Category Archives: Recipes
A humble can of tuna can be magically transformed into a healthy, quick lunch with the addition of just a few fresh ingredients. This is an especially good meal on a hot day when turning on the oven seems torturous, but it’s equally good whenever you feel like assembling rather than cooking.
Start with a can of tuna (I am extremely partial to Trader Joe’s tuna packed in olive oil.)
Several cherry tomatoes cut in half
One diced celery rib with leaves
A bit of avocado makes a nice addition
One tablespoon bottled or homemade salad dressing
Drain your can of tuna and place the chunks in a bowl. Add the rest of your diced ingredents. (You may want to add a little salt and pepper. Your choice.) Mix ingredients well with the salad dressing. Super fast, super good.
This recipe is a stress-reliever. After taking a hammer to a bag of nuts, I promise you will feel totally zen…and maybe even hungry for a little granola. It’s also cheaper and healthier than the granola you’ll find in the store.
4 cups rolled oats (regular, not quick-cooking)
1 cup nuts (almonds, walnuts, peanuts, etc)
1/2 cup dried fruit (cranberries, blueberries, raisins, etc)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1-2 teaspoons cane sugar (or brown sugar)
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teapsoon salt
1 tablespoon flax seeds (optional)
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Place your nuts in a sealable freezer bag. Take a hammer or mallet and smash the nuts into small pieces. I usually do this on the floor of the garage. It’s pretty fun.
In a large bowl, stir the granola and nuts together. Place this mixture in a baking dish or a cookie pan. Bake for 15 minutes, stirring once with a spatula half way through.
While the oats and nuts are baking, mix the sugar, flour, cinnamon (or pumpkin spice) and salt together in a bowl. In another small bowl, whip the honey and oil together with a wisk. (This won’t really mix completely but try to combine them a bit.) Add the vanilla to the honey and oil and wisk a little bit more.
Remove the oats and nuts from the oven and place them on the stovetop or a burn-proof area. Stir them with the spatula again. Add the contents of the sugar/flour bowl and mix everything together. Then add the honey and oil, stirring everything once again. Add the dried fruit and the flax seeds, if you’re using them. Spread the granola with the spatula so it forms an even layer in your pan.
Bake for another 10 to 12 minutes, again stirring once half way through. It should be golden. Be careful not to let it burn. Let your nose be your guide.
When your granola is done, let it cool, and then place in a resealable bag or storage container. I use one of those plastic cereal containers with the flip top.
This granola tastes great added to yogurt or just eaten by itself. It’s a perfect way to enjoy the fall weather.
The heat wave we experienced the last few weeks worked wonders on my pepper plants. They kicked into high gear like never before. (The heat was merciless on my other, more senstive plants, but that’s a story for another post.) I ended up with more habaneros peppers than I knew what to do with. I decided to try pickling them. (By the way, this recipe will work equally well with serrano, or any other, hot pepper.)
You actually don’t need a huge pepper bounty for this recipe, just enough to fill a regular mason jar. I had enough habaneros for two jars. For this recipe you’ll also need one bunch of chopped green onions, a couple of peeled and chopped carrots (I had baby carrots in the refrigerator, so I used those), and three or four cloves of garlic. For extra flavor, you will want to choose some herbs. I clipped some fresh oregano, thyme, and ventured into the spice cupboard for some rainbow peppercorns. And don’t forget the salt.
After your onions and carrots are chopped, your garlic is peeled, and your herbs are de-stemmed, you’ll want to cut little slits in the sides of the habaneros. This will keep them from bursting when you cook them in your pot.
Place the peppers, onions, carrots, and garlic in a non-aluminum pot over medium heat. Add a tablespoon of olive oil and cook for about five minutes, until the peppers are softened.
Now it’s time to add your vinegar, water, herbs, and salt and pepper. I used two cups of vinegar and two cups of water for my double batch, but if you’re only filling one mason jar stick with one cup of vinegar and one cup of water.
Bring the ingredients to a boil and simmer for about ten minutes. Let the mixture cool and then pour into mason jar(s). Cap and refrigerate. The pickled habaneros will keep for two months.
Here is the Asian Cucumber Salad recipe I promised you. Are you overrun with cucumbers right now too? I’ve been eating them in just about everything, especially salad. This recipe for Asian Cucumber Salad is both sweet and spicy, the perfect accompaniment to a hot summer afternoon. One cucumber makes enough for two people. The only thing this recipe requires of you is a tiny bit of patience, since you need to let it marinate for about 30 minutes before serving.
Thinly slice one cucumber
Finely chop one hot chili
Put the cucumber and chili into a bowl, add a pinch of sugar and a pinch of salt, then cover the cucumber and chili with rice vinegar. Let it rest in the fridge for 30 minutes before enjoying.
Ah, my love for Jacques Pepin runs deep. I have enjoyed several of his cookbooks in the past, but his newest one, Essential Pepin has all of his best work rolled into one volume. It also comes with a useful DVD featuring tips that range from how to tie your apron to the proper way to roast a chicken.
His recipe for Green Pizza was the perfect fit for our lazy weekend when no one was feeling much like cooking, but appetites were still voracious. The “pizza” uses pita bread rather than actual dough. The recipe features pretty basic ingredients that most people already have on hand or can improvise with whatever happens to be hanging around in the fridge.
The first step is to take a pita pocket and cut it into two pieces so that you end up with two pizza rounds. Jacques calls for one cup of mesclun, 1/2 cup of diced tomato, 2 tablespoons of chopped onion, salt & pepper, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and 1 1/2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese. Well, you probably know by now that I’m not really one for exact measurements. (Also, I was making two pita pizzas- instead of one like in the recipe- since I don’t think Hubs would have been too pleased to watch me enjoy my delicious meal without him.) So I kind of went rogue on Mr. Pepin’s quantities and slightly deviated from his ingredients too. I did have a bag of baby lettuce that was about to kick the bucket, so I used that for my greens. Then I grabbed a tomato from the garden and chopped it. A tiny onion was still hanging out in the ever-so-slightly-abandoned raised bed garden, so I snatched it up and sliced it into rings.
I preheated the oven to 400 degrees. Then I layed the pita rounds side by side on a baking sheet and topped each one with the greens, the tomato slices, and the onions. A pinch of salt and pepper was followed by a scant drizzle of olive oil. Finally, the Parmesan cheese was liberally showered onto both pizzas. Now they were ready for the oven. These cook very quickly, so be sure not to forget about them. About four minutes is really all they need, or until the cheese is melted.
These Green Pizzas turned out great and were really easy. There are several other pizza variations in Essential Pepin that I will try in the future.
By the way, if you really want to roll deep with Jacques, check out his autobiography, The Apprentice. Great read.
Here is my homemade version of the Trader Joe’s Margherita Pizza. All you need is a package frozen puff pastry, one large sliced tomato, some shredded cheese, and a few chopped herbs.
Before you start assembling the ingredients, thaw out one puff pastry from the package. (They usually come in packs of two.) The brand I used took about 40 minutes to thaw. After the puff pastry is ready, unfold it and place on a baking sheet. Then preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Slice one big tomato and get yourself some herbs. I use chopped basil and oregano leaves.
Sprinkle the shredded cheese on the puff pastry. (I’ve used both mozzarella and cheddar cheese.) Place the tomatoes on top of the cheese then scatter the herbs over the tomatoes.
Bake in the oven for approximately 20 to 30 minutes, until the puff pastry is fluffy and golden. Let the pizza rest for a few minutes before slicing. Enjoy!