Friday, January 29, 2010

Prosciutto, Swiss, and Shallot Pizza

Prosciutto, Swiss, and Shallot Pizza

My brain has turned to mush this week. Pilot season has begun, I'm not sleeping enough, and I am chugging Emergen-C like frat boys chug beer in college so I don't get sick. My free time has become precious and when I have it, I want to do nothing except watch TV and eat that's what I did last weekend...sort of. I always make and freeze extra pizza dough to have in case a craving strikes. There are so many ways to top a pizza, but I loved the simplicity of this. I am not big on the deli ham called for in the original recipe so I used prosciutto. This is such a simple recipe, it's hard to believe how tasty it is, but trust me. I couldn't get enough. In fact, since I only made half of the recipe below, I have enough of the ingredients to make it again this weekend...and maybe I will.

Prosciutto, Swiss, and Shallot Pizza

Prosciutto, Swiss, and Shallot Pizza
(Adapted from Real Simple)

Cornmeal for the pan
1 pound pizza dough, thawed if frozen
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons olive oil
2 shallots, cut into thin rings and separated
12 sprigs fresh thyme
Kosher salt and black pepper
1/2 pound thinly sliced prosciutto
1/2 cup grated Swiss cheese (2 ounces)

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Sprinkle a rimmed baking sheet with the cornmeal. Shape the dough into a 14-inch circle and place on the prepared baking sheet.

Brush the dough with 1 tablespoon of the oil and bake until puffed and golden, 8 to 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, toss the shallots, thyme, two teaspoons of oil, and pinch each salt and pepper.

Top the partially cooked dough with the ham, shallot mixture, and cheese. Bake until the crust is crisp and the cheese has melted, 5 to 8 minutes.

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Nanaimo Bars

The January 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Lauren of Celiac Teen. Lauren chose Gluten-Free Graham Wafers and Nanaimo Bars as the challenge for the month. The sources she based her recipe on are 101 Cookbooks and

I think I may have been the only Daring Baker who was not excited about making Nanaimo bars this month. It wasn’t that I don’t like them. I do, and I have posted them before. However, I try to avoid doing repeats and also, JenFinn had just made them a few weeks ago for New Years. I thought I was full of Nanaimo bars until next New Year. Nevertheless I knew I would press on because that is what being a Daring Baker is all about. Nanaimo bars are pretty simple to make so the challenge part was making the graham crackers. Our host is gluten free, but I chose to make the regular gluten filled crackers.

Nanaimo Bars

The crackers were pretty simple to make, but the batter is very sticky. The recipe makes way more graham crackers than you’ll need so if you are making them just for this, halve the recipe and that should be plenty. I didn’t have time to make pretty graham crackers so I just did one big layer of them, but they came out well and taste pretty great! I will definitely have to experiment with those again in the future. I am glad that I checked the grahams halfway through. They only took about half the time to cook.

Nanaimo Bars

The only real challenge with making Nanaimo bars is planning because you have to wait for the various layers to chill. I doubled the amount of chocolate on top because I think it looks prettier and I like the contrast with that super sweet interior. For me, the other challenge was getting these suckers out of the pan! I had to use all my arm strength, but luckily I didn’t ruin my pan. Next time (if there is a next time), I will line that pan with parchment. Nanaimo bars are super rich. If you can't finish the pan yourself, take them to work or freeze them for another time!

The graham cracker recipe can be found on 101 Cookbooks. The Nanaimo bar recipe is below. Visit the blogroll to see how the other Daring Bakers fared with their bars.

Nanaimo Bars
(Ever so slightly adapted from The City of Nanaimo)

Bottom Layer
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup sugar
5 tablespoons cocoa
1 egg beaten
1 1/4 cups graham wafer crumbs
1/2 cup finely chopped almonds
1 cup coconut

Melt first 3 ingredients in top of double boiler. Add egg and stir to cook and thicken. Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, coconut, and nuts. Press firmly into an ungreased 8" x 8" pan.

Second Layer
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons heavy cream
2 tablespoons vanilla custard powder (or pudding)
2 cups icing sugar

Cream butter, cream, custard powder, and icing sugar together well. Beat until light. Spread over bottom layer.

Third Layer
8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
4 tablespoons unsalted butter

Melt chocolate and butter overlow heat. Cool. Once cool, but still liquid, pour over second layer and chill in refrigerator.

