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!



avocado · black bean burger · bun · burger · burger patty · cheese · dinner · food · grilling · mixture · quinoa · recipe · seasoning · spices · summer · sustainability

Getting Intimate with my Patty

In the next twenty days, I will be giving up red meat, pork and chicken (yes, please keep me in your thoughts and send me strength to overcome the cravings). The goal is to shed a few pounds in the next few weeks which is a great thing considering how mean and insulting my jeans have been to me lately. It’s also important to me that I do my part since I’m aware that excessive meat consumption is one way we (humans) negatively impact our long term health and the health of the environment. 
So, in order to prepare for this, I’ve been blowing the dust off my old vegetarian recipes and trying them out again. This, of course, isn’t very difficult since I do love all things vegetarian so it’s been a real treat! This past week I made my favorite kind of veggie burger patty, black bean. It was as good as I remember, but this time around I’m getting a lot more creative with the things I will be making with that black bean mixture. You’ll see…
For those who think this cannot be good or as satisfying as a juicy red meat patty well let me just say that you are both right and wrong. While there is no comparing to the real deal my black bean burger (BB Burger) is just a different kind of experience all together, so you’ll kind of have to go in knowing that. The great thing is that you can guide it to have the taste you want or are craving with the toppings you add to your BB burger. 
My black bean patty was a simple one this time around. Although I will confess that when I was forming the patty I thought about stuffing it with cheese. The only reason I didn’t was because the right kind of cheese was not at my disposal. 
Here are my ingredients:

For the patty mixture about…
  • 1 cup of black beans (I’ve also used kidney and pinto in the past)
  • 3 tbsp. of cooked quinoa, seasoned (I used tri color quinoa, but any will do)
  • 3/4 cup of breadcrumbs (I broke down some pita crackers in my NutriBullet in this case)
  • 3 tbsp. of chopped red onion
  • 1 cup of steamed spinach seasoned with salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp. of manchego cheese (I’ve also used Parmesan)
  • A dash of cumin 
  • A dash of paprika
  • 5-6 leaves of fresh cilantro, chopped
  • salt & pepper
For building the burger:
  • 1 slice of cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 avocado
  • Fresh spinach
  • Tomato slices
  • Organic ketchup, mayo and mustard
  • Burger buns
(Remember to have fun with the ingredients you use to build your burger, these are just what I used to make mine. Look up burger menus for ideas!)
Combine the patty mixture ingredients until it feels like a paste and you can build a patty. If it’s too runny add more breadcrumbs. Make the patty shape and in a pan with a little olive oil cook both sides until the patty is kind of crispy. Place the slice of cheese on the last turn so it can melt with the heat. Build your BB Burger!
Remember to taste the patty mixture before you build/cook your patty and adjust it to your flavor preference. For instance, I like cumin, but you may not like it as much as I do, so feel free to do without it or add just a little. Salt preference is also different for everyone so get in there and taste what you’re making! There is no food God or higher power that is magically going to make your food taste good just because you follow the instructions. Get involved! Get intimate with your food, with your cooking and make it what YOU want it to be. After all, you’re the one who’s going to be eating it right? 
Bon appetite!
almonds · baker · baking needs · biscotti · breakfast · catering · cheese · crust · culinary · friday · goodies · mushrooms · quiche · spinach

Sweet or Savory: Which holds the key to your heart?

It was a pleasure  to try some goodies from a follower who has a great culinary future ahead of her! Our friend Giorgia from Baking by Giorgia was kind enough to share her baking with my friends and I yesterday. I mean, can you think of a better way to kick off the weekend? Thanks GG!
She made for us a breakfast quiche and almond biscotti, mmm. It was the perfect combination of sweet and savory on a Friday morning. 
My favorite of the two was the biscotti, but then again I’m bias because of two reasons: 1. I love, love, love a sweet morning pastry with my coffee and 2. I am a huge biscotti fan. That reminds me, after having made some orange-cranberry biscotti 2 weeks ago, I got a call requesting a batch for a dinner party tomorrow. So, you may see some more biscotti pictures coming your way (again you ask? yes, but you know you love it so really I’m doing this for you!). 
I’ll start off by sharing with you my experience with home-made quiche. I really loved the crust, it was a buttery-crunch delight that carried the bold and savory ingredients from the quiche very well. I appreciated that I could actually see the ingredients in my every bite. Seriously, I’ve had quiche where the ingredients are so broken down that I spend half of my meal time trying to poke at the food hoping it will tell me what it is. Like “Hey, you little piece of green-something, what are you? hey, can you hear me? speak already!” I can tell you that I saw and tasted the spinach, sausage, onions and mushrooms without having to wonder what I was eating. I like chunks of goodness surprising me while I eat. Personally, I tend to like a lot of cheese on everything. The more cheese the better. In a quiche the more cheese it has the… tighter it is? I guess I feel like it really holds on to everything else and it’s less eggy. So really that is my only critique. Overall I really enjoyed it. As you can see in the picture I had myself two little pieces. No really, they were small. I needed to save room to have the biscotti for dessert after my breakfast quiche of course. Yeah…my fat kid had a field day for sure!

