Tag Archives: healthy

Cooking Food

How to Make Bone Broth in a Slow Cooker

Every once in a while, things I grew up with in my Chinese-American household manage to become the latest craze. Supplementary math books, growth mindset, and now: bone broth.

I’ve read tales of people queuing for these magical cups of inflammation-reducing, hair-skin-and-nail-enhancing elixir. While those appear to be attractive benefits of drinking broth, there’s another good reason to give it a try: it tastes really good. And after I have broth, I feel really good.

I’ve been drinking a lot of broth lately because I have a bum knee. For years, running has been my outlet for stress and my ticket to a decent night’s sleep, but years of aggressively pounding on concrete is finally catching up with me. I’ve had pain off and on for a couple of years now, but I really can’t run without pain anymore, and now it’s starting to hurt sometimes when I walk (never mind the gross popping sound it’s making now too). I’m seeing a doctor tomorrow, but for now, broth tides me over.

Sipping broth is a spiritual experience. It feels to me like serenity and replenishment. In our crazy lives there are so few things in life that we can control, so when there are opportunities to create serenity — in my case, like buying a really quiet dishwasher and oven. Broth is way cheaper than either of those!

My daughter made an Asian-style broth in a slow cooker; check out the video below to find out how!


SLOW-COOKER BONE BROTH

Ingredients

  • 1-2 pounds of bones (I like to use a mix of bone types, like chicken and pork; make sure you have a mix of meaty bones and bones with tendon and cartilage, so you get both flavor and collagen into your broth. I save my bones from roasts in the freezer for when I’m ready to make broth.)
  • 1 whole onion, peeled and cut in half
  • 1 head of garlic, cut in half horizontally
  • 1 TSBP whole ginger root
  • 1 cup shitake mushrooms
  • 1 TBSP vegetable oil
  • Water

Heat the vegetable oil in a saute pan and sear the onion and garlic til browned. Keep them in big chunks as cut so they’re easier to fish out after cooking. Add to slow cooker. Add in bones, ginger and mushrooms, and fill the slow cooker pot with water until just 1 inch below the upper rim.

Cook for 1 hour on high and then 15-23 hours on low. Occasionally skim fat and other matter that floats to the top off the surface of the broth (I find that when I use bones from previous roasts, there’s very little cloudiness to the broth and you don’t have to worry about skimming much. I also prefer the flavor from pre-roasted bones).

 

Take out the solids (or pour the liquid through a strainer into a large bowl), season with salt as desired, and enjoy! If you want to keep an ongoing broth factory, just keep adding water, bones and veggies (feel free to experiment!) to leftover broth and cook — the flavor will become more complex over time.

 

Baking Food Travel

Gluten-Free Banana Chocolate Muffins

I don’t know about you, but I’m pining for summer. We had a lovely, temperate summer here in San Diego and have been suffering through a heat wave for the past couple of weeks. Suffering, I say! Because we San Diegans cannot stand temperature fluctuations greater than +/- 3 degrees.

How was summer for you? It was my first summer in my new life as an independent consultant, which meant that I got to do interesting work, but was still able to take the odd day off and spend a day at the beach with the girls. I’m loving this gig; it’s a privileged position to able to choose the work that I take on, and it helps me with setting boundaries — something I’ve never really been very good at doing.

Our big trip of the summer was up to Lake Tahoe, where we had a family reunion with three generations of family from my mom’s side. My mom had 9 kids in her family, so when we have whole-family get-togethers, we usually take up a whole restaurant. This was a scaled-back gathering of the family that’s living the in the United States.

A lively bunch, they are.

The kids got to do what kids do…you know, making weapons out of sticks…

…and so on…

The lake was nothing short of amazing. Amazing! Clear! Sparkly! Here I am having one of the happiest moments ever, on a paddle board in the middle of this incredible view (photo credit to my cousin Jack!):

Plenty of kayaking and boating to go around too.

