Category Archives: Entrees

Quick Fix: Fried Rice with Bacon and Greens

Fried Rice with Greens
Fried Rice with Greens

In last week’s post on greens, I revealed my newfound love of bacon and greens with scrambled eggs.

Recently, I added another bacon/greens combo concoction to my growing list of greens recipes.

One quick note before I get to the recipe, I should put in a quick note about identifying the greens. If you are one of those people who didn’t get the benefit of asking or forgot to ask the farmer what on earth all that green stuff was you had in your bag, a couple websites offers some help identifying greens. has a decent list of greens with pictures and tips for uses. I’m looking for others, but that seems to be the most complete. PCC Natural Markets also has a basic primer on greens.

Also, while I was out in Internet land, I found a few other greens recipes and added them to my Food Stories page.

And now to the recipe, or rather “recipe” because it’s an approximate of proportions I used to make the dish on the fly:

Continue reading

Taming the Greens with a Garlicky Recipe


When I decided to join a CSA, I was prepared for what food bloggers and other folks said would be an onslaught of leafy greens in the spring, (and summer, and fall). I saw it as a challenge, an exercise for my budding creative culinary skills.

This winter, I bought loads of kale and a bunch of chard at the grocery store, looked up recipes on blogs and even came out with my own tomato, kale, garbanzo and sausage soup.

I saw this onslaught as an opportunity to get all the wonderful vitamins and good-for-you things greens provide, and envisaged a sudden turn to a healthy-eating lifestyle.

And then I got my first bunches of beet and mustard greens.

Actually, I didn’t even know what they were, and failed to ask before happily and proudly skipping away with my bagful of fresh goodies.

It seems that while I was contorting to pat myself on the back, I failed to look up what “greens” actually meant and in what variety they come.

But this is not a story of a food failure.

In fact, it’s more of a food rescue.

So with the first batch, I made salad. It was … interesting. Not that bad the first time around, but not regular, tender-lettuce salad. It got better the second and third days after I beefed it up with boiled eggs, bacon and other things that I’m sure negate all the good-for-you qualities fresh greens provide.

I used to laugh at my friends from the South (land o’ collard and many other kinds of greens) who regaled me with stories of things like fried lettuce. I’d just about be on the floor, “You FRY lettuce? You have got to be kidding,” I’d said. Yeah, it was mean.

But all this was in my head as I chopped up a heaping helping from my second batch.  I fried it in bacon grease then scrambled in some eggs and topped it all with crumbled bacon.

I will NEVER laugh at my Southern friends again.

It. Was. Good.

And then, on my third trip to pick up goods, a friendly farmer at Pheasant Fields FarmRed Barn Farm gave me some tips and the weekly newsletter included a great recipe of garlicky greens with Andouille and onions to my weekly newsletter. The recipe came courtesy of Shannon Harkness of , who says she acquired it from a Cook’s Country magazine.

I made the recipe from the newsletter with mustard greens and instead of cider vinegar, I used red wine vinegar (it’s what I had in the house) and keilbasa (because the grocery store was out of Andouille). I overcooked the greens a little bit, so they weren’t quite bright green, and they were a touch bitter, but not overwhelmingly so, just enough to make it interesting.

So, it seems, I’m coming to love the greens in a multitude of varieties. If any of you have additional greens recipes, please, please pass them on.

Garlicky Greens with Andouille and Onions
(From Cook’s Country magazine)

1 Tbsp vegetable oil
3 ounces Andouille sausage, halved lengthwise and cut into half-moon shapes (substitues include kielbasa or chorizo)
1/2 red onion, sliced thin
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 pounds greens, chopped
2 Tbsp cider vinegar

Brown sausage: Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium heat until just smoking. Cook sausage until well-browned, about 5 minutes. Add onion and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in garlic until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Add greens and vinegar, cover and cook until greens are wilted, about 3 minutes. Remove cover, increase heat to high to evaporate the liquid, about two more minutes.

Peruvian Kebabs and Roasted Yellow Pepper Sauce

Kebabs have to be one of my all-time favorite barbecue meals. They allow you to dress up an otherwise bland piece of meat and make something spectacular out of it. And it’s on a stick. I mean, who doesn’t like food on a stick?

Shish Kebabs, or marinated meat roasted on a stick, have been around for centuries.  The food is said to come from Turkey, according to research from and reference librarian Lynne Olver. The phrase comes originally from Turkish words meaining “skewer” and “roast meat”.

Three main types dominate: ones with a dry rub, marinated and ground meat pressed on a stick.

I’m a bigger fan of the marinated type, though I’ve had some great dry-rub types. A friend once made this delicious dry rub with cinnamon, cumin and other spices. Kabul’s on 45th Street in Seattle comes to mind when thinking of places to get great kebabs without making them yourself.

But Sunday was a stay-at-home kind of night, so I went hunting online for recipes.

