Saturday, May 31, 2008

Grilled Hearts of Romaine*****


2 hearts romaine lettuce
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the grill or a grill pan.

Cut each heart of romaine in half lengthwise, leaving the end intact so each half holds together. Cut the tops of the lettuce, if necessary. Brush with olive oil and grill over medium heat until the lettuce chars and wilts slightly, about 6 minutes, turning a few times. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and serve.

Recipe courtesy of Ellie Krieger

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Homemade Granola*****

I love having homemade granola on hand, and the cinnamon aroma of this recipe hits you every time the container is opened.  I sprinkle this on low-fat vanilla yogurt,on top of a crumb cake or crisp, or a creamy bowl of oatmeal.

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Cooking Spray

3 cups old-fashioned oats

4 Tbsp ground flax seed

1/2 cup sliced unsalted almonds

1/2 cup local honey

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 cup dried cranberries

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Spray a large baking sheet with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl combine the above ingredients. Spread the mixture onto the baking sheet and bake until golden brown, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes. Transfer the sheet to a cooling rack and let cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Baked Felafel Sandwiches*****

A very good version of a felafel with a whole lot less fat and calories.  Next time I make this I will mix the tomato and cucumber with Greek yogurt to make a sauce and dollop over the top!

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1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, preferably low-sodium, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup minced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup cilantro leaves
1/4 cup parsley leaves
2 tablespoons olive oil

Tahini Sauce: (or use hummus)
1/2 cup pure tahini paste  
3 tablespoons lemon juice
3 to 4 tablespoons water, plus more if necessary

1 cup chopped romaine lettuce
2 (4-ounce) tomatoes, seeded and chopped (about 1 cup)
1/2 medium cucumber, seeded, peeled and chopped (about 1 cup)

4 whole-wheat pita pocket breads, sliced open

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Combine all felafel ingredients except 1 tablespoon olive oil in the bowl of a food processor. Process for 10 seconds. Stop motor and scrape down sides of bowl, then pulse for another 10 seconds, until all ingredients are well incorporated but mixture is still slightly coarse and grainy. Form mixture into 16 felafel balls and brush with remaining tablespoon olive oil. Bake on a cookie sheet for 20 minutes, flip felafel balls and bake an additional 20 minutes, until felafel balls are crisp and browned.

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Combine tahini, lemon juice and water and stir to incorporate, adding more water to achieve desired consistency. Reserve. (I used a store bought container of hummus mixed with 1 Tbsp lemon juice to loosen and make more of a "sauce" consistency.)


Toss together lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers in a bowl. Warm pita breads for 2 minutes in oven. Fill each pita with 3/4 cup salad, 4 felafel balls and 1/4 cup tahini sauce.

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Recipe adapted from ELLIE Krieger - Food Network

Asian Vegetable Stir-Fry****


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  • 8 ounces snow peas, trimmed
  • 2 medium carrots, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced on the diagonal
  • 2 red bell peppers (ribs and seeds removed), thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch scallions, ends trimmed, cut crosswise into 3-inch lengths
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, such as safflower
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 Tbsp honey


  • Heat broiler, with rack set 4 inches from heat. On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss snow peas, carrots, bell peppers, and scallions with oil and 2 tablespoons soy sauce; season with salt and pepper.
  • Broil until vegetables begin to char, 6 to 8 minutes. Toss vegetables, continue to broil until vegetables are charred in spots, 6 to 8 minutes, tossing vegetables once more. Remove from broiler.
  • In a small bowl, make sauce: Stir together remaining 2 tablespoons soy sauce and honey. Drizzle over vegetables and serve.


    Recipe adapted from martha stewart - everyday food

  • Tuesday, May 27, 2008

    Mississippi Caviar*****

    This has been a Johnstone party favorite for many years.  Normally the bean and veggie mixture is placed in a serving bowl and served with tortilla chips. 


    The whole wheat pita sandwich for lunch was great and super healthy served with sliced tomatoes and green lettuce, my new way of joining it!

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    3-16 ounce cans black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained
    1 cup finely chopped green pepper
    3/4 cup finely chopped jalapeno peppers
    3/4 cup finely chopped onion
    2 garlic cloves, chopped

    Vinaigrette: (or half a bottle of light Italian dressing)

    3 oz EVOO
    3 oz apple cider vinegar

    1 Tbsp  fresh lemon juice

    1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
    1/4 tsp. paprika
    1/2 tsp. salt
    1/4 tsp. black pepper

    Combine first 5 ingredients in bowl, prepare and add the vinaigrette and stir. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Serve with whole-wheat pita or baked tortilla chips.

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    CSA - Week 7

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    2 - heads of green romaine

    1 quart new potatoes

    1 pint sugar snaps

    1 lb - yellow squash

    1 lb - zucchini

    Cracked Wheat Berries!

    Over the weekend I tried cracked wheat berries for the first time!  They are also sometimes called "Hard Red Berries."  I purchased some in the bulk food bins at EarthFare, but I also plan to look for them at Whole Foods and at Kroger (hoping that Bob's Red Mill product line may carry them). 

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    1 cup dried crack wheat berries

    3 1/2 cups water

    1. Put wheat berries in a medium sauce pan and pour in 3 1/2 cups water .
    2. Soak overnight, over 7-8 hours.
    3. Then bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes - 1 hour.

    Enjoy stirred into oatmeal and yogurt, as a cold salad with veggies, or just to chew plain.  One tablespoon is approximately 20 calories.

