Friday, May 25, 2012

Friday Links: Cocktails to Sip

Picnic at the Maroon Bells at sunset with dear PT school friends
(and the hubby).
This week I have been spending time with friends in Aspen and then down in the lowlands of Denver, where we have been battling the stifling heat.  I finished up all my final requirements, and today I celebrated my graduation.  I have been hopping around to different couches and enjoying precious time with dear friends.  Now it is time to celebrate our accomplishments, and how better than with a flirty summertime cocktail?  So, without further adieu, I am headed to the park to drink a mojito and play some lawn games.  Have a wonderful holiday weekend!

Five Cocktails for a Sunny Weekend (or weekday)
1. Classic or watermelon mojitos: minty good and oh so refreshing.
2. The El Diablo: tequila meets some new friends.
3: Elderflower Champagne Cocktail: sweet and cool at the same time.
4. Strawberry-Basil Lemonade: fruity meets fresh.
2. Coffee Vanilla Milkshake: with a good kick.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Home Alone: White Bean and Spinach Saute

White Bean and Spinach Saute.  Served with Kale Salad and
Roasted Cauliflower
Yep. Its true.  I have been home alone all weekend long.  After an early dinner at Matsuhisa Aspen on Friday to celebrate my final day of clinical, Steven packed up his rental car and headed to Denver to hop a flight to North Carolina. He spent the weekend celebrating his twin brother's graduation from Duke Divinity School, and is currently re-experiencing the wonders of Disney in Orlando, Florida.  While he has been away I have been relaxing and enjoying the peace of a few days off.  Besides crashing a rather hilarious party next door on Saturday night,* I have been happily cooking, exercising, cooking again, and watching movies.  Being too lazy to head to the store one evening, I cleaned out the pantry for this delightful dinner.  It was quick, easy, tasty, and healthy. What more can a girl with a chick flick ask for?

This dish can easily be made vegan by omitting the shrimp and goat cheese.

White Bean and Spinach Saute
Serves 2 (I saved my leftovers for an easy Sunday lunch)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 of an onion, cut into half moons
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup almonds, roughly chopped
  • 8 ounces large shrimp, peeled and devined
  • 1 (15 ounce) can of white beans or cannelloni beans
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 2 cups spinach, trimmed and roughly chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Crumbled goat cheese (optional for garnish)
  1. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add onions and saute until soft and just beginning to brown, 5-10 minutes.  
  2. Add garlic and almonds and cook until garlic is fragrant, 1-2 minutes.
  3. Push pan contents to one side and add a little more oil in the empty space if necessary.  Allow the oil to come to temperature (10 seconds), then add the shrimp.  Sear on each side for 1 minute before combining into the vegetable mixture.  
  4. Add beans and heat through. When the beans have warmed, add the red wine and cook until the wine has reduced to 1/2 its volume.  
  5. Lower heat to medium-low and stir in spinach until just wilted, about 1 minute.
  6. Add salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil.
  7. Serve topped with soft goat cheese.
*Our landlord and his friend were experimenting with fried fish on the charcoal barbecue.  I went over to drop off some bread, and found them out back with two large pans of oil, beer batter, and about 5 pounds of fish.  I stayed for a lot of laughs and a few glasses of wine. 

Friday, May 11, 2012

Friday Links: On the Grill

Tequila Lime Grilled Chicken
Photo: Smitten Kitchen
Happy Friday!  Today I celebrate my final day as an intern.  The next time I work in a clinic I will (hopefully) receive a paycheck.  The ending is bittersweet, as I have had a wonderful experience during my clinical rotations.  As I look ahead to my very uncertain future, I am excited for warm summer days and eating outside on our little patio.  Thus, the inspiration for the post earlier this week, and for these links to some grilled delights. In other news the ditch/creek that flows in our front got turned on yesterday, and makes for a lovely sound.  It flows all summer to water the historic cottonwood trees that line our street.  Have a wonderful weekend, and cook outside.

