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Archive for July, 2012|Monthly archive page

Say “Cheese”

In Beans, CSA, Italian, Pasta, Pizza, Quick Meal, Soup, Vegan, Vegetables on July 31, 2012 at 5:06 pm

I really love me some cheese, as do most people in the civilized world.  Whether it’s the mozzarella of Italy, the queso fresco of Mexico, brie of France, or paneer of India, many cultures showcase their love for cheese throughout their cuisine.  As an Italian-via-osmosis, I tend to gravitate more towards mozzarella, ricotta, parmesan, and pecorino for cooked dishes.  However, I enjoy all cheese in any form (except American cheese), and it was the hardest food to give up when I adapted a vegan diet.  Now that I have reintroduced dairy to my daily consumption, cheese is back in rotation!  I even ordered some through my CSA for the first time, and I’m super excited to try it this coming Saturday.  I try to limit the fattier varieties, opting for low fat cheddar or airy goat cheese.  However, a glass of wine or two will tend to loosen my rule’s grip.

Speaking of CSA, I’ll be gone for most of August and September’s distributions, so I swapped one August pickup with somebody’s alternating pickup this past Saturday.  One of the many reasons I was crazily using up all the lingering fruits from the prior week.  My swapee also had a flower/egg share, so I lucked out with some purty flowers this week.

There were tons of veggies:

  • 2 zucchini
  • 2 cucumbers
  • 1 bunch chard
  • 1 bulb fennel with frands
  • 1 stalk dill
  • 1 root basil/leaves
  • 2 ears sweet corn
  • 1 onion
  • 1 bunch beets
  • 1 bunch carrots (4 large)

Fruit included:

  • 1 pint blueberries (looks like those are almost over for the season:()
  • 2 lbs donut peaches (about 14)
  • Yellow melon (I think it’s Thai or Japanese – similar taste to honeydew)

I washed and put everything away rather quickly, so I didn’t take too many photos.

Red chard.

Yellow melon on top, beets in large container, chopped fennel in the small container, carrots/zucchini/cucumber in a ziplock.

I was really excited to get theses carrots because they had their greens attached.  I washed the greens, set to dry in a towel, and completely forgot about them as I went about my busy day!  I had a wedding that night, so I spent the day beautifying myself in preparation, followed by more liquid than solid food.  There was some cheese though :).

I think only 2 drinks in at this point.

Speaking of cheese, let’s get back to the subject at hand.  After a night of drinking, I crave cheesy carbs and gatorade.  The latter I consumed after running 6 miles in the morning.  I resisted a cheesy egg sandwich post-run and went with fruit, egg white/spinach/mushroom/onion omelet and whole wheat toast.  I slept off the rest of the hangover, but still had a hankering for some pizza or mac n cheese.  Instead of ordering overly cheesy mac, practically negating my run from earlier, I made a quick healthy(ish) version of baked macaroni and cheese.  It also allowed me to use up all the extra zucchini I liberated from last week’s distribution leftovers.  I would have made more, but then I could have possibly eaten more.

Spicy Baked Zucchini Mac

Serves 2-4

6 oz whole wheat elbow macaroni
1/2 cup reserved pasta water
3 cups chopped zucchini
1/4 cup green onions, sliced thin
5 sundried tomatoes, diced
Onion powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and red chili flake to taste
1/4 cup grated parmesan
2 egg whites
Nonstick Spray
3 oz fresh mozzarella
10 basil leaves

I cooked the pasta 1 minute shy of al dente while I chopped zucchini and preheated the oven to 375º.

When the pasta was done, I added the 1/2 cup pasta water to a large bowl, and combined all the other ingredients except mozzarella and basil.  I sprayed a square nonstick baking pan with nonstick EVOO spray and emptied out the mac mixture.

Then I topped the pasta with the mozzarella and basil, covering with tin foil to bake for 20 minutes covered.  Then I raised the temp to 425 to cook uncovered for 10 minutes.

Before.

After.

I behaved and only had 1/4 of the tray.

It really helped satiate my craving for mac n cheese, and all without the regret and lbs I’d gain from ordering out.

Cheese doesn’t have to be the enemy.  It can also be an ally to veggies trying to win the war against diseases and free radicals.  All of the vitamins and minerals in vegetables provide you with the equipment to live a long and healthy life.  Take dark leafy greens for example.  Vitamins A, K, and C are abundant in greens, as well as calcium and iron.  However, not everyone LOVES the taste of greens.  Of all varieties, Nick can most tolerate Swiss chard, just as long as it’s properly prepared (preferably with tons of oil, garlic, and salt).  To avoid using a lot of oil and salt, I decided to use cheese to mask -I mean flavor – the chard from this week’s share.  I also had some leftover whole wheat pizza dough in the freezer, so I experimented and made some chard calzone.  Mmmmmmmm.

Swiss Chard Calzone

Makes 4

1 bunch Swiss chard (I used red)
3-4 cloves garlic
Nonstick EVOO Spray (or 1-2 tsp of regular EVOO)
8 oz whole wheat pizza dough (half lb)
3/4 cup part-skim ricotta
water for sealing
1 egg beaten

I preheated the oven to 425 and got to work.  Luckily I had pre-chopped the chard, so it was rather quick to cook.  I just tossed in some garlic and sauteed with some EVOO spray in a nonstick pan.

At the same time, I divided the dough into 4 equal(ish) parts, and rolled one part into as much of a circle as I could.  BTW, I suck as that.

Then I layered a quarter of the chard with 3 tbsp ricotta.  I forgot to salt both, but you should do that.

After wetting my fingers to surround the edge near the mixture, I folded over the other half of the dough and folded the bottom over the top.  Not sure if that makes sense, but this is how it looks.

I sprayed my pizza stone with some EVOO spray, arranged the calzones as I prepared them, and brushed on some egg wash.

15 minutes and 3 rotations later, they were done.

Normally, calzones are served with a side of marinara sauce.  In an attempt to use up even more zucchini, I made vegetable soup that was mostly zucchini based.  In Italy, vegetable soup usually has zucchini, carrot, onion, potato, and tomato.  Mine had all of that, but used canned crushed tomatoes instead of fresh.   I didn’t use broth, just water.  Lots of water.  And lots of salt and pepper.

I also added some chickpeas.

3-4 hours later, the soup is perfect.

Fresh basil for good measure.

Paired with the calzone, it was perfect.

Soup. Calzone. Can you say dunking contest?

Seriously, could you imagine eating that many veggies and it tasting so delicious?  This dream can become a reality for you, too.  Just make sure to have some cheese on hand.

