Saturday, March 31, 2012

Whilst I'm Not Cooking #4

It's getting pretty warm here in the valley... over 80 degrees on average now. I'm shunning my air conditioner still, but the ceiling fans are starting to see some action.

Tomorrow, my brother, sister-in-law, father, step-mother and baby niece are going to arrive from England, followed by my Stunt Guy on tuesday. I'm incredibly excited and trying very hard to get lots of things done in preparation. My apartment is almost clean and I'm a pound closer to my goal weight. I'm pretty sure it's all going to go haywire over the next week though, not that I care a whole bunch right now!

Healthy Pulled Chicken from Wine & Butter
*Update. I made this! It was really good. The only problem I had with it was that I had real trouble finding little bones. I will take care next time to remove some. It also made a LOT. I actually still have some in my freezer that I plan to use for some kind of burrito type thing. 

Rhubarb, Almond, Plum and Yoghurt Cake from Eat Tori

Carrot Cake Pancakes from Smitten Kitchen

Petite Vanilla Scones from The Pioneer Woman

Orange Vanilla Semolina Cake from What's For Lunch Honey

Hmm. Guess I'm in more of a cake mood than I thought that I was!

By the way, the picture above is an old one from when I used to do photography. Expect more!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Cauliflower Cheese

I'm about to have some family in town and I'm doing a bunch of prep for that as well as being a bit busy with work, but I wanted to stop by and share a quick recipe with you because I had this for dinner yesterday and I'm really trying to not devour the leftovers even though I'm not hungry yet. It's one of those simple dishes that I just want to always have the taste of.

My mother really didn't cook a lot when I was growing up, well, not from scratch anyway but something she did make once in a while that I completely adored was Cauliflower Cheese. I loved it when she made this and I could have eaten the entire batch. I'm a complete sucker for cheese.

I seem to recall that she would serve this with garlic bread. I highly suggest the combination... it's a winner for sure. I make this in individual ramekins but you could easily put it in a larger baking dish. It's harder not to eat all of it if it's in the same container though.... I speak from experience.

Cauliflower Cheese

1/2 Cauliflower, sliced up
1 1/2 Tablespoons Whole Wheat Flour
1 Tablespoon Butter
1 Cup Milk
1/2 Cup Sharp Cheddar
1 Tablespoon Panko Breadcrumbs (optional)
Parmesan and more Cheddar for Topping
Salt and Pepper

Preheat your oven to 425F. Slice the cauliflower and spread it on a baking sheet. Grind over some salt and pepper and then pop it in the oven for 25 minutes. While the cauliflower is cooking, melt the butter in a saucepan and add the flour. Mix to form a thick paste and then add the milk a little at a time, stirring all the while until the milk is combined. Grind in some salt and pepper. It should be fairly thick. Take it off the heat and add in the cheddar. This will thicken it up nicely.
When the cauliflower is done, chop it up and put it in two ramekins, or one larger dish. Pour the sauce over, then sprinkle over some breadcrumbs, more cheddar and some parmesan cheese. Stick it back in the oven for another 10 minutes until the top has browned.

Eat with some bread, preferably garlic bread. If you are saving some for later, be sure to reheat it in the oven and not the microwave.

Makes two dinner sized servings.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Apple, Cheddar and Sage Flatbread and 31:18

Well, today was the day. I competed in my first 5K, after several months of training. Now, by training I don't mean hardcore Rocky Montage stuff.... I mean working on running a few times a week. See, when I started this I couldn't even run for a minute without having to stop. I'm really quite happy that I pulled this off.

I came in 368th out of 946 people. I was 27th in my age category, and I ran the race in 31 minutes and 18 seconds. Hurrah!

My good friend Myles kicked some serious ass though, finishing in a little over 22 minutes. Next year maybe I can get a little closer to his time!

In celebration of succeeding in this event, flatbread was definitely in order.

I've had this in my brain for a while. The combination of apple, cheddar and sage is always a winner. I've had some pizza dough stashed away for just such an occasion. I highly recommend having pizza dough in your freezer. It always comes in handy when you've got a craving, or need a speedy meal.

The key to this flatbread is the type of apple and the type of cheese. Use a good, tart apple like a granny smith. Pick out a good sharp cheddar, preferably one with a little age to it, and preferably one closer to white than to yellow. I used a three year old Australian cheddar for this. If you are looking in a standard store brand, you might try Dubliner.

