Cauliflower “Pasta” with Meat Sauce

IMG_5317

I love pasta. What I don’t love is that sluggish/fluffy/heavy feeling I get after I stuff my face with gallons of that gluttonous gluten. The answer: cauliflower. Thanks to the internet, I recently found an amazing recipe for a cauliflower based pizza crust (recipe coming soon), and I realized that I can use cauliflower as a substitute for many traditionally wheat-based dishes. This cauliflower “pasta” leaves you satisfied, without feeling overfed. It’s a great compromise for a meal when you want something hearty, but want to stay healthy. I bought purple cauliflower because I thought it was pretty — but any color will do!

IMG_5287

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • 1 can of your favorite pasta sauce (I had almost a full can of Rao’s all purpose marinara sauce)
  • salt, kosher salt and chili peppers to taste
  • 1/2 Tb. olive oil
  • 1 head cauliflower

Time: 15 minutes

Serves: 4

First, wash your cauliflower and put it on a cutting board.

IMG_5290

Then, put a large pot on the stove with about 5 inches of water, and bring to a boil.

IMG_5293

While the water is boiling, cut the cauliflower into bite-sized pieces.

IMG_5295

If the water is boiling, add the cauliflower to the water, and boil for about 5 minutes.

IMG_5307

If the water has not quite boiled yet, start on your meat sauce. Put a big pan on the stove top, and add your olive oil. Shake a few sprinkles of the red pepper flakes in the pan. This will add some extra heat to your pasta sauce.

IMG_5296

Once the oil is hot (depending on your stove, about one minutes), add the ground turkey.

IMG_5297

Because the pasta sauce has a lot of salt and spices, you don’t need to season the meat at this point in time. Using a flat ended spatula, break the meat up. Make sure your stove is on medium-high.

IMG_5298

Brown the meat for about five minutes.

IMG_5299

Don’t forget about the cauliflower. After five minutes of boiling, check one small piece of cauliflower for done-ness (don’t use your fingers, that water is hot…). If it’s cooked, drain the cauliflower in a colander in the sink, just like you’d drain pasta (you can even rinse it with cold water to stop the cooking, if you’d like.) Leave the cauliflower in the colander until your sauce is ready.

IMG_5310

Once the meat is browned, add the sauce, bring to a boil, and turn the heat down to simmer.

IMG_5302 IMG_5303

Stir the sauce, and see if more spice is needed. If it’s not salty enough, add salt. If it needs pepper, give it some pepper. If it’s perfect, don’t touch it! You can simmer the pasta for up to an hour if you’d like, or you can serve it immediately. If you have some time, simmering the sauce enhances the flavor, and you can use the time to do other things around the house, read the paper, or check up on your stocks.

IMG_4815

IMG_5305

When you’re ready to eat, ladle the cauliflower onto a plate and top with sauce. Enjoy your “pasta”!

IMG_5311

Delicata Squash Stuffed with Ground Turkey, Quinoa, and Chard

IMG_5031

Last week, I was lamenting that it was so hot, I could not bring myself to turn on the oven. This week, the weather took a cooler turn, and I was inspired to whip up an autumn-inspired meal. This recipe really hits the spot on those cooler evenings. It’s also got a lot of leafy greens in it, but doesn’t taste like it at all. It’s prefect for those nights when you’re asking yourself: “what am I going to do with all this chard?” It’s also really fun to make — let’s stuff some squash!

Serves: 2

Time: 35 minutes

Difficulty: Easy

IMG_4982

IMG_4995IMG_4989

Ingredients:

  • 2 small delicata squashes
  • 1 cup arugula
  • 1 small bunch chard
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 Tb. minced garlic
  • 1 Tb. Olive oil
  • 1/3 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1/2 lb. ground turkey
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • a dash of red pepper flakes

Preparation:

First, preheat your oven to 375 degrees. While the oven is heating up, chop up your greens (and bell pepper):

IMG_5007

IMG_4996

using a big knife, cut the delicata squash length-wise, and scoop out the seeds. You’ll be left with four little squash “boats”.

IMG_5001

Brush the delicata squash interiors with 1/2 Tb. of the olive oil, and gently sprinkle with 1 tsp. of kosher salt. Place the squash on a baking sheet covered with aluminum foil, and bake for 30-35 minutes at 375 degrees.

