mango & zucchini lettuce wraps

mango and zucchini lettuce wraps /

As the temps have been rising, I’ve been craving food that’s lighter and colder. Lately we’ve spent most evenings dining al fresco trying to live it up before the 100 degree weather sets in. Chill evenings call for chilled food and these lettuce wraps are just so refreshing…. a beautiful appetizer, or (in our case) a light dinner.

The thing I love about Lettuce Wrap Nite is that you can eat lots of them without feeling too guilty. For me, eating light is never about eating less food. I piled this platter full of crispy romaine, julienned zucchini, thinly sliced mango, tons of mint, and super healthy kelp noodles (although feel free to sub in vermicelli noodles if you like). I kept it simple by adding some edamame for protein, but it’s delicious with slices of baked tofu.

mango and zucchini lettuce wraps /

This soy-ginger dipping sauce will take just a few minutes to stir together – if you want to get fancier, peanut sauce would be great with these as well.

ginger soy dipping sauce /

But the most important thing you need for outdoor dining is a big platter to load everything onto. You don’t want to have to make multiple trips for herbs and dipping sauces, etc – plus one of you has to carry the wine. This Heritage Platter from Q Squared is absolutely perfect – it’s become my go-to platter for patio meals – plus how pretty are those colors!

mango and zucchini lettuce wraps /

Check out Q Squared and the rest of their beautiful things. Love and Lemons readers will receive 20% off! (enter code: LOVEANDLEMONS)

grilled polenta & zucchini salsa

grilled polenta with zucchini salsa /

Today, we’re taking homemade polenta to a whole new level… (way beyond skipping the stuff that’s sold in the tube). I ground up my own polenta from popcorn! Who knew it was as easy as that?

homemade polenta /

This recipe comes from The Homemade Flour Cookbook, by Erin of Naturally Ella. Erin is one of by best blog friends (BBF’s forever!), and I couldn’t be more proud of her and her beautiful new book. She breaks down the basics of making your own flour out of all sorts of grains, seeds, nuts, and legumes. It’s also packed with recipes for each type of flour. (Side note: if you don’t feel inclined to grind your own flour – you’ll still love her book for all of the wholesome recipes). I can’t wait to try her quesadillas made with Quinoa Tortillas, Buckwheat Enchiladas, and Blueberry Amaranth Muffins.

the homemade flour cookbook

I tried milling this two ways – I used my little cheapie coffee grinder the first time, and my Vitamix the second. (See my notes at the bottom of the post for more details).

This home-ground polenta was creamier and tastier than the kind I usually buy at the store. Plus, it only took a few minutes to grind up and then it cooked faster than usual. (Less than 10 minutes on the stovetop).

raw zucchini salsa /

I took the idea of Erin’s roasted zucchini salsa but made a raw version instead. I diced up the zucchini pretty small, tossed it with tomatoes (and other things), and let it marinate for a few hours so the juices could infuse into zucchini and take away it’s raw bite. (think: zucchini ceviche). At the end, I stirred in some diced avocado and topped it onto my grilled polenta. A perfect light meal for summer!

the homemade flour cookbook

Go get her book!

THE GIVEAWAY: And, of course, we’re giving 1 copy away. To enter, just leave a comment below. (Open to US residents. A winner will be chosen at random on Thursday).

summer recipes & some link love

summer veggie recipes /

Happy Friday! I don’t usually do link-y posts like this, but there’s been a lot going on lately – here are just a few tidbits I wanted to share!

I wrote this fun guest post on A Couple Cooks about food & design. Check it out if you’re in need of some inspiration to get your creative (green) juices flowing.

It’s always a good mail week when, not one, but two cookbooks I’ve been excited about arrive at my door. (Stay tuned next week for some sneak peaks)
The Homemade Flour Cookbook by Erin of Naturally Ella
Vibrant Food by Kimberley of The Year in Food

Apparently it’s national doughnut day and how cute are these, these, and this.

Yes way rosé.

I’m heading to New York next week to meet & interview michelin star chefs as part of Samsung’s Club des Chefs collaboration. (Hoping to learn some good at-home pro tips to share with you all!).

