Thursday, May 26, 2011

potato & mushroom tarte tatin

still lovin' me some whole foods.  yesterday, i went to a nearby natural foods store and also a local farmers' market in order to gather the necessary groceries for the week.  the two stores i visited yesterday i liked even better than the markets i went to last week.  they had a better selection overall and had a lot more local produce, dairy products and eggs!  very exciting : )

so last night - excited to use my farmers' market bounty - i improvised a vegetable tarte tatin using potatoes, mushrooms and onions.  it was simple and delicious...and looked really pretty too.  attractive food always tastes better - have you ever noticed that?

potato & mushroom tarte tatin

1/4 shallot, diced
3 small potatoes, thinly sliced
1/2 vidalia onion, thinly sliced
3-4 baby bella mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 green onion
salt & pepper
olive oil

preheat oven to 400

1. spray a 10" cast iron skillet (or pan) with olive oil.
2. saute shallots until golden brown.

3. arrange the veggie over shallots in a circular fan design.

4. season with salt & pepper and spray with more olive oil.
5. snip green onion over top with cooking shears.

6. bake for 30 or so minutes until potatoes are tender and golden around edges.

we enjoyed our tarte tatin over local lettuce and topped it with chicken apple sausage, goat milk feta (from another local dairy) and a drizzle of balsamic vinaigrette.  yummy!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

summer in a bottle...i mean blog...

with memorial day just around the corner, summer won’t be far behind.  (thank god.)  so, to get us all in the mood for summertime, summertime, summer, summer, summertime, here’s an outline of some simply fabulous ways to channel warm-weather energy : )

eat this: capitalize on what’s fresh, local and abundant.  fresh berries, juicy tomatoes, sweet corn.  revel in the flavors of summer.  need some inspiration?  check out this killer (healthy) sandwich recipe {here}. 

credit {here}

wear this: cottony summer dresses are my go-to in warm weather.  they’re versatile, chic and simple.  makes getting ready for the day super easy.  and they keep you cool when things heat up  
credit {here}

do this: yoga sun salutations.  warm up your body and get ready for summer sun (and swimsuits).  yoga tones your body, calms your mind and brings you joy – the ultimate trifecta!  (if saluting outside, don’t forget the sunscreen.) don’t know what the heck a sun salutation is?  check it out {here}.

think about this: one who is at peace with herself is in harmony with the universe.  meaning…if you like yourself, good things come your way.  i like that idea : )

drink this: vodka, club & cranberry.  refreshing & summery, this is one of my go-tos in warm weather.  1.5 oz vodka, splash of cranberry, 3 (or so) oz club, squeeze of fresh lime.  sip & smile.  recipe video {here} bonus:  it’s low-calorie and any bartender can make it. 

happy (almost) summer!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

roasted asparagus & brie pizza

omg.  this pizza was truly awesome.  very a-typically as far as toppings go, but what it lacked in tradition it made up tenfold in buttery goodness.
ok, so here's what went down...

earlier in the day i made some super easy, no-knead bread dough.  i know i've shared this recipe before, but if you're anything like me, when i first heard "bread dough", i shunned it in fear.  i always thought homemade bread was an undertaking for only the bravest and most patient of cooks.  i mean, don't bakers have to start working at 3am just so they can open at 7am?  but have no fear - this recipe is truly simple and easy.  it takes about 5 min to mix together all the ingredients, and then you let it rise.  then you mold it and bake.  super easy i promise.  (have i convinced you yet?  here is the recipe.)

back to the pizza.

1/4 of bread dough recipe or 12oz pizza dough
6-8 stalks of asparagus (from a nearby farm)
1/2 shallot
2-3 fingerling potatoes
1/2 small meyer lemon, thinly sliced
3 oz brie
1 tbsp (or 3 tsp) olive oil
salt & pepper

1. preheat oven to 400.

2. wash asparagus & potatoes well.  snap the woody part of the stems off of the aparagus and thinly slice the potatoes.

3. place veggies on baking sheet and drizzle with 1 tsp olive oil over veggies and sprinkle with salt & pepper.  roast for 10-15 in the oven until asparagus is tender and potatoes are golden brown around edges.

