Tag Archives: Light Fare

Romanesco Mediterranean Salad – Foodie Fun

Romanesco Salad 3Wow, now where did October go, friends?  Is it really November?  I can’t believe that I’ve been at the new job for a month already, or that I just finished my first graduate school mid-terms, or that my birthday twin is about to turn one year old (That would be my niece, Izzy-bear.  Yes, she was born on my birthday!).  What a packed year and how quickly its end approaches.  Alas, that also means the end to my local Farmer’s Market, which is about to shutdown for the winter.

I hate to admit that I ended up throwing away most of the produce I’d pick up each Sunday at the market (Told you it was a packed year!).  With mid-terms overRomanesco Head Close Up and finals not quite here yet, however, I now have a weekend or two to have some foodie fun and get my kitchen creativity on.  Yay!  Of course, as the weather is cooling down so are the in-season selections, but it also means those spring-time cool weather crops that I missed are making their second appearance like this little, difficult to find beauty: Romanesco.

I can’t believe I actually came across this lovely piece of natural art, but there it was: a bright green mound of fractal florets surrounded by colorful orange and purple cauliflower.  How could I resist?  It was like when I found those fiddle-head ferns.  I couldn’t wait to have some fun thinking up something fun and new.

Romanesco Head Close Up 2The first step, of course, was to taste the Romanesco.  From what I had read, I knew to expect some sort of cauliflower/broccoli blend.  Considering that it is also more often called Romanesco Broccoli than Romanesco Cauliflower, I was prepared for my taste buds to meet something along the metallic flavor I tend to get from broccoli.  To my surprise, I found Romanseco to have the sweeter profile of cauliflower, only nuttier, but still with the slight bite of broccoli.  If you are a cruciferous fan, I definitely recommend this veggie!

So what to do with the two heads of Romanesco I had purchased?  Since part of Romanesco Salad 2this vegetable’s appeal is it’s exotic appearance, I knew I wanted to maintain whole florets.  However, I didn’t want to just steam the Romanesco.  I mean, I was supposed to be having FUN.  So of course I turned to Emilie’s and my favorite cooking resource:  the Flavor Bible.

Now Romanesco is a bit too exotic to have its own entry in this tome, however now that I knew what it tasted like I flipped to the cauliflower entry and perused the suggested pairings…and at the top of the list, in bold type nonetheless, was…anchovies.

Huh.

Heck, why not? Time to stretch my kitchen skills after such a long hiatus, right? Right!

Romanesco Salad 1Continuing down the list, I determined  a simple, Mediterranean style dressing would be the perfect solution to show off these pretty florets both visually and flavor-wise.  And if I do say so myself,  this Romanesco salad turned out to be quite versatile. I ate it fresh (well, post photo-op) while it was warm, but throughout the week I found myself nibbling on the refrigerated leftovers.  This recipe is readily a main dish, a side dish, and a tapas and can be served warm, room-temperature, or cold. Not a bad deal, I say.

And it was definitely fun.

Mission accomplished!

Romanesco Mediterranean Salad

Ingredients

Romanesco Salad Ready for Assembly

  • 2 heads Romanesco Broccoli/Cauliflower
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, about 1/2 a lemon
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon anchovy paste
  • 2 tablespoons small capers
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat breadcrumbs
  • cooking spray
Directions
  1. In a small bowl, combine olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and anchovy paste, whisking together until emulsified.  Set aside.Romanesco Salad Dressing
  2. Fill a saucepan with 3/4 to 1 inch of water and insert steamer basket and bring to a boil.  While waiting for the water to boil, prepare the Romanesco.
  3. With a paring knife, carefully cut florets from the Romanesco to preserve their unique fractal shape.
  4. Once the water comes to a boil, place the Romanesco florets into the steamer basket and cover.  Steam 3-5 minutes depending on desired tenderness. When finished transfer florets to a large bowl filled with cool water to stop the cooking process.  Drain and set aside.Romanesco Salad Steaming
  5. While Romanesco is steaming, spray a pan with cooking spray and heat over medium. Once pan is heated, toast breadcrumbs for about 2-3 minutes until golden. Remove from heat.
  6. In a large bowl, combine steamed florets, capers, and redpepper flakes.  Pour in the anchovy dressing and toss ingredients to coat.  Add toasted breadcrumbs and toss one more time to combine ingredients.Romanesco Salad Dressing Salad
  7. Serve at room temperature as tapas or a side dish.

Romanesco Salad 5

Watermelon Jalapeño Margarita

Watermelon Jalepeno Margarita 3So here it is: my “angry” cocktail;  the culmination of channeling my anger into something positive through creative expression.  Hmmm. That was a mouthful, wasn’t it?  Excuse me while I giggle.

Okay. I’m back.

