Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Mediterranean Pasta Salad

It's been hotter than the dickens lately.  Ok, not really.  But when you live in a condo w/ no central air, anything over 75 degrees makes me a bit anxious.  We have a portable a/c in Kuen's room and we crank it down to 65 on "hot" days so when I get home, I open/shut the door as quickly as possible so I can keep as much cool air in this condo as I can.  


Ahhh, come to mama.

When I see Gabe lollygagging instead of slamming the door shut as quickly as possible, I always yell "close the door!" then he stops what he's doing (with the door OPEN) and looks as me with a quizzical , "huh?" every. damn. time.  Same thing happens when he does this w/ the fridge or freezer door.  Anger stroke.

I've gotten more used to it but I can't bear to turn the stove on for long periods of time and you can forget any kind of baking until September at the earliest.  Which is silly, considering how cookie season is in the summer.  Ok, nevermind.  Cookies are prettymuch always in season.

If you have some leftover pasta in your fridge, 'cooking' this pasta salad adds approximately ZERO degrees to your (already hot) kitchen.  I've also just done the cooking parts in the morning when things haven't gotten too hot yet and then I've prepped some things to make dinner come together even faster so I can get done w/ dinner and park myself in front of a fan as quickly as possible.


I was in such a hurry to shovel this in my mouth I took a blurry picture. Sue me.


Mediterranean Pasta Salad

makes 6 servings

2 c. grape tomatoes, halved
1 English (or hot house) cucumber, diced
1 red pepper, julienned 
1 c. kalamata olives, roughly chopped
6 oz. dry salami, thinly sliced
4 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
8 oz. short cut pasta (1/2 lb)
1 green onion, sliced thinly (optional)

Greek Dressing

1/3 red wine vinegar
2/3 cup of extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic finely minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon dried basil
2 teaspoons of Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons of salt
1/2 teaspoon of onion powder


Cook pasta according to package instructions.  While the pasta cooks, cut and prepare tomatoes, cucumber, pepper, olives and salami and toss together in a large bowl.  Prepare dressing.  After draining the pasta, allow it to cool slightly before adding to the vegetables.  Dress the salad (I use about 1/3 to 1/2 a cup) stir to combine.  Mix in feta, salami and fold.  Garnish with green onions.  Taste and adjust seasoning or add more dressing.

This pasta salad can be made ahead of time and gets better as the flavors blend.  

The dressing is seriously good.  This recipe make more then you need so I love to use the dressing as a marinade or to pour over sliced tomatoes.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Listing a List of Lists #7



This beautiful salad inspired me.



Food I'm Loving:

Thai Steak Salad w/ sweet & spicy tahini dressing.  Wow.  And keeping w/ the Thai theme - this salad too.  

Bacon Jam.  I'm almost scared to look at the recipe for fear that I could/would actually make it.  Costco was actually selling Seattle's own Skillet version and picked some up before they decided to not carry it and I would never find it there again.  So great on sandwiches and we actually tried slathering on blueberry waffles the other day - pretty yum!  

Curried veggie and chickpea stew.  Made this yesterday and it made a HUGE batch.  Subbed chicken stock and kale instead of veggie stock and spinach, added orzo pasta - will be a great fall recipe.  It is so hearty and comforting, I skipped (but didn't even miss) the coconut milk.

I've been loving all the sockeye salmon recipes and we've been eating it all summer.  Was on sale at Costco for $6/lbs (!!) and I snagged a (huge) whole fish for under $30.  God bless the Pacific Northwest!

Shrimp 'n grits. It's so fancy, you already know.

Pecan Blondie Dunkers.  Kuen realized she actually likes pecans (and almonds) after her father's insistence that they were yucky and clouded her judgement.  She's since seen the light.  But I guess it goes both ways since apparently Kuen now likes to eat broccoli slathered w/ mayonnaise like her dad.  Gag.

Double chocolate pancakes for bfast?  I wish.  

Millionaire's Shortbread.  As if I really needed this recipe in my life.  Ok, no really, I do.

Apricot Buttermilk Pie - intriguing.  I'd like to try this so if anyone could pls volunteer to make one, I'd be happy to taste test.

Or someone else could volunteer for this blueberry custard pie.


Such a crowd pleaser..


Interesting to Me:

I recently had a horrible customer service experience with Lululemon.  They completely let me down when it came time to resolve my issue and IMHO, if you're going to charge the crazy ass prices they charge for workout clothes, they had better come through like a champ when a customer is justifiably unsatisfied.  Needless to say, I was underwhelmed.  I have been on the hunt for a replacement.  Hell hath no fury like a consumer scorn!  Luckily, I've found a pretty good replacement in Kate Hudson's Fabletics.  I've gotten a few pairs of capris and tanks which I'm already loving!  Bye bye forever, Lulu (jerks).

Best way to organize your fridge.  B, any thougths?  I have a notoriously cluttered and messy eclectic and well-stocked fridge.

I've kept my eggs on the counter for years now.  Yes, even in the summer and I'm still alive.

So excited this is happening next year.  I'll actually be able to see the Bellevue location from my office.  That means I'll also be able to see my office from Chick-fil-a when I walk over there for lunch every day.  Maybe I should just relocate my desk to Chick-fil-a.

Ice Bucket Challenge videos that made me laugh: Mitt Romney, Bill GatesGeorge W., Benedict Cumberbatchthis one is especially funny since it goes through several replays as well as a slow motion of W's.  I could watch Will Smith dump ice on his head all day.

I just love Jimmy Fallon.  I couldn't stop laughing when she's yelling at the step dad.  In the Taylor Swift one too.  This Jimmy Kimmel one is an oldie but goodie.

After a conversation w/ a friend at drinks a while ago, she encouraged me to take a test to find out my strengths.  Top strength according to this test was "learner".  Not strategy or empathy or deliberation..learner.  I'm not sure why I was disappointed but I started to think of it as me just being curious about all things I don't know about (which is prettymuch everything) in life.  One of my huge takeaways was that I needed to read more and I've found a very effective way to squeeze in more books by going the audiobook route.  I just pop one in and listen on my drive to/from work.  Best part?  It's free.  Download Overdrive app and check audiobooks out from your library - FO FREE and it makes my drive so much more pleasant.  

Currently listening to this book by Brene Brown and it makes me want to quit corporate America and study social sciences (it's my inner Carrie Anderson! xo).  So fascinating.  Finished Wally Lamb's We Are Water also and can I just say how effed up I think Wally Lamb is?  I had to fast forward through the Kent character's parts.  I only gave it 2 stars on Goodreads.  I haven't read his other (even more highly rated) book all the way through but I do remember really liking She's Come Undone which I read a thousand years ago.

Just for Fun:


Thanks, Sarah!!
Gabe and I celebrated our 6th wedding anniversary on 8/8.  I can't even believe I've known this guy for 8 years now.  What a crazy roller coaster ride it's been so far.  Love you, hon!  xoxo

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Homemade Taco Seasoning

I don't remember which brand caused me to do a double take last time I read the ingredient list of the taco seasoning - but it clearly freaked me out enough to make me want to make my own.  Now I don't even think about buying those taco seasoning packets anymore.  



Or that one time I had all the ingredients to make tacos only to realize I had run out of the freaking taco seasoning packet - AH!  Then you realize the interwebs are full of wonderful information that can save your cooking plans and you can have those lovely tacos or burritos or whatever you were going to make out of taco-seasoned fill-in-the-blank.  Woo!

I've also taken to using this spice mix for other things like dressings, sprinkling on cut up veggies, etc. - super versatile.  The list of spices is a tad long so I get it if you'd rather save the time and buy one of those convenient little packets instead, but if you're like me - you buy a spice with the intention of using it in A (singular) recipe, then never end up using it again.  The jar moves with you to the next 3 homes and you're now looking at a spice that expired in 2004 (which, how was that a whole decade ago?!).  I may or may not be pulling inspiration from personal experience.  So this is also a good recipe to use up those spices you may not typically use in your normal repertoire (I'm talking to you, chili powder & cumin).


Homemade Taco Seasoning Recipe*

makes roughly 2-3 packets worth

Adapted loosely from this recipe

2 tablespoon chili powder (ancho or regular)
1 tablespoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1 1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

Combine ingredients in a bowl, mix thoroughly.  Store in an airtight container in a cool/dry/dark place for up to 2 months.

I use about 1 to 1.5 tablespoons of this for about 1.5 lbs of ground meat when I'm doing taco meat.  

* this is a pretty mild blend heat wise - husband and daughter prefer it that way but no one says you can't throw more in if you prefer - I won't tell the cops. 
Another favorite is using this seasoning to make a salad dressing when I get sick of buffalo chicken salads (which happens prettymuch all the time).  Or I ripped off one of my favorite restaurants and use this on cut up veggies with a spritz of lime juice.  YUM!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Listing a List of Lists #6

Food I'm Loving:

There was a bit of a 'heat wave' that rolled through the northwest (FL people, try not to snicker) and I have been completely obsessed w/ iced coffee since.  I started researching and settled on making my own with this recipe which I had to dilute considerably.  If I ever run out of gas in my car, I could use this stuff it's so high octane.  I'll try Pioneer Woman's next but I just don't think the heat will last that long and anything taking up that much fridge space would warrant both of us would drink.  Also, why go through the trouble if I can just buy it from TJ's?  

A friend sent me this overnight oats recipe - chocolate and hazelnuts for bfast?  Woooo!


More good bfast ideas: Raspberry chia overnight oats, scrambled eggs and mustard greens on toast, blueberry pancake granola.

Where was this recipe a few days ago when I had banana that were on the verge of poltergeist status?  Ended up making my favorite browned butter banana bread but I always add walnuts to mine.

Easiest fridge dill pickles.  Steve - where are those damn pickles?!

Strawberry lemonade bars..right up Gabe's alley.  As is this strawberry lemonade cake

Bibimbap tacos - drool.


Someone in my household (hint: it's not Kuen) can have a very obnoxiously pretentious vocabulary but even he scoffed at this cherry buttermilk clafoutis.

Did you know July 20th was National Ice Cream Day??  We went to our favorite ice cream place and I may or may not have gone home w/ a pint of their Kentucky Bourbon Ice Cream.

Interesting to Me:

Love this pretty bracelet.  So dainty!

Who else is dying over the Gosling/Mendes baby announcement?  That poor child won't stand a chance w/ those genes.

Finished reading Someone Knows My Name by Lawrence Hill.  It was good.  I guess I had higher expectations considering all the stellar ratings on Amazon and Goodreads but I was meh about it.  The first several chapters were really difficult (graphic) to read.  Just finished reading The Goldfinch which I was recommended by several people - couldn't put it down.  Tell me what you're reading this summer!

If I were 22...

For all us working moms.."You have to cope because you die with guilt."

Thinking about blogging too?  I agree with most of these reasons...obviously don't do this for a paycheck so 6 & 7 are a stretch.  I guess I could just replace those w/ "it's fun"?

Just for Fun: 


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Zucchini Cakes

Raise your hand if you buy an ingredient w/ grand ideas of making something fabulous recipe you saw somewhere only to allow the ingredient get shoved behind the mountains of other things in your fridge and find it several days (or weeks if I'm being real) later with spots of mold and rot forming?  

*hand sheepishly raises*

I ended up using FIVE eggs instead so they're pretty hearty.
Could be used on top of salad as a light dinner or as a healthy breakfast.

That was the exact story of these beautiful zucchini I saw at the store after I was inspired by the award winning zucchini bread I posted about a while ago.  Um, yeah..  I read the recipe through and realized I'd only be using ONE freaking zucchini.  Plus, there were so many steps with the streusel, and choices between muffins or cakes, etc., etc., etc. I abandoned that and remembered about zucchini cakes.  


Zucchini Cakes


I did a little research and found several different versions and came up with my own mish-mash (that's a technical term) of several different versions out there using what I had on hand. 

