Tag Archives: avacado

earning your [favorite dessert here]

A family friend recently asked (regarding my veggie-loving, meat-free diet), “Lindsey, I just don’t understand what you order when you go out for fast food” to which I could only respond, “Well, I don’t eat fast food.” I realize this is a lifestyle choice, and the next few thoughts explore why it’s mine.

Now I think dinner in 20 minutes does count as (pretty-darn) fast food, but, yes, it requires planning ahead—precisely why I write this handy blog for you! The following grilled treat is healthy and creamy-wonderful; I simply do not believe there has to be a trade-off between enjoying food and treating your body well. Lately I’ve been considering whether this perspective is an adoptee thing?

It feels like people around me are always yapping about their genes, “A strong heart runs in the family, I just eat what I want…” Or persistent co-worker: “We’ve always had good cholesterol on Dad’s side, I don’t need to worry about sodium”. Maybe two decades of checking the not applicable box on those medical history forms has led me to the silly assumption I’ve got take things into my own hands mouth and eat foods that will best provide my body with nutritious fuel. Adoptees often don’t know of historical health on which they can rely, not that this makes all of us vegetarians…

I love to eat, I live for cheese; I cook at home so my food can be delicious and controlled in salt and fat (motive: so I can live a long time traveling the world with Andrew, who has enviable genes). Call me nuts for considering this concoction a complete meal, but it was divine and followed by a well-earned a gelato date with the hubs. Andrew my Chicken-Loving Man loved this, called it restaurant material. Gene-ius 😉

Grilled Corn and Feta Bruschetta

based on a June 2011 recipe from Bon Appetit

2 ears corn, shucked

1 tbsp. vegetable oil

1/2 loaf fresh ciabatta bread

1/2 garlic clove

1/4 cup sour cream (or crema mexicana)

3 tbsp. crumbled feta

1 large tomato, chopped

1 lime

fresh herbs (cilantro, basil, or chives)

chili powder

kosher salt

fresh black pepper

Grill the corn

If you want to speed along the corn cooking (and avoid charred, raw kernels), consider partially cooking the cobs in the microwave. When ready to grill, rub the corn with vegetable oil and season with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper. Grill over medium heat until lightly charred and tender. Slice corn off the cob in wide strips.

Season the Bread

Cut the loaf into one-inch slices; stack the slices and cut them in half (I found grilling smaller pieces the second night—not pictured—made for easier eating). Lightly brush the bread slices with olive oil and grill on each side until slightly charred (just 3 or so minutes on each side, keep on eye on ’em). Immediately rub the top of each slice with the cut side of the garlic—a rustic Italian technique you will love.

Assemble the bruschetta

Mix the sour cream with feta (I used fat-free sour cream).

Smear the toasts with the cheese mixture and top with the grilled corn and chopped tomatoes. Squeeze a generous amount of lime juice over each and garnish with your favorite herb (a must). Top with chili powder (also essential; I use a completely mild chili powder and it adds lovely smokey flavor to the corn and lime).

Without a Grill?

If you find this recipe as alluring as I did on paper, you can replicate it without a grill by cooking the corn (either in the oven with this fabulous method, or cutting off the cob and then sautéing in olive oil until tender). Brush the bread slices with olive oil and toast on a baking sheet in a 400F oven until lightly brown, rubbing the garlic on the bread as soon as it’s out of the oven.

Pepita and Spinach Salad

inspired by an April 2011 taco recipe from Epicurious

1 large tomato, chopped

1/4 cup roasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)

1/3 cup canned chickpeas

1/2 lime

3/4 cup packed spinach leaves, stacked, rolled, and thinly sliced

kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

1/2 avocado, peeled, seeded, cut into chunks

1 oz. feta cheese, crumbled

olive oil

If the pumpkin seeds are raw, toast them until fragrant in a dry, medium-hot skillet. Toast the chickpeas in a large skillet with a drizzle of olive oil and stir until brown and crisp.

