Well today turned out to be, as Bob Ross would put it “A happy accident”. Meaning by that…my original plan was foiled but brought about a better scenario. I could’ve sworn that today was the start of our local farmer’s market, it is three blocks away and totally awesome. Unfortunately, it wasn’t so instead we went to Wholefoods. I was bummed at first, already being a victim of “cookers block”, my term for a food blogger with writers block. I had a TVP (textured vegetable protein) incident on Thursday that had taken the wind out of my sails, I rarely prepare something that I deem inedible and I was slightly crushed that I couldn’t make it work. Anyway, I decided I would make a “confetti” cous cous salad, I had a bunch of Oregon bay shrimp at home and thought it would be great, while collecting my ingredients to be purchased I noticed Wholefoods had a sale on Local, wild, WA, whole sockeye for $5.99 a lb! I couldn’t pass that up so I purchased one and the fish monger even fileted it for free. My husband, never one to neglect the beer selection picked up the NWPA from Fort George, which just happens to be my favorite brewery….I have never had beer I didn’t like from them but I had yet to try the Tender loving empire NWPA, so we grabbed a four pack and headed on our way. I decided I would make a pistachio crusted sockeye with my whole wheat cous cous confetti salad and pair it with the easy drinking NWPA.
• 1 whole sockeye, fileted, I had to remove the pin bones from mine, but I got a helluva deal.
• 2 clove garlic, smashed
• A handful fresh flat leaf parsley
• Half a handful cilantro
• A few springs of basil
• Tsp salt
• Tsp pepper
• Tsp red pepper flake
• Handful of shelled pistachios
• Zest of one lemon
• 1 tbsp. capers
With a mortar and pestle, combine ingredients, mash with a lil’ olive oil until it reaches a pesto type texture. Put your “pesto” mixture on your fish. Roast at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes. Serve with some lemon wedges.
Confetti cous cous
• 2 cups whole wheat cous cous, add a tbsp. of olive oil and cover all the dry cous cous with it, it give it a nice fluffy texture (this makes a ton….but can keep in the fridge for a week)
• 2 cups boiling water
• ½ tahini dressing (the recipe is included in my Asian Slaw recipe, check it out, or purchase the premade version at Wholefoods, totally acceptable)
• 1 cup Bay Shrimp, cooked
• ½ red pepper, diced small
• 1 shallot, diced small
• 2 cups baby spinach
• A handful sundried tomatoes
• ½ cup diced olives, your choice, I used a spicy Greek olive blend
• 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
In a large bowl, add dried cous cous and olive oil, mix around with fingers, when all are covered, add sundried tomatoes and chickpeas, add boiling water, set aside five minutes. Fluff with a fork. Add your other ingredients and combine, serve or refrigerate till ready to serve.
The dish ended up being great with the beer and my faith in humanity has once again been restored….not to mention we have had 6 days of sunshine in a row! Can’t complain….
So I’ve already verbally splooged about how much I love Costco for certain items, well today I will be featuring another one!!! Ito en “Matcha” green tea! They sell it by the large box all individually wrapped and basically could survive zombie Apocalypse and come out of it brew ready. I fell in love with Matcha for the first time at Cafe D’ Bolla in Salt Lake City, the proprietors are basically tea and coffee aficionados and they make the most amazing chewy pearl matcha iced tea! Since I can’t really go there and have their tea, with the exception of a few times a year, I think I have found a reasonable way to solve my craving for Matcha. A lot of people think green tea is bitter and don’t like it, I suggest that if you haven’t enjoyed it in the past try the Matcha variety, it’s really a delicious way to get all the great health benefits without the tannic aftertaste of traditional green. Over brewing can sometimes be the culprit in that as well, that being said it can be adjusted to suit the individual….so if you are new to tea drinking, try this. Drinking this hot or cold or room temp, is a great way to curb a craving for sweets and it a great way to extend your hunger till dinner and speed your metabolism. I brew mine with boiling water, you can do a cold brew, but it’s weaker, for about 5 minutes, I add the sugar or honey and sometimes none at all, add almond milk, and enjoy hot or fridge it for a bit…I don’t like to add ice because it dilutes it but you can ice it if you like. This is seriously one of my favorite things and is totally accessible to everyone and I think a trained chimp could make it! Anything I can do to keep people away from Starbucks!! HAHA!
