Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Best-Salad-Ever Sandwich

I hope everyone had a lovely Memorial Day weekend, didn't get too sunburned, and remembered our fallen troops. My three days were lovely. Family BBQ, skating, 5K (that I didn't finish due to rain) and 8K (finished in an hour!) and some good ol' relaxing.

Over the weekend, I made My Favorite Salad:

Balsalmic dressing (any kind, preferably full-fat so it's less sweet)
Sliced fresh strawberries
Blue cheese (you could use feta)
Dried cranberries

This is good served as a side or eaten as a main dish for lunch with some bread. Sometimes I like to follow up with a piece of dark chocolate, reminding me of my senior year of college when I'd just started to eat "real foods." Wow, that was a long time ago...

When making up this salad, I decided I'd change it up a bit and make it into a sandwich. So I mixed up some sliced strawberries with blue cheese crumbles.

Poured in some raspberry vinaigrette dressing because it's what I had on hand.

Mixed it up.

Put some on whole-wheat bread.

Remembered that I forgot my dried cranberries, and tried to stick them to the mixture. Added some fresh spinach leaves. Any lettuce would work as well.

I even cut it in half to feel fancy. Plus, this sandwich wanted to fall apart, so this made it more manageable. So delicious!

The next day, I mixed it up again, remembering to add the craisins sooner. I put that mixture and some spinach in a fresh, local, whole-wheat pita. I liked this way better!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Layered Happiness

Here's another original recipe!

On Wednesday night, I was eating up the last of my Tofu-Veggie Melt. For dessert, I wanted to make something out of more fridge ingredients needing to be used up. Here's what I pulled together:

There are eight croissant pieces, so put two in the bottom of a greased bread pan.

Slice up strawberries. I used about 2/3 of the container total.

Add Nutella. I wanted to mix this all together, but it didn't work well.

Smush it all in a layer.

More croissant dough. Spreading Nutella on these layers worked better for me.

The strawberries will get coated when this cooks anyway.

Finish with a layer of dough.

Top with honey. I wanted to get a carmelized top. This worked out all right.

Bake at 350 until the top layer of croissant dough looks done. I left it in about 20 minutes, but in the future I'll probably bake it longer to get the middle layers more done.

Layered Strawberry-Nutella Dessert
(serves four for dessert)

Cooking spray
Canned croissants

1. Slice strawberries.
2. In a greased dish, layer croissants, then Nutella, then strawberries. End with croissant dough.
3. Top with honey.
4. Bake at 350 until croissant dough is cooked through.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Tofu-Veggie Melt

I'm trying to make it until the weekend without buying groceries. That means it's experiment time! This is where the best (and worst) recipes are made. Thanks to DeVeeM for taking these photos and sharing this meal with me.

There had been a package of local, organic firm tofu in my fridge for a week or so, so I knew I'd want to use that up for sure. Fry it, of course.

Then I washed and sliced a package of cheap button mushrooms, and added those.

Some jarlic (jarred garlic--thanks, Other Kelly!).

Mix it all up.

While that cooked, I washed and sliced up a little broccoli that needed to be used.

Throw that in and keep cooking.

Then I remembered I had some black olives in the fridge. I love olives, but you could leave these out. Slice them first if they're whole.

Add to the pan.

When checking out my fridge, I discovered the blue cheese I bought around the same time as the tofu but had forgotten about because my fridge was temporarily super-full. So I used about half the little container.

Then I turned it off but left it on the stove.

I wanted to make this into a sandwich, so I sliced up some French bread. This turned out to be too thick, so I'll slice thinner next time.

I dropped some bread, so Frostbite got a snack.

Remembering Pioneer Woman's tasty sandwiches, I buttered the bread...

... moved some of the warm, gooey goodness to a plate...

... and warmed the buttery bread on the stove.

Sandwich-makin' time!

These were a mess, but incredibly delicious.

This concept could be replicated with any tofu or meat you have in the fridge, as well as random veggies, leftover cheese and any bread lying around.

