Monday, August 29, 2011

Meatless Monday- Lentil Walnut Burgers

I have made the decision to attempt to hop on the Meatless Monday bandwagon.  I accidentally let this slip to Al, and he was naturally horrified that there is indeed such a fad.  Oh well, chef's choice in this household!

Despite the absolute lack of meat in this meal, Alex and I both really enjoyed it.  I wish that I had doubled it so that I would have some leftovers tomorrow for lunch.  Alex even commented that it tasted like meat, score!  The spices add a nice Middle Eastern flavor, which was extremely welcome since we haven't found any good restaurants of the sort nearby.

Rating 9/10
Recipe from Great Food Fast

3/4 cup lentils- rinsed (remove any lentils that float)
3/4 cup walnuts
1/3 cup plain breadcrumbs (whole wheat if you can find them)
3 garlic cloves
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
1/4 to 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper
4 tbsp olive oil- divided
1 large egg
Lettuce leaves or buns

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place walnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake for ~10 minutes until darkened and aromatic.  Remove from oven and let cool.
Place lentils in a saucepan and cover with water by 1 inch.  Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer.  Cook for 15-20 minutes.  Drain and let cool.

Whip out your food processor or super-blender.  Add the walnuts, breadcrumbs, garlic, cumin, coriander, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper.  Pulse until blended.
Add in the lentils and 1 tbsp of olive oil.  Pulse until integrated.
Whisk your egg and add into the food processor and pulse.

Remove the lentil mixture and form into 4 balls of equal size and press into 3/4 inch patties.
Heat up the remaining 3 tbsp of olive oil in a large pan and cook the patties for 8-10 minutes on each side.
Remove and place on a paper-towel lined plate to drain.
Serve with the sauce below, red onions slices, tomato, and a lettuce wrap or bun.  Increase your veggie factor even more by using several lettuce leaves as a wrap instead of just one.

Yogurt Sauce
~1 cup plain fat-free yogurt
2 tbsp fresh cilantro- chopped
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper- a pinch or so of each

Whisk everything together, lather your burger with it.

Reheat leftovers in a preheated oven until warmed through.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Caprese Zucchini

It seems crazy that just a few months ago I was squatting in the garden sprinkling seeds here and there.  It was even crazier when things started sprouting.  Now that everything is fully grown and producing goodies, I am going crazy with the amount of zucchini that I have piling up.

Mistake #1 was planting so much zucchini.  Mistake #2 was not having any recipes in mind for said zucchini.  I have tried a few recipes to use it up (zucchini cupcakes and zucchini fries), but I have been pretty disappointed with the results.  The zucchini pile continued to rise.

Then today I was flipping through Cooking Light at the store and came across a whole page devoted to zucchini variations.  I almost just jotted down the ingredients and steps, but of course there was a bunch of other recipes in the mag that I also wanted and were far too complex to simply write down or memorize.  This one could have been memorized, but oh well!

Alex hated this.  I really enjoyed it, especially compared to my previous zucchini flops.  I especially liked that I had to buy absolutely nothing, hooray for using up fresh produce and mozzarella cheese that is about to start stinking up the fridge!

Fresh, simple, quick.  Rating 8/10.  Alex would probably rate it a 0 to correspond with the absence of meat in this dish (and I also said earlier in the day that I was making pizza, then said that I didn't want to make dough, and he wasn't listening when I told him what I was making instead.  Not my fault!! :D)

Recipe adapted from Cooking Light
2 zucchini- cut into 1/2 inch slices (diagonal cuts make it fancy dancy)
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 ground pepper
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil

Caprese salsa
2 tomatoes- diced
3 tbsp fresh basil- chopped
fresh mozzarella (more is better! num num)
1 garlic clove- finely minced to increase health benefits!
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp red wine vinegar

Combine the zucchini with the salt, pepper, and olive oil.
Preheat a grill pan over medium high heat and spread the zucchini out in a single layer.
Cook for two minutes and then flip and continue to cook for 2-4 minutes more (I liked mine to have prominent grill marks so I let them cook longer than the suggested 4 minute total time)

While the zucchini is cooking away prepare the salsa.
Dish out the zucchini and top with your caprese salsa.  Delicious.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Dill Pickles

I love pickles.  So much so that the first thing that I did today at the Renaissance Festival today was throw a dollar at a wench and receive a pickle in return.  On my way out I almost bought another one, but then I realized that I already had a vat of pickles at home waiting for me.

I think that my love for pickles started because of my big sister.  Everything that she liked, I would like too.  That meant that I devoured enormous pickles like crazy when I was a kid, even though they were too sour for my taste buds.  My extended family also likes pickles, which is why I decided to take a shot at making my own for my grad party.  For the record, these were never served because I deemed them insufficiently aged by the time that my party rolled around.  However, the pickles are in their prime a week later.