And some of us did some tree climbing on a ropes course:

The best thing we did (thanks to the spectacular organization skills of my sister-in-law) was to hire a private chef — Arica from Yummy Fixins — who was soooooooo fantastic. Not only was her food spectacular, but she and her assistant cleaned the kitchen before and after! If you are in Tahoe, it would simply be wrong not to hire Arica.

See those flourless chocolate cake slices in the back? I would fight you for them! The BEST I have ever tasted.

My brother was in charge of martini-making and photo bombing:

My cousins and I used to spend summers together hanging out, torturing one another and generally engaging in what is most accurately described as nonsense, so it was great to have an opportunity to gather us from all the corner of the country to do this all over again, across three generations.

After the reunion, we made our way back down the California coast. If I am ever a cow, please make me a Big Sur cow. They have the most amazing views.

I’ll do a roundup of the coastline drive in another post, but that’s just a taster…isn’t it lovely?

Ah, thanks for allowing me to relive one of the highlights of summer. And now, back to real life. The kids are back in school, we’ve got multiple Google Calendar carpools going on, and a middle school kid in the mix.  Our mornings are rushed and the easiest meals are often cereal, so that’s the go-to for the kids.

I’ve been adding these gluten-free banana chocolate muffins into the repertoire lately. Now, we all know that I’ve got nothing against gluten, being that I bake my own bread. But these are so easy to make, don’t require a ton of ingredients, and they always, always come out moist. We’ve made a little video below, with the full recipe under the video. Hope you enjoy these — cheers!

 


GLUTEN-FREE BANANA CHOCOLATE MUFFINS

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup coconut flour
  • 6 eggs
  • 3 ripe bananas, mashed
  • ½ cup raw honey, at room temperature
  • ¼ cup melted coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon chia seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preparation

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F and line a standard muffin tin with 12 baking cups.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the all ingredients except for chocolate chips. Use a spatula to mix well; then fold in the chocolate chips.
  3. Divide the batter among the 12 cups, then bake at 350F for 23-25 minutes, until the edges are golden the centers of the muffins feel firm to a light touch. Allow the muffins to cool for at least 20 minutes before serving.
  4. Store these in the fridge if not eating immediately.

Makes 12 muffins.

Cooking Food

Tabbouleh

I am mobile blogging to you today from beautiful Torrey Pines State Reserve!

I decided to rely on my middle-aged brain instead of checking my calendar, so have arrived an hour early to meet a friend and still have time to kill after forcing myself to do a run. So mobile blogging!

Ok, timely info: it’s almost Mother’s Day, and I don’t know about you, but my mom is a big fan of saving money. Rejoice: my friends over at OpenTable let me know that you can enter to win one of 10 $150 restaurant gift cards! I entered of course, and I think you should too. Here’s the link; if you win, I also think that you should invite me, even if it’s not technically in OpenTable’s contest rules.

Now, next in the series on foods that are as much fun to say as they are to eat: tabbouleh! I love tabbouleh, and so does my younger kid — we just love the awesome texture of the bulghur wheat couples with the tangy goodness of lemon juice and the party that mint and scallions bring to the table.

Tabbouleh is also super easy to make. Here, my apprentice shows you how. It’s a fantastic make-ahead option too — tastes even better if you give the flavors time to develop.

The recipe that we use is from Alice Waters, in The Art of Simple Food:

 

TABBOULEH SALAD

Makes 4 servings.

Ingredients

1/2 cup bulgur wheat

11/2 large bunches parsley (about 11/2 cups chopped)

1 bunch mint (about 1/3 cup chopped)

1 bunch scallions, white and green parts (about 1 cup chopped)

2 ripe medium tomatoes, cored and diced small

Juice of 1 lemon

Salt

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Preparation

To prepare bulgur: Place bulgur in bowl. Alice says to add cold water to cover by 1 inch, but I add boiling water — I like the tabbouleh a little softer. Soak for 20 minutes or until grains are plump. Drain in sieve.

To mix salad: Meanwhile, in large bowl, combine parsley, mint, scallions and tomatoes. Using hands, squeeze soaked bulgur to remove as much water as possible. Mix bulgur into chopped herbs and tomatoes. Add lemon juice, salt and olive oil. Mix well. Taste and add more salt, lemon juice or oil if needed. Let rest for 1 hour before serving to allow bulgur to absorb flavors.

