Salmon Series Part Two: Salmon Tartare and Spring Vegetables

The spread: roasted asparagus, spring salad and salmon tartare

Alex and I spent a rainy Saturday making lunch at Rick’s new house, after he got back from Lincoln Park Boat Club’s rowing practice.  Rick is a big fan of fish, and was happy to be a part of this series of salmon recipes.  He picked his favorite style of salmon preparation – tartare – and we planned a menu.  I offered to pick up whatever vegetable looked great at the Green City Farmers’ Market and Rick elected to prepare a Passover-friendly dessert.

On Saturday morning, I strolled to the market with my friend and teammate, Alli Whitaker, and we enjoyed samples and made our selections.  I bought greens and fresh asparagus; Michigan asparagus just came into season, so now is the time to buy or go to Michigan to pick some!


Salmon Tartare and Spring Vegetables – serves 3 to 4

Neither Rick nor I had ever made salmon tartare, so we went online and found a recipe for “Wasabi-Infused Salmon Tartare” from  I simplified the marinade used for that recipe, based on my flavor preferences and which ingredients we had on hand.

You will need:IMG_4430

  1. 1 rounded t wasabi paste or powder to make paste
  2. 3 T fresh lemon juice, or about 1/2 lemon
  3. 3 T soy sauce
  4. 2 T rice wine vinegar
  5. 1/2 T finely chopped shallot
  6. 1/2 t ground ginger
  7. 1 to 1 ½ lbs of high-quality salmon
  8. 1 bunch of asparagus
  9. 1 T olive oil
  10. fresh ground black pepper, about 1 t
  11. about 6 C greens
  12. 3 T nuts – we used slivered almonds and shelled pistachios
  13. 1 C blueberries
  14. balsamic vinaigrette to dress salad


  1. First, preheat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit for roasting asparagus.
  2. Add 3 t water to 5 t wasabi powder, and stir to combine.  Invert your bowl for one minute to increase the wasabi spiciness.  If you have pre-made wasabi paste, add one t to a small mixing bowl, and save more for serving with your entree.
  3. Mix in lemon juice, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, shallot and ginger with the wasabi paste.
  4. Remove the skin from your salmon, and chop the filet into small cubes (we went with about one cubic centimeter).  Add salmon to a non-metallic mixing bowl, and stir in half of your marinade.  Taste salmon to determine if you want to add more marinade; you want some of the salmon flavor to come through.  Cover salmon bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 30 minutes before serving.
  5. Next, wash asparagus and snap off the dried ends.  Spread out stalks on a cookie sheet, and drizzle with olive oil.  Add fresh pepper and roll to coat.  When your oven has reached 450 degrees, add your asparagus pan and time for about 7 to 10 minutes.  Pencil-thin asparagus should be fully roasted in 7 minutes, whereas really thick stalks could take up to 15 minutes.  Pierce with a fork to check readiness.
  6. While asparagus is cooking, prepare your simple salad of washed greens, nuts and berries.  Drizzle with balsamic vinaigrette and toss to coat.  We topped our salad with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese before serving.
  7. When asparagus is ready, transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with fresh parmesan.
  8. We served our salmon with a dollop of extra wasabi paste on the side, and with just a touch of Thai ginger salt on top for extra crunch and salty flavor.

Source: “Wasabi-Infused Salmon Tartare by Rachel2 –” Aug. 2012. Web. 30 Apr. 2016.



Salmon Series Part One: Syd’s Birthday Eve Salmon Risotto

Posing with the final product!

After our last day of racing at the Olympic Trials, my parents took my husband Alex, me and Jess out to eat in St. Armand’s Circle. We picked an Italian restaurant that had caught my eye the previous week when Jess and I were on more stringent meal plans. After several days of racing, I was craving a hearty, warm meal, and savored the salmon risotto that I ordered for lunch. After the meal, we stopped by Kilwin’s for ice cream, at my sister-in-law Becky’s recommendation. I ordered the Heavenly Hash flavor, which I had not come across since college!

This blog entry is the first in a series of six ways to prepare salmon. Salmon is one of the staples in the Taylor kitchen, and Jess’s boyfriend Austin recently requested my top three salmon recipes. There are so many favorites to chose from, so why not six?

For my birthday eve meal, Alex and I cooked our own version of salmon risotto. We loaded up our risotto with as many veggies as possible, and used the Persian spice zarchobeh for extra flavor and color. We broiled two small filets of salmon, and added the cooked salmon after the Arborio rice had absorbed all of our cooking liquid.


