Sunday, May 31, 2009

There's Always Money in the Banana Stand

banana

As an homage to Arrested Development, one of our favorite shows ever, I wanted to make some chocolate-dipped frozen bananas this summer. But I didn't feel like dealing with popsicle sticks and mass quantities of chocolate and lots of messiness, so when I came across this recipe I decided it would be perfect. The toppings I chose were coconut, crushed peanuts, and crushed Butterfingers. All three are very yummy! Make sure you let the bites sit for a minute after you take it out of the freezer because otherwise it's like biting into an ice cube!

banana

Chocolate-Dipped Frozen Banana Bites
Bon Appetit, April 2009

2 cups bittersweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons canola oil
Assorted toppings for coating bananas (such as crushed chocolate sandwich cookies, toffee bits, chopped Butterfinger candy bars, chopped salted peanuts, or toasted shredded sweetened coconut)
3 ripe bananas, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices

Stir chocolate and oil in heavy small saucepan over low heat just until smooth. Let stand 15 minutes to cool.

Place each topping in separate shallow dish. Line baking sheet with foil. Arrange banana slices on foil. Using fingers, dip 1 banana slice in chocolate, coating completely. Shake off excess chocolate. Drop dipped banana in 1 topping. Using clean hand, sprinkle more topping over banana to coat; transfer to foil-lined sheet. Repeat with remaining bananas, chocolate, and toppings. Freeze until firm, about 3 hours, then serve.

Yield: 3 dozen

Smoked Cheddar and Lentil Burgers

Although I made lentil burgers last weekend, I decided to push my luck and try this recipe. We got a small quantity of high-quality smoked white cheddar from the cheesemonger (teehee, I love that word) at Wegmans and it worked beautifully in these burgers. I cooked them on our Griddler. We loved it! We would definitely make this again.

lentils galore

Smoked Cheddar and Lentil Burgers
Cooking Light, June 2003

2 1/2 cups water
1 cup dried lentils
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup finely chopped carrot
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded smoked cheddar cheese
1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
3 large egg whites, lightly beaten
Cooking spray
8 teaspoons stone-ground mustard
8 (2-ounce) whole wheat sandwich buns, toasted
8 (1/4-inch-thick) slices tomato
2 cups trimmed arugula

Place first 3 ingredients in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes or until tender; drain. Discard bay leaves. Place lentils in a large bowl; partially mash with a potato masher. Cool slightly.

Heat oil in a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and carrot; sauté 5 minutes or until tender. Cool slightly.

Add onion mixture, cheese, and next 8 ingredients (cheese through egg whites) to lentils; stir well to combine. Cover and chill 45 minutes. Divide mixture into 8 equal portions, shaping each into a 1/2-inch-thick patty.

Heat a grill pan coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add half of patties, and cook 5 minutes on each side or until done. Repeat procedure with remaining patties. Spread 1 teaspoon mustard on top half of each bun. Place 1 patty on bottom half of each bun, and top each serving with 1 tomato slice, 1/4 cup arugula, and top half of bun.

Yield: 8 servings

Green Beans With Lemon and Browned Garlic

For our side dish this evening I made this easy green beans dish. It takes like 8 seconds to make (not counting the time the beans are cooking - I microwaved, by the way) so once you're finishing up your main dish you can cook this. It was pretty good. We might make it again if we need something easy.

beans

Green Beans With Lemon and Browned Garlic
Cooking Light, September 1997

3/4 cup water
1 pound green beans, trimmed
2 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper

Bring water to a boil in a large nonstick skillet; add beans. Cook 3 minutes; drain and set aside. Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and beans, and sauté 1 minute. Add juice, salt, and pepper; sauté 1 minute.

Yield: 4 servings

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Pineapple Salad and the Clam Saga

Last week we went to Wegmans, which is my new favorite store ever, and they had samples of grilled clams that they made just by popping the clams on the grill and then adding a dollop of garlic-cheese compound butter once the shells opened. Easy and delicious, so we decided to do it today. Our hotel has a grill out by the pool that guests can use.

