Sunday, June 30, 2013

Butter Bean & Arugula Pesto Pasta

Okay, assuming you made the same Cilantro Walnut Pesto that I did this week and have about a cup of it left over, here's what to do:

Cook up some bowtie pasta because it's the cutest.  As soon as it's done, run it under cold water to chill it.

Mix up lots of that pesto with a can of butter beans (I like the Bioitalia organic butter beans from my co-op, but any butter beans would do.  Lima beans or cannellini beans would be good, too).

Combine the beans & pesto with the pasta and a few giant handfuls of fresh arugula.

This pasta & bean salad is super fresh and green as it can be!  And I can tell you from experience that it's even better the next day for breakfast.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Cilantro Walnut Pesto on Snap Peas

I have a little problem with not being able to weed out useful plants from my garden, even when they're interfering with other useful plants.  Last year it was dill.  This year it's cilantro.

So I cut the tops off of a 4x4 garden bed FULL of cilantro and brought it inside to make something with.  Here's what happened:

  • I peeled 3 cloves of garlic
  • I soaked & washed the bundle of cilantro
  • I zested and juiced an orange
  • I threw the garlic, 1 cup of walnuts, a handful-sized hunk of Sartori parmesan, the cilantro, orange zest & juice, sea salt, and a long glug of olive oil into the food processor.  

  • Then I tasted it and realized I was going to want to eat the entire container of this pesto tonight.  
  • So I packed 1 cup of it away in a canning jar in the freezer.

  • Then I thought about how good this pesto would be tossed with the snap peas in my fridge.  
  • Then I ate a whole lot of snap peas.  

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Cocoa Puff Day

Apologies to anyone looking for information about actual Cocoa Puffs (TM).  

In my head, I call today Cocoa Puff Day.  It's first day in spring that I go out into the garden to stir in all the little bunny poops into the soil.

I have mixed feelings about rabbits in my garden.  On one hand, they ate clear through the bark of my brand new honeycrisp apple tree, so I hate them.  On the other hand, they give me free fertilizer every year and seem to wait by my garage so that anytime I come home, they're hopping down the alley looking super cute.  So I love them.  (Cute + free fertilizer) > (Sad, doomed tree)

Do you see the little Cocoa Puffs?  
I've vacillated over the years in my "cleaning up the garden before winter" philosophy.  Some years I clear everything out at the end of fall so that I have nice, clean beds for spring.  I usually feel very accomplished and organized those years.

Other years I'll feel lazy and just leave all the tomato plants and broccoli stems to rot.  The downside to this is that when pulling soft, cold broccoli plants from the garden, it's hard to get a good enough grip to pull them out as their skin slips right off.  And I've watched enough CSI to imagine that this is what it would be like trying to pull a dead body out of the ground.  Ew.

The past few years I've found a happy medium between the two methods: I clear out the beds that get the most sun so that they're ready for early planting in spring.  But I leave some plants remaining in the shadier beds so that the bunnies will snack on my leftover collard stems all winter and leave behind their little poops.  Win, win!

The next step?  Not-so-patiently waiting until it might be safe to plant!  It feels like spring today, but it just snowed two days ago, so I'm trying not to plant any seeds just yet.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Too Much Mustard

 I'm on a mission right now to clean out my kitchen.  I'm reading American Wasteland and feel a little embarrassed by the number of varieties of mustard in my fridge.  I count 7 now, but that's only because we finished off the last little bit of 3 jars this past week.

It's not just the mustard, though.  I've got a whole shelf of hot sauces and varieties of beans I've never even used before.

So here's what I've been eating to clean out the foods I've been neglecting at the back of the fridge and pantry.

1.  Black beans with millet, pickled limes, cumin-coriander-apricot chutney and harissa kale chips.  (pickled these limes 3 years ago)

2.  Roasted broccoli and carrots with WW Israeli couscous and last year's frozen pesto.  (Just enough couscous left for a couple servings.  Been sitting in the pantry for months.  I also poured a little thinned-out mustard over the broccoli and called it a mustard sauce.)

3. Barbecue pinto beans and chipotle lime Gardein strips over romaine lettuce and carrots.  With ranch dressing, of course.  (Finishing off some barbecue sauce and pintos).

 4. Butternut squash ravioli with edamame and pesto.
(Frozen ravioli.  Frozen edamame.  Frozen pesto.  Cleaning out the freezer!)
5. Chora dal na pooda with barley, saag, apricot chutney.  (The last of the hulled barley and finally tried the chora dal!).

