Hello Fun Seekers

The Passionate Pursuit of Delight

Page 2 of 13

Parmesan Garlic Clams

Parmesean Garlic Clams overhead shot

I used to feel intimidated by the thought of cooking clams. How do I store them once I get home? What do I need to do to prep them for cooking? It all seemed somewhat overwhelming. But, you know what they say, you should do one thing every day that scares you. I am so glad that one day I decided to face my fear and figure out how to cook clams. Boy, am I glad that I did because these Parmesan Garlic Clams are now part of my repertoire.

Besides fresh clams, the key to this type of preparation is having a flavorful broth to cook the clams in. In order to make Parmesan Garlic Clams, you will use butter, white wine, and broth as the base and shallot and garlic for flavor. A pinch of crushed red pepper flakes add a spicy note. But, a crucial part of this dish is having a crusty baguette available to soak up that delicious broth.

Parmesean Garlic Clams-18

The most important part of the process is getting clams that fresh and have been properly handled. I only buy fresh clams from my fish market or local grocery store whose fish department has a reputation for selling high-quality, fresh fish.

Clams should smell like the ocean and their shells should be closed. Tap any partially opened shells about the counter and if they don’t close then discard them. You want the clams to remain alive prior to cooking them so leave them exposed to the air so that they don’t smother. I usually place the bag in a bowl of ice with the top of the bag left open in the fridge.

Digging for Clams

About an hour or two before you plan to cook the clams remove them from the fridge and give each clam shell a scrub with a kitchen brush. Then, gently place the clams in a large bowl full of water. Let the clams soak in the water for about an hour. They will dispel any sand or grit that is in their shells. Gritty clams are the worst so be sure to do this step. You can read this informative article from Bon Appetit about clams if you want to learn more.

I love to serve Parmesan Garlic Clams with a salad, a crisp white wine, and crusty loaf bread.

Parmesean Garlic Clams-33

How to Make Parmesan Garlic Clams

Other seafood recipes that you may want to check out:

Parmesan Garlic Clams pin

 

Colcannon

Colcannon-6

St. Patrick’s Day is just over a week away and what better way to celebrate with a traditional Irish dish. Colcannon is mashed potatoes with cabbage or kale. As with many traditional dishes, every family has its own way in which they make it their own. But, the basics include creamy mashed potatoes with softened greens, and scallions or chives. I added garlic to this Colcannon recipe because it is delicious and while I am half Irish, I am also half Italian.

The first consideration is which type of potatoes to use. Colcannon is traditionally made with russet potatoes but I have made it with Yukon gold potatoes too and love the way it turns out. For the greens, you can use cabbage, kale, or Swiss chard. The cabbage maintains more crunch which is a nice contrast to the mashed potatoes. Kale and Swiss chard with soften more but they do share a more vibrant green color which is pretty. My recommendation is to use whichever green you prefer.

Colcannon-4

A few more words about greens. Do you grow your own greens? They are so easy to grow! Now is the time to start planting seeds. I grow greens in raised beds, window boxes, and various sized pots. Some of my favorite greens to grow are arugula (sometimes called rocket), mesclun mix, kale, and Swiss chard.

I adore Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds and pleasure read the catalog all winter long. Visit their website for inspiration. Seriously, can we talk about the gorgeously colored stems on this Swiss chard? In the garden, greens keep on giving all until the summer heat makes them bolt. The good news is that you can replant again in the fall.

Colcannon-1

Colcannon and St. Patrick’s Day

Fun fact: St. Patrick’s Day falls during the Lenten season for Christians but the restrictions on eating and drinking alcohol are lifted which is one of the reasons that the holiday is associated with rowdy behavior. Another thing you may not know about Irish culture is that Colcannon is not only a traditional Irish dish, it is also a song!

This recipe was created in partnership with We Olive. 

If you are are interested in hearing more about Ireland you may want to check these posts:

Colcannon vertical image for Pinterest

Welsh Rarebit

Welsh Rarebit with arugula salad

When I was a kid I thought Welsh rarebit was dish featuring rabbit. I don’t know why, I just did. Did you?  I also thought that the expression ‘making ends meet’ referred to a recipe for dinner. I am embarrassed to tell you that I was well into adulthood before I figured out that Welsh rarebit is another name for fancy cheese toast and cheese toast is something that I can get 100% behind.

