Monday, November 22, 2010

saturday - wheat berry & black bean chili, cornbread muffins

As I've mentioned, my husband doesn't eat beef or any ground meats, so regular meat-based chili is out for us. Luckily there are tons of delicious vegetarian chili recipes out there, especially this recipe from made with wheat berries and black beans. I followed the recipe exactly, except for using homemade and home-canned ingredients such as a pint jar of black beans that I recently cooked and froze, a pint of chicken stock that I canned a while back, and two pints of canned tomatoes. So the proportions may have been a tiny bit off. It's a tasty recipe and one I use often as a way to use cooked wheat berries--you can freeze extra cooked wheat berries and put them right into the soup still frozen. Very convenient.

For the cornbread, I'm a bit ashamed to say that I used a mix. I have tried and tried to make cornbread from scratch but it always comes out dry, so I finally gave up and use mixes now. Before we moved I loved the Arrowhead Mills cornbread mix, which is mostly whole grain and very delicious, but I can't find it in Portland. So I tried Trader Joe's mix, which was more like a corn cupcake than a muffin--wow, super sweet tasting. Needless to say, Courtney loved them.

I hope all of you have a very happy and safe Thanksgiving. I'll be taking the week off from blogging, but let me know how your big meal turns out! Are you trying out new recipes or sticking with family favorites?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

wednesday - pork tenderloin with chipotle-lingonberry sauce, asparagus, roasted delicata squash & onions, salad

I realized halfway through this tasty meal that I'd completely forgotten to photograph it. Oops. Perhaps that says something about how excited I was to eat it? For the pork, I used the same dry rub that I use when I make pulled pork sandwiches, based on this recipe from Tyler Florence at I served a chipotle-lingonberry sauce with the pork, one of the many things I've done with the gallon (literally!) of lingonberries that we picked last weekend. I based the sauce on this recipe from that uses cranberries--I made the chipotle-cranberry sauce last Thanksgiving and, with the exception of my mother-in-law, everyone loved it. If you're looking for something a little different to add to your Thanksgiving table this year, I recommend it. But if your mother-in-law doesn't enjoy tart foods and you don't want to see her make a terrible face as she tries to force it down, make sure she doesn't get any. (Hi Jackie!)

I was initially going to make delicata squash with oranges and pistachios, but I couldn't resist making the roasted delicata squash and onions that I made and loved a couple of weeks ago. Both recipes are from, and I'll get around to making the dish with oranges soon, but I'm glad I made the recipe with onions last night. It's as good as I remembered. I followed the recipe exactly, so head on over to and make it yourself. We also had roasted asparagus (toss asparagus spears with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roast on a baking sheet for 7 to 8 minutes or until crisp-tender and slightly browned; sprinkle with lemon juice before serving) and a salad of mixed greens, gorgonzola, and pepitas tossed with pomegranate vinaigrette.

Thanks to those of you who have sent in casserole recipes and lingonberry suggestions this week! I've been up to my ears in lingonberries, and thus far have made lingonberry jam, chipotle-lingonberry sauce, and pumpkin-lingonberry bread. I tried lingonberries in my oatmeal one morning, which was not a good idea--a bit too tart. I transferred the remaining 5 cups of berries to the freezer, and since the pumpkin-lingonberry bread was so delicious, I'll likely use them for baking. In lieu of a dinner photo from last night, I'll include the bread recipe, which was based on this pumpkin-cranberry bread from

Fresh lingonberries, sorted and ready for action...

A few of the many, many jars of lingonberry jam...

Delicious pumpkin-lingonberry bread, hot from the oven...

Addendum: Today's lunch, cleverly disguised as last night's dinner:

Last but not least, chipotle-lingonberry sauce...

Spice-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin

1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 pounds pork tenderloin, trimmed of visible fat
1 teaspoon olive oil
Chipotle-lingonberry sauce, for serving (recipe follows)
Preheat the oven to 450°F.
In a small bowl, mix together the smoked paprika, garlic powder, brown sugar, dry mustard, and salt. Rub the seasoning all over the pork, pressing gently so the seasoning adheres well to the meat.
Heat the oil in a large oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat. Put the pork in the skillet and sear each side, using tongs to turn the meat, about 4 to 5 minutes total. Transfer skillet to the oven, and roast until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the pork reads 150°F, about 10 minutes. Let rest at least 5 minutes before slicing. Serve with chipotle-lingonberry sauce.
Makes 4 servings.

