Friday, March 13, 2009

midweek dericiousness

(sorry, kids...i've been slacking on the blogging. i know, i know. i'll be better, i promise!)

i was very disappointed to learn that there was no new lost this past week, but this was NO reason to not have a delicious midweek meal. jim was coming over for dinner, so it of course had to be something uber healthy. kiran was eating too, though, so it had to be something deceptively healthy. my solution?

turkey burger paninis & grilled asparagus
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 1/4 lb ground turkey (i used 99% lean for jimbo)
1/2 cup chopped artichoke hearts
1/4 cup chopped sundried tomatoes
2 tbsp dijon mustard
1 whole garlic loaf (or any loaf of bread), sliced into 16 slices
8 slices muenster cheese, each slice cut in half
1 bunch asparagus
4 tbsp olive oil
nonstick spray
1 lemon

put 2 tbsp of olive oil in a saute pan over medium low heat. warm the oil for a minute, then place the onion in the pan. sweat them and toss around in the pan occasionally until all the slices are covered in the oil, then pop a tightly fitting lid on it and lower the flame. allow it to caramelize while preparing the turkey meat, checking on it occasionally and stirring. when the onions are soft and a light brownish color (about 15 minutes), add the balsamic vinegar and pepper to taste and stir into the onions. set aside.

preheat a grill pan over a medium high flame. combine the turkey meat, artichoke hearts, sundried tomatoes, dijon mustard, and some salt & pepper. score the meat with your hand into 4 equal sections, then divide each section into 2 for 8 small patties. spray your grill pan with nonstick spray. form each patty to fit the shape of your sliced loaf and place on the grill. since they are small, they will only take about 2 minutes per side. in the meantime, set up an assembly line with your slices of bread, cheese on each piece and caramelized onion on each sandwich. once the turkey patties are cooked through, your assembly should look like this:

1/2 slice muenster cheese
caramelized onion
turkey patty
1/2 slice muenster cheese

use one side of the grill pan to grill and press the sandwiches to melt the cheese and toast the bread while you prepare the asparagus on the other side (or use a panini press and use the grill for the asparagus). the bread should have nice grill marks on both sides and the cheese should be slightly melty to bind the whole sandwich together.

while you're grilling the sandwiches, prepare the asparagus. toss with the remaining olive oil, salt and pepper and throw them on the grill for about 5-6 minutes while you grill the sandwiches on one half. when they're done grilling, squeeze the lemon juice on top and there you go...the perfect side dish to a healthy sandwich!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

man, risotto is needy

there are many things that i have yet to make. most of these things are either labor intensive or take way too long. examples: a whole turkey, fresh pasta, and until last night, risotto.

i bought a pack of arborio rice at the store about a month ago, thinking that i would take a stab at it one night when i had some extra time. unfortunately, i didn't get that extra time until a month after it was purchased, but no matter. it was all good. i still had some leftover homemade stock, so i decided that this would be a great way to use it. since i'm still on my "don't be a fatass" plan, i was looking for a way to make it with minimal amounts of (read: no) cheese. also, i didn't have any cheese left in my place and was too lazy to go to the store to get any.

surprisingly, the risotto didn't even need the cheese! it still turned out super creamy and delicious. i added lots of pepper and some lemon juice to cut the extra richness of it and came up with something that i will definitely make again. it's even healthy, so you don't have to feel guilty eating it! guilt free risotto - i think my life is complete. if you decide to make this (which i recommend), just make sure you have a good book to read while you're stirring, because you will be hovering above your stove for at least 30 minutes making sure your risotto is cooked just right. (it sounds like a nightmare boyfriend.)

i've named this risotto in honor of the book i was reading:

harry potter's risotto of secrets (and by secrets, i mean it has no cheese!!!)
4-6 cups chicken stock
2 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup of arborio rice
1 bundle of asparagus, tough stems removed and chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
1 can of artichoke hearts, chopped
2 carrots, shredded
1 lemon
salt & pepper

pour the stock into a pot and bring it up to a low simmer. keep it heated throughout the process, but don't let it go crazy boiling.

in a deep pan (i used my deep skillet), heat the olive oil over medium-low heat. add the garlic and onions and sweat them, being careful so they don't start browning. if they do, knock back the heat. when the onions are translucent, add the rice and coat in the oil. cook for 1-2 minutes, until the rice is lightly toasted.

once the rice is toasted, add 1/2 a cup of the heated stock. stir the stock into the rice and continue stirring until the stock is absorbed. when all the liquid has been absorbed, add another 1/2 cup of stock and the asparagus. remember the stir the rice frequently. (if you don't...i'm not sure what will happen, but i bet it won't be as good as mine. so listen!) once the liquid is absorbed, add another 1/2 cup of stock. repeat until the risotto is a nice, creamy consistency. it will take between 30-45 minutes. about halfway through the process, add the artichoke hearts & season the mixture with salt & a good amount of pepper. when the risotto is about ready, add the carrots and zest & juice of the lemon. test the seasonings and see if it needs more salt & pepper.

enjoy the healthy, creamy goodness!!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

fiesta in a bowl!

our good friends asion and jason decided to take over heroes/dinner party night. asion made the one thing he says he makes well: cheesy chicken empanadas, courtesy of paula deen. jason, who never disappoints, made some awesome mushroom dip stuff. kiran made some bombin' 7 layer dip (actually, 6 layers because she omitted the beans). i was brainstorming at work (because i think about food ALL day) and realized that i still had a ton of homemade chicken stock to use up from my roasted chicken last week. what makes more sense that chicken tortilla soup? nothing, i say!

