Monday, March 29, 2010

Per Sally's Request: A Photo of the Kale Chips



It's like a big bowl of green, salty popcorn. Just, you know, with lemon and more vitamin C.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Oven Roasted Kale Chips: NZ in NY and Toileting with Dolly Parton


Nothing like a good head cold to throw you out of the blogosphere for a solid week. It also does nothing for my desire to cook, so this week was a bit of a wash in terms of kitchen time. I ate a LOT of soup for the most part.

But I'll get to that later. Today I'm finally feeling the effects of a week's worth of sudafed and can fill yall in on this past week's adventures.

Prior to being taken out by the rhinovirus, I made it up to New York to visit (1) my younger sister and (2) my buddy, Matt, who did time with me in New Zealand as a Fulbright grantee. I was particularly looking forward to seeing Matt (not that I don't love seeing my sis!) because homeboy had discovered a bar that was completely NZ-themed.


Nelson Blue is nestled in the South Side Seaport and has kiwiana for days. They even serve draft Steinlager and 42 Below Vodka, which Matt was practically giddy about. (We drank it with apple juice - VERY tasty.) We had several drinks (and I had a fried egg sammie) and then it was time to hit the town. We had a nice walk to the subway before heading to Matt's place in Hell's Kitchen.
The Brooklyn Bridge. And Matt's friend, Mike, in his very, very, very bright hoodie.

Little Sis left us to attend a separate event while the rest of us headed for follow up eats/drinks at Vinyl, where we noshed on 3-cheese Mac n Cheese and I completely went over my fill line finishing off an impressively yummy steak salad.

Vinyl is entertaining for numerous reason, not the least of which include the musician-themed dolls on display in the dining room. We were seated by the Notorious B.I.G.


The Beatles a la Yellow Submarine were on the other side of the room.

The bathrooms are a treat as well. Each one is designed as an homage to a single music icon. While I had my choice of Elvis, Cher, or Nelly, I opted for the Dolly Parton Lounge:


Music, needless to say, was included.

We rolled out of the restaurant and hit two more bars before I punked out for the evening. I managed to squeeze in brunch with my sister and her best friend the next day and then headed home. The rest of the weekend was pretty breezy. Pool and drinks on Saturday night, laundry and movies on Sunday (Alice in Wonderland - very good, but you definitely don't need to drop the extra $3.50 to see it in 3D).

And then...Monday. At first it started with a sniffle. Then a misplaced sneeze. Before I knew it, I felt like I'd been hit by an SUV driven by a text-messaging, road-raging soccer mom. Since eating food prepared by someone who's basically a big ball of mucous isn't exactly appetizing, Tony took charge of the food prep this week. He made me a LOT of soup and even made sure I was drinking enough fluids during the day.

By Thursday I was finally feeling human again, but just mildly so. So instead of hitting the kitchen full throttle, I opted for locally made rotisserie chicken (which I heart 4EVA), while I made a side dish: Oven Roasted Kale Chips.

Now, it didn't miss my attention that Smitten Kitchen also made kale chips this week. It' s not my fault I'm a trend setter!

In any event, I've seen this recipe pop up on the food blog roll numerous times. It's easy enough to make - especially if you have a bag of already washed and chopped kale from Wegmans. Plus, I'm always interested in recipes that attempt to turn veggies into snack food.

I've got to be honest - it's pretty damn tasty. It's got the consistency/texture of really light popcorn, but the kale flavor (which is a little more bitter) really melds well with the lemon and salt. I ate two sheet pans of the stuff on my own, which has to be good for me. Right?

This weekend is all about the Spring. The weather in Baltimore is a little chaotic at the moment (It was 70˚F last week and 50-something degrees tomorrow. What's up with that?), but I'll suffer for the sake of one of my favorite group activities: outlet shopping. Oh yeah. (It's also the start of the Cherry Blossom Festival and there's lots of cultural events going on, blah, blah, blah...I'll get there after the tourists leave.)

Next week is my trip home to Clemson, SC for the Easter holiday, which means lots of trips to Sonic and one hell of a dinner spread courtesy of my mom. I'll be sure to take photos.

Happy Easter egg hunting!

