Tag Archives: quick dinners

#BetterGoodThings- Marathon Lasagna Rolls

28 Apr #BetterGoodThings: Marathon Lasagna Rolls- a healthier and easier lasagna with bison and cottage cheese

#BetterGoodThings: Marathon Lasagna Rolls- a healthier and easier lasagna with bison and cottage cheese

 

Yikes!  The disorganization of my mind is spilling directly over onto the blog.

Guess what day it isn’t?

It isn’t the third Thursday of the month.  That’s the day that Better Good Things is supposed to grace the headlines on the blog, but this month that day rolled by long ago in what was a haze of Boston Marathon prep for me (and STAAR test madness for Evin).  Just to be clear- that didn’t mean that I didn’t create and share this recipe with my family in time for my deadline… it just meant I forget about y’all.

*hangs head in shame and looks up with endearingly sad puppy-dog eyes*

I am sorry.  I’m the blogging equivalent of your super flakey friend this month.

You know the friend who always makes really ambitious, elaborate plans with you to go on a fabulous girls’ trip in the not-too-distant future and then becomes vaguely busy the closer the date grows?  Yeah.  That one.  (Which reminds me- I think I might be slightly committed to trips to both the Amalfi Coast and Vegas that I need to start side stepping out of pretty soon… because I’m totally busy… with things.)

For April, Evin and I chose to “better up” lasagna- a beloved favorite in many a kitchen- which launched us into a great philosophical debate.  Are we “easying up” healthy things or “healthying up” easy things when we are engaged in our “bettering?”  And really, how do you define healthy?  And what is actually considered easy?

Too many questions.

Honestly, who knows!  I love that we went with Better Good Things in place of Healthier or Easier because it just means that we can make it whatever the heck we need it to be that month.  Whenever we want for that matter as we’ve so proved a good 10+ days late.

As luck would have it, this month better means both healthier and easier in my book.  I created lasagna rolls that make portioning easy (hooray!) and that cut back on the fat while upping the protein ante with cottage cheese in place of obscene amounts of ricotta and mozz as well as bison in the place of beef.  It’s pretty amazing, it packs well for lunch, and it can be frozen in the pre-bake stage for later use.

To make matters even better on my end, this became the only non-bland pre-race meal my husband could stand in the week leading up to Boston so we have dubbed them Marathon Lasagna Rolls.  They will definitely keep their place on our pre-race menu from here on out!

Looking for Evin’s lasagna take?  Standardized testing for elementary students really sucks, so she hasn’t gotten around to it because cheering her son through an unnecessarily stressful testing situation is way more important than getting creative with lasagna noodles.  Everyone say a prayer, light a candle, or rake your Zen garden for The Boy over at Food Good Laundry Bad as he braves the testing gauntlet!  When she’s got hers up I’ll update and share the link.

 

*UPDATED*  Evin rocked this month with Slow Cooker Lasagna which she claims is “not a recipe.”  Part recipe, part how-to, it’s 100% genius and definitely an idea that I’m glad to have in my arsenal for busy days!

 

#BetterGoodThings: Marathon Lasagna Rolls- a healthier and easier lasagna with bison and cottage cheese

Gimme a break- Rolled up pasta isn’t inherently gorgeous… but it is really yummy!

Marathon Lasagna Rolls

  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbs dried parsley flakes
  • 1 tbs dried oregano
  • 1 tbs dried basil
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried marjoram
  • 1 lb ground bison
  • 12-15 lasagna noodles
  • 10 oz ricotta
  • 2/3 cup small curd cottage cheese
  • 2/3 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan
  • 1 jar organic marinara
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil

Directions: Heat 1 tbs of oil over medium heat.  Saute the onion and cloves until soft and fragrant.  Add the bison to the pan.  Over medium/medium-high heat, break up bison into large pieces.  Add spices and cook through, breaking up into small pieces as you cook.  Season with additional salt and pepper as desired while browning meat.  Set aside.

Bring a pot of water to boil.  Add lasagna noodles, along with a dollop of olive oil, and boil for about 6 minutes.  Drain.

In a large bowl, combine ricotta, cottage cheese, shredded mozzarella, grated parmesan, and the ground bison mixture.

Grease a 9×13 baking dish with olive oil.

Working with one lasagna noodle at a time, lay out each noodle and spread with a generous 2 tbs of filling.  Roll up and place in baking dish.  Once baking dish is full, top lasagna rolls with sauce and cover with foil.

Bake at 400 for 30 min.

To freeze in individual portions: Follow the recipe directions through assembly but instead of preparing it in a 9×13 baking dish, spread them out on a cookie sheet to flash freeze them. Once they are mostly frozen (30 minutes to 1 hour), place them into freezer bags and freeze. When serving, place your preferred number of frozen lasagna rolls in a baking dish and top with sauce. Put foil over baking dish and bake at 350 for 60 minutes, or until heated through. The time will vary based on number of rolls.