A Meal’s a Meal, but That’s Just Fruit

In Beans, Fruit, Mexican, Salad, Vegetables, Vegetarian on July 31, 2012 at 3:12 pm

A few months ago, I went early to the express DMV to officially change my last name from maiden to married.  I had packed my lunch and afternoon snack to take along with me so I could go straight to work as soon as I was done.  On my way to the office, a delirious “homeless” man gave a spiel I could barely comprehend, although I did catch something about “cancer” in there.  At the end, he of course asked for money, but also mentioned food.  I never give money to people on the subway (did you know that some panhandler in Houston claimed to make $60k from begging?), but if somebody were to ask for food I would jump at the opportunity.  When that rare instance occurs, I never seem to have even a stick of gum with me.  This time, I was so excited to offer him my afternoon snack of an orange and raw almonds.  I would have given my actual lunch, but I’m sure it was some Tupperware filled with beans and rice and veggies.  When I offered the food to him, he said some more delirious nonsense, something about a fleece being $3, and I said “I don’t have a fleece, you asked for food.”  And you know what happened?  He all of the sudden started speaking “clearly” and said to me “A meal’s a meal, but that’s just fruit.”  Then he walked away from me.  I was shocked.  My $7/lb raw organic almonds weren’t worth his time; I guess only crack, booze, and McDonald’s met his requirements.  I had approached my stop to transfer, still shaking my head at my fellow straphangers, and I shouted “beggars can’t be choosers, ever hear that expression?”

I was infuriated for the rest of the day, which really was a waste of my energy.  What did I expect?  It makes me so sad that this idiot has to ruin charity for all those legitimately hungry people who would be grateful for any morsel of food.  Those thoughts usually run through my mind any time I throw away any scraps, which is why I try to use everything I buy.  Last week, I received lots of fruit from the CSA distribution, and it was more than I was used to using at once.  Fruit tends to ripen quickly and should be used within a couple of days – whether you eat it raw, dabble in some canning, or freeze for smoothies/baking.  Although I had frozen about half of the peaches and plums, I couldn’t manage to finish the remains at a steady pace.  Once Thursday arrived, I still had 3 peaches and about 15 sugar plums left.  Since Nick won’t touch either of those, it was all up to me to consume.  Luckily, he went to the movies with a friend on Thursday, so I had the opportunity to use the peaches for dinner.  I usually don’t like to eat fruit so late in the day, but since I had procrastinated my workout til almost 9(!), it was the perfect exception.

The workout I made up. I think I’m sick of all my usual DVDs (hence the procrastination), so this was a nice change.

I still had the head of cabbage left from Saturday, and some of the green onions, so I thought a slaw would be perfect!  The recipe is really simple, and could use any stone fruit or apples/pears you have on hand.

Peach Lime Coleslaw

Makes about 8 cups

1 small head cabbage, shredded
3 scallions, sliced thin
1 bell pepper, small dice
3 peaches, small dice
Juice of 3 limes
2 tbsp agave nectar
Salt to taste

I used my food processor to shred the cabbage, but you could use a box grater if you don’t have a processor.  You could also go the easy route and buy pre-shredded coleslaw mix :).

I combined all the ingredients except the lime juice and agave in a large bowl; I mixed the lime/agave in a small bowl just to make sure it was even.  Then I poured the juice over the veggies/fruit, mixed to combine, and let it sit in the fridge while I worked out.  I served the slaw with some black beans, cholula, and goat cheese, which was really yummy!  You could also add some brown rice, or stuff a tortilla with the slaw/beans/cheese to make a burrito.

Now onto the plums.  I really wanted to experiment with fruit drying.  Buying dried fruit is usually fine, but most of the time it’s full of sulfur and/or sugar.  We had added a dehydrator to our wedding registry, and luckily somebody had bought it for us.  Unfortunately, Nick decided to christen it first with beef jerky (boo).

After washing the trays several times since, I finally tested the fruit drying capabilities with the leftover sugar plums.

Following the direction booklet, I washed, halved, and pitted the fruit.

I set the dehydrated to the recommended 135º and waited almost 20 hours until the fruit was dried out.  I was slightly shocked at both the temperature and the time.  First of all, how do all these raw foodists dry their produce below 118º if the manufacture suggests 135?  Secondly, 20 hours seems like a really long time for drying – did I do something wrong?  Anyway, this is the end result:

The dried version tastes slightly more tart and less sweet than the fresh fruit.  It also had a slightly oniony-garlicky hint to it, which I think means the trays or bottom tray weren’t really cleaned thorough from jerked meat (which is super gross).  Next time, I think I will try the below-118º raw rule, as well as super disinfect the machine.  Not wanting to waste this experiment, I think I will use them as treats for my dog.  I could also carry them in my purse as an offering to any other “homeless” hungry beggars.  Who knows, maybe somebody else would consider this fruit a meal?

An Ode to Candle 79

In American, Beans, Indian, Moroccan, Rice, Vegan, Vegetables on July 25, 2012 at 12:03 pm

To some people, the word “vegan” conjures up feelings of hate, resentment, or misunderstanding.  Or as friends have said to me “being vegan is just weird.”  And you know what?  I was probably guilty of harboring those sentiments myself before adapting a vegan diet 2ish years ago.  I don’t remember exactly how I stumbled upon it, but back in September of 2010 I came across some of Alicia Silverstone’s recipes from her book The Kind Diet.  Peaking my interest, I checked the book out of the library, and read it cover-to-cover in one day.  Not sequentially, mind you; the pictures and recipes were scanned first.  However, reading all the information about health, environment, animal humanity, and overall well-being that can be attained through a plant-based diet, I just decided to go cold turkey.  Mid-day, Tuesday, October 5th (isn’t it weird that I remember that?).  At the time, I was still dating Nick, and he had been away on a business trip back when he was traveling a lot as a consultant.  I remember being so afraid to tell him my decision, and approached him like I was about to tell him I’m dying of some incurable disease.  To my surprise, he didn’t make fun of me or tell me I was crazy (although I’m sure he thought it).  He was happy to support me in every way, as long as he could still eat his meat and cheese.

Within days, I felt great!  I had tons of energy, no stomach issues, and kept my weight pretty low – eating mostly carbs mind you! (Spoiler alert – none of this is true anymore, as I developed soy intolerance and had to reintroduce dairy back into my life).  I was following a lot of the recipes in The Kind Diet, as well as checking out some other vegan cook books from the library.  However, as even the most seasoned chef knows, cooking every meal for yourself is hard.  And exhausting.  And sometimes boring.  Eating out is challenging enough if you have any dietary restrictions, but I swear if you say to a server “I’m vegan” there will probably be twice as much butter on your sandwich.  On the flip side, I would search high and low for vegan restaurants that had something for my meat-eating husband to enjoy, and he found himself eating the only non-seitan or tofu dish available.  He’d go because he loves me, but he never truly enjoyed it (the same way I’ll go to a steak house to please him and be left to eat mushrooms and steamed broccoli).  But I think I’ve finally find the one:  Candle 79.  I went there with a friend, and I ordered the Moroccan Spiced Chickpea Cake.  As soon as I tasted it, I said, “OMG, Nick would love this.”

