2 Things You Will Never Have To Buy Again

P1060831  

P1060896

There are two things you never ever need to buy from the grocery store: salad dressing and pesto sauce.  It’s not that the ones you buy from the shop will harm you in anyway.  It’s just that the freshly made ones are far more superior in taste, and they are super easy and fast to make.  Maybe there will be a little washing and chopping, or maybe not.  Maybe it will involve some stirring, or maybe just turning on a button on the food processor.  It’s done in a matter of minutes and you feel so accomplished and talented having done that. I didn’t know that until I began searching for healthier and tastier salad dressing to help me and my family eat better.

Since the weather warmed up, we have been eating a lot of salads and the whole family finds them delicious and satisfying — largely because of the homemade dressing.  It could be as simple as just fresh lemon and olive oil with a little salt and pepper.; no store bought dressing, no matter how fancy, could beat the taste of it. 

Today, I tried this simple pesto recipe from Epicurious and am now convinced that I will scratch pesto sauce from my shopping list forever.  It was as if I had never had pesto before in my life — that’s how wonderful it tasted compared to any pesto I had ever bought in any store.

P1060890

P1060897

INGREDIENTS

2 cups fresh basil

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

1/4 cup pine nuts

1 garlic clove

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup olive oil

P1060836

PREPARATION

Place all ingredients except basil in a food processor and puree until almost smooth. Then add basil and puree some more.  Adding basil last keeps it from turning brown.

Serve.

Note:  One important thing is to buy the best and freshest ingredients when it comes to this recipe.

P1060837

Pesto Cauliflower Salad

Ingredients:

Cauliflower florets from 1 head cauliflower

3/4 cup to 1 cup fresh pesto sauce depending on the size of the cauliflower.  I used 3/4 cup.

Preparation:

Steam florets for 6 minutes and let cool completely in a large open container or colander. Mix the fresh pesto sauce with the cauliflower to coat.  Serve at room temperature.  

P1060834

P1060895

Lemon Almond Souffle & Vegetarian Taco by Audrey

P1060855  P1060870

Audrey cooked dinner for us tonight.  She opened a package of wheat protein called Seitan and made delicious vegetarian tacos.  A dash of this and a dash of that.  She claimed that it was a secret recipe, but I think she was just improvising as she went.  She enjoys the kitchen almost as much as I do.  She is fast — turning out a meal in a matter of minutes, leaving behind a mess as if the hurricane has swept through the kitchen.  She looked so cute and sweet in her apron that I couldn’t get mad at her.

P1060859   P1060862

In April, Audrey and I filmed at this lovely little cafe theater in Las Vegas called Inspire Theater.  On the magazine rack I saw a stack of Vegetarian Times Special with “5-Ingredient Recipes” on the cover and I immediately swiped one copy.  This 5-ingredient soufflé recipe is grain free, dairy free, paleo-friendly and deceptively easy to make.  It is melt-in-your-mouth light and airy.  Most importantly, it is absolutely delicious!

P1060874

P1060813

Lemon-Almond Souffles

Ingredients:

2 teaspoon coconut oil

4 large eggs, separated

3 tablespoon honey, softened or Joseph’s sugar free maple syrup

3 tablespoon fresh organic Meyer lemon juice + zest from 1 lemon

3 tablespoon almond meal

P1060814

P1060826

P1060873

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350F.  Grease 6 4oz. ovenproof ramekins with coconut oil up to the rims.  Chill ramekins in refrigerator.

Whisk together 3 egg yolks, honey, lemon juice, lemon zest and almond meal in medium bowl. (Discard or use the extra yolk another time.)

Beat 4 egg whites with electric mixer until stiff peaks form.  Fold meringue into egg yol mixture with spatula.

Fill Ramekins two-thirds full, and bake 10 to 12 minutes, or until puffy and golden brown. (I baked it for 12 minutes.) Serve immediately. 

We made the first batch with honey and a second batch with Joseph’s sugar-free maple syrup.  Both came out great.

