Thursday, August 2, 2012

Baby Kale Salad with Roasted Garlic Dijon Dressing

A while ago I posted a recipe for raw kale salad with a balsamic vinaigrette. I make kale a lot, but I find that especially the curly kale (which is what I used for the salad in that post) can be tough and a little chewy to eat raw. It's best served sauteed or baked. However, tuscan/lacinto/dinosaur kale, which is much softer, is way better for the purpose of eating it kale. The nutrients are unlike any other green, & I personally love the taste. So my newest discovery, baby kale, made me obviously verrrry happy. My mom & I split a Costco bag of Earthbound Farm Mixed Baby Kale which is a combo of different kinds of baby kales. Obviously I can't buy this huge bag everyday, so I was pleased to find a new product at Trader Joe's this week- 8 oz. package of organic mixed baby kale, baby spinach, & baby arugula. (Needless to say, baby kale is much easier to clean than it's curlier, more grown counterpart). I find the best way to utilize this product is to make a salad with it, because it'll wither and wilt away in 2 seconds if it's sauteed. So I came up with this salad using the mixed baby kale. The additions to the salad are the same as my last post, but the dressing can't be beat. The dressing and idea of the salad can obviously be used on any lettuce or green.

-Mixed Baby Kale
-1/2 diced mango
-1/4 cup pecans (toasted, optional)

-4 cloves roasted garlic (I happened to have had already roasted garlic, but the alternative is easy- just saute finely minced garlic in a little olive oil until golden brown. Add the garlic to oil while the pan is still cold & saute over medium high heat with a little sprinkle of salt- adding the garlic to a hot pan will make it more likely that the garlic will burn quicker.)
-2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
-1/4-1/2 cup olive oil (depends how strong you like the dressing)
-1/2 tsp. sugar
-salt and pepper

-In the bottom of a large salad bowl, add the dijon, garlic, salt, pepper, sugar, and whisk well. Stream in the olive oil while whisking to make an emulsion. Season to taste.
-Put the washed kale straight into the dressing, and toss well. Add the mango and pecans.

Skip the romaine or iceberg & try something different for your salad!


Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Killer Granola

"They" say that Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. I am not one to talk, as it is rare that I have a balanced breakfast (or Rosie usually ends up eating whatever I prepare for myself), or I get in a quick breakfast while she is eating her own. I love granola and have always been meaning to make my own and finally did. I usually buy the brand Bare Naked granola, but at $4-$5 a bag it can get a bit pricy. Not only did it make my apartment smell amazing, but now I have a quick breakfast for yogurt in the morning and don't really have to worry about it! This recipe hails from Giada at, adapted by yours truly. She uses unsweetened cranberry juice but I substituted that for a water/OJ mixture. She also used a different nut mixture/ratio. The recipe is so simple overall, and I highly recommend it. Plus it stores great. Any of the nuts I used can be replaced for whatever you like/have at hand. The craisins can also be replaced with raisins if that's what you prefer. To make it extra sweet, add some chocolate chips once cooled completely:

-1/3 cup pure maple syrup
-2/3 cup light brown sugar, loosely packed
-1/4 cup water
-1/4 cup orange juice
-1 tsp. cinnamon
-1/4 tsp. salt
-2 cups old fashion oats
1/2 cup slivered almonds
-1/4 cup unsalted almonds, roughly chopped
-1/8 cup chopped pecans
-1/8 cup pumpkin seeds
-1/4 cup flax meal (or wheat germ)
-1 cup craisins (can use raisins too)

-Preheat oven to 325 degrees
-In a small saucepan, add the maple syrup, cinnamon, brown sugar, water, orange juice, and salt over medium-high heat and stir or whisk until the sugar is dissolved.
-In a large bowl add the oats, all the nuts/seeds, and flax. Mix until incorporated.
-Pour the maple mixture into the pat mixture and stir with a rubber spatula to combine.
-Pour onto a greased, rimmed baking sheet and spread into a single layer. Bake for 20 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through.
-Remove from the oven, add the craisins, toss, and spread out again.
-Bake for another 10-12 minutes until golden brown and "dried" out (in other words, it should no longer be mushy or soggy from the wet mixture).
-Let cool COMPLETELY before storing in an airtight container, breaking it up if you need to.

It's great for breakfast like I said- yogurt or even just with milk and fresh berries. I personally love it with froyo. Try it! It won't disappoint!

Makes about 5 cups granola


Thursday, July 26, 2012

Phyllo Wrapped Maple Dijon Salmon with Dill Sauce

Salmon is definitely one of our favorite go-to dinners, & one of my very first blog posts was puff pastry wrapped salmon, baked, topped with cucumber dill mayo. Since then I've posted many salmon ideas. I loved the idea of the puff pastry wrapped salmon, and it was indeed delicious, but I decided to experiment with phyllo dough this time. The pro is that it's lighter, & flakier. BUT Phyllo is way too delicate and temperamental to use on a regular basis (on my opinion), but there is a first for everything and I've been meaning to play around with it for a long long time.. and this was very successful if I may say so myself.

Phyllo Wrapped Maple Dijon Salmon with Dill Sauce

-2 wild salmon filets, skin removed with a paring knife (if any)
-1/4+2 tbsp. cup pure maple syrup
-2 tbsp. light & creamy Dijon mustard (if you don't have just use regular Dijon with a little bit of mayo)
-1 tsp. dried minced garlic

-Season the salmon filets with salt & pepper lightly on both sides, and place in a dish. Whisk together the marinade ingredients and pour over the salmon. Turn the salmon to coat with the marinade on both side. Let marinate for a few hours in the fridge.
-I used 4 sheets of phyllo dough, 2 per salmon filet. If you unwrap the phyllo more than a few hours before using, cover completely with damp paper towel and refrigerate.
-Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, and spray a baking rack & set atop a baking sheet
-Gently take the 2 sheets of phyllo, and place the salmon filet in the center. Wrap up the long sides, and then wrap the short sides under the filet and place on the baking rack. Do the same to the other filet(s). Brush the "packages" with melted butter/Earth Balance/margarine, and sprinkle with salt & black pepper.
-Bake for 20-25 minutes until the salmon is cooked through (slide a knife through the center and it should go through smoothly) and phyllo is golden brown
-Serve with dill sauce

Dill Sauce:
-1/2 cup mayonnaise
-2 tbsp. finely chopped dill
-1 small garlic clove, grated or minced very finely
-salt & pepper
-pinch of sugar
-1 tsp. lemon juice or red wine vinegar
-small splash of water, just to thin the dressing a tiny bit, DON'T add too much
-Whisk together or add everything in a mini food processor
-Cover & refrigerate until serving


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Chinese Chicken Peanut Stir Fry with Gingered Cabbage & Farro

My repertoire of Chinese-style recipes is about to explode. So it's high time That I unwind them here. It's definitely my favorite style of food (to eat & to cook), dating back to my first dinner out to Chosen in '94 when I turned 6! Anyway, whether it be beef or chicken or tofu, making Chinese food from scratch can't compare to the take out boxes (as in, it's better!). Let's get right to it. Farro in a chinese chicken stir fry? If you've never had farro go buy (brand: Roland, look for unpearled or semipearled). It's an awesome whole grain, the likes of wheatberries, and cooks like pasta. Its Italian but I use it a lot to substitute for brown rice when I need a switch-up.

-1/2 cup farro (for 2 people) cooked in a pot of boiling salted water for about 20 minutes until tender/al dente and then drained.

