Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 Wrap Up

Well here I am, wrapping up another year. And this, my friends, has been a hell of a year. My personal life has been filled with ups and downs, good and bad. I've gone through enormous life changes, almost all for the better. This was my building block year. I got a lot of things straightened out that should make for happier times moving forward.

The biggest things that happened to me this year:

I ran my first 5K and 10K.

I bought my first ever new car.

I lost two friends way too young.

I had three surgeries.

My heart got broken.

My heart got better.

I learned how to Snowboard.

I became friends with Lindsay, Danny, Dani and Meredith... fantastic additions to my life.

I hugged all my parents without going to England.

I met and passed my goal weight.

I reconnected with Dana.

I became a happy, healthy person.

I cooked. I wrote. I lived.

This year I created a lot of recipes that I am delighted to have in my repertoire. I've learned a lot in the kitchen and I'm really working on building my food legacy in a strong strong way. So with that in mind, here are my personal favorite recipes from this year.

Thanks for being here. Sometimes I feel like I'm writing out into an invisible void, but I know you're out there somewhere.



And next year? Well.... next year is going to be really really interesting. I've got a big project that I'll get to share soon. I can't wait!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Vegetable Stir Fry with Peanut Sauce

A long time ago I went to college with a guy named Jeff. We were friendly and I think he might have worked with me on the school newspaper for a while. At some point, we lost touch and then a couple of years later we reconnected for a short time. I don't remember a whole lot about how long we were friends for or why we stopped hanging out. What I do remember is that one time I went to his apartment and he made me stir fry and it was amazing.

That's the weird thing about food. It's such a tie to memory and people. I remember so well Jeff pottering around his tiny kitchen in Atlanta making this dish, splashing in a bit of this and a bit of that. It was the first time I'd ever seen anyone cook with rice wine vinegar. The first time I think I saw anyone cook with snow peas. It was a really delicious meal, the sauce accents the flavor of the peppers really well and the vinegar makes it bright and tangy. The peppers have just a little extra crunch, the mushrooms are sumptuous and rich, and the snow peas are bright, green and fresh.

I made this stir fry a lot more often when I was vegetarian. I still default back to it though, when I'm craving something warm and fresh and tangy. Normally I would make my own peanut sauce, but I've found that store bought is really really good in this dish and has the perfect balance. You can find it in the Asian section in the grocery store.

Vegetable Stir Fry with Peanut Sauce

1 Red Bell Pepper, cut into strips
1 Green Bell Pepper, cut into strips
6 White Mushrooms, sliced
1/4 Cup of Snow Peas
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon Rice Wine Vinegar
3 Tablespoons Peanut Sauce

Warm up the olive oil in a large frying pan or a wok if you have one. Make sure it gets nice and hot, then add the peppers. Add half the rice wine vinegar and saute for a couple of minutes. Add the mushrooms and stir around until the peppers are starting to get a little bit of color on them. You want them to stay a bit crispy. Add the snow peas and the rest of the rice wine vinegar and saute two more minutes. Add the peanut sauce and stir until warmed through.

Serve with rice and build a memory with an old friend. 

Makes 2 servings.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


Y'all, that was awesome. Seriously.

In the last two weeks, I have traveled 10, 232 miles. I have been on four airplanes. I have seen pink sand in the Caribbean, Christmas trees in Bryant Park New York, and learned how to Snowboard in Utah.

I've caught up with old friends, hugged my family, missed a play, and gone on my first trip with my boyfriend.

I've had bad lobster, drunk champagne five days in a row, ordered room service, and eaten snow.

I've had a really really lovely vacation. I needed it, and I'm glad I went. I'm rested and ready for whatever comes next.

I have no good food pictures, because honestly I didn't have anything revelatory in the food department (except for some damn good barbecue chicken which I have no evidence of). But I've got some pretty pictures and I thought I'd share a few.

Pink sand in Barbuda. It's pink due to all the little shells. My mother did the hand modeling.

 Sunset, Mamora Beach, Antigua.

Sunset, Shirley Heights, Antigua. Overlooking English Harbor. Amazing barbecue here every Sunday.

The view from my balcony, St James Club, Antigua. Where I would curl up in the afternoon with a book and a cup of coffee.

