Thursday, May 30, 2013


The first time I heard the word "chimichurri" was on Bobby Flay's cooking show on Food Network.  That was back when Food Network aired cooking shows.  And the History Channel talked about history.

Get off my lawn moment.  I digress.  

Back to Bobby- he went on and on about this Argentinean sauce, throwing out really beautiful descriptive words, gesticulating wildly in his bad boy celebrity chef persona that's been played to death, then proceeded to slather it on a steak and shovel it into his mouth, groaning and rolling his eyes into the back of his head in ecstacy.  

None of that was necessary.  Because he had me at "chimichurri".  Truly, could there be a more delicious-sounding sauce?  I don't think so.

There are a million recipes out there for this simple sauce/marinade, and I've tried many.  This is an amalgam of my favorites, keeping traits that I liked from some, omitting characteristics that I found fussy/unnecessary/not pleasing.  I love it on fajitas, tacos, burritos, on corn on the cob, over rice or couscous, as a marinade for portobello burgers, or even as a dip for chips.  The possibilities are endless.


1 cup cilantro 
1/2 cup parsley 
3-4 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lime juice
salt and pepper to taste

Add ingredients to food processor or blender and blend until all ingredients are incorporated.  Enjoy on everything.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Whole Foods- Cheaper than Raley's?!!


We've been spending a lot on groceries lately.  Unfortunately, our government doesn't subsidize fruits and veggies the way it does tobacco, and we are one produce loving household.  We also try to buy organic when possible, which comes with it's own price tag.  The two main stores we shop at are Whole Foods and Raley's.  There is a Vons nearby, but the shabby produce section and lack of bulk bins spells n-o-p-e for this family of vegetarians.

All that to say this:  my roots are 4 inches long.  Sad face.  Now, I'm not the type to frequent salons often.  I tend to wait until things are ridiculously out of hand and hair stylists I've never met are handing me their business cards (happened.  Twice.)  But when I reach my breaking point, I want to do something about it.  Pronto.  And when I can't, well, it irks me.

"Well, we'll stop shopping at Whole Paycheck," says hubs.  "Then you can get your hair done again."

Is that the problem?  Is Whole Foods really as expensive as it's made out to be?

We did a little experiment this month and saved all of our grocery receipts, something that we really should have been doing all along.  It was a bit tough to compare- sometimes we'd buy name brand items at Raley's and off brand at Whole Foods, or vice versa.  But there were a few things that could be directly compared, and these I've listed below.

                                                      Raley's       Whole Foods
Organic Lemons-                          .89 ea            .50 ea                               
Organic Carrots-                          .69/lb             .58/lb
Organic Cucumber-                      $1.49             $1.29
Organic baby spinach-                  $2.99             $2.99
Cage Free Eggs-                           $4.99             $3.29
White Corn-                                 .79 ea            .50 ea

Wow!  Who'd have thunk Whole Foods would be the winner?  By $2.69, or an average of 45 cents per item!  Of course, the cage free eggs were a huge deciding factor here, but with the amount that my kids are eating these days, that really adds up.   Still, if you're counting only produce, you've got a savings of 99 cents on only 5 items, or an average of 20 cents saved on each item.  Not bad!

This experiment is far from over.  I'll be posting more direct comparisons as they come.  Stay tuned!

Still here?  Have time for a quick conspiracy theory?  Here goes.  One week into this experiment, our Raley's location rolled out their new rewards program.  It sounds really great- but.  After seeing how outrageously high their prices are, it made me think- what if they raised their prices so they could introduce this rewards program without it costing them anything?  So people think they're saving all of this money, when in reality, they're spending the same amount they were before?  Who knows!  Anyways, I'm off to attend a wedding.  With my four inch roots.  Grrrr.  Wishing you a gorgeous day.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Shiitake Fajitas

I remember hearing somewhere (where was it?) that shiitake mushrooms are medicinal, and as such, should not be consumed on a regular basis.  This could be a problem.

Yes.  I've come a long way since the days when the only way I could stomach mushrooms was to puree them to oblivion.  And beyond.

That's not to say that I'm a full-fledged convert.  I still have my issues.  But I will say this- if you are looking to overcome an aversion to mushrooms, the typical button variety is not the place to start.  And shiitakes are.

Why?  Well, first of all, they actually taste better once they've been dried.  If you've ever purchased a pound of mushrooms with good intentions, only to place them in the refrigerator where for the the next few days you see them and think, "I'm just not ready"- until you finally are, but they've become, well, overready- then you know what I'm talking about.  But most importantly, their flavor is fantastic- not overly earthy, and unlike most fungi, they're wonderfully chewy, and not at all rubbery.

Oh- and they make excellent, excellent fajitas.

The beautiful thing about using this marinade to reconstitute your mushrooms, aside from it saving you the extra step of boiling water, is that while the peppers and onions do soak up the marinade as well, the mushrooms become veritable flavor sponges, bursting with deliciousness at every bite.

Shiitake Fajitas
Inspired by this Fajita Recipe

1 oz sliced dried shiitake mushrooms
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 green bell pepper, thinly sliced
olive oil, enough to coat pan

8-10 cloves garlic, minced
2/3 cup water
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tsp fresh squeezed lime juice
1/2 tsp liquid smoke
1 tsp ground cumin
1/8- 1/4 tsp ground chipotle powder, depending on your spice tolerance
1 tsp salt, or to taste
1/2 tsp pepper, or to taste

Whisk together all marinade ingredients.  Place peppers and onions into large ziploc bag and add marinade.  Gently squeeze the bag to be sure all of your veggies are nicely coated.  Place in refrigerator for anywhere from 30 min. to 2 hours, but no longer (or mushrooms will get mushy.)
Bring large frying pan to medium heat, then add olive oil and marinated veggies.  Cover and let cook, undisturbed, for 6-8 minutes.  Remove cover and stir.  Continue to cook, stirring only when necessary, until veggies are softened.  Serve with warm corn tortillas and your favorite toppings (guacamole, pico de gallo, etc.)  Mexican Red Rice makes a lovely side.  Enjoy!