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I love this salad! It's a great way to showcase juicy, bright peaches plus it's a unique summer side dish. Enjoy! I'll definitely make it again.

Peach and Mozzarella Salad
Source: Real Simple


3 peaches
1 cup fresh basil leaves torn or chiffonade
8 ounces fresh mozzarella cut into 1 inch pieces
a bit of olive oil, like a couple of teaspoons
salt and pepper to taste.

Cut each peach into 6 or 8 slices then cut each slice in half. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and serve!
 
 
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This sauce has been really popular on food blogs recently. here, here and here for instance! I got tired of seeing it on my RSS feed all the time so I had to try it. Like most of the bloggers above express, I was doubtful that the sauce could be really as good as everyone says since it is so simple. 
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This simple: Just 28 oz crushed tomatoes, 1 peeled and bisected onion,  5 tbsps of butter, and salt. I liked it, and I'll probably make it again. But reading all of its praises made me expect something phenomenal, so I was a little disappointed. I do not want my readers to be disillusioned, so I will cut it to you straight (did I just invent this idiom? sounds vaguely drug related?), this sauce is bland. I do think this would be a perfect pasta sauce for picky kids, but for the adults make sure to provide basil and parmesan to give it more flavor.

Full disclosure, I did forget to add salt to my sauce which is a culinary no-no. Also, I kind of just cooked it for a random amount of time because I was hungry! So it is possible that the sauce is as good as everyone says if you season and cook it properly. I'll let you be the judge! 

Simple Tomato Sauce
source: many many blogs, 3 of which are linked above. I hear the original is in "Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking" by Marcella Hazan.

1 28 oz can whole peeled tomatoes with juices
1 onion peeled and cut in half.
5 tbsps unsalted butter
salt to taste

In a medium saucepan, warm over medium heat the tomatoes, onion and butter. Bring to a simmer and then lower the heat so the sauce will stay simmering and not boiling. Simmer for 45 minutes stirring occasionally and crushing the tomatoes against the side of the pan. Remove from heat and throw away the onion. Taste it and add as much salt as you like.
 
 
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Today's post is in honor of my dad, whose recipe this is! This sauce is very simple and delicious, this is all you need:
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4 roasted red bell peppers, 3 garlic cloves, 4 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. That's right! No tomatoes, onions, cream, or basil, you don't even have to cook it! 

My dad insists on roasting your own red bell peppers. To do so, put bell peppers in a pan in the oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Then place the peppers in a paper parcel (or bag). Roll up the end of the bag to seal it a bit and let steam for 15 minutes. After the peppers are cool enough to handle, remove the seeds and peel the skin off.

Or, you could buy roasted red bell peppers, already seeded and peeled, in a can. You'll need two 12 oz. cans to equal 4 peppers. There are a few downsides to purchasing pre-prepared peppers. Primarily, the peppers will probably have preservatives and additives like sugar, which you can avoid by roasting the peppers yourself. Also, the sauce tastes better if the peppers are fresh.

I usually use the jarred peppers, just for convenience. I like to keep a few jars of red peppers handy so I can make this sauce whenever I want. It's a staple around here. 

Thanks for sharing this and many other recipes with me, Dad! I have so many great memories of preparing family meals with you. Thanks for spending that time with me. I love you!

Roasted Red Bell Pepper Pasta Sauce
serves 6+

4 roasted red bell peppers, coarsely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 tbsp olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Add the red peppers, garlic, salt and pepper to a blender. Drizzle in the olive oil and puree until it is the consistency you want. Taste and add salt and pepper (or more garlic) if desired.

This is phenomenal tossed with 1 lb of linguine and sprinkled with freshly grated parmesan. I bet it would also be good in quinoa with basil and mozzarella, or even served with grilled chicken. 
 
 
You're gonna love this! This broccoli pesto is tangy, creamy and the perfect compliment to pasta or even better, quinoa! 
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Gather raw broccoli florets, heavy cream, olive oil, parmesan cheese, sliced or slivered almonds, lemon and garlic. First, steam the broccoli by simmering 3/4 cup of water in a large pot. Add salt and broccoli, cover and cook for a little over a minute until the florets don't taste raw anymore. Next toss them in a strainer and run cool water over them to stop the cooking. Take a moment to admire how beautifully green the florets are. Pretty, huh?
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Next, in a food processor place 2 cups of the broccoli, 3 garlic cloves, 1/3 cup parmesan, 2 pinches of salt, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, and 1/2 cup of the almonds. While processing, drizzle in 1/4 olive oil, and 1/4 cup of cream until it looks like this:
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If you taste it now, the tanginess will be a bit overpowering. But don't worry, once it is mixed with quinoa or pasta, it's perfect! Toss 3 cups quinoa or half a box of pasta with half the sauce (or, combine 6 cups quinoa or a whole box of pasta with all the sauce.) Top with remaining broccoli and almonds and your choice of additional toppings! I added feta cheese and pine nuts, because I had both on hand and man, it was sooooo good! 
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This sauce goes really well with orecchiette, as pictured, because the sauce pools in the "little ears" and it's just oh so delightful. But honestly, this sauce was made for quinoa! The texture of the pesto perfectly coats each quinoa seed and the sauces tanginess accentuates the nutty flavor of the quinoa. The only reason I don't have a quinoa picture is because we ate it so fast! Yummmmmm. I think I'll make another batch this weekend!

