Thursday, June 30, 2011

Jalapeno-Lime Slaw

Last week  in our CSA bag we received cabbage.  I thought about making cole slaw with it but I wasn't sure what kind I'd like to make.  I also thought about making fish tacos but I knew I wouldn't be able to use all the cabbage for fish tacos.  Luckily, I was picking out some new recipes to make from Cooking Light and came across this recipe.

This is perfect for people who love lime, cilantro, and jalapenos.

Who doesn't love those flavors?!  I know I sure do! 

This is a perfect summer recipe for barbeques or a side dish to some homemade Mexican food.  I'm having it along side some chicken tacos and I can't wait.  You could also use it for pulled pork sliders.  I think it would be delicious on those as well.

Jalapeno-Lime Slaw
Adapted from Cooking Light July 2011

1/3 c fresh lime juice (about 2 large limes)
1 t sugar
3/4 t kosher salt
1/4 t freshly ground black pepper
3 T olive oil
1/2 c thinly sliced red onion
1/2 c coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
1 carrot, grated
1/2 head of green cabbage
4 jalapeno peppers, sliced

1.  Combine first 4 ingredients in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk.  Gradually add olive oil, stirring constantly.  Add to the bowl onion, cilantro, carrot, and cabbage.  
2.  Thinly slice 1 jalapeno with seeds and add to bowl.  For the next 3 jalapenos take the seeds out by cutting them in half crosswise and using the back of a spoon to scrape/push out the seeds.  Slice the remaining 3 jalapenos and add to the bowl.  Cover and chill at least 1 hour before serving. 

Are you a fan of spicy foods?  

I totally am although my heat tolerance isn't as high as I'd like it to be.  I try eating spicy foods anyway. 

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Bottling- David's Debut IPA- Part 2

It’s been almost a full month since we brewed our “Inauguration IPA.”  We let it sit in the primary fermenter for about 10 days, and then transferred it over to the secondary vessel where we dry-hopped the beer with 2-ounces of Cascade Hops and let it sit for another 10 days.  Dry Hopping is basically adding additional hops to the beer at non-boiling temperatures once it has completed fermentation. The reason I wanted to dry hop this beer was to give it a nice floral/citrus aroma that many people associate with common west-coast IPAs.  I love that scent, it’s probably one of my favorite scents in the world!  And I’m proud to say that as of bottling day it worked!  The beer has developed a very nice “hoppy” smell that many of you are familiar with when drinking IPAs.

The day before “bottling day”, Kelli and I spent several hours preparing over 50 bottles(!) by removing the labels, washing them, and sanitizing them.  I was so grateful to have her help because this was a bigger job than I had anticipated!  It made me decide that as soon as I can afford it I am going to invest in a 5 gallon keg and kegerator so I don’t ever have to deal with that again.  It seems like most home brewers end up going this route eventually anyway to avoid the hassle of dealing with bottles. 

Bottling only took us about an hour because I already had everything sanitized and ready to go by the time my brewing buddy Jeff showed up.  It’s actually pretty easy to bottle once you have all of the bottles dealt with.  You simply boil some priming sugar and water and then add it to the “bottling bucket”.  We then siphon the beer from the secondary vessel on top of the priming sugar into the bottling bucket and mix it up.  At that point we’re ready to put the beer into the bottles and cap them!  The remaining yeast in the beer will act on the priming sugar to create carbonation in the bottle within 1-3 weeks.  

I can’t wait to try it!  We’re having a Tasting Party/4th of July Party at Kelli’s Parents’ house on 4th of July weekend.  This will be the debut of the IPA for family and friends.  I hope everybody likes it.  Part 3 of the brewing series will be on the Tasting Party, and how the beer turned out.

In the spirit of the Made in Sonoma Blog, I leave you with the following questions: 
What is your favorite style of beer?  Do you have a favorite beer? 
Shout out in the comments below to let me know you care!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

One Fast Dinner

Since David's been taking summer classes I have to get dinner done more quickly when I get home.  It hasn't been easy since 2 out of those 3 days he has to leave early, I'm also coming home later.  I threw this recipe together tonight. Super easy and super tasty!

You could also easily add an avocado to the mix and I think that would be delicious! 

This might be too light of a meal for some men but it definitely works as a side dish or a rather light meal.

Quinoa Salad with Black Beans
Loosely Adapted From Oh She Glows

1 c uncooked quinoa, rinsed
1 1/4 c chicken broth or water
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 green onions, chopped
1 jalapeno, diced
1 c fresh or defrosted frozen corn
1 can black beans, drained & rinsed
1 clove garlic, minced
3 T lime juice
1/4 c olive oil
1/2 t cumin
fresh chopped cilantro

1.  Bring 1 1/4 cup chicken broth to a boil in a medium pot.  Add 1 cup rinsed quinoa to the pot and bring back up to a simmer.  Lower heat and cover for 15 minutes.  Fluff with a fork and let cool down about 5 minutes. 
2.  In a large bowl add red bell pepper, green onions, jalapeno (ribs and seeds removed if you aint a fan of the spice!), corn, and black beans.  
3.  In a small bowl combine garlic, lime juice, S&P,  and cumin.  Whisk in the olive oil.  
4.  Add cooked quinoa to the bowl of veggies and toss with dressing.

Although, I didn't use cilantro, if I had it on hand I totally would have thrown that in the mix.  Regardless, it was delicious sans cilantro.  

I've been trying to sub quinoa anytime a recipe calls for couscous, pearled couscous, or even rice.  It actually works out great and it's better for you. 

Are you down with quinoa?
I really want to try the black quinoa they sell at Whole Foods!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Palisades Trail Hike

 Last Saturday David, myself, and 4 other family members went on about an 11 mile day hike.  My uncle had been wanting to go on this hike for years and after reading about the hike I did to Mt. St. Helena we organized a day to make this hike happen. 

I know it's hard to read but that's the trail map. 

 Towards the beginning of the hike when I still had plenty of energy and didn't know the cookies I had baked that morning for the hike were completely smashed to smithereens!

This shows some cool boulders we ran into.  We were able to climb up on them to get better views of the surrounding areas. 

The view from top of the rocks.

We were pretty much dying on this hike because it was HOT.  We thought most of it was going to be down hill since we parked 1 car at the top of the mountain and 1 at the bottom.  It was definitely not mostly down hill as there were lots of climbs.  The trail was very narrow which made it difficult to hike through.  Lots of brush and over grown weeds took over the trail which made matters worse.  We finally got to this awesome cave which provided some shade and was much cooler.

This is what the rock over hang/cave (?) looked like from further away.  David pointed out it kind of looks like an animal painting on the rock.  I don't know if you can see it but it looks pretty cool.

This trail marker gave us so much hope!  Only 4.5 miles to the Calistoga Trail Head where we parked the car. It was all downhill from here!  It was nice to not be climbing anymore but as a result I got a huge blister on the side of my left heel. It's about the size of a penny - not pretty!

Towards the end vineyards were in sight again. Aww...if only we would have decided to go wine tasting instead!

I always love going hiking even though sometimes during the hike I can get frustrated from heat, blisters, hunger, thirst (we all ran out of water on this hike), and bugs.  It's funny I love being out in nature but I still HATE bugs.  

I would say this was probably the hardest day hike I've ever done before.  It was comparable to some backpacking trips without the beautiful reward of a campsite and a serene lake.  The main thing that kept us going was picturing a nice cold brew.  We went to Silverado Brewing Company afterwards where I had a Rye Ale with sweet potato fries, coleslaw, and a pulled pork sandwich. The beer was the best part!  Of course I left my camera in the car and wasn't able to take a picture though.

All in all, it was a great day!  I only suffered with a very burnt neck and a blister on my foot.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Whole Foods Parking Lot

I have to share this video.

One of the reasons I'm glad I got my facebook account back is because I come across videos/music I wouldn't normally find.  One of my "friends" posted this video and it made me smile.

 Whole Foods Parking Lot


Have you ever had any of these experiences while at Whole Foods? 

I've definitely experienced people blocking bulk bins.

We have 2 WF's in my city but the one I go to is the original small one and their parking sucks! I've definitely gotten angry a few times not being able to find parking.

Off to hike 11 miles today and then reward myself with a beer from Silverado Brewing Co. in Saint Helena!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Watermelon Agua Fresca

This is what happened -- I had cut up a watermelon about 1.5 weeks earlier and the dang watermelon was mealy!  The week before I had the Whole Foods produce guy help me pick out the perfect watermelon.  I was so excited to pick out another perfect one the next week, but what do I pick?  A dang mealy one! It was all nicely cut  up sitting in the refrigerator but I just don't have it in me to eat mealy fruit.  Mealy fruit is a huge pet peeve of mine.  On Sunday morning I was making my grocery list and came across a recipe I had book marked months before from What's Cookin' with Mary? I decided to look through her recipe index and spotted this recipe.  It looked so easy and I had everything on hand -- PERFECT!  While David was sleeping I made this delicious concoction.  I was hopping the sound of the blender would wake him up but no such luck.  When he finally did arise I told him to try it.  He's not a huge fan of mint and already was turning his nose up.  Well, no surprise there, he was not a fan of the mint.  I figure it just means more for me.

Watermelon Agua Fresca
from What's Cookin' with Mary?

1 medium seedless watermelon, cut into chunks
9 mint leaves
water (optional)
sugar (optional)

1.  Combine watermelon and mint in a blender and blend until smooth. Add in additional ingredients if necessary. Serve over ice and garnish with mint.

*My watermelon was really sweet so I didn't need to add in the water or sugar.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

CSA Bag: Week 4

I can't believe I've already received 4 CSA bags! One more left and I have to make another payment.  I'm unsure still if I want to continue getting them.  Here's my list of Pros and Cons.

  • Having amazing fresh and tasty produce
  • Having variety with each bag
  • A surprise every Tuesday morning in my e-mail
  • Supporting a local farm 
  • Eating organic and local 
  • Price
  • Going to the farm every Tuesday after work
I guess those are the only 2 cons which obviously the pros out weight the cons.  I'll have to keep thinking about it though regardless.

