I’m currently basking in post-exam bliss. 2L is almost over (still wrapping up clinic things), and I am ridiculously excited to enjoy the warmer weather before starting work for the summer (for which I’m also excited. Yes, I am a dork). Now if only it would stop raining.
Berries made their market debut a bit earlier this year, and they are actually quite sweet! I bought some strawberries at Trader Joe’s the other day for some strawberry shortcakes (recipe coming shortly. Oh. Ha. Pun.) and decided to use the leftovers for a smoothie–my new go-to study snack when working at home. I recently picked up a bag of chia seeds at TJ’s and threw some of them in as well. I became fascinated by chia seeds after learning they are rich in Omega-3s and fiber. Plus they are supposed to help with weight loss (always a good thing in my book) and, unlike flax seeds, you don’t have to worry about grinding them up or having them go rancid. They’ve got a pretty long shelf life and can be eaten straight out of the package. I wonder what other 90’s fads will turn out to have crazy good health benefits…
There’s nothing I hate more than a cold. This past week was pretty bad health-wise for those of us at the law school. It seemed like all of my friends were sick, and my friend Amanda and I got pretty bad colds. All of my Vitamin C consumption just couldn’t stave off the law school germs. It probably didn’t help that I’ve been staying up late doing work for the past week and a half, but what’s done is done. I’m just hoping that I’ve fulfilled my cold quota for the year and that the germs will now leave me alone. What can I say? I’m an optimist sometimes.
After a week of soup, soup, and more soup, I was really craving something hearty last night. I spotted this recipe for vegetarian burger a few days ago on Tastespotting and pinned it within seconds of reading the ingredient list. I love black beans. Black bean soup, black bean salad, black beans burritos. You name it, I will eat it. And I love veggie burgers. I’m always looking for more ways to get in my daily dose of protein, and this was just the ticket. It’s hearty and flavorful, and you can easily adapt it to what’s in your kitchen.
The original recipe calls for quinoa, but I am somehow completely out. So I substituted farro. While the grains normally take 35 to 45 minutes to cook, Trader Joe’s now makes a great ten-minute variety. I am actually obsessed. If you haven’t tried farro yet, you definitely should. It’s nutty and filling, and Oprah has classified it as a health food (so it must be true). All I know is that I feel great eating this whole-grain, and it doesn’t hurt that it tastes fantastic!
Yesterday was uncharacteristically warm, topping off at over 60 degrees with tons of sunshine and practically no wind. Given that D.C. has been in the 20s and 30s since Inauguration weekend, this random burst of warmth was quite welcome. I wore a dress for the first time in ages and gave my wool coat a break as I opted for a vest.
Don’t get me wrong; I love cold weather. But cold winter days have a tendency to put me in a rut, both wardrobe-wise and foodwise. Not only do I pile on layer upon layer of sweaters and coats, but I also feel like I need hearty, filling food to cope with the season. The problem is that most comfort food consists of rich stews, roasted chickens, and lentil- or bean-filled chili or soup. Needless to say, one gets really sick of eating the “brown” food group most of the time, and yesterday’s weather was the perfect reason to break this habit.
I tried to stick to winter-friendly ingredients–things that you can find in plentitude during the cold season. The crunchy kale pairs well with the bold flavor of blood oranges and the sometimes sharp bites of fennel. Plus, combining blood orange juice with sherry vinaigrette produces a dressing with the perfect amount of tang. And–personal health plug–this salad is packed with vitamins and antioxidants. Total win.
So here’s to incorporating color into your winter menu. Happy eating.
** Side note: I’ll post the promised Smitten Kitchen side dish on Friday. I just thought the weather called for a salad post!
Confession: I really really really wanted carbonara last night. I knew that I had cream in the fridge, a bit of a pecorino, eggs, and a couple slices of bacon in the freezer, so I trekked home with high hopes of a totally unhealthy meal. Well, folks, I apparently had other uses for that bacon because it was MIA. Honestly, I don’t have a clue what I did with it. I’m sure it got used in some pasta or as the base for a hearty tomato sauce, but the bacon mystery totally foiled my artery-clogging plans for dinner.
Well, I couldn’t really justify spending more money on ingredients from Whole Foods when I have a well-stocked pantry (and I may have already changed into pajama pants by this point…). Since it’s been pretty chilly this week, I settled on this low calorie soup. Because I used tortellini, it was quite filling and wound up being the perfect solution to my Italian comfort food craving.
