9/17/19

Gluten Free "Tacos" With Crispy Chickpeas, Salad & Tzatziki


Two of the best words in the English language are Taco Tuesday! What happens if you are trying to stay away from gluten though? How about using Romaine heats instead of the regular taco shells? It'll be messy, but crunchy, and healthier!

Yesterday, when I saw my friends Washington's Green Grocer instagram one of their meal kits for the Chickpea Gyros with Homemade Tzatziki, I immediately followed the link and was so happy to find out they had the ingredients and directions listed on their website!

To the grocery store I went to pick up my own ingredients, but you can order their bundle that will come directly to your door. {This is not a sponsored post. I simply love sharing things that I love with you.}

While making the recipe, I doubled the amount of chickpeas and increased the amount of spices, as well as making a few other changes that fit my style of cooking. You do you!

Gluten Free "Tacos" With Crispy Chickpeas, Salad & Tzatziki
Servings for 4

Ingredients
Roasted chickpeas
2 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons dried oregano

Salad
1 English cucumber, diced
1 pint grape tomatoes, quartered
1/2 red onion, finely diced
juice of 1/2 lemon (you'll use the other half for tzatziki)
drizzle of olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped dill
salt and pepper to taste

Tacos
2 Romaine hearts separated into "tacos"

Tzatziki
2/3 cups Greek yogurt
1/2 English cucumber, grated, liquid squeezed out (add it to your water!)
1/2 lemon, zested and juiced
1 garlic clove, microplaned
1/2 teaspoon champagne vinegar (that's what I had: if you have a simple white vinegar, use that)
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons chopped dill

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 425F. Mix all the ingredients for the crispy chickpeas and roast for 15-25 minutes, tossing them occasionally.

2. Meanwhile, in 2 separate bowls, combine all the ingredients for the salad and tzatziki and refrigerate. 

3. Assemble your tacos into the Romaine hearts by spooning the salad and topping with roasted chickpeas and tzatziki.

Or, mix everything into a salad!

9/12/19

Dinner In 15 Minutes: Medium Rare Beef Filet With Salad & Corn


It's technically Fall, but the weather has me feeling like we are still dealing with the Summer heat and humidity. That, in addition to metro delays, somewhat unexpected rain, and being overly hungry the last few days, had me craving a satisfying dinner that required very little cooking time or heating up my kitchen.

Good thing I had a beef filet from Trader Joe's in my fridge and a bunch of random produce.

Quick note: if you've not added stone fruit to your salads yet, you are missing out!

Dinner In 15 Minutes: Medium Rare Beef Filet With Salad & Corn 

olive oil
beef filet
salt & pepper
corn, boiled
arugula
Boston lettuce, torn into pieces
cilantro, chopped
basil, chopped
Vidalia onion, chopped
pluots, or any other stone fruit, pit removed, flesh sliced
lemon juice

1. Heat a heavy bottomed skillet on the stove. Add olive oil. Season a room-temperature beef filet with salt and pepper on both sides and cook 2-5 minutes on each side depending on the thickness of the steak and how you like your steak cooked. Allow to rest before slicing. 

Quick note: I wanted my steak to be medium rare, but after slicing it (see the photo), realized it was too rare! I ended up quickly searing each piece in the skillet.

2. In a large bowl combine arugula, Boston lettuce, cilantro, basil, onions, and pluots. Add lemon juice, olive oil, and salt and mix.

Quick note: did you know pluots are a combination of plums and apricots!?

3. Serve sliced steak with the salad and corn on the side. 

9/9/19

Meatless Monday: Tomatillo & Avocado Salsa


Tomatillo & Avocado Salsa is a recipe that comes together quickly and is great not only with chips, but also as a salad dressing, a sauce for grilled chicken, or mixed into pasta.

Once a month, Seasonal Roots sends me a box of their produce as a gift. This past month, I got an extra credit when someone used my referral code mangotomato!!! I don't know who used it, but I thank you!!

I  added tomatillos to my box using the credit from the referral code. Did you know tomatillos are not green tomatoes? Although both tomatoes and tomatillos are members of the nightshade family, as are peppers and eggplant, tomatillos aren't unripe tomatoes. 

I decided to make a quick salsa using tomatillos and posted a question on my insta story whether to roast them first or use raw. ROAST was the overwhelming response.

Not having an outdoor grill, I decided to "roast" tomatillos in a dry cast iron skillet. You can also broil them!

Tomatillo & Avocado Salsa
Makes about 2 cups

Ingredients
18 tomatillos, husks removed and discarded, washed, dried
1 jalapeno
1/4 Vidalia onion
1/4 cup water
1 cup cilantro
1 avocado
salt to taste
plantain chips

Directions
1. Heat a cast iron skillet on the stove. Add tomatillos, jalapeno, and the onion and cook until all the vegetables have blackened, rotating occasionally.

2. Remove the seeds from the jalapeno and discard. Add blackened tomatillos, jalapeno, and onion to a blender with water, cilantro and avocado and pulse until you get your desired consistency. Season with salt.

