Edamame, corn, and avocado salad

Edamame, corn and avocado salad
Making a vegetable to go along with dinner for my meat-and-potatoes-loving BF is often a real challenge. He’s just not a fan of most things green. And when I asked him last night, “Do you like edamame?” he made a face. But um… then I tricked him. Haha! Tricking someone into eating vegetables. I’ll be a great mom someday.

This salad has lots of good stuff in it but it’s so fresh and sweet tasting, the best of the best ingredients are all but hidden.

It should also be noted that fresh corn would be WAY better in this salad than frozen. But it is obviously not corn season yet so this will have to do.

On the menu:
Edamame, corn, and avocado salad
Serves 2

1/2 cup frozen, shelled edamame
1/2 cup frozen corn
1 small avocado, cubed
3 Tbsp red onion, diced
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1/2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp red wine vinegar

In a small saucepan, add corn and edamame and cover with water. Add a pinch of kosher salt. Bring water to a boil and then lower to a simmer. Cook for approximately 8 minutes. Remove from heat, drain, and let cool.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, and lime juice. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. In a small serving bowl, add cooled corn and edamame, red onion, cubed avocado, and dressing. Toss to combine.

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Happy Friday!

Vacation cocktails are the best kind

Vacation cocktails are the best kind

It’s hard for me to celebrate TOO much that today starts the weekend because last Friday I was sunning myself on a hot beach in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Sigh. I guess if every day was vacation then it wouldn’t be as special… I’d gladly give it a try, though.

Today’s post is a mini one, just some links around the interwebz you might enjoy.

I could never live my whole life this way, but something about this super healthy blog has me transfixed. (Undressed Skeleton)

This month’s issue of Martha Stewart Living is the Summer Food Issue and I seriously want to lick every. single. page. Just go buy it already.

I made this fancy tuna melt (with lemon, olive oil, capers, and freshly shaved parmesan on baguette slices) for dinner last night and it was out of this world. (TheKitchn)

Have you heard of a cronut? It’s a CROISSANT/DONUT and I’ve never wanted anything so much in my whole life. Just saying: my birthday is in 2 months and someone should probably start working on getting me one right. now.

The whopper of a flop food festival The Great GoogaMooga is this weekend in Brooklyn if you care to venture out… or you could read all my reasons NOT to go and then eat at a nice restaurant instead.

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Cooking Planit App

Cooking Planit screen grab
I get to do some pretty cool things being a blogger, and most of them are totally random. I’ve tested recipes, sampled peanuts, attended luncheons, and sampled all manner of new apps. Admittedly, I’m not at Supreme Food Blogger status quite yet (yes, that’s a thing, and yes, I made it up) so the products I’m offered are occasionally strange and sometimes not great. Okay… most times not great.

So when the folks from the Cooking Planit app approached me, I expected more of the same.

I was dead wrong.

The app was clearly designed by people who actually cook in their kitchens. It’s basically an app full of recipes but with ease and efficiency at the root of it. Below I break down my favorite features:

1. Ingredients list: How annoying is it to hand copy your grocery list from a cookbook or website? And I inevitably forget something. Or the recipe calls for a LARGE onion but I wrote down “onion” and I get home and realize I have to go back out because my onion is tiny. Cooking Planit lets you download a grocery list right to your phone. You’re like YAWN I also need Rice Krispies, shampoo, and Oreos. You can edit the grocery list within the app, too! So smart, right?

2. Voice prompts: This has to be my favorite feature. I think the iPad might be the greatest thing to happen to cooking in the past 10 years, but I’m always super aware of getting it dirty. To remedy this? Cooking Planit devised a way to just say, “NEXT” and you’re on to the next step in the recipe. No swiping necessary.

3. Timing: The app tells you EXACTLY how long everything takes. It’s a pet peeve of mine when a recipe purports to take 30 minutes to cook but a step within the recipe is “cook until liquid is reduced by half.” Um… cookbook writers? This occasionally takes FOREVERRRR. Cut to me serving dinner at 9:46PM. The Cooking Planit app has an actual clock and timer that updates as you go. And if you’re going to fast? They’ll send up an alert to let you know the dish might not come out as planned if you continue to rush through it.

