Farm Fresh to You: Get Produced Delivered, Eat More Vegetables

I’m going to be honest. This is not what I had in mind for dinner tonight.

salad

I had a salad for lunch and because I’m all about balance, I’m generally of the belief that if I had a salad for lunch, I’m certainly not having one for dinner.  But here I am.  Having a salad for dinner after I had one for lunch.  I don’t want to be one of those girls.  I’m not one of those girls.

Let me tell you the story of this salad, because really it started a few weeks ago.

Several weeks ago, Living Social was running a deal for Farm Fresh to You. It’s like a CSA delivered to your house, but instead of buying in at the beginning of the season, you can just order whenever you want it and pay weekly.  So I saw the deal: $15 for a delivery box of vegetables.

farmfresh

If you used to read my blog when I was in grad school, you’ll know that I had a CSA share in Ithaca, NY from the Early Morning Farm and I absolutely loved it.  Every week I was so excited to pick up my share at the farmer’s market.  I got to try new and exciting vegetables like rhubarb and kohlrabi.  For a foodie writing her thesis on Sustainable Food Systems, you can probably imagine how amazing that was for me.

When I left Ithaca, I was sad that I wouldn’t have a CSA share to pick up weekly anymore. CSA shares in Southern California are basically twice as expensive as my share was in Ithaca (I paid about $20 per week back then).  So I was bummed.  I couldn’t afford to get one.  Let’s be honest, healthy living can be expensive.  (Remember how I got a second job to pay for Crossfit… omm yeah).

So when I saw this Living Social deal for Farm Fresh to You, I was all over it.  Last week, I placed my order and my box arrived today.  I had it delivered to my office because I was worried I wouldn’t be home when they delivered it and the heat wave here has been rough.  Now let me tell you, during my drive home, I was thinking about all the possible things to have for dinner, completely forgetting the box was in the backseat.

By the time I got home I had pretty much decided I wanted polenta with a poached egg.  But then I remembered the box full of vegetables.  I unpacked them and saw everything that was inside:

  • 1 head of lettuce
  • 1 honeydew melon
  • 2 delicata squash
  • 1lb potatoes
  • 3 apples
  • 2 oranges
  • 2 pears
  • 1 pack of Berry Kiwi
  • 1/2 lb green beans
  • 1 bunch of carrots

That’s when I remembered: Oh yeah, I used to eat salads all the time because that shit goes bad real fast AND I hate to waste food. There’s no two ways around it, you have to be a voracious vegetable eater if the box is just for you (and that’s the case for me, since I live alone).

produce

And you know what goes bad first?  Lettuce.  You can wrap it in a paper towel to keep it crisper longer, but let’s be honest, it’s not making it past 4 days.  I wish the box included kale instead of lettuce… but alas not reality.  So that’s when I knew salad was for dinner.

Instead of that polenta and poached egg dinner I had in mind, I threw together a salad of lettuce, carrot, edamame and a Moringstar Farms Veggie Patty.  For dressing, I mixed together some natural peanut butter, hoisin sauce, sriracha and vegetable broth, for a little Asian inspiration (Note: that’s basically how you make the dipping sauce for Vietnamese Spring Rolls).

So you’re probably thinking… good for you! Pat on the back for having a salad! Who gives a crap!?! 

Well really the whole point of all this was to tell you one of the top benefits of having one of these produce delivery services (or a CSA share) and why I’m considering getting it again: it forces you to eat more vegetables.  And not just that… organic vegetables, even better!

Farm Fresh to You brought my count of vegetables for the day from 4 to 6 (plus 3 servings of fruit).  While I probably would have added spinach to my polenta with poached eggs, the box diversified my vegetable intake, because I already had spinach in my smoothie this morning.  Even better, different nutrients!

Overall: I was pleased with what was in the box.  It had a little too much fruit for my liking, but I love the idea.  I think in the future I’ll just choose the vegetable-only box.  I’m all for eating more organic vegetables, because with a sweet tooth like mine, I can always use extra vegetables to balance it out (I’ll be completely honest, after the salad I had a spoonful of peanut butter mixed with sweetened condensed milk for dessert… I know… we won’t talk about it anymore).

Oh and just so you know, I was not compensated by Farm Fresh to You.  I bought the Living Social deal on my own and these are just my opinions.

Have you tried a produce delivery service?  Did you like it?