this was my first attempt at making chicken tortilla soup. i browsed a few recipes and this is what i came up with based on what i had in my kitchen on monday. it was slightly spicy with a nice consistency that was a bit thicker than broth (but not too much) and had the tasty sweet pop of corn and roasted red peppers going throughout the soup. sooooo good!

chicken tortilla soup
2 tbsp olive oil
3 chicken breasts, diced
1 medium onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeno, seeded & minced
1 tbsp chipotle chili powder
1 tbsp chili powder
2 tbsp cumin
2 tbsp coriander
2 tbsp tomato paste
6 cups chicken stock
1 28 oz can whole peeled tomatoes
1 cup corn (frozen or canned - i used frozen)
1 can black beans
1/2 cup roasted red peppers, chopped
crushed tortilla chips
chopped cilantro, chopped red onion, sour cream, cheddar cheese for garnish

heat the olive oil in a large soup pot. after a minute, add the diced chicken and brown. after about 5 minutes, add in the onion, garlic, and jalapeno and cook the veggies with the meat for about 4 minutes, until the onions start to get translucent. add in all the spices and the tomato paste and mix in until the spices and paste are fragrant (about 2 minutes). then add in the chicken stock and the tomatoes, with their juices. break the tomatoes apart with a wooden spoon in the pot. allow it to come up to a boil, then knock it back to a nice simmer. (SIMMA DOWN NOW!) add in the corn, black beans, and roasted red peppers. be sure to get all the starchy bean juices out of the can and into the pot as well. this will help the soup thicken up a little bit. simmer the soup for an additional 6-7 minutes.

put some crushed tortilla chips at the bottom of a bowl and ladle the soup on top. serve with any of the garnishes listed above, and you have yourself a mighty tasty bowl o' soup!


as you can see, it looks a little bit different around here. thanks, cmoore! in honor of the new look, i'm dedicating a song to her by one of my favorite groups ever - flight of the conchords!

this is for you, cmoore!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

chicken showdown

our monday night heroes sessions has turned into a weekly potluck party. with the addition of my friends asion and jason (chocolate!), we've been able to make our pre-heroes meal a scrump-diddly-upmtious spread. with so many people, i decided the easiest main course would be roast chicken. being the good korean girl i am, i made 2 roast chickens since running out of food is the worst thing that can happen in a host(ess)'s night.

zuni's style on the left, same-day prep on the right

for one of the chickens, i prepared it the same day - rinsed, dried, then rubbed down with oil and herbs. for the other chicken, i was excited to prepare it in a way i had read about on smitten kitchen. for this one, i had to season the chicken a couple days before and let it hang out in the fridge until monday, when i roasted it. between the two, the one i salted 2 days before was definitely tastier. the skin was super crisp and golden brown, and the meat was incredibly moist. on smitten kitchen, they advise you to use a smaller bird (3 to 3 1/2 lbs), but i used a 4 1/2 lb bird and it was fine (i just had to cook it a little bit longer). the same-day prep was still really good, but the clear winner in this battle of the pre-prepped (zuni style - that's the restaurant it came from) chicken. extra bonus? you don't need to use any additional oil in the zuni-style chicken, so all the flavor comes from the chicken itself. oh snap!

i've included simplified versions of each recipe below. super easy, i promise!

zuni's style chicken (2 days before prep)

zuni's style chicken (simplified)
1 roast chicken, between 3 1/2 - 4 1/2 lbs
salt & pepper
4 sprigs of rosemary
baby red potatoes

start your prep at least 2 days before you roast the bird. rinse the bird, inside and out, and dry it very well. this will probably be the part that takes you the longest because that bad boy likes to hide water all over the place. drying it well is extremely important in this preparation, so make sure you do it well!

after the bird is dried, season the outside all over with salt & pepper, seasoning the thicker parts of the bird more liberally than the skinny parts such as the ankles. season the cavity of the bird a bit, but you don't have to go crazy. take the sprigs of rosemary and put one each between the skin and meat of the bird on the thickest part of the thigh and on the breasts. to do this, just slip your finger between the skin and meat and loosen it so you can put the herb in. then cover the bird on a platter and stick it in the fridge.

on game day, take the chicken out of the fridge. preheat the oven to 475. over a medium flame, preheat a large skillet until it is nice and hot. dry the bird off again, then put into the skillet, breast side up. it should sizzle when you put it in. once it's in the pan, put it in the oven and let it go for about 25 minutes. it should be browning already. at this point, flip the bird over (it shouldn't stick if you preheated the skillet and dried the chicken) and put some potatoes in around the side of the skillet so they can roast in the chicken drippings. oooooh yeah.

let the chicken cook for another 30-35 minutes, until the leg moves easily when you wiggle it around. flip over the bird one more time during the last 5 minutes of cooking. take the chicken out and let it rest on a cutting board for 10-15 minutes before you cut it up. serve with the potatoes. YUUUUMMMM!!!

close-up of zuni's style chicken

same-day prep bird

procrastination bird (or same-day prepped bird)
1 roast chicken, between 3 1/2 - 4 1/2 lbs
salt & pepper
2-3 tbsp of olive oil
4 sprigs of rosemary, finely chopped
baby red potatoes
2 small onions (or 1 large onion), chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 lemon

preheat oven to 475. rinse the chicken, inside and out, and dry thoroughly. cut the lemon in half and squeeze the juice over the whole chicken. season the bird (inside and out) with salt and pepper and the chopped rosemary. drizzle the oil over the bird and rub it down.