P1060814  P1060877

P1060886 (1)  P1060880

Rainbow & Black Rice Salad with Mango and Peanuts

P1060808

On today’s New York Times, there was an article by columnist David Brooks titled Small, Happy Life.  When asked to share about their purpose and meaning in life, many readers submitted essays about what Brooks calls the pursuit of the “small happy life” instead of the lofty ideals and goals we usually hear about in graduation commencement speeches. 

When I was young, I was plagued by the free-floating existential angst about life’s ultimate meaning.  Having a family quelled that, mostly.  Life’s goal became extremely simple after I gave birth to my children: feed them, love them, raise them and give them the best I can give.  To rear the young has been the purpose of every mother from the beginning of time — be it birds or cats or monkeys or humans.  In my small happy life, I have a family, great books, great food, mostly great children, a lot of headaches, occasional crises and most importantly a lot of love  — everything I need to have meaning.

Audrey has been doing a school project called “My Life” which is presented in photos and videos.  They are supposed to talk about their dreams for the future at the end.  As she was putting the presentation together, she called out to me, “What do I want to be in the future, mommy?” I thought it over for a beat and said, “Anything you want to be, darling.”  And I meant it.  And she became a little frustrated, “That’s the problem.”  She finally settled on “Action Star.”  I hope in this small happy life that I strive for, my children can reach for the rainbow.

Speaking of that, here is a salad with every hue of the rainbow.  I saw it on epicurious and was immediately drawn to it by the vibrant colors of the salad.  I have always enjoyed the combination of sticky rice, mango and peanuts in Southeast Asian dessert, and this salad reminds me of the times I have spent in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia.

P1060810

Black Rice Salad with Mango and Peanuts

Ingredients:

2 oranges

1/4 cup (or more) fresh lime juice

1 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon sesame oil

2 teaspoon fish sauce

2 teaspoon soy sauce

2 cups black rice (preferably Lotus Foods Forbidden Rice)

Salt to taste

2 just-ripe mangoes, peeled, pitted, cut into 1/2″ dice

1 cup fresh cilantro leaves

1 cup finely chopped red onion (about 1/2 large onion)

1/2 cup dry-roasted peanuts

6 scallions, thinly sliced

2 jalapeños, seeded, minced

P1060802

Preparation:

Remove peel and white pith from oranges. Working over a medium bowl to catch juices and using a small sharp knife, cut between membranes to release orange segments into bowl. Squeeze membranes over bowl to release any juices. Strain juices through a fine-mesh sieve into a small bowl; reserve orange segments.

Add 1/4 cup lime juice, oil, and fish sauce (if using) to bowl with orange juice; whisk to blend. Set dressing aside.

Bring rice and 2 3/4 cups water to a boil in a large saucepan. Season lightly with salt. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer until all liquid is absorbed and rice is tender, about 25 minutes. Remove pan from heat and let stand, covered, for 15 minutes. Spread out rice on a rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with dressing, and season lightly with salt; let cool.

Place mangoes and remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Add rice and toss gently to combine. Season lightly with salt and more lime juice, if desired.

P1060811

Fifty Shades of Green

P1060797

I didn’t come up with the name, I have to admit.  (I never read the book either.)  Sometime ago, I saw a similar salad on a food magazine in a doctor’s office and thought it would be a fun idea to try making a salad with all spectrum of the color green.  It’s amazing how this homogeneous looking salad is so richly diverse in taste from bite to bite — each shade of green is its own unique flavor and texture.   

P1060799

Fifty Shades of Green

Ingredients for the salad:

3 packed cups torn butter lettuce

1 packed cup mixed spring greens

1 packed cup Arugula

1 cucumber, sliced

2 avocados, sliced

1/2 cup shelled pistachio nuts, chopped

1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped

Ingredients for the dressing:

Juice of 1 Meyer lemon

1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste

1/2 cup nonfat Greek yogurt (I used nonfat Fage)

2 teaspoon chopped dill

1 teaspoon honey

P1060800

Preparation:

Mix all the ingredients for the dressing in food processor.

