Sunday, October 23, 2011

Cookie Dough Dip

This weekend I had a girls' night. We gathered at a friend's house and played games. We've gotten together a couple of times and everyone brings a snack. Last time I just took a bag of pistachios. They were popular, but I was on facebook the other day and saw a link to "Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip."

The "friends" on facebook said that it was healthy, so I took a minute to click over. There was also a sugar-free version. 

So I made it for my friends. 

I took the dip with a bunch of sliced apples. It was a hit. Everyone seemed to enjoy it. 

Here is the original:

Here is the sugar-free version:

My changes:
I used slightly less than 1 Tbs vanilla. Because that was all I had. It was plenty vanilla-y.
I omitted the chocolate chips. No chocolate for me. 
I used certified gluten-free oats. 
I omitted the non-dairy milk. It was runny enough. 

For next time, I will actually mix everything without the liquid from soaking the dates, and then add the date liquid as needed. I thought that with all the date liquid it was a little runnier than it needed to be. I was looking for a creamy hummus-like texture. 

Despite the slightly more liquid-y than I wanted, it was delicious. Definitely worth doing again. 

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Farmer's Market

My friend and I went to the farmer's market this week. For a mere $20 I was able to get all this:

a bag of gala apples
2 cucumbers
3 zucchini
5 tomatoes
6 peaches
a butternut squash
a pumpkin
a bunch of kale
a bunch of sweet potato vine (the farmer said I could use it just like spinach)

Door to Door Organics

There is a company here called Door to Door Organics. They actually deliver organic produce right to your door. I had heard about the company a while back, and then was super excited to see a Groupon for half off the small box (called a bitty box).

I decided to use my Groupon last week. (Obviously this is the moment to say how much I love Groupon).

Here's what I got:

2 apples
3 plums
2 nectarines
a bag of purple long beans
a bunch of carrots
a cucumber
a bunch of spinach
a head of green lettuce

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Favorite Things

It has still been 100 degrees around here. (Not today. Today is amazing. Today is gorgeous. Today is 80). So I have still been eating "summer food" = giant salads, whole produce, with maybe a little lentils and rice for fun.

But I thought I would share two things I am loving right now.

#1: Sun-dried Tomatoes

I bought them in a flat box, so they weren't packed in oil, and they were delicious. I sliced them and put them in a green salad, and I sliced them and put them in a bean salad.

#2: Garlic Sea Salt Grinder

Ok, it's the world's tiniest image, but the flavor packs a punch. It's delightful.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Tofu Marinade

Sometimes I buy tofu. And then I cook it and eat it and I think... hm, I don't really like tofu. It's really just flavorless. But I know that I should marinate it or put a sauce on it or do something to make it a little more delicious. So today, even though I didn't plan well, I took the time to marinate the tofu.

First I was using extra firm tofu, so I pressed and drained it. I got out a big dinner plate and inverted a small bowl on top of it. I put the tofu on top of the bowl and then put a small plate on top of that. I put my two very heavy cookbooks on top of that (yes, it was a little precarious) and let it sit for a half hour to forty-five minutes.

While the tofu was pressing I whipped together the marinade. Then I checked the tofu and cubed it up. I dumped it in a bowl and covered it with the marinade.

I let that sit for forty-five minutes to an hour, and then I grilled the tofu.

It turned out great.

Tofu Marinade
1/4 onion, chopped
10-12 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tbs olive oil + 2 more tbs olive oil
4 tbs lemon juice
1 tsp cumin

Heat the olive oil in a saute pan over medium-low heat. Toss in the onion and garlic and cook them gently. In the meantime, squeeze the lemon juice into a deep bowl (or I just my liquid measuring cup). When the onions and garlic get soft and smell fragrant, drop in the cumin. Stir and cook for 1-2 more minutes. Then add the onions/garlic/oil mixture to the lemon juice. Add the extra olive oil and stir rapidly.

Pour the marinade over tofu and let it soak.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Summer Banana Treat

I had a long meeting at work yesterday. When I left, the sign out in front of the building said 101 degrees. And as I proceeded down the road, the radio said the heat index was 110. And it felt every bit of it.

So I needed a little treat.

I had seen this recipe floating around on the internet. So I modified it a little and whipped it up in about two minutes. And enjoyed every bite.

Now, on the internet this has been called "Banana Ice Cream." Don't let that name fool you. It is not ice cream. And it doesn't taste like ice cream. But it is frozen and sweet and good.

Summer Banana Treat
1 frozen banana (I am the kind of person who buys a bunch of bananas and then freezes them when they are black. It's actually happening regularly these days, so I always have at least one in the freezer)
1 tsp carob powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup chopped macademia nuts (I buy these from the baking aisle, they are meant for white chocolate chip macademia cookies)

Put the frozen banana in the food processor and pulse. The banana will break into small pieces (like dippin dots at the mall). When it gets to that state, dump it in a bowl and stir in the spices. Stirring will make the banana smooth and creamy. I like to add the macademia nuts on top, but you could stir them in as well.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Giant Salad

I think I need a bigger bowl!

Salads are my go-to meal these days. I've definitely enjoyed a little bit of farmer's market bounty, and the warm days and good produce just make salads perfect.

I tend to make one-meal, single-serving salads in these enormous bowls that I have. The picture does not do the size of this bowl justice, but it is very large and is filled to overflowing. That's what makes salads the best.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Italian-style Rice Salad

I lived in Italy for a few years. Italian summers are really hot and humid. It's rather like a North Carolina summer, except in Italy most places don't have any air-conditioning at all. This is true of places of business, but definitely true of houses. So all the Italian people change their eating habits in the summer so they don't have to heat up the kitchen (and the whole apartment). One of the common meals is a cold rice salad. This salad is meant to be served cold and is quite refreshing. You could heat up the rice a little before you toss the veggies in with it though. The other great thing about it is how quickly you can make it if you have leftover rice in the fridge.

As is typical with salad recipes, I totally just eyeball this, so this "recipe" doesn't contain real measurements.

Italian-style Rice Salad
Cooked brown rice
Cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced in half
Onion or Leeks
Frozen green peas, warmed up
Olive oil, drizzled over the salad

Directions: Chop up all the veggies into decently small pieces. Toss everything into a bowl. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Farmer's Market and a Tomato

My Farmer's Market haul on Saturday.

1 large bag of green and red lettuce
1 large box of ripe, delicious peaches
2 tomatoes (a lady walked up as I was purchasing my tomatoes, ate one of the free samples and said, "Wow! They taste like tomatoes! Hey, Susan, come try these, they taste like tomatoes!")
2 fatty cucumbers (and the peel on these is actually edible. No waxy build up)
1 bundle of spinach
1 bundle of kale

This is my favorite way to eat the tomatoes. Room temperature (because I stored them on the counter), sliced, with a tiny sprinkle of fleur de sel (my fancy salt).

Yeah, I'm the kind of person that would eat good tomatoes like an apple.

Monday, June 27, 2011

White Bean Salad and a Party Menu

Last week I hosted a farewell party for two of my coworkers. I asked people to bring a dish to share, but I knew I better have some food on hand.

I decided on a menu that would be quick and easy, that I could either purchase or make in advance, and that wouldn't be far off my "green" list, but that hopefully wouldn't look too weird either.

The menu:
  • Shrimp -- purchased frozen and served with a bowl of store-bought cocktail sauce.
  • Hummus with crudite and pita chips. The hummus and chips were store-bought, and I just chopped up carrots, celery, and a green pepper into convenient sticks.
  • White bean salad -- recipe to follow.
  • Watermelon -- cubed up by me.
  • Cream puffs -- store-bought from the freezer section.
Others brought meatballs, deviled eggs, and a fruit tray. I always worry, but there was plenty of food, and everyone enjoyed themselves.

White Bean Salad
This recipe is very flexible in size. For the party size, I used 3 cans of beans.

1 can navy beans (or any other white bean of your choice), drained and rinsed.
1/2 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced in half
1 cucumber, peeled and chopped
4-5 tablespoons olive oil
5-6 tablespoons lemon juice (or the juice from one large, juicy lemon)
2 tsp dried oregano (parsley would also work here)
2 tsp salt
sprinkle of pepper

Put the beans, tomatoes and cucumbers in a bowl. In a separate bowl whisk the olive oil and lemon juice until they emulsify and form and dressing. Add the salt, pepper, and oregano to the dressing. Whisk again vigorously.
Pour the dressing over the bean salad, stir, and refrigerate in a covered bowl for at least 2 hours so the flavors can get happy.

Serve cold or at room temperature.

This is also lovely served over a bed of greens.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Grilled Veggie Salad

Summertime is a great time for salads. And here in the middle it is finally summer. We spent all of May at 60-65 degrees. June 1st hit 90. Woo hoo!! I love it!

