My husband makes our 16 month old son sweet potato fries regularly for an afternoon snack and he gobbles them up faster than you can say hot potato. So when I was at the health food store the other day and saw Okinawan purple sweet potatoes and Japanese white sweet potatoes, I had to get them for an extra special, healthy, and colorful treat. Continue reading
An old Ukranian proverb forewarns, “A tale that begins with a beet will end with the devil.” As a big beet fan, I’d like to think that a tale that begins with a beet will end with deliciousness.
My cooking style has changed considerably since my baby boy arrived in November. Meals are simple, quick, freezable, and lunch-packable. Sundays are filled with food prep to make the work-and-baby-filled weeks a little easier. This Sunday I prepped muesli for breakfasts, grains, tofu, and greens for lunches, and snacks for the whole week. As a nursing mom, I need to make sure I’m eating small, healthy snacks in the mid-morning and mid-afternoon and hummus is a clear winner. Hummus is packed with protein and fiber, easy to make, and endlessly versatile (spread on crackers or in a sandwich, use as a dip with carrot sticks or sugar snap peas or put a dollop on a grain salad). Sometimes I get stuck in a rut with a basic hummus recipe but last month’s Cooking Light magazine inspired me to get a little crazy with my hummus and the results were great. Continue reading
One of my favorite things about the holidays is the spirit of generosity that emerges. Though I wish the spirit was so strong all year round, I’m happy to see it wash over so many at this time of year. It’s fun to read stories of generosity and good cheer. In the tiny town of Lowell, just down the road, a police officer got to play Santa for several unsuspecting motorists (check it out here). My employer, Meijer, also played Santa this year, footing the bill for one shopper in each of their 213 stores (see the heartwarming video here).
In the spirit of generosity and good food, Cooking Light Magazine had the great idea this holiday season to “Bake it Forward,” making one batch of cookies, cakes, muffins, or bars to keep (yay!) and one to give away. The best recipes are those that can easily be doubled or tripled, like the chewy molasses cookies I made this week. Continue reading
Happy Labor Day Weekend! It’s been a while, folks. And I’m sorry for that. But let me explain. In the last three months we have bought a house, sold a house, become a married couple, gone to Alaska on a honeymoon, and started to tackle a lifetime of projects on the 1870 farmhouse we moved to. And through it all, my belly has grown bigger and bigger (and along with it my emotions) as we prepare for the arrival of our first little one at the beginning of November. If I tried to take on anything else, I think you could just assume I’ve gone clinically insane.
And through it all, meals must be made and eaten, day in and day out. In fact, I’ve eaten a lot more and a lot more frequently as the months of pregnancy pass. But have I been stopping to snap photos, write recipes, and post about it? Not so much. When you have to eat every couple of hours, planning for, preparing, and packing food can start to feel like a chore rather than a passion.
Every once in a while though, I come across a dish that just hits all the cravings just right. This dish is one of them. Juicy watermelon, tangy feta, cooling cucumber, and peppery arugula drizzled with lime, honey, and vinegar. Sounds weird, right? Trust me on this one, take hold of the last bits of summer, and enjoy this salad.
If you are looking for last minute inspiration for salads to add to your Labor Day picnics, check out Cooking Light Magazine’s List of Great Summer Salads. In addition to their own version of watermelon and cucumber salad, you’ll find 35 other beautiful, simple salads to fill your picnic table and lighten your barbecue.
Ahhhh…it’s good to be back.
- 1/3 small seedless watermelon (about 6-8 cups), cut into ½ to 1 inch cubes
- 2 small Kirby, English, or other small cucumber with tender skin
- A few handfuls of arugula
- ¼ cup of basil, rolled up and sliced into skinny shreds
- A few pinches of coarse sea salt
- Juice of one lime
- 8 ounces of feta cheese, divided
- 2 Tbsp white balsamic vinegar (optional)
- 1 tsp honey (optional)
- Add cubed watermelon to a large bowl and gently mix in all ingredients through lime juice. Gently toss with half of the feta and crumble the rest on top.
