Tag Archives: swiss chard

A Foodie Day

8 Aug

Let’s just say, yesterday was a good day.  Especially since almost every ingredient I used throughout the day came from local Oregon farms (or waters).  Check it out:

Breakfast (which turned into Brunch by the time it all came together): Deconstructed Egg Salad; soft boiled quail eggs with a creamy vinaigrette, with tender greens and scallions, and bacon.  I’m sure it was quite a sight to see, me hunched over the counter for nearly 30 minutes delicately peeling the thin skins on all those darn little quail eggs, but it was worth the backache, and the time.

Lunch: “Blue” Pesto over Tomatoes; a sweet, tangy, and creamy blend of blueberries (we keep getting more from our CSA basket!  Last summer was 42 potatoes, this summer should be 42 blueberries!), blue cheese, lemon basil, and lemon juice, poured over freshly picked beefsteak tomato slices.  Unlikely combination, fantastic concoction!

Happy Hour: Lemon Pepper Edamame; Just like it sounds!  Creamy, crunchy soy beans, still warm in their pods, topped with a sprinkle of freshly cracked pepper and lemon zest.  The bowl was gone while the hour was still happy.

Dinner: Sauteed Shrimp with Tomatoes and Chard; since Rob is out of town, my mercury level will definitely rise this week with the amount of shellfish I’m planning on consuming (despite all my efforts and preparations, he still won’t touch the stuff).  This simple meal, combined with fresh artisan sourdough, completely rounded out the foodie day.  I was licking the bowl.  Literally.  Please don’t judge.

Sauteed Shrimp with Tomatoes and Chard (serves 2) 

  • 1/2 lb medium shrimp, peeled and deveined 
  • 1/2 small sweet white onion (Walla Walla is great), thinly sliced
  • about 10 cherry tomatoes, quartered 
  • 2 c swiss chard sliced into very thin ribbons, called chiffonade (measure after you slice) 
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/8 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 c chardonnay 
  • 1 tbsp marscapone cheese
  • zest of 1 lemon 
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • s&p 
  • good crusty bread, to serve, preferably sourdough

In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil over med-high heat.  Add the onions, and a bit of salt, and saute until translucent.  Add the tomatoes and the chard, and continue to saute until the chard has just started to wilt.  

Meanwhile, season the shrimp with salt and pepper.  

Once chard has started to wilt, add in the red pepper flakes, oregano, and deglaze the pan with the chardonnay.  After about 2 minutes, add in the shrimp, and saute until shrimp is just starting to turn to pink.  Cover the pan and let simmer until shrimp is just cooked, about 3-4 minutes.  Take off the cover, turn off the heat, and add in the marscapone cheese, stirring to incorporate.  Taste for seasoning.  

Serve in a shallow bowl with the pan sauce, and with chunks of bread to rip off and soak up all the goodness.  Then, lick the bowl when finished.  


Sig got a hold of a rogue blueberry. He played with it for a while, but then swallowed it whole, and started begging for more. Figures.

Honor Thinking

22 Feb

Isn’t February just flying by?  It feels like just yesterday that Rob and I were sitting down to our fabulous Valentines Day dinner, rather than over a week ago.  I kind of wish it was just yesterday – we had the most amazing meal: Marinated Flank Steak, perfectly grilled (despite the pouring rain and 30+ mph wind gusts – our garage smelled like a steakhouse, but it was well worth the smell and safety hazard), sweet potato soufflé, roasted asparagus with hollandaise sauce, 36-hour fermented rosemary and citrus Fougasse bread, and finally a chocolate sponge cake with pinot-marionberry sauce.  Needless to say, we were weak at the knees, and not just for each other.

We had to get in as much quality time together as possible as Rob has had a funky schedule lately, and my week was filled with a trip to Portland.  Wednesday morning, six other teachers and I drove up to attend  a national Mathematics Leadership Conference put on by the Teacher Development Group.  It was simply an honor to be asked to go, as it was geared towards teaching us how to teach teachers to become better teachers.  The week was filled with fabulous research, mathematical practices and developments, and the over-arching mentality and high expectation to honor thinking.  By Saturday night, my brain was full… and so was my stomach.

We were fed like royalty!  Giant dinners, beautiful lunches, all you can eat (and I did) breakfasts, and a dessert table that was always at the ready with any pastry, cake, cookie, or puff a heart could desire.  There was so much food, and so much sitting, then more food – I started to hope that my brain’s energy was capable of burning calories.

Alas, algebraically proving a linear function did not quite accomplish the same results as a 5-mile run.  So on top of sleeping most of Sunday, I planed for a major detox.

In a few of my entries, I’ve mentioned my former vegetarian days and have fond memories of cooking many meatless meals.  Vegetarian cooking is what made me a cook – figuring out flavorful alternatives to protein and animal fat was a welcomed challenge, and I was always delighted when those enjoying my food would have the oh-my-gosh-there’s-no-meat-in-this-dish epiphany with only a few bites left on the plate (just ask my Irish mother-in-law).  But such that it was, after many years, pork belly (bacon, pancetta, etc.) brought me back to the omnivore world.