Beef and Quinoa Taco Bowl with The Mother of All Taco Seasoning

25 Mar The Mother of All Homemade Taco Seasoning

Beef and Quinoa Taco Bowl- Perfect for endurance athletes!

Here we are y’all… a month past Austin Marathon and I’m still avoiding writing about it.  I’ll get there, but there are so many other things going one and the fact that it doesn’t really count as a race because I basically strolled through the second half makes it feel pretty unnecessary to even recap.  Besides, I’m SO BEHIND on recipes right now it seems the recap will have to be squeezed in amidst far more interesting and yummy topics.

And, since I’ve currently got a backlog of recipes half written and ready to post, this is the perfect time to delay them further to write about what I’m making a this very moment in my kitchen.  Obviously, that makes perfect sense!

Boston Marathon is just a month away, so logically The Hubs is facing an achilles injury with less than four weeks before he has to line up in Hopkinton.  No bueno!  Luckily, we’ve got a little time and a lot of awesome resources so we aren’t concerned.   Who needs long road runs when you’ve got access to an AlterG and 3 hour aqua jogs (in a 25 meter pool none the less… The Hubs has deemed it the “actual insanity workout”)?  Dedication and hard work trump perfect circumstances every time, mostly because perfect circumstances don’t exist.

What does this have to do with food?  Major changes in training intensity this close to a race coupled with an injury mean we need to keep a careful eye on his weight and nutrition- even more than usual.  Every calorie has to count big time in terms of nutrient density.  Which means bye bye to refined carbs and the sugary treats that he loves to sneak!  I have to make sure he is satisfied and nourished enough that he doesn’t have the desire to snag a candy treat when I’m not around.

It also means making dinners that can be packed up as lunches for the next day because I’ve got my hands full at night ensuring I pack the right combination of snacks to keep him full… but not too full.

Last week, I brought a tray of my made-over mac and cheese to my friend Laura’s house for a lunch playdate, and she served me a quinoa side dish very similar to the one I feature here that I promptly mixed in with my serving of mac- and it was delicious.  I quickly realized that the concept of her quinoa side dish would be a versatile one that I could draw on for years to come.  As I made my menu plan for the coming week, the memory of that little quinoa side kept shouting at me in my brain “Top me with ground beef and serve me over salad!”

If you’re a distance runner or endurance athlete, you’re probably pretty familiar with skillet style meals- brown some meat, dump in beans and tomatoes, and serve over rice.  While easy, I’m not a huge fan because skillet meals lack texture or color interest- they are meals of necessity and not enjoyment.  This beef and quinoa taco bowl is just as easy, but far more flavorful and offers levels of interest for your eyes and your palate.

I make my own taco seasoning, and you should too.  Mine is spicier and smokier than the one my friend Laura makes and serves mixed straight into the quinoa , but that’s the beauty of making your own spice mixes- you can make them perfectly to your liking.  I served the beef and quinoa over mixed baby herb greens, but you can just as easily use it to stuff an tomato, a pepper, or an avocado… or wrap it up in a spelt tortilla.  Top it according to your nutritional needs and taste preferences- plain kefir (instead of sour cream), queso fresco, or diced avocado.

The Mother of All Homemade Taco Seasoning

Homemade Taco Seasoning

  • 2 tbs chipotle chili powder
  • 1 tsp smoked sweet paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp organic sugar
  • 1 tsp Chihuahua de Mexico wood smoked salt
  • 1/2 tsp smoked tomato powder

Directions: Mix all spices in bowl to combine.  Store in an airtight container.

Beef and Quinoa Taco Bowl- Perfect for endurance athletes!

Beef and Quinoa Taco Bowl

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups water or veggie broth
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbs+ of homemade taco seasoning
  • 1 lime
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, diced
  • 1/4 cup packed cilantro leaves, finely chopped
  • 1/4 a small red onion, finely diced
  • 1 lb grassfed, lean ground beef
  • grapeseed oil
  • serving options: plain kefir, queso fresco, mixed baby greens, avocado

Directions: Rinse quinoa well and drain thoroughly.  Bring veggie broth or water to a boil in a small saucepan.  Add quinoa and I smashed garlic clove to the broth.  Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 15-20 minutes until most of liquid is absorbed.  Remove from heat, uncover and fluff with a fork.

Thinly slice remaining garlic clove. Saute sliced garlic in a dollop of grapeseed oil for 2 minutes until fragrant but not browned.  Over medium/medium-high heat, add ground beef  and break up into large pieces.  Add taco seasoning (add seasoning to taste, I like to start with 2 tbs) and cook through, breaking up into small pieces as you cook.  If desired, season with additional salt while browning meat.

Line a colander with paper towels and pour in ground beef to drain off/ absorb any unnecessary fat.

In a large bowl, toss together quinoa, corn, onion, tomatoes, and cilantro.  Squeeze lime juice into quinoa mixture and toss to mix thoroughly.

Serve quinoa on a bed of greens, topped with beef and additional toppings of your choice.