 

 

Baking Food

Paleo Gluten-free Orange Cranberry Muffins

Since December, I’ve been spending a disproportionate amount of time in sweatpants. Factors driving this behavior:

  1. They are the symbol of freedom.
  2. Nothing beats an elastic waistband when you’re eating. NOTHING.
  3. This is the year of the cute sweatpant (or, jogger, as it’s been rebranded). There are the printed type, which I like in concept but which always look like pajamas on me (probably because I refuse to wear heels with them, which I feel defeat the purpose of achieving ultimate comfort), and the solid type; these from Athleta are my all-time favorites (I got them for Christmas — thanks San-do-ra!).
  4. I left my executive job and am now consulting, mostly from home. I was just finding that even when I was at home, I was never mentally available to my family…I have a real problem compartmentalizing work (plus there were the weird hours and challenges of working in an international business). It’s been a lot easier now that I’m in full control of my work and time…and plus I can wear sweatpants.

There are, of course downsides to the exclusive wearing of elastic waistbands. The other night I went out to dinner for a friend’s birthday, and, as it was at a restaurant, I thought the occasion warranted pants (and not the elastic waistband kind that is made to mimic pants, which I have — but the real kind with a zipper and button and everything). Turns out if you move into real pants after weeks of wearing joggers, you have to go to the bathroom every 20 minutes from the extra pressure. Also, you may find yourself thinking things like, “Why should I have a separate wardrobe for sleeping?” Still, a small price to pay for the otherwise boundless joy.

While I was sitting around in my sweatpants over the holidays, we had visitors. My brother and his family came to visit. The girls had so much fun with their little cousin, who is a big fan of hats.

My brother has a gluten intolerance, and since I also had a friend visiting that week with celiac disease, I thought I’d try to make some gluten-free muffins (which also happen to be naturally sweetened) from paleo blogger Detoxinista. I added shredded coconut and chia seeds for some extra crunch and texture. I had pretty low expectations since most gluten-free baked goods I’ve seen looked kind of flat and generally unappetizing, but these orange cranberry guys puffed up nicely:

And, they were nice and moist. I’ve tried this recipe with a number of variations, and you can pretty much add in any combination of flavors and arrive at a nice paleo muffin.

My favorite part about the recipe — it’s a one-bowl wonder. Just throw everything into a bowl, mix it up, pour into muffin tins and bake! Leave me a comment if you try a different variation — I’d love to know about any winners!

PALEO GLUTEN-FREE ORANGE CRANBERRY MUFFINS
adapted from Detoxinista

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup coconut flour
  • 6 eggs
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • Zest of one orange (about 2 teaspoons)
  • ½ cup pure maple syrup or raw honey, at room temperature
  • ¼ cup melted coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon chia seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut

Preparation

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F and line a standard muffin tin with 12 baking cups.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the coconut flour, eggs, orange juice, zest, maple syrup, coconut oil, vanilla, baking soda, chia seeds and salt. Use a whisk to mix well, breaking up any clumps, then fold in the fresh cranberries and the shredded coconut.
  3. Divide the batter among the 12 cups, then bake at 350F for 23-25 minutes, until the edges are golden the centers of the muffins feel firm to a light touch. Allow the muffins to cool for at least 20 minutes before serving.
  4. Since these muffins are very moist, leftovers should be stored in the fridge for best shelf life, but bring them to room temperature again before serving for best flavor and texture.

Makes 12 muffins.

Cooking Food Travel

Whole Trout en Papillote

It’s finally the end of the week and I’m feeling like the fish above. He’s all, “Girl, my terrariums are all dessicated and don’t even talk to me about my hair, so I’m just going to lie down in a bed of butter and lemons now.” Am I projecting?

I got back from another business trip to London a couple of weeks ago. Every morning I ran in the mist like a gorilla, which is my favorite weather and method to run in.

