Sunday, October 18, 2009

Preparing for the Fall

I mentioned in an earlier post that I have been doing a lot of cooking the past few weeks while enjoying my "summer break". Now that I am going back to work I know I'll have less time to plan and cook dinner. My solution was to make some great hearty meals that I can freeze and then thaw out to heat up on a busy night. I highly recommend each of the following recipes. I've provided links and a quick review of each recipe. If you too are also interested in freezing some meals for a cold fall/winter night, make sure to invest in some Kerr jars. You can buy them at your local grocery store. Here's a rundown of what's currently filling up my freezer.

Black-Eyed Pea Soup with Ham Hocks and Creme Fraiche
Bam! This is a great recipe from Emeril. After cooking the soup you will discard the fat and skin from the ham hocks leaving behind only a little bit of meat. If you enjoy your ham like I do either add in additional ham hocks from the beginning or just buy some ham to add in. I especially love the use of the Creme Fraiche in this recipe which is basically a sweeter sour cream. I like to mix a couple dollops of Creme Fraiche with homemade strawberry or raspberry jam to add to fruit salad making the fruit sweet and creamy.

The Lady's Chicken Noodle Soup
This is a Paula Dean recipe. Making a real chicken stock like this recipe suggests takes some time so make sure to plan ahead. Also when heating up this soup as leftovers some of the broth will be soaked up by the noodles and vegetables, so just have an extra can of chicken broth handy to add to the soup with additional salt and pepper and other seasonings before you heat it up or it when heated up it will turn out more like a stew.

I also have some chili and beef curry in the freezer, but will have to post recipes for those another time.

Hope you give these two recipes a try!


Healthy Hearty Scramble

The last three months off has given me a great opportunity to learn how to make a few new things in the kitchen. Specifically I have been working on expanding my breakfast recipes. When working, I usually only have time for a piece of toast or half a grapefruit before running out the door, but during my break I had the luxury of having all morning to cook.

Recently I've been putting together healthy egg scrambles. Scrambles are great because they taste great, are easy to make, fill me up, and are very healthy (depending on the ingredients you use). Here's an example of a scramble I've been making the past few weeks. Use it as a guide to create your own future breakfast scramble.

Step1: Prep your ingredients

I like to add in a variety of colorful ingredients into my scrambles, the more colors the better. Make sure to rinse everything clean and then give them a rough chop, then saute in olive oil.

Avocado, homegrown pineapple heirloom tomatoes, crimini mushrooms, spinach, and a couple slices of fresh mozzarella. The spinach really shrinks and cooks down after you add it in, so make sure to use a good sized handful.

Step 2: Brown the meat

I feel a dish isn't a complete unless it has some protein in it and my protein of choice is meat. For a healthier option I like to use chicken Italian sausage which you can buy in bulk from Central Market. Usually all you need is 1/4 of a pound or less of the chicken sausage for each scramble. If you buy it in bulk then the ground chicken doesn't come in wrappers so all you have to do is brown it over medium heat. The ground chicken sausage is lower in fat than the pork sausage with all the same great flavor.

Step 3: Cook the eggs

I usually heat the pan over medium heat with olive oil before adding in 3 eggs. I let them cook a little before breaking the yolks to scramble them. I usually mix the eggs up just a few times to make sure they get cooked through, but don't cook them too long or they will get watery.

Step 4: Mix everything back together

Once the vegetables are done, add in two slices of fresh mozzarella that have been sliced into thin strips. The mozzarella will melt into the other ingredients, then add in the chicken sausage. Optional: add a little kosher salt and pepper or Hawaiian sea salt to the eggs before mixing everything in. Try to separate out some of the liquid that came from the vegetables and serve. I like to eat my scrambles with a piece of whole grain toast to sop up the flavor and to complete the meal with some carbs! You shouldn't need to add too much salt or pepper to anything because the chicken Italian sausage and the fresh mozzarella should add enough flavor to the dish.

Other options to spice up your scrambles are: make some instant pesto to mix in with the eggs or salsa and Mexican cheese. You really can't go wrong with this easy, delicious way to get a healthy start to your day.


Saturday, October 17, 2009


After a couple more months and a little more stress than originally planned for, Kyle got an offer and accepted an Account Executive position at Wunderman, a marketing agency that is based out of London--Kyle will be working out of the Seattle office. I am so proud of him and we learned some valuable lessons from the last year: be sure to have a good amount of savings to get you through rough patches, the support of family and friends is invaluable, and the most important thing above all the material things, and yes, even food, is happiness. We are so blessed to have good health, wonderful people in our lives and two loud and amazing puggles that make life happy for us.

We are celebrating with a one day family trip to Ocean Shores with the Suzuki/Nakagawara clan to go razor clam digging and watch the husky game.

