Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Butternut Squash "Fries"


So on this new restricted diet you're only allowed to consume certain things and after a while the cravings for all the sugary and savory goodnesses that you are no longer able to be eat subside and you don't really miss them. 

No seriously I swear it's true. 

But last week I had suffered through about three different meals where the person I was out with had french fries, and pretzels and all manner of snickysnacks, which are a no-no.
So, I asked my food-guru what I was able to have as a treat when I was seriously craving something salty with a crunch. She gave me some parameters to work within and this is what I came up with. 

The key to this recipe is cooking the butternut squash on parchment paper. Not exactly sure why, but it always seems to come out better when the squash is baked in a pan lined with parchment paper. 

Ingredients:

1 cup of cut butternut squash 
- try to keep the pieces as uniform as possible to keep them cooking at the same rate- 
1 tbsp. olive oil 
1/2 tsp. garlic powder 
1/4 tsp. Italian herbs mix
1/2 tsp. black truffle oil
Sea salt & pepper to taste 




Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. 

Cut your squash into pieces. 

Mix together the olive oil, garlic powder, truffle oil, and italian herbs mix in a bowl. 

Add your cut butternut squash and coat it thoroughly with the mixture. 

Spread out your butternut squash on a parchment paper lined roasting pan. 

Season with sea salt and black pepper to taste. 

Roast in the oven for 15-17 minutes. 

If you want a little more crunch, let it cook for up to 20-23 minutes but be careful to watch it to prevent it from burning. 

Eat and enjoy! 

Remember this portion size is intended to be an individual snack per person. If you intend to make this for a group, then  simply multiply the recipe, times the number of individuals you will be serving. 

Monday, April 29, 2013

Baked Shrimp in my Poppy Ginger Dressing


Ingredients: 
- 14 oz. package of precooked shrimp

- 1 tsp. chives
- 1 tsp. chopped ginger
 - 1/2 tsp. of Mustard Pommery or any other whole-grain mustard
- 1/2 tsp. Poppy Seeds 
- 1/4 tsp. Black Pepper
- 1/4 tsp Dark Chili Powder
- 1/4 tsp. Paprika 
- 1/4 tsp. Black Yruffle Oil 
- 2 tbsp. Apple Cider Vinegar  
- Sea Salt to taste 
(I use a sea salt grinder and turned it 5 times) 



Prior to cooking, make sure your shrimp is completely defrosted. 
If you are pressed for time, place your shrimp into a colander and run cold water over it for about a half an hour to quickly defrost shrimp taken from the freezer. 


Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. 

Mix your dry ingredients (chives, poppy seeds, chili powder, black pepper, salt and paprika)  with the mustard and ginger in a bowl.

Then add the truffle oil and the apple cider vinegar. 

Mix well.  


Take your defrosted shrimp and add it to your dressing being sure to thoroughly coat the shrimp. 

If you want to intensify the flavors, you can prepare this ahead of time and allow the shrimp to marinate in the dressing in the refrigerator before cooking. 

Take a piece of parchment paper and line your baking dish. 

Spread out the shrimp on the parchment paper.


Cook for 5-7 minutes. 

Be careful not to over cook the shrimp since it is already pre-cooked you don't want to have it become rubbery. 


I served mine over my mediterranean cole slaw recipe with some roasted asparagus. 

This dressing is also delicious on grilled chicken or shrimp kebabs. If you'd like it to be spicy, simply add 1/4 tsp. of hot pepper flakes to the dressing. 

If you intend to use this recipe for a marinade I would suggest you double the recipe. 

My Mediterranean Coleslaw Recipe




Ingredients: 

- 1/2 Red Cabbage 
- 2 Cucumbers peeled, seeds removed and cubed
- 2 tsp. chopped ginger
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp. dried dill weed 
- 1/2 tsp. coriander
- 1/2 tsp. cumin 
- 1/2 tsp. paprika 
- 1/4 tsp. turmeric
 - Sea Salt & Pepper to taste 
- 1/3 Cup of Apple Cider Vinegar 



Cut up your cabbage into bite sized pieces. 



