Friday, February 26, 2016

Chicken and Beef Springroll Bowl

Happy happy happy Friday from the Pacific Northwest!  I am so happy it is the end of the week, I can't wait to get home and cook tonight and just relax this weekend (even though I do have some plans).  I am also really happy because the Portland Dining Month list of restaurants participating just came out and I can't wait to enjoy delicious foods!  These are my top choices: Bar Avignon, Accanto, Aviary, Kachka, Pono farm soul kitchen, Smallwares, Tabla, and Verdigris.  It is going to be a very tough decision to choose just one of these places.  Tonight we have some friends coming over for dinner before we go to my brother's comedy show and I am going to make tomato goat cheese risotto (which is on my blog), braised kale greens, and some seared steak on the side because one of the friends is vegetarian.  It is going to be a delicious and perfect happy Friday meal!  Ok onto the recipe, I adapted this recipe with my friend and had the steamed spinach with garlic ginger sauce as a side and the two went perfectly together.  Enjoy!

Serves 4

The Ingredients
2 Tablespoon fish sauce
2 Tablespoon sherry (replace with 1 tsp coconut aminos for Whole30 version)
Juice of 1 lime
2 inch piece of ginger, diced fine
2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 bunches medium bok choy
4 garlic cloves, very finely minced
1/2 red onion, very finely minced
1 1/2 tablespoons chili garlic paste
1/2 pint white mushrooms, chopped
1/2 pound ground chicken
1/1 pound ground beef
1 cup finely chopped cilantro
1/4 cup chopped mint

The Process
1.  Make your dressing. In a small bowl, mix together the fish sauce, sherry or coconut aminos, lime juice, ginger and sesame oil. Set aside.

2.  Prep the bok choy. Trim of the bottom of the bunch and discard, and then separate the tender leaves from the thicker white parts near the stalk.

3.  Heat a large skillet or wok over medium high heat. Add the garlic cloves, onion, chili garlic paste, mushrooms and the white parts of the bok choy and sauté until the onion is translucent. Transfer the vegetables mixture to a plate.

4.  Return the skillet to medium high heat and cook the chicken and beef until done though - about 5 minutes maybe more.

5.  Pour off any fat from the skillet and return the vegetables to the pan, mixing well with the chicken and beef.

6.  Add the dressing, the green tender parts of the bok choy, the cilantro, and the mint and mix well. Serve.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Spicy Tomato and Blue Cheese Soup with Spinach and Bacon

It is almost Friday and once again I can't wait for the weekend!  Friday night we are going to see my older brother's comedy show at Curious Comedy Theater which should be pretty entertaining.  My parents are also attending so it will be nice to see them.  Then Saturday night one of my best friends and her boyfriend are coming over and we are going to all make delicious Grilled Steak Tacos with Cilantro Chimichurri Sauce, Pico de Gallo, and Pickled Onions.  And of course a delicious and fresh avocado slaw to go on the side, it will be a true feast!  While I love going out of town I also love staying in town, it is nice to get out of the city but it is also nice to be at home and get things around the house done and sleep in forever.  It has been super beautiful and sunny in Portland the last several days and I wish it would last through the weekend but of course the rain comes in tomorrow just in time for the weekend.  Tonight I am going over to my good friend's house and she is trying the trial of Blue Apron right now which is a very interesting concept to me.  If you haven't heard of it, it is a company that sends you healthy sustainable food with recipes and all the ingredients to make a meal for 4 each night.  Tonight we are making ramen so I am excited to see how tasty and easy it really is.  Onto my food, last night I adapted this recipe to make this amazing soup you see.  I really enjoyed it but if you are not use to creamy things it might be a little rich for you.

Serves 2-4

The Ingredients
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
 Kosher salt
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 28-ounce can of tomatoes, undrained
1 1/2 cups chicken stock broth
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons store-bought or homemade Sriracha sauce
1 teaspoon oregano leaves
1/2 cup crumbled creamy blue cheese
4 cups spinach
5 pieces of bacon, cooked and chopped

The Process
1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and a generous pinch of salt and stir to coat the onion with oil. Cover and cook the onions for 2 minutes.

2. Add the garlic, cover the pot, and cook for 2 more minutes. Add the tomatoes along with their juice and the broth and bring to a simmer. Add the cream, Sriracha sauce, and oregano and simmer gently for 45 minutes.

3. Let the soup cool for 10 minutes. While soup is cooling cook spinach.  Add a little olive oil to a pan over medium-high heat and add spinach until it wilts, about a minute.

4.  When soup is done cooling add the blue cheese and blend until smooth in a blender, working in batches if needed (or with a hand blender).

5.  Serve soup in bowls and serve with bacon and spinach on top.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Lemon and Spinach Chicken

Happy Wednesday, we are half way through the week yay!  The beach last weekend was fabulous, it was so nice and sunny on Saturday that we were hanging out on the porch in t-shirts (picture below).  Although when we arrived to the beach on Friday it started hailing sporadically and was very windy...feels like spring in Oregon!  Now this will be my final post about New Orleans on our final night in town we went to this amazing Italian restaurant called Domenica and it is attached to a beautiful old hotel.  There were so many delicious things on the menu that it was hard for me to choose. We all shared the roasted cauliflower with whipped feta (pictured below) and ceci caponata which was chickpeas and ricotta on grilled bread. I really wanted to try the octopus carpaccio but I knew no one else would have eaten it. Then for my main course I ordered the stracci which consists of wide green noodles oxtail ragu and fried chicken livers (pictured below) and I was blown away. The noodles were delicious and covered in the amazing ragu and the chicken livers were cooked perfectly and still pink in the middle.  I was a very happy camper.  After dinner we decided to go to Harrah's Casino which was such a trip, I didn't win any money but I only played $20 so no biggie (picture below).  Some of my co-workers had better luck though and won $60 off of $20 which was pretty exciting.  After another walk down Bourbon Street we decided to head back to the hotel and hit the hay.  All in all it was an amazing and exhausting trip but I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.  I adapted this recipe last night and it was healthy and satisfying, enjoy! I served this with steamed broccoli.

Serves 3

The Ingredients
3 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon paprika
3 tablespoons butter, divided
3 tablespoons minced garlic
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Juice of 1 lemon
4 cups baby spinach, torn

The Process
1.  Cut each chicken breasts into 2 or 3 smaller pieces. Salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with paprika. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

2.  Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add chicken sear both sides until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes per side. Remove from pan and set aside in a 13x9 pan.

3.  Melt remaining tablespoon butter in the skillet. Add garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes until starting to brown. Stir in chicken broth, heavy cream, 1/4 cup of Parmesan, and lemon juice.  Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium, stir in spinach, and simmer until the spinach has reduced in size and the sauce has slightly thickened, about 3-5 minutes. Pour mixture over chicken in pan and sprinkle the last 1/4 cup of Parmesan over the chicken.

4.  Place into oven and roast until completely cooked through about 15 minutes.  Serve immediately.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Steamed Spinach with Garlic Ginger Sauce

A couple nights in a row in New Orleans we ended up having dinner at a restaurant called Willa Jean, and they had a wonderful selection of southern comfort foods on their menu.  It was so hard to choose what to eat because everything looked delicious.  The first time we went here I couldn't resist the roasted beet salad and the grilled pimento cheese with roasted tomato soup (pictured below).  It was the most perfect meal to warm me up and heal me after a long day of work.  As you know from my other posts I am somewhat obsessed with pimento cheese and can't pass it up when it is presented to me.  You may also have noticed that I am obsessed with soup, soup is my favorite thing to eat...well besides beef tartare.  Anyway the second night that we went to Willa Jean I got the French onion soup and it was perfect.  The bread was wonderfully toasted and the cheese all super gooey...a part of me died it was so good (pictured below).  This restaurant also had very reasonable prices and great service, so if you find yourself in the area you should check it out.  But here I am back in PDX and it is dark outside and pouring rain...makes me want soup right now.  I am super happy though because today is my Friday because I took tomorrow off to head to the coast for the whole weekend!  We have a lovely bunch of 11 people going with us and lots of dogs, should be a blast.  Now the food, last night I created a delicious meal with my friend Sarah and here is the side dish that I adapted.

Serves 2-3

The Ingredients
1 pound spinach
3 teaspoons ginger, grated
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
2 teaspoon oyster sauce
2 teaspoon tamari
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons chicken broth

The Process
1.  Bring water to a rapid boil in a pot with a steam basket.  Add cleaned spinach and let it cook for about 3 minutes or until steamed. 

2.  Remove from heat. Drain and rinse in cold water. Drain again.

3.  Divide spinach in a small flat-bottom bowls and squeeze out the remaining water by using your fist against the spinach. Flip bowl onto desired the serving plate respectively.

4. Now mix all the sauce ingredients together: ginger, garlic, oyster sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil, brown sugar, and chicken broth.  When mixed pour over mound of spinach and eat.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Alton Brown's Shepard's Pie

Back to New Orleans, my second day there after a long day of work a group of us decided to venture out and see some more parades.  The parade we were waiting for ended up taking so long to come that most of us decided we needed to seek out some food and my boss had the best idea of going to Yuki Izakaya.  This was a little place with lots of character and luckily there was room enough for our group to eat.  The beef tongue was unreal and so tender which is not how a lot of places serve it. We also had lots and lots of salmon belly which was superb. The seaweed salad tasted super fresh and perfectly seasoned. And lets not forget the delicious tuna (all pictured below).  While we were eating the parade finally caught up with us and we kept running outside to catch glimpses, it was pretty entertaining.  Once we were done with this fabulous meal we again ventured over to Bourbon Street for the newbies to experience.  We also stopped at the oldest bar in New Orleans called Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop Bar.  It was pretty cool inside and very crowded so we only stayed for one drink and then headed back to the hotel for the night.  Last week I adapted this recipe and the friends we had over for dinner loved it.  Perfect meal for a cold night, enjoy!

