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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Cauliflower Leek Soup

It has most definitely been a while since I last posted, but with good reason... I am engaged! It happened Labor Day Weekend (seems like forever ago), and since then I've really hit the ground running with wedding plans. Luckily, my cooking has not subsided in my frenzy, and I have an arsenal of recipes ready to share with you!

First up, and just in time for winter (side note: we had our first snow flurries today), is cauliflower leek soup. I received leeks and cauliflower from my CSA share a few weeks ago and on the car ride home from the farm, my mind immediately drifted to potato leek soup. Always on a mission to make it healthier, I decided to replace the potato with cauliflower. This is always a great substitution for starch because, like potatoes, it really absorbs the flavor of the seasoning and accoutrements you add to it. Flavor without the carbs... I'll take it!

I will admit, I'm not one for making soup. I had a bad experience two years ago making Spring Asparagus soup in which I almost destroyed my brand new food processor, and since then I have been hesitant. This recipe restored my faith in soupmaking.

Do yourself a favor; set aside an hour for soupmaking, grab a flaky baguette and enjoy this deliciously simple wintertime favorite.

Cauliflower Leek Soup
Makes 12 servings

3 leeks (leafy part removed, cut into 1 inch pieces)
1 large head of cauliflower, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp butter
3 cloves finely chopped garlic
8 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup heavy cream
Salt and pepper to taste
Shredded cheese, on top

  1. Heat the olive oil and butter in a large pot over medium heat
  2. Saute the leeks, cauliflower and garlic for about 10 minutes
  3. Stir in the chicken broth and bring to a boil
  4. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes
  5. Remove the soup from the heat, add in the heavy cream and salt and pepper
  6. Blend the soup with an immersion blender until smooth
  7. Top with cheese and a baguette and serve warm

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Seafood Cioppino

For the sake of giving it a name, let's call this a Seafood Cioppino. It could pass as a stew, but cioppino sounds much better! It's really a mish-mosh of a bunch of recipes I found online and using whatever it was I had in the house.

This summer I have made a pact with my boyfriend that I would only buy and use the fresh produce I get from our weekly CSA in all of our meals. This has given me the opportunity to be a little more experimental in my cooking and achieve my goal of eating organic and local. Now if I could only convince him to let me participate in the various pig/chicken/beef shares...

Anyway! This recipe came to fruition based on the fresh produce I received that week as well as the littleneck clams and fish I picked up from the Amish market. What I like the best about this is that it is pretty much foolproof. As long as you have the basic ingredients, you can change it around however you see fit.

This really is such a great recipe because it is super elegant, crowd pleasing and amazingly easy. While seafood is still fresh (especially here in the Northeast), I highly suggest making this before summer's end!

Seafood Cioppino

24 littleneck clams (in the shell)
2 fillets of cod (or any white fish)
2 ears of corn, cut in thirds
4 potatoes, skinned and cut into quarters
2 fresh (or canned) tomatoes, diced
1 medium white onion, diced
1 can of tomato paste
1/2 cup seafood stock
1/4 cup of clam juice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
3 cloves of garlic (minced or smashed)
2 bay leaves
 Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Place all ingredients (minus the cod) in the slow cooker on low for 6 - 8 hours.
  2. A half hour before serving, add your whitefish, stir the ingredients around, and set the slow cooker to high.
  3. Serve in a big bowl with a side of sourdough bread or a flaky baguette.
*Two notes for this recipe:
  • If a clam doesn't open, do not eat it. This usually means that the clam is bad.
  • You can add water to the stew if it is too thick for your taste.



Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Coconut Chicken w/ Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce


Note: I like things extra crispy. Just a preference!



One of my favorite things in the world is having coconut shrimp at weddings and catered events. I don’t know why, but I am pretty much obsessed with it. So when I came across this recipe on Pinterest, I knew I found myself a winner. What’s even better is that the recipe was developed by a blogger, Budget Bytes, and since I am on a budget, it is the perfect penny pinching yet delicious recipe!

