Friday, August 8, 2014

Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps

I have recently become hooked on lettuce wraps of all kinds. Whether it be as simple as tuna fish salad or throwing together my tacos in a big lead of lettuce, they are all so refreshing and delicious. This recipe was inspired by my taco recipe, but with an Asian flare.

Recipe yields 4 servings

1 lb ground chicken
2 tsp sugar
Salt & black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup sesame oil
1/4 cup dry red wine
1 medium white onion
1 bag pre-cut broccoli slaw
1 can bean sprouts
1 can water chestnuts

1 head Boston lettuce, to use for the wraps

In a large bowl, add your ground chicken, sugar, salt, pepper, soy sauce, sesame oil and red wine. Use your hands to mix everything together and allow the chicken to absorb all of the ingredients. 

Next, finely dice the onion and add to a large, heated skillet (with 1/2 tbsp sesame oil). Saute for 2-3 minutes until translucent. 

Once the onion is done, toss in the chicken and saute until cooked through. 

Once the chicken is no longer pink, toss in the broccoli slaw, bean sprouts and water chestnuts. I sliced my water chestnuts before hand so they would be easier to eat in the wraps. Mix everything together and let simmer over a medium-low heat. All the flavors are really getting to know each other know!

Prepare your 'wraps' by gently removing the leaves from the head of lettuce and rinsing each one with cold water. Pat them all to dry and set aside.

In my house, I serve one big plate of lettuce and a dish of chicken and allow everyone to dig in and make their own wraps, just the way they want them. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Peanut Butter & Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

So to say it's been a while is probably being nice. Its been just shy of two months since my last post and tons has happened since. I have started a new job which I am quickly growing to love. However, the transition period was a bit hectic at times. But there are no excuses and I am promising to try my best to get back to a set blogging schedule with lots of delicious new content. Also, I am shocked to announce I have surpassed the 100,000 views mark. I cannot even believe it! As for now, let's kick it back off with none other than a chocolate chip cookie recipe with a twist!

So here is what you will need to get you 2 dozen cookies

1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
2 tbsp olive oil
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 cup oats (I had old fashioned on hand and chopped them up a bit)
1/2 cup chocolate chips
Extra salt, for sprinkling on top

First, make sure you preheat the oven to 425F degrees. Then start off by mixing together the peanut butter, olive oil, sugar, almond milk and vanilla in a large bowl. This would ideally be done in your stand mixer or with a hand mixer since the peanut butter can be very sticky.

Next, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt so that it is all well combined.

Slowly but surely combine the dry ingredients into the wet using a mixing spoon. I found working with a rubber spatula/spoon was easiest, again due to the stickiness of the peanut butter.

Finally, toss in your oats and chocolate chips and give everything one more good stir.

You really want to make sure the chocolate chips are scattered all throughout the cookie dough.

Line your baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper and spoon out 1 tbsp scoops of dough.

Bake for 8-10 minutes. The cookies should still be soft, but the tops will begin to brown. Once you remove them from the oven, immediately sprinkle with extra salt. Let them rest for about 2 or 3 minutes and then transfer to a wire cooling rack.

Try to allow them to cool without eating them all so they stiffen up a bit. Then eat them all up to your heart's content. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Quick Breakfast Potatoes

On the weekends, there is nothing better than a nice diner breakfast. Until you get to the diner, and it is packed with all the other people who had that same thought. Now your quick meal turned into a 45 minute wait and your breakfast is trying to take over lunch territory. With this quick recipe, you can whip up diner quality breakfast potatoes in no time, right from your own kitchen. (I know your still in your PJs, don't worry, I won't tell)

To have enough to serve 5, you are going to need...

3 lbs red or baking potatoes
1 medium red pepper
1 medium yellow onion
4-5 cloves of garlic
4 tbsp salted butter
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt, black pepper & cayenne pepper, to taste
Dash of paprika

Preheat your oven to 425F degrees. Start off by scrubbing your potatoes clean. I like to keep the skins on, so I make sure to get off any last traces of dirt from the farm. Dice the potatoes into 1/4" cubes. Next up, dice the pepper and onion to be evenly sized with the potatoes. We want everything to cook at the same time, so its important to keep everything relatively the same size. Finely mince the garlic and toss it in with the rest of your ingredients in a large bowl.

