Beet and Orange Salad

I lived in Portland, OR back in the early 90’s when it was still somewhat undiscovered. What an exceedingly cool, authentically funky, artsy, eclectic town … with lots to explore, providing wonderful stomping grounds for me during my mid-20’s.  Some of my happiest years are my years in Portland, and this was due in large part to the city, itself, and its amazingness. But also to my bosses/mentors and the staff at Higgins Restaurant. And to my fantastic roommates, with whom I lived in our adorable bungalow on SE 32nd & Stark, near Laurelhurst Park. Great, GREAT neighborhood, and many a good time with that crew.

Some of my favorite memories from that time are from the potluck dinners we hosted. My roommates’ friends became my friends, and we all enjoyed cooking and experimenting with cuisines, so the “Cultural Supper Club” was born. We would choose a country, then complete our research at nearby Powell’s Books for Cooks, and then indulge in delicious foods, wines and cocktails from around the world. Participants signed-up for appetizers, entrees, beverages and desserts, and over time we expanded the roles to include researching and making a presentation about the country and its customs — especially if they influenced the ingredients and dishes. As our group grew larger, we added the role of investigating and bringing music from the region. Each gathering was a wonderfully well-rounded, cultural immersion. Convivial, scrumptious and educational!

I’m thrilled to have found a group of friends interested in starting this tradition here in Rochester! Our group originally dined out, and enjoyed getting to know each other while exploring restaurants new to us, and letting others do the cooking. Knowing that we all enjoy cooking and experimenting with new recipes, we decided to get together for a potluck dinner one evening. Our host suggested we pick a theme, which turned out to be Indian foods, so we enjoyed lassis, biryani, dahl, coconut custards, and more. At the conclusion of our meal together, I asked if they would be interested in resurrecting the “Cultural Supper Club.” They were excited about the idea!!

Our first official gathering featured foods of Spain — YUM!!! We included the spouses who could make it, and had a rip-roaringly fun meal together! Jaws and bellies ached from laughing so much! Below are the pictures of each course, and a few of the gorgeous home of our hosts — a lovely restored farmhouse out in Honeoye Falls. They served everything using beautiful china, crystal and silver … and we were greeted at the door by our friend holding a large pitcher of sangria:

Tapas for our first course: Patatas Brava (Potatoes with Aioli), Bacon-Wrapped Dates, Stuffed with Bleu Cheese, Spanish-style Shrimp with Garlic and Pan De Horno (Spanish crusty bread) to use to sop-up the sauce!

For our main courses, we devoured Pollo al Ajillo (Garlic Chicken) and Paella, accompanied by my Beet and Orange Salad (recipe below):

We concluded the meal with a Spanish cheesecake Quesada Pasiega, served with strawberry jam, enjoyed with a lovely Spanish brandy Gran Duque de Alba. How lucky that one of our group had made a recent trip to Spain and brought the bottle back for our gathering!

Stay tuned for recipes and pictures from our next get-together, featuring a proper English Sunday Lunch, followed by an afternoon stroll! If you and your friends like cooking and experimenting, I highly recommend starting your own “Cultural Supper Club” — so fun!!! And please read to the end, for mention of another activity that I recommend for cooking and learning about food called Cooking Matters.

Without further ado, the recipe I created using Spanish flavors to make a Beet and Orange Salad. True to form, I doubled this to make a huge batch since I was sure Mr. Batch and I would like it well enough to enjoy for our Veggie Snacks the following week:

Beet and Orange Salad

6 servings

 

  • 1 pound of whole beets

Preheat oven to 375-F.

Coat beets lightly with oil. Wrap beets in aluminum foil, place on a baking sheet, and roast in the oven until cooked through, approximately 45 to 60 minutes.

Remove from the oven, let cool for 10 minutes, and then peel and slice into 1/4-inch thick slices.

Vinaigrette:

While beets are roasting, make vinaigrette. You want flavors to “marry” before dressing the salad.

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup sherry vinegar

Whisk together ingredients above in a medium size bowl.