Mix all the leaves in a salad bowl. Pour the desired amount of dressing and toss to mix.  Add avocado and gently toss with the rest of the salad.  Top with pistachio nuts before serving.

P1060798  P1060801

Cilantro Lime Prawns

P1060773

My friend Betty, who loved my Healthy Cherry Garcia Ice Cream Pie, just emailed me a photo of the Xylitol that she bought from Amazon.  The email read, “Am so excited. I wonder if this means I will start cooking??!!!”  I love it when I can get my friends to cook and share their results with me.  It’s funny how people unabashedly share so many photos of their food everywhere. Food porn is definitely an undeniable part of mainstream American culture that all ethnic groups participate in – from all the food channels to blogs to Facebook sharing to Instagram to text messages etc. etc. – nowadays even eating alone can be a social event.  Food has been bringing people together for centuries; now virtual food is bringing people together in a different way.

P1060777  P1060779

So here it is:  Cilantro Lime Prawns

This flavorful dish goes well with yesterday’s corn salad, or the corn chowder that I have shared in February.  I can’t wait to cook the chowder again with fresh corn.

Ingredients:

1 pounds peeled and deveined prawns or jumbo shrimp

1/4 teaspoon teaspoon ground cumin

Kosher Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons to 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

5 garlic cloves, crushed

2 tablespoons lime juice (from 1 medium lime)

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1 teaspoon chopped fresh cilantro for garnish

P1060781

Preparation:

Season the shrimp with cumin, and salt and pepper to taste.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to the pan, then shrimp. Cook them undisturbed for about 2 minutes. Turn the shrimp over and cook until opaque throughout, about 1 minute.

Add crushed garlic and stir for 30 seconds, and then add the 1/4 chopped the cilantro and stir for another 30 seconds.

Squeeze the lime juice over all the shrimp. Garnish with cilantro and serve.

Cook in batches if you want to double the recipe.

P1060780

Adapted from Skinnytaste.com

Against All Grain

I am traveling this weekend and regrettably will not be in my kitchen, but I want to share with you the wonderful dishes from my guest blogger, New York Times Bestseller cookbook author Danielle Walker, who overcame debilitating disease through healthful eating.  I found her story and her cookbooks inspirational and hope that you will enjoy these recipes.

ART__T2A0796-683x1024

Hello Hungry Empress readers! I hope you enjoy my new recipe collection. Each recipe is gluten-free, dairy-free and Paleo-friendly.

Eating a nutritious diet focused on meals and snacks prepared at home doesn’t have to be intimidating. While it does take a little extra work to prepare things from scratch, I think you’ll find that you’ll not only enjoy the food, but also the process.

I’ve included a few of my favorite tips for easing nutritious eating and cooking into your regimen—if you haven’t already!

·         Planning meals and cooking ahead is key to keeping up a good habit, like eating and snacking healthfully

·         Never waste fresh produce, repurpose it! For example, if you start to notice your bananas ripening and you are not ready to enjoy them, simply peel and throw them in a plastic bag and place in the freezer

·         Use Mason jars for portable and compact lunches

Feel free to stop by my blog Against All Grain for more tips, recipes and information about my cookbooks.

Enjoy! Danielle

The new recipes include:

·         Chocolate Almond Cherry Power Cookies

·         Almond Matcha Superfood Smoothie

·         Thai Shrimp Salad with Spicy Almond Dressing

·         Slow Cooker Moroccan Chicken with Chopped Almonds, Apricots and Cauliflower Couscous

·         Layered Chia & Almond Pudding Parfait

Danielle Walker's Chocolate Almond Cherry Power Cookie

Chocolate Almond Cherry Power Cookies

Yields 16 cookies

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons ground chia seeds

1/2 cup unsalted natural almond butter, unsweetened

1/2 cup ground flaxseed

1/2 cup arrowroot powder

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

1 tablespoon pure maple syrup

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon lemon juice

3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup unsweetened dried cherries, chopped

1/4 cup dark chocolate pieces (80% cacao)

1/4 cup sliced almonds

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350°F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Whisk together 1/2 cup hot water and ground chia seeds and let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes to thicken.

