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

 

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Recipe: Applesauce Chicken Casserole

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On weeks that Todd and I are both super busy with work, it helps to cook a few simple-to-make dishes on a Sunday, especially ones that can last for a few days. But if we’re going to eat the same food several nights in a row, it needs to be tasty. With that in mind, I created this applesauce chicken casserole; it’s based on an apple-cider chicken recipe, but I added tons of vegetables and used applesauce because I didn’t have any cider. It worked really well, giving the chicken a yummy coating that crisped nicely during roasting without burning. And there was a ton of food, so we definitely had enough for the next couple of evenings! Here’s the recipe…

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The casserole: toasted breadcrumbs, crisp chicken, and a bed of healthy veggies.

Ingredients
~1 tbsp. butter, softened
~1/2 cup apple sauce
~1/4 cup chopped parsley
~1 medium yellow onion
~10 ounces sliced mushroom
~4 ounces baby carrots, cut in half lengthwise
~1/2 small head cauliflower, broken into florets
~1/2 small sweet dumpling squash, cut into chunks and softened in microwave
~1/4 cup cooked peas
~Salt, to taste
~Pepper, to taste
~1/4 cup vegetable oil
~1.5 lbs chicken thighs
~1/4 cup bread crumb tossed with a sprinkle of parmesan

Instructions
~Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
~In a small bowl, mix butter, applesauce, and parsley until well combined.

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~In the bottom of a rectangular baking dish, scatter onion, mushrooms, carrots, cauliflower florets, squash, and peas. Season with salt and pepper, add oil, then toss to coat.

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I used a purple cauliflower I found at the farmer’s market. It looked so pretty!

~Dunk each piece of chicken in applesauce mixture until well coated. Set aside  remaining applesauce, then arrange chicken pieces, skin side up, over vegetables. Pour remaining applesauce mixture over chicken and let soak into veggies below.

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~Roast for 30 minutes, then lower temperature to 375 degrees. Roast until vegetables are tender and chicken reads 165 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about another 30 minutes. Add bread crumb and parmesan topping and roast until bread crumbs are lightly toasted, about 10 minutes.
~Serve and enjoy 🙂

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: 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: 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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