Raise your hand if you’re from the Northeast and have officially turned into a human prune!!! *both hands up*
Did YOU know it was possible to feel both dehydrated AND saturated at the same time? Heat and humidity are the latest power couple, and it is getting rough out there. I just got back from an incredible week in Connecticut at the Amherst Early Music Baroque Academy, but it wasn’t always fun and games for my fiddle… Let’s just say when working with a period instrument with gut strings in 95% humidity, the name of the game is “What The F#*! Just Came Out of My Instrument?!” 5 points every time a string goes a whole step out of tune. 10 points when two consecutive strings go out of tune in opposite directions. 15 points when you play a note and nothing comes out… You don’t really want to win.
In this heat, my second love (cooking) also becomes not-so-lovely. When the mere thought of turning on an oven drowns me in my own sweat, I often resort to “un-cooking.” Luckily, the summer season offers us a huge selection of delicious produce, so filling up on raw fruits and veggies is hardly boring. And, not to diss salad, but there are plenty of creative ways to enjoy your raw produce, which was precisely our challenge at The Recipe ReDux this month.
This month’s theme, “Get Your Fruits and Veggies in Shape,” challenged us to transform summer produce using creative cuts. My spiralizer is one of my FAVORITE tools in the kitchen for this, and summer rolls are a go-to meal for me during the warmer months – oven-free, fresh, crunchy, light, healthy, and filling! What could be better than combining the two?!
While making this recipe, I was pleased with how quick and SAFE spiralizing was as an alternative. Julienning veggies with a knife or special peeler is fine, but it takes forever… Plus, I will take any chance I can get to keep my fingers away from blades.
To “wrap up” this delicious dish (hehe) I made an easy miso sesame ginger dipping sauce. Miso is a relatively recent addition to my repertoire of ingredients, but I am in love with it. It automatically lends an explosion of flavor to whatever it’s in, and I am always looking for new ways to incorporate it. This was a home run as far as I’m concerned – miso obsessed with this recipe, and I hope you will be too 😉
- 12-24 sheets rice paper
- Warm water
- 1 large carrot
- 2 large (or 3 medium) cucumbers
- 1/2 purple cabbage
- 1 avocado, thinly sliced
- 1 mango, thickly sliced
- 1 cup cilantro or Thai basil leaves
- 3 Tbs. light miso
- 4 Tbs. seasoned rice wine vinegar
- 1 1/2-inch knob ginger, grated (about 1/2 tsp)
- 1 Tbs. sesame oil
- Spiralize carrots using the "spaghetti" blade, or thinnest blade possible. Set aside.
- Spiralize cucumbers using the "spaghetti" blade. I like to drain my cucumber noodles after spiralizing by squeezing them through a cheesecloth or a stack of paper towels. Set aside.
- Spiralize purple cabbage on the "ribbon" blade, or thickest blade possible. Set aside.
- Prepare your avocado, mango, and cilantro and arrange them alongside your other prepared veggies for easy assembly.
- Submerge a sheet of rice paper in a bowl of warm water for 5 seconds. Immediately lay the wet sheet on a cutting board or large plate.
- Fill your roll (careful not to overfill!) with veggies. I like to start with cilantro so you can see the leaves laying flat through the roll, and then add the veggies from thinnest to thickest. I also like to add more cilantro on top before rolling.
- Roll each summer roll delicately while keeping it as compact as possible.
- Whisk all ingredients together until smooth.
- Work as quickly as possible to prevent your rice paper from sticking to your surface!
- If necessary after rolling, double up with another sheet of rice paper.
Raise your hand if you are READY FOR SUMMER VACATION. *lots of girls-with-raised-hands emojis*
In the eight (ack!) weeks since we last spoke over crepes, a lot has happened. I played a master’s recital, made my first ever wedding cake for my best friend’s wedding, performed some more, graduated with a master’s degree (with a former New York Yankee)… Oh. And another thing:
I GOT INTO JUILLIARD!!!!
This is probably not real life. Actually, I’m positive it’s not. I’m definitely just having the deepest and most wonderful nap dream ever. Is somebody gonna wake me up before I pee? No? SO IT IS REAL?! 😀
In all seriousness though, I’m ecstatic to be continuing my education in their historical performance program. Who wouldn’t be?! I get to play baroque violin all day every day, play with an amazing group, and learn from some of early music’s most revered artists. This has been a dream of mine ever since I began playing baroque violin, and it’s actually coming true.
….I am also a leeeetle bit wiped out though. #realtalk. This was a warm (not quite hot) mess of a busy year that turned out to be SO BEYOND worth the struggle. Preparing an audition on baroque violin while still juggling grad student life on modern violin nearly made me crazy, and I questioned my sanity every 7 minutes, basically. One thing I learned in the process, though, is that when things get stressful, you just need to power through one day, one task, and one minute at a time. Bite-sized goals on small plates… Do you see where I’m going yet?
I’m pretty sure I’ve loved Chinese takeout ever since I could eat solids. Sure, I was fed from day one by the best of the best – my mom has always been super creative in the kitchen, and my grandma made a legendary pot roast. But you and I both know how it is when you’re eating food out of a white box.
My aunt used to come watch me when I was a wee one, and whenever we ordered Chinese food she would always get us bean curd with steamed vegetables. I LOVED the stuff, and to this day, it’s still my go-to healthy takeout order. Of course, it wasn’t until the fifth grade that I found out “bean curd” was actually a fancy way of saying “tofu.” I was, of course, legitimately upset, because this meant I could no longer try to act cool by telling all my friends I hated tofu.
