Category Archives: Cooking

The Miniseries, Part IV

Just a warning, Part IV of this Miniseries is the extended edition.  The night it came time to try out the fourth menu, we reached the end of the meal and just kept going.  So hold on, because you are about to be introduced to not only a main dish, side, and salad, but also to a dessert and after dinner drink (of the adult variety).

The body of the meal consisted of Lemony Soup with Peas and Rice, Vinegar Mashed Potatoes with Kale, and a Garbanzo Caprese.

As usual, all ingredients were from Schnucks or Trader Joe’s.

LEMONY SOUP WITH PEAS AND RICE

I’m going to list this recipe with the caveat that it was no one’s favorite.  Just to make things worse, I also ultimately ended up spilling the last of the leftovers into my purse while running late to catch the last metro downtown in the morning.  So while there is no guarantee that if you made this soup your wallet would end up sticky and smelling like stale lemon, it is true that there are recipes out there that are probably more worth your time.

That said, it really wasn’t bad and could easily be better.  I made the soup with frozen peas.  If you do venture to make it, I would recommend cutting back on the lemon a bit and using fresh peas instead (Trader Joe’s English Peas are excellent).  I would also serve it as a side soup rather than making it a main dish.  It could be a lovely complement to a stronger dish, but was a bit bland by itself.

So (almost) without further ado, here’s the recipe.  I found it through Molly Moog on Pinterest, who found it at The Kitchn. You can check out their original recipe (with a much prettier picture) here.

Lemony Soup with Peas and Rice {serves six}

  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 lemons, zested and juiced
  • 3 tablespoons fresh mint leaves
  • 2 cups cooked rice
  • 2 cups peas
  • freshly ground black pepper
  1. Sauté the onion in a large pot until translucent.
  2. Pour in the stock and the water and bring to a boil.
  3. Add half the lemon juice, the lemon zest, and the mint.
  4. Stir in the cooked rice and the peas, and bring to a simmer.
  5. Taste, and add more lemon juice if desired.
  6. Once the soup is heated through, you’re done.  Eat and enjoy.

VINEGAR MASHED POTATOES WITH KALE

Mashed potatoes are not a dish that I come across often as a vegetarian (there’s some sort of meat-and-potatoes bias out there).  However, I do love some good mashed potatoes, especially the kind with thin potato skin still mixed in.  Toss in some (a lot) of vinegar and kale (which I have discovered this summer and come to love…a lot), and I’m sold.  These potatoes were delicious, and it was nice having the greens mixed in.

I found the recipe through Lauren Conrad on Pinterest, but the credit goes to Ashley at Edible Perspective.  You can find her original recipe here.

Vinegar Mashed Potatoes with Kale {serves about 6}

  • 5 cups fingerling potatoes (or really any thin-skinned potatos), cubed
  • 4 cups kale, torn into small pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened almond milk (regular milk would also work)
  • 1½ tablespoons butter, melted
  • parmesan (optional)
  • freshly ground pepper (optional)
  1. Place the cubed potatoes in a pot and cover with water.  Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down and let the potatoes simmer until they are fork-tender.
  2. Drain the potatoes and transfer to a large bowl.  Mash together with the vinegar and a ½ tablespoon of the butter.  Add the milk and continue to mash until the desired consistency is reached.  I liked it with a fair amount of texture.
  3.  Melt the rest of the butter in a pan and add the kale.  Sauté (stirring frequently) until the kale is just wilted.  Stir in the minced garlic for the last thirty seconds or so, until fragrant.
  4. Stir the wilted kale and garlic into the mashed potatoes, and throw in some Parmesan and freshly ground pepper too if you would like.
  5. Done.  Eat and enjoy.

GARBANZO CAPRESE

In case Episode 3 didn’t alert you to this, I will mention again that the caprese is one of my all-time favorite salads.  The peach caprese I made last time was so delicious that I was very excited to try out the garbanzo caprese (now all that’s left would be a caprese with a basil substitute.  Who knows, maybe next time I’ll create my own peach, garbanzo, and arugula “caprese”…which actually sounds like it could be pretty good).  This version replaces the more traditional balsamic with a blend of cider and red wine vinegars, which keeps the salad very light and fresh.  I’m definitely going to be making this one again, and I have Roni at Green Lite Bites to thank.  You can find her original recipe here.  I found the recipe through Elaine O’Brien on Pinterest.

