Full Circle – Organic Produce Delivery

14 06 2014

Oh! I just happened to see that Full Circle is having a LivingSocial deal right now and thought I’d take the opportunity to recommend them highly! Full Circle was kind enough to give me a six month subscription for free a while back, which was totally amazing. I hadn’t really done the CSA box thing (though Full Circle is apparently not a true CSA, which is ok), and Full Circle was an amazing introduction.

If you’re thinking about getting weekly fresh, organic produce delivery and you live in the delivery areas around the SF Bay, try them out. And buy their LivingSocial deal to get a discount!

full circle

Pros:

  • Fresh, delicious produce
  • Hassle-free weekly delivery to your front door (or you can pick up at a designated location if you prefer)
  • Excellent website and customer service
  • Super easy to “skip” a delivery via their website for when you’re headed out of town

Cons:

  • My only complaint wasn’t a complaint to Full Circle, but since I live alone, it was hard for me to consume even the smallest size delivery available. And since I hate wasting food, this was always a struggle. But, if you have more than one person, or you mow through fruits and veggies, it’s awesome!




Recipe: Tzatziki Sauce

13 06 2014

It doesn’t matter that I’m not entirely sure how to correctly pronounce this word, it matters that tzatziki sauce is amazingly delicious, and now I can make it at home with relative ease. Tzatziki sauce, aka Cucumber Yogurt Dip, is a Greek sauce that is often served in gyros or on falafel. It’s delicious, and not even horrible for you. Imagine such a thing.

tzatziki

As my natural foods store does not sell pre-made tzatziki (anger!), I have been forced to fend for myself. I have now made this dip myself a half dozen times, and it’s really good. And my favorite thing about it: it’s nearly impossible to mess up.

Angie’s Amazing Tzatziki Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups strained Greek yogurt
  • 1 medium-sized cucumber (or 2 small ones, or a half a giant one…), peeled, seeded, and diced
  • 2 cloves finely minced garlic
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill (or 1 tablespoon dried dill spice)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper

Other recipes tell you to mix the oil, vinegar, garlic, salt, and pepper first, then mix all that into the yogurt, then add the dill and cucumber. Some recipes recommend letting the dip rest in the fridge for two hours before eating it. My way? Do whatever the heck you feel like; just get all the stuff in a bowl together and eat it before it goes bad.

This is one of those dishes that’s just good. You really can’t mess it up. Mix things together in some weird order? Fine. Forget an ingredient or two? No worries. Don’t feel like seeding the cucumber? Still tastes great. Put in twice the amount of dill because you just love dill soooo much? More power to you.

tzatziki

A few pointers from someone who has made this many times:

  • Actually do seed the cucumber. It’s ok if you don’t, but it makes the whole thing a lot more watery, especially the following day.
  • Replacing one cup of yogurt with sour cream is a tasty alternative, but yogurt is a bit better for you and seriously tastes just as good.
  • I use Fage total classic yogurt (pronounced fa-yeh), no low-fat bullshit.
  • Honestly, dried dill (from the spice aisle) is just as good as fresh. Garlic, however, needs to be fresh. And put as much as you like of both.
  • This takes longer than you might think to make, but still not terribly long (30-40 mins or so, unless you’re lightening quick), and gets all kind of dishes dirty. Totally worth it though.

Enjoy!





My Boyfriend Taught Me to Make Salad Dressing

4 05 2014

Who knew cooking could be for regular mortals? Fine, I won’t pretend that making salad dressing is “cooking”. But still, I feel like Nigella Lawson up in here.

People hear I have a food blog and always say something along the lines of, “OMG, what’s your favorite thing to cook*?!” And I’m like, “toast!”

And for the past ten years (literally) I have stockpiled the Balsamic Vinaigrette salad dressing from Trader Joe’s since I love it so well and never ever seem to get sick of it on the myriad of salads I have jouously consumed over said decade. This salad dressing enables me to make an entire dinner (composed of a salad) in approximately five minutes, which is my general threshold for patience when making food for myself. And so, loyal salad dressing, I have enjoyed you for many moons.

Trader Joe's Balsamic Vinaigrette Salad Dressing

Trader Joe’s Balsamic Vinaigrette Salad Dressing

But, one day, Boyfriend found a small mason jar in my cupboard and rocked my salad dressing world. His epic salad dressing recipe includes smashed fresh garlic, BUT my slightly more pathetic version can be made in under a minute. It’s amazing.

