4.2018

Zion Nat'l Park, Columbine

recipes

Romance! Food! LOVE!

My sweetie and I just savored the most divine meal — an early Valentine’s dinner — since he will be out of town on Monday. I wanted tonight to be special…and it surely was!

My winter CSA box was picked up last eve, rewarding me with a veggie array to create a masterpiece meal. I stopped at Nevada County Seafood on the way home from yoga this morning for two gorgeous, fresh-off-the-boat swordfish steaks.

Ok, here goes: I started with the massive amount of cauliflower greens, after removing them to reveal the luscious head that was nestled inside. To them, I added two giant handfuls of arugula for a quick saute with garlic chunks, in olive oil.

The cauliflower head was sliced thickly, rubbed with olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper and roasted for ten-ish minutes at 400 degrees.

I cut the CSA carrots into thick strips and briefly sauteed them in coconut oil with grated candied ginger. OH MY! This carrot concoction may become my new favorite veggie side dish. The combo of the coconut oil and its rich flavor with the sassiness of the ginger is simply amazing. I just made that dish up, by the way, as I was contemplating how this meal was going to come together. Brilliant!

A world-renowned chef gave me the instructions for the swordfish. Fish is one food that I struggle with in terms of knowing how to prepare it, and I rarely do cook it because of this. He assured me that rubbing it in olive oil and sprinkling it with salt and pepper, before broiling it for a few minutes on either side was the secret…and he was right. Thank you, Brian! Xoxo. I made a sauce of white wine, butter, capers, and fresh meyer lemon juice. Can I just tell you that the fish turned out to be restaurant quality?! Simply fab!

All of this was happening at the same time, so I was mindful about the what/when/how’s and completely enjoyed the time I spent creating this special dinner to share with my true love. This meal will be remembered by us for it’s beauty — so many colors, textures, and flavors: the fish was lovingly laid on top of the sauteed garlicky greens, over which the lemon-caper sauce was drizzled; the carrots nestled alongside in a gooey, delicious puddle of coconut-y ginger glaze, and the roasted cauliflower took its own proud place on our plates, standing tall in 3-D glory.

We ate slowly, enjoying each other and the spectacular flavors. Sigh. It was magic.

We’re nearly done digesting that gourmet meal. Dessert is planned for 8:30 PM, 30 minutes from now and 90 minutes from the completion of dinner (give or take a few moments of smooching). The piece de resistance will be a decadent chocolate sauce that is simply made by melting an organic dark chocolate bar and after it cools, adding in 1/2 cup of whipping cream. We’ll be dipping–with our fingers–juicy ripe slices of pear and mango into this sensuous sauce. Imagine it. Yes. 

Cooking for Lovers! A Heartfelt Dinner for Lovers of the Heart and Real Food

Dates for a Date!

Ingredients:

  • Medjool dates
  • Goat cheese
  • Pistachio nuts, chopped

Preparation:

1.   Slice open the date, leaving it intact at the bottom.

2.   Remove the pit.

3.   Smear in some goat cheese.

4.   Sprinkle the crushed pistachios on top, allowing them to stick to the cheese.


Roasted Beets

Ingredients:

  • 6 – 8 medium sized red and/or golden beets
  • ¼ cup Blue Cheese, crumbled
  • 10 – 14 Turkish apricots, snipped into small pieces
  • ¼ cup candied pecans or walnuts, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons good quality balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and pepper

Preparation:

  1. Wash and wrap beets in foil, bake at 400 for 60 minutes. Let cool completely (several hours).
  2. Wearing kitchen gloves, rub the beets gently and the skin will fall right off.
  3. Clean up the beet tips.
  4. Chop into bite sized chunks.
  5. Add crumbled blue cheese, chopped turkish apricots and (optional) the chopped, candied pecans.
  6. Drizzle with good quality balsamic vinaigrette (I use fig) and sprinkle a tad of salt and pepper.

Prep time: 20 minutes of before and after baking time; 60 minutes to bake

Serves: 4


Phyllo Spinach Fish Pie

Ingredients:

  • 12 -14 ounces tilapia fillets
  • Zest and juice of one lime
  • 1 bag prewashed baby leaf spinach
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup crème fraiche
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaf, chopped
  • 1/2 cup green onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup cashew nuts, chopped
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Fresh grated nutmeg, to taste
  • 5 sheets phyllo pastry
  • Olive oil, for brushing
  • 4 tablespoons panko
  • 4 -6 ounces mild brie cheese
  • 2 tomatoes, sliced or 10 cherry tomatoes, halved

