Sunday, July 22, 2012

Cilantro Lime Pork Chop and Roasted Cauliflower

This morning I met up with two of my favorite friends, Melanie and Nichole, and headed out to try Flying Trapeze (at Emerald City Trapeze Arts) for the first time in my entire life. It was terrifying (exhilarating?). I can't even say that I was excited until after my first attempt. Even then, I felt like my whole body had turned into one big conduit of nervous energy. Melanie and I, as newcomers, learned the Knee Hang Trick while Nichole worked on some kind of advanced flying squirrel routine - I think called the Whip, officially. Both Melanie and Nichole successfully "made the catch" with their new tricks (meaning, they performed their tricks and interacted with a professional trapeze artist to dismount from their bars). I didn't go for a catch. I don't think I did too shabby for my first time hanging upside down by my knees but I was a little hesitant and okay with just practicing the move and dismounting via backward roll.

I spent the rest of my day drinking smoothies, eating frozen yogurt and photographing a family with my boyfriend. When I finally made it home for the day I decided to cook myself a "fancy" meal instead of clean up the house. (This meal isn't really fancy and is more just kind of thrown together using anything I could find in the fridge. But I'm still not cleaning up the house.)

Food Matters Project: Raspberry-Tequila & Peach-Coconut Sorbet


I'm having a difficult time putting into words just what the Food Matters Project means to me: participating (mostly) weekly with a group of amazing food bloggers, seeing the wide variety of dishes all beginning with the same source recipe, branching out and away from my normal selection of favorite dishes and creating new favorites. All of these things combine to equal something greater than the parts. Each food matters member has a goal to, at minimum, participate in a movement. It's mostly a simple movement. Make good food! Share your enthusiasm for good food with others! But if you think about it, in today's society of Go Go Go and On Line On Line On Line, we are all managing to take one day each week to slow down and make something special and good that we then share with the people we love.

I've been thinking a lot lately about living simply. This can lead to surprisingly grandiose thoughts like: Maybe I'll buy a farm! or Live off grid! or Hike the Pacific Crest Trail! or Travel the USA with my Vintage Teardrop Trailer! I know the reality of it is that - at least for most people - life equals a 9 to 5 job, a mortgage, and a schedule largely dictated by forces outside of ourselves. I can't help but desire something that involves hard work but a carved out freedom instead. Right now, I'm content to take small and constant steps toward the future, and today that means homemade sorbet.

Sorbet strikes me as the kind of recipe where you improve your skills with each making. This might be because I've never made it before but still chose to experiment with the ingredients instead of following a recipe exactly. Neither of my recipes turned out exactly the way I expected but I still like them. I anticipate that I will continue to try out new and interesting combinations until I find some favorites. I'm especially interested in combining fruits with fresh herbs. I also wouldn't mind trying out some fizzy options (aka. sparkling drinks with a spoonful or two of sorbet). I guess we'll just see what happens!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Cherry and Chocolate Ganache with Graham Cracker Crust

photos by scott haydon

My nephew was at our house for a visit last weekend. One of my favorite things to do with my nephew is "make it your way" meals. Most recently, we prepared some noodles and set out assorted ingredients (sauces, cheeses, leeks, tomatoes, shallots, spices) and each made our own mini baked noodle casserole. Delicious! 

After running some errands, and eating a very tasty Pho lunch, we decided that we should make something with the best priced bing cherries I've seen all year. After talking about it we soon determined that a fresh (mostly non bake) cherry dessert sounded like a great idea. This led to some google searching and, with a couple of tweaks, the recipe you see here was born.

We took our tart with us to Monday Night Dinner and I'm happy to tell you that we did NOT have any leftovers. This tart was so good! The cherries mild tartness offset the intense dark chocolate-y sweetness of the ganache layer and the graham cracker crust crunch was perfect. This is a great (and easy) summer recipe. Truly, delightful.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Food Matters Project: Chicken with Corn & Black Bean Tacos

photos by scott haydon

This week the Food Matters Project dish is especially beautiful. You can meet the host, Jen, and see her recipe here. Summer has officially hit the Pacific Northwest and meals like this one are perfect for relaxing or celebrating this time of year.This meal was both brilliant and delicious and we will definitely be making it again. I stuck with the recipe, mostly, but instead of frying up tortilla strips I went with quick and easy tortilla wraps. Oh, and I added some black beans to the mix too.

adapted from the food matters cookbook

1 pound chicken breast, cut into strips
2 TBS olive oil
4 ears of corn, cut for the kernels
1 cup black beans (from a can or prepared ahead of time)
1 red onion, diced
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 jalapeno, diced
1 tsp chile powder
salt & pepper
1 tomato, chopped
1 orange, juice
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped

1 avocado, sliced

Place 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet with the stove top set to medium / medium high. Season the chicken with a bit of chile powder, salt and pepper and lay the strips in the pan. Turn the chicken over midway through cooking and then place the meat off to the side on a plate. My chicken pieces were pretty small and only took a couple of minutes per side.

Wipe out the empty skillet. Put the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in the skillet and return to the stove top. Add the corn and red onion and allow the ingredients to brown, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and add in the prepared chicken, black beans, bell pepper, jalapeno, chile powder, salt and pepper.

Allow the mixture to cool somewhat and then add tomato, avocado, and orange juice. Toss with cilantro.

Serve with tortillas and avocado slices.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Black Rice & Quinoa Salad with Sweet Potatoes

photos by scott haydon

 We just came back from spending the weekend near Mount Rainier National Park with a couple of good friends. Jacqui and I spent time scaling hillsides while the Scotts went fishing in Skate Creek. (I might be posting some trout recipes sometime this month.) The weather was beautiful and it was nice to let my body do some hard work. It feels great to fill your body with nutritious and delicious food. It also feels empowering to experience your body push through limits successfully. On our hike to the base of Eagle Peak we gained almost 3000 feet in 3 miles. It was HARD. And it reminded me that I need to always be looking for ways to be more active. I like to feel strong and capable. I also like to eat.

A couple of days before we left for Rainier, Scott and I ate this rice and quinoa salad. I'm in love with it. It was a super easy recipe and so tasty. I ate some for lunch at work the following day and even reheated it was delicious. I know that this dish will be a repeat in our house. I hope you enjoy it too.