Summer Cocktails: Palomas

Last Friday I was listening the radio on my way home from taking the dog to the Beltline and was delighted to find out that it was National Tequila Day. I felt confident it was a made-up (i.e. fake marketing) holiday but I also felt that it would such a shame not to celebrate it! Plus, it was my last week of teaching for the summer term (which has been a serious sprint: five weeks to teach writing and multimodal communication! It was fun but I was excited to be done.). Thus, it seemed like the stars had aligned for a tequila-oriented celebration.

After many years of not drinking cocktails, due to anxiety about what the alcohol contained (in terms of allergens) and the fear of feeling terrible after, even after only one drink (again due to allergens), I’ve recently rediscovered tequila and experimented with margaritas. I’ve been totally delighted to find out that with good ingredients and less sugar, I wind up without a hangover after a couple margaritas. This has been great news for me because I love margaritas–especially with the salt rim–and my birthday is Cinco de Mayo and so I’ve missed celebrating with an appropriate and festive drink pairing.

Image-1For national tequila day, I wanted something a little different though. So, I poked around the internet and found Palomas and a lovely recipe from Bon Apetit. I made one key change to the recipe, switching out club soda for grapefruit flavored bubbly water and then slightly adjusted the rest a bit too. For the palomas, all the ingredients were fresh squeezed, which meant I finally bought myself a small juicer (which cost me $5 and has already payed for itself in usage. I can’t believe how long I’ve waited to buy one–like 5 years.).

Mine didn’t look as pretty as the Bon Apetit ones, but they were so good and refreshing and felt very celebratory. Inspired by the drinks, we had burrito bowls for dinner (with cauliflower rice as a base), but that’s a different post. All in all, it was quite a delightful success and I’m so grateful to National Tequila Day for providing the motivation/inspiration.

The Recipe: Palomas

This combo will make 2 medium-sized palomas. Take a grapefruit wedge and rub the rim of each glass and then rub sea salt on them. Then, squeeze the grapefruit and lime into a container and pour half of the juice they produce into each glass. Add a pinch of sugar to each and mix it all together. Then, add the tequila and the grapefruit bubbly water to fill the glass. Add a couple cubes of ice and toast away!

  • 1 grapefruit
  • 1 lime
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 1 shot of tequila
  • Grapefruit-flavored bubbly water

Sunday Ingredient: Okra

As a kid growing up in California, I never had heard of okra much less tried it. The first time I ate it was (I think?) in a friend’s gumbo and my first reactions were (sad to say) a little confused and not terribly supportive of the weirdly slimy vegetable. But! Then, I moved to the South, made my own gumbo for the first time, and came quickly to realize how delicious and amazing okra truly is. Plus, it is super good for you as it is packed with nutrients, high in fiber, and Image-1 2high in antioxidants. Until tonight I had only used frozen okra and it turns out (perhaps unsurprisingly) that the fresh variety, which I found this morning at the farmer’s market (the lovely Sunday one in Grant’s Park) is worlds (!!!) better.

Finding okra at the market this morning inspired both tonight’s meal and a new cooking project: finding a new-to-me ingredient at the farmer’s market each Sunday and building Sunday’s dinner around that ingredient. I’m hoping that it inspires a lack of boredom in the cooking department and helps me branch out and learn new things in the kitchen arena.

For tonight’s meal, I looked up a bunch of fried okra recipes and then took what I learned and modified the recipes to be gluten and corn free (getting rid of the cornmeal was sadly key for me as I have to avoid corn). The results were super exciting and delicious and both of us were IMG_2185sad that all the okra was gone and in our tummies. I used eggs, seasoning, and garbanzo bean flour (my fave of the gluten free variety) and cooked everything in a cast iron pan. Then, to go with the fried okra, I sautéed up some greens (a cool spinach from the farmer’s market, whose name is escaping me. But, the awesome guy at the market stand let us taste the spinach before buying it, which was so fun.) and made some quinoa as a base to throw it all on top of. For a little spice, I added some green tomatillo salsa from TJs.

I love (love!) fried food and cannot wait to make fried okra again.  I am fully converted from a blithely unaware and unappreciative-of-okra Californian to a major champion of the slimy (and IMG_2192supremely healthy) veggie.

The Recipe: GF Fried Okra

First, chop the okra into 1/4 inch pieces and then rinse it all off. Then, throw the newly rinsed okra in a bowl with the flour, egg, and seasoning. Make sure the okra is all evenly coated! I saw some recipes that used a big ziplock to do this but I just tossed it all around with a fork in the bowl I was using. Then, heat the oil (I just olive oil as my staple) in a cast iron pan and once it is hot, throw in your dough-covered okra. Cook on medium heat and let it brown and then flip it over until the second side browns. And, done. Snack away.

  • Fresh okra (about a 1 cup … but I wish I had had more!)
  • 1 cup garbanzo bean flour
  • 1 egg
  • Salt, pepper, garlic powder, and a pinch of smoked paprika (all to taste)

For the greens, I just sautéed spinach with garlic, sea salt, pepper, and onions. Between the greens, the garbanzo-bean encrusted okra, and the quinoa, the resulting dinner was a southern-inspired meal chock full of protein and salty goodness.

For the Love of Cauliflower

Summer in Georgia is HOT. Like, really hot. And, humid. As a result, cooking anything seems to make me just feel hotter. I love roasting things from chickpeas to potatoes and beyond but that just feels far too heat-producing these days. At the same time, I’ve been experiencing salad-boredom, a condition I routinely feel in the summer. Thus, I’ve been trying to brave the heat and hit the stove. Recently too, I’ve spend a lot of time experimenting with cauliflower, a vegetable that until recently I believed was my food nemesis.

When I was kid, I would refuse cauliflower at all costs, including foregoing desert. Then, I literally didn’t eat cauliflower until this last year. That is almost 20 years without even once considering cauliflower as an option. So, getting over my feelings was no small feat. The promise of rice, which I can’t eat the normal kind, was enough to begin my newfound love affair with the vegetable. Plus! Cauliflower is so good for you, which I hadn’t realized. Thus, once I got past the smIMG_2155ell (which is pretty weird), a whole new world of rice and tortillas and pizza crusts opened up to me.

So, tonight I was trying to figure out something to go with delicious steak we got yesterday (from the amazing Spotted Trotter) for a Sunday night dinner and had a cauliflower desperately in need of use in the fridge. In search of something that would combine the two, I found a recipe for Cauliflower Fritters with Avocado Lime Sauce, which looked easy (both the pizza dough and tortillas can be a bit time consuming and labor intensive for just an average day), delicious, and refreshing.

The recipe turned out to be amazing! I just made a couple alterations, switching out coconut flour for garbanzo bean flour (I use Bob’s Redmill), which I like more just broadly as a flour substitute. Then, I also added cilantro to the avocado lime sauce, which gave it a little more kick.

The final step was to make a spinach salad with apple cider vinegar and olive oil dressing (s&p to taste!). Then, I served up the fritters and avocado sauce with steak and a the salad on the side and garnished with cilantro. It turned out to be the perfect summer meal in two ways. The first was that it was not too heavy but still substantial and refreshing and the second was that it didn’t make me too hot while cooking (a major summertime plus).

IMG_2159One recommendation I will make: only cook cauliflower, when you can open the windows and doors, because (again) the weird smell. Hence, why the lone cauliflower had sat in my fridge all week (i.e. it had been way to hot to open any windows.) Luckily tonight was cool enough that between fans and open windows and doors, we could air out the house a bit, which made all the difference and resulted in delicious fritters, which I’m definitely making again.

The Recipe:

Cauliflower Fritters:

Rice the cauliflower and then cook for a couple minutes in a frying pan (with olive oil) with the lid on. Then, take the lid off and cook the rice for a couple more minutes. Then, remove the rice from the pan, put it in a bowl, and place it in the fridge. Once the rice has cooled off, add all the ingredients and mix them together. It should make an almost paste-like substance. Then, scoop a dollop (I just used a tablespoon) into the pan and let it cook until the first side browns, flip over and do it again. Make as many as the batter takes. Remove from pan and eat!

