Thursday, December 4, 2008

so you buy some fancy citrus, and it's crazy tangy

when winter hits, it's hard to resist unusual citrus fruit at the store. visually appealing, and often so small-- meaning that even if it's a ridiculous price for a pound of them, one or two pieces won't set you back much.

if you do buy the fancy citrus, you will occaisionally get fruit that's more tart than you want to fill a bowl. my advice: peanut butter stuffed pretzels are the perfect companion to small citrus sections in that case. the saltiness of the pretzels complements your reaction to the citrus tang.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

what it is about the smell of eggs and cheese in the oven?

the chopped ham was on crazy discount at sun mart, but after i bought it, i wasn't sure what i would want to do with it. it was a toss-up between split pea soup or this potato casserole, and i chose the option that didn't require buying anything else.

i peeled and chopped two potatoes into coin shapes (and wanted a mandolin slicer for the first time in my life) and set them aside.

in a large mixing bowl, i stirred three eggs and a splash of milk, and then stirred in a handful of shredded cheddar and the rest of a jar of blue cheese (just the cheese, no oil), and the package of chopped ham. then i tossed the potatoes into the bowl to coat. then into a casserole dish, with a handful of shredded parmesan over the top. 425 degree oven until it looked and smelled so good i couldn't stand it, about 45 minutes.

this recipe has great potential for using up scraps from the fridge. with a tossed salad, it makes a nice brunch.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

ali baba, you're my gyro

i hadn't gone to ali baba's in forever, but i picked up a gyro plate yesterday... and then got caught in post-game traffic on the way home, and was tortured by how good this smelled all the way there.

orange and yellow shredded carrots

organic to boot! these are showing up in some produce sections around town. i threw these in with the baked chicken and potatoes below, but they'd make an interesting variation on the old shredded carrot and raisin salad that you see around the holidays. might make it almost edible!

well, that was fun (and a dollar) while it lasted

hy-vee had stocked these day-old stuffed chicken breasts for a dollar apiece, as i wrote about here and here, but now they're up to $2 ea. which is still pretty cheap, but it's no longer in guaranteed weekend rotation.

these are the "santa fe" style. here, i baked four in a casserole dish, along with some chunks of potatoes, shredded and carrots and chopped onions-- i covered those with salsa and cheddar cheese. 350 degrees for 45-60 min.

Monday, November 3, 2008

sshhh... halloween brownies will be served in a thanksgiving context

there are sales on candy after halloween... and there are also sales on cookie dough. these were $1.50 a package, which was less than half-price.

expiration date: 12/14/2008. the packaging says halloween but the brownies themselves are regular brownies with caramel-swirled chocolate chips. so i bought a couple packages to have on hand in case there's a last-minute, thanksgiving-themed opportunity later this month. the day before thanksgiving at the office will do...

Sunday, November 2, 2008

bacon-wrapped chicken breasts, stuffed with cheese and jalapenos

again for a dollar at the 70th & pioneers hy-vee.

i baked these with some of the last produce from last weekend's farmers' market. the chicken went into a casserole dish with some danvers carrots and some brussels sprouts, and a dash of chicken broth. baked at 375 for about an hour, covered for the first half-hour.

falling back an hour, taking out the farmers' market

so i couldn't go to the farmers' market this morning, since there was no farmers' market.

but i could get a half-price day-old le quartier pastry at the mill, because the bakery was finally getting a weekend off-- since there was no farmers' market. and there won't be another one until the spring season.

also, election season is over on tuesday. don't forget to pay a visit to the polling booth while you can.

Monday, October 27, 2008

bacon-wrapped, ham-and-cheese-stuffed chicken breast

hy-vee had several packages of these "grillers" on sale for a dollar per piece yesterday. i'm guessing they were left over from the husker home game afternoon the day before. a good meat counter in this town would have a barbecue-friendly blowout on such a saturday.

bacon-wrapped, and stuffed with ham and cheese, the chicken breasts were impossible to not buy for a dollar apiece. i bought three, and wish i had bought more.

i didn't even grill them! driving away from the store, i figured it would be more convenient to stick them in a casserole dish and simply bake instead. i didn't have to worry about the chicken drying out with the extra fat all around and inside of it. and any further preparation would be overkill. so i preheated the oven to 350 as soon as i got in the door, and thereafter baked the dish while i went about the next half hour to 45 minutes of my day.

here's one with some broccoli from the last farmers' market, also on sunday. i washed and trimmed the stalks of broccoli, and then took a carrot peeler to the toughness of the stalk. i tossed that with some italian dressing and baked, covered, for about ten minutes.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

the new hy-vee at 50th & o st.

is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

which means that, no matter what time of week one has a craving for prepared edamame, it can be had. along with some other complementary snacks.

