Thursday, August 22, 2013

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things...

There are some tools in my kitchen that I would be loathe to part from (name that movie reference!).  Now, everyone is different and at various stages of kitchen gadget procurement.  But here are some of my favs.

Here's what I use on a regular basis:

Cuisinart Food Processor.  I got mine @ Macy's several years ago and I love it for making hummus and spreads and chopping or grating large quantities of veggies.  Oh, it also is awesome for making scones and other small baking tasks.  I don't have a stand mixer and honestly haven't felt I've needed one with this food processor.  Now a Vitamix?  That's a different story and I'm saving my pennies for one someday.



Microplane Zester.  Perfect for zesting citrus and grating nutmeg and garlic (please wash the tool in between those tasks, won't you?).  It's super easy to use and a very reasonably priced kitchen gadget.


Cutco Knives.  I know everyone has their preference and these are the only knives I've used in the last 6 years but I've been super impressed with them.  They are sharp as the dickens so do be careful!  Even if you can't afford to get a set of good knives, I'd encourage you to get at least one really good knife.  You'll find it will do wonders for your ingredient prep.  And they say that sharp knives are actually safer than dull ones. But still be careful!


Citrus Squeezer.  Perfect for lemons and limes.  I use this a ton.  It keeps the seeds from getting in your guacamole or lemonade and don't we all want that?  Plus it is such a cheery yellow one can't help but feel enthused while using it.


Polyflax Cutting Board.  This is such a wonderful-sized cutting board, fits in the dishwasher and has been a workhorse in my kitchen for many years.  


Garlic Press.  Perfect for when you don't want your hands smelling all garlicky from mincing up garlic.  I don't have this exact one.  I got mine from Crate and Barrel years ago but they don't sell it anymore.


Crate and Barrel Dishtowels.  Ok, confession time.  I absolutely ADORE C&Bs dishtowels.  When I'm in that neck of the woods I always stop to see if they have any on sale (they usually do--dangerous!).  These are not fluffy dishtowels but I love how quickly they dry and how durable they are--I've had one for 5 years and it's still colorful and serviceable.  This one with the apple pie recipe is so adorable (I don't have it but am sorely tempted).

VeraApplePieRcpDshtwlF13


What are some of your favorite kitchen tools/gadgets?

Cheerily,
Amy


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Vibrant Veggie Sandwich

Sometimes all we need is a sandwich.  And if it can be chock-full of flavor and vibrant veggies, so much the better!

And because I can't resist a little Jane Austen on this very fine Tuesday evening, "well, I never compliment myself, but my friends tell me I certainly know how to make a sandwich."  Love that Mrs. Elton.



Whole wheat bread is toasted (can we all just take a moment to ponder the wondrousness of toast? Simply toasting a piece of humble bread can elevate it to new heights.  Come to think of it toasting and roasting are really the secret weapons of making simple foods taste amazing.  Good thing fall is around the corner.  We'll be roasting our socks off!)



Instead of mayo, cheese and meat, we opt for a skinnier version--hummus, avocado and slices of vine-ripe heirloom tomatoes that produce so much luscious juice we have to gobble our sandwiches up quickly lest they get soggy.


Sandwiches are another "blank canvas" menu item that can be customized to your tastes and liking.  Don't care for onion?  Leave them out.  Want to add pickles?  Go for it!  I love, love, love adding a sprinkle of chopped pecans on my veggie sandwiches.  They give the sandwich some crunch and richness.

Ok, it kinda looks like I spread peanut butter
on the bread on the left.  I promise it is hummus!

And by all means, do add some greens on your sandwich.  It doesn't have to be a limp piece of iceberg lettuce.  Go crazy and pile on the spinach!  Or arugula!  Or microgreens!  Or fresh herbs!



So go all in and make yerself a delectable sandwich.  Another perk?  Slap it together in five minutes and chow down.  That's a very important quality in my book.


Vibrant Veggie Sandwich
*Serves 1
*Prep time: 5 minutes
*Kitchen gear required: knife, cutting board

Ingredients:
2 slices whole-wheat bread, toasted
1 Tbsp. hummus (I used the spicy hummus from Trader Joe's)
1 heirloom or other vine-ripened tomato, sliced
1 slice sweet onion
1/2 avocado, sliced
1 Tbsp. chopped pecans
Handful of washed spinach
Freshly ground black pepper

Ready, set, go!
1.  Toast your bread and slather with hummus and avocado slices, sprinkle with pepper
2.  Slice your tomato and onion and layer on bread
3.  Top with spinach and make into a sandwich.  Cut and enjoy the deliciousness!

