mini date: food truck

This past weekend we got a lot done. The living room was patch painted and furniture moved in. The nursery was mopped, we bought shelving for the closets, and furniture moved  in as well. In addition this, we did a tour of the family birth center at the hospital and test drove a car we are looking at buying. More pics and information on all of that to come.

But in the middle of this very busy weekend we were able to have a moment of fun and exploration.

We drive the same route every week to our birth class in Northern Olympia. So I decided  to look on google maps to see what food options were close to where our  class meets. I discovered there are interesting looking restaurants and stores along 4th and State running east of our normal northern route via Plum st.

We were running low on time, but we knew there were food trucks parked on the corner of 4th and Plum.

It was a beautiful sunny spring day with a little wind blowing off the bays. We  walked up to the parking lot where the food trucks are set up in a circle around wood picnic benches and a planter box.  There four food trucks were parked featuring Middle Eastern, Venezuelan, Indian fusion, a traditional taco truck.

Since we were exploring, Luke decided to order a lamb/beef shawarma from Nineveh , the Assyrian food truck, and side order of bourek. I went to the Venezuelan truck, called AREPA: latin street food, and ordered the carne arepa with a side of yuca fries. To drink we went to the California Tacos truck for glass bottled Jarritos and Coke.

The food was very flavorful, and great portions for the cost. Luke really enjoyed his shawarma and after a bite I’m looking forward to trying their falalfel shawarma. The bourek was something new to me, an egg roll on the outside with middle eastern spiced ground beef/lamb and spinach on the inside, very tasty. My arepa was great, another first for me, the bun is made of corn so it’s gluten free! (yay) and the shredded beef was savory. The yuca fries were great too, and even better when dipped in the cilantro/avocado dressing they came with.

In all, although slightly rushed, it was a fun discovery with great food and a wonderful mini date in the midst of a busy weekend.

How is your spring going?

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Christmas Cookies 2016

Every Christmas I embark on a epic cookie baking session. This year is no exception. Actually, because I am closer to family the cookie tins have increased this year. In spite of working with a new oven with less counter space nothing seems to keep me from the joy of holiday baking.

So what’s on the list for this year?

White Chocolate Peppermint :

This year I am going to try a new method for making these minty favorites. In the past I have struggled with the cookies flattening. My current theory is that they are weighed down by the andes peppermint chunks in them. To try to prevent this, I am going to melt the peppermint with the white chocolate and only sprinkle a few morsels on top afterward. We will see if that makes a difference.

White chocolate dipped Ginger:

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These are my new favorites. I made them for the first time last year and they went over so well I’m making a larger batch this time. They are a bit more time consuming as they require cooling before dipping or decorating but they are so yummy and they catch everyone’s eye. For more see:

https://agreenesadventures.org/2015/12/23/christmas-cookies-2015/

Chocolate Bakers:

A basic for chocolate lovers. I have done several variations on this over the years including adding chili to make them more like Mexican Coco and of course also peppermint. But classics are still great. I’ll try to get a recipe out for those to you soon.

Holiday M and M:

Speaking of classics. This is a basic as it gets, well at least for me. The secret I find to these salty and sweet upscale chocolate chips is the use of a little bit of oat flour and vanilla pudding mix to keep them moist on the inside and crunchy on the outside.

Holiday Red Velvet :

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In the past I’ve made these with holiday velvet cake mixes, cookies come in both red and green. The green ones don’t seem to go over as well even though they taste the same. So instead of making it extra colorful we are skipping the grinch coloring this year.

For a recipe see:

https://agreenesadventures.org/2015/12/22/holiday-velvet-cookies/

Organic Gluten Free No White Sugar Oatmeal Cookies

This is my new experiment this year. I took a basic oatmeal cookie recipe and did some work substituting ingredients. I was able to come up with an alternative to meet the needs of a few family members with food allergies, something I completely understand.  (for more on this put the words “tree nuts” and “barley” into my search box on this blog). If this goes well and I get thumbs up from those who will enjoy them then a recipe may be down the road for this as well.

In addition to these wonderful cookies I am making a few candies and snacks including peanut brittle, butterscotch haystacks, and spicy cajun peanuts to name a few.

Are any of these your favorites? If not what is your favorite holiday treat?

Naples Grape Festival

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Around this time last year we drove through Naples and noticed several grape pie and grape sellers along the main street. I looked up Naples to find they host a very large fall grape festival and pie contest. If you have never heard of grape pies it’s ok, neither did we, this area is actually where it all started.

