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Cooking Archives - Kohler Created

Zoom Zoom!

By | Automotive, CoMo, Exercise, Freelance, Racing | 2 Comments

This weekend went fast, but thankfully, we maximized every minute of it. We had kind of an ambitious list of to-do’s. Training runs, workouts, car painting, a client website go-live and some hefty yard work. I worried we might have set our sights high with the hot weather in the forecast, but we pushed through, and even though I think we set some new lows in personal hygiene, we arrived at early Monday morning with almost everything done.

Saturday Run

Saturday morning started bright dark and early for me. Because the weather was supposed to be hot and super humid, I wanted to knock a run (the #Blend5k) out early, before the heat could literally stop me dead in my tracks. I know I’ve talked about my struggles with endometriosis in fitness but I also struggle with extremely low blood pressure. While most people would be happy to have low blood pressure, and I’m certainly not complaining, it does sometimes make endurance exercise difficult, especially if it’s hot out. I get very dizzy and disoriented — not good.

Since I was on a mission to beat the heat, I cranked out a 4-ish mile run around my neighborhood in about 45 minutes. I mapped the route the night before on MapMyRun. How did I just find out about this app last week? As you can see on the map, we live in a neighborhood with lots of twisty little paths, and when you collect them all together, you can crank out some good distance runs without even leaving the neighborhood. Perfect to liven up my routine morning run route.

Came home from my run to this scene...

I arrived home to this comfy scene. If I wasn’t so sweaty, I probably would have climbed back into bed, but instead I started the coffee and hopped in the shower.

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Neil and I had made plans to hit the Farmer’s Market early Saturday. You have to go early, or they sell out of everything fairly quickly. We also like to beat the crowds and peruse a bit before making our decisions. However on this day, everyone seemed to have the same idea, the market was packed!

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Since we made the mistake of arriving hungry, we grabbed a breakfast burrito to share. They are usually one of the first things to sell out, and now I know why. So good!

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We picked up a few new herbs for the garden. My basil and cilantro have been ravaged by slugs, so I need to eradicate and slowly replace. So bummed. I also picked up some parsley and thyme.

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While we were there we came upon this awesome display of bees that reminded me of Chrissy. So jealous of her urban homestead!

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To eat, we picked up huge bunches of spinach and asparagus, a dozen eggs, and fresh garlic. Quite the haul!

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After returning home and taking a short nap, we made a few stops around town for some new workout gear and swim trunks for Neil. Since it’s getting hot, I decided to purchase a few Reebok sports bras to work out in. I’m still a little self-conscious about bearing my pale programmer’s skin to the world, but it’s too hot in our CrossFit gym not to.

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Once the sun started to go down, we ventured out for some yard work. I took to trimming back (read: hacking to pieces) shrubs while Neil mowed.  The yard is a jungle of every native flowering and invasive species imaginable. It boggles my mind that anyone thought this was landscaping. This little patch took me an hour to weed and chop.

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Sunday was paint day for the car. Over the past few weeks, Neil has been prepping the car to paint the roll cage. He’ll talk more about it in his post, but essentially, painting the roll cage prevents undesirable rust from forming. Because of the nature of the rust preventative and paint application cycles, you have to kind of schedule your whole day around applying, waiting and painting. We applied two coats of the rust preventative, and three coats of the paint. Definitely sweaty, smelly work. More pictures to come!

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In between coats, I managed to clean the house and catch a short nap so I could stay up late for the client implementation. We went live with our latest client’s website Sunday night, and I couldn’t be more happy with the outcome. I love how a single process can create such a variance in the different solutions and aesthetic elements that emerge with each of our clients. It’s just a fun thing to see.

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To top off our Sunday, we also had a HUGE dinner comprised almost entirely of these steaks. Being a former veg, I used to hate steak, but once you have fresh grass-fed steak, it’s impossible not to want it every day. It doesn’t hurt that Neil is an amazing grillmaster. He gets the crust on the steak just how I like it every time.

