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The Mayor is out of town this weekend at a family wedding, so that means I am on my own for (adult) dinner. Even when I am alone, I like to eat something satisfying that won’t leave me feeling awful. A bowl of cereal definitely will not cut it.

Individual Burger Bun Pizzas
On Friday night I made individual pepperoni pizzas. I had made pizzas for the Mayor and I the night before, so I had some leftover ingredients. I didn’t have any pizza dough or anything remotely similar, so I improvised and used hamburger buns. I preheated the oven to 400, spread some spaghetti sauce on the buns, covered with pepperoni, and sprinkled with low fat mozzarella. For seasoning, I sprinkled the top with kosher salt, pepper, and fresh oregano (the kosher salt on top really makes a difference). I baked until cheese melted.

Boca Chick’n Tortillas
Tonight I made one of my “cooking for one” staples – Boca Chick’n Tortillas. I have made these so many different ways, since I first invented these in law school. Now I almost always have boca chick’n patties in the freezer and tortillas in the refrigerator. The rest of the ingredients are completely flexible. (By the way, these are vegan.)

Tonight’s version of Boca Chick’n Tortillas was made with cherry tomatoes, onions, radishes, and lettuce. I started with some hot olive oil in a pan over medium heat. I sliced onions and radishes and added to hot oil. When softened, I added cherry tomatoes sliced in half and sprinkled with kosher salt, pepper, and cumin. I cooked one boca chick’n patty in microwave for one minute, then added to pan and broke up with spatula. I then transferred everything from the pan to a plate, and heated one tortilla in the hot pan just until warm (30 seconds should do it). Filled tortilla with prepared ingredients and chopped lettuce.

Other “Cooking For One” Tips
Remember, cooking for one is always a little better with a glass of wine. Check out this one from Spain!

You may have noticed by now, I am not much for detailed recipes.  My goal is simply to provide inspiration. I don’t usually list ingredients up front, and I often estimate or encourage you to experiment with substitutions.  Most things that I cook do not require sophisticated skills, equipment, or ingredients.  If you change a little bit here or there, not one will be the wiser.

When I was first learning to cook, I was a by the book, word for word, step by step kind of girl.  I needed to know exactly how many carrots to use and exactly how long to bake them for.  One time in college, I tried to make chocolate chip cookies from some recipe I found online.  The recipe had a major typo – it said to use 1/2 cup of salt, instead of 1/2 tsp of salt.  But here is the best part – I did it! 

Well, I’ve come along way since then.  I still follow recipes on occasion, mostly for baked goods or sauces where proportions can really make a difference.   Other times, I just take inspiration from recipes I find on the food network, in magazines, or on other blogs, and change ingredients to suit my taste (and my pantry).  More often, I just make it up as I go.  My CSA membership has encouraged this even more. 

Tonight for example, I had tri-tip steak defrosted in the refrigerator, but didn’t have any plans for what to serve with it.  I needed something quick because we were going to try to eat at the same time as the Little Man, and Cheerios were only going to last him so long.  So, I opened the produce drawer and found carrots and swiss chard (both from my CSA box).  I have never made those three things together in my life, but thought it might work out.  And it was in fact, quite delicious. 

So, here’s what I did.  I set the oven to 400 and started peeling the carrots.  I got them on a baking sheet, drizzled olive oil over them, and sprinkled some kosher salt over them (This is a fantastic way to cook carrots – my absolute favorite!). 

On to the steak!  I heated olive oil in a pan over medium high heat until it was sizzling.  I sprinkled the steak with some Lawry’s Seasoned Salt (which is a really easy but effective way to season meat, by the way) and placed in the pan.  I flipped it around until browned on all sides and then put the lid on the pan to help the steak cook through.

Next I put olive oil in a second pan and brought it up to medium high heat.  I sliced an onion and the swiss chard.  I started with just the onion in the pan (sofrito effect) and then added the swiss chard.  The chard melted down like spinach.  I thought it might be a little bitter on its own, so I decided to add a bit of sweetness with a dressing of sorts.  I sprinkled it with kosher salt, then added a few shakes of balsamic vinegar, a splash of Worcestershire, and a squeeze of Dijon mustard and mixed.  I was careful not to add to much of the “dressing” because I thought it could be overkill. 

Right about then, the steak and carrots were looking done.  I piled the swiss chard onto the plates first and placed the carrots on top.  I sliced the tri tip and added it to the pile. 

Delish and nutrish (and it even looked a bit fancy)!

This post is the first in a collection of breakfast recipes that may one day be served at my bed and breakfast.

I have had a long-time love affair with breakfast. Its hard to say when it all began. I have so many breakfast memories. I remember my parents making french toast and pancakes on weekends when I was a child. I remember going to Saturday “fat breakfast” (eggs, bacon, potatoes, cuban toast, and cafe con leche) at the Cuban coffee shop with my dad. I remember going to Einstein Brother’s Bagels with my friends in high school. I always got the cinnamon sugar bagel with honey butter (yummm). In college there were Krispy Kreme Donuts and Bageland. My summer in Spain was filled with chocolate croissants. Many a Law School morning started at Panera.

During law school, my love of breakfast became a love of bed and breakfasts. A week and a half after we took the bar exam, we got married at Sweetwater Branch Inn. I remember the stuffed French Toast I enjoyed for breakfast that morning.

In Alexandria, I enjoyed the sunnyside egg over hash browns at Jack’s Place for a time, but most of all I remember pumpkin pancakes on a fall weekend getaway to Lexington.

And then we arrived in breakfast Mecca – San Diego. Oh, how I love San Diego breakfast! I love the bread plate at Bread & Cie. I love the morning glory pancakes and the chorrizo eggs at Naked Cafe. I love the power pancakes at Crest Cafe. I love the cornmeal blueberry pancakes and the coconut french toast at the Mission. I love the breakfast burrito at Ki’s. I love the coast toast (and the view) at Brockton Villas. I love the chunky apple muffin and the pumpkin muffin at Come on In Cafe. Obviously, I could go on and on!

Today’s recipe for Cottage Stralmond Cakes is inspired by the morning glory pancakes at Naked Cafe and the power pancakes at Crest Cafe. Do not be scared off by the cottage cheese – it just adds texture!

Cottage Stralmond Cakes
Let’s make this easy. You can start with any pancake mix you are used to using. If you have a pancake recipe, use that. If not, I recommend Bisquick mix (I find that it has less of that artificial sweet flavor than some of the pancake mixes). Make pancake batter according to recipe or box instructions.

Then the fun begins. For every two cups of dry pancake mix, add about 1/2 cup cottage cheese, 1/4 cup sliced (not slivered) almonds, 1/4 cup dry oats, and 1/2 cup sliced strawberries. (You can always change the amounts and ingredients to suit your preferences. None of these ingredients are essential to the basic pancake recipe.)

Scoop 1/4 cup of batter and pour into pre-heated pan. Flip when small bubbles appear on uncooked side of pancake. Cook a few more minutes until pancake appears cooked through. Repeat with remaining batter.

Serve with butter and warm maple syrup.

Burgers of all kinds are a weeknight dinner staple in the bunny household. We eat turkey burgers, chicken burgers, beef burgers, veggie burgers, and black bean burgers. We eat burgers topped with onions and mushrooms, guacoamole, onion rings, zucchini relish, whatever I can come up with that day. Yes, we loooove burgers!

Today’s feature burger is Bunny’s Sloppy Guac Burger. Many of my burgers are “sloppy” because I love adding moistness to my burgers. This usually results in burgers that are falling apart, but DELICIOUS!

Bunny's Sloppy Guac Burger

Bunny's Sloppy Guac Burger

Start with a sofrito. Sofrito will add flavor and moisture. In case you’ve forgotten, that means heat a little olive oil over medium heat and add one chopped onion with three cloves chopped garlic. Cook until softened.

While sofrito cooks, in a bowl combine one pound ground beef, 1/4 cup breadcrumbs, sprinkle of salt and pepper. When sofrito is softened, add to meat mixture (but reserve some for guacamole). Now you have options. You can add just about anything. If you are going to add additional vegetables beyond the basic sofrito, cook them with the sofrito. Cooked veggies will work much better than uncooked. You could also add a heaping tablespoon of cottage cheese or riccotta cheese as an extra “moist maker.” Believe it or not, you could even add a jar of any vegetable baby food (more on this in a future post).

Crank up the heat in your pan to medium high and form patties. Cook for about 7 minutes on each side. Remember, these are MOIST and sloppy burgers, so avoid turning too many times, or they will really fall apart. That said, even if they do fall apart, don’t worry about it!

