Monday, November 28, 2011

Chocolate Covered & Walnut Stuffed Dates

My friends and I recently started game night.  Crazy it took us this long to make game night a regular event.

Nouns (hands down best game ever - we made it up studying abroad in Italy), Apples to Apples, Catch Phrase, and a little food/wine.  Great mid-week treat.

As an quick and easy treat I decided to make...

Chocolate Covered and Walnut Stuffed Dates
Note:  I decided not to quantify the recipe.  Make a little or as much as you want.  Figure about 1 walnut half per date.

Chocolate Chips
Orange Zest
Olive Oil  

Melt semi-sweet chocolate chips in a microwave.  Cut a slit in the side of the date and remove the pit.  Sauté walnut pieces in a little olive oil, salt, and orange zest.  Finely chop 1/4 of the walnuts.  Stuff dates with the larger walnut pieces pressing to close slit.  Dip half the date in melted chocolate.  Sprinkle a little finely chopped walnuts on top of the date.  Place date on parchment paper or foil.  Repeat with remaining dates.  Place dates in freezer for about 5 minutes or until chocolate has solidified.  

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving Weekend Snapshots

I went home and shared Thanksgiving (aka consuming mass amount of food) with family and friends.

But before we gorge ourselves we traditionally run in the Sacramento Run to Feed the Hungry.  I finished the 10k in 45:27 (7:19 minute mile pace), which placed me 6th in my age group and 40th in women overall!  

After shopping with my Dad on Black Friday, my Mom, Grandma, step Dad (Ron), and I looked through some old projector slides that we found at my Grandma's house.  So cool, right?  The top middle is my Mom and the middle picture is my Grandma; they are so beautiful!

I spent the rest of the weekend in San Francisco.  Ran the Steep Ravine/Matt Davis loop in Mount Tam with a friend from college, Matt.  Ate lots of food.  Ran to Hopper's Hands.  Hung a cute Crate and Barrel shelf.  Now I'm about to go watch some football with friends.  

I'm so thankful for my loving family and friends.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Salmon with Slow Roasted Tomatoes and Vegetable Israeli Couscous

Food tastes better when you know where it came from.  Food tastes even better when you hunt or grow it yourself.

The thrill of the catch in Campbell River made my salmon taste pretty good.  We can just forget about how you kill your new friend once he's in the boat.  Think small baseball bat and a good whack.  Slightly morbid/bloody/shocking the first time you see the kill, but sadly you just get used to it.  

The first time I tried on my yellow Hanson jumper suit in Campbell River I was shocked there was still blood on my pants.  Can't they rinse these suckers off?  Then, you get squirted with salmon blood a couple times and it's ends up being no big deal.  The lingering scent on my hands/clothes though is another story.  Even after washing the fish scent remained prevalent.  Attractive.  

I have a lot of salmon to eat by the way.  Want to come over?

I had a friend over last week to try my salmon out for the first time and I made Salmon with Slow Roasted Tomatoes over Vegetable Couscous.  For ease of making dinner on a weeknight I made the tomatoes the night before and then just reheated them at 300˚F for a little less then 10 minutes so they were warm.  It was the first time I made this dish and the couscous and tomatoes paired wonderfully with the salmon.  Stay tuned for more salmon recipes!

Salmon with Slow Roasted Tomatoes over Vegetable Israeli Couscous
Adapted from this Epicurious Recipe
Serves 2 (I had leftovers)

4 Roma Tomatoes sliced in half
1 tsp Sugar
1/4 Cup Olive Oil + 2 Tbsp Olive Oil divided
3 Garlic Cloves Chopped divided
Fresh Basil - 10 Full Leaves plus 2 Tbsp chopped
Fresh Rosemary - 2 Sprigs leaves removed
Fresh Thyme - 2 Sprigs leaves removed
2 tsp Lemon Zest plus juice from 1 Lemon
1 Cup Israeli Couscous
Chicken Broth (follow cooking directions for couscous using the correct amount of chicken broth)
2 Small Zucchini chopped into 1/4 moons
1/2 red Onion chopped to similar size as Zucchini
6 Kalamata Olives diced

