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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Kid Food?!

Bread Crumb Pasta (recipe below)

I must admit, I hardly ever make meals for anyone under the legal drinking age - so when it comes to cooking for kids (+ their parents) I get a little perturbed - especially since my own mother wasn't the best cook in the world (sorry for calling you out Mom, I loved the Kraft Mac & Cheese, hot-dogs, and can corn...and it only took me 20yrs to get over my aversion to curry, tomato juice, and dark meat chicken, lol).

It took me a couple weeks to come up with an appropriate menu for my sis & her family, but what I managed to come up with went over pretty well (I even snuck anchovies into the pasta, and no one tossed their cookies).

On the menu (this was over a couple of days):

mac & cheese (recipe here)
 Note: I took out the mustard powder & hot sauce and it still tasted delic!

Chicken Wings
(tossed with garlic powder, salt, pepper, & olive oil and then baked at 365 for 1hr - I basted with a chipotle honey bbq sauce 55 minutes in)

Simple Green Salad w/Honey Garlic Vinaigrette
Note: I used olive oil instead of vegetable oil.  Also - you can cut the recipe in half and will still have enough dressing for a large salad.

Bread Crumb Pasta (pictured above)
(from The Food of Southern Italy, Carlo Middione, 1987)

Not pictured:  Chicken Katsu (+ red rice, courtesy of my sis)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Emerson Made & the Shopping Diet

I've been salivating over the Spring releases from Emerson Made and if I wasn't going on a darn shopping diet (more on this below) I'd be tempted to scoop a couple items asap.

Some of my favs:

Sigh.  Lust.

Anyhoo, on this self imposed shopping diet (mentioned above, a light version of the one my friend Leigh did) I am not allowed to:

Purchase any apparel, shoe, or accessory for myself for one month (Feb 1 - 28).  Conveniently I picked the shortest month of the year.  Also a month when I'm going to be out of the country for 1 wk +.

But I am allowed to (this is a psychological ploy - so I won't feel so restricted):

Spend money on personal care (haircuts, pedicures, massages, beauty products)

Purchase entertainment items (e.g.  books on my kindle)

Buy gifts for others


Unsubscribe to superfluous retail email lists

Stop browsing shopping websites

Clean out/re-org closet

If I'm desperate:

I have to go to a physical store to buy the item (which possibly may even mean paying full price, gasp!)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Tom Yum Gai (Hot and Sour Soup with Chicken)

I was proud of myself after I made this soup.

Corny, and a little weird, I know - but I went a little rogue when I made this dish (don't tell Ed) and it turned out GREAT!

What you need:

2 stalks lemongrass, cut into 2 inch pieces and whacked a couple times with the back of your knife (to release the flavor)

4 c chicken broth

2 c water

3 tbsp.  tum yum paste (find it in the Asian food aisle)

1 chicken breast (grilled or rotisserie) thinly sliced

1 c shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced

2 small tomatoes, roughly chopped 

1 lime (juice half, slice the other for garnish)


optional: Thai chilies

Instructions:  Combine the first three ingredients and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat slightly and add the tum yum paste, stirring to combine.  Add the next 3 ingredients and heat through.  Garnish with lime slices and cilantro.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Homemade Granola

Even though I have a TON of recipes queued up, I had to post this one for Homemade Granola (inspiration here, recipe here), even though I just whipped it up last night.

The recipe is incredible versatile (add the dried fruit, nuts, and flavoring that YOU like) and super yummy.

I made coconut/walnut/almond/cranberry granola.  I added a couple shakes of cinnamon to the dry ingredients and a teaspoon of vanilla to the wet ingredients before combining.

I don't think I'll ever buy pre-made granola again!

finished product!

(held up well in my milk this morning)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Grilled Baby Octopus with Roasted Peppers and Potatoes

Dear readers,

I fully realize the dish above (Grilled Baby Octopus w/Roasted Red Peppers and Potatoes) kinda' looks like something an alien might eat or the little octopi may remind you of spiders (shiver).

However, once you get over the baby octopus thing, the dish is fantastic.  After simmering in olive oil and a quick grill - the octopus has the texture of tender chicken, and the potato/red pepper salad is the perfect accompaniment.

