11/8/18

Easy Entertainment: Chili & Cornbread


Cooking for a crowd? Chili and Cornbread is your answer for easy entertainment. I had a few friends come over last Sunday for an arts & crafts lesson and wanted to serve something filling, delicious, but without having to spend hours in the kitchen.

Chili and cornbread is a great idea because you can make chili a day in advance and use a cornbread mix!

Easy Entertainment: Chili & Cornbread

for the chili

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 large onion, diced
3 celery ribs, peeled and diced
2 green peppers, diced
2 pounds ground beef
to taste: chili powder, coriander powder, cayenne pepper, smoked bourbon paprika, salt & pepper
4 cups pinto beans {I cooked mine in a pressure cooker, but you can use 2 cans of beans}
4 cups black beans {I cooked mine in a pressure cooker, but you can use 2 cans of beans}
2 cups chickpeas {I cooked mine in a pressure cooker, but you can use 1 can of beans}
1 can corn
2 cans diced tomatoes

for the cornbread
1 tablespoon butter
1 box of Jiffy cornbread mix
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
1 cup corn (defrosted or fresh or canned)
1 jalapeno, sliced

1) Heat a large heavy bottomed Le Creuset or an equivalent on medium heat. Add oil and allow to heat.
2) Add onion, celery, and peppers and saute for about 10 minutes.
3) Add the spices and saute for another few minutes.
4) Add ground beef and saute until the meat is no longer pink.
5) Add all the beans, corn, and tomatoes. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer covered for a few hours.
6) Make the cornbread as you normally would, but add corn into the mixture and top with jalapenos before baking. I made mine in a cast iron skillet that I preheated in the oven and then let the butter melt inside before adding the batter.

Now let's talk about toppings: I provided cheese, scallions, and sour cream. My friend Sarah brought avocados and salsa. Colleen and Allison brought wine and dessert, and Ming brought canvases and paints for us to use for the art project.

What's your idea of easy entertainment? 

11/6/18

Radicchio & Roasted Squash Salad from Now & Again Cookbook from Julia Turshen


Thanksgiving is a few weeks away and maybe you've already started planning your menu, or maybe just like me you have a few butternut squashes sitting around and are looking for a fun recipe to make with them.

Either way, the Radicchio & Roasted Squash Salad from Julia Turshen's Now & Again Cookbook is a great way to use your butternut squash. My friends at OXO sent me a copy of Julia's book and a few kitchen tools. 

The book is divided into seasons and presents menus and recipes based on special occasions for each. If you, like me, love leftovers, Julia provides plenty of ideas for those too. 

If you've read my blog, you know I love oxo tools. One of my favorites is the angled measuring cup. I had the 2 cup capacity cup and am happy to add the mini one to my collection (see the photo below). I used the cup to measure 4 tablespoons of vinegar for the dressing in the recipe, which equals 1/4 cup.

I have many peelers, but this new one from oxo has a great grip, is light weight, has a swivel blade, and had no trouble peeling the tough skin of the butternut squash. I gave my old peeler to a friend!

Finally, I added fresh parsley to the salad and used oxo's Greensaver Herb Keeper to store the leftover parsley in my fridge. I love that the container is tall and doesn't take up too much space and allows the air to circulate around the herbs which makes them live longer: less money in the garbage!


And now the recipe!


Reprinted  from  Now  &  Again  by  Julia  Turshen  with  permission  by  Chronicle  Books,  2018 
Radicchio  +  Roasted  Squash  Salad 

SERVES  12 

This  salad  is  especially  great  for  the  holiday  not  only  for  its  wonderful  fall  flavors  but  also  because  it’s  hearty  and  can  sit  on  a  buffet  table  for  hours  without  losing  any  integrity  or  flavor.  In  fact,  you  can  mix  the  whole  thing  up  to  a  day  before,  refrigerate  it,  and  then  bring  it  to  room  temperature  before  serving. 

