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!

It Grows In Snack Form

This post’s feaured veggie may grow in snack form but personally I don’t find it to have that raw appeal. But then I really don’t care for the majority of my vegetables raw and… Ugh… crunchy. Just… No.

But my favorite preparation of these little guys is to sautee with garlic, tomatoes, a squeeze of lemon, and a dash of soy sauce (with salt & pepper) until tender but still crisp to the bite. And no, I’m not talking about bugs. I’m talking about the hard to destroy: Green Bean!

 

BBQ Flavored Crispy Green Beans

BBQ Flavored Crispy Green Beans

Roasted Garlic Green Beans with Lemon

Roasted Garlic Green Beans with Lemon

Sesame Garlic Green Beans

Sesame Garlic Green Beans

Oven-Baked Green Bean  Fries with Garlic Aioli

Oven-Baked Green Bean Fries with Garlic Aioli

Green Bean Casserole (Warning: I looked at the receipe and even though I may talk smack about all those food-free dishes I've been an Adventist long enough to know that in this case it probably works.)

Green Bean Casserole (Warning: I looked at the receipe and even though I may talk smack about all those food-free dishes I’ve been an Adventist long enough to know that in this case it probably works.)

Green Bean Mushroom Tart with Blue Cheese and Crispy Shallots

Green Bean Mushroom Tart with Blue Cheese and Crispy Shallots

Green Bean Salad with Herb-Tahini Dressing and Toasted Almonds

Green Bean Salad with Herb-Tahini Dressing and Toasted Almonds

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

 

Half A Salad with a Full Garden

Last summer I was getting all fancy with the gardening and the fresh stuff and piles and piles of lettuce to show for all my hard work. Thanks to my appaent inability to withold memories I went and planted flowers and herbs on top of where the end of last year’s crop went to seed. So what happened? Rogue lettuce. EVERYWHERE. It was growing out of the drainpipe hole at the end of the garden bed. It was springing up from between the cracks in the sidewalk. It was sort of grow up and through a rock?? And that’s not even the worst part. The worst part is that even with all that crazy ninja lettuce popping up everywhere and messing up my carefully planned out herb garden I’ve gotten about 10 good leaves from the lot of them.

On the bright side (in the back where we get more sun) I’ve had so many tomatoes that the only thing I could think of after a while was to cut them in hlf and throw them in the oven so I could at least have something that still tasted like tomato and would turn to black goo on the countertop. I really hate it when tomatoes go bad. It’s super gross.

But all those poor tomatoes I just didn’t rescue in time aside, I was left with only half a salad since I was strangely without any other ingredients to help make any salad I made be more than just chopped tomatoes with salt. It takes a special tomato to be delicious without some sort of additional lubricant with taste.

Here is a picture of tomatoes.

Here is a picture of tomatoes.

But between work and more work and my entire fammily deserting me for the island homelands I have had very little to eat except vegetables for the last month. It all happened because my dear mother finished her radiation treatments (yay!) and it ended with a really really big last minute party where I tried to grill outside. Thinking I’d try something new for a big crowd I attempted making burgers. Like real burgers. The kind with meat cooked on an open flame. Well over charcoal.

For those of you who don’t know: I was raised vegetarian. At some point the family became pescatarian but even fish is a rare occurence at Chez Tobing. I have left behind those meatless way for almost a decade now but even today I don’t cook meat. So me deciding to try cooking burgers for a party was probably the worst idea. They didn’t turn out awful. Just not great. The black bean burgers I mixed up, however, turned out amazing and I’ve even made this receipe since. I usually make my own aioli with vegenaise, fresh crushed garlic, lime, and sriracha. I had also posted the burger recipe last year in “Keeping it Veggie“:

Black Bean Burgers with a Smoky Red Pepper Spread

Black Bean Burgers with a Smoky Red Pepper Spread

But alongside the semi-successful burger project I grilled about 5 billion pounds of fresh stuff: Eggplane, zucchini, yellow squash, onions, OKRA!, bell peppers, asparagus, baby bell peppers, portabello mushrooms, sweet potatoes, corn… You put the grilled veggies on a toasted bun with the aioli and a still cripsy-on-the-outside black bean burger (or a marinated and grilled portabellow mushroom if you prefer) and that makes for a good party! In the future, though, I think I’ll leave the regular burgers to a professional. The afterparty of this whole affair was me sitting on the sofa eating nothing but roasted vegetable sandwiches for the next week while watching “Chuck” and drinking the remains of my homemade “Make Your Own Juice Bar”. My favorite was the sparkling  Persian Lime with an extra shot of sweetness from the ginger simple syrup.

