Thursday, November 11, 2010

Ode to Buttermilk

So when my sisters and I were little I remember my mom making a big jar of ranch dressing with buttermilk. Man, I loved salads growing up and that was probably in part to the dressing. I remember making buttermilk pancakes when I was little as well but couldn't exactly tell you whether I loved them or not because I can't quite remember. Well, I have a knew vigor for the love of buttermilk, especially this week.

I have early mornings where I literally through on my workout clothes and leave the house at 5:30am with my bags packed the night before for my day. Due to he slight rush in the morning I like to have breakfast and lunch prepared and ready to grab on the way out the door. I also am trying to watch what I eat and incorporate more protein into my diet which can be limiting when you are a vegetarian who solely eats eggs and fish for protein. Well my CSA basket came in and among the contents were leeks. I immediately think of leek and potato soup and was going to make that for lunch when an idea struck me. I could make mushroom and leek frittatas ahead of time and take them for breakfast. Healthy, full of protein, and very convenient. After looking through a gaggle of recipes I noticed a few mentioned using buttermilk instead of heavy cream with all of those fatty calories. Buttermilk is surprisingly healthier and still has a great flavor to add to the complexity of the dish. Man oh man where those little frittatas great tasting and I got so many comments on, "what smells so good" "where can I buy some of those" "oh my gosh, do you have any extra? Needless to say, I am adding those little suckers to my standby recipes.

The weather has become cold, finally, with the exception that it is suppose to be 78 degrees this weekend at the beach (ah, Southern California), but while it was cold this week I took advantage and made some soup. Cauliflower soup. Simple. Easy. Delicous. Healthy. I basically took a box of veggie stock, good quality is the key, one head of cauliflower, 1/2 cup of , you guessed it, buttermilk, and salt and pepper to taste. If I hadn't promised my sister I would save her some I would have had the entire batch of soup. This was off the scale good. And just that hit of buttermilk added again to the complexity and flavorings of the soup. Top with shaved Parmesan cheese and serve piping hot.

So what to do with my leftover buttermilk, as there was still some left. Certainly not just drink it from the carton (Dad). So while at Costco this week with my sister I found a cookbook that had my hooked from page 1 and I had to buy it despite trying to pair down on my books. My sister said if I did not buy the book she would. It is called "Heart of the Artichoke" by David Tanis who also wrote "A Platter of Figs" and is one of the full-time chefs at Chez Panisse. What was that first recipe? Jalapeño Pancakes made with none other than buttermilk. Continuing my love for spicy food and of course utilizing my leftover buttermilk I decided this morning to make those pancakes. I must say I made them with serrano chilies because I had those on hand and I like to kick it up a notch. O...M....G... they were out of this world good. I could have eaten the entire batch but decided to share and had my brother-in-law and his brother try them out. We were all in agreement that this was a repeat recipe. We are thinking that next time we will top it with Mexican Sour Cream (also made with buttermilk) and perhaps some scallions.

As an aside, I highly recommend this cookbook. Not only are the pictures vivid and the recipes packed with flavor, but his stories and the way he expresses his food stumblings is captivating and invited you to read on and on. Here is just a little taste of the recipes he has to offer...

(sorry, I wish I had taken more pictures)

Jalapeño Pancakes

Ingredients:

1 cup all -purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk (I used 1%)

1 egg, beaten

1 Tbsp melted butter or olive oil (if you have to chose between butter or oil, go with butter)

1/2 cup thinly sliced onion or scallion (next time I will add more for a little more texture)

1 or 2 jalapeno chilies, sliced thin (if you like hot go with serranos, 2-3)

1/2 tsp toasted coarsely ground cumin (I used toasted cumin seeds)

Directions:
Mix up the batter, and stir in the onion, jalapenos, and cumin. Heat up the griddle, and make your pancakes. (I might have devoured one before it could even hit the plate.)

