Ask Me Anything!

Hey there and happy Labor Day!  I hope you’re off today and able to kick back and relax with your family and friends a bit. I’ve got a few projects planned for the day, and I’m determined to get my apartment fully unpacked and settled this afternoon. In the meantime, I thought it would be a lot of fun to open my blog up for a little Q&A.  In my nearly 4 years of blogging, I’ve never done one of these ask me anything posts – but I’ve really enjoyed reading them on other people’s blogs.  I thought it would be a fun way to get to know me better, especially since so much of my content is recipe related, and not about “me” per se.

So go ahead, shoot…

Favorite foods, work questions, my personal life, what I want to be when I grow up… it’s all fair game. Leave a comment with your questions and I’ll start answering them on Friday.

Cheers!

 

 

4 Comments + Posted in: Uncategorized

A Farmers Market Meal: Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

One of my favorite things about my new digs at the Historic Pearl Brewery is that every Saturday there is a farmers market right outside my doorstep. This past weekend my Mom joined me in checking out the options from local farmers and ranchers. I was delighted by the variety of produce options available this late in the summer season. I picked up some okra, zucchini, precious little onions, grass fed beef, farm fresh eggs and these gorgeous bell peppers in a rainbow of colors.

peppers

These peppers were smaller and more delicate than the huge bell peppers I usually see at super markets. A big bag with 6 peppers was only $3, that’s a pretty good deal in my book.   I’ve never made stuffed peppers before, but I often drool at recipes online.  I’m not much of one for recipes most of the time (excluding baking, when it is much more important to follow a recipe), so I just jumped in with what I had on hand and took a stab at making quinoa stuffed peppers.

Farmers Market Onions

 
In addition to these petite onions, I sauted one zucchini in some olive oil. If I had garlic, I would have included some, but I didn’t have any on hand (still haven’t done a big grocery haul).

stuffed peppers

Some quinoa cooked in chicken stock, local onions, local zucchini and a bit of Tillamook cheddar plus some time in the oven equals super delicious main course – perfect for a “Meatless Monday”.   I served them with a green salad dressed in homemade dijon vinaigrette and butter braised okra (Oh goodness. I hope the market has okra again this Saturday so I can make this recipe and share it with you.  I you’re an okra fan, you’ll think this is to die for).

My dear friend Marissa was joining me for dinner, and she was a great sport considering I was cooking for us without much of a plan. It felt great to casually entertain in my new space.  I’m looking forward to many more Farmers Market Meals and future girl’s nights in.  The dish wasn’t perfect, but it was very tasty.  It could have used some additional flavor from fresh herbs like parsley, oregano or basil – but I was all about using what I had on hand that night. I’ll share the recipe below, with some notes about how you can make it even better.

Recipe serves two people as a main dish, plus left overs for one more meal.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
1 cup low sodium chicken stock (or vegetable stock if you’re keeping it vegan)
6 wee bell peppers (or 2-3 average sized bell peppers at your grocer), tops cut off and ribs removed
1 medium zucchini, chopped finely
2 wee onions (or 1/2 an average yellow onion at your grocer), minced
1 oz Tillamook Sharp cheddar (thoughts on this below)
1 Tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Method:

In a medium pan with a tight fitting lid bring the quioa and stock to a boil. Stir a few times, cover with lid and reduce heat to low for 20 minutes (or as directed by the package). While the quinoa is cooking, chop the veggies and saute for 5 minutes over medium heat with a Tbsp of olive oil. Generously salt and pepper the veggies while sauteing. Once the quinoa has cooked, let is sit off the heat for 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork.  Fold in the sauted veg. Stuff the prepared peppers with the quinoa and veggie mixture, top with cheese. Bake for 25-30 minutes at 350 (depending on the size of your peppers.  Mine were tiny, so they were done in just over 20 minutes, but I’m thinking more average sized peppers would take a big longer).

Thoughts on how to improve upon this recipe:

- Additional flavor from fresh herbs, garlic, shallots etc would all be welcome additions to the stuffing
- I wished I had mixed some additional grated cheddar in with the filling as well as on top.  I had Tillamook slices in the fridge, so that’s what I used.
- Leftover marinara would be an interesting addition if you want a more tangy tomato flavor to your filling.
- Instead of quinoa you could use brown rice, but since it’s sturdier it might require more cooking time and some additional liquid once the peppers are stuffed.
- If you aren’t angling for a meatless monday, ground turkey, sauted sausage, bits of pancetta would be fun ways to include protein.