Apple, Cheddar and Sage Flatbread

8oz Pizza Dough (Whole Wheat is best but either will do)
Half a Granny Smith, thinly sliced
1/2 Cup Sharp Cheddar
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1/4 Teaspoon Ground Sage
Salt and Pepper
Whole Dried or Fresh Sage for sprinkling

Preheat your oven to 450F. Roll out the pizza dough very thinly. Mix the olive oil with the ground sage and a few good grinds of salt and pepper and, with a pastry brush, brush over the dough in a thin layer. Grab a fork and dent the dough all over. Sprinkle half the cheese on, then layer over the apples, then top with the rest of the cheese. Grind over a little more salt and pepper and then sprinkle over some whole sage (a little goes a long way).

Bake in the oven for 15 minutes until the dough is cooked all the way and the top is browned.

Serves one for a large lunch, two for an appetizer or lunch with a salad, and more if you cut it into little squares and serve it at a party.

Want something sweet to go with this? Try some Dark Chocolate Brownies

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Single Girls Lunch Salad

I'm a creature of habit. I really like routine, and I have a few of the same little things that I do pretty much every day. I've started my morning with a cup of tea almost every single day since I was about twelve. It's not that I seek the caffeine in it anymore…. it's because I have it every morning that it helps me get up.

Sometimes, my eating habits get stuck on repeat, too. Now that my Stunt Guy is in a different city, I'm left to my own devices when it comes to lunch. I've eaten this salad every single day for the last five days. I look forward to it every time. My friend Mary thinks I'm a little weird to look forward to a salad, but this one seriously rocks.

I feel that a good salad is all about ratio and variety. You want it to be leafy and nutritious, but you also want it to be really really interesting. The best part of a salad is always the goodies... you know, the parts that aren't lettuce, and this one is chocked full of them.

Single Girls Lunch Salad

I've been chopping up a my ingredients and keeping them in tupperware in the fridge, for ease of assembly. If you're vegetarian, just leave out the turkey. It's also really hard to tell you how much Mozzarella I use, so I've estimated. Use good Mozzarella, the kind that comes in a ball in water.

1 1/2 - 2 Cups Chopped Fresh Spinach (loose, not packed)
1/2 an avocado, diced
Half a regular or Slow-Roasted tomato, diced
Two slices of deli lunchmeat (I like turkey), diced up
1/4 Red or Yellow Bell Pepper (or a mix of both)
1.5 Ounces fresh Mozzarella, diced
2 Tablespoons Walnut pieces, toasted
2 Tablespoons Salad Dressing (I use Italian, but pick your favorite)

Prep your ingredients. To toast the walnuts, take a small non-stick pan and throw the walnuts in there over medium heat. Stir around while you prep your other ingredients. Get some good color on them. It takes about five minutes.

Mix all the ingredients together in an oversized bowl. Drizzle over your favorite dressing, mix up, and eat either rushed at your desk on a work day, or while you are curled up on your couch working through your Hulu+ queue on the weekend.

Related Recipes:

Slow-Roasted Tomatoes

Check out my Recipe Index for more things to nosh on.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Bread and Butter

I confess, my Stunt Guy and I rarely eat out. We're on a really tight budget (which will hopefully get some breathing room soon, with him heading back to the East Coast for work) but every so often we have a mini food-splurge. The episode of How I Met Your Mother that we were watching last Saturday heavily featured brunch, which of course made us crave it, so we decided to have Sunday brunch like a normal couple. It's an odd thing, since with my schedule Sunday is what other people would consider a Thursday.

Anyways, I poked around Yelp for some brunch places in Henderson and was surprised to find a very well reviewed one quite near me called Bread and Butter. Again, since we don't eat out much we hadn't discovered it yet. Sometimes I wonder what else we've missed in the last 13 months.

We headed over to Bread and Butter and were greeted by display cases of yummy looking pastries.

They also had an entire fridge dedicated to root beer, which I thought was quite neat.

Their brunch menu was a bit limited, and they were out of the first thing that I wanted to order, but the girl behind the counter steered us towards the Breakfast Pizza, which she said was perfect for sharing. Sounds awful, I know, but it was potatoes, caramelized onions, roasted red peppers and scrambled eggs on a very thin crust. We added Sausage, which is Stunt Guy's go-to meat addition (he's not into bacon, which I find peculiar).

When it arrived it was, indeed, perfect for sharing. The crust was delightfully thin, so it didn't add any kind of oily weight to the pizza. The scrambled eggs on top were delightfully fluffy, and I really enjoyed the sausage addition. All in all, it was perfectly yummy and definitely big enough to share... we had two pieces left over.