Combine the sliced spinach and tomatoes with a generous squeeze of fresh lime and small drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper. Add the feta, avocado, chickpeas, and seeds just before serving.

More about my most adored indoor grill here. And have you checked out the updated About Lindsey tab??

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whip it!

While this seems like an apt opening to a post on homemade mayo or vanilla-scented whipped cream, I wanted to write briefly about gorgeous not-so-challenging food you can whip together for all the company headed your way this season.

my blog made quite an apPEARance

It seems I’ve been cooking for crowds quite a bit this month, and while the food has been blessedly beautiful and delicious, these are really things you can whip together with ease. Oh yes, I was referring, specifically, to you.

Thanks to all who joined in the celebration of Statements on the Water’s grand opening. (I even ran into the music teacher from my school, who was quite surprised to find me in attendance as a vendor)!

I made a gazillion-and-one herbed tarts with caramelized onion, roasted pears, gorgonzola cheese, creme fraiche, sun-dried cranberries, and fresh chives. But darn if they don’t look worth it, eh?

Click here for a previous post on my very simple tart shells, which freeze wonderfully and stay fresh in the fridge for several days. With these fellas prepared, it’s simple to fill them with a variety of fillings–even premade if you find something bold and flavorful.

While caramelizing onions on the stove (sliced thin and resting in butter on low heat about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally until deep amber), I roasted pears in the oven: unpeeled, quartered and cored, placed on parchment paper in a 400F oven until brown. Once cooled, pulse the roasted pears briefly in a food processor, or chop finely and combine the mixture.

Simply heap your onion-pear filling–which should resemble the consistency of very chunky applesauce–into the shells with a teaspoon measure. Next, top with blue cheese crumbles, dried cranberries, chopped chives, and a dollop of creme fraiche (or sour cream).

Here’s the kicker: you can omit any of these ingredients and they will still be delicious. I started out making them with onions alone and add a new ingredient each time around. They’re so versatile. Remember when I filled them with rosemary ricotta and my rich slow-roasted tomatoes?

Next up, I have some easy-peasy sandwiches I recently served at a co-worker’s bridal shower. Fresh ciabatta, arugula pesto, roasted red peppers, and of course caramelized onions. Plus, turkey and avocado sandwiches to accompany my favorite Greek feta dip. But for now, friends, back to homework!

A warm welcome to all the many new readers & eaters I had the pleasure of meeting at yesterday’s event. Come back soon 😀

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mexicali. cha! cha! cha!

MEXICALI is a new word for me (and you know how I adore great words). When I came across this Mexicali Chop with Crunchy Tortilla Strips recipe, I assumed “Mexicali” termed a festive blend of regional cuisines—perhaps Mexico and California? Okay, so 3 seconds of research proved me wrong. Mexicali is a city in Baja California, Mexico, located across the border from Calexico, California. So I wasn’t too far off.

With lots of corn and tomatoes on hand, I invited Andrew’s parents over for un poco Mexican feast. A Mexicali chop salad, caramelized onion & Jack cheese tortillas, cantaloupe ruffles, and pineapple-cilantro chicken.

CANTALOUPE RUFFLES

I’ve always been afraid of cantaloupe. Don’t ask me what’s so intimidating about cutting into large, heavy fruits, but I’m admitting here and now I’ve not worked my way up to a pineapple.

Sure enough, once I sliced both poles of my fruity globe, the peel was not a challenge from there. (A small Wednesday triumph). Now, one can chop into traditional wedges at this point, but you know I love experimenting. And I love vegetable peelers. When I make one of my favorite dishes, egg noodles with zucchini and carrot ribbons, I blanch beautiful vegetable strips easily produced by a vegetable peeler. I played around with the same idea here.

Once you remove the skin, cut the melon in half and scoop out the seeds, just start peeling strips from the flat core. Press the peeler firmly to cut strips that aren’t too thin.

