May + June + July 2016, in food

Three months consolidated into one post! I haven’t been making a ton of new, super interesting foods recently (have just whipping up quick things on the spot) so it’s not a particularly lengthy post for one meant to encompass three months.

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dairy-free nachos!
cheese sauce recipe riffed off of: http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2014/02/gooey-vegan-nacho-cheese-sauce-recipe-food-lab.html
notes: Surprisingly really good! All the other ingredients are the usual suspects for nachos — there’s some oven roasted and shredded chicken, diced avocado, black beans, pickled jalapenos, cilantro, etc. The dairy-free sour cream was cobbled together from many cashew sour cream recipes found online.

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tacos
restaurant: sancho’s
notes: The tacos were pretty good, but the best part was the SALSA BAR. I love salsa bars!

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chana masala
recipe: 660 Curries
notes: Thoroughly yummy. 10/10 would make again.

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beef gyros
recipe: http://www.food.com/recipe/ground-beef-gyros-30081
notes: This was surprisingly easy and tasted a lot like gyros! Not the most authentic recipe, but it worked. Topped it with some diced tomato, red onion, and cilantro. The “yogurt” is actually more cashew sauce that I combined with some garlic, dill, and cucumber to make into a tzatziki. A little chunkier in texture than true tzatziki sauce, but tasted great.

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calzone
recipe: sorta made up as I went along…
notes: This was good, but I’d make a lot of tweaks if I make calzones again. First off, would find a different dough recipe — this was a coworker’s recipe, but I wasn’t a huge fan of it, it seemed a little too tough. Filling was great though — used bacon and chicken and provolone cheese.

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besan ladoo
notes: Combined a bunch of recipes online. They were super dense and rich cookies! They were good, but it would be a while before I make these again.

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taiwanese stewed pork belly over rice
restaurant: flower pepper
notes: Very tasty! It was the best thing out of the three dishes I tried. I would order this again.

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lamb burritos
restaurant: angelica’s
notes: In Santa Fe. THESE WERE DELICIOUS. Very simple but also very satisfying and flavorful. 10/10 would order again.

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picnic cake
bakery: kim and jake’s cakes
notes: You can’t tell the scale, but this thing was quite massive! Was also gluten free. I liked it, but it’s not something I’m in a rush to buy again, especially since Kim & Jake’s is in a part of town that I’m so rarely in.

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five spice cookies

recipe: https://lovinfromtheoven.wordpress.com/recipes/5spice/
notes: I have a very special place in my heart for Dreena Burton’s cookie recipes — they were the very first vegan desserts I ever made, and the first true success that I had with making baked goods, way back in 2008. I’ve always liked these cookies because they’re pretty simple to make but have an interesting and complex (but familiar) flavor.

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peanut butter cupcakes with chocolate ganache

recipe: Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World
notes: I subbed GF flour for the all purpose but otherwise followed the recipe exactly. They were good, but not something I’m in a hurry to make again. My favorite thing about the picture is that Andy is looking very happy in the background because he thinks I’m holding up a peanut butter cupcake treat for him…

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fresh strawberry pie
recipes for inspiration:
http://glutenfreefix.com/fresh-strawberry-pie/
http://glutenfreefix.com/easy-graham-cracker-crust/1721/

No-Bake Vegan Strawberry Pie

Gluten Free Strawberry Pie with Almond Crust

notes: This might be the best fruit pie I’ve made! The graham cracker crust was quite good (and very thick in places, which made it like a cookie) and the strawberry flavor was very fresh and clean. I looked at a bunch of different fresh strawberry pie recipes online and kinda made things up as I went.

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sushi
restaurant: sushi train
notes: All-you-can-eat sushi. What’s not to like?

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beef bowl with crisp creens, coconut sweet potatoes, spicy coconut sauce, farofa, and spicy chimichurri sauce

restaurant: five on black
notes: So, this restaurant is like a Brazilian version of Chipotle… which is not a bad thing! My favorite component of this bowl was the coconut sweet potato stuff… very good.

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March & April 2016, in food

Belated post… this is becoming a habit! I decided to roll two months into one post in part because I didn’t cook many things in March that were worth nothing.

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fish tacos
restaurant: slopeside grill 
notes: Slopeside Grill is a restaurant literally on the slopes at Steamboat. Fish tacos were decent, and certainly very tasty after skiing for several hours.

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salmon and sweet potato hash with poached eggs
recipe: made up
notes: Really good! I like using salmon as a protein in my hashes. A very nice and filling breakfast to fuel a 40 mile ride.

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banchan, grilled octopus, and a noodle dish 
restaurant: domo
notes: So… I’d been really excited to try Domo for a while, but was just a little let down by it all. The banchan was great, the grilled octopus appetizer was very nice, but I think I chose the wrong entree. 😦 I got a “farm-style” stew which I thought had noodles in it, but it didn’t… and I just thought it was be richer and more satisfying in taste. I love Japanese food because of how “clean” it tastes, but this was just a little too clean and brothy! I’d consider going back, but am not in a rush to do so and would definitely order something else next time.

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cinnamon almond olive oil cake
recipe: http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/recipe/cinnamon-almond-olive-oil-cake
notes: I mostly made this recipe because I wanted to make a cake and I happened to have all the ingredients on hand. Not bad, but nothing spectacular — life’s too short to make this one again.

