July 2012

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I love when the protein for my meal is ready to go. I like having protein options in the refrigerator or freezer that I can quickly add to a meal to make it complete, especially when they compliment fresh veggies. My love of Middle Eastern food is probably what draws me to falafel. It is crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside. It pairs well with a fresh salad, some tzatziki sauce, and hummus. 

In an effort to streamline weeknight meals, we like to make a very large batch of falafel a few times a year. We store the cooked balls in the freezer in a zip-top bag, in a container for a meal that takes less than 10 minutes on a busy night. 

Making falafel takes a little foresight. The chickpeas need to be soaked for 24 hours prior to making the falafel. Soak the dry chickpeas, covered in water in a large bowl. 

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After soaking for 24 hours, drain them and prepare the other ingredients. Also, start preheating the oil. I use a dutch oven, filled about 1/2 way with vegetable oil and place a thermometer in the oil, attached to the outside of the pan. 

In the food processor, add 2 cloves of garlic, 1/2 onion, 1 tablespoon of ground cumin, 1 teaspoon of chili powder, 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika,  a handful of cilantro (you can use parsley instead), 1 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda, and the juice of 1 lime. 

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Then add the drained chickpeas. 

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Process until almost smooth, stopping every once in a while to scrape down the sides. 
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I dump the completed mixture into a large bowl. In this case, I doubled the recipe.
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I use an ice cream scoop to scoop balls of dough and put in the oil. Before dropping the ball into the 350 degree oil, I press the ball to compress it so it does not fall apart.
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Remove from the oil when they are browned. I usually cook 4-6 in the oil at one time. 
 
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Place finished falafel on a paper towel to drain. Serve immediately or allow to cool and place in a zip-top bag and then inside an air-tight container and freeze. 
 
If you choose to freeze them, to defrost, I place the falafel directly on the rack of my toaster oven at 450 degrees for about 10 minutes or until crispy on the outside and warm on this inside (I check the temperature with a meat thermometer). 
 

Falafel

by Jessica

Prep Time: 24 hours to soak the beans, 10

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Keywords: fry appetizer entree snack


Ingredients (20 falafel balls)

  • 1 3/4 cups of dried chickpeas
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 tablespoon of ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika
  • handful of cilantro or parsley
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
  • juice of 1 lime
  • oil for deep frying

Instructions

Soak the chickpeas for 24 hours, covered completely in water.

Drain the chickpeas.

Add garlic, onion, cumin, chili powder, smoked paprika, cilantro, salt, pepper, baking soda, and lime juice to the food processor. Add the chickpeas. Process until it starts to get creamy but still has a coarse texture. You may need to scrape down the sides a few times.

Heat the oil to 350 degrees. Line a cooling rack or plate with paper towels for the finished falafel.

Using a scoop, drop a few falafel balls into the oil. Cook until brown. Remove from the oil and place on a cooling rack or plate.

Serve hot or freeze for later.

To freeze for later:

Put the falafel in a zip-top bag and then place the bag in an air-tight container. Place in the freezer.

When ready to eat, put on the rack of the oven or toaster oven and heat at 450 for about 10 minutes until the outside is crispy and the inside is warm.

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I love to bake cookies. I it actually has become a problem. We typically have tons of cookies in the freezer. I rarely eat them though. I actually like to bake cookies so much that I have sold cookies for holiday parties and Christmas. I am typically not a chocolate chip cookie person. I like cookies that have more substance. I like oatmeal cookies. They are hearty and give a nice chew. 

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I am always on the lookout to find a new cookie. I like to try new recipes and I love to try my own recipes and see how they work. I decided that I wanted to make a cookie that contained no wheat flour. A cookie that can be gluten-free friendly (if you buy gluten-free oats). These cookies are chewy, packed with chocolate in every bite, and have a nice crunch. They have substance and make a beautiful presentation. You will not believe how delicious these are. These are for sure my favorite chocolate chip cookies. 

Cookie dough

These cookies require oat flour. To make oat flour, put traditional oatmeal (not quick-cook) in the food process and process for several minutes until it makes a fine powder. Set aside. It also requires almond meal (like almond flour) which can be purchased at Trader Joe’s. 

Soften 1 stick of butter and mix with the mixer until soft and fluffy. Add 1/4 cup of white sugar and 1/2 cup brown sugar (not packed) to the butter. (I reduced the amount of sugar. If you like sweeter cookies, use 1/2 cup of both kinds of sugar and pack the brown sugar.) Mix to combine. Add 1 egg and mix. Add 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, and 2 teaspoons of vanilla. Mix to combine. Add 1 1/2 cup oat flour and 1/2 cup of almond flour. Mix to combine. Add 12 ounces of chocolate chunks or chocolate chips. I like to take a high-quality chocolate bar )about 65% cocoa) and chop it. Mix until the chocolate is combine. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. 

