12/11/19

Meal Prep: Albondigas Soup


If you love meal prep, leftovers, and not having to think what will I have for lunch or dinner today, I highly recommend Albondigas Soup from Carlsbad Cravings

I followed the recipe pretty closely, so will not retype it here. 

I was surprised by the spices and herbs used in the meatballs, mint in particular. Turns out, the Spanish albondigas I've made before are quite different from the Mexican ones in this soup.

Reasons this recipe is a keeper:
1) double carbs: the soup has potatoes and rice
2) great leftovers (I bet it freezes well too): I've been eating this soup for lunch 4 days in a row and still have two more portions
3) the rice in the meatballs reminds me of the Russian hedgehog meatballs from my childhood
4) anything topped with an avocado is a winner in my opinion

The one change I'd make would be to use leaner type of meat. The 80/20 ground beef is a bit too fatty in this case because you cook the meatballs directly in the soup, making it difficult to skim the extra fat.

Oh, and I'd probably add corn next time for a bit of a crunch!

What's on your meal prep list?

12/9/19

Breakfast For Dinner: Baby Bella Toast With A Fried Egg


Sunday morning, after not being able to sleep in once again, I decided to treat myself to something other than an overnight oatmeal for breakfast and created Baby Bella Toast With A Fried Egg.

There's really not a recipe for this toast: it's more of an idea, but I think you'll like it, and it'll be perfect for a light Meatless Monday dinner.

My friends at Seasonal Roots send me a produce basket once a month and in return, I create a fun recipe and tell you all about it. If you've not tried them, you can use mangotomato code to receive a discount on your membership fee.

Last week's basket included baby bella mushrooms which inspired this dish.

1) Thinly slice bella mushrooms and onion.
2) Heat a swirl of olive oil in a large skillet. Add mushrooms and onions and saute slowly until they have browned. Don't overcrowd the pan. Don't rush. Don't burn the mushrooms. 
3) Season with salt
4) Meanwhile, fry an egg.
5) Toast a slice of olive oil and rosemary bread and smear it with hummus
6) Top with sauteed mushrooms and onions, a fried egg, a bit more salt, and chopped parsley.
7) Drizzle with green chile hot sauce.


12/4/19

Cranberry Sauce With Asian Pears & Orange Zest


Why is it that we only eat cranberry sauce once a year for Thanksgiving? It's such a vibrant, versatile, and beautiful sauce or condiment or topping!

Last week I concocted a large batch of Cranberry Sauce With Asian Pears & Orange Zest for my friend Jazmin's Thanksgiving dinner and have been eating leftovers on top of yogurt, mixed into overnight oats, and added to sandwiches.

My cranberry sauce uses half the sugar usually called on packages of cranberries and has a great freshness from an Asian pear and orange zest.

Cranberry Sauce With Asian Pears & Orange Zest

Ingredients
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
3 cups cranberries
1 small Asian pear, peeled, cut into tiny cubes
zest of 1/2 orange

Directions
1. In a medium sized sauce pan, bring water and sugar to a boil. Add cranberries, bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 10 minutes.
2. Turn the heat off and add Asian pear and orange zest.

That's all. You are done. Do not reheat the sauce.

I made 4 times the recipe and it was enough for 14 people with leftovers. In the picture above, I added the sauce to plain yogurt and home made granola

12/2/19

Flourless Chocolate Chili Cake: The New Way to Cake by Benjamina Ebuehi




You know how they say not to cook/bake something new for a party? Well, I did. Sort of. After receiving a preview copy of Benjamina Ebuiehi's The New Way to Cake book, I decided to make her Flourless Chocolate Chili Cake for Thanksgiving at my friend Jazmin's house.

I've made several versions of flourless chocolate cakes in the past quite successfully, so wasn't worried about this cake failing. In fact, this recipe was by far the easiest because it did not require using a double boiler or separating the eggs to whip the whites.

The chili powder gives a great kick to this rich and decadent cake. I recommend serving it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Everyone loved this cake. Even a 4 year old!

Reprinted with permission from The New Way to Cake by Benjamina Ebuehi, Page Street Publishing Co. 2019.


FLOURLESS CHOCOLATE CHILI CAKE

This cake was inspired by the popular Swedish kladdkaka, which translates as “sticky cake.” We deliberately underbake this to give it the characteristically gooey interior, and as it cools, it naturally sinks and produces the most beautiful cracks. 

