OXO GreenSaver & Melissa's Produce Eggplant: How To Minimize Produce Waste

I have a confession. I waste food. It happens. I'm not proud of it. Sometimes I buy produce and it sits in my refrigerator despite my best intentions of using it. I often feel very guilty about this.

Luckily, OXO came to the rescue! Earlier this month I received one of OXO's latest creations to test in my kitchen and also a shipment of Chinese eggplant from Melissa's Produce. Both products were sent to me free of charge, but I am not being paid for this post and all opinions are my own.

Below is a photo of OXO's GreenSaver! Doesn't it look cool? It will help you keep your produce fresher longer! Also, the basket insert can be used as a colander!

The GreenSavers provide proper airflow, control humidity and get rid of ethylene gas! Plus, the containers are clear, so it's really easy to see what you have and to actually use your produce!

Look how well the GreenSaver fits inside my refrigerator!! You can set things on top of it too.

Because I was going to use the Chinese eggplant right before my vacation last week, I decided to roast them with a bunch of other vegetables I had: no wasting of produce!!! I also used herbs I have growing on my windowsill in the recipe.

Roast All The Things!
2 Chinese eggplant, cubed
1 yellow squash, cubed
1 Vidalia onions, cut into wedges
1 yellow pepper, cubed
2 large tomatoes, cut into wedges
olive oil {I actually used the oil from a jar of sundried tomatoes!!!}
salt & pepper to taste
10 thyme sprigs
fresh basil

1. Preheat the oven to 450.
2. Add all the vegetables onto a large cookie sheet, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Combine.
3. Top the vegetables for thyme sprigs and roast for 40-60 minutes depending on how small/large your pieces are.
4. Remove the thyme sprigs and serve topped with fresh basil.

This was such a delicious concoction! I had to stop myself from eating the entire thing. This dish can be served straight from the oven or at room temperature. It also freezes really well!

You can serve this mix of roasted vegetables on their own, or add it to pasta, omelets, soups, and even Panini!

The OXO GreenSaver has kept the eggplant in a top form for the last 2 weeks! I definitely give it two thumbs up.

Have a great weekend!


Get Ready For Hummus Day: Yellow Squash Roll Ups With Sabra Chipotle Hummus, Tabbouleh & 2 Sauces

There's a National Day for everything from pancakes to cookies to tacos. I usually roll my eyes at such a thing and move along, but when my friends from Sabra asked me to develop a recipe for National Hummus Day that happens to be today, May 21st, I said yes. After all, I've formed a great relationship with this hummus brand (which includes awesome people like Ilya and Stephanie) over the last several years and they did send me a few** samples. {** a zillion!}

Make sure to check out Sabra website TODAY for a coupon!

Disclaimer: Sabra provided samples and compensation for the recipe development, but all opinions are my own.

Once I received this assignment and a zillion samples, I started thinking about what I can make. I've seen ideas for hummus dressing, hummus deviled eggs, using hummus on pizzas and in sandwiches and even mixing it into pasta: all great ideas!

I thought about adding hummus into lamb meatballs or maybe using it to thicken a vegetable soup, but then was inspired by Lebanese lunch my friend brought me:

What a feast! I used leftover tabbouleh and tzaziki and combined these two ingredients with yellow squash and chipotle hummus to make roll ups!

I used hummus in two components of the dish: roll ups and spicy tomato sauce!

Yellow Squash Roll Ups With Sabra Chipotle Hummus, Tabbouleh & 2 Sauces
Makes 5 roll ups

2 teaspoons olive oil
large yellow squash, sliced lengthwise into 3/8-1/4" pieces
Chipotle hummus (you'll want about 5 tablespoons)
1 cup tabbouleh, drained (you want to drain tabbouleh in a fine sieve so that it doesn't add too much moisture into the roll ups)
1/2 14 ounce-can drained chopped tomatoes
the middle of the Chipotle hummus (See the photograph below for this to make sense! Don't worry if you get some of the hummus when scooping out the chipotle part)
fresh basil

1. Heat olive oil in a skillet. Sauté yellow squash slices seasoned with salt for 5-7 minutes on each side and then lightly pat them with paper towel to remove excess moisture.

