sweet and savory grilling! grilled asparagus and peaches.

26 May 2009

it's officially summer in portand. i don't care that the sostice is not until late june. the sun is shining, i have sunburn, and everything feels like summer, so it's summer! i've been busy trying to take care of things around the house before i get to caught up in the summertime. this much needed 3-day memorial day was spent going to yard sales and cleaning house mostly, but we also made a lovely dinner on our tiny grill.

here are two super simple grill recipes we used yesterday and they both turned out wonderfully. if you do not have a grill, these would be great in the oven as well. you would just want to cook them at about 400 degrees and check in on them every few minutes since they are both fast cookers.

grilled asparagus

1/2 bundle of asparagus
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 teaspoon rosemary
1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke (optional)

combine marinade ingredients in a jar and shake.
trim & wash your asparagus and the skewer through the thick part of the stem (you don't need to use a skewer, but it just makes it a lot easier to flip them and make sure they don't fall into the grill). i put about 10 spears per skewer and that seemed ideal.
lay asparagus skewers on aluminum foil (a little more than twice the length of the asparagus - about the length of a cookie sheet) pour half the marinade onto the first skewer. flip and make sure all the spears are coated. wrap the foil around the asparagus and refrigerate for about 30-60 minutes before grilling. grill each side for about 3-5 minutes until the asparagus gets tender.


grilled vanilla peaches

2-4 ripe peaches
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
vanilla ice cream (optional)

wash and cut the peaches in half or quarters. remove the pits.
in a small bowl, mix sugar, cinnamon, almond extract, and vanilla. rub this mixture onto the peaches and coat on all sides. put the peaches on a piece of aluminum foil cut side down and curl up the sides a bit to avoid sugary syrup dripping all over your grill. put the foil and peaches on to the grill and allow to cook covered for about 3-4 minutes until the sugar melts and starts to caramelize. using tongs, remove the peaches from the foil and place directly on the grill for about 4-5 more minutes until desired tenderness. they turned out amazing! so easy, nothing too fancy involved, but they are just such a lovely treat for a cookout! you can eat these right off the grill, but i thought they were especially good with some ice cream on top!


7 things

14 May 2009

i was tagged by the lovely jen at classic catastrophe, so here it goes!

the rules are simple. you're supposed to link to the person who tagged you and write 7 things about yourself...

01. i go through phases. for a few weeks, i will be really into home decorating, then a few weeks of zines, or a few weeks of crafts and sewing. i always love all these things, but i just get super fixated and stoked on certain things one or two at a time and then move on and move back to them eventually. this leads to a lot of unfinished projects sometimes.

02. i love my pets. a lot...in a kind of nerdy way. i am really not interested in the whole baby thing, so the dog and cat are my kids and i kind of treat them as such.

03. i have lived in 3 states: pennsylvania, new jersey, and oregon. i've been in portland for almost 6 years and i am completely in love with the city i live in. one of my biggest dreams is to be able to purchase a house here.

04. bryan and i have been dating for almost 3 years. it's my longest relationship to date and i'm still really smitten. we live together in a cute duplex in northeast portland with previously mentioned dog and cat that we treat like children.

05. i started a kickball team at work and i am pretty excited about it. we are called the "ruby death squad" and our season starts in late june. i'm mostly excited for matching outfits.

06. i have always dreamed of writing a book. i don't think now is the right time for me to actively work on that, but i hope to be a published author in my lifetime.

07. i cannot stand fashion ponchos. i think they were an awful, awful trend and i like to think of them as my fashion nemesis.

Then tag 7 people and let them know so they can write 7 things. 7 people I would love to learn more about:

01. Amanda @ Amanda Kenney
02. Jen @ Saving Cents in the City
03. Krissy @ Pony Boy Press
04. Anelnina @ Angelnina's Cottage
05. Bryan @ Draw Damn you
06. Nikey Robo @ Fashion Ration
07. Summer @ Design is Mine

roasted tomatillo salsa verde!

