The Kitchen Sink

For the love of food, life and everything in between.

Month: March, 2013

Wheat Berry Carrot Muffins


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Although we’ve been visiting the farmer’s market each weekend, the variety remains limited as the spring produce season is still young. This is proving to make my quest for weekly farmer’s market lunches a bit tough. Last weekend we were able to pick out our nitrate free, boneless Easter ham, or as he has become known in our house, the “happy ham.”

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 This week we picked up some winter harvest red wheat berries and sprouted lentils. I really wasn’t sure what I was going to do with the wheat berries. The lentils, the farmer informed me, were wonderful on their very own with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper, making for a protein packed side salad if you will.

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In all honesty, without the farmer’s outreaching of a spoonful of these wheat berries, I probably would have walked by the table as I usually do. Not because I have anything against wheat berries and sprouted lentils, I just couldn’t ever seem to find any immediate uses for them.

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The farmer doesn’t know me, but he sure knew how to catch my attention, and he had me at muffins. Yes, you can add these wheat berries into muffins for a sweet little crunch he told me. Before you knew it, we were munching on them out of our hands, and brainstorming additions to future wheat berry muffins. He also shared a sweet story of the “organic gift of deer” that got him serving up venison. More on that in another post….

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Though the variety  of produce is still a bit limited, the conversation at the farmer’s market is not. It provides me with a sense of community and the way the farmers display and chat about their harvests always seems to captivate me. The presentation is simple, nothing fancy, but the commitment and pride is genuine.

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This year, I chose to forgo the fat laden, coconut covered, bunny cake and instead, chose a fiber-rich, protein packed muffin perfect for Easter brunch or served alongside coffee and tea in the after hours of a ham dinner. I think they would also make a nice addition to Monday’s mid-morning snack too.

Happy Easter!

Wheat Berry Carrot Muffins

Lightly adapted from Natural Health Magazine’s recipe

Makes about 6 large muffins or 12 regular sized muffins

Dry Ingredients:

3/4 cup all-purpose, unbleached flour

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1/3 cup milled flaxseed

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

pinch of salt

Wet Ingredients:

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/3 cup canola oil

1/2 cup skim milk

Add Ins:

3 carrots, grated

1/3 cup raisins

1/4 cup mini chocolate chips

1/2 cup wheat berries

Topping:

Unsweetened, organic flaked coconut for topping (optional)

Preheat oven to 350F. In a large bowl, add all dry ingredients and whisk to combine. In a medium bowl, lightly whisk eggs and add in the remaining wet ingredients: canola oil, milk and vanilla extract. Fold wet ingredients into dry, just until combined. Fold in add-ins until evenly moist.

Divide batter evenly into a muffin tin, sprinkle tops of muffins with a pinch of unsweetened flaked coconut and bake for 30-35 minutes.

Oven Roasted Carrot and Quinoa Salad

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Like many, I often struggle with cooking during the week when I’m also working. I’ve found that being able to do some preparation on the weekend is a big help but this still isn’t enough. As much as a planner as I am, I can’t seem to plan out more than one or two meals ahead of time.

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I know I’m not alone when it comes to letting my mood and unforeseen obstacles/commitments dictate my food choices (within reason). With all of this being said, I manage to maintain healthy, wholesome choices by keeping certain staples on hand. One of those staples is quinoa. With a combination of fiber and complete protein, it’s hard to argue with its nutritious profile.

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So the other night while I made a simple black bean and spinach quesadilla for dinner I also took the opportunity to make some quinoa. I wasn’t sure just what I would do with it for the remainder of the week but I knew that the simple step of stove top cooking is often a barrier, especially when it comes to last minute meal prep.

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With the quinoa stored in the fridge, I was able to effortlessly incorporate it into lunches and dinners, some planned and some literally tossed together.

Though the sunny afternoons are proving to bring some spring-like warmth, I was still looking for something a bit warmer to add on my plate. I accomplished this in to ways: oven roasted carrots and cheesy quinoa.

There isn’t really a recipe here, so feel free to add amounts as desired and also, substitute different types of nuts or cheese.

