Tag Archives: Recipes

Orange Spice Banana Bread

Orange spice banana bread.  It’s like regular banana bread, but sexier.  The kind of sexy that wears an old wool sweater and glasses.  The nerdy kind.

Despite all this, it’s also delicious.

My internet is also still quite unreliable, so this’ll be a short one.

Orange Spice Banana Bread

  • 2 ridiculously ripe bananas
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 T canola oil
  • 1/2 C plain or vanilla fat-free yogurt (keep in mind that vanilla yogurt will be sweeter, and adjust accordingly!  I used vanilla.)
  • 1/4 C skim milk
  • 1/2 C brown sugar
  • 1 T orange zest
  • 1 t orange extract (optional)
  • 3 T ground flaxseed
  • 1 1/2 C all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 C almond flour (or use two cups total all-purpose flour)
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1 t each cinnamon and nutmeg

Like most quick breads, this recipe couldn’t be easier.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, mix the wet ingredients, add the dry, and pour into a greased/parchment papered loaf pan.

Here, I decided to top the loaf with whole walnuts.  That’s up to you, though I must say it made a really nice crunchy top crust.

Bake on the middle rack until an inserted skewer comes out with a few crumbs clinging to it, about an hour.

Yum!  I’m by no means an expert at creating breads, but this one came out perfectly–dense and moist like any banana bread, but still light enough to eat two slices at once (or three, if you are Fritz).

The orange flavor is pretty subtle, and you could ramp it up a bit with more orange zest (or sub OJ for the skim milk?  More sugar there, though).

Perfect with a pat o’ butter, and I know exactly what my breakfast will consist of early tomorrow morning.

 

Actually, I’m not really sure.  Steel-cut oats have been calling my name for a couple of days, too.  But if I have those for breakfast, than a slice of this bread will definitely be a part of second breakfast (movie/book, anyone?). 

Tomorrow morning Fritz and I are heading to go to one of my top fall destinations, Westchester County (in NY), to go apple picking/pumpkin picking/hay riding/hot apple cider drinking/apple cider donut eating with some friends–and I can’t wait!  I’m confident I will return with at least a thousand photos (just kidding! Maybe…), and that the 67 degree weather tomorrow calls for boots.

Hallelujah.

Henry’s plans for tomorrow largly consist of this:

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Filed under Breads

Comfort Food: Apple Crisp Edition

Apple crisp isn’t going to change your life.  I can promise you that.

But what it might do is make you feel like everything is all right with your world; that your insides are warm and fuzzy and nothing bad can happen.  And that nothing makes you feel better than ice cream melting into cinnamon and nutmeg with warm apples and crunchy-buttery oats and nuts.

Apple crisp is a comfort food, my friends.  At least in my house it is.  My mom always makes at least one apple crisp every fall, and when I was a freshman at college she drove six hours to visit with a pan of still-warm apple crisp to help me move in the right way.

And that is comforting.

Apple Crisp (makes enough to serve a large crowd, or have lots of leftovers to be warmed up later)

for the filling:

  • 10-12 mixed varieties of apples (Empire, Pink Lady, Granny Smith, Braeburn…), peeled, cored, and cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 C sugar
  • 2 T lemon or lime juice
  • 1 t cinnamon

for the topping:

  • 1 C whole-wheat flour (I was out, so I used all-purpose)
  • 3/4 C almond meal
  • 1 C brown sugar
  • 1 C whole walnuts
  • 1 C old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 C butter (1 stick, chilled)
  • 2 T maple syrup
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • freshly grated nutmeg (about 1/2 t)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  The first big step is to peel, core, and chop the apples–and this step is much easier when you have one of those nifty apple corer and slicer things.  I do, thank goodness.  Mix in the sugar, spices, and lemon or lime.  Pour the apple mixture into a large dish–mine is 10′ x 15′.  The apples should come right up to the top (but don’t worry, they’ll cook down later).  Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the ingredients for the topping.  Cut the butter (it’s better if it is a bit chilled) into small pieces into the bowl.  Use your hands for the easiest mixing, blending the flours into the butter until it is the texture of sandy pebbles…if that makes any sense. 

Crumble the mixture over the top of the apples, and dust with freshly grated nutmeg.  Bake on the middle rack until the apples are soft and bubbly and the top is golden brown, about an hour.

Please, please, oh please, serve with ice cream.  Warm.

