Carrot Dogs and a Celebration

On labor day, we “grilled” carrot dogs.  I saw the recipe in Shape magazine and clipped it a while back, because it sounded interesting.   (For the record, I don’t know why I receive Shape, but somehow I have been receiving since we lived in Twinsburg).  I didn’t have high hopes, but I figured I would give it a try just for fun. You basically boil carrots, let them sit overnight in a marinade, and then cook them in a pan.  After I made the marinade, my hands smelled just like hot dogs.  It was crazy.   They turned out much tastier than I thought.  Drew and Newton enjoyed them as well, so we will probably make them again.  Here is the recipe if anyone wants to give it a try.


Carrot Dogs

4 carrots (washed and ends cut off)

4 T chicken stock

3 T soy sauce

1 garlic clove (minced)

1/2 inch piece of ginger (chopped fine)

2 T white vinegar

2 t liquid smoke

3 t brown sugar

Simmer the carrots in boiling water for 10 minutes.  Drain and place them in ice water.  Mix together remaining ingredients for the marinade.  Place carrots in a shallow dish with marinade and let sit overnight.  Saute carrots in 1 teaspoon of oil for 10 minutes on medium-high heat.  Turn carrots frequently and drizzle with marinade as they cook.  Place in buns (I recommend higher quality buns) and top with ketchup and mustard.  Enjoy!

Drew took vacation this week so we could get lots of yard work done.  A few weeks ago, one of our trees lost a huge limb during one of the many storms.  Our yard also flooded repeatedly.  To prevent future floods, we (read mainly Drew) has been putting in some drainage pipes.  Here is a preview of the progress so far.


Newton is greatly enjoying all the dirt.  If you look close enough, you can see it on his tongue.


As a break from all the yard work, we went on a 10 mile bike ride to downtown to celebrate.  We have been talking about eating lunch at Wildwood Market for months.  Each day they feature one sandwich and one salad.  Today’s sandwich creation was smoked brisket, kale dressed with smoky sauce, caramelized leek dressing, and cheddar cheese spread on a pretzel bun.  So yummy and totally worth the bike ride.


We ended lunch by going down the street to Amelia’s for big cookies :D, but while we were eating our cookies, the tube in my back tire popped :(.  Luckily, we were able to catch the bus back home.  It was our first time on the bus, and the bus driver was super nice and helped us secure our bikes to the rack right before it started to downpour!  Busting a tire turned out to be not such a bad thing.






Meatless Monday: Black Pepper Tofu

In February, we re-instituted meatless Mondays.  Most of our meatless recipes have been coming from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi.  All of his recipes have been delicious and are things we wouldn’t usually eat.  It has taken a few trips to different international market/asian grocery stores to get supplies, but it was well worth it!  Some day I hope to visit his restaurant.  Most dishes make enough that Tuesday becomes meatless too.  We have only missed one day, but I do usually use chicken broth instead of veggie broth.  I always have chicken broth goop in the fridge, and veggie broth would often require a last minute run to the grocery store.  We aren’t vegetarian, so I figured the spirit of the day is still upheld 🙂

This is a lineup of some of our meatless Monday dishes.  Soba noodles with mango and eggplant, meatless lentil meatloaf, warm glass noodles with edamame, fluffy dinner rolls with broiled veggy soup, african spiced lentil soup, and stuffed onions.


One of my personal favorites was the blackened tofu.  It is fried tofu in a spicy sauce.  I have been serving it with sticky rice.  Drew loves it too!  Leftovers are tasty, but the tofu does lose its crispiness.


Black Pepper Tofu (serves 4)

28 oz extra firm tofu or firm tofu

vegetable oil for frying

cornstarch (enough to coat tofu)

5 tbsp butter

12 small shallots, sliced thin

2 mild, large red or green chiles, sliced thin

12 garlic cloves, minced

3 tbsp minced fresh ginger or 1 1/2 tbsp ground ginger

6 tbsp low sodium soy sauce

4 tsp tamari

3 tbsp sugar

2-4 tbsp fresh ground black peppercorns (the original recipe calls for 4, but I always only use about 2 tbsp

1 small bunch of green onions, chopped

rice for serving


Drain the tofu, pat dry with a towel and set aside.  Add enough oil to a large frying pan so that it is about 1/4 inch deep and heat.  While the oil is heating, slice the tofu into bite size cubes and toss in cornstarch.  Shake of extra corn starch, and add the tofu to the hot oil in a single layer.  You may need to fry the tofu in multiple batches depending on the size of your pan.  Turn the tofu as it fries.  It is done when it has a thin hard crust.  (The recipe says the tofu should turn golden all over.  Sometimes my tofu turns golden sometimes it doesn’t.  I just take it out when it has a hard crust on all sides.)  Strain out the cooked tofu with a slotted spoon or spatula and place on a paper towel lined plate.  Continue frying until all tofu is cooked.

