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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.

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…

Lent and what it meant.

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So as you may remember, I gave up meat for Lent (except for seafood). I had been abstaining from meat for a while, but I decided to try and make the big change over Lent. Verdict? It wasn’t that hard. The worst was going to events/places where there were absolutely no options. And the only real time that was a problem was when I went to a fraternity event with Jonathan and it was allll BBQ. And mayonnaise. (Ick.)

I was able to get all kinds of creative in the kitchen.

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So much good stuff…and recipes to come.

I ate good food at various restaurants…

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The last one would be veggie Chicago-style deep-dish from Tortuga’s. Oh, how I love Tortuga’s. I was able to find good options pretty much everywhere I went. Of course, it helped that I was still eating seafood.

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Oh, and I went to three weddings while I was a vegetarian. Above is a plate from my favorite. So many fresh, delicious options!

The main question now, at least for me, is will I continue on with the vegetarian diet? And my answer is a little tricky. I was considering becoming vegetarian for a while, and for several reasons. I’d felt a strong urge to stop eating meat, and it intensified after watching the movie Food Inc.

The movie doesn’t use scare tactics like some others do, but it basically makes you feel more informed. And it opens your eyes to a lot of dirty practices in the food industry. It made me want to make better choices.

I had thought that when I finished abstaining from meat, I’d go from there. And my thoughts were that if I decided to eat meat, I’d make smart choices.

And I think I still feel that way, but I’d be lying if I said all the meat I’ve eaten since Easter has been organic, grass-fed, and so on. It was really hard to actually get used to eating meat again. I had ham on Easter, and then I think I had it twice that first week. Since then, I’ve not really gone out of my way to order, cook or eat meat.

Well, I did last week, but more on that later.

I think I”m eventually going to transition back into the pescatarian lifestyle. In the end, what you eat is very personal, and it’s nobody’s business how I choose to eat. I don’t want to label myself.

Sooo…as I said, I tried a lot of delicious recipes, and I can’t wait to share them all with you in the coming weeks! Now tell me—have you ever experimented with meatless eating? Thoughts? I know Jaclyn just ended a long-term relationship with vegetarianism, and she couldn’t be happier. One word: bacon!

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.

green me up, scotty.

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Ok, ok…that was cheesy. Let it slide? Just this one?

Great.

For St Patrick’s Day, my friends and I usually head towards Lakeview. And now that I live closer, I’m all about drinking at establishments that are walking distances of my dwelling. We started out at the Oasis, then made our way over to Moe’s Original BBQ for dinner (no meat for me, please) and then On Tap for our own personal last call.

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Chug, chug, chug!

Last year, I made Rachel’s awesome black-and-tan brownies to share with my buds. This year, I wanted something equally as festive but a little easier and slightly cheaper.

Enter mint chocolate chip cookies.

Delicious, easy, and the green food coloring makes them fit for any St Patty’s Day drinkfest. I started with this recipe, but I ended up changing it around because I didn’t want to buy a bag of cookie mix.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1-1/4 c sugar
  • 3 cups flour (I used 1 c whole wheat flour, 2 cups all purpose)
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • 1-2 tsp peppermint extract
  • optional: green food coloring
  • 1 c chocolate chips
  • 1 c Andes mint baking pieces (or do what I did and chop up a mint chocolate bar)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 sticks butter

Combine your dry ingredients (including the chocolate chips) and wet ingredients separately, then mix together. Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes until the edges start to brown slightly.

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The dough looks like mint chocolate chip ice cream!

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These cookies were so simple, yet so awesome. I think the others agreed, too.DSC08792DSC08793DSC08794

Here are some other fun pictures from the evening:

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Still not sure exactly how this “leg in someone’s photo” thing got started. (I’m blaming Jason.)

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I believe this was around the time we all started trying to tell every joke we knew.

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My dinner at Moe’s…yeah, I had to pick meat out of the corn, and yeah, I’m sure that’s not allowed on a vegetarian diet…but I did what I had to do.

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On the left: Mandy and Reagan looking cute. On the right…I found a hole in the floor and convinced Dennis to stick his finger in it. (I got a giggle.)

Since I know that St. Patrick’s Day was about two weeks ago, I won’t ask you what you did for the (arguably best ever) holiday. But instead…what’s your favorite go-to cookie recipe? These were so easy to make and so tasty, I definitely think I’ll revisit it again.