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Category: eat less meat

  1. Tuesday, June 21

    A Healthy Twist on Classic Potato Salad

    When I discovered my next Newman’s Own “Own It” recipe challenge with Martha’s Circle involved utilizing one of their salad dressings, I immediately knew what I was going to make. Back when I was first married and still learning how to cook, Nate’s Gram Maynard was the one to teach me how to make potato salad. I loved her potato salad. Simple and classic, it always hit the spot. Not too sweet and not filled with too many surprises. (I’m not a big fan of surprises in potato salad.)

    Gram had a trick, one that I have never forgotten and have always used since. Once the potatoes are cooked and cut, instead of using vinegar, she would toss the potatoes in Italian dressing. You get your vinegar in there, along with a bunch of built-in seasonings. It’s a genius idea that I absolutely love.

    Since I needed to also add a “twist” to my potato salad recipe, I decided to go for a healthy twist. In fact, I went for three healthy twists on this classic!

    1. Replace the bulk of the mayonnaise with fat-free yogurt…less fat and the health benefits of yogurt to boot!
    2. Leave the skins on the potatoes…that’s where are all the vitamins are!
    3. Throw in some cauliflower…easily hidden, most people won’t even know it’s there (Nate didn’t notice after eating a whole serving) and this nutrient-packed veggie adds an additional healthy kick to the salad.

    And guess what? This healthier version of the classic potato salad tastes just like…potato salad! Go figure. Seriously, it tasted just like the much less-healthy version I used to make. These twists are here to stay!

    Classic Potato Salad with a Healthy Twist
    Prep time
    Cook time
    Total time
    • 3 pounds potatoes of your choice (I used russet this time around)
    • 2 hard boiled eggs, peeled and chopped small
    • 1½ cups cauliflower, chopped then steamed
    • ½ cup finely chopped sweet onion
    • ¼ – ½ cup Newman’s Own Lighten Up Italian Dressing
    • ⅓ cup mayonnaise
    • ⅔ cup fat-free strained Greek yogurt or other thick yogurt
    • ½ Tbsp. yellow mustard
    • ⅛ tsp. dry mustard
    • ½ tsp. salt
    • ¼ tsp. pepper
    • ¼ tsp. paprika
    1. Chop unpeeled potatoes into 1″ cubes. Add to a pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium and lightly boil 5-10 more minutes, until potatoes are easily pierced by a fork but not falling apart. Drain potatoes and put in refrigerator until cool. Feel free to fish out potato peels that have fallen off any potato pieces…some of them may do that after cooking.
    2. Mix together the potatoes, eggs, cauliflower and onion. Pour Italian dressing over the mixture and toss to cover.
    3. Mix together mayonnaise, yogurt, mustard, dry mustard, salt, pepper and paprika. Add to potato mixture and stir to combine.
    4. Place in a serving bowl and sprinkle with paprika. Eat!

    P.S. Part of my participation in this project with Martha’s Circle was my recipe featured in a Newman’s Own advertorial in Everyday Food (kind of like the last recipe I did with them, which appeared in Martha Stewart Living).

    CHECK. IT. OUT. My name, blog, recipe and photo are on the inside front cover of the July issue of Everyday Food! Somebody pinch me! Get out there and get a copy for your scrapbook! 😉

  2. Tuesday, May 3

    Beets That Are Pure Gold + Roasted Beet Salad

    I’ve tried to convince you to like beets before, and I’m not going to stop until I get at least one of you beet haters on the beet bandwagon. As a beet convert myself, I know it’s possible. And, today, I’m going to make it even easier for the beet haters to give them another try.

    Here’s the secret: eat golden beets. I don’t even know where you can find them because I found them in my CSA bag the week before Easter. But all of you (beet haters and lovers alike!) should try to find fresh, in-season, golden beets sometime. The flavor is milder and, well, just plain yummy. (I think the food magazines are knocking on my door after that amazing description.)

    Before I get you thinking golden beets don’t taste like beets, they do. And, I’ll be straight with you…the non-beet lovers at the Easter feast did not gobble these beauties up. But the non-beet lovers did admit these beets are better than your average, run-of-the mill red beet. I consider that success.

    Plus, they’re gorgeous. Seriously. My camera ate them up almost as enthusiastically as I did.

