Monday, August 29, 2011

Shaved Fennel Salad

Being an adult can be pretty awesome.  You can buy fancy beer, even though I sometimes still blush when they card me. I really should stop doing that, I've been "of age" for a while now.

You can eat pints of blueberries and bunches of carrots from farmers markets and call it lunch. No one is judging.

You can fly your best friend (since the age of 11!) up from Texas just to make her go on a hike with you. No, we did other stuff but really, who are we kidding…

A few days later you can hike up the side of a mountain and stay up late.  Did I mention I did this all in the past few days? No? Yeah, sometimes being an adult is cool.  These are some of the major pros.

Other times, I eat popcorn sans pants and call it dinner when I don't have much time on my hands. Don't judge me.  When you're an adult you'll see all things are possible.  This salad? One of the awesome parts of being an adult. One week I got a surplus of vegetables I don't usually cook with in my CSA box. I had eaten fennel before but had yet to cook with it. Adult arugula? POUNDS of zucchini? Good thing a few days before I finally purchased Heidi Swanson's "Super Natural Everyday."

Anyone who is even slightly acquainted with me knows that I have a slight addiction to cookbooks.  Some I rarely use and others that every page is splattered in stains. Already this one belongs in the latter category. As the name of the book implies, all of the recipes are as natural as possible and relatively free of "additives" (sugars, refined grains, etc).

Moral of the blog post: this salad is easy to put together, you can make it ahead and everyone will think you're a super fancy adult.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Lavender Cupcakes with Lemon Goat Milk Buttercream

So, these cupcakes were supposed to be a little fancier than they are.  Now, I’m not discrediting my skills.  No no, these cupcakes just as good, if not better, than I expected. It's just that I was looking forward to decorating them in a certain way. I had been watching and reading tutorials on how to make flowers with buttercream. I even spent a whole two dollars on a new tip. Moral of the story: don’t use zest in buttercream when you intend to use a tip with a tiny opening.  It gets all sorts or clogged and the user (read: me) get's all sorts of frustrated.

As luck would have it, I have about 20 other frosting tips littering a drawer in my kitchen.  I pretty much closed my eyes, reached in and felt for one that was not too big and not too small. The Goldilocks of piping tips.

Other than the slight issue with the buttercream, I actually had a blast making these. While I had dabbled in baking with goat butter/milk before, this is the first time all aspects of the cake were goatified.  Is that a word? No? Moving on…

Regardless, even though goat butter is about double the price ($5 for 1 cup) and so far I’ve only been able to track it down at Whole Foods, it really makes a difference.  PEER PRESSURE. Not really, you’re more than welcome to use some unsalted butter but don’t say I didn’t warn you… The combination of the soft lavender with the tang of goat makes a full bouquet of flavors.  And the buttercream? Oh jeeze, if that much sugar didn’t put me into a coma nor make me the size of a blue whale, I would eat it every day. No one wants to see a passed out Katherine the size or a blue whale with a mane of red hair. SCARY.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Papaya Chipotle Pineapple Chicken with Almond Soy Soba Noodles

Wouldn't you know, I cooked chicken last night and didn't set off the fire alarm.  Now, for most people, this would be a no brainer.  You see, I am not like most people... I was a vegetarian (and a strict one at that) for the majority of my life and never learned how to cook meat.  It has to be cooked to a certain temp so you don't die or some brain disease? What?  Moral of the story, I am slightly challenged when it comes to meat.  Either I try to pan fry it and the fire alarm goes off.  Or I try to cook it solely in the oven and the fire alarm goes off.  Tough times.

But ah ha! I can pan sear it and then put it in the oven.  Result? Juicy, delicious and full of marinade. Saying I did a little dance to some Justin Timberlake in my kitchen would be an understatement.  If I had room in my studio apartment, I would have done cartwheels.

While the chicken would go great on a bed of anything (well, not everything), I decided to use my new julienne mandoline, a fresh pack of soba noodles and went wild.  As I don't like eating too many noodles, the julienned zucchini added to the dish without weighing it down.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Lentil, Roasted Turnip and Chard Soup

I'm baaacccckkk. Wait, what... you didn't know I was gone? Oh, this is awkward... well, I was gone. I even left the state of Washington and headed on down to California for the first time ever. You read that right, I had never never been to California before this vacation. I can finally call myself an American. I did what you'd expect me to do while on vacation. I took silly pictures with my little sister:
Smile, Caroline, you're on TGC!
 Hung out in touristy parks doing touristy things like taking ironic pictures with my iPhone:
See that yellow house in the middle? Yeah, the Tanner family lived there!

 And essentially took a sight-seeing flight back home to a (gratefully) sunny Seattle:
Sup Shasta?
I know you though, you're here for the food.

 A soup recipe in the middle of August? I know, it’s cruel and highly unusual considering 99.9% of the country in melting away in 100+ degree heat waves. But you see, I live in the .1% of the country whose summer only just started. Yes, you read me right, most days we don’t crack 80 degrees. Just two or three weeks ago, it was in the 60’s, raining and I was eating my body weight in Pho just to stay warm. My family was out visiting and I found myself saying over and over again “I swear it’s nicer in Seattle in the summer, I swear.” Then I left for San Francisco and when I came back, it has been continual high-70’s sunny days. With low humidly.

I probably shouldn’t have told you that. Now you’re all going to move here and my rent will go up.  Please ignore the last paragraph and read all my other posts about the rain here.  And STAY AWAY.

So this soup – it’s healthy, full of fresh veggies and relies on (hopefully) some of your pantry staples. If you don’t have lentils continually on hand, please, head over to your nearest Whole Foods/Food Co-Op/bulk grocery store, grab the biggest bag you can find, fill it up, don’t break your back carrying it home and enter lentil land.

You’ll thank me.

I’m also happy to say this recipe is 95.6% my own. Researching the contents of my CSA box, I had never cooked with turnips before, and looking at what's in my pantry, this soup just kind of came to be. It’s pretty adaptable for any ingredients you have on hand. Just replace the turnips with another root vegetable (taters, carrots... bigger turnips), the chard with another cooking green and you could even substitute the lentils with white beans, or something of the like.


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