You guys are the best. You know that, right? Two months ago, when I shared my roasted cauliflower and lentil tacos recipe , I asked you to hop over to Facebook and vote for my recipe. You did, and my tacos won!
That means my tacos will represent the United States at the United Nations’ 2016 International Year of Pulses celebrations. (Pulses are beans, lentils and other dried legumes and they were selected based on their significant health, economic and environmental benefits.) Basically, you’ve made this food nerd verrrry happy. Thank you! Thank you to the USA Dry Pea and Lentil Council for letting me participate, too.
Since 2016 seems so far away, I thought we’d celebrate today with some more tacos! These are inspired by some that I ordered last week at my friend’s bachelorette party. I was sitting next to my college roommates, sipping my cocktail very slowly, and feeling sappy about how grown-up we are now.
The waiter came by and I ordered some quinoa tacos, hoping that they would be hearty enough to fill me up. They were, fortunately, and they were so tasty that I had to recreate them at home right away.
The quinoa and black bean filling takes cues from traditional ground beef fillings, but offers lots of plant-based protein and fiber. I couldn’t resist topping it with a generous spread of creamy, tangy avocado sauce and some romaine lettuce for some requisite crunch. To really make the flavors pop, add a few pickled jalapeños and/or crumbled feta cheese.
Perhaps the best part is that these tacos are ready in 30 minutes. I hope they are a new weeknight favorite for you, too!
My mom made sun tea when I was little. She would fill up the same clear plastic pitcher with Lipton tea bags and water and set it out in the sun to steep. I’d go out there and marvel at the process. As an experiment, I filled cans with water and macaroni noodles and set them next to her sun tea to “cook”. Never worked, no matter how long I left them out there.
Fast forward a few years, and my mom let up on her soda-once-a-week rule. I started guzzling Dr. Pepper like she guzzled unsweetened iced tea, and I squealed every time I grabbed the wrong cup from the cup holder. Yuck!
Nowadays, I’ve given up the soda in favor of good clean water. I’ve always wanted to understand my mom’s iced tea thing, and I’ve finally found a way to really, truly enjoy it—cold brew!
The cold brew method reminds me of sun tea, since you’re just steeping tea in water for hours, but cold brew takes place in the refrigerator instead of the back porch. Heat brings out the tannic, bitter flavors in tea. In the absence of heat, you’re left with perfectly refreshing, super smooth tea for slow summer sipping. It isn’t bitter in the slightest.
The method itself is incredibly simple. Just combine loose-leaf tea or whole tea bags and water in a pitcher and let the tea infuse the water for 6 to 12 hours in the refrigerator (see instructions below for specifics). Strain, and you have cold-brew tea that will taste great for days!
Bon Appetit suggested that they have best results with loose-leaf tea, so I used loose-leaf here, but I’ve since been making lazy cold-brew tea by soaking whole bags in water, which tastes almost as good and is much easier to make. Another option? Steep your loose-leaf tea in a clean French press—just press down the filter to remove those loose tea leaves and pour!
Sauteed Swiss Chard with Carrots and Celery is a deliciously easy way to prepare this healthy vegetable.
I’m always looking for new ways to get my boys to eat leafy green vegetables. Out of all the vegetables, I’ve found leafy green veggies to be the hardest sell.
Over the years, I’ve turned kale into pesto , made kale chips and roasted kale to get the boys to eat kale. When it comes to Swiss chard, I either cook it by steaming it first, then sautéing it , or make pesto out of it. The reason I steam Swiss chard before sautéing it is that I find the stems become tender at the same time as the leaves. Swiss chard is an excellent source of vitamins K, A, C and E, as well as magnesium, copper, manganese, potassium and iron, so there are some great health benefits to getting your family to try it.
Typically, I just saute Swiss chard with onions, but recently, I tried adding garlic, carrots and celery to the mix and it has transformed my typicalsimple preparation of Swiss chard into something so much more flavorful. Onions, carrots and celery are oftenused togetheras the base in soups, stews and braises (“mirepoix”), so it’s not a surprise that this works for a simple sauteed vegetable.
