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bok and roll

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If you’ve ever read my friend Mandy’s blog, you might know that she actively supports local farming by participating in a CSA. Last year, she bought the Grow Alabama box, but after disappointment regarding some foreign avocados, she decided to make a switch. Lucky for me, she asked me to split a CSA from Snow’s Bend in Tuscaloosa, a farm that my friend Jason also supports.

The first few weeks were a little sparse, but still delicious, with strawberries, lettuce mix, green onions, radishes and greens.

But the last few weeks, the crop has been both bountiful and beautiful. Mandy and I alternate weeks, and for my last few pickups, I’ve received quite the haul.

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Spring onions, carrots, broccoli, radishes, lettuce mix, butter crunch lettuce, baby bok choy and strawberries.

I can’t get over how precious these carrots look! I remembered to follow Sarah’s advice and cut the tops off immediately after I brought them home so as not to let them dry out.

The bok choy really interested me, and Jason informed me that it was one of the best veggies they produce at Snow’s Bend.

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(That’s the bok choy off to the right.)

I wasn’t sure how to cook it, but I was anxious to try it out. My first experience involved stir-fry, but it didn’t turn out quite how I wanted it to. The leaves were a little rough-looking, and I don’t think I chopped it up in the most efficient manner.

From what I recall of the way bok choy tastes, I lump it with celery or cabbage, though I’m sure some would disagree. After a little thinking, I knew just what I wanted to do with it: egg rolls.

In fact, every single thing I put inside these egg rolls, barring the seasoning and the celery, came from the CSA loot.

Here’s what you’ll need:

Egg roll wrappers
1 small baby bok choy
approx 4 medium carrots
one green onion, chopped from tip to almost the base of the root
one rib of celery
finely chopped broccoli, approx one small head
olive oil
ground ginger
soy sauce (I used lower sodium)

Preheat the oven to 350.

To start, make sure all your veggies are chopped and ready to go. For the bok choy, I cut off the base, just enough so that the tender leaves separated.

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It’s the Russian nesting doll of vegetables—at the end is the itty bitty baby bok choy. So cute!

You may need make additional cuts as you get closer to the inside. Inspect for dirt and wash thoroughly. I then cut the leaf from the heavier part, using diagonal cuts, separating the leaves.

2011-05-31 19.01.30On the left, the first cut; on the right, the second cut to strip away the rest of the leaf.

I then stacked several leaves and cut them up into strips; set them aside. You can also roll them up tightly and then slice.

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For the rest of the veggie, dice much like you would celery,and  make a few extra chops so that there aren’t any pieces that are too big.

2011-05-31 19.13.10 Peel the carrots and grate in a food processor (the best time saver EVER). Chop the green onion and celery. (Tip: I cut the celery into strips length wise, making about three cuts, then diced.) Chop the broccoli into small manageable pieces.

Heat about 1-2 tsp olive oil in a skillet or wok (preferably one with an accompanying lid). Toss the bok choy (but not the leaves) in, along with the carrots.

_SC09504Add the celery, then the onions, then the broccoli.  Sprinkle approximately 1 tsp ginger and about 1 tbps soy sauce over the veggies.

When the broccoli is bright green, add the bok choy leaves, remove from heat and cover.

To make the egg rolls, separate one wrapper from the stack. Moisten the edges using your fingers and a little water. (That’s what she said.) Make a small pile of the filling in the center of the wrapper.

2011-05-31 20.42.05(Camera was out of commission for a while; hence the fuzzy cell phone pictures.)

Pull one corner up and over, and fold the edges in (it’ll look like an envelope), then roll upwards. Continue on until you run out of filling.

Spritz a foil-covered pan with some olive oil, then line the egg rolls up. Give the rolls a another mist of oil, then pop in the oven for about…ten minutes? I just kept an eye on them. Then flip over (they should be a crusty brown) and bake a few more minutes.

_SC09510 Served with your favorite dipping sauce or plain, like I did! Soooo good.

I think that spinach and mushrooms would have been a good addition to these. You could even add meat, if that’s your thing. (Please know that amounts are all approximate, and I mostly tried to make sure everything looked balanced in the skillet.)

