Category Archives: what i’m cooking today

My Perfect Summer Meal

There’s nothing I love more in the summer than panzanella with a nice glass of white wine. I discovered this Italian bread salad a few years ago, and I look forward to the weather getting warm every year so I can enjoy it, preferably near an open window with sun streaming in and a light breeze.

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I’m not big on exact measurements and usually just adjust to taste, so I recommend you do the same! For myself, I used about 2/3 a demi baguette, 1.5 small tomatoes and probably about 12 ciliegine mozzarella balls (cherry tomato size), cut in half. I made too much, and will have soggy leftovers tomorrow!

Delicious Summer Panzanella
Italian bread, cut or torn into bite-sized pieces (day-old is best, but not required!)
Good extra virgin olive oil
Garlic
Salt
Pepper
Tomatoes*
Fresh mozzarella
Basil (dried will work but fresh will take this over the edge!)

*Don’t you even consider using regular grocery store tomatoes! Organic, local, heirloom, etc. is the only way to go!

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix bread with enough olive oil to moisten (ugh, hate that word! But it really gets the point across, ya know?), and season with minced garlic, salt and pepper. Tonight, I actually used Stonehouse garlic olive oil which was fab, but reg. extra virgin and fresh garlic works just as well.

Spread bread on baking sheet and place in preheated oven for 5+ minutes, until bread is crispy but still chewy. Remove from oven.

While bread is cooling, chop tomatoes and mozzarella into bite-sized pieces. Mix a few glugs of olive oil with a splash of balsamic (I told you I’m not big on exact measurements!) and add basil, tomatoes and mozzarella. Add bread and let sit for about 10 minutes, if you can stand it! You can also eat this immediately, but it’s nice to let the flavors mingle a little.

Enjoy!

I recommend making a small amount, because 1) you’re not going to be able to stop eating it or 2) if you have any willpower whatsoever, the bread will get soggy. 🙂

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Tonight, I enjoyed this with a glass of Handley Gewürztraminer, a great Gewurtz that isn’t too sweet. I’m a member the Handley wine club and anxiously awaiting their members BBQ in a few weeks. I’d also recommend Toulouse Pinot Gris or La Crema Chardonnay, my other current favorite whites!

What’s your quintessential summer meal?

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Cookie Time

Gather round you friends of mine,
I’m Pretty Green Girl and it’s Cookie Time!

Sorry, had to throw a little Troop Beverly Hills in there. One of my favorite movies of all time! Who remembers it? I’m actually trying to figure out a way to play it for all my friends when we go glamping next month, but I can’t figure out how to do it without any electricity (15 girls gathered around a laptop might be too much). Any ideas? We’re not going to be close enough to the car to run power from it…

Anyway, as promised, here’s that cookie recipe I alluded to the other day! They’re kind of like halfway between a cookie and a muffin, with a bit of the taste of a thumbprint cookie (must be the whole stick of butter…mmm).

Strawberry-Blueberry Muffin Cookies

I started with this recipe for blueberry oatmeal cookies, but kind of just threw together what I had.

Preheat oven to 350

1 stick butter, softened
1 stick (1/2 cup) salted butter, softened
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Few splashes agave nectar
1 cups oat bran
1 cup white whole wheat flour
Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
Handful blueberries
Handful sliced strawberries

I totally forgot to cream the butter with the sugar – you’d think I’d never baked before! So here’s what I did, though it might not be the best method. 🙂

Mix sugar, flour and oat bran in a mixing bowl
Add the rest of the ingredients, minus the fruit and agave.
Add a little agave nectar, tasting the batter to make sure it’s sweet enough, but not too sweet. Be careful not to overstir so the batter doesn’t get dry or tough.
Add the fruit and stir to combine.
Bake at 350 on parchment or a Silipat (more eco-friendly!) or a sheet greased with butter!

They took about 14 minutes, but I set the timer for 10 and then just kept checking them. I’d guess it made about 22 cookies or so.

And they were delicious, if I do say so myself. Not exactly healthy (though whole wheat), but real butter is what makes them good! I think I’d experiment with cutting some of the butter and sugar in the future, but I was really pleased with how they turned out, and they were perfect for my family camping trip!

