9/30/15

Delicata Squash Boats With Spicy Chicken Balls And Mozzarella & #CareToFarm15


In the words of Joel McHale from The Soup, Let's talk about chicks, man!

Did I grab your attention? I hope so.

Last week I flew to Greenville, North Carolina courtesy of Phibro to learn about chickens. My transportation, hotel and meals were taken care of. All I had to do was show up, learn, eat, and mingle with other bloggers. I was excited, but also a bit nervous.

I'm a city girl. What do I know about raising chickens? Honestly, not much. It was only a few months ago that I had to ask my good friend Era who has her own chickens how they have fresh eggs without having a rooster. I'm not even kidding!

In case you are as clueless as I was, you don't need a rooster to get an egg (the kind of egg you buy at the grocery store or farmers market and turn into an omelet or egg salad, etc). If you want the type of an egg that will eventually turn into a little chick and then a grown chicken, you need a rooster. To fertilize the egg.


Easy enough.

Phibro is a company in the business of taking care of animals. We met with the Senior Vice President of Phibro, Warren Harper, and veterinarian Leah Dorman, just to name a few. I was amazed at how passionate these two were about doing their best to provide the best life for chickens (before we ate them!).

If you are a vegetarian, I guess you can skip this post.

During the trip we visited a hatchery and saw the process of how eggs are hatched. I loved how clean the facility was and how every aspect was controlled: the temperature, the humidity, the rotation of the eggs.  We also saw the little chicks after they hatched. I even held one! That was a big step for me.

The little chicks were vaccinated: that's to protect them. By the time we eventually consume the chickens, there is no trace of vaccine in them.

The next step was for the little chicks to go to the poultry farm. I was a bit nervous that we'll be inside a house with a zillion chickens on top of one another. That was not the case at all. Instead, the little chicks had plenty of space, monitored food and water, and again controlled heat, humidity, etc.

They were really well taken care of.

After I came home, I decided to make a recipe using ground chicken. You could also use pork or turkey. It's up to you.

Delicata Squash Boats With Spicy Chicken Balls And Mozzarella
Makes 4

Ingredients
2 delicata squash, halved lengthwise, seeds removed
olive oil
salt & pepper
1 pound ground chicken
1 egg
1/4 cup panko
2 tablespoons half & half
1 chipotle in adobo sauce, minced
1 tablespoon adobo sauce {use less if you don't like spicy food}
8 basil leaves, chopped
14.5 ounce can tomato sauce
20 tiny mozzarella balls, or use 1 cup shredded mozzarella
garnish: basil leaves
side: rice


Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place delicata squash cut side up into a baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 50 minutes.
2. In a bowl, combine ground chicken, egg, panko crumbs, chipotle, adobo sauce, half & half, and basil. Season with salt and pepper. Make meatballs. I made 12.
3. Heat olive oil in a skillet and brown the chicken meatballs until they are golden brown on all sides. Remove from the skillet.
4. Add tomato sauce into the skillet and bring to a simmer. Add back the meatballs and simmer covered for 20 minutes.
5. Once the squash is roasted, add meatballs into the "boats" making sure to cover them with tomato sauce. Top with mozzarella and bake for 10 more minutes until the cheese has melted.
6. Serve with fresh basil and a side of rice.




These were really great and reheat well as leftovers. The skin of the delicata squash gets soft enough during the roasting process to eat.


Disclosure: The trip accommodations were paid by Phibro. I'm not compensated for this post. All opinions are my own.

9/28/15

Roasted Carrot And Sweet Potato Tzimmes From The Seasonal Jewish Kitchen By Amelia Saltsman


I'm a bad Jew.

There, I said it.

I don't keep kosher. I don't date Jewish men. I don't fast on Yom Kippur.

