Thursday, May 31, 2012

Friday I'm In Love: Summer Local Foods Edition!

I love summer, and, after last weekend's heat, it's clear that it's here! Summer to me also means amazing food from the farmer's market, berry picking at a friend's farm, light white wine in mason jars, sand volleyball, and all things cool and easy. So, in that spirit, here's what I'm hoping to get into this month with local foods!

I'm in love: with Springria! Possibly making it with berries I'll pick this weekend from Firefly Berries.

I'm in love with: vegan rhubarb swirl ice cream! The rhubarb at the Farmer's market has been calling my name... and how cute is it served in a teacup?!

I'm in love with: Baked Asparagus fries! How good do these look?

I'm in love with: Melon and mint salad! Thanks, T-beans!

I'm in love with: Pretzel ice cream cones. Imagine these with a chocolate and salted caramel ice cream with fresh local cream. Mmm...

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Farmer's (market) bounty; or, Mushroom and Seitan Saute

What a weekend! The Med City Half Marathon weekend came and went. Dinners with teammates, oppressive heat, cool mojitos with friends, strawberry picking... where do I begin!? I'll  get my act together and get photographic documentation of the incredible whirlwind of my weekend with my DetermiNation team and my first half marathon. Pinky promise.

Now, I won't pretend I didn't splurge after my half marathon. There may or may not have been a half batch of chocolate chocolate chip cookie dough that was made and consumed as a combination lunch/dinner after the race. That dough may or may have made it in to the oven (hint: it didn't). So yesterday I had to stop and put something good for me in my face. This simple saute was made with seitan (found next to the tofu at most grocery stores-- but COMPLETELY different from tofu!) and goodies from the Saturday Farmer's Market.

Perfect, mindless, and delicious. But definitely NOT cookie dough.

Mushroom and Seitan Saute

Adapted from Super Natural Every Day 

Olive oil
8 oz seitan, cut into bite-size pieces
1/3 cup slivered almonds
16 oz kale
8 oz baby bella mushrooms, quartered
1 lb asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
3 cloves black garlic, minced
Balsamic vinegar

Put a splash of olive oil into a saute pan. Toss in the seitan, almonds, baby bella mushrooms, asparagus, and garlic. Saute until kale is wilted and mushrooms are cooked through. Season to taste with salt, toss in balsamic vinegar to taste, and serve warm!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Cupcake detox; or Summer Lentil Salad

Sometimes, chocolate is dinner. Last night, in the midst of baking 80+ cupcakes for our DetermiNation dinner tomorrow (more on that later), I definitely left batter at the bottom of the bowl of each batch for consumption in place of dinner.

Sometimes, you need to redeem yourself through your stomach (see aforementioned perfect example). Especially when you have a race to run this weekend!

I whipped this up immediately post-cupcake-batter-binge to bring in for lunch. Redemption through food.

Hearty lentils, light dressing, cool, fresh veggies and grapes... Perfect. I feel better about myself already.

That totally negated every calorie consumed in cake batter, right?

Summer Lentil Salad

Adapted from Giada at Home 

1 cup dried green lentils
1 cup halved red grapes
1 cucumber, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup coarsely chopped cashews, unsalted
Juice of 1 lemon
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper

Bring a pot of water to boil. Add lentils and cook until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and allow to cool.

Combine all ingredients (through cashews) in a bowl until mixed. In a separate bowl, combine the last four ingredients into a dressing. Toss with salad and serve warm or chilled.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Things get weird; or, Blue potato, corn, and black bean salad

Sometimes, things get uncomfortable. Awkward, at best. For me, the past couple of days have been just that.

Saturday: Went for a run. Had my water belt drop mid-stride to around my ankles (too big), and wiped out... in front of a cute guy I know.

Sunday: Sitting in Panera with my running friends, chatting about chub rub. Wouldn't you know it-- the head of my department walks by and notices me just as I emphatically declare "I have the absolute worst chub rub!"

Today: In the middle of class, my coffee lid comes off, and I get covered with lukewarm medium roast. The professor simply remarked "Oh dear," and kept lecturing.

This is a recipe that it is so simple, there's no way to mess it up. You won't trip while making it, it won't contribute to your chub rub, and it won't stain your favorite blue blouse. Make friends with this salad-- it'll hold you and tell you you're pretty, even when things get awkward.

Blue potato, corn, and black bean salad

Adapted from Appetite for Reduction

1 16-oz can sweet corn, rinsed and drained
1 lb blue potatoes, washed and sliced
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 jalapenos, diced finely
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
1 clove garlic, minced
1 160oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
2 tbsp minced shallots
1 tsp fresh cilantro
1 red bell pepper, diced
Salad greens

Place garlic and shallots in a medium saucepan with the oil and salt; cook about a minute. Add the rest of the ingredients, save the salad greens, plus 1/4 cup water. Stir, and cover; allow to steam until potatoes are tender. Serve over mixed greens for a dinner of champions.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Living easy; or, Avocado, Cucumber, and Mushroom Salsa

Today was absolutely gorgeous here in Minnesota-- it felt like the perfect summer day. One of those days where time is slow, and everything you do feels like such a luxury. Went on a nice run, spent a good hour at the farmer's market, planted some herbs, enjoyed some time outside with friends, had a long lazy dinner al fresco... Heck, even the two hours I spent in the completely empty, quiet laboratory and the time spent folding laundry felt delicious.

It's slow, warm days like these that make me crave light, cooling foods. With all the goodies I picked up at the farmer's market, plus some perfect avocados from Trader Joe's, I threw together this salsa recipe that I had been eying. It's almost more of a salad than a salsa, but it deserves a chip as a vehicle for consumption.

So put your feet up, sip some lemonade, and chow down. It's summertime-- and the living should be easy.

Avocado, Cucumber, and Mushroom Salsa

Adapted from Bon Appetit 

1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 jalapenos, minced
2 English hothouse cucumbers, chopped
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp sugar
2 avocados, cubed
8 oz mushrooms, sliced and cleaned
2 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, torn
2 cups grape tomatoes, halved

Place cilantro, garlic, and jalapenos into a freezer bag. Pound with a rolling pin until well mashed. Add cucumbers, salt, and sugar; mix in bag, and allow to macerate at room temperature for 30 minutes. Empty bag into a bowl; mix in all other ingredients until combined. Serve with chips.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Friday I'm in Love!

Mushroom and corn pasta-- so loading up on this before my run!

Since my basil plant is going bonkers, planning on making a giant pitcher of these on Saturday!

I'll be taking this approach to the next couple of weeks.

Possible girls' night in project for Saturday?

After all of this talk about T-Flo, I'm dreaming of a long weekend in San Francisco and eating here.

Happy Friday, all!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

I've got the run-ger; or, Chocolate Toffee Biscotti

So this week is week 1 of our tapering before the half marathon. Our awesome coach, Judy, sent us an extensive email about what to do and not do during tapering:

"These next 2 weeks are a good time to do just enough to keep you sharp - keep your body remembering that you are a runner without pushing too far.  Enjoy that you have a little more time to do other things - just don't have those other things be hard exercise of another kind.  Observe the rest days.  Not even cross training is allowed on your restdays these next 2 weeks."

Alright... so I'll do "other things." I'll use the extra time to make biscotti-- something that's been on my cooking bucket list for a while.

Then I hit this part of her email:

"You will want to watch your food intake the next 2 weeks.  When we train for endurance events we eat more and when we reduce our training volume we don't always adjust our food / calorie intake.  Be careful of that but also don't slash your calories suddenly or by a lot.  Eat normal portions of a well-balanced diet and you will be fine."

Uhm... chocolate toffee biscotti is part of a well-balanced diet, right?

Chocolate Toffee Biscotti

Adapted from Small Batch Baking for Chocolate Lovers 

1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
2 tsp instant espresso powder
Pinch of salt
1 large egg yolk
3 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips, plus an additional 1/3 cup for coating
1/3 cup toffee bits (such as Heath Bar)

Preheat oven to 350F. Line baking sheet with a silpat or parchment paper.

Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl and whisk until blended. In a separate bowl, combine egg, sugar,  butter, and vanilla. Combine the two mixtures until a stiff dough forms; fold in chocolate chips and toffee.

Transfer the dough to a work surface, form into a log, transfer to the baking sheet, and bake 20 minutes. Remove the baked log, and allow to cool completely.

Once cooled, slice on the diagonal into 10 slices. Place slices cut side down on the baking sheet and bake another 15 minutes; remove, flip to other sliced side, and bake a final 15 minutes. Remove and allow to cool completely.

In a microwave-safe bowl, place the coating chocolate chips. Microwave for 20 seconds; remove, stir, and repeat until chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Dip half of each cookie in melted chocolate; roll in toffee bits. Place on parchment or silpat and allow to harden completely. Serve with a nice, fresh latte and good conversation.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Minnesota Nice; or, Tofu Rice Casserole

We had a cold snap last week here in Minnesota. Not shocking, right? Minnesota? Cold?

I took advantage of that chill in the air to make a nice, warm rice casserole. Up here, I learned, anything in a casserole dish is a "hot dish." One of my friends even joked that, up here, kugel becomes a "hot dish."

Well, this "hot dish" is filled with nothing that you'd normally find in such a dish up here. There's no cream. An absence of tuna, ground beef, and cheese. And yet, it is SO rich and comforting that it will put you in a food coma.

Don't wait for the cold to hit again. Make this casserole, curl up with a cup of tea and a good movie, and settle in.

Kale-Tofu-Rice Casserole

Adapted from The New Moosewood Cookbook 

2 cups brown brown basmati rice, uncooked
1 tbsp butter
2 cups diced onion
2 lbs fresh kale, chopped
1 tsp salt
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
Black pepper, to taste
8 oz tofu, pressed and crumbled
panko bread crumbs
4 oz goat cheese

Cook the rice in a saucepan with 3 cups of water. Cover, boil, then reduce to simmer, and cook (35-40 minutes).

Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a 9x13 baking pan with olive oil.

