Monday, May 24, 2010

Sweet Cherry Crostata di Ricotta

* 1 pie crust (can be found near the cookie dough in the refrigerated section)
* 3 tablespoons raspberry jam
* 1 can cherry pie filling
* 1 cup ricotta cheese
* 1 egg
* 2 tablespoons sugar

* Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
* Unroll pie crust and place on parchment-lined baking sheet.
* Spread raspberry jam around the edges of the pie crust, leaving the middle of the crust completely empty.
* Spread the cherry pie filling into the middle of the crust, up until the edge where the jam is.
* Randomly place tablespoon-sized dollops of ricotta over the cherry filling.
* Fold in the edges of pie crust over the filling.
* In a small bowl, beat the egg and brush over pie crust so that it is evenly distributed.
* Sprinkle the crust with sugar.
* Bake for 20 minutes, until crust is golden and filling is puffed slightly.
* Remove to a wire rack, cool 10 minutes.


So... meat. Have to have it, gotta love it, wouldn't-be-a-meal-without-it, meat.

Did you know that even MEAT is a seasonal food?

If we take a moment to think about it, it makes sense. Let's look at salmon, which is an ideal example of a seasonal protein. While yes, you can find them any time of the year, there are certain times that the local variety will be better than others (and you ARE eating locally now, aren't you...?). Salmon start bulking up in the winter months, getting ready for their epic up-stream battles spawn in the spring and early summer. If they are Atlantic salmon, they will likely survive this trip and make their way back out to the ocean for Round Two. If they are Pacific salmon, however, this will be their last hurrah... but hey, at least they get to go out spawning, right?
Anyway, this herculean effort of swimming hundreds of miles from ocean to spawning grounds in the spring and early summer produces a firm but flaky flesh on our fishies, while still maintaining high levels of amino acids and peptides that our bodies need. But if you go after a salmon once they have spawned, and have exhausted themselves from the journey, you may literally find yourself with rotting fish-flesh, as they tend to die-off once they have completed their procreational goal.

I told you all of that to tell you this: Everything has a season; your fruits, your veggies, your fish/poultry/beef, everything. Hell, even your fashion has a season... not that some of you notice...

Here's a handy starting point (by no means exhaustive) to whet your appetite for a more careful selection of proteins (thanks to Delicious Living): 


Emphasize lighter meats, like chicken, white-meat, and turkey. Fish is very moist, so in the damp spring months, it’s best cooked with techniques that don’t add liquid.
Best dishes: Grilled chicken breast, baked white fish, broiled salmon


Eat less animal protein in general, and emphasize white fish and mollusks, which are cooling and moist. White-meat chicken is okay, especially if eaten cold.
Best dishes: Steamed mussels, lightly sautéed scallops, boiled shrimp, chicken salad


You can begin to increase your intake of animal protein, and add some heavier selections, like dark-meat chicken and turkey or lean beef. Oily fish like salmon, tuna, and sardines are ideal now.
Best dishes: Broiled salmon, lean steak


Dark, heavy meats cooked with more liquid bring warmth and moisture to the body during the cold winter months. Or choose fatty fish in thicker cuts to allow longer cooking times.
Best dishes: Roast beef, lamb stew, buffalo burgers, bouillabaisse

Whatever you decide to make, I hope that you will consider the benefits of eating seasonally!

- Krystal

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Mac & Cheese for Mama, Please!

I like the idea of being able to eat what I want, when I want, and however I want... but, unfortunately, my *insert problem area here* doesn't always feel the same way - nor does my commitment to eating seasonally. Foods that are as hearty and rich as this recipe is should really be saved for the fall and winter seasons, when our bodies are naturally craving things with a little more "oomph", instead of the salads, grilled fare, and lighter options of spring and summer.

Even though I may strive to eat a healthy, balanced diet, there are some times when I just have to cave in and eat what I'm craving. I don't call it weakness, no... I call it "listening to my body". While not wise to do all the time, well, everything in moderation. So there.

