Wild Mushroom Wild Rice with Caramelized Onions


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Rice, gone wild!  Double wild!  Mushroom madness!  All this Thanksgiving recipe testing and eating has put me into a food-induced euphoria.  Wild two times in one title is two too many wilds for one recipe, young lady!  Bring your torches.  Ban.  This.  Site.  Hide your childrens’ eyes!  With all this fungus among-us, it’s gettin’ crazy up in here.

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I bought a gigantic bag of assorted dried local Colorado mushrooms at the farmers market this summer.  We’re talking two freezer bags worth.  There will not be a mushroom shortage for the foreseeable future in the Spoon With Me house, in case anybody was wondering. What does one do with so many dried mushrooms, you ask?  You know that mouth-coating savory depth that can be hard to achieve in plant-based recipes?  Think of them as a way to boost the umami factor, especially in vegetarian and vegan dishes.  I love to grind them into powder to add savoriness to sauces gravies, and soups.  In this recipe, I used the broth from rehydrating them as part of the cooking liquid for the rice. If you’re a full or part- time vegan or vegetarian, you need dried mushrooms in your arsenal if you want to up the ooooh mommy!

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If you’ve never caramelized onions, don’t be intimidated.  With a little time and patience, you will have transformed the humble onion into something sweet, rich and savory—the perfect complement to the mushrooms (the wild kind.).  After tending to the onions, and coaxing them into buttery submission, you’ll add your mushrooms and season them up with herbs.  In goes the mushroom broth.  Wild rice has a reputation for being difficult to cook.  However, with the right amount of liquid, cooking time and a tight lid to keep in all the moisture, about an hour later, you’ll have perfectly cooked, savory and tender wild rice.

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I especially like this recipe at Thanksgiving and Christmas. If you or your vegetarian dinner guests are mushroom-crazed, you could even stuff this rice into the middle of a roasted portobello, and top with parmesan.   Hold the phone, Bessie!  Whaat????  On its own, this rices makes a healthy vegan and gluten-free side dish that’s savory, rich, and enjoyable for all.  Thanksgiving gone wild!  Woooooooo!

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Wild Mushroom Wild Rice with Caramelized onions

Serves 8-10

  • 2 cups dried wild mushrooms*
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 large yellow onion halved and cut into 1/4 inch slices
  • 2 tablespoons water, broth or wine for deglazing
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 teaspoons fresh chopped thyme leaves, divided
  • 2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 2 cups wild rice blend
  • 1 teaspoon salt, more to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste

Soak the Mushrooms: Put the mushrooms in a medium heat proof bowl, and cover with 2 cups boiling water.  Soak for 20-30 minutes while you caramelize the onion (see below).  Remove the mushrooms from the bowl with a slotted spoon to a cutting board. Reserve the mushroom soaking liquid and set aside.  Remove and discard the woody stems from the mushrooms.  Finely chop the mushrooms and set aside.

Caramelize the onion: (here’s a great tutorial from The Kitchn on caramelizing onions).  Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat (for best results, don’t use a nonstick pan).  Add the onions, and stir to coat with the oil, sprinkle with salt, and spread them evenly in the bottom of the pan. Cover and cook for about 12 minutes to sweat the onions (release their liquid). Uncover, and continue to cook, checking the onions every 5-10 minutes, and scraping the brown syrupy bits that stick to the bottom of the pan with a firm spatula.  Continue cooking the onions and scraping the pan for about 40 minutes, or until the onions look, smell, and taste caramelized.  If the onions start to burn, add a bit of water or broth to deglaze.  When the onions are caramelized, add the 2 tablespoons deglazing liquid and scrape up the remaining brown bits. Remove from the pan, set aside to cool, then finely chop.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in the saucepan, and sauté the garlic for a minute.  Add the chopped mushrooms, the chopped caramelized onions and 2 teaspoons thyme leaves to the pan.  Season with a couple pinches salt and sauté for a few minutes.

Add vegetable broth to the mushroom soaking liquid to equal 4 cups.  Add the broth, wild rice and 1 teaspoon salt to the pan.  Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 45 minutes.  Remove from heat (keep lid on!) and let sit for 15 minutes.  Fluff with a fork.  If there is excess liquid, simmer uncovered for a few minutes to cook it off.  If the rice is undercooked, add more broth, cover and simmer until it is tender.  Season with salt and pepper to taste, and garnish with the remaining thyme.

*A mix of any type of wild mushrooms–my mix contained shitaki, oyster, porcini and trumpet.  Trader Joe’s sells a great mix of dried wild mushrooms in the fall and winter.


