Things I’m Digging…

16

Posted on Apr 10, 2014 in Lifestyle

flower stock

1 Bulbs. You know what are amazing? Bulbs. You take a few minutes to plant them in the Fall. And then do nothing to them, and magically, they pop up in the Spring (just when you think you’re never going to see another flower again) and give you all kinds of pretty, pretty flowers year-after-year. People think gardening (veggie and flowers) is complicated, but planting a couple hundred bulbs is pretty much easiest, quickest way to get beautiful flowers and color in your yard in the Spring (and for years to come). Seriously, anyone can plant and grow some daffodil, tulip, crocus and hyacinth bulbs. Do it this Fall. I promise it’ll make your Spring next year so much happier.

me hair

2 My shorter hair. On a whim last week, I drove to the local cosmetology school and asked them to chop off 12+ inches of hair. Best. Decision. Ever. I was hemming and hawing about paying for an expensive haircut for months (I really hate spending that money), and it just meant that I spent months with hair that was way-too-long, way-too-fried, and way-too-scraggly. The truth is, I’m really laid back about my hair, so an $8 haircut from the beauty school is a perfect fit for me. Heck, I even splurged and added on a deep conditioning treatment and a scalp massage. Grand total with tip? $20. And I’m thrilled with my ready-for-summer hair.

acure

3 The entire Acure line. Last TID post, I told you how obsessed I was with my Acure Day Cream, well, my Acure obsession has spread. I’m now totally into their entire line of beauty products. It breaks my frugal heart a little bit to be so into a not-so-cheap line of beauty products, but I don’t feel so bad about it considering Acure is a family-run company out of Florida, and they make all-organic products. Oh, and their products rock! They smell amazing and work incredibly well (and they’re well-rated on the Skin Deep database). Obsessed.

diaper bag

4 SkipHop Duo Diaper Bag. Admittedly, I have yet to start using this bag as a diaper bag, but I am using it as an everyday bag, and I’m totally obsessed with it. I started carrying it around mostly because third trimester=hungry all the time. And hungry all the time=need to pack more snacks. And need to pack more snacks=need a bigger bag. I love all the pockets and spots for things. I love that it doesn’t look like a diaper bag. I love that it’s big enough to fit everything I need (and lots more) but not so big that I feel like I’m carrying a suitcase. I can see us using this bag long after we’re through the diaper stage. In fact, I recommend it as an awesome messenger bag for childfree folks. It would make an amazing bag for school or work. Love.

barn grass

5 Green grass. Sweet, glorious, green grass! We’ve had a ton of rain over the past week, and while it’s caused some issues (mudslides and flooding!), a really awesome pro of all that water is the grass is finally growing. Yay! I always get so excited when the grass starts growing. And then I remember we have to mow about five acres of it every week for the next six months…

What are you digging lately?

California Roll Amaranth Salad

11

Posted on Apr 9, 2014 in Food

amaranth salad

Creativity is an interesting thing. It can be easy to assume that there is a limited amount of creativity that each person has (that’s why you hear lots of folks saying, “I’m not a creative person!”), but as someone who works everyday in multiple creative fields, I can tell you that isn’t true at all. Creativity isn’t goo in a bucket, and when you’ve used up that goo, your bucket is empty. Creativity is more like a muscle. The more you work it and use it, the stronger it gets. Sure, you can get burnt out—just like you can overtrain a muscle—but for the most part, the more creative work you do, the easier creative ideas come.

And the proof is in the practice. I absolutely get my most creative ideas when I’m working on other highly-creative and highly-intensive projects. Like now, I’m working on recipe development for my second cookbook. You’d think with cooking, writing and photographing 4-5 recipes a day, I’d be totally burnt out. But the opposite is true. The whole process has my creative juices flowing so much, that I actually struggle to keep up with the stream of ideas. In fact, I have a separate notebook I keep just to jot down ideas I come up with to explore later.

amaranth salad

So what does that have to do with this amaranth salad? Well, it’s a perfect example of this creative windfall that comes from working on my cookbook. There is a Mexican-inspired amaranth salad recipe in my new cookbook. And it’s amazing (really, crazy amazing). It has spicy peppers, fresh tomatoes, creamy avocado, a ton of cilantro and a really amazing lime dressing. Craig and I both absolutely flipped for it when we tried it the first time.

Such success with one amaranth salad got me thinking about other grain-based salads I could make, and as I was tossing those ideas around in my noggin, Craig said something that set the creativity on fire. He said, “You know what? This doesn’t have the taste of one, but it almost has the texture of a California Roll.” And he was totally right. I’m not a big sushi fan (another story for another time), but I’ve been able to get behind a California Roll or two, and this amaranth salad did have the same feeling as a California Roll. The amaranth was sticky and tender. The avocado creamy and smooth. And the spicy peppers gave that touch of heat you get from wasabi. I knew I had to make a new version of the amaranth salad, and this time really embrace the California Roll theme. So I headed back to the kitchen, whipped up another batch of amaranth and mixed in crab meat, avocado chunks, cucumber, sesame seeds, and really flavorful sesame-lemon dressing. And the result was amazing! Even I, Ms. Sushi Hater loved this salad. And if you’re a big sushi fan, you can easily up the sushi-ness of it by adding soy sauce, pickled ginger, or even some wasabi paste and nori strips.

Enjoy! And go workout that creative muscle, k?

California Roll Amaranth Salad

Total Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

Yield: 8 servings

Skip rolling your sushi, and instead have the same tastes and textures in this easy-to-make (and easy-to-eat) salad!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 cup amaranth
  • 1 large avocado, diced
  • Juice and zest of one lemon
  • 1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 medium cucumber, diced
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and minced finely
  • 1 cup lump crabmeat
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon tahini
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. In a medium saucepan, bring the broth to a boil over medium-high heat. Whisk in the amaranth, return to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until the amaranth has absorbed all the liquid. Transfer the amaranth to a large mixing bowl.
  2. In a small bowl, toss together the avocado, lemon juice and lemon zest until all avocado chunks are well-coated. Add mixture to the amaranth. Also add in the sesame seeds, cucumber, jalapeño, and crabmeat. Toss to combine, and set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the sesame oil, honey, apple cider vinegar, tahini, salt and pepper. Pour over the amaranth mixture and toss to combine. Refrigerate for at least an hour to allow flavors to meld before serving.
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Notes

  • Amaranth is an awesome gluten-free, inexpensive, whole grain that you can often find in the bulk bins at your local health food store. If you can’t track any down, feel free to sub in the same amount of quinoa for a similar texture and flavor.
  • Lump crab meat can be expensive (and hard to track down for those of us who are landlocked), feel free to sub in imitation crab meat—which is usually actually made from whitefish. Just make sure to check the ingredients first, many of the imitation brands are packed with artificial colors, artificial flavors and preservatives.
  • To make this feel even more “sushi-like” you can add in pickled ginger, wasabi paste, soy sauce and even small strips of nori.

Do you consider yourself a creative person?