Tag Archives: eating

Put your money where your heart is. Buy local.

28 Apr

I am just back from a long Easter weekend in North Carolina. We stayed with my parents for 5 days and had a wonderful time. The warm weather and sunshine were such a welcome change from the cold, rainy days we’ve been dealing with here in Michigan.

I came home refreshed…and inspired.

While in North Carolina, I saw a poster in a store window that said “Put your money where your heart is. Buy local.” I thought it was so perfect. I know it refers to everything consumers spend their money on — not just food. But, of all the things I’ve learned over the last 16 months or so since I started this journey, trying to buy locally-made or locally-grown products as often as possible is the one that’s the easiest for me to incorporate into my daily life. I know it’s not always feasible to buy local goods…hey, I’m on a budget! But when it comes to food, I can’t stress enough how smart it is to really know where your food comes from, know your farmer personally, grow your own vegetables or support your local farmer’s market, and shop at smaller family stores instead of the big box stores whenever you can. Not only does this almost guarantee your food is safer, tastier and healthier, it also provides financial support to your own neighborhood. Now that’s inspiring.

As I’ve mentioned many times before, my mom is a fantastic chef. I always enjoy her cooking and our discussions about food, cooking and health. My Easter dinner was SO good. While the omnivores in my family dined on grilled pork, I devoured marinated and grilled portobello mushrooms. The side dishes were all vegan –- oven-roasted vegetables, grilled asparagus and a wonderful chopped salad with toasted almonds and chai vinaigrette.

While in Asheville on Monday, we had a fabulous lunch at Rezaz Mediterranean Restaurant. (I should have taken a picture!) We started with an appetizer of polenta fries with their housemade tomato jam (a sort of chunky sweet catsup). Honestly, I could think of a hundred things to slather that tomato jam onto! It was that good. My meal was a fat little potato cake topped with a green olive tapenade. On one side of this was a fresh arugula salad. On the other side were four thin slices of grilled ahi tuna. Then the whole plate was lightly drizzled with an orange vinaigrette. After lunch, we shopped some more and came home with 3-4 new cookbooks each. That gets me inspired!

Speaking of inspiring…I consider my dad the king of all things house-related. He’s a builder, woodworker, tile layer, painter, wallpaper hanger, upholsterer, deck designer, plumber, and master of just about everything under the sun. Honestly, my dad can do anything! His latest project is a restaurant in downtown Waynesville, NC, where they live. The owner/executive chef bought an existing restaurant building but is basically gutting the whole place and starting fresh — using local products such as reclaimed barn siding, tin panels and other materials. My dad has been working on this project for months. We got to tour the construction site while there and meet the owner/executive chef. His name is Kaighn Raymond and he, too, is an inspiration.

The name of his restaurant is Frogs Leap Public House. It will be a farm-to-table restaurant meaning they will focus on locally-grown, sustainably-farmed organic foods, which will then be transformed into amazing regional dishes. He’s planning to have a seasonal menu that will feature the freshest produce from local farmer’s markets and farms. I got to talk with him as we toured the place and I absolutely cannot wait to eat there! It looks like the grand opening will be in June, but I’m not sure we’ll get back down there before fall.

If you want to know more about Frogs Leap Public House, check out their website at http://frogsleappublichouse.org or “Like” their Facebook page. I left the restaurant…inspired.

So inspired, in fact, that I already have several new recipes on the menu for next week. Recipes and photos to follow, so stay tuned!

Oh, and put your money where your heart is!

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That’s what you get for asking.

29 Jan

As we sat down for dinner on Thursday night, I reminded everyone that I would be grocery shopping after Cub Scouts that night. That meant we needed to come up with ideas for dinner for the next week. I always shop from the week’s menu so I’m not wandering aimlessly through Kroger just grabbing random stuff. Without a plan for meals, how do you even know what to buy? Aside from that, not planning ahead means running to the store several more times during the week to pick up miscellaneous items for that night’s dinner.

