Tag Archives: food

Spicing Up That Salad

23 Mar

I like to poll my facebook friends for ideas, suggestion and advice. I usually get an assortment of types of answerers – close friends, acquaintances, former classmates, people I forgot were even on facebook…. but this post was one of my most popular posts in awhile (popularity, of course, being judged by the number of comments):

Facebook poll: what fruits, veggies, or seasoning would you add to a salad to give it some kick? I don’t care for salad dressing or nuts, and trying to avoid dairy and processed foods. Any ideas?

So you can see, I explicitly asked for suggestions that would take my daily lunch to a new level, but without adding the extra sugars, processed foods, or other junk that is honestly calories wasted on a salad and better saved for dessert (oh, how I wish I had taken a picture of the gloriousness that was the pineapple upside down cake that I made for a coworker’s birthday today!)

The ideas ranged the gamut, so I thought I’d share some tidbits with you guys:

macncheese

Thanks for the warning – I will not be trying Mac & Cheese.  However, I do love STRAWBERRIES!

I paired that with this tidbit of advice:

kale and mint

And the end result was this beauty:

IMG_2272

What I had for lunch all week after asking for advice — It’s a romaine/kale blend (the kale is on the bottom, I should have tossed that a bit better) with sliced strawberries that have been tossed with mint and sat over night.

Yum!

Here are some other responses to my poll — some of which I may need to be trying in the very near future!

saira salad

Great ideas!  I love jicama. I usually just eat it raw. I never thought about toasted oats or barley!

Some other popular ideas on my facebook were:

  • avocados
  • pico de gallo / salsa
  •  fruit such as mandarin oranges, pears, craisins, and apples
  • herbs such as mint, cilantro, and basil
  • alternate dressing ideas such as lemon juice, balsamic vinegars, and tomatoes cooked with a touch of honey

All in all, what I am getting at is that your salad does not have to be plain and boring to stay healthy! There are thousands of combinations. We also don’t need to hide our vegetables under layers and layers of ranch dressing… gross!

And I was glad to see so many ideas and suggestions– and to maybe even inspire some of my friends:

gwyn salad

Anyone else having a salad this week? 🙂

The Jonny Burger and the Easiest Delicious Onion Strings

1 Oct

Jonathan’s birthday was yesterday, and since we had already celebrated by camping with our dear friends and then satisfying our foodie souls in Chicago and meeting Graham Elliot (yes, there will be an entirely separate post about all of this!!)-  I decided to keep his actual (and unfortunately landed on a MONDAY) birthday pretty low key. 

But, you know, they say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach so I created a signature burger just for my hubby’s bday. I call this masterpiece the Jonny Burger:

Image

 

The Jonny Burger is made with a groundbeef and sausage blend, seasoned with salt, pepper, and a special smokehouse seasoning. Fresh butterhead lettuce, a whole wheat bun, and thick sliced bacon, topped with barbecue sauce and homemade spicy onion strings.  Oh, and cheddar cheese. How could we have a Jonny burger without cheese??

(You could lighten up this monstrosity by using ground turkey, and baked onion straws instead of fried… but hey… for my hubby’s birthday we went all out!)

 

Now, how do you get delicious onion straws?  actually, this is a recipe that my Mom and I created when I was a kid. We had onion straws at a restaurant and were determined to create our own. This recipe is so ridiculously simple yet delicious and so satisfying. You will be enjoying your own restaurant quality onion strings in NO time. 

Image

 

Ingredients: 

1 egg

appr 1/4 c milk 

flour

Seasoning (I recommend Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning)

A pot of hot oil 

A pile of thin sliced onions 

So, I will warn you, I don’t have precise measurements for this, but don’t worry, it is still super easy. 

Get an onion and thin slice a good sized pile. However many you want to make. 

Take a bowl, and pour as much flour in the bowl so you have a pile about as big as your pile of onions. Then shake on the Tony Chachere’s over the top in an even layer until you basically can’t see the flour. Stir. (You will probably have to adjust this to your own tastes, but this is how I judge how much to put. 🙂 )

In a separate  bowl, beat an egg. Add as much milk as you have egg (appr a 1 to 1 ratio, which i find is about 1/4 c). 

Put the onions in the egg/milk mixture and stir to coat. In small handfuls, grab a handful of the wet onions, shake the extra liquid off, roll them around in the flour, shake the excess flour off, and set aside. Repeat until all the onions have a fine coating of your flour mixture. 

