Saturday, December 27, 2014

DINNER: Put-a-Ring-On-It Three Bean, Beef Chili

three-bean beef chiliThis recipe will result in the best chili you have ever had...period. I can brag about this recipe because Whole & Heavenly Oven.  I made a few tweaks to the recipe, and voila, I made my first chili! My Nebraska-born husband said it is the best chili he has ever tasted, and if we weren't already married, it might drive him to put a ring on it!
the base recipe isn't mine. I modified it from a great food blog,

Servings: 7-10

Ingredients
  • 1 pound lean ground beef (I used 97% lean ground beef made at my local butcher)
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 5-6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 roma tomatoes chopped roughly (think small cubes)
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder or cayenne pepper...no more, no less
  • 1.5 teaspoons sugar (brown or white)
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon ground cumin 
  • 1 20-25 ounce jar tomato sauce (and plain pasta sauce will do - I used the basil-tomato pasta sauce I had in my cupboard)
  • 8 ounces of tomato paste (I prefer jarred paste for health reasons)
  • 1 1⁄2 cups water
  • 1-2 cups of broth (chicken, veggie or beef all work)
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 (15 ounce) can light red kidney beans
  • 1 (15 ounce) can chickpeas
  • 1 (15 ounce) can black beans
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • Toppings: shredded cheese, sour cream, onion, olives, cilantro (any one or all of the above)
Instructions
  1. In a large saucepan, saute onions and garlic for at least 3-5 minutes or until onions brown
  2. Add jalapeno and bell pepper and continue to saute for at least 3-5 minutes
  3. Add ground beef- begin to separate it immediately. 
  4. Add chili powder (or cayenne powder), cumin, and 1/2 tbsp of black pepper. Cook for at least 7-10 minutes.
  5. In a pot, add diced tomato, tomato sauce, tomato paste, water, and broth. Add ground beef mixture and beans. 
  6. Add 1/2 tbsp of black pepper, salt and apple cider vinegar to the pot. Simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  If too thick, add a little more water or broth. If too thin, cook on high until the broth reduces.
  7. Enjoy! Be sure to add toppings. I really like cheddar cheese and olives with a side of nicely toasted sourdough bread, but the choice is yours!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

ARTICLE: Guest Blog Post, "Food & Consciousness"

I had the opportunity to right a guest post on Love, Inshallah's blog.  You can read the whole article here. Otherwise, feel free to follow my tagine recipe from the post below...

Recipe: Drought-Compatible Chicken, Vegetable & Potato Tagine 
This recipe is based on my recent discovery of a culinary homonym, the tagine. The tagine is both a Moroccan earthenware cooking dish and a savory dish cooked in the aforementioned dish. It is drought friendly as it requires very little water to cook a significant amount of food. I first discovered the tagine at a small Moroccan eatery in Paris, and I have been hooked ever since. Though the tagine is typically prepared as a stew, I cook out the water to create a delicious meat and rice dish.
Tagine
Serving Size: 3-4
Ingredients:
  • 1 chicken, cut into large pieces (soak in vinegar before preparing recipe)
  • 1/2 pound of baby carrots
  • 1/2 pack of frozen, organic peas
  • 4-5 medium sized potatoes cut into medium chunks
  • 2 onions, chopped (roughly)
  • 2 tbsp of crushed garlic or garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup of barley or farrow
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • Handful of chopped parsley
  • Spice mix
    • 1 tbsp of sea salt
    • 1 tbsp of black pepper
    • 1 tsp of paprika
    • 1 tsp of cumin
    • 1 tsp of cinnamon
    • 1 tsp turmeric
Instructions:
  • Spread a bit of olive oil around the bottom of the tagine (just a quick swirl)
  • Line the bottom of the tagine with the barley, onions, potatoes, and carrots
  • Pour in the water
  • Layer chicken on top of your base
  • Pour olive oil on top of the chicken
  • Layer on spices, garlic, and lemon
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 2.5-3 hours – check in on your tagine at the top of hour 2
  • Remove the cover and let the water cook out
  • Garnish with fresh parsley. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

BREAKFAST/BRUNCH/SNACK: Mushroom, Spinach Quiche with a Potato Crust

What says brunch like a good quiche? Nothing! This recipe is incredibly easy and is a total crowd pleaser.  Enjoy!

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 pound of potatoes, peeled and shredded
  • 4 cloves chopped garlic
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 16 ounces of spinach (frozen or fresh)
  • 1 small mushroom basket
  • 8-12 oz. of your favorite shredded cheese blend
  • Salt, pepper, and paprika
  • 4 beaten eggs
  • 1 cup milk
Instructions:
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F
  2. Lightly grease a 9-inch glass or ceramic pie dish with 1/4 teaspoon oil. Toss potatoes with 1 teaspoon oil and 1/8 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Press into an even layer in pie dish, up the sides like a crust. Bake until golden brown at the edges and dry, about 20 minutes. Let cool
  3. Decrease oven heat to 350 F
  4. Melt butter over medium heat in medium skillet. Add garlic and onion and saute about 7 minutes until lightly browned.
  5. Stir in mushrooms, spinach, and cheese. Add salt, paprika, pepper to taste.
  6. Spoon into pie crust.
  7. Whisk eggs and milk together in medium bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour into pie dish
  8. Bake for 15 minutes. Sprinkle with the rest of the cheese and bake 35 to 40 minutes more, or until set.
  9. Allow to cool 10 minutes before serving.

Monday, June 16, 2014

BREAKFAST/DESSERT: Matcha Green Tea Greek Yogurt

I'm old enough to remember Pinkberry's first location in West Hollywood; and so old that I even remember their first flavor, Green Tea.  It was the perfect blend of yogurt, tang, sweetness, and matcha. I was in love; I fought LA traffic three of four nights a week just to get my hands on this yogurt goodness. Unfortunately, the relationship sizzled when I started eating healthier and started avoiding what I considered to be "extra" ingredients.

Fast forward a decade, I accidentally recreated a treat of the past. This is a super easy recipe - enjoy!

Servings: 3-4

Ingredients:
  • 2-3 cups of Greek yogurt - try Fage 0
  • 3 tbsp of Grade A maple syrup
  • 1/2 - 1 tsp of matcha green tea powder
Instructions:
  • Simply mix all ingredients together with a large spoon 
  • Refrigerate and garnish with your favorite toppings (berries, mochi, etc).

Sunday, June 1, 2014

BREAKFAST: Flourless, High-Protein Oatcakes

Pancakes are great, but sometimes can be a waste of calories. I tried a quick and easy recipe for a pancake alternative...let's call them oatcakes. The recipe is simple, and the end product is incredibly filling and healthy:

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup quick-cook oats
  • 2 eggs, only use one yolk
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp of ghee or canola oil
Instructions:
  • Whip your eggs and add in all of your ingredients
  • Add oats if the mix if it is too thin, or add a bit of milk if the mix is too dry
  • Heat the oil slightly
  • Spread the mix out in a pancake shape on the pan
  • Cook each side for 3-4 minutes on medium heat 
  • Top with chopped fruits and don't forget to drizzle your oatcakes with pure
    grade b maple syrup!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

DESSERT: Homemade Strawberry Shortcakes


Strawberry shortcakes are the quintessential dessert of summer. I decided to make mine in late spring...because I'm in California, and our spring might as well be summer (I'm not rubbing it in cold-weather folks, I promise).  This recipe is perfect - no modifications needed. I'm not bragging, because it's not my recipe, it's from chefinyou.com.

The only modifications I made to the recipe are the following:
  • I didn't have whole milk for the shortcakes (really, they're sweet biscuits), so I used half evaporated milk and half low-fat milk
  • For the half of the strawberries that need to be mushed, I used frozen berries, and put them over the stovetop (with 3 tbsp of brown sugar).  I cooked them down until they were mostly dry and used this mix as the first layer of strawberry on top of the shortcake.
  • I used a mason jar ring as my biscuit cutter

Sunday, April 6, 2014

DINNER: Chicken, Potato & Vegetable Tagine

What is a tagine? Technically, it's a type of dish that is cooked in earthenware with a coned lid.  In
actuality, most folks refer to any Moroccan slow-cooked stew as a tagine.  These can be sweet & spice or just savory, and can be made with chicken, meat, or fish.  They typically include vegetables of fruit and use spices like ginger, cumin, cinnamon, and saffron.  The tajine (the earthenware this time, not the entree) pot traps steam, which allows the condensed liquid to return to the dish.  Basically, the tagine is a slow cooker...

I recently bought a large tagine at Sur La Table (only $29.99 mind you), and decided to use it right away.  I found that the tagine made for incredibly easy cooking...you literally toss everything into the bottom part of the tagine, and let it cook.

Serving Size: 3-4

Ingredients:
  • 1 chicken, cut into large pieces (soak in vinegar before preparing recipe)
  • 1/2 pound of baby carrots
  • 1/2 pack of frozen, organic peas
  • 4-5 medium sized potatoes cut into medium chunks
  • 2 onions, chopped (roughly)
  • 2 tbsp of crushed garlic or garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup of barley or farrow
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • Handful of chopped parsley
  • Spice mix
    • 1 tbsp of sea salt
    • 1 tbsp of black pepper
    • 1 tsp of paprika
    • 1 tsp of cumin
    • 1 tsp of cinnamon
    • 1 tsp turmeric
 Instructions:
  • Spread a bit of olive oil around the bottom of the tagine  (just a quick swirl)
  • Line the bottom of the tagine with the barley, onions, potatoes, and carrots
  • Pour in the water
  • Layer chicken on top of your base
  • Pour olive oil on top of the chicken
  • Layer on spices, garlic, and lemon
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 2.5-3 hours - check in on your tagine 2 hours in
  • Garnish with fresh parsley. Enjoy!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

DINNER: The Ultimate Roast Chicken

Roast chicken is a dinner classic.  How could I continue experimenting with other recipes until I
mastered this very basic, and very elegant main dish? I couldn't.  I set my sights on perfecting my roast chicken; I pored over all kinds of recipes, including Thomas Keller's.  I learned that the key to making an amazing roast chicken was keeping the bird dry - apparently a moist bird creates steam in the oven, which results in a dry chicken.

Here's what I came up with...hope you enjoy it as much as I did:

Serving Size: 3-4

Ingredients:
  • One whole chicken - skin on, guts removed
  • Sea salt
  • Pepper
  • Crushed garlic (bottled is fine)
  • Vinegar
Instructions:
  • Preheat oven to 420 degrees
  • Defrost your chicken naturally (i.e. don't use the microwave)
  • Soak the chicken in vinegar (I use full strength white vinegar, and simply soak the chicken in a bowl of it - turn the chicken in the vinegar bath until all sides have soaked for at least 5 minutes) - this gets rid of the foul chicken smell, which is incredibly strong when you reheat chicken
  • Remove the chicken from the vinegar bath - dry the chicken inside and out with a paper towel
  • Lift the skin and apply crushed garlic directly onto the chicken (underneath the skin)
  • Generously coat the chicken in sea salt - a tablespoon should do the job
  • Sprinkle black pepper all over the chicken
  • Put the chicken on a rack (or slotted plate) over a tray. I didn't have a rack so I used chopsticks to prop my chicken above a pie plate (and placed chopped potatoes underneath the bird - these cooked in the released chicken juices)
  • Bake for 50-60 minutes - try to avoid opening the oven until at least 45 minutes into the baking process




Thursday, April 3, 2014

DESSERT: Classic Apple Pie with Butter Crust (and Lattice Top)

Apple pie is the ultimate feel good dessert.  Though I love chocolate, I'd take a good slice of apple pie over a chocolate cake any day (well, maybe not a flourless molten cake, but I digress).  The absolute key to a good apple pie is a well made crust.  I typically make low fat, and low calorie graham or even plain-cracker crusts constructed with just enough butter to bind the crumbs, but I went with a classic butter crust and pie top for this beauty.