Bryant Park, New York. A quick stopover to say hi to my friends Danny and Meredith. We walked around and drank Strawberry Hot Chocolate and then I taught Meredith how to knit.

Sunrise, Arizona (possibly Nevada). First trip away with my guy. We left Las Vegas at 6am to go to Brian Head, Utah. 

The view from the top of the mountain in Brian Head. I learned how to Snowboard. I've got a lot more learning to do, but I loved it. We stayed overnight and it was absolutely gorgeous and wonderful.

The whole two weeks have made me ridiculously happy. I'm a lucky girl in that I get to do things like this once in a while.

Did you see my Snickerdoodle recipe over at Whisks and Words? Check it out.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Away I Go

It's our December dark, meaning the Circus is shut down for two weeks. I am running away for the duration.

Have a good week or so. Eat lots of Christmas Cookies.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Hankook Taqueria

I'm well known for my deep love of Asian food. For some reason Asian flavors have always resonated with me more than most other cuisine types. The last time I was back in Atlanta, I was told about a little Korean Taco Place in a really unlikely location that was absolutely to die for. Life changing, it was called. Unforgettable. Perfect. That was some big talk there, and I was extremely skeptical. In the interest of research I figured I would try it.

It's not much to look at inside. There is a counter, and there are seats. It's in an almost shack-like building. They don't serve alcohol (though you can bring your own). My skepticism continued. Then I noticed that it had a fair few awards on the back wall. Fair enough, my interest was aroused.
I ordered Korean Tacos, one fish, one beef. My dining companion ordered the Bibim-bop. Total cost of the meal: $12.

The food arrived in a nice and speedy fashion. I was sad that I hadn't thought to go ahead and pick up a few bottles of beer, as it seemed acceptable to bring your own. Definitely something to bear in mind for next time.

The beef (bul gogi) taco was absolutely divine. The beef was perfectly seasoned and really tender. Korean barbecue really is one of the best tastes. I adored every bite.

The fish taco wasn't bad. The fish had a really nice crispy coating. The hoi sin tartar sauce though left a bit to be desired for me. I couldn't really find the hoi sin part of it. I think if I could have had a do-over, I would have gone for two of the beef tacos instead.

My companions Bibim-bop was absolutely perfect and divine. Everything was well prepared, the egg was perfect, the special sauce was tasty and delicious. It was a great plate.

This restaurant is definitely a find. The food is excellent and you can't beat the price. The location is odd, but it's actually worth the trip for the food. Definitely a great little out of the way place to try if you have a chance.

Hankook Taqueria on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Make Ahead Spinach, Bacon and Egg Sandwiches

It's about to get really really busy up in here. Next week, I'm on the longer shifts at work so I'll be starting early most days, then the week after we have a big big PR event that I'm partially responsible for, then we go on our dark and I'm away for most of two weeks... one week in Antigua, one day in New York, then two or three days in the mountains learning to Snowboard with the new boy. I'm learning, not him. He can already Snowboard quite well,  although there was an incident with a tree last season that best not spoken of.

When I go into a period where I'm about to get busy, I try and be smart and prep ahead with food in the freezer so I'm not busy and tired AND hungry. Honestly, you don't want me to be all three. I'm awful. I'll start by getting cranky, then I'll just live on the verge of tears where any little thing can make me cry. I am not fun when I'm busy and tired and hungry.

But the promise of vacation is coming. I think the last time I went on a real holiday was when I was a teenager. Every other time I've been responsible for someone else, or visiting family, or something else where I can't relax. I'm so happy I get to just take a week on a beach with no one but my Mum and Stepdad, and unlimited food, drink, beach and sleeping.

So anyways. Make ahead stuff. I've seen a version of this knocking around Pinterest for a while. I figured I would go ahead and play around and see what I could come up with. I'm a big fan of adding bacon to things, and when I was making this, I had a really really good idea. I was cooking the bacon, and prepping the muffin cups, and I was about to reach for some cooking spray when I said Nay! Thou Shalt Not Use Cooking Spray, Thou Shalt Use Bacon Grease!! And yea verily, a bacon grease smeared muffin cup was born. For I am mighty in my use of bacon. I love my brain sometimes.

