Monday, July 18, 2011

Sunday Night Summer Dishes and Drinks!

I LOVE SUNDAYS!!! Only having one week off after a seven week long tour was definitely not enough! I feel like I missed out on May and June's mild temperatures of spring (a beautiful time in Utah), even though the weather in France was great. Now we are in the 90's almost everyday and for this native Alaskan, I'm still not used to the heat. So to get out of the heat my husband and I have gotten out of it by going up to the canyons and hiking new trails. When we got back from our hard hike we were starving and thirsty. I blended up a quick green tea smoothie and got to work getting the rest of dinner and Sunday snacks ready.

Green Tea Smoothie

Serves 2

1/2 cup boiling water
2 green tea bags
2 small bananas, frozen or fresh
1 cup frozen strawberries
1 cup soy milk, yogurt, or milk
2 tsp. agave nectar

1. Remove boiling water from stove, then add tea bags and steep for 3 minutes. Remove tea bags, squeezing to extract all liquid. Discard bags; let tea cool for 2-3 minutes.
2. Combine bananas, strawberries, and yogurt or milk in a blender. Pour in slightly cooled tea and puree until smooth. Add agave nectar and any other nutritional add-ins of choice : almond butter, green foods powder, matcha green tea powder, whey protein, or ground flaxseed. Puree again to blend and serve immediately.

I have been loving going to the Farmer's Market on Saturday mornings and this week I picked up a bunch of Garlic scapes! What are those you might ask?

Well, garlic scapes are the stalks of the garlic bulbs that are cut off in order to allow the bulbs to grow more full. They used to be thrown away by farmers until someone tried them out, realized they were quite good, and now you can probably find them at your local farmer's market. They are funny looking and sort of spider like but why not give them a try. I opted for this dip but I want to try them in a pesto and in stir fries as well.  Be adventurous and try them out!

White Bean and Garlic Scapes Dip

1/3 cup sliced garlic scapes (3 to 4)
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, more to taste
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt, more to taste
Ground black pepper to taste
1 can (15 ounces) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, more for drizzling.
1. In a food processor, process garlic scapes with lemon juice, salt and pepper until finely chopped. Add cannellini beans and process to a rough purée.
2. With motor running, slowly drizzle olive oil through feed tube and process until fairly smooth. Pulse in 2 or 3 tablespoons water, or more, until mixture is the consistency of a dip. Add more salt, pepper and/or lemon juice, if desired.
3. Spread out dip on a plate, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with more salt.
Yield: 1 1/2 cups.

I still have been craving alot of salads and this one is great by itself or as a side dish. It's kind of like a coleslaw but without all the mayo and fat. It's healthy and fast to put together. I had a huge head of cabbage from a CSA pickup and didn't want it to go to waste. Using a food processor with the shredder attachment is so easy and quick. It made me realize I need to use it more!

Cabbage and Apple Salad
*adapted from
Serves 4

1/2 head cabbage
4 carrots
1 Granny Smith apple, cut into thin wedges
1 1/2 tsp. lime juice
1 1/2 tsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. Lemon Pepper seasoning
Fresh cilantro, for garnish

1. Finely chop or, using food processor, shred cabbage with carrots and apple. Transfer to a serving bowl and mix gently. Sprinkle with citrus juices, lemon pepper, and salt; toss. Garnish with cilantro. 

My first trip to France and Europe was in 2001, the summer right after I graduated from High School. My brother was on exchange there so my mom and I went on an adventure to meet up with him and travel around the country. Having never been to NYC at that time, arriving in a big city like Paris was a somewhat stressful, but exhilarating experience. Let's just say having been to Europe about seven times since my first trip, they have all been a much easier traveling experience. One of the things I remember most about my first European adventure was being able to drink even though I wasn't yet 21. Having delicious wine and then being introduced by my brother to a Kir aperitif was something I have never forgotten. 
              On this last trip to France, I had many Kir's to drink (very cheap at bars like 2 Euro!), as they are refreshing and tasty! Kir is a popular French cocktail made with creme de cassis (blackcurrant liqueur) and topped with white wine . It is typically drunk as an aperitif before a meal but I feel like in the summer it makes a great cocktail with a light fresh meal. There are a few variations you can try with Kir. A Kir Royale is with champagne, or a Kir Breton (which I tried in the Bretagne region of France) which is made with cider instead of wine. So here is a Sunday ode to my time spent in France, cocktail/aperitif recipe for you you to enjoy!

Cocktail: French Kir

3/4 white wine (Chardonnay, Chablis etc. )
4 teaspoons creme de cassis liqueur

1. Pour wine into a wine glass. Add creme de cassis and gently stir. 

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

For the love of goat cheese!

  I'm back!! I've been home now for about two weeks and it has been so nice to appreciate the little things you miss while out of the country. Honestly, and not surprisingly I really missed my kitchen and cooking! While we ate fantastic food in France sometimes you just want to be in your kitchen enjoying a home cooked meal. My husband and cat were so ecstatic to have me back. I will be posting some France travel journals soon and last weekend my husband and I took a short weekend trip to lovely Portland. Stay tune....

So while I was in France I ate alot of Chevre (goat cheese). I never did get sick of eating it ALL THE TIME! There's just something about goat cheese in France that is a little different. It's like the butter there: I cannot pin point it but all I know is that it's delish! I want to try to re-create some of the meals I had there and have been putting together a menu list of some things to make. For now, here is a quick salad you can throw together on a weeknight that is healthy but feels like a treat because of that creamy goat cheese. The polenta croutons brown beautifully and add great flavor to greens.  Bon Appetit!

Pecan-Crusted Goat Cheese Salad with Pomegranate Vinaigrette
*adapted from Health Magazine


  • 1 tube polenta in tube, cut into 3 (1/2-inch-thick) slices
  • Cooking spray
  • 4 ounces goat cheese
  • 2 tablespoon chopped pecans
  • 4 tablespoons pomegranate juice
  • 2 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 6 cups fresh spinach
  • 1 cup shredded carrot


1. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Spray polenta slices with cooking spray. Add to pan, and cook 5 minutes. Turn slices, and cook 5 minutes until golden brown.
2. Shape goat cheese into a patty; coat with chopped pecans.
3. Combine juice, oil, and mustard in a small bowl; stir well with a whisk.
4. Arrange spinach and carrot on a plate. Top with polenta, pecan-crusted goat cheese, and dressing.

The polenta croutons 


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