Grocery Shopping with Mile High Organics

September 5, 2012 in The Daily Blog

I went grocery shopping and never had to leave my house.

I didn’t have to rush to get out of work a bit earlier to race to the grocery store to scramble for a parking spot to weave through aisles to avoid impulse buys to try to stay on budget to pile everything onto a conveyer belt to make small talk with the cashier to carry bags to the carry to drive home to unload groceries from the car.

Instead, I just clicked my way through an entire grocery shop.

It was blissful, low-stress, convenient, and surprisingly not more expensive than dragging myself to the grocery store and purchasing the same items would have been. I had the opportunity to try out Mile High Organics, America’s first certified organic online grocery store based out of Denver. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I ended up being so impressed by the company, the customer service, and the quality of every food item I ordered.

There where over 700 (!) items to choose from on their website, and everything I ordered was neatly packaged into two plastic tubs fitted with insulation and ice packs. Everything was cold, fresh, and in great shape. There is never a delivery fee added on, and you don’t have to worry about making an extra trip to the grocery – this outfit sells not only produce, but everything you could possibly need for a week of healthy, organic meals.

One of my favorite things about the service is that they are completely 100% GMO-free.

Wondering what a GMO is? I got you covered!

“Genetically modified organisms (GMO’s) are two different, completely separate species that are interbred in a laboratory to create an organism that could never naturally exist.

GMOs are designed in two ways. They are either modified to resist pesticides and chemicals OR plants are modified to produce their own pesticides. In the former case pesticides can then be applied to fields indiscriminately and only the genetically modified crop will survive. When plants produce their own pesticides crops don’t need to be doused with large amounts of chemicals becuase these chemicals are actually created inside the plant itself.

Thus, genetically modified crops are either doused with larger amounts of chemicals than ever before due to their resistance, or they actually contain the chemicals inside them and are then eaten by people.”

I placed my order on a Thursday evening, and it arrived on my doorstep on Monday afternoon. Honestly, opening up these tubs was a bit like opening presents. I knew what was in the packaging – I had planned the menu and selected the groceries, and placed the order, but it still felt fun and a little bit exciting to unpack it all!

All organic, all GMO-free, all as local as possible, and I didn’t even have to leave my house. I made every meal for an entire week entirely out of food I ordered; I’ll be posting all of those recipes over the next week or so! Lots of amazing eating.

Click on over to Mile High Organics to place your first order!

Big thanks to Mile High Organics who sponsored this post and gave me the opportunity to try out their service. All opinions expressed in the post are entirely my own. 

True Snapshots

September 3, 2012 in The Daily Blog

1. Early morning pizza dough making.

2. The beginnings of this dip.

3. Pillowy dough on the rise, plus a dish ready to pop in the oven when things get busy later this week.

4. A mess of a kitchen, after getting everything prepped for this week’s meals.

5. My newest blackboard decoration. This makes me happy.

6. Stocked veggie basket. More happiness.

7. Lunch for three (my Father-in-law is in town!). Trying coconut lemongrass soup from Swing Thai for the first time. I am love.

8. Puppy in the grass.

9. My garden. Lots of green tomatoes waiting to ripen up on those branches.

10. New sprouts. I ripped out a zucchini plant and 3 cucumber plants to get fall seeds in: red leaf lettuce, butter lettuce, carrots, and broccoli. Hard to believe that the zucchini plant was once a tiny little sprout like that.

11. Wildflowers outside. I credit the bees for a successful 1st garden!

12. Wildflowers inside.

Happy Labor Day, friends! Enjoy the day off work. We are having some family over this afternoon for a barbecue. Can’t wait to relax and spend time in the sunshine.

Love, Kellie

Tropical Quinoa Salad

August 28, 2012 in Mexican, Recipe, Salad, The Daily Blog, Vegan, Vegetarian

My friend Francy came to lunch last week. She and I started teaching at our school together, four years ago. We mourned the end of summer with this quinoa salad. It was the perfect lunch to enjoy with my friend on a hot day in late August. It’s the perfect salad to package up into little containers and take for lunch now that school has actually begun.

The salad tastes of summer, with hints of coconut and splashes of lime and gentle spice. It’s a snap to put together and is best eaten chilled, with a drizzle of this salsa over the top of it.

