Wednesday, March 21

Artichoke and Olive Tapenade

If I were to tell you that I haven't made this tapenade 4-5 times this year that would be a lie. Sort of like if I told you I didn't make soft pretzels again this weekend. Sort of like if I told you I wasn't dreaming about eating this dish for the 100th time for dinner tomorrow and that I didn't eat stir fry with this sauce again! for dinner tonight. 

Some things are just keepers. The foods you go back to again and again until you have the recipe memorized and you make it even more because, well, now it's just natural. 

I could make pancakes in my sleep at this point (which honestly, would be a good time saving skill on those weekends when I just want to sleep in). AND PUT OLIVES IN THEM. Macaroni and cheese? I literally can make it myself faster than I could do it from a box.

So why do I continue to make this tapenade whenever I need to contribute an appetizer? Obviously it's delicious. But it's super easy too. I'm really not kidding... it's delicious. And it's easy. Are we on the same page?

It's also green, so it was appropriately adorable for Christmas Eve and St Patrick's day. How convenient!

I've made it again and again because olives rule. Artichokes also rule. And capers, well, really just kinda rule. Mix them all together and what do you get (besides a tapenade of course)? A delicious and nutritious party in your mouth.

Oh, and it pairs well with smoked mozzarella. Bonus. Points.

Artichoke and Olive Tapenade 
Adapted from Mario Batali, via Smitten Kitchen

1 garlic clove, peeled and smashed
1 c large green pitted olives
1 tbsp capers, rinsed and drained
1 15 oz can of artichoke hearts, drained
 2 tbsp EVOO
crostini, or a whole wheat baguette sliced and toasted

Combine the garlic clove, olives, capers and artichoke hearts in the bowl of a food processor. Process until the mixture reaches a coarse paste-like consistency. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then with the processor still running slowly add the olive oil to the bowl.

Serve with crostini or toasts.

Ya feelin' me on that whole... this is easy thing?

Not food, but notably cute.

Wednesday, March 14

Sweet Potato & Curry Shepherd's Pie

Today was Pi day and, in case you live in a cave, that means one very important thing. You better be sure to eat some pie. If you didn't today because you didn't know, relax. It's not like you broke a mirror, but now that you know you have to keep up the tradition. Next year, you must eat pie.

My broiler's kinda wimpy, eh?
I mean... it's not like it's not the best tradition ever...

This year, being that we seem to be about a week's worth of temperature rise from bathing suit season, I decided to go a more savory route and skip the dessert. (That's not really why... but omg I had to mention the weather!! SO GLORIOUS!) 

Shepherd's pie was one of my favorite foods growing up. OR maybe I really hated it. Honestly, I think I really hated it. But I have a strong association with the traditional meat, mashed potatoes, and carrot dish and my childhood and I look at it very fondly now.

I tried to add as much nutrition as possible, subbing out some of the less beneficial elements with some tasty vitamin packed substitutions. I'm really not a huge meat and potatoes girl; I'd rather eat sweets any day anyway. I left the ground beef alone, because I don't have a problem with red meat on a nutritional level (that doesn't mean I'm going to start eating steak anytime soon, because... yuck), but it could certainly be subbed out with turkey if you want. And honestly, who really likes peas anyway?

Also, If you have a Whole Foods near you, we ate this with their bakery quinoa & flax bread. It has a touch of cardamom and went really well with the curry flavor!

Also, I will add a special thanks to my Grandmother, for pointing out that Sherpherd is NOT spelled "Shepard" and actually... that makes more sense anyway. HA!

Sweet Potato & Curry Shepherd's Pie
Adapted from Good Housekeeping
Serves 3-4

3 small to medium sweet potatoes
1/2 tbsp EVOO, divided
1 lb ground beef (I used 90/10)
1 tsp salt
 1 tbsp ap flour
1/2 tbsp hot curry powder
1/2 c chicken broth

1 c green beans, cut into ~1" pieces
1 1/2 lbs carrots, peeled and chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 tbsp grated ginger

1/4 c milk

Pierce potatoes with fork, place in the microwave on a paper towel and cook for 6 minutes on each side.

Meanwhile, heat beef in a large sautee pan over medium heat. Sprinkle with 1/4 tsp salt and cook 5 to 6 minutes, breaking the meat up and stirring frequently. Add flour and curry powder into beef and cook for another minute while stirring. 

Add broth and bring to a boil. Cook until the broth thickens slightly (about 1 minute). Remove beef from the pan and into a greased 1.5 quart baking dish.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 

Rinse skillet and dry. Return to burner and heat 1/2 tablespoon oil over medium until hot. Add carrots, green beans and onion, and cook, covered, about 6-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Mix in ginger and 1/4 tsp salt. The, remove from the pan to the baking dish.

While vegetables are cooking, if the potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut potatoes in half and scoop flesh from skins into large bowl. (Be careful because the potatoes will feel cool but when split will release steam!) Mash the potatoes with a fork or potato masher, then stir in milk and 1/2 tsp salt. Spread the potatoes over vegetables.

Bake the pie 30 minutes, then move to broiler for 5 minutes. Allow to rest for 3-4 minutes, then serve hot.

animated gif maker
PS! check out these disappearing green beans!

Sunday, March 11

Rhubarb & Coconut Almond Muffins

There is something so soothing about listening to British sports. 

