Breakfast Chronicles – Week 1

I love breakfast foods, but I sometimes have trouble remembering to eat breakfast (or convincing myself to) during the week. I don’t like to eat right after I wake up, and once I start work, a couple of hours usually pass before I realize, “hey, I should eat something.” By that time, I don’t really feel hungry. But if I don’t eat breakfast, I can’t focus as well, and I tend to eat more than I should at lunch and dinner.

To keep myself accountable and make sure I eat breakfast (almost) every day, I decided to chronicle my weekday breakfasts here on this blog. Here’s week 1!

How about you? Do you have trouble remembering to eat breakfast? What are your favorite weekday breakfast foods?

Monday -Nothing (not a great start – but I was sick with a stomach bug)

Tuesday – A couple of handfuls of dry Kashi cereal (still recovering from stomach bug)

Wednesday – Oatmeal with Peanut Butter & Strawberries
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Thursday – Oatmeal Raisin Clif Bar

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Friday – Oatmeal with Cinnamon, Brown Sugar, Slivered Almonds, and Blueberries

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Golden Cauliflower Puree

This is a delicious accompaniment to chicken, steak, pork, fish… anything really! So far I have served it with venison liver & onions, and buffalo meatloaf. I added a couple of potatoes to the puree for smoothness and body. Not only does it taste great, it looks amazing! You can certainly use a regular white cauliflower if you can’t find a yellow one. Or, if you can find them, try this with a purple or green cauliflower too!

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Golden Cauliflower Puree

Ingredients
1 Head Yellow Cauliflower, roughly chopped into ~1″ pieces
1 small yellow potatoes, peeled and chopped into ~1″ pieces
1/4-1/2 cup milk
3 Tbsp butter
Freshly grated nutmeg
Salt & pepper

Method

1. Place the cauliflower and potatoes in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil over high heat, covered, then turn heat down to medium-high and boil for 15-20 minutes until the potatoes and cauliflower are tender (but not falling apart). Drain.
2. Add 1/4 cup milk, butter, salt & pepper, and freshly grated nutmeg
3. Mash with a potato masher until the pieces of cauliflower and potato are broken up, but it doesn’t need to be smooth
4. Transfer to a blender or food processor, or use an immersion blender, and puree until smooth. If you want a thinner texture, add additional milk
5. Taste, and adjust seasoning if necessary

Add some yummy color to your dinner plate!

Bacon-Wrapped Turkey-Chorizo Meatloaf with Chipotle Pumpkin Puree

Long title, simple recipe! This was very easy to make. The idea came from trying to use up a number of things I had in the fridge – some pumpkin puree from making pumpkin cupcakes, one link of chorizo from some burritos I had made, some bacon…

The chorizo added a bit of an extra kick, and the pumpkin puree was a nice alternative to gravy. Give this a try for a different twist on the classic meatloaf!

Bacon-Wrapped Turkey-Chorizo Meatloaf with Chipotle Pumpkin Puree

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 small to medium onion, finely diced
1 carrot, finely diced
1 stalk celery, finely diced
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
Salt & Pepper to taste
~1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 lb ground turkey
1 oz fresh pork chorizo (the crumbly Mexican kind, not the cured Spanish chorizo)
2/3 cup Panko breadcrumbs
1 egg
~1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
6 strips bacon
2 Tbsp ketchup
2 Tbsp barbecue sauce
1/2  15-oz can pumpkin (pure pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling!)
Pinch chipotle chili powder
1/4 cup chicken broth + more if necessary
1/4 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350F.
1. Heat the oil in a saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the diced onion, carrot, celery, and bell pepper. Season with salt, pepper, and dried oregano. Cook until the onions are translucent and the veggies are softened, then remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
2. While the veggies are cooling, in a large bowl, mix the ground turkey, chorizo, bread crumbs, egg, Worcestershire sauce, and salt & pepper so that they are fully combined. You can mix them with a wooden spoon but I find it easier – and more fun – to mix with my hands!
3. Mix about 2/3 of the veggies into the meat mixture until fully combined. (Leave the rest of the veggies in the pan.) Shape the mixture into a loaf shape.
4. Wrap the meatloaf with the strips of bacon. I find it easiest to leave the meatloaf in the mixing bowl, drape the bacon slices over it so that they overlap slightly, and then tuck the bacon ends under the meatloaf.
5. Transfer the meatloaf to a loaf pan. Mix the ketchup and barbecue sauce in a small bowl. Glaze the meatloaf with the sauce mixture; I did this using a silicone brush. Bake the meatloaf in the preheated oven for 1 hour.
6. While the meatloaf is baking, make the chipotle pumpkin puree. Add the canned pumpkin to the remaining vegetables in the pan. Stir to combine, and season with the pinch of chipotle chili powder. Cook over medium heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
7. Transfer the pumpkin & vegetable mixture to a high-walled measuring cup or similar vessel (or a blender if you have one). Add the chicken broth and cream. Puree using an immersion blender (or blender) until smooth. Add more chicken broth if you want a thinner sauce.
8. Transfer the puree back to the pan and warm over medium-low heat. Taste to check the seasoning and add salt & pepper if needed. Keep warm, stirring occasionally, until the meatloaf is ready.

