Winter veggies

Oddly enough, we get some of our best veggies in the winter ~ 

Weekly veggiesFor the second winter in a row, we’re participating in a CSA (community supported agriculture). From a practical point of view, CSAs win out over traditional grocery stores: I get to order my food online, receive it door-front every Saturday and spend way less money than I would in the grocery store. (Our produce bill adds up to about $30 a week for the entire winter – January till end of March.) Plus, we are forced to plan a menu, which is automatically chock full of vitamins and minerals. It’s also fun to sample exotic (to us) veggies we didn’t know about before. Surely, you didn’t miss that terrifying looking growth front and center (romanesca). Just in case, here ya go again ~

RomanescaPart of the cruciferous family, romanesca is somewhere between broccoli and cauliflower, in everything from shape, to consistency, to color. We stir fried it last week with our winter broccoli. Not only was it deliciously sweet, but it also stood up well to being cooked. To try this week are rutabagas, which I plan to mash, similar to last winter’s since perfected mashed turnips. What veggies do you use during the cold months?


Healthy(er) treats

Between a French club cheese tasting early Friday evening and out-of-town friends in for the weekend, I had a couple of excuses to try out some trusty Pinterest recipes. I love unhealthy food but don’t love how it makes me feel, so I’m always looking for ways to cut corners without sacrificing taste. (Greek yogurt for sour cream or mayonnaise, all natural sweeteners like Tru-via for chemical-laden Splenda, or beans for flour.)

Instead of bringing cheese to the French club gathering, I was tasked with a fruit plate, so tried out a twist on the traditional marshmallow fluff fruit dip, which is simple, only requiring 1 cup of powdered sugar, 1 container of marshmallow fluff and 8 oz of softened cream cheese. I take no issue with powdered sugar since we don’t  eat much of it in our house, but I just can’t level with marshmallow fluff, its main ingredients including public enemy #1 corn syrup as well as “vanillan”, which is chemically-derived vanilla. No thanks.

So I tried to think what might approximate the fluffiness of the “fluff” and opted for whipped cream cheese instead of regular. Then I substituted Greek yogurt to approximate the consistency (although obviously it’s wetter than the fluff

I beat my substitutes and scooped it all into a cute little Paris bowl. The result was delicious, but I would recommend beating at a high speed for a couple extra minutes to get that extra frothiness to make up for the absence of the processed fluff.

I had also been wanting to try a delicious recipe I spied for 7-up biscuits. They included 2 cups of Bisquick, 1/2 a cup each of sour cream and 7-up and 1/4 cup of melted butter. I rationalized the melted butter since I was only using it to coat the pan and then substituted the Bisquick for Trader Joe’s buttermilk pancake mix (no preservatives), the sour cream for Greek yogurt and the 7-up for organic sparkly limeade. 12 minutes in the oven at 425 degrees produced these guys:

They were so much moister than regular biscuits I’ve done from scratch or from a box, and the butter-coated pan made all the difference in terms of taste. You can’t tell from this picture, but I cut them in a really irregular way, so some of them turned out almost cracker-like. Délicieux ! Have you discovered any (sort of) healthy treats recently?

Using fresh produce

I’ve been trying hard to do two things recently:

-take advantage of the end of fresh produce before the weather cools down for real.

I mean look at those gorgeous fall mushrooms! Can’t wait to make creamy mushroom pasta with fresh parsley and grated parmesan this week.

-make minimum one Pinterest recipe per week. Last week I went with this delicious avocado salad dressing. 

Avocado, cilantro, and dill - yummy salad dressing with 3 avocados, 1 bunch of cilantro, 1/2 cup of dill, 1/2 cup Olive oil, 1/2 cup coconut milk, and the juice of 1 squeezed lemon. Add 1/8t salt, garlic pwdr, and onion pwdr. Blend on high in the blender. Store in a mason jar in the fridge


I’ll give you the specifics below and tell you how I changed it up a bit, but know that when the main ingredients are avocado, fresh dill and fresh cilantro, it’s hard to go wrong! Here’s what my prep looked like:

See how simple?! One bunch diced cilantro and half a cup diced dill, juice of one lemon, pinches of salt, garlic and onion powders, a half a cup each of olive oil and coconut milk and three avocados. Throw it all into a blender and pulse till it’s liquid-y. 