I'll have more to share soon.  I have weird cereal no one wants, urad dal, and so many dried garden herbs.  It feels like Iron Chef trying to plan my meals around these ingredients.

Monday, February 11, 2013

So simple, so good

I intended to make something complex, and maybe just a little fancy-pants, when I put some cubed rutabagas and some wild rice on to boil.  But I got hungry and just ate boiled rutabagas and wild rice with a little fresh thyme and ground black pepper.

It was amazing and perfectly simple.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Banana Sundae

Not quite as good as an ice cream sundae, but the toppings are the same.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Chocolate Fluffer Nutter Cookies

Just when you think Dreena Burton's "You got peanut butter in my chocolate" cookies couldn't get any better, try adding marshmallows to them.

I call these Chocolate Fluffer Nutter Cookies.  Fluffer Nutter sandwiches are crazy and probably no one should really eat them, except maybe as a dessert.  But in a cookie, combining peanut butter and marshmallows seems perfectly reasonable, right?  Especially with chocolate.

The original recipe uses barley flour and they're really good that way, but I wanted to make these gluten free so we could all enjoy them.  So my adaptions are below:

Chocolate Fluffer Nutter Cookies
Adapted from Dreena Burton's recipe

1/4 cup evaporated cane sugar
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 cup millet flour
1/4 cup tapioca starch
1 tsp xanthan gum
3 Tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 handful (about 8) vegan marshmallows, cut into 4

1/4 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup maple syrup

3 Tbsp agave nectar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup peanut butter

Preheat oven to 350 F.  In a mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar, salt, millet flour, tapioca starch, xanthan gum, cocoa, baking powder, and baking soda until the lumps are gone.  Then stir in marshmallow pieces and chips until they are coated in the flour mixture.

In a separate jar or bowl, mix together the maple syrup, agave, vanilla and oil.  Add to the flour and mix until a thick dough forms.  Then drop/drizzle bits of peanut butter (mine was refrigerated, so it was lumps of peanut butter) onto the dough and use a knife to cut it into the dough, leaving lumps and swirls.  Scoop rounded tablespoons onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Bake for 11 minutes, then let cool completely.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Fat on Fat on Fat

You know that 2010-2012 trend of putting bacon on and in everything?  That's what my life has been like the past few weeks, except with coconut bacon.  Perhaps you've already noticed.

Well, tonight I outdid myself and made an avocado and coconut bacon sandwich drizzled with super good olive oil.

This is basically a fat sandwich.  It was incredible.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Pile It High

There is something magical about the combination of ranch dressing and barbecue sauce.  Especially on a salad.  Also with croutons and coconut bacon.  

It's a lot easier to make salads for dinner when you keep crazy good salad toppings like these around.  I've eaten mixing bowl salads three times in the past week.  This one has locally grown baby spinach, chopped romaine, shredded yellow carrots, croutons, coconut bacon, locally made smoked blue cheese, baked tofu soaked in my bestie's homemade whiskey barbecue sauce, and ranch dressing. This is a filling salad.  Be sure you pile the spinach and lettuce high to balance all the rich toppings.

My buddy Jesse says I only like barbecue and ranch together because I'm from Texas, but I think everyone should try it.  I enjoyed this salad while watching an episode of King of the Hill.  Hank Hill thinks you should go prep some salad toppings now so that you're prepared.

His words of wisdom on tonight's episode: "Plan ahead.  Then when stuff happens, you'll be prepared."

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A Salad without a Name

Sometimes the last thing I want to do when I get home is cook dinner.  Especially after a long day, on a night where I eat dinner by myself, it's really tempting to order pizza or pick up some takeout from Kim's Kitchen.  But I'm teaching a class about eating more vegetables this week and one of the benefits of my job is that I get inspired by the things I research and end up eating more healthfully as a result.

So I made this quick and very veggie-heavy salad for dinner last night.  It was kind of a weird mix of flavors, but I really liked it!

"I Don't Know What to Call It-Blood Orange, Peanut, Tahini, Cabbage and Kale Slaw"

2 cups very thinly sliced savoy cabbage
2 cups very thinly sliced lacinato kale, stem removed
1 blood orange, supremed (a.k.a. membranes & pith removed)
1/3 cup roasted, salted peanuts
Tahini Sauce (tahini, tamari, rice vinegar)

Mix it all up.  This would work well if it had time to marinate, but I ate mine all right away.  Yep.  I ate my 5-a-day in one meal.