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We decided to go to the Naples Grape Fest on Sunday afternoon, hoping this popular festival would be less busy at that time; I was wrong. We parked almost a mile from the vendors and walked in. Unlike other festivals  the main route through town stayed open (although moving at a snails pace). This made traveling along the sidewalks slow.

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There were vendors with everything from clothes, to wood carvings, glass work, candles, produce, and fair food including all things grape flavored. Along the way we picked up local cheese, maple syrup, and grape jam.

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Behind town hall was a fenced-in wine tasting area, with a large selection of wineries and a few breweries present. Next to this was a music tent where we listened to a  folk country/bluegrass group called Ruddy Well. We enjoyed them so much we ended up buying their CD’s.

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About half way through town, we found the main food court. I choose to eat at Effortlessly Healthy a Rochester based food truck that serves dairy and gluten free meals with vegan options. I had a bowl with cole slaw sweet potatoes, ground beef, chicken, and avocado it was perfect. They also have their own store in Rochester where they serve healthy lunch options and provide delivery meal services.

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On our way back  we stopped at grape pie stands. Luke got a slice to-go from one. Fortunately I was able to eat a mini open tart’s filling from another, it tasted like concord grapes (the most popular grape in the Naples area). Some vendors sold pie filling. Too bad they didn’t offering tastings  or I would have bought one to make my own barley-free pie.

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On our way out of town we stopped for dessert at Lynnie Lou’s a homemade ice cream and custard shop . We were happily surprised to see them open; most ice cream stands  close after Labor Day. Luke got a grape and vanilla swirl custard and I chose vanilla custard with warm apple pie filling.

It was another great date day.

Memorial Day Weekend

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This past weekend allowed for a much needed break and time to catch up on work around the house.  On Saturday we went to Lowes and did (hopefully) the majority of our summer shopping. We bought all the plant food, fertilizer, bug repent, and grass seed we think we need. Also we bought supplies to finally create that path to the front door we started working on last year.  For more on this see

https://agreenesadventures.org/2015/09/24/august-backlog-summer-project-curb-appeal/

An update will come as some of these projects are completed.

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On Sunday we drove up to Rochester for a special dinner. All the month of May the Rochester melting pot had a special for a gluten free four course meal. That meant they took all croutons off the salads, I had good gluten free bread with my cheese, meat that was not in a flour based marinade for the entree, and flourless brownies and angel food cake to go with our chocolate. It was a great date meal out, plus because we had gift cards, and a groupon so the dinner cost half of what it normally does!

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On Monday we took the day slow and did some outdoor work. Then in the afternoon, to get out of the heat, we went to see the new x-men movie, which was of course good. For our memorial day dinner we did homemade cheese hamburgers with all the fixings and baked potato wedges. We already have enough mint from my plant that I was able to make mint lemonade to go with. Later for dessert I made my fresh berry salad with homemade whip cream, a light and healthier summer dessert. For more on this see:

https://agreenesadventures.org/2013/03/30/hot-cross-buns-and-berry-salad-a-new-easter-tradition/

Overall it was a great weekend, but as always we could have used a few more days. How about you?

 

Superbowl Buffalo Chicken Salad

I know it is way past the Super Bowl now and I had plans to write this much sooner if not for the lack of internet this week.

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Every January/February it is the same struggle. You try to get back on track for eating healthy and watching calories. Then the events start to hit again. This year it was Super Bowl, Mardi Gras, Chinese New Year, and Valentines day all wrapped into a short two week period. Not that we celebrate all of these events but it can get difficult to stay on top of healthy eating.

So this year I decided to do something different for the super bowl: a gluten-free salad. Now before you get upset or confused let me tell you what was in it:  chicken breast in buffalo wing sauce, romaine lettuce, pickled red cabbage, blue cheese crumbles, and homemade potato chips for croutons. Does that sound better?

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Let’s just say my husband did not complain. So how did I make it?

Step one: Well it does take some planning to make the red cabbage salad. I grew up near Northwoods Inn, a ski themed steakhouse in Southern California. There they have a famous red cabbage salad that my husband learned to enjoy. So I looked online for as close a recipe as possible.

Here is the recipe I used: http://melissasloveoffood.com/2011/06/02/almost-famous-cabbage-salad/

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Even though this recipe calls for only 4 days of it sitting I found it was better after almost a full week but I am sure that depends on how thinly you slice the cabbage.

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Step Two: To make the buffalo chicken I use all white breast meat. My husband is not a fan of working around bones. I cut 2 large chicken breast into cutlets or cubes removing any access fat.

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Then I put the meat into a ziplock bag and add the buffalo sauce ingredients:

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1/4 C-1/2C red hot pepper sauce

1 tsp pepper and salt

1Tbs garlic and corn starch

and 1/4 C butter (I use low-fat butter spread).

These measurements can change depending on how garlicky or spicy you want your sauce to be. More butter means less heat, more garlic or hot pepper sauce means a spicier sauce.

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I let that sit and marinade for at least and hour in the fridge. Then I heat up a pan or skillet with vegetable oil and place the chicken in it. I turn the burner on low, put a lid on it, and let it cook down. If you let it cook on high for too long the sauce will break down and the hot pepper sauce will get very spicy.

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This usually takes 10 minute or so but may be longer depending on the size of your cutlets and temperature of your burner.  I double check them to make sure they are done by cutting into one cube. The chicken is better if you let it sit and cool a little before serving this way the corn starch has a chance to help bind the sauce together.

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Step Three: I make the croutons as the same time as the chicken cooks. For this I use a handful of fingerling potatoes or you can use baby red potatoes:

1. I preheated the oven at 350 F and cut the potatoes into as thin of slices as possible.

2. Then wrapped a baking sheet in tin foil and drizzled it with olive oil.

3. Laid the potatoes evenly and lightly salted with season salt.

4. They baked for about 30 minutes to 45 minutes.

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Some were ready sooner than others- so after 30 minutes I checked every 10 minutes. When they are  crispy and with little to no bend they are done.

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To create the salad I cut up romaine lettuce, red onion, and carrot and mixed this together with blue cheese dressing. Then began to layer the goodies: red cabbage, then the Buffalo Chicken, blue cheese crumbles, and potato croutons on top.

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What do you think an acceptable alternative?

 

 

Gluten Free Cereal Treats

Did you know that store bought rice cereal treats have malt or barley in the them?  Which is a problem for me. To learn more about this see why I’m barley free.

Rice cereals should be gluten free but many unfortunately are not. So I decided to make healthier gluten free cereal treats at home.

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Aldi’s has recently made new gluten free cereals so I combined two different types: brown rice and flax with chia.

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Also to change things up I  added dried apricots, blueberries, and cherries and white chocolate chips.

Here’s my recipe for Gluten Free Cereal Treats

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Ingredients:

1. 2 boxes of your choice of gluten free cereal; 9-10 oz. each or about 6-8 cups total

Note: make sure the cereal you buy is small and crunchy/hard in texture

2. 5-6 oz or about 2 cups of dried apricot

3. 5-6 oz or about 2 cups of dried blueberries/cherries or your choice of dried fruit

4. 1 1/2 -2 cups of while chocolate chips; depending how sweet you want it

Note: you can make this healthier by using yogurt chips

5. 2-3 cups mini marshmallows

6. 2 tsp salt

7. 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup butter

Note: you can exchange the butter for coconut oil for a healthier dessert

Instructions

1. Chop apricots, blueberries, and cherries

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2. Put dried fruit, cereal, and white chips into a large mixing bowl

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3. Grease two 9×11 pans

4. Heat butter in a small pot on low

5. Once the butter has softened add the marshmallows and salt

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6. Watch the marshmallow mixture on low and fold the butter/mallows together slowly with a spatula

7. Once the marshmallow mixture is completely melted pour into the cereal mixture

8. Mix with hand mixer or I used my kitchen aid mixer

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9. Once mixed, quickly place in pans, it is easiest to press down the gooey mix with greased hands or the back end of a large and wide spatula

10. Give the rice cereal treats time to cool in the fridge, once cool you can cut them into squares. Store the squares in a closed container in the fridge.

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My husband, who is not a huge fan of marshmallows thought these were much better then store bought or traditional rice cereal treats.

These were a perfect camping trip treat and easy summer snack boost.

Playing tourist with the Grandparents

It’s always fun when family come in from out of town; we love to play tourists and being hosts.  The season they come during and their personal interests determine which types of activities and locations we get to share with them.

This past week my grandparents (dad’s parents) came into town for a visit on their month long travels. They started from their home in California in their camper-van and are on their way up to Maine and back again. The last time I’d seen them was at my brother’s wedding last August (see: https://agreenesadventures.wordpress.com/2013/09/07/snapshots-halvorson-wedding-behind-the-scenes/)

So I was thrilled to get some time with them.

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My husband took off work on Friday so we were ready for them when they rolled into town that afternoon. We took them downtown Market street on a walk after some much needed catching up. While downtown, we stopped in the Crystal City olive oil store. My grandpa took samples of everything and enjoyed talking to the store workers since we had the place to ourselves. Luke and I bought a bottle of lemon basil white vinaigrette we thought would go well on both salads and for marinades and my grandmother picked up some very early christmas gifts for a few friends.