I had some veggies that were looking a little sad. So this beauty is a grilled veggie salad, which cleans out the fridge so beautifully.

Grilled Veggie Salad
Romaine lettuce and spinach
Fresh parsley
Navy beans -- rinsed and drained really well
Grilled green bell pepper
Grilled yellow squash
Grilled carrot

Dressing -- olive oil, lemon juice, and a dash of salt.

Note: I like to fill the bowl with my lettuces and then dress the lettuces. Then I add everything else and pour a little more dressing over the top.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Birthday Dinner

Heather made me a special birthday dinner.

Main dish: Our main dish was veal using this recipe from Epicurious. I don't think our veal would actually be considered chops, because they didn't have bones. But they turned out delicious with the rosemary and garlic marinade/sauce.

Side dish: Fried Rice using this recipe from Epicurious. Yes, we did try to find duck, but the meat guy at the grocery store said they only sell whole duck, which we did not want to deal with. So we just left out the duck.

Salad: Basil and Tomato Salad using this recipe from Epicurious. We liked how this salad sounded the best. We replaced the arugula with romaine lettuce and spinach. Personally, I would change the proportions on the dressing. I like an even oil/lemon juice ratio.

Dessert: Plum, cherries, and blackberries. The cherries were delicious and perfectly ripe. I thought the blackberries were tasty, but Heather thought they were a little tart. The plums weren't ripe enough and were too hard for my liking. I realized the next day that I should have taken them out of the bowl and grilled them really quick. It only would have taken 5 minutes on my George Foreman.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Pasta with Pea Pesto

On Sunday, Heather and I tried a new recipe. I found this one through Tastespotting, and followed the recipe almost exactly.

Pasta with Pea Pesto

1 pound linguine **I used Deboles Gluten Free Penne**
1/4 cup walnuts plus more for garnish
1 cup peas **I used frozen peas, that were slightly warmed in the microwave**
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tbs fresh basil plus more to garnish
3 tbs fresh parsley
salt and pepper
boil a large pot of generously salted water and cook pasta according to package directions.
in a food processor, finely grind walnuts then add peas. scraping the sides as needed. add the olive oil 1 tablespoon at a time and continue to blend until smooth. add basil and parsley and blend again, then add salt and pepper to taste. place finished pesto in a large bowl and add drained pasta, toss until blended and top with walnuts and fresh basil.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Restaurant Reviews

Wow. That was a really long total food rut. I made the exact same things over and over, and when I wasn't cooking, I made the same salad over and over.

But my sister came to visit. So first, I planned a menu. Then I looked up a bunch of restaurants.

Let's do restaurant reviews first:

Heather ordered her usual -- California roll and Spider roll, and I ordered my usual, Nigri tuna, nigri shrimp, a tuna roll and a cucumber roll.

It was all good, fairly priced, and the service was super fast. (A little too fast for us, I felt rushed).

2. Ingredient. This restaurant is focused on fresh organic food. They have a gluten-free menu and are able to cater to food allergies, vegetarians, vegans, etc. Perfect for me.

Heather and I both got a salad. I built my own salad, Heather chose the Cobb. They brought the salads out to us in the biggest salad bowls ever! They were awesome!

It was a great fun place to eat.

3. Nara -- a Japanese restaurant. I have to give a plug for Groupon here. If you aren't signed up for Groupon, click here, and get yourself signed up! I got a Groupon for Nara, pay $15 and get $30 worth of food. Totally worth it.

This was a lovely fancy upscale restaurant. It had a very nice ambiance. Heather decided to be adventurous and order their special -- the Corn Dog roll. She said it was delicious. I ordered my usual. Then we finished our first plates, and decided to order seconds. Yup, that's how we roll. I ordered yellowtail tuna, and it was fantastic.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Black Eyed Peas

On one of the days in my rotation, the best source of some kind of protein is black eyed peas. I spent a couple of months wondering, "What the heck do you do with black eyed peas?"

I got some ideas from my Mark Bittman cookbook, and then I just started throwing stuff together.

Black Eyed Peas
1/2 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 tbs olive oil
1 can black eyed peas
1 tbs paprika
1 tsp salt
2 handfuls of spinach

How I do it:
In a saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook until they are translucent. Add the paprika and stir it in. Drain and rinse the black eyed peas and add them to the pan. Cook until they are heated. Then add the handfuls of spinach and cover the pan. Cook only for 2-3 minutes until the spinach is wilted.

This can be eaten alone, over a grain like rice, or over a chopped salad.