put the juiced lemon halves inside the bird. stuff the bird with a mixture of the celery, carrots, and onions (as much will fit). you can scatter the remainder in the bottom of a 9x13 baking pan along with the potatoes. nestle the chicken on top of the veggies and roast in the oven for about 25-30 minutes. flip the chicken over and roast an additional 25 minutes, then flip over for the last 5 minutes of cooking to re-crisp the skin. let the chicken rest for 10-15 minutes, then cut it up and serve with the roast veggies. oh yeeeeeeah.

close-up of same-day prep

oscar night and tacos!

a few weeks ago, my friends sarah and tony decided to invite themselves over to my place for the oscars. i had also made a promise to my friend travis that i would invite him over for tacos at some point, so i decided to kill two birds with one stone and have a small oscars get-together with tacos! sarah and tony thought ahead and brought oscar ballots so we could play along. unfortunately, most of us got our asses handed to us by leila, who predicted the majority of the oscar winners correctly. [sidenote: how awesome was hugh jackman? give me him in a tux (or wolverine gear) any day. mmmm hmmmmm. okay, moving on...]

my goal was to make dericious (yes, i'm spelling it like that - it's so much more fun to say!) and healthy tacos. i think it turned out pretty well, and it gave me an excuse to make my guac again. :)

errrca's award winning (someday) tacos - ayayayayaya!!!

2 lbs. ground turkey
1 yellow onion, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 jalapenos, seeded & finely chopped
1 tsp crushed red pepper
1 yellow squash, finely diced
1 zucchini, finely diced
1 bell pepper, finely diced (any color works)
1 tbsp chipotle chili powder
1 tbsp chili powder
1/2 tbsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp coriander
1 tsp cinnamon
couple pinches cayenne
1 tbsp honey
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
salt & pepper
2 tbsp olive oil

6 avocados
4 roma tomatoes, chopped
1/2 red onion, finely diced
4 limes
1 cup sour cream
corn tortillas
shredded sharp cheddar cheese

preheat the oven to 400. heat up the olive oil in a large deep skillet. when the oil is hot, add the ground turkey, breaking it up with a wooden spoon. while the turkey is browning, you can make the guacamole. combine the avocados, tomatoes, red onion, half the jalapeno, juice of 3 limes, and half the cilantro. mash everything together, leaving it a bit chunky (i use my hand, but that's because i like playing with my food). salt & pepper to taste.

when the meat is browned, add the yellow onion, garlic, the remainder of the jalapeno, and crushed red pepper. stir and cook for a few minutes, then add the squash, zucchini, and bell pepper. cook for another few minutes until they just start to get tender. then add all the spices (chipotle chili powder through cayenne) and stir into the meat mixture. cook for another 2-3 minutes so the spices get distributed through the mixture. then add the honey and the chicken stock and allow to simmer until the liquid has mostly evaporated.

while the turkey mixture is working, combine the sour cream, juice of 1 lime, pinch of cumin, and a small handful of the cilantro. mix together and set aside. wrap the tortillas in foil and put in the oven to warm.

when the stock in the turkey mixture is mostly evaporated, fold the remainder of the cilantro in. serve the tacos with the warmed tortillas, meat, sour cream mixture, cheese, salsa, and guacamole.


Friday, February 20, 2009

protein overload

in an effort to make the most of my dieting nonsense, i've been incorporating more protein into my daily caloric intake. i've come across a goldmine that's helping me accomplish this:

[enter SHIRATAKI NOODLES] (cue heaven music)

these bad boys are made from soybean and yams. they're only 40 calories per serving and can be used as a substitute for regular noodles in just about any dish. that includes stir-fries, pasta name it! i ended up making the most protein-licious dish ever with these.

protein-o-rama stir-fry

16 oz. shirataki noodles, fettucine style
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp sriracha (or more; i like it spicy!) - i call this cock sauce, but it's the asian hot sauce with a green top
1 block firm tofu, chopped into 1/2 inch cubes
1 tsp crushed red pepper
1 inch ginger, grated
3 garlic cloves, grated or minced
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 cup broccoli, cut into florets
1/2 cup frozen corn

in a large, deep nonstick pan or wok, heat up the vegetable oil over high heat. while the oil is heating, drain the noodles in a colander and rinse with hot water. allow it to drain while you're preparing the rest of the dish. when the oil is hot, carefully put in the tofu in a single layer. do not disturb the tofu for at least 2 minutes - allow it to develop the oh-sooo-yummy golden crust. it generally takes about 5-7 minutes to get most of the sides nice and golden brown.

while the tofu is cooking, make your sauce. mix together the peanut butter, soy sauce, sesame oil, and sriracha until combined. set aside.

when the tofu is golden on most sides, put in the crushed red pepper, garlic, and ginger. increase the flame to high again. cook for a minute. put in the onions and peppers and move them toward the bottom of the pan. allow them to sit undisturbed for a minute so they caramelize. put in the rest of the veggies and stir frequently. cook the veggies for about 2-3 minutes, then add the drained noodles. cook the noodles for a minute, then turn off the heat and add the peanut sauce. incorporate the sauce through the noodles and veggies thoroughly. serve and feel buff!

*update: i've been told that this is actually a vegan dish! look at how inclusive i am.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


monday nights bring two great things: heroes and mac & cheese throwdown! cmoore makes some of the best mac & cheese i've had. this is partially due to the copious amounts of butter and cheese. unfortunately, that doesn't fit very well into my "don't be a fatass" diet. my goal for this throwdown was to make a tasty mac & cheese, but without the artery clogging side effects.

result? i think i did pretty darn well. i added some protein (diced grilled chicken), and lightened up the base of the sauce with 1/2 chicken stock instead of using all milk/cream. to go along with the mac & cheese, i made some green beans so we wouldn't feel so bad about eating such large amounts of cheese. i hope you like this meal as much as we did!

