Beets are not an Abomination

Oh CSA, you give me beets.  I struggle with the beets.  I don’t love them roasted–too sweet.  I’ve julienned them and put them (raw) in cole slaw–not bad.  I’ve sliced them wafer thin and put them in smoothies– not bad, especially with pineapple and orange juice.  I’ve made ice cream–too “earthy”, as my adventurous and healthy-eating niece and not-so-healthy-eating brother put it.

The 1st year, I just pickled them.  I love everything about quick pickling:  the vinegar, the mustard seeds, the peppercorns, the salt…mostly the salt.  But salt is the enemy, delicious as it is, so I have lots of recipes set aside to handle beets.  Red velvet cake stands out as the favorite, but, again, not the healthiest option (I’m not saying I won’t, but I’m not making cake without an occasion, because if it’s here, I’ll eat it). I’ve seen several recipes lately for beet hummus, and this one made it to my Cuisinart this week.

Beet Hummus


1 15 ounce can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 pound beets, cooked and peeled*
1/4 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
cloves garlic, peeled and halved
1/4 cup olive oil

Kimchi and chopped Italian parsley (optional)


  1. In a food processor combine cannellini beans, beets, tahini, lemon juice, horseradish, garlic, and 1/2 tsp. kosher salt. Cover; process until nearly smooth. With the motor running, add oil in a thin, steady stream through the feed tube, processing until smooth. Transfer to a serving bowl. Cover; chill until serving time. Drizzle with additional olive oil. Top with kimchi and parsley, if desired.

*To cook beets: Trim and scrub beets; cut each in half. In a medium saucepan bring water to boiling; add beets. Reduce heat; cook, covered, 40 minutes or until fork-tender. Drain and cool. Scrape peel from beets.

I boiled the beets as directed here, cutting the largest ones in quarters so they were all approximately the same size.  After draining them and giving them a little time to cool, I was amazed at how the skins practically fell off!  I’ve previously roasted beets by wrapping them in foil (as most recipes direct). The skins are supposed to rub right off, but I’ve never had that kind of luck.  I usually handle my beets with a peeler before any kind of cooking (wear gloves or wash your hands IMMEDIATELY to avoid staying pink for days).  I am now a beet-boiling convert.

I love to make hummus from scratch–my favorite recipe is in a bread machine cookbook AKA my bread bible.  That sucker is stained and falling apart from 20 years of use.  The author suggests running your garlic cloves through the processor first so it doesn’t avoid the blades when you add the chunkier ingredients, so that’s how I started here.  Horseradish– one of those things we always have in multiple jars in the fridge and pantry– nowhere to be found. Horseradish mustard it is!  I didn’t measure my olive oil– I just poured until the hummus was the consistency I wanted.


I didn’t bother with the kimchi or the parsley garnish.  I’m sure it’s great– I love both– but I don’t need the frills.  Verdict: This hummus is delicious!  I don’t think it’s beet-forward.  It is lemony and sweet, but not in an off-putting, weird dessert-y way.  I loved the tang from the horseradish mustard; the garlic was subtle and the dish was very creamy.  If you eat this hummus with veggies instead of pita chips (my vehicle of choice) or crackers, the health benefits are high.  I will definitely make this again– that red velvet beet cake may never have a chance.




Asian Lettuce Wraps

CSA season is upon us!  We’ll receive our 4th box this week, and the beginning of the season is always heavy on greens– lettuces, chard, kale, arugula, spinach, pea tendrils.  I struggle to use all of these greens and find myself tearing recipes that allow for creative preparations.  Frequently, though, I rely on lettuce wraps, because one can only eat so many salads! Here’s one we ate the other night that was really terrific.  It’s from Better Homes and Gardens March, 2016 issue.

Vietnamese Pork Meatballs


1 1/4 pounds ground pork
stalk fresh lemongrass, smashed and minced (1 tablespoon)
teaspoons grated fresh ginger
clove garlic, minced
teaspoons fish sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons lime zest
1 tablespoon canola oil


  1. In a large bowl combine pork, lemongrass, ginger, garlic, fish sauce, and lime zest. Using damp hands, form into twenty 1 1/2-inch meatballs.
  2. In a large skillet heat oil over medium-high heat. Add meatballs. Cook 12 to 15 minutes or until done (165 degrees F), turning occasionally.
  3. Serve meatballs with cabbage, carrots, radishes, cilantro, and lime wedges. Drizzle with lime juice.

I stuck to this recipe pretty closely, except I used ground turkey instead of pork.  I’m not a huge fan of lemongrass, but I do have a bottle of pre-sliced rings of it in the fridge, so I measured out a tablespoon of that, and minced my ginger instead of grating.  It was very simple to put together.  The meatballs were very sticky without any sort of binder, and I was glad that I wore food service gloves to roll them.  They made a large mess!


I used sweet and sour sauce to season when we ate, and Husband used Trader Ming’s (Trader Joe’s) Gyoza sauce.  Both preparations were zingy and delicious, but I’m sure the lime juice or soy sauce would be equally pleasing.  We had a little napa cabbage that I sliced thinly to put in the wrap along with the grated carrot you see in the photo.  The meatballs were moist and tender, with really good texture.  I would definitely make these again!  An outer lettuce leaf held 3 meatballs, while the smaller leaves managed to contain 2, so you could get two wraps per serving (5 meatballs per serving, according to the recipe).  Tiny lettuce leaves or wonton cups could make this a really cute appetizer.