So I asked for ideas and they all looked at me blankly. “Okay,” I said, “here’s the deal. Everyone gets to choose one complete dinner. Whatever you pick, I will make.” Well, then everyone had an idea! Jason immediately said “brats on the grill.” I said, “Fine.” (Followed by a look of surprise from him!). Next?

Someone said “panini.” I said, “how about a soup with that?” “Tortilla Soup, please.” Done. Next?

“Can we have taco pasta?” Done.

I said, “How about something with fish?” I think in unison they said “Fish Tacos.” They’re kind of time-consuming, but I agreed, since I haven’t made them in forever.

That left one day, and a bunch of blank faces staring at me. I said, “There’s one more day and the first person who comes up with an idea gets it.” Madison immediately said, “Can we have those vegan chicken nuggets from the store?!” And Logan shouted, “with that purple sauce you made one time?!” (the blackberry-mustard dipping sauce from Eating Well magazine.) I said, “what else do you want with those?” And before anyone else could respond, Madison said “mashed potatoes!” Done.

Well, that was easy enough. Only thing is, we’re eating a lot of taco-ish meals this week! I guess that’s what I get for asking, huh? 🙂

Here’s the breakdown:
Sunday – fish tacos, southwestern slaw, fresh pineapple
Monday – grilled brats (portobello mushroom for me), grilled marinated vegetables, applesauce
Tuesday – taco pasta, salad
Wednesday – vegan chicken nuggets with dipping sauce (June 24 post), mashed potatoes, corn
Thursday – tortilla soup (October 26 post), grilled panini

I guess I’ll worry about the weekend when it gets closer.

Regarding the brats, I had planned on buying the same old Johnsonville brats I usually buy in the summer, along with a pack of vegan brats for myself and Madison. When I got to Kroger and went to pick up the brats, I couldn’t bring myself to buy them. I stood there staring at that package…knowing it was 100% factory-farmed meat. I looked at every single package there. Nothing but factory-farmed meat. I contemplated the turkey brats…for about a second…then remembered all I had read about factory-farmed turkey. Disgusting. I put them back and walked over to the health food section again. I considered vegan brats for all of us, but I knew that wasn’t what Jason had in mind when he said he wanted brats. I kept looking. I finally came across a package of Organic Prairie’s Organic Pork Bratwurst. The front of the package says “Pork used is humanely raised on family farms without antibiotics.” I bought them ($6.99 for 4 brats…not too outrageous).

When I got home, I checked out their website. Organic Farms is a co-op of family farms whose owners believe in farming ethically and sustainably, providing their animals with as much pasture time as weather will allow. Here’s the description for the bratwurst I bought:

Ours start with pasture-raised, heirloom-breed hogs that frisk in the fresh air and sun, yielding the big-hearted flavor and gusto that brats are justly famous for.

If you get a chance, and are in the market for ethically/sustainably raised meats, check out their website at www.organicfarms.com. Be sure to read the sections on pasture-fed animals and some of the descriptions of their farmers. Though I’d much rather buy locally-raised meat, I have yet to find pork raised happily. This suits me just fine for the two or three times a year that I make brats on the grill.

I’ll give you a full report on the taste of the brats after dinner on Monday!

Tasty enchiladas…and a week of simple cooking.

24 Jan

It’s Monday again. Blah. It’s 10 degrees out. Blah. I’m so sick of this weather, I just want to stay inside and read by the fire with a cup of hot tea all day.
Every day.

This is the kind of week that calls for warm, home-cooked comfort foods. We topped off this past weekend with vegan enchiladas garnished with lettuce, onions and salsa for dinner last night. They were warm and gooey and the spiciness seemed to heat me from the inside out! I served them with Spanish rice (recipe on March 15 blog post) and fresh pineapple and grapes. Jason and the kids topped theirs with sour cream. I topped mine with guacamole (recipe on March 4 blog post). I assembled the enchiladas in the morning and placed the pan in the fridge so all I had to do at dinnertime was pop them in the oven to bake. I usually make my own enchilada sauce and taco seasoning, but for super speedy cooking, canned enchilada sauce and a packet of low-sodium taco seasoning will work just fine (look for one without MSG).

