Megan Monday take 3: Easy Peasy Weeknight Dinner

Saturday, June 25, 2011

This post and is quick and simple.

Kind of like this meal.

What do you make when...
-It's 12.3 million degrees in your house and the outside feels like the middle of the sun's core?
-You're tired from dealing with screaming babies or snotty teenagers or rude co-workers or idiots who can't drive?
-Your hubby says "what's for dinner?" and you immediately want to answer with "Idk, what are you cooking?"

Chicken Caesar Salad, of course!

1. Grill up some chicken breasts (1-2) If you're organized, cook some of these up at the beginning of the week, and store them in the fridge- you'll have easy weeknight meals in a only a few minutes.
2. Throw some romaine lettuce in a bowl.
3. Make delicious croutons, or buy some bagged ones
4. Add sliced chicken and croutons to the lettuce
5. Throw 1/3 of dressing in thr bowl and mix well (add more if you don't liek to see your lettuce under all the tangy, delicious dressing)
6. If you're feeling Barefoot Contessa-ish, slice a lemon and grill the slices (2 minutes, each side)

7. Serve with hunks of bread dipped in olive oil and balsamic You might as well serve up a glass of white wine...why not?!

Megan Monday take 2: Side dish spotlight

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

I swear this isn't Groundhog day...I'm just sticking to my promise- a Megan Monday post all this week.

This recipe is a great side dish. When you're bored of salad and need a vegetable to spice up your side dish repertoire, make these. You can make this in the oven, but it really is the best on a grill.

I know it seems like I use balsamic vinegar a lot. Okay, okay, I do. But it has a ton of flavor; tangy and slightly sweet, plus it is like negative 97 calories. who doesn't love that?

Grilled Asparagus with Balsamic Vinegar
1 bunch asparagus
Large bowl of ice water
2 T olive oil
1 1/2 T balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Throw a big handful of salt in the water (This gives your food flavor from the inside out). Trim the ends off the asparagus and throw the green buddies in the water. Let boil about 3 minutes.
While it cooks, get a LARGE bowl of ICE water ready. When the asparagus is done, take them out of the hot water and put them in the ice bath. This is called BLANCHING. It keeps the vitamins and colors in your asparagus (you can do this to other green veggies- liek kale or green beans)
Heat up your outdoor grill.
Dry off the asparagus.
Pour olive oil and balsamic vinegar over the asparagus and toss with hands.
Grill until the asparagus gets those dark brown grill/char marks- turning every few minutes. This process takes about 7-10 minutes.
Place on a platter and sprinkle with sea salt and pepper.

Megan Monday: Wedding week

Monday, June 20, 2011

Megan's wedding is a week from Friday. I cannot believe that this time next week, I will be only hours away from visiting Utah and my dear friend.

In honor of the wedding, I am going to try to post a Megan Monday...ALL WEEK. I cannot promise that I will do one every day, but I will have at least a few, in honor of her upcoming nuptials.

Let's start a countdown with a delightful appetizer, shall we?

This bruschetta recipe is a no fail appetizer for you and the hubby, or a large group of friends. In addition, Megan, keep your eyes peeled for this delicious recipe- it will pop up in some other way in the near future...ahhh, the mystery.

You can easily adapt this recipe for a small or large number of people. Slice the bread and store it until you're ready to use, and make up the tomato mix a day ahead of time, if you wish- easy peasy.
Tomato and Basil Bruschetta
1 loaf crusty bread
6-7 roma tomatoes
10-12 basil leaves
3 cloves garlic
3 T olive oil
1-2T balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven or grill to 450.
Slice baguette and then cut slices into halves. If you're lucky, you can find a skinny baguette at the store- if you do, use that!
Drizzle bread with olive oil and place in oven or on grill. Cook until golden brown. You want the slices slightly soft in the center. This takes about 5-6 minutes.

Chop tomatoes and throw in a bowl. Roll basil and slice gently. (This is called chiffonade. If you need a tutorial on this, check here.) Mix with tomatoes. Add olive oil, 2 cloves of garlic and salt and pepper to taste.

When bread is cooked and cool enough to touch, rub each bread slice with a garlic clove. This makes the bread exceptionally good!
Arrange bread on a plate and place bowl in the middle. Let guests spoon tomato mix on the bread and enjoy...

