Monday, July 23, 2012

Avocado & chickpea salad (dip)

For those of you who are not Facebook friends of mine (I doubt they are any but who knows...) here is one of my wedding pictures, it took us a while to get them, over a month... but it was worth it I think. It makes me understand people who have professional pictures taken every once in a while. It is so American.... but I absolutely love the result. I am one of those people who love having pictures of loved ones framed around the house and on my desk at work. 

One of my favorite part of the summer is all the wonderful fresh fruits and veggies and what I discovered is that blueberries strive in Michigan ( I LOVE berries!!!!) but more on that topic later on. Today I want to share with you my love of avocados and one of my favorite lunches. I love avocado in any application, slices on a sandwich or burger, in guacamole, diced on top of a salad, or anything you can come up with, I even tried ice cream (!!!) but that's still a work in progress, a little too sweet but other than that absolutely amazing, even my not-so-avocado-lover-husband found it ok... Anyway today I am presenting you with with an avocado & chickpea salad, this is very versatile, it would be a great alternative to guacamole as a dish, you could add some jalapeno or corn, I added lump crab meat for some diversity. Feel free to add anything that sounds good to you, this is a fairly blank and delicious canvas :)

Avocado and chickpea salad
Recipe inspired by Two peas and their pod
- (15 ounce) can chickpeas
- 2 ripe avocado (medium, adjust depending on the avocado you can get your hands on)
- Half a bunch of cilantro, chopped
- 2 green onions, sliced
- Juice from 1 lime (heavy hand on the lime will prevent it from browning if you prepare it for lunch the next day)
- Salt and pepper, to taste

- Drain the chickpeas.Mash them using a fork or a potato masher in a bowl, or a pan (for a flat surface)
- Add the the avocado and mash together
- Add in cilantro, green onion, and lime juice. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

 Note: this is when you could add other ingredients such as jalapeno, corn, cooked shrimp or lump crab, I do encourage you to experiment with that!
Enjoy as is, as dip or in a sandwich!!! You can thank me later :)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Nutella & toasted hazelnut cookies

I am now back in Michigan, I had big plans for last week but it appears that it went up in smoke. I have no clue what happened, I had planned on catching up on my blog but as you can notice this obviously didn't happen. I did take care of my car and the paperwork I had to do. For those who don't really know me I am a car fanatic, my car is my baby and I am borderline OCD when it comes to it. I finally managed to pay it off (thanks to Matt) so to celebrate that I cleaned it, had it detailed, oil changed and inspected (that was a requirement more than a choice but still). It passed everything with flying colors. Here is a picture of my baby, isn't she gorgeous?!!! It's already 5 years old but I am getting more and more attached to it and trading it in would be really hard, it already broke my heart to sell my previous car, a '99 Mustang and I would cry every time I saw it on the streets. I also cannot find a better car for me than my current one, unless I am willing to spend 50k... I do drool on the Cadillac coupe, especially the luxury model that has a monster engine.... Anyway when you spend almost 2h a day in your car (and you are me) a very strong bond builds up. I also drove up and down the east coast more times that I care to remember, up to 22h drive straight on my own.

Anyway, you are probably not here to hear me ramble about my car and I could go on for hours so let's cut it here :). I am trying to go between sweet and savory to today I am presenting you with a cookie recipe (an AMAZING cookie recipe may I say...). My coworker Linda said it's her favorite cookie of mine so far, it's a toasted hazelnut, nutella recipe, it's like a brownie in a bite, chewy, chocolaty with a slight coffiness (I don't like coffee and loved it so please don't be put off by that).

