Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Blueberry Lemon Cookies

I told Blake "these are healthy cookies". Which received a look of disbelief so I modified that statement some. These are relatively healthy cookies. Blake ate one for breakfast. We took them hiking so now I'm also calling them an energy food. They powered us up to 13,200 feet. On a hike in which I was brave and daring.

Daring is not my middle name. I love to hike but until my husband I did not love scrambling up boulders, bushwhacking, and sliding down snow fields. Then one day we were in the mountains of New Zealand on a rocky trail, in the rain, in ankle deep water, and I was cold. Never have I ever made it so fast out of the mountains, skipping from slippery rock to slippery rock. It was on that hike I decided I was brave. On this most recent hike, I was the one that suggested the more direct but trail less route down the mountain and I was the one that left my husband in the dust skipping up to the top (don't tell him I said that). 

So if I can decide to be brave, then I can also decide these cookies are healthy and an energy food (yes, yes, relatively). These cookies are pretty superb. We ate a dozen in three days. The cookies are cakey and moist. We all know lemons and blueberries are a match made in heaven. Eat them for breakfast. Eat them on a hike. Maybe they will make you brave and daring too. 

Blueberry Lemon Cookies 

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
1 tbs lemon juice
10 tbs butter, softened 
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup frozen or fresh blueberries 

Lemon glaze
1/2 cup powdered sugar
Juice from 1/2 a lemon 

Whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together. 

In a large bowl, combine sugar, lemon zest, and juice. Use your fingers to rub sugar and lemon zest together. With an electric hand mixer or a stand mixer with a paddle attachment on medium speed, beat softened butter into the sugar, until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Reduce speed to low and add the flour until just combined. Mix in the blueberries by hand. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour and up to overnight. 

Preheat oven 375 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Drop about 3 tablespoons of dough onto the parchment. Bake 20 minutes until the edges begin to brown. Allow to cool on a wire rack.

For the glaze, mix together powdered sugar and lemon juice. Use a fork to drizzle on top of the cooled cookies.  

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Korean Bulgogi Grilled Flatiron Steak with Bok Chi

A few simple things have made me happy this week. The first being 8p on a summer night in my neighborhood. Last night as I walked the dog, the birds chirped and the sun set over the mountains casting a perfect glow. It was quiet so quiet. Less the almost imperceptible hum of cars in the distance all I could hear was my footsteps. The wonderful thing about 8p is almost everyone is home with their families. It's a time of peace and I thought lucky me to be walking under 100 year old maple trees in this kind of quiet so I kept walking. How often in life do you just walk with no time constraints or goals? Not often enough. So last night I enjoyed the simple act of walking in a place I love.

The second thing that made me happy is food. Who knew?! I do hereby declare food makes me really happy. I'm particularly smitten with this Korean grilled steak marinated overnight in chili paste, garlic, ginger, sugar, and soy. This is one of the great wonders of the world. Both Blake and I declared it one of our favorite meals in recent history. It doesn't even contain cheese, bread, or pasta and yet I want to eat it again and again. The bok choy overrunning my garden was turned into what I'm calling bok chi, like kimchi, but without the cabbage or the fermentation. The bok chi was pretty dreamy in of itself, like Channing Tatum dreamy, but real and attainable. Add a quick pickled cucumber and you may never eat anything else again.

Korean Bulgogi Grilled Flatiron Steak with Bok Chi
Serves 4, adapted from The Kitchn
*Note steak and bok chi should marinade overnight

For the steak
3 tbs chili paste (should be in the Asian aisle of most grocery stores)
3 cloves garlic
1 inch ginger, peeled
2 tbs sugar
2 tbs rice wine vinegar
2 tbs soy sauce
1 tsp pepper
3 tbs oil
3 tbs of chives
1 1/2 flatiron steak

In a food processor or blender, process until smooth chili paste, garlic, ginger, sugar, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, pepper, oil, and chives. Pour half over steak in a shallow pan or tupperware, cover, and let marinade overnight. Save other half of the marinade. After the overnight marinade, heat your grill to medium high heat and grill steak 3-5 minutes on each side. Serve over rice with reserved marinade drizzled on top.

Bok chi
3/4-1 lb bok choy, chopped
3 tbs salt
2 tsps grated ginger
4 cloves grated garlic
1/2 tsp sugar
2 tablespoons oyster sauce (while not the same, fish sauce would be good here as a substitute)
3 tbs red pepper flakes
3 tbs chives, chopped
2 tbs water

Salt cabbage and massage it in with your hands. Let stand for an hour. Rinse in a colander after it has sat.