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    Recipe and inspiration from Kath Eats Real Food

    Monday, May 26, 2008

    Ellie Krieger's Chocolate Fondue****

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    1 banana
    1 apple
    1 (8-ounce) container strawberries, hulled
    2 teaspoons orange juice
    1/2 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder
    1/3 cup sugar
    1/2 cup nonfat evaporated milk
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    2 ounces dark chocolate, (60 to 70 percent cocoa solids) finely chopped

    Peel and cut the banana and core and slice the apple. Place the bananas slices, apple slices and strawberries in separate piles on a serving plate. Sprinkle the banana and apple slices with the orange juice and toss gently. Cover the fruit with plastic wrap and refrigerate while you make the fondue.

    In a medium saucepan whisk together the cocoa powder and sugar. Gradually pour in the evaporated milk and whisk well to make a paste. Place the saucepan over a low heat and cook, stirring constantly, until simmering. Remove from the heat and whisk in the vanilla and chocolate and stir until the chocolate is melted. The mixture will thicken as it cools slightly. Transfer chocolate to a fondue pot, and keep warm. Serve with cut fruit for dipping.

    A few doggie moments...

    We had some fun videotaping the pups a couple weekends ago and we seem to be paying extra attention to our older beagle, Finley. He is 10 years old and still very active, but we notice a lot of little things that let us know he's getting older. He snores louder at night, is more stubborn about getting up out of bed, there's a lot of gray on his muzzle, and he also looks skinner to me. So we have been videotaping him snoring, asking for dinner, etc.

    Turn your volume up for these!

    Finley dreaming and barking - he's wedged between me and the couch. He notices Andy recording him, but doesn't really wake-up :o)  This video cracks me up, he sounds like the Easter bunny.

    And one of Wilson (3 1/2 years old) - he has his own little quirks. He doesn't like to be bothered once he goes to bed. Hilarious!

    Finally, the two of them "asking" for supper.  They don't usually have to ask, but every once in a while Finley gets in a talkative mood about supper or taking a walk.


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    Two "brothers" - Finley on the left and Wilson on the right.

    Sunday, May 25, 2008

    Mar-a-largo Turkey Burgers*****

    These turkey burgers were featured on Oprah a couple weeks ago, and she claimed that they were her favorite burger.  We turkey burgers a lot in the summer, so I'm excited to try "the best turkey burger" recipe. (See my thoughts below.)

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    • 1/4 cup scallions, thinly sliced
    • 1/2 cup celery, finely chopped
    • 3 Granny Smith apples, peeled and diced
    • 2 Tbsp. canola oil
    • 4 pounds ground turkey breast
    • 2 Tbsp. salt
    • 1 Tbsp. black pepper
    • 2 tsp. chipotle Tabasco™
    • 1 lemon, juice and grated zest
    • 1/2 bunch parsley, finely chopped
    • 1/4 cup Major Grey's Chutney, pureed (I used red pepper relish)

    Sauté the scallions, celery and apples in the canola oil until tender. Let cool.

    Place the ground turkey in a large mixing bowl. Add sautéed items and the remaining ingredients. Shape into eight (I made twelve) burgers. Refrigerate for 2 hours.

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    Season the turkey burgers with salt and pepper. Place on a preheated, lightly oiled grill. Grill each side for 7 minutes until meat is thoroughly cooked. Let sit for 5 minutes.

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    Serve with a side of Mar-a-Lago Pear Chutney and your favorite toasted bread, pita or hamburger roll.

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    My thoughts, WOW, they are really good!  Turkey meat can easily dry out, the addition of the sautéed apple mixture and the chutney prevented this quite well.  I also think making the burgers large contributes to them staying moist.  (I normally make 4 burgers out of 1 lb where this recipe instructs to make 2 burgers per pound - that's REALLY big, I compromised and did 3 per pound.)


    As you can see from the photo of them patted out, when I formed the burgers I made a thumb indention in the center.  This prevents the burgers from puffing in the center and becoming round as they cook; instead  they will even out and be nice and flat. 

    Spicy Macaroni and Cheese*****

    Our new favorite version, it's really cheesy and crunchy on the top with a creamy interior. 

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    14 oz whole-wheat pasta 
    8 ounces Cheddar cheese, 1/2 cubed, 1/2 shredded 
    4 ounces Monterey pepper jack cheese, cubed
    2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
    1/2 teaspoons salt
    1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
    1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
    4 tablespoons sour cream
    1 large egg, beaten
    2 cups skim milk 
    2 slices bread
    1 tablespoon EVOO


    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.


    Bring a pot of water to a boil, once boiling put in a small handful of salt and toss in the pasta.  Boil until almost al dente.  Drain and return to pot, stir in the cheese cubes and pour into a 9 x 13 baking dish.

    In a large bowl mix together the flour, salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, dry mustard, nutmeg and sour cream, egg, and milk. Pour over the pasta and cover with shredded Cheddar. Bake uncovered until top is just beginning to brown, about 35 minutes.

    Meanwhile, cut the bread into crouton-sized squares. Place the bread cubes on a small sheet pan and drizzle with EVOO - toss. Place in the oven for 10 minutes to toast until golden. Remove from oven and reserve.

    After the mac and cheese has baked for 35 minutes, sprinkle the bread cubes on top and bake until golden brown, about 10 minutes more.


