bountiful baskets co-op & baked zucchini fries

you can never imagine how excited i was to pick up my first share of fruits and veggies from the co-op this morning.  you also might die right now when you learn that our $15 contributions bought all of this

what happens now?  

well, i get to learn how to cook with plantains and use up all this produce before it goes bad.  i have a few ideas that should (hopefully) result in posts on this here blog.  it's been awhile since i made anything too exciting or new so, i'm looking forward to what the week will bring.  for starters, i'll be making oatmeal applesauce blueberry muffins tomorrow morning breakfast.  also on the list; mango sorbet and grilled peaches with rosemary chicken.  i'm looking for a mouth watering salsa recipe to use up all those green peppers, tomatoes and onions.  anyone have one they'd be willing to pass on? (i know i have a huge readership so i'm expecting several salsa recipes in my inbox very soon).

see how overwhelmed my counter is?

earlier in the week my neighbor dropped off a basket of deliciousness from her garden so i have a lot of food to get through.  i've used some of the rosemary already in my new favorite salad and the basil became a nice pesto blend.

i've also made a couple of loaves of zucchini bread and tonight, i had baked zucchini fries for dinner with a side of marinara.  please check back this week to see the rest of my experiments.  

baked zucchini fries

3 medium zucchini,  sliced into skinny sticks (i used one massive zucchini)
2 large egg whites, beaten
1/2 cup whole wheat bread crumbs (we make our own)
2 T grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp dried basil
Pinch of dried oregano
1/4 tsp garlic powder
Salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 425°. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Set aside.
In a small bowl, beat egg whites with a fork until frothy.
Put the breadcrumbs, basil, oregano, garlic powder and cheese on a plate-I used a pie tin. Mix well.
Dip the zucchini sticks in the egg whites and then into the bread crumb mixture, make sure all sides get coated well. Place the sticks on the prepared baking sheet.  I did the sticks one by one.
Bake at 425° for about 20 minutes or until golden brown and a little crispy. I turned over the fries half way through.  Serve warm. We like to dip ours in marinara sauce.


winter fruit salad with lemon poppyseed dressing

my brother and sister in law came over the other night to hang out and i hadn't really planned much for dinner but i did have all the ingredients for this salad i had been hoping to make so i whipped it up super quick and served it with a poor version of homemade pizza.  it was really good.  i'm learning to love salad again.  there are so many yummy variations and homemade dressings are the best!  give this one a try.

winter fruit salad with lemon poppyseed dressing

Lemon Poppy Seed Vinaigrette:
1 Tbsp. honey
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. diced onion
1/4 tsp. Dijon mustard
dash of salt
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. poppy seeds

4 cups romaine lettuce
4 cups mixed greens
1/2 cup roasted cashews
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1 apple, cored and sliced
1 pear, cored and sliced

To make the vinaigrette:
1. In a blender or food processor, combine the honey, lemon juice, mustard, and salt. Process until well blended. With the motor running, add the oil in a slow, steady stream, until mixture is thick and smooth. Add poppy seeds and process just a few seconds more to mix.

To assemble the salad:
1. In a large bowl, combine the romaine and mixed greens. Top with cashews, cranberries, apple, and pear. Drizzle with vinaigrette and toss to combine. Serve immediately.

Serves 2-4.

chocolate, banana, peanut butter protein shake

another favorite post-workout shake.

chocolate banana, peanut butter protein shake
1 cup light, chocolate soy milk
1 tbsp natural peanut butter
1 scoop chocolate protein powder
1 tbsp ground flax
1 banana, the riper, the better



kid tested, mother approved {is it legal to say that?}

i'm always on the hunt for healthy "snack" options for the kids (and husband).  i'm sure you all know that this is not an easy feat.  for the most part, commercially prepared and packaged snacks are not usually all that nutritious and the ones that come close enough don't always pass the taste test.

sometimes i bring things home hoping the kids will love them only to have them turn their noses up in disgust.  however, every now and then, the opposite happens.  i put things out on the counter nonchalantly, not asking them to try anything but, their curious minds and constant desire to get away with sneaking food has proven to be an effective way for taste testing.

these two items, purchased yesterday, both passed the taste test x3 with flying colors.

both purchased from costco.  

other taste test approved snacks currently filling our pantry include items such as these:

i'll be adding to this list as i find new wonderful products to share.  in the meantime, will you share yours?  i'm still looking for hfcs free fruit snacks that won't cost me an arm and a leg. 


grilled veggie panini*

check out my new "recipe index" above.