Panini Night

Note:  I put off publishing this post because I didn’t love the picture (no color– what a beige dinner).  But the recipe itself was tasty, so I’m opting to post despite the blah picture.

Ugh, just got home from meeting #1, and the bank, and gassing up the car. But I still have time to get this tasty dinner on the table while Husband is commuting. This is a quick and easy feature from All You, October 17, 2014.  I particularly love it because avocados are the best thing ever.

3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon minced chipotle in adobo sauce
1 teaspoon lime juice
4 soft sandwich rolls, split
1 avocado, peeled, pitted and coarsely mashed
Salt and pepper
8 ounces thinly sliced deli turkey breast
4 slices Swiss cheese
1 tablespoon unsalted butter


1. In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise, chipotle, and lime juice. Spread mayo mixture on top half of each roll. Spread bottom half of each roll with avocado and season with salt and pepper. Top with turkey and a slice of cheese. Combine halves to form sandwiches.

2. In a large, heavy skillet over medium heat, melt 1/2 Tbsp. butter (or mist a grill pan with cooking spray). Add sandwiches topside down; cover with foil. Place a second heavy skillet (or pot lid) on top to press sandwiches. Cook until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Flip sandwiches, adding 1/2 Tbsp. butter to pan or misting with cooking spray. Cover with foil and skillet. Cook until cheese melts, about 4 minutes. Halve sandwiches; serve hot.

Calories 543
Fat 27 g
Satfat 8 g
Protein 32 g
Carbohydrate 41 g
Fiber 4 g
Cholesterol 74 mg
Sodium 791 mg
I’m the queen of small appliances. I have the blender, the food processor, the coffeemaker, toaster, quesadilla maker, bread machine, and panini press. When we got married, I inherited a Foreman grill, Foreman rotisserie, and toaster oven. Thankfully, we have really good storage options at our house.  The panini press is such a great appliance– you get the crispness and warmth of a grilled cheese without the calories and fat from slathering the outside of the bread with butter or mayo.  Of course, these sandwiches came together easily.  The calorie count is high, but there are many adjustments you can make to control the elements here (eliminate the butter as we did by using the panini maker, swap out some or all of the mayo for reduced-fat mayo or Greek yogurt, use healthier bread, use reduced-fat or fewer slices of cheese).
Verdict:  Simple and tasty!  As noted above, the picture doesn’t do the flavors justice.  I can easily see adding tomatoes and other veggies (sprouts, lettuce, raddichio) for brightness and crispness.  Husband and I differ in our preference for darkness on a panini, so my sandwich was a bit crunchier than his.  The mayo was spicy and creamy, with a pop from the citrus.  We’ll definitely make these sandwiches again.

Pumpkin Pudding Pie

We are finally caught up with our monthly pies.  Number 75 was a deliberate pie from one of our many pie cookbooks, but this one was a bit accidental.  Husband and I were talking about pudding, for some reason, which happens to be one of his weaknesses.  I came across this recipe for pumpkin pudding (and other pumpkin recipes) in Prevention Magazine‘s November 2015 issue.  I had an open can of pudding in the fridge from my homemade pumpkin lattes, and it was almost exactly the amount I needed for this recipe.

 Serves 4

Pumpkin Pudding

In saucepan, cook 2 cups 1% milk, ½ cup sugar, 2 eggs, 3 Tbsp cornstarch, and ¼ tsp kosher salt, whisking over medium-high heat until thickened, 8 to 10 minutes. Reduce heat to low; cook, whisking, 1 minute. Whisk in 1 cup pureed pumpkin, 1 tsp vanilla extract, and ¼ tsp cinnamon. Pour through mesh sieve in bowl. Refrigerate, covered, 3 hours. Whisk before serving.

NUTRITION (per serving) 221 cal, 8 g pro, 40 g carb, 0 g fiber, 33 g sugars, 3.5 g fat, 1.5 g sat fat, 211 mg sodium

It was quick and easy to make, and with the exception of a little extra pumpkin, this recipe came together just as the recipe directs.  After the pudding chilled overnight, we poured it into a 9 inch graham cracker crust, after which we chilled it a little longer.


Verdict:  The pudding itself was delicious.  It was creamy and smooth (running the cooked pudding through a sieve pulled out the egg bits that coagulated).  The cinnamon was obviously present and enhanced the pumpkin flavor, while I thought the vanilla was subtle. For the pie, the pudding didn’t set very thickly, so slicing and serving it  was tricky.  The graham crust got a little soggy, but it didn’t ruin the pie.  Before we had decided to put this in a graham crust, we debated putting it in a fully baked pastry crust.  I think the soggy crust would have been about the same in pastry crust versus graham, but I’d be willing to test it to see.  My friend’s 6 year old daughter said the filling to crust ratio was off.  Most of our pies are deep dish, and I could completely see her point.  I think this pie would be dynamite in a gingersnap crust made in a deep dish plate.  We will definitely make this pie again (maybe in early fall) and try one of those other crust ideas.