Its August 4th. Can you believe it? If the summer season were a train, loaded down with multi-colored heirloom tomatoes, plump red bell peppers and blackberries the size of my thumb, I’d be the overwhelmed woman running after it, trying desperately to catch up while grasping wildly at any produce falling off the back. That’s how I feel when I go to the farmer’s market, visit our garden or just take a peek at the bella eats drafts folder.
I’m feeling very behind, watching a pile of seasonal recipes I want to share grow taller and taller and realizing that I’ve been spending a lot of time in the kitchen and behind the camera but not enough at my computer. There are simply too many wonderful foods in season right now and not enough time in the day to cook all of the recipes I’m itching to try, let alone write about them.
I was so overwhelmed last weekend that instead of sitting down to write in order to relieve some of the pressure, I simply closed the lid of my MacBook Pro, poured a lovely glass of vino verde and started baking. It did help, my de-stress baking (or maybe it was the effervescent white wine?), and made me realize that more important than giving you long, wordy posts is sharing with you the quick, simple and healthy meals we've been having at our house.
That is what summer is all about, right? Wonderful, fresh, delicious produce cooked simply and paired with other whole, healthy (hopefully local!) ingredients? If you're on board with that thinking then I have a nice little recipe to share with you. This one was a collaboration between Brian and I, thought up shortly after visiting our farmer's market and coming home with a basket full of local produce and even some locally made chevre. We happened to have a bottle of Saucy Mama Lime Chipotle Marinade in the pantry (for the recipe contest I am participating in) and decided that the tangy, smokey, pleasantly spicy sauce would pair nicely with roasted peppers, sweet corn and creamy goat cheese. Toss it all on top of a toasted whole wheat pita and you've got yourself a delicious, fast and filling summer meal.
Now, as much as I appreciate Saucy Mama asking me to participate in their contest and as much as I really, really, love each of the products I've tried, the purpose of this blog is not product advertisement. So, while I do recommend the Saucy Mama Lime Chipotle Marinade, I know that you can make this recipe with other sauces as well. Look for something tangy with a nice spice that hits you at the sides or back of your mouth, not right at the tip of your tongue.
And, two lucky readers will actually get to try out the Saucy Mama Lime Chipotle Marinade! Just leave me a comment telling me about your favorite summer produce by Sunday, August 9th Monday, August 10th at 6pm EST. I'll announce the winners at the beginning of next week. I'll be hosting one more giveaway, courtesy of Saucy Mama, during the month of August so stay tuned...
Summery Chicken Tostadasserves 4 for a light dinner
3 medium-sized boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Saucy Mama Lime Chipotle Marinade, to marinate chicken in and also to drizzle on top of tostadas
1 red bell pepper, sliced into strips
1 poblano pepper, seeds removed and sliced into strips
1 medium onion, sliced into strips
2 ears of fresh corn, corn removed from husk
2 tbsp olive oil
salt + pepper
4 oz chevre (goat cheese), crumbled
4 whole wheat pitas (8"), brushed with olive oil and toasted in oven
First, turn your oven on to 350*. Coat chicken breasts with marinade and let sit in small glass dish for 10 minutes.
As the oven preheats and the chicken marinates, chop up your veggies and toss in a 9x13 glass dish. Drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Place in oven and set timer to 30 minutes.
When oven timer has 20 minutes remaining, pour excess marinade out of chicken dish. Bake chicken for remaining 20 minutes at 350*.
Pull chicken from oven and bump oven temperature up to 400*. Stir veggies and let roast for an additional 5 minutes, while chicken cools slightly. Place pitas directly on rack to toast, turning halfway through 5 minutes.
After 5 minutes, shred chicken with a fork. Pull pitas and veggies from oven. Place one pita on each plate and top with shredded chicken, roasted veggies and crumbles of chevre. Drizzle Lime Chipotle Marinade over top of tostada, to taste.
I am aware that my posts have been a bit sporadic lately, but I think I've had a pretty good excuse. Life. And the house guests that come with it. Brian and I have been playing host and hostess to a slew of old friends these last couple of weeks, which has been just fabulous but also very time-consuming. We've had a barbeque on our back deck, nights out on the town, quiet evenings in with a bottle (or two!) of wine and, the best by far, a weekend get away to West Virginia. Specifically, LostRiverModern, our favorite modern, pre-fabricated cabin in the woods.
