Individualized Egg Tarts

My mother in law made a delicious herbed tomato and roasted garlic tart from Smitten Kitchen when she was in town this fall so we had extra puff pastry sheets in our freezer. I spotted them on the perfect day when the kids were happily playing together by themselves in the tent where I could see them. This meant I had time to think about a way to use them that we would all enjoy for lunch. Our littlest, Luisa, loves eggs so the breakfast puff pastry concept was launched. The nice thing about these little egg tarts is you can make them anyway you want. We had breakfast sausage and spinach around to add but you could do any cooked or roasted vegetable with or without a meat (see the bottom of this post for my combination ideas). I also was able to take mine out earlier so my egg was over medium while Elena and Luisa’s yolks were cracked and fully cooked. Individualized shared meal ideas are some of my favorite go-to meals mostly when they are quick like this was. They got a big stamp of approval from Luisa who ate hers in record time.  I doctored mine up with Trader Joe’s Sambal Matah Indonesian salsa for added flavor and spice. Another salsa that would be good to top them with is Frotera’s Chipotle Salsa made with roasted tomatillo and garlic for a smoky fresh spice flavor (my new favorite obsession). These were so good and fun for the kids that I’ll be making different variations for Luisa’s first birthday dinner and serving them with a side of fresh fruit, salad and cake.

Individualized Egg Tarts

Must Have Ingredients

  • Frozen Puff Pastry Sheets (I used Peppridge Farms puff pastry sheets) –I cut one sheet into 4 egg tarts so the full box should make 8
  • 8 eggs

Optional Toppings

  • ~1 cup spinach, chopped
  • Cooked veggies (peppers, onions, musrhooms zucchini or broccoli all come to mind as variations to try)
  • Breakfast meat (Canadian bacon, ham, prosciutto, cooked breakfast sausage or bacon), chopped
  • Trader Joe’s Sambal Matah Indonesian salsa or Frotera’s Chipotle Salsa or other salsa or hot sauce to top
  • Cheese (feta, goat or manchego would be my choices)

Directions

  1. Thaw the pastry sheet at room temperature until its easy to handle (20-40 minutes)IMG_1971
  2. Unfold the pastry sheets on a lightly floured surface and cut them into four pieces.
  3. Bend the sides of the puff pastry pieces up to make a shell so the egg doesn’t spill out
  4. Scramble an egg and put it in the pastry shell or crack it into the shell if you want it sunny side up
  5. Top with any meat, vegetables or cheese you desire
  6. Bake at 400 degrees for 12-20 minutes until the pastry sheet is lightly golden and the egg FullSizeRenderis cooked to your desired consistency
  7. Plate and top with salsa or serve plain

Egg Tart Combination Ideas: 

  • ham, broccoli and cheddar cheese
  • prosicutto, arugula and manchego cheese
  • bell pepper, spinach and goat cheeseFullSizeRender (1)
  • mushroom, parmesan and sausage
  • tomato, basil and bacon

Dairy Free Mac

I’m always trying to find creative dairy free recipes so our oldest daughter can enjoy some of our favorite dishes (she is very intolerant to dairy and I’m hoping she out grows it). Recently I made an awesome one that I will definitely make again (I can’t say that for many) and had to share. I first saw it when my friend Ashley posted it on Facebook from Bold Vegan’s blog. The title was  “extra Creamy Vegan Mac and Cheese (not some hippy dippy “cheesy”Mac and cheese).” This catchy title caught my attention as a I love cheese and am not a vegan. Plus, I’ve been wanting to try using nutritional yeast as people say its a great cheese alternative.

What is nutritional yeast?

nutr yeastNutritional yeast is a deactivated yeast sold in flakes or powder form for cooking. It’s a great source of B vitamins, folic acid, selenium , zinc and is a complete protein. If you are a vegan or vegetarian I recommend looking for one that is fortified with vitamin B12. Two tablespoons of nutritional yeast contain about 45 calorie and 8 grams of protein. The recipe below uses 1/2 cup which would be ~24 grams of protein from the yeast.

It produces a cheesy, nutty flavor that was great in our recipe. You can use a few tablespoons to add creaminess to sauces, soups or mashed potatoes (I plan to start doing this) or you can add in more for a cheesy texture.  I’ve also heard you can sprinkle it on popcorn for added flavor.  I found mine at whole foods in the bulk  section and would imagine most co-ops also sell it. For a little over 1/2 a cup it cost me $2.09 ($18.99/lb).

Without further explanation I will let you get to the recipe. Know that my husband, brother, mom  and I all liked it. It was creamy with a nice slight nutty flavor and an added bonus that there were vegetables blended in! We served ours with sesame green beans. I’ll include how I make those below as they are a family staple.

