It’s Monday and the Monday after Labor Day, which means you’re perhaps in a bit of a funk. Maybe you’re back in full-fledged school/work/activities craziness after a summer of less frantic lives. Or maybe you’re someone who feels fall is the big downward slide to all cold weather all the time. Or maybe you’re just not a Monday person for all the obvious reasons. Whatever the reason, we’re here to help things just a bit with a fabulous cookbook giveaway.
Exciting doings here at LTIR central: Rachel and I are actually cooking together because she is visiting the East Coast. Last night we whipped up this tasty dip inspired by a recipe from Blissful Bites by Christy Morgan (a cookbook we highly recommend).
Despite Rachel freaking out just a little because I don’t own a single measuring spoon, meaning she had to “estimate” an actual tablespoon, we managed to make this without coming to blows. And I took just a little pleasure — okay, a lot — when it tasted just fine despite the inadequate cooking utensils chez Mom. Hah! Read the rest of this entry »
We’ve got a finicky eater on our hand. By finicky I mean that someone in this household who is only about yay high has issued a moratorium on trying new things. And by new things I include hot chocolate. No matter the deliciousness, Miss M simply refuses to let anything new cross her lips. Thank god we’d gotten a few super nutrients over the threshold before the embargo settled in. The fact that she will eat interesting and strongly flavored foods (such as garlic and ginger), though, makes her refusal to continue adventuring all the more frustrating. John and I both offer her things to try with confidence that she’ll like them, only to find our spoons butting against her cheek instead of her open mouth.
I’m so glad you, John and M (vicariously or is it secondhand?) enjoyed the leftover burritos last week. First, how great are leftovers? It’s so wonderful to come in the door after a grueling day at work, or in your case school, and know there is something nutritious to eat just a microwave away. I wish I had been more organized as a young working mother to figure this out. It wasn’t until I started my gig in Albany (I work out of town two to four days a week creating magazines) that I started cooking ahead and making dishes that had leftovers for the rest of the week. Stuuuupid. How I would have loved to have done this in the days of juggling a job and young children. I hope you learn from my mistakes. The key to good meals during the week is smart cooking on the weekends.
Anyway on to the burritos. I don’t think my burritos are particularly spectacular and they change just about every time I make them. It all depends what’s in the house. These particular burritos featured black beans (a personal favorite of mine), corn, dirty rice (that I made from a box so there’s THAT confession; it wasn’t from scratch), chili powder, hot sauce, some guacamole, grated sharp cheddar, sour cream and salsa. Mix it all together in a bowl, wrap it in a tortilla, pop it in the oven, and voila, instant filling dinner.
I have also made burritos with refried beans, jalapenos, ground turkey and all of the above. I think that’s what I like about them so much: You can do just about whatever you want within certain perameters, it’s fast and it’s nutritious. What are your favorite burrito fillings?
Rachel here: I made stuffed peppers for the first time last night and I will definitely be making them again. While I know they often have rice or bread crumbs, I went a lighter route and just stuffed mine with veggies, tofu and cheese. It made for a nice light summer dinner, though I can imagine making a different stuffing that feels cozy once the cold weather comes.
On a different note, I’ve been thinking a lot about what I put in my body since M is exclusively breastfed. Avoiding anything and everything with hormones/antibiotics/words-I-can’t-pronounce feels essential in terms of giving M a healthy start (ok, I just reread that and it sounds a little ummm…zealous…*sigh*) and the easiest and most affordable way to do this seems to be to eat vegetarian and vegan meals. While we can definitely get good quality reliable meat around here, it doesn’t come cheap. So anyway, while my focus on meatless cooking started with this column, I guess I’m here today to say it’s grown and now dominates our weekly eating. I made this entire dinner using exclusively organic and local ingredients and spent less than ten dollars to do so. Now that’s a meal that’s good for the planet, the body and the wallet…pretty awesome.
3 red bell peppers, tops and seeds removed (*pick peppers that stand up!*)
1 portabello mushroom, diced
1/2 white onion, diced
2 sm. heirloom tomatoes, deseeded and diced
1 crookneck squash, diced
6 oz. extra-firm tofu, broken up
1 sprig rosemary, destemmed
salt and pepper
juice from half a lemon
1/3 c. feta cheese
mozzarella to top peppers
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Sautee mushroom, onion, tomato, squash and tofu with rosemary, salt and pepper and lemon juice. Mix in feta cheese and stuff peppers with this mixture. Top with mozzarella and bake until the cheese is bubbly and starting to brown. Enjoy!
Rachel here: Quality and quantity are where it’s at these days in our house. As we emerge from the shadows of new parenthood (ok, as we try to…), one of our focuses is on eating better. As I told my brother S in my bon voyage post to him as he prepared to leave for college, eating well–for me!–really facilitates taking care of myself in general. We also aim to be realistic, though, and know that there are definitely days in each week where either the energy to cook or the time (M reserves the right to demand to be held at any moment) might fail to manifest. This is where today’s post comes in: a big, healthy salad that we ate for several days, thereby satisfying both the quality and the quantity requirements.
