Taylor Family Favorites: Pumpkin-Tofu Waffles

I like to use our prettiest plates for brunches.

If you come to our place for brunch, you can count on us making one of two main dishes: Georgie Fear’s banana-oat pancakes or my mother-in-law Betsy Taylor’s pumpkin-tofu waffles. Today, I made the waffles in honor of Alex finishing a long overnight shift at the hospital. We usually make these waffles as a brunch or lunch meal, because the batter takes longer to prepare than our usual breakfasts. For an early morning waffle meal, prepare the wet and dry mixtures the night before and combine them right before making a batch of waffles in the morning. Alternatively, if you do not finish your batch, you can always freeze a few leftovers waffles.

Betsy always makes these waffles when we visit Truckee, but this fall she gave me the recipe so we could make them at home in Seattle. We’ve made them weekly ever since!


Pumpkin-Tofu Waffles – serves 4 to 5, two large waffles each

Thanks to Betsy Taylor for introducing this recipe!  According to Betsy, you can substitute 3 bananas for the 1 cup of canned pumpkin.  And if you do not have oat bran on hand, you can whirl oats in your food processor instead.

You will need:img_4216

  1. a food processor
  2. 2/3 of a block of extra-firm tofu (about 12.5 oz)
  3. 1 C canned pumpkin
  4. 4 T maple syrup
  5. 2 T apple cider vinegar
  6. 2 C buttermilk, plus more as needed
  7. 1 C all-purpose flour
  8. 1 1/2 C whole wheat flour
  9. 1/2 C ground flax or wheat bran
  10. 1/2 C oat bran
  11. 1 1/2 T baking powder


  1. Preheat your oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.  Preheat your waffle maker, too.
  2. In a food processor, puree tofu.
  3. Combine with pumpkin, syrup and vinegar.  Blend.
  4. Add first two cups of buttermilk and blend to combine.
  5. Add dry ingredients and blend.
  6. Add additional buttermilk slowly to thin your batter, as needed (I usually only add 1/4 cup, max).
  7. Pour batter into waffle maker.  Place finished waffle on a baking sheet in the oven to stay warm.  Repeat with remaining batter.

Top with butter and maple syrup or powdered sugar, yogurt or peanut butter.  We usually pair waffles with eggs and turkey bacon, too.




Baked Chicken Parmesan with Roasted Vegetables in San Diego

Liz and I enjoyed preparing this meal together, and comparing notes.  Not pictured: the banana bread that we baked the day before!

My sister, Liz, and I enjoy spending time in the kitchen together, whether we are at home in Delaware, visiting one another at our apartments in Seattle or San Diego, or simply connecting by phone and FaceTime.  We like to compare notes on recipes and reminisce about our childhood favorites that we could recreate sometime.  Liz also recently introduced me to Daphne Oz’s cookbook, “The Happy Cook”, and we followed her banana bread recipe together on my first day in San Diego.

After the rainiest Seattle October on record, it was luxurious to step out of the airport in San Diego and shed a couple layers.  Even better was getting picked up by Liz and Jay and being greeted by their dog Gracie (she remembered me!).  While in San Diego, we enjoyed meals out and a special dinner with Robin and Maria, but we made sure to make time to cook dinner together.  We used a recipe from SkinnyTaste as inspiration for our chicken parmesan prep, and consulted “Cook Yourself Thin” for the roasted vegetable steps (you can find that recipe on Food.com as well).


Baked Chicken Parmesan – serves 4 to 6

I like using thin-sliced chicken breasts for this meal because that can increase your surface area for breading, sauce and cheese.  You can buy thin-sliced chicken breasts or slice them in half carefully at home.  When Liz and I made this meal, we found out that we accidentally had vegan cheese, which did not melt readily but still tasted great.  At home, I replicated the recipe with shredded mozzarella on top.  I have also started using foil to line the baking sheet for this recipe, because the topping and cheese tend to adhere to your baking sheet otherwise!

You will need:fullsizerender-16

  1. cooking spray
  2. 2 T butter
  3. 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts (thin-sliced)
  4. 3/4 C breadcrumbs (preferably Italian breadcrumbs)
  5. 1/4 C shredded parmesan cheese
  6. 1 C marinara or other pasta sauce of choice
  7. 3/4 C shredded mozzarella


  1. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with foil.  Spray sheet lightly with cooking spray.
  2. Melt butter in the microwave for about 30-60 seconds.
  3. Combine breadcrumbs and parmesan in a large bowl.
  4. Brush both sides of the chicken breast with butter and dip in the breadcrumb and parmesan mixture, generously coating each sides.  Repeat with remaining chicken.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes for thin-sliced chicken breasts, or 25 minutes for thicker pieces.
  6. Remove from the oven and flip chicken breasts with tongs.  Top each piece with a spoonful or marinara and a sprinkling of mozzarella cheese.  Bake for another 5 minutes.