Drain the oil from the pan, and melt the butter.  Add the shallots, chiles, garlic, and ginger (if using powdered ginger, add during the last minute of cooking). Saute on medium heat for about 15 minutes or until totally soft.  Add the soy sauce, tamari, sugar, and black pepper.  Stir to combine.  Add in tofu and warm.  Stir in the green onions and serve hot over rice.

Recipe slightly adapted from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi




Happy Pi Day!


While on a group run, someone told me I needed to go home and learn about my new home state. (I could not list the state symbols, and this was apparently shameful.)  After a quick google search,  I learned that Indiana has many state symbols including a state stone.  Below are the symbols I remember.

State Flower:  Peony

State Bird:  Cardinal

State Tree:  Tulip Poplar

State Dessert:   Sugar Cream Pie

State Beverage:  Water

State Stone:  Salem Limestone

State Motto:  Crossroads of America

My favorite two are dessert and flower.  This weekend I decided to show some Hoosier IMG_20160314_061706884_HDRpride by planting peonies in the front yard and making sugar cream pie.  I used the sugar cream pie recipe on Annies Eats.  The pie was simple to make and didn’t have that many ingredients.  I was a little skeptical that the filling would have an odd texture, but it tastes custard-y.  If I made it again I would use a different crust recipe.  My original intent was to make the pie for Drew to take to work, but the crust burned.  I followed the blind baking suggestion and even with foil around the edge for all but the first 20 minutes, it still burned.  I think next time I would use my go to King Arthur pie crust recipe with half shortening and half butter as opposed to an all butter crust and keep the foil on the whole time.

Despite the ruined crust, the pie still tasted delicious and seems like a good dessert for a mid western state.  It makes use of dairy products and has a simple laid-back flavor.


Happy Pi Day!!



Roasted Strawberry & Yellow Summer Squash Snack Cake

This cake requires roasting the strawberries before making the cake.  This means the recipe is perfect for berries that are not so perfect.  You know the ones.  They are on sale and maybe aren’t the juicest or sweetest, but they were darn cheap.  The roasted strawberries are placed on the bottom of the pan with cocoa powder and sugar.  The cake is then flipped over, so the ooey gooey strawberry deliciousness is on top when served.  I think it is best when served warm and the chocolate chips are still soft, but it is also tasty when found hidden in a lunchbox.  Even Newt wanted a taste 🙂


Yield: one 8×8 pan


Roasted Strawberries                                      

2 cups fresh strawberries or about 1 lb

1 T sugarIMG_20140627_132306908_HDR

Preheat oven to 375°F.  Wash, hull, and quarter strawberries.  Toss with sugar.  Roast for 30 minutes on a silpat lined cookie sheet until berries are soft and juicy.



1 cup all purpose flour

1 cup finely grated yellow summer squash (or zucchini)

1/3 cup + 1 T sugar, divided

3 T + 1 T cocoa powder, divided

3/4 t baking sodaIMG_20140627_144636086_HDR

1/4 t salt

1 egg

1 t vanilla

1/4 cup whey or milk

1/4 cup oil

1/3 cup dark chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 350°F.  Mix together 2 T sugar and 1 T cocoa powder in a small bowl.  Butter the bottom and sides of an 8×8 pan.  Place cocoa sugar mixture in pan and shake around until all sides are coated.  Spread the remaining cocoa sugar mixture evenly across the bottom of the pan.  Place roasted strawberries in an even layer along the bottom of the pan and set aside. IMG_20140627_133011927_HDR

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt, 3 T cocoa powder, and 1/3 cup sugar.  Add in vanilla, oil, egg, and whey.  Mix until well combined.  Stir in chocolate chips and squash.  Gently spoon mixture into the pan on top of the strawberries.  Bake for 35-40 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.  Let cake cool for 10 -15 minutes and then flip over onto serving dish.  The berries and chocolate mixture will now be on top.  Slice and serve while still warm.  Refrigerate leftovers.