Finally, this is a great recipe to make for a sick friend, or for new parents. It's comforting, hearty, and definitely something to sit back and enjoy before running to the nearest treadmill!


  • 8 slices of thick-sliced bacon (I like peppered bacon for an extra kick)
  • Vegetable oil
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 cups elbow macaroni
  • 1 1/2 cups 2% milk (do NOT use nonfat!!)
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 6 ounces Brie cheese (rind removed), at room temperature
  • 3 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, grated
  • 2 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 bag of frozen sugar peas
  • 1 cup Breadcrumbs
  • 2 teaspoons red pepper flake
  • 2 teaspoons paprika


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Place a baking rack on a sheet pan and arrange the bacon in 1 layer on the baking rack. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the bacon is crisp. Remove the pan carefully from the oven - there will be hot grease in the pan! Transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels and crumble when it is cool enough to handle.

Drizzle oil into a large pot of boiling salted water. Add the macaroni and cook according to the directions on the package, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain well.

Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don't boil it. Melt the butter in a medium pot and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. While whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or 2 more, until thickened and smooth.

Off the heat, add the cheeses - Brie, Cheddar, blue cheese - then 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
Add the cooked macaroni, crumbled bacon, and frozen sugar peas and stir well.

Pour into a baking dish.
Add 2 tablespoons of melted butter, red pepper flake, and paprika to the breadcrumbs and stir to combine. Sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture over the top of the pasta. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top.

- Original recipe by Ina Garten, with modifications by Krystal Bishop

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Changing of the (dietary) Seasons

The idea of "eating seasonally" is something my husband and I have thrown around for the last few years. We usually toss ideas around, debate a bit, and end up with these questions:

1. How do you find out what's in season?
2. Where would you find what you're looking for?
3. Isn't it expensive... all those fresh fruits and vegetables?
4. Do cattle, poultry, and fish have "seasons"? If so, when's the best time to get them?
5. Can you still eat seasonally by shopping at a major grocery chain?

After losing nearly 200 lbs through weight loss surgery, hard work, and diet changes back in 2006, having a rapidly growing toddler, an abundance of local farmer's markets in the Seattle area, and a nearly obsessive love of cooking for my family... I decided to take the plunge and just DO it already.

Pretty words, to be sure... but how the hell do I put it into action? I mean, really; look at the title of this blog - it is't "So Much Free Time, So Tasty!", is it?

As with any lifestyle change - and yes, that is DEFINITELY what it's going to take - it is important to break things down in to manageable pieces.
Do I want to serve all organic, non-GMO food at every meal? Yes.
Is that going to happen overnight (or any time in the near future)? Ha. Not likely.

My goal for this season (spring) is to only make dinners that contain items that are in-season, barring of course spices, stocks, pastas and (for now), grains. That means that any fruits, veggies, and meats that I buy must be in-season... and, even more, preferably in-season in my state. There are so many reasons to eat local; less cost, fresher/riper produce, promotes the local economy, and it just plain tastes better.

So, there you have it - one busy mom's goal for her family, and their very hungry bellies. I would seriously encourage you to give seasonal eating a try, and see how it might benefit you and your families!

Stay Tasty,

Homemade Tartar Sauce... for frozen fish sticks.

An original recipe, this was born when I finally acknowledged that the frozen fish sticks and tater tots that I was making for dinner weren't my most original meal items.


~ 1 1/2 cup Mayonnaise (use mayo, not "whipped dressing" or Miracle Whip)
~ 1/4 cup sweet relish
~ 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
~ 1 tablespoon soy sauce
~ 1 teaspoon each pepper, dill, and lemon pepper
~ 1/2 teaspoon finely minced/grated garlic


Stir everything together. Store in the fridge for an hour before serving to let the flavor set. (I've used it immediately, and it's still AWESOME!)