Thursday, August 18, 2016

Roasted Broccolini with Black Garlic and Lemon Vinaigrette

If you have been reading for a while now, you know I basically live at Trader Joe's. I buy 90% of my groceries there and absolutely love the place. One thing I love about it, is discovering new foods. They are always coming out with new amazing products that I eventually fall in love with. One of those products: fermented black garlic. 

The taste of these almost jet black and sticky garlic is much like it has been roasted - but with a stronger and more intense flavor. It is also super good for you, any food that has been fermented tends to be really awesome for your tummy and insides. I knew I had to try it. Cruising around the store I spotted some beautiful broccolini and formulated a plan. You can use regular broccoli or really any other veg for this recipe!

What you need:
1/2 lb to 1 lb of brocollini/broccoli
3-4 cloves of black garlic
The juice of 1 lemon
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

Heat your oven to 425 degrees. Toss trimmed and cleaned broccolini in olive oil with a dash of salt and pepper. Spread out on a baking sheet and roast for about 7 minutes until slightly tender and crispy around the edges. Meanwhile, mash the garlic with about a teaspoon of sea salt. Mix in the juice of the lemon. Whisk in about a 1/4 cup of good olive oil to create a vinaigrette. Taste and season with salt and pepper accordingly. When broccolini is done, toss with the vinaigrette right away and serve. This dish is SO flavorful and sure to impress your guests. It also is amazing the next day in your lunch! I served mine with a simple salad, sautéed spicy shrimp and cauliflower puree. Yum!

Going going, back back to Cauli Cauli

I have been seeing various cauliflower recipes online for years... the intrigue being that you can use cauliflower to replace starchy carbs like potatoes, or fattening sauces like alfredo. In my mind, I always figured these recipes turned out too watery (a steamed veggie tends to have a lot of moisture) and, frankly, too cauliflower-y. What's the point? If you want to be healthy, just eat the cauliflower and don't eat the mashed potatoes. BUT, alas, I was wrong. After some research, I whipped up both a garlic mashed cauliflower so rich and amazing I fell in love... as well as a cauliflower "alfredo" sauce that could really trick anyone into eating a sauce made out of veggies. It was beyond easy, used mostly things I keep in my house, and so delicious! Recipes are below.

Cauliflower "Alfredo" Sauce
What you need:
1 head of cauliflower
4-6 cups of chicken broth
1 large yellow onion
4-6 cloves of garlic
Butter or ghee
... and that's it. Seriously. 

Bring the chicken broth to a boil, and add in cauliflower that has been trimmed and broken down into pieces. Simmer until tender... about 7 minutes. Meanwhile, slice and caramelize the onion. Add in garlic about halfway so that it cooks down until tender and slightly golden brown. In a blender, add the cooked cauliflower, about 3/4 of the chicken broth liquid it cooked in, the sautéed garlic and onion, a tablespoon or so of the butter or ghee... and blend. You can add more liquid if the "sauce" is too thick, and if you eat dairy feel free to add a little milk or cream. Add salt and pepper to taste. And prepare to be amazed at how amazing it is! Toss on your favorite pasta, add a little parmesan cheese and enjoy tricking your kids and husband into eating cauliflower. Folks, this stuff is amazing.

"Mashed" Garlic Cauliflower
What you need:
1 head of cauliflower
6 cloves of garlic
3 tablespoons reduced fat cream cheese
2 tablespoons butter or ghee
4-6 cups of chicken broth

Just like the last recipe, bring the chicken broth to a boil, and add in the cauliflower that has been trimmed and broken down into pieces. Simmer until tender... about 7 minutes. Meanwhile, either roast a whole head of garlic OR sautee sliced cloves of garlic for a couple minutes in a little butter...until tender and lightly browned. When cauliflower is done, drain and add to a food processor with garlic, cream cheese, butter/ghee and salt and pepper. Pulse until your desire "mashed potato" consistency is attained. Return to pan to keep warm or serve right away. You can also top with a little green onion or chive, bacon bits and sharp cheddar for a "loaded" mashed cauliflower experience. This is a great nutritious side dish for any meal! And tastes like you're indulging on the real deal. 

Either recipe can be tweaked for what you like, feel free to add or delete! You can use water if you don't have chicken broth, but I feel the broth really adds an extra savory richness that makes such healthy food taste ten times better. Enjoy!