Preheat oven to 250˚F.  Toss tomatoes with sugar and a generous amount of salt.  Place cut side down in shallow baking dish.  Cook garlic in 1/4 cup olive oil in sauté pan over medium heat until fragrant and pale golden, about 1 minute.   Pour oil over tomatoes and top with 10 basil leaves, rosemary, and thyme.  Roast until the tomatoes are tender, about 2 hours.
Remove from oven.  Turn oven up to 500˚F or see my note in post above.  Transfer tomatoes to serving platter.  Strain to remove herbs/garlic and reserve the olive oil.  Add lemon zest, lemon juice, 2 Tbsp chopped basil, and salt/pepper to taste to reserved oil.  Set aside.
Toast Israeli Couscous in medium saucepan over medium/high heat with 1 Tbsp of olive oil and a dash of salt.  When golden, add chicken broth following directions on package.  Cook until al dente and all liquid is absorbed.
Meanwhile sauté zucchini, 1 garlic clove chopped, and red onion in 1 Tbsp olive oil in saucepan over medium/high heat for about 10 minutes or until cooked.
Toss vegetables with couscous and reserved herb/tomato olive oil to taste.  I used about 1/2 the olive oil.
Rub salmon with 1 Tbsp olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Cook in oven at 500˚F for about 12 minutes or until cooked through.  
To serve:  Place couscous on plate, top with salmon and remaining herb/tomato olive oil and kalamata olives.  Place slow roasted tomatoes around the salmon.  Enjoy!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Deep Sea Fishing with my Dad

My Dad and I went deep sea fishing at the tail end of summer in Canada at a place called Campbell River.  It was on his bucket list (don't get me started on those because this post will never end) and if it's not on yours add it now because it is quite the adventure!

My Dad and I set out to have a blast and catch a lot of fish, which is exactly what we did.  We caught 12 Pink Salmon (about 4 lbs each) that are currently begin smoked and canned.  We also each caught 1 Chinook Salmon.  Chinook Salmon have many names such as Nookie or Spring in Canada or King here in the states.  These are the big guys that you wait all trip for.  My Chinook was 14 lbs and my Dad's Chinook was 15 lbs.  Sliced up and frozen in my freezer right now.  Ready for eating. 

When we weren't fishing we played a ton of cars, consumed cold beverages, toured a neighboring island, and rode mopeds.

For lodging we stayed at the Painter's Lodge (top left below) and we fished with the Oak Bay Marine Group (bottom left below).

It got a little cold out on the water.  The picture below on the left is funny because my Dad has his hands in his jacket and my hands are too cold to fix my hair (I know, excuses, excuses).  And we are both typically pretty good at handling cold weather!

My Dad with his Chinook...

and here's mine!

Yaniv.  A Peruvian card game you must try. 

Here's our tour guide showing me how to hold a dungeness crab without any regrets.  I whimped out from holding the little sucker.  

Pretty much a perfect summer getaway :)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Harvest Salad

My family has owned a walnut farm up near Yuba City since the mid 1800's (Go Small Farmers!) so let's just say I'm partial to walnuts over any other nut variety.  My dad also grows a few vegetables each year for himself and his friends/family and when I went home a couple weeks ago I snagged a few butternut squash, peppers, and a watermelon.  

I decided to make a Harvest Salad.  Super simple, especially if you cheat like me and buy pre-cooked lentils and pomegranate seeds removed from the fruit (thank you Trader Joes).  The salad also has roasted butternut squash and honey goat cheese.  Perfect sweet savory combination for a fall dinner.

Harvest Salad
6 Servings

2.5 Cups Pre-Cooked Lentils (or cook your own French Green Lentils following package directions)
2/3 Cups Pomegranate Seeds
2 - 3 Cups (I used a whole Medium Size Butternut Squash) cut into 3/4 Inch Cubes
3 oz Honey Goat Cheese crumbled
2 + 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
3 Tbsp Orange Muscat Champagne Vinegar (or use regular Champagne Vinegar or Red Wine Vinegar)

Preheat oven to 350˚F.  Toss butternut squash with salt, pepper, and 2 Tbsp olive oil.  Cook until tender, but still firm, about 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool slightly.  Meanwhile mix lentils, pomegranate seeds, 2 oz honey goat cheese, with 1 Tbsp olive oil and 3 Tbsp vinegar.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Toss gently with butternut squash.  Toss arugula with a small amount of vinegar, oil, salt and pepper and arrange on your serving plate.  Top with butternut squash/lentil mixture.  Finish with remaining crumbled cheese.  Serve.