Tuesday, July 24, 2012

I (might) Need an Intervention...

  As many of you know (and can sympathize) I am addicted to the wonderful, time absorbing hobby that is Pinterest.  If you're not on Printrest I would say that you should count yourself lucky, but that would be a lie. As much as I sometimes hate myself for spending hours on this amazing site, I also find some of my favorite crafts, recipes and tricks for around the house here and I wouldn't give it up for anything.

   Not on Pinterest?  Ask for an invite.  All ready on Pinterest?  Follow me!

   I have literally hundreds and hundreds of pins and I love Pinterest so much that I have decided to start sharing some of my favorites with you here.  You've seen the Broccoli Pasta fiasco (delicious mess that it was) and that came from a Pin I have on my Food I Need to Make board. I'm hoping just sharing from one board at a time or so will have it feel like less of an overload, so here are a few of my current favorites from my Pinterest recipes:

  These cucumber rolls seemed a little tricky to me for the bridal shower I was throwing, so I just made the filling, which was delicious with a host of fresh veggies for dipping.

  I have made these amazing crostinis as appetizers and for my lunch many times and they are always a big hit!

  I use this as my go to Chicken Piccata recipe and it is one of Joe's favorite dinners.

   I have over 157 recipes and food ideas pinned to this board and I have another entire board just for desserts!  (Can you see how Pinterest really brings out the OCD in me?  I love it!)  Now if only I had time  and the pantry to actually cook some of these recipes I would really be in heaven.  :)

   Do you have a favorite Pinterest recipe?  Which recipe that you've pinned are you most excited to try, but haven't yet?

Monday, July 16, 2012

Adventures in Gardening

   I think tomato plant is my new favorite smell. The lush, green, new smell of the growing plant is something I'm finding hard to put into words, but if I had to I guess I would just say "summer".

   I've been trying my hand at container gardening this year. Four medium pots just out on the steps leading to our little yard. Unfortunately my initial attempt was not as successful as I had hoped. Our little yard is very shady. Good for keeping the temperature in the apartment down, but not so good for growing my little plants. There seems to be just enough morning sun for my tomato, oregano and strawberry not to die, but not enough for them to really thrive.

   I also started too early. Apparently May was way too ambitious of a start date for potted plants in Seattle. The weather simply refused to cooperate and my first attempt at basil died within only a few days. I quickly moved the tomato and strawberry into the house (the oregano was miraculously fine), but then again there was the problem of not enough sun even though they were in front if the glass sliding doors. Eventually I started carting then out to the curb on mild, sunny days in the hope of relieving their anemia.

   My efforts must have been just enough because it is now mid-July and I currently have one tomato and one strawberry flower to show for all my efforts. The oregano is doing fine. I bought another basil at Trader Joe's and simply left it in the container I bought it in and that hasn't died (yet). I also have a surprise. On a whim I took some old looking garlic cloves and put them in the pot the original basil plant had been in and they have actually sprouted!

   I love the idea of a kitchen garden, but I'm really glad I only tried growing a few things in pots this year. Perhaps, if we move, I can try something a little more elaborate next year or maybe just a few more pots.  How's your garden doing?

Do you see the one, tiny tomato flower?!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Hiking Mountains and Glacial Lakes

   Sunday Joe's friend Steve invited us out on a hike.  Joe and I were thrilled at the idea (we have been meaning to get outside more) and so that morning Steve, his friend Russ, Joe and I all jumped into Steve's car to start our hiking adventure.

   We drove out into the Cascade mountains for what we were told was a "beginner" trail, or maybe we were just told that there were beginner trails, but not necessarily that we were going to be on one.   We were originally going to hike to Snow Lake, but that trail was still covered in (you guessed it) snow.  So instead we hiked the Ida Spring trail up to Mason Lake.  We packed up our water and put on our sunblock and hiking shoes (Keens for me, Vibrams for Joe and Steve) and started up the mountain.

   Here are a few things that I learned on my way up:

     1. It does actually get hot in Washington.

   I was actually beginning to doubt this, what with June's weather being most aptly described as June-uary, but I does get quite warm here in WA.  Everyone had promised that July 5th was the magical day when summer arrives and so far, they have been absolutely right.  Also, once you get over the mountain pass you actually end up in a very arid/dessert like section of WA, which is something I keep forgetting about since I live near the sound.

     2. Bring more water then you think you will need.

   I should have remembered this from living in an area that gets into the 90s all summer, but I guess I sort of spaced out, because Joe and I only brought one Nalgene a piece.  Luckily, Steve was well prepared with extra water for all - go Steve!

     3.  The view is worth it!

This was actually taken on my Iphone using a free app called DMD that takes panoramic photos.  You can just make out Mt. Rainer in the photo, but in real life it was stunningly present.