    • 1 head medium cauliflower
    • 1 Tbs. olive oil
    • 2 eggs
    • 5 tsp. garbanzo bean flour
    • Sea salt to taste
    • Olive oil for cooking
Lime Avocado Sauce
Blend everything together in a Cuisinart (or something of that ilk) and refrigerate for a bit before serving.
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 fresh lime (juiced)
  • Pinch of fresh cilantro
  • Salt and peper, to taste

Breakfasts, Birthdays, and Beyond

Yesterday was the BF’s birthday and while I gave him his present, we had to spend the whole day at my graduation. We had a lot of fun–including family, friends, beer, wine, sun, and snacks. Plus, we brought the pup and he is always good company. However, we didn’t have much time to celebrate his birthday and so this morning I thought a birthday breakfast was in order. I really like birthdays (not my own but everyone else’s) and I love making fun special meals, especially since I rarely actually make breakfast (I’m more of a lunch person).

In celebration of the BF’s birthday then, I made scrambled eggs, turkey bacon, and socca. All gluten free and all wound up being pretty delicious. The eggs were scrambled and had stir-fried onion, basil, and nutritional yeast. I cooked the turkey bacon in a little olive oil and salt and the socca was plenty oily and salty (which is how I love it).

It was pretty fun to eat breakfast together and hang out on a beautiful Portland morning. Plus, since school is out for the summer (for both of us), a big and celebratory breakfast was the perfect prelude to a relaxing and lazy afternoon after a hectic couple days (or year for that matter). I think I had forgotten how fun making breakfast is or even how nice it is to kick off a day with brunch. But there is something so lovely about starting the day with a meal, chatting, and having coffee.

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Dessert for Dinner: Chocolate Coconut Mousse

I’ve long felt that one of the best parts (maybe even then best part) of being a grown-up is having dessert for dinner. I realized this perk near the end of college when I was living with my best friend in Washington D.C. While we ate a lot of soup and rice and I imagine stir fry that summer, I have a distinct memory of eating many dessert-filled meals. It was my childhood dream come true–as much as I love vegetables, although I’m not sure that I loved veggies as much back then–where I wouldn’t have to finish my dinner before dessert.

Strangely in the last few years, my sweet tooth has–shall we say–lessoned, swung more towards salt (although, I’ve always loved salt) and all things salty. However, on occasion–and often on somewhat rough days–I still celebrate adulthood by having dessert for dinner. Today, was one of those days and so I decided to make a chocolate coconut mousse.

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Yesterday defense, Today Soup

Yesterday, I defended my dissertation (successfully!). It was a stressful but exciting two hours, which marked the culmination of six years of graduate work. Today, I was alternately exhausted, elated, confused, and sleepy. And so in the wake of my defense, we made soup. Specifically, the BF and I made tomato-basil soup and it was easy, delicious, and so very refreshing. Here’s the recipe: Quick and Easy Tomato Basil Soup.

Update: Socca + Salad

So the socca turned out to be AMAZING and so very delicious and light and just good. The first pic is the Socca (which I am now going to make ALL the time) sprinkled with sea salt. The second pic is my dinner: salad with the slow roasted tomatoes and socca.

photo 1

 

photo 2

 

Catching Up On Cooking: Falafel, Socca, Roasted Tomatoes, etc.

Recently, I’ve mostly just been posting recipes in order to remind myself of things I cooked and liked and will want to make again (like falafel and bacon chocolate chip cookies). In truth, I haven’t had much time or energy for cooking in the last year–save for regular things like stir fry (with tofu coated in nutritional yeast to make it fry up crispy) and salads–as I have been working non-stop on finishing my dissertation and grad school for that matter. Then, a few weeks ago after months of non-stop writing, I turned in my dissertation (which I defend later this week) and Oregon got sunny and I suddenly had more time and knew not what to do with it. Plus, summer always brings out the desire to cook in me.

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