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Instagram Lately – Holiday Delectables

3 Jan

I have been posting a ton of recipes made in our new kitchen lately, and have been hit or miss with including links to the recipes, so here they all are!

My round-up from Thanksgiving this year:

 

This year, instead of using all chicken apple sausage, I used half hot Italian and half chicken apple sausage to try and balance the sweetness of the cornbread.

Butternut Squash Soup with Scallops and Garlicky Swiss Chard

Butternut Squash Soup with Scallops and Garlicky Swiss Chard

I made the soup this time without the apple, and double the carrots and celery.

And here’s my December round-up:

Erica's Birthday Cupcakes - Chocolate Stout Cupcake with Salted Caramel Frosting

Erica’s Birthday Cupcakes – Chocolate Stout Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Frosting

I used the cupcake recipe from the Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes.  Being the practical baker that I am, I didn’t want to buy a whole 6-pack of Guinness since we’re not Guinness drinkers at home. So I bought a bottle of Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout, which worked great except I didn’t realize the bottle was 9% ABV which is over twice what Guinness is.  The cupcake was a teensy bit more beer flavored than the Guinness Cupake usually is, but it still tasted fine.  I used the frosting recipe from the Samoas Cupcakes, and added 1 cup extra powdered sugar to thick it a bit. Since I wasn’t dipping the cupcake in coconut flakes, I wanted to make the frosting a bit more substantial. It still wasn’t thick enough to pipe but it was delicious nonetheless.

 

Lamb Burgers

7 Jul

In celebration of the long Fourth of July weekend, Kevin and I decided (albeit at the last minute) to make some good ol’ fashioned American hamburgers. I’m not sure if we went to the market at the exact twilight of ground meat outage and replenishment, but we somehow managed to go to a spot where they were completely out of ground beef, turkey, chicken, and bison.  Bison (our latest obsession; posts to come later) was what we really wanted for our burgers, but we somehow resigned to ground lamb. Not that anything is wrong with lamb, but it wasn’t exactly what eating at Murica’s birthday party is all about.

I found a recipe on Food & Wine and tailored it to serve the two of us, while also including a bit more zing by upping the herbs-to-meat ratio.  See the recipe as adapted below:

INGREDIENTS:

Lamb Burgers for two:

  • 3/4 lb ground lamb
  • 1/2 onion, minced
  • 1 garlic glove, minced
  • 1/2 T mint, finely chopped
  • 1/2 T flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/2 T dill, finely chopped (pull leaves only, don’t use thick stems)
  • Kosher salt and finely ground black pepper
  • 2 whole wheat pita bread (or hamburger bun if you prefer)
  • 2-3 leaves romaine lettuce
  • 4 paper-thin onion slices

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a medium bowl, lightly knead the ground lamb with the onion, garlic, mint, parsley and 1 scant teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Shape the meat into patties about 1/2 inch thick, and transfer them to a plate lined with plastic wrap. Lightly brush the burgers with olive oil.

    Herbalicious Lamb Patties

    Herbalicious Lamb Patties

  2. Heat a tablespoon or two of olive oil on medium heat, and cook the lamb patties for about 6 minutes on each side. You can also grill the lamb burgers for about 12 minutes, turning once, for medium meat. I was worried about overcooking the lamb, so I stuck a meat thermometer into the patty and cooked til it hit about 140 degrees for medium rare. The patty will continue to cook another 5 degrees once you take it off the pan too.
  3. Set the burgers on the pita breads and top them with the lettuce, tomato, onion and a spoonful of Yogurt-Cucumber Sauce. Fold the pitas over the burgers and serve right away, passing the remaining yogurt sauce alongside.

    Lamb Burgers

    Lamb Burgers

In my opinion, you can’t really have a lamb burger with ketchup and mustard, so I looked up a recipe for tzatziki.  The recipe below is also adapted from Food & Wine.  The version I made was chunkier (I upped the cucumber), lessened the amount of yogurt, and added dill and lemon juice.  I had nonfat Fage plain greek yogurt, and it came out on the thicker side. I would recommend a regular, non-Greek yogurt to give it a more “sauce-y” consistency.  This made about 1/2 cup, which is probably more than enough for two people.  I wouldn’t recommend making too much in advantage and eating leftovers, because the lemon juice and salt will pickle the herbs and cucumber.  It’ll taste like a strange creamy dill pickle sauce (I learned the hard way).