Preparation:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Cube the fish, sprinkle with limejuice and set aside.
  3. Mix together the spinach, eggs, sour cream, basil, green onions, garlic and cashews, and the zest of the lime.
  4. Add seasonings to taste.
  5. Brush a 9 x 13 inch glass baking dish with olive oil.
  6. Brush a sheet of phyllo with olive oil, layer in the baking dish, sprinkle with some breadcrumbs, repeat with all the sheets overlapping each time and using the breadcrumbs; you will have lots of pastry hanging over the side of the dish.
  7. Drain the fish, mix gently with the spinach mixture and pour in the pastry-lined dish.
  8. Top with the cheese and then the tomatoes.
  9. Roll the overhanging pastry up and over the edge of the dish, ending up with a tight roll all the way around the pie, then brush the pastry roll with olive oil.
  10. Bake for 30-35 minutes, let stand for 5 minutes, before cutting into squares.

Prep time: 35 minutes, Bake time: 30 – 35 minutes

Serves: 4


Roasted Artichokes

Ingredients:

  • 6 Artichokes
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • Dried thyme
  • 12 Garlic clove
  • 2 lemons, thinly sliced

Preparation:

1.    Choose artichokes that are 3 to 4 1/2 inches wide. Break off and discard small outer leaves. With a knife, slice off artichoke tips. With scissors, snip thorn tips from remaining leaves. Trim dark base from stem ends and, with a knife, peel coarse fibers from stems and artichoke bottoms.

2.   Place trimmed artichokes into boiling water for 10 minutes. Drain and let cool for comfortable handling. Cut artichokes in half lengthwise.

3.   Choose a pan in which the artichokes fit close together in a single layer (6 halves fit in a 9- by 13-in. pan); if there are large spaces, the juices will scorch.

4.   For each artichoke, pour 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil into pan and add 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme. Roll artichokes in oil to coat, and turn cut sides down. Slide 1 thin lemon slice and 1 peeled garlic clove under each artichoke half. Seal pan with foil.

5.    Bake in a 375º oven until artichoke bottoms are tender when pierced, 40 to 50 minutes.

6.   Turn artichokes over for 5 more minutes of roasting, center-side up.

Prep time: 20 minutes, cook time 60 minutes

Serves: 6


Artichoke Dipping Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup(s) mayonnaise, light
  • 1 teaspoon lemon peel, grated
  • 1/4 cup(s) lemon juice, fresh
  • 1 tablespoon mustard, dijon-style
  • 2 clove(s) garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper, black ground, freshly ground

Preparation:

1.    Blend all the ingredients together, season to taste preference.

Prep time: 5 minutes

Serves 4


Roasted asparagus

Ingredients:

  • Fresh asparagus
  • Garlic, chopped
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Preparation:

1.    Wash asparagus spears and allow the stems to dry. Trim woody bottoms of stems.

2.   Place stems on baking tray. Sprinkle chopped garlic over stems.

3.   Drizzle with olive oil. Using your fingers, spread olive oil and garlic pieces throughout stems.

4.   Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

5.   Bake in 350 oven for 2 minutes, turn stems over, and bake for 2 more minutes.

Prep time: 10 minutes, roast time: 5 minutes

Serves: 3


Red Pepper Cashew Sauce, for Asparagus dipping

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups dry roasted cashews
  • 1 medium red pepper chopped into 2 inch pieces (seeds and stem removed)
  • 1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp tamari
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp chopped shallot

Preparation:

1.    Blend all ingredients together.

Prep time: 5 minutes

Serving size: about 2 cups


Dessert: Pears with crème fraiche and bananas with chocolate sauce

Ingredients:

  • Ripe pears, sliced and peeled
  • Crème fraiche, seeasned with fresh nutmeg, a drop of vanilla, or cinnamon

Preparation:

1.    Get cozy with your sweetie.

2.   Slowly run sliced pear through crème fraiche dipping sauce.

3.   Feed to your sweetie.

4.   Lick your fingers.

5.    Repeat.


Ingredients:

  • Firm bananas, peeled and slice into strips
  • Dark chocolate
  • ½ cup cream

Preparation:

1.    Melt chocolate in a double boiler and allow it to cool, until tepid.

2.    Blend in the whipping cream, mixing well and serve.

3.   Eat and enjoy following pear recipe!


This is the meal that we will be cooking up later this week at In the Kitchen at the Cooking for Heart Lovers Class. Yum!



A Cooking Class for Lovers!

Join me and Wendy Van Wagner at In the Kitchen for an evening of culinary decadence. We’ll meet around the chop block on Thursday, February 3 at 6 PM, to share the labors of love, as we create healthful dishes that will tantalize your romantic taste-buds!

