Since the last time I’ve written, so many things have happened in my life and throughout the world. Isn’t that always the case? Life is never stagnate. That can be a good thing and it can be a scary thing … Continue reading
I’m having a lot of fun this week! I found out about a fun contest through the San Diego Food Blogger Group where I could request specific items from the company Del Real Foods (http://www.delrealfoods.com/), they would send me the items free of charge, and I could play around with the ingredients in order to create a recipe and win some cash. Uh, yeah! I requested shredded chicken, carnitas, refried beans, and salsa and started playing around with quick recipe ideas. The only stipulation was that the recipe couldn’t take longer than 30 minutes. Not a problem, especially with the main ingredients precooked. You can vote for my recipe, Picante Pollo Sliders, here: http://www.delrealfoods.com/blogger-recipe-challenge/picante-pollo-sliders You are allowed to vote once a day through August 7th. Of course I would love to win the cash prize, but I must say it is really fun to see so many people supporting me. I keep watching the vote count go up every day, and that is just really cool!
I was having a couple of friends over for the Fourth of July, and I thought that would be a perfect testing ground for my first recipe idea. I love spicy food, but I love when flavors bounce around – spicy, then sweet, then back, then salty, then spicy – you get the idea. With that in mind, I decided on making sliders with a flavor explosion to mimic the fireworks later that evening;)
This is a keeper of a recipe! You can make the cucumber relish the day before, if you so choose. The longer the mix sits, the more intense the flavors will become, of course! The chicken mixture will come together quickly, but you can also keep it simmering on the stove for a good amount of time so that it thickens. Just keep an eye on it and occasionally stir. But if you don’t have a ton of time, no worries. Follow the recipe as is, but you may want to make sure more chicken than liquid makes it onto the slider so that it doesn’t become too soggy. Last note, this recipe makes a large serving. I like to be able to really pile the chicken mixture onto the slider, but you may not be so brash. If you have extra chicken mixture, either get more slider buns or you could mix up dinner the next night by cooking some penne and adding this chicken mixture in lieu of a traditional tomato sauce. That is exactly what I did, and then I added some lightly sautéed zucchinis. Why not? Go crazy!
Picante Pollo Sliders
Sweet and Spicy Cucumber Relish:
4 red jalapenos, chopped
1 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 seedless cucumber, thinly sliced
1/2 cup white onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
Shredded Chicken Mixture:
2.5 pounds Del Real cooked, shredded chicken breast
32 ounces Del Real Salsa de Molcajete Verde
3 chipotle chiles in adobo, chopped
1 Tablespoon chili powder
1 package of dinner rolls, preferably Hawaiian Sweet
Cotija cheese, 5 ounces, crumbled
- In a food processor, combine red jalapenos, vinegar, garlic, sugar, ginger and salt. Process until well combined, about 1 minute. In a medium bowl, place cucumber slices, onions and cilantro. Pour jalapeno mixture over the cucumber mixture and mix together. Cover and place in refrigerator until ready to use.
- In a large pot, place shredded chicken, salsa, chipotle chiles, and chili powder over medium high heat. Stir to combine, and continue stirring occasionally until heated through, approximately 20 minutes.
Once the chicken mixture is thoroughly heated and the flavors have combined, place a scoop of the mixture onto the sweet roll. You will want to slice the roll like a sandwich. Top the chicken mixture with a bit of the cucumber relish and then top with a bit of crumbled cotija. Top the slider with the top half of the roll. The amount of the chicken mixture, cucumber relish, and cotija really depends on one’s personal preference.
At this point, I had Refried Beans and Carnitas (Roasted Pork) from Del Real Foods that I wanted to turn into even more goodness. I turned to another love for inspiration – pizza. Again, I only had 30 minutes from start to finish. I created, but opted not to enter into this into the contest, Cheesy Carnitas Pillows. Simply take 1 store-bought container of pizza dough and roll it out onto a prepared baking sheet. I sliced the dough into 10 equal rectangles. On the bottom row of 5 rectangles, I placed 1 slice of Jalapeno Monterey Jack, making sure the cheese did not hang off the edges. I spread 2 Tablespoons of refried beans on top of the cheese, then I topped that with 1/2 ounce of carnitas, and layered that with 3 pickled jalapeno slices. I simply took the top row of dough and placed them on top of the prepared dough rectangles, and then I crimped the edges to ensure no goodness would escape. I baked them for about 15 minutes, or until nice and golden, at 425 degrees. I served these little lovelies with salsa.
Thanks to everyone who has already voted, and feel free to continue to vote whenever you have a free moment! I greatly appreciate it!
Take Care and Happy Eating!
(Disclaimer: I did receive free items from Del Real Foods, but that in no way influenced how much I enjoyed my creations!)
Every week I compile recipes and ideas so that I have a guide, a dinner road map, if you will. Also, I try to create dinners that can turn into lunch for me throughout the week. Last week I got a little sidelined. We had a friend in town, which is always a great thing, and then I got sick, which is always a horrible thing. I take getting sick to a new level. When I get sick, I am down and out for the count. Here is what I made last week before I got sick. My recipe makes about 4 servings, and I love this because it’s so easy to throw a couple in the microwave during the week for a quick-lunch or dinner. The original recipe is from Food and Wine, http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/stuffed-peppers-with-thai-curry-rice-and-mushrooms. I made some changes based on my likes. In the original recipe, it directs one to steam the peppers. In recipes like this, I prefer my peppers to not be soft. If you prefer softer peppers, see the original recipe.