7 Comments + Posted in: Main Dishes, Recipes, Uncategorized, Vegetarian

My Current Skincare Favorites

I was rather late to RSVP to the “girly girl” party.  Though I’ve always cared about my appearance to an extent, it wasn’t until the past 2 or 3 years that I became obsessed with skincare. I’ve never had a facial, because I love pampering myself at home. One of my favorite things about Sunday nights is doing a mask, peel or treatment, giving myself a manicure and watching my Sunday shows (True Blood, The Newsroom, The Good Wife, Mad Men, Treme, Game of Thrones – etc, depending on what is currently in season).

I’m not of the school of thought that you should use an entire line of skincare products, I prefer to pick and choose what works best for me from a variety of different lines (and price points).  Here are some of my current favorite skincare products – I would love to hear about yours!

Cleansing:

Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash, Pink Grapefruit scent.  I’ve used products from Nuetrogena’s oil-free line off and on since I was in high school. I have oily skin, and salycilic acid helps me keep breakouts at bay.  As I’m getting older I find that this is a bit too drying for daily use, so I alternate with a more gentle cleanser.

Mario Badescu Botanical Facial Gel.  I first heard about this line of skincare products on the Martha Stewart show.  She had an representative from their NYC spa on the show talking about Martha’s daily skincare regimen (which consisted entirely of Mario Badescu products). What I love about this cleanser is that it’s gentle and non drying but still is a very effective  and exfoliating (it has alpha hydroxy acids, but no granules or physical exfoliants).  It doesn’t have any chemicals that make it lather, so if you’re used to a foamy cleanser that might take some getting used to.

Toning:


Boscia Clear Complexion Tonic with Botanical Blast
. This is a mild toner that you spray on your face after cleansing. It doesnt sting or dry out your skin.  Honestly it might not “do” anything, but I like how refreshing it feels.

 

Moisturizing:

Clarins Huile Lotus. I purchased this while I was in Paris last year, at the recommendation of my sweet cousin Sarah. Sarah found out about this product from her sister-in-law, who is probably one of the most beautiful people on the planet.  Sarah and I joked that if it was good enough for her, we should probably jump on that bandwagon. This stuff is pricey, but smells fantastic and feels luxurious on your skin.  If you’re freaking out about the idea of putting oil directly on your skin, don’t.  You use a very tiny bit, and it absorbs right away leaving your skin feel soft but not in slightest bit greasy.  It actually works to control over production of oil so you get less shiny during the day if you use it regularly.  I use this 2-3 times per week before bed.

Origins Brighter By Nature Serum.  I use this on nights I’m not using the Lotus Oil above.  It works to correct dark spots left by blemishes, and evens your skin tone.  I find that it also helps shrink my gigantic pores. It’s not intended to be your only moisturizer, but I use it that way because layering another one on top seems too heavy for me.

The Body Shop Seaweed Mattifying Day Cream. I use this moisturizer every morning, regardless of if I’m putting on makeup that day.  It’s a super hydrating, gel consistency that leaves my face feeling really balanced. It doesn’t have any SPF, so it’s important to use another product that does.  I love this product and I’m mildly concerned it may be being discontinued because I’m having difficulty finding it lately.

Tools & Treatments:

Clairsonic Mia Sonic Cleansing Brush. I use this in the evenings, with either of the two cleansers shown above.  It’s basically a big electric toothbrush for your face.  I adore it. It comes in a bunch of colors, mine is lavender.

Asian sheet masks.  Occasionally when I feel like my skin needs an extra boost, I slap on a sheet mask and veg out for a while.  It’s a cotton material soaked in treatment serums that you wear on your face for 20-30 minutes.  You look like Jason from Halloween when you’re wearing it, but it feels really nice. I’ve used several varieties, some of my favorites are the apple polyphenol and pearl masks from My Beauty Diary.  You can order these on Amazon, or if you have an Asian beauty store near you, they’re likely to have a big range and several brands.

So those are some of the things I’m loving as of late?  What are some of your must have skin care products?  Is your regimen complicated, or are you a splash your face with water and go kind of gal?  I love hearing about what other people do to stay looking their best.