Filed under Side Dishes, Vegetarian and Vegan

Tangerine-Port Cranberry Sauce


We all have our food quirks.  The Mister likes to figure out the best flavor combination on any given plate, then repeat that experience as many times as possible.  Salads are evenly tossed and big ingredients chopped up so that each bite has the optimized flavor.


I once ate dinner with a girl who had a phobia of her foods touching each other.  We were at an Asian restaurant.  Plain shrimp, plain vegetables, plain rice.  No sauce, not even soy.  Each part of the meal was eaten by itself, before moving on   I kind of wanted to put a carrot slice on her rice, just to see what would happen, but I figured that was a bit immature.  Phobias ain’t no joke.  I’m the mixing queen.  I like to see how many unique combinations of flavors I can put into each bite.




Cranberry sauce is one of those Thanksgiving sides that I use more like a chutney, as a burst of flavor atop a forkful of sweet potatoes, or along with a bite of green beans.  It’s not Thanksgiving without cranberries, and this year I wanted to make a cranberry sauce with layers of spice and citrus, using healthier sweeteners.


Homemade cranberry sauce is one of the quickest, easiest sides.  Typically, it’s made with white granulated sugar.  In cases like these, I like to see if I can achieve the flavors I’m looking for using less-processed, lower-glycemic sweeteners like honey and coconut sugar.  Coconut sugar has a deep, molasses-like flavor, and honey a brighter, lighter flavor which allows the cranberries to shine through.  This recipe keeps the essence of traditional cranberry sauce, layered with hints of ginger, tangerine, and spices, and just a slight aftertaste of port.


Do you like to standardize and optimize each bite, or let foods mingle willy nilly like I do?  Do you segregate your dinner plate, or bring a quirk to the table that is all your own?  Cranberry-optimizers, mixers, and segregators are all welcome here!  If this makes it to your Thanksgiving table, do stop back and let me know how you liked it!


Tangerine-Port Cranberry Sauce

Makes about 5 cups

  • 24 ounces fresh cranberries
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons tangerine zest, plus additional for garnish if desired
  • 1 cup fresh tangerine juice
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger
  •  1/4 cup ruby port
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 small cinnamon sticks
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/2 cup honey (substitute agave if vegan)

Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.  Stir often.  When cranberries pop, continue to simmer for 4-5 minutes longer, smashing some of the cranberries against the side of the pan, until the sauce appears slightly thickened (it will continue to thicken more as it cools).

Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or longer before serving.  Garnish with a small amount of zest if desired.


Filed under Main Dishes, Side Dishes, Vegetarian and Vegan

Spiced Maple-Glazed Sweet Potatoes, Apples and Butternuts with Caramelized Pepitas

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The way we’ve celebrated Thanksgiving throughout history has both changed and stayed the same.  What if, instead of the venison and freshly harvested vegetables the Native Americans and the pilgrims shared to celebrate the harvest, this happened:

Once upon a time, back on the first documented Thanksgiving in 1621, the pilgrims that had arrived on the Mayflower shared a feast with the local Native Americans.  

“Thank you for welcoming us to this bounteous land.  I offer unto you this can of cream of mushroom soup as a gesture of peace.  Please prepare it with your freshly harvested green beans and crispy fried onions.”

 “Why thank you, kind pilgrim.  Please, take this gift of congealed cranberries as a symbol of this shared celebration.  And as an extra special bonus offering, this bowl of mashed potatoes, from a tuber that will not actually make its way to ‘America’ until many years from now.”

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Sure, our idea of a Thanksgiving feasts has evolved over a few centuries, but the idea of gathering, sharing and eating remains a timeless tradition.

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My goal at every holiday is that everyone around my table can eat some version of anything they’d like.  Vegetarians, and the lactose and gluten-intolerant people among others, are used to not being able to eat many foods served at holiday meals.  Dairy is my kryptonite, and I am always delighted when I can indulge in the tastiest parts of a shared meal, dairy free.

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In the coming days before Thanksgiving, I’ll be posting some healthier twists on Thanksgiving sides that I hope everyone can eat!

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This recipe isn’t just for Thanksgiving.  As soon as the leaves start to turn, I start craving warm spiced flavors.  The squash, potatoes and apples are first covered and baked, to soften them up.  Normally, baked apples and sweet potatoes are drenched in butter.  Not necessary here.  I use a little coconut oil or vegan butter to coat everything, and the juices from the apples and squash reduce down and mix with the honey and maple to create a spiced caramel-like glaze. The pepitas are toasted and caramelized using coconut sugar and baking spices, which results in a taste almost like a seed brittle.