You know, there is something to be said about anger: it’s not really all bad.  Yes, it is a negative rather than positive emotion, but the impact it leaves on you depends on how you choose to handle it.  Take this Watermelon Jalapeño Margarita, for instance. Rather than let my Inner Critic (She is such a you know what!) goad me into wasting my energy in the elaborate plotting of my revenge, which, after all, would only leave me exhausted, depressed and reaching for a Xanax with a pounding migraine, I channeled that precious energy to re-charge my sorely depleted and neglected creativity stores.

So how do I deal with my anger when I’m not re-focusing it towards a cocktail or other project? Well, it’s a pretty deliberate exercise, but at it’s most simple I run through the following steps which I’ve developed out of my therapy sessions.

Step 1 , of course, is to realize that I am angry!

Step 2 is to take a deep breath breath.Watermelon Jalepeno Margarita 1

Step 3 is where I rate my anger. My scale goes from annoyed to wrathful harpy.

Step 4 is where my Inner Critic tries to push her way in as I do an internal Q&A. Why am I angry? What’s the real emotion under my anger? (Refer to my Jalapeño Simple Syrup recipe where I mention that anger is a response to another emotion.)

At Step 5, based on my answer to Step 4,  I get to decide if my anger is justified or if I “artificially” built it up with what they call “catastrophic thinking”.

Resolution takes place at Step 6. If I decided that my anger is justified, I acknowledge it. If it’s not, I call my Inner Critic out and flick her off my shoulder.  Then I determine what I am going to do to re-channel the negative energy such as making today’s cocktail. My favorite, though, is lacing up my running shoes and take a loop or two around my favorite trail…or kickboxing if I need to punch something.

And you know what? Even though I still get fleeting images of revenge (Can’t help it, he hurt me really bad), I’m not so angry anymore.

Which is great, because the weather man said this weekend was summer’s last hurrah here in the D.C. area and I want enjoyed it with a smile rather than a scowl. Cheers!

Watermelon Jalepeno Margarita 4

Watermelon Jalapeño Margarita

serves 1
Ingredients
  • 6 ounces watermelon juice
  • 1-2 ounces tequila
  • 1 tablespoon jalapeño simple syrup
  • 1/4 of a fresh lime
  • crushed ice
  • optional: cayenne lime salt  
  • Garnish options: watermelon cubes, fresh jalapeño slices,  fresh mint sprigs, lime wedges
Directions
  1. Optional – Rim a large glass (14-16 ounces) with the cayenne lime salt. You can do this by pouring the salt onto a small plate, wetting the rim of the glass with a lime wedge, then carefully dipping the rim into the salt.
  2. Fill your glass about halfway with crushed ice.
  3. Pour watermelon juice, tequila, and jalapeño simple syrup over the ice and stir.
  4. Squeeze the juice out of lime wedge into the margarita. Stir again and serve.

Watermelon Jalepeno Margarita 5

 

Watermelon Agua Fresca, or More Simply, Watermelon Juice

watermelon water 2Those that know me know that saying I love color is an understatement. I am all about color (For the record, my favorite is orange).  Give me bold, bright, and daring hues! For that reason, I’m not too upset about summer sticking around just a little longer. My summer wardrobe is vibrantly more colorful than my fall and winter, especially in the shoe department.  As much as I love my leather riding boots, I will be sad to put away my stop light yellow, watermelon pink, lime green, and neon orange stilettos and peep toes.

And don’t get me started on my running gear.  I have three half H Half Mi 7 Smlmarathons lined up between now and next spring. Training starts on the 15th and all I have to look forward to over the fall and winter are black leggings, black leggings, and oh, more black leggings. You think my work shoes sounds crazy, you should see what I run in during the summer months! Oh wait, running in the summer is crazy enough, huh? I totally agree. That’s why when Sue asked me to sign up for some summer races, I told her she was una chica loca!

She kept pressing me, though. “C’mooooonn, chiiiica! Just a 5K?” To which I responded rhetorically, “Do you know how hot and humid it’s GloStick Group - smudgegoing to be out there?!” Then she found an evening run…with glow sticks…that benefited a cancer charity.  I caved.  Silly me also thought, what’s 3.1 miles after running 13.2? Well, in the heat…3.1 miles feels like a spring half marathon. That’s where this delicious, hydrating (and pretty!) watermelon juice comes in. (BTW how many drinks this pretty are actually good for you??)

Like many of you, there is always watermelon in my house during the summer.  It’s one of the few foods I can handle on hot days. Then, during our family vacation I came across a blurb in Fitness Magazine’s  June issue about watermelon water.  Apparently it’s been fashionable this summer, but this was the first time I had heard of it. Watermelon, water? Sounds tasty to me!

Apparently it’s great for muscle recovery after a hard workout, not just re-hydration,  too! Watermelon has an amino acid, L-citruline (also watermelon water 4found in onions and garlic), that improves oxygen delivery to your muscles.  A study conducted by the Technical University of Cartagena in Spain further explained that L-citrulline does this by helping remove lactic acid (the stuff that causes your soreness) at a faster than normal rate, hence a quicker recovery period.  Did I mention what a pretty pink this watermelon juice makes?

