Monday, August 31, 2009

French green lentil salad

I haven't had lentils before so I thought I would give them a try. I blame Top Chef and other cooking shows that like to use them for putting the idea in my head :) I'll be the first to say that I'm not a fan of beans, so I wasn't sure if I'd like these or not (I think they are in the same family). They are easy enough to make and seem like they would make a good side dish. I was not a fan of the lentils as they were to close to beans. The flavors were okay, but it is a texture thing with me. The original recipe didn't call for bacon, but I believe it gave it a nice flavor. Bacon makes everything better! :o) So if you like beans, then I would suggest making this recipe because it is so versatile and can go with many dishes!


2 strips of bacon
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
4-inch piece celery stalk, finely chopped
4-inch piece carrot, peeled and finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon mustard seed- used mustard powder
1 teaspoon fennel seed- didn't use, not a fan
2 cups vegetable stock, chicken stock or broth
1/2 cup water
1 cup French green lentils, picked over, rinsed, then drained- not sure if I had French green lentils, but they were green :)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf (Italian) parsley, cut into strips
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Cook bacon and remove from pan. Reserve 2T of the bacon fat and add the onion, celery and carrot and saute until the vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, mustard seed and fennel seed and saute until the spices are fragrant, about 1 minute.
Add the stock, water, lentils, thyme and bay leaf. Raise the heat to medium high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover partially and simmer until the lentils are tender but still firm, 25 to 30 minutes. Drain the lentils, reserving the cooking liquid. Transfer the lentils to a large bowl and discard the bay leaf.
In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, mustard and 1/4 cup of the reserved cooking liquid.
(Discard any remaining liquid or reserve for another use.) Whisk in the extra-virgin olive oil.
Add crumbled bacon to the lentils and add the vinaigrette, parsley, salt and pepper to the lentils and toss gently to mix and coat evenly. Serve warm.

Un-cooked lentils

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

It's time for a change

So we have been working on the kitchen for a long time now and we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. However there are somethings that we have long term got the idea to buy some spray paint and make some changes. I did this project without Jim's knowledge, I wanted to surprise him. And I was freaking out a little on the inside because I was worried that it would look bad. Cause really, me spray painting the outside of the dishwasher doesn't really mean that it was going to look good. Jim came home from work and walked in and out of the kitchen without even noticing the dishwasher. I was trying so hard no to smile every time I was in there cause I wanted him to be surprised when he saw it. I started cooking dinner and he was in the kitchen with me,,, STILL not noticing the dishwasher,,, so I mentioned something about unloading the dishwasher so he would look at the damn thing. FINALLY he saw it, and loved it!!! Yay!!! It's not our long term resolution for the dishwasher, but it will make me happier for the short term $10 in spray paint was WELL worth it!!!

Here is the dishwasher, before the spray paint

I started off by taping off the area, then priming the washer so the paint goes on evenly.

Layer One. It went well and appeared to be even. It did stink up the kitchen and that side of the house, but it went away.
My brother works for Valspar, so I decided to go ahead and support his company. You hear that Lee??? Can you hook a sista up with some free paint? :o)

The area around the controls was a wood grain, that was pretty horrendous to look at. I taped it up and painted it black. There is some streaking, but since it is black you can't really see it unless you are looking for it.

Taaaa- Daaaaaa!
The final product. There are some areas that don't' look perfect, but it is like 100000% better than it was before, when it was mustard yellow and had fake wood paneling

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

New Rug!!

I found an AWESOME deal homedepot.con for a 5x7 area rug. I had been looking to replace a rug that was getting kind of gross in our den. I love the colors of the new rug, but I was hoping for a different more modern pattern since they are so similar. Oh well... a rug for $63 bucks is worth buying a similar rug!

Old dirty rug

New rug- it is soft and thick!
I was so happy because it was so cheap I was worried it would feel cheap.

I was hoping to have a dog hair free rug for at least a day, but Taylor sat on it about 5 minutes after I laid it on the floor.

And of course, Chewie had to be like his sister and get on the floor

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Matt's Birthday dinner and drinks

On Saturday night we met up with friends to have dinner and drinks to celebrate Matt's birthday. We had dinner at Maiko and and then headed to Molotov for drinks. The boys were at the lake all day, but luckily they drank enough water so they were okay for the night. Jim and I had some amazing sushi even if one roll was hot enough to make me drink tons of water :o)

The roll with the tuna on top is the Texas Monster.... I can't remember exactly what is in the middle, but something like avocado, green onion,tempura shrimp, and on the outside, there is tuna and a dollop of a tequila lime sauce. It was a pretty tame roll, but it was very good. The other roll was the Heat of the Moment and it was fucking hot. It was a spicy tuna topped with jalapenos but it was a good heat.

This was a great drink... blackberry moijto. A bit sweet, but a nice way to start the night

Lindsay and I

Vanessa and Matt, the birthday boy

Charlie had a couple of extra pieces of sushi and Jim said that he would help him finish it. Charlie was nice enough to feed Jim... not sure how I feel about this but it did make for a funny picture and had the entire table laughing.

(Fred, I know you'll like this picture)

Jim, Chris and Lindsay

Matt and Jim... Hmmmm... Jim looks pretty darn happy to be hugging on Matt

Janette, Vanessa and Emily

Jen and Charlie

The Birthday boy and Vanessa
Lindsay, me and Loren (Eric's girlfriend, sans Eric)

We went to a roof top bar after dinner, and it was slightly miserable. It was so humid and hot, even though we had a few fans blowing on us. I was sticky all night.

Tammy, me, Vanessa and Lindsay

Charlie, Jim and Matt

West 6th Street

Jim, Matt and John

Nick and Megan... not sure why they look like they have a tint of green to them

We walked from the restaurant to the bar, and on the way we found these mail boxes that screamed for a photo op.

Seriously. Lindsay was able to fling her leg over the mailbox without any problems. I would have pulled a hammy then fallen on my ass if I tried that. Megan and I went with the hooker move for the picture.

Not to be out done.... Nick humped the light pole.

Lindsay, Vanessa, Me and Megan

The two tall boys of the group, Nick and John, were fighting over the fan and which way it would blow. It was at this point, that I moved away for fear that the fan would fall down.

Fresh Figs

The most experience I have with Figs, is with Fig Newtons. Before last weekend, I had never had a fresh fig (thank you Central Market) and now I'm hooked. I have heard other people (Dawn, I'm looking at you) rave about figs, but it just took me awhile longer to try them out. I have two recipes in mind,,, one sweet and one savory. This recipe was pretty darn simple, which I liked. The figs were good, but they weren't as sweet at the Figs at Central Market. There were 4 or 5 types of figs, so I guess I chose the not as sweet variety. Overall it is a very simple way to serve a dessert that looks all fancy smancy.

· 8-10 fresh figs
· 2 1/2 Tbsp of brown sugar
· 1 cup of fresh ricotta cheese
· 1 Tbsp of honey
· 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
· 8-10 mint leaves for garnish (optional)

1. Pre-heat the grill.
2. Trim fig the stems, if any, and cut figs in half length-ways.
3. Lightly butter a shallow baking dish. Place the figs curved side down in the dish. Sprinkle each fig with a little brown sugar. -- I didn't do this, I just put them directly on the grill
4. Grill figs for about 3-4 minutes or until the sugar starts to bubble.
5. Meanwhile, combine ricotta, honey and vanilla in a mixing bowl and stir with a wooden spoon until smooth and creamy. Forgot the vanilla, and I'm pretty sure that it would have been way better with the vanilla
6. Remove figs from oven and gently place on serving plates with a dollop of honey ricotta. Garnish with mint leaves and serve.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Yelp Event at Stubbs

We had another fantastic Yelp event to attend last Tuesday night. This one was held at Stubbs in downtown Austin. Stubbs was showing off their new organic menu for us. We tried....

duck enchiladas
These were just okay. I was really interested in trying out duck because I haven't eaten a lot of duck. They didn't taste any different than chicken but they seemed more oily.
Salmon on a tostada with a cucumber pico
These were good not great. The salmon was cooked, shredded, then placed on a round chip. They had some type of white dressing on it, but there wasn't enough for me to get an idea of what was in it. It also had a cucumber pico on top, which I thought was really good, but not enough on the appetizer. Just okay, not great.
Frito pie
For those of you that don't live in Texas, a Frito pie is chili covered Frito chips. Pretty simple but can be really tasty. They served the pies in the Frito bag (the size of bag you normally would get with a sandwich), and cut the top off and poured the chili on top. I liked the concept but it was kind of hard to eat and the bag was blazing hot where the chili seeped through the chips. This was a good dish, but not something I would order when at a restaurant.
Pork ribs
We had some awesome freaking ribs. These were the highlight of the night for me. They were so tender the meat was barely on the bone. The seasonings were light and not overwhelming, which was good because I didn't think the ribs needed anything else.
I'll be back to Stubbs for these ribs!
Brisket tacos with a hotter than hell pico
The last thing we ate that night were brisket tacos served with a corn mini tortilla, and a pico sauce. The pico was hit or miss on the level of hotness. I believe it is because they used fresh jalapenos, so not every bite had a piece of jalapeno. The brisket was nice and tender.
Pretty tasty!
Another vendor at the party was Rain Organic Vodka. They supplied us with various flavors of vodka, but unfortunately I just had the plain vodka with cranberry. It was quite good. Jim had a vodka and soda and said the vodka was smooth. I'm curious to see how much this is at a liquor store.

Sarah, me and Dawn on the stage at Stubbs

We are the gangsta Yelp Elite crew

Me, Jim, Orly and Sarah.
Did you notice that Jim and Orly are wearing the same shirt, but different color?

Jim, Orly and Matt

Orly and Sarah

The party also had an Elvis Costello cover band. They only played for an hour or so, and we stayed outside most of that time so I missed them. A lot of people said they were pretty good.

Me, Sarah and Dawn
Picture was taken by one of the photographers at the party

The party had another "photobooth" there. Cory Ryan was taking pictures and she did an awesome job! This pose was figured out by Jim and Matt. Jim kept telling me to do the "Superman". I had no freakin idea what he was talking about until I realized he wanted me up on their backs.

Since we had an Elvis Costello cover band, the photographer used the eye glass frames to frame the pictures. Awesome!

Love this one of us!

While we were stuffing our faces with food, a guy came up asked if he could take our picture for the local paper. Being the hams that we are we said sure! I just had Jim check my teeth for any lingering brisket tacos, and we smiled away! LOL, my 1.5 seconds of fame....

Pabst Blue Ribbon was also a vendor that night, and when the vodka ran out we switched over to the beer. I am a beer snob and didn't really want anything to do with PBR, but it was free so why not. It wasn't terrible beer, but I won't be running out to purchase a 12 pack for the weekend.