Meatless Monday: Zucchini-Corn Fritters

Labor Day is the worst.

For me, it has always marked the end of summer. No more pool days, no more white pants, goodbye 9pm sunsets, goodbye barbeques!

I have had an epic weekend, however, which I will share pictures of tomorrow. Wine, grape stomping, college friends, Sunday Funday, Nutella…If I have to say bye to summer, I might as well send it off right…right?

These past few years, I’ve also begun to love summer produce. Tomatoes have always been one of my most hated foods…but between the months of June and September, I find myself popping fresh cherry tomatoes like candy. Every meal is accompanied by corn on the cob, and I can’t remember the last stir fry I made that didn’t involve zucchini.

Luckily for us in California we get summer produce year round! For a price 😉

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This summer, I’ve been trying to perfect the zucchini fritter. It’s such an easy Monday night meal – there’s minimal prep needed; just scoop together a bunch of veggies and fry ’em up! My ratio was always off, though…too wet, too crumbly, etc. Last week, I finally hit my sweet spot and they turned out delicious! But really, who doesn’t like fried food?

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So make these tonight, make them next week or next month, and enjoy the lingering produce of summer!

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Unfortunately I learned that taking pictures of food isn’t super easy to do with a cast on your thumb…haha.

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#epiclyblurryfoodphotos

Zucchini-Corn Fritters
loosely based on Zucchini Fritters by smitten kitchen

makes 4 fritters

1 medium zucchini
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tablespoon finely chopped basil (fresh) or 1 tsp basil (dry)
1/2 cup corn, removed from cob
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp baking powder (optional)
oil, for frying

Shred zucchini with a box grater or, if you’re smart and lazy, a grater attachment on your food processor. Place in a strainer and sprinkle salt over the shredded zucchini. Let stand for 10-15 minutes, then using a clean towel or thick paper towels, wring out all the excess water. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.

To the lump of zucchini, add salt, pepper, basil, corn, and egg and mix. Add flour and baking powder and combine until well incorporated.

Heat about a tablespoon (or more if desired) of oil over medium-medium high heat. One at a time, scoop blobs of zucchini batter into the pan. Let cook for about 3-4 minutes, or until brown, then carefully flip to the other side. Once it’s on the other side, you can flatten it out a bit so it has a fritter shape. Let cook on the other side for another 3 minutes and remove to a paper towel-lined plate. Serve immediately!

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Weekend in Photos

So this weekend turned out to be a pretty long one, folks… Whether that’s a good or bad thing, I’ll let you decide…

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I ended up taking more or less of a half day on Friday. I went in to Kaiser in the morning and learned that my dodgeball injury had resulted in a “small crack” in my thumb. Womp womp. They sent me on my way with an itty bitty finger brace and I thought I had made out pretty well…until I got a call from the NP an hour later saying that she had an actual radiologist look at the X-ray and it was worse than they thought. I headed over to another Kaiser and left 2 hours later with this monstrosity of a splint. Sad face.

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I had already planned on attending a Young Dems BBQ/pool party, but ended up focusing more on the BBQ and less on the pool. After we left the party, we headed over to the guys’ house to play drinking games with some really bad champagne.  Felt like I was in college again!

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Despite the massive splint, I went along my normal Saturday morning routine – starting with a nice run. This was my first run in 2 weeks, and my fastest 5K since my race back in March!

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I missed the Farmer’s Market last week since I was in SF with the girls, and I couldn’t believe 1) how many tomatoes there were and 2) how beautiful all the colors were! I also picked up some zinnias, which finally looked pretty and healthy enough to treat myself to 🙂

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Despite not having one of my thumbs, I made lots of stuff with my produce this weekend! A summer veggie lentil stew to bring for lunch today + tomorrow and an epic herb & veggie omelet.

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Sunday concluded with 2 trips to the mall: first to buy shoes for my cousin’s wedding (I went with the slingback peep toes on the left to pair with my yellow dress!) and later, to see an 11pm showing of The Conjuring. We had a shot of Fireball before to calm our nerves 😉 I thought the movie actually wasn’t too scary…I got way more freaked out at Paranormal Activity 1 and 2!

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I spent a loooong lunch hour today (3 hours, to be exact) following up at Kaiser. Essentially, there is a small crack in my thumb, and though nothing is out of place and by all means it should be an easy thing to heal…The crack goes all the way through to the joint and affects the cartilage. So I have to wear a cast – AGAIN. Hopefully for only 4 weeks this time. Here’s hoping all the precautions I’ve been taking since my last broken bone will make this recovery much speedier than the last! At least I got a color that will match my shoes at my cousin’s wedding! 😉

Have you ever broken a bone?

