Saturday, October 13, 2012

New York, New York!

I thought I would post all the amazing foods we had in our recent birthday/anniversary trip to NYC last week. Going into the trip all I wanted to do is EAT. And that's exactly what we did. We did a food tour for a second time and it was amazing. Check out if you are planning a trip. We have done the Chelsea Market one and this last time we did the Central Village/SoHo tour.

We of course visited Eataly 4 times in 6 days :) For our anniversary dinner we ate at Babbo which was perfect as usual. I love Mario Batali so much and any of his restaurants or joint ventures are always over the top amazing! I got some amazing food recommendations from a local I met on Twitter, Anna Watson Carl, as well. She is amazing and  her blog is chalk full of delicious recipes and heart warming stories, I highly suggest checking it out. Anna recommended Mermaid Oyster Bar in the Village which was fantastic!

Sweet Lena Grace was such a good traveler! Our cousins, Jonathan and Annie Middlebrooks (which I'm not sure how we never got a picture with??) were going to NYC for city wide worship collective. We visited Trinity Grace Sunday morning and are really excited what God is doing urban cities all over the country! Below is one of my dearest friends, Jacquelyn who traveled along with us and the Middlebrooks for the week. She bought me my first birthday drink on the plane :)

This was one of my many visits to Eatly with Jax. I don't even remember the what the pasta was called but it was perfectly cooked with some melt in your mouth Bolognese. And of course I had to gild the lily with an affogato with frangelico for dessert.
And what's a trip to NYC without PIZZA! I swear, Blake would have been fine eating pizza solely. But I really can't blame him because it's delicious.

Blake is such a pro a stroller pushing around sweet Lena around Central Park. He kept saying that the stroller was like a Mercedes of strollers! What a goof ball :)
Our other very close friends, Kris and Kati Monier were in NYC for part of the time as well. We did the food tour with them and had a blast! This picture makes me laugh so hard because this sums up Kati in a nutshell.
This was a mortadella and mozzarella sandwiches from Caffe Dante which just made my life complete. I also got a macchiato which was so creamy and had a kick for sure. I love Italian espresso. Evidently this place is one of the oldest traditional Italian cafes in the neighborhood.

This place was awesome and too bad I didn't take a picture of the food. I guess I need to slow down before I gobble up my pasta bowl :) But very traditional and romantic Italian place that we stopped by on our tour.
Of course Kati and I couldn't resist getting sangria and mojitos at the Cuban restaurant on our tour. We always have a good time when we are together.

We were pumped about this beautiful board from Eataly! 

Our amazing meal at Babbo! I had the pork chop with sweet and spicy roasted peppers topped off with a 20 year aged balsamic that was presented to me like a fine wine. Blake had the steak onto of a salsa verde with those amazing pickled onions. We shared chianti stained pappardelle with wild boar ragu but we were too hungry to snap a photo. Blake and I honestly weren't going to get dessert, but when they offer you an apple crustada with maple gelato drizzled with apple cider caramel and then sprinkled with sea salt, what choice do you really have?!? Needless to say we had a wonderful trip and can't wait to go back already!
And then of course I had to bring cheese back in my purse like a werido. But what's really new? It's grana pandano for those of you who are interested.  

Fennel Rosemary Pork Roast

This recipe is adapted from Rachel Ray and it is so yummy! She made it into sandwiches but I love it as a main course with the roasted fennel and onions. Ask your butcher or meat counter man to butterfly a 3-4 pound pork shoulder (aka pork butt roast). I pounded my meat out to about an inch and half thick. I bet if you ask REALLY nicely they will do that for you as well. The meat shrinks up quite a bit so get more than you think you'll need. Even if you get too much, the leftovers are delicious!