And when you reheat this, do it in the oven and not the microwave.  Your mother will thank you.  And so will your belly.

One of the best parts of this is the big walnuts–and that’s coming from someone who’s not a big fan of nuts inside desserts.

And if you’ve had a hard day at school, or a long day at work, or a fight with your hubs, or you are feeling down for any reason, really…this is your dessert.

Enjoy!

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Filed under Desserts

Cilantro-Lime Brown Rice

It’s almost unbelievable that it’s been ten years already since that day when, in the midst of my ninth grade ignorance, I found myself watching live footage of a terrorist attack on the World Trade Center with my fellow classmates.  I don’t remember much except being shocked and a little detached–I don’t think I was old enough to really understand the significance of what happened.

Well, ten years later, we’re still here–and I understand a lot more about what happened that day.  I watched an incredibly powerful video in church today documenting the men and woman who, through either circumstance or choice, gave their lives in that tragic and terrible event.  And even just by writing about this on my blog, I’m reminding myself that though ten years can encompass new pets, a couple of boyfriends and a husband, a high school diploma and a degree and a half, several moves across the state, purchasing two cars, and the promise of a brand new niece or nephew, I won’t forget.

September 11th also marks another anniversary–the one year anniversary of my blog!  If you want to see how far I’ve come–here’s the first post I ever wrote (and what an ambitious one it was, making apple pie): A Brand New Beginning.

A couple of people gave me suggestions for what to make with cilantro, and I decided to go with my sister, Erin’s idea, for cilantro and lime rice.  She sent me this recipe, which I used as inspiration for this fresh and yummy side dish.

Cilantro-Lime Brown Rice

  • 1 T canola oil
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 1 C uncooked brown rice
  • 2 C hot water
  • 1/4-1/2 C cilantro (I measured the amount before I diced it), finely chopped
  • zest of one lime
  • juice of half a lime (but adjust as you like it–this was about 2-3 T)
  • salt to taste

I decided to make this in a fried-rice style because I love the nutty taste it gives to brown rice.  Start by browning the shallot over medium heat, then toss the dried rice into the oil as well.  Let the rice fry with the shallots for a few minutes until it starts to smell toasty. 

Pour the two cups of hot water over the rice, cover, and reduce the heat to medium low.  Cook for about 25 minutes, or until the rice is tender, stirring occasionally.  Stir in the lime zest, juice, and cilantro, and season with salt to taste.

I actually loved this rice–very simple flavors, but bright and fresh with the lime and cilantro.  It would be so good with tacos.  So good.

Erin–good call!

I think that for lunch tomorrow I’m going to throw some chickpeas in there to make it a heartier meal and have it as a main dish.  Since Fritz hates cilantro, I’m going to be able to try this rice in a couple different ways.

It’s also quite simple and quick to make, which is always a bonus.

For the remaining cilantro, which was looking a bit wilty, I chopped it up and froze it (see here for a tutorial).  I’m planning on using it in a Thai pork kind of meal (also an inspiration from another blog reader!).

And aren’t these baby red potatoes a beauty?  I cooked ’em as salt potatoes tonight with fantastic results–they were creamy bite size potato packages.

I want to leave you with a question tonight–what is your most powerful memory of 9/11?

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Filed under Side Dishes

Quick Norwegian Flatbread (and How to Make it Lunch)

You know when you wake up from a nap, and it feels so good to stretch out?

Henry knows all about that.  I call this The Morning Dance of the Cat:

It took me a little while to wake up this morning, too, but once I got my butt in gear, had a piece of peanut butter and banana toast, and drank my tea, I headed off to the gym.  Try not to be too impressed, but I ran 2.6 miles–quite an accomplishment for a real running-hater like myself.

Though I have to clarify–I hate the actual running, but it feels so good after. That’s why I keep doing it.

Anyway, once I got home, I had some lunchtime inspiration from my CSA box (no picture this week, sorry!) and the giant tub of hummus (best batch yet) that I made yesterday.  Sungold cherry tomatoes + hummus + herbs from the garden + flatbread = lunch.

Quick Norwegian Flatbread (from Bernard Clayton’s New Complete Book of Breads)

  • 1 1/2 C rye flour
  • 1 1/2 C whole-wheat flour
  • 1 T brown sugar
  • 2 t baking powder
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1/4 C butter, melted
  • 1 C buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  While you are getting the ingredients ready, I’ll give you two short cuts that I used today.  One, to bring an egg rapidly to room temperature, let it sit in a cup of hot water for a minute.  Two, if you don’t have buttermilk, just combine some milk and a little lemon juice for a quick fix.

