Tuesday, March 30, 2010

gearing up

So… somehow our “small family gathering” for Easter has ended up at… 39 people. Hahahaha. Because the Orthodox and Western churches are on different calendars, our Easter is often later than y’alls (David Sedaris claims it's a conspiracy by the cheapo Greeks to get their Peeps on sale, hahahahaha) but this year it’s the same. So the more the merrier!

We’ve been (and will likely continue to spend the next 5 days) running around semi-maniacally. Buying groceries (Costco and Safeway down; the Greek store, farmer’s market, and HMart yet to go), taking apart and putting together furniture (not directly related to Easter but difficult!), organizing recipes, making lists, cleaning, cooking, etc!

I’m stoked for the lovely weather predicted. My dear grandmother always said (somewhat blasphemously?) God is Greek!

Now that I’m a convert to the green monster, I COMPLETELY understand its appeals. Quick, convenient, easy to eat; a nutritional missile delivered to your belly in a simple, tasty, complete form.


Today’s had 1 cup milk, 1 cup thawed frozen spinach, 1 frozen banana, 1 T peanut butter, and ice. SO delicious! You really honest and truly don’t taste the spinach! So weird!

I know the usual topper is granola, but I really don’t like granola that much and we rarely have it. So I went for my puffs!


With a chaser of roughly a gazillion of my old friends:


We restocked at Costco :D It is seriously mind boggling how delicious these are. Especially when you consider that you are ingesting vegetables. Like, it’s just dried vegetables. And a teensy bit of heart-healthy canola oil, but they’re not even fried. Man oh man I love these things.

That break having ended, I then polished silver for an hour, including this awesome coffee/tea set.


What a wonderful, soothing task. I love mindless work sometimes.

I have taken the occasional break for a quality indulgence.


Holy goodness! Another winner. A very balanced dark chocolate- I know the chocolate snobs say you need like 99.99% dark chocolate but I still like my chocolate to be sweet! This did the bitter/sweet line beautifully.

Dinner was nice because my leetle seester is now home for Spring Break! My mama went to get her at the airport (the distance to BWI and traffic sitch meant the round-trip journey went from 5:30 to 9:15, oi) and I welcomed them home with taco fixins hot and ready to go.

I was eyeing Melinda's yummy looking black beans and decided to use her recipe for inspiration for a taco filling.


Into the pan went a can, mostly drained, of black beans (Goya low sodium, you know it), the remains of a jalapeno (part of party prep is also cleaning out the fridge!), tomato paste (also trying to use up what was in the fridge!) and spices- garlic powder, onion powder, and cumin.

Meanwhile I got some tortillas.


My mom apparently REALLY WANTED us to have enough tortillas the last time she bought them.


This kind is good, though. Being lucky enough to live in a neighborhood with a lot of nationalities, including a hefty Latin American population, we can get our hands on good tortillas. The Salvadoran ones- super thick!- are my faves, but it is sooo nice being able to get good corn tortillas. No me gusta flour tortillas.

Also chopped up the last of the napa cabbage (more fridge space!)


And some cado


And all that went on the table with the finished taco filling


Tacos uno y dos:

DSCF3933 DSCF3935

The deliciousness of dos was greatly enhanced by my  new friend here:


Wonderfully smoky. And a nice, short, natural ingredient list (but still annoyingly vague about what gives it its deliciousness- “peppers”? “spices?” Give me more to go on!). Anyway, I ended up taking the last crunchy cabbage bits and dipping them in it. Weird but oh so good.

Final order of business:

MICHAL- comment number 19 on this post. You won my giveaway! Please email me your address at leleinthesky@gmail.com if you wanna get your goodies!

Monday, March 29, 2010

garlic breath

Hummus was just… necessary today.


I have a go-to hummus I make a lot (it’s on my Favorite Recipes page- I am going to stop linking to individual recipes and make you do the work!) but I decided to mix it up today. Due a fair amount to the tapenade I’ve had in my fridge for forever.