*because i don't actually own a panini maker.  i faked it.

on friday my mom took the kids and i to corner bakery cafe for lunch.  i ordered a grilled veggie panini on whole wheat bread.  so i decided to try and recreate it for dinner tonight.  the result;  a success. 

i didn't follow a recipe, i just threw together what i had in the fridge.  the zucchini and yellow squash i'd been needing to use for a couple of days now and i'm glad i did, they were ready to become trash and i hate throwing away produce!  the only thing i didn't have was tomatoes and i really wanted roasted tomatoes (so amazing!) so i picked some up at the store today along with some fresh berries and made some fake paninis.

grilled veggie panini
2 medium zucchini, halved length wise
2 small yellow squash, halved length wise
1/2 medium yellow onion, halved for rings
12 oz cherry tomatoes, halved (or sun dried tomatoes if you don't feel like roasting ahead of time)
5-6 cloves of garlic, un-peeled
3 tbsp olive oil, divided
salt and pepper
7 oz artichoke hearts (i used water packed but marinated would have been good too)
1 tbsp pesto
1/2 cup baby spinach leaves
2-4 slices low sodium provolone cheese
4 slices whole wheat bread (thick sliced sourdough bread would be delicious!)

1. roast tomatoes by preheating oven to 375 degrees.  place halved tomatoes on a lined baking sheet with garlic cloves.  drizzle evoo over tomatoes and garlic. sprinkle with sea salt and crushed pepper.  roast for 50-60 minutes.

2. turn grill to low heat.  baste zucchini, squash and onions with 1 tbsp of the olive oil.  sprinkle with salt and pepper.  grill until soft, 3-4 minutes per side (turning once).

3.  chop all ingredients and combine in bowl. (look at those tomatoes ~ YUM!)

4. preheat grill pan or panini press over medium heat.  

5. make sandwiches: start by brushing the first slice of bread (grill side) with olive oil.  spread pesto on the first slice (bottom piece) of bread.  lay spinach on pesto then add about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of veggie mixture on top of spinach.  lay slices of cheese on top of veggie mixture then top with the last slice of bread.  brush top piece of bread lightly with olive oil.

6. grill for 4-5 minutes per side with a fake panini maker like i did (yes, i actually smashed the sandwiches flat with a stock pot)

or, follow the directions for the panini press.  i wouldn't know what they are.  did i mention i don't have one?



sunshine and salad!

a few days ago my cousin gwen said some nice things about me on her blog and, as if that weren't enough, she gave me a sunshine award! now, i don't know what a sunshine award is but, i'll take any kind of award i can get these days.  thanks gwen!

she told some folks i have a great blog and i really appreciate this although i realize that lately, it's not been so great.  i guess i have been busy?  not really.

really, our grocery budget is tight lately with the husbands employer asking each employee to take an unpaid day off each month for the next six months.  i have a hard time not sticking to my "go to" meals when i'm trying to pinch pennies.  but, that doesn't mean i haven't been cooking.  actually, we've had some yummy things as of late such as this wonderful recipe for barbecue chicken sandwiches grilled with smoked gouda and sliced apples.  it was good, we had it more than once but, the gouda isn't all that nutritious, just really delicious.

we've been enjoying lots of homemade ice cream too.  maybe a little too much.  and one day last week i made some amazing coconut cupcakes to "sample" before i serve them to a large group of people here soon at my cousins bridal shower.  i'll have to share that recipe on my other blog, amazing!

mostly though, we've been sticking to the basics and eating lots of leftovers.  here's one concoction i came up with using what i had on hand which turned out to be super awesome.

spinach salad with teriyaki chicken, mandarin oranges and toasted almonds

this salad was super easy to throw together.  i had some leftover teriyaki chicken in the fridge and a box of mini bow tie pasta that took 5 minutes to cook (rinse with cold water).  i toasted some almonds and sesame seeds in a small saute pan over medium heat for about 7 minutes and then drained some canned mandarins (packed in light syrup).  throw this all together with a bunch of spinach and top with newman's sesame ginger dressing = YUM!  (p.s. i like cold chicken so i didn't heat it up but, it be great either way).

give it a try, okay?

in the meantime, i'm going to share the sunshine award with my friend melissa.  her blog isn't technically a "foodie" blog but, she's a mom (a great one at that) and, she posts a lot of super yummy and sometimes even nutritious recipes so, go check her out!

here's what you do:

1. put the award on your blog and/or within your post.
2. pass the award onto other bloggers.
3. link to nominees within your post.
4. let them know they received the award by commenting on their blog.
5. share the love and link the person from whom you received the award.
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