Sunday, August 4, 2013

I've got a new website...

Hey Everyone. I've got a new website! Check it out. I'll be posting all my new content over there from now on.


Monday, July 22, 2013

Guest Post - Sunday's with Charlotte

Today my go-to-food friend Charlotte wrote a post for the blog! She explains why and gives you a peek into her Sundays and the treats she decided to make. Why she didn't share any of the actual food with me is another story... 

Hope you guys enjoy! Charlotte will be back every now and again. 
- B  

Do you ever think… "Hey I should start writing a blog!" 
then immediately think, " No that is a terrible idea and you should do that never."

Well, I have about a zillion times. And in all truthfulness, 90% of the time I just forget that I want to do it. The other 13% is the terrible idea thought. Soon this will become a reality. If Julie (of the Julie/Julia Project) and Jenny (indomitable blogger, can do it, fuck it, so can I! My life is way too weird to only be shared with the blessed few who know me. 

So I'm Charlotte. I'm a friend and fellow insane foodie to my man, Brittany. Insane in personality and about food, in case you were wondering. I love literally almost all food, except boxed mac & cheese and liver. I keep trying but no cigar. Oh well. So today is Sunday and I use Sunday as my relax-and-get-your-shit-together day. All my slow cooking and bulk cooking is done on Sunday. I tend to putter (the best word for it) around the house and clean dishes, cook in the Crock Pot, laundry, take the pup on long walks, make dirty dishes, and generally wander around.  

TODAY I'm awesome because I was inspired by the magnificent, mind-blowing Mark Bittman and his TEDtalk about being a vegetarian and food sustainability in America. I've loved him since I started reading the NY Times Dining section. He has this passion about food that makes you what to go out and change the world with an extraordinary baguette. I also was feeling inspired (read: overwhelmed) by the amount of stuff in my fridge. My significant other/partner forever/pain-in-my-ass Cory and I went major grocery shopping last week because we were a bit on the broke-face side for the last month or two. Nothing does wonders for your grocery shopping drive than HAVING to eat Cup-o-Noodle. 

Today I have made: Cauliflower Buffalo Wings and Greek Yogurt Ranch Dip, Asian Vegetable Pancake with a Fried Egg, Roasted Rutabagas and Sweet Potatoes. I have NOT made: kale chips even though I've been planning/needing to do it with my bushels of kale. I feel super put together and have done a ton of crap, however as I write it it sounds less impressive. But instead, I made bacon! Sorry, Mark Bittman. I tried to be veggie today but the bacon wins again. I'm such a disappointment. On the the other hand I did use some kale in the roasted rutabaga and sweet potato taco. Soooo…. win/win. Enjoy!

Cauliflower Buffalo Wings
  • 1 head Cauliflower
  • 1 cup Milk
  • 3/4 cups Flour
  • 2 teaspoons Garlic Powder (or whatever seasoning you like)
  • pinch of salt & pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon Butter
  • 3/4 cup Frank's Red Hot Sauce
Super easy. Pull apart the cauliflower in to florets. Mix the milk, flour, and seasoning and throw all the cauliflower into the batter. Pull each floret out and shake off the excess batter and place it on a lightly greased cookie sheet. stick in a 400 degree oven for 20-25 minutes. until cauliflower is done. It won't be golden brown. in a large bowl heat up the butter and Frank's Red Hot then throw the cauliflower in. and toss to coat. If you like, here is my inspiration and step by step pictures at  

Greek Yogurt Ranch Dip
  • 1 1/2 small containers of plain greek yogurt
  • 1 package dried ranch spices
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried dill
Mix everything and chill for an hour. (Super hard.)

Asian Vegetable Pancake with a Fried Egg
  • leftover batter from Cauliflower Wings (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 cup shredded cabbage
  • little bits of cauliflower and broccoli that fall off (about 1/2 cup)
  • Sriracha to taste
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 green onion, cut on the bias

 Mix all ingredients except the eggs. Lightly grease a non stick skillet and pour in batter. Flip over when the bubbles on the top, just like a regular pancake. Put it on a plate and re-grease the skillet. Fry both eggs on the same pan(yay less dishes!) then put on top of the pancake. Top with more chopped scallions and Sriiracha. (Sorry there's no pic. I was hungry.)

