Friday, December 18, 2015

Tomato "Bruschetta" with Tuna and Cannellini Salad

TGIF!  So happy it is Friday, I feel like the last two months at work have been harder than usual but it is almost Christmas and that is all that really matters!  Tonight I get to make cookies and candies with a good friend of mine which we are trying to make a tradition since I am not much of a baker and it is a fun festive activity.  Then tomorrow I have some shopping left to do but in the evening I am going to The Nutcracker with my mom and aunt.  My mom and I have gone almost every year since I was a child and it is one of my favorite holiday events, especially since I did ballet for 11 years.  I often miss ballet but it helps that I do Zumba and take African dance classes here and there.  Now let's talk food, last night I adapted this recipe and it is one I made years ago and it is still as delicious as I remember it.  Enjoy!

Serves 4

The Ingredients
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Finely shredded zest of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon honey
3 tablespoons chopped chives
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, plus more for garnish
1 can (15 oz.) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 cans (5 oz. each) tuna, preferably packed in natural juices, drained and broken into chunks
4 green onions, thinly sliced
8 thick slices large heirloom tomatoes (Marianna's Peace are especially tasty)

The Process
1. In a medium bowl, whisk together oil, lemon zest and juice, salt, pepper, honey, and chives. Add parsley leaves, beans, tuna, and onions and stir gently just until coated.

2. Arrange tomato slices on 4 plates and spoon tuna mixture on top, dividing evenly. Top each salad with a few parsley leaves if you like.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Hot and Sour Soup with Pork and Kale

Well as you can guess last weekend was fabulous and we had an amazing time at The Grand Lodge.  Below is a picture of the sake and food pairings we had and it was all super delicious.  I can't believe that Christmas is around the corner I still have quite a few gifts to pick up and I'm hoping that some of the stores still have what I want in stock.  Are you all feeling the holiday craze yet?  Well last weekend we went to Target to do a little gift shopping and holy hell was it crazy, there was a line just to check out that weaved all around the store, no thank you!  The part of the holidays I can't wait for of course is family time...well and the food.  This year we are spending actual Christmas with my fiance's family but then we are coming back to PDX on the 26th and having a Christmas with my family...well my parents at least.  It is hard having both of our families living in two different places but the switching off every other year does help alleviate all the traveling we would have to do.  Onto the food, last night I adapted this recipe and added a little healthy twist to it by adding kale.

Serves 4

The Ingredients
5 cups chicken broth
4 ounces crimini mushrooms, thinly sliced
1/2 bunch of curly kale, chopped
1 lb. ground pork
3 cloves garlic, pressed
2 teaspoons ginger, grated
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
4 tablespoons rice vinegar or red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon chili sauce, such as sambal oelek or sriracha
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons corn starch mixed into 2 tablespoons cold water
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons sesame seed oil
1 teaspoon black pepper
4 green onions, sliced

The Process
1.  In large pot cook ground pork over medium heat until almost all the pink is gone.

2.  Then add the broth, mushrooms, garlic, kale, ginger, vinegars, chili sauce, soy sauce and sugar and bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

3.  Mix in the cornstarch and water mixture and simmer until the soup thickens a bit, about 2 minutes. Slowly pour in the eggs in a thin stream while stirring the soup.

4.  Mix in the sesame oil, black pepper and green onions, remove from heat and enjoy!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Bean and Bacon Soup

Today marks a very special day for me, it is my 4 year anniversary with my fiance.  I am so thankful for him and know that our partnership can handle whatever life throws at us because when it comes down to it he is my best friend.  Below is an old picture of us hiking around Oaks Bottom in the first couple months that we were dating.  To celebrate we are headed out of town this weekend to Forest Grove and are staying at The Grand Lodge.  It is a fun old building full of history and it has been beautifully restored.  There is a soaking pool, disc golf, and a theater so there will be no lack of entertainment.  Also near the lodge is the Sake One brewery and tasting room so we will do some sake tasting that is paired with food and then take a walking tour of the brewery.  We did this several years ago for our anniversary and had so much fun we decided it had to happen again.  The other fun thing is that since Christmas is just around the corner The Grand Lodge decorates the entire lodge and is super festive with carolers and all! I love it!  Let's talk food, this soup is a copycat recipe of the Campbells canned soup.  This soup reminds me of my childhood best friend because her parents always had cans of it and we ate it constantly.  I adapted this recipe and immediately time traveled back to 1991.  Enjoy!

