Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Ham Bone Stock

As I mentioned in the last post I was lucky enough to receive the leftover ham bone from the Christmas ham.  The ham bone is so huge I had to take off the knuckles in order for it to even fit in my crockpot and I cooked that ham bone all night long.  It has been a long time since I cooked anything overnight and I forgot how the delicious smell seeps into your dreams and somewhat narrates what you dream about.  Anyway this stock is the first step to what I'm calling my 48 hour soup.  I cooked the stock for 12 hours and now it is in the fridge waiting for the fat to collect on the top (about 10 hours).  Then I have to soak the northern beans for 12 hours and prep and assemble the ham, bean, and sauerkraut soup I am making.  The soup will then cook for about 8 hours and we will feast on it NYE.  We also plan on playing Settlers of Catan, a board game that I haven't ever played but have been told it is addicting-ly fun!  I adapted this basic stock recipe, enjoy!

Servings 8

The Ingredients

1 large ham bone and any fat and scraps left from trimming your ham

10-12 cups water (approximate)

2 onions, peeled and halved

2-3 carrots, washed and cut into half (no need to peel)

2 celery ribs, leaves attached, cut in half

5 garlic cloves, peeled

10-15 peppercorns

2 bay leaves

The Process

1.  Place all ingredients in your largest slow cooker, adding enough water to cover the ham bone and fill the crock. Cook on high for 6-12 hours.

2.  The longer you cook it, the better it will be, so I recommend 12 hours if you can.

3.  Remove and discard ham bone and vegetables and spices. You can do this by fishing out the larger pieces with a slotted spoon, and straining the broth through a mesh strainer.

4.  Pour strained stock into one or more containers and refrigerate overnight. Once the stock cools, the fat will congeal on the top and it can be lifted off and thrown away.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Piselli al Prosciutto (Sweet Peas with Prosciutto)

What a wonderful long holiday weekend we had, so much family, friends, and delicious food!  On Christmas eve we went over to my Uncle's house for the extended family potluck dinner and I made this recipe from Saveur, it was delectable.  Then on Christmas my father made a 14 pound prime rib roast that was cooked to perfection, as in still bloody just the way I like it.  This hunk of meat was accompanied by creamy horseradish, Yorkshire pudding, a dish we call Cal's potatoes (shredded potatoes, sour cream, cheese, green onions, etc.), and balsamic glazed brussels sprouts.  After a wonderful couple days with my family in PDX we traveled down to Eugene, OR to visit with my boyfriend's parents where we laid around in our pjs, watched movies, and cooked more amazing food.  His parents purchased an entire ham from Voget Meats and it was one of the best hams I've ever had, definitely check this place out if you are looking for some fine meats.  And lucky me I got to take the ham bone home, so tonight I'm going to make a ham bone broth and use it to make a tasty white bean and ham soup for New Year's Eve.  This year will be the first time ever that we are staying home on New Year's Eve and I can't wait!  I hope you enjoy this dish, I purchased prosciutto from Whole Foods at $26 a pound...and it was some of the most delicious I have had in a while, so I suggest going for quality meats in this recipe.  The simplicity of flavors in this recipe is what makes it so satisfying.

Serves 4

The Ingredients

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 oz. prosciutto, roughly chopped

small white onion, minced

1 lb. fresh or frozen green peas

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

The Process

1. Heat oil in a 12" skillet over medium heat. Add prosciutto and onions; cook until onions are soft and prosciutto begins to crisp, 6–8 minutes.

2. Add peas and 1 tbsp. water; cook, tossing, until hot, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Chicken Pot Pie

While many others are already off work for the holidays I still have a half day tomorrow (Christmas eve), but this doesn't stop me from playing with all of my lovely friends!  Tonight I'm headed to a holiday potluck with gifts, music, and dancing...still trying to figure out what to make.  And last night I had one of my wonderful friend's over for some good old comforting chicken pot pie, and yes I usually cheat when it comes to the crust and buy pre-made dough...again I really don't care for baking and that includes making dough.  Two nights ago I also got to reunite with one of my friends who now lives in California and she told me she is moving to Singapore for four months for a school exchange program which is very exciting!  Apparently they don't sell gum there and you get in trouble if you spit gum out on the ground (if someone sees you)...but it is also a very clean place.  In unrelated news I just started listening to America's Test Kitchen podcast and am completely addicted, another good podcast is Serial.  As a result I heard about this awesome book Peace Meals, which I now have on hold and am counting down the days until I can get my hands on it.  I hope you enjoy my wonderful pot pie!

Serves 5

The Ingredients

1 1/2 cups carrots, peeled and diced

1 medium Yukon gold potato, cubed

1 medium yellow onion, diced

2 Tablespoons butter

2 Tablespoons olive oil

1 large chicken breast, diced

2 teaspoons sea salt, divided

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 ½ cups half and half

1 1/2 cups cremini mushrooms, sliced

1 1/2 cups broccoli, chopped

1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed

Cooking spray

1 egg

1 teaspoon water

The Process

1.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2.  Heat up frying pan and spray with oil, add onions, carrots, broccoli, and mushrooms, saute over medium-high heat for about 6 minutes and set aside.

3.  Then heat the butter and oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the diced chicken breast. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt and pepper.  Cook, stirring often, until the chicken is no longer pink.

4.  Sprinkle the flour over the chicken in the pan. Stir until the chicken is well coated with flour.

5.  Slowly pour in the half and half, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook for five minutes or until slightly thickened.

6.  Add the carrots, potato, onions, mushrooms, broccoli and remaining salt. Stir gently to combine all the ingredients.

7.  Unfold the thawed puff pastry onto a lightly floured surface. Roll pastry to seal any cracks.

8.  Spray the inside of the cooking dish lightly with cooking spray. Fill with the chicken mixture. Top the dish with the puff pastry. Cut a vent in the top of the pastry.