 

Quinoa Bowl with Black Beans and Grapefruit

13 Jan Quinoa Bowl with Black Beans, Grapefruit, Avocado and Kefir- Go Running, Mama!

Last week I intended to post about my goals for this year.  Actually, I planned to post within a few day of my recap of last year’s goals but I just hadn’t seemed to settle on measurable parameters quickly enough to do so.  Then I meant to get them typed up this weekend.  And again today…

Maybe one of my goals should actually be typing up and airing my goals?

In reality, two of my very huge goals for this year are putting my family (That include ME!  I’m a part of that family so my needs are going to become more important too!) ahead of everything else and being honest with myself about each day’s “must do’s” as opposed “like to do’s.”  Guess where my goals blog post falls?

What was a “must do” today were some household responsibilities and then allowing Roomba to do my vacuuming while I enjoyed some crafting and  outdoor time with Austin’s most natural gardener.

Go Running, Mama!

Seriously.  That adorable little one wins every time.  And I’m not allowing unnecessary responsibilities to make me feel bad about that anymore.

And, of course, dinner was on that “must do” list as well.  After a day of play and a later than expected work evening for The Hubs it really became a “must do quick” sort of task.  So I kept it quick and dirty easy and healthy.

Quinoa, kefir sauce, black beans, mashed avocados, and grapefruit… in a pretty little pile on a plate. Done and done.

And now I’m off… because sleep is topping my “must do” list right now!

Bonsoir!

Quinoa Bowl with Black Beans, Grapefruit, Avocado and Kefir- Go Running, Mama!

Quinoa Bowl with Black Beans and Grapefruit

Ingredients

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 can Eden Organics BPA free black beans
  • 2 grapefruit
  • 2 avocados
  • 2 limes
  • 1/2 yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 1 cup plain kefir
  • 1/3 cup chopped cilantro leaves
  • 1/3 cup green onions, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, sliced (optional)
  • salt
  • pepper

Directions

Rinse the quinoa well in a strainer until water runs clear.  Add to a sauces pan with vegetable broth and  bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes.  Remove from heat, uncover, and fluff with a fork.  Set quinoa aside to cool.

Drain and rinse black beans.

In a small bowl, mash avocados with a fork.  Add juice from one lime, diced yellow bell pepper and salt to taste.  Set aside.

In another small bowl mix kefir, juice from one lime, cilantro, green onion, and salt to taste. Set aside.

Cut the pith and peel from the grapefruits.  Using a paring knife, remove each grapefruit section.

To serve, assemble ingredients in a bowl- quinoa, kefir sauce, black beans, guacamole, and grapefruit sections.

If storing, keep ingredients separate and assemble when serving.

Healthy Orzo Pasta with Broccoli Pesto

6 Jan Healthy Orzo Pasta with Broccoli Pesto- Go Running, Mama!

Healthy Orzo Pasta with Broccoli Pesto- Go Running, Mama!

It’s a new year and, as I focus on finalizing my goals for 2014 by adding quantifiable terms, I’m also focused on creating meals that are quick, cost-effective, and- most importantly- nutrient dense as The Hubs kicks it into gear for his racing streak.  This orzo dish is super simple and packs a serious nutrient punch from broccoli, cauliflower, avocado, kefir, and pine nuts.

There is the issue of the bacon.  It certainly doesn’t get the “healthy” label and totally isn’t necessary to the integrity of the completed dish.  But I add it.  Because The Hubs specifically asks for it.  And because bacon.

Whether you enjoy it sans-bacon or fully loaded, I’m sure you will enjoy it on a busy night where you are still crazing nutrient rich, homemade fare.  And you’ll continue to enjoy it the next day because it makes a stellar leftovers lunch as well.

Enjoy!

Healthy Orzo Pasta with Broccoli Pesto- Go Running, Mama!

Orzo Pasta with Broccoli Pesto

Ingredients:

  • 6 slices of bacon cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups orzo pasta
  • 4 cups raw broccoli cut into small florets and stems
  • 1 cup cauliflower cut into small florets and stems
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2/3 cups pine nuts
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 limes
  • 1/3 cup olive oil + more for pasta water
  • 1/4 cup plain kefir
  • 1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and cubed
  • sea salt

Directions: Spread bacon in a single layer in a large skillet and cook over medium heat until browned, stirring frequently, about 20 minutes.  Transfer to paper towels to drain.

Prepare the orzo according to directions, adding a glug of olive oil to the water to help keep pasta from sticking together.  Drain, rinse with cold water, and drain well once more, removing to a separate bowl.

Add 3/4 cup water to the pot and bring to a boil.  Add a large pinch of salt to the water and stir in the broccoli and cauliflower.  Cover and cook for 1 minute to soften ever so slightly.  Quickly drain the veggies in a strainer and run under cold water to stop them from cooking.  Drain well.

Grate the zest of one lime and set aside.