My friend had ordered some special with seitan in it, which I would try a different time.

There was even chocolate molten cake.  Our favorite.

Those all look like dishes you could order at any gourmet restaurant.  I have yet to bring Nick there, as it’s all the way on the Upper East side, and he generally doesn’t go above 14th street.  In order to convince him, I decided to try and recreate the chickpea cake.  My brother-in-law got me the Candle 79 Cookbook for xmas this past year, and I finally put it to good use last night!  I’m not sure if the recipe in the book is 100% like the one used in the restaurant, but it was pretty darn close!  That orange sauce is an apricot chutney.  I’m not sure what the green sauce is, but the recipe in the book called for a roasted red pepper curry.  I didn’t have red peppers on hand, so I decided to adapt a recipe from The Kind Diet called Eggplant Chana Masala.  Basically, just like chana masala, but with eggplant in it (duh).  My version deconstructs the masala by placing the Candle Cake on the eggplant.

Some of the ingredients and both cook books.

Moroccan Spiced Chickpea Cake

Adapted from Candle 79 Cookbook

1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped celery
1 tsp EVOO
1 3/4 cups cooked chickpeas (about 1 can)
1/4 cup reserved chickpea liquid, or vegetable broth
2 tbsp flour (I used chickpea flour)
1 tbsp Old Bay seasoning
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
Nonstick olive oil spray

Apricot Chutney

Adapted from Candle 79 Cookbook

1/4 cup chopped onion
1 tsp EVOO
1.5 cups fresh apricots, chopped (about 4)
1 tsp garam masala
2 tsp agave nectar
1/4 cup water

Eggplant Masala

Adapted from The Kind Diet

2 cups chopped onion
3 cloves garlic
2 tsp EVOO
1 tbsp each cumin, curry powder, garam masala, and amchor powder (or lemon juice)
1 small eggplant (about 1.5 lbs), chopped into 1/4″ cubes
1 28-oz can tomatoes
1/2 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
Salt to taste

I didn’t cook these components in the order listed;  I started with chutney, then eggplant, and then cakes.  The chutney was really simple!  I sauteed the onion for a few minutes, and then added the apricots and garam masala (the recipe calls for fresh ginger, which I didn’t have).

Another minute later, I added everything else to simmer while everything else cooked.  In the end, it turned into this amazing jam-like syrup.

Next was the eggplant.  I like eggplant really well done, hence the tiny chop.  I sauteed the onion (both white and the green ones from my share) with all the spices.  I had actually only started with about 1 tsp each (as the recipe said), but it needed more flavor as I kept adding the other ingredients.  The onions took about 5 minutes

I added the eggplant, sauteing another 5 or so minutes until it was more tender and I could scrape off most of the brown bits.

I then added the tomatoes, broth, and salt.  After reaching a boil, I covered the pot and lowered to medium heat.  The dish needed about 40 minutes to reach the consistency I liked.

While the chutney and masala simmered, I worked on the cakes.  The recipe starts with dry peas, but you could use canned peas if you like.  I had planned on cooking a bunch of chickpeas anyway, so I had started that pot before the chutney.  I used about 1 3/4 cups worth for the patties.  I also sauteed the onion and celery for 5 minutes with a tsp of EVOO. I blended the peas in the food processor, and then combined the veggies, peas, and the rest of the ingredients in a bowl.

Using a spoon, I mixed everything up to create the batter.

I divided the batter into 4 patties, and sauteed in a nonstick pan with EVOO spray for 4 minutes each side.  I probably could have used the several tbsps of oil the recipe called for, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it.

My spatula was running through the dishwasher, so the patties kind of fell apart while flipping.

I served Nick his chickpea cake over the eggplant and some brown rice.

Mine was sans rice.

Even with my adaptations, I thought the cake was spot on.  Nick really liked the cake and chutney, but wasn’t a huge fan of the eggplant.  Next time I’ll try to make that red pepper sauce.  Or I could make a reservation at Candle 79.

How to Tickle Your Pickle, and Some Single-Entendre Ideas

In American, CSA, Meat and Pultry, Quick Meal, Rice, Salad, Vegetables, Vegetarian on July 24, 2012 at 2:25 pm

Pickling is all the rage in the CSA lovers’ world (as you can see from this link party).  Two weeks ago, I got some kohlrabi in my share, so I opted to try my first pickling experiment.  Here’s the before.

And here’s the after.  Pinkish water.  Garlicky goodness.  Perfect to perk up a sandwich or pair with something more rich, say a bacon cheeseburger.

Speaking of burgers, I did a good job last week keeping Nick away from meat to make up for all the grilling last weekend.  Lots of salads, beans, and chicken breast.  One night, I went out to dinner with a friend visiting from out of town, so I left him to his own devices.  What did he make: TJs shepherd’s pie.  He brought up how he missed the days when I’d made my mom’s recipe, and it sort of broke my heart.  I know he likes all the foods I make, but he truly enjoys meat and more indulgent recipes.  Last night, I surprised him with some ground sirloin and decided to make him some burgers (the rest of the meat will be saved for the shepherd’s pie).  Luckily, I had lots of fresh veggies from Saturday to balance the meat out.

I decided to make two “salads” – grilled corn and heirloom tomato, and dill cucumber salad.  Only this time, I had extra cucumbers to make the latter.  I figured some for tonight, the rest will “pickle” and be enjoyed throughout the week.  I used a lot of vinegar this time (about 2 cups), and doubled all the other ingredients.  They marinated for 2 hrs or so before dinner.

Since this was the first distribution with corn, I was careful to inspect each cob before I dropped it in my bag.  The reason being worms.  Last year, I would get so many worms in the corn, which is symptomatic of organic corn.  The farmer explained the only way to minimize worms is to drop oil into each one, which would take him 3 staff members 2 full days.  Needless to say, this practice is not utilized.  Anyway, when I do get to enjoy sweet corn, I generally eat it raw.  It is so crunchy, sweet, and fresh.  Other times, I grill the corn (although usually these recipes are developed from leftover grilled corn) and combine it with cilantro, lime, black beans, tomato, and avocado.  This time, I put together a version I saw on “The Biggest Loser”.  That show is definitely another one of my guilty pleasures.  One particular episode, Bob (one of the trainers) invited his team to his house, announcing he is Vegan and had some foods for them to try.  He posted the recipe on his blog:

http://www.mytrainerbob.com/blog/the-rest-of-the-vegan-recipes-from-this-weeks-biggest-loser

I saw some beautiful small heirloom tomatoes at the health food store, so I figured they were perfect for this recipe.