*Green onions would also be nice in this salad, too, but raw onions don't agree with me.  Cilantro would also be good, but I didn't have any.  Or baked tofu.  Also, it's kind of a pain to cut the membranes off the orange, but it really pays off with the juiciness of the oranges.  Also, I have no idea the proportions of tahini, tamari and vinegar.  Just give it a taste and add more of what sounds good.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

A New Year, New Resolutions

I know I say that my favorite holiday is April Fools Day.  But really my favorite holiday is New Year's Day.  I started planning my resolutions in November, people.  I just love the idea of a holiday that encourages people to start healthy habits and break unhealthy ones!

I stuck with last year's resolutions pretty well.  That is, when I re-read them a few minutes ago, none of them surprised me.  I actually remembered these throughout the year and consciously tried to do better.  I think I'd give myself a B-.  I did great with wearing skirts in the winter (but I discovered I also love black skinny jeans), I went to the gym 3-5 days a week for my mental health, and I met my financial goals...sort of.

I did pay off my car this year (hooray!), but the same day I met my emergency fund goal, I immediately had to withdraw a big chunk to buy a new furnace.  Bummer.  Oh, well!  That's what an emergency fund is good for!  I think I'm still on track to finish paying off my student loans this year and then I'll be debt free (you know, except for that little thing called a mortgage).  Heck yeah!

I could have done much better with integrating more music into my life, though.  I didn't really have a backup plan for when music club fizzled out.  But at least I'm still listening to music most mornings at the gym and I'm working on converting all those CDs to mp3 format.

All in all, this was an okay year.  Short recap of the highlights/lowlights: My partner completed his grant work and released an awesome CD and we celebrated 10 years together, my stepsons reached a major goal by becoming black belts in tae kwon do, I finally ditched my bank for a credit union and I messed up my pinky pretty bad.  Hmm.

Let's move on to 2013, shall we?

I have a lot of resolutions this year, but I think they're all reasonable.

1. Keep in touch with my Texas family more by sending little photos and things about my day to them by email.  When people communicate only every few weeks, it can be hard to think of the highlights or big things to talk about from your life.  But within each day there's always something interesting to pass along- and for me that feels like a more authentic way to communicate.  And then I don't just say, "there's nothing new going on here."

2.  Listen to music everyday.  Yep, even at home.  For some reason I just don't think to turn on music.

3.  Complete a project with Mike.  We both want to learn woodworking, so there might be a new table in our future?

4.  Pay off that student loan!

5.  Print off some favorite photos from the computer and get them framed.  Then switch them out occasionally.  There's not doing any good just being stored away.

6.  Track my personal care routine.  This one's a big one since it involves a lot of items.  Here they are:

  • Drink at least 8 cups of water a day.
  • Floss my teeth every day.
  • Use my neti pot at least 3 times per week.
  • Take my vitamins every day.
  • Wash my face every day.
  • Do something active every day.
  • Do my pinky massage and stretches twice a day.
For tracking these, I downloaded a very simple and utilitarian app called Habit Goal Monitor Pro ($2.00) and I love it.  I can quickly log each time I drink a glass of water and it shows me how I'm doing with a progress bar, recap of the last week, current streak of success and personal best.  I've only been using it for a week now, but it has really helped a lot.  I've taken my vitamins every single day this week AND flossed more than I usually would in a month! 

Note: I do other personal care things, too, like take showers, get 8 hours of sleep, and brush my teeth.  But I don't need help remembering to do those.  

That's all!  I can do this.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

A Lil' Swedish

I didn't set out to make Swedish "meat"balls tonight, but I changed my plans.

I've never had Swedish meatballs before, but after about 13 years of living with Northerners, I have a bit of an idea what they might be like. And I heard several people talking about eating them over the holidays, leaving me wondering if I'd like them. So instead of my usual apricot-tomato glaze for some walnut-tofu balls, I decided to give it a whirl.

I looked at a few recipes online and then ended up winging it with my usual cream gravy recipe (Earth Balance, flour, almond milk, veg. broth)...with some Tofutti sour cream stirred in at the end.  Healthy, huh?

Billie Cat enjoyed this process.  I probably should have stopped him from cleaning out the sour cream container, but he could use some extra calories.  Poor Billie was recently diagnosed with diabetes and just started insulin shots this week.  He seems to be pepping up a bit, but he still has a lot of weight to gain back.  

Anyhow- here you can see the balls after they are baked.  After this, I dropped them in the sauce, rolled them around and then ate them straight up.  I was cooking rice to serve with them, but it wasn't done yet and I couldn't wait.

I know this doesn't look like much.  But seriously- "Meat"balls in gravy?  How have I not made this before?  Bring on the lingonberry jam!