Friday, June 15, 2012

Quinoa Herbed Crab Salad, Mission: Perishable, and TGIF

I'm officially onto Mission: Eat All the Perishables before my epic trip of a lifetime ((quasi-redundant, don't care)) next week.  I suppose that isn't being terribly gracious to my house-sitter who will be here full time who is also an amateur boxer who adores my chow ((yes, that might be code for don't fuck with me in my absence)), but I'm guessing he doesn't eat a whole lot of bok choy anyway.  So, to that end, let's clean some more stuff out of the refrigerator into a crab quinoa salad.

  My original idea was to make something like crab salad that is typically served either on a croissant or stuffed into a bell pepper, but without the creamy, fatty goodness.  Mission accomplished.

What you need for 4 servings:

One cup of quinoa ((cooked according to package directions))
8 oz crab meat 
4 stalks of celery, chopped,
4 green onions, chopped
Fresh thyme 
Fresh basil
1 squeeze of lemon
1 tablespoon EVOO
Salt and pepper

What to do:

Rinse the quinoa thoroughly prior to cooking to remove the bitter coating.  ((FYI, Costco--the second circle of hell-- had a huge bag of quinoa when I was there a couple of weeks ago.  Target has been selling a small bag for 8 bucks.  This was at least 4 times the size, but not too big to store easily--I think 32 oz-- for about 14.  You're welcome.))  Cook according to the package instructions.

Chop the celery, onions, and herbs.  ((If I had red pepper, I would have put a little of that in as well.))  

For the crab meat, for the love of carbs, do not use that fake, imitation shit.  I won't be terribly offended if you use canned stuff, but just not that whitefish that they paint the edges pink.  That is disgusting.  We aren't going to be loading this up with dressing, so you want the actual ingredients to actually taste like something.  

Mix everything together with the olive oil and add a big old squeeze of lemon.  Refrigerate for at least an hour, preferably longer and re-stir prior to serving.  Top with a little bit of parmesan, because, why not?

This was just fine all on it's own ((I ate the leftovers right out of the tupperware for lunch the next day)),  but would be good on a bed of lettuce, stuffed in a red pepper, or in a pita.

Nutritional Info:  Approximately 300 calories, 5 grams of fat per serving.  ((Let me give a disclaimer.  I haven't been running these all through my ingredient calorie calculator.  For one thing, I usually don't name brands and the amounts used really vary.  My idea of "top with parmesan" is pretty light as you can see.  Yours is likely way different.  I also don't actually measure anything unless I am baking.  However, my estimations are pretty damn close.))


This week has been kind of a bitch.  I'm not really sure why, other than that I had an extremely unpleasant task Thursday morning which really reaffirmed a lot of things in my mind.  But, it is going to be a great weekend... drinks with friends tonight, giving a cooking class Saturday afternoon, and cooking for a small-ish party Sunday evening.   Happy Friday!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Italian Kale Pasta Salad and a Declaration

It's hot. 108 degrees hot. The kind of hot where your eyeballs want to catch fire and you can't touch the steering wheel without potholders. It is definitely too hot to contemplate anything that involves an oven. Boiling water is actually the limit at the moment. So how about a make-ahead/stash in the fridge pasta salad?

What you need for 4 servings:

1 cup of pasta ((I used gemelli, but basically any kind will do))
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 bunch of kale, destemmed and shredded
1 cup of cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup of pine nuts
2 tablespoons ((or so)) of Italian dressing ((I used Trader Joe's))
Salt and pepper


Bring the water for the pasta to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions.

Spray a large-ish saute pan with cooking spray and add the garlic. Allow to cook until fragrant over a medium heat, about 4 minutes. Add the torn-up kale ((mine totally could have been torn more but I was multi-tasking)) to the pan with either a splash of water or a little chicken broth. Add a little salt and pepper. Cover and allow to steam until bright green... about 5 minutes on a medium setting.  Remove from heat and set aside.

