28 September 2013

Prolonged Absence

To my (very) few readers...you may have noticed that I haven't posted anything for quite some time. It's hard to be away from my little food blog, but even harder to be away from my little kitchen. The fact is...I don't even have a kitchen anymore! We have officially started our year abroad and are currently in Mongolia. I guess I technically have a kitchen right now in our short-term apartment, but I can guarantee you that I won't be making anything too fancy in the coming weeks. We were able to get some fresh vegetables and staples to make some meals at "home" over the next two weeks, but given that we're on a tight budget, the meals will be quite simple. If there's anything to write about, I will be sure to post, but I'm not holding my breath.

Turns out it's a bit harder than I thought to write in two blogs and travel, all the while dealing with spotty wifi. So, expect to see few posts from me in the coming months on this blog. I will be making a concerted effort to do a food focus over on our travel bloger, The Journey Itself. Please follow along!

Until then...here's some love from me and my husband from the Gobi Desert!

27 May 2013


Happy Memorial Day! Since we have a day off and we're being lazy today, I decided to make a special breakfast. Chilaquiles are one of my favorite dishes for breakfast. I'm not a huge breakfast person, yet I love to put eggs on just about anything. I think I love this so much because it doesn't feel like it has to be for breakfast. My only regret is that I didn't have any beans defrosted, so I couldn't put that on that side.

I had some leftover dried chiles from another red sauce I made for a nacho night with friends. We also had some chips leftover from our Vinyl Party a couple weekends ago, so it wasn't a hard decision to make. I normally either fry my own chips up or, if I'm feeling somewhat healthy, will coat the cut-up tortillas lightly in oil and bake them until nice and crisp. This just made it that much easier.

While the recipe calls for feta or queso fresco, I tend to prefer the simple flavor of grated parmesan on this dish. Ok, actually I used parmesan since I had to buy it for the pizza I'm making tonight anyway, so it was a better choice for our budget. Works out both ways.

No better way to start a lazy holiday than a good breakfast and some Twin Peaks.

Adapted from Bon Appetit

Red chile sauce:
7 dried guajillo or New Mexico chiles, stems and seeds discarded
1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes, drained
1 medium white onion, chopped (1 1/2 cups)
5 garlic cloves, chopped
1 jalapeño, seeds and ribs removed, chopped
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons honey
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Vegetable oil 9 6" corn tortillas, cut into 1.5" pieces, or 36 large tortilla chips 
8 large eggs
Grated parmesan cheese or crumbled queso fresco
Finely chopped white onion
Thinly sliced radishes
Chopped fresh cilantro
Lime wedges

For red chile sauce: Place chiles in a medium bowl; cover with 2 cups boiling water and cover. Let chiles soak until softened, about 15 minutes. Drain, reserving soaking liquid. Place chiles in a blender. Add tomatoes, onion, garlic, jalapeño, and 1 cup reserved soaking liquid; purée until smooth.

For chips: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place tortilla pieces into a bowl and pour about 1-2 Tbsp of oil and toss until all pieces are coated. Spread tortilla into even layer on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until crisp, about 10-15 minutes. Remove from oven until ready to use.

Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add purée (it will splatter) and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, partially covered and stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 15 minutes (add more reserved soaking liquid if too thick). Stir in honey and season to taste with salt and pepper. Once sauce has reduced, coat chips in just enough sauce so they start to absorb and get soft.

Meanwhile, pour oil into a nonstick skillet to lightly coat. Heat over medium-high heat. Add eggs and fry for about 30 seconds until whites are starting to set, cover with lid and allow to fry for an additional 2 minutes until whites are set, but yolks are still runny.

Top chilaquiles with chopped onion, radishes, cilantro, and lime wedges. Top with fried eggs and serve with remaining sauce alongside.

*This recipe says it serves 4, but I don't put a ton of sauce on the chips (just enough to coat), so save half for another time. It freezes beautifully. 

22 May 2013

How to Make Sushi

Last weekend we threw a party. An 80s themed party. It was our last house party before we leave, so we wanted to go big, but I also didn't want to spend too much money on food. I was thinking of 80s-esque food and instantly thought of sushi (we had just watched Valley Girl). I needed to do something cheap that could sit out for awhile without being chilled, so I went with cucumber rolls and vegetable rolls with cucumber, avocado and carrots.

I went online to find instructions on how to make sushi and was surprised to not see a lot of very good recipes. In the end, I followed the instructions on the back of my Niko Niko Calrose rice bag for sushi rice and loosely followed the instructions on this vegetable sushi recipe on Epicurious. Luckily, my sister and her husband have made sushi a few times, so they were able to loan me their bamboo mats for rolling and the fan for cooling down the rice. Cooling down the rice is an important step as warm rice will create steam, which causes the seaweed to tear when you're rolling it.