A quick note on ingredients: the above are my favorite type of sun dried tomatoes. They’re not packed in anything, so you just get some concentrated tomato flavor; plus, they rehydrate beautifully. I get them at the Korean grocery store by my mom’s. I’m sure you can make them yourself, but these cost me just under $2 and they last forever if you keep them in the fridge. I highly suggest scouring your local ethnic grocery stores for some.
And, with that, happy eating!
So it appears that my meat thermometer is out of whack. I suppose I should just cough up the twenty bucks or so to get a fancy instant read, but I’m being cheap. Don’t worry, I’ll cave before I bake any chickens or make another large piece of meat. In any case, it made making this pork loin a bit more difficult than I would have liked.
Pork is tricky. It’s one of those meats that, if cooked beyond a certain point, can’t really be salvaged–or at least not in my books. While a rare steak can just become a medium to medium-well one, you’ve got a small margin of error for things like pork. So, when I realized my thermometer could not possibly be reading the right temp, I decided it was time to intervene and watch this baby like a hawk. I’ve also never made a pork loin before (bizarre, I know). Apparently, I’m less daunted by a giant turkey than I am by a 1 lb piece of meat. Go figure.
Anyway, the results were well worth my OCD meat-monitoring tendencies. This was flavorful and incredibly tender–even if it was just a teensy bit more cooked than what I was aiming for. Take that, meat thermometer!
So, with that, I’m taking recommendations for meat thermometers. And you should betake yourself to the store and get yourself some pork tenderloin.
Remember that time I had a food blog that got put on the back burner first during exams and then while I let my mother feed me over break? Yeah, I do. Sorry ’bout that. Blogger fail. BUT one of resolutions this year is to be better about blogging. That and keeping my “to do” lists organized in a Moleskine journal. Oh, and to pack my lunch more often. Don’t worry, I have already put all of these on a “to do” list.
Anyway, let’s work on two of those, shall we? Today, I bring you a tortellini salad that takes about as long to make as it does to boil some pasta. It features some colorful vegetables–which I think is what most people are hoping to add to their diet around this time of year. The best part, however, is that this salad incorporates my favorite condiment at the moment: red pesto. Made from sun-dried tomatoes, cashews, and some quality olive oil, I first fell in love with it while studying abroad and rediscovered it after picking up a jar from Eataly this past summer. My friend Amanda was kind enough to replenish my stock and to grab a jar of my favorite brand on her last trip to NYC (I have the greatest friends ever). I have yet to make my own, but something tells me that attempt is right down the road.
A few Saturdays ago, I visited one of my favorite Ethiopian restaurants in D.C., Etete, with my friends West & Amanda (of apple and pumpkin picking fame). I love trying different ethnic cuisines, and Ethiopian food is definitely near the top of my list. We settled on the vegetarian combination (without fish), some Kitfo (a spicy beef curry), and Yebeg Alicha (a milder lamb stew). Everything was delicious. While I love the meat curries, I’ve mentioned before on the blog that I’m not much of a meat eater. As a result, it was only natural that my favorite part of the meal wound up being the variety of lentils in the veggie combo.
This, of course, made me crave some of my mom’s parippu. If you’ve ever eaten Indian food, this is probably better known to you as Daal. Just think of this as the Kerala version of the dish. I wound up calling my mother so many times last night that she thought I’d been in some sort of accident when she saw all the missed calls. Nope, just needed the recipe.
While I was pleased with the results, this would have benefit from some cilantro and curry leaves. I, of course, had neither because I ran out of the former and pretty much never have the latter. What can I say? I’m a bad Indian. Cilantro or not, this dish is delicious, healthy, and easy to make. And, now that Trader Joe’s sells red lentils, you really have no excuse not to make this. Happy eating!
Dear Future Exam-Taking Self:
While I appreciate that you had grand plans to start outlining this weekend, you really made a wise decision by visiting Union and Eastern Markets with friend and foodie Amanda, doing laundry, getting ahead on reading, and, you know, choosing to make granola instead of opening those pesky class notes. While you may not actually understand the rules of evidence as well as you should, keep in mind how delicious procrastination was. One day, you may make those granola-crusted nuts that inspired you on Smitten Kitchen. But, until then, just remember to breathe and to take a bite of your latest creation. While it may not give you the answer as to what constitutes a Fourth Amendment violation, it will provide endless comfort in the form of mildly sweetened oats, chocolate, pecans, and cranberries. You. Are. Welcome.
All the best,
Present Outline-Avoiding Self
I’ve been doing a lot of researching and writing these days, so, naturally, this mandates an appropriate amount of snacking. These are my latest go-to snacks. Hope you enjoy them as much as I do!