8.  Beat the egg and water together in a small bowl. Brush over the pastry.

9.  Place the prepared pot pie on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes.

10.  Cover the pastry loosely with aluminum foil to prevent burning and cook for an additional 25 minutes.  Remove from the oven and allow the cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Spicy Ginger Lemon Soup with Mushrooms

Last night was my work's holiday party and we had it at a place called Cassidy's in downtown Portland.  I hadn't ever been there and was impressed with their drink and food selection, it was a jolly time indeed.  This week I am also attending the Nutcracker with my mom and aunt, I've gone almost every year since I was a child, it makes me miss doing ballet.  I made this soup with two of my lovely lady friends during last week's windy winter storm.  We wanted a soup that would cleanse and warm us up, so we adapted this recipe

Serves 5

The Ingredients

2 heads baby bok choy

6 cups vegetable broth

12 oz mushrooms, sliced

2 chicken breasts, cubed

1 package buckwheat soba noodles, cooked according to package, add to individual bowls (if desired)

1 bunch scallions thinly sliced; separate white from green parts

5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1 "1/2 piece ginger (from a big root), thinly sliced

4 tablespoon Braggs amino acids

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 organic lemon, half sliced for serving the other half squeezed into the soup

The Process

1.  Separate bok choy leaves from stalks; cut leaves into half and slice stalks.

2.  In a large pot, bring broth to a boil.  While waiting cook chicken in skillet until cooked through.

3.  Add mushrooms, scallion-whites, garlic, ginger and simmer for 7-8 minutes.

4.  Add bok choy stalks and simmer for an additional 2-3 minutes or until bok choy stalks are tender.

5.  Turn heat down to low and add bok choy leaves, amino acids, red pepper flakes, and squeeze half the lemon into soup.

6.  Simmer for another 1-2 minutes and serve immediately with scallion-greens, a lemon slice, and noodles.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Crockpot Beef Stew

While it is a Monday I am in a surprisingly great mood, I think the fact that I had an amazing weekend in Astoria paired with the fact that I get to leave work early today to attend our Christmas party may have something to do with it;)  We went to the Flavel House, Astoria Column, Goonies house, Maritime Museum, and did a fair amount of walking around, eating and thrifting.  We also spent time relaxing, laying in front of the wood stove, playing Scrabble, and having our pancetta stolen out of our cooler by a rascally raccoon.  I also have all my Christmas shopping done, presents wrapped and am ready the holidays.  I adapted this recipe for last night's dinner and it sure was a tasty and healthy way to end my anniversary weekend.  Enjoy!

Serves 4-5

The Ingredients

1.5 pounds pastured stewing beef

3 cups of beef stock

2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 medium onion, chopped

2 cups baby carrots

2 small potatoes, cubed 

4 cloves of garlic, minced 

2 cups cremini mushrooms, quartered

1 tablespoon of paprika

3 bay leaves

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1/2 teaspoon of black pepper

1 teaspoon each dried rosemary, basil, and oregano

The Process

1.  Place meat into crockpot. Add liquids, stir in spices, then all other ingredients.  Cover and cook on high for 3 1/2 hours or until potatoes are done.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Lebanese Stuffed Onions

Yesterday my partner in crime and I celebrated our 3 year anniversary, it was a quiet and cozy night and I made this recipe to warm our tummies (Steamy Kitchen blog is one of my favorites).  The real celebration is happening this weekend, Friday we are headed to Astoria, OR to stay in an adorable Airbnb right on the bay.  It is a private apartment with a wall of windows facing the bay, a wood stove, and an awesome old antique wooden bed.  We plan to eat at all the local spots and do some touring including going to the Goonie's house.  Not sure how safe it will be to go down on the beach with all the storming that the NW is doing right now...but we will see.  I will definitely have to eat some oyster shooters but unfortunately my boyfriend is not a fan, so I will be doing this alone.  In other news who has heard of The Portland Kitchen?  It is an amazing non-profit  that offers free, comprehensive culinary after-school and summer programming to Portland high school youth, age 14-18.  Somehow I just learned about this place and am going to start volunteering there in January, definitely check it out and give a donation if you are feeling the holiday spirit!

Serving 10 stuffed onions

The Ingredients

2 extra-large onions (or 3 large onions)

1 cup white rice

1 tablespoon tomato paste

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon allspice

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt

freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley (reserve some for garnish)

1 pound ground beef

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

3 pinches of brown sugar

2 tablespoons olive oil

The Process

1.  The first step is to soak your rice in a bowl cool water. The rice will absorb some of the water -- we'll drain off the water in a later step.

2.  Fill a pot with water (enough to cover a whole onion by 1" and bring to a boil. Cut off the very top and bottom of each onion. Make a cut down one side of each of the onions, cutting into the center from top to bottom. This helps the onion layers cook evenly and make it easier to peel. Add the onions, and let them cook for 10 minutes or until the layers soften and separate easily.

3.  Drain the rice completely. In a large mixing bowl, add the drained rice, tomato paste, cinnamon, allspice, cumin, coriander, salt, pepper, cilantro or parsley and ground meat. Mix well.

4.  When the onions have finished cooking, remove and drain from the boiling water. Let cool and separate out the layers individually and place 1 heaping tablespoon of the filling, wrap onion around filling, but not too tightly to allow rice to expand during cooking.

5.  In a large, oven-safe saute pan over medium-high heat, swirl in the olive oil. When pan is hot, place the onions seam-side down. Let cook for 2 minutes until the bottoms have browned slightly.

6.  Add vinegar to the pan and sprinkle the tops of the onions with sugar. Cover the pan and turn the heat to low. Cook for 20 minutes or until the meat and rice are fully cooked, rotating the onions halfway during cooking.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Lemon Ginger Chicken Thighs

This last weekend was pretty eventful, Friday my uncle and I went through a bunch of my grandmother's things to talk about memories and come up with a plan to preserve/archive many delicate items (especially the books). Then that night we all watched the Duck game and we won!  Saturday I had a wonderful time meeting up with some of my favorite librarians to try tasty and rare beers at The Beermongers and The Commons Brewery (and it was their 3 year anniversary party).  Both of these places were awesome and I would highly recommend checking them out, and try the sour beers...they are so so yummy.  And then on Sunday we went and got our Christmas tree from a place I've been going to since I was a child, Skyline Tree Farm.  They have grand nobles and are untrimmed which is what I prefer, and the owner is my parents neighbor and he is an awesome individual.  So if you haven't purchased your tree yet check this place out, you won't be disappointed.  Below is a picture of our decorated tree!  I found this recipe while seeking out a simple yet paleo dinner to cook a little while back, enjoy!