Boyfriend's Vinaigrette

Boyfriend’s Vinaigrette

The very best thing about this salad dressing recipe is that it’s relatively impervious to being messed up. I’m not good about measuring things. I know, you’d think I’d be all perfectionist about it, but laziness outweighs anal-retentiveness in this case. So every time I make this dressing I wonder if I’m going to mess it up by drastically changing the proportions. While I’m certain that it tastes slightly different each time I make it, it’s been perfectly acceptable every time. Boom! Impervious recipe!

So here is the very casual recipe for Boyfriend’s Vinaigrette Salad Dressing:

Makes: However much salad dressing you want. As pictured above, I often make single-servings for one or two people, with a total volume of just a few tablespoons. Or, you could make a whole mason jar worth and enjoy it all week (or month? I’m not good a food expiration knowledge) long. The following quantities are therefore percentage-based to let you make however much dressing you want, my free bird.

Ingredients:

  • 50% Olive Oil
  • 40% Balsamic Vinegar
  • SECRET INGREDIENT: 10% Real Maple Syrup (see Note 1)
  • Note 1: Don’t even think of using that Log Cabin crap.

That’s it for the liquids; feel free to add a shake or a dozen shakes of any of the following spices, as you see fit:

  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Basil
  • Dill
  • Garlic Powder (see note 2)
  • Whatever the hell else you like

Note 2: The actual Boyfriend version of this recipe includes some relatively large amount of real garlic chopped up finely and then scraped into a paste with the sharp edge of a knife. I seem to have the culinary coordination of a four-year-old and am not deft at this procedure. Also, I hate playing with garlic cloves (so sticky!). So, if he’s not here, I use garlic powder.

Directions: Eyeball a mixture as suggested above, close the lid of the jar, shake it up, and taste it! Add more stuff until you like the taste (or skip this step like I do because it already tastes fine). Pour over salad, and feel like one pimp-ass cook. Thanks Boyfriend!

 

*Ok, that was the weird cheerleader version of that question. Also, that is the highest number of semi-correctly used punctuation marks I think I’ve ever placed adjacent to each other.





A tale of two (dozen) cookies

4 12 2013

Today, I have a cookie tale to tell to you. It is filled with action, adventure, sorrow, and sweet victory, as every good tale should be.

On Sunday, I decided to make cookies for my fellow work comrades, as they all had a deadline on Monday that they have been working countless nights and weekends to meet. Imagine ten men and women sacrificing their precious time with their children, their friends, and televised football games in order to slave, seemingly unendingly, to meet an impossible deadline. Some fell ill, others went insane, and one man’s wife forgot her husband’s name entirely.

IMAG0780

Needless to say, the past few months have been dark times at our office. But, alas, the deadline was in sight! It was so close everyone could taste it. And to wash it down, I, the sole person excepted from this deadline, wanted to make cookies. A sweet celebration for the parched palettes of these dear friends of mine. And so, I consulted Joy.

Joy the Baker is a genius. She’s a cook, a storyteller, a photographer, and, let’s be honest: she’s easy on the eyes, too. Joy told me of Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies. If you know me, you know I love chocolate chip cookies (CCC for short). They’re the best. They’re my favorite. Everyone knows this. And if there’s one thing that could make a CCC better, it’s brown butter. Good idea, Joy! You’re the best.

Sunday afternoon soon became Sunday evening, and, remembering my sad comrades who were indeed still at work, I set to work baking. I read intensely the recipe, I measured exactingly, and I mixed ingredients feverishly. I was determined to make these cookies amazing. To make them a reward worthy of my dedicated and weary co-workers.

IMAG0779

The house smelled like Christmas and heaven and adorable baby kittens. The cookies went together wonderfully. It was like my kitchen apparatuses were enchanted Fantasia-style, except without ever getting completely out of hand at the end. I browned the butter perfectly. I let the dough “rest” in the fridge like a boss. I lightly salted the tops of the cookies before baking to add a bit of extra pizzazz which Joy suggested. I tasted one when they were finished. Perfection!

I packaged the cookies carefully and held them in my arms as I walked to work on Monday. I arrived to the office with the precious cargo and placed the container lovingly in the kitchen for all to see. And I waited. And people asked me if I made the cookies, and I confirmed. And they asked if they were made from scratch, and I confirmed.