"don't be a fatass" mac & cheese (and green beans)

1 large boneless skinless chicken breast
1 lemon, juiced & zested
2 teaspoons rosemary, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, smashed plus 2 cloves, minced
2 tbsp olive oil, plus 2 tbsp for the sauce base
salt & pepper

1 lb. whole wheat elbow macaroni, or other short pasta (i only had semolina that day, so i just went with that)
1 tbsp butter
3 tbsp flour
1 onion, diced
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups 1% milk
3 tbsp dijon mustard
1 cup reduced fat extra sharp cheddar, plus 1/4 cup for sprinkling
1 cup provolone

for the green beans:
1 package green beans, trimmed (or you can trim them yourself if you're not lazy)
1 tbsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 lemon

butterfly the chicken breast. combine the lemon juice, zest, rosemary, smashed garlic, 2 tbsp olive, and salt & pepper (to taste) in a large ziploc bag. put the chicken breast in and let it marinate for 45 min. after the 45 minutes, bring a grill pan to high with a medium high flame. grill the chicken breast until it is cooked through (about 4 minutes on each side). allow the breast to rest (look, i rhymed!) for about 5 minutes. dice into small chunks.

preheat the broiler and bring a large pot of water up to a boil. when it gets to a rolling boil, salt it heavily and dump in the macaroni. cook until al dente. drain and set aside until cheese sauce is done.

to start the cheese sauce, add the butter and remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a deep ovenproof skillet. when it is melted, add the garlic and onions and allow it to sweat out. when the onions are translucent, sprinkle the flour in and cook for about a minute. then add the chicken stock and milk and allow it to thicken up a bit, for about 5-6 minutes. after the sauce base has thickened, add in the dijon mustard and tangy cheese. you can add more cheese if the sauce doesn't look thick enough, but you shouldn't need too much more than that. (remember, this is a "don't be a fatass" dish.) when the sauce is finished, add in the pasta and the diced chicken. mix it together well. sprinkle the extra 1/4 cup of cheese over the top and pop it under the broiler for about 3 minutes. bring it out and enjoy the yummy creamy goodness!!!

for the green beans:
using the same pot the pasta was cooked in, bring water up to a boil. add the green beans and cook for only 30 seconds, just to blanch them. drain them and put them immediately into an ice bath. heat up the 2 tbsp of olive oil and add the garlic. saute for a minute, then add the green beans to the pan. season with salt & pepper to taste and cook for about 5-6 minutes until the beans get slightly charred along some sides. take off the heat and squeeze the lemon juice over all the beans and toss. something healthy to make you feel not so bad about eating mac & cheese!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

not yo mama's tuna melt

my boyfriend/workout slavedriver has been lecturing me on eating more protein. i figured that the best way to do this was to add cheese and bread to it...hence, tuna melt!

i didn't want to have anything with mayo, so i decided to upgrade my tuna melt. instead of going the old school mayo route, i made my tuna a little fancier with capers and artichoke hearts. throw some provolone on that bad boy and butter it damn, that was a good sandwich!

not yo mama's tuna melt
1 can tuna, in water
1/4 small red onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp capers, drained
1/4 can artichoke hearts, drained & chopped
1/4 cup roasted red peppers, chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tbsp olive oil
salt & pepper

2 pieces of bread
1 slice provolone
1 slice mozzarella
1/2 tbsp butter (i used butter spray)

mix all the ingredients (tuna through olive oil) in a bowl. salt & pepper to taste. heat a small frying pan or griddle under medium heat. place the prepared tuna between the bread & cheese, using the cheese as glue for the bread to melt onto the tuna. spread the butter on both sides of the sandwich and place in the pan/griddle. cook until the sandwich is golden brown on both sides.

mmmmmm, tuna melt.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

weekend brunches rule

i woke up saturday morning and asked kiran what she wanted for breakfast: sweet or savory. after waffling between the two for 5 minutes, i finally made the decision for her and decided to make both! i had read a couple different recipes for egg crepes online and decided this would be a good time to try it out.

sweet or savory egg crepes

(this makes about 14-15 little crepes in a small frying pan)
3 eggs
6 tbsp water
cooking spray

for sweet:
5 tbsp granulated sugar
2 tbsp cinnamon

for savory:
filling from stuffed eggplants
shredded mozzarella

beat the eggs, water, and pinch of salt together. beat them well, until they are completely incorporated together. make sure the whites are fully mixed in. you may need to beat them while making the crepes if they start to separate.

heat a nonstick pan with medium heat. don't allow the pan to become scorching hot. spray the pan with the cooking spray before each crepe. take the pan off the heat and pour enough of the egg mixture to just coat the bottom of the pan. swirl the mixture around to coat the bottom in a thin layer with the eggs. allow to cook slowly over the medium heat. after it has solidified a little bit, carefully loosen the edges with a spatula. when the top of the egg layer looks set, shimmy the mixture in the pan and slide off onto a plate. repeat for as many times as needed to use up the remainder of the egg mixture. you may need to wipe out the pan after about 4-5 crepes.

you can them roll them up with whatever stuffing you choose. i stuffed some of them with the eggplant stuffing and shredded mozzarella and rolled them up. for the sweet ones, i mixed the cinnamon and sugar together (to make cinnamon sugar - who'da thunk it) and sprinkled it on the inside of the crepe and on top after it was rolled up. the cinnamon sugar ones were awesome because there was this great mix of salt and sweet in it.

