Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Garlic Basil Grilled Chicken with Caprese Salad

The other night we (and by we, I mean my husband, who is much calmer in the kitchen) made the Garlic Basil Grilled Chicken with Caprese Salad recipe from this month's Sunset magazine. Trust me, this recipe is a keeper. It was so easy, fresh and contains many ingredients you may have on hand or in your garden. Note to self: buy a basil plant!

Here's how we adjusted the recipe slightly for two. Click here for the original recipe.

  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 small boneless chicken breast halves 
Mince basil and garlic and mix with other ingredients in small bowl. Coat chicken breasts. Grill chicken until cooked through on outside grill or, in our case as we are apartment dwellers, the George Forman. :)

 It's not often that raw chicken looks so good I want to photograph it!

Caprese Salad
  • A few handfuls of heirloom and grape tomatoes
  • 6 slices slices of fresh, hand stretched mozzarella
  • 1 cup roughly chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  •  A few dashes of fig balsamic vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
Halve grape tomatoes and slice larger tomatoes into bite size pieces. Mix tomatoes and other ingredients, except for cheese and let stand. Serve over mozzarella slices.

The perfect addition to the meal, a local olive bread dipped in olive oil and fig balsamic vinegar.

The finished product! Such a refreshing flavor and a great change for a summer meal.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

2011 Summer Resolutions

Photo Credit: Koblers Pig, by Michael Sowa.
I can't believe it's already almost 4th of July! I better not let summer pass me by.
Here are my summer resolutions for between Memorial Day and Labor Day:

Go to a Mariners game
Bike on the Burke Gilman Trail
Swim in a lake
Rent Kayaks at Aqua Verde
Eat at Emmer & Rye
Eat at Paragon
Eat at Sitka & Spruce
Visit Melrose Market
Go camping
Go hiking
Go to a lake place in Eastern Washington
Go to the San Juans
Go out in the boat for 4th of July
Make s'mores
Grill stone fruit
Make a new type of fruity cocktail
Take a free Zumba and Yoga class at the Seattle Center
Take a hot yoga class
Run three times a week
Write a travel story
Buy and make some artwork for the apartment
Eat an ice cream cone while sitting outside
Eat alfresco once a week
Take my lunch to work three days a week and eat breakfast at home
Read six books
Continue to post here 2-3 times a week even though I now have a full-time job!

What are your summer goals?

Friday, June 24, 2011

Cloudy Day Recreation

It's June and still summer hasn't arrived. We've had a few nice days here or there, but it's still cloudy, fleece-wearing weather. Here's hoping it clears up for the weekend or at least for 4th of July. I lived in the Pacific Northwest for twenty-four years before leaving for six. I did not expect that when I returned I would find myself faced with the winter (or spring/summer!) doldrums. I thought: I got this, I'm immune! I mean, I grew up with it. I love the rain. And the grey. Wrong. So, a few weeks ago, when I needed a rainy day fix, immediately. I begged my husband to run to the airport with me and take the first flight to Puerto Vallarta, but he's so practical. He said no.

But did you know that without jetting to Hawaii or Arizona, you can get a tropical/desert fix, right here in Seattle for free?

Instead of two pricey plane tickets, we visited The Volunteer Park Conservatory. It may be gray, dismal, and dreary outside. But inside, bask in the warmth of the desert. Steam in the jungle. Marvel at the orchids. Ponder the Pitcher Plant.

Just brace yourself for a cold, damp reality when you exit the building.


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

baseball, brats, and beer

What better way to celebrate Dad's Day than with baseball, brats, and beer? And that's exactly what we did on Sunday at Safeco field.

It was cloudy, but it didn't rain. So the roof of the stadium was open.

We snacked on hot dogs, garlic fries, and beer.

And to top off a great day, the Mariners won! Happy Father's Day to all you dads out there (including mine!).

Friday, June 17, 2011

OMG, Arugula Patch

Can we talk about pizza? It's probably my most favorite food. No, wait, yes, it IS my most favorite food. And I regularly rotate through phases of My. Favorite. Pizza. Ever. My current fave is the Arugula Patch from Zaw Artisan Bake at Home Pizza.

The people who work at the Queen Anne Zaw are SO NICE and they make an amazing pizza that comes with a handwritten note and instructions about how to bake it. (Thanks for the great pizza Austin!)

The Arugula Patch comes covered in Parmesan, cherry tomatoes, basil, a very light tomato sauce, and delicate, thinly-sliced Prosciutto. Look how beautiful! Mmmmm. But wait! It gets better.

