Corn & Quinoa Salad with Lemon & Mint

Lemony Corn and Quinoa Salad with Mint Recipe

Lemony Corn and Quinoa Salad with Mint Recipe

I write to you from Tucson, Arizona, where it is now “only” 99 degrees Fahrenheit outside, cooling down from what was likely a balmy high of 104. I’m here visiting family and taking in the general gestalt of the desert, where I lived for 18 years as a kid, but somehow appreciate so much more now. You don’t get sunsets and golden light like here anywhere else. And after marathoning Breaking Bad for the last few weeks (I know I’m late to the party, but yeah, it’s good), the desert seems even more cinematic, driving down the highway at 80 miles an hour with nothing but mountains, dust, and cacti on either side.

In any case, summer is felt loud and clear around these parts, and in summer I love these kinds of salads that can be a light dinner, a whole dinner, a lunch, an appetizer… and be as delicious cold as it is warm. This particular quinoa salad has a fantastic flavor, probably owing a lot to the fresh flavors of the corn, lemon and mint that play perfectly off the deep background flavor of butter and a hint of honey. And the fresh mint leaves throughout make the whole thing come together and sing. I devoured this warm for dinner, then ate it the next two days for work lunches, just cold out of the fridge. I probably don’t have to tell you that it would be a great potluck meal or side dish to bring too, and very easy to make a day ahead.

I hope everyone out there (at least those of you in the Northern hemisphere) are having a lovely summer so far, full of fresh foods and longer relaxing days. Do you have an all-time favorite summer salad?

Lemony Corn and Quinoa Salad with Mint Recipe

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Southern Buttermilk Biscuits

Southern Buttermilk Biscuits | in this kitchen

Southern Buttermilk Biscuits | in this kitchen

Recipes have failed in my realm lately, guys. Almond butter chocolate chunk cookies that came out too oaty and chewy, despite using an entire jar of (expensive!) almond butter in them. Dark chocolate amaretto cookies that looked so good in the recipe I was using, but came out weirdly acidic and bitter (the magic must have been lost in translation, literally – I was using Google to translate the recipe from Lithuanian). I only have so much time and money to bake with, and it’s just sad when things don’t taste great. My search for Amaretto recipes lives on though, since I’ve got to do something with the bottle of it I bought for my lemon cakes recipe months ago. I will keep you updated with any future successes.

So today I’m turning to this buttermilk biscuit recipe, which I’ve made twice and both times to great, great success. The biscuits are called “Touch of Grace biscuits,” which is the perfect name to describe how airy and light these biscuits are. Don’t get me wrong, they are immensely buttery and creamy, but they crumble perfectly and don’t feel dense at all. Southern self-rising flour is a key ingredient, which I previously hadn’t heard of, but was easy to locate in Whole Foods.

The biscuits are from Shirley Corriher’s Cookwise. I heard about them from Molly Wizenberg, as I do many of my favorite recipes. I was listening to Molly and Matthew Amster-Burton’s terrific podcast Spilled Milk and when Molly described these biscuits, I had to go out, get myself some Southern self-rising flour, and make them that same weekend. We ate them hot right out of the pan, and they still were good hours later at room temperature. They were good enough that I even took a tupperware full of them to my boyfriend’s parents and they loved them, which is always a good way to win brownie-points (biscuit-points?).

Southern Buttermilk Biscuits | in this kitchen

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Roasted Tomato Caprese Pasta Salad

Roasted Tomato Caprese Pasta Salad Recipe

Roasted Tomato Caprese Pasta Salad Recipe

The first time I had caprese, it was in a salad. Not the traditional caprese salad you may be thinking of – which is just sliced tomatoes, basil and mozzarella laying together in harmony, perfect as they are – but instead a big pile of salad greens with fresh basil leaves throughout, topped with cut tomatoes, fresh mozzarella balls, and a balsamic vinaigrette. Needless to say, it was incredibly good, so good that I often ordered in lieu of pizza at that restaurant (gasp). It has since been my go-to whenever I’m asked to bring an appetizer to a potluck – it’s hard to mess up.

And in the warm months, it’s hard to imagine a better thing to eat. Basil and tomatoes are at their freshest and if you’re lucky enough to have a garden, you can just go grab handfuls of both right outside. It is a big, bold, underlined item on my Life Goals list to have a garden of my own, and when I do, it will be required to house many bunches of my beloved basil.