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Oven Roasted Carrot and Quinoa Salad

Start by washing, peeling and slicing some carrots into strips. Spray with a bit of nonstick cooking spray and roast in the oven at 400F for about 20 minutes.

In the meantime, make a nice bed of greens on your plate, I used a mix of spring mix lettuce and baby spinach. Next, microwave a desired amount of cooked quinoa for about 45 seconds. Add in cheese (I used Gorgonzola), nuts (or sunflower seeds in my case), a drizzle of olive oil and honey and give half of a lemon a good squeeze in there too. Mix well and add quinoa mixture to salad greens. Toss a few of the carrot tops in there too if you wish. Top with roasted carrots. No dressing is required as the quinoa mixture brings a nice aspect of moisture. Enjoy!

Kale Chickpea Spread

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Friday night dinner at my parent’s house usually means only one thing: market sandwiches. There’s a great little store down the road called the Mystic Market (for any of you who recall my Mystic Market Hummus   obsession…)

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The menu is varied and I have yet to order a sandwich I didn’t like. But last Friday, instead of ordering a sandwich I decided to make up my own, with the help and inspiration of some blog browsing. After all, one can only order the vegetarian wrap so many times before growing tired of it. I never managed to snap a photo of my sandwich but I did document the making of the main component,  a kale chickpea spread.

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This spread is a hybrid of a white bean dip and kale pesto. It provides a nice base to a sandwich or wrap, providing both plant-based protein and some fiber, along with the goodness of antioxidant-rich kale.

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Stored in some glass jars, this spread can be ready at a moments notice to be added atop salads, spread on sandwiches, or used a nice accompaniment to chips.

Kale Chickpea Spread

Adapted from A Couple Cooks Blog

Makes about 4 cups

2 cups kale leaves

3 garlic cloves

1/3 cup walnuts

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

2 pinches salt

juice from 1/2 of a lemon

1 TBSP balsamic vinegar

1/2 cup olive oil

2 cups chickpeas (soaked and cooked or canned (rinsed and drained)

Wash and dry kale. Tear in bite sized pieces. Add garlic, kale, and walnuts to the food processor and pulse about 6 times. Add parmesan cheese, salt, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar into mix and turn food processor on. Pour in olive oil in a steady stream.

Once olive oil is added stop food processor and add chickpeas. Pulse for about 6 more times and add a bit more salt, lemon juice and/or balsamic vinegar as needed for desired texture. Enjoy!

Loaded Sweet Potato

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I’m so happy to report that this post is brought to you from a lovely sunny spot out on the deck. The patio furniture may not be out from the garage yet, but a table and wobbly bench that’s weathered the winter months will suffice.

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If there is one thing lately that brings me inner peace, I think it is knowing how to roll with the punches when it comes to the weather. The nights are chilly, threatening the ground will below freezing temperatures but most days this week were ideal spring sweater days. I’m never confident enough to venture away from the house without my jacket but I don’t need to necessarily bundle up either.

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I see no sense in harping on unfavorable weather, something so very out of our control. Instead, in case you haven’t noticed, I tend to find the good in all the days, be it dreary and damp or something so spring-like as today.

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Just a few days ago however it was gloomy and grey and I was glad I hadn’t jumped the gun and packed away my woolen scarves. The day had me rummaging in the fridge for something to bring additional warmth to my bones. Though it takes a bit of planning as baking a sweet potato can take up to an hour, the warmth and sweet smells from the oven were quite nice.

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Though today has me hoping for many more warm days ahead, another cold snap is still very possible, and so, here’s a hearty warm lunch to combat it with.

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Loaded Sweet Potato

Serves 2

4 cups of kale, torn into bite sized pieces

2 tsp olive oil

1 large or 2 small cloves garlic, minced

2 sweet potatoes

sunflower seeds, unsalted and shelled

gorgonzola cheese

Preheat the oven to 400F and pierce holes in the sweet potatoes with a fork. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and bake sweet potatoes for 45 minutes to 1 hour depending on size.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Once shimmering hot, add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Add in kale and cook until soft and slightly wilted, allowing additional cooking time for less crunch. I like mine still with a little bit of crunch so about 8 minutes works for me.

