Sunday, October 27, 2013

Guest post for October Unprocessed: Cherry chipotle "Not Ketchup"

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I think you'll be interested in my guest post for October Unprocessed, which is up on Eating Rules today.

The post talks about the process I've gone through in the past few months developing Not Ketchup, my new line of condiments that will be on store shelves in southern California soon and then (I hope!) around the country.

It also includes a recipe for a homemade, completely unprocessed version of my Cherry Chipotle "Not Ketchup" - which, as you'll see when you read the post, varies slightly from the formulation that eventually ended up in stores.

Read the post: Cherry Chipotle "Not Ketchup" on Eating Rules

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Feeding the sick: Green juice for Hot Dog Boy

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Let's just get this straight: Hot Dog Boy is the last kid on earth you'd expect to drink green juice willingly.

But when he came down with a cold straight after a week that included few vegetables but lots of milkshakes, burgers, pizza, candy, and cookies, I went straight for the blender.

I try not to police what my kids eat. When you're 11, sometimes a week of Mom's-out-of-town-and-then-too-busy-to-cook pizza runs straight into a sleepover and then two evening concerts with treat-laden intermission snack tables. I understand this.

But at some point we all have to get back on track.

I make green smoothies for my husband; there's a bottle in the refrigerator most of the time. But I've had my personal ups and downs with green smoothies. Michael likes the texture. I prefer them strained, closer to juice.

This is our standard green smoothie. If Hot Dog Boy will drink it with a smile on his face, your kids will too.

P.S. This recipe is designed for a large, high-powered blender like my Vitamix. If you have a smaller blender, cut the recipe in half or you'll end up with Green Counters instead of Green Juice.

P.P.S. Hot Dog Boy really does eat a lot of fruits and vegetables these days. He might need a new nickname.

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Green juice for Hot Dog Boy
A refreshing green smoothie with spinach or kale, cucumbers, apples, grapes, lime, and honey. Strain it for green juice or leave as is for a green smoothie. This recipe is designed for a large blender like my Vitamix; halve it if you have a smaller blender.
  • 1 6-ounce bag baby spinach (substitute equal amount of baby kale)
  • 2 Granny Smith apples, unpeeled, cored and cut into chunks
  • 1/2 large English cucumber, unpeeled, cut into chunks
  • 1 lime, peel cut away (use entire flesh)
  • 3 cups green grapes
  • 2 Tablespoons honey, or to taste
  • 1/2 cup water
Place all ingredients in the container of a high-powered blender. (If your blender is small, blend in batches.) Blend until very smooth, about 1 minute in my Vitamix. Serve chilled, either as is or strained through a fine-mesh strainer.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: approximately 2 liters

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Herbed Idaho® mashed potatoes

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Are you thinking about Thanksgiving already? I am.

Our family Thanksgiving moves around, but it's at my house this year. There are some dishes that make a regular appearance on the menu no matter who's hosting: braised red cabbage, my mother-in-law's spinach and mushroom stuffing, green bean casserole, roast turkey.

But I'm a bit of a renegade: I cut my turkey into parts and roast it like chicken. And (don't faint) I don't always make mashed potatoes. I didn't grow up with mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving, so sometimes I just...forget.

Are we still friends?

I hope so. Because I want to tell you about the very easy, very beautiful, very delicious herbed Idaho® mashed potatoes I'm making this year. Creamy, buttery mashed potatoes mixed with a ton of minced fresh herbs. Simple, aromatic, and very green.

I developed this recipe for the Idaho® Potato Commission, which is always looking for creative new twists on mashed potatoes. Thanksgiving dinner can be rich and heavy, but the grassy scent and taste of the mixed herbs in these mashed potatoes cuts right through the richness. I like Idaho Russet potatoes - their dry, fluffy interior soaks up the butter and half-and-half perfectly.

Do you serve mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving? Traditional or twisted? Let's share some mashed potato ideas in the comments below....

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Herbed Idaho® mashed potatoes
Creamy, buttery mashed potatoes mixed with a ton of minced fresh herbs. A perfect side dish for Thanksgiving dinner. Recipe developed for the Idaho® Potato Commission.
  • 3 pounds Idaho® Russet potatoes
  • 1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for serving
  • 4 bunches fresh soft green herbs, e.g. parsley, basil, tarragon, chives, dill
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
Wash and peel the Idaho® Russet potatoes, then cut into 2-inch chunks. Place the potato chunks into a medium-sized pot and cover with water by 1 inch. Add 1 teaspoon salt to the water.Bring the pot to a boil, turn down the heat, and simmer 20-25 minutes, or until the potato chunks are tender when pierced with a small knife or the tines of a fork. Drain the cooked potatoes in a colander, then return them to the hot pot. Shake gently for a minute or two; you will see steam rising as the potatoes dry out.While the potatoes are cooking, wash the fresh herbs and dry them thoroughly in a salad spinner or by wrapping them in paper towels and shaking. Chop the herbs finely, discarding any woody stems. You can chop the herbs by hand with a large knife or in a food processor. You may end up with more than 1 cup of chopped herbs, depending on the size of your bunches; save the rest for another use.When the potatoes are almost done, put the half-and-half and 1 stick butter in a glass bowl or Pyrex measuring cup. Microwave on high power about 1 minute, until the butter is melted and the half-and-half is warm.Add the half-and-half mixture to the pot with the potatoes and mash the cooked potatoes with a potato masher until smooth. Add 1 cup of fresh chopped herbs and stir with a large spoon until incorporated. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper. Serve immediately, adding more butter on top if desired.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 8 servings

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Quinoa zucchini casserole

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For years now I've been making a very simple casserole using leftover cooked rice, shredded zucchini, shredded cheese, green onions, and sometimes a quick bechamel cream sauce as a binder.

If my family liked zucchini more, this is exactly the kind of side dish they'd gobble down - starchy, cheesy, not over-the-top healthy but with a whiff of vegetable. As it happens, they're not zucchini fans. But I love zucchini. So I make this casserole for myself. (And for parties and potlucks.)

Recently I tried using leftover cooked quinoa instead of rice, and I think it's even better. The top layer of the casserole gets crunchier and the whole dish has a finer texture.

I'm swimming in quinoa these days thanks to my friends at Alter Eco Foods. They chose my recipe for salmon quinoa cakes with dill-caper sauce as a semi-finalist in their recent recipe contest, and now I'm getting quinoa care packages once a month for a year. Rice, take a rest. It's quinoa time!

What's your favorite way to eat quinoa? Leave a comment below with a link to your favorite quinoa recipe.

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Quinoa zucchini casserole
A simple side dish casserole with cooked quinoa, shredded zucchini, cheese, and green onions, all bound together in a light cream sauce. Serve as a vegetarian main course or as a side with grilled chicken or fish.
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa (measure after cooking; prepare according to package directions)
  • 1 pound zucchini, grated (2 large or 5 small)
  • 1 1/2 cups grated cheese (mozzarella, Monterey jack, gruyere, cheddar, etc.)
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a medium-sized casserole dish with cooking spray.Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the flour and stir 1 minute to make a paste. Add the milk, whisking constantly, and bring to a simmer. The mixture will thicken as it heats up. Remove it from the heat, season with salt and pepper, and set it aside to cool a bit.In a large bowl, mix together the quinoa, zucchini, grated cheese and green onions. Add the cream sauce and stir to combine. Turn the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Bake the casserole for about 45 minutes; the edges should be bubbling and the top golden brown. Serve hot.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 8 servings