Chipotle-Lingonberry Sauce

3 cups fresh or frozen lingonberries or 1 12-ounce package fresh or frozen cranberries
1 1/3 cups sugar
2 chipotle chiles canned in adobo, minced
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 small garlic clove, chopped
1/4 teaspoon (generous) ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon (generous) ground cumin

Combine all ingredients in heavy medium saucepan and stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Continue cooking until lingonberries (or cranberries) begin to pop, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat slightly, and simmer until sauce thickens and flavors meld, stirring often, 10 to 15 minutes. Serve warm or chilled. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 week ahead. Keep chilled.

Makes about 2 cups.

Pumpkin-Lingonberry Bread

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
2 cups packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon salt
1 15- or 16-ounce can plain pumpkin puree, (1 1/2 cups)
1 cup nonfat plain yogurt
1/3 cup canola oil
2 large eggs
2 large egg whites
2 cups fresh or frozen lingonberries or dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat two 9-by-5-inch loaf pans with cooking spray; dust with flour and tap out the excess.
Combine all-purpose and whole-wheat flours, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, and salt in a mixing bowl; mix well, breaking up any lumps of brown sugar with your fingertips. Whisk together pumpkin, yogurt, oil, eggs, and egg whites in another bowl until well combined. Stir the pumpkin mixture and lingonberries (or cranberries) into the dry ingredients until completely blended, but do not overmix. Divide the batter between the loaf pans, smoothing the tops with a spatula. Bake until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, 55 to 65 minutes. Let the loaves rest in the pans for 5 minutes; turn them out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes 2 loaves.

tuesday - chicken potpie with butternut squash and white bean soup

As I mentioned in the comments section earlier this week, I'd only had chicken potpie once in my life before making it on Tuesday. That was at a friend's house when I was in junior high, and I loved it, but it wasn't something my mom ever made. Subsequently, it hasn't been something I've ever made.

However, this recipe was the featured recipe of the day at when I was making my meal plan for the week, and it looked delicious and comforting so I decided to try it. Overall, I was happy with it, particularly with the biscuit topping. The filling was a bit bland, but I think just a little more salt would have made it work.

I also served the remainder of the butternut squash and white bean soup that's been in my freezer (the original recipe was from This time I served it with crumbled gorgonzola instead of crispy sage leaves.

Chicken Potpie

3 teaspoons canola oil, divided
1 medium onion, chopped
3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
10 ounces cremini mushrooms, halved
2 1/2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth, divided
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 1/2 cups diced cooked chicken
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1/4 teaspoon salt (or more, to taste)
Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Biscuit topping
3/4 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 1/2 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup nonfat buttermilk or "sour milk"*
1 tablespoon canola oil

To prepare filling: Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion and carrots; cook, stirring, until golden brown and tender, about 7 minutes. Transfer to a bowl. Heat the remaining 2 teaspoons oil in the pan over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring often, until browned and their liquid has evaporated, 5 to 7 minutes. Return the onions and carrots to the pan. Add 2 cups broth and bring to a boil; reduce heat to a simmer. Mix cornstarch with the remaining 1/2 cup broth; add to the pan and cook, stirring, until the sauce thickens. Stir in chicken, peas, sour cream, salt, and pepper. Transfer the filling to a 2-quart baking dish.

To prepare biscuit topping & bake potpie: Preheat oven to 400°F. Whisk whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and thyme in a large bowl. Using your fingertips or 2 knives, cut butter into the dry ingredients until crumbly. Add buttermilk and oil; stir until just combined. Drop the dough onto the filling in 6 even portions. Set the baking dish on a baking sheet.

