Recent Articles

Asparagus Soup

On May 7, 2016, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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This is simple, quick recipe that only takes about 20 minutes to prep and make. Add a salad with some cut apples and red onions and some crusty bread to make it a meal.

Asparagus Soup
Serves 4

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup onion, diced
1 bunch asparagus, tips and mid section cut into 2 inch pieces
1 quart vegetable broth
1 15 oz can cannellini beans, drained
Lemony Pesto (recipe follows)

In a large pot saute onion in olive oil over medium-high heat until the onion begins to brown. Then add the asparagus, reserve the tips.  Cook for another minute.  Add the vegetable broth and let the pot come to a boil. Reduce heat and cook for 10 minutes at a simmer.

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Add the beans and blend the soup with a immersion blender to get a creamy texture.

When ready to serve, add the asparagus tips and lemony pesto. Cook for about 2 minutes and then serve.

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Lemony Pesto

1 tablespoon garlic cloves
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon black crushed pepper
1/2 cup fresh italian parsley

Grind all ingredients together in a food processor or using a mortar and pestle.

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They’re Gonna Getcha, Getcha, Getcha, Getcha

On May 4, 2016, in Family, by Chris Baccus
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I have never vaped. I did smoke. When I was 14, I started having a cigarette here and there, usually when friends and I would head down to the teen dance clubs in Portland, Oregon. The harsh flavors of a Camel or Marlboro didn’t really do it for me when I started. Fortunately, for the cigarette industry, there were clove cigarettes that smelled sweet and made your lip numb.

Vaping and e-cigarettes didn’t exist back then, but I can see in the video above how it could have easily been my gateway to smoking, much like how clove cigarettes became packs of Marlboro Reds later for me (I did eventually quit in my early 20s.)

Like clove cigarettes, e-cigarettes come in flavors that today make cloves sound dull. According to some research out of Yale, appealing flavors was one of the top reasons students experimented with e-cigarettes. E-liquids come in a variety of flavors like Fruit Loops and Cap’n Crunch that are enticing to youth.

Now as a dad with twin boys with only one year of elementary school left, I have to start thinking about these things. Knowing my past of succumbing to cigarettes in my foolish youth, it’ s important to know what has changed in 30 years and how the tobacco industry has found new ways to hook kids.

Here are some tips on what we can do as parents.

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Fava Bean Spread

On May 2, 2016, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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The past two weekends I bought some fresh fava beans.  They’re hard to miss. Giant peapods with a rich green color usually next to a box of beans, fava beans are sure to catch your attention. The next thing to wonder is what to make with these colorful bean monstrosities. For me, there was an obvious answer – fava bean spread.

Last year, we were dining out and enjoyed some fava bean spread on toast at a local restaurant. I immediately came home and started to search the Internet for some recipes to try my own take on this wonderful, buttery bean spread.  Some recipes called for mixing in some goat cheese or Crème fraîche. I wanted to try something without the addition and then build from there.

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The recipe below is just that. A basic fava bean spread that you can use as a base to experiment. Maybe add a 1/3 cup of goat cheese to it. Perhaps some tablespoons of Crème fraîche until you get the texture and flavor you want. You could also add grated cheese.

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For now, this basic recipe will get you started and really it needs nothing. The flavor is great as is, but if you do experiment please leave me some comments on what you did to enhance or try. I would love to hear it.

Fava Bean Spread
Serves 6-8 slices

1 1/2 lb whole fava beans with pod
1/2 lemon, juice
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup water
salt and pepper to taste

Cook the whole fava beans in boiling water for 5 minutes.  Remove and let them cool for 5 minutes.  Start chucking the pods by removing the pod. Put beans aside in a separate bowl.  When all finished removing the pods, now remove the skin from each bean.  You’ll see a dingy green skin that you can peal off to reveal bright green peas. Place the bright green beans in a saute pan.

Heat the saute pan on medium heat and toss the beans with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil.  Add water to the pan.  Toss to coat everything and heat mixing the beans around for about 5 minutes to soften the beans.

Add the cooked beans, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper to a food processor. Puree it until you have a thick paste.  Add more olive oil or lemon juice if you need to get it smoother or modify the flavor a bit.

Heat some bread slices brushing olive oil on top of each and place in the oven at 350 degrees for 5 minutes. Remove the bread when done and spread on the paste. Shave some parmesan and drizzle a little olive oil to finish.

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Don’t Know What to Cook at Home?

On April 18, 2016, in Food, by Chris Baccus
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Getting people to cook at home is a movement.  Michael Pollan’s recent book and Netflix series Cooked, highlights some of the history and the reasons why cooking at home is so important to our culture and health. To support this trend, there are pre-cooked delivery services, meal delivery where you cook prep food, and now a Kickstarter called My Happy Plates will send you a weekly recipe plan.

As a home cook who makes about four or five meals at home a week, I have an approach I use every week. I basically start Saturday morning where I’ll browse my Pinterest boards of saved recipes and might even crack open a cookbook or two from my kitchen bookshelf. I write into my phone’s notepad the days of the coming week and what I plan on making.

From that list, I start shaping my shopping list. Every weekend I head out to a farmer’s market, usually Studio City or La Canada, and find what I can from the local market. Depending on what I find, I sometimes adjust things on my meal plan list. For example, if I find some amazing squash at the farmer’s market I might remove something and replace it with a recipe with squash as an ingredient.

The rest of the shopping usually gets finalized at Whole Foods or Erewhon. I’ll leave a couple days open in my meal planning for a night out or some carry-out on a day where I leave work late.

That’s pretty much it.

I’ve never considered using a service that would send me recipes for a coming week. Honestly, the thought of losing some control used to bother me. That said, I’m more open to it now since one can ignore recommendations and still add-in or subtract what one wants for the coming week’s meal plan. My Happy Plates provides a service that delivers recipes based on a family eating profile that you fill out so the recipes match your likes.

I’m considering giving it a try. After years of cooking at home, it can get a bit difficult finding new recipes. Plus my recent endeavor of using meal delivery services has opened me up to using services.

In the meantime, you can learn more about My Happy Plates at their Kickstarter page and, if you like what you see, you can support their effort!

 

DISCLOSURE:  I was contacted by My Happy Plates but was not compensated in any way to write this post. The opinions expressed here are my opinion and shared since I personally liked the concept shared with me.

 

Mexican Vegetarian Rice Bake

On April 13, 2016, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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Casseroles are a great way to make being a vegetarian more flavorful and interesting. Granted, I’m not a vegetarian.  However, we try to eat vegetarian or vegan for most of our dinners at home, doing about four or five a week without any meat.  What I like about casseroles is that they create flavor meals that feel more like meals and less like a side dish.  Plus baking something is usually easy and since there is no meat in the dish, the cooking time is pretty fast too.

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A few weeks ago I made a recipe I found that uses rice and a kale black bean soup from Pacific Foods. My post isn’t sponsored like the blogger who did the recipe for the brand’s website, but that’s fine. I really didn’t mind spending $3 for the soup and trying it out.  The recipe seemed foolproof and the cost to make this dish is pretty low, if you care about that.

What I enjoyed about this dish is the crunchiness rice gets when you bake it. Baked rice dishes enhance the texture of the rice and the soup added to the recipe gives the rice even more flavor.

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If you are looking for an easy, after work vegetarian meal you should give this one a try.  I’m sure I’ll make it again soon.

Full Recipe: [Mexican Vegetarian Rice Bake]

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Mediterranean Spicy Spinach Lentil Soup

On April 12, 2016, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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I love when I find something easy and new to make.  Pinterest has been a goldmine.  I ran across this easy to make lentil soup recipe last weekend before heading to the market. It only took about 40 minutes to make, making it a good recipe for a busy weekday meal after work.

You can add additional vegetables too. I went with a couple carrots I added some color and more flavor to the dish.

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The recipe has some kick that mostly comes from the crushed red pepper. So go easy on that if you want less punch.  The rest of the recipe is pretty straight forward.  I found the flavors meld better over time as the soup tasted even better a day or two after I made it and used the leftovers for some lunches at work.

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Thanks to The Mediterranean Dish for the delicious recipe! I’ll definitely have to try some more from her blog.

Full Recipe: [Mediterranean Spicy Spinach Lentil Soup]

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Jackfruit Fajitas

On March 21, 2016, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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I first became aware of jackfruit after ordering vegan “carnitas” tacos at one of my favorite vegan restaurants in California – Hip Vegan Cafe in Ojai. What amazed me is how a fruit had a shredded meat texture to it which makes it really useful as a substitute to meat without being the typical “fake meat” in vegetarian cooking.

So what is jackfruit? It is a rather large tree grown fruit that is part of the mulberry and fig family. It is the national fruit of Bangladesh! Thank you Wikipedia.

