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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!

 

 

cooking · creativity · dinner · dinner idea · dinner ideas · dreams · easy to make · experience · food · simple · spices · yum

When you Least Expect The Perfect Meal: Mediterranean Chicken Pita Wraps

fullsizerender-3They say that love comes your way when you least expect it, and I am here to tell you this is true. Last week, a missing ingredient once again disappointed me after I had been dreaming up my plans for that perfect meal. I had planned and fantasized about it all day; the dough I thawed, the chicken I seasoned to make chicken empanadas could no longer happen. It turned out that I was missing important ingredients to make my dinner a dream come true. So I sat in front of my open refrigerator, as I often do when I’m trying to figure out what to make for dinner. I opened the same crisper drawer about 3 times. Glanced over at the sauces and the open wine bottle on the door thinking, “Now, what I am supposed to make for dinner?”

If you know anything about me by now, you know that I am a big believer in using what you have. Quite often, I think we buy a lot more food than we actually need. img_4842Then it sits in our pantry because that doesn’t go bad as quickly as the food in the refrigerator. Right? So I went to the pantry! I found a can of garbanzo beans.
I thought, okay, I’ll make hummus, have with some crackers and just call it a night.Until magic happened in my very own kitchen.

Do you remember that dough I had thawed to make my perfect empanadas dinner? I decided to flatten it to make pita. I wasn’t sure if this was going to work, but when I saw the dough start to bubble up, I knew this was going to work out. fullsizerender-5The chicken I had seasoned, I added a few more spices to it and pan seared it. Then I chopped some tomato, onion, and parsley and before I knew it, I was assembling chicken wraps! I was definitely not expecting a Mediterranean night, rather a South American one, but it was just as amazing. I loved that suddenly all the stars aligned and ingredients just came together. It would have been very easy for me to order take out or head fullsizerender-4out to the market for the missing ingredients, but I forced myself to use what I had at home. So if you’re like me and are always looking for the Perfect Meal, just know that when you least expect it, it will come to you.

 

What I used to make my hummus:

  • 1(8oz) can of cooked garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
  • olive oil, until you get the hummus consistency you want!
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • Paprika, a pinch
  • Cumin powder, about 1/4 tsp.
  • Salt, to your liking
  • A squeeze of lemon juice
  • parsley and pine nuts to make pretty

Toss of the ingredients except for the parsley and pine nuts listed in a blender and you got yourself hummus! Feel free to have fun when you make hummus next time too. You can add other ingredients like pesto or canned sun-dried tomatoes to give it another personality!

cauliflower · creative dishes · creativity · culinary · delicious · dinner · dinner idea · dinner ideas · easy · easy to make · eggs · fall · fallflavors · food · fun meal · healthy · hungry · ingredients · meal ideas · meals · produce · quick dinner · quick meal · vegetarian

Fall Inspired Cauliflower Fried Rice

img_4699This week was a tough one, but I can always count on cooking (and food) to make things all better. On Friday night the ingredients in my refrigerator were all indicating chinese food. Sometimes though chinese food can feel  too heavy and even unhealthy. So, I decided to go with my chinese food inspiration and make fried rice with a special twist, cauliflower. Yes, and I decided to use fall veggies to make my chinese food inspired dish. It turns out Trader Joe’s carries packaged rice cauliflower. I bought with the goal of making a cauliflower fried rice dish. I hadn’t got around to it though because I ran out of carrots just the other day and these of course are absolutely necessary to make fried rice…or are they? I was stumped for a moment, until I locked eyes with a sweet potato! I think you can imagine how this night was going to end, right? Here’s what happened.

I took that sweet (talkin’) potato and chopped it up in small cubes to simulate the carrots. img_4695On a pan drizzled with olive oil I sauteed the potato cubes with garlic and chopped yellow onion until the cubes were tender and the onion and garlic was cooked down. I then added the peas and cauliflower rice. (By the way, you don’t need to get the packaged cauliflower rice. You can easily make this using a food processor. Just cut up the cauliflower in small pieces and break down in processor until they resemble rice). Cook the veggies for a few minutes and add soy sauce (the soy sauce will replace the use of salt so taste to make sure it is to your liking!). img_4696

Now push all the veggies around the pan to create space in the middle (see picture). This is where the egg will be scrambled. img_4697Once it is mixed the veggies and egg together. You will see the rice will start taking form. Chop the green onions and add just before you remove from heat. This will allow the small pieces of green onion to still be crunchy and give you that nice bite. Yum!