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breakfast waffle with poached eggs and pesto 

recipe: none
notes: I really wanted to try eating a savory waffle and I had some leftover pesto sauce, so… boom! I think I like savory waffles more than sweet, but they take a bit more time to prep and create more cleanup afterwards, so I’ll probably mostly stick to sweet waffles.

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coconut cream pie and thunderberry pie

restaurant: thunderbird restaurant
notes: While driving towards Zion, we saw a lot of signs for the Thunderbird restaurant that proudly proclaimed that they were “home of the ho-made pies!” It was just too fun of a sign to resist, and after a few days of eating camp food, we went out for dinner to the Thunderbird on our last night in Utah. The food was… okay. I got a southwestern chicken salad and it tasted like it was pulled straight from the fridge. The pies were a lot better — thunderberry was particularly good (it was a mix of several different types of berries). The coconut cream pie tasted a little too much of artificial coconut extract, but it was still pretty nice.

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pureed pigeon peas with chiles and mustard seeds (kadaghu toram paruppu)
recipe: 660 Curries
notes: I was inspired to start making recipes from my 660 Curries cookbook again, after a long hiatus. I had a bag of pigeon peas and wanted to try them out… this particular recipe was pretty good, though a little basic. I’d make it again if I wanted a dal and didn’t have the ingredients to make anything else.

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chicken with red chiles and coconut milk (thenga paal kozhi)
recipe: 660 Curries
notes: THIS CHICKEN WAS SO GOOD. Everything about it was absolutely perfect. I used 3 pounds of chicken breasts instead of a whole 3 pound chicken cut into parts because a) chicken breasts were on sale, b) they cook a lot quicker, and c) you don’t have to pick out bones. I refer to this recipe as “vinegar chicken” because you marinade the chicken in a sauce that has a significant amount of vinegar, which makes your nose hairs curl a little… but it cooks off to a wonderful sauce. 10/10 would make again.

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triple chocolate mousse cake
recipe: Cook’s Illustrated booklet
notes: I got the Cook’s Illustrated “Best Desserts” booklet as a present in 2015, and it remains one of my most treasured cookbooks. I’ve been wanting to make this chocolate mousse dessert for a while, but wanted to save it for an “occasion” because I don’t like to make desserts so heavy with cream and butter for just myself. One of my coworkers had a weekend birthday celebration so I made this cake to bring for the festivities. It was very, very rich and very, very chocolatey! The white chocolate mousse layer was surprisingly my favorite. Next time… I might make it in a slightly taller springform pan if I can find one, but there’s not much else I’d change about it. It was really hard to get a good picture of the cake — depicted is the last remaining slice in the pan.

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coconut chicken with mustard seed (thenga kozhi) 
recipe: 660 Curries
notes: Not quite as good as the chicken recipe I made earlier, but that chicken recipe is hard to live up to! The sauce for this one was still quite addictively good. Would make again.

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coconut vanilla ice cream with an oatmeal praline crunch and fudge sauce
recipe: Serious Eats & The Perfect Scoop
notes: The Serious Eats recipe is one I’ve wanted to try for a while — unfortunately, I’m not sure if it is a good recipe because my ice cream container was not fully frozen when I started churning so the ice cream base never really froze. I poured it into a container, sprinkled it with the oatmeal praline (from The Perfect Scoop) and stuck it in the freezer anyway, hoping it would still come together. It ended up freezing, though the texture wasn’t great. The fudge sauce was originally intended as a “fudge ripple” through the ice cream, but I wasn’t able to make that happen with the unfrozen base, so I just drizzled it on top instead as a garnish. Still pretty good — I enjoyed it!

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ginger coconut ice cream 
recipe: adapted from The Perfect Scoop (http://andmykitchensink.com/ginger-coconut-milk-ice-cream/)
notes: Instead of using cream/heavy cream/half and half in the “fresh ginger ice cream” in The Perfect Scoop, I followed the recipe link and used coconut milk/cream instead. I also used honey instead of sugar. I was planning to make a sesame honey brittle to mix into the ice cream, but got lazy and never got around to it. I thought this was pretty nice — definitely very gingery. Something about it tasted a little “unfinished”… like it was the beginning of a savory coconut curry dish, and like it was missing something else. I would make again but put in mix-ins… I think that the mix-ins would make it taste more like a true ice cream dessert.

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fragrant ginger shrimp and shallots and curry leaves
recipe: 660 Curries
notes: 660 Curries does it again! I was worried as I was making this sauce that it would taste a little skimpy in flavor, but as it cooked, all the flavors came together. I served this over vermicelli noodles, though honestly it would have been better over rice since the sauce wasn’t very thick and didn’t cling well to the noodles. I did double the amount of ingredients for the sauce because I’ve found sometimes that the recipes in 660 Curries don’t yield a ton of sauce, and I love saucy dishes!

The only thing that would keep me from making this again is the very long and arduous process of peeling and deveining shrimp. Some of my shrimp had the most disgusting, slimy, swollen intestines ever! Apparently it isn’t imperative that you devein shrimp, but I get a little grossed out by the thought of eating shrimp poop chutes, so I do. Now I finally understand why peeled and deveined shrimp are as expensive as they are.

 

 

Green Mountain

It’s been a while since I’ve found a new trail that I really enjoyed — then again, I haven’t really done any new hikes since last fall! Now that the weather is getting warmer again, it’s been easier to get out and go on trails that have decent elevation gain.

