Fermented Veggies/Sauerkraut

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A year ago I would have never imagined that I would care about or want to know how to ferment vegetables. Times have changed in this household for sure. Why ferment veggies? From what I’ve read, fermenting foods like our ancestors used to do, provides the best form of probiotics and the easiest for our bodies to absorb. After reading this information many times over, I knew I had to figure out how to do it. We are, after all, working hard to heal our guts and improve our immunity/overall health.

After tons of time spent perusing various methods on the interwebs, and after several failed attempts, I’ve found what works best for us. The kids love it and they remember to get it out when I’ve forgotten; we have scoops of it pretty much every day. Even if they take a mere bite, I am happy. This jar of fermented veggies is Noah’s “go-to” when he has a sour stomach or stomach ache of any kind. It, along with bone broth, has brought my stomach issues to a much better and livable place.

So, here we go…this, by the way, is how to “wild ferment.” This is much more of a method than a recipe.

Fermented Vegetables
 1 head of cabbage (Napa and regular work great), cored and cut into large wedges or chunks (reserve 2 large outer cabbage leaves before cutting*)
1-2 cucumbers
1 daikon radish
2 small or medium carrots, or 1 large
1 red pepper
2-inch segment of fresh ginger
2-3 T. Celtic, Himalayan, or sea salt (the kind with the most minerals and nutritious value)

Process the cabbage in your food processor until shredded. You want it to have a nice shred but not be completely processed to tiny bits. Add the cabbage to a large bowl. Press down the cabbage with a potato masher for at least 5 minutes. Water/cabbage juice will begin to appear in the bowl – that is what we want. Sprinkle the cabbage with 1-2 T. of salt.

Process the remaining vegetables in your food processor and add to the bowl of cabbage. Again, we’re looking for them to be shredded but not decimated. I just pulsed carefully until it was where I wanted it to be. My food processor has a julienne blade which worked great for processing the remaining veggies. You can also chop everything finely with a knife. The more surface area of the vegetable that is exposed, the better the fermentation will occur. As you add veggies to the bowl, continue to intermittently give the mixture a good squashing with the potato masher. Once all veggies have been chopped, sprinkle the remaining tablespoon of salt on top and mash for another minute or two. You can stir the mixture together as you mash.

Once everything has been combined, place the mixture in a large, sterile glass jar, keeping the vegetables below the liquid as much as possible. As you add the vegetables you can pack them into the jar slightly – use the potato masher for this too! Top the vegetables with the large, loose cabbage leaves. This will keep the mixture from being exposed to any air in the jar – the best and safest fermentation occurs when the mixture remains in the liquid. Sometimes I place a small cup on top of the cabbage leaves and under the lid to add pressure and keep the mixture below the liquid. Make sure there is extra room left at the top of the jar because as the veggies sit, they will produce more and more liquid. I’ve had a few overflows…seems like I’m always surprised at how much liquid comes out of the vegetables.

Store the jar (or jars, if you’ve used smaller jars instead of one big one*) on your counter or in your pantry for 3 to 7 days. The longer it sits out, the more it will ferment. Watch for any browning at the top – remove any vegetables that may have browned due to not being under liquid. I’ve never had to do this, but have read that it can happen. You will know the fermentation process has begun when you see the liquid slightly bubbling on the sides of the jar. Open the jar and let some air/gas out for a second or two each day. Taste it from day to day and when it has the flavor you like, put it in the refrigerator. It will continue to ferment in the fridge but at a much slower rate. We’ve eaten almost all of our current batch (as shown above) and it tastes way better now than it even did at the beginning. It will last in the refrigerator for at least 2 months.

Feel free to use whatever vegetables you like. Organic would be the very best. I honestly can’t remember if I found organic daikon radish or not. I’m guessing I was just thrilled to find it at all up here in our little mountain town. Just make sure you have cabbage at the very least, and also cucumber. Both are key in beginning the fermentation process. Daikon radish performs the same job as the cabbage and cucumber. Garlic is a nice addition also, but the flavor definitely becomes stronger and stronger as it ferments.

If there is any remaining liquid leftover once you’ve finished eating all of the fermented vegetables, you can pour the liquid into the next batch you make. There are a lot of amazing probiotics left in that liquid!

