Sunday, April 15, 2007

A weekend of Venetian Plaster

Our friend, BH, offered her knowledge in a technique called Venetian Plaster a few weekends ago to beautify our bathroom. After two full days of work, four coats of plaster, a batch of mac and cheese and a little pad thai, our bathroom was completely transformed. The work was well-worth how gorgeous it turned out. Thanks, BH - we love it!

Here's a before and after picture:

Spicy Cucumber Noodle Salad with Edamame

It's been awhile...I know. I've definitely been trying out new recipes over the past few months but I just didn't feel that inspired to post. It may have been that I was worn out from my new job (btw, I'm back at my old job again with a new found enthusiasm...and perhaps more time to blog!). Also, between all of my recently discovered food allergies, I guess I was finding cooking a little less fun and a little more of a chore. So I needed to shake all that in order to get back into the groove. We'll see where this goes...

The weather was awful today; I'm sure it was awful in your neighborhood too wherever you may be. So it was a perfect day to stay indoors and cook. I cracked open my Cooking Light magazine on drive to a restaurant last night and found a rather simple noodle salad recipe that had my name all over it. So today, my husband and I set to work on this for a quick lunch and were pleasantly surprised.

Here's the recipe (From Cooking Light):

8 ounces uncooked soba (buckwheat noodles)
1 cup frozen shelled edamame (green soybeans)
1 cup diced English cucumber
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
1/4 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
2 teaspoons white miso (soybean paste)
1 teaspoon low-sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon chile paste with garlic (such as sambal oelek)
1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
1 1/4 cups fresh bean sprouts

Cook soba in boiling water 2 minutes; add edamame. Bring to a boil; cook 2 minutes. Drain; rinse with cold water. Drain; cool. Place soba mixture in a bowl. Add cucumber and onions. Combine mayonnaise and next 5 ingredients (through oil); stir with a whisk. Pour over the soba mixture; toss well. Top with bean sprouts.

We tend to avoid mayo at all costs but the mayo was a nice balance with the chile paste. If you hate mayo, there's some really good recipes online for tofu-based mayo which tastes pretty similar to the real thing and more importantly provides the needed texture. Next time, I think we'd cut the sauce mixture in half; the noodles were pretty drenched with the mixture and probably unnecessary calories were brought into the equation. Also, I think I'd make an extra effort to aquire the bean sprouts to have that needed crunch. Sadly, our local Harris Teeter only had about 10 bean sprouts to purchase totaling a mere $0.05. We have leftovers for lunch tomorrow which my husband is convinced will even be tastier cold. He loves his cold leftovers.

It's a keeper.

Oh, here's my current blog crush: 28 Cooks
I have yet to cook a recipe from here that I didn't love. Make sure to check out all the hummus recipes!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

New Potatoes and Red Bell Peppers in Fresh Green Curry

The thing I love the most about Thai restaurants is the vast array of curries. Unfortunately, I seem to never be able to bring the love to my own kitchen. I've tried out a few curries over the years and either ended up with too-firey-to-even-get-hint-of-flavor curry or a bland-watered-down-bore-me-to-sleep curry. I must admit - they have all been derived from some sort of paste, powder or package in a language I don't speak. When my friends, LS and FK, came to visit over the 4th of July and brought The Curry Book in tow, I was so impressed by the curry recipes that I thought I'd give making curry another whirl. On Saturday night, we invited our friend, RB, over for coffee from our new Senso coffee maker and dinner. I'm just happy that we can finally offer our friends coffee and not directions to the nearest Dunkin' Donuts. For dinner, we tried out the New Potatoes and Red Bell Peppers in Fresh Green Curry Recipe. Here's a quick summarized version of the recipe:

1 lb new potatoes, quartered
1 red bell pepper, julienned
2 tablespoons shallots, chopped
1 tablespoon garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon ginger, chopped
2 fresh jalapenos
3 tablespoons plus 1 cup water
3/4 cup cilantro
1 can of coconut milk
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup fresh basil

The recipe basically calls for blending the curry ingredients into a pasta and mixing it with the coconut milk. The potatoes and red bell pepper simmer in the curry until the potatoes are fork tender. Top with basil and cilantro.

Overall, I think we all enjoyed it. The curry recipe was the right consitency, right level of spiciness but needed a little more of a flavor punch. Maybe a little extra ginger? Or maybe something not called for in the recipe like lemongrass? But with a little tinkering, I think the curry could be a household standard. However, there's way too many yummy-looking recipes in this book to try this recipe again for awhile.