The inspiration for this salad came from a salad eaten in New Orleans at Carmo, a tropical cafe near the Convention Center. Jason and I took nine kids there for lunch; it was a hot and humid day and I was worried if all the kids would like what the restaurant had to offer. Turned out they all loved it. We loved it, too. We split a quinoa salad and a fresh tuna sandwich. And then I came home and figured out a way to bring this salad’s tropical freshness with me.

I know that quinoa can be a bit scary. But, don’t be frightened off; I am not the world’s biggest quinoa fan, but the quinoa here takes on a toasty, golden flavor from the coconut oil and the texture is nicely matched by all the little gems that join it in the bowl. This salad makes me like quinoa. I hope it will do the same for you.

Ingredients:

2 tbs. olive oil

1 yellow onion, finely diced

2 cloves garlic, finely diced

1 tbs. coconut oil

1 cup quinoa, rinsed

15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved

½ cup chopped cilantro

¼ cup feta or cojita cheese, crumbled (leave out for a vegan salad)

¼ cup roasted, unsalted sunflower seeds

4 cups mixed greens

1 avocado, cubed

Dressing:

juice of 2 limes

1 tsp. cumin

½ tsp. kosher salt

2 tbs. coconut oil

1 tsp. chili paste

Directions:

Heat coconut oil in a large pot over medium heat, then add quinoa. Stir to coat and allow quinoa to toast, around 5-7 minutes, until it smells fragrant and nutty. Once toasted, add 1 3/4 cups of water to the pot, stir once, bring to a gentle boil, then cover and allow to simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat, uncover and fluff with a fork.

While quinoa toasts, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and saute until fragrant and translucent, around 5 minutes, then add garlic and saute for another 2-3 minutes. Stir often.

While quinoa simmers and onions saute, prepare all other ingredients. Prepare dressing by combining ingredients in a medium jar. Shake to thoroughly combine. Taste and adjust flavors as necessary.

Combine all ingredients except lettuce and sunflower seeds in a large bowl. Line individual bowls with a cup of lettuce, then top with quinoa mixture. Sprinkle with toasted sunflower seeds and serve with a small bowl of homemade salsa for drizzling.


French Onion Football Dip

August 26, 2012 in Appetizers, Recipe, The Daily Blog, Vegetarian

School begins tomorrow.

I’m not excited about it, and I definitely haven’t accepted it, but ready-or-not-here-it-comes.

The return of school, of brisk mornings, of shortening days, of fantasy football.

Uh-huh. The benefit of summer ending and school beginning is that it means football season is upon us!

Fair trade? Hardly, but I suppose it must be.

We might as well be ready for it. (Football season, that is.)

Today I have one of our favorite cheap and easy football snacks. It’s French Onion Dip, but not like you’ve ever had from a packet of seasoning and a tub of sour cream. No sir! This dip is fresh, wholesome, and even more delicious.

It’s also good smothered on hamburgers, fresh off the grill.

We draft our teams in less than a week. I might not be ready for school, but I’m definitely ready to bring it in our fantasy league. This dip will make you ready-or-not for football season, too. I promise.

Ingredients:

2 sweet onions, sliced

2 tbs. olive oil

1/2 tsp. kosher salt, to taste

1/8 tsp. black pepper, to taste

2 tbs. basalmic vinegar

1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

1 cup Greek yogurt

1/4 cup mayonnaise

Directions:

Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large, heavy bottomed pot. Add sliced onions. Sprinkle lightly with salt and stir to coat. You’re going to caramelize these guys, so continue to stir every few minutes until onions have turned a deep, even brown, 30-40 minutes. Don’t rush this step, as the caramelization in the onions is the key to the dip’s flavor! If, while your onions are sauteing, the caramelization is sticking to the bottom of the pot, you can pull it up with a bit of water or basalmic vinegar added to the pot. The liquid will sizzle, and then you’ll use your wooden spoon or hard spatula to scrape that browned goodness up and then stir it into the onions. That’s where the flavor (the browned bits) belongs!

Once caramelized, allow to cool, then transfer onions to the bowl of a food processor. Add in all other ingredients. Puree ingredients in short pulses until onions are finely chopped and all ingredients have come to together. Season with more salt and/or pepper, as needed.

Serve in large bowls for dipping, alongside thick, crisp potato chips. Kettle chips are my favorite accompaniment.

Come draft day at the end of this week, you can bet we’ll be snacking on this.

You can also bet I’ll again beat Jason at fantasy football.

:D

Another Year Wiser

August 17, 2012 in Life Lessons, The Daily Blog

I turn 30 tomorrow.