Meanwhile, in the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the almond butter, flaxseed, arrowroot, applesauce, maple syrup, cinnamon, lemon juice, nutmeg, ginger and sea salt. Mix on medium speed to combine fully.

Add the thickened chia mixture to the bowl with the baking soda and beat again until fully combined. Stir in the cherries and chocolate pieces.

Using a cookie scoop or a large spoon, drop dough onto the lined baking sheets. Wet fingers slightly with warm water and gently press the mounds down to flatten slightly. Sprinkle the tops of the cookies with sliced almonds.

Bake for 15 minutes, until golden brown around the edges and the almonds are lightly toasted. Cool on a wire rack completely before serving.

Danielle Walker's Almond Matcha Superfood Smoothie

Almond Matcha Superfood Smoothie

Serves 2

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk

1 cup baby kale, packed

3/4 cup frozen pineapple

1/2 cup frozen mango pieces

1 medium frozen banana

2 tablespoons unsalted natural almond butter, unsweetened

1 tablespoon matcha green tea powder

2 teaspoons chia seeds

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

Combine all of the ingredients in a blender. Blend on high until smooth. Serve immediately.

Danielle Walker's Thai Shrimp Salad with Spicy Almond Butter Dressing

Thai Shrimp Salad with Spicy Almond Dressing

Serves 6

Ingredients:

For the Spicy Almonds

1/2 cup whole natural almonds

3/4 teaspoon maple syrup

1 1/2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon coconut aminos

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt

1/8 teaspoon cayenne

1/8 teaspoon paprika

For the Dressing

2 tablespoons unsalted natural almond butter, unsweetened

1 tablespoon maple syrup

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped

1 tablespoon lime juice

2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

For the Salad

1 pound wild shrimp, tails removed, peeled and deveined

1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil

Sea salt and pepper

1 cup mung bean sprouts

1 cup carrots, julienned

1 cup red cabbage, shredded

1 cup cucumber, julienned

4 cups arugula

4 cups mixed baby greens

1/4 cup fresh chopped basil

1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro

1/2 cup dressing

1/2 cup spicy almonds, chopped

Directions:

To make the spicy almonds: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Toss all of the ingredients together in a bowl, then spread the almonds in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and drizzle with any remaining sauce. Bake for 10 minutes, turning once halfway through. Cool completely, then roughly chop.

Meanwhile, make the dressing: Place all of the ingredients in a blender except for the olive oil. Blend until smooth. With the blender running, slowly drizzle the olive oil into the blender in a steady stream. Add one tablespoon of water, to help keep the dressing liquid when refrigerated.

To assemble the salads: Toss the shrimp in the olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Heat a grill pan or skillet to medium-high heat and cook the shrimp for two minutes on each side, until pink throughout. Set aside to cool.

Divide the dressing between six 24-ounce Mason jars or bowls. Divide and layer the remaining salad ingredients in the four jars or bowls in the order they are listed, with the lettuce and shrimp at the top. Leave 1 inch of space at the top of the jar.

Garnish each with about 1 tablespoon chopped spicy almonds, cover and refrigerate until ready to enjoy. When ready to enjoy, shake the jar vigorously to mix the ingredients and dressing.

Danielle Walker's Slow Cooker Moroccan Chicken with Chopped Almonds, Apr...

