tofu lettuce wraps & almond dressing

June 26, 2013 § Leave a comment

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Finger foods are one of my favorite things, especially when it allows you to look at your new engagement ring! I’m keeping this short and sweet since I am still overwhelmed and overjoyed with being engaged and everything that comes along with it.

Serves 4
Inspired by Sprouted Kitchen Spring Rolls

1 (15 oz.) package extra-firm tofu
1/4 cup sesame seeds, toasted
1 head bib lettuce
1 avocado, chopped
2 carrots, grated
5 radishes, thinly sliced

Almond Dressing
1/3 cup almond butter
2 tablespoons agave nectar
1/4 cup soy sauce
zest of 1 lime
1/4 cup lime juice
1 teaspoon Sriracha

Drain tofu and wrap with a few paper towels. Put on a plate and place another plate on top of the tofu to release the extra juices. Let sit while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

To make the dressing, whisk together the almond butter, agave, soy sauce, lime zest and juice and the Sriracha.

Rip off individual leaves of the bib lettuce and set aside. Chop up all the veggies for easy assembly. Slice tofu into 1 inch thick squares. Spread the toasted sesame seeds on a large plate and roll a couple tofu chunks in the seeds until they are lightly covered, repeat with all remaining tofu.

To assemble, grab a lettuce leave and fill with a few chunks of tofu and avocado, then sprinkle with a few slices of carrot and radish. Set on a large platter and repeat with remaining lettuce leaves.

Once they are all assembled you can drizzle each leaf with a bit of almond dressing or serve the dressing on the side for individual pouring/dipping.

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simplest orzo salad

June 18, 2013 § Leave a comment

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Last weekend was a girls’ weekend. A weekend away in Connecticut entailed a formal bridal shower in the morning and a crazy bachelorette at night. It’s wonderful to be able to see old friends and even more pleasant to be surrounded by just women for an entire day. Oh and live it up with more than one glass of wine, maybe even a shot or two. There is just this energy when you’re surrounded only by women. We nibbled on munchies, danced until we were sweaty and chatted constantly until we fell asleep.

As I get older I see this happening less and less. My daily responsibilities get in the way along with further distances. No one seems to live in the same state anymore. So it’s an indulgence to have a girls get together. It makes me feel young to not have a care all day, sipping wine and snacking on hors d’oeuvres as if life is grand.

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The funny thing is, as much as I love being away, it makes me miss home and the boy waiting for me there. It’s funny how the simple things we take for granted, that are now just a part of our routine, are things we can actually miss. I miss my little condo when I’m not in it. I miss not being in my kitchen cooking my own food. And I miss the boy on the couch with a little nook always ready for me.

I guess it’s these weekends away that show us what’s really important. And I know a big part for me is having my home and making food in it. Even just simple food like this salad. It’s usually never about showy food for me, especially at lunch time. I’m usually starving on the weekends by noon and need something quick and easy. This fits the bill quite nicely. So I am enjoying this indulgence as well; making simple, fresh food and enjoying it in my quiet home with warm company.

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Serves 2 to 3 as main or 4 as sides

3/4 cup orzo
2 1/2 cups spinach
1/2 zucchini, diced
generous amount of salt and pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons balsamic
1 teaspoon thyme
1 large garlic clove, minced

Cook orzo according to package directions.

While the orzo is cooking, combine the spinach and zucchini in a large bowl and add a decent amount of both salt and pepper. In a small bowl whisk together the olive oil, balsamic, thyme and garlic. Pour the dressing over the greens and mix well.

Once the orzo is cooked, pour cold water over the pasta while straining to release most of the heat (you want the orzo to be quite cool so that it doesn’t steam your spinach). Toss orzo into the large bowl and stir to combine everything.

Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Serve cold.

spinach & green pea rice

June 12, 2013 § Leave a comment

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The farmers markets are officially in full swing. I am lucky to have access to fresh produce that is locally grown. Every Tuesday and Thursday a bunch of local farms gather at Dewey Square with bright greens and colorful fruit all in assorted bins. And during my lunch break I mosey over and treat myself by walking through the vendors, smelling the fresh breads and roasted nuts, and indulging in some juicy fruit. I am most looking forward to peach season. I can almost taste them! But being it’s Spring the options are a bit limited. Right now there are lots of greens — lettuce, kale and spinach. I did grab a large bundle of spinach and a bunch of asparagus this past week and found them both to be crisp and flavorful.

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The markets are a great summer excuse to eat fresh and healthy. It can be hard at times to eat the right things but I find summertime is one of the easiest times to do so. My body craves sweet fruit and frozen smoothies when it’s warm and a chilled salad or cold gazpacho soup makes my mouth water.

What’s even nicer is that going to these markets makes me feel happy. Not only am I helping myself by eating organic, fresh foods, but I’m buying local and feel like my money is being spent well. Some people find farmers markets to be expensive, and they can be. You are not going to get a deal on your tomatoes or radishes, but they will taste better than anything you can buy in the supermarket. I also find that I eat less when the food is so flavorful, so I buy less and therefore don’t feel like I’m over spending. It all seems to work out.

So with so much spinach in the house right now it only seemed appropriate to make a spinach pesto. This recipe is loaded with green foods. It actually turned out to be a very beautiful, bright green dish, just popping with color and flavor.

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Serves 3
Inspired by 101 Cookbooks

1 cup arborio rice
2 1/2 cups spinach
1 large shallot
1/2 tablespoon butter
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted
juice from 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup harvati cheese, chopped
6 large basil leaves
salt and pepper
1 cup frozen green peas, defrosted

Bring 1 cup of rice, 2 cups of water and a touch of olive oil to a boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down to low and simmer covered for 20 minutes.

In a food processor combine 1 1/2 cups of spinach, shallot, butter, olive oil, almonds, lemon juice, havarti, basil and a touch of salt and pepper. Pulse until combined.

Once the rice is cooked add the spinach pesto, the rest of the spinach leaves and green peas to the pot, stir until combined. Cover for 30 seconds to get a slight steam on the spinach. Serve immediately.

george howell coffee

June 5, 2013 § Leave a comment

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When your own mother, who doesn’t even live in the same state as you, starts telling you about great coffee shops right down the road, that you’ve never heard of, you go! I’m not sure if it’s because we always have monthly t-passes into the city, or if it’s because our 1998 Honda Civic isn’t the most appealing thing to drive, or if it’s because there are so many great places to eat in Boston, but we rarely check out eateries outside the city. This one in particular was just a 10 minute drive away in the town of Newton, so close it was sad that we had missed it for so many years.

My mom had heard about George Howell Coffee on the local news. Apparently George Howell sold his original business to Starbucks and now after many years out of the spotlight, he has opened his own place. He seems to know good coffee and offers pastries, paninis and crepes as perfect accompaniments. And he does know good coffee. I guess his secret is to not blend different coffee beans. In order to get the most intense flavor, the beans should all be from the same place. We popped in one early Saturday morning, for a quick coffee to go and we picked up a pound for later.

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It only seemed appropriate when we were up in Vermont a few weekends ago to share the coffee with my parents, since we would have never discovered it without them. My parents recently celebrated their 37th Wedding Anniversary. And with the kids all home for once, we had a little breakfast with champagne, donuts and George Howell coffee. We are lucky if the whole family is in the same place at the same time, it usually only happens once a year at Christmas time. So when it does happen, we cherish it. What better way to spend our time together then lingering over sweet treats and sipping hot coffee.

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Ironically, when I purchased the pound of coffee beans I was handed a card for a free cup of coffee on my next visit. Which means, we have to go back. And this time we will be trying not only a new coffee blend but some food too.

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