Tag Archives: salsa

Travel, Catering, and Trying to Slow Down

3 Nov

I must apologize for my delay in writing, especially since I’ve recently gotten some new subscribers (yay!).  There has been a lot going on – many things that have left me feeling blessed and thankful, and many meals that I’ve wanted to share that have left me feeling, well, mmm.

Right now, Sig is lying at the foot of my bed (something he is not generally allowed to do, but since Rob is on duty, he’s keeping me company) and we’re both listening to the Oregon rain tap against the house.  It’s steady but not strong; just enough to know it’s wet outside.  Fall flew by faster than the leaves could change, and this is literally the initiation into our “rainy season” (known as “winter” in other parts of the country).

A few pounds heavier, and a bit out of my normal chi, I have spent the last few months doing my best to balance work, working out, cooking, and more work.  My job this year has given me opportunities to meet some amazing, brilliant, and inspirational people in the educational field (hi Mickey and Penny!), as well as continually fill me with new experiences and learning opportunities each day.  Even though I am in a coaching position, there have been days I where have felt like a student again, leaving me, conversely enough, with simultaneous humility and strength.  There’s been a lot of travel, and a lot of tired nights, but many rewarding experiences.

In taking a break from the work excitement, Rob and I had the opportunity to go visit our CSA farm, Wintergreen Farms in Noti, Oregon.  They were having a harvest potluck party and we drove out to get a hayride tour of the farm and rub elbows with the real pros (they’d probably laugh at my barely-living rosemary starter right now… better yet, if I were really lucky, they’d give me some compost to help grow the little bugger).  It was an amazing experience and completely took the farm-to-table mentality away from just a movement and brought it full-circle.  Woohoo for talented farmers!

Then, onto the catering gig.  Last weekend, I had the honor and privilege of catering a friend’s wedding.  There were just over 20 people and heavy hors’deouvres with finger foods were the main course.  The night was magnificent.  The menu consisted of everything from lavash and homemade cucumber ricotta, marinated olives, sun dried tomato palmiers, to turkey and goat cheese meatballs in a mustard and berry sauce.  Of course my 5-spice popcorn and sweet and salty nuts played a part (can’t have a party without those – no matter how fancy!), and a huge platter of seasonal roasted veg with 3 dipping sauces rounded out the table.  It was a lot of fun preparation and an even bigger payoff to see the bride, in her “wedding slacks” smiling ear to ear throughout the night.  Cathy and Dennis – I wish you all the happiness in the world!

Now, I have to admit, Rob and I have started to really become Oregon foodies.  If you had asked me two years ago if I could picture myself eating elk roast and day-fresh wild duck breasts, I probably would have laughed, scoffed, and then exclaimed, “I wish!” (probably while throwing my hands in the air, as I can be overly-emphatic like that sometimes.  What – you’re not surprised?). Well, over the last couple of weeks, we’ve been blessed enough to have wonderful hunting friends supplying us with those latter game meats, and it has been my joy preparing them.  I’ve learned a lot about game meat living here, and I believe the best preparation is to keep it simple with few ingredients, thus really bringing out the flavor of the lean proteins (wild duck has very little fat – just learned this when I wrongfully scolded the hunter for cutting off the cherished fat cap off the duck breast.  I also learned you should never scold a hunter).  I prepared the elk roast medium with a sear and a quick red wine-braise in a screaming hot oven.  The duck was seared to medium rare in cast iron with oil, butter, citrus, and a tossing of woody herbs.  Paired with my Nana’s Apple and Bacon Braised Cabbage (this is one recipe I will never give out!), the meal was beyond a hit.

With another travel day ahead, tonight was an easy dinner: Raw Tomatillo and Pink Pearl Tomato Salsa with Chicken Mango Sausage.  Trader Joes has a fantastic go-to chicken sausage selection, with many varieties from which to choose.  And the salsa, with the help of the food processor, literally took about 3 minutes.  The light, easy, and super flavorful meal was on the table in abra-cadabra-speediness (then was perfectly followed by leftover Halloween candy.  The bowl has to be emptied somehow. Any other suggestions?).

Life should **hopefully** be slowing down just a bit, leaving me with some time with my man, my dog, and to catch up on October’s Food and Wine, maybe start November’s Thanksgiving issue, and find out the details behind the big Kardashian divorce news (only the most important things for my free time).  Oh and the bathroom needs cleaning.  Sig needs a bath.  And there are about 5 leeks and a giant fennel bulb with my name on it in the fridge.  Maybe slowing down will have to wait!

Enjoy the salsa!

Raw Tomatillo and Pink Pearl Tomato Salsa (makes about 4 cups) 
Note: pink pearl tomatoes are a smaller, grape-sized tomatoes that are sweet and mild, and pink!  If you can’t find them, substituting cherry or grape tomatoes would work fine. 

  • 3 c Pink Pearl tomatoes
  • 3 c hulled heirloom tomatillos (heirlooms are smaller than conventional tomatillos, and have much more flavor)
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • juice of 1 lime
  • juice of 1 clementine or mandarin orange
  • 1 1/2 tsp raw agave 
  • 1/2 tsp of Tabasco sauce (more or less depending on your taste) 
  • s&p 

Mix all ingredients in the food processor.  Pulse until pureed.  Taste for seasoning.  