Add your oil and melted butter to the bowl and toss to evenly coat everything. Sprinkle on the salt, peppers and paprika. I like to go light on the salt here, you can always add more later on when they come out of the oven if you need to.

Arrange the potatoes in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 35-40 minutes. After the first 20 minutes, give it a good toss. Once your potatoes are completely cooked through and soft, crank up the heat baby to get those potatoes nice and crispy for the last 10-15 minutes. 500F degrees should do the trick.

Give them a taste and you decide if you should add another sprinkle of salt or dash of peppers. Serve with a side of eggs, or serve on the side of eggs. Personally, I really like my potatoes to take front and center. Enjoy!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Pesto Chicken & Peppers Skewers

Many of you may remember from last year, but one of the highlights of my spring is when my CSA membership starts back up. If you aren't familiar with what a CSA is, check out this post: Golden Earthworm Organic Farm CSA

So its been two weeks already, and my refrigerator is filled to the brim with crispy and fresh greens from varieties of lettuce, spices and veggies. Today I chose to whip up a batch of my arugula pesto (see here for the full recipe: Arugula Pesto) and grill up some chicken skewers. So simple and delicious, a perfect week night meal.

To start off, get all of your ingredients together. To have enough to feed 5 people, you are going to need..

2 lbs chicken breast
2 red bell peppers
1 very large yellow onion
1 cup of my arugula pesto
Wood skewers

Clean off your peppers and cut into about 1 inch squares. Similarly, cut the onion into chunks about the same size of the peppers.

Prep the pesto according to the instructions I linked to above.

Next, cut your chicken cutlets into cubes. Try to cut them evenly so they will all cook at the same time.

Now for the assembly, I like to start and end with chicken and get all my veggies somewhere in between. How about chicken - pepper - onion - chicken - pepper - onion - chicken. Sounds like a good combo to me. Prep all of your skewers until your ingredients are gone. Now, with a basting brush, coat all sides, edges and crevices of each skewer with the pesto. Man these are going to be good.

Heat up the BBQ to medium high heat and arrange all of the skewers on the rack directly above the flames. If they don't all fit, keep them in the refrigerator and cook in batches. Cook for about 4-5 minutes on each side, being sure to rotate so all four sides of your chicken cube gets a nice BBQ char to it.

Once the chicken is cooked through, you can remove from BBQ and serve immediately with a fresh salad or some spring veggies. Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Midnight Truffles

So I have decided to call these midnight truffles because of their smooth dark chocolate insides. I had 60% cocoa bars on hand so that's what I used, but I am dying to make these again with 70% or 80% for a real sweet indulgence.

For those of you that aren't so into dark chocolate, feel free to sub it out for milk chocolate, but keep the semi-sweet as this helps to add a bit of something extra.

The best part of these truffles is the time and effort it takes to get to the finished product (read: minimal). In 3 simple steps, your ready to roll (see what I did there?!) and add your toppings. These are such a great treat to bring to a party, as your friends are sure to be impressed while you sit back and laugh at what a breeze they are to make.

8 oz cream cheese (Philadelphia is really good because its so creamy)
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate
1 1/2 cups 60% cocoa chocolate (or darker if you prefer)
Toppings: sprinkles, nonpareils, cocoa powder, chopped nuts, shredded coconut, you name it!

Let the cream cheese soften at room temperature and mix together with the confectioners' sugar until smooth.

Add your chocolate to a bowl resting over a simmering pot of water and melt the chocolate. Whisk every so often to make sure all the chunks are smooth and melted.

Pour the melted chocolate over the sweetened cream cheese and mix to fully combine. Place in the refrigerator for about 1 hour.

Using a cookie scoop (or a tablespoon), place evenly sized balls of chocolate onto a lined tray and place in the freezer for 15-20 minutes. By doing so, you will better be able to roll the balls into perfect spheres and shape them without the chocolate melting and sticking all over your hands.

Once they are firm, cover in the toppings of your choice, I went with the cocoa powder and nonpareils. Eat right away or keep refrigerated until it is time to serve. Let sit at room temperature for a bit before serving. Enjoy!

