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Thursday, June 13, 2013

Meal Prep for the Week

Recently (okay since Dec. 2012), I've changed my lifestyle, the way I eat, and the nutrients that I put into my body by using some amazing products by Advocare. That being said, I've gotten into the habit of preparing my meals ahead of time which is really convenient because it eliminates the "what do I eat" stress. When everything is prepped and ready, it really helps you avoid making a bad decision when choosing a meal. It's  also very helpful for someone who has a busy lifestyle but wants to eat a home cooked meal while at work or heck, just to prep ahead of time and save an hour in their precious day.

I decided that I would use ground turkey as my main protein dish that I can incorporate into several other dishes or use with smaller side dishes.

My 5 dishes for the week were (because everything is better with a picture!):


Turkey Bolognese (minus the marinara). I've used this base in a pasta sauce once upon a time.

What you'll need:
Ground turkey
3 celery stick, chopped
Handful of shredded carrots
1 small onion, diced
Veggie Oil

To Prepare Ground Turkey:
-Heat a pot with a swirl of vegetable oil
-Drop in your diced onions and cook until fragrant and slightly translucent
-Add celery and shredded carrots
-Once your vegetables have cooked off, remove them from the heat (about 7 minutes)
-In the same pot, add ground turkey and cook thoroughly, adding vegetable mix about 5 minutes before completion
I chose to season my turkey with Kirkland no-salt organic seasoning, freshly ground black pepper, a pinch of sea salt and a pinch of chili flakes.

Once you have cooked the main ingredient, put it off to the side.


I chose to bake a green bell pepper half way, added the turkey mixture into each half, adding quinoa on top, a bit of parmesan cheese, and baking again. This is 2 days worth of lunch.

Stuffed Green Bell Pepper

5 prepped meals for the week!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Quick Breakfast or Snack: Yogurt Parfait

I've recently been reading about Chia seeds and how good they are for your health. So I went to Trader Joe's to pick up a pack and give it a try. Chia seeds are packed with nutrients and can assist in weight loss, so heck ya!



This is a great breakfast or snack idea. I used 0% plain Greek yogurt, added blueberries, about 1/2 tsp. of chia seeds, and sliced raw almonds. I didn't add any sweetener since I want to avoid added sugars, and the blueberries have a touch of sweetness so there ya go!


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Veggie Garden on the Move!

I'm so happy that Spring is in full effect because it has definitely been good to my garden! I had planted a variety of veggies back in early March and I transplanted the green beans, radishes, peppers (future blog post) and lettuce to an open area in my garden.

I was so excited to notice that the green beans sprouted so quickly. First I noticed small flowers, which grew into green beans. It's fun to go out and check on the veggies and see what has sprouted. I was able to pick at least a dozen of green beans in a week and a half. So cute!

Green Beans

Radishes

Green beans bush

Lettuce

Ta-daaa we have veggies!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Re Creo Supperclub 2.0

Oh the creators of Re Creo are a really special and caring group of people. I was lucky to have had a second chance to go to another fabulous dinner (and took my friend and chef, James Holmes). I was chatting with Jean, one of the talented chef's afterwards and I was telling him that after the two dinners, I left feeling more inspired and motivated to be better, to strive for more and to continue to be creative in my own way. He was so happy because that is one of the purposes of Re Creo, to create inspiration through food and community. 

So I'll let the pictures speak for themselves. Great job to the Re Creo team for yet another successful and wonderful dinner. This dinner was great, it was on a Sunday, it was still light out, the crowd felt relaxed, happy and super at ease. It's so awesome how you always make friends and find so much in common with the people that are congregated at the dinner table. 



Menu Board

Delicious entrees

Chicken Skin Nachos, Charred Guacamole, Chipotle Chocolate Salsa, Sweet Corn, Cilantro Aioli 


Mushroom Pate, Parmesan Beer Fritters, Baby Kale 



Vanilla Scented Scallops, Espresso Risotto, Radish Sprouts

Crispy Fried Soft Boiled Egg, Asian Greens, Crispy Shallots

Monkfish, Fennel Puree, Wine feta sauce

Braised Oxtails, Cashew Sauce, Aloo Sun Dried Potatoes, Butter-dipped Radishes

Sour Cream Ice Cream, Miso Butterscotch, Black Sesame Brittle

Goodies for the Road - Tiramisu Cookies 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Fresh Spaghetti with Clams and Mushrooms

This is a twist on the spaghetti and clams that I had when I went to Vegas and ate at Sinatra. This is a simple dish, easy to make and doesn't require rocket science. And when your cooking does require rocket science, then step away from the kitchen, no meal should require THAT much effort.

