Friday, May 30, 2014

Farmer's Market Friday #4

It's cherry season! My favorite time of year, when cherries are ripe and juicy and red, and we can sit and eat them all day long. Ok, not all day long because that will give you a stomach ache, but we sure have eaten our fair share this past week. I bought 3 pounds on Saturday, and they were practically gone by Tuesday, so I picked up another 3 pounds, which by Friday have already been eaten up or allotted for recipes. I will be doing a Cherry Recipe Round-Up at the end of June, if you would like to submit a recipe featuring cherries, send me an e-mail with a note and your link to personalchefbyrenee[at]gmail[dot]com.

The Breakdown
Cherries $12.00 (I got 3 baskets for $4.00 each, just under 3 pounds)
Beets $4.00 ($2.00 per bunch, First Generation Farmers)
Baby Bok Choy $1.00 a bunch
White Nectarines $3.25 per pound (organic, Allard Farms)
*Splurge Item: extra pound of white nectarines (picked these up for my mom)
*Spurge Item: Brentwood Cherry Jam from 3 French Hens

Minda and Julie (the owner's of 3 French Hens) are wonderful women who take so much care and pride into their artisanal jams and jellies. They support local farmers and use local ingredients as much as possible to give back to their community. Their jams and jellies are made in small batches seasonally, and can be purchased from their website. They also have baking mixes and rubs for sale. I, in no way, am being paid commission for promoting these ladies, I just want to share a great product and company with you.

My Meal Plan for this week includes

Sweet and Sour Meatballs from Jonesin' for Taste
Sautéed Bok Choy
with Lemon Dill Vinaigrette
Pork Loin with Cherry Red Wine Sauce
Two more cherry recipes
Yes, I'm keeping these last two cherry recipes secret until they are up on the blog. Check back to see what I create.
Farmer's Market Friday #4
There was such a variety of posts to chose from this week, from tips for gardening with kids, recipes (straight from one reader's garden, I may add) and crafts that inspire and delight! Be sure you visit a few links and let them know you were there. These link-ups work best if we are spreading the blog love around. Have you added this link-up to your linky list yet?
This week's features
Easy Peasy Strawberry Cream Pie by Snapshots and Snippets
We had a problem with Amber's link so I wanted to be sure to feature her for those that didn't get to see her link and wanted to. She used fresh strawberries from her garden in this recipe. I am looking forward to trying this recipe this summer!
DIY Painted Kitchen Plates by My Pinterventures
 I love this craft! My grandmother collected plates among other things, so this craft would have been right up her alley.

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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Beet and Blueberry Salad with Lemon Dill Vinaigrette

When I think about food, I think of flavor pairings. My recipes can start with one or two ingredients that I want to highlight, and then branch out with complementary or contrasting flavors. I first made this Beet and Blueberry Salad for Mother's Day brunch, and wanted to share the recipe with you. My original Mother's Day salad had beets straight from my garden, but I picked up beautiful baby beets from First Generation Farmers on my farmer's market run yesterday.

The dressing was a happy accident based on what I had in my fridge. I knew that dill and lemon would pair well with the beets (think borsht) as well as add a nice brightness and acidity to the salad. I rounded out the dressing with a bit of local honey and coarse grain mustard. If you like a sweeter dressing use more honey and less mustard, but I liked the tanginess of it because of the sweetness of the beets and blueberries.

Roasting the beets is as easy as tossing them with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roasting at 425 F for 30 to 40 minutes. When they are fork-tender, I place them in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap to steam as they cool. The skins peel right off (I wear gloves when I do this to prevent red fingers) and they are ready to use or store in your refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Five Healthy Lunches, at home or on the go (guest post)

Meal planning makes the world go round. Ok, not really, but if does make my schedule easier. I plan out our family meals each week so that way I don't have to hear the "What's for dinner?" question every single night. While I am planning dinners, I can easily plan lunches at the same time, to maximize leftovers and minimize food costs.

