Zucchini and Ricotta Bites

Hi all!

I don’t know about you, but, for me, sometimes a big ol’ meal with mounds of bread and meat is the last thing I feel like eating. Sometimes it’s the only thing I feel like eating. But sometimes it’s not. So for the days that its not I’m probably in the mood for something light but that has enough good calories to get me through the day.

So I’m sharing with you today one of my go-to filling and healthy snacks that takes about 5 minutes to make and is almost impossible to screw up.

Zucchini and Ricotta Bites

I came up with this recipe because I am currently growing some gorgeous looking zucchini on my roof and they are gonna be ready soon so I need to have a variety of zucchini recipes tested and at my fingertips when my bounty is finally ready to be harvested. Plus I am one of those girls who loves zucchini. Really, I do.

Now, you don’t have to smear your ricotta onto your cutting board, I just did that for creative effect.

What you’ll need:

1 zucchini

1/3 cup ricotta, homemade or store bought

1 lemon

Extra Virgin Olive Oil for your pan

*This will make about 15 zucchini pieces, so you can adjust according to how much you want to make

What to do with it:

Start heating some olive oil in a frying pan on medium-low, not to much, just enough to lightly coat the bottom of the pan

Slice zucchini into 1/4 inch pieces, cutting on the diagonal…this will give you slightly elongated pieces which I think just looks nice

Place the slices in the pan and generously sprinkle with salt and peper

Allow to gently brown on both sides without getting too soggy, remember, you want your bites to maintain their firmness so you can pick them up with your hands

*If you end up overcooking them, just use a fork to eat

Once browned, place on some paper towels to drain off some of the excess oil

Then place on your serving platter or plate and top with a small spoonful of ricotta

Squeeze literally 2 drops of lemon juice on top of each bite – too much more and it will overpower the light flavors of both the zucchini and cheese

Garnish, if you want, with very thin slices of lemon rind, making sure to avoid using any of the white pith of the skin because it will give your bite a bitter taste

RAW Food Challenge Day 2

Hello all!

Today is Day 2 on my raw food journey, I’m jazzed!

I woke up at 7 this morning feeling great, just a little tired since it was 7 and I went to bed late (pretty much the story of my life).

I made a tasty batch of Almond Milk with the almonds I’ve been soaking and was so captivated by the taste I decided to build my breakfast around that!

This is what my almond milk looked like before I strained it

Since I’m not a breakfast person, I wanted something that wouldn’t feel too breakfast like, something that I like eating any time of the day. Then it hit me, a smoothie!

Breakfast: Banana and Two Nut Smoothie

This recipe is great cause it takes literally 5 minutes and is so simple!

This smoothie consists of

2 Frozen Bananas (or fresh bananas, and then include ice. I used frozen to kill 2 birds with 1 stone)

1/2 cup Raw Peanut Butter

2 cups Raw Almond Milk

1/4 cup of Raw Almond Meal, optional (I did this to get a little more texture and protein)

I love the color banana skins turn when they’ve been frozen, its the perfect mustard yellow!

The one thing I hate about frozen bananas with the skin still on is what a pain in the butt it is to take frozen skin off!

Toss those 3 (or 4, if you include the Almond Meal) ingredients into the blender and let it run for a minute or so

Then pour it into a glass and enjoy!

Lunch: Kale and Good Stuff Salad with Sweet and Seedy Apple Cider Vinegar Dressing

Tuesdays are my long day at school, so I decided to buy lunch on campus. We have a salad bar that I frequent about 2 times a week, so I know they have a nice selection of produce to eat. The one thing I was worried about was the dressing situation.

Def haven’t seen anything raw in that department. So I made my own and packed it in a tiny 1 oz glass jar this morning.

My recipe is not exact but roughly it goes like this:

2 parts raw, unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar

2 parts Cold Pressed Olive Oil

1 part Agave Nectar

1 part Chia Seeds

Mix together in a bowl, adjust quantities if needed, and put in glass jar for transportation

As I was packing up my dressing, I started thinking about all the things I could have on my salad today; corn, green beans, carrots, peas, edamame, chickpeas, raisins, sunflower seeds…and then I realized NONE OF THAT IS RAW! The place on campus blanches all the veggies, the raisins are probably not sun dried, and the sunflower seeds are toasted.

SHOOT.