That’s it! Arrange the ribbons in piles, or little swirls. Garnish, as I did, with lime zest and a light drizzle of honey. For very sweet cantaloupe, the honey really isn’t necessary, but a little lime juice on top of the zest is just right.

So easy and elegant.

MEXICALI CHOP

This salad has three components in the prep: the tortilla crunchies, the dressing, and the salad pieces. It may sound a little tedious, but the prep doesn’t take long. Besides, you can adjust the salad parts to your preferences (as I did), making the dressing ahead of time, and hopefully you will also find that you have a lot of these ingredients on hand.

Here’s a visual so the parts make sense:

the dressing

1/2 cup olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced (2 tsp.)

2 tsp. ground cumin

2 tsp. ground coriander

1 tsp. sugar

1 tsp. salt

1/4 cup chopped green onion

1/4 cup cilantro leaves

pinch cayenne pepper

I have an aversion to most recipes with over five ingredients, but the photo of this salad in Vegetarian Times was irresistable.

You will need a blender (or an immersion blender). Heat the oil, garlic, cumin, coriander, sugar, and salt in a saucepan for 2-3 minutes over low heat, or until the garlic begins to sizzle. 

(With all of these dried spices, the dressing can be a little gritty. Be sure to stir the contents over the heat so the sugar dissolves.) Blend the remaining ingredients with a garlic-spice oil. That’s it! Stick in the fridge or just set aside.

the crunchy tortilla strips

1.5 tsp. canola oil

3 6-inch corn tortillas

1/2 tsp. chili powder

1/4 tsp. sugar

1/8 tsp. salt

Corn tortillas are bland on their own but trust me that you need them for this recipe! Preheat the oven to 350F and brush the oil on the tortillas. Cut in half, then cut into 1/8-inch wide strips.

Spread the strips on a baking sheet and combine the chili power, salt, and sugar in a bowl. Sprinkle the mixture over the strips. Now I ended up doubling the chili-salt-sugar mixture. I didn’t find this given amount to be enough, and since I used a mild chili powder blend, ample spice on top was just delicious.

Bake for about 10 minutes or until crisp. Set aside to cool while you assemble the rest of the salad.

salad

1 head romaine lettuce, sliced thin (8 cups)

2 medium tomatoes, chopped (2 cups)

1 avocado, diced (1 cup)

3 celery stalks, sliced think (1 cup)

1 seedless cucumber, diced (1 cup)

1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels (thawed)

3/4 cup cooked pinto beans

1/2 cup jarred roasted red bell peppers, rinsed, drained, and sliced thin

1/3 cup finely chopped red onion

As I said before, you can certainly adjust these ingredients to your own preferences. I excluded pinto beans and celery in my version. Toss all the salad ingredients together with tortillas strips and 1/4 cup dressing. I recommend serving the dressing on the side, so as not to make those crunchy bits all soggy. Serving your salads on a flat platter allows your eaters to get all those delicious and teeny ingredients that might otherwise spend their evening in the bottom of the bowl. 🙂

per 1 and 3/4-cup serving: 160 calories, 4 grams protein, 8 grams total fat (1 gram saturated fat), 21 grams carbs, 0 mg cholesterol, 229 mg sodium, 6 grams fiber, 5 grams sugar (this recipe is gluten free and vegan)

Since you’re enjoying such a healthy, crunchy salad, you may consider my onion-jack cheese tortilla wedges on the side. To use up the remaining few corn tortillas, I sprinkled them with caramelized onions, topped with shredded colby jack and sharp cheddar cheeses. While I broiled the pineapple-cilantro chicken tenderloin, I placed a baking sheet of these tortillas beneath. Next time, I’ll place the tortillas on a cooling rack over a baking sheet to crisp the underside. Once you pull the tortillas out of the oven, drizzle lightly with the following: sour cream thinned with lime juice, a generous sprinkle of lime zest and chopped cilantro.

The salad recipe is from the July/August 2010 issue of Vegetarian Times.

