Monday, October 31, 2011

Lemon Thyme Bulgur Risotto with Asparagus

I need to tell you something. But you have to promise to not get mad. Ok here it is: my tomatoes are looking gorgeous and going nuts. I realize it is the end of October and those of you who can feel winter coming on may read this as a bit of braggadocio, but seriously the reason I have to tell you this is because I'm so proud of my garden and my exceptional tomatoes.

One thing you must know is that it is notoriously difficult to grow tomatoes in Hawaii. My theory is that it doesn't get quite hot or dry enough most times, leaving the plant susceptible to bugs and mildewy type funguses.

There are no mildewy type funguses on my tomatoes and the fruit itself is about the size of my fist, by far the biggest maters I've grown in my little plot.

I've also been scoring lately with big bunches of asparagus from the garden, plants I've babied and coddled for going on four years. They are finally repaying their mommy. So I said to myself, self, let's cook some risotto, shall we?

Lemon Thyme Bulgur Risotto with Asparagus
serves 4

1 TBL olive oil
1 TBL butter
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups bulgur
4-6 cups water or veggie stock
salt & pepper
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 lb asparagus, cut into bite-sized pieces
juice and zest of 1 lemon
2 TBL fresh thyme, or 1 tsp dry
parmesan cheese

In a heavy pan, heat the olive oil and butter over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook about 5 minutes.

Over a separate burner, warm the water or stock over medium-low heat.

Add the bulgar to the pan with the onion and toast for 2-3 minutes. Add some salt and pepper and the garlic, too. Begin slowly adding the the water/stock one soup ladle at a time, stirring occasionally. You will know to add more liquid when the bulgar has absorbed what you added before. You don't have to constantly stir, but you can't walk away from the stove either. The whole process takes 20-30 minutes and you may or may not use all the liquid.

You will know when the bulgur is done by it's creamy texture. Taste it, it will still have a very slight crunch, similar to oatmeal. What I'm trying to say is that it won't be completely soft, like rice. When the bulgur is done, add your asparagus and cook maybe 2 minutes, or until bright green. Now add your lemon juice, zest, and thyme and more salt & pepper to taste.

Top with fresh grated parmesan to serve. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Dinner for Two: our week in food

Saturday: Roasted eggplant bruschetta

Sunday: Udon noodle soup at Lemongrass Bistro. Love that place!

Monday: Roasted kabocha squash with lemon butter thyme lima beans and thick slices of wheat bread from the farmer's market. I have a secret love for lima beans. Am I alone on this one?

Tuesday: Costco cheese pizza topped with eggplant. Gourmet to the max.

Wednesday: Lemon-thyme bulgar risotto with asparagus. Can't wait to share this recipe!

Thursday: Baked potatoes smothered in roasted garlic and cheese. Been doing a lot of roasting this week, maybe the oven needed a workout.

Friday: Zucchini "pasta" with roasted garlic cream sauce. Deadly.

Saturday: Pasta with chard, mushrooms, and goat cheese. Farmer's market score!

Highlight of the week: heading to the farmer's market in Waimea for lots of lovely island treats.

Honeycomb ginger flowers

Lilikoi juice

Teri steak for D and veggie lau lau for me! 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Hash Browns for Dinner

Stuck in a rut? First, listen to this: Joy the Baker podcast. Then, make yourself some hash browns for dinner. Shutterbean is my constant inspiration! Third, make the hash brown fill the entire pan and then (try to) flip it. This type of challenge is good for your brain. And your wrists. Look at that giant hash brown!

Never made hash browns? Don't be afraid, it's quick and easy and your belly will be happy. Oh and it's fun to flip them in the pan. Did I mention that?

Hash Browns
serves as many as you like!

grated potatoes (as many as you need to feed your household, 1 per person if this is a main dish)
grated yellow onion (onion to potato ratio should be 1:4)
olive oil
salt & pepper

After grating onion and potato, mix them together in a small bowl with a little olive oil and some salt & pepper with your hands.

Place a cast iron pan over medium-high heat. Slap some hash in the pan and brown in for 6-8 minutes, flipping once browned.

Top with avocado, tomato, a fried egg, hot sauce, whatever sounds good.

I dare you to make a giant hash brown! Enjoy!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Zucchini "Pasta" with Walnut "Sausage"

No, this isn't real pasta or real sausage. It's even better with tons of healthy deliciousness. Come on, get healthy!