9. Once the meatloaf is ready, remove it from the oven and slice it. Ladle a good amount of pumpkin puree onto each person’s plate, and top it with the sliced meatloaf (1-2 slices per person, depending how thickly you sliced it). Get ready to lick the plate!

Cheesy Beef & Pasta Bake

On Tuesday evenings, I take a writing class at the local community college. This means that I have to prep dinner ahead of time during the day, so we can just heat it up and eat right away when I get home.

Yesterday, I was feeling under the weather, so I wanted something warm and comforting with minimal effort. I came up with this pasta, beef and ricotta cheese casserole. It took under 30 minutes to assemble, and before I left for class, I stuck it in the refrigerator with instructions for my boyfriend to pull it out of the fridge and bake it while I was out. It was ready as soon as I got home. Nothing like coming home to a delicious meal!

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Cheesy Beef & Pasta Bake

1 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb ground beef
1 tsp (approx.) dried oregano
1 sprig rosemary, stem removed, finely chopped
Salt & pepper to taste
1 14.5 oz can stewed tomatoes, crushed
3 heaping Tbsp tomato paste
Pinch of nutmeg (preferably freshly grated)
1 15 oz tub ricotta cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
1/2 lb macaroni or small pasta of your choice (such as shells or penne)

Preheat the oven to 400F (unless you are going to refrigerate the dish and bake it later)
1. Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling, salted water. Cook it one minute less than the time listed for “Al Dente” on the package. You want it to be slightly firm so that it will not be mushy. Once cooked, drain (do not rinse) and reserve in the pot you cooked it in
2. Heat the oil in a saute pan over medium to medium-high heat, and add the minced garlic. Cook for 30 seconds to a minute, stirring, until garlic is fragrant but not browned
3. Add the beef and stir to break up. Season with oregano, rosemary, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until beef is browned and mostly cooked through
4. Add the crushed stewed tomatoes and tomato paste, stirring to combine. Add the nutmeg. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes
5. Add the the beef & tomato mixture to the pasta and stir to combine. Add the ricotta and 1/4 cup Parmesan, and stir again until everything is evenly distributed. Taste for seasoning and adjust with more salt and pepper if desired
6. Transfer the pasta to a casserole dish. Sprinkle the extra Parmesan cheese over the top. If you’re going to refrigerate the dish and bake it later, cool it to room temperature and then refrigerate; pull it out of the fridge about 15 minutes before you bake it so that it can come back to room temperature
7. Bake in the 400F oven for 15-20 minutes, until the cheese on top is melted and bubbly, and the edges are slightly crispy

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Serve with a simple green salad. Sit down, relax, and enjoy. It’s not the most glamorous-looking dish, but believe me, no one will care once they taste it. Happy-making food!

Hello World – Let’s Make Coleslaw!

My goodness, it’s been a while since I posted here. Since my last post, I have moved from the San Francisco Bay Area to Upstate New York. While I miss the foodie culture and some of my favorite restaurants, I’ve been having tons of fun exploring the local area. I’m in a fairly rural area (outside of Utica, about 45 minutes east of Syracuse). The countryside is gorgeous, lots of corn fields and trees.

Being summertime, it’s super hot here at the moment. The biggest problem for me though is the humidity! As you might expect, it’s way more humid here than it was in California.

With all the heat, I’ve been making a lot of coleslaws lately. I like a slaw that is crisp and refreshing, with a bit of a tangy bite.

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I wrote an article on Yahoo! with some tips on creating the perfect coleslaw that’s full of flavor without being too soggy or too sweet. Have a look at my tips, and give it a try with some of your favorite veggies!

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What are your favorite slaws? Do you have any tips for making a perfect, crunchy slaw?

Braised Cabbage & Kale with Smoked Ham Hock

I won’t say much about this dish, I will let you cook it and find out for yourself. This is a perfect winter dish and a great way to get a rich, meaty main dish without actually using much meat. Most of all, it’s just plain delicious. Enjoy!


 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Braised Cabbage & Kale with Smoked Ham Hock
Serves 4 as a main dish

Ingredients

1 Tbsp Canola Oil
1 medium Onion, sliced
1 Head Green Cabbage, roughly chopped
1 Bunch Kale, roughly chopped
1 Smoked Ham Hock
4-6 Cups Water or Stock (I used 2 cups Beef Broth and 4 cups Water)
Approx. 1/4 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
Salt & Pepper to taste

Method

Preheat your oven to 400F.