*****************************************************************************
Oven Roasted Kale Chips
(Courtesy of Vegan Visitor)

INGREDIENTS:

1 Large Bunch Kale, Stems Removed

2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Zest of ONE Lemon

Pinch Sea Salt

  1. Preheat the oven to 250ºF.

  2. To remove the stems of the kale, hold it up side down, stem side up with one hand and pinch the stem with your other thumb and forefinger to tear it up and away from the leaf.

  3. Toss the leaves with the oil and lemon zest in a large bowl to coat evenly.

  4. Lay the leaves out in a single layer on a baking sheet and lightly sprinkle with salt.

  5. Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until crisp. (*Mine took a little longer.)

  6. Cool on brown or paper towel to remove any excess oil.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

PrePost: Vote for Erin's Dream!

Voting ends on March 31st, so get on it already!
************************************************************************************
Check out the details in full and vote here.

Goals

  • To purchase & restore a historic home to accommodate & support others

Pictures

Overview

Erin's Dream, my dream, is to fundraise the remaining $200,000 to purchase a historic farmhouse in Schwenksville, PA. This home sits along the Perkiomen Creek & has a sprawling public trail that runs through the property. Upon purchasing the home, the house will be restored in an effort to support other families, like mine, who have lost a child or are facing the loss of a child due to a terminal illness.

I have lost 2 of my 3 children to cancer. My children inspired me to appreciate everyday & to follow my heart. Our family was very fortunate to receive great support from our family & community during Avery & Nolan's battles with cancer. When they passed, the support waned while the pain & difficulties continued in our lives.

Our goal is to build a Home of HOPE for families like ours. We feel that the property is ideal for refreshing a broken heart. We want other families who have lost a child to feel supported & welcome while also free to grieve.

How will the 250K be Used?

Budget Notes: This amount will secure us as owners of the Erin's Dream house & allow us to restore the house as needed to serve other families who have lost a child. This will allow us to provide materials to many contractors who have already promised donated labor to our project.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Garlic and Herb Poached Chicken and Chocolate Martinis: Quick Eats between Dim Sum and Lebanese Tapas

Man, this cooking thing is tricky to keep up! Don't get me wrong, I love to bake, and I'm learning to love to cook, but it's just too tempting at times when your husband has a per diem where he can bring home dinner at no cost to you.

That said, I've somehow managed to expand my cooking (a little) and made another stab at semi-vegan cuisine. This time I just threw together some quinoa pasta, feta cheese, dill, red pepper flakes, oregano and olive oil along with some Gardein 7-grain Crispy Tenders.

As I mentioned in my last post, Holly from The Healthy Everythingtarian first brought these to my attention. Bless her little heart. These things are PHENOMENAL. They're vegan, but they taste more like chicken than some of the junk I've had from other establishments. Thank you, Holly!

Anywho, throw it all together and you've got yourself an easy meal for one. >

Of course, you need something to wash this little entrée down. Might I recommend a Chocolate Martini?

Just be careful - these things pack quite a wallop.

I also managed to throw together one other dish: Garlic and Herb Poached Children.


Now I don't have much in the way of directions (it was a lot of throwing this n' that together), but I've put a recipe that summarizes the gist of it at the end of this post.

Now, it's not all about chicken and pasta. Tony and I finally made it to our favorite dim sum spot in Silver Spring.

Love of my life. :)

Oriental East is nestled away in a little shopping plaza in Silver Spring, Md. Sunday brunch starts at 11am, which means you need to be in line by 10:30am. If you're not, you're in for one hell of a wait. Granted, it's worth the wait - bbq pork buns, sesame rolls, shrimp and veggie purses - Oh, it's worth the wait.

This week has been pretty laid back. In honor of St. Patrick's Day, Tony and I met up with some friends and drank Check beer and Italian Prosecco. Then, in keeping with our theme, we all headed to Mezze for some Lebanese/Mediterranean tapas. Mezze is in the Fell's Point section of Baltimore and though the service left a little to be desired, the food more than made up for it. I enjoyed an aromatic orzo with roasted tomatoes and a lentil and sausage dish. This was followed by a mouth watering - and HUGE - serving of baklava.

From there we just headed home (no need to be out on the roads with the St. Patty's Day revelers leaving the bar), and did some much needed couch searching. Nothing beats a holiday like some QT with your significant other and one of two needy cats.

Say hello to Lina.

Happy belated holidays, y'all! And happy first day of Spring!!

