Wednesday, July 28, 2010

beautiful salads

Inspiration struck! I made gorgeous salads!

This first one is loosely based on an Asian-style slaw recipe I found on a blog:

Green leaf lettuce, shredded, and very finely shredded cabbage, topped with slicecd cucumber, carrot, red bell pepper, sugar-snap peas, green onions, peanuts, and fried tofu cubes. I made an Asian-style vinaigrette, (switching up my favorite basic recipe from Crystal,) which I also used to marinade the tofu in. The whole salad was so crisp and refreshing and delicious! A perfect, gorgeous summer dinner.

My coteacher sent me a link with something like 15 different salad recipes the other day, and I swear to you, I wanted to make every single salad on the list. Here was the first one I loosely copied:

Now, I really didn't follow the recipe at all, except that I did use 6 ears of fresh sweet corn and 4 ripe heirloom tomatoes. It was WAY too hot and humid to cook the corn last night, so I just left it raw, chopped the tomatoes, added some olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, chopped basil and parsley, and a half-log of goat cheese, crumbled, at the very end. Another crisp and refreshing hit! This salad probably won't keep well, though, so find someone cool to give the leftovers to (we unloaded the last 2 cups on Dan's brother, who has been saving my butt lately with Oliver. Let's just say our home life has been disrupted for the last month and a bit due to pest control issues, and Oliver has had lots of sleep-overs at Ryan's. Plus, Ryan always comes over to feed him when we go out of town! Shout out to Ryan!)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

weekend eats

We've had a nicely laid-back weekend -- running errands, doing laundry, hanging out at home and reading, and, of course, cooking!

Monster batch of beans and rice:

I make a huge amount every time, because this dish is so versatile. We tend to have portions topped with shredded cheese (this week, a smoked chipotle gouda,) for lunches, scoops stuffed into tortillas and baked in the oven for burritos, and mountains on top of lettuce with avocado, salsa, and sour cream for taco salads. On its own, the dish is relatively low in fat and quite high in fiber, and a nice way to get some whole grains, beans, and veggies in us several times throughout the week. I had a big bowlful topped with cheese for lunch today, and I scooped it all up with some organic corn tortilla chips. Bonus!

Dan's brother, Ryan, came over for dinner last night and I made sushi!

Huge platter of veggie sushi (cucumber, avocado, and red pepper) for the vegetarians, (Ryan and I,) and Dan went to Costal Seafood and bought himself a couple of small pieces of fish. I made him a couple rolls with his fish, and then sliced the rest as thinly as I could for some sashimi. He was happy. :) Ryan and I dominated the edamame, too!

Leftover buttermilk syrup + stale bread = perfectly good reason to make French toast!

I am EXTREMELY picky about my French toast, and almost never order it in restaurants, because it is almost always awful. My secret tricks? Start with very stale, almost dry bread, (I tend to dry mine out in a 200-degree oven if it's not dry enough on its own,) and let the bread soak in the custard mixture overnight, for maximum gooey center potential. Plus, a half-teaspoon of Penzey's baking spice added to the custard mix just makes everything better!

What are your French toast tips/tricks?

Lately, Sunday night has become pizza night at our house! This first pie is topped with olive oil, heirloom tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, fresh basil, and salt and pepper:

This second pie is topped with organic pizza sauce, red onion, sliced fresh garlic, mushrooms, kalamata olives, and a mixture of four cheeses (mozzarella, parmesan, goat, and feta -- can you tell I was cleaning out the fridge???)

I love pizza!

Friday, July 23, 2010

salad days

I'm in need of some inspiration!

We're getting to the depths of summer here in muggy MN, and I need some ideas. Dan and I have been enjoying meal-sized salads for months now, but our favorites, (Greek, beet & goat cheese, and veg nicoise,) are starting to feel . . . "old."

What are your favorite salad combinations? I'm thinking I might try an Asian-inspired salad with some napa cabbage, veggies, and fried tofu, (with maybe a peanutty dressing?), but otherwise, I'm coming up short.

Happy Friday, everyone!



Here are some of your great ideas so far:
grain-based salads
taco salad (I can't BELIEVE I forgot about this one!)
slaws of all kinds
chickpeas, roasted red peppers, fennel, and onions over arugula with a balsamic dressing
pear/walnut/blue cheese/arugula (again, can't believe I forgot! Yum!)
fruit salad w/yogurt dressing

Keep the ideas coming! Love it!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

feeling crappy? make tacos!

It's only Wednesday, and I've had a pretty rough week so far.

Work has been tough, my back has gone completely haywire (so I haven't been sleeping very well and am in pain and/or stiff all day long, plus I limp like a peg-legged pirate -- arrr!) my allergies are driving me nuts, and it's been hellishly hot all week long. (I'm kind of a melter in the sticky summer weather.)

To top it all off? I had a MIGRANE today!


Dan's at band practice tonight, so I was on my own for dinner. Even though all I really wanted to do was drown my sorrows in a big bowl of ice cream, I did decide I could pull it together enough to make myself some tacos.

Exhibit A:

Whole-wheat tortilla from the Farmer's Market, home-cooked black beans, stir-fried local peppers and onions, local pepper jack cheese, salsa, local sour cream, sliced avocado, and local lettuce.

I feel better now. Especially after following my meal with a much smaller-than-originally-planned bowl of ice cream. :)


Speaking of tacos, the kids and I were talking about how much we all like tacos today, and I mentioned that I don't think I know anyone who doesn't like tacos. Do you know anyone who doesn't like tacos? I'm curious to test my theory!


First, here's that zucchini bread I made over the weekend:

I'm not totally happy with this recipe, but it is pretty good! Folks at work gobbled down one loaf, and Dan and I have been working on the other two for breakfast this week. I'm glad I used a combination of whole-wheat pastry flour and chickpea flours, (2 cups ww pastry, 1 cup chickpea,) but this bread is TOO OILY. I should have trusted my instincts and NOT used the full amount of oil called for in the original recipe. I think I'll try half oil and half milk next time and see if that helps!

To counteract the oily zucchini bread, we had a delicious, light dinner on Monday night:

Mmmmmm . . . beet and goat cheese salads! I made some fabulous garlic bread on the side, too -- brushed slices of multigrain sourdough with olive oil, broiled them until toasted, rubbed the bread with a cut clove of garlic, and added the teensiest pinch of salt. Yum yum!

"Clean out the crisper" coconut curry:

Even though I REALLY didn't feel like curry for dinner last night, it turned out to be quite the fantastic meal! Tofu and a bunch of veggies, mostly from the farmer's market, never fail to satisfy, especially when smothered in the simplest curry sauce on the planet -- 1 can of coconut milk and 2 tablespoons each curry paste, low-sodium soy sauce, and sugar. Spicy, fatty, and satisfying! :)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

little to show

I have had a very busy day today, but I have little to show for all of my efforts! Since I had to work yesterday, today became sort of a "power day" -- errands, cooking, laundry, and cleaning galore! I'm exhausted! I do have one meal to show you, though . . .

Happy, happy pizza. :) (We had a salad, too!)

What ELSE did I do today? Let's see . . . I went to the Farmer's Market, co-op, and to Kohl's (shout out to Christine! Queen of coupons!) to score some new sheets at a deep, deep discount. Washed, dried, and folded three loads of laundry, made three small loaves of zucchini bread, washed and chopped lettuce for salads, washed and pulled the strings off a mountain of sugar-snap peas, steamed some beets, caramelized a pile of onions, made a fresh batch of almond milk, made a ginger-mint limeade, and washed mountains of dishes! Somewhere in there, I managed to squeeze in 20 minutes of yoga . . . it's been a productive day. (This is not including all of the stuff Dan got done today! We're little tornado-people.)

How was your Sunday?

Saturday, July 17, 2010

breakfast and dinner

Since I had to head into work today for a special event, I wanted to do something this morning that would make it feel more "weekend-ish." Enter, pancakes!

I made whole-wheat & protein buttermilk pancakes, (subbing 1/2 chickpea flour for the AP or whole-wheat flour called for in the original recipe,) and topped them with a thrown-together "buttermilk syrup." I've seen this blogged about lately, and was excited to give it a try! I didn't really follow a recipe, (or use all of the ingredients most recipes called for,) but this still turned out fabulously. Dan wasn't sure about the "syrup" at first, but at his third pancake, said, "this is f*cking amazing stuff." I can't imagine how much more amazing the "real" recipes might be! Anyone have a suggestion for a recipe I might try?

Lunch was leftovers on the run, so we were about due for a healthy and fabulous dinner.

Tofu Stir-Fry! This was totally awesome, filled with tons of mostly local veggies and lightly coated in my homemade sauce. This pile of veggies contained local red onion, local carrots, local flying-saucer squash, local sugar-snap peas, red bell pepper, local cremini mushrooms, and local green onions!

Have you ever had "flying-saucer" squash? I had them first in Haiti when Dan and I were there in 2008, and I really enjoy them. They stay pretty firm when cooked, but still have that delicate, zucchini flavor. Yum!

