Tuesday, May 26, 2009

You Can't Beet This Salad!

Did you hate beets as a child?
Well, I was strange and loved them. Basically, I loved most foods that kids hated. For instance, at age three my favorite pizza topping was olives. It gives me hope that one day I will have a child that will beg for healthy food and boycott chicken nuggets and fish sticks. My parenting philosophy is defined by this concept.

Anyway, if you hated beets this recipe might just change your mind. We made it Monday night and thought it was amazing. Fresh, light but avocado made it filling. If you are serving more than two please double recipe.

Simple Avocado Beet Napaleon Salad

1 avocado, sliced long
6 baby roasted beets or 2 large beets
1 lemon, juiced
1 cup fresh pea shoots, roughly chopped (got them at kroger)
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt and 1 tsp black pepper

*May try next time with balsmatic vinegar*

Slice baby beets about 1/4 inch thick. Slice avocados to about the same thickness. Slice a few in half-keep a few long. Drizzle 1 Tbsp lemon juice on avocado. Set beets and avocado aside. Rough chop pea shoots. Set the sprouted (leafed) ends aside.Place the hard stalk ends in a small bowl. Add the olive oil, lemon juice or vinegar, salt and pepper to the stalk pea shoots bowl. Mix well. Place a few of the marinated stalks on serving plates.Arrange avocado and beet slices on top of stalks on plates. Rotate beet, avocado, beet, avocado. Add all the remaining pea shoots-stuff and drizzle the leftover oil-acid mixture over the salads.
*Taken from the Healthy.Happy. Life blog! *

Monday, May 25, 2009

Eating in the Raw...

For a couple of years I have been fascinated with the concept of eating raw. We have a juicer
and try to make fresh vegatable juices on a regular basis. I love nuts and berries and veggies. I have tried eating raw til noon. I have eaten raw til dinner... and I have tried an all day raw diet.

So what does a raw diet mean? (This is taken from a raw foodist's blog)
What are raw foods?
Raw foods are foods that have not been heated above 118 degrees.

Why eat raw?
You’ve all probably heard the basic claim: heating food above 118 degrees destroys the natural enzymes in the food. We raw foodists maintain that keeping those enzymes intact makes a dramatic contribution to digestive health—and therefore to our energy and health.More efficient digestion means more energy for other bodily functions: cell repair, physical and mental activity, and immune function. This is why raw foodists so often claim to feel tons of energy. It’s also why they often notice the sudden absence of common health complaints, from mental fog to acne to routine colds. When we digest and assimilate food optimally, our bodies have the energy and capacity to be active, to recover from physical exertion (athletes, this means you!) and to maintain a tough immune system.

Could I be a raw foodist? Absolutely not! I think like everything else, you need variety. Variety and moderation. I do think that you gain more from foods uncooked and I have more energy and feel less bloated when I eat this way but sometimes a gal needs a steak... or salmon... or cupcakes... or a fahita and margarita (thank you for lunch today, B :))! So, try out eating raw for a meal or two or maybe a day...

Here are some fun raw recipes I have been playing with:

Raw Granola Bars
1/4 cup almond butter
1/4 to 1/2 cup honey
1/8 cup coconut or olive oil
1/8 cup flax seed, ground
1.5 cups oats
1/2 cup Go Lean Cereal
1/2 cup mixed almonds, cashews, pumpkin seeds, cranberries

Mix wet and dry ingredients in bowl, pat onto baking sheet and freeze. I cut into chunks and keep in freezer. *Different from store bought. Must be eaten out of refrigerator at once or will fall apart* Also, play around with the ingredients based on your likes and dislikes.
Spinach Kale Avocado Salad
1 cup spinach
1 cup kale
1/4 cup greek yogurt
1 minced garlic clove
1/2 lemon, juiced
salt and pepper to taste
Massage spinach and kale with one mashed avocado, greek yogurt and garlic.
Add juice of half a lemon and salt and pepper to taste.

