Tag Archives: weeknight favorite

the quick & not-so-dirty: my go-to greek yogurt honey herb sauce

greek yogurt honey herb sauce copy

There is an ace I keep tucked not very high up my sleeve for nights when planting myself in the kitchen and whipping up something delicious (or at least not-objectionable) feels akin to being told at mile 26.2 that, ‘Surprise! Just kidding! You’re not done, you’ve still got 10 more miles!’

greek yogurt honey herb sauce - garlic and basil

In the confines of a horribly flourescent-lit office or the hallways of a home cluttered with a neverending mountain of dirty laundry – it doesn’t matter where you spend your days; sometimes just showing up and making supper for 1, 2, 3, or more is a daunting task that’s enough to make you want to crawl into a hole and stay there. Forever.

(Or at least till RHOBH comes on. I’d come out for that. [Did I just admit that?!])

greek yogurt honey herb sauce - greek yogurt

But I digress. Back to that ace in the hole I was talking about. Or was it up my sleeve? I can’t remember.  Moving on. You simply follow this formula to come up with a main dish that is so easy, so delicious, and so dadgum simple that even after the longest of long days suppertime is quick, painless, and anything but dirty. Get yourself some Greek yogurt (I like 2% Fage and don’t recommend messing around with that fat free nonsense), some honey, some rice wine vinegar (or champagne/white wine vinegar), and a big old handful of herbs (basil, mint, or cilantro – or a combination of the three – work best), and chuck it in the bowl of a food processor. Rustle up a garlic clove and toss that in there too.  Add in some salt and pepper, and blend the mixture till its creamy and smooth – thicker than a salad dressing but thinner than a mayonnaise.

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on ribs and granny carts: honey herb pork tenderloin

honey herb pork tenderloin

Some years ago, in New York City, I would become very frustrated when I would find a recipe that was perfectly suited for whatever occasion it was, and then a harsh reality would hit.  I’d realize that I didn’t have things like stand mixers for coconut cakes and fancy French mandolins for perfectly cut matchstick slaw, and, oh yeah, I didn’t have that backyard outfitted with a grill that those finger-lickin’ ribs necessitated either.

honey herb pork tenderloin - fresh herbs and garlic

Instead I had a rickety and rusty 1960’s four burner gas stove (of which, two worked reliably, one was dead, and one threatened a gas explosion each time you encouraged it to light), a janky communal collection of pots and pans bequeathed to us from various donors, and a fire escape ‘patio’ that threatened to buckle each time we crawled out the window to enjoy a glass of wine ‘al fresco.’

honey herb pork tenderloin - pureed flavors

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coming in hot: thai green curry cod cakes with avocado cucumber relish

thai green curry cod cakes with cucumber avocado relish

I’m in the camp that excessively dieting in January to adhere to the constraints of some self-imposed and totally unrealistic ‘resolution’ is a bunch of malarky.

thai green curry cod cakes - pacific cod

But really, who am I kidding – it’s only because I know that I’ll totally throw my own game by kamikaze-ing myself with a cheeseburger, a (craft!) beer, and some killer garlic-truffle fries….just for good measure.

thai green curry cod cakes - chopping peppers and onions

Having my sand in the toes here in much-more-SoCal has definitely got my wheels turning however, and I am hesitant to say it but…..as the rest of the country has been beaten tortured to an inch of their frostbitten life by the ‘polar vortex,’ I’ve been cruising around in a t-shirt and flip flops, taking nightly sunset runs on the beach, and have even managed to pick up just a hint of a tan.  The bathing suit….it is on the horizon my friends.

thai green curry cod cakes - green curry paste

[Ducks to avoid rotten tomatoes]

thai green curry cod cakes - avocado cuke relish!

As with San Francisco, the community here in Santa Barbara is super active; with the pleasant weather, everyone is biking, hiking, running, spinning, juicing, and perfecting their yoga poses.  There is a farmer’s market that runs 7 days a week – year round, rain or shine – and a fishmarket out on the pier that rotates in the catch of the day quite literally right from the (frigid!) waters of the navy blue Pacific.

thai green curry cod cakes - cod pulsed in processor

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individual chipotle turkey meatloaves (with homemade chipotle bbq sauce)

individual chipotle turkey meatloaves

I had wondered if it would ever feel like ‘Fall’ in San Francisco, and the answer is a resounding YES! Despite the fact that my previous Mid-West and Eastern homes have harkened in this lovely and crisp season with a more pronounced and defined transition occuring somewhere in mid to late September, now that we have settled into the tail ends of October (!), there are finally crunching leaves underfoot, tall boots and leggings tromping up and over the hills, and the return of the painfully ubiquitous “PSL” (that’s ‘Pumpkin Spice Latte’ for those of you not ITK [duh…’In The Know’]).

individual chipotle turkey meatloaves - chipotles

And, speaking of which, not to be a curmudgeon, but I’ve really had it with the Pumpkin Spice Latte hysteria. Beyond and beside the fact that I am a self-professed avoider of all things SBUX (I’ll take my daily fix from a janky corner coffee shop with some personality any day…..or, better yet, a freshly brewed cup of Stumptown (swoon!) from my pals over at Le Marais), I just can’t wrap my head around something that smells like the instant nausea trigger that is a Yankee Candle store and manages to pack 470 calories (yes, really) in that massive “Venti” size that has morphed into somewhat of a fashion accessory.

individual chipotle turkey meatloaves - fresh veggies

Sure I get giddy when I see the return of my favorite totally-fake-food, candy corn, at the corner drug store, and I’m absolutely aware that anything made of sugar, corn syrup (um, more sugar), and wax has nutritional benefits situated somewhere soundly below 0, but let’s get real folks. That’s what Fall is really about.

individual chipotle turkey meatloaves - cumin

In other news, I’ve been eyeballs deep in that project I hinted of a few posts back, which incidentally was also a few months back. (I’m sorry! Again.) I’m thisclose to sharing with you everything about the baby I’ve been working very hard to hatch, and, incidentally, it has nothing to do with cooking, writing, or being in the general vicinity of the kitchen. It does however have to do with some very pretty and very sparkly things, and I can promise you that I’ll be looping you in in the next few weeks.

individual chipotle turkey meatloaves - chopped chipotles

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not like grandma used to make: chicken noodle soup with baby bok choy, snow peas, and rice noodles in a ginger, garlic, and lemon broth

chicken noodle soup with snow peas, baby bok choy, and rice noodles

In the past three weekends I’ve had the immense pleasure of:

1) hosting 2 of our favorite Los-Angelenos for a weekend of concerts & friends
2) hosting one of my bridesmaids and her fabulous boyfriend from Austin, and
3) flying SFO-NYC, driving five hours north to Lake Placid, and witnessing two of the most good natured and hilarous people I know get hitched.

chicken noodle soup with baby bok choy, snow peas, rice noodles, ginger & garlic - chopping the carrots

It’s been a pretty special few weeks, and with the tally of free weekends we’ve had since we’ve moved here still hovering at a whopping three (….since March!….), I can’t deny the fact that though this upcoming weekend will hold no knockout dinners (Outerlands, you killed it once again), no afternoons spent drinking white sangria whilst in the grips of a fierce game of bocce (because I can’t not take a visitor to our favorite Sausalito haunt), and no tear stained napkins after one amazingly talented groom-to-be took out his guitar and sang his own flawless rendition of the most touching Avett Brother’s song while we swayed to the last of the daylight amongst the tall Adirondack pines….

It’s a weekend I am fervently anticipating.

chicken noodle soup with baby bok choy, snow peas, rice noodles, ginger & garlic - snow peas cut and ready

(Major brownies points for that last one folks. Maje.)

chicken noodle soup with baby bok choy, snow peas, rice noodles, ginger & garlic - washing the bok choy

By now I’m sure you’re tired of hearing me say how busy we’ve been (whine, whine, whiiiine!!), and trust…. I’m tired of saying it myself.  But we are finally facing down the second half of a week that will be capped off with *just* a weekend – just one of the plain old vanilla kind, spent here in the city, in and around the neighborhood we now call home, and hopefully punctuated and permeated with all of those fantastic things that make a muted weekend so sweet.

chicken noodle soup with baby bok choy, snow peas, rice noodles, ginger & garlic - fresh rice noodles

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hello, august: heirloom tomato BLT salad with goat cheese and dijon vinaigrette

heirloom tomato BLT salad with goat cheese and dijon vinaigrette

There are few things in life that delight me more than fresh tomatoes ripened on the vine; that earthy and slightly spicy scent that rubs off on your fingers when you carefully twist one apart from it’s branch is, to me anyway, quite possibly one of the most intoxicating perfumes that exists in nature.

heirloom tomato BLT salad - fresh heirlooms

But tomatoes require patience, a virtue that I, categorically speaking, have not exactly been renowned to posses. For try as you may, you simply cannot force a tomato; I am a firm believer that there is nothing in this world less enticing than a watery, mealy, pale round of ‘tomato’ sliding sadly out the side of a sandwich in the middle of Winter. What’s the point?

heirloom tomato BLT salad - thick cut bacon

Sure, you can eek by with some hothouse-grown grape tomatoes in your salads for most of the year, and, in their own right, they will do perfectly fine. But if you forgo the sad and sallow ethylene-ripened specimens and hold out for the Real McCoys, that patience is handsomely rewarded.

heirloom tomato BLT salad - fresh arugula

And come August, they’re ready — and here we suddenly are.

heirloom tomato BLT salad - the makings of a great dressing

heirloom tomato BLT salad - perfect vinaigrette

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it’s a wrap: pork & quinoa lettuce cups with thai chili, bell pepper, and coconut cream

pork & quinoa lettuce cups with thai chili, bell pepper, and coconut cream

I made these lettuce cups a few weeks back, and, lemmetellya — these bad boys are a keeper.

pork & quinoa lettuce cups, quinoa rinsed and ready to cook

I’m not generally one to wrap things up in lettuce and call it a day (I’m sorry, but is there anything more depressing than watching someone attempt to wrap a juicy cheeseburger in a flimsy wisp of romaine lettuce and proclaim that they truly don’t even miss the bun?), but I will admit that sometimes when I crave something that normally requires some sort of vehicle to get it from Point A (the plate) to Point B (your mouth), I don’t actually feel like noshing on said (usually bready) vehicle.

pork & quinoa lettuce cups, fresh thai chilis - warm & spicy!

Tortillas, wraps, pitas – I do love all of them, but after recalling pizza, fish tacos, and a pita-fueled mezze platter on my list of eats week-to-date, I was feeling a bit breaded out.

pork & quinoa lettuce cups, fresh grated ginger & garlic

Enter these lettuce wraps – where the exclusion of any wrap-type thing adds to the intensity of the flavors and lets the ingredients shine. Here, sauteed ground pork is mixed up and folded together with crunchy bell peppers, spicy thai chili rounds, and a hefty dose of garlic and ginger, and the whole lot is bound together by a silky hit of coconut cream.

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