Thursday, April 28, 2011

Brown Guacamole - Yuck!

I got a side of guacamole to eat with some tortilla chips.  Though it was bright green when they dropped it in the sack, by the time I sat down to enjoy it at my cubicle, all the little airpockets had started turning brown.  Fortunately, I thought to grab a few lemon wedges from the drink station when I got my fork and napkins!

So, here's the tip: squeeze some lemon juice into your guacamole to keep it from turning brown.
Ratio: 1-2 tsp lemon juice / 1 cup of avocado (guacamole)

I don't know exactly how lemon juice delays the oxidation.  It's got something to do with how the ascorbic acid from the lemon juice (or any other fresh citrus juice) interacts with the oxygen in the air.  My friend Mandy the science gal could probably explain it. 

I do know that this works on all fruits that turn brown when exposed to air -- yes, avocado is a fruit, as are tomatoes, pumpkins, squash, etc.

The lemon wedges they serve with iced tea and water come in very handy when I want to take home my guacamole without it turning brown.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Almond Chicken Asparagus

On my last visit, my dear friend Tiffany took me Blue Koi on trendy 39th St. in KC. There, I fell in love with pan-friend dumplings and this rice dish. The menu description: Fresh asparagus in harmony with sautéed chicken breast marinated in garlic mayonnaise with sun dried tomatoes. It was so good, I got home and figured out the recipe. (I was also impressed that the take home containers are compostable.) Voila!

Almond Chicken Asparagus (serves 4)
¼ c mayonnaise
4 cloves garlic
½ tsp salt
Ground pepper to taste
4 boneless chicken breasts
Small bunch of tender green asparagus (aprox 8-10 spears)
8 oz mushrooms
¼ c sun dried tomatoes (in oil or dry)
¼ - ½ c toasted slivered almonds (according to taste)
2 cups rice

The night before:
In a large bowl, add garlic cloves (mince with a knife or use a garlic press) into mayonnaise and mix with salt and pepper. Set aside. Cut chicken into 1inch pieces. Cut asparagus into 1 ½ inch. Slice mushrooms into thick slices. Make sure sun dried tomatoes are cut in strips and add to mayonnaise. Mix all together so everything is coated with mayonnaise and refrigerate overnight.

20 minute preparation:
Prepare rice according to preference. I use a rice cooker; add rice, 4 c hot water and 1 tsp salt. Button pops up when done!

Heat large pan over medium-hot heat. Add chicken mixture all at once pressing chicken pieces into the bottom of the hot pan. After a couple of minutes – once bottom of chicken is golden – stir around, turning chicken over - tongs work great for this! Cover and lower heat to medium for 2 minutes. When the white mayonnaise is gone, sprinkle almonds over top and remove from heat. Serve over rice and enjoy!

The restaurant’s version did not include mushrooms, but you should be catching on that I’m addicted to them.

The picture above is from Blue Koi’s website and, no your eyes aren’t playing tricks, that’s the shrimp version.

Mayonnaise makes a great marinade base. It's basically eggs and oil, so you don't need to add oil and it cooks up golden. Also, it coats food better than a liquid marinade and it doesn't break down food like usual acidy or vinegary marinades.

Rice cooker -If you like rice, I highly suggest you invest in a rice cooker. You don't have to get a high-end one, but make sure it's big enough for your family size.

Toast Almonds - as your pan is heating dump in the almonds and stir them around until they are golden brown.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Erin's Ramen Soup

I'm not a big fan of ramen, but I am a big fan of easy quick preparations. I don't often plan meals ahead. When I get hungry I want to eat, not watch something cook. Besides, sometimes I just crave that ramen flavor that takes me back to college days. So, I always have a couple of packets on hand.

Another couple items I like to keep on hand are mushrooms and zucchini. You can add them to just about anything.

Here's what I came up with one cold day when I was craving french fries. It's a "healthier" alternative to fries since my true craving is salt*. Also, this is a great recipe for when you have a cold. And it only takes as long as it takes to boil the water... almost.

Erin's Ramen Soup (1 adult serving, 2 kid servings)

1 pkg ramen (any flavor - I like chicken)
2 cups water
1/2 small zucchini, sliced
3 mushrooms, sliced
1 green onion, sliced
1/2 lemon or lime

  1. Boil the 2 cups of water - electric kettles are great for this.
  2. While water is heating and before opening the ramen package, crumble the noodles with a heavy mug or rolling pin. Don't crumble too small, but really, it's up to you.
  3. Empty the crumbled noodles into the biggest bowl or mug you can find. Remove the flavor packet.
  4. Throw in your sliced zuchini, mushrooms, and onion.
  5. Sprinkle the flavor packet contents on top.
  6. Squeeze juice from the lemon or lime over the top, removing any seeds or use a strainer if you're averse to the pulp.
  7. Pour boiling water over the top until noodles are covered.
  8. Cover bowl/mug with a plate for 3-5 min.
  9. Stir and enjoy!
I knew a girl in jr high that had hair like this.
Traditional (mushy) preparation (less steps, but takes longer)

  1. Boil water in saucepan.
  2. Once water boils, add noodles and all other ingredients.
  3. Cook for 3 minutes.
  4. Serve.

*Craving salt is usually an indicator that you are de-hydrated. Drink up!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Easy Way to Dry Delicates

This is my first "other stuff" post! Over lunch one day, Ling brought up a laundry frustration. One of her favorite tops has a beaded front and is "hand wash only". That's no problem. Swish it around in a tub with some gentle detergent and let soak for at least 15 min. Then rinse till water runs clear. Now here's the problem: how do you dry it? You can't stick it in the dryer. You don't have an elevated flat surface that will allow the water to drip off (and how long does that take anyway?) If you hang it up it'll stretch with the weight of the water, even if you wring it out first. I learned this easy technique for knitting.

  1. Gently squeeze out excess water from your garment. Don't wring it. I usually gather up the top and raise it up letting the water drain back into tub, sink, etc. Then, I squeeze my fists as hard as I can, slowly moving hand over hand down the garment -- it's backwards what kids do with a baseball bat.

  2. Repeat if garment is still dripping. (Note: if dripping water isn't clear, you may need to re-wash)

  3. Place a large, clean towel on the floor. Use a dark towel if rinse water wasn't clear.

  4. Spread out garment on the towel. Fold in so it only covers half the towel.

  5. Fold the towel over the garment and roll it up.

  6. Stand on the towel. Carefull, walk up and down the full length of the roll. If a lot of water soaks through, you'll want to repeat from #3 with a dry towel.

  7. Unroll and hang to dry. Toss the towel in the dryer and it's ready for use again. If the garment is still too heavy, you can drape it over a few chairs or the back of a sofa (with towel underneath).

Wow, I might have gotten way to detailed for you.

Basically, squeeze/roll/stand/unroll/hang.

One last note: I found a wool wash that doesn't require rinsing. I use it for all my delicates, including my bras. Just soak for 30 min and squeeze out the water. You can find it here: