Rainbow Chard

Some foods that are good for you taste simply divine.  Swiss chard is most certainly one of them.  However it’s cooked, bring it on.  I’ll eat it.

We made this gratin with a combination of chard and spinach, though it could be easily made with all chard, kale (!), or any leafy green.  For no reason other than laziness, I pitched the chard stems and didn’t take the time to cook them and add them to the dish; however, they’d be a nice addition, and I bet I use them next time.  The Mornay sauce, while not exactly healthy and not exactly true to its name without parmesan, added a creamy texture and savory filling to the greens, and the panko added a perfectly crunchy topping.  The leftovers the next day were just as delicious as the night before.

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 bunch chard (Swiss, red, or rainbow) leaves, chopped
  • 9 oz. baby spinach, any tough stems removed
  • 2-4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup nonfat milk
  • 2 tablespoons unbleached white flour
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated Gruyère cheese, divided
  • 2-3 tablespoons panko bread crumbs
  1. Preheat oven to 400°.
  2. In a large skillet over medium heat, add the oil and sauté the chard, spinach, and garlic in 2 or 3 batches.
  3. Place cooked leaves in a medium-sized gratin dish covered in cooking spray.
  4. For the Mornay sauce, in a small sauce pan, melt the butter over medium heat.
  5. When the butter is slightly bubbly, whisk in the flour until well combined.  Add the milk and whisk constantly until it thickens and coats the back of a spoon.
  6. Whisk in 1/4 cup cheese.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Pour the Mornay over the leaves as evenly as possible.
  8. Sprinkle the remaining cheese and the panko over the Mornay.  Spray top with cooking spray or olive oil so it browns nicely.
  9. Bake about 15-20 minutes, until the cheese is bubbly.

Yields about 4 servings


Want to make something super-simple?  Want it to be super-healthy?  Make Tuscan Kale Chips.  Go now.  Run, don’t walk.  They’re calling your name.  (Just be sure to check a mirror after consuming as your teeth will be a bit green–the only downfall to this snack.  I promise.)

Kale: Pre-Cooked

Deliciousness in a Glass

Bon Appétit published this recipe about a year ago, and when I received the issue, we made them.  They’re salty and crispy and seem so very, very bad for you, like greasy potato chips.  We love them so much.  We made two batches of the chips, and they were nearly all gone just an hour later.  They’re too irresistible to not devour.

Still not convinced enough to make them?  Whole Food’s CEO says that their employees “obsess” over kale as it has “more nutrients per calorie than any other food.”  I dare anyone to not like this treat.


  • Tuscan kale leaves, rinsed, dried, cut lengthwise in half, center ribs and stems removed (one bunch is about all that will fit in our oven at one time)
  • Extra virgin olive oil (less than a tablespoon should do the trick)
  • Kosher Salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 250°F.
  2. Spray kale with oil (or toss in a large bowl with the oil).
  3. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  4. Arrange leaves in single layer on 2 large baking sheets. Bake until crisp, about 32 minutes (longer for crispier leaves).
  5. Transfer leaves to rack to cool.
  6. Enjoy.  Really, enjoy.

Yields 2 servings (if you’re at all like us)

Chili-Glazed Tofu with Soba Noodles*

Tofu with Peanut Hoisin Sauce

Shiitake mushrooms got us into this mess, I think.  We had some firm tofu, broccoli, carrots, and a few pantry staples on hand, so these recipes came together easily.  It started with miso soup (but just the generic add-a-tablespoon-or-two-to-water variety–which is still decent in my book) with tofu and shiitakes.  The soup led us to pan fried tofu in sesame oil with a hoisin-peanut sauce.  (Sure, no shiitakes, at least it had a tofu/Asian theme.)  Finally, we assembled a broccoli, shiitake, carrot, soba noodle, chili-glazed tofu dish that was so spicy we each downed about a gallon on water with the meal. Delicious.