I recommend refrigerating the salsa before eating. You may also substitute lime juice, at least partially, for water.

If you like more heat, leave the seeds of the jalapeno!

How gorgeous are these??? I think that's the first time I've seen purple tomatillos: alas once cooked, the color doesn't remain.

9/3/19

Spam, Potato & Pepper Hash With A Fried Egg


It may be hard to believe, but I've been thinking about making Spam, Potato & Pepper Hash With A Fried Egg for several days.

It all started after I saw my friend Jazmin post a photo of SPAM at a Minnesota State Fair. I've not had SPAM in ages and decided to buy it. The timing was somewhat perfect as I just had a dental surgery and needed to eat something soft. Oy.

I also had a leftover baked potato, which I think is the perfect potato to use for a hash because it's already cooked! Undercooked potatoes are one of my biggest pet peeves.

The photo above is my breakfast from yesterday because I had a day off and love to have a big ass breakfast on such an occasion. 


Spam, Potato & Pepper Hash With A Fried Egg

olive oil
onion, diced
green pepper, diced
SPAM, diced
baked potato, diced
salt & pepper
fried egg
ketchup

Start by sauteing onion and pepper in a skillet heated with olive oil.

Once the vegetables are tender, add SPAM and potatoes and season with salt (just a bit!) and black pepper. Continue sauteing until SPAM and potatoes are crispy.

Serve with a fried egg on top: I prefer mine to have a soft yolk.

Ketchup is optional. Feel free to use hot sauce or sriracha.

Do YOU love SPAM?

8/29/19

Picnic Dinner


Have no time or desire to cook but don't want to get take out or eat cereal for dinner? Picnic Dinner to the rescue!!

Earlier this week I quickly stopped at my grocery store to pick up the following ingredients to make a picnic dinner:

chips
salsa
hummus
soft cheese
grapes
tangerines
olives
salami

You can add sliced vegetables, something sweet and decadent, a glass of wine, or any other things you wish. This also makes for a great actual picnic!

8/22/19

Smashed Potatoes Recipe


Smashed Potatoes: have you heard of them? By this point I thought everyone knew about these crispy on the outside and tender on the inside potatoes that are great for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Turns out I was wrong.

When a few friends came over for dinner earlier this week, I decided to make smashed potatoes as a side, and they LOVED them. "I'll have two" turned into "These are amazing: I want more!"

Smashed Potatoes

mini red skinned potatoes
water
salt
olive oil
freshly ground black pepper

1. Cover the red skinned potatoes in a small saucepan with cold water, season with salt and bring to a boil. Turn the heat slightly down and simmer until a knife can easily go through a potato.
2. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425F.
3. Once the potatoes are tender, drain and dry them, and then use a cup or a glass to gently smash each of the potatoes without fully destroying them. This is rather therapeutic.
4. Oil a large cookie sheet and place the smashed potatoes in a single layer. Brush with oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for about 15-25 minutes or until the edges are crispy.

Serving suggestion: poached salmon and arugula salad with strawberries.


8/7/19

Heirloom Tomato Wasa Toasts


Summer on a plate:
1) Slice heirloom tomatoes
2) Spread mayonnaise on wasa crackers or toast
3) Top with tomatoes
4) Season with salt (I used truffle salt) and freshly ground black pepper

Enjoy

7/26/19

Weekend Inspiration: Flower Power


TGIF! Above is a gorgeous, if I say so myself, flower arrangement I made in a class I assisted taught by Sarah of Urban Petals.

In the first class (out of 3), I learned how to arrange flowers in my hand instead of in a vase. You start with one stem and then add more stems one by one with the stems somewhat wrapped or twirled around one another: it's harder to explain in words than to actually do.

At the end, you use a rubber band to hold all the flowers together: it's basically a bridal bouquet, but luckily you don't have to be a bride to enjoy this.

The beauty of this technique is that you can easily trim the ends of the flowers and change the water (do this at least every other day) without having to redo the entire arrangement.

Once some of the flowers wilt (irises were the first to go), it's easy to remove them and slightly re-fluff the rest of the bouquet.

Can't wait to see what I learn in the next two Tuesdays! 

7/25/19

Easy Summer Dinner With Hofmann's


Imagine coming home to a care package containing natural casing franks, specialty mustard, and a few other varieties of sausages.

That's exactly what happened to me last night thanks to my friends at Hofmann's! They sent me a few of their products to try, and I made a quick dinner with their natural casing franks. Originally from Germany, Hofmann's has operated in Syracuse, New York since 1879: they clearly know what they are doing. 

Don't have a grill? No worries: I used my panini maker! I loved how the casing burst and got crispy in the cooking process. The franks are already cooked, so you just need to heat them through.

Add boiled corn, horseradish mustard and sliced watermelon, and you have dinner on the table in under 10 minutes.

Disclosure: I received the samples free of charge and am not compensated for this post. 

