Sweetiekins

During my recent trip to Scottsdale, AZ, for work which included a day trip to Sedona and enjoy the ridiculously amazing weather and the gorgeous red rock landscape with my very sweet Filipino aunty of a cubicle mate, Lourdes. If you’re following my gastrogasmic adventures on the accompanying Facebook page you’ll have seen some of the incredible meals from that trip.

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My lunch at SaltRock Southwest Kitchen in Sedona, AZ

 

One of those meals followed me home when, a few weeks ago, Lourdes showed me that she had attempted to make these roasted sweet peppers we had ordered for lunch at a small resort in Sedona. She shared one with me and regardless of what they say about food always tasting better on vacation it’s very difficult to mess up oven-roasted mini sweet peppers.  The one thing she hadn’t been able to get was the aioli. I was so inspired that I decided to stop by the Aldi that just opened up down the road (bringing back some fun memories).

Goat Cheese Stuffed Mini Peppers

Goat Cheese Stuffed Mini Peppers, from Foodfanatic

My own method for cooking up these little babies is to

  1. Toss with (very little) avocado oil or olive oil,
  2. sprinkle with some coarse salt and fresh ground pepper,
  3. You can also add a sprinkle of garlic powder if you want a little extra something,
  4. Roast on a baking tray at 400 F for 20-30 minutes turning about halfway through (fair warning I like them lightly charred so adjust the time as desire).

Simple right? And unlike some other roasted vegetables these taste really good on their own with very little help. But if you’re looking for something to go with them you can mix this aioli up:

  1. Crush 1 large clove of garlic into a small bowl,
  2. Add about a teaspoon of lime juice and a teaspoon of harissa,
  3. Mix in a heaping spoonful of mayonnaise (or I use vegenaise) and an equal amount of sour cream.

Alternatively, and I’ve done this a couple of times, you can just use a butter knife to cut through one side of the pepper and put about a 1-2 teaspoons worth of goat cheese and just consume that heck out of those babies!

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A Favorite of the Underworld

I can’t remember which retelling of the classic Persephone being dragged down by Hades to his underground kingdom but it was probably some seedy romance that tried to fill in the gaps of the storyline while enforcing the somewhat lingering fad of the whole dominating man being too proud for his own good but actually having a cuddly center that just needed to be loved by some “headstrong” woman with amazing hair and the ability to forget how headstrong she is when in the presence of the sulty dark god of the underworld. But enough about my bedtime reading for now. Whichever book it was talking about he ghostly gardens of the underworld. Of plants that mimic those above ground but requiring no sunlight to grow. When I look at steamed cauliflower I always think that it looks like the ghost of broccoli. Or maybe the vegetable garden fairies just spilled some bleach and human are all like “Ooooo!”.

Either way (because these are both valid option as to why cauliflower is the way it is), cauliflower is an interesting vegetable that has recently taken on new heights. It has the unique personality of being rather bland in the flavor department but being able to take on a rariety of textures depending on how it’s prepared. While some of the attempts at making cauliflower cool clearly fall short of the goal I’m impressed with the way that it manages to take on new flavors easily and holds up to some experimental treatment. So far one of my absolutely favorite dishes is from Woodlands, a vegetarian Indian restaurant with a buffet on the weekends that could make a lover of deliciousness die with happiness. Not sure what it is but something like battered and fried florets then mixed with other sauteed vegetables in a sauce. I really do need to find out what it’s called.

But in the meantime here are some other forms of this ghostly source of nutrients that I thoroughly approve of.

 

Balsamic Galazed Cauliflower "Wings"

Balsamic Galazed Cauliflower “Wings”

Cauliflower Au Gratin

Cauliflower Au Gratin

Parmesan Cauliflower Bites

Parmesan Cauliflower Bites

Cauliflower Tots (with a How-To video!)

Cauliflower Tots (with a How-To video!)

