Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Thai Iced Coffee

The thing is, I really miss Thailand. I really miss the scorching heat, and the dirty streets, and the busy, colorful markets, and the food, oh the food, and my family. I miss riding behind Nick on the scooter, and drinking fresh fruit shakes, speaking Thai, and going on adventures with my dad. It's a lot to miss. Thankfully I don't have to miss Thai iced coffee.
Sweet, creamy, but somehow still really strong- I'd never been able to replicate the flavor no matter how many recipes I found and tried online. So in Thailand, I watched like a hawk while the baristas made it at the little stands. And it is oh so simple. I tried it out as soon as we got home, and its the real deal.

8 oz hot espresso (if you have an espresso maker) OR very strong black coffee
2 tsp sweetened condensed milk
2 tbs evaporated milk
Lots and lots of ice

Brew the espresso, and pour it into a large mug. Whisk in the condensed milk, and then stir in the evaporated milk. Both of these are in cans in the baking aisle at the grocery store.
 Fill a glass to the brim with ice, and pour the warm espresso mixture over it. And there you have it. A perfect little sip of Thailand. 
 I can't wait to get back. 

Friday, August 30, 2013

Revamp, and an Autumn Salad

It's been a long while. Summer is almost over, and it has been an amazing one. One of the best. One for the books. Sunburns, and vacations, and friends, and crop tops, and sweaty runs...I'm getting nostalgic already and it's not even over. 

Our one year anniversary is this weekend and my husband surprised me with an iPad. A real I-thing! And oh my goodness it makes this easier! So here we go. For real. 

Now that its getting darker earlier, and cooler in the evenings, my stomach is thinking of fall, but my brain isn't quite ready. Which is why this Autumn Salad is perfection.

A savory-sweet blend of roasted apples and Brussels sprouts, crisp spinach, toasted walnuts, and tender pork, all drizzled with a silky tahini-honey dressing. Light, but absolutely satisfying.

Serves 2

2 tsp olive oil
1 medium sized Fuji apple
1 small yellow onion
10 Brussel sprouts
1 thick cut boneless pork chop
3 cloves garlic 
1tbs crushed walnuts
2 tbs feta cheese, crumbled
3-4 cups raw baby spinach
Salt and pepper

1 tbs tahini
2 tbs balsamic vinegar
2 tbs seasoned rice vinegar
1 tsp honey
1/4 cup water

Preheat the oven to 425. Chop the onion into small chunks, thinly slice the apple, and halve the Brussel sprouts. On a non stick cookie sheet, toss everything with the olive oil and a good amount of salt and pepper. Spread everything in a single layer and roast in the oven for 20 minutes or so. Give it a turn or two so everything gets browned all over.

Smash and dice up the garlic and throw it in a non stick frying pan. Salt and pepper the pork chop on both sides and place it in the (hot) frying pan. Sear it on either side, and then reduce the heat and cover until the chop is cooked through- about 15-20 minutes. 

For the dressing, put all the ingredients in a jar or cup and whisk or shake until everything is thoroughly combined.

Remove the pork chop, and throw the crushed walnuts into the hot pan for a minute or two to crisp them up.

Once everything is cooked, assemble the salad!
Scatter the spinach on a plate, slice up the chop, divide the roasted veggies and pile it on. Top it all off with a sprinkle of feta and walnuts, and a generous drizzle of dressing.

Just a little over a year ago, I started this blog. I'm excited to be more faithful about in the upcoming months. Keeping busy. And along with that thought, here is the newest and smallest addition to the family.

Pippin, the kitten.

Happy Labor Day!

Nutritional info for the Autumn Salad:
Calories per serving: 495
Carbs:75 Fat:27 Protein:43 Sugar:31

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Summer Couscous Salad with Lemon Eggplant

   Have I mentioned that I want it to be summer? Its a funny thing, but on my facebook feed this morning, I saw someone in Thailand complaining about the 100 degree weather there, and longing for New England snow. And I? I would do anything to get away from the snow and enter hot weather. Even 100 degree weather. I'll take it. That being said, we only have to wait another twelve weeks and six days until we board the plane for our quick 25 hour journey to Bangkok. And no, I'm not counting down...

   Because of the outrageous ticket prices, Nick and I are basically on a spending freeze, which means I've been getting very creative in the kitchen to make our food last as long as possible between grocery shopping trips. Thanks to the farm, we pretty much always have a huge variety of dried beans, as well as some grains like quinoa, barley, and couscous at hand. The couscous they have at the farm is a Lebanese variety, but I think its exactly the same as Israeli couscous. Before using it, my only experience with the grain was the stuff that comes in the box and cooks in five seconds. The Lebanese kind is very different, and oh-so-delicious.
It looks like this:

And it cooks up just like pasta. Boil a pot of water, salt the water, pour however much you want into a pan, and cook for about fifteen minutes, or until they are al dente, and strain them. So tasty. Anyway, I put together this cold summer salad with 'grilled' eggplant for our dinner last night. I made all of it in advance, so when I got home from work, all we had to do was assemble it and eat it. Which is my favorite way to cook dinner.

Chewy couscous mixed with cucumbers, carrots, and arugula, drizzled with a tangy, creamy mustard dressing, and topped with grilled lemon-y eggplant. This dish was surprisingly filling-- I had about half the amount pictured above and was stuffed. 

Since the salad is meant to be served cold, its best to make it in advance. But in a pinch, just run the couscous under very cold water after its finished cooking to achieve a cool salad. Anyway.

First, boil the coucous. I used probably about 1 1/4 cup dry couscous for 4-5 servings. If they were my size servings, maybe we'd have gotten closer to 6. But Nick size servings drop it to about 3...

Moving on. Slice an eggplant in half, and then slice the halves into pieces of medium thickness. 

Spray a cookie sheet with non-stick baking spray, and place them all in a row. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Pour 1 tbs olive oil into a small bowl and use a pastry brush to coat each slice in a little bit of oil. 
Squeeze a lemon half over them and then sprinkle some salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper on top. Its up to you how much you want to put on them. Just don't over-salt them.
Bake them for about fifteen minutes, or until they are soft and browned on top. The ones that I cut too thin went black on be careful about that.

Pop these into the refrigerator, and get started on the salad.

I used 1 whole cucumber, two carrots, and about two cups of arugula. Peel the cucumber and the carrot, chop them up into small chunks, and add them to a bowl. Add the cooked couscous on top, and then the arugula.
For the dressing, mix 1 tbs olive oil, 3 tbs apple cider vinegar, 3/4 tbs mustard (I used spicy brown), 1 1/4 tbs light mayonnaise, 3 tbs milk, 1/4 tsp paprika, 1/2 tsp pepper, and 1/4 tsp salt. Whisk all the ingredients together, and then pour over the salad.
Mix the salad until everying is combined, and then put it into the fridge until its mealtime. 

This would make a great barbecue salad for the summer too as an alternative to (super mayonnaise-y) macaroni salads. 
   When you serve it up, top each plate with a few slices of eggplant and dig in. We had ours with a slice of crusty, homemade rosemary-sea salt bread. Which some day I will post on here. Because it is so easy. And it sounds really fancy that I made bread, but its actually not. Its embarrassingly simple. 
And then, dine in darkness which according to this picture is what we do.

Fingers crossed  that Spring really comes soon. I'm sitting in front of a space heater now and trying to gear myself up to put my outside running clothes on and take the dog for a good long jog. The sun is out. But I know its lying.

Twelve weeks and six days.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Peanut-Sesame Chicken with Ginger-Soy Veggies

    I've been on an Asian-food inspired kick lately. Probably because every ounce of my being is longing for Chiang Mai. It always happens around this time of the year. Although its easier this time around because I know that I'll actually be there in just over three months. Where I'll eat all the Thai food I can get my hands on, which will be A LOT and I can't wait...but in the mean time, this Peanut-Sesame Chicken with Ginger-Soy Veggies can help tide me over.

A tender marinated breast of peanut-y chicken over sauteed veggies laced with ginger and topped with crunchy almonds. Delicious. And protein packed, which is good, because Nick says I don't eat enough protein. And probably he is right. 

I made the marinade for this in the morning, and soaked the chicken all day. I also cut up the veggies so that when I got home from work at 7:30, all I had to do was assemble the goods.

For the marinade:
First, you'll need one tablespoon of diced garlic. I like to use fresh garlic. The stuff in the jar never tastes the same.
Add two tablespoons of soy sauce.
Two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar.
Two tablespoons pre-made Thai Peanut sauce (you can get this in the Asian aisle at the supermarket)

A palmful of toasted sesame seeds, a dash of crushed red pepper, and a teaspoon of white pepper.
Mix it all together, and add three breasts of chicken. 

Let it marinate for at least four hours. Before you put the chicken in the frying pan, get the veggies ready. You really could use whatever you like for this part, but I used mustard greens, zuchinni, yellow squash, and carrots. And garlic. Of course. Chop everything up into medium bite sized pieces.

In a small bowl, mix up the sauce for the vegetables using:

3 tbs soy sauce
1 tbs vinegar
2 tsp fish sauce
1/3 cup chicken broth
1 tsp white pepper
1 tsp crushed red pepper
2 tsp cornstarch

Whisk all the ingredients.

Pour 2 tsp sesame oil into a large pan, or a wok, and fry the garlic until it is just starting to get brown. Add all the veggies, pour the sauce over them, combine, and then turn the heat to low.

Meanwhile, in a non stick pan, add about 1 tsp sesame oil and heat it up. Place the chicken breasts in the pan, turn the heat to medium, and cover them. 
Turn the breasts occasionally until they are cooked through. I usually use a fork to pull away the meat in the center to make sure its no longer pink before serving. 
Once the chicken is cooked, and the vegetables are tender, serve it all up. Chop a few almonds to top the veggies, and dig in. 
This is a fantastic meal to replenish and fill you up after a good workout. And it satisfied (at least temporarily) my Thai food craving.
Just 3.5 more months till we're in Chiang Mai! Street food, here I come!

Enjoy the weekend everyone. I've been on a break making kick, so maybe I will get the gumption to post a recipe of it up here. 

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Breakfast (for dinner) Bowl

Hello! I hope everyone is having a restful (and dry) weekend. This morning we woke up (at 6 am....on our one day off....thanks to my husbands alarm clock...) to chilly  temps and falling snow. Which is old news now, because there has been SO MUCH snow this year. But this morning, after a fantastic Pilates class, while running on the treadmill I saw the weather reports for Texas. A casual 80 degrees-- I have friends in Texas, and my heart is filled with envy. Have I mentioned that I am ready for summer? Because I am ready for summer. I've been spending most my time dreaming about our trip to Thailand to visit my dad this summer. I try very hard to enjoy every day, and every period of time, because things go by too fast and I don't want to wish it all away...but its hard not to when  the sky seems to be perpetually grey, and all I want to do is put on a bikini and sit in the sun on a beach somewhere. And if there were a cocktail in my hand? I wouldn't hate that.

Last night, after our long work day, Nick and I decided to spend a quiet night in. We mixed ourselves some dark and stormy's, set up the scrabble board, and I whipped up this Breakfast (for dinner) bowl. I've had us on a healthier than usual diet this past week, because I spent last weekend in Syracuse with my dad and my brothers family, and spent most of the time eating delicious dinners out. So this week I was focused on lightening things back up. And this meal fit right into that category, while still being filling, delicious, and comforting.

A hearty bowl of peppery polenta topped with sauteed brussel sprouts, farm-fresh bacon, a fried egg, and shaved parmesan. Awesome. And polenta is INSANELY filling. I had a 1/2 cup in my bowl and could barely finish it. This Italians knew what they were up to when they threw cornmeal into boiling water. 

The ingredients are super simple.

For the polenta:

3 cups water
1 cup cornmeal
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tbs parmesan cheese

For the toppings:

3 slices bacon
about 1 1/2 cups shaved brussel sprouts
1 small onion
4 cloves of garlic
salt and pepper to taste

4 fried eggs (technically I had one plus an egg white cause I hate fried egg yolk, but you do whatever you like.)

Cook the bacon until it is crispy, and reserve the bacon grease in a measuring cup.

Bring 3 cups of salted water to a boil, and VERY SLOWLY pour in the cup of cornmeal, whisking the entire time. Reduce the heat to low, and add in the pepper. Cover it and let it be.

Pour a little of the bacon grease into a frying pan, and add in the 4 cloves of garlic, smashed and chopped, and the onion, also chopped up small. Add a little salt and pepper, and allow the onions and garlic to brown up. Add in the shaved brussel spouts. Let everything cook until the mixture is a little bit browned and the sprouts are soft.
I love brussel sprouts cooked like this. Love them. As can be attested to by my sausage and brussel sprout pizza. Which I would make a link to but I don't know how. Anyway...once the sprouts are done, put them in a bowl and add a little bit more of the bacon grease into the pan (just a little for flavor, if you have a nonstick pan like this). Once the pan is sizzling hot, drop in four fried eggs, and sprinkle a little pepper on them.
Cook them however you like- I flip mine because I hate sunny side up eggs with my whole heart. Raw yolk? So gross. To each their own. My dad can't get enough of them. 

Stir a tablespoon of parmesan cheese into the polenta, and then assemble the bowls!

In my bowl:
1/2 cup polenta
1/3 cup brussel sprouts
1 1/2 slices bacon (crumbled)
1 egg + an egg white (I gave the yolk to nick)
2 pieces of shaved parmesan cheese

Truly, so good. Nick was impressed with my creativity in coming up with this bowl, and I had to admit that I came up with the concept based off of a recipe I saw in one of my fitness magazines. But, you know? Everyone needs a little inspiration. This dinner was so good that I didn't even mind that Nick beat me at scrabble by four measly points. Or at least it softened the blow...