  • 1/2 cup olive oil

Stream oil slowly into vinegar-spice mixture, whisking constantly to make emulsion. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Vinaigrette should be on the tart-side.

Assemble salad:

  • 1.5 pounds oranges. I used Cara Cara Oranges from Trader Joes, but I think a mixture of Valencia Oranges and Blood Oranges would be lovely, as well.

Peel oranges, removing all white pith, and slice into rounds.

“Shingle” alternating slices of beets and oranges on serving platter, and drizzle 1/4 of the vinaigrette over. Eyeball this measurement — you want a fair amount of dressing glistening on the slices of beets and oranges:

 

  • 1/2  bulb fennel, shaved on a mandolin or sliced very thinly
  • 1/2 small red onion, shaved on a mandolin or sliced very thinly
  • 1/2 cup toasted almonds, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves (from approximately 1/2 a bunch)
  • 12 Spanish green olives stuffed with pimentos, sliced

Combine ingredients in a small bowl, and add 1/3 of the remaining vinaigrette. Taste a spoonful that includes all components, and add salt and pepper, if needed. Add more vinaigrette, if desired.**

Mound salad in center of beets and oranges, and sprinkle a few more cilantro leaves, as garnish:

*For a less glamorous presentation, you can combine ingredients in small tupperware containers, and shake to distribute all flavors. Enjoy as a Veggie/Fruit Snack.

**Leftover vinaigrette keeps in the refrigerator for two weeks. I had it over shredded carrots, cubed avocado and thinly sliced red onion … and licked the bowl clean! 🙂

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

Well, this isn’t really a freezable dish, but here is what I’ve been up to for play! This week marked the last class in a 6-week program I volunteered with called Cooking Matters, created by Share Our Strength and sponsored by our regional food hub Foodlink, to teach kids about healthy meals on a budget, and to impart skills that will make them self-sufficient in the kitchen. Some of our kids had never opened a can — some had never even peeled a banana. It was humbling and heart-warming to help empower these children to eat more healthfully. If you like to cook and have the time to volunteer, I highly recommend signing up for the Cooking Matters course wherever you live:

And Mr. Batch and I have been out in our garden! Still hard for this Southerner to embrace a Spring that never really starts till late April! I’ve decided to join Mr. Batch this year, to help plant and weed. Here is some of what is blooming in our neighborhood and just a couple of shots from our yard:

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!

Continue Reading

Lamb Biryani Meatballs

I’ve been learning new-to-me software recently: SalesForceIQ (formerly RelateIQ), Asana, Slack, Box and Dropbox. All powerful and fascinating for this Gen X-er, who also happens to be a slow-adopter (quit snickering, Mr. Batch!) All of it makes it possible for me to do Virtual Assistant work for a company based in San Francisco, which has been a wonderful addition since mid-February. So far, it’s part-time and short-term — I’ve got my fingers crossed that it might last awhile.  Interesting stuff having to do with digital currency and blockchain technology.

As I experience how effective and efficient this software helps me to be, I continue to marvel at it all … the interwebs … and how much I use internet technology in work and life. I was just giving thanks for FaceBook, Instagram and texting for their help facilitating connections. And thinking back on my years with computers.  My family was among the first, at least in our hometown, who bought a personal computer back in the 70s.  Like good frugal parents (see last post), they bought an Apple II Plus during a visit to see my grandmother in Delaware, a state with no sales tax. I didn’t “take” to it much, but my brother and father had hours and hours of fun programming it and playing command-driven “Adventure” games.  Those games offered NO graphics!  Hard to imagine/remember, isn’t it?

When I was a Senior in high school, I took a Computer Math class from a fantastic … that can’t be emphasized enough … FANTASTIC teacher. He patiently taught us to write programs to solve math problems on TRS80 computers. I think the language we used was called “Basic.” I loved that class, with its logical, sequential process documenting cause and effect. He taught us “If-Then” statements.  Such as, “If X = 5, then go to Line 10.” Those were seminal in shaping how I continue to organize and plan — both in work and personal life — to this day.

