Sunday, July 24, 2011

A two-wheeled menace

So I was told, in no uncertain terms, by my darling little sister that I am in desperate need of a blog post that doesn't revolve around food. I personally happen to disagree, but to humor her for the moment I've decided to play along. I wasn't really sure what I was going to write about, but as I was driving back from Target today I saw something that for whatever irrational reason ALWAYS irritates me. Start Seeing Motorcycles, pasted onto the back of a minivan. I have to be honest with you here, I wasn't aware that I ever stopped seeing them. They are decidedly difficult to miss whilst cruising down the road, three or four abreast in a line that seems to be about six bikes long, spaced out perfectly so there is no room to pass. Clever clever move motorcyclists. I appreciate your need to not only be seen, but to hog the road on your "hog" as well. Now before anyone gets their panties in a bunch about this, I want to make it clear that I understand that these stickers are alerting and reminding drivers to be aware of motorcycles on the road and to make sure that they are not the victims of careless drivers in much bigger, enclosed vehicles. I get it. I want people to be safe, and being safe also requires some of you not to drive like ginormous turds. Including those of you who chose two wheeled modes of transportation. I don't get to buddy up with KIA souls and ride two abreast in freakishly large packs, even though I would secretly love to.

And since we're on the topic of two-wheeled modes of transportation, lets discuss another one of my personal favorites, people who bike AGAINST traffic. You have got to be kidding me. This, more than almost anything else, makes me so angry and baffled. You are more likely to be hit! How difficult is that to understand? When you decide to bike against traffic, you are moving towards traffic, which means that the approach is much faster, giving both yourself and the driver less time to react should something go wrong. And when you add that up, the odds are suddenly no longer in your favor, are they? Not to mention you generally look like a fool. It always blows my mind when I'm driving down the highway, minding my own business and lo and behold, there is a pedal biker, cruising against traffic on the side of the road. You make people nervous, you should stop. Don't be that guy.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Good to be Green

So, summer = TONS of fresh veggies, and asparagus is no exception to the rule. I won't lie to you, I used to think that asparagus was just foul, 100% pure ick. And then someone soaked it in olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper and grilled it to charred perfection and I loved it. At least as long as it had the ever living cooked out of it. But now that I've most decidedly become an adult with grown up tastes (hah) I've learned that not all the vegetables I used to dislike as a child are still gross. Well, at least not asparagus. Olives on the other hand...

No denying it, this Asparagus Risotto looks totally delicious, the colors are super bold and the flavor rocks. I know that risotto can tend to be a pain in the butt to make; it requires a lot of time, constant attention and sometimes calls for ingredients that are a hassle to hunt down. None of which are the case with this fantastic gem! It's a pretty quick recipe (as far as risotto goes) and doesn't require you to be a slave to the stove. It also has pretty minimal prep work. So go ahead, make it. Eat it. Love it...I dare you! :)

1 bunch asparagus, cut into 1-1.5 inch pieces (ends discarded)
1 Tbs olive oil
2 Tbs butter
1 bunch green onions, chopped
2 cloves chopped garlic
1 C arborio rice
1/2 dry white wine (+ 1 Tbs extra...optional) (Reserve rest of bottle for your drinking pleasure)
3.5-4 C vegetable broth, hot (keep simmering on stove in separate small pot)
3/4 C parmesan cheese
In a large saucepan, bring 4 C water to a boil, add asparagus.
Boil for 2 minutes, remove from hot water and put into an ice bath to retain bright green color.
Remove from ice water.
In a saucepan, melt butter and olive oil.
Add onions and garlic, cook on medium heat for about a minute.
Add rice, stirring and cooking for 2 minutes.
Pour in 1/2 C white wine, stirring until mostly absorbed.
Add broth, in 1/2 C increments at a time, allowing most of the liquid to be absorbed before adding more.
(You will use between 3.5 and 4 C of broth)
Continue to stir and cook until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed, adding the extra Tbs of wine if you'd like.
Mix in the parmesan cheese and asparagus pieces and serve hot and enjoy!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Mmm, Weddings and Soup

Well world, I officially had a fantabulous weekend! I got to celebrate a beautiful marriage between two close friends of mine and it was such a great time. I met some fabulous people that I got to spend the entire weekend with, got some crazy pictures and spent a lot of time with my sister. We were both in the wedding, so we got to do all the fun stuff like get pictures, wear fancy clothes, eat yummy food and get our hair and makeup done for us. I even got to give a toast...and I didn't pass out from paralyzing fear like I originally thought I would! Couldn't have been better. However, with all that being said, I am a bit drained of energy and haven't felt like making anything that's going to require me to do much, so soup it is!

I absolutely LOVE Asian cuisine. All of it. From anywhere in the whole flavorful continent. Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Indian, all of it. The flavors are so POW in your face tasty that it's pretty hard to resist. I made this Hot and Sour Soup recipe, and then gave it a little more doctoring of my own to give it the flavors that I love. When in doubt, you always add more garlic and Sriracha!  :) Like most of the soups that I enjoy making, this one is super simple, get your ingredients and toss them in a saucepan. Easy as pie. Which is a baffling saying in my opinion, but I suppose that's irrelevant. Anywhoozle, try the soup and love it!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Summer Treats!

What better way to treat yourself on a miserably hot day than with a fresh strawberry shortcake! I was at work the other day and someone came in a dropped off a whole bucketful of fresh picked strawberries, and I kid you not, I had the recipe for a shortcake/sweet scone in my pocket that I was planning on making later on. It was like a predestined event of epic occasions. So I baked, sent some folks to the store to pick me up some whipped cream (obviously making it from scratch would be WAY better) and created this personal slice of after dinner heaven. Try it. Love it. The recipe for the "cake" will be eventually listed in my recipe section under scone. If you just have to have it before then, just shoot me an email! :)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Oooh, more food!

Might as well post another tasty little treat for you folks to try out! Today at work I made a Couscous Garden Salad, and let me tell you, it was DELICIOUS! This dish literally has it all, big flavor, lots of veggies, and the always awesome feta cheese. There really isn't a single thing about this dish not to love, and the best part about it is that it can be served chilled as a side dish, or warm as a main dish. It's really healthy and tastes great to boot. I know that I've already talked about how awesome it is that I get to go to work and cook every day, and I'm going to say it again...It's awesome! For those of you who are wondering what I do for a job, I work at a group home. We revamped our menu last fall to try and incorporate a much more balanced and nutritious diet for the consumers that we work with, and so far the outcome has been amazing.

 A "healthy diet" isn't just about calorie restrictions and small portions, it's about nutrition. The problem with nutrition is that a lot of people have a hard time understanding what a nutritious diet should consist of. Most people think dinner and automatically envision lots of meat and potatoes, anything bloody and starchy...especially here in northern Minnesota. Probably in the Midwest in general if we're being honest. And while there's not a thing wrong with your steak and potatoes every now and again, you'd be doing your body so much more of a favor if you ventured out into the unknown and incorporated lots of lean proteins and veggies. And no, I do not mean veggies from a can. (personal feeling, of course)Yuck. So go ahead, try something different for a change. Trust me, a balanced vegetarian meal once or twice a week won't kill you, in fact it'll probably help you out in the long run. And something like this tasty number is a sure fire way to ease into the whole "meatless" meal preparation. It's quick, simple and absolutely delicious. I promise. So check it out under my recipe section on the blog! Enjoy!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Pizza, Pizza, Pizza

Alright folks, I made some promises earlier this week to try out some new recipes and post them, so here they are! First up is a DELICIOUS Tomato Basil Pizza made with fresh ingredients for the toppings. I'm not going to lie to you, it's really straightforward and basic, but that doesn't lessen how flippin delicious and yummy it is! Just take a look at it!

The other pizza recipe I'm going to share is my Enchilada Pizza. I am proud to say that I made this one up all on my own and I'd be a liar if I told you that this wasn't one of THE tastiest pizzas I've made. The flavor on it is insane. The enchilada sauce/salsa combo for the sauce gives this pie a nice overall spice, while the flavors are bold and rich. It's been a big hit every time I've made it at work and I'm hoping you enjoy it as much as everyone else has. Look at the colors on this thing, it's unreal!

And that's just the pepper onion mix that's part of the topping. The finished, uncooked pizza looks a little like this:

For those of you with freakish eagle eyes, yes, half of that pizza has chicken on it. I made these pizzas this weekend while I was at work, and since not everyone shares my love of meatless food, I like to indulge them every now and then. What can I say, I'm just a nice person. ;) 

Friday, July 1, 2011

Happy July!

Before you have a heart attack, don't worry. That is an oh so silly sign for an ice cream shop/video rental place in Duluth. My future roommate Sam happened to spot this little gem and I figured I would share it with you!
Ooph, July rolled in hot and heavy...literally. It's been ridiculously humid here in the north land for the last couple of days. The kind of humidity that makes your jeans get tighter as you're walking to work. I was fairly certain that by the time I arrived to work yesterday my denims were practically holding me up...yeah, it was that kind of hot and humid. Uncomfortable to say the least. And while I would love to venture down to the beach and throw myself bodily into the big cold drink, I will refrain. I don't feel the need to visit the beach if my dogs aren't allowed to go with me.
On a more positive note, I'm planning to post some yummy new recipes and pictures this weekend! Keep on the lookout for a zesty enchilada pizza and a super delicious summer garden couscous salad. :)