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Monday

3

August 2020

0

COMMENTS

Nachos

Written by , Posted in Beans, Beef, Cheese, Dinner, Fruit, Gluten Free, Herbs, Kid-Friendly, Legumes, Main Dishes, Meat, Pork, Poultry, Quick and Easy, Red Sox, Snacks, Vegetables

Baseball is back. I’ve missed it, mostly. During the off season the Red Sox let Mookie and Brock get away. They’ve been favorites in our house, so it’s a little sad. I’m excited for the other guys to get to shine though. Benny, Bogaerts, Chavis, JD… they have a good offensive team.

I’ve been a baseball fan for as long as I can remember. I was a diehard Jays fan during the “Touch ’em all Joe” World Series. My brothers and I screamed and jumped so hard that the VCR fell off the TV.

Tim and I fell in love with the Red Sox in 2007. After nearly a decade of not paying much attention to baseball, we were on a fall anniversary trip and the Red Sox were in it. I started planning our outings around the playoff schedule. It was Dustin Pedroia’s rookie year. What a time to join Red Sox Nation! Dustin and Papi will forever be my all time favorites. I cried when Papi retired. If Pedroia ever plays again I’ll cry too.

It’s gonna be a weird season (#ThanksCorona). But, whatever it looks like, however short it may be, we will be cheering on the Red Sox. It’s a bit of brightness during a dark time. I like to plan fun foods to eat during the games. Things that we might eat at the ballpark: nachos, pizza, popcorn, hotdogs, fries… So if you need us for the next while, we’ll be eating all the baseball food, yelling at the TV, and texting LeBlanc about how much we love having Jerry Remy back in the booth.

Our Favorite Nachos

Ingredients

  • our favorite hot toppings: sautéed onions and bell peppers, ground meat, pinto beans, black beans
  • taco seasoning
  • salt, to taste
  • tortilla chips, lots of them
  • grated cheese, a lot, like more than you think you’ll need
  • cold toppings: sour cream, salsa, avocado or guacamole, chopped tomatoes, chives/red onions/scallions

Directions

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350°F (toaster oven please bc summer!).
  2. Cook or re-heat any hot toppings. Stir in some taco seasoning and a pinch of salt.
  3. Arrange the chips in a layer with no gaps for cheese to fall through. This is important. Sprinkle with a ton of evenly distributed cheese. Layer with more chips. Add more cheese. This is like chip lasagna. Do a third layer if you want. We usually stick to two. But, it’s 2020, nothing makes sense. Maybe we’ve been making nachos all wrong by omitting the third layer. Bake for a few minutes, check on the cheese, bake a little longer if it’s not all the way melted. You can always do more melting. You can never un-melt burnt cheese.
  4. When the nachos are perfect, take them out of the oven. Plomp them onto some plates. Top with those cooked hot toppings. Add the sour cream, salsa, avocado, tomatoes, and anything oniony. Did I forget anything? Oh! Tim likes thinly sliced black olives. I think it’s weird, but if he’s in charge I’ll eat it without complaint and will probably like it.

Friday

31

July 2020

2

COMMENTS

Beyond Arugula Salad

Written by , Posted in Dairy-Free, Fish, Fruit, Gardening, Gluten Free, Leftovers, Lunch, Main Dishes, Meat, Nuts, Quick and Easy, Vegetables

The heat of July can feel oppressive and overwhelming. I forget what it’s like to be cold. Even on the cooler days the humidity drenches us with sweat. July feels like a month to get through. But, we’re at the end of it. We did it.

August has always felt gentler, the breeze cooler and more refreshing. Less like hot breath, more like a cool caress.

The past two weekends have been hot hot hot. All fans on all the day, move as little as possible, ice cubes melt in minutes. The only good thing about it is that the tomatoes and basil like it. The arugula that I grew way too much of doesn’t seem to care either way. It survived winter, it’s thriving in summer, what doesn’t it like?!