Like many, I felt insecure in high school … as if I didn’t really “fit in.” Sometimes I still feel that way, but that’s a blog post for another time … hahaha! I remember my Computer Math teacher saying to me once, “You know, when I give assignments, I receive 25 of the same answers, with the program laid-out in the exact same order. And then I get yours.  You get to the same answer, but you always write a different program, in a different order, than the rest.”  At the time, what I heard him confirming were my fears: “You’re weird.”

It wasn’t until years later when I was under the tutelage of my mentor that I told her this story, and she very kindly remarked, “No!  He wasn’t saying that at all!  He was saying ‘You’re creative!'” Ah!  What a relief to have a new framework for this story! And what a gift she was (and is!) for so many reasons, including that she was a *model* for creativity. She taught me to look at recipes and tweak them here and there … make substitutions … figure out where rules could be broken … or at least bent.  It is with this model that I post a reprise of my Lamb Biryani meatballs.

And I do so, using WordPress software, that I’ll use to post over the internet. How cool!

Lamb Biryani Meatballs

Yield: 34 – 38 meatballs

The herb-spice flavorings in this recipe were inspired by Food & Wine magazine’s recent recipe for Hyderabadi Lamb Biryani.

  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 1 pound ground beef
    • you could certainly use 2 pounds of ground lamb, or 2 pounds of ground beef. This is what I had on-hand from our local farm that offers pesticide/fertilizer/hormone-free, pasture-raised meats, Aberdeen Hill.
  • grated & chopped zest of 1 lemon
  • juice of 1/2 of the lemon (approximately 2 Tablespoons)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 20 grinds of freshly cracked black pepper
  • leaves from 3 sprigs of mint (approximately 8 leaves), chopped
  • leaves from 20 stems of cilantro, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • two inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled, grated & chopped
  • 4 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 of a large yellow onion, fine-diced
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamon

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.

IMG_4694
Ingredients for Lamb Biryani Meatballs

In small pan, heat a tiny bit of oil and add a smidge of the mixture. Cook all the way through, and then eat, to taste for salt- and spice-content. If you would like these to be a bit more seasoned or a bit spicier, add another 1/2 teaspoon of salt or another 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes, and re-test and taste.  Adjust all seasonings to your liking.

Roll into large walnut-size meatballs and place on large, parchment-lined baking sheet.  I used the parchment to keep them from sticking to the pan, and for easier clean-up. I’m guessing you could easily omit the parchment, and bake them on an ungreased pan.

IMG_4695
Lamb Biryani Meatballs, ready to be baked

Bake at 350-degrees Fahrenheit for 15 – 20  minutes.

I enjoyed these with Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Oven-Braised Leeks, and a spinach salad that I ate with a little feta and sliced avocado. Leave off the feta and you have yourself  a Paleo meal!

As the tagline says: Make a lot!  Freeze some!  No go play!

I kept three portions in the refrigerator, and froze the rest to pull and enjoy another time:

It’s been cold and rainy here, so our fun has needed to be indoors. We watched the Oscars and are thrilled for Moonlight!!! And this weekend, I made bagels!  Not nearly as hard as I thought they’d be!  I used this recipe and am excited to make tweaks and try again!

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!

 

 

Continue Reading

Paleo Pork “Katsu” Over Noodles with Gingered Bok Choy

We rarely ate-out when I was growing up. Going to McDonald’s was a BIG deal. And when we did, we always got the food “to go” and ate it at home. We already had drinks at home, my father reasoned. I remember asking for a milkshake during one trip to the golden arches, and my father turning me down, reminding me that he had already paid for the 2-liter of soda at home.

“I’ll pay the 42 cents for the milkshake,” I offered (aging myself with that price!)

“You’re missing the point,” my father replied.  And home we went, sans beverages provided by Ronald, the Hamburglar, Grimace and the rest.