If you’re someone who struggles with making a cake look “perfect,” this is the one for you. The warming heat that comes from the cayenne pepper lingers just long enough to leave you wanting more.

Yield:
1 round 8-inch (20-cm) cake

3/4 cup plus 1 tbsp (190 g) unsalted butter
2 cups (190 g) 70% dark chocolate
1 tsp cayenne pepper powder
Scant 1/3 cup (75 ml) espresso or strong coffee, cooled
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 eggs
2/3 cup (135 g) superfine/caster sugar
1/2 tsp flaky sea salt
2 tbsp (10 g) cocoa powder, to dust

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease a springform or loose-bottomed 8-inch (20-cm) cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.

Melt the butter, chocolate and cayenne pepper in a small saucepan. 

Once the chocolate has melted, remove from the heat and stir in the coffee and vanilla. Let it cool. 

Using a stand mixer or electric whisk, whisk together the eggs and sugar for 3 to 5 minutes, or until thick, pale and fluffy. 

Pour the chocolate mixture into the eggs, add the salt and fold gently to combine. 

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the cake is just baked with a slight wobble in the middle.

Remove from the oven and allow the cake to cool completely. As it cools, the surface will crack, and this is what we want! 

Use a small sieve to dust generously with cocoa powder before serving.


I'm looking forward to trying other recipes from this gorgeous book!

11/27/19

Roasted Butternut Squash Dip


I have had a few butternut squashes laying around the kitchen recently. Typically, I'd cube and roast them, or turn them into a soup, but this time I decided to adapt a recipe from The Nosher for Lybian Pumpkin Spread.

Instead of pumpkin, I used butternut squash. I also turned The Nosher's recipe into a cold dip and left out the garlic because, GASP (!!!!), I was out of garlic. I also did not add honey. So basically, I created a somewhat different recipe :)


Roasted Butternut Squash Dip

Ingredients
2 cups roasted butternut squash puree
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
red pepper flakes to taste
3 tablespoons harissa
juice of one lemon
salt to taste

to serve
plain yogurt
red pepper flakes
pita chips

Directions
1. Pure all the ingredients in a blender. 
2. Serve topped with a dollop of plain yogurt and a pinch of red pepper flakes with a side of pita chips.

I loved the spicy and acidic flavor of the dip and did not miss the honey because of the natural sweetness from the butternut squash!

This is a great dip to add to your repertoire.


Wishing you all a very delicious Thanksgiving!

11/25/19

How To Make Granola At Home: Pumpkin Seeds & Sunflower Seeds Granola Recipe



How to make granola at home? Well, first get yourself a twin sister who has been making granola at home for years. Then, finally decide to ask her for the recipe. Then, finally JUST DO IT.

If you don't have a twin sister, I'm sorry :) I'll share with you a recipe I adapted from the one Anna shared with me.

Pumpkin Seeds & Sunflower Seeds Granola Recipe

Ingredients

2 cups old fashioned oats
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup brown sugar
pinch of nutmeg
pinch of cinnamon
pinch of salt
1-2 teaspoons extract of your choice (I used almond because that's the only one I had)
1/4 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup toasted sunflower seeds
1/4 cup craisins
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1/4 cup chopped crystallized ginger

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 300F.
2. On a large cookie sheet combine the first seven ingredients. Bake for 20 minutes, tossing periodically.
3. Mix in the rest of the ingredients and bake for 5 more minutes.
4. Serve immediately on top of plain yogurt with fresh pomegranate or berries.
5. Otherwise, allow to cool and store in a tightly closed jar.


This was such an easy recipe to make. Of course the possibilities are endless: you can avoid the sugar all together and/or add nuts, other dried fruit, or even chocolate chips!


11/21/19

Red Velvet Cupcake by Baking Bits


Because I haven't really cooked or baked anything amazing lately (other than a boxed mix of brownies that I fancied up with chocolate chips and a sprinkle of flaky salt), I thought I'd give a shout out to one of my coworkers who has a baking side business and brought in treats to work today!

Thank Brittney!! This red velvet cupcake was a perfect sweet treat!!

11/19/19

Flower Arranging: Hand-Tied Technique


This past Sunday I did two things for the first time: taught a flower arranging class and taught at Hill Center!

After attending a few flower arranging classes, assisting 3 classes at Smithsonian, and being a life-long flower enthusiast, I proposed teaching a class at Hill Center, and to my great joy they said YES.

