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...)

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Polenta Pie

I started following food blogs a few years back, started with 101 Cookbooks, then maybe a year later I added White on Rice Couple. Now I am up to 10 with 70 more I want to have a look at... Of course a lot of them have cross overs and the recipe I am sharing with you today is actually the first one I found on two blogs. The first time I saw it was a delicious, cheesy, meaty version created by Bev from Bev Cooks, a few weeks later a vegetarian version was posted on Two Peas and their Pod. I did not actually connect them initially but both sounded absolutely delicious!!!

I was in a vegetable phase so I decided to go for the healthier version with delicious roasted vegetable and I doubled it... That was probably not the smartest choice, I ate it for 3 weeks!!!! but loved every bit of it :).

Vegetarian Polenta Pie
Recipe adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod
Tomato sauce:
- oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
- salt & pepper
Polenta pie:
- 2 small zucchinis, chopped
- 2 small yellow squashes, chopped
- 1 small eggplant, chopped
- 2 red pepper, chopped
- oil
- Salt & pepper
- 2 c polenta
- 6 c milk
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp Kosher salt
- 1 c grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 c shredded mozzarella

- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- To make the tomato sauce, heat the oil over medium heat in a large pan. Add the onion and cook until tender. Stir in garlic, tomatoes,  basil, oregano, and red pepper. Season with salt and black pepper and let simmer for about 30 minutes over low heat.
- While the sauce is simmering, roast the vegetables. Place zucchini, squash, eggplant, and red pepper on a large baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss. Roast for 25-30 minutes, or until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally. When the vegetables are done roasting, set aside to cool and reduce oven temperature to 375 F.
- In a large pot, bring the milk, butter, sugar and salt to a light simmer. Slowly add the polenta to the pot, whisking constantly until the polenta pulls away from the sides of the pot.  Pour the mixture into a 13 by 11 casserole dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Top with the parmesan.
- Evenly spread the roasted vegetables on top of the polenta. Spread the tomato sauce over the vegetables and top with grated mozzarella cheese. 
- Place the pie in the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until bubbly and the cheese is melted and slightly browned. Let rest for about 10 minutes. Cut into squares and serve warm.

Enjoy!!!! Note that I had a little too much sauce so it made a mess in my oven, you might want to hold off some of the sauce.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Chocolate Chip and Caramel Cookie Bar

This week end was a lot of fun, I packed the girls in the car and drove an hour and a half south of Gainesville to a lure coursing get together. I thought that Trysta might be into that since she always wants to run, especially after cats and squirrels. It turns out she was not interested at all, she would much rather play with other whippets :). I did come back with a nice sun burn... which is amusing considering that many of my Facebook friends are posting pictures of snowy landscapes...

Anyway, lunch was a potluck, with a lot of DELICIOUS food!!!! I decided to take that opportunity to bake that cookie bar recipe. I have to say that any recipe that takes more than 2 sticks of butter has to be made for a crowd. I doubled the recipe and it did not turn out exactly ass I expected :). It was more of a very chocolaty goeey brownie, especially after sitting in the sun for a few hours ;).

This is probably AMAZING with some vanilla ice cream, but you might want to make that your dinner...

Chocolate Chip and Caramel Cookie Bar
Recipe adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod
- 4 1/4 c AP flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 3 sticks (!!!) butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
- 2 c brown sugar
- 1 c sugar
- 2 large egg
- 2 large egg yolk
- 4 tsp vanilla extract
- 4 c chocolate chips (I would probably use 3 next time)
- 22 oz caramel candy squares, unwrapped
- 6 tbsp heavy cream

- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Spray an 11 by 13 casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and baking soda. Set aside.
- In the large bowl, mix the melted butter and sugars together until combined. Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla extract and mix until smooth. Slowly add the dry ingredients and mix with a spoon, just until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.
- In a large microwave safe bowl, combine the caramels and heavy cream. Microwave caramels on high until caramels are melted, stirring every 20 seconds.
- Divide the cookie dough in half. Press half of the cookie dough into the prepared pan. Pour hot caramel over the cookie dough. Drop spoonfuls of cookie dough over the caramel it will cover the caramel when  it cooks.
- Bake cookie bars for 30 minutes or until the top of the bars are light golden brown. Cut bars into squares and serve.