So that was our crazy weekend, how did yours go?

Veggie Stuffed Squash Boats

By | Food, Main Courses, Paleo, Recipes, Vegan | One Comment

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I have something to confess. Until making this dish, I’d never had spaghetti squash before. I know what you’re thinking, “For shame Jessica!” I know it’s pathetic, but hear me out. I didn’t grow up eating them, they were always purely decorative. At Halloween and Thanksgiving my aunts would place them on tables as centerpieces or on their porches with their pumpkins, no one ever ate them. Aside from pumpkin pie, no one ever did anything with members of the squash family. I was finally convinced of their tasty value when I started reading blogs and stumbled across dozens of amazing looking recipes.

My other excuse is that Neil up until now has never been very open to or a big fan of squash. He’s also not a fan of zucchini unless it’s baked into something, like bread or cake, which I was always happy to endulge him with.

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What I’m getting to is that, in all my newbness and excitement to try spaghetti squash for the first time, I went a little caddywompus with the directions, and sort of well, threw everything in a pan and just started cooking. Didn’t bother to think about staggering for optimal cooking times until about 3 minutes in. Never entered my mind (blame grad school). Luckily it turned out great and tasted beautiful, but I should have thought and done it the right way.

Ingredients:

1 medium spaghetti squash

For the filling:
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 cup yellow onion, chopped
1/4 cup peperoncini, sliced
1/2 cup red pepper, chopped
1 cup asparagus, rinsed and sliced
1 cup black beans, rinsed and drained well
1 small eggplant, chopped into bite-sized pieces
1/2 cup sweet corn, frozen or fresh
All of the reserved cooked squash, about 4 cups
1/3 cup cilantro, minced
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 teaspoons white pepper
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1 teaspoon sea salt

Directions:

To prepare squash: Roast squash in a 375°F oven for 50 minutes until tender. (Note: you can also cut squash in half, cover lightly with plastic wrap and place in a bowl with 1/2-inch of water and microwave for 20 minutes on high or until tender). When cool, scoop flesh from squash halves leaving the shell for stuffing.
To make filling: Heat oil in a large pan and sauté red onion, jalapeño chili, peperoncini, eggplant and red pepper for 2 minutes. Add beans, corn and chili powder, sweet paprika and white pepper; sauté 1 minute longer. Add cooked squash, cilantro, lime juice and salt, cook 1 minute until heated through. Fill squash halves with filling, mounding mixture in the center.

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The best part of eating so many vegetables is that our meals are so brilliant and colorful.

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Serving food in a edible bowl is a great way to perk up your weeknight dinners. The squash not only performs like a noodle, but when heated up, it gets almost stringy like cheese. It was fabulous. Definitely another “why have you waited so long” ingredient. Best yet, Neil LOVED it, so you can be sure it will be on the menu quite a bit this fall!

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Do you have a fun or creative way to use spaghetti squash? We’d love to hear your ideas!

At Home Take-Out: Healthified Szechuan Pork Stuffed Peppers

By | Chinese, Food, Main Courses, Recipes | 2 Comments

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I feel like our kitchen avoidance dinner posts are becoming almost a broken record. This Summer heat is unrelenting! We have tons of yard work and new bedding plants that are sorely being neglected and the lawn looks like it has some form of mange. I’m starting to think the only season that can truly be enjoyed in Missouri is Fall, and even it feels abbreviated by the crazy extremes we seem to experience in weather. But Summer marches on and so continues our streak of quick and easy meals.

Our latest recipe was inspired by Neil’s new-found love of Szechuan Pork from one of our local Chinese restaurants. You might remember his obsession with recreating and healthifying popular take-out meals at home, and his latest, Szechuan Pork Stuffed Peppers, are one of his best creations yet (though I’m still pretty partial to the Springfield-style Cashew Chicken myself). Sweet and tangy pork in a crisp summer sweet pepper? Yum!

