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Asparagus and Potato Tart with Honey

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Who would have thought that honey would work so well with roasted asparagus, laying lusciously  on a bed of mashed buttermilk potatoes? I did not, but then inspiration struck, and boy am I glad that it did!

I’ve been looking through my french cookbooks, and sadly, while this is something that would come from a french cookbook it was inspired by Jamie Oliver. I believe the book I was looking at was At Home with Jamie, and I saw a photo (that’s all it took), with some white asparagus laying on a very velvety mound of mashed potatoes, encompassed in some puff pastry. I thought to myself, hell, I can do that, and so I did.

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Asparagus Tart with Potatoes and Honey

  • about 16 asparagus soldiers, trimmed of the tough stems
  • 2 cups mashed potatoes ( I added buttermilk when making mine, to make sure it was extra creamy)
  • 1 sheet puff pastry, defrosted
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • salt and pepper, to taste (If mashed potatoes are not seasoned)
  • olive oil for drizzling
  • parmesan cheese, approx 1/4 cup
  • clover honey, how much you use is to your taste, or omit

Season mashed potatoes with salt and pepper, or wait to season (if not already seasoned) till it’s laid out on the pastry sheet.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper and grease. Lay out the puff pastry sheet (store bought is perfectly fine). Score the sheet so you get a 1/2 inch border. Make sure you use a sharp knife but don’t cut all the way through the pastry sheet. you can also use a fork to prick the sheet in the  middle to ensure it doesn’t get puffy with the ingredients on it.

Dollop the mashed potatoes on the sheet, making sure not to go over the border line. Smooth it out to an even layer of potatoes all around the pastry sheet.

Add the asparagus, laying them gently and closely together to make a line across the potatoes. You can add these in any lines you like: vertical, horizontal, or even diagonally. I did mine horizontally, but I rotated from left to right so it so that every other spear touched the left or the right side of the border (to get asparagus in every bite, essentially).

Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

Bake for 15-17 minutes. Make sure the pastry boarder is puffing but isn’t get golden. Turn up the temperature up to 400 degrees F and bake for another 5 minutes or so. Checking to make sure the edges don’t burn.

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Take out and let rest two minutes. Drizzle with honey (I used organic clover honey, but any honey flavor will work here. I expect avocado honey will be especially amazing here), then let sit for another 4-5 minutes to allow honey to get slightly absorbed. Cut into squares and serve.

Don't mind that shiny thing in the corner, that's my knife. I couldn't resist a bite!

Don’t mind that shiny thing in the corner, that’s my knife. I couldn’t resist a bite!

Chicken Parm Meatballs

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I love ground chicken. I love ground turkey, too. Basically, I feel like the chicken has a slightly creamy texture when cooked with. I don’t even know how that’s possible, but beef seems too, basic. It’s almost like it’s drying. Which isn’t the case if it’s not in ground form. Obviously, I’m not talking about the super lean beef, but the ground chuck that you’re supposed to use for good flavor. Nope, I just can’t do it lately, I can’t cook with beef.

I suppose that’s good for me, in the long run, so it works out.

But I have to say, I’ve used ground chicken in pasta sauces, with lasagna, stuffed into peppers, and made chili with it. I’ve been working with ground turkey less than chicken, but today I’m returning to my old poultry friend in these delicious, and giant (!) meatballs.

From Dinner, A Love Story

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Chicken Parmesan Meatballs

  • 1 1/2 pounds ground chicken
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon chopped dill or parsley
  • 1/2 cup Pecorino (or Parm)
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste
  • paprika to taste
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 egg, whisked
  • zest of half a lemon
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil (or there abouts)
  • 1 14-ounce can store bought pizza sauce (or pasta sauce, I had pasta sauce so that’s what I used)
  • about 4 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced thinly (I didn’t have that, so I used a shredded mozzarella blend, with a bit of cheddar mixed in)

Preheat oven to 400°F, setting rack to upper third part of oven.

In a large bowl, using your hands, gently mix together first 11 ingredients (everything up to the olive oil). Shape into lacrosse-ball size balls (that would be somewhere between golf and tennis) and place a few inches from each other on a foil-lined baking sheet.

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Brush oil on top of each meatball (I just drizzled it around them and on top so some oil got under the meatballs as well. Bake for 15-20 minutes.

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Remove meatballs from oven, spoon some sauce on top of each meatball, and cover each with a slice of cheese. Broil another 3 to 5 minutes until cheese is bubbly and golden.  Heat remaining sauce in a small saucepan.

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Serve with some pasta or potatoes. I used some spaghetti squash, to keep it healthy.

These meatballs (if the same, large, tennis ball size) are about 128 calories each. Two is more than enough, especially with a side, for a meal.

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Triple Banana Walnut Muffins

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I have finally done it! I have created (sort of) my very own recipe. Let me explain, in terms of baking, I don’t really have any skills, simply because it’s more precise than cooking. Although I love to bake, I cannot say with full confidence that I’ve never not followed a recipe. Sure, I can sub in ingredients and maybe add more of one than another, but that’s adapting a recipe in it’s most basic form. Here, I barely followed the recipe at all, and I feel so proud.

Also, I apologize for the lack of pictures, but as I was just messing around in the kitchen, I honestly didn’t think that my first attempt that not following a recipe would come out so successful. 🙂

These muffins are very healthy, by muffin standards. They do have flaxsee (not a flax egg) for extra healthiness. Also I bought a lot of flaxseed and was trying to figure out where to use it.

This recipe was adapted, in part, from skinnytaste.

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Triple Banana Walnut Muffins

  •  3 bananas (decent sized, not large, but not too small, preferably very ripe)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 1/4 cup of plain greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp ground flaxseed
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup of chopped  walnuts
  • 1 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Mash bananas in a medium bowl. To that bowl, add 1 egg, oil, yogurt, flaxseed and brown sugar. Mix to combine. Add in the flour and baking powder and mix.  Finally, add in the vanilla, salt and the chopped walnuts. Mix all ingredients until well incorporated.

Line your muffin sheet with cupcake liners.

Fill your tins to the top. Mine made exactly 12 muffins. Bake in the preheated oven for about 25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean and muffins are firm and risen.  I started to check mine at 16 minutes (just to be sure, but they still had a bit of cooking to do).

Mushroom Soup and a Long Week Behind Me

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This past week has been a little too crazy for my liking. I had to prepare my entire apartment for the bug people coming (I do not have bugs, however the new owners of the building insisted on putting everyone out, having them loose a day of work, and making everyone very angry on a weekday), and then put it all back together. On. A. Weekday.

Apparently, last time this happened it occurred Saturday morning and they had three guys for the whole building, not one. I survived the ordeal, and overall it was a little bit worth it. I was able to toss out a bunch of kitchen items that I didn’t need, and I was able to re organize my spices.

Not to mention, during the cleaning process I found a few sets of China I completely forgot I owned!

Prior to this nonsense, on Tuesday I had made the greatest mushroom soup. It’s my first, and only mushroom soup really, but the statement still stands.  I got the idea from this recipe, but when first reading over it it seemed a little too complex, what with the coring and peeling of an apple and the use of an immersion blender (I knew what was in store for me later that week so I was in no mood to do extra work, not even for food).

My version, if I do say so myself, it quite better!

Aside from the soup I was able to accomplish a bit of decorating for the holidays. Sadly, I couldn’t get a good image of my nutcracker, however, the rest of the rooms are coming along nicely. I’m not sure if’ll I be hosting any parties because of my busy and tiring schedule in December, but in any case there’s no harm in decorating just for oneself.

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Those pine cones there are the same ones I picked about a week ago with Boyfriend out in… NATURE! I baked them for about 23 minutes in 200 degree oven. The sap got a lovely sheen and gave the pine cones an almost lacquered effect.

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Lastly, my crochet project (Boyfriend’s mom’s Christmas present) is moving along nicely. I’m at a steady pace today, and I’m hoping (with determination), to get through half of it.

 

Now, without delay, the recipe for amazing soup. ENJOY

Mushroom and Garlic Soup

  • 1 large onion, chopped finely
  • 2 heads of garlic mashed, chopped, or otherwise pulverized (to your liking)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 lb mushrooms (I used baby bellas, but button work, too), thinly sliced
  • 1 can of chicken stock (roughly 2 cups)
  • 1 can of coconut milk, shaken in can before opening (to get it all mixed well)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 sprig of rosemary, fresh if possible
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp of nutmeg
  • 1 tsp of ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp bourbon sea salt (I found this at Williams Sonoma- if you don’t have it, course sea salt is good as well)
  • 3 fresh sprigs of dill

In a large pot, heat the oil and butter. Add the onions and garlic. Salt a bit so the juices are released. Cover and let cook about 7 minutes, stirring occasionally on low heat; careful not to burn the onions or garlic.

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Add the mushrooms and saute for 3 minutes. Add more salt (not the flavored salt), pepper, spices, rosemary stock, chicken stock, and coconut milk. Stir, and raise the temperature to medium-high. Cover and cook for 10 minutes.

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Make sure it’s not bubbling too much, and after 10 minutes uncover, and let cook on medium heat (bubbling away) for 20 minutes. Add the bourbon salt and half the dill (I didn’t chop it up, just ripped it up with my hands).  Take out the sprig of rosemary, and slowly stir for about 3 more minutes to thicken the soup a bit.

Add more dill when serving soup.

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Chinese Blackened Chicken

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I knew today would be busy as soon as I woke up. I had laundry to do. Paintings to receive in the mail (and UPS was not making it easy for me), not to mention preparing for a ton of homework and memorization for the following weeks. Making flashcards, cooking dinner, vacuuming, and even doing my nails all had to be done today.

There was a bright side to all of this however, a new and delicious chicken recipe.

As this is a work day I decided to be a bit loose on the directions, and although I posted the original recipe below (also found here by The Gourmet Kitchen), I eyeballed the measurements and did it to taste and preference. The only thing that I can stress here is the chicken you’ll be using. You really do need to get skin on and bone in. Chicken breasts that are skinless and boneless, and all lean and healthy will not work here. I’m all for healthy and lean, but this chicken is not it. It’s great for lunch, if you only eat one piece at a time you’ll hardly notice the calories, which some steamed rice, you’re all set!

 

Chicken Blackened Chicken

  • 4 chicken wings, a few drumsticks and a few thighs – all skin on and bone in
  • 150mls dark soy – the best you can get will be from an oriental supermarket, it’s really really thick and a little sweet
  • 100mls light soy
  • 150mls shaoxing rice wine (I used unfiltered sake)
  • A few pinches Chinese five spice powder (I omited this, but used a lot of cinnamon, nutmeg, pepper, and cumin)
  • A large thumb sized piece of ginger, minced
  • A tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • Strands of ginger, red chilli and sliced spring onions to serve

Place the soy, minced ginger and garlic and shaoxing rice wine into a box with a lid and place into the fridge. Marinate for at least 24 hours, turning the box over occasionally so the wings are totally coated in the marinade.

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees.

Decant the chicken drumsticks and thighs (liquid and all) but not the wings into a roasting dish and place into the oven. After 15 minutes add in the wings and cook the whole lot for another 30 minutes in total, turning the pieces over every 10 minutes. Make sure the last 10 minutes is done with as much of the skin facing up as possible and give the skin a pinch of Chinese five spice just before it goes back into the oven.

Remove from the oven, give a drizzle of sesame oil, scatter with the ginger and spring onions and eat – we especially like it with egg fried rice.

Two for One Attempt

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I’ve started my Master’s program on Tuesday, August 21. It has been extremely eye opening. For one, it’s a lot of reading and references that are necessary for my field, which I am totally new to. All the scientific articles I have to keep track of and the vocabulary that I have get down, immediately, for fluency checks. It’s a little daunting, but nonetheless, exciting, and I’m feeling VERY good odds about this challenge.

As you can imagine however, I’ve been very busy. Not only did I start school myself but my client started high school. And I’ve been trying to get a lay of the land there, making new friends, seeing how teachers do things over there, checking out the dress code and what’s deemed “appropriate”  (a lot!).

In any case this means that I have been neglecting my readers, as well as my stomach. Although the minimal posts will probably continue for a good two years (length of my lovely Master’s Program) I’ll try to give you what you rightfully deserve. Yums!

As the title might hint, I was going to try for two easy-peasy recipes. I thought to myself I could just use up all four of my chicken breasts into one recipe, but then I’d be eating the same thing for lunch for four days, and that’s not okay with me. Too boring, and I’m anything if not boring. So I thought, splitting up the recipes would be a great way to use up all four chicken breasts (by the time they go bad), and also entertaining my stomach during the week. The first, was a white chicken chili, and the second was a chicken piccata.

I quickly learned my time wasn’t that flexible. Therefore, I could only make one, the chili, before the other chicken sadly, went bad. Anyway, live and learn… now I know to make two recipes, same day, and not to squaller about with homework, and chores. Silly girl 😀

White Chicken Chili

  • 2 thin chicken breasts, organic
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil, or any oil of your choosing
  • 1 tbsp white wine
  • 1 can of garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can of kidney beans, drains and rinsed
  • 1 1/2 cups of frozen sweet corn kernels (because I love me some corn)
  • 1/2 block of cream cheese (use low-fat if you prefer, but I think those things are plain disgusting)
  • 1 cup of chicken stock, low sodium**
  • 2 tbsp course sea salt
  • 1 tbsp freshly ground pepper, white or black (I used black to offset the creaminess of the corn)
  • 1  tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1-2 tbsp chili powder (add more or less depending on your taste)
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • a dash of nutmeg
Boil chicken for 30 minutes. You might want to check it at 30 and add more time if your chicken is thicker, but I used the thinly sliced breasts at the market, so 30 minutes was just enough time*. Take out of the water and shred with two forks.

In a dutch oven, about 3-4 qts large, add in the oil and cook the onion. Cook for 5 minutes without stirring. When the onions have gotten some brown bits at the bottom of the pan (brown, but not quite burnt), add in the wine to deglaze the pan. Cook down for another 2 minutes then add the spices, salt and pepper.

 

 

Make sure the onions are coated in the spices before adding the chicken, beans, stock, corn, and cream cheese. Everything in one pot, how convenient for later clean up.

Stir to break up the half-block of cream cheese, then cover, cooking for 10 minutes. Uncover, and turn the heat up the med-high, and cook another 13 minutes or so, till some of the liquid evaporates.

Serve with my cilantro- lime rice, or any rice you’ve got prepared for a filling lunch. Or without any side, it’s delicious either way!

Yields roughly 4-6 servings, depending on hunger.

*Remember that we’ll be cooking it further with the rest of the ingredients so if it’s a little pink in the center it’s okay.

**This is a runnier chili because I like adding my own liquid to the dish depending on taste. If you like it thicker, add more beans, or use less stock, about 1/2 cup.

Eggplant Parmesan

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One of the best things ever to make that’s easy and fulfills the vegetable quotient for the day. I didn’t use traditional methods, but of course, it still turned out wonderfully well. In my opinion, nothing is as wonderfully cheesy, salty, and creamy than a great plate of eggplant parmesan.

  • 1 medium eggplant, sliced 1/6 inch thick
  • course sea salt
  • 1 egg
  • panko breadcrumbs, about 2 cups
  • 2 cans of roasted tomatoes, crushed
  • 2 cups mozerella cheese
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese

Make sure to salt the eggplant slices generously and let sit in colander for 20 minutes or so so they become mushy and most juices leave them. Pat down slices when enough time has passed.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cover the bottom of an 8×8 in dish with roasted tomatoes. Now you’re ready for dunking. Whisk an egg with pepper in a bowl. In another plate, spread out your breadcrumbs. In assembly line format: dunk eggplant in egg, then panko, and layer in the prepared oven dish. between each layer of eggplant add some tomato sauce (I only had two layers). Cover top with mozerella cheese, and sprinkle parmesan on top of that.

Bake for 40 minutes till bubbling and juices are flowing at bottom of pan.

Enjoy hot.