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Crystal Clear Chocolate Martinis
5 oz good quality vodka
2 oz Crème de Cocao
Chocolate to garnish

Simpy mix the ingredients (minus the garnish) together over ice. Strain and pour into a tall martini glass. Garnish with chocolate shavings, straws, or chunks.

****************************************************************************************************
Garlic and Herb Poached Chicken
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 tbsp butter
3 - 4 tbsp all purpose flour
1 cup + 2 tbsp chicken stock or water
(The rest of these are rough estimates, so feel free to tweak the amounts to suit your taste:)
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp sugar
(I also threw in a dash of thyme and basil, but nothing much)

STEP 1: Pat dry the chicken breasts. Season each with salt and pepper.
Dredge the breasts in the flour, being sure to shake off any excess.

STEP 2: Melt the butter in a nonstick skillet over med high heat.
Once the butter has melted and has started to bubble, add both breasts to the pan.
Brown the chicken (about 3 minutes on each side).

STEP 3: Add the herbs and seasonings to the chicken broth. After browning
the 2nd side of the chicken, add the broth to the pan. Reduce the heat to a simmer
and cover. Cook for about 5 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.

Enjoy!
fter turn

GIVEAWAY!

Holly at The Healthy Everythingtarian (who introduced me to the wonders of the Gardein 7 Grain Faux- Chicken Tender) is sponsoring one sweet giveaway. Check it out below and good luck!

Irish I was drinking…giveaway!!!

March 17th, 2010

I just got home from drinking a green beer, and let me tell you…it was DELICIOUS.

So, in honor of our friend St. Patrick, I figured it was only right to host a giveaway. I mean, what better to thank the man who gave us one more reason to drink, right?

When I walked into the bar tonight, it was a sea of green – green t-shirts, hats, jewelry, Mardi Gras necklaces, scarves, you name it. However, I would like to honor another Irish color in my giveaway: the completely underrated, underused color orange. I mean, it takes white, green AND orange to make up the Irish flag, no?

Thanks to the lovely folks at CSN Stores, the online retailer of kids furniture, cooking items, home decor and more, I am giving away a fabulous Rachael Ray Hard-Anondized 15″ Oval Grill Pan…inorange!!!

Perfect for grilling chicken, fish, veggies, kebobs or oatmeal (grilled oatmeal has got to be good, right?), this pan is awesome. Mama + Daddy Everythingtarian are owners of several items from this Rachael Ray line, and WE LOVE THEM.

Seriously though, go check-out all of CSN Stores awesome sites, including www.cookware.com,where they have so many fun, awesome and useful cooking things to buy – plus, they offer great deals. It took me forever just to decide on this pan.

Alright, alright…so you want to win the grill pan? Here are the TWO ways you can win…

(1) Leave me a comment telling me the FIRST thing you will grill if you win this.

(2) Link back to this giveaway if you have a blog, tweet this giveaway or leave me a 2nd comment telling me something random about yourself (choose only ONE of these).

That’s it! This giveaway is open to ANYBODY, and the winner will be announced Sunday when I post (not sure when that will be), so get your entries in ASAP!

Hope y’all got to celebrate the merriness that is St. Patty’s Day…I swear if all holidays revolved around beer, this world might just be a happier place.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Take This Cute Girl (Kitty) Home With You


Take This Cute Girl (Kitty) Home With You

From my friends at Ex-Boyfriend (a great e-shop, btw):

Life is rough in the big bad city for homeless kitties. This sweet affectionate girl was found living beneath some stairs, filled with wooden planks, which were full of nails that she had to navigate past on her way in and out. A kind Baltimore pet blogger has given her temporary shelter, but this girl needs a forever home.

She’s been to the vet and has been spayed. She’s 12 lbs, and about 3 or 4 years old. She is litterbox trained and plays well with dogs. If you or someone you know can make room for this cutie let her foster dad know. You can email him at muttsblog@verizon.net.

Please tweet, facebook, etc. and spread the word!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Funny Break

I'm not sure why, but this news piece made me laugh. A lot. I think it was a good break from the general tone of the rest of the news of the day...

Owners keep burglar locked in car

Published: March. 9, 2010 at 3:41 PM

LAKE CITY, Fla., March 9 (UPI) -- Authorities in Florida said residents who saw a man attempting to steal their car used the vehicle's remote-controlled locking mechanism to prevent his escape.

