. Mix, adding more coconut oil if the mixture becomes dry.

Heat the tortillas per package instructions. Stack each tortilla with shrimp and radish salad. Serve with a beer and a couple lime wedges!

SERVES
4 people

Pea Soup with Lemon & Pepper

SAMSUNG CSC

This pea soup is simple and scrumptious. It’s best with really fresh and vibrant ingredients, but still quite tasty with good quality frozen peas (preferably organic). I like serving it café-style in a cup with a sandwich or a salad on the side.

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 tbsp. butter
  • 1 large onion
  • 3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 20 ounces fresh or frozen peas
  • ¼ cup fresh mint
  • ¼ cup fresh basil
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley
  • 1 large lemon or 1 ½ small lemons
  • ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt to taste
  • Toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds) for garnish
  • Crumbled feta cheese for garnish
  • More parsley for garnish

INSTRUCTIONS
Set up your workstation in advance because this recipe moves fast. In addition to the above ingredients, you will need a blender, a large saucepan, a cutting board, a lemon zester, and a good sharp knife.

Chop the onion. Add the butter to the saucepan over medium heat. When the butter starts to bubble (but before it browns) add the onion and cook for 5 to 8 minutes until translucent. Add the stock and bring to a boil. While the stock is heating, chop the herbs. Also, zest the lemon into the pot then cut it in half and squeeze in all of its juices.

Once the stock is boiling add the peas. Be careful about timing here – you do not want to overcook the peas. If you’re using fresh peas I recommend cooking for 3 minutes. For frozen peas don’t cook for more than 2 minutes. In the couple minutes while the peas are cooking, add the chopped herbs and pepper to the pot. Pour the soup mixture and the Parmesan cheese into a blender and blend for about a minute. Add salt to taste and blend until smooth.

Top with toasted pepitas, feta, and/or chopped parsley.

SERVES
6 – 8 people

Poached Eggs in Smokey Garlic Tomatoes

SAMSUNG CSC

This tomato and egg dish is a favorite weeknight dinner and weekend brunch in my household. It is easy, filling, and between the tomatoes, garlic, feta, smoked paprika, and cumin has a great balance of flavor. It’s also packed with vitamins (C, K, A, B, E, D) protein, potassium, fiber, folate, calcium… the list goes on. I highly recommend for any time you’re craving a dish that is both healthy and satisfying.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 – 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 small or medium onion
  • 4 – 5 cloves of garlic
  • 1 large jalapeño
  • 1 large russet potato *
  • 2 tsp. cumin
  • 3 tsp. smoked paprika**
  • One 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup of feta cheese crumbles
  • 5 – 6 eggs
  • Chopped parsley for garnish

INSTRUCTIONS
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Heat the olive oil in a deep-sided 12-inch skillet (we love to use cast iron for this) over medium-high. Meanwhile, finely chop the onion and add it to the pan. While the onion starts to cook, chop the garlic and jalapeño, add to the pan, and stir. Peel and chop the potato and stir into the aromatics.

Let the potato cook for a few minutes until brown on one side before stirring. Continue to brown the potato for a few minutes longer before adding the cumin and paprika. Stir the mixture and allow it to cook one minute. Then add the tomatoes and simmer for 15 minutes to reduce and allow flavors to develop. Be sure to scrape any brown bits from the bottom of the pan upon adding the tomatoes.

After reducing the sauce gently incorporate the feta cheese. Then, create 5 or 6 divots in the sauce in which to crack the eggs. Carefully crack the eggs into the prepared divots and place the whole pan in the oven. Cook for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes the eggs might appear to be undercooked, but really should be cooked through with soft or partially runny yolks (I always second guess whether or not they are done, but that’s just because I am not used to seeing them cooked this way). Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

SERVES
5 – 6 people

* Some versions of this dish call for one 14.5 oz. can of garbanzo beans (drained) in place of the potato. I like both versions but my partner prefers potatoes, so that’s what we tend to use.

** You can also use mild or sweet paprika, but the smoky stuff gives the dish a wonderful flavor

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

SAMSUNG CSC

Oatmeal chocolate chip cookies are my number one favorite. After many trials and errors, I have finally come up with the perfect whole grain version. Its chewy, chocolatey, and hits the spot even though the sugar is reduced. Warning: although you will be tempted to gobble down the batter (because it is so delicious), do not over-indulge! Eating too many uncooked oats is not fun later.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup plus 6 tbsp. softened butter*
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar (entirely unrefined, if possible)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 and 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour or semolina flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips or chopped dark chocolate

INSTRUCTIONS
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and butter two baking sheets. Place the softened butter in a large mixing bowl. If possible, use butter that has been softened from sitting out, rather than microwaving. Add the honey and sugar and blend. Add the eggs and vanilla and blend once more just until combined. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add the flour mixture to the wet mixture and mix on low or with a wooden spoon briefly to combine. Incorporate the oats and the chocolate chips.

Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto the cookie sheets. Bake 12 to 15 minutes until golden brown around the edges. Cool for one minute on cookie sheets, then move to a wire rack to cool completely before storing in a sealed container.

SERVES
About 16 people or 32 cookies

*I actually use salted butter in this recipe because I like the sweet and salty balance of flavors. But if you like the sweetness to stand out more use unsalted butter.