So yeah, screw the spray, use the bacon grease. I made six of these and after they had cooled, I wrapped them in foil and put them in a freezer bag. When I want one, it'll be two minutes in the microwave, add a slice of cheese and an English Muffin, and I'll be out the door on my way to make people fly through the air.

Make Ahead Spinach, Bacon and Egg Sandwiches

6 Eggs
3 Rashers of Bacon, cut in half
1 Cup Spinach

Preheat the over to 350F. Cook the bacon in a skillet until mostly done. Use a basting brush to coat six muffin cups with bacon grease. Layer in the spinach so that it is essentially lining the muffin cup.
Lay a piece of bacon in each cup. I like to flip it over a little so it's like a little ball of bacon. Break an egg into each cup and put a few grinds of salt and pepper over each one.

Bake in the oven for twenty minutes. Everything will be cooked through and delicious. Allow to cool then wrap individually in foil, and place in a freezer. To use later, unwrap from the foil, pop in the microwave for two minutes or a little longer if needed. Add a slice of cheese and an English Muffin and you've got breakfast. 

Eat hurriedly whilst heading to your car. Then double back because you left your coffee on the counter. 

Makes 6.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Color Me Rad

So, I have a new blog design, courtesy of the lovely Kathleen. It's a lot less standard blogger and a lot more individual which I like. What do you think?

It's been a bit dull over here in the Valley the last week or so. I did, however, get to do something pretty cool. I got to run in the Color Me Rad 5K here in Vegas.It's a neat race... they have them all over the country. Basically, you run and you get pelted with paint powder at various intervals throughout the race, and a whole bunch at the end. It's non-competetive and it isn't timed, so it's a lot of fun.

I really like running 5K. I've gotten a lot better at them, and I really like running with a bunch of people.

Here is my before shot, with the lovely Dan and Kate. Dan wasn't running, but he was nice enough to hold the car keys. We also made sure he got a good dose of paint on him at the end. 

Here is how we looked after. Nice and messy in front of the final paint station. We'd had an adult slumber party the night before and stayed up very late drinking rum, playing Wii bowling, and chatting, so we were running on less than four hours sleep. I'm amazed at how energetic we looked!

Afterwards I heading home to shower. The amount of paint was ridiculous! I had to wash my hair twice to get it all out, and my shower looked like it had been attacked by a parade of angry smurfs. It was back to bed and then a bowl of my favorite comfort food... mashed potatoes with peas and gravy, washed down with a cup of tea.

All in all a good time was had, and I'm really glad I did it. Time to find another race to run! I'm really wanting to do a 10K next.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Healthy Scrambled Egg Wrap

I know, I know. I'm on another breakfast kick that I can't seem to shake. I'm not complaining, though, because this one is really really good.

I've mentioned a few times before that I went through a period of weight loss over the last year. It wasn't easy, and I'm still working my ass off to maintain my current level of fitness. I'm so much healthier, happier and I have more energy. These days I try and do a big run on Tuesdays.... hoping to reach my goal of being able to run a 10K (6.2 miles) in an hour by the 1st of December. I'm at 5.81 miles right now and continuing to push. I try and do at least three 20+ minute runs at other times during the week, and I'm also starting to add in some more toning and shaping.

I'm happy with how far I've come and I'm happy with where I'm going. The only problem is that I've come to realize that it's going to be very easy for me to backslide. Gone are the days when I could eat anything that I wanted. Now it's all about portion control. If I make cookies, I eat one or two and I don't eat half a cup of the dough any more.

So I'm frequently on the look out for lower calorie, flavorful food that I can put into my regular rotation. A while ago I decided that I don't eat enough veggies, so I starting going more for scrambled eggs with spinach and other vegetables, instead of my usual poached egg on toast.

I've made this combination as just a bowl of scrambled eggs, as a breakfast sandwich using Sandwich Thins, and as a wrap. Honestly, in my opinion, the wrap is the best choice. It comes together quickly and it's really delicious. It won't break the calorie bank, and it's nice and filling.

Healthy Scrambled Egg Wrap

1/2 Cup Spinach
1 Egg
1/4 Cup Egg Whites
2 Tablespoons Goat Cheese
1 Tablespoon Sundried Tomatoes (chopped small)
1 Teaspoon Butter Replacer (I use Store Brand I Can't Believe it's Not Butter)
1 Whole Wheat Flour Tortilla

In a saucepan over a medium/low heat, melt the butter replacer. Add in the sundried tomatoes, egg and egg white, and a few grinds of salt and pepper. The key to scrambled eggs is cook over a gentle heat and to stir frequently. So, stir frequently and gently until the eggs are cooked most of the way through. Add the spinach and cook for a few more seconds, then add the goat cheese.

Warm your flour tortilla just a little by setting over the flame of a stove for 5 seconds each side. Turn out your eggs onto the tortilla, wrap up and serve.

Eat at the dining room table, staring out a window at rare fluffy clouds.

Serves 1.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Chicken and Broccoli Asian Noodle Bowl

I love Asian food. Whenever I go out to eat with a friend, I find myself always suggesting Sushi or Vietnamese or Thai or Indian. I'm not really sure why that is. I think I just really love fresh flavors with lots of salty soy goodness, and I've always been a big fan of ginger. I love a good Pad Thai, or some Chicken Tikka Masala, or a Rainbow Roll. I never seem to want to eat American. It's weird. 

I've been eating out a lot recently. When you spend lots of time with friends, and when you're dating someone new, this tends to happen I think. I think that is why it's been so quiet around here. I'm not spending time in my kitchen. Though it is still my happy place, I have more than one happy place now. It's odd, but good. 

A couple of weeks ago, I finally had an evening where I was home by myself and in the mood to cook. The pantry busting continues, and this time the victim was rice noodles. It's hard to figure out exactly how much I used in this dish, but it came out to about a cup when cooked. 

 Chicken and Broccoli Asian Noodle Bowl

1 Tbsp Fish Sauce
2 Tbsp Soy Sauce
1/2 Tsp Lemon Juice
Sesame Oil, a few drops
1 Inch Ginger, minced
1 Chicken Breast, diced into 1 inch chunks

Olive Oil
1 Red Pepper, diced
1/2 Cup Peas
1/2 Cup Broccoli Florets
1 Cup Rice Noodles

Prep your marinade and chicken. Mix all the ingredients for it together in a sealable tupperware container or a freezer bag. Add the chicken and mix well to coat. Allow to marinate for at least an hour, longer is always better.

Cook your rice noodles by boiling water, then turning off the heat and letting them soak. Takes about 10 minutes.

In a wok or wide pan, heat a tablespoon or two of the olive oil. Add the chicken and all the marinade. Cook for a about four minutes until the chicken is starting to cook well. Add the red pepper and then broccoli. Cook for two more minutes, add the drained rice noodles and the peas and cook for a couple of minutes more. Make sure your chicken is done.

Eat out of your favorite bowl with a little extra soy sauce if your palate is salty. Catch up on How I Met Your Mother.

Makes two large servings. Good for leftover lunch the next day, too.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Where the Hell is Redd?

I'm not really here. I'm everywhere and nowhere doing everything and nothing. I'm working at the Circus, I'm spending time with my friends. I'm hanging out around firepits at 1 in the morning, drinking Pecan Abita and talking about love. I'm going to Antigua in a month. I need to buy a new Bikini. I'm doing a 4-day detox. I have no idea if I'll make it four days, but I'm going to try. All of my ex-stunt guys stuff is now out of my house. I have more closet space than I thought. I really don't have a lot of stuff. Where did all my stuff go? Wednesdays and Fridays are my favorite days now. Tuesdays are pretty fun too, when they involve going to eat at random ethnic restaurants with my awesome girl friends.

I had this Blueberry and Lemon Curd crepe at Crepe Expectations. It was tangy and delicious and smacked me in the face with flavor. It was a Sunday morning and I was drinking coffee with Chantal as we talked about her upcoming wedding. They have a Pear and Cheese crepe that I want to try so badly the next time I'm there. Really amazing service, too.

I ate this Eggplant Grilled Cheese at Bread and Butter, which is where I've been hanging out pretty much every Tuesday afternoon. I sit and I read and I eat a pastry, or a sandwich. I drink Earl Grey tea. The lady behind the counter is amazingly nice to me. She makes me smile. I always sit in the same place. I think of it as "my spot". I'm nuts about their raspberry muffins.

