Tag Archives: beets

Happy Hump Day 10/08/2011

10 Aug

Remember my Happy Hump Day post of a couple weeks back? Well, I liked the idea, and, given all the negative things going on in the news these days (markets crashing, troops getting killed, people rioting), I figure we can all use more excuses to smile, right? So in an effort to spread the joy, I plan to share with you things that have made me smile lately on most (if not all) Wednesdays. So here’s the list for this week.IMG_2469

Smile# 1: Pre-boiled beets. I know, I know, a little odd to be on this list, especially at the top. What can I say? I’m a nerdy locavore food blogger. But just stop and consider the happiness made possible by the convenience of having this gorgeous purple gems ready to go in your fridge. You can make this pizza in about 20 minutes.

IMG_2483Doesn’t strike your fancy? How about using the beets in a salad as part of this summer-licious salad, ready in under half an hour, perfect for those Sunday nights when you’ve got caught up in finishing the scrapbook for the trip you went on over two months ago. The gloriousness to your left is a salad of spinach, chopped mushrooms, red pepper, and onions, topped with loads of beets (minus the few chunks I ate…can’t help myself), balsamic vinaigrette and feta. Then of course you see beautiful, fresh, local sweet corn on the cob (delicious enough to be a Smile in and of itself), and a turkey sausage on a bun with mustard, sauerkraut and pickled red onions.

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Still not sold on the pre-boiled beets? Throw ‘em in an unconventional slaw, along with broccoli slaw mix, onion, a crunchy baby cucumber and some fennel. Make your dressing out of PC Blue Menu Tzatziki, Greek yogurt, white wine vinegar, salt and pepper. Thank you, pre-boiled beets, for making all of this deliciousness possible in relatively little time. All kidding aside though, I really did beets a lot more accessible if they’re pre-cooked and ready to rock.

Smile #2: An hour of FREE personal training. Yep, you read that right. My workout week got off to a great start Monday morning when, after my run and breakfast, I went to the gym for a 9 AM body sculpting class. The gym was pretty quiet, and I was the only one who showed up for class. The instructor offered me an hour of personal training, or we could still do the class…I went with the training. I told her I liked to focus on my upper body, and that’s exactly what we did! I was feelin’ the burn after in the best way. We chatted away while working my arms and abs, and before I knew it, the hour had flown by. Thanks Evelina!

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Smile # 3: The Month of August. It’s easy to get sad thinking about summer being over this time of year, but I refuse. Here’s why I love August:

  • it’s the month of my birth, and celebrations will be extended this year because it falls on the day I leave for Philly
  • speaking of Philly, I am going to HLS in only 8 days!Open-mouthed smileThis is my excited face…and I found out Monday that the opening night cocktail party is being held at a farmers’ market…SO COOL!
  • August brings the yummy produce you see above (peaches, plums and blueberries) and so much more, it makes eating so delicious
  • I’ve been able to re-connect with lots of friends this month due to time off from school, which also puts a smile on this girl’s face

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Smile# 4: Summer Sundays involving the things pictured at right. In this case, a cold drink (two Source creme caramel  yogurts blended with coffee, sugar-free caramel syrup and ice), a bowl of fresh local fruit, sunglasses, ipod with summer music playlist, sunglasses and Food Network Magazine. Not pictured, but also essential to the smiley face: lounge chair with comfy cushion and sun in the sky. Only thing that could have made it better? A little less sweat going on (TMI? Sorry.) and/or easy access to a pool. Oh well. You can’t have it all.

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Smile #5: (sort of related to #4) Local Peaches and Blueberries. They make such a delicious flavour combo, always remind me of my birthday (since both usually find their way into a birthday breakfast), and make healthy, delicious eating just SO easy. Peaches and blueberries have found their way into (among many other things)IMG_2405:

This decadently delicious peach blueberry cobbler (crisp if you want to be culinarily correct, but always a cobbler in my family) at my long weekend BBQ Fiesta.

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This beautiful breakfast (many times over, this was just one of the prettier ones), atop a breakfast thin (digging the cinnamon raisin ones I got State-side) with sweetened vanilla light ricotta. Looks like some blackberries tagged along here, with cherries on the side, and either an iced coffee or cafe mocha to drink, depending on my mood (speaking of iced coffee, I feel like I should own shares in Almond Breeze. I am tearing through that stuff!).IMG_2495

A new twist on the bubbling berry biscuit bake. This time, used brown sugar twin and added sprinkles of cinnamon and nutmeg to my fruit – peaches, blueberries and two little plums. I also used regular skim milk, not buttermilk (didn’t have any that needed to be used up). Don’t worry, I did everything else the same – right down to the vanilla ice cream and mint on top. Winking smileIMG_2494

Smile # 6: Make your own Peanut Butter Magic Shell. Check out the link from the wannabechef. I haven’t tried it yet, but doesn’t it look so fun, so good, and like it contains so many less ingredients than any other “shell” ice cream topping out there?! And I LOVE the idea of pairing it with banana soft serve. If you try it, let me know!

So, in an even greater effort to spread the happiness around, I will close every happy hump day post by asking you to share something that has made you smile lately (you can have more than one thing, you know). What has made you Smile lately?

