In my mind, it began as a Green Elvis smoothie. The King of Rock and Roll enjoyed peanut butter-banana sandwiches, so goes the legend, and I figured I wouldn’t even taste the fresh spinach I picked up at the grocery yesterday in there.
But the only peanuts I had were salt-and-pepper peanuts, and that was more savory flavor than I could stomach in a smoothie. You like kale in your smoothie? You might like salt-and-pepper peanuts, too, I don’t know, but I’ve tried kale in my smoothies, and it’s disgusting. Smoothies should be like dessert, not like a meal for a toothless old coot.
(I’ve also heard Elvis liked bacon in those peanut butter-banana sandwiches, and for a brief moment, I considered putting bacon in the smoothie and calling it a Green Elvis & Ham Smoothie, but no. That’s just wrong.)
OK, so how about a little less Elvis and a little more green? How about pistachios, a green nut?
And what’s this in my fridge? Leftover avocado? Green apple? It’s destiny.
Thus, my breakfast yesterday morning was born. It’s a stick-to-your-ribs 400-calorie smoothie that’s a perfectly balanced mix of carbohydrates, fats (the good kind) and protein. The yogurt makes it creamy, and the chia seeds make it thick. I’m sure Elvis would have hated it (he probably slept through breakfast), but you might like it.
- 1/2 banana, sliced and frozen
- 1/2 Granny Smith apple, cut into chunks and frozen
- 1/4 avocado, cut into chunks and frozen
- 1/2 cup spinach
- 1/2 ounce pistachios (shelled of course, do I need to say that?)
- 1/2 cup plain yogurt (I prefer fat-free)
- 1 scoop vanilla-flavored whey protein powder
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds
- 1 teaspoon green tea leaves
- 1-2 teaspoons stevia
- 1/4-1/3 cup water (you need only enough water to help your blender work; too much, and your smoothie will be more drinkable than spoonable, and that’s no way to eat a smoothie)
- Combine ingredients in a blender (I love the single-serving glasses for saving on washing dishes later). Blend until smooth. Consume with gusto.
Have I shared my Beloved’s secret popcorn recipe?
It’s in the bag.
A paper bag.
He starts by heating a combination of butter and peanut oil in the bottom of a pot, a trick he learned long ago from his father. He adds a handful of popcorn kernels and a cover, and then shakes the pan until they finish popping.
Here’s where the bag comes in: He dumps the popped kernels into the paper grocery bag, adds a few pinches of salt and pours a few tablespoons of melted over the corn in the bag.
Fold over the top of the bag and shake vigorously. That’s how you get butter on salt on every kernel. None of the greasy-on-the-top-dry-on-the-bottom movie bucket popcorn. This popcorn is perfect from first crunch to last.
Now you know. It’s so good it’s addictive. Enjoy.
When I think Italian food, I think red.
Tomatoes. Spaghetti sauce. A nice glass of Chianti.
It’s a limited vision. But it doesn’t have to be so.
It could be yellow.
I conjured up the following recipe after a friend gave me some fresh lemons. I wanted to make some comfort food (and icy cold lemonade wasn’t gonna cut it), so I thought of linguine with lemon sauce. But I had some yellow peppers I wanted to use up, the inspiration for which brought me to a bunch of red pepper sauce recipes. Thus was born my Pasta with Lemon & Pepper Cream Sauce.
I liked it so much, I made it again a couple of days later with some vibrant orange sweet peppers. And a couple of carrots. ‘Cause I’m just a wild and crazy gal (who likes to sneak veggies into everything).
The result had all the atomic orange goodness of a bowl of Kraft macaroni cheese without any of the scary dyes or preservatives. The half-and-half (or cream, if you’re really needing it) speaks of comfort. There is a ton of natural, delicious flavor here, but don’t skip over the fresh lemon juice or the red pepper flakes.
Pasta with Lemon & Pepper Cream Sauce
- 2 orange (or yellow or, if you must be conventional, red) sweet peppers, seeded and cut into eighths
- 2 carrots, peeled and cut into sticks (skeptical? You won’t even taste these — but they’re orange! and good for you!)
