Sunday, August 29, 2010

Monday, August 23, 2010

Summer Bread Salad

This tasty summer salad not only will satisfy your need for fresh tomatoes, but it wont heat up your kitchen!

1/2 baguette, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 pound of cherry tomatoes, cut in half
2 large sprigs of basil, chopped
1/4 of a red onion, chopped
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/8 cup olive oil
8oz fresh mozerella, cubed
10 kalamata olives, pitted and sliced

1.) In a large bow, combine baguette, cheese, tomatoes, basil, olives and red onion.
2.) Toss to mix up.
3.) Drizzle salad mix with olive oil and balsamic vinegar
4.) Toss again and your done!


Sunday, August 22, 2010

Whole Wheat Hamburger Buns

Hamburger Meat: check
Onion, Lettuce, Tomato: check
Ketchup, Mustard: check
Hamburger Bun:'re out?!

Not wanting to head to the store, I remembered seeing on a tasty looking recipe for homemade hamburger buns that were super fast to make.

I followed this recipe but halved it and used only whole wheat flour. I also dusted the tops of the buns with flour before putting them in the oven to bake.

My family absolutely loved them! They were super easy to make, tasted great, and are significantly less expensive than their store bought cousins.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Beet Greens

Ever since I was a child and was told rhubarb leaves were not good to eat, I have always been subconsciously weary of beet greens. We never ate beets or their greens growing up. My family ate very healthy food (a lot of it we grew), but I guess my parents didn't care for beets? Maybe one day I'll remember to ask why they were absent from our plate.

I was making raw beet and goat cheese salad one night, wondering what to do with the greens, and decided to skim the list of "rabbit approved" veggies I keep on the fridge. We have an 8 yro rabbit named Max and she is our own personal cuddly veggie scrap disposal system! When I found beet greens on the list it occurred to me that I could probably be cooking with them! Low and behold, I had been scrapping what is now a staple in our diet!

I love using beet greens in all kinds of dishes. They are especially good roughly chopped and added to stews or simply steamed (which is what I did for lunch today).

Long story short, beet greens are delicious and USABLE!

Child Nutrition Act!

Sign this petition to help assure healthy options in your child's public school lunch room!

"We believe that federally funded nutrition programs should provide all children with the healthy food they deserve. This includes low fat and safe dairy, fresh fruits and vegetables, and whole grains. Schools should be soda and junk-food-free zones and serve food that complements and furthers parents' efforts to feed their children healthfully."


Simple Lives Thursday!

Simple lives Thursday can best be described by the author of Sustainable Eats, Annette Cottrell, "We celebrate living simply, sustainability, eco-conscious living, do-it-yourselfing, animal husbandry, gardening, preserving and preparing real food."

Sustainable Eats is one of the hosts for this event and I submitted my first entry this morning! I shared my Yellow Plum Jam Recipe from the batch we made yesterday! Hope everyone enjoys all the wonderful ideas everyone shares on this day!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Yellow Plum Jam

Yesterday the kids and I went to my parents house to glean some of their yellow plum bumper crop. I decided to try out yellow plum jam (I've never tried plum jam so I am excited) and dehydrate the rest.

I used the following recipe and made about 3 pints of jam.

6 cups of sugar
4 1/2 cups of pitted yellow plums
3 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup water

Combine all ingredients in a pot. Bring to a boil and dissolve the sugar. Stir constantly to prevent sticking. Cook for about 20 mins, or until the jam comes off in "sheets" when using an ice cold spoon. Pour, while boiling hot, into sterilized jars leaving about 1/8" head space. Seal and process in a hot water bath canner for 7 mins.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Eat like...the President!

My husband was reading a newspaper insert left in the break room and stumbled upon something he thought would be yummy to try!

Obama's personal chef, Sam Kass, shared his recipe for "Easy Cucumber Avocado Soup".

Here it is!
5 Cucumbers, seeds removed (we removed the skins as well)
1 avocado (we love avos so I used 4 small ones!)
1 to 2 lemons
Salt and pepper to taste
1 bunch mint
3 Tbsp plain yogurt (optional...we were out of yogurt so I used a Tbsp of mayo)

In blender, combine 4 roughly chopped cucumbers, the avocado, 1 to 2 lemons to taste (I assumed he peeled them), and salt and pepper; blend well. Dice (I threw it all in the food processor) remaining cucumber and mix with chopped mint, salt and pepper; add yogurt if desired. Pour soup into small bowls or glasses and top with the cucumber-mint mixture.