While burgers cook, make guacamole. Add reserved sofrito to a small bowl. Dice avocado and tomato and add to bowl. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and cumin. Add juice of one lemon or lime. If using Haas avocados, the lemon or lime is important to prevent the avocado from turning brown. If using Reed avocados (which we get in our CSA box), you don’t have to worry about oxidation, but the lemon or lime is still nice for flavor. Mix everything together. You can mash the avocado if you prefer, but it is also good with some of the avocado pieces in tact.

When burgers are cooked to desired doneness, top with swiss cheese while still in pan. Once cheese is slightly melted, place burger on bun and top with guac. You could also top with sauteed sliced onions if desired.

Serve with onion rings!

Every Sunday I suggest an easy picnic recipe – something light and portable, perfect for some outdoor family time.

The Mayor had to work yesterday, so the Bunny and I met up with him for a lunchtime picnic. I brought along this New Three Bean Salad and a bag of Zucchini Muffins (we got zucchini and green beans in our CSA box last Sunday). I made some chicken to go along with the salad (because the Mayor is once again the anti-Vegan), but forgot it at home! I also realized after the fact that I was supposed to chop the green beans (I don’t follow directions very well – this will likely be a recurring theme here). Smaller pieces of green beans probably would’ve made all the ingredients come together more effectively, but it still turned out to be pretty tasty! As for the little Bunny, he had some Cheerios and also tasted some small pieces of green bean.

New Three Bean Salad with Zucchini Muffins

New Three Bean Salad
This recipe is slightly adapted from the August issue of Sunset Magazine.

Steam 10 oz frozen shelled edamame for four minutes. Add one can drained and rinsed chick peas and steam with edamame for four more minutes.

Mix zest of two lemons with 1/4 cup lemon juice, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. sugar. Add edamame and chick peas to lemon mixture.

Separately steam 10 oz. green beans (chopped to 1 in. pieces) for four minutes. When done, immediately immerse in ice or run cool water over beans.

Add green beans and 6 diced green onions to edamame chick pea and lemon mixture.

Serve within one hour.

Zucchini Walnut Muffins
This recipe is available on www.cooks.com.

In large bowl combine 3/4 cup whole wheat flour, 1 cup all purpose flour, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1 tbsp. baking powder, 3/4 tsp. cinnamon, and 1/4 tsp. salt.

In a separate bowl, whisk two large eggs, 3/4 cup milk, and 1/2 cup melted butter. Add 1 cup shredded zucchini (about 2-3), 1/2 cup dark raisins, and 1 cup walnuts.

Pour liquid ingredients into dry ingredients and mix just until combined.

Bake at 375 for 20 minutes.

Always.

My dad is a creature of habit. He goes to the same Cuban coffee shop twice a day, every day, and orders a shot of espresso. He has lived in the same house for over 40 years. He always eats cereal for breakfast and soup and saltines for lunch.  

Always.

Me and My Dad

When I tell him about something I am cooking, invariably, he says, always start with a sofrito. This is just one of the many pieces of advice that comprise the world according to my dad (others include, fix bayonets and charge and make your bed.) This advice could be the subject of an entire book.  But before we get to more recipes, I think we need to at least address the sofrito issue.

What is a sofrito? Essentially it is the beginning of all good cooking. You start with a little olive oil in a pan over medium heat. My dad then adds diced onion, garlic, and green pepper. I usually just do the onion and garlic. Cook until softened. And there you go! Sofrito. Sofrito is traditionally used in Latin cooking, but Sofrito makes almost anything better. Making burgers? Add sofrito into the burger mixture before forming your patties. Making Spaghetti with meat sauce? Start with a sofrito.  Making stir fry? You get the point, right?

Some people add more to their sofrito, but even the basic onion and garlic will completely change your dish.

Now, that I got that out of my system, we can move on to something a little more innovative than rice.

Recently, we signed up for a Community Supported Agriculture (“CSA”) share at one of the local farmer’s markets.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with CSA programs, “shareholders” (term used loosely) commit to a farm for a certain period of time (we paid for a quarter up front).  In exchange for their support, shareholders receive a box full of whatever is in season each week.  It is a great way to “eat seasonally” if you are into that kind of thing.  It also forces you to eat (and cook with) foods you may have never tried before.  We have already received turnips, radishes, beets, mizuna, and kale, all of which I had never cooked with before (not so much a fan of the beets, but love everything else).  

