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¡hot plate! spicy chinese eggplant

28 Jul

So it turns out the Dalai Lama has an initiative to educate the Tibetan monks in some key academic areas, including physics. Josh was lucky enough to be one of the physicists to spend a week with the Tibetan monks in Bangalore, India, where he got to eat, sleep and teach monks right in the Sera Mey Monastery.

Now Josh’s culinary preferences traditionally lean heavily toward the big-chunk-of-meat genre, but at the monastery the diet was basically vegetarian: okra, lentils, vegetable soup–and some hard-boiled eggs thrown in for good measure. A lot of us honestly wondered if Josh would survive this unplanned exercise in mostly-herbivorism, so imagine my shock when he came home and actually asked if we could try out something vegetarian for dinner!!

Picture2

no animals were harmed in the making of these monks

Lucky for me, my awesome former boss Kristin is vegan AND loves Pinterest, so I immediately turned to her board of amazing vegetarian recipes for inspiration and landed on this spicy Chinese eggplant recipe. The spice level in this recipe is intense; next time I would cut it at least in half. Even so, making a legit Asian sauce was so fun, and I was COMPLETELY ADDICTED to the leftovers.

and i do mean SPICY

and i do mean SPICY

And what did Josh think? He also loved it, although he MAY have tried to sneak in a roast beef sandwich “post-dinner snack” later that night. Fortunately, I caught him in the act and convinced him to eat a super-yummy veggie sandwich instead (hummus, avocado, cheese and balsamic–what’s not to love??), so I can still say Operation Vegetarian Dinner was a success. Whew!

 

For your drooling pleasure, here are the other vegetarian dinners on our to-devour list. Do you have a favorite vegetarian recipe? Please share it below!

Chickpea curry w/ coconut rice

Crispy orange cauliflower

Mushroom lemon lentil salad

Roasted grape, goat cheese and honey stuffed sweet potatoes

 

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triple berry pie

13 Jul

Josh’s favorite dessert is triple berry pie, but I’ve never had the time or courage to make him one. Or a pie plate. But when that issue was resolved thanks to a sweet find at Goodwill, I knew it was time to conquer this new realm of desserts.

Now pie isn’t just about baking. There’s something about pie making that just seems very… connected to me. Pie is so homey, so full of the earth and family and goodness. Like a big, warm hug full of love.

Since this was my First Pie Ever, I turned to my go-to recipe site, Williams Sonoma, and used their Summer Berry Pie and basic pie dough recipes. My pie included blueberries, raspberries and strawberries. And guess what! Making pies completely from scratch is not really that hard! My First Pie Ever turned out great:

::hugs::

you’ve been pie hugged!

This is fantastic news for Josh, because it means there will likely be lots of new pie experiments in our future. The other plus of making pie? Not only do you get to give your freshly made pie-hug to people you love to enjoy, it earns you lots of extra hugs and kisses of your own from your hubby. :)

 

Do you have a favorite crust/filling recipe? What are your pie-making tips? TELL ME YOUR SECRETS!!!

be a chef’s knife ninja in 3 steps

7 Mar

Back in DC there’s this totally awesome cooking store called Hill’s Kitchen, where I took an intro knife skills skillz class. Guys, I had no idea I could do so many things wrong with something as seemingly simple as chopping stuff. Have no fear, however; if you’re in the same boat, here are my three must-know tips from the class on how to be a better cutter:

1. Get a grip. So turns out there’s actually a proper form to cutting, y’all! Grip the (chef’s) knife just above/in front of the handle, stand up straight and put your feet hip-width apart. I think this is to make you pay attention so you focus on cutting the food, and not your fingers. Which I support.

proper chef's knife grip

cue psycho soundtrack


2. Off with ‘is ‘ead! And feet! The first three chops to everything (disclosure: I haven’t actually tried cutting everything) are to nip off the ends and then do a cut down the length so that the food can lie flat on the cutting board, like so:

chopped eggplant

and thus ended the dynasty of King Eggplant IV


3. The magic’s in the motion, baby. When you think of cutting, you hear “CHOP! CHOP! CHOP!” and picture an up/down, up/down, up/down motion in your head. But really the noise you should hear when you cut is a smooth “swish, swish” and the motion of each cut should be more of a rocking backward then forward and through the food, with the tip of your knife never leaving the cutting board. Here, take a look:

That’s it! Now you can chop with the best of ’em. Here are a couple additional resources from About.com with more info. Happy cutting!

The Anatomy of a Chef’s Knife

How to Use a Chef’s Knife

hey, me! get back in the kitchen!

18 Jan

Hi, friends! It’s been a long time, but I’m back and bloggier than ever! I’ve got a whole host of posts a brewin’, but in the meantime, I wanted to share one of the fun foodie secrets I’ve been keeping all to myself since I’ve been away–namely that Williams Sonoma has awesome recipes, and they’re pretty delicious. Some of my favorites so far (click pics to see the recipes):

short rib tacos, williams-sonoma

short rib tacos

greek shrimp with tomatoes and feta, williams sonoma

greek shrimp with tomatoes and feta

apple-orange cranberry sauce, williams sonoma

apple-orange cranberry sauce

Needless to say, the site’s become my go-to for recipe hunting.  Discovered your own to-die-for recipes recently? Please share!

¡hot plate! pork ragu w/ polenta

24 May

Last week I wrote a post on the 10 things you need in your kitchen to be a great cook. Okay, so what do you do with all that stuff once you have it? Well I’ve noticed many of my favorite recipes follow a similar cooking pattern; this ragu recipe from The Parsley Thief is the latest example of how a few basic steps can add up to make culinary magic:

Step 1: Brown your meat. The recipe called for beef short ribs, but I went for pork shoulder. (Several vendors from the farmer’s market recommended it as a good alternative because it has a similar amount of fat as the beef short ribs.)

Braised pork shoulder

This pig's shrugging days are so over.

Step 2: Sautee some veggies. See all the yummy flavor bits the meat left behind? So important. Plus when my pots get all messy like this it makes me feel like a real cook in the way I imagine Tim “The Toolman” Taylor felt like a real mechanic whenever there were grease and wrench heads strewn all over his garage.

If this came with audio, I would be doing a self-satisfied Tim Taylor kitchen grunt in this shot.

Step 3: Add some saucy stuff, throw the meat back in and chillax. The best part about these kinds of recipes is that once everything’s in the pot, you get to just walk away and let it cook itself while taking complete credit for how good it’s going to turn out.

Its last words were "Be inspired."

Step 4: Take care of any finishing touches. This includes things like adding time-, flavor- or temperature-sensitive ingredients (i.e., herbs that would burn if added earlier ) and mercilessly tearing your meat into bite-sized shreds.

Puree sauce, shred pork, get way too excited about the delicious ragu smell filling your house.

Step 5: Serve. You can eat your ragu over polenta, pasta, gnocchi–or just ravenously devour cold it straight out of the Tupperware. (Not that I would know. … Okay, I totally know.) Either way, you want to make your leftovers last as long as humanly possible, because this is one dish that gets even better with age–I had my last bowl of this over a week after I originally made it, and it was twice as amazing as I remembered.

Mangia mangia!*

*Note: Photo from The Parsley Thief. Her pic was just way better than mine (even though it’s beef). UGH, fine. Here’s my pic:

No laughing at my runny sauce!