Cheerily,
Amy

P.S.  What kinds of sandwiches do you all enjoy?  Pray, do tell!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Remember that old rhyme, "Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?"  My little patio garden is still alive (for now).  Fingers crossed it stays that way!  If only I didn't always forget to water the poor little darlings.



I dusted off the gardening gloves last weekend and planted a much-needed herb box and gussied up the patio a wee bit.  Of course my mint is flourishing like it always does.  Perfect for making my cucumber mint water!



Having beauty just outside my doorstep makes me happy.  And fingers crossed my zucchini plant makes it. I surely wish I had a green thumb but hey, that can be cultivated, right?

Grow lil' buddy!  You can do it!
I'm enjoying my Sunday ever so much.  Church, a nap, menu planning and a long run.  Practically perfect in every way.  I'm looking forward to dusting off the camera (and my brain) and getting back to cooking.

Cheerily,
Amy

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Feel The Burn

Sweat is dripping off me and pooling on my scuffed and dirty blue yoga mat.  And I mean pooling like I'm in a sauna.  The boom box is playing Numb by Linkin Park and it's pretty much as if my muscles are singing to me, "we...have...become...so...numb!"  Hello Boot Camp!

As a former college distance runner, I used to be pretty proud of my fitness level.  However, that was (ahem) quite a few years ago and let's face it, it's harder to be motivated to maintain that kind of fitness when you aren't getting paid to do it!  So the years have marched on and my once-prized calf and quad muscles have seen better days.

I've done some road races here and there but I'm not gonna lie--it's been demoralizing at times and a huge mental battle for me to race and be infinitely slower that I was when I was running like it was my full-time job. I'm working on overcoming this ridiculousness but it's been a challenge for me.

NOTE GLARING ABSENCE OF PHOTOS OF ME EXERCISING.  NO ONE WANTS TO SEE THAT, TRUST ME.

Here, look at this cute cat instead.  She is not dripping with sweat and looking like she is going to kill the person taking the picture.  How serene and peaceful she looks.



Where am I going with all this?  Diet goes hand in hand with exercise.  Eating healthy is awesome and totally groovy but I've found that (for me, at least) I've got to combine it with some good, dig-deep-and-try-not-to-throw-up exercise time.  I got an eight-week Groupon deal to a local boot camp that my co-workers go to and it is knocking my socks off.  It's horrible and wonderful at the time time, much like a 10-mile training run used to be and I hope can be in the future.

But here's the deal, folks, you've got to do something that you ENJOY and that motivates you to keep going. I honestly needed a break from running (well, so did my nagging back injuries but that's for another post) and now that I'm working on a basic level of fitness I look forward to getting back to that.  If you love Zumba (I do, I do!), then dance your little heart out.  If it's biking, walking, swimming, basketball, yoga, circuit-training, boot camp, whatever...just do it.  Wait, I think that's a copyrighted phrase.

Cheerily,
Amy


Sunday, August 11, 2013

I'm still here...really, I am!

I interrupt this shocking delay in blog posting to let you know that I'm still here.  Just swamped with work, life, spring cleaning and organizing (a few months late but whatevs) and a lovely bout of the flu.  But it hasn't been all bad. There's been family get-togethers, kitchen remodeling at The Homestead (aka my parents house), finishing the third season of Arrested Development (how have I lived this long without this arsenal of splendid quotables), and my foray into the wonderful (and painful) world of bootcamp fitness training.  Oh and a new piece of kitchen-related art that I am over the moon about.  Here's a hint:  two words: Kenton.Nelson 

Actually add a couple more words:  My.Sister.Is.Too.Nice.To.Me.  

I haven't forgotten about you all and promise to return soon.  My kitchen has a pouty face because I haven't turned on a burner for two weeks.  Which makes me wonder...what have I been eating lately if I haven't been cooking? Yikes!

I shall return!  In the meantime, I'd love to get your ideas/comments/suggestions on what you'd like to see posts about!

Love and hugs,
Amy

P.S.  This picture makes me happy.  It's from a trip to a beautiful farmer's market in San Francisco a couple years ago with my sister.  Note to self: get thee to the farmer's market pronto!