food

Cheese, You Mean More to Me Than You Know

I love cheese. Years ago while a vegetarian, people said the next phase would be to become vegan, but I knew that would never happen. I love cheese way too much. When I started trying new foods, I discovered the abundance of cheese varieties and the amazing flavors developed when paired with wine, fruits, preserves, etc. Since my palate at the time was just evolving, I knew this was only the beginning of beautiful symphonies of flavors to come, and they did. 

In 2013 I took a trip to France, Italy, Switzerland and Spain. Cheese there is a huge culture! I was in heaven. I got to try delicious cheese pairings. Everywhere I went I tried their cheese and charcuterie plate. I also got into wine, another beautiful piece of culture in Europe. Then, i learned a couple of things about cured meats (post vegetarian), I loved pairing those with my cheeses and wine. Then there was the baguettes. Walking down the streets in France and Italy, I began to appreciate like never before the smell of fresh bread (Inhale). Ahhh. 

Since, I’ve only gotten crazier about cheese and charcuterie platters. I can spend an hour at the cheese counter trying different ones. My time limit is basically when I start to notice the frustration from the person behind the counter. Like, “c’mon lady, you’ve sample 50 types of cheese, just pick one!” Then there is the difficult decision of which prosciutto to pair with what. I mean, how can you NOT go crazy? Holidays are especially exciting because large parties mean bigger platters and more variety. This, however, was true until about a month ago. 


See, I started a tradition with some friends. Every month we get together for a wine and cheese night. Of course, someone who loves food as much as I do can only have friends with similar interests. This means, our wine and cheese nights turn into a real holiday party (minus the holiday) with everything from cheese and wine to elaborate cured meets trays, fruits, vegetables, olive tapenades, nuts, fruit preserves to dessert! 


It’s a great time with my friends and we continue learning about how to best pair our wine and cheese. We learn about each and laugh a whole lot! One of the many reasons I love food so much, it brings people together and you make memories, memories that my friends and I will take with us for years to come. 

delicious · dinner · dinner ideas · food · foodithinkiloveyou · from scratch · healthy · jam · lemon · pizza

Prosciutto-Arugula Pizza and a Very Sexy Fig-Pear Spread

image3 (3)There is nothing sexier than these two ingredients: prosciutto and arugula. I mean,  think about it. Prosciutto is the softest, most delicate piece of salty deliciousness. Arugula, is fun and nutty, but oh so satisfying when you take that first crunchy bite. I thought, why no pair those ingredients with a Bosc pear-fig spread? A little sweetness always benefits from the beautiful balance of salt, right? So, to honor the fact that I’m back from a long hiatus, tonight I made a pizza with all of these sexy ingredients.

Now, in order to REALLY enjoy pizza, the crust has to be just right. I’ve tried a lot of pizza dough recipes out there and made a mess of some of the best (I’m sure), but only one turns out perfect every single time. It’s a perfectly crispy crust on the outside and soft on the inside. Mr Bobby Flay’s pizza dough recipe is The One. Try it and you will not regret it. There are a couple of recipes out there, but this is the one I recommend. This is the one you have been looking for. Note: Make sure you use just enough dough for the size of pizza you are making.

image2 (6)Next I prepared my toppings. I chopped 1/2 of a Bosc pair (my favorite of all pairs!) and about 6 dried figs. In a small pan I cooked them down with some water, a splash of lemon juice, one teaspoons of brown sugar and 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar. I smashed it all together to create a spread for the pizza.

image1 (8)Once the dough was done, about 10 minutes later in a 450 degree oven, I drizzled with olive oil, the pear-fig spread and put back in the oven for about 4 minutes. Simple enough, right? Next, I added some prosciutto, arugula and of course some shaved Parmesan cheese. The outcome, a perfect pizza for one.