-2 chicken breasts, cubed
-2 tbsp. white whole wheat flour
-1 tbsp. sesame seeds
-1 tsp. roughly chopped parsley
-sprinkle of garlic powder, salt & pepper

--In a large Ziploc bag, mix together the flour, spices, parsley, and sesame
--Add the chicken and shake to coat. Set aside

Prepare the sauce:
--In a small bowl whisk together:
-2 heaping teaspoons brown sugar
-1/3 cup water
-1 teaspoon each rice vinegar and Tamari sauce (I cant live without San-J low sodium tamari sauce. It's my go to soy sauce)
-2 teaspoons cornstarch dissolved in about 3-4 tsp. of the mixture in a separate bowl and then add back to the sauce. Whisk together.

Prepare the vegis & the garnishes:
-3 cups shredded cabbage, washed and dried (napa, savoy, bagged, whatever)- it wilts down
-3 scallions, sliced
-1 tbsp. each of minced fresh ginger & garlic. Set aside

-Chop 2 tbsp. dry roasted peanuts & some mango
-Orange zest (for finishing the chicken)

-In a large sauté pan heat a tbsp. of canola oil & a tsp. sesame oil over medium-high heat. Add the cubes of chicken in a single layer, let them sauté for a few minutes until browned before flipping them to cook on the other side. Don't move them or else they won't develop a good "crust". Add more oil as needed if the chicken is too dry. Transfer to a plate when the chicken is done but don't turn the fire off

-Immediately add the ginger, garlic and scallions to the pan and stir, letting sauté 30 seconds to a minute before adding the cabbage. Stir well, adding a pinch of salt, and sauté until its wilted and tender, about 3-4 minutes. When it's done, transfer to a bowl (I had the farro prepared in 2 bowls already, so I just added the cabbage right on top)

-Add the chicken back into the pan, an pour the sauce over it, swirl the chicken to coat, until the sauce thickens. Zest some orange zest right into the chicken, then add the 2 tbsp. chopped roasted peanuts & stir. Add on top of the farro and cabbage (I like all my chinese food together in one bowl). Alternatively you can add the chicken into the cabbage while it's wilting, adding the sauce into the cabbage/chicken mixture to make one homogenous combo. Whichever way you'd rather (I prefer the sauce just on the chicken)

Top with chopped mango (if you'd like) & serve!

If you have never thought outside of the box as far as your chicken goes, now is your chance! This was delicious if I may say so myself!!!! & easier than it seems. The key is to get all your parts & accompaniments as prepared as you can before starting to cook.


Monday, July 9, 2012

Caramelized Onion Tart

I love me some Puff Pastry ... it's very easy to use and totally convenient because God only knows I'd never attempt to make my own! My very first blog post was an homage to puff pastry, and here is another post of a deceptively simple appetizer (or main, whatever). The topping is even so flexible and can be used for all sorts of things. I make caramelized onions a lot, & especially on pizza. I had bought a bag of onions, not realizing that I already had a bag of onions at home. So, I decided to make caramelized onions & then decide afterwards what I'd use them for. I decided on the following options:
1. Caramelized onion pizza - we weren't gonna be home for dinner so that was out
2. Caramelized onion "jam"(just as a topping for bread) - not very practical
3. French onion soup - maybe if it wasn't 98 degrees out
4. Caramelized onion tart! YES!

To make caramelized onions the best, you need about 20 minutes to a half hour, and some patience. I used about 4-5 medium sized onions, sliced thinly in semicircles. Add some olive oil in a large saute pan over medium high heat (use a pan with large surface area so the onions saute the best). Normally when quick sauteeing onions, you'd wait until the oil is heated through before adding the onions, but you don't want to burn these onions, they cook low and slow basically. So add the onions as soon as you add the oil & stir to coat. Season with salt & pepper and saute until softened for a few minutes. Add 2 heaping tablespoons of brown sugar, and 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar and stir. The brown sugar intensifies the sweetness of the onions as they cook. Stir well for a few minutes on high heat and then lower the heat to medium. Let saute for 15 minutes, or until golden brown and very soft, stirring well every few minutes, making sure the onions aren't burning.

Preheat the onion to 425 degrees. In the meantime, unfold a thawed sheet of puff pastry on a floured surface, and roll out all the sides to a large square and place on a baking sheet. Whisk 1 egg and brush on the whole pastry, leaving a 1/2-1" border. Brushing the egg wash all over helps seal the pastry in the oven so that it doesn't get soggy from the topping. Let the onions cool a bit before adding them to the pastry. The onions shrink down from a ton to about a cup or 2! Add all the onions to the pastry, leaving about 1/2"-1" border all around. Fold over all the sides and crimp with a fork, then brush the new exposed borders. Bake for 20 minutes until pastry is golden. Garnish with fresh parsley.

Hope you enjoy your puff as much as I do!


Friday, June 29, 2012

Roasted Cauliflower Mashed "Potatoes"

Cauliflower mashed potatoes? Cliche, you say... The dieters way to feel as though he/she is eating mashed potatoes is to commonly throw cauliflower into the mix. Well I'm not dieting per se but I had a head of cauliflower and 2 red potatoes so I figured I'd do something different besides for what I usually do which is plain old roasted. I was going to make roasted cauliflower soup but let's face it- it's just too hot. I used the 2 potatoes (small ones) just to give the mash a bit of body, and added some chopped herbs in at the end.

Roasted Cauliflower Herbed Mashed Potatoes

-1 head cauliflower (or a bag of frozen), roughly chopped, soaked, & dried
-5 cloves garlic, peeled and left whole
-2 peeled and cubed red potatoes
-salt & pepper
-olive oil
-Chopped herbs of choice (I used fresh parsley & dill)
-1 tsp. Lemon or lime juice

-Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and prepare a baking sheet sprayed with non-stick cooking spray
-arrange the cauliflower, potatoes, and garlic cubes scattered on the baking sheet. Toss liberally with olive oil, salt, and pepper until coated. Roast for about 20-25 minutes
-When everything is cool, add to the food processor and purée. I streamed in a bit of olive oil to make it more smooth. However you can leave it chunky if that's how you prefer it.
-Add the roughly chopped herbs and the teaspoon lemon juice and season with more s&p if needed.

It can be a warm side to any protein, steak chicken or fish, and honestly it can even be served cold as a party dip for vegetables or crackers (if you let it purée enough it takes on the texture of chummus). Garnish with more herbs and enjoy this light mash where really you don't miss the potatoes! Plus it's a great trick for sneaking in some vegis into your kids!

Keep cool & have a wonderful Shabbos!


Friday, May 18, 2012

Two Chicken Recipes

I have been very into "2 of __" lately on my blog posts, so I will just continue that trend for now & offer up 2 chicken recipes! Perfect for Shabbos, or even during the week. One was an accident, through which I came up with a great recipe (if I may say so myself). & the second is from my new "The Whole Foods Cookbook" (unrelated to the store) by Levana Kirschenbaum.

My first recipe is a mixture of all the flavors I love- fresh herbs, garlic, lemon, capers, & tomatoes. I accidentally opened a 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes for baked gefilte fish as I couldn't find marinara sauce. Then, I found the marinara and didn't want to use the canned tomatoes for it! So, here I had chicken on the counter waiting to be dressed up & so here it is:

Lemon Caper Tomato Chicken
-4 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts
-olive oil
-salt & pepper
-1/4 cup white wine
-1 28 oz. can fire roasted (or regular) tomatoes (whole or crushed, not stewed or sauce)
-8 garlic cloves, peeled, left whole
-3 tbsp. capers
-fresh parsley & dill, finely chopped
-1 lemon, halved (1/2 for juice, 1/2 for slices).

-Preheat oven to 375.
-Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and spray with pam
-Season the chicken with olive oil, salt & pepper and add to the pan skin side down when hot.
-In the meantime grease a large baking dish with Pam. Arrange the thin slices of half the lemon in the dish. Cook the chicken just a minute or 2 on that one side and then transfer to the baking dish but don't turn off the fire. Scatter the garlic cloves around.
-Immediately deglaze the pan with the white wine, & stir up all the bits. Bring heat up to high & let reduce a bit. Add juice of half a lemon, continue to stir. Add tomatoes (if they were whole, break them up in the pan), capers, herbs, & salt, pepper. Stir until it comes together into a sauce, and thickens a bit. If you want, you can dissolve a tbsp. of cornstarch in a little water to make a slurry and add that to the sauce. It will thicken it nicely.

-There are 2 options now, you can bake the chicken as is at 375 for 30 minutes (tented loosely with foil) & then add the sauce on top of the chicken and bake uncovered for an additional 30 minutes or so, or add the sauce on immediately, & bake right away for 1 hr, rotating the pan half way through. I want to try it the first way next time, as the chicken shrunk much more than usual, & I think it was because of all the acidic flavors. Regardless, it was very good. The garlic cloves roasted in the oven, & became deliciously soft & spreadable!

Chicken in a Pot (adapted from Whole Foods Cookbook)
I was a bit skeptical about this recipe at first, & I made it today so I still haven't tasted it but my awesome friend Shevy (shout out!) convinced me to do it. I needed something quick, as I had to take out new Shabbos food this morning due to a certain "leaving food out all night" fiasco. It's deceivingly easy, yet smelled so good. It's just chicken, water, some spices & literally whatever vegis you have on hand. I only had onions & celery so that was that but I am told (S!) that potatoes work wonders on the broth. Levana writes options for fennel (the one vegetable I can't wrap my head around), mushrooms, potatoes, carrots, garlic, you name it. I was reassured that it wouldn't be like boiled chicken from chicken soup. The recipe was for 2 whole chicken cut in eighths, but I obviously was only making 1/3 of that for us. I will post the original recipe though.

-2 chickens, cut in eighths
-3 cups water
-2 tsp. turmeric
-(here is my addition: chopped parsley, juice of half a lemon, salt, & pepper)

[for 2 pieces, I did 1 cup water, 1 tsp. turmeric]

-Add everything to pot, cover, bring to a boil, then reduce to medium for 1 hr (since I only had a couple pieces, I lowered it to medium-low because it was still boiling on medium).
-Remove the chicken and as many pieces of the vegis as you can, and boil the broth until it reduces to a nice sauce (you can do the cornstarch method here too. I found since I only used onion and celery, it wasn't thickening quickly, so I did it and I got a silky sauce. It will coagulate in the fridge but will be fine tonight once heated up again). The chicken had that falling off the bone look, & smelled delicious, so based on that I am vouching for it and posting it!

Hope it's good :-)

Good Shabbos!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Kani Salad x2

So.. I loooove kani. Otherwise known as "fake shrimp." Now, I feel like kani is way more popular now than it was yeeeears ago, and I've been eating this stuff from the package since forever. We first discovered it years ago at Brach's appetizing counter, "shrimp salad"- which had the fake shrimp-cubed, celery, peas, and a mayo dressing. Me & my mom used to eat it by the pound. But you can get it in the freezer section, there are a couple of brands but Dyna-Sea is the one I prefer the most. They come in "shrimp" & "lobster"- the lobster has a "fattier" taste if that makes any sense. The shrimp also comes in sticks. These 2 are the types that are primarily used in sushi. Then there's kani in the shape of shrimp. All this stuff is made with actual fish (pollock usually), but it's not raw. I love it sauteed with a tiny bit of Tamari sauce at the very end, but the options are limitless. It's popular in "sushi salad"- which is basically a deconstructed roll of sushi, with vegis, sushi rice, and shredded kani. Or, spicy kani salad at sushi places. Here I used it 2 different ways, one as an homage to the shrimp salad from Brach's, yet wayyy more updated & way less mayonnaise-y. The other one is a lettuce salad with all the components that I love in sushi (crunch by peanuts, mango, cucumber, and avocado) with breaded and lightly fried shrimp pieces.

Everything Sushi Salad
-3 pieces shrimp-shaped kani (really can use any type)
-2 cups shredded Napa cabbage
-Sesame oil
-1 tsp. sesame seeds
-1/4 cup shelled edamame
-1/4 cup frozen thawed peas
-2 small carrots, finely chopped
-1 stalk celery, finely chopped
-3 tbsp. light mayonnaise
-Sesame seeds
-1 tsp. sesame oil
-2 tsp. low-sodium Tamari sauce (preferred brand: San-J)
-1/2 tsp. lime juice
-La Choy chinese noodles, optional

-Add the cabbage to a bowl, drizzle with a little bit of sesame oil & 1 tsp. sesame seeds, & a sprinkle of salt and let sit for a couple minutes while you prepare the rest.
-Cube the shrimp into bite-size pieces and defrost in the microwave for 20 seconds
-Combine shrimp with the peas, edamame, celery, carrot & set aside
-In a small bowl, whisk together the mayo, sesame oil, lime juice (just a small squirt), and soy sauce. Sprinkle in some sesame seeds too.
-Add the shrimp mixture to the cabbage, and then pour the dressing over. With a cabbage-type salad, a little dressing usually goes a long way. If you feel like there's not enough dressing, just add some more mayonnaise, not a big deal.
-Let the flavors meld together in the fridge for a few hours (great prep-ahead salad)
-Serve with La Choy noodles, or any type of chinese noodles on top.

Warm Breaded Kani Salad
-2 kani sticks, defrosted, and cut into 4-5 pieces each
-1-2 tbsp. any kind of Italian dressing (I use pre-made "Good Seasons" balsamic dressing)- this is to coat the kani pieces before breading, so you can use an egg but I find this easier & more flavorful.
-3 tbsp. Panko crumbs
-2 tbsp. cornflake crumbs
-Salt & pepper
-Canola oil
-Cut romaine
-Baby spinach
-1 Persian cucumber
-Chopped mango
-1 small carrot, peeled & diced
-1/4 of an avocado, diced
-Honey roasted peanuts, chopped (optional) [truly any kind of nut would work just fine]

-To 1 bowl add the dressing, and to another add the Panko/cornflake crumbs with a pinch of salt & pepper
-Put all the kani pieces in the dressing, toss so all coated (add more if needed) & then transfer to the crumbs and coat with a spoon
-In a saute pan, heat a thin layer canola oil over medium-high heat.
-When oil is warm, add the kani pieces, one by one.
-Let fry a few minutes per side until golden brown.
-Prepare the salad, using more of the dressing you used for the shrimp as the dressing for the salad. Combine the lettuce/spinach, mango, cucumber, carrot, and avocado
-When the kani is done, transfer to a paper-towel lined plate
-Add warm kani to the salad
-Top with peanuts/nuts

If you never tried fake shrimp, go for it. I can't vouch for it tasting like the real stuff, but I always imagine that it does :-)

Enjoy these options!


