National Eat Your Noodles Day

Another gem from Steff Dechenes’ Eat the Year is today’s holiday. When I saw this on the calendar, I knew I had to do a post about noodles. Noodles are one of my favorite foods. Mushrooms will always take the cake on that, followed closely by garlic. Noodles are up there, though. Pasta with marinara, buttered noodles, Chinese lo mein, Thai pad thai noodles, it’s all good. Also, ramen! Which brings me to what I wanted to share most for today’s holiday.

On one of my recent trips to Whole Foods, I came across Annie Chun’s Spring Vegetable Ramen. It’s a packet of soup base and soft-dry noodles that you can customize yourself with protein and veggies.

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The first time I made it, I had just made my snow pea and mushroom concoction the night before and had some left overs. I added those after I tried the ramen on its own. The ramen and broth are really flavorful. Without any veg or protein, it definitely doesn’t feel like a meal, so that’s something to consider when you make it. Adding the snow peas and mushrooms, plus the bit of their sauce/juice they created was a very nice addition.

I’ve made it a second time now and ventured to add a protein. I had some leftover rotisserie chicken, so I hand shredded one of the legs and added it in with yet again leftover snow peas and mushrooms (they really are good!). All in all, a really good meal. I’ve seen the ramen at my local Fred Meyer (Kroger group grocery) in the natural foods section. If I remember correctly it also comes in two other flavors, but I don’t remember what they are. I’d say they’re worth a try.

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Review: Annas Ginger Swedish Thins

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One night, I was at the grocery store, sort of cruising the aisles. I was on a mission for chocolate. Sometimes you just get those cravings, so you slip on whatever shoes are handy and head out. It was one of those nights. On my way towards the checkout, I passed the coffee aisle and decided to check out what syrups and things they had. Nothing struck my fancy, but tucked away under the dispensaries were two stacks of these cookie boxes.

Now, I may or may not have mentioned that I am a writer (and not just of this lovely blog–you can check out my author page at rebeccalallen.wordpress.com). You may be asking yourself, what does my being a writer have anything to do with these cookies? I’m coming to that very quickly. One other thing I probably have not mentioned is that I am not a fancy person. I occasionally pretend I am, what with elaborate menus and the odd well put together outfit. But make no mistake, I am a highly unfancy person. It so happens, though, that one of the ways I let myself pretend to be fancy is when I drink coffee. I don’t know why, but drinking coffee has always seemed a very sophisticated, adult thing to do. (Being an adult is also something I occasionally let myself pretend I am, also. Ha!) It’s probably pop culture and watching my dad at work that has led to me to think of coffee this way. Here’s where the cookies come in. As I was standing looking at the boxes, it occurred to me that having something a little dainty, but still flavorful, to have alongside my coffee would be the epitome of sophisticated adultness. So I picked up a box of the ginger flavor (they also make an almond flavor, which I’ll talk about in another post) and headed home.

The mug features Shakespearean insults! A gift from my undergrad thesis advisor.

The mug features Shakespearean insults! A gift from my undergrad thesis advisor.

The next day, while I worked on my novel, I made myself up a hazelnut latte to pair with my new find. The cookies are very thin, light, and crispy. The ginger isn’t overwhelming at all, which is nice. They’re actually much more like graham crackers than ginger snaps (which is what I was expecting). They worked well with my latte, and even the cherry tea I made the next day. I would recommend trying them if you like spice cookies. Plus they come with a little desert recipe that I’ll write about in a separate post.

Open faced tomato sandwich, a la Rebecca

http://food52.com/recipes/6734-my-best-tomato-sandwich

Evidently, these are a thing. I, however, just stumbled on to them. And I just had to put my own spin on them.