2. Spread each slice with chipotle hummus and top with a thin layer of tabbouleh. Roll up! Use a toothpick to secure the rolls, but PLEASE make sure to remove the toothpicks before eating.

3. Puree the chipotle "middle" from the Chipotle Hummus with tomatoes to make the first sauce and use tzaziki as the second sauce.
4. Top the roll ups with fresh basil before serving.

I really liked how this dish turned out: it was spicy and fresh and full of color. The tzaziki was definitely the key in cooling me down ;)

Happy National Hummus Day!


What To Do With Ramps: Ramp & Almond Pesto

A few weekends ago I visited Dupont Farmers Market with my friends and decided to pick up a bunch of ramps. I think I've only had ramps a few times in my life but have never cooked with them. My friend Cecilia suggested I make pesto, and that's exactly what I did.

What To Do With Ramps: Ramp & Almond Pesto
7 ramps: leaves and white parts, roughly chopped
1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan
olive oil
salt to taste

1. Puree ramps, almonds and Parmesan cheese with enough oil to reach your desired consistency. Season with salt.

Things to do with Ramp & Almond Pesto:
spread it on sandwiches
mix it into mayonnaise
add it to egg or tuna salad
use it instead of tomato sauce on pizza
I added mine to pasta with roasted asparagus and radishes and topped it with ricotta and basil.

Happy Monday!!!


Eat Right For Your Sight: Quinoa, Avocado & Grapefruit Salad

Sight is one of the most important senses I have. It allows me to see the faces of people I care about as well as good looking strangers, experience the beauty of new cities I visit, spot architectural details of both modern and ancient buildings, and of course appreciate the vibrancy of the food I make and photograph.

I remember the first time I put on glasses and how things came more into a focus instantaneously. I could see individual leaves, not just trees. I could read signs that before were rather blurry. I've been wearing glasses for more than half of my life and would be lost without them.

Some people, however, unfortunately lose their vision as a result of Macular Degeneration.

Macular Degeneration is the leading cause of legal blindness in people over 55 in the Western world. Despite the number of people and families this disease impacts, there is still an overwhelming lack of awareness on how to slow the progression and live with AMD.

I first heard of AMD a few weeks ago when I received a preview copy of Eat Right For Your Sight Cookbook. I was asked to share a bit of information about this awful disease on my blog because eating certain foods rich in beta carotene, lutein, Omega-3 and Vitamins A/C/D/E and zinc can help you see all the people that you love longer.

Here's a great table from the book that shows examples of the foods that are good for your sight. Luckily, I love many of them already: tomatoes, salmon, oranges, peppers, grapefruit, sunflower seeds and dried apricots.

Turns out that Georgia O'Keeffe suffered from Macular Degeneration and experienced one of the most common signs of it: seeing an area of darkness in the middle of her vision.

That sounds terrifying!

Now that I've probably scared you, let's get to what you can do. This book, as well as The American Macular Degeneration Foundation (AMDF) is a great resource for learning more about this disease.

Eat Right For Your Sight is a collection of recipes for Small Bites, Soups, Salads, Main Courses, Side Dishes, Desserts, and Healthy Drinks that will satisfy your desire for delicious food that will at the same time benefit the health of your eyes. The cookbook has highly known contributors including Lidia Bastianich, Ina Garten, and Jacques Pepin! It also includes a helpful list of ingredients to have in your pantry and metric conversion charts.

I decided to combine some of the ingredients from the Celery, Grapefruit, and Avocado Salad with Toasted Quinoa Salad to make Toasted Quinoa, Avocado & Grapefruit Salad.

Toasted Quinoa, Avocado & Grapefruit Salad
Serves 2

2 cups of cooked quinoa (I used tricolor quinoa because it's pretty and cooked it in salted water for about 20 minutes. BEFORE cooking the quinoa, make sure to toast it in a dry skillet until the seeds start to pop and the aroma hits your nose.)
olive oil
1 grapefruit, segmented (make sure to save the grapefruit juice)
1 avocado, sliced
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
flaky salt 

1. Drizzle quinoa with a bit of olive oil and some of the grapefruit juice. Add in a thin layer to two plates.
2. Arrange grapefruit segments and avocado slices on top of the quinoa. Drizzle with a bit more olive oil and grapefruit juice, sprinkle with flaky salt and parsley.