7/19/19

Fancy Fruit Salad


TGIF!!!! It's hot as hell in DC area. It will feel like 110 degrees this weekend...are you ready? I'm planning to avoid being outside as much as possible, eat cold food, and watch the latest season of Queer Eye!

In the meantime, I wanted to share with you Fancy Fruit Salad I made earlier this week when two of my friends came over for dinner.

What makes it fancy? There are no apples or bananas ;) If you love those fruit in your salad, be my guest!

Fancy Fruit Salad
figs, quartered
cherries, pitted and halved
strawberries, chopped
nectarines, pits removed, chopped

That's it! Mix the fruit together and serve. Depending on how ripe the fruit is, you may want to add a bit of sugar or honey, but mine were sweet as it.

Stay cool friends!

7/16/19

Nectarine, Tomato & Blueberry Salad with Steak


It's over 90 degrees in DC area and supposed to get even warmer. I'm not even talking about the humidity factor!

I'm changing my Facebook status to "in relationship with AC."
Get it!? ;)

Over the weekend I used some of the produce I received as a gift from Seasonal Roots to make a salad to go along with leftover steak I made the night before without turning on the stove or the oven. The heat came from jalapenos!

Nectarine, Tomato & Blueberry Salad with Steak

Ingredients
nectarines, pit removed, flesh diced
tomatoes, whichever variety you like, chopped into bite size pieces
blueberries
jalapeno, minced
red onion, finely diced
basil, chopped
olive oil
salt

steak, sliced

Directions
Mix all the salad ingredients in a bowl. Serve with sliced steak.

The combination of sweet nectarines and blueberries is not only great in a cake, but is lovely in this salad. The jalapeno and red onion add the heat.

7/8/19

Tomato, Mozzarella & Cherries Salad


I have a big announcement: this blog will now become a Meatless Monday blog!

KIDDING! :) It does appear that I've been mostly posting Meatless Monday recipes, so why not continue?

This past Saturday, my friend Sylvie gave me a bunch of home grown tomatoes and basil and took me to Costco where I bought fresh mozzarella balls which I then turned into this beautiful salad!


Tomato, Mozzarella & Cherries Salad
tomatoes of all shapes and colors, sliced or quartered as needed
fresh mozzarella ball, sliced
cherries, pitted and halved
fresh basil, torn
olive oil
salt
rose
fresh mint

Place tomatoes, mozzarella, and cherries onto a plate in a pleasing manner.

Top with fresh basil and drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt.

Pour rose into a glass and add a few mint leaves.

Have a great day!

7/1/19

Meatless Monday: Cauliflower Salad Adapted from skinnytaste


If you are in need of a side for your 4th of July get together, or need a fresh idea for using a head of cauliflower you have sitting in the fridge, I highly recommend Cauliflower Salad Adapted from skinnytaste.

I, for one, love cauliflower, and eat it often. I also, however, love potatoes. This salad is good as is, but I'll never give up my love of potatoes!

Here's how I ended up making this recipe:

A few weeks ago, my mom sent me a link to Gina's, aka skinnytaste Low Carb Potato Salad. She said that even my dad liked it! Then, my twin Anna made the salad and said it was delicious.

Not wanting to be left out, I decided to make a batch of Gina's salad, but with a few changes:

1) I used only 4 eggs instead of 6
2) I used whole grain mustard instead of yellow mustard
3) I used cilantro instead of dill
4) I used cucumber instead of celery
5) I used bourbon smoked paprika instead of regular paprika

Helpful tips:

Make sure you cool the cauliflower completely before adding it to the other ingredients. I was impatient and added warm cauliflower to the mayonnaise and it watered down the salad.

The salad gets better as it sits in the refrigerator over night. 

6/21/19

Corn Salad With Sesame Dressing


One of my favorite summer salads is a combination of raw corn with cherry tomatoes, avocado, olives, and herbs drizzled with olive oil and seasoned simply with salt and pepper.

Earlier this week, however, I stepped out of my comfort zone and made Corn Salad With Sesame Dressing slightly adapted from Savory Simple's recipe. The star of Jennifer's recipe is the sesame dressing: I want to put it on everything!

Because I very rarely make salad dressings, I was happy to see how easy it was to make Jennifer's sesame dressing. I substituted a few ingredients based on what I had in my cupboard, left out a few, and added garlic. 

Below is my version of the dressing that I drizzled over a combination of raw corn, grape tomatoes, green pepper, red onion, and basil.

Sesame Dressing Adapted from Savory Simple
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons roasted sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon crunchy peanut butter
1 smashed garlic clove

In a small blender puree all the ingredients until smooth.

This dressing is also great in a cucumber and red onion salad. It'd be great in a chicken salad or drizzled on top of sauteed or roasted vegetables. 

6/18/19

How To Cook Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts: Chicken Dinner With 2 Salads


Need a fast dinner that will satisfy your taste buds but not make you feel like a ton of bricks? My Chicken Dinner with 2 Salads is perfect for that. Whether you are cooking for one, two or 4, this meal comes together in minutes on a weeknight or can be a great way to get together with a friend Sunday night to catch up.