It took me years to appreciate this practice of deliberation over dollars spent. Short-term refraining leading to long-term gaining. We were the family that stood-out as buying clothes from Sears during the era of The Official Preppy Handbook when the little alligator and the polo player were just everything. We kids learned to “drive stick” in our 1966 VW bug that my parents owned for 23 years.  This, while living in a neighborhood where Porsches, BMWs and Mercedes were commonplace. There was even a red Ferrari!

We used items until they broke or wore out. Our wardrobes were comprised of the same clothes for years, regardless of fashion-trends. As I dressed this morning, I was thinking about the purchase of my pants over five years ago from my favorite San Francisco store. That I still make decisions based on practicality and durability — my trusty black trousers … versatile, for dressy outings *and* more casual settings.  In fact, I frequently make the joke that my primary motivation for trying to maintain my weight has nothing to do with vanity — mine is financial.  If I put-on weight, I’d have to spend money on new clothes!

Mr. Batch and I are currently tightening our purse-strings as I redesign myself into a freelance grant writer, working pro bono at this point. We are deeply grateful to be able to survive on one income for the time-being, as I “trim the fat” in our budget. I’m making homemade yogurt, vanilla extract and apple cider vinegar. Cooking dried beans versus buying canned legumes.  Turning down the heat and putting on layers + holding a hot water bottle. I reflect on how fortunate we’ve been to have a period where we didn’t need to save those few cents. And how grateful I am to my parents for raising me in an environment of budgeting and careful evaluation of pennies spent. Returning to my roots.

And …. appreciating delicious recipes that taste as good as if we had eaten out, when in fact, they are easy to make at home. Here’s how I made restaurant-quality Paleo Pork “Katsu” Over Noodles with Gingered Bok Choy:

Yield: 4 portions

To stretch our food dollar even farther, I bought half a pig from local McDonald Farm last Fall. The price per pound was $4.40 for this organic, pasture-raised, humanely treated pork — which is far from the $18/pound for just  a pork tenderloin from them.  Thus far, I’ve been very pleased with the decision to have a freezer full of various cuts of pork to thaw and cook-up. For this recipe, I stretched our food-expense even farther by slicing 2 thick-cut pork chops in half, resulting in four portions (better for my waistline, too!)

Then, I put the thick pork chops between two sheets of plastic-wrap and used my rolling pin to pound them thin.

I cracked an egg into a bowl, added 1 Tablespoon of Brita-filtered water, and 1/4 teaspoon salt and whisked with a fork until it was foamy.

In a separate bowl, I mixed 1 cup of almond meal (I buy this at Trader Joe’s) with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and several grinds of freshly cracked pepper. *If you are not following the Paleo diet, you could season some all-purpose flour or use Japanese panko breadcrumbs.

Then, I melted a small spoon-full of coconut oil in a non-stick saute pan.

Using one hand, I dipped a pork chop into the egg wash and then transferred it into the bowl of seasoned almond-meal. Then, using the other hand, I dredged the pork chop on all sides through the seasoned almond meal and then placed the pork chop in the hot oil in the pan. Using alternate hands keeps your finger-tips from getting clumped with egg-wash-dredging.

My pork chops were thin-enough to be able to cook entirely on the stovetop, but if yours are a bit thicker, you could finish cooking them in a hot oven.

 

Meanwhile, in my big ol’ wok, I made a batch of Steamed Baby Bok Choy. I modified this just slightly to add some minced fresh ginger, as well as about 1/4 cup of coconut aminos to the aromatic bath in which I steamed the baby bok choy. You could substitute soy sauce for the coconut aminos if you don’t follow the Paleo diet, or aren’t avoiding gluten.

 

And on a separate burner on the stove, I boiled a bag of Sweet Potato Glass Noodles in salted water. I found these in the Asian section of our local grocer for 99-cents/bag! The only ingredient is sweet potato starch, which makes them Paleo in my book!  Mr. Batch and I have loved discovering these for their flavor,  chewy texture, and price! Once these were done, I tossed them in about 2 teaspoons of sesame oil.