I know that this is a food blog. But you have to understand that I am also a designer, armed with 6 years of education at two different architecture schools and several years of practical experience. And I simply cannot return from such a fabulous place with such wonderful memories and not share it with you. I just can't. So please bear with me - there are plenty of food photos and I even have a recipe for a simple and healthy chicken salad waiting for you at the end. And, when you're through, you should really check out LostRiverModern'swebsite and blog. And then book yourself a weekend get-away. You won't be disappointed.
I'll be back to regular recipe posting this week, as I have a backlog of drafts to publish. And, thank you all for the very sweet comments on my last post for key lime butter cookies. I'm glad that you enjoyed it. As for the cookies, I made a batch (for the third time - in one week) to take with us to the cabin. They were gone the first day.
[taken when we visited last October]
[potato salad with olives]
[burgers with roasted cherry tomatoes and pepper jack cheese]
[turkey and veggie chili mac]
[many games of rummy - I had to throw this in because of my incredible, once-in-a-lifetime lead. In case you can't read it, my column says "550" while Brian's says "20". Oh yes.]
[the owners are dog-friendly!!!!!]
We can't wait to return. Many thanks to Chris and Sarah for sharing their beautiful home.
Chicken Salad with Cranberries and Walnutsserves 4 as a filler for a lunch wrap or a side with dinner
3 medium chicken breasts, cooked (I baked mine for 35 minutes at 350*, with a bit of olive oil and salt + pepper]
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup slivered almonds
3 tbsp plain, nonfat yogurt
3 tbsp honey mustard dressing (I make my own and keep it in the fridge, always, using this recipe)
On Sunday we were invited to a pot luck dinner. Now, I don't have a whole lot of experience with pot luck dinners by name, but I do have experience with "bring a side dish to share" barbecues and croquet parties, which in my mind are synonymous with the idea of a pot luck. The memories of these parties evoke thoughts of white dresses, sunshine and bare feet running across soft grass while chasing after brightly-colored balls, one hand grasping a mallet, the other a cold beer. In one word...summer. So when I was laying in bed Sunday morning and asked my hubb what we should prepare to bring to the pot luck that night, and he said "how 'bout your olive potato salad", it made perfect sense. Of course, potato salad would be divine at the "pot luck" dinners of my mind.
Unfortunately, the pictures in my head wavered when I opened the blinds that same morning and discovered a light dusting of snow covering the ground. It didn't take long for those warm, summer thoughts to be completely shattered when I checked the forecast and read about the 3"-5" of snow that were expected to fall on us over the next 24 hours. This was all a big surprise to me, since I ran in shorts in 60* weather just 2 days prior. Snowball fights and sledding, although enjoyable, were not part of my plan.After debating other options for a few minutes I decided to forge ahead with my summer-time favorite, regardless of the weather. This winter has claimed many of my on-the-road runs, most outdoor dining possibilities in Charlottesville and occasionally the feeling in my fingers and toes... I wasn’t about to let it have my premature potato salad too. Plus, potatoes are in season. Its not my salad’s fault that I associate it with warm-weather fun and games. I found this recipe years ago and have made it many times, for most events where we are asked to bring a dish to share. This potato salad is not only easy and delicious, it is also a much healthier take on the classic mayonnaise-dripping versions of my childhood. It will keep, covered and refrigerated, for about 5 days. My hubb is always happy to pack leftovers in his lunches no matter what time of year it is. He says it goes best with a turkey + pepper jack sandwich.Ripe Olive Potato Saladoriginally from here
3 lbs red potatoes, scrubbed and diced (I leave the skin on)
1-2/3 cup sliced black olives
3 ribs celery, chopped
1/3 cup chopped scallions
1-1/2 tsp white vinegar
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1-1/2 tsp sea salt
3/4 tsp dried dill
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 cup plain fat-free yogurt
2 tsp mustard
1 tsp honey
1/4 tsp garlic salt
Boil potatoes in a large soup pot until tender, but not falling apart. Drain and allow to cool.
Add olives, celery and scallions to potatoes and gently mix.
Whisk together the vinegar, oil, salt, dill and pepper. Pour over potatoes and gently mix to coat.
Whisk together yogurt, honey, mustard and garlic salt. Pour over potato mixture and stir gently but thoroughly. Chill for 1 hour before serving.
