May 26, 2016

Strawberry Rhubarb Tartlets with a Crumb Topping

The weather in Seattle is all dark and mysterious, which is what I've grown to love about the Pacific Northwest. It's a much needed change from the overly hot and sunny days, which have their place - in the months of July and August. My in-laws are visiting, and I have slept-in 3 out of the 4 days days they've been here. It has been glorious, and I'm all relaxed and walking in a cloud of happiness. I'm able to function and think clearly, multitask, shower, do the laundry. I almost feel like a high functioning adult ready to integrate myself back into society. Yesterday we went to the book store, and I bought this book, which I'm really excited about, because I don't think I've read anything that didn't rhyme, for ages. I've eaten chocolate every day, ice cream twice. I work-out in the afternoon instead of 8 am, which is a much better time for my body. Sebastian started sleeping through the night, which is amazing, cause I thought the day was never going to come. Now if I could only convince him to sleep in until 7 am instead of 6 am, do the dishes, and rub my back, we'd be set. My father in-law has organized our basement, which previously looked like an episode of Hoarders Seattle. He cut the grass, and fixed our front door, and it really makes me think that I need to hire a handy-man, because this whole 'getting things done' is fantastic. I've even cooked a few meals, uninterrupted. What?!?!? So, if you need me, I'll be the one sitting in the corner sipping a glass of wine in a cloud of content.

Last week, just before they arrived, I was a complete mess. I was trying to accomplish too many things at once (painting the living room, cleaning the house, taking care of the gardens, the baby, and trying to master these baby strawberry rhubarb tarts recipe). I managed to accomplish it all, but with it came some serious challenges. I spilt the paint on the floor, messed up the crust recipe twice, broke the mop, and nearly gave myself a panic attack. No need to worry though, I got the paint off of the floor, mastered the crust, threw out the mop, and took bath, even though our bath tub is built for a hobbit, I still managed to enjoy it.

So, lets talk about these tarts. I'm not sure how I can convince you to make them right away, other than by telling you, promising you, that they will be the best strawberry rhubarb tart you will eat this summer. I don't even know how it happened. It was like the stars aligned, and everything came together all at once. Last Thursday, I started the recipe at 7 am with a coffee in hand. The next thing I knew, it was 6 pm, the kitchen looked like a tornado had touched down, twice. The baby was still in once piece, thankfully. And the tarts as beautiful as ever. The crust turned out flavorful and flaky, just the right amount of tender, not chewy or tough. Not too thick. The fruit, soft and delicate, slightly juicy, but not swimming. The sugary oat crumble, buttery and crunchy, but not overly. You can eat them with a fork, a spoon, or with your hands. You can make a bunch and freeze them for later. Or you can show up to the bar and give then all to your friends and they will love you forever, and you can keep working on your summer bathing suit body, but right after you eat one. or two. I won't tell.



May 16, 2016

Smoky BBQ Veggie Burgers from 'Minimalist Baker's Everyday Cooking'

Things have been busy around here for the last few weeks. We've been preparing for my inlaws, who arrive this Sunday. Every time they come to visit us, our house is in a state of construction/disaster. This visit will probably be no different, but we'd at least like to have a functioning kitchen for them to use. I mean, we have a functioning baby for them to play with, so if we can't get the kitchen in order, that should be good enough???

Brent is building our kitchen island. When I first met him I would have never imagined him as a future carpenter. For the last month or so, he has been carrying his tools from the basement to the back deck to set up his workspace, which would take anywhere from 30 min to an hour. On days where the rain was less predictable, he would often have to tear down and set up multiple times. If you get where I'm going with this story, the whole operation was really inefficient. Last week he splurged and bought a table saw to set up in the basement. Me, being the paranoid one in this relationship, convinced him to go out and also buy a ductless venting system, which is a wonderful contraption that collects all of the sawdust in a giant tube so it doesn't go flying around the house forcing me to spend every waking second of my life dusting. I'm pretty impressed with the whole setup, and now this means that he can work on the cabinets after work and whenever he gets spare time. I'm pretty happy about it all, especially because he really loves woodworking, and I get cabinets for a fraction of the price. Last summer we hired a carpenter to put up some siding on our bathroom, install some beadboard on our front porch roof and a few other small jobs. Even though I really liked the carpenter and actually really missed his company when he left, I almost cried when I got the bill.

Last weekend was my first Mother's Day and we decided to celebrate on Saturday to miss the crowds. Personally, I wanted to extend the celebration out the whole week cause I was having a lot of fun doing nothing and using the whole Mother's Day excuse. We had an amazing brunch at Cafe Flora. I ordered a grapefruit mimosa, cinnamon rolls (yes 2), lemon blueberry pancakes with a side of cheesy grits. The whole meal was so delicious that after I finished, I hated myself only slightly for eating a half ton of carbs. After brunch, we drove 30 miles outside of the city to Flower World, a beautiful flower and tree farm with a huge selection of plants for the half the price you would spend in the city. Despite the low cost, I managed to spend an insane amount of money and am rather impressed that we were able to fit them all in the back of our Subaru with the car seat and stroller. I've spent the better part of the last 2 weeks in my garden, which I feel really good about because we were definitely bordering on the overgrown, jungle, trashy, 'those people need to really cut their grass' look.  I'm almost to the point where I don't have an inch of bare space left to plant (landscape plans achieved). I only have a few minor things left - lattice the roses, finish hacking away at the neighbors ivy and plant grass seed. I finally made a decision about patio furniture, and we ordered some online from a furniture warehouse in Florida with a really bad website design. A little voice deep down questioned the legitimacy of the operation, but Trusted by Google assures me that they are legit. I'll let you know how that goes.

