July 13, 2013

New Recipe: Tomatillo-Corn Pizza

It's been quite a while since I embarked on a concoction with this much prep. I had already planned to make pizza for dinner Friday night, but there were a LOT of fresh ingredients from our CSA backing up on my counter and in my fridge, so I decided to put my thinking cap on and use them up.

A couple years ago, I made salsa verde with some tomatillos, so I started with the pizza premise, and decided to use a salsa-like sauce instead of spaghetti-like sauce.

De-husked and boiled. (Correll Farms - CF)

Plus I added some beautifully colored dark red and green heirloom tomato (CF), fresh garlic cloves (CF), cilantro, and a tiny squirt of agave. Combine it all in a food processor until pureed. Set aside.

Meanwhile, I shucked the sweet corn (CF) and cut it off the cob. I sauted it for about 5 minutes with some onions (CF) in olive oil, just until tender.

One sure thing about using lots of fresh ingredients: lots of compost material. 

Using the last litte bit of my Hoffner Farms wheat flour and basic white, I rolled out a pizza crust. I usually transfer to baking sheet and cook for about 5 minutes while the oven is preheating before adding fixings. 

Top the crust with the tomatillo mix. 

Then the corn & onions, some broccoli florets, and olives. Final touch: Monterey Jack!

Bake for 17-20 minutes, finishing with a few minutes broil. Winner winner pizza dinner. This one is a definite keeper. 

June 25, 2013

Daily Breakfast Redux

Friends, let me tell you a creamy little story. (Impatient type: skip to the fourth paragraph!). 

I started eating Stonyfield Greek yogurt (Oikos) for breakfast in 2009. In the middle of an super revolution when it came to my diet. Cutting out cereal, toast, pretty much any less than protein-packed, low-carb fuel. See, I wrote about it here

And then in 2010, I started commuting an hour, which meant breakfast on the go and I slacked off on the nutritious craze. Breakfast looked like the more tasty and convenient flavored Greek yogurt containers. Chobani blood orange and apple cinnamon. Stonyfield super fruit. nom.

Fast forward a few years to 2013 when I start paying attention to those pesky little things called calories, and I realized that not only had my portion gone from 8 oz. to 5.3 oz, those little cups of fruited goodness, while still packing a whopping 28% of your day's protein, also had a LOT of sugar. In fact, it's the second ingredient...19 g of it to be exact.  Plus there is weird stuff like concentrate resulting in 140 calories. 

Recently, I started thinking about how I could makeover my daily breakfast, and possibly work on a little environmental stewardship by reducing the purchase of those plastic yogurt cups. In talking with a dietician, she gave me a great idea to try buying a 32oz plain Greek and 32oz vanilla regular yogurts, mixing them together, and doling out in 8 oz servings for each day of the week. 

That worked okay, but while the regular yogurt added calcium and a little sweet, it wasn't quite as filling. So, from the two steps forward, I took one step back and bought just the plain Greek 32oz. But how to flavor it without adding too much sugar?

Moment of genius I wish I could claim! There is a pre-existing pureed organic fruit product, with absolutely ZERO added sugar (plus some vitamins!) already sitting on grocery store shelves across the nation. Have you a clue?

Hello baby food aisle!! This week, I opted for a blueberry/beet/banana mix, which spread out nicely over four cups adding ~15 calories of pure fruit to each 6 oz serving (105 calories) of yogurt. 

That results in a 120 calorie, filling breakfast (plus I add some whole grain grape nuts, oats, and sunflower seeds) with just over 17 g protein. Note that this may seem like a small calorie savings (20), but it is a larger serving size than the purchased cups AND has no added sugar. I also just feel healthier about it because who wants to feed a baby junk? 

All mixed up and ready to go for the week. My last step will be converting these reusable plastic containers to glass cups!

June 22, 2013

Combos v 2

A new one to add to the list of interesting but tasty combos!

