Wednesday, November 26, 2014

2 Shout-outs: Swanson and UMN research

Sodium is of huge concern to those with chronic kidney disease, and our food system is at a crisis when it comes to salt.  We can't really go out to eat anymore, as everything is over salted.  The only places we could even consider are local, organic restaurants.  Sodium is snuck in everywhere.  Not sure, go to your freezer and take out a pack of ground turkey, a roasting chicken, or pork chops.  Chances are they are injected with both sodium and potassium if you aren't buying organic.

This is why I literally jumped up-and-down this weekend when I saw Swanson Chicken Brother Unsalted.  Thank you for listening to my pleases!  Now, if you could just expand that to your organics and vegetable broths I will be set.  However, this is a big find for those of us that need to cook low-sodium, or even those that want to control their salt intake, but don't have time to make their own broth.  


I also need to do a shout-out to our own local Dr. Devin Peterson at the UMN, who does flavor research and is looking into sodium-alternatives in the Food Science and Nutrition Department.  There is a great 5:41 minute PBS video about this very issue. 



Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Birthday Dinner: Maple-Glazed Chicken with Saffron Rice

These are kidney-friendly recipes, and super tasty.


This year I celebrated my 34 birthday with my best friend and twin, Panhia (no, not real twins obviously, but we share the same birthday and many mannerisms).  Panhia and Dave came down for dinner, and we had a lovely visit.  These recipes turned out quite tasty and are kidney-friendly, if you leave out the salt, which I did in both.


The saffron rice recipe is from The Splendid Table.  I didn't have curry leaves on hand, so I omitted them, and it was still excellent.

This is my foolproof chicken recipe from Food & Wine.  I usually double the onions when making two chicken, as I love the sweet onions with the chicken as leftovers.

Roast Chicken with Black Pepper-Maple Glaze

Ingredients
  1.  2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  2. 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  3. Coarsely ground pepper
  4. 2 medium onions, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
  5. 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  6. Salt
  7. Two 3 1/2-pound organic chickens
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. In a small saucepan, melt the butter with the maple syrup and 2 teaspoons of coarsely ground pepper. Remove the glaze from the heat.
  2. On a large heavy-duty rimmed baking sheet, toss the sliced onions with the olive oil. Season the onions with salt and pepper and spread in an even layer. Season the chickens inside and out with salt, then arrange them on top of the onions. Loosely tie the chicken legs together with kitchen string.
  3. Roast the chickens for 45 minutes. Brush the chickens all over with half of the maple glaze and continue roasting them for 1 hour longer. Increase the oven temperature to 425°. Generously brush the chickens with the remaining glaze and roast for 15 minutes longer, or until the cavity juices run clear and the chickens are richly browned.
  4. Transfer the chickens to a platter and let rest for 10 minutes before carving. Pour the onions and pan juices into a large glass measuring cup and skim the fat from the surface. Season with salt and pepper and serve with the chickens.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Pumpkin Soup and Turkey Triple Decker Grilled Cheese

This weekend was about emptying out the fridge and office.  I won a white pumpkin at work for dressing up for Halloween.  I decided to roast that and make some soup while it was still good.  Since it didn't make enough I had to add one can of pumpkin puree.

This is the yummy pumpkin soup recipe I used from the Minimalist Baker.  I used chicken stock, since I had a carton open, and also added a dash of paprika to give it a little zip.

Charlie also made a triple-decker grilled cheese for me with Ferndale Turkey (the only turkey I eat anymore- it is so good), and a variety of sliced cheese we had leftover.



Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Freekah Good and Apple Squares

At this year's Farm Fest at Valley Natural Foods co-op I tried many new products, and one was freekah.  It was freekah good!  It is ancient young green wheat that is roasted, and has a nutty and chewy texture, kind of like a cross between brown rice and bulgur.  I went home right away and made their Asian Green Beans and Freekeh Salad, which is delicious.  I decided to whip up a quick lunchtime meal that I can portion out for the rest of the week, and this simple dish is quite tasty.


