Monday, January 31, 2011

Taco Seasoning

Two things....

1) My mom has got the family thinking "low sodium," or at least she's got me thinking that. I'm reading labels and looking for ways to cut sodium.

2) I've been wanting to make tacos with my "not meat" but not wanting to use packaged taco seasoning and its high sodium.

Enter this recipe from my All Recipes iPad app.

TACO SEASONING:

Ingredients:

6 t. chili powder
5 t. paprika
4 1/2 t. ground cumin
2 1/2 t. onion powder
2 1/2 t.  garlic powder
1 1/2 t. cornstarch
1/8 t. cayenne pepper

Directions:

In a jar with a tight fitting lid, combine chili powder, paprika, cumin, onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne pepper and cornstarch. Close lid securely, and shake well to mix contents.

Seven teaspoons is equivalent to 1 (1.25 ounce) package of taco seasoning. Add 7 teaspoons and 1/2 to 3/4 cup water to 1 pound meat/non-meat.

***I used this with "Gimme Lean" Sausage. [website]  It tasted like taco meat, delicious on salads and tacos.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Good Night To My Nieces

I started collecting the children's book series Good Night Our World for my nieces during my travels around the country.

It started with Good Night California. I found a copy of the board book in a little store in San Francisco in May 2009, about three months before my now 17-month-old niece was born. I remember debating between Good Night California and Good Night San Francisco, and went with California because I lived in Los Angeles at the time. When I got home, I mailed it to my then 3-year-old niece.

I didn't think again about the series again until I found a copy of Good Night Washington, DC at a museum in Washington last June. On my next visit home to Michigan, I delivered it to my girls.

When I was in New York City this past Christmas, I decided to check for a Good Night New York City. And sure enough! I found a copy at the independent Posman Books in Chelsea Market. It was part of my younger niece's Christmas present as she has become quite the bookworm. Reportedly, she reads the book over and over. My older niece said, "We should have Aunt Jackie over and give her a big hug and tell her she picked a good book for Ava." Aw, love them!

Now three books into the series, I've decided to check for a Good Night book in whatever local booksellers I come across in my travels. While in Portland a couple weeks ago, we stopped by a Powell's on Hawthorne. I headed over to the children's section and found Good Night Oregon. Perfect! I bought it, and when I got home, I mailed to my girls.

I have a couple years yet before my girls get too big for these little books so I decided I should check to see what other cities and states in the series might be added to the collection: http://www.goodnightourworld.com/. I see Tennessee, Charleston, Atlanta, Chicago and Arizona, and hopefully, Boston and Los Angeles, in our future at least.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Whoopie Pies with Mint Filling and Chocolate Ganache

I never thought about making whoopie pies until I saw this recipe in Bon Appetit. I made my first-ever batch with the mint flavoring but I have other super secret flavors in mind for the future.

My version









INGREDIENTS:

COOKIES
2 cups all purpose flour
5 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/8 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup nonhydrogenated solid vegetable shortening or unsalted butter (1 stick), room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup whole milk

MINT FILLING
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons nonhydrogenated solid vegetable shortening or unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups plus 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
1/4 cup egg whites (from about 2 large eggs)
3 to 4 drops green food coloring

CHOCOLATE GANACHE
3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips

SPECIAL EQUIPMENT
Pastry bag or resealable plastic bag
Medium-size star pastry tip

PREPARATION:

COOKIES
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 375°F. Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and baking soda into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat shortening, sugar, egg yolks, and vanilla in large bowl until well blended, about 2 minutes. Add flour mixture in 3 additions alternately with milk in 2 additions, beating
until blended after each addition.

Drop dough by very rounded tablespoonfuls onto prepared baking sheets, spacing 3 inches apart. Bake 1 sheet at a time until cookies are slightly puffed and spread but are still soft, 8 to 10 minutes. Cool on sheets 10 minutes. Carefully transfer cookies to racks and cool completely. Repeat with remaining cookie dough. DO AHEAD Cookies can be made 1 day ahead. Store airtight in single layer at room temperature.

MINT FILLING
Using electric mixer, beat shortening, peppermint extract, and vanilla in large metal bowl until blended. Add powdered sugar, egg whites, and pinch of salt; beat until light and fluffy. Add food coloring drop by drop for desired shade of green; beat until well blended. If mixture looks curdled, place bowl over low heat several seconds and beat until smooth. Repeat as necessary
until smooth.

