Monday, April 30, 2012

Operation Pantry Cleanout: 30 Minute Meal with Frozen Pasta

I love buying frozen pasta from Pasteria Lucchese at the Ballard market or from Delaurenti in Pike Place Market. The trouble is I buy one here, two there, another here, and now I have 12 stocked up in the freezer. My freezer is part of my food hoarding problem so it's part of "Operation Pantry Cleanout". I'm now making my way through the frozen containers of various pastas one meal at a time.

Round 1: Cauliflower Ravioli with Browned Butter & Sage

I wasn't sure what to do with the cauliflower ravioli I bought from Delaurenti so I called down to the store and one of the guys gave me several ideas. I settled on browned butter and sage because that's what I had in the fridge and it was effortless. Once the butter is melted you throw in some sage, then continue until browned. Take off the heat. Meanwhile, boil your pasta, then toss with the butter and sage. It took no time to make and was delicious! I can't wait to re-stock with the Cauliflower Ravioli once I hammer out 11 more pasta dinners.

I served it with grilled asparagus from the farmers market and this easy kale caesar. This dinner was so fast and easy, but more importantly, delicious.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Why Don't I Eat More of This?!


becomes this...

I was recently feeling like I needed to jump start another health kick because I've been drinking too much and too often. It helps me drink less wine if I focus on eating healthy and drinking healthy. I'm currently loving all things Chaco Canyon and what better place to go when you're trying to eat healthy?! 

There are many great things to order there but one day recently I wanted to go the extra step and get something super healthy. I ordered a bowl with brown rice, steamed veggies and tahini sauce. Holy moly. I was expecting something that tasted so healthy you want to chuck it in the garbage and go get a croissant. Not the case. It was delicious.

I've since ordered it several times and this week I made it myself. I haven't had tahini that good so I did a Chaco drive-by and bought a side of tahini. I steamed my own veggies for a few minutes (kale, cabbage, carrot, chard), tossed them with a touch of salt, pepper and lemon juice, and put them on top of leftover brown rice, then smothered it in tahini sauce. Serve with a juice, smoothie or kombucha and you are golden. Delicious AND healthy.

If you know how to make great tahini dressing, share your recipe por favor so I don't have to do the Chaco drive-by.

Operation Pantry Cleanout: Nicoise Salad

I was looking for ways to use up a can of tuna (other than the obvious) when my friend Clare recommended a Niçoise salad. She makes this regularly for a quick and healthy dinner and now I can see why. It's a one pot meal and it's delicious. I loved it and will most definitely make it again.

I didn't use all of the ingredients for dinner so I combined everything (sans lettuce) in a bowl with some salad dressing, tossed it and stored it in the fridge. The next day I tossed it with more lettuce and dressing and lunch was ready in 2 minutes. I could have just as easily, and happily, eaten it without the lettuce and had a potato salad style lunch ready in 0 minutes. But, I needed to use up the leftover lettuce.

I know what you're thinking - this is a lot of work to use up one can of tuna. But... I got to (a) use a can of tuna (b) try a new recipe (c) have a delicious dinner and (d) have leftovers for lunch. I love Operation Pantry Cleanout.

If you don't like tunafish, skip it and you'll still have a salad with great flavor. 

Operation Pantry Cleanout Nicoise Salad

1 can good quality tuna, drained
4 or 5 eggs
6-8 baby red potatoes
2 handfuls fresh green beans
1-2 heads Butter or Bibb lettuce
1/2 cup nicoise olives (I prefer nicoise but they have pits, which is the pits when eating this salad and having to eat around them)
2 T capers

1/4-1/3 cup olive oil
3 T red wine vinegar
1 T Dijon mustard
1 t minced shallot
salt and pepper

Combine all ingredients for vinaigrette in a glass jar and shake vigorously until it's emulsified. Set aside.

Put your eggs in a medium saucepan and fill with water covering up to one inch above. Place over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes, then remove from the heat. Cover pan let stand for 8 minutes. Remove eggs with a slotted spoon and run under cold water. Put in fridge until cool enough to peel.

Meanwhile, put the pot back on the burner and return to a boil. Add salt and boil green beans for 2 minutes, then remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to an ice bath. Next add baby red potatoes. Cook for roughly 15 minutes, until you can easily stick them with a fork. Remove from the water, run under cold water to cool slightly. Cut into quarters or eights, then toss with some vinaigrette while still warm (absorbs more that way). Place in fridge to cool.