 

 

 

banana · bread · breakfast · brunch · brunch ideas · burger · burger patty · french toast · fresh bread · ripe bananas · stuffed

Fresh Bread Smells and Stuffed Food Smiles

fullsizerender-21This weekend I spent some time remembering the smell  of fresh bread walking down the streets of Paris. Since lately I’ve been on this kick of eliminating artificial preservatives I decided to do some research and make my own bread at home, bring the smell of Parisian bakeries to my home. So, I started with one goal in mind, dinner. Ever since last summer, I’ve wanted to try to duplicate the a delicious pork burger I tried at Yard House while visiting Southern California. So I decided to take this pork deliciousness to another level and make some brioche buns for it.

I found a recipe on The New York Times Cooking page. The recipe makes 6-8 buns so since I was only cooking for two I ended up making my own brioche loaf with oats and flax seeds on the side. The outcome? Two beautiful golden brown buns and a delicious loaf of bread with pretty hues of gold and oat shimmer.

I utilized my fresh bread in two different ways: for dinner and brunch the next day. It has been a while that I’ve wanted to make bread so I’m super excited that I got over my fear of yeast and can make it now whenever I want. Note: The only challenge with making bread is time. The amount of time the dough needs to rest is what may discourage, but believe me when I tell you that it is worth it!

img_5467My version of the burger from Yard House: A fresh brioche bun burger with a pork patty stuffed with mozzarella cheese, blueberry ketchup, non spicy candied bacon and spinach.  I think I liked my version much better. Perhaps it was the fresh bun or the pork burger patty that I stuffed with mozzarella cheese; all I know is that I am adding this one to my must-have burgers this summer.

The next day I was looking for something to satisfy my sweet tooth. There were two things I absolutely needed to use, 2 ripe bananas that have been begging me to use them before they go back and my fresh loaf of bread. I’ve probably never mentioned this, but even though my boyfriend loves everything I make, there is one thing that he’s never liked and that is my french toast. Now, maybe it’s because I enjoy a good challenge or perhaps my competitive nature kicked in, but today would be the day to make him change his mind. Honestly, the thought of my french toast not satisfying anyone has bugged me for years!

My strategy going in was to use the loaf of bread (you can’t deny the power of homemade), stuff it with a banana and maple syrup mix (2 ripe bananas and 1 tablespoon of maple syrup), and revamp my egg mixture. img_5466I replaced my old egg mix with this: 2 Eggs, 1/4 tsp cinnamon and sugar, a splash of almond milk ( which I made a couple of days ago), a pinch of nutmeg, 1 tsp of vanilla-bourbon extract and a splash of heavy cream. First I cut slices of the loaf of bread, about 1 inch. Then I cut down the middle to create pockets for the mashed bananas/maple syrup mixture. Once I stuffed the bread slices, I dipped in my new and improved egg mix. I buttered a pan and cooked in medium heat for about 5-8 minutes making sure each side is evenly cooked.

Once done I sprinkled with some powdered sugar, fresh blueberries and maple syrup. img_5463-1

These were absolutely delicious and just in case you’re wondering I wasn’t the only one to think so. Yup! after all these years, the french toast redeemed themselves! Ah, the sweet smell of victory is almost as good as the sweet smell of fresh bread. Or is it?

berries · breakfast · coffee · food · french toast · healthy · lemon · lemon zest · pancakes · with coffee

Berry Preserves Found Their Way to My Heart

img_5356One of my favorite mornings rituals on the weekend is to wake up, stumble to the kitchen with my eyes barely open and get the coffee machine going. Ahh, I love my coffee. It is the one thing I look forward to every morning and sometimes I even start to look forward to it before I go to bed the night before. The darker the better. The hotter the more enjoyable. Recently, I got into the (good) habit of making my own berries preserves to enjoy with my toast and of course coffee. I used to buy my preserves, but one day after scooping out the last bit of preserves left in the container I decided to try and make my own. Oh, heavenly was the day I realized how easy and delicious this was! Now, I make a small batch which lasts me about 2-3 weeks. Here’s how to make this magic happen:

You’ll need:

  • 1 cup of Blueberries/Raspberries (I’ve used both fresh and frozen)
  • 1-2 tablespoons of brown sugar (you can use regular sugar as well)
  • a splash of lemon juice and water and a bit of lemon zest

fullsizerender-20In a small pan cook down the berries with about 1 tablespoon of water over medium heat until they are soft and you can break them down. I use a wooden spoon to pop the blueberries as they soften. It will take a few minutes for the berries to break down. Add the sugar, lemon juice, zest and combine together. Let everything cook down until you see that jam consistency. Make sure you taste it. Sometimes I’m in the mood for more sweet while others I look for a more lemony taste. Total cooking time is about 5-8 minutes. Pour over a small container and place in the freezer for about a minute or two to cool.