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Heat the oven to 350. Form cookie dough balls. I use a scoop. 

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Break the top off of the cooke dough ball.

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Put the top back on, broken side up. This gives the cookie a more rustic top. 

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Bake for 10-14 minutes on an ungreased baking sheet. 12 minutes is perfect in my oven. Allow to cool if you can resist. 

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Oatmeal Chocolate Cookies

by Jessica

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 10-12 minutes

Keywords: bake dessert gluten-free chocolate oat flour almond flour cookie


Ingredients (18-24 cookies)

  • 1 stick of butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, not packed
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups oat flour
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 12 ounces of chocolate chunks or chips

Instructions

Beat butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer until fluffy.

Add white and brown sugar and combine with the electric mixer.

Add salt, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and vanilla. Mix to combine.

Add flours and mix until integrated. Add chocolate and mix until combined.

Place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet for 10-14 minutes.

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The Golden Pig is a very small restaurant located in Cecil, PA. It is not far from the Original Farmers Market  on route 51, southwest of Pittsburgh. It is a super convenient place to get fresh, scratch-made food from a very nice woman after leaving the farmers market. That is just what we did. When we arrived at the market, we called and placed our order to pick up after leaving the market. 

The Golden Pig a delicious Korean restaurant with only 11 seats. All the food is made by a woman who is very friendly and when not busy, will chat with you while you eat. The food is made in front of you as you wait and reminds me of being at a friend’s home, eating fabulously made food. She truly cares about offering authentic Korean food. We go there or order take out multiple times each year and have never had a bad meal. On this trip, we ordered three of our favorite dishes. 

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The Korean pancake is probably my favorite things here. It is light, slightly sticky, and a little crunchy. Mrs. Kwon makes fantastic hot sauce that is amazing with this pancake. To me, this is the perfect consistency for a savory pancake. 

 

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The spicy noodle salad for two is pasta in a slightly spicy sauce, mixed with vegetables, seaweed, and sprinkled with sesame seeds. It is crunchy, spicy, and smooth. I do think that it serves more than 2, probably closer to 4 or 6 if you are eating it as an appetizer. 

 

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The spicy squid is served with white rice (you can get fried rice for an additional cost) and coleslaw or kimchi. It is spicy, crunchy, and chewy cooled down with the rice. 

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The coleslaw is an option with an entree. We can never choose so, we ordered a side of coleslaw. I love the crunchiness and the toasted sesame flavor. It is the perfect compliment to the spicy meal. 

Other menu items that we like are the pork bulgogi, fried potatoes, and the jop chae. I highly recommend any of these dishes. You really cannot go wrong at the the Golden Pig. Everything is fantastic!

 

Golden Pig Authentic Korean Cuisine on Urbanspoon

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Lamps are expensive. When we moved into our first apartment, they were something that never crossed my mind. Until we moved in and it got dark. Apparently there were only about 4 lights in our entire apartment and none of them happened to illuminate the family room. Oops!  So, we went to IKEA and purchased a few inexpensive lamps. We are slowly trying to replace those cheap, tiny lamps with lighting options that are more substantial. I am still shocked at how expensive lamps are. 

One day, we went to Construction Junction, my favorite place to find materials of revamp projects, and found a great deal on lamps! They were only $5, cheaper than the lamps that we bought at IKEA! We purchased two different styles. So far, we have revamped one of the lamps. 

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It was a weird goldish-brown color. Yuck! I decided that it would be perfect to go in our downstairs hallway. It looked like this. 

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It was cute, homey, but a little dark at night. I decided that I wanted a pop of color in the hall and went shopping for spray paint. I finally decided on yellow. So, Pierre removed the cords and I put 3 light coats of paint on the lamp. 

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The next step was to find a new shade. Those are expensive, too. I was so excited to find this one on sale at target!

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I also moved a small clock that we bought from an artist, Carlos Silva whom we saw at the Three Rivers Arts Festival

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Now our hallway is more colorful, more modern, and much brighter! 

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Watermelon is the most refreshing summer-time snack. It is cold, sweet, and juicy. It helps in hydration and it is delicious. I like to keep some watermelon cubes in the refrigerator for a healthy summer snack. It is also great to have watermelon cubes sitting in the fridge, and ready to go into a quick watermelon salad. 

I have seen watermelon salad made many different ways. They typically include feta cheese and watermelon. Some include lime or mint. Others have lettuce in them. My salad consists of a few fresh ingredients for a cool side dish that can be made in a flash. 