Slow Cooker Moroccan Chicken with Chopped Almonds, Apricots and Cauliflower Couscous

Serves 6

Ingredients:

For the Chicken

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

3 pounds bone-in chicken thighs, skins removed

Salt and pepper (to initially season the chicken)

1 medium yellow onion, peeled and sliced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon cayenne

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon cracked pepper

1/2 cup unsalted chicken stock

1/4 cup unsalted natural almond butter, unsweetened

6 ounces unsweetened dried apricots

1 pound baby carrots

For the Cauliflower Couscous

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

3/4 cup yellow onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 large head cauliflower, cut into florets

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon cracked pepper

2 tablespoons unsweetened dried cherries

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Zest of 1 lemon

For the Garnish

1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted

1/4 cup fresh cilantro

Directions:

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Season the chicken generously with salt and pepper then add half of the chicken to the pot. Cook for 5 minutes, browning on all sides. Transfer the chicken to a slow cooker and repeat with remaining chicken.

Return the pot to the stove and add onion and garlic and sauté for three minutes or until tender. Add the ginger, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, cayenne, salt and pepper and sauté for 30 seconds or until fragrant.

Stir in chicken stock and almond butter, scraping pot to loosen any browned bits. Pour contents of pot over chicken into the slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for five hours.

Add the apricots and baby carrots to the slow cooker, cover and cook an additional hour.

Meanwhile, prepare the cauliflower couscous. Rice cauliflower by running the florets through a food processor with a grating attachment or use a box grater to create rice-like pieces. Pick out any large fragments that didn’t get shredded and save for another use. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Sauté the onions and garlic for 2 minutes, then add the cauliflower, salt and pepper. Sauté for 8 to 10 minutes, until the cauliflower is tender. Stir in the cherries, basil, cilantro and lemon zest.

Garnish the chicken with toasted, sliced almonds and fresh cilantro. Serve over cauliflower couscous.

Note: To toast almonds, spread them in an even layer on a baking sheet. Bake at 350°F for 5 minutes.

Danielle Walker's Layered Chia & Almond Pudding Parfait

Layered Chia & Almond Pudding Parfait

Serves 6

Ingredients:

2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin powder

2 cups unsweetened almond milk

6 ounces pitted dates

1/2 cup unsweetened raw cacao powder

1/3 cup chia seeds

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

2 medium bananas, sliced

1/3 cup unsalted natural almond butter, unsweetened

1 cup mixed berries of choice

1/4 cup roasted almonds, chopped

Directions:

Pour 3/4 cup water into a saucepan and sprinkle the gelatin over top. Turn the burner to med-high heat and whisk until the gelatin is fully dissolved. Set aside.

Combine almond milk, dates, cacao powder, chia seeds, vanilla, cinnamon and sea salt in a blender. Blend until very smooth, about two minutes. With the blender running, slowly pour in the gelatin liquid. Transfer the mixture to a bowl, cover and refrigerate overnight.

To assemble the parfaits: Divide the banana slices between six 8-ounce Mason jars or bowls. Spoon equal amounts of almond butter into the jars, then top with equal amounts of the chilled pudding. Top with berries and almonds and serve immediately or refrigerate covered for up to three days.

Carrot Lemongrass Soup and Watercress Salad with Sesame-Garlic Dressing

P1060625

P1060628

A few days ago, I received a box of Smart Soup. There were five different flavors and today I tried the Vietnamese Carrot Lemongrass Soup.  It’s remarkable that this low-sodium, vegan frozen soup could be this flavorful and satisfying.  I enjoyed it even more than the Santa Fe Corn Chowder from the other day, which was also quite delicious.  I’m definitely going to stock more Smart Soup in my freezer.

This soup can go well with many of my Asian recipes, such as Asian peanut noodle with chicken, healthy pineapple fried rice, Thai lemongrass chicken or vegetarian aloha spring rolls

The soup complemented perfectly the salad that I made today.  Soup and salad made a perfect meal for a warm day like today.