Almost every week we have been getting carrots (last week’s were HUGE) and I hadn’t used any in three weeks.  (No, my white balance does not need adjusting.  Those carrots are purple.  They are orange after you peel them.)

so many carrots

So, I decided to do a stir fry tonight to use up some of the carrots.  This recipe was inspired by this, which I came across when I was searching for a recipe for mizuna.  Obviously stir fry is a very flexible recipe.  Its a great way to make use of whatever produce you have in your kitchen.  The key to a good stir fry is to cook quickly over high(ish) heat while keeping the ingredients moving in the pan, so they don’t burn.
Note: This is a great vegan/vegetarian recipe if you leave out the chicken.

Add a few tablespoons of vegetable oil to wok (or any pan or skillet) and heat over medium high heat.

Dice one onion, one anaheim pepper, three cloves garlic, and add to pan.  

Once onion, pepper, and garlic are softened, add two cups diced carrots and one cup mushrooms.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  

In a small bowl, mix 1 tbsp. soy sauce, 1 tbsp white wine, 1 tbsp cornstarch, 1 tbsp sugar, 1 tbsp pepper.  Dice 1 1/2 cooked chicken breasts (we used leftovers from last night, but obviously you could start with raw chicken as well).  Add chicken to soy sauce mixture and let sit.

Once all veggies are softened in wok, add chicken.  If chicken is already cooked, just stir until incorporated.

Add diced scallions.

Serve with rice and leftover curry sauce.

 

I got a lot of carrots in my CSA box stir fry

I got a lot of carrots in my CSA box stir fry

By the way, you can find a CSA near you at http://www.localharvest.org

Update 7/30/09 – I found this tiny-living blogger who feels differently about rice cookers, but proposes using them in place of a stove!

Next time you are at Target, and thinking, What useless things can I spend my money on today?  Please buy this or this (which are actually not useless, but might satisfy your urge).  But please, DO NOT buy a rice cooker!  Unless you do not own a stove, there is no more useless appliance on earth (if you know of a more useless appliance, I would love to hear about it – leave me a comment).  

So, here it is…how to make rice without a rice cooker:  Put two parts water to one part rice in a pot.  Turn burner to high heat.  When water comes to a boil, reduce heat to low and cover.  Rice is done in 20 minutes.  (Recipe courtesy of my dad.  Or your dad.  Or anyone who does not own a rice cooker!)

Full disclosure:  We owned a rice cooker until a few weeks ago when we sold it to Wayne at Starbucks. Wayne, if you are reading this, I am sorry for your unfortunate purchase.  I will sell you my rice recipe for $20.

Every Sunday I suggest an easy picnic recipe – something light and portable, perfect for some outdoor family time.

We’ve been really into family picnics lately.  It has been so hot some days that sitting under a big shade tree is cooler than sitting in our unairconditioned house (don’t let anyone tell you that you don’t need airconditioning in San Diego). The Baby Bunny always gets a huge smile on his face when we set him down on his picnic blanket and set up his tent. Sometimes our “picnics” don’t even involve food. Just a blanket and some shade. When we do eat, Little Man usually enjoys a nice bowl full of Cheerios.

Today I picked up some sourdough bread from Bread & Cie at the farmer’s market and made Curry Chicken Salad Sandwiches inspired by this recipe.  

 

Curry Chicken Salad Sandwhich

Curry Chicken Salad Sandwich

Here’s what I did…

Bake two boneless skinless chicken breasts in the oven at 350 for 25 minutes.

Shred chicken and add to bowl.

Dice two apples (pears also work very well) and add to bowl.

Add 1/2 cup raisins to bowl.

Sprinkle with salt and pepper In a separate bowl, mix 1 cup mayonaise, 1/4 cup commercial chutney, 1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder.

Once curry sauce is mixed, add to bowl with chicken. Mix.

(Update: I forgot to mention, you may not want to use all of the curry sauce.  Start with a little bit and mix.  Keep adding until you have your desired “creaminess.”  The leftover sauce is awesome for just about anything.  Try dipping your french fries in it!)

Slice bread of choice (try raisin or fig bread) and pile chicken salad mixture onto bread to form sandwich.

(We used the leftover chicken salad for dinner, served with Khashi’s new curry 90 second rice and peas. Surprisingly good combination.)

About Me

Mom to a one-year-old Super Bunny. Amateur cook and photographer. Tiny living enthusiast. Lawyer who would rather write about muffins than motive.

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