quinoa with roasted vegetables & wine-glazed chicken


I’m currently working three different jobs right now (two of them food-related), which along with other things, makes for a rather busy and energy-draining schedule. This brilliant dish, slightly adapted from How To Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman, is something I’ve come to depend on for a much needed healthy meal, and it holds its own beautifully whether you’re eating it freshly made or re-heating it for lunch the next day.

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strawberry mango arugula smoothie


When things get heavy, it’s good to lighten up and change the regular rhythm of daily life a bit. It’s Spring, after all, or at least it’s trying to be, putting forth its best effort to shed the layers of winter and show itself off. I’m all for that, because it’s something like a make-over, of the earth as it were, and I love makeovers.

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taking time to plant

We’ve fallen behind in starting this year’s garden, with both of us working, but as soon as we can corral ourselves for an afternoon, we’ll do some planting. Though I’ve got a tray full of herbs, I’d still like to get a few more, including sorrel, with its sharp, lemony flavor, good for sauces, soups, and pestos. Currently packed on the tray and awaiting their new locations in the garden is Thai basil, along with the standard Genovese, a spearmint to go with a chocolate mint; lavender, oregano, onion chives, thyme, Italian parsley, French tarragon, rosemary, sage, and my husband’s favorite mint tea sweetener, stevia. 

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tocino de cielo (bacon from heaven)

To follow the Pastel de Medianoche I posted last week, I give you Tocino de Cielo, with its short but magical ingredient list of egg yolks, sugar, water, vanilla and lemon juice. According to The Heritage of Spanish Cooking, Tocino de Cielo was one of many desserts made with egg yolks leftover from the process of making sherry, which uses egg whites for clarifying the fortified wine. In Jerez, the region of Spain famous for its sherry, the egg yolks were donated to the local convents, where the sisters used them to make a selection of sweet specialties. 

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pastel de medianoche (midnight pastry)

There are certain things I’ve eaten in my life that have lingered long in my food memory. One such thing was a perfect piece of toast: bread, slightly crispy, spread with butter and grape jelly immediately after toasting, the timing being critical to making those two things meld into one for the perfect delivery of buttery and sweet. I was probably nine or ten years old; our families had settled for the week in a caravan of truck-mounted campers along the beach in Mexico, and my friend Pam and I sat in aluminum folding chairs, facing the ocean and eating our breakfast. I can still taste that piece of toast in my mind, and for me it is exactly what toast should be like. 

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whole grain belgian waffles


We recently bought a new waffle maker, having finally given up on the old one after several attempts at trying to produce a decent waffle. The old waffle maker had removable reversible plates, molded on one side to make square waffles, and smooth on the reverse side to function as a griddle or sandwich press. It was a great idea, in theory, and one that appealed to people wanting to cut down on too many one-purpose kitchen appliances (or to husbands who really like multi-function gadgets). And it would have been great in practice, but for the unfortunate result of waffle batter sticking to the waffle mold, and the finicky temperature knob, making the whole process a bit of an ordeal, and not necessarily worth the trouble.

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green lentil cakes with mustard vinaigrette


I stumbled on this recipe while thumbing through How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman, and commenced making it a number of times, making little variations each time. My husband loves lentils, and since the only other thing I’ve ever made with them is soup, I figured it would be worth a try. Lentils are high in protein, don’t require pre-soaking, cook in a short amount of time, and come in an interesting range of colors (red, brown, black, yellow, and green). As Bittman suggests, green or brown lentils are best for these cakes because they hold their shape fairly well after cooking. Although the original recipe bakes the cakes in the oven, I liked the texture I got when frying them in a cast-iron pan with a little olive oil, resulting in a nicely caramelized top and bottom, while still leaving a tender inner crumb.

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innovation is in the air

I’m of the persuasion, as abstract as it may sound, that great ideas somehow float in the air around us, waiting to be discovered by an open, attentive mind. I heard a friend say this many years ago, and I immediately thought it to be true. Even so, discovering, or should I say, receiving a creative idea doesn’t always come quite so easily. And often, it’s because things just get in the way. It’s encouraging, though, when the channels are open, because innovation is an exciting thing, and it’s desperately needed to help solve the problems that exist in this big world of ours. 

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cocoa sunflower seed butter


Lately, for variety’s sake, I’ve been trying a simple homemade sunflower seed butter in my smoothies. For whatever reason, for me the sunflower seed butter tends to have a certain aftertaste I don’t like, making it a less favorable choice than the almond or cashew butter I also make at home. I don’t remember where I came across the suggestion to combine the flavors of chocolate and sunflower seeds, but when I did I filed it away for an opportune moment to experiment. Certainly, mixing chocolate with nut butters is fairly common, such as chocolate and hazelnut, or chocolate and peanut butter, but somehow I didn’t think it would work with sunflower seeds too. As it turns out, chocolate works very well; with a few other complementary ingredients, it nicely rounds out that pesky aftertaste, and then some.

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mini almond cakes with lemon ganache


Technology, when it makes life simpler, is a very helpful thing. I’ve finally, at long last, gotten the latest version of that phone, the one that when first introduced proceeded to revolutionize the world’s mobile habits, and I’m so very happy with how much easier it is to organize my life with it. And because it is so much easier, that underlying frustration that comes with having to tolerate something that didn’t work well is gone, gone, gone; and good riddance to it.

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