Combine the egg and buttermilk in the mixer.  Add the melted butter and mix again to combine.  In a separate bowl, combine the remaining dry ingredients and pour them into the liquid, mixing until a dough forms.  Knead with the dough hook for a few minutes until smooth, adding pinches of flour if necessary to make the dough pull away from the bowl.

Divide the dough into two pieces on a floured countertop, and roll out with a rolling pin until about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick.  Traditionally, this is rolled into a circle, but I went with a more rectangular shape just ’cause it’s easier.  Transfer on a greased baking sheet and bake in the oven on the medium rack until browned on the bottom and lightly golden on top, about 15-2o minutes.

This was so delicious as is.  If you want to toss together a quick bread for dipping in soups, eating with hummus, or with jam and butter, this is a great choice.  So soft and the subtle rye taste is irresistible.

But I needed lunch.  I set one flatbread aside (in a ziplock bag), and got to work on the other.

I spread a nice layer of hummus over the top of the remaining flatbread, then sprinkled it with some lemon thyme from my herb garden.  I sliced a handful of cherry tomatoes, placing them cut-side up on top of the hummus, and sprinkled the whole thing with a bit of salt and pepper.  Just a few minutes under the broiler and voila!  Lunch is served.

Next time I’d spread the hummus all the way to the edges to keep them from browning too rapidly…and because hummus is just delicious.

These tomatoes from my CSA box are also super sweet–I can’t resist eating them whole, which is quite unusual for me, since I was never a big tomato fan.

In fact, as a child I threw up when my parents made me eat one, and they stopped making me try after that.  My feelings for raw tomatoes are definitely improving this year–but they are even better cooked.  On flatbread.  With hummus.

What else came in our CSA box this week?  Well, the size of the box is a little small this week, thanks to Miss Irene, but we still got some good stuff:

  • 2 acorn squashes (yes!!!!)
  • 1 pint of Sungold cherry tomatoes (that you’ve seen here today)
  • Red beets and their greens
  • Baby leeks
  • Bunch of cilantro
  • Several big red tomatoes
  • 1 bag of green beans

Though it was a slightly smaller box, it was full of all of my favorite veggies, so I’m pretty excited to have our kitchen restocked.  I’m still trying to plan something to do with the cilantro (Fritz is not a fan), but most of it will likely have to be frozen.

Have a good weekend!

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Filed under Breads

Lemon Poppy Seed Oatmeal Cookies

Hello, friends!

I finally made time to bake, even though for a while it looked like it may not happen.  I dragged my achy and sore body to the gym this morning, got energized, then donated blood and painted faces at our church’s yard sale.

Turns out I’m not the best face painter.  Just not that artistic in the world of painting–I pity the children who are wearing crowns and Elmos that I painted on them.  I did, however, manage to break out my favorite thing to draw/paint.  Those of you who know me well know that I’ve been tattooing this heart around the world for years.  It’s the one work of art I’ve truly mastered.

Impressive, huh?  Unfortunately, it wasn’t highly demanded among the 3-8 year olds who visited today.  I’d actually say it ranked somewhere below the six-legged spider and the pink football.

By the time we got home from face painting, I collapsed diagonally on the bed, feet hanging off and face smashed into the blankets in a dramatic display of exhaustion.  And then I fell asleep.  For two hours.  And awoke with a deeply imprinted blanket design on my entire face.

Luckily, there was still time to make cookies!

The taste of these cookies is fantastic, but I sleepily adapted them from a vegan website and realized halfway through scooping them onto the cookie sheet that there was no way they would hold together, which turned out to be true.  If I made them again, I’d definitely do some recipe tweaking to add a bit of flour and definitely an egg.  Any recipe magicians out there want to give it a try, let me know how it turns out!

Lemon Poppy Seed Oatmeal Cookies (original recipe here and printable card here: Lemon Poppy Seed Oatmeal Cookies)

  • 1 banana, mashed
  • 1/4 C lemon juice and the zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 C old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 C sugar
  • 1/4 C poppy seeds
  • 1/4 C butter, softened
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1/2 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t baking soda

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  I creamed the butter and sugar together quickly with the vanilla, lemon juice and zest.

Next, I added the banana, poppy seeds, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.  Mix until just combined, then add in the oats.  I also tossed in a T or so of ground flax seed at the last minute.

