Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Apple and Walnut Compote

Chopped apples, walnuts, a little honey and a squeeze of lemon juice make this mixture a little slice of heaven. Have you ever had Aplets and Cotlets? They are a candy made in Cashmere, Washington and I absolutely love them. If you have never had them, go get a box! (or come visit Cashmere, which is right next to Leavenworth!)

Anyways, this compote tastes just like Aplets! I think it was the combination of the honeycrisp and Granny Smith apples. I had originally planned on serving this in Belgian endive leaves, but unfortunately my local store doesn't carry them, so I decided to make it anyways, and I'm sure glad I did!

Apple and Walnut Compote

3 apples, finely chopped (use any varieties, with 1 being Granny Smith)
1 c. walnuts, chopped
1/4 c. honey
1/2 lemon, zested and juiced

Combine all ingredients and let sit at room temperature for at least half an hour before serving.

Serving Suggestions: over yogurt, oatmeal, ice cream, pancakes, waffles...



Sign up for our email list to get weekly recipe digests, updates on events, get a free e-cookbook and be entered for a monthly drawing for a free cookbook (Up to a value of $31.95. Limit one per person). Who wouldn't want all that?

* indicates required




Monday, February 27, 2012

Red Pepper Shrimp and Pasta

When I was first getting in to cooking, I bought a cookbook call Menus in Minutes. For the longest time, it was my favorite cookbook. In fact, I still cook a few of my favorites out of it. I loved the Mediterranean Mostaccioli with ground lamb, raisins, zucchini and feta. The Key Lime Orange Chicken is definitely always a hit.

But my personal favorite is the Red Pepper Shrimp and Pasta. It hits the spot after a long day because it's quick and absolutely scrumptious. The key to it's speedy-ness is pre-cooked frozen shrimp and canned tomatoes. The sauce comes together in about the same amount of time it takes to cook the pasta. How easy is that?

Red Pepper Shrimp and Pasta
Adapted from Menus in Minutes
Serves 4

1/2 lb. pre-cooked frozen shrimp, thawed and peeled
1/2 lb. fettuccine
1-14 oz. can diced tomatoes with italian seasonings
 2 tbsp olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
1-8 oz. can tomato sauce
1/3 c. dry white wine
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
Crushed red pepper
Chopped parsley 

1. Cook pasta according to directions on package. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook 5 minutes until tender. Add rest of ingredients except parsley. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer gently for 5 min, stirring occasionally.
2. Add shrimp and drained pasta to tomato sauce, stir to combine. Serve with parsley on top. 


Thursday, February 23, 2012

March: Allergy-Free Month

I have had to deal with allergies almost my whole life. I can remember suffering really bad during spring because of my pollen allergy. For a long time, my parents thought I was allergic to wheat, so we removed wheat from all of our diets. We replaced the wheat with spelt flour and for the most part, our allergies disappeared. 

Enter college: I’m on my own for my first time and my stress levels skyrocketed for various reasons. I was trying to still eat healthy and avoid wheat, which was rather difficult since all the food they served in the dorms had pasta, bread, breadcrumbs, soy sauce (which has wheat in it, believe it or not), etc. The lame part was that by living in the dorms, they required you to pay several hundred dollars for food and even if you had a severe allergy, you still had to pay. I cooked for myself, using ingredients from the salad bar as a way to use up the money.

After my first quarter at college and sick and tired of being sick and tired, my mom suggested I see an allergist to get tested. I made an appointment for my birthday and waited rather impatiently. I got my arm poked and pricked and voila! I’m not allergic to wheat.

But I am allergic to eggs, dairy, cats, dogs, dust mites, trees, grass, pollen and about 3 or 4 other minor allergies. None were serious, but I had enough of them to combine together to make me feel miserable. My allergist suggested I take an over the counter allergy pill everyday to alleviate symptoms and to also avoid eggs and dairy. I’ve been really good at taking the allergy pill every day.

But I’ve been terrible at avoiding dairy and eggs.

I’ve noticed that over the years, it’s gotten worse. My stomach gets upset more frequently, I feel tired rather often, and it makes me frustrated because I want to have the energy to go do things. I’ve also had to miss a lot of work and I haven’t been able to save much vacation or sick leave because I’m constantly using it because I feel sick.

