Moroccan Meatloaf

My word for 2017 is “redesign.” Though this is hardly a new activity for me.  You may remember I wrote a “Reflection” devoted to how I’ve redesigned myself through several careers, picking up fantastic skills with each job, that my next employer has always benefited from.  I started changing careers back in the mid-90s before it was professionally acceptable. Consequently, through my years of interviewing, I’ve gotten a LOT of questions and criticism about switching jobs, and have even been labeled by a family member as “never satisfied.”  Sometimes my insecurities get the better of me, and I buy-in to those judgments. But on my best days, I don’t look at myself or my decisions through their lens. I prefer to think of myself as ever-evolving. Narrowing-in on what it is that makes my heart sing. My friend Cassie calls me “adventurous.” And I really like that version of my story! Curious. Willing. Open to trying something new, to see if it fits.

Earlier this year, I mentioned that I’m redesigning myself into a freelance grant writer.  I’ve fallen so in love with telling my stories here on, that I’m trying to make a “go” of telling more stories. Grant writing is all about story-telling … conveying the stories of nonprofit organizations to funders, to see if the missions of the nonprofits match the priorities of the funders. Grant writers are matchmakers, of sorts. Thus far, I like that aspect.  Trying to write a compelling story of why the funder ought to find the nonprofit attractive. And researching evidence to make the story even more intriguing.

It’s not without its struggles, though. Writing, and the creative process, has very high highs, and very low lows and the voices of my insecurities have been a bit louder these past few months than I’ve experienced in awhile. And nonprofit organizations don’t always have sustainable programs, which means that no matter how compelling the story, they aren’t always going to get funding.  Resulting in rejection, which can be a tough pill to swallow and has led me to question myself and my redesign.

And then along comes my friend Lynne, to encourage me to not to feel like I have to make a permanent decision. To approach grant writing and other professional endeavors with a sense of exploration, to see what they’re like and to see if I enjoy them.   Come to think of it, she, too, uses the word “adventure.”  And so does my friend Stacey, and my friends Rachel, Gloria and Erika.

I was reflecting on all of this as I cooked for our little family this week. Redesigning. Adventure. Exploring and trying something to see if it will work. And I’m pleased to report the results below with my recipe for Moroccan Meatloaf. I’m MORE pleased to be able to publicly thank my friends for their support. And validation. Bless the validation and encouragement of friends!  (To bring you a giggle, read this article about friends and validation.)

But back to cooking and recipes … If you haven’t tried it yet, wait no longer and make a batch of Smitten Kitchen‘s Carrot Salad with Harissa, Feta and Mint. It is DELICIOUS and you will want to eat the entire batch:

I made it for our Veggie Snacks one week, and Mr. Batch and I liked it so much, that I redesigned it a bit, and incorporated it into this recipe:

Moroccan Meatloaf — a redesign of Smitten Kitchen‘s Carrot Salad with Harissa, Feta and Mint

Serves 5

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 3/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds

Heat olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat and add garlic and spices. Stir frequently and cook for about 3 minutes, until you begin to smell the seeds and spice toasting. Give thanks for your nose and sense of smell. 🙂

  • 3/4 teaspoon harissa (I bought mine at Trader Joe’s)
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice

Add harissa and lemon juice to pan, and stir to combine. Cook for about 1 minute more on low heat, stirring frequently.

  • 1/2 pound carrots, peeled and grated on a box grater (or in a food processor)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Add to saute pan, stir to combine, and cook on low for about 5 minutes, stirring periodically. You want the carrots to expel their natural water content, so as not to make the meatloaf “water-y” as it cooks.

Allow cooked carrot-mixture to cool.

  • 2 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh mint, finely chopped
  • 3 green onions, sliced
  • One 6-oz. container of crumbled feta
  • 1 pound of ground beef (or ground lamb, or a combination of the two)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • several grind of freshly cracked pepper

Combine these ingredients in a large bowl, and add cooked carrot-mixture. Shape into a meatloaf and bake at 350-F for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, cut into meatloaf to make sure it is cooked throughout.

I ate this with boiled potatoes, roasted baby zucchini, roasted onions and steamed broccolini.  I kept 2 portions of the meatloaf refrigerated, and then froze the other 3 portions to thaw as I was ready for them:


To keep the dish vegetarian, you don’t need to cook the carrots, but you certainly could. I cooked 1/2 cup of dry quinoa and 3/4 cup brown rice, separately. Then combined the cooked grains, and added the rest of the ingredients above (minus the meat, of course) and got five very generous 1-cup portions for Mr. Batch’s lunches this week:


If you leave the feta out of each version, they become #dairy-free, and the meatloaf becomes #paleo.