The worst part of making pickles is dealing with the fresh dill.  I don't have any growing, so I had the option of going with dried dill or buying an enormous hunk of it from the grocery store.  I didn't know what to do with the hunk since I didn't want it to dry out, but I didn't want it to stank up my fridge either.  Anyway, aside from that making pickles is painless and relaxing in an old school way.

Make these pickles now.  Rating 10/10.

Recipe from Prevention RD

2 1-quart mason jars (one for the brine and one for the pickles- or use just one jar and a glass that is a similar size)

4 pickling cucumbers- quartered into spears
8 sprigs of fresh dill
3 cloves of garlic- chopped
1 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tbsp white sugar
1 1/2 tbsp kosher salt
2/3 cup white vinegar
1 cup water

Begin by sticking as many cucumber spears as possible and the fresh dill in your mason jar.
Make the brine by mixing up the garlic, coriander, sugar, salt, and vinegar.  Shake vigorously until the salt and sugar have dissolved.
Pour the brine over the cucumber spears.  If some of the spears are still not submerged, fill with up to 1 cup of water until submerged.
Tightly screw on the lid and place in the fridge for at least 24 hours.  These babies improve drastically over time, so try not to inhale them all in one day.

I made these in bulk by making several batches with the above measurement of ingredients and then dumping them in a big stock pot.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Melon Smoothie

 If you like creamsicles and all things deceptively healthy, then you will for sure love this- it is like a  cantaloupsicle.  It is delightfully frothy, refreshing, and cleanses your palate.  Did I mention that it is healthy?

Rating 10/10

1/2 cantaloupe- chilled and cubed
1/2 honeydew- chilled and cubed
1/2 cup orange juice
1/8 tsp nutmeg
pinch of cinnamon
Juice of 1/2 lemon

Combine in blender
Serve immediately
Makes 2 servings

Suburban Kung Pao Chicken

Kung pao chicken was my favorite dish in China.  It was often the only thing that didn't have chicken heads or fungus mixed in with it.  Just kidding, almost.  Anyway, I have never ever made it before now but I had a serious hankering for some so I went to the store determined to come out with all of the fixings to make my beloved dish.

That was a huge failure of a shopping trip.  The grocery stores around here stink.  They think that an ethnic aisle should have soy sauce, rice, and tons of kosher food.  This doesn't work well for me, and it also doesn't help that in MN I can't check out the liquor dept on a Sunday to see if they have any rice wine there, since there is some outdated sabbath-inspired law that sends a lot of Minnesotan money over to Wisconsin.  Anyway, I made this recipe out of ingredients that anybody should be able to find in their adequately-stocked grocery store.

Rating 9/10


  • 1 lb chicken- chopped into 1 inch cubes


  • 1 egg white- frothed
  • 1/8 cup dry white wine (I used up some leftover Riesling)
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 tsp corn starch

Flavor makers

  • 1 tablespoon ginger- thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon garlic- thinly sliced
  • 8-10 dried chili peppers
  • 4 green onions- chopped into thin rings (reserve some of the green for garnishing the finished dish)
  • 4 teaspoons black bean sauce (this comes in a squat jar in the ethnic aisle by all of the soy sauces)


  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seed oil
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • roasted unsalted peanuts
Marinate the chicken for 30-60 minutes
Heat up a wok and place the chicken and its marinade in it- stir fry until chicken is cooked through
Once the chicken is thoroughly cooked add in the "flavor makers" and continue to stir fry for another minute
Pour the sauce into the wok and stir to coat the chicken and other ingredients
Top with peanuts and green onion garnish
Serve immediately, probably with some sticky rice!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Buttermilk Pancakes

Due to our conflicting work/school schedules, Alex and I NEVER got to eat breakfast together.  I'm going to try to start up a Saturday morning breakfast tradition, starting with these delicious pancakes that I made with the byproduct of making butter the other day.  I used this recipe, which you can modify depending on how many people you are feeding.  Num!

Homemade Butter

Alex is home for a brief intermission from teacher bootcamp and I made him homemade butter to celebrate his return home (and the return of me eating square meals).  I think that I deserve best girlfriend award for this, or maybe the lamest person ever award since I made this on a Friday night.  Anyway, homemade butter is the way to go!

I made butter once in the 2nd grade during our Oregon Trail unit.  Ms. C had taped off an area in our classroom that was designated as a wagon, and we all scrambled to make sure that we had a "seat on the wagon" so that we didn't have to "walk" Westward.  That may have been my most favorite unit ever, and it didn't hurt that we made butter.

