laurenlikestocook

Archive for the ‘CSA’ Category

Mopping up Foods on a Snowy Evening

In Beans, CSA, Soup, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian on January 29, 2015 at 5:03 pm

While writing about food is one of my passions, I haven’t always excelled in the literary arts.  I knew my multiplication tables at the age of 5, but reading comprehension, creative writing, and book reports turned me into a deer-in-headlights.  Even in college, I had to drop my extra minor the last semester of senior year because of one writing-intensive poetry class (which was also offered at a lower level with a smaller workload).  Had I kept registered in the upper level version of the class (which I needed for the minor), my grade would have prevented me from graduating summa cum laude.  Ain’t nobody got time for that!  This class was like no other class I’d ever taken.  Millions of ways to interpret and dissect sentences, lines, capitalization, you name it.  Perhaps because I was a business major, that’s how I saw poetry: examining the situation, finding the formula, and deriving a solution.  This approach was far different from the roots of my poetic knowledge, which all started in the sixth grade.

With the exception of “Roses are Red…”, the first poem I learned to memorize was “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost.  My sixth grade teacher made each of us in the class stand up at the front of the room and recite the poem.  Til this day, almost 20 years later, I still remember every line (with the exception of one that I JUST looked up a few minutes ago).  Each time I recall the lines in my mind, I get a sudden twinge of emotions: a mixture of nostalgia, sadness, and happiness.  At the time, I had a very shallow understanding of Mr. Frost’s work.  However, as I’ve grown older – and as my college poetry professor had taught me – there are layers upon layers of meaning one can peel away from this story.  I won’t delve too much into this piece, because that’s not really the point of this post.  For me, this poem symbolizes my journey in life, which is why I have such a great connection to it.  Going through the motions of the day-to-day, even when I think there really isn’t time to stop, sometimes it’s those precise pauses that invigorate me to continue.  And this week was no exception.

After returning from a wonderful week-long vacation in Cancun, I was back to my ever-growing to-do lists.  However, unlike a “typical” week, I had the added bonus of fever/congestion for Rocco, which quickly infected me.  Not only was I dealing with the shock of after-vacation bliss and all of the unpacking/laundry that accompanies the return home, I was taking care of a whiny, inconsolable toddler while feeling weak and miserable.  Oh, and an impending snow storm to boot.  I did what I had to do to prepare – stocked the kitchen, did the laundry, etc. and napped when I could.  Even though the naps took away from doing more work, I had to take care of myself.  Then came Wednesday.

On Wednesday, I kind of felt like that man with the little horse.  I was still congested, but feeling well enough to not allow myself to stop.  In the early afternoon, I was mostly caught up, so I got a jump start on dinner.  While I really didn’t want to cook, I didn’t have much of a choice.  After being inside for almost 3 days, it was one of those clean out the fridge kind of endeavors.  I was really in the mood for some soup, so I decided to try roasting whatever veggies I had, then finishing them off in the Vitamix for a few minutes with some broth. It came out much better than I anticipated.  Plus, the time it took to prepare the veggies allowed me the opportunity to quietly reflect on my progress in the smaller and larger scheme of the day/week/month/year/life.  That may sound a little far fetched, but it truly was how I felt at the time.  I think it’s just what soup does to me.

I’m sure you could swap in/out for whatever you have, but I’d recommend trying this anytime you want a bowl of existentialism.

Roasted Root Vegetable “Refrigerator” Soup

Makes 8 cups (4-6 Servings)

Appx. 6-7 cups chopped root veggies.  I used:
1.5 large carrots
2 small parsnips
3 small turnips
1 small daikon
3 medium red potatoes
2 celery centers
1 medium Kohlrabi
4 whole cloves garlic
3-4 tbsp EVOO
2 leeks
1 quart low-sodium vegetable broth
Salt and Pepper to tastes
Extra EVOO, butter, or margarine for garnish (optional)

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I preheated the oven to 425, lined two baking sheets with aluminum foil, and washed/peeled/chopped all the veggies.  With the exception of the leeks, I added all the veggies into a large bowl, and then mixed in the EVOO, S&P.