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Carrot Ginger Soup

I once read a book called “Oh, Fudge!” by Lee Edwards Benning — an entertaining history of the old-fashioned favorite, complete with 18 master recipes AND an entire chapter devoted to “Fudge Failures and How to Remedy Them.” This chapter *even* includes recipes to incorporate your failed fudges, if they are unfixable … shall we pause for moment to bless Lee Edwards Benning’s heart?!?  She starts the chapter with this quote from John Keats:

“Don’t be discouraged by failure. It can be a positive experience. Failure is, in a sense, the highway to success, inasmuch as every discovery of what is false leads us to seek earnestly after what is true, and every fresh experience points out some form of error which we shall afterwards carefully avoid.”

Benning muses about failures: “On the one hand, failure need not mean flop. Instead, we may just end up with something other than what we expected.”

I had opportunity to employ this mindset on Super Bowl Sunday just recently. Headed to a party later that evening, I tried a new recipe for almond “thumbprint” cookies that I filled with some homemade sour cherry preserves I canned last summer, using cherries I picked with the Lovely Lisa.  I was shocked when I opened the oven to find the cookies had s-p-r-e-a-d like this:

(Note to self – more careful evaluation might be needed on the *best* times to try a new recipe!)

The cookies were *delicious* … just visually unappealing. I’ll salvage the recipe and adapt it to make chewy almond drop cookies, sans fruit filling — stay tuned. For the party that evening, I took a page from the “Oh, Fudge!” book and chopped up the cookies and folded them into softened, store-bought vanilla ice cream, that I served with a couple of extra spoons full of sour cherry preserves. I meant to make Almond Macaroon Ice Cream with Sour Cherries, dontchaknow!

This seems to be a recurring theme in my life these days. My endeavors frequently lead me to places I wasn’t expecting. I’m challenged to “go with the flow” almost daily, which doesn’t come naturally to the planner in me.  But I’m finding that if I pause for a few minutes / hours / days, that the outcomes aren’t bad … in fact, they are often good … just not what I expected. Here’s to making lemonade from lemons!

And a recipe for Carrot Ginger Soup, that could be vegan or Paleo, depending on the broth used.  This recipe is quite heavily inspired by John Ash’s “Carrot,  Orange, and Ginger Soup” from his book “Cooking One on One.”

I added celery for more fiber, and removed the aromatic spices. I also removed the exact measurements. I’m a fan of using a whole item such as a whole onion (versus 1 cup of onions). You’ll find that my recipes aren’t exact (unless they’re for baked goods) because they don’t rely on the chemistry of ingredient-interactions. Want the soup to be less onion-y? Add only half an onion … the soup will still be edible. Don’t want to add the celery?  By all means, leave it out … but adjust the amount of broth if you want to keep this a thick, pureed soup. I hope you’ll have fun with my recipes and others, and make them your own!

Carrot Ginger Soup

Yield: 8 servings — make a big batch, then freeze anything beyond what you would eat in 3 days — this freezes and thaws beautifully.

  • 1-1/2 pounds carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 bunch of celery hearts, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped

*Note that I don’t specify exact sizes. Chop these into as similar a size as you can, for even cooking. This soup ultimately gets pureed, so pretty shapes and exact precision aren’t required – yay!

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil (or ghee or coconut oil … whatever oil you prefer)
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Heat the oil over medium-low heat in a deep pot and add the onions, carrots and celery. Sprinkle salt over vegetables and cook for about 5 minutes. The salt will draw-out the natural water content of the vegetables so that they “sweat.” Stir occasionally and continue cooking on medium-low for another 5-10 minutes, until vegetables look translucent.

While those vegetables are “sweating,” prep the following:

  • Minced zest & juice of 1 orange
  • 2 – 3″ piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

Add ingredients to vegetables in pot and stir to combine. Cook for about 3 minutes on medium-low, stirring frequently. These ingredients cook quickly and you don’t want them to scorch.

Start by adding 6 cups of broth to the vegetables and raise the heat to simmer. Cook for about 10 minutes and then puree. I puree the soup using an immersion blender, but you could also transfer the soup to a standing blender or food processor. Taste and adjust seasoning, and add more broth if you want to thin the consistency. I ended up adding all 8 cups, and mine is fairly thick:

Serving Suggestions: This soup has a ZING because of the ginger and garlic!  I like having this with pork chops and broccolini for a Paleo meal. Mr. Batch ate his with Autumnal Salad of mixed grains and broccolini. Great soup for Winter, but could be served chilled with a swirl of sour-cream-thinned-with-buttermilk in the Summer!

