thai lettuce wraps

Sometimes it seems like I only eat well on weekends. Weekdays can be draining with the whole working, commuting, waking up thing. It shouldn’t be like this. We should eat well always.

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So it was Tuesday. I was craving take out. Mostly because the idea of being off the couch for long enough to put something vaguely resembling a meal together in the kitchen seemed daunting. But I knew I had gone a little buck wild at Whole Foods and needed to eat some of the lovely produce I had purchased, so the only solution was to turn them into a take-out-esque meal to satisfy the take out cravings.

Behold Thai chicken lettuce wraps. They are sneakily convenient, most of what I needed I had in the house. With more vegetables these could have easily been vegetarian. They would happily take some shrimp in place of chicken, and if I could handle spicy foods I would definitely have added some chili flakes to the sauce. Alas, my taste buds are wimpier than my stomach for those sorts of things.

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And poof, the cry for take out was silenced.

thai lettuce wraps
serves 4

For the wraps
6 boneless skinless chicken thighs, diced
1 cup broccoli, chopped
2 carrots, diced
2 leeks, diced
1 cup dry roasted unsalted peanuts, finely chopped
1 head of iceberg or butter lettuce

For the slaw
1 cup pre-shredded slaw mix (or just red or green cabbage)
1 tbs red wine vinegar
½ tsp sesame oil
salt and pepper to taste

For the sauce
1 ½ tbs creamy peanut butter
2 tbs terryaki sauce
1 tsp seasame seeds
1 tsp brown sugar

  1. Whisk together all the sauce ingredients. Set aside. Combine all slaw ingredients and toss to combine. Set aside.
  2. Trim excess fat off the chicken thighs and dice into small pieces. Cut the vegetables into similar sized pieces.
  3. Heat two tablespoons of canola oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Add the chicken, stirring occasionally to brown on all sides (about 7 minutes).
  4. Turn heat down slightly and add in the vegetables stirring occasionally, cook until softened. Remove the pan from the heat and add the sauce coating everything. Chop peanuts and stir them in as the final touch.
  5. Carefully remove leaves from the head of lettuce to form little cups for the filling. (Some will rip, it’s inevitable. Don’t panic, that’s why they are wraps.) Add filling and slaw to each individual cup for eating.

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thai lettuce wraps

kitchen sink blueberry banana bran muffins

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As a huge fan of pastries and breakfast in general, I realized that recently I have been straight up neglecting a former favorite morning food companion of mine: the humble muffin.  As soon as I came upon this realization, I began immediately craving muffins.

However, due to the aforementioned need to reel it in diet-wise post 2014, I decided to try my hand at making them myself to monitor their contents.  I dreamed up these muffins using buzzword healthy ingredients like “oat bran” and “whole wheat flour”. Though admittedly I am not a baker by nature I think these are pretty great.  They have ripe mashed banana that keeps them moist, nuts and coconut for a crunchy and chewy texture situation, and blueberries because all muffins should have blueberries.

These are an all the time dream treat.  They are perfect as a grab and go breakfast, a midday snack, or even as dessert with a cup of tea.  They have minimal sugar and though the ingredient list looks long (hence the kitchen sink moniker) it is likely that most of this stuff is hiding somewhere in your house already. If not, it’s worth investing. You’re going to want more than one batch of these.

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kitchen sink blueberry banana bran muffins
Yield: 18 muffins

1cup whole-wheat flour, plus 1 tablespoon set aside
½ cup oat bran
1/3 cup unsweetened coconut shreds
½ cup rolled oats, plus extra for sprinkling over tops
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
½ tsp cinnamon
1 cup mashed ripe banana
¼ cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 cup milk
½ tsp vanilla
1 ½ cups blueberries
½ cup chopped pecans

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In a large bowl combine 1 cup of the flour, the oat bran, coconut, oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the sugar and oil.  Add in the banana, milk, eggs, and vanilla, and combine until smooth.  Add the dry ingredients into the wet mixture slowly and mix together until just combined (it’s fine to have a few lumps).
  3. Wash and thoroughly dry the blueberries.  Toss them and the pecans in the extra tablespoon of flour until coated (this helps them not sink in the batter).  Fold them into the batter without over mixing.
  4. Fill a cupcake tin with liners and using an icecream scoop fill each tin.  Sprinkle the additional oats atop each muffin and press them in gently.
  5. Bake for 22 minutes.  If a toothpick comes out clean, remove them. Otherwise, let them cook an additional 3 minutes. Let cool completely, and serve.
kitchen sink blueberry banana bran muffins

the veggie bowl

IMG_5710Oh January. You saucy minx.