   Once we had reached the summit, we then hiked down into the forest and to Lake Mason, which was actually my favorite part.  I've never been to a glacial lake before and the water was exactly what I expected and needed after our long hike up the mountain.

Lake Mason aka the prize at the end of the trail.

   The water was refreshingly freezing on my calves as I soaked up to the knees.  More adventurous hikers actually jumped in (and quickly jumped back out), but I was content with simply soaking my legs to the point of numbness.  The water was crystal clear and the Snickers that Steve handed  out really hit the spot after the long hike in the sun.  If you look closely at the picture you can just make out some snow still clinging to the slopes.  

   The hike back down was actually really relaxing after the hike up and the respite at the lake.  All in all the trip took several hours, 9ish miles, 200-something flights of stairs and burned 3,367 calories!  (stats courtesy of Russ's pedometer).  Afterwards we were starving and went out to BBQ at Stan's in Issaquah, which was really good.

   I feel like I've now been hit with the hiking bug!  I can't wait to do it again and I hope that next time we pick a trail where Bear can go too.  We actually saw a couple of small dogs on this trail, including a dachshund; however, since it was out first time hiking we left Bear at home.  

   One last pretty picture from the hike:

Have a great day everybody!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

How (Not) to Make Broccoli Pasta

   So last night I saw this amazing Pin on Pinterest for Broccoli Pasta.  I was really excited because:

 1. I love pasta.
 2. I really like broccoli.
 3. I am trying to put more fruit and veg into my diet.
 4. Joe doesn't like broccoli, but he -might- like this.

  So I decide to try making it for lunch today.  I had some time on my hands and was feeling energetic, so I thought, "why not?".  Famous.Last.Words.

  Now I want to say up front that this does taste amazing and you should totally make it, just not the way I did.  Here's why...

   First off, I don't own a steamer basket.  I know that they're not very expensive, I just don't have one.  "No problem,"  thought I, "I'll just use this strainer over a pot of water".  Little did I realize I should have put a lid on my impromptu "steamer" and also the lids don't fit with the strainer on top, so it took for-eve-er to steam the broccoli.

  Then I went to prep the garlic and this is what I found:

  Unbeknownst to me, my garlic had been sprouting in the bowl I keep it in on a shelf.  Luckily not all of the garlic I had in the house had sprouted.  I'm not sure why, but I feel like you're not suppose to eat sprouted garlic.  Since I couldn't remember why, I just cut it in half and took out the sprouted part in the middle.  

  Then it was time to start putting everything together...   This recipe requires one pot for steaming broccoli and -at the same time- another for cooking your pasta and a saute pan for putting together the ingredients for the sauce and cooking the broccoli again.  Then, it all goes into a food processor... right...

I promise I will clean all of this up as soon as I'm done with this blog post...

   So I made it through cooking the pasta (no problems there) saving a bit of the pasta water, moving the broccoli to the saute pan after sauteing the garlic in olive oil and so now I'm on to the last bit, the home stretch, the food processor!  Oh wait, I don't have one of those...  Improvisation number 2 (3?)

(This is what the broccoli sauce looks like after you have blended it for a long time with a stick blender)

   Hurray for stick blenders!  So at this point I have a literal sink full of dishes and a few dirty pots still on the stove, but it tastes delicious,especially with lots of pecorino-romano cheese (after all, who doesn't like cheese).  

   So here it is!  Broccoli pasta with shredded pecorino-romano cheese:

   There is a fair amount of olive oil (and cheese, but that's just me) in here, but I feel like the health benefits are still pretty high considering that, that is a giant floret of broccoli in there. 

   So here's what I'll do differently next time (because there most definitely will be a next time):

   1. I will not cook the pasta until the broccoli is done.  You don't need the pasta water until you're ready to put everything in the food processor so I can still saute the broccoli with the garlic and olive oil while the pasta cooks.  This is mostly because I don't like room temperature pasta and it took me too long to make the sauce.

  2.  More garlic!  I love garlic, so this is kind of a no-brainer for me.  I will also check my garlic before heading off to the grocery store just in case it has gone native without my noticing.

  So that's it.  I hope you enjoy making and eating this fantastic dish!  I hope your family does too!


P.S.  I actually started typing this blog post while I was eating the pasta, which basically means I left it on the table until it got cold after just a few bites, so I can also say that this pasta is tasty reheated in the microwave for a few minutes.  Yay leftovers!  :)

Update:  Joe tried it and liked it.  We both agree it needs a few edits, mostly of the more variety (more salt, more garlic and a little more lemon).  Score one for broccoli pasta!  Also, I have eaten all the leftovers, so I will have to try and make it again soon.