Peel your cucumbers, cut off the ends and slice it in two. Take a spoon and run it down the center of each of the halves to remove the seeds. Cut the cucumber into slices and then cube them. 
Place into a bowl together.



Mix the rest of the ingredients into the apple cider vinegar to make your dressing. Be sure to thoroughly mix the dry ingredients to avoid clumping.  

Pour the dressing over the cabbage and the cucumber. 

Mix well & enjoy. 



Saturday, April 27, 2013

Basil Egg Whites with Tomato Salad and Pan Fried Brussels Sprouts


Egg White Scramble with Pesto: 

- Egg Whites (I use 3-4) 
- 1 Cup of Basil thoroughly chopped  

Mix chopped basil into the egg whites - mix well. 
Spray your non-stick pan with olive oil. 
Cook for 3-4 minutes. 


Sometimes I will add a single clove of garlic to the chopped basil. 
I used the same recipe for the tomato salad as I did in my previous post, just scaled down. 

Pan fried Brussels Sprouts:

-10 oz. of brussels sprouts cut into quarters
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil (1/2 teaspoon) 
- Sea salt & black pepper to taste
- Dash of Paprika

Cut the bottoms off of the brussels sprouts and then into quarters. 
Heat the pan over medium heat.
Add brussels sprouts, sprinkle or spray your  olive oil over the brussels sprouts.
Add paprika, sea salt and black pepper. 
Continue to cook your brussel sprouts intermittently for 5-7 minutes.  




Friday, April 19, 2013

Salmon with Mango Salsa, Rethinking Breakfast



Recently I've had to undergo a minor change in diet, partially for health reasons and partially for vanity's sake. Either way, there are some pretty heavy restrictions placed on what I can and cannot eat. It's taken a little time for me to become accustomed to cooking within those restrictions. However, I always enjoy a challenge and have found that it has made me become a great deal more creative in what foods I consume, when I consume them, and how I prepare them.  

For example, I have never been a particularly big "breakfast girl".

Brunch? 
Hell yes. 

Boozy brunch? 
Even better. 

But the idea of getting up in the morning and eating a FULL meal has never been particularly palatable to me. 
(pun totally intended)

With the new dietary restrictions and instructions, I've had to force myself to eat greater quantities, with greater nutritional value, earlier in the day then I have been accustomed to.  

I'd rather spend the thirty minutes it would take me to prepare, cook and eat breakfast; sleeping in, picking out an outfit, or styling my hair. It seems that as with all things, preparation is the key to success in this venture.

So I've been preparing my more -hearty- breakfasts the night before. 

My favorite recipe that I've come up with so far is roasted salmon, with a mango blood orange salsa. 


The Salsa: 

1 Mango sliced and quartered 
2 Small blood oranges / 1 large blood orange 
1/2 Small red onion
Fresh cilantro
Salt & Pepper 


-Shred/cut your cilantro into small pieces and place into the mixing bowl-

-Take one of the blood oranges, cut it in half, squeeze the juice from that blood orange over the cilantro- 

-Cut the mango, mix into the bowl- 

-Take the other blood orange, slice it and cut it into small bite sized pieces and add it to the salsa- 

-Cut your red onion into small pieces and add it to your mixture- 

-season with Salt & Pepper to taste- 

Roasted Salmon: 

Salmon Fillet(s) 
Thyme 
1 Lemon
Olive Oil 

-Preheat your oven to 350 degrees- 

-Line your baking sheet with aluminum foil-

-Rinse your Salmon fillet(s) and pat it dry- 

-Cut the lemon in half and squeeze fresh lemon juice over your fillet(s)- 

-Rub a small amount of olive oil over your fillet(s)- 

The size of your fillet will determine how much oil you need to use. For an individual portion size  you could need as little as a 1/2 teaspoon depending on the size. For a larger piece (2-3 lbs) you could need up to three tablespoons of olive oil. Use your discretion. 