So, summer, as long as you’re sticking around, let the colors and watermelon juice keep on coming!

watermelon water 1

 

Watermelon Agua Fresca

Ingredients
  • 4 cups watermelon, cubedwatermelon water cubes
Directions
  1. Pour cubed watermelon into a blender and puree.
  2. Place a mesh sieve or a cheesecloth lined colander  over a large bowl and pour watermelon puree through the sieve/colander.watermelon water straining
  3. With a flat spatula, gently push the watermelon solids to help squeeze out more watermelon juice
  4. Repeat steps 2 and 3, once or twice more if desired.
  5. Discard watermelon solids and pour juice into a pitcher. Refrigerate to chill.watermelon water straining 2
  6. Watermelon juice will separate. When ready to drink, shake or stir before serving.

Bonus Recipe: Watermelon “Soda”

My favorite way to drink watermelon juice like this: Over crushed ice, fill half to 3/4 a glass with watermelon juice. Top off with sparkling mineral or soda water (preferably lime  or other citrus flavored).  Squeeze in some fresh lime juice and serve. So refreshing!

 P.S. Stay tuned for the watermelon margarita I’ll be sharing in the near future!

~Ruth

Tomatillo Watermelon and Cherry Tomato Salad

tomatillo watermelon salad 1As I said to my friends yesterday, “End of summer my patootie!” Seriously.  On the last day of August, after weeks of pretty delightful weather, the temperature soared to 90 by 10 A.M. By the way, I am not taking into account the humidity and how hot it got later on.  Needless to say, my Sunday morning run went pretty miserably.  Happily, earlier that morning I had visited the farmers market and waiting for me at home was a big ol’, thirst quenching watermelon.

Wishing I had a pool to jump into, but settling for a glass of cold water instead, I started thinking about what to do with my watermelon as I tomatillo watermelon salad 6allowed my body to cool down.  Of course I did not want to repeat something my friends or I had already done, but I also wanted something that could serve as a last minute dish for a Labor Day picnic or barbecue (I, myself, am I poor planning procrastinator).  That’s when my eyes landed on the cardboard container of tomatillos. Hmmmmm.

Now I had originally planned enchiladas verde for my tomatillos. However, as I peeled back the papery husk of one fruit I remembered one of the market vendors last year telling me they were like green tomatoes, only not has hard. Pondering the fruit in my hand, I thought of how pretty the green and pink would look together. First things first, though.  Would I like the taste of a raw tomatillo?

Cutting myself a little wedge, my first bite met a firm, pleasantly textured flesh…followed by quite a tartness!  Thought not as pucker inducing as a tomatillo watermelon salad 4lemon it was still pretty acidic. I don’t think I’ll ever eat a raw tomatillo on its own again, but its sour crunch was just the thing to juxtapose my sweet, melt in your mouth watermelon.

Now that I had my stars, I decided to add some beautiful little cherry tomatoes, which had a flavor and texture right in the middle of the tomatillos and watermelon. To round out the flavors, I drizzled on some of the honey mint syrup I use for my mint-juleps (I also used it last year on the watermelon wedges I brought over to Emilie and Tom’s for the 4th of July).  For the final flourish, I cut some fresh mint leaves from my garden and sprinkled it over the vibrantly colored salad.  Then I placed the salad in the fridge and went to clean my post-run self up.

With the afternoon sun shifted to the front of the house, for lunch I tomatillo watermelon salad 5parked myself on the now shaded back deck. Though still warm, a gentle breeze (a hint of the coming storm) helped keep things pleasant enough to enjoy myself outside.  It was time to dig in! I took a tooth pick and speared me some salad.

Ooohh, yeeessss…crisp, cool deliciousness.  I had tamed the tomatillo.  Though still sharp, its contrast livened up the watermelon. In return, the watermelon and mint helped mellow out the tartness of the tomatillo. I love it when a plan comes together, don’t you?

Have a relaxing “last day” of summer.  Happy Labor Day!

tomatillo watermelon salad 2

 

~Ruth

 Tomatillo Watermelon and Cherry Tomato Salad

 Ingredients

tomatillo watermelon salad ingredients

  • Tomatillo(s), sliced into thin wedges
  • Watermelon, diced medium to small
  • Cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • Mint leaves, chiffonade
  • Honey mint syrup*
Directions

1. In a bowl, add tomatillos, watermelon, and cherry tomatoes in the following portions: 1:2:1.

2. Add honey mint syrup and mint as desired. The amount used will depend on your tastes as well as the size of the salad you are making. (See Note).tomatillo watermelon salad mixing

3. Toss ingredients and cover with plastic wrap. Chill in refrigerator for about an hour to allow the flavors to blend.

4. When ready to serve, toss one more time to re-distribute the watermelon juices.

*Honey mint syrup

Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup wildflower honey
  • 4-6 large mint leaves, hand torn
Directions