This meal is honestly delicious (not that I post anything on here that isn’t). It might be one of my favorite things I’ve ever made. It is a great alternative to your savory and salty chicken dinners and the sweet chili sauce takes it up a notch. I cheat a little bit and use the sweet chili sauce found in the Asian section of the grocery store, but I plan to learn how to make the sauce on my own for the future.

The original recipe says that you can just slice up chicken breasts into diagonal strips, but in the essence of time, I just use chicken breast tenders. They are a little bit bigger, but it at least cuts out a step. I also recommend pulsing the panko breadcrumbs and shredded coconut in a food processor first. I feel like it helps coat the chicken better.

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes

Coconut Chicken w/ Sweet Chili Sauce

1.5 lbs chicken breast tenderloins
2 large eggs
1/8 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup panko bread crumbs
3/4 cup shredded coconut
Salt to taste
1/2 cup vegetable oil, divided
1 cup sweet chili sauce


  1. Prepare your breading station. In the first bowl, combine the flour and salt. In the second bowl, combine the eggs and coconut milk. In the third bowl, stir together the panko bread crumbs and shredded coconut.
  2. Heat 1/4 cup of vegetable oil in a large heavy duty skillet over medium/high heat until it is just below smoking.
  3. While the oil is heating, dredge the chicken strips. First, coat each strip in the flour and salt mixture. Then dip each into the eggs/coconut milk and finally coat each in panko and shredded coconut.
  4. Begin to cook the chicken by placing an even layer of chicken strips about 1 inch apart in the pan.
  5. Fry the strips for 2-3 minutes on each side or until they are golden brown and crispy.
  6. Place them on a plate with paper towel to drain and move on to the next batch.
    *After a couple of batches you may need more oil so you can add the second 1/4 cup to the pan.
  7. Serve immediately with sweet chili sauce to dip in.




Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Chicken Parm Meatballs



Wow it’s been a long time since I posted! My life has been filled with weddings, weddings, and more weddings. This past weekend my beautiful sister married the man of her dreams in a spectacular ceremony and even better reception. I was fortunate enough to not only be there, but to also be maid of honor. 

But now that they are lounging on a beach in Tahiti and life can get back to normal, so can my cooking! This recipe is one for the books. I came across it on Pinterest a while back and have made it a few times since and I must say that it gets better every time. 

It is a great alternative to your standard beef/pork/veal meatball and goes great with pasta or even standalone. The lemon zest, herbs, and ground chicken give it a lighter taste, while the cheese and pasta sauce keep it grounded in its traditional Italian roots. 

If you are looking for something different to make for your family dinner that is easy, delicious, and great reheated then print this one out and post it on the refrigerator because it will soon become your family’s favorite.

This can be made two different ways – ahead of time, in which the cooking instructions will be different, or immediately upon serving. Both sets of cooking directions are listed below.

Chicken Parm Meatballs
Makes 9-12

1 pound ground chicken
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1 tablespoons chopped onion
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1/2 cup Pecorino
salt to taste
pepper to taste
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 egg, whisked
zest of half a lemon
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 14-ounce can storebought pizza sauce (such as Don Pepino’s)
about 6 slices of mozzarella cheese (ripped in half to make 12 slices)

  1. If cooking immediately after preparing, preheat the oven to 400°F
  2. Using your hands, gently mix first 10 ingredients together in a large bowl
  3. Form meatballs to be about the size of your palm or a lacrosse ball
  4. Line a cookie sheet with tinfoil and place the meatballs a few inches apart
  5. In a small bowl, mix together a few spoonfulls of pizza sauce with the olive oil
  6. Coat the tops of the meatballs with this mixture
  7. Bake for 15 minutes
  8. Remove the meatballs from the oven and spoon pizza sauce over each meatball and cover with a slice of cheese
  9. Broil for 3-5 minutes until the cheese is golden and bubbly
  10. Serve immediately 

If you are preparing the meatballs ahead of time and freezing, cook them for 15 minutes at 400°F before freezing. Then when ready to cook, bake them at 350°F for 15 minutes and follow steps 8-10.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Cayenne Kale Chips



I don’t know about you, but I crave salt – majorly! But most of the time my salt fix comes with some unwanted fats, carbs and a ton of other unhealthy additives. Luckily, kale chips have come in to my life with a vengeance and I’ve never looked back.