Combine two cups of the cooked broccoli (avoid the cauliflower florets for texture reasons), the garlic, 1/3 cup of the pine nuts, the parm, 1/4 tsp sea salt, and 2 generous tbs of lime juice in the food processor.  Add the olive oil and kefir and pulse until smooth.

Toss the orzo, bacon, and remaining veggies.  Add the pesto and lime zest and toss to coat.  Fold in the avocado gently before serving.

Makes 6-8 adult dinner portions.

Top 13 in 2013

2 Jan My 5 Favorite Posts of 2013- Go Running, Mama!

This blog has been a new adventure for me and, even though it only covered the second half of the year, I thought it would be interesting to take a look back at my 13 most popular posts of 2013.

It’s been a lot of fun sharing, and I’m excited about another year with y’all!

Top 13 posts in 2013- Go Running, Mama!

13. Exhaustion, Smoothie Pick Me Ups, and a Virtual Half Marathon Comedy of Errors (September)- Forgetting water during a high altitude half marathon, finding out I had mono, and the smoothies that got me through the ordeal!

12. Carrot Top Tacos (July)- Spiced carrots and beans with carrot top chimichurri.  Never, ever waste your carrot tops again.

11. Maple Bacon Biscuits (September)-  Maple.  Bacon. Biscuit.  Trifecta.

10. Gifts from the Heart: Apple Cinnamon Ornaments (December)- An ultra non-toxic clay that makes heavenly scented ornaments or an amazing material for sensory play.

9.  #FirstontheFirst Spiced Pumpkin Cake with Penuche Frosting (October)- We were supposed to make candy, but I cheated and frosted a very yummy cake with this praline-esque frosting.

8. #FirstontheFirst Gateau Larsson (September)- My Scandinavian twist on a traditional Basque dessert.

7.  Gifts from the Heart: Baking Soda Clay Ornaments (December)- These smooth ornaments are an inexpensive (and toddler friendly) alternative to a trip to a ceramics studio.

6. Creamy Garlic Kefir Pasta (July)- A probiotic packed easy meal.

5. Cinnamon Quinoa Lunchbox Bars (August)- Lunchbox snacks don’t get much healthier.

4. Meeska… Mooska… Mouseka Cakes: Zucchini Quinoa Lunchbox Patties (August)- Healthy food tastes even better in Mickey Mouse form.

3. #FirstontheFirst Candy Canes for Cheaters (December)- Once again, we were supposed to make candy.  And I didn’t.  But I think you’ll forgive me when you taste these cookies.

2. Frosty the Cheese Man: Snowman Cheese Ball with Hand Cut Tortilla Chips (December)- The most adorable, toddler friendly appetizer you’ll ever bring to a gathering.

1. Gifts from the Heart: Homemade Ornaments– Salt dough ornaments are a classic go-to holiday activity.

Looking for even more fun?  Here are my five favorite posts you may have missed this year…

My 5 Favorite Posts of 2013- Go Running, Mama!

Breaking Bread and Cheddar Garlic Drop Biscuits

24 Sep Go Running, Mama: Cheddar Garlic Drop Biscuits

I’m sure everyone has heard the saying “The best parents are those without kids” right? Man is that ever true! I’m not meaning it is a catty way here- I’m sure every parent can rattle off a dozen instances that a well meaning childless friend has yammered on in platitudes about how to raise the ideal, well adjusted child- and instead am thinking of all the ways I set myself up for parenting failures, disappointments and otherwise mega-frazzled moments by constructing rigid rules based on what “all the experts and research say” makes the best kid.

By now I’ve learned that the “best kid” is a well adjusted child with a mom who isn’t totally freaking out about how every little detail might derail her future trajectory to multilingual, violin playing, eco-sensitive rocket scientist success.  There is nothing more contagious than stress and anxiety, but I had my share of early parenting moments where I was thinking micro instead of macro.

For starters- We were a “cloth diaper or die” family. Honestly it wasn’t too much extra work in our everyday lives since I’m a stay at home mom, but it did make traveling tough. I was still at a point where I couldn’t allow myself to move away from not cloth diapering for a brief moment in time. It’s what is best for my child. I kept fretting. It’s what’s best for the environment. For some reason, I was convinced that using a disposable diaper would condemn me to early parenting failure. I would be a quitter.

And the last thing a hyper-hormonal, post partum woman needs is to feel like a quitter.

So when we moved from Chicago to Austin and the washer and dryer didn’t arrive for over a week, I insisted on hand washing and line drying all of our diapers while caring for an infant. I nearly lost my mind. More importantly, I think I also nearly drove my husband out of his. Boxes to unpack, damaged items to catalogue, 110 degree temperatures, and a crazy woman greeting him at the end of each day wearing a baby in a carrier and silently weeping over the fact that the diapers weren’t soft enough when they line dried. In reality, it probably wasn’t as bad as I’m picturing… but then again maybe it was.

