16 July 2018

NYT Chinese Sesame Cucumbers

It's been quite the whirlwind of a summer, folks. Already we're more than halfway through and I'm wishing I'd been more productive. To be fair, I've been working, but I've also been doing things for me, like reading, visiting family/friends, gardening, and cooking.

Speaking of those last two, this year I decided to grow cucumbers for the first time. Shana loves cucumbers. Our CSA was selling garden plants, so I picked one variety of cucumber to try. The variety I picked, Diva, is amazing! I don't love cucumber, but even I like these ones. I wasn't prepared to like the cucumbers, but I was even less prepared for how well they seem to be doing. I think the vines grew multiple inches per day and I'm pretty sure the cucumbers just magically appear.

Before I started growing them, we'd often receive a cucumber a week in our CSA box, which was just enough to put on a salad or Shana to eat as a snack. However, with the rate that they grow, I needed a recipe that used a lot of cucumber. Shana reminded me of one we'd had at a potluck years ago and it fit the bill perfectly.

This cool summer cucumber salad is a great side dish, snack, or appetizer that doesn't heat up the kitchen when summer temperatures soar. Plus, it's delicious and will keep you coming back for more.

That's part of my garden in the background! 

07 June 2018

Red Lentil Curry in the Instant Pot

Most home cooks I know have stacks of recipes they've been meaning to try. I have a couple of tangible stacks, but I also have a couple of virtual "stacks" - emails with links and a category of posts in my feedly account. A while ago I was perusing one of my email collections and came across a recipe that I remembered our friends Max and Sara feeding us ages ago.

In looking over the recipe, I thought that I could make it in our Instant Pot. Plus, I've been really enjoying foods with flavors from the Middle East recently and this fits in very well.

After making slight adaptations to the original recipe, I ended up with something that Shana and I both absolutely LOVE! This easy, high-protein, high-fiber, low-fat meal has been on regular rotation.

28 May 2018

Rainbow Quinoa Salad

At the beginning of this year, a high school aged friend of ours decided to go vegan. We invited her and her mom, whom we know from an organization in town, over for vegan dinner. Her mom was very supportive of her daughter's plan to be vegan, but didn't quite know what to cook for her when she was also cooking for her 11 year old son, 4 year old daughter, herself, and her husband. We figured that we could invite them over and answer vegan food questions while also providing an example of a delicious vegan meal.

In asking what they'd like to eat, they said they were pretty open to flavors, so we chose to serve one of Shana's favorites - broccoli, tofu, and garlic sauce. They asked what to bring and we suggested "something that goes with dinner?" In other words, we were super unhelpful. However, our friends rose the challenge and brought a delicious Asian quinoa salad! Overall, dinner was a giant success. We answered all sorts of vegan-related questions, laughed a ton, and ate amazing food.

Since our dinner, we've eaten this salad a few times. I tweaked the original recipe, found at Two Peas & Their Pod, to make it more our style - doubling some veggies, removing some ingredients, and adjusting the dressing. It's SO delicious! It's also great for the unseasonably hot temps we've been experiencing - when I just don't want to eat anything. This salad has tons of protein and fiber and is a feast for your eyes as well.

07 May 2018

Seitan Nuggets

You know the videos that get shared on social media sites? The ones that show a pair of hands cooking a dish from start to finish in a minute or so? That's where I found this recipe.

Of course, for the life of me, I can't find that video any longer. If you find it, let me know so I can cite it, will you? Luckily, I watched the video a few times and wrote down the recipe/instructions. Then I put the paper in my stacks of recipes and promptly forgot about it.

Sometime this winter I got sick of everything we were eating, went digging through one of my "you should try this" stacks of recipes and found my scribbled notes for these seitan nuggets. They went on the meal plan for that week, dipped in barbecue sauce, and then they were gone.

We ate all of them. We did it again a few days later, and the next time, and the next. So worth it.

25 March 2018

Smoky Quinoa and Vegetable Soup

Full of good-for-you and easy-to-find ingredients - such as sweet potato, quinoa, and peas - plus flavors that are out of this world delicious (smoked paprika for the win), this amazing soup has been on regular rotation at our house for a while. Plus, even though the calendar says it's late March, we've been dealing with below-normal temps and even snow days causing cancelled schools! With all of that, it's no wonder this soup has made regular occurrences in our meal plans. But let me explain how we even got to this recipe.

First, Shana figured out about a year ago that she looooooves quinoa. She wants to eat it all the time in any form she can. Second, we had a dinner a while ago with our friends the Thompsons. They cooked a version of this soup from America's Test Kitchen's vegetarian cookbook. You can even see a video of the original recipe here. It was their idea to use smoked paprika. Third, we had family stay with us a while ago on their drive from PA to WI. We figured this would be an easy dinner for everyone (minus the youngest, who doesn't really like dinners and had PB&J). It was at this meal that I subbed in the sweet potato, because when I went to grab the white potatoes I was *sure* we had, I found them curiously absent. But the sweet potatoes were a perfect substitution.

All of this adds up to a hearty and healthy deep red soup - due to the smoked paprika and tomato paste - filled with vibrant colors and textures. We've fed this soup to so many folks and everyone has loved it! In addition to everyone above, it's been a hit at our monthly vegan potluck and wowed our friend Max's parents when they were in town. It's a bowl of warming winter magic for your tired taste buds.

The red color is from both the smoked paprika and the tomato paste.