So, I’ve decided that this March is going to be a dairy and egg free month. I want to see if by eliminating those two (since I can’t do much about the trees and pollen), my sickness and lack of energy is improved. I have never seriously tried to do it, so this is going to definitely be difficult.

When I first decided to do this, I kept thinking about all the things I couldn’t have.  Yogurt, cheese, and ice cream were all obvious. Then I began thinking of things that include milk or eggs. Cappuccinos (which have been my newest addiction), pastries, many breads, a lot of processed foods include eggs or dairy. I started to get a little depressed.

Then, I realized I should be looking at all the things I can eat. I can eat meat, vegetables, fruit, rice, grains, oatmeal. I also thought, wow, this is really going to test my creativity in the kitchen. I’ll need to use oils for everything instead of butter. I’m going to need to read labels more closely before I buy things.

It’s going to be tough, but I’m hoping that I will start to feel better quickly.

What food allergies do you suffer from? What are some of your methods of dealing with them?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Sun-Dried Tomato and Walnut Spread

My sun-dried tomato and walnut spread is a tad bit unconventional in that it adds chopped walnuts to a creamy base to be devoured on warm, crusty bread, but it works really well. This spread reminded me of one winter growing up where my favorite snack was toast with cream cheese and chopped sun-dried tomatoes on top. I hadn't had anything like it in such a long time, and this dish brought back so many warm, sunny memories. It sure fit the current weather pattern we have been having here in Seattle (sunny and unseasonably warm!).

My inspiration for this delicious spread was from a pdf cookbook I have called 500 Recipes for Bread. Their spread used goat cheese (which I'm a fan of but most aren't) so I decided to make a few substitutions. I used a mixture of cream cheese and Greek yogurt instead of the goat cheese to make a creamy, but still tangy spread. I kept the sun-dried tomato, walnut and thyme combination in the recipe and it turned out scrumptious!

Try this dish next time you are looking for a quick, creamy snack.

Sun-Dried Tomato and Walnut Spread

1 small package of cream cheese
1/4 c. Greek yogurt
5 sun-dried tomatoes, oil drained
1/2 tsp. thyme
1/2 c. chopped walnuts
Salt and pepper
Crusty baguette, sliced

Combine cream cheese, yogurt, tomatoes and thyme in a food processor until well blended. Using a spatula, stir in walnuts. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then mound in a bowl. Serve with a sliced baguette.


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Exploring, but not writing

I've had a few food posts lined up, almost ready to go, but I haven't been in the mood to finish them and get them posted. I haven't been in a writing mood lately either. It seems I go through cycles of motivation. I can post regularly for a while, but then my motivation lags or my schedule gets busy and posting gets pushed to the side.

The reason for my current lack of motivation is because I was sick for a week and didn't hardly cook. I'm going to cook tonight, so I hope that will bring my motivation back, but I'm not in a cooking mood (maybe it's because I just ate some General Tso's chicken and its making my tummy feel funny!).

Lately, I've been in more of an exploring and crafty mood than a cooking mood. I've been really itching to go explore new areas and take pictures or to be crafty like making jewelry or learning how to knit (again!). I just don't have the time to do everything I want to do! Work takes up too much of my time! :)

Speaking of work, I've been thinking a lot about which direction I want to take my career. I know I eventually want to do something with food, but I really enjoy the freedoms I have with my current job. Being sick makes me do a lot of pondering.

Anyways, I'm done spewing out random thoughts. I'll get my cooking motivation back and post more pictures soon. Just writing this has made it come back just a little bit.. Maybe I'll post something tomorrow. How does an apple-walnut compote sound?

Have a great day!


Monday, February 13, 2012

Love your Life

It has been quite a while since I could say that I love my life. I liked my life, had no major complaints, but I didn't love my life. I couldn't figure out what was missing, but now I know.

I felt really isolated, something that was a combination of my own doing and other's choices, but for the most part I felt alone. I don't feel that way anymore. I have a group of wonderful friends now, I get to go on so many amazing adventures and I'm really looking forward to the rest of my life.

I've become more inspired to be creative. I want to experiment more in the kitchen, I want to make things like jewelry and scarves, I want to learn new crafting techniques. I feel so happy now and I'm so glad I made so many changes in my life.