Here are the clams on the grill:
clams

But! The grill broke! So nothing cooked all the way through and we had to throw them away and our hotel agreed to buy us some more next weekend. They actually offered us a coupon to Applebee's at first but I said no. So they are buying us more clams. We will try this again next weekend. We had a good rest of the meal though.

We had some delicious Italian bread that we put the butter on:
bread

This is the butter we used (and would have used on the clams):
butter

We did have one recipe that worked out though! I made this delicious pineapple salad to go along with the meal. It is very, very yummy and is a definite make-again. Make sure you use good, fresh pineapple, and don't skimp on the cayenne!

pineapple

Pineapple Salad
Cooking Light

Combine 4 cups cubed fresh pineapple and 1 cup halved red grapes in a medium bowl. Combine 2 Tbsp orange juice, 1 Tbsp honey, 1/8 tsp ground red pepper, and a dash of salt in a small bowl. Drizzle juice mixture over pineapple mixture; sprinkle evenly with 2 Tbsp toasted sweetened coconut, and 2 Tbsp chopped macadamia nuts.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Spicy Shrimp & Fettuccine

Super quick, super easy, and definitely very yummy. I used some frozen shrimp that I thawed before cooking, and the whole thing came together quickly. This will be added into the rotation for good quick meals to have on nights I work late (like every day this week)!

shrimp

Spicy Shrimp & Fettuccine
CL, October 2007

Total cost: $8.30/Cost per serving: $2.08. We used dried basil in this dish to cut costs, but you can substitute 2 tablespoons fresh basil, if desired. Basil from an herb garden is even more economical, and fresh basil from farmers' markets can also be a good buy. Frozen or previously frozen shrimp is often on sale at supermarkets. This dish is an appealing, affordable option for entertaining.

8 ounces uncooked fettuccine
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 cups chopped plum tomato (about 5)
2 tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta according to the package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain.

Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add red pepper and garlic to pan; sauté 1 minute. Add shrimp; sauté 1 minute. Stir in tomatoes and next 4 ingredients (through salt); bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes. Stir in pasta; cook 1 minute or until thoroughly heated.

Place 1 1/2 cups pasta mixture on each of 4 plates; top each serving with 1 tablespoon cheese. Serve immediately.

Yield: 4 servings

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Spicy Asian Stir-Fry with Whole Wheat Linguine

This is just okay. It isn't anything special. It's a nice change from the typical asian noodle dish involving peanut butter (this one has no peanut butter, but lots of sriracha!) but it just isn't particularly flavorful. Yummy veggies, I feel healthy after eating it, but it's still meh. I wouldn't make it again.

wheat

Spicy Asian Stir-Fry with Whole Wheat Linguine
Vegetarian Times, March 2009

This recipe is a good way to make the switch from white pasta to whole-grain varieties that offer more fiber and protein. The dish also tastes great as a cold noodle salad.

8 oz whole-wheat linguine noodles
1 Tbsp peanut oil
1 small onion, thinly sliced (1 cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced (2 tsp)
1 small head bok choy, chopped into 2-inch pieces (1 1/2 cups)
1 1/2 cups broccoli florets
1/3 cup snow peas, halved
1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced (1/2 cup)
2 Tbsp hoisin sauce
1 Tbsp garlic-chile sauce
1/4 cup chopped peanuts

Cook pasta according to package directions. drain, reserving 1 cup cooking water, and set pasta aside.

Meanwhile, heat oil in large skillet or wok over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, and saute 5 to 7 minutes, or until onion is golden.

Add bok choy, broccoli, snow peas, and bell pepper. Stir-fry 5 minutes. Add 1/2 cup water, cover, and simmer 5 minutes. Stir in hoisin and garlic-chili sauces. Stir in noodles, adding 1/2 cup reserved cooking water. Add more water if mixture seems too dry. Garnish each serving with 1 Tbsp chopped peanuts.

Yield: 4 servings

Monday, May 25, 2009

Black Bean Chili with Dark Ale

I decided that for Memorial Day we should have chili. We have a hard time finding good vegetarian chili recipes, but this one seems to have finally hit the spot! I doubled the chipotle, which actually wasn't the greatest idea because it was VERY spicy! And this is US talking!!!! So don't double the chipotle. Bad idea. We used a Sam Adams variation because I love Sam Adams, and I have no idea what a gluten-free beer is so I didn't even bother trying to use one. We really liked this a lot and would definitely make it again.

