Thursday, September 17, 2015

Caprese Tomato Spinach Soup

Well this is it!  My last full day in the states, tomorrow I will be leaving for Iceland!  Currently my brain feels like mush because the preparation that goes into not being at my job for two full weeks is insanely tedious.  I think at this point I have all my bases covered for work and now just need to get home and begin packing.  We also have our travels pretty well planned out but we don't necessarily have a backup plan if things do turn violent in Munich...hopefully it won't get to that.  We will be arriving in Iceland at 6am their time and that is when the adventure begins!  Last night I adapted this AMAZING soup and it was a perfect last meal to post on my blog because it was so successful.  By the time we get back (October 1st) it will be fall here in PDX and perhaps I will have some new Icelandic, French, German, or Swiss soup recipes to share!  Bon voyage!

Serves 4

The Ingredients
1 can (28 0z.) fire roasted tomatoes
3 cups vegetable stock
4 tablespoons olive oil
7 Sun dried tomatoes, chopped
3 small shallots, thinly sliced
4 medium garlic clove thinly sliced
½ teaspoon dry basil
1 good pinch dry thyme
½ teaspoon celery salt
1-1/2 teaspoons sea salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
6-8 hand fulls of spinach
Fresh Mozzarella Ciliegine (little)

The Process
1. In a medium soup pot over medium heat, warm up 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Add in the 2 shallots, 2 cloves garlic, sun dried tomatoes, saute for 3-4 minutes.

2. Add the dry basil, thyme salt, black pepper, and celery salt saute for another minute.

3. Add the can of crushed fire roasted tomatoes, and cook for 2-3 minutes on medium.

4. Add the stock, stir until well incorporated, cover with a lid and reduce the heat to low, simmer for 6-8 minutes. With an immersion blender puree the soup.

5. Once its pureed, add the balsamic vinegar and sugar, taste, adjust salt and pepper if necessary. Bring to slow simmer, turn off the heat, cover with a lid and keep it warm.

6. Quick Saute the spinach in a skillet over medium -high heat, heat up 2 tablespoons olive oil, add 1 shallots, 2 cloves garlic and saute for 15 seconds then add the spinach and toss until they are partially wilted, and coated with the hot oil, add salt and pepper. Set a side.

7. Using oven friendly soup bowls, scoop 2-3 ladles of tomato soup, add some of the sauteed spinach and top with the mozzarella (I put 5 little balls in each bowl).

8. Place bowls onto a baking sheet and broil the soups for about 4-5 minutes, or until cheese is melted and slightly crust. Be careful to watch them so they don’t burn.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Bruschetta Topped Pork Chops

Well Europe is truly around the corner, only two days away!  I have been feeling so many different emotions in prepping myself for this trip of a lifetime, I go from super anxious and nervous to ecstatic in a matter of minutes.  I am very thankful that our first stop is Iceland because it will be a calm and serene introduction to our trip, as for Germany not so much.  If you have been paying attention to the news lately Germany is taking in a lot of refugees and while it was suppose to be about 5,000 it turned into 18,000 over last weekend.  And Oktoberfest is about to start which attracts 6 million people and now the minister fears there will be violence between the two groups (read article here).  So as you can see our second destination in Munich will be a little more crazy than Iceland.  Anyway around it I can't wait for all the amazing food, cathedrals, museums, gardens, palaces, picnicking, and shopping!  Now if these workdays could go a little faster I would be in heaven.  I adapted this recipe last week and it was a delicious, filling, and healthy meal.

Serves 4

The Ingredients
4 boneless pork chops
2 large, firm, tomatoes (I used Marianna's Peace and yellow cherries), diced small
½ large red onion, finely diced
3-4 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 tbsp olive oil, plus more for basting
1½ tbsp good balsamic vinegar, plus more for drizzle
½ tsp salt
fresh basil leaves, cut into thin strips
1 ball fresh mozzarella, sliced thick
salt to taste
pepper to taste

The Process
1.  Preheat your grill on high for at least 10 minutes.

2.  Make your brushetta topping by gently tossing together the tomatoes, onion, garlic, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, ½ teaspoon salt, and basil leaves. Set aside.

3.  Season your pork chops with salt and pepper on both sides. Just before placing on the grill, lightly baste with olive oil to prevent sticking. Grill for 3+ minutes per side depending on the thickness of your chops. Remove the meat at 140℉.

