vegetable chicken wrap

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It becomes difficult to make healthy decisions when you don’t have adequate time to cook. The cheez its in the pantry and the left over mashed potatoes in the fridge are often the only food quick enough to keep you from passing out.

The past few weeks have been a little crazy while preparing for my first job since having our son which was promptly followed by a long weekend trip to Tahoe. I have needed to be quite efficient with my time while juggling an infant and a never ending to-do list, always doing my best to keep my body fueled with real, honest food. So, now that O is napping in his crib, I have been using some of that time to prepare some fast, healthy meals for times when I need to just grab something and I don’t have more than 5-10 minutes to spend in the kitchen.

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If you have some time in the evening (or during nap time), prepping the veggies ahead of time would make this wrap a two minute meal. Just warm the tortilla, slice an avocado, sprinkle on some feta, salt and pepper and you’re set. I tossed the julienned vegetables in a bit of spicy pesto, and added some roasted chicken for a square meal.  A variation of this wrap has become a staple for lunch time around here. Usually, it’s filled with whatever protein we have left over from the night before as well as the remaining bits of veggies that didn’t make it into our dinner salad.

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September 10, 2013. Tags: , , , , , . chicken, quick and easy, salads, summer, Whole Wheat. Leave a comment.

bi-rite gazpacho

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I’m a worrier, an over thinker, and I find it extremely difficult to say no. Satisfaction is fleeting, only remaining until the next model comes out or a prettier option pops up on Pinterest and if there is a phobia stemming from the fear of being left out, I’m pegged. While these personality traits may have been learned and deeply engrained into who I am, now more than ever, I’m trying to recognize when they inflict and adjust according to what is (I think) a simpler and far more pleasant way to live.

There are a million ways I could spend my free time and Pinterest and Instagram hold a significant corner on that market. For way more time than I am willing to admit, I troll through the newest products, recipes and drool worthy kitchen remodels that adorn the pages of Pinterest while flipping over to see what all my fabulously beautiful and ridiculously interesting ‘friends’ are doing in their perfectly normal lives. As you can imagine, filling my head with this type of stimulation day after day can cause this already anxiety filled girl with a serious case of ‘the grass is always greener on the other side’.

Mr. Roosevelt cut to the heart of it by declaring, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” This is an incredible truth that speaks to my heart so completely. While I won’t be able to attend every party and I will never have the body of a super model (especially after that child I grew in there!), I can rest in and be thankful for all of the immensely beautiful and tangible blessings in my life now. I have the privilege of talking to my mom every day, waking up to the most precious boy every made and I get to sleep next to my best friend each night, even if he does steal the covers. Although my life doesn’t look like the carefully curated boards on Pinterest or the beautifully filtered feeds on Instagram, it’s okay because no one’s really does. We all have dirty dishes, unkempt hair and bad breath in the morning. Most of us have extra weight we would like to lose (so we only post pictures from the shoulders up) and that kitchen remodel just keeps getting pushed back because it’s more important to take the kids to Disneyland then to have that perfect reclaimed barn wood floor you pinned last year. If you really think about it those moments that can not be pinned or instagrammed are the ones that really matter. If I were ever (God-forbid) to lose my husband, I would hate the fact that the blankets never move at night or that I would have no reason, other than good oral hygiene, to brush my teeth in the morning.

So, in an effort to live life simply, enjoying those moments only shared with those partaking in that joy face to face, I will be content there knowing that even if the grass is brown, it’s that grass that means the most and it has the most power experienced in real life, with the real souls around me. This week, cook with your loved ones, make a delicious soup and enjoy it together in that dingy old kitchen and be satisfied.

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August 18, 2013. gluten free, quick and easy, summer, vegan, vegetarian. 2 comments.

grilled sweet potato and green bean salad

grilled sweet potato and green bean salad

When we were first married, we moved to San Francisco. We fell madly in love with the city, even all the quirks like the fog and the naked men. Within the first year we started attending a church we really felt at home in and found ourselves immersed in a glorious community. Once a week we hosted a community group (part bible study, part hang out) that quickly became our favorite day of the week. We made friends that turned into family, we felt so at home. After living in SF for two years, we made the difficult decision to move to the south bay, about a 45 minute drive out of the city. Leaving (what felt like) our beating heart in San Francisco, we felt being closer to our jobs and my husband’s family would be the best thing for us as we planned to start a family. Even now, if you ask me if it was the right choice to leave the city, I don’t know that I could give you an honest answer. I want to believe moving was the right thing to do but that beating heart aches for those steep streets.