Heat a dutch oven or other heavy, oven-proof pan over medium-high heat. Add the oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the pot. Add the sliced onions. Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions start to soften. (Be careful with the salt at this point, because the ham will be quite salty itself and the saltiness will concentrate as the braising liquid reduces.) Add the ham hock to the pot (make sure to remove any string from the hock). Cook for another couple minutes, until the hock starts to brown, then turn the hock over (I used a pair of tongs) to brown on the other side. Keep cooking, and stirring the onions occasionally. When the onions are soft and translucent but not brown, add the chopped cabbage and kale. Stir (as much as you can – the pot may be quite full) to combine the greens and onions, and allow the greens to cook down a little. Add the liquid (stock/broth, water, or a combination) so that it comes up most of the way to the top of the greens and the hock, but does not completely cover them. The greens will release more liquid when they cook; but we want to make sure there is enough liquid in there to braise everything. Add the apple cider vinegar (you can use more or less depending on your personal preference, but don’t leave it out; it really ties the flavors together and brightens the dish). Stir to combine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Cover your pot and bring the liquid to a boil. Then transfer the pot to your preheated oven and let it braise in the oven for about an hour. The greens will become tender and infused with the flavor of the smoked ham, and the hock will get nice and succulent and start to break apart when nudged with a spoon. Feel free to leave it in the oven to braise longer if it is not done after an hour! Time is your friend here – the dish will only get better the longer you cook it.

When ready, remove your pot from the oven and transfer it back onto the stove onto a burner on low heat. Remove the lid, and gently break up the ham hock away from the bones into bite size chunks with a wooden spoon. Stir everything to combine the chunks of meaty goodness with the meltingly tender greens. There will probably be a lot of liquid in the pot, so leave it on the burner for maybe ten more minutes so everything can reduce down a bit and the flavors can concentrate even more. Taste, and adjust the seasoning if needed. It won’t need much seasoning – let the natural flavors of the ham, cabbage and kale really sing!

I served this as a main dish with a side of delicious, cheesy homemade mac & cheese seasoned with a dash of English mustard powder and Tabasco to give it a little kick to complement the greens (I used whole wheat pasta to make it a bit more nutritious and healthy… shh, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!)

There was a lot of braising liquid left after we had eaten all of the greens and the ham, so I froze it and used it the next week when making a hearty soup. Yum!

Luxurious Herbed Scrambled Eggs for a Special Occasion

Wow, it’s been a while! Somehow, despite all the cooking and baking I did around the holidays, I could not bring myself to write about it. I think I go through rather a seasonal pattern, and tend to retreat into myself like a bear in hibernation in the late Fall and the Winter. I want this blog to come naturally and be a fun thing for me, and hopefully therefore more fun to read for you, so I allowed myself that hiatus and did not try to force out any posts. Thanks for being patient. 🙂

But I’m back now, with a renewed energy to write and some delicious recipes to share with you!

These scrambled eggs are a tasty and rather luxurious way to use up any spare partial bunches of herbs that you have hanging around. Maybe you bought some rosemary for a roast beef or chicken, but only used a few stems. Perhaps you have some parsley left over from a pasta dish, or some sage or thyme or whatever! Basil would go nicely too, but I stuck with more wintery herbs in keeping with the season. Go ahead and use any (preferably seasonal) fresh herbs that you have in the fridge, and perhaps one or two dried herbs, too, that you enjoy together.

I had this for brunch on New Year’s Eve with a couple of pieces of whole wheat toast. Delicious and celebratory for the special occasion, and it held me over until our big dinner that evening! I didn’t think of this until it was too late, but a glass of champagne would go fabulously…. You can serve this for dinner, too!

Luxurious Herbed Scrambled Eggs
Serves 2

Ingredients:

5 Large Eggs, good quality (free range, organic if you can)
1/4 Cup Milk
1/4 Cup Heavy Cream
Assorted Herbs, approx. 1/4-1/2 Cup, chopped finely (I used 1/2 bunch Italian Parsley, 3 leaves Sage, 2 stalks Rosemary, and a good couple of dashes of dried Dill – I love Dill in my eggs!)
Handful of grated Cheese (I used English Cheddar, but Parmesan, Gruyere, etc etc would go really nicely)
Sea Salt & freshly ground Black Pepper, to taste
1 Tbsp Butter
A bit of Canola Oil

Method:

Crack the eggs into a medium mixing bowl or large (2-cup or greater) measuring cup. Add the milk and cream. You may be tempted to skip the cream and just use milk, but for a special treat and to make this really luxurious, I encourage you to go for it and use the cream! You won’t regret it. Don’t season them yet. (I wait until the end to add salt, because if you add it earlier, it can turn the eggs grey and/or watery.)

Whisk the eggs, milk and cream until they are combined but you can still see some streaks of yellow yolk. I try not to overwhip my eggs – I know I learned this tip somewhere, but I don’t remember exactly what it does to be honest – but I think it’s tastier when there’s a little variation.

Melt the butter and oil in a medium non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat. (The reason that we need to add some oil to the butter is that the butter will burn on its own.) The butter should be bubbling slightly.

Pour the eggs into the pan – they should sizzle. Allow them to set for about a minute without stirring them. Then lower the heat to medium-low and stir the eggs very gently. Continue to cook the eggs, stirring occasionally, until they are about halfway done to your liking. Then add the chopped herbs, and stir to combine.

Let them cook a little longer until almost done, then add the cheese and stir gently again. Continue cooking them, with one or two more stirs, until they are cooked to your liking and the cheese has melted. Then take the eggs off the heat and at the very end, stir in some sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Serve with your favorite toast – these eggs don’t need much else.

Bon appetit, and Happy New Year!