Tuesday, January 30, 2018

What's for Dinner? Fajitas


Remember fajitas?

That 90's Tex-Mex craze served in sizzling hot skillets at your local TGI Fridays and Bennigan's?

Every chain restaurant back then served this impressive entree with a side of tortillas, guacamole, salsa and sour cream.
I was easily impressed back then.

The "Blooming Onion" and "Death by Chocolate" were also favorites of my youth....helping me gain the "freshman 15".
and let's not forget about loaded nachos; potato skins and fried mozzarella sticks......

My, how times have changed. No thanks to any of the food mentioned above.

But I'm not sure why fajitas fell out of fashion....they are easy to make, healthy and kid friendly. The perfect weeknight meal.

Grab your cast iron skillet and let's go.

Chicken Fajitas:

1 poblano or jalapeno pepper, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 yellow pepper, thinly sliced
1 red onion , thickly sliced

For the Chicken:

package of boneless chicken breasts
juice of al lime
3 Tbsp olive or avocado oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
pinch of kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
freshly chopped cilantro

Slice the chicken breasts into thin strips and add the marinade in a bowl. Marinate for a few hours in the spices and lime juice.

When ready to cook, heat up a heavy cast iron skillet w/ the oil.

Sear the chicken a few minutes then remove to a bowl w/ tongs.
Now add in the cut up vegetables and cook until charred, about 10 minutes, moving the peppers and onions around.

Add the chicken back into the skillet with the vegetables and cook another 2 minutes.


Fill warmed tortillas (microwave 45 seconds) with the filling.
Top with guacamole and salsa and dig in!

Monday, January 29, 2018

Whole30 Diet and a Sweet Potato & Broccoli Frittata


It's funny to me how everyone I know is eating "paleo" or doing the "Whole30" diet this month.
What happens in February when everyone goes back to their normal eating habits?

Since I don't eat much meat, the paleo thing doesn't work for me......but I do like the Whole30 concept.

I have always eaten healthy foods, "whole foods" as they are called now.
My mother was organic before we even knew what the word meant.

She never bought anything in a can or with preservatives. She always read labels.

We were only allowed one tuna sandwich per week, because of the high mercury content.
Artificial preservatives were a big no no in our house......and salt was not allowed on the table.
One pat of butter only on the baked potato.

She was into "whole foods" before it was a word.....not because she loved food, but out of fear.

Fear of being unhealthy, getting cancer or being overweight and the health issues that come with that, and other fears that I thought were irrational at the time, but looking back, seeing that she had a valid point.

My grandfather is 101 and always ate healthy. Never smoked or drank, had a vegetable patch on the side of his house in Queens....and listened to what my grandmother told him to do. ;)

Whole foods is not just the name of a supermarket chain.

They are foods that will ROT if you don't consume them in a few days....foods that are not processed, such as fresh baked bread that grows mold by day 3....... and seasonal produce, vegetables that don't have to travel more than 25 miles to get from grocer to your kitchen......farm raised chickens without hormones......you get the concept.

My weakness is cake, as you all know by now. Evil cane sugar.

But I don't buy cookies or sweets in a package. I bake my own desserts and I think that makes a difference.....I use olive oil and natural ingredients like nuts and fruits that are in season. (You may think I am justifying my cake habit, but it's my blog and my body).

What I am trying to say here is what works for me, might not work for you.

I get a lot of questions and comments on my instagram from people that think I don't eat the food I make.
I eat it ALL and then some.

I have always loved Jane Brody's book "GOOD FOOD: Living the High Carbohydrate Way".

That's a scary title these days!


But her philosophy has always worked for me.

In fact, after gaining the "freshman 15" back in my 20's, I found this life-changing cookbook. After reading it, I had a new found understanding of food and my relationship with it.

Ms. Brody, who then was the food editor of the NY Times, talked about eating less meat and more fruits, tons of vegetables and mixing complex carbohydrates with protein. Adding good fats like olive oil and avocados.

Pastas mixed with veggies and beans (especially chickpeas) and low-fat and high protein dairy like cottage cheese and skim milk......soups and stews.......salads with colorful produce......grains; legumes; seeds; nuts.

The book came out in 1985 and she talked about amaranth flour; millet; quinoa; coconut sugar;! all that jazz, before I ever heard the word "gluten free".

She was way ahead of her time for sure.