Serves 3

The Ingredients

6 chicken thighs

1/8 cup melted butter (for AIP: use lard, tallow or coconut oil)

Juice of 1/2 lemon

1 tbsp. tamari sauce

1/2 tbsp fresh ginger, minced

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/8 tsp pepper

6 average carrots, peeled and halved

The Process

1.  Preheat oven to 350F. In a large roasting pan with a lid, put the peeled carrots on the bottom of the pan. On top, arrange the chicken thighs skin-up in a single layer.

2.  In a small bowl, whisk together the warm melted butter, the lemon juice, tamari sauce, minced ginger, garlic powder and pepper. Pour this mixture evenly over the chicken thighs.

3.  Cook covered for 60 minutes. Remove the lid and cook for 15 more minutes. The chicken is done
when you cut into it and the juices run clear.

4.  Broil chicken for 10 minutes until skin is crisp.

5.  Plate, served over the  carrots. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Stuffed Flank Steaks

Where do I start there has been a whirlwind of emotions over this last week...Thanksgiving was wonderful we had a total of 15 people which made for a very cheerful time.  The food was excellent and my stuffing (which I will share soon) turned out fabulous, although I realized for the first time I am in need of a large tall stock pot so I am able to mix very large batches of food.  Thanksgiving was also hard because it was the first one without my grandfather so I made sure to make a toast to him and we all shed some tears.  Another sad event happened in my life recently, my family dog Dominic was diagnosed with cancer just a little over a week ago and went downhill so fast that we had to euthanize him last Saturday the 29th.  He was 14 which means he was 98 in dog years and he had a wonderful full life but it is never easy to say goodbye.  Dom Dom (his nickname) was always rambunctious, he would chase deer and coyotes in the tree farm below my parent's house and he was constantly jumping the 5ft + fence of the backyard where he was suppose to stay during the day.  Dom Dom thought he was a person and definitely made sure that he was in fact my parent's 4th child, I sure will miss that wonderful old pup but I must remember now he no longer has pain and we were all there by his side till the end.  This recipe came about after I decided I had a lot of semi random things to use up, so please enjoy!  Also below is a picture of Dom Dom and I,  I sure will miss him.

Serves 2

The Ingredients

4 thin slabs of flank steak

2 oz goat cheese

1/2 cup mozzarella, shredded

1 cup fresh spinach

6 cremini mushrooms, finely chopped

1 small yellow onion, finely chopped

1 teaspoon oregano

4 tablespoons pesto

1 tablespoon tamari

2 cloves garlic, minced

Olive Oil

Salt and Pepper


The Process

1.  Heat olive oil in frying pan over medium-high heat add onions, cook for about 5 minutes then add mushrooms, garlic, tamari, oregano, and salt and pepper to taste.  Cook for about another 5 minutes or until both mushrooms and onions are soft.

2.  Preheat oven to broil and grease a baking sheet with edges.  Layout flank steak pieces and tenderize with a mallet.  Then spread 1 tablespoon of pesto over each slab, sprinkle each slab with goat cheese, and divide the mushroom/onion mixture between the 4 pieces of meat.  Then layer on spinach and sprinkle each piece with a thin layer of mozzarella.

3.  Roll each meat piece up like a pinwheel and secure the seams with toothpicks so they doesn't unravel while cooking.  Next place meat pinwheels in the oven and broil for about 10 minutes each side or until steak is cooked to your liking (8 minutes a side would give you rare steak).  When meat is cooked take out toothpicks and serve.  I paired mine with a nice simple salad.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Sweet and Sour Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

This is the amazing and time consuming dish I made for my amazing mother's 60th birthday, here is the original recipe.  For my mother's 60th my father, her and a bunch of their close friends all went to Silcox Hut which looks breathtaking, above Timberline lodge over 7,000 feet up.  It is an adventure I hope to take one day although I do get really bad vertigo and wonder how flat it is that high up...  In other news I don't even know where to begin when it comes to discussing how disgusted and sad I am about the state of #Ferguson, but this article from the Washington Post sheds some light on the reality of the situation: "Ferguson isn't about black rage against cops.  It's white rage against progress."  On that note eat well and don't forget that love is what it is all about.

Makes 16 rolls

The Ingredients

Cabbage Rolls:
1 large head green cabbage, about 2 to 2¼ pounds

2 pounds ground beef

2 eggs (not necessary, you can leave them out, but they do make the meat fluffier)

1 large onion, grated or minced

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 cup raw long-grain white rice

Tomato Sauce:
2 tablespoons butter or olive oil

2 clove garlic, finely chopped

1 large onion, chopped (medium dice)

2 15-ounce cans tomato sauce or one 32-ounce can whole tomatoes, pulsed in a food processor with juice until pureed.

juice of one lemon or 2 tablespoons (or more to taste) apple cider vinegar

1/3 cup light brown sugar

Salt and pepper to taste

½ cup golden or regular raisins (optional)

Chopped parsley, for garnish

The Process

1. Core the cabbage. Carefully separate the leaves. Blanch 16 large leaves in boiling water for about 1 minute, or until bright green and just softened. Immediately refresh the blanched leaves in ice water. Drain and reserve. OR, freeze head of cabbage for two days then defrost, core, peel off leaves and roll cabbage rolls. Another method is, place the cabbage in the microwave for 6 minutes. The core will slip right out and the leaves will be perfect for rolling. (I used this method)

2. Chop some of the remaining leaves to make 1 cup of chopped cabbage and reserve.

3. Mix the ground beef with the eggs, grated onion, garlic, salt, pepper, and rice. Divide this mixture into sixteen 2-ounce balls. Using moistened hands, form the balls into cylinders.

4. Place a cylinder of filling near the bottom of a cabbage leaf. Begin to roll it up, folding both sides over the filling, and finish rolling to enclose the filling, like an egg roll. Continue, filling and rolling all the cabbage leaves. Place them, seam side down, on a tray or baking sheet. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

5. Over medium heat, melt the butter in a heavy, nonreactive saucepan. Sauté the second onion until soft and golden. Add the garlic and saute for 2 more minutes, then add the reserved chopped cabbage and sauté briefly.

