Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Books That Make Us Hungry: Skinny Dips

Janet here: So far, we've focused on books about food rather than cookbooks in this feature, and it struck us that this was just silly. The best cookbooks have me salivating as I turn the pages and filling it with sticky notes about recipes I can't wait to try. So we will periodically feature cookbooks we like to get you juiced about all the wonderful recipes out there.

First up is a new book by Diane Morgan called Skinny Dips. (Chronicle Books). I don't know about you, but I love to nosh. One of my favorite parts of dinner parties is the appetizers.

Which also means I tend to fill up on these tasty goodies. Enter Diane and 60 recipes for dips, spreads, chips and salsas minus some of the calories. She's got all of your favorites and then some. Baked crab dip? Check. Hot Artichoke Dip? Check. I made the crab dip this past weekend and it was absolutely wonderful. Four of us ate The. Whole. Thing. Probably not Diane's intent for the lower calorie thing, but it was that tasty. Clearly when I serve this again, I will have to make double.

Baked Crab Dip


6 ounces lump crabmeat, well drained
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley (I only had dried so I put in about 1 tablespoon)
3 tablespoons snipped fresh chives (again I only had dried to about 1 teaspoon if you use dried)
1/2 cup reduced fat mayonnaise (I'm not going to lie; I don't own reduced fat mayo so I used the real full-fat option)
4 ounces whipped cream cheese
1 1/2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce (I used a bit more because I like my food spicy)
1/4 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest


Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Place the crabmeat in a bowl and flake with your fingers. Stire in the bell pepper, parsley and chives. Gently stir in the mayo, cream cheese, lemon juice and hot sauce.

Transfer to a shallow 1-quart baking dish. In a small bowl, combine the panko and lemon zest. Just before baking, sprinkle the panko mixture on top and bake until it's toasty brown and the dip is bubbling at the edges, about 12 minutes. Serve hot.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Meatless Mondays: Heirloom Tomato Salad

Janet here: Okay, I know I'm late coming to the heirloom tomato game, but I had never tried them until putting together this little salad for Meatless Mondays. I've known about heirloom tomatoes, but figured, really, how different can they really be from "regular"tomatoes?

The answer is plenty.

There are apparently a ton of different heirloom tomatoes. I can't tell you the name of all the ones I bought here other than that the yellow one is Old German, but I can tell you without a doubt that heirloom tomatoes taste different. It's just a fact. Anyway, I served this salad with some marinated salmon and corn, and it was a lovely taste of summer. Hope you enjoy it.

By the way, if you want to find out more about Meatless Mondays, click here. The movement is growing. Spread the word!

Tomato Salad

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
6-8 basil leaves coarsely chopped
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese (or feta would probably work too)

Slice the tomatoes into 1/2 inch wedges. Mix together the olive oil, salt, sherry vinegar until well mixed. Add to the tomato wedges and mix. Add the basil leaves and fold in. Fold in the blue cheese.

Serve room temperature.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Zucchini Salad

Hey Rachel

Summer is coming to a close here in the Northeast. The days have lost their humidity, the nights are cooler and the trees are tinged at the edges with reds and oranges. But having just visited you in the Land of Perpetual Fresh Produce, I know this whole seasonal autumnal thing isn't really part of your life. I mean I saw boxes upon boxes of fresh just-picked strawberries for god's sake when I was out there. Meanwhile the freshest fruit you're going to be seeing our way starting very soon and for the coming months is apples, apples, apples.

So as summer wanes, I'm passing on this really wonderful zucchini salad. We still have zucchini galore out here and I know you have them all the time. I have made this twice. The first time was for Susan and Mark after a day together at the Rhode Island shore. Susan called the next morning for the recipe so she could make it for her family that very night. Now that's a recipe worth saving. I tried to load a photo for all to see, but the internet wasn't cooperating...Hope you enjoy it.


Summer Zucchini Salad
serves 4

1 large zucchini, grated
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup coarsely grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Grate the zucchini. Toast the pine nuts lightly on top of the stove, stirring so they don't burn. Don't use any oil to do this. Mix with the grated zucchini

In a jar with a lid, mix the lemon juice, olive oil and salt and pepper. Shake well until the olive oil and lemon juice have emulsified. Pour over the zucchini and mix well. Stir in the Parmesan until just blended. Don't overmix. Serve at room temperature.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Z is For Zucchini

Janet here:
When I first started cooking for myself, I was a hippy of sorts (with the exception of Nixon and his cronies, just about everyone was in those days). Anyway, no one was really too surprised when I became a vegetarian at 24, a lifestyle choice I have followed ever since with only occasional lapses into baconland. ("Absolutely you should order bacon with those eggs," I would tell my children. They quickly caught on that sharing was the next step.)

