Scenes from a Long Weekend-Part II: Garden Eats

In my last post, Dad, Eileen, Gary and I were in Saranac Lake getting our local food on… I managed to pick up a few goodies….

My new addiction...

My new addiction…

 

I have a weakness for goat cheese....

I have a weakness for goat cheese….

After bringing Farmer Ben a surprise coffee, I took Gary and my Dad for a long walk on a bike path by the lake. It was hot…and sticky.

I then rushed home to clean-up and make some more delicious eats….

Here is what I whipped up….

Avocado-Tomato Bruschetta

Bruschetta... under a mountain of parmesan

Bruschetta… under a mountain of parmesan

What you’ll need:

  • 1 baguette…preferably local
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil, plus more for drizzling on bread
  • 2 large tomatoes (or 3-4 small-medium)
  • 15 fresh basil leaves (approximately)
  • 1 tbsp. or a splash of balsamic vinegar
  • Sea salt and cracked pepper to taste
  • 1 avocado

What to do:

  • Preheat oven to 350
  • Mince garlic.
  • Heat olive oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat, add garlic. Stir…cook garlic until it softens-do NOT let burn. This won’t take long. Pour garlic and oil into a metal mixing bowl and set aside.
  • Chop/dice tomatoes (this will be depend on how big you want your chunks to be–side note: chunks is not an appetizing word.) Add to mixing bowl with garlic and oil. 
  • Also, if you don’t want soupy bruschetta, drain some of the juices before adding to bowl.
  • Chop basil. (tip: stack some leaves on top of each other, roll them length-wise and slice into thin strips) Add to mixing bowl.
  • Add in remaining balsamic, salt and pepper and stir. Set aside
  • Slice baguette on the diagonal into 1/4 -1/2 inch slices. Place on baking sheet and drizzle lightly with olive oil.
  • Place in oven and let brown. Meanwhile, dice up your avocado and add to the bruschetta mixture–do NOT do this until ready to serve.
  • Remove toasted baguette from oven and top with bruschetta mixture.

If you’re feeling extra naughty, grate some parmesan over the top.

Serve immediately and enjoy!

Garden Delight Pasta

wpid-2013-08-31_19-04-03_1.jpg

(Or…trying to use up all the veggies on your counter/in the fridge pasta)

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 lb whole wheat pasta (I used angel hair)
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion (or 1/2 a giant onion like I used…), diced
  • 1 medium zucchini, chopped
  • 1 medium eggplant, chopped
  • 6 large kale leaves, sliced (I just ripped it up)
  • 2 large Swiss Chard Leaves
  • 2 sprigs fresh parsley, chopped (about 1-2 tbsp.)
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1 large tomato, chopped (or, if you have leftover bruschetta mix, that will work too!)
  • 3 oz. goat cheese (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

What to do:

  • Heat water for pasta and cook according to package
  •                  While your water is boiling….
  • Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat.
  • Add in onion, until it starts to soften.
  • Add in zucchini and eggplant, stirring occasionally, be careful not to let veggies stick/burn. Reduce heat to medium low. (This should take about 10-15 minutes, depending on your veggies/size of pan)
  • Add in Swiss chard and kale, cover and let wilt. Stirring occasionally.
  • Stir in cooked and drained pasta (it should be hot) and mix in remaining ingredients.

Remove from heat and Serve hot. Makes 4-6 servings.

Favorite seasonal meal? How do you use up all of your leftover veggies? Goat cheese in pasta, yes or no?

Stay Tuned for Scenes…Part 3!


Scenes from a Long Weekend-Part I

Coming off a long weekend is really hard. It’s Wednesday, but my body thinks that it’s Tuesday…and my brain just really wants it to be Friday again! Combine that with the food hangover from eating…everything… yikes! See the dilemma?

Anyway, Ben and I were super blessed this weekend as we had family visiting. My dad and his wife and their good friend Gary rolled into town on Friday night. I picked them up on Saturday morning and we took a leisurely drive to Saranac Lake, NY…about an hour away.

You see, there was this amazing local food festival going on in conjunction with the Saranac Lake Farmers’ Market. It was the Farm 2 Fork Festival. Click here for more info. Basically, it’s a celebration of local growers and producers…and lots of delicious food, demonstrations and workshops.

It was $10 for a ticket and you got to try a lot of good food, made by locals–right up my alley! Unfortunately it as a bit of a dreary day, but that didn’t stop us from getting our localvore on…

Anyway, here are some photos….

