transition phase

Yesterday was all about fall.  And—if this is at all possible—I’ve become even more excited about its upcoming appearance, after reading all of your ‘fall-filled’ comments.  Beautiful.  Absolutely beautiful.  Bring on that cool, hoodie & jeans styled weather! :D

But around here, we’re still in that silent transition phase.  That point where you’re not really sure if fall is just a tease, or if summer truly is on its last running stretch.  Days that offer a little bit of summer, a little bit of fall.  I like to think that this phase gives us the best of both seasons, all in one day.

With today being Labor Day and all, my family needed to celebrate.  Outdoor style.   

Any good celebration includes (1) a picnic table (or anything that allows you to eat outdoors, really…a picnic blanket would do just fine :D ).

(2) A grill to cook off of.  And hopefully someone who knows how to cook on one.  Let me tell you right now, I am hands off when it comes to the grill.  Too little temperature control, too much a mind of its own.   Scariness!

But then again, maybe I should add ‘master the grill’ to my bucket list?

Lastly, any good celebration involves (3) family.  The more, the merrier.  My Pepere and Nicole came to join us for good food and fun conversation. 

Mom and Nicole

One of my favorite things about cookout fare in the late summer/early fall is that it’s absolutely a-okay to grill up the meats, veggies, corn, etc. on the grill, while simultaneously turning on the indoor oven. 

These babies were baked in the oven (325 to 400—temperature was increased for timing reasons ;) ) for a good 2 hrs.  Roasty.  Crispy.  Perfect. 

I went for a sweet potato version which went through this whole ooey, gooey, caramelization phase.  It was lovely. :D

Let’s talk corn.

For the full experience of enjoying corn on the cob, corn must be grilled in its husk at least a few times a year.  Yes, you can boil it for decent results.  But for that really sweet, “I can’t resist your love” type of feeling, you simply need to grill it.  Just soak the corn in the husk for about 15 minutes to prevent scorching and then throw them on the grill, rotating every so often.  It takes about 15 minutes (longer or shorter depending on your desired results.)

I chose tempeh for my protein of choice today.  I’ve never been a steak girl (I know, I know…many grill masters would cry over this fact—sorry!), but tempeh and tofu are extra nice when grilled.  Using weber’s tofu method for grilling (spray a sheet of foil, plop the tofu or tempeh on the sprayed sheet, and grill for about 10 minutes, flipping once), I first basted 1/2 the block of tempeh in some Bone Suckin’ Sauce.  The sugars in the sauce helped contribute to those nice, golden markings and rich, smoky flavor.

Delicious.

And, really, no celebration is complete without my sister’s focaccia bread.  It’s quickly becoming that secret recipe which everyone begs for at every. single. family. gathering.  Summer, fall, winter, spring.  It really doesn’t matter what the season, somehow this bread always works.  Always.

The meal was considered complete when this local, last-of-the-season watermelon was brought out for dessert. 

Sweet perfection. :D

I love the seasons’ transition phases. 

Enjoying the foods of both summer and fall.  Taking in the warmth that the summer sun still has to offer.  Enjoying a cool breeze.  Wearing a hoodie and a pair of flip flops.

*Sigh*

Life is good. :D

Time to get organized for tomorrow’s busy day at the school!! :D

Question: Did you celebrate Labor Day?

dining al fresco

My family’s form of proof that we are experiencing an exceptionally warm day:

Hot, hot, H-O-T!!

All I wanted was a chilly breakfast.

  • 1/2 c. uncooked oatmeal
  • 6-oz. plain yogurt
  • 1 c. frozen blueberries
  • toppings after mixing above together: 2 T. walnuts, 1 tsp chia seeds, 2 T. blueberry granola

This hit the spot!  I always forget to use blueberries in my breakfast, but I’m always happy for the tasty (and super healthy!) addition. :D

Along with breakfast, I even had the time for a morning 2-mile walk.  I need to make this happen more often.  It was such a lovely way to start the day, leaving me focused and energized.  I almost—almost—even forgot to grab my coffee before heading to work.  ;)

Last packed lunch for the week!

