beef noodle bowls with sesame ginger dressing.

I’ve been trying to get more iron into my diet. I recently had some blood work, and it was revealed that I’m pretty deficient in my iron stores. I’ll soon be starting on some iron supplements, but I truly believe that the best way to get essential vitamins and minerals is through food. Since beef is one of the most well-known sources of iron, I figured it was the perfect starting point. I had a beautiful, lean top round steak in my freezer, and one Friday evening I decided to grill it up. It was nearly 1.25 pounds, so I had a lot leftover. Regular leftover steak sounded boring, so I made the leftover meat a focal point into a brand new, remade dish: asian beef noodle bowls.
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What a hit. Delicious cold, room temperature or hot, this is the ideal lunchtime food. I ate it cold on day one, and heated up the next day at work and both were equally delicious. You can bulk out the noodles with extra vegetables, and a delicious, luscious sesame ginger dressing. The dressing is thin, but coats the noodles, vegetables, and meat in the more delicate way. Give this a garnish with some sesame seeds and additional scallions, and you have a takeout-worthy dish that will simultaneously help you repurpose leftovers and clean out your vegetable crisper. Win-win!

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beef noodle bowls.
dressing adapted from The Pioneer Woman.

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ingredients
6-8 ounces leftover steak, thinly sliced (top sirloin, hanger, skirt, flank)*
4 ounces brown rice noodles or whole wheat thin spaghetti
1/2 cup white mushrooms, thinly sliced
3/4 cup shredded carrots
1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
3 scallions, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon sesame seeds (optional)
1 teaspoon olive oil

salad dressing:
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce (or 1/4 cup tamari)
1.5 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon avocado oil (can use olive or grapeseed)
1.5 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon hot chili oil
1 tablespoon brown sugar OR coconut palm sugar
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely minced

directions
Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain and place in a large bowl. Meanwhile, take the leftover steak out of the fridge to pull the chill off of it.

Make the dressing: Combine the ingredients in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid. Shake vigorously until well combined. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Heat a non stick skillet over medium heat. Add oil and swirl to coat. Once the oil is heated, add the mushrooms, carrots and pepper and cook for 3-5 minutes, or until just slightly tender. Remove vegetables and add to the noodles. Add the scallions and beef and 1/2 of the dressing and toss to combine, adding more to your taste.

Divide amongst two bowls and top with sesame seeds. Eat cold or warm.

Serves 2.

**Please use grass fed beef and organic ingredients wherever possible**

Note: If you do not have leftover steak, you can simply sprinkle your choice of steak with sea salt and pepper and grill for 4-5 minutes per side, until medium rare. Let rest and slice, proceeding with the recipe.

 

 

 

sweet + tangy cucumber salad.

Can I give you one last hot weather recipe before the summer ends? I know it’s after Labor Day, but it was 90 degrees here yesterday, so I think it’s appropriate. This is an old school recipe, too. Cucumber salad. Not just any cucumber salad. A cucumber salad that teeters ever so slightly on the verge of too sweet, but yet somehow manages to stay just perfectly balanced between sweet and tangy. Ergo, the name of ‘sweet and tangy cucumber salad’ was born. I’m so clever.

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I received a container of this from my mom when she was visiting, courtesy of my grandmother, who sent it over from a picnic. My aunt was the one who had actually made it. I thought the original incarnation of this recipe was too sweet, so I cut back on the amount of sugar and oil, which is reflected in the recipe below. The onion becomes milder as it sits in the dressing, so I recommend making this at least an hour prior to serving.

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Take this to any end of summer picnics, and watch it disappear. Sometimes simple, family recipes really do take the cake.

sweet + tangy cucumber salad.
courtesy of my Aunt Terri’s recipe. image

ingredients 
2 cucumbers, peeled
1 onion, very thinly sliced
dressing:
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup white vinegar
1/3 cup grapeseed oil
1 tablespoon celery seed

directions
Combine the sugar, vinegar, oil and celery seed into a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, and simmer until sugar is dissolved. Turn off and let cool. Set aside.

Peel cucumbers (if desired) and thinly slice and equal amount of cucumbers and sweet onions. Cut about an 1/8 inch thick. In a large bowl, combine the cooled dressing and the vegetables. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour. Serve chilled.

Note: The onion’s sharp flavor will decrease as it marinates in the dressing.

Serves 6 as a side.

**Please use ingredients wherever possible** 

 

chicken taco stuffed zucchini boats.

I know this is my second zucchini recipe in a row, but if you’re anything like me, you are positively overflowing with zucchini right now. I tell you, every summer! My grandmother gifted me with a few from her garden, and while most of them were of normal size, there was one gigantic squash. I stuck it in the refrigerator while I waited for inspiration to strike. I had just made cookies, so I didn’t want to use it for another baked good. I wanted to use the whole thing in one dish, so I decided on stuffed zucchini, or zucchini ‘boats’! I decided to play around with the flavors for this recipe, and went with Mexican flavors.