After the pizza has been in a 425 degree oven for 14—OMG, I'm so hungry and can't wait to eat—minutes, you garnish with a handful of crisp, green arugula and freshly squeezed lemon juice. I mean it is called the Arugula Patch, after all.

I enjoyed mine with a Granville Island English Bay Pale Ale to toast the Canucks in their loss of the Stanley Cup and watch the subsequent rioting in the streets of Vancouver on tv. Poor Vancouver.

But, OMG, the Arugula Patch is so good.

Now you tell me, what is your current favorite pizza?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Discovery Park Picnic

Picnicking is quickly becoming my favorite summer past time.

This time it was a Redmill Burger Picnic.

At my new favorite park in Seattle: Discovery Park.

Followed by a hike, to work off some of that burger damage.

I'd heard talk of a great beach at Discovery Park, while eavesdropping in the grocery store line a few days earlier. And voila, a great beach:

Complete with rugged coastline driftwood and a lighthouse.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Over Ambitious Homemade Indian Food

Good god, what was I thinking making two Indian dishes from scratch for a surprise dinner for hubs? I was clearly in over my head. Yet, somehow I produced two delicious vegan Indian dishes and the only thing I ruined was the rice.

To understand how intimidating this meal was for me to make, look how many ingredients I needed for just one of the dishes: Chickpea and Cauliflower Curry

When B arrived home and I told him what I was making and that maybe I should have just ordered in, he gave me a concerned look that said, yes, ordering in is a much better option because we're both hungry and you look on the verge of a breakdown.

But first, let me tell you about the first item on the menu, Baingan Bharta. When I was traveling in India last year I was so excited to try my favorite dish to order at Indian restaurants back in the US, Baingan Bharta. I searched every menu for my Indian food staple to no avail. What gives? Was it called something different in India? Was it out of season? I asked my Indian coworkers and they laughed at me! "That's home food," they said. "No one would ever order that in a restaurant. Only mothers and home cooks make that." I garnered it was the Indian equivalent to a casserole. One day, my coworker surprised me with a sample. She had her cook make me a special Baingan Bharta. "I told her to not make it too spicy," she said, as I picked up a small bite with my right hand and a piece of homemade chappati. It was like nothing I'd ever had in the US, whole chunks of soft eggplant and tomato that tasted smokey and rich and spicy. I kept my eye out, but even though I was in India for six weeks, I never did see it on a menu.

So last week when Jenna over at Eat, Live, Run, made homemade Baingan Bharta, I was inspired to try it myself. I followed her recipe almost exactly. Somehow mine looks nothing like hers. Probably because she is a trained chef and I'm a stressed out wreck in the kitchen. But anyhow. The only step I skipped was the blender/food processor step at the end. By skipping this step,  my version looked and tasted just like the authentic Indian Baingan Bharta I tasted last year.

Item number two on the menu, Chickpea Cauliflower Curry, was a recipe I half invented and half adapted from Almost Vegetarian by Diana Shaw.

Chickpea Cauliflower Curry
1-2 inch chunk of ginger peeled, minced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon butter
1 yellow or white onion, diced
1 granny smith apple, cored diced
1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 small head of cauliflower, cored and separated into bite-sized florets
1 tomato, chopped
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1 tablespoon garam masala
1 tabelspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons turmeric
Dash of cayenne pepper
Handful of raisins

Saute ginger, garlic, onion, cilantro, and spices in butter  over medium-low heat until onion is translucent.
Stir in apple, chickpeas, and cauliflower and cook over medium-low heat until cauliflower is fork tender. Add the handful of raisins.

The actual cooking of both of these dishes was not complicated. But the prep work took forever. Chopping, chopping, chopping. And I am not the most swift or skilled slicer in the kitchen. I really need someone to teach me the right way to dice an onion. My approach is more like the Swedish Chef with pieces flying every which way rather than anything efficient.

Three hours later, I had miraculously created two spicy vegan Indian dishes (and a gelatinous basmati glob). Paired with some store bought naan (thankfully I didn't try to make that from scratch!), it was pretty delicious, even if I was exhausted.

Next time, remind me that I can just order in.

Now you tell me (using the new improved comment form below!), what's the most surprising or interesting thing you've ever eaten while traveling?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Urban Adventure

Days with no plans are the best, don't you think? You never know what spontaneous adventures you will encounter. On Saturday we were walking down the street and spur of the moment hopped on a bus downtown.

We ended up at the Virginia Inn. Where we sat an outdoor table.