Just as the post-holiday blues hit and we all vow to eat nothing but vegetables until eternity, you swoop in with biting cold temperatures that produce cravings of warm, cheesey, carby things.

This little number is the perfect crossover between what your heart is telling you you want and what your brain is in the background mentioning might be the healthy choice.  Finding the middle ground of these forces is the only way to live.   In my experience, if you fall too far down the treat rabbit hole you will just find as much discomfort as you might in a hunger-induced juice cleanse haze.

Whatever the month, you should always get to eat delicious things.  Start strong in January.  Eat your veggies and keep your cheesy goodness too.

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the veggie bowl
serves 2

This is similar to a previously semi-indulgent farro bowl, with some seasonal changes. You can add more veggies than the ones here (they are just what happened to be available in my fridge). Sub in different greens like kale or chard; broccoli would be a wonderful addition, as would asparagus. If you like things spicy add some red pepper flakes when you cook the vegetables.  You could also throw in some chicken or even steak for extra protein. GO CRAZY.  And I suppose you could exclude the cheese, but I wouldn’t.

1 cup farro
2 tsp chives, chopped
1 tbs seasame seeds
4 cups fresh spinach, roughly chopped
1 cup mushrooms, sliced thinly
1/2 cup yellow onion, diced
2 eggs
1/2 cup shredded cheese (of your preference, I recommend a cheddar jack or parmesan)
salt and pepper to taste

1. Cook the farro, mix in the chives, and set aside.
2. In a large skillet cook the vegetables over medium high heat.  Start with the onion (as it takes the longest to get tender), cook for 2 minutes then add mushrooms.  Stir occasionally and season as you go.  When the mushrooms begin to brown and the onion is translucent, add in the spinach and sesame seeds and reduce heat to low. Cook until spinach wilts and remove from heat.
3. While the vegetables are cooking, bring a large pot of water to a boil. When the water is just at a rolling boil, add the eggs in their shells and let them cook for 6 minutes. Pull them out and run them under cold water until cool enough to handle. Peel them and cut them in half.
4. Add the vegetables and cheese to the farro and chives, and stir together.  Season with salt and pepper, drizzle with olive oil if desired, and give each bowl an egg.

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the veggie bowl

farmers’ market fagioli

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So the weather is changing.  The trees are even mid color shift, and I had no idea until it was suddenly cold enough to crave soup for dinner.

Since the farmers’ markets are still open and there are plenty of amazing things available — like fresh cranberry beans and leeks and heirloom tomatoes — it stands to reason that if there is to be soup, it should be made with fresh goods.

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This seasonal take on Pasta e Fagioli is hearty like a good pasta dish and light like healing consommés of yore.  It is warming and  satisfying and everything you need for those first few cool nights of fall.

Pasta e Fagioli 

Serves 8

8 large tomatoes, peeled and diced
6 tablespoons olive oil
2 large leeks, diced
2 medium carrots, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
2 cups fresh borlotti (cranberry) beans, shelled
3 garlic cloves, diced fine
2 cups small pasta such as ditalini
3 cups chicken stock
2 cups water
1 cup fresh spinach, chopped
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 ½ cups parmesan cheese, grated
salt and pepper to taste

  1. To peel the tomatoes, slice each in half crosswise and place flesh side down on a baking sheet.  Set oven broiler on high, and let tomatoes roast for 8-10 minutes.  Remove and let cool 2 minutes.  Peel away skins, remove cores, and dice.
  2. In a large stockpot over medium heat olive oil.  Add leeks, carrots, celery, oregano, salt and pepper to taste, and cook until soft; stirring occasionally. Add garlic and cook 2 additional minutes.
  3. Add chicken stock, water, bay leaf, and beans. Cook 25 minutes, covered.
  4. Turn heat down to low.  Add pasta and tomatoes (and more salt if needed) and cook additional 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Remove bay leaf and add in spinach.  Serve immediately topped with fresh grated parmesan cheese.

PS: don’t be afraid to throw some cooked bacon or pancetta into the mix here…it can add another layer of flavor (and let’s be serious, bacon always plays.)

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farmers’ market fagioli

cheesy farro with corn and tomato

Sometimes I get over excited at farmers’ markets.  Everything is in season! Everything is beautiful! I love vegetables!

