Mini Guac Boats!

Everyone loves fresh Guac at parties, why not put it back in avocado half shells so each person can have their own serving?

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Don’t forget, if you have leftover guacamole you should add the avocado pit back into the mix and the push the Saran wrap all way down so it’s touching the guac. This prevents it from turning brown so quickly. Then you’ll have more to enjoy later! Olé!

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Coconut Curry Chickpeas and Cauliflower

Cauliflower and Chickpea Curry

Vegan delight!

We’ve recently been on a vegan kick, so hats off to this great recipe from the Quick Fix Vegan Cookbook.  This goes great with basmati rice, Doug’s favorite, and chai tea.

  • 1 tablespoon neutral vegetable oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, minced
  • 1 carrot, thinly sliced
  • 3 cups small cauliflower florets (from 1 small cauliflower)
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder or paste, or more 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1½ cups home-cooked chickpeas, or 1 can, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup frozen peas 1 (13-ounce) can unsweetened coconut milk
  • ½ teaspoon salt Freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, cover, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the carrot, cauliflower, and curry powder to taste. Add the tomatoes and broth, cover, and cook until the vegetables are softened, about 10 minutes. Stir in the chickpeas, peas, coconut milk, salt, and pepper to taste. Cook uncovered until the flavors are well blended and the mixture thickens slightly, about 10 minutes longer. Serve hot, with basmati rice & a splash of lime juice. Serves 4.

Recipe from Robertson, Robin (2011-10-04). Quick-Fix Vegan: Healthy Homestyle Meals in 30 Minutes or Less (Kindle Locations 975-982). Andrews McMeel Publishing LLC. Kindle Edition.

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Eat like a King! Broiled Lobster with Mediterranean Sides

Lobster tail, Asparagus, rice, tabouli, roasted garlic

Lobster Tail Feast!

If a picture is worth a thousand words, than surely a taste is worth a million. I didn’t grow up on lobster tail so I really didn’t know what to expect from this dish. It started because Fresh Market was having a sale on lobster tails for only $6 a piece.

Lobster tail, butter, salt, pepper, paprika, bread crumbs

Above: warm butter blended by hand with a fork, sea salt, paprika, bread crumbs, & fresh pepper. (Trust me, it’s fresh, even if I didn’t grow up on a pepper farm).

The recipe is really simple because most of the wow factor comes from the sheer fact that you are about to eat lobster. When we picked up the lobster tails, they were frozen. Let them thaw slowly in cold water over several hours. Don’t rush it or you break the cells down further and ruin the taste.

Split the lobster tail in half

Cut down the top of the tail, then grab it lengthwise and squeeze towards the bottom to open the shell further. This makes it easy to pull out the meat that’s inside. At first I had just reached in with my fingers and tried to pry it out the meat; and  while that did work, it turned out to be much more difficult.

By making a slit down the center, you can then fan out the meat and spread it over the top of the shell. This gives you a nice platform to add the butter, paprika and breadcrumbs.

The recipe I was following called for several tablespoons of softened butter. So I added a lot of butter… too much really. Lobster has such a sweet delicate taste of its own, that the gobs of butter almost masked the lobster altogether.  Lesson learned, next time I’m going to only use minimal butter and let the lobster speak for itself.

Once the tails are prepped,  pop them into the pre-heated over at 350 degrees for about 18-20 mins. The final color should not have anything translucent, it should all be a solid white.

The Accompaniments

Roasted garlic is a great ingredient to many recipes, but it can also double as a tasty side dish. Pull off as much of the dry garlic skin as possible, cut the top flat and sprinkle with olive oil and pepper, maybe a dash of salt. Then wrap them in tin foil, and place in oven for 20 minutes. Delicious!

Kendall made some fresh tabouli salad for a side. You can buy a pre-made tabouli salad mix that calls for only olive oil and water, but we recommend also adding your own fresh parsley, tomato, and lemon juice.

Next we roasted some asparagus with salt, pepper and Fustini’s Sage & Wild Mushrooms Olive Oil. Take care not to over-cook it, as it’s always better with a little crunch.

And finally we threw in some rice with italian herbs, olive oil and green olives on top.

Broiled lobster tail, rice, tabouli, asparagus, roasted garlic.

Lobster tail tastes like a million bucks, but isn’t too difficult to prepare at home.