Bake the potpie until the topping is golden and the filling is bubbling, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

*Instead of buttermilk, you can make “sour milk” by mixing 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar to 1 cup milk.
Makes 6 servings.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

monday - winter salad with seared scallops and roasted squash

Last night I used a recipe from EatingWell magazine for winter salad with roasted squash and pomegranate vinaigrette, but decided to add seared scallops to make it a more substantial entrée. I used delicata squash instead of butternut squash--no big surprise given my current obsession with it. The pomegranate vinaigrette was delicious and made good use of a bottle of pomegranate glaze (which I'm pretty sure is the same as pomegranate molasses, based on the ingredient list) that I bought at Trader Joe's ages ago and has been lurking in my refrigerator door ever since. The salad would be great as written without the scallops (and perhaps with a sprinkle of blue cheese as the EW recipe note suggests). I left out the pomegranate seeds, but they would give it a nice sweet crunch.

Winter Salad with Seared Scallops and Roasted Squash

Pomegranate Vinaigrette
1/2 tablespoon minced shallot
1/2 tablespoon pomegranate molasses or pomegranate glaze
1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon or thyme
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon water

Squash & Salad
1 pound winter squash, such as delicata or butternut, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (leave unpeeled if using delicata)
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
2 cups torn frisée or curly endive
2 cups torn radicchio
2 tablespoons walnuts, coarsely chopped

1/2 pound dry sea scallops, approximately 8
1 teaspoon unsalted butter
2 teaspoons olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 375°F.

To prepare vinaigrette: Mix shallot, pomegranate molasses, vinegar, lemon juice, tarragon (or thyme), and salt in a small bowl. Whisk in the 2 tablespoons oil, then water.

To prepare squash: Place squash on a baking sheet, drizzle with 2 teaspoons oil, and toss to coat. Spread in a single layer and sprinkle with thyme, salt, and pepper. Roast, stirring once or twice, until fork-tender, 15 to 25 minutes (depending on the type of squash). Let cool.

To prepare salad: Place frisée (or endive), radicchio, and the squash in a large bowl. Add the vinaigrette and gently toss to coat.
To prepare scallops: Remove the small side muscle from the scallops, rinse with cold water, and thoroughly pat dry. Add the butter and 2 teaspoons oil to a large skillet (preferably cast iron) on high heat. Salt and pepper the scallops. Once the fat begins to smoke, gently add the scallops, making sure they are not touching each other. Sear the scallops for 2 minutes on each side. The scallops should have a 1/4-inch golden crust on each side while still being translucent in the center. Transfer scallops to a plate.
To serve, divide the salad and scallops among 2 plates and sprinkle with walnuts.
Makes 2 servings.

Monday, November 15, 2010

sunday - vegetable lasagna with pesto, salad

I used to have a favorite vegetarian lasagna recipe that I made often, but in preparation for our move to Portland, I packed up the cookbook that contained the recipe and put it in storage for nearly a year. So whenever I wanted to make lasagna during that time, I just had to wing it. Now that the cookbook is unpacked, I haven't bothered to dig out the recipe because I now know the secret--lasagna is super easy to make and is very forgiving and versatile. It makes me wish I made more casseroles, because this type of recipe is so easy to prepare in advance and then pull out when you're ready to eat. (Do any of you have any good casserole recipes you'd like to share?) Usually I'll still pull up a basic lasagna recipe online, like this one from, just to make sure I'm not missing any vital ingredients or steps, but I've found that lasagna is a great dish for tossing in a variety of vegetables and herbs and turning out really well. Last night, I finally used up the last bit of garlic scape pesto that's been in my freezer since early summer--it was a tasty addition, and regular basil pesto would work well also. If you're out of pesto, though, just omit it and add 1/4 cup grated Parmesan to the ricotta mixture instead. I planned on using whole wheat lasagna noodles, but unfortunately I'm too lazy to use anything except the no-boil, oven-ready noodles that are now readily available--I couldn't find these in a whole grain version so I just used regular white pasta instead.

We also had a salad of mixed greens (frisée and radicchio), pepitas, and a sprinkle of crumbled gorgonzola, tossed with this mustard vinaigrette from

Vegetable Lasagna with Pesto

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
8 ounces white mushrooms, sliced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup chopped roasted red peppers
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 9-ounce bag baby spinach (or 1 large bunch spinach, chopped)
1 15-ounce container low-fat ricotta cheese
1/2 cup pesto
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 24-ounce jar pasta sauce
12 no-boil lasagna noodles
1 cup shredded low-fat mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and mushrooms, and sauté until soft, 8 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Season with salt and pepper. Add roasted red peppers and garlic, and stir for another 2 to 3 minutes. Add spinach (in batches, if needed), tossing until wilted, about 3 minutes. Transfer spinach mixture to a large colander to drain excess moisture, pressing gently with the back of a wooden spoon.