Enjoy!!! (warm)

Friday, February 3, 2012

Potato latkes (in duck fat!!!)

Latkes are some of the easiest, most delicious and most addicting side dishes I know about. It is very simple, a shredded vegetable, originally potatoes, sweet potatoes or one of my favorite zucchini! You toss it with some flour or corn starch and sometimes an egg. And you drop it in a hot oiled pan. Brown it, flip it, brown and ENJOY!!!! This is as simple as it gets, especially if you have a food processor that shreds for you (I am really gifted at shredding my fingers otherwise :) ).

My love for latkes made me very excited when I came across this on the Family Kitchen and this recipe from Delicious Dishing just screamed my name. Before you click on the link I am warning you that you might feel compelled to make that recipe IMMEDIATELY, it doesn't matter if it's 6am or 11pm, this is how good and delicious they look.

Here is my adaptation of this recipe:
Potato and scallion latkes
- 3 scallions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
- 1 lb potatoes, peeled and shredded, reserved in cold water
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- duck fat (or oil...)
- salt & pepper

- Swirl the shredded potatoes in the water and rinse them, and then dry them thoroughly using paper towels.
- Place the shredded potatoes in a large bowl, toss with cornstarch.
- Heat the fat in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add half of the potatoes to the pan, and gently spread them, season with salt and pepper.
- Sprinkle the scallions on top of the potatoes
- Spread the remaining potatoes on top of the scallions and season
- Cook for 6 to 7 minutes to brown the bottom.  
- Then flip the potatoes to brown the other side. To do this place an inverted baking sheet on top of the pan and flipping the whole thing over and then sliding the pancake off of the baking sheet back into the skillet (you can also use a plate depending on the size of your skillet)
- Cook until the bottom is brown and crispy

Enjoy!!! you can also make individual latkes if you wish :)

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Prosciutto wrapped, stuffed chicken breast

This was my latest Christmas dinner. When I went grocery shopping the story had already been raided and I could not find any exciting protein. I was hoping for some duck, goose or maybe fish but nothing was calling my name. That's when I thought about that recipe that I came across on Bev's blog, I though that it was simple and yet fancy enough for Christmas, and perfect since it was just my mom and I so I could easily down size it. I tweaked it a little and served it with some potato latke.

My breasts definitely did not look as nice and my wrapping job was a MESS!!! but they did taste good, that's all that matters... right?...
Prosciutto wrapped, stuffed chicken breast 
Recipe adapted from Bev Cooks
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 2 slices prosciutto
- 1/2 c aragula
- 1 c shredded mozzarella
- salt and pepper

 - Butterfly the chicken breasts. Layer 1/2 c shredded cheese, followed by half the arugula. Sprinkle a little salt and pepper on top and close the chicken breast.
- Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper on both sides.
- Lay the chicken breast on top of the 2 prosciutto slices and wrap around the breast. (Mine fell appart so I used more slices, I suspect that they were too thin :) )
- Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken breasts to the pan seam side down and sear on each side, until the chicken is cooked through and prosciutto is nice and crispy. Remove from pan and set aside to rest a few minutes.
- Be careful not to overcook the chicken, the small breasts turned out dry...

Enjoy!!! with a nice salad or potato latkes (like we did, recipe to come shortly)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Thai chicken soup

I swear I am trying to keep up with the blog but when I get home in the evening I tend to be so tired that i don't want to do much... Right now I am suppose to sort through a new blog I am reading, make a couple albums, post recipe, organize recipes, write recipes... My computer broke last week and got fixed day before yesterday and I had a somewhat active social life for the past two days. Those things are not helping with that to-do list. And being without my laptop was not the most enjoyable experience either, I am sooooo addicted to it...

On top of that I have class that is taking more and more time, I am not sure if I am starting to enjoy it or not, helping students is rewarding, teaching not so much so far... That soup was a little like that I did not like it at first but now I am completely head over heels in love with it, DO NOT skip the lime and peanuts they are what makes it so delicious!!!!