Here we go... (FYI the recipe has to rest 2h so plan for it :) )
Nutella and toasted hazelnut cookies
Recipe adapted from Brown Eyed Baker
- 3 c AP flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- 1¼ cups Nutella
- 4 tbsp butter, at room temperature
- 1 1/3  c sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp instant espresso powder
- 1/3 c milk
- 2 c hazelnuts, toasted and finely chopped (by hand or in a food processor) 

- Combine the fry ingredients (flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl). 
- Wisk the Nutella, butter, and granulated sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes (an electic mixer would help here but elbow grease works too :) ). 
- Add the eggs, vanilla, and espresso powder and mix until incorporated. Alternate additions of flour mixture and milk, starting and ending with the flour, and mixing until just combined after each addition. 
- Fold in ½ cup of the hazelnuts. Refrigerate the dough until firm, at least 2 hours and up to 24 hours.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Place the remaining hazelnuts in a bowl. Roll the dough into balls (about 1 to 2 tbsp, I like my cookies on the small/medium size), roll in the hazelnuts. Place the balls 2 inches apart on the baking sheets. Bake until the edges are set and the middle still looks a tad soft, about 10 minutes, DO NO OVERCOOK if you think that they are almost cooked it's perfect (yes I will yell at you until you learn : ) ). Cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet, and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely, you won't be able to move them until then anyway. 
- Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature.

Be nice and share, great with coffee (apparently) or milk (I confirm)!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Barbacoa (burrito bowl)

One of the cool things about working for a car manufacturer is the summer shutdown, which means that unless you apply and obtain the right to work you cannot work for the entire work of July 4th! I have to say this is AWESOME!!! My job is not perfect and being apart is not easy so this is maybe why this feels so good.

Since I have the girls I cannot travel, Matt is the only one who can visit. That is why we decided to come visit this week, I drove the 9h on Friday afternoon and here we are. One week to catch up on things I missed here and things I need to do (paperwork, car things, shopping, cooking, etc.). Michigan is great but I prefer the greater Philadelphia area, it's more lively and diverse in my opinion.

I will get back to that later, I will try to post since I have more time. For the time being I will share with you a recipe that is inspired from one of my favorite blogs and one of my favorite "fast food" places. Bev has the most hilarious food blog I ever came accross (Bev Cooks), she has an amazing sense of humor and great recipes, this is why when she posted a recipe for Chipotle inspired barbacoa I HAD to try (and modify it some since her level of spice is way off mine... ;) I am a total wimp!). Chipotle is definitely one of my favorite places to eat out at, I can literally eat there every week and barbacoa is always part of my burrito bowl. The barbacoa I present you with here is awesome in a burrito bowl as I showcase it here but it would be great in any of your favorites, burritos, nachos, tacos or my lates favorite taco cups!!! (recipe to come :) ).

Recipe inspired by Bev Cooks
- 2 lb beef chuck roast (any major fat trimmed)
- 1 (7 oz) can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (I used only the sauce, discarded the peppers)
- 1 tbsp cumin
- 1 tbsp chili powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tbsp oregano
- 3 tbsp tomato sauce
Suggested toppings: 
- fresh salsa
- grilled corn
- avocado/guacamole
- cilantro, chopped
- lime
- sour cream
- cheese
- shredded lettuce
- tortillas, tacos, etc
- Place the beef, adobo sauce, cumin, chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder and oregano into a Dutch over (or slow cooker). Rub the spices in the meat. 
- Place the Dutch oven on low heat, cook for 6 hours. Flip the meat every 2 hours or so. During the last hour (or when the meat falls apart), take two forks and shred the meat, right there in the pot. 
- Close the lid and let it finish cooking.
- Serve in your  favorite way with toppings of your choosing (should serve 4)


You can thank me later.... (I do suggest that you use only the adobo sauce in a fist time, it already has a nice kick that way).

Monday, June 25, 2012

Homemade snickers bar

 I am really enjoying Instagram, it allows and encourages me to take snap shot of my life and share it with my friends. I also like modifying the pictures, it helps enhance them. I started that when I decided to start blogging again so that I could usemy phone to take pictures. Don't get me wrong, I have a camera and I love it but I always have my phone at hand. 

This is also why you will probably find more random pictures on my blog, such as that picture of Trysta. This is what I woke up to on Saturday, it was not even 8 but was past my usual 5:30 and she was apparently eagerly waiting for me to get up.