Happy cooking....now go buy yourself some buttermilk!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Lent in November

Okay, so Lent isn't officially going on but I am deciding to do a Lent-type project for the month of November. Why, you ask. Here is a prime example of why. Last Wednesday someone in my spin class brought muffins and really wanted us to take one. I tried to slip out without it but was caught. Fine, one muffin never killed anyone. Well an hour later and the same thing in my Italian class. Two muffins! But wait, that is not it. I get to work and a lady I work with just found out she is having a baby granddaughter and so made pink cupcakes for us all. Seriously?! Two muffins and a cupcake. I took the cupcake and when no one was looking I through it out. I was not about to pump that much sugar and calories into my body. Since when did a simple "no thank you" to muffins or other food offerings become an insult? But that is a topic for another blog post.

So do you see where I am going with this? My brother-in-law likes to call this time of year "Eating Season" and unfortunately that is what it seems to have turned into. There are candies and sugary things everywhere I turn and I want a strong and polite way to say no, hence Lent in November.

I propose a challenge of no sugary things, open for your own interpretation as I am still planning on eating fruit, until Thanksgiving where you can celebrate with a slice of homemade pumpkin pie. And really, is not eating sugar for 20 some odd days really going to kill you? The answer is no. And after a while you might just stop craving that white devil.

Day 1 begins today!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Healthy looking

Mmmm, don't you love when food looks great and tastes great too? I am trying to work on increasing my protein intake and decided to make fish with my sister tonight for dinner. What a difference a spice rub can make in flavor and style! Tonight we used the chili-lime spice from Williams-Sonoma. I highly recommend it. Salad from our SFG or CSA basket, I can't remember which. Oh, and did I mention I ate the persimmons from last weeks basket and it was phenomenal! We got more in this basket and I can't wait for it to ripen so I can eat it.

Happy Healthy Eating!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Still kind of summer in Cali

Well the weather is being fickle and despite it being Fall my backyard garden still has tomatoes on its vine. Perfect for the curry stir-fry or scrambled eggs. Yummy, healthy, and home grown.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

My goodness, life can get busy

So a few weeks back I went to Portland for a good friends wedding.


After I got back I was on my feet running with a busy week of work followed by a weekend where I was out of commission because I got sick. Booo! I am finally better and things are back to normal.

Picked up my CSA basket. Hmm, persimmons, what to do with those?


Oh yea, did I mention I am biking the Long Beach Marathon this Sunday??? I am. I am super excited too. Well, I am very excited, I had to downgrade because apparently it is at 5am. Grr, but I love biking and have been taking a spinning class which definitely helps with the conditioning so I can't wait to go and snap some pics. And did I mention I get a medal? Yep, I do.

Now, back to the 20 hours of homework I have for my computer class and Italian class. Hmm... grocery shopping and menu planning is next on the list.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Think About It Thursday

"My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth."
-1 John 3:18

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Quick Update...I bought a helmet


I went for another bike ride today at the Back Bay and wore my helmet. I did not feel like a total dweeb and it was surprisingly comfortable. Also, I opted for sunglasses today instead of a baseball cap and I am glad I did. I shall now refer to them as windshields for the eyes considering how many bugs committed suicide on them But my eyes were protected so yea!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Why I will now buy a bike helmet


Well apparently God wanted me to breakdown and finally buy a bike helmet. I have signed up to bike the Long Beach Marathon this year, my first, and I am super excited about it. Biking 26.2 miles is a bit (a lot) easier than running it and I have always wanted to so I signed up. I love biking, always have, always will. Ever since I was a kid you couldn't get me off of it. I take my bike with me every where and even if I can't take it, I rent a bike...and ride without a helemet. Helmets are for kids, right? WRONG.

I was meeting up with a friend this week to bike the Back Bay, about a 17 mile ride, and she was running a bit late so I was sitting in my car waiting for her. Well wouldn't you know it, while I was waiting I witnessed a car make a u-turn right into a biker about 30-feet from where I was sitting. The biker went flying through the air and landed half on the street and half on the curb. Luckily, he was wearing a helmet and was able to respond to questions after a few minutes, but the way he landed scare me and I was just glad that he wasn't hurt more than a few bad cuts, bruises, and being pretty shaken up. I ended up calling the police and giving a statement while the man was checked out by paramedics. I was just glad that he was going to be ok.

