I was lucky enough to get to go to Portland, Oregon for the ACRL conference this spring, a city I’d long wanted to visit. I didn’t wind up extending my trip but a whole lot, but I did have about two full days that were free of work obligations. And Portland is such a compact city that it wound up being really easy to pack in a lot of sightseeing. I would gladly go back again, though I think I would want to make sure I spent some time in Mt. Hood National Forest and the Columbia Gorge.
Moroccan Chickpea Soup from Cook’s Illustrated’s The Best 30-Minute Recipe – This was pretty tasty, but the chickpeas soaked up almost all the broth, so it wasn’t a great option for lunches. Since I didn’t care if it took me exactly 30 minutes to make this, I streamlined it and cooked everything in one pot – I just skipped the part where you warm the broth and other ingredients, and just added them to the same pot with the ingredients that were sautéed.
Quick Chicken and (Baby) Broccoli with Spicy Peanut Sauce from Sheet Pan Suppers – Delicious and very easy to put together! You cook everything on a half sheet pan, and as this one was broiled it was super fast to get on the table once it started cooking – we actually had to wait for the rice to finish because I had misjudged that. Whoops!
Sesame Snap Peas & Baked Tofu with Spicy Peanut Sauce from Sheet Pan Suppers – This was very easy and pretty tasty, but the tofu was still pretty boring – it’s just coated in the sauce before being cooked, and since it’s already sauced it doesn’t crisp up at all. I might try this again by baking the tofu until golden first – at least then it has some chew to it – and then proceeding with the recipe. Another option might be to press and slice the tofu and then set it in the sauce for several hours to marinade.
Ultimate Veggie Burger – I made these and served them with a salad for lunches – pretty tasty! I halved the recipe and wound up with six smallish patties. In the future I think I will make the full batch, as I found that two patties was not quite enough lunch for me (I don’t usually bring any side dishes for my lunch, though).
March wasn’t a good month for reading – I only finished one book, which I read on a cross-country flight. So, I decided to lump that in with April’s reads.
- The Devil’s Star, Jo Nesbo
- Ms. Marvel Vol. One: No Normal, G. Willow Wilson
- The Beautiful and the Damned, F. Scott Fitzgerald
- Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
- Exploring Calvin and Hobbes: An Exhibition Catalog, Bill Watterson
Our Sundae Dates Fudge Sauce and Rum Away With Me Boozy Caramel Sauce – We warmed these up and served them over some vanilla ice cream. Quite tasty! The caramel sauce is particularly tasty – the rum helps cut the sweetness in an interesting way. The fudge sauce was tasty, but had some large sugar granules in it. The texture was fine otherwise, so I guess this batch maybe just wasn’t quite finished.
Just Jan’s Tangerine Marmalade – A bright taste, but not too sweet. Nice on an English muffin.
Sweet Fire Jelly Jalapeno Pepper Jelly – This was from a box that I guess I never posted about after it arrived. I made these Vietnamese Red Snapper Bowls, except with tilapia. They were a recommended recipe for another pepper jelly, and they are still delicious!
Whole Spice Paella Spice Mix – I’ve been holding onto this sample for a while, intending to make a suggested asparagus quiche. But I pulled it out the other night when we were making a chicken & veggies dinner, and it’s pretty tasty on chicken – not as good as some of the spice rubs that we’ve amassed, though that’s not surprising as that isn’t really what this is for.
Key Lime Curd – I wound up enjoying this on crackers with goat cheese. Quite delightful! It had a lovely smooth texture and bright flavor.
Arette Tea Seed Oil and Hummingbird Fine Foods Champagne Vinaigrette – I had bookmarked this recipe for Crispy Chicken Paillards with Arugula-Citrus Salad, and used that as my guide for dinner one night. Using some thin cut chicken breasts, I prepared them as directed in this recipe – they cooked so fast, and were very still juicy. I don’t think I noticed any difference using the tea seed oil, though it is supposed to have a higher smoke point than olive oil, which is what I typically reach for. I would make chicken this way again – the preparation would be even better with some marinated chicken, or some additional seasonings in the breading. To go with it, I put together a very simple salad with some things we had in the fridge – sections from a cara cara orange, mixed greens, red onion, red bell pepper, sprouts, and I think we had some tomatoes as well. I served it all along with the Champagne vinnaigrette, which was so delicious. I typically prefer to make my own salad dressing, or just use oil and vinegar, but this was wonderful and I something I would consider buying in a full size.
Dave’s Homemade Sweet & Sassy Smokehouse Rub – We used this to make this Southwestern flavored quinoa bowl, which was really good. This is one of those things that easy to prep a few days in advance and comes together really fast – we’ll be enjoying this again!
McClary Bros. Michigan Apple Pie Drinking Vinegar – A shrub! We’ll use this in a cocktail or turn it into soda.
East Shore Specialty Foods Sweet & Tangy Mustard – I really need to find a source for delicious soft pretzels.
Just Jan’s Tangerine Marmalade – This should be great with breakfast one day soon.
Gourmegg Gracefully Greek Egg Seasoning – We just finished up the last sample from these folks, their Classy Classic Egg Seasoning, which we both really like and plan to order. Looking forward to trying this!
Chili-Lime Rubbed Tofu and Pasta de Los Angeles from Appetite for Reduction – This combination (suggested in the book) did not do a thing for me. The pasta portion is one of those dishes where the leftovers somehow lose the flavor, which means it’s not a good lunch option. (Unfortunately, that’s why I had made it.) The tofu held up well, but was not enough to carry the dish. I’m also still not sold on the combination of tofu and pasta, but I’ll probably try again at some point with a different recipe.
Spaghetti Carbonara from Cook’s Illustrated (March/April 2013) – This was my first attempt at spaghetti carbonara, and it was quite tasty! The Cook’s Illustrated recipe was very easy to follow, though it is one of those that creates a huge amount of dishes – at least with Cook’s you know the reason for each dish! Because you need to be able to move quickly once you get past the first step, I set out everything I needed before starting, which worked very well and I highly recommend doing. I also cut the recipe in half, which was pretty easy to do, and was still quite a lot of pasta for two. My only issue is that this wasn’t quite salty enough. I’m not sure if that’s because I added the salt to the pasta pot quite late in the boil, or if it’s because I used whole wheat pasta instead of regular. (Or because this isn’t really supposed to be particularly salty?) In any case, I would certainly make this again! It was a very easy meal that felt a little special.
Mango Yogurt Smoothie – This is a very simple smoothie to throw together, especially if you’ve already chopped up the mango. The recipe notes that this makes 1-2 servings; I found it was a big single serving, but it kept me full well past the point in the morning where I usually start to get hungry. The bits of ice were a little weird, and I wondered how this would work using frozen fruit and omitting the ice. I can definitely see this becoming a summertime breakfast option.