October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween and yes, I'm still alive!

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It has been so long since I have had an opportunity to blog that I almost think I forgot how to blog!  We have been in our new home  now for two weeks.  I started my new job last week and prior to that, spent a bit of time driving around with my gps, getting to know the area some.  I had opportunity to have lunch with my Aunt a couple of times (yes, I do have family down here and that does make me happy!) and been in awe of the convenience of everything around me.  It isn't far, but with traffic it does take longer than it would if I were up north travelling!

We have met our new neighbors who have two adorable kids (whom I intend to share these cookies with!) and Grumpy even seems a bit social!  He and his co-worker have become buddies and we had opportunity to attend a huge car show with them prior to my moving down here.  We are looking forward to spending time with and meeting new friends (and you all know I want to cook for them!) and Grumpy....he is working hard and a lot - but he is so much happier!

Now, Miss Kitty however, is not a happy camper.  Her mouth runs constantly.  The first week she was pretty quiet and didn't ask to go outside.  Now, she won't stop meowing.  The poor girl wants outside....just look at her!

We are slowly but surely putting together our home.  Grumpy has to help with the decorating though because
I am only good at appreciating pretty things (other than food!) and no good at putting it together.  I did put together somewhat of a "halloween" decoration on the low boy in our hallway.   However, I am now where near as good as my daughter-in-law at decorating for halloween!  (remember last year's party?)

We are pretty excited (well I am pretty excited!) about having trick or treaters this year too.  We were warned by our neighbors that we could run out of candy!  We haven't had trick or treaters in so long now though that I don't care! :)

Hopefully today I will get to make something yummy to blog about.  I would love to be back into the swing of things.  One thing is certain.  I have people who are willing to eat (or maybe I should say be my guinea pigs?) the food I make!  I think.  ha ha.  So, I am back.  Not quite with a vengence, but maybe just in time for holiday treats to share with you, my new friends and new co-workers!  See you around!

October 14, 2010

My newest addiction

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Have you ever had a fresh rice paper roll?  If not, I suggest you rush right out to find them and make these!  You will become totally addicted!

My first experience with fresh spring rolls was at the new Thai place in Potsdam, NY.  They make these awesome fresh vegetable spring rolls.  That is my lunch often when I go there.  Knowing that I will be leaving this area and not super familiar with Albany food (yet I am sure I will become familiar soon!) I decided I was going to make these spring rolls I saw in my Veganomicon cookbook.  I made a few substitutions since, as I have been saying all week, I am using up what I have before we move out this week.  :o)

I shared these rolls with my dad, mom, and brother Phil - along with the Chickpea-Quinoa Pilaf.  So yummy and we all loved them!  I never made spring rolls before because I always had the illusion it was too much work.  How wrong I was!  Definitely worth making and eating - often!

Friday I will be posting a farewell to the north country post.  I will be listing the local restaurants in my area that I tended to frequent along with links to their sites if available.  I haven't ever done reviews for restaurants on my blog, but since I am leaving the area, I feel like I would like to thank them for being there and giving me a great variety of places to eat for lunch (or dinner).  Make sure to come back to check that post out! 

Butternut Squash Almond Rice Paper Rolls
adapted from Veganomicon

1 lb butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced into smaller pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
12 round rice paper wrappers
4 ounces rice noodles, cooked as per instructions
1 cup fresh cilantro roughly chopped
1/3 cup roasted slivered almonds, slightly chopped and salted

Dipping Sauce
2 Tablespoons Shoyu Soy Sauce
3 Tablespoons rice vinegar
1/2 - 1 Tablespoon sambal olek chili sauce (depending on heat factor desired)
2 Tablespoons sugar

Mix the dipping sauce ingredients together and set aside to rest.  This gives the sauce time to dissolve the sugar.  When I made the sauce I added a little bit of chili sauce at a time until I could taste the heat but not burn my mouth terribly!

To make the spring rolls:
Roast the squash with olive oil in the oven.  I placed in single layers on a oiled cookie sheet and after 15 minutes, turned the pieces over and roasted another 10 minutes or so.  Remove from oven and set aside.

Cook rice noodles according to package directions.  Set aside.

Toast the slivered almonds on the stove top in a frying pan.  Watch these carefully as they will burn quickly if you look away!  I salted these a little and then, after browning, sat aside to cool for a few minutes, then chopped them in smaller pieces.

Chop ciilantro in larger pieces. 

To assemble:
Prepare rice paper sheets according to package directions.
Lay rice paper sheet out on towel and blot water from top to make the roll somewhat sticky.  Assemble rolls by layering the following on the lower portion of roll, leaving about 1" on each side of filling. 

Rice noodles

Fold sides over roll and then roll from bottom to top.  Slice rolls in thirds or fourths and sit upright on plate.  Drizzle with dipping sauce.  Serve with  more dipping sauce on the side if desired.  Eat & ENJOY!

October 13, 2010

Summer meets Autumn Muffins

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I think everyone knows how much I love muffins.  I think they also know I am a big blueberry fan too.  How many know I love pumpkin and apple flavors?  lol.  I haven't had the opportunity to make pumpkin anything yet, but when I am settled in to my new home next week, one of the first things I plan to make is the recipe Cristine posted for her Frosted Pumpkin Cookies!  Yes!  They are eggless :)

October 11, 2010

Fallin' for Quinoa

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There hasn't been a whole lot of cooking going on here lately.  A lot of packing and getting ready for our move which is happening real soon! (Like this Saturday!) I worked my last day at Clarkson University last Friday.  It still doesn't seem real - that I have left a job I have done for almost 14 years.  I guess when I start my new job in a few weeks it will feel more real!

I've been trying some new recipes lately with some new ingredients that I haven't had a lot of experience with!  One of the new foods to me is Quinoa.  I now know why people love this pretty little high protein grain! (you can get this grain in red, white, and black colors!) Filling, great for you and when fixed this way, super flavorful!  The original recipe comes from the Veganomicon cookbook.  I made this with a few of my own changes and let me tell you....I could eat this stuff breakfast, lunch, and dinner!  Try it out for yourself, you will not regret it!

Chickpea-Quinoa Pilaf
adapted from Veganomicon

1 medium white onion, chopped
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon coriander, crushed
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1 tablespoon tomato paste
3/4 cup quinoa (I used red for color contrast)
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
11/2 cups water
2 teaspoons vegetable better than bouillon paste

Saute onions and garlic in olive oil until onions are soft.  Add cumin and coriander seeds and saute a couple if minutes.  Add salt, pepper, and tomato paste.  Stir and cook one minute.  Add Quinoa and saute about 2 minutes.  Stir in chickpeas, water, and vegetable paste.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes or until Quinoa has soaked up the liquids.

This is excellent warm or cold!
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