Quinoa Salad
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup chopped tomatoe
1 chopped cucumber
2 scallions, chopped
1 minced garlic clove
Juice of one lemon
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup quinoa soaked in hot water (not cooked) 3 hrs

Mix all ingredients and refrigerate for 1 hour. Serve at room temperature.

Almond Butter Fiber Shake
This is my FAVORITE lunch after yoga!
1 frozen banana
1 scoop of almond butter
1/2 to 1 cup of soy milk
1/2 cup Kashi Go Lean Fiber Cereal
Mix in blender with ice. *Best served in stainless steel coffee mug with straw*

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Lessons Learned Today...

1. I can accomplish a hell of a lot when I am under deadline. This weekend is one of those times.
2. What goes up must come down. A day of manic is followed by a half a day of zombie that requires too much coffee.
3. Pressure Washing does not equal instant gratification and should be avoided by the impatient, the obsessive compulsive or the perfectionist.
4. Never, I say never, paint in your favorite yoga pants.
5. I am always happier when clean.

*Written after 6 cups of coffee, 5 hours of pressure washing, 2 hours of painting, 30 minute shower and one memorial of very cute yoga pants. Sorry, I am too pooped for chicken or anything else that requires cooking. All food must be in form of liquid... I think I will resort to my new strawberry, green tea shake. *

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Saturday Night Fridge Clean Out

Yes, it is Saturday night and I am cleaning out my refrigerator. With a pending move and the house on the market at the end of the week, I am using every moment. So far today I have emptied all closets, packed up my winter items, purged five bags of clothes and three bags of shoes (GASP). I also painted porch furniture, pressure washed patio and walked seven miles. I am a woman of accomplishment that is VERY HUNGRY.

I have made up two very good treats today playing a little game I like to call: Make Do With What You Have.

1. Strawberry Green Tea Shake
I am convinced that this is my new favorite energy, hunger ending drink. I brewed an especially strong cup of green tea (2 bags) added honey to taste and then mixed in blender with ice, frozen strawberries and a scoop of plain yogurt. So refreshing and the protein in the yogurt was filling.

2. Asparagus, Red Pepper and Goat Cheese Salad
Luckily, my fridge ALWAYS has produce and good cheese... even if it is scrounging time. I boiled pasta in water with salt and EVOO. When almost done I added chopped asparagus and cooked until pasta was cooked, yet firm. I drained and while hot added half a sleeve of goat cheese, salt, pepper, juice of one lemon and cut roasted red pepper. After 30 minutes in the fridge it was such a yummy, make-do dinner!

*Scott is biased but he said that the salad was the best pasta salad he had ever had. I am just saying...*

Friday, May 22, 2009

Sweet Rewards in the Nations Capital...

This week I was in DC for two job interviews (finger, toes and stitches crossed, PLEASE!) so lots of chaos but no chicken... well, none that I have prepared anyway. I did manage to check out some old and new favorite culinary troves in the capital city...

I arrived in town on Tuesday night and met my highschool friend and her husband at a Dupont Circle restaurantnear the hotel called Lauriol Plaza (pictured to the left)where I had a great Margarita and guacamole. The weather was great so we sat outside.

Later, Scott and I wandered around the U Street area and Dupont Circle. We stopped one of our favorite places, KramerBooks and Afterwards Cafe. What a great place! They have a full menu and full bar in addition to their coffee and pastries... and it is ALWAYS packed! On our way back to the hotel we grabbed one more appetizer and glass of wine at a cute neighborhood bistro, Rosemary Thyme where I really wish I would have ordered a lamb dish but instead settled for hummus. I was slightly disappointed.

On Wednesday, I had appointments at 9:00 a.m. and 3:30 with lots of time to explore in between. My first stop was a wonderful bakery and cafe on Wisconsin Avenue in Georgetown called Patisserie Poupon where I had an AMAZING almond croissant and a perfectly dry cappachino. I really could have everything in their case but self control, my friends, self control. I also was very proud of myself for not stopping in Georgetown Cupcake or Hello Cupcake. (I say proud but they were really all I could think about on the ride home.)
After a little retail research (I was interviewing for a job to promote the Georgetown businesses) I headed back to my hotel and off to my last interview.