Garbanzo Caprese {serves 4}

  • 1 can chick peas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
  • about 25 large basil leaves, torn into small pieces
  • several cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • ½ tablespoon honey
  • freshly ground pepper to taste
  1. Combine all of the ingredients together in a large bowl.  Toss.
  2. Done.  Eat and enjoy.

This time I had almond milk to drink with the meal, which was a nice neutral complement to all the vinegar in the potatoes and the salad, especially since I had a bunch of almond milk left over from the potatoes.

After dinner, there were so many dishes that we decided to stall doing them by making desserts.  So, we came up with:

STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE AND COCOA BAILEY’S

Remember how we tried to make strawberry shortcake on the 4th of July and burnt the biscuits that were made with rancid Crisco anyway?  Well, this time we got some fresh ingredients and did it right (it sure beat doing all the dishes from the rest of the meal).  So, thanks to good, old-fashioned Fannie Farmer, I now present you with How To Make Really Awesome Strawberry Shortcake Entirely From Scratch:

Strawberry Shortcake

Cream Biscuits

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1-1½ cups heavy cream
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted
  1. Preheat the oven to 425°.
  2. Combine flour, baking powder, and sugar in a large bowl and stir with a fork.
  3. Slowly add one cup of cream to the mixture, stirring constantly.
  4. Gather the dough together.  It should hold together and not appear “shaggy” with pieces falling off.  If there is some shagginess, just add a little more cream and repeat.
  5. Knead the dough on a floured surface for about a minute.  Then pat it into a square about a ½ inch thick.
  6. Cut the dough into 12 squares and dip each square in the melted butter until all sides are evenly coated (I never said this would be healthy!).
  7. Place the buttered biscuits on an ungreased pan, and bake for about 15 minutes until they are lightly browned.
  • 1 large container strawberries, quartered
  • 1 cup heavy cream, whipped

Once the biscuits are done, top them with the sliced strawberries and whipped cream and enjoy!

After enjoying our strawberry shortcakes, and since we were apparently on a roll anyway, we decided to top off our night of cooking frenzy with a relaxing (and dish-delaying) hot drink, which also allowed us to use up the rest of our fresh whipped cream.

Cocoa Bailey’s

  • cocoa (we used some Ghiradelli hot chocolate mix that we found on the tea shelf)
  • water
  • Bailey’s (or, if you’re like us, generic “Irish Cream”)
  • fresh (or canned, I suppose) whipped cream
  • vanilla extract
  • cinnamon
  1. Boil the water.
  2. Place a heaping spoonful of cocoa mix at the bottom of each cup, and top with the hot water.
  3. Stir until thoroughly mixed.
  4. Add a generous splash of Bailey’s (ahem, I mean Irish Cream) and a tiny splash of vanilla extract.  Stir again.
  5. Top with a scoop of whipped cream and a dusting of cinnamon.
  6. Done.  Sip slowly and enjoy.

So that’s all for Episode 4 (extended edition).  Hopefully there was at least something in all of that that you liked.  If not, there’s still one episode left in the Miniseries!

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The Miniseries, Part III

I know, I know.  It’s been a while.  Believe it or not, I couldn’t keep up the frantic posting pace I started out with, especially since I’ve been busy apartment-hunting this past week or so (more about that to come).  But never fear; I have not abandoned you for good.  In fact, I now present Part III of the Miniseries.  The menu this time will be fresh pasta with tomato sauce, baked zucchini fries, and a peach caprese salad.

Baked Zucchini Fries, Fresh Pasta with Tomato Sauce, and Peach Caprese Salad

This time, all of the ingredients used were from Schnucks (substitute whatever your local grocery store is called, and you too should be good to go) or Trader Joe’s.  Also, WARNING: I forgot to photograph the zucchini fries and the pasta by themselves.  Whoops!  Too hungry, I guess.  Forgive me?

