Farro vegetable bowl with nuoc cham 4/9/21

After the heft of our dining-out experience on Thursday we decided on much lighter fare for Friday.

Sheet pan roasted vegetables over baked farro with nuoc cham

Baking the farro in a 9 x 9 inch glass baking dish is a simple but delicious way to cook farro.

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Oven baked farro

1 1/2 cups rinsed farro
2 1/3 cups boiling or very hot water
1 tsp salt or salt to your taste
olive oil spray or butter

Preheat oven to 375F. Spray 9×9″ glass baking dish thoroughly with olive oil spray or butter baking dish. To the dish add the farro, hot water, and salt. Cover tightly with foil. Bake one hour. Remove from oven and fluff making sure to loosen farro from sides and bottom of dish. Re-cover and let stand five minutes.

(This technique also works perfectly with brown rice.)

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At this point your oven is already hot so crank it up to 400F and cook a variety of oiled and salted vegetables on a sheet pan until tender and browned, about 20 minutes. I used carrots, red onion, cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower. To be honest my veggies look a little pale so I sould have left them in a little longer.

Serve the vegetables and farro with a dressing of your choice. The recipe I was sort of following suggested a ranch style dressing but I liked the flavor of nuoc cham with its spicy, umami flavor.

Close-up showing farro underneath vegetables

Posted in American, Easy, Grains, Kitchen tips, Recipes, Sheet pan, Thai, Vegetables | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Dining out for the first time in 13 months! 4/8/21

John and I planned a treat for ourselves and went out to lunch, dinner, and stayed over at hotel for the first time since February, 2020. I have to admit that not being able to go to restaurants for over a year probably helped a lot with staying on a diet but now that we are semi-free to do so, I have to figure out strategies to make good choices.

For lunch I ordered mussels and John ordered octopus. Seafood, as a long as it is not fried, is always a good choice. Giving John my bread is also a successful strategy for me but probably not for him.

Roasted mussels in a saffron broth

Marinated grilled octopus

For dinner we employed a similar technique which had us eating hamachi, a salad, and halibut. Of course these were not simply the item on a plate but each course was carefully prepared with delicious accompaniments.

Hamachi crudo, sweet potato, crispy shallots, escabeche tiger’s milk

Seared Alaskan halibut, peas, carrots, wild onion soubise, sorrel sauce

Of course we are not going to eat like this very often and I have not stepped on the scale to see what damage has been done but I am confident that if I go back to my usual at-home diet that no significant weight gain will have occurred.

It was so great to go out again. John and I are planning a little getaway soon but we definitely will not be dining like this! I will have to figure out how to eat reasonably before we go. A conscious effort to exercise and make good choices has to be a major part of the equation.

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Wednesday is Pasta Day! 4/7/21

I am officially declaring Wednesday Pasta Day. What other food is more perfect than pasta to get you over the hump of the weekdays and sliding on into the weekend. Plus noodles of one sort or another are in almost every cuisine.

Orecchiette with mushrooms and kale

This Wednesday’s offering is orecchiette with mushrooms, onions, garlic, chopped kale stems and kale leaves. There is a little prep with chopping up the components but the cooking goes quickly. While the water comes to a boil sauté the mushrooms, onions, garlic, and stems in a little olive oil. When the orecchiette goes into the water to boil add the kale leaves to the other vegetables. Before draining the pasta (orecchiette takes about 10 minutes) reserve at least a cup of pasta water. Put the drained pasta into the vegetables and add enough of the pasta water to make a sauce along with another teaspoon of olive oil. Serve garnished with a drizzle of olive oil and some optional grated parmesan.

Posted in Easy, Italian, Pasta, Recipes, Uncategorized, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Roasted sea bass with new potatoes and broccoli. 4/6/21

Since yesterday was a salt extravaganza we decided that a less sodium packed meal would be the right choice. We finished up our pack of frozen Chilean bass by having a little extra in the shape of a much thinner third piece of fish (the piece on the left in the picture below) that John folded in half so it would cook at the same rate as the other pieces. The uniforms thickness translated into all the pieces being done in 14 minutes at 400F.

I started to steam the new potatoes a little ahead of the fish going in the oven. There were some bigger potatoes that ended up on John’s plate and I knew that they would take about 20-25 minutes. Once cooked, even if I had to hold them for 5 minutes or so, I knew that they would stay warm.