I ate this Masaman Curry at Pin Kaow, while catching up with my friend Dragan. This place was recommended to me by a friend. I liked it a lot. Nice atmosphere, nice food. The service was a little slow, but I was happy with the curry. I'm a sucker for Thai food. I eat it way more often that I think I realize. It's delicious. I need to come back here and try their Panang curry too, and their Pad Thai of course.

It's been a long time since someone gave me flowers for no good reason. I'm a big fan of said someone.

Crepe Expectations on Urbanspoon

Bread and Butter on Urbanspoon

Pin Kaow Thai on Urbanspoon

Friday, October 26, 2012

Whilst I'm Not Cooking #14

No-Bake Coconut Cream Goat Cheese Cheesecake from How Sweet It Is

Believe it or not, I have actually cooked a little bit recently! I may even have a new recipe next week! I think part of the reason I've been so quiet is that I'm doing a lot of repeats. I made another big batch of Fall Corn Chowder, I'm about to make Vegan Pumpkin Bread, I'm just not doing much that is new. I'm so boring. I've been eating out quite a lot, too and am terribly behind on restaurant reviews.

I would tell you I'll do better, but I don't want to lie to you. I don't like telling lies.

Fun food things to tell you:

I found Crumpets at Trader Joes and had a minor excited freak out.

I have no sugar left in my house. None. I used it all. I really need to go to the store.

In the last sentence I originally wrote Shore instead of Store. I think this is partly because I want to be on a beach and partly because I'm reading the weirdest book ever called Kafka on the Shore. It's brilliant but so so odd.

I still don't like celery. I don't even wish I did.

I have 507 unread food posts from other bloggers in my Google Reader. I am so behind.

Here are some awesome things that I want to make someday soon: 

Banana Coconut Bread from The Wednesday Chef

Coconut Cream Goat Cheese Cheesecake from How Sweet It Is

Pesto Stuffed Zucchini from Simply Recipes

Bacon Corn Hash from Smitten Kitchen

Salted Rolo Brownie Cookies from Cookies & Cups

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Balsamic Glazed Sweet Potatoes

Well, it's finally starting to seem like Fall. I'm drinking Hot Apple Cider and the Spinach Salads are gone from my lunch bag. It's starting to cool down in the Valley and people are wearing hoodies and boots.

It's nice this time of year, when the weather is perfect. The trees are turning colors back in Atlanta, it's cold back in England. All of my homes are starting to shift towards the cooler, quieter winter time.

And me? I'm happy. I've let go of a lot of things that made me unhappy and embraced a lot of things that feel good and right. I'm taking my life back. I'm doing things that I want to do. I'm putting myself and my family first.

It's good.

I had a really epic clumsy three days where I kept dropping things or injuring myself. I lost five eggs and a vintage mixing bowl in the aftermath, and for a day or so I was pretty sure I had broken my own nose. I swear the doorframe in my bathroom jumped out at me. I've got my eye on the pesky little bugger.

I know I haven't been around as much. I know I saw that every time. I'm making changes in my life and it's taking lots of time.

I'm also making things like Balsamic Glazed Sweet Potatoes, because they are absolutely delicious.

Balsamic Glazed Sweet Potatoes

3 Small Sweet Potatoes, peeled
1 Tablespoon Brown Sugar
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
2 1/2 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar

Preheat the oven to 400F. Peel your sweet potatoes. I used a mix of yellow and white, because that is what I had on hand. Once peeled, dice them up and put them in a bowl. Add the sugar, oil and vinegar and mix well. Turn out onto a non-stick cookie sheet, preferably lined with Sil-Pat. Grind over a generous helping of salt.

Roast in the oven for 40 minutes until turning dark and crispy. Stir them every ten minutes or so to try and stop them from sticking and so that they cook evenly.

Eat with some sliced turkey or chicken, or just on their own out of a bowl.

Makes four servings.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Strawberry, Vanilla and Coconut Granola

A while ago I got on this kick. I became hooked on eating this granola that I would buy at Fresh & Easy with plain yoghurt. It became a really easy breakfast/lunch/between show snack. It's a great granola and my favorite thing about it is the chunks of freeze-dried strawberries scattered throughout.

I had pulled a recipe for french chocolate granola a few months back and stuck it on my fridge with the hopes that I would be inspired to try it, but every time I thought about granola, it was the strawberry one that I wanted.

The other day, I saw freeze dried strawberries on sale in the store and I had an Aha! moment. Why not just make my own big batch of granola? I buy it so often anyway and I had literally every ingredient except for the strawberries. So, scoop up the strawberries I did and I scurried home to whip up a monster batch of granola. Since I was making this for myself, I played around and added in some coconut and some vanilla.

This granola is extremely yummy. It's really filling. It's not super sweet, but it gives you lots of energy. I made double the amount here because I knew I would eat it all. I love looking at the jars in the pantry. They fill me with sunshiney joy.

Strawberry, Coconut and Vanilla Granola

3 Cups Oats (not quick-cook)
1/2 Cup Shredded Coconut
3 Tablespoons Sugar
Pinch of Salt
6 Tablespoons Honey
2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1oz Freeze Dried Strawberries

Preheat the oven to 325F.

In a small saucepan, heat up the honey and the oil until it is very very liquidy. Take off the heat and stir in the vanilla.
In a mixing bowl, combine the oats, coconut, salt and sugar. Pour over the liquid ingredients and mix well to coat. Spread the mixture on a cookie sheet in a thin even layer. Put in the oven. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring at the ten and twenty minute marks until the granola is golden.

Take the pan out of the oven and let cool, stirring occasionally so that it doesn't form one big sheet. When it's cool, mix in the strawberries and store in a nice big glass jar.

Eat with plain yoghurt at the dining room table while reading the latest issue of Saveur.

Makes about 4 Cups.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Welcome, Lynn Chen Followers!

I recently had a guest post and recipe published on one of my all-time favorite blogs, The Actor's Diet. I'm a huge fan of Lynn Chen and am really honored to be a small part of her blog.

So, welcome! If you're hear for recipes, here is a link to my Recipe Index. Otherwise, just enjoy roaming around and thanks for being here!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Fall Corn Chowder

Back when I lived in Atlanta, I used to work at the Atlanta Shakespeare Company. They had a kitchen attached to the theatre, and they would cycle through different menus based on the season.

When I worked there, I frequently ate dinner there and there were a few favorites from the menu that I would always be happy to order.... Dragon Noodles, Spinach Salad, Chocolate Lava Cake, Apple Crisp and the Corn Chowder.

I loved that Chowder and I would eat it almost every day. I always had it with a nice crusty wholewheat roll. It was hearty and delicious and to me, it felt like the perfect Fall food. I've never liked soup much, but for some reason I always love chowder. 

I have a lot of really happy memories of that place. It's where I found the bulk of my chosen family. Even though I don't live there any more and will probably never work there again, it's always going to feel like home to me. Fall and Spring are always my favorite times of year in Atlanta.

It's still hot in the desert. Tomorrow it will hit triple digits, but this should be the last time. It's October now, and the weather should start dipping soon. I wore a hoodie outside the other day. Granted it was 1am at a park and the sprinklers were on, but I still wore a hoodie.

Pumpkin Spice Lattes are in the coffee shops. The mountains that surround the valley are starting to see a touch of snow. Soon it will be Fall. So I made my Fall comfort food, willing the season to show up in Las Vegas.

I miss Appalachia. But hey, the chowder is delicious.

Fall Corn Chowder

4 Ears of Corn
1 Medium White Onion, diced
3 Garlic Cloves, minced
4 Bay Leaves
5 Small Potatoes, peeled
1 Cup White Wine
1 Teaspoon Tarragon (dried)
3 Tablespoons Butter

Bring 6 cups of water to a boil on the stove. Cut all of the corn kernels off the ears of corn and set them aside. Take the corn cobs, break them in half and put them in the boiling water with the bay leaves. Add in half the tarragon and cover. Simmer for 30 minutes.

In a heavy bottomed pan, melt the butter. Add in the onion and cook for 5-8 minutes until softened. Add in the garlic and cook for another minute. Then, add in half the cup of wine and let reduce.

While it is reducing, strain the corn broth and discard the cobs. Save the bay leaves.