Bringing it back to food...of course that will be a part of the celebration! We will have a feast tonight, and will be sure to blog about it and post some recipes, including a warm and gooey mac and cheese recipe I am trying for the first time.

Congratulations to my amazing husband and thank you to everyone who helped us get to this point!

Happy Eating,

Monday, October 12, 2009

Brunchin' at Lola

Kyle and I have a new favorite after-wedding brunch spot: Lola. It is a Tom Douglas restaurant located at the bottom of Hotel Andra and a very popular spot, so if you plan on going, make sure to be prepared to wait and try to get reservations if going with a large group.

We are calling this our new tradition, because we have fond memories of our group rolling out of bed to meet up for brunch after both Carmen and now Becca's wedding. The food is filling and so tasty that even an after-wedding-belly will be excited to bring on this food.

Here you will see two photos of our favorite dishes: the Lola version of bagel and lox and the ever-popular eggs Benedict. When Kyle went to cut into the eggs Benedict, the egg literally burst, indicating a perfectly cooked egg--something very tough to accomplish!

We highly recommend this spot and the hotel is also a fun find if you are looking to stay in Seattle and don't want the corporate, boring style of your average Hilton or Marriott.
Congratulations to Becca and Lowell on your marriage last week and thank you for giving us an excuse to get our favorite brunch! Also, thanks to Jamie and Carmen for staying later in the morning to grab breakfast! Miss you guys.
Happy Eating!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Amy & Aaron and BBQ Love

On Saturday (10/10) one of my best friends, Amy Dang, got engaged to her boyfriend, Aaron Turner. Now, of course I am excited about their engagement and send them my love and congratulations--but the real purpose of this blog post is to talk about the amazing BBQ feast we gorged ourselves on at the surprise engagement party that Aaron planned secretly with his and Amy's family.

We got to experience the Turner Family BBQ--a southern style BBQ, with a tangy sauce and a little kick of heat that you get after each bite. According to the family, part of the secret (I am entrusting you all with this secret, too--aren't you happy you read this blog?!?) is a homemade dry chili powder blend rub. They keep a bottle of this hot goodness in a cupboard, and add to it whenever they come across an interesting new spice or chili powder. Some examples of these spices that Daddy Turner told me are sweet Mexican oregano and toasted chili peppers from a special grocer in White Center.

Aaron's brother started by rubbing the pork with this dry rub the day before the party, and let it sit overnight so the flavor really sunk in. Then, the day of the party began at 7:30 AM where he started up their family's smoker and began the long process of slow cooking and smoking the meat.

What came from all this hard work and love, was simply an amazing, mouth watering meal that we smothered in crispy, refreshing coleslaw and tucked away in a soft white bun. What a great way to celebrate love!

Amy's mom also made 100 fried spring rolls, which were also an absolute delight! Thanks to Aaron, his family, and Amy's family, for the great food and for inviting us to be a part of this very special evening.

Congratulations Amy and Aaron! May there be many more wedding events full of good food and happy memories!


Thursday, October 8, 2009

Recap of the 2009 Puyallup Fair

I apologize for not getting this up earlier, but as promised here is a recap of our 2009 Puyallup Fair food eating extravaganza! This year Pert bailed on us, so unfortunately we couldn’t eat as much as we usually do. We’re taking applications for anyone who wants to replace Pert. The only criteria is that you come to the Fair hungry. Anyhow here’s a recap of the festivities:

First meal: fleischkuechle aka a deep fried meat turnover. The greasy, salty, flaky meat pocket was a great way to start off the day.

Emi’s close up shot of that greasy deliciousness

My Myer’s Walla Walla Sweet Onion Cheeseburger. This is a historic photo because it will probably be my last of these burgers. With how easy it is to get Walla Walla sweet onions and the fact that I eat them throughout the summer a $6 cheeseburger with onions is just not worth the space it takes up in my stomach. I gotta prioritize. Also note the Marines waterbottle I won for doing pull-ups. It was my pre-meal calorie burner to help me fit more in my stomach, but it didn't really help much.

Emi’s sweet and juicy corn on the cob

Delicious Darigold chocolate milk as a mid-Fair refreshment. Tasted like rich, sweet melted chocolate soft serve, I had about 5 samples.

Candid of Emi who broke from the plan and bought a corn dog! You can get a corn dog anywhere and yes she regretted eating it. The curly fries were great, but they became a soggy mess while we waited in line for that corn dog.

Boom, this is where we started to slow down

mmm, mmm good... Young Life BBQ Beef Brisket burger, was delicious. Not the same though without Pert there to enjoy one with me. After eating this I had no room left in my stomach.

