Recipe: Light and Bright Coleslaw

I am pro-cabbage.  Among other reasons (it’s nutritious, it’s versatile, it’s tasty), I’m a fan because of how cost-effective it is as a cooking ingredient.  Cabbage is generally inexpensive to buy to begin with, but then you get it home, cut into it and I swear it multiplies.  I mean, am I the only one to cut off a wedge, slice it up, only to shortly thereafter find that I have cups full of shredded cabbage in front of me, plus half the head still hanging out, untouched, on my counter??  That stuff just grows as you use it.  I think it could possibly be magic.

coleslaw half bowl close up - edited

Clearly, I’m always amazed at how much use I can get out of a single head of cabbage and my inner grocery budget-monitor always does a little dance of joy.

Such was the case when I put together this coleslaw.

Coleslaw plated next to beans - edited

Coleslaw is not something that I normally gravitate towards.  First of all: creamy coleslaws?  Boo.  Not for me.  If I’m going to make one, it’s going to be a slaw dressed with a lighter vinaigrette, for sure.  Even then, I usually would rather have a bowl of leafy greens.  But with a partial head of cabbage languishing in my refrigerator and my baked beans in need of a side dish, I decided to take coleslaw making into my own hands and put together a fresh recipe that would be exactly what I wanted it to be – light, fresh, and brightly flavored with a little jalapeño-kick.

It turned out to be a successful venture as a table full of coleslaw naysayers ate it with surprised satisfaction.


Light and Bright Coleslaw

A Move Eat Create Original Recipe     coleslaw in large bowl - edited

Serves 4 as a side dish 



  • 4 cups of shredded green cabbage
  • 1 large yellow bell pepper, cut into thin strips, about 2 inches long
  • 1 jalapeño, seeds left in (or removed if you’re sensitive to heat), cut into thin half moons
  • ¼ cup minced red onion
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tblspn apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tblspn mildly flavored oil
  • 2 tlbspns chopped cilantro
  • 2 tspns agave nectar
  • ½ tspn ground cumin
  • ½ tspn dried oregano
  • ½ tspn kosher salt
  • 1/8 tspn black pepper


  1. Combine the cabbage, bell pepper, jalapeño, and onion in a large bowl.  Set aside.
  2. Combine all other ingredients and mix well to combine.  Pour dressing over vegetables and toss well to coat.
  3. Let sit in your refrigerator for at least one hour in order to allow the flavors to come together.  Taste and adjust for seasoning before serving.

No Grill? No Problem! : Roasted Corn and Yellow Pepper Relish

Let’s say that you’re a food-loving gal who enjoys cooking and serving up tasty food.

Let’s also say that you live in an apartment without the space or ability to have a proper grill of any sort.

Does this mean that you are not able to enjoy the delightful and delicious flavors of veggies cooked to a slightly blackened perfection?

complete relish

No.  No, it does not.

It absolutely does not, Mr. Cashier at a local store who, while attempting to make casual conversation during the scanning of my items falsely assumed I would be throwing my ears of corn on a grill and then failed to contain his disgust and disappointment when I explained that the only thing I would be firing up was my broiler.


Moving on.

roasted on cobs

Look, I know some people get really excited about summer grilling, but the reality is you, too, can enjoy similar flavors and goodness from the confines of your own indoor kitchen if outdoor grilling isn’t possible.  Don’t let grilling purists get you down.

There are, of course, stove top grill pans (cast iron is heavenly for this), but, my go-to device in these situations is my broiler.  The broiler can be a wonderful tool for charring, blackening, and crisping all manner of food.  I put my broiler to good use to whip up a simple, but very flavorful yellow vegetable relish.  This relish can be served as a side dish as is, on top of a taco salad (this was my modus operandi on this particular occasion), scooped up with tortilla chips, or I imagine it would even be good as a quesadilla filling or veggie dog topper.

So many darn possibilities.

with recipe book

However you eat it, you should know the flavors are fresh, bright, and scream of summer.  If you eat it as a side, you could also add in some chopped fresh tomatoes for an extra burst of flavor.


