Wednesday, July 28, 2010

White Bean and Artichoke Salad

I've been having a difficult time trying to carve out some time this week to write up the second recipe I tried over the weekend, but it's so worth the wait. I thought for sure Scoob would be beaned-out by now what with the 2 attempts at Green Bean Pesto Salad and this White Bean Salad, but he actually requested some of the leftovers with dinner last night.

White Bean and Artichoke Salad

White Bean and Artichoke Salad
Total time: 20 minutes

    3 cups white beans (2–15oz cans, drained and rinsed)
    1–14oz can quartered artichoke hearts (I sliced them once more for eighths.)
    ⅓ cup red bell pepper, diced
    ⅓ cup yellow bell pepper, diced
    ¼ cup onion, diced
    ½ cup celery, diced (1 stalk)
    ½ cup kalamata olives, sliced (15 or so whole olives)
    ⅓ cup packed parsley leaves, finely chopped
    1 Tbsp finely chopped mint
    1 cup packed basil leaves, finely chopped
    ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
    ⅓ cup red wine vinegar
    1 clove garlic, minced
    salt and pepper to taste

  1. Combine beans, artichoke hearts, red and yellow bell peppers, onion, celery, olives, and herbs in a large bowl. Place olive oil, vinegar, and garlic in a small sealable jar and shake to combine, then pour over the content of the bowl and mix well. Salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Refrigerate for several hours, or overnight, to let the flavors meld.

I used a combination of a couple recipes I found online as a jumping off point, but knew it wasn't going to be as good as what I got at the Pasta Shop. So I made a couple substitutions and additions and I really like how this turned out just as it is. I don't think I'll change a thing when I make this again.

Speaking of which, now that I've tasted it, I think I'll take this to tomorrow's barbeque instead of the Green Bean Salad. Though both are yummy. Actually, Scoob is a little resentful that I'll be taking the next batch to work. Maybe I'll have to make a double so we'll have some at home too. Either way, I'll need to stop at the store on my way home from work tonight.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Green Bean Pesto Salad

Yum. And I do mean YUM! I made this twice this past week and I still want more. Then again, I may be biased seeing as how green beans are my all-time favorite veggie. But even Scoob, who has repeatedly declared he does not like pesto, has given this the Scoob Seal of Approval.

I found I was able to make the pesto without busting out the food processor by using an immersion blender, which means not only is this painless to make, but clean up is a breeze as well. And other than bringing a pot of water to boil for blanching the beans, there's no cooking involved, so I'm filing this in the "It's Too Damn Hot to Cook" file.

I'm debating making this for a company barbeque on Thursday. What do you think?

Green Bean Pesto Salad

Green Bean Pesto Salad
Total time: 15 minutes

    1 pound of fresh green beans, stem ends trimmed
    1 small clove of garlic, peeled
    1½ cups packed basil leaves
    ½ cup packed flat parsley leaves
    juice and zest from 1 lemon
    6 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
    ¼–½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
    ⅓ cup sliced, toasted almonds
    salt and pepper to taste

  1. While bringing water to boil in a stockpot or large sauce pan, fill a large bowl with ice and cold water, trim the green beans, and place garlic, basil, parsley, lemon juice and zest, and olive oil in a food processor and blend for about 1 minute, or until pesto is smooth but slightly thick.
  2. Add Parmesan cheese and blend another 15–30 seconds. The pesto should be thick, but not stiff. If needed, add olive oil to thin it out
  3. Add green beans to boiling water and cook until bright green and crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Drain and transfer immediately to the ice bath for about 2 minutes, then drain again.
  4. Place green beans, pesto, and almonds in a large bowl and toss to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste. Can be served at room temperature or chilled.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Mad Libs

I spotted this sign while walking to my car after work:

 It makes an odd sort of sense just as it is, I mean of course any vehicle is going to be at the vehicle owner's expense. But it seems like something's missing.

My vote is for tickled. Unauthorized vehicles should be tickled at vehicle owners expense.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Thank you, everyone, for the prayers and general good vibes sent in our direction. I talked to dad again this morning and my uncle is doing pretty good. Dad said he was coherent and able to talk on the phone, but he got winded pretty fast. The doctors are now saying he does not have a punctured lung, which is a blessing.