FRESH PASTA WITH TOMATO SAUCE

So, my inclusion of this recipe is all wrong for several reasons.  First of all, I didn’t technically find it on Pinterest.  I found it on the Internet at large and then put it on Pinterest myself.  Second of all, I feel that I’m being slightly traitorous to my grandmother’s wonderful, wonderful sauce recipe.  But I will go ahead and justify that by saying that this one I can make faster since I mind cutting corners less when the recipe doesn’t have personal connections, and furthermore family recipes should stay in the family.  Right?  That’s why you definitely can’t find a variation of my family’s pizza and pasta sauce recipes at any Amato’s… Oh wait.  You can.  Moral of the story: go to Amato’s or my house to sample my family sauce recipe, or read on to sample Giada’s as found on foodnetwork.com.

Fresh Pasta with Tomato Sauce {serves 4 twice}

  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 2 28-oz cans crushed tomatoes
  • 1 small can tomato paste (my addition)
  • about 6 basil leaves
  • 2 dried bay leaves (just leave them out if you don’t have any)
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • fresh pasta (Trader Joe’s just got this!  Find it by the ravioli)
  1.  Sauté the onion and garlic in a large pot until the onion is translucent.
  2. Add the celery and carrot, season with pepper, and continuing sautéing until all the vegetables are soft.
  3.  Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, basil, and bay leaves.
  4.  Reduce the heat to low, and simmer until the sauce is thick enough.
  5. While the sauce is simmering, boil some water and cook the pasta according to the directions on the package.
  6.  Remove the bay leaves and blend the sauce in a blender or food processor.  I like to leave it with a fair bit of texture.
  7. Toss the pasta with about half of the sauce.
  8.  Done.  Eat and Enjoy.

One of the best things about this recipe (aside from how good it tastes) is that a half-recipe will adequately cover a whole box of pasta, meaning you can freeze the other half and save it for when you need to make a quick meal later.

BAKED ZUCCHINI FRIES

These.  Are.  Incredible.   A great way to eat your vegetables while feeling like you’re getting away with something.  This time the recipe really was found on Pinterest.  The credit for the original recipe goes to Georgia at The Comfort of Cooking.  I found the recipe through Sarah Maleas on Pinterest (who found it through Lindsay at The Lean Green Bean) and you can find it here.  These were very easy to make, and saved relatively well (they were still good the next day when I warmed some up in the toaster oven).

Baked Zucchini Fries {serves around 4}

  • 3 medium zucchini, sliced lengthwise into thin strips
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • ½ cup panko breadcrumbs (I ended up using more than a ½ cup)
  • 2 tablespoons Parmesan, finely grated
  • freshly ground pepper
  1. Preheat the over to 425°.
  2. Beat the eggs in a shallow bowl.  Place flour in a second bowl and mix the breadcrumbs and Parmesan in a third.
  3.  Dip the zucchini sticks in the flour, then the egg, then the breadcrumbs, making sure all sides are well-coated.
  4.  Place the prepared zucchini sticks on a greased baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes, until golden brown and crispy.
  5.  Done.  Eat and enjoy.

These were delicious dipped in some of the extra tomato sauce.  We also had enough egg left over that we were able to make a scrambled egg appetizer (delicious with some of the leftover basil and Parmesan thrown in)!

PEACH CAPRESE

One of my all-time favorite salads is the simple caprese (mozzarella, tomato, and basil tossed with a little olive oil), so I was excited to try this summer-sweet variation.  It tasted just as good as it sounded.

The recipe comes from realsimple.com.  I found it through Lauren Conrad on Pinterest.  Is she famous?  I thought her name sounded familiar.  Either way, she certainly knows how to pick out a good salad.

Peach Caprese {serves 4}

  • 3 ripe peaches, cut into bite-size cubes
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves, torn
  • 8 oz. mozzarella, cubed
  • approximately 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • freshly ground pepper to taste
  1.  Combine all of the ingredients together in a large bowl.  Toss.
  2. Done.  Eat and enjoy.

I enjoyed the meal with a glass of Bandit Pinot Grigio. It comes in a bright green box and is delicious not only the night of, but also three nights later.  Some left over to have with the leftovers!  What’s not to love?

So that’s all for Episode 3.  Look for the next installment soon (preview: there’s another delicious caprese variation to look forward to)!

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The Miniseries, Part II

As the weekend approached, I had the time and inclination to cook another feast.  So, I now present episode 2 of the Pinterest-based, food blog-inspired miniseries!  The menu this time will be Pad Thai with Sriracha Lime Brussels sprouts and a simple side salad with ginger carrot dressing.