Syd’s Birthday Eve Salmon Risotto – serves 4 to 6

We used 1/2 stick of butter as recommended in the “Wild mushroom risotto with peas” recipe by Giada de Laurentiis in “Everyday Italian,” but you could get away with using half that amount.  Allow a full hour for cooking this meal; the risotto alone takes at least 30 minutes, and you will want to be patient while all cooking liquids get absorbed.  White wine is traditionally a popular addition to risotto.  If you want to use white wine, pick a dry wine and add just 2/3 of a cup after you add your Arborio rice.

You will need:13100965_10206263031229973_6779215179086965754_n

  1. 1 lb of salmon
  2. ½ T dried basil
  3. ½ T garlic salt
  4. ½ T black pepper
  5. ½ stick of butter
  6. 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  7. 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  8. 1 or 2 red peppers, thinly sliced
  9. 1 C white button mushrooms, finely chopped
  10. 1 ½ C Arborio rice
  11. 32 oz chicken broth
  12. ½ T cayenne pepper
  13. 1 T zarchobeh or turmeric
  14. 1 can artichoke hearts
  15. 1 C frozen peas
  16. 12 cherry tomatoes
  17. 1 handful fresh basil, washed and torn
  18. ¼ C shredded parmesan



  1. Add half of your dried basil, garlic salt and black pepper to the bottom of an oven-safe ceramic dish. Place salmon filets on top of spices, skin down, and add the remaining basil, garlic salt and pepper to the top of the filets.
  2. Broil salmon for approximately 20 minutes on high.
  3. In a large pan, melt butter over medium heat. Add thinly sliced red onion as soon as butter has melted, and stir for five minutes until the slices begin to soften.
  4. Add chopped garlic and thinly sliced red peppers to your pan, stirring to combine. After a few more minutes, add chopped mushrooms.
  5. When mushrooms begin to darken, add your Arborio rice to the mix.
  6. Start adding chicken broth by the cupful, and stir while broth is absorbed by rice (about 5 minutes per cup of broth).
  7. After you have added three cups of broth, add your cayenne pepper and zarchobeh or turmeric. Add your final cup of broth.
  8. When your broth has mostly been absorbed, add canned artichoke hearts, peas, fresh basil and cherry tomatoes. Stir to combine for about five minutes or until all ingredients have heated through. Finally, add shredded parmesan and stir to combine evenly.

The first risotto recipe I ever followed came from Giada’s cookbook.  Patrick and I made the “wild mushroom risotto with peas” found on page 131 of “Everyday Italian.”  I followed the sequence of Giada’s recipe loosely when I created this dish.

Source: Laurentiis, Giada De. Everyday Italian: 125 Simple and Delicious Recipes. New York: Clarkson Potter, 2005. Print.


Coconut Milk-Poached Chicken with Roasted Red Peppers

Half of our roasted red peppers, ready to be covered in foil to steam and cool.

For the past week, my training partner, Jess, and I have been fortunate to stay with a host family near Sarasota, FL, while we train for the upcoming Olympic Trials.  Because Trials begin on Thursday, I am blogging a day early!

Jess and I have been staying with Steve and Pat Roach, and I was delighted when they accepted my offer to share a dinner that I prepared with them in mind.  Steve and Pat have taken us for a tour of Anna Maria Island (see pictures below), and made us feel at home in their house.  To thank them, Jess and I worked on this dinner to share.  We also have enjoyed getting to know Kahlua, a shy cat who is not pictured, and Poundcake, the 9-month old golden retriever puppy (pictured below).  Jess and I have been sticking to healthy meals during most of our training time together, and appreciate the guidance of Georgie Fear, a registered dietitian, board certified specialist in sports dietetics and co-owner of One By One Nutrition.  We knew we wanted to include roasted red peppers, and to build a balanced meal.  One thing I thought we were missing was something green!  We rectified that situation the next day when we had leftovers on top of a leafy spinach salad.

I separated the roasted red peppers into their own recipe, because they are fantastic to make on their own as an appetizer, topping or side.  Enjoy peppers on their own, with cheese and crackers, over salad or on a sandwich!  Happy National Garlic Day!



Coconut milk-poached chicken and cinnamon, cayenne steamed carrots – serves 4 to 6

You will need: IMG_3978

  1. 1 package of quinoa
  2. 1 can of coconut milk, full fat, unsweetened
  3. 3 cups of chicken broth, low-sodium, plus more if using for quinoa
  4. 4 chicken breasts
  5. 8 large carrots
  6. ½ T cinnamon
  7. 1 t cayenne pepper


  1. Prepare quinoa according to package directions, using either water or half/broth half water as your liquid.
  2. Place chicken breasts in a large pot or pan.
  3. Combine coconut milk and broth over the chicken, and set heat to high to bring liquids to a boil.
  4. After your liquid boils, reduce heat to low and cover for 8 minutes.       Check chicken for doneness after 8 minutes, and continue to simmer on low for up to 15 minutes.
  5. While chicken is simmering, peel carrots and dust with cinnamon and cayenne. Place in a microwaveable dish with a cover, and microwave for 6-8 minutes.
  6. Serve chicken breasts over quinoa in a bowl to soak up the coconut milk sauce.