a little labor intensive, but so good!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

i love the weekend!!!

is it just me, or did this week just drag on forever? i was SO happy that friday finally rolled around. not only is it a long weekend, but i had a bunch of produce to use up! my roommate kiran and i have lived together for almost 4 years now, and during that time, i have converted her to enjoying (working on loving) vegetables. she now buys random vegetables for me to cook for her. her choices this week? eggplant and asparagus. my friend cmoore came over for dinner too, so it became an awesome girls' night in (dessert included)!

girls' night in
stuffed eggplant, grilled asparagus, and roasted garlic shmear (drooling yet?)
dessert: nectarine-blueberry crumble

2 heads (whole) garlic, plus 2 cloves, chopped
olive oil

1 1/4 lb ground turkey
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
1 bunch asparagus, 3 stalks chopped, rest reserved whole
6 mushrooms, chopped
1/4 cup roasted red peppers, chopped
7-8 greek olives, chopped
2 carrots, grated
1 tbsp honey
1 large eggplant
1 lemon
1 french loaf

for the dessert:
3 nectarines, pitted & chopped
1 small pack of blueberries
1 1/2 cups instant oatmeal
2-3 tbsp butter, softened & chopped
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 dashes of cinnamon

preheat the oven to 400 degrees. take the 2 heads of garlic and chop off the top 1/4-1/2 inch of them so the cloves are exposed. put each head of garlic in foil and drizzle 1 tsp of olive oil over each head and wrap them individually. place on a baking sheet and put in the oven for 30-45 minutes until they are soft and buttery. when they are cool, squeeze them out into a small bowl and mash with a fork into a shmear.

while the garlic is cooking, cut the eggplant in half lengthwise. scoop out the insides of the eggplant, leaving a 1/4-1/2 inch of flesh on the skin. chop up the inside flesh of the eggplang. heat up 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large skillet. brown the ground turkey in the hot oil, breaking it up with a wooden spoon as it cooks. add in the chopped garlic and onions and allow to sweat out for a bit. then add in the peppers, chopped eggplant, asparagus, mushrooms, olives,
carrots, and honey. cook everything together until the mixture is all heated through. (at this point, i think i would have added a 14 oz can of tomato sauce, but i didn't have any on hand. next time!) fill the eggplant halves with the turkey mixture. (you'll have extra that you can use as leftovers...check out the next post.) place the halves on a baking sheet. drizzle olive oil and sprinkle salt & pepper over the eggplants and put into the oven for about 15 minutes.

heat a grill pan on medium high. toss the whole asparagus in olive oil, salt & pepper. place on the grill and cook for about 5-7 minutes, until it is grilled and cooked through.

split the french loaf in half and toast in the broiler. serve with the roasted garlic shmear.

when the eggplant is ready, cut into sections. squeeze lemon juice over the eggplant and grilled asparagus.

for the dessert, combine the nectarines and blueberries in 3 small, individual pyrex bowls with the cinnamon. in a separate bowl, combine the oats, brown sugar, and oatmeal. mix them with your fingers. portion out the oats over each pyrex bowl and place into a 450 degree oven. cook for about 15-20 minutes, until the oats are crispy and bubbling. serve with ice cream (if you have it). yeeeeeah. :)

Friday, February 13, 2009

nom nom...leftovers!

i was watching the rachael ray show the other day (yes, i dvr it and watch it - bite me), and she had a segment on a family that hates leftovers and refuses to eat them. first of all, if that had been me as a child (or that husband - shame on you!), i would've been smacked. second of all, i friggin' love leftovers! it basically becomes another ingredient for you to use in a dish.

as you may remember, i made a buttload of pot roast last week, and ended up with a lot o' extra meat. i also went out to eat at wood ranch that weekend (i <3 garlic rolls), and had a giant portion of roast chicken left over. what did i do with all this leftover meat? smother them in bbq sauce...ooooh yeah.

volv wants bbq...RAWR.

i started making my own bbq sauce last year as an experiment. it's become one of my new favorite things to experiment with! you can make it sweet, tangy, spicy...whatever your pleasure. here's (one of) my recipes:

it'll make ya feel better bbq sauce
1 1/2 cups ketchup
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp onion powder
1 tbsp ground mustard
1/2 tbsp cumin
1/2 tbsp ground coriander
1 pinch cayenne
1/2 tbsp brown sugar
2 oz (2 shots) of whiskey (that's what'll make you feel better)
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp worchestershire sauce

throw it all into a saucepan. mix and simmer.

while the bbq sauce was simmering, i sauteed up some mushrooms and onions in olive oil and threw in the leftover roasted chicken (shredded) and leftover pot roast (shreeded). i poured the bbq sauce over the whole thing and there it was: delicious leftover goodness. HOLLA!

