Monday, September 28, 2015

my favorite breakfast meals

Breakfast has easily become my favorite meal. Perhaps its the obsession I have with eggs, but I think it's the fact that I realized that a few bites of a protein packed breakfast make my day hugely better.

I will note here that I do not have a nutrition background and I generally cook what tastes good. But. I do strive to cut calories where I can and make substitutions that make nutritional yet delicious sense.

I have compiled a few of my recent breakfast faves, all easy to make and worthy of the highest honor: first meal of your day. When you love food as much as I do, every meal counts.

Breakfast tortilla pizza
My most recent obsession to use up leftover tortillas from last nights dinner, and also get pizza for breakfast. Win/win.

Place the tortilla in the toaster oven on 350 with a smear of ricotta (sooo creamy and one of the lowest in fat/calorie cheeses) and maybe some goat cheese or skim mozzarella.
cook up an egg--I go for a medium yolk here with some cooking spray in the pan
layer some turkey, arugula, tomatoes or salsa, or any veggies you have on hand, add your egg on top

Avocado toast

Yep, I know, totally "basic." But full of healthy fat, protein and absolutely craveworthy.

  • I like to make mine with half of a mashed avocado, spiced up with red pepper flakes, salt, pepper and lemon juice.
  • spread that on toast (my favorite low calorie options are Daves Killer Bread-great story behind this brand and only 60 calories a slice & Trader Joes Organic sprouted wheat oats and honey--only 90 calories a slice.)
  • add any kind of egg you like. I go for poached, medium boiled or sunny side up. Something to give me a yolk to add to the creaminess. 
  • slice up tomato, arugula, parsley, peppers--any veggie you want
  • finish with a sprinkle of salt

Yogurt with granola
Greek yogurt has a ton of protein in it--I mix it with fresh fruit like peaches and bananas, honey, some hemp seeds (another protein packed food) and some granola or cereal.
This one is so easy for a quick morning meal when you're in a rush and you can even layer it with the granola in between the yogurt/fruit for an on-the-go breakfast!

Blueberry buttermilk whole wheat pancakes
Probably the most time consuming of the list, but a great weekend brunch idea. I think any fruit would be great in here, and I like to sub out maple syrup sometimes for a fruit compote.

I am working on some greek yogurt pancakes I hope to feature on here soon. I am really bad at writing down my measurements and when you are baking, that is kinda, sorta, important. So stay tuned for those and more!

And send me requests for more breakfast foods and ideas!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

friday night pasta

Growing up, Friday nights were reserved for family dinner. In my great grandmothers basement kitchen (she had two kitchens, mind you), more than 20 of us would gather at her long table, usually to enjoy pasta.

My mom has a big family and everyone lived within minutes of each other, so these dinners were so much of our routine that they felt like they were in my own home. Pounds and pounds of pasta were served, with homemade sauce of course and lots of grated cheese. Feeding the hungry masses in the simplest way possible.

Family pasta nights on Friday was not a tradition that carried through into my adulthood and soon I began to associate Sunday with pasta day and the table got just a bit smaller, in my parents kitchen. But the idea was and is still the same: al dente noodles, a salty cheesy bite, and now, lots of wine poured. I can get on board with that.

Last Friday I had a craving for pasta and was transported back to those childhood Friday nights. A more upscale take on the simple childhood favorite, but delicious just the same.

pasta with mint, peas and prosciutto in a ricotta cream sauce with lemon
(serves two)
1/4 lb of pasta (I used bucatini here, a thin spaghetti looking noodle with a hole in the middle)
4 slices of prosciutto, diced and crisped in a pan
1/2 cup of peas
a handful of mint, roughly chopped
juice of 1 lemon, plus the zest
2 tbsp of butter
1 tbsp of flour
2/3 cup of milk (I used fat free, you can also use half and half)
1/2 cup whole milk ricotta
a sprinkle of nutmeg
1/4 tsp of red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste

  • cook pasta to package directions, about 2 minutes before you are ready to pull it, add the peas
  • while pasta is cooking, make your cream sauce by melting butter and adding flour, whisking together to form a thin paste
  • once the flour/butter base is formed, remove pot from heat and add the milk and ricotta, stir in
  • add nutmeg, salt and pepper and let it simmer on low until it forms a creamy sauce (use my back of the spoon trick to test it)
  • once pasta and peas are done, drain and then transfer back to cooking pot
  • pour cream sauce over it, then add lemon juice and mint and stir together
  • before serving, sprinkle the prosciutto and lemon zest on top

Monday, September 14, 2015

pineapple glazed salmon with pineapple & jalapeno salsa

I have never cooked fish much. It's on the expensive side and something that seems intimidating. Undercooked is not an option and overcooked is rubbery or just plain inedible. Before I met Mike I had actually only cooked it once on my own (and countless times with my mothers guidance/direction for Christmas eve).

I tried a few methods...covered it in butter sauce. Crisped pancetta on top. And he had a few bites and would then default to the backup chicken I made for him...

But, these last few months we have been making a conscious effort to eat healthier, have more protein and vitamin-packed foods and there is no better option than fish.

[I have to note here that I believe in the "everything in moderation" approach and can't imagine I will ever stray. I mean, in a week I ate s'mores two ways. But they were small portions. And the rest of my day was balancing that as best I could. This is not going to turn into a health blog and I will never claim to know more than I do, but these are the small changes we are making in our household.]

Theres a local fish market near our place so I walked in one day and picked out some wild Alaskan salmon, as well as these gorgeous giant prawns. Then I spent the whole way home and most of the day trying to figure out how to get Mike to eat it.