Again, all of the ingredients used were from Trader Joe’s (or found in my kitchen, but you get the idea).

PAD THAI

Pad Thai

The credit for this recipe goes to Patricia at Brownies for Dinner.  Check out her original recipe (via Everyday Foodhere.  I found it via Abigail Seadler on Pinterest.

This is a non-traditional Pad Thai recipe, with a soy sauce base replacing the more-authentic-yet-harder-to-find-in-an-American-grocery items like tamarind paste and fish sauce.  It was quite good, but would have been significantly better had I more perfectly mastered the art of cooking rice noodles without turning them into a sticky glob.  There’s always next time…

Pad Thai {serves 2-4 people}

  • 8 ounces rice noodles (I found some next to the fresh pasta in Trader Joe’s, but they were thin and round as opposed to the traditional wide, flat noodles)
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (save some lime wedges for garnish if you’d like)
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil (I used the light olive oil my roommates got instead of extra virgin, and that worked well too)
  • 3 scallions, white parts thinly sliced and green parts sliced in half-inch pieces
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten (or, if you’re like me, just dropped straight into the pan)
  • fresh cilantro and crushed roasted peanuts to taste
  1. Cook noodles according to package instructions (although I would recommend cooking them according to the instructions in the original recipe, given the way mine turned out).
  2. Whisk together the brown sugar, lime juice, and soy sauce in a small bowl.  Set aside.
  3. Sauté the garlic and the white bits of the scallions over medium high heat until fragrant.
  4. Add the eggs, scraping the pan with a spatula continuously until set.  Remove from pan and set aside.
  5. Add the cooked noodles, the green scallion bits, and the sauce to the pan.  Cook (stirring continuously) for about a minute.
  6. Add the egg mixtures and toss in with the noodles until well mixed.
  7. Serve topped with fresh cilantro and crushed peanuts (and lime wedges, if you saved any).
  8. Done.  Eat and enjoy.

SRIRACHA LIME BRUSSELS SPROUTS

Sriracha Lime Brussels Sprouts from From Dahlias to Doxies

The perfect accompaniment to the Pad Thai turned out to be these Sriracha Lime Brussles Sprouts, which taste a lot like an egg roll (without the grease and MSG).  Delicious and good for you!  This time the credit for the original recipe goes to Ashley at From Dahlias to Doxies.  I found the recipe through Tanda Pfannenstiel on Pinterest and you can find it here.  These were insanely easy to make, and if you’re not a huge fan of Brussels sprouts, the sauce would be good on most veggies.  It could even serve as a salad dressing!  I would note, however, that these are best consumed fresh, since the leftovers were nowhere near as good as the straight-from-the-pan originals.

Sriracha Lime Brussels Sprouts {serves 4}

  • 1 pound whole Brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut in half
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Sriracha
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  1. Sauté the Brussels sprouts (cut-side down recommended) until golden brown.
  2. Whisk together the Sriracha, honey, and lime juice in a small bowl.
  3. Remove Brussels sprouts from heat and toss with Sriracha mixture.
  4. Done.  Eat and enjoy.

GINGER CARROT DRESSING

Ginger Carrot Dressing from Skinnytaste

When I was a little kid, pretty much the only salad (ok, salad ingredient) I would eat was the cucumbers from the side salads at Japanese restaurants.  Oddly specific but true.  That’s because I loved the ginger carrot dressing on the little side salads, and the cucumbers were an acceptable dressing-vehicle (after all, it’s not like I was going to eat the lettuce).

While I now (happily) eat a wide variety of salads and dressings, I still have a soft spot for ginger carrot dressings.  I was therefore delighted when I came across this recipe from Gina at Skinnytaste.  Her original recipe can be found here.  This is another recipe I found via Maria from Two Peas and Their Pod on Pinterest.  Using the dressing recipe and my memories of Japanese restaurant side salads, I came up with my own version.  Feel free to use whichever salad ingredients you like/have on hand.  I think it could be good with some purple cabbage and/or sliced tomato in addition to what I used.

Salad with Ginger Carrot Dressing {serves many}

Note: The original recipe calls for a 1/4 cup minced onion, but since eating raw onion makes me sick, I jacked up the measurements for the carrot, celery, and ginger.  The numbers listed here are from the original recipe, so…just use your discretion.)

Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup carrot, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon celery, minced
  • 3 tablespoons sesame oil (or peanut oil–if you don’t have either, I’m sure vegetable oil or olive oil would be fine)
  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar (we ran out of rice vinegar about a tablespoon shy and substituted white wine vinegar for the rest)
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • fresh ground black pepper to taste
  1. Mix ingredients together in a blender and blend until smooth.  My blender recently died and the one my roommate got as a replacement has some trouble blending evenly, so I can tell you confidently that that is still good chunky.
  2. Done.

Salad (ingredient amounts depend on how much salad you want to make):

  • butter lettuce
  • 1-2 carrots, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cucumber, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • sprouts
  • 2 tablespoons avocado
  • fresh cracked pepper
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Toss with dressing.
  3. Done.  Eat and enjoy.
The full meal: Pad Thai with Sriracha Lime Brussels Sprouts and Ginger Carrot Salad
We enjoyed the meal with the leftover Prosecco with lemon sorbet.  It would also pair well with a light beer (Sapporo or Kirin come to mind here, if we’re going with the Americanized pan-Asian theme).

So that’s it for episode 2.  I know I enjoyed expanding beyond the boundaries of my usual cuisines of choice, and I hope you will too!

PS: Yeah, I know.  The photography is still nowhere near food blog quality.  However, I really can’t be bothered to try to fix the horrible yellow light in my kitchen when I’m hungry and staring down a plate of delicious food.  Maybe episode three will be better.  I guess we’ll just have to wait and see!

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Happy Birthday, America

This year was my first real 4th of July in about four years.  For the past few years I have been lucky enough to be in Europe around this time, and, oddly enough, they don’t seem to celebrate the 4th in quite the same way.  I did, however, get an approximation of the 4th of July experience in Göttingen last summer, what with the omnipresent American flag clothing and random fireworks displays.

America Shorts in Göttingen, Germany

In case you are wondering, yes, I got those shorts (which turned out to be trickier than I expected, since they were sold out in the first store I checked), and yes, I wore them on the 4th this year.  Between the shorts, the red lipstick, and the blue and white glitter, it was probably the most patriotic outfit I have ever managed.

My holiday actually kicked off the night of July 3rd with the FBC (Fucking Bike Club a.k.a. late night Full Moon Fiasco bike rides all around the city with a few hundred people).  FBC’s are always awesomely unpredictable, and this one was no exception.  For three hours straight we rode around the city, winding south, looping back through Carondelet Park, and ending for some celebration by the banks of the Mississippi before splitting off and riding past the Anheuser-Busch brewery on the way into the heart of Soulard in search of a diner.  The diner turned out to be closed by the time we arrived, but fortunately (for the boys), the Jimmy John’s across the street was open for delivery.  So they called and had sandwiches delivered out to the parking lot, and we headed over to a friend’s apartment to watch a few episodes of Police Squad and crash on his sofas (in fact, after all that bike riding I crashed halfway through the first episode).

In the morning, we woke up and began our July 4th by riding back from Soulard to the Cookie Tree Mansion (as my house is affectionately known) for breakfast and a much-needed shower (a long night and hot morning full of bike-riding left me sweatier than I would like to think about—all and all it was about 30 miles in 80+ degree heat).

The 4th of July festivities commenced with a Cookie Tree barbecue.  We successfully made delicious veggie burgers with bean salad, watermelon, and chips, but the strawberry shortcake had to be postponed due to biscuit failure.  Our Crisco had gone bad and the biscuits a). didn’t rise and b). tasted like straight baking soda.  I didn’t know Crisco could even go bad.

The results of our barbecue (unfortunately without strawberry shortcake).

I also finally got a chance to try some of the cocktail recipes I’ve been wanting to make, since my roommates were altruistic enough to be willing to serve as guinea pigs.  So I can now confidently provide you with the means to make G&T Jell-O, Peaches & Cream Jell-O, and Prosecco with Lemon Sorbet and Mint.

Gin & Tonic Jell-O

  • 1 cup tonic water
  • 1 cup gin
  • 1 small package lime Jell-O
  1. Bring the tonic to a boil.
  2. Turn off the heat, add the Jell-O packet, and stir continuously for two minutes.
  3. Stir in the gin.
  4. Pour into a container and place into the refrigerator (NOT the freezer).
  5. Leave alone until set (2-4 hours).
  6. Slurp up!

