Today I was trying to have a perfect day. I slept in, I spent a little time this morning relaxing on my deck and watching my garden grow. Then I read for a couple of hours, biked to the coffee shop, and read for a couple more hours, before allowing myself to venture out on a shopping mission. I explored a new (to me) bike route from Decatur to Little Five Points, bought my baby sister a birthday present, and biked home. Soaring along alone on my bike, I felt perfectly happy, and I was convinced the day was only going to get better.

After all, I was planning on seeing Casablanca at the Fox theater tonight. I’ve never been to the Fox, and Casablanca on the big screen in an old school theater sounded amazing. Unfortunately, life intervened in the form of unexpected and unwarranted ugliness, and before I knew it I was canceling on the movie and wallowing on my couch. But that isn’t really where I want to be, or how I want to feel. So I’m choosing to let go and move on. While it is too late to catch the movie, it isn’t too late to stop wallowing.

But before I get off my couch, I’m going to leave you with a recipe, or two. I made this dinner last week and thoroughly enjoyed it. The margarita shrimp taste perfectly summery and pair beautifully with the coconut rice. I found that I liked the rice best with both raw coconut and toasted coconut mixed in and spring onions sprinkled on top, but it is also good plain.

Recipes after the jump

CSA box

This morning I picked up my first box of fresh organic local produce from my CSA. Back in the winter, I signed up for a summer subscription and paid for weekly deliveries of fresh vegetables (and sometimes fruit). My farm is called the Gardens of Huckleberry Hills and is located in Alabama (but still within a couple of hours drive of Atlanta). Ever since I wrote my check, I’ve been waiting with eager anticipation for the harvest season to begin. This first box is a little light (by the farmer’s admission), as the season progresses there will be more and more goodies in my box. But light as it is, this box still looks great. This week I got: squash, greenbeans, assorted greens, spring onions, oregano, mint and parsley. I can’t wait to start eating.

But first, I want to share a recipe that has been a favorite since college. In high school, I liked to cook, but as my mom would say, I liked to cook gourmet. I didn’t really have to worry about putting dinner on the table or staying within a budget. It wasn’t until college, that I really started cooking on a regular basis, and my favorite go-to cookbooks turned out to be the Weight Watchers’ Cook it Quick and Take Out Tonight. The Take Out Tonight book was my favorite of the two, by far. But this gem is actually from Cook it Quick. I now have many more sophisticated cookbooks, but when I want an easy, healthy, tasty meal, I often come back to Weight Watchers. The Tex-Mex Chicken, Corn, and Black Bean Salad is best the second day and shines when you use good quality salsa, fresh corn, and well-seasoned chicken. I pan-fried my chicken with a little cajun rub this time, and really liked the result.

Tex-Mex Chicken, Corn, and Black Bean Salad

Recipe after the jump

tibs wett

I wish I could start this post with Maureen’s drawing of the North Pole, which she made last night left-handed, blind-folded and probably a little tipsy. It looked like a shrimp wearing a cowboy hat (the hat was apparently an igloo). I laughed so hard I cried, but unfortunately, the dry-erase board has since been wiped clean and nothing remains of the drawing. So sad. But back to the food, I have been seriously enjoying Marcus Samuelsson’s The Soul of a New Cuisine lately. The book is crammed full of beautiful pictures of Africa and intriguing recipes from all over the continent, each one loaded with spices. I am a little sad that the book is not divided by region or country, or at least indexed so that if you want to make, say an Ethiopian meal, you can easily find Ethiopian recipes. I also wish that all of the photographs were clearly captioned. But when the food tastes this good, those are small complaints.

Last night, I did my best to pull together an Ethiopian meal. I made the Tibs Wett and the Injera from Samuellson’s book (he calls the Tibs Wett “Stir-fried Beef Stew,” but don’t let that fool you). The Tibs Wett was fabulous. We didn’t splurge on the tenderloin he recommended (and couldn’t find the hangar, which might have been less expensive). But it was quite good with sirloin steak, and we really want to try it with lamb. The sauce was amazing, full of flavor and nuance, though it could have possibly used a little more heat. Sammuelson suggests serving it with Awase, which is a very spicy condiment, and next time I might just do that.