Roasted Squash Freekah

Ingredients
1 bag of rosemary and sage freekah
1 butternut squash
1/2 cup dried cranberries
EVOO
2 cloves of garlic, minced



Directions
1.  Dice the butternut squash into little bite-sized pieces.  Arrange on a baking sheet and toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt, pepper, and 2 cloves of garlic minced. Roast at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.
2.  Prepare freekah according to directions. (I used chicken stock to give it even more flavor.)
3. Once freekah is done, toss in cranberries to soften with the heat of the grain.  Add squash when done, and mix.
4. Once room temperature feel free to add 1-2 tablespoons of EVOO, if you feel it is dry.  I didn't this time.  Enjoy for lunches throughout the week.




This past weekend I also made Splendid Table's Custardy Apple Squares.  It was a nice variation from the apple crisp we have been making, and is heavenly a la mode!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Stuffed Pork Chops and Polenta

Thank goodness two of our fall favorites are low in potassium and phosphorus for a renal diet: pork and apples!  This recipe turned out to be pretty tasty, even minus any salt.  Of course, if you are not on a low sodium diet, feel free to season with salt.




Stuffed Pork Chops

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons chopped onion
  • 2 medium Haralson apples, diced finely (or other hard and tart apple)
  • 2 teaspoons minced parsley
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • 4 pork chops (I used boneless)
Directions
  • In a pan with a tablespoon of butter saute apples, onion, and caraway until tender.  Remove from heat and add in parsley and a little pepper (and salt if you can have it).
  • Cut a pocket in each chop by making a horizontal slit through the meat, but don't puncture the other sides.  
  • Heat a large pan with 1 tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Stuff each pork chop with the apple mixture and secure closed with two toothpicks each. Season with pepper (and salt, if you can).
  • Searing each side of the pork chop in the oil, about 2-3 minutes a side.
  • Transfer pork chops to a baking dish if your pan can't go in the oven.  Bake at 350 for about 15-20 minutes.  Use a meat thermometer and take the pork chops out of the oven when it reads 145 degrees.
  • Cover with foil and let rest at least 5 minutes.  Remove toothpicks and enjoy!
I served them with polenta sprinkled with a little bit of Parmesan, and green beans.  



Renal Diet: Support FDA in Nutrition Labeling Changes

As many of you know Charlie is in kidney failure, so that means we are fallowing a renal diet. Renal diets turn everything you know about healthy eating upside down.  No more whole grains, rather white bread, white rice, and pasta are your friends. You have to be super strict about your phosphorus, potassium, and sodium.  Everything has some amount of phosphorus and potassium.  We are really tired of conventional stores and where all the places potassium is hidden.  If you don't buy organic meat, go look at the wrapper.  I can almost promise that they inject that pork chop with potassium and sodium to make the shelf life longer, and more appealing in color.  Now we are member-owners of Valley Natural Foods, and buy most of our items there, as most items do not have added potassium.  Please join me in supporting the FDA in changing their nutrition labels to require manufactures to put in the amount of potassium.  This is not only important to those with kidney issues, but heart as well!

Monday, October 13, 2014

CURRY VEGETABLES WITH CHICKPEAS AND CREAMY POLENTA

This was a pretty tasty quick-fix meal.  You can get it on the table in 30 minutes flat, and is a great way to use up those last fall veggies from the garden before the frost hits.  This is an adaptation from the Curry Grilled Vegetables with Chickpeas and Creamy Polenta. Sorry I didn't get a nice picture before I ate all of it, so you have a picture of my lunch leftovers.



Ingredients

Polenta

  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups low sodium chicken stock
  • 1 cup polenta
  • 2 tablespoons butter
Vegetables
  • 3 small summer squash, diced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1/4 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 teaspoons curry power
  • 1-2 teaspoons  zatar seasoning
  • 1 lemon juiced
  • cilantro or parsley chopped
  • feta or cheese on hand
Instructions
  1. Bring water and broth to a boil.  Stir in polenta; cook until polenta begins to thicken. Cover and reduce heat to lowest setting.  Simmer polenta for 25 minutes, stirring and scraping the pan bottom and sides every 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in butter. 
  2. Over medium heat heat olive oil, sauté summer squash, red pepper, onion and garlic cloves.  Once softened add spices and add chickpeas until warmed. Remove from heat and add the lemon juice.
  3. Spoon polenta into a bowl, top with vegetables, sprinkle with cheese and herbs.  Enjoy!
  4. Since we are trying to reduce our sodium, I did now add salt, and I rinsed the chickpeas and soaked them in water while the polenta was cooking. 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Lunches for the week: Sweet and sour chicken with spicy green beans and cauliflower

