Tag Archives: Veggies

Sunburned, with salad

Hello there, ladies and gents! I’m back from a wonderfully lazy little trip to my friend Ingrid’s parents’ lake house. It was peeeeerfection. I caught a ride there and back with my brother and sister-in-law and their youngest little cherub, so I didn’t even have to drive. (Fun fact: I hate to drive. Hate it like I hate Chick-fil-A.) Ingrid is one of my very best friends from law school, and we always joke about how our families have pretty much the same collective personality. So, the weekend had all the comforts of hanging out with my own kin…..plus a sailboat, jet-skis, a pretty lake, and NO STUDYING. (I didn’t take my camera, sincere apologies. This is why I’m not a professional blogger–I tend to forget important things.)

There was also some really good food. (And isn’t that what we’re here for, after all?) I came home on a mission to recreate a coleslaw-esque salad Ingrid’s mom made, but things went awry. First of all, her salad had a mayonnaise-ey dressing. So I got out the blender and tried to make some mayonnaise out of soy milk and olive oil and it was literally the grossest thing my hands have ever wrought. I spit in the sink after I tasted it (even though I’m usually quite refined). Back to the drawing board on the homemade Vegannaise. Also, the salad that inspired my project had cranberries in it, and the grocery store I went to had no such thing.

But–take note, potential employers–I am nothing if not resourceful. I came home with some cabbage and some Rainier cherries, and mixed up something different. This was kind of unique and refreshing, so I submit it for your consideration.

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Cherry-Almond Slaw with Ginger Vinaigrette

Dressing:

  • 1/2 c. canola or other neutral-tasting oil
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • S&P to taste

Slaw:

  • 4-5 c. shredded cabbage
  • 4 scallions, sliced thin (white and green parts)
  • about 1 1/2 c. Rainier cherries, pitted and roughly chopped
  • 1/4-1/3 c. slivered almonds

Combine the dressing ingredients in a blender, or if you’d rather, just mince the ginger and whisk everything together. I definitely did not use all of the dressing (saved some for future lunch salads), so scale back the ingredients if you’d rather not have any leftover. Toss the slaw ingredients with the dressing and serve. (Oh–and, I totally should have toasted the almonds first for more flavor, so you might try that. Way to drop the ball, DK.)

But wait–there’s more! I also found this sad little tupperware of leftover cooked orzo in the fridge.

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I’d say it was about 2 cups. Taking my cues from this Heather’s Dish recipe, I added the following:

  • the raw kernels from 1 ear of sweet corn (I ❤ you, Iowa)
  • 2 sliced scallions
  • about 1/2 c. blueberries
  • a handful of roughly chopped parsley
  • drizzle of olive oil
  • drizzle of agave (sub honey if you want)
  • a few generous splashes of balsamic vinegar
  • S&P

Finished tupperware (less sad):

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So, although I’m back from my little retreat and there are no boats waiting in this backyard, I do at least have a fridge full of healthy eats. We also have a make-your-own-bruschetta station….

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…….and a really swanky pool.

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Much love from the Moines…..see you again soon!

Things that are crunchy

….because it’s crrrrrrrrunchtime. Welcome to my super-secret bar exam study bunker–I’m very excited to see you.

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This is the boardroom at my dad’s office, and I’m just going to move in until the exam (which is July 26 and 27, in case you’d like to mark that down on your calendar and say a quick prayer to your higher power of choice on my behalf). I think I might spruce up the window treatments, feng shui the furniture, build a pillow fort under the table for naps, etc.

I’ve been relying on chips and rice crispie bars for learning fuel. BUT WAIT! Not just ANY chips and rice crispie bars! First, when I’m in the mood for salty, I’ve been heavily into kale chips.

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Kale chips are the third best thing I have discovered since I started reading healthy food blogs (the best is green smoothies and the second is banana soft serve, in case you were wondering). I don’t have a real recipe for them–I just spread out a layer of kale on a sheet pan, drizzle it with a little sauce of some sort or a smidge of olive oil and seasonings, zhooge it around with my hands (I’m not sure how to properly spell the word I mean to use there), and bake for about 20 minutes at 375. Type “kale chips” into the google for many, many pages that will have far more detailed and helpful instructions. My point here is only that it’s much better to realize you just stress-ate your way through a giant pile of crispy kale than it is to realize you just stress-ate your way through a pile of deep-fat fried white potatoes.

And now–an easy breezy recipe for some rice crispie bars that are slightly more grown-up than the ones from the recipe on the side of the cereal box. You know it has to be easy, because my brain can’t handle anything with a lot of steps these days. Just put your dry stuff in a bowl. Heat up the other stuff in a saucepan until melted and pour it on the dry stuff. Stir, mush into a pan, let it set up for awhile, eat.

