Thursday, December 27, 2012

Roasted Butternut Squash Coconut Soup

I try really hard to pack lunch for Jeremy in the morning before work. Eating out in NY City every day can be not only expensive but really unhealthy! Not only is packing lunch a good savings but it gives you the ability to use your lunch hour for something fun too. When he doesn't have a pre-packed lunch one of the places he loves to go is Num Pang. Its a few subway stops from his work but they have one of the best bahn mi sandwiches in the city and they also have a soup that he just loves. We unfortunately don't know the recipe (and to be honest I haven't tried it since I work in NJ). But I did find a little info online about the ingredients though! The soup was listed as Roasted Butternut Squash Coconut Soup with Basil Croutons on a few Yelp reviews so that was was where I started.

Luckily I had a few cans of coconut milk sitting in my cabinet along with some fun herb cubes (that I keep meaning to post about! sorry) and a squash to roast. What could be easier? I asked a friend to bring over a crusty loaf of french bread and got to work... Roasting squash can be done one of two ways - either half the squash and scoop out of the skin after cooking or peel and cube before hand. It can be annoying to peel squash but I find that my oxo peeler actually does a great job and then I don't have to burn my hands when its out of the oven (I have to admit I never wait long enough!) I just sort of made this up as I went along but he was pretty happy with it. It wasn't exactly the same but it was a good start... I was hoping to get a chance to taste it so I could get a bit closer. but unfortunately it looks to not be on the menu any more.

keep reading for my recipe

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Wine Braised Short Ribs

I have another stove top to crock pot recipe to share! This is one of my favorite ways to make dinner in the winter when coming home is often in the dark and I often am just not in the mood to get cooking. Starting on the stove top doesn't really speed up the cooking but it helps to get some of the fat out before you braise the ribs.  This helps to decrease some of the calories though to be honest this dish is far from diet friendly. Short ribs are however a delicious choice for a hearty, dinner and can be served many different ways. I find you can't go wrong with this simple but effective herbed wine braising liquid.

I first came to love short ribs when I visited David Burke's Townhouse with a friend. I easily found some attempts at the recipe online and went from there. This is a little less complicated and that's great when you have a million errands to run every weekend! I started this dish in the afternoon before I left to go out to the gym and then enjoyed them when I finally got around to sitting on the couch.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Moroccan Chicken Stew

As a New England girl, I am use to crazy weather so when the temps dropped this past week after a long weekend in Vegas I was ready for some soup. I tried to grab some at lunch but everyplace I went was expensive or watery - I just had to make it myself. I knew that my schedule was going to be a little crazy so I wasn't going to be able to hang around for hours simmering but I needed a little more than just stick it in the crockpot. I made a compromise that did leave me with a few extra dishes but dinner much faster and easier than either of the other ways!

The easy secret to this soup is the spice blend. I have mentioned them a hundred times before (and I do not get paid to say this) but I just love my spice blends from Spices Inc. it just makes getting dinner together a little easier. Also the hardest part can be getting the ratio of the spices correct - when using a blend that's already done just add to your desired intensity. Plus its a lot easier to put everything away with just one bottle to take out.

Keep reading for the recipe

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Chipotle and Coffee rubbed Brisket tacos

I have a confession to make.....sometimes I stay up way too late watching Food Network. I just have to wait and see who wins the episode or what diner is going to be visited! I know its silly and that the re-runs will be on endlessly but when it comes to foodie porn I just can't say no. This sometimes means that my wonderful guy gets fed up and retreats to bed alone with me saying just five more minutes! From there it just gets worse...once he is gone there is no one to witness my compulsive food TV watching all while pinning and searching food blogs. On average I would say that only one in million of these recipes that are just so interesting I can't tear myself away from the TV actually end up getting made since so many have crazy ingredients and scary processed ingredients. This recipe is the exception!

I found this recipe while watching an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. This show definitely comes on late night and has cost me a few hours of necessary sleep but this gem was worth it! I love making brisket and with a Jewish fiancee it seems like I will have a lifetime of holidays to make it for. This recipe is definitely different though! Step aside cloyingly sweet Rosh Hashanah briskets with apricot jam and dried fruits for a real kick. I also love that this can be made in a crockpot. There is nothing better for parties than crockpot recipes that can be served out in little wraps or rolls. My usually go to is pulled pork but since there are some who don't eat pork, beef brisket is a fun alternative.

