Tag Archives: asparagus

Peanut Soba Noodles and a Confession

Well, make that two confessions.

The first: I’m not a great cook. I like food, but I don’t always know what to put together, or have the patience or skill to use the right techniques. I certainly don’t know how to make it look pretty in photographs. But I’m working on it. I’ve made some wonderful foodie friends recently who inspire me to be a better cook, and a better blogger.

But the real confession is this – I’ve been in a rut. I love to write, and I just… haven’t been. I love to work out, and I haven’t been making the time. I’ve been eating weird concoctions of snacks from the market downstairs for dinner, instead of trying new recipes or making old favorites. I live, literally, on top of a wine bar, and I haven’t even been to it. What is that about? I just haven’t felt like me. I have no real good reason for this rut I’ve been in. I have a good job, with people I like, one that sends me to London and allows me to work from home or charming coffee shops quite regularly. I’ve got good friends, really terrific ones. My family is great, cool and quirky, and they live nearby enough that I get to see them a lot. I have a cute apartment in an adorable neighborhood, albeit one that might be just a little too yuppie for me, after all. I live in a fantastic city, and have access to the most amazing food and fresh produce. I have a machine to make my own fizzy water (more on that soon) for Pete’s sake. Life is good, really good.

I think what it comes down to is change. Way too much change. In a very short period of time, I changed jobs, got my own apartment for the first time, moved across the city, and sold my car. For someone who’s never been great with change, it was a lot, all at once. My routine has been thrown off, and I can’t quite get it back. Oh, and did I mention I have a pretty big birthday coming up? Yup, it’s been a lot to take. I like my life, but sometimes don’t know how to process it all.

But, I’m trying to shake it. I’m tired of being in a rut, or using the excuse of being in a rut to stay in a rut. The weather’s getting better, and I have a lot to look forward to – yes, even that big birthday. I had a wonderful weekend, filled with friends and fresh produce and family and yeasted waffles, and it reminded me of how good life is. And how fun it is, when you’re open to it.

I may still not be a great cook, but I’m starting to figure out what I like. Like these peanut soba noodles I threw together tonight. I made Orangette’s recipe a few months back, and loved it, but decided to mix it up (literally!) tonight, not follow a recipe, and see what happened. What happened was good. I was inspired to add asparagus and tofu from this 101 Cookbooks recipe. So, tonight, I threw together:

1/2 cup chunky natural peanut butter
A few splashes of organic soy sauce
The juice of one small lime
The juice of 1/2 a Meyer lemon
A dash of white wine vinegar
A glug or two of olive oil
A generous dash of Sriracha

And whisked them together. Then, I cooked up half an 8 oz package of soba noodles for about 6 minutes, and added some chopped asparagus into the boiling water for another minute or two. I rinsed and drained the noodles and asparagus, added them to the peanut sauce, and threw in some thinly sliced carrots and radishes, strips of yellow and red bell pepper, and Super Firm Wildwood tofu, pan-fried in sesame oil.

It was really tasty, and so easy. Next time, I’d add some whole or chopped peanuts on top, like the 101 Cookbooks recipe suggests. But all in all I was pleased with how it turned out. I’m really thinking of going back for seconds. But I’m wondering if that feeling, like the rut I’ve been in, will pass if I just let it.

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Cookie Time

Gather round you friends of mine,
I’m Pretty Green Girl and it’s Cookie Time!

Sorry, had to throw a little Troop Beverly Hills in there. One of my favorite movies of all time! Who remembers it? I’m actually trying to figure out a way to play it for all my friends when we go glamping next month, but I can’t figure out how to do it without any electricity (15 girls gathered around a laptop might be too much). Any ideas? We’re not going to be close enough to the car to run power from it…

Anyway, as promised, here’s that cookie recipe I alluded to the other day! They’re kind of like halfway between a cookie and a muffin, with a bit of the taste of a thumbprint cookie (must be the whole stick of butter…mmm).

Strawberry-Blueberry Muffin Cookies

I started with this recipe for blueberry oatmeal cookies, but kind of just threw together what I had.

Preheat oven to 350

1 stick butter, softened
1 stick (1/2 cup) salted butter, softened
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Few splashes agave nectar
1 cups oat bran
1 cup white whole wheat flour
Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
Handful blueberries
Handful sliced strawberries

I totally forgot to cream the butter with the sugar – you’d think I’d never baked before! So here’s what I did, though it might not be the best method. 🙂

Mix sugar, flour and oat bran in a mixing bowl
Add the rest of the ingredients, minus the fruit and agave.
Add a little agave nectar, tasting the batter to make sure it’s sweet enough, but not too sweet. Be careful not to overstir so the batter doesn’t get dry or tough.
Add the fruit and stir to combine.
Bake at 350 on parchment or a Silipat (more eco-friendly!) or a sheet greased with butter!

They took about 14 minutes, but I set the timer for 10 and then just kept checking them. I’d guess it made about 22 cookies or so.