Anyway the Moosewood cookbooks were my bible in those early days, and zucchini bread was one of my first breads that were not of the sandwich variety. (Although I did that too; more on that another day.) I almost feel as if zucchini bread is a rite of baking passage for beginning cooks and bakers. It feels exotic on some level — grated vegetables in a bread? How foreign! — and yet it's so luscious. Ditto with carrot cake, right?

This recipe is a particular favorite. The applesauce guarantees this is moist without a lot of the extra calories something like buttermilk or sour cream might add, while the molasses give it a bit of zip. Enjoy!

Zucchini Bread

makes one loaf

1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking power
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 cup molasses
1/2 cup applesauce
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1 cup grated zucchini
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all the dry ingredients. Make a well in the center once you've mixed them up. Add the wet ingredients and stir until well-blended. Pour into a greased loaf pan. Bake 1 hour.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Food for Thought Thursdays: And Then There Were Two

Janet here: After 13 years straight of parenting teenagers fulltime and nearly 26 years of being (mostly) first in our children's lives, Peter and I have officially moved to back-seat status. S, the last child, has left the nest for college and the middle son, G, left yesterday on a jet plane for the next life adventure on the West Coast.

It's a strange feeling, this empty nest. On the one hand, Peter and I are more than ready. One teenager would be exhausting; having multiples for years on end has left us feeling at times as if we were on the 14th round in a boxing match. There were certainly days when I wondered how I would make it until they actually left.

But now the house is empty and of course it is a lot quieter than I imagined it would be. When I walked into G's room to strip his bed, it looked and felt different than S's room, which is still filled with S's essence in a way that G's is not. S's room is a movie on pause; G's room belongs to a show that is over, its main character gone forever.

It is the way it is supposed to be, of course. I wanted to raise strong-hearted and strong-minded children who would feel the world is their oyster. I didn't want to be a parent who stood in the way or who made her children feel as if they couldn't leave. I know, too, that they will be back and that, of course, we will have more family adventures and times together. But the path of the orbit has shifted; where we were once the sun, now we are the moon, still providing light of course but without the same strength.

I know in coming days, I will begin to feel happier about this new change. I am excited to see what it means for Peter and me individually and as a couple. If nothing else, I am no longer going to have to worry about whether a new dish will be well-received; the last fussy eater just left the building and our palate just expanded immeasurably.

Most of all, I am excited to see where our children will go next. This time of their lives is so open with opportunity; it is the decade of complete possibility in so many ways. I can't wait to see where the ride takes them — and us.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Rachel here: Oh, summer. We've had an abnormally cool and grey summer here in the Bay Area with the heat finally arriving this week as we begin to consider the start of fall. This has left me and my fellow Bay Area dwellers scrambling to soak up these summery days before they disappear into the rain and fog that dominates...well...the rest of the year. Anyway, nothing is more summery than grilling and grilling is often best when done with marinaded food. Below you'll find a veggie marinade of my mom's followed by a chicken marinade of mine. What's one of your favorite marinades?

Janet here:
As the part of this duo who is actually based in a part of the country where winters are, um, long and, depending on my feelings, challenging and depressing, I can say that I am not totally pumped to be even suggesingt summer is coming to an end. However, wonderful autumn, in particular fabulous October — the best month of the year — is on its way so I guess I don't have to get depressed yet.

Anyway here is a marinade I whipped up for grilling some veggies this past weekend. I did summer squash and onions, and it was mighty tasty. The key is to marinate long enough.

Veggie Marinade

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 olive oil
1/2 cup diced tomato
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

Mix the marinade ingredients together. Place in a large plastic zip bag. Add whatever veggies you want to skewer on kabobs for the grill. Marinate at least one hour; the longer the better up to 24 hours. Skewer the veggies and toss the leftover marinade.

