Champagne Vinaigrette

This is a great simple vinaigrette.  It’s tart and zingy and goes well with other flavors.  I thought it was the perfect accompaniment to this Steak and Blue Cheese Salad, but this would go great with pretty much any salad; it’s a great go-to salad dressing.

Champagne VinaigretteChampagne Vinaigrette (A Seat at the Table)

Makes about 1/2 cup

Adapted from Love and Lemons

  • 1/4 cup Champagne vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 tsp maple syrup
  • salt and pepper, to taste

In a small bowl, whisk all ingredients together.

Steak and Blue Cheese Salad

Who says salad has to be boring?  This salad is packed with a ton of flavor and feels decadent with just a few special add-ons.  I find that the steak on this really makes it a filling and satisfying salad, perfect for lunch.  Blue cheese adds a great salty, pungent flavor that pairs nicely with the steak and makes this salad extra special.  Not into stinky blue?  This would also be great with feta or extra sharp cheddar.

Steak and Blue Cheese SaladSteak and Blue Cheese Salad (A Seat at the Table)

Makes 1 large salad

  • 3 cups spinach
  • 1/4 cup shredded red cabbage
  • 1/4 cup chopped cucumbers
  • 1/2 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup snap peas, chopped
  • 1 oz blue cheese, crumbled
  • 3 oz Asian Marinated Flank Steak
  • Salad dressing, to taste

In a large bowl, add all ingredients and serve.

Asian Marinated Flank Steak

As you may have been able to tell if you’ve been following me for a while, I don’t cook a lot of red meat.  Since most of my cooking events have to be vegetarian, I’m much more comfortable cooking without meat.  However, I do enjoy the occasional steak.  Flank steak is a great, relatively cheap cut of meat.  While it can be a bit tough if overcooked, that just means it’s lean piece of meat.  I particularly like this sliced up and served over salad.

Asian Marinated Flank SteakAsian Marinated Flank Steak (A Seat at the Table)

Serves 4-6

Adapted from an old Washington Post clipping

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 scallions, cut in 1 inch slices
  • 3-4 lbs flank steak (this is enough marinade that you can go head and marinate two and have leftovers)

In a large Ziploc bag, add your flank steak.  Pour in all the ingredients, seal the bag tightly, gently tossing the bag to make sure the marinade covers the steak entirely.  Place bag in another bag or a dish, just in case, and place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours.

When ready to cook, remove steak from the fridge.  Heat grill pan (or grill) over high heat until very hot.  Grill steak for about 3-4 minutes on each side.  Steak should lift off the pan easily when ready to flip.  Once cooked, let rest for about 5-10 minutes before slicing.  Cut against the grain in thin strips to serve.

Southwest-Style Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

The idea for this dinner came from a craving for sweet potatoes, and thinking of the ingredients in a sweet potato hash.  After going berry picking at the farm this weekend, I had farm fresh sweet potatoes, jalapeno peppers, poblano peppers and zucchini.  The perfect ingredients for a southwest inspired mixture.  I add some black beans for protein, and this became a filling, delicious vegetarian meal.  The smooth sweetness from the potato contrasts nicely with the slightly spicy filling.  Another great option would be to omit the beans and add a poached or fried egg on top.  There are tons of options for what you could stuff a potato with, so I hope you’ll use this as inspiration to create a dish with whatever ingredients you have on hand.

Southwest-Style Stuffed Sweet PotatoesSouthwest-Style Stuffed Sweet Potato (A Seat at the Table)

Serves 6-8

  • 6-8 sweet potatoes
  • drizzle of olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and diced
  • 2 poblano peppers, seeded and diced
  • 1 large zucchini, diced
  • 2 (15oz) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • salt, to taste
  • shredded cheese, to garnish
  • fresh parsley or cilantro, to garnish
  • sour cream or Greek yogurt (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line a baking sheet with foil.  Pierce the potatoes several times with a sharp knife or fork.  Drizzle each potato with a little olive oil and then sprinkle with kosher salt, rubbing the potatoes until evenly coated.  Place potatoes on prepared baking sheet and bake for about 40-60 minutes or until fork tender.

Meanwhile, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add diced onion and sauté for a few minutes.  Add jalapeño and poblano peppers and continue to sauté for a few minutes.  Add in the diced zucchini and sauté until all the vegetables are tender and beginning to brown.  Add beans and spices, and heat through.

Once potatoes are fork tender, remove from oven and carefully slice down the center.  Pile on the filling then top with cheese, parsley and a dollop of sour cream.

Peach and Blueberry Crisp

Oh summertime, how delectable your fruits are.  Peach season is in full swing in these parts and I may have gotten a bit carried away when picking last week and ended up with way more peaches than I knew what to do with.  That’s a lie, I totally knew what to do:  devour them!  They were fantastic!  While I haven’t done much cooking with peaches before, I did try making this delicious crisp.  This was a wonderful combination of in-season fruit.  Everything about it is delicious.  The crisp, is sweet and chewy, the peaches get buttery soft, the blueberries are little bursts of flavor.  There’s just a hint of cinnamon which adds a great warm taste, but isn’t overwhelming.  It’s really fantastic, and with a dollop of Greek yogurt it totally counts as a breakfast food.  Or be traditional and serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  Just make sure you enjoy the fruits of the season!