This week, I shared a lunch plan over at Creative Pink Butterfly. All five of my suggestions can even be adapted and made into quick dinners for those that "don't have time" for lunch. I shared a recipe for Tarragon Chicken Salad and Turkey Pinwheels that you won't find anywhere else. Stop by, check it out, and be inspired to enjoy lunch again!

Trine's "Healthy Eating May Challenge" inspired these dishes to be lighter but still full in flavor. Like my recipes? Check my recipe index for all my recipes listed on the blog, and visit my Farmer's Market posts for weekly meal ideas utilizing seasonal produce.

Do you plan you meals each week? Here are some additional meal plans for more inspiration from some lovely ladies!


Friday, May 23, 2014

Farmer's Market Friday #3

It's starting to feel like summer in the Bay Area! I am looking forward to a great three day weekend with some grilling and chilling. I don't plan on going anywhere for Memorial Day this year, especially since I have been running around the past two weekends having fun! A couple of cold beverages while barbequing on the porch is about as far as I want to go this weekend. That being said, I won't be grilling up boring burgers and hotdogs. I plan on grilling lamb kabobs and serving them with a Kale Waldorf salad, a recipe I got from First Generation Farmer's while shopping at the farmer's market. They are still raising funds to be able to farm their entire 50 acres organically. If you would like to donate, you can head to their IndieGoGo fundraising page.

There are some definite signs of summer at the farmer's market this time of year. I picked up a great selection of vegetables, and even had $3 left over for a bouquet of flowers for myself!

The Breakdown
Green Beans $2.00 per pound (organic, Enos Family Farms)
Golden Beets $2.00 per bunch (organic, Enos Family Farms)
Blueberries $5.00 (Alpine Blue Farms)
Tuscan Kale $2.00 per bunch (First Generation Farmers)
Yellow Swiss Chard $2.00 per bunch (First Generation Farmers)
Purple Carrots $1.50 per bunch (organic, Swank Farms)
Baby Zucchini and Squash $1.50 per pound (FT Fresh Farms)
Flowers $3.00 (Sunrise Nursery)

This Week's Meal Plan Includes
Roasted Chicken with Lemon Quinoa
Vegetable Medley with Carrots and Baby Squash
Curried Green Beans
Beet and Blueberry Salad with Citrus Dill Vinaigrette
Kale Waldorf Salad
Porcupine Meatballs with Warm Swiss Chard, Onion, and Bacon
Pasta Primavera
Check back as I will be adding recipes for some of these delicious dishes onto the blog in the upcoming week!
Farmer's Market Friday Link Up #3
Thank you again to those that added links to the link-up! I love reading about your recipes, crafts and tips and tricks. Be sure to share the party! More links mean more clicks, meaning more potential views for you! You can grab this banner and add a text link to your party page. (This weekend I will work towards making it clickable!)
Miss last week's party? Check out all the links here!
Features from Last Week

Both links got the most clicks and came from Melissa at How Does Your Garden Grow?. Make sure to grab a button below!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Sun Dried Tomato Basil Aioli

Homemade Sun-Dried Tomato and Basil Aioli (garlic mayonnaise) recipe - This will become your new favorite!
I finally got tomatoes and basil to put in my garden from my local Navelet's Nursery. I picked up 2 San Marzano plum tomatoes and 3 other Heirloom varieties, plus 2 pots of basil to plant outdoors. I made sure one of my tomato plants was a cherry tomato varietal so S-Bug can snack all summer long. It will be a few more months before my tomatoes are ready for harvesting, but it feels like summer now, so I made up a batch of Tomato Basil Aioli to flavor up springtime.
I originally got this recipe as part of a recipe card from my artichoke vendor at the farmer's market. The original recipe is served at Rio Grille in Carmel, California as a dip for marinated, fire-roasted artichokes. I have scaled down and adapted the recipe to my personal preferences.
Besides being paired with grilled artichokes, this aioli is wonderful for adding flavor to grilled chicken or steak, or stirred into a pasta salad. You can replace mayonnaise with this aioli the next time you make a turkey sandwich for some kicked-up flavor. This aioli would also make a lovely dip for crudité and pita chips at your next event.
Sun-Dried Tomato and Basil Aioli - Mayonnaise at home is easy to do with fresh ingedients and a food processor.