Contrary to how popular media tells me I should feel, I’m not nervous or anxious. It will feel a bit strange, not to be in my 20′s anymore, but it will be okay.

As I think about turning 30, I think about this past decade and all that I did and experienced:

I worked at two different summer camps

I drove cross-country

I backpacked through Europe with one of my best friends

I graduated college

I fell in love with my husband

I was welcomed by another family

I learned how to decorate

I began my career

I learned how to cook

We bought my first new car

We adopted our Ava Bear

We were married

I started Blackboard Kitchen

We moved in to our first home

I stood up for friends at their weddings

I made new friends

I found my voice

I worked with students

I became a better teacher

I took care of people other than myself

I was surrounded by a supportive, loving, and grace-filled community of family and friends

I had such a great time

I am so thankful for the past year of my life.

I am thankful for you, for coming here and caring about me and what I do.

I am so thankful for the love I get to experience every day.

I’ll be 30 tomorrow, and I am okay with that.

I don’t know what my thirties will hold, but I am hopeful. I am excited.

I am welcoming this new decade with open arms, with this man by my side, and with a sense of peace in where I have come from and where I am headed.


Zucchini Chocolate Chip Cookies and an Afternoon of Food Education

August 13, 2012 in Dessert, Education, The Daily Blog, Vegetarian

I taught a food education class for Jason’s day camp kids last week.

I came armed with a basket-full of fresh produce: rainbow carrots, jicama, radishes, varieties of apples, chiogga beets, heirloom tomatoes, and zucchini chocolate chip cookies. I also came prepared with a game. The three teams jumped right in, and we had such a fun afternoon together, trying new vegetables and guessing the names of different vegetables. I was lucky enough to have a few senior high and middle school students helping me out for the afternoon.

We talked about flavors, like the difference between tart and sweet, what spicy tastes like, and whether different colored veggies have different tastes. We played rounds of Food Pictionary, and had clementine-peeling races. I’m happy to report that every kid tried everything, and that it was a vigorous competition.

I love talking with kids about food. They are the coolest, most excited audience. I hope I have a chance to do something similar again, soon!

We finished the day with zucchini chocolate chip. These cookies are a great way to use up all those gorgeous zucchinis that are flooding the markets and gardens right now, and they come with a sneaky bonus: kids love them and have absolutely no clue that they’re filled with vegetables!

Recipe for Zucchini Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes approx. 2 dozen cookies 

From Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver

(a book I highly, highly recommend!!)

 1 large egg, beaten

½ cup unsalted butter, softened

½ cup brown sugar

1/3 cup honey

1 tbsp. vanilla extract

1. Combine all above ingredients in large bowl.

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour

½ tsp. baking soda

¼ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. cinnamon

¼ tsp. nutmeg

2. Combine all above ingredients in a separate, small bowl.

3.Then, blend into the liquid mixture in the large bowl.

1 cup finely shredded zucchini

12 oz. chocolate chips

4. Squeeze shredded zucchini over the sink to get rid of the excess liquid, then stir zucchini and chocolate into other ingredients. Mix well.

5. Drop dough by spoonful onto baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes.

Homemade Salsa

August 12, 2012 in Appetizers, Dip, Mexican, Recipe, The Daily Blog, Vegan, Vegetarian

Summer is nothing if not a time of indulgence and abundance.

Beautiful green and red and purple leafs and orbs and beans sprouting constantly out of the earth.

Time off school, or work.

Books to read, one after another.

Meals consisting entirely of fresh, recently plucked things.

This is a bowl of summer, to be scooped up and devoured, mouthful after crisp, bright mouthful.

This recipe is from our friend Wes, whose father makes this dip in exceptionally large batches. I’ve mixed things up just a bit here to keep the batch a bit smaller and with the addition of a couple ingredients. This recipe easily doubles, triples, or quadruples, and keeps nicely in large glass jars in the fridge, to be brought out, one at a time, at parties and on lazy Sunday afternoons.

Wes, thank you for sharing. This one is a keeper!

I literally had to rip the bowl of salsa out of Jason’s hands so that I could save enough salsa to use for this photo shoot. He was like a wolf who hadn’t eaten in days. I told him so. His reply? “The bowl is my carcas.”

(I think you’ll like this salsa.)

