Thursday, June 27, 2013

Celebration Drink

School's out for the summer! Well at least for three weeks! Here is a quick drink to celebrate.
What's in the fridge
-one lime
-Santa Cruz Strawberry Lemonade
-Frozen fruit (Mango, Strawberry, Pineapple and Papaya mix)

In the milkshake tumbler goes the peeled lime, a splash of strawberry lemonade, handful of frozen fruit and some tequila to celebrate. Since I find the strawberry lemonade very sweet I add some water, I usually add sparkling for a nice kick but we are out so tonight tap will do (I'm in a hurry to celebrate). I blend it all in the tumbler with the immersion blender and serve it in a fancy glass. Sláinte!
Cheers to Summer! 

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Fresh Herbs

Dinner Tuesday June 18th.
I often will make a dinner around just one ingredient in the fridge. Tonight that would be the fresh herbs from the farmer's market; Italian Parsley, Tarragon,  and Lemon Balm. After some "research" on Pinterest I see that tarragon is used a lot in vinaigrettes and in chicken salads. I'm going to run with that idea and see what I have to make it happen.

What's in the fridge for the vinaigrette:
-Artichoke hearts in oil

These all go into a little mini chopper, or chop master, and come out as an amazing fragrant lemony, garlic herb paste. Tempted to eat it with a spoon.
I don't have chicken so I'm going to have to substitute tofu.
What's in the fridge for the tofu salad:
-Little less than one cup of quiona (the last bit in a bag)

I cook the quiona and do a quick sauté on the tofu to give it a crunchy crust. As these are cooking I cut up the tomato and cucumber into a large bowl. When done they get added to the bowl and the herb paste goes on top. I let it sit in the fridge for about 30 min to get the flavors to meld and for the tofu and the quiona to soak it all up.

While it's melding I'm going to make a green salad to have with the herb tofu quiona.
What's in the fridge for the green salad.
-Lettuce, Spinach and Radishes from the farmer's market.
-Pear rescued from left over school lunches
-Blue cheese
-Last few olives in the jar

At this point it is just a matter of chopping, plating and assembling the two salads together. It is hard to make a bad salad with fresh local produce and to keep these veggies in the staring role I do a simple squeeze of lemon and dash white balsamic as dressing.
Totally blown away at the beauty of these radishes. 
The tofu took on the flavors of the herb paste and the slight crunch of the quiona and the cucumbers add a nice texture to the dish.  The lemon flavor from the balm ties in with the greens and the light flavor or parsley is in every bite. The radishes and thinly cut white onions are spicy but are balanced out by the pear, olives and the blue cheese. This dinner makes me happy.
P paired his dinner with Loser Pale Ale from Elysian Brewing Co


Some weekdays I get really ambitious with dinner. This was not one of those nights. Tonight I don't want to spend more than 30 minutes making dinner.  I know we have veggies from the farmers market but I have been having salads for lunch all week (yeah me!) and I want to make something more substantial for dinner.

What I have in the fridge.
-Spinach from the farmers market
-Artichoke hearts
-Salad greens from farmers market
-Half a mango
- Package of Shirataki Tofu noodles. P loves these. They don't really taste like real pasta, and you need to rinse them out of the package to get the, well...the slight fish smell off them when they come out of the package. Wow, I'm really selling these! I too was a bit apprehensive the first time we had them, but I powered through and followed the suggestions to rinse and then micro them for a few seconds and low and behold they are pretty tasty as a pasta subsitute! I would definitely recommend them to anyone who has walked by them in the store and said, "wonder what these are like?"
For some reason I always get "Fettuccine" style
So those are the ingredients I have tonight along with about 26 more minutes of kitchen time. I use some of the oil the artichoke hearts are packed in to sauté some onion and garlic. When the onions are soft I add in the "pasta", and let it soak up some of flavor of the hot oil.
We have a wonderful friend who takes us to Costco
I'm going for a fresh veggie "pasta" dish, so I add in the tomato, spinach and artichoke hearts right at the end and only keep them on the heat for a few minutes to just warm them and not cook them all the way. I finish it off with a dash of salt and pepper