1/2 c. couscous (before cooking)
12 oz. extra firm tofu
1/4+ tspn. kosher salt
1 small lemon
1 small white onion
1 ear corn
2/3 of a large carrot
1/2 large heirloom tomato
Crumble tofu and marinate in 1/4 tspn. kosher salt, the juice from the lemon, and a few dashes of soy sauce and olive oil. Saute until crisp and let cool. Chop the onion into large pieces and saute until browned and sweet. Cool. In a large bowl, combine the couscous, tofu, onion, corn, carrot (I shred mine) and chopped up tomato. Add salt and pepper as needed to adjust the flavor. When I served it I added avocado, but the salad is good without it. If you’re going to serve it with avocado, don’t add it until right before serving so that it doesn’t brown. Enjoy!
Rachel here: I am obsessed with eggplant (I know-it’s a picture of a tomato, not an eggplant, but more on that in a bit). Until recently, I counted it as a food I didn’t particularly care for. Our dear friend N came to visit and help us out right after M was born, though, and she put eggplant in lasagnas that she made us. Ever since then I’ve had a hankering. While my mom hates the texture, that’s precisely the thing that I’m so gaga for these days. Anyway, after making stir-fry the other night I found myself with half an eggplant leftover. What to do? Simple. Buy the prettiest heirloom tomato I could find, a delicious loaf of bread and make open-faced eggplant parmesan sandwiches for dinner.
I know, I know. There should be a picture of eggplant and a sandwich in this blog post somewhere. The photos I took, though, fall into the category of epic failure, so instead I’m keeping you hungry with pictures of tomatoes and bread (personally, they’re two of my favorite things). This was a really simple and delicious dinner and I don’t want to turn you off with unappetizing pictures.
loaf of your favorite bread (I bought a loaf of rustic whole wheat sourdough made by the local Acme bakery…so so good)
tomato (heirlooms just came into season here and I won’t by a different kind of tomato until they go out)
salt and pepper
Slice the eggplant in 1/2-inch slices. Rub with salt, pepper and olive oil. Grill. Place bread under broiler and toast (don’t toast too much as you will be placing bread back under broiler later). On top of toasted bread, stack basil leaves, slices of tomato, and piece of grilled eggplant. Shred parmesan cheese generously over the top before placing sandwiches under the broiler. Broil until cheese is good and melted. Devour!
Rachel here: Contrary to the photos I’m offering up today, Plum Upside-Down Cake is amazing. This cake is fluffy and light and the perfect amount of sweet. Plums are everywhere around here these days and one of my favorite fruits so I’m always looking for ways to maximize my consumption of them (besides eating them raw…which I can do multiple times a day). Anyway, these photos are from the first time I made this cake, back in the days before M was even an idea…back, you know, when I made cakes for fun. I’m sure those days will return, though right now they seem pretty distant. Anyway, this cake is super easy and incredibly good and I highly recommend you make it as soon as possible. Your only problem will be sharing it.
Get the recipe (and see a better photo!) here. The only thing I did differently was add a squeeze of lime juice to the plums when I cooked them (I’m forever adding citrus to things). I totally suggest doing the same, though I can’t imagine the cake isn’t awesome without this addition.
Rachel here: As we mentioned this past Thursday, Mondays are now going to feature a vegetarian and/or vegan recipe in an effort to do our small part to enact and encourage environmentally-responsible eating. I am delighted to kick this posting trend off today with a delicious, hearty and summery recipe. Since it first crossed my mind to make gazpacho a few summers ago, it has been a staple in our house in the hotter months. I think my favorite part about it is that I’m never quite sure what all will end up in the bowl, making my ingredient decisions instead at the grocery store or farmers’ market as I encounter the produce. I accompanied the meal this time with garlic bread, although I’ve been known to forgo the oven completely (even greener!) and just put out some cheese and crackers. Either way, every time I serve it there are happy faces and full bellies around the table come dinner’s end.
1 large lemon
1 1/2 c. cannelini beans
5 small tomatoes (or equivalent)
1 medium cucumber
1 medium white onion
1 medium green bell pepper
1 ear fresh corn
salt and pepper
fresh mint leaves
Dice your tomatoes, cucumber, onion, bell pepper and corn. Put in a large bowl, reserving 1 1/2 cups. Puree the reserved vegetables and add to bowl. Add the beans and juice from the lemon. Season with salt and pepper and tear up just a few mint leaves. The idea with the mint at this point is to just add the subtlest hint of mint. The leaves don’t hold up so well, though, so I get the bulk of my minty flavor when I garnish the soup right before serving it. Add tomato juice as needed to get a good amount of liquid. Make sure the soup is well mixed before placing in the refrigerator to chill for a few hours. During this time, the flavors will come out a bit more. Taste before serving and adjust seasoning if needed. Garnish with a few mint leaves in each bowl and enjoy.
Janet here: The best gazpacho, to my mind, has a bit of zing to it so when I make it, I add things like Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce. (This would not go with mint FYI so I would leave that out of Rachel’s recipe.) I also like to leave mine a little crunchy so I don’t puree it all the way. Just some other thoughts to consider as you’re experimenting with this wonderful summer day staple. Enjoy!