P1060622

Watercress Salad with Sesame-Garlic Dressing

Ingredients for Dressing:

Juice from 1 large lime

1 tablespoon fish sauce (if you don’t have fish sauce you can use soy sauce)

1 tablespoon brown sugar or xylitol

2 teaspoon 100% pure sesame oil

1 teaspoon finely minced garlic

1 minced jalapeno pepper

P1060615  P1060619

Ingredients for Salad:

1 1/2 cup trimmed watercress or arugula

1 1/2 cup torn butter lettuce

3 to 4 radishes, thinly sliced

1 avocado, sliced

4 boiled eggs

1/4 cup finely chopped green onion

1/4 cup cilantro

1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds

P1060626

Preparation:

To make hard-boiled eggs, place in a small saucepan and cover with enough water to submerge the eggs.  Bring to boil and turn off the stove and let sit on the stove for 10 minutes before rinsing in cold water.  Cut into quarters.

To make the dressing, mix all the ingredients in a bowl.

To make the salad, mix the lettuce, watercress, radishes, green onion and cilantro in a salad bowl.  Separate equally into 4 dishes.  Top each place with 1 egg, 1/4 avocado.  Pour the dressing over the salad and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Blackened Fish with Cabbage Mango Slaw

P1110810

P1110815

Audrey is turning 13 tomorrow and she’s having a little celebration today with her friends — family not invited — and that’s fine by me.  I used to be stressed out about her birthday parties when she was younger, racking my brain to come up with ideas that would be fun for her friends, as all of their B-day parties seemed to be such fancy and elaborated productions.  There was one year — I think she was turning 5 or 6 — I was away on location and felt very guilty about being absent on her birthday.  Peter said that birthdays come every year, and there is no reason to stress out about it.  He said that the three of them would just celebrate at home with a cake.  I got emotional and made him promise to hire a birthday party organizer to have a big party at the house for Audrey’s entire class.  Looking back the whole thing was less about Audrey’s birthday party than about assuaging my own guilt for not being there for my kids. 

P1110863

Now that she is older, she has been organizing her own birthday celebrations — watching a movie or having a sleep-over or going to a restaurant — mostly just spending time with her friends.  That’s what’s meaningful for her and that’s how it should be.  All the stress inducing, elaborate parties of her early years were absolutely unnecessary.  They did not make anyone happier.  They were just done to fulfill some phantom expectation.  I feared that I would let my children down if they didn’t have the same kind of parties their friends had, and that would somehow damage them for life.  I wanted to do all in my power to give them the best of everything that I could muster.  I didn’t enjoy parties, and deemed birthday festivities arbitrary.  I would rather celebrate the real milestones — their first word recognition, for instance — no matter how little these accomplishments, they were more meaningful than a date on a calendar.  If I could do it again, I’d probably have a less anxious attitude about those birthday parties.  Alas, hindsight is always 20/20.

P1110872

Today, I didn’t have to lift a finger.  Audrey went with her friends to Union Street and tried out different makeup at Sephora.  They then had dinner at Castagna, a French bistro she had chosen to go on Chestnut Street. They are now playing in the basement.  Now and then, I hear them laughing, shrieking, but I hardly see any of them.  Now they are all quiet, perhaps watching a film. I think they would probably rather have Peter and I go out and leave them alone entirely.

P1110867

For food, I made blackened fish taco with cabbage mango slaw.  Remember the slaw I posted the day before yesterday?  In the original recipe it was supposed to go with the fish and they are perfect together. 

P1110809

Peter ate his fish taco without the taco shell.  He said this dish is a winner in his book.

P1110816

I ate mine with the taco

Blackened Fish taco with Cabbage Mango Slaw

For the cabbage slaw:

3 1/2 cups (1/2 small) red cabbage, shredded fine 

1 mango, julienned

1 red jalapeno pepper, seeded and thinly sliced

2 tsp olive oil

1/4 cup cilantro

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1 lime, juiced

 P1110807

For the tacos:

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp dry mustard

1/4 tsp (1/2 tsp for spicier) ground cayenne pepper

1/4 tsp ground cumin

1/4 tsp ground oregano

1/8 tsp black pepper

1 lb skinless cod or halibut filet

1/2 lime, juiced

cooking spray

8 corn tortillas

lime wedges for serving

1/2 lime, cut into wedges

P1110803

P1110805

Preparation:

Combine all the slaw ingredients and refrigerate.