P was helping with Dale
My fresh veggie "pasta" is served with a green salad topped with mango. The "pasta" has a nice light sauce from some of the spinach and tomato liquid cooking off and mixing with the garlic onion oil and the artichokes add a nice acid balance. I always love a green salad on the side and the mango is a sweet treat. Best part is it only took about 20 minutes for dinner.
Caught in the act. 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Farmer's Market

Lippis Farm at the OCC Farmer's Market. 
One of my most favorite things is the Farmer's Market here on Saturdays. Since we had snow in May and last week was almost 100 degrees, combined with no rain, there is only one guy that has actual produce, but he is my favorite, organic, family owned, wonderful, local guy, so I am very happy. So far they have lettuce, spinach, radishes, baby beets, herbs and eggs (though I don't get there early enough for the eggs) and it is all amazing. I got a bit of everything and am super excited to see what it becomes in the kitchen. I see green salads, green smoothies, grain salads, pasta dishes, oh my! Last week I got some of their lemon balm and have been experimenting with it. Putting herbs in a simple green salad or quinoa dish tastes like summer to me. This week they had more herbs, so I went out on a limb and got some tarragon as well, I have no idea where it is going to end up and I don't think I have every used it.
Got a bit of everything 
lemon balm, tarragon, parsley, 

P is gone this weekend at a race in NH, so I was making a quick lunch for one. I have read and seen that one way to serve radishes is with butter and salt. I'm fully aware that butter makes everything taste better, but I'm a bit apprehensive about spreading it on a radish like its a piece of toast. I stay with the idea of serving something fatty and creamy to balance the spice of the radish and I go with blue cheese instead. If I'm going to have fat, let it be fat that I like.  Lunch is a farmers market salad, with blue cheese, some left over potato salad (made with last week's lemon balm and let over corn on the cob) and a simple open faced tomato grilled cheese.
Lunch for one. 

Saturday, June 15, 2013

I don't think I even know what buttermilk is

Thursday June 6th, 2013

Last weekend we celebrated a friend's birthday and I decided to make a cake that I have had success with in the past. I mentioned before that I don't consider myself a baker, there is no mystery behind this.
Baking is a science of proportions and I am awful at following recipes, I usually half (or even quarter) the called for amount of butter and sugar, and will substitute in some whole wheat flour. All this ends up with baked goods that taste what P calls "ropey", in that is tastes a bit like rope, but in a healthy, hippy way (those who came P's birthday will remember the ropey carrot cake).
I discovered a cake in Bon Appetit that does well with my changes and still tasted like cake. I did end up substituting most of the butter with a banana so it is now a spice banana cake. The recipe calls for buttermilk, but not for the whole carton so there was some left over in the fridge after the party and it needed to be used.

What do I do with buttermilk? Pancakes for dinner!!! Along with the buttermilk, I still don't know what it is besides a dairy product, there were also a few oranges that were embarrassingly suspicious. The orange peel had turned hard, I'm going to blame this on the dry climate. While I've been ignoring them when I make lunches,  I took a chance tonight and did some investigation, fully prepared to compost them if needed, but to my surprise the fruit was still juicy and sweet.
What's in the fridge: buttermilk, hippy pancake mix, almond extract, allspice, crispy orange. 
I break out the hippy pancake mix, pour some in the mixing bowl, measuring be dammed, I am just going to eyeball this. I have a general idea of what pancake batter looks like so I add the buttermilk and more mix until it looks like enough to make about 6 pancakes. I squeeze in one of the oranges and some almond extract. In my mind oranges and almonds go well together.  As I'm mixing the fragrance of these two is amazing, sweet and fruity. It gets finished off with a dash of allspice. I have no idea why I have allspice but I ran out of cinnamon and the look pretty much the same so in it goes.
our "greens" for tonight. 

To top the pancakes I am going to raid the fruit bowl to make a salad. Since this is a veggie free meal I need to add in something fresh. There are a few strawberries left over from the birthday cake making and a mango that is perfectly ripe, my crispy oranges and an apple rescued from the teacher's lounge at school.