Thai chicken soup
Recipe adapted from Bev cooks
- 3 chicken breas
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tbsp chopped ginger
- 2 (13.5 oz) cans coconut milk
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 3 tbsp soy sauce
- 4 oz thin rice noodles
- 2 red bell peppers, chopped
- 2 cups fresh beans sprouts
- 1 jalapenos, finely sliced
- 2 limes, for garnish
- chopped peanuts, for garnish

- In a pot, add the coconut milk, broth, garlic, ginger, chicken, jalapeno, soy sauce, a pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper. Simmer for 3 hours (until the chicken is cooked through and shreds easily).
- Remove chicken from pot and shred with two forks. Return to pot. Add the rice noodles, bell pepper and sprouts. Cook 30 more minutes. Adjust seasoning to taste.
- Serve each bowl garnished with sliced jalapeno, a small handful of chopped peanuts and some lime.


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Braised lamb shanks

I am sharing with you our new year's eve dinner, every once in a while I want to cook a special meal without anything special in mind, I love just going to a nice grocery store and browse the aisles looking for a nice protein. This time was attracted me was lamb shanks and I had that nice recipe from Anne Burrell, it reminded me a lot of her meat sauce which I LOVE!!! I did divide the recipe in half since it was only the two of us. Can you believe that I never had lambs shanks before?!! I had leg of lamb that my dad use to roast to a nice medium rare with some herbs and I loved it, it is one of dishes I miss the most I have to say.

Oh and the left over sauce is DELICIOUS, makes a wonderful pasta sauce, it's unbelievably meaty!!!

Braised lamb shanks
Recipe adapted from Anne Burrell
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 lamb shanks
- salt & pepper
- 1 onion, roughly chopped
- 2 large carrots, roughly chopped
- 2 celery stalks, roughly chopped
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 small can tomato paste
- 1 c red wine
- 1 bunch of thyme tied with kitchen twine
- 1 to 2 c water
- 2 bay leaves

- Preheat the oven to 400 F.
- Coat a Dutch oven (I used a 3.5 quart one) with oil, bring to a high heat.
- Puree the onions, carrots, celery and garlic in a food processor fitted with a metal blade, into a coarse paste, reserve.

- Season the shanks generously with salt and add them to the pan. Brown well on all sides and reserve.

- Discard the excess fat from the Dutch oven, add a little more oil to coat the bottom of the pan and add the pureed veggies. Season with salt, to taste. Saute the veggies until they are very brown and aromatic, about 20 minutes. Be careful not to let it burn, don't rush this step.
- Add the tomato paste and brown for 5 minutes. Stir in the wine and thyme bundle. Stir frequently and cook until the wine has reduced by about half.
- Add the shanks back to the pot and pour in 1 to 2 cups of water until the shanks are 3/4 submersed. Add the bay leaves to the pan, cover and put in the preheated oven. The cooking time will be about 2 1/2 hours. Turn the shanks over about halfway through the cooking time. Check the shanks every 45 min or so. If the liquid has reduced too much add more water. Defat as you go (mine were not fatty at all).
- Remove the lid during the last 30 minutes of cooking time for maximum browning. When the shanks are done the meat should be incredibly tender and flavorful.

Enjoy!!! (I served them with oven baked fries)

Monday, January 16, 2012

Thai chicken salad

My kitchen is slowly expending, it's interesting how fast that goes. I am not done with sharing my holiday recipes but today I decided to share a simple recipe that I ate over and over again last week. For some reason being back in Florida puts me in the mood for healthier food. I crave veggies and seafood. Oh and I am also in thai kick it seems. I just cooked some more developed recipes over the week end. One of the drawback of living alone is that I cooked 2 dishes to have some variety and now I have food for 2 weeks!!! Seriously!!! I don't think I can cook for 1 or 2 people, unless one of them seriously over eats. 

Anyway... I don't have many pictures of that recipe, last week end I was not really in the mood to cook (yes that does happen to me from time to time :) ). I had just driven 15h over night, started a new job and was trying to get settled in my new place. This is why I decided to make salads and sandwiches, they are easy, quick and healthy. I was also super excited to finally find some bean sprouts in my favorite grocery store. 

I always need to have some kind of protein on cheese in my salad, otherwise it is not really filling to me. This is why I decided to make some Asian inspired grilled chicken, I marinated, grilled and cubed 3 chicken breast and that I used in salads all week.

It required the purchase of a cutting board, I had everything else :).

