Monday, May 25, 2009

Shades of Green in the City

Alex and I managed to get out and explore quite a bit of the city this weekend. On Saturday, we made our way into Greenpoint, a neighborhood just north of Williamsburg for a BBQ Pub Crawl. This neighborhood is heavily Polish, and had a lot of fun little bars and shops. The pub crawl offered free food at each bar, and then discounted drinks as well. We managed to even find a new Alligator Bar (The place that gives free pizza with each beverage)!

On Sunday, we headed out to another new neighborhood in Brooklyn, Fort Greene, for the Dance Africa Street Bazaar. This was really interesting, and a fun carnival to see. I brought my camera, but didn't manage to take any pictures, we were doing lots of browsing of the great art and crafts and licking our fingers with tasty BBQ. It then started to rain, so we headed home. As we made our way out of the subway and back into Bushwick, we found our neighbors having a huge BBQ in our front yard. They invited us to join and we had a good time spending the evening speaking a little Spanish and enjoying a ton of tasty food!


Today although we were supposed to be on a rooftop in Tribeca, plans were canceled. We ended up heading into Central Park and had a great afternoon relaxing, throwing the frisbee, and enjoying the sun! I did manage to finally take some pictures today, it's so nice to enjoy some green now that it's summer in the city!

Leave Shadows




Monday, May 18, 2009

Lentil Walnut Burgers

Alex and I decided to go vegetarian tonight, and it was delicious! I personally think you can't really ever replace the juicy-ness of beef, however, as far as veggie burgers go, these were great! Infinitely better then the black bean veggie burgers I made previously and were much less time consuming. The flavor in these had just a little bit of spice and went really well with the yogurt sauce and some fresh avocado!

From Martha Stewart, Great Food Fast

3/4 C lentils
3/4 C chopped walnuts
1/3 C plain dried breadcrumbs
3 garlic cloves, pressed or finely chopped
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
1/4 - 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
4 TBS olive oil
1 large egg

Yogurt Sauce
3/4 C plain low fat yogurt
2 TBS chopped fresh cilantro
1 TBS fresh lemon juice

Coriander Seeds... which I couldn't really grind as I don't have a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder.

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Measure your lentils into a small saucepan and cover with water by about 1 inch. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce to a simmer. Cook until the lentils are tender and the water is pretty much gone. About 15 minutes or so.

2. While your cooking your lentils, spread the walnuts on a cookie sheet and bake for 5-10 miuntes to get them nice and toasty.

3. In a food processor, combine the walnuts, breadcrumbs, garlic, cumin, coriander, red pepper flakes and a little salt and pepper. Process until finely ground. Add the lentils and 1 TBS of olive oil. Pulse until coarsely chopped, you'll have some lentils that are still whole.


4. In a large bowl, whisk an egg, and then add the lentil mixture. Mix well. Divide the mixture into 4 equal parts, and make into patties.

5. Heat the rest of the olive oil in a skillet, add the burgers and cook over medium low heat until browned, 8-10 minutes.

For the Sauce:

Mix together all ingredients! Enjoy!



For the past couple of years Alex and I have had the tradition of placing a little bet on the March Madness tournament. Whoever wins the bracket gets breakfast in bed. I was never really into basketball. However, it turns out when you have something riding on the score, things are a little more fun. The one rule we have is that you are not allowed to look at any sort of statistics, sports websites, or anything of that sort before making your picks. (Mainly so I would stand a fighting chance). The first year, I cleaned up... Go Gators! However, the second, I barely lost, and this year, well, let's just say I wasn't exactly on target with my picks, even for the sweet 16, shoot.

So, Alex won a brunch, and yes, it's May, but I finally got around to making his winnings.

On to the food! I went back and forth and couldn't decide for awhile, but finally settled on the following:

Cheddar Dill Scones
Salmon Egg Scramble
Homemade Cinnamon Buns

First, the scones. I debated between berry scones and these more savory ones, but in the end figured the savory would go better with the eggs. These were really tasty, and for my first time making any sort of bread, they were pretty easy too!



I also decided I wanted to make cinnamon rolls. Alex and I used to eat the Pillsbury ones all the time, the kind that you pop out of the tube, but then I realized these were maybe the one food in the whole world that actually have trans fat. Seriously. And I thought it was just made up! I've been seeing all these tasty recipes on Pioneer Woman, but all of these required a. a stand mixer and b. lots of hours for the dough to rise. Hence, as I had neither, I was very excited to find The Kitchen Sink's recipe that called for fast and easy and no rise time or stand mixers!

These were super yummy, though I admit, I had trouble making them pretty looking. My dough didn't roll quite as well as I would have liked.


