Pork · Salads · Side Dish · Vegetables/Vegetarian

Stone Fruit & Prosciutto Salad

Stone Fruit & Prosciutto Salad

Dear Summer,

Please don’t ever leave.

I love how you bring the bright, radiant sun out to warm us.

I love how you encourage me to wear flip flops every day (even to work).

And I love how you bring out the incredible sweetness and intense flavor to stone fruits. It makes me want to eat them all the time! Nectarines, peaches, plums, pluots….oh, the endless possibilities!

Stone Fruit & Prosciutto Salad

And Summer, you also inspire me to eat light and fresh dishes. So I decided to take your hint and threw some delectable stone fruits into some greens. A salad filled with all types of mixed greens to give that peppery verdant flavor, a needed savory element with the thin prosciutto slices, a salty & nutty profile from the parmesan cheese and much needed texture from the chopped pistachio nuts.

I don’t even bother with a vinaigrette. Instead, I opt for a bit of freshly squeezed lemon juice for acidity and a drizzle of EVOO for that needed richness.

Divine.

So Autumn, please push the snooze button a few more times to allow my Summer to stay a bit longer.

xoxo.

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Stone Fruit & Prosciutto Salad
Serves 1

Ingredients:

2 cups mixed greens (arugula, romaine, baby spinach, etc)
¼ cup sliced peaches
¼ cup sliced nectarines
¼ cup sliced plums or pluots
2 thin slices prosciutto, torn into pieces
1 tablespoon roughly chopped pistachio nuts
1 ounces parmesan cheese shavings
juice of 1 lemon wedge
1 tablespoon quality extra virgin olive oil
2 pinches kosher salt
2 pinches coarse black pepper

Plate the first seven items on a serving dish. Squeeze the lemon juice over the plate, followed by the drizzling of olive oil. Season with the kosher salt and black pepper. Enjoy!

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Appetizers/Small Plates · Condiments/Sauces · Side Dish · Vegetables/Vegetarian

Oven Baked Portabello Fries with Sriracha Mayo

Oven Baked Portabello Fries with Sriracha Mayo

I am a French Fry Monster.

Those crispy, delectable, fried potato-goodness are my vice. But oh–what a glorious vice it is!

Oven Baked Portabello Fries with Sriracha Mayo

But seeing how it’s probably not the best idea for me to inhale my weight in fries (though I may or may not have tried before), I’ve got to find alternatives to get my crunchy fix in.

And these Oven Baked Portabello Fries fulfill that craving quite well.

Oven Baked Portabello Fries with Sriracha Mayo

Thick portabello mushroom strips are rolled into an egg white mixture and then coated with toasted panko breadcrumbs. After a short tanning in the oven, they come out wonderfully crunchy and not the least bit mushy on the inside. And let me tell ya, these beauties are totally crisp. By toasting the panko and then baking the fries on a rather high heat, they’re able to get that wonderful crunch I love when I go to town on traditional potato fries.

Did I mention that they get dunked into a Sriracha Mayo?

You’re welcome.

ps. They’d also be fantastic wrapped up in tortillas with some Avocado-Cabbage Slaw to make some killer veggies tacos.
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Oven Baked Portabello Fries with Sriracha Mayo
Serves 2

Ingredients:

Sriracha Mayo
½ cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Sriracha
½ teaspoon garlic salt
½ teaspoon onion powder
¼ teaspoon cayenne powder
½ teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon minced parsley
kosher salt
black pepper

Fries
1½ cups panko breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 egg whites
1 tablespoon water
½ teaspoon chopped thyme leaves
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
¼ teaspoon cayenne powder
2-3 dashes hot sauce
¼ teaspoon black pepper
kosher salt
cooking spray
1 large portabello mushroom cap or 2 medium sized portabellos
½ teaspoon minced parsley

Whisk the first seven ingredients for the Sriracha Mayo in a bowl. Season with kosher salt and black pepper as needed. Cover and set aside in the refrigerator.

Preheat the oven to 475˚ F.

In a large skillet, toss the panko with the oil. Toast over medium heat, stirring, until golden brown. Set the toasted panko into a dish.

In another bowl or shallow dish, whisk together the egg whites, water, thyme, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne powder, hot sauce, black pepper and ¼ teaspoon kosher salt.

