Favorite Watermelon Salad

We were lucky enough to spend the Fourth of July in Lake Chelan at the Foster lake house.  It was a week of fun in the sun, in the water, and with extended family.  We attended the neighbor’s Fourth of July potluck, and there tasted what is hands down my favorite watermelon salad.  Kathy procured the recipe, from Sunset Magazine, and Simon and I had the opportunity to make it together.  Hope you like it too!

Here’s what you need:

1 small watermelon cut into large cubes

2 Persian cucumbers, cut into slices

1/2 cup olive oil

2 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1 tablespoon champagne vinegar

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

1 tablespoon chopped mint

1 small shallot, minced

1 Serrano chile, stemmed, ribbed and seeded, then minced

A couple handfuls of arugula

Salt to taste

Additional options:  Chopped up feta cheese, chopped up hard goat cheese, cut up avocado, thinly sliced red onion or some quick-pickled red onion (to make just combine one red onion, some kosher salt, and some lemon juice in a container and refrigerate overnight)

Here’s what you do:

1. Cut up the watermelon and cucumbers.  Put in a bowl.

2. Make the vinaigrette:  In a jar, add the olive oil, lime juice, vinegar, cilantro, mint, shallot and chile.  Shake well to combine.

3.  Pour the dressing over the watermelon and cucumber.  Then stir in the arugula.  Add salt to taste.


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Light and Fluffy Yogurt Lime Cake

After spending the day with Gigi and Great Grandpa, we came home with a bag full of mini limes.  We turned to the internet for some recipe ideas and found one without butter, and that incorporated yogurt, on the Smitten Kitchen website.  Last night we were able to whip this up before Simon was out of his high chair, and the result was absolutely delicious.

Here’s what you need:

1 cup yogurt (we used full fat Fage)

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 cup sugar

zest from a couple of mini limes (or one regular lime)

1/4 cup fresh lime juice

2 eggs

1 2/3 cups flour

1.5 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Here’s what you do:

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9″ round cake pan.

2.  In a bowl, whisk together the yogurt, oil, sugar, zest and lime juice.  (At this point, Simon was more than happy to sample the beginnings of the batter, and loved it.)

3.  Whisk the eggs in one by one.

4.  Add the flour, baking powder and baking soda to the bowl and whisk until just combined.

5.  Pour into the prepared cake pan and bake for about 35-40 minutes until it is golden brown and a cake tester in the center comes out clean.


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Spinach Pasta Bake

Bowl of baked spinach pastaIf you like spinach lasagna, you will like this.  Actually, lasagna was what I had in mind, but we had shells, and that seemed easier, so I went with a baked pasta that only took about 25 minutes to assemble and was so delicious and bonus – filled with lots of green goodness.  Hope you like it!  (And Grandma, if you are reading this, yes, I froze some for you!)

Here’s what you need:

1 pound uncooked pasta (shape of your choice)

A couple of tablespoons of olive oil

1 onion, diced

3 zucchini, diced

1.5 cups shredded mozzarella

1/2 cup shredded Parmesan

A few tablespoons of garlic paste (I use the squeeze tube kind you can find in the refrigerated section of the grocery store)

2 pounds fresh spinach or baby spinach or baby kale or a combination

1 pound cottage cheese (you can do low fat, but I did full fat)

30 oz. ricotta cheese (you can do low fat, but I did full fat)

1 teaspoon chopped fresh basil or dill OR 1 tablespoon dried basil

salt and pepper

Here’s what you do:

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees

2. Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package, but cook it about two to three minutes less so it still has a crunch.  (It will absorb water from the veggies when you bake it.)

3. While the pasta is cooking, heat up the olive oil and saute the diced onion for a few minutes.  Then add the diced zucchini and saute for another 5 minutes or so.

4. When the pasta is done, drain it and stir it with a handful of the mozzarella, a smaller handful of the Parmesan, and a big scoop of cottage cheese.  Then stir in the zucchini mixture.

5. Spray a lasagna baking dish, or a large heavy-bottomed pot (like a Le Creuset).  Spread the pasta mixture in the bottom of the pan.

