Cauliflower Amazingness

cauliflower

Cauliflower was gross. I mean, yucky times 1000. Until I discovered this crazy concept called “roasting”. *insert eye roll here* Yeah, I know, it’s not a new thing but when something is yucky why would cooking it a new way make it better? Who knows, but it’s bomb. There’s a local restaurant called Pita Jungle that serves cauliflower with tahini sauce that I’ve tried, and tried and yep, you guessed it, tried to recreate. It’s not exactly the same but isn’t that the point of a “copycat” recipe?!

Ingredients

1 Head of Cauliflower (duh)
1/2 thin sliced Onion
1/2 c. Tahini
Water
4 tbl. Lemon juice
2 Garlic cloves (minced)
Olive oil
Frenchs Onions (optional)
Pine nuts (optional)
Paprika
Salt and Pepper

  1. Cut cauliflower into florets. Toss in olive oil with a smidge of salt and pepper. Set oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Saute onions in olive oil until caramelized. Remove from pan once done but reserve any oil in the pan.
  3. While 1 and 2 are in process, make the tahini sauce.  Put 1/2 c water in a bowl. Measure 1/2 c. tahini into water. Get a whisk and go to town on it. It’s going to look gross at first but the more you whisk the more it melds. This step is key, if it’s not mixed well the tahini seizes up when it’s cooked. Add another 1/2 c. of water, 3-4 tbl. lemon juice, and 3 tsp. paprika and keep whisking. Once it’s all blended pour into oil  pan and cook on low heat. Feel free to add more water and/or lemon juice (taste as you do this one).
  4. Cauliflower should be done now. Al dente, crispy and browned.
  5. Sauce should be done now. See how smooth and glossy it is?!
  6. YUM! Plate. Cauliflower, caramelized onions, drizzle sauce with a heavy hand. I like to add toasted pine nuts and Frenchs onions to the top but you don’t have to if you don’t want to. (BUT WHY WOULDN’T YOU?!)

That’s it. I pretty much never measure when I cook so, feel free to taste along the way. Make tweaks of your own, but overall, ENJOY!

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Summer Baking

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Yes. I know the title is basically an oxymoron, especially here in Arizona where one does not typically bake in the summer because…ya know…7th level of hell temperatures.  However, summer is the time when all the best fruits are ripe! Peaches, berries, tomatoes…it’s hard to resist the urge to put said ripe, tasty fruit in pastry and put it in the oven.The Galette is part of my “Baker Facade”.  You know, where I make it look like I’m an accomplished baker but really I’m not. 😉  A galette is broad name for a variety of flat, round flaky pastries. It’s sometimes used with a buckwheat type crepe as well but I’ve only made the pastry version. It can be savory or sweet, and it’s free form shape gives it a rustic yet elegant look.

I cheat and use a store bought pastry because of time and I’ve not found one that I love and is easy to make yet, but if you’ve got a pie crust recipe or flaky dough recipe already in your repertoire, go for it.

Here are the recipes for the two I made.

Summer Fruit Galette
*This time I used a cheese danish filling in each but typically I make them w/o this.

1014135_10200919813692814_397584102_n1. Peach/Rainier Cherry

3 thin sliced ripe peaches
1/2 c. pitted Rainier Cherries (Bing would work too)
1 flaky pie crust
1/2 of cream cheese filling
honey

berrygalette

2. Strawberry/Blueberry
1 container strawberries, sliced
1/2 container blueberries
1 flaky pie crust
1/2 of cream cheese filling
honey

Cream Cheese filling
8 oz. whipped cream cheese
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 c. sugar
1 egg yolk

Mix together.

To put the galette together:

  • mix sliced fruit with honey and sweeten to taste, depending on how ripe the fruit is you may not need much
  • Roll out pastry dough
  • spread cheese filling over dough, leaving approx 1/2 in. crust edge cheese free
  • lay fruit over cheese filling, leaving approx 3/4 to an inch free of fruit
  • fold crust edge over fruit every few inches
  • bake on parchment on cookie sheet or a baking stone if you have one
  • you can sprinkle the top with raw sugar or coat the crust with egg wash, I did neither this time.
  • bake at 450 for approx 30-40 min. (this was my oven time and temp, yours may be different so keep an eye on the pastry) once it’s golden brown remove.

Now, as I said, this can be sweet or savory so get creative with combinations! Post your ideas or ways you’ve made these in the comments for all to see.

Enjoy!

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Drunken Shrimp Tacos

This recipe is a result of “What do I have in the house to make for dinner?”

