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Archive for the ‘Italian’ Category

Ate Days a Week

In Beans, Bread, Breakfast, Brunch, Challenge, Fruit, Healthy Lifestyle, Holiday, Italian, Japanese, Mexican, Nuts, Oats, Party, Pasta, Pizza, Quick Meal, Rice, Salad, Saving Money, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian on February 24, 2015 at 7:04 pm

When it comes to healthy eating, I find there is a fine line between two philosophies: 1)Variety is the spice of life and 2)Consistency is key.  How does one stay in balance without getting bored of the same 10 meal repertoire?  When it comes to diversification, I’m always looking for inspiration.  I often look at healthy eating blogs/sites, fitness magazines, and even get sucked into the articles on the latest celebrity eating crazes.  There are definitely common trends (who else is sick of seeing kale everywhere?), but there is also a lot of differing and conflicting information.  Some people eat the same exact breakfast and lunch every day because it helps them stay on track, while others will cave into candy if they have another egg white fritata.

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Could you eat THIS every day?

Where do my habits fall on this spectrum?  It’s kind of hard to say.  There have been weeks where I definitely fall into the same lunch rut, and others where I order take out every night.  It really depends on what else is going on that hour/meal/day/week/etc.  In an effort to better answer this question, I decided a couple of weeks ago to keep a log of my food/water/alcohol intake every day for 7 days.  This practice helped me to reflect more accurately on my habits and identify trends, which is something I hadn’t done in several years.  Back in my days of working with a personal trainer, I had been required to turn in a nutrition log at the beginning of each session, which gave me so much anxiety.  If I was honest about every morsel, I’d get ripped apart for having even one cookie, even if the other 98% of my intake was perfect.   I would end up omitting anything that I knew was “inconstant” and veering away from my “goals”, just to avoid the wrath of someone who subsisted on protein shakes, whey, and hardly any fresh fruits or vegetables.

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Homework…

It’s been a long time since I’ve followed any sort of “diet” or meal plan, so this time I took a different approach to the journaling process.  I didn’t focus exclusively on calories, macronutrients, or obsessively counting and measuring.  While I did note approximate amounts (I have a very good sense of portions and volumes, so that’s how I was able to quantify all the ingredients), I didn’t use any measuring devices (scale/cup/calculator), except when required by a recipe (baking).    I just wanted to get a sense of 1)the main components of my meals, 2)some idea of ratio (is the meal 1/2 veggies, 1/4 each protein/carb), 3)how often/frequently I eat, 4)what kind and how often I was having alcohol and “treats”, and how 5)much water I was consuming.  For water, I used the same size glass throughout the day (usually a 17 oz size, which I’d note as 2 cups), and I didn’t include cooking water.  I also noted times I ate/drank to understand the frequency better.

Here’s a high level overview, which I’ll follow with more details and pics.  This particular week had a busy weekend (Valentine’s Day, birthday parties, 2 big family dinners), so it’s an example of more splurging than usual.

  • Breakfast is the most consistent, usually some combination of protein (eggs or yogurt) with whole grain (oats) and lots of veggies
  • Lunch is usually leftovers or a simple salad
  • Dinner is the most varied, usually freshly cooked, and has carb heavy options for the other members of my family
  • I’ll have 1-3 in between meal snacks or bites
  • I drink a minimum 12 cups of water a day, but usually 16+ (especially on days I exercise).  This equates to about a cup/hour.
  • 1-2 glasses of wine 4 times a week; 1 night of cocktails.  None of that bothers me. 🙂
  • A piece or two of chocolate 3x; ice cream 1x
  • During the week, frequency is 2-3 hours; Weekend eating frequency is less, but more indulgent

That’s the basic gist of the week’s trends.  Some of you may want more information, the same way I look at other blogs as I mentioned earlier.  For those who want more details, here they are, along with some photos when I remembered to take them.

  • Monday
    • Water total: 16 cups
      • 530: 2 cups water before/during barre workout
    • 7 am grande coffee w 1 oz milk
    • 7:45 am: 2 cups water; porridge – 1/2 cup oats, 2 cups water, 1.5 cups kale, 1 tsp miso, 2 eggs, 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
      • 2 more cups water btwn meals
    • 11:15 Carob spirulina energy bite (1)
    • 12:30 pm: 2 cups water; salad of 3 celery stalks, 1 small gala apple, 1/3 cup chickpeas, lemon juice; 1 brown rice cake with 1/3 avocado and 1/2 oz sharp cheddar
      • 2:30 2 cups water
    • 3:15 whole wheat banana nut bread
      • 4:30 2 cups water
    • 6:00 low fat string cheese 1 cup water
    • 7:15 2 cups water; whole wheat pasta with honeynut squash olives capers and almonds (1 cup)
      • 1 cup water after dinner
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Porridge

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Lunch

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Whole Wheat Banana Bread

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Pasta.

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My itty portion.

  • Tuesday
    • Water total: 16 cups
      • 8:30 am: 2 cups water
    • 9:00 – pancake (1.5 eggs, 6 tbsp oats, 3 tbsp nonfat Greek yogurt, 1.5 cups flower sprouts [like kale]). 2 cups water
      • 10: stroller strides (interval full body workout) 2 cups water during workout
    • 11: 3/4 cup Greek yogurt with 1 tsp pb 3/4 apple and cinnamon
    • 11:30 – grande coffee w 1 oz milk
    • 1:00 pm – 2 cups water; 1 whole wheat pizza slice with broccoli and spinach topping
      • 2:45 – 2 cups water
      • 4:15 – 2 cups water
    • 5:15 – 1.5 clementine 10 raw almonds
    • 6:15 : 2 cups water, 3 bell pepper slices
    • 7:30 2 cups water. 2 (really big) glass red wine. 1/3 cup sprouted brown rice, 1/3 cup mushroom stroganoff, 1/2 cup roasted sugar snap peas in 1 tsp Evoo, 1 small bell pepper stuffed w 1/2 cup chickpeas w lemon zest and juice; 2 choc truffle
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Pancake with a hot sauce smile.

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Yogurt parfait.

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  • Wednesday
    • Water total: 16 cups
      • 9:15 am 2 cups water
    • 9:30 – smoothie (3/4 cup Greek yogurt, 1/2 banana, 1/2 cup blueberries, 1.5 cups broccoli, 1/4 cup oats, 1 tbsp pb, 1/2 cup water, vanilla and cinnamon)
      • 10:30 2 cups water
    • 11:15 cup of coffee w splash of milk
      • 11:40 2 cups water
    • 12:15 pm 1 cup coffee
      • 1:00 2 cups water
    • 1:15 leftover snap peas stroganoff and rice, kidney beans 1/2 cup each
    • 2:45 2 cups water. 1 oz sharp cheddar
    • 5:15 thin slice whole wheat banana bread
      • 6:30 2 cups water
    • 7:00 carrot ginger coconut soup (1 cup), sesame noodles (1/2 cup brown rice quinoa pasta with pb and sesame sauce (pb, molasses, sesame oil, ginger, garlic,etc), 2 cups water, 1 piece dark chocolate w raisins and pecans
      • 10:30 2 cups water
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Finished smoothie.

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Sautéing veggies for the soup.

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Soups on!

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Sesame noodles, with some modifications on this recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/tyler-florence/cold-sesame-noodles-recipe2.html

  • Thursday
    • Water total: 14
      • 9:30 am 2 cups water
    • 10:00 1/2 cup oats, 6 oz baby spinach sautéd in 1 tsp Evoo and garlic, 2 scrambled eggs, 2 cups water
    • 10:45 2 cup coffee w splash milk
      • 12:30 pm 2 cups water
      • 1:30 2 cups water
    • 2:00 leftover carrot soup (1.5 cups) rice beans and mushroom (1/2 cup each;) 1 cup water
      • 3:00 1 cup water
      • 5:15 2 cups water
    • 6:15 2 cups water. 1 small sweet potato with skin and sprinkle cheddar cheese, 1/2 cup white beans cooked in sriracha sauce, 1 cup slaw (napa cabbage carrots onion pepper apple celery lemon juice avocado), 1 glass red wine
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Breakfast.

