Final Fling: End of Summer Bites

There’s still time to enjoy the best of summer, without resorting to “it’s complicated.” With flavors at their peak, keeping things simple is the best way to go.

For starters, heirloom tomatoes are worth every penny. So splurge one last time! Simply season with olive oil, salt and pepper. Or slice and serve with fresh avocado (a winter crop in summer’s clothing) or goat milk yogurt and basil.

Peaches are best undressed. While I love a good cobbler or pie, the best way to enjoy them for dessert on warm summer nights is au naturel.

For a refreshing hors d’oeuvre that takes no time, slice a cucumber and top with smoked salmon. Party bonus: The colors will pop on a buffet table.

Mixed company? The options above will make it easy for all dietary persuasions to partake!

Put an Egg on It: Frozen Fan

You can have your hash, and eat it too – without messing up the kitchen. Simply microwave a frozen meal compromised of veggies, grains and/or beans in a bowl, and then top it with a fried egg or two. I used Amy’s Organic Quinoa & Black Beans with Butternut Squash & Chard.

In no time you’ll be singing “Let it go!” to anyone who bad mouths TV dinners. (Just make sure to find one that uses all natural, wholesome ingredients.)

Goat Milk Yogurt Caprese Salad

Love a good caprese, but mozzarella got you down? Simply layer goat milk yogurt in between each slice of tomato for a creamy (but not overpowering) substitute. Finish with olive oil, fresh basil and salt & pepper to taste.

Roasted Red Pepper Dip

I’ve gone a little overboard with jars of roasted red peppers and discovered three in the cupboard, beyond the two in the fridge today. So for our neighbor’s potluck, I decided to try making a roasted red pepper dip with coconut milk yogurt (a new option since goat cheese yogurt was not available), white bean hummus and goat cheese. Let’s hope the neighbors approve…

Mix two jars of roasted red peppers, a small container of hummus, 6 oz of yogurt and a small log of chevre in a food processor. Salt to taste, and serve with carrots, other veggies, or chips. Pretty easy and healthy as far as dips go!

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Garlic Gnocchi with Avocado Mash, Peas & Tomatoes

Mashed avocado has become a popular topping for toast, so I was inspired to try it as a creamy coating for pasta – specifically garlic gnocchi, along with tomatoes, peas, and olive oil.

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It’s quick too. Simply boil the water for the gnocchi, while dicing tomatoes, scooping out avocado halves prior to mashing and seasoning with salt, and prepping the peas (I used frozen). After cooking the gnocchi for a minute or less to tenderness, drain water from the pot, and stir in the avocado mash and a little olive oil with the pasta, followed by the other ingredients. Top with Parmesan.

Good Things in Small Packages: Mushroom Quinoa

I’m always on the lookout for healthy ingredients that don’t require refrigeration, or at least have a long shelf life, especially for weeknight dinners. So I was pleasantly surprised to find a $5 bag of dried Maitake mushrooms at the non-frugal Ferry Building and a bag of ready-to-cook red quinoa at a nearby market. Bingo!

First, soak the mushrooms in hot water for 15-30 minutes. Meanwhile, cook the quinoa according to instructions, and prep your ingredients of choice. I sautéed minced garlic with chopped green onions and carrots in olive oil, before stirring the mushrooms in. I added spinach directly to the pot of quinoa, and microwaved frozen peas, before pouring in the sauté mixture. For seasoning, I used a generous sprinkling of salt and a couple shakes of fish sauce.

Basically, use your imagination and enjoy guilt-free!

Beg, Borrow & Meal: Cucumber Salad

This weekend we enjoyed the summer-like weather, by noshing on a refreshing cucumber & dill salad at local watering hole, Low Brau.

Cucumber Dill Salad @ LOW BRAU

At home, I recreated a version of my own using goat milk yogurt, tomato and green onions.

Mix two large spoonfuls of yogurt with one peeled and sliced cucumber, one sliced tomato, and 3 chopped green onions. Season with salt and pepper. As easy to prepare as it sounds!

Spinach Breakfast Burrito

After indulging in some incredible NOLA cuisine, I needed a light Saturday breakfast that would bring me back to reality. Enter spinach. Specifically spinach that was set to expire that day. So I used it up in a healthy breakfast burrito…

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Just sautée a batch of fresh, washed spinach in olive oil or butter and season with salt. Crack two eggs and cook on low until set to your preferred doneness; sprinkle with salt. Pour the mixture onto a tortilla and wrap like a burrito. I had mine with goat milk yogurt for dipping.

And in case you were wondering about the aforementioned New Orleans food adventures, here’s a peek:

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Pin Real Life: Veggie Scramble

There’s Pinterest, and then there’s real life. There are farm fresh eggs and vegetable gardens, and then there are potatoes sprouting limbs and eggs about to expire. So today’s brunch creation was a marriage of fantasy and reality.

Inspired by this lovely pin, I was thrown a curve ball when I pulled some scary looking potatoes out of the cupboard. My plan B was to pull some frozen veggies out of the freezer, and go from there.

-Swirl some olive oil in a pan over medium heat, add one chopped clove of garlic
-Pour 3/4 quarters of a bag of frozen veggies, and a handful of frozen breakfast sausages into the pan and cover
-Note: Cut the sausages into slices either before they go in the pan, or after they’ve thawed a bit, like I did (PS – I really like Applegate)
-Once the veggies and sausages are cooked through, crack 4 eggs over the top, cover, and reduce heat to medium-low
-Once egg whites are opaque, remove lid, turn off heat; optionally, sprinkle with shredded cheese, diced tomatoes, or salt and pepper as desired

Part Pinterest, part real life, and totally easy!

Ladies who Lunch (at home)

The fun thing about working in an office is going out to lunch, especially when you work in a thriving foodie corner like San Francisco’s Mission district (see evidence). But working from home presents some lazy lunch temptations. Thinking about my upcoming beach vacation, I decided to trade grilled cheese for veggies…

1. Take a tortilla, spread goat cheese on it, add your veggies of choice and roll it up. I used mushrooms, avocado, tomatoes, spinach and greens. Optional: Cut into 1-inch slices so you can enjoy the pinwheels of colorful veggies and textures.

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2. Good news: you can still be lazy about lunch, and eat healthy. This Butternut Squash Ravioli with Walnuts frozen meal from Safeway is low calorie and packed with colorful veggies. The sauce is really good too! If you’re like me and prefer not to microwave plastic, then you can remove the frozen block, put it on a plate and cover it with a bowl. Just decrease the microwave time slightly.

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