Side note - when I searched to find a description of The Curry Book for the blog, I ran into a limited preview of the book on Google Book Search. Sure enough, the one recipe they have in its entirety is this recipe. So cook it up and let me know what you think! :)

For dessert, we wanted to attempt to be healthy. I think we ended up with a version of healthy. My original idea was to pick up fresh strawberries, whipped cream and those pre-made crepes in the dairy/fruit area of the grocery store. No luck. The strawberries were furry and cost more than the last tank top I bought and crepes were no where to be found. Then we ran into nutella...and it all changed. I think I've had nutella before or at least I seem to have some preconceived taste memory associated with it. So we compromised and found a pack of puff pastry (yes, that's when it became a version of healthy) and bought bananas and nutella for one option and raspberries and cool whip for the other. Thus, Puff Pastry two-ways emerged...

The nutella was so good that the next day AC made a sandwich with nutella, bananas and cool whip. tee hee...

One random thing before I close, I am in the process of getting allergy testing. Last week, I had phase I which I like to call the side dish round and today, the main dish round. I'm shocked how many foods I'm allergic to. I really only went to the allergist so I could be treated for my allergies to cats but I'm really happy now that I'm doing the whole set of testing. So far, I'm apparently extremely allergic to soybeans, lettuce, malt and navy beans with lesser allergies to corn, cane sugar, onion, pork and orange. I'm such a weakling - it's time to start shopping for a human-sized plastic bubble :(

Sunday, December 10, 2006

All settled in

I just wanted to show all of you a few more pictures now that we have been living here for about a week. We are still waiting for our storage bin so please excuse the piles of junk.

Thanks for everyone tolerating us saying our famous phrase "when we move into the condo..." over the past few years. I'm sure some of you were thinking this condo thing was all in our head. If you aren't convinced by the pictures that it actually exists, come visit us! Or just come visit us anyway!

Ok, now that we are all moved in - I'm switching gears pretty much back to cooking. :)

My friends, AS and her husband, gave us a cook book titled "The Curry Book" that I had mentioned around July on my blog. Thanks! I plan to make my next post about one of those yummy-looking recipes in that book. But for now, I must fill my brain with complex math until my final on Thursday.

Stay Tuned!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Time to move!

Since we have tortured all of you with stories of our condo over the past few years, I feel you are owed an updated. Our closing went well (ok, let me rephrase - it ACTUALLY happened), our keys worked and after a late night of packing up the last remaining things, we are all ready to move! The movers come at 8 - so I'm up now since they have a reputation of being nortorious early.

I hope we can get back to life as usual and start cooking up some interesting dishes soon!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

crowns over my hammy

Crock pot pulled pork!

Thats right, you heard me! I loooooove pulled pork, but for those of us who don't happen to have a smoker handy, a crockpot does the trick preeeety well. Its really easy too! Just get a piece of pork shoulder or pork butt stick it in with some onion and bbq sauce and hot sauce, crock pot it on low for 8 hours and BLAMMO. pulled pork. I made some Cauliflower mash to go along with it and temper the heat from the pork. Here's an estimate of what i used.

Pulled pork
4 lb pork shoulder
1 bottle KC masterpiece spicy bbq
3 tbsp chile pepper
1 tbsp salt
1 large onion cut up

Cauliflower mash
1 large crown of cauliflower
1/4 cup milk
2 tbsp butter
1/4 cup chipotle cheddar
salt & pepper
cook caulilflower until tender, drain, puree, add other ingredients and mix until blended.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Ok, let's try that again...

Today, we had our official preliminary walk-through of our condo. Overall, we are really pleased and can't wait to move in! We are scheduled to close on Friday, December 1 and move in Saturday, December 2. Keep your fingers crossed! Enjoy the pics!

First view into the condo from front door

Our cozy den

View of the kitchen from the family room (contractor not included)


Family room from balcony with TV ready for many hours of Montel viewing pleasure

Kitchen (already equipped with a dimmer switch! :) )

Kitchen view from family room


View to the north of Washington Monument and exciting office buildlings

View of Route 1 North

View to the east of the Potomac River and National Airport.

View to the west of Skyline and picturesque water-treatment facility

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Today's condo walk-through

...of not our condo. Unfortunately, when AC and I arrived for our walk-through today, the lead sales woman informed us that our walk-through had been rescheduled. Apparently, they sent us a letter (just checked the mailbox - no letter) and left a message probably at my old job. Geez. Apparently, people were either getting 5 phone calls informing them about the change and other people like us heard nothing. So I pulled out my pathetic smile and asked sweetly if we could just go over to the building and take a peek. So we got a walk-through of a - one floor below ours. Here's a few pictures just to give you a taste.

The lobby - they are still painting so no judging on color...yet!

Elevators on the first floor

First view from the front door - we got all wood floors instead of carpet and tile

The kitchen - we got black granite and slightly lighter colored wood cabinets. Love the recessed lighting!

Family Room with background views of DC

View from the balcony via the bedroom - if you squint, you can see Washington Monument. We will probably have that view for a year or so.


Bathroom - the only room that should look exactly the same.

Our walk-through will be sometime next week instead. oh well. Time to see Borat!