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 Persian cucumber, peeled and halved lengthwise
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 t kosher salt
  • 1/3 C plain yogurt
  • 1/2 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 T finely chopped mint
  • 1 t finely chopped dill
  • 2 lemon wedges’ worth of lemon juice
  • Finely ground black pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Using a melon baller or small spoon, scoop out the seedy center of the cucumber. Dice the cucumber. Squeeze the excess liquid from the cucumber without mashing it (skip if using Greek yogurt).
  2. In a small bowl, using the back of a spoon, mash the garlic with the salt to a paste. Stir in the yogurt, olive oil, mint, dill, and lemon juice. Add the cucumber, season with pepper and serve.
Tzatziki

Tzatziki

We also “needed” a salty component for our burger, so I drummed up a sundried tomato tapenade.  The following will makes about 1/3 cup:  Place 6 pitted kalamata olives and 1/4 cup sundried tomatoes into a food processor and pulse to chop roughly. If you’re using dry sundried tomatoes (I used the ones from Trader Joe’s – my fav!), pour 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil while pulsing the food processor a few more times to combine.  All that being said, the thought of cleaning a food processor after all the chopping/cleaning I’d been doing that day was dreadful, so I chopped everything by hand and then whisked in the olive oil after.

Sundried Tomato Olive Tapenade

Sundried Tomato Olive Tapenade

And that my friends was our big fat Greek Fourth of July meal!  We celebrated 4th of July with Kevin’s mom over the weekend as well, and she made banh mi sandwiches for us and I cobbled together an Italian pasta salad to bring.  It really was a hodge podge of cuisines, but I guess that’s really what eating like an American is all about – celebrating a bit of everything!

Slow Cooker Moroccan Chicken Tagine

19 Jul

I am a creature of habit.  I’ve been posting recipes that were inspired by things I’ve eaten at Nook Bistro for years, and I find myself still going there and getting the same thing every time.  I love their butternut squash stew, but don’t love that I can’t make a knock-off of it at home year-round with butternut squash really being a fall/winter squash.  Then, I had chicken tagine for the first time at a work tasting with a catering company that was vying for new business a few years ago.  It had a somewhat similar flavor profile to the butternut squash stew, but the ingredients would allow me to make it year-round  I absolutely fell in love with it (and the caterer!), and have tried a number of different chicken tagine recipes trying to mimic what I had and FINALLY found one.  I’m so happy to finally be sharing it!

Here is the recipe as adapted from A Hint of Honey:

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 inch fresh ginger root, peeled and grated
  • 1 T all-purpose flour
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 2 T honey
  • 4 t ras el hanout
  • 1 t turmeric
  • 1 t ground cumin
  • 1 t ground cinnamon
  • 1 t ground coriander
  • up to 1 t cayenne pepper (skip this altogether if you don’t like it spicy!)
  • 1 C low-sodium chicken stock
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes
  • 2 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 6 oz. dried apricots, diced
  • 3 lbs. boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 4 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • fresh cilantro or parsley, chopped for serving (frankly, this is more for aesthetics)
  • cous cous, for serving

DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until softened. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the flour, tomato paste, honey, and spices and cook for another minute.

    Waiting for the Liquids

    Waiting for the Liquids

  2. Add the chicken stock and tomatoes and cook for several minutes, making sure to get out any lumps of flour. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  3. Combine the tomato/spice mixture with the chickpeas, apricots, chicken thighs, and carrots in a large slower cooker, mixing well.
  4. Cover and cook on high for 3-4 hours, or until the meat shreds easily with a fork. Serve over cous cous or rice, topped with fresh cilantro.

Ras el hanout can be purchased online, but I’m not sure where to find it in stores. You can make it from scratch using this recipe, and it’ll yield enough to make this tagine a few times. Make sure to store it in a glass container, because it’ll make your plastic tupperware smell like the mixture forEVER. I use an inexpensive spice jar one from Crate and Barrel (thanks Joyce!!), but a small Pyrex could work too!

Ras El Hanout - from scratch!

Ras El Hanout – from scratch!

This stew is great the day you make it, but Kevin and I both think it tastes better the next day.  I’ve probably made this five or six times in the last year and it never lets us down.

Slow Cooker Moroccan Chicken Tagine

Slow Cooker Moroccan Chicken Tagine

It also freezes well, and makes a HUGE amount.  Kevin and I use two crockpots to make this one recipe (he has an old school Rival Crock-Pot, and I have a 6-quart Crock-Pot).  If you have anything under an 8.5-quart, you may want to finish step 3 and then divide your recipe in half, freezing the half you’re not cooking today.

My Favorite Simple Kale Salad

1 Jan

To all of the New Year’s Resolution-ers out there who have healthy eating on their list of to-do’s for 2015, here is an EASY recipe for kale that you’ll actually like!

Kale is among the most nutrient-dense vegetables that is considered commonly eaten. One cup provides 1327% of the Daily Value (DV) for vitamin K, 192% of DV for vitamin A, and 88% for vitamin C.  It’s not something I recommend eating huge amounts of every single day because the K and A vitamin content is way more than you need.  Still, it’s a great green to add to your vegetable repertoire.  Sauteed with some garlic, it’s absolutely amazing.  Most people find eating it raw difficult due to its bitter and brussels sprouts-like texture.  I had this salad once at True Food Kitchen and absolutely fell in love, especially after realizing how easy it was to make.