If  you  can  find  delicata  squash,  try  it  (just  seed  it,  no  need  to  peel it).  Note  that  if  you  can’t  find  squash  (or  if  you  dislike  it),  sweet  potatoes  make  an  excellent  substitute. 

3  lb  [1.3  kg]  butternut  squash,  halved  lengthwise,  tough  skin  peeled  and  ends  trimmed  and  discarded,  seeded,  and  cut  into  1-in  [2.5-cm]  pieces 
¾  cup  [180  ml]  olive  oil 
Kosher  salt 
Freshly  ground  black  pepper 
2  Tbsp  Dijon  mustard 
1  Tbsp  honey  or  maple  syrup 
¼  cup  [60  ml]  apple  cider  vinegar 
1  garlic  clove,  minced 
3  heads  radicchio,  each  about  ½  lb  [230  g],  cored  and  thinly  sliced 

Position  one  rack  in  the  center  of  your  oven  and  a  second  rack  in  the  top  third  and  preheat  to  400°F  [200°C].  Line  two  sheet  pans  with  parchment  paper. 

Divide  the  squash  evenly  between  the  prepared  pans,  then  drizzle  each  pan  with  2  Tbsp  of  the  olive  oil  and  season  generously  with  salt  and  pepper.  Use  your  hands  to  toss  everything. 

Roast  the  squash,  stirring  once  or  twice  along  the  way  and  switching  the  pans  between  the  racks  and  rotating  them  back  to  front  halfway  through  the  roasting,  until  softened  and  browned,  about  30  minutes. 

Set  the  squash  aside  to  cool  down  a  bit. 

In  a  large  bowl,  whisk  together  the  mustard,  honey,  vinegar,  and  garlic.  While  whisking  constantly,  slowly  drizzle  in  the  remaining  ½  cup  [120  ml]  olive  oil  to  make  a  dressing.  

Season  to  taste  with  salt  and  pepper.  Add  the  reserved  squash  and  the  radicchio  to  the  bowl  and  use  your  hands  to  combine  everything  gently  (messy,  but  fun). 

Transfer  the  salad  to  a  serving  platter  and  serve  immediately  (or  within  a  few  hours;  it  holds  well  at  room  temperature). 

It’s  Me  Again 
SQUASH  GRILLED  CHEESE 

Make  delicious  vegetarian  sandwiches  by  spreading  mayonnaise  on  both  sides  of  two  slices  of  bread,  top  with  your  favorite  melting  cheese  (such  as  Cheddar  or  Muenster),  and  add  a  large  handful  of  leftover  radicchio  and  squash  salad.  

Close  the  sandwich  and  cook  in  a  skillet until  browned  on  both  sides  and  the  cheese  is  melted,  about  1½  minutes  per  side  (the  mayonnaise  will  help  the  exterior  brown). 


Serve  with  mustard  and  pickles.  See  the  cover  of  the  book  if  you  need  any  convincing!  


This was such an easy recipe to make. I poured the dressing into the oxo squeeze bottle and drizzled it over the salad. That way you can easily store extra dressing in the refrigerator.

I had this salad for breakfast a few days and as part of dinner another night. I added fresh cucumbers and dried cherries to my leftovers!

Thanks oxo for sending me the book and the tools! As always, opinions are my own. I was not paid for this post. 

10/30/18

Rotisserie Chicken Enchilada Casserole


Rotisserie Chicken Enchilada Casserole is a great dish to make and freeze to have for meals after you come back from a vacation. That's exactly what I did before I flew out to Charleston to meet my twin and our two friends.

Of course you can make regular enchiladas by rolling the tortillas, but layering them in a casserole saves time. I used a rotisserie chicken breast, but you can use ground beef or even crumbled tofu. This dish turned out pretty well, but lacked in texture. I think adding corn and/or sauteed onions and peppers would have improved it.