This dish was fun to make, easy and well worth it! I have to say that this was one of my favorite dishes that we have made so far. It will definitely make the cut and will be something that we use to entertain guests with in the future!

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Crêpes!

In American culture, pancakes are a common tradition among families, churches, and pretty much any organization looking to attract kids. (Remember Breakfast with Santa?) And as good as pancakes are, it’s funny to me that crêpes, their delectable cousin, are so uncommon. After all, they’re just a tad thinner, and a tad more delicious. Perhaps people are intimidated by them because they seem harder to make? Or is it because they’re French and we can barely pronounce them? Maybe if we called them “Freedom Cakes” they would gain notoriety. 😉

All kidding aside, crêpes are really are easy to make, and you can do it at home. A good pan is really important to the process, and we’ve found that our cast iron skillet does a bang-up job!

Breakfast scramble crepe with lemon caper sauce & berries

We call this the Breakfast Scramble Crêpe. Add scrambled egg, ham, mozzarella, & a touch of fancy homemade lemon caper sauce & berries on the side.

Be sure that your skillet is nice and hot when you begin, and don’t be afraid to sacrifice a bit of batter for the first trial crêpe that soaks up any residual flavor on your conditioned skillet. Grease the skillet with a dab of butter so your crêpes won’t stick.

The trick is to pour just enough batter into the pan to cover the bottom. Then use the flat bottom of a measuring cup to smooth the batter out and around the pan. Once it has cooked through enough to flip, give it a toss and cook the other side just for a minute or two. Pop it out of the pan and add your favorite toppings. Remember, crêpes can be sweet or savory, so go wild!

Berries & Nutella Crepe

Nutella and berries make a simply divine treat!

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Bi-Bim-Bop Bowls

Any savory hacker worth his (or her) salt loves a good hearty bowl of Bi-Bim-Bop. This Bi-Bim-Bop will knock your socks off unless you cut back on your Sriracha, however this is not suggested.

So here is how I’m doing it. I begin with some cilantro lime rice like they serve at Chipotle.

Cilantro Lime Rice

Cilantro Lime Rice

That goes in the bottom of the bowl. Then I saute some meat (or tofu) and add some Veri-Teriyaki.

Sauce

The Sauces: Veri-Teriyaki and Sriracahhhhh!!

Once the meat is cooked, I add a little pepper oil and then toss in my stir-fry veggies. I like to use red and yellow peppers, zucchini, squash, mushrooms and onions. Add the mushrooms last so that they stay fresh and don’t give up their juices.

Assembly

Assembly

Once this is done, set it aside and get the pan real hot. Add a fair amount of oil and fry two eggs. You can serve the eggs anyway that you prefer. I like to do them over-easy. When the eggs are done, set them aside and begin to prepare your dish. Add rice to the bottom of the bowl, then add some shredded cabbage… Oh wait, what’s this???

Bi-Bim-Bop Cabbage Cup!

Bi-Bim-Bop Cabbage Cup!

Cabbage leaves are the EXACT same size as bowls? Forget the title of this post. No longer will it be Bi-Bim-Bop Bowls  It will now be called Bi-Bim-Bop Cabbage Cups!

Add your veggies and meat I often at this stage like to add a little more Veri-Teriyaki to the dish. Now place your fried eggs on everything and add some sliced avocado.

Rolling the goods

Rolling the goods

Garnish with a little Sriracha sauce (or a lot as I prefer). Serve with a smile and enjoy with great company!

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Everything is Better with Bacon. Even Pork!

Bacon-wrapped Pork Tenderloin

Bacon-wrapped Pork Tenderloin

All it takes is one thick slice of bacon and some savory herbs to give your pork chop all the flavor you could ask for. And the searing/baking method of cooking it locks in all the juices so you’re sure to have a tender, juicy piece of pork.

Begin with a very thick (1/2 lb) pork chop and salt one side. On the other side, dip the pork chop in Italian bread dipping seasoning. Wrap the pork chop in a strip of bacon, and pin on with toothpicks. Roll the bacon in crushed pepper, and pan-sear the bacon on each side.

Bake the pork chop for 25 minutes at 350 degrees. Be sure to make sure the internal temperature of the meat reaches 140 degrees.

Serve over a smear of cream cheese with slices of fresh green onions. Asparagus and baked potatoes with dill are great traditional sides, but the red grape slices added a nice bit of sweetness to balance everything out!