Really, it came to me in a late night snack search. I decided I wanted a sandwich with toasted bread, but after I put the bread in, I found out there was no lunch meat in the fridge. The closest thing I had was a package of deli slices of prosciutto and salami. I knew making a sandwich with those would be ridiculously rich. I considered peanut butter and rejected it. I considered eggs and rejected that idea too. What to do? Then I saw the Roma tomato (which I prefer the flavor of over standard hot-house tomatoes until summer rolls around) sitting on the kitchen island that needed to be used before it got too soft. Bingo.

After the toast popped, I spread a thin layer of mayo, topped that with sliced tomato and sprinkled a bit of sea salt and granulated garlic. (The second time I made this, I sprinkled the garlic on the mayo before adding the tomatoes.)

spices 2

I figured the garlic could mix with the mayo to make a simple alioli. Bingo again! But what really topped it off was topping the tomato with a few slices of the salami and prosciutto. Heaven. Paired with a little pickle on the side, the tang balances the fat of the meat and the sweet of the tomato.

Happy eating!

All the noms right now!

Shawarma Chicken Bowls with Basil-Lemon Vinaigrette

Shawarma Chicken Bowls with Basil-Lemon Vinaigrette

Ingredients
Serves 4

Chicken Shawarma

1 lb / 453 gr free-range organic chicken breast, cut into 3-inch strips
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
¾ teaspoon fine grain sea salt
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon curry powder
½ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon ground coriander

Salad

6 cups / 3.5 oz / 100 gr spring greens
1 cup / 5.3 oz / 150 gr cherry tomatoes, halved
2 handfuls torn fresh basil leaves
1 avocado, sliced

Basil-Lemon Vinaigrette

2 large handfuls fresh basil leaves
1 clove garlic, smashed
½ teaspoon fine grain sea salt
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
5 tablespoons olive oil

Directions

In a bowl whisk olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, curry powder, cumin and coriander until combined.
In a shallow sealable container or in a large Ziploc bag, combine chicken strips and marinade.
Cover or seal and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes (marinate overnight for fullest flavor.)
When you’re ready to make the meal, heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.
Add a tiny bit of olive oil, add the chicken and cook until golden brown and cooked through, about 6 to 8 minutes turning regularly, until juices run clear.
In the meantime make the vinaigrette. In a food processor (or small blender), process the basil, garlic, salt, and lemon juice until smooth. With the motor running, slowly add the oil. Blend until combined. Set aside.
To make the salads, add the greens in a large bowl and toss them with a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Add the chicken on top along with the tomatoes, basil, and avocado.
Drizzle the bowl with the basil-lemon vinaigrette.
Serve!

Found here:

http://www.theironyou.com/2014/08/shawarma-chicken-bowls-with-basil-lemon.html

Embrace the vegan

I don’t live a vegan life, but I do embrace the vegan cooking I’ve come across. Mostly it’s good because it’s dairy free and whoever’s made it has found a tasty alternative to dairy. Such as this chocolate mousse parfait I picked up from Whole Foods.

vegan chocolate parfait WF

When you think of vegan food, is that what you imagine? You should. This is entirely vegan. It’s chocolate cake, layered first with vanilla cream, then topped with chocolate mousse. There was also a raspberry on top, but I snapped that up before remembering I wanted to share this with you. I picked this up at my local Whole Foods (life savers, they are).

It was incredibly rich, so I spread it out over a few days. It felt a bit like eating an adult-sanctioned mud cup. (If you’re unfamiliar, they are cups filled with chocolate pudding, topped with crushed oreos and a gummy worm or two.) Always a fun way to end the day and satisfy a chocolate craving.

Good eats

I spent part of last weekend in Seaside, OR to visit a writing program’s residency that I’ve interned with previously. Friday night I went out for drinks with friends to this place called Dundee’s. I have to say, as kind of sluggish as our service was, it was mostly made up for by the food.

