Monthly Archives: August 2012

Peach Salsa

Walk into any farmers market, produce store, or supermarket and it quickly becomes clear that stone fruit–especially peaches–are having a moment. Last weekend we stocked up at a farm stand on our way home from a trip to Michigan and this weekend we bought about a dozen softball-sized peaches at the Green City Market here in Chicago. Even before unloading our bags I knew that some of our bounty was destined to become peach salsa.

I had never made peach salsa before, but I’m a huge fan of homemade mango salsa and I knew this would be just as good. (Funny side note: Salmon with mango salsa is the first thing I ever cooked for Robert. It was also the first time I ever made mango salsa, which happened to be in January…with rock-hard, flavorless mangos. Perhaps I should’ve known then and there that it was the beginning of a lifetime in which he’d happily eat both my cooking successes as well as my flops. I’m sure the homemade margaritas didn’t hurt either….)

But this isn’t about mangos in the winter, it’s about fresh, juicy peaches in the summer! Is there anything more perfect? 

We ate the salsa alongside pan-seared salmon (that technique never disappoints) and raw baby spinach. Of course, I’d be lying to you if I told you I ate it as seen in the photo above. No ma’am. My plate looked like this: 

You know how I love a big bowl of food. Meanwhile, Robert’s peach salsa feast looked like this:

Just keeping it real around here.

Of course, you can serve the peach salsa countless different ways–on top of chicken, shrimp, tacos, or scooped up in a crispy tortilla chip. In other words, what are you waiting for?

Peach Salsa

Ingredients
3 ripe peaches, pits removed, cut into bite-sized pieces
3/4 of a red onion, chopped
1 medium tomato, chopped
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 garlic clove, minced
Juice of 1 lime
Sprinkle of sea salt

Preparation
Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Taste and adjust any quantities as desired.

Source: Eat, Live, Run

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Chicken Cutlets with Wax Bean, Arugula & Avocado Salad

I have a confession to make. When I lived in my old apartment I’d cook dinner in the evening and then photograph the leftovers the next day, when the light was just right, and post the images here. Then the food would go back into the refrigerator and I’d eat it for dinner again the next night or two. But there’s this thing I’ve learned since moving in with a boy: They eat a lot. Especially when they get home from work and go for a run that’s farther than all of the distances you’ve ever ran in your life combined.

As a result, I’m never really sure how much food I’ll have left to shoot. And since my guy loves leftovers more than anyone on the planet the leftovers usually become his lunch the next day. Now don’t get me wrong–I’m not complaining one bit. The fact that he loves to eat as much as I love to cook and the fact that he’ll eat anything I attempt to make (including the flops) is more than I could ever want. And since we’ve been living together I’ve tossed out about 100 percent less food than I used to. Did I mention he does the dishes? Yes, these are all very, very good things.

So I’ve decided to say screw it. Screw what those blogs on food photography say about shooting in the daylight. The point of this blog has never been perfect images. It’s about delicious, inspiring food! So I don’t want to not post something just because the exposure (whatever the heck that is) isn’t quite right. Especially when I make a ridiculously simple meal like this one that made our taste buds do a happy dance and caused us to exclaim between bites things like “it tastes like summer!” and “I can’t believe this is so healthy!” and “I knew there was basil in the salad!” and “do you think we can get the first few episodes of Breaking Bad on Amazon Prime Instant Video?” Okay, that last one had nothing to do with this salad. But we are currently slightly obsessed with Breaking Bad and didn’t DVR the first few episodes of the current season because we were busy doing things like moving, going on vacation, working, editing books, shopping for furniture, and getting engaged : )

Before we sat down to dinner last night I pulled out my camera and took a few shots of the meal because it would’ve been just plain wrong to withhold it from you. The entire concept came from the fact that I had fresh wax beans from a farmer’s market we visited in Michigan this weekend, but I’m sure green beans or haricots verts would work great, too.

And while I’m in the spirit of confessing things to you today I’m going to admit that my dinner didn’t actually look like the plate you see above. You see, I love one-bowl meals where you can toss everything together and get a little bit of everything in each bite. So my dinner looked like this, below. It contains all of the components above plus wild rice and sliced peaches. Because when you have farm fresh peaches in August you find a way to put them on everything.