The Columbia County Sheriff's Office said the Lake City residents were alerted to a man trying to break into their car by a neighbor at about 5:40 a.m. Friday and they used the remote control on their keychain to keep the alleged attempted thief from exiting the car, The Gainesville Sun reported Tuesday.

"So every time he tried to get out of the car, the owners just kept hitting the lock button on their key fob, and eventually he gave up trying to get out," sheriff's spokesman Sgt. Ed Seifert said.

Travis James Neeley, 19, was arrested and charged with burglary of a vehicle, possession of burglary tools, criminal mischief and trespassing.

Investigators said another man, Peter Anthony Scandizzo, 25, was seen driving by the scene of the incident and is believed to have been involved in the burglary plot. He abandoned his car after a short chase and was arrested at about 8:30 a.m. in a Lake City home believed to belong to his mother.

Scandizzo was charged with fleeing and eluding, possession of marijuana, possession of burglary tools, loitering and prowling, conspiracy to commit burglary and resisting arrest.


© 2010 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Single Serve Apple Pie: A Quick Post Before the Real Thing

It figures - I go one day without checking up my Google Reader, and I miss out on one of my favorite geek holidays...

March 14 - Pi Day. (Get it? 3.14 - Pi??)

Nerdish tendencies aside, I feel that such delightful wordplay deserves an equally delightful dessert. In this case, Single Serve Apple Pie (baked in a jar) courtesy of Brownies for Dinner.

I'm all about single serve desserts that require minimal prep work. Plus, small food items are just cute. I mean, come on - have you ever seen an ugly petit four?

I promise to update my cooking (lazy man's Pho and Pan Baked Chicken) and dining escapades (dim sum!) later today - in theory. But in the meantime, enjoy your individually portioned deliciousness and while giving thanks for all the irrational numeric joy that is ∏.

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Single Serve Apple Pie-in-a-Jar
(courtesy of
Brownie for Dinner and Our Best Bites)

HARDWARE: 4 half pint mason jars

Pie Dough (any 9-in basic dough will do – including store bought- but if you need a basic recipe, check out Our Best Bites’ recipe)

Step 1: Make a topper and line the jar

Roll out a small handful of dough and roll it out to about ¼ inch thickness. Using the opening to one of the jars as a cookie cutter, cut out 4 circles of dough (these will serve as the tops to your pies) and set aside.

Use the rest of the dough to line the jars, taking small portions of the dough and pressing them into the jar. (No, you do not need to grease them) Make sure it's pressed all the way up to the top of the jar, or pretty close to it.

Step 2: Fill your jars with pie-like goodness

You'll need about ½ cup filling for each jar. Any filling will do – canned included. For the sake of this post and as a credit to Our Best Bites general awesomeness, I’ve posted their recipe below:

Basic Pie-in-a-Jar Filling (makes enough for 4 jars)

2 cups prepared fruit (pitted, diced, peeled, etc.)

2 tbsp brown or white sugar (adjust the amount of sugar based on the sweetness of fruit)

2 tbsp flour (more if fruit is particularly wet or moist; less if it's pretty dry)

1 tbsp butter (quartered and divided between the pies)

Seasonings/flavorings- cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla and almond extract, citrus zest etc)

When your filling is all combined, divide it between the jars and dot a pat of butter on top (about ¼ tbsp)

Step 3: Top it off

Be sure to cut slits into each pie top circle so steam can escape during baking. Place one of the pie dough circles on the jar.

When your topper is ready, slip it onto the top of the pie. It will be large enough that the outside edge goes up the side of the dough-covered jar a bit. Then use your finger or fork to press the 2 pieces of dough together to seal.

Extra tasty option: Brush pie tops with butter and sprinkle with sugar.

Alternative Step 3: Crumb it off

Another option is to do a crumb topping. (Our Best Bites to the rescue, again!)

Crumb Topping (for 4-6 pies)

¼ cup brown sugar

¼ cup flour

2 tbsp oats

¼ tbsp cinnamon

3 tbsp cold butter

Combine sugar, flour and cinnamon. Cut in butter. Add oats and stir to combine.

Step 5: Bake them or Freeze them

FREEZING: When your pies are all done and topped, place metal lids back on and seal them tight. Place pie goodness in the freezer. They should keep for a few months and can placed on a baking sheet and popped directly into a 375˚ F oven for ˚50 -60 minutes. (If you’re worried about putting frozen jars in a hot oven, feel free to let them warm up to room temperature first.)