(several other groceries in lincoln are 24/7, of course, but this one has already come in handy [by virtue of location] two sundays in a row... the only two sundays it's been open.)

i've tried the rice crackers out of the bulk section in other hy-vee locations, and ran into staleness. the bulk rice crackers at this newly-opened location are crisp and spicy. buy them while that holds true!

also, park on the east side of the building. there's a second, smaller entry/exit over there; parking is much easier there than anywhere near the main entry.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

romanesco, pomegranate, yellow bell pepper and spinach salad

with slivered almonds. i used annie's pomegranate vinaigrette as the dressing-- i had half of a bottle left that i had bought on sale for three bucks. the bag of spinach was 99c at ideal, the yellow bell was 99c at hy-vee, used about half a pomegranate that was 1.19 at hy-vee, and half the head of romanesco that was three dollars at the farmers' market. it tasted even prettier than it looks here.

three of my favorite cheeses, some of my favorite weather

from the cheese remnant basket at the 40th & hy-vee "cheese island." (that's what they call it, i swears.) huntsman, manchego, and emmentaler.

i bought and enjoyed these last weekend. i was going to write about how you should stop here and buy some cheese on your way south of town for a snack-picnic in the lovely autumn weather. considering the conditions today, i'll pass on that.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

pomegranate, the fruit that took "in autumn, wear layers" very seriously

pomegranates are back in stores. here's my advice about pomegranates:

relatively soon after purchasing a pomegranate, peel it, and free the arils (like they do on this site). refrigerate. don't wait until you want to throw it in a salad or a dessert five minutes after you get the inspiration to do so.

it's not that it's that bad to prepare a pomegranate... it's no thirty yards of board fence nine feet high... but you could tom sawyer someone into helping you with this. it's fun!

and as soon as you have the pomegranate arils stored in a refrigerated container, your culinary inspiration will be freed up as well.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

somewhere, from under the sea; somewhere, waiting for me: romanesco

romanesco, which i've always been fascinated by, yet never bought, was $3 a head at the farmers' market this morning. i've never seen it approaching anywhere near that price in a grocery store.

ONE MORE SUNDAY, after today, of the farmers' market at 56th & old cheney. buy some of this while you can.

"do you think you could fit some in your carry-on bag?"

overheard at the farmers' market this morning, in front of a display of asian pears that were 50c ea.

eleven dollars and twelve cents, ideal grocery, yesterday

1) three indian dinners, on sale for $2, and two of them had 55c off coupons on the front.

2) some philadelphia brand cream cheese spread with jalapeno. i am a sucker for cream cheese with jalapeno in it. this was from the clearance cooler, which is tucked back in the corner just to the right of the deli. it was 99c, because-- you can see this in the picture-- dated a week and a half ago. something this processed and spiced, i'm not too worried.

3) some herbal tea for 1.99 out of the dry goods clearance basket, which is in the frozen section. from a native american owned company... called victory tea... i'm sure i'll write about that when i try it.

4) 2 avocado, on sale for 79c ea, makes $1.58.

5) two seckel pears, on sale at 1.49#; these pears are small, so that was only 67c. they're in the paper bag.

6) 10 oz bag of spinach, on sale for 99c.

