Aioli Grilled Asparagus {Dairy Free}

Asparagus

Summer is almost over in the Pacific Northwest.  The uncharacteristically hot weather has been replaced with overcast skies, cooler temperatures and a sprinkling of rain.  Summer lovers are eeking out every ray of sunshine and late-afternoon warmth in preparation for a rainy autumn and winter ahead.

As for me, I’m eeking out every opportunity to utilize the grill before we are driven indoors.  I like the rain.  I like the cooler temps and deep greens and blues of the rainy season.  But I miss my grill.

I attempted many new recipes this summer, with many new ingredients.  Because cooking with fire is FUN.  Asparagus has been a favorite go-to for a summer veggie, and my new favorite asparagus recipe is simple, impressive, unusual and freaking tasty. All it takes is a bunch of asparagus, a little mayo and dijon mustard, fresh rosemary, cracked pepper, and you guessed it, a hot grill.

Don’t let a fancy words like “asparagus” and “aioli” fool you.  Asparagus is full of important vitamins that naturally boost energy and immunity. And as for aioli? It’s just mayonnaise with something added to alter the flavor profile.  For this recipe, I used mayonnaise in place of oil and it turned out superbly. It adds a complex flavor and richness that oil misses.  I am sure this will work in the oven, as well.  But, you know. Summer.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb of asparagus, trimmed
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 Tbsp dijon or stone ground mustard
  • 1 Tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1 tsp cracked pepper
  • 1 tsp sea salt

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients, except asparagus, in a small mixing bow. Call this “aioli”.
  2. Coat asparagus in aioli mixture.
  3. Place asparagus on hot grill and cook until asparagus is slightly tender, and the outer skin crisps up a bit.
  4. Sprinkle a little sea salt on top, and serve immediately.

If asparagus is your dish, you will fall in love with it and impress your friends and family at your Labor Day gathering this weekend.  Or at the very least, give them stinky pee.

I hope your Labor Day is filled with love,
Carrie

Garden Vegetable Frittata

FrittataQuarterViewI need to intentionally out myself here.

I am burned out with cooking. And a large part of my mission in life is cooking. Changing the conversation around food, around bodies, around babies and single people and periods and sex and family and allergies and wholeness and therapy and kombucha and…ALL OF IT.

I just have one small problem.

I want to flame my tiny pink kitchen down to the ground. Ignight it. Light it up and watch it burn down in a blaze of glory, a la Bon Jovi. (I will gladly let you film this spectacle as I stand in the middle of the flames wearing nothing but my mom jeans and an old leather vest that belonged to my grandma in the 1990s with my son’s pink ukulele strapped to my back in exchange for a lifetime of free Chipotle.)

Then I want to walk away, and never look back. 

This isn’t about food. This isn’t about my outdated micro kitchen. This isn’t even about my mission.

This is about self-care.

Last week, I started doing the thing where I eat trail mix for breakfast with a cup of coffee. Then I eat the same thing for lunch. I might grab a handful of cherry tomatoes or eat some cucumber slices off my son’s plate during lunch and start congratulating myself for making vegetables a “priority”. By the time dinner rolls around, I’m ravenous, have a terrible case of the bitchies and lose my words, so I groan and cry and end up laying on my bed in complete despair when I should be making dinner for my family. That is the moment when I want to douse my kitchen in gasoline, light it up with my Namaste candle and run away.

The trail mix is a bad sign, my friends. It means I’m giving up. I HATE GIVING UP. But sometimes I hate the process of not giving up more. It feels good to pretend I can’t cook. It feels like a whole lotta relief to plan to cook dinner and then say “eff it” at the last minute and orderThai takeout instead. It’s like a shot of heroin or the feeling you get when you cancel plans last minute because you want to stay home and watch Netflix in yoga pants and you have a legit, last-minute reason to do it.

Don’t get me wrong.  These food hacks are totally okay. We all hit our max, and sometimes we live at our max for extended periods of time without much relief.  There are seasons. I get it. I’ve been there.

But this isn’t it.

This is abandoning my commitment to taking care of myself.  So, now that the world knows what that looks like, here’s what maintaining my commitment to taking care of myself looks like.

(Note: It might look differently for you, so no judgment here.  Pound that trail (mix).)

Ready?
  1. Hot breakfast.
  2. The end.

I don’t eat many grains because, with the exception of rice and sometimes oats, they really tear my stomach up.  Plus, I FEEL better when I eat a protein and veggie heavy breakfast during the rest of the day. I like the feeling of something warm in my belly, too. It reminds me that my body is served best when I care for it in small ways.  Plus, I don’t have to fight the trail mix bitchies.

What prep looks like in my tiny pink kitchen.
What prep looks like in my tiny pink kitchen.

Here is my plan of action: Fritatta. I make one large fritatta, portion it out into individual servings, and heat it up in the toaster oven while I get ready in the mornings.  This is all it takes to make me nice.  Well, this and a cup or seven of coffee.

This simple, humble little egg dish is great.  You can make a million different variations of it, but here is my absolute favorite. The fact that I can go outside and gather many of these ingredients from my garden is a total bonus.