Asparagus season is full bloom! Aside from all the nutritional value, asparagus is beautiful and the perfect way to celebrate the blooming of spring and end of winter (I’m over it). My go to way to serve asparagus is to just use a lil olive oil, salt, pep, and roast them, sometimes, though you may just want to make something a little more special without a bunch of time consuming prep work…here in Portland, when the sun shines you get out in it as much as you can! Well yesterday was “meatless” Monday so totally inspired by a flat bread that I had at New Seasons market, I decided to make my own version. I usually don’t drive during the week so I walked down to the Wholefoods and picked up some ingredients. I love the fresh made whole wheat pizza crust at Wholefoods, it has five ingredients, and it’s delicious and a bargain at $3! Honestly, it’s made in house and knowing that it’s made with good ingredients makes it a great short cut and saves me a load of mess and time, some pizza joints will sell you dough, or of course you can make your own…but avoid anything that pops in tube….full o’ nasties. I got some asparagus from Cali at the grocery outlet for 99cents on Sunday (that place is a goldmine!) and I had some Spanish Marcona almonds, pecorino, olive oil, and red pepper flakes at home.
Preheat oven to 450.
Roll out your dough into a rectangle, or the shape you like, you can even make individual flatbread if you so choose. Brush the dough with some olive oil, add asparagus (raw), almonds (press them into the dough), sprinkle with pecorino or parm (I like the tang and saltiness of the sheep milk pecorino, it’s a romano cheese and I think you can use a lot less and get a lot more flavor, add fresh ground pepper and throw it in the oven for about 15 minutes or until golden. When it done use some citrus zest to add a punch of freshness! Seriously who knew almonds and asparagus were so delicious together? Easily made vegan friendly without the cheese and still delicious! It will look like you slaved away in the kitchen, does anyone remember that rice crispy treat commercial from the nineties, where the mom put a bunch of flour on her face so it looked like she had been slaving over the no bake treat? Kinda like that but way better! Enjoy!
Let me begin today with why I like Costco, as far as corporations go, they ain’t bad. Costco pays a living wage to employees, provide health insurance, they work with local distributors, you can get certain products for quarters on the dollar, carries loads of organic products, Wal-mart could learn a thing or two from them, that is for sure. So about once a month or so I make the trek to Costco, it’s a total hassle…but occasionally I drink a few espressos and get ready to fight the crowds to hunt bargains. Well I got this 20lbs bag of Washington #1 Russets for $6, which is a heck of deal! Problem is, I’ve been trying to use them all up before they go to tater heaven (aka: become rotten and smell of decomp). So with that intro…let me introduce today’s recipe…..drum roll please TATER SALAD! Not that mayo extravaganza that you can play “guess that mess” with….meaning you never know what is in that stuff. I’ve mentioned in other post my dislike of mayo in general….spoilage…etc. This recipe I am sharing today is one of all time fav’s , as a kid I loved it! My Dad even made like 35lbs of it for my wedding reception! This is my version, I demo’d it on a televised fundraiser for public T.V. back in Utah, I was after Tony Caputo, he made gnocchi…tough act to follow but I think I held my own, even got an article in the paper! Sad part was the recipe was wrong…..instead of two teaspoons of garlic salt….it said two tablespoons, so really whoever made it from that recipe, probably didn’t enjoy it. HAHA! There are limitless variations of potato salad and this is mine…depending on what is available, you can use different potatoes, onions, fresh garlic or garlic salt, and use fresh herbs or dried, depending on the season. This is the salad in it most accessible and easiest version. Vegan and gluten free before it was trending, this salad should be one every home -cook has in their arsenal.
• 5lbs of potatoes of choice (I’m using russets, but I’ve also use a mix of Yukons, reds, and even blue potatoes when I can find them.)
• ½ red onion, small dice
• 1 cup celery, small dice
• 3 tbsp flat leaf parsley, chopped
• 1 tbsp fresh dill or 1 teas dried dill
• 2 cloves fresh garlic pulverized or you can use garlic salt 1 to 2 teas depending on how much salt your potatoes suck up, if you using garlic salt don’t add extra salt
• Juice of 1 lemon if it’s a juicy bugger….more if he ain’t got the flow
• ½ cup Olive oil (preferably Greek, but any extra virgin will work)
• Salt and pepper to taste (note no extra salt if using garlic salt)
Boil your potatoes with skin on till they can be easily pierced by a fork. Cool. Once cooled, peel, medium dice potatoes and place in a large bowl. Add the rest of ingredients and stir. Garnish with some lemon zest. Make it the day before and its extra tasty! Can be served at room temp and won’t spoil at your summer BBQ. Try this variation, I think you will like the bright, fresh, flavors!
My folks had a restaurant growing up and a large part of my youth was spent prepping food with my family and our employees (friends). I could make Greek lemon rice before I was able to write in cursive. So “pilafi” is something I can make blind folded with one hand tied behind my back, it also just happens to be fast and delicious, definitely my go to side dish. Pilafi is fast, affordable, and a total crowd pleaser. The “meatballs” I made are a new recipe I decided to try because I had a few things I needed to use up and they are about 50/50 meat and veg. This is what I had to work with: pita chips (crushed to replace bread crumbs), feta, 1lb Italian chicken sausage, sundried tomatoes, kalamata olives, 1 can cannellini beans, frozen chopped broccoli rabe. I’m gonna be honest with you….the mix looked not so sexy….and honestly they aren’t beautiful…although I’ve never met a gorgeous meatball…I am a bit of presentation perfectionist, I was honestly not sure I even wanted to post the recipe because frankly they are homely….but sometimes it what’s inside that counts and these were filling and delicious.
• Preheated 375 degree oven, baking sheet
• 1lb ground meat (I used hot Italian chicken sausage)
• 2 eggs
• ¾ cup crushed pita chips
• 1 can cannellini beans, drained
• 2 tbsp tomato sauce
• ¼ cup chopped Kalamata olives
• ¼ cup crumbled feta
• 1 cup frozen chopped broccoli rabe (you can sub spinach)
• ¼ cup diced red onion
• ¼ chopped sundried tomato (not in oil)
• Chopped flat leaf parsley for garnish
• I used sausage which is pre-seasoned and the olive and cheese added plenty of salt so I wouldn’t recommend adding any additional seasoning…seriously.
Mix up all the ingredients till it look basically like carnage…haha….and form in golf ball sized meatballs. Put in oven cook 30 minutes or until brown.
While they bake make your rice:
• 1 cup long grain rice, rinsed
• 1 ¾ cup chicken broth, I used salted, if you use unsalted you will need to add salt.
• Juice of one lemon
• ¼ cup chopped onion
• 1 tsp butter
• 1 T olive oil
In a medium sauce pan over medium high heat, sauté onions in oil and butter till translucent. Turn heat to high, add chicken broth, when it’s at a boil, add rice and reduce heat to medium low, simmer 15 minutes, add lemon juice and turn off heat. Fluff with a fork before serving.
What an incredible journey the last few years have been! Up down, round and back again, I’ve learned a lot about myself and what I am really capable of in this time period. Ain’t gonna lie…it’s been tough, I’ve struggled, I’ve felt lonely, I’ve felt isolated. Living in the same place for 30 years ensures that you probably have a great network of people around you, I did, I abandoned that comfort to follow my husband’s tech dreams here in the “Silicon Forest”. I was ready, I wanted to try to see what the world had to offer outside of my O-town. I had backpacked through Europe for 45 days, I could move outta state right? I figured that all the people in Portland, OR, were liberal, friendly, hippies, with the same world views as me and that moving here would put me in a community of people who would love and embrace me instantly! Growing up, I was made fun of, left out, and was the “Weirdo”. I wanted out of the “Zion curtain”….and figured that Portland was Berkley in the 60’s. Boy was I wrong! I felt like I got hit by a Mack truck, I was disoriented, confused, had a headache from all this new oxygen, confused by all the options I had. I lived in a brand new home with all the amenities and moved to a house that was 100 years old without A/C and only 1 bathroom! I was spoiled, spoiled with family, spoiled with friends, spoiled with familiarity. The people here didn’t all say “Hi” when I walked by…in fact they didn’t even notice me! It was tougher on Ava, my daughter….and I think any parent can understand the pain felt when watching their child struggle. For some strange reason…to cope, I started to watch youtube how to’s about dying your hair neon colors, it was gray outside, I wanted some color, so if i was going to be invisible to people, I figured I would at least brighten up the landscape.
