Friday, August 18, 2017

Fresh Tomato and Chickpea Salad


My Darling husband, Joseph, hates beans. It is sad really, because I love them. I can't get enough of them and he can't stand them. 

I was loving this recipe, fresh tomatoes, fresh herbs and chickpeas. I was so in love with it, that he actually asked to try some. I think he felt like he really must be missing out on something if I was eating it for lunch 4 times a week. 

And guess what.... He loved it! The taste and the texture of the chickpeas is completely changed when they are roasted and that is what makes this salad extra special.  It is incredibly easy to prepare and with the few fresh ingredients that blend well together it makes the whole salad really shine. 


Ingredients

For the salad:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 (15-ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 pints cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

For the vinaigrette:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon minced green onion
Pinch of salt
Freshly ground black pepper



Directions

For the salad: Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the beans and spread out into a single layer. Cook without stirring until lightly browned on the bottom, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir, add a big pinch of salt, and spread the beans out again. Cook for another 2 minutes, then stir and spread out again as needed, until golden-brown and blistered on all sides. From start to finish, this will take about 6 to 7 minutes total.

Remove from the heat, add the cumin, and toss to coat. While the chickpeas are cooking, make the vinaigrette.

For the vinaigrette: Whisk the oil, vinegar, green onions, a pinch of salt, and a few grinds of black pepper together in a large bowl.

Add the chickpeas, tomatoes, and parsley to the vinaigrette. Toss everything to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning.






Wednesday, August 16, 2017

How Do I Make Dinner From the Farmer's Market?


For most of the year I meal plan by looking at the ads in my local paper and store advertisements, then based on what is on sale, I make my menu plan and then do my shopping. 

It makes the most sense to me to plan first and then with what I already have on hand make a shopping list and then buy the food. 

But in the summer months when my local farmer's market opens and begins to sell a lot of produce and the farm stands by my house are open for business. I do my menu planning a little bit backwards, But I'll explain to you why that makes sense. 


When you get to the farmer's market different things will be on sale depending on what time it is in the season. 

When the markets by me open, they sell a lot of greens, lettuce, kale, chard - the peas are one of the first crops to come on and cherries are pretty early as well. 

When the weather starts to turn really warm, it is just too hot for a lot of the spring crops but the summer fruits and vegetables start to be widely available. I able to find tomatoes, corn, peppers, melons, cucumbers, new potatoes, carrots, beets - I always try and find basic fresh ingredients, cilantro, green onions, and garlic, those are items that I like to almost everything.

Depending on how early or later (or right in the middle) you are in the season, prices and availability will vary. Right now, with the weather and conditions, my local market is over-flowing with tomatoes, the harvest it way larger than planned and so I can get them for a lot less than I would normally pay.  


I buy at the market, what is the most in season and costs the least, those first peaches might be tempting, but they can still be very costly. 

Once I have made my purchases at the market, I bring all home to wash and prep them. Cut up carrots and wash and spin my greens for storage. I actually husk my corn and store in in a plastic zip back for quick cooking and ease of storage, corn with the husks still on can take up a lot of room in the fridge. 

The Big Salad - The first night. we always have a big "salad". Since I am chopping and washing and spinning we just have that for dinner. It isn't really structured and most of the time, I let everyone make their own. This week, we had sliced tomatoes on a plate, sliced cucumbers, fresh corn and I cut a watermelon. It doesn't really look like a salad, but that is what I try to make the first night, since my main focus is on getting everything clean and stored in a way that will make it last all week. 

The Snack Platter - This is actually one of my family's favorite meals. I get all the produce (that I don't have specific plans for) out of the fridge and begin to assemble a platter, I put carrot sticks, lots of times I am able to get both broccoli and cauliflower from my market. I always add whatever fruit is in season, cherries, apricots, pears, peaches and eventually apples. I usually with make some hummus or a veggie dip with greek yogurt and slice some cheese. If the platter is looking a little thin, I'll add some whole grain crackers and we're good to go.  ** This is also a Great end-of-the-week meal, since you can just pull out everything that hasn't been eaten yet and hasn't be used yet. 


Pasta and Veggies - Don't get too caught up in the "I don't have a recipe for pasta". You can make it hot the first night and cold for lunch the next day. Cook your pasta (any shape), and add your veggies. You can add them raw if you like, I usually steam them for this, since I have a bit pot of water boiling anyway. For sauce, I mix a bit of olive oil and a dash of vinegar with some mrs. dash seasoning and it is good to go. It's different every time, so I never feel like I am eating the same thing. If you are nervous about making your own sauce, buy a bottle of Italian dressing and just use that. It can be cold or hot, you can add some grilled chicken or I love to add a cans of beans to mine for a bit of protein. Don't forget greens can be Amazing in pasta! - My favorite pasta to make has lots of spinach. 

