Mashed White Beans with Olives and Herbs

I kind of go through phases where I really love a particular blog and make a lot of their recipes. Recently, my favorite is Closet Cooking, written by a guy named Kevin who lives in Toronto (and who has a closet-sized kitchen). When I saw this recipe on his site, I knew John and I would really enjoy it.

And enjoy it we did!
John and I both love olives, and you can sort of use whatever herbs float your boat. Thyme was a great addition, and ideally, I'd use both thyme and rosemary. Just like he says in the original post, it made our apartment smell wonderful for a whole day.

I also like that this recipe calls for what first seemed like an unreasonable amount of spinach. It wilted down, and while there's a lot of it, it's complemented by everything else in the dish and really adds some color.

Here's a link to the recipe on his site: Mashed White Beans with Spinach and Olives. This is another one that we're guaranteed to repeat.

Fish Tacos with Chipotle Tartar Sauce

One of my family's favorite restaurants in Fort Wayne is Cebolla's. They have all the Mexican standards, and I've never really had something there that was bad. Recently I became a pescatarian, and decided to try their tilapia tacos. They are THE BOMB!

Naturally, John and I wanted to try making these ourselves. A couple weeks ago tilapia was on sale, and the rest of the meal was fairly easy to put together.

Just like at Cebolla's, we served ours with slaw mix (just the veggies, no mayo) on the side (I squeezed some lime juice over it before we ate), and we added a big pile of cilantro. We also have some really fantastic (Loblaw's brand!) chipotle salsa, and it went perfectly with everything.

The fish is hiding beneath that blanket of slaw, cilantro, and salsa.

We used a couple of recipes for guidance, but this was a little bit shot from the hip. For the fish prep, we sort of took this recipe as a jumping off point: click here! The only things from that recipe we really did were to cut the fish into 2" or so pieces, marinate it in lime juice (just while we prepped everything else), and then pan fry it. This method was fast and perfect for what we were doing.

The thing we were most concerned with adapting was the chipotle tartar sauce at Cebolla's, and I think we did a decent job. In this case, we followed Martha Stewart's recipe entirely, and the flavors were perfect. Click here!

In order to have this meal two nights in a row, we bought 1 lb of fish (two 1/2 lb fillets) and had them wrapped separately. We made one the night we bought them and kept the other in the coldest corner of our fridge until we made it the next night.

These were so flavorful and easy, but they felt like kind of a fancy dinner for us. We'll most definitely make them again!


Coffee Table Decor

Something about the New Year makes me want to redecorate my apartment (it's not specific to this apartment, it happens every year). You have to take the Christmas stuff down and get back to work, even though it's still snowy and spring is literally months away. It's the time of year when I start putting on coconut-scented lotion and visualizing my happy place (Lake Huron...not that it smells like coconuts there, but you get the point).

Between the New Year fever and all the posts on Young House Love, I got the itch to find something aesthetically pleasing to put on our coffee table. Over Christmas it had a red table cloth and some votives. When those were gone, it was just bare and depressing.

Meanwhile, in the kitchen, I had two jars from Bulk Barn that I bought for housing cashews and almonds. Their latches were really bent, making them a pain to actually open. So instead of scrapping them altogether, I decided to remove their lids and latches (though they still have some metal on them that I didn't bother to take off) and put candles in them. Their bottoms are slightly round, so a candle doesn't just sit in them without some support. Enter a $5 bag of river rocks from Pier 1 (apparently cheaper in the U.S. - $3.50 - surprise, surprise). John asked afterward if I considered just getting rocks from the river in a local park, and I think I'll probably look into doing that in the summer. For now it's out of the question...way too snowy.

Anyways, after constructing my little jar-of-rocks-candle holder, I had this:

I moved the plant in from our office/spare bedroom, and added a couple of larger coffee table books/magazines, and I was pretty pleased with the result. The only thing that bugged me was the pot our plant sits in. I inherited this plant (and it's twin, now deceased) when my old voice teacher at IU moved to Boston. This plant could survive if I kept it in my closet, and I think it will do even better in all the indirect light the coffee table gets.

I digress.

I wanted to find a more modern looking pot for it, but I figured I might have to wait until stores like Home Depot start getting their garden stuff in. But no!

I found this little number for $5 at the grocery store. It was probably marked down because it had a few chips. To "repair" them, I used the Young House Love trick of coloring them in with a brown sharpie. If you get really close to the pot, and I pointed them out, you'd probably notice. But they blend in well! A cheap solution to what was cheap to begin with. I didn't feel bad about coloring on my $5 pot.


In transit.


I'm pretty pleased with how the pot has worked out. The light bounces off it really nicely when the candles are lit. And although I wondered if the plant would survive the move, it seems to be doing well.

The little mason jar is from some salsa that I bought at the church Christmas Food and Craft Emporium.

It's nice to light the candles and study in this room.

John and I have plans to paint the coffee table over the summer. He got it during college and it became a sort of fun thing for people to sign when they were at his apartment. Some of the messages are hilarious, but in general, we both feel like it's time for a change. Any color suggestions? We will also probably inherit some green curtains to put in that room in May (I hope!).

Baby Bok Choi, 2 ways

Baby bok choi is definitely John's and my new favorite food of 2011. They're so cute! Like American-girl-doll-sized bok choi.

We had them as a side for black bean burgers two nights in a row, and we tried a different method each night.

#1: Pan fried/steamed Baby Bok Choi.

Just throw some garlic and oil in the pan, add the bok choi, and then cover and steam until they're tender. We both thought this was pretty flavorful, and it's good if you only have a few minutes while something else is cooking (like those black bean burgers in the oven). Click here for the recipe I used as a guideline.

#2: Roasted Baby Bok Choi.

This method only took a few minutes more and we both liked it better than the steamed method. The leaves get nice and crispy in the oven, and the whole thing was even more flavorful (probably because of the addition of rice vinegar after they're done cooking). Click here for the recipe we used as a guideline.

Of course baby bok choi would be a great addition to any stir fry, and I'm interested in finding something to do with bok choi and tofu. They're also great as a quick green addition to any meal, and they don't cost much.

Broiled Grapefruit

Is it just me, or does it seem like winter will be here forever and we'll never get to go outside again?

I didn't think it was just me!

To combat the winter blahs, I've been eating a lot of citrus, especially grapefruit.

Here is it with a side of toast, slathered in dijon and goat cheese.

This preparation is really great because it only needs to be under the broiler for 3 minutes tops, and the cinnamon adds a lot of flavor. I've used tried brown sugar and agave, and I think I like the agave better because it's easier to get out of my pantry (this is about convenience for me anyways).

Here it is again with scrambled eggs and goat cheese on the side:

Don't you feel sunnier just looking at this?

I used this recipe (click here!) the first time, but since then I've just sprinkled it with cinnamon and some agave before broiling it. It also takes me forever to eat this, which is kind of good, since it prevents me from eating too fast.

As for the winter blahs, I think it just helps to alter my routine a little. The grapefruit have helped with that, and they help stave off scurvy (bonus!).



Hey Y'all!

I've been a little bit absent for a while. I have hopes of posting more regularly this month, but with school starting again, it's taken some time to figure out the new routine. While I get things in order, here's a few highlights of what we've been up to since the new year started.

This is the image from our back porch in the morning. Winter has us surrounded.

John and I are going to run the Really Chilly 5K on February 27th. I made a new training plan for the next two months and taped it to the bottom of the February calendar page, like I usually do. Hanging it in a public place is usually a great reminder for me to stay motivated, and a sign that I've committed myself to whatever I've planned. Then I cross off the days and feel super accomplished!

And on to the food!

These are chocolate-almond-butter-oaties, a healthier and easier version of the Interlochen Chocolate No Bakes. This recipe comes from one of my favorite blogs - Heather Eats Almond Butter, or HEAB. Click here! She is breast feeding at the moment and since her daughter may be allergic to chocolate, she made these for herself with carob. So far I've used almond butter and soy milk in the recipe (so they're vegan!) but you could use whatever nut butter and whatever kind of milk or alterna-milk.

John and I are working through the soups in Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, and we started with leek and potato soup. How are leeks so flavorful? This soup was the "thing of the week" as John says. Click here for David Lebowitz's take on the recipe. Bittman advocates putting in something extra to tailor this soup to your tastes, and we added chopped avocado. It was a delicious soup.

John, getting ready to use the immersion blender, Immersio.

Another food highlight was this avocado chickpea wrap. The lime and avocado make this really refreshing for a January meal, and it was easy to put together. We chose to have ours in a wrap just for fun, but you can eat it straight from a bowl if you like.

That's all for now! More recipes and new foods for 2011 next time.