I tried to grow Butter Lettuce. Not a single seed sprouted. What even am I doing wrong?! The thing I want to grow won’t, the thing I don’t is so abundant that it’s choking out other plants. That feels very 2020 of it.

Tim has declared that he hates arugula. I’m trying to trick myself into liking it. If I eat it often enough will I start to enjoy it? My friend, Madie, eats it from the garden while we stand six feet apart and chat in the sun.

Arugula is ok when it’s well balanced. As I was eating this salad the other day I could taste the earthiness of the beet greens, the spice from the arugula, and sharpness from the pickled onions. It was smoothed out by sweetness from raisins and balsamic vinegar, finished by smooth peppery olive oil and salty almonds. Some leftover salmon elevated it to a filling meal.

Some things are my best enjoyed on their own: chocolate ice cream, crispy bacon, cherry tomatoes still warm from the sun. They’re great as food pals, but they don’t need any help from anyone. Arugula isn’t there yet. But, Madie, I’ll always have some plain arugula growing in my garden just for you. You can have that while I enjoy my ice cream. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Arugula Salad with Raisins and Salmon

Ingredients

  • arugula, spinach, beet greens, and baby kale, torn into bite sized pieces
  • pickled onions
  • raisins
  • chopped roasted and salted almonds
  • cooked salmon (or crispy tofu)
  • olive oil
  • balsamic vinegar

Directions

  1. Toss the greens. Top with pickled onions, raisins, almonds, and salmon. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
  2. Serve with crusty bread that’s been toasted and slathered with butter and jam and a glass of rosé if you’re feeling those summer vibes.

Saturday

18

July 2020

0

COMMENTS

Feeding Myself

Written by , Posted in Burlap & Barrel, Menu Planning, Otamot, Thoughts

I notice a difference when I’m feeding myself well. For example, a couple weekends ago I didn’t eat enough, and what I did eat was a lot of empty calories. “Everything in moderation, including moderation.” (Julia Child quoting Oscar Wilde) has a place in my diet for sure. But, I feel a difference physically when I really feed myself. When I ate that way I felt bad all weekend. Physically poor, mentally and emotionally drained, zero energy for anything. Some of that might be unrelated (hello trauma, life, Covid, BLM, hormones, relationships, grief, work, stress…). But, the expression “garbage in, garbage out” seems fitting for my imbalanced food-life relationship of that weekend.

Since then, these last couple of weeks, I’ve been more mindful about what I’ve been eating. I ate things like Tofu with Cabbage and Crispy Rice, Brothy Beans on Toast with Creamy Coleslaw, and a Simple Garden Salad topped with tuna and seeds. And I feel great. The tricky part is the weekends. I’m going to try to make mostly good choices this weekend. It means doing some prep work ahead of time: washing and cutting fruit, making sure there are good options for meals, and picking greens from my garden and washing and drying them. And, remembering to show myself grace when I don’t follow my healthy eating plan perfectly. That’s ok too.

One of my goals for today is to plan our menu. It helps me to start the new week well when I have ideas in place. Here are some healthy-ish meal ideas to help with your menu planning for the coming week.

Dinners

Lunches

Breakfasts

Happy Eating!

*These are affiliate links. I get a small commission for any sales generated from these referrals.

Saturday

11

July 2020

0

COMMENTS

Pasta with Otamot

Written by , Posted in Affiliate Post, Beans, Beef, Burlap & Barrel, Dairy-Free, Dinner, Gluten Free, Kid-Friendly, Main Dishes, Meat, Otamot, Pasta, Pork, Poultry, Quick and Easy, Sauces, Sausage, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

The flavor of a tomato that’s been warmed by the sun. It’s simultaneously bright and deep, acidic, sweet, and deeply rich. The warmth of the sun mellowing its sharp acidity, turning it into a gentle escape. I know these tomatoes. I can still taste them on my tongue. A childhood memory that’s grown up.

This summer I will consider it an accomplishment if I can coax tomatoes out of what last spring was just lawn. The cherry tomatoes will be eaten out of hand. Dirt brushed off while the sun kisses our cheeks. Each tomato bursting as we bite into it. Beefsteaks will be sliced thick and served on toasted bread with a smear of mayo or a drizzle of very good olive oil, topped with fresh basil leaves and a sprinkle of Maldon salt. San Marzanos will be saved for sauce. Thick, rich, flavorful sauce that will envelop penne, luxuriate over meatballs on a sub, or gently braise meat. I love to make my own sauce. I think I’m good at it too. But, the other day I tried a sauce that gives mine some tough competition.

Otamot.

The Brooklyn based company started because the founder, Andrew Suzuka, wanted fewer battles over food with his daughter. (That’s fair.) So he created a tomato sauce that doesn’t have added sugar or preservatives and packed it with veggies and nutrients.

Tomato, carrot, red bell pepper, sweet potato, butternut squash, spinach, red beet, sweet onion, garlic, and shiitake mushroom are blended up to a thick purée that begs to have crusty garlic bread swiped through. (Have you tried Burlap & Barrel’s Purple Stripe Garlic yet?? It makes the most amazing garlic bread!)

I compared Otamot to another popular sauce brand. The other one could be fine. But, I want more than that. Otamot is a nutrient dense food that’s got 25% of your daily recommended vitamin E, 10% vitamin C, 20% vitamin A, 15% vitamin B3… Read the label. It’s really good stuff.

Sometimes I don’t have the energy to make food that’s this healthy and delicious. Or I don’t have all the ingredients on hand. Maybe it’s 5:30pm and I’m still working on a blog post and dinner needs to be quick and right now. I’m thankful that there are companies out there making truly high quality food that allows us to easily feed ourselves well.

I learned about Otamot at the virtual Yellow Co conference in June. A free jar was in our virtual goodie bag. Yes please! I used the entire jar to make a simple pasta. I’m regretting not saving some for pizza night though. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Next time I think I’ll get the Otamot Organic Mixed Sauce 4-Pack. It’s a good deal and I’d get to try all the flavors. And, youguys, Otamot is offering 10% off to my readers (code RACHO10)!

Here’s an easy dinner to make with your Otamot. Use the veggies that you have on hand. Sub any type of ground meat, or try a meat free option like cannellini beans, seitan, or vegan sausage.

Happy Eating!

Pasta with Otamot

Serves: 4

Prep: 10 minutes Cook: 15 minutes Total: 25 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 pound penne or rigatoni pasta (wheat or rice)
  • 1 pound ground beef/pork/chicken/turkey, vegan sausage, seitan, or 1 can cannellini beans (drained)
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 8 button mushrooms, chopped
  • 1-16 ounce jar Otamot (Organic Essential) sauce
  • 1 cup pasta water
  • to taste salt
  • 1 t unsalted butter or olive oil (optional)

Directions

  1. Bring salted water to a boil in a large pot.
  2. Cook your protein in a large skillet for about 3-5 minutes. Add the bell pepper, onion, and mushrooms. Cook until the veggies are tender, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes more. Add the Otamot sauce and cook until it’s bubbly.
  3. While the veggies cook, cook the pasta to just shy of al dente. Add 1 cup pasta water to the sauce before draining the pasta. Stir the pasta into the sauce and let it finish cooking. Add salt if desired. Stir in butter, if using. If not, drizzle each serving with a bit of olive oil.

Otamot and Burlap & Barrel are affiliate links. I get a small commission for any sales generated from these referrals.

Friday

3

July 2020

0

COMMENTS

Simple Garden Salad

Written by , Posted in Dairy-Free, Eggs, Gardening, Gluten Free, Herbs, Lunch, Main Dishes, Nuts, Quick and Easy, Salads, Thoughts, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

I have so much to say that I feel as though I might burst. My thoughts seem to tumble about and get muddied because there are too many to organize. I don’t know where to start.

I guess I’ll begin here. In the garden.

