Gifts from Bend, OR

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Green your coffee routine

Save 23 lbs of waste this year and start using a reusable coffee cup to keep you caffeinated.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

New uses for kale and chard

It's CSA time and this year, I've decided I'm going to embrace kale and chard. Both, are not my favorite green but last summer, I discovered that kale was actually pretty good with Caesar dressing.

Over the winter, I discovered Canadian blogger Kristie and her love for green smoothies.  So I thought, I would definitely give it a shot.

My husband thought it sounded gross but in the end, it was actually tastes pretty good. And it also helps that I have a freezer full of these:
The latest issue of Everyday Food suggested making a large batch and storing in plastic bags in the freezer. If you'd like to enjoy it in the morning, pull out of the freezer overnight and then store in the refrigerator. 

Green smoothie 1

4 kale or chard leaves
frozen banana
1 cup of milk
1-2 tablespoons of yogurt (I used Greek but I'm sure vanilla or plain regular works great)
frozen berries (optional - if I have some on hand I will throw some in)

Throw in a blender and give it a whirl. You'll thank me later.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Meatless Monday: Caprese pizza

a salad in your mouth
We've been on a pizza kick at our house. Since pizza crust is super easy to make and the recipe makes two, we've been having it weekly, it seems.

If my husband would have it his way, we'd eat sausage, pepperoni and black olive pizza week but he's also finding that a pie stacked with seasonal veggies is just as good.

This is a take on the classic tomato salad with basil, caprese salad.

Caprese pizza

Homemade or store bought pizza dough
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, pressed
2 roma tomato, sliced
1/4 cup basil, torn into pieces
mozzarella cheese
parmesan cheese

Pre-heat oven to 500 degrees. Roll out the pizza dough on a pizza stone. Mix the olive oil with garlic and brush onto the pizza dough (all the way to the edges). Arrange tomatoes and basil. Top with desired amount of mozzarella cheese and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Respect the 'barb: Rhubarb crumble bars (or muffins)

Image courtesy of
Martha Stewart's rhubarb crumble bars are an old standby recipe of mine. It usually only needs one stalk of rhubarb and is simple to make. I also have made it into muffins. Just built using the cake batter, rhubarb and crumble and bake and they are the perfect bit size dessert. (I can't remember how long you bake the muffins but it's less than the time you make the bars.

Rhubarb Crumble Bars
from Martha Stewart

For The Streusel

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus room-temperature butter for pan
1 cup all-purpose flour, (spooned and leveled), plus more for pan
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

For The Cake

1/2 pound rhubarb, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 tablespoon light-brown sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour, (spooned and leveled)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan. Line with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on two sides. Butter and flour parchment and pan, tapping out excess flour.

Make streusel: Whisk together butter, brown sugar, and salt. Add flour and mix with a fork until large crumbs form. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Make cake: In a medium bowl, combine rhubarb, brown sugar, and 1/4 cup flour. In another medium bowl, whisk 3/4 cup flour, baking powder, and salt. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and confectioners' sugar until light and fluffy; beat in eggs, one at a time. With mixer on low, beat in vanilla, then flour mixture. Spread batter in prepared pan. Sprinkle with rhubarb and top with streusel.

Bake cake until golden and a toothpick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs attached, 45 to 50 minutes. Let cool completely in pan. Using paper overhang, lift cake from pan. Cut into 16 bars.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Respect the 'barb: Rhubarb salsa

Since rhubarb is a vegetable, I decided to make a savory salsa for my chicken and fish dishes this week. Now the recipes says it serves 2 generously. I ended up getting two mason jars of salsa and shared one with a friend. It was amazing on top of my grilled chicken and amazing in my fish tacos.

Rhubarb salsa
from Cook Local

3-4 medium stalks of rhubarb, sliced (about 2 cups)
1/2 red onion, minced
2 tsp olive oil
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper
Set a small pot of water to boil.
Drop the sliced rhubarb in the boiling water and boil for ONLY ONE MINUTE!
Immediately transfer the rhubarb to a strainer and then to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process.
Mix the rhubarb, red onion, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, sugar, and crushed red pepper flakes.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Respect the 'barb: Rhubarb strawberry freezer jam

5 cups of rhubarb
You might remember that in the fall I'm a little obsessed with roasting and using my own pumpkin puree. The same goes for rhubarb in the spring. My co-worker knows this and brought me 10 lbs of rhubarb, half of which I gave to other friends. I still had a ton so I decided to make freezer jam. salsa and crumble bars.

I could have frozen it. To freeze it,  cut it into 1/2 inch pieces and freeze on a sheet pan like you do with blueberries and then bag them. They will last 6 months.

My friend Shawn and I were just talking about freezer jam and how it's usually runny. Then I remembered a recipe that used gelatin instead of pectin so I thought I would give it a whirl. The idea is that it sets like regular jam would.

The first time I made this recipe, I followed the directions but I wondered after I finished if there was a way to avoid the red dye in Jello so I used plain gelatin and substituted 1 cup of strawberries in my second batch.  Both set up nicely but my second batch wasn't as red (sans the red dye).

Rhubarb Strawberry Freezer Jam (adapted from

5 c. chopped rhubarb (if making with plain gelatin do 4 cups of rhubarb and 1 cup of strawberries)
1/4 c. water
2 1/4 to 3 c. sugar
1 sm. pkg. strawberry jello (sub plain gelatin)

On medium low heat, bring water and fruit to boiling and mash well. Add sugar and bring to boil again. Remove from heat and add jello. Put in containers and refrigerate or freeze for later. Makes 4 cups jam.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Green plan: plant containers and vegetable garden

Believe it or not, there are times I miss Nebraska. As much as I like the fact that the weather in Central Oregon is rather mild (never too hot or cold), this year, our spring was rather cold and rainy. So much for the claim that Central Oregon has 300 days of sun? It seemed while my Nebraskan family and friends were planting their garden's around Mother's Day, it was just this past weekend when we finally felt safe to plant containers and our small vertical garden.