In a skillet, heat the butter until just melted. Add onion, and cook until softened and translucent. Add kale, garlic, and salt; cook until kale is wilted. Stir this mixture into the rice. Add the cayenne pepper, black pepper, crumbed tofu and goat cheese; mix until just combined. Transfer to baking pan, top with panko bread crumbs, and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the panko is browned and the casserole is heated through.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Changing the game; or, Cookie Butter Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

I know, I know... Cookie butter came out at the holidays. And yes, I know it's amazing, life-altering, game-changing, etc. 

So I finally bought some. The butter, for those not in the know, is made from ground up speculoos cookies. It's kind of like a savory, thick, graham cracker/gingerbread-y peanut butter.

Don't hurt me-- it didn't change my worldview. I didn't take to it with a spoon (like I would with Nutella or almond butter). So there I was, jar in hand, going meh... what was I do to?

With the savory spiciness... perhaps it would bake well?

Bingo! Swapped for peanut butter in banana muffins, studded with chocolate chips. That's a game-changer.

The cookie butter comes through with just the right amount of warmth and kick, but is balanced by the sweetness of the banana. The amazing thing is that there's no heaviness to the muffin, like there would be with peanut butter-- surprising, given that the cookie butter is thicker than the former.

Consider the game changed.

Cookie Butter Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Inspired by Cookie Butter and Great Coffee Cakes, Sticky Burns, Muffins, and More

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/3 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup Trader Joe's Cookie Butter
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 very ripe bananas, mashed
1 cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F. Line muffin cups with paper liners.

In a bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. Set aside.

In a stand mixer, combine the bananas, sugars, cookie butter, and yogurt. Once well mixed, add egg and vanilla; mix. Slowly add in the dry ingredients-- batter will look fairly wet. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Fill each muffin cup 3/4 full. Bake 25 minutes, until muffins spring back to the touch. Allow to cool completely, and serve with more cookie butter!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Friday I'm In Love!

I'm in love with: the idea of trying sticky buns at this cafe!

 I'm in love with: the idea of throwing a brunch inspired by this book (which I just got in the mail today!)

I'm in love with: this home improvement project.

I'm in love with: starting a windowsill herb garden (I've got basil and rosemary going right now).

I'm in love with: cold brew coffee for summer!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Even the Energizer Bunny needs to recharge; or, Lime-Cilantro Quinoa Cakes

What a week. A conference, talks, panel discussions, great food (albeit rich and heavy), lab work... It was amazing, but when half a dozen people tell you that you look tired within a span of two hours, you know you need to recharge.

These quinoa cakes are perfect to recharge with. You have to slow down to make them. The lime-cilantro combination is exotic enough that the taste relaxes you instantly, but light enough not to weigh you down.

These quinoa cakes freeze beautifully, and are perfect over a salad of local greens and tomatoes. So take a beat, put on the brakes, and make these summery, guilt free patties.

Lime Cilantro Quinoa Cakes

Inspired by Super Natural Every Day

2 1/2 cups cooked quinoa, room temperature
4 large eggs, beaten well
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 white onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 
Juice of 1 lime 
3 tbsp chopped cilantro

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Preheat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Form mixture into patties, and fry lightly until golden brown on one side; flip it over, cook until golden and crispy on the other side. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

And this is why we can't have nice things; or, Loaded Peanut Butter Cookies

Let's talk about first-world problems.

Figuring out whether or not to buy cookie butter, or whether to stick to peanut butter? First world problem.

Debating whether to spring for a mocha after an 11 mile run or to go for a soy latte? Definitely a first world problem.

Determining how many of these cookies I can eat and still fit in to my little black dress tonight? Beyond a doubt-- first world problem.

I couldn't decide between two cookie recipes, so I smashed them together. I'm pretty sure the amount of peanut butter in this recipe should be illegal.

A brown-sugar peanut butter dough, loaded with chopped peanut butter cups, peanut butter chips, and chopped peanuts. The dough itself is divine.

(I can just picture my dad running out of the kitchen screaming at this point-- he is the only person I know who hates peanut butter. But then again, the man hates oreos, too, so I'm questioning both his sanity and his taste buds).

I ran eleven miles... that means I can eat eleven of these, right?

Loaded Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup butter
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped peanut butter cups
3/4 peanut butter chips
1/2 cup chopped lightly salted peanuts

Preheat oven to 350F. Cream together butter, peanut butter, and sugars. Add egg and vanilla extract and mix well.  

In a separate bowl, mix together dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, oats, salt). Slowly add in to the wet mixture until combined. Fold in the peanut butter cups, salted peanuts, and peanut butter chips. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet. 

Bake 10 minutes, or until lightly browned. Allow to set one minute, then move to cooling rack. Serve with a HUGE glass of milk.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Friday I'm In Love!

What a week, friends! Crazy, bonkers, off-the rocker awful weird week. But still, let's think about happy things...

I'm in love: with these piƱata cookies. Brilliant for Cinco de Mayo!

I'm in love: with this mantra, which has always been one I've held dear, but is now cute and illustrated!

I'm in love: with the idea of hosting a book exchange to find the perfect summer read!

I'm in love: with the thought of this print in my kitchen.

I'm in love: with Mad Men-inspired frames. I *do* need a new pair!

Happy Friday, all!