I made things easy on myself by throwing together this salad while making last night’s dinner.  They were one and the same, except for the addition of garbanzos and feta cheese which made the salad.  I love a little bit of salt on my salads, and usually that means adding a dash of sea salt.  The feta cheese is super salty though, and a little bit goes a long way.  Love it. :D

Along for the ride, there was a pink lady apple, some almonds, and a slightly overripe (but still delicious) pear.

Once again, lunch was eaten at a normal time.  Right after reading about the National School Lunch program, looking over the schools’ budget, and working some more on job descriptions, I took my cooler out and noshed away.   

And then I was off with my preceptor to meet up with a catholic school that’s trying to join in on the National School Lunch program.  It was interesting to hear all their questions, what was being offered to them, and how the lunch delivery would be arranged, etc.  The government is very, very specific about what kids can eat and what constitutes a ‘complete meal’ (not that I always agree with what they consider a “complete meal,” but that’s a different discussion for a different time ;) ) and any school that wants to be reimbursed for the meals must follow these guidelines.  It’s really interesting.

The meeting lasted until about 3′ish, my preceptor chatted with me for 15-30 minutes, and then I was on my way home for a nice, long weekend!!!!

Afternoon Snack: cottage cheese, TJ’s high fiber cereal, peanut butter

Dining al fresco tonight!

I appreciate eating at home so much more, now that many of my meals are eaten away.  There’s something so relaxing about kicking off my flip-flops, walking through the warm summer grass, sitting at the picnic table and just—mmmmm—relaxing, chatting, dining.   

I made an “everything but the____” salad for tonight’s dinner. 

Large green salad, carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes—the basics.  Topped with mashed turnips, grilled chicken seasoned with cajun and garlic, and some grilled, roasted potatoes seasoned with garlic powder, paprika, and parsley.

Twas’ delicious. :D 

With a glass of pinot grigio.  Light, fruity, summery.

I am so looking forward to having a day to just catch up on everything!  I’ve let all my emails and paperwork pile up over these past three days.  It’s going to feel so good to be organized once again. :mrgreen:

Question: Favorite salad combination?

I love…

I love starting my day with a couple of sweet, sticky dates and a sweaty 4 mile run. 

I love it when breakfast turns out oh so right. 

Chia French Toast

  • 1 whole egg + 1 egg white
  • splash of milk
  • cinnamon + nutmeg
  • 1 T. raisins
  • 1 tsp chia seeds
  • 2 slices whole wheat bread
  1. Whisk together eggs, milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, raisins and chia seeds.  Meanwhile, heat nonstick pan (sprayed with cooking spray) on medium heat.
  2. When pan is hot, dunk bread into egg mixture on both sides.  Place on hot pan.
  3. Flip once one side is golden brown.  Flip and cook the other side until brown and toasty.
  4. Top with favorite toppings—almond butter and raspberry jam are my personal faves. :D

I love salads that include all of my favorite things.

From cheesesticks to olive oil to garden fresh tomatoes.  Love.

I love it when lunch is made up of a big green salad…

…and fizz…

…and fuzz.

I love a voluminous lunch filled with nothing but summer.

I love PB&Company Bee’s Knees Peanut Butter.

I love yogurt with flax and granola.

I love peanut butter on yogurt with flax and granola.

Love.

I love visiting my Pepere and talking about his 8 ft.+ tall tomato plant.

I love laughing with him, at the way the plant peaks through the window.

I love laughing.

I love it when Pepere serves out appetizers while mom cooks the meal.

I love unsalted pretzels better then salted pretzels (?!?)

I love these little yellow bowls, filled with memories of when Memere used to serve us grandkids icecream in the morning (complete with sprinkles) after a sleep over.

Love.

I love chicken topped with garlic powder, paprika, olive oil and parsley.  Especially when grilled and served with oven roasted potatoes, ketchup and farm fresh green beans.

I love listening to Pepere share stories of his farm in Canada. 

I love eating and chatting with family.  Love.

I love my mom’s homemade blueberry pie.

What am I saying?

Everyone loves my mom’s homemade blueberry pie.

