6.30.2011

wild rice salad

I've been spending a lot of time cooking and researching new recipes lately. I like this one because it gets better the longer it sits and you can adjust the amounts of the ingredients however you like.

The components of the salad:
Cooked wild rice
Yellow pepper
Scallions
Pecans (toasted)
Dried cranberry
Parsley
Raspberry vinaigrette
Salt and pepper

The process:
Cool the rice completely. Since we were cooking for two we use these:

I am rice challenged so this stuff is great. Inside the box is always a coupon for your next box too. Anyway, after the rice is cooled, just mix all of your ingredients together. You can see I chopped everything about the same size. I used a store-bought raspberry vinaigrette because I couldn't find any raspberry vinegar to make my own. The Marie's brand in the refrigerated section was very tasty. A lot of salad dressings have a chemical aftertaste to me but this one was just the right combination of sweet and tart. I just kept adding and tasting it until I liked it. Here's the finished product:

We ate this as a main dish but you could definitely use it as a side. You can shred up some left over chicken if you want to add some protein but we found it satisfying as is. I like that this is more of a method than a recipe because you can swap out ingredients if you have something different. I put in roughly the same amount of everything but put in as much as you like until it tastes good to you.

6.28.2011

cilantro pesto

I love basil pesto but I usually just get it from the jar. My food processor is small and doesn't like to chop basil. I like pesto sauces because they're very bright tasting and are healthier than creamy sauces. Last week I experimented with making pesto from cilantro.
It's super easy and I didn't follow an exact recipe. If you've made pesto before, you know what I mean. You have a rough idea of the ratios but you make adjustments based on texture and taste as you go. Here's about what I did:

2 cups cilantro
1/8 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup manchego cheese
2 cloves garlic
juice of half a lemon
salt and pepper to taste

Combine in the food processor until everything is evenly mixed then start streaming in extra virgin olive oil. I made mine thick because I used it to stuff chicken breasts and spread on sandwiches. You can thin it out if you're making a dip or a pasta sauce.
I've seen a lot of variations online using different vinegars, red onions, shallots, different cheeses, parsley, etc. Just make sure your cheese is a hard cheese. I've seen recipes using cheeses like cojita which have a higher water content and if heated will turn your food into a gluey mess. If you've never made pesto, I suggest following a cilantro pesto recipe you think sounds good first and then make adjustments to taste from there.
I want to experiment and see what other leaves make good pesto since this small batch has gone a long way.

6.22.2011

spicy chickpea patties with cilantro, lime and chilies

Ingredients:
1/8 cup canola oil or olive oil
1/2 medium red onion
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 (15 3/4 oz) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup chickpea flour
1/2 cup dried bread crumbs
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, minced
3 scallions, minced
Juice of 2 limes
Salt to taste
Extra chickpea flour for dusting cakes
Cooking spray


On the stovetop, saute the onion, garlic, jalapeno, curry powder, and cumin for 3 minutes. Transfer the mixture to the food processor and mix for 20 seconds until coarsely chopped. Add chickpeas, chickpea flour, bread crumbs, cilantro, scallions, lime juice, and salt. Mix for 20 seconds more or until a thick paste (below) forms. If you have a small processor like mine, you'll need to do this in batches.


From here, you can choose the size of patties you want to make. I went for silver dollar sized so there would be more crunchy surface area. Form the paste into your desired patty size and dust each size with flour. If you are cooking them on the stove top, heat a nonstick pan over medium heat. Put a thin layer of oil in the pan and fry on each side for about 4 minutes or until golden brown. If you are cooking them in the oven, preheat the oven to 375F. Spray the patties with cooking spray and bake for 10 minutes, turning them halfway through.

I served them with Thai chili sauce and peanut sauce. It would also be good with a curry sauce.


I will need to work on my food photography skills! This batch was made in the oven. Next time I'm going to try to fry them.

From my favorite cookbook: The Whole Foods Market Cookbook: A Guide ot Natural Foods with 350 Recipes
[I got this before I knew what Whole Foods was so don't hold it against the book that it's Whole Foods!]

6.16.2011

what aisle IS velveeta on?

By far, the top search query that leads people to this blog is the above question.  In response, I'm going to start compiling a list of grocery stores and their Velveeta aisles.  I've only seen it near crackers so far, but I have seen varying locations of the crackers so I'm also listing other products on the same aisle.  This is for the original block of Velveeta and not the mac and cheese packages or slices.

1. Albertsons- crackers, sports drinks, gold fish
2. Fred Meyers- crackers, cookies, gold fish
3. Publix- soup

Please add your grocery store/Velveeta aisle in the comments and I'll update the list.

6.13.2011

um... bus?

Today both my morning and evening bus were MIA.  You know what makes a commute difficult?  The bus never coming.  It wouldn't be a big deal if I worked somewhere where I could just stay later to still work a full 8 hours but that is not an option.  I hope my regular bus driver is having a nice vacation and not reassigned or no longer working!