05 May 2009


tomatillos are the cutest things ever. they are little tiny green tomatoes wrapped in leaves. i found mine at a winco supermarket, but if you have trouble finding them in the supermarket, you may want to try a mexican market if you have one in your area. i have always wanted to do something with tomitillos, but they are a bit intimidating to me for some reason, but a flickr contact gave me this recipe and i needed to try it. this was actually a super easy salsa to make and it is so good! it's a very mild salsa, but it's easy to pump up the spice with a hotter pepper. and i have a passionate love for cilantro, so anything with a mess of cilantro involved and i am totally sold.

roasted tomatillo salsa verde

1/2 pound tomatillos
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon lime juice
1/4 tablespoon sugar
2 jalapeno or serrano peppers (i used one because i am a wuss, but adjust to the heat you'd like) - stemmed, seeded, and chopped

broiler to high. remove papery husks from tomatillos and rinse well. cut in half and place cut side down on a foil lined baking sheet. cut peppers and place on baking sheet as well. roast in the broiler for about 4-6 minutes untill skins start to blacken. once they are roasted, allow them to cool for a few moments and place all the ingredients in a food processor or blender and pulse until ingredients are chopped and nicely mixed up together. add salt to taste and cool in the fridge before serving.

makes about 3 cups

i plan on trying out a few more recipes for salsa verde to see if i can get a high enough acidity for safe canning and storage but still keep the fresh flavor. more on that soon.

veggie empanadas!

04 May 2009

a few weeks ago, my coworker brought these little gems in for a potluck and i knew i needed to make them again. there was never really an official "recipe" for this so i did my best to document it as i made it...


vegetarian empanadas!

1 package of puff pastry (available in the freezer section)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/4 cup chopped onions
2 cloves minced garlic
1/2 cup chopped peppers (i used a combination of green, red, and a bit of serrano)
1/4 cup corn
1/4 cup cilantro
1 can black beans
1/4 cup of salsa or enchilada sauce
1 tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 cup shredded cheese


preheat oven to 400 degrees.
heat oil in a large skillet. add onions, garlic, and peppers and saute for about 5 minutes until onions are translucent. add corn, salsa, cilantro, and dry spices and simmer on low for about 5 more minutes. allow mixture to cool. add the cheese once the mix is cooled (basically you want to let the cheese melt in the oven instead of in the pan).
follow directions on the puff pastry box to thaw (probably about 40 minutes on the counter). once the pastry is thawed, roll it out on a floured surface to about 1/8". use a cookie cutter or a glass to cut little circles out of both sheets of puff pastry. add about a tablespoon of the filling to the center of each circle. rub a bit of water around the inner edges to help the sides stick and press with a fork around the edge to seal. prick the top a few times with a fork or toothpick to vent.
place the empanadas on a non-stick baking sheet and brush with egg wash (1 egg mixed with about a tablespoon of water). bake for about 10-20 minutes until brown.
makes about 9 small circle empanadas.

these came or really tasty and they were also adorable. next time i would make the pastry from scratch (though they may not be as flaky and puffy) , but i was making these for a friend's birthday party and i just wasn't feeling like all the fuss of making pastry dough too. shortcuts can be wonderful & yummy friends.

the bins

03 May 2009

something strange has happened to me. i have been posting to this blog for 2 months now and i realized that i have never even mentioned the bins. i tend shop there pretty often and i get a lot of great gems. i've been a little obsessed with it every since i first visited portland in 2002.

perhaps i need to explain, if you are not from portland, then "the bins" not immediately strike a chord with you. "the bins" is a term lovingly given to the goodwill outlet centers. goodwill stores essentially are always trying to turn over their stock so that there is always room for new items, so after about 6 weeks, they remove the items from the store and send them to the outlet for their last chance to be sold before they are recycled, turned to industrial rags, sent overseas, or sold to salvage brokers.

the glory of the outlet is that the clothes and housewares items are sold by the pound. one pound is $1.59. glass is .39 per pound. this price is for less than 10 pounds, however there is a bulk discount, so the more you buy, the cheaper it is per pound. the items are not neatly sorted and laid out for you, so there is a little bit of work that needs to be done to cash in on such a great deal. the items are dumped into huge movable plastic bins and laid out in aisles. each aisle is changed out ever few hours to constantly cycle the stock. usually a bin is filled with like items because that is how it came from the store, but not necessarily. there are textile bins, shoes, books, and "hard good bins" (aka everything else). there is also a section for bikes and furniture that are individually price (but priced cheaply and they are marked down in price each day they do not sell) the textile bins are not really any collection of a certain size or style, so little girls dresses are mixed right in with men's jackets. this just basically means you are in for a hunt.