6. Add the tomato sauce, lemon juice, brown sugar, salt and pepper to taste, and stir to combine. Increase the heat until it comes to a boil, then lower it and simmer for 5 minutes. Add raisins now, if using.

7. Line of the bottom of a 13 x 9 roasting pan or glass dish with a layer of sauce. Place cabbage rolls, seam side down, on top of sauce. Top cabbage rolls with remaining sauce then cover the whole pan with tin foil.

8. Bake for 2 hours in a preheated 350F oven.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Cantonese Egg Custard with Minced Pork

Friendsgiving (picture below) and my mom's 60th birthday were both a huge hit this weekend and in the midst of it all I got to see the new Hunger Games: Mockingjay part 1(you should definitely see it).  Luckily this week will be short and sweet due to my favorite holiday, Thanksgiving!  I didn't get enough down time this past weekend and I really need some me time/home time.  I made this recipe last Thursday for one of my best friends and we both enjoyed it very much, NomNom Paleo is an amazing cooking blog.  The one thing that caught me up was trying to find a heat safe dish to fit in the biggest pot I had...so my custard actually had to lean as it cooked that is why it looks so uneven in the picture.  I served this with lemony asparagus.

Serves 4

The Ingredients

For the filling:
1 teaspoon bacon fat

1 small shallot, minced

½ pound ground pork (or your favorite protein)

3-4 asparagus stalks, thinly sliced

3 fresh cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced

1 teaspoon Red Boat fish sauce

2 teaspoons tamari

freshly ground black pepper

For the custard:
3 large eggs

¾ cup water

1 teaspoon Red Boat fish sauce

For the garnish:
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

2 green onion stalks, thinly sliced

The Process

1.  Heat the bacon fat in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the shallots and the pork to the pan, breaking up the meat with a spatula.  Saute the filling until the shallots are softened and the pork is no longer pink.

2.  Toss in the chopped asparagus and cremini mushrooms and stir-fry for about a minute or until the asparagus turns bright green.  Season the meat and veggies with fish sauce, tamari, and freshly ground pepper. Taste the filling and adjust the flavors if needed.

3.  Next, spoon the meat and veggies into a shallow, heat-proof dish.  While the filling cools slightly, prep your steamer set-up.  Fill a large stock pot with about two inches of water.  Pop a steamer into the stock pot and cover.

4.  Bring the water to a boil in the covered pot over high heat.  As the water in the steamer comes to a boil, make the egg custard by combining the eggs and water. (3 large eggs get you to the ⅔ cup mark—to that, add ¾ cup water.)  Pour the egg mixture over the meat and veggie filling.

5.  Once the water in the steamer is boiling, turn the heat down to medium to maintain a hard simmer.  Carefully place your egg custard on the steamer rack in the pot and cover the dish with another heat-proof glass plate, turned upside-down.

6.  Replace the lid on the pot and steam for 15-20 minutes or until the custard is fully set.  The custard’s ready when it is still slightly jiggly and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.  Drizzle on some toasted sesame oil, and garnish the savory egg custard with chopped fresh cilantro and green onions.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Cream-Braised Chicken with Spinach and Potatoes

Yesterday I was at a loss and didn't know what to make for dinner.  Even after researching a bunch of recipes it seemed every single one had an ingredient or two that I would have to go to the store for...and my mission was to avoid going to the store at all costs last night.  It just gets so exhausting always having to run to the store a grab a couple ingredients to make all the exotic dinners that I do, so sometimes I rebel.  Last night I also got to talk to one of my best friends who sadly had to move away to Florida several years ago and I miss her dearly.  We had a very long and awesome conversation, but have you ever tried cooking a new recipe while talking on the phone?  Let me tell you it is not that easy, trying to read a recipe and listen to someone talking at the same time is just one of the challenges.  Anyway here is the original recipe that I adapted due to me rebelling against the store, I bet it would be really good with Swiss chard or kale.  Time for the recipe!

Serves 3-4

The Ingredients

3 chicken drumsticks, skin on and bone-in

3 chicken thighs, skin on and bone-in

Salt & Pepper

Olive oil

1 large golden potato, quartered

2 shallots, minced

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoons ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

3 sprigs fresh thyme

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

3 cups fresh spinach

1 teaspoon lemon zest (from 1 lemon)

3 cups low-sodium chicken stock

1/2 cup heavy cream

Salt to taste

Handful of Italian parsley, chopped

The Process

1. Start by prepping your chicken: wash the chicken and thoroughly pat dry using paper towels. Sprinkle the chicken with a few pinches of salt and pepper on both sides.

2. To a large pot, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over moderately medium to high heat. When the oil is hot, place the chicken, skin-side down and cook until the skin is crispy and browned, about 3 to 5 minutes. Flip the chicken, using a pair of tongs, and cook for an additional minute or so. You want to avoid overcrowding the pot, so you most likely will have to do this in batches. Remove the chicken from the pan and set it aside in a bowl.

3. You may find that the chicken’s skin has released a lot of grease. We don’t want all of that in the dish so dump out most of it, leaving about 1 tablespoon (eyeball this measurement). Place the pot over medium heat and when hot, add the potatoes, cooking them on each side until browned and crispy, about 1 minute. Remove them from the pan and set aside.

4. Throw in the shallot and cook until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Next, add the cumin, coriander and fresh thyme. Pour in the red wine vinegar and using a spoon, deglaze the bottom of pan, scraping up any browned, crispy bits. Add the spinach, lemon zest and chicken stock. Add the chicken and potatoes back to the pot, being sure to nestle them into the mixture.

5. Bring the chicken mixture to a simmer and turn the heat to low; cover the pot and cook for 45 minutes, until the potatoes and chicken are cooked. Mix in the heavy cream and salt the mixture to taste (I added about 1 teaspoon). Cook for an additional 10 to 15 minutes. Divide between bowls and top with a sprinkling of fresh Italian parsley.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Shami Kebab

Last night I made an awesome new Pakistani dish which made me realize I haven't ever eaten or made Pakistani food, it was delicious!  I'm excited for this weekend, not only is the family getting together and celebrating my mom's birthday but on Saturday night I am attending a "friendsgiving." This is a Thanksgiving with friends and I look forward to it every year because Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday and I get to celebrate it twice!  This year I am going to make Brussels Sprouts with Shallot and Salt Pork, here is the recipe.  I made this dish with saffron rice and a parsley onion salad. I slightly adapted this recipe.  Enjoy.