Today I will be spending 750 hours at the laundromat washing our LOADS of laundry. I've said it once and I'll say it again...the day that I have my own washer and dryer will be the day I know I've made it big in this world... Tonight we're heading to one of our favorite pubs for a 'date night'...which is what Nick is calling his excuse for watching the Bruins game. Which is fine with me. What are you doing for your weekend? If it doesn't include mountainous loads of laundry, then count yourself lucky.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Copy-Cat of The Adventurer

Today we went sledding. Down a huge hill on the property that some of our young farmer friends live on. It was fantastic. And an awesome work out. Trekking through three feet of snow up the long, steep hill after each run was exhausting, and exhilerating. My entire body is sore, and I'm cold through to my bones despite a steaming hot shower...but it was worth it.

Anyway. In Salem, there is a vegetarian restaurant called Life Alive and at this place, there is a dish called The Adventurer. I love this dish. I love it so much that sometimes I find myself daydreaming about it, and thinking about when I can next accidentally find myself in Salem right around lunch time so I can consume it. I never knew that an enormous pile of vegetables could be so addicting, but this dish is. Maybe its the chewy quinoa. Or the crunchy almonds. Or the sesame-ginger kale. Or maybe its all of these things. I stared at a picture of the dish online for a long time, and then went to business recreating it.

This dish is more about the components and less about the measurements. So, depending on how much you want, make accordingly. I didn't have brown rice, so I made a sticky-sushi rice instead, which was equally good. And....Lets get to it.
First, make the rice. I make mine in a rice cooker which succeeds every single time. I have a hard time with  stove top rice-- I'm pretty picky about it since I was basically raised on amazing rice in Thailand...and they make theirs in a rice cooker, so I do too. If you don't have brown rice, or sticky Japanese rice, use Jasmine rice. 1 cup rice to 1 1/2 cup water. Same with the quinoa, which you should soak and rinse first. Then bring it to a boil, and lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. 

As for vegetables you'll need:

1 1/2 tbs sesame oil
3 tbs soy sauce
3 tbs vinegar
1 tbs minced fresh ginger
1 tbs minced garlic
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tbs sesame seeds

1/4 cup chopped almonds
1/8 cup mozz cheese (or cheddar)

Chop the veggies up into bite size pieces, and steam them until JUST tender. Do the beets separately or they'll turn everything purple. Mix together all of the sauce ingredients, and then simmer it for a few minuties on the stove to release the garlic and ginger flavor. And then assemble!

First, there were two plates.
Then there was 1/3 cup of rice on each
And 1/4 cup of quinoa (more on Nicks....because he needs more)
Then there was a mound of kale.
And a delectable pile of corn, carrots, broccoli, and beets
Then a steaming drizzle of savory sauce.
Then a hearty topping of the almonds (split between the two) and a little bit of cheese.
This dish was incredible. Filled with flavor, and the perfect amount of crunch thanks to the almonds. And so healthy that I'm thinking of eating it for like fifteen more meals this month....Or at least inventing a few more similar varieties. 

The snow weekend is over, and I am a little bit sad about it-- I'll admit. But I feel refreshed, and rested. I got to spend so much time with Nick-- and next week is Valentines day! And then my dad is coming for a visit. So there is plenty to look forward to. 

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Eating for Hybernation

Its a funny thing about snow days. They make me want to eat. Maybe because my body is terrified of freezing to death and is suddenly hoping to build up a little fat. Or maybe because snow days feel akin to holidays. Cozy, work free little celebrations where I have tons and tons of time to cook and cook and don't have to rely on my crock pot. That being said...We got tons of snow. And we are eating like kings. And because I haven't posted in ages this is going to be a long one containing a snow day workout, and TWO recipes. I know. Its almost too much to handle.

Like the rest of New England, we got lots of snow. And we were fortunate enough not to lose power.

The wind whipped pretty hard last night but we were safe and cozy in our little house, playing Settlers of Catan (Katan?) with Jon, and FEASTING on The Worlds Best Brownies. I am not exaggerating. The best. In the world. I used to think that boxed brownies were preferable to homemade-- a sentiment shared by a lot of my friends. Homemade ones were always too dry and too cake-y and never had the level of fudge that a brownie needs to be glorious. I told this to a mom friend of mine last year-- she happens to be an amazing cook and told me that I just hadn't tried the right recipe. And it turns out she was right. a disclaimer...these are mind bogglingly bad for you. They are maybe the worst for you ever, and once you have a bite you will want more and more which is why one of my old roommates dubbed them the Crack Brownies. It's fitting....
So get ready. Now you know what you're getting yourself into.

two (TWO!) sticks of butter
8 oz bittersweet chocolate
4 (FOUR) eggs
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup brown sugar (!)
1 cup white sugar (!!)
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup flour
walnuts (optional)

Melt the butter and chocolate together in a saucepan over low heat. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and add in the sugar, salt, and vanilla. Pour in the chocolate/butter mixture and then fold in the flour. If you're adding in walnuts, mix them into the batter now.

