June 29, 2011

Experimenting with Okra

I do not love Chinese okra. But I'm going to tell you about it anyway.

We stopped at the farmer's market on the way back from yoga at the beach (it was so fun to do it outside!). I saw this and asked the market lady what it was. The conversation went like this:

Me: What is this?
Market Lady: It's Chinese okra.
Me: How would you suggest preparing it?
Market Lady: Just like okra. ::pause while I stare at her:: So you peel off the ridges, season it, and bake it for 8 minutes. Or 25. 
Me: ::stares blankly:: Ummm...okay. Thanks!

I turned to my cousins in confusion. 8 or 25 minutes? Huh? Alli was equally confused. Kate said that the lady actually said, "Bake it for 8 minutes at 425." Oh. Right.

Mom gave us 2 eggplants from her garden to roast with the okra. They were the highlight. Not the okra. As soon as I told her we got okra, she wrinkled her nose and warned me that okra sometimes gets slimy when it's cooked. It did.

It looked like zucchini when I cut it. So far, so good.

It still looked like zucchini when I peeled it and sliced it.

I think the lady led me astray. I should've stir-fried it like I originally thought. But instead I seasoned it with salt, black pepper, and garlic powder before popping it in the oven.

We got a larger eggplant at the market, too, and I cut it in half, roasted it, and then hollowed it out. I mixed the insides with a crumbled up a slice of Angela's Ultimate Vegan Lentil Walnut Loaf. I made a loaf before we came down and froze it. It traveled well and I just reheated it in the oven while I was cooking the eggplant and okra.

Still not slimy.

Ew. It just looks nasty. The flavor was really good (very similar to zucchini), but we couldn't get over the texture.

Luckily we had the lentil walnut loaf and a nice big salad to go with it! 

June 28, 2011


I found a new fruit.

We're at the beach and when I went looking for limes at the grocery store, I found this fuzzy thing. It was only 50¢, so I decided to be adventurous.

When I brought it back to the house, the Bup cut it open for me. The sign in the store said to be careful when cutting it so that you don't hit the seed. I didn't know how big the seed was, so he thinly scored the skin. Inside, there was a clear jello-ish egg.

We kept cutting and found the small seed inside. When I researched it, I found that the seed is slightly poisonous unless it's cooked. I guess that's why the sign said not to cut it!

We ate it right away, half each. It had the consistency of a mango or jello. I couldn't quite decide. It didn't have a strong flavor like strawberries do, but it was sweet and tasted like something you should be eating at the beach.

Guess that's why they sell it here!

Coming up, a breed of okra I've never tried before, purchased at the local farmer's market.

June 27, 2011

Food & Weddings

Thursday, Friday & Saturday were celebration days for my friend from high school's wedding. She married a guy she met in college, so it was big high school & college reunion.

We went out for the bachelorette party on Thursday night with 7 girls. The wait for dinner was so long that we didn't get to the mini-golfing, but we did go for ice cream instead.

On Friday night we went to Allentown for the rehearsal and dinner. I was starving! Ashley had asked me ahead of time if I would be able to find enough to eat because their main dishes were ribs, bbq chicken, and pulled pork. I had a lot of sides and wound up with plenty to eat: macaroni, veggies with hummus, black bean dip with tortilla chips, coleslaw, a bowl of berries, and then ice cream!  Picnics can be challenging for vegetarians since there's such a focus around meat. I really appreciated that she reached out to me before hand to make sure I would be okay.

Afterwards, we met up with some other friends and went to the Allentown Brew Works for beer. The Bup got the beer in the picture. It was aged in a bourbon barrel. We had a bourbon ale in Kentucky that I loved, but this was much darker and smokier. I got a pint of the Hefeweizen, a clove and banana flavored beer. A pint was a little much...I could've used about 3/4 of a pint. It was fun to catch up and finally meet ld, the boyfriend of Jill Spills It All.

Ashley made a quilt for guests to sign as her guest book. It was simple and I loved the picture in the middle idea!

She got her gorgeous dress from a second hand shop that specializes in dresses that were personalized for people who ended up not wanting them anymore. Great deal!

It had a pretty lace-up back and a medium length train.