I primarily eat boneless skinless chicken breasts (other than my occasional craving for wings), and have found a great way to cook them that doesn't dry them out.


How To Cook Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
1. Preheat the oven to 375F.
2. In oven proof skillet (I prefer cast iron) heat enough olive oil to cover the bottom.
3. Pat chicken breasts with a paper towel and season with salt and paprika on both sides (or use whichever spices you like).
4. Cook chicken breasts in a skillet for 3-4 minutes on each side and then bake them in the oven (in the skillet) for 10-20 minutes, depending on the size, until the internal temperature reaches 165F. Rest the chicken breasts for 5 minutes before slicing on a diagonal.

Roasted Beet, Granny Smith Apple & Red Onion Salad
I saw this salad on Domenica Marchetti's insta story and knew immediately I'd have to try it. It was awesome.

Combine sliced roasted beets with sliced Granny Smith apples, thinly sliced red onion, and drizzle with olive oil and champagne vinegar. Season with salt and top with fresh dill. 

Raw Corn Salad With Tomatoes And Radishes
Combine raw corn kernels with chopped cherry tomatoes, radishes, arugula, and torn fresh basil, and drizzle with olive oil. Mix in a bit of lemon juice and season with salt.

To drink: I recommend Sauvignon Blanc.

Dessert: chopped strawberries and whole blueberries topped with home made whipped cream and shaved dark chocolate. 

PS a special shout out to oxo for sending me their crazy impressive corn prep peeler: it works incredibly well! (I was sent a sample; no money was exchanged!)

6/3/19

Roasted Vegetables With Turmeric Oil


Oh Hello Monday! It's been about a week that I've returned from my vacation in Oaxaca, Mexico, and I'm slowly getting back to cooking.

Over the weekend I made Roasted Vegetables With Turmeric Oil using beets and sweet potatoes from Seasonal Roots. I teamed up with Seasonal Roots to receive one box of their produce each month and to share with you an idea of what to make with their seasonal vegetables, fruit, berries, etc. I receive no compensation for these posts, but if you are a first time customer, you can get a discount of $15 from the yearly fee by using the code mangotomato

The inspiration for this dish came after I saw my friend Lisa post a photo of a gorgeous watermelon and tomato salad using turmeric oil recipe from Bon Appetit

I combined roasted, peeled and cut up beets and sweet potatoes with roasted cauliflower, drizzled them with still warm turmeric oil, and topped with salt and fennel fronds!

This dish is great served at room temperature and stores well in the refrigerator. Add a bit of quinoa, and you have a full meal!

NOTE: I recommend you actually peel and dice sweet potatoes before roasting them instead of roasting them whole and then peeling and slicing them.

5/17/19

TGIF: Let There Be Cake


I'll be honest: sometimes I choose books by the cover and wine by the labels. More often than not, these decisions are actually pretty good.

Last night at a dinner at Brothers & Sisters, my friend Sangeetha and I chose The Next Vacation cake because both of us are looking forward to our respective vacations. This strawberry and cream cake was the perfect way to end our dinner: not too sweet with slight sour and salty notes and with strawberries from California.

TGIF friends. Wishing you a sweet weekend. 

5/6/19

Ottolenghi Inspired Pan Sauteed Asparagus With Almonds And Capers


Last week I checked out Ottolenghi's latest cookbook, Simple, from my library, and was intrigued by the Roasted Asparagus with Almonds, Capers, and Dill recipe. Because my oven was acting out, I don't keep butter on hand, and I had Parmesan left from another recipe, and a few lemons, I created my version of Ottolenghi's dish.

Ottolenghi Inspired Pan Sauteed Asparagus With Almonds And Capers

Ingredients
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound asparagus, ends trimmed
salt and pepper
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted in a dry skillet
3 tablespoons capers
lemon zest
dill
1/4 cup grated Parmesan

Directions
1. Heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in a large skillet. Add asparagus, season with salt and pepper and saute until your desired level.
2. In a small skillet, heat the remaining oil and quickly saute capers.
3. In a platter, serve asparagus topped with almonds, capers, lemon zest, dill, and Parmesan. 

This dish is great served hot but also keep well as leftovers. It can be a great starter to the meal or as a side served with protein.

5/2/19

Dinner in 30 Minutes: Sweet & Spicy Pork Lettuce Cups With 2 Vegetable Sides



If you only have 30 minutes and need to get dinner on a table that's delicious, fun, and impressive, I give you Dinner in 30 Minutes: Sweet & Spicy Pork Lettuce Cups With 2 Vegetable Sides.

This idea came about after I randomly bought one pound of ground pork at my grocery store. After a quick Google search for ground pork recipes, I found Delish's Sweet 'n Spicy Pork Lettuce Wraps and with a few edits turned it into a full meal.

Turn on the music and get cooking!

The key to making an entire meal in 30 minutes is to chop whatever needs to be cooked first, and then prep the rest of the ingredients while the others are cooking. 