Roasted Root Vegetables – serves 4 to 6

The original recipe calls for these veggies to roast for 30-35 minutes at 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  If you make these with your chicken parmesan, keep an eye on the vegetables and check and stir them after 20-25 minutes.

You will need:img_8572

  1. 3 large carrots, peeled and sliced
  2. 1 bunch of asparagus, cut into 2-3 inch pieces
  3. 2 yukon gold potatoes, sliced
  4. 1 t parsley, chopped
  5. 1 t dried chives
  6. 1-2 T olive oil
  7. salt and pepper to taste


  1. Line a baking sheet with foil.
  2. Combine sliced vegetables in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Drizzle 1-2 T olive oil over top and add salt and pepper and dried spices.
  4. Spread vegetables out on baking sheet in an even layer without too much overlap.
  5. Roast for 20 minutes and then shuffle the vegetables around on your baking sheet.  You may need to roast for an additional 5 to 10 minutes; check potatoes for tenderness and then bake an additional minute or two for crispy potato skins.



Diva, Mommy. “Turkey Mini-Meatloaves With Roasted Root Veggies Recipe – Food.com.” Recipe – Food.com. N.p., 2009. Web. 01 Dec. 2016. (online resource for roasted root veggies)

Homolka, Gina. “Baked Chicken Parmesan | Skinnytaste.” Skinnytaste. N.p., 12 Sept. 2012. Web. 01 Dec. 2016.

Lifetime Television.  Cook Yourself Thin: Skinny Meals You Can Make in Minutes. New York: Hyperion, 2009. Print. (print resource for roasted root veggies)


Chana Masala with Ground Turkey

Chana masala with turkey for lunch, in under 30 minutes!

Last weekend Alex and I did our grocery run right after an exciting “I Love Sushi” sculling scrimmage.  We picked several recipes for the week from three cookbooks for inspiration: “Run Fast, Eat Slow“, “Racing Weight Cookbook” and “The Happy Cook“.  Thank you to my sister, Liz, for sending me a copy of “The Happy Cook” last week!  Because we were grocery shopping midday, we also needed a quick recipe to prepare right away for lunch.  The Chana Masala recipe from “Good and Cheap” has become a staple in our household, and takes less than 30 minutes to prepare.  We add ground turkey to the recipe, but if you follow the original ingredient list, chana masala can be served as a vegetarian entree on its own or over rice, or as a filling side.  Chickpeas are very filling and make this a great stand-alone meal option.

As with all recipes from “Good and Cheap”, the chana masala is budget-friendly and uses mostly pantry ingredients that you might already have on hand.  The idea behind Leanne Brown’s “Good and Cheap” was to provide healthy recipes for families on tight budgets.  The PDF is available online, and you can download and save a copy for free.  There are also hard copies for purchase on Amazon.

For this post, I set a timer as soon as I laid out all of my ingredients.  From start to finish, this meal took just under 27.5 minutes to prepare.  With the additional turkey and served over brown rice, this recipe provided about four meals.



Chana Masala with Ground Turkey – serves 4

Alex and I added turkey to this meal to increase the amount of protein per serving.  As an added bonus, the ground turkey adds volume and we are able to get about four servings with this list of ingredients.  I skipped the jalapeño that “Good and Cheap” recommends, and further simplified some of their steps.  I only use fresh ginger for this recipe half the time.  Make your own garam masala blend at home using this recipe if you do not have any on hand.  You could also use ghee (clarified butter) instead of butter and oil if you have that at home.

You will need:


  1. 3 t coriander
  2. 1 t turmeric
  3. 1/4 t cayenne
  4. 1/2 t garam masala blend
  5. 1 t smoked paprika
  6. 1/2 t salt
  7. 1/2 T butter
  8. 1/2 T olive oil
  9. 1 t cumin
  10. 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  11. 1 or 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  12. 1 t ginger root, grated (optional)
  13. 1 C canned tomato puree
  14. 1 lb ground turkey
  15. 2 1/2 C cooked chickpeas (we used canned, drained)
  16. 1/2 C water