Thanks to all my family and friends for suggestions last weekend of what to make for dinner to have leftovers for lunches this week.  I have lots of ideas for next week, but decided to go with my craving for sweet and sour chicken.  

We really like this low calorie, and relatively low sugar recipe that I think I found in Cooking Light, but am not finding it online offhand.  I use whatever veggies I have on hand (lots during farmers market season), and usually add a can of diced pineapple and add the juice to the sauce, as I think it needs more sauce liquid than it calls for frequently.  

We also tried the Sriracha Cauliflower by the White of Rice Couple, which Panhia and Dave would love.  Charlie didn't care for it at all, but he isn't a big cauliflower fan.  I would make it again, but it is pretty spicy. Oh, when I make it again I will cut back the oil to only 1/4 a cup, if that.

We also made the Szechuan Green Beans by the Heavy Table that I highlighted before.  They are my fav, since you don't have to fry them in oil, you just broil them.




Sriracha Roasted Cauliflower
Ingredients:
  • 1/3 cup (80ml) olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce (use Tamari Soy sauce for Gluten Free)
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar (use distilled white vinegar for Gluten Free)
  • 2 tablespoons Sriracha sauce, homemade or regular
  • 1 head cauliflower (about 2 pounds / 910g), cut into 3⁄4-inch (2-cm) florets
  • chopped cilantro, for garnish
Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Lightly grease a sheet pan or line it with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the oil, sesame oil, soy sauce, vinegar, and sriracha sauce. Whisk well.
  3. Gently add the cauliflower to the bowl and coat with the marinade.
  4. Arrange the cauliflower on a baking sheet and roast for 10 minutes. Turn the cauliflower over and roast for another 10 minutes, or until tender.
  5. Garnish with the cilantro and serve.
Read more at http://whiteonricecouple.com/recipes/sriracha-roasted-cauliflower/#o5Z0XCG2wt3blVxt.99
Yield: Serves 4
Total Time: 30 min
This recipe is from our cookbook, Bountiful. Since everyone's spice preference varies, make sure to adjust the amount of sriracha sauce to your desired level. It it over the top excellent with a homemade sriracha sauce, however it is still great with the regular store bought variety.

Szechuan Green Beans
Recipe from the Tasting Table Test Kitchen
Yield: 4 servings
Cook Time: 15 minutes
  •  1 pound green beans, ends trimmed
  • 1 teaspoon canola oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (less if you prefer a gentler heat)
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1/2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled (use the edge of a teaspoon to scrape off the skin) and grated
  1. Adjust the oven rack to the highest position and preheat the oven to broil. On a rimmed baking sheet, add the green beans. Broil until the beans are almost tender and are speckled with black spots, rotating the baking sheet halfway through cooking, about 10 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and turn the beans out into a large bowl. Set aside.
  1. In a small skillet set over medium-low heat, add the oil. Once the oil starts to shimmer add the red pepper flakes, stirring occasionally, and cooking until they turn a slightly darker shade of red, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 3 minutes. Turn off the heat and immediately add the sherry vinegar. Swirl the skillet, and then stir in the soy sauce.
  1. Pour the garlic-vinegar sauce over the green beans. Toss well. Place the ginger pulp in your palm and squeeze the ginger over the beans to extract the juice; discard the pulp. Toss the ginger juice with the beans and serve.
Sweet and Sour Chicken 
(Sorry I don't recall where this recipe is from)
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Serves 6 
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 Tablespoons oil
  • 2 Tablespoons apricot preserves
  • 1 lb. chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 teaspoons grated ginger (fresh)
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 cups broccoli, chopped
  • 1 cup carrots, slivered 
  • 1 cup green peppers, sliced
  • 1 cup red peppers, sliced
  • 1 cup snow peas, trimmed
  • 1 can water chestnuts
  • 1 small can pineapple chunks
Whisk together the vinegar, soy sauce, cornstarch and preserves and set aside.  
Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a wok.  Stir fry chicken and remove from heat.  Add 1 tablespoon of oil and stir fry the carrots, peppers and broccoli.  Add the peas and garlic and ginger and stir try a minute. Add the sauce and chicken stock (and I add the pineapple juice) and stir in the chicken, water chestnuts and pineapple.  Sometimes it needs more stocks to thin out the sauce. 
Remove from wok and serve over brown rice.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Eagan Food Truck Festival