3-4 lb pork shoulder, butterflied and pounded out to an inch and half
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1 whole head of garlic, crushed and minced
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, quartered
1 fresh fennel bulb, cored and quartered
1 cup white wine such as Pinto Grigio
In a roasting pan or large baking dish place the onions and fennel bulb, drizzle with some olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Cut three long (about 10 inches) strings of butcher's twine to tie the pork up. Lay the strings horizontally a few inches apart. Lay the pork on top so it's easier to tie once filled. Season the pork with plenty of the salt and pepper. Don't be shy! Drizzle a little olive oil and then pat on the fennel, rosemary and garlic. Roll the pork up with the string, cutting any excess string off. Place the pork on top of the onions and fennel with the fat side up. Always put a fatty meat like this fat side up. It allows all the flavor from the fat to seep into the meat. Drizzle a little bit more olive oil on the pork and season the outside with salt and pepper.

Place in a 375 oven for an hour and then take out the pan and douse with wine. Return pan back to the oven for another hour or hour and half until pork is tender. The internal temperate should be at 145º*. Let the meat rest for at least 20 minutes, tented with foil to keep warm. Slice off string and carve and serve with onions and fennel.

*If you think this is too rare, there are new meat regulations on pork. It will be totally fine and not pink. Ground pork (like most ground meats) should be cooked all the way through, but with a whole cut of meat like this, 145º will be totally fine. The meat keeps cooking while it rests too so don't be worried.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Spicy Chai

Chai is such a fun fall beverage that makes my heart beat fast! I found this recipe on Pintrest but then tweaked it to my liking. I really prefer iced drinks unless it's like 30 degrees or below (which doesn't happen very often in Oklahoma), but this recipe can be warmed in the microwave for per cup service. For a big party, it's nice to put it on the stove warm with milk and let people ladle out their warmed chai.

7 cups boiling water
10 black tea bags
3 tablespoons mulling spices
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
1 vanilla bean pod spilt with seeds removed and added or 2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp red pepper (optional)
1/2 cups brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey

Bring water to a boil in a pot. Once it's boiling, turn off heat and add tea bags, spices and if using vanilla bean pod. Let steep 15 minutes. Strain the mixture and add brown sugar, honey and vanilla extract if using. Pour into a craft or pitcher and let cool. Store in fridge and mix with equal parts milk hot or cold. This recipe typically lasts me a week or so depending how much I indulge during the day :)

Monday, July 30, 2012

Rosemary Lemon Sorbet

Oooooo-wee it's a hot one! Forgive me for sounding like a hill billy but when it's 105 degrees, it just comes out. This however, is a very sophisticated yet simple summer dessert that will cool you off in no time. You'll need an ice cream maker of some sort, however. I have a nice 2 quart Cuisinart one I love (you can check them out online here). It has a bowl you can keep in the freezer so it's always ready to be used, no ice necessary! And it's less than $100.

Feel free to swap out the rosemary for another herb. Thyme would be really nice or even mint.

1 cup fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoon lemon zest
1-2 tablespoon rosemary, minced
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
2 sprigs rosemary

First thing you will do is make a rosemary simple syrup. In a medium sauce pan, put the water and sugar and let it come to a simmer to ensure all the sugar dissolves. Once almost all the sugar is dissolved, put the rosemary sprigs in the sugar water. Turn off the heat and let cool down with the rosemary still in the syrup.

Once the syrup is cooled completely, mix with lemon juice, zest, and minced rosemary. Put in your ice-cream maker and follow the manufactures instructions. Let hard freeze for a few hours and serve.

Stay cool out there friends!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Peach Salad with Caramelized Red Onions & Mozzarella

Oh my oh my! This salad is one of my summer time favorites and since speciality vinegars are wildly available these days, it's a cinch to make. You could add leftover roasted chicken or pork loin and it would be fabulous.

3-4 cups clean greens, whatever your family likes
2-3 fresh peaches, sliced
1/2 cup pearl sized mozzarella balls
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts or pecans
1/2 cup caramelized red onions (recipe to follow)

Peach vinaigrette:
3TLB peach balsamic vinegar or white balsamic
1 small clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 TLB agave nectar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

In a bowl mix vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper, agave and then slowly stream in olive oil while continuing to whisk.

Caramelized red onions:
1/2 of a medium sized red onion, cut in slices
1 TLB olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
1-2 TLB balsamic vinegar

In a small skillet, heat oil for a minute or so on medium high heat. Add sliced onions and salt. Let soften and caramelize for at least 10 minutes. Stir occasionally. Then add the vinegar and lower heat and let cook for 5 or so more minutes.