"i'm down with shapes."

overheard in the pasta aisle at ideal.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

hy-vee's health food section 10% off this weekend, 40th & old cheney only

10% off whatever you can fit in a shopping bag out of their health food section, through tomorrow. stock up!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

leftover take-out review: risotto from magnolia

when i dine at a restaurant with several appealing choices on the menu, there are a few filters i use to narrow the scope of that decision.

first, what dish contains ingredients that i wouldn't be able to buy, in a manner as easy or as affordable, for my own preparation at home?

secondly, what dish requires equipment i don't have at home? (honestly, this could be a deep fryer or pizza oven.)

and last, what dish would i be less likely to make at home, because of preparation time or difficulty?

risotto resembles that last remark. risotto requires constant stirring, which takes a lot of time and effort that you wouldn't have to spend preparing another dish. i ordered this risotto as part of a meal at magnolia. it was wonderful. i ordered it thinking some might be left over, and luckily that proved true.

Friday, October 10, 2008

baked garlic: because i finally found some at a grocery store that looked good enough to buy::

look how nice and well-maintained the garlic at leon's looks. i baked this in the oven with those summer fruits from other other post. i chopped off the tips of the bulb, wrapped the bottom of the bulb in foil, and then drizzled with blue cheese oil and peppered it.

blue cheese is a tasty guy, but he sure does smell funny

if you like blue cheese but tend to use it sparingly, this is the cheese for you. the jar won't stink up the refrigerator, and the oil that the cheese is packed in is a great addition to salad dressings or on baked garlic...i got this jar at leon's.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

summer fruit in autumn ovens

it happens at the beginning and at the end of every summer: the abundance of spare produce from the gardens and farms of friends and co-workers. during the second go-round, you can use the oven to bake the fruit up.

pictured are a baked zucchini, tomato, and pepper that were all surplus from other houses. i baked them with a package of trimmed crimini mushrooms that were on sale at leon's for 99c. (there's some bleu cheese on top on the zucchini, which i'll write about next.) i baked these at 350 for 45 minutes, and then all of it (except the zucchini skins) went into a processor to be pureed into a lovely soup, which was warmed again before serving.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

if you like sparkling water...

target's own archer farms brand has a most pleasantly lightly carbonated sparkling water, for sale for less than two dollars, for the same size of a bottle of pellegrino.

farmers' market favorite of the week: kathy davis

just so you know: the farmers' market at 56th & old cheney ends last saturday in october.

the beaver tail (top picture) from kathy davis' stand is always wonderful, and costs $2 there. it's nice to see a baked, ready-to-eat-and-yet-not-sweet item available for immediate consumption, made with such quality ingredients.

that bottom picture is a lavender pound cake, which i had at an event that kathy davis catered, and then bought again at the farmers' market as a result.

more from wise oven bakery: green apple bread

that little bit of green that you see in that picture is the skin of a green apple, within bread from wise oven bakery in havelock. this bread makes a mean peanut butter breakfast sandwich (bacon preferred) that you actually have for lunch.

take-out review: yia-yia's. the best fast food is a slice

when one lives in a place like lincoln-- where people drive to their parked car, and often through fast food drive-thrus-- one can miss out on my favorite fast food: the slice.

yia yia's might not look like an inexpensive place to grab a slice. but that slice on the right up there... just a regular plain slice... is $2.59. find me something that tastes that good that isn't twice as bad for you (for that price tag) within walking distance of yia yia's. oh, one more caveat: the place serving this food needs to be open in the evenings, and now on sundays.

yia yia's only has thin crust. they have a bunch of toppings to choose from if you want to create your own slice, as happened with the experiment on the left.

like i implied earlier, it's a nice place to eat in, and they have the biggest selection of bottled international beers that i've ever seen in a restaurant. but don't forget that you can call ahead and get slices to go, if you're already downtown and just want some food to take home.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

kung pao shrimp from hy-vee

it's 3.99 for one entree from the chinese hot bar at hy-vee, with steamed or fried rice, egg roll or crab rangoon, and fortune cookie. i had the kung pao shrimp which was, happily, very spicy and full of peanuts.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

one dollar bacon

super saver at 48th & o has best choice pre-cooked bacon for a dollar a 2.1 oz package. probably so cheap because it's dated 9/23-- but still, i won't have any problem going through this package before then.

Monday, September 15, 2008

farmers' market salad: baby romaine and pea shoots

i went to the farmers' market a little late on sunday... still managed to get some shoots and baby romaine from shadowbrook. stopped by red clover for some tempeh, where i also picked up some new salad dressing from bragg's, a sesame ginger flavor that has a complete amino profile. did i mention the local tomatoes? i know i didn't leave out the cooked brown rice.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

wise oven bakery, havelock

so this place has strange hours and great bread. i think it's the only green olive loaf in town.

it's also hard to find. you have to walk through against the wall art gallery to get there.

hours are listed on the label in the picture: wednesday, thursday and saturday from three to six. you could make the most of a trip to havelock if you went on a wednesday night, when you could also go to the farmers' market and pepe's.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

take-out review: pepe's

ever since i read about pepe's in the ground zero, i've wanted to go. if you read the article, you'll want to go too. havelock, my favorite neighborhood in this town, is not that convenient for me to get to at lunch. so my friends and i went for dinner last thursday... and it turns out they're not open for dinner on thursdays, like it says they are in that ljs piece. dinner only on wednesdays, which happens to be the night of the havelock farmers' market (which runs from 3 to 6:30).

so today i had to go pick up lunch. the interior is lovely. fabulous exposed brick, lots of windows, fresh flowers and potted herbs on the tables. the tables also all have books on them about sustainable food and design. this place would fit right in napa valley... if it weren't affordable and unpretentious.

the menu changes daily depending on what produce is available. this order of black bean and vegetable tacos was 4.50 and delicious.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

farmers' market favorite of the week: kohlrabi

there was a lot of kohlrabi at the farmers' market sunday, and it was cheap! this huge bulb was huge and well-trimmed and one dollar.

you can cook kohlrabi, and i might try some stuffed baked kohlrabi soon... but i prepared this one my favorite, easy way. i just peeled (the skin is less than a quarter-inch thick, and this bulb was the size of two fists) and sliced it, and shared it along with some other snacks. in-season kohlrabi has a fresh, light crunchy texture; and mild flavor. (and it's very good for you.)

tangential points of interest: my guesses about the etymology of the name didn't even touch on germany, but that's what it says on wikipedia, so it must be true. also, doesn't that look like a face where the stem was cut? i can't put my finger on who it resembles. it might be robert downey, jr in tropic thunder. (you can click on the picture to see more detail.)

actually, in this picture, the whole bulb itself looks like a deranged triceratops character from sanrio. have they even done dinosaurs yet? not in the brand's traditional cutesy form, as far as i can tell, but a google search of 'sanrio' and 'dinosaur' did lead to this eye-candy i'll share with you.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

green beans, sesame sticks, and steam

when i make green beans, i like to use bacon and shallots. that wouldn't have worked when i recently got a bagful of garden-fresh green beans (thanks, once again, to the green thumbs around me), with a vegan dinner to go to the next night.

i wrote about sesame sticks in salads recently; and i thought i'd try them here, braised with the green beans in some ginger citrus dressing, and then steamed with just enough water to be absorbed by the crunchy sesame sticks. (i threw some hot peppers in as well, chopped large enough to be avoided on the fork and also sink to the bottom of the pan before this picture was taken at lid-off.)

honestly, i'd thought the sticks would break down to a texture like tvp in the cooking process, but they didn't. however, they had a similar size and complementary (spelling intended) color to the beans, so that was a lucky accident. this was salty enough that i'd mix it with some rice next time, though i didn't hear much complaining.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

let us have bread and chocolate

i've seen these chocolate bars for a while now at the mill, and i finally broke down and bought one. dark chocolate with rather salty bits of baguette. very nice flavor. this doesn't appear to be selling as well as the other flavors. more for me? because i am going to buy this again.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

now it's rice cake croutons

my old favorite: broccoli slaw! now with crumbled rice cakes as croutons.

i tossed some yellow tomatoes and lilac peppers in with the slaw, and dressed with some ginger citrus dressing. then, about a half-hour before the salad would be served, tossed in some crumbled rice cakes. shooting for their absorption of dressing making them not too crunchy, not too soggy.

and yes, i made the salad in a ziploc bag, since it needed to be portable. that worked out well for transport; but if you try this, you have to ask for a bowl to serve it in when you get there.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

purple pepper preparation

make this three times real fast!