My friends and fam thought I had lost my mind….and maybe in retrospect I had, but I needed to…they say when a woman drastically changes her hair she is on the fringe! As time has gone on…I’ve realized that life is a series of trade offs….I do love Portland, but perhaps I will never have the network I had in my hometown, or have family to rely on in driving distance, I get to drink the best coffee and beer in the country, but can’t go there with my mom and sister on the daily. I don’t see the sun as often as I used to…and now I don’t really notice. I’ve learned that there are assholes everywhere, that people in mini vans all drive like maniacs, I’ve had strange opportunities come up, I’ve experienced the super highs of “almost” getting to achieve my dream just to have it escape me the next day…I’ve interviewed at Voodoo doughnuts…I ate some voodoo doughnuts. I get to pick my daughter up at school next to 45 year old skateboarding Dad doing his best impression of Tony Hawk. I’ve made a few new friends and learned to not let other people affect how I feel about myself. I’ve learned what it really means to be a “Stay at Home” mom….I’ve done karaoke like a “Glee” cast member, then vomited on myself. It’s been a fucking painful, pleasurable, ironic journey….and I can’t wait to see what’s next…Ben Folds sings “My redneck past is nipping at my heels”…I never really understood that till now. The city is my muse, in all it’s industrial beauty! I feel more motivated to express myself then ever! I can walk and get basically anywhere, eat the best food….from a cart!I get a new perspective on the world, and I really have more drive then ever to succeed at whatever I damn well feel at the moment! I do hate hair bleach though…so I guess the “neon” was a phase! I’m currently back in black and don’t plan on going back to the blondeside ever again. Ava is thriving…reading, writing, loving school and her new friends! Ari can walk, do a lil’ talking and jumped in the water at cannon beach…life is a beautiful journey and I’ve took the road that I was supposed to…now if only I can talk Jarom out of wanting to find a job in Bejing! Cheers….live in the moment, choose to be happy, we humans are amazingly adaptable creatures.
With summer just around the corner, I want to post some recipes that won’t interfere with our quest to look in swimming suits…of course they have to be delicious too! So here is my latest obsession. If there is one thing I have always hated it is store bought mayo. I don’t understand the appeal, it tastes like bland goo, it fattening, and it spoils at room temperature. Unless I am making my own fresh with olive oil I don’t use mayonnaise at all. So in lieu of mayo I usually always use a vinaigrette, but sometimes folks will complain that they miss the “creaminess” that mayo adds. The thing I’ve been obsessed with is tahini, it is often used in hummus, but lately I have been experimenting with it in other applications. Tahini is a paste made of sesame seeds it is strong, nutty, and rich, almost like peanut butter, but is more easily blended with other flavors. It’s vegan and won’t spoil if you are serving it at room temperature. By itself tahini can be way too heavy and rich, but I was inspired by the Tahini garlic dressing at Whole foods and I bought a bottle….but at $3.99 for 8oz I wanted to find a way to make my own. Whole foods uses liquid aminos in theirs and nutritional yeast. I didn’t have either on hand so I subbed in soy sauce and used some siracha to spice it up. This recipe makes a ton and it is good in the fridge for a week or longer. I make my dressing in a big mason jar and use a hand held blender. Super easy, you can of course use blender.
1/2 cup Tahini
1 cup water
2 cloves garlic more or less to suit your taste
2 tbsp vinegar, cider is good, I had red wine and it worked great
3 tbsp soy
2 scallions chopped
Juice of one lime
1 tbsp sciracha
blend together until smooth, that is it! WARNING: This stuff is super addictive!
To make the slaw, I got a bag of slaw mix at the store and grated 1 cup of jicama mixed in 1/3 cup of the dressing. I added sesame seeds, cashews, cilantro, and some scallions. As delicious as this recipe is, it also just happens to be vegan, and depending on the soy you use can easily be gluten free! Try this recipe at your next pot luck! Summer is just around the corner and I hope you try this slaw in place of the usual mayo based variety!
Have you ever ordered Pad Thai and ended up with a clumpy, soggy, orange mess? I have. This isn’t always the case but I have tried many a bad pad if you know what i’m sayin. There is the most amazing Thai cart downtown and they make great food on the cheap, we are talking $5 for fresh made, authentic food. I can’t always make it down there so I have started experimenting with my own version. Using and utilizing what is best of the season and using a stir fry technique it all comes together fast and with a little practice quite easily. Get familiar with your local Asian market, talk to the shop keep, get to know the products, research and then you can make a fast and easy meal for you and your family that is restaurant quality, without the extra salt, and expense
In a medium hot wok, add a few tablespoons canola or peanut oil, add fresh rice sticks and stir fry till golden add a few tablespoons of the sauce or to your preference, stir it around and add just enough water to make noodles tender. Add 1/2 cup of green onions, I also added one green garlic since it is in season and I am a big fan. Remove noodles and put onto serving plate, in the wok add shrimp and cook till pink and firm (not to long or they will be bubble gum), you can also heat your tofu at this time. Add those to the noodles, sprinkle with mung bean sprouts, and peanuts (I used cashews, cuz i’m makin it mine), cilantro, and a squeeze or three of lime. Like it spicy? Sciracha will be your ticket to heat! Here again this is just a guideline you can add what you like to meet your diet needs or preferences. You can freeze the rice sticks and keep the sauce in the fridge and keep some things on hand and make this fast,fresh and easy!