We ended the day with a baker’s dozen of Fisher Fair Scones to take home to enjoy while we watched UW get beat by Stanford, boo. In general it was a fun trip, but also a reality check that I can't eat like I used to. This year we didn’t even have room for the turkey leg or the elephant year! Well there’s always next year.


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Experimenting with the Tomatillo

Ever since moving up to Richmond Beach we’ve been fortunate to live so close to Central Market which is my new favorite place to go grocery shopping. Central Market has helped expand both Emi and my culinary expertise and has provided us with many delicious and affordable meals over the past few years. For those of you not familiar with Central Market it’s basically an affordable Metropolitan Market or Whole Foods. It has everything I’m looking for in a specialty grocer without the high cost. Emi loves checking out their impressive cheese section before we have people over for parties. The people working there are always very helpful and have given us some great recommendations. I also love Central Market’s homemade, fresh tortillas, amazing frozen pizza dough, and their produce.

In their produce section they always have a great variety of quality fresh fruits and vegetables. I’ve been trying to branch out and try new fruits and vegetables. Recently I stumbled upon the tomatillo. Many of us have had tomatillo salsa at Mexican restaurants, but probably few of us have actually tried cooking with the tomatillo. It’s a pretty cool fruit that looks like a green tomato. There is a difference in flavor and the tomatillo is surrounded by a paper-like husk.

Tomatillos at Central Market

Unhusked and husked tomatillos

I recently made a Bobby Flay recipe from Boy Meets Grill: Shredded Chicken and Tomatillo Tacos with Queso Fresco, that I wanted to share with everyone.

It was really fun and easy to make and I was happy because I was able to utilize my grill.

What you’ll need:
  • 6 tomatillos, husked, washed, and grilled until blackened
  • 1 serrano chili, grilled until blackened
  • Olive oil
  • ½ small red onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1 C chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 2 T honey
  • 1 ½ C shredded rotisserie chicken (I prefer to use only the skinless breast meat)
  • 8 blue corn tortillas (I used freshly made whole grain tortillas from Central Market)
  • 1 C crumbled queso fresco

  • Preheat the grill to medium. Blacken the tomatillos and Serrano on the grill. Add the blackened tomatillos and Serrano to a small sauté pan and briefly sauté in a little olive oil on the grates of the grill.
  • Place the tomatillos, Serrano, onion, garlic, cilantro, lime juice, and honey in a blender and blend until smooth. Place the tomatillo mixture in a large sauté pan and place on the grates of the grill. Bring the mixture to a simmer, add the chicken, and heat through.
  • Place the tortillas on the grill, and grill for 20 seconds on each side. Spoon the chicken mixture into the tortillas and top with a few tablespoons of queso fresco. Fold the tortillas in half serve immediately.

Grilling the tomatillos and serrano on the grill

The completed shredded chicken and tomatillo sauce

Our guinea pig Pert eating the Shredded Chicken and Tomatillo Tacos with Queso Fresco and Emi’s homemade pico de gallo

This meal is really easy to make and I like how the recipe utilizes the grill for both blackening the tomatillos, but also for heating the rest of the mixture. The tomatillo sauce came out great and was tart, yet sweet with a great spicy after taste. The queso fresco was my favorite part of the meal. This awesome cheese will definitely be going on every taco I make from now on.


Monday, October 5, 2009

My favorite summertime pastime: BBQ'ing

The great weather we’ve had all summer has inspired me to barbecue more often. I love to barbecue and especially with charcoal. Propane is quick, efficient, and easy, but it's not as fun as barbecuing with charcoal.

This summer I bought the Weber Performer Grill to replace our old gas grill that died on us. Also this grill is on sale right now at Crate and Barrel.

If you’re looking for a new barbecue I highly recommend this one. I know two other people who own the same one and both love it. They also sell it in black at both Home Depot and Fred Meyer.

I love to barbecue with charcoal because of the flavor it gives the food and also because it makes cooking more fun. With charcoal you regulate the heat by opening or closing the vents to let in more oxygen to either heat up the BBQ or cool it down. Also there are a lot of fun little tricks you can try out with a charcoal grill that would be more difficult with a gas grill.

The drawbacks to cooking with charcoal are that it takes longer to start up, it’s messier, and regulating the heat can be difficult (but easy once you’ve done it a few times). What I love about my grill is that it has a propane starter so you don’t need any lighter fluid; which ruins the flavor of your food anyway.

Throw the briquettes into the baskets and light up the propane flame with a push of a button. When the briquettes are lit up and hot turn off the propane, empty the baskets and get to cooking.

I’ve tried out a lot of new recipes this summer using this barbecue and will be posting up some of my favorite recipes in the coming weeks.

- Kyle