Thursday, October 24, 2013

Poached egg, squash, and goetta

As most of you know, I'm from Cincinnati and this city has praised itself for a couple food staples that some may not have heard of. There's the "Cincinnati chili" which has a bad reputation but locals swear by it. For fear of losing some readers, I'm going to leave it at that. There is also the prized German goetta. It is a concoction of steel-cut oats and pork sausage. It is flavored with onion, pepper, and I'm sure  a couple other spices. It is eaten like sausage patties and in peculiar ways during the annual goetta fest, where goetta is served on basically anything you can imagine. It's actually quite tasty!

This morning, I was making breakfast and remembered we had some goetta in the fridge! I figured I'd add this to the "breakfast of champions" and see how it goes. I tell you what, it's GENIUS! This breakfast mixes sweet, salty and savory in each bite. It's a healthier breakfast, and won't leave you A. wishing you hadn't eaten it, or B. wishing you could eat more. It's definitely a good autumn mean to start your day!

Ingredients

  • 2 slices goetta cooked in a pan and seared on both sides (follow cooking directions on the package)
  • 1-2 poached eggs (depending on how hungry you are)
  • 1/4 onion, diced thinly 
  • 1/2 yellow squash, diced in 1in pieces
  • 1/2 zucchini squash, diced in 1in pieces
  • 1/2 tsp vinegar 
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste

Steps
  • In a hot pan over medium heat, add the olive oil and onion. Cook and stir until it becomes golden
  • Add the zucchini and squash to the pan, stir, and cover allowing the moisture to cook the squash faster
  • In the meantime if you have not done so, cook the goetta on a separate small pan and leave to the side
  • Boil water in a small pot and add vinegar. Once boiling, lower the heat to simmer and gently crack the egg into the pot. Allow a few seconds for it to form then use a small spoon to make a circular motion in the water. This prevents the egg white from cooking separately. After 1 1/2 - 2 minutes, take the egg out with a sifting spoon and leave off to the side
  • Once the squash is darker in color and softer in texture, it is finished. Season with salt and pepper, and place in a bowl. Place the goetta on top and finish with the poached egg.
*To make vegetarian, skip the goetta and add grilled thick tomato slices

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Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Louro

Friday evening, my sister and I had the pleasure of joining a couple of friends from college in a quaint, rustic yet modern restaurant -- Louro located in the West Village.  It was a no-brainer deciding on the restaurant. Our friend listed several options, but noted that she was close friends with the owner and executive chef, David Santos, therefore we could take a tour of the kitchen. YES PLEASE! I had never been to a restaurant in NYC, let alone one where I could get the grand tour. I was ecstatic and had absolutely no idea what to expect. I didn't even preview the menu prior to arriving. I wanted to be fully surprised. The minute our taxi cab pulled up to the restaurant, I noticed a sophisticated awning with a bay leaf nestled underneath the font. Louro is Portuguese for bay leaf.

Hemingway Royale
COCKTAIL We sat down in a spacious semi-circle booth with a great view of the restaurant. The lights, dimmed and subtle, offered an intimate and formal setting which delightfully balanced the rustic and warm ambiance of the decor. I ordered a specialty drink, the Hemingway Royale which consisted of rum, grapefruit, lime, and sparkling wine. It was so unique, delicious, and one of those drinks that make you want to just...sip. It offered a hint of tartness along with a sweet finish of a slight floral aroma.

 Prawns with julienne style jicima 
CUISINE The minute we skimmed the menu, it was clear that we could not simply order one item per person. We mutually decided to order a smorgasbord of dishes to share among ourselves. Immediately upon the server requesting our order, we all started calling out dishes from each section of the menu (bites, small dishes, grains and eggs, and large portions). You know that you are at a good restaurant when EVERYTHING sounds good. We finally agreed on several dishes, and because chef David is such a hospitable man, he sent out a couple surprises to throw into the mix. The entire dining experience consisted of -- Pri Pri Shrimp,  Market Oysters, Pumpkin Salad, Farro Salad, Escarole Salad, Prawns, Octopus Bolognese, Tempura Fried Chicken, "Smores", and Peaches and Cream. Needless to say, we were beyond satisfied and amazed with the wonderful flavors. I'm going to highlight a few of my favorites. Otherwise, I risk losing about 75% of you after the third paragraph. We started with the Pri Pri Shrimp, a dish of fresh jumbo shrimp cooked to the perfect plumpness and bold spices. If you cannot handle the heat, don't order it. I would venture to say it is for a mature palate, one who won't lose their composure after each bite. Don't get me wrong, the dish is phenomenal and quite delightful, it is just one of the more bolder options. The oysters were simply divine. They each were served with a small slice of lemon laying delicately on the shell. With a gentle squeeze of the peel, the perfect amount of lemon juice surrounded the oyster to balance out the saltiness and earthy flavor of the oyster. One bite, and it was gone.
Pumpkin Salad
One thing that stood out to me about the escarole salad was the quail eggs. That's right, poached miniature eggs that at first glance, look like small fresh mozzarella balls. They sat delicately atop the escarole leaves, stemming (no pun intended) from the endive leaf vegetable. The eggs were mild yet had a slight richness to them.My final favorite dish was the octopus bolognese. I kid you not, the minute I looked at the menu, this dish caught my eye. I had eaten octopus before, but in all honesty, it wasn't the greatest experience. It was tough and offered a thickness that made the dish tiring after only a few bites.  At Louro however, the octopus was diced into small pieces and very tender. It was engulfed in a rich and buttery bolognese tomato sauce with homemade tagliatelle pasta (a wide yet very thin pasta) underneath.

THE CREATOR AND HIS HOME
 Prior to receiving our dessert, we were invited to tour the kitchen and meet chef David. As the swinging kitchen doors opened, we were greeted with a charming and smiling face in the center of the kitchen. He looked like someone you could talk and laugh with for hours over a good bottle of wine and an imported cheese tray. Chef David stood proudly and welcomed us with such warmth. Literally, the kitchen felt as though the oven had been open for hours while operating at 450 degrees. It was petite, as you would imagine for a New York City restaurant. Quite honestly, I was intrigued and impressed with the amount and quality of food that exited such a small work space.  Chef David introduced his kitchen staff which consisted of only four or five people.  I couldn't help but think about the amount of hours spent in the hot kitchen, and match that with the look on their faces. It was priceless-- a look of fulfillment. I could tell that they too, were proud to be standing in their assigned stations and each having a roll in the toothsome food exiting the swinging doors. I asked chef David about his culinary past and how he made it this far. He attended Johnson & Wales, a reputable culinary school I too seriously considered attending after graduating from high school. He was an executive chef at Five and Diamond in Harlem, then proceeded to launch a series of supper clubs in is own home. I didn't want to overstay my welcome but had to ask one more question -- How did you come up with the name Louro? A slight glow was emitted as he began talking about cooking with his aunt and uncle in France. His uncle who at the time was struggling with a heart condition, owned a large garden abundant in herbaceous leaves. He led him to the garden and snipped off a few leaves for chef David to take home and share with his immediate family. Upon returning home, his mom planted the sprigs in her own garden and eventually they turned into plants. Sadly, his uncle has passed away but it is apparent that his spirit and love for fresh and flavorful food lives on through chef David. Dining at his restaurant was an experience that will remain with me for a very long time. It was one of those culinary experiences that made me proud to have my appreciation for food, its beauty, and people like chef David to create it.





Monday, September 30, 2013

Udon West

I am traveling in NYC this week and from day one, my fear came to fruition -- I fell in love.  There's so much to experience in New York, but as a foodie, my taste buds were eager to be aroused with unfamiliar flavors. That initially occurred in the first restaurant I stepped foot in located in Midtown. It was a hole-in-the-wall of a place that from the outside, looked more like a make-shift basement tattoo parlor. All those characteristics, along with suggestions from a local gave me high hopes for this Japanese restaurant. Surprisingly enough, immediately upon reaching the last step to the restaurant, we were greeted with a shouting hostess/waitress raising the hand symbol for "2" in the air. Confused, I simply nodded and proceeded to follow her to a table that literally was attached to the adjacent table. Knowing that most restaurants in the city offer this "intimate" setting, I was completely fine with that. Without paying any attention to making us feel at home, the server rushed us for our order. My sister ordered the marinated beef kimchee udon and I ordered the shrimp and vegetables tempura udon.  If you are unfamiliar with udon, it is a Japanese round flour noodle with a very slippery texture usually served in hot soup.

Once my food arrived, I notice the udon in one bowl, and the tempura on the side. I quickly asked how she recommends I eat it and she said separately. Knowing me and my combination of curiosity and slight stubbornness, I took one bite of the tempura then proceeded to break it apart and toss it in the udon bowl. I'm so glad I did! The fried batter of the shrimp and vegetables offered a richness in the already delicious broth. The tempura got slightly soggy which actually made it easier and more enjoyable to eat. It allowed the flavors of the vegetables and shrimp to really come through. Placed as a garnish, there were two semi-circle halves of something I've never tasted. I'm going to be honest and this is one of the few ingredients I have not been able to label after tasting it. It had almost a hard boiled egg white texture but looked like a large radish. I came to the conclusion that it was dyed tofu. Whether I was right or not is beyond me. That was my least favorite variable of the meal. There also was a dandelion green-like vegetable. It wasn't seaweed. It was more mild and offered more of a crunch. It was shriveled so it was difficult to figure out what it was. I believe it was choy, an Asian green that mimics the same texture as a mixture of collard greens and chard.  I was so impressed with the simplicity yet intricacy of the meal. I had never tasted anything like it.

It is important to also add that this restaurant is very affordable! I spent less than $10 on my lunch and left feeling extremely satisfied. As odd as it is, I tend to literally think about food constantly. Not just about what to eat, but how what I previously ate tasted and what stood out to me (flavors, textures, consistency, colors, etc). The udon was such an interesting texture that some might be a bit turned off by it. It wasn't thin, but it wasn't dense either, so it was easy to consume and slurp. Let's be honest, who doesn't love the experience of eating Asian noodles with chopsticks? Some might dislike all the "work" it takes just to get a bite in, but I really enjoy foods that provide a different eating experience. Needless to say, I was very pleased with Udon West and plan on taking my husband there in the very near future.

Have any of you tried udon before? If so, what are your thoughts? Share the wealth!

Until then, happy eating!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Brian and I just recently returned from a marvelous cruise. It was so relaxing and full of fun things to do! We even went scuba-diving! All that said, it didn't take long for me to come home and realize just how much I have to do to catch up with the 10 days we were gone. The one bad thing about being self-employed is that I am my own boss. Therefore, I am the one who tells me what to do, and when to do it. It's a tough cycle, especially after a restful cruise. Needless to say, I wasn't feeling it the first couple of days.

But now, I'm back and one of the first things I thought when I got home was "What can I make in a crock pot this week?" so I looked around online and came up with some inspiring recipes! That's right, all my dinners this week are made with a crock pot and are fun, easy, and positively delicious!

Ingredients:
1-2 lbs chicken breast
16 oz chicken broth
1/2 cup buffalo sauce (I used Frank's buffalo sauce)
1 head iceberg lettuce
2 celery stocks
1/2 onion
Toppings
shredded cheddar cheese (reduced fat will do)
diced scallions
Reduced fat ranch dip or blue cheese dressing (I used reduced fat sour cream and a packet of ranch dip seasoning)

Instructions
In a crock pot, place all the ingredients except for the buffalo sauce and toppings and cook for 4 hours.
Save and set aside 1/2 cup of the broth and strain the rest, then place only the chicken back in the crock pot.
Use 2 forks to shred the chicken then add the sauce and broth, and stir until all mixed together.
Keep on warm until ready to serve.
Once ready to serve, carefully separate the lettuce leaves, place chicken in the center, and add desired amount of toppings before rolling and enjoying!



Monday, June 10, 2013

Baked Pork Chops

Folks, let's talk about pork chops. I have to say, I'm quite guilty of not giving them the credit they deserve. I can't tell you how many times I've overlooked pork chops as an option for something lean and high in protein. Quite honestly, I always thought of them as a nuisance. I thought of them as meat that took way too long to cook and if not prepared properly, extremely bland. Boy, I was wrong! Although, I do recommend looking for ways to flavor and intensify the chops because they still in fact are bland if you don't season them properly. These pork chops took me a half hour to make, TOTAL.

Ingredients
2 large pork chops
3 tbs olive oil
2 tbs butter
2 tsp dry sage
1/2 cup Italian style bread crumbs,
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tsp garlic powder
zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp salt
1 egg, beaten

Steps
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and beat an egg in a wide shallow bowl
2. Pombine all the dry ingredients and lemon zest in another wide shallow bowl and mix them with a fork
3. Rinse the pork chops and pat dry with a paper towel, then dip them on both sides into the beaten egg
4. Immediately press them into the bread crumb mixture on both sides, then give them a slight shake to get   the excess crumbs off
5. In a non-stick skillet, heat the butter and olive oil on medium heat until a drop of water makes it sizzle
6. Sear the chops on both sides for about a minute or until they appear golden and toasted
7. Place them in a baking dish coated with non-stick spray
8. Bake the chops in the oven for 12 minutes, or until they reach 160 degrees in temperature




Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Molten Lava Cake

These last couple of months have been filled with change and excitement. I am focusing more time on my business and enjoying the new work environment at Nada. One exciting task at hand for Stir Crazy Cuisine is to cook for a very special occasion. I have the honor of cooking for a birthday dinner honoring my best friend's father. I've known him since I was 5 years old, and I am beyond thrilled to have this opportunity.