Stuffed Peppers with Thai Curry Farro and Mushrooms
6 large red bell peppers, halved with cores and stems removed
2 tablespoons grapeseed or canola oil
2 medium shallots, minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup farro
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
1 tablespoon Thai red curry paste (NOT red curry sauce)
1 tablespoon of sambak olek (if you like more or less heat, adjust accordingly)
1 pound mushrooms, chopped (any kind you like works in this recipe)
4 cups spinach
1/4 cup basil, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Cook farro according to the directions on the bag, but replace the liquid with unsweetened coconut milk and chicken stock. Once farro is cooked, remove from heat and set aside.
- In a stock pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic, and continue stirring until they soften, and do not let them become too browned. Add ginger, red curry paste, and sambak olek, and stir for about a minute just for the flavors to blend. Add the chopped mushrooms and stir a few times until the mushrooms soften, approximately 5 minutes. Once the mushrooms have softened, add the spinach and stir until the spinach has wilted. This will happen quickly, so keep an eye on it.
- Remove the mushroom-spinach mixture from the heat and add the farro, basil, salt and pepper. Stir until combined, and fill each red pepper half with the mixture.
- Place peppers in a baking dish that is lined with parchment (I love using parchment whenever I can. It ensures there is no sticking, and makes cleaning even easier.). Cover with foil or place a cover over the dish, and bake in the oven for approximately 40-45 minutes.
The recipes for this week in the Kopp household include:
- Crazy Monday night!!! We never eat out on a Monday! Franz had the night off, so we decided to finally go to Steak Night at Small Bar (http://smallbarsd.com/). This was so exciting! It starts at 5pm on Mondays. You get a 3/4 pound rib eye steak, potatoes roasted in duck fat, a side salad with blue cheese dressing, and a pint of beer for $15!!! It was so tasty and so inexpensive! I highly recommend it! Once they sell out, they are out!
- Roasted Cauliflower with Cranberries (http://www.bhg.com/recipe/roasted-cauliflower-with-cranberries/): I always have leftover fresh cranberries in my freezer from the Holidays. I LOVE this recipe!! This could easily be served with a pork tenderloin, sautéed chicken breasts, or even thrown in a bowl of whole wheat pasta for a vegetarian option.
- Cream of Parsnip Soup (http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/recipe/cream-parsnip-soup *** See my notes!): I have been making this recipe since 2007. Whenever I eat parsnips, I immediately think about my husband’s grandfather. We would eat parsnips from his garden way back when Franz and I were dating. It was the first time I had ever tried one, and I have been hooked ever since. He was a very wise man. ***In this recipe, I remove the butter and just use olive oil or grapeseed oil. I cut back on the amount of onion, and I use only about half of a large onion. The recipe calls for 3 1/2 cups parsnip. That’s hard to eye-ball, so I always go with about a pound of parsnips (I usually go a little over considering the stems and peels are discarded.). Lastly, I remove the half-and-half from the recipe. It is not needed. If you want it, you could even do less than the recommended amount.
- I have a big container or spinach that I need to use, so one night will be sautéed chicken breasts with sautéed spinach, mushrooms, and sweet onions.
I hope you give these recipes a try, and if you live around the San Diego area, try out Steak Night at Small Bar! Have a great week, and enjoy the Holiday weekend!
Take Care and Happy Eating!
OK, so my title is a little misleading. Let me start at the beginning. Melissa’s (http://www.melissas.com/) offered another challenge to the San Diego Food Bloggers. The timing was a little tough due to the craziness of the Holidays, and Melissa’s pushed our creativity to the next level. We had to use all of the ingredients and create two recipes: one savory and one sweet. I was on board. I can’t thank Melissa’s enough for giving us the opportunity once again. I received my complimentary box of goodies containing a one pound bag of Mandarin oranges, two Korean pears, bag of Baby Dutch Potatoes, steamed chestnuts, steamed baby potatoes, steamed beets, peeled and steamed baby potatoes, seedless grapes, and a cookbook all about Baby Dutch Potatoes.
I gave myself a few days to figure out the direction I wanted to go with all of the items. I browsed the cookbook I received. I had some ideas, and then my wallet was stolen. Aargh. I am still talking with different companies and the police, so my creativity took a little hit. I felt like grabbing a burrito at La Posta (http://www.yelp.com/biz/la-posta-de-acapulcos-san-diego-2) and a growler from Societe Brewing Company (http://societebrewing.com/) instead of cooking and writing.
I started with dessert. I needed something sweet! I decided to make a Korean Pear and Grape Pie. I had eaten a Korean Pear before, but I had no idea how it would bake. This is where the “Don’t Try This At Home” comes into play. The pie tasted really good, but it looked like a wet mess. So sad. Korean Pears are unbelievably juicy. Maybe that was where I went wrong. Maybe I needed to add more flour to the fruit mix, or maybe I should have sautéed the pears to extract some of the liquid? Let me know your thoughts! The produce was delicious, and the pie was really tasty, it just should have held together better. I wish I had more time to try this again, but time was short. I’m making sure to put “Time” on my wish list to Santa!