Once sweet potatoes are done baking, make a slit down the middle, lengthwise,  without cutting all the way in half. Push the ends of the sweet potato together, making an opening in the middle. Fill will kale and top with sunflower seeds and cheese.

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Bird’s Nest Beet Salad

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With hundreds of food bloggers out there, I can’t help but sometimes wonder if I’m not creative enough, original enough, interesting enough. While today’s recipe is not my own, this little glimpse into my love affair with food is.

It hasn’t always been a picture perfect love affair when it comes to my feelings about food. In high school, I knew I needed to eat more vegetables and so I would pack baby carrots and grape tomatoes in a baggie and call it good. I ate them, but I didn’t particularly enjoy them. I ate so many I now cringe at the thought of them. I ate plain chicken and plain shrimp. I knew portion control like the back of my hand, I had a great handle on my weight. But all of this did not mean I really knew or fully understood my food. Regardless, it was at this time that a match was lit and I began to develop an interest in food. I nearly watched food network nonstop.

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In college, I had a mixed bag of emotions surrounding food. Mediocre offerings in the dining hall and the lack of kitchen in a dorm room fueled resentment and frustration, a strong desire to comprehend and apply the bounty of nutrition information I was learning in classes fueled passion and appreciation. For a reason I cannot pin point, I never took a lead in the kitchen at home during these years once I said goodbye to dorm life (which was fairly soon after move-in day freshman year).

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I entered my internship, living alone for the very first time. I cooked for myself through those ten months but I wasn’t particularly creative. I had a few recipes I was comfortable with but I didn’t venture too far from them.

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They say you shouldn’t trust a skinny chef, and while I’m not sure I completely agree with this, I do feel that part of being a great dietitian includes knowing and loving food. I’m comforted in knowing that even while I’m not on the clock, I still enjoy learning about, talking about, and playing with food. These days, I rarely watch the food network for I’d rather be in the produce aisle at the grocery store dreaming up dinner menus and blog posts.

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The fact that I can now look at the markings on a beet green like a piece of artwork tells me I’ve come a long way from resentful carrot eating. I’m hoping that by making produce a very prominent part of my diet I will be able to show you that it is a beautiful and nutritious way to eat, far more so than baby carrots in a ziplock bag.

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Today’s lunch was inspired by Naturally Ella’s post on Beet and Goat Cheese Salad. Though I’ve made married goat cheese and beets as a side dish before, I hadn’t necessarily tried adding them into a salad.

With the incorporation of a few pea shoots, I’ve created a little bit of a bird’s nest for the beets. A welcoming gesture for spring

Pea shoots are a fun little find I first spotted at the farmer’s market a few weeks ago. Thought it wasn’t until I missed the farmer’s market this past week that I decided to pick some up at the grocery store. None the less, they are from a farm up in Massachusetts which is doing better than purchasing from California (no offense California, you’re just a little far away from the Connecticut shoreline). The pea shoot’s crispness and vitamin offerings of A, C, E and K are a welcome addition to my salads.

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Bird’s Nest Beet Salad

Serves 1

A handful or two or baby spinach, washed and dried

2 small to medium beets, washed (skin on) and quartered

1 TBSP maple syrup

drizzle of olive oil plus more for dressing

A handful of pea shoots

1/2 oz shelled pistachios, coarsely chopped

1 oz goat cheese

Preheat oven to 425F. Place quartered beets in a cast iron skillet and toss with maple syrup and a drizzle of olive oil. Roast for 30-45 minutes, depending on the size of your beets. Test for doneness with a fork, which should easily pierce them.

Meanwhile, assemble salad with spinach and pea shoots. Top with roasted beets, pistachios and goat cheese. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil.

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This recipe can easily be multiplied by the number of lunch/dinner guests and the beet greens can be washed, dried and stored for another recipe! Hint: Breakfast post coming soon.

Spring Cleaning With A Food Focus

I must preface this post by telling you that there will not be any recipe or craft at the end.