Ingredients:

1/2 pound lean ground pork
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground white pepper
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon peanut oil
2 teaspoons garlic, minced
2 shallots, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1 teaspoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons Braggs Liquid Aminos/low-sodium soy sauce
2 cups white rice, prepared according to instructions
4 medium sweet peppers
hummus (optional)

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Directions:

  1. Combine pork, corn starch, soy sauce or liquid aminos, salt, white pepper, hoisin sauce, brown sugar, red pepper flakes and rice vinegar in a medium bowl. Stir until thoroughly mixed. Set aside to marinade for 15 minutes.
  2. Core and blanch the peppers in boiling water for 5 minutes, or until they are tender but firm. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain in a colander. Rinse with cold water until cooled but still slightly warm.
  3. Heat oil in a large nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Add garlic and shallots and cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until shallots are soft.
  4. Add marinated pork mixture to the pan and cook until pork is no longer pink, and is crumbly.
  5. To finish, spoon a portion of the pork and rice mixture (about 6 tablespoons) into each of the peppers and serve. Makes 4 servings/peppers

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The textures and flavors mingle so well in this meal — sweet and tangy pork, on a bed of soft rice in a crisp sweet pepper tastes amazingly fresh, and not too heavy for a hot summer day. The only thing I wish we would have thought to include is a little fresh cilantro. I think a tablespoon or so in each pepper would have really capped the meal off right. I did stir in roughly a tablespoon of hummus into each finished pepper, just to give it a little extra creaminess and kick (it was spicy hummus). All in all a perfect lightened version of what we’ve had in restaurants dozens of times, and served in an edible container, which is never a bad thing if you ask me.

Overnight Cinnamon Rolls

By | Breakfast, Food, Recipes | 2 Comments

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If you were on Twitter Tuesday night, you may have noticed I spent the entire night baking and prepping breakfast for my first meeting with my new department staff at work the following morning. It wasn’t anything groundbreaking, just a nice double-batch of homemade cinnamon rolls — or at least that’s what I thought.

When I arrived at work with my freshly baked rolls, people were plowed by the idea that I had baked them from scratch that morning. It reminded me just how different my worlds (online vs “real”) can often be. When I’m online and typically immersed in food blogs and communities, cooking and baking from scratch is not only expected, it’s assumed. However, in my “real life,” people are often surprised or impressed when I bring food I’ve made from scratch or even assembled from pre-made ingredients. They either see it as something special that rarely happens, or act as if I’ve resurrected an antiquated trade. It’s a weird contrast, but I was happy they enjoyed breakfast nonetheless. Food is always a great way to meet people.

I call these Overnight Cinnamon Rolls, but really, they could also be called Lazy Cinnamon Rolls. The effort they require is laughable, and if you don’t use all the dough right away (this recipe makes two batches of cinnamon rolls), the dough actually develops more flavor the longer it sits in the fridge (within reason, don’t see how far you can push that statement).

The bread dough itself is the Master Dough Recipe from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, but it’s almost identical to the sweet dough my grandma used for years for her cinnamon rolls, so where it originally came from I have no idea.

Note: The directions below detail making a full batch of the Master Recipe, which will net you two batches of  cinnamon rolls with approximately 9 rolls per batch. You are of course more than welcome to make all 18 or so rolls at once, and I could recommend 1 ½-2x the filling and icing recipes, depending on how gooey/sticky  you like your cinnamon rolls.