Keep reading for more info and the recipe!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Pork stuffed with Swiss Chard

Stuffing pork chops isn't a new idea but this is definitely different from what you usually see. Traditional pork chops are usually done with buttery breadcrumbs which I do enjoy but you don't always want something so heavy. During the summer its so easy to just head down to your local farmer's market and find beautiful vibrant vegetables. From the brilliant red chard to the purple cauliflower that I recently posted I can't help but be drawn to these items.

Sometimes I end up with a fridge that is packed with produce and a schedule that just doesn't let up. You can make this stuffing in advance and then store it in the fridge for a few days before using it. It makes your whole dinner easier when you prep in advance! If you want to make this dish even better try brining your pork chops overnight to infuse even more flavor and juiciness into the meat.

Read on for the recipe!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Greek Salmon Lettuce Cups

Lettuce Cups or wraps are a common site in Chinese and Vietnamese restaurants around me. One of the first times I ever saw them was in the Asian Fusion restaurant P.F. Changs. Its been years since I have been to one of these and to be honest my Asian inspiration stops there! This dish uses traditional Greek flavors with a little twist. If you are trying to eat low carb, lettuce wraps can be a great invention since a single leaf of lettuce is almost no calories! I love using fresh local ingredients and when I saw this Boston lettuce at my local farmer's market the other day I decided that I had to create something fresh and healthy. I have done a few other versions of this type of dish using shrimp and crab so don't be afraid to make this your own based on the ingredients that you have handy.

What do Lettuce Cups have to do with phylo dough and grape leaves you ask? Well the connection here is in the spices that I used - garlic, parsley, oregano and lemon were my base ingredients. There are two ingredients that always makes me think Greek that I didn't include - Feta Cheese and Olives. My boyfriend only has one real food hate and that is olives so they usually aren't in the house unless I get them on takeout and while I do often use grated cheese on my pasta with seafood I didn't think that the flavors really worked in this situation. This recipe calls for about 1 lb of wild salmon (I used Coho which is a bit thinner than other types) if you can't find wild salmon or don't want to spend the money consider using another type of wild fish versus using a farmed fish. The health benefits of wild fish are greater than the farmed versions so the difference in price is absolutely worth it!

click through for the recipe

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Roasted Cauliflower and Red Lentil Curry

I love to use my Moroccan spice blend every time I roast veggies - especially cauliflower but this time I went a bit further. I decided to try my hand at a Indian flavored dish that using red lentils.  There were many recipes for dishes that were more like a stew with all the ingredients together in one pot but I decided to roast the cauliflower to maintain some of the texture of the dish. By not cooking the cauliflower in the lentil stew you have more distinct tastes and textures. Usually we don't eat to many Indian type dishes as curries are often a bit overpowering to me. In this dish  most of the ingredients retain their own flavors which is more pleasing to me. I also used some lemon to brighten up this dish.

I used chicken broth in this recipe just since we had an open container available but feel free to use water or veggie stock to make this recipe appropriate for vegetarians/vegans. If you would like to serve the dish with the roasted cauliflower I would suggest putting that in the oven before starting on the lentils - I usually roast at 400F  but feel free to use 350F if something else is in there! Just toss with some olive oil and a bit of spices into the oven for about 30-40 min depending on the size of the florets. If you aren't a cauliflower fan you could try adding rice or even a protein like grilled chicken or fish.

click through for the recipe 

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Asian Veggie Soup

Soup is one of those meals that I can't help ordering even if summer is in full swing outside. It is a staple of my diet all year long and I love to come up with some different ideas from standard chicken noodle and the Italian soups like Pasta Fagioli I ate growing up. I have tried to make Tom Yum soup a few times but I always get discouraged because it doesn't taste "right" and it takes so long and uses hard to find expensive ingredients. Sometimes its easier and cheaper just to order take out! This soup is a take on Tom Yum and other south east Asian soups but it uses  ingredients that are easier to find at the ethic market. Since I am a believer in sweating out the heat, this soup base is great for summer time!

I used boxed chicken broth to make this base but please feel free to take the homemade route and either make your own chicken stock or be even more traditional and go for a shrimp stock. If you are interested in making an authentic bowl of Tom Yum check out the directions on Chez Pim.  You can make a million different version of this soup - noodles or none, chicken, shrimp, veggies etc so feel free to add or subtract as you of my favorite treats is pre-made frozen dumpings! The basic broth is really versatile and can pull together all those "why did I buy this?" ingredients that are starting to sag in the crisper drawer.