4.  Top chops with mozzarella cheese and place under your broiler for about one minute, until the cheese is bubbly and slightly browned. Let rest for at least 5 minutes to redistribute juices.  Top with a heaping spoonful of the brushetta mixture, and drizzle with balsamic vinegar.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Ham and Cheese Soup

What a whirlwind life has been, last week I was in Florida for work, often working 15 hour days, but at least I ate very well.  We lucked out and the hurricane never hit us which was good for our conference but I personally wanted to experience one.  It was also amazing seeing one of my best friends and catching up, I sure do miss having her around.  I got back to PDX on Friday and my boyfriend was waiting for me with a dozen roses which was so so sweet and it was very nice to have labor day weekend to catch up on my sleep.  Sunday was pickle fest 2015 with my mom and aunt (pictured below), and we made 55 pounds!  My sauerkraut also just finished up and I have a bunch of fresh kraut to eat up before we leave for Europe.  Speaking of Europe we are now down to 9 days away and for some reason I still can't believe we are going.  I am SO excited!  I will try and get as many posts in as I can before we leave but you know I will have tons to write about when we get back.  I don't think I could make a dish more American than this, and with that said it was super delicious.  I adapted this recipe, enjoy!

Serves 4-5

The Ingredients
2 cups diced yellow potatoes
2 cups vegetable broth
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup butter, cubed
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups 2% milk
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
1-1/2 cups cubed fully cooked ham
1 can peas
Plain yogurt for garnish

The Process
1.  In a large saucepan, combine the potatoes, broth, and onion. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and cook for 10-15 minutes or until tender.

2.  Meanwhile, in another saucepan, melt butter. Stir in flour until smooth. Gradually add the milk, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Stir in cheese until melted. Stir into undrained potato mixture. Add ham and peas; heat through. Serve with a large dollop of plain yogurt.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Crispy Chicken Cutlets with Tomato Panzanella

Where to begin?  As you can tell life has been chaotic with very little time to cook new recipes and post about them.  I knew August and September would be my busiest months too with weddings, camping, work travel, and fun travel.  My last blog I was talking about going to a wedding in Silver Falls and it was beautiful and so much fun.  Next came my all girls camping trip up to Clear Lake on Mt. Hood.  Much to my surprise it has been so dry in Oregon that the lake I went swimming in two months prior was almost all dried up!  It was unreal and felt apocalyptic, there was only a little bit of a lake left which you can see in the picture below.  Even with no lake we still had a blast, lots of exploring and an amazing dance party.  Tomorrow I leave for my work trip to Florida for 6 days and there is now a hurricane headed directly to Orlando so I'm sure it will be a very interesting week.  I also get to see one of my best friends because she is driving up to visit me in Orlando for two nights which will be so so fun! I'm sure I will come back with a lot of stories and perhaps I really will get to experience my first hurricane.  Onto the food, I adapted this recipe from Bon Appetit and holy crap is it good.  I used tomatoes from my garden and was in heaven; this is my first year growing Marianna's Peace (heirloom tomatoes) and they have the best flavor ever!  Also pictured below is the vinegar I used instead of plain white wine vinegar.

Serves 4

The Ingredients
¼ small red onion, thinly sliced (I used a mandolin)
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar (I used a French herb infused one), divided
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 tablespoons avocado oil, divided
1 cup torn country-style bread, (from about ¼ small loaf)
2 skin-on, bone-in chicken breasts (or chicken thighs)
1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes (half of them sliced in half, and the other half full)
2 small red heirloom tomatoes sliced
Pinch of sugar
¾ cup parsley leaves with tender stems

The Process
1.  Combine onion and 2 Tbsp. vinegar in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper; set aside.

2.  Heat 2 Tbsp. avocado in a large skillet over medium-high. Add bread; season with salt and pepper. Cook, tossing, until golden brown, 5–8 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl. Wipe out skillet.

3.  Using a thin, sharp knife, cut bones and cartilage from chicken breasts. Pound chicken between 2 sheets of plastic wrap to ¼" thick; season with salt and pepper.

4.  Heat 1 Tbsp. avocado oil in skillet over medium-high. Cook 1 chicken breast, skin side down, until golden brown and nearly cooked through, about 4 minutes. Turn and cook until cooked through, about 1 minute more; second side will not brown. Transfer to a platter. Repeat with remaining cutlet and 1 Tbsp. avocado oil (no need to wipe out skillet).

5.  Heat 2 Tbsp. avocado oil in same skillet over medium-high. Add whole tomatoes; season with salt and pepper. Cook, tossing occasionally, until lightly blistered and starting to burst, about 5 minutes. Toss in sugar and remaining 1 Tbsp. vinegar. Transfer to bowl with croutons. Add pickled onion with pickling liquid, all the cut tomatoes, parsley, and remaining 2 Tbsp. avocado oil and toss. Serve chicken with panzanella spooned over.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Tiger Salad with Steak

Work has been so crazy I've barely even had time to take my lunches let alone blog during them.  My company hosts 3 conferences a year and 2 of them are just around the corner, one of which I will be leaving for at the end of this month.  We are all headed to Florida for this conference and there is so much prep work that goes into it, so I don't see my work life slowing down until we leave for Europe.  My garden is finally starting to produce too which makes me very happy, I hope that I don't miss a bunch of the tomatoes while I am away on my trips...but I guess that is just life.  This weekend should be a blast, we are headed to a wedding down in Silver Falls, OR and I just adore the people getting married.  I have known the bride since middle school and she is one of my older brother's best friends so there will be a ton of guests that I know and like which is always a plus!  This week is Burger Week in Portland and there are about 31 restaurants participating this year.  Here is a link to each burger and what restaurant they are at, burger week is just too fun.  I adapted this recipe a couple nights ago and it was the perfect meal for the hot and sticky weather we are having here in PDX.  Happy Friday and enjoy!

Serves 4

The Ingredients
4 tablespoon unseasoned rice vinegar
4 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
1/2 teaspoon garlic chili paste
1 bunch cilantro leaves with tender stems, cut into 2 inches pieces
6 celery stalks, thinly sliced on a diagonal
1 large cucumber, thinly sliced
6 scallions, thinly sliced on a diagonal
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
Steak I used this recipe for the marinade (optional)

The Process
1.  Whisk vinegar, oil, sesame seeds, and chili past in a large bowl. Add cilantro, celery, cucumbers, and scallions. Season with salt and pepper and toss to combine.

2.  Cook meat to preference and serve over the salad.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Collard Greens

So happy it is Friday!  I can't wait for this weekend of mostly relaxation.  Tonight I am hanging out with a dear friend that I haven't seen in too long and we are going to go to HK Cafe, which yes believe it or not I still haven't been too.  Then tomorrow we are attending a house warming party because our lovely friends just purchased their first home which is pretty exciting.  And Sunday I am going to attempt to make my first batch of sauerkraut in my new fermentation crock.  Sailing last night was a blast, there are a couple pictures at the end of this post to show how perfect of an evening it was.  Let's talk about food now, recently I made this delightfully simple and traditional collard greens recipe to pair with pork and they turned out fabulous.  Enjoy. Also happy international beer day!

Serves 5

The Ingredients
2 tablespoon bacon fat
1 large white onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 cups vegetable stock
3 tablespoon cider vinegar
2 bunches fresh collard greens

The Process
1.  Prepare the collard greens by first removing the stems. Pull them off by hand or cut them out with a knife. Wash the leaves and stack the leaves and cut across into about 1- inch sized ribbons.

2.  In a large pot over medium high heat, add bacon fat and onions. Saute onions for 5 minutes over medium high heat until softened and translucent. Add the garlic and saute quickly for an additional 30 seconds or so, just until golden and fragrant.  Then add stock, greens, and the salt and pepper and bring just to a boil. Reduce the heat to low. Cover, and simmer for 45 minutes, until the greens are tender.

3.  Stir the vinegar into the greens just prior to serving or serve on the side.  And serve!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Beef Lok Lak

I have been continuing my accounting training at work and while last week made me want to pull out my hair, this week everything is really starting to make sense which makes me very happy.  It is a field I never thought I would enter but again it is just one more skill that I now have.  Happy Farmers Market week! Make sure and get out to support your favorite farmers market because they have really evolved to meet our needs which is highlighted in this article.  I am pretty excited for this evening because I will be hanging out with one of my good friends and we are going to go sailing with my parents and picnic on the dock.  Let's hope for wind!  I adapted this recipe and it was fabulous, filling and refreshing.  Not my garden tomatoes yet but the Persian cucumbers were courtesy of my wonderful coworker's garden.  Also I don't normally make food with this much sugar but it sure was good, plus most of the sugar is left behind in the marinade.  Enjoy!

Serves 2

The Ingredients

Beef and marinade:
1 lb beef sirloin, cut into bite size chunks
1⁄4 cup tamari
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon ketchup
2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 teaspoon fish sauce
3 garlic cloves, finely sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil

To serve:
2 small tomatoes, sliced
1 cucumber, peeled and finely sliced
1⁄2 small red onion, finely sliced
Green cabbage, leaves torn off to use as wrappers

Dipping sauce:
Juice of a lime
2 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon water

The Process
1.  In a large bowl, mix beef with tamari, oyster sauce, ketchup, sugar, fish sauce, ground black pepper and garlic. Marinate at least 20 minutes or up to one hour.

2.  Make dipping sauce, combine ingredients in a small bowl-set aside.

3.  Decorate two dinner plates with sliced tomatoes, cucumber and onion. Set aside.  Place the cabbage leaves on a separate platter.

4.  Heat oil in a wok over a high heat and stir-fry beef until cooked about 5-7 minutes.  Divide between the two dinner plates.

5.  You eat it by wrapping portions of the meat and salad ingredients in a cabbage leaf, then dipping that in the dipping sauce.