The recipe makes enough filling to stuff about 14 corn tortillas. My 9×13 baking dish only holds 10 enchiladas, which is just the right amount for my family, so I usually put the rest of the filling in the refrigerator to be re-heated one evening for a tasty dip for tortilla chips. Feel free to make as many enchiladas as you can with the filling. You should have enough sauce. Simply adjust the amount of cheese as needed.

Also, these can be very easily converted for your cheese or meat eating family members. You can substitute regular cheese for the vegan cheese and you can substitute ethically-raised boneless, skinless chicken breast for the Gardein “chicken” patties.

Vegan Enchiladas
makes 10-14 enchiladas

2 Gardein “chicken” patties (non-breaded) or 4 oz vegan “chicken” strips
1 small onion, diced
1/2 of a green pepper, diced
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can diced tomatoes with jalapeno peppers
1 packet low-sodium taco seasoning
2 cans enchilada sauce
10 to 14 corn tortillas (6″ size)
1 cup shredded vegan cheese (or more to taste)

Coat a large skillet with non-stick cooking spray and heat over medium heat. Dice the “chicken” into tiny pieces and saute in skillet until lightly browned. Remove from pan and set aside. Re-coat the skillet with cooking spray and saute onions and green peppers until softened. (Add 1 tablespoon water if pan is too dry.) Stir in black beans, diced tomatoes with juice, and the reserved “chicken” pieces. Sprinkle taco seasoning on top and stir until well blended. Cook 5 minutes or so, until hot and bubbly. Turn off heat.

Preheat oven to 375. Spray a 9×13 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Spoon 1/4 cup enchilada sauce in the bottom and spread to cover completely.

Warm the corn tortillas between damp paper towels in the microwave (about 1 minute if stacked 5 tall). You want them soft and pliable so they don’t crack when you roll them. Pour remainder of enchilada sauce into a round, flat-bottomed bowl that is slightly larger than the corn tortillas. Lay a tortilla in the sauce and turn over to cover completely with sauce. Drain off excess and lay it in the baking dish. Spread 1/3 cup filling down the center, sprinkle with cheese and roll up. Slide it to one side of the pan, seam side down. Continue with remaining tortillas and filling, tucking them side by side in the pan. Pour remaining sauce over the top. (See picture below.)

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until sauce is bubbly. Serve with chopped lettuce, tomatoes, onions, salsa, guacamole, etc. Enjoy!

Note: You can make these in advance. Assemble all of them in the pan, cover with foil, and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature while oven preheats. Then bake until sauce is bubbly and they are heated through (may take slightly longer if they are still cold inside.)

Enchiladas ready for the oven.

The Rest of the Week:
It’s a busy week for Jason (he has meetings at the union hall on Monday & Tuesday nights and we have Cub Scouts on Thursday night), so this week’s dinners are quick, easy ones.

Here’s the menu:
Monday – Vegan Cheesy Broccoli Soup (October 21 blog post) with tossed salad and crackers
Tuesday – Grilled cheese sandwiches, oven fries and peas
Wednesday – Gyros and a new chickpea salad recipe I’ve been wanting to try (I’ll blog about it later if it’s a keeper)
Thursday – Vegan Mac & Cheese (April 7 blog post), sauteed mixed vegetables and applesauce
Friday – takeout pizza (kids’ request)

Nothing spectacular; just meals that come together quickly. All of them are kid pleasers, though, which makes my life easier!

Good food and fun exercise… I’m making progress!

17 Jan

It’s been a whirlwind start to 2011 already. Not only have I been busy designing for clients, I’ve really gotten focused on exercise. I’m exercising for 30 minutes, 5-6 days a week and feeling really good!