GANACHE
Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Bring cream to simmer in heavy small saucepan. Remove from heat. Add chocolate; whisk until smooth. Cool until lukewarm but spreadable, about 15 minutes. Spoon 1 teaspoon ganache onto bottom (flat side) of half of cookies. Place cookies, ganache side up, on prepared baking sheet.

Spoon mint filling into pastry bag fitted with medium star tip (or spoon filling into resealable plastic bag, squeezing filling into 1 corner of bag, then cut off 1/4 inch of plastic bag corner to allow for piping). Starting at outer edge of bottom (flat side) of remaining cookies and working toward center, pipe mint filling in spiral. Place 1 mint-filled cookie, mint side down, atop each ganache-topped cookie, pressing slightly to adhere. DO AHEAD Can be made 2 hours ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.


Saturday, January 22, 2011

Walnut Wheat Bread

While in Portland, we had brunch at Broder. Delicious. Part of my meal included walnut toast. Delicious. So I decided to look up a walnut bread recipe to try. Found this one on my All Recipes app.

My version









Ingredients:

1 1/4 C. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 C. whole wheat flour
3/4 C. chopped walnuts
2 T. brown sugar
1 package active dry yeast
3/4 C. water
1/3 C. reduced-fat plain yogurt
2 T. margarine

Directions:

In a large mixing bowl, combine 3/4 C. all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, walnuts, brown sugar, yeast and salt. In a saucepan, heat water, yogurt and margarine; stir into flour mixture. Add enough of the remaining all-purpose flour to form a soft dough. Turn onto floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Cover and let rise in a warm place until divided, about 1 hour. Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; divide into thirds. Shape each portion into a 15-inch rope. Place the ropes on a greased baking sheet and braid; pinch ends to seal and tuck under. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes. Bake at 375 degrees for 23-28 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pan to cool on a wire rack.

    Friday, January 21, 2011

    Tempeh Curry with Sweet Potatoes and Green Beans

    I found this recipe on my Whole Foods Market iPad app. I used quinoa instead of the brown rice in the recipe. This dish was better the second day. I give it a big thumbs up!

    My version






     





    Ingredients:

    1 C. long-grain brown rice
    2 C. water
    1 (8-oz) package tempeh
    1 1/2 C. low-sodium vegetable broth
    1 medium yellow onion, chopped
    2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
    1 T. freshly grated ginger
    1 T. ground curry powder
    2 t. ground cumin
    1 (13.5-oz) can light coconut milk
    1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
    1/2 lb. green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
    1/4 C. chopped cilantro, divided
    1/4 t. sea salt

    Directions:

    Bring rice and water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat to low, cover pot and simmer until liquid is completely absorbed and rice is just tender, about 40 minutes. Meanwhile, arrange steamer basket in a pot. Add enough water just to reach bottom of basket. Bring to a boil. Cut tempeh in half and place in the steamer basket. Reduce heat to medium low, cover and steam about 15 minutes or until tender. Remove tempeh and set aside until cool enough to handle. Cut tempeh into 1/2-inch cubes.

    Bring 1/2 cup broth to a simmer in a large deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic and ginger and cook 5 minutes or until onion is translucent and tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in curry and cumin and cook for 1 minute. Add coconut milk, potatoes, tempeh and remaining 1 cup broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low, cover and cook 10 minutes. Stir in green beans and return to a simmer, uncovered. Cook about 5 minutes longer or until potatoes and green beans are tender. Stir in 3 tablespoons cilantro and salt. To serve, spoon curry over rice and garnish with remaining 1 tablespoon cilantro.

    Portlandia, Visit #2

    My friend Leslie is a photographer. [website] A real good photographer. Though I might be biased. But I don't think so.

    Leslie had to travel to Portland, OR, to do a photo shoot with the founder of Imbibe magazine, Karen Foley. And I am Leslie's TOP lighting assistant and free to travel as I please, so I joined her. We worked a total of two hours on a Saturday afternoon. So the remainder of our time together from Thursday afternoon through Tuesday morning was spent eating, drinking and vintage shopping our way through Portland. I actually arrived a couple days earlier to spend time with my friends Shelby and Russ who we stayed with.