8 students signed up to learn from me! Yes, I was nervous. Yes, I created an Excel spreadsheet with several flower arrangement "recipes," and yes, I brought home made brownies to sweeten the deal.

After meeting my students and discussing the basics of flower arrangements, learning about their favorite flowers and their first flower memories, we went on a field trip to Trader Joe's to pick up the flowers.


Back at Hill Center, we sipped on mimosas, snacked on the brownies, and I demonstrated how to create a hand-tied arrangement: you build the entire bouquet in your hands and then rubber band it to keep it intact. 

The students then created their own arrangements. They all turned out great!!

All the photos throughout the post are of the arrangement I created with a few extra flowers left over from the class. This "recipe" contained mums, roses, eucalyptus, and alstroemeria. 



Eight happy faces with their gorgeous creations.


I hope to repeat this class again!!Let me know if you'd like to learn this technique.

11/8/19

Melted Green Cabbage from Sababa Cookbook


How do you elevate one of the least expensive and somewhat blend vegetables available in a store? Well, Adeena Sussman figured it out and shared her recipe with everyone in her cookbook, Sababa

After following Adeena on instagram and seeing her repost photos of people making her Melted Green Cabbage recipe, I decided to make it too. 

I used leftover 1/2 of a cabbage I had after making borsch last week. This meant using a smaller skillet and reducing the amounts of other ingredients. I browned wedges of cabbage in olive oil, then added garlic cloves and shallots, white wine and chicken broth, thyme, and then roasted for 2 hours in the oven!

Because I did not brown my cabbage long enough, I broiled it: not a huge deal. I finished the dish with sour cream and forgone the butter.

If I say so myself, the final results are gorgeous! 

10/30/19

Jamie Oliver's Lamb Kofta Meatballs


Earlier last week my friends from American Lamb sent me a few pounds of ground lamb, a boneless lamb shoulder, the cutest socks with lamb on them, and an apron, along with a stipend and asked me to host brunch. Yes, please and thank you!

I made shakshuka, had friends bring over mimosas, potatoes, and a big fruit salad, and then used Jamie Oliver's recipe for Grilled Lamb Kofta Kebabs with Pistachios, but turned them into meatballs. 

Have you ever thought about putting crushed pistachios into your lamb meatballs? I haven't, but Jamie Oliver has. The nuts added a bit of texture and an unexpected flavor to the balls. Mixed with fresh thyme, chili, cumin, and a good amount of sumac, these were so good, even my friend Jenn who normally doesn't like lamb loved them!

I served the meatballs with a side of tzatziki and pickled red onions. 

The leftovers tasted great reheated in the leftover shakshuka sauce!

Disclaimer: I received the lamb as a gift along with a giftcard. I'm not reimbursed otherwise for this post. 

10/28/19

Zucchini, Dill, and Feta Shakshuka from Sababa by Adeena Sussman


Breakfast for dinner? Meatless Monday? Comfort food? Adeena Sussman's recipe for Zucchini, Dill, and Feta Shakshuka perfectly fits all three categories.

Earlier this month, I won Adeena Sussman's Cookbook Sababa (published by Avery) on instagram from Ellie Krieger, and decided to make Adeena's shakshuka recipe yesterday for brunch with friends.

I've made my own version of shakshuka many times before, but thought I could learn a thing or two from a published cookbook author. 

What I learned is that I've never spent nearly enough time perfecting the sauce by sauteing the aromatics, layering the spices, using 3 types of tomatoes (raw, pureed from a can, and tomato paste), and reducing the sauce to make a flavorful and thick base for the eggs.

Adeena's shakshuka was a great success at brunch, and I had leftovers today for lunch. I am looking forward to making her green shakshuka next!

Zucchini, Dill, and Feta Shakshuka
Reprinted with permission from the author
Serves 4

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizziling
1 medium zucchini, thinly sliced into rounds
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 medium onion, finely diced
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
3 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or more to taste
6 medium very ripe fresh tomatoes, finely chopped by hand, or pureed in the bowl of a food processor if you like smoother shakshuka
One 14.5-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 small, fresh, finely diced red jalapeno, plus more to taste and for serving
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill, plus more for garnish
6 large eggs
1 cup (4 ounces) crumbled feta cheese
Pita or other bread, for serving

Set a rack in the top third of the oven. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat. Add the zucchini, season in the pan with salt and black pepper, and cook, not stirring too much, until the zucchini has released its water and is golden and slightly charred around the edges, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.

Add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil to the skillet, then add the onion and bell pepper and cook, stirring, until the onion is lightly golden and softened but not too dark, 9 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 more minute. Add the tomato paste, cumin, paprika, coriander, and cayenne and cook, stirring, until the mixture is fragrant and the tomato paste is slightly caramelized, 2 minutes. Add the fresh tomatoes, canned tomatoes, and jalapeno. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the sauce has darkened and thickened slightly, 20 to 25 minutes; season with additional salt and black pepper to taste.

Preheat the broiler during the last 5 minutes of cooking.

Stir in the dill and return the zucchini to the pan, stirring gently. Use a spoon to form 6 wells in the sauce, crack an egg into each well. Sprinkle with feta around the skillet and cook for 3 minutes. Transfer the shakshuka to the oven and broil until the top of the sauce is slightly caramelized and the whites of the eggs are just opaque but the yolks are still runny, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the oven (use an oven mitt since the handle will be hot), top with fresh chopped dill and more jalapeno, and serve immediately, or cool to room temperature and serve, sandwich-style, stuffed into pitas or piled on top of bread.

NOTES
1. I used orange pepper because that's what I had.
2. I did not add dill into the sauce itself: only used it as a garnish.
3. I used room temperature eggs as to not shock them too much ;)

10/22/19

Sharba: Lybian Soup Recipe


This past Sunday, my friends Sylvie and Jazmin came over to my condo for a cooking date. The weather, rainy, grey, and cold, was the perfect setting for catching up, eating large bowls of soup, drinking hard cider, and eating fresh out of the oven s'mores cookies.

Sylvie was craving Jazmin's Sharba (a Lybian soup), so that's what we cooked together...she's bossy at times ;) This was my first time trying Sharba, and I now fully understand why it's a favorite for many.

Below is a version of Jazmin's recipe shared with her permission and slightly rewritten to fit my style/format ;)

Jazmin's Sharba
Serves ~ 6
Ingredients
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1.5 pounds goat (bones removed, but not thrown out)
spice mix: 2 tablespoons turmeric, 2 tablespoons salt, 1 tablespoons black pepper, 1 teaspoon allspice: add all to a grinder and pulse until fine
4 Roma tomatoes, diced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
5 cups water
1-2 jalapenos, halved lengthwise (depending on how much heat you like)
1/2 cup orzo
2 cans chickpeas, drained
1 tablespoon dried mint
chopped parsley
lemon wedges
bread
baba ghanoush

Directions
1. Heat a large cooking vessel such as Le Creuset. Add oil and allow to heat up.
2. Add onions and saute on medium heat until they are golden brown.
3. Add your meat with the bones and about a tablespoon of the spice mix. Allow to brown.
4. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, water, another tablespoon of the spice mix, and jalapenos. Bring to a boil.
5. Simmer until the meat is tender.
6. Add in the orzo and chickpeas. Adjust the seasoning as needed and simmer until the orzo is cooked through.
7. Add dried mint.
8. Serve topped with parsley and a squeeze of lemon juice, a chunk of crusty bread, and baba ghanoush.

NOTE: some of you who like the bones, would love to suck the marrow out of them. Some of you, like me, will want to make sure to pull out the bones after cooking and before serving the soup.

The leftovers will thicken up as they sit in the refrigerator, so you may want to add a bit of broth when you reheat them.  

10/15/19

Taco Tuesday One Pot Casserole Recipe


It's Taco Tuesday! How about using some of the ingredients from tacos, but turning it into a casserole!?

This past Sunday a few friends came over for dinner and I whipped up Taco Tuesday One Pot Casserole!! This dish is similar to a 7 layer dip, but is baked! It also reminds me of shepherd's pie, but instead of mashed potatoes, I used mashed beans. You can easily swap ground beef for ground chicken, or omit the meat all together. This versatile and quick to make one pot dish is great for get togethers and leftovers!