I feel like I should be talking about something other than plants and seeds and watering schedules. But, right now the world is showing me that there’s not a lot of joy out there. So, I’m going to share something that brings me a bit of happiness in the midst of turmoil.

I’ve been growing vegetables for years. My first garden was planted in hard-packed sandy dirt. It was at the top of the driveway of the second Central California house that Tim and I lived in during our second year of marriage. It resulted in five foot tall tomato plants with more fruit than we could eat. It was glorious.

The next garden was in raised beds set on a cement patio in our third house. That garden’s potato yield was incredible. A year or so later we moved again. This time to an apartment in Southern California. We brought a few of the garden boxes along with us and tried to grow herbs and tomatoes. They were always covered by a thin layer of soot from the nearby freeway. But, the real thwarmp that killed them was when the landlord renovated the unit above us and blew tiny paint droplets out the window and all over the garden. I was furious. I demanded to be compensated for the loss. I was. But, it didn’t fix the ruined garden. A couple of years later we moved into a house with a small front yard that served as our outdoor space. We put the garden boxes on the tiny cement patio. I was able to coax some tomatoes and basil to grow, but not much else. The next year I grew one acorn squash and some basil, but the tomatoes got blight.

We finally gave up on Burbank’s insane cost of living and moved to the East coast. Going from an almost year round growing season to one that’s about four months long has been a challenge. Last year I got three tomatoes. Total. And they were green when I picked them the day before the first frost. Green beans have grown well for me in this climate. My hope this summer is for jars and jars of dilly beans. I made some last year and they were delicious. I’d wanted to make pickles again too, but something has eaten all of my cucumber plants. Last year’s pickling cucumbers produced enough to can two quart sized jars. I can’t tell you how disappointed I am that that probably won’t happen this year.

Of all the gardens we’ve had, this one is my favorite. Last summer Tim worked so hard to build it. He cemented eight foot posts to keep the fence strong and the deer out, buried the coated chicken wire a foot deep to deter pests, and made it as perfect as I could have hoped for. This summer we’ve added solar powered lights, an umbrella that Tim found at the dump, and mulch to cover the weed mat that lined our pathways. We’ve planted sunflowers, nasturtiums, and morning glories around the perimeter of the garden. Some hanging in pots, some in the ground. I had great hopes that the English peas would grow up the sunflowers. But, the sunflowers have had a rough spring. The same thing that’s eaten my cucumbers seems to like them too.

Whether or not the cucumbers survive, the sunflowers grow, or the tomatoes produce, in the garden is one of my favorite places to be. Nature is great, from a distance. I don’t like to hike or be outdoorsy. So this little space is just perfect for me.

I don’t know if this is where we will stay for years and years. It’s been a tough place to fit in and feel like we belong. That doesn’t mean we should leave. I love lots of things about where we are. The main thing being my home with Tim and Brando. They are not specific to this place. Home is where we are together. For now, this little piece of the East coast is it. And we’ve built a glorious garden to play in during the warm months.

Yesterday I picked some greens to use in a salad for lunch. It’s so simple that it doesn’t require a recipe. Here are the basics:

Simple Garden Salad

Ingredients

  • greens (arugula, spinach, beet, baby kale)
  • fresh herbs (basil) (parsley and chives could be great too)
  • seeds (pepitas, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, flax seeds) (chopped nuts would be great too)
  • homemade dressing (olive oil, balsamic vinegar, a splash of maple syrup, dijon mustard, and salt)
  • fried eggs or crispy tofu
  • Burlap & Barrel Black Urfa Chili*
  • Maldon salt

Directions

  1. Wash the greens well. Tear into bite sized pieces.
  2. Sprinkle the greens with seeds and drizzle with dressing. Top with fried eggs or crispy tofu. I like my eggs over medium: whites cooked, yolks still runny so that they become a second dressing. Sprinkle some Black Urfa Chili* and Maldon salt on the eggs or tofu.
  3. Serve alongside last night’s reheated leftovers.

*Black Urfa Chili is an affiliate link, which means that I get a small commission for any sales generated from referrals.