Chicken Cutlets with Wax Bean, Arugula & Avocado Salad
Serves 4

Ingredients
1 lb wax beans, ends trimmed and beans cut in half
5 oz bag of arugula
1 avocado, pitted and diced
1 tomato, diced
13.4 oz box of garbanzo beans such as 365 Organic from Whole Foods or one 15.5 oz can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
3-4 basil leaves, chopped
Juice of 2 lemons
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp walnut oil (optional)
1 lb chicken cutlets
Salt and Pepper

Directions
Bring a pot of salted water to boil. Add wax beans, cook for 30 to 60 seconds, drain and run under cold water to stop the cooking. In a large bowl combine arugula, avocado, tomato, garbanzo beans, and basil. Add wax beans. Top with lemon juice, olive oil, walnut oil, salt and pepper to taste. Toss with tongs to evenly coat.

Heat oil (such as olive oil or grapeseed oil) in a large skillet on the stove. Season chicken with salt and pepper and cook on the stove, about 5 minutes per side. Serve alongside salad.

Source: MarthaStewart.com 

Blueberry-Honey Frozen Yogurt

Now you know all about last Saturday, a.k.a. the best night of my life. But I haven’t told you about Sunday yet. Well, Saturday night friends left our apartment around 1 or 2 a.m. (we invited our friends over after we all left the bar. In my blissed-out state it didn’t matter that we were still working our way through boxes and our place was still far from company-ready. Nope it didn’t matter at all!)  Sunday morning I woke up at 6 a.m. and stayed in bed. Robert finally woke up at 7:30 a.m. (ha!) and asked me what I’d been doing that whole time.

“Oh nothing. Just staring at my finger.”

True story.

And here’s how I spent the rest of the day:

  • Calling/video-chatting/surprising close friends and family with the news. One of my favorite conversations was with my PopPop in Ocean City, Maryland. I don’t call him often enough and I feel guilty about this. But I’m so happy I called him Sunday to tell him that Robert asked me to marry him. Hearing the joy in my PopPop’s voice was the best feeling and he kept telling me what a gentleman Robert is (even though he hasn’t met him yet) based on everything I and my parents have told him. I know my PopPop will love my future husband (!!!!) the moment they meet. In fact, they often remind me of each other so hearing my PopPop so happy for us made my heart swell even more.
  • Lounging on the couch and reading.
  • Walking to a nearby nail salon for a mani/pedi. (Had to. Duh.)
  • Making this blueberry frozen yogurt.

Here’s how Robert spent the rest of the day:

  • Assembling the dressers we bought at IKEA the day before. (And doing a mighty fine job, if I may add.)

Yep, I’m one lucky gal! I offered to help, I promise. I even held a box for about 16 seconds while he extracted some of the dresser parts. And I bought him a Chipotle burrito for lunch and chips and guac…which I mostly ate. But really, I was in such wonderful happiness overload and got to spend the entire day soaking it in.

The idea for this recipe comes from my friend Ali from Vermont who’s a wild woman in the kitchen–she’ll throw together any ingredients she has (often from her garden) and somehow it’s always amazing. She made a version of this recipe with blueberries and mint! I would’ve loved to try some mint, but it was best I didn’t get behind a wheel on Sunday to drive to the store so I used what I already had. Inspired by her boldness I decided to give it a whirl and it was delicious. It’s healthy, too–just plain nonfat Greek yogurt, blueberries, and honey. You could even eat it for breakfast (just ask Robert…)

Now, if you’ve made fro yo before then you know that while it’s awesome straight from the ice cream maker it can become a frozen brick in the freezer afterward. Ali said that adding a splash of vodka will help maintain the creaminess. I tried this and it was a slight improvement, but was still frozen pretty solid the next day. If you have any insight please let me know (Ali?) Not to worry–it softens easily in the microwave and still tastes great.

