Summer goals

I feel like I have been a lazy bum lately. My laziness has inspired me to set some goals.

When I first started making the list, all the goals seemed to be geared toward all of the foods I wanted to make and eat this summer. After looking over the list, I would have to run a marathon every week to not weigh 400 pounds by the end of the summer. Time to rework the goals.

Guidelines: To complete goals by Sept 21, 2012(the last calendar day of summer).

1) My first goal is to complete 3 half marathons this summer. Notice I didn’t say run 3 half marathons this summer. I actually have a half marathon in 2 weeks. Unfortunately, I have fallen off the training wagon. If I was able to run the whole thing, I would be really amazed with myself. I don’t think I will be able to. I would like to be able to run the 2nd and 3rd half marathons of the summer, though.

2) I want to be able to do a chin-up. Yes, like old school gym class, hang from a bar and pull myself up. I have always had horrible upper body/arm strength. I want to focus on getting Michelle Obama arms this summer. Have you seen her arms? Perfectly toned. Ok, maybe they won’t look like that by the end of the summer but I would like them to be closer to that than they are now.

3) I want to eat breakfast by the lake at least once. Yep, I live in this great city on this huge lake and I don’t take advantage of it nearly enough.

4) I want to make 3 crafts off of my Pinterest boards. I have pinned several things, but don’t think I have made anything that I have pinned yet. What’s the friggin’ point?

5) I want to do a 3 day green juice cleanse. Maybe it will last longer than 3 days, who knows, but that would be the starting point. I think they can be a good way to reset your system.

6) I want to have a dinner party at our house. Brian and I live in a pretty big place(for living in the city) and we never have people over. I love to cook but never really cook for other people. I need to do it.

7) Providing my plants produce, or even if they don’t…I would like to can/freeze a few things to have quality produce for the winter.

What are your goals for the summer? Don’t have any? Think about setting some. It gives you a little more purpose and helps get things you want to do checked off the list.

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Memorial feast

This is the type of meal we eat when I’m allowed to roam free in Whole Foods on a hot day.

New York strip steaks were on sale for $12.99/lb. We bought a steak that was a little over a half pound and split it.

I also had some shrimp at home. I marinated them in garlic, avocado oil and crushed red pepper.  I put them on the cast iron grill pan after the steak had finished and was resting. They had awesome flavor.

Surf and turf.

I used my cast iron grill pan to cook some asparagus and corn while I roasted some fingerlings in the oven.

I topped the fingerlings with some soy-based Cesar dressing we had gotten at City Farms. So delicious.

Washed it all down with some strawberry lemonade that I had left over from making popsicles.

Not a bad meal, if you ask me.

So while it was an excellent and complete meal, it gives you a glimpse of how I tend to cook in the summer. Much more simply. There is so much wonderful fresh produce that often needs little done to it. It’s also the direction I am trying to take my cooking. I am attempting to eliminate processed foods and products as much as possible.

Basil down! Basil down!

This is what I came home to yesterday…

In high school some other students and I volunteered for a bike race called the Snake Alley Criterium in my home town. We were assigned the job of corner marshal. The only job we had was to wave our arms up and down and yell “Biker down! Biker down!” if a biker fell. Not hard, right?

Well, guess who got the fastest corner on the race and got to use her arm waving skills? Yep, me. I just remember this guy skidded out so bad that he made a nice large hole in the butt of his spandex and had a big hunk of freshly skinned butt cheek hanging out. How does this story come into play?

When I saw that my basil had blown out of the window sill and landed on the ground, I had the urge to yell, “Basil down! Basil down!” I could have. No one was home to hear me. But I didn’t. I did have a nice little chuckle to myself thinking about that day as a clueless high school and that poor man’s bloody bum.

I made a good effort to replant them as their roots looked intact. Hope fully they can get right back up, just like that biker that day.

Glimpses from the holiday weekend

On Friday night, we went to Cafe El Tapito. A place I had been dying to go for about a year. Too bad it ended in a major disappointment. Plantain enchiladas with mole sauce:

Made a veggie scramble and smoothies for breakfast:

Transplanted some veggies:

Got heat blisters. Gross:

Ate homemade popsicles:

Had some surf and turf:

Took a trip to Bed Bath and Beyond to get a new drying rack. It’s very bad ass:

Drank homemade strawberry lemonade in a frosty mug:

Work a few shifts at Rush:

Cooled down with an ice cream bar:

Not bad. Not bad at all.