Monday, February 9, 2009

rookie roast!

after my rugby team's AWESOME GAME where we won 59-0, i had a drink with the girls and ate some dinner, but all i could think about was my pot roast!! i had started it before the game and it had been cooking for about 10 hours in the slow cooker. let me just tell you: the meat was like butter. so good!

i had never cooked pot roast before, so i did some research online into different recipes for preparing it. i saw a lot of things i liked in different recipes, and eventually i decided to pull a couple things from each one and just see how it turned out. let me just say, in the words of RR (rachael ray), YUM-O!

erica's rookie pot roast

2 - 2 1/2 lbs. chuck roast (i used bone-in)
6 cloves of garlic, chopped
3 sprigs of rosemary, chopped
1 large onion (red or yellow), thinly sliced
2 large or 3 medium carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
12-15 large mushrooms, thickly sliced
2 bay leaves
2 tbsp ground mustard
1 cup white wine
1 cup chicken stock
3 cups water
extra-virgin olive oil (evoo)
kosher salt & pepper

combine the chopped garlic and rosemary on your cutting board and mince together. put a good teaspoon of kosher salt onto the mixture on your board and start pasting the garlic and rosemary with the side of your knife. once it has become pasty, preheat a large skillet on the oven with some evoo. using a paring knife, poke about 1 inch into the roast at random points on all sides. stuff the garlic-rosemary paste into these incisions. salt & pepper both sides of the roast generously. when the oil in the skillet is super hot, put the roast into it and brown the meat on all sides, allowing it to develop a nice brown crust.

after the meat is seared, put it into the bottom of the slow cookers. throw in the onions, carrots, mushrooms, ground mustard, and some salt & pepper. pour the wine, beef stock, and water into the slow cooker as well. put the slow cooker on the lowest setting and allow to cook overnight (about 8 hours). when it's done, it'll fall off the bone and melt in your mouth, i promise!!!

man, i'm hungry for some more pot roast now...

Saturday, February 7, 2009

it's friday...hooray!

fridays are awesome for a multitude of reasons.
1) it's the end of the work week.
2) in the spring, it means i have a rugby game the next day (and tomorrow it'll probably be in the rain!)
3) every other friday is my grocery shopping day!

i've made it a point to only go grocery shopping once every 2 weeks. the reason is that so many times i have all this food i buy that gets tucked away somewhere in the fridge or pantry and ends up going bad. what a waste of money! by only going to the store every other week (and no in between trips, unless it's a special occasion of some sort - i.e. superbowl), i've been saving money, actually eating all (or most) of the food that i purchase, and coming up with new recipes to use up whatever ingredients i have left. not a bad deal, in my opinion.

i always scour the ralphs weekly ad and decide what i'm going to buy based on their sales. i just got my ralphs reward packet for this month, and i received a $9 certificate...woohoo! i also had a bevy of coupons to use, so i was super stoked about that. this week, both beef flap meat and chuck roast were on sale. i'm making some pot roast in the slow cooker tonight (which i've never done), so i'll let you know how that turns out tomorrow. for tonight's dinner though, i thought i would make some awesome fajitas! i had never used flap meat before, so i looked at some different recipes online. it seemed like i could use it similarly to a flank steak, which is why i decided to make fajitas with it. my friends cmoore and melinski came over for our hot dinner date, complete with an on demand viewing of buffy the vampire slayer.

here is my new fajita recipe for you. BUT THAT'S NOT ALL!! i'm even going to share my guacamole recipe with you, which is the crown jewel of my party offerings. feel special, y'all.

friday fajitas!!! ole!!!
1 1/4 - 1 1/2 lbs beef flap meat (flank steak can be substituted)
3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded & chopped
1 bunch cilantro, 1/2 of the bunch chopped
1 lemon

3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp cumin
3 tbsp olive oil
salt & pepper

2 avocados
1 large roma tomato, chopped
1 large red onion, 1/4 of it finely diced, the
rest thinly sliced
1 green bell pepper, sliced
1 lime (i used lemon, but only because i still have 1/2 a treeful from karl)

8 whole wheat tortillas
shredded cheddar cheese
sour cream (optional)

combine the garlic cloves, 1/2 the jalapeno, 1/2 bunch of cilantro, and cumin in a blender. blend these ingredients together. add the juice of the lemon, vinegar, and olive oil with salt & pepper and blend again. put the marinade inside a gallon ziploc bag with the meat. put the meat in the fridge and let it hang out for 45 minutes.

while the meat is marinating, prepare your guacamole. in a bowl, combine the avocado, finely diced 1/4 of the red onion, the remainder of the jalapeno (finely diced), remainder of the chopped cilantro, chopped tomato, lime juice, and salt & pepper. mash all the ingredients together. (i like using my hands because i can still leave the guac chunky and avoid squishing all the tomatoes in the guac.) taste and adjust seasoning as needed. set aside.

preheat the oven to 300. before grilling the meat, pull it out of the fridge and let it take the chill off for about 5-10 minutes. heat a grill pan to screaming hot on high heat. place meat on the grill. DO NOT MOVE THE MEAT. let it get the yummy caramelization going. cook the steak for about 6-7 minutes per side for medium rare. after you take the meat off the grill, let it rest on the cutting board for about 5 minutes.

while the meat is cooking, wrap the tortillas in some foil and place in the oven to warm.

while the meat is resting, put the sliced red onions and bell peppers on the grill where the meat had been grilled. again, let the veggies sit for a bit to developed some nice grill marks and color. season with salt & pepper and grill until they look nice and charred. put into a bowl/platter.

after the meat has rested, slice the meat thinly against the grain so it doesn't end up chewy. mix in the meat with the peppers and onions. serve with the warmed tortillas, guacamole, salsa, sour cream, and cheese. OLE!!!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

laundry and soup

usually on a thursday night, i'd be rolling around in the dirt with my rugby girls, but it's raining in l.a. (gasp!), so practice was cancelled.  it's actually a blessing in disguise since my pile of laundry has gotten so massive that the pile on top of the basket is equal to the amount actually in the basket.  i haven't been able to find time to do laundry in 3 weeks!  no bueno.

since i actually got to have a night in, i decided to make the best meal ever on a rainy day: soup!!  i had a bunch of russet potatoes left over from last week (it was buy one, get one free for a 5 lb. bag!).  you know what that means...potato soup!