Life in the south bay is different. It’s slow and calm. Rarely do I ever hear our neighbors and there are few people who look like they are in need. Everyone is an engineer and has 2.5 kids. There are pools and backyards and strip malls. KFC, Burger King and Taco Bell are within walking distance as well as Big Lots and Lucky.  Starbucks is the closest thing to coffee and mediocre deep dish pizza fills in the gap on a desperately lazy evening. Our condo complex is like a silent secret garden with new and interesting people popping up all around us. There are four different couples in our immediate block who have children under the age of one year old. The neighbors across the way have a very friendly cat and a dog who will reluctantly warm up to you. The couple a few doors down has a little girl who will melt your heart. Less than two miles away, O has his grandpa, grandma, nana and papa. We have a group of friends we meet with on Wednesdays that have committed to navigate through life together as we all start to grow our families and learn what it means to follow Jesus within the craziness of this life.  Our condo is large with two bedrooms and two bathrooms. We even have a dishwasher.

As I watch Oliver grow and learn, smile and giggle, I realize that being close to family is important. There are all these people around who love him (and us) and want to share that with him. While San Francisco has it’s own charm (including one of my sisters), I can say I’m starting to warm up to life in the slow lane. I don’t know that my whole heart will ever be here, because I’m not convinced I can completely shake the adoration I hold for the city, but most of it feels very blessed to live where we do. To be able to make a quick dinner for nana and papa with little notice because we are lucky enough that they were literally ‘in the neighborhood’, makes me so happy. I hope that our son can grow up appreciating community like we have been fortunate enough to experience. Whether that’s in the city or the suburbs, it is integral to the satisfaction of our souls and fulfills in us something we were meant to long for. (more…)

July 26, 2013. salads, sides, summer, vegetarian. 4 comments.

shortbread cookie sandwiches with basil cream cheese

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Well, it’s been quite a year so far. As you may have noticed, I went radio silent for a good chunk of the last year. The last time we spoke, I was newly pregnant and just the thought of food made me ill. I had to un-follow a whole bunch of my favorite instagram feeds because I couldn’t bear to look at photos of food every time I scrolled through. Eventually, I returned to a somewhat normal diet, but by that time our little one was nearly here and I was just too pregnant to cook, photograph and write. Let’s just say I was on a sort of vacation where swollen feet, massive weight gain and hot pepper cravings were the selling points.

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On April 10th, we welcomed our own little prince, Oliver Elliot into the world. The past three and a half months have been an incredible adventure. He is the sole object of our affection, and I tell you, it’s hard to get stuff done while he is around. All I really want to do is snuggle and giggle all day long. Luckily, I resigned from my job two months before Oliver was born, so now I actually CAN stare at him for as long as I can keep my eyes open. I have wanted to be a mother for as long as I can remember, so having Oliver has made me feel more like myself than ever before. It’s quite strange actually, to feel more like myself now than at any other time in my life.

As any new parent can empathize, until now, we have been in a bit of a newborn fog. We have been blessed with meals from friends from time to time and have managed to make several complete meals together as a family, but for the most part, our eating has devolved into a sort of hunter gatherer type method. Whatever we have on hand is what we have generally subsisted on up to now. I have been learning what cooking looks like while taking care of a newborn who occasionally has melt downs that require me to step away from what I’m doing for unknown amounts of time. I have yet to return to meals that take several hours to prepare and require close attention. Instead, I find myself turning to simply grilled skewers, fresh salads and many bowls of plump berries consumed hurriedly in between feedings.

Slowly, I have started to bake again for special occasions and this past Monday was one of those. A very good friend of mine, who is an incredible chef, had us over for dinner. Undoubtedly we would be served a wonderfully delicious meal so I wanted to be sure to bring her a treat as a thank you. I had some cream cheese frosting in the fridge from the previous special occasion (my husbands 30th birthday) and I wanted to use it up. So, with that in mind I decided to make a sandwich cookie. It couldn’t be just any cookie though, I wanted it to fit her palate and feel like it was meant just for her. She is a savory person. She cooks, she loves salt and acidity and I’m certain her middle name is ‘seasonal’. I believe this recipe is her in a cookie.

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July 24, 2013. baking, cookie, summer. 2 comments.

roasted peaches with gluten free crisp and creme fraiche

When I plan a meal, I have several check points I go through. I want to be sure that the meal is comprised of ingredients from the current season, and that on a whole, the meal feels cohesive from start to finish. If we are having friends join us, I also try to plan a dessert of some sort. This is usually my favorite part of the meal and the item I spend the most time thinking about. I’m a self diagnosed sugar fiend, so naturally this area excites me the most.

Most often, I like to dream up desserts that have several elements and can take hours, but when we are planning a meal for the middle of the week that doesn’t always work out very well. Unless we just decide to forgo dinner altogether and serve dessert alone, I better think of something a little more speedy.

During the summer, I tend toward the natural bounty of fruit that needs little done to it, if anything at all. Fresh peaches, while amazing in cobblers and crisps, can be divine all by themselves and as far as I’m concerned, make an excellent dessert. However, roasting them for a bit and then topping them a sprinkle of crisp and a dollop of creme fraiche won’t make anyone I know turn up their nose.

There is a lesson to be learned in this recipe: dessert does not have to take hours to be awesome. I’m going to repeat that to myself: dessert does not have to take hours to be awesome. This is a great mantra for me to remember. Too often I jump right to something unnecessarily complicated. Maybe after repeating this to myself a few hundred times I’ll think more simply the next time I want to make a dessert that takes three days.

This dish is just as versatile as it is quick. You can use whatever fruit is available at your farmers market, in fact I think apricots would be delicious here, so would plums or nectarines. The crisp topping can be frozen and used to stir into yogurt or crumbled onto pies, I also think it could be a great base for a granola too. (more…)

August 12, 2012. Tags: , , , , , , . baking, dessert, fruit, gluten free, quick and easy, summer, vegetarian. 5 comments.

summer tomato tart + some exciting news!

This could turn out to be the most exciting summer of our lives. There have been so many changes around here that I don’t think our heads have stopped spinning. We have been through a whirlwind of travel and will continue to be dictated by the jet stream well into the beginning of fall. It has been such a glorious couple of months, most of which I hope to share with you sooner rather than later. For me, this time has been marked by a whole lot of soul searching and healthy doses of reality. I mentioned recently that I tend to jump right to the most extreme reaches of a situation and need to feel the pull of my tether (whom I warmly refer to as my husband). Thankfully, he keeps me grounded when the world is rushing around us.

There is actually one piece of news I would love to share with all of you, and since I tend to be a little impatient with all this good news rolling around in my head, at least this one can slip out, right? Well, come this September, I will be teaching cooking classes! This is something I am deeply looking forward to. They will be held in my home to begin with and will hopefully branch out to others homes, as well as new, inspiring venues. We will start by focusing on the basics of every day cooking and will eventually move on to more intensive subjects like tackling the always cumbersome Thanksgiving menu. My hope is that people who are not as confident as they would like to be in the kitchen will leave our home feeling well equipped in front of their own stove. Our first class will be Monday, September 10th at 6:30pm. We will be learning how to season food. Although that sounds simple, it is quite possibly your most powerful tool in the kitchen. I am always amazed by what a little salt can do.

If you are interested in taking a class, please contact me at odetogoodness@gmail.com and I will put you on the list to receive a calendar when one becomes available. Our first few classes will have limited space, so sign up soon if you’re interested. We are going to have a great time!

Now, on to this summer tomato tart. Normally, I try to avoid turning my oven on during the warm summer months. I do my best to plan meals around dishes that don’t need much cooking, or can be cooked outdoors on the grill. Our apartment has no air conditioning and it’s on the top floor. Just by putting two and two together you can imagine that equals a toasty home on really warm days. Adding the heat of a 400 degree oven usually doesn’t make it into that equation. However, I had some tart dough that was defrosted in the fridge that needed a filling, and well, there were these amazing little tomatoes at the market and raw tart dough is quite unpleasant to eat even with amazing tomatoes, so on went the oven…

This little tart comes together in no time flat as long as you have chilled tart dough ready to go. A purchased pie crust will work beautifully here as well if you don’t have any dough lingering in your fridge. If you plan ahead though, you might want to try making the crust at home. The recipe makes enough for two of these tarts, so freeze one and the next tomato tart you make will come together rather quickly.