Freaky Leeky.

Freaky Leeky.

After 20 minutes of roasting, I took the sheets out, and then mixed in the leeks.

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Another 20 minutes of roasting, the veggies were cooked enough for the next step.

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I transfered all the veggies to the Vitamix, then added the quart of broth.  With the lid on nice and tight, I blended on high for about 7 minutes.

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Then tada! The soup was done!  No simmering in the pot, followed my emersion blending.  The cleanup is really simple – just rinse out, add water, and blend with dish soap for 30 seconds.  Plus, it came out so smooth, you’d think it was a jar of Gerber.

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To really guild the lily, I stirred in a tiny slab of butter.  To keep the recipe completely vegan, you could also use earth balance or another fat of choice (EVOO, coconut oil, etc).  I served the soup with a simple salad of mixed greens, walnuts, avocado, pinto beans, and lime juice (sorry, no picture).  There was just enough left for some lunch today.  Rocco enjoyed his in a sippy cup!

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The next time it snows, I might just whip up a comforting bowl of this soup to slow me down and rejuvenate my psyche for the long road ahead.  There may be “miles to go before I sleep”, but stopping to fuel my body and mind is what I really need if those promises I’ve made are to be kept.

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Everyone’s Got a Sunday

In Breakfast, CSA, Fruit, Potato, Soup, Vegan, Vegetables on October 23, 2014 at 12:30 pm

No matter how busy somebody may be, there’s usually one day of the week that affords a little extra downtime.  This day may be used to run errands, get chores done, or sit on the couch and basque in the wonders of reality TV.  For the “traditional” Monday-through-Friday-9-to-5 adult, this tends to be Sunday.  It’s the day for grocery shopping, cooking, laundry, spending time with family, watching football, and nursing a hangover with bloody Marys.  While I participate in some of said activities on most Sundays (not all, and not every), I find these days to be just as busy as Saturdays.  They are simply one of the 8 days a month to squeeze in a social rendezvous or attend the obligatory celebration.  At this point in my life, I don’t get any chores or errands done on the weekends.  Instead, Wednesday is my new Sunday.

While everyone is complaining about Hump Day and looking forward to the weekend, Wednesday is the culmination of my weekly routine.  It’s my day to stay home, and with the exception of a barre class at 5:45 in the morning, the only appointments made are with my to-do lists.  When Rocco naps, I get more done in those 2-3 hours than all Sundays of the month combined.  On a good day, I can wash/fold 2 loads of laundry, load/set/unload the dishwasher, roast veggies, prep for dinner, bake something, and watch an episode of Real Housewives or the Chew.  On a great day, I can shower and take a nap.  CSA distributions are on Thursday, so my biggest food priority is prepping the kitchen for the next day’s bounty.

Wednesday is for cleaning out the fridge.
Roasted carrots and broccoli stems

Roasted carrots and broccoli stems

While I prepare lunch, I pull out all the veggies that are left from last week.  This gives me a chance to think about how to use them so that when the clock strikes one, I hit the ground running.  Leafy greens turn into salads or smoothies.  Roastable veggies are great little somethings for Rocco to munch on after his nap.   However, sometimes there are some odd ones at the bottom of the crisper drawers.  Yesterday, it was celeriac.

The culprit.

The culprit.

