Monday, July 16, 2012

Summer Salads

So I have decided to take a break from my marathon watching of "The Bachelorette," and write a new post. Yes, my life is super interesting right now while I wait to get a job...

Keith and I decided awhile back that we were going to make this more than just a "food" blog. We have a lot of friends we want to keep in contact with, and want to keep aware of the events in our lives.

That being said, today is still going to be a post about food. Food seems to be on my mind a lot right now. I think it is probably because of this little Giant's fan (that I already love lots and lots):

I find myself hungry almost all the time (only "almost" because in the morning when I wake up, eating is the last thing I want to do, but the only thing that will make me feel better). Luckily I haven't had any weird cravings so far, except for a meal every 2 hours.

I have always loved to cook and eat. Keith and I both enjoy it as a way to be creative, relax, and be social. In the summertime however, anything I can do to stay a little cooler is welcome. This summer, I feel a lot of summer salads coming our way. We have made 4 salads in the past couple weeks that are delicious and fill many summer cravings. I will share these recipes with you. :)

Salad #1: California Citrus Salad
(This is a very simple salad--and one that has no exact measurements. Just adjust to your liking based on how many people you will be serving)

Romaine lettuce
Chunked avocado
Candied pecans
Thinly sliced green apple
Golden raisins
Dried Cranberries
Mandarin oranges, drained
Chopped green onion
Chopped cooked chicken (Costco rotisserie chicken really is the best)
Citrus vinaigrette or poppyseed dressing
Blue cheese, crumbled

Combine first 9 ingredients. Toss with dressing. Top with blue cheese.

Salad #2: BBQ Chicken Salad
(Again--no exact measurements.)

Torn iceburg (or romaine) lettuce
Shredded cabbage
Black beans, rinsed and drained
Chopped cucumber
Chopped cilantro
Sliced olives
Frozen corn, rinsed and drained (We like Trader Joe's frozen roasted corn)
Chopped tomato
Chopped avocado
Ranch dressing
Grated cheese
Corn Chips
Shredded chicken in BBQ sauce

Combine first 9 ingredients. Top with ranch, grated cheese, corn chips, and shredded chicken. You can use a commercially prepared BBQ chicken, such as Lloyd's, or you can make your own. We made this this weekend, and we boiled some frozen chicken breasts, shredded the chicken, and then let simmer in some BBQ sauce on the stove while we put the rest of the salad together.

Salad #3: Black Bean, Corn, and Shrimp Salad
(There is a little bit of cooking with this recipe, but shrimp cooks so fast, it hardly warms the kitchen)
Servings: 4

1 Tbsp chili powder
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 1/2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice, divided
1 1/2 cups frozen corn, thawed (again, we like Trader Joe's roasted frozen corn)
3/4 cup bottled salsa
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 avocado, chunked (optional)

Heat skillet to medium high heat.

Combine first three ingredients in a large bowl; add shrimp. Toss to coat.

Coat pan with cooking spray. Add shrimp, saute 3 minutes or until done. Add 1 Tbsp lime juice. Remove shrimp from pan.

Add corn to pan, saute 1 minute. Stir in salsa, cilantro, and beans. Cook 30 seconds or until thoroughly heated. Stir in remaining 1 Tbsp lime juice, and avocado (if desired).

Serve shrimp over bean mixture.

Salad #4: Asian Pasta Salad

16 ounces Rotelle or pasta twists, cooked
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 Tbsp sugar
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup white wine vinegar (regular vinegar is ok)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
3 cups cold, cooked shredded chicken
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/2 bunch green onions
8 cups torn spinach leaves (1 bunch)

In a small frying pan, combine seeds and 1/4 cup oil. Cook and stir until golden (about 2 minutes). Let cool. Stir in remaining oil, soy sauce, sugar, vinegar, salt, and pepper.

Pour mixture over cooked pasta; add chicken and toss gently. Cover and chill at least 2 hours.

When ready to serve, add parsley, onion, and spinach. Toss.

Enjoy! I know I sure did.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Chocolate Chip Cookies

So I have always been known for my chocolate chip cookies. I used to give them to people as birthday presents in high school--and I think people began to expect them when their birthdays drew near. They could expect a brown paper lunch sack filled with cookies, evidenced by the round grease stains coming through the outside of the bag. I also made them for fundraisers, cooking competitions (at church), and anytime I needed a sweet treat (which was far too often). Once I went to college, I passed the recipe on to roommates, who also learned to love them. I think all of them wrote down the recipe as "Katie Mack's cookies," so they would never forget who their favorite roommate was. :)

The reason I write this post today is not to toot my own horn, but to talk about my adventures of making these cookies.

Whenever Keith and I move into a new apartment, I am always so anxious to make the cookies. I dare say it is always close to the first thing I make when we arrive (and Keith never complains). It is always an experiment the first time I make them due to different altitudes, different ovens, and sometimes slightly different ingredients. The recipe is always the same, but it can take a couple of trials with a few minor tweaks until they are just like I made them back in San Jose in high school.

Before we moved to Chicago, we were living with my grandma in Salt Lake. I made cookies at her house a lot--not only because cookies were her favorite, but because I could never get them to turn out juuuuust right. And not having a delicious cookie around is unacceptable.

So last week, I made my cookies. And I discovered, Chicago is a good place for making them! The flavor was great, the texture was good, and as always, they are even more delicious straight out of the freezer. Keith was able to share the love and take half the batch to school. I appreciated this, because the other half was mysteriously gone in 3 days. A little too quickly for only 2 people in this apartment...  I am even more grateful now to be in Chicago--the home of continued delicious cookies!

You can see evidence of a few missing cookies after only being out of the oven for a few minutes...

And because this recipe is not-so-secret, I will share it with all of you.

Katie's Triple Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes around 6 dozen cookies (you can easily halve the recipe)

1 lb butter
1 1/2 C white sugar
2 C brown sugar
3 eggs
6 C flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 C chocolate chips (for triple chip use 1 cup each: white, semi-sweet, milk)

Cream butter and sugars together with electric mixer for 10 minutes.

Add eggs and mix for additional 3 minutes.

Add dry ingredients and mix for 2-3 minutes.

Stir in chocolate chips.

Drop dough by spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-13 minutes (based on size of cookies). Take out of oven when only slightly tan/brown on edges and let continue to sit on hot cookie sheet for 5-10 minutes to finish cooking.


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

It's time to start again!

Remember us? probably remember Keith as the writer, but since he has now started PA school, I am going to take over. After much encouragement from friends to start blogging more, and with a lot of extra time on my hands, I decided it was time. So here it goes.

We have been busy with life these past couple months. Keith graduated with his undergrad from BYU, I quit my first real job, we went on a nearly 3 week vacation to Europe, and now we have moved to Chicago after living in Utah for 8 years (only 5 years for Keith)! Quite some life changes.

We are excited about the new adventures in Chicago--especially the fact that there is a restaurant every other door front. But, although I never thought I would say it, there are things I am going to miss about Utah.

The other day, I compiled a list of our favorite restaurants in Utah for my brother who is moving to Utah (bad timing right? We just moved away, and they are now moving there. Sad). I thought I would share this list with all of you, so if you ever find yourself in Utah, you can give some of them a try. I know we have now moved to a wonderful "foodie" city, but some of these restaurants will truly be missed.

Salt Lake County:

Plum Alley. This is an asian fusion restaurant. They have a lot of interesting things, but we particularly enjoyed their ramen noodles. It's not too expensive, if I remember correctly.

Copper Onion
. Right next door to Plum Alley. It is owned by the same guys. This place is a little more expensive. It is delicious, and more like small plates so you can share and try a few different things. I believe they have main entrees, as well, though.

Cucina Tuscana. This is an expensive Italian restaurant. Go there for a special occasion and make a reservation. It is quite delicious, and you may even get a kiss at the end of the night by the Italian owner.

Red Iguana. Just go. It's delicious. Their signature dish with steak tips in their almond mole sauce is fabulous. But we have never had anything bad here. It's great.

Eva. This is a tapas restaurant. Keith has eaten there with his brother, and they both say only good things.

Cafe Madrid. Another Spanish experience. This is also a nicer and more expensive restaurant. We went there a few months ago, and we loved it. The waiter gave us fabulous recommendations for good combos of plates.

Oh Mai. Cheap and absolutely delicious vietnamese cuisine. Super nice people run his place. We have mostly just had their bahn mi (vietnamese sandwiches). We would highly recommend the honey glazed pork sandwich. I bet their pho is also delicious, too. I think we went here about 9 times in 6 or 7 weeks. And I could really go for one now...

Pat's BBQ. This was on Diner's Drive-Inn's and Dives on the Food network. We have been there quite a few times, and they have great BBQ. It's not too expensive, either.

Blue Plate Diner. A great breakfast joint.

Lone Star Taqueria. One of my favorite taqueria's in Utah--with both fish and meat for their taco's and burritos. Their fish is flown in every day from the coast so that it's fresh. The fish tacos changes every day based on what they can get for that day. Their shrimp burritos and tacos are also very delicious.

Tsunami. Great, great sushi place. It is a little more expensive than some sushi places, but some of the best I had in Utah. The Executive Suite roll was out of this world.

Bombay House. Absolutely delicious Indian food. The best around. There are 2 locations--SLC and Provo.

Utah County:

Communal. This place is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and we have enjoyed all 3 meals there. I think my favorite is breakfast, and this is definitely the most affordable meal, as well. Breakfast and lunch are individual portions (for the most part), but dinner is more like small plates that you share with other's in your party. Specifically for side dishes. It is really good.

Pizzeria 712. Owned by the same people who own Communal. Really delicious thin crust pizzas here. They also have good salads, appetizers, and everything!

Thai House in Lehi. This is a great Thai place. Best we found while living in Utah County.

Maria Bonitas. This is a great and cheap Mexican place. It is a hole in the wall, and they give you outrageous portions. I think the first time I went, I had 3 meals out of my 1 purchased meal. Some of the stuff is loaded with cheese, but their carnitas are really delicious (and their carnitas tacos are therefore delicious and not quite so heavy on the cheese).

Mountain West Burrito. Keith has eaten here once and it was really tasty. But since then, the restaurant was taken over by the same people that own Communal and Pizzeria 712. We can only imagine that it would keep getting better. If it is still in the same location, it is in a gas station parking lot on state street when heading down from Orem to Provo.

J-Dawgs. Best hot dog/polish dog ever. 
I am craving one right now just thinking about it. Ha ha. It is right next to the south east corner of BYU's campus. Actually, they just opened a new location on university parkway closer to the freeway, as well. The guy who owns this place uses a secret family recipe for his secret sauce. He gets the dogs and sausages made every day at a local meat shop. And he has the bread made specific for him at the Provo Bakery. If you are ever down near BYU, you really should give it a try. It's cheap and the menu is as simple as choosing beef or polish. 

So there it is. Some of the best places I found over the past 8 years. Maybe one day I will get back to Utah and try some of them again, but until then I am excited to live here in Chicago and start collecting a new list of favorites. 

And since no blog post is complete without a picture, enjoy one of Keith and me at his white coat ceremony. I think this is the only we have of us in Chicago so far. We will change that very soon. 

I look forward to blogging more. I already have a few ideas of other things I can write about...which is highly unusual for me. :) Stay tuned...