hmp: small plates (part two)

Here it is, part two of our small plates dinner.  I have to say, Todd and I are feeling quite proud of the outcome.  The food was delicious and we were also feeling good about making everything ourselves.  There’s something really satisfying about putting together a meal from scratch.

Now, without further ado, I present to you our menu:

Green Bean Bacon Bundles

Black Bean Hummus with Homemade Pita Chips

BBQ Pulled Pork Empanadas with Salsa Verde

Mini White Bean Quinoa Burgers

Apricot Bites

Baked Churros with Dulce de Leche

*Since we followed most of the recipes exactly, I’m only posting the original recipes here.  All others are linked so you can try them too!

First up, Green Bean Bacon Bundles.  I was planning to make something with asparagus but when I saw these on How Sweet It Is, I knew I had to make them.  Green beans are the one vegetable that I absolutely love and with bacon, butter and brown sugar?  Winning combination.

Todd put those together, they look good, don’t they?

He also made one of his specialties, Black Bean Hummus with Homemade Pita Chips.  I once came home from work and Todd had made this exact same dish as an appetizer.  Ten minuets later, the hummus was almost gone and the pita chips suffered a similar fate.  The hummus has a little kick to it and the pita chips are so good freshly crisped in the oven.

We love pulled pork but wanted to put a different twise on it so Todd made our tried and true BBQ Pulled Pork recipe and then I got to work turning it into empanadas. 

Since we had a lot going on in the kitchen (as you can see) I opted to use refrigerated pie crusts dough instead of making my own.  Empanadas are so easy and delicious, you just take the dough and stuff them with whatever you one.  Some of my favorites are stuffed with sweet corn, que ricas!

The empanadas were baked at 375° for about 20-25 minutes then topped with homemade Salsa Verde.  I love pulled pork – I had quite a bit while I was stuffing the empanadas and these came out quite delicious.  I always love things wrapped in bread and empanadas are a real favorite.

Now the Mini White Bean Quinoa Burgers are my own recipe inspired by an incredibly delicious  burger I had last week at The Green Well.

Mini White Quinoa Burgers

1 can (16 oz.) Great Northern Beans

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup quinoa, uncooked

1/3 cup plain bread crumbs

5 tablespoons liquid egg whites

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon ground chipotle

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

Olive oil

In a small pan, bring 1/2 cup water to boil, add quinoa.  Cook for 12 minutes or until water is absorbed. Fluff, let stand for 15 minutes.  Open beans, then drain and rinse in a strainer. Place beans in a large bowl and mash.  When beans are well mashed, leaving only a few whole beans, add quinoa, bread crumbs, liquid egg whites and spices.  When the mixture is well combined, form small (approx. 2″) patties.

Heat olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat.  When hot, add patties and cook, covered, about 5 minutes or until the bottoms are brown.  Flip patties and repeat until both sides are brown and the patties are cooked through.

Serve patties on “buns” – we used a drinking glass to make mini buns out of regular whole wheat bread, toasted.  Top as you please.  We chose homemade BBQ sauce and sharp white cheddar.

Of course we also had the Apricot Bites and Churros that I told you about in part one of the small plates post.

Yup, the apricot bites were tangy and delicious and the churros were just as good tonight as they were in the test batch.

I hope you enjoyed reading about our small plates dinner as much as we did preparing and eating it!

What do you love to serve for guests?

hmp: small plates (part one)

When I woke up from my second nap yesterday Todd and I got to work prepping some dishes for tonight’s dinner with my parents and brother.  Since we’ll have just less than an hour and a half after work before they come over we thought it would be a good idea to do what we could ahead of time.

As we were planning the menu for tonight’s meal we tossed around a few different ideas: barbecue, all appetizers, tapas.  Finally we settled on a fusion of all three, a small plates dinner.

Small plates are one of my favorite things because I hate making decisions.  I’m always torn when ordering at restaurants then I make my selection at the last second, as the waitress’ patience is wearing thin.  I’m excited to offer my family a variety of options this evening.

First on the menu are Apricot Bites based on a recipe from Sandy at The Reluctant Entertainer.  If you don’t read her blog, check it out.  She’s doing a series on summer entertaining right now that’s really interesting and informative.  Check it out!

 

I slightly altered the recipe, using honey goat cheese instead of goat cheese and honey.  Also, I left out the milk but that was mainly because I somehow missed the step.  My cheese spread fine with a little coaxing but I’d recommend trying them with milk for easier spreadability.

I refused to tell my family exactly what we’re having so I’ll save the photos of the finished product for later.