I should note that even though I am the daughter of a German, I spent the better part of my life hating, and I do mean HATING sauerkraut. Needless to say, I was quite nervous about giving what basically is “enhanced sauerkraut” a go. I think the big difference for me is that this is raw and I’ve been raised on cooked or roasted (gag times infinity) sauerkraut. I’m not a good “krauthead” as my German grandmother would say. So, if you’ve disliked sauerkraut before, this is very different and much more delicious. Seriously.

Ok, I’m done pushing. For now.🙂

*If you’ve used several smaller jars, make sure you reserve additional cabbage leaves so you have enough to place at the top of each jar.

Gluten Free Vegan Brownies

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You might be wondering about me these days. First, I haven’t posted in over a year and then I show up with the bone broth recipe and now a vegan recipe? What’s the deal? Well, we aren’t vegan, but I love finding vegan recipes because they are egg free and Noah is allergic to eggs.

And also, it was New Years’ Eve 2012 when things changed drastically in our family, health-wise. You can read all about it here. Little did I know that my being in “Super Immunity Building Mode” would lead us to a year of learning, changing and ultimately eating much differently than what we ever had before. ‘Differently’ meaning, over the course of the past year we have become gluten free, soy free, and eat very limited dairy – and only raw at that. We eat very limited sugar, buy as much as we can that is organic, local farmed and raised, and purchase very little processed foods. The result? We’re all healthier. Without a doubt. We still have questions about reactions here and there – it’s such a mystery sometimes – and we still sometimes crave things we shouldn’t have. It’s so hard to deprive the kids of things they love. If only I didn’t raise a family of foodies!

Enter, these delicious brownies. They are so soft and chocolatey, and a huge bonus – they’re easy to make! If you’ve ever made gluten free recipes, you might know how uh…high maintenance…they can be. Everyone loved these brownies – in fact, they may already be gone!

Gluten Free Vegan Brownies
adapted from Sarah Bakes Gluten Free Treats
1 cup gluten free flour blend*
3/4 scant cup xylitol
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
1/4 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup water, room temperature
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Preheat your oven to 350. Line 8×8 or 9×9-inch square baking dish with parchment paper, so that it hangs over the sides. In mixing bowl, sift together flour blend, xylitol, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Stir in the melted coconut oil, coconut milk, water, maple syrup and vanilla extract. Mix until just combined.

Pour the batter into your square baking dish and smooth out. Bake for 25 minutes, being careful to not overbake. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15-20 minutes. Use the parchment paper to lift the brownies out of the pan, then cut into squares. Store in air tight container. You may want to place some parchment or wax paper between the brownies to avoid having them stick together. Enjoy!

*Here is the flour blend I used in this recipe:
4 cups superfine brown rice flour
2 cups sweet white rice flour
2 cups potato starch
1/2 cup tapioca starch
1/2 cup cornstarch
5 teaspoons xanthan gum
Stir or whisk together and store in a ziploc or other container. I store all of my flours in the freezer and let them come to room temperature before using.

Beef Bone Broth

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Beef Bone Broth


There are so many incredible health benefits found in bone broth. It is the best cure for what ails you, without a doubt, especially during cold and flu season. I’m certainly not an expert on the matter, but what I’ve learned about bone broths is this: bone broth from a good organic, grass-fed source will naturally contain my new food hero, gelatin. Why do I love gelatin? Gelatin heals and protects your digestive system. Healthy gut = thriving immune system. I personally have experienced the benefits of drinking bone broth at least once a day. It has helped my stomach to not be a burning mess on a regular basis. Gelatin contains collagen which improves hair, skin and nail condition. Last, gelatin plays a role in muscle maintenance and detoxification.

I grew up thinking it was disgusting when the broth my mom made couldn’t pour out of the jar, but instead kind of “glopped” out in a big gelatinous mound. And now I become giddy at the sight! I’ve spent so much time and energy on broth this past year…I do believe I’m ready to share what I’ve learned. This post will be about beef broth but a post on chicken broth will be forthcoming as well. This may look like a long and involved process, but once you get everything going, it really just takes care of itself. Let’s get on with it!

First you will need some grass-fed soup bones. I bought these at a local creamery that raises grass-fed beef. I’ve also found them in my local grocery store, but they aren’t always grass-fed or organic there.
This is just under 6 lbs. of meat and bones. When making beef broth, you always want to roast the bones first. It provides for better flavor and also helps the bones to begin the process of releasing the “good stuff” that will help your broth to gel. Don’t trim any fat, but go ahead and sprinkle some sea salt and pepper over the top. Place in a 375 degree oven and roast for about 30 or 40 minutes or until the meat/bones have some nice color to them. These are very meaty bones by the way, sometimes the bones I get don’t have as much meat. You still will want to roast the bones until you see golden brown coloring the edges.