INGREDIENTS

  • 4-6 cups kale, loosely packed, sliced leaves of Italian black (Lacinato, “dinosaur,” cavolo nero); midribs removed if you prefer (I don’t mind them!)
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 3-4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, mashed
  • Salt & pepper (optional)
  • Pinch hot red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 2/3 C grated flavorful cheese such as Asiago or Parmesan
  • 1/2 C freshly made bread crumbs from lightly toasted bread (or from the deli counter, just don’t use the canned stuff off the shelf if you can avoid it)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, and a pinch (or more to taste) of hot red pepper flakes. I like to make the dressing first and let the garlic permeate the liquids, while I prep the kale leaves.

    Simple Ingredients!

    Simple Ingredients!

  2. Pour over kale in a large serving bowl and toss well.

    Let the Dressing Marinate

    Let the Dressing Marinate

  3. Let kale sit for at least 15 minutes. Remove chunks of garlic.  Add bread crumbs and 2/3 of the cheese, toss again, and top with remaining cheese.

Truth be told, I forgot to take a photo of the finished product when I made it, but it’ll look like this.

The great thing about this recipe is you can make it ahead (tossed with the dressing), and the longer you let the kale sit, the better it gets.  The acidity in the dressing breaks down the tough, cabbage-like texture of the kale a bit. As far as the bread crumbs go, I bought a container of fresh bread crumbs from the deli counter at Sprouts, used what I needed, and put the rest in the freezer until the next use.  I’ve made this salad several times and can tell you that the bread crumbs keep really well as long as there’s no moisture in the container they’re stored in!

If you need protein with your salads, almost any grilled meat (shrimp, chicken, beef, salmon, etc.) would go great on top of the salad.  So would chickpeas, quinoa, boiled egg, or other non-meat high-protein items.  It’s a really versatile salad. It’s the only dressed salad that gets better the next day too.  If you know you’ll have leftovers, just don’t toss in the cheese and breadcrumbs til you’re ready to eat it.  I do recommend consuming within 2 days of making it.

Enjoy and happy new year!

Butternut Squash Apple Soup Recipe

30 Nov

Butternut squash and pumpkin are the two produce staples that make transitioning into cold weather so much easier.  Butternut squash soup is one of my favorite go-to’s on a cold day.  I personally am not a fan of the cream-based version, as it feels like I’m eating ice cream without the satisfaction of…eating ice cream.  The butternut squash soup at Fresh Corn Grill in West LA is hands down my favorite butternut squash soup – dairy-free, not too sweet, not too salty – perfect every time.  I wanted to try and recreate it as one of the courses for the Christmas dinner I made for my dad and I last year (yes, this post is VERY late).  The ingredients in a recipe I found on Simply Recipes seemed like it would taste pretty similar to FCG’s.

Let me just start by saying – ANYONE can make butternut squash soup.  You basically just chop up a bunch of veggies, cook it in broth, and then blend it all together.  If you overcook it, it doesn’t matter!  I broke out the blender I had been neglecting since I bought it on black Friday a couple years ago.

Here’s the recipe!

Note that the smaller you chop your vegetables, the faster they will cook. 1/2-inch chunks work just fine for the apple and butternut squash, but I would recommend finely dicing the onion, celery, and carrot.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 rib of celery, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed, chopped
  • 1 tart green apple, peeled, cored, chopped (squash and apple should be at a 3 to 1 ratio)
  • 3 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
  • 1 cup water
  • Pinches of nutmeg, cinnamon, cayenne, salt and pepper

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Set a large saucepan over medium-high heat and heat the butter for 1-2 minutes. Do not let it turn brown. Add the onion, celery and carrot and sauté for 5 minutes, taking care to turn the heat down if the vegetables begin to brown.

    Soften Your Veggies

    Soften Your Veggies

  2. Add squash, apple, broth and water. Bring to boil. Cover, turn the heat down to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes or until squash and carrots soften. Puree, and return to a clean pot.

    Blend!

    Blend!

  3. Add salt and spices to taste, and garnish with chives or parsley.
Christmas Dinner is Served

Christmas Dinner is Served

I paired this as an opener to the Filet Mignon with Balsamic Pan Sauce and Truffle Oil that we had at Christmas dinner.  It was definitely sweeter than Fresh Corn Grill’s – probably because of the apple.  I think if I were to make this again in an effort to mimic FCG’s, I would nix the apple and triple the amount of celery and carrot and lessen the amount of spice.  I was definitely heavy-handed with the latter.  I still couldn’t get enough of this recipe though – I’ve made it two more times since.