Roasted red peppers – serves 4 to 6

You will need:IMG_3977

  1. 4 red peppers
  2. 2 cloves of garlic
  3. 2 t dried parsley


  1. Rinse 4 red peppers and pop them on a baking sheet.
  2. Set oven to broil on high, and set baking sheet inside on the highest rack.
  3. Use tongs to rotate peppers a quarter turn every 5 minutes. It is okay for peppers to blacken.
  4. Meanwhile, chop garlic cloves.
  5. When peppers have broiled on all sides, remove from oven and place in a large bowl covered with a lid or foil. Wait at least 10 minutes for peppers to cool to the touch, then remove skin, stem and seeds.
  6. Slice or tear peppers into strips and toss with garlic and parsley.
  7. Enjoy peppers on their own, with cheese and crackers, over salad or on a sandwich!



Wide Zucchini Noodles and Pappardelle with Meat Sauce

The pappardelle at the bottom tastes great with a forkful of zucchini noodles and meat sauce with lentils!

Alex and I spent a week apart in different parts of California, and with an anticipated 10 days apart coming up,  we only wanted to spend dinners together this weekend!  This is a glimpse of “Taylor in Your Kitchen” at the Taylor home!  We got creative with more veggie noodles, and I switched up our usual turkey meat sauce recipe by adding steamed lentils, at the recommendation of one of the patients at the physical therapy clinic where I work – an anonymous “thank you!”

This recipe is fantastic for a quick weeknight meal.  The sauce is easy to make once you get used to cooking with multiple pans simultaneously.  To ease your transition to that stage of kitchen comfort, I recommend prepping all of the sauce ingredients before you start cooking.  When the sauce is simmering, you can multitask more easily with the pasta and zucchini noodles.  Pappardelle noodles cook in about four minutes, and while the water is boiling, you can make progress on the zucchini prep.  Otherwise, prep all ingredients first until you get a hang of this recipe.  This dish makes a satisfying vegetarian meal if you omit the turkey; the lentils lend staying power to the sauce.


Wide Zucchini Noodles and Pappardelle and Meat Sauce – serves 4

For this recipe, I like to use a peeler for the zucchini instead of the spiralizer, to match the width of the pappardelle pasta.  Zucchini noodles take about 5 – 7 minutes to cook down.  Check out the gallery to see what the zucchini will look like as it cooks.  You can also prep zucchini noodles quickly by microwaving a single serving for just 2 minutes – that’s perfect for leftover sauce.

You will need:

  1. 1 yellow onion
  2. 1 orange pepper
  3. 1 lb ground turkey meat
  4. 1 package steamed lentils – about 10 ounces
  5. 24 ounces of pasta sauce, your choice on flavor!
  6. 1 t garlic powder
  7. 1 t black pepper
  8. 1/2 t hot red pepper flakes
  9. 1 package of pappardelle pasta – about four 2 ounce servings
  10. 1/2 T salt
  11. 4 or 5 zucchini
  12. 1/2 T olive oil

Optional: parmesan cheese to serve


  1. Peel the outside layer of zucchinis and discard.  Keep peeling until you reach the zucchini seeds, and discard the center portion.  Retain all zucchini strips – those will be your noodles.
  2. Chop onion and yellow pepper(mini or bite-sized pieces).  Heat a medium pan over medium-low heat, and spray with cooking spray.  Add chopped onion and pepper pieces and stir occasionally while veggies cook.  Your onions should start to become translucent.
  3. Meanwhile, heat a medium pot over medium heat for the turkey and sauce.
  4. Spray with cooking spray and brown turkey meat.  Crush up the turkey meat and season with garlic, pepper and hot red pepper flakes.
  5. While turkey is browning, start heating a pot of water for pasta.  Add just a dash of salt to the water as you bring it to a boil.
  6. Add your veggies to the turkey meat when the meat has cooked through completely.  Stir to combine.  Add pre-cooked lentils last.
  7. Pour your pasta sauce over the meat, veggies and lentils.  Stir and simmer for about 10-15 minutes over low heat until your pasta and noodles are ready.
  8. Add pappardelle to boiling water, and reduce heat to medium-high.  Stir occasionally to prevent sticking, and check tenderness after just four minutes.  Drain as usual and stir in olive oil immediately.
  9. Heat a medium pan over medium heat and spray with cooking spray.  Add your pile of zucchini noodles, and cover with a lid.  Stir occasionally until zucchini reaches desired tenderness.
  10. Plate pappardelle pasta with an equal amount of zucchini noodles.  Top with pasta sauce and parmesan cheese or more hot red pepper flakes.

