For Dinner: Something I Can’t Pronounce

Bún Chay.

While I have no idea how to pronounce that, I can say it was “delicious,” “crunchy,” and “flavorful.”

That being said, a bowl of rice noodles and raw vegetables just isn’t cutting it tonight.

I need crepes.

[I genuinely fear that “freeing ourselves from cable” just means “eat more,” but I can’t be sure. I need more evidence!]

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Eggplant & Halloumi Burgers

Halloumi cheese is dense, salty, and it grills like a block of tofu – as in fast and easy. I highly suggest you try it in some capacity, if not on these delicious burgers that I scooped from Veggie Belly.

We all know the importance of layering when it comes to the muli-tiered burger. You put the tomatoes on the pickles, and bam – everything falls apart on your plate (if you’re lucky), and you have no choice but to pick of the pieces with a fork and knife (gasp!).

SOME TIPS:

  • Cut the eggplant a smidge thicker than I did to give it more of a “burger” feel
  • Try the Summer Shandy beer. Not only is it the perfect beer for a warm weather cookout, it could not have complimented this meal any better. (Thanks B.N. for leaving those behind!)

I hope you are enjoying this beautiful weather. Give your papa lots of kisses today.

Brit

Creamy Avocado & Egg on Toast

Ever since seeing a tiny, seemingly insignificant “what I ate” Instagram of this sandwich on another blog I’ve been thinking about making it myself. The richness of the egg coupled with the creamy textured avocado, pressed sloppily between seedy whole wheat sourdough bread, makes for a fantastic quick and easy meal.

For sides I added some cucumber slices for crunch, and cherry tomatoes with balsamic vinegar  for a little acidity. 

I rarely buy avocados anymore as I happen to live with a bonafide avocado hater (he asked I bold “hater”), but I grew up eating “avocado sandwiches” on potato rolls, and the fruit has a special place in my heart. In case that warrants more of a description: (1) 1 avocado smashed on 1 potato roll. (2) Eat vigorously before it “poops” out the back of the roll.

My love of avocados was restored tonight. I am going to make variations of it all. summer. long.

And for that, Steven, I am sorry.

Oatmeal Raisin Walnut Cookies

Favorite kind of cookie: Oatmeal Raisin Walnut

Favorite way to make ’em: Like this.

Favorite way to eat them: Warm, with ice cream.

Lord help me I’ve eaten a lot of these suckers today. If you can believe it, I was making them for someone else, out of the goodness of my heart. If you can also believe it, I was simply “testing” them to make sure they were delicious.

I’m meticulous in the kitchen. I am to be admired, really. Admired.

Marinated Grilled Vegetable Kabobbies

[You thought that said “boobies,” didn’t you?]

The best thing about being a vegetarian is that drinking the marinade isn’t against the rules. It’s frowned upon and “gross,” but I try not to let that stop me.

Grilled Vegetable Marinade:

  • extra virgin olive oil
  • balsamic vinegar
  • dollop of Dijon mustard (heavy-handed if you know what’s good for you)
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1 tsp of honey
  • salt & pepper

I usually stick to 3 parts olive oil for every 1 part vinegar. It’s not hard and fast or anything, and such precision won’t make a lick of difference for this marinade, but it’s worked for me so far. Also, I will just go ahead and let you be a grown-up and pick your own vegetables.

There is just something about grilling on the patio while your new neighbors have a loud, drunken shindig on a Sunday night that makes you feel like city folk.

Feels like home already.

Brit

Tri-Color Quinoa

Tri-color quinoa is like green and orange bowtie pasta. It doesn’t necessarily taste that different, but it sure is pretty.

Ever since I (finally) got a handle on making quinoa I’ve been preparing it in batches on a weekly basis. It’s perfect for lunches, cold or hot, and actually helps with that 2:30 in the afternoon slump. Everyone suffers from that, right? Ok, good.

In the meantime, a compilation of my (mostly food-related) favorite things from the Internet as of late:

Making lists and discovering an emerging theme is like therapy…

So, wine and dessert it is. Awesome.

P.S. I really enjoyed this article about the psychology of eating animals. Explaining why I don’t eat meat to people is still incredibly difficult for me – mostly because I’m terrified of coming off preachy. But, there it is, in all it’s well-written glory if you care to read it for yourself.

I hope you are having a better-than-average Wednesday. Come on, long weekend.

-Brit

Houston According to my iPhone


I volunteered to fill in for our meeting planner at one of our company conferences in Houston this past week. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this half of my job, this means a lot of answering questions (“When is lunch? Where is the bathroom? Do you notify my manager if I leave early?”), checking in on receptions and lunches, sitting at a registration desk, and constantly complaining about the room temperature.

While not always the case, this particular trip involved a lot of alone time. And as one might expect, it got quite lonely. I travel more than a few times a year, but usually with several co-workers, and often to spectacular cities like Las Vegas, Chicago, and Nashville, just to name a few.

Nothing against Houston (I didn’t venture out of my 3 block comfort zone at all, in its defense), but they sure do enjoy themselves some steakhouses.

Anyway, this is my trip, in sporadic Instagram fashion.




You can just tell he missed me, can’t you?

Oh, and in case you were curious:

For all their angus talk, I did nom on a delicious veggie burger while in Texas.

Hope you all had a nice little weekend yourselves.

Although my weekend was cut a bit short due to travel, it turned out rather lovely. But that could be the buttermilk pancakes with blueberry compote my awesome dude made me tonight for dinner talking.

