What do you serve your family when they visit for Thanksgiving?
I’m not talking about the big meal. I’m sure you do the whole turkey and pie thing. (Or maybe you like to order takeout Chinese, who knows?)
I’m talking about the rest of the meals. When your out-of-town family comes to stay for more than just a few hours…how do you work out feeding them while you are also prepping for the main festivities?
It’s the middle of February. Classically a time of year when folks lose interest in all their healthy intentions. How are you doing with your healthy goals?
One of my ongoing goals is to eat greens in as many meals as possible. To be totally honest, I have realized that this usually means spinach, which is maybe a bit lopsided (or, maybe I am treating my mild anemia naturally with food!) when there are so many delicious kinds of greens in the world. But! I still think it’s a win when I find ways to eat something dark green at every meal of the day—including breakfast.
If you are ever thinking to yourself that you need to get more veggies into your diet, I have one excellent suggestion: buy a colorful vegan cookbook.
(What, Melissa? This is a strange way to begin a post that is mentions salmon in the title…which is most definitely not vegan.)
If you’ve been hanging out here for a while, then you already know how dearly I love Sarah of Well Dined.
She is one of my favorite people on the planet! Sarah has been unspeakably kind and generous to me in the seven years (!) we’ve known each other. She is thoughtful, thought-provoking, and hilarious. She is bold—and I don’t just mean her hair—and she pursues life fully. I am grateful to Sarah for stretching me as a cook, for her encouragement and patience through all of my motherhood woes, and for being the best friend a girl could ask for.
Which is why I am so excited to be cooking from Well Dined for the September Secret Recipe Club challenge!
Months ago, when Sarah joined the SRC, I mentally earmarked this spinach and gruyère strata to make whenever I got assigned to cook from her blog. But…surprise! During one of our subsequent lunches, she mentioned this amazing caramelized French toast she makes, and I knew my life would not be complete without it, so I decided to make that instead. And then, when the assignment actually happened, I got so excited about making some kind of ravioli, which Sarah makes all the time—and we talk about endlessly—that I threw out all my breakfast plans entirely. This somehow turned into the joy of hiding vegetables inside of pasta sauce.
Remember how I hatched a plot to eat greens at every meal?
Yeah…desserts kind of got in the way of that healthy plan. But you know, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and I am still trying to focus on the greenery as much as possible!
So this month for the Secret Recipe Club challenge, I decided to take a recipe for green chile enchiladas—which sounded heavenly—and green them up!
I adore Indian food. I love the spices and the warmth. I love that Indian food is packed with things that are good for my body, and that it doesn’t taste like “health food.” Indian food is fantastic.
But I’ve got to admit that I don’t cook Indian food at home very often. True, I love going home and recreating every delicious food in my very own kitchen; but I just find that Indian food is always better when I order it out. (Or, ahem, when friends make it for me. Yeah, you know who you are.)
In the months since learning about Caitlin’s dairy intolerance, I’ve had to avoid eating a lot of my favorite things. Dairy is in almost everything! And since a lot of Indian food is cooked with ghee (clarified butter), I’ve been wary of ordering Indian food at a restaurant.
Enter glorious chana masala, a simple dish featuring chickpeas cooked in a rich, spicy tomato sauce full of grated ginger and pressed garlic. This version comes together very quickly, ready from start to finish in under an hour, thanks to the help of canned chickpeas. And it is delicious!
I’m not exactly sure how this happened, but I have become a little obsessed with tuna salad.
Tuna salad is one of those polarizing foods: you either love it or you hate it, and there isn’t much of anything in between. In fact, I bet half of you have already wrinkled your noses in disgust. Blech. Canned tuna.
And I used to be you, shuddering at the mere idea of opening a can of tuna. I used to make gagging faces behind the backs of high school friends who brought little packs of tuna for lunch.
But here I am. Tuna salad. It’s the best!
Especially this spicy Asian version. This delicious sandwich can make a believer out of any tuna salad skeptic. It is totally reminiscent of maki sushi rolls, with all the wasabi and ginger, the thin-sliced avocado, the fresh veg. You have to try it.
Mind, prepare to be blown:
Yes…it’s the solution to my weekly pleadings with my family to name something other than pizza (Jake) or meatloaf (Dave) when I ask what to cook for dinner. Stir Friday.
I love it for so many reasons: 1) it still allows room for creativity, because “stir-fry” is a huge, broad category…but it does give me somewhere to start with the meal planning; 2) it makes a beautiful peace treaty for the taste bud cold war Dave and I are waging…no more can he tell me that I never eat Asian food with him!; 3) it has an awesome name—always a bonus; and 4) it’s so easy to make large amounts of stir-fry, so easy to accommodate different dietary needs, that Stir Friday is the perfect way to kick off one of our major family goals: becoming better hosts.
So, friends who live in the greater DC area, consider this your open invitation.
It’s Stir Friday. Are you coming?
When I was a kid, my mom used to make this amazing white chili. It was a football season/New Year’s Eve tradition for us.
My brother and I totally loved it, because we always ate this chili with a mountain of Cool Ranch Doritos (old school flavors are best, baby) and an avalanche of shredded cheddar cheese on top. I remember my dad crushing the chips into little shards with his big bear hands, like they were nothing, and piling them into our bowls.
One of the great tragedies of being a vegetarian now is that for years, I haven’t had that chips-in-my-soup experience.
Until I stumbled across a vegetarian recipe for tortilla soup!
This soup is so tasty, and it just gets better and better with time. I actually recommend eating it left over (is that weird?) because the flavors keep building.
Just like the nostalgia.
When my mom comes to visit, I get kind of excited.
For obvious reasons! She’s the best!
But also because her visits pull me out of my dinner ruts. She doesn’t eat wheat or dairy, so sometimes I have to get really creative to make meals that we can all enjoy! (We eat a lot of Asian cuisines.)
I was a little skeptical about this pasta at first, because I don’t typically love savory coconut without its best friends chili and curry. When I tasted the broth halfway through, I heaved a great sigh of disappointment that it was weird and bland despite its bursting tomatoes and lemongrass.
But dinner must go on (the natives were hungry), and so must I. And much to my surprise, after I added in a generous splash of lime juice and fish sauce, the boring and vaguely sweet coconut sauce turned into this amazing, tangy, practically drinkable concoction.
A symphony of flavors.