Notes: I put green onions on top and it was delicious. Cheese might be good too.

chili

Black Bean Chili with Dark Ale
Vegetarian Times, March 2009

A slightly sweet, dark beer tempers the acidity of the tomatoes and the spiciness of the chipotle chiles in this easy recipe.

2 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, drained and minced
2 Tbs. olive oil
2 Tbs. ground cumin
1 large onion, finely chopped (1 1/2 cups)
1 medium red bell pepper, diced (1 cup)
5 cloves garlic, minced (5 tsp.)
2 14-oz. cans black beans, rinsed and drained
24 oz. gluten-free dark beer
1 14-oz. can diced tomatoes
1 cup fresh or frozen corn

Heat oil in 3-qt. pot over medium heat. Add chipotles and cumin; season with salt, if desired. Cook 1 minute, or until fragrant. Stir in onion, bell pepper, and garlic. Sauté 5 to 7 minutes, or until vegetables are soft. Stir in beans, beer, tomatoes, and corn. Bring chili to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, uncovered, 45 minutes, or until thick.

Yield: 8 servings

Bittersweet Peanut Butter Krispie Surprise Balls

I saw this posted on Joe's Blog the other day and couldn't resist. I had to make them! They were not as easy as I thought because the chocolate makes the rice krispies very difficult to manipulate. Maybe it was our marshmallow fluff's fault too. It was just really malleable and not sticky and easily shapen like a regular rice krispie treat. In addition, I don't have any muffin tins and I bought mini-muffin cups instead of regular muffin cups. Don't make that mistake. So ours are small and ugly.

But they are VERY YUMMY! I skipped the butterscotch at the last minute because I decided there was enough sugar already. I think this was a good choice for us, but I don't doubt that the butterscotch would be yummy if you choose to make it. We probably won't make this again but we really like them, which is good since we have 2 dozen in the refrigerator!

Our picture came out kind of crappy so if you want to see better ones, check out Joe's post about it.

balls

Bittersweet Peanut Butter Krispie Surprise Balls
Nestle

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
pinch salt
12 ounces (about 2 cups) chopped bittersweet chocolate
7 ounces marshmallow fluff
6 cups Rice Krispies
24 dark chocolate Reese's miniatures
3 ounces (about 1/2 cup) butterscotch chips

In a large saucepan, add butter and salt - heat over low until melted. Add chocolate and fluff - stir until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth.

Remove from the heat and stir in Rice Krispies until well combined. Scoop a heaping tablespoon of the mixture into the bottom of 24 muffin cups placed inside two twelve-cup muffin tins. Place a Reese's candy on to the center of each muffin cup. Scoop another heaping tablespoon of the cereal mixture and place it over the Reese's candy, pressing to adhere.

In a microwave-safe bowl, add butterscotch chips - heat on medium power, stirring every 15 seconds, until melted and smooth. Drizzle over the tops of the cereal balls and refrigerate briefly to set the top.

Yield: 2 dozen

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Jamaican Lentil Burgers

I still have an overwhelmingly large quantity of lentils to use up so I am always looking for fun new recipes to use them in. This sandwich mushes them with rice and spices and forms them into little patties. It took awhile to cook the lentils and the rice (the recipe calls for COOKED lentils and rice, so take that into account) but it was worth it. This was a very yummy sandwich. I didn't have any Jamaican Jerk seasoning and I didn't feel like buying some at the store today so I made some based on a recipe from AllRecipes. I may have added a little too much allspice, but I think that's ok. I'll add less next time. This is a recipe worth keeping.

