Friday, May 18, 2012

Yummy Greens

It's salad time! It's been a month since we planted the salad mix in the garden and it has GROWN! It's so nice to have early season bounty!

I snipped a few bits today for a taste test. I've also been reading up online about homemade salad dressing in preparation for this summer's salad fest (which is what I'm calling the forthcoming bounty of greens.) Store-bought is expensive, filled with sugar, and well, EXPENSIVE. I would rather make my own. Especially since my garden is going to be so loaded with herbs. Perfect for dressing!

I fount THIS very helpful post about making homemade dressing. I tailored the vinaigrette recipe to fit my pantry and herb garden -- I used fresh spicy oregano, fresh rosemary, and french tarragon. I also added a bit of honey as a sweetener.

The results:

Here's my recipe for Fresh Herb Vinaigrette -- remember, tailor to your own spices & herbs at will!
1/2 Cup Balsamic Vinegar
1 Tablespoon Honey
1 Tablespoon Dry Mustard
2 Tablespoons total of fresh chopped herbs including Rosemary, Oregano and French Tarragon
3/4 Cups Olive Oil

Include all ingredients except the olive oil in a jar and shake (or stir.)
Add olive oil and shake again.
Separation is normal, shake up before serving! Enjoy!

AMAZING! Yum, yum and more yum!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Lamb Cake

Lamb Cake, also known as "lammie cake," was an Easter staple in our household while growing up. That delicious lamb-shaped cake with vanilla frosting adorned with coconut is something I dreamed about all year. I don't know what made this cake in the shape of a lamb taste better than had the cake been round or rectangular, but it was.

Lamb Cake is a Polish tradition, something my grandmother made for her and something I hope to someday make for my own children. My mother still has our old lamb mold. I thought about dragging it to Boston this year to make a lamb cake but I never got around to it. Maybe next year. I'll have to settle for living vicariously through others' baking adventures on the internet like this lovely lamb cake I found here:

                                                        Source: via Jillian Audrey on Pinterest

Also, a quick ebay search reveals that there are a plethora of vintage lamb cake molds for sale HERE like this beauty.

                                                                  Source: via Jillian Audrey on Pinterest

Etsy vintage sellers also come through with some fantastic options:

Have a happy Easter! xo Jillian

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Urban Garden Take 2 : The Beginning

The end of winter, the beginning of spring... it's time to stick those little seeds in the dirt and wait for them to grow. (Indoors that is, they're nowhere ready to fend for themselves in the brutal outdoors yet.)

2 weeks ago we began sewing some seeds for our plants that have recommended start dates of 4-8 weeks before the last frost.

I just finished reading Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, and I'm so pumped up for our little backyard vegetable garden to sustain us through the summer. I know it will be nothing like her experiment, but I'm quite excited to have our table full our own homegrown goodness to supplement what we buy at the farm market.

Here's a bit of what we have planned for this year's containers:
- Tomatoes
- Ivory Pear Tomatoes (small cherry size)
- Morning Sun Tomatoes (also small cherry size)
- 4 types of Basil including lime and purple
- Oregano
- Parsley
- Catnip (gotta keep the kitties happy too!)
- Jalapenos
- Anaheim Peppers
- Red Bell Peppers
- Multi-colored Peppers
- Rocky Top Lettuce Mix
- Red Wonder Strawberries & Yellow Wonder Strawberries
- Pink Banannas (seriously!)
- Litchi Tomatoes (they are actually berries)
- Ground Cherries
- Two types of Carrots, Pariesienne and Little Finger
- Zucchini
- Amsterdam Prickly Seeded Spinach
- Okra
- Tomatillos
- Potatoes
- Onions

We're doing ALL of those from seed. We're also going to purchase these as plants rather than starting from seed:
- Rosemary
- Chives
- Lavender
- Mint

Holy cow, it's a lot, I know. I can't wait. 
Now I just need to sit and be patient. Grow, baby, grow.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Tonight's Menu: Love

I know it's a week after Valentine's Day, but tonight's dinner comes compliments of Whole Foods' "Share Your Love" recipes. I LOVE that Whole Foods has handy little recipes scattered all over the store -- and these ones were awesome! Even though I didn't make them for V-day (we had steak), I'm treating us to these tasty delights tonight. Yummers. (Click on each of the "whole foods" links to get to the recipe & enjoy!)



