Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Quack Quack

Disclaimer: It was late and I wanted to get this post up... hence the silly subject.

My first official visit to the Outer Banks of North Carolina was an absolute success. As a matter of fact, I'd like to be back there right about now.

But since another vacation (admittedly, we have had two fantastic vacations in a row so at this point we are quite spoiled) is but a pipe dream (though we do have quite the series of upcoming weddings just around the corner), for now a quick wrap-up of the extended Memorial Day weekend trip is about all I've got.

We arrived in Duck, North Carolina, this past Saturday; since we were early (a rarity in my life so I felt okay calling it out), Chris and I took a quick tour while waiting on the rest of our entourage. Mom, Dad, and Sophie arrived soon after, so the 4 of us grabbed lunch at the cute Duck Deli (highly recommend their pulled pork platter - with 3 tasty sides, it was more than enough for Chris and I to share).

Where to begin... the trip consisted of a couple of great days full of lots of walks on the beach... eating... laying, reading and digging (thanks to my 2.5 year old nephew) on the beach... more walks... lots of tennis... some ice cream and various desserts... and tons of memories with my family (including my mom's *0th birthday), whom I am more thankful for each and every day (yes, it seems that my marriage and increased age have rendered me even more sappy, if that is possible).

Charlie wasted no time and got to digging and building straight-away. He is truly a boy's boy... I teased Robyn that she wasn't going to know what to do when baby girl Wallace arrives in August!

No one was exactly sure who was chasing whom here but Sophie didn't seem to mind; we'd left Annabelle in the house to keep her sand-free for a few more hours.

I was so fortunate to be able to celebrate my birthday with my family for the first time in I don't even know how many years. Mom was sad that we had to buy my cake but having my entire family there to enjoy it with me made it taste more than homemade (Harris Teeter's carrot cake... NOT bad!!!).

New day... new hole to dig... same little boy having a ball... still digging.

After each one of Charlie's daily post-beach outdoor showers, we got to see our adorable little guy wrapped up in his new favorite bug towel.
The "young adults" (are we really adults now?) took Charlie to the town playground and then walked out onto the long system of piers out over the Sound - we had great weather the whole week and this night was no exception.

One of the main reasons I love beach towns? They always seem to have a Rita's close by! Only Chris and I knew the magic of Rita's but we introduced the rest of my clan who immediately began plotting out their next visits to their local stores - thankfully there are two new Rita's... one in the suburbs of Atlanta and one in Columbia!

Our last day at the beach Charlie got a super special treat... a real John Deere tractor up close. This is what it looks like when the 3 Wallace men have seen a tractor pull up on the beach. Note that Charlie first learned the color green by calling it "John Deere".

More beachtime... Annabelle had just darted out of the picture - I assume it was because she hadn't brushed her hair.

And on our last night, we celebrated Mom's birthday (who's counting anyway!) at Sunset Grille Restaurant - she was especially, shall we call it, "surprised" by the fun hat! (it must be said, though, that in the end, she asked if she could keep the hat and take it home... the restaurant said no)

Charlie shared in the celebration with his "special" drink (i.e. lemonade but served in a fun-for-kids-of-all-ages flamingo cup).

Before our time in Duck came to an end, Chris and I took mom and dad to Roadside Raw Bar & Grill for lunch on our way out of town. It was bittersweet - that morning had been our only day of rain, which always makes it a little easier to leave but I still hated to go.

I told my mom before we left that I could get use to this family vacation thing. It was really the perfect trip - a few ultra-relaxing days spent with everyone who I love the most!

Yes, there are more pictures... just in case that wasn't enough.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

No Excuses

Right up there with finding a delicious recipe that I already have all the ingredients for is learning that making and eating one of my (new!) favorite dishes is a step towards the protection of my bones (especially as I seem to be growing older much quicker these days).

So when I read that the author of one of my favorite food blogs has osteoporosis and in order to raise awareness for this all-too-common disease, she was hosting an event to "alert women to the potential risks of osteoporosis", I thought it might be as good as time as any to venture back into the world of food blogging events.

*Read Susan's post to learn all sorts of interesting, and dare I say alarming, facts about osteoporosis! I already knew I was at risk being a woman and Asian but now have a heightened awareness for other risk factors.