    Let me recap some of the great places we visited...with some of Leslie's photographs to illustrate...

    MONDAY, JAN. 10

    Bagdad Theater & Pub: [website]
    It was the BCS Championship Game between the Oregon Ducks and Auburn Tigers. I wasn't for either team but being in Oregon, I was caught up in Duck Fever for one night.

    Bagdad is one of the McMenamin's in Portland. Therefore, we had beer and the cajun tater tots. While seated around one of the pool tables as real estate was at a premium for the night.

    Going to a McMenamin's? Get the tater tots.

    TUESDAY, JAN. 11

    Tin Shed Garden Cafe: [website]
    Today's brunch was provided by Tin Shed. I loved the menu: customizable for vegans and vegetarians. I love eating in Portland. I needed protein so I went with the basic two eggs over easy. But they came with some delicious vegan sausage, biscuit and potato pancake.

    The setting is really casual. Get your own coffee. Delicious food.

    "Hood to Coast": [website]
    We went to the premiere of the documentary "Hood to Coast" at a local Regal. (Later in the week we got to a smaller local, non-franchise theater.)

    The movie was well-done and inspirational for runners, like my novice self that is training for the Country Music half-marathon. It tells the story of the famed relay run from Mt. Hood outside Portland to the Pacific Coast, following four different teams. Check it out if you can.

    WEDNESDAY, JAN. 12

    The Dragonfly Coffee House: [Yelp]
    Russ had a physical therapy appointment so Shelby and I visited The Dragonfly for our morning coffee and office time. Shelby swears by the honey & cardamom latte; I tried a sip and it was delicious. I normally only ever drink black coffee or an Americano but for some reason when I get to Portland, I have lattes, all the time. Maybe because baristas there know how to make them. So I tried the honey & almond latte; it was very good. And I needed a snack so I went with the gluten-free energy bar, which was an excellent choice.

    The Dragonfly has pretty good seating options and the staff was friendly.

    Piazza Italia: [website]
    We did Italian for lunch in the Pearl District. It appeared to be a popular lunch spot among the businessmen crowd in the neighborhood. Fancy table settings with random decor. The vegetarian options were a bit limited as Italians like to add proscuitto and such to their pasta. I tried the penne with pesto and it was just OK.

    Cool Moon Ice Cream: [website]
    We decided we needed a sweet dessert after our lunch. At the end of the same block as Piazza was Cool Moon. They have handmade ice cream which include some unique flavors. I had the Kulfi flavor, which was pistachios and cardamom. Real good.

    THURSDAY, JAN. 13

    Pine State Biscuits: [website]
    Leslie arrived! And with her a list of new food and drink and vintage shops. She consulted a "Best Of Portland" list before flying out and we knew we needed to try much of what was on that list.

    We started with Pine State Biscuits. Leslie had seen the chicken biscuit on the website, walked right up to the counter and ordered it. She said it was a good as she imagined it to be.

    The Regina at Pine State Biscuits
    I went with The Regina, egg over easy with braised greens doused with Texas Pete Hot Sauce (pictured). An egg with hot sauce? Yes, please.

    And they serve Stumptown coffee. There's limited seating so once you're finished eating, clear your plates and give someone else the chance to enjoy.

    Pok Pok: [website]
    This was a return visit for me. Shelby and I went to Pok Pok on my visit last March. But it was on Leslie's list and we loved it so much, we knew she had to go. We were anticipating a wait, which would mean a visit across to Whiskey Soda Lounge (we were OK with that). But there was no wait.

    I had the Papaya Pok Pok, vegetarian style. A signature dish. It was hot! I like spicy but this about knocked me out. I couldn't even finish it. If I had a glass of milk or two, I could have eaten the whole dish. I also had the Salted Plum Vodka Collins. It was good but salty; consider yourself warned.

    Noble Rot Wine Bar: [website]
    Rather than do dessert at Pok Pok, we paid a visit to Noble Rot, which offered a nice view of downtown Portland.

    We had to wait for a few minutes for a table but as we did so, we sampled a red wine flight to see what we might like to have with dessert. All I remember about the three wines is that I didn't really like any of them and ended up ordering a glass of the Peter Lehmann Shiraz, which I was very pleased with. I also ordered the Persimmon Butter Cake with plum puree. So good!