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I mix about 3 cups of cubed watermelon with 2 tablespoons of chopped garlic chives and 2 tablespoons of chopped mint. I use garlic chives because they grow in my garden. You could use garlic scapes, chives, or scallions, too. 

 

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Then, 2 tablespoons of vinegar (I like balsamic), the juice of half a lime, pepper, red pepper flakes for a kick of spice, and 1/3 of a cup of reduced fat crumbled feta. 

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Stir and serve with your favorite summertime meal. 

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Watermelon Feta Salad

by Jessica

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Keywords: raw salad side watermelon feta mint July 4th summer


Ingredients (4-6 servings)

  • 3 cups of watermelon cubes
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chives
  • 2 tablespoons chopped mint
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar (I prefer balsamic)
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1/3 cup feta cheese crumbles
  • pepper to taste

Instructions

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Enjoy!

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Working for your food can be fun. That probably explains why crab shacks are so popular. It is fun to sit around the dinner table and talk and laugh and work on what is almost a project to get the sweet meat from the shell. I think shrimp is equally fun especially when it is messy. This shrimp is particularly messy. My fingers were covered in sauce. We literally had to lick our fingers. It has a sup rising punch of flavor unlike anything I have ever had before. Just make sure you have extra napkins. 

I really love all kinds of ethnic food. I especially like Korean food. I am always looking to create my favorite restaurant food at home which led us to buying this. 

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This is Hot Pepper Paste. It is a staple in Korean kitchens and a key ingredient to some of my favorite Korean dishes. I thought it would be fun to try it in a marinade. I bought this at an Asian specialty grocery store. It usually comes in a tub like the one pictured. 

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we did. I bet it would be fantastic on wings or spareribs. 

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Sticky, Spicy Shrimp

by Jessica

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 6 minutes

Keywords: saute entree appetizer shrimp hot pepper paste habanero hot chili oil


Ingredients (2-3 servings)

  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1-2 cloves garlic
  • 3 tablespoons hot chili paste
  • 1 teaspoon hot chili oil
  • handful cilantro
  • 1 habanero pepper
  • juice 1/2 lime
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 3/4 pound raw shrimp with shells on (15-20 count)

Instructions

Place all ingredients except the shrimp in the food processor. Process until smooth.

Put shrimp and marinade in a zip-top bag. Marinade for at least 20 minutes up to 2 hours.

Heat a large skillet on medium-high heat. Dump the bag into the pan and cook until the shrimp are cooked through, flipping once. The shrimp take about 2-3 minutes per side.

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I think there are  a few reasons that I love potato salad. 1. It tastes a little reminiscent of a deviled egg. 2. It has mustard in it. Mustard is one of my favorite condiments. 3. It has chunks of egg in it. The chunks of egg have always been my favorite part. When I was a little kid, I remember digging through the potato salad in search of the eggs. There was such disappointment when I thought I found an egg and bit in to a piece of cucumber or potato. Not what I was looking for. 

My potato salad has changed over the years. It is different than the potato salad from my childhood in that I use nonfat Greek yogurt in place of some mayonnaise or sour cream. I still use some olive oil mayonnaise but to add the creaminess so necessary to a good potato salad, I add a half of an avocado to the dressing. My changes yield a similar product. It is creamy and delicious and, most importantly, contains lots of hardboiled egg pieces. 

My grandma used regular potatoes when she made her potato salad however, I like to use small potatoes. I tend to use fingerlings because I like the flavor of them. If I happen to have visited Trader Joe’s recently, I will use teeny tiny potatoes. The potatoes should be boiled in salted water until fork tender. 

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Just drain them and let them cool. Also, hard boil 4 eggs while the potatoes are boiling. If you are unfamiliar with hard boiling eggs, just put them in a sauce pan and fill the pan with cold water until the egg is almost covered. Bring the eggs to a boil and place a cover on the pan. Turn off the heat and allow to sit in the hot water for 20 minutes. Then, dump out the hot water and replace it with cold water. You can use an ice bath if you are pressed for time. 

While the eggs and potatoes are cooking, I mix the dressing. I start with 1/4 cup of mayonnaise, 1/3 cup of Greek yogurt, 1/2 of a smashed avocado, and 1-2 teaspoons of yellow mustard. I love mustard in my potato salad so I tend to use 2 teaspoons. I also add 2 teaspoons of Worcestershire sauce, 1/4 teaspoons of both garlic powder and onion powder, and 2 tablespoons of chopped chives. 

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Then, stir to combine. Start chopping the cucumber. I like to deseeded it before I chop it so that the finished product doesn’t get too watery. 

