Rockin’ Red Potatoes

Do you know how much I love potatoes? THIS MUCH *stretches arms out wide* Potatoes are awesome. I think they’re kind of underrated, because admittedly, they’re not the most flavorful thing in the world – but maybe what makes them so great is how they can be dressed up in so many different ways. Recently, I had an influx of red potatoes as Matt and I both bought bags of them without realizing we already had them. I decided to utilize the massive herb garden at our house and make herb potatoes. While the points value isn’t super low (6+ per cup), potatoes are so filling that you don’t need a massive serving, and these kind of feel like junk food because they’re so yummy. Roast them until they’re golden brown and crunchy and you’ll think, “What diet?”.

Crispety Crunchy Golden Deliciousness

You need:
5 Large Red Potatoes, scrubbed,cut into chunks and then rinsed (removes extra starch)
2 Chopped Green Onions
2 TBSP Olive Oil
2 TBSP Water
2 TBSP Fresh Rosemary
2 TBSP Fresh Oregano
2 TBSP Fresh Thyme
2 Garlic cloves
Salt to taste

Green Goodness

Preheat your oven to 400. In a food processor, add all of the washed herbs (stems removed), green onions, 2 tbsp olive oil, garlic cloves, salt and water.

Slime!

Pulse until it’s a paste – it’s ok if it still has some herb texture. In a large mixing bowl, toss the raw potatoes with the herb paste until the chunks are coated.

Spread on a pan so they get nice and tan!

Arrange in a single layer on a baking pan and roast until they’re brown on the sides and easily pierced with a fork.

Finito! Bon Apetit!

Eat one serving, resist seconds, pretend you didn’t eat five more of them off the baking sheet, and enjoy!

Zucchini Killer Recipe #1


I'm not famous enough yet to blur out the labels. And I'm lazy.

Zucchini are the parasite of the garden, because once you have one… you have 1,000. It’s like having fleas… on crack. I love growing zucchini because they’re easy to grow, but we have SO MANY ZUCCHINI. I have been giving them away to anyone who will take them, but tonight I actually used some and made one of my favorite zucchini recipes – summer squash pasta. It’s relatively simple and easy to make, and apparently, pretty healthy! I also used Orrechiette for the first time (it means “Little Ears” in italian!).

Slicing evenly isn't my forte.

First, you want to chop up your zucchini, mushrooms and onion. Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan on medium and add the vegetables. Stir to coat vegetables with olive oil. Crush two big fat cloves of garlic into this. Keep this on medium/low, because the veggies have a high water content and will cook fairly quickly. If you cook too high, the zucchini will burn and get bitter.

Sea Salt and Pepper

Get your pot of water going for your pasta. You can use any pasta you want, I just happened to have Orrechiette on hand since I’d read about it in “Everyday Food”. I usually use something fairly dense like farfalle or rotini for a dish with lots of chunky vegetables in it – gives the oil and cheese something to stick on to. Once the onions are transparent and everything has shrunk down a bit, add 1/2 cup cheese, the frozen peas, and season very liberally with salt and pepper. (Remember: salt enhances vegetables but it’s a fine line between too little and too much. DO NOT BE AFRAID TO TASTE AS YOU GO!!!)

Steaaaaaam

Has it been 11 minutes? Good. Let the pasta keep cooking. (The box lied – these little ears took about 17 minutes to cook instead of 11! Sheesh! The only way to tell if pasta is done is to pluck one out of the scalding water, let it cool for a few seconds on a spatula, and then burn the roof of your mouth as you see if it’s done!) Drain the pasta and shake it a few times to get all that bath water off of it. (Some people rinse, but I don’t. I guess I’m a rebel like that.)

Next, pour all of the pasta into your pan and gently mix to coat the pasta with the vegetables, juice, and cheese. When you’ve mixed it pretty good, add most of the rest of the remaining half cup of shredded cheese. Save some for the top of your dish – it will be worth it.

The Finished Product!

I calculated all of this out in the Weight Watchers Recipe Builder, and it’s coming in at 7 points per serving. The picture shown here is 1.5 cups which cost me 10 points – not bad at all for a delicious, filling, and savory pasta dinner. The picture below has more accurate portions and Weight Watchers listings, if you’re curious! Enjoy – and watch for the next Zucchini Killer recipe coming soon!

 

Oranges + volunteers = Fruitanthropy

Cute and Colorful Food Forward Van

On Saturday morning, thanks to the help of some volunteers and a great nonprofit called Food Forward, we experienced for the first time, the act of fruitanthropy. Fruitanthrophy is the picking, donating or distributing of fruit for humanitarian purposes. The house that Matt and I rent is graced with two huge, beautiful orange trees that have probably been growing there since the early 1950’s when the house was built. I love the springtime smell of orange blossoms heavily perfuming the air, and the cool, thick shade that their lush green foliage provides, but in our small 2 person family, sadly, most of the actual oranges go to waste.