Don’t over mix!  Scoop spoonfuls onto greased baking sheets (I did 1 T-sized scoops) and bake until browned, about 15 minutes. 

Let them cool on the sheets before removing, because they will definitely fall apart otherwise, and then you’ll be forced to eat all the crumbled up bits.

Like I said, the flavor of these cookies is unbelievable, and the texture with the oats and the poppy seeds is also great–just the actual cookie stability needs a bit of work.  But the taste!  Definitely worth posting, and trying.

Fritz was also a huge fan (but when isn’t he, really?).  He just at three more for a post-dinner snack.

 Here’s a few more pictures from the yard sale for you to enjoy:

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Filed under Desserts

Fennel Gratin

Things are a bit lazy around these parts:

We had a nice long gym session this morning (I did what felt like at least 3,326,359,644 split squats–my quads have never burned so much in my life), ran a bunch of errands, and come home just in time for lunch.  I was leafing through some cookbooks yesterday and found something that looked really promising–fennel gratin.

After hearing a lot about fennel, I bought a giant bulb a few months ago and tried grilling it–and I wasn’t a huge fan.  Just that weird licorice taste I don’t like that much.  Needless to say, when I received three little bulbs in my CSA box this week, I got a little nervous.  So what’s a girl to do with a vegetable she’s not too sure about?

Cover it in cheese.

Fennel Gratin (from Allison Fishman’s You Can Trust A Skinny Cook–serves 4)

  • 2 medium or 3 small bulbs fennel, cut into thin wedges (I also used the stalks, sliced into small circles)
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1/2 t fresh thyme leaves
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/3 C shredded Gruyère cheese
  • 1-2 T grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Wash the fennel and slice it into wedges by cutting the bulbs in half lengthwise, then into wedges from there.  I also sliced the stalks at this point.  Place into a baking dish (I used a 9″ pie pan) and toss with the olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Cover with foil and place into the oven until the fennel is softened, about 15-20 minutes.  Remove the foil and roast for another 15 minutes, until the edges begin to brown.

Remove the dish from the oven and preheat the broiler.  Sprinkle the top with cheese and return to the oven until the cheese is bubbling and golden, about 3-5 minutes.

Oh gosh, this smelled so good.  The scary fennel taste went from straight-up black licorice (ew) to a slightly oniony, sweet and nutty flavor.

I was so wrong about fennel.  Fritz and I ate this entire dish for lunch (it’s okay–only 110 calories per serving, ya know), and I could have gone for more.  This is the perfect side dish for any fancy dinner (hello, Thanksgiving!).

The best part was obviously the cheese, but I am pleasantly surprised to be able to tell you that I have been converted over to fennelism.  You should try it!

Fritz also managed to capture this handsome guy perched out on our deck.  We have a nice blue jay couple that hangs out in our backyard, accompanied by the duck couple that frequents our pond.  Guess the animals can just tell that love is in the air around here.

And on another exciting note, by popular request, I’m trying out a new feature: printable recipe cards.  I’m putting it here for now, but in the future they’ll be located by the recipe title.  Let me know if they work, and what you’d like to see changed about them!

 Fennel Gratin Printable Recipe Card

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Filed under Side Dishes

Hot and Spicy Nachos with a Cool Cilantro Sauce

As my test anxiety was building this week, I developed a very intense need for nachos.

A need for nachos.  Not just your average, “oh, I want nachos”, but a need for nachos.  You can’t ignore those kind of things.  When your body tells you that chips, beans, cheese, and chili powder must be in your belly in 15 minutes or you might die, you listen.

Just like when my body tells me I need to watch Christmas movies even though it’s the middle of June.  I listen and I listen well–and I’m currently watching The Family Stone.  (Please don’t judge me–times of high stress make me do weird things).

But back to the nachos.  I wanted to use up some more of my cilantro, so I decided to spice up my nachos and then cool it back down with a yogurt sauce.  Sound good?

And if you don’t like yogurt sauce, or if the smell/taste/look of cilantro makes you die a little bit inside (hi Fritz!), then you can just skip it.  Fritz enjoyed the nachos quite nicely without it.