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View of the Indian Peaks, from the top of Green Mountain

Green Mountain is one of the three peaks of the Flatirons. I hiked Bear Peak last year, and have gone up part of South Boulder Peak — I’d like to finish that one someday. From what I’ve hiked of all three of them though, I think I like Green Mountain the best. Much of the hike is through Gregory Canyon and forested area, so there’s a little more shade than on the other two hikes. There’s a significant amount of elevation gain (2,288′) which makes for a great workout, but there’s not too much rock scrambling the way there is on Bear Peak. I rather dislike rock scrambling. 🙂

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View of Bear Peak, from the top of Green Mountain

My RunKeeper data said that the whole hike was about 5 miles, though all the official trail guides say that it is a 5.4 miles hike so maybe my GPS was off a little bit. Regardless of the distance, this guy still got a good workout and was pooped at the end of it!

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Pooped!

 

 

February 2016, in food

Another belated post!

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chili (with sweet potatoes and guacamole)

recipe: riffed off of this one from Serious Eats
notes: I didn’t follow the recipe all that strictly — I didn’t use dried chilies, for example, used ground beef instead of short rib, and didn’t use dried beans. I mostly just used whatever I thought should go into chili and had on hand — ground meat, canned beans, tomatoes — and used the recipe as a reference point for what other flavor enhancers I could add. I used varying amounts of canned chipotles in adobo sauce, fish sauce, vinegar, and bourbon to make the flavor pop. Was very happy with how the flavor came out, though I’m not sure if I could exactly recreate it!

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pork and cabbage dumplings
recipe: http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2011/04/pork-and-leek-dumplings-with-homemade-wrapper.html
notes: Was yummy! The wrapper dough was a little tough and chewy at times, but dumplings are still always good. Made these for Chinese New Year — boiled half the batch, and baked the other batch (brushed with oil). They’re picture here in their pre-cooked state.

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rice congee with beef, mushrooms and garlic chips
recipe: http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2014/12/brown-rice-congee-shiitake-garlic-chip-beef-recipe.html
notes: I think this dish photographed well, and was good enough, but the flavor was just a little too mild/bland. I couldn’t resist putting in a little fish sauce to amp up the flavor. Garlic oil was very nice!

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saffron rice pudding
recipe: ??
notes: I had some leftover rice and decided to turn it into rice pudding. I just browsed online to look at recipes for inspiration, then came up with this. It was fine — added some golden raisins, cardamom, and slice almonds — but not something I’d remake in a hurry.

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ramen bowl
restaurant: http://goodymonsterfusioncafe.eat24hour.com/
notes: I actually wanted to eat at this place after my triathlon last year, but they are closed on Sundays. My boss really likes the ramen here, so a bunch of us went out for lunch one day. From the perspective of having a hot and spicy bowl of soupy noodles, this was satisfying. From the perspective of ramen… I like my ramen a little more traditional, with chashu pork, menma, green onions, etc. Not in a rush to return, but would like to explore other ramen places in the Denver metro area.

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turkey shepherd’s pie
recipe: none
notes: I wanted to make dinner one night and was trying to figure out what to do with the ingredients on hand… and realized I had just about everything for shepherd’s pie!  It was pretty good — nothing to write home about, but made a ton of food and great lunch leftovers.

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grapefruit cake
recipe: used several online… I need to track them down at some point.
notes: I loved how this came out! Very moist. I made this egg-free by using chia eggs. Would definitely make again (and would make it without icing if not serving to company).

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orange spiced date nut muffins
recipe: Smitten Kitchen
notes: Would not make again. They were fine, but I just wasn’t a huge fan. I did use deglet noor dates instead of medjools, which might have made a difference… and used a gluten-free flour blend (Bella) that makes a somewhat crumbly/sandy muffin texture, which might have been part of my dislike. I still ate them though!

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cubano + empanadas

restaurant: http://www.cubacubasandwicheriaboulder.com/
notes: Went out for a team lunch to Cuba Cuba Sandwicheria. They have a nice lunch combo where you can get a side with half a sandwich. Portions were surprisingly large! Kat’s chicken sandwich looked really good, as did a steak sandwich that came with chimichurri sauce.

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buttery pigeon peas + rice 
recipe: the pigeon peas were from 660 Curries, the rice I just improvised
notes: I’ve had a package of dried pigeon peas for a while now and wanted to try them out with a simple recipe. I… think I like pigeon peas? They have a distinct flavor from other dried lentils/legumes that I’ve had, but I can’t quite put my finger on it. Will have to try out additional pigeon pea recipes 🙂

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banana cream pie (gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free) 

recipe: the crust recipe was from Against All Grain, pudding was made up
notes: The crust was very “healthy” tasting but generally worked for this recipe. I used coconut milk to make it dairy-free, and gelatin and cornstarch (instead of eggs) as thickeners. Not a dessert to win any prizes, but still pretty good!

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no-bake cheesecake 

recipe: http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2013/03/no-bake-strawberry-cheesecake-recipe.html
notes: I followed the cheesecake portion of the recipe exactly, though I decided to skip the apple jelly + strawberry topping and just used fresh raspberries instead. I made the crust as described, but decided to bake it because I like a crust that really “holds” together. This one certainly held together very well! Almost too well… it was a bit like eating a cookie in some of the thicker edge portions. The cheesecake filling was quite a bit softer than a traditional cheesecake, but still really great. I would use this recipe again.

December 2015 & January 2016, in food

I’ve been pretty stinkin’ awful about updating the things that I’ve made. I kept meaning to do a full December post through the month of January… and then was going to a combined December and January post for the end of January… and now it’s February 5th and I’m just getting to updating things!


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savory oatmeal with bacon, picked beets, and a poached egg
notes: I think I perfected my savory oatmeal game this month! Standard recipe now is to cut up bacon into smaller pieces, fry in pan, then remove with a slotted spoon and reserve. Add chopped onion and carrot to the bacon grease and saute until browned. Add oatmeal, water, some salt, and seasonings (I usually use thyme and maybe some worcestershire sauce). Cook until down, then top with a poached egg, the reserved bacon, and some pickled veggies.

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applesauce cake with caramel glaze
recipe: http://food52.com/recipes/8646-applesauce-cake-with-caramel-glaze
notes: THIS CAKE WAS SOOOO GOOD! So moist and yummy and wonderful… I subbed cardamom for the allspice but that was the only deviation. I think that the cake was great and the caramel frosting just made it spectacular.

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ice cream roll-up
restaurant: 10 Below
notes: James Chan was very excited to share this new ice cream shop, and it was a pretty interesting experience! We got the matcha green tea roll up with berries and cookies mixed in. I thought it was a fun way to have ice cream, but I’m just as content with a standard scoop.

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the buffet
restaurant: the buffet
notes: My parents wanted to take us out to a buffet spot in Flushing. Typical Flushing buffet — the food wasn’t mind blowingly amazing, though the sheer variety was.

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omakase
restaurant: sushi yasuda 
notes: I love Sushi Yasuda! This was one of the omakase courses, which had uni from Hokkaido and uni from Santa Barbara. It was really fun tasting them side by side — I strongly preferred the Hokkaido, it was much creamier and milder than the Santa Barbara.

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birthday dinner
restaurant: talde
notes: I chose this place because I very much wanted to have shaved ice for my birthday dessert… that was probably my  main criteria for choosing a birthday dinner restaurant! And… unfortunately, THEY DID NOT HAVE SHAVED ICE! Apparently they only serve it in the summertime. Total BS. (The rest of the food was tasty — the picture shows a lobster tom kha noodle soup — but I was sorely disappointed about my lack of shaved ice. Hmph.)

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five spice chicken thighs 
restaurant: new saigon
notes: I ❤ New Saigon! Their five spice chicken thighs were recommended by Kathy so of course I wanted to try them. They were very good — a smaller portion than the beef combo platter, for days when I want less food. 🙂 10/10 would order again.

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cranberry orange cheesecake with chocolate crust

recipe: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/cranberry-orange-cheesecake-with-chocolate-crust-107513
notes: I’d been wanting to make this recipe for a while and had the opportunity to do so for Christmas — I wanted to try making a “festive” looking cheesecake. I was happy with the flavor and how it came out — it had a very silky light, almost whipped texture to it, and the orange / cranberry / dark chocolate all played together nicely. Only drawback: the cranberry topping leaked EVERYWHERE out of the springform pan, so be aware of that in the future.

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crockpot braised beef ragu with polenta

recipe: http://pinchofyum.com/crockpot-braised-beef-ragu-polenta
notes: Was yummy! Not the most complex flavor, but it was super easy and would make again.

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naddan bowl
restaurant: biju’s little curry shop
notes: This was a place that both Kathryn and Kathy had been very excited about. The naddan bowl is described as a “little bit of everything” which is about right. It was a surprisingly large amount of food, and I liked all the little sauces and garnishes that they put on top. That being said, while I liked Biju’s, I’m probably unlikely to go to Denver just to eat here.

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garlic lemon chicken thighs with green beans and potatoes
notes: I made up this recipe — was good and would make again, as it’s a good and easy-to-prepare weeknight dinner.

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paleo czech meatballs over sauteed cabbage and onions 
notes: I’ve made these meatballs several times before and like them very much. They were very tasty over the cabbage and onions!

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sweet potato hash and two poached eggs
notes: I made up this recipe as well… not very complicated, just cooked up some grated sweet potato and onion until it was cooked through and soft, then topped with two poached eggs.

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five spice chicken thighs over shredded cabbage
notes: I was inspired by the chicken thighs that I ate at New Saigon and decided to improvise my own! I tossed the chicken thighs in some olive oil, five spice powder, garlic, cilantro, salt, and lime juice, then roasted the usual amount of time. Finished it off with a little more cilantro. I think these would be improved next time with some fish sauce and maybe a touch of sesame oil.

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ground meat sauteed with mushrooms with white sweet potato and green beans
notes: I honestly don’t remember how I seasoned the meat. Looks like I put in some thyme? Good but basic meal.

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zoodles with spaghetti sauce
notes: No recipe… just literally sauteed up some beef, combined it with some jarred pasta sauce, and then put it on top of spiralized zucchini noodles.

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roasted shiitake mushrooms, poached eggs, and green beans
notes: I found shiitake mushrooms for really cheap at H-Mart, and was excited to have them roasted! SO GOOD.

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scrambled eggs with shiitake mushrooms and roasted red cabbage

notes: Used up the remainder of my shiitakes. And I love roasted cabbage! Red cabbage doesn’t “hold together” as well as green cabbage, it’s more prone to falling loose into shreds after roasting.

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fried chicken with coleslaw and potatoes
restaurant: Yellowbelly
notes: I’ve been wanting to try Yellowbelly for over a year now! Finally made it there. I was surprised by how much I liked it — I’m not a huge fried chicken fan and don’t usually order it at restaurants but I really enjoyed this. It might even be the best American-style fried chicken I’ve ever had! The potatoes were really good, too. The coleslaw was nothing to write home about but was a nice backdrop to the fried foods.