Friday, July 16, 2010

team effort

As my schedule gets busier and busier these days, Dan is often home before me in the evenings. Dinner has been more of a team effort lately! Take this meal, for example:

I marinaded the tempeh, trimmed the beans, and scrubbed the potatoes ahead of time; before dinner, Dan diced, seasoned, and roasted the potatoes, fried up the tempeh, and steamed the beans! Woo! Hot-sauce glazed tempeh never fails to please in our house!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

a happy "whoops"

When I was debating what to make for dinner last night, (I had a couple of meals partially prepped in the fridge,) I ended up combining a few components from two different meals and came up with this:

Totally overkill for a weeknight dinner, but SO worth it! Baked sweet potato with a delightful little sliver of butter (and a pinch of salt,) "Jerk Tofu" from the PPK forum (I bet the recipe is in a cookbook somewhere . . . but I don't know where,) "Messy Rice" from VCON, and kale with garlic, onion, jerk seasoning, a splash of soy sauce, and a capfull of red wine vinegar. MMMMMMMMM!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

life is uncertain . . .

. . . blog about dessert first!

I don't think I've mentioned this yet, but I went in with a couple of friends (Courtney! Crystal!) and ordered cherries, peaches, and blueberries from a local apple orchard that trucks fruit in from Michigan. Crystal and I split 10 pounds of sour cherries, and they arrived yesterday!

First order of business? PIE, of course. :)

Oh. Yes.

I haven't had a piece of real cherry pie in SO long, and cherry pie is my FAVORITE PIE EVER. (I feel very strongly about cherry pie, obviously.) :) Totally worth the 40 minute drive out to the orchard to pick up the cherries!


Mid-July is a fun time to go to the Farmer's Market. I think Dan and I spent over $70 this week! Our fridge is packed with fresh veggies, and several of them made their way into meals this weekend.

For example . . .

Homemade veggie Italian sausages, new potato salad with a buttermilk-herb dressing, and more green salad with more homemade blue cheese dressing. Yumyumyum.

And . . .

Falafel with the usual fixings, and a side of Greek Zucchini Salad with Crumbled Feta. Normally, I don't much care for zucchini . . . I think of it as flavorless, watery, and soggy when cooked. I could see myself getting behind zucchini with this salad, though! The thin ribbons of zucchini and summer squash soaked up the lemony dressing beautifully, and the feta was a nice, salty addition. Yum again!


What kinds of veggies are you enjoying this summer?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

pizza + salad = happy catherine

Dinner tonight was exceptional, if I do say so myself!


Artisan Bread "Olive Oil Dough," topped with organic pizza sauce, local red onion, red bell pepper, artichoke, local mushrooms, kalamata olives, local, hand-rolled fresh mozzarella, local feta, and a pinch of dried oregano. Heavenly.

And Salad:

Romaine, cherry tomatoes, and cucumbers, all from the farmer's market, topped with homemade blue cheese dressing made from local buttermilk, local sour cream, local blue cheese, and some freshly-ground black pepper.

My tummy is happy. :)

(Oh yeah, and there's homemade cherry pie for dessert. More to come!)

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

St. Croix State Park

I must confess . . . our camping trip was less than awesome this past weekend. Don't get me wrong -- it's always good to get away and spend time together, no matter what we're up to, but this was just not our awesomest camping experience to date. Why? Well . . . the weather was downright AWFUL, (hot/sticky/humid and/or raining the entire time, which made it hard to spend time outside the tent, and hard to sleep,) the bugs were maddening, (voracious mosquitoes and ferocious black flies -- UGH!), and truthfully, St. Croix was a "just okay" state park. They had a lovely canoe service which we took advantage of, (and had a great time on the river!), but the park is gigantic, poorly laid out, the trails were BARELY maintained, (like, 12 inches of grass that needed to be mowed,) and I didn't see a single bathroom (flush, vault, or pit latrine,) outside of the campground and common areas, except for ONE pit latrine at a canoe-in campsite that we stumbled on during a hike. Not the most user-friendly park, in our opinion.

Tax/spending cuts suck! I've heard great things about this park from others, which makes me think it's a victm of the poor economy.

Here are a few pictures proving that we did have a little bit of fun!

How was your holiday weekend? Hope you had a little fun, too!

Monday, July 05, 2010

We're back . . .

Dan and I split town this weekend for a short camping trip, and although we've unpacked, done all of the laundry, restocked the fridge with groceries, and all of those other little things you have to do when you get back from a trip, I've plum run out of time to post! Stay tuned . . . !

Thursday, July 01, 2010

"chicken" risotto

I used the rest of the Chicken of the Woods mushrooms last night to make a very tasty risotto:

So delicious! I followed a very basic risotto recipe, rehydrating some dried mushrooms in the hot vegetable broth, before chopping them finely and adding them back in to the nearly finished risotto. The Chicken of the Woods were the bright-orange star, of course, and we all loved this (including Dan's brother, who stopped by to collect his CSA, and decided to stay for dinner!) The mushrooms were less "chickeny" this time, I believe because they stayed much more moist in the risotto than the ones on the pizza did -- either way, it was an interesting texture.

Hooray for wild edibles!