When Genevieve's mom asked me to do this, the first request she had was to make a molten lava cake. In all honesty, the first thought that came to mind was, "well shoot, that's something I haven't done before..." but the first words that came out were "OF COURSE!!!". Some may think I should have just stated that this is something I have yet to try, and then get back to her. However, I took it as a delightful challenge and refused to accept that something as simple and delicious as a molten cake would be too difficult. Therefore, I went home and baked. I perused through a few recipes then made one up myself, are you at all surprised?

Here's what I came up with. I hope you try it and like it! NOTE: I altered the recipe to make 2 servings. In order to make 4, just double all the ingredients.

SERVINGS: 2                               PREP TIME: 10 minutes               BAKE TIME: 12 minutes
Ingredients
1 egg, room temperature
1 egg yolk, room temperature
1/8 cup sugar
3 oz semisweet chocolate
1/2 stick butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tbs flour

Instructions

1.Preheat oven to 450 degrees
2.Prepare the ramekins by greasing them with butter then tossing a layer of flour until it is covered
3. In a double-boiler, melt the chocolate, and butter
4. Heavily beat the sugar and eggs in a small bowl
5. Once chocolate is melted add the nutmeg and vanilla, then quickly fold it into the eggs along with the flour
6. Slowly pour the batter into the ramekins leaving enough room for the cakes to rise
7. Bake in the oven for 12 minutes
8. Let them cool for 20 minutes, then use a butter knife to run along the rim of the cake separating it from the ramekin. Use a flat plate to cover the ramekin then turn it over. NOTE: If you let the cakes sit for 15 minutes, the cake should be warm enough to use a hand to catch the cake. This will make it a bit easier.
9. Use an ice cream, fruit, or sweet drizzle to garnish and enjoy!





Monday, May 20, 2013

Sautéed Spinach

If you're anything like me, and you live in Cincinnati, you've had enough of summer. Tomorrow the weather  is going to be 90 DEGREES!!! I'm not one to sit around and chit chat about the weather (I tend to think people should reach for something a bit more interesting and less apparent), but this is ridiculous!

Enough complaining. (Thanks for listening to my rant).

On days like today, it's difficult to pin point what I'm in the mood for. "Do I want a heavy meal that will saturate my heart with temporary bliss while leaving a residue of guilt?" I ask myself. Eh. "Do I want a fresh meal that will leave me feeling lighter than this muggy air?" Sure why not.

So here is this dish I made alongside my baked chicken. It literally took me 5 minutes to make.
Enjoy and be happy that we no longer have to wear puffy coats and Eskimos!

Ingredients 
1 bag fresh baby spinach
1/2 onion, sliced
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
salt
pepper

Steps
1. Heat oil until it shimmers then cook onions on medium heat until caramelized
2. toss in spinach and use tongs to mix in with the onions
3. Add seasoning at the very end (if added too early, the salt will release all the water from the spinach and create a wilted mess)
4. Serve warm or cold and enjoy!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

It's anything but Nada.

As some of you may know, I started working as a server at Nada Restaurant, one of the best restaurants in Cincinnati, OH. This restaurant is known for their high end Mexican flare (Unique tacos that you never would've eaten on your Taco Tuesday), an atmosphere that makes you want to be the last one out, and service that keeps even out-of-towners coming back.

The restaurant is also unique in that it requires servers to train in every section of the restaurant (bar, kitchen, etc.) to get an idea of how the restaurant works as well as what we can expect when things get crazy and we get tempted to put blame on others. I'll tell you what, after that training, I definitely won't forget my P's and Q's as I work with the other staff. Every position at a restaurant will be challenging at one point or another.

Saturday (at 6:00am) was my kitchen training shift. Let me tell you, it was an absolute BLAST!!! I trained with chef Casey, a man who is passionate about food and refuses to accept anything less than perfect. He has an interest and degree in geography and a whole lot of other credentials to keep him satisfied outside of the kitchen, but he couldn't shake his yearning to be in the kitchen. I admire that.