Daikon Noodle Pad Thai


When I visited San Diego to compete in the San Diego Crew Classic and train in the double with Jess, I had the pleasure of staying with my sister, Liz, for a few nights. On Saturday evening, on the eve of my race, Liz invited Shelly, her new San Diego friend, over for dinner. I arrived home with groceries and a plan, and put Liz and Shelly to work. I was in a spiralizing mood, and decided to try out daikon radish noodles for the first time. I had seen a recipe for daikon noodle pad thai in the Williams Sonoma spiralizing cookbook called The Spiralizer Cookbook (thanks Morgan!) but decided I did not want to strictly follow that pad thai recipe. In the spirit of pad thai, I paired our noodles with colorful vegetable ingredients, a flavorful peanut sauce with fresh chopped garlic and ginger, and tender bites of chicken and a single scrambled egg. We topped our noodle dish with a wedge of lime and a generous helping of Sriracha sauce. Everyone went back for seconds!

We noted that the daikon radishes were much harder to spiralize than zucchinis; we also were using a handheld spiralizer called a “vegetti” rather than the “iPerfect Kitchen” standing spiralizer that I have at home (thanks again Georgie Fear)! Be prepared to take turns or take rest breaks if you are spiralizing daikon radishes by hand! Daikon noodles are worth the effort; the daikon radish has a bite to it, and the noodle texture holds peanut sauce well. Thanks to Liz for hosting this meal, and for inviting Shelly over to cook and enjoy dinner with us. As usual, Liz’s puppy Gracie kept a watchful eye over our cooking just in case any morsels fell to the floor. Liz, Shelly and I had enough energy to listen to music and clean up our dishes to have a fresh kitchen for the next morning. We ate early and got drowsy watching Modern Family and sipping tea. That’s my idea of a perfect pre-race evening!


Daikon Noodle Pad Thai – serves 3

Plan ahead so you are not hungry while you are spiralizing. Once prepared these ingredients cook quickly, but the spiralizing step can take a while. Liz, Shelly and I made a double batch of sauce, and ended up having leftover sauce, so I adjusted my previous peanut sauce recipe quantities for you for this meal.  The Racing Weight Cookbook authors Matt Fitzgerald and Georgie Fear deserve credit for inspiring this peanut sauce, which I adapted and have used over and over!

You will need: IMG_3271

  1. 4 or 5 daikon radishes – to yield 4 or 5 cups of spiralized noodles
  2. large crown of broccoli
  3. about 1 C baby carrots
  4. about 1 C sugar snap peas
  5. 1½ pounds chicken breast
  6. ½ C peanuts
  7. 1 lime cut into wedges

For your sauce:

  1. 2 C veggie broth
  2. 1/3 C peanut flour – we used PB2
  3. ½ C raw cashews
  4. 1½       T fresh ginger, chopped
  5. 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  6. 1½ T sriracha sauce
  7. 1½ T honey
  8. 1½ T soy sauce
  9. 1 t hot red pepper flakes if you like spicy sauce


  1. Peel and spiralize your radishes. Set aside.
  2. Chop all of your vegetable ingredients.
  3. Cut chicken into bite sized pieces.
  4. Prepare peanut sauce and leave on the stovetop at a low simmer: bring vegetable broth to a simmer, adding liquid ingredients. Add peanut flour, stirring until combined. Add garlic, ginger and cashews. For extra heat, add 1t or more hot red pepper flakes.
  5. Begin by cooking chicken pieces over medium heat with salt and pepper in a large pot or pan (you will add your daikon noodles to this pan – make sure you have room!). Add about one third of your peanut sauce to flavor the chicken while it cooks. Stir to coat with sauce, and keep stirring occasionally until chicken pieces are cooked through.
  6. Next, set a medium or large pan over medium heat and add your veggies. Add one cup of water and cover with a lid to steam veggies. Once veggies begin to feel tender, add a third of your sauce and stir to coat. Continue cooking and checking vegetables until they have reached desired tenderness.
  7. At this point, combine noodles with chicken pieces and add the rest of your peanut sauce. Stir to coat and cook noodles for about five minutes or until tender. Noodles should take on the color of the peanut sauce.
  8. Meanwhile, crush peanuts in a Ziploc bag with a mallet or the side of a can.
  9. Serve noodles and chicken in bowls topped with plenty of veggies. Add a lime wedge, crushed peanuts and Sriracha sauce.

Sauce inspiration: Fitzgerald, Matt, and Georgie Fear. “Asian Chicken with Peanut Sauce.” Racing Weight Cookbook: Lean, Light Recipes for Athletes. Boulder: Velopress, 2013. 230-231. Print.

The Williams-Sonoma Cookbook: The Spiralizer Cookbook. Weldon Owen, 2015. Print.