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Creamy Potato Leek Soup: The Cure for the Forgetful

I have a tendency to be very forgetful.  Aside from the little things like forgetting to pick up shoes or forgetting to shave my legs, there are the more important things in life like remembering to pick something up for a friend (sorry, Sara!!!!).

Consequently, I’m a fan of reminders.

I remind myself to sleep, exercise and eat well by leaving notes for myself.

I sometimes forget to eat protein.  So then I make up for it… 1 cup milk + 1 scoop protein powder + 1/2 cup mango chunks… blend, blend, blend…

I, apparently, also need a reminder to wash my travel mug daily so as not to depend on jars for transporting beverages.

I definitely don’t need a reminder that ugly omelets

made with egg beaters, cheddar cheese, mushrooms, onions, oregano and paprika have tons of protein too.

Next I need to find a way to remind myself that produce doesn’t last forever.

So if you’re forgetful like me and have a few leeks sitting in the back of your fridge for nearly a month, here’s something to save the day.

Creamy Potato Leek Soup

1 tbsp olive oil
3 leeks, sliced, white part only
3 garlic cloves, minced
4 small potatoes, peeled and diced
1 tsp dried thyme
4 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in a pot.  Add leeks and garlic, cook until leeks are tender about 10 mins.  Add potatoes and thyme, cook for 10 more minutes, add broth and simmer until potatoes are tender.   In a small bowl mix cream with a bit of the soup, add mixture to the rest of pot.  Add salt and pepper.  Allow to cool then blend and reheat if necessary.

Serve with goat cheese!

Don’t forget to make this ASAP!

Mango Pico de Gallo

Friends, it’s hot.

I can’t deal.

This weekend is supposed to be in the 60s but honestly, that cool weather can’t get here fast enough.  Consequently, there’s noooooo way I’m turning on an oven, heck even the stove is getting lonely!

So what do you do when you really want to make something but it’s too damn hot?

Make something that doesn’t require an oven or a lot of cooking time. I have a suggestion…

Mango Pico de Gallo

1 cup mango, diced
1 onion, diced
1 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
2-3 tomatoes, diced
juice of 2 limes
1-2 tbsp (or more) fresh chopped cilantro
salt to taste

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl.  Toss together and serve with chips, tortillas, fish, rice, beans, sauteed greens, salads, etc.

Super easy, right?

I also have another suggestion: BBQ Tofu with Mango Pico de Gallo

Press, slice and marinate some tofu in your BBQ sauce of choice.  Using a handy George Foreman grill (or a pan or a BBQ), grill the tofu. On a plate, place one slice of grilled BBQ tofu, top it with some sharp cheddar cheese, top that with another slice of grilled BBQ tofu, then layer on some of the Mango Pico de Gallo.

Aaaamazing!  Sweet, smokey, spicy, salty, citrusy all in one delicious little package!

Perfect for a hot summer day!  You should probably enjoy this outside with friends and a cold beer.

Any other way would probably just be blasphemous.

Go make it now!

Goya Stuffed Tomatoes

So I’ve been pretty bad about blogging this week.  I think it’s the combination of the heat, the start of classes, new part time job and my strange desire to do absolutely nothing at the end of most days.

I wish I could say my time away from this blog has been super exciting but sadly it hasn’t been.  I’ve been sort of underwhelmed with most things, cooking and blogging included.  But today I’ve decided to be my usual chipper self again.

I’m done being underwhelmed.

So a few days ago, I finally made something new today with fun ingredients.  Last week, I got a shipment of Goya products from Foodbuzz’s Tastemaker’s program.  It was perfect  because I didn’t feel like making something super complicated, but I’m not one to compromise on taste.  Consequently…

Stuffed Tomatoes

1 package Goya Yellow Rice, cooked according to instructions*
1 tbsp Goya olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 bell pepper
1 garlic clove
1 can of Goya Black Beans, or about 1.5 cups cooked beans
1 cup greens, chopped
A few large tomatoes
1 oz shredded cheese (optional)

Cook the rice according to the package instructions.  Actually don’t do that!  The package said to simmer the rice for 25 mins but mine was done after about 12!  It definitely would have burned if I had left it on for 25 mins.  Once rice is cooked, set aside.