Sunday, May 8, 2016

BBQ Lamb Burgers with Yogurt Sauce

While cruising the grocery aisle after work one day, my eye caught a sale on ground grassfed lamb. I am a huge fan of lamb (as long as I don't think too hard about it) and it is such a great protein to add to your rotation of recipes. The cool thing about this dish is many of the ingredients are used twice: in the burgers AND in the sauce. I made a double batch and came up with 7 huge burgers. The barbecued burgers and cool yogurt sauce were a big hit on a warm night.

What you need:
1 lb ground lamb
Chopped red onion
Minced garlic
1 egg
Dry dill
Dry mint
Onion soup mix
Worcestshire sauce
Greek Yogurt

Mix together the lamb, about 1/4 cup chopped onion, a few cloves of minced garlic, a handful of breadcrumbs, the egg, about a tablespoon of the dill, teaspoon of the mint and half the package of onion soup mix. Form the mixture into patties. Grill to desired doneness (I seared mine on each side on the bottom rack, then transferred to the top for about another 15 minutes while I cooked some veggies).

 Yogurt sauce: Mix together about a cup of Greek yogurt, some chopped red onion and fresh garlic, the same dill and mint you used for the burgers plus a little extra, salt and pepper.

To assemble burgers, throw your favorite buns on the grill to toast, spread the yogurt sauce on both sides, top with thinly sliced cucumber, red onion and a lamb burger. Enjoy!

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Lightened Up Chicken Piccata

I had never made Chicken Piccata before this dish. It sounded like something fun to try, and as I started poking around the internet I realized it can be a very buttery, and calorie laden dish. I tried a few tricks to lighten it up and it turned out wonderful.

Here's what you need:

1 lb thin cut chicken breast
1/2 cup flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 cup white cooking wine
2 cloves chopped garlic
1/2 bunch chopped parsley
The juice of 2 large lemons
The zest of one lemon
Chicken broth (about 3/4 cup)
Grapeseed oil

First, lay your chicken out on a cutting board with a layer of plastic wrap over the top. Using a kitchen mallet, pound out your pieces of chicken breast until they are a little thinner, depending on how thick your butcher cut those pieces. You want them about 1/2 inch at the thickest part. Dump the flour on a dinner plate and season liberally with salt and pepper. Coat each piece of chicken with the flour mixture.

Heat a large pan on medium high heat with a couple tablespoons of grapeseed oil. I use grapeseed because it has a high smoke point. Pan fry each piece of chicken until golden brown on both sides, remove from the pan to a cooling rack to drain.

Now for the sauce. Turn the heat on your pan down to medium low. Add the garlic and sautee until it just barely starts to brown. Add the chicken stock and white wine, whisking to get all of the brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pan to come up and incorporate into the liquid. In a small bowl, add a tablespoon or so of water to the cornstarch and whisk. Add this cornstarch slurry to the cooking liquid. Instead of thickening up the sauce with a ton of butter, this will help us get a silky consistency with less calories. Add the chicken back into the pan with the lemon juice and simmer in the liquid for about 10 minutes, until chicken is cooked through. Stir in the lemon zest, parsley and a few tablespoons of capers. That's it! A fancy dish without the traditional number of calories to serve at your next dinner party. I took leftovers to work and it was even good the next day. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Shrimp Tostadas with Chipotle Yogurt and Pineapple Avocado Salsa

Maybe the long name sounds fancy, but these tostadas couldn't be easier. You could use all the same ingredients in whatever tortillas you have laying around and call it a taco as well. Or just throw it in a bowl and call it a salad. Delicious either way.

There are 3 components to this dish to make, then you just assemble it all on top of a crispy tostada. The first component being the Pineapple Avocado Salsa. The sweet, tropical flavor of the pineapple lends a nice balance to the creamy avocado and sharp onion. The salsa as a whole gives a great acidic balance to the entire dish.

Here's what you need:

2 large, ripe avocados
1/4 of a whole ripe pineapple
1/2 of a red onion
1 bunch of cilantro
2 cloves of fresh garlic
1-2 jalepenos, depending on how spicy you want to go
The juice of 1 lime

Chop up all your produce into uniform size pieces, mince the garlic and cilantro, and toss everything together with lime juice and salt to taste. Set aside.

Next, move on to the Chipotle Yogurt. I LOVE chipotle peppers. They lend an intense smokiness to any dish that is SO good. This sauce couldn't be easier.

What you need:

1/2 cup greek yogurt
1-2 chipotle peppers chopped finely
The juice of half a lime
1 teaspoon Garlic powder
1 teaspoon Cumin

Mix everything together, I add a little extra juice from the can of chipotle peppers for good measure. Add salt and pepper to taste. That's it!