I started out by making fresh pasta, because what else would you expect of me? If you are too lazy to click (this would probably be me), here is the recipe for the pasta:

2 1/4 c. double 00 flour
3 eggs
Olive oil (reserve- add when/if you feel your dough is drying out)
Dash of salt

Create well in your flour, add some salt around the well, add your eggs, whisk together and incorporate your flour as you are whisking. Until you can whisk no more, roll up your sleeves and begin kneading away and incorporating all of the flour, as much as it'll let you. Add a little olive oil if you feel that your dough is drying out (this is dependent on climate, warmth of your prep area, etc...) and continue to knead until your arms feel funny (8 mins). Wrap your dough in saran wrap and let sit for 30 minutes. I've found the longer it sits, the silkier my pasta. Sounds pretty sexy, no? Okay, maybe yes.

For the clams and mushrooms and sauce I used the following ingredients:

Olive oil, enough to coat your skillet
1/2 bottle of white wine 
1/4 c. tomato paste
1 tbsp. chili flakes
5 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 bag of cremini mushroom (Trader Joe's brand)
1 can of clams (Trader Joe's brand)
Salt & Pepper to taste

In a large heated skillet, add olive oil and garlic, sautee until fragrant. Add the mushrooms, which I had drizzled with olive oil, sprinkled with salt and fresh black pepper earlier, and sautee until cooked down slightly. Open your clams, drain the water, take the clams to your cutting board and give them a rough chop a few times around, add to the skillet. Let garlic, mushrooms and clams cook for a few minutes. Add the white wine, tomato paste, chili flakes and let simmer together.

Separately, bring a small pot of salted water to boil, and cook off your spaghetti (or linguine if you'd like) and add the cooked pasta directly to the skillet. I like to have the pasta water in my sauce as well. Since I used fresh pasta, it took about 3 minutes to bring my pasta to a boil and to cook off. Incorporate your spaghetti into the sauce, clams and mushrooms and serve immediately. Of course, never serve without freshly grated parmesan cheese! And I could've added basil on top, if I had it. Next time, next time.



Monday, March 25, 2013

Veggie Garden - In Progress

I am so happy that Spring is here! I started prepping my veggie garden and am really hoping that this crop produces some great produce.

In the pots in the back I planted sweet basil and a variety of mild peppers. And in the tray from left to right I planted lettuce, radishes, and green beans. I also have a small square of tomatoes that are germinating right now but hopefully they'll be good to go by end of spring!

Can't wait to transplant these bad boys into the ground and watch them grow and heck, use them in my future recipes!



Friday, March 22, 2013

Spinach, Tomato, Quinoa and Black Bean Salad

I wanted to share a salad that I have been having for the past two weeks. I know, obsessed much right? But it's such a light and delicious salad that is perfect for lunch, to take to work, or to have as a side for dinner. I have been making different variations of this salad, and mixing it up with dressings. But today, I am featuring the salad with a orange and tahini dressing (dressing adapted from Use Real Butter.)

Feel free to add any protein to this salad, I'm sure it would taste just as delicious!

Ingredients for salad:
Cooked and chilled quinoa
Spinach
Cherry tomatoes
Cooked and chilled Black beans

Ingredients for dressing:
1 orange, squeezed
3 tbsp. tahini
Fresh pepper, to your liking
1 tsp. lemon juice
*Whisk ingredients together and chill in the refrigerator until ready for use. I make a small batch and keep it in the fridge for the week.


I made this salad this morning, took all but 5 minutes to gather my ingredients, put it together and pack it in my bag!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Chocolate Avocado Mousse

If you need a quick dessert (heck! SNACK!) to whip up on short notice, this is your dessert er snack.