Blend ricotta, pesto, and egg in a large bowl. Stir in drained spinach mixture; season to taste with salt and pepper.

Brush 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish with oil. Spread 1/2 cup pasta sauce in bottom of dish. Arrange 3 noodles side by side atop sauce. Spread 1/3 of ricotta-spinach mixture over the noodles in a thin layer. Repeat layering with sauce, noodles, and ricotta-spinach mixture 2 more times. Top with remaining 3 noodles and 1 cup sauce. Sprinkle mozzarella evenly over the sauce.

Cover lasagna with foil. Bake 35 minutes. Uncover, and bake an additional 15 minutes or until heated through, sauce bubbles, and mozzarella is melted. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Makes 8 servings.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

meal plan

We went lingonberry picking yesterday at Friendship Farm--so fun, despite the cold and rain! Thanks to our friends Meagan and Mike for taking us. I now have lots and lots of lingonberries and no experience using them. Any suggestions?

I'm planning on making lingonberry preserves this week, since nearly all of the recipes I've found call for that rather than the fresh berries. Also, I've decided to substitute them in the place of cranberries in my favorite cranberry sauce recipe--I'm excited to see how it turns out.

Meal 1: pork tenderloin with chipotle-lingonberry sauce, vegetable (TBD), delicata squash with orange & pistachios
Meal 2: veggie lasagna with pesto, salad
Meal 3: seared scallops with roasted squash salad & pomegranate vinaigrette
Meal 4: chicken potpie with butternut squash & white bean soup
Meal 5: wheat berry & black bean chili with cornbread muffins

Saturday, November 13, 2010

thursday - salmon with pepita-lime butter, roasted delicata squash and pears, salad

This salmon with pepita-lime butter from is a quick, tasty entrée. I followed the recipe exactly--the recipe I used makes 2 servings, but there is also a version that makes 4 servings. I also made another delicata squash recipe from after having such great results the first time I tried it. This recipe combines the squash with pears (I omitted the bacon), and it was good, but I preferred the squash-onion combo I made last week. The sweet/savory combination of the mustard and maple syrup will be hard to beat. Courtney really enjoyed this squash and pear dish, though, so it may show up on the meal plan again. We also had a simple salad of arugula, goat cheese, and toasted pepitas, tossed with lemon juice and olive oil. And in case you're wondering about all the extra produce I bought this week, it was all pickled. I now have a dozen pint jars of pickled cauliflower, green beans, and carrots, plus 2 large jars of pickled beets and eggs. Yum.

Roasted Delicata Squash and Pears

1 pound delicata squash (about 1 large)
2 medium ripe but firm pears, sliced
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 teaspoon chili powder

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Cut squash in half lengthwise; scoop out the seeds. Cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices. Toss in a large bowl with pears, oil, salt, and pepper. Spread on a large baking sheet.

Roast the squash and pears until just tender, stirring once or twice, 20 to 25 minutes. Sprinkle the brown sugar and chili powder over the squash and pears; toss to coat. Roast an additional 5 minutes.
Makes 4 servings.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

wednesday - chicken with creamy chive sauce, roasted balsamic romanesco, arugula-pear salad with cider vinaigrette

This chicken with creamy chive sauce from is very similar to the pork chops au poivre recipe that I made on Tuesday night. No matter, though, because they're both delicious. The recipe for the chicken made a ton of sauce, and I'm still trying to figure out what to do with all the extra--it's just too good to throw out. I followed the recipe for the sauce exactly except for using less chives than were called for (again, due to my sad, dwindling herb garden). The only significant change I made to the original recipe was using chicken tenders instead of chicken breasts--I didn't have the patience to pound out the chicken breasts to 1/2-inch thickness, so I used already-thin, quick-cooking chicken tenders and eliminated the pounding entirely. Hurrah!

On the side, I served leftover sweet potato-turnip mash (still delicious!), and roasted balsamic Romanesco based on this recipe from Romanesco is new to me--it's a very cool-looking, spiky, bright green Brassica, like a cross between cauliflower and broccoli (but slightly milder-tasting than either of those veggies).