Our final component is the shrimp. Again, couldn't be easier. I used Argentinian red shrimp, which are red when they are raw... so cooking is a little tricky. Usually your shrimp come blue and when they turn pink they are done! First, rinse your shrimp and remove the tail if needed. Heat up a pan with a little olive oil and add the shrimp. Toss with your favorite seasonings: I used chipotle, cumin, garlic and a little chili powder. Sautee for a few minutes on each side until shrimp are cooked through.

When you are ready to eat, assemble the tostadas. I layered the chipotle sauce first, topped with fresh salsa then piled on the shrimp. They can be a little messy to eat, but one of the best bites of your summer, guaranteed!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Sushi Bowls

A couple months ago, I talked about how intimidated by polenta I was, until I tried it. Speaking of intimidating, here is a fast and easy spin on the most intimidating at home dish of all: sushi! My husband and I love to go out for sushi, it is usually our go to when we decide to eat out. While craving it one day, I thought how could I get these same flavors at home? It was actually very simple and there are endless variations to what you can do.

First: the rice. I honestly HATE cooking rice. I usually buy the frozen brown rice packages from Trader Joe's. However you like your rice, just start with that. Brown, white, leftover, premade, whatever. While the rice is warm add in a tablespoon of sugar, a couple tablespoons of rice vinegar and a little dash of salt. Stir this around to coat. It doesn't make sushi rice in it's truest form, but it makes a very similar taste with just a few ingredients hanging out in your pantry.

Once the rice is done and cooled, that will be your base. Then you can top your sushi bowl with whatever you like! I have two variations here, one I made for a fancier dinner in with my husband, and another I made packed into Tupperware for weekday lunches to bring to work.

Variation 1: I topped the "sushi" rice with sliced nori seaweed sheets (these have become so popular and you can find them anywhere), julienned (cut into matchstick size) cucumber, julienned carrots, avocado, toasted sesame seed, chopped scallion, krab (imitation crab used at most sushi restaurants for their California roll among others...find this in your seafood section), and premade ahi poke I found at my local Safeway. It was perfect! I served this with wasabi and soy sauce, of course, and topped with a little spicy mayo.

Variation 2: I packed Tupperware with "sushi" rice, nori, soy sauce, sesame, cucumber, scallion. Then I mixed imitation crab with a little mayo and a ton of sriracha for a take on a "spicy crab" salad. I added avocado once I was ready to eat. One of my favorite "to go" lunches to keep in the fridge! 

You can also add cooked shrimp, tofu, tempura, egg, any other veggies or your favorite sashimi. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Smoked Salmon Deviled Eggs with Capers and Fried Shallots

This is a tasty and impressive appetizer to bring to a brunch, serve at a BBQ or make for girl's nights. While it seems so very fancy, it is incredibly easy to whip up.

First, hard boil 12 eggs. While there seems to be a differing of opinions on how to do this, the best way for me seems to boil the water first with a dash of salt and white vinegar. Add in the eggs gently, and continue to boil for exactly 11 minutes. Remove eggs and add to an ice bath to cool. Once cooled, peel under running water.

Now that our eggs are boiled, here's what else we need (remember, these are ballpark measurements, as always):

2 tablespoons or so of brined capers
1 shallot
2 ounces of smoked salmon, chopped
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
3 heaping tablespoons greek yogurt
2 heaping tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1-2 teaspoons dried dill
Olive oil

Slice each egg in half. Remove yolks into a bowl and set egg whites in the fridge to keep chilled. Mash the egg yolks with a fork until creamy. Add in chopped salmon, mayo, Dijon, yogurt, capers, garlic powder and dill. Mix everything together and add salt to taste. While you're tasting, adjust measurements to your liking. Maybe you want a little more salmon or capers? Maybe you need more yogurt? Get it all the way you like before you move on. Spoon this mixture into a large ziplock bag and set inside the fridge to chill.

Cover the bottom of a small pan with about a half inch of olive oil, heat on medium heat. Peel and VERY thinly slice your shallot. Working in batches depending on the size of your pan, fry the shallots in the olive oil until crispy and brown. Set on a paper towel to cool and dry.

Good news: this can all be done ahead of time! Now go do your makeup and your hair and come back when you're ready for your party.

Now that you're ready, get out a serving platter, the egg whites, egg yolk mixture and shallots. Squeeze the egg yolk mixture to a corner of the ziplock bag and snip the end. Ta-dah! You have your very own piping bag. Pipe the mixture to fill each egg white. Top with a little more dill for color, a sprinkling of paprika and the fried shallots. Arrange on the platter and watch them disappear!