Kale chips can run from $4 to $8 at the grocery store. Seems absurd to me considering I can buy a whole head of Kale for less than $2 and add whatever flavoring I want to it, so I prefer to make this delectable and easy snack myself.

Once you see how easy it is to make this delicious, you will be hooked…just like me! And there is nothing wrong with being hooked on something that is considered a “super food.”

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes

Kale Chips
1 head of kale
Salt
Olive Oil
Cayenne Pepper
*or try Parmesan cheese and lemon zest*

  1. Line a cookie sheet with tin foil and preheat the oven to 275.
  2. Wash kale and dry off leaves.
  3. Rip 2 inch chunks of kale leaves off the spine. These shrink, so if you want bigger pieces, make them bigger.
  4. Lay flat on the cookie sheet.
  5. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and your favorite seasoning. Don’t drench the leaves in oil, just enough to touch the majority of each piece.
  6. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, flipping over or moving around halfway through.
  7. Enjoy!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Spinach & Ricotta Lasagna Roll-ups

I am not the slightest bit Italian. As if my light hair, blue eyes and freckles didn't give it away,  my distaste for pasta is surely a sign! Growing up in New Jersey, this could be considered a travesty. I don't know what it was, but I just never get a craving for a big bowl of pasta nor do I ever think "I am going to make a pasta dish tonight." Alas, this recipe may have changed my mind for good.

Not only is this meal a nice, meatless version of the original, it also great to make-ahead. This is always a plus for me considering my busy worknight schedules. I considered buying the whole wheat version of lasagna noodles, but I was worried it wouldn't be pliable enough so I refrained. After all, the recipe I followed instructed that it must be al dente to roll up correctly.

Even though Lent is ending tonight, this is a great recipe to keep in mind for that Friday night when you just can't eat another slice or pizza or roll of sushi (who am I kidding, this is never an issue)!

Spinach & Ricotta Lasagna Roll-ups
Makes 6-8

6-8 lasagna noodles, cooked
1 package fresh baby spinach
12 oz fat-free ricotta cheese
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1 egg
butter
3 cloves of garlic
shredded mozzarella cheese (to your liking)
salt and pepper
Jar of bolognese pasta sauce
  1. Cook lasagna to al dente, per package instructions.
  2. Lay out flat on a hard surface and let cool.
  3. Wilt spinach in the microwave with the butter and garlic.
  4. Mix all ingredients together in a medium bowl.
  5. Spread mixture onto each lasagna strip. Start with less to make sure you have enough of the mixture and add more after all are complete.
  6. Roll up each strip and place in a greased 9x12 or 8x8 (depending on quantity) casserole dish seam side down.
  7. When ready to cook, preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  8. Ladle sauce and some more parmesan cheese over the noodles.
  9. Cover with tinfoil and bake for 40 minutes or until cheese melts.
  10. Serve with more bolognese sauce and garlic bread.


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Guinness Beef Stew & Herb Dumplings

I decided to go back to my roots for this recipe. My boyfriend’s Aunt gave me a traditional Irish cookbook for Christmas this year, and, as we were sitting around the breakfast table Sunday morning, my boyfriend flipped through the book and came across a recipe that caught his eye. He asked if I could (and would) make it for him that night for Sunday dinner. I, of course, was up for the challenge!
To me, there is nothing more fitting for a cold winter night than beef stew. This could be because it is my mother’s favorite too, or it could do with the fact that I am always cold. Either way, this stew recipe hit it out of the park! I got to use an ingredient that I’ve never even heard of (which turned out to be free at the butcher’s), and was able to get over my fear of dumplings.
As Saint Patrick’s Day rapidly approaches (yay!) and you find yourself with over 2 hours to cook, pop open some Guinness, slice up some beef and get down to business making this classic Irish beef stew.
Guinness Beef Stew & Herb Dumplings
Serves 4-5

6 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 lbs stew beef (chuck roast)
¼ cup flour
2 tsp firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 cups of Guinness (or your favorite stout)
Salt
Pepper