-Brit

Kitchen Nemesis Defeated: Quinoa

I’d like to admit something: I’m terrible at cooking quinoa.

Well, at least I used to be. I would often overcook it, then overcompensate by turning it into quinoa cakes (which, by the way, are amazing and long overdue for us).

But there is so much more to quinoa that I was desperate to explore: salad, stir-fry, and pilafs for starters. It’s a must-know grain for vegetarians and vegans, so naturally I was feeling the pinch. The failure!

The absolute maddening sensation of failure.

Is this getting dramatic?

So a few weeks ago the Mister and I set out to crack the quinoa mystery. It took three tries, and ended in this:


Now, your standard quinoa recipe will treat the grain like it’s friends, rice, and couscous. Mistake NUMERO UNO.

Quinoa, as we came to find out, requires the attention of risotto, and the constant taste-testing of soup.

If you have quinoa down to a science, disregard this recipe – but if the magical properties of quinoa have escaped you up to this point, please try it. Because it’s nutty and crunchy, full of protein, and so good for you it’s offensive.

This won’t be entirely shocking, but my genius approach to cooking quinoa came from my How To Cook Everything Vegetarian cookbook. (I’ve convinced at least two people to buy it, Bittman. And I bought it for my mom for Mother’sDay. How about some recognition?)

Perfect Quinoa:

  1. Put 1 cup rinses quinoa in a medium-sized saucepan and fill with water until the water is a little less than an inch over the quinoa
  2. Add a pinch of salt
  3. Bring to a boil
  4. Immediately turn down to a simmer/low, stirring regularly
  5. Keep an eye on the quinoa until it is the texture you desire, tastes right, or all the water is absorbed (about 10-15 minutes)

P.S. It’s pronounced “keen-wah.” I won’t even tell you how I used to think it was pronounced. Even if it will make you feel better about yourself.

Enjoy! And please let me know if you give it a try. I’d love to know if it worked for you too.

– Brit

Stir-Fry with Rice Noodles

To say we eat a lot of Thai carry-out would be an understatement, and a potential calamity should we move closer to our dealer, Sumittra Thai Cuisine. But, keeping it real, take-out isn’t always convenient or healthy.

Much to my disappointment/pleasure, I find a lot of of Asian restaurants use far too much oil.  So whenever I attempt to re-create a dish I’ve enjoyed, I find my version a little…dry.

[Recreations have included Salt & Pepper Tofu and Lemongrass & Chili Tofu – both from Lucky Corner Vietnamese Restaurant and highly recommended.]

But with a little tweaking (and noodles, lots of noodles), not only can stir-fry satisfy the pallet, it can also be quite healthy.

Let me first tell you how absolutely thrilled I am with rice noodles. Cooking starches in general scares me. I’m always afraid of overcooking them into a textureless mush. First World Problems all up in my kitchen.

You will need:

  • 2 tablespoons fresh grated ginger
  • 1/2 pack rice noodles
  • 1-2 cups broccoli, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, slices
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 4 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 carrots sliced thinly
  • 1/2 white onion, chopped or sliced
  • 1 tablespoon thai chili garlic sauce

Now,

  1. Boil water for rice noodles and follow package instructions (don’t prepare the noodles too soon – you will want to transfer them immediately to the stir-fry).
  2. Heat sesame oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions, broccoli, carrots, and ginger.
  3. After 3 minutes, add garlic and sliced pepper. Stir regularly.
  4. Add soy sauce and thai garlic sauce (as much as you want really, I won’t judge).
  5. Finally add cooked rice noodles and toss to combine.
  6. Serve immediately (with a giant glass of milk if you know what’s good for you).

You can also:

  • add tofu (Do this at the beginning on medium high heat)
  • add Thai basil (I didn’t have any, but I love it)
  • Garnish with lime (because you. will. need. it.)

Maybe it was how the noodles didn’t soak up all the sauce and oil like rice can often do that completely transformed the texture, but it was really, really good.

I even packed the leftovers for lunch the next day. And then left my lunchbox on the kitchen table.

Sigh. 

Salsa: Three Ways

Or what they came to be called: “Regular, Green, and Fruit.”

Chopping is an incredibly calming and even therapeutic activity for me, especially with a low-stress recipe like salsa. Steve and I migrate to our respective chopping spots in the kitchen, divvy up the work, and get to it – he, the hot peppers, and me everything else.

So after making the Tomatillo Salsa with Black Bean Quesadillas about a month ago with much success, we got ballsy and made two more variations on the classic dip.

[All three salsa recipes are from Mark Bittman’s book, of course. Because it’s the absolute best.]

Pico de Gallo, Tomatillo, and Pineapple Salsas:

Four hand cramps later we took about 11 pounds of salsa over to a friend’s house to watch Round 2 Game 1 between the Washington Capitals and N.Y. Rangers.

The bad news is we came home with zero salsa, and two stomach ulcers.

The other bad news is the Capitals lost. And it was ugly.

I suppose if there was any good news it would be how excited we are to make different kinds of salsa all summer, with any luck using ingredients from our very own garden. (Herb Garden Round II, I’m coming for you this year)

Now, invite us to your parties. We’ll even bring chips.

The recipe for our favorite (we voted):

Pineapple Salsa

  • 2 cups chopped pineapple
  • 1/2 chopped red onion
  • 1 chopped jalapeno
  • 1 chopped red pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • juice of 1 lime
  • copious amounts of salt
  • sprinkle of pepper

– Brit