This class is $35 per person and includes a full meal, recipes for each dish, lots of lively discussion about pleasurable ways to keep active and healthy, and a whole lot o’ fun.

Pre-registration is requested at Wendy’s In the Kitchen website or by calling 478-0669.

Gorgeous stuffed squash dinner warms a cold winter’s night

Look at this magnificent creation! The idea for this meal came from a recipe I saw recently in a Vegetarian Times mag; I was immediately attracted to the beautiful look of this dish, and the seasonal flare it would add to an early winter dinner in November. I departed from the original recipe at that point, mostly because we lost power during a snow storm, rendering the complicated stuffing a bit lofty for stove top cooking. Instead, I threw together a “chili” that was reminiscent of one on my long-time favorites from the original Moosewood cookbook. We enjoyed the chili by firelight the other night, during the power outage. The squash would have to wait… Tonight, I popped the leftover chili into the squash, baked it, and Voila! A masterpiece meal. Here’s the loose “recipe”…



Chili Ingredients

  • 1 cup bulgar wheat
  • 2 cups tomato juice or canned tomato puree
  • onion
  • garlic
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 cups frozen corn
  • red and yellow peppers
  • 15-ounce can of kidney or great northern beans

Chili Preparation

  • Bring tomato juice or puree to a gentle boil.
  • Add bulgar, stirring it well, until a gentle boil returns, cover the pot, turn to simmer for 5 minutes, then turn off the flame and let the bulgar sit for 20 minutes.
  • In the meantime, saute the onion for several minutes, add the peppers and cook for several more minutes until the peppers are soft.
  • Add the carrots and celery, and cook on a low flame for a few moments.
  • Add the chopped garlic, flavor the saute with salt and pepper, and take the saute off the stove. Keep the carrots and celery al dente!
  • Put the saute into a big pot, add the beans including the liquid in the can, add the corn, and gently heat.
  • Add the bulgar, stirring it all together.
  • Spice with cumin, cayenne, more pepper, and perhaps a tad of red wine.

Squash prep

  • Wash the squash.
  • Slice a bit off the bottom so the squash will sit evenly on a cooking sheet. Slice off the top, keeping the stem intact.
  • Scoop out the seeds and fiber strings.
  • Rub the outside skin and the inside rim with olive oil.

To finish

  • Scoop the chili into the squash.
  • Place the lid on top for a tight fit.
  • On a cookie tray, placed in a pre-heated 350 oven for 1 – 1 1/2 hours, or until the squash is soft to a fork poke.

Savor this gorgeous, hearty, healthy, and warming meal!

Sharing the joy and pleasure of eating well…

“The Holiday Survival Cooking and Eating Class exceeded my expectations. It was so enjoyable to learn new ideas for healthy snacks and meals, taste the delicious treats we created and leave with an inspired hope that this will be my healthiest holiday season yet! I am impressed with the knowledge and care that Robin (and Wendy from In the Kitchen) both possess and I look forward to taking more classes in the future. Thanks again!”  –Rose M.

 

“What a wonderful, yummy class! Not only did we participate in creating several easy-to-make, delicious, nourishing dishes for the holidays and every day, we also learned strategies for surviving and enjoying the upcoming holiday season. Both Robin & Wendy were delightful and imparted their cooking and eating knowledge with love, humor, and enthusiasm. I highly recommend their classes to anyone who is interested in developing a better way to look at food, using thoughtfulness with mindfulness to learn some very valuable strategies for eating any time of the year!” –CAM

 

“I found the class delightful with great ideas for the holidays. In the Kitchen is a warm and welcoming place and you and Wendy were great teaching collaborators. Good new recipes. I appreciate your healthy eating information. I recommend this class to anyone wanting to enjoy the holidays without stressing over food. Actually, the information isn’t just for the holidays. I want to stay healthy all year and eat well.” –Pat B.

 

“I’ve participated in several classes at In the Kitchen, enjoyed them all immensely, but it is always a special treat when Wendy teaches a class. The recipes offered in The Holiday Survival class were easy to make and so delicious. And what a plus to have Robin co-teach the The Holiday Survival class with Wendy. Thank you, Robin, for all your great information on healthy eating, which was delivered so professionally, dovetailing beautifully into Wendy’s presentation. Hope you two team up again for more classes of scrumptious, healthy recipes. What a fun evening!!” –Carol B.

_______________

I love this positive feedback! How gratifying it is to touch the lives of others in a meaningful way…and to be able to do so around a topic that is so dear to me, is just the icing on the cake (right—pun intended!).

Wendy Van Wagner and I will continue to offer seasonal cooking classes in addition to the occasional specialty class…stay tuned!

