Watch My Garden Grow

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I can’t believe it’s already the end of July. The summer is passing in front of my eyes and I’m not even sure where the days are going; I’ve been juggling additional fact-checking work at the magazine I copy edit for with trying to be outdoors as much as possible, squeezing in time for family (my grandparents just visited from Florida) and friends (we had a board game day, a restaurant-week dinner, Todd’s coworkers’ wedding, and a trip to Mystic, CT). And of course, I’ve also been gardening.

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Garden haul, early July 2017

This year we wanted to focus more on veggies, less on herbs, and so far we’ve been pretty successful (though our lettuce hasn’t been as abundant as in past years, possible because we started them from seed rather than buying the already semi-grown plants sold in Home Depot like we normally do. My dad rigged up a growth lamp in the garage, and it was a lot of fun to watch them sprout up a little more each week; unfortunately, that process also left them a little weak and they’ve been struggling to produce.

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Lettuce (far left), with various herbs, peppers, and beans in the beds, and cucumbers and squash climbing along the top.

I also think we may have gone a little overboard on squash. We love to roast and grill the butternut squash our garden produces every year, and this year we tried some other varieties as well, like yellow summer squash and orange-y crook-neck squash. In fact, I just picked a crook-neck this morning and am planning to make crisps out of it—that’s my healthier alternative to snack on potato chips!

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A still-growing butternut squash

We also have cucumber, which I’ll use a bit later today in a tomato-watermelon gazpacho, eggplant (though they haven’t fully matured yet), peppers (accidentally bought hot banana peppers instead of mild—eek!), tomatoes (the yellow cherry tomatoes are coming along best; our bigger plants seem to be yellowing for some reason), snap peas and green beans, and some kind of fuzzy bean that must have been mislabeled when I bought the plants. I could have sworn that sprout was a Japanese eggplant when I planted it! And don’t forget our fruits: strawberries, blueberries (though they refuse to ripen; I have to research why), and blackberries (we didn’t get as many this year as in past years).

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Garden bounty, picked this morning!

I also have a pumpkin plant, which is really stretching its roots along the backyard fence. I know it’s a long shot, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a little pumpkin in the fall.

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My pumpkin patch

 

1-Month Garden Update: Lettuce, Herbs, and Corn Stalks

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It never ceases to amaze me how much the garden grows in only one month. Though it feels like not much has changed in my life—still editing, still wedding planning—my little sprouts have shot upward at an astonishing rate (especially in the case of the corn we planted this year.) I love picking lettuce fresh from the garden for salads, and grilled chicken tastes even more delicious when it’s marinated with olive oil and herbs. The tomatoes are still green, but the strawberries and black raspberries are juicy and sweet. Here are some photos that Dad and I took over the past week. Continue reading

Recipe: Spinach-Stuffed Chicken & Curry-Infused Couscous

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As much as I enjoy being in the kitchen, I only make easy dinners during the week—crockpot stews, grilled cheese, pasta with a simple sauce. The other night one of my best friends came over and we decided to cook instead of eating out. After a little thought, we settled on chicken breasts stuffed with spinach, garlic, and mozzarella, with a side of curry-infused, veggie-loaded couscous. (Although the steps below might seem complicated, the recipe is really easy once you get started.) The chicken took about 45 minutes to cook, which gave us plenty of time to prep the rest of our ingredients, set the table, and indulge in some girl talk.

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Fueling Up Before and After a Nine-Mile Run

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Because a concrete goal seems to boost motivation, Todd and I signed up for the Staten Island Half Marathon in October of this year. To prepare, we’ve slowly been increasing our mileage, and now I can run five to seven miles at a decent (11- to 12-minute mile) pace without getting too exhausted. Each week we’re trying to dedicate time to at least one long run, and yesterday we tackled our farthest—and hardest—distance yet: nine miles. And because I try to eat mindfully, I wanted to make sure I gave my body the proper fuel that it needed, before and after the run. Continue reading

Recipe: Seven-Mile Tropical Smoothie

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Excitement over an unexpected job offer yesterday and delight in the gorgeous 82-degree day inspired me to not only lace up my Asics Gel Noosa Tri 9s and hit the pavement, but to run farther than I ever have before: seven miles! Although I won’t be winning any marathons at my pace—11:55/mile, and about 1 hour and 23 minutes in total—I didn’t feel too exhausted afterward. In fact, I had enough energy left to make a delicious cold beverage in honor of my new PR. I’m hopeful that its bright coral hue, fruity flavors, and white chia seeds will give me the oomph I need to start organizing collectibles in my new apartment after I finish this post.

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Restaurant Review: Reviver NYC

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While freelance editing at O, The Oprah Magazine, I’ve been searching for healthy lunch options in the neighborhood for the days I don’t tote a salad, a sandwich, or leftovers from home. Though I’ve tried a few different fast-casual options so far, I find myself frequently returning to Reviver—“the perfect union of culinary art and nutrition science,” according to the restaurant’s website. Although the offerings  a little pricey, I think these well-crafted plates are worth the cost.

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Recipe: Simple and Healthy Flounder Bake

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Because Todd knows that I like to eat healthy foods that are easy to prepare, he recently bought us the Skinnytaste Cookbook, based on the popular blog of the same name. It contains so many delicious recipes that rely on bright vegetables, lean meats, and whole grains.

Now that Lent has arrived and some of us can’t eat meat on Fridays, I want to share a simple fish recipe from theSkinnytaste Cookbook that Todd and I really enjoyed: a broccolini flounder bake. As usual, we modified this version a bit. We cut out the cheese and oregano, added onions and piled on extra tomatoes, and served it over a rice medley.

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Recipe: Four-Berry Wheat Muffins

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Though I posted a recipe for cherry oat bread only a week or so ago, I decided to post my four-berry wheat muffin recipe today in case you wanted to do some healthy baking during the blizzard that’s coming our way!

Featuring strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries, it’s based on a recipe that I found on Yummly. For the most part, my modifications were done out of necessity; I didn’t have enough strawberries to mix into the batter, so I used all four types of blueberries instead. It tasted delicious, so I highly recommend the method outlined below. And, as a bonus, your muffins will come out a stormy shade of blue—the perfect color for a blustery winter day.

Four-berry muffin

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A Journey through Ikea for Apartment Ideas

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It really does feel like a journey to wander through an Ikea. Around each bend, a new showroom beckons with furniture that doesn’t fit your color scheme but looks so awesome you can’t resist touching it and checking out the price. In the Marketplace, you load one set of plates into your cart, only to replace it twice with sets you like better. You end up buying a black lamp because it was only $9 and you never know when you’re going to need it. Finally, after three hours, you make your purchases, bring them out to the car, and then go back inside the store because you can’t resist Swedish meatballs, mashed potato, and lingonberries.

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Recipe: Butternut Squash and Mushroom Quesadilla

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I love receiving magazines in the mail and reading them cover to cover, ripping out any tasty recipes, cute craft ideas, or workout regimens. One of my favorite features is the “homemade upgrade” column in Women’s Health magazine, where they put a healthy twist on popular dishes. Sometimes their recipes are a bust, like a cauliflower- and bean-based sauce that supposedly tasted like Alfredo. (I’ll save the calories elsewhere and eat real Alfredo sauce, thank you very much.) But sometimes they are super delicious, like the butternut squash and mushroom quesadilla that Todd and I made last weekend in between browsing furniture stores and wedding venues.

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Recipe: Gemelli with Oven-Roasted Tomatoes

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As I promised almost exactly one month ago when I did some research on Italian parsley, I’m finally sharing a healthy and delicious pasta recipe that you can use it in. I first saw this recipe in The Good Life, but I’ve made some modifications to it that I think dramatically improve its flavor. Another bonus is that it’s pretty simple to make, as long as you have enough time to wait for the tomatoes to soften.

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