Have you been following Anna (The Yellow Table), and her Cookbook Diaries? She’s currently driving from coast to coast on a road trip dinner party (!), as part of her Cookbook Kickstarter. She’s stopping at Joy the Baker’s place before she comes here to throw a dinner party next weekend in my backyard. Blogger meetups are the best – especially when they come to cook for you!

… and some favorite summer recipes (pictured above): Summer Squash Tian, Mango Lime Pops, Peanut Spring Rolls, Spicy Watermelon Salad

any vegetable vinegar pickles

any vegetable vinegar pickles

I love cookbooks and I hoard them pretty obsessively. Although, I’ll admit, I have a hard time following recipes from start to finish. Which is why I love the premise of Kate Payne’s new book, The Hip Girls Guide to the Kitchen. It’s a “hit the ground running approach, seeing as you need to eat three times daily whether you’ve mastered your kitchen or not.”

It’s full of, really, everything you need to know to be pretty successful in your kitchen – from how to set up your pantry to how to put meals together intuitively and economically. (Also she’s gluten free, so she includes tons of dietary options). She offers suggestions for what to buy in bulk, (and what not to), tips for buying kitchen tools from second hand stores, plus tons of clever “hip tricks” along the way. (For example: did you know you can buy a refurbished Vitamix blender for a fraction of the cost? …me neither).

The Hip GIrl's Guide to the Kitchen, by Kate Payne

She’s truly your friend in the kitchen and her writing is charming, witty, and just fun to read. Some of my favorite sections are:

Equip your Ship: Setting up your kitchen without winning the lottery
Methodology & Madd Skills: Learning how to cook without books or your laptop
Kitchen Kick-Ass: Tapping into your inner depression-era granny
Using Stuff Up: Preserving projects any beginner can handle

The Hip GIrl's Guide to the Kitchen, by Kate Payne

Since I’m clearly a beginner at preserving projects, I instantly gravitated to her recipe for Any Vegetable Vinegar Pickles. Any recipe that has “any vegetable” in the title, is my kind of recipe. I chose cauliflower, broccoli, red onions, radishes, and cucumbers along with a few various spices. Her brine recipe was quick and easy to make. The hardest part is the waiting – she suggest stashing them in the back of your fridge and not touching them for at least a week, although she says 2-3 is the best. (We’ll see if I can hold out that long!)

any vegetable vinegar pickles

Click here to go buy her book!

Also, be sure to check out Kate’s blog, as well as these fine fellow bloggers who have also written posts about the book: Food in Jars, Healthy Green Kitchen, Local Kitchen Blog, Autumn Makes and Does, Punk Domestics, Spinach Tiger, and Local Savour.

the giveaway is now closed, a winner has been notified

mostly-veggie baked macaroni

mostly veggie baked macaroni /

Sometimes life is not all about balance. For example, this is by no means a perfectly balanced mac and cheese (I know, way to sell it, right?). There’s some cheese in here, but nowhere close to four cheeses. Nothing is truffled, or bacon-ed, or cauliflower-ed. There’s some mac – but, all and all, it’s pretty light on the (quinoa) pasta to “other stuff” ratio.

This is the kind of filling, yet, not-over-the-top meal that I like to eat in an every day sort of way. These days, in particular, I’m into meals that are overwhelmingly jam packed with green things.

mostly veggie baked macaroni /

I also happened to have all of these items in my fridge, so this was also a total impromptu weeknight meal. If you have some cashew cream leftover (like I did), it’s especially quick to put together.

This came about as I was getting ready to toss those (above) ingredients together into a salad like this… but since I can’t even follow my own recipes, I got the last-minute idea to switch it up and bake this thing instead.

mostly veggie baked macaroni /

Since no green meal is complete without unmeasured handfuls of fresh herbs, I plucked and added some basil and sage from my yard. I usually think of sage for fall, but it really added a nice rich flavor in contrast to all of the fresh, bright things. (Although, I think tarragon would offer a nice savory note as well).

mostly veggie baked macaroni /

And just to un-vegan and un-gluten-free things, I added some panko and grated comté cheese to form a crispy crust. Which – really –  sounds fancier than it is. Jack always grabs handfuls of random cheeses from the remnant bin at Whole Foods so we always have interesting assortments on hand. Feel free to use parmesan or pecorino if that’s what you have. (Or see the notes below to adjust this to actually be vegan or gluten free, if need be).