I came up with a pineapple and jalapeno salsa with bulgar on the side and then Mike suggested I glaze the salmon with some juice from the pineapple...which is a genius idea. He was actually willing to eat it and I didn't even make back-up chicken!

So here's how I did it:

pineapple glazed salmon with pineapple & jalapeno salsa
2 salmon fillets, each about 4 oz
1/2 cup pineapple, diced finely
1 jalapeno, minced (I removed the seeds & ribs from half to minimize spiciness. leave them in for full spice, or take then out all together for a milder taste)
juice of 1 lime
2 tbsp pineapple juice (I got this from cutting the pineapple/squeezing a few pieces. you can also buy canned, just try to find the natural ones, no added sugar, etc.)
salt and pepper for seasoning
1 tbsp butter

  • preheat oven safe pan on medium heat, add butter
  • preheat oven to 375
  • season salmon on both sides with salt and pepper
  • once butter has melted, add salmon skin side down
  • I let it cook for 3 mins per side, then flipped it back to skin side down, drizzled the pineapple juice on it and put it in the oven for another 4-5
tip: the cooking time will depend on the thickness of the cut and the fish market was able to guide me on cooking times

  • I was looking for the pineapple glaze to get a little bubbly and once it did, I pulled it out of the oven and served it with the salsa on top

to make the salsa:

  • mix the diced pineapple, jalapeno, salt, pepper and lemon juice in a bowl, cover and let sit in the fridge

Let me know what you guys think!

Friday, September 11, 2015

friday tips: s'mores two ways

All summer I have been craving s'mores with no campfire in I had to improvise! How about in the oven? Or with cookie dough? Check out my tips below for making this indulgent dessert!

First of all, you need cookie dough you can eat raw. This trick has served me well since I love to use it as an ice cream topping, or mix it into homemade ice cream or just consume it with a spoon straight from the freezer.

In place of the egg, use 1/3 cup of vegetable oil, and stir into the batter. Slowly add 1/4 of water until the consistency is creamy enough (not too dry) and don't feel you have to use all the water if the consistency looks like cookie dough. And I pop it in the freezer, so no worries if it looks too liquidly either.

cookie dough s'mores

  • place graham crackers on a small foil lined baking tray
  • heat the oven to 350 
  • layer on a scoop of cookie dough and then a few mini marshmallows
  • bake for 3 minutes, then turn oven to broil and bake for another 3, or until tops of marshmallows have browned
  • put 'em together and enjoy

And quick s'more in the oven? Just break out a small skillet or oven safe dish!
  • pre-heat oven to 350
  • spray pan or dish with cooking spray
  • take melted chocolate chips and layer on the bottom of pan (technique below)
  • place marshmallows on top
  • pop into the oven for 5 minutes
  • turn the oven up to broil and let cook for another 3 minutes, or until the marshmallows are browned
  • dip graham cracker in and enjoy!

melting chocolate in the microwave
  • place in a microwave safe bowl with a splash of milk or cream
  • let cook in micro for 10 seconds, remove and stir
  • let cook another 15 seconds, remove and stir
  • repeat in 10-15 second intervals, stirring in between, until chocolate is silky smooth and melted
I hope you guys enjoyed my sweet take on Friday tips and enjoy the weekend!

Friday, September 4, 2015

new title and more changes to come!

I am hard at work pulling this blog through a bunch of changes and the first is a new name!

As much as I love the idea of creating crave-worthy dishes (and still will!) I wanted a blog that represents me and a wider option of ideas...not just recipes but some of the cooking tips and tricks I have been sharing, organizing ideas, decor and how I keep myself sane...basically my regular life.

Biscotti is an italian cookie...that is delicious. And I will teach myself to make. But its also the nickname I got from one of my best friends in college who was too lazy to spell my long last name...

Hope you guys like the changes and keep your eyes peeled for more!

friday tips

Happy Friday everyone! Hope everyone enjoyed my tips last week to stretch your herbs and avocado.

I have been brainstorming all week to decide what to share with you today…and the answer was staring me in the face, on my counter.

how to ripen a pineapple!
Well, my dad always swears by turning it upside down. I have no proof that there is actual science to back this up, but we always do it and have delicious pineapple. The idea is that this distributes the juices and it ripens evenly. Try it, and let me know what you think!

By the way, do you know how to select a ripe or just about to ripen pineapple? In the store, if you tug on a leaf and it comes off easily and cleanly, its ripe.  Also, smell it. Like most fruits, if it smells sweet and fragrant, you can bring it home and slice it right away! It shouldn’t feel too soft to the touch either.

easy veggie peeling clean-up
This one is super simple, but whenever I’m peeling something (like carrots or potatoes), I place a sheet of paper towel over my cutting board and peel onto that, or peel it directly into the garbage disposal. The paper towel provides the quickest clean up and I can easily move on to chopping and dicing.

Speaking of carrots, did you know you can eat the tops of them like an herb? If you are lucky enough to have a garden, or just grab some with beautiful, full tops at the farmers market or store, don’t be so quick to toss them. 

Rinse them off and chop them up like you would an herb and use them in salads, sauces…anything! Just beware that they have a slightly bitter taste to them, so sautéing would work too if that’s not your thing.
(thanks to chopped for clueing me into this, and the kitchn for corroborating the story.)

ugly fruit finds a new life
Did you hear about grocery stores in France that are givingup to a 30% discount on “ugly” fruit? It’s amazing how much produce is wasted each year in the US just because of the look of it.

Keep this in mind when you are picking fruits and veggies, especially ones that you will eventually peel. Even fruits like apples, peaches and tomatoes are absolutely fine if they have imperfections but don’t feel too soft. Its more about how the fruit feels to the touch and not how the skin looks :)

Enjoy the weekend everyone and send requests for cooking and kitchen tips my way!