- 4 cloves garlic, smashed and skins removed
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- about 12 cherry tomatoes, halved (I used red, but I really wished I had orange on hand — these are for garnish)
- zest of 1 fresh lemon plus about a tablespoon of lemon juice
- 3-4 tablespoons half-and-half
- 1 tablespoon dried parsley
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- A pinch of red pepper flakes
- 4-6 ounces of your favorite pasta (I like angel hair, but you have my permission to be unconventional)
- 2 tablespoons shredded parmesan cheese
- Salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper
- Arrange peppers, carrots and garlic on a cookie sheet. I tucked the garlic cloves into the pepper pieces so they wouldn’t get burnt (though a little browning just adds yumminess). Drizzle with oil. Add salt and pepper. Roast in a hot 400 degree oven for 25 minutes, stirring once or twice. Add the cherry tomatoes and roast for 10 minutes more (35 minutes total).
- Allow roasted veggies to cool slightly. Reserve the cherry tomatoes for garnish later. Now’s the time to start your salted water a boilin’ for your pasta.
- Combine lemon zest, lemon juice, roasted veggies, half-and-half and dried spices in blender (I used a smoothie glass) and blend until smooth. It will be thick, like a smoothie. Taste it and add salt and pepper as necessary.
- When your noodles are done (al dente if you must, or a little mushier if you’re more like me), drain and add back to your hot pot. Dump your blended veggies into pot and mix well.
- To serve, divide between two bowls (or, if you’re really hungry, dump into a single big bowl). Garnish with parmesan, your roasted cherry tomatoes and freshly ground black pepper. Serves 1 or 2.
It’s that time of year.
No, I’m not talking about the third week in January, the worst week of the year. (Stock brokers around the country can attest to this! But no, that’s not what I mean.)
OK, well, I am. A little.
I’m talking soup. And it’s soup time because, well, it’s cold outside and a nice hot soup warms the house and the soul. (Won’t help your stock portfolio, though. Sorry.)
I talked to my mom earlier this week, and she assured me she was staying indoors (away from the bone chilling temps in central Minnesota), keeping busy. Making soup. Chili. Minestrone. Something called Barley Burger Soup (you had me at “barley,” Mom).
So I made soup for supper, even though my Beloved proclaimed “yuck” (fine, enjoy your boxed macaroni and cheese).
I’ve posted a recipe for “Cream” of Asparagus Soup in the past, but that recipe was a faux cream version. This one actually calls for a half cup of half and half. Because, why not?
I also cleaned out my fridge. Because that’s what a good soup is for. Using stuff up. Plus it turns a greenish asparagus soup into a more golden hue. Like the sun.
I hope you enjoy.
Cream of Asparagus & Orange Leftovers Soup
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 carrot, peeled and sliced
- 1 stalks celery, chopped
- 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, smashed
- 1/2 leftover red pepper, chopped (bonus if it’s roasted)
- 20-25 spears asparagus
- 1 cup leftover baked potato and baked sweet potato (I knew I’d find a use for this!)
- 2 cups chicken broth
- zest of 1 lemon
- 1/2 cup half-and-half
- Shredded parmesan to garnish
- Break tough ends off asparagus and separate tips to use later. Roughly chop remainder into 1-inch pieces.
- Heat olive oil in a largish sauce pan and add all vegetables except asparagus tips and leftover baked potatoes. Saute until onion is translucent.
- Add chicken broth. Simmer for 30 minutes or so until vegetables are tender. Add potatoes 5 minutes from the end; they’re already cooked and you just need to warm them up. Add lemon zest at the very end, right before blending.
- Using an immersion blender, blend until smooth. Add asparagus tips and simmer for 6-8 minutes (until tips are tender). Stir in half-and-half and warm (don’t boil), and add salt and pepper to taste. Serves 2. Garnish with parmesan and fresh cracked pepper.
When it comes to side salads, I make the same one. Every. Single. Time.
Romaine lettuce. Cherry tomatoes. Cucumbers. Green onions.
Sometimes I add parmesan cheese and croutons and top it with Caesar dressing, and sometimes I add blue cheese, dried cranberries and walnuts and top it with Vidalia onion dressing, but it’s pretty much the same thing every time.
At the beginning of brand new year, I decided to try a fresh approach.
Steak was on the menu in order to take advantage of a Christmas gift of gourmet chimichurri sauce. Chimichurri is a piquant sauce (or marinade) of Argentinian origin traditionally used on grilled meat, typically containing parsley, garlic, vinegar, olive oil, and flakes of chili pepper. Way better than A1.