Seeing as our kitchen has been in a state of chaos for some time now, my elaborate meal creations have consisted of pureed sweet potatoes and beans for Sebastian, and everything on the grill for Brent and I. Oh, I almost forgot the pizza. There's been a lot of that, which is really kiboshing my attempts at getting 'bathing suit ready' for summer.

Last week I received a copy of Minimalist Baker's new cookbook 'Everyday Cooking', which was a huge relief, because Dana is notorious for creating quick and healthy plant-based recipes, which is something I really need right now. Dana's book is full of super approachable vegan recipes, with ingredients that you probably have tucked away in your pantry or fridge. After flipping through and highlighting the recipes that I need to make immediately (which is basically all of them), I knew that I wanted to share with you guys her Smoky BBQ veggie burger recipe. These burgers aren't your typical heavy bean-y veggie burger. They are made up of quinoa and chickpeas, with a whole lot of spices. The quinoa adds a light texture to the burger while the chickpeas add a crucial crunch. The combination of spices adds a wonderful umami flavor, which is what really makes these burgers special. I found myself just wanting to eat a patty on its own. I've actually made these burgers twice now, despite the insufficient work space in my kitchen. They are incredible.


May 5, 2016

Soyrizo, Fried Potato and Scrambled Egg Breakfast Tacos with Tacolicious' Famous Orange Sauce

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Any celebration involving tacos and margaritas sits pretty high on my list of 'things that I always want to be doing'. I'm telling you, Thanksgiving and Christmas would be that much more awesome if we were to fix up a taco bar and a margarita station, instead of the old potato/vegetable/turkey/gravy spread. My love for tacos and margaritas is so strong, I was almost tempted to run the Fiesta 5k Ole this Saturday, just so I could partake in the tacos and margaritas afterward, but then I came to my senses and remembered that I actually hate running and would just rather eat tacos. So, if you need me on Saturday, I'll be the one disguised as an athlete crashing the 5k after-party, with a baby in tow.

Which brings me to today's recipe. I'd love to tell you that I had this post planned weeks in advance. That I was preparing for this year's celebration, a perfectly planned blog post for Cinco de Mayo! But who are we kidding? I'd just be lying to you all.

Brent, Sebastian and I went out for brunch last Saturday, at an unreasonable hour - 8am. Who does that? Brunch, that early? Who are we? Anyways, Brent ordered a burrito the size of a small baby, and I ordered the breakfast tacos. They ranked pretty high on my list of favorite tacos, so good, that I was basically thinking about them non-stop all week when I wasn't thinking about quartz countertops and subway tile. This week I decided to make a version of my own, not even realizing that today would be Cinco de Mayo. Real life, I just really wanted to eat tacos all day err day.

The easy part of this recipe was coming up with the taco fillings. Lucky for me, I am a creature of habit, and my breakfast tacos always contain the same ingredients. The hard part was trying to come up with a recipe that replicated the tangy spicy orange sauce that was served on top.

After a few random 'spicy orange sauce tacos' search queries, I found a recipe for Tacolicious' Legendary Orange Sauce online. For those of you who aren't familiar with Tacolicious, it is one of the most incredible little Mexican chains in San Fransisco. There are three locations in San Fran, one in the Mission, one in the Ferry Terminal, and one in North Beach - if you're thinking about stopping by. During my last visit, I must have eaten at Tacolicious a handful of times. I had completely forgotten about their legendary orange sauce until just yesterday when I destroyed my precariously-balanced-kitchen, roasting, frying and blending up the ingredients to make this life-changing sauce.

If you guys can get your hands on some dried chiles de arbol, I highly suggest giving this recipe a go. It makes around two cups of sauce, which means you can put it on everything for roughly two weeks. I chose to incorporate it into my daily post-workout breakfast taco brunch/lunch of Soyrizo, fried potato, scrambled egg, and avocado, and now I am sharing it with you. If you don't have the morning energy to whip up some tacos, I'm sure no one would mind if you chose to add it to your oatmeal.


April 27, 2016

Tahini Citrus Salad with White Beans and Avocado

Last week, I think I told you guys that I was going to look into hiring someone to paint the trim in our house? Soooooo.... I called up this guy who used to live in the basement of a friend's house, who just so happened to paint her house for $30/hr cash, under the table. I thought this was going to be a perfect option to get the house painted at a reasonable price, and not have to go through one of those large painting companies that charge waaayyyyy too much, cause they can. It turns out that that this guy no longer runs a solo operation, employs???? a crew of 4 people, is booked solid until June but reassures me he can fit in my project for a low low price of $9800. Does this seem absolutely crazy to you? There are so many other things that I would rather do with $9800, like travel, buy a hot tub, buy a horse, hire a dog walker, buy a moped, go to Morocco. So, if you need me, I'll be the one on the ladder, painting all the trim in the house, probably for the next 10 years.