Grilled fresh pineapple & sweet potatoes. 
Mixed with a little EVOO and cilantro and tossed in a grill pan for about 15 minutes. Tip: microwave the peeled and diced sweet potato for 3-4 minutes first to get it tender. The pineapple cooks much faster.

June 18, 2013

Chopping Block

It wasn't too long ago, I saw 'chop salad' on a menu. I could sort of understand chopped salad so I just figured it was just a Southernism. Prior to that though, a salad with chopped veggies was just a salad, but now it seems adding those four letters make it something different than a regular salad.

This one sure is!

This is my version, inspired by a recipe I saw in the fancy Boar's Head (who, coincidentally has a really nice, classy website design), handout on the deli counter. Have you ever picked those up? This one was so slick, I thought I'd give it a try while I waited, and got a few great ideas!

Maple Honey Turkey Waldorf Salad
I followed the ingredients pretty close, but omitted the mayo and used agave instead of sugar. Turned out great and was perfect for a hot summer evening, with a side of CSA squashes & red onions.

Also coincidentally, this meal matched a pic I snapped of my view from work that morning.

June 16, 2013

And Counting!

We're just over a month away until the big TWO WEEK vacation to Cape Cod. Since it is nice and toasty here in NC, it can't get here fast enough. To pass the time, here's a top 10 of things I'm looking forward to for #CC2013!

1. Outdoor breakfast

2. Camp fires & hammocks

3. These boats at (photographed 3/5 years!) at Forest Beach

4. Cape-style houses and all their blooming glory

5. Traveling with the Canine Component

6. City Shoes

7. Fresh salsa and guac

8. Baseball at Chatham

9. Rail trail biking & freshwater pond kayaking

10. Crossing this bridge

May 15, 2013

Pass the Pimentos Please

In college, pimento cheese held a special place in my menu quirks. I didn’t dine on it frequently, but I when I did…a nice spread, two slices of bread, and FRITOS! That’s right, I put chips on my sandwich. So delicious that gooey crunchy concoction was. The unfortunate thing, of course, that isn’t especially healthy.

Fast forward a few, or twelve, years and I’ve grown up a bit, and decided to give those eats a makeover. It turned out perfect, not quite as slimy or fatty, but I also didn’t feel guilty enjoying the cheesy goodness!

8 oz sharp or extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated
4-6 oz plain Greek yogurt (depending on desired creaminess)
¼ c jarred pimentos (to taste)
2-3 T sweet pickle juice (to taste)
dash of freshly ground black pepper

Mix it all up, chill, serve on melba toasties, crackers, or as a grilled sandwich with lettuce for the crunch (instead of fritos!). 

May 12, 2013

Mother's Day Meal

Why not try THREE totally new, more complex than normal recipes for a special holiday meal? All three turned out about as perfectly as I could imagine, and I would definitely make them all again (although not obvious with the piddly iPhone photo showing).

First up: Beet, Orange, Rhubarb & Endive Salad inspired by Epicurious
I had three ginormous beets, boiled them for an hour, peeled, sliced and chilled them for another hour. The rhubarb, fresh from Watauga County Farmers Market, was sliced diagonally dropped in warm but not boiling water/sugar mix and left to simmer 2 minutes, followed by chilling. Mix those two together with cut navel orange chunks and endive, plus a dash of feta, and you have a sweet tangy crunchy salad.

Next on tap: Vegetables Wellington Redux from Vegetarian Times
This was actually pretty simple, but required a lot of prep. Chop red pepper, asparagus, onion, and Rowan County chard, then saute for 10 minutes (adding chard at about 6 minutes). Mix in some homemade pesto and set aside. Working with thawed pastry crust sheets laid on parchment paper (essential, do not skip!), line a loaf pan with the pastry like a box. Spread marscapone on the bottom, sprinkle with rosemary and garlic powder and poke holes in the pastry. Add the asparagus mix, sprinkle with parmesan, and fold the top edges around and over to make an enclosed roll. Brush exposed pastry with an egg and chill 20 mins. Bake at 425 for 15 minutes, reduce heat to 350 and bake another 45 minutes. Serve with marinara sauce on the side.

