Monday, June 28, 2010

I rock!

Just had to share . . . I biked my butt to and from work today, for a roundtrip total of almost 20 miles! (I spent about an hour each way on my bike, which is about how long my bus/walking commute takes on an ordinary day.) My plan is to bike at least twice per week -- not only will this be great additional exercise, I will save almost $50 a month on bus fare!

Wahoo! I rock!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

bawk . . . bawk bawk bawk!

Dan and I were out of town this weekend visiting his parents in southern MN, and our adventures into foraging for wild edibles continued! I give you . . . "Chicken of the Woods" --

Please note that Dan and I are VERY careful in our foraging, and we pretty much stick to easily-identifiable plants, (raspberries, blackberries, wild leeks, etc.) and the "foolproof four" edible fungi -- those that look like nothing else out there.

Also note that you should never harvest Chicken of the Woods that are growing on any coniferous trees (spruce, cedar, eucalyptus, etc.) because they contain high levels of toxins from the tree. Deciduous trees are fine and safe, though!

I was thinking tonight that the "high" we get from foraging must be similar to the high people get from hunting or fishing -- it's very gratifying, eating off the land!

Here's a small sample of what we harvested:

My first use of choice? Pizza, of course!

(I also used shiitake and cremini mushrooms on the Chicken of the Woods pie, as well as a generous coating of olive oil, some parm and mozza, dried thyme, and a few sliced cloves of garlic. The other pie contains organic tomato sauce, parm and mozza, artichokes, roasted red peppers, red onions, fresh spinach, and Italian seasoning.)

These mushrooms REALLY taste like chicken. Like really. Like my first few bites of pizza were WEIRD. Once I got used to their flavor and texture, I quite enjoyed the mixed mushroom pizza! I bet if you were a veggie that really missed chicken, you could really get into these mushrooms. :)

I'm planning on using more of the mushrooms in a risotto later this week . . . stay tuned for more Chicken of the Woods madness! :)

Saturday, June 26, 2010

what's all the fuss about?

Have you seen a plethora of posts about what people are calling "overnight oats" lately? Looks tasty, sounds tasty, but isn't it just muesli? I thought I'd see what all the fuss was about:

Yes, I agree, a tasty breakfast! Hot oatmeal doesn't sound very appealing to me during the summer, (and frankly, not much during the winter, either,) but this is a creamy, cold, and delicious way to get those whole grains in. I made this bowl with 1/2 cup rolled oats, 1 cup almond milk, a couple dashes of Penzey's baking spice, and a small handfull each of slivered almonds and dried cherries.

What would you add to your bowl of muesli?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

taco time

Tacos never fail to satisfy, do they? (I also don't think I've ever met a person that doesn't like tacos!) Ours last night:

We filled whole-wheat tortillas with home-cooked black beans, (seasoned with garlic, onion, epazote, lime, and a pinch of salt,) fajita veggies, lettuce, salsa, shredded chipotle gouda, and homemade guacamole. I roasted up a big batch of asparagus on the side, because, really, why not? :)

What are your "must-have" ingredients in your tacos? Personally, guacamole is one of my favorite foods, so as long as avocadoes are at least reasonable, we indulge every time!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Last night's dinner was truly an exercise in simplicity:

Jamaican-Style Black Bean and Coconut Cornbread Bake was such an incredibly easy weeknight dinner! I combined the base ingredients in the morning, threw them in a baking dish in the fridge, and then measured out the wet and dry ingredients for the cornbread topping in seperate bowls. All Dan had to do was preheat the oven, stir together the cornbread topping and pop it in the oven! (Additionally, he did also make the greens -- good job Dan!)

This Vegetarian Times recipe will absolutely be a frequent repeat at our house -- not only was it a snap to pull together, it was DELICIOUS! I doubled the amount of jerk seasoning called for, and enjoyed the contrast of the spicy, savory filling against the rich, slightly sweet cornbread topping. Yum!

Call me crazy, but this was definitely worth turning on the oven in the summer heat for!

Monday, June 21, 2010

burgers and pizza

How's this for comfort food?

Dinner Sunday Night:

Homemade veggie burgers, recipe courtesy of Melody at "MeloMeals," (although she's moving her blog, so I'm not linking to the old one,) topped with lettuce, tomato, and guacamole, with sweet potato fries, coleslaw, and a pickle on the side.