Tapenade Hummus

1 can chickpeas (I used my go-to, Goya low sodium)
2 T tapenade (I used Trader Joe’s green olive tapenade)
1 clove garlic
1 T fresh parsley
1 t. tahini
juice of half a large lemon
2 T water
salt and pepper

Given a simple whirr in the food processor. Lovely! Nice tang!

And with hummus, obvi, one needs bread.


Still making Astra’s whole wheat yeastless focaccia (also at Favorite Recipes if you want it!) and I’ve started making it in a 8 by 12 pan instead of an 8 by 8. My rationale: my favorite part of focaccia is the top- all herby and oily and a bit crunchy. Drool. This maximizes that area!


See? Right?!

Then I made my old friend, the hummus tasting plate.


Plus a Yopes for calcium.


Hahahaha I found this way more funny than it actually was- my mom, seeing my carrots, decided she wanted some too, but her chopping method was a bit more carefree:


She’s got the week off so we can COOK OUR BRAINS OUT for the “small family gathering” (which has now hit 31 people) we’re having for Easter. Usually there’s “Greek Easter” (we’re on a different calendar than the Western churches, so our Easter is often later than theirs) but this year it’s the same.

So between the tapenade and then, for good measure, some more garlic, in the hummus, I decided what would be great would be a MINT!


More from my pals at Newman’s Own Organics. Another awesome cover. I love dragons! I was born in the year of the dragon! Inside:


These are WAY kickier than the cinnamon ones! Ginger mouth explosion. Vair delicious if you love ginger (which I most certainly do).

Finally, awesome cooking resource:

For a past Christmas turkey dinner, we’d been worried about adapting a delicious Cooking Light Recipe (apple cider brined turkey! It’s fab! Found here!) and the USDA turkey advisory hotline gave us advice that, we felt, would’ve resulted in turkey with all the moisture of charcoal (oh, government). So we called the Cooking Light Test Kitchen and they were hugely helpful and we ended up with an awesome turkey.

This time around, I had a query about the delightful sounding lamb recipe I'm planning for Easter. The phone number is hard to turn up now, but I found an email at the website, and received this helpful message in less than 24 hours!

cooking light help

They are champs. That went to cl_comeditor@timeinc.com, so if anyone else needs any help with CL recipes, maybe they can help you too!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

sunday night soup

Tonight involved rainy weather and two sore throats courtesy of the onset of allergy season and a weekend with 4 and a half hours worth of singing (Lazarus Saturday, Palm Sunday, and big choir practice for Holy Week. Eesh!)

Dinner was a throat and soul-soothing no brainer: soup! Specifically, Asian dumpling bok choy soup!


I winged it and it was ready in legit 15 minutes.

Step 1: tasty base. Veggie broth (last of it), water, and some dried shiitakes:


I love dried shiitakes. They’re cheap and you have them whenever you want them and don’t have to worry about them going bad.

Brought to a boil, then in went the green vegetable:


Bok choy! Which I finally managed to get clean enough (it is a PAIN to clean baby bok choy! I finally just chopped then cleaned which is more labor intensive but worth it).


It cooked for probably 3 minutes. Then:


Dumplins! I only get ‘em at HMart now. These are Kimchi dumplings and are awwwwwesome- huge, flavorful, spicy. Cooked them another 3 minutes (just a simmer, trying not to break them although these guys are pretty hardy)


Okay so in a complex soup, you want the five flavors: sweet, sour, salty, hot, umami. We had umami with the shrooms, hot and sour with the kimchi in the dumplings- but how to get sweet and salty?


I took a hint from my favorite squash soup (in Favorite Recipes) and added miso and sherry, which I mixed with some hot broth to thin out the miso.

Finished off with a green onion and a splash of Sriracha.


I am COUNTING DOWN the days til I can have pho again, but this was a great comforting soup with some complex Asian flavors and it made everyone’s throat happy!

Eating with chopsticks also makes me happy. And the fact that we repaired the light over the kitchen table so I can actually get an occasional decent nighttime shot where I actually eat, instead of staged counter shots.


An inside look at the dumplings:


So yummy! They have spicy kimchi (Korean pickled cabbage, for those not in the know), rice noodles, a bit of tofu- they have heft and super complex flavor. And they kind of leaked out into the broth when you broke into them. YUM!             

