LUNCH

Do you have bad feelings about lentils? Well, it’s time to get over them! If cooked properly and dressed up with yummy additions, these small green beans will win your heart. Lentils are full of fiber, iron, vitamins, and protein. I love to incorporate lentils on meatless mondays, and I LOVE this recipe because it is healthy and unique. The vinaigrette is amazing and would be nice drizzled on any salad or meat.

LENTIL, SPINACH, AND FETA SALAD with
SOUR CHERRY VINAIGRETTE

adapted from The Foster’s Market Cookbook

Salad Ingredients:
1 ½ cups dried green lentils, picked through and rinsed
(preferably dark green Du Puy French lentils)
4 cups lightly packed baby spinach, washed and drained
½ red onion, thinly sliced
6 ounces feta cheese, cut into ½ inch cubes
¾ cup of sour cherry dressing (recipe included)
salt and pepper to taste

Dressing Ingredients:
1 shallot
½ cup dried cherries or cranberries
¼ cup red wine vinegar
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
juice of 2 limes
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup canola oil
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper

Preparation:
1. Place the lentils in a saucepan, and add enough water to cover by three inches. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes. If you are using regular lentils (not French Du Puy) it might take 20 minutes. Do not overcook! Also, do not add salt to the water. They should be tender but still hold their shape. Drain, rinse and set aside to cool.

2. Prepare the dressing by combining the shallot and dried cherries in a food processor. Pulse until the shallot and cherries are minced. Add the vinegars and lime juice, and process for a few more seconds. With the machine running, slowly add the oils to create an emulsion. Season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 6 days before use.
Note: this makes 1 ½ cups but you only need about ¾ cup for the salad. It is awesome on greens or grilled chicken.

3. Combine lentils, onion, feta, and vinaigrette in a large bowl. Gently toss in the spinach. Do not overmix or the spinach will bruise and feta will crumble. It might be best to add spinach just before serving.

Here is a printable copy of the recipe: Lentil, Spinach, and Feta Salad

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GIVING THANKS A LITTLE EARLY

November 16, 2011

I have a good excuse for neglecting my blog over the past month. Ruthie Scanlon Williams was born Sunday October 30th. She was a little peanut at 6lbs 4oz. We adore her!

As much as I have loved being her mom and focusing on family, I am ready to ease back into the kitchen. We are very thankful for all the friends and family who have cooked us meals over the past three weeks. Having warm hearty meals lovingly delivered to our home has helped us out big time.

A special shout out and thank you goes to Jennifer Williams. Not only did she deliver our precious baby, but she introduced us the her famous Arugula, Ricotta, Prosciutto sandwiches. It would be embarrassing to admit how many of these I have consumed over the past month. So before the turkey, stuffing and binge eating begins next week, try this refreshing “sandwich” (for lack of a better word).

JEN’S PROSCIUTTO SANDWICH

***Key ingredient is fresh baked tortillas.
The uncooked flour tortillas be found at Costco in the refrigerator section. They will change your life.
Arugula
Ricotta (whole milk is always best)
Proscuitto (also great to buy at Costco)

Heat a non-stick saute pan to medium heat.
Place the raw tortilla in the pan. No oil necessary.
Cook tortilla on first side until it puffs up and turns golden.
Flip and cook the second side.
Remove tortilla from the pan. Go ahead and get number two cooking- you’ll want another!
Spread with ricotta.
Layer with proscuitto.
Top with arugula.
Fold in half or top with another ricotta-spread-tortilla.

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HOW TO BOIL AN EGG

July 23, 2011

Do you know how to boil a really good egg?  There was a time when I didn’t REALLY know the perfect method to boiling an egg.  My research led me to Martha Stewart Cooking School and Cooks Illustrated.  I learned that you never should really boil the eggs.  Instead, gently cook the eggs so the whites are tender and the yolks are slightly soft.  I hope this helps you as much as it helped me!

HOW TO BOIL AN EGG
Place eggs in a deep saucepan.
Cover with cold water by 1 inch.
Bring to a boil over high heat.
Immediately remove from heat and cover.
Let eggs sit covered for 13 minutes.
Transfer to ice bath to stop cooking.
Serve warm or leave in ice bath to cool completely.
Unpeeled eggs keep for 1-week in the fridge.

Now what should you do with the boiled eggs? Enjoy them cut into wedges and sprinkled with salt and pepper. Or make a classic mayo-based egg salad (see below). Or use them as a protein-filled topping on a green salad. What about smearing the egg on toasted buttered bread? Yum. Oh and don’t forget about deviled eggs!

Because it is summer, I tried stuffing a homegrown tomato with egg salad. The basil addition to the egg salad is also a summertime add-on.

DEVILED TOMATO
You Will Need:
1 homegrown tomato
5 hard-boiled eggs
3 spoonfuls mayo
1 squirt dijon mustard
coarse salt
lots of freshly ground black pepper
paprika (optional)
basil leaves, chopped

Mix eggs, mayo, mustard, S&P together with a fork.
Stir in basil
Slice off one end of a tomato.
Scoop out watery core, leaving a thick outside.
Fill tomato with egg salad.
Sprinkle with paprika if desired.

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SAVORY PEACHES

June 12, 2011

I had big plans to make a peach custard pie. Fresh peaches- check, eggs- check, dough-check. BUT, this artisan goat cheese inspired me to make a sandwich and use the peaches in a savory way. All from the Sandy Springs Farmers Market (peaches, ciabatta, and goat cheese), these local ingredients tasted perfect together.

PEACH AND GOAT CHEESE SANDWICH
serves 1

You Will Need:
1 peach
1 tablespoon olive oil plus more for drizzling
1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
little bit red onion, sliced thin
4 basil leaves, chopped
good goat cheese
ciabatta bread

Drizzle bread with olive oil.
Toast the bread until golden.
Spread with goat cheese.
Toss peaches, olive oil, vinegar, onions and basil together.
Top cheese with peaches mixture.
Enjoy!

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It doesn’t happen often, but I fell out of the cooking mode for a few weeks. Recipes and food have been dancing around in my head, but life briefly got in the way. The upside is that I tried a few new restaurants and have spent no time cleaning the kitchen. But spring is here and that means fresh simple flavors are back! Because there are way too many inspiring cookbook on my shelf, I narrowed down my options and decided to cook from the Hot and Hot Fish Club Cookbook for a few weeks. This cookbook gift is full of innovative southern favorites that won’t let you down. First up…Veggie Minestrone with Pesto!

VEGGIE MINESTRONE with PESTO
adapted from the Hot and Hot Fish Club Cookbook

You Will Need:
2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1 leek, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 celery stalks, diced
3 carrots, diced
1 small zucchini, diced
2 yellow squashes, diced
2 tomatoes, diced
4 cups vegetable stock or broth
1/2 cup english peas (fresh or frozen)
1 (8 oz) can white beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup small shaped pasta (orzo, macaroni etc.)
salt and pepper
pesto (homemade preferred)
*I chose to leave the vegetables chunkier than the original recipe. A smaller dice would be great too! Feel free to add more broth if its too thick for your liking.

Heat olive oil in a medium size pot over medium heat.
Add onion, leeks and garlic.
Cook until translucent, careful not to burn. About 5 minutes.
Add celery and carrots.
Cook for 5 minutes, stirring a couple times.
Add zucchini, squash and tomatoes.
Cook for a few more minutes.
Add the stock and bring to a simmer.
Stir in peas and pasta and return to a simmer.
Simmer until the pasta is not raw but not too cooked either.
Add the beans and heat through.
Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
Ladle into a bowl and dollop pesto on top!

You will love this transitional dish! It has all the health and freshness of spring vegetables with enough warmth for cooler spring nights.

You will also love this cookbook. Stay tuned for more yummy spring meals!

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MUSSEL BOUND

February 17, 2011

Rustic and romantic was the theme of our anniversary weekend menus. I used french cookbooks as my inspiration and of course got stuck on Ina’s Barefoot in Paris. Her Mussels in White Wine Sauce felt very rustic; eating them requires no utensils. And the mussels felt romantic; what’s more intimate than two people sharing a single bowl of shellfish? The best part of this meal, besides enjoying it with my husband, is soaking toasted french bread in the buttery wine broth- sinful.

MUSSELS IN WHITE WINE SAUCE
adapted from Barefoot in Paris

You Will Need:
2 pounds of mussels and/or clams
1/3 cup flour
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
8 cloves of garlic, minced
8 ounces canned plum tomatoes
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons thyme leaves, chopped
1 cup white wine
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon pepper
Note: I combined mussels and clams because the store only had 1 pound of mussels. It was the perfect combo!

Soak mussels and flour in a bowl full of water for 30 minutes. This lets them disgorge any sand.
Drain the mussels.
Remove the “beard” from each with your hands.
Scrub the mussels under running water if they are dirty.
Discard any mussels that are open or whose shells are not tightly shut.

Heat butter and oil in a stockpot over medium heat.
Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes.
Add the garlic and cook for 3 more minutes or until the onions are translucent.
Add the tomatoes, parsley, thyme, wine, salt and pepper.
Bring to a boil.

Add the mussels to the boiling broth.
Cover the pot.
Cook over medium heat for 8-10 minutes, until all the mussels are opened.
Shake the pot, with the lid on, a couple times during cooking to prevent burning.
Discard any mussels that didn’t open.
Toast your bread (drizzle with some olive oil or butter)!

Pour mussels and broth in to a shallow bowl.
Serve with the toasted baguette and a glass of white wine.


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SNOWMAGEDDON SANDWICHES

January 11, 2011

Several snow days in a row leads to serious cabin fever.  Cabin fever leads to boredom eating and creativity in the kitchen.  When you are in a situation were you are forced to work with what you have, a grilled cheese is the perfect meal.  Undoubtedly good with any cheese and bread combination and easily dressed up with a spread of mustard or layer of veggies.  We made “His and Hers” Grilled Cheeses to satisfy individual cravings.  Warm, nostalgic and cheesy- great for a snow day!

GRILLED CHEESE BASICS

You Will Need:
Bread- anything you have, thick, thin, soft or crispy
Cheese- anything you have  (slices or shreds)
Sauces- maybe spread on some grainy mustard or horseradish sauce
Veggies- add a peppery green, peppers or onions
butter

Heat up a skillet with butter and grill up your sandwich until brown and melty. No skill required!

The “His” sandwich included sourdough bread, roast beef, havarti cheese and grainy mustard. The “Her” sandwich included sourdough bread, mozzarella cheese and arugula.


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A Favorite Staple

October 2, 2010

Homemade roasted red peppers find their way into many dishes in my kitchen- sandwiches, pasta, pizzas and salads. Unlike raw red peppers that are spicy and (might I be bold) not very good, roasted red peppers are sweet, soft and full of flavor. The roasting process is easy and you can store the roasted peppers in the fridge for a week or more.

ROASTED RED PEPPERS

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.
Place whole red peppers on a baking sheet.
Don’t oil them!
Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until charred and wrinkled.
Turn twice during the roasting.
Remove from the oven and immediately wrap in foil.
(this creates a steam room that will allow you to easily remove the skin)
Wait about 30 minutes until they are cooled enough to handle.
Remove charred skins.
Store in the refrigerator with olive oil or use immediately.

Place red peppers (dry) on a sheet pan and bake at 500 degrees. Turn every ten minutes or so…
Once charred, remove from pan and place on a piece of foil.
Wrap into a foil package to create a steam bath. Let steam for 30-ish minutes. Open package and peel off the charred skin.
Place roasted red pepper meat (without the skin) in a container. Salvage any of the juices you can.
For marinated roasted red peppers- add olive oil, balsamic vinegar, sea salt and pepper. Refrigerate until ready to use on a sandwich, in a pasta or topped on a salad.

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Preserved Pesto

August 23, 2010

Summer is coming to an end soon, and I will miss the abundance of it’s seasonal vegetables- sweet basil, homegrown tomatoes, crisp corn, squashes, cucumbers ….on and on. If you find any of these items on sale at the store or taking over your garden, preserve them! This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to pickle and can the summer veggies. I like to make batches of basil pesto to store in our freezer. There is nothing better than a meal reminiscent of summer in the middle of January.

Stay tuned for more preservation recipes such as tomato sauce, jam and pickles.

PRESERVED PESTO
makes 4 cups

You will need:
1/4 cup walnuts
1/4 cup pine nuts
9 cloves garlic, blanched
5 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon fresh black pepper
1 1/2 cups extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup parmigianoreggiano cheese, freshly grated*
To blanch the garlic:
Cover garlic in a saucepan with water by 1 inch. Bring to a boil over high heat then immediately drain. Let garlic cool to room temperature. I think this is the key to good pesto!
*Try grating the cheese in the processor before you start the pesto. Take it out while you make the recipe.
Process walnuts, pine nuts, and garlic in a food processor for 30 seconds.
Add basil leaves, salt and pepper.
Slowly pour the olive oil through the feed tube while the processor is running.
Puree until the pesto is smooth.
Add the parmigianoreggiano and puree for 1 minute more.
Pour in a portion size (1 cup) freezer container.

Coat with a thin film of olive oil.
Freeze until you crave fresh pesto on a cold winter day.
This is the base for the pesto in Pesto, asta and Peas.

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Do You Know Naan?

June 6, 2010

If you haven’t ever tried Naan then please put it on the top of your grocery list. Naan is an soft Indian bread you can buy frozen at Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods. (Trader Joe’s Quattro Formaggio is another great staple)

Lately I have been treating Naan like instant personal pizza dough, but it is a great substitution for any sandwich. Because summer = simple in my kitchen, choose one veggie, one herb and one cheese to top your Naan. Any combo will be great but here are two I know to be awesome…

Squash, Oregano and Quattro Formaggio Blend


Turn on oven to broil setting.
Slice squash fairly thin.
Roughly chop oregano.
Saute squash briefly in a small saucepan with oil to release some water.
Top frozen (or lightly microwaved) Naan with the squash, oregano and cheese.
Sprinkle with kosher salt.
Broil for a few minutes.

Tomato, Basil and Quattro Formaggio Blend

Turn oven to broil setting.
Slice tomatoes and set on a paper towel to soak up excess water.
Core tomatoes if still very watery.
Layer frozen or lightly microwaved Naan with tomatoes, basil and cheese.
Sprinkle with kosher salt.
Broil for a few minutes.

I hope these Naan pizzas bring excitement to your lunch like they did for me.

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