Assemble the salad:
In a large bowl layer lettuce, peaces, cheese, nuts and onions. Re-whisk dressing and add enough to barely coat. Toss and serve immediately.


Monday, July 23, 2012

Crispy Chicken Halves with Caponata

Hi there long lost friends! I have been MIA for a while but hope to be better about updating my journey in the kitchen. Today we're talking about caponata. Caponata is an Italian condiment of sorts, and every region in Italy has its own version and recipe. I would describe it as a sweet and sour vegetable stew that is delicious and versatile. For this recipe, we're pairing it with a really juicy and tender chicken preparation with an amazing crispy skin. I really prefer using chicken with bones still in it because it helps keep the chicken moist and full of great flavor. It's out of this world!

1 (2-3 lb chicken) halved OR 2 already halves of a whole chicken
1/4 cup soften butter
5-6 fresh thyme sprigs, stripped off stems
1 lemon zested
3 large garlic cloves minced or zested
1-2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon black pepper

1 small to medium eggplant, half the skin removed and cut into cubes
3 stalk celery, chopped
2 bell peppers, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
5-6 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
2 small zucchini, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 generous handful golden raisins
1 3.5 oz jar capers, drained
1 6 oz can tomato paste
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon pepper
10 basil leaves, torn or finely shredded

I know this looks like a lot of stuff but it's super easy once you get going. I believe you can do this!
The key for the caponata is doing everything in layers from hardest veggie to softest and seasoning each layer to fully develop everyones flavor.

In a large dutch oven, coat the bottom of the pan with olive oil and turn the burner on high. First throw in your onions, celery and carrots. Sprinkle in salt and pepper and let veggies sweat until slightly soft. Next throw in your peppers, garlic and zucchini. Season with salt and pepper and let those veggies get soft as well all the while stirring the pot to incorporate everyone. Next add the eggplant and season with salt and pepper and stir into the mix. Let the eggplant get soft and then add tomato paste and enough water to loosen the mixture. It should look very stew like. Add the capers, raisins, vinegar and sugar and let simmer for 20 minutes or longer. At the very end of cooking turn off the heat and add the basil.

For instance, the large pot you're currently cooking your caponata in!
...a large pot like the one cooking your caponata!
For the chicken heat a well seasoned cast iron skillet on high for at least 3-4 minutes or until smoke is coming off the pan. In the meantime, make your compound butter by mashing butter, lemon zest, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper together and generously massaging the birds. Place chicken skin side down in the pan and either use another cast iron skillet or a very heavy pot to weight down the chicken. This is how you will get the golden brown crispy skin that is so delicious.

Preheat your oven to 375 in the meantime. The chicken will cook for about 10 minutes or until the skin is golden. Once the skin looks good, flip the bird over and put the skillet in the oven for about 20 minutes or until a thermometer reads 150 degrees. Pull the chicken out and let rest for at least 5-10 minutes.

Plate with a crusty piece of bread and the caponata and DIG IN!


Monday, February 20, 2012

Broiled Tomato Crostini

This is a total throw together appetizer that I decided to eat for dinner tonight. It's so simple yet so impressive and most of all delicious!

1/2 baguette cut length wise
1 1/2 cup cherry or grape tomatoes cut in half
good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
good pinch of kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp dried thyme (if using fresh, use about 2 tsp)
1 large garlic clove cut in half
2 tablespoons chopped green onion
Parmesan cheese for grating
balsamic reduction for drizzling

Turn your broiler on and line a sheet tray with a foil. Cut all the tomatoes in half and toss with olive oil, salt, pepper and thyme. Place tomatoes in a single layer on one half of the tray. Broil for about 5-10 minutes. Just keep a good eye on them to make sure they don't burn or anything. Once they look yummy and happy, toss the bread on the other half of the tray and leave in there on a few minutes. That bread will burn fast so don't walk away from the oven. Once the bread looks golden brown, place on a platter or plate and rub the garlic clove on the bread. Spoon the tomatoes on top of the bread along with the green onions. Grate some fresh parmesan cheese and drizzle some balsamic reduction on top and BAM you've got dinner or a beautiful appetizer! This is a perfect dinner for one or appetizer for two. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Mexican Quinoa Salad

This is such a tasty and healthy meal that I've made it twice this week! I was inspired by my good friend, Jill Nevard, who is our trainer at work and specializes in healthy eating. This recipe is adapted from a menu item we have at work.