The shift ranged from me cracking over 300 eggs, to slicing and dicing onions, to searing and brazing short rib, to much more. I tell you, I was on fire (not literally). Learning new techniques and tasting everything was for me like a day in McDonald's play land for a child. I couldn't stop wanting to learn more (I may have freaked chef Casey out a bit). During the brunch rush, I stood off to the side ready for any order that was sent my way and watched as everyone in the kitchen worked together to get meals out to hundreds of people at once.

It was such a great experience, and I'm so happy to be part of it.

Below is a picture of a dish served off the brunch menu during Saturday's and Sundays. It was so delicious that I had to come home and try for myself. It is missing the pico de gallo on top, but it is still absolutely delicious!

Eggs Goettadicto 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Sauteed Zucchini Medley

Today has been a big week for me/us. It's been a big change for me because I am no longer at the industrial heater company. I made a huge step into a new chapter of my life by leaving my comfortable, challenging, and financially stable job and diving into something completely different. I now have 2 part time jobs (barista at Starbucks and server at Nada - a high end Mexican fare restaurant), and am moving forward with my own small business. My business is called Stir Crazy Cuisine. It's a full personal chef service. If you're interested, please contact me and we'll be happy to provide more information! I am incredibly excited and slightly nervous about this extreme change, but luckily I have an amazingly supportive husband so it doesn't seem as scary. It's a big change for us because my work schedule is no longer  7:30-5 Mon-Fri. Now I have an unstructured 6-7
day/week sometimes evenings schedule.  In all honesty, I found myself pausing mid serving at the restaurant I work at and found myself saying, "it's 9 pm, I'm still at work, and I'm pretty happy". Who knew?!

With all that said, it is difficult to create day-of dinners. I am so busy, yet I refuse to allow my husband to eat the can of ravioli when I am capable of cooking. He's pretty easy going, but dinner is the last thing I will allow to go down the drain with my full schedule. I actually find myself doing for me what I get paid to do by others! I now cook my weekly meals on Sunday and leave minimal preparation required at the time of serving. It doesn't take me long and I find myself eating even better throughout the week than I used to.

Here is a healthy side dish that took no more than 15 minutes to make. It is great alongside poultry, red meat, and fish.

Ingredients
4 long zucchinis, washed well (scrub to remove sand) and sliced thin
2 tomatoes, sliced into thick fractions
1/2 onion sliced thin
2 tbs olive oil
1 tbs butter (to make vegan, subsitute the butter for an extra tablespoon of olive oil)
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 dried thyme
salt and pepper to taste (start with a tsp of each)

Steps
1. Heat butter and olive oil in a deep pan on medium high until it shimmers
2. Lower the heat to medium and add the onions in the pan and cook until onions are translucent
3. Add the zucchini salt and , stir to coat it evenly, and cover the pan with a lid
4. Continue stirring every few minutes and once the zucchini becomes softer, add the tomatoes, stir once more, take off the heat and let it sit for a few minutes
5. Serve hot and enjoy!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Seared Scallops atop Whole Wheat Pasta and Pesto Sauce

Today was an absolutely gorgeous day. Yes, it felt like the middle of summer, but who am I to complain? I've been complaining about the harsh winter air since December so I have to say "this is what I get!". On a day like today, I am in the mood for nothing but freshness. I decided to try to make pesto, and yes, it is my first time! I will be modest and say, "IT WAS SCRUMPTIOUS"!  Also, I think I spoke too soon a few posts ago saying that I wouldn't get as much use out of my blender as I thought. So far, I've used it twice in the last 20 days. That's a lot considering how heavy the base of it is.

Anyway, as I strolled around Findlay Market this past weekend, I saw the scallops (size 10-20) and I couldn't look away. If you don't like scallops, maybe you haven't tasted them cooked properly, or maybe it's the texture or even sweetness that has you scrunch your nose. Either way, I highly recommend you give them another "go", because they are fabulous with fresh sauces and whole wheat pasta!

Prep-time:10 minutes                    Cook-time: 6 minutes                       Serves: 2-3

Ingredients
3/4-1 cup extra virgin olive oil
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 1/2 cups fresh basil leaves, plucked from the stems
1/4 cup pine nuts
5 cloves garlic
1/2 lb whole wheat thin spaghetti, or any other type you prefer
6 large (10-20 size) fresh scallops

Steps:
1. Heat a medium to large pot of water on high heat. Once water boils, lower the heat to medium and toss the pasta in the pot along with a tsp of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Cook without the lid
2. In a blender, toss in everything but the scallops and let it run for a few minutes. Pause the blender and use a spatula every so often to redistribute the sauce
3. In a medium sauce pan, heat 2 tbs olive oil until it glistens. Then place scallops in the pan and cook for 3 minutes on each side. Season scallops with fresh cracked pepper on each side.
4. Drain the pasta once it is cooked al dente and put in a deep smaller plate. Toss lightly with the pesto sauce and top it with scallops

Serve immediately.