If you want to trim a few minutes off your prep time, use roasted red peppers in a jar instead of roasting your own.  Also - if you can't find baby octopus at your regular grocery store, try an Asian market.  We picked ours up at Lam's (which I wrote about in the post below).

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Tofu Banh Mi

Photo: Randy Mayor; Styling: Cindy Barr

On Saturday Ed and I went to Lam's Seafood Market in the International District, and while Ed perused the seafood (some of which I had never seen before) I went a little bit crazy in their grocery aisles.

I mean - who can resist $1 rice noodles and $2 pressed tofu!  They had TAMARIND PODS for goodness sake!  Exciting! (well - for me)

Needless to say - we're going to be eating Asian food all week.

Last night I made yummy Tofu Banh Mi sandwiches (pictured above - hopefully Cooking Light doesn't sue me for using their photo - I forgot to take one of my own).

I used already pressed tofu, which saved me 30 minutes of waiting, and put chili-garlic sauce on the bread to give it a little extra kick.  Helpful tip: watch your broiling bread like a HAWK.  Mine got a little black around the edges in only a minute.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Yes - I AM a neurotic planner

The hubby and my Caribbean vacation is still about a month away - but I've already planned the heck out of it.

Yes, "My name is Calina and I'm a neurotic planner."  There - I said it.

I, much to my chagrin, am not a "fly by the seat of your pants" type of person.  I love to travel and I love adventure but only if its well planned out, otherwise it makes me irritable, anxious, and not fun to be around.

Sigh - I wish I was more exciting.

So far our trip looks like this:

Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas:   Yacht/sailboat charter (4hrs)
Philipsburg, St. Maarten:   Take a taxi to Orient Beach (20 min ride)
St. Johns, Antigua:   Hired driver (Gordon) to take us to Valley Church Beach
Castries, St. Lucia:   Hired tour guide, will spend 1-2hrs at beach 
Bridgetown, Barbados:   Take taxi or walk to Carlisle Bay

Oh - and I've already started making my packing list (click on the set below for details):


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The perturbing turnip

Turnips can be perturbing little buggers - but once you figure out what to do with them, they are utterly wonderful.

Okay - maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration (the "wonderful" part), but they are a tasty low-carb alternative to potatoes.
To make the pureed turnip dish pictured below - I put two large/diced turnips in a sauce pan with rosemary and two smashed garlic cloves, covered with vegetable stock, and boiled until tender.  I then drained, removed the rosemary, pureed in a food processor with a little milk/butter/salt, and drizzled truffle oil on top.

Note: if you want to reduce your turnips' bitter factor - boil in milk or add a potato to the pot (remove before pureeing - the starch will soak up some of the bitterness).  Also - add more or less milk to your pureed mixture to take it from a mashed to soup like consistency.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Body Heat

Oh yes, once upon a time Kathleen Turner was HOT and not opposed to showing her breasts on film - especially if it served the purpose of furthering a story line about a femme fatale who convinces her lover (a small town lawyer) to off her rich yet inconvenient husband.  The movie, Body Heat, is set in humid/sweltering Florida.  There is a lot of sweating, fanning, taking of ice-cube baths in black bathtubs, and illicit sex.

It's the perfect movie to watch when your glued to the couch and somewhat delirious due to illness.

Another thing I noted about the movie, between coughs, is that the fashion (Kathleen Turner's) is pretty great.  A lot of tailored white clothing with splashes of scarlet.  It left me inspired.  The red skirt in the set below should arrive on my doorstep any day now....

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Happy New Year!

I took an unexpected hiatus from blogging due to a lovely cold that caught a hold of me Christmas Eve (and lingered, and lingered, and lingered) - but I'm back, and almost healthy.

Last night Ed took pity on me (or maybe he's just tired of my coughing?) and whipped a batch of Thai Chicken and Rice Soup.  It must have been miracle soup b/c I slept through the night for the first time in a week.

If you decide to try out this recipe and like a bit of spice - try adding a Thai chili.  The soup also needs a bit of extra saltiness (soy sauce or sea salt) to kick it up a notch.