I’ve said it before and I’m saying it again. This time off in between jobs is such a blessing. I can’t tell you how relieved I am to not be in a tailspin over fear of the unknown and the sticky web of what-if’s. Instead, I am finding myself more excited than ever about so many different things. I’ve had the opportunity to do a bit of spring cleaning, literally in my home and figuratively in my mind.

Apologies in advance if this post appears to jump from topic to topic – just a little insight into the workings of my brain.

Once I had completed by dietetic internship, I knew I would have copious amounts of time that I had been so deprived of from September 2011 to June 2012. Studying for my RD exam was of upmost priority but certainly it could not fill my days entirely. I sat at the beach and with pen and paper in hand, and with my RD exam study guide as my writing surface, I created a list of the things I wanted to accomplish during this transitionary phase. This list included:

pass my RD exam, follow my study schedule (check.)

start a blog (check.)

hosting a get together for my fellow DI graduates (check.)

read Happier at Home (check.)

cook more (check.)

find a job (check.)

build a bird house (check.)

exercise most days of the week (check.)

 The cool thing about this list is that I accomplished all of these things in the 4 months it took me to find a job. I hadn’t allowed myself the time to worry about what if I didn’t find a job, or what if I didn’t like my job or what if I wasn’t good at my job because I was too busy accomplishing my to-do list. I think starting a blog was the item I was most apprehensive about. I love to write and I love photography but I had dreams of perfection and those dreams nearly killed by idea before it had even hatched.

Here in the final days of my second transitionary phase from per-diem to full time dietitian and I find myself creating another list. This time, a list to items to accomplish while also working. I’ve been toying around with components of this list now for weeks, but I’m finally ready to put pen to paper, or rather fingers to keyboard. I’ve decided to post my list here, for accountability purposes. I think this list will certainly fuel my future posts.

Continue to attend the farmer’s market weekly

Join a CSA

Start a square foot garden

Eat less meat/chicken

Be better about planning meals

Learn more about photography

Drink little to no alcohol

Move out of my parent’s house

Run more

Give my blog a facelift

 In my time off I’ve had the time to watch and re-visit several food documentaries. I’ve viewed with a critical and skeptical eye but I have found bits of inspiration in each one. Some of the ones I’ve viewed include: Supersize Me, King Corn, Forks over Knives, Slow Food Revolution, Food Inc, and The Weight of the Nation.

After watching these documentaries I sometimes feel helpless. For I am only one person who has little to no experience in food politics. I then remember two things: I have the opportunity to influence people about food every day that I work and I am able to chose the foods I consume and can explore food politics at any time. It usually makes me feel a bit better.

One of the personal struggles I deal with is perfectionism, food and health perfectionism specially. As a dietitian I want to make the best, healthiest, most responsible, and realistic food choices possible. My ideas of what this exactly means are always evolving. Put simply, the most prominent decision I’ve made after taking the time for a little self-reflection is that I would like to eat a little less meat and chicken and shift my dietary intake a bit closer to vegetarianism. Do I wish to become a true vegetarian? Not at this point in time.

Interestingly, a more plant based approach to my diet has been an idea I’ve been toying with for months now, but after watching some of the videos and doing a bit of research, I feel ready to embark. It was also nice to see so many other bloggers who seem to feel a similar way. This post at Naturally Ella was particularly inspiring.

Does this mean you will never see meat and/or chicken on my blog again? Not true. Does this mean I am eliminating dairy? Not a chance! Does this mean I will become a full blown animal rights advocate? Not likely. Does this mean I will try to be as creative as possible, packing fruits and veggies into every corner of this blog and my diet, and speak more to seasonal, local produce? Quite possibly yes.

You’re welcome to come along for the ride.

Pumpkin Chick Pea Patties


So this past week didn’t exactly go as planned. I’m not complaining by any means but I must say, I realized how much I rely on my planning abilities in order to make interesting breakfasts, lunches, and dinners happen and thus, posts happen. It isn’t that I don’t have post-worthy meals while I’m not blogging but it’s more of a “what do I have time to make/what ingredients are in the kitchen” which often results in repeats of tried and true recipes.