The recipe I am sharing with you here today is a recipe I have starred at for months but didn't dare trying. I tried it because one of my friends came to visit and it was also the first recipe I share with my colleges at Ford. You might find more treats/cookies recipes here because I have gotten in the habit of bringing cookies to work on Monday, I almost feel bad if I don't bring a little something but it's very bad for my waist line so I might take a break once in a while ;). This is something that keeps me busy when Matt is not here and allows me to bake him something to bring back home with him.

Anyway, here we go, this is a WINNER!!! homemade snickers, it is so unbelievably easy and tastes AMAZING, I can guarantee that your friends/colleges/family will be in love with you. It does make a lot (9x13 pan :) ).

Homemade Snickers Bars
Bottom chocolate layer:
- 1¼ c milk chocolate chips
- ¼ c creamy peanut butter
Nougat layer:
- 4 tbsp butter
- 1 c granulated sugar
- ¼ c evaporated milk
- 1½ c marshmallow creme
- ¼ c creamy peanut butter
- 1½ c salted peanuts, roughly chopped
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
Caramel layer:
- 14 ounces caramels
- ¼ c heavy cream
Top chocolate layer:
- 1¼ c milk chocolate chips
- ¼ c creamy peanut butter

- Grease a 9×13-inch baking pan. Line with parchment paper, then grease the parchment paper
- Bottom chocolate layer: Melt together the chocolate chips and peanut butter in the microwave on 50% power until completely smooth and melted, stirring every 30 seconds. Pour into the prepared baking dish and, smooth into an even layer. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes, until cool and hard.
- Nougat layer: Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the sugar and evaporated milk, stirring until dissolved, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and cook about 5 min, stirring occasionally. Remove the pan from heat and mix in marshmallow fluff, peanut butter, and vanilla extract. Stir in the peanuts, then pour over the bottom chocolate layer. Smooth out, refrigerate at least 30 minutes, until cool.
- Caramel layer: Unwrap the caramel and combine with the heavy cream in a small saucepan over low heat. Melt, stirring occasionally, until smooth. Once completely melted, cook for an additional 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Pour the caramel over the nougat layer. Refrigerate another 30 minutes.
- Top chocolate layer: Melt together the chocolate chips and peanut butter the same way you did for the top layer. Pour over the caramel layer and, using a spatula, smooth into an even layer. Refrigerate at least, 30 to 60 minutes, until completely cool.
- Let warm up a little and remove the bars from the par, cut into desired shape. A little word of warning the chocolate layer melts very easily at room temperature so I do recommend to refrigerate to store but I enjoy eating them at room temperature.

Share and enjoy!!!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Summer salad

I had a few recipes to pick from to start with but considering the current weather here I thought that this salad was appropriate it was something I put together real quick, not really a recipe but it was VERY yummy. Towards the end of the week I always end up digging through me fridge wondering what I am in the mood for. Often my fridge feels like my closet, even though it's full to the brim I feel like nothing fits me :). 

Anyway yesterday I felt like a healthy dinner in a hurry because I had to take Ariel to the chiropractor and I am always STARVING when I get dog, it's kind of Pavlovian. You can here see a picture of Ariel on the way back, she was obviously tired and very relaxed. Oh and way after everyone I discovered Instagram and guess what, I am LOVING it!!!!! if you want to follow me look for lexcoppe.

Anyways, the idea behind this post came with asparagus, I don't know about you but I love asparagus in any kind of form. When I was a child my mom would buy pounds (rather kgs ;) ) of them and I always loved helping her peel them, she knew the lady who sold them so often she only bought broken ones, which were heads. Those were white asparagus, it's only after coming here that I started eating mostly green asparagus (and purple ones in MI!!!), white ones are hard to come by. My mom made AWESOME asparagus soup, I hope to be able to replicate it sometimes, also a really nice asparagus/potatoes ragout in white sauce.

 The key point of this recipe is the "fastest", easiest way to steam asparagus you can can think of and this is what I wanted to share with you :), all you need is asparagus (obviously...), paper towels, a microwave and maybe salt (definitely if you are me).