Corn seemed like an appropriate side dish, but corn is as boring as my boring side salad. How about a corn-salad mashup? So I created the following, and it was so good, I’m sharing it here:
Corny Salad Side Dish
- 1 15-ounce can of whole kernel corn
- 1/4 red pepper, diced
- 12 cherry tomatoes, halved
- 2 green onions, sliced
- 1 cup of romaine lettuce, chopped
- 1 heaping tablespoon of pepitos (roasted pumpkin seeds)
- 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon cumin
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinaigrette (or another oil-based salad dressing)
- A few dashes Chipotle Smoked Tabasco sauce
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Fritos corn chips (optional)
- Combine all ingredients except Fritos. Toss and serve. Top with crunched up Fritos if desired. Serves 3 or 4.
Dads are great for many things, but they might be best when there’s a spatula involved.
Why? Dads aren’t experimental cooks. When they’re making a meal, they’re relying on tried and true ingredients and techniques.
Hungry for breakfast on your camping trip? My dad makes the best fried eggs and bacon on the planet. No kidding. (I wax nostalgic for Dad’s eggs here.)
You gotta trust Dad’s instincts when it comes to cooking. So when Dad suggested a recipe for Beer Bottle Bacon Wrapped Stuffed Buffalo Burgers, I was all, “You had me at bacon.”
Even better? He provided the ground buffalo burger.
So I made these meaty delights earlier this week, and I think you need to make them, too. Like right now. They are tasty! Why? Well, there’s bacon. But the Caramelized Vegetable and Mozzarella Stuffing is to die for! Butter? Yup. Onion and mushrooms sautéd low and slow for a half hour? Yup. Sun-dried tomatoes? Of course! And I, being without mozzarella, used a combination of smoked gouda, parmesan and swiss cheese to magnificent results.
Don’t be sloppy — follow the directions (although I’m sure you could substitute lean ground beef for the ground buffalo). You won’t be sorry.
I served my juicy buffalo cups with a green salad — literally, green — based on Martha Stewart’s Edamame and Mint Salad (I used fresh basil instead of mint and I added a balsamic dressing and roasted pumpkin seeds).
Make it this weekend. You won’t be sorry.
Thanks, Dad! Great idea!
It’s the pot luck time of year, and as I have sojourned lo, these past weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to enjoy a number of awesome bring-a-dish-to-share meals, several of which included totally delicious smoked ribs and corn on the cob. Can’t go wrong with ribs and corn for a crowd. Armed with this recent experience, I’m here to share three secret recipes:
1. Butter: This is not a recipe, exactly, but a tip. If you agree to bring the cornbread to a gathering, either make it with a lot of butter or bring a lot of butter to spread on it. Butter, like bacon, makes everything better.
2. Speaking of bacon, it’s the secret ingredient in Kathi’s Baked Beans, the recipe for which I wrestled her to the ground tonight (just kidding about the half Nelson, but believe me, it was a trick to get actual measurements). Kathi’s Baked Beans do not require overnight soaking or even stinking your kitchen up with bacon grease. It’s an ingenious recipe for dressing up canned baked beans to make people think you’ve slaved hours in the kitchen. Here’s the recipe for a small group (double for a block party):
- 1 28-ounce can of Bush’s Original Baked Beans
- 1/2 pound hamburger, fried (but don’t drain the fat)
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 4.5-ounce package real bacon bits (not that fake soy bacon in a can
— look for the tear-here packets of bacon you might find in the salad fixings aisle)
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup barbecue sauce
- Combine all ingredients and warm on the stove top. Serve to hungry picnickers.
- Seriously, it’s that easy. There is no Step 2.
3. Almond bark and sprinkles make everything better, especially dessert. A woman brought a pan of Rice Krispie Cake Pops to the block party I attended on the Fourth of July, and I am not kidding you, those pretty little desserts disappeared in 10 minutes flat. I watched her take them into the garage, followed her, and grabbed a pop before all the 5-year-olds discovered them, not because I love Rice Krispie bars but because they looked so darn delicious. Sweet and sticky — yum. And the best part: They’re super easy to make. Make a pan of Rice Krispie bars (I learned recently only to use fresh marshmallows). Cut them into roughly 2-inch squares. Insert cake pop sticks. Dip the tops of the pops into melted almond bark and cake sprinkles. Voilà, you’ll be the pop luck winner!