Here’s my version:

Grilled Corn and Heirloom Tomato SaladAdapted from Brooke Larson

3 ears sweet corn, grilled
1 pint heirloom tomatoes (or 2-3 medium sized ones)
2 tsp EVOO
1 tbsp aged balsamic
1 tsp fennel seeds
1/4 tsp salt
5-10 fresh basil leaves

I don’t have access to my grill this summer, due to construction on the roof forcing all items inside.  Thus, I “grilled” this corn directly on my stove top range.

I don’t like them too well done, just with a little bit of blackenedness.

When they’re cool enough to handle, I slice off the kernels, and reserve them in a bowl to be mixed with the tomatoes.

I saw a really efficient way to slice cherry/grape tomatoes on Rachael Ray.  You use two circular lids from pint containers, wedge the fruit in between, and then slice your knife through.  It worked really well.

After slicing.

I let the tomatoes chill in the fridge with the corn, oil, salt, and fennel.  I topped the salad with the balsamic and basil when it was time to serve.  Nick had his ground sirloin burger on a potato bun with wild mushroom brie, tomato, and red onion.  Corn salad and tons of cucumbers on the side.

I was lazy for myself, so I took the easy road and made a Dr. Praeger’s Bombay style veggie burger with some lowfat cheese “protein style”, a.k.a. wrapped in lettuce.

I generally prefer to make my own veggies burgers, but sometimes you gotta take the easy way out.  These patties are pretty tasty and you can see the veggies chunks in there.  I am not really a fan of the other varieties, especially after having stayed at a Fire Island house last summer where the “house mother” was the Doctor’s real life daughter.  The freezer was stuffed to the brim with boxed veggie creations.  I’d add more about that, but you know that saying “if you don’t have anything nice to say…”

Nick and I both really enjoyed our dinner.  I had leftovers for lunch today with some brown rice, beets, and some lentils.

Rice/lentils buried under cukes.

Nick went back for thirds of the pickled cucumbers after eating 2 burgers; he wasn’t as big of a fan of the corn, preferring the Mexican version more.  But when you’re in a pickle, you do what you gotta do.

Why I’m the Worst Photographer. Ever.

In American, Beans, Bread, Breakfast, Brunch, Chinese, CSA, Dessert, Fish, Greek, Italian, Meat and Pultry, Oats, Pasta, Quick Meal, Rice, Salad, Shopping, Vegetables, Vegetarian on July 24, 2012 at 12:34 pm

I’m a pretty awful photographer, both in skill and frequency.  Until I started this blog, my camera was used maybe 1-2 times a year on a vacation or for a grandparent’s birthday.  Even when I do take some photos of my food, I never edit them, nor organize them, because I just get too frustrated trying to learn the programs on my Mac Book.  I just don’t have it in me to constantly snap photos, which is really such a shame.    There have been plenty of missed opportunities to capture both amazing and ordinary moments in my life.  I’m not talking about kissy faces, popping bottles, or a circle of friends’ shoes.  Just the simple pleasures, like walking around my neighborhood or documenting my restaurant experiences.  A whole fun-filled weekend will pass, and I’ll have nothing to show for it.  That’s how I feel about this past weekend.  A picture is worth a thousand words, so looks like I have a lot of writing ahead of me….

Filling in the gaps with some CSA goodies.

Saturday was CSA distribution.  It was also my volunteer week.  There are two options: man the stand from 9-12ish during distribution, or drive the leftovers to a local church.  Since I have a car, this was definitely the better option.  I had planned on getting there at 10 to pick up my share to bring home, clean up, etc. before the drive.  However, my morning run took longer than anticipated.  Turns out, I didn’t have enough time, so I quickly made an oatmeal pancake when I got home, showered, and shoved my produce in the fridge.

As somewhat of a reward for volunteering, you can take a few extra items.  I grabbed some extra zucchini, cucumbers, and berries.  The original share included:

  • 1 head lettuce
  • 1 head cabbage
  • 1 bunch beets
  • 1 bunch green onions
  • 2 huge stalks dill
  • 2 cucumbers
  • 5 small or 1 large zucchini
  • 3 sweet corn
  • 2 pints blueberries
  • 1 quart sugar plums
  • 12 peaches

This is the first time all season I felt a real value in the fruit share.  Don’t get me wrong, I love 3 pints of blueberries, but it’s nice to have some variety.    Since I had a fun filled weekend, I neglected my “put everything right away” rule and got around to cleaning up on Monday.

From left: Lettuce packed and washed, beets and greens separated, fruit in a bowl to ripen, cucumbers sliced and “pickling”, zucchini and cucumber cleaned, onions sliced, leftover dill cleaned

I froze most of the blueberries for smoothies, and half the peaches and plums as well.

But this was on Monday.  All weekend I had so much fun, mostly with my husband.  It was nice to have a summer weekend without appointments, social obligations, trips, or chores.  Like I said, reflecting back in my head I wish I had more photos to show you.  Perhaps I can borrow some from restaurant and shopping sites to give you a better picture.   Pun intended.

Friday

A newish restaurant opened in Park Slope near my office.  I’ve passed by it a couple of times on the rare occasions I take the subway to/from work and never thought anything of it.  Whenever I’d catch a glimpse of food, it was usually noodles or dumplings, so I just assumed it was East Asian, although the name was Talde.  Turns out, it was opened by former Top Cheftestant Dale Talde and is super popular.  I mentioned the place to my husband and in-laws, and we decided to get there at 5 on Friday to give it a try.  We sat at the bar for a few minutes to have a drink; I shared an Obama Punch with my F-I-L, and it was super yummy.  Then 15 minutes later we sat to eat.  The vacancy gap between 5:15 and 5:30 PM is non-existent.

Photo of Hawaiian Bread Buns from http://taldebrooklyn.com/food-photos/

I had heard a lot about the Hawaiian bread buns, so I got an order of the market veggie version (it was marinated shitaki mushroom).  It was so flavorful, even my meat-eating companions loved it.  They shared a wonton soup.  For my main, I got some chilled soba noodles and a side of green beans.  Both really full of umami.  Everyone else got the fried chicken, ribs, and shrimp fried rice to share.

For dessert, we shared Halo Halo, which was a mixture of ice, bubble tea, fruit, coconut milk, and captain crunch.  It was good, but I think I prefer chocolate cake more :).