Optional: cilantro, yogurt, naan or brown rice for serving


  1. Combine spices and set aside (ingredients 1-6).
  2. If you are serving chana masala with rice, now is the time to get your rice started.  For best results, follow package instructions for rice preparation.
  3. In a large pan over medium-low heat, combine butter and olive oil and heat until melted.  When the butter and oil begin to sizzle, add cumin and stir to combine.
  4. Add chopped onion and sautee for 2 minutes.  Add chopped garlic and stir for another minute.  If using ginger, add now and stir to combine.
  5. Add the spice mixture and the tomato puree, stir and then cover for 5 minutes.
  6. In a separate pan over medium heat, brown turkey while your chana masala mixture is cooking down.  Break up the turkey into small pieces with a spoon and stir to ensure even cooking.
  7. Check on the tomato pot now; you should notice that the butter/oil have started to separate from the tomato puree, which has reduced.  The surface will start to shimmer when the butter/oil separate.  At this point, add the chickpeas and water and bring your mixture to a boil and then simmer for ten more minutes.
  8. Whenever your turkey has cooked through, transfer the meat to your chickpea/tomato mixture.
  9. After your chana masala has simmered for about ten minutes, the chickpeas should begin to soften.  Using a spoon, potato masher or measuring cup, squish about half of your chickpeas.  The squished chickpea texture will thicken your chana masala sauce.
  10. Serve over rice for a complete meal, or as a side.


Source: Brown, Leanne. Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4/day. New York: Workman, 2015. Print.  PDF link, page 93.

Meatless Monday in Fort Collins, CO: “Beyond Burgers” and Veggies


One big pan of pre-cut veggies!

Last month, I had the chance to visit my dear friends Hannah and Robby at their home in Fort Collins, CO. Hannah and Robby are both busy with work and school, and I was impressed by their system for getting fresh, colorful food on the table everyday. Keep these tips in mind for when you need to decrease your cooking time!

On my first night in Fort Collins, Hannah picked me up from the airport and we had dinner ready in just about 20 minutes.  We saved time by using pre-cut butternut squash and Brussels sprouts from the grocery store.  After we steamed the veggies for a few minutes in one large pan, we mixed them with fresh pepper and salt and a drizzle of olive oil.

The following day, Hannah and I spent a few hours at the climbing gym, where she taught me the ropes!  Rock climbing was thrilling and engaging, and I loved using my mind and body in a new way.  We arrived home hungry, and I was grateful that it did not take long to cook our dinner.  For dinner, we used pre-made meatless “Beyond Meat” burger patties  from Whole Foods.  The “Beyond Meat: Beyond Burger” is the best frozen, meatless burger I’ve had so far!  We wanted potatoes on the side, and to save time, we used small fingerling potatoes.  Fingerling potatoes cut your roasting time in half.  We again steamed our veggies for a few minutes before sautéing.


Beyond Burgers and Veggies – serves 4

You will need: img_7792

  1. 1 pound fingerling potatoes
  2. salt and pepper to taste
  3. 1-2 T olive oil
  4. 1 head of purple cauliflower, or broccoli or cauliflower
  5. 1 t garlic powder
  6. 4 frozen burger patties (we loved Beyond Meat Beyond Burgers) – thawed
  7. burger buns or wheat bread

Optional: ketchup, parmesan cheese, avocado


  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Halve any large fingerling potatoes and scatter potatoes on a roasting sheet.  Drizzle olive oil across potatoes and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Roll around on pan to evenly coat with oil, then roast in the oven for 20-25 minutes.
  3. While potatoes cook, remove the stem from your head of cauliflower and chop into bite sized pieces.  Steam your cauliflower in a large pan over medium heat with just a little water (about 1/2 C) at the bottom of the pan.  Add a lid to your pan to speed up the steaming process.  After about 5 minutes, the cauliflower should feel softer when pierced with a fork.  Add a drizzle of oil and salt, pepper and garlic powder.  Keep stirring cauliflower occasionally – at this point, the pieces should begin to brown and become crisp.
  4. Finally, follow the directions on your meatless burger box and prepare the Beyond Burgers!  Check on your potatoes to make sure they are becoming golden and crispy.
  5. Serve with ketchup, shaved parmesan for the potatoes, and sliced avocado for the burgers.

Patrick’s Venetian Stew

The dinner spread, complete with a fresh loaf of bread and local caciotta cheese.

My parents’ visit to Seattle just wrapped up today, and I am already feeling nostalgic for adventures and meals that we shared over the past week!  Alex and I re-visited a few of our favorite Seattle restaurants, and I had the chance to show my parents some touristy destinations that wanted to check out.

During our visit, the most noteworthy meal that we cooked at home was a rendition of Patrick’s Venetian Stew recipe.  A list of simple ingredients was brought to full, flavorful life with the help of PCC’s rich produce and seafood selection.  Mom and I prepared the base for the Venetian stew on Monday morning and let it simmer for a full hour before saving it in the fridge over the course of the day (about 7 hours).  In the evening, we took about twenty minutes to prepare the pasta, shrimp and scallops.  Overall, this meal takes just about 45 minutes to put together, but works well as a “make-ahead meal” because the tomatoes soak up the wonderful garlic, wine and butter flavors.  After our meal, we stayed with the local theme and enjoyed Theo’s dark chocolate for dessert.