16 Comments + Posted in: Beauty, Life & Style

Lunchtime Bliss and the Tillamook Cheddar Omelet

Moving can be stressful. Moving can can make you feel disorganized. Moving can make you feel like you’re off of your rythm a bit. To my surprise and delight, I’ve found the exact oposite is true with my most recent move. Taking up residence in a tiny studio apartment less than 2 miles from the office has been a tremendous weight off my shoulders. My commute time is essentially erased, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised with how smoothly the unpacking has gone so far.

Today I was able to run home to make myself an omelet for lunch. It was the first time I used my stove! It was the first time I had a dirty dish other than a cereal bowl! It wasn’t a big deal or a fussy production – but running home for lunch and making myself something from scratch in my new kitchen was pure bliss.

Omelets are perfect for any time of day. They’re super quick to throw together, but feel sort of elegant at the same time. I don’t know if it was because it was the first time I cooked in my new kitchen, or if it was the quality of the ingredients I used, but making this omelet was soothing to my soul.

Watching a tiny pat of butter melt and get foamy in my favorite non-stick pan just felt right.

Melting butter

The organic egg yolks seemed brighter and happier.

three eggs

And not to pat myself on the back too much, but I think I kind of nailed the perfect cheddar omelet. Check out that gorgeous Tillamook cheddar ooze.

Tillamook Cheddar Omelet
A side salad or some heirloom tomatoes would have been the ideal compliment to my omelet, but I haven’t done a huge grocery run yet.

Last Sunday I stocked up on the essentials like eggs, milk, cereal, cheese, butter, pita chips & hummus, whole grain bread, Nuttela and a pint of strawberries. You would be surprised how many meals I was able to stretch from these few items. This Saturday I’ll head downstairs to the Pearl Farmers Market and stock up on fresh produce, local honey, maybe some grass fed beef if it’s available – I’m excited to see what my options are.

There’s not really a recipe for this omelet, omelets are more about method of preparation than what you put in it. Quality ingredients are key, but you can really use whatever you want to fill your omelet. Mushrooms, onions, various cheeses, spinach – it’s all fair game. This was the first time I attempted the French method of the tri-fold, which some people might find a little intimidating. It isn’t intimidating. It isn’t hard. I highly recommend you watch this video by Byron Talbott of “From A Young Chef“, and then give it a shot yourself. I watched the video twice, then gave it a go. Stuck the landing on my first try.

Disclosure: I have not been compensated in any fashion by the brands or organizations mentioned in this post. I love the Pearl Farmers Market and adore calling Pearl Brewery my home, but they don’t owe me a thing. Byron Talbott has never heard of me (though he is welcome to “call me maybe”). Tillamook did take me and some blogger pals out to dinner a few months ago to talk about their brand, but they have not sponsored this content.

6 Comments + Posted in: Main Dishes, Recipes, Vegetarian

It’s Hatch Chile Season!

If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you may be aware that I moved this weekend.  If you missed that I moved this weekend, do yourself a favor and check out the sneaky instagram photo of my hot mover. You’re welcome.  My kitchen gear is still in boxes for the most part, but I wanted to take this opportunity to share some recipes appropriate to the Hatch Chile season. If you brought home a haul of fresh or roasted Hatch peppers, good on you.  If you haven’t scored some yet – hurry out to your local grocer, because their season is wrapping up.

Last year I shared this recipe for Hatch Mac and Cheese. It is no joke. If you’re single, make this for a suitor and you won’t be single for long. If you’re wed, make this for your spouse and they’ll remember why they fell in love with you in the first place. Seriously – it’s spicy and creamy and smokey and cheesy.  I think it might even be good for the complexion when applied topically. (Totally kidding. Don’t rub spicy mac and cheese on yourself and then come crying to me when that doesn’t work out well for you).

Foodblog 064
My friend Kate of Elefantitas Alegres just shared a Hatch chile recipe round up on her blog.  It would appear that she has served her family something Hatch related at every meal for a week straight.  Kind of makes me want to move to Dallas and offer up my au pair services. I would gladly work for hatch and the opportunity to squeeze and love on her sweet little one, L.

PS Freckled Citizen: Hope you’re pleased with my New Mexico’d spelling of Chile. ;)

 

10 Comments + Posted in: Main Dishes, Recipes, Sides, Vegetarian

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