Archives for March 2011

Wordless Wednesday






Lemon, Curry, and Parmesan Roasted Carrot Fries

Ingredients:
1 pound carrots cut in half (I bought my carrots pre-cut, but you can cut them into long vertical strips, or make smaller fries by first cutting them vertically and then horizontally)
Juice of one lemon
extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbs. curry powder
3 Tbs. grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:
1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 F.
2. Coat a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray.
3. Place the carrots on the baking sheet.
4. Drizzle the lemon juice and olive oil over the carrots.
5. Dust the carrots with the curry powder and sprinkle on the cheese.
6. Toss everything together to coat the carrots evenly with the mixture.
7. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Cinn-fully Sweet Roasted Butternut Squash

Ingredients:
1 butternut squash, cubed (I bought mine pre-cut)
2 Tbs. Mexican vanilla extract
2 Tbs. brown sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon

Directions:
1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 F.
2. Coat a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray.
3. Place the butternut squash on the baking sheet.
4. Drizzle the vanilla over the butternut squash.
5. Sprinkle the butternut squash with brown sugar and dust with cinnamon.
6. Toss everything to combine, coating the mixture evenly.
7. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

MANGIA!!!

T.G.I.F. and Whole Foods Fantasy Foodie Contest









Happy Friday everyone!
Don’t y’all just love Friday? I know that I sure do! Friday is the day that we can all let loose and prepare ourselves for the beautiful weekend ahead. Surely, with spring approaching Friday is getting better and better. I get sooo anxious on Friday at work as I stare out the window, the blazing sun and the warm breeze just calling my name. It doesn’t help that there is a snow cone stand about 2 minutes down the road from my work. So, on Friday you can bet your bottom dollar that I will be getting my banana/coconut shaved ice on immediately after I bolt from the cafe. Anyhow, today I just wanted to share my recipe for a fresh and healthy soup using roasted tomatoes, garlic, red bell pepper, and kale. Now, this is my first time using kale, which I hear is the “new spinach.” I have got to say I discovered this veggie for the first time at Whole Foods and I am in love with it! It will definitely change your life. Speaking of Whole Foods, I also wanted to take this time to tell y’all about a Whole Foods contest that I entered. Of course I follow Whole Foods on Twitter and last night they tweeted about their Foodie Fantasy contest, which is open to all food bloggers. The prize package includes two Berlin to Paris trip packages from Intrepid Travel, one $500 AMEX gift card, and two in-country food producer visits. WOW! I am pretty positive that after reading my food posts that y’all understand my love affair with Whole Foods. Honestly, without Whole Foods, I don’t think my blog would have been possible. I am practically at WF’s everyday, browsing the meat market, seafood department, and fresh produce. WF’s gives me the inspiration that I need to create my own recipes in a flavorful and “wholesome” way. I seriously feel as though they are my other half, or the peanut butter to my jelly. Not to mention a trip to Berlin and Paris would really introduce me to the wide range of cuisines that this world has to offer. I have my passport ready, although I have never traveled abroad. What better way to spend it than beginning my European experience in France, a country known for its culinary genius, serving traditional savory dishes such as coq au vin, and sweet treats such as tarte tatin and don’t forget the chocolate eclair. Heavenly! Also, I am almost positive that the French invented butter. Or…at least with all the butter they use, France should definitely be given some sort of credit. So, I entered the contest and uploaded my 60 second “I am desperate to win this contest” video to Facebook immediately. Voting begins April 6th-13th and I really hope that I can count on y’all to vote for me. I really really believe that I deserve this amazing foodie opportunity to widen my culinary base of knowledge and experience. So, please, please, vote for me and let’s make this happen. By the way, thank you to all my family, friends, and random people that follow my blog. I love each and every one of you. Now, on April 6th get to voting! Go to wholefoodsmarket.com for more details.

Roasted Tomato, Pepper, and Kale Soup

Ingredients:

1 1/2 pounds Roma tomatoes, cut in half
1 large red bell pepper, cored and seeded
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and cut in half
5 cloves of garlic, unpeeled
1 Tbs. Italian herb paste
extra virgin olive oil
sea salt
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth (you could also use vegetable broth or water)
1 bunch of kale, roughly chopped
black pepper, to taste

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 375 F.
2. Arrange the tomatoes, red bell pepper, onion, and garlic on a large baking sheet and lightly coat them with olive oil.
3. Give the baking sheet a light showering of salt.
4. Bake for 45 minutes or until the tomatoes begin to collapse, and the onions begin to brown and caramelize.
5. Turn the onions if they get overly dark on the bottom.
6. Check on the garlic as well, once the cloves are golden and oozy inside, pull them from the oven.
7. Peel the garlic, dump all of the roasted vegetables and the Italian herb paste into a large dutch oven or a high-sided soup pot and puree with a hand-held immersion blender. (You can also work in batches and puree the soup in a food processor or a blender).
8. Blend in a cup of the broth and keep adding the remaining broth, 1/2 c. at a time until the soup is to the desired consistency.
9. Turn on the stove burner to medium heat and add the kale to the soup pot.
10. Reduce the heat to low and allow everything to simmer, about 10 minutes, or until the kale is wilted.
11. Use the immersion blender to blend the kale into the soup.
12. Add the black pepper and a little more salt, adjusting to your taste.