As I mentioned before, my husband refused to admit this tasted like sausage, but in the same breath he said it was one of the best dishes I've made. Healthy is to delicious as win is to win.

 I must admit, I've very jealous of all the fall posts filled with beautiful colors and recipes. What I wouldn't give for a trip to Vermont right now!

Zucchini "Pasta" with Walnut "Sausage"
Inspired by Shutterbean and Choosing Raw
serves 2

2 medium zucchinis
2 TBL olive oil
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 garlic cloves, chopped
2/3 cup walnuts, chopped
1/4 cup fresh sage, chopped
1/4 tsp red chile flakes
salt & pepper
1/4 cup grated fresh parmesan

Boil a pot of salted water on the stovetop. While the water is heating up, make noodles out of the zucchini by slicing them up with a vegetable peeler. Boil the zucchini for 2 minutes then strain and set aside.

Add the onion and olive oil to a pan over medium heat. Cook until transparent then add garlic and chile and cook a minute more. Add the walnuts, sage, salt & pepper and cook until heated through.

To plate, add some sausage to your pasta and top with grated parmesan. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Baby Lu'au - Monster Style!

My nephew Parker is one! A baby lu'au was in order.

Look at this incredible cake his momma made for his monster party.

He dove right into that cake, but got a little freaked out by all the people laughing.

His big brother was worn out.

This little girl is a master of pinata candy-gathering.

Even Dustin got into the spirit!

My siblings and their sig-o's. We make a pretty good clan!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Dinner for Two: our week in food

Saturday: Leftovers from my nephew's first birthday party, including my lemony pasta salad and my sister-in-law's amazing baked beans.

Sunday: Zucchini "pasta" with walnut and sage "sausage." Genius! Although Dustin wasn't fooled and refused to admit it tasted of meat. Recipe coming soon.

Monday: Veggie burger at Bubba Gump. Not a fan, but am perpetually forced to eat there due to my brother's employment at this establishment. Also celebrated my nephew's birthday (yes, again, yay!) with our family's traditional lamb cake.

Tuesday: Awesome pizza at Kona Brewing Co. Yes, again. Having guests in town is a pretty good excuse.

Wednesday: Chips, Nutter Butters, and French Fries at girl's night while watching (part of) Bad Teacher. Not a film I'll recommend but stress-eating junk food after a hard week is a practice I will recommend.

Thursday: Asparagus and avocado pasta a la Martha Stewart. Dustin loved this one. Next time I'll add some lemon juice.

Friday: Black bean tacos with avocado. It is the start of avocado season y'all! My favorite food.

Highlight of the week: making a fort at the beach with my nephew.

Went crazy at the farmer's market today, can't wait to share what I've been cooking up. Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Backpacking Bliss

Here's a fact: I love camping. Backpacking to be exact. Last week I escaped with my friend Rachael into a not-so-well-known valley for a little adventuring.

To get there, you gotta repel down a steep grade on ropes tied to the trees.

And in a place where you'd least expect it, a house. It reminds me of The Animal Family. Did you read that story? I half expected to find the hunter and his mermaid living there.

I won't tell you how long it took us to start a fire. But hey, it was windy, and we eventually got it going.

We found lots of treasures.

And of course I packed healthy meals. It was part of the detox. Remember that?

Ahhh. Sweet escape.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Dinner for Two: our week in food

This week I am in deep cooking mode trying to figure out my Signature Dish for my MasterChef application. One of my goals before I turn 30 is to try-out for a reality TV show. Therefore, October is Signature Dish month, can't wait to share what I've been creating!

Saturday: Roasted eggplant tacos with asparagus and avocado salsa. Signature Dish possibility.

Sunday: Fresh tombo ahi (albacore tuna) steaks with stir-fried buckwheat noodles, broccoli and chard.

Monday: Duck at the new Sam Choy's in Keauhou. Meh, we were expecting better. But, this was still a really fun night (my make-up date).

Tuesday: Seared albacore with roasted eggplant and arugula salad, balsamic sauce, and tapenade. Signature Dish possibility.

Wednesday: Roasted broccoli pasta dressed in olive oil, garlic, and olives. Signature Dish possibility.

Thursday: Store-bought cheese tortellini with asparagus and tomatoes.