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Pizza Crust – The Stuff Dreams Are Made of

Pizza on a PaddleIt seems that making pizza at home has become commonplace. After all, you can buy pizza sauce in a jar, throw on some mozzarella, pepperonis, and your other fav toppings and boom you’re done! Oh wait, there’s that one pesky ingredient called the crust, that is oh-so-difficult. Plenty of easy substitutions have cropped up, like Pillsbury rolls dough in a can or Boboli. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes these options are quick, easy, and yummy enough to get by. But what if you could have *real* crust at home? Just like they make in the pizzeria down the street? Trust me, it’s even better than Di’Giorno.

Doug has been working on the perfect crust for about a year now. We’ve had pizza on the grill and pizza from the oven, but both require one important point: high heat. If you crank up your oven to about 500 degrees, it guarantees the crust will crisp and puff just the right way, rather than getting soggy and sad.

Our other recommendation is to find yourself a good pizza stone, and even a wooden pizza paddle if you can splurge a little. We found ours on Amazon. If you own a paddle, you can preheat the pizza stone inside the oven while you work on the dough.

When making the dough, add your flour into a big bowl, and make a well in the middle. Add 1 tsp of sugar (a buffet for yeast) and 1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast. You definitely don’t want to skimp here; poor quality yeast will disappoint you every time. Then add 1 cup of hot water from the tap, about 110 degrees. Cover the bowl with a towel, and give it about 15 minutes to gorge on the sugar water. THEN begin stirring the water/yeast mixture into the flour, until a stiff dough forms. Then begin the kneading process (we figured a video is easier to follow than photos!) Once you’ve thoroughly kneaded your dough, cover it with a towel again, and wait another 30 minutes. It should double in size.

Congrats! The hard part is over! You don’t actually need to toss it in the air like Doug, you can just roll it out. Be sure to throw some cornmeal under the dough before baking so it doesn’t stick to the surface. Top with sauce, cheese, and your favorite toppings, bake in preheated oven until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Bon appétit!

Makin' some serious dough.

Makin' some serious dough.

Mama Mia, Pizzeria!

This can take some practice, but isn't required. You can just roll it out if you aren't feeling daredevil with your dough.

Cornmeal keeps the dough from sticking to the stone

Cornmeal keeps the dough from sticking to the paddle. Your stone should be preheating in the oven. Use the paddle to shimmy the pizza onto the stone in the oven.

Pizza

Just look at that crust! Crispy, fluffy, divine.

You can make outstanding pizza from home!

You too can make outstanding pizza from home!

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Pesto Pepper Paninis

Peppers

Dice up Red Peppers and a few Pablano Peppers for a spicy kick

Red Peppers and Pablano Peppers in Balsamic

Marinate the peppers in balsamic vinegar and olive oil

Soon to be Panini: pesto, marinated peppers, and mozzarella

Soon to be Panini: pesto, marinated peppers, and mozzarella

Warm and cheesy! Fresh from the panini maker.

Warm and cheesy! Fresh from the panini maker.

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Baba Ganoush

Homegrown Eggplants

Homegrown Eggplants

Fresh Baba Ganoush with Mini Pitas

Fresh Baba Ganoush with Mini Pitas

We grabbed our recipe from http://www.dedemed.com. Our tip for this recipe is you can’t have too much garlic! We also added slightly less lemon juice. Baba Ganoush is a cousin to hummous, and I find that they pair well together right on the same mini pita or carrot stick. A great healthy snack!

Perfectly Timed Pork Stew

Perfectly Timed Pork Stew

Perfectly Timed Pork Stew

Pork Stew with Beef Broth Base

Pork:

  • Brown the pork in olive oil after coating in flour and herbs.
  • Set pork aside.

Soup:

  • Sweat the garlic, onion, carrots, celery in left over grease from the browning for 5 mins.
  • Add some dry wine and reduce.
  • When reduced, add the broth and pork to the sweating veggies.
  • After a 30 minute simmer, add leeks, pork, both sweet and russet potatoes, more carrots, and squash.
  • After another 30 minute simmer, add 1 TBSP of butter, and the remaining flour you used to coat the pork.
  • Stir for 5 mins and serve with some awesome bread from the Ann Arbor Food Co-Op.
  • Top with pepper and parmesan cheese.

*Hint: It’s better the second day.

Pork Stew

I love to add the bread and let it soak.

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