The injera was okay, Sammelson provides a simplified recipe that saves the home cook from the three-day process of making and fermenting the batter. But, I think I want a more traditional recipe. This injera just didn’t have the sour tang that the real stuff has. I also had some difficulty making my injera as thin (or as big) as they should be. However, when smothered with stew, the injera was quite tasty. The pancakes did a good job absorbing the sauce, and complimented the stew, so I’ve decided to go ahead and share the recipe. Just don’t expect it to taste like the injera you’ve had at a restaurant.

Recipes after the Jump

banana cream pie

Last year, just before Father’s Day, I made homemade gluten-free graham crackers. My plan was to make my Dad this pie. But, my little sister was graduating, and Father’s Day sort of got lost in the shuffle. We stored the graham crackers in the freezer, but they were so good, I kept sneaking them. There might still be a few hanging out in my parents’ freezer, but I doubt it. Needless to say, my dad never got his pie last year. So this year, while he was visiting, I decided to make it up to him. Luckily, I have since found a great replacement crust for the old graham cracker standby. This cookie crust cuts down immensely on the work and tastes like shortbread. It works very well with the vanilla pudding and the banana.

Recipe after the Jump

Life has been very busy lately, and I haven’t found a lot of time to be in the kitchen. This morning I was, but only as an onlooker. My Dad is down visiting me from Virginia, and he cooked me breakfast “New Jersey Farm Boy Style.” When he was young he had a job with New Jersey Department of Agriculture, which involved going to the Vineland farm auction and monitoring market trends. His favorite part of the job was grabbing a broccoli rabe and egg sandwich, and now that sandwich has become one of his own specialties. Since I can’t eat Italian Kaiser Rolls, today we ate broccoli rabe and egg with sausage. My Dad likes his with ketchup and Tabasco, but I was happy with just a little extra salt.

Broccoli Rabe and Egg (serves 3)

1/2 a bunch of Broccoli Rabe (also known as rappini) trimmed of the long stems (about 1 cup of leafy greens)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
6 eggs (or 2 eggs per person)
3 Tablespoons milk

1. Fill a medium saucepan with water and add the salt. Bring to a boil.
2. Add the Broccoli Rabe and simmer until the leaves are tender (10-15 minutes)
3. Add the garlic salt. Drain thoroughly, pushing on the leaves in the collander to get all the moisture out. Chop mixture into small pieces.
4. In a mixing bowl combine eggs and milk, whisking until eggs are frothy. Add broccoli rabe and stir to combine.
5. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt a 1/2 tablespoon of butter, swirl to coat pan.
6. Add egg mixture and fry, when the egg mixture first starts to set, start scraping the bottom of the pan (scrambling the eggs). Continue until eggs are cooked through. Serve (with or without a bun, Tabasco sauce, and ketchup).

ice cream sandwich picture

Deb from Smitten Kitchen did me in again. I now have in my freezer six generously sized homemade ice cream sandwiches…. and they are good…the cookies especially. I skimped on the ice cream, it isn’t homemade or even premium, and I certainly can taste the difference (but my wallet objected to spending the extra, and tonight the wallet won…) Still, these ice cream sandwiches were never really about the ice cream. No, they were about the brownie roll-out cookies, which I wanted the second I saw them. I managed to put it off for a week or so, but when five o’clock rolled around, and I knew that I had nothing to make for dinner that was worthy of posting on the blog, I couldn’t resist any longer. I did manage to show some restraint… I cut the recipe in half (which yielded 16 large round cookies… and yes, if you do the math, that means two of the resultant ice cream sandwiches are not in the freezer, but only one of those is in my stomach… thank God for roommates).

Recipe after the jump

morning glory muffin

I promised this recipe last week, and I keep delaying posting it, because I have a horrible confession. I made these muffins the same day as the blueberry ones, and I still haven’t eaten a single one. I let them cool on the racks, slipped them into freezer bags and froze them. But every time I open my freezer, I hesitate for a mere second, before I reach for a blueberry muffin. I imagine that the morning glory muffins feel hurt, confused, and rejected. They are entitled to those feelings. I think, with time, I will find my way back these veggie-loaded, bran-like, standbys, but not today, and probably not tomorrow. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try them though. As I mentioned in my blueberry muffin post, these muffins were all I made in the muffin department for months, and they are very lovable.