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Stuffed with Tex-Mex spiced ground chicken, hearty healthy black beans, and rounded out with some extra vegetables, and we have a very healthy take on tacos!

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Naturally gluten free, the filling is chock full of protein, thanks to the black beans and lean ground chicken. If you’re avoiding dairy, just omit the jack cheese and the cotija.

Now I had a huge squash, so a quarter of the squash would serve on person. If you have normal sized zucchinis, you can plan on one half per person for a medium sized one, or two halves for a small squash. This comes together quickly and is so incredibly filling!

chicken taco stuffed zucchini boats. 

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ingredients
2 large or 4 medium zucchinis, halved lengthwise with seeds scooped out
1/2 pound ground chicken
1 15 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 small onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 yellow bell pepper, diced
1 cup of zucchini, diced
1.5 tablespoons of taco seasoning (homemade or purchased)
1 10 ounce can of fire roasted tomatoes with chiles
1/4 cup of salsa, plus extra for serving
monterey jack cheese, for serving
cotija cheese, for serving
cilantro, for serving
sea salt
black pepper

directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet by spraying with non-stick cooking spray. Lightly spray each zucchini half. Place skin side up and bake for 10-15 minutes, until just slightly softened. Remove from oven and set aside. Increase oven temperature to 425 degrees.

Heat a large, heavy bottomed skillet over medium high heat. Add a drizzle of grapeseed oil. Once the oil is shimmery and hot, add the chicken. Cook for 4-5 minutes or until no longer pink. Add the onion and garlic and cook for an additional 2 minutes until the onions are translucent and beginning to soften. Add your taco seasoning blend, salt and pepper. Add in bell pepper and zucchini and cook for 1-2 minutes, until they begin to soften. Add in fire roasted tomatoes with chiles and salsa. Stir well to combine and allow to simmer softly until everything is heated through and the flavors combine (about 5 additional minutes).

To assemble: Divide the chicken mixture evenly amongst the zucchini boats, top with desired melting cheese (NOT cotija) and put into the oven. Bake for 2-3 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

Serve, topping with cotija and cilantro. Serve with additional salsa if desired.

Serves 4.

**Please use organic ingredients wherever possible** 

 

zucchini lemon cookies.

Two dessert recipes in a row! I’m not sure what has gotten into me, but I kinda like it. Granted, desserts tend to be a touch more time consuming then putting together a salad or pizza, but I assure you this cookie recipe is easy, can be done without an electric mixer, and comes together in under 30 minutes, prep and baking time included!

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These are cake like in texture — a soft and buttery base and a pillowy texture. They reminded me of a yeast free British tea cake. The addition of lemon zest and juice make them undeniably bright and fresh with a slight vegetal undertone of the zucchini. These are great for your garden’s surplus of this super versatile vegetable! Serve with a latte or tea for an afternoon snack, or even breakfast. I won’t tell!

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zucchini lemon cookies.
adapted from Food52 cookbook.

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ingredients
2 cups unbleached, all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of coarse sea salt
1/2 cup of unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
2 tablespoons freshly grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
1 cup of shredded/grated zucchini

directions
Preheat oven to 350 degree. Line a baking sheet with parchment or aluminum foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat together the softened butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add in the egg and whisk. Add the zucchini and lemon zest and juice until well combined. Add the flour mixture in thirds, mixing until just combined. Do not over mix or over beat if using an electric mixer.

Spoon rounded tablespoons on to the baking sheet. Bake for 16-18 minutes. Let cool for 1-2 minutes on the baking sheet and then transfer to a cooling rack.

Keep in an airtight container. Makes 24 cookies.

**Please use organic ingredients wherever possible** 

chocolate almond yogurt loaf cake.

I was in the rare mood to bake recently, and since I’m trying to eat healthy, I decided to make this as a gift. You see, my aunt recently passed away unexpectedly, so I thought I would make something to take over to my grandparents. Food is such a comfort to many of us, and since I know my grandparents (my grandmother in particular) are dessert people, I thought this was the perfect opportunity. Hello, chocolate almond cake.

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Although it is 2016, I STILL bake with all manual tools; i.e., no fancy mixer for this girl! Give me a bowl, a spatula, and my arms, and I’m good to go! A mixer would probably make my life easier, but because I don’t do a whole lot of baking, I just can’t justify. Yet.

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If you’ve been a reader of mine for a while or have perused the (admittedly skimpy) desserts sections, you’ll know how much I love a pound-inspired cake. I say pound-inspired because I rarely if ever cook a true pound cake. That would be a super special indulgence! This cake is rich and have an unexpected flavor boost from the addition of the almond extract. If you don’t like or can’t eat almonds, simply swap out for vanilla or a flavoring extract of your choice! Peppermint, raspberry… let your imagine run wild! You could even add in nuts to the batter of this cake if you wanted, I just decided to keep it simple this time. Serve with an espresso and a good book. Delectable!

chocolate almond yogurt loaf cake.
adapted from epicurious.com. 