    Roasted Beet Salad with Spinach and Goat Cheese
    Prep time
    Cook time
    Total time
    • - Beets (golden if you can find them)
    • - Spinach
    • - Goat cheese
    • - Your favorite salad dressing…Girard’s Champagne dressing is awesome with this salad
    1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cut the greens and ends off of the beets and wrap each beet in some foil. Place in a roasting pan. Roast 40-60 minutes, until beets are pierced easily with a sharp knife. Let cool a bit, then peel of the skins.
    2. Slice beets then top with spinach, crumbled goat cheese and salad dressing.

  3. Tuesday, April 26

    60-Second Maple Brussels Sprouts

    A while back I shared a video showing how to make 60-second Brussels sprouts (thanks once again to my culinarily-geniused friend Lindsay for sharing that with me so long ago). The idea behind the recipe is that you slice the brussel sprouts thinly, allowing them to cook quickly (hence the 60 seconds), which keeps the sulfur from emerging and stinking things up.

    Nate’s parents were here for Easter and Nate’s dad loves Brussels sprouts. Pat was telling me how her niece Morrigan recently roasted Brussels sprouts with maple syrup, and that they were deeeeee-licious. I then told Pat about this quick cooking technique, which she had never tried. We decided to combine the two ideas and created a very delicious side dish for our Easter feast last week.

    It’s quick, it’s easy, and the subtle sweetness of the maple syrup complements the flavor of the Brussels sprouts really nicely. I may never use lemon again!

    60-Second Maple Brussels Sprouts
    Recipe type: Side Dish, Vegetables
    • 15-20 Brussels sprouts
    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 1 tablespoon butter
    • 2 tablespoons maple syrup (the real stuff!)
    • Salt & pepper to taste
    1. To see how to prepare the Brussels sprouts, click here and watch this handy dandy video. Here’s what you do in words: cut the Brussels sprouts in half lengthwise, cut out the core, then thinly slice the sprouts, so it looks like sliced cabbage for coleslaw (see photo above).
    2. Heat the olive oil and butter over high heat in a large skillet, preferably with high sides. Once the pan is hot, add the maple syrup, stir quickly, then add the Brussels sprouts. Cook them for 60 seconds, stirring throughout the cooking time. Remove from heat, season with salt and pepper, then serve immediately.

  4. Thursday, April 14

    CSA Fun: Green Garlic

    I officially have my first item from a CSA bag that I have never eaten before. And the winner of this coveted title is…green garlic.

    Here she is.

    I felt like I had to get it. After all, the farms where my produce comes from are in an area that is the garlic capital of the country. Green garlic is essentially young garlic that is often pulled by farmers to thin out the crop (although also harvested on purpose as it gains popularity). Green garlic has a milder flavor than garlic and is, apparently, delicious.

    So, what am I gonna do with this here green garlic? I don’t even know what it will look like when I cut into it! I’m thinking I might chop one up and sauté it with the asparagus we received in the same CSA bag. If any of you have ever used it and have ideas, please share! I need your wisdom!

  5. Thursday, March 17

    Butternut Squash Cauliflower Leek Soup…my first CSA creation!

    Happy St. Patrick’s Day, everyone! Every year I try to plan a fantastic green feast. And this year I still don’t know what I’m doing! However, I just took a gander at what we ate last year, and it was great inspiration. I think we’ll have green chicken piccata, green mashed potatoes (potatoes from our CSA bag) and baby broccoli (also from our CSA bag). I’m sad I didn’t get a corned beef to cook, but maybe we can get one on sale tomorrow and enjoy it a few days late!

    I do have a good non-green recipe to share with you today, however. Last week I was planning to make butternut squash soup, since I had ordered butternut squash with my CSA bag. When it arrived, I got two baby butternut squashes. While super cute, they weren’t going to provide quite enough squash for the recipe. However, I had three leeks in the bag and a beautiful head of cauliflower, so I made some modifications. The result – a deliciously buttery soup with great flavor!