Click through for the recipe!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Delicious Brunch Cocktail!

There is a restaurant near me that makes something called the World's Best Brunch Cocktail ever - its a mix of fresh OJ, champagne and St. Germain (elderflower liquor). I love this drink but the price tag on it is more of a treat than a regular $4 bloody mary or mimosa (I love this brunch!) When I had some girls over a few weeks ago I decided that I could easily replicate it and maybe make it even better! I didn't have any regular oranges on hand but I did have a blood orange. I love the way that blood oranges look but its rare that I actually pick out a good one - they seem to be more prone to being dry and tasteless than standard oranges. As luck would have it though...I finally got a good one!

1 oz elderflower liquor
1 oz fresh blood orange juice 
Top with 2 oz dry champagne or sparking wine
Garnish with a twist of the rind

Sunday, May 13, 2012

A Give Away! with Shrimp Ceviche and a fresh salad dressing

 One of the best parts of being a home cook is not having to buy foods that have lots of additives and artificial ingredients in them. I know that when I cook I am only using fresh vegetables and herbs with high quality ingredients. But even I will admit that sometimes its easy to fall into using convenience foods when you are in a rush or just not in the mood to make everything from scratch. One place where I try to always go fresh but sometimes fail is salad dressing. Its so easy to make and you can work with so many different fresh ingredients to make the perfect mix but grabbing a bottle is just so temptingly easy at times.

This is especially true when it comes to bringing dressing to work for lunch. If you put dressing on the salad in advance it can get soggy and no one wants to eat a limp salad but if you keep it on the side it tends to leak and get all over the place. I was really excited when OXO asked me to try these new mini lock top containers. They make some of my favorite tools and I just knew that these containers would be the perfect solution for storing messy liquids and dips. I even was able to use the medium size one to make a few quick servings of dressing - shaking it up right in the container. What could be easier?

I love it when kitchen tools make dinner run smoother. The larger container was the perfect size for marinading my ceviche. Last time, I tried ceviche it was with a salmon filet and I was scared that it wouldn't be done and everyone would get sick! Shrimp turn a tell tale pink when they are done as an easy signal that the citrus fruit has done its job. Just give it a shake every 30 minutes or so to keep all the citrus mixed with the shrimp. Its fast and is perfect for a warm spring day or as a contrast to a barbeque filled with hearty meats.You can also serve it on a bed of greens for a lunchtime treat - just don't leave the shrimp in the citrus too long! After a few hours the fish can start to get overdone so try not to let it sit around more than six hours.

Check out my recipes for Tres Citrus Shrimp Ceviche and Garlic Cilantro dressing below and enter the giveaway to get your own set of OXO Good Grips Lock Top containers!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Guest Post: Randy's Beet & Braised Beef Soup

Hi Readers - my friend Randy wanted to share a delicious recipe and some photos of a soup party they recently attended. She and her husband Mike are great friends and wonderful cooks so I am very excited to share this with you. If we are lucky we might even get another guest post from her on all the New Orleans eats they tried when on vacation to Jazz Fest!

now Randy will take it away.....

I consider myself blessed to have such an amazing group of friends, and a few of them happen to be just as obsessed with good food as I am. A few weeks ago, my friend Krissy had the awesome idea of hosting a soup party, and invited us all to bring our own brand for a potluck extravaganza.  The results were better than expected, and we all had a fantastic time preparing and sharing our soup-y goodness. I spent a few days getting ready for this event.  I searched the web and several cookbooks for a delicious-sounding recipe, and settled on one from for Beet and Braised Beef Soup. This recipe calls for beef short ribs, lima beans, and a colorful medley of fresh vegetables and herbs.