The biscotti was almond and vanilla dipped in chocolate. It was so good I had a big piece. Okay, I had three of them, but not at the same time! I made sure I spread them out throughout the day. Yum! (hashtagnoregrets hastagyolo) Anyway, as I was saying, the biscotti was amazing. It was the perfect color, crunch and amount of chocolate. I wished the almonds on the chocolate were smaller chunks or even toasted sliced almonds, but what do you know I ate them either way. The best part was dipping it in my coffee and letting all the flavors melt in my mouth. I mean really? Can you think of a better way to start the day?
I recommend you check out Giorgia’s culinary creations by visiting her website or Facebook page. Mmmm, enjoy! Oh, and let us know if it was love at first bite!
alfredo · alternative · cauliflower · cheese · chicken meal · dinner idea · healthy · parmesan · pasta · pasta dish · whole wheat

Chicken Cauli-fredo Pasta Kind of Date Night

I went to the grocery store this weekend and I was amazed by how much time I spent in the pasta section. Seriously, I must have gone back and forth between regular penne pasta and whole wheat pasta like 5-6 times. At one point I even looked for brown rice penne pasta (like I needed another option!). I picked up the regular penne, then put in back and grabbed the whole wheat, and then put that back. I swear I did this rep 3 times. Now, I know this is not the kind of rep my personal trainer would recommend so why do it? Why was I having such a hard time deciding on penne pasta?!
Honestly, I think it was my love of food at war with my healthy consciousness in freakin’ aisle 9 of the grocery store! (you know, the pasta aisle?).
See, when I know I’ve overindulged in amazingly-delicious treats with zero nutritional value and infinite amounts of endorphins, something happens. Maybe it’s the guilt from all the guilty pleasures that just becomes too heavy  a burden or maybe it’s the extra lbs. here and there. Regardless, this time around I decided on whole wheat penne pasta, but instead of having it with Alfredo sauce like I really, really, really wanted, I bought some cauliflower and made that into an Alfredo-type sauce inspired by a recipe I found online. You may be thinking this sounds like a bad idea, but my food tester who by the way grew up not eating many vegetables because he didn’t like them, actually approved this dish.

To make it you need to first decide on a type of pasta. Sure, you can use any pasta, but whole wheat or brown rice pasta are the healthier options in case you too have had an overindulge-kind-of-week. I used ½ cauliflower- steamed or cooked until it’s soft enough to puree. I did it using my bullet and it was fast and easy. Mix in about ¼ cup of almond milk and pepper (add pasta water to adjust consistency). Set aside. In a sauce pan melt about 2 Tbsp. of butter, 3 cloves of garlic and ½ -1 tsp of salt (up to your taste buds). It’s important to make sure you cook in low heat, otherwise the garlic will burn quickly and add too much color to your sauce. Then add the cauliflower mix to the pan and add 1 tsp of shredded Parmesan cheese (although you can use any kind of hard cheese to change it up a bit like Romano) until it melts all together and the flavors have a chance to combine over a nice bed of heat, after all this blog is about the love of food right?

Finally, I married it with my pasta (cooked as desired). On top I sprinkled some more Parmesan cheese and a piece of grilled chicken which I lightly seasoned with salt and pepper. Serve with some white wine and voila!  

basil · cheese · chicken · fresh bread · pesto · quick dinner · sandwich · sunday dinner · weekday weekend

Love Basil-Everything Chicken Sandwich

Sundays for me are usually days of rest at home. I want to relax and do as little as possible. However, for dinner I always crave something delicious and comforting. The kind of meal that would require hours of prep and cooking. That’s why  I like to cook up something quick and easy, but also something that will fully satisfy my need for an effortless delicious meal. In this case it’s a grilled chicken sandwich with pesto. The secret? The bread and cheese! (My two best buds!)

Let me start by telling you about the bread. In order for this to be satisfying, the bread has to be fresh. I’m going to tell you how I accomplish this without running to the bakery on my lazy day. I like to buy the half-baked ciabatta rolls or baguette that Trader Joe’s carries. I store these in the freezer when I buy them until I am ready to have fresh bread. It takes about 10-15 min to finish them off and you have crispy, fresh bread to give this sandwich the ultimate fresh bread bite experience (you all know what I’m talking about and yes I want to make sure you know that it really will taste like fresh bread!).
Before I move on to talk about the cheese, let me just say that I also love this sandwich without cheese. The thing about cheese though is that it adds comfort to anything. Ooh and that gooey-ness that comes from cheese is not to be compared. I used Brie this time around, but mozzarella, havarti or provolone are all wonderful choices.  After you grill your chicken on a grill or pan, place over the pesto spread bread. Lay the cheese over the chicken and place in oven so the cheese melts. Once that cheese melts, assemble the sandwich. 
Want to try? This is what I used and how I used it:

  • TJ’s Half-Baked Ciabatta Rolls
  • TJ’s Pesto Alla Genovese (spread 1 teaspoon on each side of the bread)
  • Olive oil -optional (lightly sprinkle some over the pesto to keep it from tasting dry)
  • Brie (but mozzarella, havarti or provolone all work great too!)
  • Chicken Breast (filet in half or pound out so these are not too thick)
  • Salt & Pepper (to season the chicken breasts)
  • Tomato slices
  • Basil leaves (you can chop or leave as full)
Let me know if you tried this or if you tried your own version!

Love my Basil!