Robert said that I probably just need more vodka, which is what my martini-loving parents have been telling me for years. Yes, he’s going to fit in just fine : )

Blueberry-Honey Frozen Yogurt

Ingredients
1 cup fresh blueberries or 1.5 cups frozen blueberries, thawed
2 cups plain non-fat Greek yogurt
1/4 cup honey
Splash vodka

Preparation
In a blender, combine blueberries, yogurt, honey, and vodka and blend until combined and almost all the black specks from the blueberry skins are gone. Add to ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions.

Zuppa Verde

Hello friends!!! I’m back and so excited to get cooking with you again. So much has happened since the last time I posted. Let’s see…

I chopped about 8 inches off of my hair. (Yes this is major blog-worthy news.)

I moved into a new apartment with my guy that looked like this for longer than I’d like to admit.

I went on a wonderful vacation to The Greenbrier in West Virginia with Robert and his family.

I auditioned to teach at CorePower Yoga–and passed!

I learned that the book I’ve been working on was officially accepted by the publisher and will be published in March 2013!

And Saturday night, Aug 11, I got engaged to my best friend and the love of my life! Should I have mentioned that sooner? I’m still in complete shock, bliss, and excitement. This has been my state ever since the moment he got down on one knee in the beautiful park across from our home, pulled out the most beautiful ring from his pocket, and asked me to spend forever with him.

It’s hard to believe that earlier in the day we were shopping for dressers at IKEA and by the end of the evening I was drinking champagne in a bar with my brand-new fiance and a group of our friends Robert arranged to be there as a complete surprise to me. The entire time we were in IKEA (not my favorite place on earth) Robert made it so easy and fun that I couldn’t stop thinking how much I wanted to spend my life with this man. And then, well, my dream came true!! Later that night I had the opportunity to share the incredible news with my parents who are currently on a cruise in Alaska. (As it turns out, they already knew because Robert secretly flew to New York a few weeks before to ask them for my hand. That sneaky, wonderful guy!) When they had cell reception again and called a few days after he proposed I confessed that I couldn’t remember anything I said on the phone the night we got engaged. (See: champagne. Also: bliss, shock, and excitement.) My mom said that I just kept repeating “I’m the luckiest girl, I’m so lucky!” Well, that’s exactly how I feel.

To say the past few weeks have been a whirlwind is the understatement of the century. I feel like everything has changed in the most thrilling, perfect ways possible. The way we got engaged and the way that I feel knowing we get to spend our lives together is beyond anything I ever could have imagined.

Now let’s talk food. Somehow, earlier this week I managed to fire enough brain cells at once to put together this soup that’s hands down the easiest, fastest, and healthiest weeknight soup I’ve ever made. I realize that making hot soup in the summer is an odd thing to do. And while I can’t be trusted to do anything logical or rational right now it was an unusually chilly and rainy day so it made sense at the time.

This is such a great recipe to keep in your arsenal when you want a comforting homemade meal with minimal effort. There isn’t even any slicing of vegetables involved since it uses frozen veggies and frozen greens (making it budget-friendly, too).

Here’s the recipe so you can get cooking while I get back to staring at that sparkly thing on my left hand : )

Zuppa Verde
Serves 4

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups uncooked whole wheat pasta such as fusilli
8 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1 14.5 oz can fire roasted tomatoes with no salt added
1 tsp dried oregano
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp crushed red pepper (use more, less, or omit depending on how hot you like it)
1 15 oz can kidney beans with no salt added
12 oz frozen mixed vegetables (I used 3/4 of a 16 oz bag of Whole Foods 365 organic Mediterranean blend vegetables)
8 oz frozen greens (I used 1/2 of a 16 oz bag of Whole Foods 365 frozen mixed leafy greens – a combination of collard greens, kale, and mustard greens)
Salt & Pepper

Preparation
Cook the pasta according to package instructions, drain and set aside.

In a large pot, bring the vegetable broth, tomatoes, oregano, garlic, crushed red pepper, and beans to a simmer and cook for five minutes. Add the frozen vegetables and greens and simmer for 10 more minutes. Stir in the pasta, add salt and pepper to taste, remove from heat, and serve.

Source: Whole Foods Health Starts Here recipe card