In the mean time get that toast ready, by the time your freshly made berries preserves have cooled they will be ready to slather over your toast and to enjoy with that perfectly made cup of coffee. These also make a great topping for pancakes of french toast or even pie fillings! The possibilities are endless, all it takes is a little creative moment to completely change your life and a few berries to have a change of heart.

 

 

 

 

brunch ideas · cheese · creative dishes · creativity · culinary · delicious · dinner · dinner ideas · food · foodithinkiloveyou · fries · from scratch · fun meal · healthy · ingredients · meal ideas · parmesan · seasoning · spinach · yum

Food for the Game & Love for the Food

As many of you may know the Super Bowl is next weekend AND as you may also know, the best part of the Super Bowl is THE FOOD. Okay the commercials are pretty fun, the game is cool, family, friends but c’mon…the food is the best part!? Pizza, tortilla chips and guac, chicken wings, potato chips, nachos, queso dip, I can go on and on. So of course I will be watching (i.e. stuffing my face) the game next Sunday! Any event that allows me a week in advance to begin a conversation with “let’s talk menu” is an event for me. This is exactly what I did yesterday, started planning the Super Bowl menu.

Here’s what will be causing me to miss the best Super Bowl commercials and the play of the evening next Sunday:img_4599

Bacon Wrapped Shrimp appetizers is making a comeback after being a hit during the football game on Thanksgiving. This time, however, they will be accompanied by a cilantro dipping sauce. People expecting to see the good ol’ buffalo chicken wings will absolutely forget about them (forever) after they taste these shrimp babies.img_5332

Mini Baked Empanadas will be sitting front and center when the game begins. I’m prepping these a day before since that can be an event of its own. Last time I made these they were amazing in their full empanada size so I imagine they will be even better when limited to only a few bites. For the filling I will attempt a cuban style picadillo using ground beef, pepper stuffed green olives, raisins, green bell peppers and spices. I’ve never attempted this filling, but I’ve had it many times at my favorite cuban restaurant. Wish me luck!fullsizerender-19

Ceviche is something I love to make during summer months because it’s refreshing and super easy. My dad taught me how to make ceviche and his is the best I’ve ever had so I’m letting him take that dish. All we use to make this is fish (any white fish works), cut in small pieces, lime juice (I like to use a lime/lemon juice combo), chopped tomato, onion ( I prefer red onion), cilantro and salt. My dad doesn’t know this, but I also use a little of paprika just to give it another layer of flavor. You can make the ceviche the same day, but my dad recommends letting the fish marinade in the lime juice over night. I’ve prepared it with much less time than that and can tell you that after about 40 minutes it’s pretty darn good! Once you strain the juice from the fish (otherwise it’s too sour), add salt and the chopped ingredients. Mix and sprinkle some paprika and start dipping your tortilla chips or better yet have on a tostada the way it’s meant to be had (not on game day).img_5337

Braised Brisket Loaded fries, is something I’ve been wanting to make for a while now. Since I’ll be totally over-eating I want to rescue some calories by baking the fries. I know, I know, but I’m going to make a paprika seasoning to make you forget the fries are baked and it will be absolutely delicious! I’m also going to make an cilantro chimichurri to add some freshness and some pickled onions for pizzazz, texture and pretty color. Okay, you can’t have loaded fries without cheese, so yes I will be using some cotija cheese to keep them light, but also very flavorful. Keep a look out for this picture, it’s going to be kind of amazing!img_5028

Baked Oysters Rockefeller, recently inspired during my trip to New Orleans, will be something I will be making for the first time. I’m a little nervous because I’ve never baked oysters in my life, but considering I use my oven quite often I’m sure I can figure it out (right?). My goal is to reproduce my favorite baked oyster from The Royal House in NOLA with a spinach, bacon, wine? and cheese? Well, as you can see I will be tasting as I go to make sure it turns out just as good as the ones I had in NOLA. I can’t wait!

