Seasonal Eats

Another week and I’ve been MIA. I know, I know. It was the last full week of class this week and finals are impending as I mentioned earlier this week.

4 exams, 1 35-page paper before December 16th. What was I thinking? I am way too easily swept up in the excitement of classes that sound interesting and/or are with great professors. The good news is that only 2 of my exams utilize “black letter law” which is good for this theory loving girl.

But for the record, I feel a bit like this right now:

Alert, anxious and rifling through paper.

So, as I mentioned it was a busy week but I did manage to cook a delicious dinner this week. Unfortunately, I did not come up with the recipe myself. Can’t win them all.

I made Pumpkin Mac and Cheese and it was everything I wanted and more. I love those dinners that you can make in a casserole dish and then eat out of for meals. Yes, this means I ate pumpkin mac and cheese three times this week. Don’t judge. I foresee this happening more than once in the next few weeks.

This was also my first time using pumpkin, rather than just laying on them. I KNOW, I KNOW. All healthy living bloggers, whatever that is, are OMGSOOBSESSED with pumpkin. I have decided that I like pumpkin in certain contexts. For example, I for sure like pumpkin topped with whipped cream or with carbs and cheese. I still have 3/4 of a can chilling in my fridge so I need to figure out what to do with that. If you have any suggestions for a 3/4 can of pumpkin let me know by dropping a comment!

In other news, Thanksgiving is next week and Kaitlin is hosting! I am so excited to have thanksgiving with Kaitlin. She’s a food blogger so I know it’s going to be good eating plus lots of wine and I’m clearly going to need a break at that point. I’ve decided to make Eat, Live, Run’s caramelized Brussels sprouts because, as we know, I love Brussels sprouts. I also plan to make my eggplant dip. Any by “my” I mean “my mother’s” and by “my mother’s” I really mean “Barefoot’s”. I’ve never blogged the recipe so you can look forward to that next week!

Finally, I have Tavern news!

My favorite restaurant has opened another outpost in Beverly Hills. I haven’t been yet since I live walking distance from the original but if you’re in that hood make sure to check it out!

Go get yourself a treat. You earned it.

Also, I found Suzanna Goin’s (the chef/owner of Tavern) Brussels sprouts recipe which is on the Tavern Thanksgiving menu: Braised Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta, Balsamic, and Breadcrumbs. Oh yes. I debated making it for Thursday but there are going to be many veggies at Kaitlin’s thanksgiving and I want to be accommodating. I debated bastardizing the recipe by switching out the veal stock and pancetta but doing that just didn’t sit right with me.

But! I encourage you to make it and let’s face it. It has pancetta and Brussels sprouts so I will be making it eventually!

And finally, Congrats to everyone who passed the bar today! I cannot believe that a year from now I’ll be finding out my bar results.

So, since I have no free time to cook my own things, link me a great, easy, quick recipe for me to try.

Linguini with Caramelized Fennel

There are two things that I love: fennel and anything caramelized.

Don’t act surprised. Fennel has a licoricey flavor. Caramelizing involves cooking something in butter for an extended period of time. What NOT to love?

You may have noticed that it’s been a while since I’ve featured a pasta dish on the blog. I love me some pasta but I ate a great deal of quinoa while marathon training and I still am eating a great deal of it. However, the other day I came home from school and was just craving a big bowl of pasta. I blame the cooler weather and the impending rain. It makes me want to carb load. But then again, everything makes me want to carb load.

It’s been a while since I’ve cooked something truly blog worthy. I blame law school. I’m taking some really interesting classes but I have 4 exams and a 35 page paper all staring me down in December. What was I thinking!? Finals prep normally lasts for about a month and my fear of how much work I have to do have motivated me to start earlier than usual.

Finals are starting to get to me. Like today. I did laundry. I washed, dried and folded it before I realized that I neglected to add detergent. Seriously people. Sometimes I wonder about myself.