i don't think my love of the bins comes out of my frugality so much as it comes from my love of a treasure hunt. there is something intoxicating about not knowing what you will find there (and the added bonus that it will cost next to nothing when you find it!). it does take some effort and you really need to be in a certain mood to be able to put in the energy, but i find the pay off to be worth it. there are actually a lot of people in portland that make their living by going to the bins and scoring amazing things for little money (the 50+ pound discount is much to their advantage) and then reselling the items. these people can be a little intense and get a bit wild when new stuff comes out.

portland is not the only place with a goodwill outlet. check this list for some places near you.

here are some quick tips if you decide to check out "the bins":

+ you might consider gloves if you are germphobic. remember that this is a collection of other people's donations and there could be some "undesirables". just proceed with caution. also, sometimes glass and things can break when they get thrown around on trucks and loaded into the bins or sharp edges can poke out, so be mindful before you throw your hands into the housewares sections.

+i tend to take the "take now, think later" approach for efficiency. if i find someone that looks mildly ok, i will throw it in the cart. then, after i'm done shopping, i stop and take a moment to carefully go through everything and check for stains or holds, make sure it would actually fit, and of course ask the important question "do i REALLY need this?"

+that being said...i won't lie, i am a totally scavenger. i do my best around the edges of the store or close to the registers because of other people doing the "take now think later" approach. someone else may have found some really cute things but realized they were not their size or they just didn't have a place for them, so they tend to leave a discard pile of some pretty awesome things.

+leave the kids at home. i see a lot of...umm...let's go with "disappointing" parenting going on at the bins. if your child can reach up and stick their hands into the bins, they might not really realize what they are grabbing at and could end up getting hurt. it's a pretty consuming shopping experience, so it seems it is just really hard to shop and also keep your attention to the children. i don't even want to tell you how many times i have seen a child grab something from a bin that has been who knows where and stick it in their mouth. gross. it is definitely a great place to get toys and clothes for your kids on a tight budget, but it is probably best not to take them on the trip.

+oxyclean is a gift from the heavens. seriously. get some at target and it will change your perspective on what is a salvageable item and what might be trash. i just got a cute pink vintage dress there on friday, but it had a little dinge to it (which just happens to a lot of vintage clothes) and i soaked it in the sink with oxyclean for an hour then threw it in the wash...now it is just as lovely and bright as they day it was purchased 40 years ago!

so, now that you know what the bins is...let me show you my amazing find from friday...
BEST BELT BUCKLE EVER for $1.50! much love to katy for bringing it to my attention! she rules. it needs to be attached to a new, longer belt but wow! so amazing and perfect! i also got a lovely dress, some fabric, a cake plate, some books on canning, and a few other gems...but this crafty belt buckle is one of my favorite finds to date.

$5 meals: easy chickpea curry

02 May 2009

easy chickpea curry

1 tablespoon vegetable oil - .10
2 cloves of garlic - .10
1/2 medium onion finely chopped - .50
1 15oz can chickpeas (garbanzo beans)- drained and rinsed - $1
2 diced ripe tomatoes or 1 15oz can diced tomatoes - $1
1/2 head of cauliflower - chopped - 1/2 @ $1.50 = .75
1 red or yellow pepper - diced - .50
1-2 tablespoons curry powder (i used yellow, but use any kind you like) - .50
1/2 cup water - negligible
salt and pepper to taste - negligible

total = $4.45 makes 4 servings ($1.11 per serving)

heat oil in a large pot and add onion and garlic and saute until translucent. this should take about 5 minutes.
add cauliflower, pepper, and curry and saute for another 2-3 minutes.
add water, chickpeas, and tomatoes. simmer for about 15 minutes

ok, i admit, this might be a more like a $6 meal because it is best served over some basmati rice. but it's still very cost effective at less than $2 per serving and it's really delicious and filling!

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