Food Forward is a non-profit that picks unneeded fruit from people’s trees all over Southern California and donates them to local food banks. With our two massive trees, there’s no way Matt and I could even eat 1/10 of what the trees produce. They came out Saturday morning with their van and ladders, fruit picking tools (I have no idea what those are called!) and lots of empty boxes to collect our backyard bounty.

Helpful Volunteers go to work

It was so much fun watching the people ascend up into the trees and come back with a basket full of oranges. The harvest took about an hour, and talk about an easy way to give back to our community – those oranges were definitely not being used to their full potential, and now, the fruit of our trees can feed lots of hungry people.

Box 'em up!

 

At the end of the pick on Saturday, the team had harvested over 350 pounds of oranges! They separated the oranges from the stems and leaves and boxed them up for their journey to the food banks. 350 pounds goes a long way towards feeding hungry members of a community. Even though I wasn’t out there pulling the oranges from the trees, it felt so good to know that we were helping out, especially since food is such a near and dear part of my life.

Over 350 pounds of oranges!

If you have fruit trees in your yard that you aren’t “using”, I encourage you to research some organizations near your house that could help you harvest your fruit. Your trees will be healthy and happy, you’ll help feed hungry families, and you’ll help out a community in times of need. It’s a win win situation! To find out more about Food Forward and how you can help, visit their website at foodforward.org.

Thanks, Volunteers! (Can you spot a Matthew in there?)

Bye, Oranges! Go Forth and Nourish!

Independence Day Treats

Revolutionary Berries

I’ve got a little bit of Martha in me, because when I see cute food, I swoon, and immediately try to think of a reason why I need to make it. Such was the case for these darling Revolutionary Berries my friend Hilda found. My gracious friend Julie was having a 3rd of July party, so I thought they’d be perfect for a patriotic snack.

Party-goers enjoy berries. (Pic credit: Virginia)

They’re super simple and are made with only three ingredients – white chocolate chips, strawberries and blue decorating sugar. They were kind of a pain in the butt to dip in the melted white chocolate, but the result was super cute and happily, the berries were gone in SECONDS -the best compliment you can get as a chef.

Citrus Squishies

The other thing I just HAD to make after seeing them in Food Network Mag (sorry – no link, but “Not Martha” has something similar here.) were “Fake Fruit”. I have two massive orange trees in my backyard, so a reason to actually use the fruit on my tree was a good incentive for me to make these – and they looked like fab party food.

Some of the things you need

 

 

You need these things: Lemons, Oranges, Orange Jello, Lemon Jello, a sharp knife, a muffin tin, and a cutting board.

First, you slice your fruit in half and remove the pulp. I used a sharp knife to loosen the pulp and then a spoon to scoop it out.

Those aren't muffins!

Then you place the empty halves into a muffin tin to balance them. Prepare the jello according to the directions on the back of the box, and use a small measuring cup to fill the rinds up to the top. It’s ok if a little bit spills out because the jello will shrink as it sets. Carefully transfer to the fridge and then refrigerate until firm (let them set longer than recommended – they’re hard to cut). Place wiggly side down and use a very sharp knife to cut them into wedges.

So cool!

 

Next time, I’ll blot the rinds dry so that the jello sticks a little bit better, but I think for the first time making them, they came out great. Also next time? I’ll add limoncello and orange pucker. Mmmm. Boozy fake fruit – can’t get much better than that.

 

Scroll down to see some more pictures. I had a wonderful fourth of July – I hope you did too!

 

Matt and I enjoyed a lime shaved ice!

Yummy! Virginia tries out an orange slice!

Me and my Grad School Girlies - Hostess Julie and Virginia

Happy 4th of July!

Box full o’ noms

I love getting stuff in the mail – and now, every other week, I receive a box full of organic goodies! I’ve loved the idea of CSA, or community supported agriculture boxes, for a long time, but I never found a company that delivered near me. When I attended the graveyard movie a few weeks ago, a friendly gal was passing out flyers for Farm Fresh to You and I signed up on the spot! Now, every other week we’ll receive a medium sized box of seasonal produce and fruit.

The lettuce is bigger than my head!!!!

This week we got peaches, pluots, corn, lettuce, cauliflower, Nante carrots, beefsteak tomatoes, zucchini and cucumbers. Matt got to open the box on his lunch break (I admit, I was jealous I didn’t get to open it!) and when I got home, it was like a veggie Christmas. The price is very reasonable ($25 every other week) and all of the produce is organic and locally grown. This is a great option for our household because I love to cook, I love fruits and veggies, and I’m in full favor of supporting a local farm rather than giving bits of my hard-earned pay check to Monsanto.