So, my buns weren't going to win any beauty contests. However, they tasted great!


Lastly, Alex loves seafood, salmon in particular. He'll always order the salmon if we go out, especially in egg scrambles for breakfast. So I figured I'd make some. I was going to get smoked salmon, but it wasn't available by us, so I just went with a regular filet and cooked it in the frying pan before adding the eggs. I also mixed in cream cheese, sliced tomatoes, and fresh dill. This worked out beautifully and went really well with the scones!


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Crockpot Chicken

This is a post I've been meaning to do for awhile, but haven't quite gotten around to. I've recently made my first ever whole chicken, and did so in the crockpot.

So easy! Both of these recipes were incredibly easy, made a ton of food, and had leftovers to make soup the next day that lasted two meals at least!

The first one was Lemon Rosemary Chicken from 365 Crockpot.

Sorry, point and shoot camera.

This was good, however, I'd say it was too lemon-y for me. The lemon also made the soup I made with the leftovers have a somewhat funky flavor. Alex liked it better then the second recipe, but I don't think I'd make this again.

The second chicken was made up by me.

One whole chicken, rinsed and cleaned.
1-2 onions, chopped
A handful of chopped celery
A bunch of garlic cloves
A splash of chicken broth
A little melted butter
All the spices you like: garlic powder, sea salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, paprika, rosemary, oregano, etc.


Chop the onions and celery and place them on the bottom of your crockpot. Place the chicken on top of the onion. Brush with some melted butter. Stuff your chicken with some onion and a bunch of garlic cloves. Also stick garlic cloves where ever you can stick them on the bird. Splash just a bit of chicken broth, sprinkle the bird with your favorite spices. Cook on low for 8ish hours. Done!



The next day, take your leftover meat, minus the bones, and create a fabulous stew. This can be done on the stove top or in the crockpot. I made ours with the chicken meat, lentils, some rice, chopped carrots, celery, potatoes, and corn. Cover with about 3/4 broth - 2/3 broth and some water.


Add spices such as garlic, oregano, and a little sea salt, whatever makes you happy. Simmer until the vegetables are cooked through, or in the crockpot on low for until you get home. Yum!


Pad Thai


So, I needed to make my new dish for the week, and on Saturday we got all excited about making Pad Thai. I've fumbled around making stir fry before, but have never actually attempted Pad Thai, a dish we ate nearly every day on our adventure in Thailand a few years ago. I made a list and off to the grocery store we went. Alas, apparently, though you can find rare Honduran cheese and crazy spices, any and all sorts of dried chilies, Mexican Papaya the size of your head and yucca in our grocery store, you can not find rice noodles. Crap. Alas, Pad Thai was not to be had.

Luckily, I made it out to Manhattan on Sunday for a super awesome BBQ and was able to stop by a Whole Foods to pick some up. Monday night, the Pad Thai was on.

Now, there literally endless Pad Thai recipes, as Erin recently noted. I was really excited to use the cookbook we received in Thailand from the cooking class we took in Chang Mai. However, the directions, being loosely translated from Thai were not quite as clear as one would like. So, I used a combination of that book, The Thai Everything Cookbook, and good old Martha, Great Food Fast.

Yes, that is my name apparently written in Thai.


We made our Pad Thai with shrimp and tofu, and it was mighty tasty. A little spicy, but the spice somehow lessened when I had it for lunch today, I have no idea why.

Shrimp Tofu Pad Thai

3-6 Garlic Cloves, presses
1 Shallot, chopped
1/2 box of rice noodles
1/4 C Shiracha (sp?) sauce (tomato based chile sauce), this was spicy, so add less if you don't want heat.
2 TBS Fish Sauce
2 TBS Light Brown Sugar
Juice from 1 lime, plus more for garnish
1/2 package of Trader Joes cooked shrimp
1/4ish package of Tofu, cut into small pieces
1 egg
A good handful of bean sprouts
6-8 Scallions, chopped
1/2 C or so of chopped peanuts

Let your noodles soak in room temperature water for at least 30 minutes.

In a wok, heat a TBS or 2 of oil add garlic and shallots, saute until fragrant. Add the shrimp to warm through if frozen. Add tofu. Stir fry a few minutes. Transfer to a separate plate.

Alex was excited about taking action shots.

In a bowl, combine chili sauce, lime juice, fish sauce, and brown sugar. Add to the wok with your pre-soaked noodles. Stir fry until noodles become soft. Add your shrimp and tofu mixture back in. Cook another few minutes. Then add your peanuts, then bean sprouts, then scallions. Add your lightly beaten egg, cook until the egg is cooked, then serve. Garnish with more bean sprouts and a wedge or two of lime.


