Monthly Archives: April 2014

Mango and Black Bean Salsa

mango and black bean salsa blog

Need a little something to serve alongside all those margaritas at your Cinco de Mayo celebration? (I mean, you need something to help absorb the tequila, right?) How about something that welcomes the warmth of spring and summer and all things fresh and vibrant?

This fruit salsa is just the thing. It’s perfectly delicious served with tortilla chips, but even better atop grilled chicken or pork. We enjoyed it on top of some broiled tilapia. Truth be told, tilapia isn’t my favorite (I’d forgotten this, but now I am once again reminded), but the salsa is quickly becoming so. I could eat it all by itself, with a spoon. It has all the delicious flavors – sweet mango, spicy jalapeno, fresh cilantro, sour lime, the “meaty” black beans, and enough salt just to make everything really sing. What more could you need?

Oh, that’s right. A margarita. Well, grab a margarita (Hmm, speaking of, maybe I should post some margarita recipes? Let’s see a show of hands – who wants margaritas??) and get to making some of this stuff, and you’re set to celebrate.

Print Recipe

Mango and Black Bean Salsa (gluten-free, vegan)

1 large ripe mango, diced

1 c canned black beans, drained and rinsed

2-3 green onions, sliced thinly

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 jalapeno, seeded and diced

1/4 c chopped fresh cilantro

Juice of 1/2 lime

Salt to taste

Mix all ingredients in a medium-sized bowl and season to taste with salt. Chill until ready to serve. Keeps for a day or two (if you can stay out of it that long!).

Makes about 3 cups.

 

Black-Eyed Peas with Kale

blackeyed peas with kale blog

Every summer, the farmer’s market is full of fresh, local, Southern favorites – black-eyed peas, cream peas, purple hull peas, and fresh pinto beans. Sure, you can buy some of these varieties dried at the grocery any time of year, but getting them fresh is like no other. They cook more quickly, of course (no soaking needed!), but personally, I think their flavor and texture is divine.

Of course, I tend to overbuy (as I do with many things at the farmer’s market) and so often, I’ll freeze shelled peas. They keep perfectly that way, and I can cook them whenever I choose, and they taste as fresh as if they were just shelled. I’m working to empty any remaining fruits and veggies from last year’s harvest from our freezer, and spotted a bag of black-eyed peas. I was delighted, and so set off to making a pot.

Typically, black-eyed peas are simmered with a bit of onion, garlic, and a ham hock, salt pork, or bacon to give it some flavor. I’ve even shared a more traditional version before, once upon a time, on this blog. This time around, in addition to these staples (well, I actually used a couple frozen pork ribs I’d smoked a while back instead of a ham hock), I threw in some celery, fresh jalapeno, pureed tomato, and at the last few minutes, tossed in some chopped kale. Why kale? Well, the kale in my garden has just taken off in the past few weeks – it’s even flowering! We are in full “use all the kale!” mode.

kale

kale flowers

The result was more than just a simple side dish – instead was a flavorful dish that was filling enough to be worthy of being a meal.

I served them alongside some fried chicken livers (yes, I adore chicken livers!) and fried quail for a Southern-style treat, but you could also serve them with barbecue, or even on top of a bed of steamed rice for an almost-meatless main. They were particularly good with a few dashes of Slap Ya Mama or Tabasco sauce. As much as I loved my chicken, these peas really stole the show at dinner that night, and I looked forward to eating leftovers for lunch the following day. I’m looking forward to making them again!