It didn’t matter. I couldn’t give myself a break or cut myself some slack. I wasn’t ready for that yet. I wasn’t confident enough in my mothering abilities to realize that giving myself the flexibility to make changes in my style and unrealistic expectations wasn’t going to ruin my child. But time progressed… and I learned to relax. We took a few vacations during which I allowed myself to use disposable diapers. When Baby Bird moved up to trainers and the cloth ones we purchased were too big for her little thigh, I allowed myself to switch to disposables. Now she would fit into cloth trainers, but I’ve kept her in Honest Company training pants (which makes me feel less bad about my cloth diaper divorce) because I’m okay with not having to do the extra load of laundry.

Okay… so I could be swayed on types of diapers, but there was no way I was going to fold on my next parenting ideal- facilitating Baby Bird growing up in a world devoid of pink washing.

Go Running, Mama!: Breaking Bread- Cheddar Drop Biscuits

Growing up without gender biases ROCKS!

When we found out we were having a girl, I declared that we would remain gender neutral and not impose traditional roles and gender expectations. Nothing pink… nothing rhinestone… nothing princess… which worked for awhile. We were even able to manage a very gender neutral “SXSW” themed first birthday. Shortly after said birthday Baby Bird’s independent personality arrived which, as it turns out, is pink with sparkles and a tiara on top.  Eeek!

Thankfully this wasn’t my first go round with allowing myself flexibility on my staunchly decided upon parenting methods, and I quickly realized that allowing Baby Bird the opportunity to be who she wanted to be from day to day was far better and wiser than the alternative- denying her personality in the name of keeping pink zebra light up shoes away from a formative little girl.

Go Running, Mama!: Breaking Bread- Cheddar Drop Biscuits

When Baby Bird has her say in celebration terms…

And her preferred footwear is still sneakers- pink… but sneakers none the less.  Because she loved to run and jump and dig and build and poke things with sticks.  And even though this year’s Halloween costume wish list reads like the cast of a Disney Princess movie, she asked to be “a runner like Daddy” for Halloween last year.

Go Running, Mama: Breaking Bread and Cheddar Drop Biscuits

We were also a screen free family. When we moved into our home, there was no television. Well… there was a television that was only hooked up to a computer or antenna for Olympics or similar sporting events. I was determined that Baby Bird would grow up with an authentically Waldorf early childhood. When we purchased her an Innotab for a flight, I felt phenomenally guilty. When I learned that she could navigate my iPhone just from watching me and select the music she preferred I was distraught- obviously I relied too much on technology.

One day when she wasn’t feeling well and I had a mountain of email and product review blogging to catch up on, I snuggled Baby Bird on my lap, opened two separate windows on the monitor and let her watch an episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. That day she fell in love with Mickey Mouse and learned to count to twelve… from a television program. I was simultaneously horrified, aggravated, and relieved.  I little bit of the right kind of screen time wasn’t going to ruin my child.

Go Running, Mama!: Breaking Bread and Cheddar Drop Biscuits

Baby Bird meets her hero

After that, the iPhone wasn’t off limits all the time.  iPads weren’t evil.  Computers are positive tools.  And television? I allowed Baby Bird to watch a program here or there. Her brain didn’t rot. She didn’t become commercially dependent, media obsessed, inactive, or uncreative.

Though we didn’t go all in and subscribe to cable or satellite, we plugged the television back in and bought a Roku box. It hasn’t kept us from engaging in activities as a family. Every meal isn’t spent glued to a program. We are still happy, healthy people. We break bread together in a civilized manner.

And the hubs and I aren’t above binge watching a series every now and then when Baby Bird is otherwise disposed… which is how we became Breaking Bad devotees. And how we ended up glued to our television at 6 am on Monday morning watching “Granite Slate”- because we can’t watch it live without cable, so we had to wait until the moment it was available on Amazon Prime the next morning. So… I’d call that pretty darn devoted for “screen free” folks.

Devoted enough that when Baby Bird sees the series promo photos pop up in the corner of Amazon Prime each time we open it she will exclaim “That’s Breaking Bread!”

Yes, Baby Bird… yes. That is Breaking Bread.

I’m not going to correct her. I’d far prefer she think I’m watching a show about eating meals together than a show about meth.

In the end, that’s just good parenting, right?

And below? A gratuitous drop biscuit recipe. Because a post about “Breaking Bread” requires the world’s easiest- and tastiest- carbohydrate option.

If Heisenberg wrote a drop biscuit recipe, this would be it.

Go Running, Mama: Cheddar Garlic Drop Biscuits

Cheddar Garlic Biscuits

  • 1 3/4 c all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbs + 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp traditional Herbes de Provence (excluding the lavander often included in Americanized versions)
  • 3 tbs palm shortening
  • 4 tbs cold butter, cut into small cubes + more for to brish baked biscuits
  • 1 1/3 c shredded cheddar cheese
  • 3/4 c whole milk

Directions: Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Pulse dry ingredients in the bowl of a food processor to combine. Add the shortening and pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the butter forms pea sized chunks.