The point of me writing this is that I have shown it's possible to change your life for the better. Don't settle because you feel like you have to. You don't! Always strive to be the best and to experience life as best you can! Life is wonderful, truly wonderful.

Have a great day!


Pictures from top to bottom: Icicles hanging from our condo's balcony in Whistler; Carbon River from the Foothills Trail in Orting, WA

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Today's is my mom's birthday. She gave birth to me a little over 23 years ago (our birthdays are only 2 days apart!), and I'm so glad to have her for a mom.

Even though we may not see each other as often as we would like, I know she is there for me if I need her.

We have had lots of fun adventures together, with my parents taking me to so many amazing places. My mom has shown me so much love and has encouraged me to be the best I can be.

She has had to put up a lot from me (especially my wacky punk/goth style in high school), but has always found ways to let me know I'm loved.

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Love, Roo

Chicken and Orange Salad with Grapefruit Vinaigrette

A salad in winter? Who ever heard of such a thing. On a nice sunny day, it seems much more natural than a heavy, hearty stew. Since citrus fruits are in season, this is a great, fresh, wholesome meal. Add in a few slices of bread and you have a great lunch or dinner that comes together rather quickly.

I got my inspiration for this salad from a salad in Kraft's Food and Family magazine (recipe here). I added some pan-grilled chicken seasoned with a basic Italian seasoning blend and also used a homemade grapefruit vinaigrette instead of bottled balsamic dressing. Theirs has bacon on it (which would be delicious), but I decided to leave it out so the dish would have a lighter feel. I also used fresh mandarin oranges since they are in season, instead of using canned, but by all means feel free to use canned ones. I was going to add some pecans for some crunch, but forgot until after I took the photo, but they added a new dimension, which I highly recommend.

I do believe I've found my new favorite winter salad.

Chicken and Orange Salad with Grapefruit Vinaigrette
Serves 4

2 chicken breasts, skinned and boned
1 tsp Italian seasoning
Olive oil
1/4 red onion, sliced thinly
8 mandarin oranges, peeled and segmented (or 2 small cans)
Mixed greens
4 handfuls pecans
1 tbsp grapefruit juice
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
4 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp each salt and pepper

1. Cut chicken breasts in half lengthwise, then pound with a mallet to 1/4" inches thick. Season with salt pepper and Italian seasoning. Heat olive oil in a large saute or grill pan over med-high heat and cook chicken until done. Remove from pan and set aside.
2. For dressing, combine grapefruit juice, white wine vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. Whisk until an emulsion forms.
3. To assemble salads, slice chicken breasts, then lay on top of a bed of mixed greens. Sprinkle orange segments, onion slices and pecans over the top. Drizzle with dressing and season with salt and pepper.


Linked at Things that make you say mmmm, The Project Queen , Food Corner

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Homemade Alfredo Tuna Helper

Whenever I went trailer camping with my grandparents, my grandma would always make Alfredo Tuna Helper at my request. I absolutely loved it with peas mixed in, and I usually let mine sit on my plate until the sauce thickened so much it almost dried up (and my food was almost cold), unless I was hungry, that is. Surprisingly enough, Alfredo Tuna Helper is about the only boxed meal I like, even though I know it's not the best for me.

One day a few weeks ago, I had a bunch of leftover pasta from making the Red Pepper Shrimp, and I didn't feel like going out for food. I was also craving something comforting. I had a few cans of tuna in the pantry and some peas in the freezer, so voila! Homemade Alfredo Tuna Helper. I was surprised at how quickly it came together, almost as quick as if I had pulled it from a box.

And guess what! I think my homemade version tastes so much better! (Sorry Grandma...)

Homemade Alfredo Tuna Helper
Serves 4

1 can tuna, drained (preferably packed in olive oil)
1 c. frozen peas
1 clove garlic minced
1/2 c. creme fraiche
1/4 c. heavy cream
Cooked fettuccine
Grated Parmesan cheese

Cook garlic in 1 tbsp butter until lightly browned. Add tuna, peas, creme fraiche, cream and fettuccine. Let gently simmer for 2-3 min until thickened and peas are warmed. Add water to thin sauce if desired. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Switching Seasons

My favorite season hands down used to be winter. I love the storms, the snow, curling up on a couch in front of a fire, hot cocoa, tea, warm stews. I love everything about winter.

