Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Slow Cooker Turkey Meatball Stroganoff

This recipe arrived in my inbox one fine day, a few weeks back, and I couldn't resist giving it a shot.  Having never been a fan of traditional stroganoffs, however, I decided to make a few changes and make this extra spicy.

I used spicy brown mustard instead of dijon, and added plenty of white pepper and tobasco to my sauce to make it as spicy and flavorful as possible.

I also had a hard time finding light french onion dip, so I used the heavy stuff.  That was a decision that, while not good for the waist-line, I definitely recommend, because the flavor was tremendous.

And I've never met an egg noodle I didn't like, so while I would've preferred to serve this atop some sort of healthy somethingorother, the egg noodles were an obvious choice.

My inner horseback-riding-loving North Dakota girl totally came out when I saw these boots:

These are totally the boots that fashionable Ash would have worn to horse camp, lo those many years ago.  And she would have rocked the shit heck out of them - so much so that I think I need them now, to reconnect with my youth.  My birthday is creeping up, and feeling 12 again wouldn't be so bad (without the things that made being 12 so awkward, that is).

Monday, September 24, 2012

Black Bean Croquettes

"What's for dinner?" the F asked me, well over a month ago.  When I responded, ever-so-casually, "black bean croquettes," a look of abject terror appeared on his face.  It was like I had told him our house was on fire, or Arnie had been kidnapped.  He was not thrilled.

I wouldn't go so far as to say that this recipe was the easiest to make in the world.  It's hard to mash black beans (at least it is when you have spindly Olive Oil arms, like yours truly) and I was honestly afraid these were going to turn out badly when I started mashing.  When I started incorporating the other ingredients, though, things came together.

I made mine extra spicy (of course) and got WAY more than 8 balls, as the serving size suggested in the recipe (I ended up with about 12).  I also baked mine on my baking stones, and used store-bought (aka lazy) salsa instead of making my own.  All worthwhile edits, in my opinion.

We ate them with avocado, fat free sour cream, more lazy salsa, and whole wheat, high fiber tortillas.  Two balls were so filling that I don't know how the recipe wanted me to make them bigger.  Despite his initial reaction, the F loved these and took the leftovers for lunch, willingly, for the rest of the week.  Success!

I was catching up on my favorite website, Go Fug Yourself, recently, and (as they often do) were discussing the Duchess of Cambridge and her penchant to successfully wear (and look fabulous in) Alexander McQueen.  And then, shortly thereafter, I saw these:

Alexander McQueen via Bergdorf Goodman

The serendipitous viewing of the Duchess looking stunning in McQueen, followed by these shoes being stunning McQueen's, leads me to believe that the two should unite.  I like it when she steps outside of her pretty pretty princess box, and these shoes would certainly do the trick!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Quickie Friday: Grilled Flatbread

Four ingredients and a grill is all you need today, peeps, and you won't regret it. 

But do me a favor and grease oil your flatbread well before you throw it on the grill, or it may get hole-y (as evidenced above).  I brushed mine with garlic oil before I threw it on the grill . . . but not enough.

We had this flatbread with steaks and grilled veggies one night, and I suspect they would be superb as bread for a sandwich or wrap.  Just enough flavor, and the grill made it all toasty-tasting. 

These don't quite fall in line with my lust for grunge, nor do they fit the usual super-cheap quickie Friday shoe profile, but I love them nonetheless.

They would certainly be a suitable replacement for the uber expensive pair I showcased on Wednesday, and they look perfectly comfortable and maybe even (gasp!) work appropriate.  Then again, my wardrobe isn't what most would consider librarian-like, so maybe my perspective is off . . .

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Ham & Cheese Quinoa Cups

Blah blah foodie board on pinterest blah blah blah.

I love pinterest.  Especially for recipes.  This recipe (conveniently from a blogger in Iowa . . . the F would be so proud) was easy to make (with a few tweaks) and yielded quinoa cups for over a week!

I always drain my quinoa first, so it won't be bitter.

Eggs, cheese, zucchini, onion, red pepper, salt, white pepper, and jalapenos.  What's not to love?

Oh, that's right, it needs quinoa.  Mix it all together and cup-it-up!

I am convinced that mini muffin tins are one of the world's greatest inventions.  Seriously.  Bite-size muffins, whether sweet, savory, or somewhere in between, are a gift from the gods.

I actually ended up freezing this batch to reheat for on-the-go breakfasts, so I didn't get an after picture, but they looked identical to Iowa girl's and they were TASTY.

What do we think of these, peeps?

Sartore via Barneys

The swing back to grunge in fashion, recently, is really speaking to my inner (and outer) Nirvana fan.  If only these, paired with ripped jeans and a flannel shirt, were appropriate librarian apparel.  *sigh*

Friday, September 14, 2012

Quickie Friday: Grilled Veggie Salad

I have been taking the time, recently, to make a weekly stop at the produce stand near work to buy fresh veggies.  It is so worth it, I can't even begin to explain it, but this salad does a decent job of depicting my joy.

It doesn't even show off the grilled veggies to the best of its ability, but they're there.  Grilled eggplant?  Check.  Squash?  Check.  Sugar snap peas, asparagus, and tomatoes?  Check, check, annnnnnnnnnd check.  Homemade mustard vinaigrette on the side?  You're damn right.  Happy-summer-almost-fall, peeps!