Notes: The picture in the magazine had lettuce and tomato on the sandwiches, but I didn't put them on because it wasn't in the recipe. So do what you will. Just don't skimp on the mayonnaise! Also, with the seasoning, omit the oil because you aren't rubbing it onto anything - unless you're taking the recipe and using it on meat, in which case use the oil!

lentil

Jamaican Lentil Burgers
Shape
Adapted from Café Manna

1 teaspoon olive oil
½ large shallot, minced
1 ½ teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1 ½ teaspoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons sodium-free Jamaican Jerk spices, divided (recipe follows)
Cayenne pepper to taste
Salt to taste
1 ½ cups cooked brown rice
1 ¼ cups cooked lentils
¼ carrot, shredded
½ cup dry breadcrumbs
¼ cup chopped parsley
½ tablespoon lime juice
Cooking spray
8 slices seeded rye bread
½ cup light mayonnaise

Heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add shallot, ginger, and garlic, and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Mix in 1 tablespoon Jamaican Jerk spice, cayenne pepper, and salt and continue cooking until tender, about 2 minutes. Add the rice, lentils, and carrot. Simmer on low heat until thick, about 6 minutes. Pour mixture into a bowl and add breadcrumbs, parsley, and lime juice. Mash together and then shape into four patties.

Heat a non-stick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium heat. Saute patties for 3 minutes on each side. While patties are cooking, mix the mayonnaise and the remaining tablespoon Jamaican Jerk spice. Place each patty on top of a slice of bread. Spread a quarter of the mayonnaise mixture on the remaining slices of bread and place on top of patties.

Yield: 4 servings

Jamaican Jerk Seasoning
AllRecipes

"This is a great seasoning for any meat. You can make more of it all at once and store it in an airtight container. Make sure you store it in a cool, dry place."

2 tablespoons dried minced onion
2 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 teaspoons ground allspice
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

In a small bowl, stir together the dried onion, thyme, allspice, ground black pepper, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, and salt. Coat meat lightly with oil, then rub seasoning onto meat.

Yield: 1/4 cup

Friday, May 22, 2009

PJ Whelihan's

OK I didn't cook again today. Leave me alone. I live in a hotel. Plus we're exploring the new area and how better to do it than to try out restaurants? If we hadn't gone searching for tonight's restaurant, I would never have accidentally gotten on 78 and discovered Dorney Park, which is amazing and close to our hotel and oh my gosh I love roller coasters. But I digress.

We went to PJ Whelihan's on recommendation from my supervisor and another program supervisor at my company's staff appreciation day (I started during a good week!). They said it had the best wings in the Lehigh Valley. Gibby, as you may know, LOVES wings. And so we went. We visited their Allentown branch though they have a few different locations in Jersey too. Gibby enjoyed the wings quite a bit - their specialty is honey-barbecue, which is his absolute favorite. I had a yummy grilled cheese sandwich. The fries came with a cheesy dip that was probably not healthy but was very yummy.

It's exciting to do new things.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Kitchari with Cauliflower and Peas

Tuesday I ended up working really late so we went out for pizza and it was DELICIOUS because it's like real New York-style awesomeness because we're close enough for the overflow. I missed good pizza. My excuse for not cooking last night was that our hotel had a barbecue so there was no reason to cook!

Tonight I got out of work early so I made this dish with some of the basmati rice and split beans I toted from Maryland. "Toted" isn't the right word - all the grains and beans from Dr. R are in a HUGE box on top of the refrigerator. I don't think I will ever use all of them up. I will try my hardest though!

So this was super easy to make. I browned the butter while it was melting (accidentally) and that was an excellent mistake because it gave everything a rich buttery flavor even though I didn't use very much. Other than that, this was pretty bland and we were pretty disappointed. It might be good if spiced more, and it DEFINITELY needs an onion. I don't know why I didn't realize it didn't have an onion in it. It needs it. We wouldn't make this again.

kitchari

Kitchari with Cauliflower and Peas
Vegetarian Times, January 2009

This nourishing dish resembles risotto in texture. If you don’t have ghee, you can substitute regular butter.

2 Tbs. plus 1½ tsp. ghee, divided
½ tsp. minced fresh ginger
1 tsp. cumin seeds
2 cups cauliflower florets
½ cup basmati rice, rinsed
1/3 cup split mung beans
¾ tsp. turmeric
½ cup frozen baby peas, defrosted
1 tsp. salt

1. Heat 2 Tbs. ghee in saucepan over medium-high heat. When ghee is hot, stir in ginger and cumin seeds. Fry cumin seeds a few seconds, then add cauliflower, and stir-fry 4 minutes, until cauliflower is slightly browned and partially cooked. Stir in rice and beans, and fry 1 minute. Add 3½ cups water and turmeric and bring to full boil over high heat.

