Sick but still Hungry

Well, Santa brought me a cold for Christmas, that old jerk.  Wednesday was my first day back to work after a lovely week in Savannah, Georgia with Preston and his family.  His aunt and uncle were the most welcoming and fun people, and his aunt is a gourmet chef to boot.  We enjoyed 4 days of wine, good conversation and great food.  What a wonderful way to spend the holiday!

At work yesterday, I was a bit foggy in the head from the cold and not very hungry at all.  But then at three PM hunger struck like a bolt of lightning.  I could only think of one thing – BBQ tofu pizza.  So at 5pm, I picked up some whole wheat pitas and a small hunk of cheese and headed home.

The ingredients are simple: Whole Wheat Pita, Tofu, your favorite BBQ sauce, fresh spinach, cheese and red bell peppers.

The process is easy.  Turn your oven to 350 and toss the pita in.  In a pan, crumble and cook the tofu, then add the BBQ sauce and simmer.

Pull the pita out of the oven when it’s crisp, then layer it with your tofu, some shredded cheese and chopped peppers.

Stick it back in the oven for a few minutes, enough to let the cheese melt.  Finally, top with fresh chopped spinach.  I like to put it in the oven for a few minutes to let the spinach warm up and wilt a bit.

The finished product looks something like this:

This simple dish is good with a nice glass of chardonnay.  Hopefully you’re better at opening wine bottles than I am.

Hate when that happens!

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Wednesday’s Song

A good angry, but not really angry song.

 

Pecan Sandies

I made my Grandmother’s Pecan Sandies for a holiday cookie exchange at work.  She’s been making these for over 50 years and they are a really special treat for me.  (And quite easy to make!)

Pecan Sandies by Barbara Ruble

1 C butter, softened
1/3 confectioners’ sugar
2 t vanilla
1 T water
2 C flour
1 C chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 300. Cream butter, sugar, vanilla and water. Slowly add flour until mixed well. Mix in nuts thoroughly, form into 1″ balls and place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 20 minutes until delicately brown. Cool 5 minutes on pan, then roll in confectioners sugar while still hot. Cool on cookie rack completely. Enjoy!

What is your favorite holiday cookie?

Geekery

According to NPR, this is what the moon is going to look like tonight.  I can’t wait! 

Here’s a link to tonight’s schedule for the Lunar Eclipse.

Enjoy, my fellow earthlings!

Spicing Things Up

Well, now that the BG and I are living together, we decided it was time to spice things up…

with a new magnetic spice rack!

Okay, this was entirely my project as I’ve wanted a nice, aesthetically pleasing way to organize the spices I use for cooking.  Yesterday brought a major apartment organization project, as we still had some bags, boxes, etc from Preston’s move lying around.  With him busy organizing his things away, I jumped at the project of clearing out some shelving and drawer space in the kitchen.

If you’ll notice – I have 4 empty jars I’ve yet to fill.  I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below about what spices you think every cook must have!  I need some ideas…

It wasn’t a cheap project with four racks totaling $60, but I couldn’t be happier with the result.  It’s nice, clean and modern looking, and not only gives me easier access to things while cooking, but it cleared up an entire cabinet shelf for other usages – which is huge in a small apartment!

Below my new spice rack, you’ll see some tofu cooking.  I continued the spicing things up initiative by assembling a curry.  I say assembling, because I used sauce from a jar.  Lame…or easy & delicious?  You decide.

I cooked some cubed tofu with sliced carrots, then added the sauce and let it simmer for 5 minutes or so.  When I was about ready to eat, I added some partially cooked peas for the remaining 5 minutes.  Adding them at the end ensures they aren’t overcooked and still firm.  And, you know I’ve gots to add the green!

I ate my entire (ahem, two) bowls before I remembered to snap a picture.  Fortunately Preston is a slower eater.


While I always enjoy curry, there wasn’t quite enough sauce for me.  I probably would have liked to use a jar and a half just for some extra sauce to soak in the rice.  Maybe next time!

I also have to brag about Preston’s decorating skills. He had a wonderful idea to move a chest I had into my closet into the living room and put my beautiful $20 thrift store mirror on top to add some more dimension to the room.  A few candles and flowers later, it was straight Pottery Barn Chic, y’all.  Bravo BG!

Here’s a view of  how it looks in our little loving living room, complete with a cameo by the big guy.  I’m a happy little bird in a cozy little nest!

In other news, Friday is the one year anniversary of my blog!  What should I do to celebrate?

Tex-Megs: Spinach & Sweet Potato Enchiladas

I’ve been wanting to experiment with different types of Vegetarian Enchiladas recently, and with my (chef) brother coming in town to go to a Nuggets game with me, I had the perfect opportunity to get creative. I decided to try to make them with ingredients I already had in the fridge, which included Spinach, Avocados and Sweet Potatoes. Here’s the result!

I like to peel, chop then steam my sweet potatoes because it’s fool proof, and they cook really quickly .

It’s always important to have snacks on hand while cooking.

BG bought us a econo-sized bag of fresh spinach this week.  Mmmmm sexy!

After steaming my potatoes, I pureed them and was ready to start rollin’ them up with my sauteed spinach.

In order to get your roll on with a minimum amount of frustration, heat  bit of oil in a pan and cook each tortilla for about 20 seconds on each side.  This will get them soft and ready to roll up.

Everybody get your Roll on!

I couldn’t resist sprinkling some feta cheese on top. (Which I subsequently learned does not melt) Here’s a close up of the filling.

I popped the tray in the oven at 350 and got to making the sauce – tomatillo salsa with a few fresh avocados.

