Monday, March 21, 2016

Two tasty main-dish salads

Rotisserie chicken, crispy bacon, spinach, Boston lettuce, pepitas, green grapes, Gorgonzola, and creamy balsamic dressing

Thinly sliced steak, roasted asparagus, escarole, tomatoes, avocado, lime juice, blue cheese, and creamy balsamic dressing

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Steak Fries with Cheddar Sauce and Bacon

And now for something completely unhealthy...but very delicious!  Football season may be over, but that doesn't mean you can't enjoy some cheesy bacon fries while watching the Golden State Warriors CRUSH IT.  Or, you know, while watching Ben completely devastate some poor woman on the Bachelor finale next week. ("I love you" to two women?! Really?! Does he not know how this show works?)  Or while watching those primary results roll in.

Whatever your poison, these fries are amazing.  The potatoes are crispy and salty and super tender on the inside, the cheese sauce is rich and gooey, and the bacon is, well, perfectly bacon-y!  What more can I say -- definitely worth the work to put this dish together when you're in the mood for an over-the-top indulgent treat.

Steak Fries with Cheddar Sauce and Bacon
Serves 4 (or less if you're really hungry)

2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes
Vegetable oil
Salt and pepper
Several slices of bacon
1 cup milk
1-1/2 T unsalted butter
1-1/2 T flour
1-1/2 cups Cheddar cheese
Generous pinch of salt

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, and line two sheet pans with foil.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
2. Wash the potatoes and trim off any odd bits (no need to peel).  Cut into large wedges.
3. Add the potatoes to the boiling water, and cook 8-10 minutes, until just tender.  Drain well.  Add to a large bowl and toss with a generous drizzle of oil, as well as salt and pepper.  Arrange in a single layer on one of the baking sheets.
4. On the other baking sheet, lay out the bacon in a single layer.
5. Roast the potatoes for about 50-60 minutes, until nicely browned, flipping once halfway through.
6. Add the bacon to the oven with about 20 minutes left, but check it early (at around 10 minutes), especially if you're using a thinner cut bacon.  As with the potatoes, flip the bacon about halfway through cooking.  When the bacon is done, transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.
7. While the potatoes and bacon are cooking, make the cheese sauce.  Heat the milk up in the microwave until hot, and set aside.  Meanwhile, heat a medium non-stick skillet over medium heat.  Melt the butter in the skillet, and then whisk in the flour.  Cook for a couple of minutes, and then slowly whisk in the milk to form a smooth sauce.  Let the sauce bubble for a few minutes, and then remove from the heat and whisk in the cheese.  Season with a generous pinch of salt, to taste.
8. To assemble the fries, pile up the fries in the middle of a serving platter.  Top with the cheese sauce.  Crumble or chop up the bacon, and sprinkle on top.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Pizza Night

Sauteed kale, lemon zest, goat cheese, pine nuts, garlic

Mozzarella, roasted red peppers, bacon, goat cheese, walnuts, fig balsamic vinegar

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Flavor Bomb Soba and Kale Bowls

One thing I really like about the Starbucks app is that they'll often run promotions that allow you to download free apps.  Recently, the My New Roots app popped up in their free app area, and since I love that blog, I decided to check out the app.  So pretty!  I decided to try the recipe for flavor bomb greens and noodles, and it was a big hit. The dressing/sauce has so many great flavors, including sesame oil, fresh ginger, lime juice, and honey.  It sounds like a lot of ingredients, but the sauce is very well balanced and so yummy.  The bulk of the dish comes in the form of greens and noodles.  We did kale and soba noodles, with about a 2:1 kale-noodle ratio.  But, you could easily sub in chard or spinach and other Asian-style noodles, and could tilt the ratio more in the favor of the noodle side of things if you prefer.  Finally, finishing touches of toasted coconut, sesame seeds, and cashews take things over the top!  Delicious and super healthy -- this recipe is definitely a win-win.  Bonus: leftovers are fantastic for lunch the next day.