This week we got...

half a cabbage
3/4 pound lettuce
1 pound cauliflower
1 bunch green onions
3/4 pound broccoli rabe
1 cup Hopi Blue corn meal
strawberry syrup

I can't wait to try some buttermilk pancakes using the blue corn meal on Saturday and drenching it in the strawberry syrup.

Look at this cauliflower.  I know it's hard to see but it's light purple and reminds me of a coral reef! If you click the picture you might be able to see it better. I love eating cauliflower raw.

I should REALLY & I mean REALLY work on my homework right now.  I'm taking an online Microsoft Word class and I have an assignment to work on but I'd rather be blogging.  Mainly because it's so damn hot outside today.  After my mom and I got back from walking around Spring Lake I made an easy barbeque recipe -- SO good too! Something about the sweet mustard with the tangy balsamic vinegar makes this delicious.  Recipe follows and I definitely recommend it.  We make it about 2 times a year in the summer and it's one I'll keep making for years and years to come.

Grilled Sausage Subs with Peppers and Onions
Adapted from Cooking Pleasures

4 slices sweet onion
2 medium red bell peppers, each cut into 8 wedges
1 T balsamic vinegar
4 fully cooked sausages
4 hot dog buns
1/4 c honey mustard

1.  Heat grill.  Grill onions and peppers, covered, over medium-high heat or coals 10 minutes or until peppers are charred and onion slices are soft, turning occasionally.
2.  Cut peppers into thin strips. Toss with onions and vinegar in medium bowl.
3.  Meanwhile, grill sausages, covered, 5 to 8 minutes or until browned on all sides.  Grill rolls, covered, 1 to 2 minutes or until toasted.  Spread each roll with mustard; top with sausages, peppers, and onions.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Stuffed Poblanos


I just got home from yoga (my 2nd class EVER) and finally have some time to share this recipe.  First off, I'm really enjoying yoga!  I guess it might be too soon to say things like I love yoga but I'm finding it to be a great work out and also relaxing at the same time.  I didn't even know that was possible. Moving on...

These stuffed poblanos are quite tasty and are definitely blog worthy.  They weren't too difficult to make but they do take a while to bake so I wouldn't recommend making them during the week.  I'd say a Friday-Sunday type of meal when you have more time.

Stuffed Poblanos
adapted from Ezra Pound Cake 

1 can (28 oz) whole tomatoes in puree
1 jalapeno, ribs and seeds removed, minced
2 small onions or 1 large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves (2 whole, 1 minced)
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 c yellow cornmeal
1 c shredded jack or pepper jack cheese
1 t ground cumin
4 large poblano chilies, halved lenghtwise (stems left intact), ribs & seeds removed

Garnishes: sour cream/plain greek yogurt, cilantro, lime zest

1.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees
2.  In a blender, combine tomatoes in puree, jalapeno, half the onions, and 2 whole garlic cloves; puree.  Season with salt.  Pour sauce into 9x13 inch baking dish ; set aside.
3.  In a medium bowl, combine beans, cornmeal, 1/2 cup cheese, remaining onions, minced garlic, cumin, and 3/4 cup water; season with salt & pepper.
4.  Stuff poblano halves with bean mixture; place on top of sauce in baking dish.  Sprinkle pablanos with remaining 1/2 cup cheese; cover dish with foil.
5.  Bake until poblanos are tender, about 45 minutes.  Uncover, and continue to cook until sauce is thickened slightly and cheese is browned, about 10 minutes.  Let cool 5-10 minutes before eating.

* In the 2nd step I had to use 2 baking dishes because all the chiles wouldn't fit.  I also wasn't able to keep the stems on all of the halves so I wouldn't worry about that.  They still hold the filling just fine.

What's your favorite Mexican dish?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Black Bean Brownies

Before you say "EWE!" give it a chance! I came across this recipe on one of my favorite blogs A Healthy Slice of Life a while back.  When Brittany featured them I was intrigued.  I made them that weekend and I liked them, David liked them, and 2 of our friends also liked them.  My friend Michelle says she's made them a few times since I made them and she loves them.  It's perfect for anyone craving sweets but is trying to keep their health in mind.  The texture is very spongy and light.  I will admit that they taste better the next day.

On this occasion I used the CSA black beans that I got in my bag.  It was delicious with homemade black beans and I felt so domestic having real homemade beans in them.  It's definitely not required but if you ever have some dried black beans this could be another use for them. Who knew?!

Black Bean Brownies
Adapted from Allrecipes

1 (15.5 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
3 eggs
3 T vegetable oil
1/4 c cocoa powder
1 pinch salt
1 t vanilla extract
3/4 c granulated sugar
1 t baking powder (optional)
1 t instant coffee (optional but recommended)
1/2 c chocolate chips (optional)
1/4 c walnuts, chopped (optional)

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease 8x8 baking dish.
2.  Combine black beans through instant coffee in a blender and puree.  Pour batter into prepared baking dish.  Sprinkle on chocolate chips and or walnuts if using.  Bake for 30 minutes or until top is dry and starting to pull away from the sides.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Dad's Day

August 2009 at Stumptown Brewery

This weekend I went to the store to find my Dad a Father's Day card.  Although, I did find one that was semi suitable I didn't feel it was very special.  Nothing I looked at reminded me of my Dad because they were all so generic, fake, and over the top.  I finally settled on a somewhat humorous card to fit his personality.  I didn't feel like it was the best though so I hope he'll enjoy looking at some pictures of us throughout the years. 