In any case! My meals have been roasted veggies and quinoa -> boring. Hopefully I can make some bloggable meals in the next few weeks. I promise to try!

Linguini with Caramelized Fennel

Serves 2

Ingredients:

2 servings of brown linguini (portion determined per package directions)

2 tbs unsalted butter

1 blub of fennel, sliced length wise

1 can diced, unsalted tomatoes

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1/4 cup red wine

1 head of broccoli

Goat Cheese

Oregano

Salt

Pepper

Instructions:

Cook pasta in salted pasta water. When the pasta is halfway done cooking add the broccoli to the boiling water. Drain and set aside once al dente.

Melt butter in a sauce pan over low heat. Add the sliced fennel. Stir gradually at a low heat until the fennel softens.

It might take a while. Add a pinch of salt and pepper while stirring.

Once the fennel has softened add the garlic until fragrant. It should only take minute.

Then add the can of diced tomatoes and red wine. Turn the heat up.

Let the sauce cook until it has reduced a little. Add more salt and pepper. Add the oregano. Stir frequently.

Add the pasta and the broccoli to the mix and combine well with the pasta. Serve in a bowl with a big dollop of goat cheese on top.

The fennel really serves as a substitute for onion and I really like it. The sauce isn’t anything too different than usual but I loved mixing it up with fennel. I really like a simple diced tomato and red wine sauce. I added the goat cheese on a whim at the last moment but it the perfect way to top the pasta. The noodles were warm and melted the goat cheese. Melted goat cheese on pasta? Yes! All day everyday!

How was your weekend? Considering finals, mine still managed to be pretty fun.

Seasonal Sunday

Hello friends!

It has been three weeks since I have had a regular weekend in LA.

First I went to Chicago and ran a marathon!

Then I went to San Francisco.

And I ate my face off.

While I had so much fun the past few weekends I was really looking forward to hanging in my hood this weekend and getting back into my routine.

Routine on Sundays means breakfast, iced lattes, farmers markets, and enjoying my hood.

It’s starting to cool down in LA. We don’t have a traditional change of seasons but the weather does crisp up a bit which is nice. I’m going to go ahead and count that as a change. Mmkay? With cooler weather comes oatmeal!

Doesn’t that picture just look like fall? I actually put vanilla in the oatmeal while I cooked the oats. Then I topped with granola, cinnamon, and obviously brown sugar. Oats without brown sugar? I would never!

Then I took to the streets and stopped at one of my favorite LA coffee shops, Café Luxxe.

Cafe Luxxe has several locations on the Westside and our former governor has been known to frequent them (and I’m not talking about Gray Davis).

I got my usual, an iced non fat latte. I pretty much never get a hot drink unless it’s below freezing. Even then, I prefer cold. My Mom does the same thing and I think it might be genetic.

After I moseyed on over to the Farmer’s Market. So much has changed since the last time I was there! It’s a whole new season!

What’s in season now?

Squash! I love butternut. Some of my favorite butternut squash recipes are butternut squash risotto, butternut squash potato pancakesbutternut squash ravioli, and honey roasted butternut squash.

Kale


Pluots


Persimmons


Grapes and Pomegranates


Brussels Sprouts, one of my favorites!


Yams


Peppers and Swiss Chard


Jujubes (Chinese Dates)

I love eating mostly seasonal produce because I can really tell when the seasons are changing. If I’m eating butternut squash, it’s fall!

After the FM I walked home through an art festival! I love my new neighborhood for having stuff like this just randomly happening on a Sunday afternoon.

I didn’t buy anything but I got freebees from Pirate’s Booty!

Last night I also went back to yoga. Sunday just isn’t complete without yoga for me. Since I do yoga every Sunday I kinda feel like yoga resets by body, if that makes sense. I haven’t done yoga since before the marathon. Last night I felt like I was wringing my body out post marathon. This is going to sound so weird but I felt like I could still feel the marathon in my body. I felt a little bit heavy in my inversion but I think it’s because my arms haven’t been properly worked in a while.