Take a wire rack and place it over a baking sheet. Lightly coat the rack with cooking spray.

Slice the mushrooms into long strips approximately 1/3 – ½ inch in width. One slice at a time, dip the mushroom into the egg white mixture and then into the breadcrumbs. Use your fingers to gently press the breadcrumbs into the mushroom slice to coat well. Lay the coated mushroom slice on the wire rack. Continue with the remaining ingredients.

Spray the tops of the mushrooms with cooking spray and bake for 20-25 minutes. Flip the mushroom fries halfway through the baking process and spray the tops with cooking spray before returning them back into the oven. The fries are done when they are golden brown. Remove them from the oven and sprinkle them with additional kosher salt and parsley. Serve hot with the Sriracha Mayo.

Side Dish · Vegetables/Vegetarian

Roasted Garlic Mashed Cauliflower

Roasted Garlic Mashed Cauliflower

It’s June in San Diego and I’m about 3 months late on starting my beach-bod workout regiment.

What can I say? Siri forgot to add it to my calendar.

So I’ve been doing what I can, a little bit at a time to make up for it. Cutting out caffeine (which explains my Dr. Jekyll/Mr.Hyde personality in the AM), taking the stairs instead of the elevator, cutting back on starches & sweets, doing quick jogs instead of trying to motivate for several mile-runs, and supplementing my produce intake with daily juicing or fresh green smoothies.

Roasted Garlic Mashed Cauliflower

But you know what my achilles is?

Bread and potatoes.

I could inhale bread and potatoes 24/7. Fine if I was some hardcore athlete but the last time I checked, Instagramming hadn’t been deemed a sport yet.

It’s particularly tough when I’m grilling up some goodness and all that’s missing is a huge pile of mashed potatoes.

Drools…..

Roasted Garlic Mashed Cauliflower

In an attempt to fool my mind while trying to create something lighter that still tastes yummy, I started roasting cauliflower and mashing it up with roasted garlic. Cauliflower is considered a “non-starchy” vegetable but when cooked and mashed (or pureed) it can take on a lot of similar textures as my beloved spud.

Roasted Garlic Mashed Cauliflower

And you know what?

It’s delicious-really! The cauliflower starts to caramelize when you roast it and when you add the rich and almost sweet flavor from the roasted garlic—you’re in for it!

This hearty Roasted Garlic Mashed Cauliflower will never fully replace my taters, but it’s a darn good stand in until I go P90X on y’all.

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Roasted Garlic Mashed Cauliflower
Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 large cauliflower head, cut into florets
12-15 garlic cloves, peeled
olive oil
kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon chopped chives

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

On a baking sheet, toss the cauliflower and garlic cloves with 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil. Season with kosher salt and roast for 20-25 minutes until tender and golden brown. Stir and turn every 5-10 minutes.

Transfer the roasted cauliflower and garlic to a large bowl. Add an additional 1 tablespoon olive oil (or 1 tablespoon butter, if you prefer) and garlic powder. Using a potato masher or ricer, mash the cauliflower until it reaches an even consistency.

Season with additional salt and pepper as needed. Stir in chives (0ptional). Serve warm.

*If you’re looking for a gluten free method, be sure to use gluten free marked garlic powder and butter.

Salads · Side Dish · Vegetables/Vegetarian

Middle Eastern Vegetable Salad

Middle Eastern Vegetable Salad

I’ve received a bunch of recipe inquiries about the salad we gobbled up during our last Family Dinner.

And I can’t blame ya because it was DEE-LISH!

Middle Eastern Vegetable Salad

My niece and seester prepared the dish using Ina Garten’s recipe for a Middle Eastern Vegetable Salad and it was a WINNER! It packed a huge punch of flavor from the abundance of herbs, feta cheese and citrus. It was extremely bright and would be a fab dish to enjoy on a warm day with a glass of pinot grigio and chunk of freshly baked bread. MMMMM!

Middle Eastern Vegetable Salad

We didn’t have fresh basil on hand and ended up omitting it. Truth be told, I didn’t really miss it—but I’m sure it would be wonderful with it.

Oh that Ina…..she knocks it out of the park—AGAIN! Think she needs a new bestie in the form of a quirky Vietnamese gal?