I used a recipe that originally called for cauliflower, and if you can't find Romanesco, I recommend following the original recipe as written. I am generally not a huge cauliflower fan, but this recipe is a delicious way of preparing it. The Romanesco was great, and if you come across it, I encourage you to pick some up. It can be steamed or used in place of broccoli or cauliflower in your favorite recipes, and your kids will love the appearance--the florets look like tiny Christmas trees.

Wednesday's dinner plate looks strikingly similar to Tuesday's dinner plate...

I also made a delicious salad of arugula, pear slices, and walnuts. I tossed it with my favorite cider vinaigrette, which for some reason I only make during fall and winter.

Chicken with Creamy Chive Sauce

1 pound chicken tenders, trimmed of fat
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, divided
3 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 large shallots, finely chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 14-ounce can reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/3 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon chopped chives

Season both sides of the chicken with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Place 1/4 cup flour in a shallow glass baking dish and dredge the chicken in it. Discard the excess flour.
Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate, cover, and keep warm.

Heat the remaining 1 teaspoon oil in the pan over medium-high heat. Add shallots and cook, stirring constantly and scraping up any browned bits, until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon flour; stir to coat. Add wine, broth, and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt; bring to a boil, stirring often.

Return the chicken and any accumulated juices to the pan, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook until heated through and no longer pink in the center, about 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in sour cream and mustard until smooth; turn the chicken to coat with the sauce. Transfer chicken to plates. Spoon the sauce over the chicken, and sprinkle with chives before serving.

Makes 4 servings.
Roasted Balsamic Romanesco

8 cups 1-inch-thick slices Romanesco or cauliflower florets, (about 1 large head)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon dried herbes de Provence or marjoram
1/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup finely shredded Asiago or Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 450°F.

Toss Romanesco (or cauliflower), oil, herbes de Provence (or marjoram), salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Spread on a large rimmed baking sheet and roast until starting to soften and brown on the bottom, 15 to 20 minutes. Toss the Romanesco with vinegar and sprinkle with cheese. Return to the oven and roast until the cheese is melted and any moisture has evaporated, 5 to 10 minutes more.

Makes 4 servings.

Cider Vinaigrette

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 teaspoon maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Place all ingredients in a jar. Cover tightly, and shake until combined.

Makes 4 servings.

tuesday - pork chops au poivre, brussels sprouts, & sweet potato-turnip mash

This was a tasty, tasty meal. I love this recipe for pork chops au poivre from I used thin pork chops that cook in just a couple of minutes, and the dish looks and tastes super fancy but is actually extremely quick and easy. I thought I followed the recipe exactly, but upon re-reading it, I realized I forgot to dredge the pork chops in flour before cooking. Didn't even notice the difference, so if you're looking to save a few extra minutes, I'd say that step is optional. Stay tuned for an almost identical recipe using chicken that I made on Wednesday night.

I also really love this recipe for golden-crusted Brussels sprouts from It's a really delicious recipe that I'm convinced even people who hate Brussels sprouts will love. I used Asiago cheese, but, as stated in the original recipe post, pretty much any cheese would work. I found Brussels sprouts still on the stalk at the farmers' market, which I love:

Finally, I made a sweet potato-turnip mash from I really liked the combination, as the turnips cut the sweetness of the sweet potatoes and the sage-butter was a delicious addition. I used a little less sage than the recipe called for, given what was available in my dwindling herb garden, but otherwise followed the recipe exactly.

Pork Chops au Poivre

4 2-ounce boneless pork chops, 1/4 inch thick, trimmed
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small shallot, minced
1/4 cup brandy
2 tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream

Season pork chops on both sides with pepper and 1/4 teaspoon salt.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chops, reduce heat to medium, and cook until browned and just cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and tent with foil to keep warm.

Reduce heat to medium-low. Add shallot to the pan and cook, stirring, until softened, about 1 minute. Add brandy and cook, stirring and scraping up any browned bits, until most of the liquid has evaporated, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat; stir in sour cream and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Serve the pork chops with the sauce.

Makes 2 servings.

