- -
- - -

Friday, February 22, 2013

Wheat berry Waldorf Salad

This recipe is from the original Whole Foods Cookbook.  I've posted about it before but the link is now broken as Whole Foods website has made changes.  I'm still making the recipe though.  It is one of my favorite whole grain salads.  The salad is composed of whole grain wheat berries, diced apples, dried currants/cherries/cranberries/craisins, walnuts, chopped celery, chopped parsley and a snappy dressing.  It's crunchy and refreshing and hard to stop eating.  Wheat berries are also known as groats. They are the wheat at its most unprocessed form.  From Eating Well, the nutrition of cooked wheat berries is as follows:  Per 1/2 cup: 151 calories; 1 g fat ( 0 g sat , 0 g mono ); 0 mg cholesterol; 29 g carbohydrates; 0 g added sugars; 6 g protein; 4 g fiber; 265 mg sodium; 2 mg potassium.

So what I like to do is put this salad together and leave it in the fridge.  Then I have a go to for lunch or a snack that I really like and is quick access.  Steve will bring a container with him to work if he wants too. It is very convenient.  You can combine it with some salad greens (and any leftovers from the dressing) to make a really delicious and elegant lunch.

I didn't have my good camera so these pictures don't really reflect how pretty this salad is with the red skins of the apple and the green celery.  I didn't even have parsley for this go round.

I'm giving you the vinaigrette that I use to dress this salad, not the one from the original source of the recipe.  Plus, the salad recipe I give you is the orig. recipe, halved. Give it a try.  You can even eat it for breakfast.  With the apples, walnuts and whole grains, it makes for a great start.

Wheat Berry Waldorf Salad (adaped from the Whole Foods Cookbook) serves 4

1 c. wheat berries
3 1/2 c water
1/2 c chopped walnuts, lightly toasted
1 medium apple, diced small
1/2 c dried fruit, preferable currants or dried cherries, cut in half.  Also, dried cranberries or craisins
1/2 c chopped fresh italian parsley

For the salad:

In a saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Add the wheat berries to the boiling water and simmer them uncovered for 50 - 60 minutes, until they are totally cooked through.  The will still be a little firm and chewy.  You may need to add a little water toward the end or you may not, so keep an eye on it at the end of cooking.  When tender, drain and cool wheat berries.

Transfer to a large mixing bowl, add walnuts, apples, currants, celery and parsley.  Add half the vinaigrette and toss.  Taste and add a bit more.  Salt more if necessary.  You may not need all the dressing.


1/2 shallot, minced
1/8 white balsamic vinegar or cider
1 T water
1/4 c light flavored olive oil or more to taste, (you don't need extra virgin here but it would be fine)
salt, pepper to taste

Whisk the shallot with the vinegar, water and a pinch of salt. Whisk in the olive oil. Taste, if too tart add a little more oil. Salt and pepper to your liking.  Don't add all to salad, add some and mix it with grain salad.  You may not need it all.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Clean Eating since January

Since the beginning of the year I've really been working on cleaning up my eating.  I haven't worried about calories at all.  I've have just been focusing on eating all the really healthy stuff every day and staying away from meat as much as possible.  It hasn't changed my mornings at all but I've had to tune up my lunches and not rely so much on the basic turkey sandwich.

Dinner has been exciting!  I enjoy the parameters of having to feed us without meat.  It makes it interesting for me.  It's easy to cook a chicken breast, stuff it with goat cheese and make it taste good.  It's a lot harder to do that with beans, green and vegetables.  But I embrace the challenge because it is how I want to eat.  I thought I'd just share some of the stuff I've been up to.

This is Fine Cooking's Wild Mushroom Soup. It was just ok.  I found the sherry to be too strong and the flavors really bold.  I have to say next time I'd try a different recipe.

Here's a little sneaky snack that I like to make. Normally I wouldn't use a store-bought salad dressing but this asian peanut one from Brianna's is really good. Having it in the fridge enables me to throw together this little snack at the drop of the hat (which is how I need to be able to eat lunch.) I use store bought bagged shredded cabbage or slaw mix or broccoli slaw or whatever you like. I add to it some slivered red bell pepper if I have it (I usually do but unfortunately not for this picture.) I add some cilantro and a handful of peanuts with a LITTLE BIT of dressing and toss like a crazy person to get it all coated. Voila! You've got instant asian salad. It's very healthy and satisfying. And there's not limits to the things you could throw in. Sugar snap peas, edamame...