Serves 3

The Ingredients

1 lb ground beef

1 medium yellow onion, roughly chopped

4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

1 inch ginger, roughly chopped

1 serrano pepper, roughly chopped

1 tbs bacon fat

1 tsp Fine Sea Salt

2 tbs Almond Flour

small handful cilantro, chopped

1 egg

The Process

1.  Blend onion, serrano pepper, ginger, garlic and 1 tbs water in a food processor - blend until it forms a watery paste.

2.  Add 1 tbs ghee to a saute pan on medium heat and cook the onion mixture, stirring occasionally, until it begins to turn golden brown - this will take about 15 mins.

3.  Add spices and stir-fry for a minute then add the ground meat.  Once the ground meat has browned, allow it to cool.

4.  Put the cooled meat in the food processor to mince the meat.

5.  Then put minced meat, cilantro, almond flour and egg into a bowl and mix well - shape into patties. Refrigerate patties for an hour or until you are ready to shallow fry.

6.  Shallow fry the patties with the bacon fat in a cast iron skillet until golden brown, using a fork to gently flip them over to cook both sides.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Thai Chicken Tacos

Yesterday we lost someone very very important in the world, Leslie Feinberg.  If you don't know who this is you should read up on the amazing work she did as a transgender pioneer.  In other news this weekend is my mother's 60th birthday so we are going to have a big wonderful dinner Friday night to celebrate.  I will be making the main dish, which will be stuffed cabbage rolls.  I haven't ever made these and they take almost 3 hours to make...hopefully I don't screw them up!  I am constantly searching for new and different recipes because I like the challenge and I love trying new food, especially from different cultures.  If any of you have a recipe from a different culture that you absolutely love, it would be great if you could share it with me.  Tonight I will be making this Pakistani dish with my Lebanese parsley onion salad and saffron rice, it will be delightful.  These adapted tacos were really delicious so enjoy!

Serves 2

The Ingredients

1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
3 Tbsp. rice vinegar
1 Tbsp. tamari
salt and pepper
2 Tbsp. olive oil
6 small corn tortillas
2 cups shredded cabbage
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions

The Process
1.  In a large bowl or a Ziplock bag, toss the bite-sized chicken pieces with the rice vinegar and tamari until evenly coated. Let marinate for anywhere from 15 minutes to 4 hours.
2.  In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Remove chicken from marinade with a slotted spoon, and add to pan. Season immediately with salt and pepper. Saute for 5-7 minutes, turning occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through and no longer pink inside. Remove chicken from pan and set aside.
3.  In a bowl mix together cabbage, cilantro, and green onions.  Lay out tortillas on a work surface. Portion out the shredded cabbage mix and cooked chicken into the center of each tortilla. Drizzle the chicken in each tortilla with Thai peanut sauce. 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Julia Child's French Onion Soup

I hate to admit it but this is my first time making any of Julia Child's recipes...and that obviously needs to change because I love her and French food.  I have been wanting to make French onion soup for a while now, it started when I went to the beach with a lovely group of friends in early October and they made a very delicious version of the soup and it reminded me that I hadn't made it in many many years (here is a link to my own recipe I made back in 2011).  This is a link to Julia Child's original recipe, I only slightly adapted it.  This last weekend was so relaxing, we had almost no plans and loved every minute of it.  On Saturday we went and saw Nightcrawler with Jake Gyllenhaal, it was a dark comedy and I would recommend seeing it...although it isn't a movie I would say is worth owning.  Then on Sunday I had plans to make the Lebanese version of Dolmas, one of my best friends is Lebanese and she has a family recipe we were going to use.  After we bought almost all of the ingredients we were still hunting for jarred (pickled) grape leaves...6 stores later including World Market which always has a ton of international food we still had no grape leaves.  Every store kept saying they stopped carrying them because nobody was buying them.  At this point we decided to give up and reschedule our Dolma making, we are hoping that we can find the grape leaves at a Mediterranean store.  So if you plan to make Dolmas be aware and plan ahead.  Another thing I need to invest in is a set of oven safe ramekins or bowls so I can host a French onion soup night!  Onto the recipe!

Serves 6

The Ingredients

5 -6 cups yellow onions, thinly sliced (about 1 1/2 to 2 lbs)

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons butter

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons flour

5 cups beef stock

1 cup beef consomme

1 cup white wine

1 bay leaf

1/2 teaspoon ground sage

salt and pepper

14 Swiss cheese slices

1/2 raw yellow onion

3 tablespoons cognac

6 slices French bread (about 1 inch thick)

4 tablespoons olive oil, for drizzling

The Process

1.  Place heavy bottom stock pot or dutch over over medium-low heat.  Add 1 Tbs cooking oil, 2Tbs butter to pot.

2.  Add sliced onions and stir until they are evenly coated with the oil.  Cover and cook for about 20 minutes until they are very tender and translucent.

3.  To brown or caramelize the onions turn heat under pot to medium or medium high heat.  Add 1/2 tsp sugar and 1 tsp salt and continue to cook uncovered, stirring frequently until the onions have browned and reduced significantly.

4.  Once caramelized, reduce heat to medium-low and add 3 Tbs flour to the onions.  Brown the flour for about 2-3 minutes trying not to scorch it. (If the flour does not form a thick paste, you can add a bit more butter here).

5.  Stir in about 1 cup of warm stock, scraping the bottom of the pan to get up all of the cooked-on bits.  Add the rest of the stock, consomme, wine, sage, and bay leaf to the soup.  Simmer for 30 minutes.

6.  To make the "croutes" (toasted bread), heat oven to 325 degrees F.  Drizzle each side of the bread slices with a bit of olive oil and place on baking sheet.  Cook the croutes for 15 minutes in oven on each side (30 minutes total).

7.  Check the soup for seasoning and add salt and pepper if needed.  Remove the bay leaf (if you can find it).  At this point you can add the 2-3 Tbs cognac and grate the 1/2 raw onion into the soup.  Add a 2 slices (ripped apart) of the Swiss cheese directly into the soup and stir

8.  Transfer to 6 oven safe bowls.  Place 1 toasted bread on top of each bowl of soup, then place 2 slices of Swiss cheese over each bowl in a thick layer on top of the bread making sure to cover the edges of the toast to prevent burning.