In a pot, heat olive oil.  Add onions and peppers and cook for a few minutes until onions are translucent.  Add garlic, beans and greens.  Continue to cook for a few minutes, until the greens have wilted. Mix in the cooked rice.  Then you have a delicious tomato filling or just a tasty, versatile side dish on its own!

Should you have a ton of tomatoes from your garden or CSA like I did and actually want  stuffed tomatoes not just a delicious rice dish, core the tomatoes by cutting off the top and removing the center with a spoon.  Preheat your oven to 375F. Fill tomatoes with rice filling.  Sprinkle with cheese and bake for about 20 minutes. Allow to cool and enjoy!

Pretty delicious.  I’m definitely a fan of this yellow rice! Thanks for letting me try it out Goya!  I’m also excited to try out the Adobo Seasoning.  (P.S. You can get some Goya coupons on their website!)

Well off to do some reading and hit the gym!  Have a happy day!

Polenta Eggplant “Lasagna”

Saturday was a serious cooking day.

Every year my department puts on a pancake breakfast for incoming Master’s students (second years are invited as well).  Naturally when the Biscotti Queen asked me to help, I couldn’t say no.  As a result, we calculated that I made about 300 pancakes (maybe more?).  Starting to think I should quit planning and work in food service.  Ha!

Then later in the day there were vegetables that needed to be used.  So I tried to pack as many vegetables into one dish as possible.  The result:

Polenta Eggplant “Lasagna”

1 medium eggplant
1/4 cup salt
1 tbsp olive oil
3 small onions, chopped
1 bell pepper, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 large tomatoes
1/2 jar of your favorite pasta sauce
1 3/4 cup corn meal (polenta)
7 cups water
1 tbsp onion powder
1/2 tbsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt (or to taste)
10 oz ricotta cheese (I used fat free)
4 tbsp grated parmesan cheese

Cut eggplant into 1/2 inch cubes.  Place in a large bowl, coat with 1/4 cup salt, let stand 15-20 minutes. Don’t worry your eggplant won’t be salty.

In the meantime, chop onions, bell peppers and one tomato.  Heat oil in a large pot and add onions.  While those cook for a few minutes, thoroughly rinse the eggplant and lightly pat dry.  Once onions are translucent, add the eggplant, bell peppers and garlic.  Cook for 5 minutes on medium heat.  Add one roughly chopped tomato and cook for an additional 2 minutes.  Add pasta sauce and simmer on low heat for 25-30 minutes.

Once your sauce is ready, turn off the heat and start making the polenta.  Combine cornmeal, water, onion powder, garlic powder and salt in a pot.  Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.  Once it starts to boil keep stirring for 5-10 minutes until your polenta thickens and starts to come off the pot.

Then preheat the oven to 375F and assemble your lasagna.  First spread 1/3 of the polenta into a deep baking dish (I didn’t have a really deep baking dish so I used a 9×13 baking dish and a souffle dish), next layer on half the sauce, then spread with half the ricotta cheese and repeat.  Lastly, top with the last third of polenta.   Top with a fresh sliced tomato and sprinkle with a few tablespoons of Parmesan cheese.  Bake for 30 minutes and place under the broiler for a few minutes to get a crispy top.  Let sit for 20 minutes before serving.

Enjoyed with

new apartment mate (one of two), Anna.

And a glass of wine

Normally, I’m not a fan of white wine, but this was pretty great.  Maybe not the best pairing with this dish, but fantastic on its own!  Definitely recommended!

Off to catch up on Mad Men! Have a great night!

Indian Feast!

I’m back!  I went to Florida for a few days to visit some friends, cousins and an aunt!  Fun all around!  Beach, lots of food and family!  It was a nice break from the internet and taking pictures of food, but I’m ready for more blog fun!

Before I left last week, the Biscotti Queen and her fella came over to help me eat some vegetables before my trip.  Here’s another little known fact about the Biscotti Queen: in India, the little boy she lived with called her the Chapati Queen.  I had to put that nickname to the test.

What is chapati?  Everytime you go to an Indian restaurant, you probably order naan or roti, right?  Chapati is a similar flatbread, cooked on a skillet.  Only a few simple ingredients: whole wheat flour, all purpose flour, salt and water.

Mix 1 cup whole wheat flour and 1 cup of all purpose with a 1/2 tsp salt.  Add 3/4 cup water, knead until smooth.  Divide into 10-12 balls and roll into thin circles.

