Garlic & Herb White Bean Dip

This white bean dip – slightly adapted from a Giada De Laurentis recipe – has been my go to dip for when I need to bring something to party that isn’t a baked good or when I have people over. It is always a big hit, but for some reason when it comes to just normal weeks with no food parties, I would just go to the grocery store and buy packaged hummus or some other dip (I am a bit of a dip fiend). Even though the grocery store stuff was nowhere near as satisfying as Giada’s white bean dip, I never thought to whip up a batch of the dip JUST FOR ME. What was I thinking?! Luckily, I recently came to the realization that I was being silly and started making it almost every other week. This dip is way easy to make, pretty inexpensive, and generally healthier than most of the pre-packaged products at the store. And it is TASTY!

Giada might as well have called it garlic dip – the taste of garlic is super strong, but it works well with the smoothness of the white beans plus the herbs and lemon. Now I like the extreme garlicky-ness, but if garlic breath isn’t your thing – I recommend roasting the garlic before adding it, or only adding 1 clove.

I recently made this dip to eat for lunch paired with some carrots, broccoli, and sliced up zucchini (trying to be somewhat healthy to make up for the fact that I have been sitting in the clinic for 12+ hours a day). Also for the sake of being healthy, I cut down the amount of olive oil from 1/3 cup to about 3 tablespoons – and guess what?! It still tasted great and had that smooth, creamy texture. I added some basil leftover from the farmers market, a welcome addition to the dip in my opinion. My only wish was that I had some Marti’s at Midday pita chips to dip in it along with the veggies…but oh yeah, that whole healthy thing. For the original recipe – see White Bean Dip with Pita Chips Recipe : Giada De Laurentiis : Recipes : Food Network.

Garlic & Herb White Bean Dip

  • 1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed*
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3-5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley leaves**
  • salt + freshly ground pepper

Add beans, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, and parsley (or other herbs of your choice) into a food processor and pulse until mixture is smooth (or more coarsely chopped depending on preference). Season to taste with salt and pepper. Voila – easiest. dip. ever.

*I don’t know if this is just me – but I always seem to have a hard time finding cannellini beans at the store. They are also known as white kidney beans. I did not realize this, but since making that realization, finding them has been much easier!

**I used 1/2 parsley and 1/2 basil. I have also made the dip with dried oregano, which turned out good as well. The fresh herbs are definitely better, but it seems to work with a variety of fresh and dried – so experiment!

 

Farmers Market Inspired Berry Lime Salsa

This week blueberries were the stars of the Athens Farmers Market. Looks like it is peak blueberry season here y’all! On Saturday, that meant cooking demonstrations at the market featuring blueberry-centric foods. While I was there, volunteers from P.L.A.C.E. (a non-profit organization in Athens dedicated to promoting the local food culture – for more info see www.localplace.org) were whipping up some Blueberry Lime Salsa. Initially, I was hesitant – I LOVE peach mango salsa (especially the kind my dad makes!) but I couldn’t picture blueberries in salsa.

Oh how wrong I was! That stuff was addictive – I could probably eat it until I turned violet like Violet in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. So of course, that went on the list of things I needed to make ASAP. Lucky for me, I had leftovers from my moderately successful attempt at Blueberry Raspberry Boy Bait. It was now time for them to redeem themselves in a new form, and they were definitely up for the challenge.

I made some modifications from the P.L.A.C.E recipe (mainly adding extra onion and cilantro), but otherwise the credit goes to them for this seasonal, refreshing, delicious salsa. I chose to take the healthy, antioxidant filled delicacy and pair it with some tasty (although not entirely healthy) lime Tostitos – heaven! I could also see this salsa paired with a nice piece of grilled fish or chicken and some veggies if you wanted to make a meal out of it. Or if you have any other suggestions for ways to incorporate this into just about anything – please let me know, because I have made enough to last a longgggg time and I fear the entire bag of chips will be gone in the next day or two if I don’t find alternatives. Now, I think I have gone on enough about this salsa – here is the recipe (after some more mouth-watering pictures):

Farmers Market Inspired Berry Lime Salsa

  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1 cup fresh raspberries
  • 1/4 red onion, roughly chopped (I used more like 1/3-1/2 of the onion)
  • 1 teaspoon lime zest
  • juice of 2 limes
  • 1/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves (I added a bit more)
  • salt to taste

Combine blueberries, raspberries, onions, lime zest + juice, and cilantro in a food processor or blender. Pulse until you reach your desired consistency (I made mine really smooth because I had never made salsa in a food processor before and I was excited – but I also added some larger onion chunks post-processing). Taste and season with salt if desired (I probably added about 1/8 tsp of salt). The original recipe called for pepper as well, which I regretted adding but if pepper is your thing, don’t let me stop you from giving it a try! Finally, I thought that the salsa tasted even better the next day once the flavors had a chance to get all cozy with each other – so keep that in mind (and make extra if you are like me and cannot stop eating it!).

Rainy Day Caprese Quinoa Salad

This is what it looked like outside today:

YUCK! So…this is what came out of my kitchen today:

That’s right, the rain (plus my horribly busy crazy unhappy week with clinic and then friends leaving for internship 😦 ) drove me to make Strawberry Biscuits (recipe posted only a few days ago on Smitten Kitchen that I could not wait to make), Blueberry Raspberry Lime Salsa (I got a taste of that yesterday at the farmer’s market – amazing), and Quinoa Caprese Salad. Nothing quite like unwinding in the kitchen – cooking and listening to music (today, The Menzingers – one of the bands opening for The Bouncing Souls in Atlanta this week. I hadn’t heard them before…pretty good!). Plus bonus – looks like I made enough food to last the week! Stay tuned for a post on the salsa – I have to get back to school stuff at some point since tomorrow is Monday 😦 For now, the Quinoa Caprese Salad!

I’m going to be honest, I am not typically the biggest fan of raw tomatoes. However, something miraculous happens when you combine them with some basil, garlic, balsamic, olive oil, and fresh mozzarella. I think the people of Italy were on to something there with the invention of Caprese salads. This weekend at the farmer’s market, I picked up some fresh tomatoes (they always taste better when it gets warmer out) and basil. The minute I bought those 2 ingredients, I knew it was only a matter of time before I would be picking up some fresh mozzarella. Now these weren’t the cheapest ingredients, so I justified my spending by promising myself I’d eat this salad every day for lunch. My only concern was that the teeny amount of protein in the mozzarella would not be enough to get me through the day, which sparked a light bulb moment! Of course, I should throw some quinoa in there for protein to make the meal a bit more filling (I thought I was being oh so creative here…then I google searched “quinoa caprese salad” out of curiosity and my bubble was burst. Oh well, while it may not be groundbreaking it is at least healthy and tasty). I am not lying when I say I am super pumped to eat this for lunch this week.

Caprese Quinoa Salad

  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1.5 cups cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped*
  • A few basil leaves, loosely chopped/torn apart
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup (or so) fresh mozzarella (I used cherry-sized Ciliegine, cut into fourths)
  • Olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Salt + pepper

Prepare quinoa and let cool. I usually use a ratio of about 1 cup dry quinoa to 1.5 cups of liquid (for this recipe I used lightly salted water). While quinoa is cooling, combine the tomatoes, onion, basil, and garlic. Add balsamic and olive oil (everyone’s taste is different but I think I ended up using about 1 tablespoon olive oil and 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar) as well as salt and pepper to taste. Add quinoa, taste, season more if necessary. Enjoy!!

Note: I added the quinoa as a last step, but then realized that more seasoning was needed (especially more balsamic). In the future, I think I will add the quinoa before the salt/pepper/olive oil/balsamic, and even maybe try a balsamic reduction to increase the balsamic-y flavor, but for now, this version is more than acceptable (in my opinion!).

*I know that onions and garlic aren’t typically found in Caprese salads, but they are two loves of mine (and they help mask the tomato taste)

Super Busy Stressful AHHH Week = My 1st “Treat Yo Self” Post

I love Parks and Recreation. Everyone in that show is hilarious – and the episode where Tom Haverford (<3 Aziz!) and Donna take a day to treat themselves ranks up there in my top 5. I know I am not alone in this, and I’m also probably not the only person who has taken to treating themselves a little more after watching that episode. What can ya do?!

