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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Adventure Week: Eat Your Veggies: Crispy Chopped Salad

About a cup of dried Cranberries
About a cup of Pepitas
1 small block of Feta Cheese cubed
3 Celery Stalks chopped
1 Red Bell Pepper diced
3 Green Onions chopped
about half a head of Red Cabbage sliced
1 head of Romain chopped
3 small Cucumbers chopped

 The Dressing:
1 Tablespoon of Honey
1 Tablespoon of Apricot Jam
1/2 Teaspoon of chili powder
Zest of 1 Lime
Juice of the Lime
1/3 Cup of Rice Wine Vinegar
1/2 Teaspoon of Salt
1/2 Cup of Vegetable Oil
(this dressing is based off of my chili honey lime glaze for the salmon)

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Cod Cakes with Black Bean Sauce with Spicy Aioli

So, I have a lot of food allergies.... shellfish being one of them and "The Big Chief" (my hubby) LOVVVEESSS crab cakes.  Anytime, we are at restaurant that serves them he orders them.  So, I made up this recipe with The Big Chief in mind. I call him that because he is the chief of the fire department in our town.  Chicks love guys that run into fires or at least that's what my friend's husband told me.  I guess he's right.  Anyhow, I also have a major hankering for Mexican flavors.  So, I was inspired to create this healthy little dish that is great paired with a lovely glass of white wine, and if you really wanna do things right add some fresh raspberries to your glass and enjoy some dark chocolate for dessert.

What you will need to make this dish:
White wine (Always chose a wine that you would drink. If you wouldn't put it in your glass to enjoy, don't put it in your pan)
1 pound of fresh Cod
Fresh Cilantro (2.5 cups chopped)
4 Green Onions chopped
Kosher Salt
Fresh Ground Peppercorns
1 egg
Panko Bread Crumbs
1 lemon juiced
Black Beans 1 Can
2 baby bell peppers 1 yellow, 1 orange
1 poblano pepper
1 small onion
3 shallots
1 long hot frying pepper
Cayenne Pepper 1/2 tspn
Chili Powder 1/2 tspn
Garlic Salt
Kosher Salt
Apple Cider Vinegar
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 small can of Tomato sauce
1/2 Cup Half & Half
Hot Sauce

Boil cod in salted water until the fish easily flakes. While you are cooking the cod, coarsely chop peppers, onion and shallots.  Sweat out the onion and shallots, place peppers in pan and continue to cook low and slow. Add Cayenne Pepper, Chili Powder, sprinkle with a mix of garlic salt and kosher salt to taste.  Keep in mind you are cooking these in olive oil.  Deglaze your pan with a small amount of apple cider vinegar.  This adds a bit of tang to your mixture as well.  Add drained beans to the pain and sauté for about 2 minutes then add small can of tomato sauce. Simmer for a few minutes then transfer into food processor add about a cup to a cup and a half of fresh chopped cilantro and continue to process until smooth, add about a half a cup of half and half.

Remove fish from water and flake with fork.  Make sure all bones are removed. Season with kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper. Add a cup of panko breadcrumbs, and one cup of chopped cilantro.  Mix ingredients. Add one egg as a binder.  Form small cakes and place in a fry pan with butter. Brown the cakes evenly on both sides.  Cooking at a med/low temp. Add lemon juice and a splash of white wine to the pan.

 Now place about two tablespoons of black bean sauce on a plate, set cod cake in the center, garnish with fresh cilantro and spicy aioli.
To make a quick spicy aioli ( I use it in many of my recipes)  Take 3 to 4 tablespoons of mayo and add them to the food processor, add about 1-2 teaspoons of your favorite hot sauce and about 1/4 teaspoon of chili powder.  As you are processing add a olive oil to create desired consistency.  The heat that you add depends on your taste so you can vary the amount of hot sauce and chili powder that you use.   Use a squeeze bottle to drizzle over your cakes.
The amount of black bean sauce that you will have left should be close to two cups.  Be sure to save the sauce.  I will have a great vegetarian recipe that uses up your black bean sauce for you tomorrow!

Monday, January 30, 2012

A New York Morning in that Italian Mama's House: French Toast

 So, It's morning... Mr. Baby is still sleeping soundly, I'm waiting for my very own mama to come in and join me for breakfast before I go off to work.  I often wake up because I'm hungry. I mean who wouldn't be hungry when they wake up if the last thing they do before they go to sleep is read food magazines and blogs all while the Food Network is on in the background. I had visions of powdered sugar and Texas toast dancing around in my head.  Coffee is on, fry pan is heating up and the smells of lemon zest, vanilla, and warm butter are wafting through the air.  So, I have about 5 lbs of lemons on my counter and a big bag of thick cut white bread (a.k.a. Texas Toast)  and I am CRAVING a delectable plate of french toast covered in powdered sugar and slightly glazed over with Agave Syrup, before I run off to teach Pilates.  Sounds so healthy, right?  I'm a firm believer in giving into a craving as long as it's not an astronomical portion.  I don't believe in last hoorahs when it comes to healthy eating.  Then every day becomes "the last day before I start my new regime." So, if I want something... I'm eating it!
I begin with 2 eggs and 1 cup of skim milk