Everything in my life has been at a standstill since last Friday when I got sick. I woke up with a sore throat, cursed that mother f#%^#%^ who got me sick, and have been crying in bed for the last five days. Crying because I've been unable to call in sick for work, aka raising Sebastian - the full-time job that's 24/7. Sebastian started to get sick a few days ago which sucks, but is also a blessing in disguise, cause he's been all sleepy sleepy all day long. Last Sunday night I put him to sleep at 7pm and he woke the next morning at 8:45 am and I was all like 'what just happened?' Why do I feel so weird? Oh, is this what feeling rested is like? And then I started reflecting on the last 7 months and came to the realization that I have been operating at a low-level sleep deprived borderline coma since Sept 19, 2016, which is why I keep getting sick. But, on a positive note, Sebastian has slept through the night for the last three nights and I am crossing my fingers that this is the way of the future. update - late last night he woke at 3am for a feeding. wha wha.

The kitchen remodel has begun!!! Brent started building the kitchen island last weekend, and it is coming along nicely. Once the island is build, we can tear-out our current island, and then sink, faucet, counters, and tile. I was thinking about doing a big kitchen post in the future, sharing before and after photos. So, stay tuned for that.

For the last five days, I've had no energy to cook. It's been all take-out pizza and Pad Thai around here. I managed to drag my ass to Home Depot on Saturday which was a bad idea because going to Home Depot is always a bad idea, am I right? Yesterday I washed my hair in what seemed like forever, so I'm taking that as an accomplishment. Also, I managed to gather enough ingredients to make this big ass salad, because pizza and Pad Thai for the last 5 days has left me feeling a little nutrient deprived and sluggish. Luckily this salad is loaded with tons of healthy ingredients - avocado, yellow peppers, beans, kale, green onions, tahini! I'm hoping it will counteract the fro-yo that I ate for lunch on Monday and the ice cream sandwich I ate for dinner yesterday?


April 19, 2016

Roasted Cauliflower, Snap Pea, and Avocado Pasta with a Walnut Basil Pesto

Here is Seattle, we've skipped Spring and jumped right into Summer. Yesterday was 88ºF and today it is predicted to be the same. I either need to invest in an air conditioner or a pool, cause I'm not sure I'll survive another one of these unbearably hot summers with our small window fan and kiddie pool.

The kitchen renovation is currently at a stop while we finish the bathroom remodel. We decided that for our Brent's sanity it probably best to tackle one major project at a time. In the bathroom, we've got a toilet installed, and a sink on its way. A faucet that needs to be returned cause I changed my mind yet again. It is pretty exciting, though, cause it's been two years since we started and I think the end is in sight. Lessons learned - home renovations are time-consuming and stressful. Which is why I have decided to hire someone to paint the trim in our house. And why I should probably hire someone to build our kitchen island. And why I should probably just take it down a notch with the whole DIY business.

Have I mentioned that I'm now on snapchat? Now that I have come to terms with the sound of my own voice I am really digging it. Snapchat is fun and silly and messy and I love it. If you want to follow me my username is heatheralanna.

Last month, early one Sunday morning, I left the house on my way to the gym and I ran into Macklemore. He was walking towards me carrying his daughter in a baby backpack, eating a muffin, drinking a coffee. At first, I had no idea it was him, so as we passed on the street I gave him a friendly nod and a 'hey, what's up', not even realizing until I hit the next block that indeed that was Macklemore. After a little investigation, I have learned that he does, in fact, live a few blocks from my house. Which is awesome, but also annoying, cause now every time I leave my house I second guess my outfit, my hair, do I have baby puke on my shoulder????? cause today might be the day that I run into Macklemore again.

I just signed up for HBO now so I can binge watch the final season of Girls. Last night I watched the first 5 episodes, and I feel like this season is the best one yet. Speaking of binge-watching tv, are you guys pumped for Gilmore Girls? I cannot wait.

For those of us who live in Seattle, and have leaped right into summer, we can refer to this pasta as a farewell to spring, but for those of you who live in other parts of the world where the snow has finally melted and the flowers are starting to pop up through the soil, I present you with a fresh spring-y salad of roasted cauliflower, snap peas, and avocado. Do you ever get on kick where you make something so delicious you want to eat it for every meal until you get completely sick of it? Welcome to my life, and to this pasta. Currently, I can't get enough, and all I want to eat is this pasta. The pesto is fragrant and earthy. Rich and creamy. The cauliflower is salty, crunchy, caramelized and delicious. The snap peas fresh and crunchy. This whole combination is just a really intense explosion of flavors. Yesterday for lunch, I was snacking on a deconstructed version of this meal, dipping the cauliflower and snap peas into the pesto, and I was just as pleased with the results.