Monday, August 29, 2011

meatless monday: tomatoes galore!

If you've tended a garden throughout the summer, chances are your bounty is rich with tomatoes. And even if you don't have a garden, you can't help but notice the abundance of those oddly-shaped, brightly-colored heirloom tomatoes available by the bushel at farmer's markets or your local Whole Foods. Even if they aren't heirloom tomatoes, big, fat, juicy, red, rotund tomatoes are plentiful and (literally) ripe for the pickin'.

For today's Meatless Monday post, we've rounded up several links to give you ideas for incorporating those ripe and delicious tomatoes into your lunch and/or dinner today. There's nothing like enjoying produce that is in season and at its season's peak - with meals this satisfying, you'll hardly even miss the meat.

Chilled heirloom tomato soup from Cannelle et Vanille


Love, The Muses

Friday, August 19, 2011

Growl...what to feed a red meat eater

WCM's dear dear friend Andrea and her hunky Brazilian-god boyfriend Fabio are coming to visit this weekend. As we mentioned on Monday, WCM has never been much for vegetarianism. Some of my friends have experimented over the years but I have held fast to my carnivorous principals. So when I asked Andrea this morning what kinds of food she and Fabs like to eat, I was very very pleased when she responded "he eats meat. red meat!"

Now, this response definitely pleased me but the Muses know many friends who prefer to eat vegetarian or who tend to stick to chicken and fish if they do eat meat. So, what does a good host feed a red meat eater? Well, besides meat on a sword. There is a huge range of places you could go with this from super simple meatloaf to fancy pants beef wellington. Remember, beef is not the only red meat option - consider lamb and venison.

Go Simple

Paula Deen's Old-fashioned Meat Loaf

Slow-cooker Asian Short Ribs via Real Simple

Cook's Illustrated Steak Tacos with Sweet and Spicy Pickled Onions

Go Luxe

Steak with hazelnut picada and wilted escarole

Seared Rib Eye with crushed walnut potatoes, baby arugula, and balsamic fig reduction from our all time fave Top Chef contestant, Angelo Sosa

Robert Del Grande's Coffee Crusted Beef Tenderloin

Go Lamb or Venison

Venison Wellington with caramelised shallots and sour cream dressing

Barbecued Leg of Lamb with almond and mint sauce

Slow-cooked Lamb Shoulder with roast vegetables

And this has nothing to do with red meat but check out this delicious looking blueberry tart we found on Gourmet Traveller. That would be the perfect ending to a meat heavy dinner.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

spice up your desktop with monthly wallpaper calendars

The Muses very good friend Michael is an aaaamazing web-designer and a generally creative brain who has mastered all things aesthetic. In a recent tweet, Michael pointed us to some fab desktop wallpaper calendars from Smashing Magazine. These are the perfect way to add a little punch to your desktop at work. Unique designers create the wall papers each month so you will surely find something that suits your fancy. AND you get to change your mind and get something new every month.

Monday, August 15, 2011

meatless monday - lemon scented quinoa with corn, mint, and scallions

You may not know this, but of the two Muses really only the East Coaster is a veg-head (counter intuitive, we know) - hence, Meatless Mondays were her "brilliant" idea. But this time the West Coast Muse is taking a crack at today's feature. This means you can totally trust this recipe - if the WCM devoured it, that means you, the average-everyday-meat-lover will too. Mint and lemon are a fab combo in fancy-pants lemonade; so why would they not be great in your quinoa? This is a fresh-tasting, light dish but it's also loaded with protein and nutrients thanks to the powerhouse quinoa.

Also, errr... disregard that my photo here has chicken on it. This was made on a Sunday...which was not meatless. But I assure you, this would be great chicken-less!

modified very slightly from Epicurious

lemon scented quinoa with corn, mint, and scallions

4 ears corn, shucked
1 tablespoon finely grated fresh lemon zest (from 2 lemons)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon mild honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups quinoa (about 10 oz)
4 scallions, chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
8-10 oz feta

Put corn in a 5- to 6-quart wide pot, then add water to cover and bring to a boil, covered. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, 5 minutes. Transfer corn with tongs to a cutting board. When cool enough to handle, cut kernels off cobs with a large heavy knife.

Meanwhile, whisk together lemon zest and juice, melted butter, honey, salt, and pepper in a large bowl until combined.

Epicurious has the following directions about cooking quinoa but I like to just throw mine in the rice cooker. 1:2 ration of quinoa to water...and salt that water!

or do it the Epicurious way... wash quinoa in 3 changes of cold water in a bowl, draining in a large sieve each time. Cook quinoa in a 4- to 5-quart pot of boiling salted water, uncovered, until almost tender, about 10 minutes. Drain in sieve, then set sieve over same pot with 1 inch of simmering water (water should not touch bottom of sieve). Cover quinoa with a folded kitchen towel, then cover sieve with a lid (don't worry if lid doesn't fit tightly) and steam until quinoa is tender, fluffy, and dry, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand (still covered) 5 minutes.

Add quinoa to dressing and toss until dressing is absorbed, then stir in corn, scallions, mint, and salt and pepper to taste. Crumble a good helping of feta over the top before serving.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Almost There Day: espresso con panna

Ok friends, we're almost there. Right? Right? Right.

The West Coast Muse had an office stuffed full of people this morning as the brilliant scientist she assists was being interviewed for something. Tiny office + 6 person camera crew = mental chaos. I did my best to stay calm by listening to the Unwind Station on Pandora....and by sucking down a triple espresso (with extra foam). It might seem counterintuitive that a triple espresso would be calming but it is. That might be the sign of addiction but I'm too busy to spend time being worried about such dependencies.

The triple espresso was delish but what would have been even better would have been an espresso con panna. That's an Italian drink that is basically espresso topped with whipped cream. What more could you want?

So if you are in your last 2 hours of work on the East Coast or just midday on the West Coast and need a quick, delicious, extra special pick-me-up, try an espresso con panna. You could easily order this at your local café but it is also simple enough to do yourself.

Photo from The Coffee Bump

  1. Brew 1-3 shots of espresso.
  2. Top with whipped cream. The Muses only support homemade whipped cream which could not be easier. If you have never whipped cream before, do not fear, throw some heavy cream in a bowl and enough sugar until it's as sweet as you like, whip with a whisk or hand not over beat or it will curdle. Also feel free to throw in some vanilla or almond extract
  3. If you really need some extra help, add a little somethin' somethin' to it. The Muses themselves are far too responsible and care about their jobs far too much to do this at work...but we know what kind of people you are.
Enjoy!! We're almooost there. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

meatless monday - green smoothies!

The Muses were together this past weekend in DC, and they had a little too much fun yesterday between the Next Food Network Star casting call and extra large beers at African restaurants - needless to say, the Meatless Monday post did not happen.

But never fear, faithful readers. We are excited to bring you today the green smoothie. We've been following sweet Kallie of Kallie Brynn Photography for about a year now, and besides lusting over her photos of France, cooing at snapshots of her sweet little girl and ooh-ing and aah-ing over her amazing photography portfolio, we also have been intrigued by the instagram photos of her green smoothies. These concotions seem bizarre but the thought of downing no less than four fruits/veggies in one sitting with the use of an everyday blender truly compells us. We asked Kallie for a recipe, and she sent us 8! You're such the over-achiever, Kallie!

We're posting a recipe that we've tried and can attest to its deliciousness, as well as Kallie's favorite and also including a few photos taken by Kallie of her smoothie creations. We hope these recipes inspire you to concoct your own favorite - the ECM has recently discovered that parsley and lemon juice give her green smoothies an added zing that really opens her eyes in the mornings.

Enjoy! And be sure to leave a comment letting us know how you make them your own!

Kale-Apple Smoothie
3/4 cup chopped kale (stem removed)
1 small stalk celery
1/2 banana
1/2 cup apple juice
1/2 cup ice
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth and creamy. Enjoy!

ECM note
: using an apple instead of the apple juice works well, and combining spinach and kale takes some of the bitter kale bite away. Throw in a banana for added creaminess. Also, the use of So Delicious Coconut Milk is a great option!

Kallie's Favorite Smoothie
one handful frozen each:
one handful fresh blueberries
one banana
carrot juice
orange juice
two handfuls of spinach

Kallie's note: "I make this one the most (about every other day) and play around a lot with different frozen and fresh fruits. I also add cucumber often and sometimes substitute kale. Most recent variation: one handful of spinach and one stem of kale, a little cucumber, added some frozen peaches, and used fresh strawberries."

Readers - stay tuned to Kallie's blog, as she intends to do a series on her smoothies in the near future!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

stylish modern fabric

The Muses have tons of crafty friends that sew clothing (for themselves and their children), baby gifts, aprons - and sometimes, when one friend in particular gets a wild hair, she reupholsters furniture.

We hear the occasional gripe that it's difficult to find fun modern fabrics that inspire. Sadly, if you hit up a fabric store in the suburbs you'll find little more than pleather, pink plaid fleece, and polyester (yes, there are heroes in the midst, but it takes some work). A brilliant friend of the Muses, Claire, once reupholstered a dining room chair with a napkin from Anthro because the fabric selection she found was lacking. Oh la la - there must be more.

Enter - Fabricworm, an eclectic collection of unique and modern designs. This online shop, run by a momma (let's hear it for smart working moms!) supplies fabrics with designs that are sure to arouse creativity. She also sells bundles of assorted fabrics that coordinate.

Take a peek at her website but beware, before you know it you'll be filled with fabric lust and won't be able to stop your mind from wandering to fantasies of new baby bedding, curtains, birb clothes, and napkins.

Here are a few Muse favorites

We know one Muse cannot tear herself away from stripes : Dena Designs Taza Stripe 

Can we see this as an adorable baby boy bib? Sarah Jane Making Paper Hats in Aqua

Ahem, do we see a certain color scheme that matches a certain blog... Tiffany Blue and Red Bundle

Endless possibilites - accent pillows! napkins! curtains! Dena Designs Taza, Tarika Yellow

Also a great curtain option - digging this color combo : Anna Maria Horner Little Folks Voile in Olive

A modern rose pattern. Love and love! Such a bold pattern would be good as a small accent like the lining of a bag or inside cuff of a shirt : Joel Dewberry Heirloom, Rose Bouquet Amber

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Even the boys seek inspiration

A male coworker casually mentioned to the East Coast Muse his desire to incorporate more color and energy into his wardrobe. Poor lad – he had no idea that there is nothing casual about fashion inspiration as far as the Muses are concerned. We bring you: Christopher’s Inspiration Board

Some new hipster Ray-Ban sunglasses

A bright Jack Spade carry-all  - use it for your laptop or just as a messenger bag

J. Crew striped t-shirt - the Muses don't just love stripes for ourselves we love them on him too

Fish hook bracelet from STAG in Austin

J. Crew gingham skinny tie for the office or about town

A fun tote for groceries

Some new kicks – sure, they look casual, but with that skinny tie, you’re golden

How about some fun laces for those kicks?

Happy Socks. The ECM's hubby wears even the brightest ones with his black loafers on a regular basis

Monday, August 1, 2011

Meatless Monday: Black Bean Tacos

We know what you're thinking: "Haven't you already done black bean tacos?"

Why yes - we have. But today we bring you a version of black bean tacos by Bon Appetit that will have you begging for seconds; not that the others didn't - but consider these the grown-up big sister to the ECM's everyday, go-to tacos.

Also, we'd love to hear from you - have you begun to incorporate Meatless Monday into your weekly routine? What has your experience with it been - easier than you thought? Inconvenient? A lot of extra effort?

Crispy Black Bean Tacos with Feta and Cabbage Slaw

Recipe by the Bon Appetit Test Kitchen

1 15-ounce can black beans, drained
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
5 teaspoons olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 cups coleslaw mix
2 green onions, chopped
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
4 white or yellow corn tortillas
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
Bottled chipotle hot sauce or other hot sauce

Place beans and cumin in small bowl; partially mash. Mix 2 teaspoons olive oil and lime juice in medium bowl; add coleslaw, green onions, and cilantro and toss to coat. Season slaw to taste with salt and pepper.

Heat 3 teaspoons olive oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add tortillas in single layer. Spoon 1/4 of bean mixture onto half of each tortilla; cook 1 minute. Fold tacos in half. Cook until golden brown, about 1 minute per side. Fill tacos with feta and slaw. Pass hot sauce alongside.

Is there a Meatless Monday post that you would like to see? Let us know - send us an email, leave a comment or send us a Tweet!