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Veggie Burgers with Farro, Mushrooms & Cheese

I don’t know about you, but I could use a laugh or two!  It’s grey here in Rochester, and the news is full of contention. I’ve been wanting to share some funny tales for awhile, but none of them are long enough to turn into stories. So I thought I would bring some cheer to you all, with little snippets of humor and fun. Hope they bring a grin to your face and sunshine to your day:

Before Mr. Batch got his current job, he was doing a lot of traveling while interviewing. He would text his final goodbyes from the airport gates as the airlines boarded his planes. “They’re starting to board,” he would write. “Elite members … first class … business class.”  Then he would continue, “Stupendous class … better-than-most class… I’m waiting for them to board my group: peasant class.” Years later, from a different airline that boarded by precious metal categories, he joked that, “We’re pewter class!”

Mr. Batch and I were eating lunch one day. As we were cleaning up the table, Mr. Batch picked up my can of soda — mistaking it to be empty, when it was still 1/2-full.  In surprise, he dropped the can and some of the tasty beverage poured out.
Mr. Batch: “Wow!  I’m so sorry!  THAT was a misjudgment of mass and momentum!”
Me: “Wow!  One of us obviously has a Ph.D. and the other one would’ve just said, ‘Sorry, I spilled!'”

When Mr. Batch and I started dating, I wrote an email to my family to tell them about him and the dates he had taken me on. I wrote, “Mostly we spend time biking around San Francisco, which is tons of fun. We also went hiking recently on Mt. Tamalpais and then, after sunset that evening, attended an astronomy lecture in an outdoor amphitheater under the stars led by a UC-Berkeley instructor.” To which my brother replied, “Oh man, I wanna do that stuff! If it doesn’t work out with you two, can I have his phone number?”

I was complaining to my friend Max that I had put-on weight after Mr. Batch and I started dating, to which Max replied, “Well, when you catch the bus, you stop running!”

This next one isn’t so much funny, as it is insightful. This same friend Max and I worked together for a short time. He would encourage me to take a break for lunch, which is not in my nature. He told a story: “There are two wood-cutters — one who chops more wood than the other. Do you know why?  Because he *stops* to sharpen his axe!”

Some “butcherings” of words throughout the years, that have made their way into my family’s vernacular: “Balsmatic” vinegar (instead of balsamic), as requested of me when I used to wait tables. “Dilapidated” woodpeckers (instead of pileated) and “Sasquatch” camellias (instead of sasanquas). Used in a sentence such as, “Hey Mom, is that one of those dilapidated woodpeckers in the tree near the Sasquatch camellia bush?”

A few years ago, Mr. Batch and I stopped to ask directions. As we started to follow the directions, I murmured, “OK … they told us to turn left here, and then …” To which I heard Mr. Batch reply, “I have to admit, ever since we started dating, I’ve stopped listening to instructions!”

And one last one to bring you a dash of joy: When Mr. Batch and I got engaged, we hired an artist to draw caricatures of us to use on our wedding invitations. On her first draft, the artist captured me perfectly, but we decided that Mr. Batch looked more like a mariachi band member than himself. The next morning when the alarm went off, Mr. Batch greeted me with “Ola, Señorita!” I replied, “You amaze me! How do you go from unconscious sleeping … to awake and instantly funny?!?!”

I hope this recipe for Veggie Burgers with Farro, Mushrooms & Cheese also brings you joy!  These are heavily inspired by the New York Times Cooking recipe for Farro with Mushrooms. Modified slightly, and then adapted to make into veggie burger patties:

Yield: 12 veggie burgers

  • 24-oz package of mushrooms (I used “baby bellas” — baby portobellos — but you could use crimini or white button … or a mixture)

Wash the mushrooms thoroughly, and remove the stems and set the stems aside. Slice the mushrooms and set aside to dry.

  • Reserved mushroom stems from above
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 or 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 or 2 ribs of celery, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 cups of water
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • several grinds of freshly cracked pepper

Combine ingredients in sauce pot and bring to a boil, and then down to a simmer. Simmer on low for 30 minutes, then taste, adjust seasoning, and strain.  **Alternatively, use store-bought vegetable stock. Or make, using veggie scraps from your bag of “ends-n-nubs” you are storing in the freezer from previous cooking sessions.

  • 2 cups of farro

While the vegetable stock is cooking, put farro in a bowl and pour enough hot water over the farro to cover by an inch. Set aside.

  • 3/4 cup dried mushrooms, rinsed
  • 2 cups boiling water

Place the dried mushrooms in a large Pyrex measuring cup or bowl, and pour in boiling water. Allow to sit for 30 minutes.