So I hurried my butt up and threw together a salad. Here’s how it went:

Started with some Kale then added:

Diced Cucumber I had leftover from yesterday’s lunch

Clover Sprouts

Blueberries

Halved Grape Tomatoes

Broccoli Florets

Mushrooms

Avocado, lots and lots of avocado

And a big handful of Raw Hulled Hemp Seeds

I inhaled this, that’s how good it was. I eat every single one of these things raw all the time so it just made sense to make them into an awesome salad!

Snack: Sliced Watermelon and Kombucha

Breakfast this morning seriously filled me up, so I didn’t even need to eat my snack until the interim between lunch and dinner, and even then I wouldn’t have classified myself as starving. Protein early in the morning is the way to go.

Sidenote: I will be drinking a Kombucha everyday with my snack, because I like them, they are raw, they are good for you, but mostly ’cause they were on sale at the market, $5 for 2, when normally they are $4 each.

Today I went with GT’s Trilogy, which has a nice pungent gingery taste

I had half of that baby watermelon left over from yesterday as well, so I sliced it up to go along with my drink.

Dinner: Fiesta Stuffed Bell Peppers

Growing up, my mom used to make these amazing stuffed peppers that I crave to this day. She would take a bell pepper; red, orange, yellow, or green and fill them with a mixture of beans, rice, onions, corn, and ground beef or turkey, all of which was cooked in a slightly spicy sauce. She would top with a generous amount of shredded cheese and then put them in a deep skillet with a couple inches of water and let the steam slightly cook the bell pepper which simultaneously melted the cheese.

That was my inspiration for dinner tonight.

I found these adorable tiny orange bell peppers at my corner market for only 59 cents!

I cut the tops off of them and cleaned out their guts

Then I stuffed it in layers, starting with some raw garlic hummus I made

After the hummus went:

Green Onions

Sprouts

then some homemade Pico de Gallo

I made my Pico de Gallo with:

Grape Tomatoes

Cilantro

Red Onion

Lime Juice

The best part about the stuffed peppers my mom makes is the melted cheese on top. One of the hardest parts about going raw is not eating cheese, since I love it so much.

I was sorely craving some cheese on top when I remembered…Nutritional Yeast! It’s known for its cheesy flavor! A few of my friends reminded me that it’s raw so I bought some a few days ago. A healthy sprinkling of that on top, and my fiesta peppers were finished!

Today’s meals were great and minus the prep work of the almond milk and hummus, the construction of my each one took less than 20 minutes. Having the extra protein this morning certainly made me feel more alert, however, my lack of sleep caused my body to ache all over. I’m gonna head to bed soon and get a proper nights rest to circumvent feeling like this tomorrow!

My goodnight questions to you are, what are some of your favorite hummus flavors? And how do you use nutritional yeast?

Raw Tahini Sauce

As I mentioned in my RAW Food Challenge post one of the things I knew I was gonna miss when I started eating raw foods was sauce. Therefore, I have made a point to start preparing the ingredients I’ll need for raw sauces.

Today’s sauce of choice: Tahini

Last night I soaked

1 cup of sesame seeds in

2 cups of water

for 4 hours

Then, I drained out that water, rinsed the seeds and put them in the fridge to sprout overnight.

This morning I simply put the sprouted seeds and 1/2 a cup of cold-pressed Olive Oil in my trusty food processor and let it grind for about 4 minutes.

I also added the juice of 1/2 a lemon

And a pinch of salt

Because I don’t have the coveted Vitamix that all rawists talk about, my Tahini didn’t blend to a silky smooth paste.

So what, who cares?

Not me. That’s who.

I tested it, adjusted the lemon flavor (by adding a little more juice) and then deemed it good enough to top my Fruit and Veggie Salad, my lunch on Day 1 of the Raw Food Challenge, as dressing.

Want a closer look at this delicious stuff up close?

Yea, you do.

YUM

Homemade Goat Cheese

In keeping with my previous post about a recipe cooking with goat cheese, I felt it was only appropriate to post here my latest magazine article (which will come out online in a few days) about making goat cheese at home. I kept the piece in its original magazine style, to give you a taste of my more “professional” writing style.

Enjoy!

Tangy flavor, velvety texture, and versatility make it loved by the masses and easy to incorporate into so many meals. It has the intrinsic ability to class up any meal, with a name like Chèvre, it’s not hard to believe. It would not be too bold to say it may just be one of the most addicting cheeses in existence. However, as with most fine things in life, the average price for a package of goat cheese can be a bit high considering the amount being bought.