In a small bowl, whisk together ginger, garlic, sugar, oyster sauce, red pepper flakes, chives, and water. Combine the mixture with the bok choy and let sit overnight. Serve on the side of your steak.

To serve
2 cups cooked rice
Quick pickled cucumber for some nice zip

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

BBQ Quinoa Bites Salad

Lettuce has taken over our house. If I'm being honest, I don't love salads. Does anyone really love salads? If your answer is yes, I'm calling you a liar. In the summer, we are members of a community supported agriculture farm share. This means we pay a fee to our favorite local farm, Cure Organic, for a weekly share of their produce. It's June in Colorado so right now that means lettuce, lots of lettuce, carrots, and radishes. I also have yet to meet a person who loves radishes. So this year I'm determined to make awesome salads.

This salad is in fact pretty awesome. The BBQ quinoa bites I actually quite love. And because we are all about full disclosure here, I don't really like quinoa. Or at least I didn't until these crispy delights came along. They would also make for a delicious appetizer served with some spicy ranch. These quinoa bites in combination with black beans, corn, avocado, and honey mustard vinaigrette make for a hearty, healthy, wonderful salad. Because if we must eat salad, I demand it be the best darn salad, which this salad happens to be.

BBQ Quinoa Bites Salad 
Serves 4, dressing adapted from How Sweet Eats

BBQ Quinoa Bites
1 cup dry quinoa
4 tbs of your favorite BBQ sauce
1/2 cups cheddar cheese
1 egg
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Honey Mustard Vinaigrette 
3 tbs honey
3 tbs dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
6 tbs balsamic vinegar (golden if you have it)
1/3 cup olive oil

6 cups lettuce mix
1/2 cup carrots, shredded
1 can beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup corn
1 avocado, sliced

Rinse quinoa in a strainer and then combine in a saucepan with 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, turn to low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes. While quinoa is cooking, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Oil a baking sheet and set aside.

Mix together with a spatula cooked quinoa, 3 tbs BBQ sauce, cheddar, egg, salt, and pepper. Drop 2 tablespoons of mixture onto the baking sheet. These will be loose and free form but will bake up nicely. Bake for 22-25 minutes, flipping half way and brushing with remaining tablespoon of BBQ sauce. You want them to get a little crispy on the outside.

For the dressing whisk together all the ingredients minus the olive oil. Once combined, slowly drizzle in olive oil, while whisking.

Layer your salad with lettuce, carrots, beans, corn, avocado, and quinoa bites. Drizzle over your dressing.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Pea Shoot Pistachio Pesto with Roasted Tomatoes and Chicken Sausage

Sometimes I go on cooking marathons. I get home from work and think I will make cinnamon bun pretzels for breakfast, BBQ quinoa bites to go on salads for lunch, raspberry jam and pudding for pudding pop dessert, and then we need something for dinner that night so I better make some time for pea shoot pistachio pesto. Four hours and about 24 dishes washed later we have food to feed a small army for about a week, which is good because the two of us eat like a small army. This is what my Tuesday looked like. Thank goodness this pesto is easy to make or I might have crumpled before mile 26. 

Now onto the really good things that make up this pesto. Pistachios! Delicious salty pistachios. And roasted tomatoes. Roast those tomatoes! Roast them all day everyday and put them on sandwiches, salads, and pea shoot pistachio pesto. Roasted tomatoes are sticky sweet balanced by their acid. They are so much better than their raw form. They make this dish bright and zingy. That's right, zingy. Don't know what that tastes like? Try it and see. Finally, the pea shoots, which can be subbed for basil or cilantro, but if you can find them at your local farmer's market I highly suggest them. They taste slightly of peas and are very bright in this dish, especially when accompanied by the lemon. The best part of this dish is it takes about 25 minutes to throw together so you don't have to run the kitchen marathon.  

Pea Shoot Pistachio Pesto with Roasted Tomatoes and Chicken Sausage 
Feeds 4-6, adapted from Love and Lemon

2 large tomatoes, sliced about 1/4" thick
4 tbs olive oil
3 tbs balsamic vinegar
12 ounces linguine (about 3/4 of a package) 
1/4 cup pistachios
1/4 cup parmesan + more for serving
2 cups pea shoots (basil or cilantro can be subbed)
2 cloves garlic 
1/2 tsp salt
Pinch of pepper
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
Zest of one lemon
1/2 pound chicken sausage, precooked and sliced 1/2" thick

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray and place tomatoes on a single layer on the sheet. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and all of the balsamic over the tomatoes and roast for 20-25 minutes until starting to caramelize. 