Over-Easy Egg Nest: Zucchini Noodle Breakfast with Sweet Potato Hash and Over-Easy Egg

Digging in to a hot bowl of zucchini noodles, sweet potato hash, over-easy egg and parmesan.

My friend Elise and I used her new spiralizer to make this veggie-based breakfast treat: zucchini noodles, sweet potato hash and an over-easy egg.  I got my first spiralizer this year from my good friend and nutrition coach Georgie Fear of One-By-One Nutrition, a habit-based nutrition course.  Georgie encouraged me to add vegetables to every meal, and the spiralizer helped me take on that challenge!

I usually make eggs with green onion and plenty of kale for breakfast, but when I do not have eggs in the morning, I often crave them by dinner-time.  You can try this Easter-inspired egg nest recipe for any time of the day.  This recipe idea came to me while I was enjoying dinner with my husband, Alex, on Easter Sunday.  The following Monday, Elise and I got together for a quick dinner.  We added sweet potato to give this meal more staying power.  Sweet potato has about three times as many carbohydrates per serving as zucchini, and almost twice as many carbs as a 2 oz serving of pasta.  Pesto sauce is very rich and satisfying, and complements the nutty, sweet flavor of the potato.  We used store-bought pesto to save time after rowing practice, but if you have the time, try making your own pesto using the KitchenAid Classic Pesto recipe.


Over-Easy Egg Nest – serves 2

If you do not have a spiralizer, you can make noodles by peeling the skin off of the zucchini, and then continuing to peel until you reach the seed center. With the peeler, you will get pappardelle-like noodles.  We also successfully spiralized a sweet potato, but for this dish I like the contrasting textures of spirals and shredded pieces.

You will need:

  1. 6 medium zucchini IMG_0807
  2. 1 sweet potato
  3. 1 T olive oil
  4. salt and pepper to taste
  5. 1 T pesto (homemade or jarred), plus more to taste
  6. 3 eggs
  7. parmesan cheese
  8. 1 1/2 t hot red pepper flakes


  1. Wash zucchini and chop off ends. Halve the zucchinis to make it easier to spiralize them.  Spiralize zucchinis according to your device instructions.
  2. Peel sweet potato and chop in half.  Shred both halves using a cheese grater, set aside.
  3. Heat a large pan over medium and add half of the olive oil.  Add your pile of zucchini noodles, with salt and pepper to taste.  Add ½ cup water and cover to steam the zucchini, stirring occasionally.
  4. Meanwhile, heat a small pan over medium heat and add remaining oil.  Toss in your shredded sweet potato with salt and pepper to taste.  Stir constantly to keep potato from sticking, until shredded potato pieces begin to soften and brown.
  5. Check on your zucchini noodles after about 5 minutes, they should be turning translucent and softening.
  6. Remove sweet potato hash from heat and set aside.
  7. Prepare your egg in the sweet potato pan.  We used just one egg per serving and cooked it for just 2-3 minutes per side so that the yolk would still run.
  8. Add 1 T pesto to zucchini noodles and stir.
  9. Remove zucchini noodles from heat and transfer about ¼ of the noodles to a serving dish.  Add another small dollop of pesto and then top with one third of your shredded sweet potatoes.  Add your egg to the top of the pile, and sprinkle with shredded parmesan and about 1/3 of your hot red pepper flakes per serving.


Persian Feast for Nowruz, the New Year!

Persian Jeweled Rice.  Photographer: Alli Whitaker

Recently, my training partner Jess and I traveled to Austin, Texas, to race in the Heart of Texas regatta.  While there, we were graciously hosted by Allen and Massey Wallace, parents of my dear friend Sara from Williams College.  Massey prepared a meal for us on our first night in Austin, featuring several Persian dishes.  We feasted on tender, spiced chicken that roasted for hours in the oven and fell right off the bone.  Our salad had fresh strawberries and our eggplant dish was mixed with kashk, a drained yogurt.  The Persian rice that Massey prepared was light, fluffy and flavorful; the rice cooking method changed everything about the texture, and then tiny bayberries lent just a little bite to the dish.  On our last day, when I asked about her recipes, Massey walked me through the process for each dish, encouraged me to call with questions about making the rice and sent me home with bright zarchobeh spices from Iran.

Two weeks after I returned from Austin, I attempted to recreate Massey’s dishes at my friends Alli and Alex’s apartment.  We met early in the afternoon so I could carve out time to prepare each dish while the chicken roasted slowly.  I consulted my friend Sara day-of to ask how to make her mother’s rice: she divulged that each time she either called Massey or consulted the Internet.  Then she wished me a happy Persian New Year, which seemed like a fateful coincidence!  Having just checked in with Massey the day before to confirm the eggplant and chicken recipes, I elected to find a Persian rice recipe online.  Alli and I were nearly stumped by the lengthy recipe we found, but we took our time reading the recipe aloud to fully comprehend all of the steps, and the results were worth the effort.  I will share an abbreviated version of the recipe we used.  For our rice recipe, we were encouraged to soak the dried rice for 2 to 24 hours.  The total rice preparation time took about an hour, including the steps for each rice topping.  For planning purposes, this meal goes most smoothly if you soak your rice first, then get the chicken prepped and into the oven.  You will have plenty of time while the chicken roasts to prepare your rice and then the eggplant dish consecutively.

Alli is a brilliant photographer, with her BA in photography and extensive freelance experience; I have noted which photographs were taken by her.  For more of Alli’s photography, visit her website here.



Persian Chicken– serves 6

I used Massey’s zarchobeh spice, but you can substitute turmeric for a similar flavor. I also used lemon pepper and salt in place of dried lemon and salt and pepper; if you have access to a spice shop, the dried lemon is worth checking out!

You will need: IMG_2953

  1. 2 pounds chicken drumsticks – about 5 drumsticks
  2. 2 pounds chicken thighs – about 4 thighs
  3. 2 T zarchobeh or turmeric
  4. ½ T dried lemon
  5. ½ t salt and 1 t pepper


  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Spread a layer of foil over a baking sheet. Tear another section of foil to cover chicken while cooking.
  3. Blend all spices.
  4. Pat chicken pieces dry and cover in spice blend on both sides.
  5. Cover with foil and roast for two hours. Remove foil and roast for another 30 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for a crisp skin.



Persian Jeweled Rice– serves 6

This recipe is a simplified version of a recipe I found on a website called “the kitchn” [sic]. I included that source below. Alli and I chose the shorter steps and less expensive ingredients to make our rice dish (no saffron) and were happy with the results.

You will need: IMG_2958

  1. 3 C basmati rice
  2. 2 T salt
  3. 1 C dried cranberries
  4. 2 oranges
  5. 2 T olive oil
  6. ½ C sliced almonds
  7. ½ C shelled pistachios
  8. ½ C golden raisins
  9. 2 carrots
  10. 1 cinnamon stick
  11. 2 T sugar
  12. ½ t turmeric
  13. 2 t cardamom


  1. Rinse rice with cold water over a strainer until water runs clear. Soak rice in cold water for 2 to 24 hours with salt mixed in.
  2. Chop dried cranberries into tiny pieces and set aside.
  3. Bring a small pot of water to boil. Peel the rinds off of your oranges and slice rind sections into matchsticks. Drop orange slices into boiling water and cook for about a minute. Rinse under cold water and set aside.
  4. Toast almonds and pistachios together in a large skillet with olive oil for about a minute, or until fragrant, taking care to move the nuts constantly because they brown easily and can become bitter. Add the golden raisins and heat for another minute. Set aside.
  5. Heat 2 T water, turmeric, 1 T sugar and 1 T oil over medium heat in your large skillet. Add carrots and orange peel and sauté until pieces just begin to bend. Add remaining sugar, cardamom and a cinnamon stick and sauté for another minute. Next, add 1 cup of water and bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Cook over medium heat for another 10 minutes, until liquid has reduced to thicker syrup. Drain carrots and oranges over a mesh sieve and retain the liquid.
  6. Bring 10 cups of water to a boil in a large soup pot. Drain your soaking rice and add to boiling water with 2 T salt. After about 8 minutes, your rice will start to boil up to the surface. You are par-boiling your rice. Next, drain rice and rinse with cold water.
  7. Mix rice with the syrup from your carrot and orange mixture.
  8. Add rice to your large pot again, shaping the rice into a pyramid. Cover pot with a lid and wrap with a dishtowel to keep steam from escaping. Cook over low heat for about 20 minutes.
  9. Serve rice caramelized carrot and orange pieces above rice, and nuts and cranberry pieces at the very top. 


Mashed Roasted Eggplant with Yogurt – serves 4

You will need: IMG_2940

  1. 2 purple eggplants
  2. 2 T olive oil
  3. salt and pepper
  4. 3 T Greek yogurt or kashk
  5. about 2 T fresh mint


  1. Peel eggplant and slice in half lengthwise.
  2. Brush the inside surface of each eggplant half with olive oil
  3. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  4. Roast eggplant on a baking sheet for about an hour, at 350 degrees alongside your chicken.
  5. After eggplant has softened, remove from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes before scooping out the soft eggplant insides. Mix soft eggplant with yogurt and fresh mint.

Serve with warmed pita and a fresh green salad of your choice!

Source: Gillingham, Sara Kate. “Recipe: Iranian Jeweled Rice – Recipes from The Kitchn.” The Kitchn. Web. 23 Mar. 2016.

Fish Tacos from San Diego

Robin and Maria’s beautiful backyard was the perfect setting for our San Diego family dinner

Tradition holds that when we visit Robin and Maria, our uncle and aunt on Alex’s side, we are treated to their fish taco special.  On my most recent visit to San Diego, Robin and Maria invited over my sister, her husband, his brother, and my training partner and her boyfriend.  We had quite the crew! We were lucky to have perfect San Diego February weather, and dined al fresco under the stars, palm trees and strings of lights, with a fire going to keep us warm.  Because I miss my San Diego family, I decided to recreate Maria’s recipe for Alex and me to enjoy in Chicago, and to share with all of you.

The staples of this recipe are the fish, rice and beans, but you can add any of your favorite vegetables as a side.  Alex and I enjoyed our tacos with roasted asparagus, and cucumber and tomato salad or a colorful cauliflower medley would pair with these tacos well.


Fish tacos with rice and beans– serves 6

I like to use tilapia with this recipe because it is a light fish that takes on the full flavor of a marinade. Any white fish will do – the flakier the better! Dried beans work best with this recipe, if you have the time to prepare them. Maria cooks her beans all day in a slow cooker, at low heat. When I attempted to use the slow cooker, I plugged it into a faulty outlet, effectively just soaking my beans all day. I found out that soaking the beans works well too! So if you do not have a slow cooker, soak your beans all day in just enough water to cover their surface. Drain that water and bring beans to a boil in fresh water, covering beans with about an inch of water above their surface. When your beans reach a boil, simmer on low heat for at least an hour. Alternatively, this recipe will be just fine with canned beans, but using dried beans has many benefits, as outlined in an article from “the kitchn” (sic) called “How to Cook Beans on the Stove” that I saved for you below.  If you cook beans on the stove, you can reserve your nutritious bean water for later use.

Special note: this recipe has two steps, which are worth starting the night before or morning of your fish taco dinner. If you are short on time, you can use canned beans and shorten your marinating time, but plan to allow fish to marinate for at least one hour.

You will need:


  1. 1 ½ pounds white fish like tilapia
  2. 1-2 C Italian dressing
  3. 16 oz bag dried pinto beans
  4. ½ yellow onion
  5. 1 ½ C brown rice (or about ¼ C dry brown rice per person)
  6. 3 T salsa
  7. 1/2 T olive oil
  8. 12 small corn tortillas

Serve with sliced cabbage, Greek yogurt, salsa, and avocado slices or guacamole


  1. Transfer fish to a large Tupperware container to marinade.  Cover fish in a layer of Italian dressing, sloshing gently to coat.  Refrigerate and marinate your fish overnight/all day, or for as long as you can.
  2. Combine beans with water to soak overnight/all day.
  3. When you are ready to prepare your fish taco meal, start by draining the beans that have been soaking.  Cover beans in fresh water, with about an inch of water above the bean surface.  Bring to a boil and then simmer on low for at least an hour.
  4. Next, combine water and rice in a 2-1 ratio.  Add salsa before bringing rice to a boil.  Simmer for at least twenty simmer, or as directed on rice package.
  5. Meanwhile, prepare your taco toppings.  Chop cabbage and slice avocado and set aside.
  6. When your rice has about 10 minutes left to cook, heat a large pan on medium heat.  Add olive oil.  When oil begins to shimmer or smoke faintly, add fish filets in a single layer, without overlapping.  Let your fish cook for 4 to 5 minutes without nudging the filets at all.  You should start to see the edges of the filets become less translucent as the fish cooks.  Flip fish, and finish on the second side for 2 to 3 minutes (longer for thick filets).
  7. When your rice has absorbed all of the water, remove from heat, fluff and cover again for about 5 minutes.  Doing so will give your rice a chance to steam and will help you avoid sticky clumps of rice.
  8. Serve fish with two small corn tortillas per taco.  Top with Greek yogurt, salsa, cabbage and guacamole or fresh avocado slices.


Source: Christensen, Emma. “How To Cook Beans on the Stove – Cooking Lessons from The Kitchn.” The Kitchn. Web. 16 Mar. 2016.


Beet Burgers with Mint Yogurt Topping

Beet burger topped with mint yogurt

I made beet burgers for the first time about a year ago, when I found the recipe on a MyFitnessPal newsletter. I have been on a beet kick lately, so I thought I would try out a new version of that recipe, and a variation on the garlic aioli sauce that they recommend. My friend Danielle, who also rows for Lincoln Park Boat Club, and I got together yesterday to trade recipes and share feedback. She agreed to teach me a recipe for muffins if I came over to cook lunch. Danielle is a brilliant baker who earned her chops at the Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College and worked as a pastry cook at the University Club in Chicago. I would share her muffin recipe, but she has a blog of her own to start! For now, I have included a photograph of said muffin to whet your appetite.



Beet burgers with mint yogurt topping– serves 6

I like to use pretzel rolls with these burgers because they mold easily to your patty, and help to hold the burger together. You can use whatever buns you prefer. Pair this recipe with lentil salad or black beans for extra protein. I paired my beet burgers with a Greek yogurt-based topping instead of mayonnaise because I wanted to add extra protein to this dish, and I prefer the thicker consistency of Greek yogurt. For that reason, I am calling my mint yogurt a topping, rather than a sauce.

You will need:


  1. 2 large beets
  2. 1 medium sweet potato
  3. 2 eggs
  4. 1 cup walnut topping, or chopped walnuts
  5. 1 t apple cider vinegar
  6. 1 T Worcestershire sauce
  7. 3 garlic cloves, or about 1.5 T chopped garlic
  8. ½ C onion, chopped
  9. 1 t paprika

For your topping:

  1. 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  2. 3 T chopped fresh mint
  3. juice of half of one lemon
  4. salt and pepper to taste


  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. First, chop garlic and onion and set aside.
  3. Peel your beets and sweet potato and shred with microplane or grater.
  4. Combine all burger ingredients.
  5. Line a baking sheet with foil for easy cleanup. Divide beet mixture into six equal parts, and form six patties by hand, squeezing out most of the excess juice between your palms.
  6. Place burgers on foil-lined baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile, combine topping ingredients.

Serve with avocado slices and pretzel rolls.

Source: Davis, Deborah, MS, RD. “Beet Burgers with Garlic Sriracha Aioli – Hello Healthy.” Hello Healthy. My Fitness Pal, 2014. Web. 09 Mar. 2016.

Warm Farro and Beet Salad

Concentric circles on a cross section of roasted red beet

Alex and I joined my teammate Sarah Cornish and her fiancé Justin Cash for dinner and the Oscars on Sunday.  We cooked under the watchful eye of their adorable French bulldog, Igor.  I have been wanting to cook warm salad with farro for some time now, and thought the Oscars were the perfect occasion to add golden beets to the mix!  We had steamed beets on hand from Trader Joe’s, and enjoyed those with the golden beets when those cooled.  I made more roasted red beets a few days later to enjoy on other salads at work.

Farro has even more protein than quinoa, at 7 grams per serving, according to an online article from Endurance Buzz.  Farro also offers more carbs and calcium per serving than quinoa or brown rice.  Learn more from Clemson University’s “Ingredient of the Month” feature.  Farro is especially satisfying when served warm, and makes a great substitute for rice in any dish!  Farro tastes great on its own, but I coated it in vinaigrette as a way of dressing our salad.

Perfect meal for a meatless Monday!



Warm Farro and Beet Salad – serves 4-6

We used golden beets in addition to red beets, in honor of the Oscars.  Both golden and red beets take about 45 minutes to cook, and can be roasted together.  If your beets come with greens attached, you can wash and cut the greens to serve with your salad greens, or save them to sauté later!  We loved starting dinner with a fresh baguette from La Fournette bakery in Old Town, dipped in our balsamic vinaigrette or topped with extra goat cheese and beets.

You will need:


  1. 4 or 5 medium beets, red and/or golden
  2. 1 C farro, uncooked
  3. 2 T olive oil
  4. 2 T balsamic vinegar
  5. salt and pepper, to taste
  6. 4.5 oz salad greens
  7. 3 T goat cheese
  8. fresh baguette



  1. Start by preheating your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Scrub beets and wrap individually in foil.  Arrange on a baking sheet and bake at 450 for 45 minutes
  3. Meanwhile, combine water and farro in a 3-1 ratio in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat.  One cup of uncooked farro should yield plenty for four people.  Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 30′, stirring occasionally.
  4. Combine equal parts olive oil and balsamic with salt and pepper, to taste.  This will be the vinaigrette to dress your salad.
  5. When all the water has been absorbed or evaporated from your farro, remove from heat and dress with vinaigrette.
  6. Combine beet greens (optional) with salad greens.
  7. When beets are ready, let cool in their foil packets.  This will make it easier to remove their skins.  When cool, peel beets with fingers or the back of a knife.  The skin should slide off easily.  Cut beet into slices or chunks to top the salad.
  8. In a large bowl, combine salad greens and top with warm, dressed farro.  Add beet slices or chunks and crumble goat cheese over top.
  9. Serve with fresh bread and extra vinaigrette dressing.


Sources: “Farro: Ingredient of the Month.” ACFEF Chef & Child Foundation and Clemson University. Web. 2 Mar. 2016.

Hanenburg, David. “Farro – A Low-Gluten Grain Packed With Protein.” Farro – A Low-Gluten Grain Packed With Protein. Endurance Buzz. Web. 02 Mar. 2016.