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Middle Eastern Vegetable Salad
Serves 6

Ingredients:

10 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
1 pound ripe tomatoes, seeded, cored, and 1/2-inch-diced
1 hothouse cucumber, halved lengthwise, seeded, and 1/2-inch-diced
1 can or jar (12 to 16 ounces) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/3 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
1/3 cup julienned fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (4 lemons)
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup good olive oil
8 ounces good feta cheese
Place the scallions, tomatoes, cucumber, chickpeas, parsley, mint, and basil in a large salad bowl and toss to combine.
In a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the lemon juice, garlic, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Slowly whisk in the olive oil to make an emulsion.

Pour the dressing over the salad, tossing gently to coat all the vegetables. Add the feta, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and toss gently.

Recipe from Ina Garten

Breads · Side Dish

Honey Yeast Rolls with Sea Salt

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I’ve had this little number in my queue to try for some time now and with the holidays just around the corner–what better opportunity!

It was pretty simple to come together and were beautiful when proofed and baked. I decided to add to the original recipe by sprinkling the rolls with Maldon Sea Salt flakes before baking. It added a great flavor and texture to the slightly sweet rolls. YUM!

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I made this batch of rolls to accompany a few roasted game hens but they would be great alongside stews/soups, buns for mini sliders or simply slathered with butter. Whichever you choose, I would highly recommend trying them out.

Thanks for stopping by!

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Honey Yeast Rolls with Sea Salt

Ingredients:

2¼ teaspoon instant yeast
1 cup warm water
¼ cup honey, plus 2 tablespoons
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1¼ teaspoon salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
4 cups bread flour
cooking spray
2 tablespoon butter, melted
1/2 tablespoon sea salt flakes

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the yeast and warm water.  Add ¼ cup honey, oil, salt, and egg and mix well.  Add 3 cups of the flour and mix until the dough comes together in a sticky mass.  Switch to the dough hook and, with the mixer on low speed, incorporate the remaining 1 cup of flour.  Continue kneading on low speed for about 8 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, turn once to coat, and cover with plastic wrap.  Let rise in a warm, draft-free spot until doubled in bulk, about 2 hours.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for 30 seconds.  Cover with a towel and let rest for 10 minutes. Punch the dough down and divide into 10-12 equal size pieces.  Shape each piece into a smooth ball and place into a round, lightly greased 9- or 10-inch round baking dish, spacing evenly.  Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free spot for 20-30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400˚ F.  Mix together the melted butter and 2 tablespoons honey, and brush the tops of the rolls with the mixture.  Sprinkle the tops of the rolls with the sea salt. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown and the rolls are baked through.  Let cool slightly before serving.

Slightly adapted from Annie Eats

Appetizers/Small Plates · Side Dish

Baked Spicy Kale Chips

Baked Spicy Kale Chips

Who would have ever thought that this Dorito-lovin’, Chips-feening gal would turn to Kale Chips?! Nope, not me!

Well….that was until I stepped into my friend J’s kitchen a few years ago and my whole world was flipped upside down. While we were sipping on one of her new cocktail creations, J pulled out a freshly baked tray of chips……oh yes, Kale Chips. Whaaa????? And before judgey-wudgey could set in, I grabbed a crispy leaf and took a bite.

Holy Cow! It was wonderful!!!

Crispy, light and full of salty goodness. And since then, I’ve been a Kale Chips believer!!! The recipe below is more of an introduction to a method versus exact measurements as you can add and omit as you see fit. I, myself, like a really kicked up version and throw in several pinches of cayenne and chili flakes. But if you prefer a milder approach, just add a pinch or so.

These are particularly delish on game days when you can wash it down with a nice icy cold beer or alongside a great sammy. Either way, these Kale Chips are wonderfully delish! And the perk? You can feel good about eating a big ol’ bowl of these.

And with that Friends, HAPPY ALOHA FRIDAY!

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Baked Spicy Kale Chips

Ingredients:

1 Large Bunch of Kale, washed and dried
Cayenne Pepper
Red Chili Flakes
Garlic Powder
Kosher Salt
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

Preheat oven 275 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Tear the kale leaves into pieces and place in a large bowl. Toss the kale with olive oil and sprinkle the spices over the leaves, coating evenly. Arrange the kale in a single, even layer on the baking sheet. Bake the kale for 20-25 minutes until crispy, flipping the leaves halfway. Enjoy immediately.