Sometimes it’s nice to not have to do too much for dinner, especially when you’re starving like I was when I got home.

Here are the ingredients that made this come together so beautifully:

 

  • 1/2 cup of frozen peas
  • 1/2 sweet potato, cubed
  • 2-3 cups of cauliflower rice (if you have a food processor you need 1 cauliflower head)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tbsp. chopped yellow onion
  • 3 green onions
  • 3 tbsp. low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 egg
  • olive oil

*The mandarin chicken in the background is from Trader Joe’s. There are 2-3 things in their frozen section that I would recommend and this is one of them. Especially to compliment an easy and quick dish such as this cauliflower fried rice. I hope you enjoy!

blueberry · breakfast · coffee · creativity · experience · hungry · lemon · lemon zest · muffins · prince charming · recipe · snack · tea

Looking for My Lemon-Blueberry Prince Muffin

If you like to bake you know there is something very therapeutic about it. Maybe it’s the focus on the ingredients and process so the outcome can be as delicious as you expect or the mere presence of flour and butter is comforting enough. Whatever the reason, this week I made some lemon-blueberry muffins. My very first attempt. I did replaced some ingredients with what I had at hand, but I had plenty of blueberries so no matter what, this was happening. I went for it because I have a few ideas for the tops of these that I’m excited to try like sprinkling those huge sugar crystals on top, a crumble and  dipping them in a lemon glaze with shaved almonds on top, but I wanted to first start perfecting this recipe. Though these came out pretty tasty (yes, they’re all gone now), I wanted my muffins to come bursting out of the pan cup like it was reaching for the oven sky! This batch must have been the non-flying sidekick muffin because even though they were good, they didn’t have the defined muffin muscles I was hoping to see coming out of the oven. These are perfect however for a small, late morning snack with coffee or in the evening with tea. It’s not the kind of muffin that you can grab to-go in the morning and have for breakfast because you will (I repeat), you will start to feel hangry by 10AM. 

I know a lot of recipes call for sour cream or buttermilk, but I didn’t have that at hand when my sudden need for baking happened. So, I used I made my own recipe and improvised using: 2 cups of flour, 1 cup of cane sugar, 2 tsp of baking powder, 1/4 tsp of salt, 2 eggs, 1 egg white, 2 tsp of vanilla extract, 8 tsp of unsalted butter, 1/2 cup of almond milk, 1/2 tsp of lemon zest, 1 cup of blueberries and some brown sugar to sprinkle on top of the batter right before placing them in the oven set for 375 degrees. 

I first combined the flour, salt and baking soda together and set aside. I then mixed the cane sugar, butter, vanilla extract and eggs all together. After a good mix, I combined the egg white, salt and lemon zest. One thing I do is taste the batter throughout the process so I get it the way I like it. Lemon zest can make or break the flavor you’re going for so it’s important to constantly know how the flavor of the batter is coming together. I wanted my muffins to have a hint of lemon, but wanted the blueberries to be mostly front and center. I think next time I make these I’m going to add more blueberries, maybe about 1/2 cup more so that they are more prominent in every bit. The lemon zest amount was perfect.

Once the batter is done, I mixed in the blueberries using a rubber spatula. Remember to dry the blueberries before tossing in the batter otherwise they will sink to the bottom. The consistency should be heavier than cake batter. Fill the cupcakes to the top so the muffins can fully rise and sprinkle a bit of brown sugar before putting them in the oven. I think I left too much space for this rise and ended up not getting my super hero muffin this time around. It’s ok, I guess perfecting a recipe is like finding true love right? You have to eat a lot of muffins before you find the perfect prince muffin.

Enjoy that journey- it sounds delicious!