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Bar Exam Crispie Bars (makes about 12)

  • 2 c. crispy rice cereal
  • 1 c. oats
  • 1/4 c. shredded coconut
  • 3/4 c. chocolate chips
  • 1/2 c. brown rice syrup
  • 1/2 c. peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp Earth Balance or butter

Grease an 8×8 square pan or line it with parchment paper. Mix the cereal, oats, coconut, and chocolate chips in a large bowl. Heat the peanut butter, brown rice syrup, and Earth Balance in a small sauce pan over medium low heat just until everything is melted and combined. Pour over the cereal mixture and stir until everything is coated. Press into the 8×8 pan.

And now, dear friends, I must leave you until this test is over. But come back in August–it’ll be exciting, I promise! The blog will have its first birthday, and I won’t have to study anymoooooore! (We hope.)

Funny vegetables

Hello, friends! I hope all is well where you are. I know things are usually all sunshine and lollipops around this blog, but I must admit that lately I’ve been feeling a little…..blaaaaaah. Studying for the bar exam isn’t exactly fun, and although I enjoy hanging out with my family here in Des Moines, I miss a lot of friends back in Iowa City. It’s just a weird, in-between kind of feeling. Plus, I caught a really gross cold and I haven’t been to Zumba in weeks. No, months! BAH!

This evening I decided to take some initiative, ignore the bar exam paced study schedule, and bolster my mood with two all-time favorites. First, my favorite movie:

“Funny Girl” speaks to my very soul. I’m about 85% sure I was Fanny Brice (comedienne portrayed by Barbra Streisand in the film) in a past life.  I submit for your consideration these comparison photos:

Uncanny, right? I would have chosen a better leading man than Fanny’s, though. Nick Arnstein is all flash and no substance. “I don’t like to make definite plans….it makes me feel too tied down.” PLEASE.  The movie really takes a dive after she marries him, but the first act is pure gold.

Anyway, while watching my favorite movie, I also made my favorite dinner. This is what I would have for my last meal, if I was forced to choose. (Then I would also make about 6 desserts.) Please note that all of these measurements will be approximate, because I’m not really into measuring, except when baking.

Red Curry Coconut Stir-fry with Basil-Lime Couscous (serves 6-ish)

For the stir-fry:

  • about 1 tbsp coconut oil (or vegetable or peanut oil)
  • 1 yellow squash, sliced into half-moons
  • 1 red pepper, julienned
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (heaping) tbsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 1.5-2 tbsp red curry paste
  • 1 13.5 oz. can lite coconut milk
  • 1 c. peas, defrosted if using frozen
  • 1 c. sliced mushrooms
  • 4 scallions, sliced
  • coarsely chopped cashews to garnish

For the couscous:

  • 1 10 oz. box couscous
  • 2 c. water, vegetable stock, or a combination
  • 1 lime (zest and juice)
  • a small handful of basil leaves, sliced in thin ribbons

Couscous: In a small saucepan, bring the 2 cups of liquid and the lime zest to a boil. Pour in the couscous, remove from heat, cover, and let sit for about 5 minutes (check the package instructions for the amount of time–my box said 5 minutes). Remove the lid, juice the lime over the couscous, add the ribbons of basil, and fluff/mix the couscous with a fork.

Stir-fry: In a large frying pan, heat about one tablespoon of coconut oil over medium heat. When it’s melted, add the yellow squash, red pepper, garlic, and ginger. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 3 minutes. Add the red curry paste and stir a bit to incorporate it with the vegetables. Then pour in the coconut milk, peas, and mushroom, and simmer for about 10 minutes. Check your veggies for your desired level of doneness (I like them to be a little crunchy when done). Add the scallions at the very end of cooking. Serve the stir-fry over a scoop of the couscous, sprinkled with a few chopped cashews.

I added a little leftover baked tofu on top at the last minute. A veggie-ful feast + a movie musical = a much better mood. As the song says, “Life’s candy and the sun’s a ball of butter.” Happy weekend, food fans!

P.S. Sorry the pictures are tiny.  I switched to a different blogging program and I have yet to really figure out how to use it.

Rice paper wrappers full of (r)awesome

Just a very quick installment today…

My friend Katie (she also happens to be my sister-in-law’s brother’s wife, but “friend” is simpler) has a holistic health coaching business and sends out a newsletter full of info about happy, healthy food and tasty recipes.  The business is called Rooted Wellbeing and you should really check out the website, mmmkay? It will inspire you when you feel like eating Doritos for dinner.

I tried her recipe for a raw Thai “peanut” sauce yesterday and I can already tell it is destined to become a staple in my fridge.  It would be great on a pasta salad, as a dip, in a wrap, etc.  Tonight I used it as a dipping sauce for some spring rolls.