i gotta say, i love the slight spice of the curry with the tanginess of the lemon/sour cream.  when i initially seasoned the soup, i thought it was a bit salty and that it lacked some acidity.  now, what did i have with acidity in my kitchen....ah, yes: karl's million lemons from last weekend.  the lemon did just the trick!  i'll be freezing some of this and taking some for work tomorrow.  if i had it, i'd totally have some buttered sourdough toast with this...mmmm, butter.

curry potato soup
(serves 4-8, depending on how much deliciousness each person wants to consume)

2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
2-3 medium carrots, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 bay leaves
3 tbsp curry powder
1 1/2 tbsp ground coriander
1 tsp nutmeg
couple pinches cayenne
salt & pepper
6 cups chicken stock
4 russet potatoes, peeled & chopped
1 lemon, zest & juice
1/4 cup sour cream
2 scallions, chopped (for garnish)

in a soup pot, heat up the olive oil.  put in the onion, celery, carrots, garlic, and bay leaves.  salt & pepper the veggies.  after the veggies have sweat out a bit, put in all the spices and saute for a couple minutes.  then put in the potatoes and chicken stock.  put the heat up to medium-high and bring the soup up to a boil.  then knock back the heat to allow it to simmer until the potatoes are soft.  

while the veggies are simmering, mix 2 tsp of the lemon juice, zest, and sour cream together.  set aside.

when the potatoes are tender, take off the heat.  fish out the bay leaves.  using an immersion blender, blend all the veggies together until the soup is smooth.  add salt & pepper to taste.  stir remaining lemon juice through the soup.  

portion out the soup into bowls.  put a dollop of the lemon sour cream in the middle and sprinkle scallions over the soup.  serve and enjoy the awesomeness.

in case you don't already know...

i love rachael ray. say what you will about her; i don't care. i think she's a genuine, down-to-earth person who cooks like the average person does - making the most out of what they have and making some damn tasty meals while she's at it.

now she calls herself the "self-proclaimed queen of burgers," but i think i have a burger that will give her a run for her money. i actually entered her "hey, can you cook" contest with these bad boys. obviously, i didn't get on the show, or else you would see a picture of the two of us together beneath this. instead, i will show you my favorite picture of her:

but i digress. these mini-burgers are a party fave among my friends. hopefully, your friends will like them as well!

errrca's bombin' mini-burgers

1 1/4 - 1 1/2 lbs. ground sirloin
1 large onion; 1/4 of the onion finely chopped, the rest of it thinly sliced
3 cloves of garlic, chopped; one clove reserved
1/2 cup roasted red peppers, chopped; a small handful reserved
1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
10 basil leaves, sliced into ribbons
olive oil
salt & pepper

2 avocados
3 roma tomatoes
1 small log (5 oz) herbed goat cheese
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 lemon
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
16 mini burger buns or small dinner rolls

in a saute pan, coat the bottom with olive oil. let it warm up gently over medium heat. put the thinly sliced onion into the pan and let the onions start sweating out. make sure to keep moving the onions around so that they don't brown and get crispy on the pan. salt and pepper the onions to taste and when the onion looks pretty soft (after about 5-6 min), drop the heat back to low, put a tight-fitting lid on it, and let the onions soften up even more while you're preparing the rest of the burger. make sure to check on them occasionally and stir them around.

to make the aioli, combine the mayo, lemon juice, reserved red pepper, reserved chopped garlic, and pinch of salt & pepper in a blender. blend and voila! you have your roasted red pepper aioli.

heat a grill pan on high heat. put the ground sirloin into a bowl with the finely chopped onion, 2 cloves of chopped garlic, red pepper, basil, worcestershire sauce, and salt & pepper. mix the burger mixture together. pat the meat down to the bottom of the bowl in an even layer and score the meat into equal quarters. each quarter will yield 4 mini-burger patties. form mini-patties and get them onto the grill, which should be nice and hot by now. while forming the patties, use your thumb to make a slight imprint into the center of the burger before you place it on the grill so you don't get the "burger bulge" coming up out of the top of the burger. since these are pretty small, they'll only take a few minutes on each side to cook up.

wash up, then start slicing your tomatoes, avocados, and goat cheese to top the burger. [before slicing the goat cheese, pop it in the freezer for 10 minutes. i find it's easier this way since the cheese won't stick to your fingers as badly and makes it sturdier to slice through.]

your onions should be sweet, soft, and dericious by now. turn the heat off and add the balsamic vinegar. stir it into the onions.

lay out your burger buns on a tray or large serving platter. assemble the burgers. here is how i assemble mine:

top bun
caramelized onions
goat cheese
bottom bun

you'll never appreciate a regular slider again.


Wednesday, February 4, 2009

when karl gives you lemons...

...make food with lemons.

karl is my co-worker who hosted the superbowl party this past weekend (remember the 15 pounds of beef?). he also happens to have a lemon tree in his backyard and unloaded an entire grocery bag full of lemons to each and every person at the party. yes, that's a lot of lemons.

so what to do with all these lemons? well, i hate baking, so lemon dessert of any sort is out of the question. my boss once made homemade limoncello from a gaggle of lemons, but that just seems like too much work, AND i would have to wait 3 months to fully enjoy it. so instead, i will just try and incorporate lemon into everything meal that i make.

when i came home from rugby practice last night, i was rummaging through my fridge when i found chicken i had taken out of the freezer two days before to defrost. ruh roh. i decided to make a marinade and let the chicken wallow in it while i watched heroes from monday night. i also made some couscous to go alongside it and came up with a pretty tasty lunch for today (if i do say so myself). i'm sure i could make this fancier and whatnot, but i was just using whatever ingredients i had at home to work with. i wasn't about to go to the store at 10 pm after 2 hours of tackling and sprinting.