I love a cozy, relaxing, liesurely walk after dinner.

I love the fresh air.  The birds.  The company.  The way the setting sun kisses the trees, and watching them blush into a glorious orange. 

I love finding a random apple tree in the middle of a walk.

I love it when dad takes a bite of a small shiny apple.  I love that we all wait and watch his reaction before following suit.  I love that he exclaims it’s delicious.  Delicious.

I love it when we continue on our walk, leaving this simple pleasure behind for someone else to discover.

I love it when the clouds look as if they’ve been painted into the sky.  God is such an artist.

I love the end of a cool summer day.

I love the simple things of life that make me stop and smile.

Love.

Question: What are some of the things that you loved about today?

HAPPY FRIDAY!! :D

Food Stars

 In every good movie, there is a celebrity.  A star.  The main actor.  The reason you watch the movie in the first place.

Food isn’t so different.

Take breakfast, for example.  Just my standard bowl of banana ‘n’ oats, topped with granola, chia seeds, coconut…

 

 …and Trader Joe’s almond butter. 

Almond butter.  It stole the show.  I mean, everything else was delicious, and there would have been no meal without the oats, the milk, the banana.  But still.  It was all about the almond butter.

 

 Then there was lunch.

You all know I love my salads.  Whether it’s basic like this one, or filled out to the max.  Love. 

 Extra virgin olive oil.  Tomatoes and cucumbers from the garden.  Buttery white beans.

But it all came down to the cheese.  Robusto cheese, to be exact.  Full of little crystals that pop when you chew, melting into your tongue with a burst of sharp, nutty flavor.  I like to try all different types of cheese, but I’m pretty sure I could settle down and enjoy this one for the rest of my life. 

 

dessert: watermelon x2!!!

snack: grapefruit and almonds

 

 Dinner had a major role player as well, although this one was a little harder to narrow down.

Was it the brown rice cooked in vegetable broth?

The grilled zucchini, cooked with olive oil, garlic powder and pepper?

 

 Was it the grilled chicken, smothered in garlic powder, paprika, parsley, pepper, & a little olive oil?

Was it the fresh salsa, made of Trader Joe’s mild salsa and diced avocado?

 

No. 

It was the date.  The sweet, innocent medjool date that I ate for dessert.  At first glance, he doesn’t look like much.  But, you know, first appearances really aren’t everything.

Densely sweet.  Chewy.  Nature’s candy. 

Melt.  In.  Your.  Mouth.  Delicious.

Question: What were some of the “food stars” of your day?

Vacati(on) continued…

Rain droplets.  Cool breeze.  Smells of coffee eradiating from the kitchen.  Sounds of bare feet tip-tapping across the kitchen tile.

Every morning could wake me up in this exact same way.  I wouldn’t mind.  At all.

I made a quickie breakfast so that I’d have a bit of extra morning time for reading.  Same as yesterday’s combo, only with an addition of FEED apple granola and some shredded coconut.

 

Books and Coffee!!!

I’m working my way through each chapter, loving this book more and more.  I can’t even explain what it is that I love about the book.  The author’s vivid descriptions of life, emotions, adventures?  The fact that it involves a beautiful tale of the tie between boy and dog?  The adventures?  I don’t know.  Honest to goodness.  But it’s captivating and I can not put it down. 

Now let me introduce you to Mt. Tecumseh

4,003 ft.

2.5 miles to the top, 5 miles round trip

Shortest of NH’s 4,000 ft. mountains.

Short but steep.

I don’t really know what I was expecting from this mountain.  I guess I was equating “short” with “easy.”  Lesson learned.  Short does not necessarily mean easy.

The first 1/3 of the mountain was decently reasonable, but from there on, the trail took us on a direct shot to the summit.  No fooling around!  I can think of but one word to most adequately explain this trail: stairmaster. 

 

 Or maybe three: stairmaster on steroids.

What.  A.  Workout. 

 

 I packed lots of goodies to keep us fueled though…

Granola bars…

Gorp (i.e., kashi heart to heart, craisins, mixed nuts)…

Lemonade…

Oranges…

Crackers with peanut butter and jarlsberg cheese.