It’s a fibrous, starchy fruit that doesn’t have that much flavor by itself. The stringy texture gives it the meaty texture that works great for vegetarian cooking. It is a really odd fruit and one you won’t typically find at a grocery store.

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I found some at Whole Foods from a company that sells packaged jackfruit with various marinades.

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The Jackfruit Company sells a Tex-Mex version I decided to try out for my first at-home jackfruit dish. There are curry, teriyaki and BBQ options too.

The packets contain enough for two. You would have to be pretty skimpy to get enough for 3 or 4 people out of one pouch of The Jackfruit Company’s product. The company says each pouch serves 2.5 per container which is what I pretty much found.

Jackfruit Fajitas
Serves 2

1 package of The Jackfruit Company Tex-Mex jackfuit
1/2 yellow pepper, thin sliced sticks
1/2 red onion, thin half moons
4 large corn tortillas
Oil for tortillas

Heat the jackfruit packet in a saute pan for about 2 minutes and then add the pepper and onions.  Mix and heat on medium heat for 5 minutes.

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While jackfruit is cooking, in a separate saute pan heat a thin layer of oil on high heat. When hot, add a tortilla and then flip in a 10 seconds.  Cook the other side for 5 seconds then transfer to a plate with paper towels.  Remove oil from tortilla by drying off with paper towel.  Repeat 3 more times.

Serve by adding jackfruit mixture to tortillas. If you want, you can add cotija crumbled cheese and some fresh chopped cilantro if you want. Some guacamole or sliced avocado would be good too.

 

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Braised Curry Cabbage

On March 20, 2016, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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I mostly write and share main dishes from my kitchen, but today I spent a few minutes in the morning braising cabbage to enjoy throughout the week.

Braised cabbage is a wonderful dish that makes a great side to enjoy with many styles of cooking. This particular dish has a Southeast Asian vibe with garlic, ginger and curry powder bringing it to life.

The best part is this dish takes about 5 minutes of preparation and only 15 minutes of cooking.

Braised Curry Cabbage
Serves 4

1 whole cabbage, cut into large bite-sized pieces
1/2 onion, half moon thin slices
1 tablespoon coconut oil (or olive oil)
2 garlic cloves, diced
1 teaspoon chopped ginger
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup water

Heat the coconut oil in a stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the sliced onions and salt.  Cook for about 3-5 minutes until browned. Move the onions to a dish to set aside.

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Add the garlic, ginger and curry powder to the pot and let it cook for about 1 minute scraping up and bits from the cooked onions.  Add the chopped cabbage and stir, letting the cabbage cook for about 2 minutes.  Return the onions to the stockpot and then add 1 cup of water. Cover and let the mixture come to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook covered for 10 minutes.

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When finished, remove from heat and serve or place in a storage container to enjoy later. It can be enjoyed reheated or cold.

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kiddle

Thank you Scary Mommy blog for sharing the news today about Kiddle.  Internet search has been a bit of an issue for parents who let their kids have tablets or use the computer. Today that issue is reduced with a new Google website called Kiddle.com that offers more family friendly search results.

I tried a few searches that might come up with the current election year.  I went with Melania Trump because there are some interesting articles and lists about her. For the most part both Google and Kiddle were kid friendly though it didn’t take long to scroll down Google and find some sexy photos of Mrs. Trump which doesn’t make Google bad, but for parents that want less skin in their search results, Kiddle seems to meet the need.

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Results are also easier to read and come with a thumbnail image to the left of each result.  Most results point to wikipedia or pbs and avoid the Buzzfeed and entertainment news sites that have a more adult slant to them.

It is worth trying it out and I’m definitely adding a bookmark icon to our boys’ tablets for when they want to do searches online.

Tryout Kiddle yourself at: http://www.kiddle.co/

Dad Spotlight: Meal Delivery Services

On February 25, 2016, in Food, by Chris Baccus
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dadspotlightepisode60I really enjoy my time chatting with Chris & Don on their podcast Dad Spotlight. This past week we discussed Meal Delivery Services. If you haven’t had a chance to read my review of six meal delivery services, please take a moment. And if not, here’s your chance to listen to me discuss our family’s experience.

Plus, Chris & Don ask some great questions about the review that I didn’t cover in my write-up.

You can click here to listen to the full episode and please remember to Subscribe to the podcast: http://www.dadspotlight.com/episode-60-meal-delivery-companies-with-chris-baccus/

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