Way back in the olden days making butter was a big PITA.  You either had to churn it, or if you were a pioneer you could put the buttermilk in a pail and hang it off of the side of your wagon and let the bumps in the road churn your butter for you.  In the 2nd grade we made our butter by taking turns shaking a bucket.  I used a whisk attachment on my stand mixer to make my butter, then used my blender to wash it.  I would recommend just using a food processor to do this (not a mini chopper!), but you will have a lot more hard-to-clean dishes piling up in your sink.  Rating 100/10.

Heavy whipping cream

  • Place your heavy whipping cream in a stand mixer or food processor and whip/pulse for about 10 minutes, or until your butter has obviously separated from the buttermilk.  It will be yellow and float to the top (or be stuck inside of your whisk).
  • Strain the buttermilk and use a spoon to squish out any remaining liquid.  Reserve buttermilk for pancakes!
  • Throw a cup of ice cold water into the butter and beat for 30 seconds, repeat the draining process, but this time discard the liquid.
  • Pack in a covered jar and use within 14 days.  This shouldn't be hard.

Thai Pizza

I love pizza.  My problem is that I like gourmet pizza, and you can't find any of that around here with a reasonable price tag.  When Alex and I were in Iowa for a weekend we ate at a pizza place and I ordered this pizza without looking at the price.  Ooops.  I think that I paid $17 for a thin crust medium sized pizza.

I assembled this pizza for way under $10, and it could easily feed 3 people.  Oh, and it is better than the one from the restaurant.  No good photos because I inhaled it.  Rating 8/10.

Your favorite pizza dough (I used this one)
Peanut sauce- find it in your ethnic aisle
Chicken- cooked and cubed
1 red pepper- diced
broccoli florets
tomatoes- chopped (optional)
green onions- chopped (reserve some of the green bit for garnish)
shredded mozz cheese

Prepare your dough ahead of time!
Preheat oven to 500 degrees with a pizza stone placed inside
Roll out dough to desired size and place on a pizza peel that has been generously sprinkled with corn meal
Spread out a layer of peanut sauce (not too much, not too little)
Top with chicken, red pepper, broccoli, tomatoes, and green onions
Bake until crust is golden (this varies on how thick your crust is and how accurate your oven's heating is so start keeping an eye on it at around 8 minutes).
Remove from oven and top with cheese, remaining green onions, and cilantro
Serve immediately

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Mango Tango

Alex is off at a teacher bootcamp.  When Al is gone, so is my ambition to make legitimate meals.  One of the great things about this situation is that my dish pile is significantly smaller than usual.  !  Anyway, this is a super groovy smoothie.  I had one of Odwalla's Mango Tangos the other day and meant to recreate it.  I have since then lost the bottle and had to improvise with the ingredients, but it was still delish.  I don't have anything else to say about it.  Fatigue does that to you.  Lesson learned- don't take a three hour nap until 7 pm and then try to go to sleep at 10 pm.

Oh and a work related update- I've been doing nothing but working at homes that are on lakes.  This = lots of great lunch time views and breezes.  I wish that I could pack this to bring to lunch tomorrow!

Rating 9/10.

1 mango
1 banana
1/4 cup coconut milk (I used the kind that comes in a carton, not a can)
1/4 cup apple juice
1/4 cup orange juice
1 hearty squeeze of lime
4 ice cubes

Blend all ingredients together and serve immediately!
Serves 1-2

Monday, August 1, 2011

Krista's Summer Salad

I am forcing us to eat more salads in an effort to get back to my former shape that I abandoned when I stopped working out for a month straight when I moved home/lost access to a TV to watch my workout videos on.  I do have my TV back now and all of my glorious tapes as well, but I need to make my diet even healthier to balance out this extra pudge going on (somehow there is a indirect correlation to my access to TV and my access to ice cream).

Enter the delicious salad.  I love anything with fruit, and greens are no exception.  Add pretty much any berry that is on sale and you have a salad that you won't have a problem finishing.  The cinnamon roasted pear slices are great on their own, but if you don't want to run your oven then raw pear slices will work just as well.  Rating 8/10.

1 head of lettuce- chopped
1 handful of asparagus- chopped into 2-inch segments and blanched (placed in boiling water for 2 minutes and then drained)
1/3 cup walnuts
3/4 cup blueberries
3/4 cup raspberries
1 yellow tomato- sliced
1 red tomato- sliced

1 pear- skinned and sliced into 1-inch chunks *see baking preparation below
ground cinnamon

raspberry salad dressing to taste

Preheat oven to 375
Place pear slices in an ovenproof dish and dust with a generous dose of cinnamon.
Bake the pears for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Combine all ingredients and serve immediately
Makes 2 servings.