Ingredients:

Dough (via the Master Dough Recipe/Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day):
1 ¾ cups lukewarm water
1 ½ tablespoons instant yeast
1 ½ tablespoons kosher salt (or 1 1/2 tsp table salt)
4 large eggs, slightly beaten
½ cup honey
½ cup unsalted butter, melted
7 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (I used a 80/20 mix of bread and whole wheat flour)

Filling:
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
4 tablespoons butter, melted
2 teaspoons nutmeg
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Pinch salt

Icing:
¼ cup cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons milk
1 ½ cups powdered sugar
1-2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon peel, to taste

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Directions:

  1. In a large bowl/mixer bowl, mix together eggs, water, honey, melted butter, yeast and salt using a silicone or oiled spoon. Slowly stir in the first six cups of flour and continue stirring vigorously until moistened and combined. If you are using a mixer, remove the whisk attachment and replace with a dough hook. Slowly add the last cup of flour and knead slowly for several minutes. Check the consistency of the dough, and add the remaining flour as necessary. The dough should be soft and moist but not sticky. Continue to knead for several more minutes until the dough clears the sides of the bowl. Lightly oil the bowl and the top of the dough and turn to coat entire dough ball. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  2. Combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, pepper and salt in a medium bowl. Mix until well incorporated. Set aside until ready to use.
  3. Butter a 9 by 13-inch glass baking dish. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Using a rolling pin, gently roll out dough into a rectangle, roughly measuring 12 by 18 inches. Brush the dough with melted butter, leaving a slight boarder along the top side. Sprinkle the filling mixture over the dough, and gently brush to blend with the melted butter. Beginning with the long edge nearest to you, roll the dough into a tight cylinder, pinching the seam to seal. Using your fingers, gently squeeze and pull the cylinder to create an even thickness. Then, using a serrated knife, slice the cylinder into 1 ½-inch rolls; this should yield you around 12 rolls. Cover with a towel and let rest for one hour.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. When the oven is ready, place the rolls on the middle rack and bake until golden brown, approximately 30 minutes.
  5. While rolls bake, prepare icing by whisking together milk and cream cheese together until creamy. Sift in the powdered sugar and continue to whisk until smooth. When rolls are finished baking, spread icing over tops and serve immediately.

Makes 9 cinnamon rolls (I squeezed 11 out of my batch by not discarding the ends). See Note above for yield/batch information.

I prepped everything the night before, woke up fifteen minutes earlier than normal to preheat and roll out/cut dough and they were ready to go by the time I had to leave for work. Best yet, the house still smells amazing and I have a ½ batch of dough left for later this week. Although you certainly wouldn’t want to eat them every day, they are a great treat and never fail to surprise and impress!

Like baking your own bread? Here are a few more of our favorite recipes:

Pizza Caprese with Spinach?

By | Food, Main Courses, Pizza, Recipes | No Comments

Caprese Pizza

As of late, I feel like our meals are really reflecting our priorities. While good food and fun meals are still important, our desire to squeeze every last minute out of this summer has us making much simpler meals than we typically do. The fourth of July holiday always marks the midpoint of summer in my mind. When I used to work in retail, it was the time the back-to-school stuff slowly started appearing on shelves, fall clothes started arriving and summer stuff goes on 30% markdown. If you’ve been to your local craft store, you might have already noticed that Halloween deco is in full effect. It’s a little sad to think that in a month I’ll be heading back to school, thankfully for my last semester of grad school. It’s all going so fast, so for the time being, meals are quick and easy, and possibly a little redundant (sorry!), but nonetheless delicious. That being said, I have another wonderful pizza to share with you.

This one was totally inspired by a photo I saw on (Never Home)maker. It was a gorgeous photo of a caprese salad, something I’ve been wanting to make for ages. I had all the ingredients, but we were starving and I knew a salad was NOT going to cut it. Pizza-obsessed as always, I threw together a double batch of our favorite thin crust dough and popped half in the freezer and rolled the other out for a fresh herb, mozz, tomato and balsalmic pie.