What is your favorite produce and/or flowers to spot at your Farmer’s Market?

Meatless Monday: Lemon-Basil Breakfast Hash

Told you guys I had a Meatless Monday post waiting for ya!

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And it involves mini peppers and mini potatoes…because mini is always cuter, right?

Despite the fact that I just called this dish cute, it’s actually a pretty hearty meal. Potatoes are pretty filling, but since they’re so starchy and carby, they’re not the kind of filling that will sustain you for many hours. That’s where the other components come in to save the day!

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I got really into beets this spring since my dad was growing them and they always looked so pretty at the Farmer’s Market. They stain everything, but I love their earthy taste and they are so pretty! Sweet mini bell peppers and onions add crunch, and pinto beans give this hash some bulk.

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Finish it all off with some fresh basil and a squeeze of lemon and you have yourself a perfectly light and refreshing, yet filling, summer breakfast! Or if you’re like me, you don’t really wake up until 10 or 11 on the weekend and there becomes a thin line between breakfast and lunch 🙂

I am proud to report that the basil plant I bought at the grocery store about a month ago is still alive and kickin’! However, we are currently on Day 3 of an 8 day streak of triple digit heat. 104, 107, and 106 degrees on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday…and it’s only getting hotter. So who knows if the plant will last much longer.

This quick 1-skillet dish would be great for a hot day like today (108 degrees!), but I’ve chosen instead to do the 3 Day Peel’d Juice Cleanse. I learned about it from my friend Sarah who did their traditional 5-day cleanse last month (Hi Sarah!). Consuming only juice for 3 days isn’t exactly my cup o’ tea…However, in addition to the allotted 2 juices and 1 smoothie per day, Peel’d allows you to eat as many fruits and veggies as you want: “This process isn’t about depriving yourself, but feeding yourself large amounts of foods that will nourish, support and heal you.” Olives, avocados, and nuts are also listed as ideal “snacks”…win!

I will definitely be writing a recap later in the week, but until then, I’ll just leave this here…and dream about potatoes:

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Lemon-Basil Breakfast Hash
serves 1

2 mini potatoes
1/2 small onion (about 1/2 cup)
2 mini red or orange bell peppers
1/2 medium-sized beet, cooked (I roast mine in a foil packet in the oven at 400F for about 45 minutes)
1/4-1/2 cup pinto beans, drained and rinsed
3-4 fresh basil leaves, cut into thin ribbons
juice of one lemon
salt & pepper
oil, as needed for cooking

Cut everything into similarly-sized pieces. Heat your choice of oil over medium heat in a saute pan. Add onions, stirring to coat. Let them sweat for about a minute before adding the potatoes. Again, stir to coat. Season with salt and pepper, and let cook for about 7-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Mix in bell peppers and beets and cook for another 5 minutes. Add desired amount of pinto beans and lemon juice, and cook until heated through. Remove from heat, mix in basil leaves, garnish with lemon wedge (add more lemon if you’d like) and enjoy!

Lemony Brown Rice with Spring Veggies

Seems like every season, I make some kind of rice pilaf (or quinoa, couscous, etc) with the season’s veggies. It started in the SUMMER which included zucchini, bell pepper and tomatoes.. then continued into an AUTUMN version which featured an amazing mix of walnuts, dried cranberries, caramelized onions, and rosemary. Ohhh man both were so good.

I think, however, I may have topped it.

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I am lemon-obsessed, as you all know. Braided Lemon Bread, Skinny Lemon Poppyseed Muffins…it is definitely lemon season around here. Plussssss, spring produce is finally here! Color me excited. I went to my first seasonal Farmers Market last week and zeroed in on two things: peas and asparagus. It’s green central up in my fridge, folks.

So what better vehicle is there to transport those fresh, green veggies into my mouth than my favorite brown rice?

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Of course if I were really to be following tradition here, I’d be using Trader Joe’s Harvest Grain Blend. I really wanted to make this into a quinoa salad, but thought I didn’t have any… Of course right after I finished cooking this dish, I found a box of quinoa that I bought on Saturday and completely forgot about in a mostly-empty grocery bag in my living room. D’oh. Regardless, I really do like TJ’s Brown Jasmine Rice. I buy a 3 pound bag every six months or so and make it all the time.