IMG_4953This enthusiasm often leads to my kitchen overflowing with an abundance of produce, and often me staring at it wondering how I plan to eat it all.  This week, I wound up with a serious amount of cherry tomatoes and some sweet local corn.

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This simple side dish (slash vegetarian entrée) barely cooks the vegetables, and combines them with hearty farro to stick to your ribs. There is also cheese, because obviously.

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So if you too tend to overindulge at the sight of vibrantly colored vegetables…give this a try.  Heck, throw in some zucchini.  Add in some bell peppers. GO CRAZY.

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Cheesy farro with corn & tomatoes 

1 cup farro
1/2 a yellow onion, diced
pint of cherry tomatoes, halved
2 ears of corn, kernels removed from cob
1/2 shredded cheese (variety of your choice, I went for a nice monterey jack blend)
Salt & Pepper to taste

1. cook faro. 1 cup farro to 2 cups water, bring to a boil for 12 minutes, and drain.  Reserve 2 tbs cooking water.

2. sauté onions over medium heat in with olive oil. Once translucent, add in corn, tomatoes, cooked farro, and reserved cooking liquid. Lower to a simmer.

3. stir in cheese until it’s good and melted.

4. add salt & pepper to taste. consume.

This is great alongside grilled chicken or swordfish, but definitely holds up on its own.

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cheesy farro with corn and tomato

market season

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The frizz inducing heat has come back to New England…which means…the farmers’ markets are back too! And they’ve got all kinds of pretty produce that looks good enough to eat.

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never was there a more colorful array of carrots and radishes.

My favorite thing about walking through the farmers’ markets is chatting with the people running the stands.  They are always able to make suggestions about how to use irresistibly unique ingredients I’ve never cooked with before, and most often to help me decide what to buy (decision making is not a forté of mine). Being able to talk with people who have grown the food you are eating is such a treat.

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hello, gorgeous.

So far this season I’ve become acquainted with ramps, radishes, and rhubarb; among other things. But I’ve also been drawn to the beautiful standards like strawberries that are just coming into season, and lovely heads of lettuce that have the power to make me actually crave salads.

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This year, The Boston Public Market has finally come to be.   This year-round market for local purveyors and goodies is what has been missing from this city for too long.  I am hoping that as it grows it evolves into something resembling my favorite market in all the lands: Borough Market, in London. A description won’t do it justice, so I will just provide some visual proof of its splendor. If you find yourself across the pond, it is a must.

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this is CHEESE. and not just any cheese. the prince of cheeses…comte.
this is CHEESE. and not just any cheese. the prince of cheeses…comté.

So go to the closest market and chat it up with the locals. Try new greens! Splurge on gourmet pastries! And appreciate how absolutely delicious produce can be when it’s eaten in season.

 

 

market season

micro salad

This salad is micro both for its petit size, and its use of micro greens. However, the real secret gem ingredient is sugar snap pea tendrils. They are tendrils…that taste like sugar snap peas.

the most petit lunch
the most petit lunch

They are these beautiful green curlicues that grow along with the leaves and pea pods.  In season now, they are irresistibly playful, and tasty too.  It is the perfect touch of sweetness in this baby salad.

 

pea tendrilling
pea tendrilling

You could absolutely beef this up with some other lettuces, or perhaps the addition of some seasonal fruit, but just as it is it perfectly suits a midday appetite (particularly on the weekends when you’ve had a massive breakfast and know you’re eating an early dinner but still can’t ignore the afternoon hungries).

Don’t be intimidated by its simplicity, it just wants no muss or fuss.  But not surprisingly, it does want a side crouton.  Sorry I’m not sorry.

CLOSE UP
CLOSE UP

1 bunch pea tendrils

1 box micro arugula greens

¼ cup chives, chopped

½ cup slivered almonds, toasted

goat cheese

1 demi baguette, sliced & toasted

balsamic vinegar

sea salt & pepper to taste

  • Slice baguette, toast for 5 minutes or until just browning on the edges in a 350 degree oven.
  • Slice chives, combine with other greens in a large bowl.
  • Over medium high heat, toast almonds. They are done when they become fragrant and just begin to brown, it should take about 5 minutes. Move them around in the pan periodically so one side doesn’t burn. Remove from heat and let cool for 2 minutes.
  • Spread goat cheese on the toasts. Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper.
  • Add almonds to the greens, and sprinkle with sea salt and pepper.  Sprinkle everything with balsamic vinegar to your preference.  And might I suggest just putting the salad right on top of your toasts for eating.
salad. on toast.
salad. on toast.
micro salad