The batter goes in, a few get treated with some frozen blueberries from the freezer. The orange and almond fragrance are filling up the kitchen and we are getting very hungry!  And what is pancakes with out maple syrup? Well, good thing we have some VT Gold, handmade at 45 Markham Road.
Testing the sap in Dad's sugar house

Tapping Trees

The reason I rarely order pancakes out is because I'm a maple syrup snob, only the real stuff for me. The final product also gets topped with some almond butter and served with a beer. Beer and Pancakes?! P wouldn't have it any other way. Over all this one was a success and I am happy that I was able to use up two ingredients, the buttermilk and the oranges, before they started growing things.
Pancakes don't photograph well, but they taste great! 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Does Adding Cucumbers Make it Healthy?

A bit of a blast from the past on this one. GZ and I were enjoying our first day of May break, and decided to make a yummy drink. Into the jars went some frozen strawberries, mangos, pineapples, and papaya (all from a mix), half a fresh lime, some cucumbers and celery, to keep it healthy as GZ claimed.
Blend it in the jar with my amazing awesome immersion blender, finish it off with a splash of coconut milk, left over from a curry dinner, and tequila to taste. Serve with a straw, post run, on the porch, with a good friend, and a cuddly gato. I would call this a win.
After. A huge success.

Hit up the freezer

Wednesday June 5th.
Last night was a typical night for me. I came home from the gym with no idea what to make for dinner and soon found out that we were low on veggies (veggies make up about 80% of what we eat). So to the freezer I went! I had some tofu that I had purchased during the day for lunch at work, so I new that would somehow be incorporated. While in the freezer and fridge this is what I found:

-Huge bag (started at about 5 lbs, now it is down to about 2 lbs) of broccoli rescued from school after the lunch staff left it for teachers.
-Bag of collard greens that were thrown into the freezer two weeks ago about a day before they went bad in the fridge
-Frozen miso soup we did not eat for dinner last week (about a cup and a half)

-3 radishes
-Soy sauce
-Shriveled piece of ginger (still good?)
-Napa Cabbage

-White Onion
-Salt and garlic powder
-nutritional yeast
-balsamic vinegar
-1/3 of a bag of soba noodles

Looks like I am making something Asian? I'm really not excited about this because most of my stir fry type dinner turn into a soy sauce mush. I am almost considering ordering Thai food. However,  I am going to try something slightly different in that I want to use the miso broth to make a "sauce/soup" instead of a full blown stir fry. Here goes.

Time to work. The frozen broccoli, collard greens and the onions go into a sauté pan, the broth into the micro to defrost. The tofu is cut into triangles and sent to the toaster oven with some soy, balsamic (just enough to cover it) with some salt, garlic and nutritional yeast sprinkled on top, for what I hope will be a crispy treat (it did not turn out that way, but the flavor was still there). The defrosted broth went into the pan with the veggies. The soba noodles went in to cook in this "soup" and embrace some of the flavor. The ginger was grated in at the end and still had a ton of great spice left in it to give the dish a bite.

When the noodles were done I spooned the soba soup on the bottom of a bowl, topped it with the raw napa cabbage, the radishes and finished it off with the tofu. Overall dinner was a success, Peter chose to add the left over ear of corn. I think I will try this again over a traditional stir fry. I am also really happy I used up the radishes and ginger that kept speaking to me every time I opened the fridge.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

What's in My Fridge?

How all this got started.
I love to cook. I love to eat. I don't really follow recipes, but I love to get ideas from cookbooks. I hate to waste food. I love a good deal. I am really bad at baking. I'm good at salads. Most of my food turns out pretty well, the rest, well I hate to waste food so we eat it.

Traveling around Europe for 9 months and staying in hostels I became a master at raiding the free shelf and coming up with creative and tasty meals. I would love to have a cooking show based off this, where P and I travel the world hitting up hostels, show the amazing cities out there and I then make stunning meal off the free shelf. Since the food network is not knocking down my door, P created this blog for me as a birthday present.

Most of my meals are based of the random food I have around the house. I very rarely shop for ingredients to make a specific recipe, so I often substitute ingredients and do the best with what I have. Read on to see what adventurous creations come out of whatever's in Nora's fridge.