Side Dish · Vietnamese

Xôi Gấc for Tết (Baby Jackfruit Flavored Sticky Rice)

Xôi Gấc (Baby Jackfruit Flavored Sticky Rice)

It’s hard to believe that Tết, Vietnamese Lunar New Year, is just a few days away.

Growing up, our parents used to have us scrub down the entire house the days leading up to Tết. It was one of the many important traditions we used to follow to ensure a prosperous and lucky new year. Then, the entire clan would come together, cook up a feast of goodies, offer ancestral prayers at the alter, hand out lì xì (lucky money in red envelopes) to the kids, eat, drink, laugh, and well—gamble and play cards! Needless to say, it was always a fun time.

One of the traditional dishes often found around Tết is Xôi Gấc which is essentially, glutinous rice (sticky rice) that has been steamed with coconut milk and Gấc.

Xôi Gấc (Baby Jackfruit Flavored Sticky Rice)

This is one of those Vietnamese dishes whose name just doesn’t translate well into English. The first challenge is “Gấc”.  It has several English names such as Baby Jackfruit, Cochinchin Gourd, Sweet Gourd, Momordica Charantia Fruit, and my least favorite–Spiny Bitter Gourd. I mean, c’mon now…… How unappetizing does Spiny Bitter Gourd sound? You might as well throw in some other funky words like gelatinous and congealed and call it a day.

But I digress…..

Since I’ve seen Gấc more often called “Baby Jackfruit“—–I’m going with it. But for the record, it does not taste like regular jackfruit or even “young jackfruit”. Could I BE more confusing???

Xôi Gấc (Baby Jackfruit Flavored Sticky Rice)

The flesh of the Gấc fruit is deep red and is well suited to not only flavor Xôi (sticky rice) but also naturally dyes the grains of rice to an intense orange-reddish hue. It’s because of this that you’ll find Xôi Gấc served at celebrations such as Tết and weddings since the color red is considered to be very lucky.

Although fresh Gấc can now be found in many large Vietnamese grocery stores this time of year, I couldn’t convince myself to make the trek to Orange County to pick some up. I resorted to using frozen Gấc puree that my local Vietnamese grocery store has stocked year round. If you can get it, I would HIGHLY recommend using the fresh fruit over frozen as you won’t be able to get the same rich and vibrant hue if you use the latter. Truthfully, my finished Xôi Gấc looked a tad anemic because I used the frozen puree—but it was DARN TASTY all the same.

Oh—and if being healthier is one of your New Year’s resolutions….the Gấc fruit has a supposed astronomic amount of beta-carotene and lycopene.

Xôi Gấc (Baby Jackfruit Flavored Sticky Rice)

Since Xôi Gấc has a slightly sweet profile to it, it’s best served alongside something savory like roast pork or Chả lụa (pork sausage). But it can also be enjoyed as a breakfast item as well.

And with that Dear Friends, I better get back to cleaning my house before Tết is here. But before I sign off, let me wish you and your loved ones a joyous, adventure-filled, and delicious Year of the Dragon!

Chúc Mừng Năm Mới!!

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Xôi Gấc (Baby Jackfruit Flavored Sticky Rice)
Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

2 Cups Sweet Glutinous Rice
12 Ounces Gấc Fruit, either fresh or frozen puree
1 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
6-8 Fresh Pandan Leaves
1 Tablespoon Mirin
1/2 Cup Coconut Milk

Rinse the rice until the water runs clear. Fill a large bowl with cool water, add the rice and soak it overnight.

Once the rice has been properly soaked, drain the rice and shake off any excess water. With a kitchen towel, gently pat the rice dry and then transfer to a mixing bowl.

While wearing gloves, massage and rub the Gấc into the rice, allowing the grains to be thoroughly covered in the fruit. Sprinkle in the salt and mix until combined.

Line the bottom of your steamer with a sheet of cheesecloth. Place a layer of pandan leaves on top of the cheesecloth and then spread the rice mixture evenly on top the leaves. Cover the rice mixture with additional pandan leaves and place the steamer lid on. Steam for about 15 minutes and then remove the lid and top layer of pandan leaves. Using chopsticks, stir in the coconut milk and mirin while fluffing the rice. Place the leaves and steamer lid back on and continue cooking for an additional 5 minutes or until rice is fully cooked. Enjoy!