so, purple peppers (called lilac peppers, and i've written about them before) are unusual looking peppers; until you cut them up and put them in a salad, when they take on the appearance of red cabbage--with a very different flavor, of course, but they've lost their visual punch. so, i recommend using them for stuffed peppers, if you want whomever you're serving to realize what they're getting.

which i'll remember for next time.

by the way, these were 75c each at the farmers' market, so that's cheaper than green bells at the grocery store right now.

the other thing i was looking for at the farmers' market, and what i bought instead

i was looking for the yellow cherry tomatoes in the bottom picture, which go for 3.50 a container. but, like i said below, i got there at noon and they were sold out.

another vendor had those peach tomatoes in the photo up top. i think people passed them by because they thought they were sickly-looking peaches (compared to the other ones at the market)... not a yellow tomato with a blush and a good flavor.

they didn't work in the recipe the same way that the cherry tomatoes would have, with their different structure, but the flavor made me remember what tomatoes can taste like. those six tomatoes cost $2.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

my favorite thing from the farmers' market this week: heads of baby romaine lettuce

so i didn't get to the market until noon on sunday, and the two things i had intended to buy were sold out. the shadowbrook stand was out of pea shoots-- which didn't surprise me since i was running late-- but they did have something i hadn't noticed there before. full heads of baby romaine lettuce, about the size of an adult hand.

to use them in a way that maximized their small size, i chose a flavor inspired by the lettuce-wrapped snack you might have had in thai restaurants. i soaked the heads in cold water to release any lingering dirt or critters (i found very little), then took off the outer leaves which i reserved for later use. in another bowl, i mixed together a couple of chopped peaches and half a diced onion with equal parts sriracha and agave nectar. after that mixture (bottom picture) sat for about an hour, i stuffed some into these little heads of lettuce (top picture).

this turned out remarkably well, for taking such shortcuts with technique in creating the flavor. (i wish i had had some chopped peanuts for this.) the structure of the small head of romaine makes a perfect delivery device for whatever filling you choose. i'm going to buy these again to experiment further.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

pea shoots as salad base

shadowbrook hadn't sold out of their pea shoots by the time i got to the farmers' market last sunday. at 10:15. (it starts at ten.) a quarter pound costs 2.50 and fills most of a re-used produce bag.

i like using them as the base for a salad, and without any other vegetables. i tossed these with some citrus ginger dressing and let sit for about an hour before serving. meanwhile, i mashed, not too much, a package of tofu with some of the same dressing. before serving, i layered the tofu onto the bed of shoots, followed by sliced almonds, black sesame seeds, and one last dash of dressing.

this was a healthy salad that served eight (as part of a larger meal, of course) and cost less than five dollars.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

mori-nu tofu only 1.29 at wagner's

still not sure why this is so cheap there; there being wagner's at 33rd & a. i think this is around half the price of anywhere else in town. the tofu is in the produce section; refrigerated, even though it's shelf-stable for a year or two.

i never noticed the packaging had a picture of lasagna on it. fantastic! vegan velveeta!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

cheese curds at the dairy store

while not as common in this part of midwest, fresh cheese curds are a popular snack in areas with large cheese- production operations. these are cheddar cheese curds from the dairy store at unl's east campus, and i bought them today. they're the curds that could be pressed into the familiar block form, and aged to a more mature cheddar flavor. they're lighter, saltier, and more fun.

since these are fresh in format (so fresh since they're produced in the building you're buying them in), they're not available every day. which of course makes them even more fun. i'll post with more warning next time. if you know someone in town that grew up in dairyland, usa, you might want to let them know a favorite childhood snack will pop up again soon. the half pound above: two dollars.

Monday, August 11, 2008

farmers' market postcards to you

i'll take a picture of it all after cooking, but all this produce is so pretty, i had to post some food pr0n.

it was a great farmers' market yesterday morning. the recent ridiculously hot weather meant all kinds of fantastic produce, yet the weather yesterday was much more temperate, which made the browsing much more enjoyable. top: lemongrass, okra and leeks. bottom: more eggplant, purple bell peppers, some fresh beans in the prettiest pods.

also got some yellow cherry tomatoes that deserve their own post.