Across the bridge:

along the River Thames:

past Big Ben:

and on the first day, accidentally across a finish line amidst a cheering crowd in #theonlyraceilleverwin. Not to worry, the glory didn’t last long because the very next day some piece of cobblestone tripped me into some major Crouching Tiger-style flying and rolling on the ground resulting in this (and yes, as a friend so generously pointed out, I managed to land on the tops of my knees. And don’t judge my skin.):

It wasn’t like I was very noticeable wearing hot pink running shoes, a purple running skirt and a fuschia jacket or anything. I always said that exercise was dangerous.

Later, I did manage to make it to a pop-up restaurant in SoHo called The Full English, and felt much better after stuffing myself with bacon, eggs, tomatoes and beans. Check it out if you’re in London.

So that was London. Now on to fish.

Trout is one of my favorite fish, and what  I love about fish (aside from the brain health benefits that I so desperately need) is the speed with which you can prepare it. I’m not terribly experienced with cooking whole fish, so I used this Whole Trout en Papilotte recipe from the Food Network. Place some chopped onion on a piece of parchment paper, lay the fish on top and cut slits into it. Season it inside and out with salt and pepper.

Stuff the fish with herbs, coat the top with shallot butter (see instructions below) and cover it with a layer of lemons.

I wrapped it in the parchment, grilled it for 20 minutes, and it was done! Moist, tender, and makes you smarter!

WHOLE TROUT EN PAPILLOTE (from Food Network)

Ingredients

  • 2 whole trout, dressed
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup sliced sweet yellow onion
  • 2 handfuls fresh herbs (thyme, parsley and rosemary)
  • 3 tablespoons lemon-shallot butter, recipe follows
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • Parchment paper

Preparation

Preheat oven to 400 degrees (I used a grill — either will work!). Cut 2 sheets of parchment paper large enough to completely cover the fish when folded. Wash and dry the trout. Using a knife, score the fish on 1 side by cutting slits into the flesh just until you feel the bone. Season the trout generously, inside and out with salt and pepper. Spread 1/4 cup of the onions on each sheet of parchment. Place fish on top, scored side up. Stuff the inside of the fish with herbs. (It’s ok if they stick out a bit). Top each fish with 1 1/2 tablespoons of the shallot butter. Cover with the lemon slices. Drizzle 1 tablespoon white wine and 1/2 tablespoon olive oil over each fish. Fold the parchment over the fish. Starting at 1 end, fold the paper on itself, making sure to completely seal it. At the end, fold it underneath itself. Repeat. Place fish on large baking sheet and cook for about 12 to 15 minutes. To serve, place trout en papillote on a platter. Cut the parchment at the table to ensure that all the aromas stay inside the package.

Lemon Shallot Butter

Ingredients

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 lemon, zest finely minced
  • 1 small shallot, finely minced
  • Salt and pepper

Preparation

In a food processor, combine all ingredients until mixed. Place whipped butter mixture onto a sheet of plastic wrap and roll into a log. Freeze until ready to use. Butter will keep in the freezer for at least a month.

Cooking Food Travel

The Last of Summer Tomato Salad

Et tu, summer?

After my last post about being still, I have to confess that I have been anything but. I woke up one day found myself in London:

I was there for business, but I did manage to fit in dinner with some friends, a few runs in Green Park, a peek at the Prime Meridian in Greenwich:

a meal and a chocolatey porter at the Mean Time brewery:

and a glorious hour at Fortnum & Mason, where I had an internal debate on whether my life would be incomplete without a $700 tea pot:

You know, because I have so many tea parties.

But then I realized that this decision was headed for the same outcome as a purchase I made 10 years ago of pleather pants, so I made a quick jaunt over to Carnaby Street where I bought overpriced scented erasers as souvenirs for the kids.

It was a hectic but productive trip, and as soon as I got home I promptly fell ill. And then got on a plane again soon thereafter.

All this rushing around argues for a bit of simplicity.

One of my favorite things about summer is tomatoes. Heirloom tomatoes, to be exact. Colorful, flavorful, deliciously simple. We still have time for that.