IMG_5004

While the squash is roasting, cook your ground turkey on the stove top. Put a large, heavy bottomed pan on a burner set to medium-high. Throw the remaining 1/2 Tb. of olive oil in the pan and add the minced garlic and a few shakes of the red pepper. I have a gallon-sized jug of minced garlic in my refrigerator. I highly recommend that you get your own jar of minced garlic — you don’t have to buy a gallon, but it’s great stuff, and doesn’t expire for years, so why not?! Having garlic already minced and ready to go really cuts down on the cooking time. It is also a good way to avoid those sticky, smelly garlic hands that I cannot avoid when I actually chop up a garlic clove. The red pepper flakes will add heat to the dish. If you like it spicy, add more. If you don’t like spicy, add only a bit, or omit. I use a tablespoon of garlic because I love garlic. Feel free to use less (or more…)

IMG_5009

Saute the garlic and red pepper flakes over medium-high heat for about 1-2 minutes. The garlic should turn a nutty brown, but shouldn’t smoke and turn black. Garlic is very heat-sensitive. If it starts to get too hot, turn down the heat, or simply lift the pan off the stovetop. Stir constantly.

After the garlic is toasted, add the chopped chard to the pan.

IMG_5010

Cook for about a minute, while stirring, until the chard wilts. You will not really taste the chard in the finished product, but it adds a lot of nutrients, and is a good use for this ubiquitous winter vegetable.

IMG_5013

After the chard has cooked, add the chopped bell pepper and arugula:

IMG_5014

Saute over medium-high for about a minute, and then add the ground turkey:

IMG_5015

Season the turkey with the remainder of the kosher salt. Using a spatula with a flat edge, break up the turkey into little pieces, and the stir until the turkey is cooked — about 3-5 minutes. The turkey will not be pink when it is cooked. You do not want to eat pink turkey.

IMG_5017

IMG_5018

Add the quinoa and cook. I had left over quinoa from last night’s dinner. If you don’t have quinoa lying around, just follow the direction on the box/bag. Quinoa is very high in protein, is gluten-free, and tastes great.

IMG_5020

After the turkey is cooked, turn the stovetop down to simmer, and wait for the squash to cook. After thirty minutes, check the squash. It should be firm, but not too hard (ask, can I cut into this?) Take out the squash from the stove, and turn off the stove top. Using a spoon, spatula, or culinary weapon of your choice, stuff the squash. After the delicious mixture has been evenly divided between the squashes, top with mozzarella. Place the stuffed squashes back in the oven for five more minutes.

IMG_5024

Take the squash out of the oven, and you’ve got dinner! Enjoy!

IMG_5027

(The dish was so good, that we ate it all before I could get a “pretty picture” of the plated meal…oh well)

Fresh Herb, Corn, and Tomato Couscous Melange with Feta and a Hardboiled Egg

IMG_4918

Even though it’s technically fall, it has been unforgivingly hot lately. When the weather is sweltering, I don’t want a heavy meal. Thinking about eating pot roast or brisket makes me want to cry. This recipe is a great solution for those too hot/just can’t days when the thought of turning on the oven is just unbearable. It’s also delicious, simple to create, and vegetarian. The fresh mint and basil really make the dish (don’t use dried herbs), and the feta adds a tangy touch that really brings all of the ingredients together. Give this recipe a shot for a satisfying supper that is perfect for any evening, whether it’s 12 degrees or 100.

IMG_4902

IMG_4866

Ingredients:

  • 2 ears of corn
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 4 large tomatoes, and a handful of small ones
  • 1 small tub of feta
  • a handful of arugula
  • 1 bunch mint
  • 1 bunch basil
  • 2 cups of couscous
  • 2 eggs

Serves: 2

Time: 15 minutes

Instructions:

Eggs

Start by boiling your eggs. There are so many ways to make hardboiled eggs. If you have a way that you like, go for it. If you have no idea how to hard boil an egg, the following is a pretty foolproof method. Put your eggs in a small saucepan, and cover with water, about an inch over the eggs.

IMG_4901

IMG_4868

Place the saucepan with the eggs on the stovetop, and cover with a lid. Turn the stovetop up to high, and bring the water to boil. Once the water is boiling (you’ll know because there’s a rumbling noise), wait about one minute, and turn the stove off. Keep the eggs covered, and set a timer for ten minutes.