Ingredients:

  • 12 eggs
  • 1 cup cheese (I prefer parmesan or asiago)
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 1 lb of browned sausage or cooked bacon, crumbled (I prefer mild Italian sausage, but you can skip meat altogether to make this vegetarian.)
  • 1 medium onion, sauteed
  • 12 oz chopped broccoli
  • 2 medium zucchini, chopped
  • 2 large tomatoes or 1 pint of cherry tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 large bunch of swiss chard or spinach, roughly chopped
  • 3 Tbsp of fresh herbs of your choice, or 1 Tbsp dried herbs. (I use rosemary, basil, and thyme from the garden)
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes (if not using sausage)

Directions:

  1. Whisk together eggs, milk, herbs, salt, and pepper.  Mix in shredded cheese.
  2. Add protein and veggies, and mix thoroughly.
  3. In a large, greased baking dish, bake at 350 degrees for one hour, or until the middle is cooked all the way through.
  4. Remove from oven and serve immediately.  Cut into individual portions and reheat in the oven or toaster oven for 12 minutes at 350 degrees.

FrittataCloseUp

My individual frittata portions are hanging out in my fridge, ready to be heated and eaten all week long. I blasted Bon Jovi’s greatest hits while prepping and cooking and cleaning up the kitchen to make this all a little more tolerable.  But I digress. I WILL TAKE CARE OF MYSELF THIS WEEK.  I hope you can, too.

Call Me Young Gun,
Carrie

 

 

 

 

 

Garden Tomatoes with Burrata Cheese

TomatoFinalMy garden is flourishing.  In fact, it’s not just flourishing, it’s growing enough food to feed a small army.  We are happy to share everything this mutant garden produces, except the tomatoes.

Have you ever tasted a super-ripe garden tomato that is one day away from turning to mush?

If your answer is no, you have not lived, my friend.
TomatoSlice
Perfection in a garden-grown tomato. No white, no chewy places, just super ripe goodness bursting with flavor.

After visiting one of my favorite Portland haunts with two of my favorite ladies and our husbands, I was inspired to find the biggest, ripest tomatoes and make a simple salad with quality ingredients.  Because flavorful, satisfying food doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated.  It just has to taste good.

I’ve been a fan of the traditional tomato mozzarella salad for many years.  Who doesn’t love mild, slightly creamy fresh cheese paired with the bright acidic flavor of a ripe tomato with a touch of basil?

(Okay, if you hate tomatoes or cheese, this is admittedly not the recipe for you.)

For the rest of the tomato loving world, this recipe will change the way you eat your tomato mozzarella salad.  In fact, you might never go back to store-bought tomatoes or mozzarella again after tasting this.

Burrata is a shell of fresh mozzarella, stuffed with cream and cheese curds.  It’s creamy, decadent, silky smooth, and provides the perfect accompaniment to those sweet, ripe tomatoes.

There are six ingredients to this and it takes roughly seven minutes to prepare.  But it is so impressive and addictive, I have a hunch you can get that prep time down to five minutes.  I will say this, though.  The quality of the ingredients is in direct correlation to the fantastic taste factor.  Without the quality ingredients I’ll list below, you will take this dish from a 10 to a 5.  So, if you want to do your tomatoes justice, spring for the ingredients.  You  won’t regret it.

TomatoCloseUp
I intentionally did not filter or tweak the colors in any of the pictures because I want you to see how beautiful and ripe these tomatoes are. It’s possible.

Ingredients:

  • 2 large, very ripe tomatoes from the farmer’s market or your garden. (Deep red, people. No orangey red.) Pick ones that are on the cusp of being too ripe.  You can also ripen them in a window sill for a day or two.
  • 1 ball of fresh burrata cheese (I found mine at Whole foods.)
  • 3-4 leaves of fresh basil, torn or roughly chopped
  • 1-2 Tbsp organic olive oil
  • fresh cracked pepper
  • kosher-style sea salt

Directions:

  1. Remove burrata from refrigerator, drain water, and set aside.
  2. Slice whole tomatoes one inch thick.
  3. Arrange tomato slices on a platter and top with basil, fresh cracked pepper, and salt.
  4. Place burrata in the center of the tomato slices. Lightly drizzle entire plate with organic olive oil.
  5. Serve and devour immediately.
  6. My husband and I ate this for dinner the other night.  Just this.  Nothing else.  Because we are adults who love good food and also don’t like expending energy on a 95 degree day unless we have to.

Toematoe Tomahhtoe,
Carrie

 

 

Grilled Summer Salad

I’m all about inventive grilling.  I often slather a little oil on whatever food I have on hand and then throw it on the barbeque.  Mango, bananas, bacon, whatever.

So, why not salad?

Romaine lettuce provides lots of crunch, and holds up well over the flames.  The charred green onion is a throwback to one of my favorite traditional Guatemalan dishes, and adds depth, sweetness, and a little spice.  Top with tomatoes and Goddess dressing, and you have one of the best salads ever.  Of all time.