My recipe takes advantage of the fact that seafood and some herbs made it to the list of calcium-rich ingredients. It was hard enough to resist making these delicious Shrimp Cakes before I knew they contributed to the health of my bones, but now... it's almost an impossibility.

16 uncooked large shrimp (about 1 pound), peeled, deveined
1 large egg
1 green onion, sliced
2 TBSP fresh lemon juice
1 TBSP Dijon mustard
1 TBSP minced fresh cilantro
1/2 tsp hot pepper sauce
1/2 tsp salt
Pinch of ground black pepper
2 c panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
1 TBSP olive oil
1/2 TBSP butter

1. Coarsely chop shrimp. *I chopped them with a knife to avoid having pureed shrimp. Add egg, green onion, lemon juice, mustard, cilantro, hot pepper sauce, salt, and pepper. Add 1 cup panko.
2. Form mixture into desired sized cakes. Roll cakes in remaining 1 cup panko; transfer to waxed-paper-lined baking sheet. Refrigerate at least 10 minutes. (Can be made up to 4 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)
3. Heat olive oil and butter in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, fry cakes until cooked through and golden brown on both sides, adding more oil to skillet as needed, about 6 minutes. Serve immediately and enjoy!

*I've found the Panko (versus regular breadcrumbs) really makes this dish - so definitely use them if you can find them!

Adapted from Bon Appetit - Sept 2005

We have enjoyed this dish a few times but have found that our favorite preparation thus far is simply with a side of cocktail sauce.

Even if you don't make this recipe, make sure you're getting enough calcium-rich foods... your bones will thank you for it!

Friday, May 16, 2008

A Caffeine High

I'm finally having fun being back in the kitchen... it's such a relief, I had really thought it might be gone forever. Sadly, enough, I think it might have something to do with the fact that I've finally decided to follow recipes just as they are written instead of making ad hoc substitutions or not measuring (the Rachael Ray way).

And so we get to this, the Tiramisu Trifle that I recently made for some friends (I've turned to trying to wow people with food so they forget the state of our house).

Don't turn away if you don't like coffee... I had two coffee-drinkers and two (adamant) non-coffee drinkers in our taste test and when it came right down to it, the two non-coffee drinkers came back for seconds.

Tiramisu Trifle

2 TBSP instant coffee granules
1 c water
1/2 c Kahlua
4 c lowfat milk
2 pkgs (3.9 oz each) instant chocolate pudding mix
2 pkgs (3 oz each) ladyfingers
3/4 c mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 c whipping cream
1/3-1/2 c confectioner's sugar, to taste
1/2 tsp cocoa powder, for garnish

1. Pour coffee granules into a glass container with the water. Microwave both on high and let coffee stand.
2. Place milk and two boxes of pudding mix in large bowl and whisk until well blended. Set aside.
3. Whip the whipping cream in electric mixer, adding the confectioner's sugar at intervals.
4. Split the ladyfingers in half lengthwise. Place them, cut side up, in the bottom of a trifle bowl. Drizzle 1/2 of the coffee mixture evenly over the ladyfingers. Spread half of the pudding mixture over the ladyfingers. Spread half of the whipped cream over the pudding. Sprinkle half of the chocolate chips over the whipped topping.
5. Repeat layers again, but near the end, spread the whipped cream over the pudding, THEN sift the cocoa powder, and finish with the chocolate chips.
6. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 6 hours (up to 24 hours) to let the flavors develop.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

In My Own Backyard?

Sorry for the teaser, this isn't another post about our flowers... rather about my new favorite place to whittle away my time and money (though admittedly, their prices are right in line with any chain grocery store but their product is almost guaranteed fresher)... Penzeys Spices.

There's not a whole lot more to my post today, other than a free ad for another wonderful kitchen and cooking-related store - this one specializing in any spice, herb, or other flavoring that you might desire for your culinary needs. They have a ton of retail locations but you can also order online or from their catalog if you are sadly too far from one of their stores.

*thanks, Carolyn, for the recommendation!!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Better Than Forwarding

This quick story gave me a good laugh so I had to share:

"Wrong Email address"

A Minneapolis couple decided to go to Florida to thaw out during a particularly icy winter. They planned to stay at the same hotel where they spent their honeymoon 20 years earlier. Because of hectic schedules, it was difficult to coordinate their travel schedules. So, the husband left Minnesota and flew to Florida on Thursday, with his wife flying down the following day. The husband checked into the hotel. There was a computer in his room, so he decided to send an email to his wife. However, he accidentally left out one letter in her email address, and without realizing his error, sent the email.

