Monday, October 13, 2014


This was a pretty tasty quick-fix meal.  You can get it on the table in 30 minutes flat, and is a great way to use up those last fall veggies from the garden before the frost hits.  This is an adaptation from the Curry Grilled Vegetables with Chickpeas and Creamy Polenta. Sorry I didn't get a nice picture before I ate all of it, so you have a picture of my lunch leftovers.



  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups low sodium chicken stock
  • 1 cup polenta
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 small summer squash, diced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1/4 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 teaspoons curry power
  • 1-2 teaspoons  zatar seasoning
  • 1 lemon juiced
  • cilantro or parsley chopped
  • feta or cheese on hand
  1. Bring water and broth to a boil.  Stir in polenta; cook until polenta begins to thicken. Cover and reduce heat to lowest setting.  Simmer polenta for 25 minutes, stirring and scraping the pan bottom and sides every 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in butter. 
  2. Over medium heat heat olive oil, sauté summer squash, red pepper, onion and garlic cloves.  Once softened add spices and add chickpeas until warmed. Remove from heat and add the lemon juice.
  3. Spoon polenta into a bowl, top with vegetables, sprinkle with cheese and herbs.  Enjoy!
  4. Since we are trying to reduce our sodium, I did now add salt, and I rinsed the chickpeas and soaked them in water while the polenta was cooking. 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Lunches for the week: Sweet and sour chicken with spicy green beans and cauliflower

Thanks to all my family and friends for suggestions last weekend of what to make for dinner to have leftovers for lunches this week.  I have lots of ideas for next week, but decided to go with my craving for sweet and sour chicken.  

We really like this low calorie, and relatively low sugar recipe that I think I found in Cooking Light, but am not finding it online offhand.  I use whatever veggies I have on hand (lots during farmers market season), and usually add a can of diced pineapple and add the juice to the sauce, as I think it needs more sauce liquid than it calls for frequently.  

We also tried the Sriracha Cauliflower by the White of Rice Couple, which Panhia and Dave would love.  Charlie didn't care for it at all, but he isn't a big cauliflower fan.  I would make it again, but it is pretty spicy. Oh, when I make it again I will cut back the oil to only 1/4 a cup, if that.

We also made the Szechuan Green Beans by the Heavy Table that I highlighted before.  They are my fav, since you don't have to fry them in oil, you just broil them.

Sriracha Roasted Cauliflower
  • 1/3 cup (80ml) olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce (use Tamari Soy sauce for Gluten Free)
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar (use distilled white vinegar for Gluten Free)
  • 2 tablespoons Sriracha sauce, homemade or regular
  • 1 head cauliflower (about 2 pounds / 910g), cut into 3⁄4-inch (2-cm) florets
  • chopped cilantro, for garnish
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Lightly grease a sheet pan or line it with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the oil, sesame oil, soy sauce, vinegar, and sriracha sauce. Whisk well.
  3. Gently add the cauliflower to the bowl and coat with the marinade.
  4. Arrange the cauliflower on a baking sheet and roast for 10 minutes. Turn the cauliflower over and roast for another 10 minutes, or until tender.
  5. Garnish with the cilantro and serve.
Yield: Serves 4
Total Time: 30 min
This recipe is from our cookbook, Bountiful. Since everyone's spice preference varies, make sure to adjust the amount of sriracha sauce to your desired level. It it over the top excellent with a homemade sriracha sauce, however it is still great with the regular store bought variety.

Szechuan Green Beans
Recipe from the Tasting Table Test Kitchen
Yield: 4 servings
Cook Time: 15 minutes
  •  1 pound green beans, ends trimmed
  • 1 teaspoon canola oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (less if you prefer a gentler heat)
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1/2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled (use the edge of a teaspoon to scrape off the skin) and grated
  1. Adjust the oven rack to the highest position and preheat the oven to broil. On a rimmed baking sheet, add the green beans. Broil until the beans are almost tender and are speckled with black spots, rotating the baking sheet halfway through cooking, about 10 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and turn the beans out into a large bowl. Set aside.
  1. In a small skillet set over medium-low heat, add the oil. Once the oil starts to shimmer add the red pepper flakes, stirring occasionally, and cooking until they turn a slightly darker shade of red, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 3 minutes. Turn off the heat and immediately add the sherry vinegar. Swirl the skillet, and then stir in the soy sauce.
  1. Pour the garlic-vinegar sauce over the green beans. Toss well. Place the ginger pulp in your palm and squeeze the ginger over the beans to extract the juice; discard the pulp. Toss the ginger juice with the beans and serve.
Sweet and Sour Chicken 
(Sorry I don't recall where this recipe is from)
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Serves 6 
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 Tablespoons oil
  • 2 Tablespoons apricot preserves
  • 1 lb. chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 teaspoons grated ginger (fresh)
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 cups broccoli, chopped
  • 1 cup carrots, slivered 
  • 1 cup green peppers, sliced
  • 1 cup red peppers, sliced
  • 1 cup snow peas, trimmed
  • 1 can water chestnuts
  • 1 small can pineapple chunks
Whisk together the vinegar, soy sauce, cornstarch and preserves and set aside.  
Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a wok.  Stir fry chicken and remove from heat.  Add 1 tablespoon of oil and stir fry the carrots, peppers and broccoli.  Add the peas and garlic and ginger and stir try a minute. Add the sauce and chicken stock (and I add the pineapple juice) and stir in the chicken, water chestnuts and pineapple.  Sometimes it needs more stocks to thin out the sauce. 
Remove from wok and serve over brown rice.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Eagan Food Truck Festival

Last weekend Eagan held its' first ever food truck festival, Food on 4 Wheels! I can only hope that more food trucks will visit the south metro, as we had one in Apple Valley at our farmers' market once, and then Canterbury Park has a festival as well, but that is about it.
I was there right when it opened and it certainly looked to be a success.  There were 21 food trucks and I sampled three:

  1. Taqueria La Hacienda- I ordered a pork taco and al pastor (bbq pork) tacos arabes.  The pork taco was perfect.  Just the right amount to meat to toppings and a nice bit of pineapple salsa on top and lime to balance it.  The tacos arabes were yummy, but the chipolte bbq and dipping sauce was a bit too much for me.  I am excited that they have a Burnsville restaurant location, as we need a really good Mexican restaurant in the south metro.   

  2. Hot Indian Food- I read that this was one of the top 10 food trucks in the Twin Cities.  It was nice that they had a mini Indurrito (Indian Burrito) to try for the event, however  I had them create a mini lamb rice bowl instead.  It was delicious and also packed a punch. 

  3. Butcher Salt- We never have burgers at home, so this was my chance to get one hot off the grill, and it did not disappoint.  The sliders are a perfect balance of meat that has been seared, so the edges are nice and crispy, with melted cheese, bacon, onions, and a nice pickle on top with a buttered and browned bun.  I added a side of the Butcher Salted Browns- why not have hashbrowns with your slider? They were nice and salty and crispy as well, with some cheese mixed in.  However, I am a fan of ketchup with my hashers, so I was disappointed that they had no condiments available.  

  4. I hope the south metro keeps it up and offers more events like this.  It was nice that the food shelf also had a bus there, so I brought some canned goods to donate, but was sad to see I was the first person to give.  Help support our local food shelves in the summer too folks!  Eagan’s Open Door will take extra produce from your gardens too!

    Tuesday, July 29, 2014

    Black Pepper Pasta with Mushrooms and Goat Cheese

    Well, we bought goat milk and cheese making supplies two weeks ago, and never found time to make goat cheese using our kit again.  Sigh, the milk went bad before we got around to it.  So, we bought goat cheese at CostCo (killer deal) and made this pasta dish.  The recipe is basically Food & Wine's Ziti with Portobello Mushrooms, Caramelized Onions and Goat Cheese, with a few additions/swaps:
    • I added about double the amount of both cheeses
    • I used black pepper pasta from a vendor at the Mill City Museum, yummy!
    • I added a cup of frozen peas to the dish when the mushrooms were done cooking
    • I cooked the mushrooms in garlic olive oil
    • I used 1-2 cups of pasta water to thin out the sauce and help it cling to the noodles.
    It doesn't look pretty, but it was delicious!

    Tuesday, July 8, 2014

    Restaurant Reviews: On's Kitchen and World Street Kitchen

    I checked out two new (to me) restaurants this past week with colleagues and friends. 

    World Street Kitchen
    First, thank you for having offstreet parking in Uptown!  (You don't want to be behind me parallel parking; it is painful to watch. Yes, I'm from and live in the 'burbs.)  We went all out and tried the pickles and aloo tikki chaat.  I have never had anything quite like the latter.  It had a bit of kick, but was more like a spread, so I wish we had pita bread, or something for it.  The pickles were delicious.  I had the lamb belly yum yum bowl, and it was yummy.  I spiced it up with some of their hot sauce selection too.  One miss was the curry peanut butter cookie; it takes a lot for me not to eat something and the curry was too overbearing for me.

    On's Kitchen
    Go there now!  This is hands-down my new favorite thai restaurant!  I will be getting take-out from there once a month on my way home.  I love this place.  The spring rolls were delicious- balance of crunchy vegetables, noodles, and pork with a nice dipping sauce.  The cream cheese wontons were the best I have had lately, as they weren't over fried and had lots of cream cheese in them.  The reviews all said to get Pad See Ew, and I did.  OMG, the best I have ever had!  I ordered it in between mild and medium and I was sweating a bit, so they really take their spice seriously here.  I washed it all down with a lovely thai tea with condensed milk.  That is a wonderful drink dessert.  Now that I am writing about it I want to go back tomorrow.  So good!

    Sunday, July 6, 2014

    Pinterst Recipes: 4 Successes

    Lately, I have made a few side dishes that I found on Pinterest that I thought I would share that are quite tasty. 

     This past weekend we grilled pork chops from the UMN Meat Lab.  If you haven't checked this place out, do!  I hate sharing my secret, but it is the best tasting pork chops around.  I also love their sundried tomato ground turkey; perfect for Italian casseroles in the winter (we don't eat red meat).   As sides I tried two dishes: lemony parm zucchini and sweet and smokey carrots. The zucchini would have turned out better if they were in planks, like the recipe said.  The carrots were great.  We will make them again soon!
     If you didn't know the trick to ripen avocados is to put them in a paper bag, try it next time you are in a pinch.  I bought a rock hard avocado and it ripened in a day in the bag, so I could make this roasted avocado side dish.  It is a great summertime lunchtime meal. 
     I made a yummy hoisin stir fry last week, but used chicken in this recipe and a lot more veggies!
    Based on how many of these m&m cookies my niece Lauren ate on our picnic they are a hit.  I probably did 3/4 a tsp of kosher salt, as some folks said it was too much salt.  I thought it was just right, but I love sweet and salty.

    Sunday, May 18, 2014

    Bridal Shower Curried Chicken and Lemon Cookies

    Over a year ago my aunt Sue and I hosted a bridal shower for my sister-in-law.  We made lots of delicious eats and drinks, but two stand out.  Everyone asks for the curried chicken salad and the lemon cookies recipes.  I need to give credit, as the chicken salad is from my mother-in-law and the cookies from my coworker Amy.  Both a perfect springtime meal.  Enjoy.

    Curried Chicken Salad
    2 cups, cooked cubed chicken
    1 medium apple, chopped
    3/4 dried cranberries or cherries
    1/2 cup thinly sliced celery
    1/4 cup chopped pecans
    2 Tblsp sliced green onions
    3/4 cup mayo
    2 tsp lime juice
    1/2 tsp curry power or to taste

    In a bowl combine first 6 ingredients. Combine mayo, lime juice, and curry powder.  Add to chicken mixture and stir to coat.  Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour until ready to serve.  Serve on bread with lettuce.

    Lemon Drop Cookies
    (makes about 4 dozen cookies)
    1/2 cup butter
    1 1/2 cups of granulated sugar
    2 eggs
    2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
    1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1 cup light sour cream
    1 teaspoon lemon zest
    1+ tablespoon lemon juice

    Preheat oven to 375. In a large bowl and using an electric mixer, cream together butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time. In another bowl or on a large piece of waxed paper, mix together flour,baking powder, baking soda and salt. One-third at a time and beating beating well after each addition, add flour mixture to egg mixture, alternating with sour cream. Stir in lemon zest adn lemon juice. Drop by teaspoonfuls, 1 1/2 inches apart, onto a parchment lined baking sheet.
    Bake until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Remove and cool on a wire rack. Frost with Lemon Frosting.

    Lemon Frosting
    6 tablespoons butter 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar 2 tablespoon lemon juice 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
    In a saucepan melt butter. Stir in sugar, lemon juice, and vanilla. Add enough water to create a good spreading consistency.

    (feel free to add more or less lemon juice to get the consistencies of dough and frosting that you need- I like things extra lemony)