okay, here's the recipe:

l-l-l-lemony chicken and couscous

2 chicken breasts
2 lemons, zested and juiced - about 1/2 cup of lemon juice (these were super juicy lemons since they came from karl's tree, so you may need more than 2 if you get them from the store)
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp coriander
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup olive oil
healthy pinch salt
healthy pinch pepper

3/4 cup chicken stock
3/4 cup couscous
1/4 cup feta (any variety; i used a sundried tomato-basil feta)
1 lemon, juiced
2 scallions, chopped
salt & pepper, to taste

combine the marinade ingredients (lemon zest/juice through pepper) in a bowl. mix them all together. pour it into a gallon ziploc with the chicken breasts in there as well. make sure the marinade coats both breasts thoroughly. seal it up and put it in the fridge and let it hang out for 30-45 minutes (or however long it takes you to watch a dvr'd episode of [insert your favorite show here]).

after it's done marinating, get your chicken out from the fridge. get a grill pan nice and hot on medium-high heat. when it's heated, get your chicken on the grill. cook for about 6-7 on each side (i had some fat breasts, so they took a while*).

while the chicken is cooking, get the chicken stock into a small pot. bring to a boil, then put in the couscous and take the pot off the heat. let it sit for 5 minutes while the couscous cooks through. after it has poofed up to its magical goodness, put the feta, scallions, and lemon juice into the couscous, along with the salt and pepper. now, fluff; fluff, i say!! make sure all the ingredients get mixed through.

after you take the chicken off the grill, let it hang out on your cutting board for a bit so the juices redistribute and you don't lose all of the yummy goodness on your cutting board. slice those bad boys up and serve it with your freshly fluffed feta couscous.

3 lemons down, 24 more to go...

*that's what she said.

lean cuisine disaster

an impromptu celebration with the office on monday night made for a not-so-fun tuesday morning. in an effort to save money, i've been packing my lunch to work. however, packing lunch while hung over was not something that interested me in the least. i resorted to my emergency lunch stash: a lean cuisine.

i rarely buy lean cuisines, mostly because i would much rather cook my own food than just heat up something frozen. however, ralphs had them on sale for $1.50 each, so i decided that they would be good for emergencies. apparently, emergencies = hangovers in my book. anyway, i grabbed the lean cuisine and headed out the door.

in true hungover fashion, i couldn't stop eating all day. i gave in and heated up my lean cuisine pizza at 11:15 am.

first mistake: creamy alfredo sauce. i should never trust anything "creamy" in a frozen meal. second mistake: diet deep-dish pizza?? what was i thinking?

needless to say, the crust was flavorless (unless you count cardboard as a flavor), the sauce was weak and bland, and the only thing that made it tolerable was the copious amount of crushed red peppers i put on it and the need to shove every edible thing within arm's reach into my mouth.

lesson learned. lean cuisine, you will fool me no more!!!!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

MEAT. specifically, beef.

i love meat.  meat is awesome.  unfortunately, i'm on a "stop being a fatass" eating plan, so i've had to restrict the amount of beef that i consume on a regular basis.  that said, everyone needs a cheat day.  superbowl weekend was mine.  

the one thing that i'm probably known for in my office (besides my guacamole) is my korean bbq.  i started making it a few years ago after i made my mother teach me how to concoct the yummiest of all beef dishes.  luckily, it's also one of the easiest recipes ever.  you can use this marinade for any cut of beef you'd like, but if you want to go the traditional route, beef short ribs (sliced through the bone and pictured below) is your best friend.  this scrumptious goodness is kalbi.  the other popular type of meat is the thinly (and i mean THINLY) sliced sirloin, otherwise known as bulgogi.  i personally prefer the short ribs.  although they are messier to eat, the marbling from all the fat around the ribs makes it the meat oh-so-juicy and tender, especially when cooked on the grill.

me with a small part of the 15 lbs of superbowl meat (photo courtesy of my buddy tony)

alright, enough yapping.  here's the recipe:

korean bbq goodness
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup 7-up
1/4 cup sesame oil
chopped garlic, to taste
scallions, to taste
black pepper, to taste

2 lbs BEEF.

mix all the marinade ingredients (everything but the beef) in a large bowl of some sort.  then, dunk your meat in.  make sure every rib gets nice and saucy.  you can let the meat marinate in the fridge for up to two days (which i HIGHLY recommend), then crank up the grill and cook those babies up.

i'd actually recommend making extra marinade if you're going to let them chillax for a couple days so the beef has lots of tasty goodness to soak up.  

superbowl sunday ended up being pretty awesome.  we successfully consumed 15 lbs of korean bbq (there were 13 people there), and my co-worker's dogs had a field day with the bones.  between the beef and holmes' amazing touchdown, i was a happy gal, as was my tummy (named bartholomew).

Monday, February 2, 2009

i hope i don't suck at this

this post marks the beginning of my efforts to start food blogging. i'm sure there will be some personal posts dispersed throughout chronicling my ever-so-exciting life, so bear with me as i attempt to undo the bra of this blog in the dark.

hopefully, i'll be able to use this blog to share yummy recipes, failed attempts, and fun stories along the way.

here are a couple things you should know about me before we hop into blog-bed together:
1) i hate using the shift button. notice the lack of upper-case letters.
2) i've never taken a single cooking class in my life. anything that makes it onto this site is a result of food network, top chef, and my twisted little culinary mind.

so, here i go! enjoy the show...