In honor of the vegetables (and “fruit”. That’s right, I’m looking at you tomatoes!) that kept me alive while living alone for the last month I’m dedicating the next series of posts with all the wonderful ways to eat them!

Grilled Portobello Mushroom Burgers (from SkinnyTaste)

Grilled Portobello Mushroom Burgers

Forget Those Fools and Get Yourself Some of These Fries!

So on another Foodie Adventure this week. Actually it’s a work trip to learn more about our office database system (wooooo!) so technically I’m being paid to learn and take notes and present and stuff. But it would be a total shame for them to send me all the way down to New Orleans and NOT have me eat myself silly every day.

And here begins the tale of how I ended up wearing nothing decent eating the best french fries on Earth watching “Game of Thrones”. Just a warning, there are no pictures for this post because that would change the ratings on this blog and I’m not sure I can uphold that level of indecent excitement on a regular basis

I arrived in NOLA last night already exhausted from the weird flight patterns and shuttle ride and the whole it being the end of a long week thing. It wasn’t a good look for me. So the universe decided I needed a treat and the hotel I was booked in for the conference had gone and overbook itself. Why? Wrestle Mania. I think that speaks for itself.

In all the need for hitting the ultimate profit margin my room had been given away and as recompense I was given a lovely corner suite on the 18th floor with free internet for the rest of the week. Needless to say, after a full night’s sleep I came back to my senses and trolloped around the room in a towel watching cartoons while researching where to go find breakfast. I settled on the apparently not-so-small-in-reputation Cafe Beignet around the corner from my hotel where I had myself a lovely breakfast of rather little import as well as a beignet offered to me by a nice gentleman sharing my table who is in town for an even bigger conference than mine.

After that there was some work to be done on my other-other job (there are new blogs in my repertoire these day in the line of “guerrilla activism” for an area to which I am greatly endeared: hating stupid people) before an afternoon session clicking around in a database I spend almost 60 hrs a week in learning how to register people for meetings and charging them lots of money to make me. Muahahahaha! Gimme all your money!

Aaaaanyways. Long boring story shorter there was a big reception in a super cool art gallery where I forced myself to say hello to a bunch of strangers (so not my style), check out the food (lines were way too long for little bowls of things), thinking about booze (but not drinking any because of recent issues with headaches). Talked to some lovely folks in Law and Alzheimers (different groups) and then headed back to the hotel to switch into my comfy clothes that make me look like I’m about 10 years younger than I actually am–not the most helpful thing when I already look about 8 years younger than I actually am– and planned a mini-adventure.

I’d been looking up places on Yelp a couple days before coming down south and noticed this kind of random looking place with some interesting ratings on french fries. So I decided to make a little jaunt to what I thought was fairly close only to find that I was about to be working off the food before I’d even gotten it. I walked down some dark alleys behind where all the action takes place at night. Got a little worried when I realized I looked like a teenaged girl wandering around neighborhoods with no streetlights and low traffic but it seemed decent enough and no one raped or mugged me so Yay!

Well there I was just walked down this dark street surrounded by all this cool architecture with the shutters all closed up and thinking I’d be back in civilization soon because it looked like the place I was headed would be near something. Wrong! It looked like any other house on the corner with light coming out of windows partially blocked with the kind of dry goods and detergents you find in small places on the side of deserted highways. Inside seemed kind of seedy with a glassed in cashier area protecting the cigarette’s and lottery tickets. And wouldn’t you know it the lady running the cashier is Vietnamese. It is called Quarter Grocery & Deli and it is located HERE:

Map

But the fries… Yeah. They’re the best fries I think I’ve ever had in my life. And that’s saying something.

They were super hot, had a crunchy coating, and we soft and fluffy in the middle. They were so hot, in fact, that they were still hot and crispy when I got the remainder of my precious cargo back to my hotel room where clothes were shed, ketchup packets were ripped open, and HBO was turned on. Yep, this is going to be a good trip.

Muffin Week: “Baked Doughnut Muffins with Blueberry Jam” (Day 7)

Okay… Okay…! I know! What’s with the repeat blueberry items??

But hear me out. Imagine these made with a proper RASPBERRY preserve. I’m thinking Bonne Maman Raspberry preserves to be exact. Then it would be like a really good jelly filled doughnut only in muffin form… and if it’s called a muffin it has to be healthier, right?

Anyway you chose to go with it, I think this is an excellent way to end Muffin Week.

Baked Donut Muffins with Blueberry Jam

“Baked Doughnut Muffins with Blueberry Jam” from Simply Delicious