03.16.2017

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This week on Food52 I shared my favorite way to cook dried beans and how to stretch a pot of humble beans into a week of family dinners.

I was always intimidated by cooking dried beans. I would either forget to soak them ahead of time (ahhhh!) or keep them simmering in a pot, only to find them undercooked at the end of the day. After a while, I began to shy away from recipes that suggested I try it again.

Discovering the simplicity of preparing dried beans in the slow cooker has thrown my trepidation out the window. You just combine a few ingredients and turn on the machine! A few hours later you have a perfect pot of beans. Life-changing. (But if you don’t have a slow cooker, fear not: I recommend the method outlined in this recipe.)

Click here to read the full story and get four recipes from Feeding a Family including: Slow Cooker Black Beans, Buckwheat Crepes with Delicata Squash, Black Beans & Avocado, Kale & Sweet Potato Tacos on Homemade Corn Tortillas, and Black Bean Quinoa Burgers.

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All photography by Elizabeth Cecil.

12.05.2016

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What’s happening around here? We cut our tree down / put our tree up, keep making / slurping Heidi Swanson’s Green Lentil Soup, and are playing Town Mountain’s I’m On Fire over and over and over. The winter trifecta. XO

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Green Lentil Soup: Curry Powder, Brown Butter, Coconut Milk & Chives from Super Natural Everyday

Serves 4 to 6

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, ghee, or extra-virgin coconut oil

1 large yellow onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

5 1/2 cups vegetable broth or water

1 1/2 cups green lentils or green split peas, picked over and rinsed

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 tablespoon Indian curry powder

1/2 cup coconut milk

Fine-grain sea salt

1 bunch fresh chives, minced

Combine the 2 tablespoons butter, onion, garlic, and red pepper flakes in a large soup pot over medium heat, stirring regularly, until the onions soften, a couple minutes. Add the vegetable broth and lentils and simmer, covered, until the lentils are tender. This usually takes 20 to 30 minutes, but can take as long as 50 minutes.

In the meantime, warm the 3 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan over medium heat and let it brown. When it starts to smell nutty and fragrant, stir in the curry powder and sauce until the spices are fragrant, less than a minute.

When the lentils are finished cooking, remove from the heat, stir in the coconut milk and 1/4 teaspoon salt, and puree with an immersion blender. You can leave the soup a bit chunky if you like, or puree until it is perfectly smooth. Stir in half of the spiced butter, taste, and add more salt, if needed, typically a couple of teaspoons if you used water instead of salted broth. Serve drizzled with the remaining spice butter and sprinkled with chives.

10.25.2016

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3 Ways to Spiffy Up Hot Dogs into Family Dinners, Well Beyond the Cookout by me is up on Food52 today.

Sure, hot dogs are a quick-to-prepare crowd favorite, but can they be a nutritious and interesting family dinner, too? The answer is-thankfully!-yes. Today, there’s a wide variety of farm-raised, grass-fed, all-beef hot dogs that make for speedy, satisfying, and anything-but-boring meals.

So, let’s plan a modern hot dog dinner, one perfect for a busy weeknight. First, visit your farmers market and pick out some locally-grown dogs. If you don’t have luck finding a local source, see the list of quality national brands below.

Next, tell the kids it’s hot dog night and pat yourself on the back when they actually jump up and down in excitement (rather than scowl) over the dinner plans. Pick a cooking method and topping combination from the suggestions below. Maybe you crisp the dogs on a griddle and slather them with leftover chili, or grill them and top with tangy Greek salad. Look to your leftovers and needy produce for hot dog topping and sauce inspiration…click here to read the whole story.

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Photography by Elizabeth Cecil.

 

01.06.2016

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If you are not on a January food cleanse you probably know someone who is or has, at the least, made some resolution about food. I have mixed feelings on winter cleanses (I write this while I am on day 4 of one – ha!). The benefits are pretty clear – from reestablishing healthy eating patterns to zapping that steady steam of holiday alcohol consumption. The tough part is that it is winter. Sure, there are fresh vegetables to be found but the offerings pale in comparison to warmer months.

If you are in some eating state between vegan, gluten-free, raw, dairy free, or some creative combination of these, here are my favorite cleanse recipes that fit most programs. But really, when it comes down to it, simply cutting out packaged and processed foods does 95% of the work.

I’m off to make a kale salad and hide the final half bottle of pinot under the sink.

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Brussels Sprout Salad with Avocado & Pumpkin Seeds

serves 6

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest plus 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1 pound brussels sprouts, trimmed and leaves separated
2 tablespoons raw hulled pumpkin seeds (pepitas), toasted
1 avocado, halved, pitted, peeled, and sliced

Whisk together lemon zest and juice and mustard in a bowl. Add oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking until emulsified. Season with salt and pepper.

In another bowl, toss dressing with brussels sprout leaves and pumpkin seeds. Gently stir in avocado, season with salt and pepper, and serve immediately.

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Winter Juice

makes 2 small glasses

6 carrots
1/2 a cucumber
2 apples
1-inch piece of fresh ginger
4 celery stalks

Simply juice the fruits and vegetables according to your juicing machine’s instructions. We start with the softest produce and work our way up to the hardest (typically carrots). Pour into glasses and enjoy.

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Spinach & Sweet Potato Quinoa Cakes

makes about 15

1 cup quinoa

2 eggs

1/4 flour of your choice

3 tablespoons tahini, almond butter, or peanut butter

1 tablespoon red or white vinegar

1 package (10-ounces) frozen spinach or kale, thawed and squeezed dry

1 cup finely grated sweet potato

1/4 cup finely diced onion

2 garlic cloves

1 teaspoon salt

A pinch of freshly ground black pepper or cayenne pepper

Olive oil, for the baking sheet

Start the quinoa cooking immediately so it can cook white you are prepping the other ingredients. Combine the quinoa and 3 cups water in a pot and boil it until it is soft, about 20 minutes. Drain well.

Transfer the quinoa to your favorite mixing bowl. Add the eggs, flour, tahini, vinegar, spinach, sweet potato, onion, garlic, salt, and pepper. Stir, knead, and smoosh all the ingredients together until they are one tight-knit family. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes if you have time.

Preheat the oven to 400 F with the rack in the middle. Oil a baking sheet. To shape the cakes, first wet your hands. For each patty, scoop up 3 to 4 tablespoons of the mixture with your hands and form a 1/2-inch-thick patty, firmly patting it so it stays together (loosie-goosies will fall apart). Arrange the patties on the baking sheet.

Bake until the cakes are lightly browned and crisp, flipping them over once halfway through the baking time, about 25 minutes. Serve warm with a dipping sauce.

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Farro Kale Salad

From Kale, Glorious Kale by Catherine Walthers

5-6 cups kale leaves, stripped off of stalks and torn or chopped into small pieces (1 small bunch)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 small red onion, minced (or in my case sliced thin)
1 cup of farro
3 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds, 1 tart apple, diced, or 1/2 cup dried cherries or cranberries (or any combination)
4 ounces feta cheese

Dressing:
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper

Wash and spin dry the kale. Chop into small pieces. Add to a large bowl, lightly salt and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of oil. Vigorously toss and massage the salt and oil into the kale until well coated.

Place farro in a large saucepan and cover with 2 quarts of salted water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 25 to 30 minutes. Farro has a similar texture to barley when cooked, and has a nice toothy texture. Drain well, and combine with the kale. Let cool completely, stirring occasionally.

Chop the onion, dill and parsley, and add to the kale and farro along with the pomegranate seeds, and apple or dried fruit, if using. Add the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper and gently toss. Place in a serving bowl or platter and top with the feta cheese.

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Winter Muesli

makes about 4 cups

2 cups classic rolled oats
3/4 cup raisins
3/4 cup walnuts, chopped
5 dates, pitted and chopped
Milk (hemp, nut, coconut, cow) or yogurt for serving

Using your hands, simply toss everything together in a large bowl. Be mindful of the sticky dates as they tend to clump together but once everything is in contact with the oats the clumps will loosen up. Muesli can be eaten with milk like a traditional cereal, sprinkled over yogurt, or soaked in milk overnight to soften up its texture. I like it all three ways. For those who like a little sweetness, simply drizzle over some honey or maple syrup.

A large mason jar filled with muesli, tied with a ribbon, and small recipe card attached would make a great gift for those left on your list (especially beloved teachers and neighbors). Because muesli is gluten free (if you purchase certified GF oats), vegan, and easily adapted to be nut free (substitute walnuts for pumpkin or sunflower seeds) it works for everyone. If you want to make a few personal mixes some additions that I especially enjoy are dried unsweetened cherries, shredded coconut, chopped pecans, and dried blueberries.

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Detox Smoothies

Choose between a sweet or tart green smoothie.

 

Sweet Green Smoothie

1 pear, roughly chopped

2 cups baby spinach

1/4-1/2 a lemon, peeled (depending on how sour you like it)

1 cup water or coconut water

Tart Green Smoothie

3 ribs of celery, roughly chopped

1-inch piece peeled ginger root

1 grapefruit, peeled and roughly chopped

3-inch piece of cucumber

1 cup water or coconut water

Blend everything together until smooth.

12.01.2015

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We arrived back home last night after five days on the go. Our adventures included ferry rides, long car rides, hotel rooms, hotel pools, cousins, grandmothers, creamed spinach, pumpkin cheesecake, Central Park, and (at the end of it) a very “lived in” looking family car. Off-island trips always make me think and notice things – about where we are but even more about where we come home to. Let me explain. Over Thanksgiving the cousins played a lot of games. One was a take on “red light, green light” but with silly dance moves instead of running. I was wondering why Dylan looked lost, glancing around trying to pick up on the rules. Then it hit me – he has no idea what a red light or, for that matter, a green light is. There are no traffic lights on Martha’s Vineyard, not one. This also explains why, every time we stopped at a red light, Gray would scream from the back seat GOOOO!. At first I took it as general long trip annoyance but there it was again – he is not used to stopping in the car for anything more then a parade of wild turkeys.

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I am not saying that a quiet island life is better or worse then a lively city one. I am just always surprised when I see our home so obviously show itself in our kids. I for one was reminiscing about the beautiful grocery store we visited in New York as I went shopping this morning and found that we (as an island) are out of dill. I’m sure there are dill plants growing somewhere out there but don’t go looking at the grocery store.

Long story short, I think this Smoky Black Bean Chili is a good meal to transition out of last week’s travel and gluttony. It is filling, full of flavor, and fun to make but does not call for any butter or sugar. Although the recipe itself is extremely straightforward it does take time (overnight bean soaking and about 2 hours on the stove) so plan accordingly. The chili’s spice was a bit strong for the kids the day I made it but the next day it seemed to have mellowed out. You can always adjust the chili powder to please your crowd (or double up on sour cream).

Smoky Black Bean Chili from The Sprouted Kitchen Bowl + Spoon

serves 6

1/2 pound dry black beans

1/2 pound dry kidney beans

2 bay leaves

1 tablespoon grapeseed oil or ghee

1 large yellow onion, diced

1 red bell pepper, diced

5 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons cumin

2 teaspoons dried oregano

2 teaspoons smoked paprika

1 tablespoon cocoa powder

2 tablespoons chili powder

1/4 teaspoon chipotle powder

3 to 4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth

1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, or 1 1/2 pounds fresh, diced

1 tablespoon tomato paste

3/4 cup cooked brown rice

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

Cilantro, avocado, and sour cream for garnish

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

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Pick through the beans, then rinse them well. In a large bowl, cover them generously with water, and soak overnight on the counter. The next day, drain the beans and transfer to a large pot. Cover them with fresh water by a couple of inches and bring them to a boil with the bay leaves. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook the beans for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until cooked through. Stir in a pinch of salt at the end and set aside.

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Meanwhile, prepare the rest of the ingredients. Heat the oil in a large pot and saute the onion over medium heat until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the bell pepper, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, cumin, oregano, paprika, cocoa powder, chili powder, chipotle powder and cook 5 minutes longer. Add 3 cups of the broth, the tomatoes, and the tomato paste, and simmer for 15 minutes. Drain the beans of excess water and add them to the onion mixture. Add the rice, stir, and simmer on low for 10 minutes longer. Season to taste with the vinegar, additional broth, salt or spice, if needed.

Garnish each serving with cilantro, avocado, and sour cream. *We ate it with baby arugula, shallots, and sour cream. Chili will keep covered in the fridge for 1 week.

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