An Open Cookbook

An Open Cookbook


Spicy Teriyaki Stir Fry

Tonight was one of those Seattle spring evenings where the sun came out and everyone was outside enjoying the freshness. It was nice feeling the warm sun on my back while gliding up the hill. What with the sun out, I didn't consider the dinner menu until opening the refrigerator to take inventory.

I had a lot of rich food this past weekend. Happy hour #1 on Friday was Caesar salad and sweet potato fries while sitting outside, followed by happy hour #2 with truffle popcorn, Triscuits layered with raspberry jam and brie, olives, and marinated artichoke hearts. Saturday was kale and mushroom frittata and multiple cups of coffee for breakfast, and then a piece of pizza and sauteed kale for lunch. I took a trip to Ikea in the afternoon and had to fuel up with frozen yogurt before shopping. Then dinner was roasted vegetable pizza appetizer, pan-fried chicken, mashed potatoes and roasted Brussels sprouts. Sunday I pulled some frozen rice from the freezer, to slowly realize, while making fried rice, that it was actually barley. So I had fried barley with carrots and mushrooms for breakfast. Roasted cauliflower and eggplant were lunch. And dinner was Mad Men party food with celery stuffed with cream cheese and nuts, deviled eggs, olives coated in garlic powder, and avocado 'dunk'. There was a dash of red wine here and there, a few swear words while assembling Ikea furniture, pacing, deep breaths, and a plethora of Soda Stream water.

It is quite interesting to see my entire weekend's food typed out like this. It also explains the fullness factor today. So a light vegetable stir fry for dinner was in order for balancing things out.

Spicy Teriyaki Stir Fry
Yields 1-2 servings

You can use any variety of vegetables for the stir fry. The great aspect of stir frying is using vegetables already existing in the refrigerator or freezer. I happen to have a lot of zucchini and frozen Asian-style vegetables today, so I used those. But feel free to use what you have.

1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon sweet chili sauce
1 teaspoon hoisin sauce
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
Red pepper flakes to taste
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 cups vegetables

Whisk garlic, soy sauce, water, mustard, chili sauce, hoisin sauce, ground ginger, and red pepper flakes together in a small bowl to make the sauce. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Saute the vegetables until tender. Pour the sauce over the vegetables and stir until coated. Heat for 1 to 2 minutes to slightly evaporate the liquid. Remove from heat. Eat!


Minty Champagne Shooters

It is recipe swap time again. As you can see, it is Wednesday, not the usual day of the swap. We have divided our group in two. Half are still posting the first Sunday of the month, and the other half of us are posting on the second Wednesday of the here we are! Christianna of Burwell General Store has given us an assignment of 'Orange Snowflake Salad' as pictured below.

While it does sound like a pretty interesting experiment, I just couldn't bring myself to buy Jell-O with the bright orange food coloring and cottage cheese. Cottage cheese is on the top of my 'unconsumed food list'. There are a few food items that give me twitches even thinking about, cottage cheese and any seafood are two of them. 

So this week I strapped on the thinking cap to figure out a plan. I knew from the start there is a partially consumed bottle of champagne in the fridge and wanted to somehow incorporate it into the recipe. Jell-O shots were a natural direction to take. But how would I get around the artificially flavored and colored Jell-O? 

A little research proved very educational. I could simply buy unflavored gelatin and use fruit juice to sweeten the shots. A clear-ish juice would be ideal. So maintaining the pineapple component of the recipe, pineapple juice and pineapple chunks would appear. There needed to be a refreshing aspect as well. Mint would do.

So I gathered all the necessary suspects at the grocery and trekked home with a full backpack. And what a trip down memory lane this recipe provoked. The powdery scent of warm liquid stirred into gelatin brought back childhood memories. I was immediately transported to the kitchen table, helping my mom stir the hot water into the bright green Jell-O. Jell-O was such a fun treat as a kid. Watching the liquid turn into a gel was magical. The worse part about it was waiting for it to set. I remember wondering how I would get through the hour(s) it took to set. Barbies, Scooby Doo, bike-riding, and mini trampoline jumping were mild distractions. Somehow I got through. Speaking of which, I need to go check on the flutes...a taste test is probably in order.

Minty Champagne Shooters
Makes 4 champagne flutes

You can take creative liberties regarding the fruit juice and alcohol flavors. Mangoes and mango juice  with fresh basil would be quite nice. Or berries and mint would be refreshing. Whatever you choose will make you happy as you scoop it from the glass.

1 cup pineapple juice
1 cup cold champagne (or sparkling wine)
2 envelopes Knox Unflavored Gelatin
1 tablespoon honey
4 tablespoons pineapple chunks (canned or fresh)
10 mint leaves, finely minced

Heat pineapple juice in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until boiling. Take off heat. Pour cold champagne into a medium bowl. Stir gelatin into champagne and let sit for 1 minute. Pour hot pineapple juice over champagne mixture. Stir in honey. Continuously stir until gelatin is dissolved, 3 to 5 minutes. Sprinkle mint leaves into champagne mixture. Pour into 4 champagne flutes. Stir 1 tablespoon pineapple chunks into each flute. Refrigerate until solid, 1 to 2 hours.


Simple Black Olive Tapenade

Do you ever have that one item in your refrigerator that elicits an 'Ugh' every time you open it? You know you need to use it in some form or another, but other items have somehow pushed themselves to the front. The lowly item that you purposely scan over is pushed to be back left corner behind the two week old cranberry juice? That such item of mine was a mostly-full jar of Kalamata olives. I have been avoiding them for a good three weeks. There is no really good explanation for it either. I actually really like Kalamata olives.

Somehow they have forced a deep groan out of me ever time I see them. I even think about them on my walk to work sometimes. I think up all these great ideas of what to do with them: slice them on top of pizza, sprinkle into an omelet, or finally today, make tapenade. What a simple solution to an unnecessarily nagging problem. Puree them with parsley, capers, garlic, balsamic vinegar and you have yourself lunch for a few days. So if you too have that jar of olives longingly scooting itself closer to the front of your refrigerator, pull it out and  puree it with other said ingredients for an ridiculously easy spread.

Simple Black Olive Tapenade
Makes about 1 cup

This spread is so easy and you likely have most ingredients on hand. Simply puree. Serve with crackers, as a sandwich spread, or an omelet filling.

1 cup Kalamata (or any variety of black) olives
1 cup roughly chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons drained capers
1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Drop all ingredients into a food processor or blender and puree until smooth. You may need to occasionally scrape the sides and puree again to ensure a uniform texture.

With daylight saving today, it was a luxury to come home after a trip to Ikea, and be able to shoot pictures outside at 7pm. It makes a world of a difference to take food outside and use natural light.