Friday, May 27, 2011

Here's To The Beginning of Summer!

I hope yours is one filled with fizzy, fruity drinks (among other many wonderful things)!

This one is just sparkling grapefruit and blood orange sodas with some sliced strawberries.

Have a happy Memorial Day weekend! We are spending ours camping with some friends both old and new and then finishing off with a good-old-fashion Wallgren family barbeque...should be fun!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

This One's For The Spies!

Here are Gwen and Sonja in the adorable shirts you sent them all the way from Australia. They love em!

(Love this pic...ha)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Lentil Salad with Caramelized Onion, Roasted Tomato and Spinach

I had a lot of free lentils from work so I made up this recipe and it turned out pretty good. It's good both cold and heated-up so try it out! (I liked it better heated and Matt like if better cold.)

The Recipe:
  • - 1 cup lentils
  • - 1 onion, caramelized (see below)
  • - 1 1/2 cup spinach
  • - 1/4 cup feta cheese
  • - 1 cup tomatoes, roasted
  • - 1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • - 3-4 Tbl. red wine vinegar (or to taste)
  • - salt and pepper

The Method:

- Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees for roasting tomatoes

- Start caramelizing onion
(My method: slice an onion into strips, heat 2 Tbl. olive oil in a skillet, add onion, add 3 Tbl. balsamic vinegar and 1 Tbl. sugar, a little salt, toss together then cook on low heat for about 30-40min)

- Slice tomatoes and toss with some olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake uncovered for about 30 minutes

- Meanwhile, cook lentils in boiling water (1 cup lentils to 3 cups water). It should take 15-20 for lentils to cook and become tender. Drain extra water.

- Once lentils are done and drained, add spinach to the warm lentils, mix and cover for a few minutes. The heat of the lentils will start to wilt the spinach a bit.

- Add caramelized onions, roasted tomatoes, beans, feta, some salt and pepper and red wine vinegar


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Homemade Chai

A few months ago, my friend Christine and I bought some whole spices at an Indian supermarket. We were so pumped to make delicious tea with our fraction-of-the-cost purchases but I promised Christine that I wouldn't just look on food blogs to find a good recipe but find my own perfect recipe or wait for hers. Well, sorry Christine, but I broke my promise.

First I looked up more authentic masala (chai) tea recipes and tried following one. This did not turn out so well. I ended up scalding the milk (which was a part of the recipe) which made the whole batch taste like feet. I should've known from all my coffee shop experience that burned milk never tastes matter how authentic the recipe.

So I did exactly what I promised not to do and looked up a recipe on And it turned out so good! It was basically the same recipe as the authentic one just using a different method. You have to try this; it is so good! (Matt said about it: "This might be the best cup of tea I've ever had.") You can find the recipe here. I'll also post it in steps below.

I mean, how could you not be inspired to do something wonderful with these beautiful spices?
(cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, cardamom seeds)

Lots o' cloves

On the right are cardamom seeds. They are so aromatic and yummy in sweet and savory dishes.

The Recipe:

- Put 8 cloves, 8 cardamom seeds and 4 peppercorns in a plastic bag and crush with something heavy to break them up a bit

- Put this spice mixture in saucepan along with about an inch of fresh ginger (sliced in half or into a few pieces), 2 cinnamon sticks plus 2 cups water and 2 cups milk

- To preserve the rest of the ginger, put the remaining amount in a baggy and freeze for the next time (since you usually have to buy more of an inch at a time)

- Bring mixture to a boil then remove from heat

- Add four bags of black tea (or 4 tsp. of loose leaf black tea like I like to use) and let steep for 10 minutes

- Strain tea into glasses...I pour the whole mixture into my teapot then strain into each glass

- Add sugar, to taste, to each glass to sweeten and enjoy!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Deep Dish Pizza

Last week I made my first attempt at deep dish pizza (Lou Malnati's style with the sauce on top). I have to say that it was pretty good but the recipe needs a little more work so I'm not even gonna post the specifics. Once I perfect it, then I'll post it.

I will share that a great method for making deep dish pizza crust is letting it rise for an hour or so in a bowl then rolling it out into the size of your pan and letting it rise in the pan for another hour or so. After that, just push down the middle, leaving the outside of the dough higher for the crust.

For the sauce I combined canned whole tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, red wine, oregano, salt and pepper and a little sugar. Then I simmered for a few hours to let the flavors concentrate. I think next time I would add less tomato sauce and simmer for a little less time (and maybe use stewed tomatoes instead of crushed ones).

For the crust I used flour, yeast, water, salt, a little sugar and some olive oil. I read somewhere online that the key to a buttery Lou Malnatis crust is adding olive oil to the crust but it seemed to make the dough a little tough. Does anyone out there have any tips for awesome deep dish crust?

Oh yeah, and you can't forget the cheese! I used a combo of fresh and shredded mozzarella and then some Parmesan on top.

I'm already excited to make it again and even better the next time.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Tasty Chicken in a Barbecue-y, Tomato-y Sauce

I used to make this a lot when we lived in Bolivia and I had forgotten all about it so thank you Katie for reminding me...I'm so glad it's back in my life! And Katie and I realized that it's hard to come up with a name for this recipe (as you can see above). But try it out cause it is so good!

The Recipe:

For the marinade:

  • 3/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • some salt and pepper

For the chicken:
  • 3 or 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in half (this would also be good with skin-on chicken)
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups tomatoes, chopped (I used halved grape tomatoes but I think the recipe is best with vine-ripened tomatoes)
  • 1/2 cup barbecue sauce
  • salt and pepper

The method:

  1. Combine marinade ingredients and marinade chicken at least 20 minutes on each side (in the fridge)
  2. Cook chicken on medium high heat on one side for 5-7 minutes or until it reaches a golden brown color.
  3. Flip the chicken to begin cooking the other side. Right after flipping, heap all the onions and tomatoes on top, pour barbecue sauce on and season with some salt and pepper.
  4. Then place the lid on and cook on medium. I let it cook for about 5 minutes just like this then I mix everything together a little (leaving chicken directly on the heat on the bottom) and let cook for another 5 minutes on medium.
  5. Turn heat to low, move chicken on top of the onions and tomatoes (so it doesn't burn) then let simmer for another 15 minutes or so to let the sauce become even more flavorful.

Here are some pictures from throughout the process...

Step 1: the marinade

Step 2: the chicken browns nicely because of the marinade.

Step 3: heaping all the onions and tomatoes plus barbecue sauce on top of the chicken once flipped.

Step 5: move the chicken on top of the onions and tomatoes once the chicken isfully cooked. This way the chicken doesn't burn but the sauce continues to simmer and become more flavorful.

Serve over rice so that none of the sauce goes to waste!

(The chicken is under there)


Monday, May 2, 2011

Little Miss Naomi

Our niece Naomi Linnea Johnson was born on Saturday night. Congratulations Cam and Linnea!!! Since we live close by, we were lucky enough to be able to meet her when she was just a day old (actually less than that). Naomi is just adorable, already looks like her big sisters and is doing well.

But going back in time a bit...

We happened to be hanging out at Cam and Linnea's house on Saturday and this is the last family shot of the Johnsons pre-Naomi taken about 4 hours before she was born.

Praying together for the safe arrival of Naomi before Cam and Linnea went to the hospital. (I believe Linnea is having a contraction.)

And here's that little answer to prayer!

And the two extremely excited older sisters visiting Naomi for the first time (I didn't actually get a picture of them altogether though).

Me and Naomi

Matt holding Naomi for the first time

We love you Naomi!
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