My main criticism of most kebab recipes out there are the calls to alternate meat, onions and peppers or other veggies. While on the face of it, having those flavors mix in the cooking wouldn’t seem like a bad idea, but I’ve never had much success getting them all to cook at the same pace. My onions usually end up fairly raw while the meat blackens. So, I generally cook them separately.

But I came across a meat-only recipe that even tasted good reheated (recipe below).   Continue reading

Experimenting with Stuffed Red Peppers with Italian Sausage

Stuffed Red Peppers
Stuffed Red Peppers

I’m such a sucker when it comes to mentions of food. When I see photos or video shots of good food, I almost inevitablly end up with a craving for it. I am the person for whom the rule “don’t grocery shop while your hungry” applies.

So it was while I was grocery shopping — hungry —  when I saw a magazine photo of a stuffed green pepper.

I’ve never tried to cook a stuff pepper, and with the image in my head, I committed myself —  while still in the grocery store — to making some.

Now here comes another sometimes wasteful mistake I tend to make in the grocery store. I think I can just try to whip something up with an ingredient that catches my eye. In the process of learning to cook better, it’s a fun challenge to pull off something new with existing or new-to-me ingredients. For the most part, it’s a good thing, but I’ve sometimes bought myself into a trap of not really knowing what to do with the thing when I get home and letting it sit until it spoils or not understanding enough about how to cook the ingredient and making something inedible.

I’ll write more at another time on how I’m working to remedy that. For now, back to the peppers.

While at the store, I also tossed some Italian sausage and fresh basil into my cart and dreamed of using up some pearl barley in my pantry. Several days later, I managed to actually follow up on my craving and made stuffed red peppers.

Below are the ingredients and portions I used and some notes on how it turned out. Would love suggestions for improvement.

Continue reading

Beer and Crab … Need I Say More?

Beer Batter Crab Fritters
Beer Batter Crab Fritters

Somehow, I managed to hold on to a half pound of crab meat without eating it immediately! For those who know me, this is quite a feat. I can barely wait for a crab to cool before I start ripping the thing open, let alone let shelled meat wait to become part of a cooked dish.

But I’d decided on making crab cakes.

My past attempts have been OK, variations on some flour, egg, maybe a few herbs and, of course, crab. The best I’d previously done was one that included very few of the former and a whole lot of the latter. It was basically crab meat loosely held together by some stuff you couldn’t taste at all over the crab.

But I wanted to do it up right and fancy. Plus I’d recently thumbed through Seattle culinary icon Tom Douglas’ “I Love Crab Cakes!”, 50 recipes that examine different cake styles, different crabs and recipes from all over.

And then I happened upon a recipe that included another one of my favorite food-like substances: beer.

So it ended up being not exactly a crab cake, it’s technically a deep-fried fritter.

It turned out well, though I could have used a little more crab for my personal tastes. I used a pilsner so as not to overpower the flavor, which also ends up being a great leftover to pair with the fritters afterward. I lack a hot oil thermometer, so I probably had it a little too hot, not cooking the inside quickly enough before getting a deep browned outside and allowing the whole thing to crisp. I paired it with a garlic-y remoulade dip, that was OK, but not spectacular so I’m not adding the recipe here. The book has one that I’ve yet to try. I also served a side salad and a corn cornbread.

And without further adieu, here’s the recipe: Continue reading

Quick Fix: Shrimp, Orzo and Green Beans

Tomatoes (I also used yellow), garlic and parsley
Tomatoes (I also used yellow), garlic and parsley

I’ve been taking to heart some meal-planning and time-saver suggestions given by readers. There were some great tips, some of which I’ll elaborate on in the future.

One of the things that helps when faced with a late night and the need for a quick meal is having a well-stocked kitchen. I read through simple food guru Mark Bittman’s suggestions for core supplies.

Fresh out of the oven
Fresh out of the oven

Among the suggestions (and one I was a fan of anyways) is a bag of frozen shrimp. It’s really a versatile little critter than can be cooked quickly in a million different ways.

In the past couple years, I’ve seen several variations of recipes including shrimp and my favorite tiny pasta, orzo. A couple weeks ago, I threw together my variation based on what I had in the house. I made double what I noted below because if you really want to save time, you eat leftovers. Let me know if you try this out and if you make or should make any variations: Continue reading

Quick Fix: Grilled or Broiled Salmon with Rosemary, Lemon and Onions

Prepping the salmon
Prepping the salmon

I have a little pile of handwritten or memorized recipes in my daily dinner arsenal that I call my “go-to” meals. They’re things I can make that don’t take a huge amount of preparation, but that I wouldn’t be ashamed to serve to guests.

The list grows as I learn to cook better and find new recipes.

With the sun shining today, I’ll likely go to one of my favorites that works well for either a grill or a broiler: salmon.

This is really no recipe at all, just a throw-together kind of thing. I make use of the now gigantic rosemary bushes in my backyard and a pretty forgiving fish. Plus it’s a really easy after-work kind of way to break out the grill.

The prep takes about all of 10 minutes. Here’s what you need (base the amount of everything else on the size of your salmon fillet):

salmon fillet
sweet onion (like Walla Walla or similar variety)
lemon, thin sliced
fresh rosemary sprigs
salt & pepper

Rub salt and pepper on the salmon, layer lemon, onion and rosemary sprigs on the fillet and close over with foil. Broil or grill until firm in the center and fish flakes (about 10-15 min. under the broiler, depending on the thickness of your fillet).

I play around with it, and have added garlic salt and a touch of cayenne to the rub. The foil helps seal in the moisture, and I don’t always layer the ingredients in the same order. I think having the onions closer to the fish gives them a better flavor.

Another High-Fiber Recipe: Three-Bean Chili

This recipe uses red, white and black beans
This recipe uses red, white and black beans

Here’s another high-fiber recipe that was pretty simple to make. I made it while my cassoulet was baking this weekend and froze some for giving away and for later in the week.

I’ve copied their recipe below, but I made my own additions while it cooked because the original recipe seemed a little tart and lacked some depth. I added about two tablespoons of brown sugar and a heaping tablespoon of cocoa to the mix. I also simmered it about 10 minutes longer than recipe called for.

Serving size is about two cups, and each serving has about 16 grams of fiber. It’s only supposed to have 294 calories (and it’s pretty filling for having that much), but if you add the sugar like I did, that’ll obviously add up.

Continue reading

Saucy Lettuce Wraps with Chicken

Lettuce in my kitchen
Lettuce in my kitchen

The idea of something wrapped in lettuce does not on the face of it always sound like a main meal to me. But lately, I’ve been craving a concoction I first had at PF Chang’s, and made some this weekend.

My husband was pretty dubious about a food wrapped in lettuce. He didn’t say it, but I”m sure he thought: “Isn’t that salad?” But I think I made a convert this weekend.

If you’ve never had one, they’re pretty simple things. Bibb or Boston lettuce leaves are filled with marinated meats, veggies, crunchy things and topped with a savory sauce. You can be pretty flexible about what you put inside. The key is to making a sauce that has a lot of flavor that you like.

Places like PF Chang’s, The Cheesecake Factory and others serve these as appetizers, but I thought they worked well as part of a multi-plate meal (I also served up some stir-fry bok choy and a plate of my grandma’s-style fried rice), and would probably be fine eating just these for dinner. Actually, if I was more carefully watching what I ate, I would just have the wraps as meals. They’re relatively filling, and depending on what you put in them, they can be relatively fat-free.

For my lettuce wraps, I included marinated and stir-fried chicken slices, some thin-sliced, marinated shitake, bean sprouts, julienned carrots that I briefly stir-fried, and deep-fried maifun sticks.

So, like I said, the key is in sauce, something blending salty-sweet-savory-spicy. I’ve seen variations on Thai style chili and lime, various soy-based sauces and more. You just have to find what you like. I happen to love big ginger taste and Hoisin sauce, so below I’m offering up one to my tastes. I’m also including the marinade I used for the chicken. Continue reading

Chicken and Fennel in Sherry Cream Sauce

The alternate title for this blog entry was: What I made from all the stuff I had to use up in my ‘fridge. Thursday night, before a five-day vacation (I’ll be back next Wednesday)  I found myself faced with some stray veggies and meat in the refrigerator and found myself faced again with the stray food still sitting on my shelves, a testament to poor pre-vacation planning.

This happens more than I should admit, but there was good news in this one. It seems like all those recipes and food blogs I’ve been reading are starting to pay off. I managed to open the fridge, pull out a few of the things in there and make a meal, no recipes, and for the first time, didn’t end up with something I’d rather  toss out or feed to the dog (note: I don’t actually feed people food to my dog).

It was even something that I think was shareable, though it probably needs a little work (crowdsource recipe-making anyone?). Not all the proportions aren’t precise, because I’m not so good at pre-planning the packing part either. If any of you try it, let me know how it came out for you and what changes you make.

Chicken and Fennel in Sherry Cream Sauce

1.5-2 ilb chicken thighs (skinned and trimmed)
2 Tbs olive oil
1 fennel bulb, halved and sliced
1 onion, diced
3 carrots, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
About 1 Tbs dried thyme
2-second pour (1/2 to 3/4 cup) of dry sherry
About 1 cup vegetable stock
About 1/2 cup cream
1 tsp truffle cream

Heat olive oil in a medium-sized skillet. Brown chicken over medium-high, remove from skillet and set aside. Saute fennel, onion and garlic until onion begins to wilt. Add thyme, sherry and vegetable stock to skillet, stir. Add carrots and lay chicken on top. Cover and simmer 20 minutes.

Add cream and truffle cream. Stir and simmer about 1 minute more. Serve over rice.