Coffee-molasses glazed pork chops

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This Alton Brown inspired glaze is so easy and versatile, you’ll want to keep it in your regular rotation. I used it on chicken thighs and pork chops, but I think that it would be great on roasted veggies, tofu, salmon and most other meats. I served it with a carrot-yam puree and seared broccoli.

  • 1 cup strong brewed coffee (I actually just dumped in fine ground coffee, about 1/2 cup, and some warm water. Worked well!)
  • 1/2 cup dark molasses
  • 3 tablespoons dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon chili flakes
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • salt and pepper to taste

Marinate the protein in the a zip-top bag for 2-3 hours and then grill to desired doneness (3-4 minutes/side for pork chops). Strain the marinade into a small saucepan and reduce until syrupy. Drizzle a little glaze over each serving. If using on roasted veggies, I would suggest reducing the marinade down and tossing with the veggies during the last 5 minutes of cooking.

French onion soup – warmth in a bowl

I will confess upfront that this soup was consumed so fast that I didn’t get a photo of the final plated (bowled?) dish. I served it with toasted sourdough croutons and melted Gruyere cheese, and I can assure you, it was tasty.

I made the stock from scratch, using meaty short ribs, dried maitake mushrooms, and a bunch of veggies.

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Next, I slowly caramelized about 5 large sliced onions in lots of butter and 4-5 cloves of sliced garlic. I started them on the stove and then moved them to a 300 F oven, stirring them every 30 minutes until they were a dark brown.

I strained the broth, shredded the bits of meat and added those plus the broth into the pan of onions, scraping up all of the browned bits. I added a dash of Cognac and adjusted the salt and pepper. To serve, I topped individual bowls with toasted cubes of sourdough (I find cubes easier to eat than a whole toast) and shredded Gruyere, melted under the broiler.

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It’s squash roasting season, obviously, but I wanted to make a specific plug for spaghetti squash. Cut it in half, scrape out the seeds, coat with olive oil and fill the halves with sliced garlic, herb sprigs and a sprinkle of salt.

Place, cut side down, on a baking sheet and bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes until the squash strands separate as you drag a fork across them. The texture should remain crisp, and it’s better to under-bake than over. If you really want to soften it, just throw it back in the oven for a few more minutes. An over-baked squash is just mushy and sad.

I like to toss the strands with toasted walnuts, red pepper flakes, black pepper and shards of parmesan or aged gouda. It’s also great coated with some fresh pesto.

Sometimes you just need nachos

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With everything going on, sometimes you just need nachos. I am not saying that nachos fix anything, but they don’t hurt, that’s for sure. I’ll take all the comfort I can get, plus, I need fuel for getting back up to keep fighting.

These particular nachos included pinto beans, ground bison cooked with onions, garlic and my homemade spice mix (cumin, ghost chilis, chipotles, black pepper and coriander), cheddar cheese, pickled jalapenos, greek yogurt, cilantro and (jarred, *gasp!*) salsa. It was exactly what I needed. Also, please note that I do not endorse “scoop” shaped chips, but these were on sale. What can you do?

To make up for the fact that there is no recipe in this post, here is a photo of some chopped carrots that ended up looking like a heart! I was taking a picture of the knife to send to the gift-giver that gifted it to me, and I noticed the shape of the carrots afterwards.img_0308

Spicy lamb, cherry, smoked mozzarella flatbread

A memory of a spiced lamb flatbread in a Turkish restaurant in North Carolina inspired this version. I didn’t have enough tomatoes on hand for the lamb mixture, so I used cherries and cherry tomatoes. A winning combination.

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I’ve already posted recipes for pizza crust here, so feel free to make your favorite kind. I’ll focus on the lamb topping here.

  • 1 lb ground lamb
  • 1 onion, diced small
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ras el hanout spice mix
  • 1 cup fresh cherries, pitted, quartered
  • 1/2 cup smoked mozzarella
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

Brown the lamb, onion and garlic in a little olive oil over medium high heat. Add salt, ras el hanout and cherries and stir to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

Roll out your dough to the size of a large cookie sheet and place on parchment paper on a sheet pan. Pack on the lamb topping so that it adheres in one layer. Distribute the cheese evenly and place in a 500 F oven for 15-20 minutes or until the bottom of the crust is crispy and golden. It should sound hollow when tapped.

Scatter the tomatoes over the top, slice and serve.

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Magic quiche (crustless egg pie)

My mom used to make a betty crocker recipe called something like “impossible hamburger pie,” that consisted of bisquick, eggs, and some kind of filling and cheese. I had the idea to try the same recipe structure, using gluten-free biscuit mix instead. It is fantastic, and easy, and can be made with nearly any ingredients. Perfect go-to weeknight meal (plus leftovers were delish for lunch).

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Magic Quiche

  • 1/2 cup gluten free biscuit mix (or regular mix)
  • 1 cup milk (regular or dairy free)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 lb meat or meatless filling (I used garlic pork sausage. You could use mushrooms, veggie meat product, ground beef or lamb, etc)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 bunch kale, washed and chopped
  • 1 cup sharp cheddar or your favorite cheese

Whisk the biscuit mix, milk and egg together. Set aside.

Brown the meat or meatless filling in a large pan over medium high heat. Add the onion and stir to cook until transparent. Remove to a greased pie pan. Cook the kale in the same pan with a drizzle of olive oil and pinch of salt until wilted. Add to pie pan. I sprinkled in some chopped basil, just because I had some growing at the time. Green onions and other fresh herbs would be great as well.

Pour the egg mixture evenly over the fillings in the pie pan. Top with the shredded cheese and bake for 30-35 minutes in a 400 F oven or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. As with most gluten free baking, the cook time can be a bit longer. If you are using regular biscuit mix, cut the time by 5 minutes.

Arepas with eggs, salsa, and cilantro-jalapeño crema

Fresh arepas are closer at hand than you might think, and an impressive addition to the classic brunch combo of eggs and salsa.

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  • 1 lb masa harina (fine corn flour), about 4 cups
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons fat (can be coconut oil, butter, lard, vegetable shortening)
  • 4 cups warm water

Mix masa, salt and fat together until combined, and then add the water, stirring to mix evenly. Let the dough rest, covered, for about 10 minutes. This allows the masa to hydrate, soaking up the water.

Portion the dough into about 8 equal balls and flatten to about 1/2 inch in thickness. Cook each arepa in a hot, oiled pan for 2 minutes on each side. This “seals” the arepa and ensures a crispy crust. Then put the arepas into the oven at 350 F for 10-15 minutes to finish cooking through. They are done when they sound hollow when tapped and are crispy on the outside.

You can slice these open to stuff with fillings, or top with eggs, salsa and crema, as I did. I’ll let y’all cook your eggs how you like and pick your favorite salsa recipe, but here is a simple recipe for the crema.

Cilantro jalapeño crema

  • 1 cup cilantro, washed and dried (can use leaves and stems too)
  • 1 jalapeño, stem removed
  • juice of one lime
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 1 cup sour cream or greek yogurt
  • salt and pepper to taste

Mix in blender until smooth and season to taste. This is great as a salad dressing or dip as well.

Pesto-caesar with kale, christmas beans and toasted pepitas

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Dark green dino kale (the flat, oval shaped kind), heavily massaged and coated in a pesto-caesar style dressing and toasted pepitas with pretty, speckled christmas beans and cornbread on the side. The christmas beans are also called chestnut beans, and are in the lima family. They have a nutty-sweet, smooth interior, and are just lovely. Unlike most beans, they keep their pretty pattern even after cooking.

Pesto-ceasar dressing

  • 2 cups basil, washed, stemmed
  • 1 cup shredded parmesan, romano or other hard Italian cheese
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 anchovies, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • white wine vinegar or lemon juice to taste, start with 2-3 tablespoons
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • salt, to taste
  • 2 bunches Tuscan kale
  • 1/4 cup toasted pepitas

Put all of the ingredients into a blender and let whir until smooth and creamy. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. I will admit that I actually add an entire tin of anchovies, but I don’t recommend that unless you really love that fishy, umami, which I do! You can also leave them out completely to make this a vegetarian dressing.

Wash and de-stem the kale, tearing into small pieces. Massage the kale with a few tablespoons of dressing for at least 5 minutes. This will improve the texture immensely. Add more dressing to taste and sprinkle with toasted pepitas.

Toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)

  • 2 cups raw, shelled pumpkin seeds
  • 1 egg white, beaten to loosen
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground sumac

Mix all of the ingredients together and spread out on a greased or lined cookie sheet in one layer. Bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes, or until turning golden and starting to puff out in the middle. The pepitas will change shape from flat to more football shaped as they toast. In case you are wondering, the egg white helps the spices to stick and creates an extra crispy coating. You can leave it out if you prefer, and use a drizzle of olive oil and water instead.

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Mu shu pork with homemade pancakes

Mu shu (fill in your preferred protein here: chicken, pork, tofu, etc) has always been a favorite go-to Chinese take-out fave for me. I find that even in restaurants where quality is meh, the mu shu is a safe bet. Like many restaurant dishes, if I like it, I figure out how to make it. Mu shu can be super easy by substituting in flour tortillas for the pancakes, but making the pancakes from scratch isn’t too much work if you have some extra time (and don’t mind flour all over the kitchen…and you)

  • 8oz white flour (you could probably use whole wheat, but might need a bit more water)
  • pinch of salt
  • 3/4 cup boiling water

Mix the flour and salt together in a bowl and add in the boiling water. Stir to combine and then knead with your hands for 5 minutes or so. Cover in plastic wrap and let rest for 30 minutes.

Roll dough into a long snake and cut into 12 pieces. Traditionally, and in order to get a really thin pancake, you then dip one piece of dough into toasted sesame oil and press against another piece of dough. By rolling and cooking these paired pancakes together, you can peel them apart at the end to get 2 super thin pancakes. Depending on your mastery of this, it can be a more or less successful technique. You may also want to just roll each piece on its own using a well floured rolling pin and counter.

Either way, cook the pancakes in a dry cast iron skillet over medium heat for about 1 minute. Flip and cook for another 30 seconds. If you’ve rolled and cooked them as pairs, be sure to peel them apart (gently) while still hot. Cover with a dish towel to keep warm while you cook the rest.

The filling often has sliced napa cabbage, wood ear mushrooms, omelette strips, scallions and some kind of protein. I survey the fridge and make it with whatever I have on hand, and it seems to work. This time I had green cabbage, mustard greens, carrots, and shitake mushrooms hanging around. I also had some fresh bamboo shoot from our CSA that was really fun to play with. (tip: you have to boil it for about an hour before you can peel, slice and use it) The basic idea is to stir-fry your veggies, starting with the ones that take longer to cook, with garlic, ginger, soy and sesame.

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I like to cook the veggies in batches, moving the cooked ones to a large bowl. It allows me to get the pan screaming hot for each new type of veggie, which gives me that little bit of char that tastes so good. I made omelette strips by whisking 2 eggs with a tablespoon of toasted sesame oil, salt and some chive blossoms. Cook in a non-stick skillet until firm and cut into strips.

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To serve, each person takes a pancake and smears on some hoisin sauce (also called plum sauce, which can be found in most grocery stores, or you can try making your own!). I also like to add some chili paste for heat. Add some filling, roll up and enjoy!

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Rhubarb, apple, strawberry crumble

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Our CSA share came with rhubarb this week, and I couldn’t resist making a crumble. With my family visiting (including a loved one who can’t eat milk but can have yogurt), I also whipped up some easy frozen yogurt to go with it for a special treat.

There were only 4 stalks of rhubarb in the share, so I bulked up the crumble with strawberries and apples. The apples didn’t cook down as much as the other fruit (not surprising), so they had more of a bite to them. Not a bad thing, but I might cook them a bit on their own before adding to the crumble next time. I always make a double batch of topping, because everyone loves extra topping. I don’t use a recipe anymore, so if you want precision, I am not the place. I think if you have the general ratios, you’ll be fine. Just taste it before you bake it to make sure it has enough sugar, spice, salt, etc.

  • 4 stalks rhubarb, leaves trimmed away (they’re poisonous) and diced (bright red is best)
  • 1 apple, peeled, cored, diced
  • 1 pint strawberries, hulled, quartered if large
  • juice and grated zest of 1/2 lime or lemon
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • pinch of ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch

Mix all above ingredients together in a large bowl to blend. Place them into a buttered pie or tart pan. I like to use a wide, shallow dish to allow for the extra topping to get crispy.

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  • 1 cup whole wheat flour (can use gluten free flour)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats (be sure they are gluten free if you making this gluten free, not all oats are)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter, diced
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Place flour, sugar, oats, salt and cinnamon into a food processor and mix to combine. Pulse in the diced butter until mixture looks like coarse pebbles. Add the walnuts and vanilla and pulse to combine. Take handful of the mixture and squeeze together, crumbling over the fruit filling. Cover fruit evenly with topping.

Bake in a preheated 375F oven for 40-45 minutes until golden brown, crispy and bubbling around the edges. Let cool slightly before serving. This is also yummy room temp or cold.

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I served mine with some strawberry-raspberry fro yo. Take your favorite full-fat fruit yogurt and sweeten a little bit more. I used maple syrup. Sweetness is dulled by the cold temperature of fro yo or ice cream, so you want the starting mixture to be slightly sweeter than what the final product will taste like. I also added some lime zest and a dash of salt. Process in your ice cream maker and serve right away for soft-serve style or freeze until hard for scoop-able fro yo.