2. Reduce heat to low, partially cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, 40 minutes.

3. Add peas and salt, and continue cooking 5 minutes, or until rice and beans are soft. Stir in remaining 1½ tsp. ghee just before serving.

Yield: 4 servings

Monday, May 18, 2009

Decadent Triple-Layer Mud Pie

I love to bake. I think we all know this. Cookies and pies and cakes are where I excel. But how will I bake whilst without an oven? Well, refrigerator pies are a nice starting point. This pie is what I call a "cheater" pie because it uses a lot of storebought ingredients, but whatever. It still produced a pie that didn't require an oven. I'm happy with that. And what a pie! It's very easy to make and is very tasty. I wouldn't make it again but I certainly will eat the rest of this pie!!

Notes: Sugar-free pudding mix, sugar-free fat-free Cool Whip, unsweetened baking chocolate, and fat-free sweetened condensed milk. I do what I can.

pie

Decadent Triple-Layer Mud Pie
Kraft Foods

3 squares BAKER'S Semi-Sweet Baking Chocolate, melted
1/4 cup canned sweetened condensed milk
1 OREO Pie Crust (6 oz.)
1/2 cup chopped PLANTERS Pecans, toasted
2 cups cold milk
2 pkg. (4-serving size each) JELL-O Chocolate Flavor Instant Pudding & Pie Filling
1 tub (8 oz.) COOL WHIP Whipped Topping, thawed, divided

MIX chocolate and condensed milk until well blended. Pour into crust; sprinkle with pecans.

POUR milk into large bowl. Add dry pudding mixes. Beat with wire whisk 2 min. or until well blended. (Mixture will be thick.) Spoon 1-1/2 cups of the pudding over pecans in crust. Add half of the whipped topping to remaining pudding; stir with wire whisk until well blended. Spread over pudding layer in crust; top with remaining whipped topping.

REFRIGERATE 3 hours. Store leftover pie in refrigerator.

Yield: 10 servings

Wheat Berry & Barley Salad with Smoked Mozzarella

Tonight I made a big batch of Wheat Berry & Barley Salad with Smoked Mozzarella. Using my notes from last time, I reduced the amount of balsamic vinegar and Gibby liked it WAY more. We used smoked gouda again because it is the yummiest cheese ever. I added some extra corn as well. I also filled up three tupperware containers to take to work with me this week! Yum!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Grilled Sandwiches and Broccoli

Tonight we had Grilled Eggplant Sandwiches with Red Onion and Aioli and a side of Broccoli with Balsamic-Butter Sauce. Broccoli was easily made in the microwave and on the stovetop. Vegetables were grilled on the Griddler, and bread was popped into the toaster. Everything came together nicely and I even used a great ugly heirloom tomato that made the whole thing even more delicious. This continues to be one of our favorite sandwiches (and we still forgot to take a picture!).

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Shrimp Etouffee

So, for our first meal in our little hotel room I chose shrimp etouffee. The ingredients are mostly spices, we have a huge amount of rice from my former boss, and frozen shrimp were on sale at the local grocery store. It required a bunch of pots and some juggling of the two burners, but I managed to pull it off and everything cooked quite well. Here is a picture of me trying to manage the kitchen.

cooking

The meal itself is delicious. It tastes very similar to Paula Deen's recipe that we made a couple years ago, but it manages to be healthier and thus is the superior recipe. We would make this again.

Notes: Frozen shrimp, brown basmati rice, extra cayenne, only 1 color bell pepper, and vegetable broth instead of chicken broth.

etouffee

Shrimp Etouffee
Cooking Light, July 2008

This spicy Cajun classic is traditionally served over white rice.

4 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 bay leaf
1/3 cup butter, divided
1/2 cup all-purpose flour (about 2 1/4 ounces)
Cooking spray
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
2/3 cup diced celery
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 tablespoon salt-free Cajun seasoning
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, divided
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined (about 30 shrimp)
4 cups hot cooked long-grain rice

1. Combine first 4 ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat; bring to a simmer. Cover and remove from heat.

