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 Carl's Bad 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.