Archive for September, 2014

National Coffee Day – with Philz and Zoya Casey

September 30, 2014


I love a good coffee… Might as well put this here since it’s National Coffee Day!

Philz makes a strong cup of pourover coffee, then shakes up really rich cream, creating a foamy effect without steaming the milk. It’s delicious.

The photo doesn’t show the color, but I’m wearing Zoya Casey, my absolute favorite “vampy” color. It’s way overdue for a re-shoot, so I’ll put that on my to do list.


Shishito pepper snack

September 30, 2014


These little shishito peppers came in my CSA box from Farm Fresh to You (the code MARI2172 will get you $10 off and get me a $25 credit, but I expect everybody who wants to do this has already signed up). I tried them a bunch of different ways, and they were all good, but this quick “dry” fry was the best!

Add a good tablespoon or two of oil to a hot pan (canola, grapeseed, olive – just be careful of the smoke point), add the peppers and a substantial sprinkling of salt, and cook until blistered, stirring frequently. Voila! A snack that tastes excellent with beer. Grab them by the stem, bite off the pepper part, and stack your stems next to your beer coaster as proof of your mighty conquest.

I think I paired them with a Stone IPA. Let me know if any other combinations are outstanding. :)

Brunch this weekend?

September 26, 2014


The best brunch meal that could ever be – crab cakes Benedict. This one is from Cafe Flore in San Francisco and features perfectly poached eggs sitting atop petite crab cakes and smothered with hollandaise that’s rich but not greasy. I’ll never look at another Benedict again, baby, my eyes are for only you. A quite honorable mention goes to their brioche french toast, though – if you can eat hazelnuts, the flavor profile is outstanding.
<3 weekend <3

Kefta for dinner and lunch

September 25, 2014


One of my favorite things is when cooking once gets me more than one meal. This, my friends, is one of those recipes. It’s a bit of an adaptation of the Kefta and Zucchini Kebabs recipe from my go-to food blog, Smitten Kitchen. I tinkered with it enough times that I’m confident I can whip these up on a weeknight with stuff I most likely already have in the pantry. I’ve had good luck doubling the recipe, so adjust the quantities to reflect your hunger, the number of times you want leftovers, etc. – I just bet that they would do fine in the freezer. (We never have any left after a day or two, so I haven’t tried it myself.) These little grilled meatballs have the savory-spice flavors from my favorite falafel restaurants, and the toasted pine nuts give them a great bite! Plus they fit nicely in my lunch box.

Obviously, you can substitute whichever ground meat(s) you’d like to use. Unlike Deb, I’m a huge fan of lamb – I just have ground beef around way more often. I wanted to try one final iteration before I hit publish, which was to substitute chia seeds for the panko/bread crumbs. The chia seed binder will allow this recipe to be used by people looking for low-carb option. Throw some roasted beets on the side – delicious! I have paired them with this mashed cauliflower recipe, but it was way too garlicky for me.

1 small onion, minced
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/4 cup of chopped fresh Italian parsley (I’ve skipped this without harming the recipe)
1 pound of ground beef (or lamb, or turkey, or bison, or pork, or whatever! They weren’t even dry with 96% lean beef.)
1/4 cup pine nuts, chopped and then toasted – this gets you more toasted surface area, but you can also use already toasted pine nuts and roughly chop them.
2 tablespoons chia seeds OR 1/4 cup panko/bread crumbs

Mix all ingredients in a bowl, then form into 1.5 inch meatballs. Throw them under the broiler for 3 minutes, turn, then broil until just cooked through – 3 more minutes.

Grab some yogurt dip and dig in!


French Toast for Friday

September 12, 2014


The weekend and leisurely breakfasts approach! I think it’s about time for some French toast. When I buy a baguette or boule of sourdough, I like to make breakfast with the leftover or slightly stale portion I always seem to have.* This recipe will use up about half a loaf, sliced 1/2 inch – 1 inch thick according to your preference.

In a bowl, beat an egg. Add 1/2 cup milk, 2 tablespoons sugar, a pinch of cinnamon, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Soak the bread slices in the egg mixture until it has all been absorbed.

Next, melt a pat of butter in a frying pan over medium heat and sprinkle both sides of the French toast slices with additional sugar. When the butter is frothy, add the bread slices and cook until golden brown. Don’t let the pan get too hot or the middle of the toasts won’t have time to cook before the surfaces burn.


I drizzled this batch with a little wildflower honey, but I prefer French toast without syrup if I can have a lot of fresh fruit.

*Side note: slightly stale bread never gets thrown out around here. If it isn’t destined for French toast, I throw it into the food processor and pulse until I have homemade bread crumbs. They seem to keep pretty well in a ziploc in the freezer. Occasionally, I will cube the leftover bread and make croutons, which are great for chopped salads panzanella-style. More on that later, I hope!

Pork Chops Sous Vide

September 10, 2014

Is pork a mainstay protein for you? It’s not a meat I think to pick up. A and I tried making pork chops for the first time recently. Since they have a bad reputation for being dry, we used the sous vide technique. (We received a Sous Vide Supreme as a gift and have been using it for everything.)

To sum it up, I was surprised and pleased with the result! I think pork will be joining our menu a little more often…


The flavor here is all chop. We added no seasoning other than salt and pepper, vacuum sealed it, tossed it into a 57 degree C (135F) water oven, and left it for a couple of hours while we ran around.

When we were nearly ready to eat, I tossed some kale sprouts (new Trader Joe’s item) with olive oil and stuck them in the broiler until they started to brown, then seared the chops in a bit of butter heated until just before it started to smoke. A couple of minutes on each side is all you need – which is good because any longer would set off the smoke alarm!


For sides:
To the kale/brussels sprouts that are nicely toasty, add some caramelized onions that you have on hand in the freezer (you do, don’t you? If not, buy some onions and follow these directions so your weeknight vegetable or lunchtime sandwich can have a touch of sweet/savory whenever you’d like.) Another classic side for pork is “dirty” corn, which is creamed corn that you fry a bit in the browned butter right after you remove your pork chop from it. It is gooooooood, trust me.

Non-sad (non)desk lunches

September 8, 2014

You do not want to see what working all day in nitrile gloves has done to my nails. I’m trying to mitigate the damage, but sheesh. You might want to see what keeps me going on a work day, though – LUNCH.

I work in an area with a few places to grab a salad or sandwich, but not so many that the menus can keep me entertained 5 days a week. Bringing my lunch has been great for my wallet and my peace of mind since I can sit down and relax outside right away. But when I first started to pack lunch in my usual food storage containers, I ended up wearing salad dressing or carrying around a sauerkraut-soaked messenger bag. (Mmmmmmmm, I’m sure my coworkers loved that.) I needed something that wouldn’t leak, so I fired up Google…

Of course, I spent a long while looking at bento photos, but my level of effort will never add up to those masterpieces. After that, I did get my heart set on having a compact, spill-proof lunchbox set that could be used for the variety of foods I like to pack. Some people like to have a salad every day, and if I did I would have chosen one of the lidded bowls with a dressing container included – some even have a locked-in ice pack. But I like to pack salads AND leftover bratwurst with sauerkraut, or soup, or a sandwich with the tomatoes in a different container so they don’t make the bread soggy. I ended up choosing Laptop Lunches. They come with a set of little containers that are made of BPA-free plastic and fit neatly into a hard outer case that is small enough to carry in my smelly messenger bag. I also ordered the additional container set with a larger lidded box.


I chiefly liked this set because of the size, but it also had to fit these criteria:
-microwave safe (the container lids are not, but that’s fine with me)

That last one is the main reason I chose plastic over glass. Many of my coworkers prefer glass because they’re nervous about microwaving plastic. I don’t know whether or not that’s bad, and I expect it’ll be years before anyone knows the exact extent of the implications, but minimizing the weight of my shoulder bag felt like a top priority. Many other lunchbox or food storage kits would have worked for me, and there are so many cool-looking stainless steel, tiffin-style, or vintage options in all price ranges out there… So my advice is to spend the time to get something you’re sure you’ll enjoy using.

So far, I love the set I chose! The lids keep liquids from leaking and I am able to pack more than enough food. I knew that I would need the extra inserts for days when I haven’t had time to wash yesterday’s containers. I will be posting a few photos and recipes/ideas for lunch in case anyone out there, like me, feels that inspiration is a good way to avoid the nearby fast food line.

If I can give one last tip for you, it’s to use the last 2 minutes of your break to rinse or wash your containers (or, to throw them in the dishwasher as soon as you can. Judge the number of containers you need to have by the frequency you can run a full dishwasher.) You are much more likely to pack lunch for tomorrow if you don’t let your containers get stinky. Happy lunch!

Mushroom chicken and browned-butter-thyme squash

September 7, 2014

Hey, who says you can’t eat well away from home?

My advice? Get an apartment via AirBnB (ymmv) instead of a hotel, and when you’re there, make Browned Butter Butternut Squash, and pair it with chicken on wild rice and sauteed mushrooms.

To sauté mushrooms, I like to slice them fairly thickly. Make sure your pan is pretty hot, whether you’re using butter or oil. (I like to use olive oil with chicken, butter if I’m putting them on steak.) The hardest part is to avoid stirring too much. I find that they don’t brown very easily if they’re moved too frequently. Once they’re brown to your liking, deglaze the pan with white wine, stir in some chopped parsley maybe, and enjoy!