Except that I can't go hiking in winter.

I mean, I know I can, I just haven't learned the skills to feel comfortable to go hiking in the snow. What is funny is that before this last summer, I didn't like summer at all. I dreaded it.

I always looked forward to winter for ski season, but now I'm looking forward to spring because I can hike and ski.

It's amazing how starting a new activity can really change your outlook. I'm still a cold weather girl, but to me there is nothing more inspiring than standing on top of a mountain peak, admiring the views. (Ok there is one person that is more inspiring to me, but other than them, mountains win!)

If you've never tried standing on top of a peak (or tallest hill you can find), try it. The hike up will be exhausting, but completely worth it.

I'm so excited for spring! It's getting worse because we've been having some unseasonably warm weather here in Seattle (60 F yesterday at about 2 pm!) and the sun has been taunting me with its gorgeous sunsets and sunrises. 

How's the weather in your neck of the woods?

*Pictures of some of my favorite ski areas and hikes (from top to bottom): East at Snoqualmie Pass, view from outside Leavenworth heading to Blewett Pass, view from top of Mission Ridge, Mirror Lake, Twin Falls, and at Carbon River Entrance to Mt. Rainier.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Beef Stroganoff

I grew up eating beef stroganoff. It’s a traditional Russian dish that my mom made on a regular basis, and I loved it. I don’t make it as much as my mom did, but every once in a while I get a hankering for some good comfort food, and this is one of my favorite meals.
My mom usually makes it the traditional way, with beef chuck simmered in onions, garlic and mushrooms for an hour or so, then swirling in sour cream at the end for a creamy sauce. I prefer to fancy it up a bit (and make it quicker!) by using sirloin steak, cubed, and substituting crème fraiche for sour cream. It gives a creamier texture, in my opinion, and I love the flavor of crème fraiche over sour cream any day. I also add in a few secret ingredients to pop the flavors, but you will have to read the recipe to find those.

Beef Stroganoff
Serves 4
1 lb top sirloin steaks, cubed
1 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
8-10 cremini mushrooms, sliced
1/3 c. beef stock
1 tsp Dijon mustard
½ tsp dried tarragon
a few dollops of crème fraiche
1 lb broad egg noodles
1. Melt 1 tbsp butter in a sauté pan over med-high heat. Brown steak cubes until brown on all sides. Remove from pan and set aside.
2. Add water to a stock pot for pasta and begin heating it up. Cook pasta according to package directions.
3. Add 1 tbsp butter to same sauté pan over medium heat and add onions and garlic. Cook until translucent, then add mushrooms. Continue to cook until onions begin to brown.
4. Add stock, bring to a boil, then simmer for 5 minutes. Add mustard, tarragon and crème fraiche. Stir to combine. Add in steak cubes and serve over noodles.
Linked at Made Famous


Sign up for our email list to get weekly recipe digests, updates on events, get a free e-cookbook and be entered for a monthly drawing for a free cookbook (Up to a value of $31.95. Limit one per person). Who wouldn't want all that?

* indicates required




Thursday, February 2, 2012

Burgers with Caramelized Onions

I love burgers and fries. And who doesn't love onions on their burger? But what about in the burger patty itself? I found this recipe that had onions in the burger patty and decided to give it a whirl (with some garlic added in!). It was delicious! Best homemade burger ever! I even took the extra onions and sauteed them until caramelized and added those on top.

For onion lovers, this is the burger for you.

Burgers with Caramelized Onions
Serves 2

1/2 lb. ground beef
1 sweet onion, diced
1 glove garlic, minced
salt and pepper
2 Kaiser rolls
other burger fixins

1. Mix the ground beef, onion, garlic, salt and pepper. If some of the onions don't stick to the beef, don't worry about it.
2. Split the mixture in half and form two patties. Grill patties until done. Saute extra onions on the side in butter in a saute pan. (Or if you are doing this indoors and have a grill pan, just grill the onions next to the burgers!)
3. Add cheese, if desired, and place on a bun with your favorite burger fixins.



Sign up for our email list to get weekly recipe digests, updates on events, get a free e-cookbook and be entered for a monthly drawing for a free cookbook (Up to a value of $31.95. Limit one per person). Who wouldn't want all that?

* indicates required




Share This!