I know the blog has been a little “food light, running heavy” recently but I’ve been baking and I hope to start bringing more food content back to the blog this week. I also have more marathon related writing to do, so there is a lot to look forward to.

What is your favorite fall food?

Vanilla Bean Pound Cake with Coffee Reduction and Pumpkin Ice Cream

As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemakers Program I was lucky enough to receive two pounds of Godiva Coffee’s two new seasonal flavors: Pumpkin Spice and Caramel Pecan Bark.

While I love coffee, I’m not a huge fan of flavored coffee. What can I say? I love bitter things. I decided the best way for me to enjoy the coffee wasn’t simply brewing it, but placing it in the context of a fall dessert. I decided to make a variation of Orange Pound Cake and top it with a strong coffee reduction.

Ingredients

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1 1/2 cup flour

1 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

5 large eggs, room temperature

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 vanilla bean, split and the insides removed

3 tablespoons coffee, I used Godiva Coffee Carmel Pecan Bark flavor

2 scoops seasonal ice cream, I used Trader Joes Pumpkin Ice Cream

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350. I started by combining the sugar and butter. Then I beat the sugar and butter for 8 mins until it was very fluffy. I am a major proponent of beating butter and sugar for a minimum of 8 mins, it tastes so divine.

Yes, I may have had a few bites of this while watching the Emmy pre show last weekend. Can you blame me?

Then I added the vanilla extract with a spatula and mixed with a spatula. Then I gradually beat in the eggs using a hand held mixer.

Then I added the salt and gradually added the flour. After adding the flour I added the insides of the vanilla bean. I split the bean with a knife and scraped out the insides. I made sure it was well mixed with the spatula.

I buttered a loaf pan and poured the batter in.

I baked for 60 mins.

While the pound cake was baking I got cracking on the coffee reduction. To start, I brewed 3 tablespoons of coffee in my French press, using 1 1/4 cups water.

You can use whatever brewing method you like. I only have a French press (I’m a bit obsessed with it actually) because personally, I think it brews better coffee. It’s mostly important that the coffee is a little stronger than usual.

Then I poured the coffee into a pot and set the heat on low to simmer the coffee.

It’s important not to let the coffee burn. I kept an eye on it until the coffee had reduced by half.

I check it by pouring it into my liquid measuring cup.

Reduced by over half: success!

I put the reduction aside to cool and took the pound cake out of the oven after it finished cooking and let it cool.

When I was ready to consume I sliced the pound cake, topped with my favorite fall ice cream (Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Ice Cream) and drizzled the coffee reduction over it.

Fantastic! The coffee was very flavorful and the scent was pretty intoxicating. I still probably wouldn’t drink this plain because of my personal preference for non flavored coffee but the scent was delicious. I also loved how the coffee was absorbed in the pound cake. Typically I add cinnamon or something to the pumpkin ice cream because I love adding things to pumpkin ice cream generally. I actually think I liked the addition of the coffee reduction more. The coffee reduction makes the flavor of the coffee even stronger and the strong flavor played well off of the pound cake and the ice cream.

I spent the rest of the week adding the coffee reduction to things like ice cream and muesli. Overall, I really liked Godiva Coffee for baking purposes and I will probably use it again. Indulgent and delicious for Fall!

Tomato, Basil and Feta Orzo

Seeing as I started the summer with a delicious orzo salad, roasted shrimp orzo, I figured I should end the summer with one. I broke open a cookbook I got for my birthday from my Mom.

So far, this cookbook is great! I love the recipes (there are a ton) and the saucy commentary with the recipes. This one was pretty simple. I subbed the mozzarella for feta because it’s what I had on tap. This recipe took literally no thought to put together and was great cold the next day. We had a mini heat wave last week with temps in the 90’s. Having no AC, a cold lunch was necessary. I couldn’t bear to turn on the oven.