Tonight's Dinner:

PIZZA! Why did I make two pizzas for two people? Well . . . I had intended on making pizza over a week ago, and never got around to it . . . and intended on making pizza again this past weekend, and never got around to it . . . so, I had two pizzas worth of Artisan Bread dough to use up, plus a whole host of toppings and cheese! The first pizza is topped with olive oil, parmesan and mozzarella, artichoke hearts, spinach, kalamata olives, and sun-dried tomatoes, and the second pizza is topped with organic pizza sauce, parmesan and mozzarella, onion, mushroom, garlic, oregano, and chili flakes.

Up close and personal:

It took every reserve in me NOT to go back for seconds on either slice! Both pizzas were SO deliciously tasty! I particularly enjoyed the onion, mushroom, and garlic pie -- nice and spicy!

What are your favorite pizza toppings?

Sunday, June 20, 2010

M, Tu, W, Th, F, Sa . . .


I got up a little bit earlier than planned this morning to make sure I had time to make pancakes before church. I'm goofy like that. :) I subbed some chickpea flour for my usual whole-wheat pastry flour, in an attempt to amp up the protein content a little bit, and it worked well! Neither Dan nor I detected a scrap of "beany-ness" about these 'cakes.

The way I see it, if organic raspberries are on sale for $1.99 a carton, organic blackberries are on sale for $2.99 a carton, and strawberries are in season locally, you kind of HAVE to make pancakes, right?

Saturday, June 19, 2010

ode to the taco salad

Meal-sized salads will become a staple at our house this summer, for a variety of reasons: speed of preparation, little to no cooking required, summer produce bounty, etc. I do love a well-planned meal-sized salad, and taco salad might be my absolute favorite of them all:

I sort of destroyed the healthy aspects of this Vegetarian Taco Salad by adding large dollops of both sour cream and guacamole, (but hell, at least the guac is healthy, right?), but really, who cares? This was an AWESOME dinner on Thursday night, and there are still a few leftovers in the fridge! I sense a repeat at lunch today . . . ! :)

What's your favorite salad?

(P.S. I'm in love with Whole Grain Milling Co.'s organic tortilla chips . . . and they are LOCAL, too! Woo!)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

awesomely spicy stir-fry

Those who frequent my blog will note that typically, Dan is the stir-fry chef in our house. He makes a mean stir-fry, but his secret is relying on bottled kung pao stir fry sauce . . . tonight, the "scratch-ist" in me wanted to try my hand at my own stir-fry sauce, and it turned out SPECTACULARLY! Here is my version of Dan's stir-fry, with my awesomely spicy sauce:

Order of stir-fry preparation:

1. Start rice, unless you cooked a bunch of rice ahead of time. :) Press tofu.

2. Make sauce: puree 1/4 cup low-sodium soy or tamari, 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil, 2 tablespoons flax oil, 1 tablespoon chili-garlic paste (use much less if you're sensitive to heat, or more, if you prefer!), 1 tablespoon ketchup (or tomato paste, but I didn't have any open,) 1 tablespoon rice vinegar, 2 cloves garlic, 1 small piece of fresh ginger, and 1 tsp cornstarch.

3. Heat wok. Add peanut oil and heat. Fry tofu cubes until golden. Remove from wok and drain on paper towels.

4. Fry veggies in an order that makes sense. (Tonight, I did the following: onion, mushroom, carrot, pea pods, green peppers. Essentially, you want to add the veggies in order from longest-cooking to shortest-cooking.)

5. Add tofu cubes back to wok. Add sauce. Boil and stir the sauce for 1 to 2 minutes, or until it thickens and clears slightly.

6. Serve! Enjoy!

Stir-fry seems like such a "classic" to me that posting "directions" seems a little silly. Oh well! What are your stir-fry secrets/tips/tricks?

barbecue time!

Appropriately, I really tend to crave summer foods during the summer. Last night's dinner was no exception!

Pulled "Pork" BBQ Sandwiches, topped with homemade coleslaw, are always a huge hit at our house. Even though I don't generally love seitan, I do love it in this recipe! I made a few changes, of course -- I used a batch of homemade seitan, thinly sliced, instead of the prepackaged kind, and also added LOTS of Cholula to the sauce recipe, and a big ol' dollop of honey. (I do prefer my barbecue on the slightly sweet side.) I also find that this barbecue tastes better when made a few days ahead and allowed to sit in the fridge before rewarming. (Also makes dinner prep that much faster when it's time to eat!)