Dad said the doctors aren't planning on surgery but will instead tape up my uncle's ribs and keep him in the hospital for a couple days to make sure the internal swelling from his injuries won't cause complications. After that, they'll bundle him off to convalesce at home.

I'm very relieved that his injuries seem so minor in comparison to what was going through my mind last night, especially considering the stretch of road he was on. It could have been so much worse. But I don't want to dwell on that. Instead, I'll concentrate on the blessings and send my prayers out for the friends and family of the other driver, who did not survive the collision.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Scoob treated me to dinner tonight and we decided to try a new sushi place near the grocery store since we needed to do the shopping too. The food was pretty good, and the prices just as reasonable as the sushi place we usually go to, but the atmosphere was just…odd. It felt like the guys behind the sushi bar were giving us the stink eye the whole time, well, at least until their friends came in. Then we were just ignored.

The 99¢ sake helped smooth my ruffled feathers, though. But I'm not sure it was a good idea to drink all that sake right before grocery shopping. I'm pretty sure I forgot something. I just don't know what it is. But, I did get everything I need to start experimenting with recipes to recreate the tasty lunches I had last week.

Unfortunately, there was bad news waiting for us when we got home. Dad had called and left a message that one of his brothers was in a head-on collision today. After the other vehicle hit him, my uncle's rig broke through the guardrail, overturned, and caught fire. The other driver was pronounced dead at the scene and my uncle is in the hospital with several broken ribs, a punctured lung, and lots of cuts and bruises.

Dad and his 3 brothers are all commercial truck drivers. Even though I know it's a dangerous occupation, none of them has ever been involved in a serious accident, at least not that I know of, and news of the wreck shook me quite a bit.

Scoob was in the shower when I spoke to dad. When he got out he found me somewhat preoccupied while putting away the groceries—apparently the milk does not belong in the pantry. Anyhow, still feeling a bit scatterbrained. I thought maybe if I put my thoughts down here and took a hot shower I could wind down enough to sleep. So, I'm off to do the second part of that plan.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

New Treats

I haven't been brown bagging it for work the last couple of days, which meant I had to leave the office and find food. I headed down the street to Pasta Shop both days and discovered some new things.

I picked up a bottle of HOTLIPS Boysenberry Soda on a whim Thursday and forgot to take a picture of the bottle before I recycled it, so I just had to go back on Friday to get another bottle. Had to I tell you.

Anyhow, the fact that it was boysenberry caught my attention because you just don't see a lot of boysenberry things outside the Pacific Northwest. When I looked into it a little more I discovered that HOTLIPS Soda is made by the same folks who run HOTLIPS Pizza in Portland, OR. Well, that explains it. It also explains why the HOTLIPS name sounded so familiar.

I also really liked the white bean and artichoke salad pictured here. It was another repeat for my Friday lunch. I also tried a green bean pesto salad, which was super yummy. It's perfect timing for me to try and recreate these at home since summer has finally arrived. It's been pretty hot here the last few days (hot by Bay Area standards, anyhow) and I'm loathe to turn on the stove or oven to cook.

Other than blanching green beans, I should be able to manage these without heating up the house. Now I just need to get to the store for some artichoke hearts and green beans; I think I have everything else I'll need on hand.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Green Chicken Masala

Mmmmmm. Mom made this dish when I was visiting back in June. My first reaction (before tasting it) was to take a quick inventory of her refrigerator to see what else I could subsist on for the next few days because I do not like Indian food. I did eat a small bowl of the marsala (because it would have been rude to refuse outright) and proceeded to have leftovers for breakfast, lunch, and dinner until it was gone. It seems my aversion to Indian food has more to do with the heavy-handed use of curry than anything else; and this recipe uses no curry.

After a little prodding, mom sent me the recipe the other day and I stopped at the store after work yesterday to pick up whatever ingredients I didn't have on hand. It's a long list of ingredients, but it's easy to assemble. I did spend a fair amount of time cursing my limited counter space as I barely have enough room to have the cutting board, ingredients, and a mini food processor out at the same time. This will be one of the recipes I'll run through in my head when we're house hunting again.