Quinoa (pronounced "keen-wah", just in case you were wondering) is an ancient grain that is a complete protein and gluten free. It is similar to rice, in that it is a blank canvas for flavor. The tangy lime vinaigrette really makes this a winner!

1 lime, juiced & zested
2 TBS agave nectar
1 garlic clove, grated
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt & pepper to taste
This makes a lot of dressing, so normally I just skim off some for a later use. You only need about 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup dressing. 

1 cup quinoa
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 TBS chopped cilantro
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1/2 of a yellow, red or orange bell pepper
1 small jalapeno, diced finely
1 handful of cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half
2 handfuls of greens- spinach, arugula, whatever you like
1 handful of freshly grated white cheddar-optional

Rinse quinoa thoroughly in a fine mesh strainer. Add to the chicken broth in a medium sauce pan. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer, cover and let cook for 15 minutes. Turn of heat and set aside for 5 to 10 minutes and fluff with a fork. While the quinoa cools off a bit, prepare the dressing. Mix the lime zest, juice, agave nectar and garlic together. Whisk in olive oil and add salt and pepper accordingly. Again, if you don't want to use all the dressing, skim some off and save it for another time. Chop the veggies and throw them in a big bowl. Once quinoa is cooled off, add that and mix together. Serve over greens and sprinkle with cheese. Make sure to taste it to see if it needs more salt or more dressing.

This recipe serves about 4 people. You can bulk it up even more with grilled chicken or flank steak would be delicious too. Also, add whatever veggies you like! Some black beans or roasted corn would be really good in this dish as well. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


I love really, it's deep love for them. So I will share this fusion of a recipe with you so you can be loved because of your margaritas! I basically blended a skinny margarita with a beer margarita and the baby they made is UH-MAZING :)

1 cup of FRESH lime juice
1/4 cup agave nectar
1 cup cold water
1 cup 100% agave silver tequila
1 mexican beer

Certainly adjust these measurement according to your taste. If you like a sweeter drink, add more agave, if you like it stronger in the liquor department, add more tequila! I really love how the mexican beer cuts through the tartness of the margarita. 

Grab a glass, lime and salt the rim and ENJOY! 

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Fresh Salsa

I love salsa. It's one of my absolute favorite condiments ever! But, it must be made right. I have a couple of different salsa recipes I make. This one is of the fresh tomato variety. Normally, in the dead of winter, I would be making salsa with canned tomatoes. I found lovely fresh tomatoes at SAM's Club the other day that taste almost as good as home grown! Here is basically all that you need to make this delicious dip...

Isn't that pretty?! This recipe is a taste and see, which means, the numbers aren't exact. If you like more garlic, add more. If you don't like cilantro that much, don't add as much. If you are wimp and don't like spice, cut back on the peppers. If you like it unbelievably spicy, have your husband make the salsa and forget to mention he only needs to use 2 jalapeños and he'll use the entire bag in the fridge because he's helpless (true story). Basically, just add a bunch of junk in the food processor and see what happens :)

10 small on the vine tomatoes, cut in quarters
1 whole lime, zested and juiced
2 big garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 good handful of cilantro
two good pinches of kosher salt
1-2 fresh jalapeños, deseeded and roughly chopped

Zest is the colored part of any citruis. Use a Microplane, like the one pictured above to add that really lime-y flavor that we are going for.  Place all items in food processor and let it rip! This salsa is on the thinner side, but if you like it more chunky, just pulse your food processor until desired consistency. Taste with a tortilla chip and see if it needs anything. 

Don't mind my red alien hand...