Pour the broth into the onion mixture. Add the potatoes, bay leaves, the rest of the wine and the tarragon. Add a few grinds of pepper and then salt to taste. You'll be using probably quite a lot of salt.

Simmer for 10 minutes, then add the corn kernels. Simmer for 15 more minutes until the potatoes are soft.

Eat with whole wheat bread and dreams of turning leaves.

Makes 6 servings.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Balsamic Kale Chips

When I hopped on the Kale bandwagon a while ago, I meant to try making Kale Chips. But then every time I had Kale in the house I couldn't resist making my Creamy Avocado and Kale dip which I love oh so very very much.

I'm a snacker. I've said it before. I love to snack. It's not really a big part of my diet plan, though, so I have to resist the urge all the time. I rotate weekly through different responsibilities at work. I do a different thing every week on a 5-week rotation. So this week I'm on the one task that always makes me want to snack. It seems like a good time to have healthy snacks on hand.

I stayed the night at my friend Dani's house last night. We had curry and cocktails and watched Casablanca. It was a really nice night and on my drive home today I realized that I had enough time, finally, to whip up a quick batch of Kale Chips and see what all the fuss was about. So I swung by the store, grabbed supplies, came home and whipped up a batch. I've had to lock these away in tupperware because I kept eating them off the pan. I'll snack on them at work today for sure.

Balsamic Kale Chips

I can't tell you how easy these are to whip up. You need hardly any ingredients or time. Enjoy!

1 Bunch Kale
1 1/2 Teaspoons Balsamic Vinegar
1 Teaspoon Olive Oil

Preheat the oven to 350F. Rinse the kale and tear it off the ribs so it's in small pieces. You don't want the stems, they won't crisp up.

Put the kale in a bowl and drizzle over the oil and vinegar. Toss the kale to coat it and lay it down on a baking sheet. Grind some salt over and bake for 15 minutes or until crispy.

Eat at your desk while figuring out what 63 people are going to do onstage at the Circus tonight.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Sausage and Pepper Cornmeal Breakfast Muffins

Yesterday was the first normal day I feel like I've had in a while. I got up, went for a run, played in my kitchen, went to work. Just like the 3-2-1 punch of the last couple of months never was. It was nice, but it was also strange and conjured up lots of emotionally feelingy type things. I'm working through those.

I'm also working through what I made in the kitchen. I've had these in my brain for a while and am very happy with how they turned out. I've had sausage in the freezer for a while and I wanted to repurpose it into something else that I could keep in the freezer and then defrost overnight and eat in the morning. I'm still mostly working on pantry-busting but it certainly got put on hold for the last month or two.

So, these muffins were born. They taste really great and have an interesting texture. The buttermilk makes them incredibly moist. They are hearty and filling and very easy to grab and go. They would be great for brunch with some scrambled eggs and orange juice.

Sausage and Pepper Cornmeal Breakfast Muffins

8oz Sausage
1 Green Pepper
3/4 Cup Flour
1/2 Cup Yellow Cornmeal
3/4 Cup Grated Cheddar
1 Egg
1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1 1/2 Cups Buttermilk (I used Lowfat)

Preheat your oven to 350F. Cook the sausage and drain off as much of the grease as you can. Dice the pepper and add it in to the sausage and cook for another three minutes or so until the peppers start to soften. Set aside.

Sift the flour in a bowl and add in the cornmeal, baking powder, cheddar and salt. Add in the egg and buttermilk and stir until combined. Add in the sausage and pepper mix.

Either line a 12 space muffin pan with cupcake liners, or grease each individual space. Fill each cup with batter. It should make every cup pretty full and even.

Bake for 20 minutes until set all the way and just starting to brown a little. If you want, you can also grate more cheese on the top of the muffins.

Eat while figuring out the rest of your day and listening to Imagine Dragons.

These freeze really well.

Makes 12.

Friday, September 21, 2012

What I've Been Eating

I've had the weirdest eating habits recently. I haven't been cooking. I haven't had any groceries in the house other than my Spinach Salad fixings. I've got a couple of ideas for things, but I haven't had the time to make them. I've been traveling, working, spending time with friends, basically trying to center myself. I've been succeeding at that.

