Category Archives: Food

Balsamic Brussels Sprouts

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Are you still looking for a side to go with Christmas dinner? How about these balsamic brussels spouts? They are so delicious! And seriously, doesn’t it seem like brussels sprouts are “so HOT right now”?? They seem to be popping up everywhere on menus. This is a very simply, but very flavorful recipe that my mom’s friend Jan shared with her.

First clean the brussels sprouts and cut off the little brown stems off the bottom of each one. I also like to slice each brussels spout in half so that the inside caramelizes in the pan a little more. (When trying to decide how many to make, I eyeballed it by grabbing a big handful for each guest.)

Saute in a pan with olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Balsamic Brussels Sprouts

As they cook, they will start to brown in the pan, so continue to stir until they soften and have a nice caramelized color. Once they are done cooking, stir in either pea tendrils or arugula (optional).

Balsamic Brussels SproutsWhile you are cooking the brussels sprouts, in a separate pan mix together 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar, 2 Tablespoons maple syrup, and 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard. Heat this mixture over medium high heat and make sure to continue to whisk repeatedly until it thickens. Once it thickens, you can pour it over the already cooked brussels sprouts.

Balsamic Brussels SproutsStir in a handful of toasted pine nuts and shave some cheese over the top. I used my favorite cheese, Manchego, but you could also use Parmesan.

Balsamic Brussels SproutsEnjoy!!

Butternut Squash and Farro Salad

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Hey everyone – Hope you all had wonderful Thanksgivings!! I’ve been in Wisconsin for over a week now and loving every minute of it!! I made this for dinner a few weeks ago and absolutely fell in love. So, I decided to make it for our Thanksgiving dinner with our family friends and everyone raved about it. Bottom line – you have to try this recipe!!Butternut Squash and Farro SaladFirst off, are you wondering what farro is? It is a grain similar to barley that has a slight nutty flavor and is a bit crunchy in texture. It’s full of fiber and protein, so will keep you full for a long time! I have seen it in the bulk bins at different grocery stores, but you could also order it online. Here is the package I bought at Whole Foods:

Butternut Squash Salad with Farro and Pepitas

Preparing the butternut squash for roasting isn’t the easiest, so here’s how I did it. First, cut off both ends of the squash. Next, using a vegetable peeler, peel off the skin until you get to the orange meat on the inside. Then, cut the squash in half the long way and scoop out the seeds. Finally, dice into cubes.

Butternut Squash Salad with Farro and Pepitas

I could eat this all fall and winter long!Butternut Squash and Farro Salad Butternut Salad with Farro, Pepitas and Feta

Serves 4 to 6, generously, as a main dish

1 medium butternut squash (about 2 pounds)
5 to 6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup farro
1/3 cup toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
3 ounces feta (or another salty cheese) crumbled or chopped (about 3/4 cup)
1 tablespoon sherry or red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon water
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Peel squash, then halve lengthwise and scoop out seeds. Cut squash into approximately 3/4-inch chunks. Coat one large or two small baking sheets with 2 tablespoons oil total. Spread squash out in single layer on sheet. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Roast until pieces are tender, about 30 to 40 minutes, turning them over halfway through the cooking time. Set aside to cool slightly.

While squash is roasting, cook farro in a large pot of simmering salted water until the grains are tender but chewy, about 30 minutes. (Since there are so many varieties of farro, however, if your package suggests otherwise, it’s best to defer to its cooking suggestion. My farro called for soaking overnight, but I didn’t do that and it turned out fine.) Drain and cool slightly.

While squash is roasting and farro is simmering, in a small bowl, whisk together sherry vinegar, water, 1/2 teaspoon table salt and granulated sugar until sugar and salt dissolve. Stir in onion; it will barely be covered by vinegar mixture but don’t worry. Cover and set in fridge until needed; 30 minutes is ideal but less time will still make a lovely, lightly pickled onion.

In a large bowl, mix together butternut squash, farro, red onion and its vinegar brine, the crumbled cheese and pepitas. Toss with 3 tablespoons of the remaining olive oil, use the 4th one only if needed. Taste and adjust seasonings. Eat now or later. Salad keeps in the fridge for up to a week.

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen here.

Foil-Baked Tilapia with Vegetables

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I’ve got another quick weeknight dinner option for you! This is what I ate for dinner every single night this past week…and loved it: tilapia and fall vegetables steamed in a perfect little foil package. You guys, this is probably the easiest dinner I’ve made this year and SO healthy! With the food-heavy holidays right on the horizon, give this recipe a try!

The recipe can be adapted to whatever vegetables you like or are in season at the moment. And this is why it’s so easy: On Sunday, chop up the vegetables you are going to use for the week. Then, each night create a foil packet of fish and vegetables, drizzle with a few seasonings, wrap it up and bake! A fresh meal each night!

I tried a little bit of a different combination with each dinner. I mainly used red pepper, squash, carrots, snap peas, and green onions. I happened to have fresh parsley on hand, so I chopped some of that up too.

Foil-Baked Tilapia with Vegetables

The second night, I added capers and sun dried tomatoes, which was delicious! I also threw in some broccoli and onion.

Foil-Baked Tilapia with Vegetables

When you pull it out of the oven, you can put it right on a plate and eat straight from the foil.

Foil-Baked Tilapia with Vegetables

I used Jenna’s recipe over at Eat Live Run as a guideline but improvised with my own ingredients. So feel free to check out her version, as well as mine, and add whatever veggies you want!

Foil-Baked Tilapia with Vegetables

Ingredients:

  • tilapia fillets (or other white, mild-flavored fish, fresh or frozen)
  • 1 red pepper, sliced into thin strips
  • 1 small squash
  • carrots
  • snap peas
  • green onions, sliced thin
  • garlic cloves, sliced thin (no need to mince since they will roast in the oven)
  • fresh herbs such as basil or parsley
  • lemon, juiced
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Other optional additions: capers, sun dried tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, zucchini, yellow onion, use your imagination…or whatever is in your fridge!

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.

In a bowl, combine the sliced vegetables, garlic, and herbs. Drizzle olive oil and lemon juice over the veggies and sprinkle with salt. Toss well.

Tear a square of tin foil about 12 x 24″. Fold it in half and place one fish fillet in the center. Add your vegetables on top of the fish, then drizzle with balsamic vinegar and add your desired amount salt and pepper. Wrap up the foil around the fish and fold in all sides tightly so that no steam escapes and you have a nice little package.

Place in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until the fish has baked through and flakes easily. (I used frozen filets and found it took closer to 30 minutes.) You can always check the fish by unwrapping the bundle and sticking a fork into the fish.

When it’s ready, pull out the foil package, unwrap on your plate, and dig in!

 

Chicken with Tabbouleh

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Are you searching for a great meal to make once and have dinner or pack-able lunches for the week? This is what I made yesterday and am looking forward to eating all week! It’s Barefoot Contessa’s Chicken with Tabbouleh.

Chicken with Tabbouleh

The ingredients are so fresh and it’s satisfyingly healthy.

Chicken with Tabbouleh

If you can make this ahead, it tastes much better once the flavors have marinated together a bit. I made my chicken and bulgur the night before and then assembled everything the next morning. Also, pay attention to the type of bulgur wheat you are using. I bought quick cooking bulgur wheat, so had to adjust the ratio of water/lemon/olive oil that the bulgur soaks in according to the directions on the package.

Chicken with Tabbouleh

I served mine with some crumbled feta on top – it was the perfect finishing touch!

Chicken with Tabbouleh

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups boiling water
  • 1 cup bulgur wheat
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (1-2 lemons)
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 whole (2 split) chicken breast, bone in, skin on (I just bought boneless chicken breasts)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup minced scallions, white and green parts (1 bunch)
  • 1 cup chopped fresh mint leaves (I don’t like mint, unless it’s in a mojito!!, so I was tempted to leave it out, but it ended up not being too overpowering. If you don’t like mint, you could sub it for something else, like basil.)
  • 1 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (1 bunch)
  • 1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, and medium-diced
  • 2 cups halved cherry tomatoes (I used roma tomatoes, which worked just as well.)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a heat-proof bowl, pour the boiling water over the bulgur wheat. Add the lemon juice, 1/4 cup olive oil, and 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt. Stir. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow the bulgur to stand at room temperature for about 1 hour.

Place the chicken breast on a baking sheet and rub it with olive oil. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until just cooked. Set aside until cool enough to handle.

Remove the chicken meat from the bones and discard the skin. Cut the chicken into medium dice and add to the tabbouleh. Add the scallions, mint, parsley, cucumber, tomatoes, 2 teaspoons salt*, and 1 teaspoon pepper. (*Note: Ina calls for 2 teaspoons salt, but I thought this was too much. Start with 1 and add more later if necessary.) Season, to taste, and serve immediately or cover and refrigerate. The flavors will improve as it sits.

Here is the link to the recipe on food network: Chicken with Tabbouleh or you can find her Tabbouleh recipe in her cookbook “Parties”.

Enjoy!

Eggs and Waffles

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Good Morning everyone! Today I want to share with you one of my favorite weekend breakfasts. It tastes so indulgent because of the great sweet and salty combo! But, it’s very easy, reasonably healthy, and requires just a few ingredients!

First, toast 2 waffles – I love Kashi blueberry waffles.

Eggs and WafflesNext, while the waffles are toasting, fry two eggs in a pan coated in non-stick cooking spray. Once the eggs are done, put one on top of each waffle and drizzle with syrup. It’s so simple, it almost seems silly to share! But, it’s not something you’ve probably thought of trying. I hope you will give this combination a shot – my mouth is watering just thinking about it!!

Eggs and Waffles

Burrito Bowls

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If you get excited about Chipotle burrito bowls like I do, then this recipe is for you! Burrito bowls are one of my favorite meals to make ahead on a Sunday, and then eat for dinner the rest of the week. It’s very quick to assemble a bowl on a weeknight after work. You can heat it up if you like or I find it deliciously refreshing chilled straight from the fridge. My friend, Kiki, was visiting me this past weekend, so we made these for dinner Saturday night and then had a great lunch to whip together on Sunday when we came up for a break from the beach!

I like to use Jenny-O taco seasoned ground turkey. It’s got great flavor and all you have to do is brown it in the pan. Whenever it’s on sale at the grocery store, I always buy some to stick in my freezer.

Burrito Bowls with Jennie-O turkey

Then, chop up all of the vegetables and drain the beans and corn. I immediately put the ingredients in tupperware so it’s easy to store in the fridge. Here are all of the things that I like to add to my burrito bowl:

Burrito Bowls

Burrito Bowl

This is a rough estimate of measurements for an individual bowl. When I go to the store, I always end up buying a couple tomatoes, a bunch of green onions, cilantro, a couple avocados…and then just chop it all up. Each night, the mix changes a little bit:

  • ½ cup ground turkey (I use Jennie-O taco seasoned)
  • ¼ cup tomatoes
  • ¼ cup canned corn
  • ¼ cup black beans
  • ¼ avocado
  • Green onions – as much as you like
  • Cilantro – as much as you like

For the “sauce”

  • Greek yogurt – 1-2 spoonfuls (or you can use sour cream, but it’s a great guilt-free substitute!)
  • Salsa – 2-4 spoonfuls
  • Chili powder and cumin – a couple shakes of each for some heat and flavor
  • Lime juice – 1 slice to squeeze over the top

Other possible add-ins

  • Shredded cheese
  • Rice – could be great if you want to make for a lot of people and bulk up the dish

Burrito BowlsYUM!!!

Mocha Chocolate Icebox Cake

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Hello again, everyone! I’ve been holding out on you over the past few weeks while I took a trip up to Oakland. I went up there to visit Andrew, the Nestle ice cream headquarters, and a visit to both Sonoma and Napa. It just so happened that two of my good friends from home were vacationing in Sonoma and I got to meet up with them!!

Sonoma VisitSonoma Visit

But now, for the recipe I’ve been waiting to share with you…Ina Garten’s Mocha Chocolate Icebox Cake. Seriously, the best dessert I’ve made in a LONG time. You can’t go wrong with a Barefoot Contessa recipe, but this one tops the charts!! I have been dreaming about this cake ever since I made it! It’s the kind that you first have a piece (or two) with dinner, and then cut a sliver with breakfast the next morning to make sure that is was really that amazing, and then might as well have another little piece with lunch to remember how good it is, and then obviously after dinner it’s time for more dessert…I AM NOT KIDDING!

Mocha Chocolate Icebox Cake

The cake is made up of layers of thin crispy cookies and rich, creamy, fluffy mocha. The combination of textures and flavors is unreal. My girlfriends and I LOVE this cake. And aside from the cookies, it’s a no bake cake! (You could even buy the cookies from the bakery or order them online like Ina from Tate’s Bake Shop.) I used a tub of  refrigerated cookie dough.

Mocha Chocolate Icebox Cake

It looks pretty to garnish with a little chocolate on top:

Mocha Chocolate Icebox Cake

Mocha Chocolate Icebox Cake

Ingredients

  • 2 cups cold heavy cream
  • 12 ounces Italian mascarpone cheese
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup coffee liqueur, such as Kahlua
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, such as Pernigotti
  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 (8-ounce) packages chocolate chip cookies, such as Tate’s Bake Shop
  • Shaved semisweet chocolate, for garnish

Directions

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the heavy cream, mascarpone, sugar, coffee liqueur, cocoa powder, espresso powder, and vanilla. Mix on low speed to combine and then slowly raise the speed, until it forms firm peaks.

To assemble the cake, arrange chocolate chip cookies flat in an 8-inch springform pan, covering the bottom as much as possible. (I break some cookies to fill in the spaces.) Spread a fifth of the mocha whipped cream evenly over the cookies. Place another layer of cookies on top, lying flat and touching, followed by another fifth of the cream. Continue layering cookies and cream until there are 5 layers of each, ending with a layer of cream. Smooth the top, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.

Run a small sharp knife around the outside of the cake and remove the sides of the pan. Sprinkle the top with the chocolate, cut in wedges, and serve cold.

Source: Barefoot Contessa “How Easy Is That?”

Quinoa Salad with Mango and Chicken

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Are you looking for a healthy meal to recover from a weekend of over-indulgence?? That is exactly what I was looking for and this salad does just the trick. (I will share my weekend indulgence recipe soon, because it was AMAZING.) But first, this salad is perfect for making on a Sunday and having ready for dinner during the week. I had been looking for a recipe to try to learn to like kale, since it seems to be the “super-food” that cures everything these days. This salad is the perfect segway dish, with every bite, I cannot believe how delicious and refreshing it is! I really like buying the kale at Trader Joe’s in a bag that comes with it already chopped up:

Quinoa Salad with Mango and Chicken

My friend Denise taught me a great trick: Massage the kale in your hands, just give it a few squeezes like a stress ball, to reduce the toughness.

Quinoa Salad with Mango and Chicken

The first time I made this salad, I used mango. This time, the mangos weren’t ripe, so I tried it with nectarines, which was equally great. I would definitely use them again.

Quinoa Salad with Mango and Chicken

Adapted from Kate at ThreeApplesADay
Ingredients
¾ cup quinoa

1 cup chicken or vegetable broth

½ cup water

4 chicken breasts
(grilled or pre-cooked, sliced or cubed)
1 mango
(or nectarine/another fruit you like)
1 red bell pepper

¼ cup chopped green onion

2-3 handfuls kale leaves, chopped

¼ – ½ cup cilantro, to taste, chopped

¼ – ½ cup mint, to taste, chopped
(I left this out because I don’t like mint)
3 T lemon juice

Lemon zest

3 T olive oil

1 ½ T red wine vinegar

Salt and pepper to taste

1. Fill a saucepan with water and chicken or vegetable broth and quinoa. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to medium low. Simmer for 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Fluff with a fork and cool in refrigerator (best to make ahead of time if possible, so it’s chilled when ready to eat).

2. Dice mango and red bell pepper. Massage and chop kale, and chop scallions, cilantro, and mint.

3. Whisk together lemon juice, lemon zest, olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt, and pepper.

4. Toss the quinoa with the dressing, add all of the other diced/chopped ingredients, and  top with chicken.

5. Garnish with cilantro, mint, and lemon zest and season with salt and pepper.

Strawberry Bruschetta

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Before summer’s over and the berries are no longer ripe, you should try out this fun fruity take on bruschetta! Everyone I’ve made it for is always delightfully surprised at the variation from the normal diced tomato topping. It’s a perfect summer appetizer.

Strawberry Bruschetta

Strawberry Bruschetta

1 French or whole wheat baguette, lightly toasted
4oz goat cheese (or another similar spreadable cheese that you like)
1 cup diced strawberries
extra-virgin olive oil
balsamic vinegar
roughly 1/4 cup sliced basil leaves
freshly ground black pepper
 
While the oven is heating up, dice the strawberries into small pieces and let them sit in a bowl until ready to use so that the juices can macerate. Lightly toast the baguette slices in the oven. Then, spread goat cheese on each slice of bread and top with a spoonful of strawberries. Drizzle olive oil and balsamic vinegar over the top of all of them. Then sprinkle with thinly sliced basil leaves and cracked ground pepper.
 

Recipe adapted from Annie’s Eats

Creamy Feta Dip

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A few nights ago after work I met some of my girlfriends for a hike and picnic at Griffith Observatory. Griffith Park is a great place to go when you are visiting LA, or even if you already live here! There is a couple mile hike that starts up behind the Observatory and loops around to give you great views of the city and gets you very close to the Hollywood sign. The Observatory itself is cool too – they have two huge telescopes that you can use to view the stars. I even got to see Saturn when I was there last time.

Griffith Observatory Hike

After all that exercise, we dug into this Creamy Feta Dip I made. It was SO GOOD. It was SO creamy and just a perfect bite of feta heaven. Also, very simple to make! First, you have to roast jalapenos and garlic, which made our apartment smell delicious.

Creamy Feta Dip

I made half the recipe for 6 people and it was plenty. If you want leftovers or are bringing this dip to a party, definitely make the full recipe. I didn’t really know how to take a good picture of creamy dip, so you’ll have to trust me on how awesome this is!

Creamy Feta Dip

Recipe from How Sweet It Is

Creamy Feta Dip with Jalapenos 

makes about 2 cups [a little goes a long way!]

2 bricks of feta cheese, 8 ounces each

3 whole jalapeno peppers

1/4 cup olive oil + 1 tablespoon

1 bulb garlic

the juice of half a lemon

the zest of half a lemon

salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Chop the top off the garlic bulb and drizzle it with a teaspoon of olive oil. Wrap it in foil and roast for 25-30 minutes, or until garlic is golden in color. At the same time, brush the jalapenos with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Either grill or roast them – I stuck them in the oven with garlic and just watched until they were charred. Remove both from oven and let cool. Once jalapenos are cooled, remove skins, cut in half and discard the seeds. Chop into small pieces. Don’t touch your eyes!

In a large bowl, crumble the feta bricks. [Crumbling the bricks yourself works best, but if you can only find crumbled feta that is fine.] Add chopped jalapenos, the zest of half a lemon, and the juice of half a lemon. Squeeze the roasted garlic out of the bulb directly into the feta. Add 1/4 cup of olive oil and mash with a fork. You want the feta to be a bit “wet” – I can best describe it as a cross between a spread and a dip. There is no right or wrong – make it however you’d like. Taste the feta and season with salt and pepper. Serve with pita chips, warm pita or naan, or spread it on sandwiches. Store it in the fridge for up to one week – I find that I like it best at room temperature, so allow it to sit out for about 30 minutes before serving. We also think it would be great with some kalamata olives.