Drunken Shrimp Tacos

Drunken Shrimp Tacos
yield depends on size of shrimp 3 – 4 each per taco

Ingredients
1 pkg frozen raw shrimp (the one I bought had peeled and de-veined shrimp)
1 Tbl melted butter
2 limes – juice
Tequila (I used silver but this would work great with a gold too.)
Fresh garlic
1/2+ tsp Cumin
2 tbl olive oil
1/4 c. Margarita Mix
S&P
Angel Cabbage (finely shredded)
Sour cream
Avocado
Cheese of choice (I had a Mexican cheese mix)
Taco size corn tortillas

~Melt butter and add garlic, juice from limes, cumin and approx. 1 c. Tequila.~Mix until cumin is integrated then add shrimp. (Mine were thawed at this point, but you can thaw them in this marinade.
~Marinate for 2 – 3 hours. (or until thaw if frozen)
~Grill time depends on size of shrimp. Grill till translucence is gone and they’re puffy and white with pink edges.

~While shrimps are marinating, make the vinaigrette for the slaw. Whisk together olive oil, cumin, salt and pepper with Margarita Mix. Refrigerate.

~When shrimp is finished cooking it’s time to assemble the tacos! Warm up the tortillas on a griddle, add cheese, shrimp and top with slaw you’ve tossed with your Margarita vinaigrette. Garnish with your favorite toppings! I added a dollop of sour cream and avocado.

Feel free to add and subtract ingredients to your taste but by all means, EAT ‘EM UP!

Here’s the list of products I used for my recipe.
Shrimp ~ Safeway Open Nature
Tortillas ~ La Tortilla Factory Hand-made Style Corn Tortillas (hands down the best I’ve ever had)
Tequila ~ Sauza
Margarita Mix ~ Refine Margarita Mix (ZERO calories!)

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Red Wine Braised Short Ribs

Hello! *waves* Remember me?! No, well, I’ll work to change that. Working on posting at least once a week. I’ve got loads of pictures already taken so you’d think I’d already have tons written right?

2013-03-06 19.08.25Today I made something new to me – Braised Short Ribs. My friend Nico Rosso (whom you’ve met here before) posted a pic of some that he’d made and they looked amazing. So I set out to make some myself.  I spent a few days looking up recipes, watching techniques and contemplating how to round out the meal.

*UPDATE – Inspired by my inspired inspiration, Nico posted his recipe!

I also talked to the butcher at my Safeway to find out the best cuts of meat for this. He recommended a mix of bone in and de-boned short ribs so you get extra flavor from the beef bones, but enough meat as well. Regarding wine choice: I’m a huge proponent for cooking with wine you want to drink. I used an open bottle of Syrah for this dish so it ended up being about 3/4 bottle. If you’re not a red wine drinker here’s some I’d suggest using for this dish—Cabernet, Zinfandel, Pinot Noir, Chianti or Syrah.

Red Wine Braised Short Ribs

serves 3 – 4
prep time: 30 – 45 min
cook time: approx 4 – 5 hours
1 Leek – main stalk, sliced thin
1 Shallot – diced
1/2 Yellow Onion – diced
4 Cloves of garlic – diced
3 Carrots – peeled, diced
1/2 c. Diced baby bella mushrooms
1 Bottle Red Wine
8 oz Chicken Stock (optional)
2 Bay Leaves
1 tsp. Dried Thyme
3 Sprigs Flat Leaf Parsley
Olive Oil
1 c. plum tomatoes
8 – 12 oz Beef Stock
1 pkg. Bone-in Short Ribs (4)
1 pkg. De-boned Short Ribs (4)
Salt & Pepper

Optional spices – Red Pepper flakes, Oregano

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Clean and dice the shallot, garlic, leek, onion, carrot and mushrooms. In a heavy stock pot saute in a tbl. of olive oil for about 5 min, enough 2013-03-06 11.57.38to start to pull the flavors out. Add in wine (and chicken stock if you don’t use a full bottle of wine). Bring to a rolling boil then reduce heat and simmer for 40 – 45 min until reduced a little more than half. Stir every once in a while but over all you want to leave it alone at this point.

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Once you have the wine/veggie reduction, scoop into a bowl for use later.  Put stock put back over heat and add 1 tbl olive oil. Salt and Pepper both sides of short ribs and brown on all sides. Add a bit of beef stock to loosen up all the brown bits you’ll have in the pot at this stage. Add rest of beef stock and wine/veggie reduction. Add the tomatoes at this point, they should be easy enough to crush with your hands or you can chop them. *I added a few shakes of red pepper flakes and oregano at this point. Stir a bit to ensure sauce hits all sides of ribs.  Bring pot to a boil then reduce to a low simmer. Make a parchment lid with a center whole to keep heat in yet allow the slow reduction.