My intention for this post to gather some background information about why the recipe is called Welsh rarebit and I started with Wikipedia and surprise!  It sounds like many people thought Welsh rarebit was made with rabbit meat. Perhaps I wasn’t such a dummy when I was a kid.

Welsh rarebit - Wikipedia

But now I know better and I want to make sure that you know about Welsh rarebit and that you try and fall in love with it like I have. I mean toasted bread with cheese sauce ladled over it. C’mon, what is not to love?

Welsh Rarebit-5

I love to use slices of leftover baguette to make Welsh rarebit. If you slice the bread on a diagonal you will get a little more toasty surface to soak up the cheese sauce. I like to melt a little butter to a cast iron skillet and then add the slices of bread. Cook until golden and then flip to toast the other side.

Toasting bread for Welsh rarebit

Remove the toast from the skillet and place on a plate while you make the cheese sauce. Adding beer, Worcestershire sauce, and dry mustard add savory notes to the cheese. I recommend using sharp cheddar for a little extra punch. Adding an egg yolk to the cheese sauce at the very end also makes the sauce rich and silky.

How to Make Welsh Rarebit

I like to serve Welsh rarebit alongside an arugula salad that is lightly dressed with olive oil, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, sea salt, and fresh cracked pepper. The combo is delicious! 

 

If Welsh rarebit sounds good, you may also like these recipes:

Welsh rarebit vertical image

 

Visiting Palm Springs

That Pink Door

Every February I try to plan a vacation to somewhere warm and sunny. I find that once the holidays are over winter tends to feel as though it is dragging on and on. So, having a trip to look forward to helps me to get through the cold, dark days of winter. This February I decided to plan a trip to visit Palm Springs, California. Have you been? It was my first time and I am certain that it won’t be my last.

I hit a milestone birthday this February too. A big milestone. It rhymes with nifty. In order to celebrate properly, I found this Airbnb with its incredible pool and hot tub and enough space for my sweetie and I and my two grown kids.

Mid-century Modern

Quite coincidentally after booking the Airbnb I discovered that Modernism week was being held in Palm Springs the week while we were going to be there. Modernism week celebrates Mid-century modern architecture and design, fashion, and culture.

Atomic Ranch House Tour-2

Atomic Ranch House Tour-4

Hundreds of events are scheduled during that week. My daughter and I went to two events, both events featured house tours of midcentury modern beauties. I will write up separate posts with lots of pictures from those events. But, here a few of my favorites.

We also did a self-guided ‘door tour’ of Palm Springs. Many homes in the area feature boldly colorful front doors and despite feeling a little geeky and stalker-like I was able to snap a nice collection of doors.

Door Tour Teal DoorDoor Tour- Yellow Door

Things to Do in Palm Springs

Another highlight I would recommend when visiting Palm Springs are Villagefest which occurs Thursday evenings in downtown Palm Springs. The road is closed to cars and musicians, artists, food venders set up booth in the street. Many of the shops stay open late on Thursdays too.

For those of you who enjoy the quirky road-side attraction you may want to check out Cabazon Dinosaurs.  This place is a trip! It was started in the 1960s by a sculptor and theme park artist. This Wikipedia article suggests that the place was sold in the 1990s after his death and since then has been a creationist museum and gift shop.

Joshua Tree National Park

Finally, if you are visiting Palm Springs you may want to consider the hour-long drive to Joshua Tree National Park. The park includes parts of two deserts, the higher elevation Mojave Desert and the lower Colorado Desert. The landscape is filled with Joshua Trees and outcroppings of rock. It is unlike anywhere I have ever seen.

Joshua Tree outcrop of rock

Joshua Tree National Park

Despite being in Palm Springs for a week, there are many things that I didn’t have time to do. I will definitely plan another trip there to check out the tram, photograph some of the hotels and street art. Plus, I always research restaurants before a trip and never have enough meals available to try all the places I want to go!

I would love to hear if you have recommendations of things to do, places to see, or foods to try in Palm Springs.