Thank you to Patrick for sharing his family recipe!  This meal is best enjoyed with great friends and family, so we called for enough ingredients to feed eight or more guests.


Patrick’s Venetian Stew – serves 8 to 10

Mom and I substituted gluten-free flour and brown rice pasta to make this recipe gluten-free.  I served my dinner with a side of rustic bread and we both recommend topping the dish with cheese!  I love garlic and hot red pepper flakes in this meal, so I tend to use even more of each ingredient than listed below.  When we cooked this dish, we left the seafood preparation until just before we were ready to serve dinner.  For this blog post, however, I have re-written the steps using Patrick’s directions, to stay true to his recipe.  Most of the words and advice below were written by Patrick, but Mom and I added the red pepper by a happy accident, and are keeping the addition for next time.

You will need: fullsizerender-3

  1. salt and pepper, to taste
  2. 2 T all purpose flour
  3. 2 lb scallops
  4. 2 T butter
  5. 1/4 C olive oil, plus 2 T
  6. 1 C dry white wine
  7. 3/4 C chicken broth
  8. shallots and/or one sweet onion, diced
  9. 3 t hot red pepper flakes (more or less per your tastes)
  10. 1 red pepper, diced
  11. 8 (or more) chopped garlic cloves
  12. 2 28 oz cans whole tomatoes, drained
  13. 2 28 oz cans crushed tomatoes
  14. 2 28 oz cans tomato puree
  15. 1/2 C sugar
  16. 2 lb shrimp


  1. Begin by chopping your onion/shallots, red pepper and garlic.  Set aside.
  2. Peel and devein shrimp, set aside.
  3. Season and lightly flour scallops.  Heat olive oil in a large pot and lightly brown scallops for about 3-4 minutes per side.  Remove scallops and set aside.
  4. Add a little more olive oil and white wine to your pot, and let reduce at medium-high heat.
  5. Add butter, chicken broth, shallots/onion, red pepper, garlic and hot red pepper flakes.  Cook until shallots/onion are done (5-8 minutes).
  6. Drain off whole tomatoes and crush by hand.
  7. Add all canned tomatoes to your pot, combining with salt and pepper to taste.  Add sugar to reduce the acidity.
  8. Bring to a simmer and add shrimp.  Stir to combine, checking shrimp opacity for doneness.  Just before shrimp are done, add scallops back in.
  9. Let simmer on very low heat for about an hour.

Optional: Serve over pasta and/or with a loaf of Italian bread.  (And of course, red wine!)

Cod and Halibut Poached in Thai Coconut Curry

The final product: poached cod over a bed of quinoa and wilted spinach, topped with green onions, baby mushrooms and lime.

I am back in Seattle and taking full advantage of the seafood options! When I look for new ingredients, I consider the nutrition, sustainability and cost of my options. Lately, my local grocery store, PCC, has featured wild-caught halibut and cod.  The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch is my go-to source for recommendations on sustainable fish options and based on their findings, cod is the way to go. However, I bought both filets from the local PCC, which was just voted Whole Foods Magazine’s 2016 Retailer of the Year.  The article announcing PCC’s accomplishment highlights that my grocer was the “founding partner of the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Program, selling only seafood that has been fished or farmed in ways that protect sea life and habitats,” and that led me to conclude that the wild halibut at my store was sustainably caught. Finally, cod is typically less expensive than halibut in my area, but for the sake of trying out this recipe, I bought filets of both types of fish.  In the end, I prefer cod for a recipe like this, where you want the fish to take on some of the broth’s flavor.

This dish is all about marrying flavors for a satisfying broth that unites the veggies, protein and carb ingredients. I visited the cooking blog “Alaska from Scratch” for a poached halibut recipe, which was adapted from another blog post from “Simply Scratch.” The main difference between the recipes is our fish preference (barramundi –> halibut –> cod). I also tweaked my broth to add a little depth to the flavor, threw in some local, small mushrooms and substituted quinoa for jasmine rice.


Poached Fish in Thai Coconut Curry Sauce – serves 2

I love a rich curry broth, and you can achieve that depth of flavor with a little soy sauce or fish sauce. You can always use more spinach, but this ratio of ingredients worked out well for us.
You will need:IMG_6751

  1. 2 T olive oil
  2. 10 oz fresh spinach
  3. salt and pepper, to taste
  4. 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  5. 1 T Thai red curry paste
  6. 2 t soy sauce or fish sauce
  7. 1 1/2 C chicken broth (I used low sodium)
  8. 14 oz coconut milk
  9. ½ t sugar
  10. 1 lb halibut or cod
  11. ¼ C green onions, sliced
  12. 1 lime

 Optional: serve over quinoa or rice. I cooked my quinoa in equal parts water and chicken broth.


