Thursday, June 28, 2012


  Who doesn't love a good snack? The afternoon pick-me-up is often the difference between responsibly eating a well-balanced dinner, and shoveling anything you can find in your mouth while you wait for dinner to be done. I'm often the latter and not the former as often as I would like to be, but one way to combat the type of hunger that only an immediate response can provide is to have plenty of great snacks on hand.

  Fresh fruit makes a great snack.  It's really fast and easy, and you get some sugar in a healthy way.
  Aren't these fresh Bing cherries beautiful?
 Another sweet treat I love is one you might not have eaten since you were a kid.  Yes, I'm talking about Ants on a Log.  My version gets a bit of an adult upgrade with almond butter and golden raisins (which I ALWAYS use in place of regular raisins because I think they taste better.)
  My new favorite salty snack is roasted edamame!  My first batch was plain, but I think they would taste great with dried fruit like cranberries or cherries.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees, drizzle one cup of thawed, shelled edamame with about 1 Tablespoon of oil (I used sesame), sprinkle with salt and roast!  Keep an eye on them, and stir them around every so often.  Your edamame should be roasted to perfection after about 20-22 minutes.
  Now for dessert!  Or a little sweet snack.  Another favorite is chocolate peanut butter pudding made with a 'secret' ingredient.  I wrote about it in this previous blog post.  I call these Hillbilly Parfaits, and it's based on a Weight Watchers recipe I found.  Fresh strawberries and tapioca pudding are layered in dessert cups for something that looks a lot fancier than it is, but still tastes great!
  What you need:
  • 2 cups of fresh, hulled strawberries
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 large container tapioca pudding
  Take 1 cup of the strawberries and place in a blender with the sugar.  Blend until smooth.  Combine strawberry mixture with remaining cup of strawberries.  Take 4 dessert cups and start with strawberry mixture, then add some tapioca, then more strawberry mixture.  Repeat until all four cups are filled evenly.  Refrigerate.

  The Waldo Canyon Fire has devastated our Colorado Springs community.  We are waiting for the fire to be contained further, and then the rebuilding process can begin.  Wildfires are not something that, in the humid-rich Midwest, were given much of a thought but the reality and danger have truly sunken in.
  Though we have not had to evacuate our home, the threat of possible evacuation does put things into perspective.  What do you take?  What do you leave?  As I ponder those questions, looking around the house, my heart catches at the sight of familiar and precious objects.  Yet I immediately realize that the safety and well-being of the ones I love is truly the most precious possession I have.  Funny, how the threat of having nothing can make you realize you already have everything you need.  Sending warm thoughts to you and yours.  Be safe and love each other.
 Currently reading: Un Lun Dun by China Mieville
                             On Mexican Time: A New Life in San Miguel by Tony Cohan

Saturday, June 2, 2012


A colorful variety
  The egg- sturdy orb of membrane and shell.  Until recently, my only real interest in eggs came when I needed some for a cake or when it was time to dye them around Easter.  My mom has a healthy obsession with bird eggs, and she has a wide variety tucked away in little baskets and pots throughout her house.  The eggs above are the product of a dying session using powdered Hungarian dyes.  They produce rich, beautiful colors but are pretty toxic and unsafe for little egg-dyers.  Dyed eggs make fun decorations for your house year-round.  These are displayed in a vintage gumball machine in our living room.
  Texture isn't always a deal-breaker for me when it comes to food, but when it comes to the egg our tenuous relationship is entirely founded on an unpredictability in sliminess.  At restaurants I tend to order my eggs scrambled, in hopes that there's no chance of messing them up at that point.  Lately, I've stopped ordering them altogether because I'm tired of being disappointed.
  But not so fast...I've given the egg another chance.  I fully recognize its potential to be a gut-filling, protein-packed boost of energy that can be made into something satisfying day or night.  See, the egg doesn't discriminate on time of day, and it's an equal opportunity mix-in.  My most favorite magazine, Whole Living, recently did an article with some amazing egg recipes.  I tested almost all of them besides the souffle, because well, I've just kind of given up on that sort of culinary adventure, what with the mile we are above sea level.
Hard-boiled egg with stone ground mustard and parsley
  For a quick snack that will also fill you up, try keeping some hard-boiled eggs at the ready in the fridge.  When you need an energy boost, halve and spread with stone ground mustard and fresh herbs, like tarragon or parsley.  Running the knife blade under cold water before each slice keeps the egg yolk from sticking.
Simple- Spinach, garlic, eggs
  Can't get much simpler and more delicious than fresh spinach, garlic, and eggs.  Of course, sauteing in extra virgin olive oil, adding fresh ground salt and pepper, and maybe a shred or two of Parmesan makes it extra special without the extra fuss.
Medium-boiled egg on toast with thyme and bacon

I've been experimenting with eggs and different cooking times.  The egg above is called a medium-boiled egg.  Cook for 3-4 minutes once water begins to boil.  The yolk is still runny, but the white is much firmer than a soft-boiled egg would be.  Breaking the egg over toast and sprinkling with fresh herbs is a fast, easy breakfast even when you're running late.  Which I always am!

Flatbreads with greens and eggs sunny side up
  These flatbreads are satisfying any time of day and SO versatile.  Just take whatever greens you have on hand, a bit of sliced red onion, flatbreads (can be found by the deli in the grocery store) or a pita or tortilla, and eggs.  Brush flatbread with oil, toss greens and onion in a bit of oil.  Season with salt and pepper.  After mounding on greens, place flatbreads on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and into a preheated 425 degree oven.  Bake for 5 minutes, then remove from oven and crack eggs over greens.  Bake until eggs are just set, but yolks are still runny.  For the full recipe, click here.  Not only is this delicious, but it's visually appealing as well!  

Baked eggs in roasted tomatoes
 This has become a new favorite recipe!  And really it's as simple as roasting tomatoes and then baking eggs in them.  It's great for dinner, but even better for breakfast with toast, home fries, and bacon.  Yum!

Smashed peas with mint and soft-boiled egg
  Flavors of mint and caramelized shallot combine to make this simple and special meal.  Perfect for Spring, and using up fresh mint.  Soft-boiled eggs can be eaten from the shell, though I found it difficult to do without one of those fancy egg cups.  Instead, I dumped the whole shebang on top of the peas and toast.  I don't know about you, but I like runny yolk all over everything!
Creamy polenta with artichoke hearts and poached egg
  I can't believe I never thought of this before: Luscious, creamy polenta with the warm, rich flavor of a poached egg mixed in.  This particular recipe uses marinated artichoke hearts as a topping, but sauteed greens would also be wonderful.  The key is to take the time to MAKE the polenta.  Resist the urge to buy that pre-made roll you've seen at the grocery store, buy a box of corn grits, and get stirring.  My advice: replace one cup of the water with milk, and once the polenta mixture is bubbling DO NOT, whatever you do, stop stirring.  If you stop, even for a second, you will see the mess your polenta quickly becomes.  It will stick to the pan (even if it's nonstick) and turn into a disgustingly gloppy glue-like substance that you will probably not want to eat.  So, the moral of this story?  STIR!

Bon appetit, and as always, I leave you with flowers:
Sante Fe Columbine
Currently Reading: Zeitoun by Dave Eggers
Listening To: Shoukichi Kina- Peppermint Tea House