And consumed frosty beverages and delectable salmon snacks.

Then we wandered around the farmers market, listened to Buskers, watched the Fish Throwers, and complained that my feet hurt because the flats I donned that morning were not appropriate for a day of spontaneity.

So I found a shady spot where I could put my feet up and admire the urban landscape.  

Then moved to a sunny spot where I could lie down on the grass and admire the human and natural landscape. 

And snack on cookies. 

It was a nice day.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Spring Resolutions Update

Hey Everyone! Hope you're having a fantastic day. I've mentioned before that I like to make seasonal resolutions so that I can always have plans and goals and something to look forward to and something to reflect upon over time.

I made these goals to achieve by May 31st. Let's see how I did.

1. Run 24 times — Nope, didn't achieve this. I started out well, but slacked off.
2. Take a yoga class at my neighborhood yoga studio. — Not yet, I'll move this to my summer resolution list.
3. Drink 2 liters of water everyday. — Trying...ugh, I'm not doing so well here!
4. Go to the beach. — Yes! Went to Cannon Beach, OR for Easter. Read about it here
5. Go to Spokane and visit the Eastern Washington fam. — And ran my first 12k. Read about it here
6. Go to that Indian restaurant that everyone raves about (Roti).   Knocked out two goals in one weekend
7. Try the 5 Spot. Knocked out two goals in one weekend
8. Write one travel story (or at least start it!). — Nope, I'll move this to my summer resolution list.
9. Eat one salad everyday. — Ugh, no.
10. Read 3 books. — Not quite within my deadline of May 31, but I'll count it. I read The Alchemist, On the Beach, and Ape House.

What are your summer resolution plans? I'll let you know mine soon!

Friday, June 10, 2011

What I'm Snacking On This Week

Pistachios. Yes, I've fallen for the Key Board Cat ads. Though I would like to know how this nut has such an enormous advertising budget. OchoCinco, Blagojevich, Snookie, Key Board Cat—how can they afford such star power??  But they are so fun to eat.

Cherries. Like the pistachios, these are from California. Can't wait until the Washington cherries are ripe!

What's your favorite snack right now?

Thursday, June 9, 2011


I am a recent cauliflower convert. Lumpy, white and pasty, I've never been quick to reach for it. In other words, I've sniffed my nose and avoided it in distaste. But I've begun to recognize it's merits and they have these adorable wee organic cauliflowers  (read: normal sized) at the market, so yesterday I thought I'd give a new recipe a try.

Roasted Cauliflower with Raisins and Vinaigrette, from this book:

1 head cauliflower, cored, trimmed, and cut into florets (you may want to use 2 heads if you're using an organic one)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar to taste
1/2 cup of raisins (I used golden raisins)
1/2 cup chopped parsley leaves

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 
Put the cauliflower on a roasting pan and drizzle with oil and salt and pepper.
Roast for 15 minutes.
Combine the oil, balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper.
Remove the pan from the oven after fifteen minutes, and drizzle with some of the vinaigrette. 
Put the pan back in the oven for about 15 more minutes.
Combine the remaining vinaigrette, raisins and parsley in a bowl.
Remove cauliflower from oven and toss with raisin mixture. 
Can be served hot, warm, or at room temperature. 

It's so simple, nutty, and sweet! I served it as a side with baked Copper River Salmon and Sauteed Baby Bok Choy (a not so successful experiment, and hence, not pictured), but it would pair well with pretty much anything.

Never mind that this 8 ounce bottle of The Girl and the Fig balsamic vinegar cost more than the bottle of Argentine malbec I bought to go with dinner—it was totally worth it. I actually wanted to lick the bowl.

Said bowl pictured here. Not my finest photography. But, then again, maybe cauliflower isn't the most photogenic of vegetables?

Monday, June 6, 2011


Summer finally arrived in Seattle over the weekend. Since it's June, it's a little overdue, and all Seattle-ites, including myself, were out in full force enjoying the glorious 70-ish weather and sunshine. Our outdoor activity of choice: a picnic!

We selected Leschi Park on Lake Washington as our picnic destination and picked up all of our picnic goodies at Leschi Market. Smoked Salmon Pasta Salad, Sweet Curry Cous Cous, and Pesto and Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta. Iced Tea/Lemonade. Chips.

We also snacked on pistachios as we lounged in the shade under the trees.

After picnicking and relaxing and frisbeeing and reading, we explored the area a little more. Marveled at the view of Mt. Rainier and drove around the lake.
Then we stopped at the Arboretum for a walk down Azalea Lane.

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend too!