I met Scott when I was done for one last culinary DC adventure before hitting the road. This time we picked an old favorite, Brasserie Beck, where they have somewhere close to 500 different beers. We enjoyed a couple of lagers and split a goat cheese and lamb sandwich and frites ( I mean, they are not bad for you if they are not pronounced fries... right?).What an
amazing and caloric end to a very promising, productive and sweet DC visit...

Now, I sit and daydreaming about those cupcakes waiting for the next interview...

See you soon, DC... very soon!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

More from the Luau...

Well... I am packing up Jess's food and sending her on her way to the makings of a yummy party. I love how the Key Lime Squares turned out! (See to the left)

Also on the menu:
Fruit and Chicken, Fish, Steak Kabobs
Coconut Crab Dip (see previous entry)
Melon, Asparagus, Procuitto Salad (see previous entry)
Margarita Cake with Coconut (see previous entry, add cup of coconut: half in cake, half to icing)
Pinapple Spread (see previous entry)
Key Lime Squares (see previous entry)

and finally... my new favorite salsa recipe:

Mango Lime Salsa
1 ripe mango, peeled, pitted, and diced (about 1 1/2 cup)
1/2 medium red onion, finely chopped
1 Jalapeño chile, minced
1 small cucumber, peeled and diced (about 1 cup)
3 Tbsp fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
3 Tbsp fresh lime juice

Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl. Season to taste with saltand pepper. If the salsa ends up being a little too hot or acidic for our taste, you can temper it by adding some diced avocado.

I am heading to take care of my sick mom and cannot be there for the festivities but congrats my dear friend, I am proud of you! Love you!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Tonight's Specials Are...

Stuffed Salmon & Grilled Asparagus and Melon Salad

... and a little BirdMan Wine!
Who needs a restaurant when you have your house?
What a yummy dinner on my patio. After several hours of yard work, it was a perfect dinner outside. Plus, I got to test out the salad recipe that I will use on the Graduation Luau Menu.

With a mix of cantaloupe and prosciutto, the salad was sweet and savory... add some green (asparagus) and white (Parmesano reggianno) and the dish was beautiful.

I found some amazingly pink wild sockeye salmon at the grocery store and stuffed with goat cheese, sun dried tomatoes and served with a garlic spinach.

No Cupcake Wine at the store so I chose BirdMan that was very earthy with grapefruit undertones... very good but if I were choosing for this dish again I would pick the Cupcake... A girl does love her Cupcake.

At the end of the night I had a surprise visit from my good friend, LB... celebrating her birthday with neighborhood visits. You know if I would have known she was coming I would have had cake. Cheesecake. Oh no... now I want cheesecake. I guess I will have my share at the Luau Party.

Grilled Asparagus and Melon Salad
2 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto
1 pound asparagus, trimmed
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 small melon (about 12 ounces), peeled, seeded and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
Shaved Parmesean

Place an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the prosciutto in a
single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes
until crispy. Drain on paper towels. Chop the prosciutto into 1/4-inch

Place a grill pan over medium-high heat or preheat a gas or charcoal
grill. In a medium bowl, toss together the asparagus and 2 teaspoons
olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Grill for 2 to 3 minutes each
side until crisp-tender. Cut into 1/2 inch sections on an angle

In a medium bowl, combine the lemon juice and 2 tablespoons olive oil.
Whisk until combined. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Add the
melon, asparagus and Parmesan cheese and toss until all ingredients are
combined.Drizzle any remaining vinaigrette over the top. Sprinkle the prosciutto.

*See previous entry for salmon*

Monday, May 11, 2009

Chaos and Coconut????

I am contemplating a name change due to my new love of this fruit... I am digging it way more than chicken. Hold on, is coconut even a fruit?