Recipe after the jump

potato salad

This month I am participating for the first time, in the Adopt a Gluten Free Blogger blogging event. For this challenge, I adopted La Tartine Gourmande. I have drooled over Bea’s site for months. Her photographs are always lovely, and her food is creative. Better still, she is always using flavor combinations that I find surprising. So I was excited about the excuse to try out some of her recipes. Unfortunately, things got busy and I only got to try one. But I predict her Dark Chocolate Tartlets and her Amaranth Quinoa and Dark Chocolate Cake are in my near future. Yesterday, in the spirit of not always giving in to my sweet tooth, with my back firmly pressed against the deadline, I chose to make Bea’s “potato salad to love” also known as her Potato Pea and Mint Salad. I tried my best to follow the directions, but my budget demanded substitutions for the Bresaola and the quail eggs (I used Capicola and 4 hens eggs instead). Still this was indeed, a potato salad to love. I’m not really the biggest fan of the classic potato salad, so it was nice to try one with some more unusual flavors. The dressing uses tahini & mustard, which works wonderfully with the mint and the Capicola. I would definitely make this again, and it would make fabulous picnic fare.

Bea has not always been a gluten-free blogger, though starting around November, she transitioned over to using almost exclusively gluten-free flours. She has a “gluten free” category on her sidebar, which makes it easy to find safe recipes. If you haven’t been reading her site, you are really missing out, so check it out today.

blueberry muffins

Having fished out the last muffin from my freezer for a mid-morning snack, I knew it was time to make more. Sometimes a batch of muffins can last me a long time, as I try to eat fruit during the day. So not having muffins in my freezer shouldn’t be a big deal. But for a quick breakfast, or a long study session, nothing beats a muffin for convenience and satisfaction, so I decided to go ahead and replenish my stash. For the last four or five months, every time I’ve made muffins, I’ve followed the same recipe, one which I will share later this week. But after reading this article in the New York Times, I decided to challenge myself and try something new.

So I started trolling the internet for muffin ideas, not sure what I was looking for. I thought about making quinoa muffins, or trying something exotic, but in the end, I decided on a classic, the blueberry muffin. I used this recipe on Simply Recipes as my base. To adapt it, I added an egg, upped the leavening, and changed the flours.

The resulting muffins are delicious. They fall somewhere between a muffin and a scone – a little denser than other gluten-free muffin recipes that I have made, but not in a bad way. These have a pleasant richness while still retaining a fluffy texture, and the browned muffin tops give a satisfying crunch. Lemon zest comes through as a subtle accent that plays off the tang of the blueberries without overpowering them. These are definitely going to be repeated, I just wish I didn’t know how much butter was in them…

Recipe after the jump

As the weather gets hotter, I find myself turning more and more to salads. Although, I’m a pretty finicky salad eater. I get bored easily, and like my salads light on lettuce and heavy on flavors. In the past couple of weeks, I’ve made two great chickpea salads. I love chickpeas in salads because they add so much flavor, and they give a salad heft.

The first of these salads, I found on 101 Cookbooks. I discovered it a year ago, made it a couple of times, and somehow managed to forget all about it. I forgot it so completely, that when I was looking for something to take to the baby shower, and a friend suggested I make “that chickpea salad,” I had no idea what she was talking about. A little sleuthing though, and the salad was found. I hope I don’t forget it again, because this is a nice quick tasty salad. It definitely has enough staying power to count as a meal, and that pesky lettuce is nowhere in sight. I’ve actually never made it with the butternut squash, opting for sweet potatoes the first time I made it and purple potatoes the second. Next time I make it, I’m going to toss in some quinoa and maybe even some avocado.

The second salad, is another gem from Didi Emmons’ Entertaining for a Veggie Planet. With this salad, I particularly enjoyed the roasted eggplant and tomatoes and the excellent lemon dressing. At first, I was actually a little ambivalent about the crunchy chickpeas, although they grew on me. Next time I might try seasoning the chickpeas, or even sprinkle soy nuts on the salad instead.

Recipes after the jump