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comfort zoodles
notes: I made this recipe last year while on the Whole30 — decided to make it again to see if I’d like it anymore. It’s pretty good, but not anything I’d want to have more than 1x a year.

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pot roast
notes: I found a recipe online where you use a can of coconut milk for the pot roast instead of cream of mushroom soup. Honestly, this recipe smelled a lot better than it tasted! I think it was missing some aromatics — maybe celery, and a bay leaf, and maybe fish sauce would have helped amp up the flavor a little bit. It wasn’t particularly worth making the recipe again, so I’m not linking it. 😉

 

November 2015 in food

November was a much more prolific cooking and baking month  — a very good thing, in my book! I’m hoping to keep it up next month as well… but just like last year, December has turned into a bit of a travel-filled month (I’ll be away two out of the four weekends), so it’ll be a bit of a struggle to make as much stuff.

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asian-inspired noodles with beef meatballs
recipe: made up
notes: Mixed ground beef with a lot of garlic, cilantro, green onions, salt, and ginger paste. Fried the meatballs in batches to brown the outsides, then transferred to a plate. Added more ginger and garlic along with chopped zucchini to the pan to saute, and deglazed with some water. Added meatballs and more water to the pot, brought to a boil. Added rice noodles and cooked them until done with the veggies & meat. I was pretty pleased with how this came out! I think adding a little bit of sesame oil and cilantro would have done a lot for the dish, but it was satisfying as it was.

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peanut butter oatmeal cookies
recipe: http://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2014/03/23/flourless-peanut-butter-oatmeal-cookies/
notes: We ate these, but they honestly tasted a little too “healthy.” Something was a little off about these… I’d  make peanut butter oatmeal cookies again, but not this particular recipe.

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pumpkin sage savory muffins

recipe: http://www.lovefoodeat.com/pumpkin-sage-savory-muffins/
notes: I wanted to make something with pumpkin but didn’t want to go the usual route by making a sweet pumpkin bread. I found this recipe doing a quick search online for savory muffins. They were edible and were fine as a grab-and-go breakfast food, but didn’t wow me and I wouldn’t make them again. Subbed Bob’s Red Mill GF Flour for these.

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tacos!
restaurant: La Choza
notes: Still as yummy as my last visit. I got the al pastor and the barbacoa, I think.

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nantucket cranberry pie
recipe: http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/nantucket-cranberry-pie/
notes: I have wanted to make this pie for the longest time! I first came across this recipe when I was living in Massachusetts, but it was summertime and fresh cranberries were nowhere to be found. Then I moved to NYC and didn’t have a kitchen… and I put off making this recipe because most people I know aren’t very fond of cranberries and there are always so many other recipes out there to try. When I saw cranberries on sale this month, I finally decided to stop putting it off and just went for it! I liked how this came out and I also liked how easy it was to put together. I think it might be nice to try next time with a touch less sugar in the cranberry mixture and add some grated orange zest.

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sweet potato hash browns

recipe: loosely adapted from http://thefitchen.com/2013/08/29/sweet-potato-hash-browns/
notes: THESE WERE SO GOOD! I generally mistrust random recipes found on blogs, but I really wanted to try making hash browns one night with some sweet potatoes. I used the recipe mostly to get an idea of rough proportion/ingredients to use. I didn’t rinse or squeeze dry the shredded sweet potatoes, mixed in an entire chopped onion, used garlic powder instead of chopped garlic, and eyeballed amounts of gluten-free flour (Bob’s Red Mill) and olive oil. Fried four patties at a time (scooped out approximately a half cup of the potato mixture and flattened them out in the pan) for ~4 minutes on one side and then 3 minutes on the other. Will definitely make again!

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nibby nut and raisin cookies 

recipe: seriously bittersweet by alice medrich
notes: Yet another recipe I’ve bookmarked for a while and have wanted to make! I was SUPER happy with how these came out, they were one of the better cookies I’ve made in a while. I halved this recipe since I wasn’t sure how they were going to come out; next time I’m making a full batch!

modifications: Used Bella GF Flour instead of all purpose. (These made the cookies a little more crumbly / a little less chewy than normal cookies.) The recipe gave the option of using either raisins or currants — I used raisins because they’re what I had on hand. I baked the first batch for about 12 minutes which was a touch too long, next time don’t keep them in for any longer than 11 (maybe check at 10).

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teddie’s apple cake 
recipe: http://food52.com/recipes/19828-teddie-s-apple-cake
notes: To me, apple cakes are like the fish tacos of the dessert world. What I mean by that is that I always love the idea of fish tacos (and apple cakes) and they’re both generally enjoyable, but they’re never *quite* what I want them to be. The same was true of this apple cake — there was something not quite apple-y enough about it. It tasted mostly like a spice cake with a few apples sprinkled about as an afterthought. Not a bad cake, but I’m still in search of that elusive platonic ideal.

modifications: I halved the recipe, and baked for about 55 minutes… I was worried towards the end, because it was starting to smell like it was maybe starting to get overcooked at the edges/bottom, but the center was still on the wet side. Tossed the apples in 1/4 cup rum, and set them aside while I prepared the rest of the recipe. Used brown sugar instead of white, doubled the cinnamon, added dashes of nutmeg and allspice, used Bob’s Red Mill GF flour instead of all-purpose, used toasted pecans instead of walnuts, and used fresh cranberries instead of raisins. I’m pleased with how the cranberries turned out, since they add a tiny smidge of tartness against the sweetness of the cake — I think raisins (as originally called for) would have made the cake too sweet.