Dinner in 30 Minutes: Sweet & Spicy Pork Lettuce Cups With 2 Vegetable Sides

Serves 4

2 teaspoons olive oil, plus more for snow peas
1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound ground pork
snow peas
salt
1/4 cup hoisin sauce, more if desired
1 tablespoon sriracha, more if desired
Bibb lettuce
rice noodles
cilantro
carrots, peeled
daikon, peeled
Russian sunflower oil
smoked almonds, chopped

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 425 F.
2. Start boiling a large pot of water on the stove.
3. Heat olive oil in a skillet. Add ginger and garlic and saute for about 3-5 minutes on medium heat without burning it. Add pork. Saute until the pork is no longer pink. This will take a while.
4. Meanwhile, coat snow peas with oil and season with salt an roast for about 15-25 minutes depending on how crunchy you want them to be.
5. Grate, or use a fancy peeler, carrots and daikon, drizzle with Russian sunflower oil, season with salt, and add cilantro.
6. Back to pork: add Hoisin and sriracha. Mix to combine. Heat through.
7. Cook rice noodles according to directions. 
8. Add rice noodles to the lettuce cups, top with pork mixture, cilantro and chopped almonds. 
9. Serve with carrot/daikon salad and roasted snow peas.

Leftovers are awesome for lunch next day! 

4/30/19

Taco Bamba Tongue Nachos


Not a recipe today, but a shout out to Taco Bamba's Tongue Nachos I had a few weekends ago.

I grew up in Russia where my mom pressure cooked tongue all the time, and I still order it whenever I see it on the menu (I've yet to cook it myself).

When I saw an option for tongue nachos at Taco Bamba, I decided to give this dish a try. Large enough to share as an appetizer, it was a perfect portion for a lighter dinner paired with a side of guacamole.

Don't expect oozy melted cheese. The crispy chips are topped with tender chunks of tongue, followed by salsa verde, crema, cotija, and pickled chiles. I wish this would appear in front of me right now.

Have you tried tongue?

4/22/19

Vegan Spicy Smashed Chickpea Salad Recipe


This Vegan Spicy Smashed Chickpea Salad Recipe is adapted from and inspired by a post I saw on Cup of Jo earlier last week. Smitten Kitchen's recipe was inspired by a sandwich on 'wichcraft menu, and I further changed it by swiping the black olives for the green ones, adding the adobo sauce, and using chives instead of parsley.

Vegan Spicy Smashed Chickpea Salad Recipe
Serves 2

Ingredients
2 cups cooked chickpeas, lightly smashed with a fork
8 large green olives stuffed with sundried tomatoes, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped chives
2 tablespoons chopped red onion
1-2 teaspoons adobo sauce from chiles in adobo can (use hot sauce or sriracha as an alternative)
olive oil
salt
radishes
wasa crackers

Directions
1. Combine the first 5 ingredients. Drizzle with olive oil and mix to combine. Season with salt. 
2. Serve with radishes and wasa crackers.

4/17/19

Smoked Salmon Spring Salad With Jammy Egg, Potatoes & Asparagus


Oh hi warmer days! The days when I don't want to heat up my kitchen and would much rather put together a meal from random ingredients and eat it sitting on my couch watching TV.

This Smoked Salmon Spring Salad With Jammy Egg, Potatoes & Asparagus was inspired by a photo I saw on Domenica Marchetti's instagram. Domenica made a version of Nicoise salad, but with smoked salmon instead of tuna. I immediately went to my grocery store to pick up smoked salmon, the only ingredient that was missing from all the other parts of the salad I had happened to have in my refrigerator. I also added cherry tomatoes and avocado.

Smoked Salmon Spring Salad With Jammy Egg, Potatoes & Asparagus

Boiled potato, cubed
smoked salmon, flaked
jammy egg, quartered (put eggs into a pot of cold water, bring to a boil, turn off the heat, cover and let them stand for 6 minutes, then immediately put them into cold water with ice)
Kalamata olives, halved
avocado, cubed
asparagus, pan sauteed
red onion, finely chopped
cherry tomatoes, halved
olive oil
salt

4/15/19

Meatless Monday: Big Ass Salad With Feta


If you follow me on instagram, you saw that I basically ate 10 pounds worth of lamb yesterday at the lamb jam event with my friend Jazmin. 

For something lighter, my lunch today is a version of what I like to call BIG ASS SALAD. What's a big ass salad? It's a salad that has a bunch of fun ingredients served in a large bowl or plated that can be a meal in itself. The salad most often doesn't even have lettuce, and instead combines a variety of vegetables in different colors and textures, with a few fun ingredients such as cheese or nuts or protein.

Meatless Monday Big Ass Salad With Feta
lettuce, chopped
cherry tomatoes, halved
red onion, finely diced
yellow pepper, diced
cucumber, diced
kalamata olives, halved
avocado, sliced
feta
olive oil
salt
za'atar

Note on feta: I very much prefer to buy a big block of feta instead of crumbles. It's usually more expensive, but tastes better and you can control how to serve it. This time I added a big slab of feta to my salad. 

Note: to "beef" up the salad, you can add a boiled potato and/or chickpeas!