You can use fresh, peeled tomatoes during the summer, or a can of whole, peeled tomatoes when the fresh ones aren’t in season. To peel your tomatoes, wash and de-stem, the slice a small “x” in the bottom of the tomato with a paring knife. Drop a few tomatoes at a time into a large boiling pot of water, then remove with a slotted spoon after about 10 seconds. Skin easily peels off and tomatoes are ready to use.

Homemade Salsa

4 tsp. distilled white vinegar

4 tsp. extra virgin olive oil

3 tsp. kosher salt

3 tsp. finely minced garlic

1 tsp. sugar

Combine all above ingredients in a small saucepan and heat for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat before ingredients begin to boil.

1/2 white onion, very finely chopped in food processor, but not pureed

2 lbs. tomatoes, peeled and very finely chopped in food processor, but not pureed

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

3 jalapenos, with seeds removed from 2 of them to control heat (remove all seeds for less heat, or leave more seeds in for increased heat)

Empty all ingredients into a large bowl as they are ready. Once all components have been added, mix well.

Thin, unsalted tortilla chips are the perfect accompaniment for this!

A Corona isn’t a bad accompaniment, either…

Just Another Monday

July 2, 2012 in The Daily Blog

A very happy Monday to you, my friends!
I am currently on the road, and woke up early this morning to write to you, only to discover/be reminded that I have no internet connection this week.

So, I am simply popping in to say a quick hello. I hope you had a relaxing weekend! I might be able to snag a few online moments towards the end of the week.

Video Series: Classic Marinara Sauce

June 25, 2012 in Italian, Pasta, Pizza, Recipe, Sandwich, The Daily Blog, Vegan, Vegetarian, Video Series

Yesterday, I introduced the start of the Blackboard Kitchen Video Series.

Today, the Video Series begins!

It’s all about classic marinara sauce today. This is one of those staples that you definitely want to feel confident about whipping up, and it is made out of pantry staples. This pasta sauce makes a great quick weeknight family dinner, but it could also be dressed up for a dinner party with friends. Making your own sauce saves money, calories, sodium, and sugar intake. And it takes just a few minutes to pull together!

You can watch the video here, or hop on over to the video on YouTube!

You could obviously just do this sauce, some pasta, and a green salad for an easy meal, but there are lots of other ways you can put this sauce to work. Check out the recipes I’ve posted that use this (or some variation on this) sauce!

Serve this sauce with pasta:

Mix it with mascarpone cheese 

Pour over boiled pasta and top with mozzarella cheese, then bake in the oven for a cheese-topped pasta dish

Drench a big bowl of spaghetti and meatballs

Add in vodka and heavy cream

Serve alongside crisp and tender slices of eggplant parmesan

Dip into with crispy ravioli

Top vegan stuffed shells

Smother chicken parmesan

Partner with caramelized sausage, peppers, and onions

Use this sauce as a base for a pizza, calzone, or sandwich:

Pineapple, jalapeno, and red onion pizza

Italian sausage, sun-dried tomatoes, and caramelized onion pizza

Tomato, Italian sausage, and roasted garlic pizza

Spinach, sun-dried tomato, and chicken calzones

Italian grilled cheese sandwiches

Pepperoni and veggie pizza rolls

Chicken-apple sausage, fennel, and caramelized onion pizza

Pepperoni, salami, ham, mozzarella, and provolone stromboli

Grilled sausage sandwiches

No matter how you choose to serve this sauce, you’ll find lots of great reasons to keep a batch of this sauce on hand! Do you have a great recipe that uses marinara sauce? Share it in the comments below!

I’ve Been Grateful and Easy (& Big News!)

June 24, 2012 in The Daily Blog, Video Series

I discovered this little gem of a quote from Deb Caletti‘s young adult novel Honey, Baby, Sweetheart; there really isn’t a better quote to describe my summer thus far. It’s been a bit since I’ve posted, and I missed you all my absence. I really did. But the break was marvelous. It coincided with the first month of summer, a time that is unlike any other in this world.

I’ve relaxed with my family in Mexico, I’ve spent time with Jason and Ava, I’ve had moments for the nitty gritty of cleaning and organizing that doesn’t seem to happen during the school year. I’ve read. I’ve watched movies. We even began P90x, a workout that is quickly and surely beating my butt.

I’ve also developed a new concept for this little blog. I’m super excited about it. I’m going to let this video do the talking:

Check out the Blackboard Kitchen Introduction to Video Series! This link will take you to my YouTube channel, where you can like the video, or subscribe to the Blackboard Kitchen YouTube channel!

Video #2 debuts tomorrow, my friends!

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