Platanos Maduros

DSC_0163

Fried sweet plantains, made with platanos maduros, are delicious. They are traditional in many Latin cultures, and are so versatile they can be eaten with almost any meal. Do yourself a solid and learn how to make them at home. It’s super easy, cheap, and requires just a few simple ingredients.

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 very ripe plantains (platanos maduros)
  • About one cup canola oil or peanut oil (or a blend of the two) for frying
  • 2 tbsp. maple syrup
  • Salt

INSTRUCTIONS
Peel and slice the plantains into ½ inch slices and put them in a large bowl. Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large saucepan or medium frying pan. Ideally you will have about a half-inch of oil in the pan. While the oil is heating, drizzle the plantains with your choice of sweetener and sprinkle with salt. Gently roll the plantains around in the bowl to coat with the syrup mixture.

Test the heat of the oil with a small plantain slice. The plantain should sizzle when you add it to the pan. Once you are satisfied with the heat of the oil, add more plantains to the pan until full without crowding. Depending on the size of your pan you may have to cook in two batches. Fry the plantains for six minutes on each side. When you are satisfied with the caramelization on each side, remove from pan and dry on a paper bag (free of dyes) or paper towl.

SERVES
6 people as a side or dessert, 8 people as an appetizer with toothpicks

Grilled Chicken with Ginger & Soy

DSC_0153

My husband Danny rocks at grilling chicken. He knows how to get the skin perfectly crisp-charred while maintaining the juicy integrity of each piece. This recipe is a winner. It’s easy, delicious, and makes for a relaxing backyard barbecue any night of the week.

INGREDIENTS

  • ¾ cup gluten free soy sauce or Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
  • ⅓ cup maple syrup or molasses
  • 4 – 5 garlic cloves, chopped or pressed for more flavor
  • 2 tbsp. fresh ginger, chopped or grated finely for more flavor
  • One whole cut-up chicken or assorted bone-in chicken pieces (3-4 lbs)

INSTRUCTIONS
Add the first four ingredients to a large mixing bowl and whisk. Add the chicken pieces to the bowl. Get in there with you hands and gently roll the chicken around in the marinade, being sure that every piece is coated. Cover the chicken and put it in the fridge for about four hours (no more than 12 hours, no less than 2 hours). If possible, take it out about halfway through to recoat the chicken with marinade.

Place the marinated chicken on a very hot grill and carefully pour the leftover marinade over the pieces of chicken. The chicken breasts (bone down) and thighs should go in the hottest part of the grill surrounded by the remaining legs and wings. Put the lid back on the grill and allow to sear for 5 minutes.  After the initial sear, the chicken skin should be a bit blackened – don’t worry, this is just the syrup or molasses caramelizing, which is delicious. Flip the chicken and redistribute the least-cooked pieces to the hottest spots on the grill. Cook for another 5 minutes. Lastly, remove the chicken pieces from direct flame if the grill is still quite hot and place in an area where they will cook slower for 5-10 minutes or until done. I usually cut into one of the thickest breasts near the bone just to make sure everything is looking good (no pink). Be careful not to overcook the chicken – you can always put it back on if underdone but there is no saving an overcooked bird.

When done, the chicken will have amazing crispy skin and, by searing the meat, all the flavors and juices will be left in tact. Enjoy!

SERVES
About 6 people

Pineapple Tofu Skewers

SAMSUNG CSC

These pineapple tofu skewers are surprisingly baller. A friend from Thailand brought them to a barbecue and they were a huge hit, so I decided to try them at home. He told me that his family eats tofu (in different forms, consistencies and flavors) for almost every meal, including this recipe. Extra-firm tofu quickly soaks up the flavors of this simple balanced marinade of ginger, garlic, maple and soy. I found it works well to sear the skewers on high heat to get that smokey grilled flavor. Pairs perfectly with the sweet syrupy pineapple!

INGREDIENTS

  • ½ cup gluten free soy sauce or Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped or pressed for more flavor
  • 2 tbsp. of ginger, chopped or grated finely for more flavor
  • ½ of a Pineapple, chopped into cubes
  • 8 oz package of extra-firm tofu, chopped into large cubes
  • 2 slices of thick-cut bacon (optional)
  • Oil for the grill
  • A couple teaspoons toasted sesame seeds
  • Chopped chives or scallions for garnish

INSTRUCTIONS
Create the marinade by mixing the first four ingredients in a quart-sized ziplock bag. A bowl will also work but you will have to double the marinade or flip the tofu half way through to ensure full coverage. Add the tofu cubes, which can be on the larger size, to the marinade and “vacuum” the air out of the bag using a straw our your mouth. Marinate for two hours.

Alternate adding pineapple chunks and marinated tofu to the skewers. For me this recipe made four skewers with three chunks of each pineapple and tofu. For a special treat, wrap one piece of tofu on each skewer with a half of a piece of thick-cut bacon before adding the tofu to the skewer. Place the skewers on a hot, well-oiled grill and cook covered for six to eight minutes. Flip the skewers and cook covered on the other side for another six to eight minutes. Remove the skewers from the grill, sprinkle with sesame seeds and garnish, and serve!

SERVES
4 appetizers, 2 entrees