Serves 4-6.

This was absolutely FANTASTIC! It was very hot today here (mid 90's us Washingtonians start to melt) and not having to cook anything was a nice treat. Everyone LOVED it! Kids included! My daughter added some crumbled feta to the top of her soup and was very satisfied with her results! :)

I will definitely be making it again soon. Next time I am going roast and skin a poblano chili to add to the soup. I love their smokey green taste that offers a ton of chili flavor with just enough heat.

Monday, August 16, 2010

How To: Fast Sunday Gravy

Okay, okay, I know its not Sunday...but this dish is too good to wait 5 more days to make (not to mention I want to use my Italian sausages I got at the farmers market)!


6 gloves garlic, minced

4 Italian sausages, spicy if you dare

1/4 yellow onion chopped

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 can of marinara or spaghetti sauce (I used Trader Joe's Low Fat Tuscano Marinara Sauce)

Romano or Parmesan cheese (optional)

Start by using a deep sided pan on med heat. Saute the garlic and onions in olive oil until partially wilted. Add and brown the Italian sausages. Once your sausages are toasty on both sides (and you are driving everyone batty with their heavenly smell) your onions and garlic should be done and looking wilted/transparent. Add the can of marinara sauce and reduce the heat to low. Cover.

Serve over your favorite pasta, top with grated Romano or Parmesan cheese and enjoy!

*Can be made ahead and kept in an air tight container in your fridge for a few days, or frozen to enjoy at your leisure.

**Add extra seasonal nummies like fresh summer squash, mushrooms, eggplant, fresh basil for an added layer of flavor!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Summer's Bounty: our trip to the local farmers market

Nothing tastes better than fresh, and nothing is fresher than local (not to mention it helps reduce your carbon foot print and supports local farmers!).

I try to go to a local farmers market at least once a week to stock up on our fruits and veggies for the next few days/week.

Today we went to the Everett Farmers Market near the marina. I was delighted to find so many vendors including CHEESE vendors! If you haven't noticed yet, I am a sucker for dairy products. Our basket filled up with some nettle gouda from Samish Bay Cheese, beets, arugula, fingerling red potatoes, shiitaki mushrooms, basil, yellow cherry tomatoes, goat's milk greek yogurt from Gothberg Farms, squash babies and flowers, italian sausages from Island Grown Farmers Co-op, and two super crisp heads of celery! My sweet husband surprised me with a bouquet of red dahlias and gladiolas!

Support local farmers! Not only does it help your local economy, but you have more control over WHAT you are eating. When you are eating a local grown, ripe picked, organic know all you are eating is spectacular peachy goodness. No chemicals, no wax, just great fruit!

Homemade Butter 101

What is french toast with out butter?!

To grace our breakfast this morning my youngest made butter from Twin Brook Creamery. It is, with out a doubt, the most delicious butter I have ever tasted. So creamy and, well, buttery! The color is an enticing golden yellow, courtesy to the purebred Jersey Cows of Twin Brook who are pastured and do not receive hormones to stimulate their growth or milk production!

To make this wonderful butter we poured 1/3 of a pint of whipping cream into a 1 pint canning jar and shook it for about 10 mins. We strained the butter from the butter milk using a piece of cheese cloth.
We are excited to make garlic butter next!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Got Milk?

My family drinks a LOT of milk. We simply love it with dinner, on our cereal, with cookies...the list goes on and on. Considering how much we were drinking it was time to find a healthier and more local source of our dairy bliss.

We stumbled upon fresh milk from Twin Brook Creamery at our local Central Market. This is the real stuff. I thought I loved milk before! This stuff gives a whole new meaning to delicious.

One of the things I love about buying this milk is we reuse the bottles! We paid a small deposit and we receive a cash credit towards our milk purchase when we return them to the store.

My daughter loves to make homemade butter so we picked up a pint of whipping cream and look forward to fresh butter for our morning toast!

P.S. We got some divine looking yogurt from Grace Harbor to come!

It begins.

As to not lose track of my goals, I will document my progress in simplifying and bettering my family's and my own quality of life.