I ate my weight and more.  I’m always starving when I’m hiking which is a good thing.  It’s important to stay well fueled and hydrated. :D

 I loved the trail, for all its unexpected twists and turns, steep & grueling climbs, and gorgeous openings.  Stunning.

 

 View from the summit (below).

 

 Oh, and mom’s hiking boots were finally laid to rest after today’s hike.  They served her well, through countless mountains, muddy trails, rocks, medical tape and duct tape.

FYI, you never know when you might need duct tape on a hike.  Just sayin’. 

 

 Post-hiking trip, we found a nearby river to ice our legs in…

 

 I’ll  bet this was the old fashioned method used by many hikers and frontiersmen alike.  The icy water felt so delicious on my tired legs. :D

 

 Time to EAT!

I dove right into the last of the watermelon while Dad got to work on the grill.

 

 Then I moved on to a large salad, complete with the basics (i.e., cucumber, tomato, lettuce, etc.) as well as some gourmet green olives and the last of the refried beans.  No dressing required!

 

 Dad cooked up some grilled zucchini and summer squash (simply drizzle with a bit of olive oil and sprinkle liberally with garlic powder…cook directly on the grill) and Al Fresco Buffalo Chicken Sausages in a whole wheat bun.  I topped mine with sauteed green bell peppers, vidalia onions and ketchup.  Lots and lots of ketchup.

Amazing.

 

Two big ol’ scoops of Edy’s Sandwich Cookie icecream were also consumed, followed not long after with a bowl of kashi heart to heart cereal and soymilk. 

Finally full and happy.

 

 Somehow I have a feeling that tomorrow, being the last full day of our vacation, is going to involve a lot of R&R. 

Can’t wait! :D

Question: Which do you prefer: oceans, lakes, pools, or rivers? 

Tempting Tofu

Growing up, my sister was the experimental one of the family when it came to food.  She convinced my family to try whole wheat pasta.  She got me started on the obsession known as peanut butter.  And she introduced our house to tofu

My brother and I were less than happy about this intruder.  We conspired together to come up with a plan, which involved walking around the house with picket signs “we hate tofu.”  My mom, trying to be supportive and understanding for my sister’s sake, helped my sister make a batch of vegetarian stuffed shells made with silken tofu.  My brother and I still complained.  It was a trying time for my family. ;)

However, much to my brother’s horror and disgust, I sneaked in a bite of the stuffed shell.  And I liked it.  A lot. 

Over the years, tofu has quickly become a weekly meal in my house.  I love how versatile it is.  It’s a great lean protein choice, and goes well with everything from spring rolls to stirfries to sandwiches.  And now that there’s a TofuXPress in my life (thanks Richard!), pressing it doesn’t requjre a gajillion paper towels or messy plates or heavy cans. ;)

Pressed overnight and ready to go!

I sliced the block in half, and then cut it again, which formed 4 slices.  Followed by a pop in the freezer for a good 4 hours in order to give it a firmer texture.

After freezing, I dethawed it in the microwave.  Time to marinade!

I chose a Thai peanut sauce and my dad went with the Bone Suckin’ sauce.  We ended up taking one of each flavor, and I honestly have to say that the Bone Suckin’ Sauce was my favorite.  It was spicy, but only mildly.  And I could pronounce the ingredients (that’s always a good thing ;) ).  We also cooked up a portobello mushroom with some balsamic and olive oil.  Plus brown rice and a broccoli dish which deserves a name of its own (so good!)

Grilled Tofu

  1. Follow procedures of pressing, freezing and dethawing tofu (freezing is optional, but it does give a wonderful texture!)
  2. Marinade for an hour or so in your favorite sauce/marinade.
  3. Spray a sheet of foil with cooking spray.  Throw tofu on the foil and cook over medium grill heat until browned (about 5 minutes). 
  4. Flip and cook until browned on other side (about 5 more minutes

The Broccoli Dish That Deserves A Name

  • 1 head broccoli, chopped
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • garlic powder
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1/2 tomato
  • salt and pepper
  • lemon juice (a splash or so)
  1. Heat oven to 425.
  2. Mix broccoli with olive oil and a liberal amount of garlic powder.  Pour on cookie sheet and cook for 15 minutes, flipping halfway through.
  3. Meanwhile, mash together avocado, tomato, lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste and more garlic powder if desired. 
  4. When broccoli is browned to liking, combine with avocado mixture and serve.