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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Gluten-Free Meatballs & Spaghetti... Yes, it can be done!

You guys, I'm really successfully doing it! (I sort of half expected to start crying and give this up after a day) but now in day 3 I'm gluten-free and going strong (even though I did have a dream about bagels the other night.)

On Day 1 I made a FANTASTIC and delicious Braised Coconut Spinach & Chickpeas with Lemon and served it with rotisserie chicken (provided by the good folks at Whole Foods... they do a fabulous job of rotisserying - is that a word?) The recipe calls for a pound of baby spinach but I used 12 oz of baby spinach and 6 ounces of BABY KALE because I saw it at Whole Foods and couldn't resist (yay, extra vitamins and antioxidants?)

But here comes the real crux of my post... MEATBALLS! 

Let me tell you about meatballs. Once upon a time I was scared of meatloaf. Why? I didn't know what it was. Back in my younger days (college) I was invited over to my then-boyfriend's house for dinner and his mother fixed me meatloaf. I was terrified. My family was not a Meatloaf Family. But then I realized when she served it that meatloaf is really just one big meatball served in a pan. Also sort of like eating a hamburger without the bun. I like hamburgers. I like meatballs. Hence, meatloaf ain't so bad!

So when drawing up recipes for my gluten-free experiment I thought that meatballs would be gluten-free. Why? I was always under the impression that meatballs were just round hamburgers. Again, wrong. Apparently I have so much to learn about meat. Meatballs (and meatloaf) also include breadcrumbs. A lot of them.

I found this great recipe for making meatballs (but of course, it is loaded up with breadcrumbs) so I thought about what I could do for a substitution. I searched around my cupboard and the internet and settled on crushing up some Rice Chex (which are gluten-free!) and Rice Krispies (the gluten-free variety... NOTE: Regular Rice Krispies are NOT gluten-free, we'll get to this in my next post.)

I crushed these up, added JUST A TOUCH OF WATER, some Italian spice and baked a little so the spices mixed in. It worked out pretty well to add some "filling" to the meat for the meatballs. I added bits of sliced onion also to boost up the flavor.

Of course, this was my first time making meatballs, so what do I know? They sort of fell apart a little while cooking. Is this normal? I tried not to pack them too tightly as the recipe warned, maybe I should have packed them a little harder... either way, they pretty much stayed together enough to actually be meatballs in the end. I cooked them on the pan for a while but I was worried they were just searing the outsides and not cooking through so I also baked them for 10 minutes in the oven while the pasta cooked on the stove.

The outcome: Delicious! They were soft, moist, and very tasty! Also, the gluten-free pasta, made from rice, tastes exactly like normal pasta. Score.

Bonus: Here's my cat in a bowl. Isn't she cute? And no, I didn't cook dinner with this bowl, don't worry.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Going Gluten-Free : Day 1

First off, I AM SORRY. I know I have been an utterly terrible food blogger. Absolutely abysmal. Beyond abysmal. What's beyond abysmal anyway? Atrocious? Well, whatever it is, it's me. But don't fret, I haven't been living strictly off of Buffalo chicken pizza and other takeout fare, I have been cooking... sometimes. I do indulge in a good BC pizza now and then too, of course.

I promise to blog better. (I know, you've heard this promise before.) But really, I will. And to kick it off I have a real challenge/experiment I'm starting. I'm going GLUTEN-FREE for two weeks.

Why? Two reasons.

1. For work. In my day job I'm a magazine editor and I write a magazine column where I ask readers to offer me up challenges/things to "try." Well, we have a lot of readers with children who have special needs and food allergies so someone suggested I try a gluten free-diet for 2 weeks.

2. In doing some research I learned that a low-gluten or gluten-free diet may be beneficial for migraine sufferers. (That's me.) And, in fact, migraines might indicate a gluten intolerance or sensitivity. Yikes.

So, here we are. My official Day 1. I ate my final gluten-full meal on Saturday with a tuna melt and then had my last taste of gluten on Sunday with a brownie, but other than that Sunday was relatively gluten-free.

I'll be going grocery shopping today to pick up goodies/snacks/meals for the week. But yesterday I stopped by Whole Foods to pick up gluten-free cereal that I plan to mix in with yogurt for my breakfast.

Oh granola, how I'm going to miss you! Good thing coffee is gluten-free. Wish me luck. I'll keep you regularly updated on my progress!
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