    Butternut Squash Cauliflower Leek first CSA creation!
    A deliciously buttery soup with great flavor!
    Recipe type: Main Dish, Soup
    • 2 small butternut squashes (or the equivalent amount…probably about 2 pounds or so)
    • 3 leeks, green tops cut off, and leeks cleaned and chopped into 1-inch pieces
    • ½ head cauliflower
    • 2 T butter
    • about a teaspoon ground ginger
    • 5 cups chicken stock
    • salt and pepper to taste
    1. Half butternut squash and roast in the oven until easily pierced with a knife, 45-60 minutes. Steam cauliflower until cooked but not mushy.
    2. Melt butter in large soup pan. Saute leeks in butter 5-10 minutes, until soft. Add ginger and let cook a minute or two more. Add broth and bring to a boil. Carefully add cauliflower and scoop out the butternut squash from the skins and add to the pot as well. Reduce heat to low and simmer 20-30 minutes.
    3. Carefully blend soup in batches until it is all smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Eat!


  6. Thursday, March 3

    My First CSA Bag!

    As you may recall, my New Year’s Resolution was to join a CSA. Yesterday I picked up my first CSA bag! We truly are blessed with beautiful produce throughout the year here in California. The girls and I were super excited to get home and see what was inside. I decided to join Eating with the Seasons. A good friend highly recommended them and I liked that I can get eggs included with the weekly delivery as well as select what produce I want each week based on their supply. And, so far, their customer service has been really great, so I’m excited to work with them!

    Even though I can choose what I want delivered, I forgot to log-in last week, so this week’s bag was full of surprises. Happily, everything we received is produce we normally eat. Phew! I know part of the reason I am doing a CSA is to challenge myself to try new produce, but I must admit it’s nice to ease into the experience with food I know.

    We’re starting out with a Small bag each week to get a good idea of what we will use. Here is what we received this week. A dozen organic, local, humanely-raised eggs for only $4.50 (I’m getting this bi-weekly). Awesome, right? For veggies, a bunch of carrots, a HUGE acorn squash, two heads of butter lettuce and two big crowns of broccoli. For fruit, a bag of kiwi fruit, four apples and 6 tangelos (one of which I am eating right now – it’s delicious!).

    I have to say, I already feel more invested in my produce. How often do I let it go bad in the fridge? More often than I like to admit. But I’m determined to not have that happen with my CSA produce. Hopefully this means we end up eating more fruits and veggies overall! I’m very glad I made this our resolution and that we are finally jumping on the CSA bandwagon. I think it’s going to be a great experience.

  7. Thursday, February 10

    Santa Fe Salad

    Tonight we’re having Santa Fe Salad. I’ve linked to the recipe before, but I’ve never written about it. So here we are!

    I modified this recipe from a salad I used to order at a restaurant in San Diego. The biggest reason I like this salad is the cornbread croutons. They are YUM. I suppose ranch dressing doesn’t hurt either. 😉

    Santa Fe Salad
    Recipe type: Main Dish, Salad
    • 2 hearts of romaine, chopped up
    • 1 granny smith apple, chopped
    • Handful or two of cubed gouda
    • Cornbread croutons (see below)
    • 3 handfuls of corn (canned or frozen or fresh…whatever you’ve got!)
    • ½ can black beans, rinsed and drained
    • Chopped walnuts (optional – I always leave these out)
    • Thinly sliced red onion (also optional)
    • Chopped cooked chicken (optional – I never do the chicken, actually – but it would be a yummy addition)
    • Ranch dressing
    • BBQ Sauce (optional, good drizzled on the chicken)
    1. Combine all the ingredients and eat!

    Cornbread Croutons
    • Cornbread – premade is fine, jiffy mix is fine, I followed the simple recipe on the back of the cornmeal box for an 8″ x 8″ pan
    • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
    1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cube cornbread. Spread evenly on a cookie sheet and brush/drizzle with melted butter. Bake for 20 minutes, flipping the croutons over every 5 minutes so the bottoms don’t burn. Serve with Santa Fe Salad or any other salad that strikes your fancy. And, as I’m typing, I’m even thinking this might be a fun topper for chili!


  8. Wednesday, January 26

    Lettuce Wraps

    Not only did I actually get my grocery shopping done this week, but I finally made the lettuce wraps I’ve been planning for two weeks. Yea!

    These lettuce wraps were TASTY. We loved them and I’m so glad I finally tried my hand at lettuce wraps. I followed my friend Kristen’s recipe over on Dine and Dish, except I made a chicken mix instead of using ground beef. I also used green onions as a topping at the end, rather than cooking them into the meat. You could easily take either approach.

    I feel like most restaurants where I’ve had lettuce wraps serve them with iceberg lettuce. Kristen’s recipe called for Boston bibb or butter lettuce, which I liked better…it still had some crunch, but the leaves are more maleable and didn’t break when you wrapped them up.