- If adding white balsamic vinegar and honey, mix the two together with a fork or tiny whisk before drizzling on salad.
- Serve immediately! This salad, like many salads, do not hold up well overnight in the fridge.
Happy Mother’s Day! This year has special meaning to me, as it is the first year that I am a mother! So yes, there you have it. Just one of the many reasons I’ve been a little quiet on my blog lately. We have a LOT of amazing stuff going on. 2014 is THE year, I tell you. In the next month and a half we are buying a farm house on two and a half acres, selling our beautiful old city house, getting married, and going on a honeymoon to Alaska. The cream on top of it all was finding out I was pregnant! So yes, we are going to have a little shortcake come November.
Happy Memorial Day! I’m thrilled for the extra day of this weekend. It’s been a busy few weeks. Today I want to share a great recipe I found in Cooking Light’s May issue for another use of pea shoots, which I featured last week in my pea shoot and beet salad. The recipe I am sharing today is a carrot and pea shoot salad with spring onions and is the epitome of spring.
But first, I want to tell you about a few of the BIG changes going on and some of the things we saw on the trip we just returned from.
One of the first BIG changes is that I will be going from working remotely in my home office to working at (gulp) an office five days a week. I will be leaving my job as a research manager at a market research company and joining forces with Meijer’s Consumer Insights team. I’ll be working on internal research to help improve the retailer and it’s brands. Very exciting stuff. My life will be much more structured but at the end of the day I’ll have more time each week because I’ll be going from a 50-60 hour workweek to a 40 hour workweek.
Another BIG thing is that Cooking Light added my profile to their Bloggers’ Connection site and I’m thrilled! Check it out here. You’ll notice that I’ve added the Cooking Light Bloggers’ Connection badge to my page and I’ll just be sharing with you all a couple of the things I read about in Cooking Light each month. I have subscribed to Cooking Light for years and have shared their recipes with friends and family during those years. Now I’ll be sharing some of them with you!
Now onto this trip. We went on a tour of America’s Heartlands and into Colorado for two weeks. It was an amazing trip. Though I have flown into several of the towns we visited, I have never driven to them. It was a wonderful experience to drive and see a sliver of Indiana, then lots of Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, and Denver. Iowa was surprisingly beautiful, with rolling green hills spotted with black cows and windmills. Did you know that Iowa gets 20% of all the energy in the state from wind? They have committed to generating 40% of their energy from wind, a goal that may be achieved as early as 2015. How cool is that?
The first night, we stayed in a beautiful apartment full of antiques that is set up for traveling musicians. It was right behind the stage at the Legion Arts Center in Cedar Rapids. The Legion Arts Center is a wonderful building that showcases both artwork as well as some phenomenal musicians. It is right across from the Newbo Market, a mini-Pike’s Place of sorts that was opened just 6 months ago. In the morning, we had a great cup of coffee from the coffee shop on the first floor of the building and looked at art in our pajamas. The folks in Cedar Rapids were so wonderful–one couple even called ahead and bought our lunch at a funky diner called the Bluebird Diner in Iowa City on our drive to Topeka. It was an act of incredible hospitality and we are so grateful for it. Drew had Huevos Epsteinos and I think it went down as one of his top ten meals…at least that’s what I gathered when he ate them with his eyes closed most of the time. One of the few souvenirs we brought home was a bag of the Bluebird Coffee, which I think is worth special-ordering.
In Topeka, we hit up the Topeka Zoo, where I fed a baby giraffe! We also saw gorillas, tigers, lions, black bears, eagles, and this photogenic flamingo.
We also saw the Westboro Baptist Church compound (from the outside, of course). There was a bright side to it–across the street from the compound, the organization Planting Peace purchased a house and painted every piece of siding a different color of the rainbow. A member of the Westboro church was on a ladder looking over the fence and praying against the house but that didn’t take away from the delightful presence of this house that promotes peace, fights bullying, and helps with orphanages, de-worming, and rain forest conservation. It’s wonderful to see this organization stand up for peace and this bold act gave me hope.
And then…the Rockies. Oh my goodness…the Rockies.