I guess the big thing these days is to switch up your exercise routine often so your body doesn’t get “comfortable” with it. It’s called muscle confusion. So that’s what I’ve been doing. On our cable programming, under videos on demand, we have a section full of free exercise programs that you can watch whenever you want. So each day, I choose one and go with it — Jillian Michaels’ abs, Leslie Sansone’s 2 mile walk, Disco Abs with Cheryl Burke, Billy Blanks’ Cardioke, and more. They run about 30 minutes. Some days, I put on the kids’ Wii Dance Party and do a half hour of dances. I’m having a blast while working up a big sweat!

I’ve also been eating as clean and whole as possible — lots of veggies, fruit, nuts, and grains like quinoa and brown rice, and the occasional bit of fish or shrimp. For now, I’ve completely ditched the gluten, just to see what that does for me.

Apparently, something’s working. Since January 2, I’ve lost 7 pounds. Woo hoo! I also FINALLY have some energy! And on Friday when I was at Kroger, I checked my blood pressure on the machine in the pharmacy (I check it there every time I’m in the store). BP was 140/90! I’m hoping that wasn’t a lucky low reading; that maybe it’s coming down because of the exercise. Hoping.

Anyway, I don’t have any new recipes to share yet because I’ve been making easy, simple whole foods. I did make the Cauliflower Pesto Soup from Isa’s new book, Appetite for Reduction. Delish! Even the kids went back for seconds. I’ll be making that one a lot. It’s full of flavor despite having only about 4 or 5 ingredients. Plus, it’s quick and easy. I made it a little thicker than her recipe. Yummm…

Other than that, I’ve been making simple stir-fries, steamed veggies, big salads and stuff like that.

Here’s what this week’s dinner menu looks like:
Monday – shrimp & veggie kabobs on the grill + baked sweet potatoes
Tuesday – Popeye Spinach soup + cheesy quesadillas (for Jason & the kids)
Wednesday – GF penne pasta with sauteed mushrooms and onions + a big salad
Thursday – fajitas in corn tortillas (veg for me, locally-raised beef for the fam)
Friday – not sure yet – omelets? leftovers?

This past weekend, we spent a ton of time with our good friends, Kevin and Lisa. It was so much fun! We absolutely adore them — and we laugh a lot when we’re together, which is good for the blood pressure! Lisa is trying to eliminate gluten from her diet, too. She said she feels better when she doesn’t eat it, but it’s a hard diet. I told her I would make her some GF goodies. She asked for doughnuts! You know me…always up for a challenge! They’re on the top of my baking list as soon as I get my new oven (which will, hopefully, be at the end of the month).

Hope everyone’s New Year started out as good as mine. Are you still working on your resolutions?

The new year is underway

7 Jan

…and so is my new plan.

What is the new plan? For starters, losing weight has been moved to the top of the list — above the trial and error efforts I’ve been working on for controlling my high blood pressure. I can’t help but think this might be the one thing keeping me from reaching my blood pressure goals. For the past week, I’ve really focused on what I’m eating and how much. And I’ve exercised for 30 minutes, four of the last five days. So far, so good. I can’t wait to weigh in tomorrow and see how I’ve done this week.

I’ve also been doing some reading. I have loved cooking vegan recipes. I’ve tried so many new foods and learned new ways to cook just about every vegetable and grain. Last weekend, I purchased “Appetite for Reduction,” the newest book by one of the top vegan cookbook authors ever — Isa Chandra Moskowitz. I’ve read her most popular cookbook, “Veganomicon,” and I often cook from my favorite of hers, “Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World.” Unfortunately, many vegan sweet treats are still high in calories and fat, so it’s time to move away from the baking for a while.

Lucky for me, Isa feels the same way. That’s why she wrote this new cookbook. It’s packed with low fat, low calorie vegan recipes. As she writes in the intro, this is not your mother’s low fat cookbook. This does not contain any fake stuff. It’s straight up, healthy cooking with grains, veggies and beans. The first recipe I made is the first recipe in her book — “Everyday Chickpea-Quinoa Salad.” I’ve only cooked quinoa once in my life and didn’t care for it. This recipe was fantastic! She said she eats this almost every day and I can see why. It’s filling, crunchy and tasty. As a matter of fact, it’s so tasty that my kids couldn’t get enough! Even my salad-hating 6-year-old went back for seconds and the other two said it was their new favorite. The dressing is to die for. We’ve already made the dressing twice and we’ve drizzled it on all kinds of stuff — even noodles. And, it’s adaptable. Start with her basic recipe but change out the quinoa for cooked rice or substitute spinach for the Romaine. I added shredded carrots to mine, but next time I’ll also add tomatoes and cucumbers. I can’t wait to whip up more of her recipes.

The other thing I read this week was an article in the January issue of Bon Appetit magazine. It was written by Mark Bittman, cookbook author and the author of “Food Matters.” It totally hit the nail on the head for me. It was exactly what I had been trying to figure out for my diet and it made total sense. He writes:

“…I decided to experiment on myself by creating a series of rules that I hoped would not only improve my health but also lead to a new, more sustainable American diet that would feature the sensibility, wisdom, and benefits of veganism and the pleasures of the omnivore way of cooking and eating.”

I love the benefits I’ve received from eating a vegan diet for the last year. And I truly have enjoyed the foods. I also 100% embrace the idea of sustainable eating and the belief that all animals should be treated compassionately, even if they are being raised for food. (I do NOT support factory farming and do not purchase meat products or eggs from my grocery store.)

Bittman explains that this philosophy is often called Flexitarian, though it is very much like the Mediterranean way of eating. He writes:

“I created a personal diet, one that was flexible enough to allow me to enjoy all of the food I love daily (and which could be adapted by others to fit their own schedules), yet one that was strict enough to really have an impact.”

He basically eats a vegan diet, with the occasional piece of meat.

This makes so much sense to me. Now, I know there will be vegans who will desert me because of this. But, honestly, the biggest struggle of my vegan year was what to do when eating somewhere other than home. It stressed me out beyond belief. I grew up in a family where meals were shared with loved ones. Great care was taken to make the meal and it was meant to be enjoyable. Let me ask you this — how enjoyable is it to go to a restaurant and have to nit-pick your way through the menu, requesting multiple changes, and ending up eating steamed broccoli (no butter), rice or noodles (no cheese or butter) and a roll (praying it wasn’t made with egg)? Trust me, there’s nothing enjoyable about it. I spent more time stressing over what to order than any person should have to, only to end up eating a pile of plain vegetables when everyone else was enjoying something they truly wanted.

And — even more stressful? Eating at someone else’s house. We get together regularly with my in-laws for Sunday dinner and games. I have to say my mother-in-law did a great job of making sure I had something to eat that was vegan, but it was often what everyone else was having but without the butter, cheese, dressing, or anything else that would have made it a wonderful dish. Most of the time I took something that I had made, or threw a veg burger into my purse so I could guarantee myself a protein. Totally stressful and completely goes against my philosophy that meals should please your senses, satisfy you, and be an enjoyable event shared with friends and family.

So Mark Bittman’s words really hit home for me. And I am giving his philosophy a try.

Right now, about 90% of my meals are vegan. I’ve had seafood on a couple of occasions, and I’m still eating eggs which I added back to my diet last fall. I also enjoyed some of my dad’s homemade chicken sausage on Christmas morning. I hadn’t had it in a year and I really missed it! I made his Michigan Dried Cherry and Toasted Almond Chicken Sausage with sustainably-raised (aka happy) chicken. It was so good and I didn’t feel guilty about eating it!

I haven’t added any dairy products back in and I don’t think I will. I know I will never drink cow’s milk again. There are so many better, healthier options out there. I wouldn’t mind eating a bite of blue cheese or feta once in a while, but I don’t have a local, sustainable-farmed source for it. So, no cheese for now (unless I’m at someone else’s house and it’s already on the salad).

So there you go. Lots of vegan meals, a small portion of ethically-raised meat once in a great while, and a lot more exercise than last year. I’m excited to see where this leads me. I’m hoping the combination of a re-vamped diet, less stress about eating, and more enjoyment when dining with family and friends will be just the thing that gets both my weight and my BP back to normal.

Even if you have no desire to go veg — please consider reducing the amount of animal products you eat. And look for a local source for your meat and eggs. Not only does that support your local farmer, the products are fresher and taste so much better.

“Finally!”

21 Oct

That’s what Madison said at dinner last night. “Finally!”

Do you have something you put off doing for a long time because you think it will be too hard? And then when you finally do it, it wasn’t as bad as you thought it would be? Well, that’s what happened to me.

One of Madison’s all-time favorite soups is cheesy broccoli. I have a standard recipe I used to make all the time and everyone loved it, made with milk and tons of cheese. And then I went vegan. So all last winter, she begged me for it — and I avoided making it because I knew I would want to eat it. Plus, I couldn’t imagine trying to veganize it. It seemed impossible. So I put it off.

Yesterday, I finally did it. And I warned her that it wasn’t going to taste exactly the same because the ingredients were so different now.

It was a success! It came out creamy and cheesy, though not quite as cheesy as the old recipe. But she ate a huge bowl of it and requested that I make it again. Even the boys went gaga over it.

Yay!

Vegan Cheesy Broccoli Soup
makes 6 servings

3 tablespoons vegan butter (Earth Balance)
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
16 ounce package of frozen chopped broccoli
4 cups vegetable broth
1 teaspoon salt
6 ounces vegan American cheese, shredded or sliced
1 cup plain almond milk or soymilk
5 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
1/2 tablespoon dijon mustard
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon pepper
salt to taste

In a large stockpot, melt the butter. Stir in onions and garlic and saute for 3 to 4 minutes. Add broccoli, broth and salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until broccoli is tender, about 10 minutes. Add cheese and stir until melted and well blended. In a small bowl, whisk together almond milk, nutritional yeast, garlic powder and dijon mustard. Slowly add to the simmering soup, stirring constantly. In the same small bowl, whisk the cornstarch into the water until dissolved. Slowly add to the soup, stirring constantly. Continue simmering and stirring occasionally until the soup has thickened. Stir in the pepper and season with salt, if needed. Garnish with a little more shredded vegan cheese and enjoy!

Going Vegan, in Bob Harper’s Words

17 Oct

I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I watch NBC’s Biggest Loser. I started watching it a few years ago because some guys Jason worked with decided to have a Biggest Loser competition at work. Jason and I went in on the deal to see who could lose the highest percentage of body weight over 10 weeks (guess who won…me!). Anyway, I had never seen the show before that, so we started watching it. Ever since then, I’ve watched it pretty regularly. I see these contestants change their diets, exercise, and lose weight — and then come off their medications for high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol and more. It reassures me that I’m doing the right thing by trying to get healthy without drugs.

This past week’s episode featured trainer Bob Harper inviting some of the contestants to his house for dinner. After showing them the contents of his fridge, he informed them he was a vegan, so he doesn’t eat any animal products. The contestants then dined on roasted wild mushrooms, plus a beautiful-looking salad with heirloom tomatoes, roasted corn and fresh basil and a few other vegan dishes prepared by Bob’s friend, Brooke Larson. As he opened the foil-covered pans, I got a little hungry — it all looked so good!

I’m really excited that veganism was discussed on a show as popular as Biggest Loser. Many people think a vegan diet is weird or scary, and it’s not. It’s simply a matter of choosing foods from the earth instead of from animals. Not only do I feel better physically, I feel better knowing that animals were not mistreated in order for me to have a meal.

While looking for recipes from the show, I stumbled across this video. Though he’s being interviewed because he recently became the spokesperson for the Farm Sanctuary’s “Walk for Farm Animals,” I was amazed to see how much his comments expressed how I feel about veganism. One of the things he said was “I read too much,” which is a lot of the reason why I gave up meat. I’ve read so much on the subject that there’s no turning back now. If everyone knew what really goes on in the meat industry, they’d all be vegetarians. The information is out there — don’t deny yourself that knowledge. Here’s the interview:

I tracked down a few of the recipes Bob served to the Biggest Loser contestants the other night. These were provided by Brooke Larson for sharing with viewers, so I’m assuming it’s okay to share them with you. I haven’t made any of these yet, but as soon as I do, I’ll report the results here. If you try any of them, please let me know how you liked them.

Roasted Cauliflower
Serves up to 4 as a side dish

2 heads of organic cauliflower, cored and cut into uniform pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
5 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves pulled from stems
2 garlic cloves, smashed and skinned
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
sea salt and cracked black pepper

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Arrange cut cauliflower onto large baking sheet and sprinkle with olive oil, thyme, smashed garlic, and red wine vinegar. Season with salt and pepper. Gently toss and place into oven. Roast cauliflower until golden brown and soft, approximately 30 minutes. The cauliflower will taste nutty and the acidity from the red wine vinegar adds a beautiful tart, yet sweet, flavor! Enjoy!

Roasted Wild Mushrooms with Shaved Fennel Salad
Serves 4 as a side dish

Roasted Wild Mushrooms:
4 large handfuls of a variety of wild mushrooms (shiitake, morel, etc)
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 smashed garlic cloves, skinned and smashed
1 leek, washed, cut lengthwise, and sliced into 1/2 moon shapes
1 large shallot, minced
5 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves pulled from stems
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Gently wipe mushrooms with a paper towel/kitchen towel so they are free of dirt. Cut them into uniform size pieces and place on a large baking sheet.
Add the remaining ingredients to the baking sheet and gently toss with your fingers. Roast in oven until mushrooms are golden brown and slightly crispy, about 35 minutes.

Shaved Fennel Salad:
1 large bulb of fennel, cut in half, plus a few fronds for garnish
2 tablespoons olive oil
juice from 1/2 of a lemon
salt and pepper to taste
dash of fennel pollen (available at Whole Foods)

Using a mandolin, shave the fennel bulb into very thin slices. Place into a mixing bowl and add oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, fennel pollen, and fronds. Gently toss with your fingers.
Season to your liking and let sit for 10 minutes.

To assemble: Place roasted wild mushrooms into a serving plate or bowl. Put the shaved fennel salad on top of the roasted mushrooms and drizzle the extra liquid/vinaigrette over the top. Sprinkle with a little more fennel pollen and fronds. Serve at room temperature.

Chopped Broccoli with Pine Nuts
Serves 4 as a side dish

2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 tablespoon of crushed red pepper flakes (less if you don’t like spicy)
2 garlic cloves, smashed and skinned
1 large shallot, sliced
salt and pepper
1 large stalk of organic broccoli, cut into uniform pieces
3 tablespoons of pine nuts, toasted
1 teaspoon of grated lemon zest

Heat a large pot with olive oil. Add the pepper flakes, garlic, shallot, and season with salt and pepper. Once the garlic and shallot are “soft,” add the broccoli. Stir until evenly coated.
Add 1/2 a cup of water and put a lid on the pot. Cook the broccoli until the water evaporates, about 6-8 minutes. Once water is evaporated, add the toasted pine nuts and lemon zest.
With an old-school potato masher, lightly “mash” the broccoli. You can also use a Cuisinart with the blade attachment. It will only take a few pulses or you can use a food mill.
Don’t put into a blender! Enjoy!