After the ceremony, we went down to the church's hall for the reception. Dinner was buffet style and there was a veggie lasagna option as well as fruit cups. The highlight, however, was the brownie bar!

I made 3 kinds, 2 dozen each, to contribute to the spread. The first were Mama Pea's Double Chocolate Single Chin brownies. Yum!

My second batch were Mint Brownies, which used my usual brownie recipe but I added mint sugar. I have no idea where to find it; my mom gave me a small bag that I've been dying to try. I topped the mini-brownies with Mint Truffle Hershey Kisses. Delicious!

And last but not least, my favorite, Coconut Fudge Brownies! For these, I use my basic brownie recipe, but substitute coconut oil for the fat and sprinkle coconut on top.

Coconut Fudge Brownies
Adapted from Hershey's Recipe Collection
Yield: 24 2"x2" brownies

1/3 c melted coconut oil
2/3 c applesauce
2 c sugar
2 tsp vanilla
4 flax eggs (4 T ground flax + 8 T water)
1/2 c flour
1/2 c whole wheat flour
2/3 c cocoa powder
4 T dark cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 c shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 350. Mix flax eggs and set aside to gel for 5 minutes. Spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray. Blend oil, sugar and vanilla. Add flax eggs. Beat well with a spoon. Combine dry ingredients and gradually add to wet mixture until well blended. Spread in pan. Sprinkle with shredded coconut. Bake for 35 min. or until a toothpick inserted in pan comes out clean. Cool in pan.

Coconut Fudge Brownies on FoodistaCoconut Fudge Brownies

June 23, 2011

It's New To Me

Sorry about the lack of posts this week! I'm adjusting to a new job and with that came a new schedule. And lots of iced coffee!

My days used to look like this:
5:33am  Wake up, get ready, eat breakfast
6:30am-2:30pm Work
3pm-5pm Exercise & Prep Dinner
5:30pm-ish Eat dinner
Evening stuff
9:30pm Bedtime!

Now my days are different!
6:30am Wake up, exercise, get ready, eat breakfast
8:30am-5pm Work
5:30pm Get home and figure out dinner/cook dinner/eat dinner
11pm Bedtime!

Just shifting things a few hours is going to take some getting used to.

I think in the end I'm going to like the new schedule and the new job, but I don't feel like I have as much time to be creative in the kitchen. Hopefully I adjust quickly!

We started off on Monday by grilling portobello mushroom cap sandwiches with a lemon marinade. No pictures, but I do have a recipe at the end of the post for you! These were almost as good as the Portobello Reubens!

On Tuesday, we had Creamy Tomato Soup, which we made before and just love. This time I altered it slightly by adding 1/3 cup of fresh basil. Yummy!

Last night I hit my plateau. I got home from work and crashed with a glass of wine. :-)  And then I decided that we should have salad and popcorn for dinner, so we did! It was THE BEST POPCORN I've ever had. Try it. It makes a perfect dinner.

Tonight is one of my friends from high school's bachelorette party! Then tomorrow is the rehearsal dinner, Saturday is the wedding, and Sunday we leave for a week at the beach in North Carolina. Busy, busy! I'm going to try to post while I'm away; beach pictures are always gorgeous!

Lemony Marinade
Serves 2
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 tsp olive oil
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
splash of balsalmic vinegar
pinch of Italian seasoning

Zest and juice the lemon half, combining both zest and juice in a bowl. Add remaining ingredients and whisk until combined. Brush over veggies while grilling. Be sure to coat them on both sides, repeating each time you turn over the veggies.

Lemony Marinade on FoodistaLemony Marinade

June 19, 2011

Brewery Stops

Aunt Beth came to visit! She comes from the West coast once a year and I always try to have a day off so that she, Mom, and I can spend it together.

This year we decided to try some of the local breweries. We started at Troegs, where we got the Sample Tray. It was a decent amount of beer for $7, plus we got to try one other that they were test driving.

This was the Scratch Beer of the day. It was yummy!

Aunt Beth & Mom enjoyed their samples while I took some pictures.

I loved all the windows around the room that let us see into the factory part where they were packaging the beer bottles. They only have tours on Saturdays so we just enjoyed our samples.

From lightest on around, we tasted Sunshine Pils, Pale Ale (my least fave), Dreamweaver Wheat (it reminded us of birch beer...yum!), Hopback Amber, Troegenator, Java Head Stout, and Double Bock (in center). Despite how differing our beer tastebuds are, we all agreed that our favorite was the one to the right of the center beer, the Troegenator.

I'm surprising myself each time I sample beer. The more I drink it, the more I enjoy some of the darker beers. The basket of pretzels with mustard was perfect as a palate cleanser between samples.

We had some time to kill before going to the farmer's market, so we stopped at another brewery. The Lancaster Brewing Company recently opened a restaurant in the Harrisburg area.

This was a restaurant and bar, not a brewery, but they still had all their beers on tap for customers to sample.

We split the sampler again, this time with 11 5oz. beers total. 
Strawberry Wheat - great berry taste, very refreshing
Hop Hog
Milk Stout
Amish Four Grain - the description made me think this would be perfect for horses :-)
Fest Beer: Amber Lager
Gold Star Pilsner
Celtic Rose - Mom really liked this but I wasn't a big fan
Hefe Weizen
Lancaster Lager
Country Cream Ale - I liked this a lot!

The bartender was nice enough to also let us sample the Oktoberfest, a seasonal beer. He had a case left and they were no longer offering it at the bar, so he was giving away samples.

It was fun to spend the day with my aunt and mom sampling beer!

June 17, 2011

I Want That!

Now that we got that out of the way, we can move on to what's been looking good lately. Anyone who would like to help me in this endeavor is more than welcome to! We can share the goods.

1. S'mores Cake in a Jar from Jessica - This looks so delicious. In lieu of you actually going to the trouble of making these, I'd accept bags of marshmallows. Or if you're extra ambitious, one of these.

2. Roasted Beet and Goat Cheese Quinoa from Jenna - My beets aren't going to be ready to pull for another few weeks!

3. Coconut Chai from Mama Pea - I tried this already and can't get enough! Bonus points for this drink: it actually is filling!

4. Trader Joe's - Can someone please build one of these within a 30 minute drive from my house? Thanks!

5. S'more Pancakes with Marshmallow Sauce from Andie - Are you sensing a theme here? It's summer & summer means lots of campfires and s'mores! All the better to have them for breakfast.

6. Weekend Glow Kale Salad from Angela - This looks like the perfect beach salad! Fresh and filling for a day in the sun.

7. Tempeh Taco Filling from Ashley - For that matter, I'll take the other recipes on that post, too. So creative! Tempeh is one of my new favorite foods to grill but I've never tried it like this. Anyone up for the challenge? We could work together!

8. Graham Crackers from Deb - This recipe/post is what drew me into the world of blogging, yet I still haven't made these! Something must be wrong with me. Wouldn't they be perfect with my bag of marshmallows?

I'm can't wait to try these recipes and shop at my new Trader Joe's*!

*There are no plans by Trader Joe's to actually build one in my area. I don't want to start any false rumors, I'm just hopeful.

June 14, 2011

Embracing My Foodie Self

It's true. I'm finally going to admit it in writing.

I'm a foodie. And I'm happy about it.

It was officially decided by myself and JillSpillsItAll on the Crossover Post. I'm going to embrace my foodie self!

Dinner is always on my mind. For that matter, so is breakfast.

And lunch.

And dessert.

I just can't help it. I love to cook, bake and eat.

My mom is the same way, so we love to spend the afternoon together. Give us an occasion to bake and we're there. We'll combine it with making dinner for the men in our lives.

We made a tea and biscotti basket as a prize for my cousin's bridal shower. While the biscotti was baking, we made dinner: a variation on these bean and bello burgers, grilled asparagus & pineapple slices, portobella mushroom & onion kabobs, and a big salad with strawberries.

For dessert, we had biscotti!

This is Pistachio Cranberry Biscotti after the first bake.

The other flavors were Tuscan Almond & Double Chocolate.

It's so fun to bake with my mom. And it's so fun to be a foodie!

Delving into the healthy eating world has really opened my eyes to so many new types of food. It's really what made me become a foodie. I can't wait to learn more!

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