Overall, I really great dining experience.  It was a nice change from our typical repertoire of Mexican, Italian, or bar appetizers.

Saturday

When my husband suggests a day of shopping, I never turn it down.  Hence my household negligence this Saturday.  After dropping off the veggies to charity, I went with Nick to get bagels for lunch, and then we were off to SoHo.  Nick’s initial goal was to get some new casual sneakers.  What he ended up getting was 3 pairs of work pants, 2 pairs of jeans, and a partridge in a pear tree.  I got 2 new dresses to wear for weddings and special occasions, one of which is for an upcoming event this Saturday.  It is super bodycon and has cutouts, so I haven’t eaten since Sunday.  Just kidding.

The next thing we knew, it was 7:30 and we were starving.  I mentioned another restaurant I’d been meaning to try in Chinatown called The Fat Radish, and figured it may be plausable to get a seat on a Summer Saturday.  Luckily, we were able to sit at the bar, which was actually kind of nice and intimate.  I say that because the seating there is comprised of a few long communal tables, whereas the bar has 6 seats.  Also, our bartender made awesome drinks and was really friendly.  I got seared tuna and the fat radish plate, which is basically a bed of rice topped with whatever veggies are at the markets that week and prepared in super flavorful ways.  Way up my alley.  Nick got crab gratin and the burger with truffle duck fat fries.  Way up his alley.

The mirror “board” where specials and fat radish plate are listed. From their site: http://snapwidget.com/view/?id=220874731547124849_54018704#.UA7Ga6Ahgeo

From there, we walked over to Little Italy to get some gelato from this placed called La Cremeria.  It’s the closest, most authentic Italian style gelato I’ve had this side of the Atlantic.  Mind you, I live in a heavily Italian neighborhood.  I got pistacchio and delirium, which was butter cookie flavor with chocolate chunks.  Nick got his usual combo of cioccolato and nocciola (chocolate and hazelnut).  And then we waddled to the subway to head home.

Sunday

I rose bright and early to bike over to TriBeCa to support a newly certified yoga teacher married to a childhood friend of Nick.  It was an intimate class, and I felt great all day after.  I only had 2 anxiety attacks on the bike ride back over the Brooklyn Bridge.  Next time, I’ll go out of my way to take the Manhattan Bridge.  When I got back, I showered and got all purty looking to get brunch.  I went with Nick to one of our usual spots, Prime Meats.  This is comical for 2 reasons: 1) a vegetarian loving brunch at a place with “meats” in the title, and 2) it is owned by the same people as Frankies 457, a restaurant I despise.  I know I digress, but I will take this one small opportunity to vent.  I don’t know why Frankies gets so much hype.  There is always a wait, and the food is AWFUL.  All these Manhattanites swear by it, saying how it’s better than all the other authentic Italian joints in the hood.  BS.  And the people who work there are so rude and elitist.  Now, I generally have a 3-strikes-you’re-out rule with restaurants; Frankies definitely struck out looking.  Backwards K style.  The pasta and gnocchi are watery with little bits of low-flavor sauce, the drinks are overpriced and weak, and the waitstaff refuses to acknowledge any complaints.  It’s really such a shame, because they’d be getting a lot more of my business.

Anyway, back to Prime Meats.  When they first opened, I was skeptical about going, primarily because of my Frankies experiences.  I was also slightly turned off by the forced dress code of suspenders and mandatory mustachery for all male staff.  However, their brunch is excellent.  They make excellent coffee, never burn their eggs, and their bread products are to die for (that’s coming from someone who usually has oats for breakfast).  They used to be a little bit more flexible with their menu, but the chef has made some stricter rules for substitutions.  You’d think that would keep me away, but I’ve found my new love:  Their avocado sandwich.  Multigrain bread with avocado, lettuce, sprouts, shallots, and spicy mayo.  They will happily keep the mayo on the side for me, and I can also add an egg to the sandwich.  Perfect.  And again, another example of the missing shutterbug gene.

The rest of the day, we just relaxed.  I took a nap and watched Game Change on cable.  Nick got busy cleaning up his mancave.  Then I made a simple dinner of dill pasta salad and a garden salad with lettuce, tomato, cucumber, pepper, avocado, and chickpeas.  A simple end to a wonderfully eventful weekend.

Super long post.  Next time, I’ll save a few thousand words by using my camera.

Oat Say-What-A?

In American, Breakfast, Fruit, Oats, Saving Money, Vegetables, Vegetarian on July 23, 2012 at 6:37 pm

I have oats for breakfast at least 5 times a week (hopefully 7 if I’m a good girl).  Whether it’s a quick bowl of rolled oats, muesli with yogurt, or the slow cooked steel cut variety, my days always go way better when I start off with these grains.  Paired with some eggs [whites] or milk, the complex carb/protein combo keeps me fullest the longest without feeling sickly stuffed or greasy (as I would with an egg/cheese sammie or breakfast burrito).  When I’m in a real pinch for time, I’ll blend some oats with egg whites, Greek yogurt, vanilla, and cinnamon, and make some pancakes.  However, I ideally like to eat the grain as minimally processed as possible.  Hence, the oat frittata.

That’s right, a frittata.  You know, the omelet’s fancy cousin.  I first saw this idea on a daytime talk show, and I’ve been hooked since.  The basic recipe is 1/2 cup oats, 2-4 egg whites, 1/2 cup berries.  This is exactly what I had been eating, only it required one pan and 1 plate.  Genius.

Berry Oat Frittata

Serves 1

1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats (not instant)
3 egg whites
2 tbsp unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup blueberries OR 1 cup strawberries, OR  half and half

I use a nonstick pan and nonstick canola oil spray, but you could use a griddle if you have one.  I combine all the ingredients in a bowl just to mix everything together, and then pour everything into the pan on medium high heat.

I cover the pan with a lid so that the steam can cook through the mixture.  After about 2 minutes, I flip it over to cook on the other side.

Just another minute, and this baby is done.  How simple is that?  It’s also extremely nutritious, and a great way to introduce oats into your diet if you fear the usual goopy suspect served to you as a child.  If you can tolerate more sugar in the morning, top with some maple syrup or jam, but you don’t really need it.  If I’m really craving a little extra kick, I spread a teaspoon of raw almond butter on top.  Yum.  But the fun doesn’t end there.

Did you know oats can be prepared and enjoyed with savory flavors instead of sweet?  Take the basic oat frittata recipe I just explained for example.  Egg frittatas are generally filled with veggies, cheeses, and savory meats, so why not translate those flavors to the oat version?

