Friday, July 25, 2014

Vietnamese Quinoa Salad




This week I was lucky to spend a few good hours browsing food & lifestyle blogs for work. The appropriately named I Am a Food Blog was among my favorite finds because of its gorgeous photography  and straightforward recipes.  

I love salads for summertime dinners and especially loved this Vietnamese Quinoa Salad. While I'd happily devour one of Co Nam's noodle bowls every night of the week, this recipe makes for a decidedly lighter option while still keeping all that rich vinegary, minty flavor.

Enjoy! 

P.S.: How amazing do these Bahn Mi Fries look?


Vietnamese Quinoa Salad from I Am A Food Blog


INGREDIENTS

dressing
1 clove garlic
1 tablespoon sugar (I used a stevia blend, which equates to about a teaspoon)
Juice of 1 lime
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon fish sauce
Sriracha, to taste (we were out of srirancha, so chili hot sauce was used instead)

salad
1 cup quinoa, rinsed
1 1/4 cups water
1 small cucumber, diced
1 carrot, peeled and shredded (I used 2)
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1/4 roughly chopped cilantro
10 - 12 fresh mint leaves, chopped
2 cups shredded lettuce (I used romaine)
salt & pepper

Lightly toast your rinsed, drained quinoa in a non-stick pot over medium heat for 1-2 minutes. Add the water or vegetable stock, bring to a boil, reduce to low, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Remove the pot from the burner and let sit, covered, for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, transfer to a large bow, fluff and let cool.

While the quinoa is cooking/cooling, make the dressing. Mince the garlic clove as finely as possible. Alternatively, crush it with a motar and pestle. Whisk together the garlic, sugar, lime juice, water and fish sauce until the sugar dissolves. Taste and add sriracha if desired. Set aside in the fridge.

Once the quinoa is cool, add the cucumber, carrot, green onion, cilantro, mint leaves, and shredded lettuce. Add the dressing and toss well. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, if needed. 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Costa Rica Mini Guide

EAT
Costa Rica isn't known for it's culinary prowess, so expect simple local cuisine - gallo pinto! - mixed with a healthy amount of high-priced tourist options.

Whatever you do, be sure to douse your rice and beans in Costa Rica's own Lizano Salsa. Seriously, this stuff is from Heaven (read the Amazon reviews if you don't believe me). 

For the most part, any restaurant you find along the road the Manuel Antonio will be priced similarly to the US, so keep that in mind before pocketing your Colones. When you do venture up the hill, head toward Cantina Salsipuedes for a few guaro sours and one of the best tuna poke dishes I've ever tasted.

Down the hill in Quepos, explore the market in the center of town before bellying up to the ceviche bar. It's not fancy, but for $5 you'll dine on some super tasty fish and shrimp - I think their secret ingredient might be lemon lime soda, but nonetheless it's delish.

Load up on lots of fresh pineapple, mango and coconut at any of the fruit stands and keep these on hand to blend with ice & rum. It's by far my preferred way to drink poolside.


DO
Give yourself plenty of time to kick it by the pool or ocean and catch up on your reading. I made it through three books in a week! Total bliss. 

When you are finally able to tear yourself away from sunbathing, hike through Manuel Antonio National Park. Park admission costs $12 - be sure it buy it from the Coopealianza office - and it well worth it for a gorgeous hike through the rainforest! You'll definitely see monkeys, hermit crabs and a plethora of birds. Wear your bathing suit and hike to one of the park's four pristine beaches, all of which look like something out of another world. 

Also worth checking out is the farmer's market which happens every Friday evening and Saturday morning in Quepos. Loads of beautiful fresh fruits and vegetables as well as locally crafted goods, coffee and ice cold coconut water. The market also happens to be next to the water which means incredible views while you shop.



SLEEP
We lucked out in finding the Villa Malinche on Airbnb (duh, where else). Tucked away at the top of a hill and out of the touristy part of town, the space was perfectly secluded and just enough off the grid. 


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Best Margarita You'll Have All Summer



Summer was made for margaritas - tart, cold and just enough sweet. Skip the pre-made mixes and instead opt for the super fresh option. It's lighter but still plenty potent - plus it really sets of an electric blue manicure!

INGREDIENTS
2 parts silver tequila
1 part Thatcher's Blood Orange Liquor
2 limes (juiced)
Agave syrup to taste

Shake and serve over crushed ice with lime wheel garnish.


Monday, May 26, 2014

Salted Caramel Budino


This might be the most epic dessert I've ever made. Velvety caramel pudding topped with salted caramel sauce and toasted coconut cookie crumbs - OMG. It's not the best bikini season dessert option, but as a super special treat this dish is incredible.

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit, I swapped a few of the ingredients and adjusted the quantities to serve 4 (or two really luxurious servings).

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Cooking Away My CSA



I had this amazing plan to post each recipe I made from my CSA box individually, but that fell flat between traveling, Thanksgiving and scavenging San Diego for burritos instead of cooking. Oops. 

This is my first adventure with a CSA program and so far, aside from almost slicing off a few fingers cutting the winter squash, it's great. I signed up for the peck (medium size) box from Capay Valley Farmshare for only $18/week and I get a huge box of fresh, local veggies delivered to my office every Thursday - amazing!

My first round of meals started out promising, but kind of fell apart after Thanksgiving when I realized I still had a slew of veggies that were starting to get a little wilty. Hopefully I'll get better at this as I go.

Our first week included :
Arugula
Carrots
King Richard Leeks
Scarlet Queen Turnips
Kabocha Winter Squash
Mandarin Oranges
Pomegranate
See my CSA week 1 victories, and fails, below.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

7 Beautiful (and Useful) Travel Guides


http://zsazsabellagio.blogspot.com/2012/12/glamorous-yes.html

I'm headed to Europe next week, so practically all my spare time has been spent combing the Internet for decent travel guides. I'll be in Dublin, Paris, Berlin and Amsterdam before heading back to Kentucky for Christmas - which means there's so much to learn before I go!

Here are a few of the better guides I've found while roaming around - what are your favorites?



why it's great : city guides, top ten lists, your weekend playbook abroad


why it's great : everything you need to know about dining in Paris


why it's great : gorgeous photos, what to wear when, ample guides to neighborhoods, shopping & dining

why it's great : itineraries for every taste


why it's great : neighborhood guides, cheat sheets, itineraries


http://www.designsponge.com/2010/10/berlin-city-guide.html
why it's great : stylish & extensive

http://www.triposo.com/poi/W__87195303
why it's great : the mobile app is a necessity