Ingredients:
  • Crust (from the must-have book How to Cook Everything (Completely Revised 10th Anniversary Edition) by  
    • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
    • 1 teaspoon sugar 
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into about 8 pieces
    • 3 tablespoons ice water, plus more if necessary 
    • Egg wash
      • One egg beat with a tbsp of milk mixed in
  • Apple Pie Filling
    • 8 medium apples, peeled, cored, and chopped into small squares 
    • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour 
    • 3/4 cup light brown sugar 
    • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
    • Add nutmeg to taste
Instruction:
  • Crust (From How to Cook Everything (Completely Revised 10th Anniversary Edition) by  
    • Combine the flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor and pulse once or twice. Add the butter and turn on the machine; process until the butter and flour are blended and the mixture looks like cornmeal, about 10 seconds.
    • Put the mixture in a bowl and add the ice water; mix with your hands until you can form the dough into a ball, adding another tablespoon or two of ice water if necessary (if you overdo it and the mixture becomes sodden, add a little more flour). Form into two balls, wrap in plastic, and freeze for 10 minutes or refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. (You can refrigerate the dough for up to a couple of days or freeze, tightly wrapped, for up to a couple of weeks.)
    • For the pie plate: sprinkle a clean counter-top with flour, put the dough on it, and sprinkle the top with flour. Use a rolling pin to roll with light pressure from the center out. If the dough is hard, let it rest for a few minutes. If the dough is sticky, add a little flour (if it continues to become sticky, and it's taking you more than a few minutes to roll it out, refrigerate or freeze again). Roll, adding flour and rotating and turning the dough as needed; use ragged edges of dough to repair any tears, adding a drop of water while you press the patch into place. 
      • When the diameter of the dough is about 2 inches greater than that of your pie plate, drape the dough over the rolling pin to transfer it into the pie plate. Press the dough firmly into the plate all over. Refrigerate for about an hour before filling (if you're in a hurry, freeze for a half hour or so).
      • Trim the excess dough to about 1/2 inch all around, then tuck it under itself around the edge of the plate. Decorate the edges with a fork or your fingers.
      • When you're ready to bake, either fill it or prick it all over with a fork for prebaking.


Sunday, March 30, 2014

HOTSPOTS: A Few Sweet Spots in Paris

Paris is notorious for pastries and sweets.  You can go almost anywhere for a great pain au chocolat, eclair, or crepe...these are some of my recent and favorite destinations:
  • Pierre Herme - named after its founder, the macarons here are the creamiest, most luscious macarons you will find in Paris. Flavors include Olive Oil and Vanilla, and Chocolate, Fresh Ginger & Candied Ginger.Pierre Hermes is located in several locations: department stores and Versailles included.  FYI - the Ispahan was created by Pierre Hermes while he worked at Laduree
  • Laduree - While the retail locations abroad may lead you to think otherwise, the famous Paris patisserie definitely deserves a visit. Specifically, the location on Champs Elysees.  Here's the trick: don't stand in line for the retail store, go off to the right for the restaurant.  Let them know you are there for dessert, and you will get seated in their beautiful snack room downstairs (vs. upstairs for dinner). You can order macarons to go, pastries, their rich hot chocolate, and of course, the Ispahan.  I'm not sure the macarons here are the best I've had, but do visit for the ambiance if nothing else!
  • Fauchon - go here for one thing...eclairs! Fauchon fashions the most beautiful eclairs one can imagine.  If eclairs aren't your cup of tea, try their Paris Brest.  The pastry, which was created in 1891 to commemorate the Paris-Brest bike race, is supposed to be particularly good here.
  • CafĂ© du TrocadĂ©ro - go here for three things: fresh crepes,  hot chocolate, and a perfect view of the Eiffel Tower (at night of course).