Friday, June 20, 2014

Summer Farro Salad

      The winds have changed. This happens in life. I quit my job last fall. Just did it. For a lot of reasons. And nothing could have been better or more healing, more of a resurrection from a dark place. I also got married one month ago. This precious marriage feels tender and novel---I absolutely cannot wrap my head around it and all the goodness and challenge and vulnerability and beauty it is. Also, this week I started delivering resumes, nervously deep-breathing in my car, mustering up gumption to walk through doors and toot my horn to managers I don't know. There are lots of winds blowing around here. Good winds, but adjustments nonetheless (Can I say that every time I mention winds I think of the sailors on the rooftop ship in Mary Poppins? Storms' a brewin' off the port bow! Talk about a great movie.)
      I've thought a lot lately about how much we speak about this-and-that transition we're going through, this change we're enduring. I find myself often mentioning my readiness for a new "normal." But I'm coming, more and more, to find that perhaps we don't so much get normal. I think that once it begins to feel that way, the winds blow again. Can we not just get settled? Can I not master this season for a bit and feel a little better about myself and my grip on life? I need a break! But, I think we just have to laugh and cry a lot over this and embrace that life is hard and we need help. We are weak, weak, weak, and so easily blown about by these winds. How can we possibly withstand? And then I think about penguins* and the way the strong (amazingly) form tight lines to guard the weak from harsh winds. And I think about a friend who recently proclaimed, "Together we can do hard things!" And I take a deep breath and acknowledge that, alone, we will be blown away...but, together, we gain strength. I'm encouraged by this today. I hope you are, too. You're not alone! We're not alone in this!
      The winds have changed in my kitchen (I promise that's the last time I'll use this analogy). If you've at all followed or scanned this blog, you'll notice a predominance of sweets and sides. Before marriage I was a contented snacky-meal girl. A scrambled egg, bowl of cereal, and spoonful of peanut butter, for example, stood as an excellent dinner. This does not go over so well when you have a husband who seriously enjoys a full, well-rounded, hot meal. Darn it. So, I'm using this reality as fuel for the blog. My charge: Post about what I'm cooking for dinner! This is new territory for me. I'm much more comfortable with cupcakes. But, we're doing this. At whatever frequency feels right. I hope you are helped as I share my findings. 
      For today, I have a salad to share (I'm obviously easing my way in here). This I'm calling "Summer Farro Salad." I had some leftover veggies from one dinner this week, and some farro (a grain new to me that I'm loving--found maybe at an organic foods store, maybe Kroger?) from another. I tossed them together with some feta and lime juice for lunch today and loved every bite of varied texture and flavor. Perfect as a summer lunch or a side on a dinner plate. I love when you stumble across something like this. Try it out, maybe with a little avocado on top? Enjoy. And, happy summer!

serves 4 appetizer/side portions

2 cups cooked farro
1 bell pepper (yellow or orange recommended), chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
10 basil leaves, julienned
a big handful of edamame
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1/4-1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese (per your preference)
juice of 1/2 a lime
salt and pepper, to taste
a drizzle of olive oil

Mix ingredients together and enjoy.

*You may poke fun at my penguin reference as my husband did. But they are amazing creatures. Go look up a documentary. I'm inspired. 

Monday, January 27, 2014

Cakey Vegan Brownies

     I am not vegan. And, for love of eggs and cheese and ice cream, have little to no interest in being so. However, this treat woos me in ways I'd ne'er have expected. A new friend of mine, Melissa, introduced me to these brownies a couple weeks back and I was instantly enamored. Cakey brownies have not once had my appreciation, as I much prefer an absurdly dense, bordering truffle-rich brownie. This combo, however, the coffee + milk + cocoa + more chocolate on top (yes.) makes it happen. I can't resist. I will remark that a couple friends said they'd just as soon call it a cake. Well, you can be the judge; Although, as I think on it, the debate might be resolved by baking these in a larger pan lending to a stronger resemblance to traditional brownies. (Feel free to give it a whirl, but cut the bake time back a few minutes, to be safe.) Whatever the case, these are addictingly tasty, simple to bake (if you don't accidentally double the baking soda on your first try…story for another time.), rich enough to satisfy even my lofty chocolatey demands, and fabulous for a crowd. You can't lose. I recommend savoring with coffee and/or the ice cream of your delight (my present obsession: Talenti Gelato. aghh…). 


