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Disappearing Act–It Happens

Here is the thing.  I have been busy.  And also, sometimes, I just want to eat my food instead of snap photos and document every flavor.

Does that make  me a horrible food blogger?  Probably, but deal wid it.  ;)

I go back forth between wanting to really delve into the foodie world that is Salt Lake or hover around it in my own voyeuristic way.  Most of the time, I am happier sitting on the edge, keeping it under wraps, and telling you what I like or don’t like in a pretty basic way–without any real deadlines.  The truth is, other sites do that better–and some worse–than I do.  It is what it is.  But then, the disappearing act happens and a month goes by where I just don’t feel like telling anyone about anything I eat.  And that may or may not piss you off. :)  My ultimate goal was to one day write for a food and wine magazine….and to start some kind of professional portfolio, which this blog sort of serves as.  But, I am not sure my path is heading that direction anymore. So, I think and I think and I think…..

So, here is a brief recap of some things from the past month:

Key West Vacation–it was pretty wonderful.  Full of sun, beaches, and great seafood (the fresh Lobster roll below was to die for).  Also, a lot of Landsharks and Pina Coladas showed up at our table.  Key West is a great place if you want a Caribbean vacation and don’t want to pay to get your passport renewed (like myself).  The island is small, tropical, and if you make your way to Bahia Honda State Park and Beach you will truly feel like you are in another world.  My thought, while standing in the ocean, white sand under my feet was, “this really exists?”  It does.  And it was magical.

After Key West, there wasn’t much down time before my sister came to visit from Alaska.  I hadn’t seen her in 9 months, which is far too long to go without hanging out with your best friend.  So, you can understand I have been in family hang out mode for the past 8 days or so.  We had a fun BBQ at our house–and even went old school with the charcoal grill.  It just tastes better.  We ate a lot of Mexican food as well.  Baja Cantina in Park City is a favorite spot of ours, and my own baby sister made enchiladas one night.  I have had a lot of guacamole in the past week.  I am not sick of it.  Also, as a life-time resident of Utah, I had never been to the Salt Flats, so a nice little drive got us out there and we had fun taking photos.  Dear Sister, I miss you already.

I am considering how to cross my love of food into my love of other things (in writing).  Currently, I have multiple blogs for my multiple personalities.  I have this little food blog here, which has been pretty successful so far, but I also have a blog dedicated to my poetry (Engel Poems) and I also have a normal blog for ranting and raving and things I find beautiful and lists I make (Calculated Changes by a Math Illiterate Feminist).  I have yet to come up with a way to combine all of these into one cohesive idea.   They all have different readership.  And I am not sure if my food fans would want to read a poem, or vice versa.  And do you all have any interest in reading about what really irritates me or how ridiculously good looking my boyfriend is?  I just don’t know…

So, there are some Nosh Maven thoughts on the first of June (what the hell…it is JUNE!).  Maybe it is time for a Nosh Maven facelift–and attitude adjustment.  We shall see.  Until then, I will keep reading Rilke and try to find some inspiration.

Now, where to go for lunch?

Stuffed Anaheim Peppers!

It is no secret that I HATE bell peppers.  They ruin everything they touch. I don’t care what you say–I will never like them.

However, the idea of stuffed peppers is one that I love.  So, I have been making a few different kinds of stuffed Anaheim peppers instead.  Anaheim peppers are usually the kind of peppers that most chile rellenos are made with.  They have little to no heat, but a flavor that I love: very fresh, crisp, and almost sweet.  And, rather than stuff them with a large amount of cheese and then soak them in batter and deep fry them, I have been trying some more healthy options.

This week I stuffed the peppers with shredded chicken (made in the crockpot), black rice, green chilies, and a small amount of cheese.  Here is how it is done:

First, you have to cook your shredded chicken.  The easiest way to do this is to use about 4 medium/large boneless chicken breasts, put them in the crockpot, and then add a can of your favorite salsa.  Cook on high for at least 4 hours and then shred the chicken with a few forks.  Easy. As. Pie.  Just make sure you allow the chicken to spend a good amount of time in the crockpot.

Once your chicken is done, you can start your rice and preset your oven to about 350.  We like really dark/black rice, but I suppose you could use whatever rice you prefer.  Any kind of brown rice or Mexican rice would also work.  But, you should probably stay away from that white stuff–it just isn’t good for you. ;)

Once your rice is done, mix your shredded chicken (you may want to drain the chicken a bit so it isn’t super wet), your rice, a can of diced green chilies, and some shredded cheese in a big ol’ bowl.  No real measurements here–just go with your gut!  This is your finished stuffing!

Cut the peppers down one side and then slice off the end with the stem.  Run the pepper under cold water and gently remove the seeds.  Once the seeds are removed, start stuffing.  :)

Then, put your stuffed peppers in a baking dish.  Cover with a can of diced tomatoes and some more cheese.  Then, BAKE!  The peppers will take about 15 – 20 minutes to cook.  Depending on how crisp you like your peppers, you might want to check them once or twice to make sure they are to your liking. I like mine a little softer, and my cheese a little crisp–so these babies baked for 20 minutes or a little more.