Well I am venturing into the unknown for me, VEGAN! I do cook some vegetarian dishes on meatless Mondays, but by most accounts I don’t cook vegan. Lately, I’ve been researching dairy and have cut most of it out of my diet (I am struggling with cheese and yogurt!) and I have noticed I feel better since avoiding milk, and Ice Cream, and going for non dairy options. The first story I remember hearing as a kid (and basically bi-monthly my entire life) was how as a baby I had a milk allergy, and my mom couldn’t feed me formula(she thinks nursing is for the clinically insane, she is a rather busty gal and found it impossible) or soy so I had to be on raw goats milk….she said I screamed for three months straight until she found the goat’s milk and honestly I found other things to scream about since then…haha, I do think that the American diet is too rich in dairy food, and that exploring non-animal calcium sources(almond milk is amazingly high in calcium) is something we all should do not only for health reasons but sustainibility, not meaning you stop dairy all together, but just reduce the amount.
10 cups veg stock or water or both or add some tomato juice, basically 10 cups of liquid that is tasty
1 cup pearl barley
1 oz dried porcini mushrooms, you will notice I use these often to get a rich “meaty” taste
1 cup red lentils
1 large or two small potatoes I have russets I need to use up so that is what I’m using, they break up more in the soup so if you prefer you can use a waxier potato like yukon gold.
1 stalk celery, diced
1 small onion, diced
3 small roma tomatoes peeled and diced
1 Tbsp or to taste good salt free curry powder
1 jalepeno diced (I took out the ribs and seeds in mine, I have lil ones to feed)
a few sprig dried thyme, some flat leaf parsley and some thai basil, these are added at the end…mix and match what you have on hand.
2 Tablespoons soy
1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
In a dutch oven or other heavy bottomed pot cover your dried barley with water and add dried porcini bring to a boil and set aside. Prep all your veggies, add the lentils to the barley and cover with water, bring to a boil again then reduce to low and add stock, veggies, curry, and thyme. Simmer till lentils are nearly dissolved, add soy and vinegar. I finish mine with a drizzle of good olive oil, cracked pepper and crusty bread. Seriously delicious!
My family history includes a lot of souvlaki, one of my first memories is sitting on the prep table at my parents restaurant/lounge in Ogden, UT watching my Mom season huge tubs of cubed pork or turkey. My mom isn’t actually Greek, she married one, so her recipe was perhaps a bit unorthodox for most traditional recipes. My Mom never made souvlaki with beef, she made it with elk, deer, what have you for all our Utah hunter bar patrons who would bring in their recent kill and have my Mom fix it in her special way. When I told my Mom that I was going to enter the 2008 beef cook off with a souvlaki recipe, she thought I was nuts…but in true competitive spirit I did anyway…and you know what? I won…a $300 prize, my largest prize to date.
This recipe is really easy and I noticed today at Costco I found prime yes “PRIME” grade cap sirloin, which whenever they have it is my favorite thing! $7.99 a pound this sirloin is a bargain, keep in mind it usually requires a bit of trimming and they are usually not a consistent size…which is perfect cuz I will be cubing it! So let’s get this party starrted shall we?
2 lbs cubed sirloin
1/4 cup good quality soy sauce
juice of one lemon or lime…I had a lime
a few drizzles olive oil
2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon each sea salt, black pepper, granulated garlic (use two fresh cloves if you prefer)
2 Tablespoons flat leaf parsley
Mix in with the meat and marinate overnight or at least 30 minutes and skewer on bamboo skewers. I broiled mine in the oven for about five minutes, it was perfectly mid rare….you should never eat a prime cut more cooked then that…or don’t bother have a hamburger. HAHA! But seriously this is a very easy and delicious recipe, you can use this marinade on other meat as well, and I served my souvlaki with cous cous (seriously the easiest and tastiest starch out there) and some roasted asparagus since it is peak of asparagus season. If you use good ingredients you don’t need to be too fussy, just be straight forward and use good technique. Yassou!