Tomato, Basil and Feta Orzo Salad

Ingredients

3 servings of orzo

1/8 cup chopped basil

1/8 cup EVO

1 tablespoon EVO

1 cup grape tomatoes, halved (I used orange and yellow ones from the FM)

1 small minced clove of garlic

1 cup crumbled feta

Sprinkling of pepper and sea salt

Instructions

Combine the halved tomatoes, basil, salt, pepper, feta, and 1/8 cut EVO in a bowl. Stir and let sit for 1 hour. This was great because it allowed me to get a post run shower in. Wahoo!

After an hour, cook the orzo. Combine the cooked orzo with the other ingredients and the additional tablespoon of EVO. Salt and pepper to taste.

Seriously, can a meal get any easier? I don’t think so. The tomatoes were so fresh and amazing, because they’re in season now. The feta melted just slightly onto the orzo and the basil. Be still my heart it was so good! Is there a better flavor combination than tomatoes and basil? Nope.

This makes three servings. With my marathon appetite I housed a serving and a half and chilled the other portion for lunch the next say. As I mentioned above, it was so hot that the chilled portion came in extra handy. I don’t think I would have heated it up if I could have; it was great cold like all orzo salads. This is something I can see myself making in mass for several days worth of lunches.

One Year Ago: I set my 10k PR in the Santa Monica 5000. It was also the race that introduced me to Kaitlin! Isn’t running wonderful?

Creature of Habit

Above anything else, I am a creature of habit.

It’s why I end up at either Coffee Bean or Starbucks almost every morning.

It’s why I need chocolate every night before bed (obviously while being lawyerly and reading).

And it’s why I almost always eat the same breakfast. Strike that. I have eaten the same breakfast every day, with the exception of when I go out and the less that 5 times I’ve made a breakfast smoothie in the past 11 months. I saw Kaitlin blog Van’s waffles last November and I have had them nearly daily since. It was a very serious and exclusive relationship unlike most of my other relationships. Sometimes with butter, sometimes with honey or sometimes with nothing but it was always the same story.

I loved Vans because I could eat them quickly, in the car while driving or while walking to school. Seriously, I know breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but outside of a good brunch, I have a hard time getting excited about it. Doesn’t hurt that I don’t love many breakfast foods like eggs and I know this will get me kicked out of the Healthy Living club, but I don’t love nut butter.

I know. Take a minute to absorb that information.

I hope I haven’t lost you.

In recent weeks, while I love Vans, I’ve noticed that they are not filling me up the way they used to. I need more protein in light of all the running I’m doing for marathon training. I played with a few ideas to dress up Vans but in the end I decided to just try something new for a change.

I am so glad I did. Sorry Vans, I now only have eyes for muesli. This was made, of course at my Mothers suggestion. She is very concerned about the nutritional quality of my meals while marathon training.

The best part of muesli is that I can make it the night before. It actually is very similar to the breakfast cookie. There are plenty of variations, and I feel like the night before thing will encourage me to be more creative with my breakfasts and HEY maybe they’ll make the blog from time to time!

Here is how it went down. I gathered all of my ingredients the night before.

The oats and the almond milk are the base of this breakfast and everything else was selected by me because it is what I had on hand. I also grabbed a container to make my muesli in.

Morning reminder not to get too cray cray or over anxious.

I combined 1/3 cup oats, a sprinkling of cinnamon, a dash of vanilla, some raisins and macadamia nuts in the mug.

Then I added unsweetened vanilla almond milk until the oats et al were submerged.

Saran it and fridge it overnight!

The next morning I opened the fridge to a delicious surprise!

So good, like freezing cold oatmeal. The muesli was so refreshing in the morning. I was able to eat it relatively quickly and didn’t have to spend any time prepping it. Also, it only dirtied one spoon and one mug which is pretty awesome. I hate cleaning in the morning.

Like I said, I have several variants in mind that I want to try and share on the blog. I see a very happy relationship blossoming with muesli.

Do you have a go to breakfast item or do you like to mix it up?