I also prepped the dough for dessert.  For some reason I had it in my head that dessert was going to be churros.  Churros were the only thing that would do.

If you’ve never had churros, you should try them.  For me, they bring back memories of a family vacation to Disneyworld, where they serve them in the Mexico section of Epcot Center, and of Barcelona where they’re served with the most delicious, rich, thick hot chocolate – it is the most perfect dish for a chocoholic like me.

Anyways, I decided to make churros, which are usually fried.  I was able to find a recipe for baked churros on Cooking With My Kids.  Sorry vegans, this recipe is full of eggs – do they make some kind of egg subsititute so you can enjoy the deliciousness that’s churros too?

The churro batter whipped up nice and thick and I decided that I should bake a few, just to make sure they were good enough to serve.

After baking a few churros and coating them with cinnamon sugar, I can promise you that these churros were worth making.  They were delicious, like little baked doughnut sticks.

As an added bonus, my friend Mary-Catheryn will soon be launching her own homemade dulce de leche company, Catarina.  I’ve been lucky enough to eat lots of dulce de leche in my time and this stuff is the real deal.  It is the best dulce de leche I’ve ever had stateside (and maybe abroad too).  I promise to let you know when she’s officially open for business.  You will want to buy this stuff by the boatload and slather it onto mostly everything you eat: bread, ice cream, bananas, any and everything.  The you’ll want to bake it into cookies or cupcakes and make one dish dessert with meringue drops and strawberries and top it with her dulce.  And then, since too much dulce could never be enough, you’ll want to eat it by the spoonful.

I highly recommend all of the aforementioned methods of eating Catarina dulce de leche.

Doesn’t that look tasty?

They didn’t last long.

Not long at all.

I can’t wait to share these foods with the family and I have more small plates to tell you about so stay tuned to see what’s on our menu for tonight.

Do you have a heard time choosing one thing for dinner?

What are some of your favorite dishes for entertaining?

running behind

My plan for today was to go to yoga in the morning, walk to work, walk home, have a quick dinner and then prep a few things for dinner tomorrow because my parents and brother are coming for a meal.  Here’s how my day went.

5:30 Wake up

5:54 Arrive at hot yoga class

6:00 “On your backs.” – ab work begins followed by an hour of morning yoga power

7:00 Wake up from savasana

7:20 Post-shower/pre-work nap

8:32 Almost ready to go but officially too late to walk to work

8:45 Drive to work

8:54 Punched in, let the office grind begin

1:12 Eat lackluster but delicious lunch.  Hello, Muenster!

1:30 Convince Todd that it might be a good idea for him to run to the gym, meet me at the office and walk home with me

3:45 Texts start arriving with pictures of the homemade BBQ sauce and salsa Todd has been making, belly begins to grumble again

5:30 Todd arrives at the office, flip flops in hand, to walk home with me in the glorious sun

5:32 Flip flops on, pants rolled up into shorts, walking home.

5:40 Quick stop at Nantucket Baking Co. to pick up buns for veggie burgers that will accompany Todd’s fresh batch of homemade BBQ sauce

5:41 Choose pretzels to use as buns – excitement rises, belly begins to grumble

 

6:05 Home.  Time to start cooking.

6:38 Chow time!  In just 33 minutes we’ve whipped up a pretty little meal

7:02 Dinner is over, time to write a quick blog post before starting to prep for tomorrow night’s dinner for my parents

7:05 Kitchen too hot, to bedroom to blog because it’s more comfortable in there

7:07 Eyelids heavy

7:30 Todd comes in to wake me, prep time

7:31 Snooze

9:01 Is it 7:30 yet?  I’m awake!

9:02 Realize I woke up early this morning so at least there’s an excuse for all of my tired

9:39 Done with lackluster blog post, time to prep for tomorrow’s dinner – only two hours behind schedule

The day didn’t go exactly as I planned but it’s all good.  An evening nap isn’t the worst thing in the world.  And that dinner, that was so good.  Got to love those spicy black bean burgers.  Time to prep, for real this time!

Did your day go as planned today?

Do you mind if your day doesn’t go as planned?

is fondue a fon-don’t?

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, yesterday was my dad’s birthday.  In celebration we went out to dinner at The Melting Pot.  I had only been to this fun-due (ha) restaurant once before and had only had dessert there.  Yesterday, we had the full four-course fondue experience.

My parents decided on the Latin American-themed meal and we all dug into to course after course of fondue goodness.  First we had a spicy cheese fondue with bread, apples and tortilla chips to dip.  I loved the apple and cheese combo and devoured most of the apple chunks by myself.

After that was a salad course.  Not too exciting for me.  Have I ever mentioned that I’m not that into vegetables?  If I haven’t, I meant to.

The salads were followed up by the main course which I was felt much more enthusiastic about.  We had two different sauces, Coq au Vin and Mojo.  I was sitting closest to the Coq au Vin sauce but bother were delicious.  We took turns skewering and cooking filet, shrimp, chicken, pork, corn raviolis and veggies in the sauces.  They also provided us with several delicious sauces to top our main course selections with and my favorite was their Gorgonzola Port sauce, it was so good!

Of course, the most exciting part of the meal was dessert.  We chose two chocolate fondues, one with marshmallow and Oreos mixed in and the other with dulce de leche and sea salt.  You can imagine how delicious they were.  We stabbed bits of brownie, strawberries, marshmallows and Rice Krispie treats until we made sure there was no chocolate left in either pot.

I would say that out Melting Pot dinner was a huge success.  Cheers to my dad!

One topic that came up was whether or not this would be a good place for a first date.  I mentioned that it might be awkward since you basically have to eat the same thing and your meat is mingling together in a pot.  But someone made a good point that it would be a great first date spot because it’s interactive so there’s something to focus on other than the typical get-to-know-you rundown.  In the end, I agreed that it would be a good place for a date.  I like having something to do on a date so it doesn’t get awkward.  You could always have a good laugh over losing your meat or a potato in the pot, right?

So, what do you think?  Is fondue a fon-don’t on a date?

Do you prefer interactive dates when you’re getting to know someone?

What’s the most fun, interactive dinner you’ve ever had?

announcing pomelosunshine.com

I am happy to announce that my blog can now be found at http://www.pomelosunshine.com! For now, you will automatically be redirected there if you come to my wordpress.com site. If you happen to read my posts via Google Reader, RSS feed or another link, please update that so you can continue to read along.

My blog has been doing so much better than I ever expected, thank you all for reading. If you have any feedback or suggestions I’d love to hear from you. To get in touch please just leave a comment or email me at pomelosunshine.com, I look forward to hearing from you.

Well, thanks again for the support, I’m enjoying a short lunch/sun break. I hope it’s as gorgeous where you are as it is here!

what luck, a food truck!

I hope you all enjoyed Todd’s guest post yesterday, I certainly did.

Before I get started with today’s post, I want to say happy, happy birthday to my dad!  I couldn’t ask for a better one and I’m looking forward to celebrating you at dinner tonight. Love you, Dad!

Now, onto the post!

Even though we have a lot of good options as far as restaurants go, one thing that our city is lacking is food trucks.  I started hearing about the food truck scene in LA, Seattle, Austin and Portland awhile ago and I just love the idea.  Sure we have some street vendors around, hot dog carts and the occasional ice cream truck but there just aren’t any good options for fast, interesting food.

Well, that’s not entirely true.  Recently, maybe a year ago, a local restaurant started a food truck here which is great news for people like me.  It’s called What the Truck and is owned by one of my favorite local restaurants, The Winchester.

Last night, Todd was going to go out with friends and I was going to stay home.  Then he mentioned that they were going to a community event, the Local First Street Party.  I was interested but not totally sold on going.  Then I found out that What the Truck was going to be there and I immediately decided to go.  Is it sad that the promise of food is the best way to get me out of the house?  Don’t answer that.

This would be my first time eating from a food truck and I couldn’t wait.  We got to the party, met up with our friends, bought some food tickets and then I made a beeline to What the Truck.  They were offering tacos, a veggie burrito and steak satay.  I settled on the steak when I saw that it had chimichurri sauce, an Argentine favorite.

After a short wait my steak satay was ready.  The meat had great flavor, the grilled vegetables were quite delicious and I was one satisfied customer.

I will definitely be trying food from What the Truck again.  It was delicious and I love the concept of freshly cooked, delicious food to go.  And who could resist that fun, brightly colored truck?  It just looks like a good time.

After enjoying my food truck grub we had a few beers and eventually some ice cream.  Todd ordered a hot dog too and I convinced him to get a few inches of it with just ketchup so I could try it.  I’m not a huge hot dog person but these were from a new hot dog place, Jonny B’z Dog and More and rumor had it they were the best dogs around.  They’re all-beef and they grill the buns so they’re a little crispy, like a grilled cheese.

Now that was one delicious hot dog.  They offer hamburgers and sandwiches at their shop too and I wouldn’t be surprised if Todd and I grabbed a meal or two there this summer.