The other players:

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Farmer’s Market asparagus is really funny lookin’. Duly noted.

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Green!

This dish gets its lemony kick from a vinaigrette I added at the end. A little bit of honey balances out the zingy lemon, and it’s so easy to make; all you need to do is add ingredients to a jar and give it a shake!

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This is my one snobbish foodie thing – I don’t use any store-bought dressings or marinades. If you have oil, vinegar, and mustard/honey in your kitchen, you will always have the makings of a delicious and cheap homemade dressing.

Mix mix mix.

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DSC_0498LEMON!

I split this batch into two tupperwares for lunch. It is about 300 calories, lots of fiber, and nearly 10 grams of protein thanks to the peas (that apparently have lots of it!).

DSC_0503I didn’t get a chance to food prep this weekend (being that I was too busy drinking tequila and playing kickball and whatnot), but luckily (unluckily?) I was feeling ill Monday and Tuesday and didn’t have an appetite for much beyond avocado toast or almond butter + toast. I made this on Tuesday night hoping I’d regain my appetite in time to eat it for lunch on Wednesday and Thursday……wish granted!

Except that my stomachache promptly got worse after eating it, so I went to the doctor and the reason my stomach was acting up was because of acid indigestion-related issues. So yesterday morning I got a strict “no caffeine-alcohol-dairy-spicy-or-acidic-foods” order from the doc. Which means one of these is still sitting in my fridge at work, waiting to be eaten.

Any takers?

Lemony Brown Rice with Spring Veggies
serves 2, or 3-4 as a side dish

1/2 cup brown rice, uncooked
1 cup chicken broth, veggie broth, or water (for cooking rice)
1/2 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
~10 asparagus spears (this was about 1/2 my bunch)
1/2 medium zucchini, about 1 cup when sliced
1 cup peas, fresh or frozen
1/2 tsp oil, or as needed for sauteing

FOR DRESSING
3 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
2 tsp oil (I used sunflower oil)
pinch of dried basil
pinch of dried thyme

Prepare brown rice according to package instructions using your choice of broth or water.

While rice is cooking, prepare veggies. Dice the onions and mince the garlic. Snap or cut off the woody ends of the asparagus then cut each spear into 3-4 bite sized pieces, shuck the peas (if using fresh ones still in the pod), and slice the zucchini into bite-sized slices.

Heat oil in saute pan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until translucent, about 2-3 minutes. Next, add asparagus, stirring to coat. Let asparagus cook for about 4 minutes. Once the asparagus starts to get tender, add zucchini slices and garlic, stirring again to combine. Cook for another couple of minutes. Add cooked rice and peas all at once, mixing everything thoroughly.

While waiting for the veggies to cook, combine dressing ingredients in a jar and shake to combine.

After peas and rice are added, let cook until everything is heated through and then add dressing, stirring well. Turn heat down to low and let everything simmer until ready to serve, being sure to not let the veggies overcook.

Would be great served with fresh crusty bread, or with chicken!

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What is your favorite season for produce?

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Week in Groceries

Calling all grocery shopping cart voyeurs!

Am I the only one who thinks it’s super interesting to see what other people buy during their grocery shopping trip? I hope not, because this post is allllll about groceries.

As I’ve mentioned before, where I shop for groceries is mostly a matter of convenience. I don’t have a car, so if the store in question is more than .5 miles away, I probably don’t shop there regularly. This is the same principle that keeps me away from Target (thank heavens) and, until Saturday, Trader Joe’s.

The funny thing is, both of these places are actually only 2 miles from my house. Could totally bike there if I wanted…but I don’t. So Safeway and Groc Out it is.

I decided to wander outside my norm this weekend. I batted my eyelashes at T-Man and asked if he’d drive me to Trader Joe’s…And I had every intention of just buying some “bulk” items at TJ’s, then biking the (gasp) 20 blocks, or 1.6 miles to get the rest of my produce at the Sunday Farmers Market bright and early the next day.

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Needless to say, the Farmer’s Market never happened.

I was really surprised at how cheap TJ’s in season produce (cauliflower, broccoli, oranges) was. Soo I piled it in.

It had been over a week since my last grocery haul, and this was a big “stock-up” trip for me, as I recently ran out of essentials like rice, quinoa, lentils, etc. Even T-Man found a couple of things he liked (he has been RAVING about their lobster ravioli that he found in the refrigerated section).

