Thursday, April 28, 2016

Swiss Patty Melts

I am (a self-declared) queen of burgers. It's my favorite non-Korean food, probably because it's the one non-Korean food my mom made, and it's definitely the meal I make most come summertime because hello, grill and burger are BFF. My ultimate favorite is probably my stacked burger because it's so decadent and humongous and just gorgeous to look at but, the brioche bun is a bit of a pain to make (mostly because waiting for the dough to rise isn't a fun activity for an impatient hungry person). So, on the opposite end of the spectrum, I like to grab storebought rye bread and throw together swiss patty melts, which are technically a sandwich but not a burger (a burger is a sandwich, but a sandwich is not a burger) but they've got the beef patty and that's the most important part. They're quite quick, really delicious but simple, and because I'm me, I still manage to incorporate a grill into the mix.
Ingredients [serves 4]:
1½ lbs. ground beef
2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon + 2 tablespoons butter
4 oz. baby bella mushrooms, sliced
½ onion, sliced
8 slices rye bread
4 slices swiss cheese

Monday, April 25, 2016

Spiced Lamb Kofta Kebabs

This post is the accompaniment to Friday's Israeli couscous post. It shows the rest of the meal and I have to say, this was a really delicious, summer-appropriate dinner. It involved the grill, the plates were colorful, and it didn't leave me feeling guilty for gorging like a greedy pig.

As I was editing the photos for this post, I realized that the kofte kebabs look a little turd-like; I apologize for the graphic descriptor. But these were delicious, so please don't let their appearance deter you from reading on. It's not like I personally chose this shape. Every kofte kebab I've ever had has been a sausage-y log-like shape so I'm just following tradition here.
Ingredients [serves 4]:
1 lb. ground lamb
3 slices bacon
10 to 15 sprigs parsley
3 cloves garlic
1 sprig rosemary, stripped
zest of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
½ teaspoon ground mustard
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper

+ lemon & parsley couscous
+ tzatziki
+ roasted chickpeas

Friday, April 22, 2016

Israeli Couscous with Lemon & Parsley

First things first, Happy Earth Day! I've been really making an effort in the past few years to be kinder to Mother Earth. Firstly, I've been cutting back on my meat consumption; I do my best to maintain a plant-based diet for breakfast and lunch and only indulge in meat during dinners. The meat industry requires lots of energy and water and produces a lot of waste so even though it's not a huge sacrifice on my part, it is a step in the right direction. I also recently purchased a composter so that I could put food scraps to good use instead of letting them take up unnecessary space in our already disgusting landfills. I only wash my hair twice a week, take navy showers in the summer, and I rely on rain to water the lawn (who really cares if it gets a little yellow here and there?).

Anyway, in honor of Earth Day, I'm keeping it really simple and using some really nice, fresh ingredients to add some oomph to a bowl of Israeli couscous.

I typically make Israeli couscous with lots of vegetables but on this particular occasion, it was meant to be a subtle side dish for kebabs so I just used a little lemon, parsley, and olive oil and ended up loving the result. It was bright and delicious, but a neutral enough flavor that it didn't compete with the super flavorful main (which I'll posting soon). And, it was good enough that I decided it was worth sharing. It isn't a novel idea by any means, but hey, this is my blog; I can share what I want.
Ingredients [serves 4]:
1 tablespoon + 1 tablespoon olive oil
½ onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup Israeli couscous
1 cup chicken stock
zest of 1 lemon
juice of ½ lemon
2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Rainbow Chicken Salad

I feel like I should be sharing something more appropriate for curing the munchies today (you know, because it's 420). But instead, I have a pretty healthy, really delicious chicken salad that seems completely suited for the amazing sunny weather we've been having lately. When the weather starts to warm up, I start craving crunchy vegetables and bright, colorful foods and this totally fits the bill.
Ingredients [serves 4]:
chicken salad
1 lb. bone-in chicken thighs
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
3 baby cucumbers, sliced
¼ red onion, sliced
¼ cup sun dried tomatoes, chopped
¼ cup dried cranberries
½ lb. green beans, chopped
½ cup corn
½ green peas
1 yellow squash, chopped
½ cup cooked quinoa
zest of 1 lemon
juice of 1 lemon
¼ cup pesto

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, sliced
½ cup quinoa
½ cup chicken stock

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

What I Ate: Lasagne Bolognese

I made this lasagne bolognese back on the first day of spring. It was an inappropriately chilly day, which wasn't the worst thing in the world because I figured it just gave us one last go at comfort food before we settled into the healthy salads and smoothies of summer.