Korean Pear and Grape Pie
For The Crust:
- 2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2/3 cup Canola Oil (You can substitute Vegetable Oil)
- 6 Tablespoons cold milk
For the Filling:
- 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar, plus 2 teaspoons
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 large Korean Pears, about 2 pounds total, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
- 1 pound seedless red grapes, halved
- 2 Tablespoons butter, diced
- 2 teaspoons milk
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. For the crust, sift together flour and salt into a mixing bowl. Combine oil and milk, but no need to mix, into a small bowl. Pour oil and milk into the flour mixture. Stir just until the dough comes together. DO NOT over mix!! Divide dough in half, and shape into 2 round balls. Roll dough between two sheets of wax paper to form 12 inch rounds. Transfer one disk to a 9.5 inch glass pie pan, removing and discarding the wax paper.
- Create the filling by mixing together the 1 1/4 cups sugar, flour, nutmeg, and cinnamon in a large bowl. Add sliced pears and grapes, and toss until evenly coated.
- Fill bottom crust with fruit mixture and place diced butter on top. Cover with the remaining pastry round, discarding the wax paper. Crimp edges to form a seal. Create a vent on top either by scoring the pie or by creating a design. I opted for a Christmas Tree vent. Brush with milk and sprinkle with remaining 2 teaspoons of sugar. Bake for 1 hour and allow to cool for at least an additional hour. If the pie crust begins to darken too quickly, cover the edges with foil.
Once I made my sweet tooth happy, I, shockingly, was in a way better mood to cook! With the remaining ingredients I created an entrée and a side dish that is so easy to make any night of the week. I usually am not a fan of chestnuts, but I LOVE them in this recipe. And I love beets, but they can kind of be a pain if you buy them fresh. I felt like I was cheating by having the beets peeled and steamed for me! No grabbing surgical gloves to avoid the red stained hands! Awesome!
Seared Five-Spice Chicken with Chestnuts, Beets, and Spinach Roasting on the Open Fire (Well, not really, but I was listening to Christmas music while cooking, so it just sounds right.)
- 3 skin-less chicken breasts (You can easily increase this number. My Trader Joe’s chicken pack had 3 in it, and I didn’t feel like getting more.)
- Five-Spice powder, 1 teaspoon
- Dash of cayenne powder (I like a kick. If you don’t, don’t use it, or substitute paprika.)
- Dash of ground black pepper
- Peanut oil, total amount approximately 2 Tablespoon (You can easily swap this out for canola oil or olive oil or any oil that can take high heat. Do NOT use extra virgin olive oil.)
- Fresh orange juice, 4 Tablespoons
- Soy sauce, 2 teaspoons
- Rice vinegar, 1 Tablespoon
- Fresh spinach, 4 ounces (or a couple of large handfuls if you don’t have a scale)
- Mandarin oranges, 2 diced
- Sprinkle Five-Spice, cayenne, and black pepper on chicken breasts. Add about a tablespoon of peanut oil to a skillet and heat to medium-high. Once the pan is nice and hot, add chicken breasts. Once one side is seared, flip and sear the other side. Once seared, reduce the heat to about medium to medium-low. Cover the skillet with a piece of foil. I prefer foil over a lid because it allows steam to escape and the chicken breast maintains the sear. Continue cooking until the chicken is at least 165 degrees, approximately 20 minutes. I always cook mine a little longer just because I like chicken that way. And if you properly seared it, it will remain juicy (unless you let it cook for an hour;).
- Once chicken is fully cooked, remove from pan and keep warm. In the same skillet, add another tablespoon of peanut oil, orange juice, soy sauce, rice vinegar. Add chopped chestnuts and chopped beets. Stir all ingredients together, loosening the chicken bits on the bottom of the skillet. Increase temperature to medium-high and bring to a boil. Once a boil is reached, reduce heat and simmer for about 3 minutes. Add spinach and gently toss until the spinach is wilted.
- Place a nice amount of the chestnut mixture on a plate and top with a chicken breast. Serve with a side of Baby Mash Potatoes, and call it a night!
Ginger Baby Mash Potatoes (No red-heads were harmed in the making of this recipe.)
I love these Baby Dutch Yellow Potatoes. The roast so nicely! I received the same potatoes from Melissa’s during the last challenge, and I couldn’t resist preparing them the same way, but I had to mix it up a little!
- Baby Dutch Yellow Potatoes, 1 1/2 pounds
- Olive oil, approximately 1 1/2 tablespoons
- Melissa’s Peeled and Steamed Baby Potatoes, 17.6 ounces, rinsed
- Greek non-fat yogurt, 6 tablespoons
- Milk, 6 tablespoons
- Fresh ground ginger, 2 teaspoons (You can add more if you prefer a stronger ginger flavor.)
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Rinse and dry the baby Dutch Yellow Potatoes. I halved the potatoes lengthwise, and place in a mixing bowl. Drizzle olive oil over them (about a Tablespoon or so), and sprinkled them with fresh ground pepper and some salt. This really is about what you like. As I mentioned in the previous post, I like a lot of pepper and not too much salt, so I would suggest eyeballing it. Just remember you can always add more after they have roasted, but you can’t take any away! Place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet, cover them with foil, place in a 425 degree pre-heated oven, and wait until they have softened. Ovens can vary, so check them after about 20 minutes. Once they are soft, remove the foil cover and place them back into the oven. Roast until they are the golden color you prefer. Make sure to flip and move the potatoes around once while they are browning. This step will take about 20-30 minutes, depending on your oven. Once they are browned to your liking, set them aside to cool.
- Place peeled and steamed baby potatoes in a large mixing bowl. With a potato masher, roughly mash the potatoes, and add the yogurt, milk, ginger, salt and pepper. Once the Baby Dutch potatoes have cooled, break them down cutting them into smaller pieces. Add small pieces to the potato mash mix. With the potato masher, continue mashing the ingredients together. I left mine a little rustic (Or in non-fancy words, chunky.)
- Simply reheat the potatoes in a microwave until heated through.
This was another fun challenge, and I can’t thank Melissa’s enough for the ingredients provided. Even though I received free stuff, all opinions are all mine! I can’t wait to see what other Food Bloggers created with these items! And I look forward to using the cookbook, but that might have to wait until after Christmas!
In case I can’t write again before the Holidays, I hope everyone has a fun, safe, and memorable eating experiences! Looking forward to writing many more posts in 2015!
And check out what other Bloggers created:
Take Care and Happy Eating!
I was walking around the other day in 86 degree weather looking for new Winter clothes to buy. What the what??? It started getting
warm hot sweltering back in May, and I don’t feel a cool down coming anytime soon! The only glimpse of Fall I’ve seen is around 6am when I get out of bed and the floors feel cold. Like my favorite TV personality says, “That ain’t right!!!!” I love Turko. When it’s that hot, it’s hard to get into the cooking mood. Fortunately, there are some great options for eating out!
Recently, I was invited to Whole Foods La Jolla to check out the new menu at their casual Restaurant & Bar, Torrey Pints. Having a night away from the kitchen sounded pretty good! There is a full bar where you can either belly up with a great beer tap list, grab a large tables for big groups, or pick a small table for individuals or smaller parties, or grab food for carry out. They have live music and it’s open to the grocery store, so it has a very energetic feeling. You can go to the website (http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/lajolla) and find the events calendar to check on when musicians will be performing.
If you are in the mood for a movie night, I would recommend grabbing some appetizers and some drinks before heading over to La Jolla Village Cinemas (http://www.landmarktheatres.com/market/SanDiego/LaJollaVillageCinemas.htm). Entrées are served as well, but I felt like the vibe and menu lent itself more to smaller plates and beverages.
I must add that I was invited for a complimentary meal by Jennifer at Whole Foods, however my opinions are 100% my own.
If you aren’t in the mood to eat out, here is a recipe that works whether you live in a place that is 35 degrees or 86 degrees. I bought a Crock Pot about a year ago. Yep, it was the first one I’ve ever owned, and I ignore it. I don’t know why. When I use it, I love it. I need to use it more often.
Some Slow Cooker recipes are simply throwing ingredients into the cookware and letting it cook for several hours. This one requires a little prepping of the ingredients, but it is well worth the small amount of effort. The original recipe is from Cooking Light, but I’ve made a couple of changes. For the original recipe, go to: http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/chicken-chickpea-tagine.
Chicken and Chickpea Stew
1 1/2 tablespoons Grapeseed oil
8 chicken thighs, skinned and deboned (about 1 pound or so)
1 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 1/2 cups chopped sweet onion
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 cup unsalted chicken stock
1 1/2 teaspoons honey
1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick
1 cup chopped dried apricots
2 (15-ounce) cans organic chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup cilantro leaves
1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Sprinkle meaty side of chicken with black pepper. Add chicken to pan, meaty side down; cook 5 minutes or until well browned. Remove from pan (do not brown other side).
2. Add onion and garlic to pan; sauté 4 minutes. Add cumin and next 5 ingredients (through red pepper); cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add 1 teaspoon salt, stock, honey, and cinnamon, scraping pan to loosen browned bits; bring to a simmer. Carefully pour mixture into a 6-quart electric slow cooker. Stir in apricots and chickpeas. Arrange chicken, browned side up, on top of chickpea mixture. Cover and cook on LOW for 7 hours. Discard cinnamon stick. Sprinkle with cilantro; serve with lemon wedges.
I served the stew with Freekeh. Freekeh has an almost tea-like flavor, and it is a great source of protein and fiber. You could serve this with anything, really, in order to soak up all of the flavor: farro, quinoa, or even mashed potatoes. Hope you enjoy this dish as much as Franz and I did! (FYI, I found uncooked Freekeh at Sprouts (https://www.sprouts.com/) in San Diego. I had a hard time locating it, but I’m sure it will become more popular soon!
Also, I just received a box of complimentary goodies from Melissa’s (http://www.melissas.com/). I’ve been put to another challenge to create a recipe! I will post my creation, along with other San Diego Bloggers’, on November 18th. Make sure to check it out!
Take Care and Happy Eating!
My last post discussed FINALLY going to places that have been on “the list”. You know, that list of restaurants you make that you intend to visit in the near future? The one that keeps growing? The one where Juniper and Ivy was added to it before it even opened in March, but have yet to go? (Side note, I do have reservations there in a couple of weeks – FINALLY! I briefly digress.) That list that continues to grow, but you find yourself, once again, at Pizza Port in OB ordering another delicious pie and a pint? Please tell me you do so that you make me feel better.
I try very hard not to be that way with the dinners I make at home, but there is a particular comfort in making a dish that you know what you need, the steps you need to take, and that it will turn out to be a delicious meal while you watch Brian Williams deliver the news in yet another stunning tie. We love Brian Williams in my house. I won’t say who loves him the most. So back to the dinner recipes! With the heat San Diego has been experiencing, it has been hard to think of new and refreshing meals. Grilling or sautéing chicken (because I don’t want to leave the air-conditioned comfort of my house) and serving it over a salad is getting SO played.