Print Recipe

Black-Eyed Peas with Kale (gluten-free, dairy-free)

3 T olive oil or coconut oil (or butter, if you prefer)

1 medium yellow onion, diced

1 large jalapeno, seeded and diced

2 stalks celery, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 lb shelled black-eyed peas (fresh or frozen – can also substitute cream or purple hull peas)

4-5 c chicken stock

1 c pureed tomato (I pureed some canned whole tomatoes – you could also use diced tomatoes or tomato sauce)

1 ham hock, or a couple of smoked pork ribs

2 c chopped fresh kale

Salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Sauté the onion, jalapeno, celery and garlic for 3-4 minutes or until it starts to color a bit. Add the peas, broth, tomato, and ham hock/pork ribs. Add a little salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cover the pot. Allow to simmer for 45 minutes to an hour, checking once or twice during the process to see if additional liquid needs to be added. If so, add a little more stock. Also, towards the end of the cooking time, test a pea for tenderness. Once they are as soft as you like (black-eyed peas tend to maintain their shape well when cooked through), check again for seasoning and adjust as needed. Add in the kale and stir, and allow to simmer for about 5-10 minutes or until the kale has wilted.

Serve with hot sauce, if desired.

Serves 4-6.

 

Radish Salad with Dill Buttermilk Dressing

radish salad blog

Sometimes, the simplest of things can be the most delicious. I remind myself of this often-forgotten fact every spring, when fresh vegetables start appearing in my garden and in the farmer’s markets. Just a few super-fresh ingredients thrown together can make for a delicious dish. Case in point – radishes.

I feel that for me personally, radishes have gone underappreciated for many years. They’ve always been present in a salad, but I’ve more often celebrated other components – cool cucumbers, crisp lettuce, spicy or bitter greens, or a perfectly ripe tomato. But in truth, they provide a crisp, cool crunch, and sometimes, if you’re lucky, a bit of spice. I’ve found that a fresh radish is truly a delight in itself.

And since the bounty of spring is beginning to show here – my garden is just now producing lettuces big enough to pick, as well as a good amount of cilantro, a ton of kale, and even the spinach is looking pretty tasty – I figured it was high time to create a simple spring salad. I gathered some fresh radishes, a little lettuce, and a few colorful carrots from the farmer’s market, and tossed it together.

I wanted to really bring those flavors together with an easy, delicious dressing. I am also growing dill and chives, and so I whisked together a quick buttermilk dressing with these herbs that was reminiscent of a ranch dressing, only fresher. It’s also easily made dairy-free by swapping out the buttermilk for a coconut milk & lemon juice mixture (I’ll show you how below) – something I often did in my dairy-free days.

This salad is an easy way to bring some fresh spring flavors to your meal. It only takes a few minutes to throw together, and its simplicity allows you to really enjoy each component.

radish salad blog 2

Print Recipe

Radish Salad with Dill Buttermilk Dressing (gluten-free, dairy-free/vegan adaptable)

1 small bunch green lettuce (such as Bibb, romaine, or green leaf)

1 bunch radishes

3 small carrots

2-3 T crumbled feta (omit for vegan)

Tear the lettuce into bite-sized pieces and place into a medium bowl. Slice the radishes thin and add to the lettuce. Peel the outside of the carrots, and then peel into ribbons for the salad. Add the feta and toss. Place on plates.

Makes 3-4 side salads.

For the dressing:

1/3 c buttermilk (or 1/4 c coconut milk + 1 T lemon juice, whisked)

3 T mayonnaise (can substitute vegan mayonnaise for vegan)

1 1/2 T chopped fresh dill

1 1/2 T chopped fresh chives

1/2 t kosher salt

1/4 t garlic powder

Whisk together the buttermilk and mayonnaise until smooth. Stir in the dill, chives, salt and garlic powder. Chill until ready to use, up to 4-5 days.

Makes about 1/2 cup dressing.

Asparagus, Kale, and Mushroom Brown Rice “Risotto”

veggie risotto blog

This past weekend was filled with a few more meals eaten out than usual. Meals of the slim-on-vegetables variety. While I enjoyed what I ate, I was ready for lighter fare. I opted to break out my brown rice, and load it up with all the fresh spring vegetables I could find. Which, after my Saturday trip to the farmer’s market, was quite a lot. I’m notorious for buying every pretty thing I see at the market, and then wondering how in the world I will manage to eat it all before it goes bad.