When I performed my weekly ritual yesterday, I was left with a small head of lettuce (lunch for Thursday), a bunch of carrots (roasted), some broccoli stems(roasted), 2 leeks, and 2 celeriac bulbs.  I was also still slowly chipping away at 6 lbs of apples, but that’s an issue for an entirely different post.  While I knew what to do with the rest of the produce, this ugly root vegetable staring me in the face was one I knew about but never actually prepared.  I figured I could use it for a soup, along with the remaining leeks and potatoes from Thursday.  I quickly googled celeriac so I know how to clean/cut it, and I actually came across a recipe on the NYT website for a pureed soup using celeriac, potato, leek, and apples.  What a coincidence – all the ingredients I wanted to use, plus another way to incorporate some apples.  With the addition of a carrot, it was time to attack this ugly beast.  I didn’t follow the recipe exactly, but it was a good guideline for my first attempt with an unfamiliar food.

 

Celeriac, Potato, Leek and Apple Soup

Adapted from The New York Times

3 tbsp EVOO
2 bulbs celeriac, peeled and sliced
2 leeks, sliced in half lengthwise, then cut into half moons
3/4 lb potatoes
1 carrot, peeled and diced
2 apples, cored and diced
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 quart vegetable broth
1 quart water
~10 leaves fresh sage

Leeks soaking in water.

Leeks soaking in water.

First thing’s first – I had to get those leeks cleaned.  I find the most effective way is to slice the leek in half lengthwise, then cross slice into half moons.  Place the leeks in a bowl of water and prepare the other ingredients.  When the other veggies are prepped, transfer the leeks to a towel (I use an old beach towel) and rub off any excess dirt. Then it was time to clean and slice the celeriac.  I cut off the ends, sliced in half, then into quarters.  I used my knife to cut off the skin instead of peeling with a vegetable peeler.  Then I rinsed the flesh to remove the little bits of dirt left. IMG_0646 Then I peeled the potatoes.  I forgot that this variety was a really pretty red fleshed spud.  I also forget it had a slightly spiced taste to it.  This actually worked in my favor for the soup. IMG_0647 Next came carrots and apples.  I peeled the former, but not the latter.  All the veggies went into the pot with some olive oil, ready to be sautéed for 5 minutes with some salt and pepper. IMG_0648   Once the vegetables were soft and the leeks reduced in size, I folded in some fresh sage, sautéed another minute, then added the liquids.  I also added some more salt, because potatoes absorb a lot of salt. IMG_0650 Once it came to a boil, I reduced to a simmer, and covered the pot with a lid, leaving 1/2 inch gap from edge of the lid and the pot.  The soup would probably have been done in 30 minutes, but I let it cook for about an hour.  Then I pureed it with an immersion blender. IMG_0652   I was debating whether or not to strain the soup through a mesh sieve, but I opted to serve the soup as is.  I realized half way through I had forgotten to take a picture, so here’s my ugly picture of half eaten soup.  Seems appropriate.   IMG_0655 Grilled cheese accompanied Nick’s bowl, but I opted to just have the soup with a side glass of white wine.  The soup as really delicious and had a lot of complex flavors and textures.  Nick said it had an Indian flavor to it, which makes no sense to me because the only seasoning was salt, pepper, and sage.  Perhaps because it was spicy?  The consistency was good, but a little stringy.  I don’t know if the cause was the celeriac, or maybe the skins from the apples, but next time I think I would use my Vitamix to really pulverize the pulp. I had the soup again this morning, and it was equally delicious.  For Rocco, I poured some into a straw-style sippy cup, and he loved it!  However, after 5 or so instances of having to unclog the straw, I strained the remainder of his portion through a sieve.  He gulped the rest up and mommy got to drink her coffee in peace.  Just what I needed to start off my week.

Has it Really Been (Almost) a Year!!??

In CSA, Fruit, Holiday, Indian, Jewish, Mexican, Nuts, Party, Pizza, Sweet Potato, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian on October 19, 2014 at 6:52 pm

Whenever I meet somebody new, while talking and getting to know each other, we inevitably talk about food.  Sometimes, the conversation will go something like this:

New Person (NP):  I love food, but I hate cooking.  The closest thing to a homemade dish I’ll make is something frozen from TJs.

Me:  It’s not that hard.  I find it easier if I do A, B, and C. (More tips ensue).