And lastly: Sweet Potato Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
I combined and modified about 5 recipes into the following.

1 c whole wheat flour
1 c white flour
1 t baking soda
1 t baking powder
1/4 t ginger
1 T cinnamon
1/2 t nutmeg
pinch of salt
1/2 c softened butter
1/2 c packed brown sugar
3/4 c sugar
1 c egg beaters

2 c mashed sweet potato (just nuke 'em for 6-8 mins)
dried cranberries

Combine first eight ingredients and mix well. In separate bowl, combine remaining ingredients, except sweet potato, mix well. Gently fold flour mix into wet ingredients. Do not over mix, and then gently fold in sweet potato (clumps are ok!). Place into greased muffin tins and bake 20-24 minutes until springy.

1 package low fat cream cheese
1/2 c powdered sugar
2 T cinnamon
1 T vanilla extract

Stir cheese to loosen, then gently beat in remaining ingredients until creamy. Frost cupcakes and top with dried cranberries.

April 29, 2013

7 Ways to Use All Those CSA Greens

If you were lucky enough to sign up for a local community supported agriculture (CSA) program this Spring and Summer, you've probably gotten one or two baskets and noticed a theme with the contents:

GREENS! They are a staple of Spring CSAs and the varieties are endless. They are one of my favorite things about these weekly baskets. They can also be one of the most challenging since the shelf life is pretty short. Here are a few options for making the most of what you get, especially if you have a house of only two eaters like we do!

1. Pesto

  • Most people know about making basil pesto, but arugula makes an excellent pesto when paired with garlic, walnuts, and olive oil. You can also make pesto from cilantro, garlic scapes, spinach, mint, collard green & olives  - try different types of nuts, cheeses, and oils to compliment flavors. 

2. Blanch & Freeze

  • Chard, spinach, kale, mustard greens (etc) can all be dropped in a large pot of boiling water for 30-45 seconds, cooled in an ice bath, packed in a freezer bag (don't worry about drying, the water prevents freezer burn) and stored to drop in soups, casseroles, and sauces throughout the year. 

3. Quiche

  • Dark leafy greens are an excellent addition to quiches, which freeze fantastically. Prepare as usual, let cool, wrap in foil and place in a freezer bag. Be sure to write the contents on the bag!

4. Marinara Sauce

  • I almost always add frozen spinach when I make homemade sauce. Why not add the fresh right in and freeze or can it for Fall. 

5. Soup

  • If you haven't noticed, the freezer is your friend for keeping greens. Thick soups like potato freeze well and adding a little kale tastes delicious. You can also add just about any dark leafy green to thinner, broth-based soups. 

6. Smoothies

  • Have you had a green smoothie? Don't write it off until you try it! This is a healthy way to use up any of those greens, especially kale and lettuce. Plus, you can make a double batch and freeze it for later!

7. Unwiches

  • I think lettuce is the hardest of the CSA greens to use up. Sammiches are summer staples, but instead of just putting a few leaves in between your bread, ditch the bread altogether and use large outer leaves to wrap the guts up Jimmy John's style!

April 28, 2013

Still Pretty in Pink

With a little downtime on a rainy weekend recently, I flipped through the Prime movies and landed on the 1986 classic Pretty in Pink. Not one of my most favorite 80s flicks, but I couldn't help but notice a few familiarities in Andie, Duckie, Iona, and Blane's fashion decisions 

Today: courtesy of Neiman Marcus. 
I wear your granddad's clothes. I look incredible. 

Denim never dies. 

Today: c/o WarbyParkey

The Original.

Today: Get your very own at Banana Republic 
Doubt Wayfarers will ever go out of style. 

And of course, the pink dress

a la BCBG


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