Stuffed Figs wrapped in Proscuitto

Oh my goodness! These were tasty! I ordered some figs last week and finally used them up last night. I could have just eaten these for dinner last night, but I was good and just ate one for dessert. (Some dessert, eh? Something wrapped in proscuitto…Lol.)

Figs stuffed with goat cheese, wrapped in proscuitto

  • Pint of figs
  • 4 oz. fresh goat cheese, chilled (a small log)
  • 3-4 oz. thinly sliced proscuitto
  • agave nectar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Wash your figs. Cut the very tops off and slice an X from the top down about 3/4 of the way (look at the picture). Take a scoop of chilled goat cheese and roll it into a small log using your hands. Place inside of the fig. Slice a piece of proscuitto in half, lengthwise, and wrap it around the fig, holding it all together. Repeat until your are out of figs (or goat cheese or proscuitto). Slide into the oven. Bake for about 10-12 minutes, until the proscuitto starts to get crisp. Pull out of oven and let cool for a few minutes. Before serving, drizzle with a teaspoon of agave nectar.

Quinoa Salad

I woke up yesterday morning to the following text from my dad (time stamped 4:55 am): “Kosta Jay was born at 11:56. He weighed 5 lbs 13 oz. Tiny little guy looks just like his dad,” followed by a flurry of texts from everyone else in my family, including the happy new parents. As many of you already know, my cousin Daryl and his beautiful wife Jessica are two of my favorite people. Daryl is like a brother to me (and always has been the brother-I-never-had) and Jessica became part of our family instantly (sorry, Daryl, you didn’t really have a choice, we would have kept her around no matter what. Lol). Anyway, the happy couple welcomed a beautiful baby boy into the world late late Tuesday night. I went to work, but couldn’t stand it any longer. I put in leave for the rest of the day and headed home to cook a quick lunch to bring with me to the hospital. Jess has always loved my quinoa dishes so that is what I made (with fresh veggies from Terra-Organic AND from our garden).

I was lucky enough to spend a long time with just Daryl, Jess, and the new baby before more people came in (I feel like I totally invaded their day, sorry guys!). I can’t get over how beautiful that little guy is. He sure is lucky to have those two as his parents! They are going to do a wonderful job (they already are!).

A little note to my friends and family:

This is, in no way my way of saying that I’m baby crazy, or that I even want kids at all. I was there for 3 diaper changes, that’s enough birth control for me for awhile.

Quinoa Salad

  • 3/4 cup quinoa (I used blonde because it’s a little lighter, but this would work with red or black too for a heartier taste)
  • a couple good handfuls of stemmed kale
  • 1/2 white onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 3-4 T. EVOO
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 8-10 white mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 tsp rubbed sage
  • 1/2 tsp italian seasoning
  • salt and pepper to taste

Cook quinoa according to the package. Then set aside. Boil water and prepare an ice bath to blanch the kale. Just boil it for about 3 minutes, then dunk it in ice bath. After kale is cool, squeeze out water, and dice it. Heat EVOO over medium-high heat. Saute garlic and onion until the onions are transluecent, careful not to burn the garlic (or the onions). Add in diced red pepper and sliced mushrooms, as well as a few tablespoons of water and reduce heat to medium. Add seasonings. Saute for 3-5 minutes longer. You want the veggies to still have a bit of a crunch to them, not too soft. Remove from heat Add in the blanched kale and quinoa. Toss to mix. Add a little more EVOO if it seems to dry (mine didn’t need it). Can be served immediately, at room temperature, or cold (which is how I ate some later that day).

This is a great dish to play with. You could add in diced chicken, different veggies, add a little lime or lemon juice and cut out the sage. The possibilities are endless. Quinoa is great for a clean-out-the fridge base, although that’s not what this dish was this time. When I went home before heading to the hospital I stopped to get some mushrooms, my veggie delivery was sitting on the front step when I pulled up to our house, and the kale came out of out garden the evening before. Can’t get much fresher than that!