TREAT YO SELF video clip from youtube

So, this is a food blog and I am going on and on about Parks and Rec and Aziz Ansari, and could probably continue to go on, but it is time to explain where food comes into this whole “Treat Yo Self” thing. See, I knew it was going to be a rough week, so I planned ahead. THANK GOODNESS for that, because rough doesn’t even come close to doing this horrific week justice. So planning ahead, in my Treat Yo Self world, means getting a Martha’s Salad Plate at Marti’s at Midday. O M G. I don’t even know where to begin.

Marti’s at Midday

I had lived here almost a year before I first went to Marti’s (that was WAY too long to wait – if anyone reading this lives in Athens or within a 3 hour radius – GO RIGHT NOW, well, it isn’t open now, but go asap!). Marti’s is this cute, super southern little to – go food shop in a renovated house off of Prince Ave in Athens. They have fun commercials on TV down here with people raving about the food. I should have taken them more seriously because the food is FANTASTIC. Not only that, the portions are RIDICULOUS too. I’m thinking that my Martha’s Salad Plate (huge scoop of really yummy chicken salad, another huge scoop of pimento cheese, a deviled egg, salad with balsamic dressing, fruit, and homemade pita chips, oh those pita chips are the best part I think) weighed about 5 pounds. I’m not fantastic with estimating weight, but I really don’t think that is exaggerating too much. Needless to say, that lasts me like 4 meals for about $9. I honestly don’t know why I don’t just get one of those at the start of every week (oh yeah, all that pimento cheese probably isn’t good for me…definitely glad I didn’t discover that health food until I moved down here). OOO and the mint sweet tea, gotta mention that too. I am totally not alone in this Marti’s obsession, the whole reason that I chose Marti’s as my Treat Yo Self destination this week is because a girl that I met while shopping in Austin a few weekends ago went on and on about how much she missed Marti’s (she went to school at UGA prior to moving to Austin). Coming from someone who lives in Austin – with all the awesome food they have there – says a lot.

Try and tell me that doesn’t look like a party on a plate.

So I realize this entire post sounds like an ad for Marti’s (and maybe Parks and Rec) rather than some sort of professional, objective review. Well, I am not a professional restaurant reviewer, just being honest here – I love me some Marti’s. I will admit that the Martha’s Salad Plate is the only thing that I order (well, except that one time I just ordered a plain chicken salad sandwich – which I IMMEDIATELY regretted – I missed the pimento cheese!), I just like it too much to want to try anything else. So order other options at your own risk, although I bet most other things there are also quite delicious. For more info on Marti’s (they do offer TONS more than just the salad plate, although who would know that from reading this), their website:

http://www.martisatmidday.com/

And finally, as I mentioned early, I whole-heartedly embrace the whole “Treat Yo Self” idea. I believe it was a once or twice a year thing in Parks and Rec, but screw it; sometimes it just needs to happen more often, especially in grad school (in my opinion of course). As such, I imagine this will be the first of many “Treat Yo Self” posts – so stay tuned!!

My Version of Blueberry (and Raspberry) Boy Bait

I first saw the recipe for Blueberry Boy Bait on Smitten Kitchen about a year ago, and have made it no less than 5 times since.  While I cannot speak to the success of this as far as boys are concerned (I did give some leftovers to my advisor, but referred to it as blueberry cake – I was and am not the least bit interesting in baiting that man!), I can say that this cake is A M A Z I N G!

By 7 o’clock this evening, I had driven to and from the clinic to make phone calls and prep for my case tomorrow, walked around in the rain, finished my IRB for my thesis study, and even managed to throw in a thirty minute workout (which has since been completely negated by what I am about to share). The amount of productivity going on today deserves some relaxation. Which if you ask me, means watching Drop Dead Diva (not ashamed) and baking cake. Also, blueberries and raspberries were on sale at Publix, so this cake was basically destined to be made. I’ve made some modifications to the Smitten Kitchen version (which is adapted from Cook’s Country, who adapted the original recipe – geez this cake has been through a lot!). One of the modifications was out of necessity (unsweetened vanilla almond milk instead of whole milk because that’s what I had) and others were out of curiosity. First, I made half of the cake with raspberries because I had them and thought if the blueberry version was so good, a raspberry version has to be at least as good if not better (love love love raspberries). Second, I added a touch of vanilla because I love vanilla. Third, I used ½ whole wheat flour and ½ all-purpose flour. I don’t know why I do this – well, no, I do it to fool myself into thinking I am eating something that is good for me. Pretty irrational – what is the point when I am still using so much butter and sugar? No matter how irrational, I do this “part whole wheat” thing a lot, and usually (well at least in zucchini bread) things turn out fine. Moral of the story – I will continue to add whole wheat flour to recipes and pretend I am eating health food.* Anyway, here is the truly important part of this post – the recipe!

Yeah – that’s me doing some intense stirring while I watch Drop Dead Diva 🙂

Blueberry & Raspberry Boy Bait

  • 1 cup + 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk (or in my case, unsweetened almond milk)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup blueberries
  • 1/4 cup raspberries

Topping

  • 1/4 cup blueberries
  • 1/4 cup raspberries
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

CAKE: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter & flour a 13 by 9-inch baking pan (Note: I have also made Blueberry Boy Bait Mini Muffins because of my love affair with my mini muffin tins + attempts at portion control – if you would like to go this route, reduce cooking time to about 15 minutes).

In a medium bowl, whisk together whole-wheat flour, 1 cup of all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, beat butter and sugars with an electric mixer on medium speed for about 2 minutes or until fluffy. I’m going to be honest here – I used a wooden spoon and stirred as fast as I could (I was lacking in the mixer department the first time I made this and things turned out fine, plus I got a nice little arm workout – so mixing by hand stuck). Add eggs 1 at a time, stirring until just incorporated. Once all eggs are added, stir in 1/3 of the flour mixture until just incorporated followed by half of the milk and 1 teaspoon of vanilla (be careful not to overmix!). Repeat with the second third of the flour mixture and the rest of the milk, followed by the last of the flour mixture. Now is the part where I decided to complicate things. Split the batter between 2 bowls. Toss 1/4 of the blueberries with 1/2 teaspoon of flour and gently fold into one bowl of batter using a rubber spatula. Do the same thing with the other bowl of batter, but this time with the raspberries and 1/2 teaspoon of flour.** Spread the blueberry batter into one side of the pan and the raspberry batter into the other.

TOPPING: Stir sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup blueberries over the blueberry side of the batter and the remaining 1/4 cup raspberries over the raspberry side. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the entire cake and bake for 45-50 minutes (or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.). Let the cake cool in the pan for 20 minutes (this is the toughest part in my opinion – by this time the whole house will smell like blue/raspberry deliciousness). Once cool, either turn out and display the cake nicely on a platter or just dig in!

*So, the recipe still tastes good with the whole wheat flour BUT I will admit, it is better with 100% all-purpose flour. It also looks better (mine turned out pretty ugly). I retract my original statement – from now on, at least with this recipe, I am just gonna go all in and accept that this is a dessert and it was not meant to be healthy.

Tastes better than it looks, I swear!

**Alternatively, if you wanted to make things easier on yourself – either use all blueberries, all raspberries, or just mix them together in one cake rather than going through the unnecessary hassle of trying to make two different halves. I am sure that all of the above would be delicious…I just have a problem with unnecessarily over-complicating things by trying to get creative.

CHIPOTLE IS OPENING SOON!

Chipotle to Open mid-June – Athens, GA Patch.

I am a recent southern transplant, and I have been loving it. The weather, the southern hospitality, the delicious food that I am glad I did not discover until now because of how bad for you it is (I’m talking to you sweet tea and pimento cheese!), etc. However, one BIG things was missing from my northern life – CHIPOTLE. Well, at least one big food – related thing; I do have many people up north that I miss a teensy bit more than delicious burritos. But my prayers have been answered, Chipotle is opening up in my small Georgia town any day now! To which I say – about time!! This is a college town and every college town needs Chipotle 🙂