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ingredients
1 3/4 cups unbleached, all purpose flour
2/3 cup unsweetened dutch processed cocoa powder
1.5 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon sea or kosher salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cup coconut palm sugar (white is also fine)
1 cup plain 2% greek style yogurt
1/3 cup brewed coffee, cold or at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure almond extract
2 eggs
1/3 cup blanched, sliced almonds – optional

directions
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Spray pan with non-stick cooking spray, then dust with cocoa powder, shaking to remove excess.

Whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a bowl. Whisk yogurt with coffee and almond extract in another bowl and set aside. Beat butter with sugar in a large bowl using a whisk (or an electric mixer at medium speed) until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, whisking or beating after each addition. Add half of flour mixture. Add yogurt mixture, then remaining flour mixture, mixing until just combined. Batter will be very thick.

Transfer batter to pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 50-55 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack 15 minutes, then turn out onto rack to cool completely.

Makes one loaf. Serves 6.

**Please use all organic ingredients wherever possible** 

raw corn + grilled zucchini quinoa with smoky lime vinaigrette.

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This salad is so simple and perfect for hot late summer days. It makes an amazingly simple dinner, and is even better the next day for lunch. I like this both warm and at room temperature. The salad is both gluten free and vegan, but if you wanted to add some additional protein, I think grilled shrimp would be divine.

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I didn’t even cook the corn for this, I simply cut it off the cob and added it to the bowl. If you prefer, you can cook the corn, but I love the simplicity of sweet, raw corn. I also thought the juxtaposition of the grilled zucchini and raw corn was just lovely.

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The vinaigrette really takes this over the top though. The dressing gets some smokiness from the cumin, but we’re going to up the ante by grilling the limes. Yes! The squeezed juice will retain some of that smoky, caramelized flavor and will punctuate the finished dressing. Only a minute or two is needed on the grill (or grill pan!).

raw corn and grilled zucchini quinoa salad with smoky lime vinaigrette. 

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ingredients
2 cups cooked quinoa
3 ears of corn, kernels cut off the cobs
1 medium zucchini, sliced into 1/4 inch pieces
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, roughly chopped

dressing:
1-2 limes, grilled (see note below); 3 tablespoons of juice
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 garlic clove, peeled and smashed
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper

directions
Preheat grill or grill pan over medium-high heat. Lightly brush olive oil onto zucchini slices. Grill 2 minutes per side, oiled side down first. Oil the other side. Once barely tender, remove from heat. Slice down the middle vertically, and then rotate, cutting the slices into 1/2 inch pieces.

While the zucchini is grilling, cut the lime(s) in half. Grill the lime, cut side down, for 1 minute per side. Remove and juice the grilled lime halves. (*I had a very juicy lime, so one lime yielded more than enough juice).

Once you’ve juiced the limes, make the dressing. In a blender, add the lime juice, red wine vinegar, garlic, cumin, sea salt and pepper. Turn the blender on, and stream in olive oil until well combined.

In a large bowl, add the cooked quinoa, raw corn, grilled zucchini, cilantro, salt and pepper. Pour 2/3 of the dressing over the salad and toss gently to combine. Taste, and add the rest of the dressing if needed. Serve immediately, or at room temperature.

Serves 4 as a side.

**Please use organic ingredients wherever possible** 

green beans with roasted bell peppers.

This recipe just epitomizes summer to me. Easy, fast, fresh and bursting with flavors, thanks to local vegetables, adorned simply with good olive oil, sea salt and black pepper. That’s it. An incredibly simple side dish that is sure to become a mainstay on your dinner table, just like it is on mine.

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The most difficult part of this recipe is the blanching of the beans. You want to cook them until they are crisp tender, and then shock them in ice water, immediately stopping the cooking process. Once they are cool, you toss with the roasted peppers and onions and season with an extra drizzle of olive oil and pepper. So. Easy.

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This is great for a summer potluck or picnic, as it’s equally good warm or at room temperature.

green beans with roasted bell peppers.
barely adapted from Ina Garten, Barefoot in Paris.

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ingredients
1.5 pounds green beans, trimmed
1 sweet onion, large dice
1 yellow bell pepper, large diced
1 red bell pepper, large dice
sea salt
black pepper
2.5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

directions
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. While the water is coming to a boil, prepare the ice bath. In a large bowl, fill with cold water and 3-4 cups of ice. Once water is boiling, add green beans and blanch for about 4 minutes. Remove from pot and plunge into the ice bath, stirring to make sure all bean are submerged. Once they are cool, remove and drain.

Arrange the peppers and onions on an oiled baking sheet. Drizzle with 1.5 tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper until seasoned to your liking. Mix together until they are well combined. Roast for 12-15 minutes, stirring once halfway through. Remove from oven.

In a large bowl, gently toss the green beans and the peppers and onions together; drizzle with remaining one tablespoon of oil. Season with extra salt and/or pepper if desired. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Serves 6-8.

**Please use organic ingredients wherever possible**