Meanwhile, somewhere in Houston, a widow had just returned home from her husband's funeral. He was a minister who was called home to glory following a heart attack. The widow decided to check her email expecting messages from relatives and friends. After reading the first message, she screamed and fainted. The widow's son rushed into the room, found his mother on the floor, and saw the computer screen which read:

To: My Loving Wife
Subject: I've Arrived
Date: March 22, 2008

I know you're surprised to hear from me. They have computers here now and you are allowed to send emails to your loved ones. I've just arrived and have been checked in. I've seen that everything has been prepared for your arrival tomorrow. Looking forward to seeing you then!!!! Hope your journey is as uneventful as mine was.

P.S. Sure is freaking HOT down here!!!!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Embarrassing Truth

Until yesterday at approximately 3pm, I'd never once been able to successfully hard-boil eggs!

And while I hold my head high admitting this fact, it just doesn't seem right... for a number of reasons:

  • I love eggs
  • I love egg-salad (!!), and
  • I cook a fair amount and this is just one of those basics
    • But alas, you just can't make this stuff up. I think this is akin to Food Blogga's cupcake mastery; I know I breathed a huge sigh of (years of) relief as I cracked the first shell and out came a beautifully hard-boiled egg.

      The fruit of my efforts (can you even call it effort??) were delicious egg-salad sandwiches for an easy, lazy Saturday dinner enjoyed out on our deck.

      Easy Egg-Salad
      *this "recipe" was delicious though I don't think you can really ruin egg-salad... but just in case you're wanting some recommendations

      5 large eggs, hard-boiled
      1/4 c Hellman's Canola mayonnaise (or until desired consistency is reached)
      2 TBSP chopped fresh chives
      2 TBSP minced onion
      1 tsp salt
      fresh ground pepper (to taste)
      Season-All (to taste)
      4 slices of whole wheat bread
      2-3 pieces of the dark green parts of romaine lettuce

      Coarsely chop the hard-boiled eggs using knife or fork until the eggs are broken into small pieces. Add small amounts of mayonnaise until you reach the desired consistency (the egg yolks will help with the consistency so you probably need less than you think). Add chives and onion. Season with salt and pepper, and Season-All (this is just what I used this time - try your favorite seasonings here!).

      Toast your bread and top with a piece or two of the lettuce. Scoop the egg salad onto the sandwich, slice and enjoy!

      *this made two generous sandwiches and enough left-over for another 1/2 sandwich the next day!

      Life may never be the same!!!

      *I am often a less-than-formidable blogger... only an idiot (me!) wouldn't post how I got the eggs to come out so well!

      Kara's steps to hard-boiled eggs (tried and tested ONCE): Place eggs straight from the fridge into your pot and fill the pot until the eggs are covered by about an inch. Bring the water to a rolling boil - after that point, watch carefully for about a minute. Remove from the heat and cover your pot - wait about 12-13 minutes and then pour out the (still) very hot water. At this point, I ran my eggs under cold water a few times. Depending on how soon you want to use the hard-boiled eggs, you can leave them in a sealed container in the fridge (unshelled) for a few days. I left mine unshelled in the fridge for the afternoon (about 3 hours) and then peeled them again under cold water, though I know there's a more precise method for exact peeling, but this worked pretty well.

      Saturday, May 10, 2008

      Been Smelling the Roses...

      Okay, so they might not be roses... but one of the things I've been doing while neglecting my little blog has been admiring my flowers... and since I have ZERO to do with their growth, I feel okay bragging about them.

      Let's just put it this way, while I LOVE our yard and spending time gardening and making things grow, I still have a LOT to learn; a few weeks ago, I was about this (picture me with my fingers VERY close together) far from yanking what I called "those ugly reddish stalks" out of one of our flower beds.

      Thankfully, a quick call to my cook/baker/gardener "goddess" (yup, my mom) saved my peonies' lives... and what a SAVE it was!!

      *Who knew flowers as beautiful as these just popped up when the time was right and bloomed just because I begged them to?! You can find me reading a lot of this to make sure these beauties come back year after year!!

      Related Posts with Thumbnails