I think the only thing that would have made last night's dinner any more delicious would have been the addition of a few sweet potato fries and an ear of roasted corn! Oh well . . . I'll just have to make BBQ again when corn comes into season here. :)

Sunday, June 13, 2010


I think it's time I invested in a cape. :)

Besides picking 12 pounds of strawberries, I've also been to the Farmer's Market, co-op, Target, and library this weekend, and have been cooking and baking up a storm.

To start, here's the "aftermath" of 12 pounds of strawberries . . .

5 quarts, hulled, washed, and frozen for smoothies, pies, and whatever else:

Four jars of jam, all in the freezer for now . . .

AND, a strawberry-rhubarb pie!

A little soupy, but still delicious.

(My new pie-making motto? When in doubt, add extra cornstarch.)

There's also a quart of fresh berries in the fridge, but they are going to need to be eaten quickly -- fruit at the peak of freshness doesn't last long!

I've also . . .

made a batch of granola:

made a loaf of bread:

(more on the bread later . . . this was actually part of the bake-a-long!)

roasted a bunch of chickpeas:

started dough for pizza crust, steamed and froze 2 pounds of asparagus, steamed and chopped 10 ounces of spinach, made a batch of BBQ seitan, made taco salad filling, washed and chopped 2 bunches of kale, washed and chopped lettuce, made a batch of almond milk, diced and froze (most of) a HUGE papaya, cooked up a pile of brown rice, shredded cheeses for pizza and quesadillas, cleaned the bathroom, cleaned the litterbox, and washed/dried 5 loads of laundry.

I'm tired. :) (Needless to say.) But boy was that a weekend well spent! I love relaxing just as much as the next person, but sometimes it just feels good to get stuff DONE! (And somewhere in there, I still found time to read some and watch a movie!)

Saturday, June 12, 2010

before . . .

Yeah . . . that's 12 pounds of strawberries. Oh yum.

Stay tuned for the "after" . . . coming soon!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

yoga woes

As you know, I have really been working harder this year to incorporate more yoga into my life. Why? Well, I get plenty of exercise/activity in my daily routine, (lots of walking, plus general chasing around of preschoolers,) but I do very little that works on flexibility or strength. (But I have amazing endurance! It's not all bad!) Plus, I have a super-wonky back, and need to be stretching to keep things moving in-between chiropractic visits.

Enter: yoga. And I've REALLY been trying. Really, but it's been very hard, fitting in 20 to 30 minutes several days per week.


I feel like I've tried it all -- doing yoga during my break at work, writing it down on my calendar "to do" list, getting dinner prepared ahead of time so I can practice while dinner is in the oven, etc.

But it's not really working. I am often too tired to do yoga during my break at work, (and yoga just makes me sleepier,) and when I get home, I'm often so incredibly hungry (even after a couple of snacks mid- and late-afternoon,) that the thought of delaying dinner 20 or 30 minutes seems like torture.

Today, I woke up early and did yoga first thing this morning. And it wasn't that bad.

Truthfully, I'm really not a morning person . . . AT ALL. And I admit, the first ten minutes of the practice felt like complete torture. And my muscles were so tight from being inactive while sleeping, I didn't feel like I had that great of a practice. But once I got going, the practice felt better, and by the end, I was happy that I had rose early.

Maybe this will be the solution to my yoga woes? Maybe. Hopefully! Any suggestions/ideas are welcome!

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Single Girl Salad

First, dinner Tuesday night:

I made another round of "Chile-Cornmeal Crusted Tofu," from VCON, with sides of roasted blue potatoes and steamed sugar-snap peas (tossed with a little butter, salt, and pepper.) I STILL had plenty of breading left, but since it's been sitting in the fridge so long, I decided to toss it. Next time, I'll probably cut the breading recipe in half, but still use two packages of the 'fu!

And now . . . the Single Girl Salad!