“I never thought I would be grilling tofu on my Weber grill.”  —Dad

Me neither.

And yet we both found ourselves mmm’ing over a delicious meal of grilled tofu.  Twas a perfect meal.

Vacation is calling!  I’m off to finish up with this…

Question: Have you ever tried tofu?  Do you enjoy it?  What is your favorite way to eat it?

(as an aside, my brother is now vegetarian and doesn’t think twice about ordering tofu when he goes out to eat :mrgreen: )

Sunny Sunday

I always plan for Sunday mornings to be hectic, crazy, and “oh my goodness, where did I put my other shoe?” kind of busy.  Which is why I usually plan my breakfast ahead of time.  At least one thing has to remain calm.  Cool.  Collected.  It may as well be breakfast. ;)

The Chocolate Lover’s Breakfast Cookie

  • 1/2 c. uncooked oatmeal
  • 2 T. wheat bran
  • 1 T. Teddy Peanut Butter
  • 2 T. cocoa powder (unsweetened)
  • 1 banana, mashed (saving 1/4 for the top)

Mash, mash, mash everything together.  Don’t hold back.  The more you mash, the better it will taste.  Add in a splash of milk (or soymilk) if it’s too dry and needs the extra liquid.  Then mash some more.  Spread out on a plate and chill in the fridge overnight. 

This is best served with a cold glass of milk.  :D

So yes.  Going back to my busy Sunday morning.  I found my shoe and made it to church in one piece.  Success. ;)

Lunch

Last week, I experienced tofu in a whole new light.  I’ve always enjoyed tempeh (a fermented, cake form of tofu which has a firm, nutty texture.)  But tofu?  After one horrible, tasteless, spongy experience, I quickly turned up my nose and called it quits.  It wasn’t meant to be.  But then I tasted it after my Dad had cooked it on the grill.  *Gasp*  It was head over heels kind of love, my friends. 

I do believe that part of the secret to its firm, chewy bite and crusty exterior is in the freezing method.  I first drain the tofu, press it until most of the liquid is excreted and then pop the block (which is now cut into 4 pieces) into the freezer.  Once it dethaws for use, I press it again which leaves it much drier then before the freezing.  The dryness is what allows it to seep up all that delicious flavor from a marinade (in this case, a peanut sauce.)  Trust me on this one.  It really works.

Needless to say, lunch was Ah-mazing.  Kudos to Dad.  There was sauteed green beans and a slice of wholegrain boule with butter on the side.  Eaten at Peperes, out on the deck, while listening to stories of his childhood in Canada.  Perfect.  Everything was perfect.

Afternoon Snack!

I live the perfect distance from an icecream barn.  Close enough that I can walk there when the mood strikes, but not too close that I take advantage of it too often. ;)

We were all in the mood for an afternoon sweet today and went out for a 4-mile, round-trip stroll.  I was determined to try something new.  Break the mold!  And so I did.  Instead of ordering the usual (i.e., Oatmeal Cookie, which is is as good as it sounds) I opted for the Peanut Butter Caramel Swirl Delight.  Which was also as good as it sounds.  There were chunks of peanut butter and swirls of deep, rich caramel.  I’m still more a fan of the Oatmeal Cookie flavor, but this one ranks high on the list too. ;)

Dinner

Sunday nights are “fend for yourself” nights when we all basically scurry through the kitchen and find whatever we’re in the mood for.  But tonight was a bit different.  Our brains were all in sync and we came up with a quick and delicious taco salad creation.  Basic salad mix topped with 1/3 a can of Vegetarian Refried Beans (slightly heated), feta cheese, onions, scoop of spicy salsa, and a dollop of Voskos Organic Greek Yogurt (which, by the way, tastes very similair to sour cream.)

