I Had No Choice But to Spoil Myself

September 11, 2010 by KatiesCooking  
Filed under Appetizers, Featured Recipes, side dish

What a whirlwind of a summer…it seriously feels like it has come and gone in the blink of an eye.  Unlike other years, my hubby and I spent this one taking one of the biggest steps in our lives.  We bought a commercial building (thanks to a special guardian angel looking out for us) and moved his business in there.  No more rent!

The coolest part about the building is the 3 units attached that we plan on leasing out to help subsidize our mortgage payment.  It gets better though.  Our broker decided the space was so awesome he wanted it for himself…to put in a coffee shop and restaurant!  woot woot!  So now when we pull those 12 hour shifts they won’t seem so bad since we can end the night with a cocktail just five steps away.  : D  Apparently he plans on having about 5 different variations of eggs benedict on his brunch menu, my favorite!

Though this is one of the most amazing things to happen to us, the building that is, not the eggs benedict, it’s come at a price.  I’ve had more frozen pizza over the last month than I care to divulge.  The long days, exhausting build-out and move of the business means we spent an average of about an hour a day at our actual home which is where my kitchen is.

Sorry it’s been so long since my last post!  I promise that once we get completely settled into our new nest, I will be able to escape to my culinary world more often.  Today I couldn’t bear eating another frozen pizza or eggo waffle, so instead I spoiled myself.  Here’s my decadent lunch menu: Roasted Garlic Aioli with Caramelized Artichoke Hearts and Prosciutto Ribbons.  Not in the picture is some baguette and mixed olives.

There’s no real recipe to go along here but if you must know how I made the roasted garlic aioli, here goes.  The easiest way is to buy some already-roasted garlic cloves from the deli (where the olives are).  Toss about a dozen cloves in a food processor with about 1/4 cup of mayonnaise, a teaspoon of dijon, a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar, pinch of salt and pepper and pulse til somewhat smooth.  I’m sure it would be even better with a little fresh thyme but I didn’t have any on hand.  I sauteed the artichoke hearts in butter and olive oil over medium-high heat in a skillet.  That’s it!

Lemony Quinoa Summer Salad

You’re probably getting tired of all the seafood dishes I post on my blog! Truth is, the seafood that’s available during the summer-time in Seattle is incredible.  I get enough beef and chicken the rest of the year that I try to make the most of all the fresh salmon, shrimp, and scallops while they last.  We’ve been stuck in a bit of a heat wave over the last two weeks here in the Northwest.  I’m sure it’s nothing compared to the sticky, suffocating temperatures wafting over the east coast, but when you’re used to a mild, soggy July, it can be a bit overwhelming.

All I wanted tonight was a light salad bursting with bright, fresh flavors.  I craved a dinner I could scarf down and still have the energy to do jumping jacks afterwards. So here’s what I came up with.  Quinoa is an airy grain that cooks up quickly like couscous, but with just the slightest bit of crunch.  I like it a bit better though  because it has more texture and tends to soak up the flavors of whatever you mix it with.  You’ll want to cook up extra so you can enjoy it for lunch the next day too!

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Roasted Potato Salad With Sea Beans and Bacon

One of my favorite things to do is to open people’s eyes to lesser known foods, particularly ingredients that they never would have touched otherwise.  I didn’t grow up an adventurous eater.  Tuna noodle casserole and sloppy joes were the norm in my diet.  Trying lemon meringue pie was the equivalent of tight-rope walking across Niagra Falls.  In fact, “picky eater” in the dictionary featured my picture til I was 18.

But now, I love roasted brussel sprouts dusted with sea salts as much as french fries.  So what changed things around?   When I met my now-husband, I couldn’t cook so much an eggo waffle, but that was all about to change.  One day, I plopped in front of the TV and stumbled across the Food Network.  As I watched the episode (I wish so badly I could remember which one it was!) I realized it didn’t seem that hard afterall.  So little by little, I began to branch out and try new things.

What I loved most was that I had control over ingredients like onions which I normally would have picked out of my dinner tirelessly.  But when I was in control of the meal, I started to scatter those ingredients in slowly and surely until I found out that if you caramelize onions, they take on a deliciously sweet flavor.  Or if you roast brussel sprouts, they take on a crispy, nutty persona.  With me in the drivers seat of the next meal, I began to thrive on the idea of doing the same thing for other people: transforming the frog into the prince.

Sea beans are a vegetable that most people have never heard of before.  A final challenge on Top Chef was my first introduction to these branchy, coat-rack like plants but I never realized that they grew right in my backyard.  Sherlock Holmes-esque foragers scour Pacific Northwest beaches for croppings of these veggies.  When I saw them at my local farmers market, I tried to get the vendor to leak the location where he snips his sea beans but his lips were sealed.

Nonetheless, I snatched them up to give them a try myself.  They add a nice, crunch and salty bite to this roasted potato salad.  Green beans make a perfect stand-in if you can’t find them yourself.  I realize this potato salad is a little time consuming, and dirties up it’s fair share of pots and pans…but it’s worth it!  Plus it tastes even better the next day, always a bonus. : )  Give it a try at your next bbq and you won’t be disappointed.  This recipe is more or less a rough guideline so don’t bother measuring everything exactly.

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