Category Archives: Uncategorized

Zucchini Avocado Muffins

This began as an experiment in creating a green muffin. The result was several shades shy of the green I had hoped to achieve, but the taste and the texture: better than I had even hoped. The lesson here is that green is not easy, but I’m still working on it.

The idea followed my recent Facebook post on Beet Soup in a mason jar as a wildly nutritious homemade Christmas gift — Holiday gifts in a mason jara delicious and off-the-grid diversion from the season’s obsession with butter and sugar. Since the beautiful beet-red soup topped with a a little feta  was the perfect combination of Christmas colors, I said to myself, “Wouldn’t it be cool to serve this soup (or to give it as a gift) with an equally nutritious and outrageously tasty green muffin that would take the whole Christmas theme up to a whole other level?”  Artificial dyes were out of the question.

I began, of course, with zucchini, substituted avocado for most of the oil, and then chopped in about a quarter of a cup of fresh parsley. Specks of green from the parsley came through in the final product, which might have had a slightly greenish tinge, but was basically just a nice golden color.Zucchini Avocado parsley muffins

I haven’t given up. I had been skittish about tossing in too much parsley in a non-savory muffin, but next time, I’m doubling or tripling the parsley, tossing in green onions and some other herbs and switching over to savory.

Regardless of how that one turns out, this recipe will remain high on my list as a tasty, not-too-sweet muffin that’s perfect for breakfast, as a snack or with a salad or bowl of soup.

Ingredients

  • 1 – 3/4 cup grated zucchini
  • 1 apple finely chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1/2 cup avocado mashed with a fork (about 1 large)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 – 1/2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup raw sugar
  • 1/4 cup ground flax
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup plain, Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3/4 chopped walnuts

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 375.
  • Rough chop 2 medium zucchini and add to a food processor. Pulse until zucchini is nearly pureed. Add  1 – 3/4 cups of the chopped zucchini to a mixing bowl. Peel and core one apple. Chop very fine or pulse in the food processor. Add apple to zucchini along with 1/4 cup of chopped parsley leaves.
  • Whisk together flour, sugar, cinnamon, salt, baking powder and flax.
  • Peel and remove the pit from one ripe avocado. Mash avocado with a fork and add to a large mixing bowl along with eggs, yogurt and vegetable oil. Fold in zucchini mixture followed by dry ingredients and walnuts.
  • Stir until just combined.
  • Line a 12-cup muffin tin with liners or coat with non-stick spray. Divide batter among the 12 cups,  Cook on the center rack at 375 for 25-30 minutes.
  • Let cooked muffins sit for about 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool.

 

Salted Caramel Pudding

I’m not sure where or when the current salted caramel craze got it’s start, but suddenly, it seems that salted caramel everything is everywhere.

I couldn’t be happier.

At least in Austin, the question of “where were you the first time you tasted salted caramel ice cream?” tends to spark some highly passionate recollections.

This afternoon, as threats of an unseasonable cold snap dominated every conversation, I got to thinking about comfort foods. Having made a few batches of vanilla and chocolate pudding lately (high up on any list of comfort foods) I got to thinking that it was time to try my hand at salted caramel. A brief Google search and I happened upon The Luna Cafe blog, which had a recipe for Salted Caramel Pudding, along with a fabulous primer on homemade puddings. The site was packed with hundreds of great recipes, so I subscribed and highly recommend it.

Once I was able to pull myself away from The Luna Cafe site, I tried my own spin on a Salted Caramel Pudding: 

DE licious.

Most pudding recipes call for cornstarch, which isn’t on my 100 Ingredient List, but flour has proven to be a fine substitute. Simply use twice as much flour as corn starch. Raw sugar worked wonderfully, and also served as a beautiful topping for the hot pudding — lending a hint of creme brulee crunch.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups whole milk at room temperature
  • 6 Tbsp. flour
  • 3  egg yolks, room temperature
  • ¾ cup raw sugar (regular, white sugar would also work)
  • 2 Tbsp.  unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp. Kosher salt

