7.31.2012

Just Kidding!

So remember that time where I said I was back in the saddle...well I was just kidding! I apparently underestimated the amount of unpacking that needed to be done before a kitchen could be used to make things other than bowls of cereal. But this time, I'm really not kidding and I'll actually be cooking, and hopefully soon, baking a lot more.

Today we're getting the last of my stuff from the storage unit! I sold my gargantuan couch and found an awesome Danish Modern style couch on craigslist and scooped that up. Our place is starting to come together and that makes me a happy camper.

I've decided that my part of the blog should probably be entitled "Kitchen Disasters". Everytime I cook or bake something always seems to go "wrong". These next two recipes each had their own mini diaster. Don't worry, it all turned out edible, and actually, quite tasty!

Pasta with Tomatillo and Cilantro Pesto adapted from A Thought for Food *I essentially cut their recipe in half...kinda
1/2 box angel hair pasta (or any pasta of your choosing)
3 tomatillos, husked and quarted
1 cup cilantro, washed and dried
2 cloves garlic
1/3 cup pine nuts
1 jalapeno, seeds removed
1/8 cup olive oil, give or take some
1 1/2 tbsp lime juice
salt to taste




Toss pesto with pasta, add remaining tomatillos on top! So you might be asking what the disaster was with this. Well remember this post Chicken Pesto Minestrone? I was so excited because when combing kitchens I inherited a food processor (and three blenders, two tea kettles, and about 4 wine openers...can never have enough of those), so of course pesto was the first thing I wanted to make. I get everything in the food processor and it wouldn't turn on. I plugged it in to every single outlet in the house. Still...no go. Finally, after screaming some, I realized it was user error and that I didn't have the lid on securely. Phew, disaster averted, delicious pesto consumed!

We had a ton of fresh kale from the CSA so I decided to make a salad that is probably the exact opposite of a pairing for a pasta dish with a Mexican flair. Oh well!

Triple Berry Kale Salad adapted from how Sweet it is
1 head of kale, leaves removed from stem and torn
1 cup fresh tart cherries, pitted and sliced
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 cup fresh strawberries
2/3 cup almonds
salt and pepper to taste

Strawberry Vinaigrette
3/4 cup sliced strawberries
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp honey
pinch of salt and pepper
Combine all ingredients in blender together until smooth



Place kale in a large bowl, and add about 1/4 cup of the strawberry vinaigrette. Massage and rub dressing into kale with your hands, then let the kale sit for 5-10 minutes.



Add in salt, pepper, cherries, and berries, then add a few more tablespoons of dressing and toss. Finish by topping with chopped almonds.

The disaster with this one is that I will never pit cherries again without a cherry pitter to help me. That was just ridiculously time consuming! I must say, totally worth it though!

This salad made plenty for leftovers for lunch the next day and it was even tasty still after sitting in the dressing overnight.

-Abbie


Cook the pasta according to the directions on the box.
While it is cooking, you can make the pesto.  Add the jalapeno, pine nuts and garlic to the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine.  Next, add the cilantro, 3/4 of the tomatillo, lime juice, and a little salt and run the processor.  While this is happening, drizzle in the olive oil.  Season with some more salt and pepper, if necessary.

7.29.2012

Hot Damn, This Is My Jam!

Eat Jam (and other amazing things), Cure Cancer.

Simple right? If it was only that easy.

It is my second time raising money for Team in Training and I wanted to put my talents to good use. Enter – jams, preserves, sauces and other amazing food in jars!!

There are so many wonderful fruits and foods in season right now and I am on a jamming and preserving binge.

If you are interested in buying some jam and supporting my efforts to eat and cure cancer, this is for you!


½ Pint Jars of Goodness $10 each!

Flavors and Items Available
  • Spiced Plum Jam
  • Carmelized Plum Jam 
  • Honeyed Apricot Preserves - sold out for now
  • Vanilla Strawberry Sauce 
  • Salted Caramel Sauce 
  • Caramel Coffee Sauce
  • Raspberry Fig Lemon Jam

More fresh flavors to come soon and if you have a request, please let me know!

I may be able to ship or deliver for a small extra donation. Contact me and I’ll work with ya!

Go Team!

Erica

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7.22.2012

Homemade Mayo

I’ve realized recently I need to work on making meals. Like full meals. I feel fairly confident that I can make some decent baked goods, sides, salads, and sauces, but not full meals for some reason. What’s up with that. 



Hahaha...it makes my day every time.

I used to hate this skit for the frustration of the guests not being able to say one sentence. I was feeling what they were feeling...let them finish man!! Plus the song always got in my head. Now it gets in my head and I giggle at weird or inappropriate times. Like now, people have no idea why I am laughing, but it is because I am secretly singing and thinking about this skit.

Back to full meals – that will be a project for me and I’ll be working hard to make some yummy, tasty meals I can whip up in a jiffy. I am really good a breakfast, but I'm talking about dinner time meals. If I was single, I would probably do brinner all the freaking time. I love brinner.

But, since I am not the best at full on dinner time meals, I went a little crazy on condiments last weekend. I made mustard, it was awful and I have to try something way different. We made ketchup, and did a pretty good job. Then we hit the mother load. Homemade Mayonnaise. Wowzers indeed. Did I just blow you mind? Cause I blew mine, and my waist line I might add.

Its actually really easy, you just have to be patient with the oil and literally add it in drop by drop in the beginning. The only thing I had to do this with was a turkey baster - but it worked.

Literally dropping the oil in with a turkey baster
What it looks like after all the oil has been added
We made artichokes with a garlic aioli, curry aioli, and a spicy aioli. We ate a lot of mayo. Then when we ran out of artichoke, we got some crusty bread and ate some more. Its a bit shameful, yes I know. But it was so damn good. So we dealt with the shame, drank some wine and played some Rummikub too. I lost. Of course. Then we made burgers and added more mayo to those... yeah...


Try it! Make mayo and eat a lot of it so I don't feel so bad about myself.


Homemade Mayo
by Alton Brown
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 2 pinches sugar
  • 2 teaspoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 cup safflower oil


In a glass bowl, whisk together egg yolk and dry ingredients. Combine lemon juice and vinegar in a separate bowl then thoroughly whisk half into the yolk mixture. Start whisking briskly, then start adding the oil a few drops at a time until the liquid seems to thicken and lighten a bit, (you are making an emulsion). Once you reach that point you can relax your arm a little (but just a little) and increase the oil flow to a constant, thin stream. Once half of the oil is in add the rest of the lemon juice mixture.

Continue whisking until all of the oil is incorporated. Leave at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours then refrigerate for up to 1 week - ours was gone before then. 




** Raw Egg Warning**Use caution in consuming raw and lightly cooked eggs due to the slight risk of salmonella or other food-borne illness. To reduce this risk, use only fresh, properly refrigerated, clean grade A or AA eggs with intact shells, and avoid contact between the yolks or whites and the shell. For recipes that call for eggs that are raw or undercooked when the dish is served, use shell eggs that have been treated to destroy salmonella, by pasteurization or another approved method.



Garlic Lemon Aioli
Take about 1/4 cup of mayo and stir in finely chopped, or grated garlic, zest from one lemon and about a teaspoon of fresh lemon juice. Add black pepper and fresh oregano or rosemary and serve.

and that's how that goes...
Curry Aioli
Take 1/4 cup of mayo and stir in 1-2 teaspoons of curry powder. Adding more or less depends on how strong of a curry flavor you prefer.

Add this stuff to everything. For real.


So there you have it, homemade mayo. I need a diet.

Cheers!

Erica

7.19.2012

Strawberry Infused Vodka


Being a brewer's wife, I mostly drink...well, beer. Which, don't get me wrong, I am happy to have such great, great beer on hand, but sometimes a girl needs a change. A nice refreshing change on a warm summer afternoon.

And this summer on my summer bucket list, I've added "drink more liquor" as a task.
Not that I want to be this wasted alcoholic or anything. I'm not in college any more. I just want to enjoy a few different adult beverages and appreciate these so called "finer things" in life.

So I infused some vodka for you. With strawberries.

It was quite easy, and delicious. I highly recommend it.

Host a happy hour at your house. Get social. Drink liquor. Its delightful.

I found this idea on shutterbean.com and on David Lebovitz's blog and now this is how I did it...

Strawberry Vodka
750ml Vodka - I used Skyy
2 pints of fresh strawberries, washed very well, hulled, and cut in quarters

(I used 2 quart size mason jars, but if you had a container that fits everything in one shot - use that.)

Divide the strawberries evenly and place in the mason jars. Divide the vodka evenly, its a little over 3 cups for each jar, and combine with the strawberries.


Shake once or twice and store in a cool, dry, dark place for 3-5 days.

Shake the jars at least once a day.

After 3-5 days, strain the vodka through a fine mesh strainer, cheese cloth or coffee filter.

Store in an air tight container in the fridge.



For a cocktail, serve it straight over ice or with a splash of soda and a few slices of cucumber.

So refreshing. So good.


Cheers,

Erica

7.16.2012

Caliversary!


One year ago this week Chris and I moved from the beloved state of Colorado to the big and bright state of California. We embarked on this adventure with both eyes wide open and ready for new experiences! And now here we are, one year later, loving our lives and looking forward to all the adventures to come.

This year has flown fly. Like a bird. Better yet, like a high speed jet engine plane. FLEW!

I took this week to look back and reflected on all the amazing things we’ve experienced this year. All weekend long I and celebrated with my wonderful supportive husband, incredible friends, and, of course, delicious beers at Russian River Brewing Company.

I still dearly miss Colorado and, of course, my favorite people that still reside there. But we have grown to love living in the Bay Area and I couldn’t feel more grateful for the people that have entered my life that I now get to call my friends. All the experiences I’ve had with them over the past 12 months have truly been remarkable.

Here is a little photo montage of our first year. Thank you to all of you who have come to visit us, bringing little pieces of home with you each time to help us acclimate just a bit easier.




I still get giddy every time I go over the Golden Gate Bridge. I may sing the Full House theme song loudly in the car each time we do go over it. I crave Philz Coffee all the time. I ran my first marathon. I ran another marathon. Thai and El Salvadoran food.  Wine county in a limo is the only way to go. Clubs in the Castro (yeah I said clubs. no judging.) Irish Coffees. Hills. More hills. Big trees. Full House House. Learning to make bread, bagels, cheese, and mayo. Always wearing scarves and cardis. Stella and Dot parties. And beer. Lots of Beers.

Life is good friends.

Now on to year two!

Cheers,

Erica

7.12.2012

Cherries!


Nothing screams summer to me more than cherry pie.

Well, ice cream, watermelon, and sun tan lotion screams it too, but cherry pie is definitely on that list too.
Any way, our friends Karen and Brian came to visit this past weekend. They are doing this kind of amazing trip for almost 6 weeks! Listen to their vacation – they flew into LA, stayed for a few days, went to Orange County, Newport Beach, then came up the coast to Big Sur, Cambria, and Monterey, then headed up to San Francisco to hang out with us, then they are staying in Berkeley for a night, then they are headed to Yosemite to camp for a week, then they’ll drive up the coast again to Portland (maybe even head into Washington they said) then they fly to Maui for three weeks!

Holy cow right!

I was happy we could be a part of their trip. They were super fun to hang out with and we had a blast together.

Plus, I got a check another thing off my summer bucket list! We went cherry picking!!

Cherry Orchard, Fairfield, CA

#4 Go to a U Pick It Farm - check and done.

We got almost 8 pounds of cherries and 2 varieties. Rainier and Sweet Brooks.

Me on Chris's shoulder trying the get the good ones on top!

Karen, sorting cherries.
So what did we do with 8 pounds of cherries?

Well, we made a pie!

We made jam!

And I threw some in a salad and keep some balance in my life.

And we still had enough left over for plenty of snacking. Maybe I can make one more thing with the lot that is left? Hmmm…

Any way, this whole making of cherry items was an all day affair. Very fun with a friend, so I highly encourage the pie and jam to be a joint project. Alone, it might have been a bit much.

The reward - totally worth it.

P.S. Karen let me use her fancy camera to take photos. Its crazy how my food looks so much more appealing with that level of technology. Birthday gift in my future??

7.11.2012

I'm Baaaccck!

After a long hiatus, I'm back! The past month and half have been crazy with the world's biggest moving nightmare. I won't bore you with the details, but this weekend Dan and I finally moved into our new place! Now to unpack, put away, and get settled. Anyone want to help?

At the beginning of the spring I signed us up for a CSA which started at the beginning of June and well last week was really the first week we were actually able to make something with our veggies. And while, I didn't do the salad a day challenge like E, I was inspired to make this Kale, Apple, Pancetta salad adapted from Once Upon a Chef's recipe.

Kale Apple Pancetta Salad
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 ounces sliced pancetta, diced (I bought a package from Fresh Market that was already diced...thanks time saver!)
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup pancake syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 bunch of red onion stalks, sliced (CSA)
1 bunch kale, stems discarded, leaves shredded (CSA)
2 tart yet sweet apples, sliced
1 handful of pecans, toasted if desired


Combine the olive oil and pancetta in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until pancetta is golden and crispy. Strain the pan drippings into a small bowl and leave the crispy pancetta off to the side to cool. Add the apple cider vinegar, syrup, salt and pepper to the pan drippings and whisk well.


Combine the onion, kale, apples and pecans in a large bowl.  Garnish with crispy pancetta.


This made a LOT of salad, so I didn't toss in the dressing so that we could save the leftovers for lunch the next day. This is one of the best salads, with one of the tastiest vinaigrettes I've ever made! In fact, we got kale again from this week's CSA, but I'm going to try something different so I don't get burned out on the tastiness!

-Abbie

7.06.2012

Salad Challenge Conclusion!

Success!

I went one month eating a salad every.signal.day.

I mayyyy have blurred the lines with my breakfast grain salad, but I say it totally counts. Anything with quinoa in it counts.

But, whether it was a fruit salad, grain salad, side salad, full meal salad – whatever. I consciously made an effort to have one at least once a day since June 6th.

And now, here we are.

A month later.

I don’t really feel any different – but it was a good way to spice up my lunch time salads and get creative!

And BAM. One thing checked off my Summer Bucket List!

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