Za’atar Chicken with Farro, Beets, and Mint

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Za’atar Chicken with Farro, Beets and Mint

This is a great week night meal with lots of flavor and easy to put together.  The farro makes it hearty and healthy and is simple to cook in chicken stock while you are making the chicken and assembling the rest of the dish.  The fresh mint and goat cheese add a lot of flavor and bring it all together. If you have leftover roasted beets, this recipe puts them to good use.  For a really quick cheat, you can use Trader Joe’s cooked beets in the refrigerator section. They are peeled and ready to go. I always have them in the refrigerator and they are a great addition to salad. To make the za’atar spice blend, combine toasted sesame seeds, sumac and thyme and store it in a jar.  Click here for the recipe….

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Overnight Oatmeal with Blueberries, Blackberries, Cherries and Raspberries with Toasted Almonds

Overnight Oatmeal with Blueberries, Blackberries, Cherries and Raspberries with Toasted Almonds

This is the oatmeal mixture before you put it in the fridge

This is my new favorite breakfast ~ overnight oatmeal.  I know it doesn’t look or sound like much, but it is delicious and the berries and the garnish of toasted almonds really make this something I look forward to.  The banana sweetens the oatmeal without tasting too much like just a banana dish. I make up 2 days worth because it takes the oats some time to soak everything up.  I start by mashing a banana in the container I am going to store it.  Then add rolled oatmeal (not the instant kind), almond milk, chia seeds, ground flax seeds, vanilla and almond extract and mix well and put it in the refrigerator.  The next morning I put half of it in a bowl and microwave it for 2 minutes, while I get my frozen mixture (just because it is so easy and I always have them on hand) of raspberries, blueberries, cherries and blackberries and put them in a small bowl and microwave them for a few minutes.  They become almost like stewed fruit and give off some nice juices that really add to the oatmeal.  I put the fruit mixture over the oatmeal and sprinkle some toasted sliced almonds over the top.  Trader Joe’s has toasted almonds that I always have in the refrigerator to add to desserts and salads and they taste so much better toasted.  Hope you like it!  Click here for the recipe….

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Steak with Grains of Paradise with a Peanut-Ginger Garnish and Mashed Plantains and Collards

New York Strip Steak with Grains of Paradise with a Peanut-Ginger Garnish and Mashed Plantains and Collards

I had never heard of the spice Grains of Paradise and it was fun to try something new. It’s used often in West African cooking.  The spice is from the seeds of a plant from the ginger family and has a pungent peppery kick with a citrus overtone that is really nice on steak.  You grind or crush it like you would peppercorns and sprinkle it on the steak before you cook it.  The garnish was delicious and something I would have never thought worked, but it does.  You sauté ginger and ground peanuts in a little oil and sprinkle over the steak before you serve.  My photo doesn’t show the mashed plantains under the collard greens.  I guess I was in too much of a hurry to eat it to notice it was all covered up!  I just boiled sliced plantains in water and mashed it with a little butter and olive oil to smooth it out.  I sauteéd an onion and some garlic with the collard greens (you could also use kale or spinach) and served that over the plantains.  I also made a little side garnish of fresh chopped parsley and lime which added a great acidic kick to the whole dish.  It’s worth to source and try the Grains of Paradise.  You can find it online.  Click here for the recipe….

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Baked Camembert with Dried Figs, Cranberries and Walnuts

Baked Camembert with Dried Figs, Cranberries and Walnuts

This is a quick appetizer to pull together with some pantry staples and a round of Camembert or brie cheese.  I reconstituted some chopped dried figs and cranberries in some hot water and drained them after 10 minutes and mixed it together with some apricot jam, (you could also use chutney, fig jam or even orange marmalade) and chopped walnuts.  You could also use almonds or pistachios and this mixture can be made the day before and refrigerate.  Bake the cheese with the mixture on top for 10 minutes and serve with crackers. You could also serve it with sliced apples or pears.  I forgot to set the timer and cooked it too long, so the cheese melted all over and wasn’t a pretty picture (literally!) and I didn’t include the photo, but yours will be better!  Click here for the recipe….

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Caramelized Pear, Shallot and Sage Crostini with Blue Cheese

Caramelized Pear, Shallot and Sage Crostini with Blue Cheese

I love the combo of fruit and cheese, and pears and blue cheese go so well together. I sautéed a shallot until it was caramelized and then added some pear slices with some fresh sage and cooked them through.  Toast some slices of baguette and place the pears on the crostini and garnish with crumbled blue cheese and you have a delicious appetizer.  The pears can be made the day before and assembled just before serving them.   Click here for the recipe….