Monday, May 4, 2009

DC and Alexandria

I've made it to week 3 of the new job! I have to say, things are good, but overwhelming. I don't think I've ever been kept quite so busy, but I'm learning lots, which is always good.

In my first week, after only two days in the office, I was sent off to a conference in Alexandria, Virginia, just outside of DC. After taking the train from New York, which by the way, was highly awesome, I dropped off my bags at the hotel and took the metro back into Washington to take some photos and enjoy the afternoon, as the conference didn't start until Thursday. I only brought my 18-200, but still had a good time taking a few shots.




I hadn't been to DC since my eighth grade class trip, I remember parts but not too much. Everything was in bloom or super green and it was beautiful. A nice change from New York. (Though now NYC is nicely green!)







After my monument afternoon, the next days were packed with conference. Lots of lectures, and acronyms, and learning about things I only sort of understood. However, I did get to meet people from all over the country which was great! And, in the evenings and in the mornings when I went running, I got to explore old town Alexandria, which was adorable. Cobblestone streets, cute little shops, and lots of quaint little restaurants. I loved it.








I like the Ethiopian craft store behind the fine art boutique.


Why is there a horse in a truck? We have no idea.


And finally, if anyone can tell me what "Kiss and Ride" is, that would be much appreciated. :-)

Upon returning, Alex and I went out to celebrate the new employment at a place called Tree. I have to say, one of my favorite places we've hit in the city thus far. It was nice enough to sit out in their garden (NYC places have "gardens" rather then patios.) We had appetizers of mussels and a beautiful salad, and then both had the salmon over potato polenta with goat cheese and some mixed greens. It was delicious! We also found out that they have a 3 course tasting menu for $25 every night from 5-7, too bad we had reservations for 8pm! Shoot! Next time for sure.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Carrot Cupcakes

Adapted from Great Food Fast, Martha Stewart

1 3/4 C Shredded Coconut
1 C Sugar
1/3 C Vegetable Oil
2 TBS orange juice
1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
2 large eggs
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp all spice
3/4 C plus 2 TBS flour
1 1/2 C shredded carrots
1/2 C walnuts


8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
3/4 C powdered sugar (I added WAY more then this)
1/4 tsp vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine sugar, oil, orange juice, vanilla, and eggs. Stir in the baking powder, baking soda, and all spice. Add the flour, mix. Stir in the carrots and walnuts, and the coconut.

Line muffin tin with paper liners and distribute the batter evenly.

Baking about 25 minutes.

For the icing:
In a mixing bowl, beat the ingredients together until smooth.

Carrot Cupcakes

I'd have to give these a pretty good. I'm afraid to say it, but the frosting just didn't do it for me. I know it's awful, but I loved canned cream cheese frosting, and the homemade, well, just wasn't the same. I think it's the one processed food I can't give up.

Chicken Pesto Pizza

I was excited about this recipe for Chicken Pesto Pizza as soon as I saw it on Annie's Eats blog. I decided to whip this up for Saturday dinner, and it turned out great!

However, I have to note, I was all excited to try and make pizza dough, I had even bought the yeast and the bread flour and everything. Then, when I decided to make dinner on Saturday night, I realized making the dough was going to take at least 2 more hours. I was hungry NOW! So, alas, this was made with Trader Joe's pizza dough. Shoot. Next time, I promise. Though all the dough recipes I'm finding call for a stand mixer, which I lack. We'll have to see how this works out.

Before Baking.




Some notes:

I didn't follow Annie's recipe exactly. First, I clearly didn't make my own crust. Second, I subbed in plum tomatoes for cherry ones, and made my own version of pesto. I never actually follow a recipe for pesto, I throw some fresh basil, a clove of garlic or two, some olive oil, and parmesan cheese in a food processor and blend until smooth. I never have pine nuts, so I don't use them, I really don't think you can tell the difference.


I needed to make two recipes this week to make up for last week, as being in Washington DC didn't really allow for cooking. The first one I tried was copied from Erin, Risotto with Sausage and Mustard Greens.

This looked super tasty, and I had never made risotto before, so I figured I should give it a shot. This was fairly easy to make, it was just time consuming. The recipe says 25 minutes total, but I'm going to have to say that's a lie. I was stirring for over a half hour for sure.

My pretty greens.


The recipe called for wine, so I might as well have some while I'm at it.


The Finished Product.

Overall, this risotto was really tasty. However, for my taste, it was too rich to eat as a meal on its own. I would have it again as a side dish for sure, but not for meal. Alex, however, never understanding what I mean by "too rich", had two bowls full! :-)