May 2010 at Jason's high school graduation

I would say my Dad and I have a somewhat complicated relationship but I can honestly say that we love each other so much and are always there for each other. He's very opinionated and hot-tempered which are some traits I've inherited from him.  He's also very sensitive and also the kind of Dad that is a huge teddy bear.  Anytime I've been sad he can give me a big bear hug and relieve some of my pain.  

May 2005 - my senior prom

One of my favorite and most embarrassing memories of my Dad is when he sat David and I down when we were about 15 to give David "The Talk".  He told him he owned a construction company with a lot of tractors and that if he ever hurt me he'd hunt him down and dig a hole so deep no one would ever be able to find him.  Completely crazy, I know!  He reminded me of one of those Dad's on TV that talks about hanging the boyfriends head above the fireplace. 

May 2005 - Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Today I work at my Dad's company and feel so lucky to be able to see my Dad every day.  Most people don't see their own father's even once a week and I see my Dad almost every single day!  At time's it can be difficult but for most part it works.  My Dad is absolutely the most hard working person I've ever met in my life.  He's provided my family with everything we've ever needed and everything we could have ever wanted, therefore he definitely deserves recognition on this day. He may also deserve some baby back ribs and homemade strawberry ice cream too. Just maybe...  Love you, Dad! 

Friday, June 17, 2011

Snobby Joes

Today's recipe is Snobby Joe's! I'm sure you've heard of the spin-off Sloppy Jennie's which are basically Sloppy Joe's but made with ground turkey rather than ground beef.  I'm a huge fan of Sloppy Jennie's because they are so easy to make.  I came across this recipe and knew I had to try it ASAP!

Our secret ingredient which makes these snobby are...


I know you're probably thinking "How could lentils replace ground beef/turkey?!".  Well, they easily replace the meat for this vegetarian meal as Jonny Bowden explains "A cup of lentils contains a nice amount of protein - about 18 g.  But best of all, the same cup contains a whopping 16 g of fiber.  Lentils are also a terrific source of folate and a good source of at least seven minerals.  One cup provides 37 percent of the Daily Value for iron and 49 percent of the Daily Value for manganese, an important trace mineral that's essential for growth, reproduction, wound healing, peak brain function, and the proper metabolism of sugars, insulin, and cholesterol.".

I recommend making this recipe soon because it does not disappoint! The flavor is excellent and I think even if I were making sloppy jennies again I'd use this recipe's spices.  Don't be afraid of the lentils -- they don't bite!

Snobby Joes
Adapted from What's For Dinner? 
Originally from Veganomican Cookbook

1 cup uncooked lentils
4 cups water

1 T olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced small
1 green bell pepper, diced small
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 T chili powder
2 t fresh oregano or 1 t dried
8 oz can tomato sauce
1/4 cup tomato paste
3 T maple syrup
1 T yellow mustard (wet)

4 buns/rolls/thins 

1.  Place lentils in a medium pot with the water.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, lower heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, until lentils are soft.  Drain and set aside.
2.  About 10 minutes before the lentils are done boiling, preheat a medium soup pot over medium heat.  Saute onion and pepper in oil for about 7 minutes, until softened.  Add the garlic and saute for a minute more. 
3.  Add the cooked lentils, chili powder, oregano, and salt and mix.  Add the tomato sauce and tomato paste.  Cook for about 10 minutes.  Add the maple syrup and mustard and heat through.
4.  Turn off heat and let sit for about 10 minutes, so that the flavors can meld.  (I couldn't wait for this step and it was still delicious!)

What do you think?  Would you be willing to try this take on sloppy joes?

Bowden, Jonny (2007). The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth. Cambridge, MA: Fair Winds Press.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

CSA Bag: Week 3 & a Sweet Surprise

If you click on the picture you can see it bigger and read exactly what I received this week in my CSA bag.  I can't tell you how excited I was to get some strawberries! Tierra Farms has the best strawberries.  There's nothing like farm fresh strawberries.  It really makes me wonder what those things they sell at the stores are.  They sure don't look or taste like farm fresh strabs -- that's for sure!  I was also equally excited about getting the broccoli.  We got tons of greens this week! I'm stoked about the arugula because I'm dying to create a feta stuffed lamb burger with an arugula pesto sauce on a home-made cibatta bun.  Wow, that's a mouthful! Looks like I'll be creating that on Saturday night -- can't wait! Recipe to follow (I hope).

I swear, I have some really exciting recipes for you coming up but you'll have to wait till Friday...I'm sorry!  I'm just used to having my Wednesday posts be about what's in my CSA bag. I feel bad though so I'll supply you what I'm feasting on right now.

Some peanut butter cup ice cream.  David got me the Kitchen Aid ice cream bowl attachment for my birthday so I was dying to make some home made ice cream!  It turned out amazing although I think I should have left it churning for just a few more minutes.  This recipe was so easy, I'll definitely be making it again in the future.

Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream
recipe by Recipe Girl

1 1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/4 cup whole milk
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 1/2 t vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups chopped chocolate peanut butter cups (8-10 regular sized PB cups)

1.  In a medium bowl, use an electric mixer to combine peanut butter and sugar until smooth.  Add milk and mix on low until sugar is dissolved - a full 2 minutes.  Mix in heavy cream and vanilla and beat until well combined and smooth.

2.  Turn on your ice cream machine, pour the base in the freezer  bowl, and let mix until thickened, about 25 - 30 minutes.  A couple minutes before you're ready to stop the churning, stop the machine, add in the chopped peanut butter cups.  The ice cream will be soft-serve consistency.  You can eat it right away, or freeze to eat till later which will make it more ice-cream-scoopable.  Let it sit out a few minutes before you try scooping it out.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Stir-Fried Chicken Paprikash

Chicken Pap-whaa?  This recipe is pretty dang simple and it packs a punch of unsuspecting flavor (don't let my photography full you).  I made it back in February and decided it was time to share.  Couldn't everyone use another simple, tasty, and fast chicken recipe in their repertoire?  You could serve this alongside some brown rice, quinoa, mashed potatoes, or pretty much anything.  I had it simple with only a side of fava beans.  Yes, fava beans.  Not my favorite, just let me say that.  I had to use them from the CSA bag since I wouldn't want them to go to waste but man, I was not a fan.  I think the time before I served this with broccoli and I was much happier with that.

Stir-Fried Chicken Paprikash
Adapted from Rachael Ray Everyday

1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast, sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 T dry sherry
1 T finely chopped garlic
2 1/2 t cornstarch
2 T plus 2 t vegetable oil
3/4 c chicken broth
1 red bell pepper, sliced thin
1 onion, sliced 1/4 inch wide strips
1 T sweet paprika
1/3 c plain greek yogurt
3 T cilantro or flat-leaf parsley

1. In a medium bowl, combine the chicken, 1 tablespoon sherry, garlic, 2 teaspoons cornstarch, 1/2 t salt, and 1/4 t pepper.  Stir in 2 teaspoons oil.
 2. In a small bowl, combine the chicken broth and the remaining 1 tablespoon sherry.  Stir in the remaining 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch until dissolved.
3. Heat a 14-inch, flat bottomed wok over high heat until a bead of water vaporizes unpon contact.  Swirl in 1 tablespoon oil.  Add the chicken mixture, spread in a single layer and cook undisturbed for 1 minute.  Using a metal spatual, stir-fry until the chicken begins to brown, about 2 minutes; transfer to a plate.
4. Lower the heat to medium and swirl in the remaining 1 tablespoon oil.  Add the onion and bell pepper; season with salt and stir-fry until softened, about 1 minute.  Add the paprika, return the chicken and any juice to the wok, increase the heat to high and stir-fry until just combined.  Swirl in the broth mixture and stir-fry until the chicken is just cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes.  Stir in the greek yogurt and garnish with cilantro.

** Sorry for the lame photo.  It will be one of my lasts with my point and shoot. : )

Friday, June 10, 2011

Zucchini -- Something to Rave About!

I've been a fan of grilled zucchini for a long time.  I even once made it at a dinner party for 3 girlfriends and I swear, our favorite part of the dinner was the grilled zucchini.  So easy and so tasty! One friend told me she tried making her own grilled zucchini but didn't have any success.  I asked her to explain what she did.  She basically explained deep fried zucchini.  I had to laugh! All the steps she described going through when all she had to do  was a couple simple steps.  Still makes me laugh thinking about it.  This took grilled zucchini a step further and makes it the most delicious zucchini I've ever tasted!  I could eat it like candy -- it's that good! I recommend making these ASAP! Either as a vegetarian entree served with sides or as a side to a main dish.  Perfect for summer since zucchini become more readily available. 

Grilled Zucchini Rollatini with Sun-Dried Tomatoes & Goat Cheese
Adapted from Ezra Pound Cake

4 medium zucchini's
2 T olive oil
4 oz goat cheese, room temperature 
2 T sundried tomatoes, chopped (packed in oil or rehydrated)
3/4 t fresh thyme, finely chopped or a pinch of dried
2 T parmesan cheese 

1.  Heat grill or grill pan to medium-high heat
2.  Cut the zucchini into lengthwise strips about 1/4" thick.  Lightly brush with olive oil and sprinkle with S&P.  Grill the slices until lightly browned and slightly limp. 
3.  In a bowl, mix together 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil, goat cheese, sundried tomatoes, thyme, parmesan, and S&P to taste. 
4.  To assemble the rolls, lay zucchini flat on work surface, place 1 teaspoon cheese mixture on one end of the zucchini. Roll up zucchini starting with the cheese filled end and place on platter. 

Are you a fan of zucchini or other summer squashes?

p.s. Thank You to everyone who made my birthday so special yesterday!  I am the proud new owner of this baby!

Image Source

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

CSA Bag: Week 2 & Turkey Cilantro Meatballs

This weeks CSA bag is a little disappointing for me.  While there is plenty there for me to use,  I'm wondering to myself, "What the heck am I going to do with turnip greens?!".  This week in the bag there is:

Red sweet onnion 
Black Beans
& those dang turnip beats. 