I fell in love with this recipe that was emailed to me by Food and Wine. The recipe online is not complete for some reason, so the one below has my changes and additions. If you would like to see the original recipe, go to http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/tomato-and-peach-salad-with-crisp-tofu. It is so refreshing, and you can easily play around with the ingredient list if there’s something you want to add or delete. I would really hesitate from deleting any items. I ended up not using all of the dressing that I had made, so dinner for the following night was already on my mind.
First Night: Tomato and Peach Salad with Crisp Tofu
- 2 Serrano chiles, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
- 2 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
- 2 tablespoon fresh lime juice
- 2 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
- 2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1/2 cup plus 6 tablespoons canola oil or grape seed oil
- 24 ounces extra-firm tofu, drained well and cubed
- 2 heirloom tomatoes, sliced
- 2 peaches, cut into wedges
- 2 cups arugula
- 1 cup basil leaves
- Put the serranos in a small heat proof bowl. In a small saucepan, bring 1/2 cup of water to a boil with the vinegar, sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of salt, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Pour the brine over the serranos and let stand for 15 minutes, until cooled to room temperature. If you are not a huge fan of heat, you can easily omit this ingredient. However, the sweetness from the peaches and the peppery quality of the arugula tastes awesome with the candied Serrano. Another option, you could finely chopped the chiles and add them to the dressing in order to spread the “heat wealth”.
- Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk the soy sauce, lime juice, ginger, mustard and 6 tablespoons of the oil. (Here is where you could add the chopped serrano, if you so desire.)
- In a large cast-iron skillet, heat the remaining 1/2 cup of oil until shimmering. Add the tofu, season with salt, and cook over moderate heat, turning, until crisp, 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a paper towel–lined plate. (*Add only enough tofu to the pan so that it can properly brown. Add more oil if needed between batches.)
- Once the tofu has cooled, place the tofu in a large mixing bowl. Add the tomatoes, peaches, arugula, and basil. If you didn’t add the serranos to the dressing, add those in at this time. I added about half of the chiles. I like things spicy, but I want to taste my food as well! I also added some of the serrano brine. The amount of the Ginger Soy Dressing you can add really depends on you. I used about 2 Tablespoons. Gently mix all of the ingredients together. (*The amount of tofu I sautéed may be more than you will need. However, if you have leftovers, add it to a salad the next day for lunch:)
A week earlier I noticed, and clipped, a recipe in the local paper. I used that recipe as a springboard for the salad I made last night using the leftover dressing from the Tomato and Peach Salad with Crisp Tofu (http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2014/sep/09/get-fresh-cool-ideas-cucumbers/).
Second Night: Megan’s Quick Chilled Shrimp, Cucumber and Soba Noodle Salad
- 6 ounces soba noodles
- 1 pound cooked shrimp (bought uncooked shrimp from Trader Joe’s and sautéed)
- 1½ cups sliced cucumbers
- 1 cup shredded carrots
- 1/2 cup (or more) mint
- 1/2 cup cilantro
- 3 to 4 scallions, thinly sliced
- sliced serranos left over from the previous evening’s dinner
- Left over dressing from previous evening’s dinner. I used about 2 Tablespoons of dressing, but you can add as much or as little as you like. My husband and I eat large portions, so the recipes above were enough for the 2 of us. If you are cooking for 1, I would still make these portions and then you have lunch for the next day or two.
- Cook soba noodles as directed on the package. If you are like me and buy your shrimp frozen and raw, cook shrimp, let them cool and add to a large salad bowl. If you buy them precooked, just go ahead and add them to the bowl as is. Add cooked and cooled noodles to the bowl. Add cucumbers, carrots, mint, cilantro, scallions, serranos (if you like a little heat), and as much dressing as you like. Mix all ingredients together.
On a final note, even though it feels like a nice Summer day in the Sahara Desert, Fall is quickly approaching. Ever since I became a coffee drinker, I haven’t been able to enjoy what used to be a favorite beverage of mine, Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks. It just tastes too sweet and fake. I had a free beverage coming my way, so I decided to try an Iced Pumpkin Spice Latte (Venti because it was free, of course.) but opted out of the 6 shots of flavor (Can you imagine???), and I requested just one flavor shot. Also, I requested non fat milk and an extra shot of espresso. Perfection. The only problem is that it was probably a $6 drink, so I will have to wait for another freebie before I order another one!
Enjoy the last few days of Summer! Take Care and Happy Eating!
I have a short list of favorite dining establishments. I know if I want pizza, I go to Luigi’s. If I want a great view, I go to Mister A’s (awesome happy hour, by the way). If I want fish tacos, well, that’s still up for debate. Every weekend, the same question arises: Where should we go out to eat tonight? I read about so many new places, and I add the new spots to my list. But when Friday night rolls around, my husband and I usually hit the same old restaurants. Why? Because we know they are good! I hate trying a new place and thinking “Why didn’t we go to Blind Lady for their frites and a pizza?” However, I really do like trying new places, and sometimes I have to force myself out of the rut.
This past weekend, Franz and I got out of our comfort zone and hit places we’ve been wanting to check out. We went to 6 places, and (SPOILER ALERT) we enjoyed every single spot!
First up to bat was a taco truck that I have heard about FOREVER, Mariscos Nine Seas Seafood. More intriguing was that whenever I passed the parking lot for Gala Foods Grocery store, I always saw hoards of people crowding around the truck. I ordered 2 fried fish tacos, and Franz got 2 fried and 1 grilled. There are a few unlabeled self-serve hot sauces, which I greatly appreciated. And unlabeled hot sauces is about as far as I go in adventure seeking, so that was right up my alley. I love the food truck concept, however I’m not a fan of eating in a parking lot. I like the idea of grabbing one or two of these bad boys for a very small amount of money as a way to start my night. It’s what my husband would call an amuse-bouche. Then again, he could call a rack of lamb the same thing.