    FRIDAY, JAN. 14

    Coffeehouse Northwest: [Yelp]
    Russ flew back into Portland around noon. As we drove to PDX to pick him up, we stopped at Coffeehouse Northwest (from Leslie's list) for a coffee. Again, I went with a latte and it did not disappoint.

    Grilled Cheese Grill: [website]
    The Grilled Cheese Grill is a food truck with a seating area in an old school bus. I think Leslie was looking more forward to this place than anything else on her list. And rightly so. Who doesn't love a grilled cheese, especially on a gray, chilly Portland day.

    Me & The Pops
    We had glanced over the menu for the iPad while killing time at the coffee house. In that moment I decided to have The Pops, havarti, tomato and honey mustard on Dave's Killer Cracked Wheat. I think I inhaled that sandwich; it was so good.

    Bamboo Sushi: [website]
    We attempted to go next door to Ken's Artisan Pizza but the wait time was 1.5 hours. Bamboo was only 45 minutes (felt like less). Another return visit for me. I remember having the best vegetarian sushi rolls ever here - and I had them again. The Green Machine and 180 rolls, along with the Pickled Plum, did not disappoint. I also tried the local Deschutes Green Lake Organic Ale, delicious.

    SATURDAY, JAN. 15

    Broder: [website]
    Not on Leslie's list, but on our list, we had brunch at Broder. There was a wait but the nice deal (especially with the morning rain) is that they have a waiting area next door. You sign in and they have coffee available.

    Once seated, I skipped the latte (had one last time and it was good!) and went with a cafe au lait. I went with two baked eggs and potato pancake. It comes with walnut toast which is so delicious; I need to find a recipe to make at home. Shelby also order the Danish pancakes (pictured above right); they look like donut holes. With lemon curd and lingonberry jam. Amazingly delicious. All of it.

    Rock 'n Rose Vintage + New Clothing: [website]
    I found a cute dress which I debated over. (I ended up going back and buying it.)

    Rogue Ales Public House: [website]
    We ate dinner at home before taking Leslie on a small tour of local breweries, starting with Rogue. I went with the Dead Guy Ale (pictured left). And with my Rogue Nation citizen card got a discount. Who doesn't love a discount?

    Deschutes Brewery & Public House: [website]
    We walked down to Deschutes, which was pretty slammed being a Saturday night and all. We found some real estate in the bar area and ordered sweet potato fries. Deschutes has good ones! Leslie and I split a sampler of six: Black Butte Porter, Green Lakes Organic Ale, Nitro Obsidian, Super Jubel, Headwaters Hefeweizen and Crown Point Brown. The best tasting was the Headwaters Hefeweizen, which is an unusual choice for me.

    SUNDAY, JAN. 16

    Barista: [website]
    This day might have been our best day in terms of food and drink. Barista was another coffee shop from Leslie's "Best Of" list. I changed it up today and went with the Americano and a blackberry danish; neither disappointed.

    Cine Magic: [Yelp]
    It was a rather rainy day so we decided to catch a movie. I had been attempting to see "Black Swan" for weeks and convinced Shelby and Leslie to see it. We found a good matinee time at the local Cine Magic on Hawthorne, the kind of theater where they show one movie at a time.

    Movie review: Natalie Portman did an amazing. The movie itself was dark and disturbing with more blood than I anticipated. It was good but hard to watch.

    Potato Champion: [website]
    Since we were in the neighborhood and had time to kill before Ken's opened (we were determined not to wait this time), we visited the Potato Champion food truck. It was on Leslie's list but we had also been on my previous visit so it didn't take much convincing to go. We just split a small cone of fries with curry sauce for dipping. You can't go wrong there.

    Ken's Artisan Pizza: [website]
    After a visit to Lizard Lounge (vintage furniture, etc.), we made our way to Ken's so we could be there right when it opened. That made for an early dinner but we didn't want to risk another hour-plus wait. Leslie and Shelby split the margarita pizza. I ordered the olive pizza, with rosemary, mozzarella and black olives. It's good pizza! I didn't go as ga-ga over it as Shelby and Leslie but it was good. And the pizzas are large enough to split between two people. I had enough to take home for later enjoyment.

    Clyde Common: [website]
    Karen Foley of Imbibe gave us a few suggestions of places to try in the city for drinks. Clyde Common was one. It's in the Ace Hotel downtown. Jeffrey (the bar manager) was our mixologist for the night; he took good care of us. Even reviews on Yelp praised him.

