Thursday, July 25, 2013

WIAW #57: Summer Abundance

I realize I’m a tad late to the party on this one but I thought I would share a few of my week’s eats with you anyway.

I really do love summer meals and now that I’ve finally gone grocery shopping I can actually enjoy some of the beautiful summer produce.

I haven’t come up with anything too brilliant to share the recipe with you but at least you can enjoy the pretty pictures.

What I Ate with Summer Abundance:
A cocktail of my own creation, “Bright and Sunny:” Grand Marnier, Fever Tree Ginger beer, fresh orange juice, lime, mint, raspberries
Baked Salmon and Trader Joe’s pilaf with pearl couscous and red quinoa. Oneo f my dad’s favorite recipes: sautéed summer squash, onions, and mushrooms, with blue cheese crumble. O.M.G.
Martha Stewart's Cajun Shrimp Boil with fingerling potatoes, corn on the cob, green onions, parsely, and ohh.....sriracha butter dipping sauce. Yep. Make it now....

Tri-colored rotini with chicken, tomatoes, goat cheese, corn. Yum.

Whole Foods'' Organic Almond Chocolate Ice Cream bar with blueberries, and raspberries. Kind of healthy right?

Enjoying the Eakin's Oval on the Ben Franklin Parkway...

More pilaf, caprese bruschetta, dukkah spiced sweet potatoes, baked chicken.

Walking along on a Sunny Philadelphia Day.


The Cuisiner

Monday, July 22, 2013

Awesome Fest in Drexel Park with Stitch and Sip

As evident from lack of posting, I’ve had a pretty busy simmer so far. Between 55+ hour work week schedule, planning a wedding, and moving, I’ve attempted to do a few fun things. I’ve met a few times with my sister’s Meetup knitting group, Stitch and Sip hosted by the lovely Gina. The group is out of my sister’s neighborhood-Northern Liberties/Fishtown area of Philadelphia and as you guessed it, we basically meet at bars and restaurants, drink, talk, and knit. It’s pretty much the best idea ever. I only started knitting a couple months ago when Mackenzie insisted I learned. (Insisted means literally shoving a ball of yarns and wooden needles in my hand and forcing me to knit stitch.)

Luckily for Mackenzie it turns out I’m not half bad at this knitting thing, so I stuck with it. Plus, I like meeting new people and drinking while knitting.
A couple of weeks ago I did just that with Mackenzie and organizer-extraordinaire, Gina at The Awesome Fest’s free 80’s movie night at Drexel Park in University City. So this is kind of about both events…and picnicking.

Awesome Fest is responsible for events all over Philadelphia this summer featuring the best 80’s movies, bands, and events. We camped out for Space Balls, the Mel Brooks classic, in my opinion at least. 

We were the first ones there—in order to knit before the movie of course! As Mackenzie is the ultimate picnic connoisseur, we both sat on specially made picnic blankets, (made by her,) drinking wine in plastic “camping” wine glasses, and eating strawberry shortcake in mason jars.

Here’s the impressive spread:

Wine (the only thing I provided)

Individual strawberry shortcakes with separate cream bottle which I envy. Never was a summer dessert so portable and attractive.

Plastic camping wine glasses and silverware rollups

Broccoli tuna casserole (yeah, that’s what that is.)

Great company and knitting.

Look at this beauty!

To say the least, I was really impressed by the Awesome Fest set up. The movie was luckily only an hour and a half since it didn’t start until nearly 9pm. I love the inflatable screen and the fact that they gave out tickets to see Flock of Seagulls afterwards…

Watch the progression of attendees...


Mackenzie and I are obviously outdoor movie experts due to the local Drive In movie theater we always had in our small town. We got the best spot, which all the latecomers proceeded to crowd all around us blocking our view. Thank goodness I had a blanket out because they went right to the edges! But, hey there was a great view of Center City, “refreshments”

If you are in the Philly area this summer, you still have many chances to catch one of these free movies all over the city, including ones shown at The Oval, right outside the Art Museum on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, which just opened last week.

What are some of your favorite summer events to attend? Fairs, outdoor movies, festivals, clambakes…cassette player swaps, Star Wars conventions, etc. etc.

The Cuisiner

Monday, July 15, 2013

French Lentil Salad with Tuna Steak

I must say, as much as I love Fall and Winter with their hearty meals and root vegetables, when it is 100+ outside, mashed potatoes just don't do it for me.

That's why I when I get to experiment with them, I really do love Summer meals with fresh vegetables, light dressings, and grilled meats. That's why when I finally got to experiment with green lentils, I chose this light green lentil salad with tuna steak.

I was really happy with the results of my little experiment, adapted from Whole You can choose to eat these lentils warm or cold. They honestly taste good either way. I wouldn't suggest piping hot though, as this is most flavorful when slightly warm.

But don't worry! This makes great leftovers for the next day's lunch as the salad lasts up to three days when refrigerated.

And of course, I love how healthy, easy, and satisfying this dish is as a whole meal. This is a great Summer meal that is full of protein and low-fat deliciousness. If you can, try grilling the tuna steak, gently in foil on the grill for the best flavors of summer.

This is also one of the most easy recipes to make vegetarian or vegan: simply omit the tuna steak and substitute water or vegetable broth for the chicken stock.

French Lentil Salad with Tuna Steak

(Adapted from Whole Living)
2-3 meal portions


1 cup green lentils (or any type except red which turn to mush)
2 cups chicken broth 
1 carrot diced
1 shallot diced
3 stalks of celery diced
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 tablespoons herb de Provence oil
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon honey or agave nectar
5 leaves sage, chopped
Red pepper flakes to taste
1 tsp lemon zest
Juice half lemon
Salt to taste

6 kalamata olives, halved
1/4 cup red cabbage shredded
1/2 cup toasted almonds
Fresh basil or mint on top
Note: If you don't have herb de provence oil, try another infused olive oil such as garlic or truffle. If you don't have herb de provence oil, I recommend buying a bottle immediately!

Heat the 1 tbsp. of olive oil over medium heat in a medium pot or saucepan. Add onion, garlic, carrot, and celery, and sauté, stirring occasionally for 5-6 minutes, until tender and lightly browned.

Add lentils and cover mixture with with 2 inches of chicken broth (water or vegetable broth.)
This  is a difficult measurement to eye-ball, so after 20 minutes, if lentils are still crunchy, simply add ½ cup of broth or water at a time until tender.

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until lentils are tender, about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine all dressing ingredients, and whisk together. Set aside. 

Drain lentils if necessary, reserving liquid. Let mixture cool to preference.

In same saucepan, gently combine lentils and dressing, trying not to crush the cooked lentils. 

Mix in optional ingredients and herbs into the lentil mixture. Top with tuna steak.

Tuna steak:
1/4 lb. tuna steak for each serving 
2 leaves sage, torn 
Drizzle herb de Provence oil
1 tsp. salt
Generous sprinkling of ground black pepper
Sprinkle garlic powder


Dress tuna steak with sage, oil, salt and pepper then place in prepared, foil lined baking dish.
Bake in oven at 350 until no longer pink but sill tender. Check around 15-20 minutes, and then continue to bake, adjusting heat if necessary. Tuna steak is much heartier than other fish and should be cooked more like beef or chicken. Just don't over cook!
Shredd tuna with a fork into large pieces and use to top the lentil salad.
Eat and be merry.
The College Cuisiner
Have you experimented with lentils? What's your favorite lentil recipe?