In short, this app is awesome. You can test it out for free and buy it for a super low price to gain access to all the recipes (which is ridiculously extensive). Go to CookingPlanit.com for more information.

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Spaghetti Squash with Asparagus and Ricotta

Spaghetti Squash with Asparagus and Ricotta
This past weekend I had my girlfriends over for dinner, which is always a welcome treat. Way too much wine is had, embarrassing stories are told, and if we’re lucky, by the next day some truly incriminating pictures are posted to Facebook. All the markings of a successful evening, right?

When it comes to making a meal for a group of people I occasionally feel really lost on the menu. I try to take into account the evening’s plan (I knew we’d be having a few cocktails so I wanted something substantial, but we also wanted to try the late night menu at Pachanga Patterson so I didn’t want something so filling that we wouldn’t be hungry by 11PM), but sometimes all I can come up with is pasta. Lucky for me I have really outspoken friends. “Can you somehow incorporate spaghetti squash into the meal?” one of the girls asked.

Bingo.

Now I had the staple around which I could build the meal. I’d never actually cooked with spaghetti squash but it seems to be the low-carb-friendly food of the moment, right? You can use it pretty much any way you’d use real spaghetti. It was a BREEZE to make, it was delicious, and I’ve become a total convert. So thanks for the suggestion, Jenna! Not only did you make cooking dinner easier, but you introduced a new delicious and healthy food into my life. You are truly a keeper.

On the menu:
Spaghetti squash with asparagus and ricotta
Adapted from TheKitchn.com
Serves 3

1 medium sized spaghetti squash
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 pound asparagus
Zest from one small lemon
3/4 cup ricotta
1 large clove garlic, unpeeled
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves (or 1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves)
Salt and pepper
2 Tbsp freshly grated parmesan cheese
3 Tbsp slivered almonds, toasted

Preheat oven to 375.

Slice your spaghetti squash in half from stem to root. Scoop out seeds. Brush both sides with olive oil and place cut-side-down onto the baking sheet. Roast in oven for 35 – 40 minutes.

Trim rough ends from asparagus and cut stalks into 2-inch pieces. After squash has roasted for 35 – 40 minutes, add asparagus pieces to the baking sheet (scatter around the squash). Place garlic clove underneath one squash half. Place the whole baking sheet back in the oven and roast for another 10 minutes, or until the asparagus is easily pierced with a fork.

While the roasting is happening, in a small bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, lemon zest, parmesan, and thyme. Season liberally with salt and pepper.

Once the asparagus and squash are done roasting, remove the baking sheet from the oven. Add the asparagus and the softened garlic clove to the ricotta mixture and stir to combine. Once the squash has cooled for 5 minutes, scrape the flesh out and add it to the ricotta. Place in a serving bowl, top with toasted almond slivers*, and serve immediately.

*To toast almond slivers: place almonds in a small skillet and cook over low heat until the almonds become fragrant. Do not overcook.

PS – thanks to Meagan at Trippin’: A Travelogue for taking the photo!

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New York Wine & Culinary Center

New York Wine and Culinary Center
Rochester might seem like your standard blue collar city with not much sophistication and little in the way of culture. But if you assumed that, then you’d be dead wrong. There are endless summer arts festivals, jazz festivals, it’s home of Eastman Kodak and the Memorial Art Gallery, and a tiny movie house plays indie films on the reg. The newest addition to the little-city-that-could is the New York Wine & Culinary Center in Canandaigua.

The New York Wine and Culinary Center features all New-York-sourced food and wine (i.e. you won’t find any rice on their menu here because there is no rice produced in NY – did I just blow your mind?), and they expose visitors to said food and wine in a variety of ways: classes in their beautiful professional kitchen; food demonstrations in a lecture-style classroom setting; a tasting bar where you can experience flights of seasonal wines, beers, or liquors; and a restaurant upstairs that puts it all together for you.