Couscous

We had some left over couscous from the night before, so we just pulled it out of the refrigerator and put it in a a bowl. If you don’t have left-over-couscous, just follow the instruction on the box of couscous. Usually, it only take about 5-10 minutes to make. Do this at the same time you’re hardboiling your eggs.

IMG_4870

Melange

While your eggs are hardboiling, chop everything up! Add the couscous, and then add all the chopped ingredients to a large bowl.

Arugula — it adds great nutrients and a peppery bite:

IMG_4872

Bell Pepper:

IMG_4877

IMG_4878

Tomatoes:

IMG_4882

Fresh Mint and Basil — you can use as much or as little as you like. I love fresh herbs!:

IMG_4875

Using a big knife (or serrated steak knife), cut the corn off the cob directly into the bowl of deliciousness:

IMG_4884

Add the feta (again, you can use as much or as little as you like. I used the whole tub…):

IMG_4893

Toss everything together, and admire how lovely it all looks:

IMG_4896

At this point in time, your eggs should be done. After the timer buzzes, drain the eggs, and run cold water over them to stop the cooking. When the eggs are cool enough, crack them, and remove the shells.

IMG_4905

Using a large spoon, shovel the couscous melange into bowls, and cut the eggs in half. Place the eggs on top of the melange, and you’re done! It should look great, and taste even better!

IMG_4917

What do I do with all of these Vegetables? Tikka Masala Slow Cooker Vegetables with Tofu

We recently joined a community supported agriculture association, and have been so lucky to receive a small box of locally grown organic produce every other week. The fruit and vegetables are spectacular. They are ripe, juicy, and always in season. Plus, they deliver this magical produce box right to our door. The only problem is that sometimes we have a handful of greens and things that we’re not quite sure what to with. This recipe is a result of being delivered a bunch of vegetables, and wanting to do more than simply roast them. This recipe really only requires shopping and chopping. It is that easy. Just like last week, we’re doing this one in the slow cooker as well. If you haven’t rushed out and bought one yet, now is the time. This is what we work with: <a href=”http://www.amazon.com/Cuisinart-MSC-600-Central-6-Quart-Multi-Cooker/dp/B008YEXC22/ref=sr_1_sc_1?s=home-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1412549183&sr=1-1-spell&keywords=cuisnary+multicooker”>Slowcooker</a> .

Can you tell I’m excited for autumn?

IMG_4801

Tikka Masala Slow Cooker Vegetables with Tofu

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch carrots
  • 1-2 lbs. fingerling potatoes
  • 1 acorn squash or other winter squash
  • 1/2 white onion
  • 1 pack firm tofu
  • 1 can Safeway Tikka Masala or Butter Chicken “Simmer Sauce” (sold next to the pasta sauce at Safeway)

Serves: 4 (with leftovers)

Time: 10 minutes preparation/6-10 hours in the slow cooker

Directions:

Grab your slowcooker, put it on your counter, and cut everything up! First, drain the tofu, and sandwich it between two paper towels. You want to get as much water out of the tofu as possible, so that it will soak up all the other delicious flavors. Let the paper towels soak up the excess water while you’re doing your chopping.

IMG_4769

Wash and dry all your produce, and then chop it up. I started with chopping my carrots into inch long pieces:

IMG_4770

Then, cut up your fingerling potatoes into 1-inch pieces as well:

IMG_4773

Clean and cut your acorn squash.

IMG_4790

Acorn squash is gorgeous, but it’s really difficult to cut through. If they sell pre-cut squash at your local grocery store, I would recommend buying it. Cutting up the squash was the most challenging part of making this meal.

IMG_4779 IMG_4780

Last, cut up your onion. If you put your onion in the refrigerator before chopping, you’ll cry less. I promise.

IMG_4775

Once you cut up all your produce, chop your tofu into 1″ x 1″ cubes. They don’t have to be perfect — don’t get out your ruler!