9.  Place all bowl on a cookie sheet (to prevent spilling) in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes. Then turn on broiler and brown cheese well.

10.  Let cool for a few minutes.  Bon Apetit!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Caramelized Onion, Mushroom, Pear & Parmesan Tartlets

Tonight I was suppose to attend my book club meeting but something came up and now I am unable, that being said we read the book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking...it was ok but I wasn't very entertained.  Anyway at our book club meetings we usually eat, drink, and discuss the book and come up with a new book to read, I unfortunately already made appetizers to bring over there and now they are just sitting in my fridge just waiting to be consumed.  Also how about that Blazer game last night against the Hornets?  We played horribly and then totally won because of pure luck at the end...Go Blazers!  Here is the original recipe that I adapted to make these delicious bites, they are a good option to bring to all of the holiday parties coming up.  Guess I will just keep this post short and sweet, enjoy!

Makes 30-32 bites

The Ingredients

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 large onion, thinly sliced

4 oz. crimini mushrooms, sliced

2 tbsp. salted butter

1½ Anjou Pears, cubed into ½" cubes

1 tsp. brown sugar

1½ oz. grated Parmesan cheese

2 tbsp. chives, minced

½ tsp. dried thyme

1 package (1 pound) of frozen puff pastry, thawed

1 egg, beaten

The Process

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line baking sheets with silicone baking mats. Set side.
In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and cook the onions (with 1 tsp. of salt) until they're golden brown, about 30 minutes. Remove and set aside in a large bowl. 

2.  In the same skillet, sauté mushrooms until tender, about 5 minutes. Remove and set aside in the bowl with the onions.

3.  In the same skillet, melt the butter and add in the pears with the sugar. Cook until softened, about 10 minutes. Remove from pan and add to the large bowl with onions and mushrooms.

4.  Add the cheese, chives, and thyme to the bowl and stir to combine the mixture well. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

5.  With a pizza cutter or a knife, cut the puff pastry into 2-inch squares and place them on the lined baking sheets. Using a pastry brush, brush beaten egg on the squares.

6.  Using a tablespoon, place filling in the middle of each puff pastry.
Bake for 10 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through and switching the baking sheet on the top rack to the bottom and the bottom to the top, until the pastry is golden brown and crisp.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Spicy Wonton Soup

Last night I cured my Monday pangs with this fabulous wonton soup.  Here is the original recipe, it is kind of hard to follow and some information was missing so I rewrote it and am presenting it in a digestible way.  I honestly can't get enough soup, it is my favorite food on this planet, well I do really love cured meats too.  Today is Veteran's day and it is definitely a hard one because it is the first one without my amazing grandpa, I love and miss him every single day.  Below I have posted two pictures, one is of my grandpa and I last year on Veteran's day, and the other is a picture of my grandpa, a merchant marine, right after radio school in 1942.  Anyway let this soup heal whatever is ailing your soul.  Also you will have a lot of leftover filling and wrappers so just freeze them and save them for another rainy day.

Serves 2

 The Ingredients

10 gluten free wonton wrappers (you can buy or make them with this recipe)

3 cups chicken broth

Meat Stuffing:

3 green onions, chopped

6 fresh crimini mushrooms, chopped

2 teaspoons ginger, grated

2 eggs

1 pound ground pork with some fat

½ teaspoon black pepper powder

½ teaspoon salt

2 teaspoon arrowroot powder

1 teaspoon cooking wine

½ tablespoon sesame oil

Sauce for Spicy Version (split between two bowls):

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 tablespoon tamari

1 teaspoon chili oil

1 teaspoon rice vinegar

2 green onions, chopped

2 cups fresh spinach

The Process

1.  Put the ginger and 1 tablespoon of boiling water into a bowl and mix  Slice the fresh mushrooms and chop the 3 green onions.

2.  Put the fresh mushrooms, chopped green onions, ground pork , arrowroot powder and ginger sauce in a large bowl. Then add 1 tablespoon of yellow wine, ½ teaspoon of black pepper powder, ½ tablespoon of sesame oil and 1 /2 teaspoon of salt. Stir all the ingredients in one direction at least for 4-5 minutes.

3.  Add 2 eggs. Continue to mix. Put the meat stuffing aside for about 15 ~ 20 minutes.

4.  Put the wonton wrapper in the center of the left hand. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of meat stuffing onto the center of the wrapper. Moisten the edges of the wonton wrappers with water. Fold one corner of the wrapper over the opposite corner to make a triangle. Hold the wrapper with both hands, curl the corner on the right in first and then the curl the corner on the left to seal with another corner. But make sure that you press them firmly.  Make 10 wontons (5 each)

5.  Boil chicken broth in a pot. Put the wontons in to cook for about 5 minutes.

6.  Prepare the serving bowls; add sesame oil, tamari, rice vinegar, 2 chopped green onion, and chili oil. Put the spinach in the bottom and spoon the wontons and broth into each bowl.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Three Cheese Lasagna with Italian Sausage

As I mentioned a couple posts ago this last weekend we went to Hood River, OR to visit my grandma, it was such a nice, sunny, and relaxing weekend out of town.  As a child my family and I visited Hood River, OR all the time during the summer so it is much like a home away from home.  I wanted to make sure my grandmother got plenty to eat and that there would be leftovers she could freeze for times when she doesn't want to cook, so we made this amazingly delicious lasagna from Bon Appetit.  I will say that if you like saucy lasagna definitely add more crushed tomatoes to this recipe, as the sauce was chunky and not very saucy.  This week entails cold temperatures and a slight slight chance of snow here in PDX...it's definitely early for snow, so we will just have to see.  I'm completely fine with getting some snow as long as we have power because I live in a house built in 1903 and it has very little insulation and I need to be cozy.  (Below is a picture of my adorable little grandma and me).  So put some meat on your bones and eat this cheese filled lasagna!

