Monday, May 24, 2010

Box o' Goodies: Bring on the CSA

Today was the first day of deliveries for my CSA, Lancaster Farm Fresh.  As I've heard it is with most CSAs, the first week was a bit boring, and so I have no photos since almost everything was green - I'm holding off for the pictures of a massive cornucopia of amazing produce!  The farmers dealt with a cold snap during the spring, and so the berries and other produce are a bit slow, but we did get some amazing food this week.

Inside the box (I get a half-share):
1 large head red lettuce
2 small heads green lettuce
1 giant bundle kale
2 bundles scallions (or green onions, if you're from the Midwest like me!)
small container microgreens
small bag wrinkle crinkle cress
1 pint strawberries

I spent some time cleaning and chopping this afternoon, which I think is absolutely critical to successful produce buying - not just from the CSA, but from the store, too.  If you buy it and shove it in the back of the fridge, it'll never get eaten - just chopping, washing, and portioning out the food makes it much easier to use all your produce.  With a CSA or any organic produce, this is especially important since there will be dirt and perhaps a few little critters hitching a ride, and getting these out ASAP is always best.

Already I have enjoyed a small salad with strawberries, blueberries, goat cheese, and balsamic, along with some kale chips (I followed the recipe from Smitten Kitchen, except baked them at 375 for 15 minutes).  This week is thesis committee meeting time, so I don't have time to do anything overly creative - I'm sticking with leftovers for my main meals.  The scallions are calling to me, though - they smell so delicious, I may be making some scallion pancakes later this week!!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Summer food I can't wait for

It's almost summer, and I'm super excited!  Of course, I want to go swimming, watch the fireworks on the 4th of July, and enjoy summer running weather, but I'm most looking forward to the summer food.  Here are the things I'm most excited about culinarily:

- Finally starting getting food from my CSA - I signed up for a CSA a few months ago, and next week they start delivering food.  I'm excited for the fresh, local produce, and for the challenge of making meals out of it.  Bring it on :)

- Water ice - If you're not in Philly, this is just Italian ice.  But really it's so much more, and so very Philly.  Can't wait to have a coconut one from John's Water Ice!

- Burgers on the grill

- Enormous amounts of watermelon - my favorite summer fruit

- Watermelon sorbetto and sea salt gelato from Capogiro - Best. Combination. Ever.

Enough for now - don't want to get overexcited when it's not quite summer yet!

BBQ Tempeh Nachos

I have a new favorite quick meal for the end of a long day!  I have been very busy at work lately, and this is the easiest meal I've made in quite some time.  This recipe is for one person, but can also be scaled up to feed more people - or if you make this with other food (instead of being a tired grad student like me), this much nacho filling would be plenty as an appetizer for a few people!

BBQ Tempeh Nachos

1/2 block tempeh
cooking spray (like Pam)
Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce
Shredded cheese (I used 2% milk Mexican cheese)

4 small corn tortillas
cooking spray, salt, & pepper


Cut corn tortillas into wedges with a pizza cutter.  Spray both sides of wedges with cooking spray, then spread out on a pizza pan.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then bake at 400 F for 10 minutes or until chips are crispy.

While wedges are cooking, heat a pan over medium heat and add cooking spray.  Once pan is warm, crumble 1/2 block of tempeh into the pan.  Heat for 3-5 minutes or until crumbles are warmed through and beginning to brown.  Add BBQ sauce to taste, diluting a bit with water.  Cook for 2 more minutes or until the entire mixture is warm and the sauce is beginning to thicken.

Serve tempeh filling with corn tortilla nachos.  Major yum :)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The best breakfast

Every weekday morning when I get up, the first thing I think about is breakfast.  I know some people skip breakfast and some people just have coffee, but I MUST have food to start the day.  And according to several studies, breakfast is the most important I think I'm healthier this way :)

I used to mix up my breakfasts every morning, but lately I've been sticking to the same general thing each day.  Oat bran is my go-to meal because it's packed with fiber, protein, and iron (all very important for a woman in her 20s!) - and also because it's low in fat and relatively low in calories.  1/3 cup of Trader Joe's oat bran has 130 calories and 3 g of fat....about even with a bowl of low-sugar cereal with milk.  If I add in extra protein and vitamins by mixing in fruit and peanut butter or almond butter, I've got a meal that's totally balanced, and also incredibly delicious!  One bowl, which with mix-ins is around 280 calories, keeps me full from breakfast (around 7 am) until lunch time (around noon), so I keep myself from snacking all morning long - that way, I save my snack for the 3pm slump :)

To keep my breakfasts a little varied, I change up the mix-ins for my oat bran all the time.  My absolute favorite so far is white peaches and blueberries with almond butter.....but since both of those fruits are out of season now, I'm sticking with apples or pears these days.  Today's bowl was one of my best....pears, pomegranate seeds, and almond butter.  I hope you try'll love it, I promise!

Oat Bran with Pears, Pomegranate Seeds, and Almond Butter

1/3 cup Trader Joes oat bran
1 cup water
1 pear, cut into bite-size cubes
2 tbsp pomegranate seeds  (I removed all seeds from a pomegranate and stored in the refrigerator)
1 tbsp Trader Joes creamy, unsalted almond butter

On stove top, heat up oat bran and water.  Start with burner on high until the oat bran starts to bubble, then turn down to medium-low and stir frequently until the oat bran reaches your desired consistency.  While oat bran is cooking, core and slice a pear.  Add oat bran, pear, and pomegranate seeds to a bowl, and top with a little bit of almond butter.  Mix, then enjoy!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Food news: Wegmans grocery store in Mt. Laurel opens a liquor store

For those of you in the Philadelphia/New Jersey area, check out the Wegmans store in Mt. Laurel.  This weekend, they opened a brand new liquor store, and the celebration was spectacular.

As someone who has lived in four major cities and moved around a lot in the last few years, I know a lot about what makes a good grocery store.  Each time I've moved, I've sought out the best grocery store in the area - since I love to cook, it's important that I find somewhere with quality ingredients and decent prices.  Wegmans has more than met that challenge for me here in Philly, and I can't say enough about how spectacular the store is.

The celebration this weekend was fun, with music and food samples throughout the store.  Their liquor store features $6 bottles of wine, and has quite a selection of wine and liquor.  I even bought a bottle of Riesling at a sample table, only to find out that the people giving the samples were actually the vineyard owners, and they signed my bottle!  It was a blast, and I'll definitely be back to the store inside Wegmans again.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Mushroom Pasta

I'm having a super-busy week, so I apologize for not posting more, but here's something I tried this week that is awesome:

Whole Wheat Rotini with Mushrooms and Cannelini Beans

(picture from cookthink)

I made this for dinner last night and it was AMAZING.  Modifications: Barilla Piccolini wheel pasta instead of whole wheat rotini (love this stuff - the wheels remind me of being a kid!), no green onions (didn't have any), no jalapeno, and diced tomato instead of the paste or the crushed tomato.  I also added some garlic powder, and didn't add any parmesan - it tasted rich and delicious, so I didn't think it needed the cheese.

This is also a great way to incorporate leftovers and random pantry items - it's very versatile!  I hope you try this soon!