We may not exactly be eating what the Native Americans and pilgrims shared back in the 1700s, but we can still gather together and share foods everyone can enjoy!

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Spiced Maple-Glazed Sweet Potatoes, Apples and Butternuts with Caramelized Pepitas

Serves 6

  • 1 lb butternut squash (half a medium squash, or one small)
  • 1 lb sweet potatoes or yams, peeled, halved, sliced 1/2 inch thick
  • 2 Granny Smith apples, cored, sliced into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 fuji apple (or other red-green variety)cored, sliced into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 3 tablespoons honey (if vegan, sub agave)
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 3 tablespoons vegan butter or coconut oil
  • Caramelized pepitas for serving, recipe follows

Preheat oven to 400˚ F.

Cut off the ends of the butternut squash.  Cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out/discard the seeds.  Peel the halves with a vegetable peeler.  Cut each half lengthwise into halves or quarters, depending on the size of the squash.  Cut each lengthwise piece into half inch slices.

Peel, halve (quarter if large), and slice the sweet potatoes into 1/2 inch pieces. Core the apples, halve them, and cut into 1/2 inch slices.   Put the butternuts, sweet potatoes and apples in a large casserole dish  (11×15 or similar).  Sprinkle with the salt, pumpkin pie spice and allspice.  Drizzle the honey and maple syrup over top.  Toss the ingredients to coat.  Dot the butter or coconut oil on top by the teaspoonful.  Cover with foil and bake for 35 minutes, or until they are cooked through and have released some juices.  Remove the foil and cook until the juice and syrup have thickened enough to form a syrupy glaze, about 30 minutes (checking every 10 minutes, and stirring to coat everything with the glaze).

Serve hot, topped with the caramelized pepitas.

Coconut Sugar Caramelized Pepitas

These pepitas were born out of a burning question: will coconut sugar melt?  I’m happy to report, the answer is yes!  These crunchy little salty sweet seeds would make a great snack, topping for desserts, or on top of butternut squash soup.  Why coconut sugar?  It has a lower glycemic index and is closer to its natural state than granulated sugar.  

  • 1 cup pepitas
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup water

Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Toast the pepitas in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, stirring constantly until fragrant and golden in places, about 4 minutes.  Sprinkle in the coconut sugar, spices and salt.  Wait until the coconut sugar starts to melt, then stir like crazy.  Once it begins to clump (which it will), add the water, a tablespoon at a time and keep stirring until the pepitas are sticky and evenly coated.

Spread the pepitas evenly on the parchment paper covered baking sheet (they will be in clumps).  Chill in the freezer or refrigerator until they feel hardened and less sticky (don’t be afraid to get creative to get those seeds into the freezer.  I carefully lift the parchment paper and put it on my freezer shelf, scrunching up the sides to fit.)

Once completely cooled, can be saved in an airtight container for about a week.





Filed under Uncategorized

“Fainting Imam” Turkish Braised Eggplant with Aromatic Yellow Rice (gf, vegan)

Turkish Braised Eggplant4|SpoonWithMe(1 of 1)When you think about swoon-worthy dishes, what comes to mind?  In Julie and Julia, it was the crunch of the olive oil-toasted bruschetta bread covered with juicy tomatoes.  Remy the rat has his first food-wakening when his foraged fromage, wild mushroom and herbs get flambeed by a bolt of lightning in Ratatouille.  In Chocolat, the swoon subject is obvious—No, not Johnny Depp, the chocolate for heavens sake!  My favorite food scene comes at the end of Big Night, where the restaurant guests bite into the Timpano.  And if you’ve ever seen Chef, I just have three words for you: Grilled.  Cheese.  Sandwich.

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My friend Karissa and I enjoyed a swoon-inducing eggplant while eating at a fantastic Turkish restaurant in Houston.  The kind of dish where you revert to some kind of primal foodie language that consists of mmms, sloshy sounding consonants, and repeated “s’really good”.

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It turns out, we weren’t the only ones captured by the eggplant’s swoon power.  Traditionally, the story goes, the eggplant was braised so indulgently in olive oil that the Imam fainted upon trying it.  This particular eggplant was braised, stuffed with a perfectly seasoned mix of onions and peppers, topped with spiced tomato sauce, and served over aromatic yellow rice. I get fixated when I’ve eaten something really good. I need to be able to make it anytime I want, in my own kitchen.

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My fixation included daily visits to the back yard to peek under the leaves of my japanese eggplant, which produced over 20 of the little buggers in the space of a breadbox. When they were big enough, my wait was over.  Talk about slow food!  The last farmers market days are upon us here in Colorado.  It’s high time to scoop up the last of  those in-season eggplants, tomatoes, and peppers, and cook them down into something to punctuate the end of the home-grown produce season.

Bet you never thought eggplant could make you swoon. Eggplant is the new dark chocolate raspberry truffle cake, the new Tango de la Muerte, the new Leonardo DiCaprio.  Keep your fainting couch close by, and enjoy!

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“Fainting Imam” Turkish Braised Eggplant 

  • 1 lb small eggplants
  • salt to taste
  • 1/2 cup olive oil, divided
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 1 large red bell pepper, de-seeded and diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 pounds tomatoes, cored and chopped
  • 1/2 cup white wine or dry vermouth (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon sumac (optional), or sub lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh oregano
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh mint, plus extra for garnish
  • pinch of raw sugar
  • 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Minced parsley leaves, to garnish

Preheat the oven to 400˚F.  Cut the stems off the eggplants and halve them lengthwise.  With a sharp knife, score the flesh of the eggplant as follows, being careful not to cut through the skin: one slit lengthwise down the middle, then diagonally crosswise in 1 inch intervals.  Arrange the eggplant halves face up in a large casserole dish.  Sprinkle them with a few big pinches of salt, and allow to sit for 20 minutes.  Drizzle the eggplant with 1/4 cup of the olive oil, then sprinkle with allspice and sumac or lemon zest.  Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the skin starts to wrinkle and the flesh is tender.

In the meantime, heat the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil in a medium saucepan.   Sauté the onion and bell pepper over medium high heat until soft.  Add the garlic, and sauté for 2 more minutes.  Pour in the white wine if using, and deglaze the bottom of the pan, stirring for a minute or so.  Stir in the tomatoes.  Reduce heat to medium low, cover, and cook for 10 -12 minutes until they have released their juices, stirring occasionally.  Add cumin and cinnamon, and season to taste with salt.  Reduce heat to low and simmer for 40 minutes until very soft and saucy.  Stir in the lemon juice and fresh herbs.  Season to taste with salt.

Spread the sauce over the eggplant.  Pour 1 cup water in the bottom of the pan, and sprinkle with a pinch of sugar.  Cover with foil, and bake until the eggplant is very tender and collapsed.  Serve hot, over the aromatic rice (recipe follows)

Rice Cooker Aromatic Yellow Basmati Rice

I love combining rice with aromatic spices in my rice cooker.  With minimal effort, you can customize rice with spices and other ingredients that complement the main dish.  The turmeric gives this rice its vibrant yellow color, and is said to have many health benefits.  Curcumin is the active compound in turmeric and has anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties.  If you don’t have a rice cooker, the rice can be made according to the package directions, with the addition of the ingredients below.

  • 2 cups basmati rice
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 8 allspice berries
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Place all ingredients in a rice cooker and cook.  Remove the whole spices and bay leaves before serving.


Filed under Uncategorized

Tomatillo-Veggie (or Chicken) Posole


I broke out my fall garb this week, and taught my students a valuable lesson while wearing a cozy wrap/scarf that the mister got for me in Amsterdam.  A scarf is just a socially acceptable way to wear a blanket to work or school.  You’ll see me wearing a lot of “scarves” in the coming days.  The Dutch have a specific word for all things cozy, inviting, friendly and warm: gezellig.  It’s one of those words that has no English translation.  Picture a cool misty fall day.  Gezellig is arriving home from work and snuggling up in a cozy knit blanket with a cup of tea, a book, and your favorite furry companion (canine, feline, or hey, even human).  It’s huddling around a fire with friends, steaming mugs of soup in hand. The leaves are swirling around, and it’s hinting at frost.  It’s gezellig time, so I thought I’d share my favorite after-work gezellig I meal to spread a bit o’ the cozy.  If everyone were just a bit more gezellig, the world would be a happier place.



This particular posole was inspired by the last tomatillos I pulled from my garden.  This year’s tomato and tomatillo harvest hasn’t been the usual up-to-the-gills harvest of 30 pounds at a time.  It’s been slow, late and steady.  It’s almost as if my plants are telling me to relax and enjoy.  Instead of the mad rush to can quart after quart,  I’ve been able plan special meals to showcase the different varieties.




