Make dinner tonight, inspired!

Wondering what to make for dinner tonight? This is your place for quick and healthy meal inspirations. Here you'll find recipes for seasonally focused dinners, desserts, breakfasts, and everything in between.

My cooking focuses on the freshest ingredients prepared in a simple and careful way, to highlight their uniqueness. My own diet is primarily vegetarian, but does include sustainable fish and seafood, and is gluten free.

Thank you for reading. I look forward to sharing some of my favorite recipes with you!

27 February 2011

Baked Oatmeal

Today was the second time I made this scrumptious baked oatmeal recipe. I must admit that I'm not a big fan of oatmeal in general. I find it a bit mushy; just not really my thing. Anyways, this recipe appealed to me since it was baked and packed with lots of crunchy nuts and seeds. I imagined it tasting more like a hearty breakfast crumble, which indeed it did, only much less sweet.

The first time I made the recipe pretty much exact and it was quite good but this time I changed it up a bit and I think it's about perfect now. This is such a simple and warming weekend breakfast that can be quickly reheated all week long for a healthy meal before work or school. That's just what I intend to do this week. I hope you will too.


Baked Oatmeal:
Yields 1, 2 qt gratin dish (about 10-12 servings)

2 cups rolled oats ( I use certified gluten free oats)
1/4 cup toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup toasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup toasted cashews, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup toasted sunflower seeds
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp quatre epices (or the equivalent measure of white pepper, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 cup light coconut milk
1 cup low-fat milk (or almond milk)
2 ripe pears, cored and chopped into 1" pieces
1/4 cup fresh cranberries (if frozen, do not defrost)

1) Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the oats, chopped nuts, sunflower seeds, cranberries, salt, and spices. Stir to combine.

2) In another small bowl, whisk the egg, maple syrup, coconut milk & milk to combine. Add the wet mixture to the dry ingredients and stir until all is well incorporated.

3) Spread the chopped pears and fresh cranberries in the bottom of a 2 quart baking dish. Pour the oat mixture over top and gently level with a spatula. Bake, uncovered, for 30-35 minutes or until the center is set and the edges are golden brown. Serve warm.

26 February 2011

Whole Lemon Bars

These are perhaps the best lemon bars I have ever eaten... ever. The recipe is adapted from the ever inspiring David Lebovitz's blog. I was attracted to the recipe right off, once reading that it used a whole lemon. I happen to adore lemon bars and grew up eating them all the time. My Mom was not really a baker, but she made a darn good lemon bar, which I always asked for at every special occasion. Needless to say, I've eaten a lot of them over the years. The older I got though, the more I found them increasingly too sweet for my taste. I find that now too, with nearly every lemon bar I have met in recent past. I think that's just what most people have come to expect from a lemon bar, a cloyingly sweet jelly-centered bar, with a doughy cookie 'crust'. So unfortunate.

I was thrilled to taste these and after practically inhaling the entire first batch on my own, I had to make a second batch just to make sure I really did like them as much as I thought I did. That it wasn't some fluke or something the first time.

Anyhow, they're fantastic. They have a bitter edge from using the whole lemon, pith and all, which I quite enjoy. The center is more of a lemon cream and not that jello-looking translucent center we've come to expect. The crust is golden and crispy. I used ground lavender blossoms in mine as well as grated lemon zest, for another layer of flavor.

Such a simple and pleasing treat these are. I hope they will become a staple in your bake-sale, tea party, summer luncheon, Sunday couch snacking while drinking tea.... repertoire.


Whole Lemon Bars:
Yields 1, 9"9 pan (about 9 large squares)

For the crust:
1 cup flour ( I used organic brown rice flour)
1/4 cup sugar
pinch salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 TB grated lemon zest
2 tsp ground lavender blossoms

For the filling:
1 1/2 lemons ( I used 1 large Meyer lemon and 1/2 Bearss lime)
3/4 cup sugar
3 TB freshly squeezed orange juice ( I used blood orange)
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
3 TB unsalted butter, melted

1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9"x9" brownie pan with cooking spray, then press in parchment to cover the bottom and sides of the pan.

2) In the bowl of a standing mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, combine all the ingredients for the crust. Mix until the dough comes together. It will be quite soft. Press evenly into the parchment lined baking pan, using your fingers. Bake for 25 minutes or until the crust is evenly golden brown.

3) While the crust is cooking, make the filling. Cut the lemon in half and remove the seeds. Cut the lemon/ lime into chunks. Place the chunks into a blender, along with the sugar and orange juice. Let the blender run until the lemon is very well pureed. Add in the eggs, cornstarch, salt, and melted butter. Process until well combined and almost smooth.

4) Remove the crust from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees. Pour the lemon filling into the hot crust and return to the oven for about 25 minutes, or until the filling is just set in the center.

5) Let the bars cool for 15-20 minutes at room temperature, then finish cooling completely in the fridge. Using the sides of the parchment, lift the square out of the pan. Slice off the edges and discard. Then slice the bars into 9 equal pieces, about 2.5" x 2.5". Serve chilled. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

16 February 2011

Quick Chickpea Coconut Curry

This quick dinner is my new favorite thing. Cooking a bunch of vegetables together with spices and legumes and serving it over long grain brown rice with cucumber raita on the side. Yumm.

I love Indian flavors but sometimes don't love eating in Indian restaurants. I often find the food served to be heavy and oily and when it's not, it's generally too spicy for me. I love making Indian food at home though since I can make it just how I like it... deep and savory, just spicy enough, hearty yet not heavy.

I'm hardly a traditionalist so I mix flavors I like together, in this case coconut and Indian curry spices. I know, coconut milk lends itself more to Thai curries but this really does work. Next time you're wondering what to make for dinner, adapt this flexible recipe to what you have on hand.


Quick Chickpea Coconut Curry:
Yields 4 servings

2, 15 oz cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed well (I like Eden brand)
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped into 1/2" dice
2 ribs celery, chopped into 1/2" dice
1 bunch swiss chard, sliced into 1/2" ribbons
2 TB tomato paste
1 TB sherry vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
1/2 cup light coconut milk
1/2 cup low-sodium vegetable stock
2 TB olive oil
2 tsp yellow curry powder ( I like Morton & Basset curry powder)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp cayenne (or to taste)

1) In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil. Add the onion, carrot, celery, salt & pepper and stir until the vegetables just begin to soften. Add the curry powder, cayenne, and cumin seeds, and stir until the spices are fragrant. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, for 2-3 minutes. Add the vinegar, and stir to deglaze the pan. Stir in the chickpeas, chard, coconut milk, and vegetable stock. Cover the pot and bring to a simmer over medium heat.

2) Cook for about 7-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender and the liquid has reduced by about half. Serve over brown basmati rice with cucumber & yogurt sauce alongside.

12 February 2011

Rosemary Olive Oil Cake with Chocolate

This lovely olive oil cake is from Kim Boyce's book, Good to the Grain. It's a great book, one of the best I've seen about baking with alternative flours. That said, most of her recipes use all- purpose flour in combination with other flours, not strictly special flours. I rarely bake with AP flour at all, so have adapted the recipe to work with both spelt and gluten free flours. The recipe came out great with the substitutions but feel free to use whatever flour you prefer and/or have on hand.

I had a few problems getting the original recipe to bake properly and also found it was prone to collapsing once baked. I made some changes and in my experience it worked much better with a few adjustments. I've made those changes reflective in the recipe below.

I think this dessert has all the makings of a perfect finish to a special Valentine's Day meal. It's not overly sweet and although it does contain chocolate, it's hardly traditional. Also, it's very easy and fast to put together. It's best served at room temperature and keeps well on the counter for a few days, so it's perfect for making ahead.

Wishing you all much sweetness this Valentine's Day. May we use this 'holiday' as a reminder to appreciate those in our lives that we care most about, not only with hearts and flowers, but with kindness and gratitude each and every day.


Rosemary Olive Oil Cake with Chocolate:
Yields 1, 9"x 3" x 5" loaf

1 1/2 cups brown rice flour
1/2 cup blanched almond flour
1/4 millet flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
3/4 tsp salt
3 eggs, at room temperature
1 cup olive oil ( I used a full bodied extra virgin but nothing too special is necessary)
3/4 cup milk
1 1/2 TB fresh rosemary, finely chopped
5 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped into 1/2" pieces (I used 70%)

1) Preheat the oven to 340 degrees. Brush a loaf pan with olive oil. Separate the eggs, placing the whites in the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment. Place the egg yolks in a medium bowl. Whisk in the milk, 1/2 cup of the sugar, and the olive oil into the yolks. Set aside. Beat the egg whites on high speed until foamy. Slowly drizzle in the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form.

2) Stir the flour, salt, baking powder, and rosemary together in a small bowl. Stir the dry ingredients into the egg yolk mixture, in 2 additions, until well combined.

3) Place 1/3 of the egg white mixture into the rest of the batter. Stir gently to lighten the batter, then fold in the remaining whites. Fold gently, lifting and turning, so as not to deflate the egg whites. When the batter is combined, gently stir in the chopped chocolate.

4) Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake at 340 degrees for about 55-60 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Slice only when completely cool.