The substance of the avocados dressing the fresh spinach and feta crumbles made for a completely satisfying (and healthy!) lunch. D was not as crazy about my goddess dressing as I was earlier this summer, so I’m thinking we can alternate between these two until the produce leaves us for the winter. 

Also, I’m not a salt-a-holic, but I really thought it could use more than the pinch it called for. And if you like a kick like we do, try adding in some cayenne pepper! 

Birthday eats

If you join me here at artsdevivre regularly, you might have noticed two changes : 1) I’m really trying to post very consistently,  and 2) I’m developing a bit of a schedule: Mondays you find food and drink ideas and inspiration, Tuesdays house and home, Wednesdays travel, Thursdays Francophilia (a personal favorite) and Fridays are aléatoire (random). Just thought I’d point that out in case you hadn’t noticed 🙂

So, in the spirit of foodie Mondays, I thought I’d tell you about some of our culinary adventures this past weekend. We celebrated D’s birthday Saturday evening with friends and Sunday evening with his parents.

Saturday, we went to Pabu, an amazing sushi restaurant that lives at the 4 Seasons in the Inner Harbor. (One of D’s great friends from high school is actually one of the sushi chefs there!). Check out some of our beautiful plates ~

This was called a “Happy spoon.” Not for sushi beginners, it included uni, an oyster, ikura (salmon roe) and creme fraîche. I didn’t try it but everyone that did raved.

I love the presentation and mixture of color we got on this platter. The salmon, the tuna, the mackerel, the himachi and the cuttle fish were all fresh and delicious!

Yesterday, D fried catfish and made his homemade “Asian barbecue sauce” (it’s a hoisin-based sauce laced with soy, the perfect mixture of salty and sweet), for our version of fish tacos. I didn’t get around to photographing the tacos because I was too busy eating them, but I loved these vegetarian left overs ~

The green cilantro, purple cabbage, yellow corn and black beans are so pretty all mixed together. And actually make a yummy day after salad!

Since D is a chocoholic, I decided to make him a classic French flourless chocolate cake. It is not light – the only ingredients are eggs, butter, semi-sweet chocolate and sugar – but it is rich and delicious. I chose to sprinkle it with powdered sugar and whipped cream was an option (of which all four of us chose to avail ourselves)! This was the first time I’ve made a flourless cake and I’m thinking it’ll become a go-to. You can find the recipe I used here.

What did you nosh on this weekend?




Ricotta cheese

When summer is here (it is, has been, and seems it will always be, here :/), I’m always on the lookout for ways to lighten up meals. My two buzzword phrases are “I’m hungry” or “I’m sleepy” though and because of the former, I can’t just skip meals like some do when it’s really hot. On top of training for a notoriously hilly 10 mile race (please! just get here, already!), I’ve got to be sure I’m providing my poor muscles with enough protein.

My favorite new re-discovery is ricotta cheese. D and I enjoyed a mini-block of this creamy mild cheese drizzled with honey as an antipasti during our first dinner in Italy last summer. It was so yummy we vowed we’d incorporate it into our meals at home but we didn’t, really. I’d always think about it after I had purchased cream cheese, would make a mental note to do the switch the next shopping trip, but then just forget all over again. This yummy looking pin, however, reminded me how yummy and refreshing ricotta is,


and the past couple of weeks I’ve been incorporating it into everything. Did you know you can save up to 109 calories by substituting cream cheese with ricotta on your bagel?! An easy switch and one that won’t leave you feeling deprived at all. ~

A honey whole wheat bagel with ricotta and sliced bananas stuck with me for hours and recharged me well after a long, hot run.

D opted for a ricotta on a sea-salt bagel. Drizzled with honey, it was the perfect combination of salty and sweet.

Out of mayonnaise and not feeling like going to the store, I substituted ricotta as the base in a French onion dip recently. YUM! Talk about a healthy exchange, n’est-ce pas ?

I took a mixture of traditional pigs in a blanket (not healthy, but just so good) and crescent rolls baked with a nutella and ricotta filling to a (very hot) tailgate recently. So good. 

What healthy treats have you been enjoying this summer?