We also hit the pastry case, picking out a Fruit Tart, a Jam Doughnut, and Bread Pudding.

The Fruit Tart was really nice. I was initially concerned about the hairy kiwi, but thankfully it turned out okay. I think the big thing with this tart is that it just looked so gorgeous. You really do eat with your eyes.

The Jam Doughnut was ridiculous. Exploding with Jam, if you picked it up the weight it had was insane... heavier than a baseball. You could do some serious damage if you chose to chuck that thing at someones head.

It was impossible to eat in a really delightful way. The outer layer was thin and crispy, with just the right amount of chew.

There was honestly probably way too much jam, though. We left a sad little pool of it in the bowl. It also got all over our hands in a fantastically Macbethian way.

I'm a bad judge of Bread Pudding. I have fond childhood memories of this dessert, so it's a tall order for someone to catch up. This was... okay. I wanted more cinnamon and for it to be gooier. But it was certainly quite edible and yummy.

The atmosphere of the restaurant is pretty cute and quirky. There aren't really servers, so you need to just go in and order at the counter and then find yourself a seat. Everyone was really friendly, which was a nice thing. The place was quite busy on a Sunday but not overly so. We didn't have to wait for a table and our food arrived pretty speedily.

On the way out, my Stunt Guy went and grabbed a fortune cookie out of the jar and was greeted with the most utterly random fortune either of us had ever seen.

In sum, this was a neat little brunch spot. I hear their Kale salad is really good, so I'll probably go back and try that when I get a chance. I'd definitely recommend checking it out if you find yourself South East of the Vegas Strip.

So what is your must-have brunch menu item?

Bread and Butter on Urbanspoon

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Curry and Yoghurt Marinated Chicken

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I was raised in England, land of pretty countryside, old castles, and Indian food. See, in England Indian food is kind of like Mexican food in the US.... it's everywhere, everyone eats it, and it's exactly what you are likely to find available at 11pm when you've had a wee bit too much to drink. I was raised on curry. My stepdad makes really really good curry and it's the one thing that I request whenever I go home.

I have my own version of curry. I make it from scratch very frequently. It's my Stunt Guys favorite thing that I make. Because it's one of those things that I make by feel, it turns out different every time. Usually, though, I'm serving it with a marinated chicken. This chicken is one of MY favorite things that I make, and this is the recipe that I want to share with you.

Curry and Yoghurt Marinated Chicken

I use Chicken Quarters frequently with this recipe as it is what I tend to have in the freezer. I always trim off the skin and the fat. You could certainly leave those on if you choose, or you can use another combination of chicken as listed below.

2 Chicken Quarters or 4 Chicken Thighs or 2 Chicken Breasts
3/4 Cup Low Fat or Non Fat Yoghurt

1 Teaspoon each of:
Curry Powder
Ground Coriander
Ground Cumin
Garam Masala

1/4 Teaspoon Salt
Several good grinds of Pepper

Clean your chicken and place it in a baking dish with a lid. You should use a dish where the chicken is nice and snug. I use the Pyrex casserole dish that I've raved about before. Next, combine all the spices with the yoghurt, then spread all over the chicken. Generally, I just mix all of this together with my hands. Let the chicken sit in the marinade for 4 hours if you can, it'll still be good if you can't let it sit.

To cook, heat your oven to 350F. Bake the chicken in the dish for an hour. When it's done it'll be moist and flavorful.

Makes two servings. Excellent with vegetable curry, or just with a side of rice and a vegetable.

Want more recipes from Salted Spoon, including an excellent Vegetable Curry that goes perfectly with this dish? Check out the eBook:

Monday, March 12, 2012

Giveaway Winners

Thanks to the people who entered my giveaway and everyone else who stopped by to visit! I know that this blog is a baby, so thanks for taking the time. Hitting 5,000 pageviews was a big accomplishment for me and it was nice to share it.

I'm hoping that I'll have more giveaways in the future.

The winners are:

Elena F
Hannah from BitterSweet

Each of these lovely ladies have won some homemade jam. If you could both use the contact form in my sidebar to send me your address and if you would like Nectarine, Spiced Grape, or Orange, Lemon and Lime Marmalade and I'll get those on the way!

I can't wait to get back to cooking this weekend! I've got big plans....

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Just a Normal Saturday and Channeling Lynn Chen

I'm a big big fan of Lynn Chen's blog The Actor's Diet. Lynn chronicles her life as an actress and a foodie. She walks you through her diet every day. I adore her blog and find it just fascinating. I love having a glimpse into her life each day. When I wake up in the morning, hers is the first blog I read. So, today I decided I would channel Lynn Chen.

