Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Tangy Thai Eggplant

I picked up a few Thai eggplants over the weekend and decided to see what I could do with them.  I landed on this tangy vegetable sauté that takes just a few minutes to prepare. Enjoy!
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 cup purple cabbage, shredded
  • ½ yellow pepper, thinly sliced
  • ½ tsp chili powder
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 3 Thai eggplants, cut into 8-10 wedges each
  • 2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
Heat oil in pan over medium heat.  Add cabbage; cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add chili pepper, salt, and yellow pepper.  Continue to cook over medium heat for 3 minutes, stirring often.  Add eggplant and vinegar.  Cook uncovered, stirring often, until there is very little liquid remaining.  Add 2 Tbsp water, cover, and cook 2 more minutes.  Enjoy as a side dish or over rice.

On Feeding My Two Swimmers.

Almost everyday I pack lunches for my two children.  We have found over the years that school lunches just don’t do it for them – in less than 30 minutes, they need to consume calories – quality calories – that will take them through the rest of the school day (until they eat before going to swim practice), and that means they need to take lunch to school each day.  And yes, I’m the mom who packs her kids’ lunches.  As I see it, they each have two fulltime jobs, as students and as athletes, and having some time to relax is an critical part of their day.  If I can let them have a little down time by packing lunches for them, then I’ll do it – and besides, it’s food!  It’s what I do.

A couple of years ago, one of my son’s friends sincerely asked me, “Ms. R., do you know how much he eats?  I mean really!  Everyday at lunch! Have you seen what he eats?”  And my answer was, “Yes, I do. I pack those lunches!”  He was unmoved.  “No, really, do you KNOW how much he eats?”  Indeed, I do know.  As mother of two teenage swimmers, I know.  We’ve laughed a lot about that conversation, and the truth in it.  Lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meat, legumes, cheeses, yogurt, whole grains, and water fill lunch sacks and cover our table each day.

Lunch packing ingredients
Turkey & vegetable wrap, with some
red quinoa tossed in
for whole grain goodness

As the school year is coming to a close the need to provide healthy meals throughout the day doesn’t change. In fact, it intensifies, since we transition to 5 hours of practice each day.  What does change is that I’m not packing the brown bags each day and my kitchen becomes a non-stop cooking laboratory for my kids.  After early morning practice, they eat their second breakfast of the day and then begin experimenting.  I wonder what their cooking projects of the summer will be: cheese making, homemade pasta, the perfect baguette, or ultimate cinnamon rolls?  Last year it was cake decorating (fondant included) and anything that could be made with a noodle.  Whatever they choose, their friends and teammates will benefit, as the fruits of their labor will surely travel to afternoon practice each day.  And I can only hope that there will be something left for me each day when I return home from work.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Flatbread #2: Heirloom Tomato & Blackberry

It has been a busy Spring, although I'm no longer convinced that there is a time of the year that is less busy than another.  The only exception in my life might be the 7 days in March when no one in my family is in the pool - and the irony then is that we don't know what to do with the time and end up eating dinner at 8:30PM anyway.  That just goes to show that I have the appropriate target for my meals:  the whole premise of my life in the kitchen is to create meals that are healthy, flavorful, and fast.  I've made three versions of flatbread in the last week and all three fit my criteria.  The blackberries MAKE this recipe.  I'll add goat cheese and a balsamic drizzle next time.
  • Thin pizza crust or flatbread (pre-baked)
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • handful of basil leaves, julienned
  • 2 or 3 heirloom tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • fresh blackberries

Preheat oven to 450 degrees or according to your crust directions.  Drizzle olive oil on crust; sprinkle garlic on and use a spatula to spread garlic and oil all over crust.  Sprinkle Parmesan in thin layer on crust.  Spread tomatoes across crust; avoid overlapping as much as possible.  Top with blackberries and basil.  Sprinkle another thin Parmesan layer over everything.  Bake 6 to 7 minutes, until cheese is melted and starting to brown.