    I had to write down what he mixed together for me so that I could maybe order them elsewhere in the future. Drink One was gin, dry sherry, ginger beer and lime. This was a new drink they were trying and it did not yet have a name; Jeffrey said it was based on a Barcelona Fizz. The second drink was rye whiskey, tea-infused benedictine, lemon and soda water (pictured left center). Not sure if it had a name, but it was good.

    MONDAY, JAN. 17

    Swirl Frozen Yogurt: [website]
    Our last day in Portland. Sad. We had a snack of frozen yogurt at Swirl on Hawthorne. I like these kind of places where you fill your own bowl with yogurt and toppings and pay by weight. I went with the Cable Car Chocolate (not sure what makes "cable car" different from the other chocolates) and the Pistachio. I made good choices, with some almonds, mini chocolate chips and hot fudge. Life is short; eat dessert first, then decide where to have dinner.

    Farm Cafe: [website]
    Another early dinner, since we were already out, we arrived at 5 when Farm opened. It was suggested by Shelby's brother Matthew that we try another place for dinner. But after we read the menu online, I had herb-crusted tofu on the brain. So we went. And I was very pleased with my choice. There were four pieces of herb-crusted tofu around a large portion of mashed potatoes and a scoop of mushroom marsala. All of the pieces to the dish worked so well together; I ate almost everything (there was no way I could finish all those mashed potatoes).

    Shelby ordered a glass of the David Hill Farmhouse Red. It was quite good. Leslie and I found it at the Made in Oregon wine/beer kiosk at PDX for $10/bottle. Now Shelby knows where to buy it when she flies home.

    Central: [Yelp]
    Karen also told us about Portland's speakeasy, Central. We have one in Nashville called The Patterson House. We found the address and hints about finding it via Yelp. Since we had an early dinner, we arrived early at Central. There were only two other women there when we arrived, probably because it was a Monday and a holiday.

    I had the Out & About. Too bad I can't remember what was in. But it was pretty good. I think the overall review would be: cool design, decent drinks but not quite like our Patterson House.

     *****
    Photography from Thursday, Jan. 13 to Monday, Jan. 17, courtesy of Leslie Ryann McKellar [website]

    Tuesday, January 4, 2011

    Hummus, Fennel and Olive Pocket

    I found this yummy recipe in a Real Simple. It's a light, fresh relish on pita with hummus. So good.

    Hummus, Fennel and Olive Pocket:

    1 pita, halved

    1/4 C. hummus

    Fennel relish:

    1/4 small fennel bulb, sliced
    1/4 red bell pepper, sliced
    2 T. parsley leaves
    2 T. sliced kalamata olives
    1 T. fresh lemon juice
    2 t. olive oil
    1 pinch each salt and pepper

    I actually used a full fennel bulb and red bell pepper and multiplied everything else by 4: 1/2 C. parsley leaves and olives, 1/4 C. lemon juice and 2 T. olive oil.

    Sunday, January 2, 2011

    NYC at Christmastime

    My favorite place in the world: NYC. Oh, how I love that city!

    One of my besties Leslie and I started a tradition to visit NYC for a weekend before Christmas. We always look forward to trying new places; though I anticipate that someday soon, we'll start visiting favorite hangs more often.

    Places we enjoyed this time around....

    John's of Bleecker Street: [website]

    I bought a Groupon to John's earlier in the Fall. Leslie loves pizza more than life so I thought it would be a good way to get NY pizza and save some money. We met up with some good friends from Atlanta (Linnea and Eric Miller!) who were also in the city that weekend. We split two medium pizzas: one with meat and one without (for me the vegetarian). The pizza was really good and they had quite a selection of toppings. It'd be worth a return visit though we have a list of other pizza places to try in the future, including Artichoke.

    Loreley Restaurant & Biergarten: [website]

    A friend of mine suggested visiting a biergarten in Williamsburg; we couldn't get a hold of him so we searched for a pub in Williamsburg and found Loreley. Turns out, it's not the one he was talking about. Lucky for us, it turned out to be good. I had the potato pancakes with applesauce and lingonberries, which were delicious. Good beer selection, too, as one would hope for a biergarten.

