Complicated Burger

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Every time I have made an attempt to grill Omaha Steaks burgers, something has gone wrong. Twice before, we have run out of propane. This time we had a new tank, and I felt confident. But something went wrong again, and we suspect a leak somewhere, because out of nowhere, the BBQ would not heat up.

But, we made do, in a pan. And, they were delicious. Mostly because of the caramelized onions, roasted pasilla peppers, and manchego cheese.

I guess when you get free burgers with your Omaha Steaks order, they come with a curse.

Simple Times: Pan Roasted Potatoes with Vegetables

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There's nothing more satisfying for me than a potato dish. This works particularly well if I haven't planned to make dinner or breakfast, and I use whatever vegetables I find in the fridge. This time, I had bell peppers and green beans. The potatoes take a while to cook, but I get started on these right away, and then take my time with the vegetables, other kitchen duties, and of course fix myself a drink. Sometimes it's just nice to take the time, no matter how exhausting the day was, and keep busy in the kitchen. Looking at the picture above does make me wish I had added some bacon to the dish. Because bacon always makes life better. Next time.


Being on the Market = Lots of Green

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By green, of course I am referring to plants, and flowers. So we are officially on the market. The beautiful condo we transformed five years ago is now even more beautiful, because nothing is out of place, and the husband is not allowed to make himself at home until we sell. You might think, that's harsh. But the various friends who have experienced the tornado effect the husband has on any given room he walks in to will side with me on this one. It's immediate, and although the damage is not permanent, it is destructive and most of all annoying.

No one should undress in the doorway and throw ties and belts onto the dining room table. Especially my nice mid-century dining table, that took a year and a half to find. Towels should not hang on random door knobs, and shoes do not belong under the kitchen nook. These are all things I had given up on. That is, until we were on the market. Now, it's not me who is demanding the clean house, it's prospective buyers. And, so far it's working. We've only been listed a week, and the poor husband is thinking of renting a motel room. But me? I feel right at home in this perfectly in place house. If I would have known this is what selling means, I would have done it earlier.

Another thing that's great is I get to have flowers, and plants, everywhere. I normally would have several plants and a vase of flowers around anyway, but the open houses, and random drop-ins, provide a reason for more. Because who doesn't like flowers in the house?
Also for my birthday, my co-workers got me two beautiful, enormous orchid plants. And now walking into our place is like walking through the arboretum. So if you're looking to buy a nice looking condo/arboretum, we've got both!


Pizza and Chelada

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Turning leftovers into pizza is easy. Almost anything will work. Last Friday, I made myself a pita pizza with tomatillo sauce, topped with mozzarella, salami, olives and arugula. It was a nice snack. I always keep pita in the freezer for a quick, impromptu pizza. I also enjoy the roasted red bell peppers and feta combination.
And of course as with any mid-day snack you need a refreshing drink. Good thing I had all the necessary ingredients for a chelada. Basically a bloody mary with beer, there are many variations to this recipe. I keep mine simple - clamato, a light beer, tabasco, salt, pepper and lime juice. And I like to convince myself it's healthy, because of the tomato factor. It looks healthy, right?


Lox Bagel Sandwiches

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What do you do with leftover smoked salmon? Make a bagel sandwich of course. We love these sandwiches. Minimal dishwashing involved, but lots of deliciousness. I like mine simple. Cream cheese, red onion, a few capers, and the salmon of course. The husband adds tomatoes to his.

We had our bagels with pickled turnips and beer. Dinner doesn't get any faster than this.

Birthday Potluck Bash

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I have to start off with a disclaimer. Although this was a potluck, I don't really have any pictures of food brought over by others (except the brownies in the last photo). You see, I kind of got hungry when people started arriving, then I began eating and drinking, and well, didn't take photos. But just imagine a whole lot of other delicious stuff not pictured here - beet and yogurt salad, spinach salad with strawberries and goat cheese, quinoa with vegetables, and I'm sure other things I'm forgetting.

I did very little cooking that day. I bought some salami and olives, assembled a smoked salmon pizza (recipe below) and made a pasta salad. The salad had kalamata olives, mozzarella, artichokes and basil. And I dressed it with a balsamic vinaigrette. It was pretty tasty. But the pizza was also a big hit.
Oh, right, I also grilled a bunch of vegetables.
But the highlight of the day? My presents. And one of them happened to be a magical candle.  It was pretty amazing. It had fireworks, music and motion. Everyone was impressed, and scared for a few seconds as the husband lit the thing. But once we saw no one was going to get hurt, we all thoroughly enjoyed the show. I guess you never get too old for magical candles.

Smoked Salmon Pizza
Adapted from Jacques Pepin

Lavash Bread
Smoked Salmon
Red Onion
Sour Cream

Toast the lavash in the oven for about 5 minutes. Let the bread cool. Spread sour cream on bread and top with the remaining ingredients. How much of what really depends on you, and your taste. Just make sure you have plenty of salmon, because really, that's the star ingredient.


Breakfast, Short-Sweet Style

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When I eat breakfast, I tend to do it alone. Because I kind of don't get up early enough to eat with the husband, who's up at 7 am on weekends, which I can not comprehend. And when I do get up at a decent weekend hour, about 10, he makes me feel all guilty for sleeping in, and wants to get outside and "do stuff". So in order to avoid the big, scary outside, I tend to go straight to cleaning, or prepping for dinner and guests. And I therefore I forget to eat until 1 or 2 pm comes around.

But. When the husband is out, "doing things outside" before I'm up, everything changes. I wake up relaxed, without his judging eyes starring me down when I emerge from the bedroom. I put some water to boil, and pick out any type of tea I want, forgoing his fancy loose leafs, that he drinks exclusively, and instead selecting something completely unauthentic, like raspberry zinger. I then sit down to read a magazine and think over what I want for breakfast. I either like to take a long time, and make a decent, savory meal, or the complete opposite, short and sweet.

This past weekend, it was all about short and sweet. I found a local market that carries frozen paratha, and Indian flat-bread. Five-piece package, 99 cents. You can't beat that. And it's very good. Not good for you, but so deliciously greasy, that it clouds your head and makes it impossible to count calories.

I warmed the wheat paratha on the stove top, it take like 2 minutes, and paired it with apricot jam. Oh, it was good. Then, I took my time eating, reading cookbooks, and not being outside.


The Germans Are Coming! And they've brought Indian bread.

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Last Sunday was dedicated to Germany. I made a potato leek soup (Julia Child's recipe, which I've covered already). And we also cooked up our homemade bratwurts.
This soup is so simple to make, and this time I altered the recipe a little by adding a couple of garlic cloves and using chicken stock instead of water. It was hearty and filling, perfect for the cooler turn in the weather.

Along with our soup and brats we had naan, which I happened to buy frozen from Trader Joe's that day, forgetting to pick up regular bread. The naan went really well with the soup. That was my first time buying frozen naan, and I was seriously surprised at how good it was. Way to go Trader Joe's, your frozen Indian fare is okay with me.
We had my father-in-law and the husband's uncle over, and even though my father-in-law is in no way computer proficient and has never visited my blog on his own, ever since he's found out about it, he's been trying to get into it -- posing with food, telling me a meal is blog-worthy, and just generally bugging me. I refused to take any pictures of him, but hopefully this mention will be enough for him to leave me alone.

Carne Asada Tacos, Grilled Vegetables and Beans

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Nothing makes for a quicker meal than buying carne asada from your local Mexican market, and throwing it on the grill. Last week we did just that. We also grilled squash, and pasilla peppers. They've become a new favorite for us. They are typically not very hot, but they have great flavor when grilled.
Along with the meat, we also grilled a couple of green onions. I heated up some beans the husband made earlier in the week, added a few spices and queso fresco, and along with homemade cheladas, we had a quick and tasty meals on our plates within 20 minutes. Take that Rachel Ray, sometimes our meals don't even take 30 minutes to make.


Saturday Balcony Adventures

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This past Saturday, the weather was beautiful. Sunny, breezy, bright. After having to work in the morning, I got home, starving, and decided to spend the day on the balcony, eating.
I poured myself some wine, warmed up pita, got out feta and olives, and parked myself under the shady umbrella. It was great. While I was boozing it up, and enjoying the birds singing, the husband and our friend were busy inside making me early birthday apple dumplings.
I didn't realize than an apple dumpling was an whole apple, wrapped in dough, sugared, and baked. They looked like monsters. But they were tasty. My favorite part was the dough. The buttery dough. I could have eated it without the apple.

After my dumpling, I had more wine, and was unable to move for a good hour. Then it started getting dark, and I headed indoors to continue napping there. It was a great Saturday.


Seafood Birthday

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My father is hard to please. That's the nicest way of putting it. For his birthday this year, I decided to spend the day with him. The plan was to take him to sushi. Then we would go out and buy dinner, bring it home and cook it. Have the family come over. Simple, quiet. The way he likes things.

I picked him up before lunch, and we a nice sushi meal near our place. His comment? I think I can make better sushi at home.

We then headed to King Fish in Glendale to see about dinner. The husband and I really like this place, and although it can be pricey, the fish has always been fresh. As soon as my dad walked in, he turns and says, "This is it? This is the place you've been talking about?" At that point I gave up.

We selected our dinner: large shrimp for grilling, two types of clams for a pasta, and my dad picked a couple of Scottish salmon steaks.
Once home, I marinated the shrimp with olive oil, garlic, pepper flakes, sea salt and pepper. I soaked the clams in cold, salt water so they'd start cleaning themselves.

My dad got to trimming the fat from the salmon steaks for a quick ceviche - onion, parsley, salt, pepper, and lemon juice. Just in time, the husband got home, and we had the ceviche as an appetizer. When the husband asked my dad about lunch, he quickly stated, it wasn't as good as his ceviche. Oh, the modesty.

When the husband asked him whether he had seen my blog, my dad said yes, he paused and added with his thick accent, "It is okay. Not professional."  I turned to my dad and said, "Of course it's not professional! I'm not a professional!" His response? A look. It simply said, "And whose fault was that?"

The husband turned to me, and gave me a look of his own, then said, "That's why you're so nuts." It's true. I could come to rule the world, and my father's response would be, "Anyone can rule this world."
Dinner was great. Along with the seafood, I sauteed asparagus in butter and olive oil. I'm not sure if my dad liked it, I didn't want to risk asking, but the husband and I enjoyed it, along with almost two bottles of wine between the two of us. We can't wait for next year. I think we'll need to start drinking earlier.