Vertical photos of Palm Springs

Green Papaya Salad

Green Papaya Salad

Thai food lovers rejoice! If you love Green Papaya Salad (sometimes called Som Tum on Thai menus) you will be excited to learn that it is very easy make at home. Green Papaya salad is light, healthy, and so fresh tasting. It is one of my favorite Thai dishes whether I am dining at a Thai restaurant or cooking Thai food at home.

If you live near an Asian market, you can make this Thai restaurant favorite quickly and easily. If you haven’t ever ventured into an Asian market or any ethnic market for that matter, here is an article I wrote about why you should.

Green Papaya Salad overhead shot

First, go to the produce section. Asian markets have incredible produce, much of it may be new to you. Typically, there are an amazing array of greens, mushrooms, and potatoes. But, today you will want to look for a green papaya which looks like a dark green football. Green papayas are unripe papaya, so, instead of sweet orange flesh the unripe flesh is crisp. If you cannot find green papayas locally, you can substitute cucumbers which are similar in texture albeit more watery.

Another important part of this recipe is the serrated peeler. Using this peeler will result in thin strips of vegetable similar to julienne slices. Serrated peelers can be found on Amazon and at Asian markets. You will use the serrated peeler on the green papaya and carrots. If you have a mandonline slicer you can also use the julienne blade to slice the veggies.

Once the veggies are sliced, you just need to combine the dressing ingredients in a small bowl or Mason jar. Thai food always focuses on the balance of flavors between sweet, sour, salty, and spicy. This dressing combines all those flavors for a nicely balanced dressing.

Pour the dressing over the veggies and toss to combine. Garnish with chopped peanuts and fresh herbs before serving.

Green Papaya Salad aka Som Tum

Carrot Scallion Coriander Salad

3/4 shot of carrot scallion coriander salad

Have you seen the beautiful colorful carrots in the market lately? I have been seeing bags of full-sized colorful carrots for a while now in grocery stores. But, just recently I have seen bags of colorful baby carrots too. So, recently I picked up a few bags of those colorful babies and wanted to figure out a way to showcase their bright colors in a crisp carrot salad.

In case you were wondering, the colorful carrots while a bit bling-y taste just like orange carrots but the range of colors are best showcased in raw carrots. Cooking or roasting the carrots will mute their vibrancy a little. Fortunately, no cooking is necessary for this recipe. All you need to do is a little slicing and chopping.

Overhead shot of two plates of carrot scallion coriander salad

You know that I am a mandoline slicer evangelist. I use this kitchen tool ALL THE TIME! For example, here are a few recipes which are a breeze to make when you use a mandolin: Golden Beet and Cucumber Salad, Maple Walnut Crostini and Spicy Cucumber Salad with Peanuts.

How to Make Carrot Scallion Coriander Salad

But, back to this deliciously crisp and colorful carrot scallion salad. You can make the dressing ahead of time if you like. I toasted raw walnut pieces for a few a few minutes in a small pan on the stove top. Toasting the nuts brings out the flavor so don’t skip this step. I used my mandoline to slice the radishes and carrots. Instead of slicing the carrots into rounds, I held the carrots on the side and sliced them into ribbons. Don’t you think they look pretty?

Once your veggies are sliced, place them on a platter. You can also make four individual plates of salad if you prefer. Next drizzle the dressing evenly over the veggies and then top with walnuts. If you are a walnut fan you could substitute a different nut. I think pistachios would be very nice too.

Carrot Scallion Coriander Salad

Good Woman Playlist

Good Woman Spotify Playlist Graphic

Here at Hello Fun Seekers we take music seriously. But, the playlist we share today is more serious than most of what we have shared on this site.

Today’s playlist is dedicated to all the women who have stood up and told the truth about what happened to them. Truths that they have kept to themselves for a long time.

I want to commend my friend Courtney for compiling this playlist called Good Woman. She honors the rage and hope we feel as more instances of sexual misconduct come forward. To women, we hear you, we believe you, and we are here for you.

If you haven’t heard, this week, former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar is in court listening to impact testimony during criminal sentencing.  One hundred women who he abused over the last two decades are expected to testify. The CNN article following today’s proceedings can be found here.

Here are Courtney’s words and songs.

“…He didn’t account for the fact that the scared little girls would become brave, fearless women who would turn the tables and see him rot in jail.” Jacob Denhollander via Twitter (husband of gymnast Rachael Denhollander)

 

This playlist is a good one when you are feeling that combination of rage and pride and hope and more rage when you hear woman after woman coming forward to tell their stories of abuse by men in positions of power and the structures that kept them silent, and empowered their abusers for so long.

My current source of rage/pride/hope/rage centers around the biggest crime currently in sports history. Over 150 women and girls including Olympic and world champion athletes are coming forward with stories of decades long abuse that has been hidden and enabled within USA gymnastics and Michigan State University.

The Songs

The playlist starts out with the classic “Endangered Species” by Dianne Reeves, followed up by empowering anthems by Alicia Keys and Nicki Minaj, Sia, Janelle Monae, and Erykah Badu.

In addition to the anthems, there are songs that celebrate being tender, vulnerable, and sometimes broken like “Better Son/Daughter” by Rilo Kiley, “Tenderhearted” by Sara Watkins, “Jenny Lynn” by Katie Herzig, and “Good Woman” by Cat Power. These traits are often mistaken for weakness, but without which, there can be no real strength.

The playlist concludes with Brandi Carlile’s new song “The Joke” in which she tells us she’s seen how this ends, and the joke’s on them, and Kesha’s “Praying” which was inspired by her experience being abused by her producer at Sony.

This playlist helps me to remember there are far more heroes than villains in this story: Aly and Lynn Raisman, Rachael Denhollander, Maggie Nichols, McKayla Maroney, Lindsey Lemke, Kaylee Lorincz, Marcia Frederick, Gabby Douglas, Sarah Jantzi, etc.

It also reminds me of how grateful I am for all of the strong women in my life.

#timesup

 

 

Golden Beet and Cucumber Salad

Two plates of golden beet and cucumber salad

Sometimes the simplest food is the best food. I certainly think that this is the case with this Golden Beet and Cucumber Salad. I am an advocate for menu planning and grocery lists. But, sometimes you have to go to the market and buy what looks fresh and amazing. This was the case last weekend when I spied the most beautiful golden beets. The beets were small and their greens were incredibly lush and vibrant. I knew I had to build a salad recipe where the beets were the star.

So, the first thing that I did when I got home was removed the beet greens, ran them through the salad spinner, then separated the stems from the leaves. I sautéed the stems with onion and garlic until tender, added the thinly sliced leaves until wilted, and finished the greens with red pepper flakes, and a splash of red wine vinegar. I enjoyed the greens with some mashed potatoes. So good!

Overhead shot of golden beet and cucumber salad

But, enough about the beet greens, let’s get to the Golden Beet and Cucumber Salad. Trim both ends of the beets and peel to remove skin. I always use care when peeling the beets because I want to keep the round shape and avoid angular edges.

I like to use Persian cucumbers for this salad. They are small, sweet, and tender. If you can’t find Persian cucumbers you can substitute English (aka hothouse) cucumbers. If you must use regular cucumbers be sure to peel them and consider removing the seeds.

Thinly sliced radishes add a little heat and peppery crunch to the salad. If you hate radishes, then feel free to omit them from the dish. But, I like the contrast of flavor and color.

Golden Beet and cucumber salad

This Golden Beet and Cucumber Salad comes together so quickly if you use a mandoline. I use these mandoline from OXO several times per week. I ordered here from Amazon (affiliate link) It slices vegetables so thin that it is ridiculous. Most humans couldn’t achieve that thin slice with a knife.

Here are few other beet recipes that you may enjoy:

Golden Beet and Cucumber long vertical image for Pinterest

Chili Lime Salmon Tacos

Plate with three chili lime salmon tacos

It doesn’t need to be a Tuesday for me put tacos on the menus. Every single day is a perfect day for tacos in my book. Currently, I am crushing so hard on these Chili Lime Salmon Tacos.

Did you hear the news? US News & World Reports released their 2018 assessment of diets. Any guesses on what diet came in first? The Mediterranean diet tied for first among a panel of nutritionists, dietary consultants and physicians specializing in diabetes, heart health and weight loss. Tied for first with the Mediterranean diet is the DASH diet which is a diet recommended by many doctors to help control blood pressure.