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Speaking of camping, how cute is my little brother? He’s 7 – big age difference, huh? He’s a half-brother. 🙂 Our campsite was just down the road from this great apple farm. Unfortunately apples aren’t in season yet – and I really wanted some because I LOVE apples – but they did have amazing organic apple juice and other apple products. And the old man working there was so adorable! You leave your money in a little cash box and take the change – honor system. I love that!

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After our last day of camping, my sister and I met my mom, who lives nearby, at a winery for a picnic. My Mom is an amazing cook and hostess and this picnic was fabulous, of course! We met at Toulouse Vineyards which had amazing wine. We actually went wine tasting the day before, and while I really liked those places a lot, Toulouse blew me away! I loved everything I tried – a Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, and two Pinot Noirs. I thought I didn’t like Pinot Noir, but I am slowly changing my mind, thanks to the Anderson Valley.

Anyway, here’s the Farmers Market-filled spread my Mom brought for us – organic baby carrots, farm-fresh deviled eggs, asparagus, LOCAL sea salt (amazing), sliced radishes (divine when sprinkled with said sea salt), wraps filled with hummus, havarti, roasted red pepper and roasted garlic (both of which she roasted), organic sparkling pear juice, and her first homemade cherry pie. YUM!

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Thanks, Mom!

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Check out that view!

So, what did you do this weekend?

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Passover-Inspired Quinoa Porridge

I’m celebrating Passover this week, and it’s been rough! I’m actually not very religious – I consider myself a “cultural Jew,” meaning I enjoy the traditions and celebrating holidays with my family, but I didn’t grow up going to temple or anything. But I always like a challenge, so Passover is perfect! I haven’t been too strict – basically just no bread, wheat (besides whole wheat matzoh) or oatmeal. That one was tough – seeing all the delicious bowls of oatmeal on all the food blogs has nearly killed me! But I’m almost done, so a big bowl of oat bran with almond butter, or peanut butter, or lemon curd, or butter and a poached egg (my favorite) has my name on it tomorrow!

I just really wanted a big bowl of something warm with a lot of flavors today, so I decided on quinoa porridge – since quinoa is a seed, it is technically allowed. Yay!

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I’ve made quinoa porridge before from this recipe out of Clean Eating, but I decided to mix things up and make it even more Passover-esque: charoset-inspired quinoa porridge! I’ve been craving charoset since Red Head, Yellow Dog posted about it, and thought it would be awesome to incorporate into this breakfast.

If you haven’t heard of it, charoset represents the mortar used by enslaved Jews in Egypt. It is traditionally made of chopped apples, cinnamon, walnuts and sweet red wine (hello, Manischewitz). Sometimes it contains honey, sometimes lemon, sometimes dried fruit. I decided to incorporate all these things, except the red wine because 1. I don’t have any open and 2. I had to go to work after eating breakfast. 🙂

Here’s what I did. The recipe takes about 30 or so minutes, so it’s great to double it. I usually make this with berries as well, but I don’t have any right now. Can’t wait until the Farmers Market!

1/2 cup quinoa
1 cup water
Milk or yogurt
Chopped apple
Chopped nuts – I usually used pecans but went with walnuts today
Agave nectar or honey (optional)
Toppings of your choice!

Bring water and quinoa to a boil, then cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until water is absorbed. Be careful to turn the temperature low enough so that it doesn’t burn – mine did, a little bit, but it worked out ok.

Uncover and add a good splash of yogurt. I usually use milk, but I’m out so I used Wallaby Vanilla Bean. I also added a splash more water, and let it simmer 10 min uncovered.

Turn off heat and add chopped apple (I used a small one from my CSA), chopped walnuts (bought in bulk!) and cover for 10 min. Or less if you’re impatient! Add toppings and enjoy!

I mixed in a little bit of honey, and topped my bowl with golden raisins (I like them better on top so they’re still chewy!) and a dollop of lemon curd. Since charoset occasionally calls for lemon, what better use for my delicious, locally-made lemon curd?

With the honey, yogurt, lemon curd and raisins, I must admit this was a very sweet bowl. I think it would have been better if I’d just used milk. Adjust to taste!