***To save the remaining pesto sauce, put it in a tight sealed container/jar and pour a thin layer of olive oil at the top to preserve it.***







Thursday, April 4, 2013

Original Shepherd's Pie

I am watching Parks & Recreation as I type, and I can't help but think that Ron Swanson would be very pleased with my Shepherd's Pie. The beef was lean and tender, the vegetables had a bite, and the mashed potatoes were very thick and creamy. Wait a minute, Ron Swanson doesn't like vegetables. Well, I'm convinced that he would change his mind after trying this blind-folded. It is very flavorful and delicious.

In my opinion, that's enough said. So enjoy this fun, easy, and positively delicious recipe!

Ingredients

Mashed Potatoes
7 small-medium russet potatoes, peeled and cut into large fractions
1 stick butter
2 cups milk, I used 2%
1/4 cup mild cheddar cheese, finely shredded
salt to taste

Pie Filling
1 lb sirloin ground beef
3 stalks celery, chopped
4 carrots, chopped
1 15oz can cut green beans, drained
1 small to medium onion, chopped fine
3 cloves garlic, chopped fine or minced
2 tbs kitchen bouquet 
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
2 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 tbs Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp dried rosemary, pressed between fingers 
1 tsp sage
3/4 tsp thyme 
salt and pepper to taste

Steps
1. Place potatoes in a medium-large pot and fill with enough water to rise an inch above the potatoes. Heat on high until they boil then remove lid and lower to medium heat
2. Once you can easily poke the potatoes with a fork, drain the water, place potatoes back in the pot, and mix the rest of the ingredients. Use an electric hand or standing mixer. Put the potatoes aside
3.Preheat oven to 400deg F
4. In another pot, sautee olive oil, onions, garlic, carrots, and celery. Once onions are translucent, add the beef and let it brown by stirring frequently
45Add the rest of the ingredients to the pot and let the stew cook for 10 minutes after the broth starts to simmer
6. In a 2 1/2 quart casserole/Corningware dish, pour the beef stew and spread it evenly
7. Top the beef with the mashed potatoes. Make sure they cover the beef completely. There is supposed to be a thicker layer of mashed potatoes, so don't be alarmed. 
8. Sprinkle cheese evenly over mashed potatoes
9. Place a sheet of parchment paper or aluminum foil to catch anything that spills over the dish (Yes, this will happen, don't test it). Also, be sure to place the oven rack in the middle of the oven

10. Place the pie in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Once finished, let it sit for 15 minutes before serving.

Enjoy!




Sunday, March 31, 2013

Meatless Black Bean Chili

Today is Easter, which is arguably the most important date in the Christian faith. It also signifies the end of the Beans and Rice fast!! I've been doing a lot of thinking through this fast. My most frequent thought is something like "I never thought I'd say this, but I'm so tired of beans and rice", or "it's more work to create beans and rice recipes than meat and vegetable recipes", so on and so forth. But the most important thing that I thought throughout the week is that I get to choose to stop eating like this, while many others around the world don't have that luxury. It's truly an eye-opening experience to think about being limited, hungry, and not look forward to your next meal. If any of you attempted this challenge (even for a day), you saw a glimpse into what it means to live with sustenance rather than abundance, and when most of us are used to so much abundance in this country, it can be as altering as anything else. Everything in perspective.

I know this is a bit late considering that the challenge has ended. But I know a couple of vegans/vegetarians that might still benefit from this! So here it is my lovely culinary fanatics! Remember, it tastes better than it looks.

HAPPY EASTER!!!!

Ingredients
1 bag dried black beans (soak for at least 8-10 hours)
2 15oz cans tomato sauce
2 15oz cans filled with water
1 green bell pepper
1 medium onion, chopped fine
1 1/2 tbs chili powder
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 head of celery, washed and chopped into bite size pieces
salt to taste
fresh ground pepper to taste

Steps
1. Sautee the olive oil, onions, peppers, and celery in a large pot on medium heat
2. Once onions become translucent, toss in the beans and stir a few times
3. Add in the rest of the ingredients and cook on medium low heat for 45 minutes or until beans are softer and the chili is thicker. Be sure to stir every so often so that the bottom doesn't burn!