Bring water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions. 

In a food processor or a blender, pulse together pistachios, parmesan, pea shoots, garlic, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Once you have a coarse mixture, add the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil and pulse a few times until incorporated. 

In a nonstick saute pan over medium high heat with about 1 tablespoon of olive oil, brown the sausage (about 4 minutes per side). 

Mix together pesto, pasta, sausage, and tomatoes with a large wooden spoon, until everything is coated in the pesto. 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Carrot Cake Power Muffins

Breakfast has recently become my favorite meal. Our daily breakfasts consist of a whole wheat baked delight and nut butter. The baked delight rotates through different muffins, cinnamon raisin swirl bread, more savory yeasted breads (Blake's preference), and the occasional breakfast bar. And then brunch, let's not forget brunch. Recent tradition dictates that Sundays are for brunch in this house. Waffles, french toast, crepes, and pancakes typically make an appearance. If I could, I would eat waffles all day everyday.

Instead of waffles every morning I make something with a little more nutritional value, these carrot cake power muffins. I call them power muffins because they are my go to fuel for long distance runs. Really they are a spin on the classic morning glory muffin. Carrots, applesauce, raisins, coconut, whole wheat flour, and my favorite spices make these naturally sweet, moist, and full of necessary morning energy. They won't let you down.

Carrot Cake Power Muffin
Adapted from King Arthur Flour

2 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsps baking soda
2 tsps cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups grated carrots
1/2 cup shredded coconut
3 large eggs
1/3 cup vegetable or olive oil
3/4 cup applesauce
1/3 cup maple syrup
2 tsps vanilla extract
1/2 cup raisins

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and grease 12 muffin cups.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt together. Add carrots and coconut and mix.

In another large bowl, whisk eggs, oil, applesauce, maple syrup, and vanilla extract together. Add to the flour mixture and combine. Mix in raisins. Pour batter into muffin cups almost full. Bake 20-25 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before removing from the pan. 

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Grilled Greek Salad

This has been a wonderful week. Tuesday we spent the evening at Nederland's pizza night, where our favorite mobile oven, Crust, dished out some of the most delicious cheesy treats. Bluegrass music, mountain views, a beverage in hand, pizza, and Blake's company are about all I could ask for in life. Thursday we ate 2 for 1 Chipotle (what a steal) and hung out at Boulder's arcade, Press Play. I handily beat Blake at Mortal Combat and he took me down in Big Buck Hunter. I cooked lamb meatballs and the grilled greek salad I'm sharing with you today. While none of these activities are particularly extraordinary, they all make up the beauty of our day-to-day lives. This week I have found myself really enjoying the day-to-day.

This grilled greek salad looks kind of boring but I assure you that you will love it. I'm grilling all my salads this year after this one. This salad is for my mother who was happy I posted the green bean, potato, and tuna salad with olive dressing. What? You mean we can't all live purely on fries covered in cheese or breaded chicken sandwiches and hope to live long and healthy lives? I guess not. Mother knows best. The oregano dressing on this salad and slight char on the onions, tomatoes, and lettuce put it over the top. So easy, so good, and perfect for a summer meal.

Grilled greek salad
Serves 4, adapted from Saveur

For the dressing 
Juice from 2 lemons
5 tbs white wine
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbs dried oregano
1 tbs thyme
1/2 an onion, halved again
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

For the salad
Olive oil to coat grill grates
1/4 cup feta plus more for on top the salad
2 medium tomatoes, cut into quarters
Red onion, cut into 8 wedges
Salt and pepper
6-8 wooden or metal skewers
1 large head of romaine lettuce, cut into 4 wedges lengthwise
20 kalamata olives

Place all the dressing ingredients in a blender and blend on high until smooth.

Gently toss tomatoes, feta, and onion with 1/2 of the dressing in a bowl. Skewer tomatoes and onion alternating and place in a shallow dish and pour any marinade from the bowl over them. Let marinade for at least 15 minutes and up to 12 hours.

While the skewers are marinating, oil the grill grate with a towel dipped in oil and then heat the grill to medium heat.