Now, is your oil hot? If not, heat oil in a pot. Don’t know how to tell if your oil is ready? Toss one onion in as a test. if it sinks to the bottom it’s not ready. When it’s ready, your test onion will pop to the top and crackle in the oil. 

When the oil is ready, drop a small handful of onions into the oil. I always stir the onions a little bit to keep them from clumping up. 

I sort of poke the top of the onions with my spoon. At first, they will feel sort of soft. When they are ready, they will feel crunchy. Trust your intuition! 

When they feel crunchy, remove them with a slotted spoon, shaking the excess oil off, and place on a paper towel to absorb the extra grease. Continue until you’ve fried all of your onions. 

I always pat the top with another paper towel. 

That’s it. Simple. Easy peasy! It’s a lot more intuition than an actual recipe, so if it isn’t perfect the first time, adjust and try again!  Frying takes practice and confidence! You can do it! 🙂 

 

 

Homemade Bubble Tea – EASY! :)

24 Aug

Today, I had the immense pleasure of spending the day with one of my favorite people to do crafty things with – Nancy!  We decided to take on something crafty AND delicious – making homemade bubble (boba) tea!

 

We had so much fun that I felt the need to share how delightfully easy and cost effective this is! A much cheaper way to enjoy bubble tea – and Nancy and I agreed that it tasted as good as at the local bubble tea cafe.

 

bobainputs

 

You will need:

– Boba (found at your local asian market)

– Condensed sweetened milk (or regular milk or almond milk or soy milk!)

– Tea of choice (or fruit juice or coffee!)

– Big straws (found at local asian market OR these were milkshake straws found at the local grocery store)

– Optional: brown sugar and white sugar and ginger for the sugar syrup

 

Now, as you can tell from the ingredient list, there are tons of options. The world is your oyster!

 

We tried two types of boba:

–  tapioca balls that were already precooked. These were easy and ready to use in about 10 minutes.

– dried starch balls (made from potato starch) that took over 40 minutes to get ready.

The package you buy should have some sort of instructions. The larger, colorful, precooked tapioca balls had great instructions, which we followed. The smaller, dried starch balls did not have instructions in English so we had to feel it out.

So here are the steps to making perfect Bubble tea:

Step 1:  Make a simple syrup (option)

– We boiled appr 3 c water with 1/2 cup brown sugar and 1/4 cup white sugar and a pinch of ginger powder. Fresh grated ginger would have been better but mine had gone bad. 😦 But it was delicious! We left the “syrup” more liquidy so the balls could roll around in it. It had a texture only slightly thicker than water.  Set aside once ready.

Step 2: Get your boba ready!!

For precooked tapioca balls: For every 1/4 cup boba, boil 2.5 cups of water. Once boiling, pour in the 1/4 cup boba.  Let boil for 5 minutes. Then empty into a colander and run cold water over the boba so they don’t stick.

For dried starch balls: For every 1/4 cup boba, boil about 8 c water. Once boiling, add boba. Boil for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.  Take off of heat, cover, and let sit for 20 minutes. Empty in colander and run cold water over the boba so they don’t stick.

After the boba (either type) is rinsed, pour into your pot of now-cool simple “syrup.” Let sit for about 5-15 minutes. The longer is sits, the sweeter it gets! we let our first batch sit in the sweet water while we went out and get Indian chaat for lunch!

Step 3:  Make your tea!

While the boba is sitting in the syrup, make your tea. You could already have your tea made ahead of time, or have the water boiling while everything else boils (we had three stove aisles with boiling water because we were doing tea and two types of boba at the same time!)

We used Jasmine tea, and it was delicious. For iced bubble tea, I recommend making the tea ahead of time and letting it cool down.

Step 4: Add milk, ice, and boba, and TA DA!!

We took the jasmine tea, and added sweetened condensed milk and ice and shook it in a shaker. Delish!  I wish I could tell you how much sweetened condensed milk but it’s really just up to your preference. Add a little taste, and then add more if you like!

We then spooned the boba out of the simple “syrup” and into the bottom of a glass. Then we poured the delicious milk tea into the cup over the boba.

jasmineboba

After drinking this yummy treat, we decided we needed to experiment. Since I am obsessed with tea, we had a ton of flavors to choose from. We decided to make a watermelon mint tea from Teavana.

bubblegumbobaI’m not sure if you can tell in this picture, but the tea and the boba are PINK! too cute. It actually tasted a lot like bubblegum -which I liked but Miss Nancy did NOT. 🙂

 

bobafriends

 

All in all, it was a great way to spend a day with a friend, and now we might have a new snack time obsession!!