So here’s what I got:

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Produce: Cara Cara oranges, kiwis, onions, a russet potato, cauliflower, broccoli, bag of baby lettuce mix, and a bag of pre-cut kale (this stuff is amazing. So much more tender than full leaf kale)

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Bulk items & Dairy: lentils, quinoa, hybrid corn/flour tortillas, brown jasmine rice (this 3 lb bag lasts me over 6 months!), a can of beans (I already had black & garbanzo beans at home) plain Greek yogurt, flavored nonfat Greek yogurt (I tried 1 so far which wasn’t fantastic, but the price was right), and eggs.

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These are two new-to-me products I was really excited about because I’m a food nerd I’ve never spotted them at Safeway before: red lentils and quinoa! I always get green lentils, or plain old quinoa. I haven’t tried the lentils yet, but the quinoa was yummo 😀

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Miscellaneous: tortilla chips (these are DELISH), Luna bars, almond butter, chicken broth, peppermint tea, and light coconut milk

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I spent a lot of time looking through all the protein and nutrition bars, and settled on my tried and true Luna Bars. So many bars are too high in calories and fat, or don’t have enough overall nutrition for me to justify buying them. And the ones that did were all superexpensive. So Lunas it is! I haven’t tried the Chocolate-dipped Coconut or Peanut Butter Cookie before. YUM!

And my grand total (which I’m predicting will last me nearly 2 weeks) only came out to: $54.28!

I was really surprised at how little I spent for so much stuff! Lots of things (coconut milk, tea, yogurt) were actually cheaper at TJ’s than Safeway. And I probably saved a lot by avoiding the frozen/refrigerated aisle.

Also, I had another one of my famous “weird illogical theories” (dubbed so by T-Man of course :-P), I was convinced it would be cheaper to make almond butter than buy a jar.

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I quickly ditched my 1 lb, $6.99 bag of almonds for the MUCH cheaper $5.99 jar. Those almonds would have hardly made one cup of butter!

So what have I made with these groceries?

I made a vague meal plan for the week. Check it:

Breakfast: Used the plain yogurt I bought, and frozen fruit and granola I already had, to made a batch of Lindsay’s Frozen Yogurt Bars. Those bars plus my yogurt cups and Fiber One brownies will suffice for two weeks worth of breakfasts! And if I run out, there’s always oatmeal at the office. 🙂

Lunch and dinner:

Monday: burrito bowl for lunch (black beans, broccoli, hot sauce & tortilla), Kale & Broccoli pasta dish for dinner

Tuesday: leftover pasta for lunch, happy hour & drinks for dinner {I ended up having fries & wine, haha, so I supplemented it with fruit & a Luna bar!}

Wednesday: burrito bowl for lunch (with chicken this time), some kind of lentil + coconut milk dish for dinner

Thursday: lunch with a friend, leftover lentil dish for dinner after dodgeball game

Friday: Wing it! Bike home for lunch, or if not enough time, have emergency soup cup at the office. Make nice dinner with T-Man?

While this isn’t a full list of what I eat every day (there’s been at least one snack of leftover crackers + cheese from my office’s reception each day, plus dessert and other random snacks), I usually stick to a plan much like this…e.g. make dinner Monday and Wednesday, eat leftovers for lunch the next day.

Since I’m just about over my cold, my workouts have been pretty scattered. Usually, I plan my workout days first, then my meals…That way, I know to plan for protein-packed meals on workout days. This week, I’ve just been cookin’ with what I have, and supplementing my meals when I should.

Do you meal plan?

Do you create a weekly fitness plan?

Do you like Trader Joe’s, or do you like Trader Joe’s?

Organic Food Delivery Box

One week ago, a package arrived on our doorstep.

It was food. Not just food- organic food. Organic produce, to be more precise. I found a deal on LivingSocial for It’s Organic — a company that delivers fresh, local organic produce to your door once a week (or less frequently, if you prefer). My roommate and I decided to go in on the (discounted) $35 box together, and this is what we got. Some pretty standard late summer staples like melon, pears and plums (plus, an avocado and giant head of lettuce that aren’t pictured)…But also some lesser known foods as well. A couple in particular stumped me:

We got 2 rutabagas (1st photo) and a half dozen patty pan squash (2nd photo). Hmmm…

We both got to researching how to cook the suckers, and got some ideas. It was like an at-home round of Chopped! Here’s a box of secret ingredients — ready, go!