Roasted Corn & Yellow Pepper Relish

My Own Recipe

Serves 4


  • 1 tblspn Earth Balance (or preferred butter or margarine), at room temperature
  • 1 tblspn fresh cilantro, minced
  • 4 ears of corn
  • 1 large yellow bell pepper
  • 1 jalapeno, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3 stalks green onion, chopped
  • Juice from ½ a lime
  • Salt & pepper to taste


  1. To make the cilantro butter, combine the minced cilantro with the room temperature Earth Balance in a small bowl.  Use the back of a spoon to mix and press the cilantro into the Earth Balance, until combined well.  Set aside.
  2. Prepare your ears of corn by schucking and rinsing them.  Pat dry.  Then coat each ear with the cilantro butter.  Use a butter knife to spread the cilantro butter over all the ears, covering as thoroughly as you can.
  3. Slice the yellow pepper in two, lengthwise and remove the stem and membranes.
  4. Place cilantro-buttered corn and both halves of yellow pepper, skin side up, on a baking sheet.  With your broiler on high, place vegetables in the oven, about 2-3 inches from the heating element.  Broil for approximately 15 minutes, turning the ears of corn every 4-5 minutes so that each side gets time directly under the broiler.  Do not turn the pepper halves.
  5. Remove corn from oven and set aside to cool.  Remove pepper from oven and place it in a bowl.  Cover snugly with a tea towel and let it sit to steam for 10 minutes.
  6. Once cook enough to handle, cut the corn kernels from the cobs and place in a large bowl.  Then, remove your peppers from their bowl and peel off the skins.  (They should have steamed up loosely and peel off.  Sometimes running them under cool water can help remove the skins, as well.)
  7. When the skins are removed, chop the peppers and add to the bowl with the corn.
  8. Add your remaining ingredients: the diced jalapeno, garlic, green onions, lime juice, and salt and pepper.  Toss well to combine.  The relish tastes great at room temperature or can be warmed or cooled, depending on your final use of it.  I ate it all three ways!

Foodie Firsts: Edible Flowers

wooden spoons-001Foodie Firsts is a Move Eat Create weekly feature focusing on my adventures in the world of food.  Over the course of a few short years, I have transformed from a picky, fearful eater to a curious and open-minded foodie.  In a commitment to continue to expand my culinary experiences, I have started Foodie Firsts.  Each week I will commit to trying something new and sharing that experience with you.  My endeavors may include experimenting with cooking techniques I’ve never tried before, testing a single new ingredient, or drawing upon my creativity to combine foods in ways I never imagined.  Whatever it is, I will eat (or maybe drink) it and share it all with you.  You can decide for yourself whether you, too, would like to try.  Let’s be bold and eat good food!


You know how people say not to play with your food?

I don’t get that.

Why not?  Why not play with your food??

Salad Close Up - Edited

From my perspective, food is an ideal opportunity to have fun, to play, to experiment and to be adventurous.  I sometimes think that one of the reasons I didn’t enjoy cooking or appreciate good, real food for so long is because I didn’t see the fun in it.  It felt so serious.  Essentially, there were a few, rigid categories of food in my world.  They looked something like this:

  1. Food I ate at home daily – Due to my family dynamics and lifestyle this was most often fast food, microwaveable meals, or things easily heated up in a microwave or the stovetop.  This food was eaten quickly, for survival mostly, with little joy or variety.  Perfect examples are McDonald’s, pizza, spaghetti-o’s, meat and cheese sandwiches, Kraft macaroni and cheese, Top Ramen, and TV dinners.  (Yes, this was how I ate once upon a time!)
  2. Food I ate in my car – Once I started driving, I ate a lot of food in my car.  Taco Bell was a stalwart of this routine, as was Wendy’s, grocery store doughnuts, and Diet Pepsi.  There was no fun in this.  No play.  This was totally rushed and utilitarian.
  3. Food I ate on special occasions – This was the closest I came to fun, I guess, though it was still a stretch to call it that.  A dinner out at an actual restaurant was occasionally on the schedule.  As far as home cooked meals, though, they were few and far between.  Once in a while, on a holiday for instance, there would be a meal of standards.  A meat.  A potato.  A canned vegetable.  Store bought rolls.  Nothing unexpected.

