beet greens + augustus gloop

As much as I love beets and as often as I buy them, I’ve never done anything with the greens except add them to my backyard composter. I knew they could be eaten, I just never bothered to give them a try. All that changed last week. I bought two big beautiful bunches of purple beets and the greens were so vivid and so crisp that I just couldn’t bear to throw them away.

I eat a green salad nearly everyday; most often spinach, kale or arugula; so I figured why not beet greens. Why not indeed! It turns out that beet greens are the perfect vehicle for a simple chopped salad. They’re kinda bitter and a little tough, but if you lightly dress them and let them sit for a bit they become supple and delicious. “What,” you may be asking yourself, “would be the perfect dressing for this simple salad?” Well I’m glad you asked…I just happen to have the most amazingly delicious Spicy Peanut-Ginger Dressing recipe to share with you.

In my mind the combination of peanut, garlic, ginger and soy sauce (with a little chipotle kick thrown in for good measure) is the perfect blend of flavors. It’s the stuff my food dreams are made of and it’s really what makes this chopped beet green salad so good. As it turns out this dressing doesn’t just make the salad, it also makes the perfect sauce to drizzle on some cold soba noodles or a delicious dipping sauce for grilled shrimp. It’s a multi-purpose, delicious on everything, symphony of flavors that I could literally eat with a spoon. In fact if I could swim in a pool of this dressing (a la Augustus Gloop lapping up chocolate from the Wonka river) I think I would. It wouldn’t be pretty to witness, but man would it be delicious. So anyway, even if you’d never in your wildest dreams consider eating a beet green salad (although you really should), give this dressing a try— it totally rocks!

Chopped Beet Green Salad with Spicy Peanut-Ginger Dressing
This salad is delicious with any mix of sturdy greens, but it’s the dressing that really steals the show. Yum!

beet.green.salad

1 bunch of beet greens, washed
3 1/2 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
1 1/2 tbsp. blue agave nectar
2 tbsp. water
1 1/2 tbsp. + 1 tsp. tamari soy sauce
2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
1 tsp. chipotle chili powder
3 1/2 tbsp. all-natural peanut butter
2 cloves fresh garlic, grated
1 tbsp. fresh ginger, grated
toasted sesame seeds, for garnish

  1. Add all the dressing ingredients to the bowl of a food processor. Blend until smooth and all the ingredients are fully incorporated. Set aside.
  2. Wash and remove the stems from each beet leaf. Slice diagonally into thin strips and place in a bowl.
  3. Spoon a few spoonfuls of dressing over the julienned greens and toss. Add additional dressing until the greens are nicely covered but not soggy.
  4. Allow to sit for 10 minutes before serving (This will allow to greens to absorb some of the dressing and soften up a bit.)
  5. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds and serve. Store remaining dressing in a glass jar in the fridge and drizzle with reckless abandon.

Post-Holiday Curry

If you’re like me then you’re ready to put Thanksgiving behind you and move onto the stresses of December. You’ve watched the parade and football. You’ve eaten your fill of turkey and trimmings. And you’ve helped yourself to “just a sliver” more pie. And now you’re fat and tired and perhaps black-fridayed out and the last thing you’re interested in is another intricately planned and painstakingly executed dinner. In that case have I got a post-Thanksgiving solution for you— Curried Coconut & Peanut Chicken.

I truly love the flavors of coconut, peanut and curry together (toss in a little chili pepper heat and I’m in heaven), but I find it to be a particularly divine antidote to the highly involved and side dish driven nature of Thanksgiving. One pot (well, two if you count the rice), minimal cooking effort and everyone gets their own individual bowl so you’re not faced with a mountain of dishes to do. Sounds the making of the perfect post-holiday dinner to me!

I know this is where I usually ramble on about the recipe, my kids or some laughable moment from my childhood. But here’s the thing— I’m fat and tired and black-fridayed out and this is all I can manage to type. I hope your Thanksgiving was a good one. Until next week…

Curried Coconut & Peanut Chicken
I serve this over coconut brown rice with lots of minced chili peppers, chopped peanuts and cilantro on top. Yum!

4 1/2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken thighs
1/3 cup lime juice
2 tbsp. curry powder (hot or mild), divided
1/4 cup olive oil
10 allspice berries
5 cloves garlic, minced
4 scallions, finely chopped
6 sprigs thyme
24 baby carrots, thinly sliced
1 chayote squash, peeled and cut into 1″ cubes
1 russet potato, peeled and cut into 1″ cubes
1 1″ piece ginger, minced
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. Garam masala
1 can lite coconut milk
1/4 cup smooth all natural peanut butter
diced chilies, for garnish
chopped peanuts, for garnish
chopped cilantro, for garnish

  1. Cut the chicken into 1″ pieces and place in a large zip-lock bag. Add the lime juice, and 1 tbsp. of curry powder and toss to combine. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
  2. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add the chicken to the pot and cook until golden brown. Transfer the browned chicken to a large bowl and set aside.
  3. Add the remaining curry powder, the allspice, garlic, scallions, thyme, carrots, chayote, potato, ginger, salt and Garam masala to the pot and cook until lightly caramelized and fragrant, about 15 minutes.
  4. Add the chicken and any juices that have accumulated to pot along with coconut milk and stir to combine. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes and squash are cooked through and sauce is thickened, about 30 minutes.
  5. Fish out the thyme stems and the all spice berries, stir in the peanut butter and serve over coconut rice, garnished with chilies, cilantro and chopped peanuts.

* adapted from saveur

Peanut Butter Cups— Yum!

I grew up with a mother who was “crunchy and all natural” way before it was the thing to do. She frequented the local farm for fresh goats milk, would only buy whole wheat bread, plain yogurt and all natural peanut butter. And don’t even get me started on our summer of carob! My mother was the queen of healthy and homemade, for better or worse. She refused to buy junk food, but didn’t want to deny me the joys of childhood gluttony so she would make homemade devil dogs, whoopie pies and popcorn balls. My friends loved it. I on the other hand longed for nothing more than Wonder Bread, Skippy Peanut Butter and Lucky Charms. Seriously, if it was full of high fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oils and red dye no. 2 then it was for me!

So isn’t it ironic that I turned out to be the type of wife and mother who makes everything from scratch. Who has a running tab at Whole Foods and would sooner serve my kids sawdust than Skippy. (Yes, my mother is enjoying a nice chuckle over this.) Luckily, my family thinks it’s wonderful that I can make donuts, candy and various other treats that rival the mass-produced variety. But I’m sure my Lucky Charms Day will come!

Anyhow back to the point… My husband just recently celebrated his birthday. And while I made him a chocolate cream pie (that blog post will come later), we sang to him and he blew out the candles, the poor dear ended up being away for business on his actual birthday. I didn’t want him to feel like his birthday had passed unnoticed, so I decided to do something special for him upon his return. The question was what? Well, he happens to LOVE peanut butter cups, they’re his all time favorite candy. So there was my answer, I would make him homemade peanut butter cups. They can’t be the hard to recreate, right?!?

It turns out they’re not hard to make at all, they just take a little time. (And since I can’t be bothered to attempt anything that seems too easy, this wasn’t a problem for me.) The final product was really fantastic, way better than Hershey’s could ever make, and much loved and enjoyed by my whole family.

But the real question is: Would my juvenile self have approved of these homemade treats? It hard to say for sure, but they were so tasty that I imagine an 8-year-old me would gobble them up without complaint.

Homemade Peanut Butter Cups
If you have a peanut butter and chocolate lover in your life you must try these!

For the chocolate shell:
8 oz. 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate, chopped
6 oz. milk chocolate, chopped
a pinch of salt

For the peanut butter filling:
3/4 cup creamy natural peanut butter
1/3 cup powdered sugar
a pinch of salt

  1. Prepare a mini muffin tin with liners and set aside. Use a double-boiler (or a microwave) to melt the chocolate, stirring frequently. When the chocolate is totally melted and smooth remove from heat.
  2. Place 1 teaspoon of melted chocolate in each cupcake liner. Carefully spread it with a the back of a small measuring spoon around the liner and 3/4 of the way up the sides. Repeat with the remaining liners.
  3. Place the chocolate-covered liners into the freezer to firm up, for about 10 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, prepare the peanut butter filling: Stir together the peanut butter, sugar and salt.
  5. When the chocolate cups are firm, spoon 1 heaping half teaspoon of peanut butter paste into each chocolate cup.
  6. Top with 2 teaspoons melted chocolate, spreading carefully so that none of the peanut butter can be seen.
  7. Let the cups firm up in fridge for at least one hour before indulging. These babies soften up very quickly, so store any remaining peanut butter cups (and believe me, there won’t be many) in fridge.

*adapted from the sweetest kitchen