Nante Carrots

The first night we got the box, we used the zucchini, carrots and my own garden grown squash to make a delicious vegetable saute in olive oil and fresh garlic. The carrots were so sweet because roasting and caramelizing veggies brings out all of their natural sugars. The corn on the cob was OFF THE HOOK and we finally got to use our cool corn dishes we got as a wedding gift.

Peaches come from a can, they were put there by a man in a factory downtown.... NOT THIS PEACH! (5 points for whoever gets that)

I had a peach for breakfast that reminded me of summers spent in Conyers, GA with my aunt and uncle, and the pluot I scarfed down yesterday was divine. I know a lot of people think the ‘organic tastes better’ opinion is hocus pocus, but I can honestly say for many fruits and vegetables, organic just tastes… better. Essentially organic means home grown – and a garden grown with love will produce a way better taste than a garden grown with chemicals and machines.

Feeling corny? Butter me up and we'll see what happens.

I’m super excited for the next box. We can even customize it to leave out things we don’t like (eggplant made that list, and zucchini is going on the list since I grow my own), or request more of the things we do. I think the CSA box will be an awesome thing for Matt and I, and will encourage us to try new recipes, eat more fruits and veggies, and help us continue to be mindful of where our food comes from.  Would you consider a CSA box? If so, you should check out this link for more information and to find a participating farm near you!

What’s in my fridge?

  • This is part of Kenlie’s “Friend Makin’  Monday” over at All The Weigh – I’m a day late, but it was such a fun post I couldn’t resist!
  • Crappy iPhone Image - My cluttered fridge.

  1. List a few common items that can always be found in your fridge.  Diet pepsi (currently trying to kick this habit… it’s my “dark passenger”), shredded mexican cheese, cucumbers, pickles, Kalamata olives (LOVE these in salads or pasta…) soy sauce, butter, “Better than Boullion” and “I can’t believe it’s not Butter”. (Did you know a few days ago I asked Matt to hand me the “I can not believe it’s not butter?” Missed that first apostrophe…. he had a good time making fun of me.)
  2. What kind of milk do you drink? 2% – I am not much of a milk drinker at all, but Matt can go through a gallon a week, so Costco is helpful for purchasing moo-juice as it’s priced pretty reasonably…
  3. Do you prefer fresh or frozen vegetables? Definitely fresh vegetables. I’m actually kind of a veggie snob (I blame it on living in California) and only use frozen veggies in soups or stews. Frozen peas, however, work in anything. PS I am so excited because tomorrow my first CSA box comes!!!!! Don’t know what that is? I’ll write about it on Thursday.
  4. What do you currently have to drink in the fridge? Water, milk,diet pepsi, diet cranberry juice, fresca, and LOTS of beer. Sadly, none of that yummy delicious beer is mine, it’s all hubby’s. (I don’t really drink beer – I’m more of a wino)
  5. How often do you clean out your refrigerator? Throwing out old stuff happens less often than it should. Actually cleaning out the fridge happens WAY less often than it should. Kind of embarrassing to admit but uh…. the top shelf is kind of sticky from an unfortunate soy sauce explosion…. I cleaned up a lot of it but there’s still stuff that’s spattered with soy sauce. I really SHOULD clean it out but… you know. (Another embarrassing story: My cousin is extremely type-A, and on her vacation when she was staying at my house, I came home from work to find her frantically scrubbing the inside of my refrigerator. It was one of those times when you’re simultaneously mortified and jazzed… mortified because I’m that slovenly that my cousin decides to clean my fridge ON HER VACATION, jazzed cuz I didn’t have to do it! (Let’s face it, it would probably be just as nasty today if she hadn’t done it!)

    My freezer is a little more boastful... smart ones, wheat bread, rolls, french fries. CARBSSSS!!

  6. What’s the healthiest thing in it right now? Probably the big container of salad made from organic romaine, olives, tomatoes and cukes, and then the bag of cherries.
  7. What’s the most unhealthy thing in it right now? Cheese curds from Wisconsin (a gift from my aunt), beer, butter.
  8. What do you wish you had in it that you don’t have now?I have been DYING for rocky road ice cream. Craving it for several days. It’s probably time to give in because my nutritionist said if you are craving something for more than three days, you need to just do it. Maybe tomorrow.
  9. How often do you shop for groceries? I will usually do a “big” trip every two weeks to stock up, but getting veggies and random things happens about once a week. We have a wonderful chain of stores called the “99c only” store and they are amazing – I get lots of organic produce there for dirt cheap, and it’s right around the corner. I’m hoping our CSA box will help me cut down on the little random trips.
  10. What’s the weirdest thing in your fridge right now? A Kinder Sorpresa egg from Mexico! I bought this for Matt at the airport in Cabo San Lucas back in May – guess he hasn’t wanted to eat it yet! These german chocolate eggs have little toys inside. (PS see that brown schmutz on it? Yeah, see aforementioned soy sauce incident.)

Surprise! Milk Chocolate Egg