BUT I love Jewish food and traditions and culture, and have a pretty star of David pendant I bought in Israel years ago...so maybe I'm not that bad after all ;)

Speaking of Jewish food, I was excited to receive a preview copy of Amelia Saltsman's cookbook The Seasonal Jewish Kitchen a few weeks ago from Sterling Epicure. The first thing that impressed me about the book were the gorgeous photos by Staci Valentine: I'm somewhat tempted to cut a few of them out and frame them for my kitchen's gallery wall.

The format of the cookbook is different from your typical appetizers, main course and dessert. Instead, Amelia organizes the chapters by the month of the year starting with September because that's the start of the Jewish New Year.

Each chapter has recipes using seasonal ingredients, descriptions of holidays, sample menu ideas and personal stories. The end of the book contains an index of dishes by course (starters, salads, soups, sides, etc). I love that the recipes come from many parts of the world: this gives the book a global feel and a wider appeal. You don't have to be Jewish to cook from this book: you simply have to love good food.

The first recipe I tried was Roasted Carrot And Sweet Potato Tzimmes. I simplified the directions and scaled the recipe down. See my thoughts below.

"Tzimmes is an eastern European stew of carrots and/or sweet potatoes and prunes traditionally cooked with beef flanken, often sweetened with brown or white sugar, and sometimes thickened with flour. In Yiddish, the word tzimmes means "a big fuss."


Roasted Carrot And Sweet Potato Tzimmes From The Seasonal Jewish Kitchen By Amelia Saltsman
Slightly altered from the original recipe

Ingredients
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled, quartered lengthwise, then each piece cut into 3-4 cubes
4 carrots, peeled, cut into 2" pieces
2 large shallots, peeled, quartered
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt & pepper to taste
10 prunes, halved
zest and juice of 2 oranges {I used a peeler to make long ribbons and then cut them into strips}
zest of 1 lemon {I used a peeler to make long ribbons and then cut them into strips}

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
2. In a baking dish combine all the ingredients: I used 9x13" Le Creuset. {One pot meal!}
3. Make sure the vegetables and prunes are in one layer as they go into the oven.
4. Roast the vegetables for about an hour making sure to turn them a few times.
5. Serve over rice.

{before}



{after}


My condo smelled amazing! This dish can be served hot or at room temperature and will be a great vegetarian side to grace any holiday table. Definitely bookmark this recipe for Thanksgiving!



I have at least 10 other recipes that I want to make from Amelia's cookbook! Stay tuned for matza brei recipe I made yesterday for breakfast: I'll write about it next week.

Disclosure: I received a copy of the cookbook but am not being compensated for this post. All opinions are my own.

9/21/15

Fennel And Kohlrabi Salad With Fruit And Mango Vinaigrette


Happy Monday! Are you trying to eat better? Are you trying to follow Meatless Monday rules? Are you not a fan of lettuce? If you answered yes to any or all of these questions, then my Fennel And Kohlrabi Salad With Fruit And Mango Vinaigrette is perfect for you!

Over the weekend I tried to use most of the produce I ordered from Washington Green Grocer because I'll be out of town at the end of the week. I also tried to eat somewhat better after a decadent meal I had at Art & Soul on Friday.

The salad contains no lettuce: that's how I like it. Instead, it combines strong flavors from fennel and kohlrabi with the sweetness of apples and peaches. The vinaigrette uses mango butter I made earlier, but if you don't have it, you can use peach jam or apple butter.


Fennel And Kohlrabi Salad With Fruit And Mango Vinaigrette
Serves 1-2

Ingredients
1 fennel bulb, bottom trimmed, thinly sliced
1-2 kohlrabi, pealed, thinly sliced
1 apple, thinly sliced
1 peach, thinly sliced

vinaigrette
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons mango butter
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced (or use a microplane!)
salt & pepper to taste

garnish
fennel tops


Directions
1. In a bowl, place all the sliced vegetables and fruit.
2. Whisk together vinaigrette ingredients. Taste. You may want to add more oil or mango butter or salt.
3. Dress the salad with the vinaigrette and top with fennel tops.