For the Appetizer (modified from epi’s version):

Tofu Triangles

  • 1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
  • 1 package extrafirm tofu, drained well and cut into triangles
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 green onion, thinly sliced on the diagonal
  • 1 tablespoon toasted white and/or black sesame seeds

The Hoisin-Peanut Sauce

  • 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons hoisin sauce
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 scallion, finely chopped


  1. For the tofu, In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat.
  2. Salt and pepper the tofu.  Add the triangles to the skillet and cook until browned, just a few minutes per side.  Set aside.
  3. Sprinkle with scallions and sesame seeds.
  4. For the sauce, combine all ingredients in a bowl.
  5. Serve tofu with the peanut-hoisin sauce.

For the Entree:

Chili-Glazed Tofu (slightly modified from CL’s version)

  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1-3 teaspoons Sriracha
  • 1 tablespoon peanut oil
  • 1/2 package extrafirm tofu, drained well and cut lengthwise about 6 pieces
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Soba Noodles

  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil, divided
  • 1 3-4 oz. package of shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, cleaned, and thinly sliced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, chopped, divided
  • 2 teaspoons ginger, grated, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper, divided
  • 1 medium head of broccoli, cut into florets
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup carrots, cut into matchsticks
  • 1/2 package soba noodles, cooked


  1. For the tofu, combine sugar through Sriracha in a small bowl.
  2. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.
  3. Sprinkle tofu with 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper.
  4. Add tofu to pan; cook 3 minutes on each side or until browned.
  5. Add sauce mixture to pan; cook a little less than aminute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.
  6. For the noodles, cook the mushrooms and broccoli in the same fashion, but separately:
  7. Heat oil in a large, deep skillet or a wok over medium-high heat.
  8. Add mushrooms/broccoli.
  9. Cook, stirring occasionally, a few minutes, just until tender.
  10. Add garlic, ginger, and crushed red pepper, and cook until fragrant. (Repeat for mushrooms/shiitakes.)
  11. Add both vegetables, cooked soba noodles, carrots, and broth to the pan.
  12. Cook until heated.
  13. Serve noodles topped with tofu; drizzle remaining glaze over noodles.

Yields 4 servings for the triangles, 2 (maybe 3) for the noodles

*Yep.  Still looking/saving up for an SLR camera.  We’ll have one soon (I keep telling myself).

Red Sal Soup

Red Dal Soup

This soup–Moroccan, flavorful, creamy, spicy–required a whopping 11 minutes (plus simmer and blending time) to sauté/combine.  It’s fast, cheap, simple, amazingly healthy*, and uses pantry staples.  I’m betting (hoping) it freezes well, too.  And when I have a better camera, the picture may illustrate its actual appearance.


  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground corriander
  • 2 teaspoons Madras curry powder
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups dried red lentils, rinsed and drained (or 1 package, a little more than 2 cups)
  • 2 cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon (or lime) juice
  • 2 teaspoons harissa
  • Cilantro, chopped
  • Yogurt, plain and Greek or regular, thickened (or even sour cream)


  1. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, and ginger.  Cook about 6 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently.
  2. Stir in paprika through black pepper.  Cook 1 minute.
  3. Add stock, lentils, chickpeas, and tomatoes; bring to a boil.
  4. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes or until the lentils are tender, stirring occasionally.
  5. Puree mixture with an immersion blender (or just a blender) until smooth.
  6. Stir in lemon juice and harissa.
  7. Garnish with cilantro and yogurt.

*1 cup of soup has less than 250 calories, more than 15 grams of protein and 6 grams of fiber, and is cholesterol free.

Yields about 10 1 cup servings.

Tony and Hubert, watch out.  Rick is gaining on you.

Since we ate at two of Bayless’s three restaurants in Chicago, and since he’s been fairing well on Top Chef lately, I’ve been a bit obsessed with him.  After writing about Frontera Grill earlier, I decided I had to make one of his dishes: “Huevos Estilo El Bajo: two poached eggs in crispy masa boats with black beans, creamy chile poblano sauce, Mexican greens and homemade chorizo.”  Either my internet skills aren’t so sharp, or the recipe simply isn’t out there. With no chorizo (let alone homemade), no poblanos, and no desire to make masa boats (even if I had the corn flour), I needed to improvise.  Roasted red pepper salsa, jalapeños, and English muffins would have to work.