Cumin Spiced Kale, Zucchini, and Oat Frittata

Serves 1

2-3 kale leaves, finely chopped
1/2 cup zucchini, chopped
2 tbsp red onion, finely chopped
Non-stick olive oil spray
1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats
3 egg whites
2 tbsp 1% milk
Cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper to taste

First, chop up all those veggies so you can begin to sauté them with the nonstick spray.

While they sauté, combine all the other ingredients in a bowl.

After the veggies have cooked for about 2 minutes, top them off with a couple more sprays and then the egg/oat mixture.

The rest of the process is the same as the berry version.  I actually made this for lunch last week and topped it with salsa.  It was super good.

You could add any fillings you like really!  Let’s say you want an Italian version – tomato, basil, and fresh mozzarella would be perfect!  Go Greek with Feta, dill, and sun dried tomato.  Or make it American with bacon and American cheese[like product].  Any way you serve it, you’re doing your body and heart good by increasing your oat consumption.  Who knows, the cholesterol lowering properties may even wipe out all that extra bacon and cheese.

Why are Men Obsessed with Grilling?

In American, Beans, Flexitarian, Italian, Lentils, Meat and Pultry, Pasta, Quinoa, Salad, Shopping, Vegetables on July 17, 2012 at 1:19 pm

Now that it’s summer time, the cavemen in all our guys materialize with slabs of flesh over charcoal or propane powered grills.  I really don’t understand this obsession with fire cooked meat, but it probably stems from our evolution from hunter-gatherer.  This past weekend, I took a lovely  beach trip to Fire Island with my husband and another couple.  In preparation of the trip, we went through a shopping list of what we’d bring with us to the beach cottage.  Let’s just say in this group, I’d definitely be the gatherer.  Their list included steak, chicken, sausage, burgers, etc.  Mine included pepper, zucchini, broccoli, and other veggies, as well as fruit, cheese, eggs, and milk.  I created a “menu plan” of some sort to figure out what to make as the veggie side to the meat at every meal.  This is really important, because having to drag extra weight through the dunes to our rental was not an option.  I don’t have many photos, because I tried to avoid my phone and purse as much as possible.  Here’s a recap:

Friday Dinner:

Burgers (I had a veggie burger)
Grilled veggies – zucchini, eggplant, pepper, mushroom.  I used some of the leftovers for an omelet the next day.

Saturday Lunch:

Sausage (I had chickpeas with feta and quinoa)
Israeli Salad – cucumber, tomato, pepper, red onion, lemon juice.  I actually got a picture of that…

I love Israeli salad in the summer!  It’s mostly water, so it’s super refreshing and hydrating on a hot summer day.

Saturday Dinner:

Steak (I had a homemade black bean patty)
Broccoli and green beans in garlic, oil, and red pepper flakes.  We actually made them on the grill in a vegetable basket, and they came out really well!

We ended up going out for lunch on Sunday, so I had some lettuce and peppers left over to take home. Otherwise, we pretty much used up everything (except the family pack of 6 lbs of chicken).  On Monday, I definitely wanted to make something non-grilled at home for dinner, so I used the leftover peppers to make a roasted pasta sauce.  The peppers were on sale at Fairway – 3 1-lb bags for 5 dollars!  Pretty good deal.

Roasted Pepper and Garlic Sauce

3 colored bell peppers
1 head garlic
1 tsp EVOO
1 28 oz can San Marzano tomatoes
Crushed red pepper, oregano, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and black pepper to taste (I used a lot of red and black pepper)

I learned how to make this from watching my dad as a youngin.  I’ve made my own personal touches, but it’s pretty simple.  I turned the broiler on and lined a baking sheet with foil.  I placed the peppers directly under the fire.  I also sliced off the top of a head of garlic, dabbed a bit of oil, and covered it in foil to roast with the peppers.

Every 5-8 minutes, I rotated the peppers to evenly char them.

After removing from the oven, I placed the peppers on a cutting board to cool, and returned the garlic to continue roasting while I removed some of the pepper skins.  You don’t have to remove everything, just anything that is super black.

Then, I sliced the peppers in half and used a towel to remove the seeds.  Then I chopped them up.  So pretty and colorful!

I removed the garlic from the oven to cool.  Roasting garlic turns it sweet and soft.  Really delicious all on its own.

I opened up a can of San Marzano tomatoes.  The D.O.P. kind are the best for a sauce.

In a large pot, I emptied the can of tomatoes, and started to break them up with a wooden spoon.

You can make it as chunky or thin as you’d like.  I like a little bit of chunk.

Then I added the peppers and began to squeeze out the cloves of garlic.  It was still hot, so quite difficult.

Once all the garlic was added, I mixed in the spices.  I like it spicy, so I probably used 1-2 tsp of red pepper flakes.

I lowered the pot to simmer, and prepared some chicken for Nick.  I used the same spices as the sauce, but added some tomato paste and EVOO to create a rub.

I sauteed the chicken in a non-stick pan for about 7 minutes each side, then deglazed with some marsala wine.  At the same time, I was boiling pasta water and simmering lentils.  What a busy kitchen.

I was making pink lentils for myself, to serve as a base for the sauce.  I didn’t want to eat the pasta (or at least not too much of it), so I figured mashed lentils was kind of like having polenta.  Nick had his pasta (whole wheat elbow macarani) with sauce, grated truffle pecorino cheese, and his chicken on the side.


I had my bed of lentils, a couple of elbows, and tons of sauce with a sprinkle of cheese.  Mixed together, it reminded me a lot of polenta.

With that, I am left with 2 hearts of romaine, and 6 apricots from the beach shopping trip.  Looks like it’s time for me to go gather again.

Don’t Throw That Out!

In Beans, CSA, Flexitarian, Japanese, Meat and Pultry, Mexican, Rice, Saving Money, Soup, Vegan, Vegetables on July 17, 2012 at 12:08 pm

I hate to waste, especially with food.  Maybe it’s from years of hearing my Great-Depression era grandmother say “eat everything on your plate.”  Or perhaps it’s from watching the starving children in those commercials you can feed for 25 cents a day.  Along with  several other motivators,  I strive to use every inch of food I buy.  I’m not perfect, but I’ve definitely found some ways to get creative.  Especially with my CSA produce.  I was able to stretch out the “scraps” from three items this past week and turn them into delicious meals!  This includes pods from peas, stems from broccoli, and greens from beets.  Let’s take a look.

I got about a quart worth of peas in a pod last week.  One doesn’t normally find these too often.  Usually people use frozen or canned peas, but the fresh kind are the best!  You can eat them raw as a snack or in a salad.  After I spent a good 15 or so minutes shelling the peas, I reserved the pods to potentially use in a stir fry (like I would use snow peas).  When the day came that I planed to make said stir fry, I found out Nick had Thai food for lunch, so I wanted to make something completely different.  That’s how this recipe was invented.  It still has an East Asian flair, but it’s a soup instead of a stir fry.