I’m not sure why I didn’t think about this before, but I’m glad I now have a tastierway of serving Swiss chard to my family.
For more Swiss chard recipes, check out this post on Favorite Swiss Chard recipes .
SCD GAPS Diet Raspberry Ice Cream is made with just three ingredients – no ice cream machine required. Who doesn’t love ice cream, especially homemade ice cream. This Raspberry Ice Cream is made with just three ingredients – homemade creme fraiche (SCD and GAPS Diet friendly), frozen raspberries and honey. Because it’s made with SCD GAPS Diet creme fraiche (also called sour cream), this ice cream is naturally virtually lactose free so if you’re lactose intolerant you might be able to eat this without a problem.
We have some lactose intolerances in our family, so this Raspberry Ice Cream was a welcome treat. The SCD and GAPS Diet are gut healing diets, so this ice cream is actually good for you. Who said you can’t have your ice cream and eat it too?
Welcome to another edition of Progressive Eats, our virtual version of a progressive dinner party. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, a progressive dinner involves going from house to house, enjoying a different course at each location. With Progressive Eats, a theme is chosen each month, members share recipes suitable for a delicious meal or party, and you can hop from blog to blog to check them out.
We have a core group of 12 bloggers, but we will always need substitutes and if there is enough interest would consider additional groups. To see our upcoming themes and how you can participate, please check out the schedule at Creative Culinary or contact Barb for more information.
This month’s theme is Ice Cream Socialhosted by Barbara Bakes . I hope you enjoy all the ice creamrecipes we made for this special event.
Please be sure to see what everyone made for today’s event:
Welcome to July! Ninety degree weather is here and so is all the colorful summer produce that comes with it. This month’s list features quite a few of my favorites, like peaches, raspberries and tomatoes. Scroll through the preparation ideas and recipes below, then hit the farmers’ market!
Thanks again to Becky for letting me base this resource on her “Eat Seasonal” monthly seasonal produce lists. See her July screensaver here . You can pin this resource for later right here or at the bottom of the post. For more seasonal inspiration, be sure to follow us on Pinterest !
Good gracious, how I love avocado. Avocado on toast is almost impossible to beat, but it’s also a fantastic addition Mexican meals and fresh green recipes of any kind, really. The avocados you’ll find in stores now are probably from Mexico, where avocados are in season year-round, but California avocados are in season now, too. Avocado elsewhere:
View more C+K avocado recipes ?
Quinoa Black Bean Tacos with Creamy Avocado Sauce
TropicalMango Spring Rollswith Avocado-Cilantro Dipping Sauce
Colorful Beet Salad with Carrot, Quinoa & Spinach
Plump, juicy, sweet blackberries are a snack in themselves. They’re also lovely in baked goods and make a simple dessert when served with whipped cream. As a general rule, buy organic berries (they soak up pesticides). Blackberries elsewhere:
Blackberry Peach Galette
Baked Oatmeal with Blackberries & Coconut
Blackberry Orange Pancakes
Mini Blackberry Cobblers
Blueberries are here! Those plump little berries are packed full of antioxidants. As with all berries, buy organic if possible to avoid pesticide exposure. Blueberries pair marvelously with lemon flavor (juice and zest). I love them in desserts, baked goods and salads! Blueberries elsewhere:
View more C+K blueberry recipes ?
Blueberry Lemon Yogurt Cake
Frozen Blueberry Margaritas
Blueberry Honey Bran Muffins
Blueberry Frozen Yogurt
Sweet, red cherries will grace us with their presence this June. I like to snack on fresh cherries, but roasting cherries really brings out their inherent sweetness. Roasted or not, they are great with balsamic vinegar. Beyond America’s beloved cherry pie, cherries are a great addition to salads, cocktails and desserts. Cherries elsewhere:
View more C+K cherry recipes ?
Cherry Couscous & Arugula Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette
Balsamic Stone Fruit Sundae
Cherry, Pistachio and Balsamic Honey Yogurt
Cherry Chocolate Cake
Sweet corn can be grilled, roasted or eaten raw. Raw corn marinated in sour lime juice is especially delicious, as is slightly charred corn that has been grilled in the husk. To avoid genetically modified corn, buy organic.Corn elsewhere:
View more C+K corn recipes ?