Broccoli Pesto
adapted from Une-deux senses.

5 cups raw broccoli florets (about one bag)
3 garlic cloves
2/3 cups sliced or slivered almonds
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan (It's so worth it to grate it yourself!)
2 tbsn. fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup heavy cream
salt

Simmer 3/4 cup water in a large pot. Add salt and broccoli and cook for about a minute until the vegetable doesn't taste raw anymore. Pour into a colander and run cold water over it to stop cooking. 

Set aside 3 cups of the broccoli and add 2 cups to processor bowl with garlic, 1/2 cup almonds, parmesan, lemon juice and salt to taste. While processing, drizzle in olive oil and heavy cream. 

Divide sauce into two equal amounts. Save one half for later, and mix the other half with 3 cups of cooked quinoa, or half a box of cooked pasta. Bon Appetit!
 
 
Tagine is a traditional North African dish cooked in a device of the same name. It consists of tender meat and spiced vegetables. This is my version!
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Gather 2 teaspoons paprika (I forgot to get it in the picture!), 1/4 teaspoon turmeric, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon kosher salt and 2 tablespoons olive oil. In a plastic bag, mix all these flavors together, throw in 2 1/2 lbs pork tenderloin and toss to coat. I'm not convinced this is the best meat choice, It's quite expensive. If you can think of something better let me know in a comment! When you buy the meat, ask your butcher to cut it into 1 1/2 inch pieces. Don't be afraid, they're just waiting for someone to ask them to do something butchery! Anyway, let the meet marinate in the fridge for at least 1 hour, and no more than 12.
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When you're ready to start cookin' get 4 carrots, pitted kalamata olives, parsley, cilantro, 1 clove garlic, ginger, lemon, and an onion. Also 32 oz chicken broth.
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For your mise en place, cut the carrots into thin sticks about 3 inches long, cut the onion into thick slices, zest half the lemon, grate (or chop into tiny pieces) the ginger, mince the garlic, slice the olives in half, and chop the parsley and cilantro. Mise en place is a great phrase, I just learned it. Can you use context clues to figure out what it means? If not, click here! Oh yeah! I almost forgot! Around this time start cooking the quinoa according to the directions. You'll need about a 10 oz box.
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Heat another 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the carrots and onions and cook for about 15 minutes until they look like this...
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sooo tasty! Transfer them to a plate. 
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Adding a few bits of pork at a time, brown all sides and then put aside on a plate. Repeat with remaining pork until they're all browned. Add all the pork, onion and carrots back to the pot, and stir in the garlic, ginger and lemon zest too.
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Pour in the whole box of chicken broth and bring to a boil.
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Once it's boiling, take out the biggest piece of pork and cut it in half to make sure it's done. If it's not ready yet, keep the broth boiling and check another piece in a few minutes. Once, the pork's cooked, stir in the quinoa, cilantro, parsley and olives.
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Spoon into bowls and enjoy!
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Pork Tagine with Quinoa
adapted from Real Simple

2 teaspoons paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 1/2 lbs pork tenderloin, cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
1 medium yellow onion, thickly sliced
4 carrots, peeled and cut into thin 3 inch strips.
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
zest of 1/2 lemon, grated
1 32 ounce container low sodium chicken broth
1 10 ounce box of quinoa
handful of chopped cilantro
handful of chopped parsley
3/4 cup kalamata olives pitted and halved. 

In a ziploc bag, combine first 6 ingredients and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the pork and shake to coat. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, no more than 12 hours.
When you are ready to start cooking, cook quinoa according to box directions.
Heat the remaining 2 tbspns of oil in a large pot over medium heat. Cook onions and carrots for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer to a plate.
Adding a few pork pieces at a time, brown all the pork on all sides and set aside.
Return browned pork to the pot with onions, carrots, garlic, ginger and lemon zest.
Add chicken broth and bring to a boil. Once pork is done, stir in quinoa, cilantro, parsley and olives. 
Divide into bowls and serve.
 