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I usually use about a half of a cucumber, depending on the size. I also add 2-3 radishes, sliced. 

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I cut the potatoes into bite-sized pieces and dice the eggs. Then I add a can of diced chiles as well as salt and pepper to taste. 

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Stir well to combine. 

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Serve with your favorite summertime meal and enjoy. This makes 4-6 servings. 

 

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Creamy Avocado Potato Salad

by Jessica

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Keywords: salad side egg potato avocado Greek yogurt July 4th summer


Ingredients (4-6 servings)

  • 2 pounds of fingerling potatoes, boiled until tender
  • 4 hardboiled eggs
  • 2 tablespoons of diced chives
  • 1/4 cup of mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup nonfat, plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 Avocado, smashed
  • 2 teaspoons of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1-2 teaspoons of yellow mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 cucumber, deseeded and diced
  • 2 radishes, sliced
  • 1 can diced chiles (optional)
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste

Instructions

In a large bowl, combine the chives, mayonnaise, yogurt, avocado, Worcestershire, yellow mustard, garlic powder, and onion powder.

Add the cucumber, radishes, and diced chiles.

Chop the egg and cut the potatoes into bite sized pieces. Add to the bowl.

Stir to combine. Salt and pepper to taste.

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We are really lucky to live near two fantastic Korean restaurants. They are both within a 15 minute drive and offer homemade Korean food. Recently, we made another trip to Dasonii, a Korean restaurant in Robinson. It is fantastic every time we go, and this trip was no exception. One of my favorite winter dishes to order there is the Dolsot Bibimbap. It comes in a sizzling stone pot which continues to sizzle the entire time it is at the table. It comes with veggies on top as well as a raw egg that is cooked by the heat ruminating from the pot. It is the perfect comfort food and dish for those blistery winter nights. Plus, it keeps my hands warm. 

We did not order our favorite dish this time because it is July and hot outside. We decided to stick with one of our favorite Korean dishes, squid. 

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Squid in Korean restaurants is typically served chewy. It comes in a spicy sauce with fresh vegetables and rice. This is my standby dish that I like to order in Korean restaurants and this certainly exceeded my expectations. The plate came out still sizzling. 

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When we arrived, as is typical, the waitress served us the side dishes that come with each meal. They are fantastic mixed with the rice and some of the veggies from the squid. I like the contrast of the sweet potato (bottom left) that has a sticky sauce and is served cold with the spicy heat of the squid. Photo Jul 20 5 33 34 PM

Another favorite at Korean restaurants is the pancake. We chose to order the pepper pancake this time. It was tasty. However, it is a little thick for my taste but it is crispy and fantastic. Plus it is huge! We ate this for 4 days. 

 

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Finally, we ordered the kimchi pork. This was the first time that we ordered this dish and we will definitely order it again. The sauce is similar to what is used in the pan seared squid however, the pork is tender and the kimchi adds a nice accent to the texture of the dish. It too is served with rice. 

I feel fortunate that we live near such a delicious, authentic Korean restaurant. I can’t wait to go back!

Dasonii Korean Bistro on Urbanspoon

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Four years ago today I married the most wonderful man. We had a short, beautiful ceremony in Victoria, British Columbia at a restaurant that is not longer there. It was an amazing trip and a fun day. 

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Victoria is gorgeous. We got some amazing pictures in the beautiful surroundings…

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We were surrounded by a few family members and friends…

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on the day we became husband and wife. 

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We had amazing. local food. 

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It seems like just yesterday yet at the same time it feels as though we have always been together. Everyday I feel lucky to have married my best friend and my teammate in life. 

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This may just be the summer of the popsicle. I am slightly obsessed with making them. The problem is that I am not so obsessed with eating them. They are delicious but I like to move on to new and exciting things. However, when I bit into this popsicle, I knew that this one was different. It uses fresh, local strawberries and rhubarb. It is very creamy and has an almost fudgesicle texture. It is sweet and tart at the same time. 

 

Strawberry Rhubarb Popsicle

by Jessica

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Keywords: blender snack dessert gluten-free vegan vegetarian summer spring


Ingredients (8-10 popsicles)

  • 3 cups strawberries, quartered
  • 2 stalks of rhubarb, diced
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch salt
  • 1 can coconut milk

Instructions

In a medium sauce pan, bring the strawberries, rhubarb, sugar and water to a boil and allow to reduce until it forms a thick syrup (about 10 minutes). Allow to cool.

Add the syrup to a blender with the salt, vanilla, and coconut milk. Blend until smooth.

Pour into popsicle molds and freeze for at least 4 hours.

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