    'sNice:

    We headed down to Park Slope in Brooklyn for the Maker's Market that was open for the weekend. After browsing the market (which was smaller than we anticipated), we walked over to 5th Ave in Park Slope. With the help of Urbanspoon [review], we found 'sNice, a vegetarian restaurant and coffee shop.

    I had the tempeh reuben (with sauerkraut, vegan thousand island dressing & daiya cheese). I've really been into reuben sandwiches lately; something I never ate before being a vegetarian. This was one was really quite good. They had the option of swiss cheese on the sandwich, which I should have chosen. I don't mind daiya (vegan) cheese but it's not my favorite either. I think I would have loved the sandwich more with the swiss.

    We grabbed a coffee and cookie (I had a pecan sandie) on the way out; both very good.

    SushiSamba - NYC 7: [website]

    I planned a mini graduation celebration for myself at SushiSamba 7 in the West Village. Les and I were joined by our friend Dawn and my college friend Tom. I made reservations in advance and was glad I did. The place was abuzz.

    Leslie and I arrived early. Her mom had given us cash for a celebratory drink. We ordered the Green Bean Tempura to snack on (tasty!) and each had a cocktail.  I had the Nina Fresa: Svedka Vodka, muddled strawberries, orange liqueur, lime and guava. It was refreshing after all the day's walking.

    Once we were seated, Dawn ordered the Field Green Salad and Kobe Gyoza as appetizers. I had the salad but not that gyoza (not vegetarian). We shared a large order of sushi rolls including El Topo, Green Envy, BoBo Brazil and Yamato. We ordered the day's specials in sushi rolls as well. I focused on the El Topo roll (yes, I'm a vegetarian that allows herself sushi from time to time). The El Topo roll was amazing, my favorite specialty roll that I've ever had. It had salmon, jalapeƱo, shiso leaf, fresh melted mozzarella, crispy onion. So good! A must-have if you visit. The idea of melted cheese on your sushi roll, love it!

    For dessert, I had the Coco Duo: dark and white chocolate custard with praline. Amazing.

    Pret a Manger: [website]

    Our last day in the city included the Craftacular at the Metropolitan Pavilion. Beforehand, we grabbed some breakfast at the Pret near Union Square. A decent coffee and croissant before shopping.

    The Treats Truck: [website]

    I had one request for this trip: to find the Treats Truck in the city. It's been on my brain since seeing the Treats Truck in the Blackberry TV commercial. I followed them on Twitter so I could keep track of where the truck was in the city. Turns out, the truck was going to be outside the Craftacular. Perfect! So after we completed our shopping and headed to Chelsea Market before Les had to leave for the airport, I stopped by the Treats Truck and got a chocolate chip brownie with nuts. Delicious! And large enough that it lasted me quite some time. Worth stopping for! I will find the truck on my next visit to try something else; my sweet tooth demands it.

    ***
    Also, Leslie is an amazing photographer (maybe my favorite, though I'm biased). She had her camera with her and took some fun pics of our time in the city, etc. You might be able to see them here: [Facebook album]

    New Year's Resolution for 2011

    Last year I made a resolution to send more cards and notes and treats in the mail to family and friends. I quickly became addicted to buying fun cards and making homemade treats, etc. I feel like I did a good job keeping up with that resolution and just before the end of 2010, I actually finally got a little box to sort and keep all my cards in. I look forward to continuing that resolution into 2011.

    But new for 2011, I resolve to keep up with this blog on a regular basis. (I'm thinking that since I just finished all my work for my master's, I'll have the time and desire to actually do this.) And I want to make sure to document my travels and the places and eateries that I find, to share recipes that have made life more delicious and to pass on cute and/or humorous stories from the life of being an auntie or the resident of a redneck neighborhood.

    Welcome 2011! Let's do this.