    **Next time I may go without the cubed bread or instead use bread crumbs.

    Recipe adapted from cooking for real

    Menu Plan Monday


    Monday:  Mar-a-largo Turkey Burgers, Spicy Macaroni & Cheese and Chocolate Fondue

    Tuesday: Mississippi Caviar (served in whole-wheat pita's)

    Wednesday: Baked Felafel Sandwiches and Asian Vegetable Stir-fry

    Thursday: Grilled Vegetable Wraps and Grilled Hearts of Romaine

    Friday: Bean Burritos

    Saturday: Fearrington House Restaurant - :)

    Celebrating our 6-year Wedding Anniversary June 1st

    Sunday: Homemade Deep Dish Pizza and Homemade Granola

    Check back throughout the week as I prepare and post my usual photos, recipe adaptations, tips, and advice! 

    visit Org Junkie's weekly roundup here.

    Saturday, May 24, 2008

    Individual Quiches*****

    I lightened this recipe a good deal by swapping the bacon for ham and puff pastry for phyllo dough. Still has the same great flavors, presentation, and crunch but with a lot few calories.

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    • 4 slices of thick-cut ham, cut into medium dice
    • 1/2 cup 1% milk
    • 4 large eggs
    • 1 tablespoon thyme leaves, chopped
    • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
    • Cooking spray
    • 3 sheets frozen phyllo dough, thawed
    • cooking spray
    • 1/2 cup Gruyere cheese, grated
    • 1/2 cup frozen spinach

    Preheat oven to 400°F.

    In a large bowl, combine the milk, eggs, thyme, salt, pepper and nutmeg in a medium-size bowl.

    Lightly spray the muffin tins with cooking spray. Unroll the phyllo dough, separate one sheet, spray with cooking spray and layer with second sheet, repeat. Cut into 6 equal squares and place each square into the muffin round so that the dough extends slightly over the top of the muffin tin.

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    Divide the Gruyere, spinach and ham between each of the cups and fill them with the egg custard just to the top of the cup line.

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    Bake the quiches for about 20 minutes, switching the position of the tins halfway through baking, until the filling is puffed and the crust is golden brown.

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    Update: Denise over at Cents-ible Sawyer liked this recipe idea so much she posted on her blog too. Here's my additional comment: "I'm so glad you tried and enjoyed them! As I'm sure you know, eggs are very economical and a box of phyllo dough lasts me a LONG time. The package has instructions saying that you can thaw it in the fridge and then roll the leftover sheets back-up and refreeze. Those are the two main ingredients and the others can be changed depending on what you have on hand." Enjoy everyone!

    Recipe adopted from THE Rachael Ray Show

    Buffalo Chicken Pot Pie*****

    I served this last night at our St. Luke's Charging Rhino's gathering (formerly known's as 20's/30's group) and was very pleased with the turnout. The night before I cooked the chicken and vegetables, along with the chicken broth/hot sauce gravy.  I let it cool down a bit and then stored in the fridge until I was ready to proceed with the recipe.  At that time I poured the pre-made mixture into a 9x13 baking dish, whipped together the corn bread topping and baked.

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  • 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts (or 1 1/2 lbs)
  • 1 large onion, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO), divided
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup hot sauce
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 boxes cornbread mix, such as Jiffy brand
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup of skim milk
  • 1 cup crumbled bleu cheese (I left this out and instead stirred in 2 tsp ranch dressing powder)



    Preheat the oven to 375º F.

    Heat 2 tablespoons of EVOO in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and sauté them on both sides until golden brown, 4-5 minutes per side. Remove chicken from skillet, allow to cool 3-4 minutes, and then chunk into bite sized pieces.  Reserve.

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    Add another tablespoon of EVOO, the onion, carrot, celery and garlic to the same skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, 5-6 minutes.


    Add the butter to the vegetables, then stir in the flour and cook until light brown, about 1 minute. Whisk the chicken stock and hot sauce in and bring it to a boil. Simmer the gravy until thickened, 2-3 minutes.

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    Return the reserved chicken chunks to the skillet, stirring to combine. (At this point I poured into a pyrex dish and refrigerated it until the next night.)Transfer everything to a 9x13" casserole dish and set aside while you prepare the topping.


    In a medium-size mixing bowl, prepare the cornbread according to package directions. Stir the blue cheese crumbles into the cornbread mixture and drop spoonfuls of the batter onto the top of the casserole, covering it completely.


    Bake the pot pie until the cornbread is baked through and the filling is hot, 20-30 minutes.

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    Recipe Adapted from THE RACHAEL RAY SHOW

  • Thursday, May 22, 2008

    Clifton StrengthsFinder

    I have been reading "Now, Discover Your Strengths" by Marcus Buckingham. I feel like I know myself well and that I am in tune with my strengths and goals. I've always been someone that enjoys personal growth and development, so I was all about seeing what this book had to offer. As you may know, the Clifton StrengthsFinder measures the 34 themes of talent determined by The Gallup Organization as those that most consistently predict outstanding performance. The greater the presence of a theme of talent within a person, the more likely that person is to spontaneously exhibit those talents in day-to-day behaviors. Focusing on natural talents helps people build them into strengths and enjoy personal, academic, and career success through consistent, near-perfect performance.