Doesn't this look pretty? This salad is not only delicious, but is quite filling and it's good for you!!!

You can eat it as is or serve it topped with roasted shrimp or poached salmon. Your eyes will thank you!

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

  I'm Blogging for Eye Health, #EatRightforYourSight


What To Do With Leftover Pancake Batter: Kimcheesy "Pizza" Pancake

A few weekends ago I made pancakes with mango and bourbon maple syrup. They were delicious. Even though I halved the recipe, I still had some of the batter leftover. Instead of throwing out the leftover batter, I saved it in the fridge and turned it into Kimcheesy "Pizza" Pancake the next day.

WHAT!? Pizza made from pancake batter!? With Kimcheese!? What's Kimcheese!? Calm down ;) I basically used the leftover pancake batter and topped it with kimchee and cheese!

I realize this combination of flavors may not be for everyone, but I liked it and that's why I'm sharing it with you here ;)

What To Do With Leftover Pancake Batter: Kimcheesy "Pizza" Pancake
olive oil
leftover pancake batter
kimchee, chopped into bite pieces
shredded cheddar (or any other cheese you like)
chopped parsley

1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet that can go under the broiler.
2. Preheat the broiler.
3. Whisk leftover pancake batter and pour it in a thin layer into the skillet making sure to cover the bottom of the skillet fully. Heat the skillet with the oil on the stove.
4. Once the surface of the large pancake solidifies slightly, top it with kimchi and cheddar cheese and let it cook for a few minutes.
5. Put the skillet under the broiler until the cheese bubbles.
6. Slide the pancake out of the skillet, top with parsley, cut into wedges and eat immediately.

You don't even need a fork for this: just use your fingers! I loved the combination of the slightly sweet pancake batter with the spicy kimchee and sharp cheddar.

I bet this would be awesome with an egg on top ;)

Happy Monday!!!


Lemony & Spicy Lamb Loin Chops & LambJamDC

How do you feel about lamb? I happen to like it. A lot. Although I don't tend to cook lamb often at home, I tend to order it when dining out.

This past weekend I created a recipe for Lemony Spicy Lamb Loin Chops at home because of several reasons:

1) I was invited to attend a VIP event leading to the DC Lamb Jam
2) I was asked to JUDGE DC Lamb Jam (I said YES within a minute)
3) I received a shipment of lamb loin chop courtesy of American Lamb

If you happen to be in DC Friday May 15th and/or Sunday May 17th, love lamb, want to try creations by some of the DC chefs and find out who is the LAMB KING (alas it appears there are no women chefs participating), get your tickets now!

Experience an intimate night with two previous Lamb Jam Champion Chefs as they lead you through grilling American lamb 101, serve four unique dishes paired with artisan cocktails as well as local beer and wine, and enjoy the wonderful outside patio space at The Occidental Grill & Seafood.

Lamb Jam Grand Tasting Includes:
16 of the most talented chefs from the DC area
Beer and wine from DC’s top breweries and winemakers
Interactive photo booth
DIY lamb spice rub station
Butcher demonstration

DC Central Kitchen is America’s leader in reducing hunger with recycled food, training unemployed adults for culinary careers, serving healthy school meals, and rebuilding urban food systems through social enterprise.

Most of the people think of rosemary, garlic and lemon as the perfect companions for lamb. I agree with this to an extent. You see, I'm not a huge fan of rosemary. I don't like eating something that reminds me of evergreen trees. The recipe I created was partially inspired by the herbs I bought earlier in the weekend: thyme, parsley and rosemary. I also decided to make the marinade heavy on the lemon flavor and add a bit of Korean chili flakes for a great level of spiciness.

The final product has a lot of strong flavors that all work together beautifully.

