Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Mango and Coconut Rice Salad

Vacation is coming! It's true. I'm headed to the mountains with my two life-long besties, husbands in tow. For three gals that couldn't be much more different in adult life, there is an intangible something that makes it feel like we haven't been apart a day, even when it's been a few years. Isn't that wonderful how that works in life? Those relationships are rare, so I count mine as pretty special.

And to make it all the better, we all three love to cook and eat, so you can better there is some bites (and sips) in store. The menu is filled with all kinds of grilling and cocktail goodness, but we have to have some standby sides on tap too.

One of the girls is vegetarian and loves fruit, so I was trying to come up with a few hearty salads to have on hand. I recently tried out this rice salad from Plenty and man it is good! This cookbook has gotten me so inspired to try new veggie recipes. This one from the grains chapter will be perfect as a dinnertime side and the leftovers will make for great snacking fare on the mountain.

Mango and Coconut Rice Salad
2/3 cups brown jasmine rice
1 cup black rice
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons mint leaves, roughly chopped
2/3 cup basil leaves, roughly choppped
2/3 cup cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 jalapeno, minced
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup roasted salted peanuts, chopped
2/3 cup flaked coconut
2 tablespoons peanut oil
2 mangos, chopped
1 head green leaf lettuce

Prepare jasmine rice according to package instructions. Spread on a baking sheet to cool. Separately prepare black rice and allow to cool.

Toss cooked jasmine and black rice together with red bell pepper, basil, cilantro, green onions, jalapeno, lemon, peanuts, coconut and peanut oil. Gently fold in mangos, taking care not to overstir (they'll fall apart).

Serve over lettuce and enjoy!

Recipe inspired by Yottam Ottolenghi

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Grilled Romaine Caesar Salad

First of all, thanks so much for all of the kind wishes on our new home. We're settling in nicely and the Type A in me can't let it rest until every little thing finds a place. We are by no means "done," but it's starting to feel like we actually live here.

On one of our many recent trips to the hardware store (seriously, I feel like we go daily), we had some priority shopping to do. A GRILL! We are now the proud owners of a genuine Weber grill and I know there is tasty stuff to come. You see, I grew up with a Weber-purist for a father, so I've been endlessly lectured on the true benefits of charcoal over gas. And there is no sense in trying to fight him on it, because your mouth is probably full.

I've never had a nice grill before, so this is seriously exciting. In Chicago we had a Craigslist gas grill, that while crappy, served us well. True story... when we bought the thing, it wouldn't fit in our car and the Husband pushed it home a mile. Have I mentioned he's the best?

But anyway, back to the grilling. We now have an awesome grill and I'm planning some awesome grilled stuff. First up? Grilled Romaine Caesar. You've surely all had a pitiful Caesar salad from you local fast-casual restaurant, but let me tell you, the real deal is so much better. And when you grill the romaine too? Yum!

I know... grilling lettuce sounds weird, but it gives this great smoky flavor and brings out the sweetness of your greens. The char gives you an extra bit of crunch too. 

Simply halve romaine hearts and pop on the grill when your chicken is almost done. I love to grill bread, instead of croutons too. Brings it all together.

Drizzle with homemade caesar dressing and enjoy immediately. I'm usually big on leftovers, but this is a recipe that is a night-of kind of thing. 

Grilled Romaine Caesar Salad
4 small boneless skinless chicken breasts (or just 2 if they're big)
2 hearts of romaine, halved lengthwise
1 clove garlic
2 teaspoons anchovy paste
1 egg yolk
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons
1/2 cup grated parmesan
salt and pepper
4 slices crusty bread

Preheat grill. Brush chicken with 1 tablespoon olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill over medium direct until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees (about 4-6 minutes per side). 

While chicken grills prepare dressing by combining garlic, anchovy paste, egg yolk, lemon juice, olive oil and parmesan in a food processor. Buzz until combined and season to taste with salt and pepper. 

Remove chicken from grill and allow to rest for 10 minutes before slicing. 

Brush bread with a bit of dressing on each side and grill for 1-2 minutes per side. Rub romaine hearts with remaining olive oil and grill for 1 minute, cut side down. 

Drizzle dressing over chicken and romaine and serve immediately with grilled bread. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Our First House

Today is a pretty big day. We can now count ourselves as proud homeowners! This 110 year old beauty in St. Louis' Tower Grove South neighborhood is all ours.

You hear a lot about homeownership being a milestone and I think what they say is true. It feels pretty major. This home is only possible because of years of hard work by the Husband and me. All those drudge-worthy career dues paid, years of un-airconditioned apartments sweating it out and shoe shopping trips avoided were all for this. We did it all on our own and I'm so proud of us.

While this beauty was rehabbed a few years back, she needs a serious infusion of taste and non-beige-ness (totally a word), so there's certainly more to come. One cannot live on food porn and recipes alone. Now we're off to celebrate!