1. Heat water in a microwave safe bowl. Approximately 1 minute on high.

2. Add honey to hot water and stir until dissolved into a simple syrup.Blueberry Honey Mint Julep Dissolving Honey

3. Muddle torn mint leaves in the honey simple syrup. Let mint steep at east 8-10 minutes. When finished steeping, strain mint leaves from the syrup.Blueberry Honey Mint Julep Muddle Mint

 

Note:
I made 1 cup of salad. My ingredients came out as follows:
1/4 cup tomatillos
2/4 cup watermelon
1/4 cup cherry tomatoes
1 tablespoon mint
1 tablespoon honey mint syrup

 

Dill and Green Apple Chicken Salad

Is it safe? Can it be true? Spring, is that you?

It is gorgeous out this week. Sunny, warm (not unbearably hot), with flowers blooming, and the first whiff of cut grass in the air. Oh spring, you have come with all your glory and I beg you to stay a couple of weeks – a month or 2 even! Don’t let summer overwhelm you with her oppressive heavy humidity.

Every year when spring rolls around I loudly declare that this – THIS – is my favorite season of all. I may also say the same thing come autumn, but that’s just lust for cooler temps and desperation speak, spring is the one I truly love. And this year has been especially wonderful because I have the space to actually celebrate spring with a little gardening of my own.

Fresh spinach and arugula anyone?

#green_thumb

A post shared by Emilie Schulz (@gingerlicious07) on

Come spring I find myself craving the ease and portability of a simple chicken salad or tuna salad. Delicious over lettuce and veggies for a light lunch after working in the yard, great with crackers as a low-mess shareable dish on a picnic, and a perfect portable pita pocket* sandwich enjoyed outside during your lunch break. This recipe makes a lot of food and would be really wonderful at an outdoor potluck or BBQ (maybe this Memorial Day weekend even!), but even with just Tom and I eating it, it’s stayed good for over a week, and was great to have on hand for last minute lunches for both of us. The dill brings a great light freshness to the salad that is complimented well by the sour bite of the apple, which also adds a satisfying crunch along with the celery.

Dill and Green Apple Chicken Salad 1

*We definitely need more alliteration in our lives.

Dill & Green Apple Chicken Salad
4 chicken breasts
1½ dry white wine
Poaching liquid aromatics (1 large clove, 3-4 cloves of garlic, 2 bay leaves)
4  stalks of celery
2 large shallots
1 x-large green apple
1 cup mayonnaise
½ cup sour cream
juice of 2 large lemons
¾ chopped dill
salt & pepper

1)     Combine white wine, bay leaves, 1 shallot cut in half, and 3-4 crushed garlic cloves with enough water to cover all 4 chicken breasts. Bring water to a boil and reduce to a low simmer. Cook for 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the thickness of the chicken breasts you are using. Remove from poaching liquid and let cool completely.

Dill and Green Apple Chicken Salad - cooking the chicken

Dill and Green Apple Chicken Salad - poach chicken

2)    Once cool dice the chicken in cubes about a quarter inch in size and place in a large bowl.

Dill and Green Apple Chicken Salad - dice the chicken

3)     Next chop up your celery, shallots, and green apple in a size well matched with the diced chicken. Toss chicken and chopped veggies/apple together.

Dill and Green Apple Chicken Salad - prep the veggies

4)     In a large measuring cup or medium sized bowl whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream, lemon juice, chopped dill, and salt & pepper to taste. Add to the chicken mixture, stirring well to coat. Cover and let rest overnight to really let the flavors meld.

Dill and Green Apple Chicken Salad - chop the dill
Dill and Green Apple Chicken Salad - dressing
Dill and Green Apple Chicken Salad - mix the ingredients

5)     Eat. Eat as a sandwich. Eat on crackers (Tom’s preferred method). Eat on top of spinach. Or, like me, eat it right out of the bowl… sooooo good!

Dill and Green Apple Chicken Salad 2

Baked Cod with Tomatoes & Thyme

I was looking over my calendar the other day, and realized that I have an uncharacteristically busy summer ahead of me. Tom and I will be hosting his parents for about a week at the end of May, we have vacation with my mom  and sisters’ families in Tennessee later in the summer, a weekend trip to NYC to meet up with my grad school friend Audra, a potential trip out west to help my friend Gill pack for her upcoming move, and a trip up to Minnesota in August to celebrate my dad’s retirement. All that plus the fun weekend things I want to do around here, like going to cheer on Ruth while she run’s her marathon on Sunday (Go Ruth! Go!!) and a planned  lavender picking and wine tasting Saturday in June. Somewhere in there, I should probably do the laundry too…

Baked Cod and Tomatoes 3

With so much going on, my nights at home alone while Tom is working are perfect for checking things off my to do list. Whether I am sitting on the couch completing work projects, using the time to finally  hang the curtains in the guest room, or taking Abby for a long quiet walk through Capitol Hill neighbors, these nights are a critical part of maintaining what little sanity I have left. Sadly, with so much going on, I haven’t had much time to spend leisurely cooking and experimenting after work. Instead, I find myself making a lot of  foil packet fish with a steamed veggie side. The recipes tend to be simple, boring even: fish+oil+garlic+lemon+herbs=dinner. This recipe, though, reminded me that a little creativity in the kitchen doesn’t need to take all day. It was delicious, easy, and perfect with the roasted asparagus I threw in the oven a few minutes before the fish was done.