I found some beautifully marbled short ribs at my local grocery store, and knew I was heading in the right direction!  Gathering the entire assortment of produce required a trip to a specialty market for some of the harder-to-find (and probably out-of-season) items.  Once I had everything required, I returned home to pre-season the meat and soak the dried lima beans overnight.The next evening, my husband and I started chopping up a storm.  We were quite pleased with the beautiful mise en place sprawling across our counter tops. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Cavatelli with lamb sausage and spinach

I haven't made it to an Easter at my parents in a while. Since the holiday is on a Sunday and you generally don't get the following Monday off, it makes it hard to be at my parents for dinner,  drive 5-7 hours and still make it to work the next morning. I was so excited when my boss gave us the day off for Good Friday and on my first day on the job! We were able to leave NY early and get to see my family an extra day. My mother even arranged Easter to begin as a brunch so that we would see everyone! We decided that we had to leave by two o'clock so that we wouldn't be getting home too late. This meant that we were going to miss the final dinner item - fresh cavatelli in home made sauce with sausages and meatballs. Luckily, I got my mom to pack me up a container of sauce and meat with some of the uncooked pasta before we left.

Once home we were too full and tired to make anything for dinner, but the next night I decided to switch things around. I had some lamb sausage in the freezer and since it is very traditional to eat lamb around Easter (and Passover which we celebrated a bit later in the week) I decided to use that for our dinner instead. This is an easy dish based on some thing I often make with chicken sausage, the lamb was amazing though! Flavorful little morsels between perfectly chewy bites of cavatelli gave the perfect savory bite. And we got to enjoy the sauce with some pasta another day!

Click through for the recipe

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Chocolate Graham Cracker Drink

This delicious chocolate martini was stolen from a local restaurant.  We couldn't help but snapping a pic of the menu as we were leaving and then recreating it at home! I love fancy drinks but often times at the end of dinner I am too stuffed to enjoy them. But a fun girl's night at home is the perfect opportunity to celebrate with one of my favorite foods....chocolate!

In a martini shaker combine 1 part each of Bailey's, Amaretto and Chocolate Liquor  with ice and shake. Pour into a glass rimmed with brown sugar  and graham crumbs and garnish with a mini- graham cracker.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Vegan Bean and Grain Salad

This winter I decided to take a few days off from meat. I love vegetables and usually have more veggies with my meal than any other type of food but there generally is some meat in there (even if it is only chicken broth or a slice of bacon for flavor.) I wanted to challenge myself for a week to see if I could eat totally vegan (so no dairy or other animal products). Unfortunately I forgot about plans with some friends that involved helping her make a roast beef with all the fixings so I didn't get to go a week but I did have a great time coming up with this delicious lunch option that is easy to make ahead and can be packed up for work.

I really love eating a fresh healthy salad for lunch but most mornings I am not in the mood to start peeling vegetables and cleaning off lettuce so I had to do some advance planning. But a little time on Sunday made the week go by so easily! I was able to pack up individual servings of the bean and grain salad along with a baggie full of lettuce. When I lunch time arrived mixed all of the ingredients together and added a tiny squirt of balsamic dressing. You can also eat this warm as a side dish to almost any dinner!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Terrarium Party!

I love crafting and I feel like Pinterest is a bit of a dream- seeing so many different ideas and inspirations just make me want to create something. Some of those ideas are food related and they do end up on this blog but most of my other creations don't find their way here. Since my cooking updates have been a little less frequent I want to show that I am still keeping busy even if it is just vicarious crafting online!

I decided that I just loved seeing terrarium projects but I wanted to make my own and customize. One of the big drawbacks to a project like this is the cost when you are only making one - you need to buy large bags of many of the supplies which can make it expensive. In order to help decrease the per unit price, I invited a lot of friends over to make their own creations. We had a bit of trouble coordinating a good time for everyone but over about 3 days we made almost a dozen different little worlds. I also really enjoyed making the little men and mushrooms to decorate the little scenes, clay sculpting can be so much fun.  Make sure you have some dedicated space or a drop cloth down as this project can get a little messy!

Here are a few pictures of some of the different combinations we created!

Keep reading if you would like instructions....

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Better than ever Herb and Wine Pot Roast

There are some dishes that just taste like comfort. Pot roast is absolutely one of those. I can smell my mom opening the oven bag that she would often use to make this dish. We didn't eat too many meals that would be considered your standard American fare but this "meat and potatoes" standby still reminds me of running in the door just barely making it for dinner at 5 pm sharp. I decided to put my own little spin on this dish as so many recipes call for the "classic" version using ketchup for flavoring. I would like to think our pallets are a bit more sophisticated so I used a blend of red wine, diced tomato and plenty of fresh herbs to season this dish instead. I did stick with the traditional carrots, onions and potato though since some things just work well and don't need to be messed around with.