If my husband had it his way, we'd have a deck full of gutters but since this project is new to us, I only allowed him to do two rows of gutters (I know, I'm mean).

Since we waited so long, we couldn't find starter plants so my husband planted butter lettuce seeds and green onions. I hope we're not too late on this.

Since some of our friends have had great success with Topsy Turvy's, we also did two tomato plants and a variety of herbs in one.

I also did two containers of herbs. I put the mint in it's own container because I would like to have that all year round for mojitos.

All that for $42! Now, since I don't have a green thumb, it's up to my husband to water and keep everything healthy. Hopefully, we don't kill everything!

How are your garden's going?

This knocks off three goals on our Practically Green Green Plan for 2011.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Meatless Monday: Lentil Burgers

Lentil Burger
Back when I was on a lentil kick, my mother-in-law who lives in Arizona, forwarded me this recipe. I found it interesting and a little strange that this concoction could be made into a a burgerlike substance.

When I made it, it was too runny for patties so I let it sit for a couple hours and it magically thickened up. After grilling and dressing like a normal burger, I was pleasantly surprised at how tasty this recipe is and my husband was in love with it. I will definitely make this again.

Lentil Goat Cheese Burgers (adapted from Cara’s Cravings)
Make 4 burgers

Don’t be shy with the salt. I always need more than I expect in these.

¾ cup dried lentils
1 bay leaf
1 large carrot, coarsely chopped
2 large shallots, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
4 ounces goat cheese
¼ cup breadcrumbs (fresh or dried)
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 egg
for serving: buns, mustard, lettuce, tomato

1. Combine lentils, bay leaf, ½ teaspoon salt and 3 cups water in medium saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer until the lentils are tender, 18-20 minutes. Drain the lentils, discarding the bay leaf.

2. Meanwhile, process the carrot, shallots, and garlic in the food processor until finely chopped but not pureed, about 5 seconds. (Do not clean processor bowl or blade.) Heat 1½ teaspoons olive oil in a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat; sauté the vegetables with a pinch of salt until softened and the shallots just browns around the edges, about 5 minutes. Add the vinegar; cook, stirring occasionally, until it has reduced to a syrupy consistency, 1-2 minutes.

3. Combine the lentils, sautéed vegetables, cheese, bread crumbs, and pepper in the food processor; process until evenly mixed and finely ground. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Add the egg; pulse until just combined.

4. Divide the dough into four portions; shape each one into a disk about ½-inch tall and 4 inches across (or approximately the diameter of your burger buns). Chill, uncovered, for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 days (cover if longer than 30 minutes).

5. Heat the remaining 1½ teaspoons of oil in a 12-inch nonstick pan over medium to medium-high heat. Using a spatula, carefully lower each patty into the pan; cook without moving for 4 minutes, until the bottom side is browned. Flip the patties and continue cooking for another 6 minutes until the second side is browned. Serve immediately with buns and toppings.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Commute Options week

Tomorrow starts Commute Options Week in Central Oregon and I think I may have my husband talked into sharing a car this week. If you live in Bend, it's super easy to sign up! They are also giving away custom Bend Velo cruiser!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Oh blog, how I have missed you

Life has been hectic ... here is my life in photos:

My son celebrated his 3rd birthday ... where does the time go ...

My son gave up his binkie. Well, I cut it and then he decided to flush the "broken" binkie down the toilet. I know, not very eco-friendly but we're now 10 days binkie free and Lil B is talking up a storm. The downside is that the transition has been just ok. He still can't figure out how to fall asleep and his old routine won't work. He also won't nap unless you drive him in the car for 20 mins. He's also refusing to sleep at pre-school and throwing massive fits. I pray each night that this will pass.

"big mousey" as the kid calls it

There was the whole marmot (aka rock chuck, large ground squirrel) living in our car incident. My husband unknowingly picked two up at his office and transported them home. You know how to get marmots out of your car? Just leave the hood open overnight and they'll leave because it's not warm in there anymore. In the end, our car had to be towed and fixed and it wasn't cheap. But, it was a blessing because I drove it (Honda Civic vs Jeep Liberty) to the Columbia River Gorge for wine tastings and to Central Washington to the Sasquatch Festival. Saved a boat load in gas.

driving through Yakima, WA

acoustic Tweedy
A lot of people do not get my love for Wilco and I'm ok with that but it was nice to be surrounded by so many people that get it (25,000 ppl that get it). Wilco is a band you just have to see live. Listening to cds or watching YouTube videos won't do. I don't regret the 700 miles roundtrip, bumps and bruises from standing in the front row to get my prized spot or all the alone drive time. The concert was the best I've seen. Jeff Tweedy was rather cheerful and had this goofy grin on his face the whole time. Nels Cline had some amazing guitar solos. I walked away truly blessed to have been there

This weekend my husband had his benefit concert for his sister with breast cancer. My brothers-in-law came up to represent Natasha, who couldn't make the trip. It was nice to spend some time with family!

We haven't planted our vertical garden yet because it actually snowed Memorial Day weekend. (Yes, you read that right). We plan on working on that this week so look for an update.

I think that just about covers life in my house. I have tons of blog ideas just need to get them all hammered out but it's good to be back!


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