Back. (& a Kale and Sesame “Sushi” Bowl)

It’s been almost exactly two months since I last posted.  I’ve read lots of blogs where people talk about taking a break or needing some fresh ideas, or going on some crazy, awesome trip, but the truth is, I just ran out of time.  And if I want to be even more honest, I ran out of energy.

The last two months have been among the two craziest & change-filled months of my life.  There have been some incredible highs – my best friend getting married, for one – and some low lows.  Suffice to say, you want to put your best foot out on the interwebs, and I’ve been missing my fancy footwear.

And clearly, a LOT has happened.  The weather has changed, for one, and I’m back to taking pictures of food in the dark.  A favorite blogger is now vegetarian.  Eater published the best-ever interview of Ina Garten and it made me love her even more, if that’s possible.  Tom Brady (continued to) earn my eternal love and respect through sheer domination on my fantasy squad, and then left me hopelessly baffled and saddened through his “non-endorsement” endorsement of Donald Trump.  No words.

AND – it’s been over a year since I started this blog.  Going forward, I’m hoping to start posting regularly again, if not a little less frequently, due to a job change and less time to experiment in the kitchen.

So now, in honor of my vegetarian friend who sent me nice little notes during my period of absentia (thank you!!), I bring you the following, from A Modern Way to Eat.

IMG_3937

Kale & Sesame “Sushi” Bowl

  • 2 cups brown rice
  • salt
  • 1-2 cups frozen endamame (sans pods)
  • 1 pomegranate (you’re really just after the seeds, so feel free to buy pre-seeded)
  • dash sesame oil
  • 2 big handfuls shredded kale or other crunchy, leafy green, stalks removed
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • cilantro
  • avocado
  • optional: 1 egg (poached)
  • for the dressing:
    • zest and juice from 1 lemon
    • tablespoon honey
    • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
    • dash rice vinegar
    • salt, pepper
  1. Cook your rice according to package directions (ain’t no shame in the minute style).
  2. Heat the endamame through, either in the microwave or by putting them in a bowl and covering with boiling water.
  3. De-seed your pomegranate, as needed – instructions here.
  4. Heat a saute pan over medium heat, add a splash of sesame oil and saute the greens until a bit wilted, above 3-4 minutes.  Keep warm.
  5. Make your dressing by whisking all ingredients together.  Add a bit of the pomegranate juice, if you have any from the de-seeding process.
  6. Pour the dressing over the warm rice, add the sesame seeds and give the mixture a toss.  Add the rest of your salad ingredients and top with avocado and cilantro…and if you’re feeling good about it, a poached egg.  Add dressing as needed.

IMG_3940

The Verdict:

Not really a recipe?  I understand your point.  Still, it feels good to be back, and it feels good to eat this.  So that’s a win, in my book.

Asian-inspired Grilled Salmon Salad

This past weekend is now officially known as the Epic Weekend of Fun.  Just to run some of the numbers quickly:

  • One dip in an ice cold river.
  • Not one, but two epic cover bands.
  • The trifecta of lunches: brisket, burgers, and fried chicken.
  • Four amigos.
  • Five mile hike somewhere 45 minutes from the city, which felt like it was about 4500 miles from the city.
  • (Far too many) bottles of wine.  Let’s not put a number on this one.

This week, I’m thinking about atoning for our sins (side note: this seems to be a theme around here).  To the Husband’s chagrin, this means hitting up the fish train.  Honey: welcome to tonight’s dinner.

IMG_3802

Asian-Inspired Grilled Salmon

  • about 4-5 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon Sriracha
  • 1/2 inch ginger, grated
  • salt, pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound salmon fillets, skin on
  • 1 bag arugula/baby kale/spinach
  • 1 bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 bunch scallions, chopped
  • 1/2 avocado, sliced
  • cilantro, to serve
  1. In a small bowl, combine soy sauce through garlic and mix well.  Set aside about a third of the mixture to act as your dressing later on.  In a large flat bottom bowl, pour the soy sauce mixture and lay the salmon, flesh side down (to increase absorption).  Let it sit for about 20-30 minutes – any longer and the soy sauce will start to toughen up the protein.
  2. Heat a grill pan over medium heat and coat with cooking spray.  Add salmon, flesh side down, and grill about 4-5 minutes.  Using tongs, flip to the other side and grill until the middle is no longer pink.  The skin will sort of neatly fall away from the fish as you remove it.
  3. Assemble your salad ingredients (arugula through avocado) and lay your cooked fish on top.  Dress with the reserve soy sauce mixture + feel virtuous.

IMG_3798

The Verdict:

This is a super easy, super quick way to feel super virtuous and healthy.  Of course, we’ll be taking our nightly trip to Mr. Yogato right after this.  We finally have enough stamps for a free fro-yo! #theepicweekendcontinues

Grilled Curried Chicken Breast and Peach Salad

When the Husband and I were forced to move from our last apartment, we decided to make a big leap and move a whole one and a half blocks down, on the same street.  We are nothing if not adventurous.

Surprisingly, even this small change of scenery meant we noticed things we had never registered before.  For example, the Indian/Pakistani takeout place in the basement next door.  It even had an amazing name, involving the word “sacrificial.”  Um, OK.  Because the first thing either one of us suggests when we get home from a trip is Indian food, we’re in.

Sadly, Sacrificial didn’t live up to our (mental) hype.  So when we don’t want to walk the whole five blocks to our normal Indian place (hey, DC is HOT in the summer!), we have to make our own.  Fortunately, this dish is so easy no one feels like they’ve sacrificed anything.  Recipe adapted from Real Simple.