I loved the textures, colors and flavors of this salad. Part of the salad screamed summer (peaches), while the other part of the salad (apples) said welcome fall!


9/18/15

Where To Have Brunch In Capitol Hill: Hank's Oyster Bar


It's almost the weekend! There is no secret that I love a weekend brunch. Sometimes I stay in and cook, sometimes I go out.

Today I wanted to give a shout out to an awesome brunch I had at Hank's Oyster Bar last month. It all started when a friend told me her friend will be visiting DC and wanted me to give a few suggestions for touristy things to do. I love showing people around my city and sharing my favorite places to check out. Priya's friend Francesca was visiting DC for the first time and had scheduled a tour of the Capitol building late Saturday morning. I thought brunch in the Eastern Market area would be perfect. We met. Ate. Strolled around Eastern Market. Perfect!!!

I love that Hank's Oyster Bar starts each meal with a bowl of gold fish crackers. For free.

I had a Bloody Mary to start my brunch and it was awesome. Not too boozy. Spicy. Delicious.

We then ordered a few oysters to share. This was Francesca's first time eating oysters and I have a feeling it will not be her last.


For my main entrée I ordered smoked trout hash in dill sauce. I had to hold off from licking the plate.


And for dessert, each person dining at Hank's gets a free bowl of dark chocolate chunks. What a great idea!!! I wish every restaurant did this ;)
 


Where have you had brunch lately?

9/16/15

What To Do With Dried Mangoes? Mango Butter Recipe!




Happy Wednesday!

How often do you clean your refrigerator? I don't do it often enough, so when last week I took everything out in order to clean my fridge, I found a bag of dried mangoes my parents sent me when I broke my arm over a year ago.

At first I considered throwing away the dried mangoes, but then I felt guilty. My parents spent the money to buy and ship the mangoes and it was such a sweet gesture. So..............I made mango butter!!

This is a method and not a recipe per say.

Ingredients
2 cups dried mangoes
3 cups water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Place dried mangoes into a cooking vessel: a skillet or a pot or a pan.
2. Cover the dried mangoes with water and add a few drops of vanilla extract.
3. Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer until the mangoes become soft and most of the water is evaporated.
4. Cool the mixture and add to a blender. Blend until smooth.

You can't imagine how sweet my condo smelled. Speaking of sweetness, my dried mangoes were super sweet so there was no need to add sugar. You can do as you please.

So far I've had the mango butter on toast with peanut butter and also made something cold with it: stay tuned!

9/14/15

Apple Walnut Honey Cake For Rosh Hashanah


Last night was Jewish New Year known as Rosh Hashanah. Although you may find multiple spellings of the name, a few things remain the same: you are encouraged to eat honey and apples to signify sweet things to come in the new year. Who doesn't want a bit of sweetness?

To celebrate the New Year I baked Apple Walnut Honey Cake adapted from a recipe I made a few years back for Honey Nut Date Cake that was mildly adapted from Tori Avey's recipe.

Now that I've properly given credit to the origins of the recipe, let me tell you about a few changes that I've made.

1. I did not have cake flour. Luckily, Lisa told me I can make my own: for each cup of regular flour, take out 2 tablespoons of flour and add 2 tablespoons of cornstarch.
2. I eliminated the dates and used an apple instead.
3. I was short on oil and used some Greek yogurt to compensate.
4. No nutmeg!!!

{Note, I did not use a pomegranate in the recipe. I wanted to show you a cute idea of writing a greeting or a person's name on a pomegranate to use as decoration or a name card before eating it! Also, pomegranates are important in Judaism...not to mention delicious!!}


Apple Walnut Honey Cake
Makes 1 8" loaf

Ingredients
1 cup flour, minus 2 tablespoons
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 small apple or 3/4 large apple, chopped
oil for the cake pan


Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
2. Sift together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and cinnamon. Add salt. If you try to sift the salt, it'll stay in the sieve because the holes are too small.
3. In a separate bowl whisk oil, yogurt, sugar, honey, eggs and vanilla and add to the flour mixture.
4. Fold in walnuts and apples.
5. Grease the pan with oil and pour in the cake batter. Bake for about an hour or until a toothpick comes out dry when you insert it in the middle of the cake.