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Black Forest Trifle

Black Forest Trifle

This is my Grandma’s trifle bowl and I am so happy to have it and get to use it. She loved to make desserts and I know that’s where I got my love of them too!  Instead of the traditional British trifle, I mixed it up and made it with a cherry filling.  You can make it quite easily with a few cheats ~ store bought pound cake, Birds custard mix, and frozen cherries.  I put the frozen cherries in a saucepan with some lemon juice and a little water and sugar to taste and let it cook for 8-10 minutes.  I made a slurry with cornstarch and water and added some until it was a glaze consistency.  I made the ubiquitous Bird’s custard from my childhood and all you have to do is bring milk to a simmer and add a little cold milk to a small bowl of the custard mixture, whisk it up and add some hot milk to the mixture and then whisk it all into the hot milk and cook the custard until it simmers and cooks for a few minutes. I like to add a dash of vanilla powder or little splash of vanilla and then allow it to completely cool.  Cut up some pound cake and add it to the trifle bowl, sprinkle it with some Kirsch if you have some or a little brandy, and add a third of the cherry mixture and top it with custard, and then repeat the layers.  Make some whipped cream and dollop it over the cherries and then grate a bittersweet chocolate bar over the trifle for garnish.  This trifle can be made the day before so it is nice if you are having a party.  Click here for the recipe….

 

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Medjool Date Power Balls

Medjool Date Power Balls   

These power energy balls are a great snack and packed with healthy, whole ingredients.  They are really quick to make in a food processor and they keep very well.  You just pulse all the ingredients in the food processor and roll them into balls.  They’re a twist on an ancient Indian sweet recipe called khajur pak, often found piled high in specialty Delhi sweet shops.  There are several varieties of dates but 2 of the most popular in the grocery store are Medjool and Deglet Noor dates.  Medjool dates are picked when they are ripe, but don’t have as long a shelf life and are usually more expensive than Deglet dates. Deglet dates are picked when they’re rock solid and inedible and have to be steamed to loosen them up. They have a longer shelf life, are less expensive and a good choice for baking because they hold their shape. Medjool dates can often be too soft for baking but make good snacking and stuffing dates. Dates are loaded with antioxidants, are fat free, and provide a good source of fiber and potassium.  Give these a try!  Click here for the recipe….

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Indian Lentil Chili

Indian Lentil Chili

Happy New Year!  As the new year rolls around, I usually try and reflect on things I want to make a difference at the beginning of the year.  Making resolutions always seems to have me veer in the opposite direction, but I am considering trying to eat mindfully might be a difference I would like to consider.  I think that maybe even eating vegetarian at least once a week is a good thing to incorporate and this chili makes it easy for me give it a good start!  If you are trying to find more ways to get lentils and legumes into your diet, this is a great chili recipe that uses the incredible aromatic spices of India like cardamon, coriander, cloves, garam masala and cumin with a tomato base.  Red kidney beans give this chili some more substance and cilantro brings the dish some fresh flavor at the end. I used a combination of red dal lentils, lentils du Puy and green lentils and started with a quick fresh time saver of Trader Joe’s mire poix which is a mixture of chopped onions, carrots and celery which made this chili even faster to make.  This chili also freezes well and is a hearty vegetarian dish with incredible depth of flavor.  Click here for the recipe….

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Winter Sangria

Winter Sangria

This Winter Sangria is delicious!  In a pitcher you pour white wine, brandy, fresh apple cider, simple syrup and add pomegranates, sliced pears, satsuma oranges and a cinnamon stick.  You can make this the day before to really allow the fruit to macerate, and just before you serve it, add some ginger beer or ginger ale for a little fizz.  I just played around with the simple syrup and kept tasting it until the balance was right.  I rimmed the glasses with a swipe of a lemon around the rim and dipped it in a cinnamon sugar mix.  You can decorate the glasses the day before.  Pour the sangria over a glass of ice with a spritz of the ginger beer and enjoy!  Click here for the recipe….

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Beef Tenderloin Dinner

 Beef Tenderloin

 Duchess Potatoes

Roasted Parsnips

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

For our family Christmas dinner last year I made beef tenderloin with gravy, duchess potatoes, roasted parsnips and roasted Brussels sprouts and onions – a very British Christmas meal.  You can’t go wrong with beef tenderloin.  After I sauteed the beef on all sides, I put it on a baking tray and roasted it in the oven at 475 for 20-25 minutes.  I made the gravy by deglazing the skillet with the beef bits with some red wine and then added some gourmet store bought demi glace that I bought up at Granville Island and cooked it down.  I also added some of the beef juices after I took the tenderloin out of the oven to let it rest.  I could have made the demi glace myself, but using a good quality homemade prepared demi glace saved me some time and I took a small cheat.  I made the duchess potatoes the day before.  You make mashed potatoes and put them through a food mill to make them very smooth and creamy and add an egg to the butter and cream mixture which makes them light and fluffy.  Before baking the potatoes, you brush them with an egg wash so they nicely brown.  I cut the Brussels sprouts and onions the day before, put them in a plastic bag and refrigerated them.  Since parsnips can brown if prepared too far in advance, I peeled and cut them shortly before I roasted them.  I just toss them separately in a bowl with olive oil, salt and pepper and toss them on a baking sheet to get nice and toasty brown.  Click here for the recipe….

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