Salad for Breakfast

IMG_1316

 

One morning last week I woke to my body telling me I must feed it salad for breakfast.  My usual smoothie or veggie/egg scramble wasn't going to cut it.  

It was raw, crunchy veggies or nothing at all.

I'm not one to get too caught up on the appropriate times to eat certain foods so I obliged.

I've been on a bit of a cabbage and slaw kick (no, not the kind you get at the deli of your local grocery) and decided to come up with a Thai-ish version of my own.  I'm not much of a recipe girl when I'm throwing things together and tend to adjust as I go but I jotted down what I used that day and thought I'd share it.

Garden Veggie Slaw with Thai Peanut Dressing

1 small cabbage (green, red or half of each), shredded

1/2 red pepper, thinly sliced

1 carrot, grated

1 small zucchini, grated

1/4 c chopped parsley

1 can garbonzos, rinsed and drained

Dressing

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 T all natural peanut butter

2 T Tamari

1 T (real) maple syrup

1 T sesame oil

2 T olive oil

juice of one lime

1/4 t hot chili oil

1 t Apple cider vinegar (I like Braggs)

Combine the first 6 ingredients in a large bowl.  Place the dressing ingredients in a lidded jar, shake well to combine.  (You can also combine them all in a small bowl with a wisk).  

Because I wanted to save some for a few additional meals I didn't dress the entire salad.  Insead I dressed it as I went.  Either way works well.  Enjoy!

***

I made this again today but had different ingredients on hand so I added a bit of finely sliced celery and omitted the parsley.  For the dressing I also omitted the chili and sesame oils, apple cider vinegar and lime but added some rice wine vinegar and sriracha sauce.  Unfortunately, I didn't write down the amounts but the acid/oil ratio was about the same and I enjoyed today's dressing more.

After a long weekend of fun (ahem), this really hit the spot at lunch today.

 

 

 

In the Kitchen

Roasted Cauliflower, Broccoli and Sundried tomatoes with Chickpeas

Over the past two years, I've made a gradual transition to being primarily vegetarian.  There are many reasons for this (including health and environmental concerns) but I just typically don't enjoy meat.  This has been a challenge in the kitchen as the rest of my family still likes meat at least occaisionally.  Thus, finding meals that we all will enjoy and be nourished by has made my life in the kitchen a bit more interesting.  While we all have definitely cut back significantly on the amount of meat we eat, I still work to include meals that I know Jeff and the kids will enjoy.  

That being said, when it comes to vegetarian cooking, I think I have a new obsession.  It's Andrea's Blog Dishing Up the Dirt.  I discovered her a few months ago and have been a fan ever since.  Not only are her recipes delcious (and primarily vegetarian) but she and her husband are Organic Famers not to far from where I grew up and near where our family hopes to live (and eventually farm) after Jeff retires from the Air Force.  That makes it even more fun and inspiring.  

The first recipe of her that I tried was Roasted Garlic Sweet Potatoes and Tomatoes with Poached Egg.  I made it one night for dinner shortly after Jeff left for the states.  It was so good I proceeded to make it the next morning for breakfast.  

The other recipe in major rotation is Black Bean Burgers.  I have been searching for a bean burger recipe the whole family would enjoy (or at least eat).  The first time I made this Jeff grilled beef burgers for the kids while he and I had the beans.  We liked it so much I made it for the family the following week.  

They ate it and enjoyed it!  Jack was very detailed with feedback and commented that "the texture was very good."  We may have cheated a bit by topping it with Burgerville Special Sauce (a gift from Mom and Fred and not exactly a whole food) but I'm willing to compromise.  

Two others from Andrea that I've made are:

Roasted Cauliflower, Broccoli and Sundried Tomatoes with Chickpeas

Cilantro Lime Dressing (I haven't made the salad but the dressing is a new standby)

I have plans to try many more in the coming weeks.

Margarita Cookies

I am sharing the love a bit and looking other places for inspiration.  

We're headed to a Mexican themed dinner party tonight and one of my contributions is Margarita Cookies.

The first time I made these I tried the actual ice cream sandwiches and it was a bit of a disaster due to assembling them in the hot (non-A/C) Colorado kitchen on the 4th of July.  They were just as good served along side the ice cream and that's what we'll do tonight though with Vanilla gelato.  (No lime to be found!) 

I got the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook for Christmas and (no surprise) have loved everything I've tried. The cookbook has a recipe for Ratatouille Subs was another (suprise) hit with the entire family.  It is basically Ratatouille's Ratatouille in a baguette. Yum!  I did modify it a bit and served the kids' with a slice of mozzarella and salame while Jeff and I had ours with goat cheese as she suggests.  Yum!

The last recipe to share with you is also from Deb at Smitten Kitchen.  When my sister emailed me about the Pasta and White Beans with Garlic Rosemary Oil before she had even served it (only tasted out of the pan) I knew I would try it.  When she told me both my brother-in-law and nephew liked it…it went straight to the top of the menu.  While my three didn't enjoy it as much, I did and it's definitely on my "make again" list.

Finally, I wanted to share about 30 Day Vegan.  I've participated in several of Heather's workshops and done 30 Day Vegan once before.  This go around my sweet friend, Alice, and I are doing it.  I'm excited and a bit nervous as we have two birthdays and a trip planned during the 30 days.  Plus, I live in northern Italy where meat and cheese, oh the cheese!, reign supreme.  I'm going into it full of grace, realistic expectations and anticipation for a great 30 days even if each one isn't completely vegan.  If you've ever thought about doing something like this, I highly recommend it.   

How about you.  What have you been cooking lately?  I'd love suggestions especially for vegetarian, kid friendly, summertime foods.  

 

Sights and Sounds

Spring 1


Spring 2


Spring 3

Today has been a beautiful, Spring day in northern Italy.  While we haven't had much cold or snow, we have had a ton of rain recently.  That made today's sun and 60 degrees especially welcome.  

I came across a new salad recipe (Arugula Orange Salad) to try only to discover that I had sent the last of our oranges to school with Morgan for her snack.   I decided to take advantage of the beautiful day and walk the mile to the open air market in the next town.  I'm so glad I did. I saw and heard such fun things.

Sights::  Gorgeous blue sky, snowy mountain tops, buds on trees, flower blooms, bees, people working in their gardens, a baby hanging out in his pack and play on the patio while his mama did housework and the first butterfly of the season.  (A sweet woman tried to point it out to me.  It took me a while to catch on to what she was saying.  Once I say it, I responded with "Ah!  Primavera."  I'm sure you are impressed with my Italian.)

Sounds:: The breeze as it moved through the trees, birds chirping, rugs being shaken out, "The Macarena" through open windows (that baby's mama knows how to rock the housework), "Que bella oggi" (It's beautiful today) from a sweet older woman who was sweeping her porch as I walked by, an extra hint of contentment and joy in the voices of all I met along the way.    

Que bella, indeed.  

Around the Table

November 17

 

In each of the last two cities we’ve lived, I have been part
of a group that regularly met to share a meal. 

In San Antonio, we joined with three other couples from our
church for a monthly “Supper Club.”  We
took turns hosting the meal with the host setting the theme and cooking the
main course while the others contributed sides and desserts.  It started a bit of a whim as some of us
shared our love for cooking and wanting to get together more often.  When we first started in 2004, there were two
children. In 2008, when we moved, we were up to nine children and one on the
way.  In the end, we met a bit less frequently
and our dinners were definitely busier as our kids were with us but we stuck
with it.

Fort Collins brought several groups over the years.  The meal exchange ladies typically
shared snacks and drinks as did the book club I went to for a while.  But it was with my sweet friends Alice and
Mindy that I spent the most time around the table with.  We also met at church and started a bible
study one summer.  This particular study
included recipes and simple menu suggestions along with the encouragement to add
some extra time to gather together and share a meal.

That’s exactly what we
did.  What happened during those summer evenings is that we connected in a way that went beyond sharing food or answering Bible study questions.  

Raspberry Ricotta Scones

A few weeks ago, I got an email from a friend inviting us to
the 1st “Foodie Club” meeting. 
Always creative, she chose “Sunday Brunch” as the theme for our Friday
night dinner.  Such fun. 

As I was preparing my contribution of raspberry ricotta scones and
quiche, it struck me that gathering around the table is such a great way to
build relationship.  In both San Antonio
and Fort Collins, the people we met with regularly were a part of our lives in
other ways yet it was those hours we spent sharing a meal, lingering with wine
or dessert and coffee that we really connected. 
Those are the moments when conversations wander to areas that don’t come
up in other settings or where debates are held thanks to the encouragement of full
bellies, candlelit rooms and that last glass of wine.  Eventually, if you meet often and regularly
enough, you realize that you are sharing more than a meal with each other.  

You are sharing your life. 

Food plays such an amazing role in relationships.  Preparing a meal is giving a bit of yourself
to those you are feeding.  Yes, you give
your time and skills but through those efforts you give the people you are
feeding the more important gift of nourishment for both body and soul.  When you think of it that way, the role
sharing a meal plays in all aspects of our lives. 

Celebration. 

Grief. 

Just getting through the day.

Regardless of the reason for gathering, a connection is made and if you do it
often and long enough, you will build a community. 

And that is something that makes life so very rich. 

Cooking Class: Gnocchi

Arugula for Gnocchi

My sweet friend Ashley arranged for a small group of us to have three private cooking lessons at a local restaurant.  The first class was las tnight and we learned how to make three kinds of gnocchi.  

For those that have never had gnocchi, I often refer to it as the pillow pasta.  In it's best form it's light, airy and a bit puffy.  

Manlio

Our host, Manlio (chef and owner), was gracious with our group of eight women and one man.  Most of us knew at least one other person but beyond that we were a great mix of friends and strangers.  As the night went on we connected not only with eachother but also with Manilo.  We had so many quesetions about both Italian cooking and Italian life and he answered each one with kindness and care sharing a bit of himself and the region with each answer. 

As we started cooking, Manlio walked through each step in making traditional, pumpkin and ricotta gnocchi.  They are all so good yet so very different in both flavor and texture.  

Stuffing the gnocchi with arugula and cheese

As the night went on, I was reminded of the greatest lesson I'm being taught here in Italy, patience.  In this instance our meal tasted so much better than many I've had.  In other daily situations (ie. the bank, grocery, etc.), I'm always reminded that life isn't an emergency and if we rush even the little steps we just might miss the greatest gifts within our grasp. 

Gnocchi with smoked ricotta

At the end of the night, after much laughter and conversation we gathered around the table and enjoyed an amazing meal.  Yes, we ate great food but more than that, we connected with each other, shared stories, and gave our time.  

It was a great night indeed.  

(I'll post a recipe once I'm able to try it at home at least once with readily available ingredients.)

Canned

Pear butter

This year, we decided to take our first steps into the world of canning.  Jeff’s mom and grandma passed on a huge love of, and tradition for, canning (My MIL’s pickled green beans are to die for as is her sauerkraut.)

While we’ve done some preserving in the past,  this year we’re stepping up.  Thankfully, Jeff is all in when it comes to this endeavor.  I even bought him a pressure canner for his birthday and he was thrilled.  In fact, if anything,  he might be even more into this than I am.

This past weekend was busy in our kitchen.

We have five pear trees in our yard and they were ready to be picked and processed.  This caught us a bit off guard as it seemed early but our Italian neighbors assured us that now was the time to get started.  Jeff started Saturday off with a batch of pear butter and then I wrapped it up with a double batch of pear sauce.

Basil for Tomato Basil Sauce

Prepping for Tomato Basil Sauce

I was so motivated to keep going that on Monday I hit our local market and bought 9 kilos of roma tomatoes (at .79 euro per kg!!).  I knocked out a double batch of Tomato Basil Sauce from Ashley English’s  “Canning and Preserving.”  I also got a batch of Pomodori al Forno into the oven.  Both are great but please, make the Pomodori al Forno immediately.  Jeff and I scheduled a mini date night at home with it, some crusty bread, goat cheese and  prosecco.  YUM!  I regretted not making up a double batch immediately.  (Though I did chop up the two remaining tomatoes and mix them with my scrambled egg the following morning.)

Done.

Up next, pickles and salsa.

Canned

Pear butter

This year, we decided to take our first steps into the world of canning.  Jeff's mom and grandma passed on a huge love of, and tradition for, canning (My MIL's pickled green beans are to die for as is her sauerkraut.)

While we've done some preserving in the past,  this year we're stepping up.  Thankfully, Jeff is all in when it comes to this endeavor.  I even bought him a pressure canner for his birthday and he was thrilled.  In fact, if anything,  he might be even more into this than I am.
This past weekend was busy in our kitchen.
We have five pear trees in our yard and they were ready to be picked and processed.  This caught us a bit off guard as it seemed early but our Italian neighbors assured us that now was the time to get started.  Jeff started Saturday off with a batch of pear butter and then I wrapped it up with a double batch of pear sauce.

Basil for Tomato Basil Sauce


Prepping for Tomato Basil Sauce


I was so motivated to keep going that on Monday I hit our local market and bought 9 kilos of roma tomatoes (at .79 euro per kg!!).  I knocked out a double batch of Tomato Basil Sauce from Ashley English's  "Canning and Preserving."  I also got a batch of Pomodori al Forno into the oven.  Both are great but please, make the Pomodori al Forno immediately.  Jeff and I scheduled a mini date night at home with it, some crusty bread, goat cheese and  prosecco.  YUM!  I regretted not making up a double batch immediately.  (Though I did chop up the two remaining tomatoes and mix them with my scrambled egg the following morning.)

Done.

Up next, pickles and salsa.