Last weekend Eagan held its' first ever food truck festival, Food on 4 Wheels! I can only hope that more food trucks will visit the south metro, as we had one in Apple Valley at our farmers' market once, and then Canterbury Park has a festival as well, but that is about it.
I was there right when it opened and it certainly looked to be a success.  There were 21 food trucks and I sampled three:



  1. Taqueria La Hacienda- I ordered a pork taco and al pastor (bbq pork) tacos arabes.  The pork taco was perfect.  Just the right amount to meat to toppings and a nice bit of pineapple salsa on top and lime to balance it.  The tacos arabes were yummy, but the chipolte bbq and dipping sauce was a bit too much for me.  I am excited that they have a Burnsville restaurant location, as we need a really good Mexican restaurant in the south metro.   



  2. Hot Indian Food- I read that this was one of the top 10 food trucks in the Twin Cities.  It was nice that they had a mini Indurrito (Indian Burrito) to try for the event, however  I had them create a mini lamb rice bowl instead.  It was delicious and also packed a punch. 



  3. Butcher Salt- We never have burgers at home, so this was my chance to get one hot off the grill, and it did not disappoint.  The sliders are a perfect balance of meat that has been seared, so the edges are nice and crispy, with melted cheese, bacon, onions, and a nice pickle on top with a buttered and browned bun.  I added a side of the Butcher Salted Browns- why not have hashbrowns with your slider? They were nice and salty and crispy as well, with some cheese mixed in.  However, I am a fan of ketchup with my hashers, so I was disappointed that they had no condiments available.  



  4. I hope the south metro keeps it up and offers more events like this.  It was nice that the food shelf also had a bus there, so I brought some canned goods to donate, but was sad to see I was the first person to give.  Help support our local food shelves in the summer too folks!  Eagan’s Open Door will take extra produce from your gardens too!

    Tuesday, July 29, 2014

    Black Pepper Pasta with Mushrooms and Goat Cheese

    Well, we bought goat milk and cheese making supplies two weeks ago, and never found time to make goat cheese using our kit again.  Sigh, the milk went bad before we got around to it.  So, we bought goat cheese at CostCo (killer deal) and made this pasta dish.  The recipe is basically Food & Wine's Ziti with Portobello Mushrooms, Caramelized Onions and Goat Cheese, with a few additions/swaps:
    • I added about double the amount of both cheeses
    • I used black pepper pasta from a vendor at the Mill City Museum, yummy!
    • I added a cup of frozen peas to the dish when the mushrooms were done cooking
    • I cooked the mushrooms in garlic olive oil
    • I used 1-2 cups of pasta water to thin out the sauce and help it cling to the noodles.
    It doesn't look pretty, but it was delicious!


    Tuesday, July 8, 2014

    Restaurant Reviews: On's Kitchen and World Street Kitchen

    I checked out two new (to me) restaurants this past week with colleagues and friends. 

    World Street Kitchen
    First, thank you for having offstreet parking in Uptown!  (You don't want to be behind me parallel parking; it is painful to watch. Yes, I'm from and live in the 'burbs.)  We went all out and tried the pickles and aloo tikki chaat.  I have never had anything quite like the latter.  It had a bit of kick, but was more like a spread, so I wish we had pita bread, or something for it.  The pickles were delicious.  I had the lamb belly yum yum bowl, and it was yummy.  I spiced it up with some of their hot sauce selection too.  One miss was the curry peanut butter cookie; it takes a lot for me not to eat something and the curry was too overbearing for me.


