Chinese Long Beans with Cracked Pepper

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 small onion, thinly sliced
1 pound Chinese long beans or green beans, cut into 3-inch lengths
1/2 red bell pepper, peeled with a vegetable peeler and cut into 1/3-inch dice
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper

Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and cook over moderately high heat, until lightly browned. Add the long beans and red pepper and stir-fry until the beans are slightly softened and browned in spots, 5 minutes. Stir in the sugar. Add the water, cover and cook over moderately low heat until it has evaporated and the beans are tender, 5 minutes. Add the soy sauce and pepper and cook for 1 minute. Transfer to a platter and serve.

Basic Granola

3 cups rolled oats
1 1/2 cups nuts and seeds – slivered almonds, pistachios, pecans, walnuts, cashews, black and white sesame seeds, poppy seeds, chia seeds and flaxseeds
1/2 cup apple juice
1/2 cup maple syrup (or honey)
1/4 cup coconut oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Preheat oven to 325F (160C).

Combine the oats, nuts and seeds in a large bowl.

Combine the apple juice, maple syrup, coconut oil, vanilla extract, cinnamon, sea salt and black pepper in a medium saucepan. Gently heat all together until salt is dissolved and coconut oil liquified. Pour liquid over the dry ingredients and toss to coat. Spread the mixture evenly on a baking sheet. Bake for 40 minutes until golden. Make sure to stir the mixture about every 15 minutes to make sure it is evenly baked.

Let the granola cool completely. It will become crunchier as it sits. Store in an airtight container for a few weeks.

Serve with fruit over yogurt or milk.

Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup

2 tsp olive oil
1 c diced carrots
1 c diced celery
1 small onion, diced
half of a chicken breast, with skin + bone
1 cup roughly chopped spinach
2 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
3/4 c orzo pasta
kosher salt
fresh ground pepper
8 – 10 cups chicken broth
2 lemons

Preheat oven to 350. Rub chicken breast with olive oil, season liberally with salt + pepper, place on baking sheet and roast for 35-40 minutes, remove, loosely cover with foil and let sit. I made a whole chicken breast. I used half for the soup and saved the other half for stuffed manicotti the next night. Turn up heat to 400. Slice one lemon and place on parchment lined baking sheet. Roast lemon slices for 20 min. Remove and set aside.

In a large pot or dutch oven, heat 2 tsp olive oil over med. heat. Add carrot, celery and onion and saute for about 6-8 min. Add 8 cups broth, spinach, thyme, and orzo, season with salt and pepper. Bring to boil, cover partially with lid and reduce heat, let simmer for about 15 -20 min.

While soup is simmering peel skin off chicken and cut meat away from the bone. Shred chicken. Add chicken to soup along with the zest and juice of one lemon.

Stir + serve. Top soup with roasted lemon slices.

Tip: Add additional broth as needed. After soup sits for a while the pasta absorbs broth and you’ll need to thin it back out.

Ricotta Pound Cake with Strawberries

1 1/2 cups cake flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, room temperature, plus more to grease the baking pan
1 1/2 cups whole milk ricotta cheese
1 1/2 cups sugar, plus 1 tablespoon
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 orange, zested
2 tablespoons Amaretto
Powdered sugar, for dusting
1 pint strawberries, hulled and quartered or 3 oranges, cut into supremes

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 by 5 by 3-inch loaf pan with butter. In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir to combine.

Using an electric mixer, cream together the butter, ricotta, and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. With the machine running, add the eggs 1 at a time. Add the vanilla, orange zest, and Amaretto until combined. Add the dry ingredients, a small amount at a time, until just incorporated. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick comes out clean and the cake is beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan, about 45 to 50 minutes. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Using a mesh sieve, dust the cooled cake with powdered sugar.

Meanwhile, place the strawberries (or orange supremes) in a small bowl with the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar. Let sit until the juices have pooled around the strawberries.

To serve, slice the cake and serve with a spoonful of strawberries and their juices over the top of the cake.