  1. If you are serving your fish with quinoa, get that started first. For best results, rinse quinoa in a mesh sieve under running water until water runs clear. Next, toast quinoa in a medium saucepan over low heat until excess rinsing water has evaporated and quinoa starts to smell a little nutty. Then, add liquids and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cover to cook for 15 minutes.  When your cooking liquid has been completely absorbed, cover pot and remove from heat to let quinoa sit for 5-10 minutes, fluff with fork before serving.
  2. Meanwhile, heat 1 T olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add spinach and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Sauté for about 5 minutes until just wilted.  Set aside cooked spinach and wipe liquid out of pan.
  3. Add 1 T olive oil to your large saucepan and warm over medium heat.  Add chopped garlic, stirring constantly so garlic does not burn.  Add curry paste, soy sauce, chicken broth, coconut milk and sugar.  Raise heat and bring to a simmer (until the surface just bubbles) and then turn heat to low.
  4. When curry liquid has reduced to about half, add your fish, scooping some poaching liquid over the filets.  Cover the saucepan and poach fish for about 5 minutes, adding an extra minute or two for thicker filets.  When fish is done, it should flake easily when tested with a fork.
  5. Remove fish from poaching liquid and add green onions, mushrooms and juice from half the lime to your broth.  Stir to combine and let the flavors combine for about 2 minutes.
  6. Serve fish filets on a bed of spinach and quinoa or rice.  Pour at least half a cup of the broth over each filet.  Slice the remaining lime into wedges for serving.

Bohemia Lea Pork Tenderloin with Grilled Asparagus and Watermelon Salad

Our delicious summertime feast, featuring my favorite watermelon salad.

Summer is in full swing and I am loving the produce section!  When I was last in Delaware, Patrick, my Mom and I tried two methods for seasoning pork tenderloin – dry rub and simple, fresh garlic slices.  The tenderloins came from Cal Hurtt’s Bohemia Lea Farm in Cecilton, MD.  In May, Alex and I visited Cal at his farm stand at the Historic Lewes Farmer’s Market.  His sustainable farming operation would thrill any Michael Pollan devotee – Cal even cites Pollan’s “the Omnivore’s Dilemma” as inspiration for his farm.  Cal used his engineering background to design a sustainable farming operation, where cattle, hens and turkey rotate across his land, benefiting from one another and improving the health of the topsoil (read more on Bohemia Lea’s webpage).  We were excited to finally try Bohemia Lea Farm products, and all the meat we have sampled has been fantastic.

In keeping with the sustainability theme of our meal, we opted to use only local, seasonal ingredients for our sides.  Patrick picked up a large, juicy watermelon and fresh New Jersey asparagus on his way down to visit us in Delaware.  We paired our tenderloin with watermelon salad, sweet potatoes and grilled asparagus.



Bohemia Lea Pork Tenderloin – serves 8-10 

We prepared the pork two ways – with the dry rub and with garlic – and our group was split as to which was our favorite.  We kept the cooking methods simple to allow the flavors of the meat to shine through.  Sweet potatoes bake at about 400-425 degrees for about 40 minutes as well, so we added some sweet potatoes wrapped in foil in the same oven.

You will need: IMG_5938

  1. 2 large pork tenderloins
  2. 3-4 T dry rub (see recipe below)
  3. 3 garlic cloves, sliced
  4. 1-2 T olive oil
  5. black pepper, to taste


  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Using the tip of your knife, make shallow slits in the surface of one pork tenderloin, and insert garlic into the slit pocket.  Slather on a little olive oil and add a little fresh ground pepper.
  3. With your second pork tenderloin, first, pat dry with paper towel.  Then, dust on an even layer of dry rub, patting the tenderloin as you apply your spices.
  4. Roast tenderloins together on a baking sheet for 40 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 150 degrees Fahrenheit.
  5. Let meat rest for 5 minutes before slicing.

Optional: Mom’s Dry Rub to make ahead and save.  Mix 1/4 C paprika, 2 T brown sugar, 2 T salt, 2 T garlic powder, 1 T pepper, 1/2 t chili powder, 1 T cayenne pepper, 1 T onion powder, 1 1/2 t ground cumin and 1 1/2 t dry mustard.  You will have plenty of dry rub left over if you follow this recipe – save it for next time.