Ingredients:

For the pizza:1 lb. of dough (we used our thin crust recipe, which will make 2 lbs/2 pizzas)
Flour
white cornmeal
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved (or 2 small tomatoes, sliced)
15-20 slices of spinach, or a combination of spinach and whole basil leaves.
1 cup mozzarella, sliced into thin pieces Red pepper flakes and/or parmesan cheese
Feta cheese crumbles, if desired

For the sauce:
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup basil, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

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Caprese Pizza

Directions

  1. Place oven rack in the lower middle position and place pizza stone/baking sheet on the rack and preheat oven to 475 degrees F.
  2. For the dough: Follow the preparation/assembly directions for our Perfect Thin and Crispy Pizza Crust. You can opt to freeze or not depending on your time constraints and preferences.
  3. To make the sauce: Mix olive oil, balsalmic vinegar, basil and salt and pepper (if desired) and stir to combine.
  4. Once dough has finished it’s pre-bake (see directions in step 2), spread sauce on dough and top with spinach/basil and mozzarella and tomato slices.
  5. Bake again for 10-12 minutes and cool for 2-3 minutes before slicing. Top with red pepper flakes and or Feta cheese crumbles if desired.

We decided to put a question mark on the end of the recipe title purely because of the spinach. Typically Caprese Salad is made with basil leaves, tomato and freshly sliced mozarella. Traditionally it’s made with a buffalo mozzarella, but we’re in the midwest, and just getting fresh mozz is challenge enough it seems. We toyed with the idea of using basil leaves as a topping, but the thought of a pizza with that much whole basil seemed a little over the top, so we relegated it to the oil-based “sauce” and used fresh spinach as a topping. It still has all the great flavor of basil and the spinach contributed the texture of a leafy green to balance and complement the creamy mozarella and fresh tomatoes. I’d like to say that someday we might get tired of pizza, but I know better. It is without a doubt our desert-island food.

What’s your desert-island food?

Kimchi Prosciutto Pizza

By | Food, Main Courses, Pizza, Recipes | 9 Comments

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Kimchi has been on our “to try” list for just about a year now. Every time we’re in the grocery store, we roll past it and say, “we really need to think of a way to use kimchi,” before wussing out and rolling right on past it again. We’ve always been intimidated by it because people seem to have a love/hate relationship with it, and who wants to buy a jar of something that after one bite you completely hate?

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For those of you who are unfamiliar with kimchi, I’ll give you a little background. Kimchi (also called gimchi and kimchee) is a traditional Korean vegetable side dish made of fermented seasoned cabbage (usually Napa) and sometimes other vegetables. It is usually fermented in brine with garlic, scallions and ground pepper, but there are other variations that typically vary by seasonal availability.

Anyway, we bit the bullet last week and picked up a jar. In the store, we were feeling confident, assured that kimchi would soon be our new favorite staple and that we would love it with and on everything. Our new-found confidence was quickly deflated when we pulled into the checkout line.

Lady Killjoy: “Ugh – is that kimchi?”

Us: “Yes! We’re trying it for the first time! Squee!”

Laddy Killjoy: “I just got back from Korea, I can’t look at the stuff for another second – it’s disgusting!”

Us: “Well… thanks.” :insert sound here:


Seriously?  Who does that!? I was so tempted to be like, “I see you have some Lean Cuisine in your cart, ever look at the sodium content? GROSS!”

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We’ve made two dishes with kimchi so far and have loved them both. It is an acquired taste, but if you pair your ingredients right, kimchi is the perfect complement to so many things. We included it first in a batch of beer-breaded fish tacos (recipe coming tomorrow!) and for the past two nights have made two thin crust pizzas, using it as a toppings.

The trick seems to be pairing it with something creamy, salty or spicy. In the case of our pizza, we paired with prosciutto and fresh mozzarella cheese with a spicy pseudo-Asian barbecue sauce.

Ingredients:

For the pizza:
1 lb. of dough (we used our fabulous thin crust recipe, which will make 2 lbs/2 pizzas)
Flour
white cornmeal
½-1 cup kimchi, squeezed of excess juice and chopped
6 very thin slices of prosciutto, sliced into strips
1 cup mozzarella, sliced into thin pieces or grated
Red pepper flakes and/or parmesan cheese

For the sauce: (adapted from No Recipes):
1 tablespoon kimchi juice
½ teaspoon sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons Chings Schezwan Stir Fry Sauce
3 teaspoons sesame seeds

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Our dough. I’m so in love with this recipe, I’ve really never had one better outside of a restaurant crust, but they have the unfair advantage of a wood-burning oven.