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Leftovers. Again.

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Slaw.

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BBQ(ish) Dinner.

  • Friday
    • Water total: 17 cups
      • 5:30-7am 3 cups water before/ during barre
    • 7:00 grande coffee with splash milk
    • 8:30 2 cups water. Miso soup (1 tbsp miso w 2 cups water) with 1/2 cup leftover sprouted brown rice, 3 cups flower sprouts, 2 poached eggs, 1 tsp toasted sesame oil and hot sauce
      • 9:30 2 cups water
      • 11:15 2 cups water
    • 12:15 2 cups water. 2 cups leftover slaw w 1/2 cup kidney beans, 1 small sweet potato w sprinkle cheddar
      • 4:00 2 cups water
    • 4:30 2 clementines 15 raw almonds
      • 530 1 cup water
    • 7:00 pm – FAMILY DINNER. 1 cup water. 1/4 cup guac w 10 scoops, 2-3 oz white fish, 1/2 cup black bean, 1/2 cup cabbage, 2 margaritas. 1 piece salted caramel dark chocolate, 1 scoop vanilla ice cream
      • 10:00 2 cups water
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Another take on Breakfast.

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  • Saturday
    • Water total: 16 cups
      • 9:45 am 2 cups water
    • 10:15 2 cups water. 1/2 cup oats cooked in water, 3 oz baby spinach in 1 tsp Evoo, 1/3 avocado, 1 tbsp toasted pumpkin seeds
      • 11:00 am – 1:00 pm 4 cups water before/during/after barre
    • 1:00 pm grande coffee splash of milk
    • 2:30 pm salad w romain eggplant roasted red pepper cucumber tomato chick peas fresh mozzarella 1 tbsp vinaigrette, 10 French fries, 5 bites broccoli cheddar omelet, 1 cup water
      • 7:00 pm 4 cups water
    • 8:30 VALENTINES. 2 glasses red wine, 5 slices baguette 1/2 inch thick,  5 crackers, cheese (3ish oz), cherry jam, 10 olives, 2 cups water
      • 1 cup water before bed
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More savory oats.

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VDay with my love.

  • Sunday (Busy day, no photos)
    • Water total: 12
      • 9:30 am 2 cups water
    • 10:30 am 16 oz americano w steamed milk (1/2 cup?), 1 slice whole wheat banana bread, 1 cup water
    • 12:30 pm BIRTHDAY BRUNCH PART 1. 3 cups water, 1/2 cup brown rice 1 cup sauted Chinese broccoli,  2 bites tapioca custard, 2 bites dessert bun
    • 3:30 BIRTHDAY BRUNCH PART 2.  1 cup water, 2 poached eggs, 1/2 biscuit, 1/2 cup sauted kale, 1 cup mixed green side salad, 1/2 Bloody Mary
    • 6:30. BIG FAMILY DINNER.  3 cups water, 2 glasses red wine, 1/2 cup mixed greens, 1/2 slice fresh mozzarella, 1 bite bread w butter, 1 cup whole wheat pasta w arabiata sauce, 1/2 cup green beans, 1/4 cup sauted spinach, small piece eggplant parm (3 bites), 3 bites sole oreganata
      • 9:00 pm. 2 cups water

To answer my initial question, what does all of this mean? After this experiment, I think I can say that I am consistent with adhering to the healthy habits I’ve developed over the years, all while spicing things up with twists and changes.  And even if I do indulge a smidge, I don’t have to worry about hiding it from anyone, because I don’t consider it something off limits.  How else do you expect me to muster up the energy to cook (or chase a toddler) without a glass or two of wine?

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And if you’d like to see any of the recipes from this week, comment and let me know.  They could be included in a future post.

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I’m Over It(?)

In American, Bread, Chinese, Indian, Italian, Lentils, Nuts, Pasta, Quick Meal, Quinoa, Seitan, Soup, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian on February 20, 2013 at 1:04 pm

A little less light-hearted than usual, but here’s a bit of what’s been going on.  Don’t worry, I’ll still have some photos to make you drool :).