Once you’ve removed the bones from the oven, have your crock pot or a large stockpot ready. Place the bones and any juices or bits in the crock pot. Add carrots, celery, onion, peppercorns, garlic, salt, and bay leaf. Cover with cold water and add a few teaspoons or a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. The apple cider vinegar helps draw out all of the calcium and magnesium wonderfulness. Cover with just enough cold water to submerge the bones. Set your slow cooker on low and cook for 12 hours – you can even cook them as long as 24 hours. This is what it looks like after a few hours: And here is what it looks like after it has been refrigerated:
This was before I heated it up to drink. It was so tasty! This time, I ended up with 4 quarts of broth.*

Beef Bone Broth Ingredients:
5-6 lbs. of beef soup bones
2 carrots, washed and cut into thirds
3 stalks of celery, washed and cut into thirds
2 onions, peeled and cut in half
4-5 garlic cloves, peeled
1 T. black peppercorns
1 T. sea salt
up to 1 T. apple cider vinegar (like Bragg’s)
2 bay leaves

Directions:
Salt and pepper the beef bones and roast in a 375 degree oven for 30-40 minutes until golden brown. Place beef bones and pan drippings in crock pot or stock pot. Add remainder of ingredients and cover with enough cold water to just submerge bones.

Crock pot: cook on high for 2 hours, then on simmer on low for 10
Stock pot: bring to a simmer (don’t boil) and cook for 12 hours
You can also make broth in your pressure cooker. I usually pressure cook on high for 40 minutes (being careful to watch water level lines) and then you can either quick release the steam or let it release naturally.

Here are some tips that I found on Homemade Mommy’s site awhile ago that have helped me be successful:
– DO start with COLD liquid when filling the pot.
– DON’T ever allow a stock to get to a roaring boil. The stock should be heated slowly to only a calm simmer. At a slow simmer, foam will rise to the top and can be skimmed off. If the water boils, the gritty foam will churn back into the stock and become emulsified. The resulting stock will be muddy and have a greasy, off-putting flavor.
– DON’T move the contents of the stock during cooking. Just let them be. As the stock cooks, the scummy proteins settle along the bottom and sides of the pot. If the stock is disturbed, these solids will break up and cloud the stock.
– DON’T press on the ingredients when straining. It is best to let them drain naturally.
– DO make sure to cool large batches of stock before refrigerating or it will raise the temperature of your entire fridge.

*- Sometimes I need to add more water. In this particular batch, I would have had more broth at the end, but I was cooking it in my super powerful slow cooker overnight and even though it was covered and barely simmering, much of the water steamed off. I did end up with a concentrated broth that I can dilute in order to have a greater quantity, but I guess I would just rather have a larger quantity to begin with. Maybe that’s a weird quirk of mine?
– You can cook your bones 2 and 3 times!! I cooked these bones three times and ended up with another 3 or 4 quarts of lovely broth each time. After the first time, I discarded the veggies and added new veggies. For the 3rd go-round, I kept the veggies from the previous batch but added some baby portabello mushrooms just because I had them and have liked the “beefy” flavor they added to vegetable broths.

So…are you ready to make some bone broth?

Preserving More Than Food

Fall has come and gone since I’ve posted anything to this blog I so love. Ironically enough, this Fall was completely food-focused. I suppose that tends to happen when you decide to plant a bigger garden than ever before (and it was still small). Consequently, end of summer/fall is super busy!

I am so thrilled that I can now say I fully know how to can and preserve food. I don’t know how quick of a study I was, but my mom was always there to answer my texts, calls and repetitive questions. I remember being a little kid and my mom spending hours in her huge garden. The end of the summer was filled with days where she and her friend Pauline would get together and help each other can or freeze whatever was ripe at the time. My grandma and aunts did the same thing. I was over the moon this fall when my mom said, “Grandma would be so happy. She always hoped you’d learn how to can.” Growing and preserving our food has now become so important to our health and also our budget. But more than that, I feel like I’m preserving a little of our family heritage. It is hard work, but I love it.