Clockwise from upper left corner: farro soaking; homemade vegetable stock using mushroom stems; dried mushrooms reconstituting in boiling water; “baby bella” mushrooms, to be sliced.

Drain the reconstituted dried mushrooms through a strainer set over a bowl and lined with a coffee filter, to catch the mushroom-flavored liquid without letting any grit/dirt pass through. Squeeze the mushrooms over the strainer, then add the mushroom-flavored liquid to the reserved vegetable stock from above. You should have 6 cups, total (add water if necessary). Place in a saucepan, and bring to a simmer. Season with salt to taste.

Rinse the  reconstituted dried mushrooms in several changes of water to remove any additional grit. Chop coarsely and set aside.

  • tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 finely chopped onion
  • sliced mushrooms from above
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

Heat the oil over medium heat in a large, heavy nonstick skillet. Add the onion. Cook, stirring, until it begins to soften, about three minutes. Add the fresh mushrooms. Cook, stirring, until they begin to soften and sweat. Add salt and pepper, to taste, the garlic and rosemary. Continue to cook, stirring often, until the mushrooms are tender, about five minutes.

  • Strained farro from above
  • Reconstituted dried mushrooms from above

Add the farro and reconstituted dried mushrooms to the mushroom mixture. Cook, stirring, until the grains of farro are separate and beginning to crackle, about two minutes.

  • 3/4 cup dry white wine

Stir in the wine and cook, stirring until the wine has been absorbed. Add all but about 1 cup of the vegetable-mushroom stock from above, and bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer 50 minutes or until the farro is tender; some of the grains will be beginning to splay. Remove the lid, and stir vigorously from time to time. Taste and adjust seasoning. There should be some liquid remaining in the pot but not too much. If the farro is submerged in stock, raise the heat and cook until there is just enough to moisten the grains, like a sauce.

*For a vegan side dish or main course, you could stop here.

Allow mixture to cool.  Once cool, stir-in:

  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Asiago cheese
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour (though we’re trying to avoid gluten, farro has gluten, so I chose all-purpose flour versus coconut flour for this recipe)

Using wet hands, shape into patties and place on parchment-lined sheet pan. Bake at 350-degrees F for 30 minutes, rotating pan 180-degrees after 15 minutes, for even cooking in case your oven has hot spots.

These patties have a chewy texture, because cooked faro is almost “spongey” in texture, plus the added cheese. Freezing them and then thawing them made them a tad bit chewier, just FYI.

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Chipotle Restaurant at home

One of many reasons I adore Mr. Batch is that he pushes himself to learn new things, and shares with me some of the things he learns. He has recently started watching  The School of Life videos which are “… devoted to developing emotional intelligence through the help of culture.” One of my favorites is called The Weakness of Strength and it’s a 4-minute video that I think you’ll enjoy watching.

The theory of The Weakness of Strength “dictates that we should strive to see people’s weaknesses as the inevitable downside to certain merits that first drew us to them. What we’re seeing are not people’s faults, but the ‘shadow-side’ of things that are genuinely good about them.”

You’ve probably guessed that this is the topic of today’s blog because I have been experiencing MY weakness of strength this week. My years of being a chef developed my skills in planning, which were further honed in my years as a tradeshow coordinator, conference planner, and then as an Executive Assistant. I thrive in a proactive role, forecasting what is needed, and anticipating things that might go wrong and planning accordingly. My weakness is in reacting — especially to anything I didn’t anticipate.

Incidentally, Mr. Batch accidentally (and innocently!) disrupts my plans so frequently, that he now suggests, “Just call me Monkey Wrech!”

As I mentioned a few weeks back, I am redesigning myself into a freelance grant writer, to leverage my love of writing and story-telling into helping non-profit organizations tell their stories to funding agencies.  I have been reading library books and skads of materials  online — all in preparation for a 3-week grant-writing class that was supposed to start on Monday. The instructor asked that we have proposals to work on, with her looking over our shoulders, so that at the conclusion we would have fairly good drafts ready to submit.  So I dutifully lined-up 5 organizations I am doing pro bono work for.

And THE CLASS GOT CANCELED. 🙁  🙁  🙁   Too few people registered! I found out when I showed up for the first session!  Somehow I fell through the cracks with their notification!

As I stood at the registration desk, eyes wide and mouth agape, I felt my lungs constrict with anxiety. My plans were unraveling.  I had really looked forward to having a *guide* … and to being spoon-fed the “how to.”  Not so much the how to write.  But the “how to” find funders!  And approach them.