Also, if you’re looking to impress folks at a cook out or win over a friend or family member to Team Salad, this is The dish. It’s simple, surprising and full of flavor.

Don’t have a grill?  No problem!  Use a stove-top grill pan instead.

Ingredients:

  • 2 hearts of romaine, sliced length-wise
  • 4 campari tomatoes, chopped (trust me, they’re worth the money!)
  • 1 bunch green onions
  • olive oil spray
  • dried Italian herbs
  • dressing of your choice, though I prefer something creamy like organic Goddess dressing with extra white wine vinegar for some pucker

Directions:

  1. Mist romaine halves and whole green onions with olive oil.
  2. Place romaine halves flat side down on the grill, and allow to char a bit.  Flip over and allow the rounded sides of the romaine to wilt and brown up.
  3. While lettuce is grilling and wilting, char green onions on the grill.
  4. When lettuce is charred and wilted, remove from grill and sprinkle with herbs, salt, pepper, dressing. Top with green onions and tomatoes.

Prepare to have a new favorite summertime dish!  You’ll need a fork and knife for this salad and it is well worth it.  Even veggie-hating littles will love this.

What lights your fire?
Carrie

Boozy Lamb Short Ribs

Short Ribs 1You know how you have friends coming over and you want to cook for them, but lack the kitchen space, air conditioning, and energy to execute it?

Yeah.  Me, too.

Here’s The Thing, though.  I am fairly certain my love language is food. And I’m also fairly certain I have conditioned my family and friends to receive my love in this manner.  Food is NOT love, but food can be a loving gesture in a world of convenience and fast meals.  What’s better than sitting down with friends and sharing a great meal, enjoyable conversation, and choice adult beverage?  Not much.

Also, food is effing delicious, so there’s that.

When I want to share the love and keep the temperature in my kitchen down while making the most of my limited energy, I always turn to my crockpot.  I used to have major bias towards slow cookers. I grew up with crockpots galore at church potlucks.  Everyone clamored for an outlet to plug in their pot before service started so their mystery dish would stay hot and avoid poisoning a whole congregation. It was a sea of crockpots

A couple of decades later, I decided to try to resurrect my slow cooker that was still sitting in my kitchen in the box from our wedding when my truly kind souled cousin gifted us with it. I got brave.  I bought the food.  I read a couple of blogs. I studied and sweated and prayed to the kitchen gods that it would all turn out beautifully.  It didn’t.

I ruined a 5 lb brisket.

$40 of beautiful, succulent, grass-fed meat totally ruined because I didn’t understand fully how to use my slow cooker.  I did not sear it.  I under-seasoned it.  I ADDED WATER. Then I cooked it on high for 4 hours.  It was totally inedible, but of course we ate it anyway because we have a strict budget and can’t afford to toss food when it doesn’t turn out well.  I nicknamed it the Brisket of Tears, because I wept when I ruined it, and again every time I ate the chewy, gray, tasteless meat.

A couple of years ago, I decided to master the crockpot.  I did a massive amount of research. After a week of fretting and praying and hoping that I could pull it off, I made a pork shoulder.  It was phenomenal.  It gave me confidence. And I went further into the slow-cooker abyss.

When I found a ridiculously good sale on New Zealand grassfed lamb, I knew I could execute it well.  My dish would not go the way of the church potluck or failed brisket attempt of 2009.  Nope.  It would succeed.

This is probably one of the best things I’ve ever tasted.  I’m not exaggerating in the least. The flavor of the lamb is complex and finishing the whole dish off in the oven to crisp up the fat made this dish completely decadent.

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 lbs of lamb riblets or short ribs
  • 1/2 cup dry vermouth
  • 1/3 cup olive or avocado oil (I prefer avocado bc of the mellow flavor)
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup(ish) fresh mint leaves
  • 1/4 fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup  fresh rosemary
  • 4-5 cloves garlic
  • 1 medium shallot or small onion, quartered
  • 2 tsp tumeric
  • 2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp (+) fresh cracked pepper
  • 1 tsp (+) salt

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients (except for lamb) in blender or NutriBullet.  Pulse until everything is combined.  Pour over lamb and marinate in a ziplock bag or covered dish for 2-12 hours, or if you’re in a hurry, skip the marination and use right away.
  2. Rub crockpot with a little oil, and put lamb and marinade in.  For best results, cook on Low for 6-8 hours.  Eight hours is optimal, but do what you can.
  3. When the lamb is finished in the slow cooker, transfer to a baking sheet and bake on 375 degrees for 20-30 minutes to crisp up the fat and caramelize.
  4. Garnish with chopped mint leaves and devour immediately.

Short Ribs 2I served this with a side of saffron infused basmati rice, pan fried mushrooms and sweet onion, along with a fruit-filled salad.  There wasn’t even a speck of lamb left on the bones, and we devoured an entire plate in 20 minutes flat.

You will love this.  Trust me.  Or don’t.  But take a chance.  And make friends with your crockpot this summer.

It feels good to be baaaaaad,
Carrie