Baked Cod and Tomatoes 2

As the fish and tomatoes cook, they release juices and begin to poach the fish in the broth. For this reason, I do not recommend parchment paper and remind you to make sure that your foil packet is sealed nice and tight! The recipe is designed for one, but could very easily be multiplied for a larger group and cooked together in a small pan or casserole dish.

Baked Cod with Tomatoes and Thyme
1 fillet Atlantic cod
9 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 tsp olive oil
1.5 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp red wine vinegar
1 small garlic clove, minced
½ tbsp chopped fresh thyme

1)      Whisk together olive oil, soy sauce, and red wine vinegar. Whisk in thyme, garlic, and pepper. Toss the halved tomatoes in the marinade and set aside.

Baked Cod and Tomatoes-marinate the tomatoes

2)      Lay out a piece of aluminum foil large enough to form a pouch around your fish fillet and tomatoes, carefully fold up the edged of the foil to form a bowl, you don’t need to fold up much, but this will prevent the marinade from running straight off the foil. Lightly brush the center of the foil with olive oil to prevent the fish from sticking.

3)     If using frozen fish, make sure it is fully thawed and use a clean floursack towel or paper towels to pat the extra moisture from the fillet. Lay in the center of the tin foil.

Baked Cod and Tomatoes- Cod

4)     Moving quickly, pour the marinated tomatoes and sauce over the fish. Pull up the sides of the foil and form a pouch, place on a cookie sheet and let rest for 10 minutes.

Baked Cod and Tomatoes-pour the marinated tomatoes over the cod

5)     Bake on a rimmed cookie sheet (to catch in leaking liquid) in an oven preheated to 375ºF for 10 to 15 minutes depending on the thickness of the fish.

Baked Cod and Tomatoes- put the foil packet in the oven

6)     When the fish is cooked through, carefully open the foil package, as steam is likely to escape. Lift fish from pouch and place on your plate, smother with the cooked tomatoes (I remove them from the pouch with a slotted spoon, letting some of the extra liquid drip back into the pouch).

Baked Cod and Tomatoes 1

Roasted Vegetable “Stir-Fry” with Chicken and Quinoa

Roast Veg Stir 5I can’t believe race day is almost here!  A few weeks out and I have so many butterflies in my stomach it’s not even funny. Eeep! It’s not helping that with the most intense part of my training now complete, the shorter distances and lower intensity cross training have my thoughts wandering a bit too much.  One minute I’m rocking chatarunga push-ups with all sorts of “strong” mantras singing in my brain, but as I rest in down-dog and my mind goes quiet, suddenly it shouts, “Not 13 miles, 13 point one miles! WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?!”  Before full scale panic mode can ensue, however, I have been able to talk myself off the ledge. “Ruth,” I say, “You were thinking you can handle anything life throws at you. ” Or now, “Hellloooo, Ruth, you ran 13 point TWO miles just a few days ago. Obviously you can do it.” Obviously…

Roast Veg Stir 2Thankfully I’m not doing this alone! Sue and I are running this half-marathon together. Originally it was us and my sister…until my sister found out she was pregnant.   By that time she had already set up a private Facebook page for all our runner friends where we’ve been posting our runs and workouts to motivate each other.  After I started posting articles on running, race training, and fitness in general, I became the go-to person for information.  Our forum’s hottest topic?  Food!  

In all honesty, although I have my race day “fuel plan” ready, I have beenRoast Veg Stir 3 horrible with fueling my overall health.  This is my usual conundrum, if you’ve read Emilie’s and my About page.  Of course, as a consequence, for nearly half of my training I have felt fatigued and sluggish in between runs and workouts.   It got really bad, actually, but my resilient nature kicked in just in time with the help of a little inspiration.  I saw this recipe in Self magazine for Kung Pao salmon with sweet potatoes and broccoli and really liked the idea of roasting the vegetables. So I gave the technique a try with my favorite stir-fry combo: broccoli and bell peppers. 

Roast Veg Stir 1This is a winning runner’s combination! Not only is it full of delicious Asian flavor, it is packed with some key nutrients that help keep your body ready to lace up, such as anti-oxidants, beta carotene, Vitamin C, potassium, and protein.  I am so grateful I was able to break out of my nutrition rut, because with dishes like this I am so going to ROCK THIS RACE!

