Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Earthly Desires

Happy Earth Day all!

The skies have been mostly blue here in Seattle, and that means it has been time for sipping cocktails and using the grill (without having to use all of the rain gear)!

Recently I had a chance to try three tequilas from Casa Noble-their Blanco, Anejo, and Reposado. As an added bonus to spur my culinary whims, they sent a gift card for Whole Foods. Tequila and food?! Yes, please!

With Earth Day in mind, I wanted to stay as sustainable, go organic, and stick with non-GMO products. The great news? Case Noble fits that bill.

So knowing that Earth Day is a great chance to live sustainably, as well as to get outside and enjoy the sun, I put together a tasty menu to celebrate spring and all that is good with Seattle:

Welcome Drink:
The Mariposa, made with Casa Noble's Anejo Tequila

Main Dish:
Gulf Prawns, sustainably caught, marinated in lime, cilantro, scotch bonnet pepper and Casa Noble's Blanco Tequila.

Main Course Drink:
Bloody Maria, with house made organic veggie juice and seasonings, local bacon, and organic house made pickles made boozy by Casa Noble's Reposado Tequila.

Do I have your attention? No? How about some tasty eye candy and recipes? There you go, now I have you!  Read on!

I know, right?

Lets continue with the recipes!
The Welcome Drink, the Mariposa, 
Combine 2 ounces of tequila- I used the Anejo
1.5 ounces of elder flower liquor
2 ounces of blood orange simple syrup
the juice of one lime
1/2 of a large, very ripe grapfruit
Add seltzer to taste
Gently shake to combine
Coat the rim of the glass in vanilla sugar, and pour this delicious cocktail into your pretty glass. Enjoy with a side of great company and sunshine!

Round Two-The Bloody Maria
2 ounces Tequila-I used the Reposado (more if you like a heavy handed drink)
2 cups (approximately) Veggie Juice (I blended carrots, tomato, kale, beets and celery, and garlic to make mine, but you can also make your own with whatever veggies you have, or go easy and get something pre-made!)
Horseradish to taste
Pepper to taste
Worcestershire sauce-two hearty splashes
Hot sauce to taste (I like tapatio)
Splash of seltzer to thin it out a bit
-Shake your main ingredients up
-Coat the rim of a glass with a combination of smoked salt and chili powder, and garnish with your fave treats. I used:
Pickles (I make my own, so I have them on hand)
Bacon, delicious bacon...there's no recommended maximum, but you should include it!

Oh yes...so good.

And for the main course: Spicy prawns, marinated with tequila blanco, cilantro, lime and garlic; served of whole grain wild rice with organic bell pepper and black beans.
1 cup wild rice (Bluebird Farms makes a great one), cooked.
1/2 cup organic black beans
1/2 organic bell pepper, diced-your choice, keep it raw, or saute lightly with garlic and olive oil
1/2 lb shrimp or prawns-our prawns came from Whole Foods, and were sustainably caught in the gulf (also tested for contaminants)
The marinade:
1 lime, juiced (about 2 Tbspns)
1 hearty Tblspn Blanco Tequila (and a drink for you, dear chef!)
1/4 tspn smoked paprika
1 tspn olive oil
1/8 tspn fresh ground pepper
1 pinch kosher salt
1/4-1/8 scotch bonnet pepper (depending on how spicy you like it)
Mix all the ingredients for the marinade, and add prawns, letting it all meld together in tasty goodness for 30 minutes. 
Sip one of your delicious cocktails and preheat your grill
Place the prawns on the grill and cook until they start to curl up and are no longer translucent.

Place shrimp over your rice, sprinkle with beans and bell peppers, topping with cilantro and hot sauce. Sit back, sip your cocktail and enjoy!

Thank you again to Casa Noble for the opportunity to try out the fun spirits!  Now, dear reader, it's your turn!

What are you cooking and drinking?

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Oh grains...you make me happy when skies are gray.

I LOVE meat. I LOVE bacon. I love rich, tasty foods that comfort.

Last night, I didn't want any of that. I wanted a light and easy to throw together meal that packed a punch with protein and fiber and well, tasted good.  It's also been crazy cold here, and I want it to be spring since I miss those fresh, bright flavors. As I wandered around Trader Joe's, piece by piece my meal came to me. I found my trusty Trader Joe's cooked French lentils in the refrigerated area, and headed over to the pasta/grain area for the 10 minute farro.

I'll pause here.

What is farro? It's an ancient grain, with a higher protein level than other grains. It cooks up fluffy, has a slightly toasty note, and when paired with beans (or in my case lentils), packs a punch to keep you full. Sorry folks, it's not gluten free.

Back to Trader Joe's-I grabbed a small package of grape tomatoes, and some feta and made my way to the register. I was ready to cook!  A note-this is a relatively cheap recipe, but if you buy your farro in bulk and get dried versus cooked lentils in bulk, it becomes crazy cheap, like cheaper than a college kid's ramen budget.

Ready to give it a try?  Read on!