2. Melt 1/4 cup butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Add flour to pan; cook 8 minutes or until very brown, stirring constantly with a whisk. Remove from heat. Add 1 cup broth mixture to pan; stir with a whisk until smooth. Add remaining 3 cups broth mixture, stirring with a whisk until smooth; set aside.

3. Melt remaining 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon butter in a large Dutch oven coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add 1 1/2 cups onion, celery, and bell peppers to pan; cook 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender and onion is golden brown, stirring occasionally. Stir in 3/4 cup water, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Add tomato paste, Cajun seasoning, garlic, salt, black pepper, and red pepper to onion mixture; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add reserved broth-flour mixture and Worcestershire sauce to pan, stirring well to combine; bring to a simmer. Cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add green onions, 1/4 cup parsley, and shrimp; cook 3 minutes or until shrimp are done. Discard bay leaf. Serve over rice. Sprinkle each serving with 2 teaspoons remaining parsley, if desired.

Yield: 6 servings

Kitchenette

Here is our kitchenette for the next six weeks. We stocked it with food and I made a regular menu and we're going to rock this double-burner. Oh yes.

kitchenette

First up: shrimp etouffee.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Hooray!

We're here, we're here! We're all unpacked! I took up an entire giant drawer with all my spices. What kind of loser takes all their spices and oils and barley and quinoa and a knife set to a hotel? Me. Six weeks without my santoku knife? No. The room has a double-burner, a toaster, and a microwave. And a dishwasher. No oven. Tomorrow we make a grocery list and attempt to resume a regular schedule of cooking! And maybe I'll learn how to use my pressure cooker. EXCITEMENT ABOUNDS.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Moving Moving Moving!

OK this is the plan.

We are moving on Friday. Our house is in shambles right now because we've been so busy packing. Friday we're driving up to PA, putting it all in storage and moving into a Residence Inn for six weeks until we close on our house on June 29. The Residence Inn has a kitchenette (stovetop, microwave, no oven) so I will have to be creative to make some yummy foods.

Things we are bringing with us to the Residence Inn:
-All the grains and beans from my former boss's spiritual CSA
-All my beloved spices, oils, etc.
-Pressure cooker
-Steamer
-Electric skillet
-A couple of my favorite pots and pans
-The Griddler
-Knives
-Assorted small kitchen tools (measuring spoons, can opener, vegetable peeler, etc.

So the goal is to make delicious foods despite being in a hotel. It will be a fun challenge! Especially since I start my new job on Monday!!!! Haha! I'm crazy.

Off we go!

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Amsterdam Falafel

The best falafel I have ever eaten at my life is served at Amsterdam Falafelshop in the Adams Morgan neighborhood in Washington, DC. I discovered this today when we went there for lunch. I read a review about it a long time ago and have wanted to go there ever since, but we didn't have a chance. Today we went to visit Gibby's grandma in DC one more time before we move (6 more days!) so we also made an effort to go eat falafel.

Oh my god. It is amazing. The best pitas ever, the best falafel ever, a wide array of condiments to add into the pita, and oh my god the fries are served Dutch-style in little cones with mayonnaise. I LOVE FRIES WITH MAYONNAISE. I was born in Holland while my dad was stationed there with the US Air Force and I think I may have caught some of the Dutch gene of loving fries with mayonnaise.

I wish we had gone to the Falafelshop before!!! I am sad. We will have to go back when we come down to visit. Gibby has said he will never eat falafel anywhere else for his entire life because this is the first time he has ever eaten falafel and he does not want anyone to ruin his perfect image of what good falafel should be. Yum yum!

Me and my falafel:
falafel

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Yellow Curry

Awhile ago I got a bunch of cookbooks from Freecycle (a service I use A LOT) and many of them were from Australia or Great Britain. It was very interesting, and not just because bell peppers were called capsicums and eggplants were called aubergines. It's also interesting to see how different cultures interpret other foreign foods. For example, we all know and love Taco Bell, but it is obviously not at all like the food actually served in Mexico. It is our Americanized fatty-ified interpretation of Mexican food.