Transfer to a mixing bowl. Stir in cheese and milk and mix until well combined taking care not to overwork the dough.

Drop scant 1/4 cup portions onto a baking sheet lined in parchment. Bake 13-17 minutes, until golden.

If desired, melt 2 tbs butter and brush tops of baked biscuits with a pastry brush.

Makes a dozen biscuits.

Zucchini Pie with Zucchini Lattice Crust

7 Aug Go Running, Mama!- Zucchini Pie with Zucchini Lattice Top

I love Whole Foods Market.  Have I mentioned that yet?  If I haven’t I apologize because I think it is one of those facts about me that is essential to know in order to fully grasp my personality.  When I say I love Whole Foods, I’m not throwing the word around is a flippant manner… it is a love with a purity so inspiring and real I’m shocked I haven’t written and published a book of odes about it.  I love it.

When our family moves (which we have a tendency to do) or we select a vacation hotel, proximity to the closest Whole Foods is always a top three factor.  If you’re close to a WHole Foods, you’re always guaranteed easy access to healthy, tasty fare that is often far more reasonably priced than respectable restaurant meal that you could purchase elsewhere of equal quality.

I know people like to refer to it as “Whole Paycheck” because if you try to shop there the way many people are used to shopping major discount grocery chains it is going to cost you an arm and a leg!  Shopping Whole Foods requires you to shop smarter and figure out where your food dollars are best spent… and then not waste money on filler junk that you shouldn’t buy anywhere anyways.  Plus where else can you conveniently find coconut aminos, soy free miso, bulk heirloom dried beans, and a fishmonger stocked on sustainability practices in one place?

Don’t need any of those items above and still think it’s an unjustifiable budget breaker? Then clearly you haven’t discovered The Whole Deal. The Whole Deal is WFM’s monthly coupon flyer which is very useful for the savings it offers, but is even better for the budget recipes it shares each month.  There are quite a few meals in frequent rotation at our house that were inspired by Whole Deal recipes all under $4 a serving.

This month’s Whole Deal featured a Feat and Zucchini Pie that they calculate at $1.44 per serving… if it’s cut into 8 servings.  I’ve tweaked it a bit, upping the zucchini content, adding a zucchini lattice top, and sprinkling some spices to give it appeal to my family’s palate… so maybe now it’s $2 per serving when it’s cut into 8 servings.  In reality, I feel like this would feed four adults and one toddler (or 4.5 people!?)  which would make it around $3.55 per serving.  Not too shabby a price for a healthy meal packed with the season’s plentiful squash crop… and it would be even cheaper if you luck onto a sale or happen to grow a little zucchini in your backyard.

A pretty tasty deal indeed!

Go Running, Mama!- Zucchini Pie with Zucchini Lattice Top

Zucchini Pie with Zucchini Lattice Crust

  • 2 lbs zucchini (about 3 meium zucchini)
  • 2 tbs all purpose flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 6 oz crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 frozen  or homemade pie crust

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Cut both ends off of one zucchini.  Using a mandoline slicer, slice that zucchini lengthwise thinly to prepare enough slices for the lattice top (I used about 16 slices- it will vary depending on length of your zucchini) and reserve remaining zucchini to grate.  Stack slices into two stacks based on width- this will help you to pair overlapping strips when topping to pie with lattice work.

Position a box grater over a kitchen towel. Grate remaining zucchini onto the towel.  Gather the shredded zucchini in the towel and wring over the sink to remove excess liquid.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk eggs and flour.  Stir in cheese, zucchini, and spices.  Mix well to combine.

Pour mixture into pie crust shell.  Using lattice technique (Simply Recipes has a great photo tutorial– you would basically start with step two) top the pie with zucchini strips, overlapping strips as needed to cover length of pie taking care to use strips of similar widths when overlapping.  Crimp the edges of the pie crust down over the exposed outside edges of the zucchini strips.

Go Running, Mama!- Zucchini Pie with Zucchini Lattice Top

Bake for 50-55 minutes until firm.

Serves (realistically) 4 adults and a toddler.

Get to Know Your Grains: Pearl Barley (Barley Salad with Tomatoes and Peaches)

1 Aug Go Running, Mama!- Get to Know Your Grains: Pearl Barley Salad with Tomatoes and Peaches

I don’t know about you, but I grew up in a household whose carbohydrate consumption came from potatoes, white rice, white bread, and enriched wheat pasta.  Who can blame my mom?  She was feeding a family consisting of two carnivorous meataterians who abhorred cruciferous veggies and anything “new”, herself- a lifelong locavore gardener and diet dabbler, and me- an angsty teen vegetarian weirded out by beans- on a limited budget in a suburb where access to alternative choices was limited.  As can be imagined in such circumstances, by the time I graduated from college the thought of consuming another baked potato or serving white rice next to baked chikin was enough to fully extinguish my appetite.

