6.30.2012

Pickled Carrots

Its suuummmmmerrrrrr!! It has been for about a week now, and tomorrow is July! Holy COW! Time is a flying.

Yay for longer days, more sunlight, warm weather, and fresh produce galore! My basket is overflowing with bunches of corn, summer squash, cucumbers, okra and plums. Not to mention the 1/2 palette of strawberries in the fridge. Eatin' is gooood. (P.S. I'm making strawberry vodka with those puppies. Stay tuned to see how that comes out.)
 


And its BBQ season. Outdoor funness at it fullest. Love.

In commemoration of BBQ season, I made pickled carrots for you.

So you don't know what to bring to that BBQ for the 4th of July? Problem solved. Bring these carrots.

You will totally impress your people.

Actually, do like I do, make two batches and keep one for yourself. That way you don't have to be the person hovering over the food table to make sure you can get the left overs to bring home.

This recipe was brought to me by one of my co-workers a few months back. She literary brought in the recipe and a 5lb bag of carrots and asked me to make them. Of course, I love a challenge and a good recipe, so I was enthused!

These carrots are crunchy, make you pucker, make you want to eat more and are delicious and amazing. I added a cut up habanero to mine for some extra kick. This is, of course, optional.

Make them. make themmmmmm.

Pickled Carrots
Makes 1 Quart Jar
Adapted from Whole Living
1 1/4 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
3/4 Cup Water
2 1/4 Teaspoons Salt
2 1/4 Teaspoon Brown Sugar
2 Cloves of Garlic
1 Cinnamon Stick
1 Bay Leaf
1 Tablespoon Cumin Seed
1 Tablespoon Coriander Seed
1 Tablespoon Fennel Seed
1 Tablespoon Black Peppercorns
1 Pound of Carrots (about 8 whole), peeled and sliced
1 Spicy Pepper of your choice. I used a habanero and sliced it in half

First: Peel and chop your carrots.
Second: Make your brine. Bring the vinegar, water, salt and brown sugar to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the salt and sugar and dissolved.

Third: Clean your 1 quart jar with warm, soapy water. Keep your jar warm until you are ready to fill it with the hot brine. You can it warm by just filling it with warm water. This will help prevent the glass from bursting when you pour the brine inside. Right before you add the brine, dump the warm water and fill the jar with the garlic, pepper and spices.

Fourth: Pack your jar with the carrots and pour in the hot liquid. Cover and let cool overnight before scarfing.

Store in the fridge for up to three weeks.

I personally enjoy mine a little more as they warm up on the counter after a bit, Like at room temp.

Now, eat them solo as a snack, on a salad, a taco maybe. Any way you want. The world is your oyster.

Cheers,

Erica

6.25.2012

Adventures in Cheese Making. Part 1.

So I like cheese.

I'm a fan.

Saturday night, I say to myself, "Yeah, I can make cheese at home."

If I can make bread, bagels, and jam on the regs, I can make cheese. I found a few recipes, one for Ricotta and one for Mozzarella.

Done. Added to the bucket list.

I did a little research and most people say to go to your local homebrew store for the basic supplies. Then I say to Chris "Hey, let's go to More Beer tomorrow so I can get citric acid and rennet for some mozzarella cheese!" At first, he thought I was crazy for wanting to make cheese at home. Then he happily agreed since Calzone Sunday was coming up - and duh, homemade cheese inside the calzones would make them a-mazing.

Sunday morning.

I wake up, make breakfast. Drink lots of yummy coffee. And successfully make Ricotta Cheese. So creamy and rich and glorious!!! It was so easy too.

Then Chris wakes up! "Hey, I just made Ricotta! Let's go get stuff to make mozzarella!! Let's go, let's go!"(me excited like a kid on Christmas)

We get to More Beer.

No rennet.

The guy working said no where in town carries cheese making supplies any more. That means no mozzarella cheese making! Ak! Guess I should I have check before I left the house eh?

We headed next door to Ale Industries and I got out my phone. That guy was right - I couldn't find any place any where near us that sold cheese making stuff. Ak again!

BUT - I did have a successful cheese making day. Because I am still enjoying the heck out of my homemade ricotta cheese. I put it on toast with honey, in my calzone on Sunday night and on some more toast with jam Monday morning. Homemade bread with homemade ricotta with homemade jam - can it get any better?!