Roasted on Bread - This might sound a bit crazy, but trust me, it is so darn good. 

Here is my "recipe" for Cheese Toast with Skillet Veggies. 

The reason that I like this one so much is that you can use it towards the end of the week, when things are looking a little... Uh, less fresh.  You can toss your veggies in a hot skillet, I put mine in the oven and roast them at 425 degrees. Spread some soft cheese on toasted bread and then pile high with veggies. Although it sounds a little bit "rustic" this is a really impressive dinner. It is fancy rustic and if you want, you can pretend that you paid 17.99$ for a plate of it at a fancy restaurant. 

Don't be afraid to buy things at your farmer's market because you aren't sure what to do with them.  Let the produce speak for itself, I buy lots and lots and lots of peaches and I have never a peach pie in my life. We eat them on cereal, with yogurt in parfaits, plain and in smoothies. When you start to eat food fresh from the farm it actually tastes better - I think carrots taste entirely different from my local grower that the baby carrots that I buy in the store during the winter months. Let the food speak for itself.  Pile all your goodies on a plate and call it dinner.  - If I pile it onto a platter and call it "snacks" my kids will eat it up and ask for more. 

Monday, August 14, 2017

Lemon Zucchini Bread


I think zucchini bread is pretty darn good just the way it is. But adding lemon might be making it perfect. It is the easiest addition in the world, I just added a bit of lemon zest at the end of making the batter and that was it. If you wanted to have even more lemon zip, you could add the juice of the lemon that you zested. 


Ingredients

1 1/2 cups shredded zucchini
3/4 cup white sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (whole grain preferred) 
 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons lemon zest



Directions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease an 8x4 inch loaf pan.

In a bowl, beat together the zucchini, sugar, egg, and oil. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder; stir in the cinnamon and lemon zest. Stir the flour mixture into the zucchini mixture just until blended. 

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake 45 minutes in the preheated oven, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. 

Remove from heat, and cool about 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.





Friday, August 11, 2017

Sausage Sheet Pan Supper


Sheet pan suppers are all the rage right now, and once you have made a few, it is easy to see why everyone likes them so much. 

For me, they are a simple as tossing a few ingredients into a crock-pot, except, I don't have to plan ahead. You lay your ingredients out on a sheet pan (I line mine with foil or use a silicone baking sheet for easy clean-up) and put it into the oven. It couldn't be easier than that. 

Lots of recipe include amazing sauces, but you don't really need them. a little bit of olive oil and some salt and pepper will be just fine. The roasting of the vegetables is what makes it taste so darn good. 


I made this dinner with a kielbasa sausage that was made with turkey that I cut into slices. 

Then I had a giant bag of frozen vegetables (these happened to be an Asian mix) that I defrosted for a few minutes in the microwave. I then took the veggies and I dried them off with a paper towel as much as I could.  I think this is the real trick to being able to use frozen vegetables. If you take some of the moisture away they won't just steam in the oven and they'll roast up beautifully. 

I used a tiny bit of olive oil, not too much because the sausage will add a little fat as well. Then I just added some salt and pepper. That was it.  I put it in the oven at 420 degrees and started the timer for 20 minutes. I turned it with a spatula and then set the timer for another 10 minutes. - that was all it took.  But you can keep setting your timer and checking every 10 minutes if you want your veggies darker or you have bigger pieces. 


Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Sesame Kale Salad


This recipe for sesame kale salad is very simple, you only need a few ingredients, and you probably have everything you need to make the dressing in your pantry right now. 

But it also makes a fantastic starting place to make a salad that is packed with all different kinds of fruits and vegetables.  You can add edamame, and a beautiful red pepper. Maybe you want to add mandarin orange segments or a tart crunch asian pear. You could add cilantro or thai basil and thinly sliced jalapeno. 

You could have quite the adventure with this salad, but then again - it is amazing just like this. 


Salad

1 bunch kale (any type of kale works)
fine-grain sea salt
1 large carrot, peeled and ribboned with a vegetable peeler
½ purple onion, very thinly sliced
2 TB sesame seeds

Sesame Ginger Vinaigrette

¼ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon finely grated ginger
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons lime juice
3 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
½ tsp sesame oil



Directions

Use a chef’s knife to remove the tough ribs from the kale, then discard them. Chop the kale leaves into small, bite-sized pieces and transfer them to a mixing bowl. 

Sprinkle the kale with a dash of sea salt and use your hands to massage the kale by scrunching up the leaves in your hands and releasing until the kale is a darker green and fragrant. 

Toss the remaining salad dressing ingredients with the kale.

To make the vinaigrette, whisk together all the ingredients until emulsified. 

Toss the dressing with the salad and serve.