When I started branching out as an adult, I have to admit that it took a little getting used to when experimenting with grains that had actual flavor, complexity and mouth-feel.  I wasn’t used to really having to chew carbs.  Fast forward to the present and I’m pretty sure that at this point I could differentiate between most grains in a blind taste test based on texture and flavor (Uh oh… Did I just discover a new, lame party trick for myself!?)

I’m normally a Whole Foods shopper, but in the un-suburban Stepford-esque utopian community I live in there is a pretty fancy HEB supermarket within easy jogging distance so every once and awhile I will shop there with the Baby Bird especially since they installed a “Buddy Bucks” machine that gives kiddos points for every Buddy Buck they earn while being helpful shoppers (I don’t know for sure, but the CEO must have a toddler!).  I’ve noticed that they have a pretty impressive bulk including nuts, spices, “healthier” treats, and grains.  I’ve also noticed that normally the only people shopping the grains when I’m there is myself and the Bird who always points out to me that everyone else is “getsing the Sunny Fruits snacks” instead.

It’s human nature to default to the things we are most familiar with, so I can only assume that is what is happening with grains- if you’re not familiar maybe you avoid them!?  That makes me sad because I LOVE grains, so I thought I’d start a little informal series spotlighting some really great grains.

Barley seemed like a great place to start because I made an awesome, easy meal with it several days ago.  And because most people think of beer first when they think of barley which, even though great beer is awesomeness, totally sells barely short. In this recipe I used pearl barley which is refined slightly for quicker cooking time.

A bit about pearl barley…

Pearl (or “pearled) barley is a wheat free- but NOT gluten free– grain option.  Pearl barley is barley that has had part of its outer bran layer removed along with the hull making it, technically, a refined grain.  Barley however contains fiber throughout the entire kernel and not just the outer layer so it retains beneficial fiber and associated nutrients through processing.  Pearl barley cooks much quicker than whole grain barley.  Look for pearl barley that is tan in color as opposed to white to ensure it has retained some of its outer bran layer for maximum nutrient density.

Nutrition Information (1/2 c cooked pearl barley)

  • Calories- 97
  • Carbohydrates- 22 g
  • Fiber- 3 g
  • Total Fat- .35 g
    • Saturated- .5 g
    • Monounsaturated- .5 g
    • Polyunsaturated- .15 g
    • Omega-3 Fatty Acids- 16.5 mg
    • Omega-6 Fatty Acids- 101.5 mg
  •  Protein- 1.75 g
  • Vitamin K- .6 mcg
  • Thiamin- .05 mg
  • Riboflavin- .05 mg
  • Niacin- 1.6 mg
  • Vitamin B6- .1mg
  • Folate- 12.5 mcg
  • Calcium- 8.6 mg
  • Iron- 1 mg

Go Running, Mama!- Get to Know Your Grains: Pearl Barley Salad with Tomatoes and Peaches

Pearl Barley Salad with Tomatoes and Peaches

  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • 1 lb (about two) heirloom tomatoes
  • 1 peach
  • several sprigs of thyme
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • Himalayan sea salt
  • pepper

Directions: Boil barley in a pot a water for 20 minutes.

While barley is boiling, diced tomatoes and peach.  Strip thyme sprigs of their leaves and add to tomato/peach mixture.  Add olive oil, minced garlic, and salt and pepper to taste.  Toss to combine and coat.

After 20 minutes drain barley and rinse with cold water.  Toss tomato mixture into barley.

Serves- 3 adults and 1 toddler as a meal.

Remember to carefully check the package on all foods you purchase and consume if you are excluding an allergen or ingredient from your diet.  Just because the raw ingredient normally does not include an allergen does not mean that certain brands do not process or expose ingredients to allergens.  Know your brands and their manufacturing processes!

Creamy Garlic Kefir Pasta

30 Jul Go Running, Mama!- Creamy Garlic Kefir Pasta

We are enjoying a easy-breezy, stress-free week at our house  which means easy meals that Baby Bird and I can prepare together.  It also means that several meals will be “clean out the pantry” affairs that help ensure we use up some of the ingredients we have on hand before I have to head to a market.

Go Running, Mama!- Creamy Garlic Kefir Pasta

Monday’s lunch was a perfect example of keeping it simple a cheap by using what we had on hand- not to mention using ingredients the little one is guaranteed to gobble up at every meal. Creamy Garlic Kefir Pasta is a kitchen creation born from our family fondness for tzatziki sauce and pasta in all forms.  I serve it cold and never heat the kefir so that none of the probiotic organism bolstering the super-healthy kefir aren’t damaged.  If you chose to heat it, you would still have all of the fabulous macronutrients and polysaccarides… but it would lose it’s probiotic functionality.

Another reason I love this recipe?  Baby Bird loves to help scoop pasts, fill the pot with water, rinse the pasta with cold water, and “toss” the pasta in the sauce.  As all moms know, the more your kiddo helps with food the more likely they are to enjoy it without any hassles.