Friday, May 16, 2014

A Week in Philly

So on Sunday night I took Amtrak down to Philadelphia for work for the week. Clearly I had one thing and one thing only on my mind from the second I arrived - track down the best Philly Cheesesteak! (But more on that to come later.) Aside from that, J & I roamed the streets and wondered the city taking in all it has to offer. Lucky for us, J's main squeeze back home hails from Philly, so we knew all the good eats that we had to check out. By the time you get to the end of the post, you will all know why I am not a lifestyle blogger! But I just had to share some of the fun we had.

As a reminder, this was a work trip (read: boring!) so other than dinner, we only had a few hours during the day to really explore. Seeing as I checked out the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall back when I was 10, I was on the hunt for some of Philly's hidden gems. This is what I found...

Our first night here we headed over to Monk's Cafe, who claims to serve up the best mussels in all of Philly. Considering this is what they delivered to the table..

...and this is what was left after roughly 7.5 minutes, you could say that we agree. The mussels were amazing and the juices were perfect for soaking up with your big loaf of sourdough bread.

Following our mussels app, I ordered the Stout Braised Lamb Shank. It was cooked perfectly, and served over a large pile of mashed potatoes and root veggies. It was massive and I did all I could to finish every last bit.

J went with the Grilled Atlantic Salmon with with white beer beurre blanc. She claims it was delicious and I sure do believe her.

The next day, we stopped over at the famous Reading Terminal Market, which is conveniently right across the street from our hotel. So you can bet we stopped over quite often during the week. This market is the quintessential farmer's market. Artisans from every craft are gathered in this large building serving up the best they have. Offerings range from homemade chocolate towers from Mueller's to America's best sandwich at DiNic's (I'm looking at you roast pork). As I am sure it will come to no one's surprise, my first stop was L.D. Bassets, otherwise known as America's oldest ice cream parlor. The market is bustling with energy and people gather here for lunch from tourists to businessmen and everywhere in between.

Yes, those are all deliciously fresh and homemade donuts. Clearly the smell in this place isn't doing anyone any favors, your taste buds kick into overdrive at every turn and corner.

That nice we headed over to El Vez for some Mexican flair. Naturally we started out with a huge bowl of fresh guac with homemade chips.

I opted for the carnitas tacos, and since J had trouble deciding, she got the sampler platter. The carnitas were to die for. The meat was so tender and flavorful and there was the perfect addition of toppings to keep it light but delicious. My compliments to the chef on this one!

Unable to back down just yet, we opted to share the churros with chocolate dipping sauce for dessert. We got so excited when they came over we quickly ate up and I almost forgot to capture the picture.

So now keep in mind, it is only Wednesday and we have done a whole lot of eating on this trip! But today was the day I had been waiting for. We got out of work early and we headed straight over to Pat's King of Steaks, for Philly's original (and best) cheesesteak on offer. Keeping with the tradition of the week to try and eat on the light side, I ordered mine with a large side of cheese fries. I mean, is there any other way to do it? Check out that deliciousness.

We made it to Thursday, having suffered through hours of long, boring training modules, but it was our last night for dinner, so we headed over to Parc, a French restaurant in the Rittenhouse Square area of the city. On our walk over, the buildings became quainter, there were more trees, and the whole atmosphere sort of changed. J & I decided Rittenhouse Square is the equivalent of NYC's UES and it was lovely. We sat down in a huge dining room, packed with families celebrating birthday's and businessmen celebrating the end to another good week. We both started off with a whistling hot bowl of French onion soup and it had more cheese than I could ever have dreamed of.

For our main round, J went with the French classic, Beef Bourguignon. I decided to go for the Rabbit Pappardelle. The meat was really tender and the sauce was light and refreshing. It might have not taken home top prizes after the week I had, but it was definitely something I would go back for.

To top of the night, J & I split a creme brulee.

All in all, Philly surprised me every night. I did not put high regards on this city, but after spending a week here, it is definitely a place I would visit again. The city has many nooks and crannies that can still be explored. It's size, cleanliness and overall charm was a delight in comparison to the big, bad NYC. Until next time, thanks Philly!