Summertime Pasta Salad with Tomatoes, Corn and Jalapeño Pesto
Grilled Summer Salad with Corn, Peppers and Chili-Lime Dressing
Brown Butter, Honey and Jalapeño Skillet Cornbread
Black Bean Enchiladas with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
Crisp cucumber is a lovely addition to raw salads. Its vitamin-rich, hydrating qualities make it an excellent juicing ingredient. Peeled, muddled and strained cucumber makes an incredibly refreshing cocktail. Cucumber water is a treat—just soak cucumber and lemon slices in a pitcher of water. Cucumber elsewhere:
View more C+K cucumber recipes ?
Summertime Aguas Frescas
Green Goddess Hummus Sandwich
Cucumber Mint Gimlet
Lebanese Lemon-Parsley Bean Salad
Green beans are easily overlooked. They go great with almonds, basil, butter, Parmesan, olive oil, onions, parsley, potatoes, shallots, tomatoes and vinegar. I’m afraid I only have one green bean recipe (click on the above photo for a summery quinoa, feta, and green bean salad).Green beans elsewhere:
Thank goodness for spring greens. You might be able to find local arugula, spinach, lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard and/or watercress now, depending on where you live. I love them every which way: in salads, as pesto, tossed in pasta and sautéed with garlic. Greens elsewhere:
View more C+K arugula recipes ?
Erin’s Spring Panzanella with Fresh Peas and Fennel
Simple Beet, Arugula and Feta Salad with Hilary’s Balsamic Thyme Dressing
Butternut Ribbon Goat Cheese Pizza with Arugula-Pepita Pesto
Grilled Summer Salad with Corn, Peppers and Chili-Lime Dressing
Fresh herbs often make the dish. Although they’re available year round at stores, now might be a good time to plant your herb garden. Herbs that are coming into season now include basil, chervil, cilantro, dill, green onions, lavender, oregano, parsley, mint, sorrel, rosemary and thyme.Herbs elsewhere:
View more C+K cilantro recipes ?
Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Pasta with Roasted Vegetables
Basil Pesto Vinaigrette
Quinoa Broccoli Slaw with Honey-Mustard Dressing
Spinach Artichoke Lasagna
We all love kale, and for good reason! It’s tremendously good for you and totally delicious, given the right preparation. Chop kale for stir-fries or a side of greens (sauté in olive oil and garlic), or massage it with a dash of salt for salads (see any of my kale salads for further instruction), or lightly coat roughly chopped kale with olive oil and roast it for kale chips. You can also blend kale into smoothies or juice it. Kale elsewhere:
View more C+K kale recipes ?
Quinoa Vegetable Soup with Kale
Coconut Curried Kale and Sweet Potato
Southwestern Kale Power Salad with Sweet Potato, Quinoa & Avocado Sauce
Spiced Vegan Lentil Soup
Mangos are like tropical peaches and they are awesome. They can seem a little tricky to work with at first, but you just slice off one-third of each side, longways, from the top down, then dice the mango like you would an avocado. Mango elsewhere:
Mango Lassi Frozen Yogurt
Fresh Mango Salsa
TropicalMango Spring Rollswith Avocado-Cilantro Dipping Sauce
Thai Mango Cabbage Wraps with Crispy Tofu and Peanut Sauce
Fresh, local peaches are the epitome of summer. Feel free to eat them whole over the sink. You can grill pitted and halved peaches for salad or dessert, or bake chopped peaches in any number of fruity, juicy desserts. You can also find apricots and nectarines this time of year! Peaches elsewhere:
This fresh potato salad recipe is for my fellow last-minute potluck planners. When you’re scrambling to make yourself look decent and trying to scrounge together a side worth sharing and letting the dog out all at the same time? Potato salad to the rescue!
I honestly never met a potato salad I loved until I made this one. It’s a riff on classic French potato salads, which contain no mayo and lots of herbs. I opted for lemon juice instead of vinegar for a super fresh-tasting salad.