IMG_4782

Transfer everything into your slowcooker. It should look something like this:

IMG_4783

Cover everything with the simmer sauce,

IMG_4786

IMG_4787

and give it a good stir:

IMG_4788

Sometimes I kind of feel like it’s cheating to just use a store-bought sauce, but this stuff is so good, and it makes dinner super easy. It’s ok to get a little help from the grocery store every now and again. We are hungry and tired, after all.

Set the slowcooker to “low”, and go to work.

IMG_4789

When you come home from work, ladle your delicious dinner into bowls and enjoy. IMG_4793

You can serve it on top of your favorite grain, with a side salad, or just by itself.

IMG_4807

Slowcooker Three Bean Turkey Chili with Grilled Cheese Strips

IMG_4741

Last week we had rain for the first time in a long time. It was one of those days where you wake up, and don’t want to get out of bed. While we really need rain here in the Bay Area, I found myself lingering under the covers, feeling like, well, this:

IMG_4691

I do love fall, and one of my favorite things about the colder weather is the heartier food. My wife had the genius idea to make some chili on this cold and blustery day. This recipe is a combination of several different recipes that I’ve seen on the internet, and it turned out perfectly. In the past, I have had trouble with making my chili spicy enough, but this recipe has a really nice bite. I hope you enjoy this recipe. It’s very simple: you prepare it in the morning, and set the slow cooker on “low” all day long. When you come home from work, just ladle out the chili. I like to pair chili with grilled cheese sandwich strips because they are the best thing ever. This recipe results in a very good/moderately healthy meal that is guaranteed to warm you and your loved ones up, even on the coldest nights.

IMG_4697IMG_4694

IMG_4702

Ingredients:

Chili: 

  • 1 small white onion, diced
  • 1 cup corn (I use flash frozen)
  • 1.25 lbs. ground turkey
  • 1 can kidney beans
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 can white beans
  • 2 small cans diced tomatoes with green chilies
  • 1 very small can tomato sauce
  • kosher salt to taste (about 1 Tb.)
  • a few grinds of fresh ground black pepper (about 1/2 tsp.)
  • 2 Tb. chili powder
  • 1/2 Tb. ground cumin
  • 1/2 Tb. garlic power
  • 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp. red pepper (ground cayenne)

Grilled Cheese:

  • sourdough bread
  • sliced cheese. I prefer pepperjack.

Instructions:

First, dice your onion. Then, brown your turkey and onions on the stovetop or in the slowcooker.

IMG_4698

Using a spatula or wooden spoon, break up the ground turkey into small pieces, and stir for about two minutes until the turkey is cooked (i.e. no longer pink). My slowcooker has a “sauté” function, which allows you to brown your meat right in the crockpot. I love this feature. It also produces one less dish to wash, and makes this a truly “one pot meal”!

IMG_4699

Add all of the seasoning, and give it a good stir:

IMG_4704

Open up all of your cans, and add the contents to the slowcooker. I start with the beans. Make sure you drain out the liquid from the cans before tossing the beans into the pot:

IMG_4705

Add the tomatoes with the green chilies:

IMG_4706

Add the tomato sauce:

IMG_4708

Throw in the corn:

IMG_4709

Using your spatula or wooden spoon, swirl all the ingredients together:

IMG_4711

Put the top on your slowcooker, and make sure its plugged in, and set to “low.”

IMG_4710

Go to work, and let the chili cook for about 6-10 hours (depending on the length of your day).

Grilled Cheese:

When you get home, pull out four slices of sourdough bread, and make two cheese sandwiches.  The next step is to make the cheese sandwich toasty. I like to do this with a panini press.

IMG_4732

Our kitchen is teeming with culinary gadgets, and the panini press is something that we use fairly frequently (seriously).

IMG_4728

If you don’t have a panini press, don’t fret — you can make a grilled cheese sandwich about a thousand different ways. If you put a pan on the stovetop and set it to high, you can just place the sandwich in the pan, and the bread will toast up and the cheese will melt. As soon as the cheese starts to melt, flip the sandwich. It’s really good if you butter the pan and butter both sides of the bread. It’s also really good if you just put the bread right on the pan. Your choice.

After you’ve crafted your grilled cheese, cut it into thin strips:

IMG_4734

Taste your chili and make sure it’s salty and spicy enough. If it’s not, add more salt and/or spices. When it’s just right, spoon it into a bowl, and top with shredded cheese (optional) and your grilled cheese strips. Enjoy!