Ingredients:
4 avocados, ripe
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup agave syrup

Remove seed from avocado and toss each half into the food processor (I've tried it before in a blender and found it harder to scoop out the mousse and didn't receive a super smooth consistency), along with the cocoa powder and agave. . Blend until all avocado and cocoa powder is incorporated. Usually, I will let it spin for 2 mins, stop, use my rubber spatula to incorporate the mousse, and repeat twice until everything is incorporated.

I can't remember where I originally got this recipe from, but I did check out Giada De Laurentiis's recipe and felt that it was super rich, so I altered the recipe to be what I remembered previously.

Refrigerate for 20 mins. Serve in small bowls as this packs flavor!


Monday, March 18, 2013

Homemade Wheat Waffles

I love waffles. They are my favorite breakfast item, and I really love Belgian waffles, but I don't have a Belgian waffle maker... so anywho! For a person who loves waffles, I certainly don't use my waffle maker as often as I should. So I decided to pull it out and make use of the wheat flour I had when I attempted to make wheat pasta (wasn't my favorite pasta creation).

Ingredients for batter:
1 1/2 c. wheat flour (I used the Trader Joes brand)
1 tbsp. agave syrup (or maple syrup, I had agave on hand)
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tbsp. sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 c. almond milk (you can use regular milk also)
5 tbsp. melted butter

Mix your dry ingredients together (flour, baking powder, sugar). Mix your wet ingredients together (agave syrup, egg, milk, butter). Slowly combine your dry ingredients into your wet ingredients by whisking the two together. You can use a mixer, I just used a whisk to avoid the additional clean up (let's keep it real, and efficient people!).

Once you have a nice consistent batter, heat up your waffle maker and once ready, use a 1 cup measuring cup to scoop your batter onto your waffle maker. It should take about 7-8 minutes for the waffle to be cooked and well done. You can choose to monitor it closer if you like a soft waffle, but I like em crispy.

I chose to top my waffle with blueberries, butter and lite syrup. 


Making waffles from scratch is so easy (and cost effective!), why would you want to buy a frozen product? That way you can control the amount of additives that are in the waffles themselves and eliminate anything that has to do with preservatives. If you have children, you can have them help in the kitchen (even if its just adding the blueberries on top!). 

Eating "healthy" is a lifestyle change, and this is a great way to start! Making food from scratch.


Friday, March 8, 2013

The Pasta Queen on Facebook

I have been exchanging Facebook messages with The Pasta Queen on Facebook a few weeks back and she gave me the push to make the Squid Ink Pasta. Well, she so graciously shared my story on her Facebook page and posted a picture that I provided. Yay :)


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Fresh Homemade Squid Ink Linguine with Shrimp Wine Sauce

So I have been interested in venturing away from just regular pasta. I wanted to try squid ink pasta, from scratch. I had this once at a restaurant and thought it was super delicious and I wanted to make it on my own. With encouragement from friends and family, I made my way over to the Italian deli to purchase the squid ink packets and double zero flour. I could've ordered it online, but why wait for shipping!? I'm impatient like that.

Recipe for Pasta w/ Squid ink:
2 1/4 c. Double 00 flour
3 eggs
Pinch of salt
1/2 tbsp. olive oil as needed
1 tbsp. squid ink
Dash of water if needed



Rolled out sheet of squid ink pasta

Running through the cutters


Hanging out on the drying rack

I also made a shrimp with white wine sauce to go with the linguine.

Recipe for shrimp w/ white wine sauce:
1.5 lbs. peeled and devined shrimp 
1/2 c. white wine
Salt and Pepper to taste
1/2 lemon
1/ 2 tsp. lemon zest
5 garlic cloves, diced
1/2 tsp. chili flakes
3 turns olive oil
3 tbsp. butter
1 jalapeno, diced
1/4 c. tomato paste

Peel and devine your shrimp, I get mine from the fish market already devined, but I go through the shrimp, peel and cut down the spine to ensure vein's have been removed. I season the shrimp with sea salt and cracked black pepper and set that aside.

Heat up skillet, add olive oil, butter, and garlic and jalapenos. Let garlic simmer in sauce. Then add white wine and shrimp. Season shrimp again with salt and cracked black pepper. 

(At this point, bring a pot of water to boil and add pasta to cook al dente)

Let shrimp turn pink and go ahead and add about 1/4 c. of tomato paste. As your sauce is simmering, and shrimp has cooked through completely, drop in your pasta and incorporate into shrimp and sauce. I don't drain my pasta, I just use tongs to transfer from pot to skillet. The pasta water will add to the existing sauce that you are cooking. 

Shrimp getting pink in wine, butter, olive oil and garlicky goodness


Ta-Da! Garnish with some chopped flat leaf pasta and a dash of lemon juice

This dish took about 15 minutes to cook, very simple and an easy-to-do during the week! And you guys, double 00 flour? This is the right stuff to be using!!! The difference between double zero and all-purpose flour is like night and day. The pasta came out so perfect and silky smooth, it was unbelievable.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Re Creo Supperclub

So I'm trying to find the words to describe how great this experience was but I'm at a loss! This new Re Creo supperclub is an fantastic idea. It starts with being greeted at the Chef's home, Jean and Tinh were our wonderful chefs, Alex was part of the team as a server, Chris was a great host. My friend Ginny and I went together, all that was asked is that we bring along a bottle of wine, and at the end of the meal, there are donation envelopes in which you can leave a tip/donation for the evening.

I really hope these underground dinners take off, because honestly, when will you find yourself at a dinner table with people that you would probably never envision sitting with, ever!? Yeah, that's what I thought. I'll let the pictures speak for themselves, because honestly, they do speak for themselves. I think about every bite I took when I look at the pictures again and how wonderful everything tasted. Each dish was thought out, and you could tell that it was prepared and made with intent.

Thank you Re Creo for an amazing evening and for letting me borrow the pork belly and dessert pictures, since I so gracefully effing forgot to take the pictures!


Menu board

Ceviche Chiclayano - Delicious white fish with "popcorn" and piece of corn from the cob.

"Sushi" - Nothing sushi like about this plate. Mostly vegan. Starting at the top, mushroom, in the middle, watermelon, towards the bottom, avocado.

Salmon Gravlax - Beets 3 way with a horseradish cream. 

 Cozy egg squid ink raviolo, roasted peppers, chicharron. You guys, I don't voluntarily eat eggs. I've never eaten a hard boiled egg in my life and I promise you, I will never ever do that. BUT this cozy ass egg that was in my ravioli? AMAZING! It didn't even taste like egg, way to sneak up on me Jean and Tinh. You get props for sneaking eggs in like that.

Mushroom guinness pie, rosemary creme fraiche. Yummy, hearty goodness!

Cioppino - Spicy, delicious, seafood. Oh yeah, give me more baby.

Roasted Pork Belly, sweet fennel mint chimichurri - Delicious goodness. The little green garnishes? Seriously, that knocked the dish out of the park.

Baked Hawaiian mango, pineapple sauce - Holy Mother of All Things Fabulous. Party.In.Your.Mouth.


They also provided us with little treats to take home, and you would NEVER guess what these little delights were... Bacon Fat Gingersnaps! Holy balls of fire! AMAZING!

Thank you Re Creo! I cannot wait to join you at the next event, it'll be an honor! Xo!

Don't forget to stop by Re Creo on Facebook and 'Like' their page! That way you can stay in the know about upcoming events and dinners.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Tipo "00" Flour and Squid Ink (Nero di Seppia)

I finally made the trek over to the Italian deli that is about 10 miles from my house to get my hands on some 00 flour! I know, how was I making fresh pasta without 00 flour!? I have no idea but I seriously cannot wait to give this a try. There is a misconception that Tipo 00 is for pizza, but this is definitely the type of flour to be used for fresh pasta, it has the lowest gluten index.


I also bought squid ink! I am beyond excited to try this to make fresh squid ink pasta. Oh, it's glorious, and yes, it is black pasta! Best used with seafood dishes, since it is squid ink - which comes from squid (duh!?). Basically, when the squidy feels that it is being preyed on, it shoots out the black ink to confuse the other specie. It's a defense mechanism. 


Look out for some new blog posts featuring the double zero flour and squid ink!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Wheat Pasta with Pesto and Tilapia

Since I had left over pesto from last week (still good!) I wanted to make sure I got made good use out of my basic but awesome creation. My sweet mom had made tilapia fish fillets for dinner (sauteed in a skillet) before I got home from work and I needed something else to accompany the tilapia.