So here’s my tally for this year:
– 27 pints of salsa
– 4 pints of roasted tomatoes (frozen in 1/2 c. portions)
– 8 loaves of zucchini bread (frozen)
– 32 quarts of green beans
– 18 pints of diced tomatoes
– 22 cups of pumpkin (frozen in 2 c. portions)
– 6 cups of pesto (frozen in 1 c. portions)
– 1 gallon whole Roma tomatoes (frozen)
– 2 gallons cherry tomatoes (frozen)
– 21 quarts of marinara sauce
– 6 c. green peppers (diced and frozen in 1/2 c. portions)

We had a lot of onions, green onions too, and are still using them (we’re almost out!!). Our garden carrots are gone and we’re on the last of the potatoes (My mom and dad grow the potatoes – we just don’t have the room). We also grew & enjoyed a lot of delicious lettuce, mint, and chives. I didn’t keep track of the Anaheim peppers or jalapenos – we mainly used them as they were ripe. Oh, and I can’t forget my whopping 2 artichokes.

I’m already thinking of what I want to plant for next year, and have made notes of what I’d do differently:
– Goodbye artichokes. I’m sad to see you go, but we just don’t have the long growing season you need and your plants took up too much real estate.
– Less tomatoes
– More green beans, onions and carrots
– No peppers
I’ll stop there…this isn’t a gardening blog, now is it? Grin.

Writing this post brings back such fond memories. It is a grand feeling to step back and see your shelves full of food that is healthy and inexpensive. It must be a little like childbirth – you forget the labor and hours of hard work and instead relive the satisfaction of how it feels to pull a jar off the shelf and go make dinner.

Crock Pot French Dip Sandwiches

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This one of our “family favorites!” I’ve made these sandwiches for an easy dinner and also for several Super Bowl get-togethers. They are a huge hit! The meat slow cooks for hours until it is so tender you would never need a knife. Add some melted cheese and a buttery roll…it can’t be beat!

Crock Pot French Dip Sandwiches
3 to 4 lb rump roast (a Chuck Roast would work well too if you like more fat or marbling)
1 whole large onion, sliced
1 T. Montreal Steak Seasoning
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c. soy sauce
1 c. Sherry
1/2 t. salt
2 c. water
1 can beef broth or stock
Deli Rolls, plus additional butter (oh you know that’s right!!)
Provolone cheese, sliced

Place onions in bottom of 5 or 6 qt. crock pot. Set roast on top of onions. Combine garlic, soy sauce, sherry, salt, water and broth and pour over roast and onions in crock pot. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours. The meat should be tender and easily pulled apart. Remove roast to cutting board and slice meat (or if meat if falling-apart-tender you could skip this part).

Heat broiler. Slice open rolls and spread butter on them. Place on a baking sheet under the broiler for a few minutes (DON’T WALK AWAY!!) to very lightly toast the bread. Pull rolls out of oven and then add desired amount of oh-so-delicious meat to the roll. Spoon au jus over sandwiches, then cover with slices of Provolone and place back under broiler just long enough to melt the cheese.

Remove sandwiches from baking sheet, close ’em up and place them on a plate along with a cup of the au jus.

Dip in and dig in!

Breakfast Burritos

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Hello again, dear Food Blog. It’s been so long. And how I’ve missed you. I sure haven’t stopped cooking. Life and all of its details can often come between me and my posting.

But enough about that, I made Breakfast Burritos! And not just 2 or 3. Nope. I made 15 and only stopped then because I ran out of tortillas. I could have made 3 more if I hadn’t run out!

Why would a person make 15/18 burritos at a time you ask? Here’s the long answer: Erik and I are both up and working pretty early every morning. I start around 6:30 and he starts at 7. Usually he comes downstairs by 8:00 and asks the kids and I what we feel like having for breakfast (I can hear my mom groaning now – neither she nor my grandma would have offered the choices, but we’re in the habit of doing so), then he makes breakfast for everyone. We’re all big on having protein first thing in the morning and frankly, we’re pretty sick of eggs being either scrambled or over medium. So to break it up a little, and also to give my breakfast-making husband a break, I took an hour on a Saturday morning and made fifteen-but-could-have-been-eighteen breakfast burritos.