Here's another staple of my life, stuff spread on toast. I like guac and hummus of all flavors. I like to top with greens and sometimes halved cherry tomatoes. Here it is with hummus and pickled peppers. Yum!

Next up, my veggie chili. I may come back and type out the recipe for this. I think it comes out good. It's easy and makes a small batch. The secret is really good chili pepper from Penzey's

Here's my smoothie makings in action. Banana, strawberries, wild blue berries, kale, soy protein, flax seed, chia seeds, psyllium husk, almond milk and let her rip.

It looks like this when you're done. So good and satisfying.

Well, I hope this post wasn't too indulgent. I enjoy sharing what I make. And I am working every day toward eating cleaner.

Monday, February 11, 2013

I love toast.

Please meet Guacamole Toast.  It's a favorite snack of mine and its variations are only limited by your creativity.  The one you're seeing here is whole wheat toast, a spread of hummus, a spread of guacamole, some pea shoots or in this case, microgreens and a sprinkling of pico de gallo.  I often make it without the hummus but it makes it a little more nutritious if you add it.   This can accompany a bowl of soup with some carrots and cherry tomatoes for a nice lunch.  Also sometimes I like to have it at night when I need a little something to hold me over until morning.  If you put guacamole on anything it makes it better

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

A post without a recipe.

So I was going to give you another lentil recipe, this time as a sloppy joe sandwich.  But after making the recipe I don't think it is good enough to share.  However, I am not done with this concept yet.  I am going to try making lentil sloppy joes with my regular (meat-based) sloppy joe recipe but switching in the beans for meat.  I think the sauce is much better.  My recipe is from 150 Best American Recipes from Molly Stevens.  This one I just tried, from Pam Anderson's Meatless Meals, was just kind of blah.  However we did eat it for two nights, so it wasn't horrible. 

Here's what my turkey joe's look like.  They are really good if you are not ready to make the jump to lentils.  Believe me, my husband is not! 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Black Bean and Pepper Jack Burgers

I might as well call this the Bean Blog because there's a bit of an overabundance of bean posts.  This may be a bit boring but it's my journal and the truth is I love them and look for opportunities to make them into dinner as often as I can.   I find them very satisfying to the belly and a great weeknight option.  They can be made from items easily attainable at any of the corner fruit markets that are common in our Chicago neighborhoods  So I don't have to go to a supermarket (always a good thing.)

This particular recipe, Black Bean and Pepper Jack Burgers was chosen because it got really good reviews on the Fine Cooking website (this is free content, so the link to the recipe should work.)  Looking at the ingedients, I figured it couldn't possibly be bad.  More amazing about it is that there's half a cup of old fashioned rolled oats included in the mixture.  That an eighth of a cup per burger and you will never notice.  Besides that, the general cast of mexican flavors is represented:  beans, pepper jack cheese, cilantro,  green onions, cumin for spice and an egg to bind.  Basically, it is all mixed into a bean paste and then formed into patties to chill.  Then they are cooked until nicely browned on both sides.  A cast iron skillet will give you the sear you really want.

Toasted buns elevate any burger. Seriously, it makes a huge difference.

Toasty and warm.

I served on toasted buns with some salsa and avocado for toppings.  We were really happy with these.  Even my 8yr old agreed that the bean patty was tasty, though he didn't want a bun.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Lentils, the Little Engine that Could.

I don't expect you to get excited about lentil tacos.  I don't expect anyone to get excited about them. What is to get excited about a humble brown bean?  They are just kind of blah and plain.   But if there's no meat in the house and you need to make some kind of dinner in a flash, lentils can be a life-saver.    They take to all sorts of flavors and cook up in 15 minutes without need for soaking ahead of time.  I have a few lentil go-to dishes for dinner: a warm lentil skillet with bacon, a lentil soup, a lentil salad with crunchy things added and a sharp vinaigrette.  And recently I came across this recipe for a lentil taco and I was intrigued.

This idea for lentils as a taco filling came from Pam Anderson's How to Cook without a Book, Meatless Meals.  It seemed like a reasonable preparation to me.  Lentils cooked like a spicy chili, but with more of a taco flavor than a chili flavor and reduced a bit more to thicken up.  The filling then gets scooped in a warm tortilla and when topped with all the yummy garnishes you like on a taco.

I won't say it exactly copies a spicy beef or chicken, but it approximates it enough to fool the mouth, especially when combined with all the toppings and the tortilla.   It is kind of like a spicy bean dip.

I'm linking you to the recipe here and encouraging you to give it a try.  I will say I doctored her spices a bit.   So... drop the oregano from the recipe and instead add 1 teaspoon of ground coriander and a good healthy pinch of cayenne.  And, after everything has simmered together, finish it with a light splash of cider vinegar (trust me!)    Check for salt and warm up those tortillas.

As far as toppings go, I did a cabbage slaw.  This is nothing but bagged shredded slaw mix, seasoned with salt and pepper and, yes again, tossed with some vinegar, but this time rice vinegar to taste.  This will give you a bright crunch to balance the spicy lentils  And now you have cabbage and lentils, this is shaping up nicely in terms of a nutritious taco.

I also like some chopped fresh cilantro and some hot sauce too.  Pico de gallo would also be nice.  Husband added some shredded cheese because that's how he rolls.  Whatever you like on tacos is what you should put on them.   Guacamole adds good fat and nutrition!

These are even better the next day after the spices and flavors have melded.  Also, you can roll up lentils and cheese in a flour tortilla and bake it until melty and warm to make a baked burrito.  First cover with foil and then remove toward the end so it gets toasty.  Serve with sour cream and garnishes of your pleasing.  This makes a damn good bean burrito.  You will like this recipe more than you think you will. 

And no animals were harmed in the making of this segment.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Everything is better inside pastry.

Pot Pie is a winter thing, right? Because it is 2 degrees in Chicago today and there is nothing that seems more appropriate than tucking into a nice bowl of warmth.  I find total comfort in breaking that crusty shell with a spoon and knowing there is a delicious stew bubbling underneath.  It's always so hot, you have to hold yourself back so you don't burn your tongue. 

Of course, the nostaligic mind first goes the classic chicken pot pie with carrots and peas.  But really you can turn any stew, even leftover stew into a pot pie.  It all started after I read Smitten Kitchen's blog post about a Pancetta, Swiss Chard and White Bean Pot Pie.  I like to focus my dinner plans on what kind of green I am going to insert by happenstance into my husband's body;  so the idea of a this stew tucked under a pastry crust was really appealing.  The first time I made it, I switched pancetta for crumbled italian sausage that I had browned.  Beans, greens and sausage are a natural combo and the sausage gave it some heat that I thought might be missing with pancetta. Other than that, I followed the recipe exactly and it was really good and we ate them for two nights. (Read how she says to store them for serving the next night.)

  But what was the most exciting thing about this recipe, is not what is inside, it is the crust.

This is not your typical pastry crust.  It uses greek yogurt and vinegar mixed with water for the wet ingredients.  I like to pretend adding the yogurt makes it healthy, but I shouldn't because there is still a lot of butter in this dough.  It rolls out like a dream and cooks up beautifully.  If you have never made pastry before, I would recommend this one because it is so user-friendly.    The recipe is included with the above link.  I use 6 oz ramekins and I find you can roll and cut out 6, 6-inch circles to top the pies with one recipe of dough. 

With my Pot Pie engines at full throttle, I decided I needed to made this crust again but with my favorite chicken pot pie filling from Ina Garten.  This is a great recipe as it is written, but super rich.  You do not need to saute your onions in 1 1/2 sticks of butter.  Half veg oil/half butter will do the trick and do don't need that volume of fat either but if you reduce it, remember to adjust the amount of stock as well because this will utimately become your sauce.

All the recipes can be found at the links.  If you have any questions, I'd love a chance to answer them.  And if your name is Christine McGrath, I will come to your house and make this with you. 

- -
- - -
Made by Lena