About an hour or so later, here’s what resulted:


Huevos Escalfados

The cream sauce is fairly spicy, so for weak tongues, use just a half a jalapeño or omit the seeds.  It is, however, mild enough to add a touch of hot sauce just before serving, if that’s your thing.  I also used low sodium, fat free chicken broth, fat free sour cream, and 1/3 less fat cream cheese for the sauce, and it was pretty rich (a full fat version may be too much–not to mention filled with unnecessary fat and calories).

I also poached the eggs in simmering water with a touch of white vinegar.  I’ve tried to poach eggs in custard cups to make them look prettier, but the outcome is very Egg McMuffin-ish, unnatural.  After removing the eggs from the water, cut off the straggling egg white parts with kitchen shears to make each one look uniform.

Rick’s version? 5 stars, easily.

My version compared to Rick’s? 1.5 stars.

My version compared to anything else I’ve ever made? 4.5 stars.


Black Beans

  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 cup red onion, chopped
  • 1/2 Roma tomato, diced
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Roasted Red Pepper Salsa

  • 1/2 Roma tomato, finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon roasted red pepper, finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon red onion, finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1/2 lime, juiced
  • Sea salt, to taste

Roasted Jalapeño Cream Sauce

  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 jalapeño, roasted and chopped (slice the pepper in half lengthwise, drizzle with olive oil, and roast for about 15 minutes in a 450 oven–or until a little blackened; cool in a baggie; peel the skin; chop)
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth (low sodium, low fat)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 4 ounces (1/2 block) cream cheese, softened


  • 4 whole wheat English muffins, toasted
  • 8 poached eggs (organic really are best)
  • 1/2 cup queso fresco cheese, crumbled


  1. For the black beans, in a medium saucepan over medium heat, sauté the garlic and onions in oil until softened.
  2. Add tomatoes, beans, and cumin.  Cook for another minute or two.
  3. Add broth, salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 20 minutes.
  4. Using an immersion blender, emulsify until thick–but not completely smooth.  Only blend some of the beans.  Keep warm.
  5. For the salsa, mix all ingredients in a small bowl.  Set aside.
  6. For the cream sauce, in a small saucepan over medium heat, sauté garlic until softened (about 30 seconds).
  7. Add jalapeño, green onion, and broth.  Cook for another minute.
  8. Reduce heat to low.  Add sour cream and cream cheese.
  9. Using an immersion blender, emulsify until smooth.  Keep warm (on low heat, but do not boil).
  10. Plate the dish: Place two halves on an English muffin on each plate.  Top each half with the bean mixture.  Carefully place one egg on each half.  Top with cream sauce, salsa, and queso fresco cheese.

Yields 4 servings (breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner)

Pre-Oven Shrimp Pizza

Pre-Oven Peppered Shrimp, Garlic, & Feta Pizza

We made pizza last night.  With a little leftover feta, a mound of basil, frozen shrimp, and a few veggies, we bought some crusts and went at it.  The sure-it’s-gonna-be-awesome-veggie turned out mediocre at best while the weird shrimp amalgamation and the “Where’s the sauce, honey?” tomato basil creation were the clear winners.  We’ll be making the following two again and again, I’m sure.

Peppered Shrimp, Garlic, & Feta Pizza


  • Cooking spray
  • 1 lb large shrimp (or about 16), peeled and deveined (it’s nice to have 2-4 shrimp per slice; we didn’t make enough and regretted it)
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste (I used about 2 teaspoons)
  • 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1-2 tablespoons white wine
  • 1 pizza crust (Mama Mary’s isn’t too bad)
  • 1/4 cup (or about 1/2 a jarred) roasted red peppers, thinly sliced
  • 4 oz. (or so) feta, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup Italian cheese blend, shredded
  • 1-2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped


  1. Preheat oven to 450°.
  2. Heat a grill pan/large skillet coated with cooking spray over medium heat.
  3. Coat shrimp with salt, pepper, and Cajun seasoning.
  4. Grill for about 2 minutes on each side, or until just cooked.  Remove from heat and set aside.
  5. In a small saucepan, heat oil over medium heat.
  6. Add garlic and cook, stirring frequently, for about 1 minute.
  7. Add wine, bring to a boil, reduce immediately to a simmer, and cook for 1-2 minutes.  Remove from heat.
  8. Brush garlic oil over the crust.
  9. Top with peppers, cheeses, shrimp, cilantro, and more freshly ground black pepper.
  10. Reduce the oven to 425°, and immediately bake on rack (or on a baking sheet for a softer crust) for about 8-10 minutes.

Yields 2-4 servings (depending on hunger levels)

Pre-Oven Pizza Margherita

Pre-Oven Pizza Margherita

Pizza Margherita


  • 3 teaspoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 cup (1/2 container) cherry tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 pizza crust (again, Mama Mary’s isn’t too bad)
  • Fresh mozzarella, sliced (about 1/4 inch think)
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped


  1. Preheat oven to 450°.
  2. In a small saucepan, heat 2 teaspoons of oil over medium heat.
  3. Add garlic and cook, stirring frequently, for about 1 minute.
  4. Add tomatoes and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
  5. Add oregano, salt, and pepper.  Cook for another 2 minutes.
  6. Reduce heat and simmer for about 2 minutes.  Remove from heat.
  7. Brush remaining teaspoon of oil over the crust.
  8. Top with tomatoes, cheese, basil, and more salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  9. Reduce the oven to 425°, and immediately bake on rack (or on a baking sheet for a softer crust) for about 8-10 minutes.

Yields 2-4 servings (again, depending on hunger levels)

The next few evenings are pretty booked, so if I don’t cook something that won’t be great for Round 2 the next day, we’ll end up ordering Sam B’s.  Again.  (They started delivering about three weeks ago.  They already know us by name.)

Enter Lasagna: Leftover Lifesaver.


  • 2  teaspoons  olive oil
  • 4-6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (8-ounce) package crimini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 medium zucchini, cubed
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 pound asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 cup broccoli, chopped
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained (with basil or Italian seasonings is nice)
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon dried rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • Crushed red pepper (as little or as much as to taste)
  • 3-4 tablespoons pesto (bottled/prepared will do)
  • 1 (15-ounce) carton part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Cooking spray
  • 1  quart meatless/marinara sauce (Mid’s is by far the best)
  • 1 package no-cook lasagna noodles (Barilla works well)
  • 1 (4-5 ounce) package fresh spinach, stemmed
  • 3/4 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese


  1. Preheat oven to 375º.
  2. Heat oil in a deep saucepan or skillet over medium heat.
  3. Add mushrooms and the next 4 ingredients (through broccoli); cook for about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add tomatoes and the next 4 ingredients (through crushed red pepper); cook for about 5 minutes (or until vegetables are still a little crisp tender), stirring occasionally.
  5. Meanwhile, combine pesto, ricotta, Parmesan, egg, and pepper in a medium bowl.
  6. Coat a 9×12 baking dish/pan with cooking spray (or two smaller pans so one can be frozen for later).
  7. Spread 1/3 jar marinara in the bottom of the dish.
  8. Arrange 4-6 noodles over sauce.
  9. Top noodles with 1/2 of ricotta mixture.
  10. Top ricotta mixture with 1/2 the spinach.
  11. Top spinach with 1/2 of the vegetable mixture.
  12. Repeat layers (steps 7-11) ending with noodles.
  13. Spread remaining marinara over noodles.
  14. Top with mozzarella.
  15. Cover and bake at 375º for 30 minutes; uncover and bake an additional 20 minutes. Let stand at least 10 minutes, and serve.

Yields 8-10 servings