I suggest you head to your nearest farmers market this weekend and get rollin’!

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we can’t keep meating like this.

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So as you know, I’m gradually dipping my toes back in the meat-flavored water after a short hiatus during the season of Lent. One my first meat-centric recipes back on the wagon was this delicious turkey-spinach-feta turkey burgers. Jonathan and I decided to take the leftovers and recreate one of our favorite restaurant dishes at home: chile rellenos.

We started out by roasting the Poblano peppers on the grill, along with ears of corn and skewered veggies.

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To roast the peppers, we blackened them on the grill, then put them in a bowl and covered them with plastic wrap and let them sweat it out a while.

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(Emily would be so proud!) Then we just peeled off the skin. Easy peasy 😉 Or easy pepper-y.

While these guys hung out on the grill, we cooked the ground turkey in a pan with some leftover mushrooms and taco seasoning. (No pictures…it’s just boring ol’ meat.)

The next step was a little more involved, but not necessarily complicated. We rolled the peeled peppers around in some flavor to get them ready for the “batter.”

DSC09438 For the batter, I whipped one egg white (into a frenzy, of course), then folded in the yolk.

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 Then I dipped the floured and stuffed peppers in the mix, and from there, it was a trip to a nice, hot olive oil bath.

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Look how crispy! Just like the pros.

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With a side of homemade guac and some chips, it was the perfect Mexican feast. Not too shabby for my first try, if I do say so myself.

happy weekend!

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Hello all! It’s been such a busy week, with work and volunteering and everything else. I’m packing up to head to Huntsville to visit my sister and my mom, and oh yeah—run my first official 5k since I injured my foot back in January. Wish me luck!

Also, for those of you in the Birmingham area: My friend Jason is partnering with Alison Lewis of Ingredients, Inc. to host the 2nd Annual National Food Blogger Bake Sale for the state of Alabama (there are participants from coast to coast). They’ll be offering up delicious treats baked up by area bloggers and local businesses like Urban Standard and Dreamcakes. (OMG, cupcakes!!!1!) Head down to Homewood near Urban Cookhouse (across from Trak Shak) to pick something up and support Share Our Strength, an organization devoted to ending childhood hunger in the U.S.

I’m contributing mint chocolate chip cookies! There was a moment where I freaked out when the mixture didn’t look quite right—it seems that the trouble with making up recipes is when you don’t really write it all down…you think you’ll remember, but alas, that’s not always the case. But a quick sample proved to be pretty darn good (in my humble opinion, that is).

If you’re not in the Birmingham area, check the main page to see if your state is on the list and find a bake sale near you! Whenever I think of bake sales, I’m transported back in time to when we used to fundraise for band trips and church trips, and also when I was so geeked out over 4-H that I entered (and sometimes won, holla) the cooking competition every year.

Check that sweet outfit!

Have a great weekend!

who wants man meat?

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Then my man meat he shall have.

Name that show! Or…click on that link, and then giggle, and remember the name of that show!

Can I just say thanks for the awesome, well thought-out responses yesterday?? Vegetarianism is a super hot topic these days. I’m glad to have people with whom I can have a good conversation about it all. Something Jaclyn said about “losing the identity” really resonated with me, and I’ll touch more on that soon.

So, as I mentioned yesterday, I haven’t really been eating meat since Lent ended. I mean, I’ve dabbled, but I haven’t really jumped back aboard the meat train, so to speak.

Last week, Jonathan and I decided to have a low-key, cook-at-home evening. I wasn’t sure what I was in the mood for, but then it just came to me: burgers. I saw a recipe on someone’s blog earlier (I can’t remember whose, I think maybe Rachel?) this year for burgers with feta and spinach. The thought invaded my brain and wouldn’t let go.

Burgers it was!

We decided to go with lean turkey, spinach, feta, mushrooms and onions, and oven fries with olive oil and dill.

It was fairly simple. I chopped up the mushrooms and sauteed them in a skillet for minute or two, then mixed them in with the meat along with ripped up spinach and about half a cup of feta cheese, maybe a little less. We pattied them out and cooked them on the grill while the potatoes roasted in the oven.

