Saturday, August 28, 2010

Down for the count

I have been down for the count. I am trying very hard not to dwell on the fact that our getaway to the mountains was crushed by illness. The view from my bedroom was nice, after all. And the kids got to spend an inordinate amount of solo time with their grandparents. But I missed all of the hiking, biking, and mountain lakes that past years' visits have highlighted. And there's a reason why people have children in their 20's, 30's, or 40's and not in the grandparent years...thankfully my parents could go to their regular yoga class this morning for a brief zen period this morning since I am slowly able to re-enter the world of the living.

And then there's the whole cooking aspect. For the past 10 days I haven't cooked. At all. See, we have this unwritten rule around here: I arrive with the kids, for a nice long visit...I cook, my dad does the dishes and my mom exposes the kids to her love of art. Then as a family we hike, and bike, and play in streams and rivers. Bliss. Unless I am down for the count.

So, as far as kitchen things are concerned, I am living vicariously through a few of my favorite blogs. Without recipes of my own this week, I share a few of my favorite posts with you:

I do not know how she does it, but nienie puts out a spread to welcome the school year that you have to find inspiring (even if you're like me and know you could never pull something this put together off).

Susanna, over at paper oranges, who always sources the most amazing things found this fabulous sectioned plate (and you all know I love those sectioned plates for my kid's meals).

While I'm not a baker, Kelsey's recipes over at Naptime Chef just might inspire me if the fruit is still great when we head back East. This plum torte and this apricot-blueberry cake both just look amazing, don't they?

And then there's City Mama's Weekly Meal Planning... which is the reminder that I really need to knock this out of my system because starting next week it's back to reality without special grandparents to help cook and take such good care of my kids!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Super Easy Veggie Side: Grilled Carrots with Fresh Ginger

Another super easy side that pleases both the children and adults in our home.

Grilled Carrots with Ginger

fresh ginger, grated
olive oil
kosher salt
Heat the grill to medium. Lay a piece of foil on the grate (unless you own some fancy grill pan contraption that'll keep the carrots from slipping in the cracks...). Drizzle the foil with a bit of olive oil, toss the carrots on and grate some fresh ginger on top. (I use a microplane zester, which I have linked here.) Sprinkle with a bit of kosher salt and a twist or two of pepper. Cook to your desired doneness, tossing the carrots with tongs so none of them get too brown, and the fresh ginger is mixed in. Serve warm or room temp. Delicious and so easy!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Have an abundance of blueberries? How about a crisp....

Last week, we were overrun with blueberries. The delicious result: blueberry crisp.

This was good practice for the apple crisp "factory" that is just around the corner with the start of school. Here is the basic recipe for a crisp you can whip up with any stone fruit (nectarines, peaches, plums....) or berries (blackberries, blueberries...) you may have on hand. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Simple Make-Ahead Side Dish Idea: Lentil Salad

We're on a lentil kick around here. So, in the spirit on having sides on hand to make getting dinner on the table a cinch, here's another favorite make-ahead, simple side to share with you:

Lentil Cucumber Salad

Trader Joe's Black Beluga Lentils (which come fully cooked in a baggie, or cook lentils from your own market according to the package)
English Cucumbers, diced
Fennel (bulb part only, not the leafy part), diced
Dill (fresh, or dried if you forgot to pick it up at the market...)

Lemon juice
Olive Oil
Kosher Salt

Combine the lentils, cucumber, fennel and dill in a mixing bowl. (I didn't put amounts in this recipe because you can go heavier or lighter on any of the individual ingredients, depdnding upon what you and your family like best. The one in the photo is heaviest on the fennel, and about equal on the lentils and cucumbers.)

Then, in a blender, combine the garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and salt to taste. (I like my dressings very tangy. I recommend starting with a 1:4 ratio of lemon juice to olive oil and you can always add more acid (lemon juice) or base (olive oil) until you get the taste you like best. Add salt if necessary.) Pour dressing over lentil salad and let sit in fridge for up to several days. (It gets better the longer it sits and flavors meld.)

If you're looking for more side ideas, check out the comments section of this "Raising Foodies" post. There are so many great ones!! I have a particular affinty for this fellow blogger since we seem to be on the same wavelength... my boys just dug into a scrumptious blueberry crisp we whipped up together.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Back to "everything in moderation"

They say you should never trust a skinny chef. Well, I am not quite sure who "they" is? What I do know is that it's August and I cannot blame the dryer for shrinking all of my summer clothing. This has definitely been a summer of indulgence. A lot of good food, a lot of festive drinks at the end of the day, a lot of good times. But, it's time to reign it in a bit and go back to the "everything in moderation" mantra that still lets me have fun but has me feeling way more "mom-a-licious" than I do today.

First step: loading the fridge and counter with healthy options.

Second: whipping up some tried and true recipes to have one hand like black bean salad, some roasted zucchini, making a batch of Giada's basil dressing so I can easily top grilled fish, chicken or stir it into quinoa, and sides like this wheatberry one that is hearty enough to be a vegetarian meal. If I plan to keep one or two of these recipes on hand, getting dinner on the table is a snap.

And lastly, the no brainer for most of my svelte friends but one where I seem to fall short: make time to workout. (Here's where I'd love your suggestions...since it's impractical for me to make it to a workout class until school starts I would be thrilled if you would post your favorite workout videos or home workouts in the comment section.) I've plugged it before, but think it's worth mentioning again... if you have a little one and are finding yourself in the same (um, shall we just say it: fat) predicament, then by all means, sign up for a Stroller Strides class in your town. The thought of borrowing someone's baby just to go back to these classes and feel great again has crossed my mind.