I made this salad as part of an dinner we had with friends outdoors on a warm summer night. Because when you are a friend just arriving from Germany, with another on her way to Europe and a third who is Canadian, it would only be logical to stop in for a meal prepared by a Chinese American married to a Brit.

It’s a simple one really — just some slicing and a vinaigrette. But perfectly colorful, tasty, and quick enough to allow you time to enjoy some pause amidst the busyness of everyday life.

HEIRLOOM TOMATO SALAD

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 5-6 varied, fresh heirloom tomatoes
  • 3-4 leaves of basil

Preparation

Slice the tomatoes into slices 1/4 inch thick. Place them in a single layer on a serving dish, and sprinkle with a pinch of salt.

Mix the balsamic vinegar and salt together, until the salt dissolves. Add in olive oil and stir until combined. Grind in some fresh black pepper to taste. Pour over the tomatoes.

Julienne 3-4 leaves of basil and sprinkle over the salad.

Serves 4-6.

 

 

Cooking Food Popular

Beet Hash with Eggs

It’s Saturday! My favorite day of the week. What I like to do on Saturdays is to stay in my pajamas as long as possible, not brush my hair, and basically aspire to be the definition of “unkempt” in the dictionary (remember those?).

But first, three things happened to me on Facebook this week:

  • I have relatives in Asia who post occasionally in Chinese. When I hit “Translate” on a post this week, this is what I got: “Baby Flash today to the waist, my home is caring said Filipino: his wife, I help you with your horse at night to kill the chickens! I think that is OK under the NIE just two, so was delighted to accept. Didn’t think she really be practiced! In my bed at night to enjoy professional massage essential oil. Joy you are my angel! muaaah!” Can this be right? Is my cousin okay, and where is this professional massage essential oil coming from? How did they know how to translate muaaaaah?
  • My sweet friend Danielle at Cozycakes Cottage posted about me to her zillions of followers not once but twice! Very kind of her.
  • A high school friend posted on my wall that she just read about me in this month’s issue of Redbook. I was hoping it was a surprise article wherein they unveiled a special subsidy for me to focus on nothing but eating delicious foods for the rest of my life, but when I went out a lunch to get a copy, it was just an article about jobs. I’m the second from the left. I guess my part of the planet is about 45 degrees offset from everyone else.

Anyway, on to the food. As some of you know, I generally try to make tasty foods that are also reasonably healthy — though I won’t compromise on flavor. One of my favorite magazines (uh, aside from Redbook of course) is Whole Living, which is filled with beautiful photography and prose that reduces your cortisol levels upon reading. I like to read about food before I go to bed, so it’s a standby on my nightstand.

I also really love beets. Check out my header.

So when I saw this Beet Hash with Eggs, I knew that it was a message from God. I shalt make thine Beet Hash, and I shalt make it on the day before the Sabbath.

So I did.

It was easy.

Boil peeled and diced beets and potatoes for 7 minutes, and then fry them up in a pan with some onions.

 Make four little wells in the hash, and fry up some eggs. That’s it! Well, mostly, read the recipe for details.

BEET HASH WITH EGGS (from Whole Living magazine, October 2012)

Ingredients

  • 1 pound beets, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed and diced
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 4 large eggs
Preparation
  1. In a high-sided skillet, cover beets and potatoes with water and bring to a boil. Season with salt and cook until tender, about 7 minutes. Drain and wipe out skillet.
  2. Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Add boiled beets and potatoes and cook until potatoes begin to turn golden, about 4 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, add onion, and cook, stirring, until tender, about 4 minutes. Adjust seasoning and stir in parsley.
  3. Make four wide wells in the hash. Crack one egg into each and season egg with salt. Cook until whites set but yolks are still runny, 5 to 6 minutes.

Cooking Food

Crisp Asparagus Salad with Sesame Oil

Nowadays, we seem to find meaning in quantifying everything about people: you are your Klout score, Twitter followers, Facebook Likes, Quora answer votes. I may be proud of my eBay feedback score and might have read my eBay positive feedback once or twice to bring me up when I’m feeling down. (I said might. Though I hear that no words give your self-esteem a lift more than “A++++++ eBayer! Hope to do business again soon!”)