Our ditch/creek and our mint
Carnivorous: Tequila Lime Grilled Chicken
Exotic: Flatbread Stuffed with Curried Potatoes, Spinach and Chickpeas
Healthy: Grilled Romaine
Traditional: Corn on the Cob
Unusual: Grilled Guacamole

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce

Is it really May already?  I am finishing up my final clinical and preparing to spend 2 weeks in Denver finishing my last bits of education before becoming a graduate of physical therapy school, which means I will no longer identify as a student.  Besides my year off gallivanting in Breckenridge, I have been in school for the past 8 years.  While I will never promise my husband that I won't go back for more, there is nothing planned in the near future.  Being in full time clinical rotations for the past 8 months has eased this transition, but it is still a peculiar notion.  This transition has come along with an unseasonably warm spring here in the mountains, meaning that the aspens have vibrant green leaves and the cherry trees are blossoming.  This early transition to summer weather means we have pulled out the barbecue.  Chicken satay is delicious on a grill pan, but divine on the real thing.  These juicy skewers make appetizers for a group, or throw some veggies on the grill too and you will have a lovely dinner for 4.  I halved the recipe, hence the smaller amount of chicken in the pictures.  Happy grilling.

Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce
Adapted from Tyler Florence

  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into strips
  • 20 wooden skewers, soaked in water 30 minutes
  • Vegetable oil, for grilling
  • Butter lettuce leaves (optional garnish)
  • Fresh cilantro leaves (optional garnish)
  • Peanut sauce, recipe follows

  1. Combine the yogurt, ginger, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, and curry powder in a shallow mixing bowl, stir to combine. Place the chicken strips in the yogurt marinade and gently toss until well coated. Cover and let the chicken marinate in the refrigerator for at up to 2 hours.
  2. Thread the chicken pieces onto the soaked skewers working the skewer in and out of the meat, down the middle of the piece, so that it stays in place during grilling. Place a grill pan over medium heat and brush it with oil to prevent the meat from sticking, or preheat a barbecue to medium. 
  3. Grill the chicken satays for 3 to 5 minutes on each side, until nicely seared and cooked through. Serve the satays on a platter lined with lettuce leaves and cilantro; accompanied by a small bowl of peanut sauce on the side.

 Peanut Sauce
  • 1 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons red chili paste, such as sambal or 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
  • Zest of 1 lime
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 1/2 cup hot water

  1. Combine the peanut butter, soy sauce, red chili paste, ginger, zest, brown sugar, and lime juice in a food processor or blender. Puree to combine. 
  2. While the motor is running, drizzle in the hot water to thin out the sauce, you may not need all of it. Serve with chicken satay.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Vegetarian Breakfast Scramble in Moab

Last summer we had a fabulous party to celebrate our wedding.  We were also fortunate enough to receive some awesome gifts.  We have always had a pretty good backpacking set up, but we usually made-do car camping in our ultra-light tent with a miniature stove.  This past weekend we headed to Moab, Utah for some desert sunshine and mountain biking.  We brought along our recently purchased REI garage sale tent ($24 and 6 feet tall), and the fancy Coleman stove and camping chairs we received as wedding gifts.  I had a camp food revelation: you can actually cook real meals on this stove!  Friday night we arrived at our campsite around 9:30, and I cooked some basic pasta with mushrooms, onions and garlic.  The next morning we woke up and made pancakes topped with strawberries and yogurt.  After a fun day of mountain biking, we had delicious Thai food in town on Saturday night.  Sunday morning we decided to cook the rest of the eggs we had brought for the pancakes, and made a lovely scramble to fuel another day on the bikes.  Pictures of our adventures below.
Camp Kitchen

Vegetarian Scramble

Serves 2

  • 1 tablespoon oil or butter
  • 1/2 medium onion, small dice
  • 1 green bell pepper, small dice
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten with a fork
  • 1 teaspoon parsley or basil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Heat the oil or butter in the skillet over medium heat.  Add onions and saute stirring 1-2 minutes.  Reduce heat and allow to slowly caramelize for 10-15 minutes. 
  2. Add bell pepper and garlic and saute another 1-2 minutes until softened.
  3. Push vegetables over to one side increase heat back to medium.  Pour eggs into pan and do not stir for 1-2 minutes.
  4. Using a spatula, carefully begin incorporating the vegetables into the egg, making sure to fully remove the egg from the bottom of the pan.
  5. When eggs are soft set, sprinkle over the parsley and work into the mixture.  Cook 1 minute longer.
  6. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve alone or with toast.
For those of you who want to see pictures of our adventures, here you go: