27.7.14

Crunchy Peanut Soba Noodle Slaw


So, I'm pretty sure I'm breaking all the rules with this recipe.

But I don't really care because it's SO GOOD.

Crunchy peanut soba noodle good.


I adapted this from a recipe for Vietnamese rice noodle salad.

But then I added ginger, soy sauce, and soba noodles, which are all traditional Japanese ingredients.

While its ethnic origins may be confused, this salad is spot on in flavor and texture, and I can't get enough.


Part of the reason I love this salad is because it's so versatile. I've made it twice now, and each time I made it a little differently, and each time I couldn't stop snagging fork-fulls of it out of the fridge.

The first time I used gluten-free brown rice rotini. I liked how the chewiness of the pasta held its own with the crunchy carrots, cabbage, and peppers, as opposed to a softer rice noodle.

The second time I used soba noodles, which also held up nicely with the other ingredients, while mimicking them in size a little more. I have this weird obsession with making all the ingredients of a pasta dish roughly the same size.

The second time I also added fried onions. Great decision. I'm always intimidated by frying things and rarely ever do, but these onions came together in about 5 minutes and added another savory element to the salad.  You could totally skip them though.

You could also skip the teaspoon of cornstarch that I added. I just found that it made the sauce a little more saucy, if you know what I mean. It clung to the noodles better instead of pooling in the bottom of the bowl.

You most definitely cannot skip the crunchy salty roasted peanuts. They're mandatory. And delicious.


Crunchy Peanut Soba Noodle Slaw


Ingredients:
1 9.5 oz package soba noodles
1 yellow pepper, cut into matchstick-size pieces
1 small head (or 1/2 a large head) green cabbage, cut into small strips
2 carrots, shredded in a food processor or hand-grated
1 cup dry roasted peanuts, roughly chopped
handful of fresh herbs (mint, cilantro, basil or a combination) roughly chopped

Fried Onions (optional)
1 cup diced onion
neutral cooking oil

Dressing:
3-4 tablespoons lime juice (from about 2 limes)
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tablespoon minced ginger
3 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon corn starch
1 teaspoon water

Directions:
Boil water and cook soba noodles according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cool water.

In a large bowl, combine soba noodles, yellow pepper, cabbage, carrots, and peanuts.

To make the fried onions, place a large sauté pan over medium high eat. Cover the surface of pan with 1/2 inch of neutral oil (like canola oil or grape seed oil) Add onions. Fry for about 3-5 minutes or until onions are golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a plate covered in paper towels. When slightly cooled, add to the salad.

To make the dressing, whisk together lime juice, garlic, ginger, fish sauce, brown sugar, red pepper flakes and soy sauce in a small bowl. In a separate, smaller bowl, stir together cornstarch and water until cornstarch is dissolved. Add to the rest of the sauce and stir to combine.

Pour sauce over noodles and vegetables. Toss to combine. (Tongs are helpful here) Eat immediately, or chill in the fridge. Garnish with chopped fresh herbs, more peanuts, and lime wedges.

Adapted from Delancey.

Notes:

  • The recipe makes a lot! Probably 6-8 servings. It could be easily halved.
  • Try adding different colored peppers, or cucumbers cut like matchsticks, or bok choy instead of the cabbage. 



20.7.14

Impossible Zucchini Pie


Things that have made my heart happy this week:

Picking blueberries in my parents' backyard.


Hanging out with this old sweet beagle.


 Kissing this guy, even when he does this.


Reading this homemade card from my sister. (Yes, it says what you think it does.)


Making "Impossible Zucchini Pie" from a recipe written on notecard in my mom's handwriting.


This is throwback kinda recipe. The kind that is, yes, handwritten on a notecard, and yes, includes bisquick.


No worries, though. You can make your own whole-grain version of bisquick in a food processor and still feel totally virtuous about all the fresh veggies starring in this pie.  

My mom and I adapted the original recipe by adding bacon and fresh basil. Both are optional, but highly, highly encouraged. 


As for the name, "Impossible Zucchini Pie?" I have no idea, other than that it might be a shortened version of "Impossibly Fast Zucchini Pie?" Or "Impossibly Delicious?" "Impossible to Screw-up?"  "Impossible to Resist?" My mom got the recipe from a friend, so she doesn't know either.

You make the pie and let me know what you think.  


I think it's comfort food meets healthy summertime food meets cutmeanotherslicealready.


Impossible Zucchini Pie 


Ingredients:
2 medium zucchini, cut into small squares
1 large, or 2 small tomatoes, diced
1 small onion or 1/2 of a large onion, diced
7-8 fresh basil leaves, chopped
4 slices cooked bacon, chopped
3 eggs
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
1 1/4 cups milk
3/4 cup bisquick*
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt & pepper

Directions:

Spray a 9 inch pie pan or a casserole dish with cooking spray.  Preheat oven to 400.

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet. Add zucchini and onion and cook for 5-7 minutes or until slightly soft.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Turn off the heat and add tomatoes, bacon and basil and stir to combine.

Pour milk into a large glass measuring container. Add eggs, bisquick, and parmesan cheese and whisk together..

Pour the veggie mixture into the prepared pie pan, then  pour milk mixture overtop.

Bake at 400 for 30-35 minutes, or until top is golden brown and the center is set. If the top is golden brown, but the center is still liquidy, tent the pan with aluminum foil and cook for another 5-7 minutes.

*Homemade Multi-Grain Bisquick

Ingredients:
scant 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
scant 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon cold butter, cut into pieces

Directions:
Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until incorporated.

If you don't have a food processor, combine the dry ingredients and use two knives to cut the butter in until the mixture resembles small peas.

Notes:
  • Gluten-Free Variation--I haven't tried this, but I bet you could substitute the flours with gluten free flours or just use 3/4 cup of gluten-free pancake/waffle/baking mix.
  • Differences between bisquick and the homemade version--The real stuff incorporates itself into the vegetables more, (maybe like a soufflĂ©? ) while the homemade kind forms more of a biscuit-like crust on top.  I loved both versions, so the choice is yours. 

Recipe from my mom.
Bisquick substitute adapted from Yesterfood.

13.7.14

Tomato, Corn & Avocado Stacks with Basil Shallot Vinaigrette


It's mid-July. How did that happen already?

Every summer, 4th of July is sort of a bittersweet holiday for me. It's the pinnacle of summer, and while I love the fireworks and the cookouts, it also whispers "Summer is half-way over. It's going to go fast from here." Stores take July 1st as their signal to start putting up all their back-to-school items, and then before you know it, it's August and all the regular stresses of busy fall life begin to descend.

I'm intentionally trying a different attitude this year. I want to soak up every moment of this summer--the long daylight and bike-rides at sunset, watering my little garden, reading for pleasure, eating ice cream and other frozen treats, and just generally basking in this slower pace of life. I know it won't last forever, but I don't want to waste one moment of it worrying.


Mid-July also happens to be my and Adam's anniversary. Last year I recreated our wedding cake. (amaretto cake with lavender icing) This year, I contemplated recreating our entire wedding menu, but then I realized that was insane. 

I've now decided to just do one dish at a time. That should last me until our fifth wedding anniversary at least, I think…. 


I remember seeing this tomato, corn, avocado and basil salad on the caterer's sample menu and knowing immediately I wanted to serve it our wedding. There are many downsides to getting married in July in North Carolina, but one benefit is the exceptional produce. The fresh tomatoes and corn really shine in this dish. 

I added my own twist to this recipe based on a similar one I found in the book Delancy.  Molly uses a basil shallot vinaigrette and allows the shallots and garlic to pickle in the vinegar for an hour before assembling the salad. It's definitely not necessary, but we found it added a nice acidic contrast to the other flavors.


My better half is traveling a lot for week lately, and I'm feeling his absence strongly.  I've written sappy things about marriage before, so I won't go overboard today.

I'll just say that I am so thankful for him, and for the way our love makes this sometimes disappointing and unpredictable life so so good.



Enjoy these last few weeks of July, friends!


Tomato, Corn & Avocado Stacks with Basil Shallot Vinaigrette 


Ingredients:
2 large beefsteak tomatoes, sliced
1 fresh ears of corn, kernels carefully removed with a sharp knife
1 ripe avocado, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 medium shallot, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
5 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1/8 tsp sugar
pinch of salt & pepper
10 fresh basil leaves, divided

Directions: 

In a small bowl, combine the shallots, garlic and vinegar. Set aside for 1 hour or more to let the flavors adjust. (The shallot and garlic flavors are mellowed and slightly pickled by the vinegar.)

Whisk in the olive oil, sugar, salt, and 5 of the basil leaves. Use the back of a spoon to press the basil leaves, releasing their oil. Let the dressing rest for another 30 minutes, then transfer to a mason jar or other air-tight container and remove the basil leaves.

To assemble the salad, combine the corn kernels and avocado in a medium bowl. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Arrange the sliced tomatoes on a plate. Top with the corn/avocado mixture. Drizzle with basil shallot vinaigrette. Sprinkle the top of each stack with shredded basil leaves

Salad recipe adapted from our wedding menu. Basil Shallot vinaigrette adapted from Molly Wizenberg's Delancey.

Wedding photo from the amazing Lime Green Photography.

6.7.14

Crockpot Cheerwine Barbecue Chicken


For me, one of the biggest perks of having a blog is that it holds me accountable. 

Over the past year and a half there have been many, many weekends when I didn't feel like cooking anything new. Or setting up to photograph it. Or photographing it. And especially not writing about it.

