Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Beet Salad with Couscous

Happy Wednesday, internet friends!

I was having a little trouble deciding what to make for this week's recipe. I wasn't feeling particularly inspired, and didn't have anything specific in mind. I was nursing a bit of a karaoke related hangover yesterday, so that may have contributed to my lack of ideas. So, I went to the store to look around and get a little inspiration. Cruising through the produce department, I spotted some gigantic beautiful beets, about the size of large grapefruits. 

Seriously, look at these gorgeous bastards:

Beets are one of my absolute favorite vegetables, and I always describe them as dirt candy. (There was a girl on Iron Chef America recently who has a restaurant by that name, cementing my suspicion that there is truly nothing that hasn't already been thought of by someone else.) Anyhow, I love the earthy, dirty, sweet flavor of beets and I would basically eat them any which way. Maybe I'll finally try pickling some this summer - stay tuned! When I got home from the store, I was still sort of struggling with what to actually make with them, so I did the best thing one can do in these situations and just looked through what I already had in my fridge and pantry. I love doing this - it's like your own mini version of Chopped. I had some couscous in the cupboard (this salad would also be good with quinoa, which is what I wanted to make, but tragically, was out), and an onion and mint in the fridge. I settled on a nice couscous and roasted beet salad, and sent the ever supportive and amazing Dallas back out to the store to pick up some citrus, feta, a sweet potato, and a diet coke. The coke isn't necessary for the recipe ;).

This salad is really along the lines of what I cook on a regular basis, it's easy, healthy, and you get to sit down while the veggies and couscous are cooking so it's great to make after work! It also tastes great hot or cold, and makes nice leftovers to take to work throughout the week.

Here's the recipe, I hope you all enjoy!

Couscous and Roasted Beet Salad with Three Citrus Dressing


  • Two large beets. I used one golden and one purple
  • One large sweet potato
  • One quarter of a white onion, sliced
  • One half cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • One cup couscous, cooked to package directions

  • Juice and zest of a lemon, lime, and orange
  • 4 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/2 Tsp Paprika
  • 1 tbsp Fresh Mint, Julienned (just means to cut into thin strips)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Wash and peel the beets and sweet potato, and cut into aprox. 1-inch cubes.
  3. Place all your root veggies into an oven safe dish along with the onion. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  4. Place into the preheated oven, and roast for about a half hour, or until tender and slightly charred around the edges.
  5. While the veggies are in, cook your couscous according to the package. I usually just throw mine in the rice cooker.
  6. Next prepare the dressing. Zest the orange, lemon, and lime, and squeeze out all that delicious juice. Add salt, pepper, and paprika, and then whisk it all together while slowly drizzling in the olive oil.
  7. Now all you have to do is let it all cool down a little bit, and mix it all together. (and eat it!)

Thanks for checking me out once again, and in conclusion:


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Cream Cheese Brownies with Stout

I hadn't intended on making these brownies the focus of this week's post, but they turned out so damn good, I just couldn't help myself. We have an event at work with Pike Brewery coming up next month, and I became obsessed with the idea of making a brownie with their XXXX Stout. I'd seen Guinness cakes and things like that before, that's not quite what I had in mind. I wanted something a little more dense and rich, because the XXXX Stout packs a punch; it's dark and much hoppier than Guinness. The brownies end up a bit on the cakey side, but still quite decadent and the stout sticks around just enough to remind you it's there.

I found a cream cheese brownie recipe that I copied down from someplace or the other about four years ago, and I thought I could tweak it to make it fit my idea quite nicely. I thought I might end up having to make a few batches until I could find the right balance, but lucky for me, the first one turned out pretty awesome. I naively thought that one batch would be enough for me and Dallas, AND to share with my coworkers tomorrow, but what a fool I was. Two days later, and they're all but destroyed. Dallas "isn't even a sweets guy", but he definitely liked these bad boys. Lucky for us, they're quick and easy to whip up, and I forgot to take pictures the first time anyway.

So here goes batch number two of:

Cream Cheese Brownies with Pike XXXX Stout


Brownie Layer:

  • One cup Pike XXXX Stout
  • 4 oz Semisweet Chocolate, chopped
  • 1 1/3 Cup Brown Sugar, divided
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1/2 Cup Butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup All Purpose Flour
  • 1 tsp Salt (I used a course sea salt, for a crunchy, salty surprise!)
Cream Cheese Layer:

  • 8 oz (1 package) Cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup Brown Sugar
  • 1 egg