NP:  Those are great ideas.  Do you like to cook?

Me:  I do!  I even have a food blog…

NP:  Really, what’s it called?

Me: Lauren Likes to Cook.  Although, it’s been months since I’ve written anything.

NP:  You should write something new!

Okay, so not verbatim, but you get the idea.  The last time this happened, I decided to look back at my homepage and see how long it really has been.  Turns out, it was last October.  Now I know my life has different responsibilities than when I started this journey, but still, I couldn’t believe it.  This blog, the manifestation of my love for food, had been pushed to the back burner.  What, you say, has made its way to the forefront of my to-do lists?  Well, a lot happened this past year.

After 7 years (9 for Nick) of living in Brooklyn, we finally made the move to the ‘burbs.  We staged and sold our condo, moved in with my in-laws, bought a new house, and fixed/furnished the bare necessities of our new space – all while caring for an infant (who is now a bonafide toddler).  Spruced in with some firsts and milestones, here are some highlights (warning – there are a lot of baby pictures):

  • October 2013

    Rocco's First Halloween!  Charlie Brown (with Snoopy)

    Rocco’s First Halloween! Charlie Brown (with Snoopy)

  • December 2013
    Rocco's first solid food - Avocado

    Rocco’s first solid food – Avocado

    Good-bye view from our Condo.

    Good-bye view from our Condo.

  • January 2014 – Coldest and longest month ever.

    Running redefined

    Running redefined

  • February 2014

    Best Valentine's Day Gift - a juicer!

    Best Valentine’s Day Gift – a juicer!

  • March 2014
    We moved!

    We moved!

    New workspace.   Boo for Electric cooktop.

    New workspace. Boo for Electric cooktop.

  • April 2014 – The end of my 20s.  Starting my 30s off as a Lush.
    Mixology party for my 30th Birthday.

    Mixology party for my 30th Birthday.

    Best. Drink. Ever.

    Best. Drink. Ever.

New Kitchen Floor.

New Kitchen Floor.

First Family Vacation

First Family Vacation

  • May 2014
    First Mother's Day

    First Mother’s Day

    Starting my First Garden

    Starting my First Garden

    A garden grows in Garden City.

    A garden grows in Garden City.

  • June 2014
    Rocco Turns 1!

    Rocco Turns 1!

    New CSA

    New CSA

  • July /August 2014 – Beach vacations
    Playing on the beach

    Playing on the beach

    Summer Corn

    Summer Corn

    First backyard BBQ

    First backyard BBQ

  • September 2014
    Happy 3rd Anniversary, Nick!

    Happy 3rd Anniversary, Nick!

    Anniversary Dinner.

    Anniversary Dinner.

  • October 2014 – Back to Apple and Pumpkin Season!
    Pumpkin and Apple Pancake

    Pumpkin and Apple Pancake

    Lots of Apples

    Lots of Apples

    Apple and beet juice

    Apple and beet juice

    Apple cinnamon cocktail

    Apple cinnamon cocktail

    Slow cooker stew with what else - Apples!

    Slow cooker stew with what else – Apples!

    Apple multigrain Breakfast bars

    Apple multigrain Breakfast bars

There you have it!  Pictures worth thousands of words.  Now that life is a little less hectic and routines are rather consistent, I’ll have more time to blog about what’s cooking.  In the meantime, some more photos of last year’s concoctions.  Happy drooling!