-Sprinkle with thyme- 

-Roast in the oven for 20-30 minutes. Estimate that for every inch of thickness you will need at least 20-25 minutes depending on your oven- 

-Remove from the oven and allow to cool for at least 5-10 minutes- 

Top with Salsa and enjoy! 

I have also used other types of fish with this recipe and served it on a bed of spinach greens for lunch. Once you mix it, the juice and flavor from the salsa serves as a dressing for your salad. 

Just be careful to cook thinner fish fillets for a shorter amount of time or you will have a dry and leathery piece of meat that is not appetizing in the least. 



It hasn't been all roses and champagne. When the lovely lady who is helping me transform my diet told me what I was limited to the only thought running through my head was, "You have got to be kidding me." 

As I said earlier, it has taken a while to get used to cooking within the restrictions but I'm starting to get the hang of it and I should be updating more regularly now. 

Ta-ta for now! 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Cream of Mushroom Soup






Fat. 
I added about 1/2 a teaspoon of duck fat to the mushrooms and onions when I thought the mushrooms were getting too soggy. I abhor it when mushrooms get so soggy you don't even know what they are anymore. Duck fat is a great searing agent. 
A butcher recommended using duck fat as a  substitute for butter or olive oil when cooking to add a "richer" flavor. It's 20% lower in saturated fat than regular butter. 
 (At the end I also added one teaspoon of Black Truffle Butter to the "finished" soup to infuse the soup with a little truffle flavoring)







Spice Bundle, Sage, Thyme, Oregano
Ingredients: 
- 1 lb of mushrooms sliced
- 1/4 cup of butter ( I substituted this for 2 tablespoons of olive oil and then the duck fat to sear the mushrooms later) 
- 2 yellow onions 
- 3 cloves of garlic 
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour 
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 1 cup of light cream or whole milk; 
I've even made this with goat milk, but if you're going to do that I would suggest, 1/2 a cup of goat milk and 1/2 a cup of skim milk.
-Thyme, sage, oregano
-Salt & Pepper 

1. Prep work: Slice the mushrooms, chop the onions, mince your garlic

2. Melt your butter/ add your olive oil, in your pot  over medium heat and cook the onion, garlic, and herbs for about 1-2 minutes do not allow the onions to brown. 

3. Add the mushrooms before the garlic begins to brown (gold is good, brown is bad) 

4. Cook for 3-4 minutes stirring occasionally
Add flour and cook for 1-2 minutes 

5. Remove from heat 

6. Add the stock stirring continuously, place back over the heat and bring to a boil stirring intermittently

7. Reduce the heat once the pot begins to boil and allow to simmer for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally 

8. Whisk in the cream at a low heat and allow it to cook on low for 2-3 minutes 
DO NOT BOIL 

9. Season with salt & pepper 

10. Serve    

Easter Tablescapes and Floral Arrangements


So this year we had Easter for our extended family and I was in charge of the tables, flowers, and general ambiance. I went a little overboard with the flowers I got from the supermarket but I had so much fun arranging them. 

It started out as a bit of a hot mess, 



but in the end it all came together quite nicely. 



I ended up making nine arrangements using hydrangea, roses, tea roses, wax flowers, tulips, snapdragons, hyacinths (which smell AMAZING), and some lilies. 


The formal "adult" table  I accented with nests I found at this adorable little boutique near us, which I filled with pears and Easter eggs. To keep the table from looking too formal and make it a little "sweeter" I left bunny butter cookies that I spruced up with a pink ribbon on each bread plate. 

I also found these adorable beeswax votive candles in the shape of an Easter chick. 






The other two tables were also decorated but primarily using pastels instead of the richer colors of the formal table. 






A hyacinth bouquet for the powder room. 



I was also in charge of the appetizers/antipasto but with all the running around I didn't take a moment to photograph it except for the hard boiled quail eggs that I prepared. They caught my eye in the supermarket and were so eye catching that I wanted to find a way to include them in the festivities. 


I hope you had a wonderful holiday!