We also enjoyed a beer or three (or four) from Founders, a local brewery. I opted for Cerise, a cherry ale.  Delicioso.

As if the food and beer choices weren’t enough we were also treated to great entertainment.  Local hip hop band, A.B! and Coconut Brown played and they were awesome.  The whole crowd was into it and we danced the night away.  The band has a great jazz-inspired horn section with trombone, saxophone and trumpet that accompanies their keyboardist, drummer, bassist and guitarist.  The full band added a lot of depth to the music.  They had great energy and really got the crowd going.  Hands up, hands up, Coconut Brown!  I wouldn’t be surprised if they made it onto the national scene one of these days.

Needless to say, I’m glad that I decided to go out last night.  The street party was a great time.

Do you enjoy local street parties or festivals?

Are there food trucks in your area?  If so, what’s your favorite food truck treat?

guest post – i’m a cooker

Hello world – Todd, here. I’m Kate’s husband, though if you’re reading this, you probably already knew that. I’m thoroughly honored to be the first (of many?) guest bloggers on Pomelo Sunshine. Without further ado, please enjoy my (guest) post.

Just because you run doesn’t mean you’re an Olympian. Nope, you’re just a runner.

Just because you blog doesn’t mean you’re an author. Nope, you’re just a blogger.

Just because you cook, doesn’t mean you’re a chef. Nope, you’re — like me – just a cooker.

You might be a cooker if, while reading a recipe, you ask yourself, ‘What the heck is neutral oil?’ (Turns out it is a neutral-flavored oil, like canola oil.)

You might be a cooker if you can’t fathom how Kate takes the time to take photos while she cooks because cooking is far too frantic of activity to mix photography with.

You might be a cooker if you aim for Top Chef Masters, but end up looking more like Worst Cooks in America.

That said, I’ve learned (mainly from Kate – more on that in a minute), that you can put together some pretty delectable dishes, even if you’re just a cooker. As proof, I offer you BBQ Chicken Nachos.

I even made the bbq sauce myself. I mainly used this recipe from Macheesmo, making a few substitutions along the way – extra ketchup and brown sugar to make the sauce thicker and sweeter, and subbed the whole white onion for a half red onion – it’s what we had. Plus, the jalapenos only went on one side of the nachos – they’re a no-go for Kate.

As you can probably tell from the pictures, they turned out wonderfully, and were quite delicious. Despite being married to Kate, I’m really dispassionate about food. Maybe it is because I just don’t feel strongly about food, or maybe it’s because I’m a guy, but I never bothered to learn to cook. At all. Kate and I made jello together on our first date (as preparation for a bake-off my family was doing), and she mostly had to teach me how to make jello. Did you know you can layer jello? Did you know you can put whip cream in jello? Did you know that you pull the pork AFTER you cook it when you make pulled pork? I’ve learned all of this, and much more, while cooking with (and for) Kate.

In my time as a cooker, I’ve developed the following rules for cooking:

Rule 1: Follow the recipe exactly.

Rule 2: Only make things you are (reasonably) sure you’ll like: that way, when you’re black bean and corn burgers turn into black bean and corn scramble, it will at least taste (reasonably) good.

Rule 3: Have confidence. You’ll always be surprised by what you can cook up if you just try (especially if you’re following a recipe).

So whatever it is you do, run, blog, cook, whatever – remember, you don’t have to be an Olympian, author, or chef, to enjoy it. And isn’t that what matters?

Ok, since this is Kate’s blog, I think I should end it the way she does, so…

What are your rules for cooking?

What do you enjoy doing, even though you’re far from a pro at it? 

hmp – guacamole

While guacamole isn’t a meal in and of itself, it could be with the right chips to dip into it.  Because of that, I’m including it in the Homemade Meal Project.  Plus it’s one of those foods that’s easy to just buy off the shelf but not much harder to make at home.  The result of a homemade guacamole recipe are always delicious.

Guacamole

1 large ripe avocado (ripe avocado give when you lightly squeeze them)

1/4 cup of salsa

2 teaspoons lime juice

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

dash ground chipotle

dash salt

Cut avocado in half, lengthwise and twist to separate halves.  Using a spoon separate the avocado’s fruit from the peel discarding the pit.  Place in medium bowl.  Add lime juice, garlic powder, chipotle and salt.  Mash the ingredients together using a fork or spoon, mixing well.

Enjoy!

To store, cover guacamole with plastic wrap making sure that the plastic makes contact with the guacamole in order to prevent browning.

Now wasn’t that easy?

