Monday, January 31, 2011

Delicious Noodle Soup

I made a soup similar to this the other day, but I used corn instead of beans, and my camera battery died. Luckily, this version turned out tastier and prettier! This is the easiest soup…take a look!

The three main ingredients are rice (I used brown basmati), beans (I used small white beans), and Nasoya wonton wrappers. I made this soup just for me, so I used about 1/4 cup each of rice and beans and eight wonton wrappers.


The wonton wrappers were perfect because they only take about three minutes to cook, and they have amazing texture for noodle soup. I sliced them pretty thin, because they expand in the soup.


I added one veggie bullion cube to about three cups of water. Once it started boiling, I added the rice and fresh sage, rosemary, and thyme. I let it boil slightly until the rice was fully cooked. I also added some more water since the rice had absorbed some of it.


After fishing out the stems from the fresh herbs, I put in the beans and “noodles.” The soup only needed to simmer on low until the noodles are at their desired consistency, and the beans are heated through. The broth had already cooked for long enough, so it was rich and flavorful. Look how much bigger the noodles got! They were so delicious and chewy.


I added maybe about two tablespoons tops of half and half. This was just to lighten it and make it the slightest bit creamy. Milk would probably work just fine too.


  I loved it. Each bite had the three different textures and tastes from the rice, beans, and noodles. The broth was so flavorful and fragrant. I’m seriously loving wonton wrappers these days. They’re wonderful!


Perfect for this wicked weather…go soups! :)

Friday, January 28, 2011

Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato Ravioli

Andy came over for dinner a few days ago, and we made some pretty awesome ravioli. We took a trip back to Autumn and used butternut squash and sweet potato as the filling.

Before he got here, I peeled, chopped, and roasted the vegetables.


 I was surprised at how much a smaller squash and a sweet potato produced!


So pretty…I was really hoping for leftover roasted veggies that I could take to work.


While the veggies were roasting, I got to work on the sauce. Margarine (I know…horrible) and flour heated until it was a thin paste. I really have no idea if this is the right way to do this, but it works for me! I finally got to use my new pan from Andy, and I LOVE it! It’s so weird not having flakes of non-stick coating come off in my food :)


A splash of half and half plus about two cups of milk later…white sauce! I added the cream and milk very slowly, and I kept adding while we were making the raviolis. To the sauce I also added: salt, lots of pepper, red pepper flakes, garlic powder, and fresh sage. I kept it relatively simple, because I didn’t want it to overpower the ravioli.


The filling was pretty simple as well. I blended the veggies (which cooked down and weren’t too much at all) with salt, pepper, goat cheese, fresh sage, a touch of olive oil, and a few splashes of milk. This was fantastic! The fresh sage really made a difference, and I’m so glad I got it.


We used Nasoya wonton wrappers as the “pasta,” which was an excellent choice.

Andy demonstrates how to fill the ravioli: glob of filling on wrapper, wet the edges,


…fold in a triangle, and fold in half!

We must have made about 35 of these.


I steamed them for about eight minutes, or until the wrapper started to become translucent. They were super delicious straight out of the steamer, but they were even more amazing as they sat for a while…and don’t even get me started on the leftovers!


I didn’t plan for a side, so we just heated up some frozen broccoli quickly. It was a lot fresher tasting than I thought it would be! I lightly coated the ravioli with the sauce…enough for that added creaminess, but not so it overpowered the ravioli.

These were SO GOOD! The sweet potato really made the ravioli filling super creamy. The sage brought everything together, too. I’m in love. I was worried about overcooking the wrappers, but next time I’m not going to worry as much. My leftovers (enough for two nights at work!!), which sat for a day or so and then got reheated in the microwave were still not mushy or anything.


Try these! I think they’d be excellent with any kind of filling!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Thai Foon

 Andy and I met up for lunch at Thai Foon in Robinson (Not to be confused with Typhoon in Shadyside) last weekend. This is a new Thai restaurant in the new Settler’s Ridge shopping monstrosity. It’s very casual, quick, and relatively inexpensive. I really enjoy the atmosphere at Thai Foon. It’s nicely decorated, but like I said, casual.


For our quick lunch, I had the Lemongrass Tofu (Spicy Lemongrass sauce stir-fried with bamboo shoot, onion, mint leave, cilantro and lime). The sauce was delicious, and the tofu was cooked very nicely. I’m always so frustrated that I can never recreate restaurant tofu at home. It wasn’t spicy whatsoever, so we asked for sides of Sriracha and chiles in oil. I also had green tea to accompany my lunch.DSC00226 

Andy went with the Spicy Basil with Beef (Brown chile sauce with spicy pepper, bamboo shoot, Thai basil, cilantro and lime). I think this is at least the third time he’s ordered it, so it’s gotta be good!


I definitely recommend coming here for a laid back meal. Don’t expect anything fancy, but it’s still great food nonetheless! Also, two people can eat for around $15…nice! If you eat fast, you could easily be in and out in less than 30 minutes. It’s never taken more than five minutes to get our food! The huge windows let in lots and lots of light at lunch, (can you tell by the pictures?) but it really didn’t bother us.

Delicious, quick food at a great price…can’t complain!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Loving Hut

The Loving Hut is a vegan cuisine chain with locations throughout the US and world. The Pittsburgh (Robinson) location recently opened, and I was able to try it out this past Friday. I took my friend Kat with me, and I was happy that she was brave enough to come with me. I had heard some things about the restaurant, such as it may be related to a cult, and that video loops of the Supreme Master play while you eat. Yeah…I was a little nervous. Not about the food though…I’m all about vegan food, but the atmosphere sounded iffy.

As soon as we stepped into the restaurant, we were greeted by brightness and extreme cleanliness. This place was seriously clean! The tables and chairs are a bright sterile white, and the walls are a relaxing light brown. We were seated at a booth along the wall, which gave us a nice view of the rest of the restaurant. Near the entrance, there was a small refrigerated case that contained items for sale like juices and snacks. 


Their menu is the same as the online version, only some items are not available, and each item is changed to be $1 less than its online counterpart. I’m not sure why – possibly because this is Pittsburgh and not California? The menu offers many different types of cuisine – mostly eastern Asian, and there are so many delicious options to choose from. Noodles, tofu dishes, soups…the possibilities were seemingly endless. I really enjoyed the pictures on the menu too :)


We began our lunch by sharing an order of spring rolls. These were great! They were filled with veggies and some type of soy protein. The flavors were fantastic, and I could have just had a bunch of them for my meal!


We were also served piping hot jasmine tea. The best kind of tea for a heavy meal, in my opinion!


I chose the Bun Hue - rice noodles, soy ham, fried tofu, and mushrooms in a deliciously spicy broth, and Kat ordered the Lemongrass Tofu with brown rice. These were both delicious. The soup was way too big to finish, however. I loved how the soup had so many different elements. Each bite was completely different.


The soup was accompanied by chili paste, bean sprouts, lime, and basil, which gave the soup even more flavor and added textures.


Inspirational/earthy messages grace the walls at the Loving Hut, but nothing about their message was too intrusive or interruptive of our meal. There was one TV that played what seemed to be the company’s own station. Different people were reporting on environmental disasters and giving tips on how to make your life more beneficial/less harmful to the earth. It was interesting, but to be honest I wasn’t paying much attention to it.


All in all, my experience was at the Loving Hut was nothing less than positive. I’ll definitely be back, and I can’t wait to try more of the menu items!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Rum Slushy

 I have a busy day ahead of me that includes leaving for WV, so here is a quick recipe for a rum slushy to start your weekend off the right way!

My sister and I made these this past weekend, and they ended up being quite delicious!

I had some frozen raspberries in my freezer and a giant bottle of rum from New Year’s, so we got to work on creating our own drink. First we tried just raspberries and rum. That……didn’t work out so well. It was basically raspberry sorbet with wayyyyy to much rum. And yes, there is such a thing as too much rum. It just wasn’t enjoyable and we couldn’t taste the raspberry at all.


We then added frozen mango, ice, and lots of grapefruit juice, and…success!! They were great! The grapefruit really stood out, which was nice. The mango got kind of lost, but I think it gave the drink a smoother texture. At first, these were eat-with-a-spoon drinks, but after a few minutes they became thinner and more drinkable.


You could definitely try these with any type of alcohol and any type of juice. I think pineapple juice would have been great as well! Pineapple juice, raspberries, and tequila? I think YES!!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Homemade Pop Tarts


On Sunday morning, my sister made us homemade Pop Tarts using a recipe she found on Panini Happy. With just two ingredients, this delicious recipe couldn’t be easier!

The first ingredient: anything! We decided on blueberry preserves, which was an awesome choice. Other possibilities are Nutella, any other kind of jam, butter with cinnamon and sugar, or any combination of jam with a nut butter! Trader Joe’s blueberry preserves was (were?) great. It was filled with whole blueberries and wasn’t overly sweet.


  The second ingredient: puff pastry. Any kind! This box, which had two sheets of pastry, made enough for four people to have one “Pop Tart” – which was plenty!


Emily sliced the two sheets into four squares, so that there were eight squares total.


Four of the squares got a healthy spread of the preserves, with about a centimeter of room on each side.


They each were topped with another square. They’re starting to look like Pop Tarts already! I didn’t have any eggs for an egg wash, so she just sealed them with a little bit of water – which worked just fine.


She then crimped the edges with a fork…so pretty!


Then onto the panini press for about 5 minutes…or until they look done. We set the press at the “panini” temperature since there isn’t specific degrees on it.


Beautiful! They came out piping hot, flaky, delicious, and perfect for a breakfast that is somewhere in between light and hearty :)

We accompanied our breakfast with tall glasses of milk – straight back to childhood!


I topped mine with some more preserves. There was definitely some blueberry seepage around the edges, but it definitely wasn’t a bad thing. The oozed blueberry got crispy, which was wonderful.


You really can’t go wrong with this recipe! Even if you don’t have a panini press, I’m sure these would work well in the oven.


Monday, January 17, 2011

Dim Sum at the Golden Palace

Who knew that a fun-filled weekend could be so relaxing?
My mom and sister visited me this weekend, and even though we fit a lot of things in, it still seemed pretty laid back! We saw the Andy Warhol museum, walked around the city for a bit, hit up Trader Joe’s, drank lots of wine, napped a lot, and ate a lot. 
 I’d say the highlight of our food adventures was definitely Saturday Dim Sum at the Golden Palace in Robinson. The Golden Palace is located on Route 60/Steubenville Pike in between Robinson and Crafton. It is well worth any drive to get here. The exterior is admittedly not beautiful, but with no English on the sign, it’s got to be good!
 The inside is spacious and comfortable. It wasn’t too busy when we got there, but it soon started to pick up. Two women served the hungry guests with the carts, and they quickly came to our table.
Delicious!! Clockwise starting from the top: shrimp and vegetable dumpling, steamed pork bean curd rolls, custard buns, pork and vegetable dumplings, BBQ pork buns, and shrimp dumplings. Everything was so fresh and delicious. I didn’t try the pork stuff, but my Dim Sum companions said they were great. The shrimp dumplings were amazing…chewy outside and wonderful steaming hot savory inside. 
 Our endless pot of Jasmine tea was perfect for all of the food we were eating! It was flowery and freshly steeped. You can also see the wonderful hot “sauce” which was red peppers minced in oil. It was great when mixed with the dim sum sauce.
 These turnip cakes were definitely my favorite. Savory, not sweet, with a crispy outside and pillowy soft inside. They were almost like fried cornmeal mush, only with that awesome root vegetable flavor. I could easily eat just these as a meal…maybe with some steamed greens. They were just too good!
 She came around again for the third time with more tempting treats that we just couldn’t say no to. Bean curd sheet rolls with shrimp, egg custard tarts, and sesame balls. The shrimp rolls were very fresh and steaming hot, and the bean curd wrapper was almost like filo dough. The tarts are just fantastic and definitely one of my favorite Chinese deserts, and the sesame balls were amazing too. They were very hot, which made them sooo gooey, doughy, and delicious. I could easily eat one every day without every getting sick of them!
I highly recommend the Golden Palace if you want to try something different from the typical Chinese restaurant. I honestly have nothing negative to say about our experience there. Definitely try out their Dim Sum…especially on Saturdays when they have the carts!!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Simple and Hearty

 After being out of produce for way too long, I took a much needed 3 minute trip to the fruit market with roasted veggies in mind. I love the little one room market down the road, because I can get two bags full of fruits and veggies for less than $10. It’s great! It’s also nice supporting a family business as opposed to the Giant Eagle…and I can get a break from GE’s ridiculous prices too. This time of year, most of the produce isn’t local, but I guess you’ll get that anywhere.

When I got home, I chose the simple sweet potato to roast for dinner.


I chopped up the potato, which created a surprising amount of little potato pieces.


The potato pieces got a light coating of olive oil, salt, pepper, chipotle powder, garlic powder, freshly ground nutmeg, and agave nectar.


Into the oven at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes…


A cup of chai tea in my favorite mug to drink with dinner :)


The sweet potato was slightly spicy, slightly sweet, and slightly salty. It was served with leftover quinoa mixed with goat cheese and wilted baby spinach.


A simple and hearty success!