 

Roasted Vegetable “Stir-Fry” with Chicken and Quinoa

INGREDIENTS
serves about 4

Roast Veg Stir Ingredients

• 1 large head of broccoli, chopped into florets
• 1 red bell pepper, diced large
• 1 yellow bell pepper, diced large
• 1 large chicken breast, sliced thin
• 3-4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
• Sea salt and ground black pepper
• 1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
• 1/4 cup rice vinegar
• 1 tablespoon agave syrup
• 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
• 1/2 teaspoon minced ginger
• 1/2 teaspoon Sriracha
• 1 cup uncooked quinoa

PREPARATION
  1. Prepare quinoa according to package directions.
  2. Pre-heat oven to 375°.
  3. On a baking sheet, toss broccoli and bell peppers with 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Season the vegetables with a pinch of salt and pepper, toss again, and then arrange in a single layer. Bake 10-15 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender, but al dente. Set aside.Roast Veg Stir Prep
  4. While the quinoa and vegetables cook, whisk together soy sauce, vinegar, agave, garlic, ginger, and Sriracha in a bowl and set aside.Roast Veg Stir Sauce
  5.  Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large pan over high heat.  Stir fry sliced chicken cook salmon until browned.  Transfer chicken to a plate and set aside.Roast Veg Stir Chicken
  6.  Lower heat to medium high heat and add soy sauce mixture to pan.  Simmer until slightly thickened, 2 to 4 minutes.Roast Veg Stir Cook Sauce
  7. Reduce heat to medium.  Add chicken back into the pan along with the roasted vegetables.  Toss gently so that everything is coated in the sauce.  Taste and season with salt and pepper as desired and cook for another 3 minutes.Roast Veg Stir Final Pot
  8. Serve hot over quinoa.

Roast Veg Stir 4

Easy Cherry Smoothie – Post Run Recovery

Cherry Smoothie 1A few of you know I am currently training for my first half-marathon.  Those of you that have known me for a long time also know that I HATE running.   It hurts. Who likes pain?  Ok, some people do or else Cross Fit and Insanity wouldn’t be so popular, but  I  don’t like pain.   I can do dance, martial arts, yoga, circuits, etc.   Just as it becomes too painful, you’ve moved onto something else.   Running, on the other hand…well, there are only two ways to escape the pain: stop or push through it.   Now, I know I said I didn’t like pain.  I never said I couldn’t handle it.   I am not a quitter, either, which is why I registered for this race.  I needed something to get out of this rut I’ve been stuck in for far too long.  It’s been funny finding how everything I am going through in my race training has direct parallels to what’s going on in my heart and mind.  That is how I know that when I conquer this race, I’ll have pulled myself out of this horrible pit, too!

Now as I write this, I am wrapping up week five of my 10 week training, which culminated in a very hilly eight mile run.  I never imagined in my Cherry Smoothie 6entire life that I would ever run so far of my own volition.  Of course I also discovered that running beyond my previously usual 5Ks started making my body do some not so nice things.  Two weeks ago, I ran six miles, at the time my longest distance.  After braving the shower room, I began preparing my breakfast of oatmeal and flax at my desk when my stomach began clenching. Despite my hunger I couldn’t bear to eat.  Now, I had researched that you shouldn’t eat anything but simple, easily digestible food before (and during) a run, because your body will focus its energy on your digestive system instead of powering your run.  I guess it works the other way, too.  If you’ve taxed your body for your run, it doesn’t have energy to help your tummy do its job.  After about another half hour, I was able to down some Greek yogurt.  It happened to be cherry yogurt, which triggered the idea for this smoothie.

Cherry Smoothie 4You see, I remembered that cherries, particularly the juice of tart cherries, have been a growing craze in the fitness world for a few years now.  Studies have shown that they reduce inflammation and speed muscle recovery due to compounds called anthocyanins.  Another key to helping your body recover from a tough workout is protein, which the yogurt and milk in this smoothie provides.  Protein, as many of us know, is also responsible for building our muscles and making us stronger.  Not to mention our bones take quite a beating during a run, so the yogurt and milk’s calcium keeps our inner framework strong, too!  Talk about a super smoothie.

However, the test was whether my stomach could handle it after a tough workout.  The following week, I had this smoothie ready to go in the fridge for after my seven mile run.  It took a little coaxing.  My body wanted water more than anything, but after I satiated my thirst I found that I could indeed sip on this cherry smoothie to satisfy my grumbly tummy without upsetting it. Score!

Cherry Smoothie 7

Easy Cherry Smoothie

serves appx 2
Ingredients
  • 1 12 ounce bag frozen dark cherries
  • 6-7 ounces cherry or plain Greek yogurt, appx. 1/2 cup
  • 1/2 cup skim milk
  • 1/4 cup  tart cherry juice or cold water
  • 1 teaspoon honey (optional)
  • mint for garnish (optional)
Directions
  • Cherry Smoothie Blender 1Combine all ingredients except garnish in a blender. 
  • Pulse to puree until smooth.
  • Enjoy immediately or refrigerate for up to 2 days in air-tight containers.
  • If refrigerating,  shake before serving.

 

 

Cherry Smoothie 2

Strawberry Tarragon & Chèvre Ice Cream – Turning Old Recipes into New Recipes

strawberry tarragon chevre ice cream 3There is still snow and ice on the ground here in Virginia, yet here I am sharing an ice cream recipe with you all while I bask in the warmth of my fireplace.  I can’t believe that just a few days ago I returned from a week’s vacation exploring Hilton Head Island and Savannah.  Though not exactly bikini, sun bathing weather, the days ranged from the high 60’s and even soared into the low 80s. The nights rarely strayed below 50.  With the lovely early spring-like weather in abundance,  I spent a lot of time riding my bike and playing in the sand. I even dared a little wading into the still very cold Atlantic waters.  Between the sunshine filled dayssmall_8262 and all my activity, I definitely worked up a sweat.  Though in Savannah my favorite cool down treat was Georgia peach sangria to go, which I’d sip delightedly under the beautiful oaks of the city’s famous squares, in Hilton Head I’d ride my bike up the beach to Coligny Plaza to place myself in the giddy conundrum of choosing one ice cream  from nearly 100 different flavors.  It is no surprise that I returned home with ice cream, pretty beverages, and summer time on my brain.  Let’s get back to that ice cream now, shall we?

strawberry tarragon chevre ice cream 5Most of you know I purchased myself an ice cream machine last summer when I shared my Lighten Up the Churn Chocolate Hazelnut Ice Cream. I absolutely loved how the lightened up custard base (aka French style ice cream) turned out and so I kept experimenting with it.  You know me, I love to play with flavor.  However, I’m not much of a garlic ice-cream type girl myself, but I wanted to try something savory.  The idea made me think of my strawberry bruschetta, where I took sweet strawberries and gave them a savory twist with tarragon, black pepper, and goat cheese.  Why wouldn’t the same idea work with ice cream? So I decided to give it a go and created  a goat cheese base in which I added the remaining elements of my bruschetta dish. It worked beautifully!

The smooth base had a slight tang from the goat cheese, off-set by both strawberry tarragon chevre ice cream 2the sweet strawberry flavor as well as the fruit’s added chunky texture.  Although I couldn’t discern the black pepper as I could in the bruschetta, the tarragon gave all this creamy goodness a cleansing burst of freshness.  And what a pretty ice cream it made, too!

Now what are some of your own favorite recipes that you think would make an awesome ice cream flavor?

Strawberry Tarragon & Chèvre Ice Cream

Ingredients

strawberry tarragon chevre ingredients

  • 1 cup small diced strawberries
  • ¼ cup Chèvre (goat cheese), crumbled for easier melting
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tbsp freshly chopped tarragon
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper (optional)
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar, divided in half, plus 1 tablespoon separated
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1 12 ounce can evaporated low fat milk
  • 1 vanilla bean, halved and seeded
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 3-4 egg yolks

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, combine diced strawberries, 1 tablespoon sugar, chopped tarragon, and ground pepper.  Toss to mix, then set aside while preparing the Chèvre ice cream base.strawberry tarragon mixture
  2. In a saucepan, combine whole milk, evaporated milk, 1/4 cup sugar, corn syrup, and sea salt. Whisk to combine
  3. Next add the vanilla seeds and pod to the milk mixture.adding vanilla bean to base
  4. Heat the milk mixture gently over medium heat to 180° Fahrenheit. You’re looking for tiny bubbles around the edge, NOT a boil. Remove from heat.
  5. Set aside for at least 10 minutes to allow milk mixture to cool.
  6. While milk mixture is cooling, whisk egg yolks and remaining 1/4 cup sugar in a medium bowl.strawberry tarragon yolks and cream base 1
  7. After milk mixture has cooled at least 10 minutes, begin to gradually add milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly to avoid cooking the eggs.strawberry tarragon yolks and cream base 2
  8. Return entire mixture to the saucepan. Turn stove to medium heat.strawberry tarragon ice cream base reheat
  9. Stir Chèvre into warm milk, allowing cheese to melt into mixture. It will be lumpy at first, but will smooth out once the cheese melts.strawberry tarragon add chevre to base
  10. Stirring constantly, continue cook the ice cream base until it reaches 160° Fahrenheit.
  11. Place a mesh sieve over a large mixing bowl and strain ice cream base. Discard the vanilla bean pod and any other solids.strawberry tarragon straining base
  12. Fill another large bowl with ice cubes. Place the bowl containing the ice cream base over the ice.strawberry tarragon base on ice
  13. Allow ice cream base to cool, about 20 minutes.

Replace the following steps with the instructions that came with your particular ice cream maker.

  1. Turn on the ice cream maker and carefully pour the ice cream base mixture into the frozen freezer bowl.strawberry tarragon ice cream base into maker
  2. Pour strawberry mixture into the freezer bowl with the base.  NOTE: Typically, ice cream mix-ins are added in the last five minutes of the process, but I wanted the strawberry and tarragon flavors to infuse into the base.  You can wait to do this until later if you wish.strawberry tarragon fruit into maker
  3. Allow the the mixture to churn and thicken into a soft serve like, creamy texture, approximately 35-40 minutes.
    strawberry tarragon ice cream churning 1 strawberry tarragon ice cream churning 2
  4. Divide ice cream into freezer safe, air tight containers. Cover and freeze until ice cream is firm, about 3 hours.
    strawberry tarragon ice cream ready strawberry tarragon ice cream freezer containers

Be sure to check out my Lighten Up the Churn recipe for other notes.

strawberry tarragon chevre ice cream 1

Mussels with an Asian Fusion Twist

Asian Fusion Mussels 6Is it Christmas already? I don’t remember 2o12 going by this fast and I honestly can’t believe 2013 is almost over.  Maybe it’s because I’ve been so busy this year preparing to apply for grad school.  For that reason, I thought I’d take a break from my essays and wish all of you a very, merry Christmas  with this tasty and super easy seafood dish before the holidays passes me by!

For those that have been following Emilie and I for awhile, you may recall last Christmas where I gave my family’s traditional Christmas dinner an Asian twist to honor my mother’s heritage.  I also shared my seafood risotto for an Italian Christmas Eve tradition known as the Feast of the Seven Fishes.  This mussel dish combines both of those concepts into one pot! Multi-tasking…love it!

So I have always wanted to make mussels, but for some reason found them intimidating.  It must have been the debearding.  Debearding, Asian Fusion Mussels 4what’s that?  How much work is this? Am I going to get sick or die if I debeard these things wrong? Eeep!  I was relaying this fear to Tom one evening after having a delicious pot of mussels at Dupont Circle’s  Bistrot Du Coin.  In typical Tom fashion, he told me to just do it already.

So I did!

Preparing the mussels  took a little time and the debearding was waaaay wierd,  but easy peasy over all.   I’m sure it will go faster the next time around now that I’ve gotten over my fear.  Just yank that hairy, stringy sucker from the shell.   If you need a better grip on the beard, I recommend using a paper towel.

Merry Christmas, everyone!  Have a delicious holiday!

Asian Fusion Mussels 7

Asian Fusion Mussels

serves appx 4

Ingredients

Asian Mussels Ingredients

  • 2 pounds fresh mussels
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¾  cup dry white wine
  • 2 Chinese eggplant (approximately 2 cups prepped*)
  • 1  14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 Thai chili, sliced lengthwise
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil, seperated
  • ¼ cup fresh Thai basil leaves, chopped (appx 2 tablespoons, chopped)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Cooked spaghetti or linguine

Directions

  1. Rinse and debeard your mussels if they are not so already.Mussels Beard 2
  2. Be sure to discard any mussels with broken shells or any that do not close when tapped. Set aside.Mussels Broken Shell
  3. Pre-heat oven to 425° Fahrenheit
  4. Cut eggplant* into 1 inch cubes or rounds depending on thickness. Lay eggplant out on a baking sheet. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil over the eggplant and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Toss eggplant together so that all the pieces are lightly coated with the olive oil and seasonings.Asian Mussels Prepping Eggplant
  5. Bake eggplant for 10 minutes. Remove from oven. With a heat resistant spoon or spatula, give the eggplant cubes a toss to help the eggplant cook evenly. Return to oven and bake another 10-15 minutes, or until the eggplant is tender and caramelized. Remove from oven and set aside.
  6. While eggplant is baking, begin preparing the mussels.
  7. In a large, lidded pot (I used my dutch oven), heat remaining tablespoon of olive oil and the butter over medium, to medium high heat.
  8. When butter has melted, sauté shallots until soft and translucent, then add the minced garlic.Asian Mussels Cooking Shallots
  9. Pour wine into the pot and add the Thai chili pepper and bring to a boil.Asian Mussels Wine
  10.  Add diced tomatoes along with the juices.
  11. Return to boil.  Lower heat to medium.  Cover and simmer  2-3 minutes.Asian Mussels Adding Tomato
  12. Add mussels to the pot in a single layer along with half of the Thai basil. Cover and steam the mussels for 3 minutes.Asian Mussels Layering Shellfish
  13. After 3 minutes, check to see if mussels have begun to open. Most open within 3-4 minutes.Asian Mussels Steamed and Ready
  14. Once most of the mussels have opened, use a slotted spoon to remove mussels from the juices they were steamed in and place in a large bowl. Discard mussels that remain closed.Asian Mussels Removing Mussels
  15. To serve spoon tomatoes and juices over the cooked pasta along with the baked eggplant cubes. Toss together. Add desired mussels. Spoon additional juices as desired over the mussels, and sprinkle with remaining chopped Thai basil.

Asian Fusion Mussels 1