Flavor Bomb Soba and Kale Bowls (adapted from the My New Roots app)
Serves 2 hungry people with a little left over

For the sauce:
2 T soy sauce
2 T sesame oil
1 T grated fresh ginger
2 tsp honey
2 tsp rice vinegar 
Zest and juice of 1 lime
1 garlic clove, minced
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 tsp Aleppo chile flakes (or to taste)

For the bowls:
4 ounces soba noodles
1 large bunch of kale
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut
3 T sesame seeds
A handful each of fresh mint and fresh cilantro 
Roasted and salted cashews, to serve 

1. Combine all the sauce ingredients in a serving bowl and whisk to combine.
2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the noodles according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water.
3. Stem the kale and slice it very thinly. Add to the bowl with the sauce and massage a few minutes, until the kale wilts a bit.
4. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add the coconut and sesame seeds and toast for a few minutes, shaking occasionally, until just browned and very fragrant.
5. Add the noodles, coconut-sesame seed mixture, and fresh herbs to the bowl with the kale. Toss well to combine everything.
6. Top each portion with roasted cashews.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Green Grape Pisco Sour

Pisco has been one of my favorite spirits since living in the Bay Area (where pisco punch is a big deal). So, when I saw this recipe for a fun twist on the pisco sour in the latest issue of Cooking Light, I knew I wanted to try it!  In addition to the traditional ingredients of pisco, lime (or lemon), and egg white, this cocktail adds green grapes muddled with sugar and lime zest.  I found the grape flavor wasn't overly pronounced, but it did add a nice sweetness.  Overall, this cocktail was very tasty!

Green Grape Pisco Sour (adapted from Cooking Light)
Serves 2

3/4 cup green grapes
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp lime zest
3 ounces pisco
1-1/2 T lime juice
1 egg white
A few dashes Boston bittahs (or other bitters)

1. Muddle the grapes, sugar, and lime zest in a cocktail shaker.
2. Add the pisco, lime juice, and egg white, and shake vigorously for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
3. Add a few ice cubes to the shaker and shake again for 30 seconds or so until very cold.
4. Strain the mixture over ice into two glasses.  Top each cocktail with a dash or two of bitters.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Vietnamese Pork Meatballs in Lettuce Wraps

I was recently sent a copy of Sheet Pan Paleo to review.  Although you can tell from this blog that I obviously don't follow a paleo diet, I am always up for trying new recipes so I was excited to take a look. Regardless of whether you're a paleo fan or just interested in trying something new, this cookbook has a wide variety of recipes. Most are focused around meat or fish proteins, although there is also a vegetarian chapter (but, I wouldn't recommend this book for vegetarians since the vast majority of recipes are meat-based).  In addition to focusing on paleo ingredients, the other focus of this cookbook is that all the recipes are baked on a sheet pan, meaning that they tend to be quick and relatively hands off.

The recipe I tested was the Vietnamese Pork Meatballs in Lettuce Wraps.  I have actually made it twice because we loved it so much! First, this is totally do-able on a weeknight -- especially on my second time through the recipe, I'd say it took me about 30 minutes start to finish.  Plus, the flavors are amazing.  The meatballs are rich and savory, and both the carrot slaw and the creamy sauce hit all the right notes with acid (lime juice) and herbs (cilantro).  The original recipe combined carrots and cabbage in the slaw, but since my husband isn't a big cabbage fan, we went all carrot and loved the results -- feel free to sub in thinly sliced cabbage for half the carrots if you prefer.

Vietnamese Pork Meatballs in Lettuce Wraps (adapted from Sheet Pan Paleo)
Serves 3-4

For the meatballs:
1 pound ground pork
1/4 cup minced cilantro
1 T minced fresh ginger
1 T fish sauce
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 green onion, white and green parts, thinly sliced

For the cilantro-lime crema:
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 T minced cilantro
Juice of 1/2 to 1 lime (to taste)

To serve:
4 carrots, peeled and shredded
2 T minced cilantro
1 green onion, white and green parts, thinly sliced
Juice of 1/2 to 1 lime (to taste)
Salt and pepper
Leaves of 1 head butter or Boston lettuce, rinsed and dried

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a sheet pan with foil.  Spray with oil.
2. Combine all of the meatball ingredients in a large bowl and mix with your hands to combine.  Divide into 12 meatballs and place on the baking sheet.  Bake 10 minutes, then flip the meatballs, and cook about 7-10 minutes, until the meatballs are cooked through.
3. Meanwhile, combine the cilantro-lime crema ingredients in a small bowl and whisk to combine.  Taste and add more lime juice if you like.
4. In another bowl, stir together the carrots, cilantro, green onion, and lime juice.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.
5. To assemble the lettuce wraps, top each lettuce leaf with a scoop of carrots, a meatball, and a drizzle of the cilantro-lime crema.