Right across the street is The South Park Abbey. Again, we always drive by it, but we’ve never taken the time to stop. So batter number two? Another hit. We only had the opportunity to have drinks here, but the food that was coming out of the kitchen looked tasty. The wings seemed to be a big hit. What I love about this place is that it is super dog friendly, has a great view of the outside world passing by and they have a happy hour. I had a Delirium Red in Brussels over the Summer, so I wanted to try it Stateside. It came out a little murky compared to the one (or 2 or 3) I had in Brussels, but it tasted good. This is a place my dog would love, so this will be visited again in the near future.
Next up was Thorn St. Brewery which hit it out of the park (http://thornstreetbrew.com/). I love the vibe of small tasting rooms, and this fit the bill. There is an outdoor area in the back of the building, so in case you feel like enjoying the San Diego weather, there is a spot for you. It’s also dog friendly, so of course I love this place. They don’t serve food, but there was a sausage truck right outside the front door, and Pho Realz was a few steps away, and you can bring food in (http://phorealzsd.com/). Franz and I opted for a taster of the beers. We’ve seen Thorn St.’s beers here and there, but we never knew just how many they brewed. I will note that they quickly sold out of many of their beers while we were there, so I suggest getting there a little early.
It was a tough choice between the two food trucks, but we saw a guy chowing down on a Banh-Mi and that sold us. In addition to the sandwich, we ordered Bun Cha-Cha-Cha which is a delicious cold rice vermicelli dish with BBQ Pork and egg rolls. The Banh-Mi was super spicy, which I love, and it didn’t feel heavy or greasy.
Oh, and that was just Friday! Saturday, we went for a long, and very needed, run in the morning. That also helped us to prepare ourselves for dinner later at Sea180. I’ve wanted to check this place out ever since it opened, but Imperial Beach is a little bit of a haul. We decided to make the journey South, and we were greatly awarded with a spectacular ocean view. We arrived a little early for our reservation, so we took advantage of the Happy Hour that goes until 5pm everyday and had a glass of wine and a Hamachi Poke appetizer while watching the waves from the bar area. We felt like we left our home faraway and went on a tropical vacation.
Sunday was another hot but beautiful day in San Diego, so Franz and I decided to go for a long walk starting at Mission Beach. My real intention was to check out Draft . I have family coming into town next month, and I thought this might be the kind of spot they would enjoy. I was inside this place before it was renovated, and I had no interest in ever going back. Thank God someone changed this to a place that is deserving of the location. It is wide open so that it takes full advantage of the ocean front property. The inside has multiple screens for sports events, and one entire wall was showing video from someone wearing a video camera while skateboarding down the boardwalk. There are almost 70 beers on tap, and many of them are actually good! I associate beach bars with Budweiser and Coors, but Draft had many local brews and even a couple of Belgians. Franz and I split (unheard of for us, just so you know) a Fried Chicken Sandwich. The bun was fresh and tasty, and we loved the pickled onions and cabbage on it. The fries were hot and delicious, and I could have easily had a bucket size portion of them!
It was so nice to get out there and check out some new places, and it was even better that every place was so good. I think we have found a few places that will be added to our “Usual Haunts List”! Have you checked out any new places lately that you would recommend? Let me know! I’d love to hear about them!
I have a lot to fill you guys in on – trips to Amsterdam and Belgium, Cabo, San Francisco, Portland, OR, a big birthday for me, and some really tasty and easy recipes I discovered over the Summer. I can’t wait to share!
Until next time, take care and happy eating!!
The San Diego Food Bloggers are at it again! Several of us were sent another box of goodies from Melissa’s Produce http://www.melissas.com/ . Not sure what I’m talking about? Check out my blog from March 19th, Melissa’s Produce San Diego Food Bloggers Challenge, to read all about this company.
This time I received a box containing several nectarines, 1 Korean Melon, 8 Rhubarb Stalks, a bunch of Fava Beans, Peaches, a Coconut and an opener, and a jar of Hatch Salsa. There was a delay in receiving the shipment due to the local fires and crazy weather, so the timing wasn’t the best for me. And it was about 100 degrees on the Coast. Enough of my moaning. We don’t get to complain often in San Diego, so just humor me. I loved the challenge placed before me! Really, I did!
I knew when I saw the Rhubarb, that was a must. Rhubarb is one of my most favorite things in the world. I made a rhubarb cocktail last year. I really need to do that again!! But back to this challenge! I decided to create a flat bread and top it with rhubarb, nectarines, peaches, and goat cheese. I had never tried a Korean Melon, and I was limited on time, so I opted to set that aside. I wanted something to serve alongside of the flatbread, so I made a Farro Salad with Fava Beans and Tomatoes.
Since I had some goat cheese on hand, I crumbled some more goat cheese into the salad. Why not? If I could get away with goat cheese in my coffee, I would. This flatbread turned out to be so good that my husband and I ate the whole thing in one night. Don’t judge us! You try to stop halfway!!
Thyme To Eat Your Fruit Flatbread!
1 cup warm water (105-115 degrees F)
1 package active yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
2.5 to 3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Several sprigs of fresh thyme (extra to sprinkle on top)
3 Tablespoon olive oil
6 fresh rhubarb stalks, trimmed and chopped
2 nectarines, chopped
3 peaches, chopped
4 oz goat cheese (You can really add however much you like. I could easily add way more.)