Summer salad (1 large salad for one)
Ingredients (quantities are really up to you)
- 2 cobs of corn, charred on all sides (I am in love with my new grilling pan but we will get back to it later...)
- 1 tomato, diced
- half a small onion, finely chopped
- half a romaine heart shredded
- 1lb of asparagus
- chopped cilantro
- crumbled feta cheese
- dressing of your liking (I used 2 tbsp of balsamic vinegar & 1 tbsp olive oil)
- 1 avocado would be a great addition

- After grilling the corn thoroughly (about 10 min), cut the kernels of the cobs using a large sharp knife
- dampen paper towels, squeeze most of the water out, layer the asparagus in a single layer, season with salt, fold the paper towel over the asparagus and roll. Microvave for 4 to 5 minutes (you will need to test that depending on the size of your asparagus and your microwave)
- chopped all the veggies
- toss all ingredients together with the dressing

 Enjoy outside on the patio! (ok, that's only a very strong suggestion...)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

And I'm back!!!

I am not exactly sure if anyone will read this since I fell off the grid for over 6 months but I thought I would try to go back to blogging. The past 6 months have been such a roller-coaster I am now trying to get back to some sort of stability. I won't share any recipe with you today but rather try to catch you up real quick on all that happened since this year started, can you believe that we are already almost through half that year?!!! I REALLY hope that the Maya were wrong and that this is not the last 6 months we get ;) otherwise this is not nearly enough and I have some major complaints!!!!

Anyway, here we go with my time line:
- late December 2011 I got engaged!!! Yes I know, I could have told you there and the but we wanted to keep it somewhat between us... We decided to get married in the spring so it would be a short lived "secret" anyway
- early January I moved to Florida to teach as you know. I was terrified but it turned out amazing, I really enjoyed interacting with the student and I grew quite fond of some of them. I was hard to leave and I miss it a lot. This is when I quit blogging, I was hardly cooking anymore and seemed unable to find time, not sure why but it was just not the right time.
- I left Florida on May 1st, back to Philly to get married on the 12th. My family got there on the 6th, it was crazy times, the wedding went well, we kept it small, 25 guests to be able to manage it more easily. It went with its fair share of drama but other than that was fine. I do hope however that this is not the best day of my life.... :)
- anyway, on the 17th I moved to Michigan, that's where I am at now.

Matt lives in Philly, I live in Ann Arbor. I work for Ford optimizing body for weight. I am still trying to figure out what my job exactly is and once I know that we will decide where we settle down, here, Philly or somewhere else...
In the mean time I am cooking some more and baking quite a bit so I thought I should go back to blogging as an attempt to returning to normal life. Glad to be back!

Friday, February 17, 2012

White Spinach Cheese Dip

The recipe I am sharing with you today is a delicious cross between two of my favorite things, cheese deep and cheese fondue!!! (can you tell that I am a cheese lover? :) ). I made that recipe to share one Friday night with Kate, it was delicious!!! We ate it with whole grain Tostidos cups, those things are SOOOO delicious, it is actually dangerous, I have to warn you, you might end up wanting to eat the whole bag straight up, I know I was tempted to. If you cube the cheese, try not to eat too much of it just like that. It is a recipe that will test your will power, this is the warning message, if you resist I can promise you that you will enjoy the reward.

White spinach cheese dip
Recipe adapted from Bev Cooks
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1/2 an onion, finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
-  4 handfuls of baby spinach
- 1 (10 oz) can cream of mushroom soup
- 1 (4 oz) can diced green chiles
- 2 (8 oz) blocks pepper jack cheese,cubed (or shredded)

- Heat the oil over medium-high in a saucepan. Add the onion and garlic and saute until soft
- Add the cream of mushroom soup and chiles. Stir to combine.
- Add in the cheese and melt it. Add the spinach one handful at a time until wilted.

Enjoy!!! I tried whole grain Tostido's chips and OMG they are AWESOME (too good may I say...)