Golden Brussels Sprouts

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
1 tablespoon water
Ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup grated cheese (Parmesan or Asiago are good choices)

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add Brussels sprouts, tossing to coat with oil. Position the sprouts cut side down in the pan. Add water, and cover pan with a tight-fitting lid. Cook until Brussels sprouts are bright green and crisp-tender, about 6 to 8 minutes, shaking pan occasionally. Remove lid, increase heat to high, and cook until Brussels sprouts are golden brown on bottom. Toss gently to lightly brown the uncut sides. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with cheese just before serving.

Makes 4 servings.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

monday - seared scallops, smashed celeriac, sautéed cabbage, & artichokes

I have to admit, I wasn't really looking forward to this meal compared to all of the other meals on the plan this week. It felt like a mish-mash of random ingredients that didn't quite fit together. I was pleasantly surprised, though, as everything was delicious! I made very simple and lightning-fast seared scallops (Alton Brown has a great straightforward recipe at, topped with a white wine-lemon reduction. On the side, I served celeriac, sautéed cabbage, and whole artichokes, none of which I'd cooked before. I've been eyeing the knotty, strange-looking celeriac, or celery root, at the farmers' market, and finally decided to try it out this week.

I used this recipe for smashed celeriac from because it just calls for celeriac; most other recipes I found have it mixed with potatoes or another root vegetable, and I was really interested in getting the true taste of the root. The raw celeriac smells like very, very strong celery, but when cooked it really mellows out and was surprisingly nice. I would like to try it again with one of the potato-based recipes--I think it would add a great flavor to mashed potatoes.

I had about 3 cups of sliced cabbage left over after last week's meals, so I decided to sauté it for an additional side dish. I usually eat cabbage raw in slaws or add it to soups or other dishes, but I'm so glad I tried cooking it on its own--so easy and quite tasty.

Finally, I cooked whole artichokes for the first time. I often use canned or frozen artichoke hearts in recipes, and I have eaten whole artichokes, but I've never actually cooked them myself. Courtney requested them after noticing them at the farmers' market, and I'm so glad. They always seemed like too much effort, what with all the leaf-trimming and choke-removing, but I was wrong! They're super simple and very hands-off. I based the technique on this recipe from planned on grilling them, but it was cold here last night and I didn't want to venture outside, so I just boiled them instead. I made a quick and easy (and delicious) lemon-yogurt sauce based on this recipe from Definitely a healthier choice than melted butter!

Seared Scallops

1/2 pound dry sea scallops, approximately 8
1 teaspoon unsalted butter
2 teaspoons olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup white wine
Juice of 1/2 lemon

Remove the small side muscle from the scallops, rinse with cold water, and thoroughly pat dry.

Add the butter and oil to a large skillet (preferably cast iron) on high heat. Salt and pepper the scallops. Once the fat begins to smoke, gently add the scallops, making sure they are not touching each other. Sear the scallops for 2 minutes on each side. The scallops should have a 1/4-inch golden crust on each side while still being translucent in the center. Transfer scallops to a plate.

Turn off the heat, and add the wine and lemon juice to the hot skillet. Use a wooden spoon to scrape up any brown bits in the pan. Let the mixture reduce by about half. Drizzle the white wine-lemon reduction over the scallops.

Makes 2 servings.

Smashed Celeriac

1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 celeriac, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 to 4 tablespoons water

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add celeriac, garlic, and thyme, and season with salt and pepper. Stir until celeriac begins to lightly brown, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low, add water, and cover. Simmer until celeriac is tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Using a wooden spoon, smash the celeriac until lightly mashed. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Makes 3 to 4 servings.

Sautéed Cabbage

1 teaspoon butter
2 teaspoons olive oil
3 cups cabbage, thinly sliced
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons water

Heat butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add cabbage, and sauté until beginning to soften. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add water, cover, and cook until cabbage is tender, about 10 to 15 minutes, adding an additional tablespoon of water as needed to keep the pan from becoming too dry.

Makes 3 servings.

Artichokes with Lemon-Yogurt Sauce

Juice of 1 1/2 lemons, divided
2 large artichokes
1/4 cup plain nonfat yogurt
1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt

Fill a large pot with water; add the juice of 1 lemon. Trim leaves from the top of one artichoke. Remove the outer layer(s) of leaves from the stem end and snip all remaining spiky tips from the outer leaves. Trim a half inch off the bottom of the stem. When the artichoke is prepared, drop it into the lemon water to prevent it from turning brown. Repeat with the remaining artichoke.