On the drive home to Mr. Batch, to have a pity-party and boo hoo hoo on his shoulder of my plans gone amuck, I was reminded of an inspirational quote I’ve seen — that when your plans get wrecked, it might be because your plans were going to wreck you!  I’ve been around the sun enough times to know that sometimes when you’re lucky, there’s a silver lining.

I haven’t found that silver lining yet, but in the era of Google and You Tube, I AM making progress. Lots of comfort food eating … and lamas breathing … and sleeves pushed up … and sleuthing cap on, to try to figure all of this out on my own. Join me, won’t you, in sending a wish out to the grant-writing gods to watch over me?  🙂

Speaking of comfort food, we REALLY miss the amazing tacquerias of San Francisco. What we would give for some of those fish tacos, burritos, chips & salsa! In the absence of finding “our” place here in ROC City, we stop periodically at Chipotle®. To save a few pesos and be able to eat this comforting goodness in quantity, I made our favorites at home — Sofritas (below) and Carnitas (scroll to bottom):

Sofritas — heavily inspired by Yup It’s Vegan‘s Copycat Chipotle Sofritas

Yield: 8 servings

  • Two 16 oz. packages of firm tofu (the original recipe called for extra-firm, which is what I used, but it doesn’t shred easily. So I recommend just firm tofu — but not silken.)

Cut tofu into thick slabs and press between clean cloth towels, to squeeze-out excess moisture. Brush each side with olive or grape seed oil and bake on parchment-lined sheet pans at 375 degrees F for 30 minutes, flipping the slices half-way through.  Once cool, chop into small pieces.

  • 2 poblano peppers

Simultaneously, roast poblano peppers in a baking pan while tofu slices bake.

  • 2-1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns

While tofu is baking and poblano peppers are roasting, in a dry heavy-bottomed pot, toast the cumin, coriander and peppercorns. Stir constantly for about 5 minutes and remove from pan once fragrant.  Add to spice grinder or mortar & pestle and grind.

  • 1 Tablespoon oregano

Add to cumin-coriander-peppercorn mixture and grind. Set aside ground spice-mixture.

  • 1 large onion, small-diced
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon olive or grape seed oil

Heat olive oil in same heavy-bottomed pot you toasted spices in, and sauté onion and garlic with salt on medium-low heat, stirring periodically.

  • 4 Tablespoons canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons additional sauce from can
  • 2 roasted poblano peppers from above, skinned and de-seeded
  • 3 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 Tablespoons coconut aminos (or soy sauce, if you are not avoiding gluten)
  • 2 Tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 cup filtered water or vegetable stock
  • Ground cumin-coriander-peppercorn-oregano spice-mixture from above

Add to sauteed onion-garlic mixture and stir to combine. Simmer for 10 minutes. Puree with immersion blender or in food-processor or blender.  Taste and adjust salt and other seasonings as you like, including adding more water/veg stock and tomato paste to make it saucy like Chipotle’s®.

Add pureed sauce back to pot and add chopped tofu. Allow to gently simmer on low another 10-15 minutes.

I made a batch of white rice and added chopped cilantro & olive oil to it, to try to truly emulate the Chipotle® experience. I served the Sofritas with cilantro rice, Guacamole and steamed broccolini.

***I kept four servings of the Sofritas in the refrigerator, and froze the rest in individual servings. Because this is meant to be saucy and shredded, the thawed Sofritas is OK … not too spongey from being frozen.***

Carnitas  — this is taken entirely from David Lebovitz’s Carnitas

Yield: 8 servings

The only thing I changed was not to do Step 9. For my taste, I would not add an entire cinnamon stick in the future — perhaps just 1/4 of a cinnamon stick for me.

  • 4-5 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 5-inch chunks, trimmed of excess fat
  • 1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons canola or neutral vegetable oil
  • water
  • 1  cinnamon stick
  • 1 teaspoon chile powder
  • 1 teaspoon ancho chile powder
  • 2  bay leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and thinly-sliced
1. Rub the pieces of pork shoulder all over with salt. Refrigerate for 1 to 3 days. (You can skip this step if you want. Just be sure to salt the pork before searing the meat in the next step.)
2. Heat the oil in a roasting pan set on the stovetop. Cook the pieces of pork shoulder in a single layer until very well-browned, turning them as little as possible so they get nice and dark before flipping them around. If your cooking vessel is too small to cook them in a single-layer, cook them in two batches.
3. Once all the pork is browned, remove them from the pot and blot away any excess fat with a paper towel, then pour in about a cup of water, scraping the bottom of the pan with a flat-edged utensil to release all the tasty brown bits.
4. Heat the oven to 350F (180C) degrees.
5. Add the pork back to the pan and add enough water so the pork pieces are 2/3rd’s submerged in liquid. Add the cinnamon stick and stir in the chile powders, bay leaves, cumin and garlic.
7. Braise in the oven uncovered for 3½ hours, turning the pork a few times during cooking, until much of the liquid is evaporated and the pork is falling apart. Remove the pan from the oven and lift the pork pieces out of the liquid and set them on a platter.
8. Once the pork pieces are cool enough to handle, shred them into bite-sized pieces, about 2-inches (7 cm), discarding any obvious big chunks of fat if you wish.
9. Return the pork pieces back to the roasting pan and cook in the oven, turning occasionally, until the liquid has evaporated and the pork is crispy and caramelized. It will depend on how much liquid the pork gave off, and how crackly you want them.