Mix the dried spices and seasoning together in a small bowl, squeeze the lime on the fish then rub the seasoning onto fish.

Heat a cast iron skillet on grill or stove on high heat till really hot. Spray with nonstick oil spray. Cook until opaque in the center and well browned on the outside, about 5 minutes on each side.

Heat the corn tortillas in a steamer with boiled hot water. I turned the stove off after the water boils and put the tortillas on a small plate in the steamer.  The steam from the hot water will warm and soften the tortillas. 

Divide the fish equally between 4 tortilla and top each with 1/2 cup slaw. Serve with lime wedges.

P1110812 P1110815

Adapted from skinnytaste

Scones & Chili

P1110668

Breakfast Scones

P1110568

Turkey Chili

There is a good reason why Peter usually does the dishes.  I just cut my finger quite badly washing the knife given to me by renowned chef and cookbook author Martin Yan.  And I’m typing in pain.  With my finger wrapped in bandages, I can now truly attest to the sharpness of his knife.

What I made today were variations of the recipes that I had posted on the blog before.

For breakfast, I made the gluten-free, dairy-free scones from my earlier recipe.  I switched the dried fruit and the nuts.  You can make endless variations on the combination of dried fruits and nuts with this scone recipe.

P1110656  P1110658

P1110663  P1110666

For dinner, I cooked turkey Chili.  I used a can of organic diced tomato instead of fresh tomatoes and the marinara sauce and I used the whole can of kidney beans instead of 1/2 can.  I also added 1/2 a red bell pepper.  It was as delicious as I remembered it to be.

P1110570  P1110560

P1110566  P1110574

Delicious 10-minute Chicken Salad with Meyer Lemon Honey Mustard Dressing

P1110589

When Peter saw me typing up the title for the blog, he interjected, “Not just ‘delicious,’ it’s fantastic.  Why did I bother driving to Yountville when I can have this right at home?”  That’s nice.  He is certainly an appreciative customer, and of course, biased.  But this simple and scrumptious dish is one of my own favorites from the many recipes I have posted.  

I am finally going to start exercise more conscientiously now.  I only have 5 to 6 weeks to get back in shape, not only for the second season of Marco Polo which will start shooting in June, but also for the pretty summer dresses that no longer fit me.  I have to face the reality that my decades long, often intense relationship with nuts and cheeses has become unhealthy and is no longer good for me.  It will have to stop, especially those midnight rendezvous which I always regret in the morning — I don’t mean to stop seeing each other entirely, that would be too unbearable — but we will just be friends, for now at least.  When I turn 80, if I’m lucky to get there, I will rekindle my old flame like there is no tomorrow.

For now, I must try to develop a love for baby carrots — a rebound fling.

P1110607

10-minute Chicken Salad with Meyer Lemon Honey Mustard Dressing

Ingredients for the Dressing:

Juice from 1 large Meyer lemon

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

2 teaspoon coarse ground Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon honey

1/4 teaspoon salt or to taste

Ingredients for the Salad:

2 to 2.5 oz Organic Herb Salad Mix

1 roasted chicken breast (I used Costco roast chicken)

1 avocado, diced

1/3 long English cucumber, thinly sliced

3/4 to 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved

Fresh corn kernels from 2 corns, cooked or roasted

P1110602

Preparation:

Mix all ingredients for the dressing in a bowl.

Grill, roast or cook the corn and shave the kernels off with a serrated knife.  The quickest way is to cook it in boiling water on high for 2 to 3 minutes.  I wok charred 1/4 of the kernels on high heat for a minute or so.  

Lay a bed of herb salad mix in the salad bowl.  Top with slice the chicken breast cucumber, tomatoes avocado and the corn.  Pour in the dressing and give it a light toss. 

The recipe makes two large main course servings.

P1110605

If you like this one, be sure to try the Chinese chicken salad!