Now the Back Bay is a biking and jogging path so I felt relatively safe that night biking without a helmet and it is only at the end biking back to where I was parked where cars were present. Let's be honest, unexpected things can happen anywhere and at anytime. It is better to be safe than sorry. I was pretty shaken up witnessing the accident and it finally pushed me over the edge, I need to invest in a good helmet for my rides. Lesson learned, thank you God.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

When in doubt...

So I have had a bunch of items from my CSA basket that I was unsure what to do with. When in doubt make you own pasta puttanesca and that is what I did! I had dinner ready for when my sister got home and we got to enjoy a healthy dinner that, if I can say so myself, tasted amazing!

As for the rest of my life, all is well and insanely busy. I will catch you up soon!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Think About It Thursday

"Competence is derived from a synthesis of education and experience." - Professional Ethics of Certified Public Accountants

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Orange County Fair

So a few weeks back the Orange County Fair was going on. Now what you need to know is that I live about 10 minutes away from the fairgrounds and all the years that I have lived here I have never once been to the fair. Well this year I finally went and it did not disappoint. Here are a few pictures for you to enjoy. (And yes I did have a bacon wrapped stuffed jalapeño. And no, I did not have a chocolate dipped bacon stripe but I wanted to!)





























Saturday, August 28, 2010

My Tzatziki Sauce!!!

Ok, not to make my head puff up or anything, but this is the best tzatziki I have ever had! I started with a recipe I found of FoodNetwork.com but ended up changing it so much I had to write down what I did. By the end, it was a completely different recipe but man was it good. Here it is for you all to try to. May I suggest with either lamb, roasted veggies, toasted pita chips, or with some chopped up raw veggies. Enjoy!


Greek Tzatziki Sauce

Ingredients
• 7-8 oz. Greek yogurt
• 1 medium cucumber, seeded
• 2 ½ tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
• 3 tablespoon minced fresh dill
• 2 teaspoons minced garlic
• 1 ½ - 2 teaspoons kosher salt
• ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions
Cut of ends of cucumber and then cut cucumber in half length-wise. Scoop out seeds. Thinly slice cucumber, use a mandolin if you have one. Sprinkle ½ teaspoon salt on cucumber and place in strainer over bowl and let sit for 30 minutes to an hour. After an hour ring out liquid and place cucumber in mixing bowl. Add in remaining ingredients and stir. Flavors will meld more over time.
Yield: 8 servings

Friday, August 27, 2010

Can I get some culture up in the house?


So if you know me in real life and we hang out, chances are that we have gone to eat at an ethnic food place. I love trying all types of cultural food, new spices and sensations, and I like to bring that home with me and use it in the kitchen. Well looking back on the foods of the week, there is no shortage of ethnic food here. With the CSA basket I had I tried to expand my lunch and dinner recipes and also being Pescatarian has made me stretch my imagination when it comes to cooking as well. I wish I had started taking more pictures sooner, but here is a listing of my fun lunches and dinners ethnic style!

Greek Lunch: Grilled veggie pita sandwiches with homemade tzatziki sauce.

French Dinner: Savory Mushroom & Serrano Chile Crepes (I need to add these more to my repertoire, the batter is very easy and so tasty. And have I mentioned my love for Serrano chilies?)
Spanish/Portuguese Dinner: Black bean, corn, cilantro, and cotija cheese empanadas (I even made the dough!)

Cuban side dish: Homemade sweet potato fries sprinkled with cotija, cilantro, and lime

Chinese Dinner: Vegetarian Pot Stickers


So, tomorrow I will post the tzatziki recipe I came up with this week and am going to add to the sister cookbook because I loved it so much! Happy cooking...and eating!