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healthy, happy

I’ve set some high standards naming this post “happiness”, when it’s actually not what I’m feeling right now. Fully engrossed in my Nutrition grad studies this week has me very, very sad about the obesity in our country. Right now, the average life expectancy in the U.S. is around 77 years old. For children born in 2010, that lifespan is estimated to be ten to fifteen years less. As obesity affects more and more and more children, those children are suffering from diabetes II, heart problems, and cancers at significantly higher rates and early ages. 

The happy note: this is preventable. So what does this mean for our kitchens?

I’m motivated more than ever to reiterate that cooking and eating healthy is not only possible, but affordable in terms of our money and our time. My little household is on an awfully tight budget these days, and spending my evenings studying for exams doesn’t allow me the relaxing hours of cooking I crave. But here’s the thing: I absolutely refuse to buy into the “convenience” of convenience foods. No matter the time crunch, our health just isn’t worth the sacrifice in my book. Our health is the bottom line. 

But Lindsey, I’ve seen pictures of your pizza and tarts!! How is pizza health food? 

Such a legitimate point. Making food at home from real ingredients (the whole potato vs. the paper packet of dehydrated potato flakes + 22 indistinguishable items) allows me to control the amount of salt and fat and portion sizes in our meals. Yes, I’m going to sprinkle some salt on my vegetable/sauce/pasta dish, etc. But that 1/4 tsp. of kosher salt is 280mg of sodium. Incredibly less than the thousand of sodium milligrams in frozen pizza or pre-seasoned foods. We enjoy butter and cheese at home, in moderation, but I cook with fats (mostly olive oil) in small amounts. Dousing butter and cheese on top of already prepared foods adds such unnecessary saturated fat, and is a dangerous habit. 1 tbs. olive oil, p.s., has 2 grams of saturated fat vs. 1 tsb. of butter with 7 grams of fat. As I discuss below, it’s not always the amount of fat, but what kind of fat the ingredient contains. 

Lindsey’s Super-Engergizing Made-in-Minutes Lunch 

 

I substitute-taught for high school this morning, and that means I was up at 5:30am. No sympathy from the rest of the working world, I’m sure, but it was so darn dark. Since most of the morning is spent waking myself up in the shower, desperately trying to figure out what to wear, and taking time for a nourishing breakfast, I’ve got little time to pack a sustaining lunch. (Oh you’re right, making something the night before makes a lot of sense, but what I had in mind would be soggy by morning, and I’m too picky for soggy). 

Hmm, leftover fettucine in the fridge with sautéed broccoli. Why not just bring that? Well, thanks to my ever-expanding Nutrition education, I know that my refined (i.e. white) pasta is going to break down quickly into glucose, giving me a little sugar rush for lunchtime but yawning through 5th and 7th period! Since complex carbohydrates contain fiber, they have so many ways to break down slowly in my body, releasing energy for me throughout the day. And when the morning starts that early, lunch comes at 11am, and I’ve got the rest of the day to stay awake. 

So what to make for lunch? I always, always, always have whole-wheat pita in the freezer, and this morning was no exception. While I defrosted it in the toaster oven, I made a quick, healthy cheese spread and to accompany avocado. 

In my favorite little mini food prep processor, I combined one container of crumbled goat cheese (though feta would be fantastic here) with three large roasted red peppers straight from the jar of, you guessed it: Trader’s Joe’s Roasted Red Peppers. This took about 10 seconds to combine, and could also be done in a blender I imagine. Put the rest in a little jar in the fridge; a great dip or spread for future lunches. 

I spooned my pepper-cheese spread (would be great with garlic or onion, but HELLO, not when you’re talking to people all day!) into one side of my pita, and mashed avocado on the other side. Smoosh together and DONE. I reeeeeally didn’t think I’d have time to make a good lunch, but this less-than-five-minute-prep turned out stupendous. And I was awake for the entirety of The Crucible, Act IV! There are endless variations to this idea, but in case you hadn’t thought outside of turkey and cheese on (insert your refined grain here) for a while, I was inspired to share this.  