Gold/Purple Cauliflower and Romanesco

Gold/Purple Cauliflower and Romanesco

Fish in a white wine butter sauce over wild rice, with roasted brussel sprouts, radish, carrots, and jerusalem artichokes

Fish in a white wine butter sauce over wild rice, with roasted brussel sprouts, radish, carrots, and jerusalem artichokes

Margaritas

Margaritas

Watermelon radish, red cabbage, avocado

Watermelon radish, red cabbage, avocado

Sweet potato gnocchi

Sweet potato gnocchi

Homemade Indian feast at the In-Laws

Homemade Indian feast at the In-Laws

Moscow Mules

Moscow Mules

Rocco eating dried Mango

Rocco eating dried Mango

Homemade Almond Milk

Homemade Almond Milk

Typical Lunch

Typical Lunch

Roasted veggies

Roasted veggies

Ratatouille stuffed pepper, truffle risotto, roasted green beans

Ratatouille stuffed pepper, truffle risotto, roasted green beans

Pesto Pizza

Pesto Pizza

Sweet potato with goat cheese and maple glazed nuts

Sweet potato with goat cheese and maple glazed nuts

Crustless quiche for Passover

Crustless quiche for Passover

Chocolate covered strawberries

Chocolate covered strawberries

Drunk kale quesadillas

Drunk kale quesadillas

Juicing cucumbers and lemons for cocktails.  Very healthy.

Juicing cucumbers and lemons for cocktails. Very healthy.

More roasted veggies.

More roasted veggies.

Nicoise salad.

Nicoise salad.

Roasted cabbage

Roasted cabbage

Rocco's story time choice - Eat to Live.

Rocco’s story time choice – Eat to Live.

Where is Lauren, and What Have You DONE with Her????

In CSA, Italian, Nuts, Pasta, Quick Meal, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian on December 4, 2012 at 4:09 pm

I’ve been hearing that a lot lately.  It’s been 3 months since my last post, and some changes have been brewing since then.  This past summer, I was traveling at least every other week, and my home cooking was lacking to say the least.  Whenever I actually was home, we’d either order delivery or I’d make some standbys (like pitzas, pastas, or soups).  With two trips left in September (including a surprise anniversary trip to Paris :)), I’d promised myself I’d get back in the swing of things once October rolled around.  I know that going on vacations are supposed to be fun and enjoyable, but to be honest I was so sick of being away I’d have nervous breakdowns about not having time to even clean my bathroom.  I know, poor me (you may begin to slap me across the face).

There were so many opportunities to relax on the beach or spend time with friends and family, we just couldn’t pass them up.  Besides, we thought, now is the time in our life when we are only responsible to ourselves.  We know that soon enough we’d start to have a family and we couldn’t just dredge our suitcases across half a mile of Fire Island sand.  This is what we kept telling ourselves as we unpacked and repacked our suitcases week after week.

Our final summer trip was to LA for our niece’s first birthday party.  And you know what happens at those parties?  Everyone keeps asking “when are you going to start popping out those babies?”  I laughed it off as I kept drinking Pinot Grigio and said “obviously not tonight.”  Boy was I surprised when I got home 2 days later.  I had been feeling awfully crampy and fatigued, and even though I was expecting my monthly bill it never came.   I peed on a stick,  saw that blue plus sign, and was in utter disbelief.  Even Nick couldn’t believe it (he thought I was crazy for even suspecting).  We were both excited, but all I could think about was the copious amounts of alcohol I’d consumed in the past 4 days.  When I mentioned it to my doctor, he said not to worry and that plenty of crackwhore alcoholics have beautiful healthy babies.  Great.

And then there’s this wonderful condition called “morning sickness” that kicked in later that week.  Some of you may not know this, but I believe it’s called that because as soon as you wake up in the morning you feel sick and it lasts all day.  I had aversions to every taste and smell.  I’d think “oh, pizza looks really good” and then I’d feel worse.  So my game plan was to force feed myself healthy foods, since everything made me feel sick anyway.  My first attempt was a golden cauliflower soup w/ collard greens from the book Eat to Live.

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Cooking some cauliflower in fresh carrots juice with onion and garlic, I blended the soup with some cashews (for creaminess).

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And then I topped with collard greens.

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Looks delicious, right? WRONG.  Since making this soup I cannot ingest cauliflower, collards, or cashews without a gag reflex.  I thought “oh, maybe it’s just the creaminess of the recipe.  Let me try other veggie dishes.”  A few days later I made some whole wheat pasta with eggplant, broccoli, and shallots.