 

To serve: I had some sautéed mushrooms on-hand, so I added some of the Sweet Potato Glass Noodles to a bowl, topped them with sautéed mushrooms and cut-up Gingered Baby Bok Choy, and then poured some of the saved cooking liquid from the bok choy over the noodles.

I added another splash or two of coconut aminos, and then the sliced Pork “Katsu.”  DELISH!  Light, yet very filling.

As the Tagline says: Make a lot! Freeze some! Now go play! As this applies to the recipe above, the “breaded” and pan-fried pork chops could be made in many batches, and frozen, then thawed & reheated another time. Will they be as crispy?  No, but when you’re tired or in a hurry, you’ll be grateful to have them at the ready, and they could be “re-crisped” in a hot saute pan with just a smidge of oil after thawing.  🙂

I have no pictures of what Mr. Batch and I have been up to when we’ve recently played! He is teaching this semester, which means there isn’t a ton of time for playing. We have been going to see the Oscar-nominated movies on Friday evenings: La La Land, Moonlight, Manchester By the Sea, Hidden Figures, the Oscar-Nominated Animated Shorts, and we’re hoping to see Lion this weekend!  Do you have a favorite?

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!

Continue Reading

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!

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! 

Continue Reading

Cabbage Salad with Mint and Avocado

How many of you remember the TV Show “Sesame Street” being “sponsored” by a letter and a number?  The show would conclude with, “Sesame Street has been brought to you by the letter P and the number 5.” Remember?!?!  Childhood memories flooding back to you?  🙂

In that spirit, today’s blog post is brought to you today by the letter “W” and the number “1.”  “W” is for “willingness.” I was inspired to write about willingness by a question/comment I received recently about prepping several days’ worth of food in advance — wondering how the pre-portioned containers of food stay fresh?

I gave that a lot of thought, and the word that came up for me was “willingness.” Food cooked daily … and fruits and veggies peeled and cut daily … are fantastically fresh, natch. In an ideal world, I would have that much time, energy … and probably most importantly interest … in cooking daily. But a good “Plan B” for me is to cook and prep in quantity — sacrificing optimal freshness, yet *still* preparing deliciously tasty food (in my husband’s and my opinion … grin!)

The compromise for optimal freshness I’m willing to make is to have food “at the ready” for me to grab and go. Otherwise, I am likely to make less healthy choices. And more expensive ones. If I can easily grab a peeled tangerine — even one peeled a few days ago and put into a sealed container, which is still plenty juicy and tasty — I am more likely to do so when faced with the choice between that and a free cookie at work.  But if the tangerine needs to be peeled and then I have to wash my hands, I’ll choose the cookie every time.

Likewise with cooking after work. I get up at 5am almost daily. This routine is leftover from my days as a professional pastry chef when my workday started at 5am, which meant my alarm went off at 4am! I take care of several tasks and “to do’s” prior to departing for work, and then, like all of us, work a full day. By the time 5:30/6pm rolls around, all I want to do is eat. So if I have to chop, stir-fry, bake and steam foods in order to do so, I bet I’ll choose to stop at Chipotle and let them handle it.

Thus, I cook about 5 days’ worth of different types of veggies on a Sunday and mix and match them into lunches and dinners. I cook between 5-10 portions of various meat and vegetarian proteins, but only leave 2 or 3 portions in the refrigerator and freeze the rest. I find it just as easy to cook 10 chicken thighs as it is 3 or 4.  My engineering father reminds me that this is “economy of scale cooking.”

When I cook this way, I stack the odds in my favor that I’ll eat *these* foods, versus indulgent treats at work and/or frequent meals out. But trust me, by the weekend, I’m more than ready for someone else to cook — and clean-up! So … I get a break, and we eat out.  And we feel very fortunate to be able to do so!

Which brings me to our sponsored number of “1.”  You guessed it.  One time I am willing to cook … in big batches … per week.  With the intent of having leftovers to pull from the freezer on weeks when I am uninspired, which has been the case this week!  Some people say they can taste when food has been frozen, even if it is for a brief period of time. We’re lucky that we don’t fall in that camp, so this week I’ve been mixing and matching previously-frozen veggie burgers for Mr. Batch’s lunches, and mixing and matching previously-frozen Juiciest Baked Chicken Breasts and baked pork chops with various starches, veggies and sauces. As the tagline says, I made a lot. Froze some. And this week I’m just playing!

Would love to hear areas where you’re willing to compromise!

I created this Cabbage Salad with Mint and Avocado to use-up some odds and ends of veggies and herbs I had in our veggie drawer. And I really like how it turned out!  We’ve eaten this as our Veggie Snack each day, but you could make one recipe of this and take it to a potluck or picnic.

Yield: 10 servings

  • 1/2 head of cabbage (mine was originally a large green head of cabbage), sliced thin
  • 1 bulb fennel, sliced thin
  • 12 colorful mini bell peppers, seeded and sliced thin (alternatively, 1 thinly sliced red or orange bell pepper)
  • 1/2 of a red onion, small diced
  • 20 leaves of mint, chopped
  • 20 leaves of parsley, chopped

Toss all ingredients in a large mixing bowl, to combine.

Make ahead: pre-portion into 10 containers with covers. Each day, add 1/8 of an avocado to each container and a splash of apple cider vinegar or white balsamic vinegar (or coconut vinegar, or lemon or lime juice … whatever you like), as well as a little salt and pepper.  Stir to combine. We find that just the vinegar is flavorful enough for us, but if you prefer a vinaigrette with oil, by all means add that, instead.

Make and serve immediately: add 2 avocados, cubed, to the cabbage-mixture and stir to combine. Add a few splashes of apple cider or white balsamic vinegar (or coconut vinegar, or the juice of a lemon or lime … whatever you like), and 1/2 a teaspoon of salt and several grinds of freshly cracked pepper.  Stir to combine, and taste and adjust seasoning as you like.

In case you’ve been missing seeing what else I’ve been cooking in big batches, here are some shots from this week. Hover over the images to reveal the captions:

I leave you with a sign I saw recently and loved. Addresses another area of willingness! SMOOCH!

 

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! 

Continue Reading

“Peanut” (No Peanut) Sauce

Where have I been with my weekly posts of big batch cooking, you ask?  You’ve missed seeing my recipes and pictures of vegetarian food I make for Mr. Batch, and Paleo-inspired foods I make for myself, you say?  What have we been up to after I’ve Made a Lot / Frozen Some / and then Gone and Played?!?  I’ve missed y’all too! (insert Southern twang)

Here’s what’s been keeping me busy! I’m redesigning myself into a freelance grant writer, technical writer and blog contributor!  I’ve fallen so in love with telling my stories here on BatchBitch.com, that I’m going to make a “go” of telling more stories! My grant writing will help convey the stories of nonprofit organizations to funders. My technical writing will tell companies’ stories of “how to.” And, among other topics, my blog contributions will tell the stories of what we’re loving about living in Rochester, NY. Stay tuned!

I have also been volunteering with two organizations close to my heart for their missions to help with food insecurity: Foodlink and the Rochester Public Market‘s Market Token Program for SNAP Benefit Recipients.  More about the Public Market in forthcoming posts.

Modified slightly from their website: Foodlink is a regional food hub and the Feeding America food bank serving 10 counties in the Rochester area. Their operations target the root causes of hunger.  They do this by distributing food to a network of human service agencies, serving meals through their commercial kitchen, and offering more than 30 food-related programs. Read more about them here. Their motto is “Abundance Shared.”  (Swoon!)

I have been helping on their Curbside Market trucks, and in their warehouse sorting donations. The Curbside Market brings fresh, affordable produce to areas in Rochester where fresh fruits and vegetables are not easily accessible. It’s been inspiring to hitch my wagon (pun intended) to these efforts to empower and improve the lives of Rochesterians, and I feel fortunate to have this opportunity to help!

Which brings me to helping bring deliciousness to you all! New this year, I’m going to shorten my blog posts to one recipe at a time. I think having recipes and tips in smaller bites (man, I’m punny today!) might be easier to digest. (groan!)  Would love to know what you think!

Without further ado, I present “Peanut” (No Peanut) Sauce — a sauce made with almond butter versus peanut butter, for those avoiding peanuts. If you’re a peanut lover, substitute peanut butter!  You can also substitute any other nut butter, including sunflower seed butter:

Yield: 6 servings

Combine the following in a blender or food processor and puree:

  • 3 Tablespoons grated ginger (one 3″ piece)
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded, chopped
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves (approx 30 stems), coarsely chopped
  • 8 green onions, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Juice of 1 lime (approx 1/8 cup)
  • 1/2 cup almond butter (mine was creamy & included salt, but you can sub chunky and/or unsalted)
  • 2 Tablespoons coconut aminos (or soy sauce, if you aren’t avoiding gluten)
  • 3 Tablespoons vegetable broth, chicken broth or water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Taste, and adjust seasoning.  Add sriracha or other hot sauce if you want it spicier. Adjust consistency with more broth or water, or even a teaspoon or more of sesame oil, which might also enhance the flavor. Play around with it and make it your own! <smooch!>

This was created because I wanted noodles and peanut sauce — but I can’t keep peanut butter or peanuts in the house for the temptation to gorge. I’ve got much more self-control around almond butter and almonds … and I tend toward Paleo which doesn’t include peanuts … and a lot of you out there can’t have peanuts … so this recipe was born!

Mr. Batch ate it over rice noodles with tofu, edamame and shrimp — pescatarian, but leave out the shrimp and it’s a vegan meal. I ate mine over sweet potato noodles with chicken and spicy sausage. We sprinkled chopped, toasted almonds for added texture:

The veggies I included were sliced onion, carrots & zucchini that I sautéed with grated fresh ginger and garlic:

Another use for this recipe would be as a dipping sauce for a veggie plate. How else might you use yours?

As the tagline says: Make A Lot. Freeze Some. Now Go Play!

Mr. Batch and I have both been recuperating from the severe cold we caught while in NYC over the holidays. So my report is of the marvelous movies we’ve watched:

Two food documentaries — both delicious! The Search for General Tso and DeliMan.

And we went with a Daniel Day-Lewis theme and watched My Left Foot and In The Name of the Father.  Both powerful!

Continue Reading

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:

Continue Reading

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:

img_5946
Frozen-then-thawed tofu slices, squeezing out excess water to make Crispy Baked Tofu

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

Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading

Indonesian Marinade for Broiled Tofu andBaked Chicken; Guacamole; Steamed Baby Bok Choy; Roasted Leg of Lamb; Gingerbread Apple Upside Down Cake

In case you missed the “Reflection” I published this week and you need a good laugh, check out all of the mishaps from our civil ceremony in Mr. Batch and I Get Married.  🙂

This week’s cooking included batches of:

I started by making two batches of Indonesian Marinade — one for marinating and then broiling some tofu for Mr. Batch; and one for marinating and then baking some chicken breasts for myself:

Many of the same ingredients from the marinade go into Guacamole, so while those proteins marinated, I made some Guacamole for Mr. Batch’s Vegetarian Sandwiches and for dipping veggie snacks into:

Next, I roasted a batch of delicata squash slices. These squash are usually only available briefly because of their delicate skins, which is one reason why I love them — the skins are so delicate (hence, the name) that you can eat them!  I scrubbed the squashes, sliced them in half and removed the seeds, and then brushed them with a bit of olive oil and sprinkled with salt & pepper, and baked them on a sheet pan at 400-degrees F for approximately 35 – 45 minutes (flipping them over, half-way through the roasting):

While those roasted, I prepped this week’s “Frittata,” which included a chunk of previously frozen wilted greens + Slow Roasted Tomatoes (from my September 14th post) and 1/3 of a pound of previously cooked and frozen breakfast sausage. This combination is one of my favorites for my weekly  “Frittata.”  Once the delicata squash slices were out of the oven, I lowered the temperature and baked my  “Frittata.”

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

Continue Reading