Taco Tuesday One Pot Casserole Recipe

Ingredients
olive oil for the pan
1 small onion, diced
2 bell peppers, diced (keep 1/3 cup of diced pepper for the topping)
1 pound ground beef
1 packet taco seasoning
10 ounce can diced tomatoes with green chiles
15 ounce can corn, drained (or use 2 cups frozen corn, defrosted)
4 cups cooked beans, mashed (home made or canned of any variety you like)
8 ounce grated Mexican mix cheese
1/3 cup sliced black olives

To serve: sour cream, guacamole, salsa, chips, and lime wedges

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 400F.
2. In an oven proof skillet (Le Creuset!), heat olive oil. Add onion and peppers and sauté until softened.
3. Add ground beef and taco seasoning and cook until browned.
4. Add diced tomatoes and green chiles and corn. Mix to combine. Heat through.
5. Top with mashed beans and sprinkle with cheese.
6. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the cheese has melted and bubbles.
7. Carefully remove from the oven and top with the remaining diced pepper and olives.
8. Serve with sour cream, guacamole, salsa, chips, and lime wedges!

10/2/19

Mini Applesauce Cakes With Cream Cheese and Honey Frosting


Need a bit of sweetness in your life? Who doesn't?

This past Sunday was Rosh Hashanah, a Jewish New Year. Thus, to follow the tradition of eating honey and apples in order to bring in a sweet New Year, I turned to baking. I slightly adapted Julia Turshen's recipe for Applesauce Cake With Cream Cheese and Honey Frosting, and it was a big success. I'll take that as a good omen.


Mini Applesauce Cakes With Cream Cheese and Honey Frosting

1. Halve the recipe.
2. Add 1/2 diced apple to the batter: I used Honeycrisp.
3. Instead of one large cake, divide the batter equally into 10 lined muffin cups.
4. Bake the mini cakes for only 25 minutes.
5. Add chopped crystallized ginger on top of the frosting.

You don't have to be Jewish to make this recipe. Clearly. The batter was really easy to put together and made for a (cringe!!!!) moist cake thanks to the apple sauce and buttermilk. I think you could experiment by adding shredded carrots or zucchini or dried fruit such as dates to the batter.

My frosting turned a bit grainy: maybe because I used brand store cream cheese? I liked that there was no additional sugar (other than honey itself) in the frosting: a bit of sour cream and a pinch of salt definitely helped with not going into a sugar coma. 

I ate 2, brought 4 to share with coworkers, and am freezing the remaining 4 (minus the frosting) mini cakes.

This would be a great recipe to make after going apple picking!

9/30/19

Vegan Overnight Oatmeal With Strawberries & Crystallized Ginger


Oh hi there another Monday! Fancy seeing you here again. My usual Monday-Thursday breakfast in my cubicle is 2 Wasa crackers with smashed avocado and coffee, but for the last week I've tried something different: overnight oatmeal!

This is the second time I'm giving this concoction a chance: the first one was rather unsatisfactory, but perhaps my taste buds have changed.

My twin Anna and my friend Jenny have been making overnight oats for ages, and I finally decided to give this idea another try.

I found out I did not like the combination of yogurt and milk as it made the texture gluey. I now use almond milk!

Vegan Overnight Oatmeal With Strawberries & Crystallized Ginger

Serves 1

1/2 cup oats (regular, not instant)
3/4 cups almond milk
toasted almonds, chopped
crystallized ginger, chopped
strawberries, chopped
bourbon maple syrup

Add oats and milk to a glass jar. Cover and store in the refrigerator overnight.
Add your toppings in the morning. 
Stir. 

Other combinations to try:
walnuts and grapes
pecans and apples
hazelnuts and pears

Have you tried overnight oatmeal?

9/23/19

Savory Yogurt Bowl With Chimichurri & Vegetables


Bowls, Bowls, Bowls! They are everywhere: quinoa bowls, burrito bowls, oatmeal bowls, etc. Have you ever had a savory yogurt bowl though? Why not!? 

Over the weekend, I visited one of my best friends and her husband grilled churrsaco (Argentinean steak) for dinner, while we made chimichurri, smashed potatoes, and a salad to round up the menu. 

I had some chimichurri left, and used it to make a savory yogurt bowl!

Savory Yogurt Bowl With Chimichurri & Vegetables

Greek yogurt
radishes, sliced
cherry tomatoes, halved
olives, halved
chimichurri
salt
WASA crackers

1. Spoon Greek yogurt into a handmade ceramic bowl.
2. Add vegetables and olives.
3. Spoon over chimichurri.
4. Season with salt.
5. Serve with WASA crackers.

This turned out bright and flavorful and gorgeous, if I say so myself.

You can use whichever vegetables you like and also add fresh herbs. Or even an egg!

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!)