Sunday, May 6, 2012

Jicama Salad

This salad's main ingredients is an all-time favorite vegi of mine- jicama. It looks like a huge turnip with a thick, annoying skin, but once peeled and sliced it's great. It sort of tastes like a cross between a mild radish and a cucumber, with the texture of a baby carrot. It makes for the perfect crudite, slaw, or in this case - salad. It's so simple yet so delicious... 4 main ingredients, plus the dressing... Sometimes I add in diced mango. Alternatively it can be shredded to replace cabbage in a version of cole slaw.

Jicama Salad
-2 jicamas, peeled, and cut into uniform spears
-2 (just-ripened) avocados, diced
-Chopped dill
-juice of 2 limes
-salt & pepper
-A small drizzle of olive oil

-Whisk together the lime juice, salt and pepper, dill, and stream in just a tbsp. or so of olive oil. you don't need a lot.. Just to bring this dressing together
-Combine the avocado and jicama and mix. It's okay if the avocado mushes a little into the jicama.
-Pour the dressing over and mix with a wooden spoon. Season more to taste. Ideally, the salad should sit in the dressing for a few hours to allow the flavors to meld together.

It's so simple, foolproof, & fresh, perfect for a quick springtime salad. It can go alongside pretty much anything, from BBQ to pizza.


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Salmon Burgers

Salmon. It's probably THE most cliche fish on the dinner table. I won't get into the ins and outs of wild vs. farm raised salmon, there are many reputable sites that you can look up the pros and cons, but I choose to go wild. It has a bad rap being that it's generally much more expensive than farmed, but in the summer, Costco carries freshly packed (family-sized, obviously) wild salmon (according to the OU, salmon with skin doesn't need a hechsher, as it is discernible that it is in fact salmon and not another [non-Kosher] fish. That's a whole other conversation). ANYWAYS, when Costco has it, I stock up. Trader Joe's also carries frozen Alaskan Sockeye as well as Coho (which is what I prefer) at only 7.99-9.99 a pound (it's about $20 a pound at the local Kosher supermarkets). That is the most convenient because they usually pack them 2 fillets to a pack, or 1 large one, so I don't have to waste or separate once it's defrosted.

Yes, we all make the typical roasted or broiled salmon with some type of dressing up (previous posts: Coconut Crusted Salmon & Mashed Potato Topped Salmon) but this time I made salmon burgers (we called them croquettes growing up- sounds fancy!). My mom made them all the time for dinner because they're easy & delicious, and are also essentially a blank canvas for any flavor profile you want to achieve. You can bake or fry them, I've baked them before but they take much longer in the oven so this time I decided to pan-fry them. You can take the extra step and flake a freshly roasted salmon filet, but the canned salmon is just fine. I used a 14 oz. can of Gefen Wild Salmon from Pesach that wasn't used, and just like tuna, Costco sells a pack of the small wild salmon cans. I was watching Ina Garten make her salmon burgers (she used fresh salmon of course), so I used some of her ideas (adding sauteed vegetables) and doctored up my moms original recipe. So here it is! By the way, this recipe would also work for ground turkey or chicken. My turkey burger recipe is very similar.

Salmon Burgers
-1 14 oz. can of salmon (I ended up with 5 burgers)
-Vegetables for saute (can use anything you want): 1 onion, 2 small carrots, & 1 stalk celery, half a zucchini, all finely chopped
-1/4 cup light mayonnaise
-2 tbsp. dijon
-1 egg
-salt & pepper, garlic powder
-Zest of whole lemon
-Juice of half lemon
-Tbsp each freshly chopped parsley, dill, and basil
-1/2 - 3/4 cup Panko breadcrumbs (unseasoned) or Cornflake crumbs for gluten-free
-1-2 tbsp. chopped capers
-Extra Panko for breading

-In a large saute pan, heat a bit of olive oil over medium-high heat. Saute the onions for a few minutes, and when slightly golden, add the rest of the vegis. Season with salt and pepper. Let saute until browned and softened. Transfer to a bowl to let cool. Add in the chopped capers, and herbs. Mix just to combine.
-Open the canned salmon and drain out the excess liquid. Add to a bowl. Sometimes the spine with little pin-bones are graciously included, so carefully try and remove as much as possible. It isn't dangerous to eat the little bones as they are super fragile, but obviously it's best if you can get them all out.
-Add in the mayo, dijon, the slightly beaten egg, lemon zest/juice and the Panko. You can add more Panko, or another egg if you don't feel like the burgers are tight enough. You don't want them too dry though. Season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
-When the vegetables are semi-cool, add them in and mix everything together with your hands (it's the best way to incorporate everything, I usually use gloves).
-Before forming patties, add some Panko to a plate, and prepare a plastic cutting board to keep the burgers on before frying them. Form even patties (good tip ala Rachael Ray: smooth out the mixture in the bowl and score out even portions with your finger), dredge one (or both) sides in the Panko, and place on the cutting board. You can also choose to make them into mini sliders.
-If you want to bake them, do so on a greased cookie sheet (or a baking rack atop a cookie sheet- my favorite method for all-around even cooking) & bake at 400 degrees for 20-30 minutes. If using Panko for dredging, spray the top with Pam.
-Freeze the burgers on the cookie sheet just for 10 minutes or so until they set (or you can refrigerate, they just need to set up or they'll completely fall apart when you pan fry)
-Heat a thin layer of canola oil in a large saute pan over medium-high, and once hot, add the burgers (Panko side down if only dredging one side). Don't move them, let them saute for a good 5-6 minutes or until golden brown and set, then flip and cook on the other side.

-I served mine on toasted whole wheat sesame buns with homemade tartar sauce (mayo, chopped capers, chopped dill and parsley, lemon zest, lemon juice) with kale chips & yukon gold mashed potatoes (I made this dinner on Thursday night so I made extra mashed potatoes to have for Friday night- double duty!)

 Try something new with salmon, you won't regret it!

P.S. I'm not one to freeze a lot, but these did freeze well (cooked)!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Fish Tacos - again!

It's been about a year since my first venture into fish tacos. I decided though, that it needed some updating, so I did a fish-and-chips type of thing, the "chips" being my previous post, carrot fries. Last time I used tilapia, but this time I used wild cod and I was able to find great thin filets, so I was able to cut it into small pieces, and it cooked in absolutely no time. FYI, I love yellow cornmeal.

Lime & Cornmeal Crusted Cod
-3 filets wild cod, cut into chunks/small pieces
-Zest of a lime
-Juice of a lime
-salt & pepper
-1 beaten egg
-Finely chopped fresh basil, parsley, & dill
-Canola oil, for frying

-Last time I dredged the fish in flour then egg then cornmeal. I left out the flour part for laziness but also to make them feel and taste lighter. Especially since I decided to (lightly) fry them instead of baking.
-Place the pieces of fish on a plate, sprinkle salt pepper, and the zest of half the lime. Sprinkle some of the juice of the lime, but save the bulk of the juice for the salsa
-I let the fish marinate for a few hours with the lime but you don't have to if short on time.
-Beat the egg in a large glass bowl, and pour cornmeal onto a big plate
-To the egg add: 1/4 of the remaining lime zest, salt and pepper
-To the cornmeal add: salt, pepper, garlic powder, and the chopped herbs (whichever you decide to use)
-Add all the fish to the egg and toss with a spoon.
-Heat a thin layer of canola oil in a large saute pan, and begin to dredge the fish pieces in the cornmeal mixture. I like to dredge them all before adding them to the pan because otherwise pieces will be done cooking by the time you add subsequent ones. Add the fish to the pan and it only needs 3-4 or so minutes per side. A little longer if it's thicker.

-Alternatively, you can bake them on a baking rack fitted over a baking sheet on 425 for 10/15 minutes.
-Transfer to a paper towel lined plate, and sprinkle with more lime juice

-Serve with all or some of the following: mango black bean salsa, coleslaw, tartar sauce, shredded lettuce hard or soft wheat or corn tortillas for building your own taco. There are endless options for toppings- salsa, guacamole, etc.

-Serve with a wedge of lime. [See last year's post for mango black bean salsa recipe. This time I took the easy route & only used black beans, avocado, and mango. The dressing is always fresh parsley, lime or lemon juice, salt & pepper. Important to let it sit in the fridge so the flavors meld].

The finished plate :


Carrot Fries

This side I made next to fish tacos (post to follow), I figured I'd make it a separate post since it's essentially THE perfect side to any protein at all. They really come out tasting like fresh fries but they are- CARROTS! I've made roasted carrots many times before, but these are dressed up with cornmeal to give them a more fried feel. I got the idea from one of my favorite restaurants in the village (Kosher Vegan), Sacred Chow. I follow their Facebook page and they constantly have specials. Last week they posted a picture of their cornmeal crusted carrot fries with all these funky spices which I don't have because I simply don't like them (i.e. cumin, cayenne). Anyway, I decided to put my own fresh spin on these carrot fries. I know that they're good because my mom made them the next day and she said Rosie practically ate half! But, she did try to eat chalk today so.. :-)

Cornmeal Coated Carrot "Fries"
-1 lb. bag carrots, peeled, & cut into fries (I cut each carrot in half the short way, and then cut the 2 halves twice in half the long way). They should all pretty much be the same size. Alternatively, you can half baby carrots (shout out to M who did them this way the next day! Total convenience tip..)
-Salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika
-1-2 tbsp. fresh chopped dill
-Olive oil
-1/2 cup cornmeal (can add more if you feel)

-Preheat the oven to 425. Spray a baking rack and place atop a foil-lined baking sheet (easy clean-up)
-You will need 2 large bowls. In the first, add the carrots, drizzle with olive oil, just enough so that they are lightly coated so that everything can stick. Add the spices and dill.
-Pour the cornmeal in another large bowl (I did this in a large saute pan, no heat, because of more surface area to toss), and transfer the carrots to coat.
-In a single layer, spread the carrots on the baking rack (utilizing the baking rack just makes an all around crispy fry, and no need for flipping anything). Spray a LIGHT layer of Pam over the top, and bake for 20-25 minutes.

They are totally foolproof, and much easier than making potato fries. Plus, you can eat a whole plate of these without feeling too guilty about it! Don't they look like sweet potato fries? I've made breaded baked zucchini before (with Panko), but I think I'll try that with cornmeal too for a lighter feel... I'd think these are great tricks for kids who don't like vegis. 

Look for the next post coming soon...

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Quinoa Stuffed Mushrooms

Hope everyone is enjoying Pesach, lets face it- it's all about the food!

I made this last night as a side dish to some (rather delicious) leftovers of duck sauce-glazed corned beef (post for another time!). We had a Costco size box of mushrooms, and I figured why not just do stuffed mushrooms. Stuffed mushrooms are such an easy side dish or even an appetizer as they are perfect one-bite finger foods. Normally I'd use Panko or cornflake crumbs as the binding agent (I know they have Pesach versions, we just didn't have), but being that it is Pesach, and we are Non-Gebrokts, I opted to add in some quinoa, which we had made already as another side, so it was easy too. I'm not quinoa's biggest fan, but when it's there, I'll eat it. I personally prefer white quinoa far more than the red version. I sauteed extra vegetables and added them to the quinoa, seasoned well with salt and pepper, lemon juice, olive oil, and fresh dill- just to put it simply. Now back to the stuffed mushrooms... It ended up being the perfect thing to add in to the stuffing, and I can imagine that some whole wheat couscous would do the job perfectly for a non-Pesach dish if you are looking for something heartier than Panko.

Quinoa Stuffed Mushrooms
-1 onion, finely chopped 
-3 cloves of garlic, minced
-2 carrots, peeled, and finely chopped
-3 stalks of celery, finely chopped 
-2-3 pounds stem-in baby bella mushrooms, wiped clean with a damp paper towel, stems removed (save and wash those)
-1/2 cup cooked white quinoa
-1 tbsp. light mayonnaise (or a beaten egg white)
-Some chopped flat-leaf parsley, chopped
-salt & pepper

-Preheat the oven to 375 and spray a tin cookie sheet with cooking spray.
-Finely chop the mushroom stems. Keep all the chopped vegis separate because you will be sauteeing them in stages. All the vegis should be cut relatively finely, and uniformly, so that there aren't some chunky pieces. Remember, you will be filling small mushroom caps.
-In a saute pan over medium high heat, add the chopped onion with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Let the onions saute a few minutes until slightly browned and translucent.
-Add the carrots and saute another minute, followed by the celery. When all three are sauteeing together for a minute or 2, add in the garlic, and mushroom stems. Saute another few minutes, adding some more oil if necessary. Season again to taste.
-Transfer to a bowl and let cool a few minutes. Add the quinoa, mayo, and parsley and mix until all incorporated.
-Arrange the mushroom caps on the cookie sheet, and place a small amount of the mixture into each mushroom using a small spoon. Fill each one with a little bit, and then after all are filled you can go back and add more. It's okay if they seem "overstuffed"- they will set in the oven.
-Bake for about 15-20 minutes until the mushrooms themselves soften and cook through. 

Thank you, Instagram, for yet another beautiful food picture :-)

Have an enjoyable rest of the week, and a Chag Sameach!


Monday, April 2, 2012

Coconut Citrus Crusted Salmon

Though I'm not posting this recipe specifically for Pesach, it can be made on Pesach! I am posting it because it's on my mind since I made it tonight at my parents, in an effort to use up a bag of unsweetened coconut. Now, I am not the world's biggest coconut fan- well, that's being nice... I HATE coconut. The only time I ate and liked coconut was in Hawaii, fresh coconut flesh it was delicious and did NOT taste like the coconut I am used to (see pics below)

Anyway, my mom had no ideas for her salmon, and I saw the bag of coconut & decided that I could figure something out with this ingredient which I so despise. Don't worry, it was actually very delicious- coconut success! One thing to note, it's very important to use UNSWEETENED coconut, because sweetened should only be used for dessert (I also think sweetened coconut makes the coconut flavor far more potent). This particular one (I can't remember the brand) was very finely shredded, so with the addition of a few ingredients, it assumed the role of a perfect crust for the salmon... You can also combine Panko in with the coconut, but for a lighter dish (& because we didn't have any), I didn't use.

Coconut Citrus Crusted Salmon
-4 filets of wild salmon (or you can obviously do this on one large salmon)
-1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
-pinch of salt & freshly cracked lemon pepper
-Zest of a lemon & an orange
-Juice of a lemon, divided
-Juice of half an orange
-Garlic powder
-Sprinkle of dried dill and dried parsley (or can use fresh)
-Olive oil

-In a large bowl, add the salmon filets and season with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and fresh or dried dill and/or parsley. Pour in half the lemon juice and let the salmon sit for half hour, or while you make the coconut mixture.
-In a bowl, add the coconut, salt, pepper, some garlic powder & paprika, dill, parsley (all these are seasonings so you can add as little or as much as you want, or mix it up depending on your spice preferences)
-Zest half the lemon & orange into the coconut & mix together.
-Pour half the lemon juice and the juice of the orange into the coconut, and mix around with a fork or your fingers. Drizzle in olive oil while mixing in, a little at a time (about 1/4 cup or so) until the mixture resembles sand thats been slightly wet. If it gets too wet, just add some more coconut. You don't want it too dry orelse it will just fall apart on the salmon, but you don't want it to be too gloppy/wet. Find the happy medium by feeling it with your hands.
-Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the salmon filets on a sprayed baking sheet or a sprayed baking rack fitted atop a baking sheet. Carefully spoon the coconut mixture onto the salmon, a tbsp. at a time, pressing it together on top of the salmon.
-Bake for 20-25 minutes until the top is golden & salmon just flakes off.
-Optional glaze to serve alongside: cook down pineapple puree (canned or fresh) in a small saucepan with a bit of balsamic vinegar uncovered on medium-high heat, until it reduces and resembles a glaze. This is a perfect accompaniment to the tropical coconut theme of the salmon, and wont weigh the light dish down.
(This picture is pre-baking, so the crust is obviously not yet golden!)

I recommend this recipe even for coconut skeptics like myself!


Saturday, March 31, 2012

Pesach Cake Delight!!!

Unfortunately I can not take credit for the following cake recipe (nor can I take credit for pretty much any baking I do), it is from Vegetarian Times & it.. is.. heavenly. It was not written as a "Passover" recipe (sadly no mention of Passover in the April issue like many of my other foodie magazines), but it totally should have. Rather, it's a traditional gluten-free (shout out to D my love!) flourless chocolate cake, and the good thing, especially for Pesach is that this cake will not weigh you down like the traditional potato starch cakes/brownies (& I can imagine the matzah meal cakes will do the same!)... Obviously I'm not saying to sit down with a whole cake but hey, whatever.. The coulis (fancy name for sauce) is a perfect complement..

Flourless Chocolate Cake with Strawberry Coulis
-8.5 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped or chips
-3/4 cup margarine (1.5 sticks), or half margarine half unsweetened applesauce
-4 large eggs, separated, and divided
-2 egg whites
-1/2 cup sugar

-Melt chocolate in a glass bowl over a double boiler with the margarine (or melt the chocolate in the microwave on 30 second intervals, stirring in between- this method usually can overmelt the chocolate until it seizes up though so I'd recommend double boiler which is just a small saucepan with a few inches of water simmering, place the glass bowl on top and make sure the water isn't touching the bottom of the bowl. Keep stirring)
-Whisk egg yolks, then stir into the chocolate
-Beat all 6 egg whites with a mixer on high 1-2 min, until foamy. Add sugar, beat 4 minutes, until stiff peaks form. Fold egg white mixture into chocolate mixture until combined. Pour into a greased pan and bake 40 minutes.
-To make the strawberry coulis: combine 1.5 cups sliced fresh strawberries, 1 tbsp. sugar, and 1/2 tbsp. lemon juice in a bowl of food processor. Add 2 tbsp. water and puree until smooth. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve. Drizzle on top of cooled cake.

(yes this is a picture from the magazine)

This cake I'm sure will be a welcome addition to your Pesach or "anytime" recipes!

Have a happy & a healthy Pesach! Eat cake!


Thursday, March 29, 2012

Polenta & Vegetable Cheese Bake

Since the last few polenta recipes (check them out here & here), people have been asking me what polenta is... well here is another recipe utilizing my favorite non-pasta friend.

Here is a short background on WHAT polenta is. Originally Italian, polenta is basically cornmeal, traditionally made into a grits-like dish with water or stock (read: gloppy maize mess). Despite its baby food texture, it does have the versatility and "blank canvas" quality that rice & couscous have. Now for the good part, the polenta gods have brought us the more updated, modern, and more pleasurable version of polenta which is packed into a log/tube form (I get it at Trader Joes for $1.99-bargain! But I've seen it also at Aron's next to the meat). See picture:

I've used it to make mini pizza rounds (note: gluten free!), topping them with a bit of sauce, a spinach leaf, and cheese; they are perfect grilled atop a salad or sauteed with greens and mushrooms (my previous recipes, linked above). I've also grilled polenta rounds and served them aside steak! Totally works...

My recipe today using polenta is an alternative option to a heavy baked ziti. It's packed with sauteed vegetables, marinara sauce, cheese, & of course- polenta. You won't miss the pasta... I can guarantee it.

Polenta & Vegetable Cheese Bake
-1 tube polenta
-1 medium onion, chopped
-1 zucchini, chopped
-1/2-1 cup finely chopped eggplant
-A handful of loosely packed fresh spinach
-Marinara sauce
-Shredded mozzarella cheese
-Chopped parsley
-3 tbsp. Panko breadcrumbs

-Preheat oven to 400 degrees
-Heat some olive oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onion, a pinch of salt & pepper, and let saute a few minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon.
-Add the zucchini & eggplant, and saute for a few minutes more.
-In the meantime, cut the polenta into 12 thin slices. Sometimes I use 2 tubes, but 1 is enough for 2-4 people, it just might not be even layering, but who cares.
-Spray a baking dish with Pam, and spread the bottom with some marinara & then layer the polenta (you don't have to fill the whole thing, just make sure they're spread out)
-Top with some more marinara sauce (I don't use very much as not to drown it in sauce), and then a layer of the fresh spinach, then top with the sauteed vegis (you don't have to cook the spinach first because the hot vegetables + cooking will do the trick)
-Sprinkle just a bit of cheese to hold it together, then layer the rest of the polenta. Top with more shredded cheese (I use Natural & Kosher Mexican or Chefs blend), & then sprinkle the panko & parsley on top.
-Bake 25-30 minutes until the top is golden brown & bubbly!

Now you have enough polenta recipes to fill your repertoire, so go try!


Thursday, March 1, 2012

Tofu 2 Ways

So, this post is a long time coming. I probably make tofu once a week or every other week, & it's one of our favorite dinners (if I may speak for both me and Avi). Tofu has a bad rep among people who have never had it, or have never had it made well/right! So don't be a hater & if you don't like tofu kindly leave your opinions to yourself ... & those of you know who I'm talking about!  ;-) I owe these recipes to a bunchhh of people, so here it is.

The main thing about tofu is that there are a few different kinds. Silken tofu is a good substitute for yogurt in a smoothie, or mayonnaise in a creamy dressing. The best tofu for sauteeing or baking is EXTRA FIRM (Nasoya, or Trader Joe's, among other brands- I don't see a difference between brands, but TJ is usually the cheapest). You must prep the tofu at least 1 hour before you plan on cooking with it. It's imperative to drain the tofu because there's a lot of extra water in it and that makes it mushy, which is probably why people think it's.. mushy! Well, it doesn't have to be. Open the package and put the tofu on a (real) plate, and put 2 plates on top of it. I have ceramic dishes so they're quite heavy. You can also put a measuring cup in a small pot and put that on top of the plate. After about 20 minutes, pour the water out and put the plates back. I usually let it sit on the counter like this for an hour, draining a few times in between. My first tofu recipe is super simple, & I use my favorite Teriyaki Sauce, Soyaki from Trader Joe's. The second is a lighter tofu option, dredged in cornmeal and baked until crisp.