    On's Kitchen
    Go there now!  This is hands-down my new favorite thai restaurant!  I will be getting take-out from there once a month on my way home.  I love this place.  The spring rolls were delicious- balance of crunchy vegetables, noodles, and pork with a nice dipping sauce.  The cream cheese wontons were the best I have had lately, as they weren't over fried and had lots of cream cheese in them.  The reviews all said to get Pad See Ew, and I did.  OMG, the best I have ever had!  I ordered it in between mild and medium and I was sweating a bit, so they really take their spice seriously here.  I washed it all down with a lovely thai tea with condensed milk.  That is a wonderful drink dessert.  Now that I am writing about it I want to go back tomorrow.  So good!



    Sunday, July 6, 2014

    Pinterst Recipes: 4 Successes

    Lately, I have made a few side dishes that I found on Pinterest that I thought I would share that are quite tasty. 

     This past weekend we grilled pork chops from the UMN Meat Lab.  If you haven't checked this place out, do!  I hate sharing my secret, but it is the best tasting pork chops around.  I also love their sundried tomato ground turkey; perfect for Italian casseroles in the winter (we don't eat red meat).   As sides I tried two dishes: lemony parm zucchini and sweet and smokey carrots. The zucchini would have turned out better if they were in planks, like the recipe said.  The carrots were great.  We will make them again soon!
     If you didn't know the trick to ripen avocados is to put them in a paper bag, try it next time you are in a pinch.  I bought a rock hard avocado and it ripened in a day in the bag, so I could make this roasted avocado side dish.  It is a great summertime lunchtime meal. 
     I made a yummy hoisin stir fry last week, but used chicken in this recipe and a lot more veggies!
    Based on how many of these m&m cookies my niece Lauren ate on our picnic they are a hit.  I probably did 3/4 a tsp of kosher salt, as some folks said it was too much salt.  I thought it was just right, but I love sweet and salty.

    Sunday, May 18, 2014

    Bridal Shower Curried Chicken and Lemon Cookies

    Over a year ago my aunt Sue and I hosted a bridal shower for my sister-in-law.  We made lots of delicious eats and drinks, but two stand out.  Everyone asks for the curried chicken salad and the lemon cookies recipes.  I need to give credit, as the chicken salad is from my mother-in-law and the cookies from my coworker Amy.  Both a perfect springtime meal.  Enjoy.


    Curried Chicken Salad
    2 cups, cooked cubed chicken
    1 medium apple, chopped
    3/4 dried cranberries or cherries
    1/2 cup thinly sliced celery
    1/4 cup chopped pecans
    2 Tblsp sliced green onions
    3/4 cup mayo
    2 tsp lime juice
    1/2 tsp curry power or to taste

    In a bowl combine first 6 ingredients. Combine mayo, lime juice, and curry powder.  Add to chicken mixture and stir to coat.  Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour until ready to serve.  Serve on bread with lettuce.

    Lemon Drop Cookies
    (makes about 4 dozen cookies)
    1/2 cup butter
    1 1/2 cups of granulated sugar
    2 eggs
    2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
    1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1 cup light sour cream
    1 teaspoon lemon zest
    1+ tablespoon lemon juice

    Preheat oven to 375. In a large bowl and using an electric mixer, cream together butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time. In another bowl or on a large piece of waxed paper, mix together flour,baking powder, baking soda and salt. One-third at a time and beating beating well after each addition, add flour mixture to egg mixture, alternating with sour cream. Stir in lemon zest adn lemon juice. Drop by teaspoonfuls, 1 1/2 inches apart, onto a parchment lined baking sheet.
    Bake until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Remove and cool on a wire rack. Frost with Lemon Frosting.

    Lemon Frosting
    6 tablespoons butter 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar 2 tablespoon lemon juice 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
    In a saucepan melt butter. Stir in sugar, lemon juice, and vanilla. Add enough water to create a good spreading consistency.