Cornmeal for dusting
1) In a small bowl combine water, yeast and sugar. Let stand 10 minutes or until foamy.
2)In a large bowl combine 2 cups of flour and salt. Add yeast mixture, thyme, and 2 Tablespoons of olive oil. Stir until combined. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface. Knead in additional flour until dough becomes smooth and elastic.
3) Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl; turn to coat. Cover; let rise 30 minutes or until double in size.
4) Preheat oven to 475 degrees F. Grease a large baking sheet; sprinkle lightly with cornmeal. Set aside. Punch down dough. Roll and shape until the dough is the size of the entire baking sheet. Transfer to prepared baking sheet. Gently press the rhubarb, nectarines, and peaches into shaped dough. Top with crumbled goat cheese and sprinkle with extra thyme. With a pastry brush, brush remaining olive oil over the flatbread.
5) Bake 18 minutes or until flatbread is the desired color and the fruit is tender. I turned the broiler on for an additional few minutes to get it a little crisper. Remember to never leave the room and keep an eye on it because broilers can work fast!!
Make sure to check out this link and read what the other Food Bloggers created! And huge THANK YOU goes out to Melissa’s Produce! Once again, you sent a wonderful box of tasty treats!! Thanks again! Take Care and Happy Eating! An InLinkz Link-up
How often do you cook dinner? I usually cook dinner 5 nights a week. That’s a lot of meals. As much as enjoy trying new recipes and making some up, I have those dishes that I always revisit throughout the year. As a kid, my mom’s favorite go-to meals were meatloaf, perch, spaghetti with jarred Ragu, and liver and onions. There was always a half-gallon of milk on the table, and it always had this orange plastic holder with a handle. Why? I’m not sure. Where did my Mom even get that thing? And where did it go?
My go-to meals are salmon (either seared or in cake form), big salads with a ton of stuff in it, good old pasta with a tomato sauce (and I admit, often it is Barilla), and some kind of grain salad, like wheat berry or Farro, with roasted veggies and chicken. But because I cook a lot of meals, I don’t want to get too repetitive, so I look everywhere for new ideas.
I made a meal the other night from an article in the San Diego Union Tribune (http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2014/Apr/08/Armenian-cookbook-vegan-eggplant-casserole/), and Franz claimed it is one of his favorites. It is so simple to make, it smells awesome, and it is delicious. This will be added to my “go-to” meals without a doubt. The creator of the recipe, Dikranouhi Kirazian, is a local San Diegan who just published Armenian Vegan: A Pure Vegan Cookbook with 200+Recipes Using No Animal Products. I might have come up with a sexier title, but if this recipe is a good example of the rest of her work, I will have to buy this one!
Eggplant Casserole (Any notes in parenthesis, highlighted and in italics are my notes or additions.)
Serves 2 to 4
2 large eggplants
Olive oil (for brushing eggplant)
Salt, pepper and garlic powder, to taste (or any herbs you prefer that can withstand being broiled)
For the sauce
2 medium onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped (I added more because I love garlic.)
1⁄4 cup olive oil
2 cups sliced mushrooms (I added more because I love mushrooms.)
2 bay leaves
1⁄2 teaspoon oregano
1⁄2 teaspoon dried basil
15-ounce can diced tomatoes
8-ounce can tomato sauce (I had a 15 oz jar of tomato sauce from Trader Joe’s, so I added the whole thing. I like it a little saucy!)
Wash eggplant and cut into 1⁄2-inch-thick round slices. Place slices on a large tray, brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder ( I had some Santa Maria seasoning that I wanted to use, so I sprinkled that on them.). Turn slices over and repeat on other side. Put under a broiler preheated to between 350 and 400 degrees (I put my oven to 425 degrees to achieve the necessary browning), and broil both sides until a light golden brown. When done, remove from oven and set aside.(I opted to slice each round in half after broiling. I figured it would be a little easier to eat.)
Prepare the sauce while eggplant is cooking: Chop onions and garlic and sauté for several minutes in small amount of olive oil; then add the rest of the olive oil, mushrooms and all other spices. Add diced tomatoes and tomato sauce, and stir frequently. Cook on medium heat for 10-15 minutes, then turn off heat.
Prepare for baking: Pour several spoons of sauce on the bottom of an 11-by-7-inch or 9-by-9-inch casserole dish. Layer the bottom of casserole dish with eggplant slices. Spoon some of the sauce on this layer; then add new layers, spooning sauce over each. Be sure to keep some sauce to pour over top layer.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and bake casserole dish for 30 to 40 minutes. Serve hot, as a main dish with rice or any pasta, and with a crunchy baguette. Can also be served cold as an appetizer. (I served this with Barilla’s Linguine.)
Sorry there are no photos. I didn’t take a picture because I didn’t realize how much I would love it, and the leftovers didn’t look very pretty. However, if you go to the UT link noted in the beginning, there is a beautiful photo!
I couldn’t leave you without one image. I found my childhood milk holder!
Take Care and Happy Eating!
Recently, I received an email from Barbara from Barbara Cooks (http://www.barbaracooks.com/) asking if the bloggers of San Diego might be interested in receiving a box of items from Melissa’s Produce (http://www.melissas.com/). The “Challenge” was to take what was delivered to you and create a delicious recipe. First, I love getting things shipped to me. I feel like it’s Christmas! Second, no surprise, I love food. Third, I love playing around with food to create something new. Fourth, I love knowing that a bunch of people out there have the same ingredients and will come up with very different recipes.
