Thursday, April 8, 2010

Sweet Onion and Mixed Vegetable Stir-fry

Tonight's original plan was cereal for dinner. But as I was driving home, I remembered some vegetables I had in the fridge that were almost past their window of peak freshness, and I decided to seize the day. You can make this really with any vegetables you have, and even add some meat, but I absolutely loved this combination of my classic favs. Let me know what combination works for you!


1 onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 heads of broccoli, cut into florets
3-4 stalks diced celery (for crunch!)
1 carton of  mushrooms, sliced or whole
1 bunch spinach, stems removed
1 T rice wine vinegar (a splash or two)
1/4 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup sesame dressing
2 T honey


Heat up a wok or big skillet on medium to medium high heat as you chop your vegetables. Add a drizzle of oil to the bottom of the pan when you're almost finished chopping. The pan should be nice and hot.

Add the onions, sprinkle with a little salt and pepper, and stir to coat in the oil. I thinly sliced my onions instead of diced them because I wanted their caramelized sweetness to be a major star in this dish. When the onions are glossy and translucent, add the minced garlic and stir.

Stir in the vegetables, except for the spinach, adding a few sprinkles of salt and pepper. If the skillet looks dry, splash with a little rice wine vinegar. You can also use chicken stock, dry white wine, or anything that will keep it moist and give it flavor. Just remember: less is more. You want to give your veggies a little drink, not drown them. Add the spinach and coat it with the pan liquids so it will begin to wilt.

Let it cook, stirring occasionally, while you prepare the sauce in a small bowl so you can get the taste just right. I started with equal parts soy sauce and sesame dressing and drizzled in the honey to taste. I ended up adding a little more sesame dressing because I wanted my stir fry to be more savory and I knew my onions would release their natural sugars. But if you want it to be sweeter, honey is your main man!

Once you've perfected the sauce, add it in increments. Once again, less is more. You want there to be just enough extra liquid to drizzle over your rice, but if it starts to look like soup, you've added too much. Stir it around until the vegetables absorb the sauce a little, taste test to see if you need to adjust your seasonings, and serve with brown rice, sesame noodles, Ramen, or whatever strikes your fancy.

Other ideas: try it with bell peppers, snap peas, or pineapple. Sprinkle some crunchy Asian noodles on top for texture. Add some red pepper flakes for a little heat. Add cornstarch or flour to your sauce if you want it to be thick.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

KERF's Best Vegetable Lasagna

I think Kath is right. This is super delicious and pretty easy! If I can make it in the middle of house showing season with no stress, you can, too! My favorite part is that 1) it's fairly inexpensive, 2) it will not get old because you can use whatever vegetables you like/your family will eat/you can't find any other use for in your fridge. I've really been enjoying Kath Eats Real Food, from the different ways she flavors her oatmeal to creative ways to implement healthy habits into life. Plus, as you will discover, she has great recipes!


3 cups pasta sauce
16 ounces 2% cottage cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan
9 whole wheat lasagna noodles
8 ounces mozzarella cheese
Approximately 4 cups mixed vegetables (I used spinach, broccoli, mushrooms, and zucchini)


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and prepare your baking dish with cooking spray. Chop your vegetables until they are bite-sized and close to the same shape and size. Combine cottage and parmesan cheeses in a bowl. Place 3 uncooked noodles along the bottom of the pan. Cover with 1 cup of your pasta sauce, making sure to cover all of the noodles with sauce. Next spread on about 1/3 of your cheese mixture, and then layer 1/3 of the chopped vegetables, and sprinkle 1/3 of the mozzarella cheese. Repeat this step twice.

Being the quintessential undomestic that I am, I forgot the last step in this process, the mozzarella cheese. I can't wait to make it again with that extra cheesy goodness, though my husband and I were perfectly happy with just the cheese on top this time!

Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake one hour, until cheese is golden brown and sauce is bubbling. I was out of aluminum foil, and the recipe still turned out great!

And now...
The secret to a happy marriage

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Ellie's Cowboy Steak

JT raved over this simple, delicious recipe. The best part: I bought these steaks on sale from Whole Foods one weekend and they were absolutely perfect. The second best part: this is a healthy recipe. Not an ounce of cream. No butter. Not even any oil. JT found that kind of hard to believe. But this flavor profile is so rich and succulent. Since it's a rub, there's no marinading time. (Ellie Krieger's original recipe found here.)


  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coffee
  • 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/4 pound shoulder center steak (Ranch Steak), or top sirloin, about 1 1/4-inch thick


Preheat a large skillet over medium high heat. In a small bowl combine all the ingredients for the rub. Spray your skillet with cooking spray, but work quickly so it doesn't burn before you get the meat on. Coat the steak well on both sides with the rub. It should stick well to the naturally moist meat if you gently press it on with your fingers. 

Cook steak for 14 minutes, turning once halfway, for medium to medium-rare. I had some pretty thick steaks and this was the perfect amount of time, but make sure to adjust according to the thickness of your cut. 

Allow steak to sit for 5 minutes before slicing. I served mine with a Caesar salad and sweet potatoes, but this "healthy" rendition of steak will stand up to steak dinner staples like mashed potatoes and gravy, warm dinner rolls, and veggies. So delicious!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

White Chocolate Cherry Granola

(Inspired by this Barefoot Contessa recipe)


4 cups old fashioned rolled oats
2 cups sweetened, shredded coconut
2 cups sliced almonds
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup good honey
1 t vanilla
2 t ground cinnamon
a dash nutmeg
1&1/2 cups dried cherries, chopped
1/2 cup cherry flavored craisins
11 oz white chocolate chips


Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

Toss the oats, coconut and almonds together in a large bowl.

Add in cinnamon and a dash nutmeg. Stir to combine.

Combine the vegetable oil , honey and vanilla in a separate bowl. Pour over oat mixture. Stir until the oats and nuts are coated with the honey mixture.

Pour onto a large sheetpan (*or 2 smaller sheet pans) and bake in a 300 degree oven for 25 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes. Coconut should be toasted and almonds lightly caramelized on the outside.

Remove from oven and allow granola to cool. When cool, add in chopped cherries, craisins and white chips. Mix to combine.

Texas Caviar

This is an easy peasy salsa/dip to serve with some blue corn tortilla chips or alongside some chicken or fish. I adapted this recipe from Mckmama, originally found here. The sweetness complements the salty chips so well, though. In as much time as it takes to open a few cans and rinse, you can get this ready in the morning, refrigerate overnight or during the day, drain the salsa and serve.


1 can black beans (drained/rinsed)
1 can garbanzo beans (drained/rinsed)
2 cans corn (drained/rinsed)
1 small carton of cherry or grape tomatoes (halved)
1 small white or yellow onion (diced)
1 bunch cilantro (shredded or finely chopped)
1/3 bottle of Italian dressing
lime juice (1-2 limes' worth)
sugar to taste (I start with 2 T and add more if needed)
salt to taste (I start with 2 T, but remember the salt from the chips)


Drain canned ingredients and rinse well (especially the beans). Combine all ingredients, unless you're worried about the tomatoes or cilantro going bad, in which case you can add those right before serving, but I love the cilantro infusion as it marinates and have never gotten sick since it's refrigerated. Mix well and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 6-8 hours, though I'm sure it would still taste great if you did at least one hour. Excess liquids will accumulate during the marinating process, so drain before serving.

I would recommend serving with Tostidos corn chips or blue corn chips. Mckmama also adds kidney beans and avocado to her recipe, but I don't like either. If you do work with avocado, add it at the end or squirt it with a little lime juice to keep it from browning. Enjoy this easy hit!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

post-Christmas pesto pasta

I threw this recipe together for lunch while JT was shoveling our White Christmas out of our driveway. He asked for a warm meal and I couldn't think of anything to put together since Christmas cooking has preoccupied me and all of our leftovers were at my parents' house. Luckily, I had leftover pasta from a soup I'd made (check out that AWESOME Cavatappi -- corkscrew-shaped macaroni), and some homemade pesto, which was a little harsh and garlicky by itself, but calmed down considerably with some creamy Laughing Cow cheese wedges.


Pesto sauce (practice with ingredients and portions YOU like!)
--> Your favorite greens and herbs (about a cup to a cup and a half)
--> 1-2 garlic cloves
--> eyeball about 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese
--> the juice of half a lemon
--> drizzle in EVOO while blending/food processing until it forms a sauce
2-3 Laughing Cow cheese wedges, depending on how much pesto you have, how strong it is, and how creamy you want your pasta to be.


Cook pasta according to package directions. In the meantime, prepare your pesto sauce and dice Laughing Cow cheese wedges. Drain pasta and return to pan, removing from the heat. Add pesto and diced cheese while the pasta is still hot, stirring consistently until the noodles are coated and the cheese is completely melted and incorporated into the pasta.

If I'd had parmesan pita chips, I'd have served with that for some crunch, and JT recommended some diced, cooked chicken for protein.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Homemade Whole Wheat Pizza

I got this crust recipe from Nie Nie here, and I was excited because her recipe leaves room for lots of creativity.

Crust Ingredients:

2 3/4 cups whole wheat flour (whole wheat pastry flour is also ok, I learned)
1 envelop active dry yeast***
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil (since I was using pesto sauce, I chose basil olive oil)
1/4 teaspoons sugar

***Using yeast was VERY intimidating for me as I prepared for this recipe. I watched Anne Burrell make pizza on her show the other week, and she recommended adding a pinch of sugar to the mixture and making sure the water is just warm enough to cultivate, not too hot. I wasn't sure what to look for to indicate it was ready, but by the time I'd mixed the dry ingredients and added the olive oil in a bowl, I could smell it and it turned out well.

Directions: Add yeast to one cup of warm water (not too hot), let sit. Mix dry ingredients together, then add olive oil. Add yeast mixture (including water) and combine kneading for about 5 minutes. Let rise for 30-45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees and roll out the dough. I had to do this twice because I didn't flour my rolling pin or my pizza stone well enough. Oh yeah, I cooked mine on a pizza stone, but I'm sure it would turn out just as well in a pizza pan or a rectangular cookie sheet. Make sure the dough is even or else it won't cook evenly. I pressed uneven spots down gently with my fingers. You can either make the crust thin or thick, depending on the circumference of your rolling.

Add your toppings. I spread pesto sauce for a garlicy punch, crumbled feta cheese, pre-cooked chicken and bacon, sun-dried tomatoes, and mozzarella and parmesan cheeses. It would be a great thing to make sure toppings aren't piled too high, they're chopped into bite-sized pieces so they cook evenly, and if you are using raw ingredients, make sure they are cooked ahead of time in case 15 minutes isn't enough to do the job!

Bake for 15-18 minutes in a 450-degree oven. Mine baked for 16 minutes. Next time, I might try baking the crust with the sauce for about 6 minutes, adding the toppings, and then baking the rest for 12 minutes. Not sure if that would work. I counted one spot in one slice that wasn't "doughy," but wasn't as crunchy as the rest of the crust.

Now that I've accomplished this, and it's pretty easy to do, I am excited about all of the variations I can do. Here are few of my ideas:
  • To sweeten the dough for fruit or dessert pizza, add a little honey
  • Pineapple, canadian bacon, spinach and mozzarella pizza
  • Cinnamon apple pizza (a little cheddar sounds good, too!)
  • Leftover fruit pizza
  • Taco pizza: cheddar, seasoned ground beef, tomato and avocado
The possibilities are endless!