September 22, 2011

Asparagus, Peas, and Basil

final greens

Are you an overachiever?

If so, this dish is for you.

Oh, and ignore that piece of olive-y, lemon-y fish in that photo. Really, just avert your eyes.

Full of green things like asparagus, peas, green onions, and basil, this yummy side dish is an incredible combination of healthy and delicious. While we have come to expect different foods or preparation methods to be healthy, we don’t tend to view them as particularly tasty. Plenty of tempting munchies surround us on a daily basis, but they’re usually fried, iced, or basted in butter.

Makes for happy tummies, but not happy arteries.

So, when I come along and announce that a dish can be both delicious and healthy, I can see how it might seem too good to be true. Believe me, though, it is. True, I mean. Like any overachiever, I simply couldn’t be satisfied with just one or the other. Yum-osity and health-osity are two things that can go hand in hand.

Let me break it down…

Asparagus. Healthy? Check. Yummy? Check.

raw asparagus

Basil. Oh-ehm-gee, all kinds of good.

basil and green onions

Green onions. Yes.

green onion

Peas. Like little green pearls of nom.

peas

Here’s where the buttery stuff (and a bit of olive oil) does come in. If there was absolutely none of it, this simply wouldn’t work. I don’t want to scare you guys, after all.

melting butter

sauteing onions

asparagus saute

saute peas

basil add

There’s also a sprinkle of cheese. Yummy yummy Romano cheese, which does all kinds of awesome stuff with these veggies.

grating cheese

You see? We’ve put so many healthy, good ingredients in that pan, paired with moderate amounts of indulgent yummies, that it really creates a perfect side dish. Serve it with any sort of entrĂ©e and you’ve got a great meal. Not to mention that it’s a cinch to put together.

Let’s review (because that’s what nerds like to do): Healthy. Delicious. Easy. Quick.

Major, major overachievement. Give it a try!

September 13, 2011

Brown Butter Banana Bread

banana bread 1

Ah, the alliteration!

I had to get that off my chest. Despite my love of bookish matters, I promise not to spend an entire post acting like the literary devices fangirl that I am. Some of you like-minded readers would undoubtedly think it was the greatest grouping of words the English language has ever seen, but some of you would immediately groan and exit the page, causing you to miss out on the glorious beauty that is Brown Butter Banana Bread. Therefore, today I shall set my obsessions aside for chocolate chips and the greater good.

banana bread 5

This batch of soft, yummy banana bread was born out of a truly frightening experience that befell me this past weekend…I had no butter. For two and a half days this recipe lingered in my mind, filling my head with thoughts of nutty, brown butter, gently sweet bananas, and pops of chocolate chips.

I was taunted by the bunch of perfectly overripe bananas sitting on my kitchen counter, knowing that for each day I let them linger, they were cultivating countless hidden bruises to spite me. When the day finally arrived that butter once again entered my house, I peeled them with more than a little trepidation. As someone who had never tried to make banana bread with darkly speckled, super ripe bananas before, I mentally prepared myself for the inevitable hideous surprise awaiting me.

banana bread 4

But there was no hideous surprise awaiting me. Underneath the mottled peels of those bananas there was nothing but soft, smushy, blemish-free fruit. In an instant, they were mashed into pureed perfection.

I was more flabbergasted than when I passed Chemistry class.

As of this moment, I am officially a believer in the ripe banana method. I will distribute flyers and wear a badge. I will create a school club for it and hand out banana bread samples at freshman orientation. Where I used to scoff at the idea and wrinkle my nose at the unattractive banana peels, I now understand what so many people have been talking about. It really does make the whole process delightfully easy.

And like I said before, there’s brown butter and chocolate chips.

banana bread 2

Grab the recipe over at Joy the Baker. All I did differently was swap the strawberries for chocolate chips. If my strawberries hadn’t gone bad, I wouldn’t have changed a thing, because this business is yumsville all around.

September 5, 2011

Grilled Vegetable Tostadas

tostada 3
That photo of a veggie tostada makes me so happy. Perhaps it’s the festive colors, perhaps it’s the underlying knowledge that it’s incredibly healthy, perhaps it’s just a projection of my contented mood, but there’s something so lovely about a fresh, beautiful vegetable tostada.

salsa stir
Looking at that delicious blend of hearty, grilled vegetables and light punches of salsa and feta really reflects how I feel about this fall semester. Yes, I’m assigning emotions to to a pile of grilled veggies. Food blogger, remember?

If you’re a regular reader, you will know from my last post that I was getting a bit overwhelmed and more than a bit busy with all the recent changes in my schedule. I’m happy to say that now, almost two weeks into the school year, I’m really getting into the groove of things. There’s still a boatload of responsibilities between college, work, blogging, and the like, but I now suddenly find myself enjoying this level of activity. Rather than lazy days of summer, where the biggest obstacle of the day was doing some laundry and convincing myself that running is a fun form of exercise, having deadlines and due dates and projects has helped me reestablish a pleasant sense of structure to my days.

veggie layout
Now, before I sound too enthusiastic, I have to admit that this weird, peppy, “yay-more-homework!,” sort of concept does not always fit with my regular personality. Over the past two weeks, one of the hardest things that I’ve had to learn—something that I’ve struggled with throughout my years of schooling—is the art of balance. I’m sure there’s more than a few of you out there who agree with me on this, but I’m the sort of person who loves nothing more than having every chore finished, every assignment turned in, every project complete and ready to go. It is then that I feel like I can finally relax and do things that I enjoy.

grilling green onions
While this technically sounds like a wonderful version of reality, it’s also one that I’ve had to accept does not normally exist. Whether it’s with school or work, there is always going to be a stream of things that need to be done and there will always be another task that you feel like you should be doing. In the past, I had tried different methods to remedy this predicament, from blazing through hours of homework only to find myself exhausted and burnt out, to completing a tidbit of work and then returning to the cozy comfort of my Netflix queue. As you can imagine, neither method works well. As it turns out, balance is best and compartmentalization is key.

See that college-level vocab? Two weeks in and I’m smarter already.

grilling mushrooms
Vegetable tostadas figure into this idea of balance as well. If you just ate grilled veggies, the dish would feel heavy and flat. If you chose to subsist on salsa and feta cheese, well, that would be delicious, but surely such a concentration of cheesy sodium and lime acids would be ill-advised. You’d get all bloated and need to use ultra-sensitive toothpaste to deal with the enamel erosion. My point is, this dish, much like practically everything else in the world, is best when there’s a balance.

grilling zucchini
When you’ve got your priorities in order and there’s an equal amount of work and play, good things come along with it. You’re able to go with the flow and enjoy periods of productivity and relaxation. You’re able to find a bunch of Zumba videos on YouTube that make exercise more fun and you get to eat more chocolate chip cupcakes as well. You’re able to combine the healthy nutrition of portobello mushrooms, zucchini, and green onions with the equally healthy mixture of fresh tomato salsa and pungent cubes of cheese. You feel good, you look good, and you’re taking care of business. It really doesn’t get better than that.

tostada 1

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