Eat with sausage, on fish tacos, or just with plain old tortilla chips.  And don’t forget the beer. 


A Pantry Dinner

5 May

Despite the many eye rolls from a number of the men I know (including my husband), I was one of the thousands of fans who woke up in the wee hours of the West Coast morning to watch Prince William wed Kate Middleton.  While the workday last Friday was filled with much caffeine and stifled yawns, I wouldn’t have changed a thing about spending my sleeping hours awake and wide-eyed.

As I’ve mentioned before, this Royal Wedding holds a place in my heart, not because I have any ties to royalty, or because I am one of the millions of screaming 20-something women grabbing their hearts and wishing it was them becoming a princess.  It’s because at point I truly thought I was going to marry Prince William (there is an interesting story behind that thought).

At 5:00 in the morning, right before the much anticipated Royal kiss, I made and ate my Royal Rosemary and Maple Bacon Buttie, and marveled at how such a good thing just happened in the world.  With so much bad news these days, it was a breath of fresh air to simply watch traditional British Royalty in action, combined with genuine, true love.

Little did anyone know, but only a few days later another day would go down in history for the U.S. as a long awaited great accomplishment – the death of Osama Bin Laden.  Rob and I were finishing up his grilled Ribeye with Herb Butter birthday dinner when we heard the news Sunday night.  Glued to the TV, our dirty dishes went un-clean as we watched our President officially deliver the news that would change history books forever.  While our world is still nowhere near safe, at least one bad guy is burning in you-know-where. 

On the brink of all the world’s recent good news, another great merriment came when we officially celebrated Rob’s 27th birthday on Monday.  We had his favorites: pigs in a blanket, Kelly’s guacamole with chips, pistachios, and Argyle Brut.  Low key, flirty, and fun, we had a great time together with our low budget appetizers and fancy Brut.  By 6:00pm, we were cuddled up on the couch, already in our pjs, with a Waterford crystal champagne flute in one hand, and a pig in a blanket in the other; I’m sure we were quite the sight to see. 

After a crazy start to the week, and as Tuesday rolled around, the hype of the Royal Wedding still hanging in the air, and Bin Laden’s death story continuing to evolve, we realized that a check back to reality was in order.  Our little house needed a cleaning, bills needed to be paid, and laundry desperately needed washing.  As much as I wanted to continue living in the fantasy land of weddings and birthdays, I knew the house couldn’t go unclean forever. 

So Tuesday night, Rob and I partnered up and divided tasks, and we cleaned house.  At one point while cleaning hair out of a drain, I found myself wondering about the new Duchess Catherine – despite royalty, she is still a wife.  Officer’s wife at that.  Do she and William make house?  Does she cook dinner for, or with, her man? 

Well, just the thought of dinner reminded me that while Catherine probably has people who can fancy up a dinner for her if she or William don’t feel like cooking, I, in my commoner ways, do not.  On top of which, with not much in the fridge to work with, I had to become creative.  After cleaning a toilet (that a boy also uses), it’s hard to be creative.

To the pantry: rice and beans.  While slightly boring, they are still healthy.  There’s salsa.  Mexican?  No, Cinco de Mayo is coming up.  Thai curry sauce.  Not enough veg in the fridge for a full curry.  Fashion up a secret sauce?  YES. 

One of our favorite sauces has to be Eugene’s Café Yum sauce.  It’s unique and creamy and tangy.  They do sell bottles of the sauce now, thus giving away its recipe.  Café Yum is such a, well, yummy place to eat with really easy and satisfying food, and they put their sauce on almost everything.  But due to lack of time, energy, and resources (and the fact that Eugene is two hours away), I decided to create my own. 

With the scent of Pine Sol still in the air, I whipped up our own little “Yum Bowl” inspired by Café Yum.  It was delicious!  Maybe even better than the actual Café Yum!  And healthy!  And so easy to make (I keep pantry staples, like salsa, beans, and microwave rice, around for times like these).  So easy in fact, maybe I’ll contact the Duchess of Cambridge just to give her a good, quick, easy, pantry home recipe.  It could be a wedding present!  Or, maybe not.  🙂   

 Rob and Jill’s Yum Bowl (makes 2 bowls)

  • 1can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 package frozen, microwavable brown rice (or make your own, about 2 cooked cups)
  • 1 small head broccoli, cut up into florets
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 2 c baby arugula
  • 1 scallion, white and light green parts thinly chopped
  • ¼ c your favorite jarred authentic salsa, preferably not chunky.
  • 2 tbsp good mayo
  • ¼ tsp cumin
  • s&p
  • a wedge of lime, for serving

 Boil a small pot of water; salt when boiling.  Toss in the broccoli florets, and blanch for about 1 minute.  Remove from water, and put into a salted ice bath to stop the cooking. 

To make the secret sauce, mix the salsa, mayo, and cumin together in a bowl.  Taste for seasoning (may need pepper, but probably not any salt because the salt content of many jarred salsa can be pretty high).

Cook the rice per microwave instructions, and split into two bowls, positioning in one-third of the bowl.  Add the beans to the middle of the bowl, and then add the arugula to the third side of the bowl.  Top with broccoli, red peppers, and sprinkle with a bit of s&p.  Top with desired amount of secret sauce and the scallions. 

Serve with a squirt and a wedge of lime.


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