Lemony Spicy Lamb Loin Chops
4 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons chopped rosemary
2 teaspoons chopped parsley
2 teaspoons chopped thyme
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoons Korean chili flakes
3 loin lamb chops
kosher salt to taste
olive oil for sautéing
1 tablespoons butter (optional)
chopped parsley for garnish

1. Combine the first 7 ingredients in a bowl. Add lamb loin chops and marinade in the refrigerator for 2-4 hours or overnight.
2. Take the chops out of the refrigerator and allow them to come to room temperature.
3. Heat olive oil in a skillet. Remove the chops from the marinade and season with salt. Cook the chops for 5-7 minutes on each side, depending on how raw you want them to be inside.
4. Meanwhile, bring the remaining marinade to a boil in a small sauce pan. If you like, add a bit of butter and continue to simmer the marinade until it thickens.
5. Serve the chops drizzled with the reduced marinade and topped with fresh parsley.

Ta da! I had the lamb chops with roasted potatoes. This was quite a messy piece of lamb to eat: I recommend you pretend that you are a cavewoman (or a caveman) and eat it with your hands as opposed to trying to neatly cut the chops with a knife.

I even liked the lamb cold the next day straight out of the refrigerator!

Thank you American Lamb for the lamb loin chops and the invitation to participate in the fun DC events!

Disclosure: I was invited to participate in the VIP lamb event and be a judge at the DC Lamb Jam. I'm also bringing two of my friends to the events. I was not compensated for this post. All opinions are my own.


What To Do With Cauliflower: Bake It! Baked Cauliflower In A Cheesy Sauce

Happy Monday! Hope you all had a great weekend. I met a few out of town friends for brunch, bought myself gorgeous tulips and washed all the hardwood floors in my condo. I also cooked lamb: more on that later this week.

Isn't it funny how things work out sometimes? A few weeks ago I received a Thermapen to test out in my kitchen and was looking through my collection of cookbooks for a recipe that would test out the qualities of this high end instant thermometer. I did not find anything that called my name meat-wise, but did find a drool-worthy recipe for baked cauliflower. No, this recipe doesn't require an instant thermometer: I'll have to use it elsewhere.

I made a few changes to the original recipe such as adding a bit of heat with chipotle chile powder and a bit of crunch with panko crumbs. I realize it's a zillion degrees out now, but you may still want to make this Baked Cauliflower In A Cheesy Sauce side for your Meatless Monday dinner tonight.

What To Do With Cauliflower: Bake It! Baked Cauliflower In A Cheesy Sauce
Slightly adapted from The Book of Steak

1large head of cauliflower, stem removed, cut into florets
2/3 cup white wine
1 bay leaf
2 cups milk
2 tablespoons butter, diced
3 tablespoons flour
salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
chipotle chile powder to taste
2/3 cups shredded cheddar
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons chopped parsley, plus more for garnish
1/4 cup panko crumbs

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the cauliflower florets and cook until al dente. Drain.
2. Preheat the oven to 400F.
3. Pour the wine and add a bay leaf to a saucepan. Boil until the wine reduces by half. Add the milk, butter, and flour and whisk until the mixture becomes smooth. Continue whisking until the mixture comes to a boil and thickens.
4. Take the saucepan with the wine/flour mixture off the heat. Remove the bay leaf. Add 2/3rds of the cheese mixture (after mixing the two cheeses together), mustard, parsley and chipotle chile powder. Season with salt and black pepper.

5. Pour a bit of the cheesy goodness into a baking dish, top with the cauliflower, and drizzle the rest of the cheese sauce on top.
6. Combine the rest of the cheese with the panko crumbs and sprinkle on top.

7. Bake the casserole for 25 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Serve garnished with fresh parsley.

How beautiful does this look!? Your house will smell incredible. The cheesy wine sauce in this recipe would also work with pasta, potatoes, or mushrooms. I can even see it in a rice/chicken casserole. Definitely experiment with it.

I'm not sure why, but the dish was more saucy/liquid'y than I expected. Maybe next time I'll add more flour or bake the cauliflower for a longer amount of time. The sauciness did not bother me though. My favorite part of this dish was the upper crispy cheesy layer!

What have you been making with cauliflower?

What recipe should I make to test the instant read thermometer? {Please don't say roasted chicken.}