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Daylight Savings and Dinner

I am loving the time change! Although I wasn’t too psyched this morning (why can’t they do it on a Friday night so we have time to get used to it?), it was so nice driving home from the gym at 6:30 with the sun still shining bright! As soon as I got home I decided to take a little walk down into my neighborhood to return a book to the library and a movie to our local video store (both The Prize Winner of Defiance, OH from my book club). I unfortunately have to drive to work which I plan on posting about soon, but I try to drive as little as possible when I’m in “The City.” On my walk today, I walked by a cute little corner store run by a Middle Eastern family and I decided to pop in to see if I could buy a container of their hummus. I was totally craving it earlier today, but instead of going to a chain store, I thought it would be nice to support a family-owned business. Especially in this economy, and with so many stores in my neighborhood (and probably yours, too!) going out of business, it’s great to be able to support them. I know I am extraordinarily lucky to live in such a walkable city with so many amazing local businesses, but I encourage you to try to do the same! If you can shop at a smaller mart, even if it’s a little more expensive, do so! Even if it’s just an item or two. Don’t feel like cooking? Try an inexpensive restaurant nearby – or bring your own tupperware for takeout!

I know you all know what a container of hummus looks like, but I wanted to point out that it came in plastic. I should have asked if I could bring my own container. Next time I will either try that or see if they can refill this one if I bring it back in clean. I’m not sure if they are “allowed” to do that, but maybe they will.

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Anyway, after my walk, it was dinner time! I made this yummy Salmon with Orange Pan Sauce the other night, though I adjusted down the sauce for 1 piece of salmon, and added a bunch of minced shallots, because I can’t get enough of them! I loved the sauce, so I decided I’d try it on chicken tonight. I’m not really too into measuring recipes these days, but this is approximately what I used to make sauce for one chicken breast:
1/4 cup white wine (leftover from book club)
2 garlic cloves (from my CSA)
2 pieces of shallot (from my CSA. It was super juicy when I put it in my garlic press, which made me laugh. Shallot juice?)
1/8 cup rice wine vinegar
Glug of honey (local)
Shake of red pepper flakes
Couple squeezes of juice from an orange (from my CSA), and about 1/3 or so of the fruit of the orange, diced

I cooked the (organic) chicken my favorite way – heated up olive oil in a pan, salted and peppered the breast and seared it about 2 minutes on each side, then threw it in a 450 degree oven for about 18 minutes. Meanwhile, I boiled/simmered the sauce until it reduced. That’s it! I served it with a small amount of leftover sweet potato, mashed up with part of one of my CSA giant red potatoes. I expected to add butter or salt but it didn’t need it at all. Plus, some steamed broc. Yum! The sauce was equally delicious on the chicken as it was on the salmon. Pictured here: tap water in a wine glass. Yeah, I’m fancy.

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Other random thoughts:

*Loving Tina’s 31-Days of Yoga Challenge! I’ve done it every day so far – either hour-long classes at the gym, Comcast On Demand programs, or free 20-minute YogaDownload podcasts

*The weather has been really nice here lately, and I went on a great 7-mile-run on Saturday, I think subconsciously inspired by Sarah, who knocked out an awesome 9.4 miles that day! I haven’t been running much outside (or, like at all) since my last half-marathon (I did one last August and one last October). I’ve been sticking to my usual gym classes and treadmill, but I figured this saves energy (no need to plug anything in) and got me outside! Win-win.

*I need to do a post about the homemade hot fudge and whipped cream and local ice cream we had last night. Amazing! There is NO need to ever buy whipped cream from a spray can or tub if you have a mixer. Nothing beats fresh whipped cream. I’m even saving what’s left to put in my coffee or chocolate almond milk this week.

*I way overuse parenthesis (but hey, I like them).

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What I’m Cooking Today: Homemade Chocolate Brownie ZBars

I love Clif Zbars, especially the fact that they are organic and use natural ingredients, are low in calories, and are – for me – local, but hate the fact that they are individually packaged. Tres wasteful! So I thought I’d attempt to make something similar on my own.

The batter for this was great and tasted a lot like what I wanted it to, but they came out a bit cakey after they were baked. I think I should have avoided the egg white. Any great bakers out there have any suggestions for a chewier, less-cakey product that better replicates a delicious Zbar? I’ve never baked from scratch without a recipe, so any suggestions on the chemistry would be much appreciated! They were still good, but a lot more like a muffin.