Stay tuned for my FAMOUS margaritas. Ole! 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Power Smoothies

Hello all! Here is another healthy recipe, but it's so tasty you won't even know that it's good for you! (I hope!) I make these smoothies for breakfast often and they keep me very full and satisfied throughout the morning. They have ground flax seed in them, which I got in the bulk section of Whole Foods. Flax is super good for you and packed full of fiber. You have to grind flax seed up, though, for your body to absorb the nutrients properly. I just grind them up in my little coffee grinder for a minute and they are ready to go. Also, I use the protein packed, non-fat greek yogurt to give this breakfast a little substance.

You will need a blender! Here is mine that my wonderful hubby got me for my birthday this past year. Some would say, "A blender? For a birthday gift? Isn't that offensive?" NO! I love it and he knew my passion for making smoothies and other various beverages (especially of the adult form) in these magical machines :)

1.5-2 cups frozen fruit
1 cup 100% juice
handful of fresh spinach
6oz tub of non fat flavored greek yogurt
1 tablespoon ground flax seed

Toss all of the goodies in the blender and let it whirl! The frozen fruit acts as the ice, so if you use fresh fruit, you'll need to use a handful of ice. If you don't know how to make ice, stop reading this blog please. :) I will say that this smoothie is pretty tart, which I love, but if you like your's sweeter use apple juice instead of orange and change up which fruits you use. Bananas have a lot of sugar in them, so they would be great in this. I know it may seem weird to add fresh spinach in a smoothie, but it is an excellent way to add veggies and not compromise the taste. Promise!

You'll have to excuse my pictures, by the way. I am a work in progress here and refuse my husband's help since I want to be an independent woman. If you know my husband, you know he's kind of a perfectionist and I am not at all. All of these photos were taken either at 5:30am or 9:30pm. I promise I will get better at the picture aspect of this whole blogging thing.

Enjoy your smoothies, party people!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Green Pasta Salad

If you are like me, you make mental or actual lists in your head of new habits you plan to start at the beginning of the year. It seems winter normally makes me super lazy and I typically fall off the "health wagon". So here is a great pasta salad recipe that is healthy, easy and super tasty! I love make a big batch of salad like this that can be lunch for work the next day, a side option, or even a light dinner. I'm using broccoli, fennel and edamame as my green veggies, but really use whatever you like! I also am using whole wheat pasta because it's so good for you and has lots of good fiber. Speaking of fiber, did you know that most Americans don't get nearly enough fiber daily? We are suppose to consume at least 25grams per day, and most of us only consume 10-15 grams. Anyway, I hope you enjoy this delicious recipe!

1 box of whole wheat rotini (or any other short pasta)
2 cups broccoli florets
1 cup frozen shelled edamame (aka shelled soy beans)
1/2 cup chopped fennel (it's sorta like celery, but shaped like a bulb and more flavorful)
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts

1/2 cup italian parsley (basically a good handful)
1 cup fresh basil (a really good handful-I'm so exact huh?)
2 small cloves of fresh garlic-roughly chopped
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp black pepper
1/4 cup freshly grated (and REAL) parmesan cheese
1/2-1 cup olive oil

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, salt water heavily and add pasta. In the meantime, have a large bowl of ice water near by. Add the broccoli florets for one minute to the pasta water (yes, with the pasta in it) and then use a large slotted spoon to fetch the broccoli out and place in ice water. This method is called blanching. Drain broccoli and throw in a large mixing bowl. Once pasta is almost done, add the edamame. Drain pasta and edamame together and rinse under cold water and then throw that in the broccoli mixing bowl. Toast pine nuts in a very small skillet over medium, shaking the pan frequently. They burn easily, so once you can smell them, they are done. Add them to the mixing bowl as well.

For the pesto, get your handy food processor out and add all the ingredients except the olive oil. Pop the top on and through the feed tube, slowly drizzle your oil in while the processor is whirling. You may not need all the oil or you may need a little more. You just want a nice, sauce like consistency.

Pour the pesto sauce over the pasta mixture and mix well. Taste to see if it needs more salt (remember, you can always add salt, you can't take away!) or pepper. I sometimes like to squeeze a little more fresh lemon juice too if it needs it.

Serve just like that, or over some fresh greens to boost up your veggies for that day. Some sliced tomatoes or even grape tomatoes would be lovely as well! Salute!