Go Running, Mama!- Creamy Garlic Kefir Pasta

Toddler (and penguin) Friendly Meal

And did I mention it’s super easy and an ideal way to utilize pantry staples?

Bookmark this one for the days that you just can’t imagine having to run to the grocery store or the nights that you have meetings and need to leave a meal in the fridge for your family.

Go Running, Mama!- Creamy Garlic Kefir Pasta

Creamy Garlic Kefir Pasta

  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 tsp coarse salt
  • 1 lb pasta
  • 2 cups plain kefir
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp parsley flakes

Directions: In a ramekin or small bowl, crush the salt into the garlic cloves to form a coarse paste.

Prepare pasta according to package instructions.  Drain and rinse with cold water.

Over medium heat, saute the garlic paste in the olive oil for several minutes to infuse oil with garlic flavor.  Whisk oil and garlic paste into kefir.  Add the parsley and mix thoroughly.

In a large bowl toss pasta with kefir sauce.  Serve immediately or further chill in refrigerator.

Baked “Fried” RED Tomatoes

22 Jul Go Running, Mama!- Baked "Fried" Red Tomatoes

Thursday night is normally a pretty casual dinner around our house.  My husband incorporates two days of fasting into his nutrition routine, one of which is Thursday, so I normally use that as a leftover evening or graze of fruit and cheese with the little one while we enjoy a guitar serenade from fasting Daddy.

This Thursday I intended to cut up a plate of fruits and veggies to share with the Baby Bird and make myself a big salad in order to use up our more delicate local produce before we eft for a weekend mini-vacation.  Quick, easy, resourceful.

Thursday evening, however, Daddy came home and let me know that he had adjusted his fasting days for the week and would be joining us for our evening meal.  Here is a little nugget about our relationship- my hubby is a gracious and reasonable man who would be perfectly happy eating our simple fasting night fruit and veggie plate with us, but he works so hard every day to provide and opportunity for me to stay home raising our daughter that I feel like he deserves a “real meal” for dinner.

I surveyed the items I had pulled from the fridge to utilize that evening- an arugula mix of salad greens from Animal Farm, peaches from Cooper Farms, and two beautiful tomatoes from Finca Pura Vida.  I couldn’t help but think that this would make a for an indulgent fried green tomato salad if my tomatoes weren’t so beautifully red.  But seriously, who laments juicy, red tomatoes!?

It might make me seem a bit petulant, but I couldn’t get the idea of fried green tomatoes out of my mind.  Plus, I had some beautiful breadcrumbs I had just made from the leftovers of a rosemary farmers’ loaf and a jar of roasted green pepper harissa in the fridge that would make an ideal condiment.  I also knew from previous experience that I can bake almost anything instead of frying- with equally crispy-delicious results.

Maybe, in theory, baking slices of red tomato in substitution for frying slices of green tomato is a sacrilege… especially for a Southern girl like myself.  But let me tell you, y’all… in practice it is anything but.  Those lovely red tomato slices came out fabulously crunchy and golden but without losing any of the slightly-firm-yet-juicy-deliciousness you get from a perfect, ripe tomato.  Bravo, Finca Pura Vida- y’all know what you’re doing over there on your vines!

Whisked up a quick dressing (Dressing in our house is a “little o’ this, little o’ that” affair created measurement free and on the fly.  For this salad it meant rice wine vinegar, olive oil, aioli, ume plum vinegar, and a dollop of garlic & onion jam being glugged together and seasoned with coarse salt and pepper.), drizzled it on, and tickled my arugula greens a la Jamie Oliver to dress them (love him or hate him, Jamie Oliver’s salad tickle fingers are the only respectful way to dress your salad).  Layer on sliced peaches, your baked red tomato slices, and a dollop of spiciness et voila!

Quick, easy, fresh.

Oh, and delicious!

Go Running, Mama!- Baked "Fried" Red Tomatoes

Baked “Fried” RED Tomatoes

  • 2 tomatoes, slicked thick
  • 1 1/2 c cornmeal
  • 1 1/2 c bread crumbs
  • 1 c plain kefir
  • 1 tbs fines herbes
  • salt
  • pepper
  • olive oil

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Grease a baking pan lined in foil with olive oil.  Set aside.

Sprinkle the cut sides of the tomato slices with salt and lay on a clean dish towel or paper towels.  Flip after 10 minutes.

Place cornmeal in a shallow dish and season with salt and pepper.  Add kefir to a second shallow dish.  Place bread crumbs in a third shallow dish and season with salt, pepper, and fines herbes.

Dip tomato slices in cornmeal, then kefir, then the breadcrumb mixture and spread on the baking pan.  Bake for 15 minutes then remove from oven and flip with an offset spatula.  Return to the oven for 15-20 more minutes until tomato slices are golden brown.

Serving suggestion: Serve on an arugula mix salad dressed lightly with an aioli-based dressing with sliced peaches and a dollop of roasted green pepper harissa.

Serves 2 adults and 1 toddler.