DSC09376 Perfection! I had mine on half a whole wheat bun with a generous pile of ketchup.DSC09377

Closer…

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Closer…

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In your face!

These burgers were perfectly juicy and the flavors all mixed together very well. I added a little feta to the top of my hot burger. I think next time I might add some garlic into the mix. Other than that, they were amazing. Pretty delicious for my first main meat meal back on the wagon. Will it last?? Time will tell…

we’re here, we’re hungry, get used to it, brunch.

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Pretty much every year, since I could remember, I’ve spent Easter with my parents. There were several times when I couldn’t make it to church with them due to working, or being away at college, but for the most part, I always saw them.

This year was a little different. April was a month of go-go-go, and I was so pleased at the idea of being home alone and relaxed over Easter weekend that I decided to stay in Birmingham this year. (Luckily, I’d already planned on heading home the next weekend, so I got to spend some QT with mom and dad.)

From the moment I knew I’d be on my own, visions of Easter brunch recipes began to dance in my head. I knew exactly what I wanted. For starters, ham. I gave up meat for Lent, and while I think I decide to give it up again in the end, I was just in the mood for some salty yet minimally processed ham. Mandy and I picked up a tiny “ham nugget” at Whole Foods the day before.

Another thing that popped into my head and wouldn’t let go? Scones. But not sweet ones. I wanted cheesy, buttery, savory scones. Enter Rachel’s Cheese and Herb Scone recipe. I changed the recipe slightly, using cheddar instead of Gruyere and almond milk instead of heavy whipping cream (it’s what I had on hand). Another change: I made two piles of dough and cut them into 8 triangles each to stretch the recipe out a little. I like eating “more” of things, ie several small items instead of one or two large ones. (That’s what she said?)

DSC09259 On the side, I was craving something with eggs. I found this recipe in the latest issue of Fitness, and I improvised just a touch, using 3 eggs and 1/2 c egg beaters, cheddar instead of Swiss, adding green onion and making 9 quiches instead of 6.

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The leftovers for these have been great; if I’m in a hurry, I throw one between an English muffin and bam! Egg mcmuffin.

I hadn’t necessarily planned on a sweet finish, but when I saw La Fuji Mama’s recipe for an Apple Braid on Eat, Live, Run, I knew what I had to do. I made this pretty much to a T, just using 1 cup whole wheat flour and 1.5 cups bread flour.

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And all together now:

DSC09260 Breakfast perfection.

However….in full disclosure, I did have one small issue. When I was making the apple braid, I decided to try and roll it out on the dining table for more room. We wiped it down and I went to town. (TWSS) All seemed well. Until…I was munching on some leftover braid when I felt a crunch.

I rolled the apple-y bite around in my mouth, trying to find the problem. Nothing. I chewed again.

Crunch.

As I moved the bite out of my mouth and into a napkin, I found the culprit: a tiny little nail.

That’s right, a nail. I was going to take a picture of it, but when I went back to snap a photo, someone threw it away 😦

And THAT is why you always check and double-check your cooking surfaces. What’s the strangest cooking mishap you’ve run into? Once I found a crunch in a soft pretzel I made. I thought it was kosher salt—turned out to be glass. Yikes!

bean there, done that…

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…ate the burger.

Having been meatless these past few weeks, I’ve been trying to get creative with my meals. One thing I hoped to accomplish over Lent season was not only eliminating meat (save for fish) but also attempting to cut out processed crap. I didn’t want meat-free eatin’ to mean Boca burgers and canned soups (not that those don’t have a place in my diet or my freezer/pantry). I wanted to make more of my own meals and find ways to incorporate more veggies and newer sources of nutrition.

I was able to test out a recipe I’ve had eye on a few weeks ago when I attended a cookout celebrating the engaging of my dear friend Kate. We were roommates in college, and we’ve tried to maintain a good relationship since we’ve both relocated to Bham.

DSC08893 Kate met her lovely match with Alex. In the short amount of time I’ve spent around the two of them together, I can tell that they are perfect for one another. I can’t wait to attend her wedding at the end of the summer!