Keep in mind that these pack the punch of a real G&T, so enjoy responsibly (and prepare your taste buds).

Peaches& Cream Jell-O

  • 1 cup water (can be mixed with Dixie Peach juice, found at Trader Joe’s)
  • 1/2 cup vodka
  • 1/2 cup Irish cream (you could use Bailey’s, but we went with the cheaper off-brand)
  • 1 small package peach Jell-O
  1. Bring the water and peach juice mixture to a boil.
  2. Turn off the heat, add the Jell-O packet, and stir continuously for two minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, mix together the vodka and Irish cream.
  4. Temper the vodka/cream mixture by adding a small amount of the hot Jell-O liquid and stirring.  Then slowly pour the tempered mixture into the hot Jell-O, whisking to combine as you do.  This will ensure that the cream does not curdle.
  5. Pour into a container and place into the refrigerator (NOT the freezer).
  6. Leave alone until set (2-4 hours).
  7. Eat up!

I’m especially proud of this one since it’s entirely my own recipe and came out really well.  Despite the temptation, remember not to eat it all in one go!

Prosecco with Lemon Sorbet and Mint

  • prosecco
  • lemon sorbet
  • fresh mint
  1. Place fresh mint leaves in the bottom of glass until it is it covered.
  2. Muddle the mint leaves (a spoon works well for this if you, like me, don’t happen to have fancy bar tools).
  3. Add a scoop of lemon sorbet and top with prosecco.
  4. Sip up!

These look as pretty as they taste, and would be a perfect cocktail party drink.  Plus, the sorbet acts as ice and keeps the prosecco cool in the summer heat.  It’s an ice cream float for grown-ups!

Anyway, after playing bartender for a while a few of us headed up to the observatory roof at Wash U to watch the fireworks being shot off downtown over the Arch, and arrived to find that a whole crowd of people had had the same idea.  The moon was incredible.  Big, red, and slowly rising, it definitely stole the show.  Unfortunately, it was too dark for me to get any good pictures without a tripod.

You can tell what’s going on here, right?

While the official show was short, fireworks continued to go up all night around the city.  Sitting up on the rooftop patio of the Moonrise (our post-observatory destination for the evening), we had a near 360-degree view of the city and the sound of fireworks popping in the distance punctuated our conversation throughout the night.

So, Happy Birthday, America, and here’s to remembering what those fireworks stand for as we move toward the election: independence from an oppressive government and life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for ALL citizens.

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The Miniseries, Part I

Consider this the first episode of a five-part miniseries in which I cook elaborate three-part meals using recipes I find on Pinterest and relay my experiences to you.  I get something to write about, you get recipes, and we all get something delicious to eat.  Everyone wins.  (Note: I am aware that there are already thousands of recipe blogs and Pinterest-based food-testing blogs.  I don’t care.)

For the first meal in the series I decided to make barbecue tempeh burgers with broiled pepper and vinegar fingerling potatoes and a kale salad.

All of the ingredients used can be (and were) found at Trader Joe’s.

BARBECUE TEMPEH CHEESEBURGERS

The credit for this recipe goes to Marina at Yummy Mummy Kitchen.  Check out her original recipe here.  I found it via Maria from Two Peas and Their Pod on Pinterest, along with a ton of other awesome-looking recipes.

One thing to keep in mind if you decide to make these is that tempeh is incredibly filling (but also good for you and full of protein!).  I couldn’t even finish my burger, although that may also be due to the fact that cooking large meals mysteriously makes me less hungry than when I started.  The original recipe calls for grilling or baking the burgers, but since I didn’t realize that (I have a bad habit of not reading recipes all the way through before starting on them) and couldn’t be bothered to figure out how the grill someone left in our backyard works, I cooked them in a pan on the stovetop.  Do whatever feels right.