Rotisserie Chicken Enchilada Casserole
This is not an exact recipe ;)

19 ounce can enchilada sauce
8-10 corn tortillas
14.5 ounce can of refried beans
2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken breasts
2-3 cups shredded cheese
fresh parsley, chopped
pickled banana peppers

1) Preheat the oven to 350F.
2) In a small baking dish pour a bit of the sauce. Then layer tortillas/refried beans/chicken/cheese/sauce.
3) Repeat to make 3 layers ending with the cheese and enchilada sauce.
4) Bake the casserole for 30 to 40 minutes and serve topped with parsley and banana peppers.

Not pictured: sour cream is a great topping as is salsa, guacamole and a bit of lime juice.

To freeze, allow the casserole to cool down completely, cut into pieces and freeze.

Thanks Kate and Anna for suggesting this :)

10/24/18

Pureed Cauliflower Soup With Za'atar And Parsley


Pureed Cauliflower Soup With Za'atar And Parsley takes minutes to make and can be vegan if that's your preference.

A few days ago I turned steamed cauliflower and chicken broth into a super quick soup right in my blender. What made this soup extra special were the toppings!


Pureed Cauliflower Soup With Za'atar And Parsley

Ingredients
steamed cauliflower
chicken broth
salt & pepper to taste
chili oil
za'atar
chopped parsley

Directions
1. Puree cauliflower and chicken broth in a blender. Season with salt and pepper. You want to start with two parts cauliflower and 1 part chicken broth and then add more liquid as needed.
2. Heat the soup in a small saucepan and pour into bowls.
3. Drizzle the soup with chili oil and top with za'atar and parsley.

10/22/18

Apricot & Tangerine Zest Biscotti: Hostess Gift


Are you looking for a perfect hostess gift? Apricot & Tangerine Zest Biscotti are not only easy to make, but make a perfect hostess gift that can be snacked on immediately or saved for a day after the party. Plus, you can make them a day or two ahead.

A few weeks ago I signed up to take Domenica Marchetti's workshop about food preservation on the beautiful Star Bright Farm. This Saturday, I drove to the farm with Domenica the day before the workshop and stayed in the guest house Helen and Mark, the owners of the farm, graciously made available for us. I wanted to bring something as a token of appreciation and decided to make one of Domenica's recipes from Ciao Biscotti (and also bring a bottle of wine). My parents taught me to never ever show up empty-handed.

I adapted Domenica's Orange and Pistachio recipe, but used dried apricots instead of pistachios, tangerine zest instead of orange, and almond extract instead of orange extract. 

This recipe used a new-to-me technique of whipping the egg whites separately, then adding sugar, and only then adding the egg yolks. 

Instead of packing the biscotti in a tin or a bag, I put them in one of my favorite oxo products: POP container!

These were a hit ;)


Apricot & Tangerine Zest Biscotti
Adapted from Ciao Biscotti and reprinted with the permission from the author

Ingredients
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 large egggs, separated
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon almond extract
zest of 3 tangerines
3/4 cups vanilla sugar
1 cup diced dried apricots

Directions (I rewrote them in my own words. Domenica's directions are more thorough!)
1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
2. Oil a large baking sheet.
3. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl using a whisk.
4. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks with honey, olive oil, almond extract and tangerine zest.
5. In a large bowl, using a hand mixer, whisk egg whites until foamy. Slowly whisk in the sugar, until the mixture becomes thick, glossy, and sticky.
6. Incorporate the egg yolk mixture into the egg white mixture, and then add the flour mixture and the dried apricots. Using a wooden spoon or a sturdy spatula, mix till all the ingredients are combined.
7. Separate the dough into two parts and form two logs on the baking sheet approximately 2 1/2 inches wide by 12 inches long.
8. Bake the logs for 20 minutes, then gently slide onto a cooling rack using a an offset spatula (I actually used two large fish spatulas) and cool for 20 minutes.
9. Lower oven temperature to 300F.
10. Slice the logs into 1/2 inch pieces and bake for about 8 minutes on each side.
11. Cool biscotti completely before storing in an airtight container.

You can use whichever extract you like and mix in other types of dried fruit or nuts or use a combination of all of the above!