I’ve always loved food.  Throughout my adolescent and adult years, there has been a constant battle between enjoying food and being mindful of nutrition and health.  Although it became easier as I grew older and more knowledgeable, that inner struggle was always there.  Sometimes to the point of obsession and compulsion.

Being the over analytical nut that I am, I’ve gone through different phases of nutritional “rightness”, ensuring my due diligence by checking labels, measuring, logging, etc.  I’ve even developed predictive models in Excel.  My analyses have gone so far that I can piece together meals and daily meal plans to get the most bang (filling/satiating) for my caloric buck.   These endeavors, however, are extremely masochistic.  No matter how hard I try to just relax about my diet, I will drive myself crazy with some new form of food obsession.

Everyone thinks that being pregnant is a great excuse to let yourself go and eat what you want.  Yeah, right.  Not according to every piece of pregnancy literature.  Experts recommend only adding 300 extra calories a day to your diet, along with making sure you get 4 calcium servings, tons of protein, and various vegetables as sources of necessary vitamins – just to name a few of the “dos.”  The don’ts are even longer.  So I stopped the caffeine, really committed to excluding chemicals, hydrogenated oils, HFCS, GMOs, etc.  I’ve turned down so many offers of candies, cookies, and packaged products because they don’t fit my new “diet.”  I forced myself to drink milk, and stuff my face with a variety of veggies, lest I endure my self-inflicted guilt.

All of this “dedication” (read: obsession) had helped me in the first 5 months to first drop 5 lbs and then only gain 6 back.  Compared to the average gain of 13 lbs by that point (and what woman doesn’t compare herself to others?), I became worried.  Even with the occasional ice cream or cookies, I was not gaining weight.  While this is a goal most women strive for, it’s not super when you have a living being growing inside of you.  So now, I have to try to eat more.  If you thought it was difficult counting calories, measuring foods, or leaving food on your plate, try purposefully eating a lot of healthy food.  My mind is so conditioned to abide by that bang for your buck mentality, I find it exhausting to think of more things to eat.  Almost every day, I think to myself or say to Nick “I’m so over it [thinking about food],”  and I am about 95% committed to that statement.  Because really, who am I kidding?

I’ve been eating a lot of avocado, nuts, and cheeses to aid in my healthy weight gain.  I also eat whole eggs instead of whites.  And sometimes I eat french fries.

Whole Wheat with avocado, mixed greens, and provolone.  Newest sandwich obsession. Also great with fried egg.

Whole Wheat with avocado, mixed greens, and provolone. Newest sandwich obsession. Also great with fried egg.

It’s been 3 weeks of these practices, and 4 lbs have been added to my total gain.  Unless you catch me from the side, I still don’t look pregnant, but I’ve finally succumbed to wearing maternity jeans.

As for “liking to cook”, I still do!  When I have the energy :).  I may be using more fats, but I guarantee everything is wholesome real food.  There are some new recipes to report!   However, by the time I’ve finished cooking and cleaning, my energy levels are usually maxed out with no reserves for blogging.  I’ve been getting a lot of advice, mostly to let others help out more.  That’s where you, my lovely readers come in handy.  I’m posting some photos below of a few recipes, and I’ll let you vote which to write about next.  And remember, with great power comes great responsibility.

Eggplant, Peppers, and Onions Hero

Eggplant, Peppers, and Onions Hero

 

3 Lentil and Quinoa Stew

3 Lentil and Quinoa Stew

 

Marinated Beet Salad with Arugula, Sunflower Seeds, and Homemade Paneer (Indian Cheese)

Marinated Beet Salad with Arugula, Sunflower Seeds, and Homemade Paneer (Indian Cheese)

 

Truffle Mac 'N Cheese (Warning: not healthy AT ALL, but will win you friends and get you laid)

Truffle Mac ‘N Cheese (Warning: not healthy AT ALL, but will win you friends and get you laid)

 

Whole Wheat Peanut Sesame Noodles (Served with Gingered Chicken and Garlic Broccoli)

Whole Wheat Peanut Sesame Noodles (Served with Gingered Chicken and Garlic Broccoli)

 

Twist on an American Classic:  Seitan or Chicken Noodle Casserole

Twist on an American Classic: Seitan or Chicken Noodle Casserole

 

Cast your votes, and I’ll post the most popular recipe next week.