Dairy Free Macaroni and Cheese using Nutritional Yeast

Ingredients

  • 1russet potato, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 cup carrot, cut into 1/2 inch rounds
  • 1/4 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup butter  (for vegan version use Earth Balance spread)
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast (40g)
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons canned coconut milk (full fat is recommended but I used Trader Joe’s Light Coconut milk)
  • pinch of black pepper
  • 1 box (8 oz) of macaroni noodles or elbows  (I probably used about 12 ounces of noodles from a 16 0z box–I didnt measure just poured)
  • Parsley for garnish

Directions

  1. Place potato, carrot and onion in a pan, cover with 2 cups of water and simmer for 20 minutes with the lid on.
  2. While the potato mixture is cooking start your water for the noodles and cook noodles according to the package.
  3. After 20 minutes, turn off heat in potato pan and add butter (or Earth Balance spread f making vegan), nutritional yeast, turmeric and salt. Stir to combine until melted (DO NOT discard the water, keep it in the pan)
  4. Pour mixture into a blender and blend for ~1 minute until creamy and smooth (NOTE: I used an immersion blender and did the blending in the pan it cooked in which was super easy). You may need to scrape the sides down from the blender a couple of times for everything to get incorporated.
  5. Add coconut milk to the blender and continue to blend until mixture is creamy throughout.
  6. Pour cheese sauce over cooked noodles.
  7. Garnish with parsley and serve.

veg mac             veg mac 2

Sesame Seed Green Beans

If you are crunched for time like me you can buy a  bag of green beans to steam in the microwave or if you have more time or fresh green beans sautee them in a pan with a small amount of olive oil. I like my green beans with a lot of crunch so I usually do the least amount of time recommended on the steam bag. Once they are cooked drizzle with sesame seed oil, salt, pepper and sesame seeds and serve.

My sous chefs

Curry-Rubbed Salmon

We were honored to have my Aunt Nancy visit last week and help out with our daughter. As if that wasn’t enough she decided to cook dinner for us as well. Wetook out a handful of my cookbooks the night before and browsed for a new tasty recipe. After browsing many books nothing beat out the recipes we found in one of my favorite books: Power Foods from the editors of whole living magazine.

After reviewing all our options we landed on curry-rubbed salmon with napa slaw, brown basmati rice and sauteed zucchini and red peppers.

It was delicious!! Using the broiler for the salmon kept it very moist which to me is the first key to a good piece of fish. I expected a stronger curry flavor  but it was faint (in a good way) and the slaw was the perfect pairing. The mint and lime flavors were refreshing on a cold February night and perfect with fish. I’ve been eating the leftovers all week. I’ll definitely make it again. The one change I’d make is to add an extra juiced lime to the slaw as it felt a little dry.

Ode to Quinoa

It’s time I pay respect to one of my favorite grains. You may be asking why we need to pay respect to a food…well, here’s why. One it’s a whole grain. Two, it’s a complete protein. Three, it’s gluten free so can accomodate many diets and four, it’s quick and easy to make. Who doesn’t love that. A half cup serving contains ~110 calories, 2.5 grams fiber and 4 grams of protein. I frequently cook quinoa and add any combination of herbs and vegetables to it which is how the stuffed portabella mushroom recipe was created. I’ll put how I made it below but feel free to vary it. The recipe is a great way to make two meals from one dish. I made the quinoa as a side to our dinner Monday and then two days later used it up by stuffing these mushrooms. The second recipe I have been eyeing up ever since I saw the picture of it on pinterest. The fact that it has quinoa, lemon, avocado and cilantro made me know it would taste just as amazing as I had imagined. I will definitely make this one again and I also plan to keep mushrooms around for stuffing when I’m back at work!

Quinoa stuffed Portabella Mushrooms

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cup quinoa
  • A large handful of fresh cilantro
  • 5 green onions
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 6 portabella mushrooms
  • 2-4 ounces of goat cheese

Directions

  1. Heat 3 cups of water with 1 ½ cups of quinoa until boiling (if you are stuffing the peppers the same day you should also preheat the oven to 375 degrees)
  2. Cover and reduce heat to low and cook until the liquid is absorbed (~15 minutes)
  3. Chop a large handful of cilantro and 4 to 5 green onions and add to the quinoa
  4. Season with salt, pepper and a dash of crushed red pepper
  5. Wash the portabella mushrooms and pull the stems out of each of them and set them in a baking dish
  6. Scoop quinoa mixture into portabella mushrooms and top with goat cheese
  7. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until mushrooms are tender. 

Lemony Quinoa and Avocado Salad

I followed a recipe from pinterest: Quinoa and Avocado Salad with Lemon Tahini Dressing with a few changes. I listed how I cooked it below. This can be made in advance with the avocado added right before serving. If served as a side like we did it would serve 5-6.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
  • ¼ cup green onions or chives, diced
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lemon juiced (~1/4 cup)
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • Dash of salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Heat 1 cup of water with ½ cups of quinoa until boiling
  2. Cover and reduce heat to low and cook until the liquid is absorbed (~15 minutes)
  3. While the quinoa cooks prep your ad ins and dressing: chop your bell pepper, cilantro and green onions and place in a medium bowl
  4. To make dressing whisk together the tahini, olive oil, garlic and lemon juice
  5. Once quinoa is cooked add it to the bowl with the chopped red bell pepper, cilantro and green onions. Pour dressing on top and toss (THIS CAN ALL BE DONE A DAY IN ADVANCE)
  6. Chop and add the avocado to the quinoa prior to serving and top with a dash of salt and pepper.
  7. Serve cold

Tilapia a la Veracruz

There are so many joys to motherhood and maternity leave. Besides all the amazing cuddles, coos and fun Elena shares with me on a daily basis I’ve also been blessed to have a lot of my family who live out of town visit. In addition, Elena must know that her mommy loves to cook because she usually takes a long nap or enjoys kicking her legs on her mat which gives me free time in the kitchen. This past week my cousin Maddi was able to come over to meet Elena and join us for dinner. Knowing she is a pesce-vegetarian I wanted to cook fish but with a new twist. Thanks to my husband I had a great recipe cut out for a mexican style fish from his Mens Health magazine. The original recipe calls for snapper but since my grocery store didn’t have snapper I made it with tilapia. Truly, I think any white fish would work great in this recipe. Also, the original recipe has you grill the fish in tinfoil packets but with the rain we decided to bake them instead.

There were many things that I loved about this recipe. First, it was super easy and quick to prepare which will be great for when I’m back at work (It took less than 30 minutes). Also, most of the things it calls for are things I have on hand in my pantry or in my garden. Lastly, and most importantly, all three of us thought it was delicious. The cooked tomatoes, lime juice and cilantro gave it a fresh flavor that mixed great with the hint of salt you tast from the olives and capers. We forgot to add the jalapenos but I would imagine the spice would just enhance the dish. I can’t wait to try them in it next time.

Tilapia a la Veracruz

Recipe adapted from Mens Health June 2012’s Snapper a la Veracruz recipe

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup pitted chopped green olives
  • 2 Tbsp capers
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes (keep these whole)
  • 1 handful fresh cilantro roughly chopped (you could also use parsley here if you had that instead)
  • Juice from one lime
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Fresh or pickled jalapenos chopped (this is optional and we actual forgot to add them in but next time I will make sure to use them as we love spice)
  • Four 4-6 ounce white fish filets (snapper, tilapia, cod, halibut, etc…)

Directions:

  1. Heat grill to medium or preheat the oven to 425
  2. In a small bowl combine the olives, capers, cherry tomatoes, cilantro, lime juice, olive oil and jalapenos.
  3. If you are cooking them on the grill take out four pieces of aluminum foil that will be large enough to fold over your fish. Place a piece of fish in the center, season with salt and top with 1/4 of the salsa mixture. Now fold the foil over so the fish is completely covered. Roll the edges tightly to seal the package. Place the packets on the grill (grill should max out at 450) and cook until the fish is done and flaky (~8-10 minutes)
  4. If you are using the oven take out a 8 x 11 pan and line it with aluminum foil. Place the four fish filets on top of the foil, lightly salt them then top each filet with 1/4 of the salsa mixture. Place the pan in the oven and cook for ~10-12 minutes or until the fish flakes.

Miso-Ginger Salmon with Sesame Green Beans and Rice Pilaf

As my husband and I near my due date (12 days and counting) we don’t have many weekend plans. After an early night on Friday and nothing planned Saturday we decided to see if some friends wanted to come over for dinner. While we love down time we have had a lot lately so we figured why not host a little dinner gathering with Ryan’s best friends from high school. I was excited to have company since I’ve had a recipe for miso-ginger salmon from a friend I’ve been dying to have again and feature on my blog. To stick with the theme I decided to use other Asian flavors in my side dishes.

The original salmon recipe is a Bobby Flay recipe called Miso-Ginger Marinated Grilled Salmon. Since it’s 46 degrees today I decided to bake it vs make Ryan stand in the cold to grill.  I also subbed low sodium chicken broth for mirin as the recipe calls for.

As for the complete meal…My favorite things to eat with salmon are brown rice and green beans (with a close tie for asparagus). To make it fit with my Asian themed dinner I sauteed the green beans with sesame oil then topped them with sesame seeds, salt and pepper. For our starch I made rice pilaf the way my mom taught me. This rice is a staple in our household and can be varied with herbs or vegetables for different flavors.