I served this, like I do the Nom Nom Paleo Kalua Pig — with slices of avocado, Roasted Sweet Potatoes and steamed borccolini. I kept three servings in the refrigerator, and froze the rest of the carnitas in individual portions:


As the tagline says: Make a lot!  Freeze some! Now go play!  This week, I volunteered with an organization called Loop Ministries, to help provide a meal and a bag of groceries for 60 people in need of emergency food. Loop collaborates with people with disabilities and cerebral palsy to set-up the tables, make the centerpieces, and serve the food. Their motto is “Renew. Restore.Rebuild.”  Wonderfully empowering for all involved:

And Mr. Batch and I went out with our close friends Lynne and Allen to celebrate all of the Winter birthdays in our little group. We tried a new-to-us restaurant called Atlas Eats that was featuring a prix fixe Turkish menu. Oh, my!  ROC City peeps, if you haven’t tried it yet, GO!  Hover over the images to reveal the captions.

Like what you’re reading?  Never miss a post!  Scroll up and to the right, and you’ll find a “Subscribe to Blog Via Email” box where you can enter your email, and you’ll get an email-notice to approve your subscription. Let’s get that number up to 100 regular readers! 

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Italian Veggie Burgers with White Beans and Pesto

“There are, it seems, two Muses: the Muse of Inspiration, who gives us inarticulate visions and desires, and the Muse of Realization, who returns again and again to say, “It is yet more difficult than you thought.”  This is the muse of form. It may be, then, that form serves us best when it works as an obstruction to baffle us and deflect our intended course. It may be that when we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work; and that when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey. The mind that is not baffled is not employed. The impeded stream is the one that sings.”  — Wendell Berry

Mr. Batch and I have been talking a lot about what we want for this new year 2017 —  what we think our real work is, and what makes our hearts sing. At the core is the intent to be kind. To heal things. To inspire with optimism. To rebel against meanness.  And most of all, to LOVE.

“Amor vincit omnia.”

Translated from Italian: “Love conquers all.”

Sending love out to you all!  And sending up my wish that we are all able to keep this phrase in our hearts today and in the coming days!


Italian Veggie Burgers with White Beans and Pesto

Yield: 9 burgers

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

  • Cook 1 cup of quinoa (Cook according to package directions. I brought 2 cups of salted water to a boil, added 1 cup of thoroughly rinsed quinoa, and simmered, covered, for 12 minutes. I tasted it to make sure it was tender, then drained any excess water. Then allowed it to sit, covered, for 5 minutes. Then fluffed with a fork.)
  • 2 cans of white beans, drained & rinsed
  • 3 hearty Tablespoons of pesto (Mine was homemade last summer and frozen. I did not add any cheese before freezing.)
  • Optional: 1/2 cup shredded Asiago or Parmesan cheese

Stir all ingredients above together in a large bowl.

Remove 1/3 of mixture and puree in a cuisinart/food processor.  Add pureed portion back to large bowl and stir to combine.

*Taste the mixture at this point to see if you would like to add more pesto, cheese or salt. 

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup coconut flour (I use this to avoid gluten. If you are not avoiding gluten, you could use all-purpose flour. Perhaps try increasing the quantity to 1/2 cup — coconut flour is quite fibrous and absorbs a lot of moisture)

Add to the ingredients in the large bowl and stir to combine.

Shape into patties, and place on a parchment (or foil) lined baking sheet.  Tip: Wet hands will help with forming the patties.

Bake at 350F for 30 minutes, rotating pan 180-degrees after 15 minutes (for even-cooking in case there are hot spots in your oven).

I kept 5 of these in the refrigerator and froze the rest, for use another week.

I served these over a bed of vegetables that I roasted with olive oil and Italian herb mix (zucchini, yellow onion, mushrooms and cherry tomatoes). For even more fiber & nutrition, I steamed some brussels sprouts and added them to the mixture of veggies.