What’s in Season Now: August

I realize that I always say one of the best ways to save money at the farmers market is to buy what is in season but I never blog about what is in season or what I’m buying. I thought I would take you WITH me to the beautiful, epic Santa Monica Farmers Market for a little peek at what is in season now.

Peaches

Eggplant – When I saw eggplant a few weeks ago I let out a squeal of delight. I LOVE eggplant and please note that there are about 5 varieties at this booth alone.

Heirloom Tomatoes – Both minis and full size perfect for Grilled Heirloom Tomatoes

Peppers

Bunches of herbs – Actually these are pretty much available year round, $1 for a bunch!

Summer Squash – Again, squeals of glee when I spotted these a few weeks ago! I’ve been using them in this risotto recipe to make summer risotto.

Papaya Melon – Like honeydew but 100% better! Sweet and mild, this is what I use in my Prosciutto Melon Salad.

Carrots – Normally I associate these with Fall, they are so good when honey roasted.

Ginormous ArtichokesGrilled artichokes are good but I need to find other recipes.

BerriesSo summer.

What are you loving at the farmers market right now?

Pretend it’s Summer Oats

Two years ago almost to the day, I was accepted to UCLA Law. The acceptance was both a huge honor and totally threw a wrench in my plans. I’d already committed to a school in Boston (and paid for a year’s worth of yoga <- don’t question what was important to me) but UCLA was my dream school with a program which was the reason I was interested in law school so I figured I at least needed to visit and give UCLA a shot. Once at the school I got the full court press from various staff members. One of the big selling points, outside of the strength of the school, was the weather. “It doesn’t rain between March and December” I was enthusiastically told. It was music to this Midwest to New England girl’s ears.

Well, I am here to tell you…

VICIOUS LIES!

Its 52 degrees and rainy right now. No bueno southern California. No bueno!

To compensate for this terrible weather I made summer style oats. Like yesterday, close your eyes and pretend.

In the mix:

  • Brown sugar
  • Cherries
  • Coconut
  • Granola

Coconut makes everything taste more like summer in my opinion and I just could resist adding these amazing cherries to the mix.

Its killing me that it was 90 and sunny the first week of finals and now it’s raining but the rain is actually coming at a decent time. I really need a running break. After 8 miles yesterday, my knees want a vacation from my vacation. I have an EPIC dinner planned tonight. Dinner will be SO epic my foodie friend and I have a countdown going. Stay tuned!

Roasted Shrimp and Orzo Salad

Don’t call it a comeback. I finally took to my kitchen today for the first time in longer than I would like to admit. My eating habits during finals were pretty terrible. There were endless trips to the hot bar at Whole Foods and random snacking. I’m pretty sure that I didn’t get proper nourishment for two weeks with the exception of a few meals and truthfully, I wasn’t that hungry. My appetite came roaring back during yoga last night (a 3 min head stand will do that to you) and today I took back my kitchen with this lovely summer dish.

Today felt like January in LA. It was cool (60 degrees, and yes I realize that there was a WIND CHILL in Chicago today so I won’t complain too loudly but I did see a women in a parka today so we’re going to count it as a ‘cool’ day). I think this dish would be great at a picnic, as a bbq side dish or, you know, whenever you want to feel like it’s 4th of July weekend. This recipe is a Barefoot original so feel free to pretend you’re in the Hamptons drinking a pitcher of mojitos with Jeffery as you eat it.

Ingredients:

Serves 3

3 servings of orzo pasta

1 lemon

10 shrimp, peeled and deveined

2 minced scallions

Generous chopping of fresh dill (I used a lot because 1) I love dill and 2) I bought an obscenely large stalk at the FM this week)

1 small hot house cucumber, unpeeled, seeded and diced

1/4 small red onion, diced

Generous sprinkling of Feta Cheese

Salt

Pepper

EVO

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Take 3 servings of orzo (as directed by packaging) and cook until al dente. Once the orzo is done, drain and set aside in a large bowl. Then in a small bowl, combine juice from 1 lemon (make sure to remove any lemon seeds that escape in the process of juicing), a 1/8 cup dollop of EVO, plus salt and pepper to taste. Whisk together.