Okay so I know you’re probably asking yourself where the game food is, right? I mean, what’s with all this fancy stuff? Bring out the potato chips and crack open the cheese dip. Well here’s the thing. This year one of my resolutions was to stop eating packaged foods and cook more (#cookmore). So I will be making everything from scratch. It’s just so much better to eat things we actually make and avoid all the artificial preservatives and extra pounds of salt and sugar found in packaged foods. So, I hope you share the love for clean, home cooked meals because this year is going to be filled with ’em!

Now that we have a plan, menu, strategy and incredibly delicious visuals. Let the games begin!

 

 

food · healthy · love · love story · vegetables · veggies

Me and the Veggies, We’re Keeping Things Interesting

fullsizerenderLately I’ve been doing all kinds of fun things with my  veggies! You know… I gotta keep things interesting! And, since it’s a new year, I wanted to find a way to stay committed to eating my beautiful fresh produce and eat healthier. Unfortunately, sometimes this can be difficult when you’re cooking for kids, picky eaters, carnivore partners (AHEM), the meat-potato-only kind of person in your family, you know.  Personally, when I cook, I am cooking for at least 2 of those categories and it can be especially difficult to get veggies pass them.

Until today…(bahahahahaha!)

Yup, I want to share with you some tricks that have worked for me and believe me when I tell you that what ever kind of person YOU are cooking for will not even realize they’re having their daily recommended vegetable servings (evil laugh again). They’ll ask you why the big smile (as you watch them inhale their food) and you’ll be so filled with satisfaction that the only thing you can (should) say at that point is: Nothin’.

img_5255My favorite hidden veggie is a mushroom bacon that I absolutely loved making when I was a vegetarian (and still do!) thanks to a recipe I found years ago by Olives for Dinner. I promise you, it’s crunchy and flavourful just like the real thing. I use it sometimes in pasta or scrambles just to sneak another veggie. You can use any kind of mushrooms, but I do prefer crimini and shiitake. That same liquid smoke I used in my last post is what will give the mushrooms that smokey flavor. The original recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of olive oil and sesame oil, 3/4 teaspoon of liquid smoke, smoked paprika and salt. I find myself needing more of the oil mixture depending on the mushrooms I use since some absorb more than others, so play around with the flavors as you add more mushrooms. Remember that liquid smoke can be quite potent so if you’re not a fan,  you may feel better about using just paprika or less of the liquid smoke. The key to the perfect bite is to taste as you go and make it perfect for your palette! Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes at 400 degrees or until they are take on the color of bacon. Once they cool they will be crunchy and taste like real bacon. Yum! img_5290You can make VBLTs (Veggie Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato), add to a pasta dish, add to a scramble, omelet or even have with some pancakes! Don’t do what I do and eat them as they are done before it makes it to the plate. You’ll be tempted to do this just like we do with the real bacon. I get it, we can’t help ourselves!!

Last week I hid broccoli in an omelette and it was never detected.  I chopped up the broccoli  until it was as small as rice grains and I added about 1/2 to my 4 egg mixture ( 2 servings). I then took some grilled veggies and created an deconstructed omelet (see photo above). Before I folded the omelette I sprinkle a little bit of Parmesan cheese and then all of my favorite ingredients on top. Plates were wiped clean and broccoli totally flew under the radar! (Score!)

Cauliflower is another great veggie I like to use because it transforms so nicely into…pretty much anything. I’ve made cauliflower pizza dough, cauliflower fried rice and recently attempted to make a cauliflower cheese bread. These cheesy cauli-breads were a great snack as my guests and I waited for dinner to be ready. All I used was rice cauliflower (you can buy it this way or use a food processor to break down the cauliflower). Some Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper and an egg to bind all together. I baked it in the oven at 400 degrees until the edges were nice and crispy. img_5291Sure it’s no bread, but it’s fun to eat (especially when you can cut down on carbs and have another veggie serving for the day). NOTE: Make sure not to add too much Parmesan cheese to your cauliflower mix or everything will stick to your pan. Also, don’t forget to sprinkle the pan with some olive oil. To be safe, I recommend using a silpat. Oh and no, a silpat is not a type of wildcat found deep in the Black Forest, it’s a non-stick silicone baking mat that you can bake in the oven. It’s great for cookies too!

