Posts Tagged 'walnuts'

Magic Scotchie Cookies

Why are these called magic scotchie cookies? Because I incorporated some features of magic bars (or 7-layer bars, or Hello Dolly bars) with scotchies (oatmeal and butterscotch chips). I left out chocolate chips because I didn’t want to overpower the butterscotch flavor. They’re pretty addictive, so I was happy to pack them up and send them to work with Mike.

This is the LAST day of my maternity leave! It’s gone by really fast, and although I know I’m really going to miss Ellie, I’m really happy to be going back to work. I stopped by for a department meeting the other day and ran into several of my students from last year who are now in high school. They were some of my favorites, and they all ended up running Cross Country this fall. One of them said she never would have considered it if I hadn’t encouraged her and talked about how fun it was. She started last year hating running, and now she’s already starting to train for the track season!

I’m going again today to pick up my work laptop and some of my teaching materials, because this weekend is going to involve a lot of lesson planning. I’m kind of nervous about how I’m going to balance teaching, training, blogging, and most importantly, being Eleanor’s mom, but fortunately Mike is amazing and has no problem trading off morning duty so we can both get workouts in, so that will help a lot.

Oh, and I finished the hat! It fits Mike perfectly, yay. Next up: a stocking for Ellie. I found a pattern but I’m pretty intimidated. Thank goodness for youtube videos – any time I get stuck, I find a video of what I’m trying to do, watch it about 35 times, and attempt it myself. It worked out pretty well for the hat, but that was a ridiculously simple pattern. There’s a good chance Ellie will just end up with a stocking from Target, but I’ll do my best.



Quinoa with Leeks and Walnuts

I went to Bikram yoga this morning for the first time in 4 years, and I didn’t feel like I was going to die! The first class I ever took, I had to sit down for a lot of it because the heat was just so overwhelming. In case you’re unfamiliar with Bikram, it’s a 90 minute yoga class in a very hot room. It’s intense, but you feel completely amazing walking out of that room dripping with sweat at the end. I can’t wait to go back! (And sorry for talking about sweat right before giving you a recipe…lets shift gears to more appetizing things now)

For the past couple years I was convinced I hated leeks. I can’t remember when the aversion started, but I made sure to avoid them (which, fortunately, was pretty easy). Then a few weeks ago I decided to give them another chance, so I made a Turkish recipe from Arabesquethat had leeks in an egg yolk-lemon sauce and realized they were completely delicious. So when I saw this recipe from A Couple Cooks, I was excited to make more leeks.

This dish is really simple, but there are a couple key things that really amp up the flavor. One is sauteeing some shallots and then adding broth to cook the quinoa. The shallots definitely add a subtle layer of flavor. The other is cooking the leeks in butter until they begin to caramelize just a little bit in places. The finishing touches of lemon juice and toasted walnuts round it all out.

(adapted from A Couple Cooks

Garbanzo Burgers with Muhammara

A few days ago I found out I won a trainer from a giveaway on Frayed Laces

Within 10 minutes of the Fed Ex man placing it on the front porch, I had it set up and was happily pedaling away.

It is SO MUCH BETTER than the exercise bikes at the gym! Aero position isn’t going to happen while I’m pregnant (it only took about 15 seconds to figure that out), but I’m completely in love with this thing already, and I think it’s going to make squeezing workouts in a ton easier when I have an infant around.

Speaking of workouts… if you ever need motivation to get on your bike/into the pool/out for a run, this video is the key. I think I’ve mentioned it before, but my sister showed it to me about a year ago and it ALWAYS gets me in the mood to work out. These days it also makes me cry, but that’s probably just pesky pregnancy hormones…

Or click here

After my nice little trainer ride, I was craving something with plenty of protein (and plenty of flavor). I made these burgers a few years ago (back when my photography skills were truly stunning…) and loved them.

This time I left out the sprouts, made them a little smaller (about 2 1/2″ across; the recipe yielded 20 that size instead of 12), and baked them in the oven instead of frying them on the stove.

Instead of filling them with lettuce and tomato, I put them on a pita with some thinly sliced lettuce and muhammara, which I don’t make often enough. It’s a Syrian dip made with walnuts, roasted red pepper, and pomegranate molasses (which should be available at your nearest Middle Eastern grocery store). I’ve seen versions that include tomato paste, lemon, and garlic, but I kept mine more simple.

thinly sliced lettuce
Garbanzo burgers” (about 3 small patties per person)
muhammara (below):

1 dried chile de arbol or 1-2 tsp ground aleppo pepper
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted and cooled
1/4 cup bread crumbs
2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
1 red bell pepper, roasted until soft, then peeled
1/2 cup warm water
salt to taste (usually about 1/4 tsp)

Combine everything except the water in a blender and pulse until well-mixed. Add the water gradually until the mixture is slightly thinner than hummus (add extra water if needed). Add salt to taste

Bulgur and White Bean Salad with Tarragon

Once again the weekend went by WAY too fast, but at least it was a good one and I don’t feel like I wasted a moment of it! Here’s a little re-cap (which I promise WILL tie in with this recipe).