  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Place Beer in a pot on medium heat, add 1/3 cup brown sugar and reduce by half. This should take about twenty minutes. (The beer mixture will be thick enough to coat a spoon.)
  3. While the beer is reducing, you'll have time to mix up the cream cheese layer. Just simply beat the cream cheese, egg, and sugar together until fully incorporated. (You'll also have time to drink some of that leftover stout too if you so choose, I chose that.)
    A food processor totally isn't necessary, but I have one and was feeling lazy.
  4. Once the beer is fully reduced (to be on the safe side, measure to make so you have a half cup of liquid) remove the pan from heat, and pour into a bowl.
  5. Add the chocolate and stir until it's melted. The liquid will be warm enough to melt the chocolate so you won't have to mess around with double boilers or any of that. 
  6.  Add the eggs, sugar and butter. Beat until incorporated. 
  7. Add flour and salt last, and beat until the mixture is nice and smooth.
  8. Pour batter into a greased 8x8 pan.
  9. Spoon the cream cheese mixture over the top of the batter, do not stir.
    Looks weird now, but just hang in there.
  10. Use a knife to draw a few lines through batter. This will mix them up just enough, and make it look real pretty.
    Still looks kind of weird...
  11. Now we're done! Just bake it for thirty minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean from the middle, and let cool completely. (Or don't and burn your mouth cause you just can't wait, like I did.)

Thanks for coming back, and once again, if you make the recipe let me know how it turns out!!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Asparagus Pesto

Welcome back, and thanks a million for checking me out!

Our weather this week has been incredible, and it’s getting me really excited for summer and all the local produce that comes along with it. It’s easy to forget how beautiful it is here in the PNW through the long rainy months, but when it’s warm (87 degrees in May?! Hello, climate change), and we begin to see locally harvested fruits and vegetables that all becomes worthwhile.  It’s still pretty early in the season and most everything is being brought in, but we do have locally grown Asparagus!

Asparagus is one of my all-time favorite foods, and one of the vegetables I actually remember liking as a painfully picky child. Normally, I just trim off the ends, drizzle with a little olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and pop it in the oven until its super crispy and almost burned. Never boil, never steam. I know some people like it that way, but I am perfectly convinced that the reason so many people think they don’t like vegetables is because they have never tried them roasted.

Anyhow, back to the recipe. I didn’t just want to roast asparagus because that’s boring.  Also, you guys are not stupid and could figure out how to do that yourselves. So I got to thinking about a way to use the ingredient raw to preserve the fresh flavor, and immediately thought of a pesto.

So here it goes:.

Megan’s Toasted Walnut and Asparagus Pesto:

·         6-8 Thick Asparagus stalks (if you have very thin asparagus, use about double)
·          ½ cup toasted walnuts (pine nuts are mad expensive!)
·         ½ cup Italian Parsley (for freshness)
·         2 cloves garlic (more or less to taste)
·         ½ cup freshly grated parmesan (I actually used another Italian cheese called Piave Del Tempo that I already had in my fridge)
·         Juice and zest of half a lemon, or more to taste
·         ¼ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
·         Salt and Pepper to taste

1)      Wash Asparagus (duh), and trim the tough ends. I just snap it off, and it usually breaks right where it needs to. Chop asparagus into approximately one inch pieces.

2)      Toast walnuts by placing them in a dry pan on medium heat. Watch them closely, because they burn quickly, and remove when they become fragrant.

3)      Place all ingredients except olive oil into a food processor. (A stick blender is a nice less expensive option for small jobs like this one.) Scrape down when necessary.

4)      Once all ingredients are incorporated and asparagus is finely minced, drizzle olive oil while pulsing food processor until you have a smooth consistency (adding more than one quarter cup if necessary).

5)      If it looks like this, you’re done! Good job!

This pesto is great on fish, chicken, pasta or incorporated into a salad dressing.

I tried mine out on pasta with crumbled bacon some of that roasted asparagus I was talking about earlier (this pasta can be served hot or cold, and would make excellent leftovers) :

Served right out of the pot so I don't have to do more dishes.

And on a toasted baguette with fresh ricotta:

Garnish with roasted asparagus tips if you have exta.

I hope you guys liked the recipe, and if you decide to make it please let me know how it went!

Thanks for stopping by, and see you next Wednesday.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

First Post.

Welcome to my first ever blog post. 

I decided there weren't enough food related blogs on the internet, so I had better remedy that by starting one of my own. As this is my first entry, I don't have any beautiful photos or recipes to share, but rest assured those are on the way.

I doubt anyone will ever read this who doesn't already know me, but just in case, here's a little back story:  
My name is Megan, I live  in Seattle, and  work doing cooking demonstrations and events at a wonderful local grocery store. I feel incredibly lucky that I get to make a living cooking and talking about food, but I want to share a bit of what I cook, eat, and think about on my off time (and maybe sometimes the music I'm listening to while doing so). My plan is to post every Wednesday, as this is my day off and when I usually have time to cook something aside from roasted chicken and veggies (or order take out).  

That's it for now, but check back this Wednesday (if you feel like it), for my first real post with recipes and everything.

I'll leave you with this :

“This is my invariable advice to people: Learn how to cook- try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun!” 
- The inspirational, incomparable, and timeless Julia Child.