Wednesday, August 28, 2013

What the Kale

I'm enjoying a kale salad phase.  I have made a kale salad 4 out of the last 5 days.

If you go pick up some kale and try a bite, you may think kale salad doesn't seem like a wonderful lunch but once you tenderize it, add some other ingredients and a great salad dressing, you have a perfect meal.

I bought the already chopped and bagged kale from Trader Joe's.  It annoys me that it still has some of the stems in there but I pick them out.  You can just buy the kale from the store and chop out the stems yourself and then chop up the leaves but I so rarely go to a regular grocery store, I get by with the Trader Joe's kale.

I can make 3 or 4 salads from one bag of TJ kale.  I toss some in a bowl, pick out the stems and then squeeze 1/2 lemon over the leaves.  Then I tear the leaves into smaller bites, making sure to handle the kale a lot.  The more you massage it the more tender it gets.  I then let it sit while I make the dressing and cut up the other ingredients.  I don't know if this makes the kale get even more tender or not but I'm pretending it does.  For the salad in the picture, I added chopped heirloom tomatoes, some roasted corn and bacon crumbles.  You can add whatever you prefer.  I love the bacon taste!  And I like to add some red onion when I have it.

The dressing is a mustard vinaigrette.  Some crushed garlic, a blob of mustard and some vinegar or lemon.  I used champagne vinegar because that is what I have.  I don't measure but if I'm guessing about 2 or 3 tablespoons.  Then whisk it with some olive oil to emulsify it.  Again, maybe 2-3 tablespoons.  Salt and pepper to taste.  It may look like you don't have enough dressing but you do.

The secret - given to me by my daughter - is to make sure to put one chopped up hard boiled egg and a handful of goat cheese crumbles on the kale before adding the dressing.  Then mix it, mix it, mix it until you can't tell you have cheese crumbles and egg in there.  It seems like you have a creamy dressing instead.

Now eat!

Monday, July 15, 2013

CATS Salad

I got the inspiration for my Cucumber, Avocado, Tomato and Shrimp (CATS) salad from this appetizer found on Pinterest.  I made the appetizer and it was very good; yummy shrimp and avocado with a chilled slice of cucumber.  The Sriracha made the dish.

I'm ultimately lazy though and so, after a few tastes, I cut up all the remaining items and made it into a salad.  I added some halved sugar tomatoes.  Instead of squirting Sriracha on every bite I just mixed some Sriracha with soy sauce and used that as my dressing.  It didn't need much because the grilled shrimp was yummy.

I realize it probably should be Shrimp, Cucumber, Avocato and Tomato but that makes it SCAT salad and the kitties don't like that word.

After a few adjustments my final recipe for the salad:

1/2 English cucumber, diced
1 lg tomato, diced or 10-15 small tomatoes halved
1/2 avocado, diced
7-10 grilled shrimp, chopped into bite size pieces

Mix it all together and drizzle with Sriracha, soy sauce and lemon juice to taste.

Grilled Shrimp:

Rinse and dry a pound of raw shrimp.  Drying is important, as I learned from my BFF Chef Debbie.  Otherwise when you grill them, there is too much liquid and they steam.  Once the shrimp are dry drizzled them with a little olive oil.  I've also used Trader Joe's spray olive oil; just spray them lightly.

Mix together 1 1/2 T soy sauce, some red pepper flakes, a dash of lemon zest,  and garlic salt.  I've also added real crushed garlic.  Pour this on the shrimp and mix it well.  I like to let it marinate at least 10 minutes and I think the longer it marinates the better it tastes.

Grill the shrimp in a very hot pan.  You shouldn't need oil since the shrimp have been sitting in oil.  But you might want to try it with butter as she did in the original recipe.  Turn the shrimp as soon as you see the pink coming through, about 1 minute.  I like the shrimp less cooked so once I turn them I don't let them cook more than another minute.  With a pound of shrimp, I have two batches.  You can do one batch for your salad and save the rest to cook later.  That way the flavor is even better.

Remove them from the pan and chop some for the salad.  If you cooked all the shrimp you can nosh on the rest through out the day. They are delicious plain.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Corny Egg Breakfast

I got the idea for this dish from a quiche recipe. I'm not a huge fan of the crust so I turned it into a frittata. This picture does not do justice to the yumminess. I knew I like tomatoes and eggs but wasn't sure about corn.  It was amazing!  And the carmelized onions just made it even better.

I used the ingredient list as a guideline but then made it my own. First,  I chopped up and caramelized a medium sized onion, in a 10 inch oven-proof skillet, using butter and olive oil.  That took about 35 minutes so make sure you allow enough time.  Once the onion was done I added a minced garlic clove (or two). Then I tossed in a generous cup of frozen roasted corn and a generous cup of chopped sugar plum tomatoes.  I beat 4 eggs and added about 1/4 cup of heavy cream.  I stirred in 1/2 cup of grated cheddar/gruyere cheese and 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese into the egg mixture. Salt and pepper to taste.  I poured the egg mixture over the veggies and then let it cook on a low heat for about 5 minutes to get it started setting.  I put in in a 350 degree oven to finish.  I took it out when the top was set but not firm.  I don't like overlooked eggs and theses were just perfectly soft but not mushy.