Peach and Blueberry CrispPeach and Blueberry Crisp (A Seat at the Table)

Serves 6

Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker

  • 2 lbs (about 8-9) fresh peaches, peeled, pitted and cut into wedges
  • 2 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 tsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 heaping cup blueberries

Toss the peaches with sugar and set in a colander over a bowl to collect the juice.  Let sit for about 30 minutes, while you make the topping.  In a small bowl, whisk together about 1/4 cup drained peach juice, cornstarch, lemon juice, cinnamon and salt.  In a bowl, mix together the peach slices, juice mixture and blueberries.  Pour into a 2-quart baking dish (9×13 would probably be sufficient).

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Topping:Peach Blueberry Crisp (A Seat at the Table)

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 6 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened and cut in pieces

Whisk together the dry ingredients.  Add vanilla and butter and use a pastry cutter or your clean hands to blend in the flour mixture until crumbly.  Spread mixture on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for about 20 minutes, or until lightly browned and firm to the touch.  Then lower the oven rack and increase oven temperature to 375°F.

Carefully transfer the toasted topping to the peach-blueberry mixture, spreading in an even layer and pressing down slightly.  Sprinkle with sugar and bake for about 30 minutes, until golden and bubbly.  Cool for about 15 minutes on a wire rack before serving.

Spanakopita Quinoa

Hello, Delicious!  This is a must make.  This super delicious dish is packed with flavor and definitely filling.  Quinoa is a good protein source, containing most of the essential amino acids our bodies need from food sources.  And while I have heard complaints that quinoa is boring, this is anything but boring!  There’s a little spice to it, and a ton of flavor from garlic, onions, spinach, dill, and best of all, feta.  This all mixes together into a creamy serving of deliciousness.  You’ll definitely want to be making this.  Pair it with a simple Greek salad, or grill up some vegetables or chicken to go with it and you’re all set!

I originally made this using a pot and a skillet.  However, I think the spinach would wilt enough just being mixed with the hot quinoa, so I’ve adapted the recipe so you’ll only have to use one pot.

Spanakopita QuinoaSpanakopita Quinoa (A Seat at the Table)

Serves 6

Adapted from An Edible Mosaic

  • 1/3 cup pine nuts (or almond slivers), toasted
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (divided)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp fresh ground pepper
  • 1/8 – 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3/4 tsp dried dill
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 cups water (or broth)
  • 8-10 oz baby spinach
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
  • 1/8 tsp freshly ground nutmeg (optional)
  • 3 Tbsp fresh dill, chopped (or 1 1/2 Tbsp dried)
  • 2 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • 6 oz Feta cheese, crumbled

In a medium pot, toast nuts over medium heat until fragrant and flavorful.  Remove from pan and set aside.  In the same pot over medium-high heat, add 2 tsp olive oil, 2 cloves minced garlic, and chopped onion.  Sautee until onion is soft and translucent.  Remove contents from pot, and place in a large serving bowl.

Return pot to burner and add 2 tsp olive oil.  Add remaining garlic and quinoa.  Toast the quinoa for a couple minutes until fragrant, stirring regularly.  Add salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, dried dill and oregano, mix well.  Add water, stir, then cover with a lid and reduce heat to medium-low, simmering for about 10-15 minutes, until all the liquid has been absorbed.

Meanwhile, in the large serving bowl with the onion-garlic in it, add the remaining ingredients.  Once quinoa has finished cooking, add the hot quinoa and mix well.  The heat from the quinoa will wilt the spinach.  Garnish with toasted nuts and serve.

Blackberry Banana Smoothie

This purple people eater is a delicious summer-time treat.  It’s crazy hot in the DC area now, so flavorful, nutrient-dense drinks are super appealing.  I used the blackberries Mom and I picked last week (in the rain…so much more pleasant than roasting in the sun).  This is also a great use of bananas that are getting a little too spotty for eating (not ready to make a smoothie when the bananas are?  Peel them and store in a airtight container in bite size pieces for later).  The more spots the sweeter the banana, which works well with the tart berries.  I also added plain Greek yogurt for calcium (twice as much as regular yogurt), and it adds extra creaminess.  I was going to add some frozen spinach as well, but I’m out.  A dash of milk helps it all blend together into thick, creamy, summer-time bliss.  Stay cool.

Blackberry Banana SmoothieBlackberry Banana Smoothie  (A Seat at the Table)

Serves 2

  • 1 1/2 cups blackberries
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1/3 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup milk (or until desired consistency)
  • honey (optional)

Add all ingredients to a blender, and blend until smooth.  Taste and add honey if needed.

Double Berry Buttermilk Bundt Cake

Sometimes failure in the kitchen happens.  It’s unfortunate when you spend time and ingredients trying to create something wonderful and end up with a mess.  But in today’s case, at least the mess tasted delicious.  This bundt is the perfect blend of sweet (not too sweet) cake with sweet/tart berries studded throughout.  The cake is pillowy soft and super scrumptious, I was almost glad it fell apart since that meant I got to sneak tastes!  Despite the bundt failure, this is definitely a cake I’d try to make again, it’s just too scrumptious to defeat me.  Next time, use actual butter to grease the bundt pan, and sprinkle with flour, apparently a good greasing with cooking spray wasn’t enough.  I hope you try this, and I hope you have better luck than I did.  Good luck!

Double Berry Buttermilk Bundt CakeDouble Berry Buttermilk Bundt (A Seat at the Table)

Serves 10-12

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

  • 2 3/4 (355 grams) cups plus 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature (put in a hot water bath if you forget to take them out early)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 3 cups mixed berries (I used fresh blueberries and blackberries)

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a bowl, whisk together 2 3/4 cup flour, baking powder, and salt.

Double Berry Buttermilk Bundt Cake (A Seat at the Table)In a stand mixer or large bowl, cream butter, sugar and lemon zest until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  With the mixer on low, add eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides as necessary.  Beat in vanilla.

Add 1/3 of the flour, beating until just combined, then add 1/2 the buttermilk, repeat ending with the last 1/3 of flour.  Toss the berries with the remaining 2 Tbsp flour, then gently fold them into the batter.  The batter will be very thick.

Generously butter your bundt pan and sprinkle with flour.  Scoop batter into prepared pan in an even layer.  Bake for about 55-60 minutes, turning halfway through and covering with foil if the top begins to get too dark, cake is done when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Tomato-Goat Cheese Tart

I made this over the 4th of July, and loved the simplicity of it.  This super delicious, cheesy tart comes together quickly, takes advantage of the lovely summer tomatoes, and looks impressive enough for company.  As the saying goes, it’s easy as pie.  I think this would also work well as a galette…which might make it perfect for making at the beach, where pie pans are not always available, but the most delicious farm-stand tomatoes are.  Plain goat cheese gets some extra flavor from rosemary and lemon zest.  You want to be careful to squeeze out the seeds/juice from the tomatoes before layering them on the pie.  Too much liquid and the pie will be soggy.

Tomato-Goat Cheese TartTomato-Goat Cheese Tart (A Seat at the Table)

Serves 8

Adapted from The Endless Meal

  • 1 pie crust (I like Pillsbury)
  • 4-5 large tomatoes, cut off the top and squeeze out liquid then slice
  • 1 cup goat cheese
  • 2 tsp dried rosemary (or twice as much fresh, chopped)
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 lemon, zested

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line 9″ pie dish with pie crust and pierce the bottom with a fork.  Set aside.

In a bowl, beat together goat cheese, rosemary, salt and lemon zest.  Layer goat cheese mixture into the bottom of the prepared pie.

Cut the tops of the tomatoes off and carefully squeeze the juice/seeds out.  Slice tomatoes.  Layer tomatoes on top of the goat cheese layer, until pie is filled.  Sprinkle with a little kosher salt.

Bake for 40-45 minutes, until crust is golden and tomatoes are soft.  Remove from oven and let stand for at least 30 minutes before serving (I couldn’t wait that long, so my slices kind of fell apart, but they still tasted delicious!).

Broccoli Pesto Pasta

With an abundance of broccoli on hand, I was looking for something different to make than the usual steamed or roasted broccoli.  This takes the super healthy benefits of broccoli and turns it into a great spread, or in this case, sauce.  While this is definitely different from traditional pesto since it doesn’t include basil, it still has the nutty flavor from the parmesan and pine nuts.  I topped this with some chickpeas for some extra protein, and grilled summer squash and zucchini for some extra vegetables.  You could also reserve some of the steamed broccoli to add on top or add any other vegetable you feel like.

Broccoli Pesto PastaBroccoli Pesto Pasta (A Seat at the Table)

Serves 10-12

Adapted from Whole Living

  • 1 box whole wheat pasta, I like rotini (I also tried gluten-free brown rice pasta shells that were good with this)
  • 6 cups broccoli florets
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 2/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 1/2 lemons, zested and juiced
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • basil to garnish

In a large pot, boil the broccoli florets for a minute or two, until bright green.  Drain and rinse in cold water to stop the cooking.  Refill the pot and cook the pasta according the directions on the box (be sure to generously salt the water!), drain and set aside while finishing the pesto.  Add broccoli and remaining ingredients to a large food processor and blend until smooth (do this in batches if necessary).  Serve with whole wheat pasta and top with favorite vegetables and rinsed chickpeas, if desired.  Garnish with fresh basil.