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Monday, January 25, 2010

Chipotle Shrimp with Black Bean Salsa

Chipotle Shrimp with Tomato Black Bean Salsa

In case you didn't know, I really like shrimp. I always have and I am constantly searching for new ways to use it. This may seem like more of a late summer recipe with the tomatoes, but believe it or not, there are still tomatoes to be found at the various farmers markets in Southern California. Of course, since they are a bit out of season, the tomatoes we have now are a bit expensive, but it was well worth the splurge for this recipe. Fresh tomatillos were also available to me, and this was my first time cooking with them. I am officially a tomatillo addict and can't wait to use them again. This salsa is so fresh and during our crazy weather last week, this was a beautiful dish to make me forget how cold and dreary it was outside. Although to be honest, I quite enjoyed the torrential rain and cold...I'm weird like that. The smoky, tart, spicy salsa goes great with this shrimp, but it is also great with chips and I am sure pairs very well with grilled chicken or steak. I am definitely already thinking of when I can make this again.

Tomato Black Bean Salsa

Chipotle Shrimp with Black Bean Salsa
(Adapted from Kalyn's Kitchen)

Makes 2 servings

For the shrimp:
8-10 large raw shrimp, shells removed and deveined
1 chipotle pepper, diced small
1 clove garlic, grated on a microplane
Dash hot pepper flakes
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon olive oil
Dash cayenne pepper
Large pinch salt
Pinch of pepepr

For the salsa:
15 ounces black beans, drained and rinsed
2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped in 1/4 inch dice
1/2 cup white onion, chopped in 1/4 inch dice
1 clove garlic, grated on a microplane
3 fresh tomatillos, diced
2 chipotle peppers, diced
Chopped cilantro to taste
1/4 tsp. hot pepper flakes
1-2 teaspoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

To make the shrimp:
Put shrimp in small plastic bag or small bowl. Mix marinade ingredients and pour over. Marinate shrimp in refrigerator 1-2 hours.

To cook, preheat gas or charcoal grill to high. If desired, thread shrimp on skewers. Grill or saute until firm to the touch and completely opaque, about 3-4 minutes total. Serve shrimp with black bean salsa.

To make the salsa:
Drain black beans into a colander and rinse until no more foam appears. Let beans drain while you chop other ingredients.

Chop tomatoes, onions, peppers, and tomatillos, aiming for same size cut. Put into bowl and add other ingredients and stir a few times to combine. Chill 1 hour before serving. Serve salsa with Chipotle grilled shrimp.

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Sunday, January 24, 2010

Grilled Cheese Truck

Pastrami Melt from The Grilled Cheese Truck in Los Angeles

Until yesterday, I hadn't been to the gym in a week. I have been in a routine of going four to six times a week since September and I think I just needed a rest. Plus it rained all week, work was busy and a variety of other excuses. Blah, blah, blah. To compensate I ate mostly healthy all week, but when I learned the Grilled Cheese Truck was going to be making a stop in my neighborhood during the Miracle Mile Art Walk, I knew I would have to indulge. I am pretty unschooled in the LA food truck scene. Of course, I am familiar with some of the SF trucks after Foodbuzz fest, but LA trucks and I don't cross paths often. Over the break I finally got a chance to try the Grilled Cheese Truck and it was PHENOMENAL. Besides the basic melts, they have specials daily and of course the famed mac and cheese melt that you can also order with pulled barbeque pork and caramelized onions. It's gooey, cheesy, sweet, and slightly spicy. The mac and cheese is no joke either. It's very creamy and reminiscent of the mac and cheese at Lemonade.

Basic Grilled Cheese from the Grilled Cheese Truck in Los Angeles

For my second melty outing, I went with the special. A grilled cheese stuffed with pastrami, Muenster cheese, Dijon, and caramelized onions in between two pieces of perfectly grilled rye bread. For later I got a standard melt with American cheese, tomato, and bacon. Simple, classic, and comforting. All that cheese and bread and meat is extravagant, but worth it. Of course, now I have to go...the gym is calling (incidentally, I just became the "mayor" of my gym on Foursquare whcih Diana recently deemed an app for dorky social networkers)

To learn more about the Grilled Cheese Truck and their menu, visit their website and/or follow them on Twitter.