And I waited some more. And one guy told me they were good cookies. But he sits right next to me, so he probably felt obligated to try one.

And by the end of Monday, when the huge, all-consuming project had left our office, and the weary troops were done with their task, there were only six cookies gone! Yes, I counted them. There are more than a dozen people in my office. Not even half the people had eaten a cookie!

What is wrong with these cookies? I consider myself an authority on cookies. These were decidedly good. Right? Right?? I tried them; they were delicious. What is wrong with these people? I was sad. Were my cookies not as good as I thought? How could they resist them if they were?!

Over the next three days (three!), more were eaten, and I received more half-hearted compliments. I gathered up six cookies to take to other friends who don’t work in our office, since there were still so many left on Wednesday night. I watched as they dwindled at a pace slower than celery sticks at a pizza party. I pouted.

Today, Thursday, my co-worker came back from his honeymoon. He’s been gone a week and a half, and he missed out on the first few days of cookies. He’s a fellow cookie lover and connoisseur, whose cookie opinion I trust. He had not mentioned anything all day about said baked goods. Then, at 6:30pm, as I readied to leave, he sauntered to my desk.

“Those cookies are amazing,” he said.

And the weight of a thousand cookies melted away.

“Really?” I asked, spirits lifting.

“Yeah, they’re incredible” he confirmed. “You should sell them; you’re a really good baker.”

And I knew they were good, even though his sentiments regarding my overall baking skills were misguided and generally inaccurate. And I knew that something was just gravely wrong with my co-workers. Perhaps it was the weariness of exhaustion, or the general confusion and chaos of a deadline, or their irritatingly persistent health conscious-ness. We may never know. But we do know, with certainty, that Joy and I can combine powers to make an amazing cookie*.

*Fine, she can also singularly, without me, make an amazing cookie. And probably lots of other things. But we also, together, can do a decent job.





Recipe: Sweet Onion Dip

29 09 2013

I had a little shin-dig at my apartment a few weeks ago; my good friend, Natalia, is going to Colombia for four months and we wanted to see her off properly. And, apparently, to me, “properly” means “like a crazy person who can’t judge food quantities like a normal human”. Like my mother before me, I made enough food to feed three times the number of people who came to my house. But, this was one of the more successful recipes and so I thought I’d share (read: steal).

sweet onion dip from marthastewart.com

sweet onion dip from marthastewart.com

The party was on a Friday night, and, coincidentally, one where our entire office had to go to San Rafael for the day. So I couldn’t even come home early to prepare; I had to do everything the night before. I shopped at four stores. I stayed up until midnight sautéing, chopping, plating, and otherwise preparing all the stuff for the following day. And, since I am indeed apparently a crazy person, I wanted to have more than just cheese, bread, and veggies for appetizers, so I opted to make a few more things.

I searched the internet for appetizer recipes and arrived easily at Martha Stewart’s website. I have mixed feeling about the old gal since her whole bout with insider trading, but no one can deny her success. Her site was helpful, and this recipe for Sweet Onion Dip turned out to be a hit. I will plagiarize blatantly (below), but do see her website for more appetizers and for more info.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 Vidalia onions (1 pound total), finely chopped
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 cup reduced-fat sour cream
  • 2 ounces reduced-fat bar cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons white-wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped chives*
  • Potato chips, for serving

Directions

  1. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium. Add onions; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes**. Let cool to room temperature.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine onions, sour cream, cream cheese, vinegar, and chives; season with salt and pepper. Chill dip until slightly thickened, about 1 hour; or cover and refrigerate up to 2 days. Serve with chips.

*Or, as many chives as you damn well please.

**She says 12-15 minutes. This took me almost an hour for whatever reason. They wouldn’t brown! I should have cooked them on higher temp probably, but didn’t want to accidentally burn them.





Colombian New Year’s Feast

1 01 2013

For NYE this year, I had the privilege of enjoying a Colombian feast cooked by my favorite Colombian friend, Natalia. She claims to be a mediocre cook, but I’ve seen no evidence of this mediocrity. The food we had last night was awesome. So awesome that I was too busy eating to properly photo-document the experience. But, this was the end result:

Colombian Feast

Colombian Feast

Item 1: Arepas

This is Natalia’s specialty. She’s made them for us before and they’re fun and yummy. Have you had a pupusa? It’s like that. A small, corn flour patty that is pan grilled (the way Natalia makes them) and then eaten by cutting in half and stuffing with veggies, cheese, and/or meats like a pita.