Cut cooled green beans into 1.5" pieces. Put tuna, beans, potatoes, olives, and capers into a bowl and toss with some dressing. Add lettuce and more dressing. Toss again. Plate and top with hard boiled eggs (cut into quarters or eights). Sprinkle with pepper and serve.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Cooking 101

There are several great tips on this post from the inspiring blog Dinner, A Love Story:

"Things I Wish Someone Told Me When I Started Cooking"

Quote of the Day

You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you'll discover will be wonderful. What you'll discover is yourself.

- Alan Alda


A Slice of My Life

My husband asked where I wanted to go for our anniversary dinner in a few weeks. Dumb question. Delancey of course. I think he meant somewhere a little more fancy and formal given the holiday but I say nonsense. It is, sadly, closed from May 7-15 so no such luck (and heads up to anyone venturing that way).

Moving on, Delancey is offering kale as a topping, available to add to any of their pizzas. We ordered a white pie with kale and preserved meyer lemon and a Brooklyn with kale. Both were delicious. Who knew kale could be such a fantastic pizza topping. And of course, don't ever forget to order the sausage pizza with spicy pickled peppers added. It's glorious!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Quote of the Day

A mentality of scarcity - of lack - is the natural consequence of viewing the world through eyes of fear. In contrast, when the world is viewed through eyes of love, the future becomes unlimited.

- Jonathan Lockwood Huie

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Operation Pantry Cleanout: Red Lentil Soup with Lime

Tonight's Operation Pantry Cleanout recipe was Red Lentil Soup with Lime. The photo has had my mouth watering for months but I just finally got around to making it.

I had fresh spinach from the farmers market to use up so I swapped it out for the kale. I was able to use basmati rice and red lentils from the old pantry stash so it was a win-win-win for using up stuff.

Only a few more months years before I get through the rest of the pantry. Any favorite recipes involving canned beans, lentils, garbanzo beans, quinoa, udon noodles, brown rice or tomato sauce???? Please share! I'll take any recipe you love with one of those ingredients.

Quote of the Day

If you always do what you've always done, then you'll always get what you've always gotten, and you'll always feel how you've always felt.

- unknown

Monday, April 16, 2012

Operation Pantry Cleanout: Vegetarian Enchiladas

Photo credit: Dana Treat

I'm loving this Operation Pantry Cleanout project. It's forcing me to try new recipes. Last week I made vegetarian enchiladas inspired by the ones I saw on the blog Dana Treat (recipe here). They were not only delicious, but I was able to use up 4 cans of food in the pantry which felt great.

Instead of using tomato puree, I thought this was a great opportunity to use the Muir Glen Organic Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes with Green Chilies that I've had in the pantry since May when I started cooking more vegan. I never did use these tomatoes so there they sat for almost a year. Now I'm excited to buy more for this new gem of a recipe. Using those tomatoes also eliminated the need for a can of green chilies which I didn't have in the pantry, and didn't want to buy since I'm trying to use up canned goods rather than buy more.

Vegetable Enchiladas
Adapted from Dana Treat

Serves 4-6

2 cans Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes
1/3 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/4 t kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Canola oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium zucchini, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced
3/4 can of ORGANIC corn
1 t dried oregano

1 14-ounce can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1/ 4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For Assembly
7 or 8 8-inch flour tortillas
2-3 cups grated Cheddar (I like a good layer of cheese)
1 small can sliced black olives
1/4 cup green onion (optional)

2 T minced cilantro
Sour cream
Cholula sauce

Puree the tomatoes in a mini Cuisinart one can at a time. (I did this after using it to mince the garlic and left some garlic in. It mixed it in for me.) Pour the now pureed fire roasted tomatoes into a large bowl. Add heavy cream, cilantro, garlic (if you didn't already), salt, and pepper. Stir and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Place a sauté pan over medium heat. Pour in just enough canola oil to coat the bottom of the pan, then add the onion. Sauté until just beginning to soften, about 5 minutes, then add the garlic and saute for a few minutes, being careful not to burn. Add the zucchini and oregano. Sauté until tender but not mushy, about 5-7 minutes. It’s ok if the zucchini gets a little brown, but try not to burn the garlic. Add the corn and cilantro and cook for a minute or two. Stir in pinto beans, salt and pepper and remove the pan from the heat. Allow to cool slightly.

I like to throw the flour tortillas in the oven for a minute to toast them slightly. Remove and set aside. Pour a layer of sauce over the bottom of a large casserole dish. Spoon 1/2-1 cup of the corn and bean mixture along the center of a tortilla, then roll the enchilada up. Place seam side down in the baking dish and repeat with the remaining tortillas. You should have enough filling and enough room for 7 or 8 tortillas.

Spoon the remaining sauce over all the enchiladas, and sprinkle the cheese over top. Sprinkle with black olives and bake for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with green onion and bake for a few more minutes. Turn oven to broil and watch closely until cheese is perfectly melted. I like it a little burnt in a few places for added flavor. Watch closely. This could take between 1 and 4 minutes depending on your oven. Remove and sprinkle with cilantro.

Serve with sour cream and hot sauce.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Operation Pantry Cleanout

Hi, my name is Colleen, and I'm a food hoarder.

It started innocently enough. I'd be at the store and wouldn't know if I had the appropriate canned good, frozen item or condiment for that night's dinner so I'd buy another one (or two). Now I have a pantry and freezer busting at the seams with cans and bags of beans. lentil, rice, cous cous, coconut milk (5 cans currently - chicken curry anyone?), olives, pasta, every style of canned tomato known to man (whole, diced, stewed, sauce, fire roasted, paste) and much, much more.
So began "Operation Pantry Cleanout".

The strategy is that every dinner has to revolve around a key ingredient from the pantry or freezer until I get through the majority of the food. I'm allowed to buy produce and any additional items required but I have to base meals off things I already have. It's a fun challenge and it's forcing me to try some new recipes. This particular soup was developed simply to use up a can of pinto beans that had been lurking around for a good year or so and one of many cans of whole peeled tomatoes I have double stacked, four rows deep. The soup was healthy and delicious. Can't wait to buy more pinto beans now. (There she goes again, the hoarder in me).

Operation Pantry Cleanout Minestrone

2 T olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
3 or 4 carrots, chopped
2 or 3 celery stalks, chopped
1/2 leek (white and light green part), sliced thin
3 or 4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 14oz can of whole peeled tomatoes, crushed with your hand
8-ish cups chicken or veggie stock (I used homemade veggie stock made quickly the night before from veggies before they went bad)
1/2 - 1 t fresh oregano, minced
1 T parsley, minced
1 t basil, minced
1 small zucchini, sliced thin into coins or half circles
1-2 cups chopped cabbage
1/2 - 1 cup chopped spinach, rinsed three times
1 parmesan rind
1-2 cups noodles (I like a snail or shell shape noodle for this soup)
1 can kidney beans
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper

Fresh parmesan for serving

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions and saute until they start to get soft. Add carrot, celery and leek. Sprinkle with salt and saute for a few minutes. Add garlic and saute, stirring regularly so it doesn't burn. Add tomatoes, crushing with your hand and their juices. Add the stock, herbs, zucchini, cabbage, spinach and parmesan rind. Sprinkle with 1 t salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes-1 hour. In a separate sauce pan, bring water to a boil. Add salt to the water and cook noodles until al dente. Drain and set aside. When you are 15 minutes out form serving, add noodles and kidney beans to the soup. Sprinkle with pepper and check if it needs more salt. When ready to serve, ladle into bowls and sprinkle with freshly grated paremesan and a tiny sprinkle of pepper.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Seattle Food Tour

A friend asked for some recommendations of good places to hit in Seattle so I whipped up this list. Thought I would share in case you're out and about this weekend, looking for good grub. I included my favorite menu items as well.

- Cafe Besalu
- Honore
- Cafe Flora (Rancho Colorado Scramble with cheesy grits and extra beans)
- Eltana (everything bagel with spicy garlic or salt bagel with hummus)

- Dot's Delicatessen (BLT with fries)
- Matt's in the Market (great sandwiches)
- Thrive (Buddha Bowl)
- Chaco Canyon (lentil burger, side salad, black bean chili with brown rice)
- The Other Coast (Rajun Cajun)

- Delancey (Jersey Salad, sausage pizza + spicy pickled peppers or White Pie + sausage and preserved meyer lemon)
- Cantinetta (die for their pastas)
- Golden Beetle (love everything I've ever had there)
- Dinette (crazy for their toasts, salads and pastas)
- Joule (just had an insane dinner there)

- Volunteer Park Cafe (love their cookies too)
- Caffe Fiore

Smoothies or Juice
- Healeo (Skin Detox, Pure Simple Health, smoothie with coconut, almonds, and dates)

Happy eating!.

Be Inspired. Be VERY Inspired.

Ladies! Read this Forbes magazine article, "American Booty," about Sara Blakely, the woman who created Spanx and is now worth a gazillion dollars. Not that any of my ideas are going to create a million dollar empire like hers, but I'm inspired to get movin' on some of them.

Quote of the Day

To become different from what we are, we must have some awareness of what we are.

- Eric Hoffer