Green Chicken Masala

Green Chicken Masala

    2 cups cilantro leaves
    cup mint leaves
    3 jalapeño, coarsely chopped (plus 1 serrano)
    8 garlic cloves, crushed
    ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
    ½ cup water
    2 tablespoons canola oil
    2 large onions, finely chopped
    1 roasted chicken, cubed or shredded
    1½ teaspoons turmeric
    ½ teaspoon cinnamon
    ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
    ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
    1 cup unsweetened reduced fat coconut milk
    4 cups chicken broth
    Kosher salt
    Basmati rice, for serving

  1. In a blender, combine the cilantro, mint, jalapeño, garlic, lemon juice and water and puree until smooth.
  2. In a large, deep skillet, heat the oil. Add the onion and cook over moderately high heat, stirring frequently, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the turmeric, cinnamon, cardamom and cloves and cook for 1 minute.
  3. Add the chicken, cilantro puree and coconut milk, chicken broth, season with salt and bring to a boil. Simmer over low heat until the sauce is slightly reduced, about 15 minutes. Serve with basmati rice.

I left out the ½ cup of water while preparing the puree and, as a consession to Scoob's onion aversion, I only used 1½ onions instead of a full 2. I thought since I was using Walla Wallas he wouldn't object as much, but I did decide to puree them with an immersion blender once they'd finished cooking.

I've found he's much less likely to whine about the onions if he can't even find them. That, and I wouldn't have to watch him pick them out of his food. He really liked the meal and didn't even mention the onions until I specifically asked about it.

I had also seeded the jalapeño and serrano chiles before adding them to the food processor, mostly out of habit since the instructions don't call for it. When I make this again I'll probably keep some of the seeds in for a little more heat.

Now if you'll excuse me, it's time for lunch. Mmmmmm.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Zucchini Orzo Salad

I made this recipe a couple weeks ago with basil, and again when we got home from vacation with dill, and it was good both ways. Scoob has said this is his newest favorite dish, "Even better than macaroni salad." Which, for a Hawaiian, where nearly every meal is served with two scoops rice and macaroni salad, is saying a lot.

Either that, or it's his subtle way of telling me to quit trying to make macaroni salad, 'cause I jus' can' make da kine. You see, I've tried to make several variations of Hawaiian-style macaroni salad, but that right there is the problem—I'm trying to make a variation of it, not the real thing. The "real" thing consists of macaroni elbows, a butt load of Best Foods mayonnaise, and maybe 3 individual peas and 4 or 5 shreds of carrot. Seriously.

I like my macaroni salad to have a little zing. A little flavor. So I keep trying to find a macaroni middle ground that appeals to both of us. Even though he has liked several of the salads I've made, none of them is da kine.

Anyhow, enough about macaroni salad, on to the newest favorite, Zucchini Orzo Salad. It's super, super easy, and if you (or your neighbor) planted zucchini this year, you may want remember this one later when you've eaten all the zucchini bread you can manage and you're staring at a pile of summer squash wondering "What the hell am I going to do with all this zucchini squash?"

Zucchini Orzo Salad

Zucchini Orzo Salad
Total time: 25 minutes

    8 oz. orzo pasta (½ a box)
    3 Tbsp olive oil
    3 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
    1 tsp crushed red pepper
    Kosher salt and black pepper
    2–3 medium zucchini, cut into half-moons
    8 oz. Feta, crumbled
    ¼ cup fresh dill (or basil), chopped

  1. While waiting for water to boil for the orzo, combine the oil, vinegar, red pepper, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Add the zucchini and marinate, tossing occasionally, for 20 minutes—about the time it takes to boil the water and cook the orzo.
  2. Cook the orzo according to the package instructions, drain and run under cold water to cool.
  3. Add the orzo, Feta, and dill (or basil) to the zucchini mixture and toss to combine.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy Birthday, ‘Merica

I kept commenting on the huge dandelion puffs while we were on vacation and realized Scoob had no idea what I was talking about. We've eaten dandelion several times but apparently the man has never seen one in bloom or going to seed.

He'd never heard of using a dandelion (or buttercup, for that matter) to discover if someone liked butter. And he'd never used a dandelion puff to make a wish.

Since the dandelions were going to seed, we couldn't do anything about the first, but we did remedy his latter childhood deficiency.

When I was reviewing the photos I thought this looked a lot like a fireworks blossom. Happy Fourth!