modified from Rebar Modern Food cookbook
serves 12


1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup coffee
3/4 cup almond milk 
(soy or cow's milk is fine, as well)
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped, optional
1/2 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 325 F. Grease a 9x9" pan and line with parchment paper.
2. In large bowl, sift flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda and powder, and salt.
3. In separate medium bowl, combine coffee, milk, and oil. 
4. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir with spatula until just combined, adding walnuts at the end. Pour batter into prepared pan and sprinkle chocolate chips on on top. 
5. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean from the center. Cool on rack and enjoy!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Tzatziki Sauce

   Every Sunday night I meet with a sweet group of friends from church and we eat and share together. Each week our cuisine changes; This week was "Greek" week which means tzatziki. I love, love this sauce. It's a yogurt-based, tangy, fresh, herby, healthy accompaniment, particularly to chicken and salads. I almost bought the pre-prepared Trader Joe's version but ended up making my own and am so glad I did. It's super yummy and so easy.

   Tonight we had grilled chicken/bell peppers/onions with rice, tomatoes, lettuce, and hummus in pita wraps, topped with healthy dollops of tzatziki. Ugh, it's wonderful. I have leftovers I'll probably put on a Greek salad to serve as the dressing. It's versatile, light, and refreshing. Give it a try!

serves a dozen+
borrowed from

3 T olive oil
1 T vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced finely
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. white pepper
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 cup sour cream
2 cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and diced
1-2 tsp. chopped fresh dill, to taste

1. In medium bowl, whisk yogurt and sour cream. 
2. Add olive oil, vinegar, salt, pepper and mix until well-combined.
3. Stir in cucumber and chopped dill. 
4. Ideally, let sit overnight in refrigerator to allow flavors to set. (Or, serve immediately and enjoy just as well. We did tonight.)

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Easy, Yummy, Vegan Banana Bread

Hello!!! I've been gone for so, so very long! This poor blog gets no attention from me. And, admittedly, will probably remain slighted, but I do want to post this tasty recipe for a particular friend Julie who is requesting it (and others who most certainly should have this in their repertoire of easy, healthy, and delicious).

This recipe is a conglomeration of several over the years, with numerous personal tweaks. It's been long enough and altered enough that I have no idea where the "original" even came from. My hope was for this bread to end up dairy-free and lower in sugar than most banana breads, while still moist and satisfying. It finally meets the mark! Track down some spotted bananas and enjoy. :)

Of note, my favorite variation is to mix in mini chocolate chips and toasted walnuts--The best. Personal opinion.

(I also apologize that the provided photo gives you almost zero indication of what this bread looks like. Come to think of it, this one was back in my archive and might not even be the same loaf…Hm. Let's just go with it.)

yields one loaf

1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup brown sugar*
1/4 cup agave nectar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 T almond milk
2 T applesauce
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 bananas, overripe and mashed well
1/2 cup toasted walnuts
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
a few shakes of ground cinnamon, optional
turbinado sugar to top, optional but recommended

1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Cut parchment paper to fit across wide ends of 8" loaf pan. Grease over paper and along all sides.
3. In large bowl, combine oil, sugar, nectar, vanilla, milk, and applesauce. Blend well.
4. Add flour, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon. Stir until just combined. 
5. Stir in bananas and mix-ins. 
6. Fill prepared pan, sprinkle generously with turbinado sugar and bake for 35-40 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean in center of bread. 

*I'll try omitting this bit the next go around to see if it's still as tasty without.