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Friday, January 22, 2010

Tangy, Spicy, Skinless, Boneless Chicken Thighs

Tangy, Spicy, Skinless, Boneless Chicken Thighs

Since my work life is starting to get a little busier, I am always on the lookout for meals that will make a lot of leftovers so I can have an easy lunch or dinner at a moment's notice. This recipe is written for summer grilling, but it works perfectly indoors as well. I have been smitten with boneless, skinless chicken thighs of late. They are fast cooking, inexpensive, and remain tender even when reheating. This recipe is just what the title says... tangy, and spicy, but not overwhelmingly spicy. My first serving of this was with some kale (a whole head) sauteed with a little garlic and olive oil. My second two servings were with arugula tossed with lemon juice and a bit of olive oil. Both pairings were great and perfectly portable for my work lunch. I did have to make one change to the recipe by adding a bit of oil to the marinade, because the water wasn't getting it quite to the consistency I wanted with just water. The good news is that if you use olive oil and cook on a nonstick grill pan, you won't need to add any more oil. I let the chicken marinate overnight so the flavor was in every bite. This is definitely a recipe that I will be making often.

Tangy, Spicy, Skinless, Boneless Chicken Thighs
(Adapted from The Kitchn)

Makes 3-5 servings

5 boneless skinless chicken thighs, about 4 pounds
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
6 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1 jalapeƱo pepper, chopped
Zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon water
Extra-virgin olive oil as needed

Toss the chicken thighs with the salt and pepper in a large bowl.

In a small food processor, add the cumin, coriander, smashed garlic, chopped ginger and peppers, lemon zest, tomato paste, and water. Pulse the mixture until it is liquid and goopy. Add a bit of olive oil if necessary. Toss thoroughly with the chicken. Refrigerate up to 24 hours, or cook immediately.

Heat the grill or grill pan to high. When hot, cook the chicken 4 minutes on each side.

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Good Food Live

Man Playing the Didjeridoo

When I got an email last week inviting me to the Good Food Live event over the weekend, I didn't even think twice about it. I immediately started bouncing up and down in my chair causing curious looks from my coworkers. A couple of months ago is when I first heard of the weekend devoted to Aussie food, music, and culture, but I never purchased tickets even though I was dying to see Daniel Merriweather perform on Saturday and see the cooking demonstration on Sunday.

My weekend was pretty fab (I'm still recovering), but I managed to get myself dressed to head out into the first storm of the week to attend the rooftop event. Luckily, I wasn't without great company and I had Chrystal and Amir to entertain me as we tasted lamingtons and tried to figure out a way to do a full blown vacation to Australia on our limited budgets.

Little girl wih baby kangaroo

After a while we headed up to the rooftop for the main event. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that besides Curtis Stone, there were several other chefs and bar experts presenting their knowledge about Australian food and wine. First up was Gus McShane of Copa D'Oro in Santa Monica who besides being so adorable, mixed up some seriously good cocktails including a ginger drink with passion fruit.

Gus McShane and Evan Kleiman at Good Food Live

Then came Curtis Stone to look cute and talk about lamb. I got to try his herb crusted rack of lamb...perfectly cooked and seasoned, I couldn't get enough.

Project 365: Curtis Stone at Good Food Live 1/17/0

James Gosper then came on stage to talk wine and Peter Evans came to talk seafood and fattoush.

Evan Kleiman and Peter Evans

One thing I learned...Aussie chefs, sure are cute!!

I also got to meet (and see again) some more LA bloggers and writers including Lindsay, Sarah, Sook, and Lauren as well as the aforementioned Chrystal and Amir.

LA Food Bloggers with Curtis Stone at Good Food Live
(Photo by Sarah Spitz)

All in all, it was a fabulous day and I was thrilled to be invited. If you would like to view more photos of the event (mostly stalker-ish pictures of C. Stone), please visit my Flickr set.

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Egg and Herb Salad

Egg and Herb Salad (no capers)

As I mentioned in my last post, I love Twitter for bringing me all kinds of recipe inspiration. Recently someone linked to a gorgeous set of salads posted in the New York Times I knew I would be making one if not all of them sooner or later. The simple choice was this egg salad because I keep all of the ingredients on hand at all times and I just so happened to have the arugula from a recent farmers market trip. This isn't the egg salad you grew up with. This is an egg salad suitable for adults and those with discriminating taste. It's so simple to prepare and the tangy, savory mix spread over a bed of fresh arugula versus sandwiched between two pieces of bread won't make you feel the need to run laps after. The recipe as written makes quite a bit of egg salad so for my second try of it, I added some capers which were not only pretty, but added a salty bite. This recipe is quick enough to make often and I probably will.