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Homemade Hummus

Well, this week continues with a completely original hummus recipe. That's right folks, you no longer have to go to the store and purchase a measly container for $3.50/ 4 ounces. I used a bag of dried chick peas which, disclaimer, is more time consuming than if you just purchased a few cans and tossed them into a food processor. Either way, making your own hummus is much more economically efficient and I venture to say, even more delicious.

I hope that those of you who are doing the beans and rice fast are staying strong! Quite honestly, it hasn't been a difficult task as of yet. But then again, it's only a few days in. And I hear that those who are experiencing withdraw are at the peak 5 days in.

Alright folks, here is another bean recipe! This one serves like 15 - 20 people, depending on how hefty the servings are...so soak, blend, and enjoy!

Ingredients
1 bag dried garbanzo beans
4 cloves garlic
3 tbs extra virgin olive oil
juice from 1 large lemon
2 tbs Tahini (sesame seed paste) found in all middle eastern stores and international sections of the grocery store
3/4 cup water from the boiling beans
salt to taste

Steps
1. Soak beans for at least 8 -10 hours
2. Fill a large pot with water filled about 2 inches above the rinsed beans, bring to a boil and cook for at least      30 minutes on medium heat
3. Once beans are softer but still have a small bite, drain the boiling water and toss in a food processor. If you do not have a food processor, use a hand food processor, and if you do not have that... then you did all this work for nothing. I'd say your best bet is to bring the beans back to a boil and cook for double the amount of time and then blend them with a mixer, or go out and buy the expensive/less delicious prepackaged stuff.
4. Add the rest of the ingredients into the processor and continue blending. Be sure to add the liquids at a slow pace
5. Serve drizzled with olive oil alongside pita chips or bread, and enjoy!






Sunday, March 24, 2013

Mixed Bean Stew

This week is going to be unlike any other week, culinary-wise. My church is putting on a "rice and beans fast" challenge. This means, for an entire week, I will be eating like most 3rd world countries.  "Why in the world would you subject yourself to that when you have such delicious food right at your finger tips?" some of you might ask.  Well, it's supposed to give us sustenance rather than abundance. I'm sure most of you reading this know exactly what I'm talking about (I know this because you can't reach me unless you have a computer, and internet).  The money that is saved on groceries and extravagant restaurant meals will be used toward a few organizations outside of my church. One of which is one that my husband and I admire/already contribute to, it's called Compassion International.

So here's the challenge, I challenge you to do the same thing, no matter what your faith is. People who never have to wonder what will be their next meal are really at the top percentage of the world. If nothing else, it will help you to see just how much you have and might even move you to share it with others. Because when was the last time you forwent something so that someone else could benefit? I'm sure it has bean a while!

Here's the first recipe to make this week a bit less bland. Let's be real, I couldn't bring myself to eat something so bland for an entire week without adding a couple of spices. And believe it or not, these recipes are certifiably fun, easy, and positively delicious!

Side note: I'm usually all about eating with your eyes first (presentation). Pictures this week will not be nearly as appealing as those in the past. Bare with me, and trust that these dishes are actually delicious.

Prep Time - 5          Cook Time - 30 minutes           Serves - 13

Ingredients:1 bag 16 mix beans with ham flavor
1 onion, chopped, preferably vadalia
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp dried sage
4 cups chicken broth
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Steps
1. Soak the beans overnight for 8 hours
2. Sautée  olive oil, onion, garlic, sage, until onions are translucent on medium heat
3. Add the drained beans and stir while cooking for a few minutes
4. Add chicken broth and let cook until beans are tender (approx 30 minutes), stir frequently to make the stew thicker
5. Serve alone or over rice and enjoy!

BEAN A Petite! 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Easy Lox

My sister got married this weekend. It was an absolutely beautiful occasion! That said, I have to say... I'm pooped! All that fun and food has me saying, I want a semi-detoxing meal that takes about three minutes to make. So, obviously, that's what I made! Smoked salmon is probably one of my favorite forms of protein. Call me crazy, but the richness and texture (which reminds me of sashimi) is very addicting. Normally, I'd be passed out right about now given that I already finished my food. However, I couldn't be so selfish and not share this beautiful simplicity with you all! This snack/meal is very flavorful, fun, easy and positively delicious! This is probably the easiest dish I've posted on here. So for you ADD folks, there's no reason to skip to the next website before reading this entirely.