Serves 4-5

The Ingredients
8 ounces thick cut bacon
1 cup yellow onion, diced
1 cup carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
3 cloves garlic, pressed
4 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon bacon fat
3 (15 ounce) cans Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
2 green onions, chopped
Large pinch salt and pepper
A splash of apple cider vinegar

The Process
1.  Cook bacon on stove top until it is crisp but still a little chewy.  Let cool and chop.

2.  Heat a large pot over medium high heat and add bacon fat.  Then add onions, carrots, and celery and cook for 2 minutes.  Then add garlic, broth, pepper, bacon, and beans.  Bring to a boil and then cover and simmer.

3.  Simmer for about 30 minutes or until the carrots are soft.  Then add apple cider vinegar and salt if needed.  Serve into bowls and garnish with green onions.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Chicken Meatballs with Braised Lemon and Kale

Wow this week has been a whirlwind I can't believe it is already Wednesday...I need more time!  This is how the holidays feel every year to me and it takes a lot wrapping up the year at work too.  Last weekend was very nice and relaxing, we went out to some craft fairs and did some holiday shopping and watched many Christmas movies which was perfect for the very rainy weather here in PDX.  If you are from the NW I'm sure you have heard about all the severe flooding we are having and it is causing many landslides, sink holes, and falling trees.  Gotta love this crazy weather!  We also went and got our Christmas tree last weekend and it sure is a funny one but of course I love it (pictured below).  Last night one of my good friends came over to make dinner with me and I hadn't seen her since August which was before my Europe trip and engagement, so we obviously had a lot of catching up to do.  Among all the talking we did manage to adapt this recipe and it was crazy delicious...I wish I had more right now.

Serves 2-3

The Ingredients
2 tablespoons bacon fat, divided
2 medium shallots, minced, divided
3 scallions, minced (all parts), plus thinly sliced green tops for garnish
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 pound ground chicken meat
1 teaspoon kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, plus more
1 lemon, very thinly sliced and seeds removed
2 cups chicken broth
1 large bunch curly kale, destemmed

The Process
1.  Heat 1 Tbsp. bacon fat in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add shallot, scallion, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring constantly until softened and fragrant, about 6 minutes.

2.  Add 1/3 of ground chicken and cook just until cooked through, breaking up any clumps. Transfer to a medium bowl and let cool slightly. Add remaining chicken meat, salt, and several grindings of black pepper. Mix just to combine.

3.  Wipe out pot and add remaining Tbsp. bacon fat. Heat over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Form meat mixture into 8 meatballs each about 2–2 1⁄2-inch in diameter and add to pot (mixture will be soft). Cook until light golden brown on all sides, 6–8 minutes total. Remove meatballs to a plate; set aside.

4.  Add remaining shallot and lemon slices and cook until lemon slices are tender and starting to turn light golden brown, about 2 minutes. Add chicken broth and return meatballs to pot.

5.  Bring to simmer, lower heat and cover. Cook meatballs until cooked through, 8-10 minutes. Add kale to pot, and cook until tender and bright green, 4–5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and remove from heat. Divide kale and sauce among 2 shallow bowls, topping with meatballs and lemon slices. Garnish with sliced scallion tops and serve.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Blistered Green Beans with Tomato-Almond Pesto

Last night The Portland Kitchen (where I volunteer) held an amazing fundraising event at the Portland Airbnb office and it was a huge success!  I was in charge of selling drink tickets so I didn't get to mingle a ton with everyone but there were a lot of guests and very delicious food and drinks.  I can't say enough how much I love volunteering for such an amazing organization and the focus on our youth and food are two of my major passions.  This time of year is a great time for giving so if you feel so inclined please go to their website and make a donation, every little bit counts!  They have another fun event coming up called Cookies & Cocktails, go check out the event page for more fun details.   Anyway I am so happy that it is Friday, seems as if every week is a long week during the holiday season with so much happening all the time.  I am very excited for this weekend because not only do we get to relax a bunch but we will be attending some fun holiday craft fairs, visit with a good friend from out of town, and we are going to get our Christmas tree!  I am a person who really does love the holiday season, and speaking of my favorite holiday just passed (Thanksgiving) and here is what I made for it.  (Note I forgot to take a picture in the excitement of it all so this photo credit goes to Bon Appetit, which is also where the recipe is from.)

Serves 8

The Ingredients
2 pints cherry tomatoes
¼ cup unsalted, roasted almonds
1 garlic clove, grated
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons Sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon paprika
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
3 teaspoons vegetable oil
2 pounds haricots verts or green beans, trimmed

The Process
1.  Preheat oven to 450°. Roast tomatoes on a rimmed baking sheet, turning once, until blistered and lightly charred, 15–20 minutes. Let cool slightly.