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Keep an eye on this but let it cook on low for 3 – 4 hours. Give it a stir and ensure it’s not reducing too quickly, if it is, just add a bit more stock to the pot. When it’s mostly reduced and you can pull the meat apart easily, turn off the stove.

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Pull the ribs from the sauce. The bones should already be meat free at this point.  Piece meat into bit sizes and remove fat. If you need to use a potato masher to change the size of the veggies and thicken the sauce a bit do it now before you add the meat back.

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I let this marinate for about 30 min then heated back up to serve for dinner. You can serve right away of course, but this will ensure the meat is fully integrated with the sauce. I can imagine it will be even better the next day!

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I served this over polenta, but it would work with mashed potatoes, pasta or spaghetti squash.
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A Foodie on Vacation – Dana Point, CA

This year we decided to head out on our annual family vacation the week of 4th of July. We’re either genius or insane…somehow I think a smidge of both. It was a wonderful week spent with my sisters family, relaxing on the beach, shopping (sorry boys), a water park, and more beach.  We stayed at a condo on Strand Beach in CA. Literally across the street from the beach. Albeit down (and up) 168 stairs to get to the beach, but well worth it.

I must confess, as a self-confessed foodie, I took a dismal amount of pictures of the food we ate. I know. I suck. But I think you’ll enjoy the pics I did take. 🙂

Breakfast:  We all know this is the most important meal of the day and one of my favorites!

We found two great places in Dana Point that I’d highly recommend. Stacks Pancake House. Click on the link, their pics are way better than anything I could have taken. This was a cute place on the main PCH drag through Dana Point. The menu is quite extensive from simple pancakes to elaborate egg dishes with unique handcrafted sausages.

RJ’s Cafe by the Dana Point Harbor was the 2nd bkfst place we discovered. Unfortunately we didn’t discover them until the day we left, otherwise we probably would have been back more than once to try more of the menu.  Another extensive menu with a huge variety of breakfast (and lunch ) items.  They sell bottles of hot sauce (can’t remember the name) that are phenomenal and of course I didn’t buy any to bring home. But just gives me a reason to go back right?!

Dinner: We ate out twice for dinner. The first was phenomenal, the second, not so much.

Salt Creek GrilleDana Point, CA.  We ate here on the 4th of July. Without a reservation. *See above comment re: insanity. But they were very gracious and very accommodating for our large (and picky eaters) party. Salt Creek Grille has a beautiful, welcoming patio they utilize as their bar/Happy Hour as well as outside seating. I wish we’d been able to eat out there but it was chilly. If we ever go to Dana Point sans kids, we will be heading back to Salt Creek Grille to enjoy the patio. The menu was American fare with hints of Italian. Everything was amazing. I had the Rock Shrimp Risotto, wonderful flavor, not too heavy, and highly recommended.

One of my favorite finds is JC Beans Coffee House. Many of you know I’m a die-hard Starbucks fan. But JC Beans has hands down the best coffee/espresso I’ve ever had. Ever. Sorry Starbucks.

 

We will be back to Dana Point, CA. It’s easy distance to much of the fun things to do in Southern CA.

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I Smell Reality, oh, and Lasange Roll-ups

In all fairness, I started this blog with a bazillion pics of food I’d already made, with grand illusions of posting daily…er, weekly…bi-weekly?  Whatever my intentions, reality reared her hella ugly head and laughed maniacally in my face. No matter what I threw at her: the serpentine run, the mime hangman rope, even a very well placed Avada Kadavra she just stuck around.  So I snuck up behind her, shot an arrow in her knee and took her down.She unfortunately won’t go far, but I’ve a feeling she’ll be around now with a gimp. 🙂

So what has this foodie been up to?  Did some traveling to Chicago but was mostly stuck in a hotel so the eats weren’t that good. EXCEPT for the Chicago style pizza at Giordano’s. Seriously hands down the BEST Chicago style pizza I’ve ever had.  Latest trip was back home to Columbia, MO and while I didn’t find any new food loves, I did stop at an oldie but goodie, White Castle. Had to. And yeah, it was tasty.

Outside of those trips my foodiness has been on a diet. Or should I say a healthy eating habit. Using apps like MyFitnessPal.com, wearing a BodyBugg and eating healthy with a smattering of working out in there, I’ve lost 8lbs in the last 6 weeks. More to go, but I’m feeling good. Better yet, I’m finding yummy food doesn’t have to be tasteless. It’s all in the ingredients and portion control.