Ingredients
Smoked salmon
Whole wheat crackers
Cream Cheese (Reduced fat will do the job just as well)
Cucumbers, sliced

Steps
1. Spread desired amount of cream cheese on top of the cracker
2. Place cucumber on top of the cracker
3. Fold a piece of smoked salmon

Enjoy!!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Baby Arugula, Parmigiana, & Prosciutto Salad

This is definitely a new favorite of mine. I first tried it this past weekend at a beautifully delicious restaurant Nicola's .  Brian and I went there for our 1-year anniversary (go us!) and may I just say? It was absolutely splendid.

The second I dug my salad fork into this beaut, I fell in love. "What a simple and delicate dish" I thought to myself. The next thought that came to my mind... "I must make this in my kitchen and post it for everybody out there to read!" So here I am. I can already think of several people who would fall head-over-heels for this the minute they try their first bite. Genevieve, my dear friend is the first one who comes to mind. 

I thought about calling this the 5x5x5 Salad. Why, you ask? Well, it has 5 ingredients, it takes five minutes to make, and it gets a 5 out of 5 in my book! But 5x5x5 sounds like an extra value meal you'd order in a drive through. So I used a title that left very little to the imagination. You have to  try this 4-star salad out! I made it as an appetizer since the roast that's in the oven as I type is taking a lot longer than our empty stomachs can handle.  You also can add more of the ingredients and make this your "I'll be good" meal which is obviously fun, easy, and positively delicious!

Ingredients

2 oz baby arugula, be sure it's pre-washed
1 oz Parmesan cheese, thinly shaved
1 1/2 slices prosciutto*
1 tbs lemon juice, fresh
1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
(Although it's not necessary, feel free to add salt and pepper to taste)

*There are two types of prosciutto. Parma, and Private Selection (in order from highest to lowest in cost). I highly recommend the Parma, however once you see the price tag, you'll most likely gasp and change your mind immediately. If it's a special occassion, go in for the kill and remember that you're not using an entire pig for this salad.
Steps
1. Toss baby arugula in a bowl with lemon and olive oil (I recommend using your hands so that you use a delicate toss. Using a spoon will make the arugula wilt)
2. On a small salad plate, place the prosciutto in a decorative pattern slightly off to the side
3. Place the arugula next to the prosciutto then evenly distribute the Parmesan shavings throughout the salad
4. Serve chilled and enjoy!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Chicken Florentine Pasta

I'm sure everyone of you can vouch for the fact that it has been a crazy last couple of months. From holidays, to the new year, to moving, and traveling for work...I'm pooped! In all honesty, either I've cooked a recipe that's already on here, or one that I feel isn't worth posting. Confession: During the last 2 weeks before our move, I did not cook a single new recipe, if I even cooked at all. Try making chicken Parmesan in a half packed kitchen! It ain't happening. And it didn't.

As you know, my motto is that "meals and life should be fun, easy, and positively delicious". Now that we've settled down in our new apartment, it is easy to think of more meals that encompass this idea. I realized that I haven't thought much outside of the box for a while.  You know what I'm talking about? You have a list of recipes that are your "Go-To" for weekday dinners. (Hopefully some of those recipes were found on this website!)  But every now and then, you realize that you're in a culinary funk and nothing but internet recipe searches, or a new experience will pry you out of it. So here's one for you...Chicken Florentine Pasta!

Prep time: 10 minutes Cook time: 20 minutes   Serves: 4-6

Ingredients
1 lb Rigatoni pasta (penne will do)
1 pint grape tomatoes (sliced in halves, lengthwise)
1 container baby spinach
2 large cloves garlic (pressed)
1 lb chicken breast (boneless, skinless)
3/4 cup white wine (dry)
3/4 cup chicken broth
Parmesan cheese (shaved)
3 tbs extra virgin olive oil
2 tbs butter
salt
pepper

Steps
1. Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta following the directions on the box. Strain out the water and set aside in a bowl.
2. Cut chicken into 1.5 - 2 inch pieces. Drizzle them with 1 tbs olive oil. Sprinkle salt and fresh cracked pepper, and mix with a spoon or hands. Sautée chicken in a deep large pan until completely cooked and slightly golden brown on the sides. Set aside on a plate.
3. In the same pan, sautée the rest of the olive oil, butter, garlic over medium heat for a few minutes and add the wine and broth.  Cook for about five minutes.
4. Add the tomatoes, spinach and chicken and cook for about a minute or two. (If you cook the tomato and spinach too long, they will become wilted)
5. Toss in the cooked pasta along with 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese shavings.
6. Serve hot with additional cheese shavings.