I don’t cook with brown rice all that often. I like it – especially short-grain – but frankly, I often feel like the 40-45 minute cook time is too long. Which is funny, because honestly, making dinner usually takes me at least that long, once you factor in the dishes I am doing beforehand (from our lunches taken to work) and all. If I simply throw the rice on the stove to cook first thing, then tend to the dishes and the rest of the prep for this dish, it honestly doesn’t take any “extra time” at all. Dinner still happened at “normal” time. It was well worth it.

I mean, check out that result. The brown rice is nutty and slightly chewy, and holds up perfectly to this “risotto” style dish. With a ton of vegetables, and just a splash of cream to tie it together, it’s light and flavorful, and fresh, and plenty filling enough to be considered a main dish if you choose. And while it does have some dairy, it’s easily made dairy-free and/or vegan with a few simple swaps.

So go ahead – go gangbusters at the farmer’s market! Throw caution to the wind! Grab all the fresh green veggies that catch your eye. Throw them all together in this risotto, and you’ll be sure they’ll be enjoyed, rather than ending up sad and forgotten in the crisper. You won’t be sorry.

Print Recipe

Asparagus, Kale, and Mushroom Brown Rice “Risotto” (gluten-free, vegan-adaptable)

2 1/4 c stock (chicken or vegetable)

1 c short-grain brown rice

2 T butter or olive oil

4 oz crimini mushrooms, quartered (or cut into eighths if they are large)

1 green onion, minced

1 small head green garlic, minced (can use 2 cloves of regular garlic if you don’t have green garlic)

1 t fresh thyme leaves, chopped

1/2 c white wine

8 oz asparagus spears, cut into 1/2-inch lengths

8 oz frozen peas, thawed

1 c chopped fresh kale (I used Red Russian, but you can use any variety)

Salt and pepper to taste

1 T butter or olive oil

1 T cream (can use almond, soy, or coconut milk for vegan)

2-3 T shaved parmesan (omit for vegan)

1/4 c fresh parsley, chopped

In a medium saucepan, bring the stock to a boil. Add rice and reduce to a simmer. Cover and allow to cook for 40-45 minutes or until cooked through.

Heat a large skillet to medium heat. Add butter/olive and allow to heat for a minute. Add the mushrooms and sauté until tender, stirring occasionally, about 3-4 minutes. Add the green onion, garlic, and thyme leaves and sauté an additional minute or until fragrant. Add the white wine and cook, stirring occasionally, until the wine has evaporated. Add the asparagus, peas, and kale and sauté for a minute or until the asparagus is bright green and heated through.

Add the rice and stir in, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper. Finally, stir in the butter/olive oil and cream. Serve, topped with parmesan and fresh parsley.

Serves 4.

 

Grilled Yellow Summer Squash with Sweet Basil and Feta

grilled yellow squash 2

Last Saturday, in case you missed my flurry of posts about it on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, I had the wonderful opportunity to participate in The Home Depot’s Dallas Garden Party.

It was a great event for people new to gardening, grilling, or just wanting to get some additional tips and tricks to make their garden-to-table experience more successful. Mary Katherine Green of the Gardenieres was there, showing gardeners how to pot fresh herbs and answering all your garden questions.

Cassie Freeman of Hi Sugar Plum was hosting, and talked to all sorts of people, helping them through the party, decorating pots, taking photos, and learning. There were representatives from Southern Living that showed amazing decorating tips (I need them to come to my house and show me a few things!), someone from Fiskars showing some cool garden tools, and an expert helping me (and interested grillers) understand all the details of the Weber grill.

collage garden party

After all, I was using it to teach many happy eaters learn how to grill with their garden vegetables and herbs as they nibbled on samples of Chicken Yakatori, Grilled Carrots, and my recipe I developed just for this event – Grilled Yellow Squash with Basil and Feta.

garden collage

It was a fun event filled with activity, and I had the opportunity to interact with some wonderful people. The caterers that executed the dishes, including mine, were talented and made me look amazing. I was most thankful for them.