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The sauce. It’s so good. It’s got a super warm, smoky flavor, but with the hint of sesame, it tastes like a lighter, asian spin on barbecue sauce. I’m also pretty sure Neil added a squirt of sriracha to it, as if it weren’t spicy enough on it’s own!

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Neil’s pizza topping prep “tray,” replete with prosciutto, mozzarella, and kimchi.

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Ready for the oven. Can you spot where I took a bite out of the mozzarella? I claimed my part of the pizza, the dirty, totally unsanitary way. Good thing I was only sharing with Neil.

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Fresh out of the oven. I just love the way fresh mozz melts. It smelled so good! I could have sliced the pizza more traditionally, but Neil and I both like our pizza squared. Is that weird?

Directions:

  1. Place oven rack in the lower middle position and place pizza stone/baking sheet on the rack and preheat oven to 475 degrees F.
  2. For the dough: Follow the preparation/assembly directions for our Perfect Thin and Crispy Pizza Crust. You can opt to freeze or not depending on your time constraints and preferences.
  3. To make the sauce: Mix the Chings Schezwan Stir Fry Sauce with the kimchi juice, stir, and add the sesame oil, garlic and sesame seeds and stir again to combine.
  4. Once dough has finished it’s pre-bake (see directions in step 2), spread sauce on dough and top with chopped kimchi, proscuitto, and mozzarella.
  5. Bake again for 10-12 minutes and cool for 2-3 minutes before slicing. Top with red pepper flakes or parmesan cheese if desired.

Yum! It’s like spicy Asian barbecue pizza. Nice and light, super crunchy and full of amazing flavor. The kimchi is a perfect compliment to the cheese and prosciutto, and the spicy smoky flavor of the sauce really brings everything together. If you’re new to kimchi, and a little “eh” to the idea of fermented cabbage, this is the perfect introductory recipe. Enjoy!

Black Bean Mango Stir Fry with Cilantro Lime Coconut Sauce

By | Food, Kitchen, Main Courses, Recipes | 5 Comments

Mango Coconut Stir Fry

Mango

If you find yourself at the grocery store as often as we seem to be lately (sometimes we go just to look around — is that weird?), you’ve probably noticed that mangoes are CHEAP right now. Being that we have tons of random veggies around and we’re trying to eat on the cheap, I thought it’d be the perfect excuse to try to incorporate mango into our go-to stir fry base recipe. At first we dreamed up a mango-based sauce to coat the meat and veggies, and while we still might do that in another batch next week, for this batch we decided to use a coconut milk sauce and chunk the ripe mango into the stir fry. The result? Creamy, sweet and salty heaven!

Ingredients:

For the Stir Fry:
2 tablespoons peanut oil
2 cups snow pea pods
1 cup thinly sliced or julienned carrot
1 cup thinly sliced or julienned cucumber
1 cup thinly sliced red cabbage
2 cups corn (I highly recommend fresh)
2 cups canned black beans, drained
1 mango, peeled and cut into strips
2 cups imitation crab meat/shrimp (we used both)
2 (8 ounce) packages rice noodles
Sriracha Sauce/Red Pepper Flakes if desired
Salt and Pepper to taste

For the Sauce:
2 cups light coconut milk
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 limes, juiced
2 inch piece fresh ginger root, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons honey or agave nectar
2-3 tablespoons soy sauce
Salt and Pepper to taste

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Our veggies!

