Summertime snacks

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Dear friend,

I love that you posted that recipe because just a couple days prior I made something very similar and after shoveling it in my mouth via tortilla chips, I used it on tacos! It was actually a recipe I got from your mom- her fiesta bean salad that I became obsessed with at your bridal shower. I love the idea of combining it with seafood and I admire your usage of lettuce instead of taco shells, though I’m afraid that’s something I may never be able to do.

We actually don’t have any real big adventures planned for this summer. We have our usual summer activities- the Boilermaker, Brewfest, a wedding but otherwise just enjoying summertime in Vermont 😎

Lately I’ve been embracing less rigid meal planning and going with what produce is available and on sale. We’ve been doing a lot of salads and grilling pizzas, brats and veggies.  I’ve also been really into baguettes, cheese and salami or prosciutto- so easy to assemble on a picnic or at the beach!

Recently I got together with a group of girlfriends and brought some whipped feta to share. I kind of followed this recipe but mostly eyeballed the cream cheese to feta ratio and added in a bunch of chives and basil.  We have so much basil it goes into pretty much anything we eat.  Also I used just regular cream cheese.  Anyway, I intended to spread this on a baguette that I brought but since I didn’t want to miss any more of the juicy conversation to go inside and cut the bread (because big surprise, I was the last one there even though I live the closest) and there were so many pita chips already in a bowl, we just used those. BUT the next day I really did it. On Tuesdays and Friday’s in the summer, one of the bakery’s downtown sends a guy on his bike through our neighborhood selling their leftover bread. He yells “freeeesh breaaaaad” and my heart skips a beat each time. One time I chased him down the street while we were meeting with our architect and P said he’s never seen me run that fast. Anyway, I happened to be outside cutting some basil (it’s out of control in the best way possible) when he rode by and I scored a loaf of olive bread. Now when I purchased this loaf I actually thought it was olive oil bread so I was a tiny bit sad because I don’t love all olives (only black for me!) but then I remembered the leftover whipped feta. And that I had a cucumber in the fridge. And then everything came together in the most casual, unplanned summer fashion!

The Verdict: the main ingredient is cheese so it’s obviously a winner.  It was so light and creamy and feta-y and basil-y. It’s perfect for when you’re sipping on wine and snacking with girlfriends. Or a on Friday night, smeared on freeeesh breaaaaad and topped with cucumbers while discovering and binging on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. And then again on Saturday for lunch.  It also would be great spread on a pita pocket that is then stuffed with all sorts of veggies or in a puff pastry.

And now a garden update! We’ve been enjoying lots of greens and basil. The cilantro and parsley are ready to go and I think our squash is almost ready! The one bummer is our spinach “bolted” which happens if it gets too hot and results in the leaves being kind of bitter. But that’s ok! It’s been so great watching everything grow!

spinach, kale, carrots, peppers and swiss chard
tiny peppers
almost ready to eat!
yay tomatoes!

Hope you guys have been enjoying the sunshine!

Until next time!

Marissa

Catch up.

Dear Friend,

Your garden is looking so beautiful and delicious! How has it been growing since we last spoke? I’m interested to learn about what you do with those beets!! Having a garden is a lot of work but so rewarding. My family has had gardens for as long as I can remember, and it’s only been in the recent years of being so far away from home and the garden that I have any appreciation for it. Dad usually does all the work to what we refer to now as our family CSA; every year my mom makes jars on top of jars of tomato sauce and raspberry jelly. I love going grocery shopping when I do go home because I always leave with the good stuff.🙂
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Another lentil post?!

Dear friend,

I totally hear you on getting back on track with healthy food. Sometimes life gets busy and takeout is so much easier. And by takeout I mean delivery because I’m too lazy to drive somewhere to pick food up. Obvs. I don’t know what I’ve even been busy with but I feel like it’s so late by the time I’m ready to make dinner and then even later for after cleaning up. I’m definitely looking forward to more effortless summertime cooking. Your wrap looked really easy and tasty so we’ll definitely try that but maybe with barley instead of quinoa because strangely quinoa hurts my belly. 

Anyway…

This taco recipe is one I first made 2  weeks ago and have already made since then because it is so delicious and easy. As you know, there is one person in our household who is obsessed with lentils and one who isn’t as much. Or really at all. So much so that when this person caught me prepping the lentils for this meal he creeped up behind me and solemnly asked, “why don’t you love me anymore?” Sigh. So dramatic. I, of course, ignored that comment and proceeded on with the tacos because I just knew I could win him over. 


The Verdict: I could say I thought they were delicious but I think the best way to sum these up is this- P WENT FOR SECONDS! Seconds! Of lentils! And cauliflower! And I hated to say that I told him so, but I did anyway because it felt so good. These tacos had the right amount of spice and were really filling. A couple things I slightly changed-  I added a dash of chipotle chili powder to the lentils and substituted low fat sour cream for the mayo. Mayo sounded a little weird to me and we had some leftover sour cream anyway. Plus I feel that when you’re eating such healthful foods you can splurge on the toppings a bit. I considered subbing in a tiny bit of maple Greek yogurt in order to make a maple chipotle cream sauce but decided I wanted that yogurt for breakfast instead.  Also we added some avocado slices which, along with cilantro, balanced the heat perfectly. Oh and of course P added some shredded Monterey Jack cheese. For leftovers I just ate the lentils and cauliflower in a bowl and added the sauce after heating it up because I know how sloppy I am with tacos and I’ve learned from experience I cannot eat tacos at work without spending the rest of my day trying to hide the new stains on my clothes. 