6. Add the garlic paste to the saute pan over medium-high heat.  (If there is no oil left over, add a little more olive oil.)  Let it cook about a minute, and then dump in one pound of the spinach.  Add about 1/2 cup of water, and let the spinach wilt (stirring occasionally), about three minutes.  Once wilted, remove from the pot, roughly chop, drain some of the liquid in a colander, and then put in a big bowl.  Repeat with the other pound of spinach (but no need to add garlic a second time).

7. When all the spinach is done, add in the ricotta, the remaining cottage cheese, herbs, salt and pepper to the bowl.  Mix well.

8. Spread the spinach mixture over the pasta mixture.  Then sprinkle the remaining shredded cheese over the spinach mixture.

9. Bake covered for about 25 minutes.  Then remove the cover, turn up the heat to 400 degrees, and cook for another 10 minutes until the top is brown and bubbly.

Enjoy!Baked Spinach Pasta

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Cheesy Baked Spinach

Baked SpinachThe first time I made this dish, I was cooking for Grandma and Grandpa, and one of their favorites is spinach.  The second time, I played with it a bit and put it together for Thanksgiving.  It was delish both times, but I definitely like the second version better.  The spinach in this dish is perfectly cooked, the cheese melted and delicious, and the whole thing a perfect accompaniment to any meal.  This was adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s The Best Baked Spinach.

Here’s what you need:

3 pounds baby spinach

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1.5 tablespoons flour

1 cup stock or milk or cream or a combination (I did vegetable stock and a little 1% milk)

2 to 2.5 cups grated Gruyere cheese (or swiss cheese)

Here’s what you do:

(1) Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and butter a shallow baking dish.

(2) Rinse your spinach. Add to a large pot over high heat, and cook until wilting and softening, about 5 minutes.  Transfer to a colander and immediately rinse with cold water.

(3) Working in small amounts, squeeze as much of the water out of the spinach as possible.  Roughly chop the spinach.

(4) Wipe out the pan and melt the butter over high heat.  Add the spinach and cook until it starts to dry (when spinach starts to stick to the pan), about 5 minutes.

(5) Lower the heat, sprinkly the flour, and stir for two minutes.  Then add the stock/cream/milk and allow to simmer for about 5 minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated.  Season with salt and pepper.

(6) Stir about half the cheese into the spinach mixture and pour into the baking dish.  Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.  Bake until heated through and bubbly, about 30 minutes.Baked Spinach



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Persian Herb Soup with Lentils, Rice and Lamb Meatballs

Herb SoupSince Patrick loves lamb, any lamb recipe that I come across usually gets at least a second look.  This one was particularly interesting because it was for a soup that had lentils, rice, herbs and lamb meatballs – a pot of deliciousness that we could all enjoy, and it was similar to ash joe, a favorite Persian stew.  And now that Simon is working on solid-er (is that a word?) foods than just purees, this seemed perfect for him.  I adapted this from a Food & Wine recipe.  Hope you enjoy!

Here’s what you need:

For the soup:

3/4 cup lentils, soaked overnight

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 yellow onion, thinly sliced

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon coriander

1/2 teaspoon cumin

3/4 cup white rice (I did arborio.  You want something with a little shorter grain because it is glutinous and helps contribute to the thickness of the soup)

10 cups of water

1 large bunch cilantro, leaves and tender stems finely minced

1 large bunch parsley, leaves and tender stems finely minced

1 small bunch mint, leaves and tender stems finely minced

2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses (Note:  I purchased a bottle of this at a local Persian market.  I’m sure you can also find it on Amazon.  This ingredient is sweet and sour and really adds some depth to the flavor of the soup.  You could always add some lemon or lime juice squeeze before serving to help mimic this flavor if you can’t get this ingredient.)

For the meatballs:

3/4 pound ground lamb

1 yellow onion, grated or finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

Here’s what you do:

(1) Heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onion and spices and cook until it begins to soften, about 5-10 minutes.Onions for Herb Soup

(2) Add the lentils (drained), the rice and the water.  Bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer and cover, stirring occasionally, until the soup thickens and the lentils and rice soften, about 1.5 hours.

(3) While the soup is cooking, make the meatballs.  Combine the four ingredients and roll into teaspoon sized meatballs.

(4) After cooking the soup for 1.5 hours, add the chopped herbs and cook for another 30 minutes.  Then stir in the pomegranate molasses.

(5) Add the meatballs and allow to cook for another 30 minutes.

You can serve topped with crispy onions or as is.  You may want to add salt to taste.  If you want to make this vegetarian, just omit the meatballs.

Enjoy!Herb Soup

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Carrot, Garbanzo & Golden Raisin Salad with Tahini Dressing

Carrot Salad For Rosh Hashanah, I was tasked with bringing a side.  And because I wanted it to be dairy free, I looked at Smitten Kitchen’s recipes for vegan dishes and came across this carrot salad.  It was such a hit that one attendee went back for thirds and asked where she could find the recipe.  This salad is delicious, flavorful, and even packed with protein.  I liked it so much I made it a second time the same week!Shredded Carrots

Here’s what you need (the recipe can easily be doubled so you have enough to share and have leftovers):

For the crispy garbanzos:

1 can garbanzo beans

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

For the rest of the salad:

1 pound carrots, peeled and grated

1 cup golden raisins

For the dressing:

1/4 cup parsley

2 garlic cloves

1/4 cup lemon juice

3 tablespoons tahini

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons water

Here’s what you do:

(1) Crispy garbanzos:  Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Drain, rinse, and pat dry the garbanzo beans.  Toss them with the 1 TB olive oil, the cumin and the salt.  Roast in the oven for about 15 to 20 minutes until they are turning golden and slightly crispy.  Remove and set aside.Crispy Garbanzos

(2) Dressing:  Make the dressing by combining all dressing ingredients in a food processor or blender until smooth.

(3) Make the salad:  Mix together the carrots, raisins and chickpeas.  Then toss with the dressing.Carrots and Raisins



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Salmon with Lemon and Dill, Roasted in “You Had Me At” Butter

Roasted SalmonI’m always looking for ways to entertain myself while breastfeeding.  For those of you who have done it, you know it takes a fair amount of your time.  In the age of smartphones, of course I am always checking out Instagram.  Not that I really ever post anything there, but I like to see what other people are posting.  And luckily it’s gotten more fun so I can actually read some good jokes or see some yummy pictures of food.  During one of these perusals, I came across a quick time lapse video of a simply roasted salmon recipe from the NY Times.  I made it last night and seriously couldn’t believe how good it tasted.  I hope you enjoy just as much as we did.  And credit for the title goes to my friend Kate – her reaction when I shared the recipe.

Here’s what you need:

1.5 – 2 pound salmon filet – I used scottish salmon because it retains its moistness

4 tablespoons butter

4 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

1 lemon, cut into four wedges

salt and pepper

Here’s what you do:

(1) Preheat your oven to 475 degrees.

(2) Put the butter and half the dill into a roasting pan just large enough for your salmon.  Put in the oven for about five minutes so it melts and the dill starts to sizzle a bit.

(3) Dry off your salmon with paper towels.  Put the salmon into the melted butter pan, skin side up.  Roast for 5 minutes.

(4) Remove the pan from the oven and peel off the salmon skin.  It should come off really easily!

(5) Season with salt and pepper.  Then flip the salmon over.  Season that side with salt and pepper, then squeeze two wedges of lemon over the salmon and sprinkle some more dill.  Put back into the oven for another 5-12 minutes, depending on thickness and how well done you like it.  Mine took about 12 minutes, and I took it out at 5 and 10 to cut it up a bit so the thick middle part would cook all the way through.

(6) When it’s fully cooked to your liking, squeeze the third lemon wedge and sprinkle with the remaining dill.  Serve with some of the butter sauce drizzled on top.


Roasted Salmon

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Apple Yogurt Cake

Apple Yogurt CakeIn Northern California, summer is the time for Gravenstein apples.  Sweet and tart, they are perfect for baking.  And thanks to Nicki – and Danielle’s tree – I had a good load of them just waiting to be eaten.  They were delicious mixed into this simple coffee cake.  (Adopted from Smitten Kitchen.)  The cake was moist and satisfying.  Hope you like it!

Here’s what you need:

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour

1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

4 eggs

1 1/4 cup sugar

1 cup plain Greek yogurt (I did 2%)

juice from one lime + 1 teaspoon lemon extract OR juice from one lemon

1/4 cup apple brandy

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons basic olive oil

3 cups finely diced peeled and cored tart, firm apples (about 3 medium apples)

Here’s what you do:

(1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Butter and flour a 9″ baking pan.

(2) In a smaller bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder.  Set aside.

(3) In a big bowl, beat together the eggs and sugar until fluffy and pale yellow (a few minutes).  Beat in the yogurt, citrus juice (and extract if using), and brandy, until smooth.

(4) Working in batches, beat in the flour and alternate with the olive oil.

(5) Gently, but fully, mix in the apples.

(6) Pour the cake into the pan and tap on the counter to level off.  Smooth the top with a spatula.  Then bake for 55 to 65 minutes – until the top is golden and a toothpick comes out clean.

Apple Yogurt Cake


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Chili Mac and Cheese II (or No Pre-Cook Mac & Cheese)

Mac & CheeseFullSizeRenderA while ago, I posted a recipe for chili mac and cheese.  Recently, I was deciding what to cook for Rose Friday, our mommy and me’s weekly get together, and I came across a recipe for mac and cheese that required no pre-cooking.  I spruced up the recipe to add some veggies and protein, and made this.  This recipe makes a really good-sized pan of mac and cheese, so feel free to cut it in half if you don’t want too many leftovers.  This is based on a recipe from Smitten Kitchen and the NYTimes.  (Apologies for the limited pictures, I had to put this together quickly, and then we gobbled it up fast!)

Here’s what you need:

2 cups full fat cottage cheese

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon mustard

4 cups milk, divided into 1 cup and 3 cups (I did 2% – I would recommend that or whole milk)

2 pounds shredded cheese (I did half extra sharp cheddar, half jack; I recommend grating yourself – and not buying pre-shredded – as it melts better)

1 pound elbow pasta, uncooked

2 handfuls cherry tomatoes, cut in half

3/4 cup chopped sweet peppers (or bell peppers)

1 can black beans, drained

1 can kidney beans, drained

(UPDATE:  If you want to make this as regular mac & cheese like you see in the first picture above, just omit the tomatoes, peppers, beans and spices, add 1 tablespoon mustard and 1 tablespoon ketchup, and feel free to mix up the cheeses)

Here’s what you do:

(1) Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and butter a 9×13 baking dish.

(2) In a blender or food processor, combine the cottage cheese, spices, mustard, and 1 cup milk.  Blend until smooth.

(3) In a large bowl, mix together the cottage cheese mixture, the remaining milk, 3/4 of the cheese, the pasta (uncooked), the tomatoes, the peppers, and the beans.

(4) Pour the macaroni mixture into the buttered pan, cover tightly with foil, and bake for 30 minutes.  (I also recommend putting a larger cookie sheet under the pan so the liquid doesn’t boil over into the oven.)

(5) After 30 minutes, remove the foil, lightly stir the macaroni, and then sprinkle the remaining cheese on top of the macaroni.  Return to the oven uncovered and bake for another 30 minutes.

(6) Remove from the oven and allow to cool at least 15 minutes before eating.


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MokimoTo meet her newest grandson, Simon’s Cucu (pronounced sho-sho), his grandmother from Kenya, came to visit.  In an attempt to make some Kenyan food, Patrick and I darted around the kitchen and made mokimo, a dish that combines potatoes, corn and greens, as well as a chicken curry that a website told me was “Kenyan” (not sure it really was, but either way, it tasted great).  It was a delicious family dinner that I hope you will enjoy.  Granted my mokimo wasn’t spot on for a traditional texture, but it was yummy!

Here’s what you need:

2 very large potatoes

3 ears corn

2 heads greens (we did kale, but a more traditional choice would be something that breaks down more easily, like pumpkin leaves)

2 tablespoons butter or oil (or more to taste)

salt and pepper to taste

Here’s what you do:

(1) Cook the potatoes.  We peeled ours, cut them up, and microwaved them until they were soft.

(2) Cook the corn.  We shucked ours, placed a damp paper towel on top, and microwaved for about 3 minutes.

(3) Prepare the kale.  First, we steamed it by removing the leaves from the stems, putting them in a dish with some water in the bottom, covering the leaves, and microwaving for about 3 minutes.  Then, we blended the leaves in a food processor.

(4) Prepare the dish.  First, mash the potatoes with the butter or oil and salt and pepper.  Then stir and mash in the kale or other cooked greens.  Finally, stir in the corn.  Then further season with salt and pepper until it tastes good.  (You can also stir in mashed beans if you like!)


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