Wednesday, August 10, 2011

WIAW: The Newlywed Edition

The last time I did a WIAW post, I was in the final countdown to leaving for my wedding and honeymoon -- and oy gevault, was I ever busy.  It was kind of absurd.

The frenetic pace paid off, though: the wedding was fantastic, I had an awesome time, the honeymoon was fabulous, and I'm now back in DC getting to know all our new and fabulous kitchen appliances.

Let me explain why I'm waxing poetic about hardware: while some women say they've been planning their weddings since they were little girls, I'm not among them.  Instead, I've been planning my registry.  Starting when I was about 20, I realized how much I love to cook.  Throughout my 20s, I stumbled across all manner of kitchen gadgetry that I knew I'd use, but totally couldn't afford to buy for myself.

What's a girl to do when she knows she'd get good mileage out of a badass food processor, but she'd have to give up, y'know, actual food in order to afford that food processor?  She makes a mental list for her future wedding registry.  And she adds to it.  Some women clip out magazine pictures and make a concept board for their eventual weddings, but not I, my friends.  Not I.  I just drooled excessively over every Williams-Sonoma catalog I ever laid eyes upon.

So now that I have so many new and wonderful kitchen gadgets, I intend to use the everliving sh*t out of them.  Some feature prominently in this week's WIAW -- hosted by the ever-lovely Jenn from Peas and Crayons, this gig is the best pot-luck on the Interwebz.

I was up bright and early in order to take my newly-minted husband to the airport (boooo!).  A mere 10 days after the wedding, he's being sent overseas for work.  (*Shakes fist at The Man for this grievous act of husband thievery.*)  Thankfully he'll only be gone for a few days, but still.  Phneh.  Not a fan.

Anyways, I and my trusty caffeine addiction turned to our favorite new and uber-fabulous member of the kitchen family: the espresso machine.  Sweet Jesus, I friggin' love this thing.

Youuuu are so beauuutifullll, to meeeeeeee...

Hubs and I left for the airport shortly thereafter, and by the time I got back, I was starving.  I would've shanked a malnourished Somalian for some food.  Thankfully it didn't come to that (clearly), but I was surprised to find that my usual breakfast of Greek yogurt and fruit just didn't float my boat.  I abandoned that plan for a smoothie:

This can only be described as a ludicrous volume of frozen strawberries,
banana, and mango blended with almond milk and agave.
I headed for work, where I soon dove into my snack of pistachios and green tea.

Because I'm lame, I always get really excited about the arrival of lunchtime.  Like, I should probably be embarrassed by how I excited I get.  I sit there at my desk, forcing myself to wait until noon, and then make a frantic dash to the microwave to cook my GF burrito (which I then eat with 2 cups of baby greens).

Good folks of Amy's Organics: thank you, thank you, thank you for creating these.
I lurve them.
The Greek yogurt and fruit made their triumphant return as an afternoon snack, as did an apple (it got left out of the photoshoot, and I'm sure the core is in the trash and crying as I type this).

After getting home and getting my sweat on at the gym, I was stoked to try out some new ingredients I found at the grocery store this weekend: Thai stir-fry oil and dried Thai basil.  I have an undying love of Thai food, so I was giddy when I brought these home.  Combine that with our brand-new wok that was begging to be broken in, and...Thai stir-fry it was!

Thai Stir Fry
3/4 C Pre-cooked brown rice
1 Packet frozen veggies (I used snow peas, carrots, and broccoli)
1-2 Tablespoons stir fry oil (peanut oil also works well here)
1/2 package tofu
Seasonings: you can use peanut sauce, tamari sauce, sweet and sour -- whatever strikes your fancy!

Cube the tofu and brown it in the wok

Once it starts to brown, add the veggies and rice and combine until everything is cooked through and hot.

Add seasoning/sauce to taste (I used San-J GF peanut sauce, and it's fantasic), serve, and dig in!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Mom's Favorite Macaroons (Or, "All Hail the Kitchen-Aid")

My mom's birthday happened to fall the weekend before I left DC for the wedding and honeymoon.  Knowing that I would see her soon after her birthday, I decided to make her favorite cookie -- almond macaroons -- as a birthday gift.

However, in the midst of laundry, packing for two weeks in two different climates, last minute wedding logistics, wrapping up projects at work, and cleaning, I realized that this was nothing short of being masochistically over-ambitious.

Which I'm prone to doing sometimes.  I'm just a little bit Type-A.

But hey, I decided, sleep is for the weak!  (False.)  I can sleep on the honeymoon!  (Also false.)  It's time to bake!  (True.)

Happily, just as I had decided to make the aforementioned macaroons, my fiance (now hubs!) went to get the mail, and with what did he return?  An effing Kitchen-Aid mixer.  The one we registered for.  The professional-grade, no-sh*t, gorgeous Kitchen-Aid.  My best friend's mom bought it for us.  I nearly had heart palpitations at the very sight of it.

Now, some background on my love of the Kitchen-Aid mixer: for approximately a decade now, that thing has been, for me, the holy grail of kitchen appliances.  I have coveted it, drooled over it, stood in department stores gazing dreamily at it.  Judaism has the Western Wall, but in my home the Kitchen Aid mixer is the holy of holies. 

I decided that the Kitchen Aid had to be unpacked and properly worshiped before it could be put to use in pursuit of macaroons.

I'm not worthy!
Prayers and supplication 

After getting it up and running, it was...bakin' time.  Since this was my first time making almond macaroons since my parents and I found out about our glutardation, I found this recipe on The Gluten-Free Guide and modified it a bit.  I used almond flour (Bob's Red Mill FTW!) instead of whole almonds, added vanilla extract to complement the almond extract, and sprinkled vanilla sugar on top before baking them.

Mom's Favorite Macaroons

3 Cups Bob's Red Mill Almond Flour
1 1/2 Cups granulated sugar
3 egg whites
1 1/4 teaspoons almond extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Vanilla sugar to taste (optional)

Mix all but the vanilla sugar until you form a thick paste (and believe me, it's definitely a paste -- if it's runny, add more almond flour).

The holy of holies, in action
Scoop out the paste onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Each cookie should contain about a tablespoon's worth of paste.  If you're using the vanilla sugar, now's the time to sprinkle it on.

Oh hay, Hans.

Bake at 325 degrees for 20-25 minutes until golden brown, then set them out on a rack to cool. 

And, if you're like me and happen to have the impulse control of a 3-year-old when faced with cookies, steal a few just to make sure they'll make an acceptable birthday present.