    Excellence, not average, is your measure. Taking something from below average to slightly above average takes a great deal of effort and in your opinion is not very rewarding. Transforming something strong into something superb takes just as much effort but is much more thrilling. Strengths, whether yours or someone else’s, fascinate you. Like a diver after pearls, you search them out, watching for the telltale signs of a strength. A glimpse of untutored excellence, rapid learning, a skill mastered without recourse to steps—all these are clues that a strength may be in play. And having found a strength, you feel compelled to nurture it, refine it, and stretch it toward excellence. You polish the pearl until it shines. This natural sorting of strengths means that others see you as discriminating. You choose to spend time with people who appreciate your particular strengths. Likewise, you are attracted to others who seem to have found and cultivated their own strengths. You tend to avoid those who want to fix you and make you well rounded. You don’t want to spend your life bemoaning what you lack. Rather, you want to capitalize on the gifts with which you are blessed. It’s more fun. It’s more productive. And, counterintuitively, it is more demanding.


    Relator describes your attitude toward your relationships. In simple terms, the Relator theme pulls you toward people you already know. You do not necessarily shy away from meeting new people—in fact, you may have other themes that cause you to enjoy the thrill of turning strangers into friends—but you do derive a great deal of pleasure and strength from being around your close friends. You are comfortable with intimacy. Once the initial connection has been made, you deliberately encourage a deepening of the relationship. You want to understand their feelings, their goals, their fears, and their dreams; and you want them to understand yours. You know that this kind of closeness implies a certain amount of risk—you might be taken advantage of—but you are willing to accept that risk. For you a relationship has value only if it is genuine. And the only way to know that is to entrust yourself to the other person. The more you share with each other, the more you risk together. The more you risk together, the more each of you proves your caring is genuine. These are your steps toward real friendship, and you take them willingly.


    “Wouldn’t it be great if . . .” You are the kind of person who loves to peer over the horizon. The future fascinates you. As if it were projected on the wall, you see in detail what the future might hold, and this detailed picture keeps pulling you forward, into tomorrow. While the exact content of the picture will depend on your other strengths and interests—a better product, a better team, a better life, or a better world—it will always be inspirational to you. You are a dreamer who sees visions of what could be and who cherishes those visions. When the present proves too frustrating and the people around you too pragmatic, you conjure up your visions of the future and they energize you. They can energize others, too. In fact, very often people look to you to describe your visions of the future. They want a picture that can raise their sights and thereby their spirits. You can paint it for them. Practice. Choose your words carefully. Make the picture as vivid as possible. People will want to latch on to the hope you bring.


    “Where am I headed?” you ask yourself. You ask this question every day. Guided by this theme of Focus, you need a clear destination. Lacking one, your life and your work can quickly become frustrating. And so each year, each month, and even each week you set goals. These goals then serve as your compass, helping you determine priorities and make the necessary corrections to get back on course. Your Focus is powerful because it forces you to filter; you instinctively evaluate whether or not a particular action will help you move toward your goal. Those that don’t are ignored. In the end, then, your Focus forces you to be efficient. Naturally, the flip side of this is that it causes you to become impatient with delays, obstacles, and even tangents, no matter how intriguing they appear to be. This makes you an extremely valuable team member. When others start to wander down other avenues, you bring them back to the main road. Your Focus reminds everyone that if something is not helping you move toward your destination, then it is not important. And if it is not important, then it is not worth your time. You keep everyone on point.


    The Strategic theme enables you to sort through the clutter and find the best route. It is not a skill that can be taught. It is a distinct way of thinking, a special perspective on the world at large. This perspective allows you to see patterns where others simply see complexity. Mindful of these patterns, you play out alternative scenarios, always asking, “What if this happened? Okay, well what if this happened?” This recurring question helps you see around the next corner. There you can evaluate accurately the potential obstacles. Guided by where you see each path leading, you start to make selections. You discard the paths that lead nowhere. You discard the paths that lead straight into resistance. You discard the paths that lead into a fog of confusion. You cull and make selections until you arrive at the chosen path—your strategy. Armed with your strategy, you strike forward. This is your Strategic theme at work: “What if?” Select. Strike.

    These were right on, what do you all think?

    I'm the one that preps and plans my recipes and menus (and time in general) out so that every minute is utilized to its best (maximizer); I'm genuine and "tell it like it is" in a thoughtful and caring way (relater); my grandma told someone once, "Jessica hasn't planned for that to happen in her life yet" - I've always planned my whole life out and optimistically look to what's to come - (futuristic); and I've always thought of myself as a common-sense, logical thinker that enjoys streamlining and simplifying my life and when my husband and I were dating he would joke and say, "You keep on thinking, Jess, that's what your good at" a quote from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (strategic).

    Winner Declared...


    Ms. Mindbody emailed her Weekly Vegemental today and declared me as the winner of last weeks newsletter "What to Eat When Life Stinks" question asking, "what food makes you feel like everything's going to be OK?"  See my response HERE!  I will be receiving the book The Ultrametabolism Cookbook by Mark Hyman, MD.  Thanks Ms. Mindbody!!

    Ms. Mindbody was recently on the Today Show!
    She talked about simple stress relievers you can do anywhere in mere seconds. Click here to see it!


    I was also featured on her website last November check it out on my previous blog post

    Wednesday, May 21, 2008

    Rhubarb Season!!

    Rhubarb is one of my favorite foods; therefore, when it's in season I stockpile it and eat it all year long. 


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    It comes in long stalks like celery.  I first bring them home and wash the stalks 2-3 in my hands at a time.


    Then chunk the rhubarb into bite sized pieces.  (If the stalk is thick I slice it in half or in thirds so that all the stalks are pretty much uniform.)

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    Finally, using freezer safe bags, divide and seal it into 1 lb portions.  I label and date the bags and away the go.  They are ready to thaw and use in the recipe below, no pre-cooking required. 