Instead of cooking, I was able to spend some time playing with my new Sigma 70-300mm zoom lens, chasing sunsets and birds. In short, I now have some incredible zooming and macro capabilities! A few initial photos to follow…

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In other news, we were unable to visit the farmer’s market this weekend, I’m three weeks in and I’ve already broken my commitment to visit on a weekly basis. Can’t be perfect all the time right? I’m hoping to make it there next weekend, and I’m also hoping that the warmer weather and advancement into spring means more variety. For anyone who is interested in finding a farmer’s market within reach of where they reside – or perhaps looking for additional markets – I highly recommend clicking here.

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Though I couldn’t bring you many posts this past week, I thought I would share lunch, and a secret with you today. My secret: I’m a little bit of a veggie burger snob. I like a lot of texture, I need substance and I need flavor. Nothing in the supermarket freezer section has ever impressed me. And so, I turn to the internet, my food processor and a bit of creativity instead.

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You would think I would have exhausted my taste buds with all the pureed pumpkin I used from September to November this past year. But after a few months on hiatus, pumpkin enters its way back into my pantry. This time, in the form of pumpkin chick pea patties.

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Pumpkin Chick Pea Patties

Adapted from Sprouted Kitchen’s Blog

Makes about 5 – 4oz patties 

Ingredients

2 cloves garlic

2 TBSP chopped, fresh parsley

1/2 cup pumpkin puree

2 TBSP olive oil

1 tsp chili powder

3/4 tsp salt

1 tsp cumin

1 cup cooked and cooled wild rice blend (or plain brown rice)

2 cups cooked and cooled chick peas (garbanzo beans)

2 TBSP ground flax seeds

1/3 cup panko bread crumbs

1-2 TBSP olive oil for cooking

Start by mincing the garlic in a food processor by pulsing a few times. Then add the parsley, pumpkin, olive oil, chili powder, salt and cumin. Pulse about 4 times more, scraping down the sides with a rubber spatula. Add the rice and 1/2 of the chick peas (1 cup) and pulse 2-3 more times. Add in ground flax and panko, pulse once or twice. Add the remaining cup of chick peas and pulse a 2 to 3 times. Do not over pulse if you are like me and like a few larger chunks of chick pea in your patty.

Form mixture into 5 patties and heat olive oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium heat. Once oil is shimmering hot, add patties, cooking as many as will comfortably fit at one time. Cook until a golden crust forms, about 2 to 3 minutes per side.

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Add to salad or whole wheat bun. Today, I had mine over a bed of arugula and pea shoots that was tossed with a bit of balsamic vinegar. Arrik put his in a tortilla left over from last night’s dinner with a bit of wasabi goat cheese, arugula salad on the side. Another great addition would be the avocado mash, used in the Farmer’s Market Lunch Week 1 post.

Side Note: This recipe comes together very quickly when you keep things like rice and beans already prepared in your refrigerator. Ready at a moments notice for inclusion in your recipes.

Fig Prosciutto Pizza with Arugula

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DSC_0144I am a bit in love with the transitionary phase I am in right now. I know I don’t often share anything overly personal here but I find no harm in doing so from time to time. Right now I have several days to my self as I await the beginning of a new job.

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It seems to be hardwired into my mind that I fight with a commotion of anxiety and excitement in my mind prior to embarking on big and new things. This time however, feels a bit different. I’m able to fill my days with baking and cooking and photography and organizing and the outdoors and all the wonderful things that keep me busy and oh, so very happy. I’m truly able to enjoy each day, for now I’ve come to know what it’s like to be without the freedom to putt around from task to task at a leisurely pace. I’ve gotten the taste of the post-college, post-internship, working life and truly enjoy it. But I’m always up for a change of pace now and then.

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For now, I can stay up just a little bit later into the evening and awake just a little bit after the sun rises in the morning. I’ve only had coffee once in the past week, awaking by the rhythm of a miniature vacation. A vacation in my own home. For some, this can be very unappealing for bills and chores and work somehow continue to creep in in a way that would be impossible if they were vacationing on some remote island. But with the absence of work, I find enjoyment in the daily tasks, knowing soon I will return to work with a brand new routine. I’m keeping busy hands and a busy mind, filling the stomachs of my family and voids of creativity I never knew I had.

Two years ago I was introduced to a friend of the family’s fig tree. A large tree, tucked into the corner of his sand and stone backyard nestled onto the barrier island of New Jersey. “Figs!” He exclaimed as he swung the back door from the basement to the backyard wide open. He plucked a fig off from a friendly branch, “try it!” he said with enthusiastic pride. I have to admit, I was more drawn to the sweet, candy-like quality of the dried figs his wife offered us from her kitchen rather than their fresh-picked counterpart.

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Since then, I’ve toyed with the idea of including dried figs into some sort of baked good or dish but I’d never actively sought out a recipe. When a recipe from a friend for fig and prosciutto pizza popped up in my inbox the other day, I couldn’t get cooking fast enough.

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Fig Prosciutto Pizza with Arugula

Recipe inspired by Ree Drummond at the Food Network and Sarah, my fellow former dietetic intern

Ingredients for the pizza crust:

1/2 tsp active dry yeast

1 cup all purpose, unbleached flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 tsp kosher salt

scant 1/4 cup olive oil, plus a bit more for the bowl

I have to admit, these amounts are estimates, I can’t be bothered to weigh and measure for pizza toppings…

Ingredients for the topping:

1 TBSP olive oil

kosher salt

about 1/2 to 3/4 cup chopped dried figs

1/2 cup water

2-3 TBSP honey

12 ounces fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced (or enough to cover the surface of the pizza)

6 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto (again, enough to cover the surface)

1 bunch washed and rinsed arugula

1/4 cup goat cheese

1 TBSP balsamic vinegar

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Directions for the crust:

Sprinkle yeast over 3/4 cup very warm water in a bowl.

In a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, add flour and salt and with the mixer on low speed, drizzle in the olive oil. Pour the water-yeast mixture and continue to mix on low speed until just combined. Transfer dough to a bowl that has been coated with olive oil. Roll the dough to for a ball that is evenly coated with the olive oil. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and allow to rise for at least one hour.

Directions for the pizza:

In a medium cast iron skillet, over medium heat, heat the water and chopped dried figs until bubbling. Add in honey and allow to reduce down to a glaze, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.

Preheat oven to 500F. Roll the pizza dough onto a lightly floured surface – I rolled the dough out onto a lightly floured pizza stone that had also been dusted with a bit of cornmeal. Once you have spread the dough into the desired width and thickness, brush surface with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.

 Spread fig glaze over surface, leaving a 1-inch crust along the edges. Place the mozzarella over the surface of the pizza. Crumble goat cheese on top. Place into the oven and bake for about 12-15 minutes.

Toss arugula with balsamic vinegar in a medium bowl.

Remove pizza from oven once cheese is bubbly and crust is golden brown and immediately drape prosciutto slices over pizza. Sprinkle arugula mixture over pizza and slice to serve.

Saturday Farmer’s Market Lunch Week Two

 


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I can’t help but be just a little bit obsessed with the signs of spring. While pulling into my driveway, I caught a glimpse of a group of determined daffodils, dancing in the sunshine, hanging out in amongst a blanket of melting snow. By the time I got inside and got my camera, the snow had melted away at their bases. I wasn’t sure whether to be happy at the sight of less snow, or a little bit disappointed to have missed an early spring photo.

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We headed back to the farmer’s market yesterday in search of some lunch inspiration. Though the selection is slightly limited this time of year, there is always some freshly baked bread to marvel at and the fingerling potatoes were too precious to pass up. With a similar plan to last week, I’m going to save the potatoes for Sunday night dinner.

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I’ve come to adore the little lady that stands beside her potatoes each week at the market. She talks about the potatoes as if they were her children, more than willing to educate a patient ear. Her male companion stands proudly beside her,. I recall this man from last year. He shared the story of apricot jam with my father and I. A story I’ll save for another day.  This week, I caught sight of  a small box of some granny smiths, “just out of cold storage” the sweet lady informed me. I was sold. I tend to only eat apples in the fall, when I am able to pick them off the tree myself. But granny smith apples are my absolute favorite.

