Category Archives: dinner

home cookin’.

Happy Monday evening, everyone!

I’ve unexpectedly ended up staying in Connecticut for a couple nights, so tonight I took advantage of my mom’s home cooking.  

I can attribute my enjoyment of kitchen creations to my mom, whose cooking expertise and adoration seem to have skipped over my sister and been passed straight to me.  We differ, however, in one major capacity:  I am unable to adhere to a recipe, and my mom swears by her cookbooks.

She has often called herself an adept recipe follower, rather than a cook – personally, I think she doesn’t give herself enough credit.  Her thirtysomething years in the kitchen allow her to doctor up recipes quite well.

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The recipe she followed tonight was for a white “gazpacho” – which seemed oddly titled considering tomatoes were nowhere to be found in the ingredients list.  According to the Boston Globe article where she discovered it, gazpacho can be the name of a chilled vegetable soup that does without tomatoes altogether.  Who knew?

white gazpacho

Unfortunately we all agreed that though the soup was photogenic, it was as bland as its color.  

Along with the light soup, my mom sautéed a slew of vegetables, along with pinto beans, cumin, and chili powder.  I served mine over baby spinach, alongside local roadside corn.

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The farmer who sold my mom the corn had grumbled that the vegetables this season are somewhat water-y due to the absurd amount of rain we’ve had.  He was right – the corn was disappointing, and I so look forward to corn on the cob this time of year.

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On the plus side – it was a visually pleasing meal, a fresh and home-cooked one, and it was eaten alongside my lovely parents.  Not every meal can be five stars.


Are you a recipe-follower or a more creative cook?

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danger zone.

Since my refrigerator is officially bare, I grabbed dinner for my train ride at my number one danger zone:  the Whole Foods salad bar.

When I was in Prague, my boss and I used to enjoy lunch at a vegan cafe called “Country Life.”  We often discussed how thankful we were for the few health-conscious restaurants in the city center, as my boss was one of maybe four Czechs who were vegetarians.  Country Life provided us with the largest hot and cold salad bar in the city.

It offered, however, about a tenth of the options on display at Whole Foods.  Possibly less.

I never go to the WF salad bar.  Not that it isn’t delicious – everything always is.  But I am physically incapable of putting less than 2 pounds of salad in my box, which results in $17 that could have bought me salad ingredients for a week.

Knowing that I have a lot of excessive vacation meals on the horizon, I managed to keep myself relatively under control tonight.

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I still went for the largest container though.

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In the mix is roughly every vegetable available, plus some chickpeas and kidney beans, and a couple tastes of prepared salads (far less than normal).  I topped it with globs of hummus (one of the few surviving ingredients in my refrigerator), and now it’s all packed for the train.  Kind of like my suitcase should be.

I’ve got some posts set to show you all around our paradise town, and I’ll be blogging our restaurant visits, because there are some fabulous ones up there.  See you all from vacationland!


Are you as out of control as I am at salad bars?

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cleaning out the fridge.

In less than 36 hours (not that I’m counting), I’ll be heading up to Maine for 9 beautiful days of beachside vacationing.  I’ll be driving straight from there to the summit, and since I’ll be spending tomorrow evening in Connecticut, I basically needed to empty my refrigerator today.

I used to despise leftovers.  I suppose I wanted every meal to be as exciting as possible, and that meant never eating the same thing twice.  Over time, however, I’ve learned to be a bit more creative with my leftovers, should I find some in my refrigerator.  Sometimes a repeat meal can be even better than the original; on other occasions, a fresh idea can add a bit of a thrill to an old container in the back of the fridge.

Today was one of those days when I needed an inventive concept for my leftover cilantro pesto and pizza cheese.  A friend of mine mentioned she was cooking up some stuffed peppers, and I just happened to have stolen a bright orange pepper from my mother yesterday.  So, I roasted it up, stuffed some lentils inside, and topped each half with the remaining spreads.

stuffed peppers

On the plate alongside sweet potato and string beans.  

I should probably go pack.


Do you enjoy your leftovers as is?  Or do you use them to create something new?

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slim pickings.

Happy Saturday, everyone!

I’m unexpectedly in Connecticut for a couple days to lend a shoulder to my best friend.  I believe there will be some wine and chocolate involved later tonight; those plus some vegetables would certainly comfort me.

When I arrived at my parents’ house, I discovered that they already had dinner plans at a restaurant, so I inquired about the vegetable quantity in their refrigerator.  My mom responded, ” Sorry, Les, we’re out of everything.  I think we might have some carrots.”

Then, I opened the fridge to find this:

vegetables

Slim pickings, Mom.