But when I set up this blog, I set a goal of posting once a week, every Sunday, and I haven't missed a Sunday post since I started. 

So, I've continued to write. Sometimes overly long posts, and sometimes short ones about song lyrics. My photos were terrible at the beginning, but they've slowly gotten better. And though I'm constantly trying to create content that others will enjoy, there is still a large part of this blog that is just for me.  To have a creative outlet, a place to remember, and a space to write, albeit often badly.

This has been the first weekend in a while in which I really considered not posting.

But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that this was the kind of post I would be able to look back on later with understanding, and that the writing itself might help me, as it has done before.


Thursday around lunchtime I got an email with a big rejection.

Rejections happen all the time to everyone, and I've certainly gotten accustomed to them after my first year of law school.

But this was a rejection for something I deeply wanted and actually thought I was going to get.

Expectation is a dangerous, fickle thing, I have found, and pride is even worse.

Though I had been trying to prepare myself for this outcome, the totality of my failure struck me like a dead weight.  I was crying so hard I couldn't see my computer screen, so I left work.

I came home and crawled into bed with some chocolate peanut butter frozen banana bites and my laptop so that I could cry my angry heart out and then waft gently into a chocolate-netflix-induced oblivion.

Adam came home about an hour later. He'd gotten my text and decided to leave work early too. He came home bearing things to cheer me up, (flowers, prosecco, strawberries, crusty whole grain bread, and cheese--he knows me) but these just made me more upset.

"I don't deserve anything. I'm a failure. We don't have anything to celebrate."

He responded by crawling into bed next to me to watch two more episodes of House of Cards, a show he doesn't even like.


Around 4:45 I got a phone call. It was a client calling about a court date for her son the following week, and I had forgotten that I'd promised to call her back with an update.

I'd been trying to reach her all morning and had finally gotten through about an hour before I received  the rejection email. When she answered I could tell she was crying. Before asking about her son, I asked her if she was ok.

"I'm in New York visiting family, and I just found out that someone set our apartment on fire and now because of the damage we're being evicted by our landlord. I just can't deal with this right now."

I had said what encouraging words I could, asked about her son, and told her I'd call her back before 5 with an update.

Of course, I'd totally forgotten about it in the midst of my shamefest, but I had checked my email, and there was nothing to update her with. So I told the kind mother of a kid mixed up in the court system, whose belongings had been burned, and who was being evicted from her home, that I didn't have any good news to share, but I would call her back if I did.

After I hung up the phone, I closed my laptop and picked up the dirty tissues and chocolate stained napkins littering the bed. Then I kissed Adam and left for a yoga class.

In the cosmic sea of human suffering, my rejection is nothing. A blip on the radar of an otherwise extravagantly blessed life. That is not to say that it is meaningless, or that my pain and disappointment about it are not real. The next few weeks will require a continual reminder that my worth is not measured by a line on my resume, no matter how much the law school world says that it is.

Mostly, I'm just feeling thankful for a phone call that put things in perspective (and that I was able to call her back the following day with good news), and a partner who loves me always and so well.


Though I wasn't feeling up for cooking, I managed to pull together this easy summer meal, and I think it's going to become a favorite for us. This is another recipe inspired by our trip to Savannah

Cheerwine is a typically Southern soda, but I think it can be found in most grocery stores. If you can't find it, root beer, Dr. Pepper, or Coke would work too.  The recipe I adapted this from suggested using chicken thighs, but when I went to use mine, they had gone bad, so I used frozen chicken breasts instead. I think either would work well, or a combination of the two. 

The easy cole slaw is a must. We nixed the buns the next day for lunch and just ate big bowls of the crunchy coleslaw and sweet savory barbecue chicken. It's a happy kind of summer lunch thing. 

Have a blessed week, friends. 


Crockpot Cheerwine Barbecue Chicken


Ingredients: 
1 1/2 lbs chicken (You can use 6 chicken thighs or 4 chicken breasts, or a combination of the two)
2/3 cup cheerwine soda
1 cup of your favorite barbecue sauce
1/3 cup minced onion
pinch of red pepper flakes
a few dashes of your favorite hot sauce


Directions: 
Combine all ingredients in the crockpot.

Cook on low for 7 hours. Shred chicken using 2 forks. Turn crockpot to "keep warm" until ready to serve.

Recipe inspired by The Old Pink House Restaurant. Recipe adapted from Eat Live Run.

Easy Coleslaw


Ingredients:
1/2 head green cabbage, finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and thinly grated
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon white wine or apple cider vinegar
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1/2 tsp celery seed
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
Combine cabbage and carrots in a large bowl.

In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, celery seed, and salt and pepper. Pour over cabbage and carrots and stir to combine.

Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to use.

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