There are a lot of good things happening with this pot roast, the first being how easy it is to make (and its easily adaptable for the crockpot!) I always sear my meat first so I don't usually use the crock pot since once the dutch oven is dirty I figure why waste another pan but you can switch over if you want to be able to leave it cooking while you are away from the house. I put my carrots and onions in with the meat for almost the full time but left the potatoes out until that last 90 min so they wouldn't get over cooked and mushy but I have to admit, I think that might be part of the charm of pot roast. I also made a gravy to go with the dish by reducing by 2/3rd the juices and then straining and adding a touch of Wondra flour while whisking but feel free to serve as is. Don't forget to take some time when you are prepping and make sure the veggies are similar sizes to ensure even cooking.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Coconut Shrimp

I love seafood and I am always trying to come up with ways to get "haters" to try it. It seems that many people refuse to eat seafood even though they have never really tasted it (or at least any of MY cooking).  Sometimes they even go as far to fake allergies in order to avoid offending the cook! While I can't guarantee that this recipe will get everyone to love seafood it is a wonderful and easy to make ahead dish that works as a main or appetizers. Most recipes for coconut shrimp include a quick dip in the deep frier but these are made in the oven so you can have a few extra with out all the guilt!

I recently made 4 lbs of shrimp using this recipe to use as appetizers for a party I hosted it actually gets really easy and mindless after the first few batches! I loved being able to bake them ahead of time and then just quickly crisping them up in the over right before serving. We actually had lots of left overs so I saved a bag full (once cooked stick in freezer to individually freeze then stick in a zip top bag till you are ready to reheat) and have been using them as a fun little appetizers when the girls come over for our after work glass of wine...they are better for you than breaking out some cheese and crackers! I used a store bought Mandarin Orange and Ginger Vinaigrette dressing for dipping sauce (and it was delicious - Shop Rite brand if you would like to try and find it)  but if you want to go homemade just look for something asian and citrus flavored.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Planning & Prepping

I don't usually have a lot of non-recipe posts on the site but I wanted to share a new technique that I am trying to incorporate. I am sure that many people also read the Kitchn site and can across an article about a woman who preps an entire week of veggies in an afternoon and I have to admit I was intrigued. I always felt that cooking was something that I enjoyed doing each night and that advance prepping was more for people who had a bunch of children and a million activities. Last night, I cooked in the oven and since I was fresh from the grocery store with bags of fresh veggies I decided to give it a shot. While I prepped and cooked my fish and spinach I also made 2 lunches, 1 dinner mise en place and a healthy snack.

One of the biggest challenges to eating healthy is often time and planning. Its just so easy to grab something that isn't good for us - especially with so many tricky foods that market themselves as healthy. I wanted to try and set myself up for a good week and I needed to make sure that I had many different options ready so I didn't end up just "grabbing" something. One of the best and hardest parts of my work is that I often am traveling or eating out so there is a lot of temptation.

The dishes that I prepared were two servings of swiss chard and beans for lunches, roasted broccoli for snacking. I also prepped my dinner for tomorrow by dicing all of the peppers and onions needed for chili. This did save me a lot of time and helped me to prepare for the week as well as keep to my planned meals which helps in my new healthy outlook. I also put together a sandwich for his lunch and all the food for my day, an egg, berries and yogurt, a serving of the chard and beans, an apple and a clementine.

Do you ever meal prep in advance? Do you make a plan and stick to it or just make most meals as they come?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Garlic and Ginger Brussels Sprouts

Brussels Sprouts seem to have leaped from those slimy green things that your mom forced you to eat before you could have dessert to the trendiest menu item in recent years. While some of their popularity is due to all the health benefits that cruciferous vegetables have been credited with, much of it comes from how delicious they are when roasted until they have a bit of carmelization. I enjoy most roasted vegetables, in fact I often dream of being one of those super-organized people who not only menu plan but also clean, cook and pack up a weeks worth of roasted veggies on the weekends. But I will probably stick to cursing at my stove to hurry up as a snack on crackers while waiting for my dinner at 9:30 pm, since my weekends tend to revolve around a nap.

The best thing about roasting vegetables is that you barely even need a recipe, though many do use some yummy fat like bacon or pancetta to flavor the veggies and give a richer taste. While I really do love bacon, sometimes I am looking for a recipe that is a bit lighter which is why I decided to skip the bacon and head straight for the spice cabinet.