Hot and Spicy Nachos with a Cool Cilantro Sauce

  • 8 small corn tortillas, sliced into quarters (or corn chips)
  • 1 can refried beans
  • 1/4-1/2 C jalapeno slices (depending on how much you love your spice!)
  • 1/4-1/2 C Mexican cheese blend, shredded
  • 1 t smoked paprika
  • 1 T chili powder
  • 1/2 lemon (about 2 T lemon juice)
  • 1/4 C plain fat-free Greek yogurt
  • small bunch cilantro (about 2-3 T chopped)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and arrange your corn chips.  Since I had tortillas in the freezer, I microwaved them for a few seconds, sliced ’em in quarters with a pizza roller, sprinkled with a little salt, and baked them until they were crispy, about 15 minutes.  Obviously you can skip this step if you have some chips handy.

These were vegetarian chips, so I used an entire can of refried beans, but you could easily use half or less and add some meat to make them more hearty.  Once the chips are crisp, add the beans on top.  (By the way, I’ve made refried beans from scratch before, and they didn’t quite taste as yummy as the good ol’ canned version.  Reason why?  Third ingredient on the canned kind is lard.  Yeah.  Maybe not so good.)

Sprinkle with jalapenos and cheese.  Be generous.  With both.

Sprinkle on the spices and pop in the oven for a few minutes until the beans are warmed and the cheese melted.

Meanwhile, process the yogurt, cilantro, and lemon juice (lime would probably be even better if you had it!) until smooth.  Drizzle over the top and enjoy!

We both love, love, loved this dinner treat of nachos.  I definitely would have eaten these with some spicy salsa on the side, but we didn’t have any and there was no way my tummy was allowing me to hold off on the nachos.

Experiment with the spices–if you are the hot and spicy type, some cayenne might be just the thing you need.  And if you haven’t already jumped on the smoked paprika bandwagon, now is the time.

Really.  That stuff is good.

In other good and exciting news, we got our fourth CSA box yesterday!  Check out the goods for this week:

I’ve had a lot of variety in my green monsters lately–using kale, chard, and beet greens instead of only plain ol’ spinach.  For those new readers, I am a first-time CSA user from Golden Earthworm Organic Farm on Long Island–read more about their CSA program here.

Plan for tomorrow–up early for the gym, then a doctor’s appointment and spending a large majority of the day reading (for pleasure!) and definitely baking!  I feel like I haven’t baked anything in ages and I absolutely miss having it around. 

Have a great night!

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Filed under Appetizers, Snacks, Vegetarian

Spicy Pickled Beets

Sometimes I have moments in which I realize that I am rapidly turning into an 89-year old obstinate Hungarian grandmother.

These moments happen more often than I like to admit.

For instance, I sometimes dream of owning chickens in my own backyard.  This is weird, because we actually had chickens in my backyard when I was a kid, and they are disgusting.  They stink, they peck each other to death, and they lay delicious brown eggs every day.  I want them.

I also sometimes wish I could wrap a giant scarf around my head instead of doing my hair.  Not in the movie star, big sunglasses kind of way, but in the gingham, burlap sack dress, and bare feet kind of way.

The clincher was when I woke up this morning craving pickled beets.  What self-respecting 20-something year old with a closet full of pretty dresses and high heels craves beets, much less of the pickled variety?  My complete transformation appears inevitable.

You can just call me nagyanya (“grandmother” in Hungarian).

Spicy Pickled Beets (adapted from this recipe)

  • 1 1/2 lb beets (I actually had just a smidgen over a lb)
  • 1 large onion (though I used 1 large and an old baby one)
  • 1/4 C sugar
  • 1/4 C red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 C white vinegar (feel free to experiment with types of vinegar or just use 1/2 C of one variety)
  • 1/4 t black peppercorns
  • 1/8 t ground cloves
  • 1/4 t ground allspice
  • 1 t dill seeds
  • 1 t salt

First, wash and roast the beets.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, wrap the beets tightly in foil, and roast until they are soft (a good test is if they can easily be pierced with a wooden skewer).  This should take about an hour.

Meanwhile, chop the onions (I made half rings, about 1/8-1/4″ thick), and cover with boiling water.  Let it sit for ten minutes, then drain and allow to cool.  This should take out some of the bite of the onions without having to cook the whole mixture together.

Combine 3/4 C boiling water with the sugar and stir until dissolved.  Add the vinegars and remaining seasonings: salt, peppercorns, allspice, cloves, and dill.  Set aside.

Once the beets are roasted, peel them (an easy trick is to use a dry paper towel to slip the skins off) and slice them.  Layer them with the onions in a large enough jar, and pour the vinegar mixture over the top.

Place the jar in the fridge and allow it to sit for at least a day until eating.

I hate when my pickled beet cravings have to wait a day to be realized.  And no, I’m not pregnant–just weird. 

The original recipe says that this can most likely be stored “forever”, but I wouldn’t try that.  With the sugary, salty brine, though, it’ll probably come pretty close.

I’m excited to try these on sandwiches, in salads, and probably just plain.  Remember?  I’m weird.

Plus, how can you not love the sweet and sour taste of pickled beets?

Pickling things (especially without the trouble of canning them, since I’m just making one jar and keeping it refrigerated) is a perfect way to keep items from my CSA box from going bad.  Expect to see a lot more pickled goodies in the future.  And possibly some jams.  Jellies.  Compotes.

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Seafood Paella

Okay, I’ll be the first to admit.  This isn’t exactly a paella–but if it looks like a paella, smells like a paella…

But due to circumstances beyond my control, this ended up somewhat like a pseudo-paella.  Those circumstances include:

  1. I didn’t have the right kind of rice, so I used brown rice which is delicious, healthy, and takes a million times longer to cook.
  2. Paella already takes a million years to make, and 1,000,000 x 1,000,000 is a really long time to wait.
  3. We were all very hungry.
  4. I also didn’t have a paella pan, and the one I used was too large in diameter for the burner underneath it (uneven cooking), but the only one large enough to contain all the ingredients.

Alas.  Such is life.  Also, it was still delicious, so I’m willing to call it a success.  I’ve also learned a lot about making paella and I think my next one will be much better!

Seafood Paella (original recipe here from Annie’s Eats)

  • 1/4 C + 1 t extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 3 tomatoes, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced, and 4 whole cloves
  • 1 1/2 t smoked paprika (first time trying this–yum!!)
  • 1 C clam juice
  • 1 1/2 lbs mussels
  • 12 jumbo shrimp, peeled with shells reserved
  • 1 lb scallops
  • 2 C rice–supposed to be “Spanish Bomba” rice, but I used long grain brown rice
  • Salt to taste

There should also be saffron involved, but we didn’t have any and there wasn’t any at the grocery store.  If you want the original recipe, check it out at Annie Eats, but here’s what we came up with.

First make the broth–if you want this to be a quicker recipe, you could use a previously make seafood broth, or even chicken broth in a pinch.  Heat the shrimp shells in a saucepan over medium-high heat for a few minutes until they turn pink.  Add a handful of mussels (I used 10-12) and five C of hot water.  Bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer for ten minutes.  Strain through a sieve and add the clam juice–that’s your broth!

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large pan (preferably a “paella pan”, whatever that is).  When hot (you’ll see it “shimmer”) toss in the diced tomatoes and onion.  Let it cook up for a bit, then add the garlic, smoked paprika, and salt (I used about a 1/4 t).  Turn the heat down low, and let it simmer and thicken until it becomes a nice dark color, and very thick.  Add the rice and stir it around for a minute.  Spread the rice mixture out in an even layer throughout the pan, and gently ladle the broth over the top, trying to maintain the even layer of rice.

Now, if you are making a real, grownup paella, you don’t want to stir the rice again!  You want it to develop a nice, thick, carmelized crust on the bottom.  If you are working on a time crunch and it’s easier to just stir everything in at the very end, I won’t judge you.  You just probably shouldn’t call this a paella.  But sometimes life happens!

Bring the rice/broth mixture to a vigorous simmer.  It’s also important that the heat be distributed pretty evenly, bubbling all the way to the edges so you can get that nice even bottom crust.

I didn’t get that.  Do you still love me?

Once the rice has absorbed most of the liquid, layer the remaining mussels on the top and cook for a few more minutes–they should be opening up.  Any mussels that don’t open up by the end should be chucked.  After two minutes, add the shrimp, pressing them into the rice.  Check the rice at the bottom (is it carmelizing?) by scraping at it with a spatula–you should have a nice crusty resistance, and the rice on top should be fully cooked.  If the broth evaporates too fast, just add a bit of water or loosely tent with foil.

Heat the last t of olive oil in a small pan, and quickly sear the scallops.  Toss them on top of the whole mixture and serve.  Season with salt to taste (and I topped with a dash of smoked paprika–it’s so delicious!  Why did I wait so long to discover it?).