The space itself is beautiful: all dark wood and sophistication. You won’t find any steel-countered surfaces in their professional kitchen – in addition to being functional, it’s also aesthetically pleasing. And situated on beautiful Canandaigua Lake, on a good day the view is spectacular.

On the night I went with my family, it was drizzling and cold outside (I’ll give you that against Rochester, the weather never does seem to cooperate), but the interior of the space was warm and inviting. We went straight to the bar where the tastings are held and each of us ordered a flight: one dry red wine flight, one vodka flight, one white wine flight, and one beer flight. The bartender was ridiculously knowledgeable about every single drink he put in front of us and after I expressed particular delight in a wine from Coyote Moon Vineyards, the bartender said, “Would you like to meet the wine maker?” The winemakers happened to be in town doing a demonstration at the culinary center (this is the type of special event they hold all year round) and filled me in on their winery and a specialty tomato sauce they sell at the vineyard. If you’re ever doing a wine tour in the area or happen to be out near Clayton, NY take the time to stop in and meet the lovely Randazzo family.

The next stop was the bar upstairs for another glass of wine (do you love how specific I’m being by telling you I had “wine”? It was so good I forgot what kind). We settled into a giant wooden table and stayed for dinner. The first course was a cheese plate, followed by a delicious entree of Long Island flounder and scallops over leeks fondue and seasonal vegetables. For dessert we had apple fritters that I’m still dreaming about: apple rings deep fried in the lightest, crunchiest batter imaginable with sweet, smooth vanilla ice cream. Is there any dessert more New York than an apple?

If you’re in the Finger Lakes region, make a point to visit the culinary center. It’s incredible to see a place this innovative and committed to local food and wine thriving in an area that isn’t usually known for its culinary ingenuity. Take a class on making truffles, taste the New York wines (of which there are HUNDREDS), gaze out over beautiful Canandaigua Lake, or just eat your face off in the upstairs bistro. Whatever you do, you won’t be sorry you did it.

New York Wine & Culinary Center is located at 800 South Main Street, Canandaigua, NY. Call 585.394.7070 for more information or email info@nywcc.com

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The Liebster Award

This is the second notice I’ve received that I’ve been nominated for a Liebster Award so I figured, “Oooooh okay, if TWO people now think I’m great then I guess I can indulge my dozens and dozens of readers with some facts about myself.”

#HumbleBrag

liebsteraward

After receiving the nomination, the blogger must:

  1. Acknowledge the nominating blogger
  2. Share 11 random facts about yourself
  3. Answer 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you
  4. List 11 bloggers who have less than 200 followers (as best as you can tell based on the info provided!). They should be bloggers that you believe deserve some recognition and a little blogging love!
  5. Post 11 questions for the bloggers that you nominated to answer; and
  6. Let all of the bloggers know that they’ve been nominated.  You cannot nominate the blogger that nominated you.

The blogger who nominated me is Holly from Eat Great Be Great! (The first lovely blogger to nominate me was Mama Sonshine but I think I was too busy when I first got the notice to actually write the post and then I forgot… whoops).

Here are 11 random facts about me that you never even knew you wanted to know:
1: I’m not a big fan of kids, and really don’t know what to do with them.
2: I have double jointed thumbs and a double jointed shoulder blade.
3: My drink of choice is a gin and tonic.
4: The happiest moment of my life (to date) was when I found out I got into NYU as a transfer student after having been rejected a year and a half earlier.
5: My favorite place in the whole world is Dublin, Ireland.
6: A very close second is the Adirondacks.
7: When I was a kid my older brother and older cousin called me “Stormin’ Lauren” because I cried all. the. time.
8: It’s always been my not-so-secret dream to open a bed and breakfast in the mountains somewhere.
9: Because of the aforementioned dream, I like to read terrible mystery novels about a bed and breakfast owner in Maine who helps solve crimes like “Dead and Berried” and “Blueberry Blues.” There are recipes in the back and extensive descriptions of the breakfasts the inn owner makes every day. Please don’t judge me.
10: I graduated from college with a double major in English and Journalism, but I started my freshman year as a musical theater major. I was involved in theater my whole life and my breakout role was the sassy maid Pauline in Spry Middle School’s production of This Old House.
11: I am really goofy and my stand-up-comic boyfriend laughing at me is the best compliment ever.