After some trial and error, I discovered that the key to making the best mayo-free potato salad is blending the dressing in the food processor with some starchy reserved potato cooking water. You end up with a super creamy, herby emulsification that infuses the potatoes with fresh flavor.
Another trick, which comes from the experts at America’s Test Kitchen, is to slice your potatoes before boiling, rather than afterward. That way, the potatoes don’t break down into mush when you’re tossing the salad later. Plus, your potatoes cook faster that way (five minutes!). This potato salad comes together in a flash.
Hope you all have a marvelous Fourth of July. If you need any more party recipes, click on over to my barbecue salads and sides roundup !
Products used in this recipe
Cuisinart 7-Cup Food Processor Wusthof 7-Inch Santoku Knife ? For more of my favorite cooking tools, shop my kitchen essentials !
This Pasta Primavera with Fresh Tomatoes, Basil and Garlic takes just 20minutes to prepare, perfect for a quick and easy dinner.
Our family just got back from an incredible family vacation on the island of St. Martin in the Caribbean. I haven’t been to the Caribbean in over twenty years, and have never been there with my entire family so it was a truly special trip.We were celebrating our oldest son’s graduation from college before he starts working full-time. It was a bittersweet time for us.While it was awesome having a week together as a family, playing games, swimming together, laughing over dinnertime conversations, and just hanging out, I know that it will be much harder to go on vacations together going forward.
As parents, we dream of launching our kids into life well prepared to be good and responsible citizens, to be self-sufficient, to find a good job that will support their living expenses, and to be happy with where they have landed. Yet, when the moment actually arrives, it’s kind of a strange feeling, knowing that they now have their own home – that our home will no longer be their home base.
There’s a finality that didn’t exist when they were in college.
It’s a new chapter in our son’s life and ours. Of course, we’re excited for him and can’t wait to watch him pave his own path. He’s matured so much and become so independent over the past four years at college.We feel fortunate that he’s living only an hour away, so he can hop on a train and come home when he has time.
This Pasta Primavera with Fresh Tomatoes, Basil and Garlic was one of our kids’ favorite meals on St. Martin, and one that I recreated in my kitchen this past weekend when my oldest son came home. The chef who prepared this for us on St. Martin called this pasta primavera, which I initially thought was going to be a creamy pasta dish with broccoli, carrots and other vegetables like I’ve sometimes seen in the U.S. We were pleasantly surprised to be presented with a beautiful pasta dish with fresh tomatoes, garlic infused olive oil,and a smattering of fresh basil on top. When I asked how it was prepared, I was surprised by how few ingredients this recipe has. The key is to use the best, freshest produce available. This theme rang true throughout all the meals we enjoyed during our vacation. Each and every ingredient used to prepare our meals was hand selected with the greatest of care to ensure that it was the freshest and highest quality possible.
Since coming home, I’ve been re-energized and inspired by all the wonderful meals we had during our vacation. As I peruse all the fresh produce at home, whether at the farmer’s market or the grocery store, I try to take the time to smell and feel each piece of fruit, to choose the freshest vegetables, and select the best ingredients for my family by reading the labels on everything I buy.
Try this recipe with the freshest summer tomatoes and basil you can find, and the best extra virgin olive oil you can find (I use Costco’s organic extra virgin olive oil) and you won’t be disappointed – I promise.
I had an all-American weekend full of good friends and food, punctuated by flashes and booms. It was overwhelmingly fun. You know what I mean? Since we’re all in the same boat, I thought I’d share my three-day holiday weekend recovery plan with you today.
Here it is: organic whole grain pasta, tossed with tons of roasted veggies and homemade sun-dried tomato pesto. It’s fresh, filling and leftovers keep well for lunch. Just what the doctor ordered.
Sun-dried tomato pesto has been on my list for ages now, so when my friends at DeLallo asked me to create a recipe that highlights their fantastic sun-dried tomatoes , I knew just what to make. Oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes are perfect for pesto, since you can pour all of that delicious, tomato-infused extra-virgin olive oil right into the food processor.
My pesto is a riff on traditional basil pesto, with sun-dried tomatoes in addition to fresh basil. Sun-dried tomatoes are super rich in umami flavor, so they easily fill the place of Parmesan, although you can certainly add some cheese if you’d like.
