Sunday, April 10

a delightful rice gratin.

I just love gratins! Potato, zucchini, cauliflower... you name it. If it's cheesy and golden on top, I want it. Unfortunately, potatoes aren't all that nutritional and the eggs and cheese can make it kinda rich. When perusing (one of my absolute fave foodie sites), I came across a recipe for a Spinach Rice Gratin that had pine nuts and shredded Manchego cheese in it. I took down the recipe thinking I could easily recreate this with whatever nuts, veggies and cheese I had on hand. This is a great recipe to use when you have leftover rice from the night before and nowhere to go with it but the garbage (or mixed in with the dog food!). This gratin is still made with eggs and cheese, but substantially less than you would normally find in say, a potato gratin. It still tastes delicious but at the same time quite obviously on the healthier side.

I have the original recipe from included below, but when I made the gratin I didn't have any tofu and used Gruyere instead of Manchego. I also added some red pepper flakes and garlic powder. Black olives is one of the few ingredients I just don't like, so left those out as well. A Mediterranean style gratin would be great, too -- try adding roasted red peppers, kalamata olives and feta cheese, and throw in some leftover chopped chicken if you aren't a tofu fan.

spinach & brown rice gratin
2 1/2 c. leftover/pre-cooked brown rice, room temp
1 1/2 c. well finely chopped spinach
4 oz firm organic tofu, crumbled
10 black olives, chopped
1/2 medium red onion, diced
1/3 c. pine nuts or almonds, toasted and chopped
2 tbsp EVOO
1/2 c. shredded Manchego
3 large eggs
1/2 tsp kosher or sea salt
Freshly cracked pepper

Preheat oven to 400F degrees. Grease a 10-inch round or square baking dish with a bit of EVOO. In large bowl combine the rice, spinach and tofu. Reserving a bit of each for garnish, stir in the olives, red onion, pine nuts and EVOO. Now stir in 1/4 cup of the cheese. In a small bowl whisk together the eggs and salt. Fold the eggs into rice mixture, pour into prepared baking dish and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake for 30 minutes or until casserole is set, and the top toasty and golden. Remove from oven and sprinkle with remaining onions, olives and nuts. Sprinkle with a bit more salt and fresh cracked pepper before serving. Serves 8-12.

roast cod with anchovies and white bean puree.

This delicious cod recipe is from one of my fave new cookbooks, pure simple cooking. (Thanks Lena!) It really is super simple to prepare and tastes absolutely gourmet. Start to finish, this meal took me about 30 minutes or so. It has few but powerful, palette-pleasing ingredients, which succeed because of the interplay of flavors -- the sweetness of cod, the saltiness of anchovies, and the earthiness of beans. The roast cod is served atop a bed of white bean puree. When you take a bite, be sure to eat the cod along with the white beans... it's to die for.

It doesn't get much better than Las Vegas in April; we enjoyed this meal outside with a nice glass of Chardonnay. One of my favorite medium-priced Chardonnays is La Crema, and its buttery finish goes perfectly with the fresh, saltiness of this dish. Yum-o.

roast cod with anchovies and bean puree
2 tbsp EVOO
1/2 onion, coarsely chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 (14-oz) cans cannellini beans, drained
2/3 c. chicken stock or water
S&P (*I added 1/4 tsp of red pepper flakes as well)
1/4 c. EVOO
a good squeeze of lemon

1 (2-oz) can anchovies, drained
1 heaping tbsp. flat-leaf parsley
6 tbsp EVOO
a good squeeze of lemon
2 tbsp EVOO
4 (6-oz) cod fillets

1. For the beans, heat the EVOO in saucepan and gently cook the onion until it is soft. Add the garlic, beans, stock, and S&P. Cook over medium heat for about 4 minutes.
2. Process the bean mixture in a blender or food processor with the EVOO and lemon juice. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Keep this over low heat or serve at room temp.
3. Finely chop the anchovies and parsley together and stir in EVOO and a squeeze of lemon. (*I added some fresh cracked black pepper also.)
4. Preheat oven to 400F. Heat 2 tbsp EVOO in nonstick pan over med-high heat. Season cod with S&P and cook for 2 minutes, then turn cod over and cook for another minute. The fillets should be a nice gold color on both sides. Transfer fillets to roasting pan and roast for about 8 minutes, until opaque and cooked through, but still moist.
5. Serve the fish atop white bean puree and some of the anchovy dressing spooned over top.