Tofu-Veggie Melts
(makes 4-6 sandwiches)

1 package firm tofu
8oz button mushrooms, sliced
1 tbsp garlic
1 small head broccoli, chopped
1/2 can black olives, sliced
1/2 package crumbled blue cheese
Bread, sliced

1. Slice and fry tofu.
2. Add veggies and cook until warmed through.
3. Melt cheese on top.
4. Make into sandwiches.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

First Game On Skates: Lessons Learned

Photo courtesy Jason Buis, facebook.com/jasonbuis

Did you know that refs skate their butts off? Seriously, I can't find my butt now. It always made sense to me that skaters would be exhausted the next day, but I didn't think about the fact that the refs skate all of both games. Props to my fellow officials!

To do next game:
1. Hydrate all weekend before. I was so thirsty the next day.
2. Take approximately 157 granola bars. I've never been hungrier in my life. I was on skates from 5 until 9 (four hours) plus an hour of practice that morning. So 300 minutes. According to this website, I burned about 1,800 calories. Skipping dinner and only taking light snacks was a bad idea.
3. Schedule a massage for the next day. Oh, my poor feet.
4. Sleep until noon the day of and after. AKA, take the next day off from work. My brain didn't start functioning until after lunch. Part of this may have been the lack of food as body-fuel, too.

Photos since the game have reminded me that skating tones my legs but not my back or arms. I should work on that before I sport a corset in public again... Also, practice whistling and yelling louder so my penalty calls are registered.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Strawberry Nutella Muffins

I'm so sorry...

I made the best muffins in the world and neglected to give you any. It's probably because I ate them all too fast. (And yet I wonder why my designer jeans still don't fit.)

This isn't my recipe, so I'm not going to take the credit. But you should make them TONIGHT. Holy crap are these amazing.

I followed the recipe pretty much exactly. I never buy buttermilk, so I added a little vinegar to regular milk, and splashed in a tiny bit extra. And I've never bought turbinado sugar, but I'm going to do my best to track some down before the next time I make these, but then these might be so delicious that I'll die of happiness.

Surely you don't want me to die. Then you'd have to track down all these recipes yourself. Because I realize that's all I am most of the time—an RSS-feed recipe curator.

Strawberry-Nutella muffins
(makes 12)
Modified ever so slightly from Two Peas and Their Pod

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup oil
1 egg
1/3 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chopped strawberries
1/3 cup Nutella

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin tin with paper liners or grease well. Set aside.
2. In a bowl, combine canola oil, egg, buttermilk, and vanilla until well combined. Add flour, salt, baking powder and sugar.
3. Carefully fold in the strawberries.
4. Fill each muffin cup halfway with batter.
5. Add a small spoonful of Nutella to each muffin cup.
6. Cover the Nutella filling with the remaining batter.
7. Bake muffins for 12-15 minutes, or until muffins are golden and a toothpick comes out clean.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Cuban Black Beans and Mexican Rice

First, a shout-out to my friend Madeleine Baker-Goering, who gave me this cookbook in college. These two recipes are on pages 136 and 137. I don't think it's a coincidence that they are together in the cookbook.

I have not tried many other recipes from this cookbook, but so far I haven't been disappointed. These two recipes are tasty and easy.

Okay, now for the recipes.

Cuban Black Beans

Serves 4 (I modified the original recipe slightly)
1 can of black beans (standard size - can't remember the oz)
1 c. water
Enough vegetable oil to cover the bottom of the saucepan
1 clove garlic
1/4 c. chopped onions
1/8 tsp. ground cumin
1/8 t. oregano
1 bay leaf (to be removed prior to serving)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
1/4 c. chopped fresh cilantro leaves and stems

Mexican Rice
Serves 4
3/4 c. long-grain white rice
1 14 oz can chopped tomatoes (good for lazy cooks - if you're feeling industrious, you can peel, seed, and chop one medium tomato)
1/2 clove garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
Enough vegetable oil to cover the bottom of a medium saucepan
1 tsp. salt
1/2-1 c. frozen peas and carrots (again, for the lazy cook - you can peel and finely chop 1/2 carrot and use 1/3 c. green peas)

Here are my ingredients, laid out really pretty-like on the counter:

I recommend starting by cooking the rice. Soak it in hot water for 15 minutes, and then rinse and drain it.

While it soaks, you can chop the cilantro.

I apologize for the sideways picture. I'm new to this blogging thing, but I'm sure I will figure out how to fix it for next time.

The directions say to puree the tomato, onion, and garlic in a blender, but I don't think that will give it enough of a smooth texture. I used my hand blender and it turned out perfectly. I'm sure a food processor would do the same thing.

Fry the rice in the oil until it turns light gold in color (about 10 minutes). Here's what the rice looks like when it's all done frying:

Pour off the excess oil, stir in the tomato puree and cook until almost dry (about 3 minutes). This will release a burst of yummy smell into the air.

Then, add the vegetable stock, salt, carrots and peas. Cover and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes.

Now, for the beans ...

Heat the oil on medium-low heat; add the garlic, onion, cumin, orgeano, bay leaf, salt and pepper and saute the mixture until the onions are translucent. (I have not mastered this skill yet. I always scorch the onion and garlic. Here's a picture of how NOT to do this step.

Rinse the beans in a colander, and then add them to the yummy garlic-onion-spice mixture. Your kitchen probably already smells awesome; this will only make it better.

Add 1 cup of water and crank up the heat to get this boiling. But only for a little bit - bring the heat down to medium or medium-low so that the most of the water boils off. Look for the soup-y texture, and then let it stay warm for just a bit after that.

This is what you are going for. When you see this, remove from the heat and dispose of the bay leaf.

See, I'm not kidding ... throw away the bay leaf! There are bad consequences for eating this. Don't test the limits of the universe.

Here's what the rice looks like when it's done.

Okay, here's the end product. I served it with blue corn tortillas, lettuce, cheese and plain yogurt. Along with a yummy peach.

Good luck, and enjoy!

Friday, May 20, 2011

KC Business Love

Nerd moment: Associated Press added "locavore" to its upcoming AP Style Book. I can't tell you how excited I am about that!

I've written a bit about local restaurants in the past, but those of you who know me also know that I love to shop almost as much as I love to eat. Here are a few of my favorite Kansas City originals.

Retro Vixen (39th Street), www.retrovixenkc.com
This is one of my favorite shops in the whole world. The owner, Melissa, is one of the sweetest people you will ever meet. The first dress I ever bought at Retro Vixen went with me to Las Vegas last year.

I loved it so much that I went back for another dress (and belt).

That dress became my "Joan dress" for Halloween. Lovin' it!

More recently I fell in love with this Monkey Wrench number there. Monkey Wrench, too, is a local KC business. Check out their corsets!

While I don't have photos of the other places, check these out:

Mash Handmade (39th Street) www.mashhandmade.com
My go-to place for unique, handmade cards.

Browne's Irish Market (Midtown) www.brownesmarket.com
A certain friend of mine (*ahem*) is smitten with all things Irish. I love to shop for her here.

Birdies (Crossroads) www.birdiespanties.com
Local shop with imported fancy women's underthings. If I don't have a little money to splurge, I don't go in because I'm powerless.

Rock Candy Boutique (39th Street) www.rockcandyboutique.com
Very nifty and getting niftier. Check it out if you're at Retro Vixen anyway.

Donna's Dress Shop (39th Street) www.donnasdressshop.com
One of my absolute favorites. A great mix of new and vintage. The only place nearby that I know sells Stop Staring and Bettie Page dresses.

Indigo Wild (Midtown) www.indigowild.com
You know those Zum soaps you see around the metro area? They make them here! I like to stock up on "scratch and dent" items.

Pryde's of Old Westport (Westport) www.prydeskitchen.com
This kitchen-supply store makes me a little claustrophobic, but I love how old and KC it is.

Boomerang (39th Street) www.boomerang-kc.net
Cool vintage at good prices. Most often I go for 80's high heels. My tush does not fit into most vintage, but I love browsing.

Good JuJu (West Bottoms) www.goodjujukc.com
Only open on First Fridays weekends, you never know what you might find here. I bought my first quad skates here—the ones I was wearing when I jacked up my knee.

Urban Mining (Midtown) www.urbanmininghomewares.com
Like Good JuJu but not. Think of it as a neat flea market.

Bon Bon Atelier (Westport) www.bonbonatelier.com
Lovely fabrics and gifts. The ladies here really know their sewing and even offer classes.

Clothz Minded (Westport) www.clothzminded.com
The vintage denim hotpants I wore to my birthday came from here. It's a second-hand store that feels like a boutique.

Did I miss your favorite store? Tell me about it in the Comments!