I had never driven in the mountains and I must have said “wow” every minute or two for the four hour drive from Denver to Carbondale. This is the view when you get into Carbondale:
Even though it was cold and sometimes snowy, the breathtaking views made me forget about having to bundle up!
That night, we ate at a wonderful new restaurant called Town. (with a period) and had a great experience sitting at the community table and getting to know a few folks. Their clams were excellent as well as the roasted carrots and cauliflower.
East of Carbondale, I had my first fly-fishing experience in the world-famous Frying Pan River. Standing in the water with the current pressing against my waders and looking at the incredible red rock cliffs that surrounded us, I started tearing up with the joy of being in such a beautiful place. My weepy moment passed quickly, though, because a rainbow trout came up to my leg and used my boot as a break from the current for about a half hour, joined by three of his pals for several minutes at a time. I learned how to cast, watch the strike indicator, and mend my line that day, all while staring down at my feet off and on to look at the pretty rainbows swimming by me.
The drive from Carbondale to Westcliffe on Highway 24 was incredible. The terrain seemed to change every five minutes. Rocky and desert-like at one turn, snow-covered pines the next. My favorite view on that drive was the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, a mountain range that is almost 250 miles long.
Over the next weekend, we went fishing in the Colorado River where I got a great casting lesson from Shaggy, the awesome shaggy-bearded best friend of my sweetie.
And then in the Blue River, Drew’s other buddy, Romano, taught me more about casting, mending the line, and setting the hook. And all of that coaching paid off! I caught my first trout by myself! The boys were so proud of me when they saw me mending my line, watching the strike indicator (bobber), setting the hook, and reeling the fish in. It’s catch and release out there, and that’s what we would do anyway, so no trout for dinner.
It was incredibly hard to leave the mountains behind to drive back to Michigan but we had much to do upon our return.
After just a couple of days of being home my poor sweetie had a major surgery on Friday to correct a nerve-related motility disorder called Achalasia. The muscle between his stomach and esophagus was clenched so tight that most food could not make it through the tiny tube. It’s been such an irony that the boyfriend of a foodie/food blogger like me could not eat most foods for several months. But the surgery was so successful and slowly we are introducing foods back in. In a couple of weeks he will be able to eat everything I am eating, which will just be so wonderful.
On Saturday, I ran home to let the pup out and decided to stop at the Farmer’s Market on the way home. I was in the mood for more pea shoots, one of my favorite spring vegetables. I made a pea shoot and yellow beet salad a couple of weeks ago and loved it. On the trip, I thumbed through the May issue of Cooking Light Magazine and found another pea shoot recipe to add to the repertoire.
This recipe was quick, just what I needed for my quick break, and delicious to boot. I had to use big carrots because there were no carrots ready at the farmer’s market so I just cut them on an angle for a nice presentation. The spring onions soaked up the sugar/vinegar glaze and were marvelous. I may just cook up more spring onions with a little sugar, vinegar, salt, and pepper to mix into quinoa or spoon over crusty bread. Mmmmm!
Stay tuned for more recipes from Cooking Light Magazine–I’m going to make a healthier version of biscuits soon once my honey can eat them. I’m picturing them with some fresh local butter and creamed honey……! But I am getting ahead of myself. I hope you enjoy this great springy peas and carrots recipe as much as I did!
Newfangled Peas and Carrots from Cooking Light Magazine; May 2013 Issue
4 servings of ¾ cup each; about 30 minutes total, 15 minutes hands-on
- 6 cups water
- 12 ounces baby carrots
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 cups vertically sliced spring onion, white parts only (about 9 ounces)
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2 teaspoons rice vinegar
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon
- 2 cups pea tendrils or watercress
- Bring 6 cups water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add carrots; reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain; rinse under cold water. Rub carrot peels off with a clean, dry kitchen towel.
- Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat; swirl to coat. Add onion; sauté 3 minutes or until slightly tender. Add carrots, sugar, vinegar, salt, and pepper; cook 2 minutes or until sugar dissolves and carrots are thoroughly heated. Stir in tarragon. Top with pea tendrils.