I guess the good thing about this program is I'll have to challenge myself to try new things.  They gave a recipe I could do for braised greens which sounds good but just doesn't sound like something I'm dying to try.  I guess I'll have to do something with it! As for the lettuce and spinach, I'll eat those up in a hurry.  Cilantro is always in use at my house as well as garlic and onions.  I have the black beans soaking over night and hopefully I'll come up with a meal for those later in the week. It sure is fun having a little surprise every Tuesday afternoon of what I'll be getting. 

Onto recipes! I made this recipe on Monday night and thought it was super tasty! Lots of cilantro shining through these little meatballs. It was also easy to make and doesn't require many ingredients -- my fave!

Turkey Meatballs with Sweet Peanut Sauce
Adapted from Rachael Ray Everyday

1 pound ground turkey (or chicken)
1/2 c chopped cilantro
1/4 c dried breadcrumbs
1/4 c grated onion (or finely chopped)
2 clove garlic, grated (or minced)
1 t salt
1/2 t pepper
2 T olive oil
1/4 c peanut butter
2 T soy sauce
3 T sugar
3 T sesame oil
chopped peanuts, for garnish

1.  Mix turkey, cilantro, breadcrumbs, onion, garlic, S & P; roll into 1 tablespoon balls.
2.  In medium skillet, heat oil over medium heat.  Add meatballs and cook through, 6 to 8 minutes.
3.  Mix remaining ingredients (except peanuts) and warm in a sauce pan over medium-low heat or warm in the microwave.
4.  Toss meatballs with half of the sauce and sprinkle with peanuts.  Dip meatballs in remaining sauce.

I served this entree with a simple salad dressed with an Asian flavor dressing.  I love cutting veggies on a diagonal when I have Asian inspired flavors involved.  It's a fun twist since I don't usually cut my veggies that way.  

Sorry for the semi-out-of-focus pictures lately.  Since the weather has been so bad I've had to take them all indoors with a terrible glare showing.  Hopefully now that the sun is shining more it won't be such an issue!  I swear, this dinner was tasty, even if the picture doesn't look so appetizing.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Vegetable Enchiladas

Mmmm...Who doesn't like enchiladas?  They are definitely one of my favorite Mexican foods.  I've mentioned before that I love Mexican food but I really love homemade Mexican food.  You can control what goes in it and it's much healthier, plus I don't snack on chips and salsa this way.  I'd say I make a Mexican dish at least once a week.  I really enjoy cheese enchiladas or black bean enchiladas but these were great! So many different vegetables packed into those corn tortillas.  I've had this recipe bookmarked from Pink Parsley since the beginning of May and I'm glad I finally made them.  It does require a bit of chopping so allow yourself some extra time if you're a little slower but it's totally worth it -- I'll be making them again and again! 

Vegetable Enchiladas 
Adapted from Pink Parsley

1 (15 oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 T olive oil
1 onion, minced 
1 red or yellow bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped
1 jalapeno, stemmed, seeded, and finley chopped
1 zucchini halved lenghtwise, and chopped small 
3 garlic cloves, minced 
1 cup fresh or frozen corn 
2 1/2 cups enchilada sauce (recipe follows)
1 cup crumbled queso fresco or feta cheese
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, minced
1 (4 oz) can chopped green chilies
2 cups fresh spinach, chopped
1 tomato, cored, seeded, and chopped
12 (6-inch) corn tortillas
cooking spray 
cheddar cheese (about 4 oz)
lime wedges, for serving
plain greek yogurt, for serving 

1.  Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Lightly grease a 9x13 inch baking dish

2.  Mash half the beans in a bowl with a fork until mostly smooth; set aside. 

3.  Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion, bell pepper, and jalapeno and cook until softened and lightly browned, 5 to 7 minutes.  Stir in the zucchini and cook until just tender, 3 to 5 minutes.  Stir in the garlic and corn, and cook until just fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Add the mashed beans and remaining black beans and cook until warmed through.

4.  Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl and stir in 1/2 cup of the enchilada sauce, queso freso or feta cheese, cilantro, green chilies, spinach, and tomato.  Season with S&P to taste and set aside. 

5.  Place tortillas on a plate and cover with a paper towel.  Cook 30-60 seconds in the microwave to warm.  Fill each tortilla with about 1/3 cup of the filling and tightly roll each tortilla seam-side down in the baking dish.

6.  Spray the enchiladas lightly with cooking spray, and bake 5-7 minutes.  Pour remaining enchilada sauce over the top, sprinkle with the cheese, and bake and additional 10 minutes, until the enchiladas are heated through and the cheese has melted.  Allow to cool 5-10 minutes, then serve, passing limes wedges and topping with greek yogurt.

Red Enchilada Sauce 

1 tsp olive oil
1 onion, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 T chile powder
2 t ground cumin
2 t sugar
1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
1/2 c water

1.  Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. 
2.  Add the onion and cook until softened, 5 minutes.  Stir in the garlic, chile powder, cumin, and sugar, and cook stirring constantly until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Stir in the tomato sauce and water, and bring to a simmer.  Cook until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.  Season with S&P. 

You could definitely save yourself some time by buying a red enchilada sauce in a can but this is actually a really easy recipe and if you have the time I recommend trying it. I also feel like this recipe is easy to change around. If you're a fan of spicy try using jalapeno jack cheese or pinto beans rather than black. There are many ways to play around with this recipe.

I also have to say that I used Whole Foods corn tortillas that are .99 cents a bag. In the past I've used La Tortilla Factory's organic tortillas and after having them 3 times get moldy on me I made a complaint to them on their website. That was about 3 weeks ago and I still haven't heard back. I'm not going to support a company that doesn't care about their customers -- no more La Tortilla Factory tortillas for me! I have to say, I was very happy with Whole Foods and they are much cheaper! I guess it's a win-win situation.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Brewing! David's Debut IPA - Part 1

I finally had the opportunity to brew my first beer!  My friend and I spent a few solid hours on Sunday pioneering our first IPA in my backyard.  We purchased a brew kit from a brew supply store online that included pretty much everything we needed besides the actual IPA ingredients.  There are seemingly a lot of parts that go into brewing beer, but it’s really not so bad.  We started by laying out all of the ingredients and going through the recipe/ instructions to get a solid grasp of what needed to happen and the correct order they needed to take place.  I had purchased 5 gallons of quality Spring Water earlier that day to make sure my first beer was off to the best possible start.  They say that beer is at least 90% water, so your beer can only be as good as the water you start with!

The first picture you see is a picture of several of the ingredients including the Gold and Amber Malt Extracts, the Grain, and the Hops.  Beer is composed of 4 main ingredients:  Water, Malt, Hops, and Yeast.  The hops used in this recipe are Cascade (2 oz), Willamette (1 oz), and Goldings (1oz), and will help provide bitterness, flavor, and floral aroma.  You’ll also see in the picture several tools including siphons, hoses, a cleaning brush, a thermometer, a hydrometer, and the beer chiller.  The hydrometer is used to determine the fermentation activity as well as the alcohol content of the beer, and the beer chiller is used to get the beer down to a cool temperature from boiling as quickly as possible so as to avoid oxidation and contamination.

The first step in this entire process is to get our water in the brew kettle up to 155 degrees.  Then we steep our grains in the water for 15-30 minutes much like you would steep tea.  This is one of the ways the beer gets its color.  You can see in the second picture the grain steeping much like tea!

In our case we steeped the grain at 155-160 degrees for about 25 minutes and then brought the kettle up to a boil and added our two Liquid Malt Extracts (Amber and Gold) making sure to stir it in slowly and not scorch it on the bottom of the kettle.  Once we got all that malt in the kettle (9.3 lbs of Liquid Malt to be exact!) we added out first batch of hops, the Cascade Hops. These are the ones you see me holding out in the picture.  They are my favorite of the three.  The aroma of the hops just dry was even amazing!

We added the Cascade hops right after the boil, and set the timer for 30 minutes and let it brew.  Once the timer went off it was time to add the Willamette hops to the brew and let those boil with everything else for another 30 minutes.  The final batch of hops (the Goldings hops) went in for the final 2-5 minutes and then we turned the heat off and began setting up the immersion chiller.  You can see it sitting in the kettle with hoses going in and out of it.  The way this works is one hose is hooked up to the input and feeds cold water through 25 feet of copper pipe that is submersed in the boiling hot beer.  Since copper is an excellent conductor the heat is transferred and carried out through the other hose and down the drain.  We were both amazed at how well this thing worked!  The water going in was ice cold, and the water coming out was steaming as it hit the drain!  Very cool to see how efficient this thing actually was.  It only took about 10 minutes to bring the boiling beer (called “wort” at this stage) down from over 220 degrees to about 80 degrees.  Pretty amazing stuff considering it was about 5 gallons of wort.

Once chilled we were able to transfer the wort in to our Primary Fermentation Vessle, which is essentially a 6.5 gallon bucket with an air-tight lid an gas release valve.  We took our gravity readings with the hydrometer which will help us determine the alcohol content later.  And then we added the yeast.  By the next day the yeast was already very active and was releasing lots of gasses, which is a very good thing.  You can tell because the airlock will release little bubbles of gas periodically.  It is based on the timing of the gas bubbles, as well as the specific gravity readings that will tell us when fermentation is complete.  This recipe calls for 1 week in the primary fermenter, and then to transfer to a glass 5-gallon secondary fermenter for another 2-3 weeks.  Once that process is complete we will be all clear to bottle the beer.  Once bottled, the beer will be ready to consume anywhere from 1-3 weeks later.

So yeah, it’s definitely a long process and I’m dying to finally be able to try my first brew!  Second to that I’m dying to share my first brew with all of my friends and family and fellow beer lovers!  (Providing it is worth sharing! Haha.)  I hope this post was interesting and informative, and I’ll be posting a “Part 2” on the bottling process once we get there, and then finally a “Part 3” on the finished product/ tasting of the beer.  Check back soon for more updates on my inauguration IPA!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Greek Barley Salad with Feta

I've had this recipe sitting in my recipe binder for a few years now. I finally decided to make it tonight.  I can see why I picked this recipe to save but I'm surprised I hadn't made it sooner.  I guess before I was doing all my shopping at Whole Foods, I knew I wouldn't be able to find barley.  Great thing about Whole Foods are their bulk bins -- barley galore! This was a perfect meal to make because I had fresh spinach on hand from my CSA bag and spinach is in the dressing.  I really liked the dressing that's in this salad and will make it again to dress a green garden salad.  I'm also a huge fan of greek flavors so it seemed like a perfect summer meal.  Only problem is...where is my summer weather?!  I'm dying to eat more salads and barbeque but it's just not in the cards yet.  Oh well, I'll have this one in the back of mind for a hot summer night come August.

Greek Barley Salad with Feta
Adapted from Cooking Pleasure August/September 2008
by Robin Asbell The New Whole Grains Cookbook

14 oz vegetable or chicken broth (2.5 cups if using hulled barley)
1 c pearl or hulled barley
1 garlic clove, peeled
2 c tightly packed spinach
1 T chopped fresh oregano or 1 t dried
1 T lemon juice
1 t grated lemon peel
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, chopped
1 large tomato, chopped
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
4 oz crumbled feta cheese

I also added in half of a small red onion diced, as well as 1 grated carrot.

1. Bring broth to a boil in a medium saucepan.  Add barley; return to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to medium to medium-low, simmer 30 minutes (pearl barley) or 40 minutes (hulled barley) or until all brother is absorbed.  Place in a medium bow; refrigerate until chilled.
2. With a food processor running, add garlic; process until finely chopped.  Add spinach and oregano; process until well-chopped.  Add lemon juice, lemon peel, and 1/2 teaspoon salt; process to combine.  With processor running, pour in oil.  Scrape down sides of bowl; process until very smooth.  Stir into barley.  (Salad can be made to this point 2 hours ahead.  Cover & refrigerate.)
3. Combine cucumber, tomato, and bell pepper (also red onion and carrot, if using) with barley mixture.  Stir in half of the cheese; sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Rhubarb on My Mind

Since I had rhubarb in my CSA bag, I had to find a way to use it.  I just wasn't sure how I was going to since I've only eaten it once with a big dollop of vanilla ice cream on it in Mainz, Germany.  Which reminded me how much I liked it and then led me on a wild goose hunt to find a recipe that would work for me. I read about 15 recipes for rhubarb crisp and after looking over my pantry to see what I had on hand, I came up with this. 

Here I am in Germany in June 2007 experiencing my first strawberry rhubarb dessert. I remember it being very tart. 

This rhubarb is deliciously sweet without so much tang.  It's still got a sour kick but it's much more mild than the one I had in Germany.  I absolutely loved it and if I had a dollop of vanilla ice cream with it, I would have been in heaven.  As I was preparing the crisp, I tasted a piece of the rhubarb -- it was incredibly sour! Now I know why everyone masks it with sugar to sweeten that sucker up.

Rhubarb Brown Sugar Crisp

1 cup brown sugar
1 cup flour
3/4 cup oats
1/2 cup melted butter
1/2 t cinnamon
4 cups sliced rhubarb
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 T corn starch
1 cup water
1 t vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees 
2. Combine brown sugar, flour, oats, and cinnamon in a bowl.  Slowly add in the melted butter and combine until crumbly.
3. In a saucepan over medium heat; combine sugar, corn starch, water, and vanilla.  Cook until liquid is transparent and has thickened.
4. Press half crumb mixture into the bottom of a pie plate or 8x8 baking dish.  Top with rhubarb; pour water and sugar mixture over rhubarb.  Sprinkle remaining crumbles over the top.  Bake for 45-50 minutes or until it is bubbling and browned on top.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

CSA Bag: Week 1

Good Morning! Isn't a table full of veggies a nice picture to see?  Some of you already know what CSA stands for but some of you do not, it's Community Supported Agriculture.  My mom and I joined the farm, Tierra Vegetables, which is a part of CSA.  We pay once a month and each Tuesday we'll go to the farm and pick up our vegetables that were picked that morning.  Above is what we got!  I'm not 100% sure how much of each we got but I know we got

1/2 pound lettuce
1 1/4 pound spinach 
2 pounds carrots
1 bundle cilantro
4 beets
and fava beans.  I'm not sure how many pounds of fava beans. 

Last night I tried the spinach, lettuce, beets, and carrots.  I can assure you, it all tasted so fresh! The carrots were out of this world flavorful.  The lettuce, spinach, and beets were also the most fresh tasting!  It's so different knowing exactly where your veggies were grown and that they weren't transported from far away or a different country.  I'm really excited about this and think others should check it out.  Here is the website where we found a farm near us that participates in this program: CSA

This is definitely changing my schedule up a bit but it's totally worth having the fresh, organic vegetables available. I can't wait to use up that rhubarb since I've never bought it before.  I'll be pushed to try new things in my cooking and I'm pretty happy about it. I believe the one we joined goes from June-November.  I'm not sure how long I'll do it for but I'm going to definitely try to do it through the summer.
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