 

Happy Halloween!

30 Oct

My baby sister sent me a halloween package that included a mummy-cupcake kit! They turned out SUPER cute! So cute, that we made a double batch (the box made 12, and we bought extra ingredients and made even MORE!) so that we can send some to my work and some to the dessert contest at Jonathan’s office tomorrow! (I hope I win!!! Competitive spirit, ignited!)

 

Here is a picture of some of the best looking ones!

 

 

So cute, I had to share! 🙂  Hope everyone has a fun and safe Halloween! 🙂

Brut Risotto, with seasoned chicken

24 Sep

This week, I am visiting my sister, Alysha, in Lexington. She loves mushrooms and my “cheesy rice” (which is her affectionate term for my risottos.)
So I invented a new one for her!

I am going to tell you guys how I made this, but I wanted to add a few notes.
First, halfway through, I decided my approach was wrong. That being said, it turned out DELICIOUS. And that’s in Alysha’s words. And she is one of the pickiest/highest standards eaters I know, so that means alot! So, I am going to describe how I did it. I am sure I could edit the recipe so that it doesn’t abruptly change part way through, but I hesitate to do that without testing it myself.

So, if you decide to attempt this recipe, I recommend reading through the entire risotto process up front so you know what’s going on!

For the Seasoned Chicken, all I did was grease the bottom of a baking dish with olive oil (the kind rated for frying!) and preheat the oven to 350. I rubbed 1 tbspn herbes de provence and 1 tspn rosemary over both sides of the chicken. I let it cook for 12 minutes on each side,and then let it rest for 5 minutes before slicing. The chicken baked while I worked on the risotto.

For the mushrooms, I melted 1 tbspn butter in a small sauce pan, and added 1/2 cup sliced white mushrooms. I let them cook slowly on low heat, and stirred them occasionally while cooking the risotto.

Risotto:
Ingredients: (ingredients listed twice means they are used in different steps and should be separate)
1 tbspn butter
1/2 large yellow onion, diced
1.5 c arborio rice
1/4 c peas
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 tbspn balsamic vinegar
1 cup water
3 cups water
1/8 cup Brut
1 cup Brut
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
juice of half of a lemon

For the risotto, you will need three liquids.
Liquid 1: 1 cup Brut, set aside for later.
Liquid 2: heat broth, balsamic vinegar, 1/8 c brut until warm, but not hot. Keep on low heat.
Liquid 3: 3 cups water, set aside for later.

In a large skillet, melt 1 tbspn butter. Add onions, and cook until very slightly caramelized. Cook slowly so as not to burn the butter.
Once onions are tender, add the arborio rice. Stir for about 2 minutes. Rice grains should look glassy.
Turn up the heat, and add 1 cup brut (liquid 1). It should absorb in a bubbly way. If it isn’t, turn the heat up.
Once it’s absorbed, begin adding liquid 2 one ladleful at a time. Let each ladleful absorb completely, continually stirring the risotto, before adding the next.
*********************
Here is where I decided the risotto was off. About 4 ladlefuls in, I decided the broth was a bit too pungent. At this point, I added the juice of half a lemon and the peas. I also switched the liquid three. You can alternate between liquid 2 and liquid 3 as much as you want, tasting between each ladle to decide if the flavor is too weak or too pungent. I used pretty much only liquid 3 from this point on, which,if you remember from above, was plain, room temperature water.
*********************
Continue adding liquid a ladleful at a time until rice is cooked. Once rice is cooked, remove from heat and stir in the parmesan cheese.
Serve with sliced chicken and mushrooms.

Kalbi, Warm Fennel Salad, and Rootbeer Risotto

31 Aug

For dinner tonight, I made kalbi, warm fennel salad and a root beer risotto.

For the kalbi, I used a recipe from Food Network which you can find here.

In case you aren’t familiar with kalbi (or galbi), it is a korean barbecued short rib. To really do this right, you would purchase korean cut short ribs. The cut is sometimes called “flanken.” It’s a smaller cut of meat that grills faster. However, I bought American style short ribs and sliced the meat off of the bone. I also bought a small sirloin steak and thin sliced that to see how the two different types of meat fared in this cooking style.

I pretty much followed the food network recipe to a T, except I could not find Mirin in our local grocery store and didn’t feel like hitting an Asian store in the rain today. So I used white cooking wine instead. Also, in hind sight, I would add three times as much green onion as it calls for, and 2/3 as much soy sauce, as I found the marinade to be a bit salty.

Other than that, I thought they turned out delicious!

Kalbi with warm fennel salad

For the side dish, I wanted to create something light, that would compliment the heavy flavors and feeling of the beef main dish. I decided to create a warm fennel salad. While I don’t think the salad is something I would make on its own just for fun, I thought it was an excellent side dish to the kalbi.

It’s also a Sasha-Original-Recipe! 🙂

Ingredients:
1 bunch fennel, sliced thin
1 stalk celery, sliced into thin half moons
6 baby carrots, sliced into small rounds
1/8 cup cooking wine
1/2 nectarine, diced
1/2 tbspn chili oil (optional, can use any oil)
1 tspn mango vinegar (optional)

Heat a pan with 1/2 tbspn oil. I used chili oil to add flavor, but you can use olive oil, grapeseed oil, or any other anti-stick. Add in fennel, and sautee in the oil for about 1 minute. Add the other vegetables and the cooking wine. Let cook for about 4 minutes. Add in cooking wine, vinegar, and nectarine. Cook until vegetables are slightly tender but still crisp. It’s a warm salad, not a stir fry!

Warm Fennel Salad shown with kalbi.

And finally, the dessert! I made a root beer float dessert risotto!

A recipe completely of my own making! Here it is:

    Ingredients

:
Rice:
1 cup arborio rice

Flavoring Liquid:
1.5 bottles of IBC rootbeer (2 cups)

Base for toasting risotto:
1 tbspn butter
1 tbspn brown sugar
1 tspn dark rum

Base Liquid:
3.5 cups 1% milk
5 green cardamom pods
1 stick cinnamon
1 tspn vanilla

Topping:
2 tbspn marscapone
1 tbspn rootbeer

Instructions:
In a pot, put all of the base liquid ingredients in a pot and heat until warm. Take care not to burn or boil the milk. Keep it handy and on a low boil.

In a skillet, heat the base for toasting risotto. Once the butter is melted and the sugar stirred in, then add the rice. Stir the rice until the grains are glassy. Add in 1 c of rootbeer and stir until it is absorbed. Add in .5 cups of root beer and stir until it is absorbed.

Start adding in the base liquid one ladle full at a time, stirring until it is absorbed. Do not feel like you have to stir in ALL of the milk, but keep adding it in until the risotto is cooked, tender, and creamy. At the end, add in 1/4 cup of root beer to create a delicious frothiness.

Serve warm. Use the remaining rootbeer to top off your risotto root beer float (the warm risotto absorbs it pretty fast). You can add a creamy marscapone topping if you’d like. I stirred the marscapone and rootbeer together and then put a dollop on top.

Ta da!

Cooking for People You Love

1 Aug

I don’t like cooking for myself very much. If I’m left to my own devises (cough cough college) I will largely eat microwave popcorn and apple sauce (something salty, something sweet, something soft, something crunchy). Yeah, I know. VERY nutritious.

But cooking for people I love… I LOVE doing it! And I love concocting new recipes!

Today, I concocted some for my sister.

I made cilantro lime chicken thighs with skillet corn and green beans.

Here are the recipes 🙂

Cilantro Lime Chicken Thighs

Ingredients:
2 chicken thighs, skin removed, bone removed optional depending on how you like it
1/8 cup chopped cilantro
1 Lime
1 tspn Honey
1 tspn salt
1/2 tspn Pepper
1 tspn Adobo (optional)
1/2 tspn chili powder (optional)
1/8 cup olive oil

Mix olive oil, cilantro, juice of 1 lime, honey, salt, pepper, adobo, and chili powder in a bowl. Place skinless thighs in bowl, and cover with the marinade. Let sit for atleast 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375. Bake for 30 minutes.

Green Bean and Corn Skillet

Ingredients:
2 ears of corn
1/2 lb of green beans
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 tbspn cider vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
2 tspn salt
2 tspn honey
2 tbspn butter

Cut the kernels off of the corn and place in skillet. Cut the ends off of the green beans, and chop green beans into bite sized pieces (I always cut them into thirds). Place in skillet. Add water, broth, and cider vinegar to the pan. Bring skillet to a soft boil (bubbling but not violently bubbling over), and let it cook for about 20 minutes or until beans are tender. The liquid should cook off. If it cooks off before the beans are cooked, add a little more water. Once the beans are done, drain off any excess liquid. Add the butter, honey, and salt. Stir around. Taste, and add more butter/honey/salt until it suits your fancy!

This meal was delicious! I finished it off with a slice of whole grain toast. 🙂