    So far I'm up to 7 lbs frozen.


    My favorite winter rhubarb comfort food...  


    Rhubarb Raspberry Crumble

    This is so good, in my opinion vanilla ice cream is not required, but a welcome addition. 

    click recipe to enlarge

    The recipe calls for 3 lbs rhubarb, I also make this a lot in smaller 1 lb portions by reducing the recipe by a third.

    Tricolore Penne Pasta****

    I cut out the chicken, swapped the lettuce blend for Swiss chard, swapped the basil for the parsley I needed to use up, and left off the extra calories of Parmesan cheese. Either way you go, it's really good!

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    3/4 box (12 ounces) whole-wheat penne
    2 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced
    1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, sliced into strips
    2 cups roughly chopped Swiss chard
    1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    1 1/2 cups fresh parsley, thinly sliced

    Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup pasta water, and place the pasta back into the warm pot.

    Add the garlic, tomatoes, swiss chard, broth, salt, and pepper, and cook until the greens are wilted with the lid on, 1 to 2 minutes. Add pasta water, as necessary, for a wetter sauce. Add the parsley just before serving.

    Recipe adapted from ELLIE Krieger - Food Network

    My Top Trader Joe Items

    I make a monthly trip to Trader Joe's with cooler and ice packs in tote. Here's what's always on my list.

    - whole wheat pizza dough - in the veggie section $.99 per ball (I buy 4-5 at a time and pop them in the freezer, thaw over night in the fridge for use the next day)

    - marinara sauce - we use as pizza and pasta sauce $1.19 per jar

    - Ezekiel bread - I buy several loaves and store in the freezer (I thaw a few days worth of bread at a time)

    - whole wheat cinnamon mini-bagels - freeze and thaw these as well, my husband takes one to work every day for breakfast along with a boiled egg and apple

    - Organic Eggs (they have a good price so I buy 2-3 dozen at a time for my cooking needs and Andy's boiled eggs)

    - Organic Milk - I pick up a gallon while I'm there at their reasonable price

    - Organic low-fat vanilla yogurt - I buy 3-4 large container and store one in the fridge at work along with a Tupperware container of homemade nutty granola. It's an instant afternoon snack, I will sometimes toss in 1/2 a sliced banana or a few strawberries.

    - Fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables

    - Grape seed oil, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, and Balsamic Vinegar - all at great prices

    - Organic Rice and Pasta - they have wild rice, brown basmati rice, israeli couscous blends, microwave pouches, etc.

    - Ready-to-heat Indian Sauce packets - They have 5-6 flavors to choose from, I boil whole-wheat pasta, toss the foil sauce bag in the water with the pasta the last 5 minutes to heat. I sometimes toss in green beans or asparagus to blance a minute or two and have a one pot meal in about 10 minutes.

    - Frozen Naan - I like the garlic but they also have plain, It bakes up in the oven in 1-2 minutes and is an awesome indulgence along with the Indian pasta recipe above.

    - Flowers - it's a nice monthly treat to bring home a small seasonal bouquet

    - CHARLES SHAW wine - we buy an assortment depending on the season, including: Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, White Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Merlot, and they have a holiday spiced one too at Christmas (we buy 1 or 2 cases at a time $3 a bottle, and we think it's a great everyday wine)

    - Frozen Items: asparagus, green beans, sliced tri-color peppers, broccoli, spinach (all great to have on hand for dinner during the winter months. I find ways to incorporate them into all kinds of recipes)

    - TJ Dish washing detergent, TJ hand soap, Avalon Organics conditioner, Dr. Bronner's All-Purpose soap (I use as shower gel, love the almond scent - smells like amaretto liqueur)

    Special Treat Items:
    - Trader Joe's Everything Pretzel Slims
    - Sharon's Sorbet
    - Whole Wheat Pita or mini-pitas (freeze and thaw)
    - Whole Wheat Tortilla Wraps (freeze and thaw)
    - Trader Joe's specialty beers

    After typing this out, I'm feeling the urge to head that way ;-)

    Tuesday, May 20, 2008

    Mexican Chopped Salad*****

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    Serves 4

    1 large head romaine lettuce, leaves torn into bite size pieces
    1/2 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
    4 cooked chicken breast halves, diced (I used a sliced garlic bratwurst from my CSA farm)
    1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans, drained
    1/2 cup Spanish olives, sliced
    1/2 cup tomatoes, diced
    1 Granny Smith apple, cored and diced
    1/4 cup pickled jalapenos, sliced (I used banana peppers)
    2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    1 teaspoon ground cumin
    1/4 cup cider vinegar

    In a large bowl add corn, chicken, beans, olives, tomatoes, apple, banana peppers, and cilantro. Toss to combine. Spoon over individual bowls of freshly chopped romaine lettuce.

    For the dressing:

    Mix oil, cumin, and vinegar in a small lidded bowl; shake. Add dressing to chicken mixture and toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

    Recipe Adapted from Robin miller - food network

    CSA - Week 6

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    2 heads of green romaine

    2 white onions

    1 bunch spring onions

    1 bunch swiss chard

    1 head of celery

    1 pint sugar snap peas

    Monday, May 19, 2008

    "Dirty" Green Beans*****

    The original recipe called for broccoli, but I had some green beans that I wanted to jazz-up.  I think this method would be good on cauliflower and asparagus as well.  It really adds a nice crunchy and garlic taste to a potentially mundane veggie.