Grilled Asparagus – serves 6 – 8

You will need: IMG_5929

  1. 2 bunches asparagus
  2. olive oil to drizzle across asparagus ~ 1-2 T
  3. black pepper, to taste
  4. salt, to taste
  5. about 1 t garlic powder


  1. First, snap off the asparagus ends and throw the ends away or save them for compost.
  2. Next, lay the asparagus out on a baking sheet and drizzle with a little olive oil.  Too much olive oil, and even after grilled, they will seem a bit too oily.  Add some fresh ground black pepper, a little fine grain salt and some powdered garlic.  Mix.
  3. With the grill on medium heat, lay asparagus on, and after about 5 minutes, “roll” them.  You should see the bottoms with brown grill marks.  After another 5 mins., roll them again.  Then, roll them every couple of minutes until you get nice brow/black grill marks.


Watermelon Salad – serves 6

Watermelon salad is the ultimate summer refresher.  We love this salad with mozzarella or feta cheese – you can’t go wrong!

You will need: IMG_5912

  1. 1/2 large watermelon
  2. about 1 C mozzarella balls, halved
  3. 1-2 T olive oil to drizzle
  4. 5 or more large basil leaves
  5. salt and pepper to taste


  1. First, cut large watermelon in half and cube melon.  Spread out cubes onto serving dish.
  2. Next, arrange mozzarella across serving dish.  Our ideal ratio of melon to cheese is about 2:1.
  3. Drizzle olive oil across melon and cheese.
  4. Chop basil into thin ribbons or use herb scissors to cut small pieces.  For ribbons, roll the basil leaves together and slice in thin strips from end to end.
  5. Scatter basil pieces and salt and pepper across your salad.
  6. If desired, salad can be chilled before serving.

Family Dinner in Hillegersberg: Stunning Melon Gazpacho with White Fish and Mixed Vegetables

FullSizeRender (17)
I love their soup serving dishes!

After a full weekend of racing at the Holland-Beker, Jess and I enjoyed a Monday off from rowing training.  I dedicated my off-day to exploring the countryside around Hillegersberg, where Uncle Bob and Cathinka live, by running with Cathinka and biking the dikes in nearby Delft with Bob.  At the end of a day spent exploring outside, Bob and Cathinka treated me to a family dinner at home with the three of us and their grown foster-daughter, Michelle, who was visiting from nearby Utrecht.  In the photo gallery, you can see photos from my morning run with Cathinka, where we ran past a working windmill, as well as photos from my bike adventure with Bob, and photos from a visit to the Markthal (market hall) in Rotterdam.

For dinner, we first enjoyed a chilled gazpacho course that Cathinka learned to make during a trip to France.  The gazpacho was made with traditional tomatoes and herbs, with the refreshing addition of honeydew melon.  Next, Cathinka stir-fried mixed vegetables in a large wok while Bob pan-fried fresh white-fish.  The mixed vegetables were pre-chopped, seasonal vegetables available at the nearby grocery store, which had an incredibly varied and colorful produce section!  My Uncle Bob is an avid cook, and attends a monthly gathering of enthusiastic cooks who meet to learn new recipes and prepare a four or five course meal for each other, with wine pairings.   Next time I am in the Netherlands, I will have to see if we can coordinate a visit to that dinner, too!



Gazpacho with melon – serves 4

A melon baller would be useful for this recipe, but if you do not have one, simply cut your melon into bite-sized cubes.


You will need: FullSizeRender (18)

  1. 1 small honeydew melon, balled
  2. 2 pounds whole large ripe tomatoes
  3. 1 large onion
  4. 2 large garlic cloves
  5. 2 T chopped chervil (or French parsley)
  6. 2 T chopped basil
  7. 1 t thyme
  8. salt, pepper to taste
  9. 1 T bouillon paste



  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil and immerse tomatoes for one minute.
  2. Drain and cool tomatoes under cold water.
  3. Peel off tomato skin and cut tomatoes into quarters, remove and discard the seeds. You can save the tomato water for later if it separates easily.
  4. In a food processor, chop the tomatoes along with sliced garlic cloves and chopped onion.
  5. Pour the food processor mixture into a saucepan with about 3 cups of water and the bouillon paste.
  6. Bring to a boil and cook for two minutes.
  7. Turn off heat and allow to cool.
  8. Once cool, stir in the herbs and season with salt and pepper.
  9. Chill soup in the refrigerator.
  10. Halve your honeydew melon and scoop out at least 2 cups of melon balls. Add to soup and continue to chill until serving.


White fish and mixed vegetables – serves 4

Use any fresh, thin filet of white fish for this recipe.