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honey cornbread

recipe: http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/honey-corn-bread
notes/mods: I subbed the cup of heavy cream with 2/3 heavy cream and 1/3 cup water to make it more like a “whole milk.” Other than that I kept everything the same. It was very good warmed up — I had some both with the Thanksgiving dinner and also with some poached eggs and salsa for breakfast. A little on the sweet side, but not too sweet. Next time I make a cornbread I’ll look for one that’s more explicitly savory.

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apple crisp with oat topping

recipe: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/229088/apple-crisp-with-oat-topping/
notes/mods: Granny Smith apples were on sale at Sprouts for just 48 cents a pound! I was already buying a Granny Smith apple anyway for my Thanksgiving turkey, so I bought a bunch more to use for baking. I like crisps because they’re very easy to throw together… and who doesn’t like crisp topping? 🙂 I’ve started to come around on baked apples as well — I used to strongly dislike all cooked apple desserts, but now I don’t mind them as long as the apples are sliced thinly enough so that they practically melt in your mouth when you eat them. I doubled this recipe and it yielded WAY more than what would fit in a 9×13 pan, so I divided it between the 9×13 and another 9″ round casserole dish. I eyeballed the general measurements (didn’t measure as precisely as I usually do) and added a 1/2 tsp of salt because I think all sweet things need a little bit of salt to balance it all out. Was really tasty!

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Thanksgiving 2015 Feast

bacon bird with turkey neck gravy 
candied sweet potatoes 
– sauteed green beans with garlic (no recipe)
honey cornbread 
cranberry sauce 
Notes: I was quite pleased with how the turkey came out! Used a 12 pound turkey (technically, it was 11.8 pounds) and followed the bacon bird recipe exactly. I especially liked the gravy and how it went with the turkey… but I always like any sauce that has alcohol in it, and this one had both white wine and brandy! I subbed heavy cream for the whole milk since that’s what I had on hand and I don’t think that change hurt the sauce. 🙂 I made a basic cranberry sauce to go with the turkey and also revisited the candied sweet potatoes that I made last year since I loved them so much. This time I got the directions a little wrong and peeled/chopped the potatoes by accident before boiling them. I think they still came out ok, but the sauce seemed a little runnier this year, perhaps. Still yummy though!

Next year, I’ll probably get a bigger bird. Somehow the 12 pound turkey only yielded enough meat for five meals… which seems somehow wrong? I’d looked up serving estimates and apparently a 12 pound turkey is supposed to feed 8 people!

October 2015 in food

This was both a slow food month (I didn’t make very many recipes that particularly “wowed” me) and also a very exciting food month (went to New Saigon and The Kitchen!). It feels like for a lot of my lunches and dinners, I just made something quick and easy but not particularly glamorous — stuff like rice and lentils with cilantro, or rice and eggs with fish sauce. I’m hoping to do a little bit more cooking/baking of novel dishes and treats next month.

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custom pizza
restaurant: Pizza Rev
notes:  I got a free pizza coupon in the mail for Pizza Rev so I tried it out for lunch one day — I got a pizza with sausage, ricotta, red onions, mushrooms, artichokes, and basil. Overall it was quite good, and one of the tastier lunch options near work.

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green thai curry

notes: Made up this recipe. It wasn’t my fave, but it also wasn’t bad either. I think I’d like to work on my curry dishes… I’ve been stuck in a bit of a rut with them. They’re fine, just a little lackluster.

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date bars

recipe: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/classic-date-bars-109179
notes: Made these with gf flour and also subbed 1/2 cup of Grand Marnier in for the water when simmering the dates. These were very rich and sweet and delicious. I liked them so much, I made them again a few days later using a combination of dates and figs!  (used 2:1 / dates:figs)

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sausage hash 
notes: This is pretty similar to the other hashes I made last month — very delicious, but nothing earth shattering to them. I used spinach, potatoes, and fennel seeds.

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papa murphy’s pizza
restaurant: papa murphy’s
notes: I’d never eaten Papa Murphy’s before so we got this giant stuffed crust pizza. It was so much food — my hand is in the picture, for scale. Tasty for what it was, but made me soooo thirsty afterwards.

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beef combination plate

restaurant: New Saigon
notes: A very strong contender for the best new thing I’ve eaten in 2015! Kathy recommended this dish as a good one to get… I typically stick to the bun noodle bowls but really wanted to branch out this time. This dish was fantastic, flavorful, fresh, and the portion size was HUMONGOUS! 10/10 would order again.

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roasted baby beet bruschetta, pan seared wild salmon, and knickerbocker glory 

restaurant: The Kitchen
notes: I like the bruschetta quite a bit, but I always love grilled bread — Kyle found it a little too burnt tasting. Salmon was also nicely done. The knickerbocker glory was very impressive to look at, but I probably wouldn’t get it again because it is so incredibly creamy (it’s a layered sundae of ice cream, cream, strawberries, and meringues) and I prefer desserts that are not so dairy-heavy.

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czech-inspired meatballs with rice and vegetables
notes: Just a quick weeknight supper. There were actually quite a few weeknight suppers that I didn’t take pictures of this month… mostly because I didn’t really bother with plating it by the time I was done making it.

