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!

 

 

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!

 

 

 

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!

biscotti · chocolate · coconut · coffee · cookies · cranberry · goodies · month · orange · pastries · tea · yum

Biscotti, it’s not you it’s me.

Okay, at Love at First Bite, I’m officially calling the month of July, biscotti month. I don’t think I’ve made a pastry more often than I did this one in such short period of time. One of the reasons for this is I realized how easy it is to make (and this is just dangerous), then it’s the fact that I can 

have it fresh with my coffee (and we all know how much I love my coffee). So, today as we come to the close of biscotti month I want to share with you the different ways I made biscotti: coconut-vanilla with a coconut glaze, orange-cranberry with an orange glaze and a different version of the orange-cranberry dipped in cabernet-dark chocolate. *Caution: Reading beyond this point can cause a biscotti making reaction that can interfere with summer fitness goals and weight watching efforts.

Let’s start off with the first one I made earlier this month, the cranberry-orange dipped in a cabernet-dark chocolate. This version is different than the rest because I didn’t use regular cane sugar like I normally would. Instead, I replaced it with brown sugar for a bolder flavor. You can see that the biscotti looks a bit darker than the other versions where I used the cane sugar. The flavor was a lot a bit different, since it kind of gave it a slight caramel-like taste. I also dipped this biscotti batch in a cabernet infused dark chocolate from the Ghirardelli Factory.
It brought out the cranberry flavor when I bit into the biscotti and the nuttiness when I dipped in my coffee. To make this dip just boil a small amount of water in a sauce pan. Break apart the chocolate and place in a glass bowl that can easily sit on top of the sauce pan. Let the chocolate melt with the steam coming from the sauce pan. One the chocolate is soft dip and place in parchment paper to dry. If in a hurry to eat (not that I would know about this…ahem) place in the freezer until the chocolate hardens.

The second other cranberry-orange biscotti was orange zest and dried cranberries. I added about 1 tablespoon of orange zest, chopped cranberries into small pieces and added to the dough. I then drizzled an orange infused glaze once it cooled using powdered sugar, orange zest, juice from the orange and a bit of coconut oil (be careful not to use too much coconut oil because it will change the flavor of the glaze). The orange flavor in the biscotti really popped with this drizzle and it made it taste like a completely different biscotti, especially since I used cane sugar instead of the brown sugar.

In the coconut- vanilla biscotti, I used sweetened vanilla flakes that I chopped to smaller pieces and combined to the dough and added an extra ½ tsp of vanilla extract. The glaze for this was made of coconut oil, powdered sugar and water. *Note: the water in the glaze is only to get it to the right consistency, if too much is added the drizzle will be too watery and will not set right.


Want to try make the dough and go crazy with your add-ons why don’t you!?


2 cups of flour

2/3 cups of cane sugar
6 tbsp of unsalted butter
2.5 tbsp of baking powder
2 tbsp of vanilla extract
2 eggs


The only rule here is to mix the sugar and butter to make it a soft mixture before you add all the other stuff. To make the double batch this morning I split the dough in half before my adding. 

Lay on a sheet of parchment ( not you, the dough!) and spread leaving it nice and thick. It does not have to be perfect, dough is beautiful even with all its imperfections. I mean, just look at it!

Bake in 350 degrees for 20-25 min until toothpick comes out clean. Cut huge cookie while it’s warm to create the biscotti shape and put the pieces back in the oven for 30 more minutes or until all the sides are golden brown. Yes, this means that you’ll have to watch your biscotti babies bake during those last 30 minutes and rotate them so that they all brown evenly. Trust me, show your love to your biscotti and it will satisfy you later!


banana nut bread · bread · delicious · dessert · loaf · pastries · ripe bananas · yum

Gone Bananas over my Banana Nut Bread

One of my favorite dessert breads to make is banana nut bread. I make it because I love it or when I have bananas that are way too ripe for anything else, when it’s winter or cold outside because I crave a slice with some hot coffee or tea, by request or just when I’m bored and all the ingredients happen to be at my disposal. I’ve made it close to 50 times if you can believe it, when I actually thought about it, I couldn’t believe it! It’s just so easy that it’s almost dangerous that I’ve memorized the recipe. 
In the last few years, after some trial and error I finally have it down to what may have been the BEST Banana Nut Bread I ever tasted, EVER.  Let’s just say that the moment I was completely seduced and sent to heaven by my first BNB was in the fall of 1998. There was a coffee shop on Powell Street in San Francisco that baked it every morning. I fell in love with BNB the first time I had it with coffee in the back table during my sketching for communications class. The coffee shop eventually closed its doors and I was left broken hearted. Since then I had tried to find the same sweet delight elsewhere, but now I can say I’ve come close to that level of divine perfection. 

(Break to enjoy a bite…mmm…and it’s so spongy too….mmm…ok dust crumbs off…and I’m back)

For the purpose of this post I wanted to test out two things, two different types of vanilla extract and the heat level of my oven because since I moved and I’ve been using a new stove the moisture of my bread was an issue. So, I made this loaf of bread twice. The picture above is the perfected version. The before and after photos below were from the loaf prior or in this case a delicious casualty.  
Ready to try? 

                    Before
First of all, I use 4 bowls (I know, lots right?) and 3 ripe bananas (if they have dark freckles they are telling you they are ready to be transformed). Break up the bananas a bit in one of the bowls with a fork and then briefly use the blender to make sure the pieces are evenly broken down. Set aside.
Use 1/2 stick of butter at room temperature. Make sure the butter is soft enough, but don’t melt it, I know you will be tempted to. Simply cut it up in small slices and mix with one cup of cane sugar. Use a fork to break down the butter pieces and mix together with the sugar until it becomes a paste or close to it. Use a blender for this and set aside.
In a small bowl, mix 2 eggs (room temperature) with 1 tsp of bourbon-vanilla extract. This extract is the secret ingredient, you can find it at Trader Joe’s. Take this mixture and slowly blend it with the sugar/butter. Now mix in the banana mixture together with a fork until it’s evenly distributed. It will be a yellow and runny mess but you’re almost there. Set aside (yes again!)
In a larger bowl combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Mix. The with a rubber spatula fold in the sugar-banana mixture to the flour mixture slowly until it’s fully combined. Now take up to 1/4 cup of walnut pieces and fold into the mixture.
                     After

Take some butter and coat the loaf pan so the bread can easily come out when it’s done. Pour the banana nut bread mix into the loaf pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake for 45-55 minutes. The time will depend on your oven. When the bread is golden brown insert a toothpick to check. If it comes out clean your bread is ready! Let cool for about 10 minutes and remove from pan. Once the bread has been cooled wrap the loaf of bread in plastic wrap. It will release sugar and butter and give it a yummy tasting coating and it won’t dry. Enjoy and be ready to go bananas for this one, I know I do!

What you’ll need:                                                                              

  • 4 bowls (2 small, 1 med, 1 large)
  • 3 ripe bananas (they should have dark freckles and be soft)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup of cane sugar (but regular sugar will do too)
  • 1 tsp of bourbon-vanilla extract (regular vanilla extract is fine)
  • 1 tsp of baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp of baking powder (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp of salt
  • 1 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick ) of butter
  • 1 loaf pan
  • Walnut pieces (you can also use chopped almonds or pecans)