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.

Pizza and Chinese Food

In Chinese, Flexitarian, Italian, Pizza, Quick Meal, Rice, Salad, Seitan, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian on September 5, 2012 at 3:59 pm

Those were my only two delivery options when I lived in my first apartment after college.  My street was a quiet crescent shape, there were lots of trees and families, and I was only a 5 minute walk to the subway.  I also had no roommates and lived on the top floor.  However, not much else made me happy to live there.  The neighborhood had about a 2 block stretch of the necessary businesses – bank, coffee shop, bodega, grocery store, 99 cent store, cleaners, shoe repair, and the aforementioned eateries.  There was also a 24 hour diner, but they didn’t deliver.  Thus, when I came home from a hard day of work (which was every day), I’d crack open a beer and 2 or 3 times a week I’d order either pizza/pasta or Chinese food.  I wasn’t as experienced with cooking as I am now, so I hadn’t had enough in my repertoire to mix things up in my own kitchen.  Then I met Nick, who had a big beautiful kitchen, perfect for improving my skills (while winning his heart at the same time).

Times have changed, and so have my skills and appetite.  While I still crave the pizza and Chinese of bachelorettehood’s past, I seldom order delivery to avoid the extra fat, calories, and salt that is packed inside the cardboard containers.  Instead, I’ll make my own versions at home: a whole wheat pitza, or a splurge on TJ’s whole wheat pizza dough helps with the carb cravings, and stirfries with brown rice replace MSG.  With the bounty of veggies I purchased during my Eat to Live inspired market trip, both cuisines avail themselves to being infused with said produce.

For Nick, I made a pitza using pesto and fresh tomatoes instead of marinara sauce.

I topped them with all those veggies, and added some cheese.  I made a side salad of cucumber, tomato, and chives.

For myself, I attempted my first cauliflower pizza crust!  It comes out more like an omelet, but it’s pretty tasty.

Cauliflower Pizza Crust

Serves 2

1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
2 egg whites
1/2 cup shredded fresh mozzarella
sprinkle each of garlic powder, salt, and oregano

After steaming the cauliflower for 5ish minutes, I drained the florets and used a ricer to squeeze out extra fluid.  I couldn’t fully rice it with the gadget, so I pulsed the cauliflower in the food processor.

Then I combined the cauliflower with the other ingredients, spread the mixture on a toaster oven baking sheet, and baked for 15 minutes at 400º.

Before baking…

After baking.

Then it was time to top the crust.  Since there was already cheese in there, I left that out for my version.  I just used pesto, tomatoes, zucchini, mushroom, peppers, and chives.

Before broiling…

With the toaster oven on broil, The toppings just needed 5 minutes.

Here’s a slice….

The ends were really crispy, which was most pizza-crust like.  However, the middle was similar to an omelet, only tastier.  I’d definitely recommend it!

Now let’s move further east.

Vegetables – taste the rainbow.

I don’t think I really need to go over a recipe for this.  All you need is a Wok, some veggies, preferable an onion or scallion, some garlic, and at least some soy sauce.  Other ingredients like toasted sesame oil, mirin, or chili paste are also welcome additions.  Using corn starch with broth helps create a nice thick sauce, as well.

Serve with some protein (like 5 spice seitan or chicken), brown rice, and a nice salad (I used red cabbage as my base and dressed with carrot ginger dressing).

Counter clockwise from top left: Mirin chicken, brown rice, veggie stir fry, salad (cabbage, cucumber, tomato, avocado, ginger dressing)

Lots of veggies, lots of salad, and a smidge seitan in garlic sauce.

My salad was really big (like 1/4 of a huge cabbage), and the greenish dressing is that chive based version I talked about in my last post.  Had I only had some berries on there, I’d be the [G] Bomb[s].

I know what you may be thinking: that’s a lot of veggies.  However, combined with the essences of take out food, it’s a good balance of naughty and nice.  It’s not even THAT naughty.  I should know; I used to be a take-out-a-holic.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Carroll Gardens Farmer’s Market

In American, Challenge, Chinese, Flexitarian, Italian, Japanese, Meat and Pultry, Pasta, Potato, Quick Meal, Rice, Salad, Shopping, Vegetables, Vegetarian on July 3, 2012 at 1:19 pm

This past weekend was another by-week for my CSA share.  I still had a few things left (snap peas, bok choy, escarole, and a lil’ chard), but knew I’d have no time during the week to pick up more veggies once I ran out.  I spent all day Saturday shopping at the local boutiques (hooray for summer sales!) and ended with dinner and a movie.  Then came Sunday, and I made me way over to my neighborhood farmer’s market.  It’s funny how rarely I go there, even though it is only a 5 minute walk away.  After breakfast, I went with Nick at about 11:00 AM.  I love when he comes with me, because I get direct feedback from my primary consumer!  It was so hot, though, that it felt like being in a green house every time we went under one of the tents.  His feedback ended up being short and to the point.

I really need a better camera, because my flash is either super bright or non-existent.

There were so many options, it was hard to edit myself!  I bought veggies from 4 different vendors, as well as honey to help with Nick’s allergies.  I’ve heard that having a little bit really helps with outdoor allergies, so when I saw it was from Red Hook, I jumped on it!  The joke was on me, though, because Red Hook is also a town upstate, not just in Brooklyn.  Doh!

Here’s the list of veggies:

2 bunches beets (they were on sale 2/$5)
1 head green leafy lettuce ($3)
3 lbs small potatoes ($6)
4 small eggplant (About 1/5th of a lb – wish there were more, but they sold out!) ($1)
1 bunch French radishes (only $1.50)
6 green house tomatoes ($4.10)
3 zucchini
1 striped zucchini
4 small bunches broccoli ($4.80 for all the zucchini and broccoli)
1 box zucchini blossoms ($7)

About $32.50 for all of that!  Much more than I’d normally spend, but I intended using the potatoes for a BBQ, and the zucchini blossoms are a treat.  I am determined to make them without breading and/or deep frying, but we will see…

I got home and washed everything up, fit in a workout, and then headed out to a friend’s birthday brunch.  It was so hot in there!  Their AC was non-existent, and the thermostat read 95 degrees!  We were all ready to leave once the plates were cleared.  Nick and I went to visit some friends after, and they were making some zucchini for their dinner.  I decided when we got home to do the same, so I sauteed 3 zucchini with sundried tomato, the rest of the swiss chard, some garlic, and sprinkled in some truffled pecorino.

I added it to some whole wheat penne.

I had also made a salad with the lettuce from the market, some tomato, chopped olives, feta, and balsamic vinegar (no picture).  Super yummy as well!

The next day was nice and cool, so I decided to get a lot of cooking in!  I made Ina Garten’s Dill Potato salad for an upcoming BBQ.  It’s really delicious, but I only make it to bring out to other places, lest my hubby and I eat 3 whole lbs of potatoes in one sitting!

Dill Potato Salad

Adapted from Ina Garten

3 pounds small white potatoes
Kosher salt
1 cup mayonnaise (I used light)
1/4 cup buttermilk (I used 3/4 tsp vinegar with 1/4 cup-3/4 tsp of skim milk)
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup chopped celery (I used 1 full cup)
1/2 cup chopped red onion (I used 1 full cup)

I cut up the potatoes before boiling, although the recipe says to cut them after cooking.  I brought the pot to a boil, then simmered for 10 minutes.  While boiling, I combined everything else except the celery and onion for the dressing.

After 10 minutes, I drained the potatoes into a colander, then placed the colander over the hot pot and covered with a kitchen towel to steam for 20 minutes.  I also chopped up the onion and celery.

I combined the potatoes, dressing, and celery/onion.  They are currently marinating in my fridge, so I don’t have a photo yet.

Later for dinner, I made a salad with lettuce, tomato, avocado, and carrot ginger dressing.