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I do so love that girl 🙂

The happy couple invited us to come to their house and celebrate with them. The only problem? This was dinner:

DSC08879 Meat, meat, and more meat.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. And from what I heard (and smelled) it was delicious. I just knew that if I wanted to eat, I’d need options. (I do have to stop right here and say that Kate was so sweet to pick up some veggie burgers for me to eat! I didn’t realize this before I made my own dinner, but I was very appreciative of her kindness.)

So I took the opportunity to try out a recipe I’ve had my eye on for a while: Vegan Black Bean Burgers from Emily at the Daily Garnish (please take a minute to check out her blog; she’s such a sweetheart AND she’s going to have the healthiest baby around!).

You can check out Daily Garnish for the exact recipe, but here’s the girst of what you’ll need:

    • black beans
    • grated carrots
    • rolled oats
    • pepitas (pumpkin seeds—I bought these on the cheap in the Whole Foods bulk section)

Along with an assortment of seasonings and olive, all of which you will likely have in your cabinet (I did). One thing I didn’t have was ground coriander, which I bought at Whole Foods. Note: A shaker of the spice is kinda pricey, but I found a pretty big tub of it for less than two dollars! And there was way more in the tub that in the shaker. I just put it into a old spice canister when I got home. Score!

Basically, you give it all a whirl in the food processor. Mine is really tiny (that’s hopefully not what she said), so I had to do it in batches.

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Then you form it into patties and bake them up.

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(I just noticed that they don’t look much different “raw” vs. cooked.”)

These were awesome! Very rich and smoky tasting. The cinnamon really came out, but not in a weird way. This made 6 very big “burgers,” and I froze a few of them. I think one of these would be good crumbled up in a wrap, or even in some sort of sauce, maybe? Bonus: These were not only really filling but also good on nutrition information. I don’t have an exact count on hand, but one big burger was 6 Weight Watchers Points Plus.

We also whipped up some quick appetizers. I made some Cowboy Caviar and Rea made guacamole.

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The Cowboy Caviar was super easy and I already had most of things I needed:

  • 2 cans black-eyed peas, drained
  • 1 can whole kernel corn, drained
  • 1 can Rotel
  • 1  jar chopped pimentos, drained
  • minced black olives
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon spicy brown  mustard
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • salt, pepper, sugar and oregano (I used pinches of the first few to taste and about 1/2-1 tsp of oregano)

Dump the first five items into a bowl, then whisk together the remaining ingredients to make a dressing. Pour the dressing over the pea mixture, and stir to coat. Refrigerate until ready to serve (with tortilla chips).

While the smell of grilled was distracting, I don’t know that I’d say it was tempting. Not only did my black bean burgers taste awesome, they smelled great, too!

What’s your favorite thing to grill out? I love veggie kabobs, esp when there’s something unexpected hanging out with the veggies, like pineapple. Also…what do you do when you aren’t sure if your tastes/diet will be accommodated at party/cookout? Do you feel awkward BYODinner?

wingin’ it

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I’ve never been particularly partial to hot, spicy things. Whenever we used to go out for wings, I’d have to wade in the kiddie-pool portion of the hot-sauce scale. I don’t like jalapenos, and Tabasco makes me sweat just thinking about it. But in the last year or so, I’ve come to a realization.

I love wing sauce.

The first time I really remember having it was when my sister made a recipe for Buffalo Chicken Dip that consisted of cheddar cheese, chicken, ranch, cream cheese, and a whole heap of buffalo sauce. Those initial bites were too much for me to handle, but I gradually warmed up to it. (Like what I did there?)

I made a Crock-Pot of the dip for a tail-gate style snack session at my office and ended up with a large bottle of hot sauce leftover in my cabinet. It wasn’t long till I started experimenting. Tonight was no different. During The Biggest Loser, I chowed down on a pita pizza topped with tempeh covered in buffalo wing sauce, roasted broccoli, blue cheese and sour cream. It was delicious, and I drank almost 32 ounces of water while eating it. That stuff is no joke.

Do you like spicy things? What’s your favorite combination? I tried to take this down a notch with some sour cream and blue cheese. It helped a little, but mostly they all just complemented one another.