Friday: Wild Mushroom and Puna Pie pizzas at Kona Brewing Co. with my folks. They are visiting from Washington!

Blog Action Day: Let's Talk About Food

I am proud to be taking part in Blog Action Day OCT 16 2011

At the beginning of this year, January 1st in fact, I went meatless. This was not due to wanting to save animal lives, or lose weight (in fact I think all the cheese has added to the old waistline). Really, I wanted to do more to preserve the environment. Composting just wasn't cutting it for me anymore.

The truth is, I'm an Oregon girl at heart. And Oregon people are full-on tree hugging, trail hiking, scat identifying, one with the Earth types. Full-on. And so it just became too difficult to justify my frozen chicken breast consuming ways.

Not only that, but after reading Julia Child's My Life in France and all of her wonderful descriptions of chickeny-chickens I realized that I'd never in my life had fresh chicken, and that wasn't going to change anytime soon due to what's available in my local grocery stores. Julia's fervent appreciation of food got me to pay more attention to what I was stuffing in my own mouth. And the reality is, flash-frozen chicken breast tastes like crap. So does the vast majority of grocery store meat. I don't like to eat food that tastes like crap. So I don't.

That is not to say I will not eat meat ever or that I'm above cheating. You can call me a meat cheat if you want as my will-power is sometimes too weak to resist a SPAM musubi. If I can get my hands on some locally caught fish, the best is from the guy who sells it on the road-side, I'm totally game.

See what I'm getting at here? I'm just trying to do my part for the environment.

Not convinced or not ready to give up meat? There are so many other ways you can do your part:

-Write your own post about food.
-Get inspired. Get informed.
-Boycott high fructose corn syrup.
-Plant something. Anything.
-Compost your food scraps.
-Feed a kid in need. 
-Buy and eat local.
-Try not to waste food.

This rant is done! Thanks for reading.

Friday, October 14, 2011

This Broccoli Soup will Change Your Life

Want a creamy soup without the cream? You can have your soup and eat it, too because I have a life-changing tip for you.

Replacing the cream with a potato makes the soup creamy without the fat. Boom.

Does it taste the same? Hell no. Cream does not equal potato. But, it does taste great and you won't miss the cream.

Broccoli Soup
Serves 4

2 TBL butter
2 TBL olive oil
1 1/2 lbs broccoli
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped or a handful of baby carrots
salt & pepper
3 TBL flour
4 cups water, or vegetable stock
1 vegetable bouillon cube (omit if using stock)
1 potato, chopped

Melt butter and olive oil over medium high heat in a soup pot. Add onions and saute for a couple minutes, then ad broccoli and carrot and lots of salt & pepper. Saute for another few minutes, until onion is translucent. Add the flour and cook about 1 minute or until flour begin to brown very lightly.

Add water, cube, and potato and bring to a boil. Simmer, uncovered, about 15 minutes or until broccoli and potato are soft.

Pour, in batches, into a blender to get a creamy, delicious soup. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Cool Your Jets with Hot Tea

I'm dating someone. He's handsome and manly and we've been married almost five years.

We've been in a bit of a relationship rut, you know the kind: I make dinner, we eat it, we watch some TV, lights out. Inspired by the Joy the Baker podcast on this very topic, I decided it would be a great idea for us to go on a proper date. Arrangements were made and I was stoked.

And then he stood me up. For real. Like totally forgot about our date until it was too late to go out and I finally broke my secret mad silence. He of course promised to make it up to me, blah, blah, blah.

So I waited until 4pm today, by the phone, hoping and wishing that he would ask me on a date. Which he finally did. After which I made myself some damn lavender tea to relax after being thrown back into dating anxiety land.

Moral of this story #1: dating is rough, I forgot how hard it is and I appreciate all you single ladies who are still fighting the good fight. I mean that.

Moral of this story #2: if you are in dating land some herbal tea will really help you cool your jets. Seriously. Lavender is a known stress reducer.

Add a few fresh sprigs or a tablespoon of dried lavender to a tea pot or French press and allow to steep in hot water for a couple minutes. I also added lemon verbena to my tea, but do what you want. If you can get ahold of fresh herbs, this is definitely the way to go. There is a distinct sweetness and specialness to fresh herbal tea.

Chill out! Drink some tea. Have a date with yourself because you matter.


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