Roasted Rutabagas and Sweet Potatoes
  • 1 cubed rutabaga
  • 1 cubed sweet potato
  • 1/2 bag of baby carrots
  • 1/2 onion, quartered
  • 4 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt & pepper
  • 1 teaspoon seasoning mix (if it has salt in it take out the salt above)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley 

You can add or substitute any root vegetables you like (potatoes, beets, etc)
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, mix all ingredients.. Pour into a 13x9 pyrex and cover with foil. Put in the oven for 45 mins to an hour, until the vegetables are tender. Uncover and put under the broiler for 2-3 minutes tip tops are crispy.  Top with parsley.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Crisp n' Spice

I've actually never bought and prepared any type of melon before but I couldn't pass up the opportunity when I saw cantaloupes for 97 cents at my local grocery store. I stood a bit clueless in front of the mounds of melons, trying to remember how to check for ripeness. I felt around, chose one and smelled it after recalling how the smell test is used to check the ripeness of pineapples. I figured I was on the right track. 
According to Albert's Organics, I only had one of the five indicators of ripeness:
  1. Stem
  2. Netting
  3. Color
  4. Touch 
  5. Smell

Once I got home and tried to be productive - my foodie brain and starving tummy took over and I started coming up with ways I could use the cantaloupe. Aguas Frescas, smoothies, salads…. 
Then all of a sudden inspiration hit: Pam's Patio mojito salad. In high school and during my time home from college for the summer I used to work at this small yet delightful mom and pop restaurant in San Antonio called Pam's Patio Kitchen. It's one of those places full of color, art and delicious food with constant regulars dining every weekend. During the summer the head chef and restaurant owner would create a mojito salad with jicama, cantaloupe, pepitas, mint paprika and a sweet lime dressing. Essentially the perfect salad for summer.  

Reflecting on all the delicious food and memories I have from Pam's, I decided to make my own version of the delicious salad.
Crisp n' Spice Cantaloupe Salad 
1/2 Cantaloupe 
1 frozen lemon cube (melted)
Fresh grated ginger (to taste - I put lots)
1/2 tsp of chili powder
Pinch of salt
Handful of pepitas 

I cut up my melon into quarters and then cubes, the cantaloupe turned out to be a little less ripe than I wanted (the 4 indicators I was unaware of are to blame). After chopping the melon I placed it on a bed of of julienned baby kale and topped it with the dressing (lemon juice, ginger, chili powder combined). Finally I sprinkled on a healthy portion of pepitas to seal the deal. The salad was crisp and cool and had a tiny bit of spice from the chili powder. The fact that the cantaloupe wasn't completely ripe actually helped give the salad a little more crunch. It definitely wouldn't have the same appeal if it was slimy and gooey. 

There we go - my first experience with melons. Now what to do with the second half sitting in my fridge? 

Thanks to PPK for all the ridiculous memories. I've got so many stories from that place, although those involve a lot more spice than food. 

Monday, July 1, 2013

Beer n' BBQ Veggies

Today was one of those blah days. You know, when you are tired and nothing is really satisfying you. Whether it be the music your tuned into or your stomach growling but not giving any inclination of what it's craving. That was me today - perhaps the change in weather was the cause. I was completely ready to lie on the floor and play with my pup for the rest of the night.

However, after soaking and cooking dried chickpeas all day, I was forced to get up and start prepping some things. The plan was to make a chickpea, edamame salad with asian dressing. Only about a serving or two - enough to last my roommate and I till July 4th festivities. Once I started getting on a roll with prepping that dish my stomach started growling later and somehow my brain started kicking in. We had no plans for dinner so I decided I might as well make something happen. It's amazing how once one small idea pops into your head it can spiral out of control until you come up with something you didn't even intend.

With July 4th right around the corner, I was inspired to use some BBQ sauce. After chopping my veggies, everything started falling into place and I kept thinking of more and more ideas. I grabbed my ingredients, started chopping, mixing and pouring and ended up with a Beer n' BBQ hash. I threw a splash of beer in here, some kale in there and BAM. Deliciousness.

Beer n' BBQ Veggies for two
  • 1/2 red onion 
  • 1 Sweet Potato (cut very thing - like matchsticks)
  • 1 carrot chopped thin
  • 1 cup cooked chickpeas
  • 1/2 Alamo Golden Ale beer
  • 1/2 cup Stubb's BBQ sauce
  • 1/4 cup of kale
First sautee the onion in some olive oil on medium heat. Throw in the chopped sweet potato and carrots and cook for about 2 minutes. Add in the chickpeas, pour in the beer and turn up the heat to high. Bring the beer to a boil and let cook for 5 minutes or until the liquid absorbs and the sweet potatoes and carrots are tender. Add the BBQ sauce and continue cooking for another few minutes. Add the kale and stir till combined. 

Voila! The whole meal took probably 15 minutes with prepping and all. A great way to end a blah day. 

Chickpea Edamame Salad (no measurements)

  • chickpeas
  • edamame
  • sliced carrots
  • red onion
  • Soy sauce
  • Rice wine vinegar
  • miso paste dissolved in water

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Conquering Risotto

I finally made risotto! This has been on my list from the very beginning. The rice-based dish is infamous forbeing intimidating, complex and time consuming. Here’s a secret. It reallyisn’t as bad as what you hear from all the rumors. Yes, it takes time andattention to detail but it’s a very relaxing process and actually quite easy tomake. I think the trick is to only be focused on making the risotto and nothingelse. My cousin and his wife and his wife’s sister invited me over to cook andeat and while my cousin grilled some salmon, I focused on the risotto.Intimidated? At first, yes quite a bit. It is definitely a recipe I made sureto measure correctly and be precise. It’s shocking how much butter you have touse, but not surprising how delicious it makes everything tastes, especiallythe abundance of mushrooms. My cousin’s wife sister made a delicious corn,tomato and feta salad, which I definitely plan to make again.

Nights like theseare truly enjoyable, just a group of people gathered around food and wine and I try to have them as much as possible.  Last week my roommate and I hosted a housewarming party and asfar as I have heard, it was a hit. Everything (besides the chips) was homemadeincluding queso, hummus, a five-layer dip and my homemade chocolate peanutbutter cups. I’m lucky to have a great group of friends and family whoappreciate food and community as much as I do.  

Here is the recipe for the risotto I made from Epicurious.I’ve got the itch to try making it again – most likely a weekend project.Although risotto isn’t the best dish for leftovers so maybe for one of thosedinner parties is in the works….

Speaking of leftovers, I attempted to create risotto cakes from the handful of risotto I brought home. Here's how:
  • Roll into balls and flatten into patties
  • Coat in flour
  • Heat vegetable oil in pan
  • Fry until golden brown and looking crispy
The risotto cakes, although tasty, were a little weird but I also don't think they were cooked long enough.

Back in September I wrote a post with a list of items I have been wanting to cook. Risotto was one of the items and I have to say... I definitely conquered this one and can scratch it off my list. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Chickpea Faux-Viche

Ceviche is a wonderful dish typically made with raw fish cooked by the acidity of lemon or lime juice. This time around I decided I would make something similar but use chick peas as my "meat." Several vegan ceviche recipes use tofu or tempeh but chickpeas work mighty fine. I feel like the lime juice really did soak into them and cook them like the acidity would do with the fish. I could be imagining it but regardless it turned out to be a super tasty, super easy chickpea dish that wasn't Greek or Indian flavored or hummus for that matter.

Chickpea faux-viche

Well - It tastes better than it looks. I promise
1 cup cooked chickpeas (I made a big batch of dried and used the leftovers)
1/2 cup red onion minced
1/2 cup lime juice
4 Campari tomatoes chopped
Minced pickled jalapeƱos to taste
Sprinkle of salt
Pepper (lots)

1 haas avocado

Mix all the ingredients together and let marinate overnight (I left mine in the fridge till lunch - so about 14 hrs) When ready to eat chop up the avocado and mix it in. Grab some chips and dig in! I prefer the blue corn.

I'd say the dish had the texture and the flavor of regular ceviche without the lingering fishy taste. Great for vegans or those who can't get deal with fish.

Here is a tip about cooking dried chickpeas from my non-weirdo foodie friend Lindsey. Cook the chickpeas I'm salt water to give them a little flavor. When I used unsalted to make some hummus she glared at me and told me it needed lots and lots of salt... Plus more salt. My apologies for being skimpy on the seasoning.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Chickpea & Spinach Wonton Cups

One of my life philosophies is always have some sort of boozey beverage while cooking. More than likely my choice is wine, but there are times when cravings for other types hit. I’ve honestly been trying to cutback on the booze consumption (I know ridiculous) but I really don’t like to cook or write without it. One without the other is like peanut butter without chocolate, it’s enjoyable but you know your missing something extra sweet to make it perfect.

I have temporarily deemed Wednesday as my cooking night. It just seems right for now, perhaps because I came up with a plan for what to cook last night and I had nothing else to do on this Wednesday night. I hadpretty much everything I needed to make the dish I thought of. A few ingredients that would add to the dish were really unnecessary and I reallydidn’t want to mess with going to the store. However, today I wanted a beer, I hadn’t even started cooking and a nice cold beer was calling my name. I had to have it. Ignoring the craving and distracting myself to avoid going to the store solely for beer wasn’t working so well. Luckily, I realized I didn’t have enough frozen spinach to make my dish, so off to the store I went – beer at the top of my list. Priorities right? On the way to the store I decided to makesome cookies that I had recently found the recipe for. No problem just needed a few additional ingredients. Keep in mind I hate going to the store without a plan – so I screwed that one up for myself from the get-go. When arriving backat home I realized I missed a few key ingredients for the cookies. Thankfully, my wonderful new roommate had everything I was missing! 

I cracked open a beer and began working on the idea that had been bouncing around in my head all day. 

Chickpea & Spinach Wonton Cups

12 wonton wrappers (or however many you want to make)
½ chopped yellow onion
1 clove garlic
3 slivers ginger - minced
½ cup dried chickpeas (you can of course use canned)
1 cup frozen chopped spinach (thawed)
½ cup diced tomatoes

Spices to taste*:
Garam Masala
Curry powder

*I’m trying to get better at providing accurate measurements but it’s hard because I really hate cooking by measuring everything. I can’texplain it – just one of those things.

Dried Chickpeas: To prepare the dried chickpeas soak them in water for 8 hours then drain them. Place them in a medium pot with water. Bringthe water to a boil and then let the chickpeas simmer on medium heat for about an hour. I soaked my chickpeas while at work, cooked them first and let them sit with the frozen (thawing) spinach while I prepped everything else.

Wontons: Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Get out some muffin tins and spray them with cooking oil (or some other oily/buttery product) to prevent sticking. Place one wonton wrapper in each muffin cup. Gently pressthem so that the bottom is pressed against the bottom and the other parts arerelatively standing up against the sides of the muffin cup. Pre-cook these inthe oven for 8 minutes until the ends are slightly brown. While these arecooking you can make the filling. Once cooked, remove and let cool.

Filling: Pour about ½ tablespoon of olive oil into a pan and toss in the chopped onion. Cook until fragrant and slightly translucent. Add garlic and cook for a few more minutes. Add the chickpeas, spinach and tomatoes. Add in the spices. I suppose the spices should have gone in with the garlic, but I was preoccupied so they went in after. Cook for a bit more and taste every now and then so you get the flavor you want. To finish it off squeeze half a lemon over the filling. A good trick when doing this is to turn the lemon half upside down in your hand (rind down, insides up) – this helps prevent seeds from getting into everything.

The wonton cups should still be sitting in the muffin tins. Fill the wonton cups with the filling and put in the oven for about 10 minuteslonger, or until the ends of the wontons look brown and crispy.

These turned out pretty good. They could have probably benefited from more of a saucy filling, or cheesy but oh well. They were fun and something I came up with on my own. Considering the fact I also was making cookies at the time, everything turned out pretty darn tasty. The 1stcooking Wednesday has been a success!

Lessons learned:
-       Makesure you have everything  you need(drinks included) before starting to cook
-        Think about the consistency of what youare making  - like I mentioned thefilling could have been thicker and more cohesive.
-       If you aren’t good at multi-tasking, don’t try to cook two completely differentthings at once.