4/11/19

Cocktails Around DC: Hazel & Mi Vida


I wanted to share with you two cocktails at the new-to-me restaurants I had while celebrating my birthday in March (and belated birthday yesterday).

First up, above, is a gorgeous, refreshing, and easy to sip Citrus G & T from Hazel with blood orange gin and winter citrus tonic. Despite the name, this is the perfect warm weather cocktail. Of course you'll not be able to find blood oranges for much longer to use as the garnish, so hurry up and replicate this beauty at home as soon as possible. 

Below is the Ceilo Rojo Margarita from Mi Vida with spicy serrano-infused watermelon, lime, and chile salt. I had two. I usually prefer a sugar rimmed margarita, but the flavor combination in this cocktail was perfection. Don't worry, the spice level will not kill your taste buds.


Tell me what your favorite cocktail has been lately!

4/1/19

Vegan Thai Basil Vegetable Nasoya Dumplings With Colorful Slaw


I'm going vegan!! Just kidding.

This Vegan Thai Basil Vegetable Nasoya Dumplings With Colorful Slaw dish, however, is not only satisfying and colorful, but comes together in minutes and doesn't require a full recipe.

I was contacted by Nasoya and offered a few samples of their vegan dumplings and a stipend to come up with a plant-based recipe. The dumplings are organic and contain 6 to 7 grams of plant-protein (per 5) and no cholesterol! You can buy them at Giant Food, Martin’s, Safeway, Weis, Shop Rite, and Wegman’s. 

I decided to pan-fry the dumplings and add them on top of a colorful crunchy slaw.

The Thai Basil Vegetable Dumplings contain tofu, peas, carrots, peppers, basil, and onion. They take less than 10 minutes to prepare and have a ton of flavor.

For the slaw, I combined yellow and red peppers, cucumber, red cabbage, and dressed it with the combination of olive oil and lime juice and seasoned with salt and cilantro. A drizzle of sriracha, a sprinkle of black sesame seeds, and a few lime wedges finish the dish. 

PS here's a coupon for you!

3/27/19

Lamb Shank With Fennel, Onions & Potatoes


Knock knock. Who's there? FedEx delivering a lamb shank from Superior Farms.

Oh, this doesn't happen to you? Well, then you'll just have to go out and buy your own to make my Lamb Shank With Fennel, Onions & Potatoes recipe.


Last week I received a free lamb shank from Superior Farms and created a quick'ish recipe that only takes 40 minutes in a pressure cooker. You could use the same ingredients and roast yours in the oven, but it'll take hours.

Note: this is not a sponsored post. I'm not getting reimbursement: I just love lamb and was happy to receive a sample. 

Lamb Shank With Fennel, Onions & Potatoes
Serves 1, but you can easily double the ingredients

Ingredients
1 fennel, sliced into 1/4" planks
1/2 onion, sliced
1/2 cup cider (or use wine or chicken broth)
1 lamb shank, extra fat removed, seasoned with salt and pepper
pan roasted potatoes
fennel fronds

Directions
1. Add fennel, onions, cider and lamb shank to your pressure cooker/instant pot and pressurize for 40 minutes. Allow 10-15 minutes for natural pressure release.
2. Spoon out fennel and onions onto a plate, place the lamb shank on top and drizzle with some of the extra sauce. Top with fennel fronds and serve with potatoes. 

3/25/19

Mango, Ricotta & Pistachio Crostata Recipe


This Mango, Ricotta & Pistachio Crostata Recipe comes together in minutes, will impress your guests, and can be served hot or at room temperature.

The recipe is inspired by and adapted from a recipe from my friend Marnely. Yes, we are friends even though we've never met in real life, which I hope changes very soon!

I changed Marnely's recipe for Plum Pistachio Ricotta Crostata by using mangoes, adding lime zest, bourbon maple syrup, and crystallized ginger, and purchasing the pie crust at the store.


Mango, Ricotta & Pistachio Crostata Recipe

Ingredients
1 pie crust (purchased or made from scratch)
1/2 cup full fat ricotta
zest of 1 lime
1/3 cup pistachios, food processed until they resemble the texture of sand {I used salted roasted pistachios}
2-3 mangoes, sliced
1 egg
1-2 tablespoons bourbon maple syrup
extra pistachios for topping
2 tablespoons chopped crystallized ginger

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 375F. Roll out the pie crust onto a parchment covered baking sheet.
2. Combine ricotta with lime zest and pistachios and spread on the pie crust leaving about 1/2" all the way around.
3. Layer sliced mangoes. Crimp the edges of the crust and brush them with a whisked egg.
4. Bake the crostata for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven, brush the mangoes with bourbon maple syrup and sprinkle with chopped pistachios. Bake for another 10 minutes.
5. Remove the crostata from the oven and sprinkle with chopped crystallized ginger.
6. Serve hot or at room temperature.

3/20/19

One Hour Brisket In A Pressure Cooker


This past weekend I was walking through my grocery store and saw corned beef on sale. I decided to buy about a 4 pound hunk of meat. Corned beef and brisket are the same cut of meat, but corned beef is brined.