Love the texture on these.

Zucchini Cakes

makes roughly a dozen 3" cakes

2-3 med/large zucchinis, grated and wring dry in a clean dish towel
1 c panko breadcrumbs (I'm sure regular breadcrumbs would work well too)
1/2 c grated parmigiano reggiano
5 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh black pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder (you can also use fresh)
1/2 tsp onion powder (optional)
light oil for frying

As with most cooking (NOT baking), this recipe's pretty forgiving so if you don't have exactly what's written here, don't worry - they should still turn out ok.  If you have more zucchini, add a little more egg, less, subtract and so on.

Grate zucchini on the large shred side of your box grater, should yield about 4 to 4.5 cups.  Next in a clean dish towel or cheese cloth, wring out the excess moisture of the grated zucchini in batches.  You'll want the shreds as dry as possible so they don't end up a soggy mess when you're frying them in the pan.  What's left should be about 3.5 cups of shreds that should be mostly dry to the touch.  Mix eggs, salt, pepper, garlic and onion powders together.  Fold grated cheese and breadcrumbs in to eggs then transfer the egg mixture into the zucchini and incorporate.  Let the mix stand for a few minutes.

In the meantime, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Heat a frying pan or cast iron skillet on medium heat.  When the pan is radiating heat (not yet smoking), heat 1/4" of oil in the pan until the oil starts to shimmer.  Drop in 3" heaps of the cakes and fry for a few (3-4) minutes until golden, flip and fry for another minute or two on the other side.  This will vary depending on how hot your stove is - I ended up having to turn down to low heat, they're a lot like cooking breakfast pancakes, first batch may or may not be sacrificial.

It's important not to crowd the pan or else you won't get a nice crispy texture on the outside of your cakes.  Transfer to a wire rack and finish frying the remaining batches.  When the cakes are done frying, put them in the oven for 5-10 minutes to set the middle of the cakes.  




Make ahead tips: you can actually freeze these after you've pan fried them and bake from frozen instead of finishing off or split the batch and only stick what you plan on eating in the oven, freeze the rest.  Just bake at 350 degrees for about 10-15 minutes until they're warmed through.

These are great w/ ranch or some tzatziki (thx Karen!) for dipping.   

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Listing a List of Lists #5

Food I'm Loving:

Grilled pizza seems so intimidating, no?

There have been a bunch of zucchini breads in my feed lately.  Wanna try this one. And anything claiming to be 'award winning' always gets my attention.

I love stratas - this cheesy bacony mushroomy spinachy one is on my list.


Summer snacky.  Can't get enough of Trader Joe's plantain chips.

How adorable are these macarons?  Someone please teach me how to make these.  Oh, and her polka dot icing cake is pretty gorgeous too.

This chickpea salad - looks so yum and refreshing.

Salted caramel apple pie bars.  Daaaaaaang.

Spicy Kale and Coconut Stir-fry.  Drink!


You had me at 'big river of cream cheese' - banana bread.

Jos/Jessie: If you lived closer, I'd totally make this for you (or this) after Charlize is born!  

Interesting to Me:

Honey: please stop reading here.  Everyone else: In honor of World Cup fever, I give you this.  The commentary is almost as good as the photos. I just left the page on #23 for a while.  Then made it down to #20. #15.  #1 - I need a hot tub full of Italian soccer players. Just wow.  I also saw Michael Ballack doing some commentary on ESPN and that dude is pretty damn fine as well.

Storing different types of flour - helpful! 

I'm guilty of this.  Sorry.


Flew through all three Study Series books by Maria Snyder.  I love young adult lit and I don't care if you're judging me for it.  Thank you, WA Post.

For all my pregos out there - go find a doctor like this.


More on Saved By the Bell..I know, I'm obsessed even after all these years and I definitely want to watch this.  But can I just say these guys don't look nearly as hot as the original cast?!


Speaking of which.. still in love w/ Zack Morris.  I remember all those Saved By the Bell references.  Don't judge but I kinda want to read Screech's tell all "Behind the Bell" - juicy!

I think I spent an entire day watching this gif and sent it to anyone who would listen - thanks Karen!


No more microbeads.  NO!


Really enjoyed this TED Talk about how schools kill creativity.  

Just for Fun:


Anyone w/ toddler-aged children has more blurry photos than usable ones.
Kuen in a particularly adorable dress I was NOT able to capture..

4th of July parade!  And yes, we were absolutely the most un-patriotic people there.  Oops!


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Listing a List of Lists #4

Food I'm Loving:

Jamie Oliver's Chicken in Milk.  Beautiful and very intriguing.


I have issues.  I bought blueberries 3 separate times in the past 2 weeks.  Haven't cracked open a single one yet to enjoy.  Bookmarked these for when they are on the brink: blueberry muffin skillet,  blueberry waffle cookies (oh wait, I need a damn waffle maker first)


Salted Caramel Hazelnut Chocolate Chunk Cookies.  WOW.


I made raspberry preserves so naturally I had to make these crazy good biscuits (again) meaning we should probably buy an at-home AED.  Or some butter futures.  Dairy futures maybe?  Is there such a thing?  There should be. 





Have several aging apples I need to use up.  Thank you SBA for posting an apple recipe in June!


These sound so refreshing.  Is there any possibility of residual gin on the container if I make these grown-up popsicles?  I do not support toddler alcoholism.  

Not sure why we don't think to buy it year round but summer is the start of this yummy beer at our house. 


Dangerous information to know about whipped cream.  Note to self: DEFINITELY buy an AED.


Or I can take that 1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream I have in my fridge and make salted caramel sauce instead.  Plus I would be eating it all myself since I'm the only one who likes caramel in this house.  (wrings hands)


People with flat stomachs probably aren't making recipes like this which is probably why I'll never have one.  A flat stomach, not chocolate cake.  Obviously.


Can you even call this 'chili'?  Looks pretty good but I think calling it chili is a stretch.


Fried pickles are seriously my favorite thing right now.  I can't justify frying anything at home (but I'll gladly use 4 sticks of butter in a biscuit recipe) so instead we order them if they're on the menu anywhere.  The only place I've found them in Seattle is this movie theater that serves food for $9.50 (!!) a basket.  We're talking like 10 chips per person max.  


Just look at this Lobster BLT - holy mother of *&#^%@$!


I love egg salad!  This is looks like a delicious spin on the traditional recipe.  How about with a side of pickled grapes?!


Lemon confit.  How fancy schmancy.



Peonies are my fave.

Interesting to Me:


So lucky to live in Washington!  Not only are we headed in to one of the most beautiful times of year here: summer (yes, we DO have summers here - they just tell you it rains all the time so you won't move here too), but I saw this article - true!


How adorable is this produce bag out of an old t-shirt?  Hon - your "Octopy Wall Street" shirt with the holes in the armpits is in the (forgive the expression) cross-hairs.  Gross.


Faux calligraphy - how cute!


Gabe jokes I'm turning Amish because I hang a lot of my delicate clothes to dry and want to make my own detergent (but it's purely because I don't like looking at those fugly liquid laundry detergent dispensers).  Has anyone else tried doing this?



She's been pretend answering the phone lately yelling: "This is Gabe!"  


Just for Fun:


Update on the old laundry closet.  First, let's never mention that chevron wall I tried.  It was an epic fail!  I peeled the tape off the wall and hated it.  So I didn't take any pictures and painted over it.  Let's never speak of the chevron wall again, ok?





Second, I love how it turned out.  I removed all the ugly wire shelves, installed stainless shelving, painted, installed a drying rack, hung retractable laundry line, decluttered the whole thing and now it's my favorite part of the house!  Still not 100% done with it but I'm loving the results so far and I use the space all the time now.  


It's a small enough space so that the crazy burst of color isn't overwhelming


I wonder if people named Susan are offended by this term.

If there's one thing I've learned living in this tiny condo, it's that you shouldn't wait to change something if you hate it.  Even if you're not planning on living at your current home for long, it's worth it to make it a place you absolutely love.