My guacamole took on a brownish tinge right away because of the salsa.  To avoid this try adding fresh tomato, onion and jalapeño instead of salsa.

Now, I mentioned that guacamole isn’t a meal all by its lonesome but don’t worry, we didn’t eat this on its own.  Stay tuned for the very first guest post on Pomelo Sunshine to hear what we had for dinner tonight.

Do you buy your guacamole or make it at home?

What do you like to top with guac?

sprouting basil

I’ve been in the market for a new water bottle for awhile now.  I recently threw away my old Nalgenes.  Loved them but the BPA thing freaked me out, especially since I had heard it was related to exposure to heat and each of those bottles had spent their fair share of time in my car, cooking in the sun.

Also, for Christmas I bought Vapur water pouches for my siblings, Todd and myself.  I loved the idea of them, they flatten and roll up for easy storage.  Unfortunately, I found the pouches hard to drink out of especially in the middle of a sweaty, fast-paced yoga session.

Since retiring my Vapur I’ve just been refiling Dasani bottles.  A few months ago I saw the Sipp water bottle on Peanut Butter and Jenny.  Jenny loved it and it’s been in the back of my mind since then.

While Todd and I were at Target buying our life-saving air conditioner, I decided that it was time to pull the trigger and buy this bad boy.  I tried it out at the office and was happy with it but the true test came at yoga last night.  I wanted to see how it would work when I just needed to sop and keep moving.  Let me tell you, it was a good choice.  On top of the cool design it has some great features:

1) The bottle flips open at the press of a button – no unscrewing your cap with this water bottle.

2) The cap stays open.  It doesn’t flop around and you don’t have to hold it back, it stays all by itself.  I truly appreciated it while I was sweating through my warriors, cobras, dancers and chaturungas.  No more caps hitting my in the face, woo hoo!

So, if you need a water bottle, check this one out, I really like it so far.  As far as I know they’re only available at Target but they also have a stainless steal version that’s available more widely.

In other news, I went out to check on my little garden and I noticed something amazing – my basil has sprouted!

We had rain overnight and it seems it was just the thing to get my basil growing.  I also have parsley and mint planted but they take a few weeks to bud.  This basil was planted just 6 days ago.  I am so excited to have fresh herbs.  I plan to make lots of Italian dishes and mojitos this summer with fresh grown herbs, sounds lovely, no?

And one final bit of excited news – our wedding pictures are ready!  Todd went to pick them up this afternoon and I am dying to get home and see them.  Seriously, our photographer is awesome, we only had to wait a month to get them back.  I’m sure I’ll be starting a wedding series soon, stay tuned!

Do you have a water bottle you love?

Have you ever cooked with homegrown herbs? What are your favorites to grow?

thoughts on popcorn and yoga

Well, we survived the hot, hot night.  Actually, the air conditioner helped a lot – go figure!  I woke up and had blankets on, a sure sign that the temperature was at a bearable level.  Of course, leaving the air on all day doesn’t make a ton of sense so when I got home from work the apartment had hit 97 – still hot but better than 99, right?  I’m doing my best to ignore the heat knowing that tonight, I’ll be able to sleep comfortably.

All this talk about the heat is making me sweat.  Let’s talk about food instead.

When I got home from work I was hungry (as usual) but since I have yoga class later on I didn’t want to eat too much.  My favorite solution to this problem is to pop some popcorn.

I really love popcorn and about a year ago, give or take, I bought a box of Orville Redenbacher’s Natural Lime and Salt popcorn.  I’ve been hooked ever since.  I dare say that it’s taken the place of movie theater butter popcorn as my favorite type of popcorn.  The best part is that it comes in mini bags so I can always make the perfect amount for a little snack.  The lime is subtle, as if you had squeezed a fresh lime over top of the bag, not overwhelmingly fruity.  Seriously, I always have this in the house. If you haven’t tried it, go buy a box, you won’t be sorry!

Also, speaking of yoga class, isn’t it kind of funny that my hot yoga class at 95° will be cooler than our apartment, kind of?

After almost a week off due to not being able to breathe at all (thanks for that, allergies), I went back to yoga yesterday morning at 6:00 am.  I’m always proud of myself for getting up and actually going and I feel better all day long.  Morning workouts are the ticket, I think.  I’m excited for tonight’s Shake Your Asana class, I haven’t been to one in ages.  They play music the whole time so there’s a different, fun and playful vibe to the class.  It’s a good time.

Well, time to go sweat my butt off!  I hope you’re having a great Wednesday!

What’s your favorite pre-workout snack?

If you practice yoga, do you do so quietly or do you turn up the jams from time to time?