I remembered seeing patty pan squash on Anne Burrell‘s show before, but I was pretty sure she just said things like “oh little patty pan squash, you’re so cute and tiny but you don’t have much flavor or pizazz!” while playing with the squash and making it do a little cutesie dance. Then she just blitzed it into oblivion and made the squash barely recognizable or something. Upon further research, I found that a lot of people stuff them (like a bell pepper), but these were much too small to squash so I just sliced them up and sauteed them one day for a snack!

A mandolin would have come in handy right about then…

For a little bit of added flavor, I sauteed them in some of my favorite cooking-oil-that-can-also-be-used-in-your-hair: coconut oil!

My friend Ian actually made this coconut oil himself in Panama (or was it Costa Rica?) and brought a bunch back about a year ago. I’ve been slowly been using it up since then. It kicks simple sautes up a notch and is killer when melted and added to marinades — especially for fish. The squash was pretty good, but I don’t think I’ll be going out of my way to find it at the market anytime soon!

As for the rutabaga (which is basically a turnip), I decided my two options were to roast it, or mash/puree it. Because it got back up to 95 degrees this weekend, my decision was made for me: there was no way I was turning on the oven! So I boiled the rutabaga along with a carrot, added some milk and ginger, and got this:

Kind of a funny color, but it was actually really good. My mom makes carrot ginger soup every year at Christmas, so I played off those flavors and got something not half bad!

It was definitely fun cooking “out of my comfort zone” with these ingredients. Since a lot of seasonal Farmer’s Markets will be ending in the coming weeks, I may just have to sign up for a monthly shipment of fresh produce.

Are there any foods you don’t know how to cook, or that are just plain strange to you?

Farmer Fresh Fiesta Friday

There are so many wonderful things about summer. Sunshine, swimming, bright colors, barbecues, vacation, weddings…just to name a few. But since this is my first summer of living on my own out of college, I’m learning there’s another great thing about summer: all the best produce is fresh, cheap, and bountiful!

This is the weekly Certified Organic Farmer’s Market at Capitol Park next to the State Capitol (and my office). Every other week, I usually stop by and get a few things like fruit and veggies for myself, or almonds and pistachios to share at the office. Pretty much every day of the week, there is at least one Farmer’s Market going on somewhere in Downtown Sacramento!

Normally I only need to stop by every other week, though, because I have another farmer supplying me: my dad! Check out how his garden looked a few weeks ago:

Doesn’t it all look great? I’ve pretty much stopped buying zucchini at the grocery store or farmer’s market because every time I go to my parents’ house, I come back with a zucchini the size of my face. No, seriously:

I have a feeling tomatoes and corn are next!

Check out some of the ways I’ve been using up all my Farmer’s Market finds:

Grilled Veggie Tacos that I showed y’all on my Day of Eats

After my Mexican Pizza recipe, I think you all know that I’m a fan of piling things on a tortilla and calling it a pizza. In lieu of refried beans, I often mash some avocado instead! Above is roasted veggies, below is steamed/sauteed (with my favorite coasters!).

Charred corny goodness.

OK this is not at all Farmers Market fresh, but I just wanted to share this tip I recently tried: add a touch of french vanilla creamer in your plain oatmeal! What?! Amazing!

Fudgey ZUCCHINI cookies from Two Peas and their Pod! The zucchini is perfectly hidden by all the chocolate!

Inspired by Edible Perspective’s Curry Zucchini Roll ups, I tried my hand at Caprese Zucchini Roll ups (they have basil, cherry tomatoes, mozzarella & a bit of avocado stuffed inside!), but kind of majorly failed. They wouldn’t stay together, but at least they tasted good!

Last night’s dinner: a kale salad with cherry tomatoes, avocado, and homemade balsamic vin all over the bowl. Kale isn’t exactly in season right now, but for some reason I keep buying it at the market…

Now, I’ve covered Farmer Fresh… Why the Fiesta in the title?

This week is Fiesta in Santa Barbara! A week of parades, carnivals, parties…….and confetti eggs.

I will use a few photos of my friends and I in 2010 as a demonstration:

They seem unassuming enough, right?

We thought so too…

But then…

…the aftermath!! (p.s. not my hair! Don’t worry, I didn’t turn into a brunette in a matter of minutes ;P)

And even though I don’t live in Santa Barbara anymore, I’m still feelin’ the Fiesta — the law firm I work for has their California headquarters in Santa Barbara, and gives all California employees a half day on “Fiesta Friday”! Ole! Have a great weekend!

Also, I’ll just leave this here.