18 July 2012

Summer heat

Most of the country is currently under high heat warnings.  Temperatures into the triple digits have been causing droughts and wildfires.  Here, in the Capitol Area, we haven't suffered too heavily with the exception of the crazy Derecho storm that swept through rather unexpectedly and forcefully a few weeks ago.  It knocked out power and played havoc with all the telecommunications services.  Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it), T and I escaped the Derecho by accident and were at the beach that fateful weekend.  We drove out to Bethany and kept just barely ahead of the storm.  We got to see crazy wind and rain; for much of the drive, visibility was terrible because of all of the sand flying around.  It was like being in "Twister" the movie!

Today was another scorcher of a day, and right now it looks like a big storm is brewing.  A few weeks back, we'd found out that we are required to switch over to FIOS, so the guy came today to install it.  As seems typical, he arrived around 12:30pm even though the window (which they called, emailed and texted me about several times) was from 8:00am to noon.  Anyway, I took the opportunity as a day to stay in (out of the incredible heat!) and do some experimenting in the kitchen.

I started the morning by making T's lunch which included bell pepper sticks.  He is still making a good effort to eat healthfully, so I have been trying to come up with new and delicious healthful recipes!  I like to have something to dip pepper sticks into, and T is never one to turn down a sauce, so I concocted a sesame-peanut sauce for him.  We'll find out when he gets home if he liked it or not.  I liked it so much that I decided to make another batch of it for Sneetch and me to enjoy as a snack throughout the day.

Sneetch and Mom stopped at Safeway on their way here to pick up some more summer squashes for me.  Sneetch and I made the yummy summer veggie stir fry again and topped it with a little of the delicious sesame-peanut sauce.  Fantastic combo for a super healthful and delicious summer lunch!

Finally, Mom had some bananas that needed to be made into banana bread, so Sneetch and I mixed up a batter using apple sauce and honey instead of oil/butter and sugar.  We also used whole wheat flour and gluten free flour instead of all purpose.  We got three silicone trays worth of mini muffins out of our batter.  I added swirl chocolate chips and oatmeal (and a little extra apple sauce) to the last batch which are by far my favourite!
Sweet-Hot Sesame-Peanut Sauce

1T peanut butter (I used creamy, but I suppose crunchy might be good too!)
2T sesame oil
1T water
1/2t agave syrup
1t cayenne pepper powder
1t soy sauce

To Make:
  1. Mix together everything except the water and cayenne.
  2. Add in the water and mix well, then taste.
  3. Add in the cayenne a little at a time to get it up to the heat level you like.

Banana Nut Mini Muffins with Chocolate Swirl Chips
 based on this recipe, but this is what I did:

1/3c unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup honey
1t vanilla extract
2 eggs
4 mashed bananas
1c whole wheat flour
3/4c gluten free all purpose flour
1/2t salt
1t baking soda
1/4c hot water
1/2c chopped filberts

And for the third batch with chocolate swirl chips:
1/4c chocolate swirl chips
1/4c unsweetened applesauce
1/4c oats

To Make:
  1. In your stand mixer, mix the eggs, honey, applesauce, bananas and vanilla.
  2. Mix in both flours and the salt.
  3. In a separate little cup, dissolve the baking soda in the hot water, then add it to the batter.
  4. Add in the chopped filberts.
  5. Bake the first batch and while the second batch is in the oven, and 1/3 of the batter remains, add in the last 3 ingredients (1/4c chocolate swirl chips, 1/4c unsweetened applesauce, and 1/4c oats).  Mix it up thoroughly.
  6. I found that filling the muffin cups to the top made a nice little muffin top that didn't overflow too much on the sides.

16 July 2012

Back from the beach!

After we got back from Japan, both T and I needed about a week to get back into East Coast time and routine.  Slowly, the jet lag wore off.  Throughout the week, I took my time unpacking and sluggishly went through all of our many omiyage and personal souvenirs.  We brought home a ton of stuff!
This photo is just the stuff we brought home to give away!
By the weekend through, I managed to make it to (and through) my Saturday morning ballet class and the next morning, we picked 10 lbs of blueberries at our favourite local pick your own orchard.
Look at those giant, sweet blueberries!
Since then, we've spent three consecutive weekends at the beach.  I spent a whole week there with my friend Feder and I turned 28!  it's been a comfortable and relaxing mid summer.  Now we're back home.  T's back at work and I'm busy trying to tackle all those "I'll do it later" projects accumulated throughout the year so that I can have a nice, clean slate of a to do list by the time Fall classes begin.

My youngest sister, Sneetch has been helping me get all my inventory photographed so I can stock my Etsy store and I've listed books on Amazon to try to decrease our book collection a little.  So far, so good!

In other news, today Sneetch and I made a variation of a veggie stir-fry type dish Feder taught me to make while we were at the beach.  I've never been a fan of squash/zucchini type veggies, but this dish has made me change my mind!  It's super simple to cook up and nearly zero points on the Weight Watchers program!  Here's the recipe, as I made it, if you can call it a recipe; it's super simple!
Summer veggie stir fry!

Delicious Summer Veggie Stir Fry

1/2 t olive oil
1/2 t butter
1 yellow squash (long and not too bulbous at the bottom = fewer seeds = better)
1 zucchini squash
1 green bell pepper
1 red bell pepper
1 cob of cooked, fresh, sweet corn

To Make:
  1. Wash the squashes and cut off the ends (I cut off about 1/2 an inch from each end).  Cut in half lengthwise and then slice, making half circles about 1/4" thick.
  2. Wash and cut up the peppers, removing all the insides and seeds.  Pieces should be bite size.
  3. Break the corn cob in half and pick off all the corn  kernels.  If the corn is cooked right, you should be able to easily pick off a row or two of kernels one at a time and then remove entire rows at one go.
  4. Time to cook!  In a large frying pan, heat the oil and butter together over med-high heat.  Toss in the squash half circles and allow to cook until slightly soft; but not translucent!  Stir infrequently so that some pieces get a nice golden brown colour.
  5. Add in the pepper pieces and cook until slightly soft.  The peppers should add a nice, light crunch.
  6. When squashes and peppers are just about done, toss in the corn kernels and turn off heat, leaving the pan on the burner.
  7. Enjoy warm or at room temperature!
For the week while I was at the beach, I prepped a pork shoulder for T to make himself some pulled pork.  A concoction of my own imagination, the pork came out pretty well, but there was a whole lot of it and we returned to at least 6 servings of it in the fridge.  So Sneetch and I enjoyed our veggies with a serving of pulled pork on top; yum!