Mango Coconut Stir Fry

Directions:

  1. To make the sauce, blend the coconut milk, cilantro, lime juice, ginger, garlic, soy sauce and agave nectar in a blender until smooth; set aside.
  2. Prepare rice noodles according to instructions (they often vary).
  3. In a large, deep skillet or wok over medium-high, heat oil until shimmering. Add crab/shrimp oil and sauté until cooked through and lightly browned, about 4 to 5 minutes.
  4. Add veggies and mango and sauté until veggies are lightly tender, about 4 to 5 minutes longer.
  5. Stir in the stir fry sauce and noodles. Cook for another minute or until the noodles are hot. Sprinkle with additional sriraccha, salt and pepper and red pepper flakes as desired.

Makes 8 servings.

AHH-mazing! You have a little bit of everything in this stir fry. The coconut milk sauce, with the sharp fragrance of the cilantro, coupled with the saltiness of the shrimp/crab, crossed with the sweet mango was by far the standout characteristic of this dish. It also makes a huge portion, which will end up feeding us for three days (we finish the leftovers tonight!) on the cheap. Plus, if you prepare your veggies the night before, you can be eating in less than thirty minutes, a huge perk on these summer nights when the last thing you feel like doing is being a slave to the stove. There’s a reason stir fries are a staple with us. Flavor change-ups are easy, they are cheap and fresh and don’t require a lot of time for the amazing food you get in return. We hope you give it a whirl and tell us what you think!

Banana Coconut Muffins

By | Breakfast, Food | One Comment

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Brown banana strikes again! We rarely ever have bananas go bad, but we had a loner on the counter that had turned a completely unappetizing shade of brown over the weekend and I knew it was an excuse to make something yummy for breakfast this morning. If you didn’t know already, Neil and I love anything banana-flavored (evidence here, here and here). It was a nice break from the Kashi cereal I’ve been eating lately. Do you have a favorite cereal?

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 very ripe bananas, mashed (3/4 cup)
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted (I browned it)
2/3 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup sweetened flaked coconut

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Place oven rack in the middle position. Grease or line 6 muffin cups with liners.
2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together bananas, butter, sugar, egg, vanilla, and ½ cup coconut until combined well, then fold in flour mixture until flour is just moistened.
3. Divide batter among lined muffin cups and sprinkle with remaining coconut (¼ cup). bake until muffins are puffed and golden, about 25 minutes. Transfer muffins toa rack and cool.

Makes 6-8 muffins depending on size.

Banana + browned butter + coconut = awesome!

First BBQ + Lemon Potato Salad

By | BBQ, Food, Meat, MU, Sides, Weekend | 2 Comments

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Don’t let his “caught off-guard” look fool you, until this weekend Neil had been chomping at the bit to barbecue at the new house since well before we moved in. Weeks before closing he was already plotting where the grill would go and what we were going to make for our first bbq. He’s already eyeing new grills and more permanent fixtures for the deck, but for the time being, he’s happy to have meat, cooked over fire, and in his stomach.

Neil in his element.

He was so excited to grill in fact that he went a little crazy at the meat market. I’ve told you about Neil’s love for our local Mizzou Meat Market before, so it was no surprise that he came home on Friday with a little bit of everything. Steak, pork chops (which we froze for later), bratwurst, and his favorite beef jerky. We had some chicken breasts in the fridge to use up from salads earlier in the week, so we threw those on as well knowing we’d be eating more salad this week.

Tiger Tails Bratwurst

Brats

Brats and Chicken

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Here are the cooked brats. They are by far and away the best brats I have ever tasted, and I’m typically pretty picky. Fresh and super juicy with the perfect balance of spice and creamy cheese. Heaven!

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The steaks were huge! I feel like we ate tons of steak but still didn’t get through even half of it. We prepped them with simple salt and pepper. Amazing how little good steaks need to be just right.

Neighbor pups

The neighbors were getting jealous of all the good smells emanating from our deck. Poor pups!

Asparagus

I also decided to make a few sides, because unless you are Dennis Leary, meat in our house has to have some kind of vegetable to accompany it. I whipped up some easy grilled asparagus (asparagus drizzled with garlic, olive oil, sea salt and a little parmesan) and a lemon potato salad that Neil proclaimed as his new favorite.