Chicken Marinade

3 T. honey
1 T. chili powder
2 cloves garlic, minced
pinch of cayenne
salt and pepper
1/2 c. olive oil

Whisk ingredients together. Add 6 to 8 drumsticks (depending on size). Let marinate in refrigerator for several hours before grilling. Yum!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Speedy Suppers

Janet here: It was a busy day at work, I had just finished driving nearly 2 hours to get home and I was beat. Since dinner was not going to miraculously appear on the table from the Cooking Fairy I often fantasize about on these kinds of days, I wanted something fast and easy. Time to rummage.

I found a zucchini, some pesto, pine nuts, grated Parmesan cheese and pasta. Fifteen minutes later we had a tasty nutritious dinner a thousand times better than the fast food I pondered picking up on my drive. What's your go-to rummage meal?

Zucchini Pasta
serves 4


1 large zucchini, cut in half and then cut into 1/4 inch slices
2-3 tablespoons pesto (depends on your level of taste)
3/4 pound of your favorite pasta or whatever is in your pantry
pine nuts--I love these so I erred on the side of a lot. It's up to you
freshly grated Parmesan cheese (obviously other cheeses would work too)


Cook the pasta to al dente. While it's cooking, stir fry the zucchini in a little olive oil with the pine nuts until just cooked. Take off the heat.

Drain the pasta. Throw in the pesto and toss. Add the zucchini and pine nut mixture. Add the cheese and voila! A little bread if you're lucky to have some on hand, maybe a salad and you're good to go.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Meatless Mondays: Stuffed Peppers

Rachel here: I made stuffed peppers for the first time last night and I will definitely be making them again. While I know they often have rice or bread crumbs, I went a lighter route and just stuffed mine with veggies, tofu and cheese. It made for a nice light summer dinner, though I can imagine making a different stuffing that feels cozy once the cold weather comes.

On a different note, I've been thinking a lot about what I put in my body since M is exclusively breastfed. Avoiding anything and everything with hormones/antibiotics/words-I-can't-pronounce feels essential in terms of giving M a healthy start (ok, I just reread that and it sounds a little ummm...zealous...*sigh*) and the easiest and most affordable way to do this seems to be to eat vegetarian and vegan meals. While we can definitely get good quality reliable meat around here, it doesn't come cheap. So anyway, while my focus on meatless cooking started with this column, I guess I'm here today to say it's grown and now dominates our weekly eating. I made this entire dinner using exclusively organic and local ingredients and spent less than ten dollars to do so. Now that's a meal that's good for the planet, the body and the wallet...pretty awesome.

3 red bell peppers, tops and seeds removed (*pick peppers that stand up!*)
1 portabello mushroom, diced
1/2 white onion, diced
2 sm. heirloom tomatoes, deseeded and diced
1 crookneck squash, diced
6 oz. extra-firm tofu, broken up
1 sprig rosemary, destemmed
salt and pepper
juice from half a lemon
1/3 c. feta cheese
mozzarella to top peppers

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Sautee mushroom, onion, tomato, squash and tofu with rosemary, salt and pepper and lemon juice. Mix in feta cheese and stuff peppers with this mixture. Top with mozzarella and bake until the cheese is bubbly and starting to brown. Enjoy!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Peach and Blueberry Kuchen

Janet here: When I was a child, peach kuchen was one of my favorite desserts. It was a happy night when I walked into the kitchen and smelled this, still slightly warm. This recipe is a variation on my mother's, which — sign of the times — called for canned peaches. Talk about sugar overkill! I can't imagine making this with anything other than fresh fruit. Depending on the season, you could use blueberries, raspberries, some combination of whatever berries you love, and maybe even apples.

Rachel here: Ok, so first of all, this stuff is seriously good. This is yet another recipe that I had never thought to get from my mother but, through blogging together, I now have (yes!). Anyway, after reading the recipe, I found myself wondering what exactly a kuchen is. What I discovered is that kuchen is simply German for cake and, as cake does, kuchen comes in a variety of forms. So anyway, there's a little German lesson for you. Regardless of the language you speak, though, this is a seriously delicious dessert.

Peach Kuchen

2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 baking powder
1/2 cup butter, cold
about 6 peaches, peeled and cut into wedges
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 egg yolks
1 cup heavy cream

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Mix together the flour, 2 tablespoons sugar, salt, baking powder. Cut in the butter and work it (I use my fingers; others will use a food processor with a paddle) until it resembles coarse crumbs.
Place it in a 8 X 8 X 2" pan. Pat against the sides and bottom.

Mix the fruit with the rest of the sugar and cinnamon. (I also decided to add a few blueberries from my neighbor; basically you can try any of your favorite fruits with this I would think.)
Place the fruit in the pan.