The broccoli took about 8 minutes and I made a lot of it. Unsurprisingly we ate it all.

I was very sparing with the salt in this meal. Using lemon as a seasoning helped out with my usual salt craving.

Posted in American, Easy, Fish, Healthy tips, Kitchen tips, pescatarian, Vegetables | Tagged | 1 Comment

Thai shrimp soup. 4/5/21

A week or so ago we made a Thai soup to represent our country winner. Although we ate most of the vegetables and all the shrimp we still had broth left over. We used it as the base for tonight’s soup.

We added new shrimp, a few cherry tomatoes, some kale, snow peas, and green onions. Except for being quite salty, it came out well.

For the original post and link to the recipe see Tom Yum Soup 3/26/21.

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Easter bread and Brussels sprouts. 4/4/21

On Sunday we decided to have our eggs in the form of cake. Our daughter made this delicious yeast cake/bread called Colomba di Pasqua, or dove of Easter in Italian. It was so good! We ate a lot of it.


Her Colomba di Pasqua is supposed to look like a dove but all the examples looked pretty much like blobs. The interior is filled with raisins and citron and the coating is sugar and almonds in syrup.

Because we were pretty much gorging on this sweet Easter bread, I only made Brussels sprouts for a main course. These were my special sprouts which were cut in half and put cut side down in a pan with a little water, a sprinkling of sugar, salt, and with butter dotting the top. Put the lid on and cook until almost tender. Uncover and when the water is nearly evaporated add a little dry sherry. Then the sherry evaporates and the Brussel sprouts caramelize on the cut side in the remaining essence of sherry, sugar, and butter. Yum!


Incredibly yummy Brussels sprouts

Posted in American, Desserts, Holidays, Italian, Recipes, Uncategorized, Vegetables, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Weekly Menu April 5 – 11, 2021

John and I are hoping to go out to dinner after some wine tasting and then stay overnight at a hotel on Thursday. Woohoo! I am excited about doing something that will be at least semi-normal. We are both fully vaccinated but expect to wear masks when in public, social distance, and wash hands frequently. The dinner reservation is still up in the air, though. Fingers crossed!

This week’s menu includes three vegetarian/vegan meals, two seafood, and one chicken. The dinners are definitely on the lower calorie side as I am trying to build up a buffer against extra eating on Thursday.

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Lentils over kale. 4/2/21

Friday night’s dinner was just what we needed to get us back on our diet track after a prolonged venture into too many dangerous foods. (I’m looking at you wine and matzoh with butter!)

In addition to the lentils we used turkey sausage, mushrooms, onions, carrots, garlic, and kale stems in the stew. After cooking the combo in chicken stock for about 25 minutes, I served the stew over raw kale leaves which wilted slightly under the hot lentils. John finished his bowl with some good olive oil and Trapani sea salt while I just sprinkled mine with kosher salt.

Showing amazing willpower neither of us had seconds. We now have plenty in the fridge to add more chicken stock to and turn our stew into a soup fot Saturday’s LFD! (Leftovers For Dinner)

Posted in American, Easy, Healthy tips, Kitchen tips, Legumes, Poultry, stew, Uncategorized, Vegetables | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Scallops and asparagus. 4/1/21

Having scallops for dinner always makes it feel like a special occasion night.
Seared scallops and sautéed asparagus in a lemony tartar sauce

It takes just minutes to cook these U-10 scallops and John did a great job. They were sweet and moist, just cooked through. I sautéed up some asparagus and made a thinned out tartar sauce that i pepped up with a bit of sriracha.

Sometimes having two perfect ingredients is all you need.

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Penne with mushrooms and asparagus. 3/31/21


Whole grain penne with mushrooms and asparagus

Is pasta night my favorite night of the week? I think so! Pasta has so much going for it. It is carb heavy and I love carbs. It is so quick to make. Most pastas only take about 10 minutes to cook. And it is infinitely variable. There are so many different pastas that can be prepared in so many different ways. Versatile, easy, quick, delicious, and even economical! What’s not to love?!

While John heated up the water and cooked the pasta I prepped and cooked the vegetables. Mushrooms, onions, garlic, asparagus, chop, chop, chop, saute, cooked pasta in, swirl around, done.

Posted in Easy, Italian, Kitchen tips, Pasta, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian | Leave a comment