Growing up

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Sometimes I feel like I will never be a real grown-up. I live with my parents, I will be in school until I die, I still get overly excited about things like birthdays; I ride a bike about as well as a 10 yr old, and my tastebuds just aren't that fancy. I've moved beyond cut up hot dogs and mac and cheese (I don't think I ever liked that culinary masterpiece) but I will never be fancy enough to like goat cheese, brandy or foie gras.
But, I guess I am growing up a little...
Last week Erin and I went to a tapas place in Roseville, called Source. I know! Can you believe there is a tapas place in Roseville?! I was beyond excited- that little girl, it's time to open Christmas stockings, excited- see? not a grown-up.
I felt very fancy as I drank my wine, ate prosciutto wrapped figs and especially when I paid a pretty penny for the deliciously tiny morsels we ate while talking about not that grown-up stuff.
If you would like to see what else we ate, head over to Erin's blog for another fancy taste. Here is just some of what we had.

Wine with olives

Crab tater tots- I almost died. Crab in a tater tot? God bless these people.

Fish sliders with sweet potato fries and olive aioli. I love that aioli makes anything sound more adult-ish. And sweet potato fries, if these make me an adult, I am set.

While tapas was a spendy evening. sometimes there is nothing better than casual conversation, good food, and a beautiful view. Dining with girlfriends is so different than dining with family, co-workers or a significant other If you haven't done it in awhile, call up a bff and make a date. You'll feel fancy fun and fulfilled- even if you just go to taco bell.

I scream, You scream...

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

you should scream, because June weather has finally arrived. No life long Cali girl anticipates or handles June rain without some sort of dramatic moments.
The first summer I stayed in Portland, my Pac Northwest friends constantly warned me, "June is weird here. It's not like Cali. Don't expect sun." I only half listened to what they said, assuming their rainy blood easily misunderstand the definition of summer.
June gloom got it's name in Portland. While July brings about lots of sunshine and even air conditioned worthy days, June does not, so for the past couple weeks, I've felt that I am living in Portland, sans the great coffee shops, 21st century hippies, NW 23rd street and Sauvie Island.
Alas, I am living in California again, which is reason to celebrate...
how about with some S'mores ice cream?
This is straight out of my new-ish Cuisine Art ice cream maker, so I won't post the recipe, but it was truly fab. I'm discovering just how worthy homemade ice cream is. I do not yet feel comfortable enough to experiment with my own recipes, but I will definitely beg, borrow and steal from others.

Any favorite ice creams? Requests for ones I should make and post here? Scream 'em out.

Hollandaise Sauce

Monday, June 6, 2011

My Megan Monday posts went by the wayside the past couped of weeks. Maybe it was my lazy attitude at the end of the semester or maybe I was harboring some internal fear of making hollandaise sauce, something I've never done.
When I posted all the delicious food I ate in Portland, I asked Megan to pick one item from the pics she would like me to recreate. She chose eggs benedict. I was super excited, as I had never made it, and rarely find good enough reasons to make recipes that call for egg yolks and butter. But hey, when I see opportunity, I jump on it like the Barefoot Contessa jumps on gay guys. Okay, she doesn't really jump on them, but seriously, she is friends with every gay guy in the Hamptons. They flock to her.

Today is just hollandaise sauce. Since I've never made Eggs Benny, and neither has Megan, I wanted to take this step by step. Next week, I will make poached eggs, and probably put the whole thing together after that.
This post is 100% unhealthy, but when I assemble the E.B., I will have a couple ways to make the whole meal a little better, well at least that's the justification you can give yourself when you're chowing down.

Hollandaise sauce has very few ingredients. Make sure they are quality because you'll be able to taste everything.

2 egg YOLKS, 1/4 t of lemon juice (or apple cider vinegar if you're the idiot who forgot to buy a lemon), cayenne/tabasco/or red pepper flakeds, a pinch of salt, good unsalted butter

This is a half size recipe. It will probably feed 2-3 servings of Eggs Benny.

Why did I put YOLKS in caps? Well, when I started making this I threw in 2 eggs. I whisked the heck out of them and realized, um, I'm pretty sure I'm not supposed to use the whites. Be a better person than I am.

Step 1: In a metal bowl, crack egg YOLKS in the bowl. (Put the egg whites in the fridge and save them for breakfast!)
Pictured: my trusty whisk. I love him. We go way back. He will be your bff, so make sure to treat him well.
Also pictured: my thumb. Megs, that's the nail polish I plan to wear for your wed. Unless you tell me to get a life and pick something else.

Step 2: Add 1/4 t of lemon juice

Step 3: Whisk the CRAP out of this mixture. You want the eggs to get a bit paler, a little thicker and double in size. This took me a good 4-5 minutes. This is an excellent exercise to get you one toned arm for your wedding. I have no ideas for your left arm. Sorry.

Step 4: Place a medium size pot of about 2 inches of water on the stove. Keep on medium- you want it really hot, but not really boiling.

Step 5: Melt 5 tablespoons butter in the microwave.
Step 6: Die of a heart attack.

Step 7: Place your metal bowl over the pot- this is like a make shift double broiler. If you are super cool and fancy, you could also use a real double broiler.

Step 8: Whisk, whisk, whisk those eggs! You don't want those suckers to scramble.
Step 9: Drizzle in the melted butter- slowly. Also, you probably want to put the butter in a seperate bowl than you microwaved it in- my bowl was so hot, I almost burnt my digits. This also proved comical while trying to photograph the process.
Step 10: Whisk, whisk whisk, until thick and twice the size.

Step 11: Remove from heat and add salt and hot pepper. Taste and decide if you need more seasoning, or if you would like to eat the entire bowl and die a slow death.
Step 12: Store in fridge, or keep warm until ready to serve over Eggs Benedict.

Hollandaise sauce is versatile. You can make it in a blender, or serve it over asparagus

Panscake with Blueberry Compote

Saturday, June 4, 2011

So, you're probably thinking "panscake" is a silly typo. It is definitely not a typo. It is definitely silly.

In an episode of Gilmore Girls, Rory tells Lorelei that the plural of cul de sac is culs de sac. Lorelei cannot believe the English language would allow such a silly plural to exist. (Why not? The English language is insane, I say.) Nevertheless, she proceeds to drive Rory crazy, saying, if that's a plural than is the plural of menu actually mensu and the plural for pancake MUST be panscake. I tried to find the clip, but alas, youtube was less than helpful. Whenever I make pancakes, my sis and I always say, don't you mean we're having panscake?
We're crazy.

These panscake rocked. They are somewhat of an adaptation of the spectacular blog, Two Peas and Their Pod, but more than anything, I used that as a skeleton and created the actual "pancake being" out of my own knowledge, guessing, and ideas.

The blueberry compote, or sauce, if you want to call it, is also from that blog.

Fruit compotes can be tricky if you mess with the cornstartch- it can be clumpy and unappealing, creating white chunks is your beautiful, shiny sauce- no gracias.
The trick: whisk the cornstartch with your liquid, prior to placing it in the pot. In this case, I combined blueberries, honey, cornstarch, water and fresh squeezed orange. So, I put the water, orange juice and cornstartch in a bowl, and whisked it together, before I stuck it in the pot- no big deal.

On this RAINY, JUNE day (I'm still in shock) these were warm and comforting.

Fluffy Whole Wheat Panscake (adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod)
I highly recommend using half cake flour/half whole wheat flour- the cake flour just gives them an airiness, which combats the heavy, but healthful texture of the WW flour.

Makes 10-12

1 cup WW flour
1 cup Cake flour
1 heaping tablespoon of baking powder- trust me!
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 cup soy, non fat or low fat milk mixed with 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon almond extract
zest of 1 orange (don't use it all!)
1/2 orange, squeezed
2 eggs

*Heat a non-stick skillet or a cast iron skillet. Grease with butter or oil*

Combine all dry ingredients, set aside

Combine all wet ingredients, except zest.

Add wet ingredients to dry. DO NOT overmix! Add almost all zest, but reserve about 1/4 of it for the compote.

When skillet is HOT, add slightly less than 1/4 cup of batter to pan. When bubbling, flip. Cook until golden brown. Unless you have a pan the size of Texas, just do these one at a time. Keep warm in a 250 degree oven.

While you're cooking your pancakes, make the compote:

Blueberry Compote (adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod)

3 cups fresh or frozen blueberries (I used fresh)
2 heaping spoonfuls of honey (I prefer orange blossom honey for this)
left over orange zest
juice of 1/2 orange
1/4 cup water
3 teaspoons cornstarch

Mix water, juice of orange, and cornstarch in a small bowl. In a medium sauce sauce pan, place all ingredients and turn the stove on high. Let boil, reduce to medium cook until thick. Keep on low. Serve warm over pancakes.

Hello, there.

Friday, June 3, 2011

My poor sad blog, how I’ve neglected you so!
This week I started and finished To Kill a Mockingbird (my every summer read) and am well on my way to finishing The Help. I’m enjoying every word, which the voice in my head reads with a Southern accent (read it and you’ll understand why). Even though I always love reading, sometimes I book grabs me so tight that I have no motivation to do anything but settle on into its 522 pages and never put it down. That’s exactly what happened this week. No blogging, no reading blogs (I may need some psychological examination to explain that one), sporadically checking my emails, few conversations on chat, and ignoring facebook pretty much all together.
Only in the 21st century can one get the feeling of guilt when ignoring the hustle and bustle of the cyberworld. Nevertheless, I felt a bit of that emotion when I realized how absent I’ve been from the internet, but I’m overwhelmed by a sense of freedom at the same time.
Anyway, I’m back. I’ve got a couple of posts coming up- expect some ice cream, breakfast, salad dressing and bbq pizza, over the next few days, for now, I leave you with some food I had no hand in preparing, but plenty of in eating.
Last weekend, the boyf and I planned a hike in Folsom. I spend 40 hours a week in that town during the week, so it was fun to head out there NOT at 6:30 am and NOT to head to work. I love Folsom. When I make more than 3 pennies a day and my student loans don’t add up to the ransom for 12 people, I would consider living there.
The hike was gorgeous- a perfect 70 degree type day; no foreshadowing of the tornado weather we had this Wednesday!
We ran into lots of bicyclists, some runners, birds, too much trash, lots of overgrown foliage and a few menacing bees. Along the way, I was filled with the pure joy that comes from doing something good for yourself AND loving it at the same time. Going to the gym, yoga class, or even for a run, is not the same as simply walking through the terrain put here by God, the cosmos, evolution, or what have you. Not to mention, I loved the feeling of feeling no pain in my knee- walking on “regular earth” is so much better than the asphalt, concrete and cement I usually make my poor body suffer through.

Okay, I’m done being all emo and existentialist.
After the hike, we walked over to a little Mexican restaurant, Qbole. It’s a little fancier a Mexican place than we usually go too, which means absolutely nothing, considering we went to dinner at a place last night that cost us a whopping $6.50 total. I went to this place once before, when Megan came for a visit, and remembered really enjoying a cheeseless quesadilla (feel free to shoot me). Some big time soccer game was on the big screen this time around and it was fun to join in with the excitement. I continue to amaze myself with how easily I can get roped into things I care absolutely nothing about.
After one of the best baskets of chips and salsa I’ve ever had, burritos the size of Texas, were put in front of us.

Mine veggie, the bf’s chicken.

Now, here is the thing with a veggie burrito- some places serve the most pathetic ones I’ve ever seen. Throwing some shredded lettuce and pico de gallo in a tortilla does not a veggie burrito make, my foodie friends. Eating a no refried bean (because of the lard) and no rice (because of chicken stock) burrito, with only lettuce and tomato, was one of my biggest “hates” when I was vegan (My own fault, I’m aware). Although I’m not one anymore, I often get a veggie burrito and I was pleasantly surprised when this bad boy greeted me at the table. Along with sour cream and guacamole, it was filled with black beans, cilantro rice, carrots, zucchini, onions, mushrooms and peppers. Score.
The thing was covered in enchilada sauce, which I didn’t love, but it wasn’t bad either.
I ate the whole thing.
Only kidding.
I barely ate half, took the rest home, munched on it another day, and found it even better as left overs.

I would definitely go again, especially if the chips and salsa always taste that magical.
Yes, when chips and salsa are your weakness, you’re allowed to call them magical.