25 Books in 2010

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Because, really, I don't have enough to do, right?

But I actually enjoy reading. Call me a nerd, but I look forward to that last half-hour prior to passing out at midnight (that New Year's Resolution about going to bed earlier is really not working in my favor) when I snuggle up in bed with a good book and shut out the world.

Luckily, I'm already one down, twenty-four to go. And I highly recommend the book I just polished off,
The Help. Up next? Sarah's Key.

Here's to more novel-reading, and less reality TV in 2010.

Who am I kidding. I can fit in both!

A Faith-Style Welcome Wagon: Shrimp Risotto with Chive Gremolata

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Sounds fancy and difficult, no? It's fancy, but with some time and a cold glass of Chardonnay, this dish is easy to whip up on a weeknight. I had a few girls over last week to welcome Meaghan, my new, fabulous next-door neighbor, and Lindsay, a friend I met in boot camp who just moved in around the corner, to the 'hood.

I swear, I'm never moving off this street. I'm surrounded by cool people. It's like a Fun Person Commune right in the heart of Sacramento. Only we shave our armpits and go to work everyday.

Don't be afraid of the fact that this requires making your own stock! Easy as 1-2-3 (or 1-2-4, as Dick Clark might say) (oh, yes I did) and tasty as all get-out.

Shrimp Risotto with Chive Gremolata

adapted from Cuisine at Home

For the Shrimp Stock-
1 lb. medium shrimp (just buy it cooked)
2 cups water
1½ cups chicken broth
1 cup chopped leek greens (tops)
9 black peppercorns
4 fresh parsley sprigs
2 bay leaves

For the Risotto-
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 cup chopped leeks
1 cup Arborio rice
¾ cup dry sherry
1 cup frozen peas
1 tsp. kosher salt
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
½ tsp. ground nutmeg
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese

Separate shrimp meat from tails; set shrimp aside. Place tail shells and remaining stock ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer stock for 10 minutes. Strain stock through a colander into a bowl; discard solids. Return stock to saucepan over low heat.

Melt 2 Tbsp. butter in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add leeks; sauté 2 minutes, then stir in rice and sauté 2 minutes. Do not allow rice or leeks to brown.

Deglaze pan with sherry, stirring frequently until liquid evaporates. Add ½ cup at a time until all stock is used and rice is tender, 20-25 minutes.

Stir in the peas and shrimp and cook until shrimp are pink and firm, about 5 minutes. Season risotto with salt, cayenne and nutmeg.

Off heat, add butter and Parmesan. Garnish with Chive Gremolata (see recipe below).

.:. Chive Gremolata .:. - yum. Do not skip this. For that matter, don't ever skip anything with bacon it it, fool.

3 strips thick-sliced bacon, diced
2 Tbsp. snipped fresh chives
2 Tbsp. minced lemon zest
½ tsp. minced garlic
Salt to taste

Popeye Has Nothing on Me: Introducing the Green Monster

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Many of you may scoff at my new 3x/week breakfast. Some of you may even get that twingey, my-lunch-is-about-to-make-a-reappearance feeling in your throat. I'm imagining, however, that if you read food blogs, you're open to trying new stuff. And by new stuff, I'm straight up talking about my latest obsession, The Green Monster.

I'm going to make you a quick promise here: YOU WON'T TASTE THE SPINACH IN THIS!

Try it. Just once. Not only do these taste great like whoa, their nutritional value is off the charts. I did the math (doozie. I need to stick to writing from here on out, peeps), and you're looking at 371 calories and 35 grams of fat, which as a breakfast in the morning will easily be burned off throughout your day. Most of the fat grams are obtained from the flax meal, but the benefits far outweigh the fat content - flax is seriously chock FULL of omega-3s and lignans (fight that cancer, baby). It has a nutty flavor that calms down the spinach and leaves your tastebuds happy.

The Original Green Monster

2 cups fresh spinach
1-1.25 cups milk (your choice of cow’s milk, soy, hemp, almond, rice, etc)
1 tablespoon flax (optional)
1 banana
frozen peaches

The order in which you place the ingredients in the blender is important! Putting in the flax and spinach first will ensure that the rest of the ingredients weigh these two superpowers down so they don't fly all over the dang place inside your blender. So stick those in first, then cut up the banana into the machine, add your milk and then your frozen fruit of choice. Blend, baby. Blend.

Side note: I used frozen peaches for my first Green Monster. This morning, I chose blueberries (wicked good.) Feel free to go crazy, as long as you either use a frozen fruit or ice. This thingamabobber tastes far better cold!

Must Try It: A Savory Dressing and a Healthy(ish) Snack

Saturday, January 9, 2010

This starts a new little part of I Pray to Gouda...the "Try It" posts. As I continue on a journey of leading a more healthy lifestyle, I pick up ideas from other blogs or while on a hunt at The Nugget that either to turn out to be really good or damn bad (I'm still trying to put that Tofurkey grossness behind me.

Along with Clif Mojo bars, Vitamin Water , Sandwich Thins and tasty teas, here are two more products I think you just might love. I know my cold, dead heart does. Annie's Shiitake & Sesame Drrssing is organic, lowfat and plain fabulous. I'm hoping to use it as a marinade soon. Two for da price of one, baby!

Popchips? Popchips are A.MAY.ZZIING. Not baked. Not fried. 2010 is all about poppin', baby. I will say that the plain Popchips are a bit salty for me, but I love them regardless. My main problem? I can't find half of their flavors in the stores. I'd love to try the Parmesan, or the Salt and Pepper, or the Cheddar...but even in my California metropolitan city, I can't get my dang hands on the things. Sigh!

How to Thank a Handyman: Hearty Green Chili

When a nice boy comes over to spend a hearty chunk of time unplugging your bathtub drain and doesn't even subject you to the gross, giGANtic clump of hair that led to the problem (seriously, I could have made a new person out of that hairball), you feed him a hearty chili. I doubt you'll find that rule in Emily Post's book of etiquette, but once I come out with my own bestseller, it will undoubtedly be in the first chapter.

The making of this green chili is a tad unconventional, but I have no doubt you'll be amazed by the product. The blended tortilla chips add a salty nuttiness to the chili, thickening it and giving it a unique flavor.

(No, I did not let some random dude in off the street to play plumber and then cook him dinner. That's Tim, the boyfriend. Tim, meet blog followers, blog followers, meet the newest Faith's Kitchen Taste Tester.)

Green Chili
1 quart chicken broth
1-1/4 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
4 large handfuls tortilla chips, plus more for serving
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 bunch scallions, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons ground cumin
One 15-ounce can small red beans, drained
1 cup jarred green salsa

In a deep skillet, bring the chicken broth and chicken breasts to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce the heat slightly and poach the chicken, turning occasionally, until just cooked through, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken to a plate and let cool.Crumble the 4 handfuls of tortilla chips into a food processor and add 3 cups of the hot broth; let sit to soften. Reserve the remaining 1 cup broth.

In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat and add the scallions, oregano and cumin; cook until the scallions are softened, about 2 minutes. Pour the remaining cup of broth into the scallion mixture, then stir in the beans and salsa and bring to a simmer.
Puree the chips and broth in the food processor until smooth, then whisk the chip mixture into the bean mixture. Shred the chicken, add to the chili and cook over medium-low heat, stirring, until heated through. Serve with extra tortilla chips.