Plank Challenge & Ice Cream

Have you been seeing the 30 Day Plank Challenge around the internet?  About a month ago, I decided to give it a try.  I thought “How hard could it be?  All you do is hold yourself above the ground for a while.”  Wrong.  It was pretty hard, but I did it!  The first week wasn’t too bad.  You start at 20 seconds daily and work your way up to 40 seconds.  By the end of 30 days, you are able to hold the pose for 5 minutes!  I used the free Plank A Lot app on my phone to keep track of the days.  Drew ended up doing it with me each night. To keep our minds distracted, we listened to NPR while holding the pose.  Newt caught on to this quickly.  After a few nights, he would get excited and start frantically wagging his tail when he saw us lay on the ground.  He would then proceed to enjoy himself by laying down between us and happily wagging his tail while we suffered in pain.  The worst was when he decided that it would be fun to lick our faces or the bottoms of our feet while we were defenseless.  We ended up taking longer than 30 days to complete the challenge, but I still feel quite accomplished!  5 minutes was brutal, but not nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be.  My core has been strengthened.  Success!  My mother completed the challenge as well, go mom!  Since the last NPR story we listened to was about how to construct the perfect ice cream sandwich, I decided the best way to celebrate the completion of the challenge would be to make my own ice cream.  I whipped up some chocolate peanut butter ice cream with chocolate covered peanuts.


The recipe came from the Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz.  Every recipe I have tried has been fantastic.  This includes the parsley ice cream and mango sorbet pictured below.

I was too impatient and didn’t let the base cool long enough (or really at all) before pouring it into the ice cream bowl.  The end result looked a little like poo, but it tasted fine.  A few hours in the freezer resulted in a much nicer texture.

Garlic Scape Pesto

Last week, we received 2 lbs of garlic scapes in our CSA share.  We ended up using half of them to make pesto to pack in our lunches.  I am sure my patients appreciated my garlic breath on the day I ran out of gum.  The pesto has a very strong garlic flavor, so I wouldn’t recommend trying it unless you love garlic.  Pretzel thins and wheat thins are a great match for the pesto, but I ended up making our favorite wheat crackers to go with it.  If you have never made crackers before, I suggest you give it a try.  They are pretty quick to make and taste a zillion times better than store bought.  The hardest part is rolling the dough out very thin.  I usually just give up and just make thick crackers.  They may not look as pretty, but they still taste good.


Yield: 3.5 cups


1 lb scapes (or about 18-20 large scapes)

1 1/4 cups olive oil

1 cup walnuts

8 oz romano or parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Salt and pepper


Wash and dry scapes thoroughly. Cut or break scapes into 2 inch pieces to make blending easier. Shred cheese or break into hunks (depending on how powerful your blender/food processor is). Add olive oil, lemon juice, scapes, walnuts, and cheese to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate or freeze leftovers.


This week’s CSA share:  a yellow squash, kale, green onions, lettuce, chard, peas, and more scapes.


Lemon Basil Gems

Two years ago, I spent my July in South Dakota on an Indian Reservation.


My parents came to visit, and my mom brought lemon basil sugar cookies.   They were awesome.

IMG_20140617_155716790_HDRThis year we are growing basil on our balcony.  Seeing all that basil each day had me craving those cookies.  I’m not sure where her recipe came from, so I adapted my favorite lemon cookie recipe instead.



Yield: about 5 dozen


3/4 cup butter, softened

1 cup confectioner’s sugar

Zest of 1 lemon

Juice of 1 lemon

1/4 cup finely diced basil (start with 1/2 cup packed basil leaves and then dice to end up with about 1/4 of a cup)

2 cups all-purpose flour

Sanding sugar


Cream butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer until fluffy. Add lemon zest, lemon juice, and basil beating on medium speed until combined. Gradually add flour to creamed mixture and mix until well combined.

Cover dough and place in refrigerator for 1 hour or until easy to handle.

On a silicone mat, roll dough into a log with a diameter of about 1.5 inches.  Roll the log in sanding sugar until evenly coated and then wrap in plastic wrap.  Chill for 2-3 hours.

Preheat oven to 375° F. Unwrap the dough and cut into 1/4 inch thick slices. Place slices on an ungreased baking sheet.  Bake for 9-11 minutes or until edges lightly browned.*  Let cookies stand for 1 minute on baking sheet before moving to wire racks to cool.

*For a softer cookie, bake on a silpat lined baking sheet for 11 minutes or until edges are set.