You will need: FullSizeRender (19)

  1. 1 T sunflower oil
  2. 2 T soy sauce
  3. packaged chopped mixed vegetables
  4. 1 T butter
  5. 2 T olive oil
  6. 1.5 – 2 lbs of fish
  7. salt and pepper to taste


  1. Heat a large wok or skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Add sunflower oil and packaged vegetables, and stir to keep the vegetables moving.
  3. Add half of your soy sauce and stir to coat, adding more if desired.
  4. Meanwhile, heat a cast iron pan over medium heat.  Add butter and olive oil.
  5. Cook two filets of white-fish at a time, flipping after about 3 minutes on each side.  When filet is fully cooked, the edges will crisp and the fish will flake easily with a fork.  The filet will become more opaque while cooking.
  6. Season with a sprinkling of salt and pepper before serving.


Salmon Series Part Four: Grilled Salmon and Steamed Artichokes

Patrick picked up this beautiful salmon filet at Whole Foods before driving to Delaware.

As our Chicago chapter came to a close, Alex and I found ourselves traveling all over the city to see friends.  We calculated recently that we have been in 15 states over the past 5 weeks!  We have spent this exciting transition time staying with many wonderful host friends, and saying goodbye-for-now to our Chicago family.  I wrapped up my time as a rehab aide at Athletico, had one last sweep team practice with Lincoln Park Boat Club and witnessed Alex’s graduation from medical school.  Looking back on the month of May, I can see that we filled our schedules to the brim, but I would not have it any other way!  It was a treat to be reunited with the Taylor family for a week of adventures in Michigan and Chicago.  Next, we spent a week on the East Coast with my family, and met my brother’s baby for the first time.

During all of our moving about, we sampled new restaurants and made a variety of recipes in countless kitchens.  Most recently, Patrick shared his family recipe for steamed artichokes, and I requested grilled salmon as a pairing.  My niece, Kayden, and I tried out a recipe for zucchini boats to round out the family feast menu.  Kayden is a skilled baker and loves trying out new recipes in the kitchen.  We will definitely be cooking together again soon.

Now I am off on another racing adventure in the double with Jess.  I will be cooking and learning new recipes and flavors, but may not be blogging while I am away.  Until next time!




Grilled Salmon – serves 6 to 8

I have not tried grilling salmon on my own yet, but I collected the below tips from Patrick.  Remember not to move the fish around on the grill until you are ready to flip!  If you move the fish, it can break apart on the grill and lose its grill lines.

You will need:IMG_4990

  1. 2 lb salmon
  2. 1 t salt
  3. 1 t pepper
  4. 1 t garlic powder
  5. about 1 T olive oil


  1. Sprinkle salmon on both sides with salt, black pepper and garlic powder.  Rub in with a little olive oil.
  2. Heat your grill to about 400 degrees Fahrenheit (close to high heat on our grill).
  3. Grill the meat side of salmon first for 3 to 4 minutes with the grill lid closed.  The fish should start to become opaque on the meat side where it is starting to cook.
  4. Flip salmon once to grill the skin side using a grill spatula or tongs.  Close the lid again and cook for another 4 or 5 minutes until the whole filet is just opaque.
  5. When salmon is ready, the skin should easily fall off.


Steamed Artichokes – serves 8

IMG_4987You will need:

  1. 8 whole artichokes, including stems
  2. 6 large garlic cloves
  3. ½ C fresh parsley, chopped
  4. salt
  5. pepper
  6. 3-4 T olive oil to drizzle


  1. Cut off the bottom of the stems and slice off the dry end of the stem.  Dice the remaining stem.
  2. Chop garlic and parsley and combine with stem pieces, salt and pepper.
  3. Bang the bottom of the artichoke against the tabletop to open up the flower.  If you need to, you can pull apart the leaves by hand instead.
  4. Stuff diced items between artichoke leaves.
  5. Stand artichokes up in a large pot and fill with about 2″ of water.
  6. Pour oil over artichokes.  Bring water to steam and cover for 45-60 minutes.  Your artichokes are ready when their leaves pull off easily.


Zucchini Boats and Caprese Salad – serves 8

We followed a recipe for “Stuffed Zucchini Boats with Tomato Salad” from Cooking Light and MyRecipes.com (see below).  Kayden and I opted to leave out the bread from the original recipe, because we wanted to share the zucchini boats with my mother, who eats gluten-free.  Our zucchini were exceptionally fresh, and we did not miss the bread at all!  The caprese salad from cherry tomatoes was also a big hit, and we keep making that dish as a side for dinner.
You will need:IMG_4985

  1. 4 large zucchini
  2. 4 chicken sausage
  3. 1 small yellow onion
  4. 8 ounces of mozzarella cheese
  5. 2 C cherry tomatoes
  6. 1 T balsamic vinegar
  7. 1/4 C thinly sliced fresh basil
  8. 1 t olive oil