Tomato Basil Aioli
Makes 2 cups

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 cup basil leaves, packed
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic (about 2 small cloves)
  • 1 6-ounce jar sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil (reserve oil to add even more sun-dried tomato flavor to your aioli)
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup water
  • salt and pepper
Note: This recipe calls for raw eggs. I buy local eggs from a trusted vendor. You can find  pasteurized eggs at most grocery stores, if you prefer. As with any recipe, food safety is important. Be sure to refrigerate any leftover aioli and use up within 2-3 days.

  1. Drain oil from tomatoes, reserve.
  2. Puree garlic, tomatoes and basil in a food processor.
  3. Drop in egg yolks and slowly pour in reserved oil and 1 cup of olive oil.
  4. Thin with water until desired consistency, then season with salt and pepper.
Printer Friendly Recipe

Have you ever made your own mayonnaise or aioli from scratch?

Friday, May 16, 2014

Farmer's Market Friday #2

First off, thanks to those that linked up their posts last week! I had fun reading and sharing your posts. What's a party without friends? Be sure to share the party so we can have more amazing links added to the party!

This week, I managed to drag my sick self to the farmer's market to pick up a few things for the week. This weekend we will be at the Bay Area Maker Faire in San Mateo, so I only needed to pick up enough for a few meals. 

The Breakdown
Eggs $5 for 20 (GV Poultry, organic)
>>These guys have a better deal than the grocery store, so I pick up eggs from these guys every other week. We go through a lot of eggs in our house!<<
Strawberries $5 for two baskets (Vasquez Farms, organic)
Leeks $2 (Nunez Farms, organic)
Tomatoes $2.50 per pound (Swank Farms
Zucchini and Squash $1.50 per pound (Enos Family Farms, organic)
Blue Lake Green Beans $4 per pound (organic)

My meal plan revolves around what I can find at the farmer's market. That being said, it has to be flexible enough for me to change meals around at a moment's notice. I had planned to make roasted shrimp and asparagus (from last Thursday's Market) but because it was 90 degrees on Tuesday, I made a bacon and asparagus scramble and we had breakfast for dinner. I had planned on breakfast for dinner on Friday, but instead we will have a creamy leek and shrimp pasta dish. I still had a few apricots from last week also, so will be incorporating them into an apricot Dijon glaze for pork chops.

My Meal Plan

Egg and Cheese Breakfast Burritos:
My two-year old loves these and my husband can wrap them up and eat it on the way to work.
Pasta with Shrimp and Leeks in a Cream Sauce
Pork Chops with Apricot Dijon Glaze
Sautéed Vegetables
Leftovers will be great in a quick omelet for breakfast the next day.

Fresh Tomatoes with Basil and Olive Oil
Strawberries for topping yogurt (or ice cream!) or for snacking on
Farmer's Market Friday Link Up
Thank you to those who linked up last week at the premiere of Farmer's Market Friday and to those that shared the party! Be sure to invite your friends to keep the party a success! I have created a button you can share.
I am learning how to create a clickable button, but for now, you can use it as an image with a text link.

Features from Last Week

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Friday, May 9, 2014

Farmer's Market Friday (with new Link Up) #1

Welcome to Farmer's Market Friday. I took the same principles as Twenty Dollar Thursday, and added a twist, a link up party for you! Now that the nights are getting longer, our seasonal Thursday night farmer's market has opened and is in full swing through October, I needed to move my Farmer's Market segment to Fridays. I will still be budgeting $20 a week in market goodies, with a few "splurge items" here and there! I believe that shopping directly from the farmers and artisans is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint, while getting high-quality goods from local sources.