Tray with two chili lime salmon tacos Curious to hear what diets didn’t fare as well? Spoiler alert: Keto and Whole 30 both brought up the rear end of the analysis. So for the love of all things holy, please stop focusing on these diets. In what universe could it possibly make sense that a steak is health food and lentils are bad? It just doesn’t make any sense. For once and all, can we agree that whole grain carbs are not the enemy? Seriously, they are not.

How to Make Chili Lime Salmon Tacos

Alright, stepping off my soapbox now and moving on from the ranting to the recipe for these Chili Lime Salmon Tacos. All you the salmon needs a little seasoning in the form of salt, pepper, and chili powder and a few minutes on the either the grill or skillet. Watch the fish closely while it is on the heat. You don’t want to overcook it.

Overhead shot of plate of chili lime salmon tacos

The fish will change color moving from the bottom which is in contact with the heat moving upward. Once it gets about one-third of the way up the fillet flip it over to the other side. The second side will cook quickly so remove from the heat when the cook line starts moving up. The fish will continue to cook even after it is removed from the heat.

Let the salmon rest while you cut up the veggies and make the spicy cilantro sauce. Once your other ingredients are prepped just break the fillets up into bite-sized chunks and assemble your tacos.

Other salmon recipes you may want to check out:

Long vertical image of chili lime tacos with words overlaid for Pinterest

Best Children’s Books by Age

Holiday Book Guide for Kids

I love giving the gift of books. Curling up with a books has always been my happy place. This is one trait that I am happy to have passed on to my daughter. Now, she is a librarian at New York Public Library (NYPL for those in the know).

I asked her to put together a list of recommended books for kids of all ages. Not only are books a gift that keeps on giving but they are also super easy to wrap. Ha! So, check out this list of NYPL librarian recommended books for kids of all ages on your list.

Ages 0-5

Edible Colors: See, Learn, Eat by Jennifer Vogel Bass
Sometimes broccoli is purple! Sometimes cherries are yellow! Learn about food and colors in this board book with gorgeous pictures of unusually colored foods.

Cozy Classics: Pride and Prejudice by Jack and Holman Wang
It’s never too early to start reading classics, according to the folks at Cozy Classics. These board books drill the plot of famous works like Pride and Prejudice down to one word per page next to adorable felt characters.

Round is a Tortilla by Roseanne Thong
Learn about the delicious ingredients found in Mexican cuisine while also reviewing shapes!

I Want To Be in a Scary Story
Little Monster wants this picture book to be a scary story…but not too scary of course.

Ages 5-13

I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsberg Makes Her Mark by Debbie Levy
Learn about the importance of standing up for what you believe in while also learning about the childhood of RBG.

Not Quite Narwhal by Jessie Simi
A little unicorn raised by narwhals discovers that there are more creatures just like him on land. Is he a sea unicorn or a land narwhal?

Lumberjanes Vol 1-5 by Noelle Stevenson
It’s friendship to the max and girl power in this series about a freaky summer camp where things are just a bit odd: three-eyed foxes, yetis, and other mystical creatures roam the woods.

Booked by Kwame Alexander
The soccer enthusiast in your life will love this novel-in-verse about school and family struggles while trying to be the best out on the field.

Ages 13-19+

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
This gritty drama has been at the top of the New York Time’s Best Seller list for months for a reason: timely and gut-wrenching it holds nothing back as Starr Carter explores questions about race relations in America today.

One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus
The Breakfast Club meets murder in a thrilling novel of lies and secrets. Five students enter detention, only four are alive by the end. As they take turns telling the aftermath of the murder, it’s clear that each one has a secret to hide. But don’t forget, someone is lying.

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake
A dark and twisted tale: each generation queen triplets are born, separated, and raised apart to hone their abilities. The queens will re-meet when they are 16: the last one alive gets the throne.

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
An unexpected romance blossoms when an Indian family traditional values collide with two teens’ aspirations.

Be sure to check out the Hello Fun Seekers Holiday Gift Guides for:

Page 2 of 13

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén