Thursday, November 9, 2017

Broccoli Cheese Soup

Winter is a time for warming soups. Broccoli-cheese is a classic combination and with this recipe it can be ready in half an hour. The addition of spinach gives it a nice green color. If you are avoiding dairy, you can skip the cheese, sour cream and butter. Just add extra mashed potatoes to thicken the soup.

Serve hot with crusty bread and brie or baked sweet potatoes.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Cilantro-Mint Chutney

In taking down my herb garden, I had a lot of mint. My husband brought home tons of cilantro from the Farmer's Market and my son requested lamb chops for his birthday dinner. These coincidences nudged me toward searching out a recipe for mint chutney. Though it is called mint chutney by many, it relies heavily on cilantro. This easy recipe will make you a convert. And, yes, it pairs well with lamb chops. You can also add a dollop to your chicken chili.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Easy Oreo Ice Cream Cake

Blizzard Oreo ice cream cake--that's what my son wanted for his birthday party. But the one I ordered and sent my husband to pick up was not available because the Dairy Queen location had closed. Apparently they'd forgotten to tell Dairy Queen and Google because they were still listed as open on both. And their website still sent me confirmation of my cake order!

Never fear! This simple recipe saved the day. We had fun putting it together too. Watch the jazzy video tutorial; it makes it look as easy as pie. The next time I make this, my son asked that I leave off the whipped cream and just add the crushed oreos to the chocolate layer.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Gluten-free Carrot Cake Muffins

For a quick breakfast on the run, it's nice to have these moist tasty muffins full of high energy ingredients. Hint: if you call them Carrot Cake muffins instead of Healthy Carrot muffins, kids will eat them too. It's all in the name. 

Serve with whipped cream cheese or butter and a mug of hot tea.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Quinoa Breakfast Porridge

A hearty breakfast porridge that will keep you going until lunch. I've never thought about quinoa for breakfast, but it's at least as good an option as buckwheat groats. It cooks quickly and serves at least three. Note that stored leftovers will get thicker, so serve with extra milk or yogurt.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Spicy Green Tomato Chutney

When you live in Minnesota, your tomato crop is always at risk of being wiped out by frost before most of them ripen. This past week they predicted several nights of hard frost, so I decided it was time to pick all the firm green tomatoes, both cherry and full size, and do something with them. Since I'm on a chutney jag at the moment, that's what I made. A little spicy from the ginger, but delicious served with pork.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Apple Crisp with Oat Topping

My friends, Cherry and Michael, offered me a few apples from their prolific trees. I was thinking along the lines of 4 or 5 nice apples. Michael put a hefty thirty pounds of apple goodness into my trunk and today I'm digging for inspiration on the internet.

I thought these delicious apples would be great in a crisp, and they are! You can get away with serving this for breakfast paired with plain yogurt. Yum!

Monday, September 25, 2017

Strawberry Rhubarb Sonker

I learned about this recipe while listening to the Splendid Table podcast. Sonker sounded really retro, but also really intriguing. It's a baked fruit dessert with a tender-crisp crust. Eight tablespoons of butter sounded extremely decadent (can you tell this recipe is from the South?), but worth trying at least once. Since I'm always on the lookout for a way to use more rhubarb in the summer, I incorporated some tartness into the fruity mix.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Rhubarb Chutney

What should one do with a bumper crop of rhubarb? Jam is good, but chutney is even better! This complex spicy-sweet-sour condiment is perfect on pork chops or alongside roasted chicken. I like this recipe because it is simple to make with consistently good results. Make a double batch and give some away!