6.12.2011

navigating costco

We're becoming pros at navigating Costco on a Saturday. When we arrive, we already know exactly what we need. I'm not sure why they make us walk through the electronics to get to the rest of the store other than they are cruel people. I almost got distracted by a laptop and Nate got me moving. Laser focus!
We were rewarded for our effort. Somehow we managed to arrive at the sample stands just as they were putting out the fresh food. Some notable samples were Bagel Bites (which I hadn't had since childhood) and Falafel (which I was able to sub for meatballs in a recipe last night). We pretend sample calories don't count.
Costco Gas has been a win as well. $3.76/gal unleaded is definitely the cheapest I've seen in Seattle so I was pumped! (Ho ho ho pumped. I'm sorry.)
When we remodel the kitchen, the big fridge is definitely going to need to go on the list because we are in need of more space for our Costco bounty.

6.09.2011

i ate salad


I finally found a salad recipe that I can have again and again. From the Food Network website:

Caramelized Pancetta and Fennel Salad


Ingredients

  • 1 bulb fennel, halved and cut into 1/2-inch wedges
  • 5 slices pancetta
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 ounces (about 6 to 7 cups) mixed salad greens
  • Red Wine Vinaigrette, recipe follows

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, toss together fennel, pancetta, garlic, brown sugar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place the ingredients on the baking sheet in a single layer. Cook until the pancetta is crisp and the fennel is caramelized, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes.

In a large bowl, place the salad greens, crumbled pancetta, and caramelized fennel. Toss the salad with the Red Wine Vinaigrette and serve immediately.

Red Wine Vinaigrette:

  • 2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Mix the vinegar, lemon juice, honey, salt, and pepper in a blender. With the machine running gradually blend in the oil. Season the vinaigrette, to taste, with more salt and pepper, if desired.

Yield: scant 1/2 cup

Prep Time: 5 minutes


On a work night I'm lazy and just use store bought salad dressing and it's still really good. I get the Boarshead pancetta from the deli counter. You can ask them to just cut a few slices and it's far tastier than the prepackaged kind. The taste of the fennel mellows out from roasting it so it's not an overwhelming flavor. I'm not sure how healthy it is but I'm definitely a fan of this salad.

smart phones part 2

Since my last post, it was brought to my attention that I sounded cranky. Maybe that's true. It's frustrating when you're expectations aren't met- especially when they seem reasonable.

Exhibit A:
From PC World
Smartphone Etiquette: Mind Your Manners for the Holidays

"Rule 4: Holiday parties are a time for socializing, not social networking. Seven out of 10 respondents think it's unacceptable to check emails, send text messages and make phone calls while in the company of others, let alone while on a date. And more than half said they would be offended if they were at a holiday party and someone secretly tried to tap the Internet at the table. I'm assuming they would include tweeting and playing Texas Hold 'Em on the iPhone as inconsiderate, too."

Exhibit B:
The Emily Post Institute is generally considered an authority on manners. Welcome to the new world of tablets and smartphones

"How are my actions affecting others and how am I perceived? Both are important aspects of good etiquette. If you are perceived as being disrespectful it can be as damaging to a relationship as actually disrespecting someone. Be clear with the people around you about how you are using your new device so they don't assume the worst."
Exhibit C:
Debrett's is another authority on manners.
Mobile Phone Etiquette
"Don't carry on mobile phone calls while transacting other business - in banks, shops, on buses and so on. It is insulting not to give people who are serving you your full attention."

I don't expect perfection from people and I've certainly been guilty of peeking at my phone while in a social setting before. I'm just requesting others to be considerate of how that distraction can be perceived by others.

6.07.2011

smart phones

Most people I know have a smart phone now so it's time to establish some basic usage guidelines. When you're in a social situation, stopping what you're doing to text or check Facebook is just as disruptive as talking on the phone. Our manners haven't caught up with technology apparently. I'm always shocked when I'm out with friends at how much time they spend looking down at their phones instead of paying attention to the live people in front of them. When I get home and look at Facebook, entire conversations between the people I was just with have taken place online instead of just speaking.

I think it's selfish and inconsiderate.

If there is an important text or email, excuse yourself before you respond. Even if it's something quick, I feel I deserve an explanation for the interruption. "My mom had a question." "It was my sister." Something.

I'm curious to know how other people feel because it's obvious not everyone thinks it's rude to check Facebook every 10 minutes while out with friends. What is acceptable smart phone usage in a social setting?

This is important because I love technology. Clearly, I love Facebook. All I'm asking for is some balance.

6.06.2011

a visit from my parents

My parents just left after a 10 day stay with us. It's really nice to have family around. I didn't have any time off work since the trip was moved to accommodate their home sale but we still spent weekends and nights together.

We walked around Discovery Park which was beautiful. The park is only 5 minutes from Ballard but we'd never been before. You can hike a trail that follows a ridge overlooking the Sound.


We finally hit the 70's so the weather was perfect. The grill got a lot of use and we did tons of walking. We've been here almost 3 years and haven't run out of things to do yet.