Thursday, June 7, 2012

Strawberry Afternoons

How's this for a nice afternoon snack to curb the afternoon blood sugar crash? A handful of sliced strawberries, yogurt, and a sprinkle of chia seeds and chocolate chips on top.

That's all I've got for now. Work is keeping me pretty busy and my stress level has been higher than it should be lately, but that will soon taper off and things will be more manageable. Pullman's experiencing major June Gloom (worse than I can remember from San Diego!), and hopefully it passes soon!!!!!!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Kale Walnut Pesto

Each week when I open my CSA box I find a bunch of kale. These ruffled green leaves are still a challenge for me. I like broccoli, and this is another brassica I should have no trouble sauteing or boiling and eating plain, but for some reason that's intimidating. Instead, I look for recipes, feeling perpetually confused about how I'm going to cook with kale. Everyone recommends kale chips. I'll try another batch at some point, but the first I made turned out so poorly I'll continue to avoid repeating that experience for awhile.

The same day that I found the Almond Joy Layer Cake I also came across this recipe from Rachael Ray for Kale Walnut Pesto. Knowing I had a package of tortellini in the freezer that was in need of cooking, I decided this pesto recipe was exactly what I was looking for. It was great the night we made it, and it's made great leftovers for lunch in the days since then. I highly recommend you give this recipe a shot--it'll definitely help you use up any kale you may not know what to do with! Along with being good on pasta, I'm thinking this could make a good sandwich spread...

The pesto requires:
"1/2 bunch kale" Make a judgement call here--I was using baby kale, and the bunch was significantly smaller than what I'll be getting as a bunch when the weather warms and the crop has grown a bit more. I'd say this was about 4 loosely packed cups of kale leaves. Discard the stems and coarsely chop the leaves.
1/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted on the stove at medium heat until fragrant.
1 clove garlic, chopped (You may be temped to add more. Don't.)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1. Cook the kale in a large pot of salted water until tender, 4-5 minutes. Drain in a colander and rinse with cold water. Use the kale water to cook your pasta. The pasta is up to you. Something with a bit of texture will hold the sauce better. 1 pound will do.
2. Squeeze the kale to remove excess water. Put kale, walnuts, garlic, and Parmesan into your food processor. Process until almost smooth, adding salt and pepper as desired.
3. Slowly add olive oil to kale mixture with food processor running.
Voila! You have kale walnut pesto! Add to your pasta, add some extra cheese if you like, and enjoy!

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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Mushroom and Bean Tortilla Casserole

I'm blogging with a belly full of beans and mushrooms. Dinner for today was this super easy casserole, thrown together from flour tortillas, kidney beans, mushrooms, salsa, and cheese. The photo might not look like much, but it's one of the most hearty, filling meals I've prepared for myself in quite a while.

2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
3/4 pounds cremini mushrooms, trimmed and quartered
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 can (15.5 ounces) kidney beans, drained and rinsed
4 medium flour tortillas. Leave one whole, halve 2, and quarter the last.
1 1/4 cups (4 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 1/2 cups salsa

It's fast and easy!
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Heat oil and saute onions until soft. Add mushrooms, turn heat to medium high. Cook until mushrooms are browned, stirring often. This should take about seven minutes.
3. Add garlic and cayenne--try not to dump the cayenne directly on a mushroom or you'll get a very spicy bite later! Add salt and pepper as desired.
4. Add kidney beans, stir to combine. Cook until beans are warmed through. Remove from heat.
5. Arrange 2 tortilla halves, and 2 tortilla quarters to cover the bottom of an 8x8 baking dish.
6. Top tortillas with half the bean mixture, 1/2 cup salsa, and 1/3 of the cheese.
7. Add another layer of tortilla and repeat this process.
8. Top with one whole tortilla, 1/2 cup salsa, and the rest of the cheese.
9. Cover with foil and bake until center is warm--about 10 minutes. Then remove foil and bake for about 5 minutes longer, until cheese is bubbling.
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Sunday, May 27, 2012

We baked a cake

The three day weekend meant my friends had time to make the drive from Seattle to Pullman, so Selena, Kara, and Keith have been over to visit! Yesterday Selena and I attended the Kendrick Locust Blossom Festival in Kendrick, Idaho. Kendrick has a population of around 300, and while many people come in from the nearby towns, it was definitely a small town affair! We watched the parade, then strolled in the park and looked at the booths.

On the way back into Pullman we started getting excited about cake. I'd come across a recipe for an Almond Joy Layer Cake a couple of days before and thought it could be interesting to try, so we gathered the necessary ingredients and got started!

The recipe comes from Rachel Ray Magazine, though we didn't follow it 100%, so I'll give you a breakdown.

For the cake batter you need:
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2/3 cup water
1 stick (4oz) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
3oz (about 1/2 cup) semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 packed cup sweetened shredded coconut

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Oil and flour two 8x2 cake pans (or 9 inch since that's what we had...).
Boil the water in a medium saucepan. Whisk in cocoa powder until smooth. Whisk in butter and chocolate over low heat, until melted. Remove from heat and whisk in 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar, 2 tsp vanilla, and 1/2 tsp salt. Whisk in 1 egg at a time; beat well after each addition.
In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Pour in chocolate mixture, incorporate until smooth. Add coconut. Pour batter into two prepared pans, and bake in the lower third of the oven for about 35 minutes.
Cool in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes, then remove and cool completely.

Now, once the cakes are cooled most normal people would cut them in horizontally in half into two layers. Because we had 9-inch pans, our cakes were a little thin for that. Instead, we cut each round in half and stacked the four half circles we were left with to make one very tall cake. In the picture it looks like we made a completely cylindrical cake, but that's not quite it... only half!

To frost the cake, we departed from Rachel's recipe and did our own thing. Toast 2 cups sliced almonds in your 325 degree oven for about 12 minutes, then let cool. We used a store bought whipped cream frosting, and just mixed about 2 cups of coconut, and 1 1/2 cups of the toasted almonds with only 2/3 of the frosting. This mixture was put between the layers, and on the very top of the cake. What was left without coconut and almonds we used to frost the outside for an attempt at a finished look. :)
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