Miso-Ginger Salmon

Adapted from Bobby Flay’s recipe Miso-Ginger Marinated Grilled Salmon

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup white miso paste
  • 1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup grated fresh ginger
  • 1/4 cup sesame oil
  • 8 salmon filets

Directions

  1. Whisk the first six ingredients together in a small to medium bowl. This will make a lot of marinade and could coat up to 8 fillets. It can be cut in half if you are just making 4 salmon fillets
  2. Place the salmon filets in a glass container that will fit in your fridge and pour the marinade over. Cover and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes (this can be done the day before if you want them to set overnight for more flavor too). I marinaded mine for 2-3 hours
  3. When you are ready to cook the salmon put in a glass dish (or you can do what I did and use a shallow glass dish to marinade then you can use that to bake them). My husband and I love sauce so we actually left most of the marinade in the dish when baking to give more flavor and keep it moist.
  4. Cover and Bake at 375 for ~35-40 minutes.

Sesame Green Beans

This recipe is very easy and measurements are flexible based on how many green beans you’re cooking. Heat a large saute pan to medium, lightly spray with cooking spray. Add green beans and let cook 4-5 minutes. Now, add 1-2 Tbsp Sesame oil and cover the pan to finish the cooking (use more or less based on how many green beans you have, you want them lightly coated). Cook for 5-10 more minutes depending on how crispy you like them. I like mine to have a crunch still so I only cooked them for a total of 10 or 12 minutes. Turn heat off and sprinkle with salt, pepper and sesame seeds.

Whole Grain Rice Pilaf

Ingredients

  • 1/2 stick Butter
  • 1/2 to 1 onion, diced (the amount you add is flexible)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • A handful of spaghetti noodles, broken to ~1.5-2 inch pieces (~1/2 cup)
  • 2 1/2 cups Whole Grain Rice (I usually use Jasmine)
  • 5 cups Low sodium chicken broth
  • salt and pepper to season per taste

Directions

  1. Melt Butter in a sauce pan and add onion, garlic and noodles and cook until onions are translucent
  2. Add rice and chicken broth. Bring to a boil then cover and reduce heat to low and cook for 4o minutes
  3. Season with salt and pepper as desired

A thanks to the creator…

How do you say thanks to a dear friend who graciously created your website for you. Well, for me the answer was easy, have her over for dinner. While she’s the website and design expert, I can be the dinner chef. Kristen has been an amazing friend to me over the years. We grew up in Racine together and became closer as we got older and am so blessed that she lives in the Twin Cities with me. She’s an amazing freelance web designer and developer among many other thing (card player, friend, listener, happy hour mate, pedal pub participant, etc…). The past two months in her small window of free time she has taken on the task of upgrading me from my blog into a website, which would have taken me over a year with many flip out tantrums. I highly recommend checking out her website to see some of her work and get more information. I also encourage all my readers to browse the new site to see all the new and improved upgrades!

Ever since Ryan and I had a date night at Mill Valley Kitchen I’ve been craving their wild mushroom farro risotto. Since, Kristen’s a vegetarian and a fellow mushroom lover it seemed like the perfect time to try this out on my own and low and behold my favorite source, Cooking Light, had a recipe.

Farro Risotto with Mushrooms

I ventured to Whole Foods as I knew they would have some of the more obscure ingredients like mushroom broth. I also found they have an array of dried mushrooms to choose from. After much debate I went with shiitake, partially because I wasn’t familiar with some of the varieties and partially because I love shiitake mushrooms. I must forewarn all readers who plan to make this that soaking them in boiling water as the recipe states, did give a rather unpleasant smell, but know that it’s subtle and worth it as they gave a delicious flavor in the dish.

Another tip to readers. Farro, like most grains should be soaked before using. This is important to help rinse the grain and also, to politely say this, make it “more comfortable” to digest. Mine only soaked for 2 hours since I was making the dish the same night I bought the farro. If you know you are going to make it in advance I recommend soaking the farro overnight.

To finish our meal I paired our risotto with a salad of mixed greens, dried cherries, avocado, feta and poppyseed dressing then we finished our meal with a mini cheesecake and cannoli from Whole Foods. This was the perfect meal to make while Kristen was hard at work since it called for 30-40 minutes of stirring. It gave her time to do her web designing while I stayed out of the way. Our overall consensus was a double thumbs up on to the dish. I would definitely make it again for any risotto or mushroom lover or vegetarian foodie and Kristen anytime you’re craving it again you knows who to call.

Once again, a huge thank you to my dear friend Kristen Angel for all her amazing work on the site. I hope you enjoy the new look and upgraded features. Let us know what you think!

Food of the Month

Cheese, Cheese, Cheese!

If you’re saying to yourself, why cheese? Well, for one, the packers are on a nice winning streak and I’m a proud cheese head and two, because the holidays make me think of delicious cheese dishes and plates.

I started my food of the month off a few days behind but with a great entrance.

Barefoot Contessa’s Mac & Cheese

This was a great dish for a Sunday afternoon. I made mine with Trader Joe’s organic vegetable radiatore noodles and I split my milk (1/2 skim milk and 1/2 2% lactaid milk). I also used a gruyere/swiss mix instead of straight gruyere cheese and it was delicious. Also, I only had whole wheat bread so I used this to make the bread crumbs. Lastly, and this was my mistake, I added 3/4 Tbsp instead of 1/2 tsp of nutmeg but we all liked it. I think I would do a 1/2 Tbsp if I made it again.