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For some reason the picture editor will not let me rotate this photo.

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Or this one. Turn your heads 90 degrees to the right :).

That dish was slightly more palatable, but the thought of eating the leftovers made me want to hurl.  I felt so defeated, all the veggies I loved to eat were revolting.  It was ever harder to swallow after reading all those pregnancy books with dietary guidelines.  I’ve always been one to get tons of vitamins via veggies, and protein from dairy and plant based sources.  I’ve even had more than my daily allotment of fiber from beans, oats, and cruciferous plants.  However, my last few precious CSA distributions pretty much went to waste as they rotted in my fridge and I was lucky to get some vitamin C from the daily orange I’d have with breakfast.  I blamed it on my fetus’s father who only eats pork and cheese products.  Luckily they make those prenatal vitamins to fill in the gaps.

I tried my best to eat as healthfully as possible, having fruit and oatmeal w/ either eggs or milk for bkfst, but the rest of the day was wacky.  Some days I’d bring a bean burrito and some broccoli for lunch, only to end up rushing to the bagel shop or Thai takeout instead.  Other days I knew myself better and didn’t even attempt to bring food from home.  I wasn’t eating anything bad per se, but I definitely did not reach my 5 veggie a day goal.  When I’d go out for dinner,  I was fine to eat a raw kale salad, probably because somebody else prepared it.  Yet, when I tried to wash and chop kale at home I wanted to faint and vomit at the same time.  Other veggies like raw peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, and celery seemed to jive a bit more, so I’d try to slice some up to snack on throughout the day.  That’s when I actually had the energy to do so.  Same with sneaking greens into a Green Smoothie.  Other tricks include melting cheddar on broccoli or hiding spinach in a cheese omelet.  I’ve also given in to buying a green juice from the healthfood store once or twice a week.

Meanwhile, this was all happening for the past 2ish months, and nobody knew aside from my husband, doctor, and the occasional Yoga instructor.  I’d be bailing on happy hours, or going with the excuse of antibiotics or getting over a cold.  Of course everyone suspects you’re preggers, but nobody really pushed me.  However, people don’t suspect being tired or averse to certain foods as any red flags.  I felt miserable and couldn’t even explain to my friends why.  Recently we started telling a select few friends and family, so I’ve been much more relieved.  When I would tell friends I haven’t really been cooking, they were like “what???? what is wrong with you.”  Then the explanations ensued and the mysteries revealed.

I’m just beginning the second trimester now, and they say that those horrible symptoms begin to subside.  I’m slowly feeling less tired and nauseated, so hopefully I’ll be back on track with the cooking and posts.  In the meantime, eat your veggies and drink some wine for me.

In Pursuit of Fruit, Part Deux

In Beans, CSA, Dessert, Fruit, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian on August 15, 2012 at 4:06 pm

Here’s a follow up to my last fruit post.  Although there are so many ways to turn fruit into a meal,  there are even naughtier ways to enjoy them, too :).  I’ll begin with a good girl recipe, then talk a little bit about some indulgences.

Two weekends ago began my annual family summer vacation.  Trying to use up all the CSA veggies that week, I made a lot of what I called “juithies” – somewhere between a juice and a smoothie.  Since I would rather have a Vitamix blender over a juicer, I end up blending all the juice, pulp, skin, and fiber of my produce with some water.  I actually much prefer the sludge to an actual veggie/fruit juice because there is a smaller ratio of sugar and thus less headache/starvation as a result.  My new favorite combo is beet/carrot/cucumber/melon.

No matter how big the beets are, they seem to ensure the drink is always reddish purple.