What I learned during this process is that the Enchiladas should be smothered with sauce before they go in the oven – this helps keep the tortillas soft.  They came out pretty crunchy, like taquitos, but still tasted good.

I would have liked them with some spice, so next time I’m thinking I’ll add some hatch chiles to the sweet potatoes, and stick to a green chile topping.  All in all, a success for the first time out though!

Fashionable or Drunk?

I saw this necklace yesterday on someone else’s blog and I completely love it. 

2 thoughts pop into my head:

1.  Is it wrong to buy yourself something a bit extravagant 8 days before Christmas?

2. Am I a drunk?

California Dreamin’

Preston and I went to LA this past weekend for one of his friend’s wedding.  It was my first time to Southern California, and my second visit to the state all together.  (My dad took me to San Fran when I was 10)  Needless to say, I was really excited about meeting some of his friends and enjoying 80 degree weather.

We got in super early and started our day off with a really delish breakfast from Martha’s Cafe in Hermosa Beach.  I was so hungry I forgot to take pictures!  I had a breakfast quesadilla and the big guy had a really delish Medeterranian Tofu Scramble.  I ordered a whole grain pancake to share, but ended up being a total hog and ate the whole thing before BG could get a bite.  You snooze, you lose BG!  After breakfast, we hit the road to Laguna Beach.

I jumped for joy upon first sight of the ocean.

We bummed around town with Preston’s buddy Cameron, had a few beers and a coffee, then sat and watched the sunset.

Laguna was gorgeous!

 

After the sunset we headed up to Laguna Niguel to Cameron’s house for dinner and shenanigans.  I’m just realizing that I took NO pictures of the BG and all of his Mission Viejo High School  Buddies.  In California terms – Bummer Dude.  We had a fun night of talking, poker, and endless Coors Lights.

The next day, it was off to Temecula for the wedding.  It was gorgeous and so much fun, so I’ll just get right to the good stuff.

Sam & Carla

It was really fun to meet some of Preston’s soccer buddies.  Nate was my favorite!

We took advantage of the open bar and had one, two, three Malbecs before dinner.

We also made one, two, three trips to the cheese and olive snack table.

 And then enjoyed another California Sunset

We spent the rest of the night drinking Stellas and dancing.  There was also some major man love going on.   Here’s Preston & the Groom – AKA Sam the Man!  They love each other – just look at those big smiles!

The next morning, we woke up and decided to take advantage of being in wine country.  Upon the advice of one of the Big Guy’s buddies, we went to South Coast Winery.

We bellied up to the bar and were lucky to be served by a really personable and patient bartender.  We told him it was our first trip to a winery, and not only did he spend a lot of time talking us through choices, I’m pretty sure he hooked us up big time. 

We had purchased a total of 10 tastes, which were signified by poker chips.  Well, our bartender would only take a chip every 3-4 pours, so when we had 4 chips left, we had to call it quits.

I passed out fell asleep in the car on the way back to the South Bay.  We were told stories of how people go on these multiple winery tours.  I don’t know how they do it – I’d be a drunken mess!

We stayed at Casa Marsch in Hermosa that night, and I woke up early to go for a run along The Strand.  I finished just 2.5 miles but ran one of the fastest miles in my life in 7 minutes, 52 seconds.   It was such a thrilling and positive experience as I wasn’t even trying to run faster, I was just motoring along with a big goofy grin on my face, enjoying the scenery.

After my run, and another Tofu Breakfast from Martha’s, we decided to visit Venice Beach before heading back to LAX.  It was totally touristy – full of shops selling junk.

The locals were a lot more colorful than in Hermosa, so the people watching was pretty good.  There were also lots of people out being active – surfing, playing handball or basketball, or working out, so we stopped to watch/participate for awhile. 

I participated by playing trainer.  Here’s BG in the middle of my “Lift! Then Hold! Now Crunch!” move.   Looks tough!

On the way back to the car, we happend upon the Venice Canals.  It was such a cool little area!

I had to take one last California picture.

Then, it was straight to LAX for a sleepy plane ride back to Denver.  Oh, but only after listening to 2 hours of very loud Christmas Music in the Airport.  Really Los Angeles?

Wednesday’s Song

I love love love this song.

Big Guy Eats

The big guy is back in town, and not only is he super fun to be around, he’s fixed the grill and has been cooking up my favorite side dish (GRILLED ASPARAGUS!) with regularity.  Swoon!

All you need to do is just chop up your veggies of choice, toss them lightly in olive oil, salt & pepper, then grill for 10 minutes or so.  Yes, I know grilled broccoli sounds a little funky, but trust me – it’s amazing.  These veggies are good with everything!

I also have made Shrimp Fra Diavolo for the first time which turned out to be really spicy thanks to my heavy hand with the red pepper flakes.  But that aside, it was a really easy dish to make, and super affordable at about $10.

Just toss 1lb of raw shrimp with salt and saute until done in a bit of olive oil.  Set the shrimp aside.  Add a bit more olive oil to the pan, then saute half of an onion and 2 cloves of garlic.  When the onion and garlic become fragrant, add 1 140z can of crushed tomatoes and simmer.  I added a bit of vegetable stock to extend the sauce, but white wine would be a good option as well.  Add the shrimp and crushed red pepper to spice.  Simmer 8-10 minutes to let the sauce thicken . 

Serve over linguine or your favorite pasta.  Don’t forget some crusty garlic bread for sopping up any extra sauce!

It’s nice to have the big guy back (for many reasons) but my favorite is when we work together in the kitchen.