Directions

  • Set up ingredients on stovetop prior to cooking:
  • Pour 2 cups of milk into a large measuring cup. Set aside.
  • In a medium-sized bowl, whisk egg yolks with 1/2 cup of milk. Set aside.
  • In another medium-sized bowl, whisk flour the the other 1/2 cup milk. Set aside.
  • To make the caramel, add sugar to a stainless steel saucepan. Set over medium heat and whisk as the sugar begins to melt. Remove from heat once sugar has melted thoroughly and is a medium caramel color.
  • Slowly and carefully whisk in 2 cups of room temperature milk. Stand aside as the mixture will appear to temporarily erupt. Don’t be concerned if the sugar solidifies into a single mass. Once the mixture has stopped sputtering, return the mixture to medium heat and simmer, whisking constantly.
  • Once the hardened caramel has melted, whisk in the flour and milk mixture and bring to a low simmer for 2 minutes or so until the pudding thickens. Decrease heat.
  • Ladle 1/2 cup of the hot pudding mixture into the egg yolk mixture and whisk rapidly. Add another 1/2 cup of the hot pudding and continue whisking.
  • Return the egg yolk mixture to the saucepan and continue stirring the pudding on medium-low heat until it thickens.
  • Remove from heat. Add butter, vanilla and salt.
  • Strain the pudding through a wire mesh  (or skip this step if the possibility of lumps is not a problem).
  • Pour into serving bowls and sprinkle with raw sugar.
  • Cover the surface of the pudding with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming.
  • Allow to cool slightly and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.
  • Serve chilled.

 

Quinoa Tabbouleh

I’ve been on a minor mission this year to use quinoa whenever possible. Quinoa is the current “it” grain, and that’s for some very good reasons. What’s not to love about an ancient, gluten-free, nutrient-dense, protein-packed powerhouse, cultivated by the Incas more than 5,000 years ago?

a quinoa side or salad

Quinoa Anything can be a vegetarian main course, and it can almost always be switched out for cous cous or rice. I say almost, because a few months ago, I went a little haywire and decided to try quinoa pudding — instead of rice pudding.  Bad idea. It tasted like freshly mowed grass. Lesson learned: stick to savory quinoa dishes.

As far as Quinoa Tabbouleh: Perfect

Ingredients

  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 large cucumber chopped well
  • 2 cups of cherry or grape tomatoes halved
  • 1 cup parsley chopped very fine
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions
  • 1/4 cup chopped, fresh basil*

*Classic tabbouleh calls for mint, which is not on my 100 Ingredient List — and I like it better with fresh basil.

Directions

  • Rinse quinoa and add to a saucepan with 1 1/2 cups of water and 1/2 tsp. salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat for 10 minutes until water is absorbed. Fluff with a fork.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together minced garlic, lemon juice and olive oil. Set aside
  • Chop cucumber, tomatoes, parsley, green onions and basil.
  • In a large bowl, combine cooked quinoa with chopped vegetables and herbs. Add dressing and stir gently. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

 

Moroccan Squash Stew

The motivation for this dish was simply a winter squash — a rather bulky vegetable, hanging out on the counter with no particular place to go.  And then there was me, with no particular ideas for what to cook. So a Moroccan situation evolved, as I’m one to believe that when  cinnamon, cumin, cayenne come together, it’s all about Morocco. This little experiment in not knowing what to cook was well received and bookmarked for an encore, but if I had it to do all over again (and I do) I would have tossed in some yellow raisins  and served it over quinoa. (Cous Cous did not make my list for the year.) Even though I had basically backed into a dish that I could call Moroccan, I was very close to calling this a tagine, until I sadly learned that the definition of a tagine is a Moroccan stew that was actually cooked in a tagine. So between now and the next time, I’m going to give some serious thought as to whether I need one of these adorable pots. I’m thinking that I do.

A Moroccan tagine: easily the coolest pot possible for cooking a spicy stew.
A Moroccan tagine: easily the coolest pot possible for cooking a spicy stew.