    Our girls loved putting their lettuce wraps together. I let them spoon the chicken mixture onto their lettuce and sprinkle their green onions over top. They thought that was really fun. In terms of actually eating the wraps, well, Anna loved the filling, and Cate liked the lettuce. But I was able to get Cate to eat her chicken filling as well, she just didn’t love it as much as Anna. Bottom line, they’re a little tricky to eat as wraps for kids, but overall I think a mostly kid-friendly meal.

    Lettuce Wraps
    Modified from Dine and Dish (the Dine and Dish recipe uses ground beef, which Kristen says is delicious…so head on over to Kristen’s site for the ground beef version)
    Recipe type: Main Dish
    • Boston bibb or butter lettuce leaves (one head), rinsed and patted dry and set aside
    • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced into small cube-sized pieces (if you want to make this vegetarian, substitute the chicken for diced tofu)
    • 1 can water chestnuts, diced into small cube-sized pieces
    • Handfull of shiitake mushrooms, diced into small pieces (I actually didn’t add mushrooms this time around, but it’s an option)
    • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
    • ½ onion, diced into small pieces
    • 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced or pushed through a press
    • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
    • ¼ cup hoisin sauce
    • ground ginger
    • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
    • 1-2 tablespoons Asian chile pepper sauce (optional)
    • 1 (8 ounce) can water chestnuts, drained and finely chopped
    • 2 teaspoons Asian (dark) sesame oil
    • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
    1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Add chicken, onions and mushrooms (if using). Saute until chicken is cooked through. I lightly sprinkled some salt evenly over the chicken during this step.
    2. Sprinkle chicken evenly with ground ginger. Add garlic, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, vinegar, and chile pepper sauce to the chicken mixture and stir. Stir in chopped water chestnuts and sesame oil and heat through. (If you want to cook the green onions into the meat, add them with the water chestnuts and cook until the onions are just wilted.)
    3. Serve over lettuce leaves, topped with green onions, soy sauce and chile sauce.

    Speaking of chili sauce, I picked up this bottle of Maggi Sweet Chile Sauce at Safeway and it is YUMMY. It’s got some heat and a nice sweet flavor. So glad I stumbled on it at the store!

  9. Thursday, January 6

    Caprese Paninis, Garlic Basil Mayo and How to Make a Panini without a Panini Maker

    I love paninis. I’ve written about making them before, and I’m going to write about them again, just to prove my love. Paninis are simple to throw together, the variations are endless, and my girls {almost always} eat them. It’s a tasty, simple dinner option that I frequently turn to. Plus, I’m a sucker for any hot sandwich you put in front of me.

    My personal favorite panini is of the caprese variety. On this week’s menu post, Amanda asked if I would share the recipe. So, here we are!

    In addition to my “recipe” for caprese paninis (which, by the way, is not really a recipe nor anything all that original…but certainly tasty!), I have another “recipe” for some pretty darn yummy garlic basil mayonnaise, as well as how I make paninis without a panini maker {it can be done!}. This is a whopper of a post. Get ready.

    First, Caprese Paninis.

    Caprese Paninis, Garlic Basil Mayo and How to Make a Panini without a Panini Maker
    Super tasty!
    Recipe type: Main Dish, Sandwich
    • Panini bread or any delicious sliced bread
    • Fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
    • Fresh basil, chiffonaded (is that word?)
    • Tomatoes, your favorite variety, sliced
    • Olive Oil and/or Balsamic Vinegar and/or Garlic Basil Mayo (recipe below)
    • Salt & Pepper
    1. Place your sliced mozzarella cheese, basil and tomatoes on a slice of bread. Sprinkle some salt and pepper, then drizzle with a bit of olive oil and/or balsamic vinegar, or spread the bread with Garlic Basil Mayo before putting ingredients on the bread. Top sandwich with second slice of bread and cook in a panini maker or on the stove in a skillet with another skillet on top (see below for my oh-so-fancy technique) over medium heat. When side 1 is lightly browned, flip and cook until side 2 is browned and the cheese is melted.