Remove skewers from the dish and grill for 6-8 minutes turning halfway through. Brush the romaine with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill for 3 minutes until slightly wilted.

To serve remove the vegetable from the skewers and serve on top of romaine drizzled with remaining dressing, feta, and olives.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Baked Hot Chicken Sandwich with Spicy Bourbon Honey Sauce

Today I'm going to confess something to you. I am a subaru driving, flannel wearing, dog, outdoor, and environment loving Boulderite. There I said it. Poor Boulder and it's reputation. It's misunderstood. I will tell you what I am not. You will not find me in the checkout line at Whole Foods waxing on and on about the benefits of drinking kombucha and eating kale. You will not find me in yoga pants and a patagonia tank top all day everyday as if at any moment I may break out into downward facing dog. I also promise not to regale you with tales of my morning training run in excruciating detail. Because I know you don't care. Are there people like this in Boulder? People who will donate money to erect a statue of a beloved elk? You betcha. Were they born and raised here? I don't think so.

In my humble opinion, true Boulderites love and appreciate all this beautiful town has to offer. We have the Flatirons. We are an hour drive from the beautiful Rocky Mountains. We have some of the best food for a small city. Most of us are kind and laid back. I just don't want you thinking we are all arrogant, superfit, green smoothie obsessed hippies. Somebody had to defend the honor of this wonderful place and no one loves it more than I.

Which brings me to this sandwich, with its spicy, breaded, and served on the whitest white bread ever goodness. This Boulder girl isn't scared of all the poor health decisions made in this sandwich. It's a hostile gluten takeover and a tasty one at that. Remember that time we took fries and loaded them with cheese, salsa, guac, and pulled pork? This is kind of like that. Some things are just too good not to do.

Hot chicken is a southern special, which is made with more cayenne than you ever dreamed of putting in one dish. That is why you smother it with cooling cole slaw. I wanted a slight sweetness with mine to balance the heat so I added the spicy bourbon honey sauce. The sauce is the key to the awesomeness of this sandwich. So forget the evils of all the flour and dive in headfirst. You will be delighted. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go tend to my organic vegetable garden.

Baked Hot Chicken Sandwich with Spicy Bourbon Honey Sauce 
Serves 2 with some leftover slaw, hot chicken adapted from Bon Appetit

Kate's coleslaw
1 medium head of cabbage
2 carrots, grated on large holes of box grater
1 shallot, grated on large holes of box grater
1/4 cup mayo
3 tbs dijon mustard
2 tbs brown sugar
2 tbs apple cider vinegar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Hot chicken
2 chicken breasts, cut into 1/2" strips
2 tsps salt
1 tsp pepper
2 tablespoons cayenne pepper (reduce to 1 tbs if you want less heat)
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp paprika
1 tbs brown sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tbs hot sauce
1 cup panko bread crumbs

Spicy Honey Bourbon Sauce
1/4 cup honey
1/2 the cayenne spice mixture from above
1 tsp bourbon

For serving
Sliced white bread
Sliced pickles (sweet or dill, your preference)

Prepare the coleslaw from my recipe here. Can be made right before but best if it sits for 2-8 hours.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of the salt and pepper over the chicken breasts.

Whisk together cayenne pepper, garlic powder, chili powder, paprika, and brown sugar in a small bowl. In a large bowl, mix 1/2 this spice mixture with the flour and remaining 1 teaspoon of salt.

Whisk buttermilk and hot sauce together in medium bowl. Pour panko bread crumbs in yet another medium bowl.

Oil the bottom of a baking dish. I used olive oil but canola would work as well.

Set up an assembly line with the flour mixture first, followed by the buttermilk, panko bread crumbs, and baking dish. Dip the chicken strip into the flour, then into the buttermilk shaking off the excess, and then the bread crumbs. Make sure the strips are completely coated in each step. When done, place the strips in the baking dish. Once all the strips are coated spray or brush with olive oil (about 2 tbs). Bake for 40-50 minutes, until golden brown, flipping halfway through.

About 10 minutes before the chicken strips are done prepare the spicy honey bourbon sauce. In a small sauce pan over low heat, whisk together honey, the remaining 1/2 of the cayenne spice mixture, and bourbon. Heat 2-3 minutes. Drizzle over the top of the baked chicken strip.

I assembled my sandwiches open face with one piece of bread loaded with chicken strip, smothered with slaw, and topped with pickles.