~Why Can't It Be Spring Salad~
Serves 2 as a main course, with plenty left over

Red wine vinegar, 1/3 cup
Olive Oil, a good long drizzle
Crushed oregano-1/2 tspn or more to taste
pepper, to taste
a small palm-full  of green olives, sliced
2 big hand fulls of grape/cherry tomatoes (or diced regular tomatoes)
Handful of onion, very thinly sliced strands
1/2 of a cucumber
1-2 cloves of garlic, finely minced or pushed through a garlic press.
8 ounces of cooked lentils, cooled
Half of a bag of Trader Joe's 10 minute farro (5 ounces, dried), cooked and cooled
Feta-as much as you like
Juice of 1/2 lemon
*Note: There's no added salt here. Between the olives and the feta, I was happy without it, but if you like your salt, add it in!

-I hate biting into oregano that is still dried. To remedy that, mix 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar and 1 tablespoon of olive oil to your oregano and let it sit while you prep everything.
-If you're using uncooked lentils, you'll want to start those now
-Cook your farro according to the directions on the package
-Chop your onion, olives, cucumber, tomato and garlic and add to a large bowl.
-Add your pepper and your olive oil, vinegar, oregano mixture.
-Once your lentils and your farro are cooked and cooled, add these and mix together. The goal is to have a fair amount of everything, so you get a bite of tomato and cucumber with every spoon full of grain/lentil mixture. If you would like more of something, now's the time to add it.
-Add your feta to taste-if you like a lot, go for it!
-Give your mixture a good toss and drizzle in more of the red wine vinegar and olive oil. You should only need another 1-2 tablespoons of both. You want a nice light dressing that coats everything, so go slow on this step.
-Spoon into a bowl, squeeze a lemon over the whole thing and enjoy.

It's even better when left in the fridge overnight, as the flavors will have a chance to meld, so this is definitely something that can be made ahead of time (although, I would wait to add your feta, so it doesn't get all squishy).



Saturday, January 18, 2014

Guest Blogger! Nikki schools us on making bread!

I. Am. So. Excited.

My old neighbor and fellow homesteader, Nikki, from For the Love of Homesteading dropped by to school us on a simple favorite-bread. Oh...the smell of fresh baked bread-there's nothing like it.  Nikki shares my passion for good food, great times with family, and just like me, works to live as sustainable as possible-growing veggies, canning food, reducing preservative-based foods.  We had no idea how much we actually had in common until after she moved away from Seattle. We keep up with each other via Facebook and emails, comparing notes on child-rearing and talking about food.

I'm so excited that she started a new blog, so I can follow what she's up to and drool. Read on and enjoy-and when you're done, go to her blog and check out her post on butter! Thanks, Nikki!

Hello Awesome Blog Readers!! My name is Nikki and I am a (previous neighbor) of the fabulous Miss Raina. Unfortunately I hadn't discovered Raina's fabulousness until AFTER I moved out of Seattle but here we are and better late than never right??
Anyhoo, Raina knows that I am constantly posting new culinary adventures and asked if I would be interested in contributing to her awesome blog! How could I pass up such an opportunity?!?

One of the foods that I am absolutely passionate about is Bread. I love bread. Like REALLY love bread. And all kinds of bread. My favorite food of all time, I would say, would have to be toast. Simple right? But that's just it. Good food....like truly well made food....doesn't have to be extravagant. A slice of quality made bread, toasted lightly with just a pat of grass-fed organic butter....That is heaven to me.

In my house we make all our bread from scratch. A lot of people look at me cross eyed when I tell them that. Who makes bread anymore?? I do, and it really doesn't have to be intimidating. I make two kinds of bread on a regular basis for my family: Sourdough and crusty white. I'm going to share with you one of my favorite recipes for crusty white bread; it’s super easy and doesn't even require a kitchen aide. All you need is a Dutch oven (or heavy oven safe pot with lid preferably cast iron).

Crusty White (no knead bread)


3 cups white unbleached all purpose flour
1 3/4 tsp salt (I use kosher salt)
1/2 tsp instant yeast
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup warm water (to activate yeast)


1.) Activate the yeast in a bowl with 1/4 cup of warm water. Let that sit for about 5 minutes. Whisk together flour and salt in a large glass or ceramic bowl. Once the yeast has gotten nice and frothy, add the yeast to the flour as well and mix.

2.) Slowly mix in 1 1/2 cup water. This is going to look nice and shaggy after it is all incorporated. That's what its supposed to look like so don't worry.

3.) Cover with saran wrap and let sit for 12-18 hours. Set on counter and walk away. Work DONE. Do not stick in the fridge. This needs to rise. All that's left to do is bake!

4.) The next day it will be nice and "wet" looking. Stick your dutch oven with lid (or pot with lid) in oven and preheat at 450 for 30 minutes. While your oven is preheating, lightly dump your dough onto a HEAVILY floured surface and shape into a circular loaf. Mine always looks circular-ish lol but I think it just adds character. Let bread rest until oven is done preheating. Once 30 minute preheat has completed, CAREFULLY dump your your bread into dutch oven, replace lid and bake for 30 minutes.

5.) 30 minutes has completed and.....remove lid. I know it totally looks done but just wait. Now, with lid removed, continue to bake another 15 minutes. You will not regret this. This is what gives the bread that nice crust!

That is IT!! Awesomely simple right?! You can also change up your bread a bit and add fun mix-ins when you are mixing the flour with the salt and yeast. Add cheese and your favorite herbs for a nice artisan bread; the possibilities are endless!! Good Luck!!