From a nutrition standpoint for macaroni and cheese I would classify this one in the middle. It’s not a low fat recipe but it also isn’t an insane recipe with cream and extra pounds of cheese. You could always cut back on how much cheese you add if you want to lighten it up even more.  I found it to be a nice balance that can be paired with some veggies or a side salad to round out the meal.

Another one of my favorite recipes for the holiday season to bring as an appetizer is the

Pesto Cheese Blossom from The Food Network

To make this healthier I always use fat free cream cheese.  You mix the cream cheese with garlic so it will still have a good flavor. I opt out of adding the pistachios since I’m not a big fan of them but I know others who have made this with them. I’ve brought this to a work party, friends party and made it for family and everyone loves it. Plus you can make it the day ahead and it’s Christmas colors.

It’s hard to talk about cheese and not talk about serving sizes. Cheese, in the right portion size is a great source of calcium but it is often over ate. Since it is made from milk it is higher in fat so it’s important to note how much you are eating. I would stick to 1- 1.5 ounces per serving. This looks like 6 dice and while that seems like a lot of plain cheese it adds up quickly when cheese is added to things like pizza, nachos, macaroni and cheese, etc…

Another thing to note is some cheese are a little lower in fat than others. For example, feta, provolone, mozzarella and swiss cheese have less natural fat than cheddar and havarti cheese. Another great cheese is Laughing Cow, who make a great portioned swiss cheese with 50 calories per wedge plus a light version that comes in multiple flavors for only 35 calories per wedge. It is a great substitution for cream cheese or to spread on sandwiches. Another way to cut back on the fat in cheese is to choose ones made with 2% milk. They will have less fat without sacrificing taste and texture like some fat free cheeses do.

Crop Share Box #8

What this Box Contained

Cucumbers, Italian Garlic, Summer Squash, Sweet Spanish Onions, Sweet Corn, Watermelon, Melons, Arugula, Edamame, Tomatoes, Red Grape Tomatoes, Orange or Red Ukraine Peppers, Roaster Peppers, Corn, Eggplant, Basil, Potatoes
Pictured Above
From Front Left to Right: Red Grape Tomatoes, Eggplant, Roaster Peppers, Potatoes, Basil
From Back Left to Right:  Edamame, Cucumber, Tomatoes, Arugula, Summer Squash, Orange Ukraine Pepper, Cantaloupe, Corn

New Recipes & Meals I Made

Crop Share Chopped Side Salad

Rating: Sina: 4
Chopped Romaine lettuce, tomatoes, corn off the cob, chick peas, cucumbers and homemade mustard vinaigrette

Omelets for dinner

Swiss cheese, tomato, pepper, spinach and zucchini omelettes with a side of tomatoes with basil and cooked zucchini.

Jicama Cole Slaw and Fish Tacos (see bottom of post for recipe)

These are my favorite fish tacos. I got the idea of making a jicama cole slaw for the top of fish tacos from a restaurant in town called Chino Latinos. The roasted red pepper sauce is also a great touch. You can also add shredded lettuce or cheese to the tacos but we ate them with just the fish, jicama slaw and sauce. I’m disappointed at how they look in this picture because they taste much better than that! Also, I added cherry tomatoes to the slaw this time since I wanted to use them up.
Ratings: Sina: 4, Ryan: 4

Breakfast sandwiches with arugula, tomato, pecorino cheese and an egg on an English muffin.

Potato and Swiss Chard Gratin

The original recipe is from Smitten kitchen and posted on my holiday blog from last year when we made it the correct way (with sweet potatoes). Since I had swiss chard in the garden and extra garlic and scallions I figured I’d make it with my crop share potatoes from the last box and this box
Ratings: Sina: 4 (delicious but not as good as when you make it with sweet potatoes)

Sina’s Fish Tacos (a combination of three recipes)

Baja Fish Tacos

Recipe from Baja Fish Tacos on myrecipes.com
3-4 tbsp taco seasoning
2 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp orange juice
2 pounds tilapia or mahi-mahi
Flour or corn tortillas
Avocado slices
1 lime: wedged
Directions
1. Combine first 2 ingredients in a medium bowl. Add fish; toss to coat.
2. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add fish; sautee 5 minutes or until fish is done
3. Warm tortillas according to package directions.
I then Served the fish tacos with the jicama slaw, avocados, sauce and have people add what they like.

Roasted Red Pepper and Cucumber Yogurt Sauce

Recipe from Mediterranean fish tacos courtesy Rachel ray, 2008
2 roasted red peppers, patted dry
1 cup fat free yogurt
½ tsp ground cumin
¼ cucumber, peeled and grated
Directions: Combine red peppers and yogurt in food processor. Add cumin, 1 clove garlic, zest and juice of ½ lemon, cucumber and process until smooth, transfer to a bowl.
Add to the top of the fish tacos

Jicama Cole Slaw

Recipe from Jicama Slaw courtesy Emeril Lagasse
1 cup fat free yogurt
3 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp cider vinegar
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp chopped cilantro leaves
1 tsp ground cumin1 tsp salt
½ tsp ground black pepper
3 cups shredded or julienned jicama
½ bunch green onions, sliced thinly on the bias
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
Directions: (great side with the fish tacos or you can put it on your tacos)
1. Combine the yogurt, lime juice, cider vinegar, sugar, cilantro, cumin, salt and peppers and whisk to combine. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to allow flavors to develop
2. When ready to serve, combine the jicama, green onions, and red bell peppers in a large bowl and add the dressing. Toss gently but thoroughly to combine. Season with additional salt and pepper, if necessary. Serve immediately

Food of the Month

I picked my first tomato from my garden last week and was so overtly excited that it’s officially tomato season. While farmers markets and other gardens have had tomatoes fresh for most of July mine are just coming into bloom. Since starting the food of the month I have anticipated using tomatoes and now the time has come! I am so obsessed with tomatoes I don’t even know how to start and can’t even imagine typing all the recipes I have using fresh tomatoes. For one most of the dishes don’t have recipes. Fresh salsa, marinara sauce and tomato soup are things I just whip up and taste as I go. I’m so excited that I have 12 tomato plants this year. I know I’ll have no issue using them and I may even get fancy and try canning some of my salsa and sauce or make homemade tomato juice!

First thing first I want to try to answer a common question that arises.

Are tomatoes a fruit or a vegetable?

This is an ongoing debate and depends on who you ask. Botanists would say they are a fruit because botanically they grow like fruits but the United States Department of Agriculture, horticulturists and most dietitians classify it as a vegetable. I’m not sure how accurate this is but I read this statement online today (also showing the debate has been going on for centuries): “On May 10, 1893, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the tomato is a vegetable and, as such, is subject to import taxes under the United States Tariff Act of 1883.

What’s in a tomato?

One medium sized tomato (3” diameter) has ~ 30-35 calories and is a rich source of Vitamin A and Vitamin C. Tomatoes also contain an antioxidant called lycopene which has been studied for it’s cancer fighting properties. Lycopene protects our cells from oxygen damage which can help white blood cells and may also help prevent heart disease.

Now how to use them. Well if you’re like me then you’ll pick ’em, slice ’em and top them with a dash of salt and pepper or olive oil and balsamic vinegar (I can eat a few tomatoes at a time when they’re in season).
And last but not least…a few great tomato recipes worth listing…

Summer Tomato, Mozzarella and Basil Panini with Balsamic Syrup:

Cooking Light-August 2011
I made these sandwiches for my mom and I when she was in town. While I’ve made MANY caprese panini’s with basil, tomatoes and fresh mozzarella this one was by far the best. The determining factor was balsamic reduction.
Rating: Sina: 5, Becca (my mom): 5
          

Tomato Bruschetta

Ingredients

Writer’s Note: I don’t use a recipe when I make bruschetta but here is the gist, measurements may vary a little

  • French or Italian Bread
  • 2-4 tomatoes diced
  • 1-2 Tbsp olive oil
  • ~1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar  (reduced balsamic vinegar also works)
  • 12-20 basil leaves diced (I like a lot)
  • dash of salt and pepper
  • Fresh grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

Slice bread and toast in the oven on broil
Mix tomatoes, olive oil, vinegar and basil and layer on top of bread slices. Sprinkle each with salt and pepper. Grate Parmesan on top and serve immediately. You can always prepare the topping ahead of time and assemble them on bread later if you are bringing it to a party.
Rating: Sina: 5, Ryan: 4.5

Caprese Salad

Slice tomato and fresh buffalo mozzarella cheese and layer every other. Sprinkle with cut up basil and drizzle with olive oil, balsamic, salt and pepper and serve
Rating: Sina: 5, Ryan: 4.5

Crop Share Box # 4 and 6

If you’re wondering why I haven’t posted about my crop shares recently it’s because we’ve been on the road. We left the day crop share box #5 arrived so that one was enjoyed by our neighbors. Here’s the update and recipes from crop shares #4 (from June 23rd) and #6 (from July 21st). This months past box has been my favorite so far. We’ve almost used everything in it already! The vegetables were very versatile and easy to add to meals.

Crop Share Box #4 

What this Box Contains

Mini romaine lettuce, iceberg lettuce, spinach, salad mix, sorrels, kohlrabi, sugar snap peas, broccoli raab, strawberries, iceberg lettuce, scallions, baby white turnips, garlic scapes (curly green in the front) and salad mix in the back

Pictured (from left): sorrels, kohlrabi, broccoli raab, strawberries, iceberg lettuce, scallions, baby white turnips, garlic scapes (curly green in the front) and salad mix in the back

Featured Item: Garlic Scapes

Garlic scapes are the long spirals that grow from garlic plants. The top portion of garlic bulbs. They have the same great flavor as garlic and can be used like a garlic scallion. Try adding chopped or diced garlic scapes to spreads, sauteed veggies or on top of pizza and scrambled eggs.