    (feel free to add more or less lemon juice to get the consistencies of dough and frosting that you need- I like things extra lemony)

    Thursday, April 17, 2014

    Foodie artist: Sharing a meal

    I am in love with Michael Strand's Bowls Around Town project.  He created beautiful ceramic bowls, and circulated them around the community of Portland with a journal and camera.  The public is encouraged to have family or friends over and enjoy and document a favorite dish.  Strand hopes to create a community cookbook based on these experiences. I love that local public libraries are partnering to get the bowls out into the community.  I would love the opportunity to partner with artists more in my position as outreach librarian at the U.  How are other librarians partnering with artists?

    I also adore his Misfit Cup Liberation Project, where the public can exchange a long forgotten cup that sits on your shelf for a new handmade piece.  He collects the stories around them, and encourages the owners to enjoy conversation over coffee and tea with his new cup. This reminds me of my time in Japan and London, both of which consisted of many visits with friends, none of which were complete without conversation over a hot beverage.  I hope this brings back teatime to many families across the country.

    Sunday, April 6, 2014

    Inspiring artists: Plate as form

    I would like to highlight two artists that I have read about lately that I find inspiring.  I will feature a few artists that work in a food-related realm.

    • Julie Green is working around the difficult topic of capital punishment. She documents the last meal of inmates prior to their execution in The Last Supper.  The variety from normal cafeteria fare, fast food, to  custom meals.  It illustrates the lack of humanity and dignity for inmates. One of the most touching plates I saw had a quote from one of the prison officials printed on it and a picture of a birthday cake; the inmate never had a birthday cake, so they invited his/her family and friends to have pizza and cake.  I am proud that Minnesota no longer has the death penalty, and support Julie's mission to make 50 plates a year until the death penalty is abolished. 
    • Have you ever wanted to eat in a museum?  Aki Shibata created an interactive exhibit and social experiment, where community members joined her in the museum for conversation over a meal.  I love the idea of stumbling upon them while enjoying artwork and being taken back by the everyday occurrence in a new place. Do you join in, listen, sit and watch, or move along?  I wish I could have visited or better yet participated when First Dates exhibited.

    Monday, March 17, 2014

    Fast Food Fish Sandwich Smackdown

    I grew up with fish sticks or McDonald's Filet-o-Fish on Fridays during Lent.  Well, Charlie and I always have a fish sandwich and shamrock shake the weekend of St. Patrick's Day.  This year there were a lot of ads for other sandwiches, so we were curious, which is the best?  Here is my ranking:

    1. Arby's- Who would guess that the best fast food fish sandwich would be from a roast beef place?  The fish was flaky, and the bun to fish ratio was perfect.  The tarter sauce was good, and the lettuce crunchy.  This is my new favorite. 
    2. Wendy's- This came in a close second, as I liked the proportions, but Arby's seasoning was better.
    3. Hardees- There aren't many left in the Twin Cities, but there happens to be one on my way home on Hamline.  This sandwich is not breaded and fried like all the others, and is on a wheat bun.  A refreshing change, and I would get this again when in the neighborhood.
    4. McDonald's- Charlie still likes this one for nostalgia reasons, but I find it limp and often too full of tarter sauce.
    5. White Castle- A horrible waste of fish squeezed into a rectangular patty.
    Give one of the new sandwiches a try! 

    Monday, February 24, 2014

    Restaurant Overviews: Cam Rahn Bay, Sen Yai Sen Lek, and Pizzeria Lola

    A few weeks ago my mom and I had lunch at Cam Ranh Bay in Burnsville.  Thanks mom for coming to my side of the world! What a great place for lunch- no frills, but good service and with a $6.95 lunch special you can't go wrong!  We had wonton soup, with a nice clear and fresh broth. Then spring rolls, which was so-so- mostly cabbage, so I would like to try something else from their appetizers.  We both had the rice noodle bowl with either pork or beef.  Lots of fresh cabbage and bean sprouts, and delicious sauce to accompany it.  Top it off with a sweet roll and you have a great lunch.