I’ve heard of Melissa’s Produce, but I didn’t know much about the company, which the owners, Joe and Sharon Hernandez, named after their daughter. It’s basically an online grocery store for very unique items. There’s everything from organic fruit baskets to organic blue agave syrup to Pinot Noir and Chestnut basket. Can’t find Armenian cucumbers at your grocery store or Farmers’ Market? Just go to Melissa’s Produce. There are a ton of recipes online created by their five Corporate Chefs. Say you bought quinoa at your grocery store and you don’t know how to cook it, or maybe you’ve cooked it a million times and you need a fresh idea for dinner. Just type in “quinoa” on the website’s recipe search engine, and several recipes are at your fingertips. Maybe Muscato Cashew Quinoa will strike your fancy. My only question, are you hiring, Melissa’s Produce???
I must admit that this service is pricey. Here’s what I received: Fava Beans (shelled, steamed, and ready to eat, 8.8 ounces), Baby Beets (peeled, steamed, and ready to eat, 8 ounces), Brussel Sprouts (10 ounces), Leeks (cleaned and sliced, 6 ounces), Red Quinoa (6 ounces), Dried Chanterelle (.5 ounces), Baby Dutch Yellow Potatoes (1.5 pounds), and Ojai Pixie Tangerines (1 pound). I received smaller quantities than if I were to have ordered the items myself. I estimate the total amount for the portions I received to be around $40. For certain items, overnight shipping is required, so you can add almost $20 for the FedEx delivery. Everything I received was in perfect condition and tasted great.
My mom was visiting from Cleveland, Ohio when the shipment arrived. She was excited to see what was in the box and what I’d make with it. A few days after I received the box, I just started sautéing things. My Mom asked what my plan was, and I honestly wasn’t certain. It just kind of came together. We were talking, and I’d roast Brussels Spouts. We’d talk more, and I chopped Fava Beans. We’d talk some more, and I sautéed leeks and cook quinoa. Next thing I knew, I created Quinoa Stuffed Chicken with a Spicy Soy Orange Glaze and, as I call it, Mish Mosh Potato Salad.
For the potato salad, I halved the Baby Dutch Yellow Potatoes and put them, sliced side down, onto a baking sheet lined with parchment. I covered the sheet with foil and put them into the oven at around 400 degrees. Once the potatoes were soft, I removed the foil, flipped those bad Dutch Babies over and continued cooking them in the oven until they were nicely browned. I roasted the Brussel Sprouts in the oven at around 400 degrees, as well, until they were browned and softened slightly. Once I removed them from the oven, I did a rough chop on those lovely mini cabbages. I placed the potatoes and Brussel Sprouts in a large bowl and added the Red Beets which I roughly chopped, as well. I took walnut oil and balsamic vinegar, whisked it until it emulsified, and added it to the potato salad. I usually do a ratio of one part vinegar to two parts oil, but I must admit I don’t really measure. I added a little salt and pepper, too, and that was it!
Like I mentioned earlier, this was a “do whatever I felt like” kind of cooking day. I love sautéing leeks and garlic, so that’s where I started. First, I sautéed the leeks in olive oil over medium to medium high heat until the softened and were golden, probably around 6 minutes. I added a few garlic cloves I had chopped and continued cooking for about a minute. I added about 2 ounces of white wine (mainly because I felt like a glass of wine while I was cooking), and I raised the heat and cooked for a few minutes. Right about then, the house smelled amazing. I had cooked the quinoa in chicken stock earlier, so I added the leek mixture to the quinoa. Earlier, I had also reconstituted the Chanterelles. I simply boil water, add the mushrooms, turn off the heat, leave the lid on, and let them sit for 30 minutes or until they have softened. I rinse the mushrooms very well after. I chopped the Chanterelles and the Fava Beans, and I added them to the quinoa mixture. I added some ground pepper and salt, to taste. The amount of quinoa filling was enough for 8-10 chicken breasts. I didn’t realize just how much it would make, but I love leftovers!
I pounded the chicken and put as much filling as I could in each breast, approximately 1/2 a cup of filling for each. I folded the chicken breast so that the filling remained inside, and I tied the chicken with kitchen twine. I put the stuffed chicken into a baking dish coated with olive oil, covered, into the oven (around 375 degrees) for about an hour, or until it reached 165 degrees internally.
While the chicken cooked, I threw together a few items I had on hand for a sauce. In a bowl, I whisked together orange juice (about 1/2 cup), soy sauce (about 4 tablespoons), agave (4 Tablespoons), white vinegar (2 healthy Tablespoons), and a couple of Tablespoons of chile paste. If you like it really spicy or not very, this amount can be catered to your taste. After whisking to combine, I placed the mixture into a pan and brought it to a boil while continuing to whisk. Once it reached a boil, I reduced the temperature and I let it simmer for about 10 minutes. It will reduce slightly and thicken. I added the chicken breasts to the pan and continued cooking at a medium heat while basting the chicken with the sauce. At this point, the chicken is cooked, I just wanted to really infuse the chicken with the flavors of the sauce. I got the idea of doing an orange juice based sauce because of the tangerines in the shipment. I decided to simply eat the tangerines as a dessert. It was a perfect meal, if I do say so myself!
I can’t wait to read what other local bloggers created! What a fun idea! A huge “Thank You” goes out to Barbara and Melissa’s Produce!
Take Care and Happy Eating!
Here is the link to see all of the Bloggers who participated: An InLinkz Link-up