Serves 10

The Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 cup chopped onion

3/4 cup finely chopped peeled carrots

2 tablespoons minced garlic

ounces lean ground beef

6 ounces spicy Italian sausages, casings removed

1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes with added puree

1/4 cup tomato paste

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

1 tablespoon golden brown sugar

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1 bay leaf

1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper

15 lasagna noodles (about 12 ounces)

2 15-ounce containers part-skim ricotta cheese

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese (about 3 ounces)

1 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained, squeezed dry

2 large eggs

4 3/4 cups grated mozzarella cheese (about 1 1/4 pounds)

The Process

1.  Heat oil in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, carrots and garlic; sauté until softened, about 12 minutes. Add beef and sausages to pan; sauté until cooked through, breaking up meat with back of spoon, about 5 minutes.

2.  Add remaining ingredients. Cover and simmer until flavors blend and sauce measures about 5 cups, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Discard bay leaf. Cool.

1.  Preheat oven to 350°F. Cook noodles in large pot of boiling salted water until almost tender, about 7 minutes. Drain; cover with cold water.

2.  Combine ricotta and 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese in medium bowl. Mix in spinach. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Mix in eggs.

3.  Drain pasta and pat dry. Spread 1/2 cup sauce over bottom of 13x9-inch glass baking dish. Place 5 noodles over sauce, overlapping to fit. Spread half of ricotta-spinach mixture evenly over noodles.

4.  Sprinkle 2 cups mozzarella cheese evenly over ricotta-spinach mixture. Spoon 1 1/2 cups sauce over cheese, spreading with spatula to cover (sauce will be thick). Repeat layering with 5 noodles, remaining ricotta-spinach mixture, 2 cups mozzarella and 1 1/2 cups sauce.

5.  Arrange remaining 5 noodles over sauce. Spread remaining sauce over noodles. Sprinkle remaining 3/4 cup mozzarella cheese and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese evenly over lasagna. (Can be prepared up to 1 day ahead. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate.) Cover baking dish with aluminum foil. Bake lasagna 40 minutes; uncover and bake until hot and bubbly, about 40 minutes. Let lasagna stand 15 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Avgolemono (Greek Lemon Chicken Soup)

First off can we talk about how well the Blazers played last night?!  They ended up killing Cleveland which is no small feat...I will say while cable is dumb expensive I really love having Comcast Sports Network.  Yesterday was a cold dark day here in the PNW so I decided it was time to make another soup, I adapted this recipe and it was so wonderful and citrusy.  I personally can't get enough citrus and vinegar in my life, on the other hand my boyfriend is super sensitive to both...I guess palates are just very different.  Here is a post by a Nutritional Therapist in Seattle, not sure how legit it is but it is a start to understanding my cravings (since I'm a librarian it is time I do some real research on this topic).  Onto the recipe!

Serves 4

The Ingredients

1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/2 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized chunks
1 1/2 cup diced onion
3/4 cup chopped celery
3/4 cup diced carrots
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
6 cups chicken broth
1 cups water
3 cups cooked rice 
2 large eggs
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
Fresh ground pepper and salt to taste
The Process
1.  Heat 1 teaspoon oil in soup pot over medium-high heat. Season the chicken with salt and add to the pot, cook ~ 5 minutes or until just cooked through. Remove chicken from pot and set aside.

2.  Add 2 more teaspoons of oil to the pot. Add onions, celery, carrots and thyme and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. Add 5 cups of the chicken broth and 1 cup of water and bring to a boil. Let simmer about 8 minutes. Turn heat down to low to keep soup hot.

3.  Warm remaining 1 cup chicken broth in a small saucepan until it's hot, but not boiling. In a medium bowl, beat eggs and gradually whisk lemon juice into the eggs. Then gradually add the hot broth to the egg-lemon mixture, whisking the entire time. Add the mixture to the soup, stirring well until the soup is thickened. Add cooked chicken back to the soup and season with salt & pepper. Do not let soup come to a boil or it will curdle.

4.  Add 1/2 cup rice to bowl and pour soup over the top, enjoy!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Chicken à la Bacon

Here we all are back to the grind of another work week.  Halloween was great, the party was a perfect size and there were so many lovely snacks to enjoy.  Also the Ducks won, they killed Stanford which was unexpected and awesome!  While in Eugene, OR I got to visit with a close friend and meet her baby for the first time (pictured below).  His name is Oscar and is so big, active, and adorable.  This weekend we are headed up to Hood River, OR to visit with my grandma, she is having a hard time since the loss of my grandpa but we plan to cheer her up with a hearty dinner on Saturday night.  We are also going to stop by Aniche Cellars and pick up our first club members case, so excited!  If you haven't visited this winery I recommend you do because not only is it in a great location, but the staff is nice, and the wine is delectable! Now let's talk food, this is a recipe I made a while back and it is so so delicious, creamy, and paleo!  It is a dish that I forgot to take a picture of so the picture below is from the original recipe linked here.  The photo credit goes to Living Nutrition.

Serves 4

The Ingredients

4 oz bacon, chopped

1 onion, chopped

2 leeks, chopped

1 package mushrooms, halved

1 red bell pepper, diced

2 chicken breasts, diced

up to a ½ cup white wine

1 (14 oz) can full-fat coconut milk

1 tablespoon arrowroot powder dissolved in the reserved ¼ cup of coconut milk.
The Process
1.Heat a large frying pan over medium high heat. Add the chopped bacon and fry until semi crispy, set aside in a large bowl, and drain off all but 2 tablespoons bacon fat.

2.Add the onion and leeks to the pan and cook for 3 minutes or until the onion starts to turn translucent.

3.Add chicken, mushrooms, cooked bacon and red bell pepper. Cook for another 5 minutes.

4.Add white wine and cook until wine is reduced by ¾.

5.Add all but a ¼ cup of the coconut milk.

6.Add the tablespoon of arrowroot to the ¼ cup of reserved coconut milk and cook until thickened. If too thick, you can add a splash of water to thin it out a little.