Ingredients:

2 pounds small red potatoes
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1/3 cup light mayonnaise
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
2 teaspoons thyme
1-2 teaspoons grated lemon peel

Directions:

1. Cover potatoes with salted cold water by 1 inch and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until potatoes are tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain potatoes in a colander.
2. When potatoes cool enough to handle, quarter, then toss with lemon juice and salt in a large bowl.
3. Whisk together greek yogurt, mayonnaise, dill, thyme and grated lemon peel in a bowl until blended. Whisk in additional salt (and pepper, if desired) to taste, then add to potatoes and toss to coat. Serve warm or cool after refrigerating.

I love potato salad because it’s so effortless. I probably went a little overboard with the Greek yogurt, but I just can’t get enough of the stuff and a little extra is never a bad thing right? The citrus is the perfect compliment to a creamy potato salad and almost makes it taste a little like a dessert. We’ve been eating tons of fruit and vegetables lately. The brief summer window of pure produce smorgasbord seems so brief doesn’t it? I feel like I’m constantly preserving and freezing, hoping to bottle a piece of summer to have year-round. Maybe it’s time to think about a little deep freezer?

Almond-crusted Chicken Salad with Honey Mustard Dressing

By | #cookchat, Food, Recipes, Salads | 9 Comments

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Another hot day, another evening of kitchen avoidance. With leftover goodies from our Sesame Chicken Lettuce Wraps, we threw together a light and creamy salad of almond-crusted chicken and honey mustard dressing. Although a little messy to prepare, it is super easy to make and another meal we can easily put together in less than 15 minutes. Who doesn’t love a big salad?

Ingredients:

Adapted from My Recipes
3 boneless/skinless chicken breast halves
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons Braggs Liquid Aminos (or soy sauce)
5 tablespoons cornstarch, divided
1 teaspoon white wine
2 tablespoons lemon juice
½ teaspoon baking soda
2 large eggs
Canola oil for frying
2 ½ cups sliced almonds (I threw a couple tablespoons of brown sugar in mix)
8 ounces young spinach, cleaned and destemmed

for Honey Mustard Dressing:
¼ cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon prepared mustard
1 tablespoon honey
½ tablespoon lemon juice
1-2 tablespoons olive oil or rice wine vinegar (optional if you want to thin it out, which we recommend)

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Directions:

1. To make Dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, mustard, honey, and lemon juice. Store covered in the refrigerator until ready to use.
2. Trim fat from chicken breasts and slice into four 4 pieces. With a kitchen mallet or your fists, pound each piece to an even ¼ to ½-inch thick.
3. In a bowl, combine salt, liquid aminos, 2 tablespoons of the corn starch, white wine, baking soda and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. Add chicken and stir to coat completely. Allow to sit for 3-5 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate. In the same bowl, beat two eggs and slowly add the remaining 3 tablespoons of cornstarch. This will keep the corn starch from clumping. Add chicken to coat.
4. In a 12-inch frying pan, heat ½-inch (it might take less) oil over medium-high heat. Spread almonds (and brown sugar should you choose) onto a clean, flat surface (counter or cutting board will suffice). Press chicken into nuts/mixture, coating both sides evenly, then carefully lay chicken in oil. Cook until browned, turning once, 2-4 minutes total (cooking time will vary). Drain on paper towels.
5. Slice and toss with spinach and honey mustard dressing to taste, adding about 1 tablespoon at a time. Sprinkle with freshly ground pepper and serve immediately.

Despite being lightly fried, the chicken itself tastes very light, and the almonds and brown sugar give the salty of the meat a warm and nutty compliment. Coupled with the tangy honey mustard dressing and the slight bitterness of the spinach, it was a wonderful combination of flavors, and perfect for a hot summer day. Despite the fact that it’s been warm for several weeks, it still feels like the snow and endless crocks of chili were just the other day. Time just seems to be moving incredibly fast lately…

What are your plans for this weekend?