11 Questions from Holly at Eat Great Be Great:

  1. Are you a city girl or a country girl?
    I live in the city but sometimes I really miss sleeping with the windows open and walking barefoot in the grass. Hopefully someday I’ll be a little of both.
  2. What’s your favorite movie?
    Father of the Bride Part 2
  3. What’s your favorite color?
    Blue
  4. If you’re stranded on a desert island, what are your 3 MUST have items?
    My best friend, some booze, and a board game. Because how freakin’ fun does that sound?
  5. What’s your favorite food?
    Pancakes
  6. What’s your favorite destination vacation?
    The Caribbean
  7. Do you have any siblings?
    Yes, my older but not wiser brother who still says things like, “Shut up, dork.”
  8. Chocolate or vanilla?
    Vanilla
  9. Who is the most important person in your life?
    This feels like a trap…
  10. Are you a morning person or a night owl?
    Morning person
  11. What’s your favorite day of the week and why?
    Sunday! It’s always felt like family day and it always centers around food (Sunday brunch, Sunday sauce, etc).

11 Bloggers I Nominate:
1: Love Buck Dispatches from Kerri
2: Crandle Cakes from Randi
3: That Skinny Chick Can Bake! from Liz
4: Mon Ami from Ami
5: Orchard Bloom from Maria
6: Bound from Julie
7: Ben Loves Ting from Ben and Ting
8: Act Like a Lady Eat Like a Man from Sara Ann
9: Her Name is Rachel from Rachel
10: Sarah the Architect from Sarah
11: Ursine Cuisine from Vicky

11 Questions for the Bloggers I Nominated:
1: If you could be any animal, which animal would you be?
2: What’s your sign?
3: Do you have any tattoos?
4: What is your death row meal (aka the last meal you’d choose if you were ever on death row)?
5: What would your friends say is your best quality?
6: It’s Friday night at 9PM – where are you?
7: If you had to pick one city to live in for the rest of your life, what city would it be?
8: What one person has shaped your life the most?
9: What is your favorite candy?
10: What is your greatest fear?
11: Pie or cake?

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If you made it all the way to the bottom of this post, congratulations! You have too much time on your hands and/or your day job is boring. Catch you on the flip side, friends.

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Forks Over Knives

forksoverknives

Just a quick Friday post to let you know about a really interesting documentary I stumbled upon on Netflix (FYI: Netflix has TONS and TONS of documentaries about food if you’re interested – and they’re not even paying me to say that).

Simply put, Forks Over Knives touts the benefits of a whole food, plant-based diet. It examines how most degenerative diseases can be controlled by eliminating animal-derived and processed foods from our diets (full disclosure: I’m eating a giant black and white cookie as I write this).

Brian Wendel, the creator and executive producer, digs deep to uncover Americans’ misconceptions about food, the benefits of cutting out animal products from your diet, and using food as medicine to cure or control degenerative diseases.

The research is fascinating, and I have to admit it affected how I did my grocery shopping the following day. I filled my cart with red peppers, cucumbers, and apples to take as snacks to work instead of yogurt like usual. I researched more veggie-heavy recipes instead of relying on pizza for a Friday meal. However… I took the messages in the film with a grain of salt. Maybe cutting out animal products really does prevent you from getting cancer, and there is no doubt that cutting out processed foods will help obese people control their diabetes and heart disease. But I think we can all point to an unhealthy vegetarian. Or someone who’s lived to 102, cancer free, but ate steaks and drank big glasses of milk once a week for their entire life. I’ll try to cut down on my unhealthy eating habits, but I’ll never say no to a cheeseburger.

Other incredible food documentaries on Netflix include: Vegucated; Jiro Dreams of Sushi; and Food Fight.

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