Thursday, July 29, 2010

Obsessing Over Corn

Corn season has arrived, and boy is it good!
8 ears of sweet sweet sweet corn for $2?! Um, yes please!

When I buy fresh corn, I prefer to eat it raw, sliced straight from the cob. It's crunchy and fresh, in no need of any cooking. I'll save that for frozen corn out of season. Lately I've been whipping up this salad that I can't get enough of. I typically buy 2-3 ears of corn at a time since there's only two of us. But at the rate I'm consuming this dish I might go for that full 8 next week.

Fresh Corn Salad

2 ears of corn, kernels sliced from the cob
2 Tbs red onion, minced
3 Tbs fresh basil, minced
2 Tbs feta cheese, finely crumbled
a tiny drizzle of olive oil
salt to taste

Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix together well. This dish keeps nicely in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Yummy Bowl

Don't know how else to describe this serendipitous smorgasbord of leftovers
Yummy Bowl = any combination of fresh or leftover dishes thrown together for one delicious meal

Clockwise from top left:
indoor grilled zuchinni and summer squash;
scoop of leftover basil-dijon chicken salad;
2 Spanish olives;
3 butter pickles;
spoonful of spicy tuna-egg salad;
leftover fresh corn salad with red onion, basil, and feta


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

11-Minute Pancake and Eggs

I love making breakfast from scratch every morning, and it can be possible with a little organization and a bit of practice.
One of my favorites is a single large pancake with egg whites. Pancakes are very easy to make but when you are pressed for time, a good quality mix makes it really possible.
They make a weekday breakfast feel pretty special.
Not sure it can be done? Well, here we go.
8:12 AM- Starting breakfast

Place a small nonstick skillet and a flat pan on the stove and turn on the burners to preheat. I turn them to medium and can lower them later if they are too hot.

Usually I keep liquid egg whites to make this faster, but I'm out today so I'll use regular eggs. Just a few more seconds of time to crack two in a bowl, discarding the yolks.
Cut a wedge from an apple and remove the peel (it doesn't soften as well as in oatmeal); I keep an apple in a bag in the fridge specifically for this purpose.
Chop into small dice and add to a bowl.

[Like I said, pancakes from scratch really are easy. But when pressed for time, a good mix is the best. Most mixes are not good in my opinion, either from flavor or nutritional value. I love Kodiak Cakes, for the nutrition facts and taste.
From the 1/3 cup portion, I get 7 grams of protein, 15% of the day's calcium, and 130 calories.
It's whole grain and available at my local Safeway. It can also be purchased online in bulk (and cheaper) from Amazon.]

Measure 1/3 cup of mix and add it to the apple.

To mix the batter, add 1/3 cup water (equal parts).
Those are the directions; I like to add a few drops more for a thinner batter that spreads. That's trial and error and personal preference.
Now mix with a whisk to combine the mix, water, and apple.

Ok, we're pan ready. Clock check: it's 8:17 AM. Doing good.
Check the heat on the flat pan; lower a little if necessary.
Spray the pan with a bit of canola spray and add the batter.
This batter has less fat than regular pancakes, so bubbles appear earlier. For from scratch pancakes this is an indicator of flip time, but in this case look at the sides of the pancake instead. When they start to appear solid, it's time to flip. For now, let it be.

Spray the skillet with the canola spray and pour in the eggs.
They should bubble and sizzle right away.

When the bottom of the pancake is browned, time to flip.
That looks perfect.
Now, flips the eggs.

I like to add a little sprinkle of grated cheese to the eggs now. Cause it's yummy. Just a little.

A minute or two more and both are done.

My garnishes of choice today are a big blob of boysenberry preserves and a small blob of dark chocolate peanut butter. I also like a bit of butta and cinnamon sugar. Mmmm.

No time to sit and eat? Both reheat really well, just place in a travel container and warm when you're ready to eat. The jam and pb will get nice and hot too- delish!
Time Check: 8:23 AM. 11 minutes from start to finish!


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Puddin for Breakfast

If you're like me, you're a creature of habit who sticks to a few favorite breakfasts every morning. Oatmeal or egg whites and a pancake are my current faves on alternate days. This is an improvement- there was a time when it was oatmeal every single day.
Those of you that are more adventurous, who eat something different every morning, I tip my hat to you. I know what I like and I want what I like, and it doesn't often vary.
But sometimes even I need something a little different.