Here’s what you need and how to do it:

1 lb. bulk breakfast sausage
20 eggs
6 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into a 3/4-inch dice
1/2 c. whole milk or heavy cream
1 green pepper, diced small
1/2 of a medium red onion, diced small
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 c. shredded cheddar cheese
2 to 3 T. butter
2 to 3 T. vegetable oil
15 or 18 ten-inch flour tortillas
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the butter and oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the potatoes, season with salt and pepper to taste. Partially cover the potatoes with a lid – this helps them cook through a little faster before they start to brown. You can remove the lid about halfway through cooking to allow browning and crisping to happen. We want that to happen. Add the sausage to another large skillet and start to brown over medium high heat. After you have it crumbled up and it starts to brown (about 5 minutes), add the onion, green pepper and garlic. Give it a stir every so often. Continue to cook potatoes, stirring often enough to keep potatoes from sticking to the bottom of the pan but not so often that you don’t give them a chance to brown – it took about 12 to 15 minutes for my potatoes to get as crisp as we like them.

If you have a spare minute while the sausage mixture and potatoes are cooking, you can grate your cheese. You can also start cracking all 20 of those eggs into a medium bowl. Add the milk or cream to the eggs along with salt and pepper to taste, then whisk well.

Once the sausage mixture is brown and the veggies are tender, use a slotted spoon to scoop all of it into a very large bowl. When the potatoes are cooked through and as crisp as you’d like, spoon them into the large bowl with the sausage mixture.

Add some butter to one of the now-empty large skillets, then pour your whisked eggs in and cook over medium heat, stirring them often to scramble them. Once they are scrambled, add the eggs to the potatoes and sausage in the large bowl. Stir everything together to combine.

Grab your tortillas and layer them in damp paper towels. I heated half of them at a time, layering a damp paper towel between every 3 or 4 tortillas. It took about 2 minutes on high to get them as soft and pliable as I liked. You want them soft to keep them from tearing while you roll.

Time to roll the burritos! I searched for a decent tutorial on burrito rolling and this is the best one I could find. Watch it if you need to, if not – start rolling your burritos by taking a tortilla and laying it flat, spoon 1 to 1 1/2 cups of the filling in the center, sprinkle desired amount of cheese on top, then roll. Make them as fat or skinny as you’d like – whatever amount you use will obviously affect the amount of burritos you end up with. Just make ’em how you like them!

Wrap each burrito in a square of foil, then place burritos in gallon ziplocs and freeze. When you’re ready for breakfast, heat a burrito in the microwave for 2 to 3 minutes, add your favorite salsa, guacamole, sour cream, cilantro…and enjoy!

ETA: This recipe is inspired and adapted from a recipe found at the Ninth & Bird site.

Macaroni & Cheese

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I was never a fan of macaroni and cheese as a kid. Maybe because the only time we ever had it was with liver and cooked beets (sorry, Mom – I still just don’t get that meal). ??? The cooked beets would always run into the mac and cheese on my plate and well, ewww. And I won’t even start on the liver.

For most of my time as a mom, however, I have been in search of a good macaroni and cheese recipe. I’ve tried them all: stove top recipes, super fancy recipes, recipes with cheeses I didn’t know existed, recipes with Velveeta…yeah, I’ve been around the mac n’ cheese block, still not finding the right consistency or flavor, etc.

I’m here to tell you that I may have found it this time. Maybe it’s the chicken broth? Or maybe it’s the smooth, not-too-runny, not-too-dry consistency. Either way, this mac and cheese was a huge hit with the fam. It has the perfect combo of cheesy-ness without being overly rich. Enjoy!

Macaroni & Cheese

1 lb. macaroni
6 T. Butter
1 clove Garlic, Pressed
1 t. Dry Mustard
¼ t. Cayenne Pepper
6 T. Flour
1-¾ cup Chicken Broth
3-½ cups Whole Milk
2 c. sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
1 c. Colby-Jack Cheese, Shredded
salt and pepper, to taste
Bread crumbs
2 T. butter, cut into little cubes

Put water on to boil macaroni. Once boiling, salt the water and add macaroni. Cook for 5 minutes, drain and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Add the butter to large pan and heat on medium heat until melted. Add the garlic, mustard, and cayenne; cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until golden, about 1 minute. Slowly whisk in the chicken broth and milk; bring to a simmer and cook, whisking often, until large bubbles form on the surface and the mixture is slightly thickened, 5 to 8 minutes. Off the heat, whisk in the cheeses gradually until completely melted. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Add the drained pasta to the cheese sauce and stir, breaking up any clumps, until well combined. Pour into a 9 x 13″ baking dish and sprinkle with desired amount of bread crumbs. Spread little cubes of butter over bread crumbs. (It will seem like it has far too much of the cheesy sauce, but don’t worry the macaroni soaks it up and it ends up “just right!”) Bake until golden brown and bubbling around the edges, approximately 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Low Carb Pizza

