Bacon Avocado and Tomato Sandwiches

July 30, 2010

Dear Martha, How did you know? This is my most favorite sandwich (which is in the What’s for Dinner section of August Living) in the entire world. I’ve been making these for a long time, and also had a truly fantastic one in Hawaii at a little cafe that used local food and it was fantastic.

This is a simple sandwich to make. Cook your bacon (I use organic when I can find it, and nitrate free when I can’t). Toast some bread. I use whole wheat. Martha says to put mayo on the bread. I put honey mustard on one piece and Miracle Whip on the other. Put the bacon on the sandwich (3-4 slices). Add 1/4 of an avocado, sliced. Next slice your tomato. I pick out the seeds and mushy part and then set my slices on a paper towel for a few minutes. This eliminates the exploding tomato problem you can have if your tomato is too wet and drippy. I use two slices per sandwich. Add tomato to the sandwich. Next add some sprouts. I used some mixed sprouts for this. I always add cheese to the sandwich (usually Swiss) but Martha doesn’t. That’s it. The perfect sandwich.

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Dude Martha, Architect

July 29, 2010

Dude Martha took a tech class at school this year. He liked it so much he signed up for an extra curricular tech class where he built an amazing box for Mr. MarthaAndMe to store worms while fishing. He had some extra time at the end of the year and so he whipped up this birdhouse for me. He designed it himself and made the entire project alone. I was so impressed. We put the birdhouse in the backyard, in front of a big tree so I can see it from the kitchen window. Someone tested it out – there are some twigs in there, but no nest so far. We’re hoping someone moves in next spring and has a family for us to enjoy.

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No Bake Brownies

July 28, 2010

Yeah, I scratched my head too. No-bake brownies? The recipe for this is in Aug Living, part of the “no cooking” food section for those of us tired of melting over our stoves. But brownies? Without baking? This I had to try.

You do have to cook the evaporated milk (1 1 /4 cup) and melt the chocolate (12 oz bittersweet) in it and add 1 tsp vanilla. Once this is done, you mix all the dry ingredients (3 cups finely ground chocolate wafers, 2 cups shredded coconut, 1 cup salted peanuts, and 1/2 cup powdered sugar) together into it and pour into a square baking pan that is lined with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least two hours. You’re supposed to top with additional coconut and peanuts but I didn’t). Mine sat overnight in the fridge. As you can see, it didn’t come out of the pan very well. This was more like wet fudge. Yes, it was chocolately and the peanuts and coconut give it some nice texture, but this is not even close to a brownie. There is nothing cakey, fudgy, or chewy about this. Thumbs down. I would not bother making this again. Teen Martha succinctly summed this up. “It’s gross.” So there you have it.

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Martha Mondays: 8/2

July 27, 2010

Lyndsey at Tiny Skillet has chosen Zucchini Lasagna for our next project.  Hope you’ll all be playing along!

Grilled Shrimp Skewers

July 27, 2010

This is a stupid, unimaginative name for what is really an Indian shrimp dish. The recipe is in August Living. So here’s my backstory. My friend Monica Bhide is a true genius and writes the blog A Life of Spice and has a wonderful cookbook called Modern Spice (which I gave to my mom for Christmas). Monica is the modern Indian food guru. Recently on her blog she wrote about someone writing to her and asking for help with Indian food since the writer couldn’t find any she liked. This prompted me to also post and tell Monica that I too have a big problem with Indian food. It all started back in Washington, DC when I was a teen on vacation with my parents. DC has some of the best Indian restaurants in the country and my parents took me to one. I have a very sensitive palate (and digestive system) and hot, spicy food does not work for me. At that restaurant, there was not a single item I was able to eat. I couldn’t even eat the naan they brought to the table. Nada. I ended up grabbing a sandwich at a deli on the way back to the hotel.

As an adult, I’ve avoided Indian food. Whenever I’ve tried something, it is invariably too hot for me. A few years ago on a rare date night, Mr. MarthaAndMe went to an Indian restaurant to give it a try. I threw myself on the waiter’s mercy and explained I could not tolerate spicy food. I wanted to order some chicken tandoori which sounded harmless, but the waiter insisted the sauces are what makes Indian food special, so we let him help us choose. It was all too hot. I ate almost nothing and scrambled for mint, Rolaids, and gum in the car ride home.

I can’t help feeling that there has to be Indian food I could eat and enjoy and Monica was kind enough to suggest some dishes for me. When this recipe for shrimp skewers popped up in August Living, I thought I would give it a try. I severely modified the recipe though, cutting back the curry and cumin to just tiny bits, hoping that I could enjoy the flavor without the burning. I also did not leave the shrimp in their shells since I hate trying to peel them at the table. I didn’t bother putting them on skewers and just grilled them individually.

The verdict? These were pretty good. I went super, super light on the curry and cumin, but I could still taste it without setting my mouth on fire. Dude Martha said it had no flavor and had to go get the ketchup bottle. Teen Martha said it was pretty good. Mr. MarthaAndMe said it was good. So I’ve made a foray into Indian food and I didn’t die in the process, so that is a victory for me! Here are Martha’s ingredients:

3 tbsp lime juice

1 tbsp and 1 tsp curry powder

2 tsp cumin

2 tsp sugar

2 tsp chopped fresh ginger

2 scallions, chopped, white and pale green parts only

2 small garlic cloves

3 tbsp olive oil

20 lg shrimp

Martha says to stick everything but the shrimp in the food processor and cover the shrimp with it. Her recipe says to leave the shells on the shrimp but slit the shells, and stuff the curry underneath the shells and then place them on skewers and grill.