Posole has been one of my go-to meals after work.  I always keep a couple cans of hominy in the pantry for the occasion.  If you’ve never had hominy, think large puffy grains of corn with a slight potato texture.  Plantain is to banana as hominy is to corn.   The basic idea is to sauté onions and vegetables and simmer them in broth with the hominy.  I like to blend the raw tomatillos with the cilantro with some of the soup and add it at the end so that it retains its vibrant green color.  This is the kind of soup that wafts out the front door and makes the mailman hungry.

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There are no honking horns in gezellig land, no crabby cashiers or angry bosses.  Only warm fuzzy feelings, companionship, and warm bowls of posole.  Time to get your cozy on, friends

Tomatillo-Veggie (or Chicken) Posole

Serves 6-8

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium white onion, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, diced (any color)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium tomato, finely chopped
  • 1/2 lb tomatillos, papery skins removed–1/4 lb diced, 1/4 lb halved
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon chile powder
  • 6-8 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 25-ounce cans hominy, drained
  • 2 cups chopped cilantro (leaves and upper stems), plus additional for garnish
  • juice from 1-2 limes, plus additional slices for serving
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken (store bought, or homemade)
  • 1 avocado, diced (for garnish)

Heat the olive oil in a large stockpot.  Sauté the onion and bell pepper over medium-high heat for 4-5 minutes, until beginning to soften, but not brown.  Add the garlic, and sauté for a minute more.  Add the tomato and diced tomatillo, the coriander, cumin, and chile powder.  Season with  a couple pinches of salt, and cook over medium heat until starting to soften, about 4 minutes.  Add broth (start with 6 cups, add additional if desired), carrots, and hominy. Add salt to taste.   Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 15-20 minutes, until vegetables are tender.

Remove 1 1/2 cups of the soup to a blender (including some of the solids) .  Add the cilantro, and the halved tomatillos.  Hold the top of the blender down  with a dish towel, and blend until smooth.  Stir the tomatillo sauce into the soup.  Add the chicken, if using and simmer over low heat for 5 minutes.  Season to taste with salt and the juice of 1-2 limes.  Serve in bowls topped with avocado and cilantro.


Filed under Main Dishes, Soups and Stews

Hibiscus-Mint “Simplici-tea” Sparklers

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“Simplici-tea” has become my summer mantra (and beverage), and is the perfect pairing for a mini stay-cation under my patio umbrella.  Here’s my equation for summer relaxation:  Self + tea + pleasant weather + furry companion + sketchbook, MINUS to-do lists, MINUS FOMO (fear of missing out on all the things I’m not doing at the moment), MINUS technology = PDH (Pretty Darn Happy).  The cymbal playing monkey in my brain tells me I have to do more-more-more.  Create!  Do!  Clean!  Go!  March lady, march! 

Step back, obnoxious chimp, I got some resetting to do!

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I’m generally a fan of positive self-talk, but lately, I’ve been putting myself in time out.  Go to the patio, young lady, and don’t come back until you’ve put your feet up, sipped your tea, and smelled some flowers!  And don’t talk back I’ve found that even 5 or 10 minutes of this kind of intentional relaxation changes how I move about the rest of my day. HibiscusMintSimplici-teaSparklers@Spoonwithme.com (5 of 13)

While one could feasibly relax without a special drink, nothing says intentional relaxation like a carefully concocted iced tea sparkler. This drink says simple with a side of “that’s right monkeys, I’m relaxing!”  This is not the drink you grab as you run out the door, arms full of the whose-its and whats-its you need to complete your tasks of the day.   It starts with crushed mint and squeezed lime, like the beginnings of a mojito.  In goes the iced tea and fizzy water, and sweetener as you like it.

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I have a hunch that simplicity might not have to be so complicated after all!

I’d love to know your personal equation for relaxation!  Please share yours, and any other tips for “simplici-tea” and learning how to “just be”  in the comments below.

Hibiscus-Mint Simplici-tea Sparklers  

Makes 1 gallon

  • 4 sprigs fresh mint
  • 2 limes, halved
  • 4 cups strongly brewed hibiscus tea, cooled (I used Tazo passion iced tea bags)
  • 8 cups club soda
  • 4 cups ice
  • Stevia, agave nectar, or other sweetener to taste

Place the lime halves and mint leaves in the bottom of a large pitcher.  Using a muddler or a wooden spoon, crush and smash the limes and mint to release the juice.  Add the hibiscus tea, ice, club soda, and sweetener.  Adjust proportions of ingredients to suit your taste.  Enjoy immediately, or refrigerate.  The tea will keep its bubbliness for about 3 days.