I had some wheat pasta that I had frozen and was nearing its shelf life, so I let it defrost while I brought a small pot of water to boil. The thing I love about fresh pasta is that defrosting it is never painful and it doesn't take too long. Once my water came to a boil, I dropped in my pasta for about 5 minutes, I let it cook a bit longer since it was still somewhat frozen (so impatient!).

Once it was ready, I took 2 big tablespoons of pesto and added it to a bowl with 3 tablespoons of pasta water, chili flakes, and cracked black pepper. I gave it a quick mix, and added my pasta (already drained) to the mixture and tossed. Once coated, I transferred it to a plate, and added my tilapia and voila!

*Wish I took a better pix!* 

Monday, February 25, 2013

Fresh Ravioli with Mushroom Filling

I was wandering around Sur la Table and I (naturally) found myself in the pasta section where I was greeted by ravioli cutters, drying racks and pasta machines. It was almost like candy land! I was excited, to say the least.

I figured since I have had many experiences making cut pasta, it was time to step it up a notch and venture into ravioli land. I've seen it done in a few YouTube videos while doing research and learning. So I figured now is the time! I first grabbed a hand held ravioli cutter and examined it a bit until my eyes wandered and landed on a ravioli tray. I took a look at the tray and figured it'd be better to have a "template" for uniform, perfect ravs! I ended up purchasing the Round Italian Ravioli Maker with Rolling Pin. Oh and the pasta drying rack (eeeek!!!). I'm sure you'll see it pop up in future posts, this is a sturdy rack, unlike the others I have come across that seem flimsy.


Let's get started on the ravioli's shall we!? 


Ingredients:

Mushroom filling:

2 c. Portobello mushrooms, coarsely chopped
6 garlic cloves, diced
1/4 c. italian flat parsley
1 tsp. salt; 3 turns of freshly ground pepper
Dash of freshly ground nutmeg
Pinch of lemon zest
1 c. ricotta cheese
3 tbsp. olive oil

In a large, heated skillet, add olive oil and give it a swirl in your skillet. Add garlic and mushrooms, let cook for 3-4 mins stirring occasionally. Once mushrooms have cooked down slightly, add parsley, salt, and black pepper and incorporate. Remove the skillet from the heat and add freshly ground nutmeg and lemon zest. Transfer the mushrooms to a separate bowl and let cool.

Once the mushrooms have cooled for about 10-15 minutes, go ahead and add ricotta cheese and mix. Your filling is ready!

Fresh Pasta:

2 1/4 c. flour
3 eggs
3 tbsp. olive oil (add when you feel your dough is drying out)

Go ahead and have two sheets of pasta ready for a tray of raviolis, which will yield a dozen per tray.


Lay one sheet down, and fill the rounds with your mushroom and ricotta filling. I used a teaspoon to fill the holes. Once I had the filling in, I tapped it down slightly with my finger to make sure it reached the bottom and filled the area.


Lay the second sheet on top of the filled rounds and get a rolling pin and roll down the sheet until the second sheet is firmly pressed down and you can see that the jagged edges have punctured the dough.  


Flip the tray upside down and give a little tap and the ravioli's should fall right out!


I made a total of 54 ravioli's, which is about 4.5 dozen. It took me about two hours from start to finish. Whew!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Fresh Pesto

Whenever I think of Pesto, I think of F.R.I.E.N.D.S and Pheobe saying, "Would you say your pesto is the best-o?" Awesome scene

So let's get back to basics, considering I never really started with the basics, hehe.

In another post you'll see that I made mushroom filled raviolis and they'll be topped with some pesto.

Ingredients:

2 c. basil
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 c. pine nuts
1/2 c. olive oil, divided
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Instructions:

Using your food processor - add in the basil, garlic and pine nuts and blend together. Drizzle in 1/4 c. of olive oil and let the processor continue to incorporate and blend the pesto until smooth. This should take a maximum of 3 minutes to complete.

When you are done, scrape the pesto into a bowl or pyrex container, like I did and drizzle the remainder of the olive oil on top.

If you want to use your pesto immediately, pour the remainder of the olive oil and stir in parmesan cheese (1/2 c).

(Note: My pyrex container holds about 2 cups, so this recipe should yield about 1.5 cups).