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Martha Mondays: Avocado Chocolate Pudding

July 26, 2010

Today’s Martha Mondays project was chosen by Sarah at Mum in Bloom. Avocado Chocolate Pudding sounded a little scary to me, I must admit, but I was intrigued. Pudding with no dairy? Fascinating. So I gave it a try. My big food processor is broken (and I’m waiting to replace it until after I overspend while we’re on vacation) so I was stuck using my mini Cuisinart, which actually worked well for this. The recipe is pretty simple. Put the dates, avocado, vanilla and cocoa powder in and whiz it up. Then add the water. That’s it. One thing is missing from this recipe – sugar! I tasted it and it wasn’t sweet at all, so I added some sugar to it. It was sweeter, but I could definitely still taste the avocado. I stuck it in the fridge, thinking it might taste better cold. The texture is exactly like that of chocolate pudding and it looks exactly like it too, so in that sense you wouldn’t ever know the difference.

Once I tried it cold, it was definitely better, but there was still a weird taste of avocado at the end. I couldn’t eat more than a spoonful. The only other person willing to try it was Dude Martha and he thought it tasted like baking cocoa powder and he had some tiny pieces of date that ruined the texture.  Overall, I could not get past the avocado flavor.

I took a photo of this but then left the camera at my parents’ lake house so I don’t have it to put up right now. It looked exactly like chocolate pudding – you would never guess it wasn’t. I’m sure one of our participants took a photo they can share!

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Chilled Potato, Cucumber and Dill Soup

July 23, 2010

This recipe from Aug Living (Chilled Cucumber and Potato Soup with Dill) is a take off on vichyssoise which I do enjoy. Mr. MarthaAndMe is deeply offended by cold soups, but was willing to at least taste this one.

You start by cooking the onions (1/2 cup in 1 tbsp olive oil) for 3 min. Then add the potatoes (1 russet that has been peeled and shopped into 1/2 inch pieces) for 3 min. My potatoes stuck to the pan and made a horrific mess and I ended up adding some broth to get them unstuck. Then you add the cukes (2 medium, peeled and coarsely chopped). I didn’t have quite enough cukes, so I used a little zucchini too. You cook this until almost tender, about 5 min. Again, it all stuck to the bottom of the pan and got messy. Finally I was able to add the broth (1 and 1/4 c)and cook it all without a problem. I used my handheld immersion blender to whiz this up and it pureed nicely. I added the buttermilk (3/4 cup) and dill (3 tbsp chopped) and chilled. I also added some additional salt since it tasted bland to me.

I thought this was good. It doesn’t have the oniony-ness of true vichysoisse, but I enjoyed the flavor. It didn’t taste anything like cucumbers – mostly it tasted like potato and dill. Mr. MarthaAndMe gagged down a spoonful or two and didn’t care for it. Teen Martha liked it. Dude Martha thought it was gross. Oh well. I guess I’ll wait to have cold soup in a restaurant the next time I want it!

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Blueberry Pound Cake

July 22, 2010

Martha has a recipe for blackberry pound cake in July/Aug Everyday Food, but notes you can swap blueberries for blackberries, which is what I did. This was easy to whip up – basically a pound cake with blueberry puree swirled through it. I subbed out whole wheat pastry flour for half of the regular flour and I added some cinnamon (about 1/2 tsp) to the blueberry puree. Everyone in my house gobbled this up almost instantly. It was sweet and moist and very good.

1/2 c butter

6 oz berries

1 1/4 c plus 2 tbsp sugar

1 1/2 c flour

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp baking powder

2 eggs

1/2 tsp vanilla

1/2 c sour cream

Puree berries with 2 tbsp sugar. Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla, mix. Add dry ingredients alternating with sour cream. Put half the batter in a loaf pan and top with 1/2 cup puree. Put in rest of batter and cover with remaining puree. Bake at 350 for  1 hour 15 min.

Note Martha says to only put 1/2 cup puree in the middle of the batter. I think this might be a typo and she meant to say put half of the puree in the middle. I did it as the recipe said and there wasn’t much in the middle and tons on top. I would definitely put half in the middle to even things out.

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Trumpet Vine

July 21, 2010

I enjoyed sharing my clematis vine, so I thought I would show you my other successful vine, a trumpet vine. My dad has one of these and convinced his to make a baby (apparently you bury the end of it underground and it will sprout up as a new, separate plant that you can dig up and move – thanks Dad!). We planted it next to an old wooden fence that encloses the dog section of the backyard. For several years it grew but didn’t flower. Then suddenly it decided it liked us and now it makes flowers every year. It doesn’t seem to have as many this year as in years past, I think because we had some major lawn work done right next to it (some septic work and drainage tile) so it is probably still a little bit huffy over that. This is another plant I do absolutely nothing to – I don’t water, feed, or trim it. And this one clings nicely to the fence by itself!

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No Cook Pasta Sauce

July 20, 2010

I’ve seen the no-cook pasta sauces that show up in women’s magazines in the summer and my friend Debbie recently did one on her blog Words to Eat By which convinced me I needed to try Martha’s version in August Living called Tomato and Basil Pasta. I’m hooked. It was easy and delish. Put 1/4 cup olive oil and 3 sliced garlic cloves in a bowl with salt and pepper. Add 1 lb of hot, cooked pasta (I used whole wheat rotini). Toss. Rip up 4 tomatoes with your hands. Drop in blobs of soft cheese (I used goat cheese – about 6 oz) and add some fresh herbs (Martha says to use basil but I didn’t have enough so I also used oregano, chives, rosemary and parsley). Stir it and serve. Very simple and it was so flavorful and wonderful. The tomatoes taste sweet and fresh. The cheese makes it creamy and the fresh herbs add lots of punch. I’m definitely going to be doing this again. The only problem with this is you can’t reheat leftovers well. The tomato ends up hot and mushy and the herbs lose their freshness. Teen Martha solved this by just eating it cold!

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