In the end, I ordered some supplies online and should get everything in a few days. So the cheese making adventures are far from over.

In the meantime, I've got some ricotta to enjoy! Make some for yourself. Impress your friends. Or hide it from your friends and devour it.


Homemade Rich Ricotta Cheese
3 1/2 cups whole local milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Pour the milk, cream and salt into a large saucepan. 
  • Attach a candy or deep-fry thermometer and heat the milk on medium heat to 190°F. Stir it occasionally to keep it from burning on the bottom.
  • Remove from heat and add the lemon juice, then stir it once or twice, gently and slowly. Let the pot sit undisturbed for 5 minutes.
  • Line a colander with some cheesecloth and place it over a large bowl (to catch the whey). Pour the curds and whey into the colander and let the curds strain for at least an hour.   
  •  After an hour, its ready to eat! It will become more firm and spreadable as it cools. 
  • Discard the whey, or save it and do one of these! I poured mine into a mason jar and I think I'll make bagels this upcoming weekend. 

Eat the ricotta right away or transfer it to an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use. Its best within a few days, but last up to a week.

Enjoy!

Erica

6.22.2012

Summer Bucket List!

I've been inspired!

My new favorite podcast, HomeFries, talked about doing Summer Bucket Lists.

Genius.

I love summer. I love lists. It was meant to be.

Summer officially started Wednesday, so I am a little late to post this - but better late than never.


Official Summer Bucket List

  • Finish the "Salad Challenge"
  • Find these stairs in the city
  • Find and go to a beach (preferably one I can wear a swim suit at, not the rocky cliff areas they call a beach around here
  • Fruit picking
  • Flash Mob class - no idea about this, I was given a lead on one...we'll see
  • Fly a kite in Berkeley. Maybe at this KITE FEST!
  • Drink more liquor- responsibly of course. Tequila tasting any one?
  • Go to a Hula Hooping Class
  • Yosemite
  • Find a cooking or baking class
  • Go to a baseball game – Giants or A’s
  • Go here to eat some vegan soul food!
  • Get on my bike
  • Bake a cake – can you believe I’ve never done this?
    Late addition: Make cheese at home. yep.
Seems doable right? Any one else doing a Bucket List? Anything you think I should add to mine?

6.20.2012

I Heart You Denver.

I went to Denver this weekend!

My first trip back since moving last July and it was nothing short of a-ma-zing.

I still love it. All of it. Even the ugly, boring road near the airport. Love!

Even though I've come to adore parts of California and now call it my home – Denver will always be in my heart.

It was a short visit, but we packed A TON (mostly food and beverage) (and a half marathon) into the few days.

I won't bore you with my travel flop that happened on the way there. My greed took the best of me, then my bleeding heart pushed me over the edge. Let's just say I got $700 in travel vouchers and gained some good German karma points to help my life. 

Here are some photos that can tell a better story than I can...


6.11.2012

Strawberry Salad with a side of HomeFries.

As I started this post, I was totally laughing out loud while listening to the HomeFries podcast by Joy the Baker and Tracy at Shutterbean. I couldn't even type it up while listening. 1. Because multi-tasking can be dangerous sometimes and 2. I was laughing and giggling so much I didn't want to get weird looks like I was chatting online with some creepers or something. 

If you like fun girls that include awesome life conversations and food, listen – its fun. They abbrev (abbreviate) a lot and I flipping love it. I kinda wanna be friends with them.

And, now I have a dilemma – there are like 50 episodes and I started on the most recent one. I know what I’ll be doing this week! Thank goodness I can conceal my iPod while working. That type of multi-task I can probably do. It's not a terrible dilemma. Dilemmas can be good and bad right? 

So, while listening, I connected instantly!! They were talking about how freaking hard it is to make new friends.

**Worst thing about moving to a new city**

But even though its hard, it is so worth it in the end. You just have to get out there and do it! Make friends, say yes, do things, drink, fun and that equals friends. I've been so very very very lucky to have found an amazing group of people I've connected with. Thank the lord all mighty! And its been easiers since I've been living here for a little while. Thank the lord all mighty for that one too. Now I'm just one lucky girl with wonderful friends all over the county.
Gorg.
Also while listening, they totally inspired me!! They are doing summer bucket lists. Anyone who knows me knows I love lists! And goals! Things to check off lists and goals to accomplish are among some of my very favorite things to do. So it’s done. I am starting a summer bucket list. Summer official kicks off on 6/20, so I will start collecting ideas and share my list then!