I am preparing to make appies and desserts for a graduation Luau on Saturday. I am using lots of new recipes and a lot are filled with coconut. I must sample them before the real deal... right?

Today's sample is: Coconut Crab Dip. Yes, that is right- coconut and crab. Delicious.
I think that I will serve this in coconuts but I am still contemplating on the chip... baked plantains? Pita?Coconut Crab Dip
1/3 cup well-stirred unsweetened canned coconut milk
3 scallions, chopped
1 teaspoon chopped fresh jalapeño chile, including seeds
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice, or to taste
1 lb jumbo lump crab meat, picked over and coarsely shredded
1/4 cup shredded coconut

Blend coconut milk, scallions, jalapeño, and 1/4 cup cilantro in a blender until smooth and pour into a bowl. Whisk in mayonnaise, juice and remaining 1/4 cup cilantro until just combined. Stir in crab and salt to taste and serve spooned on ____________.

To be continued...

Friday, May 8, 2009

Mother Knows Best...

When it comes to Lasagna, that is.

The relationship between mother and daughter is tricky. I think "I dooz it" must have been the first words out of my mouth. I know I spent the majority of my childhood and often my adulthood trying to show her that I could do it myself, and often better or atleast I would convince myself of that. This holds true on everything except lasagna making. I will never try to outdo her and if is she would come to my house right now I would bow out gracefully and let her have total control of my kitchen... as she has done for me many a time.

Happy Mother's Day Margaret... the sweetest mom and the best lasagna maker in the world (well, definetly the best in our family kitchen!)

Mother Knows Best Lasagna
1 lb ground beef
3/4 cup chopped onion
2 tablespoons salad oil or olive oil
1 (1 lb) can crushed tomatoes
2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste
2 cups water
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon garlic powder (I use real clove garlic, minced)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon oregano leaves
4 ounces lasagna noodles
1 lb ricotta cheese
8 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese (I like it cheesey, so I use more)
1 cup grated parmesan cheese

In large heavy pan lightly brown beef and onion in oil. Add tomatoes, paste, water, parsley, salt, sugar, garlic, pepper, and oregano; simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally about 30 minutes.Meanwhile cook lasagne as directed; drain.
In 13x9x2" baking pan, spread about 1 cup sauce. Then alternate layers of lasagna, sauce, cottage cheese, mozzarella and parmesean cheese, ending with sauce, mozzarella and parmesean.Bake at 350 for 40 to 50 minutes until lightly browned and bubbling. Allow to stand for 15 minutes; cut in squares to serve. Makes 8 servings.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Cupcake Wine? Wine in your Cupcakes? I am Sold!

When discussing Dirty Vodka Martinis, a friend told me that he did not like food in his drink... but what about drink in your food?

Last night I enjoyed a glass (or two) of Sauvingnon Blanc wine from the Cupcake Vineyard. It is crisp and has the zest that I love on a summer night... even if it was cold and raining last night, I am still in summer mode. I had originally bought it for the label (you know I do love a cupcake) but it was really good.

Today I found a recipe from a fellow blogger- Vanilla Garlic that infuses the Cupcake Wine into a cupcake... I cannot wait to try it.

She describes them as:
"Well, when wine and olive oil are combined in baking they produce a subtle, almost ethereal, fruity flavor. The orange oil from the zest permeates the entire cake. The sugar crusts on top during baking and maintains it's snowy sparkle. You can't help but imagine eating them with slices of ripe orange and a glass of white wine, which consequently is how I suggest you eat them. You can't help but close your eyes and imagine eating them at a wrought iron table over looking a tuscan vineyard in the afternoon sun. Due to the cornmeal they're very dense too, so one cupcake is the perfect serving (as opposed to five)."