Quick breakfast

Preheat oven to 300F or turn on a toaster oven to 300F(what I did at work).

Beat 2 eggs. Add a handful of torn up spinach. Cut 5 cherry tomatoes in half.Mix with eggs.

Lightly oil a cake pan. Pour egg mixture in pan.Top with garlic salt(optional).

Bake for about 10 minutes.

Have this for breakfast.

Top with avocado. Deluxe.

Who says you can’t have a good breakfast during the week. I made and ate this at work.

Pots and plants

In the beginning of March we had a week of amazingly warm and sunny weather. The beautiful weather had me itching to get my potted garden going. Instead of just buying plants and potting them this year, I decided to start my own plants from seed. Look at the beauties in April:

In April I applied to be part of a community garden in hopes of getting a plot to plant all my fruits and vegetables. I found out that there were a lot more applicants than last year and I was 2nd on the waiting list. I haven’t heard anything since and the lady with park district isn’t returning my emails of inquiry. A very frustrating situation.

So, the plants that I started so long ago are outgrowing their containers and even some are starting to die. I decided yesterday that I need to bite the bullet and plant what I really want in pots in the back yard again and hope for the best. Last years plants did not produce much, so I am not holding my breath for this year to be any better.

Zucchini:

Kale:

Cherry tomato:

Brussels sprouts:

Heirloom tomato:

And some peas(with velcro tape):

And a peapod!

I did get the most awesome product this year though. It is a roll of velcro that helps stake plants up. Highly recommended.

Here’s hoping I have a bountiful harvest. And if not, I enjoy taking care of my plants.

Popsicles-the perfect heat relief

Summer heat has finally hit Chicago just in time for the holiday weekend. Could there be a better way to cool off after potting vegetables outdoors than having an ice-cold popsicle? Probably not. Too bad that isn’t how my day went. I came in from the heat to make the popsicles. Now I just have to wait a few hours for them to freeze before I can eat them.

They will be worth the wait, though.

Strawberry lemonade popsicles. A little sweet. A little tart.

Ingredients:

  • country time lemonade mix
  • water
  • 8oz strawberries

I roughly chopped all the strawberries except 3. I nicely diced them in 1/4 inch pieces and set to the side.

Put roughly chopped strawberries, powder to make one quart lemonade and 32 ounces of water in the blender. Pulse until lemonade combined and strawberries pureed.

Put a few of your nicely diced pieces of strawberry in each mold. Then pour lemonade over, leaving 1/4 inch of space at the top for expansion. Add stick. Freeze.

Should make 6-8 popsicles, depending on size of mold.

Triple berry pie

Summer is here! Berry season is upon us! Let’s make pie!

I made two triple berry pies to take work in honor of a birthday. They were delicious. The quality of pictures in this post are exceptionally poor. My apologies. It was almost 10pm when they were finished baking and no natural light was to be had.

Ingredients:

  • 7 cups of berries( I used blue, black and strawberry)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • juice of half lemon
  • zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 frozen Marie Callender’s pie crust

Let’s just start off by saying that I don’t normally use a premade pie crust. I was on a time crunch. So, I did a little research and read where Marie Callender’s had the best frozen pie crust. They are a deep dish pie crust with a buttery flavor and flaky texture. People were shocked that they were store-bought.

Preheat oven to 400F.

Rinse all your berries. Slice the strawberries and put them in a large bowl.

In a smaller bowl, combine vanilla, lemon juice, lemon zest, corn starch and sugars.

Pour over berries and mix well. Let set 5 minutes. Mix again.

Pour half of the berry mix into one pie shell. Pour the second half into the other.

Bake for 20 minutes at 400F. After 20 minutes, lower the temperature to 350F and continue baking for 40-50 minutes. If your crusts start to get too brown, cover them with aluminum foil.

There are lots of options to do with this pie like adding a lattice or crumb top, but I was trying to keep them as healthy as possible.

I decided the best way to top them was with fresh whipped cream. I combined 4 cups heavy whipping cream, a half cup of sugar and 2 teaspoons vanilla in my food processor and turned it on high.

In less that 10 minutes I had a big ole’ tub of whipped cream.

It went on the pie, in people coffee and someone even got some on their nose.

The scene of the gobbling of the pies.