Egg and Herb Salad

Egg and Herb Salad
(Adapted from the New York Times)

Makes 2-3 servings

4 large eggs, hard-boiled and finely chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh parsley (you can also use dill, tarragon, chervil or chives)
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
1 shallot, finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 1/2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 tablespoons buttermilk (or low fat yogurt)
1 1/2 teaspoons mayonnaise
1 garlic clove, grated
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
A few handfuls baby arugula, washed and dried

Combine the chopped eggs, herbs, celery and shallot in a large bowl, and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Whisk together the vinegar, lemon juice, buttermilk, mayonnaise, mustard and olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Toss with the egg mixture.

Line plates or a platter with arugula, top with the egg salad and serve.

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Sunday, January 17, 2010

Coconut Ice Cream with Saffron

Coconut Ice Cream with Saffron

After the chicken satay, I had some coconut milk left and I wasn't sure what to do with it. I took to Twitter, which is rapidly becoming one of my greatest sources of recipe inspiration. I had recently been thinking that is had been a long time since I broke out my ice cream maker and then several people shouted out ice cream ideas. It took approximately two seconds to find a recipe using ingredients I had on hand. This is one of the simplest ice cream bases I have ever made. I always get a little nervous while cooking with saffron that the brilliant gold hue won't come through so I used exactly a half teaspoon. However, I think the scant half teaspoon recommended in the original recipe is fine. Despite the lack of eggs, this is one of the creamiest and richest ice creams I have ever had and this is a recipe that lets the mellow flavor of saffron shine through. Plus, look at the color. This ice cream could be described as sunshine in a bowl just for how pretty it is. In order to enhance the coconut flavor, I added some toasted flaked coconut to my serving. I normally like my sweets on the less sweet side, but next time I would use maybe a tablespoon more of sugar to offset the savory saffron.

This weekend has been delicious so far and it's about to get more delicious with a cooking demonstration with the hottie Curtis Stone. I promise to take as many pics as possible while trying to not look like a stalker.

Coconut Ice Cream with Saffron

Coconut Ice Cream with Saffron
(From David Lebovitz who adapted from delicious days)

2/3 cup heavy cream
1 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup white sugar
scant 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads

In a medium-sized saucepan, bring all the ingredients to a boil.

Reduce the heat and simmer gently for ten minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, and chill the mixture thoroughly.

Once chilled, freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's directions. Once churned, be sure to scrape any saffron threads clinging to the dasher back in to the ice cream.

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Friday, January 15, 2010

Vanilla-Scented Granola

Vanilla-Scented Granola

Making granola is literally one of the easiest tasks to do in the kitchen, and yet I hardly ever do it. I got a lovely reminder after visiting some food porn last week. This has been great to munch on all week sprinkled over honey sweetened Greek yogurt and keeps me full so I don't snack too much between meals. I made about half of the amount called for in the original recipe, but this keeps so well I am going to make the full amount next time because it's already time to make another batch! Now I just need to find a big enough container for all the Greek yogurt I am going through and I will no longer have to haul my breakfast with me every day to work!

I'm so happy it's the weekend and a long one at that! What are your plans? I will be attending many cool events that I am super excited about. Hope to have pics and stories up soon. Have a good one!!

Vanilla-Scented Granola
(Adapted from Bon Appetit, March 2002)

Makes 2 cups

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup golden brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Position rack in middle of oven and preheat to 300 degrees. Lightly spray large baking sheet with nonstick spray. Mix the oats, almonds, brown sugar, salt, and cinnamon in large bowl. Combine oil, honey, and sugar in small saucepan; bring to simmer over medium heat. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla. Pour hot liquid over oat mixture; stir well. Using hands, toss mixture until thoroughly mixed.

Spread granola on prepared baking sheet. Bake until golden brown, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes. Transfer sheet to rack; cool granola completely. (Can be made 2 weeks ahead. Store in airtight container at room temperature.)