On the job front: My meeting went really well yesterday! I am very excited to tell you that I accepted a position with my hubb’s firm and will be starting on Monday. It is a huge relief to know that I will be transitioning out of one job and directly into another without any period of unemployment. I am amazed that the timing worked out so beautifully and feel extremely fortunate. Thank you all, again, for your continued support and lovely notes. Its been a loooooong week but I really think that everything has worked out for the best and am grateful to all parties involved for the graceful handling of the whole situation. It could have been much scarier had things not been handled so well.In blog news: You may have noticed that I’m trying something a little different this week, a few less posts that concentrate on specific recipes rather than my normal food diary format. There are many reasons for this, time and boredom being a couple of them. There was a day this week, Sunday I think, when I just could not bear the thought of telling you that I had my standard oats for breakfast and a salad for lunch. And there are only so many ways for me to photograph a sweet potato with edamame and corn on top. I just wasn’t enjoying writing my posts as much and didn’t like the pressure I was feeling to get a post out every single day, regardless of whether or not I had anything interesting to say. Sometimes, my days are boring and so are my eats, and I put ridiculous pressure on myself to try and make them interesting, which is where the time factor comes in. So this week has been a test, to see if I like this new format and if it aligns with the direction that I think I want to take the blog. I’m still working things out, but expect a decision, and a longer-winded post, sometime this weekend. Until then, thanks for reading. I appreciate each and every one of you.GIVEAWAY! I know you all saw the numerous bottles of Country Bob’s All-Purpose Sauce popping up in blogland a couple of weeks ago. Unfortunately I received my Country Bob’s in the middle of a big deadline week at work, so didn’t get a chance to really rave about how wonderful this sauce is and how much I enjoyed it on baked chicken and as a dipping sauce for ‘taters and veggies. Its REALLY good, and I can’t wait to fire up the grill (maybe this weekend?!?) and try it out on some pork tenderloin.The kind folks over at CB’s have offered to give TWO of my readers TWO bottles of the All-Purpose Sauce. All you have to do is leave a comment on this post for one chance to win. If you mention the giveaway on your blog and link back to this post you will have a second chance to win. Do all that by midnight tomorrow (Friday) and I will announce the winners sometime on Saturday. Good luck!
Yay Wednesday! Whew, I'm tired tonight bloggies! I'm going to try to keep my writing short and sweet tonight...but I apologize in advance if its not. You know me, I love talkin' about my food! :)
Breakfast: Ezekiel plain english muffin (so good!), 1 tsp whipped Earth Balance, 2 egg whites scrambled with spinach and a small slice of pepper jack cheese. Also, 1/2 an apple. Yum! The pepper jack cheese was the perfect spicy touch on my egg sandwich...loved it!
Lunch: a salmon spinach salad. I had about 2.5oz of salmon leftover from last night, 1/2 cup of TJ's Harvest Blends and 2 cups of fresh spinach. I also crumbled 4 walnut halves on top and squeezed blood orange juice all over it. SO TASTY!!! I'm usually a little weary of leftover fish, but I actually really loved the salmon icy cold on top of a salad. Also, a blood orange.
Snacks: I forgot to take pictures! :( I had a single-serve Oikos, blueberry flavor, at 3:30 and a Quaker True Delights granola bar at 5:00. Both were delicious and kept me fueled for yoga.
Exercise: YOGA!!! Oh how I love going to classes. Tonight I tried out a new studio that several friends have recommended numerous times. They are running a special right now that all new students can sign up for unlimited classes for one month for only $50!!! I jumped on that, so you'll be seeing lots of yoga workouts popping up on the blog for the next 4 weeks. WooHoo! :) I'm excited to improve my balancing and upper body strength...I am majorly lacking in that area of yoga. Tonight's class was a 90 minute Intro to Ashtanga. I've always gone to Vinyasa classes, which are very similar to Ashtanga, but I think Ashtanga has the potential to be more strenuous. Both are considered to be power yoga, and both leave me dripping with sweat. I really enjoyed it and am looking forward to trying out more classes at the studio! :)
I wasn't sure how to count my calories...myfooddiary isn't too specific. They just break up yoga into "power" and "stretching". So I counted 60 minutes of "power" and 30 minutes of "stretching", figuring I was REALLY working for at least 2/3's the class, and the other 1/3 was warm-up and cool-down. Anybody have any other suggestions?