When the pasta is done, put it in a colander and run under cold water ((or as close to cold as you can get. Tap water in AZ this time of year is still hot.))  Shake it thoroughly to remove as much of the water as you can and throw it in a large glass bowl.  Add the kale, tomatoes, pine nuts and the dressing, and toss. ((If you think it needs more dressing, that's fine by me. You won't hurt my feelings.)) Top with some Parmesan, cover, and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Nutritional Info: Under 250 calories per serving. WIN.

Again, this is one of those things you can add a lot of different things to. Artichoke hearts would be a very worthy addition, but either I am out or I didn't dig far enough in the pantry.


Official Declaration: Today I am going to get my shit together. I've been pulled in about a hundred different directions and have the sense that I am not doing anything very well. ((I did confess this to someone over the weekend and was told that I was being ridiculous and that wasn't the case but that's how I feel, so there.)) Enough. So, by way of accountability, today I am going to submit the freelance stuff, schedule the final certification testing and hope my memory still works as well as it used to, and deal with a couple of annoying follow-up things that I have been neglecting. So be it. <<Magic wand waves.>>

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Grilled Cheese for Grown-Ups, Linkage, and Being Banned

There is a wild and nasty rumor flying around Twitter and the Blogosphere that today is National Grilled Cheese Day. Now THIS is a valid and worthy commemoration befitting the Founders' spirit of a national holiday. It seems like everyone should get the day off or something in observance. Go home now. I'm closing the banks. Oh wait, my delusions of grandeur are showing again.

Plain grilled cheese sandwiches are definitely good and obviously have their place... But let's grow it up a little. Jules' Grown-Up Grilled Cheese Sandwiches.

Grilled Cheese for Grown-Ups

What you need per sandwich:

2 slices of multi-grain bread
2 tablespoons of butter
1 tablespoon of pesto
4 slices of mozzarella cheese
2 slices of tomato ((I actually used cherry tomatoes cut into slices))
4 leaves of basil

Grill them up:

Start by pre-heating your pan of choice without spraying anything on it over a medium heat.  I have a sandwich press that I like.  It seals the edges and the sandwiches look nice, but it is a total bitch to clean because the plates aren't removable.  You can also use a grill pan with a press if you have one of those ((I'll put a link at the bottom if you decide you need one and I know you probably do)) or you can always just use a frying pan and smash the damn thing the old fashioned way.

Butter the two slices of bread on one slide.  Flip one piece over and "butter" it with the pesto.  ((My name is Jules and I'm a pesto-holic.  I seriously love that shit.)) Layer that side with the tomatoes, the basil, and then put the mozzarella on top.  Quick tip: slice your tomatoes as thinly as you can so that they actually warm up.  I hate it when there is cold crap inside a hot sandwich.  That might just be me though.

Carefully transfer that piece of bread to the pan.  ((Hopefully the mozzarella on top will keep you from spilling the contents.)) Grab the other slice and put it butter side up ((I don't know how elementary some of y'all might be.))  Smash it.  You can use the grill press if you have that, a smaller pan, or even a spatula.  But seriously, smash it down.

Let it cook for a couple of minutes, or just until when you peek at the bottom side, it is getting golden brown.  Flip it ONCE and toast the other side.  The cheese should be melty in another two minutes.

Cut it diagonally because that is the correct way to slice sandwiches.  If you do it up and down into "halves" I'm not going to talk to you anymore.

Melty Mozzarella

Nutritional Info:  Let's call it about 400 calories, but this will depend on the type of bread and the amount of butter, pesto, and cheese you use.  Not the lightest thing in the world, but that's okay.


In other news, my margarita chicken recipe was linked on Healthy Living Blogs' Wednesday Barbecue Recipes.   Some of the other recipes look good too.  Check them out.

