Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Stealing from Whole Foods: A Double Theft (with a hummus bonus!)

This little thief has been at it again.

I love the hot Lima Bean and Tomato "salad" at the Whole Foods bar, but I'm usually too busy woofing them down my gullet to be discerning with my palate and figure out which flavors make this dish so delicious and comforting.

Thank goodness Krissy of Make it Naked  is a slower eater than me. She already had these WF beans all worked out and ready for home kitchen cookin'. So I did what any self-respecting food whore would do. I stole her recipe. Which she stole adapted from the Whole Foods bar itself. Hence why I'm worse than your average thief. I'm a low-life, and incredibly well fed, double thief.

So, to make this batch of Tomato-y Lima Beans I followed Krissy's Large Lima Beans in Tomato Sauce pretty much to a tee. My only tweaks: I didn't have any parsley on hand (sniffle) and I used fire roasted tomatoes, for an extra kick!

And maybe all the wrong proportions? I swear this batch of beans was reproducing right there on my stove! The nerve! 

Um, yes. Your eyes are not deceiving you, that is 4 massive Tupperware containers of beans. Oh and this was after I had a giant meal of them and took some to my parents, too. Sheesh.

After a week of beans for lunch, I was getting sick of my beloved limas. And I think my 4th and 5th block classes were getting tired of geese loose in the classroom. (Yes, I just stole that term from Mama Pea. I am going to have to spend a lot of time in confession soon.)

And what is a girl to do with a never ending supply of soft and flavorful, protein packed giant limas? Make Lima Bean Hummus of course!

I simply whipped up the rest of my leftover limas in my blender with 3 cloves of garlic, a few torn basil leaves and some olive oil. The result? Velvety, tangy and um, really garlicky. Oh well, I was never on Team Edward anyways. (And now I just steal beg for gum from my students. It's a perk of the job!)

What have you stolen for your plate lately?

Love to all,
~the, "a foodie's gotta do what a foodie's gotta do" gal, Jess

Sunday, September 25, 2011

If Only Sundays (and Pickles)

I really shouldn't allow myself to go on Facebook on Sundays.

See, everyone seems to be out to Brunch, having a Sunday Funday or lazing by the pool.

But not me. Because I had this crazy idea to become a teacher three years ago.

So, instead of savoring bloody mary's lake side with my pals, most of my Sundays are consumed by lesson planing, grading and prepping for labs for the upcoming week.

And yes, I do love my job, because I love my students. But I won't lie, I get a little mopy, and resentful on Sundays.

Because I would rather be reading, or writing a hundred other blog posts, or sunning by the pool, or testing a new recipe or out riding my bike-training for my upcoming triathlon in October.

Wait, maybe I do have time to test a new recipe after all, and if you have about 15 minutes to spare on your Sunday Funday, you can make these Quick Apple Cider Pickles too.

I've been reading a bit about pickling recently and figured no time better to venture into the world of salt and vinegar than the present. That and I had some cucumbers and other veggies on their way out in my crisper drawer. 

What You'll Need:

The Brine:
1 1/2 cups apple cider
1/2 cup water
~1/4 cup sugar
~1 tablespoon coarse salt
~2 teaspoons mustard powder
1 clove garlic, peeled and split open (just whack it with the flat of your knife)

The Veggies:
2 sliced salad cucumbers
4 sliced radishes
~1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped
1 bay leaf

First, bring the contents of the brine to a simmer in a small sauce pot, stirring occasionally to ensure all the salt, sugar and mustard powder are dissolved.

Meanwhile, toss the veggies in a nonreactive, heatproof bowl, with the dill and bay leaf.

Remove the brine from the heat and pour into the veggie bowl, ensuring all the contents are covered with the brine. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour before enjoying. Store in a covered container with the brine for up to 2 weeks, if they last that long!

So there you have it; Sunday pickles in a snap! If only my lesson plans came together so neatly.

Love to all,
~the "I don't love being a teacher on Sundays" gal, Jess

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Songs I Can't Shake

And now you can't either!


Love to all,
~the "I'm so glad that music makes my world go 'round" gal, Jess

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Isn't Chowder

This recipe isn't light.

Don't let the veggies trick you.

This recipe isn't healthy.

This recipe isn't really made for a hot 'n steamy, stormy, summer evening.

This recipe certainly isn't vegan.

Hell, this recipe isn't mine.

But, this recipe IS damn good. And you should make it. No really, go make it.  

Are you still sitting there? Oh, you need the recipe. Mea culpa.

I stole this amazing corn chowder, topped with BBQ grilled shrimp and applewood bacon from another Jess, of How Sweet It Is. Oh, after she stole it from her mom, who stole it from a newspaper.

See, stealing is good sometimes sharing is caring.

I basically followed her recipe, only tweaking the heat, with the addition of a diced, fresh jalapeno pepper and some Louisiana style hot sauce. Oh and I ran the ol' "motorboat" immersion blender through it before serving, because I just had to get another item in my kitchen dirty.