 
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Marcus Samuelsson is my favorite celebrity chef. Ina Garten is a close second. Her recipes, though classic American/European staples I've made a million times, can sometimes be onerous. Marcus Samuelsson's cuisine, on the other hand, is exotic and easy! When I make one of his dishes for the first time, I can't even begin to comprehend what it will taste like. In the end, the dishes have a fresh, delicate yet flavorful quality. It's hard for me to describe, I just find his dishes super satisfying. Now that I've gotten you excited, let's make Samuelsson's Flank Steak with Potato Ragu!
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Here's what you will need (in clockwise order): red onion, parsley, rosemary, fingerling or yukon gold potatoes, 1 lime, 1 1/2 lb flank steak, diced tomatoes, chickpeas. Not shown: garlic, salt, pepper and olive oil. Interesting combination right: rosemary and lime?  potatoes and tomatoes? Actually, I guess potatoes and tomatoes go pretty well together if french fries and ketchup are any indication. But still, rosemary with stuff like limes and tomatoes? Don't be afraid, it tastes amazing! The rosemary and garlic compliment the flank steak perfectly, while the ragu's tanginess, thanks to the lime and tomatoes, contrasts the richness of the steak.

I don't have very good progress pictures so I will just jump straight to the recipe. I really think you should try this one; it's simple, savory and satisfying.

Flank Steak with Potato Ragu
minimally adapted from Samuelsson's recipe.

1.5 lbs flank steak, rubbed with salt and pepper to taste.
salt to taste
pepper to taste
3 tblspns olive oil
1 large or 2 medium garlic clove(s)
1/2 teaspoon chopped rosemary
2 cups chopped fingerling or yukon gold potatoes
1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
1 red onion, diced
1 14 oz can chickpeas
chopped parsley to taste
1 lime

Heat 2 tblspns olive oil in a medium sauce pan on high heat. Add potatoes and salt and pepper. Stirring frequently, cook for 3 minutes. Mix in the red onions and chickpeas, then pour in the tomatoes including the juices. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 5-8 minutes or until only 1/3 of the liquid remains. Continue to cook on low heat for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the rest of the olive oil (1 tblspn), garlic and rosemary in a pan over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, place the steak in the pan and cook one side for 5 minutes. Flip it and cook the other side for 5 minutes for a rare (ish) steak, if you had a super thick steak like I did, if yours is thinner it will take less time. Follow your instincts!

I'm a big fan of meat thermometers. If you are picky about your steak's done-ness, refer to this handy system:  rare=120-125 degrees, medium=140-145 degrees, well done= 160+ degrees. Note that this applies only to beef. Don't go cooking your chicken to 120 degrees, blech! Now that I've unnecessarily put the concern of food poisoning in your mind, let's continue with the recipe!

When the steak is done to your liking, put it on a cutting board, top it with chopped parsley and let it rest for at least 5 minutes. This helps the juices redistribute throughout the meat so it will all be juicy! Stir the meat juices from the pan into the potato ragu.

Plate the ragu and cut the steak across the grain at a 45 degree angle into slices. Cutting it in this specific way makes it less chewy. Place the slices on top of the ragu and squirt with lime. Don't forget the lime! 

I can think of two reasons why you might not try this dish: 1) your fear of cooking the steak too little or too much, 2) your fear of cutting the steak just right. Allow me to allay these concerns. 

I had trouble cooking the steak enough. I would cut into it and it would be too bloody. So I just threw it back in the pan and cooked it for a few more minutes. Still, it was too rare for us, so I wound up cutting the slices and then searing them individually for like, a minute. That was the perfect amount. The beef was tender and juicy but not bloody. So, I would suggest erring on the side of cooking less, because you can always cook it a bit more. But if you cook it too long, it will be dry and chewy, but honestly it will still probably taste good with that garlic and rosemary on it. Also, don't worry about taking your time to make the steak perfect. The ragu can sit for a while and be fine on low heat. It will be waiting for you when you are ready for it.

Don't worry about cutting the steak! Who cares if it looks pretty, you're going to eat it anyway! If you mangle it really bad, you can just cut it into bite sized pieces and save your diners an extra step.
 
 
After our Alaska trip, we've recently come into possession of a whole lot of halibut! Today, I will walk you through this recipe in which this monster of a fish....
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becomes this delightful dish.
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Ok, full disclosure, I don't really know if the halibut we ate is the halibut I caught, but someone in our family caught it!
 
 
Another great recipe from Noble Pig. It's perfect for summer because it's a nice frosty treat and there's no cooking involved, just mixing.
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The last recipe was vegan friendly. This one is not! 
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mmmmmm, meat!
 
 
I love this recipe from Noble Pig! There are so many great things about it. It is not your typical tortilla soup, or at least not the typical soup I've ordered at many a Mexican restaurant in Texas. For one thing, it is vegan and gluten free! (Note: Apparently some Vegetable Broths are gluten free and some are not, so it depends on what kind you buy.) For another thing, it is very customizable depending on how much time you have to prepare it. You could use all fresh vegetables you prepared yourself or use canned or frozen veggies, or a mix of both, which is what I did. 

Use the link above for the exact recipe, I will just give you a few tips and possible substitutions.
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