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dark chocolate cheesecake

recipe: From here and here
notes: Two or three years ago, I visited Andy and Ellen in West Chester, PA and in their fridge was this amazingly rich dark chocolate cheesecake that Ellen had made. I bookmarked the recipe and have been meaning to make it ever since, but cheesecake always feels like a bit of a daunting endeavor: it requires purchasing ingredients I don’t usually have on hand (cream cheese, graham crackers, heavy cream, etc.), and it makes a LOT of very rich dessert that I can’t easily finish on my own without a bellyache.

Modifications: I used chocolate graham crackers instead of chocolate wafer cookies. Baked at 250 degrees for about 45 minutes, panicked about the instructions and raised it to 350 degrees for the last 15 minutes, then turned off the oven and let it sit in the closed oven for an hour, as per the instructions from Ellen’s blog. I also added vanilla extract (2 tbsp) in the cheesecake filling, mostly to make it easier to blend in my food processor.

The cake turned out very dense and rich — it was more of a “death by chocolate” type of cake rather than a cheesecake; the tangy flavor of the cream cheese didn’t come through as much as in a regular cheesecake. It was very well-received at my office’s Halloween potluck and I won in the dessert category. Yay! 🙂 Overall, I’d make this recipe again if I wanted to make a crowd-pleaser, but it’s a little too single-note chocolatey and rich for my tastes — I’d prefer a plain cheesecake or a lemon cheesecake instead.

Long weekend in Washington

Breakfast at Issaquah Cafe:

ENORMOUS cinnamon bun... hand in photo for scale

ENORMOUS cinnamon bun… hand in photo for scale

potato burrito

potato burrito with hash browns

Leavenworth, WA

down by the river

down by the river

goats in town putting up with pets in exchange for food

goats in town putting up with pets in exchange for food

giant smoked turkey leg at Oktoberfest... again, hand in photo for scale

giant smoked turkey leg at Oktoberfest… again, hand in photo for scale

Ellensburg, WA

hike up Manastash Ridge

hike up Manastash Ridge

the famed super burrito! (first trip of many to the burrito bus, aka Tacos Chalito)

the famed super burrito! (first trip of many to the burrito bus, aka Tacos Chalito)

home for the weekend

home for the weekend

beef salad at Sugar Thai

beef salad at Sugar Thai

we went shooting!! (our target setup)

we went shooting!! (our target setup)

I shot a rifle!!

I shot a rifle!!

super delicious steak dinner at home

super delicious steak dinner at home

beautiful fall scenery on the way to Umptanum Falls

beautiful fall colors on the way to Umptanum Falls

stopped here and didn't make it to the falls, but it was still a pretty hike

stopped here and didn’t make it to the falls, but it was still a pretty hike

September 2015 in food

Turns out, I got a bit obsessed with eating/making hash towards the end of this month — there were three separate hash dishes! One hash dish I’d like to try in the future (maybe next month?) is a smoked salmon hash. Also on my to-make list in the near future are Suzhou savory pork mooncakes, albondiga soup, and lots more pumpkin-y baked goods.

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oatmeal raisin cookies
recipe: http://www.evilchefmom.com/2011/01/chewy-oatmeal-cookies.html
notes/modifications: I browned the butter first, because brown butter makes everything better. I heated the raisins in a small saucepan with 3 tablespoons of rum and let it soak a bit for extra moisture (and hopefully flavor). Used pecans instead of walnuts, and I toasted the chopped nuts for ~8-10 minutes before adding to the batter.

Overall, I liked the flavor — they had a nice caramelly taste, the pecans, rum-soaked raisins, and browned butter all gave good depth of flavor. However, I think I baked them just a touch too long — instructions were to bake them for 15 minutes, but when I looked at 15 they seemed underdone, so I left them in for 4 more minutes and I think that was too much. Maybe 16 minutes next time? Kathy’s review of them: “…absolutely delicious oatmeal raisin cookie. Wow. Truly the best I’ve ever had…. sure could be cooked 1 minute less (if you say so!) but tender, chewy, crispy, packed with flavor… beautiful.”

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yushan pork, basil chicken, and eggplant in hot pot 
restaurant: Five Spice
notes: The yushan pork was not at all what I was expecting (there seemed to be a lot of celery in it?!), and the basil chicken (san bei gi) had good flavor but the chicken had bone in it and was annoying to eat with all the little bone fragments. In my humble opinion, the star of the meal was the eggplant in hot pot which tasted a lot like what yu hsiang eggplant tastes like, but this was served sizzling in a stone pot. It was super saucy and delicious and the eggplant was creamy and lovely. Would definitely like to go back and try more dishes! I think that Five Spice the only Chinese restaurant in Boulder that I’d recommend for authentic Chinese food.

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dinosaur kale salad with sweet potato, avocado, red onion, and a poached egg
recipe: none
notes: Pretty simple salad, but I had all the ingredients around on a weeknight. I ❤ kale salads so much and feel like I can’t eat enough of them! Dressing was just lemon juice, EVOO, stoneground mustard, honey, a minced garlic clove, and salt.

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pork & green chile stew (chile verde) 
recipe: http://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-pork-amp-green-chile-stew-chile-verde-recipes-from-the-kitchn-196167
modifications: I used all poblano chiles (Sprouts surprisingly didn’t have any Anaheims around, and I would have liked to do a 50/50 mix), I eyeballed the amount of cumin (and probably added more than one tablespoon), used 4 bay leaves, and used regular oregano (despite the recipe specifying that it’s important to use Mexican oregano). I also stirred in about 1/4 cup of chopped cilantro at the end, and garnished with even more cilantro.

notes: Kathy recommended this dish to me a while ago and described it as one of the best things she’s ever made. I’ve wanted to try making chile verde for a while now, and decided to make it over Labor Day weekend so we’d have something hearty and delicious to eat after hiking Mt. Bierstadt.It was really delicious! Very mild, not spicy at all. Next time I might like to add a jalapeno for more spice (or use other blends of chiles) but it was plenty delicious as is.