So this past Sunday morning, still sleepily in my PJs, I had to honor the thinking of my past and go back to enjoying my vegetarian days.  Wanting to really detox, I decided to nix dairy and limit bread as well, leaving my compilation of vegetarian recipes more veganized.  Carrot in hand, I knew I soon would be feeling cleansed, at least until a Bacon Butty sang my name.

With Tuesday rolling on through, so far, so good.  Even my meat-loving hubby has taken on the detox challenge (beer is mostly yeast, barley, and water, right?).  The last few days has provided us with a flurry of delicious fruit and vegetable smoothies, two rounds of leek broth that never got the opportunity to see the inside of the fridge,and experiments with Tahini paste.  But the most amazing dish so far has been a simple chard salad with a finger-licking roasted garlic dressing.  The hot bite of garlic just plain gives in to the long intense oven heat, leaving the cloves so sweet, caramelized, and wonderfully mushy.  Mushy garlic = yum.  Not exactly an equation for a linear function, but the answer to an insanely healthy vegan salad.

And tonight’s meal was another unbelievable flavor sensation… Chinese Peanut Lettuce Wraps.  Should detoxing really be this much fun?!

Raw Mushroom & Swiss Chard Salad (serves 4)

  • 5-7 stalks of large swiss chard leaves, washed, ripped off the stem and julienned into small “ribbons”
  • 1/4 c dried cherries, roughly chopped
  • 2 c crimini mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • Roasted Garlic Vinaigrette

Roasted Garlic Vinaigrette

  • 1 head of garlic, sliced in half
  • 1 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp Agave nectar
  • 3/4 tsp finely chopped rosemary
  • about 1 tsp water
  • s&p

To make the vinaigrette, preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Take the sliced head of garlic, and create a package, lightly folding aluminum foil around the garlic.  Reopen and add the water and a bit of s&p.  Lightly close the package, place on a sheet tray, and roast for about 30 minutes, until garlic is slightly browned and mushy (a pairing knife can be inserted into a clove and pulled out without resistance).

Once cooled enough to handle, squeeze the garlic cloves out of their paper into a bowl.  Add the rosemary, white balsamic vinegar, agave nectar, and mix to incorporate.  Slowly drizzle in the extra virgin olive oil, whisking all the while.  Taste for seasoning.

Pour the dressing into a salad bowl, and assemble the salad ingredients in the same bowl.  Toss to incorporate.  Taste for seasoning.

Enjoy with some crusty buttered bread, or spiced croutons!

The Chipotle Frittata Sandwich Took a Back Seat

1 Feb

… To cafeteria food.  Let me explain.

Most education specialists – speech therapists, Title 1 teachers, counselors, or otherwise, don’t always receive a typical sized classroom for their groups.  I’ve heard horror stores about speech therapists having to meet in conference rooms or broom closets due to lack of space and lack of funding to provide space.

Being a Title 1 subject specialist, I, as well as the ELL teacher and the counselor, have a small room located off the gym/cafeteria.  It works well for small groups, and I did my best to turn the gray brick walls into a place of learning, and the kids seem to really enjoy coming to my room – even if it’s just to hang out and say “hi” before the morning bell rings.

Due to the nature of my job, I have very fluid groups of kids that come see me for math intervention.  Then, based upon formal and informal assessment data, they either continue with the intervention, or “graduate” from my group.  The beginning of the year had a lot of movement, trying to figure out which kids in the school really needed the assistance, and who simply had a poor initial testing day.  But after the few beginning switches, I had a solid groups of kids ready and eager to improve in math.

One of my favorite things about being a teacher is how each class kind of forms their own personality.  They work together (for the most part), learn from each other, and generally mesh in a way that uniquely works for them.  No two classes are ever the same.  And at the end of the year, it’s always a little sad to see the class bolt out of the door, breaking that organic cohesive bond with each exuberant leap across the playground toward the summer ahead.

This year, being in this specific position, my classes are expected to change throughout the year.  We recently finished another round of formal testing, and yesterday my classes did change – drastically.  All weekend, I had this nagging familiar gut feeling that Monday was going to be like the last day of school, and the first day of school, all wrapped up into consecutive 45 minute periods throughout the day.  And my feeling was correct.  I was sad to see my classes change, the personalities of our groups evolving, but simultaneously extremely happy at the kids’ progress, and also nervous about the new dynamics of the brand new faces anticipating me as much as I was anticipating them.

With all that emotion, change, and newness, the day was already slightly exhausting my 11:00am.  But an interesting twist came at lunchtime when I started to smell the familiar, comforting scent that really only comes around once a year.  During a short break between my classes, I ran across the gym to the kitchen where I saw our lovely cooks furiously whisking mashed potatoes, and roasting giant turkey breasts with thick, rich gravy.  Stopping dead in my tracks, I looked at them open mouthed (and maybe drooling), and they looked up at me, breaking out in laughter, most likely from the ohmygosh-this-smells-like-heaven-but-I’m-confused-because-this-is-an-elementary-school-cafeteria-lunch-and-aren’t-there-Adam-Sandler-Sloppy-Joes-stereotypes-about-cafeteria-lunches?-look on my face.  As I happily relinquished my pride to the modern educational child nutrition Gods for improving what I remember as a cafeteria lunch, I asked a stupid question (for having worked at the school since August): “How do I buy lunch?”