Hey, they don't call me Messi Jessi for nothing!

There are a lot of things this chowder isn't, but a let down it's NOT.

Love to all,
~the "when isn't it a night for soup?" gal, Jess

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Disney Dining: Sanaa (and Zebra Butts!)

Little known fact to most people who live outside the boarders of Buena Vista, Florida, aka Mickey Mouse County, is that many of the Disney resorts have restaurants open to the public ("public" meaning non-park going/ resort staying patrons).

One such restaurant is Sanaa, a self-proclaimed work of art, serving "African cuisine with Indian Flavors"located at Kidani Village of the Animal Kingdom Resorts.  Well, we all know that I love ethnic foods and art, plus this is bestie Michael's favorite restaurant in all of central Florida, so obviously I was stoked to go....but I really didn't care if the food was horrible, I just wanted to see the zebra butts! 

oh, and the giraffe butts!

What was that? You wanted to know how the food was? oh, ok...well, I guess I did have a pretty fantastic lunch, while enjoying the simulated African Safari outside our window-side table.

We started off with the infamous "bread service.

From the Menu:

Choose three you say? What is this word "choose?" What is this limitation "three?" Not when your bestie's step-mum is the special events coordinator for the resort. High rollers, babycakes, high rollers.

I pity anyone who would have to choose between the beautiful, bright flavors of the sauces, and the diverse textures and flavors of the breads. My favorites were the Papadum or the Paneer Paratha breads, with the Cucumber Raita and Tamarind Chutney. Can I just eat this everyday?


For my lunch I was immediately drawn to the Paneer Cheese and Spinach option of the Vegetarian Sampler.  I randomly got the Sambar to go with it, since that was something I'd never heard of before, with basmati rice.

This was so good! You know I love to play with my food, so I thoroughly enjoyed this meal: Playing with extra naan to make the perfect bite...dipping the bread in the sambar, adding a piece of cheese, topping it with some chutney. Repeat. Play with rice. Repeat. Yum.

Michael chose off the more "popular" section of the menu: 

He got both the shrimp dishes, which were very tasty. He also got a side order of the Five Grain Pilaf, and I now know that is the way to go for my starch choice next time. And yes, there will be a next time.

Cindy, Michael's step-mum, eats at Sanna countless times a week, so she got her favorite, the Tandoori Shrimp. 

She also shared a bite and it was so good! So, maybe next time I'll get the Tandoori Chicken (which was my second choice....I just love Paneer too much to not to get it!) with a side of the pilaf, of course!

Michael insists that you cannot go to Sanaa without getting the Chai Cream for dessert, so of course, we got the Chai Cream for dessert!

I love that the spoons come chocolate dipped! Possibly my favorite part of the dish. This was a wonderfully cool and creamy way, with the perfect touch of mild spice, to finish out such a rich and vibrant meal.

That and more animal butts!

Love to all,
~the "I don't know what I love more: drooling over amazing food, or drooling over cute animals" gal, Jess

Sunday, September 11, 2011

In English Class

I wasn't going to write about September 11th today.

I actually was going to prattle on about dinning with zebra butts, but that post can wait for another day.

See, I don't like getting carried away with media hype, and considering I'm part of the media (a teeny, tiny part) I was actually dreading this weekend and all the memorials and specials.

Then on Friday we had a moment of silence at the school where I teach, and all the administration took turns reading a passage about what happened on 9/11/01.

And it all came rushing back. When the announcements had finished, all 20 of my freshman students looked at me expectantly, as I usually say something after the announcements have completed.

I was in 10th grade English, which was held in a tiny classroom in the library.  The librarian came down to our classroom to tell us that "something was happening" at the World Trade Center in NYC. Our teacher wouldn't let us put the TV on, even though we begged. So, one at a time we took turns sneaking out of the room (our teacher was older and not always wise to our shenanigans) to watch the TV in the library. It was "my turn" when the first tower collapsed. I will never forget that moment, just as my Mom will never forget where she was when JFK was assassinated.

At this point I got choked up, which I think shocked myself more than my students.

The rest of the day we didn't actually have classes, we just watched CNN on all the classroom TVs. I remember being scared, which I scolded myself as being dumb, since no one was going to bomb or crash a plane into our tiny, rural school. I was scared because none of my teachers could tell us what was going on. The holders of all the answers didn't know what to tell us, because they were just as rattled and frightened too.

When I asked my class how old they were on 9/11/01, they replied they were 6 years old. Most of them said they didn't even remember what had happened that day. I told them they were lucky.

But I think I am the lucky one, because I still understand why we are/were at war with Iraq and why we are in such a huge financial mess as a country. I might not like the actions our government leaders have always chosen, but I will never forget the moment that started it all.

Love to all,
~the thoughtful gal, Jess

Thursday, September 8, 2011

My favorite (simple) classic....

....for dessert.

Cubed parmesan reggiano and 85% Green & Black's organic chocolate

Simple, understated, but bursting with flavors. Enjoy with a cup of tea and call it a night.