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    3/4 lb green beans, trimmed
    1 tablespoon water
    2 tablespoons olive oil 
    1 clove garlic, minced
    1 slice Ezekiel whole wheat bread, finely processed into crumbs or ¼ cup plain dry bread crumbs
    1 Tablespoon fresh oregano, or ¼ tsp dried
    ¼ teaspoon salt
    Pinch of freshly ground black pepper

    Place the green beans in a large microwave-safe bowl with the water. Cover tightly and microwave on high for 5 minutes. Carefully remove the cover, drain the beans well, and set aside.

    While the beans are cooking, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the bread crumbs, oregano, salt, and pepper and cook, stirring, cook until the crumbs are toasted and golden brown, about 2 minutes. Add the beans, toss to coat with bread crumbs, and serve.


    Recipe Adapted from ELLIE Krieger

    Sunday, May 18, 2008

    Crushed Potatoes*****

    Tender inside and crunchy on the outside - these were great!! I'll be doing this method with new potatoes from now on.

    Sorry the photo isn't the best...we were so hungry tonight that I forgot to plate and photograph them. Luckily, I had packed some for the hubby for lunch tomorrow.

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    8 small potatoes (like Yukon gold or red new), about 1 pound
    Cooking spray
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

    1/4 teaspoon pepper

    1/4 teaspoon salt

    Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

    Steam the potatoes, whole, for 20 minutes, until they are still firm yet easily pierced with a fork. Drain.

    Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Place a potato on the tray, cut a small cross about 1/4-inch deep into the potato and crush the potato with the back of a wooden spoon to flatten into a patty about 1/2-inch thick. Try to crush it just enough so it stays together with most of its skin intact. Repeat with the remaining potatoes.

    Brush the tops of the potatoes with the oil, sprinkle with garlic powder, salt, and pepper and bake until crisp and golden, about 20 minutes.

    Recipe Adapted from ELLIE Krieger

    Garden Update

    It's been almost 5 weeks since I purchased (see here) my tomato and pepper plants from the Raleigh Farmers Market. They have grown quite nicely and I am very pleased! It seems that I have found a nice place in the yard that they are happy with and we have been getting enough rain in combination with the occasional watering I give them. There are a lot of flowering buds on them...I wonder how much longer until were able to begin picking and eating them? I'm going with 4-5 more weeks.

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    4 tomato plants

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    4 pepper plants (two per pot)

    Saturday, May 17, 2008

    Chocolate Pecan Tart

    This is so, so good. I recommend using a fresh bar of bittersweet chocolate and chopping it into large chunks. For easy serving and presentation, bake in a tart pan with a removable bottom.

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    1/2 cup sugar
    2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
    3 eggs, beaten
    1 1/2 cups chopped pecans or walnuts
    8 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips (about 1 cup)
    1 cup corn syrup or honey
    2 tablespoons butter, melted
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1 store bought frozen pie crust, defrosted

    Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

    In a large bowl, mix together the sugar and the flour. Add the eggs, pecans, chocolate chips, corn syrup, butter, vanilla, and salt. Stir well. Pour the mixture into the pie crust. Bake for 1 hour.

    Cool the tart for at least 30 minutes before serving (preferably 2-4 hours).

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    Recipe adopted from Everyday Italian

    Fruit and Nut Scones****

    (Sunday's Parish Picnic)

    The recipe called for Bisquick, but I made and used my own whole-wheat blend baking mix. I also cut them in very small portions, almost reminding me of biscotti.

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    • 2 cups baking mix, see below, plus a little extra for the worktable
    • 1/4 cup sugar
    • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
    • A few grates fresh nutmeg
    • 1 egg
    • 1/2 cup 1% milk
    • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts

    Preheat oven to 425ºF.

    In a large mixing bowl combine the baking mix, sugar, cranberries, walnuts, and nutmeg. In a small bowl, combine the egg and cream. Pull out about a teaspoon of the liquid in a small dish or coffee cup then add the remaining liquid to the bowl of dry ingredients. Give it a gentle stir with a fork or rubber spatula until a soft dough forms.

    Sprinkle a little bit of baking mix onto your worktable and turn the dough out onto it. Give it a quick knead, about 10 turns should do the trick. Transfer the dough to a baking sheet and use your hands to shape it into a round that is flat on top and about 8 inches across. Brush the reserved liquid over the top of the dough and cut it into 8 wedges with a long knife. Leave the wedges together, though, you'll break them apart after they've finished baking.

    Pop the pan into the oven and bake the scones until the edges are golden brown, 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit for about 5 minutes. Break the wedges apart and serve.

    Recipe adopted from THE Rachael Ray Show

    Martha Stewart's Baking Mix

    Makes 9 cups

    • 6 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
    • 3 cups sugar
    • 2 tablespoons baking powder
    • 1 tablespoon salt

    In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Store in an airtight container at room temperature up to 3 months. Whisk before using.

    My Whole-Wheat Blend Baking Mix

    Makes 9 cups

    • 3 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
    • 3 cups whole-wheat flour,spooned and leveled
    • 1 1/2 cups sugar
    • 3 tablespoons baking powder
    • 1 tablespoon salt

    In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Store in an airtight container at room temperature up to 3 months. Whisk before using.

    Walnuts and Parsley Pasta*****

    Great garlic flavor with a light chicken broth "sauce".  This pasta is fresh tasting, with a nice walnut crunch.  It's the perfect side dish.

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    12 ounces (3/4 box) whole-wheat pasta
    2/3 cup chopped toasted walnuts, 2 tablespoons reserved for garnish
    1/4 cup olive oil
    5 cloves garlic, minced
    1/2 cup low-sodium chicken stock
    1/2 cup chopped parsley leaves, plus more for garnish
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
    1-ounce grated Parmesan (about 3/4 cup)
    2 cups arugula leaves, gently packed

    Cook the pasta al dente according to package directions, then drain in a colander.
    Meanwhile, toast the walnuts in a small dry skillet over medium-high heat until fragrant, stirring frequently, 3 to 5 minutes.

    In the pot the pasta was cooked in, heat the olive oil over low heat, add the garlic stirring until soft and fragrant, 3 to 4 minutes (be careful not to burn it). Return the pasta to the pot, add the broth, all but 2 tablespoons of the walnuts, the parsley, salt and pepper and toss to combine, cooking over low heat for 1 to 2 minutes. Add 1/2 cup Parmesan and toss to combine. Arrange 1/2 cup of arugula leaves on each of 4 serving plates. Top each with about 2 cups of pasta. Sprinkle with remaining cheese, the reserved walnuts and more parsley. Serve hot.


    Recipe Courtesy of Ellie Krieger - Food Network

    Radishes and Sugar Snap Peas with Miso Sauce*****

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    5-6 medium radishes, leaves, stems, and rootlets trimmed
    1 1/2 tablespoons EVOO

    1 pound sugar snap peas or snow peas
    1 tablespoon water
    2 teaspoons canola oil
    3 scallions, white and green, sliced
    1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
    1/4 cup orange juice
    1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
    1 tablespoon rice vinegar
    2 tablespoons low-sodium white miso paste
    1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

    Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Halve or quarter the radishes lengthwise from stem to root end, making them all about the same size. Toss them with the oil on a large rimmed baking sheet. Roast, turning once or twice, until the radishes are tender and beginning to brown, about 25 minutes.

    Meanwhile, place the snap peas or snow peas into a microwave-safe bowl with 1 tablespoon of water. Cover tightly and microwave for 3 minutes. Carefully remove the cover, drain and set aside.

    Heat the oil in a saucepan over a medium-high heat. Add the scallions and ginger and saute for 2 minutes. Add the orange juice, chicken broth and vinegar and cook for 5 minutes, uncovered. Turn heat to low and stir in the miso paste and sesame oil. Stir until miso paste is dissolved, about 1 minute.

    Pour the sauce over the snow or snap peas toss to coat and serve.

    Recipe Adapted from ELLIE Krieger

    Week 5 - CSA

    green romaine

    sugar snaps

    new potatoes

    easter egg radishes

    garlic bratwurst

    Monday, May 12, 2008

    California Pasta with Artichokes and Red-Pepper Relish****

    Quick, full-flavored, and super easy!

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  • 2 leeks or green garlic
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1/4 cup EVOO
  • 1 14-oz can quartered artichoke hearts, drained
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 pound whole wheat pasta
  • 1/2 cup red-pepper relish
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine


    Place a large pot of water over high heat and bring to a boil for the pasta.


    Trim off the root ends and top four inches of the leeks. Cut them in half lengthwise then into slices 1/4-inch thick. Wash them vigorously, separating the layers to free grit in either a colander under cold running water or in large bowl of cold water. Drain and pat dry.


    Heat 2 tablespoons EVOO in a large skillet over medium heat. Add leeks and artichokes, sauté 5 minutes and season with salt and pepper.


    Salt the boiling pasta water and drop in fettuccine.


    Add wine to the leeks and artichokes, and cook for a couple of minutes. Stir in the red-pepper relish and a ladleful of starchy cooking water. Drain pasta and add to skillet. Toss pasta with sauce to coat evenly.


    Recipe adopted from THE Rachael Ray Show

  • Sunday, May 11, 2008

    Spinach and Brie Chicken with Tomato Orzo*****

    The original recipe called for the chicken to be pounded out into thin cutlets and then to roll the spinach and cheese inside...that always seems like to many items too dirty for just the two of us, too much time, and too "germy" to me.  I sautéed the chicken and spinach and then topped it with the brie.  Whatever your preference, it's a great dish.

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    • 1 tablespoon EVOO
    • Coarse salt and ground pepper
    • 8 boneless, skinless chicken tenderloins
    • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
    • 1 package (10 ounces) frozen leaf spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
    • 4 ounces Brie cheese, cut into 8 slices
    • 1 cup orzo
    • 2 plum tomatoes, cored and chopped
    • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
    • 1 tablespoon butter
    • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice


    1. Set a large saucepan of salted water to boil. Heat oil in a large saute pan over medium heat.  Dividing evenly, spread one side of each tenderloin with mustard.  Saute chicken for 4 minutes on first side or until golden brown. 
    2. Meanwhile, cook orzo in boiling water until al dente. Drain well; return to pot. Add tomatoes, parsley, butter, and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper, and toss to combine.
    3. Flip chicken to cook on the reverse side, add spinach to the pan and cook additional 5-6 minutes. 
    4. To plate: place a mound of orzo mixture on the bottom center, top with spinach, chicken and then cheese. Season with salt and pepper.  Serve.


    Recipe ADOPTED FROM Everyday food magazine - Martha Stewart

    Dinner tonight, remember this one?

    West Coast Grilled Pizza

    Iced Mocha Frappucino*****

    A sweet, low-calorie summer drink with an optional kick!