I like my pasta with tons of vegetables, so I roasted up a big pan of balsamic summer veggies to go on top. I think it would be fantastic with roasted broccoli and winter squash, too. Feel free to play around with pasta shapes, too. Curly shapes really grab hold of pesto, but penne would work, too. To really lighten it up, cook up some fettuccine or linguine and supplement with squash noodles like I did last summer . Yum.
You can go in a lot of different directions with this pesto. Spread it on a sandwich or toast, serve it as a vegetable dip, or thin it out with extra olive oil (or even some water) and use it as a sauce for any number of things. Let me know how you like it!
Watermelon Mint Aged Goat Cheese is the perfect Summer salad that balances sweet and salty flavors. Every summer we look forward to all the watermelon that pops up in the supermarket. Although we mostly eat it as sliced wedges or in Watermelon Mint Freezes , I start to look for more interesting ways to enjoy this juicy, crunchy fruit that’s full of vitamin A and vitamin C as the summer goes on. This sweet and savory Watermelon Mint Aged Goat Cheese Salad takes full advantage of summer watermelon and all the fresh mint that’s overflowing in my patio containers.
This watermelon salad is similar to the Greek Watermelon Feta Salad I made a few summers ago except I used Sartori’s Extra Aged Goat Cheese. Not at all like creamy goat cheese you typically find these days, aged goat cheese is a semi-hard cheese that’s a little tangy and full of flavor. Whereas feta cheese is salty and briny, aged goat cheese has a more complex flavor profile. I love both versions – they both compliment watermelon nicely in a salad.
Sometimes I have to remind myself that simple is best. Scratch that—I’m always reminding myself that simple can be better. It’s hard for us analytical perfectionist types to keep things simple. To let them be. To give up control over the outcome and accept that so many variables are outside of our reach.
Let’s take this salsa, for example. It was originally a component in a healthier seven-layer dip concept, but the salsa blew the dip out of the water. One part, on its own, was so much better than the other six combined. Then, I made it a couple more times, with the same ingredients, but each time, it tasted a little different.
That’s just what happens with a simple recipe made with natural ingredients. You can pick up each tomatillo, squeeze it to gauge ripeness and peel back the husk to look for bright green skin, but you don’t know how flavorful it really is until you taste it. Add eleven more tomatillos to the mix, plus jalapeño that may or may not be crazy spicy, plus onion and cilantro of varying freshness, and you’ll never make a batch of salsa that tastes quite like another.
It will, however, be delicious, fresh and so much better than the salty jarred varieties. I can guarantee that much. That’s the beauty of simple recipes made with fresh, natural ingredients—they’re inevitably awesome. Don’t over think it. Trust the recipe. Adjust to suit your taste buds.
I’ve posted somewhere around 450 recipes on this blog, and I still experience a little trepidation when I attempt something new. How is this going to work? Will it turn out well? Will it be good enough to share with others? Maybe you can relate. Somehow, I hadn’t tried making homemade versions of the jarred salsas that so often disappoint until lately. I’m never going back!
This salsa verde is fresh, bright and not too salty like those store-bought versions. I tried making it with raw tomatillos, but they’re borderline sour. Roasting them really brings out their best side. Tomatillos look like small green tomatoes with husks, but they aren’t tomatoes —they’re cousins. I’ve had an easy time finding them at grocery stores lately.
Some roasted tomatillo salsas I’ve tried taste too roasted/smoky, but not this one. You can also control just how roasted those tomatillos get when you roast them yourself. I think it turned out just right with the times specified in the recipe below.
Salsa verde is great with pretty much anything that goes well with regular tomato salsa. I think it’s especially fantastic with sweet potatoes (check out these burritos and this burrito bowl ) and eggs (like huevos rancheros , frittatas and breakfast tacos ).
I also really love creamy avocado salsa verde, which you can make by throwing some diced avocado into the mix. I’ve included instructions below.
Products used in this recipe
Cuisinart 7-Cup Food Processor Nordic Ware Baker’s Quarter Sheet ? For more of my favorite cooking tools, shop my kitchen essentials !