As the tagline says: Make a lot. Freeze some. Now go play!

Keeping in the spirit of delicious Italian foods, I made a tiramisu-inspired cake to celebrate Mr. Batch’s birthday!  The two recipes that I consulted are this one to make the cake, and this one to make the filling and frosting.  We loved indulging in some sugar-y, gluten-y goodness!

We enjoyed an Ethiopian dinner out at a new-to-us restaurant: Addis Ababa

And I got to see a friend of mine from my culinary school days, when she and her son came to look at R.I.T.  How do my friends have children old enough to go to college?!?!?  🙂  We had a lovely Cambodian lunch at The Soup Spoon:

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Brown Rice Chickpea Veggie Burgers with Lemon and Tahini

As you make your meal plans for the week ahead and assemble your grocery lists, I thought I’d send out my most recent recipe for homemade veggie burgers — these are Brown Rice Chickpea Veggie Burgers with Lemon and Tahini.  As a tip of the hat to a favorite dish we enjoyed while at MOMA in NYC over the holidays, I served them over a simple salad of wild rice and edamame, dressed with lemon and tahini.  Both recipes are below. It’s been gratifying to make so many different veggie burgers for Mr. Batch.  Much cheaper than store-bought, easy to assemble, and a “lighter” feeling, knowing exactly what is included … and what is not.

This week while I prepped our foods in big batches … and made a lot … then frozen some … and then went out and played … I listened to a TED Radio Hour podcast titled “Believers and Doubters” which offered perspectives on belief from all ends of the spectrum, from atheists to the devout. Julia Sweeney (for all of us mid-lifers this is “Pat” from SNL!) offered a captivating story of her personal evolution.  I was particularly struck by the last contributor, Devdutt Pattanaik, who proposed that when we consider nature, we see that there are predator animals who are constantly looking for food and are restless and frightened — they represent Hunger.  And there are prey animals, who seek protection and security from being eaten — they represent Fear. And humans come along and try to imagine a world without Hunger and Fear, which they call Heaven. As opposed to a world of nothing but abject Hunger and Fear, which would be Hell.  We take steps toward Heaven and try to avoid Hell. I liked the imagery and rationale.  The show concluded with Fat Boy Slim’s song “Praise.”  I sang along with the lyrics:

We’ve come a long, long way together. Through the hard times and the good. I have to celebrate you baby … I have to praise you like I should.

In a couple of hours, I’ll go volunteer at the Rochester Public Market in their Market Token Program for SNAP Benefit Recipients. It’s one way I can help try to create a world without Hunger and Fear for a handful of lives here in Rochester. There’s a buzz I am getting from volunteering, as I hope to help increase a communal sense of security. Sharing. Together. Through the hard times and the good.

And so I share with you all my Brown Rice Chickpea Veggie Burgers with Lemon and Tahini:

Yield: 9 patties

  • Make 1 cup of brown rice, according to package directions. I used brown basmati rice, so I rinsed the rice and cooked it in 2 cups of Brita-filtered water + 1/2 teaspoon of salt for 40 minutes. Then drained andy excess water, and covered the pot to allow the cooked rice to sit for 5 minutes. I then fluffed with a fork and spread the rice in a large mixing bowl to cool.
  • 2 cans of chickpeas (garbanzo beans)

Drain, rinse and add to rice. Stir to combine.

  • 1/3 cup tahini
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice (or juice of 1 large lemon)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs

Add to brown rice-chickpea mixture and stir to combine.

  • 1/3 cup coconut flour (I get this at Trader Joe’s and use this because Mr. Batch and I are trying to avoid gluten. If you try this with other binding flours, please let me know your results. Coconut flour is particularly high in fiber, so if you use alternates, you may need to add 1/2 cup)

Add to brown rice-chickpea mixture and stir to combine.  Form into patties and place on parchment (or foil) lined baking sheet. Tip: Wet hands will ease the formation of the patties.

Bake at 350 F for 30 minutes, rotating pan 180-degrees, halfway through (to allow for even cooking, in case your oven has hot spots).

I kept five patties refrigerated, then froze the other four to use another week.

Lemon Tahini Dressing

Yield: 9 servings (approx 1-1/2 teaspoon-size servings)

  • 2 Tablespoons tahini
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice ( or juice of 1 large lemon)
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • several grinds of freshly cracked black pepper

Whisk ingredients together in bowl.