 Then I add about a teaspoon of vanilla (depending on how strong the vanilla you are using happens to be determines how much you put in)
I add a teaspoon of cinnamon
We then move on to zesting a small lemon 

add two teaspoons of flaked unsweetened  coconut ( I use organic because of my sulphite allergy)

 Sift in a tablespoon of powdered sugar and WHISK!!
Place on a griddle with melted butter and cook on low nice and slow so it cooks through and is evenly browned


The start to a wonderful Monday!!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Adventure Week: Flavor 1 Garbanzo Bean and Rainbow Chard Salad with Feta

What you will need:

1 can of Garbanzo Beans (Drained)
1 Lemon Zested and Juiced
Chili Powder
Celery Salt
2 Cloves of Garlic
1 Shallot
1 small spanish onion
1 mini orange bell pepper
Feta Cheese
1 Bunch of Rainbow Chard (stems removed and leaves chopped)
Agave Syrup ( about at tablespoon)

Chop Garlic and salt it
Lightly toast garlic and sauté shallot add Garbanzo beans place in bowl
Then sauté Rainbow Chard remove and place in bowl
Chop mini bell pepper and small onion and sauté and sprinkle with chili powder, celery salt, and coriander to taste remove and place in bowl
place lemon zest and juice with agave over the mixture of veggies and beans add chopped feta

Serve with a crusty bread or over whole grains ( quinoa, brown rice, etc)

My Weekly Food Challenge: A Quest for Fun New Flavors

Hello all:
I am obsessed with food and flavor.  I literally dream about recipes and take great pleasure in going to different little stores to find the best ingredients to put in front of my family.  So, I have recently joined one of those "bring the farm to your door" type of memberships.. Anyhow, I get a surprise basket weekly, and sometimes I chose to do it biweekly.  I also go to a local fresh produce market to find items I would not normally cook with.  The idea for me is to challenge myself creatively and awaken my tastebuds to things that have never danced upon their surface before.  So, as I create new little dishes I will add images and recipes to share with you.  Here's what's hanging in this Italian Mama's kitchen this week:

Turnips (yikes, I have never cooked, tasted, or even touched a turnip.... not quite sure what's going to happen with these little guys)

Baby Bok Choy ( um yeah.... ) 

Red Cabbage
Fresh Lemons and Limes
Cara Cara Oranges
Fresh Raspberries
Spanish Onions
Poblano Peppers
Cubanelle Peppers
Fresh Herbs:  Basil, Flat Leaf Parsley, Cilantro
Fingerling Yams
Bell Peppers          
Mini Belle Peppers
Rainbow Chard
Fresh Spinach
Butternut Squash

My mind is racing with ideas... however, I do not have enough time in a day or enough people to eat all of my experiments....  Now this just includes my produce.... I have received a couple of Organic Wine deliveries and purchased some other items to cook with, like Anchovy Paste and cubed pork, feta cheese, and Queso Fresco.  I begin tonight!!!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Chili Honey Lime Salmon with Roasted Brussels Sprouts

A delicious dish.....

Your Shopping List:
2 Salmon Filets 8-10oz each ( I chose Farm-Raised Alaskan)
16oz Brussel Sprouts
Kosher Salt
Black Peppercorns
Dry Red Chili Peppers
Seasoned Breadcrumbs
Grated Cheese
Salted Butter
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Apricot Preserves
Rice Wine Vinegar
Brown Rice or Quinoa
I chose to place salmon over a mix of Brown Rice and Quinoa

Grind whole dried chili peppers
The Glaze
 What you will need:
2 Dried Chili Peppers (ground)
2 Tablespoons of Honey
1 Tablespoon of Apricot Preserves
A Pinch of Kosher Salt
2 Juiced Limes
Zest of one of the Limes
Rice Wine Vinegar 1/8 a cup
Whisk all of the ingredients together in a small bowl thinning out with the Rice Wine Vinegar. You may find that you need a touch more or less. Always taste your glaze before you coat your fish.

Season the filets with a big pinch of kosher salt and black ground pepper (whole peppercorns)
Then cover the salmon with glaze.  Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes skin down.  Baste twice while baking.  Temperature should be 135 degrees.  All ovens vary. So, cooking time may vary as well.

Begin with 16oz of Brussels Sprouts
Rinse and halve them. Remove bottom stem and any dead leaves

Grease baking dish with butter and chop about a tablespoon of butter and leave cut pieces at the bottom of the dish.  Sprinkle a 1/4 cup of grated cheese, and an 1/8 cup of seasoned bread crumbs over the brussels sprouts. Ground black peppercorns to taste and a pinch of kosher salt are added.  Then drizzle with E.V.O.O. and if you desire a little more butter on top.  Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes or until browned on edges with out burning.

Finished Brussels Sprouts