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With that, I decided to remake a sandwich I had posted about back in September. I love including fruit in salads and sandwiches, usually dried fruit is a given, but fresh strawberries in June over a nice green salad and some poppy seed dressing is one of my ultimate favorites. An apple and ham sandwich is a close second.

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This week we chose black olive bread and although the cheese lady didn’t have any brie, the grocery store happened to be on our way home. The idea of this weekly post is to have a lunch that incorporates some goodies from the farmer’s market, I never said it could only contain those ingredients. After all, this is my quest, so I’m making the rules up as I go.

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The recipe for this sandwich is pretty much at the owner’s discretion.

Apple, Ham, Brie and Arugula Open Faced Sandwich on Black Olive Bread

1 slice of your choice of artisan bread (farmer’s market find #1), placed on a parchment lined baking sheet, then placed under the broil for 1-2 minutes until slightly toasted. Spread with a bit of dijon mustard.

Gently heat a few slices of deli honey ham in a cast iron skillet or medium heat. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate so absorb some of the moisture. Lay slices on top of the bread. Top with a handful of arugula followed by a few thin slices from a granny smith apple (farmer’s market find #2).  Place two to three thin slices of brie cheese on top and place open faced sandwiches back under the broiler for another 1 to 2 minutes until brie has begun to melt but arugula has not yet wilted. Top with freshly ground black pepper.

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We ate ours along with some leftover salad.

Farewell Winter Chili

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Whether the snow came or not last evening, I still felt the need to cook up one more pot of chili for the season. A warm pot of goodbye. I have truly enjoyed this winter as I was able to explore through the eyes of a brand new camera. I’ve decided to share a few pictures I have yet to post.

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Yesterday, I thought we were going to luck out. The forecast threatened nearly 10 inches of snow and there wasn’t a single flurry flying yesterday. The skies looked like they could give way any minute, but they had not. And as I crawled into bed a few flakes drifted around but it was minimal.

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I didn’t have to work today so I wasn’t overly concerned with rechecking the forecast before bed. I assumed we had managed to escape the storm. The weekend was calling for temps steady in the 50’s and I was thrilled. We were springing ahead, a welcome change to the winter routine.

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However, I awoke to several inches with snow still coming down. I couldn’t be upset. It was too pretty and the only place I had to go was the hardware store. Ironically, today is the day I had planned to begin preparing for my spring and summer gardens. This year we’re going to try our hand at square foot gardening. I think I will incorporate some posts including updates along the way. Our garden last year was filled with some successes and some failures. This year I hope for more success.

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Whether you’re tying up snow boots or cursing at the snow outside your window, I encourage you to make up a pot of this two bean chili before another winter soup season has come and gone.

Farewell Winter Chili 

Adapted from Lisa’s Dinnertime Dish Blog

Serves about 6

1 medium red onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 lb ground beef

1 TBSP olive oil

1 – 15oz can black beans, preferably low sodium, rinsed and drained

1 – 15oz can pinto beans, preferably low sodium, rinsed and drained

1 – 28oz can, low sodium crushed tomatoes

About 1 cup shredded carrots

salt and pepper to taste

3 TBSP chili powder

1 TBSP ground cumin

1/8-1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp dried oregano

1/2-3/4 cup water

Toppings like sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, avocado as desired.

Heat olive oil in a large stock pock over medium heat. Once hot, add the ground beef, breaking it up with a spoon or spatula. Once beef has started to brown, add in chopped garlic and onion and cook until fragrant and beef is completely browned.

Add beans, carrots, tomatoes, spices, salt and pepper and stir to combine. Add in water  to desired consistency and stir well.

 Cover and simmer for at least 15 minutes. I would recommend simmering for about 45 minutes to allow for flavors to adequately develop. Serve with desired toppings.

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We also served ours with corn bread, I used the recipe from the canister of Quaker Yellow Corn Meal, cooking in a large cast iron skillet.