In an act of shameless self promotion, if you are looking for a grill press or any other kitchen-type stuff, contribute to my pesto fund by shopping here, would ya? I started doing this primarily to earn free kitchen stuff for my ventures. To date, I have earned over $1,200 in free stuff, so help a girl out. Cookware is expensive.

What else? We managed to get temporarily suspended on Twitter which I found hilarious. I suppose most people wouldn't think so but I thought it was awesome. You can follow me to see if I manage to do it again... The sidebar should have a link. Username is @julia_steele. In further shameless self-promotion, you can always "share" these posts on social networking sites using the buttons below too. Please and thank you and have a lovely day.

I think that's all for today. I'm entering a fiction contest and I can't wait to get to work on it before I need to redirect my attention to the private cooking lesson I'm giving this Saturday and to the party I'm doing on Sunday evening. GOOD TIMES. My "work" is better than your work.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Shrimp Fried Rice, Ice Baths, and Yes, I'm Alive

Yes, yes, yes, I am alive.  Call off the search party...  What is odd though is that once I hadn't posted in a few days, I found myself not knowing how to resume.  So, I will just start.  That's probably the best way.

This weekend, I got the Asian pack from the co-op.  Unfortunately, I was in a hurry to unload everything because I was headed out of town, and failed to store things the right way.   A lot of stuff was just stuffed into the fridge.  Whoops.  So today when I pulled out the huge bunch of celery, it almost folded in half it was so limp.  It was pretty comical and I could actually hear a cartoon-style wilting noise as it happened.  Luckily, I knew how to revive it...  Ice bath.

If you have lettuce, cabbage, green onions, or celery that has wilted, it isn't garbage.  It can be brought back to life with an ice bath.  If you live in a cold climate, sometimes it will be sufficient just to run it under really cold water.  If that doesn't work or if you don't have cold tap water like we don't in Arizona, then you can give it an ice bath.  There are a couple of different ways to do it.  You can submerge it in a bowl of water with ice cubes for a few minutes and it will perk back up.  You can also get a little more drastic and cut off the end, submerge that end in the water/ice cubes ((think of it like putting a flower in a vase)), and watch it come back to life.

I had some leftover white rice, so I opted to make shrimp fried rice.

What you need for 2 main course servings or 4 side servings:

12 large COOKED shrimp, peeled, deveined, and tails removed

2 large eggs
Kosher salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 bunch scallions, chopped
1/2 of a small onion, chopped
1 tablespoon of peeled and minced ginger
4 stalks of celery, chopped
4 cups of napa cabbage, chopped
1 cup of shiitake mushrooms
1/4 cup of chicken broth
3 tablespoons of soy sauce
1/2 tablespoon of red pepper flakes
3 cups cooked white rice

What to do:

Start by marinating the shrimp in a little bit of soy sauce and the red pepper flakes and set aside.

Whisk the eggs in a small bowl with a little bit of salt.  Heat one tablespoon of the olive oil in a saute pan.  Add the eggs and let cook for one minute, without stirring, until it is almost set.  Flip it over and cook on the other side for about 30 seconds,  Remove to a cutting board and slice into strips.

Add the other tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and add most of the scallions, setting a few aside for garnish, the onion, and the ginger.  Let cook over a medium heat for a few minutes, until they start to get tender.  Add the celery and saute for about a minute.  Add the cabbage, the shiitakes, and a little chicken broth and allow it to steam and wilt, about 3-4 minutes.

Add in the shrimp, rice, and some additional soy sauce and stir until heated through.  Finally, add the egg back in and stir it around.  Remove to the plates and garnish with the remaining scallions.

**Obviously, you can add basically any veggies that you have to this...  Carrots, snap peas, or whatever.

Nutritional Info:  About 350 calories and 10 grams of fat as two main course servings.


I will be wittier tomorrow...  I'm still recovering from the long weekend.  Add in the 108 degree heat and I'm spent.  I feel like the celery.  Maybe an ice bath would help me.