“I find goat cheese to be completely irresistible because of its creamy texture, subliminal tartness, and the semi-subconscious thought that eating it means I have a more sophisticated palate,” says SFSU student Dorothy Niederlander. “Because of the relatively high prices on goat cheese, I only purchase a log once every couple of months.”

Niederlander, and others who feel this pain need not to fear, because perhaps the best part about goat cheese is the fact that it can be made at home in just about twenty-five minutes (plus two hours of inactive time in the fridge). And one batch yields at least two times the cheese for half the cost. Rest assured, making the cheese at home is not one of those DIY projects where halfway through it becomes impossible to finish. The recipe list is simple: Goat’s milk, buttermilk, lemon juice, and salt. Do not bother using low fat goat or buttermilk either, the integrity and texture of the cheese is ruined with such a lack of fat. While that smooth, creamy taste may suggest copious amounts of fat, it is just an illusion; even with using full fat milks, goat cheese is still actually lower in fat than most cow cheeses. Andronico’s is the best place to buy goat milk because they sell it in its raw, unpasteurized form, which is optimal for making the cheese. However, in a pinch, pasteurized milk will do just fine, Trader Joe’s and Rainbow Grocery are just a few of the stores that carry it.

The process is just as simple as the ingredients; pour one liter of goat milk and one cup of buttermilk in a saucepan and let that heat up to 170-185 degrees – a word to the wise, a thermometer is needed for this.

Once the milk reaches that temperature, turn the stove off and squeeze a tablespoon of lemon juice into it, stir, and watch it begin to curdle. This may be the most crucial part of the process, not enough lemon juice and nothing will happen, too much lemon juice and the mixture will over curdle and become grainy. So measure before pouring.

Do not let pictures online fool anyone, not all curdles were born equal. Some will be big and float on top, while most will remain about the size of ¼ grain of rice and stay somewhere toward the bottom.

Let the mixture cool to 120 degrees, stirring occasionally. Then take the whole pot and pour in through a cheesecloth-lined strainer that’s inside a larger bowl and marvel at all the premature goat cheese sitting there.

Strain it, like so, for about ten minutes, dump the excess liquid out of the bowl, then take the ends of the cheese clot, twist together and squeeze – not too tight. Secure with a rubber band, place back in strainer/bowl duo, cover with a small plate or bowl, and weigh down with a heavy can and pop it in the fridge. The cheese will continue to drain so the bowl is still essential.

After two hours in the fridge, take it out and unwrap like the present it is. If the cheese is too crumbly, take the whey that was strained out in the fridge and fold it back into the mixture. This is a good time to add salt, non-iodized, to taste, the vital ingredient that extenuates the tartness of the cheese. Eat it with everything; the possibilities are endless.

Goat cheese has had a long-standing place in history, even being referenced in The Odyssey, as goats were one of the first domesticated animals, nomads would turn goat’s milk into cheese, which served as the perfect way to preserve it. Their method of curdling the milk involved slaughtering a suckling calf and extracting rennet.

“Rennet is an enzyme that is found in a calf’s stomach that causes curd to coagulate and separate from the whey,” says Jens Thorsgarb, 32, an employee at Say Cheese in Cole Valley. You can also use vegetable rennet, a hyper concentrated microbial, like a super fungus.”

Today, more in depth recipes often call for rennet to be used in the process to ensure firmer curds, though most cheese shops in the city do not carry it. Purchasing it online, in tablet or liquid form, is the easiest route and the least expensive as it only costs about six dollars, comes in fairly large quantities, and can be stored for a long period of time.

If thousands of years of homemaking cheese does not inspire confidence however, several shops around the city offer classes to help. The Cheese School of San Francisco on Powell St. teaches both instructional and educational classes and the Workshop in the Western Addition hosts mozzarella-pulling nights every so often as well. Look out for classes offered by Say Cheese as they have also been considering passing on their cheesy whiz-dom.

“The owner and I have talked about having cheese education classes that I would run,” Thorsgarb mentions while he nibbles on a slice of sheep’s milk cheese. “And as far as cheese making classes go, I’m not expert, so if we were to do that we would bring in two women we know who specialize in it.”

Spread on, fellow cheese lovers.