+ kashis for crushing on top (or you could use tortilla chips if you prefer!)

It was a delicious way to end a warm, sunny Sunday. :D

Question: What was the highlight of your Sunday?  For me, it was simply sitting out on my Pepere’s deck and talking about Canada, moose and gardening. :D

Great Grillin’!

Can I just say how much I loved hearing about your cooking memories from the last post???  They totally made me smile—each and every one.  Thanks so much for sharing those wonderful memories with everyone! :D

I’ve been on such a cold cereal kick lately!

  • 1-1/2 c. Nature’s Path Blueberry Cinnamon
  • 6-oz. plain yogurt with 2 T. crushed flax
  • 1 banana, sliced
  • scoop of Teddy peanut butter

This was so crunchy and fun to eat. :D

I’m glad my breakfast was hearty and filling, because my expected 30 minute morning bike ride turned into a 1-1/2 hr. ride around town. ;)

Dad became my biking partner, and we both were quickly sucked in to the many yard sales going on around town.  I have no idea how far we actually rode our bikes, but let’s just say that I saw more of my town then I’ve seen in a long time. ;)  When I came back, I was so thirsty and hungry, and quickly broke into the almonds and watermelon.

Lots and lots of watermelon.  I’m pretty sure that I ate my weight in watermelon today. ;)  It’s such a great (tasty!) way to rehydrate in the summer!

By the time lunch rolled around, I only wanted a cold and crunchy salad full of fresh produce.

  • mesculin greens
  • black olives
  • tomato
  • cucumber
  • carrots
  • onions, chopped
  • 1/4 avocado
  • 1 mushroom
  • 1/2 c. garbanzo beans

Salads are so satisfying in the summer.  When the temperature rises above 80 degrees, they’re pretty much my one and only craving.

On the side, I had some kashis, a slice of reduced fat sargento swiss, and a few large green olives, sliced.

+ an iced coffee! 

Nicole bought me this adorable reuseable iced coffee cup last week.  I brewed up some starbucks beans, and once the coffee was chilled, I added in about 1/2 tsp sugar and 1/2 c. plain soymilk (which adds a bit of sweetness by itself even without any added sugar.)

Afternoon Snack: 6-oz. plain yogurt + 2 T. crushed flax + 2 T. Nature’s Path Pumpkin Flax Granola

Cold + Crunchy!

For dinner, Dad was once again put to work on the grill.  He totally enjoys cooking on the family Weber.  And my mom & I totally enjoy eating whatever he cooks up.  It works.

Dad made himself and my mom a Rib Eye steak.  Not being much of a steak fan, I decided to put the tofu block that was sitting in my freezer to good use (freezing tofu gives it a whole new, chewy texture which I love!)

I marinated 1/2 of the block of tofu in a peanut sauce.  You’ll want to check the labels on store-bought peanut sauces, by the way, as many of them have MSG and other funky additives.  Look for the ingredients that you can read. ;)

Tofu is surprisingly easy to cook on the grill.  I sprayed a peice of foil with cooking spray and plopped the marinated tofu on there.  Dad flipped it once the undersides were lightly crisp and browning, about 6 minutes into the cooking. 

On the side, I had sauteed cabbage with mustard, a slice of whole wheat sourdough bread, some grilled peppers & onions and a grilled portobello mushroom smeared with deglazed balsamic vinegar and a bit of EVOO. 

Best meal of the week.  Hands down.

The tofu was so flavorful and so full of texture.  I will be making this again soon. :D  It would make an awesome wrap filling.

+ a small peice of a new dark chocolate find at whole foods (favorite dark chocolate yet…it’s full of tiny little crystals and snaps when you bite into it.) 

My sister kidnapped me for the next hour or so, and I’m so glad she did.  I always find myself laughing and smiling when we’re hanging out. :mrgreen:

Off to wrap some Father’s Day gifts and relax for the rest of the night!

Question: What is your favorite food to cook (or eat) on the grill?  Tofu is now up there on the list for me.  But I also like chicken sausages, grilled peppers and grilled peaches with a bit of balsamic vinegar!