I wanted to make a quick version of a brisket in a pressure cooker instead of roasting it for about 3 hours in the oven and used this recipe from Dad Cooks Dinner.

I threw away the spice packet that came with my corned beef, but did not account for the brining: the meat came out a bit too salty. Still, this was not the recipe's fault. You will only need salt, pepper and cayenne. Season the meat, add some water and a bit of Worcestershire and pressure cook for an hour!

I added chopped onion and carrots with the meat and pulverized the vegetables with some of the broth to use as the sauce once everything was tender.

To serve, I combined home-salted cabbage and beets with a bit of Russian sunflower oil and sliced scallions.

IMPORTANT: make sure to cut off as much of the fat from the meat as possible before cooking. 

3/11/19

Meatless Monday: Saag Paneer From Scratch


I don't say this often, but I was so proud of myself yesterday after making Saag Paneer from scratch at home!

It all started after a coworker shared a recipe he made in his pressure cooker for saag (an Indian spinach side). I thought I will do the same, and also make paneer (Indian cheese).

Special thanks to my friend Sangeetha for providing dried fenugreek leaves: they add a great depth of flavor to saag.



I used My Heart Beets' Recipe for saag with a few changes:

1) I used 36 ounces of spinach because I could not find mustard greens
2) I did not have ghee, so used olive oil
WARNING: use less salt than what the recipe calls for. Don't freak out about how much spinach you have in the beginning: add it to the pressure cooker in batches and allow it to wilt before adding more.

For the paneer, I used Swasthi's recipe. I had to add more lemon juice, but the final result was pretty good, if not perfectly shaped as I had to run out to a museum outing with my friend. I used the leftover liquid from paneer to cook basmatti rice.



Leftovers for lunch will be awesome!

3/8/19

Weekend Inspiration: Macrame Wall Hanging


TGIF! Happy Friday and happy International Women's Day.

I wanted to share with you the latest arts & crafts project I made last weekend: Macrame Wall Hanging. Doing this simple wall hanging reminded me of all the macrame projects I did at a summer camp in Moscow. There's something magical about completing a project that is seen daily in your home.

Go create something!

3/6/19

Preserving Italy: Porchetta by Domenica Marchetti


Would you take advice on cooking pork from a Jewish girl (me)? Maybe not. How about advice from the author of multiple Italian cookbooks? 

Last weekend I recreated Domenica Marchetti's porchetta from her latest cookbook, Preserving Italy.

After attending Domenica's workshop in the summer, I had the porchetta salt and the cookbook and decided to try my hand at this relatively easy recipe of butterflied pork butt seasoned with salt, layered with sauteed fennel and garlic (a LOT of garlic), rolled, rested overnight in the refrigerator and roasted slow and low.


I had a lot of faith in this recipe because 1) Domenica made it for the workshop and it turned out awesome 2) all of the recipes I've made from Domenica's cookbooks have always turned out great


First, I'm obsessed with the photo of the salt. Second, I would suggest you actually grind the pepper instead of using whole peppercorns because I did not like biting into them while eating porchetta. The salt mix is made up of fennel seeds, coarse sea salt, grated lemon zest, rosemary, and peppercorns.

Third, my grocery store did not have fennel (!!), so I used 2 leeks. For the garlic, the recipe calls for 12 cloves: I highly recommend you use a mini food processor to chop the garlic and be ready for the aroma to invade every inch of your condo.


Fourth: I asked the butcher in my grocery store to butterfly or roll out the pork butt. He left way too much fat and connecting tissues. I removed some, but unfortunately not enough. 

Fifth, I used reusable silicone ties instead of kitchen twine to hold porchetta together.


The final results (scroll to the top), were delicious. Instead of making a sandwich, as Domenica suggests in the book, I ate my porchetta with a simple salad of mixed greens, thinly sliced radishes, snow peas and a combination of lemon juice and olive oil.

I had A LOT of leftovers, which per Domenica's suggestion I turned into a meat sauce by simmering porchetta in a mixture of sauteed carrots, onions, celery and tomato sauce.

Here's a similar recipe from Domenica's Rustic Italian cookbook.

3/4/19

Meatless Monday: Roasted Artichoke With Garlic & Parsley


Last week I received one of the largest artichokes I've ever seen in my life in my order from the Washington's Green Grocer. Luckily, they also linked to a recipe from Tasty that was incredibly easy to follow.

You cut off the top and the bottom of the artichoke, tear off some of the bottom petals, then drizzle the cut side of the artichoke with lemon juice and olive oil, season with salt, top with microplane'd garlic and chopped parsley. I left out the cheese because I did not have it.

You then wrap up the artichoke in aluminum foil and roast it for about an hour depending on the size at 425F. I served mine (to myself) topped with freshly chopped parsley and a side of Ranch dressing. I then cut up the artichoke heart and made a salad with it with potatoes, cucumbers and leftover Ranch.