Filed under Uncategorized

Denver Omelet Cups with Smoked Salmon

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Holy egg dish, it’s been a while since I last posted!  Life has been like an agility course this past year.  Jump through this hoop.  And THIS one!  Now spin around!  Wait…wait…think fast!  Catch the spiky ball of doom—WAIT!   Don’t catch the spiky ball of doom!  I had a rough go this past year—radiation, starting a cancer drug, and working through some pain that lingered from fall to spring.  Food didn’t taste good, and pain prevented me from doing many of the things I love, like yoga, and cooking, etc, etc, etc…  Cancer’s a son of a blankity blank that tries to bewitch your brain into thinking that you can’t enjoy your life as much, but that’s a lie!

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I’ve had to become as adaptable as one of those crazy angler fish deep in the sea.  No light?!?  I’ll create my own to lure you into my creepy teeth (okay, maybe sans the teeth).  I now do what my friend Carol calls “Jenny Morgenthaler yoga”.  It’s the buffet method of vinyasa flow, where you plop your hiney on a yoga mat, and you only do the really yummy poses.  The rest of the time, you sit and imagine doing that perfect handstand or crow with a dazed half smile on your face that says “I do what I want!”.

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My cooking style has had to adapt to my ever-morphing taste buds.  At first, I was a little paralyzed.  WHAT?  My spice tolerance has gone down to practically zero?!  Spicy food consumption used to be my badge of honor!  Challenges in life force us to either adapt or roll over, and so do challenges in the kitchen!  My lack of spice tolerance has led me to discover new flavor combinations I would have overlooked before.  Life without challenge doesn’t require any creative finagling, and creative finagling is the key to inventing and living in new ways.

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My gateway dish back to creating in the kitchen again was these egg cups.  I found a version on marthastewart.com, and I was so seduced by the fanciness, I just had to give them a try.  Any sauteéd veggies would work in this application.  I used green onions and sweet peppers, and topped the whole thing with smoked salmon.  I’m not as much of a fan of “fluffy” breakfasts.  You know, those sweet pastry-centered things that are definitely delicious, but leave you with nothing but a sugar spike, then brain fog.   My favorite breakfasts have some substance, not just a pretty face.  This one has a combination of sautéed veggies, smoky salmon, and golden hash browns which are the perfect way to mop up the egg yolk.  I hope you enjoy this version, and that it will inspire you to develop your own combinations of ingredients.

I’ll end with the wisdom of my friend, the egg:  when life cracks you open, let your sunny side help you discover delicious new possibilities!

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Denver Omelet Cups with Smoked Salmon

These egg cups look complicated, but come together simply.  The only tricky step is removing them from the pan in one piece.    If your muffin tin isn’t nonstick, use muffin cup liners so that the potato mixture doesn’t stick.  If making without liners, be sure to thoroughly butter each muffin cup.  Once you’ve removed them from the tins, you’re home free!  Chow down and feel fancy!

For the potato cups:

  • 1 large russet potato, peeled, about 1 pound
  • one egg white
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons butter (or vegan butter), melted, plus extra for greasing the pan
  • salt and black pepper to taste

For the filling and topping:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped veggies (I used 4 green onions, and about 1 1/2 cups finely chopped sweet peppers)
  • 4 eggs
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 ounces smoked salmon, flaked into small pieces

Preheat oven to 475˚F.  Grate the potato and place in the middle of a clean lint-free dish towel.  Squeeze as much moisture from the shredded potato as possible.  Transfer the potato to a medium bowl, and add the egg white, olive oil, melted butter, salt and pepper.  Mix well.

Grease 4 muffin tins thoroughly with butter (about 1/4 teaspoon per tin). Place a half a cup of shredded potato into each cup. With your hands, firmly press and sculpt a layer of shredded potato into the bottom and sides of each tin to form a cup.  Bake for 15 minutes.

Heat the olive oil in a medium frying pan until hot.  Add the green onions and peppers, season with salt and pepper and sauté until softened, about 4 minutes.

Place a rounded teaspoon of sautéed veggies into each potato cup.  Crack an egg into each cup and sprinkle the top with salt and pepper.  Bake for an additional 10-15 minutes (yolks will still be runny at 10 minutes, and partially set at around 13 minutes.

Allow to cool slightly.  Run a butter knife around the edges of each potato cup to loosen them and remove from the pan.  Garnish with the green onion, remaining sautéed veggies and smoked salmon and serve immediately.


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