7.Season with salt and pepper.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Hungarian Mushroom Soup

I'm really excited for tonight because I get to go to the season opener game for the Blazers!!!  I just love watching basketball, I appreciate how fast of a game it is and all the excitement with the loud announcers, music, and fans.  In other news Halloween is almost here and I can't wait, my boyfriend and I are going to a movie character themed party and we are dressing up as Jessica and Roger Rabbit.  Speaking of this weekend it sure is going to be a busy one, Saturday morning we are getting up and driving to Eugene, OR for the Ducks vs. Stanford game which will be a major game (I sure hope we win).  Now let's talk food, my friend Rebecca came over last night and we actually made something together that didn't involve pimento cheese, instead it involved lots of mushrooms which we both love.  We adapted this Moosewood recipe and ate the soup while watching Halloween II (one of my favorites).  Enjoy!

Serves 4

The Ingredients

12  ounces mushrooms, sliced  

2  cups onions, chopped  

3  tablespoons butter  

3  tablespoons flour  

1 cup milk (whole)                                                                                                                                                                                      
2  teaspoons dill weed, fresh                                                                                                                                                                        
1  tablespoon Hungarian paprika  

1  tablespoon tamari soy sauce  

1  teaspoon salt  

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 cups vegetable stock
2  teaspoons lemon juice, fresh

1/4 cup parsley, chopped

Black pepper to taste

1 cup sour cream

The Process

Saute onions in 1 Tbsp olive oil and 2 Tbsp stock, salt lightly.

2.  A few minutes later, add mushrooms, 1 tsp dill, 1/2 cup stock or water, soy sauce, and paprika.

3.  Cover and simmer 15 minutes.

4.  Melt butter in large saucepan.

5.  Whisk in flour and cook, whisking, a few minutes.

6.  Add milk and cook, stirring frequently, over low heat about 10 minutes - until thick.

7.  Stir in mushroom mixture and remaining stock.

8.  Cover and simmer 10-15 minutes.

9.  Just before serving, add salt, pepper, lemon juice, sour cream, and, if desired, extra dill (1 tsp).

10.  Serve garnished with parsley


Monday, October 27, 2014

Shepard's Pie

It's been pretty stormy here in PDX, Saturday late afternoon about 140,000 people lost their power.  In fact my parents still don't have power...that's going on 45 hours now and they have a power line across their road (PGE is not making any friends that's for sure).  I can say I was very happy our power didn't go out because I was in the process of making this lovely Shepard's pie!  For the first time we had power and no one else did; our neighborhood is old with most of our power lines are above ground so our power goes out often.  This weekend we also finally made it out to the pumpkin patch, we went to Kruger Farm on Sauvie's Island and it was a blast!  I tried Captured by Porches pumpkin cider which is a mix of hard cider and pumpkin ale, it was delicious.  Onto the food, after reviewing multiple recipes for Shepard's Pie (or Cottage Pie) I came up with this awesome recipe.  Enjoy!

Serves 5

The Ingredients
3 medium to large golden potatoes, quartered
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups vegetables—diced carrots, corn, peas
1 1/2 lbs ground round beef
1/2 cup vegetable broth
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 skim coconut milk (or any other type of milk)
2 tablespoons plain yogurt (I used whole fat)
2 tablespoons creamy horseradish
Salt and pepper to taste

The Process

1.  Place the quartered potatoes in medium sized pot. Cover with at least an inch of cold water. Add a teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until tender (about 20 minutes).

2.  While the potatoes are cooking, melt 4 tablespoons of the butter in a large sauté pan on medium heat. Add the chopped onions. garlic, and carrots.  Cook until tender, about 6 to 10 minutes.

3.  Add ground beef, peas, and corn to the pan with the onions. Cook until no longer pink. Season with salt and pepper. Add the Worcestershire sauce and vegetable broth. Bring the mixture to a simmer and reduce heat to low. Cook uncovered for 10 minutes, adding more broth if necessary to keep the meat from drying out.

4.  When the potatoes are done cooking (a fork can easily pierce), remove them from the pot and place them in a bowl with the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter, creamy horseradish, coconut milk, and yogurt.  Mash with a fork or potato masher, and season with salt and pepper to taste.  The potatoes should be nice a creamy at this point.

5.  Preheat oven to 400°F. Spread the beef, onions, and vegetables (if using) in an even layer in a large deep casserole dish (if there is a lot of extra liquid make sure to drain it out).  Spread the mashed potatoes over the top of the ground beef. Rough up the surface of the mashed potatoes with a fork so there are peaks that will get well browned.

6.  Place in a 400°F oven and cook until browned and bubbling, about 30 minutes. If necessary, broil for the last few minutes to help the surface of the mashed potatoes brown.
Also here we are at the pumpkin patch, the sun came out just for us!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Italian Celery and Mushroom Salad

I'm so happy it is Friday, it has been a long week filled with a lot of emotions.  Tuesday was my grandpa's funeral and it was such a beautiful service.  It really helped being surrounded by lots of family and we all got through it together.  The funeral was in Hood River, OR and I ended up staying the night with family which was a really good decision.  Not only did I get to cook for everyone but my mother is learning how to do Bowen technique which is an alternative type of bodywork (like acupuncture) that focuses on muscles, tendons, and fascia.  Since she is still training and learning she has to have documented practice hours so she did a bunch of work on me and the next day my body felt amazing.  Speaking of taking care of my body tonight I am going to my first yoga (Vinyasa) class in years, back in college I did yoga almost everyday and I sure do miss it.  Onto the food I made this salad last night for a lovely friend potluck, we were entertained by games and a brand new kitten.  I also forgot to take a picture of the salad so the picture below is from the original recipe (linked above) and the photo credit goes to James Ransom.

Serves 4-6

The Ingredients

7 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil, divided
1 pound mushrooms, delicate varieties such as cremini, oyster, or shiitake are best, wiped clean as sliced as thin as possible
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (I ended up adding more because I love citrus)
8 ribs celery, shaved paper thin (use a mandolin if you have one)
1 cup shaved parmigiano reggiano cheese
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/4cup chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley
The Process
1.  Saute the mushrooms: In a skillet, heat 3 Tbsp olive oil over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the sliced mushrooms and saute until golden brown, 5-6 minutes. Season with a little salt and pepper and then set aside to cool.

2.  Toss the salad: In a large serving bowl, whisk the remaining 4 Tbsp olive oil with the lemon juice. Add a little salt and pepper and then taste. Add more oil or lemon juice as you like. Add the celery, cooled mushrooms, cheese, and parsley to the bowl and toss until combined. Season with sea salt and pepper and serve.