Monday, January 30, 2012

Cooking and Serving with a Purpose

YouthCare, is an organization that serves Seattle's homeless youth, by providing them with food, shelter, counseling, education, and employment training. Last Thursday, January 26th, they had organized an event, wherein volunteers cooked and served a wonderful meal to homeless youth. Guess who the lucky participant was? No, not me, but my husband! The team comprised of 3, including my husband, and they cooked this wonderful spread for 70 homeless youth, and served it to them.

The 3 of them cooked chili, corn bread muffins, and vegetable lasagna, and they made a fresh green salad. They also had juice boxes and chips on the side that they handed over to everybody. The kitchen scene apparently was like one of those Dinner Impossible episodes! But they managed to get everything ready in 2 hours and served a delicious meal to every kid there.

Chili simmering away in 3 HUGE pots!
Going into the oven

Corn bread muffins all baked and ready to be served!
Juice boxes

What a wonderful way to give! So proud of you, A, and your team! :) Thanks to the people at YouthCare for all their amazing work! I hope to be able to help in the future.......

Note to my readers: I am terrible at expressing my deep emotional thoughts into words (I can't say it, nor can I pen it). But I do realize that each day, I must count my blessings and be thankful for everything I have been given- food, shelter, and most importantly, loving family and friends.

P.S.: The chili and corn bread muffins were pretty dang good; thanks A, for bringing me back a sample to taste!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Basil Pesto Tilapia

On one of my recent trips to Costco, they were giving out samples of this new item- basil pesto tilapia, and it sure smelled good. It was a Thursday, and so I refrained from tasting it, even though it was very tempting. Now Thursdays are supposedly "pure vegetarian" days in our household. I don't remember why we started doing this in the first place. I mean, for starters, we don't even eat meat everyday. In fact, we are pretty timid meat eaters and moreover, we are more vegetarian than meat-eaters. So it is really not a big deal at all..... but anyway, that's just something we do every Thursday. So coming back to that basil pesto tilapia- I almost picked up a packet from the frozen section, however, I decided not to. I mean, why buy frozen stuff when I can re-create it at home, all nice and fresh, right? It seemed pretty darn simple anyways.

I took:

1. 4 tilapia filets, marinated for 30 minutes with lemon juice, garlic powder, salt and black pepper

2. Pesto sauce from a bottle. I usually have Costco's basil pesto- a great thing to have in your refrigerator for anytime use; though making pesto is a breeze. All you need is some fresh basil, pine nuts and olive oil. A couple pulses in the food processor and there, you got yourself some great, fresh pesto! If you don't have pine nuts, no problem- a great substitute would be almonds.

Costco's Awesome Pesto!
Um, yeah, that's pretty much my ingredient list for this preparation!

1. I took my pan, put in a teaspoon of oil. You could just spray some Pam, if you'd like. Then got the heat going.

2. I placed each filet onto the pan with the hot oil. While the first side was cooking, I spooned in a little bit of pesto onto each filet and spread it out.

3. After about a couple to 3 minutes, I flipped each filet and cooked the side with the pesto. And then I spooned in a tad bit more of that pesto onto the already cooked side. A couple more minutes and it was done and looked gorgeous! And the taste couldn't go wrong with that delicious pesto in the lemony background- fabulous!

Basil Pesto Tilapia
I served this beautiful basil pesto tilapia with brown basmati, jazzed up with pesto as well, and some carrot and cucumber salad. I also made a lovely dill and chive bud sauce to go with the fish and the rice. Mm, mm, mm- a very delectable meal indeed!

Simple carrot and cucumber salad

Fresh, not frozen stuff!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Dino Kale Stir-Fry

I took my kids to PCC yesterday to buy vegetables. You know me- I LOVE vegetables. Gotta eat those vegetables! Yes, I often nag my family with this sentence and I am certain if not now, they will thank me later in life. So, going to back to our little veggie-shopping trip to PCC- in the greens section, I saw this interesting looking really dark green kale. Now I use kale, swiss chard, collard greens, and spinach of course, on a regular basis. But never bought this particular type of kale. The name sounded very interesting as well- "Dino Kale." And yes indeed- if you look at the leaves, they look all bumpy and reptile-like. My son got excited at the "dino" part of it and so we picked it up. The idea was to make a quick stir-fry with the kale. Apparently the other name for this kale is Lacinato Kale, also known as black cabbage, Tuscan kale and cavalo nero. And it is widely used in Tuscan cooking. (This is from the little info tag that comes along with the veggie).

"Dino" Kale

1. 1 small onion, finely chopped. A shallot or two would be just fine.
2. Salt, some black pepper powder
3. A pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
4. 3-4 teaspoons of cooking oil
5. And oh, don't forget the dino (or regular) kale! Chop it up (I read somewhere that the thick stem needs to be discarded. But I just chopped up everything- it was pretty tender. Besides, I am still alive and kicking, so guess it is not bad for ya!)


Again, like most of my cooking, this is an extremely easy recipe and takes max 10 minutes.

1. Take a pan, pour in 3-4 teaspoons of cooking oil and get the heat going.
2. Add some freshly ground pepper/black pepper powder, followed by the finely chopped onion and some salt to taste.
3. Let the onion sweat a bit- for about 5 minutes, until translucent. This would be on medium flame.
4. Then throw in the chopped dino kale and stir-fry it all (higher than medium flame) until the leaves start to wilt. At this point, you could add a pinch of cayenne pepper if you'd like. Give it a quick taste. Depending on how much bite you like in your veggies, the kale stir-fry should be ready in approximately 3 to 5 minutes.

Stir-frying the dino kale
Dino Kale Stir-Fry
Kale itself is a delicious vegetable. Dino Kale is one notch more delicious- I think, mostly because of its name and appearance. It is a bit sweeter than regular kale, that tends to have this hint of bitterness in it.

A tip: At the end, add a dab of butter. It'll kick up the flavor by quite a bit! ;) 

Dino Kale has made it to my son's "favorite vegetable list."  I mean, I was literally shocked to see his plate totally devoid of any green at the end of the meal! Am guessing it was the "Dino" that did it!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Here's to 2012!

Every New Year we like to reminisce about events from the previous year. So I thought, for my first post of the year 2012, I shall quickly jot down some notable good eats from the year 2011 (as much as my little brain can recollect), starting with the most recent one:

1. The chorizo tacos, chicken fajitas, Camarones a la Diabla and chips and salsa at Taqueria La Venedita in Issaquah. Unfortunately I do not have any pictures.

2. The Currywurst at Leavenworth.

Currywurst with jalapenos, hot jalapeno mustard and sauerkraut
3. Fish Molee at Sadya Palace. Again, no pictures.

4. Pizza made by our dear daughter- she made it from scratch! In fact, I must post her recipe one of these days. She made it for our wedding anniversary. It was truly superb!

Nani's Pizza!
5. Mongolian "Beef" and veggies made by my brother.

Hot and spicy Mongolian "Beef" & Veggies
6. Chantarelle stir-fry made by my brother.

Buttery Chantarelle
7. Of course the Benne Masala Dosa at CTR and the gobi manchuri at RSI that I had when I visited my folks in September. No pictures again! 

I am sure there were plenty other good eats in 2011, and I sure am not going to try and remember every single one of them. But overall, 2011 was good and here's wishing everybody a Very Healthy and Happy 2012!

P.S.: Don't make too many of those resolutions....... I know I am not! ;)