Saturday started VERY early at the National Science Teachers Association conference.

I went to a bunch of different presentations which all (obviously) revolved around teaching science. It was really inspiring and convinced me even more than I already was, that I’m in the PERFECT profession for me. That’s a good feeling.

After that Mike came into the city and we did some shopping. I am nowhere near ready to shop the maternity section yet, but I definitely need tops with a little more room. I’m still at that awkward “is it a beer belly or a baby?” stage, so I’d like to disguise it as much as I can. Mike had been talking all week about surprising me on Saturday night. He had a restaurant picked out but wouldn’t give me any clues about it until we arrived. He picked a winner!

Gracias Madre is a vegan, organic Mexican restaurant and it is AWESOME! I tried to take pictures of the food but it was dark inside, and nobody wants to see overly grainy, yellow pictures of unidentifiable food, so I’ll spare you. Their vegan Caesar was INSANE. Romaine in a perfect, creamy dressing with chunks of avocado and topped with toasted pumpkin seeds. I kind of wanted to go stalk the open kitchen until I figured out the dressing, because it was so good. I also got mushroom enchiladas (good, but the mushrooms were over-salted and the tortillas were under the filling and sauce instead of wrapped around them, which was kind of weird). The mole was superb though… just the right amount of sweetness. They came with black beans and the BEST kale I’ve ever had. Ever. And I’ve eaten a fair amount of kale in my life. It was crisp but not undercooked, slightly spicy, and really garlicky. LOVE.

Usually after Mexican food I just feel bloated and gross, but even though I ate until I was pretty full, it was a satisfied and good full, not an I-need-to-put-on-sweatpants-immediately-or-I-will-pass-out full. It definitely helped that they didn’t bring chips to the table…

The time change kind of messed with me like it always does and I didn’t get started on my 18 mile run until 8:30 (SUPER late for a long run!) The highlight of the run? I saw some buffalo!

I have no idea why Golden Gate park has buffalo, but they do…enclosed in an electric fence AND a tall chain-link fence. The run was pretty awesome until about 15 miles. Then I started feeling kind of dizzy and weak, so I chugged a bunch of water and walked for a few minutes. I felt a lot better after my walk break, and my knee held up pretty well, so that was a plus. Boston is only 5 weeks away!

Between the run and the amazing vegan dinner, I realized I’ve been relying WAY too much on bread and cheese as staples lately, and I know I can do better for myself and my little parasite/fetus. So I need to make a lot more things like this. I mean, I still have a brownie recipe I’ll share later this week, and I made some pretty fabulous (but not so healthy) pizza on Friday night, but I’m going to try to get back to focusing on healthy, whole food vegetarian and vegan meals. Lets see how that goes…

This was the first time I think I’ve ever had fresh tarragon, and if you like fennel, you will love it! It has a slightly licorice-like flavor, and it really mixes nicely with the vinegar and shallots here. I love fine bulgur, because you don’t even need to cook it! Just give it about 15 minutes to soak and it’s ready. The recipe originally called for green lentils, but I really liked it with white beans instead. And the toasted walnuts are a must for both crunch and flavor! Mike made lettuce wraps with it, which looked pretty tasty.

(adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook)

2 cups cooked and drained white beans
1 cup fine bulgur
1 1/2 cups water
1 large shallot, finely chopped
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 medium carrots, finely diced
2 stalks celery, finely diced
3 tbsp chopped fresh tarragon
3 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted until fragrant
romaine leaves (optional)

Combine the bulgur and water in a medium bowl and set aside to soak for about 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

Stir the vinegar and chopped shallot together in a small bowl and let stand for about 10 minutes.

Put the celery, carrot, and beans in a large bowl. Stir in the bulgur, shallot mixture, and tarragon and drizzle with the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve over romaine if desired, topped with a sprinkling of toasted walnuts.

Carrot Cake Cookies (raw and vegan!)

Pleeeeease don’t let the “raw and vegan” up there deter you from this recipe (I’m guessing my sister has already stopped reading). These taste a little like carrot cake Clif Bars (one of my favorite flavors!) and they’re surprisingly easy. Plus they have just a few ingredients, don’t require you to turn on the oven, and are insanely satisfying at any time of day. If those Brownie Bites weren’t really your style, these are a great alternative. But I’ll stop trying to sell you on them now, and get to what’s really on my mind.