I ate Scallop Risotto at an Italian restaurant in Long Beach. The risotto was so-so, but the scallop placed lovingly on top was delicious with the perfect sear.

Yesterday I ate half a red velvet whoopie pie that was so sweet my teeth hurt.

I've started putting cinnamon in my coffee.

I had mango pancakes with passionfruit syrup.

I've been eating a lot of grapes and cantaloupes.

On Tuesday I had mac and cheese out of a box, with the powdered sauce mix... not even the creamy liquidy good stuff. 

I'm boring. Really boring right now. What are you eating? Please let it be more interesting than me.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Red Wine Reduction

It's hard to explain this sauce. It's really unusual and quite delicious. It's one of those things that pops into your brain when you're randomly up at night, reading Kafka on the Shore and processing your day.

I've not been sleeping regularly. Yesterday I woke up at 7am. Which sounds fine until I tell you that I work 3pm-12am, I didn't get to sleep until 3am, and yesterday was my day off.

I gave up trying to sleep at 8am and decided to just go ahead and get up and make this sauce since it was in my brain and I had nothing else to then. Yesterday I then proceeded to clean and rearrange almost my entire house. It was a very weird and productive day.

Anyway, the sauce. I wanted to do a red wine reduction that packed a punch and stood up to strong flavors. I had a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon, dense and purple and grapey, and that was what I went with.

I had this for dinner over some slow cooked pork rubs, mashed potatoes and peas. The flavor in the ribs that I was going for didn't work out too well but the sauce more than made up for it. It's tart and sweet and dense and rich and delicious all at the same time. Try it on steak, or ribs, or just on mashed potatoes if you're into that kind of thing (which I am, mashed potatoes peas and gravy is still my number one comfort food).

Red Wine Reduction

1 Cup Red Wine (Such as Cabernet Sauvignon)
1/4 Onion, diced (or two shallots)
2 Cloves Garlic
1 Tablespoon Brown Sugar
5 Peppercorns
1 Teaspoon Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon Butter

Heat the olive oil in a saucepan and add in the onion. Cook until softened and starting to brown. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the wine, peppercorns, and sugar. Grind in a little salt.

Simmer for about 30 minutes until reduced down to 1/3rd of the original liquid. Taste and add more salt if necessary. Take off the heat and strain. Add in the butter and stir to melt.

Pour over a plate of meat and potatoes. Feel snazzy. Relish in the deep purple color.

Makes 2 servings.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Lemon Paprika Chicken Thighs

Sometimes, things get really complicated and you just need something simple.

I'm coming off a really rough trip back East where I had to take care of a lot of personal stuff and attend a funeral. I'm really over cross country flights, so I'm taking a break from them for a while.

It's been a hard couple of months for me, but I think I'm finally getting myself into a good place. I'm trying not to be too whiny here, but the universe really did smack me around a little and I've decided that I'm done with that. I'm ready for things to start going my way and to start feeling happy again. With that will surely come more food and a stronger presence here on Salted Spoon. Thanks for your patience with me. It's appreciated.
Right now, all I want these days is simple food. I'm eating salads and cantaloupes, multigrain cheerios and poached eggs, sweet potato fries and quick and easy chicken dishes. When the going gets tough, the tough raids the freezer for simple cuts of meat.

These chicken thighs are super easy. You could mix everything together and marinade the chicken if you like and it'll be yummy, but for me I used sprinkle everything over because I'm usually in a hurry.

Lemon Paprika Chicken Thighs

4 Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs
2 Teaspoons Lemon Juice
1/2 Teaspoon Paprika
1/4 Teaspoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper
Pinch of Cayenne Pepper
Olive Oil for Cooking

In a cast iron skillet or non-stick pan, heat up a drizzle of olive oil. Trim any excess fat off the chicken thighs. Cover each chicken thigh with a little lemon juice. Mix together the paprika, peppers and salt and then sprinkle those over both sides too.

When the pan is really hot, lay the chicken thighs down and let cook well on one side to get a sear, then flip. Cook and flip until the chicken thighs are cooked all the way through, about ten minutes.

Serve with rice and peas, or anything else you can find in your freezer.

Eat at the dining room table while watching the last episode of Newsroom and being stared at by your adorable cat.

Serves two.