I didn't actually put the game on, but I didn't change the channel when Adam passed out on the couch either. So, right now I'm sitting in my living room listening to a British soccer "match" ... alone. I could, and should for the sake being a normal individual, change it because I really couldn't give a shit about the action... but oooh.. the accents...

So I'm sitting here writing about muffins, while listening to British men blah blah blah. Or I guess bloah bloah bloah in this case. (That was me being a Brit, in case that wasn't obvious.)

It rules. Try it out.

Any way! These muffins, man! These muffins! I've made them a few times now, different variations, but always keeping certain essential elements involved. That recipe is what you will see below minus the rhubarb. I've dabbled by mixing in craisins or rhubarb - the rhubarb being my favorite add in - and making them without either. I liked the little bit of tart that it added, but the coconut shines a lot more without. You could totally leave out the rhubarb and just have a delicious coconut almond flavor.

Also, I've really been feeling muffins lately. If coconut isn't your thing here are some oldies, but goodies from this blog:

Dried Apricot Gingerbread Muffins
Rosemary Cardamom Pumpkin Muffins
Raspberry Sweet Potato Muffins


Rhubarb & Coconut Almond Muffins
Yield: 24 muffins

1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 3/4 c ap flour
1 stick (8 tbsp) butter, room temperature

1 1/2 c sugar
4 eggs
1 1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 c greek yogurt
3/4 c shredded coconut, plus more for topping

2 stalks rhubarb, diced

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line 2 muffin tins with paper liners and spray the bottoms with cooking spray.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In another bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy using an electric mixer. Beat in the eggs. Add both extracts and the yogurt and beat until combined.

Set aside the mixer and use a spatula to stir in the dry ingredients. Stir until just combined; do not over-stir. The batter will seem thick and more dough-like than is typical for a muffin or cake batter. Add in the coconut and rhubarb and stir until just combined.

Scoop the batter into the muffin cups, filling about 2/3 of the way. Top the muffins with a bit of shredded coconut and bake for 20 mins. Remove from pan and cool on a rack until completely cooled.

Monday, March 5

Crystallized Ginger & Chocolate Cookies

It's crazy how much longer weekends seem when you wake up earlier. I mean, ok it's not that crazy. Actually it makes sense.. but I'm really digging it. 

This Saturday, I had 5 loads of laundry done by 1 PM. Yea, 5!!! And I put them away too which, and I believe I have mentioned this before, usually takes me right around 3 days.

Then, I ate hummus and lounged. I walked around in my hood. I made cookies. I ate cookies. I gave myself a sweet mani. And topped it all off with some dancing.

Sunday, I gymed. I made a smoothie. Ate more hummus....and cookies (so much for all those calories burned..) And now I've been lounging for about 4 hours. It feels damn good. 

Free time is a beautiful thing and I rarely really do nothing (who does, really?). Just soaking it in... until of course I get cabin fever...


Crystallized Ginger & Chocolate Cookies
Adapted from Betty Crocker
Yield about 3 1/2 dozen cookies (realistically)

3/4 c. brown sugar
3/4 c. sugar
1 c. butter, softened (just below* room temp for the perfect soft & gooey cookies)
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/4 c. flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 bag (12 oz) dark chocolate mini chunks (or dark chocolate chips)
1 c coarsely chopped crystallized ginger
1/2 c coarsely chopped pecans (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream together the sugars and butter until just combined. Add egg and vanilla and continue to beat on medium speed until combined. 

Using a large spoon, stir in flour, baking soda and salt until a thick dough forms. Add in chocolate, ginger and nuts (if using). 

Drop rounded tablespoonfuls of dough onto ungreased cookie sheets, placing them about 2 inches apart. Bake for 10 minutes, or until cookies begin to brown on the edges, but are still soft in the center. (They will appear undone, but that is perfect. Stop there.) Cool on the cookie sheet for ~5 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.

*Update: originally I had written above, but that was just my brain not working correctly. What I meant was slightly cooler than...

Friday, March 2

Shrimp over Rotini with Capers and Raisins

 Seriously now. What's better than a 50 best animal photos list? Nothing. Wow. Cute.

Ok probably... The Indobox playing an all LCD Soundsystem set, that sounds.... awesome.

Ok maybeeee shrimp. With pasta. Add raisins and capers. Green beans. Salty, slightly acidic, yet smooth, sweet, and delicious.

Omg. What if you had all three?

You're welcome. I love you. 

 Soundtrack: The Indobox covers LCD Soundsystem.. and it rocks.

Shrimp over Rotini with Capers and Raisins
Serves 3-4

1 tbsp EVOO
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp capers
1/4 c raisins
1 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
1 c white wine
splash of chicken stock
1 c green beans, cut into 1 inch pieces
~20 peeled and deveined shrimp
black pepper
pecorino romano, grated
Rotini pasta, cooked according to package instructions

Heat EVOO over medium heat in a large saute pan. Add garlic and saute for about 1 minute. Add capers and raisins and cook for 1 more minute. Add vinegar, white wine, and a splash of stock. Bring sauce to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add green beans, cover the pan and continue to simmer the sauce for another 5 minutes.

Add shrimp and cook until pink and curled, stirring to cook on all sides about 5-7 minutes. Season with pepper and sprinkle pecorino cheese over the entire dish. Stir. Serve warm over pasta.