The menu

The menu

 

Dad and me.... in the drizzle...

Dad and me…. in the drizzle…

 

Plate 1...the first trip around... loved the quinoa!

Plate 1…the first trip around… loved the quinoa!

 

Dad, totally thrilled that I'm taking his picture....

Dad, totally thrilled that I’m taking his picture….

 

Plate 2: not as much as plate 1, but holy moly that ice cream was delicious!

Plate 2: not as much as plate 1, but holy moly that ice cream was delicious!

 

Speaking of ice cream....

Speaking of ice cream….

 

I loved this station...

I loved this station…

 

Fridge Pickle Bar

Fridge Pickle Bar

 

Kale and Carrots...

Kale and Carrots…

 

I love purple.

I love purple.

 

One farmer had such gorgeous flowers...I took 2341354132 photos.

One farmer had such gorgeous flowers…I took 2341354132 photos. And I loved this kohlrabi!

 

Sprouts and spuds!

Sprouts and spuds!

 

Radishes...be still my beating heart!

Radishes…be still my beating heart!

 

I love all the color!

I love all the color!

 

a closer look....

a closer look….

 

More flowers...

More flowers…

 

 

 

Anyway, as you can see…I had a really good time strolling around the market, eating and hanging out with the family…but that’s not all that we did this weekend!  Stay tuned for more scenes….

 

How was your long weekend? Any big plans for September? What did you eat this weekend?!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


A Fresh (Picked) Plate

Today I came home to a wonderful surprise. Farmer Ben had been playing in the garden and had some gorgeous veggies to prove it… and then, per usual, he turned it into a wonderful dinner for us to share. Take a look!

image

Cabbage rolls, cucumber, beets, tomatoes, and potatoes–all picked today!–paired with local eggs and some chili sauce (a Farmer Ben specialty) from last year’s peppers. I am so excited to enjoy this meal, it’s the first big pick from the garden, other than a few small tomatoes, herbs and tons of lettuce. Not pictured: beet greens and swiss chard… and a giant tomato! I hope you all enjoy your dinners as much as I am going to enjoy this one. Happy Monday!


Something to Smile About…

Last week was rough. There’s really no other way to describe it. 

Without getting into too much detail, I had way too many things going on…and I missed an important appointment because I didn’t double-check my dates (BUT, I was able to reschedule!).

Luckily, I have a wonderful husband who helps me out in any way he can. Last week it was doing laundry, getting up with me at 5:30 in the morning and driving 40 minutes–each way– to pick someone up before I went to work, making  breakfast and lunch, and listening to me have a mini-meltdown midweek. No big deal.

Somehow, we made it through the week and Saturday morning, we were out of bed bright and early to drive down to the social event I’ve been mentioning for the last month or so.

This weekend, Ben and I attended a wedding. The wedding of my friend Laura… or my ex would-have-been-sister-in-law. She’s a pretty amazing lady and we are still close. Driving down Saturday morning my feelings were swinging between “This is going to be totally fine. It’s not a big deal.” and “What the heck was I thinking?! I am so nervous that I am going to drive off the road!”

The reality of the event was somewhere in between. I’ll share more in my next post…but for now, I need to share some positivity!

So, here is a short list of things that made my weekend (and life in general) pretty amazing:

1. My hubs. This man makes my life a lot more interesting. Each and every day. Not to mention,  he’s pretty handsome.

2. Wearing a dress that I haven’t worn in a long time and finding out that it still looks pretty good. It’s an awesome feeling, and nice to know that hard work does pay off.  

We clean up pretty well, don’t we?

3. Local Produce. I love going to farm stands, co-ops and farmers’ markets and knowing that I am supporting my local economy… not to mention, it just tastes better. This weekend, my sister, Ben and I visited Turks, a small farm and flower market in Horseheads, NY.

Shades of Summer…

I love summer veggies!

4. My amazing family. And our abillity to make stupid faces. Meghan is going to kill me.

5. Fresh Ingredients. Simple Food. Delicious-ness. Here are some shots of our Sunday lunch. Thrown together in about thirty minutes after a quick trip to Turks and Wegmans for supplies.

Brie and Baguette are a must-have!

A closer look… Quick Pickles, Caprese Salad and A Veggie Plate

6. Potato Salad. Especially when it’s not drenched in Mayo…Recipe for this particular salad is coming soon!

I love all the color in this bowl!

   7. Late summer nights. Particularly when paired with a glass of wine in hand, hummus at my fingertips and ridiculous conversation. Bonus points for a bonfire.