4. while the veggies are in the oven, thinly slice the shallots and saute in 1 tsp olive oil until caramelized.  set aside.

5. sprinkle cornmeal over pizza stone (or baking tray) and spread dough.

6. once asparagus & potatoes are done roasting and slightly cooled, arrange on the dough.  add the lemon, shallots and brie.

7. drizzle final teaspoon of olive oil over top and season with salt & cracked pepper.

8. bake for 25 min or until crust is golden and cheese is bubbly.  remove from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes.  sprinkle with fresh rosemary before serving.

this pizza was seriously delicious.  and the asparagus - both green and purple - from the local farmers' market was so fresh and sweet.  even with the brie cheese, the asparagus stole the show.

Friday, May 20, 2011

weekend wine: 2009 feudi di san gregorio

i am a wine fan.  i started out loving white wine - mostly chards and sauvignon blancs - thanks to my mom.  she is always on the hunt for that ellusive bottle that has all the right elements - great on the palate, great price and, yes, great label.  (come on, you know you pick them by the label, too!)

since those early days of wine exploration, i've tried to expand my palate a bit more.  trying dry ros├ęs and eventually making my way into reds.  still, despite my passion and eagerness to learn about it, i'm a wine novice.  so, obviously i was excited when gary vaynerchuk, straight-talking wine guru, offered some bloggers the opportunity to share some select bottles from his exclusive newsletter, the daily grape.  very cool.  (his name sound familiar?  he is also the author of crush it! which gives fantastic insight into how to create a successful brand using social media.)

meet gary. 
so, mavens, here is gary's selection.  and don't worry, he actually knows what he's talking about.  he doesn't just go by the label : )

2009 feudi di san gregorio

in gary's words: "stop drinking the same old pinot grigio! there are so many other tremendous white wines coming out of italy, and the quality has never been better than it is today. what italy excels with most are its indigenous grapes, and this is a primetime example. fiano di avellino, from campania along the front 'ankle' of italy's boot, brings some sick (in a good way) aromatics and a juicy flavor profile. downright beautiful... we're talking mila kunis beautiful. this is a prime starting point for expanding your palate outside of your everyday santa margherita pinot grigio."

gary's tasting note from the daily grape: "beautiful and elegant orange-driven citrus fruits on the nose. wow, this is really orangey! there's also little hints of white peach. and boy, this explodes on the mouth. makes me wish that i was at a seafood or sushi restaurant right now. i really enjoy the lemongrass-meets-lime flavor up front, with an explosion of passion fruit on the mid-palate, finishing extremely smooth. this is very interesting, really solid white wine. i like it a lot!"

gary's score:  90 points
price: ~$17 msrp
grape: 100% fiano

(cailen's comments:  i don't know about you, but i think i might need a bottle of this tonight...or now.  now would work, too.)

happy weekend to all!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

avocado sandwich

i just love avocado.  it's so creamy and delicious.  and adds an indescribable richness when you cook with it.  plus, it's chock-full of MUFAs (i.e. healthy fats).  bonus!

last night for a light dinner, i made avocado sandwiches.  i had just bought some awesome fresh baked multigrain bread and was inspired to make use of some of my other recent farmers' market finds.

avo. sandwiches  (makes 2 open face servings)

2 large slices of multigrain bread
1/2 shallot, thinly sliced
1/2 tbsp olive oil
3 large leaves of romaine lettuce
1/2 avocado
10 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
herbs (i used basil & rosemary from my garden : )
salt & pepper
(ham or turkey, optional)

1. saute shallots in olive oil.  set aside.

2. quickly saute lettuce in same pan.

3. thinly slice avocado & arrange avocado on toasted bread.