Here’s my recipe. I kind of threw things into a bowl, but weighed them so I’d have the measurements in case it came out well.
Roman Meal (34g)
Rolled oats (46g)
Medjool dates (48g)
Unsweetened cocoa (20g)
Milk (1.5 oz)
Egg white (1)
Agave nectar (6g)

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I threw the Roman Meal, oats and dates in the food processor and blended that up for a bit, then mixed in the rest of the ingredients. Using this teeny tiny loaf pan and smooshing the rest into the edge of another regular size loaf pan (the batter was thick enough that it stayed in place), I baked the batter for 15 minutes at 350 degrees. Here’s how they came out:

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It actually made about 4 bars total, about the size of Zbars (hard to tell from this picture). Here’s the nutritional info, if you’re interested! This could obviously be adjusted if you made it into 3 slightly larger bars, etc.
Calories: 129
Fat: 2.025
Sat fat: 0.225
Carbs: 27.25
Fiber: 5
Sugar: 10.05
Protein: 5.975

Pretty great nutritionals, actually! Again, not quite what I was going for, texture-wise, but still a nice treat or pre/post-gym snack! Bakers – any tips??

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What I’m Cooking Today: Eggs with Chanterelles and Leeks

I was starving after my trip to the Farmers Market this morning, but decided I could make something delicious at home as opposed to spending $10 for breakfast at the Market (though I’m sure it would have been delicious).

On the menu:
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Leeks and chanterelle mushrooms sauteed in a little butter, then scrambled with 2 eggs
Sliced strawberries (organic and from CA! I picked them up at Bi-Rite yesterday)
Sliced pear, from the Farmers Market
Grapes from the Farmers Market
Whole wheat toast, from bread bought at a local bakery (Noe Valley Bakery), with real butter

If anyone’s curious, I calculated out the nutritional info for this meal: there are 371 calories and 18 grams of protein. Not bad for a filling breakfast made with real butter and other “real” ingredients!

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What I’m Cooking Today: Royal Purple

My CSA is off this week, and I just ran out of vegetables! After a fun boot camp class at the gym, I was totally craving Brussels sprouts (I’m weird, I know), but Whole Foods only had ones imported from Mexico. Boo! So I had to improvise. I picked up some California-grown organic purple cauliflower and broccoli to roast, and made a Fulton Valley chicken breast with pan gravy, from a Rachael Ray (hey, she’s not so bad IN PRINT) magazine recipe.

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Roasted Cauliflower & Broccoli
Preheat oven to 400-425
Cut cauliflower and broc into even sized pieces, mix with small amount of olive oil (I used 1 tsp) and sea salt. Roast!

That’s it! I roasted them for about 30 minutes – just enough to the point where they were fork-tender with browned edges.

Chicken Breast with Pan Gravy (original recipe here)

You need:
Chicken breast
Shallots, minced
Wine (white or red, doesn’t matter)
Stock or broth (I used a veg bouillon cube – way less packaging! – mixed with boiling water)
Salt, pepper

Preheat oven to 400
Salt and pepper both sides of one chicken breast (the one I used was just under 6 oz)
Heat up one tsp olive oil over medium heat in a pan (I used stainless steel). When pan is hot, add chicken and sear one side for about 2 minutes. You’ll know it’s ready when it easily releases from the pan and doesn’t stick. Flip and sear the other side for another minute or two. Throw the whole pan in the oven for approx 15-18 minutes, depending on the the thickness of the breast.

Remove pan from oven and set on the stovetop over medium heat. Don’t forget the pan handle is hot!! I use a silicone handle sleeve, but before I got that, I burned myself many times. D’oh! Set the chicken aside on a plate to rest. Meanwhile, add the minced shallots (amount to your liking – I used a bunch!) to the pan and saute for a minute or two. Add wine (I used 2 oz of cab) and cook until slightly reduced, then add broth (I used about 1/3 cup), bring to a boil and let reduce. Add the chicken back to the pan to warm up a little. Serve with the sauce spooned over the chicken – and over the veggies, too, if you’d like!

This was a very purple meal, between the cauliflower and the wine reduction! Mmm, Anthocyanins. Nutritious, pretty low-calorie, and easy to make!

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