I've been loving my pasta roller more and more these days. I've gotten pretty good at making the dough quickly (done in 5 minutes) and I've gotten a lot better at rolling the dough out.
To make this a more spring-appropriate recipe, I added lots of fresh herbs. I added a generous amount of basil to the bechamel, lots of fresh parsley to the bolognese and the ricotta, and I finished the top of the lasagne with chopped parsley and basil.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Seared Duck Breast with Strawberry Balsamic Reduction

I'm off to take an exam this morning - trying to be ambitious and further my career and all that jazz - so wish me luck. And I thought I would share this amazing dinner in that it'll give me some extra good vibes.

This was actually our Easter dinner. I was feeling uninspired at the market; the roasts and lamb just didn't look that appealing. Then, I spotted duck breasts and thought I'd make a French-inspired meal. It turned out pretty delicious and it made me miss Lyon and Nice.
Ingredients [serves 2 to 4]:
seared duck breast
2 duck breasts
3 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper

strawberry balsamic reduction
½ pink strawberries
2 teaspoons honey
1½ tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1½ tablespoons white rum
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon olive oil

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

What I Ate: Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup

Is there a lunch more ideal than a pesto grilled cheese and tomato soup? Even though the weather is warming up, spring is also notorious for its rainstorms. Soup and a sandwich are perfect for a rainy afternoon.
And is there any excuse to have melty cheese on anything?

Friday, April 8, 2016

What I Ate: Lemon Cake with Berries & Cream

My papa scored some amazingly delicious strawberries in the middle of March. I don't know how, but they were better than fresh picked summer berries. As a few of them were getting too overripe, I decided to slice them up and plop them onto a cake. I used my white cake recipe but added lots of lemon zest and substituted the vinegar with lemon juice.
It was sublime.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

What I Ate: Steak Frites

There are some days where you just want to indulge. On this particular day, I was planning on making mashed potatoes but we had a cast iron skillet full of shortening (from a previous frying session) and thought hey, why not make steak frites?
This was a v. satisfying meal. I also whipped up a quick spicy truffle aioli by adding garlic, cayenne, and a few drops of black truffle oil to my mayonnaise recipe.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Spiced & Roasted Sweet Potato & Chickpea Salad

This is my new favorite lunch. It's simple, part of it can be made ahead of time, and it's such a feel good dish.

I've really been making a conscious effort to eat better lately. Every time I say that, I make a disclaimer that me trying to be healthy does not mean that I deny myself any of the epicurean pleasures in life. And it's still true. This salad is the quintessential example of this though. It's so good for you, but it's super delicious and does not taste like a denial meal at all. That being said, I am someone that loves vegetables and bright, colorful foods and that is why I love this dish. This isn't the type of meal that will trick your tastebuds into thinking you're enjoying a honking huge burger. It's meant to be healthy, meant to taste healthy, but still be delicious.

Honestly, if you're not keen on healthy eating, it's likely because you're not used to it. I thank the stars that mum forced vegetables into our diet constantly because it means that I crave them and a meal without veg makes me feel sad and sick. That being said, the human body is meant to live on a balanced diet and I think that the more you eat good food, the more your body will crave it and your mind will crave it too because you'll learn how good it makes you feel.

Okay, let me hop off of my soap box (especially because my next queued post is steak frites, which is basically a lard bomb of a meal) and let's get onto the recipe, shall we?
Ingredients [serves 6]:
1 cup dried chickpeas
1 tablespoon baking soda
2 lbs. sweet potatoes
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoons + 1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons + 1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon + ½ teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon + ½ teaspoon cumin
2 teaspoons + 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon + ½ teaspoon crushed pepper flakes
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon ground mustard
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 lemon
+ 4 cups arugula
+ 8 sun dried tomatoes, chopped
+ 2 oz. feta, crumbled
+ ¼ cup dried cranberries

Friday, April 1, 2016

Lemon Ricotta Calzone

I misjudged how much ricotta I would need for my ravioli. So, I had two cups of ricotta and only needed one for the pasta. I wasn't sure of what to do with the remaining. I couldn't just spread it on toast because it already had egg mixed in. So, I took a little inspiration from Ben Wyatt (of Parks & Recreation) and made some calzones.

To be clear, these probably would not fit in at the 'Low Cal Calzone Zone' but they're delicious and I think Ben would approve. "Pizza? Never heard of it."
Ingredients [yields 6 small calzones]:
½ batch pasta dough
1 cup lemon ricotta
1 egg
1 clove garlic, minced
3 sage leaves, finely chopped
½ cup grated asiago
1 teaspoon pepper
1 cup grated mozzarella
4 sun dried tomatoes, chopped
¼ cup sausage, cooked & crumbled
½ cup arugula, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
+ marinara sauce
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