I am a huge fan of Bethenny Frankel, the natural food chef and reality TV star of Bethenny Getting Married? and the Real Housewives of NYC. Her dry and sometimes prickly humor appeals to me, and I see my own sarcasm in hers. She's also not shy of sharing gory details, and neither am I (when I think they wouldn't be abhorrent). Anyway, my interest in her drew me to peruse her website and, among other things, the recipes listed there. In the breakfast section is something she calls "Healthy Brown Rice Breakfast," using cooked brown rice and other spices, fruit, and milk for the morning meal. I liked the idea; I've had quinoa and polenta at breakfast, but had yet to try brown rice.
I wanted to take it a step or two further to simplify the process and make it more like rice pudding. We like rice pudding around here, and this is a much healthier version without white rice and the added sugar. The following day, I topped my rice with more soymilk, some peanut butter, and the last of a batch of Suite Apple Granola.
This technique- cooking in water then adding the milk and spices later- yields a lighter mixture than traditional rice pudding, but you're not missing out on anything. To make it more dessert-like, substitute 1/2 cup soymilk for the water while cooking, or add extra at the end along with some sugar. I left mine unsweetened and portioned it so each serving can be sweetened to taste. You could leave it plain one day, add brown sugar the next, maple syrup the following day.

Brown Rice Pudding
serves 4

2 cups water
1 cup brown basmati rice, rinsed thoroughly
1 cup vanilla soymilk (or regular milk)
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla

In a small heavy-bottomed pot, bring the water to a boil. Add the brown rice, return to a boil, then adjust heat to medium low and cover. Simmer for about 40 minutes or until the water is absorbed and the rice is fluffy. Stir occasionally to redistribute the water.
Remove the pot from the heat and add the soymilk, dried cranberries, cinnamon, and vanilla and stir thoroughly. Most of the liquid should absorb.

Place in the fridge or pre-portion into four containers before storage. When ready to eat, add additional soymilk and reheat in the microwave for 30 seconds to one minute to soften. Stir in brown sugar or maple syrup, and other toppings of choice like chopped nuts, nut butter, or fresh fruit.


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

3 Years

Happy Anniversary babe. I can't believe it's been 3 years, and we'll be +1 next time.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Beach Dinner

Imagine having dinner here.
For two years I did, and on July 4th it happened.
Our first trip to Cabo San Lucas in August 2008 was very memorable. The last night we went for a moonlit stroll after dinner and came upon a candlelit couple on the beach. They were completely solitary, the beach was their own and it was one of the loveliest and most romantic things I'd ever seen. When we decided to come back to the same resort this year I really wanted to find out more about it. Ray was worried it would be incredibly expensive, but lucky for us it really wasn't.

We made the reservation with the concierge and set it for the 4th of July so we might see the fireworks scheduled nearby. At 7:15 we sat down, and by the end of the meal all the light was gone. At the beginning of the meal we were able to enjoy the incredible show of waves before us; we had a good amount of wind most likely from some storms raging on the other side of the country.

The sand was combed all around our table and our personal bed (yes, our personal bed that we could lounge on all night after dinner if we chose) on the beach, to make walking easier. It was a small detail that made a big visual impact. As with the couple two years ago, we had the beach to ourselves.

The dinner is prepared and served by Siempre, Pacifica's restaurant. The four course menu began with a selection of breads accompanied by basil and red chili oils. I selected an onion roll and some sun-dried tomato bread. Both breads and the oils were fantastic and by the end of the meal I had consumed them all.

The first course was a scrumptious array of grilled vegetables with goat cheese, thyme, and a drizzle of olive oil. Carrots, cauliflower, onion, zucchini, bell pepper, and mushrooms were all perfectly grilled and the goat cheese was a nice compliment.

For my second course, I had one jumbo scallop with shiitake mushrooms, a sunchoke puree, and more thyme. The scallop was hidden under the mushrooms and was nicely cooked.

Ray's second course was a pretty green salad with fresh raw pears. He deemed it nice and fresh, but not terribly exciting.

For the third course we both selected the rib eye- medium rare for Ray, medium well for me. Despite my need to have well-done meat, the beef was flavorful and still fairly juicy. It was served with a cabernet jus and some rosemary and thyme. On the side were some potatoes that had an elusive but yummy sweetness, a corn mash that we both favored the most, and a fried potato tower with a bit of mashed potato underneath. The presentation with the tower was fun.

In the darkness after dinner, the fireworks show began. It was short but very enjoyable and we had a wonderful view from the beach. I tried to take a few pictures but I couldn't master the flash or lack of flash to capture the color, so I stopped trying and just enjoyed it.

And finally, dessert. . . . which was half consumed before I took a picture. A mini tres leches cake and some strawberry ice cream sat next to a jumbo sliced strawberry. Alongside some chocolate sauce and creme anglaise, my plate spelled "Enjoy" while Ray's read "the Night." Very sweet. The dessert was nice and I did finish it; I had been craving something chocolate but I do not fault the plate for that.

We sat and enjoyed the sound of the waves after eating and moved to the bed for relax under blankets before heading back to the hotel to catch the shuttle back to Sunset Beach. It was a special night, our favorite on this trip.


More of our previous trip to Cabo San Lucas:
Not your average trip to The Office
Siempre at Pacifica