Still going strong on my healthier eating habits, and I am getting results. With all the incredible, fresh food I’ve been eating, I’ve found that I really don’t miss the bread like I thought I would. But pizza is that one thing that I will always love (and still occasionally indulge on). But guess what? I found a recipe for crust that will blow your mind. As it turns out, cauliflower can be pureed and combined with an egg and some cheese to make a crust that really works! Who knew? I’ve adapted this recipe from Eat, Drink and Smile. It is brilliant in its deceptiveness, and totally worth the effort.

1 cup of cauliflower puree (see below)
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp dried oregano
1-2 cloves of roasted garlic*
salt and pepper to taste
a little drizzle of olive oil (optional)

*To roast garlic, smash the cloves first on a cutting board with the back of a chef’s knife. Then it will be easy to peel. Place the peeled garlic cloves on a baking pan and brush liberally with olive oil. Roast until golden. This is a perfect job for my convection toaster oven. Roasting the garlic takes the bite out, and gives it a rich, buttery flavor.

Crust:
Steam an entire head cauliflower (leaves and stems removed) for a couple of minutes until softened. Drain well, then toss it into a food processor with the roasted garlic for a couple of pulses, until it is nicely pureed. Depending on the size of the head, you will get 2-3 cups of puree. 1 cup of puree is all you need for one crust. But you might as well make several batches. Because one pizza is never enough.

Stir in the egg, cheese, salt, pepper and oregano into the puree. Spread onto a pizza pan that you’ve brushed with olive oil. Bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes.

Remove from the oven, then top with your favorite tomato sauce and pizza goodness. I used a homemade marinara, mozzarella, fresh parmesan, pepperoni, and mushrooms. Return to the oven, and bake for a few more minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and the toppings are browned. Depending on the toppings, you might want to just run it under the broiler for a few more minutes.

I had kids inhaling this pizza, so it’s a good thing I made two!

Tuscan Baked Zucchini

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4 large zucchini, halved
2 roasted, mashed garlic cloves*
1/4 c freshly grated parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
2 tb roasted pine nuts, chopped
1 tsp oregano
1/3 c marinara sauce, plus more for topping
1 c ricotta cheese
1 can artichoke hearts, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350. Brush a large baking pan with olive oil. Cut zucchini lengthwise. Scrape out the center to leave a 1/4″ shell. Reserve the center. Brush with olive oil, and bake for 15 minutes at 350. They should look like this:

Meanwhile, coarsely chop the reserved zucchini and artichokes, squeezing out the water. Mix with the cheeses, parsley, salt, pepper and oregano. Add the marinara sauce and combine well.

Fill each of the zucchini shells with the filling. Top with a drizzle of marinara sauce and sprinkle with parmesan. Bake for 20 minutes at 350 until the filling is heated and the cheeses are melted.

Salmon Burgers

My quest for lean and mean continues. I’ve found that it’s really easy to cut out grains. Especially when there are wonderful options like this salmon burger. I used to think a burger like this required breadcrumbs. However, I’ve found that with a couple binding ingredients like olive oil mayo and a coarse grain mustard, the bread simply isn’t necessary. I’ve adapted this recipe from a favorite  Williams Sonoma cookbook called Eating Well. These burgers are simply amazing cold, topping an amazing salad with avocado. But they can also serve as main dish with a flavorful aioli.

1 1/4 salmon filet (make sure it is boneless and skinned)
1 tb olive oil mayonnaise
1 tb Dijon coarse grain mustard
1 shallot
juice of 1/2 of a lemon
1 tb (or so) of freshly chopped parsley
1 tsp tamari sauce (can substitute soy sauce)
salt and fresh pepper to taste (remember that the tamari is salty)
olive oil for the pan

Coarsely chop the shallot and put in a food processor. Cut the salmon into large pieces and add to the food processor. Pulse several times until the salmon has been cut finely. Put the fish into a bowl, and combine with the rest of the ingredients. Heat a non-stick pan, and brush with olive oil. Form fish into patties, and drop onto pan. Fry, about 4 minutes on each side, until they are nicely golden.

I am partial to these served cold, when the flavors have the chance to meld together.