Cook on an ungreased, hot skillet for about 30 seconds each side.  You can also toast it on the stove like such

Then brush with butter and sprinkle with salt.  Mmm sooo good!

Serve it with something tasty like Baingan Bharta and Fennel Rice for a quick and easy Indian inspired meal!

Baingan Bharta

from Manjula’s Kitchen

1 medium eggplant
2 tomatoes
1 jalapeno or green chili
1 bell pepper (I used a strange yellow variety)
1 tsp ground ginger (or 1/2 tbsp fresh chopped)
1-2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp tumeric (I completely forgot to add this and it still tasted good)
1/2 tsp cayenne
salt to taste (or about a tsp)
1/4 tsp garam masala
1 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped

Microwave the eggplant 8-10 minutes, until tender.  Allow to cool then peel and dice.  Set aside.

In a blender, blend together the tomatoes, jalapeno (or green chili) and ginger.  Set aside.

Heat oil in deep pan or pot.  Once oil is hot, add diced bell pepper and sautee for 2 minutes.  Remove from pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.  Next, add cumin and coriander to oil and stir.  Add in the blended tomato mixture, add tumeric and cayenne.  Add eggplant and bring to a boil.  Using a wooden spoon, mash the eggplant along the side of the pot for about 10 minutes.  By the end you should have a lumpy mash.  Lastly, stir in garam masala and cilantro.

Serve with Chapati and Fennel Rice with Raisins!

Eating with your hands is recommended!  After our delicious feast, Biscotti Queen and boy were pooped.  Aren’t they adorable?

BUT that didn’t stop us I from finishing up something we’d been wanting to make for a looong time!  Stay tuned for that!

Vegetable Black Bean Enchiladas

My CSA this week was one of the best!  I’m not sure if it’s that I missed it since I haven’t been able to pick it up for about 3 weeks or it was just outstanding.

Kale, Green Onions, Sweet Peppers, Jalapenos, Eggplant, Beets, Parsley, Basil, Lettuce, Cabbage, Tomatoes, Oh my!

Wayy too excited.  Another exciting thing was this

Maseca to make tortillas!  Just add water!

I’ve been going TORTILLA CRAZZYYYY!  Yesterday, all the talk of families made me miss my own.  Naturally, Guatemalan breakfast came to the rescue: Black Beans, Eggs, Sour Cream and Homemade Tortillas.

Today I decided to combine the two wonderful things: Handmade Tortillas + CSA Vegetables.  Result = Black Bean Vegetable Enchiladas


Vegetable Black Bean Enchiladas

1 tbsp olive oil
2 small summer squashes, chopped
1 medium onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
1 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped*
2 cups greens (spinach, kale, beet greens, etc.)
2 cups black beans, cooked
1 1/2 tbsp cumin
1 1/2 tbsp chili powder
1/2 tbsp paprika
salt and pepper to taste
12 tortillas (handmade or store bought)
2 cans enchilada sauce
2 oz cheese (optional)

In a large pot or pan, heat oil.  Add onions and squash.  Cook until onions are translucent.  Add red pepper and jalapeno, cook for a few more minutes.  Add beans, spices and greens (I used beet greens), cook for a few minutes until the greens have wilted.  Now you have the delicious filling that is a wonderful side dish on its own as well!

Next, take a tortilla, spread some of the filling in the center and roll like a taquito/flauta.  Place on a 9 x 13 baking dish.  Repeat until all 12 tortillas are rolled or you run out of filling.  Pour enchilada sauce over the tortilla rolls.    Sprinkle with cheese (I used string cheese, because that’s how I roll but I bet chedder or monterey would be better).

Let the tortillas soak up the liquid for at least 30 minutes.  In the meantime, clean up and preheat the oven to 350.  Bake for 20 minutes.  Allow to cool and serve with a dollop of sour cream (or greek yogurt) and some chopped green onion!

*Please use gloves when chopping the jalapeno!  I had a terrible experience over 4th of July weekend where jalapeno got in my eye, saturated my contact and pain ensued!  Trust me take the precaution.  Use gloves!

Deeeeelicious!  Wayyyy better than a lot of the stuff at Mexican restaurants.  I generally don’t like Mexican restaurants because the food a lot of times isn’t that great.  Refried beans and sour cream covered in cheese is not my idea of a delicious Mexican meal. Maybe that’s the food snob in me 🙂

Are you a fan of Mexican food?