 

Ingredients

  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • One large or two small yellow onions cut into small wedges
  • One large winter squash, peeled, cored and chopped
  • 3 carrots, peeled and rough chopped
  • One half bunch of kale, torn  away from the stems and into small pieces
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 tsp. grated ginger
  • 4 oz. tomato paste
  • 1 1/2  cups vegetable stock
  • 14 1/2 oz. can of garbanzo beans, drained

Directions

  • Heat olive oil in a heavy pot.
  • Add onions and cook on medium-high heat for 5 minutes.
  • Combine chopped squash and carrots, and continue cooking for another 5 minutes before adding kale.
  • Add spices along with grated ginger.
  • Measure a cup and a half of vegetable stock along with 4 oz. of tomato paste and stir to combine.
  • Reduce heat and cover for 25 minutes.
  • Remove lid. Add garbanzo beans and continue cooking for another 10 minutes until garbanzos are heated through.
  • Remove from heat.
  • Serve warm with crusty bread or rolls.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Greek Week Superfood Recap

A very shallow dive into the Mediterranean Diet over the past week or so revealed that it does not require knowledge of the fish that swim in the Mediterranean Sea or the produce that grows near the shores of Alexandria or Morocco. That’s a good thing, because I did a little Google search on the fish that swim in the Mediterranean and found neither tuna nor salmon. What I did find was a very long list that included the Monrovia Doctor Fish, the Mediterranean Sand Eel, the Highfin Lizardfish and the Blackmouth Splitin — all of which sound scary and none of which are available at a fish counter in Austin.

Last week was indeed a big week for learning. After writing about some of my favorite foods, I’ve learned, once and for all how to spell tzatziki and spanakopita. So I’ve got that going for me.

Best as I can figure, aside from the absolute requirement of olive oil (cold pressed extra virgin) the Mediterranean Diet is fairly open ended, and just calls for a diet that’s centered around

  • Nuts, legumes and seeds,
  • Whole grains,
  • Fruits and vegetables,
  • Fish, and of course,
  • OLIVE OIL!

It seems a given that we also need to add to the list: LOTS OF GARLIC.

Here’s a list of the recipes that I had fun with over the past week or so, along with a few other recent posts that appear worthy of inclusion in the Mediterranean Diet.

 Quinoa Burgers (or Patties) with Tzatziki

Delicious on a salad or as a burger: quinoa with tzatziki
Delicious on a salad or as a burger: quinoa with tzatziki

 Walnut, Feta and Grape Salad

When purple grapes stand in for kalamata olives, a Greek salad takes on a whole new vibe
When purple grapes stand in for kalamata olives, a Greek salad takes on a whole new vibe

A Salad Nicoise Variation

 

A salad where simple ingredients all sit distinct in their own little corner is a very appealing concept --especially among kids.
A salad where simple ingredients all sit distinct in their own little corner is a very appealing concept –especially among kids.

An Olive Oil, Parsley and Garlic Spread

 

Garlic, Parsley, Olive Oil and a little salt: More flavor per square cm. than almost any spread out there.
Garlic, parsley, olive oil and a little salt: More flavor per square cm. than almost any spread out there.

 A Lentil, Rice and Vegetable Salad

A lentil recipe that's fresh and colorful -- versus the all-too-often stodgy status of the lentil
A lentil recipe that’s fresh and colorful — versus the all-too-often stodgy status of the lentil

A Phyllo-Free Spanakopita with Kale

Lighter than a quiche and packed with not just any dark, leavy greens -- but Kale, the king of the greens..
Lighter than a quiche and packed with not just any dark, leavy greens — but Kale, the king of the greens..

 A Citrusy Variation on Rice Pilaf

A Zesty Rice Pilaf with Orange Zest, Raisins, Green Onions, and Almonds
A Zesty Rice Pilaf with Orange Zest, Raisins, Green Onions, and Almonds

A Spinach Salad with Strawberries and an Orange Vinaigrette

 

A festive and refreshing strawberry and spinach salad with red onions and feta.
A festive and refreshing strawberry and spinach salad with red onions and feta.

A  Tomato Soup with Fresh Herbs

 

A hearty blend of tomatoes, vegetables and herbs in a soup that takes the basic tomato up a notch.
A hearty blend of tomatoes, vegetables and herbs in a soup that takes the basic tomato up a notch.

A Pasta Salad of Tuna, Kalamata, Olives and Feta

 

A salad to jump start your Mediteranean diet
The entire Mediteranean diet in one salad: fish, feta, olives, olive oil, tomatoes, greens

A Roasted Salmon over Greens and Roasted Vegetables

Elegant and easy salmon with roasted vegetables
A colorful, crowd-pleasing and easy mix of salmon and vegetables