PS No pumpkins were harmed in the makings of the biscotti ;)

10/15/18

Vegan Split Pea Soup In A Pressure Cooker Adapted From SkinnyTaste


It finally feels like Fall, which means it's soup weather (although for me, almost any weather is soup weather). If you are like me and love split pea soup, you'll want to make my vegan version of SkinnyTaste's Split Pea Soup in a pressure cooker! I added potatoes, because that's what my mom always does, took out the meat, and added a few extra spices.

Remember when slightly over two years ago I received a PowerPressureXL to play with in my kitchen? I've loved that pressure cooker and used it often, but a few months ago noticed that the non stick coating started to come off. Luckily, the company has rebranded itself into PowerQuickPot, updated its pressure cooker model and now has a stainless steel insert! I received the new model and tested it out by making the split pea soup.

Vegan Split Pea Soup In A Pressure Cooker Adapted From SkinnyTaste

Ingredients
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 small onion, diced
2 celery ribs, peeled, diced
1 large Russet potato, peeled, cubed into 3/4" pieces
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons curry powder
2 teaspoons bourbon smoked paprika
1 pound dry green split peas, washed well
1 bay leaf
6 cups water
chopped parsley for garnish

Directions
1. Set the PowerQuickPot to a saute setting. Add olive oil, allow to heat slightly, then add carrots, onion, celery and potatoes. Saute for 5 minutes.
2. Add the rest of the ingredients, other than parsley, and mix to combine.
3. Set the PowerQuickPot to the bean setting. {Note, the bean setting was for 20 minutes. I used a quick release after 15 minutes.}

Adjust the seasoning and serve topped with parsley. Keep in mind the soup will thicken as it sits in the fridge.

This will be lunch today and tomorrow and the day after!

Thanks PowerQuickPot for my new pressure cooker! I'm giving the older version to a friend and sending her a link to a stainless steel insert.

Note: I received the PowerQuickPot as a gift. I'm not being paid for this post. All opinions are my own.

10/9/18

Quick & Easy: Fried Egg, Sweet Plantains & Avocado


Some meals are planned. Others are thrown together in minutes. At least that's how I cook.

Yesterday, I had a day off, lunch was put together in minutes from a bunch of random ingredients I had on hand.

Quick & Easy: Fried Egg, Sweet Plantains & Avocado

1. Defrosted cooked white beans became a white bean dip with a bit of salt, bean cooking liquid, chili powder, and fresh basil.

2. Fried egg.

3. Frozen and baked plantains from the night before were reheated in the same skillet with the fried egg.

4. Cut up tomato and avocado were sprinkled with a bit of salt.

5. Everything got a bit of a freshness kick from the lime juice.

Quick and easy!

10/2/18

Travel Tuesday: Burlington, Vermont


Earlier in September I flew to Burlington, Vermont for a mini solo vacation. I needed a break from DC, and was looking forward to a getaway full of cooler weather, new experiences, great food, and relaxation. I got it all, but the cooler weather.

This is a quick recap with some photos and a list of things I did, saw, and ate. Most of these recommendations came from my friends and social media followers, and I am here to return the favor and share them with you.

Vermont has been on my list of places to visit for a while, and I finally checked it off! The flight from DC was slightly over an hour and not too expensive. I stayed at an AirBnb close enough to the center of the city and walked to most places. Uber was my other mode of transportation and couldn't have been easier.

Food
1) Honey Road (pictured above): This was probably my favorite meal by far. I was able to get a table outside around 5 pm and had a hard time deciding which dishes to order, because I wanted all of them! I ended up ordering hummus, whipped feta, lamb meatballs, and a charred octopus. Plus a cocktail. And dessert. I did not regret a single bite.

2) Willow's Bagels: perfect late breakfast spot. This place was recommended by a receptionist at the yoga place where I dropped in for a class (which was something I've never done on a vacation: highly recommend). I really liked that the bagels were thin and extra toasted. The smoked salmon and the yellow sliced tomatoes were dreamy!


