Tag Archives: Cabbage

Quinoa, Feta, and Ham Lettuce Wraps

10 Apr

As I glanced into the Svendsen kitchen, it seemed that our party of 20 had barely put a dent into the delicious Easter ham prepared by Christopher’s great-cook-of-an aunt, Gail. Atticus had gobbled the slices up without protest (that’s always a wonderful sight for parents who are constantly coaxing and enticing their toddler to take ‘just one more bite’), so Christopher and I jumped at the chance to take home some of the leftovers.

I overheard someone mention a Denver omelette as a favorite way to use up the ham, and began to wonder how many families in the United States might be in a similar predicament– what to do with the leftover ham.

Recently, as many other foodies everywhere, I’ve been caught with the quinoa bug. Not only is quinoa a superfood, it’s also very easy and quick to prepare.

I used tri-color quinoa for this one, but any variety will do.

So, I’ve been using quinoa in everything from veggie patties to green salads. I’m even going to try using it instead of granola in the near future. One of my favorite things to make is a risotto-like dish. And, here’s what I came up with yesterday:

Quinoa, Feta, and Ham Lettuce Wraps

2 c quinoa, prepared in vegetable broth (1 c quinoa and 2 c liquid)
1 c roasted corn
3-4 slices roasted ham
1 large carrot, shredded
2 T goat feta, cubed
1 T olive oil
4-6 cloves garlic, roasted (brushed with olive oil) and sliced
1 tsp Spike seasoning (found in natural food stores)
1/3 c Curtido (El Salvadoran Slaw), optional

4-6 T hummus

6-8 red or green-leaf lettuce leaves, whole, washed, and dried

Heat oven or toaster oven to broil. Prepare quinoa as directed in a medium-large shallow pan. Add the roasted corn kernels after the first 5 minutes that the quinoa is on a low boil. Meanwhile, set the garlic on a baking sheet and broil for about 7 minutes, or when garlic reaches desired golden brown. Turn the garlic over once about halfway through.

Keep quinoa and corn on low heat, making sure that the bottom does not stick to the pan. Add roasted garlic.
Remove from heat. Add ham, carrot, feta, and slaw. Mix in olive oil and sprinkle with Spike seasoning to taste.

Serve with a side of hummus and leaf lettuce.

Spread hummus on each leaf and fill with quinoa mixture.

Next time I have a ripe avocado at hand, I might try to use smashed avocado instead of hummus for the spread.

Happy eating!


Poached Eggs al Ranchero with Curtido

1 Apr

There are few things about moving into an apartment in the OC to which Atticus, Christopher, and I have had some difficulty adjusting. We can’t complain about the amenities, and we certainly do not regret our proximity to the ocean (sigh). But, as the primary household cook, I had been accustomed to snipping a little of this along with a fistful of that to complete any planned or impromptu meal at home.

In short, I miss my garden. So, yesterday I spent some time gathering information and seeking inspirational images. It turns out that there’s quite a collection of apartment gardening “out there.”  I already have potted plants, but my enthusiasm is renewed by the thought of vertical gardens or ‘living walls.’ There’s hope for my spring and summer!


Oh, there is another thing– I miss my parents and brother. Christopher and I invited them over for brunch. And, as I did manage to transport some of my favorite potted herbs from our former yard to our present patio, I decided I ought to highlight the plants that remind me of home. I came up with this one. It’s Mexican-inspired with an El Salvadoran twist. Thyme and oregano were the humble heroes of our meal today, my take on huevos rancheros.

Poached Eggs al Ranchero

Curtido Cabbage Salad (the El Salvadoran part):

1/2 head red cabbage, shredded
2 carrots, grated
1 quart boiling water
1 bunch green onions (white part or bulb, saving the green for dressing), sliced
1 C vinegar, (I use apple cider)
1/2 C water
1 tsp oregano
3-5 sprigs fresh thyme
2 tsp sea salt
1 serrano pepper, sliced and de-seeded (optional)

Combine the cabbage and carrots in a large bowl and pour the boiling water over the mixture. Allow the mixture to steep for 5 minutes; drain well. Return the cabbage and carrots to the bowl. Mix in the green onion bulbs, vinegar, 1/2 cup of water, oregano, thyme, and salt. Toss until all ingredients are combined. Chill for 20 minutes before serving.

Poached Eggs in Salsa Molcajete:
16-18 oz. roasted molcajete salsa (sometimes found in the deli or international cheese section in markets)
1 can whole black beans, rinsed and drained
1 C roasted corn
4-6 large organic eggs
8-12 yellow corn tortillas, toasted on a cast iron griddle (or ‘tostadas’)
1/2 bunch spinach
green onions, remaining green part for garnish
additional molcajete salsa

In a wide covered saucepan, simmer salsa, beans, and corn for 10 minutes. Turn heat to medium-low and add eggs. It might help to use a wooden spoon to make “holes” in the salsa mixture for each individual egg. Cover and cook just until egg whites as no longer translucent.
Place two tostadas on each plate. Smear with extra molcajete salsa. Layer with a few spinach leaves, hot salsa mixture, and one poached egg. Garnish with green onions. Serve with Curtido Cabbage Salad.

Oh, and next time, just because they are in season, please add one ripe avocado, sliced. I forgot to use the one I had! It seems I will have the burden of finding some other use for that creamy deliciousness.

Happy eating!

St. Patrick’s Day at home: Wholesome Thin Mints after Corned Beef

18 Mar

A stack of minty cookies

There’s something about the mention of a meaty meal and a classic American cookie in the same sentence that seems bizarre– even unappetizing, but I ask that you read on and suspend any ounce of doubt.
Ever since I started hanging out with the Ragers (back when I was simply ‘Pena’), I learned the true meaning of St. Patrick‘s day and the culinary contribution that the Irish have made to dreary, overcast days.

My turn to dish out a satisfying corned beef and cabbage meal came this year.
For years, I had also been meaning to try Heidi Swanson’s All-natural Thin Mint cookies. She published the recipe on her blog in 2006, but it was not until Chris bought me the Super Natural Cooking cookbook that Heidi’s mint chocolatey concoction settled itself into the recesses of my mind. I found everything I needed, including whole wheat pastry flour, at Whole Foods. And thanks to this hipster-targeting conglomerate, I was able to fulfill my wholesome thin mint fantasy on short notice (one evening before our lunch). No high fructose corn syrup or partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. Victory!

I’m happy to report that both first-time attempts turned out better than I could have hoped. Paired with a couple of stouts and fun conversation, I can say that my belly and my heart are full.

Cheeses of the Irish variety

Kerrygold Dubliner with Stout

Corned beef, cabbage, red potatoes, and roasted carrots. Perfect for a rainy March afternoon.

All-natural, shamrock-shaped thin mints

Corned Beef, Cabbage, and Potatoes

1 4.5-lb flat round corned beef (already marinated)
2 one-pint cans Murphy’s or Guinness stout
4 C water
3 lbs Potatoes (I use red), quartered
1 head Cabbage, quartered
Himalayan Sea Salt, to taste

Place beef in a large stockpot. Pour beer and enough water to entirely cover the meat. (You will use some of the liquid later for the cabbage and potatoes.)
Cover and bring to a boil. Turn heat to low immediately after boiling and simmer for 3 hours.
Remove 4 C liquid from stockpot. (Be sure to leave enough liquid to cover the beef.) Simmer corned beef for an additional 30 minutes, while potatoes are boiled and carrots are roasted.
In another large pot, bring the  potatoes and broth to a rolling boil. Cover and reduce heat to medium-low for 30 minutes. During the last 10 minutes, add cabbage, sprinkle with salt to taste, and cover.
Meanwhile roast carrots as directed in a previous post about Pesto Roasted Vegetables.

Remove beef from the broth and slice, cutting against the grain. Serve immediately, submersed in the au jus to keep the beef piping hot and moist.

Remove potatoes and cabbages from broth and serve immediately.

Remove roasted carrots from baking tray and serve immediately.

Wholesome Thin Mints

Directly from Heidi Swanson’s All-Natural Thin Mint recipe.

Chocolate Wafers:
8 ounces organic butter, room temperature
1 C organic powdered sugar
1 tsp natural vanilla extract
1 C cocoa powder
3/4 tsp fine grain sea salt
1 1/2 C whole wheat pastry flour

Chocolate Peppermint Coating:
1 lb good quality semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
1/2-2 tsp natural peppermint oil (to taste)

I’ve included visuals that might help:

Organic chocolatey powder

Cream butter and sugar to the consistency of thick frosting.

Mix until dough is no longer dusty and still crumbly. Do not over mix.

At this point, I simply kneaded the dough in its bowl twice and formed a huge ball. I placed the dough in small trash bag and flattened the ball out to a 1-inch thick disk before placing it in the freezer for 20 minutes. Then it was ready to roll out to 1/16 of an inch thick.

Rolling out the dough still inside the big plastic bag

The fun part was next.

Auntie Lucille's cookie cutter

Shamrocks baking

Hold coated cookie up with a fork until no longer dripping. Try tapping the fork gently on side of pan.

Thin mints and ice cream

Happy St. Patrick’s Day and happy eating!