Friday, June 24, 2011

Summer of Smoothies

Summer’s finally here in all its sticky, steamy glory. Pretty soon it’s going to be too hot to eat anything other than ice, but after a too-long, too-gray spring I’m applying plenty of sunscreen and telling Mother Nature to bring it on. 

A piping hot coffee just isn’t how I want to start my morning when it’s necessary to fire up the AC as before I’ve even put in my contact lenses. I’m thinking about the next couple months, in all their sweltering glory, and think it’s time to give the Vitamix blender some love. This is the first installment of a weekly feature I’ll call the Summer of Smoothies. Not quite as ambitious as May’s 31 Days of Salad, but a delicious challenge all the same.

A quick note on portions — when I make a smoothie, it’s gotta be something to last through the morning. What I throw into the blender typically fills a pint glass with a little refresher left over.

First up is a little wonder I’ll call the Banana Blast. My first thought was to call it a Chunky Monkey, but this smoothie is quite smooth and therefore the opposite of chunky. I could have called it the Funky Monkey, but “funky” is near the top of the Words Loryll Absolutely Detests list (other words on the list include “diva” and “tennies” when used to describe footwear). Enough about that though. On to the good stuff!

Banana Blast
2 fresh bananas (it’s OK if they’re a little brown)
8 ice cubes
½ cup honey-flavored Greek yogurt
½ cup chocolate soy milk

Combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth.

Monday, June 13, 2011

A delicious time in Palm Springs

I just spent a too-short weekend in Palm Springs celebrating my good friend Katie’s upcoming nuptials. The dozen of us had an absolute blast in this desert oasis eating, drinking and being merry due to the fact that our girl’s getting hitched.

She's the cheese and I'm the macaroni
We stayed at the Ace Hotel & Swim Club, a hip little joint that feels a bit like the Urban Outfitters of lodging. They’ve got a great pool (open until 2 a.m., brilliant!) where we sipped on all sorts of frosty beverages while working on our tans. A group favorite was the Desert Facial, featuring muddled cucumber and mint, vodka and pineapple juice. The tall boys of Pabst Blue Ribbon ($6) weren’t too shabby, either.

We had a taco party Friday night on Ace’s star-gazing deck. The meal featured all kinds of delicious meats, veggies and other goodies, as well as one of the best ceviches I’ve had.

Prepping the taco table
 I also enjoyed brunch poolside Saturday morning. The Ace Hotel’s restaurant, called the King’s Highway, has a menu packed with tempting dishes. The big ol’ plate of chilaquiles (scrambled eggs, chiles, ranchero sauce, corn tortilla chips and house-made chorizo) I ordered after much deliberation had just the right amount of heat and was just what the doctor ordered after a late night out.

We were in town during Palm Springs Restaurant Week, when top restaurants across the Coachella Valley offer three-course meals for $24 or $36. The menu at Matchbox 369 featured three choices each for starters, main dishes and desserts. My picks were the spicy ahi tempura roll

the “adult” macaroni and cheese (grilled shrimp and andouille sausage, sharp white cheddar and smoky gouda)

and for dessert, chocolate chip bread pudding with caramelized rum bananas.

The collective food coma threatened to slow our group down, but we snapped out of it and ended up dancing the night (and dinner) away.

We could have spent the whole weekend eating nothing more than cheese balls and bean dip and it would have still been the same shenanigans-packed, laugh-until-you-hurt bachelorette party, but the dining experiences were the cherry on top of the sundae of this wonderful whirlwind weekend.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

May 31 Salad: Aaaaaaaand done!

Eating salad for a whole month is delicious yet challenging. There have been some days where the last thing I want to do after work is come up with something fresh and blog-friendly for dinner. I went through a lot of lettuce, tomatoes and English cucumber this month! I ended up making more of my own salad dressings than anticipated (woo!) but also dined out a little more than I could have, given the self-imposed challenge. But still, I ended up with 31 entries and 31 salads, which makes me happy.

With that said, here’s the final dish of One More Taste’s Salad Month. It’s my take on Salade Ni├žoise. I omitted a couple items (didn’t feel like eating potatoes, and didn’t see any eye-catching tomatoes at the supermarket) but did toss something on the plate that’s a little foreign to me — anchovies. Not sure they’re my favorite fish, but I can appreciate why they end up on this salad, as they’re oily and salty and add a good little oomph to the plate.

That delicious carnage in the center of the plate is some grilled tuna, brushed with olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper. Just put that hunka fish on the grill and give it a couple minutes, over high heat, on each side.

The non-fishy components of this salad include romaine lettuce (making use of what’s in the fridge), hard-boiled egg, blanched green (and yellow) beans and a quick dressing made up of (roughly) a tablespoon lemon juice(what I could squeeze out of half a lemon), little less than ¼ cup olive oil (bottom of the bottle) and a couple dashes of salt.

Challenge completed. Great success. Time to go eat a Porterhouse...

May 30 Salad: Throw some lettuce on the barbie?

We celebrated Memorial Day with some grilling, and I’m just talking about burgers. I also grilled some romaine hearts, something I read about in a couple of the cookbooks on loan from the library. I cut a romaine heart down the middle lengthwise, brushed it with a little bit of olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper. You put the romaine on the grill and cook for just a minute or two, turning once, until grill marks appear and lettuce begins to wilt. After removing the romaine from the grill I gave it a course chop and dressed with shaved parmesan and some of the aforementioned orange vinaigrette. The lettuce took on a little bit of smoky flavor with a touch of sweetness, too.