Spicy Cauliflower Sitr-Fry

Spicy Cauliflower Sitr-Fry

Creamy Cauliflower Garlic Rice

Creamy Cauliflower Garlic Rice

Curried Cauliflower Soup

Curried Cauliflower Soup

Lemon Garlic Roasted Cauliflower

Lemon Garlic Roasted Cauliflower

Cauliflower Chowder

Cauliflower Chowder

Cauliflower Mac & Cheese

Cauliflower Mac & Cheese

Crispy Orange Cauliflower

Crispy Orange Cauliflower

The Hand of God Has A Green Thumb Named Okra

The hand of God has a green thumb and I’m pretty sure that’s why okra is the absolute best. I know some people claim to hate the “texture” but usually they’re referring to the way the okra has been cooked. Personally I haven’t met an okra dish I haven’t liked and I’ve had one made with okra powder that makes a sort of green gelatinous goo. I was maybe 4 or 5 years old and was being dragged along through the Sahara while my parents were off doing work “in the field”. And then again with “callaloo” in Haiti. It’s been a good life when you can enjoy one of your favorite vegetables across continents.

I’ve only recently started cooking okra for myself but not because it’s difficult. It’s not always available and when it is here’s usually a family friend who makes it for me. “Spoiled”. I know.

So without further ado, here’s just a few of the ways I know I like o eat okra as well as a couple I still need to try.

Grilled Okra with Red Curry-lime Dressing

Grilled Okra with Red Curry-lime Dressing

Spicy Okra Pickles

Spicy Okra Pickles

Roasted Okra (aka. Seared Lamb Chopes with Blood Orange Sauce and Roasted Okra with Chili Oil)

Roasted Okra (aka. Seared Lamb Chops with Blood Orange Sauce and Roasted Okra with Chili Oil)

Southern Fried Okra

Southern Fried Okra

Ladies Fingers (Okra) Fries

Ladies Fingers (Okra) Fries

Okra and Sauteed Tomatoes

Okra and Sauteed Tomatoes

Okra Fritters with Grilled Corn and Goat Cheese

Okra Fritters with Grilled Corn and Goat Cheese

Smashed Fried Okra

Smashed Fried Okra

Okra Rellenos

Okra Rellenos

 

Just a Little Snack

Personal Pear Pizza with Stilton & Walnuts, from Ono Kitchen

Personal Pear Pizza with Stilton & Walnuts, from Ono Kitchen

I don’t do New Years resolutions. If you aren’t going to take charge of you life all the time then you aren’t doing it right. Doing what right? One might ask. Life. You’re not doing it right. Try again.

Just so you know… I’m not skinny and I’m not “eating great” while “losing weight”. Except that eating great bit. I try to do that whenever possible. So here’s a little snack I found while looking around the great wide web of the internet after work today. I feel like this would also work great with a goat cheese/rosemary/honey combo.

And while we’re at it, how about a drink? Something warm and creamy, perhaps?

Coconut Rum Spiked S’more Hot Chocolate

Coconut Rum Spiked S’more Hot Chocolate, from Margaritas in the Rain (There are more pictures on the original page).

Yep. That works!

And now to go read the latest issue of Saga

A Funny Thing Happened on My Way Back from San Francisco

It hasn’t been unnoticed, I’m sure, that the leader of the Free Foodies has been somewhat absent of late. There’s an excuse for that.

I was out in California having a grand ol’ time eating my way up the PCH when I got a phone call offering me a big girl job. It would give me money, training, benefits… It all sounded amazing. And it was. But it was also a major change.

I now work above a Nandos and around the corner from 8407 Kitchen Bar. I haven’t been starving but I also haven’t had much time to write as much as I would like. So I’m dedicating the month of January to catching up on unpublished menus, reviews, and a glimpse into what kind of adventures a real paycheck can help you afford. I’ve been traveling across the country meeting my fellow foodies and checking out some of the scenes as well as learning a lot more about my other passion: spreadsheets.

While I backdate and get everything in order here’s something I’ve discovered at the Panera on the opposite corner from my office that you can make at home and munch on while patiently awaiting my reports. And if you don’t have the time to slow roast your own tomatoes I suggest you at least try one of these in the morning. It makes the day go much better.

Mediterranean Egg-White Sandwich (Copycat Recipe from Foodtastic Mom)

Mediterranean Egg-White Sandwich (Copycat Recipe from Foodtastic Mom)

Omelettes For Dinner?

Grated Potato and Cheese Omelette

“Grated Potato and Cheese Omelette” from Saveur

This recipe and photo came in my morning email and I was all excited and pushed all those little buttons to get it here on the blog. I was checking out the recipe, which is fairly simple, and it says this makes an excellent dinner dish and I’m a little confused about that but then again who am I to prevent more breakfast type foods from happening throughout the day? I’m nobody, that’s who. Nobody prevents breakfast from happening. EVER.