Bake for 15 minutes.
Beat the yolks and cream together. Pour over the fruit after the 15 minutes are over and bake for another 30 minutes. Let stand at least 10 minutes before serving.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Food for Thought Thursdays: Tomato Mush

Janet here:
Every family has its own language, expressions that we create for events or moments that we forget are unique to us until we utter them out in the world and receive completely blank, if not shocked, stares. (Certain bodily functions immediately come to mind, for instance.) So, too, do families have prized personal recipes and food moments. And in the Reynolds clan, tomato mush is high up on the list.

Tomato mush is basically tomatoes with mayo, salt and pepper. You just cut up the tomato and then add the rest. Chill it before serving and you're good to go.

I was first served tomato mush at my in-law's home one summer early in my relationship with Peter. If I hadn't already been completely smitten by Peter, this concoction might have sealed the deal. Why? Because the only thing better than a luscious, ripe tomato seasoned simply with a little salt is a luscious, ripe tomato with salt and mayonnaise ... and maybe a little white bread to sop up the juicy goodness. (Indeed, when I can't make tomato mush, a tomato and mayonnaise sandwich on white bread is a happy substitute.) His family's love of tomato mush — in particular the adoration by Peter's dad, Dick, who loves this almost as much as he loves herrings in cream sauce and who grew up eating this — clearly meant Peter and I were meant to be.

As a young mother, I figured tomato mush would be a hit if for no other reason than the name itself. What kid isn't going to want to try something called mush? Interestingly, S, the adventurous eater, is the one child who doesn't like tomato mush. He is not a fan of tomatoes, something I truly don't get, although I will continue to love him nonetheless.

For me, tomato mush remains a special harbinger of summer's full goodness, that moment when tomatoes are perfection right off the vine. They don't need one minute of ripening but instead can be enjoyed immediately and fully. Tomatoes like that always come at the beginning of summer's wane. Certain trees here are already tinged with hints of fall's colors to come, and with it, the cool weather and a return to fewer ripe food options. It makes the tomato's taste all the more bittersweet.

Rachel here: I was going to chime in with my own thoughts on tomato mush, but I think my mom's summed it up pretty well. Plus, I had forgotten that it comes from my dad's family and I like that she liked them all a little bit more for introducing her to this sort of deconstructed tomato sandwich (I prefer it with pumpernickel bread on the side).

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Pita Pizzas

Rachel here: The other night I made Pita Pizzas from the most recent issue of the Food Network magazine. In a miraculous twist of fate, M fell asleep while I was cooking. When this happened I started cooking as fast as I could and opted not to photograph any part of it in hopes of not only finishing cooking but also eating before she awoke. I lit candles in the dining room and poured glasses of wine before putting dinner on the table and calling John in to eat. Of course, M woke up 5 minutes after John and I sat down at the table, but for those 5 minutes John and I sat and not only ate together, but looked at each other and talked while we ate. When M awoke we took turns soothing her, determined to finish our dinner in just each other's company. Though I'm pretty sure we both liked the recipe (it was so simple and yummy with kalamata olives, arugula, tomatoes and grilled onions...click through here for photos and the recipe's details), the mini-date was hands down the best part.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

We Have a Winner!

We weren't sure what would happen with our first giveaway, but we are happy to report we were swamped with enthusiastic readers hoping to win the $60 gift certificate from CSN Stores, home to fab dinnerware and thousands of other goodies on their 200-plus websites.

Sadly, only one person can win. Our randomly-chosen winner is.....more drumrolls please....Kristen, who should be receiving the gift certificate notification from CSN Stores shortly. Happy shopping, Kristen, and thanks for reading! Thanks as well to CSN Stores for this fab giveaway. Hopefully we'll be able to do another one with them down the road. In the meantime, we've got another one in the works, so stay tuned for more on that and, of course, keep reading and cooking!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Meatless Mondays: Couscous and Tofu Salad

Rachel here: Quality and quantity are where it's at these days in our house. As we emerge from the shadows of new parenthood (ok, as we try to...), one of our focuses is on eating better. As I told my brother S in my bon voyage post to him as he prepared to leave for college, eating well--for me!--really facilitates taking care of myself in general. We also aim to be realistic, though, and know that there are definitely days in each week where either the energy to cook or the time (M reserves the right to demand to be held at any moment) might fail to manifest. This is where today's post comes in: a big, healthy salad that we ate for several days, thereby satisfying both the quality and the quantity requirements.