Good luck with the veggie romance and healthy eating in 2017. Let me know how you get down with your veggies in your kitchen. Remember, keep it clean (the food of course!) #cleaneating

California · chicken · chicken meal · chicken meals · cooking · creative dishes · delicious · dinner idea · dinner ideas · easy to make · food · foodithinkiloveyou · grilling · healthy · ingredients · lunch · meal ideas · mexican food · quick dinner · quick meal · recipe · salad · tacos · yum

Miss Your Grill Marks in the Winter

img_5197As I vacationed in New Orleans over the holidays I came to realize how much I missed having the option to have something grilled when I ordered at a restaurant. While I had an amazing time trying foods like fried alligator, fried dough varieties and fried oysters, I must say I immensely missed my grilled salmon, chicken, veggies! So, when I got back early this week all I wanted was some grilled chicken tacos (because I also missed having mexican food!)

Since I don’t have a grill at home, and even if I did I wouldn’t be able to use it during the winter rainy days I came back to, I got a little creative at home. Have you ever heard of liquid smoke? Well if you haven’t it’s a liquid that you buy that is highly intense in smoke flavor. It’s very potent by itself so the key is using it in small amounts (a little does plenty) and incorporate it when you want to take your food to that level of smokeyness. In my case, there were 3 things on my agenda (crave list) as I prepared my first meal back home. One, to have salad (MY GOD I missed fresh greens!), but I’ll get to that later. Two, grilled chicken (no more fried food please!), and three to use the dried pasilla chilis that I have been wanting to get into lately. So, here’s what did:

I took a dried pasilla chili and a garlic clove and boiled in about 2 cups of water. Once it was soft (about 10 min), I placed the chili, garlic and a little bit a water (excluding the seeds) into a blender and made into a pure/sauce. I used some of the remaining water to water it down a bit.fullsizerender-17

I cut up 2 chicken breasts into small slices (fajita style) and season with salt and pepper. Then I took some of the pasilla chili sauce and poured over the chicken. I poured about 1 table-spoon of liquid smoke and combined the sauce and liquid to make a marinade for the chicken. Let that sit for 30 min.

Using a grill mark cast iron skillet (you can also use a Panini press) I lightly drizzled some olive oil and I brought it to med-high heat. I place the chicken on my skillet and let the chicken cook evenly on all sides. [Make sure you don’t immediately turn the chicken so you give the skillet enough time to make its marks]fullsizerender-18

While that was cooking I turned my attention to my side. I wanted to make a salad, but also incorporate some of that grilled flavor. So, I sliced some white onion sautéed on a small pan until the onion was soft and a little black around the edges. Set that aside.

 

Now for the side salad.

In a plastic container I placed mixed greens, chia seeds, toasted flax-seed, chopped tomatoes, feta cheese and a dressing I made using turmeric, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. I toss my salad by closing the container lid and mixing it by shaking the container to allow all the ingriendts to mix. Only the lid wasn’t secured enough as I began to shake the container, half of my salad completely flew across my kitchen and all over my (startled) face.

After a few seconds of shock, wiping my eyes from a turmeric dressing mess and removing spinach from my hair, I pushed forward and started again. Nothing was going to come in between my side salad and I, I’d come too far! Second time around there was no raining salad in my kitchen so I was able to plate it, cut up some avocado on top along with the charred onions. It was perfect!

So there, after being a little shaken up, I warmed up some corn tortillas, spread some of my pasilla chili sauce, then the chicken, and some chopped onions cilantro. Since it’s the new year and recently came back from a trip where I pretty much ate my way through each street in New Orleans, I figure it’s a good time to get back on track and focus on healthy eating and home cooking. I hope you’ll come along for the ride!

Happy 2017!