Sweet cheesy-chocolatey dreams, my friends.

Love to all,
~the "sometimes simple is all you need" gal, Jess

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Harvest Time Beer: A meal in a glass

Like many others, I proudly declare fall to be my favorite season.

Oh yes, I love the season of football (only high school and college though, thanks!), the opportunity to wear sweaters, boots and tights, and hello, Halloween?

But the absolutely best part of the fall? Harvest themed beers. Oh yes, they are on tap already and I have three wonderful doozies to share with you! And now, in no particular order:

Number one: Seirra Nevada Life and Limb

This is a "small beer" (means it is the second brew from a batch of hops/barley) with huge flavor! The flavor profile includes burn toast, coffee, and maple syrup. A perfect brew to curl up with and dream of breakfast in the morning. Or hell, just drink this for breakfast! Be warned however, at 10.2% abv this "breakfast in a glass" might leave you loitering around the house for a while!

Number Two: Great Divide Smoke Baltic Porter

"beef jerky in a glass" proclaimed Vinnie, one of my favorite bartenders. This beer does live up to it's proclamation of being "smoked" but I didn't really get the jerky bit. I think Vin was just jerking my chain! This porter does have a slightly salty after taste, but I loved it. As Christine said, it's a beer you have to chew, and at only 6.2% abv you could chew a few over a nice evening with friends.

Number Three: Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale

From the website: [This] pumpkin ale is the mother of all pumpkin ales. It is heartier, spicier, and more “caramelly” and “pumpkiny” than its faint brethren! We have added lots of pumpkin along with Cinnamon, Nutmeg and a touch of cardamom and clove giving this beer a spicy, full-bodied flavor. This truly is an Imperial Pumpkin Ale.

Weyerbacher holds my heart when it comes to pumpkin ales (although, I do enjoy a good Dogfish Head Pumpkin too, don't get me wrong) but I always proclaim this beer to be "Big Red in a glass." I don't taste the pumpkin, so much as the spice, but I love every drop of this 8.0% abv ale, every time.  

So there you have it ladies and gents. My top three for the fall. Start enjoying them now, because they will be gone in a flash!

Love to all,
~the "yes, I rank my favorite seasons based on beer" gal, Jess

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Eatin' Like Teacher

So, we already know that teachers don't get paid squat-diddly (especially those of us who teach in Florida). But it gets even better. Not only do we not get paid enough (and yes, that 3% cut off the top to my supposed pension plan did hurt more than I expected) none of our extra-curricular programing has any funding or support from the district (well, the athletics programs do, but even that doesn't make ends meet).

So that means that every team, club, music program and of course SGA are constantly fundraising (and as a club sponsor I can assure you this gets dirty....don't even think about selling candy or baked potatoes bitches...I will cut you...err that is what my club actually makes money off so please don't step on my toes). And guess who the kiddies hit up first to buy their token chicken dinner, bbq plate or chili cook off ticket? You got it! Us broke ass teachers.

So this week the band was selling a bbq brisket plate, and I really hesitated getting it. I mean, I only eat so much meat, and dry smoked meat just isn't my thing.

Thank God this box of wonders was neither dry nor overly smokey. Let's go on a tour.

Juicy brisket with tangy bbq sauce and bright mixed peppers to top the sandwich, which was encased in the softest roll. SO GOOD. I actually devoured this like an enthusiastic 2 year old with birthday cake. No really, I was super messy and didn't care that I got sauce on my favorite pencil skirt.

On the side were potatoes, two ways. On the bottom was a sweet potato cake of some sort. It was very dense and moist, unfortunately I'm just not a "sweet potato dressed with more sweet stuff" gal. I like my sweet taters savory. But if you love sweet potato casserole you would enjoy this side dish.  The upper potato puff was a pipped and baked outside the shell "twice baked" potato. I think this would be amazing hot...and possibly with bacon? Yes, bacon FTW!

The icing on the cake in this boxed lunch was well..... the cake! You probably won't believe this, but I'd never had a whoopie pie before. Um, can I have one of these for lunch for the rest of my life? Okthanksbai! No really, the cake was soft and giving, with the perfect amount of crumbs. And the whipped cream, oh the whipped cream...somehow there were little pockets of sugar crystals that crunched for a millisecond and then melted. Heaven.

All dished up by the Side Dish Catering Company. Aaron Wiley is actually our tech guy at school. Amazing with computers and amazing with grilled meats? Cindy is a lucky lady! (and she is in culinary school-double lucky!)

And I am "lucky" that I guilted myself (and my empty pocketbook) into supporting our music department and my foodie soul.

Now, does anyone have a good whoopie pie recipe? Please?

Love to all,
~the broke foodie teacher gal, Jess

PS. In the ongoing classroom saga, check out this sweet little gecko I caught hiding in a box of new textbooks. I almost kept him as a class pet, but he was a wee babe and I was afraid he would die. So cute though! And yes, that is my watch band he's lying under. I think he liked me!