Add some homemade guacamole and a dollop of sour cream and you are set!  Delish!  These also heat up wonderfully the next day.

Enjoy!

I hope everyone is planning on having a great week!  5 days until Russ and I are on the beach in Key West–drinking margaritas and doing some serious relaxing!

–Nosh

SLC Spring & Coconut Flour Pizza

I think that spring is in full swing here in Salt Lake City.  This means, I don’t feel like cooking.  At all.  No oven, no stove.  So, basically I have been eating strawberries, string cheese, and drinking lots of cold beverages. Spring also means, that I am on the lookout for patio dining anywhere I can get it.

We haven’t gotten out and about too much the past few weeks–Russ broke his arm on the last day of the season snowboarding (rough, rough times), but we finally got out to one of or favorite local eateries last week because he was in need of pizza!  Spedelli’s now has their patio open, and honestly, you just can’t beat their prices. We really like this place.  Go there. :)

Our love for pizza kind of takes over our lives sometimes.  One thing that we have been cooking–that is nearly carb free–is coconut flour pizza.  The crust is spongy and a bit lighter (while being more filling at the same time), but if you are craving pizza and want a healthier version, this is for you.

Crust:

4 eggs

1/4 cup coconut flour

1/4 cup plain yogurt

1/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp oregano

1 clove garlic

pinch of sea salt

Combine eggs, yogurt, and sea salt then add the coconut flour and beat until smooth.  Blend in spices and parmesan cheese.  Spray a pan with non-stick spray or whatever you like to use to making sticking go away. :)  Pour the batter onto the pan and then use a spoon or spatula to spread batter.  You want to make it pretty thin because coconut flour batter puffs up while cooking.

Bake at 400 for about 10 minutes then remove and add all of your ingredients of choice! Sauce!  Cheese!  Veggies!  Meats galore!  This is your time to be creative. Then, put back into the oven for about 8 – 10 minutes.  Yay!  Pizza!

Also, spring means getting our yard looking nice and wanting to buy every cute little flower planter, paper lantern, and tea candle light holder out there.  Last night I spent some time potting succulents and sitting on my porch with some lovely candle ambiance.  I hope that everyone’s spring has been as enjoyable as mine has been so far!  Hopefully, I won’t get summer fever too bad and remember to post here once in a while.  I still have to get to Pallet and I want to do a new review of The Copper Onion and see what seasonal changes they have on their spring menu!

Little update on the diet:

While I am not as strict as I was the past three months, I have reached my goal weight and now the key is to keep it off, and if I can knock another 10 lbs off this summer I will be happy.  I have really gotten into Zumba lately, and I think that shaking my bootay 2 – 3 times a week has allowed me to ingest pizza and not have my hips show it! :)  I am definitely feeling happy and healthy these days.  Key West in 12 days!!!

Enjoy your noshings!

Easy Mini Lasagnas!

This was one of those Pinterest inspired meals that I have now made several times with multiple variations!  These cut back on the calories of regular lasagna, as well as the carbohydrates.

Set your oven to about 370 while you prep.

You will need:

  • small square wonton wrappers (I like the Nasoya brand)
  • 1 package of low-fat sausage (12 – 16 oz)
  • 1 can of your favorite tomato/spaghetti sauce (I love the Mezzetta Artichoke Marinara more than anything)
  • cheese blend: you can make this with what you like best, but mine usually consists of 1 & 1/2 cups fresh shredded mozzarella, 1/2 cup parmesan, 1/2 cup ricotta and 1/2 cup cottage cheese.  This time, I used greek yogurt in place of cottage cheese, and it was awesome.  Add some dried basil, sea salt, cracked black pepper, and onion powder to taste (I never measure these things).

Process:

  • Use a large muffin tin–this will make about 21 mini lasagnas.
  • Pre-cook the sausage so that it is fully cooked before you add it to your lasagnas.
  • Use whatever you prefer to make sure your pan is non-stick (butter, olive oil, non-stick spray).  Don’t forget the top of the pan as well.
  • Layer with one wonton wrapper on the bottom and press down until the wrapper is tightly layering the bottom and sides of each muffin section.
  • After one wonton is down on each muffin section, begin layering ingredients.
  • Add sausage, a spoonful of spaghetti sauce, and a spoonful of cheese mixture. Then, add another layer of wonton.
  • Make sure to press the second wonton to the first wonton where possible to create a semi-seal between the stuffed layer (it doesn’t have to be totally sealed, just enough to have the two stick together).
  • Repeat layering ingredients: sausage, sauce, cheese mixture.
  • After all the mini lasagnas are layered, place in the oven for about 10 – 15 minutes.  You HAVE TO KEEP A CLOSE eye on these!  The wontons cook quickly.  You want the tops of the wonton and the cheese to be slightly browned–a little more crispy is better than underdone, as the wonton noodle not as exposed to the heat can be soggy if you don’t leave them in long enough.