BAKING: Preheat oven to 375˚ F. Remove the metal lids and place jars directly on a baking sheet. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown and the middles are bubbly. If you're baking them fresh and not frozen they take about 45 minutes.

Depending on your filling you can pop them right out of the jar and onto a plate or just eat them right out of the jar.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Toasted Mushroom Pasta: The First Signs of Spring and Setting Goals for 2010

Despite a crippling winter this year, it seems that Spring is taking its first steps into the sunlight.

Of course, this could be the beginning of an equally crippling summer, but I can enjoy the more temperate mid-season for the time being. I was (finally) able to start training for the Baltimore 10-Miler with my buddy, Indira - outdoors no less - running along the pathways through Patterson Park. It was all very scenic.

So Spring, in short, is a good motivator. The warmer temperatures and natural sunlight inspire me to get off the couch, clean off the cobwebs and seasonal affect disorder, and get to work on some of my other goals for the year, such as...

Realistic Goal for 2010 #1: Finish and return copy of "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" that I borrowed from my mother-in-law about, oh, 16 months ago.

Not-so-realistic Goal for 2010 #1: Learn to surf. Preferably without significant physical damage to self, others, or the local fauna in the process.

Realistic Goal for 2010 #2: Finish crochet projects for numerous, numerous number of children recently and soon-to-be born to various friends and loved ones.

Not-so-realistic Goal for 2010 #2: Convince NZ government that they should pay for me to live in Wellington.

See? There's loads to do!

The sunlight also inspired me to try something on the lighter side of home cooking, so last night I borrowed from Ali at Give Me Some Oven and made some Toasted Mushroom Pasta.


As I've mentioned before, I'm generally not a big fan of mushrooms. But, I've learned that statement is generally limited to button mushrooms. And olives, which suck mightily, but that's another post entirely. Anywho, substitute baby bellas (left over from last week's pot roast) and you've got yourself a meal! A friggin' tasty one at that, too...




(Admittedly not the best photos, but trust me - it's deceptively delicious.)

Happily, this recipe is pretty easy to convert into a vegetarian dish. It's also easy on your budget and personal time, which is all kinds of good in my book. Make it while listening to Paolo Nutini's new album as you finish the bottle of white wine partially used in the recipe.

You'll be toasting the new Spring all evening.

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Toasted Mushroom Pasta
(From Give Me Some Oven and adapted from No Tea After 12)

Ingredients:

3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1 Tbsp. butter

8 oz. fresh mushrooms (approx 2 cups), cleaned and thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

¼ cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped

1 tsp. dried oregano

½ cup dry white wine

8 oz macaroni or other pasta

2 cups chicken or vegetable stock

¼ cup cream

¼ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

salt to taste

Method:

Heat a large heavy skillet over very high heat, add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil to the pan. Sautee the mushrooms until browned, but not cooked all the way through, about 2-3 minutes. Reduce the heat and add the parsley, garlic, oregano and cook for another minute or so. Pour in the wine and simmer for 3-5 minutes. Remove the mushrooms and remaining sauce to a bowl, and set aside.

In another large skillet or saucepan, add the remaining 2 Tablespoons olive oil and the butter. Add the macaroni and stir it constantly until it is a deep golden brown (this should take about 5 minutes). Be sure to watch carefully, as the pasta can go from toasted to burnt very quickly!!

Once toasted, pour in the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered until the pasta is al dente, or almost tender. (This should take approximately 10 minutes.)

Stir in the mushroom mixture and cream and cook for a few more minutes to let everything come together in a beautiful creamy, but not claggy sauce. Remove from the heat and stir in the parmesan and pepper. Taste for seasoning, add salt if needed, but the Parmesan is usually just salty enough. Sprinkle with a bit of fresh parsley, and more Parmesan if you’d like.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Vegan Mac N Cheese and Pot Roast: Sailing solo in Baltimore and learning the dark side of tofu

The hubby had to work out of town the this week, leaving me to feed and fend for myself for an evening. Now, I'm a grown woman. I've lived and traveled abroad on my own. I can drive s stick shift (albeit poorly). I even have a few Judo lessons under my belt. But take away my husband for an evening and suddenly I can't sleep alone in the bedroom.

It's not romance driving my insomnia so much as total cowardice. When forced to fly solo for a night, Baltimore suddenly seems like the most dangerous city in America. It doesn't help that whenever I mention that I actually live in B'more, most people give pause and then utter, "Have you seen The Wire??" with more than a little concern in their voice.

Given that I had an entire evening to myself (indoors), I decided to try some new recipes. First off: Creamy Vegan Mac n' Cheese. I came across this recipe on Tastespotting.com. I've had all the components of the recipe separately at one time or another (soy milk lattes, NP popcorn and pasta, chick pea salad with tahini dressing, etc.). So, I thought the recipe itself could prove palatable. Besides, I'd get to use my crock pot - yet another in the long line of kitchen appliances I don't use nearly often enough.

The ingredients.


Lina checking out the goods.


An hour and a half later I had my first taste of gluten-free vegan pasta.

It was awful.

I love me some tofu/edamame/vegan cuisine, but lord above I could barely get past the smell of the dish, let alone the taste. I'm not sure if the culinary misfire is my doing (my pasta was made from quinoa and kumquat, and I didn't use the same brand of vegan cream cheese) or just do to the fact that you can't make soy taste like Kraft processed goods, but either way the end product ended up in the garbage. Oh well! Can't win them all. I'm posting the recipe at the end of this entry just in case anyone else would like to have a go at it.

I ate some of my Gourmet Spicy Ramen instead and cleaned out the crock pot for a second attempt at cooking dinner. Since the vegan thing hadn't panned out so well, I went straight to the other end of the chef spectrum and made something a little meatier: Pot Roast with Veggies.

Tony loooooooooves Pot Roast, but given the amount of cooking time required (and the fact that it is a crap-load of red meat), we have it only a few times a year. Plus, I'm forever trying out different versions of the basic roast recipe. (The current family favorite being the Cooks Illustrated March 2002 take on the dish.)

This particular recipe called for 8hrs of low heat stewing. Since I had a sleepless night ahead of me anyway, I just chopped, seasoned, and piled everything into my crock pot and then settled on the couch with the cats.

The goods (Take 2).


Come the next morning, I had a pretty decent dinner ready to go. I let the carafe cool down and then popped the whole thing in the fridge. After I returned from work, I drummed up a quick gravy to go with the dish. The recipe didn't call for butter, but I thought it would be a nice flavor addition that would add some silkiness to the gravy's texture. And I was RIGHT.



While the CI version remains the house favorite, this recipe still turned out a tasty platter. And it makes leftovers for friggin' days.


So what's your biggest culinary misstep? Or, your favorite vegan dish? Feel free to share the recipe~ I'm not giving up on vegan cooking just yet...

Slow Cooker Mac and Cheese:

1 8-oz. box gluten-free quinoa elbow pasta (uncooked)

florets from 1 head of broccoli, washed and chopped

2/3 cup nutritional yeast flakes, plus more for serving

2 tablespoons sesame tahini

1/2 cup Follow Your Heart Vegan Gourmet cream cheese

1 cup unsweetened soy milk

3 tablespoons Earth Balance buttery spread

1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon dry mustard powder

1/4 teaspoon turmeric

1 1/2 cups plus 1/2 cup water, divided

Directions:

1. Add all above ingredients (only 1 1/2 cups water) to your slow cooker. Stir and cover. Set on a low setting for 1 1/2 hours. Stir occasionally.

2. After 1 hour has elapsed, add another 1/2 cup water. Stir. After 1 1/2 hours has elapsed, test macaroni for doneness before serving. If needed, you may add an additional 15 minutes to cooking time. Watch closely, though, to make sure pasta does not overcook.

3. If desired, to serve, toast 1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes in a saute pan for a few minutes until lightly browned. Sprinkle over individual servings.

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Beef Pot Roast with Veggies

INGREDIENTS

3 lbs beef chuck roast

3 cups beef broth

6 oz tomato paste

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

1 Tbsp brown sugar

2 tsp paprika

2 tsp allspice

1 sprig fresh rosemary (or 1 Tbsp dry)

1 lb carrots

2 small onions

6 small red new potatoes

8 oz. button mushrooms
(I personally cannot stand button mushrooms, so I substituted some baby bellas)

6 cloves garlic

Gravy

2 Tbsp cooking oil

3 Tbsp all-purpose flour

3 cups juice from cooked roast

STEP 1: In your slow cooker, combine the beef broth, tomato paste, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, paprika, allspice, rosemary and garlic cloves (whole). Stir or whisk until everything is evenly incorporated.