Making these juithies with a little bit of fruit is the perfect start to my day!  I actually have been drinking them instead of my usual first cup of coffee! (don’t worry, I still have coffee at around noon)

Let’s say that this beverage gets an A on the health scale.  The next one I would consider somewhere in the C range; B if we’re just talking about dessert.  I get emails from healthy websites all the time that include recipes, and just before vacation I came across this gem: Peanut Butter, Chocolate, and Banana FroYo.  With just four ingredients, it was super simple and delish to make!  It uses nonfat vanilla Greek yogurt, so packed with protein and not too much sugar, and includes banana to sweeten it up some.

Peanut Butter, Chocolate, and Banana FroYo

Adapted from self.com

  • 2 containers (6 oz each) nonfat vanilla Greek yogurt, divided among ice cube tray sections and frozen
  • 2 small ripe bananas, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and frozen
  • 4 teaspoons natural peanut butter
  • 4 teaspoons mini chocolate chips

Those ice cube trays are in the shape of lips.

I had frozen the yogurt and banana according to the recipe, then blended them together for a couple of minutes.

I added some peanut butter, blended a few seconds more, then mixed in chocolate chips.  Since my blender is super high-powered, it actually heated up the yogurt and it was kind of thin.

After tasting for quality control, I froze the rest in a container, and mixed it every 20 minutes for an hour to make sure it was freezing evenly.  Later that night I ate straight from my homemade pint!  It was amazing, and better/cheaper than the Stonyfield farm or B&J versions available.  According to the recipe, the nutrition information is rather figure friendly for FroYo:

159 calories per 1/2 cup, 4 g fat (1 g saturated), 19 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 10 g protein

The only reason I’d rate this a C is because of the added sugar.  Ideally, I try not to add sugar to anything, but this is a better alternative to 16 handles or pinkberry.

The next “recipe” is definitely a D on the health scale.  As soon as we arrived at our beach condo, we took a quick dip in the pool, and then headed inside to prepare our family tradition: Sangria.  My father is obsessed with fruit, and thus even more obsessed with Sangria.  He’s not much of a drinker, so this is basically a spiked fruit salad for him.  We don’t really use an exact recipe, but basically 1 part fruit to 2 parts wine (see, I told you it’s a fruit salad).  We also add some simple syrup and triple sec.  Of course, I was put in charge of chopping all the fruit, which took nearly an hour!

Grapes and cherries! The bane of my pitting existence.

We used 3 kinds of grapes, 2 kind of cherries, 3 kinds of apples, 2 kinds of plums, a peach, a nectarine, an orange, and a grapefruit.  Lots and lots of variety!

3 gallon dispenser filled 1/3rd of the way with fruit. NBD.

We let the fruit, wine, and other liquid ingredients marinate for 24 hours before drinking.  Both the fruit and wine are in perfect balance then.  48 hours later will produce a better liquid, but soggier fruit.  We also topped it off with some Sierra Mist natural to give a little zing to it.  I think I had 3-4 glasses each night, although the second one seemed less alcoholic, probably because the fruit absorbs all the alcohol.  I wish I had pictures of the end product, but I was too busy drinking to remember to take any.

Those are my new fruit recipes!  I also experimented again with the dehydrator and dried my donut peaches from 2 weeks ago.  I set them to 115º for 24 hours, and they came out amazing!  Sweet and just chewy enough.  And they are truly “raw”, which is a nice bonus!

On the veggie front, I was able to pickup the CSA distribution before heading down for my trip, but I don’t have anything exceptional to report.  It included the basic zucchini, lettuce, corn, cukes, basil, cilantro, and some other things I can’t remember.  Most memorably it was the first week of tomatoes!  The only big recipe I made on vacation was a corn/black bean/avocado/tomato/cilantro salad/dip thing.  No pictures of course, because I always forgot to take them on vacation!  However, everyone loved it, even though it was competing with baby back ribs.  It could technically also be considered a fruit recipe, as corn, tomato, and avocados are all fruits.  I don’t know how I’d rate that recipe though, but it’s definitely less naughty than Sangria.

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.

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.

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.