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    8 frozen coffee cubes (use left over coffee and freeze overnight in ice cube trays)  
    2 Tbsp chocolate syrup 
    1/4 cup skim milk

    2-3 Tbsp honey or brown sugar
    1 shot Frangelico, or other coffee liqueur, optional

    Blend until consistency of a thick milkshake. 

    Optional: dollop with whipped-cream and sprinkle with chocolate powder, chocolate shavings, or cinnamon.

    Tuscan Roasted Chicken and Vegetables****

    I added Swiss chard, raisins and walnuts to the dish.  I really enjoyed the mellow flavor of the Swiss chard.  So far in my greens tasting experience, Swiss chard is my favorite.

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    6 Roma tomatoes (about 1 pound)
    3 medium zucchini (about 1/2 pound each)
    1 bulb fennel
    3 tablespoons oil, divided
    3/4 teaspoons salt, divided
    4 cloves garlic, finely minced
    1 teaspoon lemon zest
    1 tablespoon lemon juice

    1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
    4 chicken breast halves skinless, boneless
    Freshly ground black pepper

    2 (about 1 1/2 pounds total) Swiss chard, stalks cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces, leaves torn into 2-inch pieces (keep stalks and leaves separate)

    2 tablespoons walnuts

    1/3 cup golden raisins
    1 tablespoon fresh chopped rosemary leaves or 1 teaspoon dried


    Cut the tomatoes lengthwise into quarters and remove the seeds. Trim the zucchini and cut it in half crosswise and then cut each piece in half lengthwise once if the piece is thin and twice if it is thicker, so that the pieces are relatively uniform.

    Remove the outermost layer of the fennel bulb and discard. Cut the bulb in half so that each half retains part of the stem end. Cut each half into 8 thin wedges so each wedge is held together by a little piece of stem.

    In a large saute pan, heat oil over medium-high. Add chicken and cook until golden brown one first side, 5-6 minutes.  Turn chicken onto reverse side and add vegetables, cook additional 5-6 minutes. 

    In a small bowl combine 1 tablespoon of oil, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, the garlic, vinegar, lemon zest and lemon juice. Pour the mixture into the pan. Season with a few turns of pepper.

    Add Swiss chard, raisins, nuts, rosemary and garlic. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook until tender, 6 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

    Roast in the oven for 30 minutes, then give the vegetables a stir and add the rosemary. Cook for about 20 to 30 minutes more until the chicken is done and the vegetable are tender and beginning to brown.  Season with salt and pepper. Serve.


    Recipe ADOPTED FROM Ellie Krieger - Food Network

    Saturday, May 10, 2008

    Five Layer Mexican Dip*****

    We love Mexican avocado dips, especially in the summer when the tomatoes are irresistible!  The traditional avocado dip has both mayo and sour cream; this one has NEITHER!  I honestly thought to myself, "this recipe will be good but I'm going to miss the creamy and fatty taste of the mayo/sour cream mixture."  To my pleasant surprise my husband and I didn't miss it a bit, this dish rocks! 
    Plus, with no mayo I won't have to worry about the dish spoiling if it sits out --- but then again this dip won't last that long :o) 
    (It's seriously already over half gone, just between my hubby and I!)

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    2 teaspoons olive oil
    1 medium onion, diced
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    1 (15.5-ounce) can black beans, preferably low-sodium, drained and rinsed
    1 tablespoon minced chipotle pepper in adobo
    4 tablespoons lime juice
    1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
    1 tablespoon water
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    2 cups corn kernels (10-ounce box frozen corn)
    1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves
    2 ripe avocados
    4 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced (about 2 cups)
    1/4 cup thinly sliced scallion
    1 tablespoon finely diced jalapeno pepper, optional
    3/4 cup shredded extra-sharp Cheddar (I used pepper-jack and only 1/4 cup as garnish)

    1 (4oz ) can sliced olives, highly recommended

    Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook until they soften, about 3 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for 2 minutes more.

    Put half of the onion mixture into a food processor with the black beans, chipotle pepper, 2 tablespoons of the lime juice, cumin, water and salt. Puree until smooth. Set aside. (I loved the lime flavor in this homemade bean spread, but you could purchase a jar if short on time)

    Add the corn to the skillet with the remaining onion mixture and cook for about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the cilantro leaves.

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    In a small bowl mash the avocado with the remaining lime juice. In a medium bowl toss together the tomatoes, scallion and jalapeno, if using. Season tomato mixture with salt and pepper, to taste.

    Spread the black bean dip into the bottom of an 8 by 8 glass baking or serving dish. Top with the corn mixture, spreading it out to form a single layer over the beans, repeat with the avocado, then the tomatoes. Top with cheese. Serve with baked chips.

    Recipe ADAPTED FROM Ellie Krieger - Food Network

    Panini with Chocolate, Apple, and Brie****

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    4 slices sourdough or whole-wheat bread
    1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil 
    4 ounces Brie cheese, thinly sliced

    1/2 medium apple, thinly sliced
    4-ounces semisweet chocolate chips 
    1 tbsp thinly sliced fresh basil leaves

    Preheat the panini grill.

    Brush both sides of the bread with olive oil. Grill the bread slices until they begin to turn golden, about 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the panini grill and place 2 ounces of cheese on 1 slice of bread (the bottom half), top the cheese with 3-4 apple slices, a scattering of chocolate chips, and a sprinkle of basil. Top with another slice of bread. Continue with the remaining sandwiches. Return the sandwiches to the panini grill until the chocolate begins to melt, about another 2 minutes.