Since it was pushing 11 pm, we just got drinks and fries to share. I ordered a Sex on the Beach (one of the few cocktails I know I can enjoy anywhere) that ended up being rather strong and got me a little buzzed.

sex on the beach

It’s such a pretty drink. To go along with the drinks, they brought out the best fries I have ever had. We got a basket of sweet potato fries and garlic fries. Oh man, the garlic fries! To die for! Especially with a little barbecue sauce. All the noms.

garlic fries 2

My mouth is watering just looking at these. I want to go back!

sweet potato fries

National Peking Duck Day

Maybe you remember on Christmas that I posted a picture of a book I got:

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I didn’t really explain what the book is, so let me do that now. Eat the Year, by Steff Deschenes, is a national food day catalogue based on her blog of the same name. She ate the year through celebrating various national food days.

I didn’t want to get the book because I wanted to do the same (there are too many food holidays in here that are foods I can’t eat), but rather to stimulate blog writing. Well, as it tends to do, life has gotten in the way of that lately. But I’m here to recommit! I’m not going to post the holiday every day (that’s the point of buying the book, so I won’t take away from her efforts), but I plan on noting particularly interesting days to you. Like today.

Today is National Peking Duck Day. I chose this as my first post from the book because, well, the holidays up until now haven’t been too inspiring. On the third was National Chocolate Covered Cherry Day, which I could have written for with a post about how much I hate chocolate covered cherries, but really, that pretty much covers. I hate chocolate covered cherries. On the tenth was National Bittersweet Chocolate Day, for which I could have written about how I’ve come to realize why it’s important to use bittersweet chocolate in chocolate chip cookies (you really do have to change the batter recipe if you’re using a different type of chip). But really this is the first interesting (for me as a writer) eating day from the book.

I have never had Peking Duck. I have never had duck period. I have no idea why that’s the case. Chinese is my favorite type of food (next to no dairy! and plenty of noodles! Win-Win!), but I’ve never bothered to try it. So I’m making it a goal for myself, the next time I have the opportunity to try duck, I will.

Have any of you had Peking Duck? Thoughts?

Exciting new find!

There’s a reason I love bookstores: you can walk in without a book in mind and leave with exactly what you need.

One of the biggest pluses of living outside Portland is easy access to Powell’s City of Books. If you’ve never been, it’s a building that takes up a whole city block, filled to bursting with used and new books. Nirvana.

Yesterday, I spent a few hours there with my friend Jason and found this amazing book:

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The Cheesy Vegan, by John Schlimm.

It has recipes for how to make fifteen different cheeses! Plus recipes for using the cheeses you make. I may be on a budget, but after checking out some of the recipes, it became a must-buy.

Now, since it’s a brand new book for me, I haven’t tried out any of its contents. I have faith, though, that things will work out.

Anybody had any success whipping up their own dairy free/vegan cheeses? Any tips you know? Any would be much appreciated.

Experiment: Dairy free cheesecake

I think I’ve written previously that the one food I’ve missed most since going dairy free is cheesecake. That topped with fruit is the perfect dessert. In fact, it was a contender to replace traditional cake when I get married. But that is not to be.

In my quest to find substitutes for dairy, I came across this recipe from Daiya.

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I used an organic graham cracker crust, 9 inches, from Whole Foods instead of rummaging around for my spring form pan. Aside from that minor alteration, I followed the recipe to the tee.

After letting it set for five hours, I cut in. The texture was spot on. As expected, the crust was great. But the taste of the filling…I don’t really know what to think. The recipe uses Daiya’s dairy free cream cheese style spread, which I’ve used on bagels before and like well enough. In the cheesecake, the predominant flavor is of the spread. I expected that, but I was hoping that the lemon juice, vanilla, and sugar would mellow it. They didn’t.

I read through the comments on the site of the recipe and a few people suggest adding sugar to help cut the spread taste. I haven’t decided whether I want to go through all of the work again to make it if it doesn’t make it significantly better. Mixing it all wasn’t hard, but getting the coconut butter the right consistency was frustrating. Perhaps it not being in the right state affected the taste, but I can’t imagine it would be too strong a factor.

Has anybody else made a dairy free cheesecake? Any tips?