I served the patties over a simple salad of wild rice and edamame, dressed with lemon and tahini, with steamed brussels sprouts and broccolini:

As the tagline says, Make a lot. Freeze some. Now go play!  Mr. Batch and I are *finally* starting to feel better after this 3-week cold we caught when we were in NYC. So we took a snowy walk up to nearby Lamberton Conservatory in Highland Park, to see their holiday display:

And one morning, we treated ourselves to breakfast out at Jim’s on Main … and indulged in some gluten-filled-goodness with a breakfast sandwich and buckwheat pancakes. Delicious and a fun time, sitting at the counter and watching all of the orders being created:

Like what you’re reading?  Please subscribe to the blog, using the email sign-up in the upper right side of this page.  Let’s see if we can get that number to 100! 🙂 

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Bone Broth; Roasted Sweet Potatoes; “Frittata;” Quinoa-Lentil Veggie Burgers; Guacamole; Freezer Clean-Out of Leftover Proteins with Potatoes and Veggies; Baked Wild Haddock with Ginger-Lemon Sauce; Sunshine Cake

This week’s cooking included batches of:

I started by making a batch of Bone Broth, using beef bones from McDonald Farm. Each week, in the freezer in a big Ziploc bag, I save what I call “ends-n-nubs,” as pictured below and to the right — that is, mushroom stems, the ends of carrots and onions, parsley stems, etc. I use the “ends-n-nubs” in batches of Bone Broth or Veggie Broth:

While that simmered away, I started a batch of quinoa for Quinoa-Lentil Veggie Burgers, and also boiled some fingerling potatoes on the stovetop. And then loaded up the oven with Roasted Sweet Potatoes, and roasted zucchini and roasted cauliflower, both of which I tossed only with olive oil, salt & pepper:

As those cooked, I cut some brussels sprouts off the stem and simmered those in the same water I cooked the fingerling potatoes in. And I gathered the ingredients for and started cooking the lentils for Quinoa-Lentil Veggie Burgers:

To read more, press the “Continue Reading” button below and to the right:

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Asian Pesto to add to Soup, Two Ways; Paleo Korma; Vegan Dhal; Apple Butterscotch Blondies

I absolutely LOVED eating so much delicious food in San Francisco and Portland as I mentioned in my last post … and I absolutely LOVED getting back into the kitchen again this past Sunday!  This week’s cooking included batches of:

(not pictured) I began my cooking session by slicing a block of Trader Joe’s Extra Firm Tofu into thick slabs, and freezing it for a batch of Crispy Baked Tofu.

Next on my list: using my big ol’ wok to cook some vegetables. I started by cooking a batch of broccolini and then rinsed the pan to use again to sauté some sliced baby portobello mushrooms, followed by sautéing some onions. When I was finished sautéing the mushrooms and onions, I added some Asian Pesto (pictured in the upper right corner of the photo with the whole ‘shrooms, below):

I thawed the frozen tofu slices and squeezed excess water from them. I brushed them with sesame oil and sprinkled salt and freshly ground black pepper on both sides, and popped them in the oven to roast, using the method in my recipe for Crispy Baked Tofu:

Frozen-then-thawed tofu slices, squeezing out excess water to make Crispy Baked Tofu

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Vegetarian “Quesadiendas” and Tomato Soup for Mr. Batch while I vacationed in San Francisco and Portland, OR!

Apologies for the delay!  Since I last posted, I have been lucky enough to have a vacation in San Francisco and Portland, OR — fantastic cities where I used to live. In the “Now go play!” section below, I’ll post images of tasty food & beverages and good times catching up with friends in both cities.

Prior to leaving, I prepped some of Mr. Batch’s favorites, that would also be easy for him to defrost and reheat for himself while I traveled. This week’s cooking included:

Mr. Batch named my quesadillas “Quesa-diendas.” Quesadillas by Brenda = Quesa-diendas. 🙂  I started by making a batch of Spinach Dip:

While the Spinach Dip baked in the oven, I worked on a batch of Tomato Soup on the stovetop:

Ingredients for Tomato Soup

Once that was simmering, I pureed some white beans with olive oil and minced garlic, to add to the Quesa-diendas:

White beans, pureed with olive oil and minced garlic, to add to the Quesa-diendas

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Pork Chile Verde, Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie, Sage-Rosemary Baked Chicken

This week’s cooking included batches of:

I started by marinating some pork shoulder with a spice-mixture, to make Pork Chile Verde:

Simultaneously, I also marinated some chicken legs in fresh herbs and lemon zest to make Sage-Rosemary Baked Chicken Legs:

While both of those hung-out and got more flavorful, I filled my big ol’ wok with boiling salted water and briefly cooked some sugar snap peas that I portioned for our Veggie Snacks this week, and then used that same water to boil some fingerling potatoes. In the oven, I roasted some sweet potatoes:

To read more, click the “Continue Reading” button below and to the right.

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