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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Daring Cooks: Chicken Satay

Daring Cooks:Chicken Satay

The January 2010 DC challenge was hosted by Cuppy of Cuppylicious and she chose a delicious Thai-inspired recipe for Pork Satay from the book 1000 Recipes by Martha Day.

It's been a while since I completed a Daring Cooks challenge, but when I saw the recipe for this month, I knew I just had to give it a try. Satay is one of my favorite things to have as I mentioned when I experimented with making it a few months ago, but I was excited to try a more authentic recipe...especially since I already had most of the ingredients. This is a snap to put together. I threw all the marinade ingredients in my mini food processor and let the chicken marinate overnight. I like the meatiness of boneless, skinless chicken thighs for a strong marinade like this. The sauce is also easy peasy, but next time I will make about half the amount. I upped the amount of brown sugar called for just a bit because I like my peanut sauce on the sweeter side. I had leftovers for days and they were just as good as the first day I made them. I will definitely be making this again when I get the urge for a takeout favorite!

Chicken Marinade

1/2 small onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, grated
1 tablespoon ginger root, grated
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 pound of chicken thighs, cut into cubes

In a food processor or blender, dump in everything except the chicken and blend until smooth.

Cover chicken with marinade. You can place the pork into a bowl, cover/seal and chill, or place the whole lot of it into a ziplock bag, seal and chill.

If using wooden or bamboo skewers, soak your skewers in warm water for at least 20 minutes before preparing skewers.

Gently and slowly slide meat strips onto skewers. Discard leftover marinade.

Broil or grill a 8-10 minutes per side or until the edges just start to char. Flip and cook another 8-10 minutes.

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Peanut Sauce

3/4 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup peanut butter
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar, plus more to taste if desired
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Mix the brown sugar, cumin, coriander, and red pepper flakes in a small bowl. Add soy sauce and lemon, mix well.

Over low heat, combine coconut milk, peanut butter and your soy-lemon-seasoning mix. Mix well, stir often.

All you’re doing is melting the peanut butter, so make your peanut sauce after you’ve made everything else in your meal, or make ahead of time and reheat.

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Chocolate Strawberry Turnovers

Chocolate Strawberry Turnovers

Food friends, run, don't walk to your kitchen and spend a couple of minutes scanning what you have. If you are in possession of chocolate, jam, and puff pastry (like I always seem to be), then make these immediately. I can be picky about my chocolate and fruit mixes. Basically the only combo I really enjoy is chocolate and strawberry. Anything else pretty much makes me gag so when I saw these little turnovers on Maya's site last week, I knew I would be making them very soon. I still have a bit of puff pastry left from my Daring Bakers challenge a couple of months ago and I always have a bit of dark chocolate laying around from leftover scraps of baking projects. These turnovers are to die for!! The chocolate and jam get all lovely and melty and warm and the puff pastry is the perfect buttery container for the mixture. I only made a few and showed great restraint, but I could see how it would be possible to eat a whole lot of these in one sitting. They are a great sweet treat.

Chocolate Strawberry Turnovers
(Adapted from My Feasts who adapted from Gourmet, February 2007)

Makes 4 servings

1 rectangle puff pastry
1/4 cup strawberry jam
2 ounces finely chopped dark chocolate
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Turbinado sugar (optional) for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 375 degrees, line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Thaw the puff pastry and cut each sheet into 4, 3-inch squares, brush the edges with some beaten egg. Place dark chocolate and strawberry jam in the middle and fold each square diagonally in half. Seal and crimp pastry.

Place pastry triangles on baking sheet, brush pastry with beaten egg and sprinkle with a bit of turbinado sugar if desired. Bake in preheated oven till tops turn golden, around 10-15 minutes. Cool slightly on a rack and serve warm.

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Monday, January 11, 2010

Turkey Black Bean Chili

Turkey Black Bean Chili

Despite the rest of the country suffering from a deep freeze, the year has gotten off to an insanely warm start here in So Cal. I have had to turn on my air conditioner almost daily to cool my apartment down when I get home and yesterday at the farmers market everyone was wearing shorts and t-shirts (as evidenced by this adorable pic of Raul). In spite of these facts, I have been craving chili lately. I am trying to clear some room in my freezer so this was a great way to use up the turkey I had leftover from the Italian Wedding Soup. There were many, many recipes to sift through for chili, but not a lot for black bean chili so I had to come up with something I liked on my own. For my first try, I think this came out pretty well. I love spice and this came out smoky and tangy and full of wonderful flavors. Lucky for me, I have plenty of leftovers for my work lunches this week because I know the flavors will come together even more and be even better.