One generous-sized, affordable-gourmet sandwich… Avacado: 74 cents, Large Whole-Wheat Pita: 35 cents, 1 Jarred Roasted Red Bell-Pepper: 43 cents, 4 oz. crumbled goat cheese $2.99… $4.51.  

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

If your avocado is really ripe, just mash it into your sandwich with spoon. This avocado wasn't mushy yet, so I made slices through each half, and scooped all the slices out at once with a large spoon.

Just add the avocado pieces to your cheese-pepper spread. You don't HAVE to mix these, but the peppers and crumbled cheese stay in the sandwich much easier as a spread. Little extra work and no added fat. Fresh basil on this sandwich makes it simply phenomenal.

A nutritional note about avocados. Yes avocados have fat, but in comparing sandwich ingredients… say 6 slices of avocado with one slice of cheese: 

SATURATED FAT: avocado 2 grams vs. cheese 4 grams 

UNSATURATED FAT*:  avocado 8 grams vs. cheese 4 grams 

TOTAL FAT: avocado 10 grams vs. cheese 8 grams 

These differences may seem minor in grams, but the greater nutritional value is in the avocado. And in our bodies, this all makes a major difference. (See nutritional note below).

An amazingly quick lunch, far more nutritious than the diet sodas and bags of chips in the staff lounge. I don’t say this to say my lunch was superior (though perhaps in flavor). I’m saying that it’s easy to believe there’s no time for a healthy lunch. But there is. And, honestly, I say if you’re going for healthy, you’re really going to need to make it yourself to control the sodium and fat content. 

This is why I started A Pear to Remember. I started this blog because I believe we can improve the quality of our lives by nourishing our bodies with delicious, home-prepared food.  I am not clinical nutritionist, and I am not here to offer health advice. I am, however, excited to share academic, scientific information to build our understanding of informed nutritious choices. The nutritional facts today are directly from the 8th Edition of Understanding Normal and Clinical Nutrition by Rolfes, Pinna, and Whitney.  

I love to eat, to cook, and to enjoy scrumptious food. Food that helps my heart? That just makes me happy.

And when Andrew says, “Good dinner, honey.” 

 

 

*a note about unsaturated fats–avocados are rich in monounsaturdated fats. “unsaturated” refers to the position of hydrogen bonds in fatty acids, which I won’t bore you with. the body is more easily able to break down unsaturated fats because of this structure. the many benefits of mono and polyunsaturated fats (vs. saturated) include preventing heart disease and lowering cholesterol. saturated fats are so saturated with hydrogen atoms, the body cannot break them down as easily.

trans fats do not occur in nature (meaning they can only be created in a lab), so the body also has a very difficult time breaking these down properly… picture little lego blocks floating through our blood. uck. trans fats remain in chunks in our system because the body does not recognize them. 

we’ll get into hydrogenation and trans fats some more another time… feel free to write with questions. I’m happy to provide resources for further information on fats.

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rainy days and mondays… perfect for pie

A very, very rainy Monday and I’ve got a lot of organic chemistry studying… oh, but then I opened up a new vegetarian cookbook from Aunt Debbie & family and saw this upside-down bell-pepper pie and well, you know what happened from there… 

The appeal of homemade pastry on a weeknight made so quickly in my food processor was too much to pass up. Plus, I know Andrew likes tomatoes, red onion, and bell peppers, so it seemed like perfect meal after a work day—to make everyone in our little home happy. 

 

The pastry dough was really soooo quick, and rests for the 30 minutes you’re prepping the veggies and pre-heating the oven. The fun thing about this pastry (besides the flour and buttermilk, eggs, baking powder, etc.) is the 1.5 cups of grated cheddar! It came out bready, as I expected, and I loved cheese bread as a special treat growing up.  

Our food processor (okay mine, but Andrew’s been taking advantage of it, too) is truly the most phenomenal tool in our kitchen. It takes the mess out of homemade pizza dough, and brought this “pie” dough together in less than 2 minutes. Really, really: If you’re an adventurer in the kitchen, a food processor is a worthwhile investment.  