So I decided to try this Thai curry from one of the books (Great Meals: Time To Cook). It's similar to the Thai food I make all the time, except something tasted very different. I'm not sure what it was, since I've used those spices before. I'm going to chalk it up to it being an Australian/UK interpretation of Thai food.

We liked this a lot and would make it again! I used dried herbs and spices instead of the fresh lemongrass and stuff, but still made the garlicky paste. Stir it fast or the garlic will burn!!

yellow curry

Yellow Curry
Great Meals: Time To Cook, Paragon Publishing, 2004

Potatoes are not highly regarded in Thai cooking because rice is the traditional staple food, but this dish is a tasty exception.

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 1/4 inch piece fresh gingerroot or galangal, finely chopped
1 lemongrass stem, finely chopped
1 tsp coriander seeds
3 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 tsp Thai red curry paste
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
3/4 cup coconut milk
1 1/2 cups cubed potatoes
1/2 cup vegetable stock
4 packed cups fresh young spinach leaves
1 small onion, thinly sliced into rings

Place the garlic, ginger, lemongrass, and coriander seeds in a mortar and crush with a pestle to a smooth paste.

Heat 2 Tbsp of the oil in a preheated wok or large, heavy-bottomed skillet. Add the fresh garlic and spice paste and stir-fry over high heat for 30 seconds. Stir in the curry paste and turmeric, then add the coconut milk and bring to a boil.

Add the potatoes and stock. Return to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 10-12 minutes, or until the potatoes are almost tender.

Stir in the spinach and simmer until the leaves have wilted.

Heat the remaining oil in a separate skillet. Add the onion and cook until crisp and golden brown. Place on top of the curry just before serving.

Yield: 4 servings

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Three-Cheese Macaroni & Cheese

Today was my goodbye lunch at work and we ordered from Cheesecake Factory. Oh man. I am still full. I had a salad and a piece of cheesecake and I think I took in two full days' worth of calories. But I came home and the Gibs was hungry so I made our favorite macaroni and cheese recipe. I halved the recipe and Gibby is pretty much eating it straight out of the casserole dish. Maybe I'll have some later if there is any left but I am definitely not hungry yet!

Ingredients used in the Moving Challenge: Macaroni, panko, provolone, mozzarella, & parmesan cheese. (Yeah, I threw in some random cheeses)

Monday, May 04, 2009

Green Tea Rice with Vegetables

We've had such a great streak of yummy recipes from Vegetarian Times; we were due for a crappy one. This is just not great. The rice is yummy, but the meal itself is so boring and the vegetables we used (Seapoint Farms) had a funny smell. We doused it in chili oil which made it better, but this is still not something I would make again. Maybe just the rice.

Items Used in Moving Challenge: Basmati rice, frozen vegetables, green onions, random tea bags we get with our Chinese takeout.

rice

Green Tea Rice with Vegetables
Vegetarian Times

Freshly brewed green tea lends a deliciously subtle, grassy flavor to this light rice dish. Serve with low-sodium soy sauce and chili oil, if desired.

4 green tea bags
1 cup basmati rice
1 clove garlic, minced (1 tsp)
1 tsp minced fresh ginger
1 1/2 cups frozen mixed vegetables
1 bunch green onions, chopped (1/2 cup)
1/2 cup toasted sesame seeds

Place tea bags in a 4-cup measuring cup, and cover with 3 cups water. Steep 7 to 10 minutes. Discard tea bags.

Combine rice, garlic, ginger, and tea in medium saucepan, and bring to a boil. Cover pan, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 10 minutes.

Add frozen vegetables, and cover pan again. Cook 5 to 10 more minutes, or until tea is absorbed and vegetables are hot and crisp-tender. Stir in green onions and sesame seeds, and season with salt and pepper, if desired.

Yield: 8 servings

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Joy & Eric's Wedding

We went to Joy & Eric's wedding in Connecticut this weekend, hence the MIA posting. Here is a picture of their red velvet cake:

cake

Other food-related highlights of the trip:
-Dinner at 50 Coins with my mother-in-law and our friend Kado
-Fudgie the Whale ice cream cake from Carvel, because my mom had a sudden need for one

Tonight we're having frozen pizza because I am too tired to do anything else.