    To be made soon: Hero's Welcome Stew

    This recipe came from a Huffington Post Meatless Monday entry: [Find the article here]

    Hero's Welcome Stew:

    Ingredients:
    2 T. olive oil
    1 pinch red pepper flakes
    1 onion, chopped fine
    1 clove garlic, chopped fine
    1 red pepper, chopped fine
    2 t. paprika
    1 T. baharat or garam masala
    1 bunch kale, chard, dandelion greens or other winter greens, shredded or chopped into bite-sized pieces
    1 C. quinoa, rinsed and drained
    2 C. water or vegetable broth
    1 15-oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
    1 handful fresh parsley, chopped
    1/2 cup feta, crumbled (optional)
    Sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

    Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large pot. Add red pepper flakes, chopped onion, garlic and red pepper and stir, cooking until vegetables soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in paprika and baharat or garam masala. Add greens. Stir gently until greens are coated with spiced oil. Rinse quinoa in a sieve, to wash away any saponins, a natural bitter coating. Add quinoa and broth or water. Bring mixture to boil, then cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 20 minutes, or until quinoa has absorbed the liquid and expanded. Gently stir to combine. Add drained chickpeas. Season with sea salt and pepper to taste. Gently add parsley and garnish with feta, if using. Covered and refrigerated, it keeps up to a week. Flavors deepen over time.

    To be made soon: Oreo Muffins

    Oreo Muffins

    Ingredients:

    1 3/4 C. all-purpose flour
    1/2 C. sugar
    1 T. baking powder
    1/2 t. salt
    3/4 C. milk
    1/3 C. sour cream
    1 egg
    1/4 C. margarine
    20 Oreo chocolate sandwich

    In medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt; set aside. In small bowl, combine milk, sour cream and egg; stir into flour mixture with margarine until just blended. Gently stir in cookies. Spoon batter in to 12 greased muffin cups. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Remove from pan; cool on wire rack.

    From Celebrate With Cake

    Spinach Quiche

    The idea of a quiche is brilliant. Make a crust, fill it with goodies, pour some egg over it, bake it and, voila! Breakfast or brunch is served.

    I found some quiche recipes and combined them to make this....

    Spinach Quiche:

    Crust:
    2 C. flour
    4 oz. butter/margarine, chopped
    2-3 T. water

    Mix by hand or in a food processor the flour and butter, adding water to make a dough. Form into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes. The dough will be crumbly. Place dough between pastry paper or plastic wrap and roll out with rolling pin to fit 8- or 9-inch tart pan. Bake in 350-degre oven for 15 minutes. Remove and add quiche ingredients.

    3 cloves garlic, chopped
    1 small onion, chopped
    8 ounces frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
    4.5 oz. can mushrooms, drained
    6 oz. feta, crumbled
    8 oz. shredded Cheddar cheese
    3 eggs, beaten
    3/4 C. milk
    salt and pepper to taste

    Preheat oven to 375. In skillet, saute garlic and onion in a couple tablespoons of oil until lightly browned. Stir in spinach, mushrooms, feta and 1/2 cup cheddar cheese. Season with salt and pepper and spoon into crust. Whisk together eggs and milk, season with salt and pepper and pour over spinach mixture, allowing it to thoroughly combine. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes then sprinkle remaining cheddar cheese on top and bake for additional 40 minutes until set in the center. Allow to stand for 10 minutes before serving.

    ***
    The best part about this recipe and the quiche in general is that you can fill the crust with any veggies (or meat if you must), add some cheese and cover it with eggs, and that's it.

    Saturday, January 1, 2011

    Red Velvet Pancakes

    Back to the blogging...

    For New Year's Day morning I made red velvet pancakes for my friends while we watched the Rose Bowl Parade.

    Found this recipe online and it turned out delicious:

    Red Velvet Pancakes:

    Dry ingredients:
    1 1/2 C. flour
    2 T. cocoa powder
    3 T. sugar
    1 1/2 t. baking powder
    1/2 t. baking soda
    1 t. cinnamon
    1 t. salt

    Wet ingredients:
    1 1/4 C. buttermilk***
    2 large eggs
    1 t. vanilla
    1 T. red food coloring
    2 oz. butter, melted

    Mix dry ingredients into large bowl; stir with whisk. Mix buttermilk, eggs, vanilla and food coloring; add to dry ingredients. Add melted butter, folding gently.

    Pour 1/4 cup batter on hot griddle - four minutes on first side; three on second side. Sprinkle with cocoa powder and powdered sugar, top with cream cheese topping.

    ***Need buttermilk? Add 1 T. vinegar to 1-cup measuring cup, top off with whole milk, and let stand for five minutes.

    Cream Cheese Topping:
    4 oz. cream cheese, softened
    1/4 C. butter, softened
    1 cup sifted confectioners' sugar
    1/2 t. vanilla extract