As you can surmise, my relationship with food was mostly functional.  Eating was just something I had to do to get through all the other stuff I was doing and cooking was a chore best avoided.

Cocktail Collage

So, back to today’s point – fun, playful food.

The revelation that food could be fun was one that came slowly, incrementally, over time.  I noticed other people in my life who enjoyed cooking, baking, and eating in a way I hadn’t ever really considered as an option before.  I also credit part of this revelation to cooking shows.  Watching shows like Top Chef, Iron Chef (the original Japanese version is stellar), Barefoot Contessa, Two Fat Ladies, and so on, was an enlightening process.  Here were people who were supposed to take food seriously, right?  They were, after all, earning their living producing perfect dishes, executed with precision and meticulous detail, but threaded throughout all of it was a sense of fun.  A sense of play.

They totally played with their food!

Food was tossed into the air!  Set on fire!!  Sprinkled, frosted, crumbled.  Food was piled high, spread low and thin, and layered up for inches.  Food was frozen, whipped, baked, grilled, and decorated.  There was so much action.  There was laughter.  There was joy and pleasure.  There were moans when bites were taken, chuckles when something was unconventional, and friendly stories shared of mistakes and mishaps.

It was kind of cool and I wanted to try it.

cake 3 - edited

So, I started playing with my food, too.  True, I did so in less flamboyant ways, but I sprinkled spices and tossed things around.  I tried my hand at shaking my wok around so veggies flipped up over the edge and back into the pan.  I tried different methods of cutting things.  Julienning was fun.  My mandoline provided a thrill.  I started to use garnishes and I considered how I put things on a plate.

I played like a kid in a sandbox.  I still do and it’s changed my whole relationship to food.  All of this rambling brings me to today’s ingredient – edible flowers.  Edible flowers, like the ones I used, have no taste, really, but they are great for playing around with.  Without adding much flavor or texture to a dish, they exist primarily for making food playful, fun, and visually interesting.  They had been on my mind since seeing them stocked next to the fresh herbs in my market.  This was the week I gave them a try.

First of all, I was totally surprised at how many of them were crammed into my little clamshell container that I carried them home in.  I expected to have to use them sparingly, but once I opened them up and started pulling them out I say that there were loads of them, leaving me ample opportunity to try them in different ways.

I started by eating one straight out of the container, of course.  Even though I knew it wouldn’t really taste like much, I wanted to experience one in its pure state.  It was chewy and felt a bit tissue-like in my mouth.  Not unpleasant, but just pretty indistinct.

Then, I got to playing.

Ice cubes in glass 3 - edited final

I decided to use the flowers for fun, frivolity, and flourish in various ways.  I wanted to start by including them in my evening meal.  I had already planned on making a Mexican dish that night, so I decided to serve a side salad featuring the flowers alongside it.  Made simply of thinly sliced radishes, summer squash, and green onions, and dressed with a cilantro vinaigrette, the salad was a perfect foundation for my flowers.  As a garnish, the flowers added spunk to a simple plate.

Next came the cocktails.  Edible flowers and cocktails?  What about that isn’t fun??  This one was simple, mixing up a couple of drinks (gin, of course) and finished them off with a flower floater on top.  Beautiful.  Elegant.  Sophisticated play.  It may sound silly, but that cocktail seemed to taste a little better that night.  It also felt good held in my hand with such a distinct visual touch playing with my eyes.

As ice was being used for mixing drinks, I decided to use some of my flowers in ice cubes, reserving them for future playful food nights!  I made a tray of ice cube with flowers frozen within them.  I absolutely believe they will be a perfect way to add a bit of joy into a tired or dark day that may come down the road.  Tossing one of those into a drink of any kind, even a simple glass of water (my most common beverage of choice) will make for a lovely experience.

Finally, I made cake.  Specifically, I made my hummingbird cake.  I love this cake.  I LOVE this cake.  It tastes absolutely wonderful, but isn’t necessarily much to look at it on its own.  But, this is where I had the most fun.  Picking petals apart, I had a blast sprinkling them across the top of my finished, iced cake.  The result was wonderful.  It turned my cake into a centerpiece.  Something as beautiful to look at as it was to eat and I it made me smile to look at.

Food that can make you smile before you even eat it is a truly great thing.

Notes & Final Thoughts cake close up 2

Serving Suggestions:  See above.  I highly recommend all of the uses I described here.  I’ve also heard of using edible flowers in DIY flavored salts.  What a great gift that would make!

Lessons Learned: There is a place for serious food and a place for utilitarian food, but there is also a place (a very important one) for fun, playful food.  Life is full of utility and seriousness, and, frankly, I think most of us could use a bit more joy.  Play in your kitchen.  Splurge a bit on something that will be fun and bring you excitement in the kitchen or at the table.  It’s worth it. 


Foodie Firsts: Kumquats!

wooden spoons-001

Foodie Firsts is a Move Eat Create weekly feature focusing on my adventures in the world of food.  Over the course of a few short years, I have transformed from a picky, fearful eater to a curious and open-minded foodie.  In a commitment to continue to expand my culinary experiences, I have started Foodie Firsts.  Each week I will commit to trying something new and sharing that experience with you.  My endeavors may include experimenting with cooking techniques I’ve never tried before, testing a single new ingredient, or drawing upon my creativity to combine foods in ways I never imagined.  Whatever it is, I will eat (or maybe drink) it and share it all with you.  You can decide for yourself whether you, too, would like to try!  Let’s be bold and eat good food!



If you’re in a space where you’re able, I encourage you to say this word aloud.  It’s a word that feels a little odd to say and hear.  A peculiar word, it is, with sharp sounds that force you to enunciate.

I would venture to say that the experience of saying and hearing kumquat is similar to what it is like to eat one.  Sharp.  Deliberate.  Peculiar.  Maybe even a tad exotic.

in bowl 2 - edited

I have, of course, known of the existence of kumquats for a lifetime.  I’d heard of them without ever really knowing what they were.  They seemed so unusual and foreign – not something I would happen across on an average day.  I knew that they were a type of citrus, but I had never really considered what they would taste like.  I knew they were quite small, but never stopped to ponder how to eat them properly.  They were totally and completely mysterious to me.

Until last week.

Last week, I was wondering through the produce aisle at New Seasons Market (my favorite of all markets), looking at the abundance of various citrus that flooded the bins.  There were navel oranges, blood oranges, sumo oranges, tangerines, tangelos, grapefruits (white and red), lemons, Meyer lemons, limes . . . you see where I’m going with this.  The final stages of winter were producing a citrus bounty that was quite stunning, actually.  Nestled among the cases of plump navels and grapefruits was a slim, almost unnoticeable bin of kumquats.


slices with knife - edited

Here was the perplexing little fruit that I knew next to nothing about, but I decided to scoop some up.  Taking home a handful, I put them on my counter and sort of stared.  I wasn’t quite sure what to do with them.  I needed to do some research, but was impatient and wanted to just try one right away.  So I did.

Now, please don’t laugh at what I’m about to tell you.

Okay, laugh if you must, but just don’t tell me that you did.

Alright, so I took a kumquat – barely the size of my thumb – and set out to peel it.  This was my instinct.  You eat citrus after it’s been peeled, right?  I tore into it and ripped off the outer flesh, tossing it into the bin.  Left with what was truly a miniscule bit of fruit, I bit in.  It was tart.  REALLY TART.  Not bad.  But more tart than seemed reasonable to eat on it’s own.

I closed the bag, left them on my counter, and decided I needed to seek out answers on how to eat these tiny fruits from the those in the know – random people on the Internet.

The problem was I got busy and it took me a few days to get around to it.  When I finally did consult the all-knowing Internet, I had waited too long.  Once of the first things I learned was that kumquats don’t last long at room temperature and can turn rancid and moldy.  The second thing I learned about kumquats was that you don’t peel them.  You eat them whole – skin and all.



in bowl on window sill 2 - edited

That makes so much sense, because let me tell you, peeling a kumquat is not an easy thing to do well.

Plus, the skin actually is crucial to the taste experience.  As it turns out, the inside of the kumquat is very tart (as I had experienced), but the peel of a kumquat is very sweet.  When you bite into one whole, you get both together, creating an entirely different (and more balanced) foodie experience.


