Sunday, November 23, 2008

Thanksgiving Meal Marathon Day 5

My all time favorite dinner, lunch, breakfast or appetizer is a frittata. You can make this a hundred ways but here is my favorite. The key is to make sure your veggies are already cooked before you put the eggs in.


½ cup spinach
½ bell pepper, chopped into small pieces
½ small onion
2 slices nitrite and nitrate free bacon or 3 slices natural ham
8 eggs
3 tbls butter or olive oil

Turn on the broiler.

In a medium pan that is safe to go in the oven, heat 1 tbls olive oil. Cook the bacon until just crisp. Drain the fat except for one tablespoon. Cook the onion until translucent. Toss in the bell pepper. Cook until tender. Toss in the spinach until just wilted. Set aside.
In a large bowl, crack the 8 eggs and whisk. Season with a bit of salt and pepper.
Turn the burner onto a med-high heat with the veggies and remaining olive oil. Throw in the eggs.
Gently move the eggs and veggies around with a spatula until the eggs are relatively set. About 1 minute into the process stop touching it and let the bottom get nice and golden.
Put the pan under the broiler. Keep an eye on it – this will take no more than 5 minutes – until golden brown.
Take out – WITH POTHOLDERS, the handles will be HOT- set aside. Loosen the frittata and put on a plate to cool. This is an important step so the eggs don’t overcook.
You can also thinly slice potatoes, roast at 400 for about 30-45 minutes with olive oil and salt and pepper until just tender. Put these in the bottom of the pan along with the veggies and then the eggs.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Thanksgiving Meal Marathon Day 4

This weekend I will be attending a pie workshop taught by my friend, fantastic chef and caterer, Beth Brann. I think Thanksgiving is made complete with pie and I cannot wait to learn how to make her specialties! That being said, I think fantastically cooked fruit dishes have been forgotten as delectable too. This is a good example of one that you can modify however you like.

Baked Apples and Pears with Yogurt and Honey
1 cup dried fruit of your choice, chopped (I like Turkish apricots and raisins or cherries)
3 apples of your choice, peeled, cut in half and cored
3 pears of your choice, peeled, cut in half and cored
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
3/4 cup water
zest of one orange
1 cup plain whole milk yogurt
Local honey

Lay fruit in a pan and top with the pears and apples, cut side down. Sprinkle lightly with the pumpkin pie spice. Pour in water and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for about 20-30 minutes until tender.
Scoop out some dried fruit and a pear or apple, top with a nice dollop of yogurt and a spoon of honey. You can also put some toasted slice almonds or walnuts on top and you will be in heaven!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Thanksgiving Meal Marathon Day 3

This recipe comes from a favorite of mine. It is a book titled 'Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen' by Donna Klein. I spent one year as a vegetarian (an experiment that didn't work out so well for my body) and approximately 10 years without any kind of dairy. I got where I am today with a passion for food and health through food because of these challenges and it gave me hours of experimenting and tried and true ideas to make food that pleased everyone, but didn't get me sick. This is one of those books that I enjoy for just that reason. It has great vegetable dish ideas and anyone, vegan or not, can really appreciate them. It is a nice lesson that we can have warm and memorable holiday meals without the highly processed and bad-fat -high sugar dishes usually prepared.

Provencal Butternut Squash Gratin

1 (3LB) butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed, coarsely chopped (you can do this part the night before)
1 cup packed flat leaf parsley, chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 tsp ground sage
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup vegetable or chicken stock
2 tbls extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly oil a shallow casserole dish about 2.5 QT.
In a large bowl, combine the squash, parsley, and garlic. Sprinkle with the flour, sage, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Toss well to combine. Add the broth and 1 tbls of the oil. Stir well to combine. Transfer to the prepared baking dish and drizzle with the remaining olive oil.
Bake for 50 to 60 minutes. Stir halfway through the cooking time. Bake until the top is nicely browned and the squash is melting and tender.
Serve hot.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Thanksgiving Meal Marathon Day 2

Day 2's recipe comes from my mother in law. The queen of great stews, homemade savory pies and soups. For years I took this original recipe and modified it to be dairy free so I could eat it. I would do this by replacing the ricotta with silken tofu. It works. However, today instead I would thicken it with a rue or arrowroot powder to take out the soy. It imparts a flavor that is not as neutral as I would like with the ricotta, and my soy phase is gone since I have become more educated about it's effects on our body (I can write about that after Thanksgiving).
This pie is great because you can assemble a day or two ahead, and then just bake right before serving. I like it because it is a nicely balanced pie. It's an easy way to get non-veggie people interested too. Enjoy!