4. top with lettuce, shallots, tomatoes, herbs, salt & pepper

so simple.  so yummy.  i put some freshly sliced ham on craig's, but opted for just veggies for mine.  both versions got two thumbs up.

check out more awesome, healthy recipes over at 33 shades of green.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

whole foods shopping trip 101

totally digging the glass milk bottles : )
after yesterday's post (and because we were in extreme need of food), i felt inspired to visit a local market for today's groceries.  i went to this specific market because it's run by a del val college's farm program - so they are committed to providing high-quality, local, organic foods.  not to mention, i heard that the milk they offer from their dairy is to-die-for.

i filled my cart with:

petite local strawberries
plump blueberries
fingerling potatoes
two heads of garlic
fresh baked multi-grain bread
skim & 2% milk from their dairy
fresh roasted turkey, sliced
sliced ham for sandwiches (for craig)
seven stars organic biodynamic yogurt (more about "biodynamic" below)
bananas (not local, but i'm not ready to go without them...yet)
ground turkey from an organic & humane farm
the sweetest little cherry tomatoes from their green house
gourmet olive oil
a peach, a pear & a plum (just realized now about the alliteration haha)

the market's interior
ok, so what is biodynamic yogurt?  biodynamic is an even more stringent process than just the mere "organic" certification requires.  biodynamic farms seek to be in harmony with nature.  they focus heavily on compost and creating a self-sustaining environment that requires very little "input" (i.e. unnecessary energy) to maintain.  ok...very cool.

all that delicious food did come with a price tag.  $72.56 for the cart.  and i didn't get any dry goods or eggs.  so yeah, it's definitely a more expensive shopping trip - i normally spend around $70/week for all our groceries...

me & my biodynamic yogurt
but, i must say, the maple yogurt i enjoyed with fresh blueberries & strawberries was divine.  and i felt really good about supporting local farms while getting higher-quality ingredients.  i'm still in the game.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

whole foods, whole-heartedly

craig and i watched the movie food inc. the other evening.  for those of you who haven’t seen it, the film highlights the substandard and health-compromising practices of the corporate food system in america.  the movie resounded with us.  though much of what i saw on screen i already knew existed (on some level), it struck a chord with us.  and though we’re fairly conscious consumers already – buying little to no processed foods, relying on veggies (not meat) as the star of our meals, purchasing organic whenever possible and diligently lugging our green bags to and from the store – we realized that we can, should and most importantly want to be doing more.  more for ourselves, and consequently, more for our environment.

i love to cook.  (you all know that by now.)  i relish in preparing creative & delicious meals.  it seems only valid to also care (or at least be curious) about who grows it, what methods are used, how it is transported and what overall impact it has on my body and the environment.  now, i’m not going to get all preachy about what you should or shouldn’t do, but for me, it just seems logical to seek out foods in their purest forms.  local, seasonal, whole foods have the greatest nutritive value and the least harmful impact on our bodies and our environment.  not to mention, they support your local community.  that math just makes sense.  simple, whole foods = a simplistic existence (i.e. less sickness, less stress, fewer imbalances)

for a while now, craig and i have been shifting in this direction, but i think seeing food inc. and having the blatant evidence of how toxic our food system is for both our health, our local communities and the environment, tipped the scales further.  now, don’t worry, i’m not going barefoot hippie on you.  but, for me, embracing a more “locavore” existence is the right choice – it actually feels like the only choice after doing some additional research.  a choice that i am ready, willing and eager to embrace to the best of my ability.  this new outlook will cultivate a connection to the food i so love cooking – selecting it with care and getting to know who produced it, preparing it simply and thoughtfully and savoring the natural, nourishing, delicious flavors.  (and fyi, this concept of eating doesn’t mandate that you have to be a vegetarian or vegan – so meat-eaters don’t flee!  it merely encourages reducing your meat consumption a bit because of the toll industrial meat processing takes on the environment and seeking out ethically-raised meat & dairy.  so, simply put, quality over quantity when it comes to enjoying a meaty steak.)

the money/time issue: i’m sure it will be more time consuming and cost a bit more money to eat this way, but those are investments i’m willing to make (finally).  i would rather pay a little extra for clean, cared-for foods than suffer with poor health and unending doctors’ bills & prescription-costs later.  in essence, i kind of feel like i can’t afford not to adopt a more natural & wholesome way of eating.  and lastly, though i whole-heartedly embrace the ideals behind this method of eating, i know it won’t be possible to honor it at all times.  and i’m ok with that.  i know any steps in the right direction are progress and both valid & valuable.  just like with yoga – it’s about practice, not perfection.

i’ll be blogging (obviously) throughout this shift into a more local, whole foods lifestyle – continuing to offer recipes, tips, techniques and recommendations for simply fabulous living.  hopefully, you’ll find yourself as inspired as i am to seek a simpler, more organic existence.  (like the “organic” pun?)

resources to learn more about a natural, whole foods lifestyle:
101 cookbooks blog (and heidi’s book super natural every day)
food rules by michael pollan
how to cook everything vegetarian by mark bittman    
food inc.
lucid food by louisa shafia

so, mavens, what do you think?

Friday, May 13, 2011

simple broccoli salad

yesterday, i made a broccoli salad inspired by a recipe my mom used to make each spring.  this fresh salad has a sweet/tangy dressing and is the perfect side dish for a brunch or bbq.

2 cups broccoli florets
2 cups shredded carrots/cabbage/broccoli
1/4 cup pecans, roughly chopped
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup maple syrup
3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp mayonnaise
salt & pepper

1. mix the broccoli, shredded veggies, pecans and raisins in a medium bowl.

2. in a separate small bowl, combine syrup, vinegar and mayo.  whisk.

3. drizzle dressing over veggie mixture and toss.

4. season with salt and pepper.
recipe makes 4 side-dish size servings.

this salad is best if made a bit ahead of time.  cover and place in fridge for 2 hours - overnight to let the flavor marinate.  yum!  the crunchy, tangy, sweet goodness is just fantastic.

on a different note...

i'm looking forward to my friend, cate's, wedding shower this weekend.  keep your fingers-crossed that it won't rain on sunday!  we already experienced torrential downpours the weekend of her bachelorette party... 

what are you up to this weekend?

Thursday, May 12, 2011

buddha bowl

i wanted to share one of my favorite things today with all of you.  my buddha bowl.  this bowl - with it's lovely, organic curves and convenient thumb hole - fits perfectly into the palm of your hand.  it's my go-to bowl for cereal, soup, overnight oats, chili and anything else i want to cozy-up with.

craig gave me a set of them for my birthday 2 years ago.  and i fell in love.  the buddha bowl supports a communion with your a food.  a coming together with whatever deliciously comforting meal you're about to enjoy.  it's fabulous.

and, as long as you fill your buddha bowl with wholesome, nutritious delights, you won't have to worry about developing the dreaded buddha belly...

need some ideas of what to fill your buddha bowl with?

overnight oats with peanut butter & banana
homemade mac n' cheese
cereal with pecans & raisins
st. germain & vodka cocktail (just kidding...)

(fyi - i didn't get paid or anything to write this.  i just love my buddha bowl that much!)

and, congratulations to tamara from smallwoods studios - the winner of the shabby apple dress giveaway : )

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

send cailen to napa!

warning: this post is shamelessly self-promotional : )

hello mavens!

i have the opportunity to attend a conference this august in the napa valley put on by tim ferriss, author and brand-building guru. i'm in the semi-final round for a $10,000 scholarship to win a free ride (it costs upwards of $7000 to attend...yikes!)

why i need you: the winner will be selected based upon their application video. so, please take just 1 min to click this link and vote for me.  scroll down to video #6 (bonus: you don’t even have to watch it), and vote for "cailen ascher poles".

thank you so so so much! keep your fingers-crossed....

...and, if you feel so inclined, pass this along via twitter, email, facebook. i will be endlessly grateful and totally owe you one!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

for my mom

flowers from our yard
from you i learned compassion.  how to throw a party effortlessly.  and how to cook everything.  i have your curly hair and share your love of quaint towns, great restaurants and falling leaves.  give us a quiet, comfortable, fireside chair, and we're home.  give us a piano, and we'll serenade you (with a few finger stumbles).  give us a song, and we'll sing in harmony.  in you i have a friend, a mentor, a confident, an advisor.  you give me your love, unconditionally.  your attention, undivided.  your support, unending. for this, and so much more, i thank you.  kindred spirits, old souls, dear friends.  mother & daughter.

happy mother's day

lilacs are my mom's favorite flower - these are from our yard

olive - the granddoggy

our cottage in the spring

magnolia bush in the front yard

olive in the yard

flowers by the barn

front yard

olive & the lilac bush
love you so much.

don't forget to enter the shabby apple dress giveaway {here}.
shabby apple giveaway
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