Turkey Black Bean Chili
(By Esi)

Makes 2.5 servings

8 ounces ground turkey meat (93% lean)
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
7 ounces fire roasted tomatoes in their juices
1 teaspoon cumin
2 teaspoons Aleppo pepper
2 chipotles in adobo, chopped
1-15 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup chicken stock
Salt and pepper to taste
Tortilla chips, shredded cheese, sour cream, green onions, etc for garnish.

In a large saute pan or Dutch oven heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add the turkey. Use the back of the spoon to break up the turkey meat. Season lightly with salt and pepper and cook until the turkey is cooked through. Remove the turkey from the pan with a slotted spoon.

Add the onions to the pan and cook until they have softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, cumin, Aleppo pepper, and chipotle. Stir to combine adjust seasoning as necessary. Add the turkey, black beans, and chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover and let the mixture simmer for about 30 minutes. Serve warm with whatever garnishes you like.

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Sunday, January 10, 2010

Winter Fruit Salad with Whole Wheat Orzo and Arugula

Winter Fruit Salad with Whole Wheat Orzo and Arugula (like a lot)

Well my first week of the 10 in 10 challenge went pretty well. I have already been going to the gym 4-5 days a week since last summer, but I have intensified my workouts and I am eating way better and drinking less wine. Hopefully I continue on the straight path and with dishes like this it shouldn't be too hard. The other day I had a particularly difficult training session. In fact, I am still feeling it right now although I was able to power through yesterday and do day 2 of couch to 5K. I told ya'll I'm on a mission. Anyway, I was so happy to have this recipe to fuel my afternoon. Diana has been on a quinoa kick lately. I went through my quinoa kick last year so I wanted to mix it up a bit and try something different. Plus, my quinoa was looking a little funky. I had a great trip to the Hollywood farmers market last weekend and picked up many goodies, including all the stuff for this salad minus the oil, vinegar, dijon, and salt and pepper. As regular readers know, I like to keep my blog and ingredients as fresh and local as possible. Having year-round farmers markets not only makes it easy, but it keeps costs down since I am on a pretty tight budget. I sort of suck at segmenting oranges, and I only picked up one so I added some clementines to the mix. Last year my fruit obsession was pomegranate, this year it's clementines. I can't get enough of those little cuties. Since I had just picked up some whole wheat orzo, I used that in place of the quinoa and a bit of the clementine juice to replace my orange juice. This salad is awesome. It's fruity and filling and easy on the wallet. It will have you feeling full without weighing you down and it's perfect to recharge after a hard workout. I couldn't get enough. I am ready for week two and looking forward to new challenges the 10 in 10 will bring.

Winter Fruit Salad with Whole Wheat Orzo and Arugula
(Adapted from Diana Takes a Bite)

Makes 2 servings

1 cup cooked whole wheat orzo, at room temperature
2 shallots, sliced
1 cara cara orange, segmented and juices reserved
2-3 clementines, peeled and separated
1 fuyu persimmon, cut into chunks
1-2 handfuls pomegranate arils
2 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese
2 handfuls arugula

1/2 teaspoon clementine zest
3 tablespoons citrus juice (In this case from the cara cara orange and the clementines)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
Salt, pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice shallots into thin rings and then roast (without oil) until crispy (approximately 20-30 minutes).

Whisk together the ingredients for the dressing and season to taste.

When shallots are done, mix orzo, persimmon, pomegranate seeds, orange segments and arugula with the dressing. Plate, then top with the shallots and feta cheese.

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Friday, January 8, 2010

Maple Bacon Biscuits

Maple Bacon Biscuits

I remember a few months ago when Raul told me about the amazing baked goods he had just consumed from Huckleberry in Santa Monica. Then I saw a glowing review from Diana and then Cathy posted these biscuits so I knew it was a matter of time before I made them. Once I got my new fridge up and running, I couldn’t wait to get in the kitchen and cook up a storm. Maybe I was out of practice, but these were very time consuming. I almost considered skipping the last step of the maple drizzle, but I am glad my laziness did not get the best of me. I freaking LOVED THESE! There is smokiness from the bacon, sweet maple, and the soft crunch of the coarse sea salt sprinkled on top. None of the flavors overwhelms each other and they all work in perfect harmony. I wanted to eat all of them, but like a good friend (and someone who knows better), I took them to Raul’s for New Year’s eve and to let the vultures have at. I definitely understand why there is always a line in front of Huckleberry.