Ta da! The cake smelled amazing! Allow the cake to cool before you attempt to remove it from the pan. The pan, by the way, is Polish pottery I bought at Marshalls ;) I ♥ it.



This cake was lighter and less sweet than Tori's original version, but just as good. I liked the walnut pieces on the chunkier side.


This Apple Walnut Honey Cake is perfect as dessert, snack or breakfast with a glass of milk, or a cup of coffee. You can make it any time for a fall get together!


9/11/15

Vegetarian Pinto Beans Breakfast Bowl With A Fried Egg

Breakfast, Brunch, Lunch or Dinner, this Vegetarian Pinto Beans Breakfast Bowl With A Fried Egg is right for any meal!


First, please cook pinto beans from scratch. No need to soak. Add them to a pot, cover with water, add some salt, maybe a few garlic cloves and/or dried chili peppers. Or pepper corns. Or onion skins. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and cook covered for a few hours. I know that sounds hard, but really, you can take a nap, or watch a few episodes of Call the Midwife, or exercise or clean your closet. Your house will be filled with a wonderful warm scent of beans ;)

The rest of the bowl is even easier...as long as you don't overcook the egg as I did.

Salsa, cheese and guacamole.

Serve with toast.


And if you are very ambitious, make sure to make your own bowls ;) As in take a pottery class and make your own dishes out of clay!


I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

9/9/15

Where To Buy Food Styling Props? Make Them!

Hi! I don't have a recipe for you today. Instead, I wanted to share a few of the pieces I've made in my pottery class. Tonight is my last class, so I'll have about 6 more projects to post about later this month, but for now, these are the first ones that I've completed.

Don't you love the combination of blue and yellow?


It has been a long time since my first pottery class in high school. I remember how much I loved working on the wheel and seeing what I can make from a lump of clay. I also remember how heartbreaking it was when a piece you were working on broke or was stolen.

10 weeks ago I signed up for pottery classes at Hinckley Pottery in hopes of getting my creative juices to flow, have some fun activity to look forward to and to make a few pieces I can use in my every day life as well as to feature on the blog.


The piece below was an accident. After making a pretty round little bowl, I bumped into it with my hand causing the opening to become crooked. Instead of throwing away the entire bowl, I decided to cut out a piece of the "mouth." I think it turned out rather pretty. Although the photos below show strawberries, currently I'm using it to hold garlic.




The bowl/plate below is my favorite! You'll be seeing it a lot on the blog ;) I love eating out of something that I made with my own hands. The glaze is called mamo, and I love that it's matte finish and really allows the food to shine.



 

The little "jar" below was inspired by two pieces of pottery I bought in Asheville. Unfortunately, it has a hole on the bottom, but I may try to use it as a tiny planter. It was fun to work on making a textured container.



And finally a plant container and a vase. Because I love flowers ;)


9/4/15

Double Dark Chocolate Olive Oil Brownies With Flaky Salt

Happy 3 Day Labor Day weekend! One thing I'm not planning on doing too much of this weekend is laboring ;)

If you are invited to a friend's house or are having friends over for dinner this weekend and want to make an impressive dessert that doesn't take too much time or effort, make my Double Dark Chocolate Olive Oil Brownies With Flaky Salt.

You need to start with a dark chocolate fudge brownie mix. Yes, I said a mix. There's no shame in this. Then, you make one substitution and a few additions and end up with a rather decadent dessert!

Double Dark Chocolate Olive Oil Brownies With Flaky Salt
1. Use olive oil instead of vegetable oil
2. Add chopped bar of dark chocolate into the mix
3. Sprinkle the brownies before baking with flaky salt
4. 5 minutes before brownies are done, sprinkle them with more flaky salt



Ta da!


Have an awesome weekend everyone!