What are some things that make you ridiculously happy? 

As I said, stay tuned. More to come!


Lookin’ Out My Back Door!

It is an absolutely beautiful day today. The sun is shining, there’s a nice breeze and I had a lunchdate with the hubby. I’m working at the restaurant this evening and I brought my running gear for a night run.  How lucky am I?

Ben also informed me that we have beets, beans, lettuce,  mint and corn popping up! Hooray!

Of course, whenever I talk about spring or summer weather in the North Country, no one ever believes me. But I’ve got proof! These photos were taken this morning by Farmer Ben… enjoy!

 

We now have cows in our backyard, no big deal.

The cows belong to our landlord…

Near the garden…

 I secretly love dandelions.

Potatoes. Who knew?

Biggest spring onions ever.

Seriously, these suckers are huge!

Ben called this last one “The Yellow Brick Road.”

Have a beautiful rest of the day!


R & R…or Something Like It.

Wow, it’s hard to believe that our mini-getaway was almost three weeks ago! I guess time flies when you’re crazy busy!

So, what have I been up these last few weeks?

We successfully took our road trip to visit the fam. Ben finally met my oldest sister, which made me super happy! We also indulged in Wegmans, family time, coffee, tons of delicious food, grilling, 80 degree weather, Wegmans and more Wegmans.

Then we came back to reality. And went back to work. Le sigh.

I made these amazing cupcakes. One of Ben’s co-workers liked them so much that he hugged me. Twice.

I also made this ridiculously easy-and crazy good dip.

And then I made some more tortillas, some tasty pasta and yummy egg salad (sunflower seeds are an excellent addition. Who knew?)

Oh! I also went to a pretty awesome benefit for a friend (Hi Brenda!). It was so nice to see people come together for an outstanding cause…I even took home a fantastic (giant!) drying rack for laundry…it may take up half of my living room when it’s unfolded. And… I may have gotten third place in the karaoke contest, not too shabby!

In our down time, Ben and I have been making random trips to the co-op and grocery store,  and ordering giant crocks and sauerkraut stompers from Lehmans. No big deal.

I’ve also stumbled on a new food obsession. Spinach Smoothies. Don’t hate.

I like to mix it up, but my typical creation is this; you take a cup of milk (I’ve been experimenting with my milks, I’m currently on almond milk), a spoonful of peanut butter, half a banana (frozen works best), a couple spoonfuls of flax seed meal and a bunch of spinach, throw it all in the blender and blend til combined. Enjoy! I have also been known to use nutella instead of peanut butter or add in some kale/berries…I love it because it takes little effort to make and helps me get a nice kick of fruits/veggies in the morning.  I also LOVE the bright green color. Anyway, try it. Mix it up. It’s worth it.

Speaking of blended veggies, I  tried a few of Zee Lemon’s juice concoctions over the last week. I have to say, I was a huge fan. Head on over to her blog and check out her “take-over” posts. Pretty interesting stuff. And some great ideas.

Another concoction I came up with?

An apple-peeled, a kiwi-peeled, about a cup of broccoli, about a cup of berries and as much spinach as you can fit in the blender. Surprisingly, very good. It also has a gorgeous color. I had this for breakfast on Friday and it was one of the only times that I wasn’t starving a few hours later.

Let’s see…what else have I been up to? We spent yesterday with Ben’s best friend’s family and had a great time. Good food, great conversation and lots of relaxation. I’d say it was a win. Ben even got Preston to eat his veggies. No small feat.

I’ve also been running and going for walks. And not drinking a lot of coffee. I don’t know how I stay awake. I picked up a sweet pair of kicks and have a date with two good friends from good ol’ RSC tomorrow. Super excited!

Anyway, that’s all for now.  Are you going through any weird food phases?  Share them below!


Veggie-Tales!

I am so sick of cookies. I am tired of sweets in general. I don’t know why, but this year, I really think I overdid it. I didn’t even do as much baking as I had planned but the thought of eating one more piece of fudge, slice of cake or bite of a cookie makes me want to run screaming for the hills. Seriously… I am going to turn into a chocolate chip cookie…or a stick of butter. Basically, I’m over it.

That being said, I am probably the only person out there who chose yesterday, the day after Christmas, to do some serious baking. I know you’re judging. I am judging, too.  But I had to do it! There are some very dear friends and family members who I had promised crazy confections… and I just… didn’t get around to it until yesterday, I mean, I had time the day before Christmas, but then the cookies would have sat around for days before I mailed them out, and who wants stale cookies? I certainly don’t. Anyway, I decided to jazz them up a little bit and make them a bit healthier (and more delicious-in my opinion-look for the recipe later this week!)…So, to the recipients of my baked goods, you’re welcome.

After overdosing on sugar this month, my latest food obsession is the veggie pita. I take a whole wheat pita, slice it down the middle and stuff each side with mixed greens, sprouts, avocado, tomato, onion and Ben’s chili sauce. I forgot the chili sauce today, so I used hummus instead. I can tell that I have been going through clean food withdrawal because it feels so GOOD to be eating veggies, even if it is just the basic stuff.

Side Note: Ben usually grows everything mentioned above (minus the avocado, obviously) in our garden-we still had scallions and Swiss chard growing up until a couple of weeks ago!- but, as it is the off season, we get most of our veggies at our local co-op, which works with local farms and greenhouses. I bought our tomatoes at Price Chopper- they were hydroponically grown in Vermont (and pesticide free!), I chose these over the organically grown tomatoes from Mexico.

I don’t pretend to be an expert about food and I don’t consider myself a “health-nut”, but as a personal policy, I do try to stick with all natural ingredients and buy local whenever possible. I also try to buy farmer-owned brands (such as Cabot or Organic Valley) and stick to items with ingredients I can pronounce. If I pick up a package that has a list of 40+ ingredients, I immediately put it down. I don’t believe that our bodies were meant to have so much junk put into them.

When we buy meat, we get it directly from local farms, the farmers’ market or from our food co-op. Again, it’s not always “organic”, but it’s local, hormone-free and grass-fed, the way it should be. The same thing goes for our eggs.

As far as microwaveable foods, I don’t. We don’t even own a microwave. I prefer to cook it, chop it, slice it, steam it or boil it myself…and if I make too much I can simply freeze it and reheat it on the stove or in the oven-or give it to a friend. I also avoid chain restaurants as much as possible, just because Ben and I have both worked in the restaurant business and know how much of the chain food comes in a bag and goes in the microwave. It’s gross…and ridiculous, considering how easy most of the food is to make.

The idea of mass-produced foods (whether it be meat, cheese, bread or vegetables) kind of freaks me out…especially after some of the reading/documentary watching I’ve done. I believe that food is meant to be a personalized experience-not just eating whatever garbage is put in front of you-and that you’ll get more out of your meal if you know where it’s coming from and how it was prepared. It saddens me that so many people out there have no idea what they are putting in their bodies, day after day and even more have no idea how to cook for themselves!

I am not saying that I am perfect. I do slip up on occasion, but for the most part, I try my hardest to follow these rules. I realize that it’s not super difficult for me as I was blessed with a wonderful mother who cooked a ton of different things and made me try new foods on a weekly basis (I didn’t grow up eating Kraft Macaroni and Cheese and Hamburger Helper, I grew up eating lentil soup, roast chicken, swiss chard, and countless other homemade things) …and I am married to a chef-slowly-turning-farmer-who-cans-freezes-everything.

Farmer Ben, hard at work.

I haven’t always been as passionate about where my food comes from… I used to stand with the many who see buying local/organic as pointless and too expensive. This simply isn’t true, you just have to do your homework. And honestly, if I spend a few cents more on my Cabot butter, I am okay with that, because I know that it is going to the farmers…or if I spend a little bit more buying the crackers with 7 ingredients instead of 47, I feel confident knowing that I am saving my body from a ton of extra junk it doesn’t need. Again, I am no expert, these are just my personal beliefs, but I like to think that I am healthier because of it.

Anyway, that is the end of my rant for the day…who would have thought that talking about vegetables could get one so worked up?!  With that in mind, I’m using this post as a public announcement. I am getting back on track-starting today! I am a big believer in the food journal. Even if you aren’t trying to get in shape, it’s really helpful to see exactly what you are eating-or not eating- and track your water intake. I know that this month I have been horrible about drinking water and I have felt it.

So, I am getting back to my food journaling ways. I recently discovered MyFitnessPal and have been using it…kind of… for the last couple of months. I really like this site because it’s very comprehensive, has a really large and pretty accurate database and has a lot of different tools that I have found very helpful. They also have a smartphone app with a really awesome barcode scanner (probably the coolest thing ever!).  Today, I am getting back into it after a brief hiatus and want to invite you to be …my fitness pal! You can find me-my username is nre820.

Alright kids, catch you later! Be on the lookout for a few life updates and some baller recipes!