Teriyaki Tofu with Steamed Vegetables & Rice
-1 Extra Firm (or firm) block of tofu, drained, and cut into cubes (cut the block in half crosswise [like opening a book], then cut into 20 cubes)
-2 tbsp. flour
-1 tbsp. sesame seeds
-salt, pepper, garlic powder, dried parsley
-Canola oil
-Mixed vegetables, steamed or blanched (I just pour boiling water over them)
-2 frozen garlic cubes (i.e. Dorot)
-1/4-1/2 cup Trader Joe's Soyaki
-Chopped scallions, honey roasted peanuts, & chopped mango, for topping

-In a large Ziploc bag, add the flour, sesame seeds, some dried parsley, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Shake to mix.
-Season the tofu with salt and pepper.
-Heat a bit of canola oil in a large saute pan over medium-high, & place all the cubes (separate them) in the bag and shake to coat each cube.
-When the oil is hot, add all the pieces slowly, and let saute (don't move them) for a few minutes & then turn them all (I find it's easiest to use to 2 spoons to flip each one). Even though it can take a while, I like to do each side so that they all get crispy.
-Transfer the tofu to a plate, & add the garlic cubes to the pan with a drizzle of toasted sesame oil. Add the vegetables, and stir until the garlic defrosts and coats all the vegetables. Transfer vegis to the bowl and add the tofu back into the pan, & add the Soyaki. Bring the heat up to high and swish the pan so that all the cubes get covered with the sauce & it slightly thickens. Obviously you can leave the vegetables in the pan and add the tofu into that and put the sauce on everything, but I happen to like everything separately.
-Top with some more sesame seeds, mango, scallions, & chopped peanuts (these are my go to garnishes for anything chinese I make). Serve with brown rice, or cellophane noodles.

This one is from a few months back, I used fresh string beans and snow peas...

Tonight's I made without rice, & frozen vegetables...

I find that even if you aren't "vegetarian friendly" you would probably still like this dish, the Soyaki and the toppings are delicious, whereas the next recipe is more plain, but equally good in my opinion.

Cornmeal Crusted Baked Tofu with Mango Black Bean Salsa
-1 block of extra firm tofu, drained
-3 tbsp. flour, on a plate, seasoned with salt pepper & garlic powder
-1 beaten egg, pour on a plate
-Chopped parsley & dill
-salt & pepper
-Cooking spray

-Cut the tofu in half (again, like opening a book), and then cut each half diagonally to form 4 triangles
-Season each triangle on both sides with salt & pepper
-Add chopped herbs to about 1/4-1/2 cup of yellow cornmeal
-Preheat the oven to 450 (or even 500) degrees, and spray a baking rack and set over a baking sheet
-Dredge the tofu in the flour, then egg, then cornmeal and place directly on the rack
-Spray each triangle with cooking spray & bake for 15 minutes. Flip the tofu and spray lightly, and put back in the oven for another 10 minutes. Alternatively you can low broil it. 

-Serve with steamed or sauteed kale or spinach, & 
Mango black bean salsa:
-Chopped mango, parsley, black beans, lime juice, salt & pepper to taste- it's that simple! Sometimes I add avocado to it.

Take on "Meatless Monday!" (or any other day of the week) 


Whether you are new to tofu/meat substitutes, and feeling adventurous, try out this delicious Kosher pan-asian vegetarian restaurant, Wild Ginger in Brooklyn (there's also a location in the city)- it's amazing (I could probably eat there everyday)... No it's not grass on a plate, it's filling entrees, excellent appetizers, drinks, and the best cake I ever had! Let's just say there was a lot of peanut butter in it...!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Guacamole Chicken Sandwich on Ciabatta + Tomato Basil Soup

"What to do with Shabbos leftovers?!" The infamous question, something that never ceases to cry for help. I hate eating leftovers, I get bored (which is why I usually end up cooking just enough for Shabbos so that I won't have to deal with leftovers). So, whenever I am faced with leftovers, I try my hardest to transform it into something completely different. Case in point, tonight's dinner (yes, just for one!).. I took a leftover bone-in chicken breast, slathered (yes, slathered) a toasted deeeelicious ciabatta roll with guacamole, then added in the baby spinach, sliced tomato, & of course the chicken which I took off the bone & sliced. You can repurpose any kind of chicken in a sandwich, when can a sandwich fail? Or you can make this sandwich with fresh chicken. This chicken I baked after marinating it in fresh herbs, lemon, a lot of garlic, and a little bit of dijon mustard. But that's for another blog post :-)

The second part of my meal is a good old Tomato Basil soup, the quintessential "sandwich soup"- aka it goes perfectly with any sandwich (I am of course thinking of the classic tomato soup + grilled cheese sandwich). That is why I am specifically putting the recipe on this blog post. I had 4 large plum tomatoes that were getting a bit too soft, so in a way this is also a "leftovers" soup! It took all of 20 minutes to put together (normally I would have roasted the tomatoes with some balsamic, but I didn't have the time, so I just added the balsamic to the saute instead), and I let it simmer for a while before pureeing.

Guacamole Chicken Sandwich on Ciabatta
-2 baked chicken breasts (bone-in or not)
-Guacamole (my go-to easy guac is avocado mashed with some mayo [I like the additional creaminess- guilty pleasure], lime or lemon juice, salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste)
-Spinach leaves
-Tomato slices
-Square ciabatta rolls

-Toast the ciabbata rolls in a warm oven. In the meantime, prepare the guacamole & slice the chicken breast off the bone, and warm it up.
-Spread the guacamole on both sides of the toasted rolls. Top the bottom half with the spinach leaves, sliced tomato, & the chicken. Cover, & cut sandwich in half.

Tomato Basil Soup
-1 medium onion, chopped
-2 minced garlic cloves
-2 stalks of celery, chopped
-3 small carrots, chopped
-salt, pepper, & Italian Seasoning
-1/4 cup white wine (optional)
-2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
-4 large plum tomatoes, seeds removed
-28 oz. box (i.e. POM) or can of whole or chopped tomatoes
-4-5 frozen basil cubes (i.e. Dorot)
-2-3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth (i.e. Trader Joe's or Imagine) or water. I used about half a box.
-1 Yukon gold potato, peeled and chopped

-In a pot, heat up a tbsp. of Earth Balance & a drizzle of olive oil. Add the chopped onion, salt, pepper, & a sprinkle of Italian seasoning, & saute a few minutes before adding the celery, carrot, and garlic.
-Let saute around 4 minutes, & deglaze the pan with the balsamic & white wine (if you don't have the wine, then the balsamic will do the job. The acid brings up the all the bits of flavor).
-Add the chopped de-seeded tomatoes, & the box/can of tomatoes. Season again with some salt & pepper.
-Add the potato, & then pour in the broth, better to add in less now & the rest later, than too much because you don't want to accidentally thin it out too much.
-Drop in the basil cubes (they will defrost with the warmth of the soup)
-Bring to a boil & then reduce it to simmer for about an hour.
-Puree until smooth, & season with salt and pepper if needed. 

What is more comforting than a sandwich & soup combo? This is the perfect one!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Unstuffed Baked Sweet Potato with Polenta Portabella Ragout

I was feeling in the mood for a light dinner and since it's tax season, it's usually dinner for just me. But I somewhat enjoy making myself dinner, thinking up creative things & this dinner just kept giving me more ideas as I was going on. It started with just a baked sweet potato with sour cream, scallions, and sauteed onions. But then I added fresh spinach, mushrooms (tax season is when I can enjoy mushrooms the most since Avi won't touch it!). Then I saw my trusty log of Polenta in the pantry and decided to cube it and add it to the "ragu." This way it's hearty enough yet light at the same time. I've modified the recipe for 2.