     After a week or two of trying to schedule dinner Christine R and I were able to get-together to catch-up on life and of course for me to get my Lia Sophia bobbles that I ordered.  I love my navy and green bracelet- best thing from that order! Since Christine also loves Thai, we decided to give Sen Yai Sen Lek a try.  It was quite delicious!


    A great Tom Yum cup of soup, with a slightly sour taste that I love from the lime leaves.


     Their fresh thai spring rolls are unlike any other that I have tried. I must say that they are my new favorite!  The marinated tofu, sausage, bean sprouts, onion, and omelet strip make for a unique balance of textures and flavors.



     My favorite Thai dish is Pad Woon Sen, so I had to try it here. I will honestly say it was only okay.  I asked for it as a medium, and it really had no spice at all.  They needed to bump up the spices, but the crispy vegetables were delicious.
    I also finally tried Pizzeria Lola's Korean BBQ Pizza as takeout. It was delicious; I love the soy chili drizzle.  I actually meant to order the Lady Zaza, so I will have to go back. 

    Wednesday, February 19, 2014

    February 16 Recipe Round-up

    Over the past month I have been pretty busy with work, so Charlie has made some yummy dishes.  Here are a few of the items we have made that folks might like.
    • Alton Brown's Green Bean Casserole is amazing!  You will NEVER go back to Cambell's canned soup again.  
    • We had a pretty bad pork chop slow cooker recipe from my cookbook the week before, but we recovered with these amazing Alton Brown's Slow Cooker Pork Chops- the dried apples made it.  Make sure you rinse them well, otherwise it will be too salty with the brine.
    • During the super bowl party I made this great Pull-Apart Pizza Bread.  I just used store bought Archer Farms Supreme pizza sauce for dipping.  For Italian seasoning I used basil, oregano, and parsley. My brother ate 1/2 the ring, so it is a winner!

    • For Friday's coffee and treat day I made these oatmeal lace cookies.  They were great, especially if you love caramel. Our student worker took the few leftover back to his dorm as valentines <3




    As a side note I am addicted to Good Earth's Sweet and Spicy tea lately, especially the orange cinnamon kick. 

    Saturday, January 11, 2014

    Winter Bliss: Skating and Sweet and Sour Pork

    Well, I haven't been on skates since at least high school until today!  We spent the first day in the 30's in over a week on the rink.  Charlie was doing double duty teaching our nephew Ryan and I how to skate.  I think I fell more than Ryan, and have the bruises to prove it.  I still don't know how to stop, but it was so much fun.  Plus, I learned hockey skates are way more comfortable than figure skates!

    What better after a long day outside and running errands than a crockpot meal. This evening I tried a recipe from one of the first Valentine's Day gifts I gave Charlie,  How to Make Love and Dinner at the Same Time. We have liked all the recipes tried to date, and tonight's Sweet and Sour Pork was no different.  I tweaked it a little bit.  To go with it maybe my new favorite Szechuan Green Beans, since they are so spicy, easy, and light (no frying like most recipes).



    I hope you enjoy these on a cold wintery night!

    Sweet and Sour Pork
     Serves 4
     2 lbs of pork, cubed (I did a pork roast)
    1 green pepper, chopped
    1 onion, chopped
    1-2 carrots, chopped
    1 20 ounce can of pinapple chunks, in juice
    1/2 cup brown sugar
    1/2 cup apple cidar
    1/4 cup orange juice
    1-2 tablespoons soy sauce
    1-2 tablespoons worcheshire sauce
    2 garlic cloves, minced
    2 tablespoons water
    2 tablespoons cornstarch

    1. Place pork, pepper, onion, and carrot in the crockpot.
    2. Drain the Pineapple, reserving the chunks for later,
    3. In a bowl, combine the pineapple juice, brown sugar, cider vinegar, orange juice, soy sauce,  and Worcestershire sauce; stir and add to crockpot. 
    4. Cook on LOW for 5-6 hours, or HIGH for 2 1/2-3 hours. (I did high for 2 1/2)
    5. Mix together cornstarch and water, and stir into crockpot.
    6. Stir in pineapple chunks, and cook for 20 minutes on HIGH.
    Click here for the amazing and easy Szechuan Green Beans