Recipes & Things I made from this Box

Well sadly this box didn’t have a lot of new or interesting recipes. The garlic scapes have been added to dishes here and there including egg salad, scrambled eggs, veggie burgers, salmon burgers and pizza. The strawberries were eaten raw immediately after receiving the box since they were so juicy and flavorful. Per usual the lettuce and salad mix were used for everyday side salads with dinner and for work. Lastly, and sadly, the kohlrabi and sorrels went bad while we were gone before we used them. 🙁

Tofu Stir Fry with Broccoli

I started out by following a recipe from my Super Foods cookbook for this dinner but was short on a few main ingredients so I ended up whipping this up from the things I had on hand.
Ratings: Sina: 2, Ryan: 2 – nothing special but fine to eat for one evening

Crop Share #6 (my favorite so box so far)

What’s This Box Contained (same as what’s pictured)

Pictured (from left to right): arugula, summer squash, zucchini, rainbow chard, sweet Spanish onions, garlic bulb, cucumber, cauliflower, green & yellow beans, new red potatoes and green top carrots

Featured Item: Arugula

Arugula is a spicy salad green that has a peppery mustard flavor. It’s great added into salad or on top of pizza, burgers, sandwiches (especially paninis), sauteed with vegetables or added to soup.

Recipes & Things I made from this Box (so far):

Salmon Burgers (adapted from Cooking Light) with Grilled Rosemary New Red Potatoes & Grilled Zucchini and Summer Squash

You can get the gist of these burgers from our high ratings (the highest yet). They were cooked perfectly with great flavor from the honey mustard sauce, onion arugula topping and in the burger patties themselves. I would suggest following the recipes guidelines to make sure you don’t over cook them. Once your grill is heated to medium (ours was at 375) cook them for 3 minutes on each side.
Ratings: Ryan: 4.5 ,Sina: 4.5 ,My Mom: 5

Honey Dijon mustard & onion and arugula mix for topping the burgers

 

Salmon burger with grilled new red potatoes and grilled summer squash, zucchini & cauliflower

Salmon Burger Recipe: Adapted from Cooking Lights Salmon Burger Recipe 2011

Ingredients

  • 1 pound skinless salmon fillets (skin removed) and diced into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 Tbsp Grated lemon rind
  • 2 Tbsp Parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 cup diced bell peppers
  • 1/4 cup capers
  • 1 Tbsp diced garlic scape (you could use one garlic clove as well)
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 1/4 tsp of ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 1 cup arugula, chopped
  • 1/2 cup diced scallions (from crop share box #4)
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 hamburger buns

Directions

  1. Preheat grill to medium
  2. Put 1/2 salmon, 1 tbsp mustard and lemon rind into food processor, blend until smooth. Remove and put in a large bowl. Next, put the other 1/2 of the salmon in the food processor and pulse 6 times or until coarsely chopped. Add salmon to bowl and fold in parsley and next 5 ingredients. Divide mixture into 4 and gently shape into 1/2 inch thick patties
  3. Combine remaining 1 Tbsp mustard and honey in a small bowl. Set aside
  4. Combine arugula and next 3 ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside.
  5. Coat a grill pan with cooking spray and place on the grill for 3 minutes. Turn patties and cook for an additional 3 minutes or until cooked to your preference.
  6. Place 1 patty on a bun and brush the honey/mustard mix on the top of the bun and top patty with arugula mix and serve.

Zucchini Bread:

Source: Cooking Light 2005

Follow the link above. My adaptations: 1/2 the oil (because I ran out), lime zest instead of lemon and 3 times the cinnamon. To top it off I sprinkled a cinnamon crunch on the top. For a very light bread it still had a lot of flavor from the zest and cinnamon.
Ratings: Sina: 3.5, Ryan: 3.5-4 (I think if you look at is as a light bread then a 4.5 but as a zucchini bread compared to high fat breads then a 3.5)

That’s all for now. I still have the Swiss chard, green beans, carrots, cucumber and one onion to use this weekend!

Crop Share Box #3

Even though Box number 3 came three weeks ago I didn’t post yet because I had one more dish to make with its contents. This box was filled with greens and very easy to use although during my excited state from getting more vegetables I ate the asparagus and used the rhubarb before I took the picture. Whoopsie. Once again a lot of random salads were made with this weeks share and aren’t listed below. So far my favorite thing about this farm is that they send a lot of lettuce, spring mix and spinach with each box, which means I always have salad ingredients.