But I also grew up completely in love with sesame noodles. Carby, creamy, peanutty, salty, saucy, slightly crunchy sesame noodles. GAHHHH. So good.
As much as I love sesame noodles, though, they don’t truly love me back. Carbs on fat on carbs is delish (it’s my favorite, let’s be honest), but doesn’t look so good when you have a slinky recital dress to fit into. So, I decided to make my own version of this amazing dish using an ingredient that is brand new for me:
I’ve been re-watching “How I Met Your Mother” lately, and have been impressed all over again by just how real it gets sometimes.
Remember that time you had no idea what your life was about so you moved somewhere else on a whim, thinking it would fix all your problems? But then it didn’t? Lily did that! And remember when you dated that person who you stayed with against ALL your better judgment? Ted did that – like, seven different times! Or maybe you didn’t do either of those things, but I bet you know someone who did! It’s as if they know.
But you know what I find totally unrealistic about HIMYM, though? They’re always at the bar. I get that it’s their social hub, and I guess if I lived right over a bar I’d go there a lot too. But it really just seems like they are always freakin’ there. Tell me, real world humans, who seriously has the time to sit around drinking beers and acting ridiculous on a regular basis? Not me. Well, maybe I act ridiculous, but many nights, I don’t even have time to make my own dinner. That’s when I end up calling in a favor from my friend Amy.
Don’t get me wrong, I love cooking for myself (probably obvious given the food blog). But whether you like to cook or not, sometimes the time crunch is real and a frozen meal is the best way to go, especially if you’re trying to save money and eat what you have in the house. Yes, some frozen meals can be considered “healthy’ – Amy makes a killer vegan mac and mattar paneer! – but what if there were a way to combine the convenience of a pre-bought frozen meal with the peace of mind that comes with preparing your food from scratch? Surprise! THERE IS!
I’m back! It feels so nice to return to posting after several weeks of “hiatus” and a few days of remodeling the site. Although I’ve stayed up-to-date on social media, I know I’ve been completely neglecting my blog, and that makes me sad. Especially since I keep excitedly hashtagging “#ontheblog soon” on Instagram, and then not actually following through. Isn’t that abysmal? Maybe you’ll forgive me, since preparing for graduate auditions, practicing for my senior recital, and attempting to play violin in general have taken up all of my time over the past few months. Which is weird, since I still can’t play violin. I’ll keep trying though, and maybe one day I’ll understand how this thing I’ve been doing for 17 years actually works. Maybe. I did start a practice journal, which for the past…. three days (haha) has proven itself to be pretty efficient so far. Planning out my weekly/daily practice goals and logging my progress has already helped me to approach my music from a fresh angle. Yesterday didn’t go as well, but I kind of sealed my fate when I attempted to practice solo rep after playing orchestra music for five hours. (Stupid…)
In other news, I just applied to graduate, which is strange, since I SWEAR I just got to college. Before I know it, I’ll have to be making mundane adult decisions, like whether “eggshell” or “tropical sand” is a better paint color for the
cardboard box I’m living in master bedroom. I’m not quite there yet, so over winter break when I wasn’t obsessing over the future, practicing, or resisting the allure of Netflix, I was developing recipes like crazy. Some of the recipes were amazing, and some were… not. I made this granola for family and friends as a holiday gift, so I had several rounds of baking to perfect it. It didn’t really take many tries, since the first round was pretty great, but needless to say, this recipe has joined the ranks as “amazing,” and I will definitely be making my own granola from now on! I always like to make my own foods whenever possible and avoid store bought products, since it’s healthier (and often times, cheaper) to be in control of what goes into your food.
This recipe contains all “real” ingredients, and can be modified to fit your dietary needs/wishes. You can customize granola easily, and I admittedly had a little help from Buzzfeed when I made the first batch. Their article really helped give me a good idea about proportions, but I was able to tweak a couple things here and there until the final product was perfectly crisp, crunchy, nutty, sweet, and crackly. I hope you enjoy this granola as I much as I do (I literally had some in a cup of Chobani while typing this… I can’t stay away)!
- 3 cups rolled (NOT quick-cooking) oats
- 1-1½ cups pecans, roughly chopped
- 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
- 1½ teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. cardamon
- 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
- 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
- 1/4 unrefined coconut oil, melted
- 1/2 cup liquid egg whites
- 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- Unsweetened dried cranberries (optional after baking)
- Preheat oven to 300˚F.
- In a large bowl, mix oats, chopped pecans, unsweetened coconut, cinnamon, cardamom, and salt.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the maple syrup, vanilla, and egg whites, and then stir into the oat mixture.
- Melt your coconut oil, and then add it to the oat mixture after maple/vanilla/egg (this helps to avoid the coconut oil solidifying in the cold egg/the egg cooking in the hot coconut oil).
- Once all of your ingredients are together, pour them into a tray that's lined with parchment paper. Using clean hands or a spatula, spread and flatten the mixture.
- Bake for 45 minutes, or until the mixture becomes golden brown at the edges and you start salivating from granola fumes. At that point, I like to break my granola up into little chunks with a spatula, mix, and return it to the oven to continue toasting for a bit, maybe 5-10 minutes, until all of the little bits are golden brown.
- Remove from oven, and mix in dried cranberries if desired.