IMG_4739

Hungry & Tired Reflects on a Delicious Summer Meal

I love summer — the hot days, constant barbecue, and the prevalence of rose in the afternoon. When fall begins to emerge, I like to think about some of the wonderful times I have had during the summer. Most of those times involve food! I’ve had many wonderful summer meals, and wanted to share one particularly delightful evening with you.

IMG_4345

This meal was incredible — we smoked some ribs, made with a rub and a spicy plum sauce from Weber’s Way To Grill, which is an absolutely fantastic grilling manifesto. I love inventing my own recipes, but it’s also fun and instructive to learn from other people who make delicious items. Smoking the ribs makes them super succulent, and the sauce is just really good. It cuts through a hot night like nothing else. 

IMG_4298

IMG_4304

For the sides, we made Thomas Keller’s creamed corn and a panzanella salad (Italian grilled bread with heirloom tomatoes, basil, soaked in olive oil and balsamic vinegar). Mr. Keller’s Ad Hoc at Home cookbook contains the best creamed corn recipe on the planet. I think the secret is cayenne pepper and lime zest. Also lots of butter and cream. Mr. Keller sure can cook, and I recommend any of his books for all aspiring chefs (and for those who like looking at really pretty photos of food). We also had these great rolls from a Danish Bakery in Oakland. 

 IMG_4340

Top the meal off with a big glass of wine, some fancy soda, and wonderful company. And of course, a dog who requests a plate of his own.

 

Salmon Baked in Foil with Lemon and Fennel

photo 2 copy

After a BBQ-heavy long labor day weekend, welcome the [short] week with a simple salmon suggestion. It’s a light, healthy, and fast dish that can be served any time of the year, but is especially lovely at the end of the summer. It also requires minimal skill (i.e. can you cut up a tomato? You’ve got this!) and is one of those dishes that looks pretty on the plate. I serve this recipe on a bed of sautéed baby kale and a side of tomatoes kissed with balsamic vinegar for color and extra nutrients. They’re pretty tasty, too.

photo (47)

Serves: 4 People

Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 large filets of salmon
  • 4 tomatoes
  • 2 lemons
  • 1/2 bulb of fennel and fronds
  • 4 cups baby kale
  • 1 Tb. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt

Instructions

Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. On a baking sheet, put one large sheet of aluminum foil, and run another sheet on top of that, perpendicular to it, so it looks like an “X”. Place your salmon filets (skin side down if yours have skin) on the aluminum foil.

photo 4

Coat the salmon with 1/2 Tb. olive oil and 1/2 tsp. kosher salt. Then, chop up your fennel bulb:

photo 2

Chop your fennel fronds (these give such a delightful flavor, I promise!)

photo 1

Cut up your two lemons into thin circles

photo 3

Take your chopped fennel, and your lemon, and layer these on top of the seasoned salmon. The fennel bulb has a slight licorice aroma, that diminishes as it’s roasted. The fronds taste fresh, like herbs. And, lemons give the salmon a zing and a brightness that brings out the almost nutty flavors in the fish. 

photo 5

Wrap up the tin foil into a packet. Start with the innermost tin foil, and then do the same with the outer one

photo 3 copy

photo 4 copy

Place your packet in the 400 degree oven, and set the timer fro 25 minutes. While the salmon is baking, you will chop your tomatoes and sauté your baby kale.

Chop the  tomatoes and drizzle them with 1tsp. of balsamic. Let the tomatoes soak up the balsamic while the salmon cooks. They’ll pair nicely with the lemon infused salmon.

photo 5 copy 

Five minutes before the salmon is done, place your baby kale in a large pan on the stove top. Turn the stove up to “high”, throw in 2 Tb. of water, and quickly stir. The kale will almost immediately begin to wilt. The kale should be completely sautéed within 1-2 minutes. 

photo 2 copy 2

When it’s done, transfer to plates, in preparation for plating the salmon. The buzzer should be going off on the oven soon. Pull out your packet, and using oven mitts, carefully unwrap. It should look something like this:

photo (47) 2

You can tell the salmon is done because the salmon will be sweating white, as you can see above.

All that’s left is plating the salmon on top of the baby kale, and arranging the tomatoes around the plate. Dinner is served!

photo 5 copy 2