Use different variations!  Try spinach, mushrooms, and alfredo sauce!  Or try ground turkey, olives, sour cream, and cheddar!  These are super fun.  The layering takes a bit of time, but cooking time is so minimal, you can crank these out in about a half hour.  AND, they are a hit at dinner parties–they are SO pretty.

(For 8 wonton wrappers, there are 30  net grams of carbs–so 4 mini lasagnas will hold 30 carbs, not including whatever is in your sauce.)

Enjoy!

-Nosh

Plum Alley–It Brings Out the Happy!

A ceiling full of paper lanterns, cozy family-style tables, citrus and spiced meat flavors wafting from the kitchen, and smiling faces.  This is the atmosphere you will enter when you open the door to one of Salt Lake’s newer restaurants, Plumb Alley.

Plum Alley just opened a few months ago.  Ryan Lowder, the genius behind The Copper Onion is also the brains behind the menu at Plum Alley.  This fact alone told me I was in for a treat, as The Copper Onion is one of my favorite eateries in Salt Lake.  However, you will find a very different flavor, literally and metaphorically, at his new restaurant just a few doors down.

Plum Alley is an Asian inspired restaurant with everything from Steam Bums to Dtom Ka Gai soup. Flavors served here are anything but underwhelming. And, the family style seating makes it really easy to tap your neighbor on the shoulder and ask for a recommendation–which we did.  We also gave some ourselves as new guests were seated next to us toward the end of our meal.  My first reaction to family style seating is one of “no thanks, I don’t want to have to talk to people I don’t know”….however, something about Plum Alley makes you friendly, and I honestly enjoyed eating in close approximation to others.  Go figure!

The menu at Plum Alley is great because you can go all out, or you can taste around and still keep your bill modest.  Most things are meant to be shared and come tapa style. Plum Alley has a great selection of wine and beer and some great original cocktails as well (the Pickled Cow sounds interesting with stoli, soju, Worcestershire, and pickled beef…that’s right, pickled beef).  I enjoyed a light and refreshing glass of Bouchard Pinot Noir and Russ, that man of mine, kept it classy with a “Larger” can of Pabst Blue Ribbon.

I had heard great things about the Steam Buns ($6 for 2), so that was first on our list to try–we started with the Pork Belly.  The buns were perfect–spongy and light and the Pork Belly was rich, as I was expecting.

We also ordered the Shrimp and Grits ($7) to start as well.  This was a surprising dish, as the shrimp were large with the heads still attached and the ‘grits’ were actually polenta squares.  The flavor was mildly spicy, evened out nicely by the polenta.  I didn’t even mind pulling the heads off my shrimp. The sauce was rich, creamy, and great for dipping the polenta in.

Of course, I always have to order Dtom Ka Gai soup ($9 for 2) if it is available, because I am obsessed with it. Plum Alley did a fine job–although the flavors were much more complex and spicy than I was expecting.  The red chilis hit your mouth like a bomb of fire, however the coconut milk and tender chicken brought the heat back down.  It was certainly more intense than your average Dtom Ka Gai, but outstanding.

Next up we ordered the Vermicelli Noodles & Crab ($11).  This dish was also different than I was expecting.  The crab was fresh and the noddles were light, but the flavor was a little more earthly than I had anticipated. It was good, but probably my least favorite of the items that we ordered.  Something about the cilantro, crab, and sauce wasn’t working perfectly for me–but Russ still ate the entire thing, he loved it.

We decided on one last item:  the Duck Steam Buns ($6 for 2).  These were BY FAR the highlight of our dinner.  The duck with the preserved orange was the perfect combo of savory and sweet.  I could have not eaten anything else the entire evening and had a wonderful dining experience just with the Duck Steamed Buns–they were phenomenal.

For dessert, who can pass up a homemade donuts?  Yeah, not even this girl who has been avoiding sugar at all costs.  We had to get one–the folks dining next to us wouldn’t have let us get away with passing it up.  Fluffy, not too sweet, lick your fingers, delicious.  The dipping sauce was to die for.  WORTH EVERY CALORIE!  ;)

Check out Plum Alley on 111 East Broadway the next time you are looking for a dining experience that is different, unique, tasty, and fun.  Enjoy the atmosphere, the great service, a delightful glass of wine (or even a tall boy of PBR for all you hipster kids), and sit back, chat with some new people, and leave happy and full.  We will definitely be going back soon.

111 East Broadway
Suite 190
801-355-0543

Plum Alley on Urbanspoon

(please excuse the photo quality in this post–my camera’s battery died upon arrival and I had to resort to my HTC…so frustrating!!)