2.  Finely chop almonds in a food processor. Add garlic, olive oil, vinegar, paprika, cayenne, and half of tomatoes; pulse to a coarse pesto consistency. Season with salt and pepper. 

3.  Heat 1½ tsp. vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add half of beans; cook, undisturbed, until beginning to blister, about 2 minutes. Toss and continue to cook, tossing occasionally, until tender, 7–9 minutes; season with salt and pepper. Spread beans out on a platter; let cool. Repeat with remaining vegetable oil and beans. 

4.  Toss beans with pesto; season with salt and pepper if needed. Add remaining tomatoes and transfer to a platter. 

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Tom Kha

I lied the green beans I made for Thanksgiving will not be this post but my next post;)  I have been on a really good kick of working out and mostly eating healthy lately and my body has been feeling amazing because of it.  Do you ever have those moments when you are in the middle of your workout and all of a sudden your body's strength takes over and each movement becomes that much more powerful?  Well that has been where I am at and it feels good because I have put in a lot of hard work getting let's hope the holiday season doesn't throw me off haha.  In other fun news I am finally booking my flight to go out and visit one of my best friends ever in Austin, TX this spring.  Not only am I ecstatic to see her and her husband but I've never been to Austin and have heard wonderful things about the music and food scenes.  It will be a long overdue epic adventure that I will have so much to write about when I get back, especially the food.  Onto the soup, I adapted this recipe and made my favorite Thai soup ever...I can't even go to a Thai restaurant without ordering it.  I hope you enjoy this on a crisp cold fall evening like I did last night.

Serves 6

The Ingredients
1 1” piece ginger, grated
1 Tbsp. lime zest and ¼ cup lime juice
6 cups chicken broth
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced and the rings cut in half
2 roma tomatoes cut into bite size pieces
1 tablespoon garlic chili sauce (or to desired hotness)
1½ lb. skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1” pieces
8 oz. cremini mushrooms, cut in half
1 13.5-oz. can coconut milk
2 Tbsp. fish sauce (such as nam pla or nuoc nam)
1 tsp. sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons lemongrass paste
Cilantro leaves with tender stems, and lime wedges (for serving)

The Process
1.  Bring lemongrass, ginger, lime zest and juice, and broth to a boil in a large saucepan. Reduce heat and simmer until flavors are melded, 8–10 minutes.

2.  Add chicken and return to a boil. Reduce heat, add mushrooms, onion, and tomatoes and simmer, skimming occasionally, until chicken is cooked through and mushrooms are soft, 20–25 minutes.

3.  Mix in coconut milk, fish sauce, sugar, and garlic chili sauce.  Then divide soup among bowls. Serve with cilantro and lime wedges.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Creamy Cabbage and Kielbasa

How was everyone's Thanksgiving weekend?  Mine was full of lots of family, food, and the outdoors as it was sunny and cold all weekend here in PDX.  Below is a picture of my cousin and I at the view point we hiked to in Forest Park the day after Thanksgiving.  It has been in the 30's and 40's for about a week now and yesterday when I woke up it was even 29 degrees!  In this kind of weather all I ever want to make are soups, so I apologize if you aren't a huge soup fan but there will be lots of them posted in the coming months.  In other news this will be pretty eventful week because my fiance and I are having our first meeting with a realtor to talk about buying a house this year.  It is such a big and exciting step in life I can't wait to begin the process.  I definitely know it will be stressful and challenging at times but isn't that what cooking is for?  It always helps calm my nerves and bring me back down to earth, my love for food goes deep.  Anyway my next post will be the dish I made for Thanksgiving which was a fabulous green bean dish from Bon Apetit.  I adapted this creamy cabbage and kielbasa the night before Thanksgiving because of how light and healthy it is.  And trust me it was super delicious so I hope you enjoy!

Serves 5

The Ingredients
1 medium head of green cabbage, chopped coarse
2 medium yellow onions, sliced
salt and pepper to taste
¼ cup Dijon mustard
2 cups plain yogurt
1 14oz Pork Polska Kielbasa, sliced

The Process
1.  In a large pot or dutch oven, add enough water to barely cover the bottom of the pot, place coarsely chopped cabbage and sliced onions.

2.  Cook on medium heat until cabbage and onions are tender.  Salt and pepper to taste.

3.  Stir in mustard and yogurt and add cut up pork kielbasa.  Mix well and serve.