Spring roll components: broiled tofu (using this recipe from Peas and Thank You), cooked rice noodles with a bit of the peanut sauce stirred in, veggies, and the rice paper wrappers.

These are very fun to make.  You need to soak the rice paper in a shallow dish of warm-ish water for about 20 seconds to make it pliable.  This reminded me of the scene in Grease when Sandy sings “Hopelessly Devoted to You” and wistfully floats a sheet of stationery in the pool in Frenchie’s backyard.  Anybody?  No?  OK, never mind.

Then you can fill them with whatever suits your fancy and you have a pretty little appetizer or light supper.  I didn’t follow any particular recipe for these rolls, but here’s one that looks good if you want a little food for thought.  My finished product:

These were pretty decent, but the star of the meal was definitely the dipping sauce—here’s the link with the recipe.  Make it, love it…..try to resist the temptation to just eat it straight with a spoon.

Have a happy Memorial Day weekend!  (I’ll be back with another post soon, because I bought tartlet pans today.  TARTLET PANS!  I can barely contain my excitement….)

Commencement, merriment, and avocados

Hey look—we got our law degrees!

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Somehow, in between all the cookie baking and general tomfoolery that made these past three years so wonderful, I got the job done.  And so did all of my brilliant, wonderful, hilarious classmates that I already miss like crazy now that I am moved out of my apartment and back in Des Moines, where I’ll be for the summer while studying for the bar exam.

I am excited about whatever will come next…..but I’m also a little sad.  I have always loved being a student, and law school was just so much fun.  Fortunately, we had all kinds of family over to my parents’ house tonight for a graduation barbecue, so I couldn’t spend too much time being nostalgic.  There was food prep to be done!  My brother who lives in Colorado is here, as is my cousin who lives in Florida, so it was an extra-special family fiesta.

My parents made lots and lots of delicious food, but my favorite was a new dish that I have dubbed “Avocados de los Abogados.”  (Two semesters of Spanish, thankyouverymuch.)  This is essentially a zippy little corn salad that you can throw together the day before, stuffed inside half of a lightly grilled avocado.  Yesterday, my dad grilled two ears of corn.  It was not grilling weather, but we’re brave.

Then he sliced the corn off the ears and mixed up the salad, while I took photos and offered moral support.

Tonight, while grilling various meat-stuffs for the carnivorous family members, he grilled the avocados for just long enough to soften them a bit and get those sexy grill marks.  Then I filled them with the corn salad, drizzled a little lime juice over the whole situation, and took this glamour shot:

We used 6 avocados, and the following ingredients for the corn salad (all measurements except the corn approximate):

  • 2 ears of grilled sweet corn
  • 1 c. quartered grape tomatoes
  • 1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp chopped cilantro
  • pinch of cayenne pepper or chipotle powder
  • lime juice, squeezed over the filled avocado halves before serving

Tomorrow I am checking out of my cozy little Iowa City apartment.  It was a happy home for three years and I will miss it…..but I comfort myself with the thought that wherever I move next will have more counter space (to accommodate the KitchenAid stand mixer I dream of buying when someone actually hires me to do some lawyering).

Have a good week, everybody!  And—if you happen to be a member of the IA Law class of 2011…..CONGRATS!

Spring training

Isn’t spring glorious?  I love it even when the weather doesn’t quite live up to what I think spring ought to be.  The extra daylight (and the ability to go outside without first finding my mittens) makes me want to do all kinds of things I feel too lazy to do in the winter.

A couple of recent things I felt like doing recently with my new overabundance of springtime energy: signing up for a race and making some pasta salad.

I signed up for the Dam to Dam 20K in Des Moines the first weekend in June.  I’ve done both the 20K and the 5K at the same event once before.  I was signed up last summer, but it was pouring rain when I got up at 4:30 to board the shuttle and I promptly went back to bed.  At 12.4 miles, this race will be a bit shorter than a half marathon, which I survived last October, so I should be able to handle it.  In an effort to up my speed a little, I’m going to follow an actual training plan this time.  (My training plan for the half was something like “Run as far as you can as often as you can, and hope for the best.”)  Here it is:

3/21 Athlete’s Workout class 3 m run Rest 30 min cross 2 m run or cross 3 m run +
strength
4 m run
3/28 Stretch &
Strengthen
Rest 2 m run or cross 3.5 m run +
strength
3.5 m run 40 min
cross
5 m run
4/4 Stretch &
Strengthen
Rest 2 m run or cross 3.5 m run +
strength
3.5 m run Trial Run 5K 5 m run
4/11 Stretch &
Strengthen
Rest 2 m run or cross 4 m run +
strength
4 m run 40 min
cross
6 m run
4/18 Stretch &
Strengthen
Rest 2 m run or cross 4 m run +
strength
4 m run Rest 6 m run
4/25 Stretch &
Strengthen
Rest 3 m run or cross 4.5 m run +
strength
4.5 m run 50 min
cross
7 m run
5/2 Stretch &
Strengthen
Rest 3 m run or cross 4.5 m run +
strength
4.5 m run 50 min
cross
8 m run
5/9 Stretch &
Strengthen
Rest 3 m run or cross 5 m run +
strength
5 m run Rest 7 m run
5/16 Stretch &
Strengthen
Rest 3 m run or cross 5 m run +
strength
5 m run 60 min cross 9 m run
5/23 Stretch &
Strengthen
Rest 3 m run or cross 5 m run +
strength
5 m run 60 min cross 10 m run
5/30 Stretch &
Strengthen
Rest 3 m run or cross 2 m run 4 m run Rest Dam to Dam

I adapted this from Hal Higdon’s website—it’s the “novice” plan for a half marathon.  The plan on the site is 12 weeks, but I’ve only got 11 before the race.  I reserve the right to switch things around, but I’m going to try to cover the mileage as much as possible and post a few updates along the way.  (That way, when I want to turn off my alarm and blow off some miles, I can picture sad, disappointed blog readers.)

Also (public service announcement!), as you can see, I’ll be doing a 5K during week 3 of the plan—that’s Saturday, April 9, to be exact.  If you live in or near Iowa City, you should sign up right here for the Iowa Student Bar Association Trial Run 5K (search event: ISBA Trial).  It’s at 9 a.m. at the University of Iowa’s Ashton Cross Country Course, and proceeds will go to Iowa Legal Aid. Great cause, fresh air…and you’ll probably beat at least one person, because I’ll be there!

A (wannabe) runner’s got to have some fuel, so now let’s talk pasta salad. Here’s a springtime rendition you can throw together in the time it takes to bring water to a boil and cook some pasta.  I used this pasta:

It’s not bad, and the ingredients are happy and healthy (brown rice flour, spinach powder, and beet powder), but I think next time I would use monochromatic pasta for a more aesthetically pleasing finished product.  I also used a couple of new (to me) ingredients: fennel and Nayonaise (egg-free mayonnaise-y tasting dressing).

Spring Training Pasta Salad

  • 12 oz. pasta of your choice, cooked according to package instructions
  • 1 c. peas (I used frozen, defrosted)
  • 1 bulb fennel, thinly sliced
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced

Dressing:

  • 1/2 c. Nayonaise
  • Zest of 1 lemon and 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/3 c. loosely packed basil leaves
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Boil water and cook the pasta according to the package instructions.  Meanwhile, combine the dressing ingredients in a blender.  Taste and adjust seasoning to suit your fancy.  When the pasta is done, drain it and rinse it with cold water.  Then combine the pasta, veggies, and dressing in a large mixing bowl.

Have a good weekend!  Oh, and if you’re here thanks to Angela’s latest recipe link post….thanks for stopping by Smile

Maple-soy marinated veggies

One more (very simple) recipe before spring break is over.  My brother and sister-in-law and their wonderful kiddos got back from spring break in Florida today, and we fired up the grill for the first time this spring.  Oh, by the way, do you want to see something adorable?  Check out baby nephew at Disneyworld:

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I made a marinade for grilled portabella mushrooms and asparagus using my tiny bottle of maple syrup from VT.  Ingredients:

  • 1/4 c. maple syrup
  • 1/4 c. soy sauce
  • 1/8 c. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 clove garlic

My mom bought one of those Magic Bullet things today and blended the ingredients in that, but you could also mince the clove of garlic and just whisk everything together.

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I used 2 portabella caps and one good-sized bunch of asparagus.  To prep the veggies, break the stems off the portabella caps and use a spoon to scrape out the black gills.  Chop off the bottom third or so of the asparagus spears and discard.  (The bottom is usually kind of tough.)

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Leave the asparagus long if you want to place it directly on the grill, or chop it into smaller pieces if you’re going to be using a grill pan.  Then put the portabellas and asparagus into a pan and pour the marinade over them.

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Put the pan in the fridge for a few hours, and stir every now and then to make sure every veggie gets a chance to soak up some flavor.  Then, fire up the grill.  Cook the mushroom caps for about five minutes on each side, and the asparagus until crisp-tender.

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I love grilling nights on the patio with my family!  The prospect of having many more this summer makes studying for the bar exam sound much less painful.

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Finished product:

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My dad grilled some meat for the carnivorous family members, so almost everybody was happy with the meal.  My older nephew, however, had to head to the pantry.  He only eats one thing:

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Have a great week!  It’s back to school for me.