Thanksgiving thoughts. 5/21/19

It feels so cold and wintery today that my dinner thoughts turned to Thanksgiving! I am definitely ready for some sunshine and warmth.

Since we were going to Costco today, John suggested we get one of their big rotisserie chickens that are only $4.99.  That fit in perfectly with my Thanksgiving thoughts.

Costco rotisserie chicken

In addition I made some butternut squash and broccoli with toasted pine nuts. It was a nice comforting dinner and warmed us up a bit. But I would rather be sitting outside with a frosty drink watching John cook something on the grill!

Winner, winner, chicken dinner

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Carnitas! 5/20/19

Veinte de Mayo is just as appropriate as Cinco de Mayo for enjoying some fine Mexican food. Tonight we made carnitas tacos!

I made an array of condiments – chopped cilantro and green onions, a crunchy Mexican slaw, sliced avocado, jalapeño, and radishes plus a peach salsa from the store.

Taco accompaniments

John took the lead with the pork shoulder cooking it in our Instant Pot. He cooked our 1.5 lb. piece on high pressure for half an hour with a ten minute cool down and then a quick release of the remaining pressure. Cooking in stock, citrus juices, onion, poblano pepper, and spices added a depth of flavor to the pork. The meat shredded easily and then got some crisping under the broiler. He toasted the corn tortillas over the stove’s open flame and then we were ready for assembly.

Taco assembly station

Mmm, what a great combination of flavors – crispy carnitas, crunchy slaw, spicy jalapeños, sweet peach salsa, and a dollop of cool, creamy sour cream! And once we were finished our daughter made nachos with our leftovers, plus some cheese and tortilla chips. Something for everyone tonight!

Pork carnitas tacos with all the fixings

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Cannellini beans with white miso and radishes. 5/19/19

This recipe by Colu Henry on the NYTimes Cooking site boasts a cooking time of about 10 minutes. And that is pretty much true. You empty a can of rinsed beans into some garlicky butter, add the miso, and then, off the heat, add the vegetables.

It is pretty good although our lightly salted butter combined with the miso made the dish quite salty. I also think using olive oil or a neutral oil would work in place of the butter and also keep these beans in the vegan realm. John enjoyed the cooked radishes but I would prefer to keep the salad greens, radishes, and cucumbers (my addition) raw and just let the warm miso beans wilt everything slightly.

Cannellini beans with white miso and radishes


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Simply soup. 5/17/19

We are having odd weather here in Northern California. It should be sunny and mild but instead it is barely 60F for a high and raining.  Pretty much it has been raining for five days. The house has a winter’s chill to it and we are bundled up loathe to turn on the heat although the thermostat is reading in the low 60s.

What to make when you are cold and do not want to venture out to the store in the rain? Simply soup. We all have ingredients for a simple soup – some chicken or vegetable stock, carrots, onions, parsley, celery, maybe some leftover salad greens, and some kind of pasta. Today I broke up some spaghetti pieces to act as my noodles.

Simple vegetable noodle soup

When it gets hot out I will make gazpacho and cool parsley or celery soups. But today when it is chilly and gray a simple hot vegetable soup with some noodles in a clear broth will work just fine for me.


Posted in American, Easy, Kitchen tips, Pasta, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian | Tagged | 1 Comment

Chickpea and juniper berry pâté. 5/17/19

We enjoyed the chunky chickpea spread that we had a few nights ago so much that I thought I would try more of a pâté with different flavors. This time I used my stick blender to make it smoother and added garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, and cracked juniper berries. Chopped green onions topped the spread which was served on toasted Pugliese bread. The juniper berries gave it a fresh and interesting flavor.

Crostini with chickpea and juniper berry pâtés much 

The chickpea pâté or the chunky spread also make great lunches stuffed into a whole wheat pita with lettuce and tomatoes.

Smashed chickpeas with olive oil, onions, and parsley

For our main course I made marinara sauce with capers while John boiled up some spaghetti. I have been using San Marzano tomatoes which I think gives the sauce a good flavor.

Spaghetti and sauce cooking on the stove simultaneously

Posted in Easy, Italian, Legumes, Middle Eastern, Pasta, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Time for a tasty salad. 5/16/19

I must admit that I have bad-mouthed making salads. By the time I have all my ingredients out and prepped the kitchen is a wet mess and I have gone through too many paper towels trying to contain it all. Plus my countertop compost bin is filled to the brim! Tonight we were just having some leftovers so I wanted to have a tasty salad first. Here is how I tried to solve my salad problems.

Tossed/composed salad with spring mix, Italian parsley, celery, cucumber, tomatoes, and avocado

I used spring mix as a bottom layer. It came pre-washed. Next I cut the tops off from a stalk of celery and put the leaves and bite sized celery pieces in a colander. Also in the colander I put some chopped up parsley and diced seeded cucumber. As I took out the amount of each ingredient, I put the remainder back in their storage bag and returned them to the refrigerator. Mess number one avoided!

I washed all these ingredients together and shook them vigorously and finished them off by blotting with one paper towel. Problem number two of using multiple paper towels and wet mess avoided. The herb/cucumber/celery mixture went on top of the spring mix in each of our bowls. No big salad bowl to wash! At this point I dressed our salads.

Next the cherry tomatoes got a wash in the colander I had used for the greens. I have a ceramic paring knife that makes very clean cuts so there is less tomato goo on my cutting board. Tomatoes go on top of the salad and there is a quick wipe up with my wrung out greens-blotting towel.

Lastly I cut the avocado from pole to pole around the pit and drop the pit in my compost bin. I take the halves, peel and all, and cut them into four pieces. It is easy to peel the tough skin off and just slice the pieces up. Peels go in the bin and the board gets wiped off. Season with salt and pepper and the salads are done.

Look around. There is no mess! The salad was a great starter to our meal AND I got John to empty my countertop compost bin. Feeling pretty good about conquering my salad-phobia tonight.


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Instant Pot beef stew. 5/15/19

Do you have your favorite beef stew that you make on the stovetop or in your slow cooker? You can make it faster in your Instant Pot! Growing up, my mom always made beef stew in her stovetop pressure cooker.  So I took her basic recipe and made it in our Instant Pot.

All the basic ingredient are the same – seared boneless beef short ribs, sautéed onions and garlic, aromatic vegetables like carrots and onions, waxy potatoes, beef stock, tomatoes, herbs, and spices. Cook it on high pressure for 20 minutes and then let it cool down partially for another 10 minutes. Then open the pressure gauge to release the rest of the steam and add a slurry to thicken the broth. I served my bowl with a garnish of Italian olive oil and some Pugliese croutons.

Instant Pot beef stew with rustic Pugliese croutons

I added some extras like orange peel and thyme from our garden but you know what makes it best for you. Tonight, weirdly, it is raining heavily in NorCal and an aromatic beef stew really hit the spot.

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