Serves 8

The Ingredients

For the potatoes:
1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes
1/4 cup half-and-half
2 ounces butter
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup Parmesan, grated
3 tablespoons creamy horseradish

For the meat filling:
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 carrots, peeled and diced small
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons tomato paste
1 cup chicken broth
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons freshly chopped rosemary leaves
1 teaspoon freshly chopped thyme leaves
1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
1/2 cup fresh or frozen English peas

The Process
1.  Peel the potatoes and cut into 1/2-inch dice. Place in a medium saucepan and cover with cold water. Set over high heat, cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, uncover, decrease the heat to maintain a simmer and cook until tender and easily crushed with tongs, approximately 10 to 15 minutes.

2.  Place the half-and-half and butter into a microwave-safe container and heat in the microwave until warmed through, about 35 seconds. Drain the potatoes in a colander and then return to the saucepan. Mash the potatoes and then add the half and half, butter, salt and pepper and continue to mash until smooth. Stir in the yolk, Parmesan, and horseradish until well combined.

3.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

4.  While the potatoes are cooking, prepare the filling. Place the canola oil into a 12-inch saute pan and set over medium high heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the onion and carrots and saute just until they begin to take on color, approximately 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and stir to combine.

5.  Add the beef, salt and pepper and cook until browned and cooked through, approximately 3 minutes. Sprinkle the meat with the flour and toss to coat, continuing to cook for another minute. Add the tomato paste, chicken broth, Worcestershire, rosemary, thyme, and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer slowly 10 to 12 minutes or until the sauce is thickened slightly.

6.  Add the corn and peas to the beef mixture and spread evenly into an 11 by 7-inch glass baking dish. Top with the mashed potatoes, starting around the edges to create a seal to prevent the mixture from bubbling up and smooth with a rubber spatula. Place on a parchment lined half sheet pan on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 25 minutes or just until the potatoes begin to brown. Remove to a cooling rack for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Sauerbraten and Kartoffelklösse

How was everyone's Valentine's Day?  Full of love I hope, I know mine sure was.  We got to sleep in,  I woke up to roses and a sweet card, we went on a foggy hike in Forest Park, visited with my parents for a bit, and then we made this German meal.  I hadn't ever made Sauerbraten or Kartoffelklösse (potato dumplings) and so to be honest our meal turned out ok but not fabulous.  The dumplings were the hard part and seemed a little bland to me, plus we didn't deep fry them which is how they were served most often in Germany.  Any way around it we still had lots of fun cooking this meal together, here are the two recipes we used.  Below is a picture of my fiance having fun rolling the dumplings.  Oh and I will get back to the New Orleans stories next post.  Now let's get to the food.

Serves 4

The Ingredients

For the Sauerbraten:
1 boneless beef chuck roast or rump roast (3 pounds)
4 cups water
1 bottle (14 ounces) ketchup
1 large onion, chopped
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup cider vinegar
1 tablespoon mixed pickling spices
3 bay leaves
1-1/2 cups crushed gingersnap cookies (about 30 cookies)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup cold water 

For the Kartoffelklösse:
4 slices bread
2 tbsp butter
about 2 lb cooked cold russet potatoes 
about 1 cup flour
2 eggs
1 tsp salt

The Process
1.  Place roast in a 5-qt. slow cooker; add water. In a large bowl, combine the ketchup, onion, brown sugar and vinegar; pour over roast.

2.  Place pickling spices and bay leaves on a double thickness of cheesecloth; bring up corners of cloth and tie with string to form a bag. Add spice bag and cookie crumbs to slow cooker.

3.  Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or until meat is tender.

4.  With about a half hour left for the roast to cook start the dumplings.  Make croutons by cutting bread into cubes.  Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the bread cubes and fry, stirring frequently, until nicely browned on all sides. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

5.  Mash the cold potatoes.  Mix into potatoes, 1 cup flour, eggs and salt to make a dough that holds together when formed into dumplings. If the mixture is too moist, add a bit more flour.  Form dumplings, approximately 2 inches in diameter, adding a few croutons to the middle of each dumpling. 

6.  Drop gently into pot of boiling, salted water. Simmer gently, uncovered, about 15 - 20 minutes.

7.  While dumplings are cooking remove roast and keep warm. Discard spice bag. Strain cooking juices; transfer 4 cups to a large saucepan. Combine cornstarch and water until smooth; stir into cooking juices. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Slice roast; serve with gravy.  