Ginger Lime Pea Pod Soup

Makes about 8 cups (4-6 servings)

1 quart peas in pod, shelled and separated
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 medium or 1/2 large onion, chopped (reserve some for garnish)
2 tbsp minced ginger
2 tsp EVOO
3 cups low sodium vegetable broth
3 cups water
1 tbsp chickpea miso paste (or miso of your choice)
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 cup cooked chickpeas
1 lime, zest and fruit

I had shelled the peas in advance, so I was able to start chopping the pods right away.  I also chopped the celery, onion, and ginger.

In a large pot, I added the EVOO and chopped veggies, allowing them to saute for 3 or 4 minutes just to get a little bit of the raw bite out of them.

I added the broth and water, and brought to a boil.  Then I added the chickpeas.  I combined 2 tbsp of the hot broth with the miso paste so that I could easily incorporate the latter.  I also added the sea salt.

I lowered the soup to medium-low to simmer for 20 minutes.  Then I added the zest of the lime to the pot.  Then I peeled the skin so I could use the fruit.  I know that sounds weird, but trust me you get a lot of flavor that way.  Plus, you don’t have to juice several limes, which helps to stretch out what you have some more!

I added those wedges to the pot.

After cooking another 2 minutes, I turned off the heat so I could use my immersion blender.  Once everything was smooth and incorporated, I added the fresh peas to gently cook for 5 minutes.

Then it was time to serve!

The soup had a really nice bite to it!  Tart from the lime, spicy from the ginger, and crunchy from the peas.  It was great both hot and chilled.  I even added a dollop of soft goat cheese to it later on, which was an amazing addition.

Now let’s move on to the other ingredients I mentioned:  Broccoli stems and beet greens.  I’ve used the stems before in slaw, and the greens for a salad.  Both occurrences were raw, which render a truer taste and texture.  Nick isn’t a fan of certain tastes and textures.  This is when I have to get really creative (i.e. sneaky).  The best trick I’ve learned is to chop any less-desired veggies into tiny pieces and mix them with other veggies.  That way it’s really hard to pick out the ones you don’t like, and you end up eating everything.  Case in point, enchiladas.  I had leftover pumpkin seed mole sauce, so this was a perfect way to use up the leftovers.  You can refer back to the original enchilada post for details, but here are the ingredients I used:

Veggies:

1 cup zucchini
1 yellow pepper
1 small green pepper
1/2 large onion
Stems of 2 bunches broccoli, cut into match sticks
1/2 bunch beet greens (about 3 cups chopped)

Seasoning:

I didn’t measure them out, but I’d guess about 1/2 tsp of each (except Cayenne).

Cumin
Ancho chili powder
Oregano
Onion powder
Garlic powder
Coriander
Cayenne
Salt
Pepper

I sauteed all the veggies (except greens) for 5 minutes, and then added all the spices.  Then I folded in the greens.

I added about 1/2 a cup of vegetable broth to deglaze.  I used a similar method with chicken breast (to add to Nick’s enchiladas).

I rolled up the enchiladas, topped with mole and low fat cheddar, and baked for 20 minutes at 350.  I served the enchiladas with some black beans and leftover brown rice.  I try to make a bunch of rice at a time, and then stretch it out by reheating with some broth.  You can do the same with leftover rice from Chinese take-out.  Money and time saver!

I just had the veggies and beans with some mole sauce and a sprinkle of cheese.  Without the cheese, this is a really good vegan dish!  Look at how the stems from the beet greens turned the veggies a lovely ruby hue.

Not only was I able to use all the veggie scraps, I was also able to use up all the mole, rice, and a lot of the tortillas I had on hand.  Next time you think of throwing out any of those, don’t.  Make one of these recipes instead!

When the CSA Just ISN’T Enough…

In Challenge, CSA, Italian, Pizza, Quick Meal, Salad, Shopping, Vegetables, Vegetarian on July 10, 2012 at 2:39 pm

Nick and I have mixed feelings about our CSA membership.  I am more than satisfied with the variety and quality, whereas he is only happy if every item matches his most-liked-veggie list.  Unfortunately, that only happens once or twice a season.  I try my best to reserve unwanted items for my lunches and smoothies, but sometimes it’s extremely frustrating trying to distribute the items throughout the week and make it work for the both of us.  Also, sometimes I get sick of eating leafy greens 3 times a day and only getting to enjoy half a zucchini with dinner.

This past Saturday, the CSA haul was rather large.

  • 1 yellow and 1 green zucchini
  • 1 head lettuce (I chose red romaine)
  • 1/4 lb mesclun greens
  • 2 heads broccoli
  • 3 cucumbers
  • 1 onion with greens
  • 1 bunch beets and greens
  • 1 bulb kohlrabi
  • 1 quart fresh peas in pods
  • 3 pints blueberries (again, very happy!)

Basically, Nick will eat all of that, minus any root’s greens.  He will try kohlrabi, but not his fave.  He also only likes blueberries in muffins or pancakes; that means he doesn’t get any.

Romaine is Nick’s favorite type of lettuce, so I made sure to make a salad as soon as I got home!  Romaine and cucumber from this week, beets and red onion from last week, plus some olives, chickpeas, and balsamic vinegar.

I thought I was doing a solid by choosing romaine over green leafy.  Boy was I wrong.  Red romaine is bitter.  I can tolerate bitter; Nick will not.  He also admitted that he is deathly afraid of beets now because of beeturia.  This caused a huge fight.  The resolution: Nick will shut up and eat what I feed him; I will stop being cheap and spend an extra 50 bucks a month to buy romaine, tomato, cucumber, avocado, and colored peppers if they are not in our share.  The next day, I went to the Carroll Gardens farmer’s market and got some lettuce, green pepper, and eggplant.  I also purchased the previously mentioned must-have items at the grocery store, plus made a TJ’s trip.

Monday rolled around, and I thought about all this excess produce in my fridge.  I’ve been force-feeding myself salads to make sure the lettuce doesn’t go bad, and adding all sorts of beet and broccoli greens to smoothies.  I also had some radish left from last week, and kohlrabi this week, so I needed to figure out a way to use them before expiring.  I’ve seen that a lot of people pickle these sort of vegetables, so I opted to do the same.  I found a recipe from Bon Appétit, and used that as my base.

Pickled Radish and Kohlrabi

Adapted from Bon Appétit

4 radishes, quartered
1 bulb kohlrabi, peeled and cut into strips
10 cloves garlic, sliced
1 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
1.5 cups white wine vinegar
1/2 cup champagne vinegar (because I only had 1.5 cups of the white kind left)
1 tsp course sea salt
1 tsp agave nectar

I didn’t have a quart size jar, but I did have 2 pint sized ones.  I cut everything up, and added it to a resealable container to get everything mixed.