Well, I felt a little silly learning this, thinking how I had torn apart my first one, but I was determined to try again.  Back to New Seasons I went, where I purchased a new batch of kumquats.  This time they went into my refrigerator for preserving freshness.  All except for one, that is.  That one I promptly washed and ate, standing right over my kitchen sink, skin and all.

Wow.  What a different experience.  There was tart again, sure, but this time there was so much more than that.  It went something like this.  When I first bit in, I was hit with the tartness of the body of the fruit, but then, after just a moment, as I ate it, the sweetness from the skin is released and they come together to provide a complex, layered flavor that was unlike any other citrus I’ve ever tasted.  It was exotic.  It was peculiar.  It was delightful.

I ate a couple more this way, reveling in this whole new flavor experience.  I had also noticed online, though, that a common use for them is in salad.  Well, I’m a girl who loves her greens and I eat 1-2 salads a day.  Perfect.  When dinnertime rolled around, I decided to slice a couple up and add them to my salad.  Combined with a combination of power greens (romaine lettuce, kale, baby chard, and baby spinach), cucumber, tomatoes, and raw red onion, they made a beautiful looking salad bowl.  Then, after drizzling with white wine vinegar and sprinkling with salt, pepper, and sunflower seeds, I dug in.  They were a WONDERFUL addition to my standard salad.  They added a refreshing brightness and zing that was absolutely delicious.

Salad - edited

Final Thoughts:  Kumquats are a fantastic find.  I’m utterly astounded that something so compact can pack in so much exciting flavor.  I’m definitely glad I gave these little fruits a try (despite my initial misunderstanding about how to eat them!).

Serving Suggestions:  Try them raw, as I did, to just get to know them a bit.  Certainly, slice them up and add them to a salad – you won’t even need much dressing with their added flavor.

I haven’t tried this yet, but I’ve also seen them used in cocktails.  I kind of like the idea of a little muddled kumquat with some dry gin, a dash of bitters, and maybe even a splash of grenadine – served with a slice of kumquat on the rim or floating on top for visual appeal.  Sounds like a good happy hour to me.

Lessons Learned:  Do my research.  I can laugh at myself for the ridiculousness that was me trying to peel that tiny little thing, but I could have saved myself some time, trouble, and a whole batch of spoiled kumquats if I had done my research first.  Let’s hope I can remember this in the future.

Recipe: My ‘Go-To’ Fattoush (Middle Eastern Salad)

In general, I mix it up in the kitchen quite a bit.  There are some recipes that get repeated and general concepts that get made time and time again with variations of spices and herbs, but mostly I do like to try new recipes often.  Some nights, though, when my brain is tired and my sense of culinary adventure is faint, I just need a recipe that I can count on.  On those nights I need a recipe that I know how to make without much thought, that flows from me with ease and that I have no doubt will be tasty and satisfying.

This is one of those recipes.  It’s my ‘go-to’ fattoush.  Fattoush is a Middle Eastern bread salad that is as versatile as it is delicious.  The recipe below is my own at this point.  It’s a recipe that originated somewhere, though I don’t recall where, and has undergone tweaks and alterations until it has become the recipe that I love.  My knowledge of traditional Middle Eastern food is not so vast that I can claim to know whether this version of the recipe is very authentic or not, but I can vouch for the fact that is an enticing mix of fresh ingredients that come together to create a wonderful dish.

As I mentioned above, another great thing about this dish is that it is incredibly versatile.  I have served it as a main course and as a side dish.  Straight from a bowl or stuffed into a pita.  Drizzled with garlic sauce or on top of hummus.  Topped with falafel or chicken-less strips (I especially like the ones made by both Trader Joe’s and Quorn).  Whether you decide to eat it simple and straightforward or you try mixing it up a bit, I hope you’ll give this a try if you like Middle-Eastern flavors.  It’s been a no-fail dinner in my household many times over.