STEP 2: Wash/cut/peel the vegetables (carrots, onions, potatoes, mushrooms). Leave the vegetables in fairly large chunks because they will be cooking for hours and smaller pieces will disintegrate. Put half of the veggies in the slow cooker with the broth.

STEP 3: Place the chuck roast on top of the veggies and broth then top with the second half of the vegetables. Secure the lid on the slow cooker and set to low heat. Let cook on low for 8 hours (perfect for while you are at work -- or skipping on sleep on the couch).

STEP 4: After 8 hours, begin to cook the rice. Transfer the roast to a cutting board and slice or shred the meat (your preference). Remove the vegetables from the broth with a slotted spoon. Either use the remaining liquid as an au jus or continue to the next step to make a beef gravy.

STEP 5: For the gravy, heat 2 Tbsp of cooking oil in a sauce pan over medium-high heat. Add 3 Tbsp of all-purpose flour and continue to stir and cook for about 2-3 minutes (this toasts the flour particles and prevents a floury taste). Whisk in 2-3 cups of the juice from the cooked pot roast. Let the mixture simmer until thickened (should only take 1-2 minutes). Pour the gravy over top of the roast and veggies. Serve over noodles or rice.


P.S. A buddy of mine expressed surprise at how long I've been blogging, so for the sake of review, I'm linking to the blog I kept while I lived in New Zealand. Enjoy!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Shrimp & not-so-Chroizo Kebabs: An LLS Fundraiser and Olympic Hockey

Have you ever found yourself leaving the office on a Friday afternoon thinking, "Man, I am looking forward to a relaxing weekend"? I think I jinx myself every time I utter those words.

Not that that's really such a bad thing. Especially if you can keep busy doing fun things (happy
hours, sporting events, etc.) as opposed to, say, tending to the small yet growing mountain of laundry staring at you from the corner of the room.

That's roughly how my weekend went down. My apologies for not blogging about the week's entrees aside from the stir fry. I actually held my own and managed to cook for myself several nights. (Tony had some late nights at work so I was dining solo a good bit.) Of course, I decided to
ease back into the cooking scene (i.e., I was lazy), so mostly I made pasta with lemon, pepper, and nutritional powder. NP or "nutritional yeast" was introduced to me by a vegan buddy who insisted NP tastes like cheese. He was right. So now I have a healthier and tasty substitute to some of the mass amounts of cheese I normally consume.

But back to the weekend...

FRIDAY: Friday night was a special occasion as we picked up Samiha from the train station and then headed down to Federal Hill for Emily's charity happy hour at No Way Jose. Emily is a buddy of mine from the WDW marathon - very determined, charming and improbably energetic. Emily decided to sign up for a second dose of shin-splinting goodness and now mentors runners training to run a half marathon for Team in Training. Em herself is prepping for the San Diego Rock n' Roll Half Marathon, the little go-getter! Friday's happy hour was to help her raise funds for her event. Never ones to say no to themed shots or soft tacos, Tony and I were there in a
flash.

It was a great time. Em must have worked her bum off for the event and it showed: a 50/50 raffle, drink specials (including a special shot), and prize drawings - girlfriend turned it OUT. Emily raised over $700 that evening and Tony and I walked away with a gift certificate to a local eatery. Not too shabby!!

(I'm the one on the left. Em's the cutie in the middle. Note to self: I need a haircut.)

Emily is still raising funds for her run, which you can donate to here: http://pages.teamintraining.org/md/rnr10/emp182psu

Come on! You know you want to...

SATURDAY: Saturday morning I drove Samiha back to her lodgings just outside of DC. It was a sunny day, my car had gas, and the new Sam Cook CD I bought was streaming tunes for the ride. Unfortunately, what should have been a 45min trip took closer to 1 1/2 hrs due to an accident that all but shut down I-95. Black ice, people - let's not mess around with it.

After dropping off Samiha I turned around and picked up my other friend, Emily (Em B, not the runner, who is Em P). We then grabbed her sister Sally and headed out to Korea town for food and shopping. I enjoyed some Dol sot Bi Bim Bop (SOOOO good!) and barley tea (meh) for lunch and then it was off to CVS so Em, who is incubating some kind of virus, could pick up a few cold meds and then we hit the Korean grocer.

I actually love Asian food marts. My mom (who's Japanese Am.) used to take us to them as kids and still makes trips out for Asian-based goodies, so I get a little quiet thrill whenever I'm in one. Plus, it gives me a chance to stock up on my hard-to-find sweet tooth items: sweet rice crackers (which are not Koren, so unfortunately none were to be found this trip), wasabi peas, rice candy, and Yan Yans. If you haven't had a chance to dip the shortbread sticks into the melted chocolatey goodness that is a can of Yan Yans, do so. DO IT NOW.

I also picked up chop sticks and this brand of volcanic-heat spicey Ramen. Emily picked up some (and by some, I mean a metric ton) of kim chee, which I am not a fan of. I think it smells like feet. Sally bought some tortillas (did I mention this shop also carried Spanish/Mexican goods, too?) and tried not to be sick by the smell of fresh fish stemming from the seafood section at the back of the store.

From there it was off to Friendship for shopping. My first purchase? Girl Scout Cookies. The little darlings were selling them on the sidewalk and I for one can never resist the siren call of a Tagalong. We then headed to Sephora, where I picked up some Nars blush (in the not so subtly named shade called "Deep Throat") and this extra-groovy mascara that makes it look like I'm wearing false eyelashes. Very chic. We left Sephora, made our way through the small group of protesters chanting outside of Neiman Marcus in protest of the store's fur sales, and then headed home.

Well, almost - first I stopped to meet up with Tony in Columbia for dinner (we ate at Pei Wei - AVOID AT ALL COSTS) and a movie (the Wolfman- good but insanely violent). Then I finally made it home.

SUNDAY: Sunday morning was a last dash run to one of my happy places (aka, Wegmans) for some provisions. Tony and I were headed to DC for a bbq at Sally and Andres' place for some good eats and some Olympic hockey. Emily made this sick popcorn (good sick, not bad sick) with garlic, NP, and salt & vinegar powder, as well as kielbasa and this banging orzo pasta with sun dried tomatoes and sauteed onions. Oh! and cupcakes. I heart cupcakes.

I was in charge of the other main on the menu, so I went with my go-to crowd pleaser: Shrimp and Chorizo Kebabs.

Now, chorizo can be expensive, and I find meat kebabs are a real pain in the butt to assemble, so in this case I substituted turkey Italian sausage and cooked everything in a disposable aluminum pan on the grill. I forgot to take a photo of the finished product, but managed to snap a few of the prep work.


Paste of caraway seed, garlic, and sea salt.


Grief-free version of the kebabs.

Finished product. Sort of.

Everyone LOVED it, which helped ease the pain of the US Men's team loss to Canada in OT. Tony and I finally made it home around 10:30pm, just in time to deal with two cats who were extremely irritated with our tardiness.


I'll do my best to be better with the blogging as well as the photos, but in the mean time I suggest giving the recipe a go on your own. Instead of skewering the meat, I just roll about an inch's worth of the sausage into a small ball. The whole dish cooks in about 10 minutes over a hot grill or in a broiler. I'd love to hear how they turn out for ya! :)

Spicy Shrimp and Chorizo Kebabs

  • Recipe by Grace Parisi (Food and Wine Magazine)

Ingredients

  1. 2 large garlic cloves, thickly sliced
  2. 2 teaspoons sea salt
  3. 2 teaspoons caraway seeds
  4. 2 tablespoons pure chile powder, such as ancho
  5. 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  6. 2 pounds large shrimp, shelled and deveined
  7. 8 small chorizo or hot Italian sausage (or the like) (about 1/2 pound total), sliced 1/2 inch thick

Directions

  1. On a cutting board, using the flat side of a chef's knife, mash the garlic and salt to a coarse paste. Add the caraway seeds and finely chop them. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in the chile powder and olive oil. Add the shrimp and toss to coat.
  2. Meanwhile, bring a small saucepan of water to a boil. Add the chorizo and cook over high heat for 5 minutes. Drain and pat dry. Let cool slightly.
  3. Tuck a chorizo slice in the crook of a shrimp and thread onto a skewer; the shrimp should be attached at both ends. Push it to the end of the skewer and repeat with 2 more shrimp and chorizo slices. Using more skewers, repeat with the remaining shrimp and chorizo.
  4. Grill the kebabs over a hot fire, turning once or twice, until charred and the shrimp are cooked through, about 5 minutes. Serve immediately.