IMG_3815

Grilled Curried Chicken Breast and Peach Salad

  • about 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 pound chicken breasts, rinsed and patted dry
  • 2-3 peaches, sliced
  • 2-3 scallions, chopped
  • olive oil
  • salt, pepper
  • arugula
  • avocado
  1. In a small bowl, mix the yogurt, curry powder, hot sauce and garlic.  Set a little bit aside, for use as your sauce later.  Stick the rest of the mixture in a ziplock bag, put your chicken breasts in there, and make sure they’re coated thoroughly.  Go off on your merry/to work ways, and let marinate for about 8 hours.
  2. Heat a grill or grill pan to medium & coat with a little cooking spray.  Toss the sliced peaches with a little salt, pepper and olive oil; grill those about 3-4 minutes.  For the last minute or two, add your scallions.  Set aside and keep warm (I wrapped mine in aluminum).
  3. Remove the chicken from its marinade and add to to the grill, cooking about 4-5 minutes per side, or until done.
  4. Assemble your salad: arugula, avocado, chicken, peaches, & scallions.  Top with a little bit of reserved sauce.

IMG_3816

The Verdict:

I like to make a grilled peach, chicken and goat cheese salad that’s become a staple around here on those summer nights that we realize that we’ve eaten mostly ice cream, chocolate covered pretzels, and/or cheeseburgers.  This is a nice little update that delivers those same healthy-reset vibes, so you can get back to eating ice cream, chocolate covered pretzels, and/or cheeseburgers.

Gorgonzola Sausage Burger

I was a “vegetarian” for about ten years (i.e., I focused only on consuming pasta and cheese, and found that adopting the mantle of “vegetarian” was helpful in my quest to avoid all foods that were not pasta and cheese).

Burgers put an end to that.

The year was 2002, the setting, a 4th of July BBQ at a high school friend’s house.  Two (vegetarian) friends and I, bowled over by the smell of the grill, steathily helped ourselves to a burger.  We made our way to the garage so no one could see us, and carefully passed the stolen burger between the three of us, sharing bites, until it was gone.  Incidentally, so was my vegetarianism.

Thirteen years later, I actually love vegetables and eat far more than pasta and cheese.  (Side note: YAY!) And at least once a summer, I get that BBQ smell wafting under my nose and I just know: tonight is burger night.  Thanks to Husband for always indulging me.

IMG_3441[1]

Gorgonzola Sausage Burger

  • 1 pound high quality ground beef
  • optional but delicious: one hot Italian sausage link
  • big dash Worcestershire sauce
  • big handful crushed red pepper
  • salt, pepper
  • 1/4 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
  • cooking spray
  • to serve:
    • good buns, toasted
    • Sriracha mayo (i.e., one part Sriracha sauce to two parts mayonnaise, whipped together)
    • pickled onions and/or cucumbers – we used the basic method outlined here
    • sliced tomato
    • red onion
    • lettuce/arugula
    • avocado
    • potato chips!
  1. In a large bowl, mix your meat, Worcestershire, spices, onion and garlic together.  Form four large patties (don’t overwork the meat).  Note – the fattiness from the sausage and the ground beef will help to bind the patty together.  If not, add an egg and some breadcrumbs to help your cause!
  2. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat and spray with cooking spray.  Add your patties – cooking two at a time, or so – and cook about four minutes per side.  I like to tent the pan with aluminum foil in order to help the middle cook through a bit.
  3. Prep your buns! Add Gorgonzola to the bottom of each bun – this will help it melt.  (You can also add to the top of the burger as it cooks, either way.)  Add the meat patty and your favorite toppings.  Obviously, don’t forget the chips.

The Verdict:

Dear Husband, who prepared these last night: these are even better than the garage burger. Now, if only we had a backyard grill…

Ground Turkey Tostadas with Pickled Onions and Jalapeño

There’s nothing I don’t love about Mexican food.

Onions? Check. Cilantro? Check. Heat? Check. Crispy, fried corn chips? Check. Melted, delicious dairy? Yes, please.  Something you can make with veggies or with meat, so Husband doesn’t complain about wasting away? YUP.

Because we tend to have Mexican food fairly often, I keep a lookout for interesting twists.  This quick-pickling innovation, from Cooking Light, really is as good (and as quick) as it sounds.  Reduce the amount of jalapeño if heat isn’t your thing.  But seriously, make these.

IMG_3431

Ground Turkey Tostadas with Pickled Onions and Jalapeño

  • 1 thinly sliced red onion, divided
  • 2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1 small jalapeño pepper, thinly sliced
  • olive oil
  • 1 bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 pound lean ground turkey
  • large handful chili powder
  • about half handful ground cumin
  • 2-3 cloves minced garlic
  • small handful smoked paprika
  • small handful garlic salt
  • handful pepper
  • handful crushed red peppers
  • corn tostadas
  • to serve:
    • sour cream, cilantro, cheese, avocado
  1. Combine 1/2 of your sliced onion, vinegar, water, a little bit of sugar, about 1/4 teaspoon salt, and the jalapeño in a small saucepan over high heat.  Bring to a simmer and cook for a minute.  Remove from heat and place to the side while you make the rest of your meal.
  2. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat olive oil and add the other half of the onion, along with bell pepper.  Cook down about 5 minutes, and then add ground turkey and garlic.  Break the turkey up and add all of the spices.  Cook 5-7 minutes, or until browned.
  3. Drain pickled veggie mixture.  Top tostadas evenly with the ground turkey, pickled onions and jalapeños, a bit of sour cream, avocado, cilantro – whatever makes your heart sing.

IMG_3432

The Verdict:

While lamenting the effectiveness of the tostada as a food delivery system, Husband agrees: we should pickle more vegetables, more often.