And a little note on the seaweed. When I went to Uwajimaya to purchase it, there were a LOT of choices with prices ranging from $1.99 to $12. For seaweed. I chose to grab one that was on sale for just under $3. It worked. Don't lose sleep over this decision.

Mom helped me cut the vegetables into thin strips. I got a little crazy (not really) and threw in some cilantro leftover from her homemade salsa, just to see if the flavor would work well. It did. It gave a little extra freshness to the vegetable rolls.

This process was actually a lot of fun and I'm looking forward to doing it again. It is a bit fussy with all the steps, but I'm a baker at heart, so fussy is in my nature. 

Sushi Rice
3 cups short grain rice, such as Niko Niko Calrose rice, washed very thoroughly
3 1/4 cup water

Seasoning for rice
5 Tbsp rice vinegar (unseasoned)
2 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp salt

Vegetables, etc.
Nori (seaweed) sheets
English cucumber (I chose not to peel mine)
Small bowl with a half and half mixture of vinegar and water

Bring water and rice to a boil, turn to low, then cover and let cook for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, combine ingredients for seasoning in a small bowl until sugar has dissolved.

Cut vegetables into long, thin strips (they should be long enough to run the length of the seaweed sheets, with the exception of the avocado, clearly).

Once rice has finished cooking, transfer to a large bowl and add seasoning. Mix carefully until combined. Fan the rice until completely cooled.

Once rice is cool, cover the bowl with a clean, damp kitchen towel until ready to use. Place a bamboo sushi mat on a work surface with the bamboo strips facing you horizontally. Place the nori sheet horizontally, shiny side down, on the mat, aligned with the edge nearest you. Dip your hands into the vinegar-water mixture and spread the cooled rice in an even layer over the nori sheet, leaving the top one-fourth of the nori uncovered. Arrange the cucumber and carrot sticks and the avocado slices in a horizontal strip across the bottom portion of the rice (not too close to the edge or it'll start to slip).

Starting at the edge closest to you, lift the mat, nori, and rice over the filling to seal it inside, then roll up the sushi into a tight cylinder, being careful not to tear the nori. Use your finger to lightly moisten the outer edge of the nori with the vinegar-water mixture to seal the roll. Dipping a sharp knife in water before each cut, cut the roll in half crosswise, and then cut each half crosswise into 3-4 equal pieces.

23 April 2013

Thai Curry with Sweet Potatoes and Tofu

Since we're in the final months of saving (and employment), we've been trying to eat at home more frequently, which unfortunately means Friday night, too. In a past life, Friday would be our date night or just a night I didn't have to cook. But considering we dropped $40+ on date night to a sandwich place a few weeks back, that can't happen too often. 

It's still the weekend though and as much as I'd like to just throw some leftovers in the microwave and be done with it, I still want to celebrate a bit with a nice dinner. I just don't want to spend all evening preparing it. Enter the skillet meals....

06 April 2013

Easter Rising

It only seems fitting that I start this blog back up again at Easter.

My family came down this weekend for Easter. I love my family. I love holidays. However, I do not love trying to figure out what to make for holidays. My sister doesn't like things that rhyme with "am" (ham, lamb, salmon...). My husband doesn't really like turkey much, but he'll tolerate it once a year. When my brother was still around, we usually were able to swing at least one ham holiday and make our sister pick up a chicken breast. Not that I don't get it anymore, but it's really hard to justify a ham more than once a year. Chicken is usually a little boring for a holiday, so that leaves us with pork (which I'm beginning to like now that I can cook it properly) or beef. Oddly enough, we rarely end up with beef and instead at least one of us suffers through a main dish for a holiday.

30 December 2012

Christmas Dinner & a Farewell (for now)

This past Christmas was a strange one. We got to see lots of family, including my sweet little grandma, who I adore. We had some great food and reintroduced an old family tradition of doing cold cuts and deli salads for Christmas Eve. It was all very hard without my brother around, though.

Christmas day, my sister and her husband came over between their family gatherings with his family, who also lives in Seattle. The rest of the day, Shawn, mom, and I sat around in our pajamas watching TV and eating. We had delicious leftover sandwiches and munched on See's Candy. We planned a fancy dinner and ate it at 7:30pm. Basically, we did whatever the hell we wanted to. It was as good as it was going to get. I managed to take a few pictures of our feast before we devoured it.

26 November 2012

Thanksgiving Recap

Just a few shots of some of my Thanksgiving day treats! I didn't take any pictures, I was too busy cooking for 14(!). Luckily my mom took a few. Thanks mom!

Appetizer: Spanish tortilla with aioli