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Italian Prune Plum Clafoutis

For about two weeks each summer you can find Italian prune plums at the grocery store. That's when I start to think about making this clafoutis. Prune plums are meaty, small and eliptical in shape. They are very versatile--delicious fresh, baked or in jam. The traditional clafoutis recipe (an eggy French dessert) is made with cherries, but I like this version even better.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Flourless Brownies with Ganache

On the occasion of our wedding anniversary, I perfected a recipe for flourless brownies. I tried one recipe in a trial run that was based on cocoa and those turned out bitter and dry. This recipe was just about perfect--thank you, Nicole Hunn. The only modifications I made were to substitute some coconut sugar for white sugar and to use semi-sweet chocolate in the ganache. Though a ganache topping sounds like it would be gilding the lily too much, it actually balances out the dark chocolate of the brownie nicely.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Sweet Red Bean Soup

If you've ever had a sweet red bean soup for dessert after a Chinese banquet, you're already familiar with this thin bean gruel. That doesn't sound very appetizing does it? But it's very popular and one of the many Asian sweets based on the red adzuki bean, like red bean mochi. Besides, as desserts go, it's made of beans so how bad could it be for you?

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Brown Rice Mochi

Years ago I used to purchase brown rice mochi from the natural foods co-op. We'd cut the brown block into squares and bake them until they puffed up and became crunchy on the outside with a chewy middle and eat them warm with some honey.

Sadly the Wedge Coop has stopped stocking that item, but my kids have been asking for these anew since our trip to Tokyo this summer. Figuring that I could make them from scratch, I set out to find a recipe. Turns out this is a trickier process than I imagined and I'm not sure I've worked it all out yet, but give it a try!

Monday, August 14, 2017

Fig and Cherry Jam

I had some sad looking dried figs and wanted to do something with them. I also had some great looking red cherries. Bingo! A jam! Can you even do that with dried figs? (Yes, you can!) I put the figs in some hot water to plump them up, and then combed through some jam recipes for inspiration. Voila!

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Rhubarb Berry Jam

Our rhubarb plant has been growing like a weed this summer. I decided that I needed to use this bounty and went looking for a recipe that would use a lot of rhubarb. Jam seemed to fit the bill. I combined the wisdom of two recipes to create a deep red thick jam that is very delicious. I learned that rhubarb doesn't have much natural pectin, so adding a bit of apple or apple juice helps the jam to set.

It took a surprising amount of fruit to make a small amount of jam, but it's easy to make another batch. I don't bother with sterilizing jars since I make small batches and give most of it away. As long as you have some room in your fridge to store the jars, its not a problem. A spoonful of jam makes a nice topping for a bowl of plain yogurt.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Shirred Eggs with Mashed Potato

We made this delicious dish for Father's Day brunch with sausage patties and French toast. The shirred eggs made the meal special. They were velvety and rich. In it's original form, this recipe called for making a potato puree, but I simplified this recipe by using Simply Potatoes mashed potatoes. Shh! Don't tell Ruth.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Sliders with Shake Shack Sauce

The Star Tribune published a recipe for Shake Shack burgers, which I have never tried, but since I was planning to make burgers that night anyway I clipped the article. I decided to make sliders on small buns, but followed the rest of the directions. The key here is the sauce, the method for frying the burgers and the toasted buns. We will definitely make these again!

Monday, July 3, 2017

Rustic Cherry Tart

It's cherry season and this tart is a great way to use cherries when they are plentiful! My daughter made this for a dinner party and it was very good. The crust is crisp and the filling is tartly sweet. Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Non-Dairy Chocolate Panna Cotta

This non-dairy panna cotta is quick and easy to make. I found the recipe on the Guittard website. It calls for ingredients that are pantry staples at our house, so it's an easy weeknight dessert. Melt ingredients together, strain and chill. What could be easier? Honestly, you could even skip the straining step. I use coconut sugar for a low-glycemic version.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Homemade Aloe Water

Aloe water is everywhere it seems. But most of the bottled versions are too sweet for my taste. Try this easy recipe to make it yourself. Aloe is a gooey viscous substance, which is why we mix it with coconut water. Try adding a few tablespoons to your morning smoothie for health benefits for your skin, liver, digestive tract and more.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Coconut Chicken Curry

I tore this recipe out of a magazine years ago and probably made it only once.  When a friend asked me to teach him how to cook a simple chicken curry, this recipe seemed like a good bet. First of all, it does not require any exotic ingredients beyond curry powder and coconut milk which makes it a good quick prep choice for a weeknight. It's a classic type of curry with a generous amount of sauce--perfect for serving over rice. Also, there are enough vegetables to make it a one pot meal.

The recipe makes enough for a family, or to consume over several days if you are cooking for yourself. My youngest child is a fan (that's his messy plate above), so I'm putting this on high rotation.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Aussie Bites

We tried these little gems for the first time at an inn in Guerneville, California. The hostess mentioned that they were Ozzie Bites purchased from Costco. I was intrigued because they were gluten-free. After our trip Google helped me determine that they were actually Aussie Bites and helped me find this well-researched recipe.

Of course, I can't follow a recipe to save my life and this is no exception. I replaced half the honey with maple syrup to lower the FODMAP quotient and changed out apricots for dates and pepitas for sunflower seeds to match what I had on hand. My husband declared them excellent!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Seared Salmon and Noodles in Coconut-Ginger Broth

For a restaurant quality weeknight meal with little fuss, try this recipe. It's a good way to prepare salmon with Asian flavors. And as a one pot meal, it simplifies dinner preparation tremendously. Broccolini can be substituted for bok choy. Make the effort to grate the ginger root as it is a key flavor in this dish.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Green Coconut Curry

You can make this dish with chicken, as the recipe suggests, but for the rendition pictured above I used tilapia. I like to use Thai Kitchen Green Curry paste which comes in little jars in the international foods aisle in the grocery store. If you can find kaffir lime leaves, use 4 of them instead of the lime zest.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Asian Flavors Cucumber Salad

A classic salad that makes the most of crisp cucumbers that can otherwise be boring. We enjoy this with dumplings or tofu dishes. Sometimes salting the cucumbers releases a lot of liquid and other times, not so much. It really helps to dry them carefully in a towel before making the salad or the excess moisture will dilute the dressing.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Banana Oat Breakfast Squares

These banana oat breakfast squares are oddly compelling. They are not sweet, and at first I didn't think my kids would be interested, but they ended up eating them. These squares are best enjoyed spread with nut butter or Nutella. It's a healthy on-the-go breakfast! The next time I make these I'll experiment with adding some cocoa powder to the mix. Either way it's a great way to use up two mushy bananas!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Apple Almond Cake

As a stocking stuffer last Christmas we gave my daughter a tube of Odense Marzipan paste. While home on spring break, she decided to make a cake with it. Her friend, Sien, came over to help. The kitchen smelled great! The cake was dense and moist and delicious. It didn't last long.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Skillet-Roasted Lemon Chicken

Delicious roast chicken recipes like this one are keepers.  Although the preparation is simple it still takes a little over an hour from start to finish.  Remember to wipe the skin on the chicken with paper towels before applying the oil and the herbs or your chicken skin won't be as beautiful, golden and crisp as Ina's.  I like to serve this with soft polenta and a salad.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Parsnip and Carrot Soup

Mindful Magazine had a very pretty picture of this soup recipe in their December issue.  At this time of year, my interest is easily piqued by parsnip recipes.  I made a few alterations to lower the FODMAP content.  Also, the orange zest they recommended seemed to make the soup bitter.  Now it's simpler soup, but still good on a winter night.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Lentil and Kielbasa Salad

That something so simple could taste so good is a mystery to me.  The key seems to be the right kind of lentils (find them at Whole Foods or your local co-op) and some chemical reaction that happens when you boil them with a turnip.  The dressing has all the right savory notes to perfectly season the otherwise boring combination of lentils and a fairly plain-tasting sausage. This makes a great weeknight dinner with the addition of a crisp green salad and some corn chips or corn bread.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Easy Soft Polenta

Making polenta over a hot stove used to be an Italian torture experience.  You had to tend to it constantly, stirring, stirring, stirring.  And the hot cornmeal would pop burning your skin during the long cook time.  Forget contact sports with coarse cornmeal--this is the 21st century!  Hello, microwave:)  With this simple recipe, you can have perfect polenta in 20 minutes.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Dong Po Pork

See those two mahogany strips of pork belly in the photo above?  I know, they don't look like much, but they are the most flavorful bites of pork ever.  We had delectable Dong Po Pork, baby bok choy in oyster sauce and fried savory taro cake for Chinese New Year dinner this year--Year of the Rooster! 

We also made Hong Kong style egg tarts and sticky rice cakes with red bean paste. It was so good! Have your own Chinese feast in the Year of the Rooster!

Thursday, March 2, 2017


Okonomiyaki is a Japanese cabbage pancake. We had these in Osaka and they are a wonderful street food. I made this version with grated taro and chopped bacon and green onion. If you don't have taro, try a potato. You can play around with the mix-ins-- the cabbage is the essential ingredient. For an authentic touch make the sauce and put it in a thin-tipped squeeze bottle. Drizzle the sauce over the pancake. Repeat with mayonnaise or aioli in the perpendicular direction. It's fun. It's tasty.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Cocoa Crisps

I based this on Ella's recipe for Quinoa and Cacao Crispy Treats.  Not having popped quinoa available, I used another kind of gluten-free cereal called Gorilla Munch.  You can really use any kind of cereal and your choice of mix-ins--nuts, cereal, dried fruit, etc. In the rendition pictured above, I used walnuts, pumpkin seeds, dried cranberry, and date pieces.  Warning: addictive!

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Quinoa and Turmeric Fritters

These fritters are a nice accompaniment to any meal.  The bright orange color is fun and the heavy dose of spice makes them anything but boring. It's a good way to use up leftover cooked quinoa, but if you have leftover rice, that would work too.  You can use a rice cooker to steam the sweet potato--my rice cooker has a steamer basket for this purpose.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Canal House Chicken

This is one of those simple but reliable recipes that you could make every week. And we do. The process yields crisp skin, and perfectly seasoned juicy meat that is dinner party worthy.  I often skip the lemon in favor of a little white wine or broth. You can customize this recipe endlessly, but it's pretty good as it is--a foolproof pan-roasted chicken recipe.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Raspberry Cream Cheese

My son likes to eat bagels with flavored cream cheese.  I thought we could make our own fruit-flavored cream cheese with the plain stuff we already had at home.  A little Googling and --voilá!  Flavored cream cheese in a jiffy.  Try this with mashed strawberries or blueberries.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Chinese New Year Taro Cake

This is a popular item on the Dim Sum cart.  It's a soft taro cake studded with little pieces of mushroom and sausage with a crisp exterior. It's the chewy/crunchy contrast that makes this cake so good, so don't be tempted to skip the frying step.  I should also mention that this is a savory cake, not a sweet one.  My son had this on the menu for Chinese New Year along with Bok Choy and Pork Belly.  The recipe makes a large cake, so we were eating slices of it for the next week.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Hong Kong Style Egg Tarts

These are a dim sum item in Hong Kong style restaurants.  My son likes to make them for Chinese New Year. They have a delectable buttery crust and a a sweet egg custard filling. The recipe makes a fair number, but you can freeze them. We make these in small muffin tins. They are intended as dessert, but you could also try them for breakfast!

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Best Baked Sweet Potato

Family weeknight dinners don't get easier than this.  I turn on the oven when I get home from work, scrub the potatoes and get them baking.  From that point, dinner is ready in less than an hour with not too much more work.  Save the extra dressing for a salad like a marinated kale salad.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Spiced Sweet Potato Stew

A good midwinter stew, the combination of sweet potatoes and black beans is rich and hearty.  I like the addition of fresh spinach for a pop of green.  This makes a large batch and the extra stew packs well for lunches.  Another vegan recipe from Ella!

Friday, February 10, 2017

Homemade Date Nut Power Bars

Rachel Perron is Kowalski's culinary director and this based on her recipe for Apricot and Pistachio Bars.  The original recipe called for pistachios, but I swapped them out for almonds.  I used more coconut in place of the sesame seeds.  Feel free to improvise with the dried fruit and nuts you have on hand as long as the quantities are the same.

The bars are very soft, and not so good for shipping or packing in a lunch box.  If you plan to eat these on the run, I'd recommend taking spoonfuls of the mixture and forming them into balls for energy bites rather than bars.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Tilapia with Orange Sauce

Citrus flavors go well with fish, that's what I was thinking when I searched up this recipe.  And it's a Cooking Light recipe, so how can it be bad for you?  There is a nice combination of flavors with the layers of citrus, balanced by salty tamari and a touch of sweetness.  Serve it with green beans and brown rice for an easy weeknight dinner.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Cranberry Steamed Pudding

In the Lowry family, plum duff is the traditional holiday pudding.  My husband, Phil, usually makes it once a year in a mold with clamps that was passed down from his mother.  Somehow that mold is now lost, and the new one lacks clamps.  This was disconcerting to Phil, so much so that he thought it not suitable to make Plum Duff in.

Finding this recipe in the paper prompted him to take a closer look at the new pudding mold.  Why yes, it is watertight, even without clamps!  He decided to take a chance on the new recipe and we all enjoyed it. Steaming the fruity mixture turns it into a moist and flavorful cake-like substance.  The pudding itself is not too sweet, so a bit of hard sauce is welcome.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Mexican Quinoa Bowl

Try this instead of tacos.  Ella's original recipe was meatless, of course, but on this particular night I used some ground meat instead of the second can of black beans.  I also had some cherry tomatoes on hand to use instead of salsa.  To simplify the recipe for a weeknight dinner, I use store bought salsa and guacamole.  To change it up, you could add some chopped greens, like kale or chard, to the bean mixture and wilt them in the frying pan.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Roasted Vegetable Salad

In the winter, roasted vegetables are a welcome comfort food.  I played around with Ella's recipe a bit and subbed in parsnips for the white potatoes and added some roasted butternut squash I had from a previous roasting episode.  Double the recipe to have plenty for vegetable side dishes throughout the week.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Breakfast Sausage

After years of buying breakfast sausage links and patties, I finally woke up to the realization that I could make my own.  These are free of nitrates and other bad things and taste great.  Best of all they only add a few extra minutes of preparation in the morning.  Feel free to leave out the maple syrup if you don't like the sweetness.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Squash Bowls with Meat Sauce

I cut this recipe out from the newspaper years ago.  I thought it was really clever to serve meat sauce over squash instead of over noodles.  My kids thought so too, apparently, because they loved this dish.  Recently my teenage son started asking for it again, which is interesting as his palate his definitely become more sophisticated.  It's an easy weeknight meal, so I'm happy to oblige.  Serve with a side of cranberry sauce, if you have it.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Slow Cooker Chai

This is a great recipe for holiday parties!  My son likes to set up the slow cooker the night before to make the spiced mixture (pictured below).  He steeps the tea and adds the milk right before the guests show up. Be prepared to hand out copies of the recipe.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Wild Rice Stuffing

Most Thanksgivings at our house feature stuffing made of bread cubes.  This gluten-free version is much tastier and has higher nutritional value to boot.  Essentially it's a warm rice salad that you could serve alongside any entree. It could also be a meal in itself.

I like to cook the wild rice in a rice cooker.  Combine 1 cup wild rice to 3 cups water.  For the butternut squash, I like to buy it cubed and frozen to save time. That way I can just add it to the stuffing and heat through.