  

Since I hadn’t tried this recipe before, I stuck with the recommended bell pepper, red onions, and tomatoes. If Andrew was into eggplant, it would be awesome on this pie, but while I was digging in to my dinner, dreaming of eggplant, he confessed to dreaming of a luscious meat topping.  

I’ve not taken true advantage of canned tomatoes in the past, but, sick of waiting for summer, I used whole unpeeled organic canned tomatoes here and oh the flavor!! I’ve read that whole unpeeled is the way to go when it comes to canned tomatoes, and here I just chopped them myself. Buying whole tomatoes ensures the prime tomatoes, not the discarded chopped bits, in your dish. Believe me, even in-season tomatoes could hardly compare to this rich intensity. 

 Though the recipe suggests throwing the peppers and onions and garlic into a high heat skillet, I was not fooled. Even when a recipe calls for sautéed garlic along with the onions or earliest ingredient, wait to add the garlic! Garlic browns to its beautiful fragrance in less than 60 seconds, where onions may take around 10 minutes. And once you burn the garlic, there’s no turning back. In this case, I browned the onions and peppers and added the chopped garlic to the hot oil just before adding the tomatoes. 

 I added in a bit of the paste-y sauce from the canned tomatoes, which bound the veggies together nicely and deglazed the pan a bit. I love deglazing: we’ll chat about it even more in the future, promise. 

The dough, after resting 30 minutes, was sticky, but not elastic at all. Once turned onto some floured parchment paper, it was simple to shape without a rolling pin. I don’t have a ruler (kitchen or otherwise), so I tried to estimate the circumference compared to my wooden spoon (we’re primitive here in Virginia), Well, I overshot just a bit , and made thicker edges once I shoved the dough along the sides of my skillet. 

The biggest mistake about my pie (a note in my cookbook may have helped!) is that this dough really needed to be rolled thin. Next time, I would press it out much more and use the leftovers for a little cheesebread dinner roll. 

“Sliding” the dough onto the skillet, over the veggies, was an adventure: 

 

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

Our household dishwasher (often nicknamed Andrew) appreciates a one-pan meal even more than me. You can imagine how thrilling this skillet pie was! Just 20 minutes in the oven… enough time to whip up a quick, creative salad. 

 

So maybe it’s not uber creative, but the quickest 3-ingredient salad is as follows: 

 

 

1. Grapefruit. If you happen upon an amaaaaazingly juicy red one like I lucked out on tonight, boy are you in for an extra treat. Just peel off the skin and membrane with a small sharp knife—do this over a bowl and keep those juices!

2. Ripe avocado. It’s so tricky to cut an avocado neatly. Yep, I could go into the technique for ya, but tonight I didn’t quite feel like taking my time. Slices of avocado, or chunks, is just fine. 

3. Greens. Arugula is ideal, but Andrew isn’t a huge fan, so tonight I just picked up a head of red-leaf lettuce. The combination wasn’t as delectable as with arugula, but it was still a great salad. 

Combine the three ingredients on your plate and top with the grapefruit juice and a sprinkle of avocado oil (not as expensive or difficult find at Whole Foods). Chili oil is a great combination, if you can handle it. We can’t, so I omitted it upon this version and it was still light and delicious. Now, this salad was not really thought out to complement this meal, but with grapefruits and avocados so ripe at the store… I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to make this salad!  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

This is a great salad to make as the warm weather makes these delightful ingredients more available. And 20 minutes was more than enough to put it together. 

 

Fully cooked in about 19 minutes, lightly brown and moist inside. But now the flip! 

needs a man.

 

believe me, this skillet is REALLY heavy.

 

  

voila.

 

 

Looks like pizza, but it was more like a tomato-onion tart on a mild-cheesy dough. Next time, thinner for sure. But still delicious, and a nice little break from studying 😀 

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