Unstuffed Baked Sweet Potato with Polenta Portabella Ragout
-2 sweet potatoes
-1 onion, diced
-3 cups fresh spinach
-1 large portabella mushroom cap, cut into cubes
-1/2 a polenta log, cut into cubes
-olive oil, salt, pepper
-Sour cream or Earth Balance for the sweet potato
-Chopped green onion

-Pierce a sweet potato with a fork or knife a few times, wrap in tin foil & bake in a 400 degree oven for 30-40 minutes.
-Saute 1 small onion in a few drizzles of olive oil, add salt, pepper, and a sprinkle of sugar. Saute on medium-low so that the onions slightly caramelize. Add 1/2 a chopped portabella mushroom cap, stirring, adding a touch more oil if necessary.
-Push the mushroom/onion mixture to one side of the pan and add the polenta, and season the cubes with salt & pepper. Let it get brown before tossing/turning them (it might be annoying to start turning each cube so just move them around in the pan after a few minutes of sauteeing on one side)
-Add the spinach, roughly chopped, to the onion/mushroom and saute just until wilted. Incorporate the polenta. Season with more salt & pepper to taste.
-When the sweet potato is done, carefully make a slice down the middle, not going all the way through and push the sweet potato open. Season with salt, pepper, green onions, & sour cream on the side :-)

I am off to eat!! (again, sorry about my phone pictures, terrible quality.. Waiting for an Iphone so that my blog pictures don't look so sad! I take pics with my regular camera but when I want to post immediately, I have no patience for uploading!)


Friday, February 10, 2012

Simple Pasta Lunch

It's not hard to make pasta stand out with a simple & delicious sauce, it totally transforms it. I bought heavy cream a few weeks ago, but being that it isn't the type of thing you use daily, I froze 1/4 cup increments in Ziploc bags, & then when I want it, I let it defrost. Today I microwaved it in a bowl for 45 seconds and then stirred it & it was ready to go (because I forgot to take it out). I used fresh baby spinach, but any green can work (arugula, kale...) or even frozen if that's all you have. It just ups the ante by adding in some green at the last minute. You can use any shape pasta that you have, even spaghetti or angel hair, but I used Rotini (corkscrews).

Rotini with Pink Sauce & Spinach
-3 cups cooked Rotini pasta (I use Barilla Plus)
-1/4 cup chopped red onion
-2 garlic cloves, cut only in half
-salt & pepper
-1/4 - 1/2 cup "light" heavy cream
-1/4 cup marinara sauce
-1 tbsp. prepared pesto
-4 cups roughly chopped spinach
-Lemon zest & parsley, for garnish (optional)

-Heat some olive oil in a large saute pan, & immediately add the halved garlic cloves (you'll be taking them out). Add the chopped onion & saute, sprinkle some salt & black pepper.
-Once the onions are sauteed a few minutes, lower the heat to medium-low, pour the cream in, & stir. Take the garlic out & discard.
-Slowly raise the heat again to medium/medium-high, & add in the marinara & pesto.
-Add freshly ground black pepper & a pinch of salt
-Continue stirring, & then add the spinach off the fire. Continue stirring until it wilts down, and finally add the pasta in.
-Top with chopped parsley & lemon zest (optional)

(Sorry about the poor picture quality- it's from my phone)..
hmm, sorry it looks like a crime scene, it tasted soooo much better than it looks!


Monday, February 6, 2012

Sorry, Coffee Bar!

My next salad recipe is one that I get whenever I am at Coffee Bar in Lawrence when I am in the mood for a salad. I love a hearty salad, not just lettuce, tomato, and cucumber, rather one with enough substance to keep me full. I made it at home today for lunch, & it's perfect!!!! My dressing, though, comes from Ina Garten (if I remember correctly?) and not Coffee Bar, considering mayonnaise based dressings (what they mostly have) is by no means Greek! (P.S. black olives is the one thing I left out, because I didn't have any)

Greek Salad
-Romaine lettuce, washed & dried
-Hothouse cucumber (or kirby, whatever you have)
-1 hard boiled egg
-Feta Cheese
-Avocado (my addition)
-3 stuffed grape leaves (preferred brand: Galil)

Greek Vinaigrette
-1/2 tsp. dried oregano
-2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
-1/2 tsp. dijon mustard
-pinch of salt & pepper
-2 tbsp. olive oil

Whisk all the dressing ingredients & pour over the salad! ENJOY!

    Tuesday, January 31, 2012

    Spring Mix Salad with Grilled Polenta & Portabella Mushrooms

    I decided to celebrate my return to blogging (after having blog "issues" & my Gmail account being "compromised" for a while) with this salad that I just made myself for lunch. It's not the easiest of salads to "throw together" but since it is my last day of vacation (school starts up again tonight), I decided to go "all out." Since the salad has a few components, I decided to make the dressing super simple, & I put it together all in the bottom of a bowl. That way you can easily toss all the ingredients with the dressing & be done. I added a few random ingredients from my fridge & I can't wait to delve into this salad...

    -Spring Mix Salad Greens ("fancy greens"- I used about 1.5 cups or so for 1 salad)
    -1/4 cup blueberries
    -3 canned artichoke hearts
    -1/4 avocado
    -1 persian cucumber
    -1 large portabella mushroom cap ("marinade": balsamic vinegar, olive oil, italian seasoning)
    -4 slices of prepared polenta, cut in semicircles (I get it at Trader Joes, but I've seen it in some Kosher stores now, at Aron's yesterday. It is in a log form. Refrigerate it to firm it up, making it easier to cleanly slice)
    -Sprinkle of craisins
    -Dressing: lemon or lime juice, Kosher salt, freshly cracked black pepper (or lemon pepper works great here too), dijon mustard, olive oil.

    -Spray a grill pan & heat over medium-high.
    -Slice the portabella cap to desired thickness, and place in a bowl. Drizzle some olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and italian seasoning over the mushrooms & toss.
    -When the pan is hot, add the mushrooms & let grill 1-2 minutes per side.
    -In the meantime, slice the polenta, drizzle with some olive oil, salt & pepper
    -When the mushrooms are done, transfer to a plate and re-spray the pan before adding in the polenta. I recommend letting the pan cool off a bit first, as polenta has a tendency to stick, especially if put on an extremely hot pan.
    -Grill the polenta for also 1-2 minutes per side until golden brown and soft.
    -Assemble the salad: in a large bowl, juice 1/2 of a large lemon (or a whole small lemon), which is about a tbsp. or 2 of lemon juice if you don't have fresh. Add a pinch or two of salt, and 2 turns of a pepper grinder. Squeeze in a bit of dijon mustard (about 1-2 tsps.) and whisk with a fork. While stirring, drizzle in a little bit of olive oil just to smoothen out the whole dressing. Add the greens directly into the dressing, along with the rest of the ingredients (chopped artichoke hearts craisins, cucumber, blueberries, and avocado). Toss well until the dressing is incorporated.
    -Transfer to a plate & top with the grilled polenta and mushrooms.
    -I topped mine with honey roasted peanuts just because ...when do they NOT go!

    Try out this salad, it will do your stomach good!