How do YOU usually prepare an artichoke?

2/28/19

Dark Chocolate Puffed Pastry Braid With Hazelnuts


If you are looking to impress your guests with a dessert that takes less than 10 minutes to make, I give you Dark Chocolate Puffed Pastry Braid With Hazelnuts.

Last weekend I went to brunch at a friend's house and promised to bring dessert. I google'd braided dessert and found this beauty from Living Locurto

You start with store-bought puffed pastry. Mine came from the refrigerated section, so there was no need to defrost it.

You then buy 2 bars of chocolate. Of course I went for the dark variety. You'll have at least 1/2 of one of the bars leftover, so buy the chocolate you'll want to eat. 

Go check out the braiding directions on Amy's blog

Once the oven is preheated to 425, use a beaten egg to lightly glaze the braided puffed pastry with the chocolate inside and bake on top of a parchment lined cookie sheet for about 15 minutes.

Remove the braid from the oven and top with chopped hazelnuts and bake for 5-10 more minutes until the puffed pastry is golden brown. Do not burn your nuts ;)

Allow the braid to cool down slightly and top with powdered sugar.

Ooh! Aah! This is such a beauty and tastes just as good if not better. You can experiment with different nuts and types of chocolate. Maybe even try peanut butter and jelly as the filling?

2/26/19

Chickpea & Rotisserie Turkey Turmeric Soup Recipe Inspired by Alison Roman


Have you heard of Alison Roman's Spiced Chickpea Stew With Coconut and Turmeric that went viral a while back? What's not to like? A combination of chickpeas and coconut milk is perfect for cold winter months, plus greens to make you feel even better about eating this rich stew.

Speaking of rich, 2 cans of full fat coconut milk sounded like a lot! Instead of making Alison's recipe, I decided to use only one can, increase the amount of chicken broth to make the stew into a soup, and add rotisserie turkey breast for extra protein. I also added chopped red pepper at the end for crunch and color, and used parsley instead of mint.



Chickpea & Rotisserie Turkey Turmeric Soup Recipe Inspired by Alison Roman

Serves 4

Ingredients
2 tablespoons olive oil 
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 onion, diced
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh ginger
salt and pepper to taste
1.5 teaspoons turmeric 
a few pinches red pepper flakes
4 cups cooked chickpeas (I made mine in a pressure cooker)
15 ounces can full fat coconut milk
4 cups chicken stock
1 bunch Swiss chard, stems removed, leaves torn into bite-size pieces
2 cups shredded rotisserie turkey breast (or you can use chicken)
1 red pepper, diced
fresh parsley, chopped
fresh lime juice

Directions
1. Heat olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot on medium heat. Add onion, garlic, and ginger and saute for about 5 minutes.
2. Add salt, pepper, turmeric and red pepper flakes with chickpeas. Mix to combine. Saute for about 10 minutes.
3. Remove 1 cup of the chickpea mixture and set aside. Using a wooden spoon, gently smash some of the remaining chickpeas.
4. Add coconut milk and chicken stock. Bring the mixture to a simmer and simmer for 25 minutes.
5. Add Swiss chard and turkey and simmer for about 5 minutes to allow the chard to wilt and the turkey to heat through.
6. Taste for salt and adjust as needed.
7. Serve in bowls topped with reserved chickpeas, chopped red pepper, parsley, and fresh lime juice.



Just look at that color! I'm having this soup for lunch today (I had it yesterday too and will also eat it tomorrow and Thursday: perfect #mealprep). You can serve the soup as is or on top of rice or with a side of toast.

2/19/19

Roasted Beet Salad With Chipotle Vinaigrette


Roasted Beet Salad With Chipotle Vinaigrette looks beautiful plated, and tastes even better once you mix all the ingredients together.

I was inspired to create this salad after seeing a picture of beets on my friend Laura's insta story and asking her what she was going to make with them. Laura sent me a link to her recipe for Roasted Chipotle Beets With Goat Cheese & Egg Tostadas. I took some of the same ingredients, added a few extras, and turned it into a salad!

Roasted Beet Salad With Chipotle Vinaigrette
Ingredients
beets, scrubbed
olive oil
avocado, sliced
red pepper, sliced
blue cheese, crumbled
6 minute egg (put eggs in cold water, cover, bring to a boil, shut off the heat, wait 6 minutes, cool in an ice bath, peel, slice)
cilantro
for the dressing
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1-2 tablespoons adobo sauce from a can of chiles in adobo 
1 tablespoons lime juice plus extra lime wedges
salt to taste

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 425. Put beets on an aluminum foil, drizzle with olive oil, wrap, and roast for about 1 hour, depending on the size. Cool slightly, peel, dice.
2. Arrange the beets, avocado, red pepper, blue cheese crumbles, sliced egg, and cilantro on a plate.
3. Whisk the dressing ingredients together.

For the purposes of the photo, I poured the dressing into a little bowl. You shall pour it onto the other ingredients.

The dressing was awesome! It could also act a a marinade for chicken if you want.

If you love beets, definitely make this salad.