  1. Wash the outside of your zucchini thoroughly before halving.
  2. Scoop out and save the insides of the zucchini, leaving about 1/4 inch intact beyond the skin.
  3. Cover and microwave the zucchini halves in an oven safe container for four minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, dice the zucchini insides and save about 2 cups of material.
  5. Remove casings from chicken sausage and break sausage into small pieces.
  6. Dice onion.
  7. Heat a large pan over medium heat and add spray with cooking spray.  Add onion and sausage and stir to combine for about 4 minutes.
  8. Combine zucchini insides with your cooked sausage and onion in a mixing bowl.  Spoon this mixture into each zucchini boat.
  9. Chop up about 2 ounces of mozzarella cheese and layer on top of your boats.
  10. Halve the cherry tomatoes and combine with remaining mozzarella, balsamic, basil and olive oil.  Set aside in fridge to chill, if desired.
  11. Place zucchini boats on the top rack of your oven and broil for two to three minutes, checking to see if mozzarella melts and browns.

Source: Wise, Deb. “Stuffed Zucchini Boats with Tomato Salad Recipe.” MyRecipes.com. Cooking Light, June 2015. Web. 29 May 2016.


Salmon Series Part Three: Salmon Burgers with Sriracha Mayo

FullSizeRender (12)
Our late-night salmon burger dinner

Now that we have officially moved to our Seattle apartment, Alex and I are staying with friends while we finish up with work and school.  This week, my teammate Fran and her partner, Simon, are our gracious hosts. I made dinner for Alex and Fran this week and had the opportunity to test out another new salmon recipe.  We enjoyed a late dinner and chatted about our recent move to Seattle and what we will miss about living in Chicago – our friends, my rowing team, the proximity to Buchanan, MI and the food scene!  Fran has an impressive collection of cookbooks that I have enjoyed flipping through, and is knowledgeable about a variety of vegetables and plants that I am just getting to know.

For salmon burgers, I consulted Patrick Rider, our long-time family friend and wonderful chef, for advice on what ingredients to use.  Patrick introduced me to a video of Guy Fieri visiting our local Chicago DMK Burger Bar, where he learned about the signature salmon burger with ginger, scallions, Asian slaw and a red Thai curry sauce.  I then checked Food.com for a recipe to use as a reference for cooking times and temperatures.  Based on those two sources, and what was fresh at my local market, I came up with the following new recipe for salmon burgers!


Salmon Burgers with Sriracha Mayo – serves 4

We love to have butternut squash or sweet potato when we make burgers at home.  For this meal, we simply purchased pre-cut butternut squash.  The squash roasts in about twenty minutes, and pairs nicely with salmon burgers and fresh greens.  We drizzled olive oil on the squash and sprinkled on black pepper and a little salt before roasting.  If you are making sweet potato fries, plan for an extra ten minutes of baking time before adding salmon patties to the oven.  We added fresh spinach for a simple salad.

You will need:

  1. 1 lb salmon
  2. 2 T Sriracha Mayo
  3. 2 large eggs, beaten
  4. ½ C bread crumbs
  5. 2 T fresh ginger, chopped
  6. ½ C green onions, finely sliced
  7. 1 t garlic salt
  8. 1 t lemon pepper
  9. ½ t black pepper
  10. 1 T dried parsley
  11. cooking spray

Serve with:

  1. Sliced tomato
  2. Slaw topping – about ¼ C per burger
  3. Sriracha mayo or ketchup, to taste
  4. Your favorite bun – we picked Pretzilla pretzel buns


  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Start by chopping fresh ginger and slicing green onions.  Set aside.
  3. Remove skin from salmon filet, and cut salmon into small cubes.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, combine salmon, Sriracha mayo, beaten eggs, bread crumbs, ginger, green onions and your spices.
  5. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.
  6. Once your oven temperature has reached 425 degrees, divide your salmon mixture into four equal parts and shape patties gently between your palms.  Space four patties evenly across your baking sheet, and set inside oven.
  7. Cook salmon patties for a total of twenty minutes, flipping after about ten minutes.  If you like your burger buns toasted, add buns to the top rack of the oven for about two minutes per side.
  8. Serve patties warm with buns, more Sriracha mayo or ketchup, and top with slaw or lettuce and tomato.



“Salmon Burgers With Guy Fieri Video : Food Network.” Salmon Burgers With Guy Fieri Video : Food Network. Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. Web. Accessed 10 May 2016.

Sherrycooks2012. “Oven Baked Salmon Patties Recipe – Food.com.” Oven Baked Salmon Patties Recipe – Food.com. Web. Accessed 10 May 2016.