Butternut Squash with Lemony Quinoa

Talk about a marvelous new dish to lighten up the traditionally heavy Thanksgiving meal!

Ingredients

  • 10 ounces butternut squash (about 2 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • ¼ cup chopped shallots
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried or fresh thyme
  • 2 ½ cups vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel and 1-2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons lightly toasted pine nuts (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh chives (optional)


Preparation

  • Preheat oven to 400F. Cut the squash in half and scrape out the seeds and strings. Peel and cut into ½-inch cubes and toss with the 1 teaspoon of lemon juice. Place them on a non-stick baking sheet, sprinkle with a little salt and pepper, and bake for 15 minutes, stirring halfway through.
  • Heat a deep, non-stick pot. Add shallots and garlic and cook, stirring, until shallots soften slightly.
  • Add the quinoa and toast it until it begins to exude a toasty aroma.
  • Add the squash along with the thyme and vegetable broth. Reduce the heat to low and cover. Cook, stirring once or twice, until all broth is absorbed, about 20 minutes.
  • Stir in the lemon peel and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper, and add more lemon juice if needed.
  • Serve with toasted pine nuts and chives sprinkled on top.

This dish is very intriguing to the palette; the lemon flavor in the vegetable broth is heavenly, the crunch of the quinoa is unsurpassed in its texture, and the roasted Bnut squash provides a solidity to the dish that balances the lightness of the lemony flavor… give it a try! We made this recipe at the last Eat To Your Heart’s Content cooking class, co-taught by me and Wendy Van Wagner of In the Kitchen. This is Wendy’s recipe and has endless possibilities for variations–have fun with it!

Poached Pears in Red Wine Sauce–a heavenly dessert!

Pears poached in red wine

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups cold water
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 6 firm but ripe Bosc or Bartlett pears (with stems intact)
  • 1 bottle light red wine
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 strip orange rind
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 whole vanilla bean, cut in half
  • 1 whole clove
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • Fresh-whipped heavy cream, mascarpone cheese, or crème fraiche for serving

Preparation:

  • In a large bowl, combine the water and lemon juice. Peel the pears, keeping the stems intact. Cut a small slice from the base of each pear so the fruit will sit without toppling. Drop each one into the water; set aside. This will keep the pears from browning.
  • In a saucepan large enough to hold all the pears, combine the wine, sugar, orange rind, anise, vanilla, clove, and cinnamon. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves.
  • Take the pears from the water and place them lovingly into the simmering sauce. To keep the pears submerged in the poaching liquid, cut a circle of parchment paper the size of the saucepan and set it on the surface of the liquid. (only in case they float to the top, which will affect their becoming cooked. I haven’t found this to be an issue…)
  • Simmer the pears for 25 minutes or until they are tender when pierced with a skewer. They may need 5 to 10 minutes longer if they were not ripe.
  • Remove the saucepan from the heat. Allow the pears to cool for 15 or so minutes in the poaching liquid. (Once cooled, you can transfer the pears and their liquid to a large container, where they can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days).
  • Strain about one-third of the poaching liquid into a saucepan. Bring it to a boil over high heat. Let the mixture bubble steadily until it reduces to a syrupy glaze, with a consistency like thin honey.
  • To serve, place a pear in a shallow bowl and drizzle with the syrup. Add a dollop of the creamy topping.

Note: With their elegant contoured shape, pears are an attractive dessert. Make a poaching liquid from red wine, which lends the flesh of the fruit its deep ruby color, and add orange rind, vanilla bean, cinnamon stick, a whole clove, and a star anise for more aroma. After poaching, leave the pears in the liquid overnight (or for a few days), and the fruit will keep getting darker and fuller flavored. Simmer the syrup into a glaze, garnish with whipped cream or mascarpone, and you have an ideal ending to a hearty holiday meal.

Thanks to Wendy Van Wagner of In the Kitchen for this amazing dessert recipe! It’s what I am making for my family at Thanksgiving. Yum!

"With you guiding me through the HeartMatters program, I was able to achieve a level of physical fitness that made regular and focused exercise feel more like a natural part of my day. I had slipped into a malaise that meant exercise could be ‘put aside’ for work or other important activities. Getting past this is a subtle but powerful accomplishment.

I really enjoyed playing and exercising with you outdoors (my preferred MO for our time together). The joy you bring to your work is wonderful. This flexibility put a kind of structure into my day that helped me ‘choose’ again – showed me how to take back some control of my schedule for important things like meditation and exercise.  It was also part of my journey of re-learning how to say NO to things. This represents additional forward movement for me.

Thanks Robin – I have really benefited from your work in more ways than just the obvious fitter, leaner, stronger me."

---J.E., Northern California,  Communication Consultant

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