Dan's out of town until Sunday night, (he and his brother went canoeing in southern MN,) so I'm totally on my own for the rest of the week. Other than working my way through a pile of leftovers in the fridge, I planned a couple of fun meals for myself -- Greek salads, full of my favorite veggies (and FETA!), and Sweet and Sour Tofu, which I LOVE but Dan doesn't care for.

I've decided that romaine might be my favorite salad green. Why? It's crisp and crunchy, substantial enough to stand up to a pile of veggies, and flavorful but not overly-assertive. What's your favorite salad green?

Monday, June 07, 2010

lazy Sunday

Dan and I were uber-productive both Friday night and almost all day Saturday this past weekend, so when we found ourselves on Saturday night with "nothing to do," we jumped for joy!

A lazy Sunday was such a pleasant surprise!

First thing we did? We SLEPT IN. Now, I know this might not seem like a huge deal, but I can't begin to remember the last time I've slept past 8 am . . . EVER. Know what time I woke up yesterday morning?

10:00!!!! WOW!

First order of business? Coffee. Second? Pancakes!

I made whole-wheat lemon-ricotta pancakes, and they turned out beautifully fluffy, lemony-delicious, and were heavenly topped with tons of fresh fruit and a drizzle of pure maple syrup.

After cleaning up the kitchen, we headed over to Theo Wirth park (which is located in Minneapolis!) for a nice, long walk. I feel very lucky to have this beautiful of a park within biking distance of my apartment!

After our walk, we were both hungry, so Dan suggested we get ice cream. Yum!

I ordered the "Hot Grin" sundae from Sebastian Joe's, which was a scoop of vanilla ice cream with hot fudge, hot caramel, salted mixed nuts, and whipped cream. OH BABY! I love the salty-sweet combination, but this one was almost too much for me . . . Dan had to help me with the last couple of bites.

When we got home, we lounged around on the couch and watched a movie. I don't think I've watched a movie in a month!

After the movie, it was time for dinner:

I made Herbed Ricotta Tart, with sides of roasted asparagus and salad. This was a delicious, EASY recipe! Wahoo! I did make a few modifications, (I used homemade pizza dough instead of the crud in a can, I didn't precook the green onions, etc.,) but this will definitely be a repeat at our house!

Hope you enjoyed your weekend, too!

Saturday, June 05, 2010

on work.

First, here's last night's dinner:

A nice, big bowl of beans and rice was in order, after a seemingly long work week! Dan and I have been eating huge quantities of black beans lately -- I feel like I just cooked up a huge batch, but I took the last two jars out of the freezer last night! Must buy more. :)


I really don't blog much about my "other life" (i.e., as a preschool teacher,) for a number of reasons -- this is a food blog (mostly,) I want to keep some confidentiality in my life, I can't (and won't) plaster pictures of other people's children on the internet, etc. BUT, I can tell you about something exciting we've been up to lately!

A few weeks ago, I noticed some rogue milkweed growing up through the woodchips on our playground. I kept a close eye on it, not really drawing much attention to it, until I noticed a TON of these:

Monarch eggs! I freaked out! (Literally, when I noticed them, I shouted, "Jackie! We've got eggs!") The kids all ran over and were totally and completely excited that we might have baby caterpillars, and eventually pupae and butterflies! We got busy:

Here's our awesome sign:

I quote from the kids, "Don't touch the eggs, please! Caterpillars are growing."

We've been protecting our milkweed like mother bears:

The sticks and yarn have since blown down in a thunderstorm, but the kids are busy devising some other plan for protecting their eggs.

Why all the hard work? 'Cause now . . .

Yessssss . . . we've found about a half-dozen caterpillars! I'm convinced there are more, since so many of the eggs have clearly hatched, but I think they have been hiding down in the woodchips, and coming up just to eat. We shall see . . . I'm hoping they will get bigger and bigger, and eventually become butterflies!

I spent some time browsing Google images when we first found the eggs, so we have a set of picture cards in our classroom, describing the whole life-cycle. The kids have learned the word "metamorphosis," and say it like they are silly TV announcers or something. We have been reading poems and stories about caterpillars and butterflies, the kids have been wearing shirts to school with butterflies on them on purpose, I took tons of pictures of different butterflies on my hiking and camping adventures these past couple of weeks, and I want to get ahold of a couple of body pillow cases, so the kids can pretend to be pupae. We're butterfly crazy! Woo!