Dumplings
1 cup flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
¼ cup shredded suet (or shortening)
2 tbsp fresh, chopped parsley
¼ cup of water

1.       Preheat oven to 325. Heat the oil in a flameproof casserole dish.
2.       Add onions and carrots and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, until onions are softened.
3.       Put flour in plastic bag, season with salt and pepper and add the beef to the bag shaking until the beef is fully covered. Do this in batches if needed.
4.       Remove the carrots and onions from the casserole dish with a slotted spoon and reserve for later.
5.       Add the beef to the casserole dish, stirring frequently, until browned all over.
6.       Return meat, carrots and onions to the casserole dish.
7.       Pour in stout and add bay leaves, sugar, and thyme.
8.       Bring to a boil, cover and cook in the preheated oven for 1 ¾ hours.
9.       To make the herbs dumplings, mix flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl (sift the dry ingredients if you own a sifter).
10.   Stir in suet and parsley and add enough of the water to make a soft dough. Add more flour and water as needed.
11.   Shape into small balls between the palms of your hands.
12.   Add to the casserole dish and return to the oven for 30 minutes.
13.   Remove bay leaves and serve immediately. Garnish with extra, chopped parsley.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Zucchini Quinoa Muffins



Life has been so hectic since my last post. Between a chaotic January at the office and maid of honor duties preparing for the bridal shower and bachelorette party, I haven’t found the time to blog. Luckily, I’ve found the time to cook some delicious meals and document them for your viewing pleasure. I have a back-log of recipes that I will make sure to share with you in throughout the next few days.

First up are zucchini quinoa muffins with a greek yogurt topping. I found this recipe on my daily stalking of one of my favorite recipe blogs, Eat Yourself Skinny, and I knew I would have to try this recipe immediately! At work, we have this a month breakfast club where a group of people from the office cook breakfast for the entire agency. It was my turn this month and we didn’t to go with The Breakfast Club: The Movie theme. I was in charge of bringing in dishes representative of Molly Ringwold’s character, the prep. So I made dishes that incorporated some of the year’s most trendy ingredients – zucchini, quinoa, Greek yogurt and pumpkin. All of our dishes were delicious and seem to be a real crowd pleaser.

Now onto the recipe. I will say that I had to put the muffins back in the oven quite a few times because the center seemed to be mushy and I wanted the muffins to be a little more firm. When I cooked the quinoa, it was a perfect consistency, but I guess mixed with the wet ingredients, something got a little mushy. So I would maybe try to reduce the wet ingredients by a pinch to avoid this. In terms of taste, they were guilt-free deliciousness. What is better than eating healthy and enjoying it?!

I am definitely going to make these again for a good grab-and-go weekday breakfast.

Zucchini Quinoa Muffins
Makes 12-15

1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup raw sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
2 eggs
1/4 cup fat-free milk
1 cup cooked quinoa
1 cup shredded zucchini
3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tsp. vanilla

Greek Yogurt Frosting:

6 oz. plain fat-free Greek Yogurt
2 Tbsp light agave nectar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. lemon peel (as garnish)

1.       Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  
2.       To make the quinoa, rinse 1/3 cup of uncooked quinoa in cold water and place in a small saucepan with 2/3 cup water.  Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low, cover and allow to simmer for about 15 minutes.  Remove from heat and allow to sit for an additional 5 minutes, keeping quinoa covered.  Fluff with a fork and set aside.
3.       Using a food processor, shred the zucchini then pulse for a few times until the zucchini is minced.
4.       In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugars, cinnamon, baking powder, salt and baking soda.  Set aside.  In a large bowl, beat together eggs and milk. 
5.       Then add in the quinoa, zucchini, applesauce and vanilla and stir until well-mixed. 
6.       Add zucchini mixture to the flour mixture, stirring until just combined (careful not to over stir).
7.       In a muffin pan coated with cooking spray, fill each cup about 3/4ths full with batter and bake in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. 
8.       Allow muffins to cool for about 5 minutes before frosting.
9.       To make the frosting: In a small bowl, whisk together yogurt, agave nectar and vanilla until smooth. 
10.   Spread evenly among muffins and garnish with lemon peel, if desired.