Shannon’s ‘Go-To’ Fattoush

Serves 4-6


  • 1 English cucumber, seeded and chopped
  • 1-2 pita bread(s)
  • 2 large hearts of romaine lettuce leaves, shredded
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 3 large tomatoes, chopped into chunks
  • 1/4 cup Italian parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 cup mint leaves, chopped
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tblspns sumac powder
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tspn salt
  • 1/4 tspn black pepper


  1. Tear or cut pita bread into bite-sized pieces and bake in a 350 degree oven for 7 minutes.  When done, set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, layer the lettuce, onions, cucumber, and tomatoes.  Sprinkle the toasted pita pieces on top.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the parsley, mint, garlic, sumac, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.  Stir or whisk vigorously.
  4. When ready to serve, pour the dressing over the vegetables and pita and toss well to coat.

** Sometimes an extra squeeze of lemon is nice, so a few lemon wedges for serving may be a nice addition.

Fruit, Vegetables, Flowers, Oh My!

Yesterday I went to one of my absolute most favorite places in the world.  I am not exaggerating.  Every time I go to the farmer’s market at Portland State University, I am newly delighted at the sights, smells, and sounds there.  I love food.  Particularly, I love fresh, local food from Oregon growers that show up to share their crops with the rest of us.  One of my favorite things is to watch and anticipate the changes throughout the market season as the crops shift and turn over.  Early in the season (as it was today) the market was overflowing with huge heads of lettuce and bunches of kale, bright bundles of asparagus and juicy, ripe strawberries.  I know that as the season progresses, I’ll find blueberries, melons, peppers, and other favorites.  It’s a bit of a culinary adventure to see what the market will have on any given Saturday and how I can put my finds to use.


One of the things I love about this particular market is that in addition to the produce, there are local craftspeople selling products they have made and packaged for quick eating.  There’s pickled vegetables.  Jams, lemon curd, and preserves.  Kimchi.  Soup.  Pastries and breads galore.  Hard cider and wine.  Hummus.  Salsa.  Pesto.  And, so on!  Of course there are also samples of all these things to taste and try as you stroll through the stalls.  There are also food carts and booths set up, ready to make you breakfast or lunch – though I never try them at the market.  I prefer to get a big, hot cup of black coffee and wonder around, tasting samples as I go.

For those of you who haven’t been, this market is large.  And, it’s a great place for people watching.  Musicians are inevitably set up to give you something to tap your foot to and on a warm, dry day there are plenty of places to lounge in the grass or on a bench.  To me, this market encompasses so much of what I love about the city.  It’s focus on supporting local business owners, appreciation for good food and drink, a place to spend time outside (surrounded by the lovely PSU campus) and a general laid-back, friendly, jovial spirit.


Given that it encompasses all of the major themes of this blog, I thought it would make a great topic for my first official post.

Delicious food, a little bit of (relaxed) exercise, and so much inspiration for creativity – not a bad way to spend my Saturday morning .

Oh!  In case you were wondering, I used market greens and radishes to whip up this salad from Martha Rose Shulman.  If you haven’t tried any of Shulman’s recipes, by the way, I highly recommend that you do.  She has yet to steer me wrong. This salad is so simple, so fresh, and was absolutely delicious.  I served mine as a first-course to Stacked Roasted Vegetable Enchiladas and freshly made guacamole.

Romaine and Radish Salad with Buttermilk Lemon Dressing

From the Recipes for Health NYT Column – Martha Rose Shulman


For the salad:

2 hearts of romaine

1 cup thinly sliced radishes (if you have one, a mandolin slices these beautifully)

1 to 2 tablespoons chopped chives, or a mixture of chives and tarragon (I used about 2 tablespoons of only chives)

For the buttermilk dressing:

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 small garlic clove, puréed (I minced mine)

Salt to taste

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

5 tablespoons buttermilk***

Freshly ground pepper


1. Combine the romaine, radishes and herbs in a large salad bowl.

2. Whisk together the lemon juice, garlic, salt, olive oil and buttermilk. Just before serving, toss with the salad mix. Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste, toss again, and serve.

*** I made my own buttermilk by combining 5 tablespoons of 1% milk with 1 teaspoon of white vinegar.  Let sit for 5 minutes, stir.  Lemon juice can also be used in place of the vinegar.

This made just over ½ cup of dressing.  I had a bit left over that I didn’t need on the salad and am saving for another night!