Barbecue Tempeh Cheeseburgers {serves 2 hungry people}

  • 1 package tempeh (found next to the tofu and other soy products)
  • barbecue sauce (I went with the Sweet Baby Ray’s that one of my roommates from first semester left behind, but use whatever you have on hand)
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • half of one yellow onion, sliced
  • two pretzel rolls, halved
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • sharp cheddar cheese
  • microgreens (I went with pea shoots, but any sort of sprout would work)
  1. Cut the tempeh in half to form two square patties.  Place in a shallow dish and coat with barbecue sauce.  Set aside.
  2. Drizzle olive oil into a pan and sauté the sliced onions over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until caramelized.  This will take a while, so work on something else while you wait.
  3. Lightly grease another pan or griddle and turn the heat on to medium.  Add the tempeh burgers and cook until heated through.
  4. Toast the pretzel rolls (I would recommend using a toaster oven if you have one, because you can melt the cheese right on).
  5. Once the patties are cooked, assemble the burgers by placing them on a toasted pretzel roll and adding sliced avocado, caramelized onions, microgreens, and cheese (if you haven’t already melted it on).
  6. Done.  Eat and enjoy.

PEPPER AND VINEGAR FINGERLING POTATOES

What could be better with alternative burgers than alternative French fries?  This time the credit for the original recipe goes to Carolyn at Umami Girl.  I found the recipe through Molly Moog on Pinterest.  I will say before setting out that you should probably just look at the original recipe for this one.  I have a tendency to be impatient about potatoes and not cook them as long as they should be cooked to bring out maximum tastiness.  That said, I still thoroughly enjoyed mine.

Pepper and Vinegar Fingerling Potatoes {serves 4}

  • 1 pound fingerling (teeny tiny) potatoes, sliced lengthwise
  • a significant amount of white wine vinegar
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • fresh cracked pepper
  1. Put the potatoes in a small pot.  Add as much vinegar as you think you can spare (up to 2 cups).  Cover the potatoes the rest of the way with water.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400° (or, if you have a functional oven, preheat the broiler).
  3. Bring the potato pot to a boil and then lower the heat and let simmer until the potatoes are fork-tender.  Drain well.
  4. It is recommended that you let the potatoes cool and pat them dry with a paper towel before continuing.  I did not do this, but probably should have.
  5. Toss the potato slices with olive oil and lots of fresh cracked pepper.  Once they are well-coated, spread them out on a cookie sheet and place in the oven until lightly browned.
  6. Done.  Eat and enjoy.

KALE SALAD WITH AVOCADO, CARROTS, AND FENNEL

This is probably my all-time favorite salad, and I owe it all to Heidi from 101 Cookbooks.  Her original recipe can be found here.  This salad is amazing.  I cannot say enough good things about it.  So I won’t try.  I will just get straight to the point and enable you to try it for yourself.

Kale Salad with Avocado, Carrots, and Fennel {serves many}

Salad:

  • half package/bundle of kale, de-stemmed and torn into small pieces
  • 1 package Israeli (large) cous cous, cooked
  • 4-5 carrots, very thinly sliced
  • 1 fennel bulb, shaved (I used a vegetable peeler)
  • 1 avocado, cut into small cubes
  • handful of sliced almonds, toasted (a toaster oven is perfect for this)

Dressing:

  • 2 green onions (scallions), minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 2 tablespoons avocado
  • fresh cracked pepper
  1. Tear the kale into bite-sized pieces and put in a salad bowl.
  2. Mix the finely chopped scallions, lemon juice, olive oil, honey, avocado, and pepper.  I would recommend putting all of the ingredients in a Tupperware container, sealing it tightly, and just shaking.
  3. Massage most of the dressing into the kale using your hands.  This is an important (and rather fun) step, as it softens and brightens the raw kale, making it much more enjoyable to eat.
  4. Add the cous cous, carrots, fennel, and combine.
  5. Add the avocados and almonds and toss lightly.
  6. Done.  Eat and enjoy.
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Sam Adams Tasman Red Red IPA
The whole meal paired very well with the Sam Adams Tasman Red Red IPA, from the Limited Release collection.  Dark and mellow for an IPA, this beer complemented the sweet and  tangy barbecue sauce, the mellow potatoes, and the citrusy salad dressing perfectly.

So that’s it for episode 1.  I hope you were at least a little bit inspired.  I know that I will certainly be making that salad again, if nothing else.  In the meantime, look here for a sneak preview of what’s to come!

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NB: I know that that food photography in this post leaves much to be desired.  So does the light in my kitchen.  I will strive to do better in the future (especially since I will think of taking pictures earlier than halfway through cooking the meal).

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