Today I'm going to show you what a normal Saturday is like for me.

I'm awake at 10:30am. Sounds lazy, but thats normal since I don't get home until midnight. I'm also not pushing myself to get up because my stunt guy is still healing from his surgery and needs to sleep. So, first up is a small bowl of oatmeal with skim milk and some maple syrup. Just enough energy to get me up and off to the gym.

I managed to put in a good two mile run. I'm training for a 5K in two weeks so I'm still working on my pace a lot. I I just started tracking my workouts on DailyMile. You can friend me if you use it too!

Then it was bath and multivitamin time. I'm awful about drinking enough water, so I take my multivitamin in liquid form. This is called On The Go and I drink it every day. The taste is pretty good, though you have to stir a bunch to dissolve it. I always take baths, unless I'm in a huge hurry. I like having a little bit of time to stop moving every day. You can see in the background my Queen ElizaBath. She's a rubber ducky version of Queen Elizabeth I. I adore her though some people think she is creepy.

Next up it's off to Trader Joe's and the Fuzzies store with my Stunt Guy. We have a few things we like to do every weekend, like drink Bubble Tea and play Jenga, but we missed a lot of that because he was in the hospital this weekend. One thing we usually do is go to the pet store and play with the puppies and bunnies.

There were a bunch of adorable ones today.

I was particularly fond of this furball. We don't have a dog, but we do really want one. It'll be a while though... we really need to be living in a house to accommodate a puppy along with our two cats.

Next door to the Fuzzies store is a Trader Joe's. My guy adores samples so we always stop in to see what they have.
Corned Beef hash, not too bad but it needed an acid component.

Here's the recipe.

We then grabbed mini cups of coffee to enjoy while we shopped. This coffee was really lovely. I may get some at a later date.

This was our haul, less than $16. I made sure to pick up Ginger Chews because they are Lynns favorite. I figured I couldn't channel her properly without getting some of them. We also picked up a beer for my Stunt Guy for when he is off his painkillers and a bottle of wine for me. I love this $2 Sangiovese. It's quite drinkable and within our budget. I tend to pick up a bottle every time we go to TJ's.

I tried a Ginger Chew. I liked it a lot, it was sweet and spicy but not too spicy. Really really chewy. It was also quite satisfying in some way. I'm a fan.

Then I packed up my lunch for work, making a sandwich on my favorite bread.

I make my own bread, but when I want a little splurge I buy the Parmesan Sourdough bread from Fresh & Easy. It's absolutely delicious.

Half an avocado, some deli sliced turkey, tomato and goats cheese... this one was Humboldt Fog, which I happened to score on sale a couple of days ago. This is one fantastic sandwich.

Then it was off to work. I stopped for lollipops at Target and road tested a Mango one. Quite lovely... I'm really okay with this whole candy thing. I have a sweet tooth and it sure takes the edge off.

I always find it a bit odd that I have to walk through a casino to get to work, but thats part of working for the Circus in Las Vegas.

I like to snack at work a lot, and here is what I munched on while I updated a bunch of paperwork. Popcorn with salt, pepper and zero calorie I Can't Believe It's Not Butter spray... my new favorite condiment. I also grabbed my one cup of coffee. I used to drink about 6 a day, but I cut down because of how many calories I was ingesting. I like my coffee sweet.

Then later it was lunch time. I had a sweet potato with more butter spray and half the amazing sandwich.

I finished this off with Strawberry Energy Crystal Light, another Ginger Chew, and a Root Beer Lollipop. I like the Mango better.

Then it was off to do a show. I usually eat an hour and a half before first show, and then I have dinner between shows. This way I'm not ravenous when I get home from work. Here's dinner... some leftover Fried Rice from ordering in when my Stunt Guy got out of Surgery, a cup of Chai Tea and a delicious apple.

Then after another show I hit the road and headed home to my guy. I grabbed a slice of toast with some avocado on it to finish out the day, and then enjoyed a glass of wine while we watched some TV together. This is the last of the wine I was given for Valentine's day. It's very complex, and I really like it, but it's not my favorite.

So that was my day. It was a pretty normal one for me. I really enjoyed journaling my day so I think it is something that I'll do again in the future. I liked being hyper-aware of all the things I ate today. I found it neat and informative. I'm definitely glad to have channeled Lynn Chen! She continues to be a blogging inspiration.

Most of all, I'm happy to have discovered Ginger Chews.