3) Hen of the Wood: start with an oyster happy hour ($1/each), then move over to the chef's table for dinner, as I did. I loved seeing how the food was being prepared. My favorite dish was the toast with hen of the wood mushrooms, bacon and an egg. Again, I had no trouble getting a seat because I was there on an early side and solo.



4) Misery Loves Company: no photos because it was getting dark when I had dinner at this must restaurant with Carey. It was a great way to end my trip: sharing dishes, wine, and dessert and chatting about food, relationships, travel, etc.

Things to do
Shelburne Farms: I Ubered there from the city and it was beyond worth it. I took the tour of the farm and learned about sustainability, sampled cheese, saw beautiful cows, and had lunch. The tour also included the beautiful inn and garden. So picturesque!

Shelburne Vineyard: a quick Uber ride from the farm, this vineyard is not to miss. Sample the wines, walk around, and enjoy the nature.


Sangha Studio: drop in for a class or two and pay what you can. The studio provides mats and blocks.

Spirit of Ethan Allen: take a cruise around the lake!

Green Mountain Railroad Dinner Train: this was the first time I've ever taken a dinner train. I was nervous about sharing a table with strangers. I then was nervous about NOT sharing a table with strangers and having an entire table to myself, but the beauty outside of the windows, the food (I was surprised at how good it was!), and the grand service, made me happy I took this adventure.

Other mentions: take a tour of Citizen Cider, catch a movie at the Merrill's Roxy Cinema, walk through the farmers market.
Happy travels everyone!

9/28/18

Weekend Breakfast: Challah French Toast And Bacon


Who is ready for the weekend!? I know I am.

I wanted to share with you an awesome, super non Kosher, breakfast I made a few weekends ago from the freezer!

Weekend Breakfast: Challah French Toast And Bacon

You see, earlier this month I made an apple and date studded round challah for Rosh Hashannah and had my friend Sarah over with her son to help me celebrate. I sent Sarah home with a chunk of challah for her husband Nick, and froze the rest after slicing it.

In my freezer, I also had individually wrapped slices of bacon. I defrosted both the challah and the bacon overnight, and made breakfast in the morning.

For the bacon, I highly recommend you bake it in the oven on a wire rack set into a baking dish. I sprinkled mine with Cajun spice mix and baked at 430F for about 10 minutes on each side.

The challah French toast is super easy: eggs whisked with a bit of half and half. Challah slices dunked and cooked for about 3-5 minutes on each side.

Have a great weekend!


PS I used Molly Yeh's recipe for the scallion challah, minus the scallions and other extra flavors. I simply added about 3/4 of an apple, diced, and 12 dates also diced.

9/17/18

Vegan Miso And Coconut Milk Red Lentils With Dinosaur Kale Recipe


In need of a quick and easy vegan comfort food recipe!? I have you covered with Vegan Miso And Coconut Milk Red Lentils With Dinosaur Kale Recipe.

Did you miss me? I had a really fun vacation in Burlington, VT and then came back and got a cold and stayed home for an entire week. Oy.

After my vacation, I wanted something healthy but still comforting (you know how hard it is to go back to normal life after so much fun and good food and sleeping in and seeing new things). I decided to use red lentils from my pantry, dinosaur kale from my refrigerator and a few extra ingredients.

I basically did very little prep and dumped everything in my pressure cooker.

Vegan Miso And Coconut Milk Red Lentils With Dinosaur Kale Recipe
Serves 4

1 1/2 cups red lentils
2 teaspoons turmeric
1 bunch dinosaur kale, ribs removed and discarded, torn into pieces
2 cups miso broth
3 garlic cloves, chopped
13.5 ounce can coconut milk
chili powder, to taste

toppings
chopped tomatoes
olive oil
lemon
yogurt, optional

1. Add all ingredients other than toppings into a pressure cooker.
2. Stir to combine.
3. Set the pressure cooker to 8 minutes on beans/lentils setting.

Serve topped with chopped tomatoes, a drizzle of olive oil or a spoon of yogurt or sour cream. A squeeze of lemon juice brightens up this dish really well. Fresh herbs will be good too.