Here, we’ve got another slight variation on the tomato, mozz, basil holy trinity: toss ’em with pasta. This caprese pasta salad has a twist, too: the tomatoes are quickly roasted in olive oil and garlic until they blister and soften in the oven, taking away any bitterness and replacing it with earthy sweetness. I had a hard time not plucking them all off of the pan and eating them before assembling the pasta. The roasted tomatoes get tossed with whatever pasta you like, ribbons of basil, and mozzarella in a bright vinaigrette. It’s equally good cold, room temperature, or warm, which makes it a great take-along meal for potlucks, parties, or just your desk at work.

Roasted Tomato Caprese Pasta Salad Recipe

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Roasted Asparagus with Prosciutto and Pickled Shallots

Roasted Asparagus with Prosciutto and Pickled Shallots

Roasted Asparagus with Prosciutto and Pickled Shallots

Do you like to travel light, in minimalist fashion, and not gather too many possessions to your name? Or do you happily collect and squirrel away your belongings? I always have been in the former camp, never wanting to have too much stuff so that when I inevitably move (as I have ~8 times in the past 10 years), I don’t have too many heavy things to carry. No furniture. Not too many heavy books. I donate big bags of clothes at least three times a year.

My boyfriend is firmly in the latter category, especially when it comes to his books – he has hundreds, and wouldn’t dream of getting rid of a single one. It makes me anxious just looking at them, thinking of how much weight and effort it will be during our next move. But they keep on coming, and we keep getting more bookshelves to accommodate them. We recently maxed out the two bookcases we had, so it was time to go to the Mecca for Twentysomething, Non-Rich Couples: Ikea!

We made the 40-minute trek there yesterday, to get our 3rd bookshelf. We do not have a couch yet, a TV, or any real living room furnishings to speak of, but the books, they have a home. I did make the crucial purchase of a $7 string of lights to drape around our back door, in a side of the room that normally is dark and unwelcoming. I love the glowy little lights and along with the bookshelves, we at least have an interesting living room, if not a furnished one. Baby steps, right? One day we will feel like real live adults with a proper home! (Right?)

One thing we never skimp on is food. I tell myself that I’m allowed to spend a little more money on luxuries like prosciutto or the more expensive brand of olive oil, because I save so much money by never going out to bars and clubs, like most 25-year-olds do. I can especially forgive expensive prosciutto when it’s paired with such simple things as asparagus and pickled shallots here, which come together to make a unique and non-fussy side dish (or dinner, when I accidentally eat a huge lunch earlier in the day).

This simple recipe comes together in no time and is great for late spring. The pickled shallots alone are worth the recipe, but I’m just biased because I love pickled anything.

Roasted Asparagus with Prosciutto and Pickled Shallots

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Buffalo Chicken Puff Pastry Squares

Buffalo Chicken Puff Pastry Squares | in this kitchen

Buffalo Chicken Puff Pastry Squares | in this kitchen

I don’t know about you, but buffalo chicken pizza, or chicken on pizza in general, has never been my thing. Chicken on puff pastry though – that’s a whole ‘nother ball game, and these buffalo chicken puff pastry squares are so, so good. If you like buffalo chicken at all, you need to make these. I searched the web many times trying to find a buffalo chicken puff pastry recipe but didn’t come up with much, so I decided to try to make one myself, and it was actually pretty easy!

These of course have lots of buffalo chicken, shredded mozzarella cheese that gets nice and brown and bubbly in the oven, a little bit of oregano and garlic powder, and then they get a nice topping of blue cheese and scallions when they’re done. It’s as good as it sounds, and it’s all on top of a super flaky puff pastry crust. I already want another one.

Buffalo Chicken Puff Pastry Squares | in this kitchen

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Miso Ginger Baby Bok Choy

Easy Miso Bok Choy Recipe on www.inthiskitchen.com

Easy Miso Bok Choy Recipe on www.inthiskitchen.com

You know those recipes where you make, say, a sauce, and it is so good that you think “I’m going to put this on everything from now on?” Oh man, this is one of those recipes. I admittedly have quite a few sauces that are in this category, almost all of them Asian – this otsu sauce, this spicy and sweet szechuan chili sauce, this fresh ginger lemon sauce, and this miso sesame sauce just to name a few. But this miso ginger baby bok choy I have today has landed on the list as well, with its mild miso, hint of lime, present but not fiery ginger, and sweet mirin.

