This was originally published in January 2014, but I have been making it again on the regular and thought the website needed updated photos!
You know what is just the worst? Getting sick. Life is great until you feel horrible. I think most of us run around like maniacs until we’re so wiped out while our poor bodies are trying to tell us to slooooooow down and get some rest. First it’s a little whisper like feeling so tired. But we don’t listen. Then we get a sore throat. We don’t listen. Then our bodies have to whack us over the head with a crazy cold and body aches until we have no other choice but to stay in bed. A friend of mine who came down with a bad cold said to me the other day,”If I just spent a little time in bed resting when I wasn’t sick, maybe I would have stayed healthy!” I think she’s onto something.Continue reading
This recipe is “the whole enchilada,” so to speak. I’m giving you a method for poaching the chicken, making the enchilada sauce from scratch, and assembling the actual enchiladas. The only thing we’re not covering today is how to make corn tortillas, and I am sure homemade corn tortillas are the only thing that would make these enchiladas better. If you buy cooked chicken and canned enchilada sauce, you don’t really need a recipe to make enchiladas. Not judging of course, because we’ve all been there and shortcuts have their time and place. But if you can plan ahead, these are amazing. My entire family loves these and let me tell you, they’re a tough crowd.
I grew up on Long Island and didn’t even taste Mexican food until I moved to Los Angeles after college. My kids have grown up in LA and they are Mexican food experts, sometimes having lengthy discussions about which local taco joint has the best this or that. So when I make something Mexican that gets the thumbs-up, I am relieved and proud at the same time. Ironically, these are not my personal favorite enchiladas. I am more of a green (tomatillo) sauce person, so I am obsessed with the enchiladas verdes here. But my family digs these. I’ve been making enchiladas rojas for years and my son (Mr. Picky) used to call these “chicken tacos with Mexican tomato sauce.”
I am not much of a drinker, at least anymore. 😉 If you’ve known me for a long time, you know that way back in the day, I used to enjoy a cocktail more often than not. Nowadays, I have very limited tolerance for it and therefore I pretty much abstain except for a glass of wine once a month or so. The headaches the next day just aren’t worth it to me. My husband says that’s the price I pay for being so clean. Ha! But one of my favorite cocktails used to be a mojito, a Cuban drink with rum, mint, sugar and lime juice. It’s super refreshing and light. I had my first mojito in Cuba about 14 years ago and I became an instant fan.
I came up with this salad for a Cuban-inspired menu I taught last month and although it is not anything I ever saw when I was in Cuba, it reminds me of the tropical vibe there and the dressing in particular makes me think of a mojito since it contains mint, honey and lime juice. This recipe was probably the biggest hit last month. That said, 99% of the people that come to my classes are women, and women love salads. I always make so much extra of all my salads for classes because I know everyone loves to load up on them. No matter if I doubled, tripled or quadrupled this salad, there were never any leftovers!
One of my resolutions for 2016 is to entertain more at home than I did in 2015. I used to invite friends over 2-3 times/month before I started teaching cooking classes full-time. By the time Friday rolls around, I’m kind of over major food prep. So cooking for friends fell by the wayside. But I realized it’s also one of my favorite ways to spend my time so I need to find a way to bring that back into my life!
My goal is to entertain more simply with less pressure to make everything Pinterest and Insta-worthy. Good friends don’t care. I know this is true because when someone invites me over for a meal, I am more excited about spending quality time with my friends than what is on the menu. So for my last blogpost of 2015, I thought I would share an easy, delicious and very popular recipe that might encourage you to invite friends over during the holidays.
These risotto cakes made an appearance in my Party Foods class last December and I remember the kids hoping there were some extra when they returned home from school. I love it when I have a recipe which is just as popular with kids as adults! Essentially, you take leftover risotto and form it into a small patty (1-2 bites each), coat that in beaten egg and bread crumbs and saute in olive oil in a skillet. The good news is that you don’t have to make proper risotto for this recipe. No stirring every 5 minutes or standing over the pot. The only goal is to have a cold rice mixture that is sticky enough to form a little patty.
I have mixed feelings about rice since there are pros and cons to both brown and white rice (brown you have to soak + contains arsenic, white is lacking the fiber.) So my rule of thumb is that if I don’t have time to soak brown rice, I go with white. But I’m sure you could make this with short grain brown rice and just cook it for longer. Either way, you can make the rice today, form the patties tomorrow and saute them before your friends come over on New Year’s Eve! Keep them warm in a 250 degree oven for up to an hour if necessary.
What’s also nice about these little cakes is that you can eat them plain or top them with any number of toppings from store bought tapenade to pesto aioli (shown here — nothing more than pesto mixed with a little Vegenaise) to sautéed mushrooms or garlicky greens or a tomato compote. You can also make them bigger and serve with a green salad for brunch, lunch or dinner. A poached egg on top would round it all out.
In other news, and perhaps to help with possible new year’s resolutions, I am starting a new regular blogpost on Sundays, beginning January 3rd. It will be a weekly dinner planner to offer inspiration and suggestions on what to make. Many of my students have asked me for this, despite the fact I post my weekday dinners on Instagram and Facebook ;). For those of you aspiring to cook more from scratch and use more natural, plant-based foods, I think this new weekly blogpost will come in handy. Wishing you and yours a safe, happy, and healthy new year! xoxo
1 ½ cups panko bread crumbs (look for gluten-free bread crumbs to make this a GF recipe)
Heat 2 Tablespoons of olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat, add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
Add the rice and 1 ¾ teaspoons salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring often, until rice starts to crackle, about 1 minute. Stir in the wine and let simmer, stirring often, until completely absorbed, about 1 to 2 minutes.
Add all the stock, stir to combine and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the rice has absorbed the broth and is cooked through, about 10 to 12 minutes.
When the rice is done, taste for seasoning and remove to a large bowl and let sit until cooled to room temperature, about 40 minutes. Cover and refrigerate until completely chilled, at least 2 hours or overnight.
When risotto is fully chilled, place the eggs in a shallow dish and beat with a fork. Set aside. Place the panko bread crumbs in a second shallow dish and set aside.
Measuring about 2 Tablespoons per cake, form the risotto into small, round 1 ½ inch patties. If the risotto is sticking to your hands too much, moisten them with a little water. If the rice isn’t sticky enough and the patties aren’t holding together, squeeze the rice in your palm a couple of times until it sticks.
Working with 1 risotto cake at a time, coat it with egg, letting any excess drip off, then coat it evenly with the panko, pressing gently so the breadcrumbs adhere. You can do this in the morning and refrigerate until ready to sauté.
Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat and add enough olive oil to generously coat the bottom of the pan. When the oil is hot, add the risotto cakes and fry until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes. Flip and continue cooking, adjusting the heat if necessary, until golden brown and heated through, about 2-3 minutes more.
You can keep the cakes warm in a 250 degree oven on a baking sheet if necessary or transfer to a paper towel lined plate. Serve hot.
You can also add sautéed kale or spinach to the risotto before cooling, or sautéed diced mushrooms. You can serve these with a little pesto or pesto aioli, warm tomato sauce or a red pepper sauce, whipped goat cheese or sautéed mushrooms on top.
I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I learned how to make latkes from an unlikely source — my Puerto Rican mother-in-law, who like me, also did not grow up Jewish. But let me tell you something. That woman makes the best latkes I have ever had. The. Best. And I’ve had a lot. They’re a cross between lacy and meaty, with the perfect crispiness and seasoning. No one even cares what else is on the Hanukkah dinner menu since we all practically make a meal of latkes as they come out of the frying pan.
Since there are still 4 nights of Hanukkah left, I thought I would squeeze in this recipe. Full disclosure though, these are not my mother-in-law’s latkes. She wouldn’t dare mess around with Brussels sprouts or anything too healthy. She’s pretty straightforward — all potato and onion. And no one complains. But I taught these in my classes this month and everyone has been raving. Personally, I would love to substitute a little more Brussels sprout for potato, but my family stopped me here, the point where they couldn’t tell there were Brussels sprouts in there. I am crazy for Brussels sprouts and love the taste, so I think a little more would be a good thing.
I originally got the idea for using Brussels sprouts from my talented friend, Phoebe Lapine, who has a blog called “Feed Me Phoebe.” She actually makes her latkes with all Brussels sprouts! How about that? And she serves them up with an anchovy aioli. So fun to be young and cooking for not picky children. I would love anchovy aioli. I digress. I merely took my basic latke recipe and subbed in 1/2 pound of Brussels sprouts which I sliced in my food processor. And yes, I use a food processor to make latkes. They do not taste better when the potatoes and onions are grated by hand. That is an old wives tale meant to make all the ladies who lost their knuckle skin feel better. Using a food processor is awesome, fun and the way to go. See my post for how to use your food processor if this intimidates you. If you know how to use a toaster oven, you can use a food processor!
A couple of latke-making tips:
Latkes taste best right out of the frying pan. But you can make them ahead and freeze them if you want. Fry them until the are barely golden, i.e. underdone, and freeze them in one layer on a sheet pan. Once they are frozen, scoop them up and store them in a container or a resealable bag until ready to use them. Bake them frozen on a cookie sheet at 425 degrees until hot and crisp, about 10-15 minutes, and serve.
You can also make them an hour ahead and keep them warm in one layer in the oven at 200 degrees.
Do not make the latke mixture ahead of time though. It will turn all shades of ugly.
Frying, as opposed to baking, makes them taste the best, so just let go of the fact that you will be overheating your oil and crating all sorts of inflammatory particles and free radicles. Life is about balance. Enjoy the fried latkes.
You can use any number of binders including matzoh meal, potato starch, all-purpose flour, panko crumbs and even ground up cereal. I use potato starch if I am serving to anyone gluten-free, but I think it also makes a lighter latke.
Do squeeze the living daylights out of your potatoes and onions. The less moisture, the crispier the latkes. I posted a picture of me on Instagram squeezing the mixture in an extra-large nut milk bag. Best method ever. Then just wash the bag in soapy water and let air dry. I only use this one for veggies, not making nut milk. This is the one I use and it’s $9 on amazon. You’ll have it for years. Otherwise use a thin flour sack towel or cheesecloth.
When the bottom of the bowl starts to get liquidy, just pull the mixture from the top. You don’t want a drippy, soaking wet mixture. The latkes won’t be crispy and the oil will splatter everywhere.
If you do celebrate Hanukkah, have a joyful rest of the holiday. For everyone else, I’ve got you covered with some fab Christmas and party recipes coming up!
Shop the tools I used for this recipe by clicking on the images below:
½ pound Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed (or 3 cups pre-shredded)
1 ½ pounds Russet potatoes, about 2 or 3, peeled or unpeeled, and cut to fit a food processor, if necessary
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and quartered
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 Tablespoon sea salt
A few grinds of black pepper
½ - ¾ cup potato starch, panko bread crumbs, all-purpose flour, or matzo meal
Olive oil for frying (or a refined peanut oil or grapeseed oil has a higher smoke point, although not exactly healthful)
In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the slicing disc attachment, thinly slice the Brussels sprouts. Place in a large mixing bowl.
Change the disc to a shredding disc and shred the potatoes and onions. Squeeze out as much liquid as humanly possible. I like to do this by placing the shredded vegetables in a thin kitchen towel and wringing it out. Let the mixture rest for a few minutes and squeeze again.
Add the shredded potatoes and onions to the Brussels sprouts. Mix well. Remove 2 cups of this mixture and add to the food processor this time with the metal S blade and pulse twice until everything is finely chopped.* Add back to the mixing bowl.
Add the eggs, salt, pepper and bread crumbs to the vegetables and combine well.
Heat the olive oil in 2 large skillets until hot, but not smoking. You want more than a thin layer.
Using about 2-3 tablespoons of the Brussels sprout-potato mixture, form the latkes into 2 ½-inch pancakes. Flatten slightly and carefully place into the pan. When the edges are brown and crisp, turn them over and continue cooking until deep golden. I usually flatten them in the pan when I flip.
Lay paper towels on a cooling rack or brown paper bag. Transfer the latkes from the pan to the rack. Sprinkle with sea salt if desired. Serve immediately with applesauce or sour cream (if you must).
*If you don't want any "meatiness" to your latkes and prefer all lacy-ness (not really a word, but you know what I mean), don't pulse the vegetables.
Maybe you’re in the whirlwind of Thanksgiving preparation madness and can’t focus on the day after quite yet. But just thinking about this soup relaxes me. You know how I am rather structured and favoring traditions on Thanksgiving? I am just as much that way the day after Thanksgiving. I stay in my pajamas until noon, forgoing the turkey burn spin class that everyone else is at, in favor of a very leisurely breakfast with my family and holiday shopping on my laptop. But the first thing I do on Friday morning is to start my turkey stock on the stove with last night’s carcasses and fresh aromatic vegetables. Now when I smell turkey stock, it feels like a day off. And then I always make some version of a simple turkey soup for dinner. What’s nice about using the remnants of a roasted bird versus a raw one, is that you don’t have the accumulation of fat to contend with. So the resulting stock can be used that same day (as opposed to waiting until the next day to remove the fat that has solidified from the top.)
In general, you can take any soup which calls for chicken and chicken stock and replace it with turkey. Turkey just has a stronger, more distinctive flavor which tastes like….turkey! But you can take my Chicken and Lime Soup with Avocado and use turkey there, or Italian Wedding Soup with shredded turkey instead of turkey meatballs, and so forth. Or just make a batch of stock and freeze it for a rainy day. This soup though, is the perfect antidote to all the richness from Thanksgiving dinner. It’s a nice, light broth soup with a little tang from fresh lemon juice. I love that it doesn’t taste like yesterday’s meal. I personally like eating my leftovers in a transformed way, as opposed to just heating them up and having the same exact meal the next day. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course.
I had some turkey leftovers from a recent class, so I made this Lemon Turkey and Barley Soup for my family and they all, even Mr. Picky, loved it! What’s lovely about barley is that it thickens up the longer it sits so I enjoy this soup even more the next day, and so did my kids when I put it in their thermoses for school lunch. If you are gluten-free, I think any kind of rice would be nice instead of barley. Be mindful of the cooking times, though. Brown rice takes 50 minutes and white takes 18. I asked the kids what they thought of the lemon juice in the soup and they all thought it was the perfect amount — definitely lemony, but not too much. I personally would have liked a little more lemon, but that’s something that can be added to each individual’s bowl, as well. It’s a nice, fresh twist on a barley soup. For a more traditional barley soup, check out this link here and sub turkey stock if you like.
Ironically, this year my day after Thanksgiving will be different. I’ll be waking up before the sun comes up and heading over to KTLA Channel 5 (not in my pajamas) armed with my Thanksgiving leftovers to make some delicious recipes with the anchors that morning. If you are in LA and are interested in tuning in, my segment is scheduled for 9:45 am!
Until then, I hope you have a wonderful holiday. I always remind myself in the midst of the planning and prep and cooking that this day is about being mindful of all we have to be thankful for — and there’s always, always something. I am so grateful for all of you and my students, from whom I learn so much and who inspire me every day!
Warm the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, celery and garlic and sauté until the onions are translucent, about 8 minutes.
Add the herbs de provence and stir.
Add the stock, barley, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer and cook partially covered until the barley is tender, at least 30 minutes.
Stir in the cooked turkey and simmer until turkey is heated through. If you want the barley to become larger and thicken the soup a little, just simmer another 10-20 minutes.
Stir in the lemon juice and spinach and cook until spinach is just wilted. Taste for seasoning and add additional salt, pepper or lemon juice, if needed. Serve with grated Pecorino or Parmesan cheese, if desired.
* Herbs de provence is a blend of dried herbs which often include thyme, oregano, savory, marjoram, rosemary, and other herbs. If you don’t have herbs de provence, feel free to make your own blend of these herbs to use instead. ** You can also substitute 1-2 cups cooked grains and decrease the stock to 6-7 cups. You will just need to warm the grains through and not cook them for the full amount of time.
My oldest daughter is a freshman in college, if you can believe it. I totally cannot believe because I feel like I was just in college! She’s going to school in Texas where she is enjoying a lot of (shocking, I’m sure) Tex-Mex food. When we went to visit over Parents’ Weekend, our first meal was at Torchy’s Tacos and the first thing my daughter ordered was two quesos.
Normally my daughter is a pretty healthful eater, but I know she has a weakness for Sprinkles cupcakes and melted cheese, although let’s assume not in the same bite. Not that “queso” is actually cheese, even though that’s exactly what it means in Spanish. “Queso” in a Tex-Mex restaurant is basically doctored up melted Velveeta or a Land O’Lakes product called Extra Melt. Uh, that to me isn’t real cheese. And even if it were real cheese, pasteurized cow dairy is not awesome for you. Small amounts, ok. Fermented or cultured, a little better. Sheep or goat dairy, I’m in.
So I said to my daughter, “I can make a vegan version of this that I think is even better and won’t give you zits in the morning.”
“Whaaaat??? Since when? You’ve been holding out on me!”
Maybe so. In the meantime, I passed on the so called “queso.”
I did teach this vegan queso-type dip in my classes last year, and I figured it would be perfect to share before the Super Bowl. This recipe is actually a twist on my vegan mac and cheese recipe, jazzed up with jalapeño, black or pinto beans, and my new favorite product, Whole Foods organic frozen fire-roasted corn. If you haven’t made the mac and cheese, I am in love with it. Delicious and mostly veggies – no fake cheese, no nutritional yeast but still crazily resembles cheese sauce. And this version is a Tex-Mex-healthy-not-cheese-party that I am in love with, too.
This vegan “queso” I have used on nachos for the kids, on baked potatoes with salsa, on breakfast tacos and on spaghetti squash. Love it! I will come clean and tell you I much prefer it with butter over Earth Balance. Updated: Miyoko’s vegan butter works perfectly. If you absolutely cannot have butter, use the Earth Balance or Miyoko’s. If you have a choice, use the butter. I always use butter. Because it’s better. And then this isn’t vegan, but it’s cheese sauce made out of vegetables!!
This queso can be made a day or two ahead and reheated. It does not freeze well. Updated: it will be fine frozen, but you have to reblend it after defrosting it. But you won’t need to freeze it because you’re going to eat it ALL!! I don’t even care who wins the game on Sunday. Just give me a super bowl of queso!
2.06.21 I am updating the recipe to reflect the fact that some salts may be “saltier” than others.
In a medium saucepan, add the shallots, potatoes, carrots, onion and water and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer and cook, covered, for 15 minutes, or until vegetables are very soft.
Place the cashews, butter, salt, garlic, mustard, lemon juice, black pepper, and cayenne in a blender or food processor. Add the softened vegetables and cooking water to the blender or food processor and process until perfectly smooth. Taste for salt and adjust seasoning if needed.
Pour sauce back into pot, and add the jalapeno, corn, and beans. Warm over medium-low heat for 4-6 minutes. Can be made ahead and reheated.
*Options here: to save the step of soaking cashews, cook the cashews with the vegetables. OR use the same amount of RAW cashew butter or JOI almond butter base (it's blanched and raw and has no flavor) or cooked white beans if you are nut-free. **only use Earth Balance if you can't use Miyoko's vegan butter or can’t or won’t tolerate butter. The dip turns out better with Miyoko's or dairy butter, in my opinion.
Last summer, my son came home after two weeks at sleep-away camp and couldn’t wait to tell me about an amazing food that I obviously had never heard of or eaten. He assumed this because if I had ever enjoyed such culinary perfection, I would have surely been delighting my family with it over and over again. “Mom, you’re not going to believe this thing I ate at camp! I tried to remember everything about it so that you can make it at home! It’s called…a sloppy joe!” Should I have admitted I grew up in the 70’s and saw more than my share of Manwich commercials? And that I have actually personally never eaten a sloppy joe in my life? Because really the thought of sweet beef chili on a hamburger bun never spoke to me.
But it spoke to Mr. Picky! And when Mr. Picky likes something, I mobilize into action! A classic sloppy joe is a sandwich (specifically on a hamburger bun) with a loose, seasoned ground beef and tomato filling. It’s called “sloppy” because it’s kind of a mess to eat. I came up with this version of a sloppy joe using ground turkey instead of beef and stretching the protein with some pinto beans, which I know is not traditional, but I couldn’t help myself. And since Mr. Picky loves beans, I figured it was safe. I also deviated a little from regular sloppy joes by cutting way down on the added sweeteners and by not using ketchup as my base. I think I came up with a very tasty and nutritious dish whether you can call it a sloppy joe or not! All I care about is that Mr. Picky goes crazy for it and always begs me to put it in a thermos the next day for his lunch.
I do toast up some hamburger buns for my hubby and the kids, but I like to eat the sloppy joe mixture on top of some cooked grains, like brown rice or quinoa. That’s how I can still make one meal but adapt it to appeal to everyone. Usually I’ll serve a green salad or cole slaw on the side and I’m done. You can adapt this recipe is by subbing 1 pound of crumbled tempeh for the ground turkey and you’ll have a great (even better I think) vegetarian option. Feel free to sub sweet bell peppers for the green or add a grated carrot into the mixture or double the meat and omit the beans if you want.
It’s a really easy dinner, and it reheats beautifully if you want to make it in the morning or the day before. It actually freezes well, too. Something I did recently was to make the sloppy joe mixture after school, transfer it to my slow cooker and keep it on the warm setting until we all came home for “one of the best dinners ever in my life, Mommy.” Winner!
1 ½ cups cooked pinto beans or 1 15-ounce can, drained and rinsed (click here to learn how to cook beans from scratch)
1 18-ounce jar crushed tomatoes or tomato puree (I like Jovial organic tomatoes in glass jars.)
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
4 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce (look for vegan or gluten-free versions if you need)
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
accompaniments: toasted hamburger buns or cooked grains such as brown rice, millet or quinoa
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add turkey and brown, breaking up the meat into small crumbles until just cooked through. Drain and reserve in a separate bowl.
In the same skillet, warm the olive oil over medium heat and sauté the onions, pepper and garlic until onion is tender and translucent.
Add turkey back to the skillet and add remaining ingredients. Stir to combine and simmer over medium-low heat for 15 minutes. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper if needed.
You can also make a vegetarian version by subbing 1 pound of crumbled tempeh for the turkey and using a vegan worcestershire sauce. Just saute the tempeh where you would saute the meat in Step 1. Tempeh is not as moist as meat though, so you may need to add a few tablespoons of water or vegetable stock with the tomatoes. My family likes the sloppy joes on toasted hamburger buns with sliced dill pickles.
You can also make this more spicy with a little cayenne or hot sauce.