1/2 c. couscous (before cooking)
12 oz. extra firm tofu
1/4+ tspn. kosher salt
1 small lemon
olive oil
soy sauce
1 small white onion
1 ear corn
2/3 of a large carrot
1/2 large heirloom tomato

Crumble tofu and marinate in 1/4 tspn. kosher salt, the juice from the lemon, and a few dashes of soy sauce and olive oil. Saute until crisp and let cool. Chop the onion into large pieces and saute until browned and sweet. Cool. In a large bowl, combine the couscous, tofu, onion, corn, carrot (I shred mine) and chopped up tomato. Add salt and pepper as needed to adjust the flavor. When I served it I added avocado, but the salad is good without it. If you're going to serve it with avocado, don't add it until right before serving so that it doesn't brown. Enjoy!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Whoopee for Whoopie Pies

Janet here: I'm not sure why I never made whoopie pies when our kids were little. I mean it seems like a no-brainer for someone who likes to bake, has a bit of a cupcake fetish, and who was a major Ring Ding, Yodels kind of gal as a child. But I didn't. In fact I'm not sure I even knew they existed until fairly recently.

At any rate, I've had kind of a fixation about them ever since learning about them. I even went out and bought a whoopie pie baking tin, whose holes are decidedly thinner than traditional cupcake baking tins — this from the woman who doesn't own a food processor. Maybe it's a mid-life thing.

Anyway, I'm happy to report this version is very tasty, according to the dessert eaters in our house. I did not make the more common fluff filling because it just seemed weird and I've never been that big a marshmallow fluff fan (I do, however, love s'mores). So I made a cream cheese icing instead. Anyway, hope you enjoy them. I plan to be experimenting with a whole lot of different types — carrot cake with cream cheese filling seems particularly interesting at the moment. After all, I bought the tin; now I have to justify it.

Whoopie Pies

makes 12 pies

for the pies
2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 stick softened butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg

for the filling
3 cups confectioner's sugar
1/2 cup softened butter
8 ounces softened cream cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla


For the pies:
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix the butter, egg, vanilla and brown sugar in a mixing bowl with a beater (or whatever electric device you like to use). Add in the flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking soda. Beat until smooth. Add the buttermilk and beat until creamy. Don't overmix.

Fill each whoopie pie spot in the whoopie pan 2/3 full. These tins are thinner than cupcake cooking tins and help you automatically create the right size pie. I imagine you could use a cupcake tin too, but it would probably be harder to get the pies to be a uniform size and thickness. Bake for 11 minutes. Place on a tray to cool.

For the filling: Beat together all the ingredients and then spread between the cooled pies. Try to just eat one.

Rachel here: Ok, so we're still working our way through the dozens of mookies my mom made us when she came to visit after M was born. While I appreciate the bounty of sugary and chocolaty goodness that she left us with, I find myself looking at the mookies in my fridge and wondering why they're not whoopie pies. That tin will fit in your carry-on bag, right Ma? Because I'm feeling like it needs to accompany you out here on your next visit.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Food for Thought Thursdays: The Adventurous Eater Leaves Home

Rachel here: My brothers G and S are such satisfying siblings to me that--unlike most girls I know!--I have never wanted sisters, never even wondered about having them. Each of my brothers offers me incredible company in his own way and has shaped me immeasurably. This post, though, is about S in particular. It is for S and from me as he prepares to go off to college. Here goes...

I was going to write a memory about you, S, a food memory to pause in before you go forth into the next chapter of your life. There are too many to choose from, though (you've always been an adventurous eater). We have had countless meals together, relished myriad treats. Instead, I am going to offer you a little piece of food advice.

In my experience, how well I am taking care of myself in general is mirrored in how I'm eating. When I am conscious of what food I am putting into my body, when I am thoughtful about eating balanced, I find I become a more balanced person in the rest of my life. Eating poorly is really easy to do in college. The thing is, though, that so is eating well if you just choose to. G and I struggled with college during our respective first attempts and this struggle was evident in the ways we chose to sustain our bodies. I know you are intrigued by and in pursuit of a mindful existence and it seems to me that if you can remain aware of how you're eating, the rest will fall into place quite nicely for you. You have a phenomenal brain, S, and a body that is young and strong. Care for yourself physically and psychically you have no ceiling.