My hubb and I cooked dinner together tonight. I love that! We made a healthier version of lasagna, inspired by the Moosewood Low-Fat Favorites Cookbook, one of my faves.
Dinner: "healthified" veggie lasagna and a small glass of cabernet
[about 550 cal]
This lasagna was SO good, and while we couldn't eat it every night, it is so much healthier than my old meaty, cheesy, creamy versions from the past.
Healthified Veggie Lasagna [inspired by the Moosewood Cafe Low-Fat Favorites Cookbook]
8 servings443 calories, 11.9g fat, 4.9g sat fat, 59.6g carbs, 6.3g fiber, 21.5g proteinIngredients:
16oz brown rice lasagna noodles, cooked until al dente'
one jar of marinara sauce, about 3 cups
2 cups low-fat cottage cheese
1-1/2 cups part-skim shredded mozzarella, divided
1/4 cup parmesan
4 cups fresh spinach
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup red wine
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped
2 bell peppers, sliced
3 portobello mushroom caps, sliced
1 can diced tomatoes
1 small jar of sliced olives
salt + pepper
Boil lasagna noodles until al dente, set aside. Preheat oven to 350*.
Heat oil in saute pan over medium heat. Saute garlic, onions, peppers, mushrooms for 2-3 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of wine and stir well. Add tomatoes and bring back to a boil. Reduce heat and cover pan. Simmer for about 10 minutes.
Rinse spinach and drain. Place in sauce pan and cover, turning heat to medium high. Stir occasionally, until spinach is wilted. (Should cook with just water clinging to leaves after rinsing). Chop spinach and mix together with cottage cheese, 1 cup of mozzarella and parmesan.
Spoon 1/2 cup of marinara sauce into bottom of 9x13 glass pan. Add one layer of noodles. Spoon 1/3 of veggies (use slotted spoon) on top of noodles. Add 1/3 of cheese/spinach mixture. Sprinkle 1/3 of olives on top. Add another layer of noodles. Spoon 1/2 cup of sauce on top of noodles, then veggies, cheese mixture and olives. Repeat. Add one final layer of noodles and last of sauce on top. Sprinkle last 1/2 cup of mozzarella across top.
Bake at 350* for 20 minutes.
Must. Go. To. Bed. G'night! :)
Edited to AddDaily Total:
calories consumed = 1492
calories expelled = 400
net calories = 1092
Light again! I'm really not meaning too...I'll grab a date before bed. Promise. :)
Hello bloggies! I'm going to try and catch up on some recipe posts from my first few days in Florida. It was such a whirlwind around here with the holidays that it was all I could do to keep up with food journal posts (and I didn't do that great of a job at that!). So, stay tuned for a flurry of posts over the next 48 hours, I'm hoping to be all caught up before we leave for Virginia Tuesday morning. I promise to keep the writing as short as possible so that you can easily skim...
Our first night in town we had my stepfather's meatloaf and my momma's mac & cheese...a perfect combination if you ask me.
Joe's Meatloaf (a fabulous, healthier version of a classic favorite...)
makes 6-8 servings
1 lb ground pork
1 lb ground turkey
1 onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
1/4 cup Italian bread crumbs
splash of worcestershire sauce
splash of hot sauce
squeeze of tomato paste
Provencal herb mix (thyme, oregano, parsley) to taste
1 tbsp roasted garlic, minced
salt + pepper to taste
Blend all ingredients together in mixer.
Form into loaf in large baking dish.
Bake at 350* for 1 hour 15 minutes.
Momma's Mac & Cheese (I did a slightly healthier version here)
1 lb macaroni noodles
2 bags of shredded cheese (about 4 cups) - I like cheddar and monterrey jack or mozzarella
1 cup milk
salt + pepper
3 tbsp butter, cut into pieces
Spray a casserole dish with cooking spray.
Boil macaroni noodles until al dente.
Spread about 1/3 of the macaroni noodles in the bottom of the baking dish.
Sprinkle about 1/3 of the cheese over the noodles and sprinkle with salt + pepper.
Repeat until you have 3 layers, ending with the last of the cheese.
Whisk together the 2 eggs and 1 cup of milk. Pour over the top of the casserole dish. Add enough milk until it reaches 1/2 way up the side of the casserole dish. (its easier to tell if you use a clear glass dish, but you can wiggle an opaque dish back an forth to see where the milk level is).
Spread the pats of butter across the top of the casserole.