And I have my life back…

Session ended awhile ago, I’m still catching up with the rest of my life. It was a whirlwind. It’s difficult to move back across the country and start working so much right away. I’m not going to say that I didn’t enjoy it though. I like to stay busy. But it’s also nice to have a chance to catch up on the more enjoyable things in life. I’ve been able to cook more (and finally clean, not that it wasn’t done while I was working all the time, but it’s nice now to be able to pitch in). I’ve been able to spend more time with my family, Keith, and my friends. I’m still playing catch-up in that arena though. There are still people I haven’t seen since we moved back, I’m working on it though.

I took Keith to Seabrook, Washington, this last weekend for his birthday. It was the perfect weekend getaway. He finally saw the Pacific Ocean for the first time (I know, right!). He loved it. It was exactly what we both needed….relaxation and not a care in the world.

I have failed greatly at pulling out my camera to capture images of the delicious meals we’ve been creating. That doesn’t mean I don’t have recipes though :)

Baked Salmon In Foil

  • one salmon fillet, large enough to feed 3-4 people (not sure how many ounces…the ones we use are usually just over an inch thick at the thickest, and 8-9 inches long, 6-7 inches wide at their widest)
  • 2 T. EVOO
  • one lemon, half sliced in rounds, reserve the rest to squeeze on salmon after served
  • 1/2 white onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 T. fennel seeds
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper, a good sprinkle of each

Preheat the over to 400 degrees. Place an 18 inch piece of aluminum foil (I like the heavy duty kind) in a 9 x 13 baking dish. Rinse the salmon fillet in cold water and place on foil in the dish, skin side down. Brush the EVOO on the salmon. Sprinkle with fennel seeds, garlic, salt, and pepper. Arrange the lemon slices and onion on the top of the salmon. Add 1/2 cup water. Fold up sides of foil and seal it up nice and tight. Bake for 30 minutes and check for doneness, bake until salmon starts to flake with a fork. Do not over cook. Ours usually takes about 45 minutes, but I always check after 25-30. The salmon will continue to cook once it is taken out of the oven. Serve and enjoy.

My new favorite green salad

  • Salad dressing:
  • 3/4 c. olive oil
  • 1/3 c. white wine vinegar
  • 4 garlic cloves minced
  • 1/2 t. salt (or to taste)
  • 1/4 t. pepper (or to taste)
  • 1 t. dried basil
  • 3 T. sour cream
  • 2 t. dijon mustard
  • juice from whole lime

Put all ingredients in a pint jar, secure lid nice and tight, and shake very well. Store in fridge until ready to use. Shake well again before drizzling on salad. May need to add a little more olive oil or/and vinegar. I didn’t really measure, just eye-ball it. It fills a pint size jar a little over 3/4 of the way.

The salad I usually make to go with it:

  • one head red leaf lettuce, torn
  • a few handfuls of baby spinach
  • 1 dry pint grape tomatoes
  • 2 shallots, thinnly sliced
  • 1 can small black olives
  • 8 oz. fresh mozzarella, torn or chopped into small cubes
  • 3 avocadoes, diced large (added at last minute, before dressing)

Toss together with the dressing and enjoy (you may not need all the dressing, add a little at a time and see what you think).

Roasted Chicken – In a Crockpot

We made our first Costco run in months a couple of weeks ago. We were pleased to discover that they have organic, free-range, whole chickens now for a very reasonable price! We bought two. When we were living just outside of Austin, we raised several chickens ourselves. I know what you’re thinking…Seriously, Tara? You and Keith raised chicken for your dinner table? Yes. Yes we did. I was seriously against it at first, but Keith made one great selling point. I like to know where my food comes from, what better way to do that than raise chickens? I was a vegetarian for YEARS, so this was a HUGE step for me. I made him promise that when it was time to off them, he’d do it when I wasn’t home and he wouldn’t tell me about it. He picked up several little fuzz balls and brought the little peeps home in a little box. They were adorable! This was the second round of peeps he brought home, the first was to raise for eggs, this was a little different. I couldn’t get attached, in just 6-8 weeks they would be in our oven, or in our freezer. It wasn’t too difficult not to get attached. We raised them almost completely free-range. They went into a coop at night, and that was it. Other than that they were free to wander the property and scratch for bugs and whatever. They got FAT really fast, so fast that their feathers couldn’t keep up. They went from cute little peeps to HUGE bald fatties. All they did was eat. We had them on a high protein diet. They were the happiest chickens in the world. And they were delicious. In fact, they were the tastiest chickens we’ve ever eaten. You could taste just how happy they were. Is that morbid? Eh, I’d rather my food tasty “happy” than “sad.”