Yet another reason that I like food: it’s a bit escapist from all the measuring. People try to quantify the food experience — like through star ratings on Yelp — but in the end, it’s hard to have an objective measure. And perhaps we shouldn’t; maybe we should just enjoy the food experience for its own sake, if only to have a break from the endless barrage of scores and data (which I like, at work. Just not so much in my free time.).

By the way, this post features some of the worst photos that I’ve ever taken. I’d like to say that I was channeling a Siberian gulag experience when I took these, but the truth is that I was hungry and styling was lower on the priority list than eating. On the bright side, think about how good this would look to you if you were in a gulag! So just trust me that this looks much more appetizing in real life than what I’m showing you here.

I got this recipe off of Facebook, through my friend Chris Wood, who may spend as much time with bacon as I do. I haven’t seen Chris in over 20 years, but Facebook has a way of introducing you to the intricacies of people’s diets even if you no longer really know what the people actually look like anymore.

Anyway, on to this nice, easy refreshing summer salad. You’ll be shocked to know that you begin with a bunch of asparagus.

(I know, I know, the composition, the cropping, the lighting! Aargh. Go look at the pictures in another post to recover your eyesight. I’ll wait.)

Prepare an ice bath in a bowl big enough to hold the asparagus.

Blanch the asparagus in boiling salted water until it turns bright green, and is tender but still crisp. (Ok, this next picture is really bad — you can even see the reflection of my overhead lighting in the water! I’m going to say that my 7-year-old took it.) The time will depend on the thickness of your stalks, but for this batch of medium-sized stalks, it took about 2 minutes. Next time I’ll cut the stalks so that they’re prettier, at a nice clean 45 degree angle.

Drain the asparagus and put them into the ice bath to stop the cooking.

Prepare the dressing by combining 1/2 clove minced garlic, 2 TBSP sesame oil, 1 TBSP lemon juice, 2 tsp dijon mustard (someday I will blog on this all on its own but there is only one mustard I ever use, which I used to ask my in-laws to smuggle from France, Amora Dijon Mustard. It is far superior to anything I’ve found in the US (more flavor, less sweet, bigger kick), and I recently discovered to my delight that someone is selling it on Amazon! It makes for phenomenal vinaigrettes.), 1/2 tsp pepper and salt to taste.

Remove the asparagus from the bath and toss with the dressing. I’d recommend adding in the dressing gradually to taste. Chill in the refrigerator.

If someone makes this and sends me better pictures I will post them!!!!

CRISP ASPARAGUS SALAD WITH SESAME OIL (Chris Wood)

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch asparagus, cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1/2 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbs. sesame oil
  • 1 Tbs. lemon juice
  • 2 tsp. whole grain Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • salt to taste
  • sesame seeds (optional)

Preparation

Blanch the asparagus in boiling salted water until bright green. You want them to be tender but still crisp, about 2 minutes. Immediately drain and put in ice bath to stop cooking. Remove asparagus from ice bath when chilled.
Meanwhile, whisk together all other ingredients and taste to adjust seasoning. Toss vinaigrette with asparagus and refrigerate.
(Optional) Toss with sesame seeds before serving.

Serves 1-2.

Baking Food

Whole Wheat Strawberry Muffins

This week, I showed my hairdresser a picture of Jennifer Lopez and ended up with Martha Stewart.

Then, true to form, I had the urge to bake like Martha, but healthier.

Curses, Hairdresser, why do you forsake me?!?

I thought these would be good to take along on our upcoming camping trip. You know, to appease the bears. Remind me not to wear my bacon perfume when we go camping.

Start by mixing all the dry ingredients together in a bowl.

I know these pictures are bad but it was late.

Then in the bowl of a mixer, cream and butter and sugar, and then beat in two eggs, one at a time.

Ok, I might have had a drink or two.