For more on Corning’s Market Street see:https://agreenesadventures.wordpress.com/2013/02/22/my-new-hometown/

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We came back to our little rented house and made them our traditional Greene pizza with a twist. Instead of the usual ingredients we used artichoke hearts, olives, crushed fresh garlic, grape tomatoes, onions, and spinach with an Alfredo base instead of tomato. And for meat? Chicken breast pan fried in olive oil and oregano. It was extremely delicious and a great experimental sucess.

For more on our homemade pizza see: https://agreenesadventures.wordpress.com/2013/02/05/pizza-a-la-greene/

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The next day we took the grandparents on a hiking/nature tour. We stopped by their beautiful campsite with my homemade quiche and fruit for a picnic lunch (see: https://agreenesadventures.wordpress.com/2013/03/26/a-good-spring-quiche/)

Then we took off in our car to Walkins Glen to hike the Gorge Trail. Although the parking lot was crowded the trail was not too busy and my grandparents had not problems keeping up on the incline of stairs (which is pretty great since my grandfather turned 80 this year!) It is just as beautiful as last year when we first discovered this amazingly breathtaking view.

For more on Walkins Glen state park see: https://agreenesadventures.wordpress.com/2013/08/22/walkins-glen-state-parkgorge-ous/

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Next we drove up to Ithaca passing by one of the finger lakes (Seneca) on our way to the base of the other (Cayuga) through beautiful country. We stopped by the Ithaca Farmer’s Market where we split off: grandpa and Luke sampling cheese and other foods and Grandma and I tasting local ciders and wines.

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We left with some local maple syrup and hard cider and headed to another state park: Buttermilk Falls. We chose not to conquer two gorge trails in one day but instead enjoyed the view from the picnic tables at the base of the falls.

For more on the Farmer’s Market and Buttermilk falls see: https://agreenesadventures.wordpress.com/2013/06/27/an-ithaca-birthday-adventure/

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We drove back towards Corning a different route to show more of the country-side then ended up in Horseheads for dinner and dessert. We took my grandparents to our favorite little mom-and-pop sushi place where we enjoyed our delicious sashimi, miso soup, and traditional rolls while my grandparents enjoyed yakisoba  (although they did try a shrimp, avocado, and egg roll). And for dessert? We went to sweetfrog; the local frozen yogurt joint where we could all get a variety of topping and flavors for our unique personalities.

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On Sunday after church we went to lunch at one of my favorite spots: Walker Cake Co.: Barn Owl Cafe where we got breakfast for lunch: breakfast burritos, gluten-free breakfast sandwiches, and traditional two egg breakfasts all with coffee.

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After a hearty brunch we took our grandparents to the Corning glass museum (how could we not?). They were concerned that we would be bored since this was our fourth or fifth time in the museum. We assured them that we weren’t; the contemporary art exhibit had completely been changed out; the demos were being done by new people which always means different information, each live glassblowing creates new and unique items, and the main art display always has a changing/rotating exhibit.

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So although we had taken my parents  at christmas we were far from bored. We also did a very early christmas gift ; the grandparents made a sculpture at the art-glass studio. Much like what we did from my parents; grandma chose the colors and grandpa made the sculpture. Since they are traveling they chose to have it shipped to my parents place where they will end their travels.

For more on the glass museum see:https://agreenesadventures.wordpress.com/2013/12/28/a-corning-christmas-present/

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After a long tour day at the museum we headed back to our house for another Greene dinner: fish tacos. My grandfather tries every fish taco place in California when he has the chance and gave ours a thumbs up for approval

For more on our fish tacos see: https://agreenesadventures.wordpress.com/2013/08/01/greenes-tilapia-fish-tacos/

We finished our last night together enjoying the thundering rain storm on our porch while eating some of my homemade popsicles.

See some of them at: https://agreenesadventures.wordpress.com/2013/08/12/tropical-banana-creamsicles/

As a parting gift as we took my grandparents back to their campsite I gave grandma one of my swedish rye loafs (will be my bread of the month post) and little horseradish cheese from our trip to Ellicottville.

For more on Cuba cheese see:https://agreenesadventures.wordpress.com/2014/05/23/wine-tasting-in-ellicottville/

It was a great weekend playing tourists and hosts. It was also a fun overview for us of what we have explored, learned, and discovered in the past year living in the Corning area. Can’t wait to see what we will explore and discover the rest of this summer and into next year as we transition into a new location (but more on that later).

Do you enjoy hosting friends and family?

What are some of your favorite meals to cook for them?

What local restaurants/tourist spots do insist showing them?