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August 1, 2012. Tags: , , , , , , , , , . baking, quick and easy, summer, vegetarian, Whole Wheat. 18 comments.

lemonade, prosecco and basil cooler

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Hello! It’s been awhile since we last chatted, hasn’t it? I sincerely hope you’ve had a wonderful time in my absence, undoubtedly enjoying all summer has to offer. A lot has been going on in our little home, most notably, we have a new one. Well, new to us anyway. We are now the proud renters of an adorably quirky farmhouse apartment, nestled in a small grove of trees on the southern peninsula. There are so many things I love about this place. Just a few include the dashing young man I share it with (of course!), the brand-spanking-new gas range, and all of the natural light. Two of the rooms are completely lined with windows which is something that was on my list of must haves, especially coming from a basement apartment. I can not wait to get back into the groove of blogging so I can spend plenty of time in there with my camera.

The title picture to this post is the very first picture I snapped in our new sunroom using my iPhone since my digital camera was in a box somewhere between here and San Francisco. It’s fitting that it’s the first photo since it’s basically how I made it through the move. You see, we moved from a freakishly cold San Francisco summer to a real one and into an apartment with no air conditioning. So this sweet cocktail has thus far saved me from heat exhaustion and relocation-induced insanity. It’s three parts summer mixed with one part bubbly class, served with plenty of southern charm. I hope that you’ll enjoy a mason jar full of it this summer when the heat is unbeatable, and while doing so, know someone on the southern peninsula is enjoying a jar with you.

Before I get to the recipe, I’ll share with you a few images I took of some beautiful produce from Whole Foods in the new sunroom last Friday. Yep, that’s what I do on Friday nights. I party down with gorgeous produce. I’m living the life.

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lemonade, prosecco and basil
lemonade recipe from Elise at Simply Recipes
serves 12

This recipe is pretty sweet. You can dial back the sugar for the simple syrup a little to make it a bit more tart if you’d like, or you can add a little more lemon juice at the end to balance it out as well.

[One quick note about juicers: I did a significant amount of research before I bought one, and what I found was that if you have a Kitchen Aid mixer, the juicer attatchment that goes along with it, is a great deal. It’s fairly inexpensive and works like a charm. It’s also quite small so you don’t have to worry about storing another large electronic gadget somewhere. If you’re looking for a juicer and have a stand mixer already, I highly recommend it!]

Ingredients:

For Lemonade:

  • 2 cups sugar (can reduce to 3/4 cup)
  • 2 cups water (for the simple syrup)
  • 2 cups lemon juice
  • 6 to 8 cups cold water (to dilute)

For Cocktail:

  • 1 bottle Prosecco, chilled
  • 1 bunch basil, washed with stems removed

Preparation:

  1. Heat the water and sugar over medium heat until the sugar is completely dissolved. Set aside. (NOTE: This is the trick to perfect lemonade. It’s called simple syrup. It makes the lemonade sweet without having a whole cup of undissolved sugar at the bottom of your pitcher.)
  2. While the sugar is dissolving, use a juicer to extract the juice from 8-12 lemons, about 2 cups.
  3. Add the juice and simple syrup to a pitcher and dilute with cold water, using more or less depeding on desired strength. Refrigerate for 45 minutes, or until chilled.
  4. When lemonade is cold, add basil and crush against the bottom of the pitcher with a wooden spoon to extract some of the juices from the basil. Pour in prosecco and lightly stir. Serve immediately over ice, in mason jars.

July 25, 2011. quick and easy, summer. 2 comments.

peach galette

Summer is coming to an end, and while I am beyond excited for the most wonderful time of the year (I have already listened to my Frank Sinatra Holiday station on Pandora more than once. I know. I’m that girl), I always seem to feel like I didn’t get enough out of summer. There were so many strawberries I didn’t eat, and pickles that I never made. Those jars I bought, and promisedto use for fresh tomato sauce, are now holding beans and the occasional arrangement of flowers. The fresh bounty from those summer months just slips on by each year, and I always vow to be better next season. Well, this year, I tried a tiny bit harder to capitalize on the delicious, mouth watering produce that I have neglected during all those long lost summers.

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September 12, 2010. Tags: , , , , , . baking, dessert, fruit, quick and easy, summer. 7 comments.