What this box contained

Romaine Lettuce, Saute Mix, Salad Mix, Asparagus, Rhubarb, Baby White Turnips (gave to our neighbors), Pea Vine, Potato Onion, Green Garlic and Bok Choi

Pictured Items from Left to Right
Pea Vine, Bok Choi, Green Garlic, Romaine Lettuce
In bag in back: 1/2 Saute Mix, 1/2 Salad Mix
Things I forgot to picture: Asparagus and Rhubarb

New Recipes I made from this box

Soba noodles, tofu and vegetable stir fry

(Source: Power Foods Cookbook)
This dish was a 2 in 1 since it used my bok choi from this box and the broccoli from the box I picked up this week. A few downfalls came with this dish but were more related to my poor job buying the ingredients. First, I realized that I ate both the red peppers that I bought for this dish in salads this week. Then I remembered that I wasn’t able to find buckwheat soba noodles or any soba noodles for that matter. Ours really turned out to be a “rice noodle, tofu and vegetable stir fry.”
Ratings: Sina: 3, Ryan: 3 (we both agreed it needed more vegetables–ahem…the red peppers it called for– but we liked the asian flavors)

Sauteed Greens with Potato Onions

I decided to saute the greens with diced potato onions and minced garlic in olive oil. I then sprinkled on salt, pepper and lemon juice.
Ratings: Sina: 3, Ryan: 2.5

Crop Share Box #1

This is the second year my husband and I have joined a crop share with our neighbors. We have a full share every other week package and our first box came last week. As a new addition to the blog I plan to share my journey cooking through all the unique vegetables that the boxes contain. I’ll share what was in the box, new recipes I try with the vegetables and other information about the vegetables. To give you guys a better understanding of how the recipes tasted my husband I will also rank the taste of recipes. That way you can distinguish which may be worth trying. Our rating scale will be out of 5 stars.
  • 5 stars: Mouthwatering, when can I have it again? Will definitely make again.
  • 4 stars: Very good, a definite recipe to repeat.
  • 3 stars: Tasted good but nothing special, would make a variation of it again.
  • 2 stars: Something was missing but has potential to be fixed.
  • 1 star: Not good, would never make it again.
After the cold and wet spring I wasn’t sure what I would find in my first box. With much anticipation my neighbor Greta and I went together to find our pick up location and vegetables. After splitting things with Greta here is what our share looked like.

Crop Share Box #1

What this box contained

Sunchokes, Parsnips, Ramps, Overwintered Spinach, Black Radishes, Sorrels, Chives, Watercress and Nettles

Pictured Items from left to right
Ramp, Spinach & Watercress (in bag), Sorrels, Chives
Sunchokes and Black Parsnip in front of bag

New recipes I made from items in this box

Fried Sunchoke chips with Rosemary Salt

Source: Epicurious (from Greta)

Rating: 4.5 stars from Sina, 4 from Ryan

      

Potato salad with Chives Recipe edited from recipes my mom made as a kid and online recipes

-Baby Red Potatoes, boiled then cut into 1/2 inch pieces (I used ~5 pounds)
-Chives, diced (~1/2 cup or to taste)
-Light Sour Cream (~1 cup)
-Salt and Pepper to taste (don’t be bashful)
Rating: Sina: 3 stars,  Ryan  2 stars
I love potato salads with a sour cream base but I think I would add garlic and more pepper next time.

Pasta with Ramps and Sorrel

Combine the following ingredients
  • Pasta noodles, cooked
  • Sorrel and Ramps -washed, chopped and sauteed
  • Olive oil
  • Crushed red pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • salt and pepper
Sina: 3 stars, Ryan: 3

Interested in joining a crop share. Check out Local Harvest for farms close to you.

Spring Pasta: Campanelle with Apsaragus and Pecorino Cheese

This months Cooking Light featured a series of spring pastas. While I love pasta with homemade marinara or bolognese sauces I also love the taste of an olive oil, lemon or other herb sauce and fresh vegetables or pancetta. A perfect dish for spring! To start off the series of spring pastas I made the Garganelli with Asparagus and Pecorino Cheese for dinner tonight since it was quick and I didn’t get home from yoga until late.

Ever since I studied abroad in Italy I am obsessed with pecorino romano cheese. For those of you who haven’t tried it it’s a hard Italian cheese made out of sheep’s milk. It has a very sharp and slightly salty taste and is great for grating on dishes. Similar to a Parmigiano Reggiano but better!

Garganelli with Asparagus and Pecorino Romano

Source: Cooking Light – April 2011
My Adjustments to this Recipe:
 
  • My grocery store didn’t have garganelli noodles so I used campanelle noodles.
  • I added two roasted red pepper chicken sausage (slice and sauté with asparagus)
  • I also increased the recipe to two garlic cloves instead of one
  • We topped with crushed red pepper
Vegetarian version: Make original recipe but sub vegetable broth for chicken broth 
 
 
Buon Appetito!