Cover the pot and bring to a boil. Boil until the base of the stem can be pierced with a fork and a leaf can be easily plucked, 17 to 20 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board, and let stand until cool enough to handle, about 10 minutes.

To make the dipping sauce, in a small bowl, whisk together the yogurt, mustard, salt, and juice of the remaining 1/2 lemon.

Serve the artichokes warm, at room temperature, or chilled. When eating the artichokes, pull off the leaves, dip into the lemon-yogurt sauce, and eat the “meat” off of the bottom half of each leaf, discarding the leaves. Once all of the leaves have been eaten, the artichoke heart will remain. With a knife or spoon, scrape out and discard the inedible fibrous part (called the “choke”) covering the artichoke heart. The remaining bottom of the artichoke is the heart. Cut into pieces and dip into sauce to eat.

Makes 2 servings.

Monday, November 8, 2010

sunday - black bean and quinoa-stuffed bell peppers

The filling in this tasty stuffed bell pepper dish would make a great side dish on its own, but it's also a nice vegetarian entrée. I based the dish on this recipe from the Humane Society's website (who knew the Humane Society had recipes?). The original recipe was written by Isa Chandra-Moskowitz, author of Vegan with a Vengeance--I changed quite a bit based on the ingredients I had on hand, including adding cheese (if you want to keep the recipe vegan, simply omit the cheese). We also had an arugula salad with goat cheese and pepitas (pumpkin seeds), tossed with lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper.

Black Bean and Quinoa-Stuffed Bell Peppers

4 large red bell peppers
1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed
1 cup water
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 cups cooked or 1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup salsa (I used tomatillo salsa), plus additional for serving
1/4 cup crumbled queso fresco or shredded Monterey Jack cheese (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350º F.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cut the tops off the peppers and remove the seeds. Add the peppers to the boiling water and cook for 5 minutes. Carefully remove peppers with tongs, draining any water from inside the cavities. Set aside.

Add quinoa and water to a medium saucepan, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, and simmer, covered, for 12 to 15 minutes or until water is absorbed and quinoa is tender (or cook according to package instructions). Set aside.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Sauté the onions until translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Add garlic, chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt, and pepper, and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the cooked quinoa and beans, and stir until heated through, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in salsa and cheese (if using).
Stuff each pepper with the filling. Stand them upright in a baking dish, and bake for 15 minutes. Serve with additional salsa, if desired.

Makes 4 servings.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

meal plan

I got a LOT of produce at the farmers' market yesterday with big plans to pickle tons of veggies this week. I spent $39 (much more than usual) and brought home cauliflower, romanesco, green beans, Brussels sprouts, carrots, celeriac, beets, turnips, sweet potatoes, artichokes, delicata squash, arugula, bell peppers, chiles, onions, pears, and apples.

Here's this week's meal plan:

Meal 1: bell peppers stuffed with quinoa and black beans, salad
Meal 2: seared scallops, smashed celeriac, grilled artichokes
Meal 3: pork chops au poivre, Brussels sprouts, sweet potato-turnip mash
Meal 4: salmon with pepita-lime butter, roasted delicata squash & pears, salad
Meal 5: chicken with creamy chive sauce, roasted romanesco, brown rice

Saturday, November 6, 2010

thursday - fish tacos with black beans

Thursday night we had delicious fish tacos with mahi mahi, cabbage, avocado, tomatillo salsa, and queso fresco. I know a lot of people shy away from the cheese/fish combination, but what's a taco without a bit of cheese? If you can't find queso fresco, you could stir together sour cream, lime juice, and lime zest for a tasty lime crema. I based the fish marinade on this recipe from, which I have posted about before. Courtney used leftover cabbage salad on his tacos, which he really enjoyed, and I used plain shredded cabbage on mine. Either way, the cabbage adds a nice crunch.

I also made a big pot of black beans in my slow cooker using this recipe from Kalyn's Kitchen. I halved the recipe (and still had enough left over to freeze), used water instead of chicken broth, and used dried oregano instead of dried cilantro. It's a basic, easy recipe for beans--adding chopped onion and green chiles would be a nice touch for next time. Make sure to soak the beans the night before you plan to cook them. We also had leftover beet salad from Wednesday night.