Next time I might add some cheese on top and let it brown if I can accomplish that without overcooking.  I will also probably use two onions. 

Friday, April 5, 2013

Wine and a Movie

Today I set off to experience the new Galaxy Theatres, Green Valley.  I had high expectations because I want the theater to help revitalize our community. The strip mall the theater occupies used to be a wonderfully active area with several  good places to eat and shop. Then came the recession and, one by one, places closed.  Now I'm hopeful again.

First, the theater. It was almost everything I could hope for:

1. I love, love, love the seating.  Wide aisles with recliners that you can adjust from sitting straight up to lying almost flat and anywhere in between.  I had my feet almost straight out and people could still easily go by me.

2. I love the big screen.  I know, no big deal BUT, I'd pretty much given up going to the movies for several reasons and I've missed the big screen. So now I can go back.

3. I loved having a glass of wine at the movies. Not great, great wine, but nice enough and I liked it. Beer drinkers have more variety. And bigger glasses.

4. I loved being able to pick my seat before going into the theater.

5. I do wish there were more food options. I broke down and had a chili cheese dog. Not just any chili cheese dog- a jalapeƱo cheese brat chili cheese dog. It was delicious but I am not a big meat eater. So I  hope they come up with some other ideas.

Next, the movie. Oz The Great and Powerful. It was almost everything I could hope for.

1. I loved the big screen. See above.

2. I loved the spectacle.

3. I loved the animation.

4. I love the many nods to the original, especially the switch from black and white to color when Oz reached Oz.

5. I loved team Oz. Everybody.  Little extra for the monkey.

6.  Loved the witches.

7. I loved the con man wizard. 

8. I am torn about wanting a sequel. Would love to see what they come up with but don't know that they should mess with the original.

9. Yes, I loved the con man Oz but couldn't help wishing it had been played by Johnny Depp.

Friday, January 25, 2013

The Alphas and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Night

Long story, not short.  We arrived at our beach rental in Mission Beach on Tuesday.  The condo wasn't exactly what we had imagined. The pictures made it look bigger and "sleeps 6" translates  to sleeps 3 comfortably but person number 4 is stuck with the small not so comfortable futon.  If 6 people stay there 4 of them better really, really like each other.  The "bay view" requires looking out the bathroom window and the "ocean view" requires leaning out the back bedroom window.

Admittedly, the beach was close and the weather was nice.  And the company was AMAZING.

First problem was that the broadband wasn't working. We put in a call to property management and they dithered.  Finally gave us the account info and we worked with the provider and determined a tech visit was required.   Tech came out the next morning and checked stuff out.  Said it wasn't inside it was outside.  We called the property management and told them to come baby sit while we went to the beach.  Got a text that internet was up.  Only 24 hours after it  was supposed to be available to our people that really needed to check in with work (not me - I'm retired).

The next day we explored San  Diego and then went out to  a nice dinner.  Returned home at 9:30 to discover the keyless entry was broken.  We could not get in.  We saw a patch where a  dog door used to be  and figured the smallest of us (not me) would crawl in.  But removing the patch, we discovered it was not a dog door it was a cat door.   None of us fit.  And sticking an arm in to try and reach the deadbolt did not work.  Sticking an broom stick in to push the  the dead bolt did not work.  Sticking other tools we located or borrowed from the neighbor didn't work. There were realty type key boxes on the stairs that we didn't know  the code to but tried the door code.   No luck.

We had called the property management and texted the property management repeatedly to no avail.  We were working on finding a place to spend the night sans jammies, toothbrushes or the ice cream brownies we'd been planning on.   Eventually a downstairs neighbor peeked out to see why were were fooling around with her lock box.  Luckily, it turned out she knows the owner of our unit.  After several calls the owner says we can break out the panel of the door  to get in. But we are a little  doubtful about that and double check and finally the owner decides to come  let us in.  But she has no  key either.  I suppose because she thinks  the property manager will ride to the rescue in an emergency like this.   So she and her boyfriend come  over, try some old key and then run off to get a ladder.  The boyfriend  climbs the ladder and can't get the screen off one  window.  Tries another window and SUCCESS.  We are in.  Only one and a half hours after we had retuned, hoping to spend an  evening  relaxing, playing cards, drinking  wine and eating brownies in our beach condo.  BLEH!!

Turns out keyless entry systems run on batteries and when batteries die you can't get in unless you've stored a backup key somewhere.  Or have a property management team on call.

The real topper was when the property management texted me at 6:00 AM to check if we'd gotten in.  HELLO!  Can you figure that either we are at another location or we got in but in either case we are on vacation and are probably asleep?

Up side is they refunded us about one night's rate.   Not sure yet if I think that is enough.