Beat in the dry mixture and greek yogurt, alternating half of each at a time. Fold in the strawberries.

Scoop the mixture into 12 muffin cups and bake for 25-30 minutes. If you want to make them prettier, sprinkle them with some raw sugar before you put them in the oven. I adapted this from an America’s Test Kitchen recipe, using whole wheat pastry flour, subbing out nutmeg for allspice and adding in strawberries.

Whole Wheat Strawberry Muffins (adapted from Simple Spiced Whole-Wheat Muffins in the America’s Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 TBSP baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice
  • 6 TBSP unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups greek yogurt
  • (optional) 1 TBSP raw sugar

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 375. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.

In a large bowl, whisk together flours, 1/4 cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in a bowl.

In the bowl of a mixer, beat the butter and 1 cup sugar on medium speed til creamy and uniform, 3-6 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, til combined. Beat in vanilla.

Reduce mixer speed to low and beat in a third of the flour mixture, followed by half the greek yogurt. Repeat with the remaining dry mixture and yogurt.

Scoop batter into baking cups and sprinkle raw sugar on top if desired. Bake for 25-30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking. Cool for 5 minutes and then let cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack before serving.

Makes 12 muffins.

Cooking Food

Herbed Quinoa with Beets

I’m a pretty dedicated carnivore, but every once in a while I read an article like this one about death by bacon and I think, “Well, maybe it wouldn’t hurt for me to try to live 13% longer, just for today.” Even if the only result of all my recent working out is not awesome abs or toned arms, but bigger calves, and get this — a bigger butt. This was not what I was hoping to achieve. I may actually need to invest in a new pair of big butt jeans to accommodate. Yesterday I wore my jeans with a rubber band around the button, maternity-style. Sigh.

It was just me and the girls tonight, but I compensated for the meatlessness by clipping a few sprigs of jasmine from the garden and sticking them in a glass. So simple, but it smelled so fancy.

Jasmine

Anyway, back to dinner. I wanted to make something flavorful and filling, so I did a fridge raid and here’s what I found:

quinoa and beets
Quinoa and red beets

I heated up the oven to 400 and popped the beets in for an hour. I like to cook them in a covered ceramic container lined with parchment paper (for easy cleanup), but you can also just wrap them with aluminum foil. I’ve avoided cooking with aluminum foil ever since I read that it increases your chances of getting Alzheimer’s. I don’t need any extra help getting there.

I had cooked the quinoa the night before, but my favorite way to cook quinoa is in a rice cooker, so that it comes out perfect every time, but you can also follow the instructions on the package.

While the beets were roasting I grabbed some parsley, dill and scallions. Chopped them. Grabbed a handful of grape tomatoes and halved them with a serrated knife.

herbs

I made a quick little vinaigrette with 1/4 cup oil, 1/4 cup vinegar, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and 1 teaspoon of salt and freshly ground better. Mixed it all up in a measuring cup.

Once the beets were roasted and slightly cooled, I peeled them (they slide right off if you apply pressure and push to the right) and diced them. I combined all the other ingredients, poured the vinaigrette over it, and tossed.

You know what? The kids actually liked it, and it was filling. Go keeeeeeeeen-waaaaaaaahhh!

HERBED QUINOA WITH BEETS

Ingredients

  • 3 cups cooked quinoa
  • 2 red beets
  • handful of parsley and dill, chopped
  • 4-5 scallions, sliced
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 2 TBSP freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground pepper

Preparation

Roast beets in a covered ceramic container lined with parchment or wrapped in aluminum foil at 400 degrees for 1 hour. Meanwhile, chop herbs, slice scallions and halve grape tomatoes.

In a cup or small bowl, combine 1/4 cup oil, 1/8 cup vinegar, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Mix until uniform.

Peel beets and dice. Add the herbs, scallions, grape tomatoes, beets and vinaigrette to the quinoa and toss. Add salt and pepper and additional lemon juice to taste.

P.S. I didn’t do this but I’m thinking that adding a handful of toasted pine nuts to this recipe would make it extra delicious!