The chickens we got from Costco are not as delicious as the ones we raised, but they are fairly close. Until we buy a place, we’re going to have to settle on store (or farmers market) bought chicks.

I’ve been dying to try roasting a chick in my crockpot. Every recipe I came across looked delicious, and easy. Basically just put it in the crock without any water, turn on low and walk away for several hours. I have one in my crockpot right now. This is how we made ours…. (Pictures and result to follow)

Roasted Chicken – In a Crockpot

  • One whole chicken – 4-5 lbs (preferably organic, free-range)
  • 4-5 cloves garlic (I did peel mine, just cute the tips off and even left them all attached)
  • 1/2 small onion
  • 1/2 lg. navel orange, cut in half (or whole sm. one)
  • 2 T. EVOO
  • 1 T. herbs de provence (with lavender)
  • 1 t.salt (to taste)
  • 1 t. pepper (to taste)

Remove the giblets from your chicken (if your chick has any). This part always grosses me out, so I have Keith do it. It’s definitely a man’s job. Rinse the chicken off, inside and out, with cold water. Pat dry with paper towels. Place it in a crockpot, breast-side up. Drizzle half the EVOO on the side of the chicken facing up, and squeeze the juice from half (one of the quarters) of your orange on it. Use a brush to distribute the EVOO and OJ evenly. Shove (yes, I said shove) the quarter of orange (the one you squeezed on the chick), the garlic, and onion, into the chick’s cavity. Sprinkle half the salt, half the pepper, and half the herbs de provence on the chicken, give it a good pat to make sure the herbs don’t just fall off. Flip the chicken over (another man’s job). Repeat with the remaining EVOO, orange, and spices. Put the lid on, turn your crock on low, and walk away for about 8 hours. I plan to take the chicken out of the crock and put in under the broiler for a few minutes to crisp up the skin before we eat it. I have a feeling Keith will beat me home and dig right in though….Hopefully I can get some pics before he pulls it totally apart…

Green Monster!

I know, I’ve posted about smoothies in the past, but I finally got around to grabbing my daily smoothie out of the fridge, took one sip, and had to share!

The best green smoothie I have made yet.
1/2 bunch of kale
2 celery stalks
1 small apple, cored
1 med. navel orange, peeled
1 tsp. fresh minced ginger
1 c. water

Throw all in blender and blend away!

I’m super excited because I have a Vitamix 5200 on its way to my house right now! I can’t wait to continue in my blending adventures….

Oh! And for those of you who have been wondering where I’ve been…It’s legislative session here in Olympia. My new job is requiring me to work crazy long hours, so I haven’t really had time to cook much. Thank goodness I have Keith! He’s taking wonderful care of me! It’s almost over though. I’ve been playing on Pinterest in the meantime, collecting inspiration for new recipes. I haven’t totally disappeared! Promise :) Hope y’all are well, and I will return in full force in just a few weeks!

Tis the season…

Lots of time with my cousins over the weekend. We broke Keith’s Christmas tree cherry. He had NEVER gone out and cut down a Christmas tree before. We piled into his truck to start our good ole’ fashioned family Christmas (Hehe. Love that movie) by driving out to Rainier, Washington, with my cousin, Kirston, and her fiance, Chris. On the way out there Keith asked me, “why don’t we just stop as one of those lots and grab one that’s already cut down?” GASP! “That’s not how we do it in the Pacific Northwest!” So we kept going, and going, and going. We past several parking lots, full of trees, and several tree farms, full of trees, before finally following Kirston and Chris down a dirt road to a tree lot they had heard about.  We were on a quest for the perfect tree. (Really, I’m not picky AT ALL when it comes to trees, but Kirston is. And it was cold. Really cold.) Even though I’m not picky, Shay might be. It took us quite awhile to find that perfect tree. Finally I just said “to hell with it, how’s this one?” …or something to that effect… Shay said “fine…looks good…” And Keith got to cutting. With a little saw. The things a man will do for the woman he loves. Aww…

I was obviously excited.

Shay was pretty excited too.

(Check out Shay’s choice of shoes…Pretty wise for stomping around in the mud while looking for a tree, huh?)

So we got our first tree as a couple. Last year, we had barely started dating at this time. Keith had a little tiny (maybe a foot tall) fake tree and I didn’t have one at all. This is quite the mile stone.  We got it home and realized the tree stand we bought wasn’t even close to right size. Shay and I hopped into her car (always a scary experience) and went up the road to grab a new one. This weekend was expensive, especially after just moving. We got it home, Shaylea left to go to Seattle, leaving me and Keith to get the thing in the stand and into the house. All those memories of Dad in the garage cussing up a storm trying to get the tree perfectly straight with Mom hollering orders, all came flooding back to me. We finally got the tree into its stand and into the house (after I had spent the morning rearranging the furniture). The tree looked as though it was trying to take a nap up against the front window.  Keith spent the next half hour laying on the floor readjusting the tree stand, with me giving orders, until it was perfectly straight. It looks really nice now :) We got it up and decorated, then met up with the cousins again for some hot cider, hot buttered rum, dinner, and more tree decorating, for the rest of the weekend. It was a fantastic weekend.

I just realized that as much as I cooked in the last week, I didn’t make a single thing on my list, nor did I take a single picture. Quite the little food blogger I am. I did manage to use up the majority of my load from last week…And I received more this morning! Whoa hoo! Lots of fruits and veggies. Keith is making stew tonight though, so I may make this salad for myself to eat along with it: http://thetalkingkitchen.com/2011/11/17/fennel-apple-pomegranate-salad/, or some variation of it, depending on what’s in my fridge today.

Anyway, I didn’t have time to unpack my bushel this morning.  I left it for Keith to do when he gets up. But, I think this is what I received:

  • Braeburn Apples
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Pomegranate
  • Bosc Pears
  • Delicata Squash
  • Bananas
  • Satsuma Mandarins
  • Garlic
  • Green Kale
  • Baby Spinach
  • Kiwi

I honestly have no idea what I’m going to do with all of it, other than Jessica’s roasted brussel sprouts. Hopefully I’ll make SOMETHING blog worthy.

The Veggie Fairy

Once again, my delivery came before I even left for work, I almost tripped over it walking out to start up my completely frozen over car.  Yes, my Texas friends, I really am FREEZING up here.  Ok, so I didn’t almost trip over it on my way OUT, it was on the way back in.  I didn’t even see it on the way out, so I’m pretty sure the delivery guy snuck by me and silently set it on my doorstep while I was starting up my car.  Or, I’m just that tired in the morning. No, that can’t be.  He definitely snuck past me. It’s really hard to get excited about veggies at 7:15 AM.  All I wanted was a slice of leftover galette, coffee, and EVENTUALLY my green smoothie.  Receiving it that early at least gave me something to do while my car warmed up (and made me forget that I still needed to dig my shoes outta my GIANT tub of shoes that I have yet to put away, until I was out the door again, in my TOMS.  Not a fashion statement I want to make.  A suit and TOMS.  According to Mom, that gets very strange looks. She’s tried.). ANYWAY…I got it all put away and got out the door with plenty of time to get to work.  This is what my sneaky veggie delivery man, or veggie-fairy (still sure that I couldn’t have been THAT tired) brought for me this week:

  • Vine tomatoes
  • Kiwi
  • Pink lady apples
  • Red kuri squash
  • Green kale
  • Garlic
  • Fennel
  • Limes
  • Green beans
  • White mushrooms
  • Baby spinach

Okay, total variety, right?  The red kuri squash was a nice surprise, I thought I was getting buttercup, but that’s okay.  I’ve never had red kuri squash, so we’ll see.  I still have an acorn squash in the pantry…hmm…

This is my plan:

  • Roasted winter squash stuffed with mushrooms and cream sauce
  • Kale, fennel, and potato gratin
  • Roasted green beans
  • Spinach and sausage (or ground turkey, whatever I have in the freezer) quiche or galette (I really have no clue, but I have a pie crust in the freezer and eggs in the fridge, so it’ll probably be a quiche)
  • Baked apples

I need an apple corer. BUT, we are going to try to get a Christmas tree and get lights up on the house this weekend. Shay and Keith don’t know this yet. But it’s either going to be this weekend or next.  So I’ll be making a trip to Target to get lights anyway…