With plenty of vegetables, a freezer full of shrimp, and a pantry stocked with spices from countries spanning the globe, I had everything necessary to make a mess of my mother’s beautifully massive kitchen.

mediterranean shrimp medley with quinoa (for two)

  • 12 shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 T evoo, divided
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 c eggplant, chopped
  • 1 fresh tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 c artichoke hearts
  • 5 prunes, chopped

Heat 1/2 T oil over medium heat.  Add onion, sauté until soft.  Add garlic, sauté one minute.  Add pepper, eggplant, and prunes; sauté about 5 minutes.  Add tomato and artichoke hearts; sauté a couple more minutes, until everything has caramelized.

Remove vegetables from pan; add remaining oil.  Pan sear shrimp, about 3 minutes per side.

for the quinoa:

  • 1 c water
  • 1/2 c quinoa
  • 1 t oregano
  • 1 t basil
  • 1 t marjoram
  • couple pinches salt

Bring water to boil.  Add quinoa and spices; simmer, covered, 15 minutes.

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Served alongside a romaine salad with hot peppers and olive oil.  It’s amazing that I created this out of a kitchen consisting only of carrots.


Since I’m off to offer an ear and some hugs, care to tell me what is comforting to you?

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chopped and colored.

Thanks to everyone who commented on my post earlier.  If you haven’t yet, please do!  Your comment equals a food bank donation!


Today, I visited my hairdresser for a trim and a bit of color.  I have absurdly thick hair, and up until two years ago, it was also very very long.  My aunt actually used to call it my mane.  Here’s an embarrassing collegiate photo:

college

Yeah.  

A little over a year ago, I noticed that my hair wasn’t nearly as thick as it had been all my life.  It was never thin, but it was surprisingly normal – straightening it didn’t take the hour it used to.  Slowly but surely, though, as I graduated from a teaspoon of peanut butter to a tablespoon, from a tablespoon to multiple dips in the jar, from only peanut butter to avocados and olive oil as well, I saw my hair’s thickness return.

Today, my hairdresser commented that my hair has gotten even thicker.  I give credit to health, and to healthy fat.

My dinner tonight had healthy fats as the star:

pine nuts

I am still amazed by my food processor.

creamy cilantro pesto

  • 1/2 c pine nuts, soaked for 2 hours or more
  • juice of 1/4 lemon
  • 1 bunch cilantro (including stems)
  • 1-2 T nutritional yeast, to taste
  • water, as needed

Blend pine nuts in food processor until creamy.  Add lemon juice, pulse to combine.  Add cilantro, nutritional yeast, and water if needed; pulse again until well combined.

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I served some over shredded summer squash, steamed asparagus, sun dried tomatoes, and quinoa.  Yum.


Do you change your hairstyle often?

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pleasing to the mind and the eye.

Well, I’ve had – a day.  You know those days.  I’ll keep the complaints to myself and get right to nicer things.

watermelon and feta salad

Simple foods and good aesthetics always brighten my mood, so dinner was perfectly comforting.  A salad of baby spinach, watermelon, feta, and fresh basil.  Incredible combination, seriously.

toast and brazil nut butter

Along with toast and brazil nut butter, which I made by pureeing brazil nuts in my favorite new toy.  I feel like I’m cheating on avocado toast, but the food processor was tempting me.

I see some yogi tea and banana soft serve in my future.  Possibly some deep breaths, too.


What relaxes you when you’ve had “one of those” days?

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anticipated and new.

One of the reasons for my passion for food also accounts for my adoration of travel.  There is an excitement and a curiosity inherent to globetrotting: you may have preconceived ideas about the culture you plan to visit, but you can never know the accuracy of those notions until you’ve seen the place with your own eyes.

I remember, for instance, a February weekend in Copenhagen, where I was prepared for the cold, for the high prices, for the sleek and modern designs.  I was overwhelmed instead, though, by the warmth of the people.  Never could I have predicted that a bus driver would pull her bus to the curb and open the door, only to ask my friend and I if we were in need of directions, as we stared upwards in search of a street sign.  I don’t foresee a Manhattan driver doing that any time soon.

Tonight, as I got together the elements of dinner, I chose to actually follow a recipe.  [I know, who am I?]  The ingredients were simple, and I was well-acquainted with all of them.  Yet, I had never experienced them combined in this manner.  I felt that same anticipation – confident that it would taste delicious, unsure of the exact flavor I’d be presented with, ready to be surprised by something new.

I took Gena’s pizza “cheese” [I know, I am apparently running to be her number one fan], and I layered some inside red chard leaves, along with sautéed onion, peppers, and tomatoes [clearly not raw].  Here’s a view pre-wrapping:

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Kind of like pizza – minus the bread, which I had on the side, of course.  

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I would never have proposed that cashews could mimic ricotta with near precision in taste.  I’ve experienced it in a couple vegan restaurants, but never in my own kitchen.  Cooking (or “uncooking,” in this case) can certainly take us to many, many places.


Do you consider food an adventure?

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