Monday, January 17, 2011

Kitchen sink pasta

This past weekend I finally got to see my brother play hockey at his home rink at the Academy, in Colorado Springs. Unluckily, our flight got delayed by four hours coming home. I really needed to go grocery shopping, so by the time I was headed for home, I was hungry and unwilling to cook. Sadly for me, it was about 9 p.m. on a Sunday. Nothing was open (which we learned the hard way... driving from place to place).

So, a quick peek at the pantry staples turned up a few things I was pleasantly surprised to find and threw together to make the following dinner.

When I saw my pasta (I found this in a bag in the back of my cupboard.... my pasta supply dangerously low), I felt like I was living out Adam Robert's recent "Weary Traveler's Spaghetti" post. I dressed the pasta with a little oil and some chili flakes.

With the water from the pasta, I blanched a couple handfuls of spinach:

And defrosted a some frozen shrimp from Trader Joe's:

I also found a half jar of pasta sauce in my fridge. The shrimp and sauce were lucky finds. I probably would have used diced tomatoes out of a can otherwise.

All of that, paired with some leftover Italian pesto bread I found in the freezer made for a perfect late night dinner after a long, and fairly crappy, day.

So, no... this didn't turn out to be an "everything but the kitchen sink" dinner. It's actually something I would probably make again. I tried to throw chop up some zucchini to toss in, but after a long weekend and then some, it was feeling a little squishy and funky. Fresh vegetables are NOT a pantry staple when you haven't grocery shopped in a couple weeks.

Friday, January 7, 2011

#LetsLunch: Healthy recipes for 2011 (January)

After really falling off the bus and going a little treat crazy following Thanksgiving, I'm definitely ready for some focus in 2011 on my eating and exercising.

Last year was a great start -- I really learned how to lose weight for the first time. When I went to the gym 5 days a week, tracked calories and drank 1 liter+ of water a day, I lost weight. Regularly. In all, I lost 20 lbs last year (net loss, only 14 lbs, after having to re-lose 6 lbs when we moved).

So, I was excited to land on the theme of "healthy recipes for the new year" for this month's #LetsLunch.

#letslunch is a monthly "gathering" of food-loving writers from all over, hosted by Cheryl Tan, of A Tiger In The Kitchen.

We agree on a date and a theme, then each blogger presents his or her recipe on the chosen date (today).

If you are interested in joining, please send a Tweet using the hashtag and introduce yourself!

I made a dish from my friend Thea today. She's been dating my brother for about six years now, and we made this together last month for my mom's birthday.

Thea's Quinoa with Veggies Salad:


I made the quinoa salad yesterday for an office potluck -- at the office. I started the quinoa in the rice cooker, and prepped the veggies while it cooked. This is 2 cups of pre-rinsed quinoa and a quart of low sodium chicken stock.

About 1 teaspoon of salt and powdered garlic (don't judge me.... I was doing this in an office kitchen. Thea used real garlic -- about 2 cloves)

Then let the rice cooker work its magic.

Next, grab your veggies. I used two bright bell peppers and 1 1/2 zucchinis. Thea also uses asparagus, which I'm not a big eater of, so I skipped it here.

If you're cooking at home, dice the veggies and pan fry with the garlic, maybe a little onion until tender.

If you're cooking in an office kitchen, grab the Foreman (yes, we keep a Foreman Grill in our kitchen at work), slice the veggies and grill them.

Toss your grilled and diced veggies with the cooked quinoa, season with some smoked paprika, freshly cracked pepper, fresh chopped parsley and feta cheese. This recipe makes a pretty large bowl-ful!

Check out everyone else's offerings below:

Linda's Mesquite Date Muffins at Free Range Cookies
Steff's Frittata attempt at The Kitchen Trials
Cheryl's Watercress soup at A Tiger In The Kitchen
Mai's Spicy Roasted Cauliflower at Cooking In The Fruit Bowl

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Sopes, a first attempt

I recently picked up a small sack of masa corn flour thinking I would try to expand my cooking horizons a bit. Pupusas maybe, or after seeing a few recipes posted on blogs I frequent, sopes.

So, I consulted Serious Eats, The Kitchn, and Googled for another recipe.

Shaping them turned out to be the most difficult part. The dough was easy enough (although, I suspect it would have benefited from resting a bit)

Little guy on the griddle, getting warm on both sides.

When hand shaping didn't seem to stick, I tried pushing them into muffin tins, or shaping them around little sauce bowls. Mostly this worked, but a few tore and had little holes in them.

The other issues is that I've never actually had a properly constructed sope, so I had little to go on.

But, there they are, after being warmed, shaped and fried on the bottoms. Not too bad for a first attempt...

The final product, black beans, carnitas, a little cheese, cilantro, salsa and avocado.

This was also the first time I had made my own black beans (from dried beans). This took way longer than I expected but they were super delicious with a little tequila and lime mixed in.

I think I will definitely try these again, but if anyone has made these with any success or has tips, please let me know!!!

Sopes dough: I used the recipe on the back of the bag (but about 1:1 masa to water + pinch of salt).

Carnitas: slow cook pork (I actually oven roasted this one, because they were already sliced) with garlic, onions and cumin. Pull apart and chop into small pieces.

Salsa: 1 large can of tomatoes, drained, + garlic, onion, sugar, splash of vinegar, cumin, jalapeno in a food processor. Chill before serving

Black beans: soak beans over night, cook for 1-2 hours in a crock or large sauce pan. Smash about 3/4 of the beans (I used a mortar and pestle), then stir in about 1/3 cup tequila, salt to taste and squeeze 1-2 limes over. Continue cooking until soft.