An added bonus? I found out last week that I was to be taped in an interview with Jocelyn White of Designing DFW for an upcoming episode to air in May! So before the Garden Party, we talked about my recipe and the event. It’s my first TV experience, and I can’t wait to see it air. It was exciting and a bit nerve-wracking all at once!

I loved developing the recipe for this event. I’ve been more than ready to break out my grill all winter, and have already shared a grilled asparagus dish. And the summer isn’t even here yet, folks! The grill will certainly be earning its keep around here this season. It’s just so simple for me to grill many of our meals. There’s fewer dishes, it’s fast, and the flavor created by grilling is pretty awesome.

Here in the coming months, summer squash and zucchini will be everywhere. Gardens will be overrun. People will be making casseroles and breads galore. This is a simple, fresh, easy way to prepare squash that’s a little different than the norm. A few ingredients are whisked together to make a vinaigrette. The squash is tossed in the dressing, grilled, and then topped with basil and feta. The combination of flavors is an awesome mix of freshness from the basil, that lovely grill factor, a bit of tang from the mustard and lemon, and a salty note from the feta. It’s literally something you can cook in about 5 minutes, but can wow your guests. Even if those guests are just a few hungry teenagers or your spouse.

Print Recipe

Grilled Yellow Summer Squash with Sweet Basil and Feta, created for The Home Depot Garden Party (gluten-free)

 

4 small-to-medium sized yellow summer squash

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

½ teaspoon sugar

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

2 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese

1-2 tablespoons chopped fresh sweet basil

 

Preheat grill for medium-high heat.

To make the dressing, in a large bowl, whisk together the mustard, sugar, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.

Slice the squash lengthwise in half, and then lengthwise in half again. Place the slices of squash in the bowl with the dressing and toss to coat.

Remove squash from the dressing and grill over direct heat for a minute or two on each side or until grill marks appear and until the squash is just tender.

Remove and place on a plate. Drizzle remaining dressing over the squash. Season with additional salt and pepper as necessary, and sprinkle with feta and chopped basil.

Serve immediately.

 

Serves 4.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meyer Lemon Olive Oil Poppyseed Cake

lemon poppyseed cut cake blog

You know those cloudy, dreary, sometimes wet days that come with springtime? The ones that leave you wanting to snuggle on the couch with a blanket all day?

We’ve been having a few of those here lately. I’m thankful – we desperately need the rain – but it doesn’t mean that I don’t wish for sunshine as well. But when the sunshine won’t come from outside, we have to make it ourselves. And what better way than to make something with lemon?

I had a gorgeous large Meyer lemon in my refrigerator, just waiting for the perfect opportunity to become something great. Apparently, it was destined for cake. Not a fancy, extravagant cake, however. This lemon wasn’t destined for a birthday or a holiday. Instead, it was destined for something humble. You can make this cake anytime it feels dreary out and you’d like to brighten someone’s day. It’s an “everyday” cake – the type my grandmother often bake when we would come visit, so we had a special treat to enjoy after lunch. It’s not too sweet, and there’s no fancy frosting or layers. But there is a light lemon flavor, the pop of the poppyseeds, and a tender, moist crumb. It’s also great with an afternoon tea, or even for breakfast.

In my mind, it’s a happy-making cake. And on any spring day, dreary or otherwise, who couldn’t use a little happy?

Print Recipe

Meyer Lemon Olive Oil Poppyseed Cake (gluten-free, dairy-free)

2/3 c sweet white rice flour (I like Mochiko)

2/3 + 2 T c superfine brown rice flour (I like Authentic Foods)

2/3 c tapioca starch

1 T baking powder

1/4 t kosher salt

1 1/2 t unflavored gelatin (I like Great Lakes)

2/3 c milk (dairy or non-dairy variety of your choice)

1/2 c olive oil (any variety)

1 t vanilla extract

3 eggs, room temperature

1 c + 2 T granulated sugar

1 T Meyer lemon zest (from one large or two smaller Meyer lemons)

1/3 c Meyer lemon juice (from one large or two smaller Meyer lemons)

1 1/2 T poppy seeds

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Oil a 9-inch round cake pan and dust with brown rice flour. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, salt, and gelatin.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk, olive oil, vanilla, eggs, sugar, lemon zest and lemon juice until well-blended and a bit frothy.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and whisk until smooth. Add the poppy seeds and whisk again.

Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan. Rap the pan against the counter once or twice to prevent bubbles in the cake. Place on center rack in the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few crumbs clinging to it.

Remove and let cool on a wire rack. Can serve slightly warm.

Makes one 9-inch cake.

Implementing Sustainable Healthy Habits

Disclaimer: I am not a health professional. If you have specific health concerns, you should discuss these with a medical expert. I am merely a person on the internet, talking about things that have worked for me.

Everywhere you turn, you’ll find quick fixes. Things to do to “get healthy quick” or “lose 10 lbs in 10 days!” Often times, these “fixes” include heavily regimented plans that eliminate a dozen foods, encourage a “detox” that involves only a short list of approved foods (or only juices), have you working out hard, day after day after day with no rest, or other sustainable habits.

Turns out, it’s not a quick fix. If you’ve ever been caught up in one of these, you know this truth. There are no quick fixes. Mentally and physically, we aren’t meant to go through such restrictive measures long-term. It’s not sustainable. And for most of us, it backfires. We end these “fixes” by overindulging. There is rarely balance.

But if we implement simple, sustainable habits, we can move towards greater health and well-being without all of the back-and-forth nonsense. How do we do that?

Don’t unnecessarily restrict foods or entire food groups. If you need to eat gluten-free for health reasons, or are allergic to a certain food, by all means, don’t eat those things that harm you. But eliminating all carbs, all sources of sugar, all fats, grains, or other foods groups sets you up for a great deal of stress and unhealthy relationship with foods, not to mention possible metabolic issues. You don’t have to restrict everything that tastes good in order to be healthy. Eat a wide variety of foods, and eat them in moderation.

Move your body. Note: this does not mean join a daily boot-camp, plus run 10 miles each day, plus do powerlifting or CrossFit. It does not mean wearing your body down so much that you cannot move the following day. Yes, elite athletes might do 2-a-days when training for an event. But for the most of us, we are not elite athletes. We’re just trying to juggle a healthy lifestyle along with a full-time job, family, bills, chores and a thousand other things. But if you make it a priority to move your body in a sustainable way most every day, no matter what the movement is, it can become a positive, healthy habit. You can do whatever makes you happy, and whatever fits your level of ability. Take a walk – even if it’s just for 10 minutes. Lift weights. Do pilates or yoga. Ride a bike. Play a sport. Do CrossFit if it really makes you happy. Just don’t do all of these things, all at once, all day long.

Give yourself time to rest. Make sure you allow yourself enough sleep each night. If your body is screaming at you to rest and you’re aching from consecutive days of hard workouts, in spite of the fact that you scheduled yourself for a 10-mile run that morning, heed the suggestions of your body. Take it easy. Taking time out for yourself to heal and rejuvenate is just as important as active time. Besides, enough rest can help you attack the following day with renewed energy and vigor.

Treat yourself. Part of a healthy lifestyle includes having fun. Enjoy some ice cream after dinner. Make cookies with your kids. (Or relax and let Udi’s make you some gluten-free ones!) Schedule a massage. Go out and see a movie with friends or your significant other. Many of us work hard all the time, and allowing treats and fun into our lives is just as important as getting things done. If we’re not here on this Earth to enjoy it, then why are we here?

Ultimately, implementing healthy habits shouldn’t feel like torture, and most of us didn’t become healthy overnight by dramatically changing every facet of our lives. Small, sustainable changes (such as choosing to go for a walk, or trying to eat more vegetables) are far easier and less painful to implement. And they’re much more likely to become a normal part of your everyday life.

Learn more about living gluten free! Visit http://udisglutenfree.com/community

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Udi’s Gluten Free. The opinions and text are all mine.