White Wine Cornmeal Cupcakes

What You'll Need...
1/2 cup of olive or sunflower oil
2 large eggs at room temperature
1 cup of sugar, plus 1/4 cup for topping
1/2 cup of dry white wine
1 1/4 cups of all-purpose flour
1/2 cup of yellow cornmeal
1 teaspoon of salt
2 teaspoons of baking powderFinely grated zest of one orange
4 strawberries, sliced thinly

What You'll Do...
1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2) In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, eggs, sugar, and wine until smooth. Add the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt and the zest; whisk together gently.

3) Line a cupcake pan with paper and brush with olive oil. Pour in the cake batter and arrange sliced strawberries on top. Sprinkle with remaining sugar.

4) Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Allow to cool on wire rack.

PS- I made the Margarita Cake last night and we have not eaten it yet but I did taste the batter, YUM!, and also the crust, nice mix of savory and sweet! I added 1/2 cup plain yogurt to make more rich! I cannot wait to eat a piece tonight!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Hey... Margarita!

My girlfriend sent me this recipe just in time for Cinco de Mayo! I am heading to the store to get ingredients in 10 minutes. Looks really easy, refreshing and probably similar in flavor to the cheesecake I made the other night... that is now gone, by the way. Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Margarita Cake
1 1/2 cups coarsely crushed pretzels
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
1 box Betty Crocker® SuperMoist® white cake mix

1 1/4 cups bottled nonalcoholic margarita mix
1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 tablespoon grated lime peel
3 egg whites
1 container (8 oz) frozen whipped topping, thawed
Additional grated lime peel, if desired

Heat oven to 350°F (or 325°F for dark or nonstick pan). Grease bottom only of 13x9-inch pan with shortening and lightly flour (or spray bottom with baking spray with flour). In medium bowl, mix pretzels, sugar and butter. Sprinkle evenly on bottom of pan; press gently.

In large bowl, beat cake mix, margarita mix, oil, 1 tablespoon lime peel and the egg whites with electric mixer on low speed 30 seconds. Beat on medium speed 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Pour batter over pretzel mixture.

Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until light golden brown and top springs back when touched lightly in center. Cool completely, about 2 hours. Frost with whipped topping; sprinkle with additional lime peel. Store covered in refrigerator.

High Altitude (3500-6500 ft): Heat oven to 375°F. Decrease oil to 1/4 cup; use 4 egg whites.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

You say you want chicken?

Well, I will give you chicken, alright! My famous Chicken Enchiladas, that is! I cannot believe that I have never shared this yummy recipe. I honor of May 5, I will be making margaritas, cranberry salsa and enchiladas. Adapted from an older Cooking Light recipe, this is low-fat but gives you the gooey decadence you crave and the fiber and veggies you need.

Lowfat Chicken Enchiladas
4 oz lowfat creme cheese
1 package of frozen chopped spinach, de-thawed
Pulled chicken from rotisseri chicken
1 can black beans
1 small can green chilis
1/2 cup cooked onion
3/4 cup monterey jack cheese
Salt & Pepper to taste
3 tablespoons cumin
8 Corn Tortillas
1 can red enchilada sauce

Soak tortillas in sauce. Mix chicken, beans, chilis, spinach, onion and creme cheese with spices in sauce pan. Spoon 1/2 cup filling in center of tortilla, add a sprinkle of cheese; roll tightly, and place in an 11 x 7-inch baking dish. Repeat procedure with remaining tortillas and filling.Pour sauce over enchiladas. Cover and bake at 375° for 20 minutes. Uncover; sprinkle with Monterey Jack. Bake an additional 5 minutes or until cheeses melt. Top with sour cream.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Support Your Local Businesses, Support Your Local Restaurants

Pick 3, Spend 50

As a former small business owner and a forever small business advocate, I really understand the importance of keeping it local.

Local is usually no more expensive or harder to frequent and often if is the best choice in quality, atmosphere and taste.

Take time this weekend to support three local establishments... and while you are at it, stop by your local Farmer's Market. Buying local is not only better for the economy but it is better for you.

Check out this site for more details of the trickle down effect.

I am heading out to the Radford Farmer's Market and local coffee shop, The Coffee Mill right now!