Combine with the orzo in a large bowl. Make sure to stir in thoroughly.

Next, chop the dill, onion, scallion, and cucumber. Set aside.

See, the dill I bought was SO freakishly large that it didn’t fit in the camera frame!

Get your shrimp out!

Put the shrimp in a baking pan, sprinkle liberally with salt, pepper and EVO. Make sure the shrimps are covered in salt, pepper, and EVO and roast in the oven. This should only like about 7 mins at the MOST. Make sure the check on them so they don’t get overdone. If leftover shrimp freaks you out like it freaks ME out you could, in theory, wait to do this step until you are going to serve. The orzo stores well and you could just cook the shrimp right before you want to consume it.

Toss the shrimp in with the orzo. Then add the chopped ingredients (dill, scallions, red onions, and cucumbers). Top with the feta cheese and toss.

At this point, you can refrigerate the salad or let it sit at room temp for an hour like Ina instructs. But, if you’re like me, you photograph and eat as quickly as humanly possible because it is so tasty!

This pasta salad is delicious. The lemon and dill together felt like summer and the crispness of the onion, scallions, and cucumber was amazing. Can you promise me that if you make this you will only use the freshest of the fresh farmer’s market ingredients? Because using anything less or subbing out an ingredient just wouldn’t do the flavors justice. Roasting is by far my favorite way to cook shrimp (ok, I lie, I also have a special place in my heart for grilled shrimp) and it puts a great extra-special touch on this dish. This is the kind of thing I can see myself making on a Sunday and then bringing to work for lunch throughout the week. Oh yes, I see jealous co-workers in my future.

What meal just reminds you of summer? I could use the upper- another overcast day that requires boots might put me over the edge.

Vay-cay!

Fact: everything is better when you’re on vacation.

After having two majorly lazy days (and when I say lazy I mean literally not leaving the couch until 1 pm) I woke up today ready for action. I decided to indulge in some of my favorite things: the farmers market, running, coffee, and the Sunday paper.

In my opinion, there is only one paper on Sundays:

Cover to cover, this is my favorite thing ever. I have a method: I always start with the Style section, move to the front page, and then read Week in Review before reading anything that is especially interesting. Then I wrap up with everything else. And I when I say I read everything, I mean everything. I might not closely read the whole thing but I make sure the scan every page. You never know what you’re going to find.

Today this was interesting and in a section of the paper I generally barely touch:

An article about food products claiming health benefits and, legally, what they can claim or not claim. It bothers me when products claim to be very healthy when really it’s just more processed crap. Unprocessed food all the way! It made me think I should take food law.

In that spirit I hit the farmers market. I didn’t go last week and in the week since I last went it seems like the market has totally blossomed!

Beans and peas are in season.

Beets are still around, at a great price.

Here is something new: Apriums! That would be an apricot and a plum hybrid. I hadn’t had them before so the stand owner gave me one for free. The one I got was a bit too ripe (if that is possible). I loved the flavor but the consistency wasn’t my thing. If you live in So Cal snap these up fast, they’re only going to be in season for a few weeks.

The strawberries were amazing today! I didn’t buy any but I indulged in a liberal number of samples. Cherries are also in season finally and I did end up buying some. I even broke my own rule and bought something because the sheer size was impressive. Let’s just say I’ll be putting fresh dill into everything I make this week. I had a long list because I have a ton of awesome meals planned for this week. I cleaned out my fridge yesterday and went on an epic shopping trip to Whole Foods. Vacation means that I’m going to get back into blogging with a vengeance. Let’s just say the Flour Cookbook is going to be making repeat appearances this week! Chocolate Chip macaroons: it’s happening.

Now that I’m getting back into my blogging groove are there any special requests for what you’d like to see on the blog? I’m open to suggestions for restaurants, recipes etc. You name it, I’ll try it!