It was another successful week shopping at the farmer's market. I added the extra four dollars that I didn't spend last week to this week's shopping trip, giving me $24 dollars to spend. Since Mother's Day is Sunday, I picked up the larger container of blueberries and a few more vegetables to include in my brunch selections. Our abnormally dry springtime that followed the mildest winter I have ever experienced meant that summer produce is already upon us. Stone fruits and tomatoes are starting to make an appearance, while cherry season will be cut short this year, due to the drought.

The Breakdown
Leeks $2 (Nunez Farms, organic)
Broccoli $2 (Nunez Farms, organic)
Rainbow Chard $2 (Nunez Farms, organic)
   <<These ladies run a special where they will sell you 3 bunches of produce for $5>>
Asparagus $3.50 (Checchini and Checchini)

Tomatoes $2 per pound (Resendiz Farms)
Apricots $2 per pound (Resendiz Farms)
   <<I spent $7.50 here, buying about a pound of tomatoes and a few pounds of apricots>>
Blueberries $8 per pint (Alpine Blue Farms)

In addition to the produce acquired from the farmer's market, I have also harvested beets and red onions out of my vegetable garden at home. As I was shopping the farmer's market, I was menu planning in my head, and planning recipes to show off the produce that  picked up. I had a game plan before buying some things, like the blueberries and tomatoes, but then the rest of the produce I picked up based on what was available and looked good.

My Plan

Fresh Pico de Gallo salsa for burritos
-tomatoes and red onion
Beet and Blueberry salad for Mother's Day Brunch
-blueberries and beets
Leek, Pancetta, and Gruyere frittata for Mother's Day brunch
-leeks, eggs (from last week)
Dijon Chicken with Apricot Compote

I'm still up in the air about what to do with the rainbow chard and asparagus, so I'm taking suggestions. Do you have any ideas?

Now let's get to the link up, shall we? While farmer's market recipes are encouraged, feel free to link up any of your recipes, crafts, DIY/décor posts, etc... The top links will be featured in next week's Farmer's Market Friday post.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Twenty Dollar Thursdays, Welcome May

Welcome back to Twenty Dollar Thursdays! This week I am getting back in the groove of things now that Spring Break is over. Last week there may have not been a post, but I was sure to still head to my local farmer's market. This Strawberry Rhubarb Pie featured strawberries from Rodriguez Farms and my Homemade Minestrone Soup featured kale from First Generation Farmers and cauliflower from Garcia Farms. Our Thursday night farmer's market has opened for the season, and I am excited to head there tonight to check out the new vendors and pick up strawberries and produce for the weekend.

Week of May 1st:
This week I headed to the market with only $16 (there was a miscommunication and nobody stopped to pick up cash) so I made it work the best I could. I will add the extra $4 to next week's Twenty Dollar Thursday when I do my Mother's Day edition. I was able to get a flat of 30 organic eggs, plus the vegetables pictured above. I picked up these organic icicle radishes and purple carrots from Swank Farms, out of Hollister, CA. I picked up a whole bag of baby artichokes for only $4! I will be grilling them this weekend, yum!
Instead of kale, I picked up a bunch of swiss chard from First Generation Farmers. I have been swinging by to visit these guys almost every week. They are a community farm that offers education and volunteer opportunities to those interested in changing our current food system. They are currently running a campaign on IndieGoGo to raise $50,000 to transform their farming practices on their 50 acre farm and classify the crops produced as 100% organic.

The Breakdown:
Eggs $7 for 30 count
Baby Artichokes $4 for bag of 10
Swiss Chard $2
Purple Carrots $2
Icicle Radishes $1

This week's meal plan includes
Grilled Artichokes with Sundried Tomato Aioli
Warm chard salad with carrots and raisins, inspired by this recipe
Carrot Top Pesto, from Cookin' the Market
If I have a couple of artichokes left over, I would like to try to make these