8.  When dumplings are done remove with slotted spoon and serve immediately.  We also roasted cabbage to go along with this meal.

Friday, February 12, 2016


Happy Friday everyone!  I can't wait until this day is over and I can go home and make a delicious Shepard's Pie for some friends that are coming over tonight.  Now let's talk New Orleans, my first night there my co-worker and I met up with some of his friends at this amazing French restaurant called Meauxbar.  My co-worker had told me wonderful things about their food and before we went I had already looked at the menu and knew exactly what I wanted to get.  We ordered a lot of items and shared them all but some of my favorite items (pictured below) were the escargot in bone marrow and the beef tartare.   I was especially impressed by the flavor in the beef tartare. This tartare was even better than some of the tartare I had in Paris, there was a perfect tangy-ness to it.  If you ever find yourself in New Orleans make reservations at this place.  After dinner the entertainment continued as we walked down Bourbon Street and ran into a pre Mardi Gras parade on Canal Street.  I even got my first set of beads but not the way some people get them, my coworker was nice and gave me some.  After a long day of traveling and a night full of adventure we eventually made it back to our hotel rooms to sleep and prepare for the crazy work week we had ahead of us.  More stories to come!  But now let's talk about this delicious recipe that I adapted for last night's dinner.  This is an Indian dish that is so simple to make and has tons of flavor, enjoy! (I personally halved the recipe and served it over pilaf rice).

Serves 6

The Ingredients
1.5 lbs lean ground beef
1 cup chopped yellow onions
2 cans diced tomatoes
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup diced potatoes
1/2 teaspoon each cinnamon, turmeric, ginger
1 tbsp curry powder
1/2 cup chicken broth (to add moisture if needed)
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil

The Process
1.  Heat up some olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat.  When hot add beef and onions and cook until browned.

2.  Then add tomatoes, peas, potatoes and spices along with salt and pepper to taste.

3.  Bring to a simmer and cook for 25 minutes. Add chicken broth if it becomes too thick. It should have the consistency of chili.

4.Serve over rice, couscous, or your favorite grain.

This dish is very healthy so here are some nutritional facts for you:
Calories 199.2
Fat 7 g
Saturated Fat 2.6 g
Sugars 2.4 g
Carbohydrate 12 g
Fiber 2.7 g
Sugars 2.4 g
Protein 22.5 g

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Fried Cauliflower with Tahini

Wow where to much has happened since my last blog post.  Well to pick up from where I left off Hood River was a fabulous time and we treated my grandma by making her fancy French dip sandwiches that she absolutely loved.  We also had a successful meeting with our home buying specialist and today we just had a meeting with a loan officer.  The loan officer meeting was much more positive than I thought it would be and now we just need to continue to save for our down payment and closing costs and then we can officially REALLY start looking.  We really hope to be in a home by Fall 2016, so wish us luck!  And yes I just got back from my New Orleans work trip but that is a story I'm going to have to save for the next blog post or even the next couple blog posts because of all the amazing food I ate.  Onto the food!  Last night I went to my parents house and we cooked an entire dinner together including two recipes from Yotam Ottolenghi's cookbook Jerusalem.  They were both amazing recipes and we slightly adapted his original recipe.  We paired it with one of Ottolenghi's other salads and cornish game hens.  Enjoy!

Serves 8 as a side

The Ingredients
2 cups sunflower oil
2 medium cauliflower heads, split into small florets
8 green onions, each cut into three long segments
3/4 cup tahini paste
3 garlic cloves, pressed
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 preserved lemon quarter, chopped finely
1/4 cup chopped mint, plus more to finish
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
3 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp pomegranate molasses, plus more to finish
Sea salt and black pepper
Roughly 3/4 cup water

The Process
1.  Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Lay in a few cauliflower florets at a time and cook for two to three minutes, turning so they color evenly. Once golden-brown, transfer to a colander with a slotted spoon, sprinkle with a little salt and leave to drain. Repeat with the rest of the cauliflower. Next, fry the green onions, also in batches, for a minute. Add to the cauliflower and leave to cool down.

2.  Pour the tahini paste into a large mixing bowl and add the garlic, herbs, yogurt, lemon juice, pomegranate molasses and seasoning. Stir with a wooden spoon as you add the water. The tahini sauce will first thicken and then loosen up as you add water. Don't add too much, just enough to get a thick yet smooth pourable consistency, a bit like honey.

3.  Stir the cauliflower, preserved lemon, and onion into the tahini bowl, taste and adjust the seasoning. You may also want to add more lemon juice.

4.  To serve, spoon into a serving bowl and finish with a few drops of pomegranate molasses and some mint.