    Second order of the day – Garlic Basil Mayonnaise. The inspiration for this comes from Cafe Borrone. When tomatoes are in season, they have this to-die-for Basil Melt, which is basically an open-faced caprese panini. They use a flavored mayonnaise that really puts this sandwich over the top. Tonight, I attempted to replicate the mayo. I’m certain it’s different, but it was still awesome and made for the best caprese panini I’ve made yet! (Note as of 10/2011: the menu this year says they use a thyme mayo, so next time I make this I’ll try throwing in some thyme!)

    Garlic Basil Mayo
    • Mayonnaise
    • Salt & Pepper
    • Fresh garlic clove
    • Fresh chopped basil, a few leaves’ worth
    • Thyme (haven’t tried this yet, but see note in the paragraph above)
    1. For three good-sized paninis, I simply scooped out about three spoonfuls of mayonnaise into a bowl. I threw in some basil, two shakes of salt, two shakes of pepper, and ½ of a garlic clove pushed through a garlic press. Mix together and spread on bread for Caprese Paninis.

    Last order of business…what to do if you do not have a panini maker. I’ve thought about buying one. My friend Jen who went to culinary school and is an amazing cook loves her panini maker almost as much as her knives. But, fact is, my non-panini-maker technique works fine, so whatever. Maybe one day I’ll get the real deal, but until then, here is what I do.

    I get two skillets that are the same size. (You could also use two different sized skillets and have the smaller one on top, but I’ll continue explaining the technique assuming you’re using two of the same size and explain why I like it.) I heat the pan over medium heat (my stove runs hot, so I actually do one tick lower than medium), with the second pan resting on top. Once the pan is heated, I place my sandwich in the bottom pan, then place the second pan on top of the sandwich and press down until the pans are resting on one another. This is why I like using the same size pans, the top pan just sort of rests in the right spot. I try to make sure the top pan stays parallel to the one below so my sandwich “squishes” evenly.

    I used to use two medium sized pans flat pans, but last summer I got two 12-inch Calphalon skillets, one of which is a grill pan. Now I can get those fun ridges in the sandwich. And I can cook two paninis at once. Love it!

    There you go, more than you ever wanted to know about how I make paninis. Bon Appétit!

  10. Tuesday, January 4

    My New Year’s Resolution: Join a CSA

    It’s the beginning of the year, which for many of us is a great time to make new (or revive old!) goals. Cate’s Kindergarten class even made resolutions for 2011. Cate came home from school with this completely adorable New Year’s Bell, with the following resolution: “In 2011, I will listen to my parents more.” Needless to say I am excited about her choice! (I love the illustration of her ear actively listening.)

    I’ve been thinking for weeks about what I want my 2011 New Year’s resolution to be. Last year’s resolution Eat Less Meat went really well, which puts a lot of pressure on this year’s resolution. Yesterday it finally hit me what I want to do: join a CSA. I’ve been thinking about doing this for years and am finally going to take the plunge. The great thing about this year’s goal is that it supports last year’s goal very nicely, so I can continue on my theme of eating more plants, less meat and less processed food. CSA stands for community-supported agriculture. Basically, a local farm or group of farms delivers produce weekly to a drop spot near your home. You pay a flat rate and get whatever happens to be in season. It’s a great way to eat seasonally and locally! Click here for more detailed info.

    Perhaps I should give a quick report back on last year’s Eat Less Meat goal, which was not about going vegetarian but about reducing our family’s demand for meat and processed foods. I feel like it was super successful and is something I have been able to incorporate into my daily life. I buy so much less meat than I used to, which has been beneficial to my pocketbook and my health. I am much more thoughtful about how I use meat and I really appreciate it when we do eat it. The resolution definitely has changed how I think when I buy food, and I am constantly aware and thoughtful about where my food comes from. I’m not perfect. Trust me. But I have made changes and I continue to do so in a sustainable and meaningful way.

    And to continue on with that success…CSA here I come! My goal is to not only join a CSA, but really learn how to use all the wonderful fruits and veggies that I will get each week. I’ve been scared to do it in the past because I know there will be produce that I don’t have experience with. But it’s going to be good for me to expand my horizons!

    Time for you to share some thoughts on resolutions. You know I love hearing from you!

    • If you participated with Eat Less Meat, let us know how it went!
    • If you are going to join a CSA like me, let me know – I don’t want to be alone on this journey!
    • If you’ve made any New Year’s resolutions, tell us about them – no matter what they’re about! Declaring a goal publicly definitely helps in keeping it. (The only reason I am so diligent about a weekly meal plan is because I have all of you watching!)

    Happy New Year!