I the meantime, I am still rocking my salad challenge. Yesterday, I made a Baked Tofu Thai Salad. Yes, baked tofu, and it was yum. Today I made a Strawberry Spinach Arugula Salad.
Maybe I can add the salad challenge to my summer bucket list? Naw – it’s not fun enough.

Do you have a bucket list? If so, what's on it? When did you start it and how much have you added/crossed off since you started?

P.S. Here is the salad recipe. It is one of my favs when I can get fresh strawberries. Which are all over the place right now, so I get to have it at least once or twice a week, depending on if I eat all the strawberries or not. I usually add granola on top, but today I added toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds) and a bit of parmesan cheese. I think toasted almonds would be a great addition too.
My base is always usually the same and I add/remove toppings depending on what I have in the pantry or fridge. It is light, refreshing and filling.

Strawberry Spinach Arugula Salad
Serves 1
1 Cup Fresh Arugula
1 Cup Fresh Spinach
½ Cup Sliced Cucumbers
½ Cup Hulled and Sliced Strawberries

Options additions:
Toasted Almonds or Pepitas (Pumpkin Seeds) with Shaved Parmesan Cheese
Granola with Dried Cranberries
Roasted Asparagus with Almonds
Baby Portebella Mushrooms sliced

Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing
1 Tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar
1 Teaspoon Olive Oil
1 Teaspoon Dijon Mustard
Salt & Pepper to taste
For the dressing, whisk or shake all the ingredients together until combined.
Combine all the ingredients for the salad, top with the dressing and EAT!

Enjoy - and comment below for ideas for my summer bucket list!

Erica

6.08.2012

Breakfast Grain "Salad"

I told you I'd be getting creative with salads. I saw this recipe on TheKitchn and couldn't resist. It has the word "salad" in the recipe, so it totally counts! Either way, I had my Raw Kale Salad for lunch again, so I should get bonus points for having 2 salads in 1 day.
My daily week-day breakfast is a bowl of oatmeal with almond milk and banana, so this was a nice spin on one of my go-to favorite breakfasts. I've seen this breakfast qunioa from Maratha Stewart and my dear blogging friend Streusel from Strudel and Streusel made a breakfast qunioa that sounds amazing too that I have tried yet. But using different grains for breakfast has been on my list for a while.

This one has a few different grains so there are all sorts of flavors and textures going on that makes my favorite meal of the day even better. It takes longer than sticking a bowl in the microwave for 3 minutes, but I made a big batch, so it can last a few days.

The original recipe makes 8 servings, I cut it in half and it was still a ton. I brought the extras into work and told people it was a "different" oatmeal. They seemed pleasantly surprised and I heard the word "refreshing" a lot. Give it a whirl and let me know what you think!

Breakfast Grain "Salad"
Inspired by TheKitchn
1/2 cup steel-cut oats
1/2 cup quinoa
1/4 cup millet
2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 large lemons, zest and juice
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup Greek yogurt, plain
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup hazelnuts, roughly chopped and toasted (or any nut you like)
1 cup blueberries
1 banana

Mix the oats, quinoa, and millet in a fine mesh strainer and rinse under running water. Heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the rinsed grains and cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until they begin smelling toasted. Pour in 2 1/4 cups water and stir in 1/4 teaspoon salt, the ginger, and the zest of 1/2 lemon. Bring to boil, cover, turn down the heat, and simmer for about 20 minutes or until done. Transfer the grains to a mixing bowl and let cool for about an hour.
Once cooled, Stir in the zest of the other half of the lemon.
In a separate bowl whisk the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil with the juice of the lemon. Whisk in the honey, yogurt, and nutmeg. Add this to the grains and stir until well-coated and all mixed together. Stir in the blueberries. At this point you can eat it or refrigerate overnight so its ready in the morning.
Whenever you're ready to eat it, scoop about a cup into a bowl and pop it in the microwave for about a minute until warmed up. Top with sliced banana and toasted almonds. It's also good cold - your choice.

Enjoy!

Erica

6.07.2012

Salad Challenge Day 2!

I was searching all day today to find different salad recipes for this month and then it dawned on me – what makes a salad a salad? There are pasta salads, potato salads, beans salads, grain salads, and more! And with the salad challenge – there aren’t any rules expect for having a salad every day. I’m thinking this might be pretty easy now that I don't have to eat leaves daily, so I am really going to put effort into finding all sorts of different salads that are healthy and fun.

Not many people are a fan of kale.
Not sure why, because I'm a little obsessed with it. This salad is made of raw kale, and when you add the creamy dressing and massage it into the leaves, it really is yummy. Promise. I'm a big fan of this green and so you might see it a lot during this month. I've made this Raw Kale Salad in the past and I crave this Kale Smoothie most of the time!
If you want to try kale, but don’t know what kind, go for the dino (lacinato) kale. It has a milder flavor than the other types and is a good intro into the hearty greens.

This is the salad I ate for lunch today and again, its inspired by Oh She Glows. I made this about a month ago and its a new constant in my salad rotation. The dressing made enough for about 3 servings, so I’ll be having this again – tomorrow actually - which I am OK with.

Raw Kale Salad with Lemon Tahini Dressing
Makes 1-2 salads depending on the size you like
1-2 Cups Lacinato Kale
¼ Cup Red/Orange Bell Pepper, chopped
¼ Cup Carrots, shredded
¼ Cup Cherry Tomatoes, halved
¼ Cup Red Onion, chopped
1 Tablespoon Raisins
1 Tablespoon Pepitas (pumpkin) Seeds (or sunflower seeds)
Rinse and dry kale then tear the leaves from the kale stems into bite size pieces and place into a bowl. Chop the veggies and add that to the kale. Note 1/4 Cup for each veggie is an estimate, I added a little more carrots then onion so you can play with the amounts. Add the raisins and seeds to the mix, then topped with the dressing (see below). I've found about 2 Tablespoons of the dressing is a good fit - but that's up to you. However much you use, make sure you really massage it into the salad. I mean, take your rings off and get in there. Make sure it gets into all the creases of the kale. Then - let it sit for about 10 minutes and let it marinate. Then scarf it down.

Tahini Dressing
Juice from 1-2 lemons (about ¼ Cup)
2 Tablespoons Tahini
2 Tablespoons Water
1 Teaspoon Olive Oil
2 Cloves of Garlic

Add all the ingredients into a food process, blender, or bullet and blend until smooth. Taste test to your liking and add more water, lemon, oil as needed. Add a pinch of salt and you’re done.

Maybe there is an ice cream salad or some sort out there I could get away with?

If you know of it – TELL ME NOW. J

Enjoy!

Erica

6.06.2012

June Salad Challenge!

Happy June everyone!! These past few weeks I've indulged quite a bit. On a few things. Some healthy, some not so healthy. I had lots of wine and beer, but then I did some hiking yoga and ran my second marathon! Then I had more beer. And a big fat burger with onion rings that I was craving. Some Pinkberry. And some banana pudding ice cream.



All well deserved I feel, but it is time to take a step back and get back in balance.

I'm still recovery from my amazing run and Oh She Glows, one of my new favorite blogs, is doing a salad-a-day challenge. She is trying to have one salad a day through the month on June. Sounds easy enough? I eat salads for lunch most of the time, but I have some trouble on the weekends. So I am going to try and stick with it, and I started today - a few days late, but hey, I was busy running 26.2 miles. :)



Check out my first salad and check out the salad challenge! My inspiration came from Oh She Glows - she has some great options that I am looking forward to trying!

Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad
Serves 1-2
1/4 Cup Rinse Quinoa (1/2 Cup Cooked)
1/4 Cup Cooked/Canned Chickpeas
1/4 Cup Chopped Cucumber, Cherry Tomatoes and Diced Red Onion
1/4 Cup Chopped Fresh Parsley
1/4 Cup Chopped Fresh Mint
1 Chopped Green Onion
Juice from 1 Lemon
2 Tsp Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
1-2 Cups of Fresh Spinach

Cook quinoa according to package directions and let it cool. Combine quinoa with all the other ingrediants and mix. Lay quinoa salad on a bed of fresh spinach or any other green of your choice and enjoy!


My spring salad will also be on the list for this week to make. I am obsessed with that one!



What is your favorite salad?

Cheers!

Erica
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