A year ago right now, we were getting on a plane from Bangkok to Portland, after our year-long travel adventure had come to an end. We spent a lot of time in Thailand in 2009, most of it in Bangkok, which is tied with London for my favorite city in the world. From a purely food standpoint, Bangkok wins by a MILE.

At this time a year ago, there were already (really creepy) Christmas decorations in the main shopping area.

I was running every morning in Lumpini Park…

and following it up with Thai iced coffee from a street cart.

It seemed fitting somehow to end our adventures in the same place they started.

It’s sometimes almost painful how much I miss that place!

But at least I can console myself with these cookies. And I’m not sure that cookies is the best word for them, because the texture is actually more like dough. Amazing, dough.

This was a total experiment that started with just throwing random stuff into the food processor.

I kept adding stuff (and tasting) until they seemed ready, then I rolled them in coconut and let them chill for about an hour. I knew I loved them but the real test was Mike. He loves all cookies, but sometimes my kitchen experiments are a little too out-there for him (and he didn’t go crazy for my maple-almond butter cookies), but we were both in love with these, so the recipe is a keeper!


makes about 24

1 cup (packed) pitted medjool dates
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup old fashioned oats
2 small carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup dried unsweetened coconut (for rolling)

Combine all ingredients (except coconut) in a food processor and pulse until mixed but not smooth. Taste and add more spices according to your tastes.

Spread the coconut on a plate

Moisten your hands so the mixture doesn’t stick. Pick up about 2 tsp at a time and roll into a ball between your hands. Roll in coconut and flatten slightly, then place on a plate. Repeat with remaining dough, then chill for at least an hour.

Zucchini Salad with lemon and mint

So, I made it back from New Zealand…finally. The plane got struck by lightning and the customs line at LAX was ENDLESS, but I’m happy to be back to summer! (That’s not to say I didn’t love New Zealand…I did, and I highly recommend you go there). After so many fabulous (but rich) meals and desserts I decided it’s time to clean up my diet a LOT, and wanted to make the most of the zucchini surplus that seems to be happening everywhere right now.

I used one of my all time favorite kitchen gadgets to make thin strips of zucchini, but if you want to work on your knife skills, you could just cut them. Then I tossed the zucchini with salt, lemon juice, fresh mint, and chopped walnuts. Fresh, simple, and perfect as a side-dish with just about anything! I’m listing proportions for one zucchini, so you can easily multiply it based on how many you have or how many people you’re serving. This is one of those dishes that is best after sitting at room temperature for about 20 minutes, and of course I recommend tasting and adjusting the amount of salt, lemon, and mint to suit your preferences.


2 servings

1 medium zucchini, cut into long, thin ribbons
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tbsp fresh mint, chopped
2 tbsp chopped walnuts

Toss the zucchini with salt and let stand 5 minutes. Drain off any liquid that accumulates in the bowl. Add the lemon juice and mint, and let stand for about 20 minutes. Taste and adjust lemon, mint, and salt, then top with walnuts to serve.

Barley Risotto with Spinach and Walnuts

Over the last two months, I’ve gone from thinking barley was just in weird soups at mediocre restaurants to being more than a little obsessed with it. I recently had a craving for risotto, and when I saw that Heidi Swanson had made some with barley in Super Natural Cooking, I was immediately inspired.

I made a few changes to the recipe in the book because using both orange and lemon seemed like it would be citrus overkill for me. I also used spinach instead of arugula because I just like spinach a whole lot more. This doesn’t get as creamy as risotto made with arborio rice, but it’s much healthier and Mike called it one of the best things I’ve made lately (which is probably because my attempt at vegan macaroni and cheese last night was a GIGANTIC flop). So, you want risotto but you’re trying to eat more whole grains? Here you go!

(inspired by Super Natural Cooking by Heidi Swanson)

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 shallot, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
a few pinches of salt
2 cups pearled barley
1 cup white wine
5 cups vegetable broth
grated zest of 1 lemon
3 cups roughly chopped fresh spinach
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 tbsp sour cream
1/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts

Heat the oil over medium heat and add the onion, shallot, and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about five minutes.
Add the barley and salt and cook for another 5 minutes. Meanwhile, bring the broth to a simmer in a separate pan.
Stir in the wine and keep at a simmer. Stir in the broth, one cup at a time, waiting until most of the liquid is absorbed between additions. You may not need to add all the broth, but you’ll know when you’ve added enough because the barley will be tender and most of the liquid will be absorbed.
Stir in the lemon zest and spinach and stir until the spinach is wilted.
Remove from heat and stir in the parmesan and sour cream. Taste and add salt if needed, then serve, sprinkled with chopped walnuts.


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