Asian inspired chicken salad:
- 3 chicken breasts, cut in halves (helps the marinating process and cooks faster)
- 1/4c soy sauce
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1tsp sugar
- 3 garlic cloves finely chopped
- lemon dressing (I added some soy sauce to taste)
- lettuce, shredded
- bean sprouts
- tomato, chopped
- broccoli, blanched and cut in florets
- peanuts, chopped
- cucumber, chopped,
- any other salad ingredients that float your boat :)

- In a 1 quart ziplock bag, place the chicken, soy sauce, lemon juice, sugar and lemon. Mix well and let marinate for a few hours.
- Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat, cook chicken until cooked all the way through, cubed and reserve.
- Mix all your salad ingredient to your liking, add cubed chicken and drizzle with dressing (you don't really need me to tell you how to make a salad, right?!!!)


Thursday, January 12, 2012


Crazy times have started, I started teaching on Monday and as expected, I have much less time and the time I have, I tend to be lazy... the fact that I don't have a table or chairs does not entice me to write either but I do try to keep good habits. Not that you really care about this but my first lecture was horrible, the second one better and we will see how it goes, hopefully my level of stress will reduce but right now it's still pretty high. It's strange, I can present in a conference in front of however many people and be completely confident and comfortable but put me in front of 120 sophomore students and it's panic time... Anyway, I haven't cooked much at this point, I did invest in a zester to make some cranberry sauce in order to make some yogurt parfaits as snacks and a pot to boil water (and cook the delicious home grown broccoli given to me by Kate, so good!!!!).

I have to say that this is the one good things about being back here, Gainesville is as close as it gets to a home town for me for some reason and being able to spend time with friends I missed is priceless, so I will enjoy that as much as I can. This week I mostly ate smoked turkey and swiss on a slice of sour dough bread and Asian inspired salads, I need to share that chicken marinade with you later, I will have to do it again, I just winged it and didn't take pictures... just one of those, I don't feel like cooking but I need food for the week moments.

I am also catching up on the recipes on my favorite blogs for the past month... they have been piling up in my cooking inbox... I don't know how you do it but I keep a note in my phone where I add any recipe that looks yummy when I come across it, and at the end of the week I just go to that list and pick whatever I feel like eating the coming week. Honestly I have way to many recipes on my computer, I am in the thousands now... I should really do some cleaning but I am a recipe hoarder, I cannot help it... I have even things I will probably never make but just in case...

Anyway... Today I will share a lasagna recipe, I LOVE lasagna, it's really one of my favorite casserole kind of dish and it's so easy, it is a little time consuming, but so worth it. The recipe here is a mix of a few things, and you can definitely simmer it a little longer but I was in a hurry that day and I had miscalculated my schedule by 1h and it still came out great. I have to say that the precooked lasagna sheets are a very cool short cut, I refused to use them out of principle but I am sold on it now!

Recipe adapted from What's Gaby cooking
- 1 package no-boil lasagna sheets
- 2 c mozzarella cheese, shredded
- 1 c Parmesan cheese, shredded

- 4 tbsp unsalted butter
- 4 tbsp flour
- 2 2/3 c milk
- Salt & peppe
 - Ground nutmeg to taste

- oil
- 4 oz thick cut bacon, chopped
- 1 onion, roughly chopped
- 2 celery stalks, roughly chopped
- 2 carrots, roughly chopped
- 1lb ground meat (I used a meatloaf mix)
- 1 c red wine
- 1 1/2 c chicken stock
- 2 c milk
- 3 (14.5 oz) cans of tomatoes, roughly crushed (I crush them in my hands)
- Salt & pepper to taste


- In a medium pot, melt the butter over medium high heat.
- Stir in the flour and whisk together to create a roux. Brown and slowly add in the milk and whisk to avoid lumps.
- Continue whisking until the bechamel is thick. Season with salt, pepper and a pinch of nutmeg. Set aside.

- In a food processor equipped with a metal blade pulse the onion, carrot and celery into a coarse paste

- In a large sauce pan over heat a couple tbsp of oil over medium high heat, add the bacon and sautee until render it's fat, you can discard some of the fat if there is too much.
- Add the coarse veggie paste and brown, 15-20 min, be careful not to burn it though
- Add the ground meat and continue to saute until it is fully cooked.

- Add the red wine and let it reduce by half.
-  Stir ½ cup stock into the saucepan and cook until totally evaporated. Repeat with another ½ cup stock. Stir in the last 1/2 cup stock along with the milk and the tomatoes.
- Cook uncovered, until the sauce resembles a thick, meaty stew. Season with salt and pepper.

- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- To assemble, place a layer of the bechamel in a 13x9 casserole dish, followed by a layer of the noodles and then topped with a layer of the ragu and half the cheese. Repeat this process.
- Bake in the pre-heated oven for 45-50 minutes until the top is golden. Let it rest for a few minutes before serving.

Enjoy!!! (as is or with a salad, I have to tell you that the leftovers are almost even more delicious!!!)

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Butternut squash soup

And I am back!!! Yes I know that I have not published in a week, it has been crazy times for us, I am now back in Florida, it is strange how much it feels like home. I am sad to see Matt leave tonight to go back to Philly but I am so happy to be able to spend time with my girl friends again, it is something I missed so much... I am almost all set here, if you consider camping as all set, I have an unfurnished two bedroom, with 2 dog crates, an air mattress, a tv and a found tv stand... it's very basic but only a few months :). I never had such an empty kitchen before, it's a strange feeling, I might post some pictures later maybe, right now I will mostly eat salads and sandwiches, I did see a few meat cuts that I will have to make because I have such a hard time finding them in PA, but that will come later. Tomorrow I will start teaching... I am TERRIFIED!!! 118 sophomore students, 90% guys and I will teach introduction to numerical methods (math...) everyone's favorite topic... I can feel the panic attack coming tonight and the sleepless night too :).

Right now I still have a few recipes to share with you from the holiday season, I will start with an easy soup (can you believe that I don't even have a cookie sheet?!!! I know, it's a shame).
Butternut squash soup (in an acorn squash bowl)
- 1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed
- 1 or 2 onions, quartered
- 2 acorn squash, top cut and seeded
- olive oil
-  salt and pepper
- chicken (vegetable) stock

 - Preheat oven to 400F

- Toss the butternut squash and onion with olive oil (about 1 tbsp), salt and pepper, spread on a baking sheet
- Season the acorn squash and place cut side down on a baking sheet
- Bake until cooked, fork tender about 45min

- Place the butternut squash and onion mixture in a food processor equipped with a metal blade, pulse until smooth, adjust the texture to taste with chicken stock, adjust seasoning.
- Ladle in the acorn bowls, you can top with sour cream and/or bacon bites


Monday, January 2, 2012

Meyer lemon dressing

I apologize for the absence of pictures in this post... I will try to add some later :)

Happy new year!!! This should hopefully be an exciting year and we will get to see 2013, I know that it is most likely non-sense but seeing all those documentaries on how the world is suppose to end in 2012 kinda freaks me out... Anyway this is a year that starts with some big changes on my side, I will get back to that later as it unfolds but lets just say that I have a few busy months ahead of me. This all starts with me partially moving back to Florida, I will be teaching there at the university for at least 1 semester (completely freaks me out but a job is a job, right?...). This will be "interesting", I am leaving all my stuff here with Matt in Philly, I will just take what fits in my car, which is not much once you have added a co-pilot (15h drive over night..), 2 dogs, crates and tv. I will have to make do with a fairly basic kitchen, right now I am thinking cast iron skillet and French oven, couple plates & bowls, silverware and a wisk, I will buy things as I need them. 

Anyway, this more of a warning to you, there will be less cooking probably and somewhat different, much less baking and more soups and salads since that's what I enjoy eating when I am left on my own.
I do still have some holiday recipes to share with you and I will do that but to start this new year to a fresh start I thought I would share with you a salad dressing. I am usually just oil and vinegar (much more vinegar than oil) kinda gal, or light Italian, but I came across a bag of Meyer lemon at the market and I could not resist getting it. I made lemon bars (to come) and then I thought I would give a shot to that recipe for a change, OMG this is so good!!!! I tossed it on some romaine with tomato, blue cheese and crispy bacon bits and I was in light food heaven... So here you go:

Meyer lemon dressing
Recipe from White on rice couple 
- 2 tbsp Meyer lemon juice
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/4 tsp salt, or to personal taste
- 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp mayo (I use light mayo)
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1 clove garlic, crushed in a garlic press

Combine all ingredients in medium bowl. Whisk together until mayo blends into vinaigrette, leaving no lumps, I usually start with the mayo, adding the liquid slowly, like a slurry.

Enjoy over your favorite salad combination