And they were delicious, if I do say so myself. Not exactly healthy (though whole wheat), but real butter is what makes them good! I think I’d experiment with cutting some of the butter and sugar in the future, but I was really pleased with how they turned out, and they were perfect for my family camping trip!

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Speaking of camping, how cute is my little brother? He’s 7 – big age difference, huh? He’s a half-brother. 🙂 Our campsite was just down the road from this great apple farm. Unfortunately apples aren’t in season yet – and I really wanted some because I LOVE apples – but they did have amazing organic apple juice and other apple products. And the old man working there was so adorable! You leave your money in a little cash box and take the change – honor system. I love that!

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After our last day of camping, my sister and I met my mom, who lives nearby, at a winery for a picnic. My Mom is an amazing cook and hostess and this picnic was fabulous, of course! We met at Toulouse Vineyards which had amazing wine. We actually went wine tasting the day before, and while I really liked those places a lot, Toulouse blew me away! I loved everything I tried – a Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, and two Pinot Noirs. I thought I didn’t like Pinot Noir, but I am slowly changing my mind, thanks to the Anderson Valley.

Anyway, here’s the Farmers Market-filled spread my Mom brought for us – organic baby carrots, farm-fresh deviled eggs, asparagus, LOCAL sea salt (amazing), sliced radishes (divine when sprinkled with said sea salt), wraps filled with hummus, havarti, roasted red pepper and roasted garlic (both of which she roasted), organic sparkling pear juice, and her first homemade cherry pie. YUM!

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Thanks, Mom!

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Check out that view!

So, what did you do this weekend?

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I Gave Peas a Chance…

And they exploded all over the microwave. Keep reading for the details. 😉

Seriously, though, I got a bunch of fresh peas from my CSA last week, and have made some absolutely delicious meals with them. Despite what some of my friends say (ahem, Jaime C. and Bethany), fresh peas are so delicious, especially with asparagus in a “cream” sauce, or in a walnut “peasto.”

2008_05_05-EnglishPeas
Image source

Pea and Asparagus Cream Sauce
This was so good, I made it two nights in a row. The second night, I sauteed red and orange bell peppers in with the asparagus. Also a winner. YUM!

You need:
Shallots
Leeks (you could use either/or but I like both)
Asparagus
Peas
Olive oil
Cream cheese
Butter
Milk
Parmesan (optional)

Wash asparagus and trim woody ends. Cut each spear into two or three pieces. Sautee in olive oil until they begin to soften, then add shelled fresh peas, until they begin to soften as well. Do not overcook, as you will be letting them simmer in the sauce later, but make sure they aren’t too raw either.

In another pan, sautee sliced leeks and shallots (to taste – I like a LOT) in a dab of butter until they begin to become translucent. Add a large spoonful or two of cream cheese, stirring or whisking until melted, then add approx. 1/2 cup milk (I used 1%). Whisk until sauce is smooth, then add asparagus & peas and let simmer. Add parmesan if desired. If the sauce starts to thicken while you are waiting for the rest of your meal to be ready, add a little more milk, heat and whisk.

Serve over a chicken breast. I like to sear it for a minute or two on each side, and then stick the whole pan in the oven at 400 degrees, for about 20 minutes, depending on the thickness of the breast. I’m sure it would be delicious over pasta as well. Seriously, the combo of asparagus + cream (or milk, as the case may be) + peas cannot be beat!

Walnut Cream “Peasto”
My friend Jen once watched an episode of Rachael Ray where she made a pea pesto and could not stop saying “peasto.” “It’s like a pesto… with peas! Peasto! Get it?” We get it, Rachael. Anyway, I looked up the recipe and didn’t have any of the basic ingredients on hand, so I just kind of winged it. I wanted to use pecans, but am all out – must have been that last batch of pecan butter. So walnuts it was! I also decided to make this a creamy pesto at the last minute.

You need:
Handful walnuts (could prob sub in pecans or another nut. Pine nuts would be great, too)
Shelled peas (about 1/4 cup)
Olive oil
Leeks/shallots
Cream cheese
Milk

To cook the peas, after shelling, I put them in a little water, and microwaved for a minute. This is where the explosion came in! They were popping like popcorn after only about thirty seconds. So, beware: cover the dish or cook for a shorter period of time!

In food processor, blend until combined but still slightly chunky:
Peas, cooked
Handful walnuts
Glug of olive oil

In a pan, sautee leeks and shallots in olive oil, add a spoonful of cream cheese until melted, then add milk (this is similar to the cream sauce above, but I used oil instead of butter, and smaller portions).

Combine “peasto” and cream sauce.

I enjoyed this over organic garlic-gorgonzola ravioli, but bet it would be delicious over chicken or fresh fish.

As you can see, my recipes are not exact. I like to taste and add – the only problem is when you find that perfect combination, you might not remember exactly what was in it!

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