Almost everyday I bring leftovers from the previous night’s dinner for lunch.  Bringing in things like Roasted Beet and Pear Salad with Spicy Pine Nut Butter dressing definitely draws some looks in the Teachers’ Lounge, especially next to the classic PB&J sandwich.  But yesterday’s lunch was especially good.  Sunday night, Rob was on duty and I had already brought over a Goat Cheese, Hazelnut, and Barley Salad for lunch, and a Cinnamon Raisin Bread Pudding for the next day’s breakfast.  We wanted something easy, yet stylish for his Sunday night working dinner, so I whipped up a chipotle frittata, served withOregon Pepper Jack cheese, greens, and a lime-cilantro dressing all layered between toasted 9-grain bread.  Holy cow – It. Was. Awesome.  Knowing I needed a lunch for Monday, I saved half of my sandwich, already looking forward to having a treat during my lunch break.

But before I even got close to diving into my Mexi-Italian inspired meal, the cafeteria got me.  Dragged me in.  Left me with no mercy.  Made me scream “uncle.”  Ok, I’m being dramatic again, but it was my all-time favorite comfort delight: Thanksgiving food.  I was more than happy with the lunch I had brought from home, but the simple familiarity of the Thanksgiving lunch was the perfect buffer to a day with so much change and uncertainty.  Needless to say, as I scarfed down the buttery mashed potatoes, and tore apart the turkey breast (so tender the plastic cafeteria fork more than sufficed), and practiced a good deal of adult self-restraint not the lick the last bit of gravy from the plate, my gourmet Chipotle Frittata Sandwich took a back seat.

Staying true to my New Years Resolution, I balanced my unexpected lunchtime caloric intake with a 2 mile run/5 mile walk and a lovely Green Goddess Salad for dinner.  But despite the extra reason to exercise, that lunchtime treat just made yesterday even more special.  Sadly, I said goodbye to many students and gladly accepted their group hugs.  Happily, I played 20 questions with new students, giving them the chance to break the ice and get to know me before I teach them the “tricks” of math.  I’m challenged by the opportunity to help a new group of K-4 students improve in a subject they understandably don’t like, and it’s a blessing to do so.  In hindsight (which is usually the best-sight), there was no real reason to stress about the change – it’s just a part of the job, and it’s a change that is so rewarding.

Today, almost every one of my former students came by to see me – it was so sweet.  And it made me realize what an important day yesterday really was.

(I also learned how to put money into my teacher’s lunch account, so now, the next time the Thanksgiving lunch rolls around, I’ll be ready to indulge!).

Chipotle Frittata Sandwich (serves 2)
NOTE: even though I gave this up to eat our school’s cafeteria food, it is an awesome sandwich.  Please trust me on this, try it out, and let me know what you think. 🙂

  • 2 eggs, and 2 egg whites
  • 2 tbsp half & half
  • 4 chipotle peppers in Adobo sauce, diced, seeds/veins removed
  • 4 swiss chard leaves, washed and torn (2 leaves for each sandwich)
  • 4 thin slices Pepper Jack cheese (Tillamook is my favorite at the moment)
  • 2 tbsp good mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped cilantro
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 4 slices of your favorite bread (although I love the nuttiness of whole grain breads – I think they add another dimension of taste and texture)
  • 1 tbsp grapeseed oil
  • s&p

Mix the mayonnaise, cilantro, and lime juice together to create the dressing/spread.  Taste for s&p seasoning (careful, mayo can be pretty salty on its own), and set aside.

Heat the grapeseed oil in a small (French omelet size) non-stick pan on medium heat.  Whisk the eggs, egg whites, and half & half together, and add the diced chipotle peppers.  Add mixture to the pan, and let sit for a bit to cook the bottom.  With a spatula, gently pull the sides away from the pan, tipping the pan so some of the raw egg falls under the cooked area.  When only a small amount of raw egg is on the top of the frittata, put a plate (or accompanying pan lid) on the top of the pan, flip the pan so the frittata falls onto the plate/lid.  Then immediately transfer the flipped frittata back to the pan to cook for a minute more (or, if you are really fancy, just flip the pan saute-style so the frittata has an airborne moment, flips 180 degrees and lands perfectly back in the pan.  Say “Ta-Da!” afterwards.  But I recommend doing this over the sink the first few times, to avoid a grumbling significant other cleaning up half-cooked egg on the stove).  NOTE: you can also cook a frittata in the oven at 375, just keep an eye on it as it can go from raw to brown very quickly.

Meanwhile, toast the bread slices.  When frittata is done, transfer to a plate and slice in half.  Layer the mayo dressing, the frittata, the cheese, and the swiss chard into a sandwich.  Slice and serve.


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