Maria’s Spinach Mushroom Pie
1 large (8 oz) finely chopped onion
½ lb mushroom thinly sliced
2 slices nitrate and nitrite free bacon (optional) finely chopped
3 large cloves garlic, minced or pressed
2 Tbls chopped fresh or 1 teaspoon dry tarragon leaves
2 pkgs (10 oz each) frozen chopped spinach thawed and moisture squeezed out or 3 large bunches chopped and cooked down
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 cup soft homemade bread crumbs
2 large eggs
½ cup grated parmesan cheese (tofu parmesan combo cheese)
1/3 cup finely chopped parsley

In a 12 inch fring pan or 4 to 5 qt pan over medium heat, stir onion, mushrooms, bacon (or a little olive oil if no bacon) garlic and tarragon often until liquid evaporates and onion is golden brown. (about 20 minutes)
Remove pan from heat. Crumble spinach and add to pan along with the ricotta, bread crumbs, eggs, parmesan and parsley; beat to mix well.
Pour filling into a 9 inch pie pan or dish
Lay pastry (*) over filling, fold edges under and flush with pan rim.
Bake at 400 degrees F oven on the lowest rack until pastry is well browned and filling is hot in center (40 to 55 minutes)

(*) Cream Cheese Pastry
In a food processor or bowl, combine a 1¼ cups flour, ½ cup butter or margarine in chunks, and 1/3 cup (3 oz) Neufchatel (light) cream cheese. Whirl or rub with fingers until coarse crumbs form. Ad 1 large egg; whirl or stir with a fork until dough holds together. Pat into a ball. If made ahead, chill airtight up to 3 days. Roll out into a 10 inch diameter round. It good to make dough ahead and chill- easier to roll out.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Thanksgiving Meal Marathon Begins!

By far, my most favorite holiday is Thanksgiving. In our family, I always do it at my house. Everyone loves my cooking and I love to cook, so despite our smaller space, it is a perfect combination. This is the first year I have the blog during Thanksgiving and at the same time I was featured in this months Coast Views magazine and promised some fantastic recipes! So what better way to celebrate than with a marathon from now until Thanksgiving with side dish and appetizer recipes. Yummy!

Here is the first one where you can replace your canned sweet potatoes and marshmallows with this delicious and warming sweet potato dish.

Baked Sweet Potatoes with Ginger and Honey
3 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/2 cup honey
3 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
2 tablespoons walnut oil
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
In a large bowl, toss together the sweet potatoes, honey, ginger, walnut oil, cardamom, and pepper.
Transfer to a large cast iron frying pan.
Bake for 20 minutes in the preheated oven.
Stir the potatoes to expose the pieces from the bottom of the pan.
Bake for another 20 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are tender and caramelized on the outside.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Featured Article - Coast Views Magazine

I wanted to announce that I was featured in our local Coast Views magazine this month!

Check out the article here:

Check back this week for the recipes mentioned in the article - they will be tasty and fantastic!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Giving in Times of Difficulty

I wanted to write this sooner, but here I am, barely in front of the food drives probably asking you for donations already. I wanted to post about it sooner because every year I donate and then volunteer at the food bank in our county (sorting food, packaging up, etc) and every year I do it around this time of year. That is good and giving to your community in any way is essential - remember it takes a village to raise a family. But what they remind us of each time is that people need to eat year round!
Right now is tough with the economy the way it is. And I am not here to whine about that. I have a degree in economics and fortunately that made me pretty comfortable with market fluctuations a long time ago. That is not what this is about. Instead, recognize that it is not easy for anyone, and reach out. A little goes a long way. Truly.
And in your own home, consider whole foods and whole meals. Just because the economy is taking a dive doesn't mean you should only eat ramen noodles and toast. It is the perfect time to be mindful about your eating and bring more of it to your home, eat locally and seasonally. Because as I talk a lot about on this blog, that is not just the healthiest way to do it, but it is also the most cost effective way to do it!

If you live in the Bay Area and are interested in donating or volunteering, you can find more details here: