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Cooking Inspiration for the Month

8 Jan

During this reset season, the competition between the abstinence commitments made in December and the lingering desire for comforting food, especially when faced with frigid temperatures across the country, can be fierce. Maybe it’s best to ride somewhere in the middle so here are a few ideas.

Please share in the comments section below what you’ve tried and how it turned out.

Happy New Year!

BREAKFAST

The Perfect Make-Ahead Waffles from Marion Cunningham

We all have our idea of what makes the perfect waffle. In our family, these are it. Lighter than pancakes, they are slightly crispy on the outside but fluffy within. As a bonus, they’re quick to prep the night before and finish up in the morning. Try them served with butter and berries, either fresh or heated from the freezer.

Marion Cunningham Waffles

NOTE:

  • If you’re wanting to up the nutrition factor, you can substitute whole wheat pastry flour for white.
  • A teaspoon of vanilla adds a nice flavor boost but is not necessary.
  • Don’t be surprised by the thin batter.
  • Any extras will freeze well for a toaster oven snack.

APPETIZER

Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Meatballs from Cheeky Kitchen

Just in time for the Golden Globes this weekend or for the Superbowl on February 1st, these are a simple, sure hit. Ground turkey also works well.

Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Meatballs

MAIN DISHES

Weeknight Porchetta from Bon Appétit 

To simplify this recipe, skip nestling the heads of garlic around the tenderloin.

Weeknight Porchetta

Spaghetti and Drop Meatballs with Tomato Sauce from Mark Bittman

Mark Bittman does it again with meatballs and sauce made easy in one pot.

24TIME4-articleLarge_opt-3

VEGETABLES

Roasted Carrots with Honey, Sage and Garlic from Cannelle Et Vanille

Something healthy and light to go with that pork. Good with or without the yogurt.

Carrots

SNACK or SIDE

Corn Muffins from Food 52

Great to serve alongside the Porchetta above or Butternut Squash Soup below and perfect with chili, these are a fun alternative to corn bread. I prefer the buttery flavor to the bacon fat called for in the recipe.
Corn Muffins

LUNCH

Butternut Squash Soup from Half Baked Harvest

If you haven’t discovered the blog Half Baked Harvest, it’s worth checking out. Tieghan took over cooking for her big family of nine in her mid-teens and hasn’t missed a beat since. Her creative, delicious recipes, excellent photography and youthful flare have brought her well-deserved success.

Below is a recipe inspired by her Moroccan Butternut Squash Soup. Next time, I’ll try her version, but for today, I lacked a few ingredients. Regardless, it was full of flavor.

Butternut Squash Soup

Butternut Squash Soup with Curry and Leeks

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 cups Butternut Squash, peeled and cubed (about 2 small to medium)
  • 2 tablespoons Coconut Oil
  • 1 Leek, white portion only, or 1 small Onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon Curry Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh or dried Thyme, chopped
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • 1 Garlic clove, skin removed and crushed
  • 1 (14 ounce) can Coconut Milk
  • 2 cups Chicken or Vegetable Broth
  • 4 ounces Goat Cheese, softened

Optional Toppings: Plain Greek Yogurt or Goat Cheese and/or roughly chopped Cilantro and Pistachios

PREPARATION

  1. To make peeling easier, cut off the bottom of the squash and put on a plate in the microwave for 3 minutes. Peel, remove seeds and cut into approximately 1-inch cubes.
  2. Add the coconut oil to a large soup pot set over medium heat.
  3. Once hot, add the leek or onion and cook for 3-5 minutes or until soft.
  4. Add the cubed butternut squash, curry powder, paprika, cumin, cayenne and thyme. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Add the garlic clove and stir for 10 seconds or so to meld the flavor but avoid scorching.
  7. Pour in the coconut milk and broth.
  8. Bring to boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes or until the butternut squash is fork tender.
  9. Once the squash is tender, add the goat cheese (optional).
  10. Remove the pot from the stove and allow to cool slightly, then puree the soup in a blender or food processor. Return the soup back to the stove and heat through.
  11. To serve, ladle the soup into bowl, topping with Greek yogurt or crumbled goat cheese and garnishing with chopped cilantro and/or pistachios.

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Summertime

23 May

Click the image for recipes.

SUMMER STRAWBERRY MUFFINS

Strawberry Muffins

 JUICY SLIDERS

Juicy Sliders

Grilled or Baked Herb Chicken with Green Aioli

Herb Chicken with Aiolias a Main Dish

Herb Chicken with Aioli Appetizeror an Appetizer

The Best of the Classic Chocolate Chip Cookie

Chocolate Chip Cookie

 Creamy Homemade Ice CreamCreamy Homemade Ice Cream

Marin Sun Farms: The True Pasture to Fork Experience with Chef Cooking Tip

1 May

Farm to Table has become a common restaurant tagline as the burgeoning movement touting the benefits of local, organic foods is increasingly influencing patron purchasing decisions. The notion of garden beds brimming with perfectly aligned rows of greens or cattle grazing rolling pastoral hillsides can’t help but incentivize diners to drop in for some deliciously fresh fare.

Farm

Not only will you get a meal made with ingredients at the peak of flavor but you’ll be supporting restaurant owners and chefs who buy from local farm suppliers.

MARIN SUN FARMS RESTAURANT

David Evans, a fourth generation cattle rancher in Point Reyes, is a pioneer in the local meat movement. His restaurant Marin Sun Farms is more than just a dining destination as it is located at the gateway of a national seashore with endless possibilities of exploration. Just off the main street in Point Reyes Station, it’s a perfect start or end to a day’s adventures with incredible food that comes from the land that surrounds it.

For a review of the restaurant, click below for my segment on Check Please Bay Area or go to the KQED website for a written version.

Check Please Bay Area

Check Please Bay Area Review of Marin Sun Farms

IS GRASS-FED BEEF WORTH A HIGHER PRICE?

The price of a burger at Marin Farms will run you $15. It’s juicy and deliciously prepared with MSF Bacon, Gruyère cheese and house made pickles. And because grass-fed beef is lower in calories and has more omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, beta-carotene, vitamins and minerals, it’s healthier than your typical burger.

Marin Sun Farms Burger

But taste and nutrition aside, is grass-fed beef worthy of a higher price tag? For many, the value lies in choosing to eat meat more responsibly with consideration to the welfare of animals and the environmental impact of industrial farming practices.

MORE on MARIN SUN FARMS 

Sustainable Food Model and Food Shed             

Marin Sun FarmsFor information on Marin Sun Farms mission to create a more sustainable food system and their Food Shed approach, click here.

And for a list of their co-producers, click here.

Impact of Drought           

Marin Sun Farms DroughtLack of rain in Northern California is reducing the amount of grazing land and impacting grass-fed meat production. For the first time, Marin Sun Farms is needing to supplement with grain. To be transparent, they have created three-tiered labeling system. For updated information, click here.

Tips for Making the Perfect Steak Indoors                  

from Marin Sun Farms Head Chef Paul Bondick 

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Sprinkle kosher salt and pepper on both sides of the meat and rub with a little bit of olive oil. Let sit at room temperature for a 1/2 hour.
  • Heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high flame until hot.
  • Sear meat for 3-4 minutes a side.
  • Place the skillet in the oven for 8 minutes for medium-rare. Use a temperature probe for accuracy.
  • Spritz with lemon juice. (Optional)

For meat perfectly done to your specifications, use the following for internal temperature:

Rare 125º

Medium rare 130º-135º

Medium 135º-140º

Medium well 140º-150º

Well done 155+º

 

Shepherd’s Pie in a Skillet

8 Oct

Shepherds Pie is crave worthy food. Homey, flavorful and satisfying. This recipe has been adapted from Cooks Illustrated and I admit, for someone who disses this publications’ sometimes overly step-intensive preparations, there are a few like the Best Roast Chicken and Blueberry Muffins that prove that Cooks Illustrated is not always such serious business. This one has no unusual ingredients and although there are two separate elements, it comes together fairly quickly. And the leftovers are just as delicious as round one. Continue reading

Juicy Sliders

3 Jul

Juicy SlidersBurgers are a summertime staple and have come a long way from the overly cooked patties on a parched white roll that I remember from childhood. We had no turkey, buffalo or elk options. Or lamb or goat which one of my favorite restaurants, Marin Sun Farms in Pt. Reyes, has on their spring menu.

Continue reading

Sausage, Spinach and Tomato Pasta

29 Apr

Sausage Spinach and Tomato Sauce

This is a favorite weeknight meal with a number of variations. One of the main flavor determinants is the sausage. I like  the Chicken Tuscan Sausage from Woodlands Market in Kentfield, but any handmade chicken, pork or beef sausage works. Continue reading

Spring Vegetable and Chicken Stir Fry

19 Mar

Spring Vegetable and Chicken Stir FryWith the great variety of spring vegetables surfacing at the Farmers Market and not enough time to prepare each one in some new way, we’ve been making a lot of stir fries. I don’t have a wok but have found that a frying pan works well too. The beauty of this type of preparation is its simplicity and versatility. You can use any combination of veggies and add either uncooked or leftover chicken, beef, pork or fish (if already cooked, add toward the end). Then incorporate whatever seasoning you like. With the recipe below, the leeks, onions, mushrooms and garlic hold so much flavor that very little additional spicing is needed. Continue reading