 

I also made a stir fry.  I used Bok Choy, striped zucchini, baby eggplant, snow peas, broccoli, scallion, onion, and ginger.

I made my own sauce using low sodium soy, mirin, red chili paste, vegetable broth, and corn starch.

I made some brown rice and mirin chicken to go with it.

I wanted to make myself seitan, but mine had expired.  Boo!!!!

I still have a bunch of stuff left for the week, but I’m glad I do because all my stuff from last week is gone (except the escarole, which I may end up throwing out)!  So far I used half the broccoli, all the zucchini, eggplant and potatoes, and almost all of the tomatoes and lettuce.  Very excited with all my beets, and those zucchini blossoms will be an exciting challenge.  Hope you all have a great Independence Day!  I plan on celebrating by making anything BUT American food.

It’s Not Easy Being Green

In Breakfast, Challenge, CSA, Fruit, Italian, Pasta, Quick Meal, Salad, Vegetables on June 27, 2012 at 11:52 am

Even though greens are good for you, it’s also important to diversify your plate with a rainbow of colors.  Saturday was my second CSA pickup of the season, and of course there were still tons of green veggies!  I tried my best to pick colors when possible, but I still had SIX fully green items (and one mostly green with some yellow).

Here’s what I came home with.  Let’s start with all the Greens:

  • Escarole
  • Bok Choy
  • Mixed peas (snow and snap)
  • 1 small cucumber
  • 1 HUMONGOUS zucchini
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 1 bunch swiss chard (yellow, but mostly green)

As for other colors:

  • Red leafy lettuce
  • 2 small yellow squash
  • 3 pints blueberries!!!!!

Before I continue on any other topic, I have to go on a blueberry tangent.  I love blueberries.  They are by far my favorite fruit.  In oatmeal, smoothies, yogurt, or just straight up, I can’t get enough.  When I was a wee young’n, I was the blueberry connoisseur.  I would sit on a lounge chair at my grandparents pool club, individually inspecting every berry by hand, and determined whether it reached my high standards of edibility.  Needless to say, I was very happy about the 3 pints worth this week.  I froze half for smoothies, and kept the other half to eat with oatmeal and yogurt.

Back to everything else…I got home and made some breakfast while starting to clean, prep, and store this week’s bounty.  I still had a squash from the farmer’s market, so I diced that up with some red scallions for an omelet.   I also had blueberries with my oatmeal :).

While preparing the new items, I thought about what was left from my market trips.  I still had some kale left, which is great for smoothies, so that wasn’t a big deal.  However, I also had a whole bunch of cilantro and half a bunch of dill!  The dill is fine to work with, but now I had TWO bunches of cilantro.  I made sure to label both with dates, that way I use up the older batch first.  I also kept the older items in the front of the veggie drawer.

I was also very excited about this HUGE zucchini.  It was perfect for some zucchini bread, which I have yet to make because I tend to have so few pieces that I ration them off for Nick-approved dinners.  Trust me, this zucchini could make 12 loaves of bread.

Zucchini next to a marker for size comparison.

We had a wedding out of town on Saturday, so we packed the car and left shortly after finishing veggie prep.  When we came home on Sunday, I was pretty exhausted, so I made a quick dinner!  I made a salad using the red leafy lettuce, the single cucumber, a red scallion, and some dill with balsamic vinegar (I guess I forgot to take a photo).  I also made a pasta dish – Whole wheat penne with yellow squash and swiss chard.  I cheated by using jarred tomato sauce (Rao’s Marinara – amazing).  I heated the sauce up in a pan with half of the chard and both small squash from Saturday, and let them steam up covered while the pasta cooked.  Then I added the cooked pasta and a smidge pasta water.

Of course, there was parm for topping!  It was pretty fast, delish, and we already got 1/3 lettuce, 1/2 chard, and all yellow squash out of the way.  My biggest challenges this week are 1) using all the cilantro and 2) finding a use for escarole.  I know I’ve said there’s no veggie I hate, but let’s just say escarole isn’t exactly my fave.  Wish me luck!