On a side note, the garden is coming along nicely! It’s so crazy to me how we could plant these little seeds and they’re growing up to be big and strong! I call the plants “the kids” right now because it feels like we’re nurturing and raising these little organisms but I know that will get weird once I’m ready to eat them. 

beets
kale
spinach

Hope to see you guys this summer!! Miss you!

Love, Marissa 

¿Donde esta el queso?

Dear Friend,

I am so proud of you and your kitchen accomplishments! The pasta and gnocchi look so delicious! I think the research is the key–like you said, there’s a lot of science behind these recipes and the slightest change can make food that’s not so great. Have you tried mixing in different flavors?
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Another Goal Met!

Dear Friend,

That breakfast you made sounds so good and easy! I’ve been wanting to eat more eggs for breakfast (or any) but I always feel like I don’t have enough time. I should really just get up earlier but that never works out, even though I’ve been going into work at 7 for over 4 years and should be a morning person by now. But perhaps having  a tasty breakfast at the table would be a good reward? I’ll keep telling myself that.

So I have heard of the alkaline diet but I was very judgey of it because Tom Brady does it and you know this is a Broncos household. However, if following that diet would result in me looking even a tiny bit like Gisele then maybe it’s worth it🙂
Earlier this year I set a couple cooking goals for myself.  They included: making homemade pasta, having a small garden, relying less on recipes, dirtying fewer than 8 dishes/pots/pans when I cook, not slicing through my fingertips as often and using less colorful language when I knock things over on the countertop.  Well I’m happy to say I’ve now met two of those! As you know I began relying less on recipes a couple months ago and recently I stopped using such colorful language.  Just kidding. I made homemade pasta!

So this adventure actually started on Valentine’s Day when we decided it would be fun to make pasta from scratch. After a lot of research, we settled on a recipe from The New Best Recipes cookbook from America’s Test Kitchen. I love that cookbook. It’s ginormous and full of amazing recipes and tidbits. These guys create like 50 variations of a recipe to determine exact ingredients and explain the science behind it. It’s a food nerd’s dream.  Anyhoo, back to the food…  

Since it’s a cookbook recipe I don’t have the link but you may be able to find it on their website. I believe their recipe uses a pasta machine which we don’t own. So we divided our dough into 4 chunks, rolled each chunk out flat, rolled into a tortilla, cut the dough and then unraveled each piece. As you can see our noodles are not perfect and I think it’s hard to get them exactly the same without a machine but whatevs. 

  

  

The Verdict: Sooooooo much better than dried pasta! It had a nice bite to it, the perfect level of chewiness. I ate every last bite of my already oversized bowl and was in a pasta coma that I didn’t want to come out of it.  Now this is a meal that is most suited for a kitchen that has a touch more countertop space than ours but we made it work and all the shuffling of bowls/noodles was totally worth it. While we’ve used dried pasta since making it fresh, we have made it one other time and it didn’t lose its magic the second time either. 

Now I’ve also read a few blogs/articles on how easy it is to make homemade gnocchi. Per request of P, we were going to have gnocchi with a mushroom sauce and I had a package of gnocchi ready to go. But then I was feeling ambitious and was still tasting the fresh spaghetti (probably because it was just a few days prior that we had eaten it- love me some pasta) so I decided to try it from scratch. Like I said, I’ve read a couple recipes and they’re all very similar. I’ve actually made gnocchi twice now (can’t stop won’t stop) using two different recipes but I’m going to focus on this recipe for gnocchi with white wine sauce as we liked it just a bit more than the other. 

  

The Verdict: Equally amazing! These were like little ricotta pillows that I wanted to eat and also nap on. This sauce was also surprisingly good. As you know I’m not a huge mushroom fan but when you smother them with cheese and put them over those pillows, they’re not so bad. This is a pretty rich dish so a salad may be a good accompaniment.  

Disclaimer: While these recipes are very easy, they do take a little extra time than opening a box. We usually make pasta on the weekend as I think it’s best when you can take your time, sip on some wine and listen to Pandora’s “hipster cocktail hour.” 

Two goals down, six to go! Hopefully when I write next I will have started on a third goal- stay tuned!

Hope you’re enjoying the lovely spring weather!

Love, Marissa

Good Food. Good Life.

Dear Friend,

Happy Spring! Although with that white crap that’s falling from the sky now, it finally feels like winter. I’m not sure about your neck of the woods, but it’s been up to 60* and so, so nice. And now this. Luckily the snow won’t stay long, though I’m sure this weather has been pretty perfect for your maple syrup conglomeration🙂 Continue reading