I changed my eating habits and lost 15 lbs after a few months of cutting out excessive booze (college girl problems), late night fried mozzarella sticks and fried potato skins loaded with bacon and cheese (which I have been seeing on Whole30 blogs lately!!!!) and stopped eating after 10 pm.

Though today, as I leaf thru the book it seems very outdated, and my cooking skills are much better than they were in my 20's (Ms. Brody calls it "Oriental sesame oil", and says if you "can't find parsley, then omit it".....really? I guess in 1980 we couldn't find fresh parsley at the supermarket, my how times have changed, thankfully).

But back then, I followed her dinner recipes in my little apartment, and it worked!

It's different for women in their 50's vs. women in their 20's, I know. But I am the same weight as I was in college.
People think I am thin, but I am normal. My body has definitely changed even though I am the same weight. But I feel good and that's what matters.

Everyone's body is different.....we come in all shapes and sizes. It's being healthy and what is a good weight for YOU that is important.

Why do some people have food allergies and some people can eat peanuts, strawberries, wheat, etc.?

Why do so many women in their 50's develop an intolerance to dairy? (That would be a sad day for me folks).

We are all different.

Have you ever read the book Eat Right 4 your Blood Type? That's another interesting philosophy.....different blood types, need different diets.

I am type A- and it says I should eat a "meat free diet", and one of mostly fish, vegetables and carbohydrates with a small amount of dairy.....hey, exactly what I crave!

There is a recipe here.....keep reading......

I am not preaching by any means. I am just talking about what works for me.
A good balance and good genetics (which I am thankful for).

Finally, the recipe (shut her up already).

I have been making a weekly frittata for the last 20 years loaded with leftover veggies or spinach, or whatever last night's dinner left me.

I left out the cheese in this one to comply with my friends who keep asking for more Whole30 recipes on the blog.

So if you bypass my cake recipes, I really do have a healthy food blog, friends!

Here's the recipe for a delicious hearty frittata made w/ leftover baked sweet potato and roasted broccoli.

I love some sausage or chorizo in my frittatas for flavor, but if you don't do the pork thing, then omit it.

I would normally throw in some grated Parmesan or feta, but will be compliant. ;)


Today's Whole30 Frittata:

6 eggs
salt & pepper
half stick of Spanish chorizo
leftover roasted broccoli
cooked sweet potato, cut into dice (I leave skin on)
tsp of smoked Spanish paprika (pimenton)

I use avocado oil these days, I love the high smoking point and subtle flavor.
Coat a nonstick skillet w/ the oil and saute the chorizo.

Add in the 6 beaten eggs and season w/ salt & pepper.

Lay the cooked broccoli florets and sweet potato pieces on top of the omelet. Cook for 2 minutes on medium, until sides are starting to set.

Transfer to a 375F oven for 12 minutes.

Slide out of the pan onto a cutting board and cut into slices.

I love this at room temperature the best.


Serve w/ some hot sauce if you like.

Thanks for reading my rant for the day.

Be healthy and happy.

:)

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Late January Random Bites

No complaining in this post.

I have settled into winter, and am enjoying the recipes that we only eat during the cold weather months.
Lots of luscious soups and stews and good red wine to drink, and beautiful citrus fruits that are available now.


I love winter citrus. It is not only healthy, but is colorful on these blah winter days.

Here, I paired it with baby kale, red onion, pistachios and avocado.


I made a dressing with some of the blood orange juice, white balsamic vinegar and avocado oil. A sprinkle of Maldon sea salt & pepper.


Try this Seared Cauliflower dish for Meatless Monday.


You slice the cauliflower into thin slices and sear it in a cast iron skillet w/ coconut or avocado oil.

You toast mustard seeds and use spicy harissa paste.......spinach, red onion and pistachios.
It was lovely.


Recipe from The Doctor's Kitchen by way of Dr. Mark Hyman (hey, they are both MD's!).


I baked this lovely apple cake (yes, another apple cake.....sorry, not sorry).
I never get tired of them.


The recipe here, adapted from Spoon Fork Bacon.

I added in a teaspoon of cinnamon and used my beloved stash of Tate & Lyle golden caster sugar for this one.


I love when a reader reminds me about a recipe!

As was the case with Roasted Cod with Peas.....a one pan dinner that is sure to please.


And with the leftover cod (I always make extra food for tomorrow), you can make fish tacos or kedgeree (a British rice and fish dish).

I love it all.


Being a food blogger for 10 years does have its perks.....I get to try a lot of new products.

I only mention them here if they are great, as is the case in this case of ginger beer! I loved the Earl Grey flavor the best.


Brooklyn Crafted Ginger Beer.....made 30 miles from my home, with real ginger at the bottom of the bottle!

Here is a great recipe for one of my favorite cocktails, some call a "Moscow Mule" or "Copper Penny", and it's all the rage now, traditionally served in a copper mug (which I hear is not good for you, because the alcohol leaches into the metal vessel.....I can't keep up with the warnings).

I like to drink my Mule in a cocktail GLASS....I don't like the SMELL of metal every time I take a sip (oy, what a pill I am).

Here's the recipe:

1 ½ ounces vodka
1 ½ ounces lime juive
4 oz Brooklyn Crafted Ginger Beer
fresh mint


Pour into Collins glasses and sip! I love them.
You can order them in cans here on amazon.


I found a new favorite way to serve green beans.


You top them with luscious gremolata! This stuff is amazing.

Here's how:

2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup toasted almonds, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped
2 Tbs. minced preserved lemon (from a jar)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbs. Sherry wine vinegar
1 tsp. sugar
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 lb. green beans, trimmed and washed
a few shallots, sliced

Boil your beans for 3 minutes only and drain into a colander.

In the same pan as you cooked the beans, heat some olive oil and cook the shallots for a minute or two until soft.
Add in the rinsed beans and stirfry them for another 3 minutes. Season with sea salt & pepper.

Add the green beans and shallots to a bowl and spoon the gremolata on top!
You can also use this delicious sauce for roasted or boiled potatoes!

So good.

Enjoy! 45 days till spring! ;)

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Winter Caprese Salad w/ Citrus


I feel the need for bright colorful food during the dreary winter months, don't you?

I love this idea I saw on Marie's site.....a winter Caprese salad with sliced winter citrus and mozzarella!

Here, I layered my favorite blood oranges and clementines with fresh mozzarella and thinly sliced red onion.

Feel free to use CaraCara oranges and grapefruit too.

I found some fresh mint at the market, so liked that idea better than basil......

and for the dressing, I drizzled w/ white balsamic vinegar and avocado oil.

A sprinkle of sea salt & pepper.


This was lunch for one, but I will be making it again for two. ;)

LOVED.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Leftover Beef Stew? Make a Sweet Potato Cottage Pie


This dish wins for the best thing to do with leftover beef stew!

Since it's just the two of us, I always have a lot of leftover beef stew....so I freeze it in separate containers for different recipes all winter (kimchi beef stew is another winner).

Next time you have leftover stew, make a cottage or shepherd's pie.....a traditional British meat casserole, with a topping of mashed potato.

I have never been a mashed potato girl, but when you say mashed SWEET POTATOES, I'm in.

For this recipe, you can use any beef you like, ground beef, chuck stew, or brisket, as long as it's cooked!

Let's begin:

I livened up my leftover stew by adding in fresh sauteed carrots, peas and onions, re-seasoning the stew to taste with salt and pepper.


You are now half way done!

Pour the desired amount of cooked stew into a glass dish or oval baking dish (size of the dish will depend on the amount of leftovers you have).


Now for the fun part.

I used 2 sweet potatoes because I had enough stew for 4 servings.

Bake, boil or microwave your sweets, and while they are still hot, (but cool enough to handle), remove the skins and scoop the hot flesh into a bowl with 3 tbsp butter, 3 tbsp heavy cream, salt & pepper and PIMENTON (about a teaspoon). The smoked Spanish paprika will really make the mashed sweet potatoes sing, so don't omit this spice.

With a silicone spatula, spread the mashed sweet potatoes on top of the stew.


Brush with some melted butter (if you like, and I like). Score some nice design with a fork and bake at 375F for 20 minutes....or place under the broiler for 6 minutes (keep an eye so the top doesn't burn).

This is so damn delicious!


If you are doing Whole30, then omit the butter (only clarified butter allowed on Whole30, but don't quote me....) and use olive oil or coconut oil and omit the cream.


My next blog will be titled "The Leftover Queen".

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Gjelina's Kabocha Cake with Olive Oil & Chocolate


Here is my weekly cake post. I know you love them!

A rumor was going around town that the hottest L.A. restaurant, Gjelina was opening an outpost in NYC.

Boy, was I excited......only to have my hopes shot down by an article that read the landlord and investors were not getting along, so they squashed the deal.

Oh well....I am not going to Los Angeles anytime soon, so I will just have to keep making the wonderful recipes from the Gjelina cookbook.

So in honor of the "squashed" deal, I made this squash cake. (Hilarious).

I have had this recipe bookmarked for 2 years, so it was due.

Kabocha squash is a super sweet squash.....if you can't find it, then I suggest you substitute canned pumpkin or sweet potato, but feel free to experiment. You can always use butternut squash. I have had excellent results using butternut squash in baked goods.

And a note regarding the olive oil.
You know I am a pro when it comes to baking olive oil cakes.

You MUST use a mild flavored one.
I swear by Colavita extra virgin, and I am not getting compensated by them in any way.

And please, don't skip the glaze, it is very rich and luscious, like a butter frosting.
I used toasted sunflower seeds for the top, cause I didn't have pepitas (pumpkin seeds).

This yields a BIG, gorgeous, moist loaf cake and smells divine while baking.

I was a bit scared of the 2 tsp of nutmeg, so if you are not a fan, then reduce to 1 teaspoon, but I promise, it is fine.
I reduced the sugar just a bit too, and it was plenty sweet.

I am posting the ORIGINAL recipe from the book, so feel free to use the tips I have given you.


Gjelina's Kabocha, Olive Oil & Chocolate Loaf: (adapted from GJELINA)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg (use 1 if you are scared)
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar (I did not use this much sugar, I used about 1 1/4 cups, it was sweet enough)
1 cup extra virgin olive oil (I like Colavita Extra Virgin)
1 cup canned pumpkin purée or kabocha squash puree
3 eggs
8 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

FOR THE GLAZE:
1 1/4 cups confectioner's sugar, sifted, plus more as needed
2 Tbsp hot water, plus more as needed
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

3 Tbsp pepitas (raw, hulled pumpkin seeds), toasted in a dry skillet until nutty and browned
2 Tbsp crushed cacao nibs

To roast kabocha squash:
Cut the squash in half, and remove the seeds.

Drizzle w/ olive oil and kosher salt and roast flesh side down on a parchment lined baking sheet. 425F for 25-35 minutes.
Scoop out the flesh and let cool. You can do this days in advance and keep the squash puree in the fridge (or freezer).

For the cake:
Preheat the oven to 325˚F, and generously butter a 9x5-inch loaf pan. This makes a large loaf cake, so if you have a bigger loaf pan, that is fine too.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a medium bowl.
In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, olive oil, squash or pumpkin purée, and eggs.

Add the dry ingredients to the bowl with the wet ingredients and whisk until just combined. Fold in the chopped chocolate.


Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 75 to 90 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Mine needed only 70 minutes because I cooked it in a longer pan.

Let the cake cool in its pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Run an icing spatula or a thin knife carefully around the edges, and invert the cake from the pan. Re-invert the cake so that it is right-side-up and let cool on the rack for another 20 minutes.

To make the glaze:
In a small bowl, whisk the confectioner's sugar with the water until smooth. Add more sugar and/or water until you have a glaze that is the consistency of honey. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, whisking constantly to combine.

Pour the glaze over the cake, allowing it to drip down the sides. Sprinkle with the pepitas and cacao nibs and let the glaze set completely (about 1 hour) before serving.


This cake lasts all week. Stays nice and moist and is great for breakfast.

It gets better the second day, and even better the third!

It's a keeper!


I hope you try it.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Cod Cakes with Remoulade Sauce


Am I the only person who loved Mrs. Paul's Fish Sticks as a kid?

I couldn't wait for my parents to go out, so the babysitter could make them for us!

Everyone needs a good fish cake in their life!

My salmon cakes are the bomb, and there is no better recipe (so I have been told!).
But I don't always want salmon....sometimes I want a nice piece of cod.

These are so easy to put together, and are kid friendly too.

You can make the fish cake batter and keep it in the fridge to fry up later.....same with this perfect remoulade sauce.

I think a simple salad would be best with these babies, or maybe some homemade cole slaw, but that's it.
Don't get too fancy.

Here's the recipe from The Splendid Table:

1 small yellow onion, coarsely chopped
1 pound cod or other whitefish, skin removed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup flour
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons melted butter, plus 1 tablespoon for frying
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Remoulade Sauce:

1/2 cup mayonnaise (Hellmann's always!)
1/4 cup minced dill pickle
1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon snipped fresh chives or scallions
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh tarragon
1/2 teaspoon prepared yellow mustard (I used tarragon mustard!)
1/4 teaspoon curry powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
ground black pepper

Make the remoulade sauce and keep in the fridge covered for a few hours to chill.


Process the onion finely in the bowl of a food processor. Add the fish, dill, parsley, flour, egg, 2 tablespoons of melted butter, salt, and pepper and pulse until ground medium fine.


Transfer the mixture to a bowl and refrigerate, covered, for at least 1 hour and up to 4 hours.


Shape the fish mixture into 8-10 patties. Set them on parchment paper.

Heat the oil and the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter in a heavy, wide skillet over medium heat. When the butter begins to foam, add the fish cakes and cook for about 5 minutes on each side. I did this in 2 batches, and needed to add more oil.


Blot on paper towels and serve with the remoulade sauce on the side.

I loved these better for breakfast the next morning with a crispy egg.


So easy!

Monday, January 15, 2018

Weeknight Meal: Baked Chicken w/ Lemon & Potatoes


Let's get back to the basics.

I know many of you readers tune in only to get inspired for dinner ideas.

Here's an oldie, but goodie.

I rarely buy a whole chicken cut up, because I am one of those weirdos who LOVES breaking down a chicken herself.

There is something very satisfying (for me anyway) cutting up a chicken into parts, feeling your knife go thru the proper spots as if you were a butcher.
It takes practice, but I can butterfly a bird like nobody's business (but I still can't perfectly filet a fish!).

Growing up, my mother used to kill the bird twice.

She baked it for 2 hours at 375F until there was nothing left in your mouth but the taste of ketchup (used to help swallow the dried chicken down).

You may think me mean, but I am honest.

I only started buying chicken parts again, because sometimes you just want a leg.

You will LOVE this simple dinner, and if you are doing Whole 30 (which I am not), feel free to sub in sweet potato chunks.
Add in carrots or parsnips.......whatever you like.

This is super moist and a great family meal.



Baked Chicken with Lemons & Rosemary:


8 pieces of chicken (I use thighs and breasts), skin on, bone in
1 lb smallest red potatoes (if they are big, you can cut into chunks, but I keep them whole)
1 onion, cut into chunks
2 lemons 1 sliced, 1 juiced
1/4 cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp fresh rosemary
crushed red pepper flakes
kosher salt & pepper

In a small bowl, mix the lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and rosemary together.

Lay the chicken with onion and potatoes in a 13 x 9 baking dish (I don't use glass because the oven temp is 400F...too hot).

Pour the marinade over the ingredients in the pan.


Sprinkle everything liberally with kosher salt, pepper and hot pepper flakes (I like a little heat).

Bake at 400F for 1 hour, uncovered.

Enjoy!


This is a no dry chicken zone.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

MARIE-HÉLÈNE’S Apple Cake


I am sorry that I am still posting cakes in the new year.

I am not on a January resolution diet that is doomed to fail (for me, anyway).

I eat healthy most days, so a piece of cake is never going to hurt me.

Moderation is the key to most everything in life.

I don't know who Marie-Hélène is......but I have been seeing her cake on blogs since 2012, so why not start the new year with this beautiful cake!

It's a beautiful simple French apple cake and I am a new fan.

I don't have rum, I never liked it much.....so I saw another blogger that substituted the lovely French fleur l'orange (orange flower water) for the rum, and I since I had a bottle, I used that.

Loved.

I don't usually peel my apples, it makes for a much prettier and more rustic cake, especially when using different varieties of apples.

I used local Golden Delicious and Empire apples for my cake.


Marie-Hélène's French Apple Cake: (original recipe from Dorie Greenspan)

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
4 large apples (use different varieties), diced
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 teaspoons orange blossom water (fleur de l'orange) or rum
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled (1 stick)

It's pretty simple. No rocket science going on here.

Mix the butter, eggs, vanilla, rum and sugar in a large bowl until pale yellow.

Slowly add in the flour and baking powder and fold in the diced apples last with a rubber spatula.
It won't look like much batter, but it will bake up fine.


I line my 9" springform pan with parchment paper, and also butter it liberally.

Smooth the batter into the prepared cake pan.

My cake needed 50 minutes at 350F. Times vary from 45-60 depending on your oven.

Let rest 10 minutes in pan, then run a knife around the sides, so it loosens up any stuck apples.

I ate this warm and loved it.

It is also good room temp.

Don't cover this cake, or it will get mushy. I kept it in the cold garage with a piece of parchment paper draped over it.
It didn't last very long for us to worry about it.


Have a slice of cake. It makes life much sweeter.

Enjoy.