Speaking of summer-almost-fall, I think these shoes would be great during this in-between season:

Even though, here in Florida, it's still going to feel like summer for months, I'm thinking transitions.  Positive (and slightly wishful) thinking!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Spinach and Feta rolls

I am a big fan of canned tomato soup.  What does that have to do with spinach and feta rolls, you may be wondering?  Well, sometimes I need something to go with my tomato soup that doesn't involve salt and slightly-leavened bread.  Enter spinach and feta rolls.

In a bowl, combine 1 package of frozen, chopped spinach (thawed and thoroughly drained) with 10 ounces of fat free ricotta and a package of crumbled, fat-free feta (I used garlic feta).  I added salt, pepper, more garlic (3 cloves) and a touch of red pepper.

Cut up two sheets of frozen puff pastry to make 12 small rectangles, and place a big blob (that's a technical term) of the spinach mixture on one end.  (Trust me when I say you want to put a lot on there - the puff pastry expands so much you want a good ratio). 

Brush the rolled pastry with egg wash, then bake them at 350 for 15-20 minutes, or until they're golden brown.  I don't have a picture of the after because I was cooking up a storm the day I made these, and couldn't remember what I needed to take pictures of!  Trust me when I say they're tasty AND great with cheap, canned tomato soup.

Trust me when I say, too, that I need these pumps:

Brian Atwood via Bergdorf Goodman

Purple!  Calf hair!  111th Anniversary!  PURPLE!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Quickie Friday: Compound Butter

Few things bring me as much joy as making a compound butter.  Knowing that it is going to develop such rich flavors, then melt into glorious puddles atop anything warm has me anxious to get back into the kitchen, now, and make some more.

The butter I made to go with my grilled corn on the cob was spicy and fabulous, and it all started with one little charred jalapeno.  I turned the grill on high and torched it, then sealed it in a plastic container to steam until the skin pulled off easily (about 15 minutes).

I used my mortar and pestle to grind the peeled jalapeno with some lime juice, cilantro, and lime zest, then I combined the whole thing with a (by the time I got to it, melted) stick of butter.  I put a piece of plastic wrap inside my ramekin, and poured the butter in, then put it in the fridge to set.

An hour later we had awesome butter for our corn, and it would taste great on protein, too (I'm thinking of sauteing some shrimp in it, soon).

It was easy to spread on my corn, too, since it chilled into quite a solid mass.  And now I keep some sort of compound butter in the fridge constantly!

I don't have a clever tie-in for these boots, or anything to say about them other than they're cute, they're cheap, and I want them.

That will be all.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Quinoa Mac 'n' Cheese

I feel like a common phrase around these parts, lately, has been "well I found it on pinterest."  I talk about it with the F, I talk about it with my pin-addicted colleagues (see their boards here and here), and sometimes I talk about it with people I don't know.  My name is Ash, and I'm a pin addict.

I can hear the chorus of "Hi Ash" coming to me from across the blogosphere.  I appreciate it. 

I used this recipe for the basis of my quinoa mac and cheese.  I added spinach and asparagus (lightly sauteed, first) to my mac and cheese, and used a mixture of cheddar and pepperjack cheeses.  I also topped the panko with a healthy dose of red pepper, to give it the kick that I always crave - especially at lunch time.

When the mac and cheese was done baking, I allowed it to cool, then portioned it out into 1 cup servings for lunch.  The whole process took less than an hour, and I had lunch for a week (the F got some, too)!  It doesn't get much better, and since quinoa is a great, high-protein grain, I didn't feel terribly about eating "mac 'n' cheese" for lunch.

I'm also not going to feel terribly about beginning my shopping for clothes for our honeymoon now.  The F has informed me that no matter where we go (Italy and South Africa are both options he's considering) the weather will be in transition, so I need to be prepared to layer.  I also need to be prepared to wear some fabulous shoes.
Manolo Blahnik via Bergdorf Goodman

These would be a wonderful piece for the trip, I think, since I could wear them with nearly anything and they'd be suitable for brunching or dinnering, whether on safari or in Tuscany.  Right?!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Grilled Corn on the Cob

I have very fond memories of going with my mom to the farmers' market, located in the K-Mart parking lot, when I was a kid and buying corn on the cob.  Delicious, sweet, yellow corn on the cob.  If you asked me, today, to name my favorite food, it would be very high on the list, and I still enjoy going to the farmers' market to pick some up today.

My favorite way to prep corn on the cob, now that we have a house and a yard and a grill, is to grill it.  I've tried grilling it without the husks and with, as well as wrapped in aluminum foil.

Grilling the corn either in the husks or wrapped in foil yields the best results, in my humble opinion, unless you have the patience to stand over a hot grill for 15 minutes, watching unwrapped (or un-husked) corn to make sure it doesn't get too charred.

Whichever way you grill it, the process is the same:  turn the grill on high and let it get nice and hot, put the corn on the grill, turning every 3 minutes or so, for 15 minutes.  CAREFULLY pull it off the grill and unwrap it (unless you grilled it "naked") and enjoy!

This particular picture is of the corn after a naked grilling - you can see how charred it got.

I like to serve my corn with a compound jalapeno lime butter (more on that on Friday), alongside steaks, burgers, chicken, pork chops, cereal . . . anything, really.

The opposite end of the goes-with-anything-spectrum belongs to these:

Jimmy Choo via Saks

These go with nothing.  Unless you're on an intergalactic space mission to find corn on the cob after having lived in a high-fashion hole on Mars.  Then - game on, or in the unforgettable words of Sookie Stackhouse:  "boot and rally."