The very green topping station:

And the finished plate:

Fish Tacos

1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped, plus more for garnish
1 pound mahi mahi or other flaky white fish
8 soft corn tortillas

Tomatillo salsa
Queso fresco, crumbled
Shredded cabbage
1 avocado, sliced
Fresh cilantro, chopped
1 lime, cut into wedges

Pour the olive oil into a small bowl and add the chili powder, oregano, cumin, and cilantro. Mix well. Place the fish on a dish and pour the marinade over it, making sure to coat the fish well on both sides. Let marinate for 20 minutes.

Preheat broiler. Spray a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray. Remove the fish from the marinade and place on the baking sheet. Season the fish with salt. Broil the fish for 4 minutes, turn over, and cook for another 2 minutes. Transfer fish to a large bowl, and flake with a fork (or cut into strips). Check for seasoning and add more salt if necessary.

Place the tortillas on a plate and sandwich them between two slightly dampened paper towels. Microwave on high for 45 seconds. Place the warm tortillas in a towel-lined basket or plate and cover.

To assemble the tacos, place a heaping spoonful of the fish onto the center of a tortilla. Top with the salsa, queso fresco, cabbage, avocado, and cilantro. Serve with lime wedges.

Makes 4 servings.

Black Beans with Cilantro

2 cups dried black beans
3 cups water
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus additional for garnish
Salt and pepper, to taste
Queso fresco, crumbled (optional, for garnish)

Rinse beans and pick out any broken pieces. Place beans in a large pot, cover with cold water by several inches, and let soak overnight.

Drain beans, then place into a slow cooker along with the water, oregano, garlic powder, and bay leaves. Cook on low until beans are tender, 8 to 10 hours. (If you don't have a slow cooker, combine ingredients in a large, heavy pan and simmer on low for about 2 hours.) Remove and discard bay leaves. Stir in cilantro, and season with salt and pepper. Garnish with additional cilantro and queso fresco, if desired.

Makes 8 servings.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

wednesday - sirloin & salmon with beet & cabbage salads

These beet and cabbage salads from were tasty--nothing too spectacular, but nice, quick side dishes and a welcome change from usual creamy cole slaw recipes. The only changes I made to the original recipes were using canola oil instead of safflower oil and adding three small grated carrots to the beet salad. Also, I served them immediately rather than letting them stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. I broiled a salmon fillet (for Courtney) and a 4-ounce sirloin (for me) (both rubbed with olive oil, salt, and pepper, then broiled for about 4 minutes per side). Nothing too thrilling (especially when compared to Tuesday's pork and squash), but a very quick, flavorful meal.

tuesday - mustard-maple pork tenderloin, roasted delicata squash and onions, salad

I was so excited to eat this meal that I could barely even take time to snap a quick photo. I love the sweet and savory Dijon mustard-maple syrup sauce in this pork tenderloin recipe from I followed the recipe except for using rosemary instead of sage, and it's absolutely delicious (and easy!).

Even better, though, was the roasted delicata sqaush and onions, a recipe from this month's EatingWell magazine. It also had Dijon, maple syrup, and rosemary, so it paired nicely with the pork. I haven't had delicata squash before, and it's definitely my new favorite winter squash. Such a delicious flavor, better than the more common butternut squash, and it has a thin skin that doesn't require peeling before cooking. Hurrah! I love being able to eliminate a time-consuming step. I followed the recipe exactly and wouldn't have changed a thing. Expect to see more delicata squash here on The Best Pickle in the coming weeks.

I also served a simple salad of arugula, chevre, and pepitas, tossed with red wine vinaigrette (made up of red wine vinegar, olive oil, Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper).

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

monday - gnocchi with chickpeas, butternut squash, and kale

Last night I made a gnocchi dish that I've posted about before, based on a recipe from I stuck to my original recipe except that I used butternut squash rather than ambercup squash and rosemary instead of sage (it was raining and I didn't want to go out to the herb garden--luckily I had rosemary in the refrigerator!). This is a tasty, hearty meal that makes good use of winter squash and greens such as kale. It comes together surprisingly quickly--the squash is sliced thinly and simmers only briefly with the kale and gnocchi until tender.