I cannot believe you are going off to college. What a lucky school! Though we haven't lived together for some time now, I still will miss you as you disappear from the surroundings I know you in, only to reappear in them with the scent of adventure and unknown spaces faint in your air. I am excited for you and know that the openness you've always had for food is a mere symptom of the openness you possess as a person. This openness is one of your greatest strengths, one I both admire and, at times, envy. So remember to eat your fruits and vegetables and know always that I love you with all of my heart.

Janet here: I had planned to add to this lovely post, but I think I will leave this as Rachel's note to her brother. I get kind of stuck at the part where S, our youngest and our last to leave, is going. XO

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Potato Salad, Take Two or Is It Three?

Janet here: Regular readers know that I have a thing for potato salad. I wrote of my love for it here, which started when I was a child and has basically continued ever since. Summer is just an excuse to eat a lot of potato salad (and ice cream, but not together of course) in my book.

Anyway, if you're looking for an alternative to the mayonnaise rendition, this one could be just what the doctor ordered. It's got a little zing, thanks to the mustard, and is ridiculously easy to make. I served it up with marinated grill shrimp and tomato mush (another fabulous Reynolds specialty coming your way soon so get excited).

Red Potato and Green Bean Salad

6 side servings.

3 pounds of red potatoes, halved
about 1/2 pound of green beans, de-tipped and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons dry vermouth
1 tablespoons white vinegar
1/2 red onion, diced
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2/3 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
salt and pepper to taste.

Cook the beans in a large saucepan of boiling water for about 4 minutes. Drain and stick in iced water to stop the cooking.
Halve the potatoes and cook in boiling water until just tender, about 12 minutes. Drain and transfer to a large bowl. Add the vermouth, toss and let sit for a few minutes. Whisk the vinegar, onion and mustard in a small bowl. then pour over the potatoes. Cool completely. Add the green beans and parsley. Season to taste. Can be served cold or at room temperature

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Our First Giveaway!

We are very excited to give our loyal readers this chance to win a $60 gift certificate from ... drumroll, please ... CSN Stores. The gift certificate is good for any of their 200-plus — that's right, 200-plus — websites. The stores offer everything from dinnerware to drinkware to anything you could dream of for baking and just cooking in general. Not interested in cooking items? Not to worry, CSN Stores offer items for the home as well as items for baby and kids, everything from suitcase to sofas.

Here are just a few of the many items we lusted after (We, of course, are not eligible to win.)

Polish Pottery Pitcher

Noritake Colorwave Lilac Dinner Collection

Here's how you can win. Just post a comment here. Yup, it's that easy. We will pick a winner next Tuesday, Aug. 17, and then, you'll get your certificate via email from CSN Stores. Only comments that are registered will be counted since we need that secret email to send you the happy news. So if you've been one of those anonymous commenters, this is the time to get with the plan and sign on! The winner will be chosen randomly and must live in the U.S. or Canada because that's where CSN Stores ship.

Thank you readers! And thank you CSN Stores for choosing Life Told in Recipes as a recipient of this gift certificate.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Meatless Mondays: Open-faced Eggplant Parmesan Sandwiches

Rachel here: I am obsessed with eggplant (I know-it's a picture of a tomato, not an eggplant, but more on that in a bit). Until recently, I counted it as a food I didn't particularly care for. Our dear friend N came to visit and help us out right after M was born, though, and she put eggplant in lasagnas that she made us. Ever since then I've had a hankering. While my mom hates the texture, that's precisely the thing that I'm so gaga for these days. Anyway, after making stir-fry the other night I found myself with half an eggplant leftover. What to do? Simple. Buy the prettiest heirloom tomato I could find, a delicious loaf of bread and make open-faced eggplant parmesan sandwiches for dinner.

I know, I know. There should be a picture of eggplant and a sandwich in this blog post somewhere. The photos I took, though, fall into the category of epic failure, so instead I'm keeping you hungry with pictures of tomatoes and bread (personally, they're two of my favorite things). This was a really simple and delicious dinner and I don't want to turn you off with unappetizing pictures.

loaf of your favorite bread (I bought a loaf of rustic whole wheat sourdough made by the local Acme bakery...so so good)
tomato (heirlooms just came into season here and I won't by a different kind of tomato until they go out)
parmesan cheese
olive oil
salt and pepper