Despite the fact that this didn’t turn out exactly how I hoped it would, the taste was still really good.  I love seafood, and mostly have scallops and shrimp when I come home to see my parents, ’cause they usually have some in the freezer just waiting for me.

I also discovered that I love mussels today!  I wasn’t sure if the mussel taste would be overpowering, but I had no issues with it whatsoever.  It also went quite nicely with the white wine Mom picked out for us.

Since it is Memorial Day weekend, I welcomed summer by reading an entire book (the majority of it outside in the sun), going kayaking with Dad, and having a nice long after-dinner neighborhood walk with Mom and the giant wolfhound.  All in all, a perfectly relaxing day.  Not sure of our plans for tomorrow, but hopefully it will begin with me sleeping in all the way until at least 10:00–and then possibly making a red, white, and blue confection?  We’ll see what I find.

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Filed under Entrees

Greens, Egg, and Ham Salad

Catchy title, huh?  I thought of it on my drive home from the gym as I was contemplating what I was going to immediately make for dinner.  Because I’m one of those people who thinks about what they are going to eat the second they wake up, throughout class, at the gym, in the shower, etc.  I really just love food.  And planning food.  But mostly eating it.

My workout today was great–recently, the gym I go to got some new giant StairMasters and a Jacob’s Ladder, both of which are new and fun ways for me to get some more cardio in.  I had realized lately that I wasn’t getting quite enough of that heart-rate increasing, quad and hamstring burning cardio, so it was perfect timing for some new equipment.  I also warmed up today by running a mile and sprinting the last 0.15 of it, and it was surprisingly easy!  Seems like my workouts lately have paid off.

Also, I’m starting to get triceps!  Real ones!  I was driving the other day and I rubbed an itch on my arm–surprise!  Triceps!  Usually I have to try really hard to notice them even when I’m flexing, so it was nice to find them just hangin’ out while I’m all relaxed.

How dorky is it that I’m so excited by this?  I’m not sure how apparent it is to people just looking at me, but that doesn’t really matter in the greater scheme of things, does it?

Anyway, back to the salad.  I knew I had some greens hangin’ around, but I was craving protein, so I decided to be all foodie-trendy and add a fried egg to the top.  The nicest part?  With the addition of warm ham and eggs, the spinach wilted a bit–and no dressing needed, since I like my eggs runny.

Greens, Egg, and Ham Salad

  • 2 handfuls baby spinach
  • 1/3 C diced ham (I had some in the freezer that I just reheated in the microwave)
  • 1 fried egg, cooked to taste
  • salt and pepper to taste (that means lots of black pepper for me!)

I don’t think I need to go into detail on how to actually put together this salad.

Baby spinach:

Topped with warm ham:

And a fried egg with S&P:

I also popped it in the microwave for ten seconds to encourage the wilting of the spinach.  Cheating, I know, but part of food blogging means all your food gets cold while you are taking photos, and the spinach isn’t likely to wilt on its own.  Gotta give it a little help.

This was so good!  I gave Fritz a taste, and he also really liked it!  It helped that the ham was really savory, but the runny egg on the top was the piece de resistance.  Now I understand why all the food magazines I’ve seen lately are all over this.  Definitely an easy way to bulk up a boring and really simple salad!

We ate outside because at 7:00 or so when it was all ready, the weather was that perfect slightly-dim-outside just-cooling-down perfection that is summer nights.  Anytime we’re outside on the deck, Henry stands on the table and meows sadly because he’s been left out–even if we’re just outside for a few seconds to grill.

Probably the most adorable thing ever.  Those pictures are from two different days–the one on the left is from when Fritz grilled turkey burgers with pineapple (delicious, by the way) and on the right from today.

One more summer update–we switched from the warm, bulky, winter comforter to the light, bright, summer comforter!  Doesn’t it look so peaceful and refreshing?  I love the bright colors and busy patterns of our other Anthropologie comforter, but sometimes it’s nice to switch over the clean and white.  It just looks so calming and fresh.

Tomorrow we are going to visit some of our favorite people, Zev and Breanna, before they move far, far away!  So sad to see good friends leave, but they are moving on to a new and exciting chapter of their lives (involving lots of graduate school), so we are happy for them.  Anytime I see people move, I get a little jealous because I love that exciting transitional period of finding yourselves in a new place.

It also might have to do with the fact that they will be much closer to my mom and dad than we are.  But that’s all the more reason to visit later!

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Filed under Salads