Maple Bacon Biscuits
(Slightly adapted from LA Times, as adapted from Huckleberry Cafe)

Makes about 24 biscuits

12 ounces bacon bacon, cut into 1/2 -inch pieces
3 1/2 cups flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter, cut into 1/2 -inch cubes
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons maple syrup, divided
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk
1 egg
1 tablespoon heavy cream
Coarse sea salt

In a medium frying pan, cook the bacon over medium heat until cooked but not crispy, 10 to 12 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate or pan to cool and drain excess fat.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Using a pastry cutter or fork, cut in the diced butter, until it resembles small peas. Stir in the bacon, then one-fourth cup plus 2 tablespoons of maple syrup and the buttermilk until the dough just comes together (it will still be clumpy). Don't overwork the dough.

On a lightly floured surface, gently press or roll the dough to 1-inch thickness. Cut the biscuits using a 2-inch round cutter; you should have 24 biscuits. Place 12 biscuits on each of two parchment-lined baking sheets, spaced 2 inches apart. Chill the trays in the refrigerator just until the biscuits are cold, about 10 minutes.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. While the biscuits are chilling, prepare the egg wash: In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and cream. Brush the chilled biscuits with egg wash and top each with a pinch of coarse sea salt.

Bake the biscuits until they just begin to brown, about 25 minutes. Remove the tray from the oven. Quickly drizzle 1 teaspoon of the remaining maple syrup over each biscuit, then place the tray back in the oven for 3 minutes more. Serve while still warm.

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Thursday, January 7, 2010

Sriracha Chicken Wings

Sriracha Chicken Wings

During my holiday break, I basically prepped for the 10 in 10 Challenge by eating whatever I wanted. I also worked out a lot so I didn’t really put on weight, but it wasn’t exactly the healthiest diet. One of my indulgences was these chicken wings. I hadn’t planned on doing another wing recipe so soon after the Garlic-Sizzled wings, but these sounded too good to pass up. They aren’t totally bad for you, but they aren’t exactly loaded with health benefits. For some reason, whenever I turn on my oven in my teeny apartment, the smoke alarm goes off. It went off four times while making these wings, but it was worth the annoyance. I adore spice and these wings have a ton of it. If you’re a wimp, reduce the amount of Sriracha, but please don’t leave it out. The sauce is sweet, smoky, and definitely spicy. It’s the kind of spicy that stays on your lips for long after you’re done eating. You can eat this sauce with just about anything so go ahead and cook up extra and toss it with your eggs, serve it with some chips or even a steak if you desire.

Sriracha Chicken Wings
(Slightly Adapted from White on Rice Couple)

Makes 2-3 generous servings

2 pounds chicken wings
Salt and pepper
4 teaspoons vegetable oil, divided
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup diced onion
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup Sriracha hot sauce
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray lightly with canola spray.

In a large bowl, toss the wings with 2 teaspoons of oil and a large pinch of salt and a large pinch of pepper. Spread chicken wings out onto the baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, then flip chicken wings over and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until fully cooked and crispy brown.

In sauce pan, heat 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil over medium heat and add onion. Cook until the onions are browned, but not golden, then add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add ketchup, sriracha hot sauce, vinegar, fish sauce and cumin.

Stir well and let simmer for about 3 minutes. Taste and season with salt as needed. Remove from heat and set aside. After chicken wings have finished baking, toss wings in sauce. Serve warm.

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Monday, January 4, 2010

Healthy Recipe Ideas

So when you see my next few recipe posts, you will probably understand why I wanted to post some healthy recipes for the start of the new year. Actually, I have another reason. I am participating in Lori's 10 in 10 challenge for the new year. I normally don't do big resolutions for the new year, but this challenge inspired me and is helping me keep in line with some of my 101 goals as well. I am hoping to come up with some healthy recipes, exercise even more than I have been lately, and generally have a healthy approach to this new decade. I know some people out in the world are just getting started with these goals so I wanted to post some of my favorite recipes to help you out!!