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Easy Homemade Bulgogi

Quick Homemade Bulgogi Recipe on www.inthiskitchen.com

Quick Homemade Bulgogi Recipe on www.inthiskitchen.com

There is a small & humble but consistently delicious Korean restaurant that Dan and I used to frequent when we lived in Bethesda, where the bulgogi, dolsot bibimbap, japchae were always waiting & the waiters got to know us. We’d often go after stopping at the nearby comic book shop and one waiter would ask about what books we got and chat about those comic-related things that I know nothing about (superheroes, presumably). He always made sure we had enough hot & spicy gochujang sauce to go around. We’re not nearby that little restaurant anymore, but we are close to an Asian market (and some other Korean restaurants), which almost makes up for it.

The good news is you don’t even need to have an Asian market to make this homemade bulgogi! I was amazed at how flavorful it turned out, and how reminiscent of “the real thing” it actually is. If you had asked me a couple months ago, I would have said I was intimidated by homemade bulgogi, but this stuff is so, so good and not hard at all. It’s all about that marinade – I left mine in for at least 8 hours. Then you just pan-fry or grill it up, and it is exactly what you want over some good steamed white rice, or in some bibimbap if you wanna get fancy.

You should definitely try to make some of this – it’s easy, it’s great with beef, pork or chicken (I used pork) and after a good marinating session in the fridge it’s ready to whip up on any weeknight.

Quick Homemade Bulgogi Recipe on www.inthiskitchen.com

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Ginger Lemon Soba Noodles

Ginger Lemon Soba Noodles Recipe on www.inthiskitchen.com

Ginger Lemon Soba Noodles Recipe on www.inthiskitchen.com

Heidi Swanson’s 101 Cookbooks was the first food blog I ever visited. It was 2008, I was a newly minted vegetarian, and I was searching online for a good recipe involving tofu. I came across the humble gem of a recipe for Caramelized Tofu, which I still to this day love, and a love of food blogs was born. The recipe seemed to marry so many disparate things that I would never have thought to put together: brussels sprouts (shredded up, no less), brown sugar, tofu, cilantro? But the end product was so good that I trusted her from then on.

I’m no longer a vegetarian, but I still love good vegetarian foods. Today I have a different recipe that I’ve adapted from Heidi, but one that has the same ingenuity of bringing together techniques and flavors I wouldn’t have thought to do on my own. I love ginger, I love lemon, I love soba. But the dressing on these noodles also incorporates mirin, brown sugar or honey, and celery, and the resulting flavor is very unique while still seeming just right. It’s tangy and refreshing, but combined with some pan-fried tofu (or any protein of your choice) it is undoubtedly filling.

Ginger Lemon Soba Noodles Recipe on www.inthiskitchen.com

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chinese choy sum with ginger and garlic

chinese choy sum with ginger and garlic [ inthiskitchen.com ]

Sometimes you want a big ol’ cinnamon roll cake, or a toasted buttery brown sugar and oatmeal cookie, and some other times you just want a simple and pure vegetable side dish that doesn’t take much thought. Today I have the latter, in the form of Chinese stir-fried choy sum. The Chinese have certainly figured out the secret to making veggies as delicious as they should be: cook them fast and simply, and give ’em a good hit of aromatics. This is choy sum, which is easily found in the produce section of Asian food stores, but this same treatment can be given to some hardy spinach leaves too, I’m sure. The choy sum tastes to me like a blend between a bok choy cabbage and spinach, and here it’s lightly stir-fried and dotted with garlic and ginger.

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roasted broccoli and farro salad with feta

roasted broccoli and farro salad with feta [ inthiskitchen.com ]

Well, we are definitely in the doldrums of January. While most of my family members are basking in the golden, dripping sunlight and 70 degrees that is Phoenix, AZ, I’m here trying to protect myself from 20 mile-an-hour winds and 11 degree temperatures even on the short walk from my office to my car. I also woke up this morning inexplicably thinking it was Sunday morning, and halfway through thinking about my plans to lounge around all day, I realized that it was indeed just 5:15 on a Tuesday. Oy.

But instead of complaining about the cold, which I’m sure all of you agree is your favorite thing to read about on a blog, let’s list some things I’m super happy about that have happened this week: we finally took the long-awaited Trip To Ikea and got not only the bookshelves we’ve been needing (why yes, we have just been living with about 15 plastic bins full of books in our living room for the last 3 months, isn’t that how you decorate?), but we also got a cool little desk, two lamps, and a few kitchen knickknacks that I will never have enough of. I also tried two new restaurants this week, both a Korean fried chicken place that was perfect on a cold day, and a Mexican chain restaurant that turned out to surpass my expectations wildly. And I have been cooking most nights (most… not all) and enjoying it. Huzzah for these things!

And I’m here today to share one of the recent major successful recipes: this simple, easy farro and roasted broccoli salad.

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