Heat the oven to 350, line a brownie pan (I used the small size...whatever that size is...) with buttered or greased wax paper and pour in the batter. Did I mention before that this recipe is stupidly easy? Well, it is. Bake them for about 30 minutes, or until the center is mostly set. You want them to be a little wet still. Let them cool a little bit, and then eat them warm with a dollop of ice cream. Because you know what? Let's live a little.

After a day of hibernation yesterday, which was spent mostly reading in front of the fire at the farmhouse and eating copious amounts of the above delicacy, I knew a workout was in order today. I found this one on one of my favorite blogs: Iowa Girl Eats. And it was fantastic. I did three rounds of it, which added up to 45 minutes and left me sweaty (always a nice thing in our freezing little house) and sore. So, if you're feeling a little cabin crazy, here you go.

The 5-4-3-2-1 (+1.5) work out

FIVE:                                                     THREE:
1 minute high knee jog                            10 pushups
1 minute jumping jacks                           15 tricep dips
1 minute high kicks                                 (repeat these until the 3 minutes are up.)
1 minute jumping jacks
1 minute run (in place)
FOUR:                                                  TWO:  
1 minute alternating lunges                      30 second squats (shoot for fifteen reps)
1 minute mountain climbers                    30 second jump squats
1 minute alternating lunges                     30 second squats
1 minute mountain climbers                    30 second jump squats
                                1 minute plank
Repeat three times, and at the end, tack on 1.5 minutes of crunches.

In addition to doing this, I learned how to make a fishtail braid, shaped my eyebrows, AND made cornmeal-banana pancakes with fresh blueberry syrup for breakfast. Oh. My. Goodness. I almost never make breakfast-- I'm a cereal kind of girl (my old roommates know HOW EXCITED I get about my cereal). But snow days call for special things...

I used an organic, coarsely ground cornmeal which, I think, took these to the next level. combined with whole wheat flour, and a touch of raw honey, they were textured, just sweet enough, and incredibly moist and dense. For the syrup, I cut the amount of sugar used in half, and added in some cinnamon, and the result was perfection.

1 1/3 cup cornmeal
1 1/2 cup boiling water
1 tbs melted butter
3/4 cup 1% milk
1 tbs raw honey
2 eggs, well beaten
2/3 cup sifted whole wheat flour
1 tsp salt
4 tsp baking powder
1 banana, mashed

Put the cornmeal in a large bowl, and pour the boiling water over it. Melt a tablespoon of butter and pour that in as well. Mix until combined, and then let it cool a bit.
Once its cooled, beat the eggs in a separate bowl and add them in. 
Then the 3/4 cup of milk.
And 1 TBS of honey.
Mix this up, and then sift in the 2/3 cup of whole wheat flour.

Add in the salt and the 4 tsp of baking powder.
Stir this up, and then mash the banana, and mix it in.
Heat a (preferably cast iron) pan and add in either a little butter, or a tsp of bacon grease if you, like me, happen to be so fortunate as to have some. Then drop in the batter by 1/3 cup fulls into the hot pan.
Flip when they're all bubbled up in the middle, and  then keep them in a warm oven while you finish up the rest of them as well as the syrup.
Speaking of which...the syrup could not be easier.

Pour about 2 cups of fresh blueberries into a sauce pan, and add 3/4 cup water. 

Put it over medium heat, and once they get warm, mash the blueberries down a little with a fork. 
Add in 1/3 cup sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon, and 1 tsp cornstarch.
Whisk it all together, and then simmer over a low heat until it is thick and gently bubbling.

And now, you can eat!

This syrup is SO MUCH better than the store bought least I think so...The blueberries are sweet on their own, and don't need the equal parts sugar and water that most recipes call for. And the cornstarch does the job of thickening that a larger amount of sugar would normally do.
The pancakes are nutty with a subtle hint of banana, and are a perfect counterpart to the fruit syrup.

So, enjoy your snow day, and eat some good food. And if your're watching the Bruins tonight like we'll be doing...Go Bruins! It's the only sport I like to watch. Such large men on such tiny skates. It boggles the mind.