For me, the key ingredient in a healthy dish is that it has to be hearty. If the dish makes me feel full, I won't crave the bad stuff later in the day. Here are a few that are healthy and won't have you craving the unhealthy things after you eat them:

Italian wedding soup: I could hardly believe that this Ina Garten recipe was not only healthy, but so fulfilling. Subbing chicken and turkey in for the meatballs and baking them lightens them up, but it sure doesn't make them skimp on flavor. For an even better twist, use a bit less pasta and make the pasta you use, whole wheat and load up on those vegetables that are called for in the recipe. You'll be full in no time.

Italian Wedding Soup

Boiled lemon was something new for me when trying this salad, but it was so worth it for this Saffron Chicken with Boiled Lemon and Green Beans.

Saffron Chicken, Boiled Lemon and Green Bean Salad

I'm not a vegetarian, but for two years I only ate vegetables and fish and I still enjoy many vegetarian and vegan meals. Here are some favorites:

Carrot, Fennel and Orange Soup is great, plus it uses local favorites for the winter. If you're in a climate like southern California where it's currently warm and sunny, it's very refreshing and won't make you feel like you need to run twenty laps after you consume it.

Carrot Fennel and Orange Soup

I love combining vegetables with fruits and making them into a salad and serving with some healthy grains. This cherry and asparagus salad is a perfect spring time treat:

Wheatberry Salad with Cherries and Roasted Asparagus

Sometimes I just go to the farmers market and pick up whatever inspires me. I loved making this Greek-inspired salad with spelt berries. So summery and fresh.

Greek-ish Salad with Spelt Berries

Much of my cooking is definitely inspired by the seasons. For those living in the colder climates where fresh vegetables are sparse, winter squash should be readily available and stuffing it with sausage makes a warm and satisfying meal.

From Dishing Up Delights

My first meatball making experience was filling and so amazing. I am kind of craving this again, like right now.

From Dishing Up Delights

Root vegetables are so in season right now! If you're not tired of them, try them in a simple and amazing quinoa salad.

From Dishing Up Delights

Just because you're eating healthy does not mean you have to skimp on desserts. Check out these gorgeous figs with ricotta. Or how about some homemade yogurt sorbet to rival Pinkberry? Treats like these won't have you reaching for a Snickers bar if you have a sweet tooth.

From Dishing Up Delights

From Dishing Up Delights

With these recipes, eating healthy is definitely easy. I hope everyone's new year is off to a wonderful start!

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Saturday, January 2, 2010

Daring Bakers: Gingerbread House

The December 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to you by Anna of Very Small Anna and Y of Lemonpi. They chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ everywhere to bake and assemble a gingerbread house from scratch. They chose recipes from Good Housekeeping and from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book as the challenge recipes.

Daring Bakers: Gingerbread House

I hope everyone is well and you're all recovered from your New Year's Eve celebrations. Mine was a fantastic low-key evening which is exactly what I wanted. As usual, I am late with my DB challenge. Even though I have been off work and had plenty of time the last two weeks, my fridge debacle kept me from getting a lot of cooking done. However, it's a new year folks. I have a new fridge and I am about to start a new decade of my life. Perhaps from now on I will even be on time with my Daring Bakers challenges...don't hold your breath.

I decided to go with Anna's recipe for the gingerbread because I was short on time and it was pretty straightforward. I decided to do a quarter of the recipe and I found the "blueprint" for my house over at Delectible Deliciousness.

The gingerbread was really easy to make. If you want the recipe, you can find it here on Anna's site. It got a little sticky because I chose to roll and cut out the shapes on a floured mat before transferring them to the baking sheet. The royal icing was pretty easy to make as well. The only change I made was to flavor it with vanilla extract instead of almond. In case you hadn't heard from the other bakers, that royal icing is like caulk. I was prepared to take it in my bathroom and fix some things in the tub. Mine was way too thick to pipe so I ended up rolling it and using it to piece the house together along with a bit of the simple syrup.

Assembling the house was a huge pain in the ass. I'm not going to lie, but after a few attempts I finally pieced together was you see above. I didn't do much in terms of decoration, but hey, at least I got it done. The other Daring Bakers were way more creative about this than I was. Check out their creations on the blogroll.

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