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Greens and white bean gratin

Chard-gratin3

Don’t let the greens in this recipe dissuade you – this is not one of the healthier things you could make yourself for dinner. But even my toddler eats greens when prepared this way, and it’s written nowhere ever that greens must always be unadorned, chaste, pious. Sometimes they, too, deserve gilding, gusto, and zeal, and I’ll be the first to make that happen. Read more

Wild rice and Puy lentil bowl with roasted squash, za’atar, and tahini

Wildrice-tahini-bowl

One of the many strategies we utilize for keeping things moving along at home without too much chaos is to spend time on weekends cooking batches of meal components to put together at a moment’s notice. We usually cook a big batch of a grain, a bean or lentil, and a variety of roasted or otherwise cooked vegetables, and – if we’re really on top of our game – a sauce or two, maybe a big batch of soup, and some breakfast and snack items for Aldo (like smoothies poured into reusable pouches, a batch of these mini muffins, or some homemade Lara bars).

This meal was one that worked into that routine – I had planned out the combination ahead of time, but doubled the batches of rice, lentils, and squash and used those in other meals throughout the week. Leftover rice became gallo pinto with fried eggs for breakfast, lentils were mixed into pasta and other dishes for Aldo’s lunches, etc. etc. Weekday lunches for Aldo and I are commonly portions of grains and beans and vegetables in various configurations, heated in pans on the stove (or incorporated into packaged macaroni and cheese or Indian food – lest you think I do everything from scratch). Read more

Eggs poached in smoky tomato sauce

Eggs-smoky-sauce

As will come to the surprise of absolutely no one ever, getting a meal on the table becomes supremely more complicated with a kiddo who suddenly wants to participate in every step along the way. There are lids to take off, jars to pour out, “sauces” to make (a recent favorite – chicken stock, sugar, pepper, furikake, and parsley stems), and plenty of ingredients to taste (and then put back in the bowl). We’ve gotten better at identifying kitchen tasks that will keep him occupied, but overall these days all about simplifying. What’s quick, what’s tasty, what’s not going to turn our kitchen into a complete disaster? (Partial disaster is inevitable.)

This recipe is a perfect example of one of those dinners – hearty, straight-forward, consisting mostly of things we’re likely to have in our kitchen at any given time. A few eggs cooked in a hearty, smoky tomato sauce is a perfect main dish to accompany nearly any starch (bread, polenta, pasta, etc.) and can flexibly accommodate nearly any cheese or cooked vegetable you might have around. It comes together in one pan and requires surprisingly little attention, which might be better paid to the child gleefully trying to smash whole eggs on your cutting board. Read more

A duo of winter cocktails with Top Note Tonic: The Bitter Bee and The Woman About Town

top-note-cocktail-duo

When Sarah, Vicky, and I started Whisk, one of the projects we were most excited about was connecting our member blogs with Wisconsin-based artisan producers – providing opportunities for our members to expand their work and challenge themselves with new projects, and providing opportunities for local companies to showcase their products and grow their businesses. We’ve loved watching this part of our organization grow, and we each personally have loved getting to know local businesses and working with their products.

I am incredibly excited to be working with Top Note Tonics, out of Milwaukee. I generally hesitate to share recipes here that require specific products, but Top Note’s concept – boldly-flavored, non-alcoholic tonic concentrates made from whole botanicals and cane sugar – was a hard one to pass up, especially given how much I miss the pre-Aldo fun we used to have with testing and tweaking new cocktail recipes. I was excited about the potential for use in classic gin and tonics or other similar drinks, but I was also interested to see if they could be used in place of bitter liqueurs like Campari or Aperol, and for their potential as non-alcoholic apertifs that don’t just rely on sweetness, like most non-alcoholic mixed drinks tend to do. They sent samples of all five concentrates – four with a tonic-like bitter profile (Bitter Lemon, Bitter Orange, Gentian Lime, and Indian Tonic) and one Ginger Beer concentrate. I tasted each on their own and got to work putting together a recipe testing plan (which I’ve learned is very important when it comes to cocktail testing, unless you’re willing to let things get away from you a bit.)

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Whole wheat and rye muffins

whole-wheat-rye-muffins

There’s been nothing like feeding a growing, exploring, tiny new eater to inspire me to seek out new recipes, ingredients, and techniques – healthier, simpler, easier meals that fit into our new normal (a normal that includes a tiny, joyous, screechy, maniacal human tornado). I’m not sure how we’d survive without the minutely detailed weekly meal plans and grocery lists I put together every Friday, and planning for easy breakfasts is particularly necessary. Aldo isn’t one to wait for breakfast (neither am I, let’s be honest), and stumbling around pre-caffeine isn’t a good time to start contemplating that day’s first meal.

So nearly every week I plan to make something ahead – a few pans of granola, an egg bake, or a batch of something baked and tasty that we can pair with some yogurt and fruit for a quick, filling, satisfying breakfast. Because Aldo eats all of these things too, I’m newly inspired to incorporate fruits and vegetables, whole grain flours, and healthier sweeteners into my baking routine, and the recipe I’m sharing here is the most recent success (there have been others, too, and hopefully I’ll get those on the site soon). These muffins are made with half whole wheat and half rye flour and sweetened only with a bit of molasses, making them nearly savory and deeply toasty. Perfect for pairing with scrambled eggs and a bit of cheese on a brisk fall morning.  Read more