Sunday, February 20


I have this obsession with a smoothie from a local place in Vegas, Rachel's Kitchen. At Rachel's, this smoothie is called "The Incredible Hulk." It has banana and peanut butter and honey and is straight up just amazing. I get actual cravings for this smoothie multiple times a week. But at 5 bucks a pop I feel like it may be a bit excessive to continuously pay each time I get a craving... especially when I could make the smoothie myself! So one day (probably after the fourth smoothie that week) I simply asked them how they made their infamous Incredible Hulk. And they told me! Exact measurements and all. Love when that happens. It's super simple and you probably have most of the ingredients in your kitchen already.

I love a good smoothie -- whether on a hot day or just for something different, give this one a try. I happen to be a peanut butter fanatic and so this particular smoothie fits my taste buds well. It would be great to enjoy before or after working out, and for added protein you could easily throw in a scoop of whey. Depending on how thick you like your smoothies, feel free to adjust the amount of ice used.

The Incredible Hulk
Recipe courtesy Rachel's Kitchen, Las Vegas, NV

1/4 cup milk
1/4 silken tofu
1 banana
1 heaping tablespoon peanut butter
1 tablespoon honey
2 cups ice

Blend and enjoy!

Thursday, February 17

L&L: lamb and lentils.

After a rather long hiatus, I am officially back on the food grind again... with lots of great recipes to share. Just because I haven't been blogging the last couple of months doesn't mean I haven't been eating! :) And after many a delicious meal, I've decided to start with lamb and lentils -- two very yummy ingredients. I can't take credit for either of the following recipes I am going to share with you, but I truly love both and thought they might suffice in spicing up your dinner rotation. As super simple as both dishes are to prepare they look fantastic and taste as though you've been slaving over a hot stove for hours.

Some people are funny with lamb. Not me! I think it's divine. Lamb isn't something I eat everyday mind you, but on occasion and instead of the per usual beef and/or chicken, a delicious roast leg of lamb does the trick. Feel free to create your own variation on the stuffing used in this recipe depending on your taste buds. If you have a smaller/larger leg of lamb, adjust the cooking time appropriately. This recipe calls for a 3-lb boneless leg of lamb; the roasts I typically buy are about 4 pounds give or take, so I normally add 20-ish minutes to my cooking time until it reaches a nice medium to medium-rare temperature. If you prefer your lamb rare, roast until internal temperature reaches 140F. I usually take mine out around 145F -- after letting it rest for 15 minutes, it's perfectly medium.

Lentils are one of my favorite ingredients to cook and eat. They are extremely healthy and act as an elegant side dish to any meal (or could easily be the star themselves, if you feel like going veggie). Recently, I've been buying Black Beluga Lentils which don't require soaking and cook in a relatively short amount of time. You know I'm a big fan of taking recipes and making them my own, but this is one where I don't change a single thing. (Well, with the exception of the type of lentils - this is an Ina recipe and she uses French Green Lentils that require soaking.) Cook's note: For added yummyness, top with a heaping spoonful of sour cream.

Lamb Stuffed with Goat Cheese, Tomatoes and Basil

Recipe courtesy Diana Henry, Pure Simple Cooking

6 oz soft goat cheese, crumbled
6 oz sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained, and coarsely chopped
3/4 cup basil leaves, torn
1 clove garlic, crushed
3 tbsp EVOO

1 (3-lb) boneless leg of lamb, trimmed of excess fat

1. Mix everything for the stuffing together gently - break up the goat cheese but don't turn it into a paste.

2. Preheat oven to 400F. Open the lamb out like a book. Cut some pockets in the thickest parts of the meat - this just gives you extra places into which to stuff the cheese mixture. Season the flesh of the lamb liberally with S&P and spread the stuffing over it, pushing the cheese mixture into any pockets you've created. Roll up, tie with string at intervals, and season well.
3. Place in a roasting pan and roast for 15 minutes. Decrease the temperature to 375F and roast for another 50 minutes. Transfer the lamb to a carving board, cover with aluminum foil, and insulate with clean kitchen towels. Let rest for 15 minutes before slicing.

Braised Lentils

Recipe courtesy Ina Garten

1/2-lb lentils
1/4 c. EVOO
2 cups chopped yellow onions
2 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts only
1 1/2 cups chopped celery (4 stalks)
1 1/2 cups chopped carrots (3 carrots)
1 tbsp minced fresh garlic
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
2 tsp kosher salt
3/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp red wine vinegar

Heat oil in large saute pan, add onions, leeks, thyme, salt and pepper and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, until onions are translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 2 more minutes. Add lentils, celery, carrots, chicken stock, and tomato paste. Cover and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes, or until lentils are tender. Add the vinegar and season to taste.