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majestic and moist honey cake 
recipe: http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2008/09/majestic-and-moist-honey-cake/
notes: I made this recipe around this time last year, though this year I wanted to try it with a new GF-flour blend I got. I don’t think the texture was quite as good as with regular all-purpose flour, and I tired of the flavor of the cake more quickly this time… which was a shame given that I’d made a 9×13″ pan of the cake!

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grilled beef rice plate
restaurant: Black Pepper Pho
notes: I’d been interested in trying this place, but was sadly underwhelmed by the dish, which I get at just about every Vietnamese restaurant. The plate looked lovely, but there just wasn’t enough flavor/seasoning the way there typically is — I had to add a bit of hoisin and sriracha to liven up the noodles.

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corned beef hash
restaurant: crane hollow cafe (hygiene, co)
notes: Quite satisfying as a mid-bike ride meal, if not particularly memorable in taste.

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arroz caldo
recipe: http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2015/03/arroz-caldo-chicken-rice-soup-recipe.html
notes: Kathy recommended this dish a while back to me and I’d been looking forward to trying it out for a while. I used red onions, so this has a purple-y tinge. I also used a lot less stock so it came out more like a congee/porridge type dish, less like a soup. The fried garlic bits were a really nice touch and added a great crunch.

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chorizo sandwich 
restaurant: Shopey’s Sandwiches (food truck)
notes: I was torn between getting the chorizo sandwich or the chicken banh mi. I had a taste of someone else’s banh mi though, and am glad I went with the chorizo — it had a lot more flavor to it. I do wish that they had included some cucumber or additional vegetables to add more “freshness” to the sandwich and counterbalance the spice of the pork.

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pumpkin mochi cake 
recipe: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/90253/pumpkin-mochi/
notes: I originally wanted to make pumpkin bread… but upon realizing that I was out of cinnamon, I had to switch tactics. I’ve been wanting to make mochi cake again for a while now (since I loved my chocolate mochi cake so much). I was pretty pleased with how this one came out! Modifications: I added 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of almond extract.  Baked for 1 hour exactly, turning the pan around midway through baking.

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dinner buffet
restaurant: Yak & Yeti 
notes: This was another Kathy recommendation — I think this is my favorite Indian restaurant in Colorado thus far. I love places with dinner buffets, and this buffet has an unusually large selection of curries and dessert to choose from.

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french dip sandwich 
restaurant: The Millsite Inn
notes: The Millsite Inn was a very welcome sight in Ward, 40 miles into a bike ride and after 5000+ feet  in climbing! Fries could have been a bit more crisp, but the french dip was yummy and I gobbled it all down very quickly.

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savory chicken hash 

recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/aaron-mccargo-jr/savory-chicken-hash-recipe.html
notes: Chris introduced me to this recipe and we liked it very much in the past. I was in the mood for some hash but didn’t have any meat on hand (and had no time to make a roast) so I decided to revisit this recipe. I garnished with scallion at the end instead of parsley because that’s what I had on hand. The potatoes didn’t end up crisping in the oven but it was still as yummy as ever — especially with a poached egg on top!

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italian sausage hash with sweet potatoes and spinach 

recipe: made-up
notes: I’ve been obsessed with hash this month, and after a conversation with Kathy where she mentioned using sausages for hash, I decided to make this. Sauteed italian sausage with red onions, added sweet potatoes and some chicken broth and a tablespoon of rosemary, and cooked until the sweet potatoes were tender. Folded in a half pound of spinach and let it wilt from the heat. Topped with a poached egg (which broke as I placed it on the hash)… very satisfying to eat on a cool night after hiking. 🙂

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

4

At the top of Carter Lake

I rode my first century on Sunday!

I met my riding partner, Katie, back in July and we’ve done several long-ish rides together. We both wanted to do a century this year (my first, her fifth) so we signed up for the Buffalo Bicycle Classic.

The route itself wasn’t terribly exciting: it covered a lot of familiar territory, and I didn’t find it to be particularly scenic (I’d toyed with the idea of training for the Buff Epic route, which would have been much prettier). At the same time though, it was a bit of a boost to have a good sense of where I was and where I was heading to — it made the second half of the ride mentally easier.

strava

Takeaways:

  • Start early! We began at about 7:45am and finished over eight hours later. Next time I do a century, I’d like to start earlier so that it’s cooler for longer (and so I can finish a bit earlier in the day).
  • The ride felt toughest between 50-60 miles (while heading up to Carter) and then again around mile 90 onward. There were some rather strong headwinds that day, and it was especially hard on the slightly uphill return into Boulder.
  • Wear lip balm next time! My lips were so chapped by the end of the day from a combination of lots of lip licking + wind + dehydration.
  • I reapplied sunscreen twice during the day, which was about right — I didn’t get burned or much of a tan… just the way I like it! (My legs did look very ghostly pale from all the zinc oxide by the end of the ride, though.)
  • Foods I like while riding: watermelon, pub mix, goldfish crackers
  • Foods I don’t like while riding: pastries, bagels, bananas
2

slathered in sunscreen and loving it!