Slice the eggplant in 1/2-inch slices. Rub with salt, pepper and olive oil. Grill. Place bread under broiler and toast (don't toast too much as you will be placing bread back under broiler later). On top of toasted bread, stack basil leaves, slices of tomato, and piece of grilled eggplant. Shred parmesan cheese generously over the top before placing sandwiches under the broiler. Broil until cheese is good and melted. Devour!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Simple Supper: Stir-fry

Rachel here: Stir-fry is such a great easy and healthy dinner. I had a really nice trip to the grocery store the other afternoon with M. She looked around and I told her about the different fruits and vegetables. In the process, I picked up fresh, local and seasonal vegetables to throw in a stir-fry for dinner. I think that that's my favorite thing about a stir-fry. Once I've decided that that's what I'm cooking, I can go to the grocery store completely open to whatever is freshest and from the closest farms and, in doing so, cook both a meal that is healthy for both my family and the planet. The following is what I cooked up for John and myself. We had a little bit of leftovers, so I'd say this meal will serve three.

1 large carrot, sliced
1 summer zucchini, halved and sliced
half a medium eggplant, cubed
half a bunch of kale, chopped
2-3 T. fresh ginger, minced
2 T. whole grain mustard
soy sauce
olive oil
kosher salt

Heat skillet with olive oil and add eggplant and zucchini. Once they start to soften, add the carrots, ginger, mustard and soy sauce to taste. When the carrots are nearly done add the kale and cook until it wilts. Add salt if needed for flavor and serve with rice or couscous. Yum!

Janet here: The wok I got from my childhood friend, Michele, for my first wedding is with me today, very seasoned and lovely after nearly 30 (!) years of use. I think it's the best way to go for stir fry. Something about the quick cooking is different than with a frying pan, so that's my two cents there. I will also add that I got out of wokking a bit when our children were younger just based on who didn't like what veggies (see post on feeding kids here) but now that we are going to be empty nesters very soon, I anticipate getting to know my wok again much more intimately, and I can't wait.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Food for Thought Thursdays: Feeding Kids, Part I

Janet here: Rachel's post this week on Books That Make Us Hungry got me thinking about our children and food. It's a big topic, as you can imagine, so I'm only going to tackle one little bit here in memoryland.

I went into feeding my children with a couple of food versions of Things I Would Never Do or Say to My Children — you know, those things you vow as a child/teenager you will NEVER do when you're a parent, about half of which you do within the first few years of your first child's life. Anyway, I lived in a house where you did not leave the table until your plate was clean. After all, there were children starving in India (or Africa or whatever other country your parent wanted to insert, which they all did, at least among my friends). I can remember a few memorable nights where I was left sitting alone at the kitchen table, ice cold fish lying on the plate and my mother checking in periodically to make sure I didn't try something clever like hiding it in my napkin. (Although my Golden Retriever, Sunshine, ate all of my Brussel sprouts for 15 years, even she would not eat this fish.)

Anyway I'm not sure if it was that particular night or maybe the night my mother served liver or the night she served this gelatinous glop called aspic, but I vowed, like Scartlett in Gone with the Wind that I would NEVER make my kids clean their plates. Instead I instituted the No Thank You portion, a spoonful or two of whatever heinous vegetable or entree I was trying to ruin my children's lives with. I felt strongly they should try new things but understood that not everyone liked everything.

I would say this approach was about 50 percent useful (and I'm sure Rachel will disabuse me of even that idea in her part below), but I think it was certainly better than the forced clean plate. So I guess this is one instance where I managed not to fail as a parent which, as all parents know, is basically the bar we're all trying not to fall below.

Rachel here: Ahhhh, yes. The No Thank You portion. How vividly I can picture the two string beans on G's plate. I can still hear the disgruntled mumbles coming from the chair next to mine. Not to blow my mom's mind or anything, but I think she was onto something with this theory. It seems to be a well-established fact that a lot of kids need an invitation of sorts to try new foods. For some kids I know, an actual invitation is all it takes; for most kids, though, bribery seems like a slightly better description. This is where the No Thank You portion succeeded. Foods that were resisted (and we each had/have our own unique dislikes) were presented as mere bites, as teeny bribes that guaranteed access to dessert (which, at least for me, was the point of the main course of dinner when I was growing up) or leaving the table (which was, I think, the point for G...S was hands-down the best eater amongst the three of us as kids). The roadblock on the plate almost always seemed surmountable (except when it was broccoli or cauliflower which, to this day, I can't stand) and, in turn, so did trying new foods.

As you may have noticed, I'm already giving a lot of thought to M and her foray into solid foods. The general theory I've come to subscribe to is that, as when breastfed, little kids (like little babies) know when they are and are not hungry. Because of this, forced eating is a disservice, a move which only succeeds in teaching our kids to override their natural (and correct) instincts about feeding themselves and thrusts them onto the very problematic food trajectory that much of our society is trapped in. The No Thank You Portion, though, both respects the appetite and autonomy of the eater while also nudging kids who'd prefer to judge with their eyes over their tongues out of their comfort zone for just a few bites. Had my mom not done this, G might never have tried watermelon...ever. And I might never have developed the gumption to re-approach broccoli and cauliflower as an adult (and thus never determined that I really do loath them)...and never had the satisfaction of informing my mother that I really don't like them.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

When You Have Lemons....

Janet here: It's hot, hot, hot again on the East Coast and the idea of turning on an oven is pretty much a non-starter for me. While I would like to believe everyone in my family would just eat this incredible blue cheese cole slaw for dinner (click here for recipe), in fact I do have to serve up something else. This lemon chicken, adapted from the Barefoot Contessa, is mighty tasty as well as being a good excuse to serve the cole slaw. It does require planning ahead a little bit — you have to marinate the chicken overnight — but then you can send someone else outside to grill the chicken while you stand by the fan and stay cool!

Grilled Lemon Chicken Salad
serves 4


1 pound grilled lemon chicken, sliced (see below)
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice (1 lemon)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cups of whatever raw veggies you like: snap peas, red and yellow peppers, carrots snow peas all work well
1/2 lemon thinly sliced
salt and pepper to taste

Lemon Chicken
2 lemons juiced
1/2 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon thyme
1 pound boneless chicken breasts

Marinate the chicken overnight. Then grill and chill it. Then mix it with the rest and chill some more. Serve over lettuce.

Rachel here: Lemon, chicken and salad with chicken are some of my absolute favorite things. It hasn't been feeling very summery here as of late, though, plus M's been sick (sickness never feels summery) so I'm filing this recipe to try once it feels a little more in sync with where we are. Summer really kicks in much later here and I know that once it does I'll be trolling through my mom's recent posts for ways to navigate the hot kitchen.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Books That Make Us Hungry: Toddler Meals by Shana Priwer and Cynthia Phillips

Rachel here: I love breastfeeding M, I really do. I know that when she and I stop doing this I will feel a sense of loss, of final physical disconnection from the baby who grew inside me for nearly 10 months. I'd be lying, though, if I said that I don't get excited about introducing our kid to solid foods. John and I love to eat and we love to cook and we both get pretty animated when we discuss sharing this with M someday in the not-so-distant future. We joke, too, that because we enjoy food so much M is nearly guaranteed to be finicky. This is where Toddler Meals by Shana Priwer and Cynthia Phillips will come in handy.

Priwer and Phillips offer up a mini-Bible when it comes to the initial transition to solid foods and the days that follow. With information ranging from appetite sizes to storage options, I know this is a book I'll be opening often in the next year. Besides that, their recipes actually sound like they taste good. There's a broad variety, too. Personally, I might not wait for M to stop breastfeeding before I try their recipes for whole milk yogurt and bagels. For those of you who've fed kiddies before out there, what are/were your tried and true recipes? I figure I should start stockpiling now...

Monday, August 2, 2010

Meatless Mondays: Our First Round-Up

Rachel here: Our response to the oil spill (which started-ugh!-over 100 days ago now) was to start featuring a meatless dish every Monday. The thing is, though, that we've been featuring meatless dishes all along. Many of our best, in fact, pre-date Meatless Mondays. Though we've never done this before, today we are offering you a list of ten of our favorite dishes we've offered so far. Bookmark this page and you'll be able to access a list of meatless dishes every Monday so you and yours can join us in doing our small part to show the planet that we love it. Just click on the dish to be linked to the recipe. What's your favorite meat-free meal?

1. Acorn Squash with Wild Mushroom Cranberry Stuffing
2. Butternut Squash Flatbread with Cheddar and Pine Nuts
3. Fig Bran Muffins
4. Clementine Coffee Cake Muffins with Almond Streusel
5. Fried Goat Cheese Medallions
6. Quick and Easy Quiche
7. Mushroom and Olive Pasta Sauce
8. Homemade Pasta
9. Potato Salad
10. Spring Bean Salad