Note: You can blend the soup to your desired consistency. I particularly enjoy this soup slightly chunky and textured. But hey, smooth or chunky is your call.

MANGIA!!!

P.S. Here is a clip of my contest video. I am soooo embarrassed right now, haha!

Say Cheese!!!







Happy Tuesday y’all,
I hope that everyone is enjoying spring break…at least I think its spring break, well…for some it is. However, for me, its just an ordinary work week. I remember my childhood days where I practically did back flips for spring break. I mean, what kid wouldn’t? Its the middle of the year and kids are eager to take a break from whatever school work they may have and spend a week running themselves rampant with fun. For me, this usually meant that all week I would be living in my bikini, hanging out with friends, and occasionally taking a “siesta” from my busy schedule to catch up on my movie watching, or coerce my mom to carpool a group of my friends and I to the local snow cone stand. I guess you spring break is that little taste of summer that everyone yearns for. Now my spring break is year round, and today I will be spending my “spring break” serving coffee to the locals at my coffee shop, all of whom have chosen to show up later than normal because they are on spring break. Then there are those annoying teenagers that come in and order twenty large caramel blended coffee drinks because its “totally rad,” and they have nothing better to do than spend spring break wasting away their parents’ income. But hey, you don’t see me complaining. Any how, I should move on to explaining this recipe, which I created for this week’s food52.com recipe contest. The key ingredient is ricotta cheese, which is one of my favorite cheeses, beside Parmesan of course! What do you know? I had a tub of ricotta sitting in my fridge, just waiting to be created into a masterpiece. Luckily, I also had a bit of my homemade basil-arugula cashew pesto left over and decided to combine them to form souffles. I have to say, these are pretty tasty, super convenient, and take little time to prepare. I would serve them over a small salad of mixed greens and arugula or you could crumble them over a bowl of pasta with fresh cherry tomatoes and and side of garlic bread…just saying.

Ricotta Souffles with Basil-Arugula Cashew Pesto:

Ingredients:
15 oz. ricotta cheese
3 Tbs. basil-arugula cashew pesto
2 eggs, separated
2 Tbs. freshly shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Directions:
2. Pre-heat the oven to 350 F.
3. Coat four individual ramekins with olive oil cooking spray.
4. Using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites to form stiff peaks.
5. In a small mixing bowl, combine ricotta, egg yolks, basil-arugula cashew pesto, and the parmigiano-reggiano cheese with a spatula until fully combined.
6. Gently fold the egg whites into the ricotta mixture.
7. Divide the batter evenly among the four ramekins.
8. Place the four ramekins on a large cooking sheet.
9. Bake the souffles for 30-35 minutes or until slightly puffed over the top of each ramekin. Hurry up, these babies will fall pretty quickly after being released from the oven!

MANGIA!!!

Springing Forward








Happy Sunday y’all,
Well, it has been a long and busy work week and today my sister and I indulged in some mandatory therapeutic shopping. This morning we took a long run around Town Lake (a.k.a. Lady Bird Lake) here in Austin. As I was trotting along the lakeside trail this morning I really allowed myself to appreciate the natural beauty of the earth God has given us. I could hear the birds chirping and singing their sweet little songs as if they were praising the arrival of spring. The gravel beneath my feet, the smell of local eateries cooking up fried bacon for breakfast, and the swans wading gracefully through the lake was enough to make me kneel and kiss the earth. Not to mention, I really actually felt “one” with nature when I swallowed a few gnats in the mist of my run…hey I can’t complain, they were probably a good source of iron or something…bahaha. Gross, I know. Post run, Les and I hopped on over to Whole Foods for a nice steaming cup of coffee (Les got decaf because she gave up caffeine for Lent…what a trooper) and some to-go brunch. Needless to say, I have kicked off my spring in a fabulous mood, truly appreciative for my city, Austin, Tx and all that it has to offer. I have discovered that I am truly spoiled living here and cannot see myself living anywhere else. IT. IS. BLISS. On another note, because spring has arrived, I am having to spring into action a.s.a.p. as my best friend Sanna’s wedding is in almost three months, and being her maid of honor comes with tons of responsibility. I am in the midst of helping plan her third bridal shower for late April. It’s a garden party and of course the first thing I can think about is the menu. I am the type of person that loves “tea room” food, if you people don’t know what I am talking about you need to get to your nearest tea room a.s.a.p. Sanna and I share a common love for our favorite tea room in Pearland, Tx called The Pear Tree. I have been going here for “ladies lunches” with my grandmother, mom, and sister since I was a little girl and the homemade food never fails. I love their finger sandwiches and I usually get a scoop of their chicken salad over a bed of fresh greens, a cup of cheese broccoli soup, a bowl of their spectacular fruit salad overflowing with fresh grapes, sliced bananas, melon, and strawberries, and last, but not least, two slices of homemade pumpkin bread spread with cream cheese and sandwiched together. Might I also mention that each meal comes with a small teapot of their signature hot spice tea…ahmazing! Anyhow, I was on the phone conversing with the mother of the bride and she was talking about what dishes people had offered to bring. To say the least, tea room esque food is definitely in the works for this bridal bash. This brings me to share a simple chicken salad recipe that I would serve for the fabulous ladies in my life, whether it be at a bridal garden party, a baby shower, or a ladies luncheon, this chicken salad will definitely help you ease into spring.

Ladies Luncheon Chicken Salad

Ingredients:
1 1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless, chicken thighs
1/4 c. low-sodium chicken broth
olive oil
juice of half a lemon
salt and pepper, to taste
3 stalks celery, finely diced
1 Tbs. fresh tarragon, chopped
1 Tbs. fresh chives, chopped
1 Tbs. stone ground mustard
1 Tbs. Dijon mustard (I used Grey Poupon)
1/4 c. Greek yogurt
Bibb lettuce leaves

Directions:
1. Pre-heat oven to 350 F.
2. Place chicken in a shallow baking dish.
3. Drizzle chicken with olive oil and cover with chicken broth and lemon juice. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper.
4. Place chicken in the oven and bake for 40-45 minutes.
5. Take the chicken out of the oven and allow to cool completely.
6. On a cutting board, dice the chicken into small chunks using a large cutting knife.
7. Place the chicken in a large mixing bowl.
8. Add the celery through the Greek yogurt to the bowl and toss everything together to combine.
9. Check the seasoning and adjust to your likening.
10. Chill the salad in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
11. Place the chicken salad over the Bibb lettuce leaves and serve.

MANGIA!!!

Fishing for Lent!!!











Happy Fat Tuesday everyone!
I hope that y’all are wearing your mardi gras beads! I used to think of Fat Tuesday as my last meal before the Lenten season…you know, a day where I had to eat every meat product in sight before Ash Wednesday where my only resort was a tuna salad sandwich from the school cafeteria. Who knows if that stuff is even real tuna! Nevertheless, over the past couple of years I have found it less of a challenge to abstain from eating meat on Friday. This is mainly because I have developed an extreme obsession with fish and partly because the only meats I eat are chicken and turkey. Anyhow, back to how I love fish, and any seafood for that matter. Lately I have been exploring new ways to cook fish. Whether the fish is pan seared, grilled, or baked I have probably eaten it. This brings me to once again praise Whole Foods for their absolute brilliance in the supermarket industry. I often tote the greatness of their seafood department in my blogs because these people really know what customer service is all about. Not only do they know me personally, but I chat with them over the phone around three times a week when I place an order for two gluten-free tequila lime salmon burgers for Leslie. The hospitality and the salmon burgers are out of this world, not to mention the salmon burgers are made with the freshest ingredients and top grade fish (hey I’m just saying). So of course, after paying around ten dollars for these suckers I wanted to save my money and time and just make my own version. I apologize to Whole Foods, but I hit this one out of the park…but only of course with the help of the Whole Foods seafood department who personally took it upon themselves to grind up one pound of fresh salmon for me…I am truly spoiled. These salmon patties are truly tasty, flavored with the zest and juice of a ripe orange and a hint of dill. Did I mention that they are also gluten free? Sister is happy. I am happy. Go me! Anyhow, I hope y’all enjoy these simple salmon patties…they will definitely make my Lenten season a bit easier!

Citrus-Dill Salmon Patties

Ingredients:
1 pound skinless salmon fillet, ground (I got my Whole Foods seafood department guy to grind me up some sockeye salmon)
1 Tbs. prepared white horseradish
juice of half an orange (I used a Cara Cara orange)
zest of half an orange
1 whole large egg, lightly beaten
1 Tbs. chopped fresh dill
2 Tbs. almond meal (its gluten free might I add)
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbs. black pepper
extra virgin olive oil

Directions:
1. Place all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix thoroughly using your hands (make sure not to overwork the salmon…it will turn tough when you cook it).
2. Using your hands, form two individual round salmon patties.
3. Heat a medium sized frying pan or a non-stick skillet with evoo over medium heat (you can also bake the patties in the oven at 350 F for 10-15 minutes).
4. Cook the patties, turning once to brown on each side, about 6-7 minutes each.

Serve with a simple arugula salad and top each salmon pattie with a dollop of my big fat Greek tzatziki sauce!

MANGIA!!!