HMart dumplings are the best. I was so stoked that Katie made her first HMart pilgrimmage! Let’s keep spreading the delicious Asian love!

My weekend also involved the aforementioned choir practice, which also involved a super awesome potluck lunch.

Worth noting if you don’t do gluten: our choir director’s wife and my fellow soprano has Celiac disease, so I tried making my Oatmeal date nut cookies gluten free with some Bob’s Red Mill gluten free baking mix- worked like a dream! I added a bit of extra flour but the 9 or so people who were at the lunch ate THREE DOZEN.

Then I went to a birthday party for a two year old :D There was Dora the Explorer chocolate cake!

birthday cake

And following an INSANE Palm Sunday (it really depresses me how many people go to church like three times a year- Christmas, Easter, and I guess Palm Sunday too) I came home to a lurvely brunch:


My Mama made awesome omelets! Way prettier than mine.


We had leftover ‘cado from a salad last night and used that for the filling- it had a little vinaigrette still on it and actually it gave the omelets a fantastic je ne sais quoi.

Along with yogurt, a date-nut muffin (just made a new batch! Still lovin’!) and Nectar of the Gods (coffee)


Friday, March 26, 2010


Regardez mes délicieuses moules!DSCF3876

I love Google Translator.

Also, French food.

The star of tonight’s dinner was my latest impulse HMart purchase (I swear, the only thing I enjoy shopping for- and do with any regularity- is food):


Awesome things about this:

1. Mussels are delicious
2. These mussels are especially delicious- I sampled one at Hmart!
3. The word “sustainable” makes my heart go pitter-patter, and Eating Well’s section on sustainable seafood last month gave special props to mussels
4. 2 pounds for $3.99!

I opened the bag and they were HUGE- some were seriously like three inches (not including the shell)


I used this recipe, with white wine, lemon, onions, garlic, and parsley. Since the mussels were frozen, I steamed them longer- for eight minutes. The pan juices were rockin’ and I was mad I hadn’t thought to make bread!


Since one of my fave restaurant combos ever is mussels and frites, I decided to do the Cooking Light method with which I’ve had a lot of success- oven fries!


Just slice potatoes into fry shapes, put on a greased baking sheet, spray with cooking spray, sprinkle with salt, and bake at 450* for 40 minutes, flipping halfway through.

I am obsessed with this bowl. I will probably be serving everything in it from now on.


And a very French-approved way to round out the meal, a simple salade of Arugula, mushrooms, and my mama’s homemade parsley-dijon vinaigrette.


Another thing I love about the french is their word for grapefruit. Behold, un pamplemousse~


This was a great one, super sweet, no sugar needed. I luuuuuuuuuurve grapefruit. Why don’t I buy it more? Note to self: buy grapefruit more!

Actually, and another thing I love and should buy more!


Loverly wheat puffs. They’re so nice when you just want to sit and chomp on a massive volume of food.

Atop yogourt.

Avec sunshine.


When I said I liked ‘em, I meant it. They’ve figured prominently in multiple meals!

Including today’s lunch, which was my favorite kind- maximal dishes, maximal food groups, placemat and nutrition overload.


More pamplemousse (in an adorable bowl!)


More yogurt ‘n puffs (plus cinnamon!)


A cute lil tasting plate of Trader Joe’s chickenless nuggets and ‘cado, with hot sauce for the nuggets.


And finally, more Trader Joe’s, a bowl of butternut squash bisque.


And then the avocado just looked perfectly dipper shaped, and this happened…


So good. No lie.

Finally, mon cadeau (does that mean “my giveaway”? Any French speakers?)

I used random.org to randomly select one of 20 comments I received. Here’s what it said:

random number

That means congratulations are in order for Michal, who said

Happy belated blog-aversary! :) I wish you many more years of happy blogging. This is such a generous giveaway thank you so much for sharing this with us.
Hmm... if I had to pick my last meal I think it would have to be some type of hummus/falafle/pita combo with a vegan blondie on the side!

Congrats Michal! Email me your address at leleinthesky@gmail.com!