Part of my quest for crazy good, healthy (CGH) eats crafted in my kitchen has been to reconstruct the classics. Lasagne being on of my favorites to eat, make and serve. And let’s face it, it’s NOT on the healthy side. Especially when you’re a chees’o’holic like me. Pinterest inspired me to try the Roll-up aspect of this, but then I had to tweak it a bit more to bring on the CGH.

CGH Lasagne Roll Ups
Serves 10 (portion 1)
Calories per serving: 265*

1 lb 96/4 ground beef
1 can Safeway Italian Style Diced Tomatoes
1 can Safeway Tomato Sauce
1 cup Shredded Zucchini
1 cup Shredded Carrot
3 cup (approx) Raw Spinach
3 minced garlic cloves
Italian seasoning
1 cup red wine (optional)
1 container Angelo & Franco Ricotta** (Fresh & Easy)
1 oz Greek Non-fat Yogurt Plain
Smidge skim milk
1/4 cup (approx) Finely Shredded Low-Moisture Part Skim Mozzarella Cheese
10 al dente Whole Grain Lasagna Noodles (Safeway Eating Right)

Boil Lasagna noodles till just shy of al dente. They will cook a bit longer in the oven. Rinse with cold water and let cool, they should be flexible enough to roll, but not fall apart.

SAUCE:
In a stock pot brown ground beef. This is super lean so there won’t be much fat. You can add olive oil if you want for flavor or to assist in cooking the veggies. Water can be used too. Add carrots, garlic and zucchini. Cook until tender. Add wine and cook away for flavor only. I like to add my herbs at this stage, add to taste. Add both cans of tomatoes/sauce and let simmer until flavor melds.  (This can be made ahead of time and in large quantities too to freeze for later!)

CHEESE:
Mix Ricotta, yogurt and milk until smooth. Not runny, you need the cheese to hold the roll up but still be able to spread it.

HAND CRAFTED:
Literally. Lay out the noodles then spread a large kitchen spoon (you know the one you pretend is a serving spoon but it’s really the one you WANT to use for your cereal) of cheese across the noodle. Scoop a 1/4 cup of sauce and do the same. Carefully roll up and place in a lightly greased (I’ve got a Pampered Chef oil spray thingy) 9 X 13 pan. Continue until all noodles are gone. Top with remaining sauce and sprinkle cheese. Bake at 400 for 30 min. (or until done)

These were divine!  And for me, one with a side salad was more than enough. I even had enough “calorie spend” at the end of the day for a yummy, low cal dessert, but I’ll save that for another day.

*Here’s the breakdown using the exact ingredients I did. If you use different ingredients the counts may be off.
Calories: 265
Carbs: 29
Fat: 7
Protein: 20

**This ricotta is by far, the best I’ve ever had. Ever. I could eat it plain. Any ricotta will do, but if you can get your hands on this, your inner foodie will rejoice. I went the next day and bought another to make the dessert I’ll post about another day. That. Good.

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What’s Left Bread aka Banana Zucchini Chocolate Chip Bread

Is it just my household, or does anyone else buy a bunch of bananas with the best intentions of eating them before they get a squick of brown on them only to find them all soft and mushy behind the loaf of bread and sweet potatoes? No? Just me then, eh?

What’s the natural progression of a bunch of very ripe bananas? Make Banana bread! But I also had zucchini that needed to be eaten and two packages of opened chocolate chips yet only had two eggs, and not enough sugar. What’s a Foodie to do?  Improvise.

The following recipe was adapted from an adaptation.

What’s Left Bread

•    4 very ripe bananas
•    4 med zucchini, shredded
•    1 1/8 cup sugar
•    2 egg, beaten
•    3 cups of all-purpose flour
•    1 cup whole wheat flour
•    2 tsp baking powder
•    2 tsp baking soda
•    1 tsp salt
•    1 tbl cinnamon
•    4 tbsp butter, melted
•    1 cup chocolate chips (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350.  Combine ripe bananas, shredded zucchini, sugar and eggs in Kitchen Aid, mix until fully combined.

2.  Add baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon to 1/2 c flour and mix well.  Gradually add the remaining flour wet mix stirring until well combined.

3.  Stir in the melted butter then chocolate chips.  Pour into a greased loaf pan and bake in the oven for 45 min to 1 hour.

Makes 2 loaves

The end result? DIVINE.

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