Then I divided it between the two jars.

These won’t be ready for 3 days, but will let you know how they are!  The water is already starting to turn pink…:)

Now that all that is out of the way, on to some more positivity.  Pizza Positivity.

Seriously, who doesn’t love pizza?  Even Celiacs love it!  That’s why they make all those G-free crusts.  It’s really easy to get carried away when you order from the local pizzeria – tons of cheese, added oil, sauteed veggies and meats.  Plus, if you order a thicker slice like Sicilian, you are eating tons of extra dough.  When I really want to treat my hubby well, I make pizza at home.  I’ve made a pseudo version using pita bread, but using real dough is the best.  This time I used TJ’s whole wheat dough, just like the one I used for Thanksgiving Pizza, only a little more traditional.  In Italy, there are pretty standard and simple pizzas with few toppings.  Pizza Vegetariana is like a regular margarita pizza, but with thinly sliced zucchini, eggplant, pepper, and tomato.  Sometimes there is added onion, but not usually.  I never saw one made with whole wheat dough, but there were some places that made pastas with whole grains (Integrale).  Here’s a fusion of the two styles.

Pizza Vegetariana Integrale (Whole Wheat Vegetarian Pizza)

Makes 1 thin traditional sized Italian pizza (serves 2)

8 oz (half lb) whole wheat pizza dough
1/2 cup good marinara sauce
4 oz fresh mozzarella cheese
2 tbsp grated parmesan
1/2 cup each of zucchini, eggplant, pepper, tomato, and onion; thinly sliced

I preheated the oven to 425º, and kept my pizza stone in there to warm up.  During that time, I sliced up all the veggies.  Since I was already slicing, I chopped double the amount; I used the chunks to saute and added balsamic vinegar to create a side dish for during the week.

Thinly sliced items on the right reserved for pizza.

I started to roll out the dough on my floured counter.  When I tried to transfer it to the pizza stone, it started to pull apart and crisp on the bottom.  This was not what I expected.  I had to let the stone cool down, and then re-roll the dough directly onto the stone.  It finally worked, and then I put on some sauce.

Then I arranged the cheeses and spread out the veggies.

The dough package directions suggested 6-8 minutes; it really took double that, and included a rotation halfway through.

While the pizza baked, I assembled a salad of romaine, tomato, cucumber, pepper, avocado, olives, and lemon juice.

Normally, Indy would be under my feet during preparing.  However, he was sufficiently comfortable on the couch watching at eye-level.

We ate salad while the pizza cooled.  Then I sliced it up into eighths.  It was very thin.

Nick’s first batch – 2 slices (which is really like 1 slice).

I had 1 slice (so half a thin slice) with some of the balsamic veggie ragu.

Very, very tasty.  Roughly 125 calories for that lil slice, so don’t feel bad about going for seconds.

The only item from the CSA was the zucchini, and the rest were a combo of farmer’s market and grocery store.  I know it’s important to use what I have, and to eat locally, etc.  However, having a happy hubby is sometimes more important.

Give Beets a Chance

In Challenge, Rice, Salad, Saving Money, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian on July 6, 2012 at 3:56 pm

I think beets are one of the most underrated vegetables.  That’s probably because people are reminded of the Del Monte canned variety, and shudder at its preservedness.  However, beets can not only be delicious, but also super good for you.  There’s a reason juice bars include beets as a main base in most juices.  Beets have an incredible detoxifying affect on both your liver and urinary tract.  But enough hippy hullabaloo, let’s move on to delishifying these babies.

There are many ways to prepare beats, but most people are familiar with the roasted version.  The flavor is sweet and concentrated this way, which pairs perfectly with goat cheese, nuts, and fruit in a salad.

Another common method is boiling.  I’ve never tried that myself, but if I were to make some borscht I’d certainly have to.

Perusing through other food blogs, I came across a post of mixed root vegetable chips that included beets.  I can’t seem to locate it now, but I thought that was an excellent beet preparation method!  Hey, they sell Kale chips for 8 bux a pop and I can make those at home, why not create my own beet chips?  I tried some out this week, and I think they came out pretty tasty (0r at least the ones that didn’t burn).

I think I need to invest in a mandolin to perfect these chips.  Here’s what I did….

Baked Curry Beet Chip

1 bunch red beets (about 5-6)
1 tbsp EVOO
1/2 tsp yellow curry powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp sea salt

I had to do this in batches.  My first batch I tried at 350º.  I sliced up the roots as uniformly as I could, but to no avail.  I added them to a resealable bag with the oil, and shook them up til all the chips were coated.  Then I lined a roasting tray with the chips.

I baked them for about 30 minutes until most of them were crispy.  While they baked I mixed the curry powder with the other spices.

This was the first batch outcome.

The more orangy colored ones are crispier.

I sprinkled them right away with the seasoning.

Then I transferred the chips to a paper towel lined plate to cool off.  Let’s say I ate only half of them.

Hard to tell, but that was one of the winners!

Some of the pieces were crispy; others were soft.  I decided to raise the temp to 400º and set my timer for 20 minutes.  At that point, they looked almost ready.  Five minutes later, they were burnt to a crisp.  No photo because I am so embarrassed :(.

The ones that were crispy and not burned were really tasty!  I great alternative to potato chips.

Surprisingly, my new favorite way to enjoy beets is raw in a slaw!  I’ve made one before, and I am constantly experimenting with new recipes.  On July 4th, I used half a bunch of raw beets, some broccoli stems, and red onion for a slaw.

I had a little bit of dill mayo left from making potato salad, so I added that plus some extra mustard and vinegar.  I served the slaw with some grilled zucchini blossoms, and copped out with a veggie burger and salad.

Raw zucchini blossoms cut in half lengthwise.

Grilled to perfection!

Slaw, grilled veggies, can’t go wrong.

I love using the left over slaw for breakfast!  I know that sounds weird, but it’s nice to have on the side with an omelet.  Plus, you get in an extra serving of veggies early in the AM.  Woot woot!

I’ve also mentioned before that beet leaves are edible.  Don’t throw them away!  I eat them raw in salad, but you can easily saute them with garlic and olive oil.

Beet greens with French radish, red onion, avocado, and orange. Paired with cheesy brown rice and leftover grilled squash blossoms.

Any of these ideas peak your interest?  I certainly hope so!  If not, I’ve seen baking with beets (think red velvet cupcakes).  Now that’s one I’ve never tried, but who am I to keep someone from enjoying beets anyway seen fit?