Arepas fresh out of the pan

Arepas fresh out of the pan

Natalia made “sweaty chicken” (don’t ask me, I don’t eat chicken), mushrooms, grilled peppers and onions, corn with string cheese*, with guac and a butternut squash/sun-dried tomato/goat cheese spread. It was all really, really good.

Item 2: Cheese Balls (aka bunuelos)

These little gems are deep fried balls of corn flour, egg, and grated queso fresco. Nick (Natalia’s husband) describes them as cheese donuts, which is relatively accurate. They’re fluffy and delicious. Mmmm… fried things.

Bunuelos = cheesy donut balls

Bunuelos = cheesy donut balls

Item 3: Fried Plantains

This dish is genius. I did not take enough photos, but read the directions carefully; it’s so easy and they’re so good:

  1. Take unripe plantain (the greener the better), peel, and slice into about 2″ long pieces. 
  2. Place plantain pieces in boiling pan of oil until they’re cooked all the way through. This will take maybe 15 minutes or so.
  3. Take the plantains out of the oil and while still hot, mash each slice into a flat piece with a couple rolls of a rolling pin (or coffee mug). Don’t roll so much that they fall apart.
  4. Set aside to cool. Don’t stack them ‘cuz they’ll stick together. Also, put some salt on them.
  5. Using that same pan of oil, fry the flattened plantain slices until they’re golden brown.
  6. Take them out and serve to your friends. Accept compliments.
Plantain slices fried once and squashed, ready for the second frying

Plantain slices fried once and squashed, ready for the second frying

These are SO GOOD. They are good by themselves, or with a splash of goat cheese, or covered in guac, or with all the same fixins as were on your arepa. Amazing. And easy, too.

So that was our New Year Colombian feast. Not a bad way to end 2012. Happy 2013!! Also, this was us after we were fed and happy:

Happy feasters. Or, Mala and her friends. Chef Natalia is on the left.

Happy feasters. Or, Mala and her friends. Chef Natalia is on the left.

*Corn with string cheese. By far the most unsuspecting part of the meal. It was amazing. Cut corn off the cob, put it in a pan with some butter. Then slowly stir in an egg so that it coats all the corn and stays light and fluffy. Then string some string cheese and melt that in with the corn. Ridiculously good.





Left Over Mac ‘n Cheese

21 02 2012

…and I don’t mean the good home-made kind. Hear me out.

So I had boxed macaroni and cheese last night. Stop judging me. I realize this is a food blog, but it’s my food blog so keep quiet. Also, it’s actually a restaurant review blog; it’s ten kinds of pathetic up here in my own kitchen. As you probably know. Moving on.

Trader Joe's brand boxed mac 'n cheese with: peas, beans, avocado, parmesan cheese.

I put peas in my mac and cheese. See? Health food. Today I have left over macaroni and cheese and peas. And no microwave*. What’s a gal to do? Make a numbered list, of course:

  1. Saute some green beans in a pan. Don’t be scared, just put a drop of olive oil and some salt in a pan with your beans.
  2. After some amount of time, put in your cold mac ‘n cheese ‘n peas with the beans.
  3. Let everything kick it in the pan. Stir some. Turn that heat up nice and good.
  4. Here’s the key part: the little macs start, like, browning in the pan. It makes them kinda crunchy. It’s amazing.
  5. Everything’s been in there a few minutes. The macs are browning. Everything is smoking hot. Now: sprinkle some Parmesan cheese on top. BAM! Like Emeril ‘n shit.
  6. Pour everything in a bowl and lecture your cat not to jump on the stove because sometimes it’s hot. Like now.
  7. Another key step: cut up some avocado and put it on top. Because why not? Avo is good on everything. Everything.
And then you have a weird, bastardized version of crappy boxed mac and cheese that’s way better than actual crappy boxed mac and cheese.

It was kind of amazing, actually. Maybe just compared to things that normally come out of my kitchen, but seriously, the crispy macs were all salty and good, the extra cheese was (and always is) an excellent decision, and the avocado actually confused me into thinking I might actually know something about food.

Which I don’t. But I did like eating left overs this time. Good job, me.

*No microwave partially because this is a new apartment and I haven’t convinced myself to buy one yet, and partially because it will take up all my awesome kitchen counter space if I were to get one. And because I don’t really use one. The jury’s still out.








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