Meat and Beet

20 Feb

I had meatballs on the brain yesterday. There are a number of possible reasons….maybe it was because we were thinking of having meatballs at our canceled Super Bowl party. Maybe it was because I made those utterly amazing meatballs last weekend for my mom’s little get together, which were part of a featured article in Food Network Magazine. Maybe it was the previous month’s cover, featuring spaghetti and meatballs. Maybe it was this tantalizing post I read on Smitten Kitchen. Are you beginning to crave meatballs? Good. Now you understand where I’m coming from. It got to the point where I was literally dreaming about meatballs during my Military Tone class at the gym yesterday (no joke)!

I had to put this craving to an end….so I brainstormed. Even though the FN Mag recipe was “light,” it was still a pretty calorie-dense dish. Then I thought, “what if I keep the meatballs and lose the mounds of pasta?” But I needed something to go with those meatballs….so I thought back to the subs. You know, until yesterday, I don’t think I’d ever actually had a meatball sub in my life….so I set about to change that.

Here’s how I made the meatballs and sauce. I started by heating 1/2 tsp of olive oil in a small sauce pan. Once hot, I added a couple of tbsp finely minced onion, one clove minced garlic and a pinch of chili flakes (note – for the small quantity of sauce I made, I think I overdid it a bit with seasoning – I’d cut back a bit next time). I stirred this around for a few minutes, then added 4 canned San Marzano tomatoes with their puree, and a few leaves chopped fresh basil and salt to taste. I reduced the heat and let it simmer, then set to work on my meatballs. I mixed 1/2 cup lean ground chicken (I had fully intended to use extra lean ground beef, but my grocery store was out) with about 1 egg white, one tbsp of panko breadcrumbs, a little minced fresh basil and parsley, minced onion, one minced garlic clove, and garlic salt and pepper. I shaped this into 4 balls, then dropped them in the sauce and cooked for 10 or 15 minutes (this part was a little scary, as I was unsure how long to cook them, and no one likes rare chicken :P…but they turned out ok). For my sub bread, I used a light pita. I filled it with the cooked meatballs and a bit of sauce, topped with a few tbsp light cheese, and broiled until melted and bubbly. I actually propped up the “sub” with a metal measuring cup and the metal container from our espresso machine (hey, it’s what I grabbed in a hurry) so the halves wouldn’t fall over and spill out their deliciousness.

On the side, you’ll notice that beet chips are back…and they’re not burnt! I made sure to watch them like a hawk this time…only cooked for 24 minutes, rotating the pans once. This time, the colour was much nicer….I actually think I slightly underbaked them…as the centres weren’t crisp on many of the chips. Oh well….I guess practice makes perfect? But the flavour was much better this time.

To round out the meal, I steamed some broccoli, kale and broccoli rabe in the microwave for 4 minutes, then added some spinach and arugula and cooked for another minute. I tossed the greens with the remaining sauce from the meatballs and a bit of balsamic vinegar (eating all those dark green veggies made me feel super-healthy)!

My overall thoughts on the meatballs (and their fulfillment of my cravings): good, but could have been better. I liked all the flavours I had in there, but I don’t think the balance was quite right. Next time I would cut back on the garlic, onion and seasonings and let the simple tomato flavour come through, I think…and maybe even sweeten it a touch to counteract the acidity? But for an off-the-cuff meatball supper, I was still pretty happy with this one.

For dessert, I made some light hot chocolate (in the adorable mug from Starbucks I bought my mom for Valentine’s Day) and had one of the double chocolate cookies I made (post to come)…this is an old recipe that I haven’t made in years…once I had one, I asked myself why it has been so long….I also had a Skinny Cow cookie dough sundae, another treat I love!

This is why I love the weekends…the chance to bake up yummy (and healthy too, I promise…at least for the cookies) treats, and spend extra time experimenting with supper.  There’s nothing like a good Saturday night Meat and Beet :). Craving meat balls now? Then do what I did….MAKE SOME!

Burnt Beet Bummer

15 Feb

Last weekend, I decided I wanted to try making beet chips. I’m not sure why….maybe it was just an innate desire to use up the beets in my fridge….I had seen/heard of them, and wanted to try them for myself. I googled “beet chip recipe” and came up with this one. I basically followed the recipe, except I did the chips on convect, on two stoneware pans.

As you can guess from the title, they got a little, um, well done. I was so sad 😦 ….I’m not sure if they cooked so much quicker than the listed cook time because the oven was on convect, or if it was because I was able to slice them super-thin (I used my Pampered Chef Ultimate Mandolin – see picture) but they were burnt after 30 or 35 minutes! I ate them anyway since I hate seeing food go to waste (not to mention the time it took to make them). They tasted burnt…the few less-well-done ones were good. I definitely want to try these again, and I will be much more careful next time!

To go with my beet chips, I enjoyed a veggie burger with a slice of melted cheese, sauteed onions and mushrooms, and mustard and ketchup. Inspired by the YUMMY secret sauce I made last week, I came up with a BBQ slaw too. The dressing was a mix of light BBQ sauce, ketchup, yellow mustard, fat free Miracle Whip, cumin, chili powder, liquid smoke, tomato paste, splenda and salt and pepper….sounds like a lot, but it was good! The veggies were diced baby carrots, celery, cabbage and green onion. Notice in the photo, I placed the few beet chips that actually retained their purple colour (instead of charring to a nice deep brownish-black) on top. 😛

My first attempt was not a success, but I’m not beet (sorry…couldn’t resist)!