Saturday, September 24, 2011

Date Night #1

Yes, yes, I know I love Italian food... But for tonight's date night with the boyfriend, I decided to do something French... rosemary and dijon rack of lamb, garlic and balsamic oven roasted broccoli, and onion rings (ok, that's not French but every guy needs fried foods with their dinner)
I looked to one of my favorite cooks, the Barefoot Contessa (or, Ina Garten) for inspiration. Her recipe for rack of lamb is INCREDIBLE but a little too salty, so I only added a tiny pinch of kosher salt.
NO NO NO! Don't be scared!!! Lamb is NOT difficult to make. It's delicious, a good source of protein (or so says my personal trainer, so I trust him) and it's easy, I swear!!!

This is what you'll need for the marinade (FYI, this yields 2 racks, so split it in half, or play around with it, as I did, if it's just for two people):

1/2 cup dijon mustard
5 cloves of garlic
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
2 tbs. FRESH rosemary (dried just doesn't have the same flavor and/or consistency. You don't even have to buy it, you can find it on the side of the road)
2 tbs. balsamic vinegar

1. Mince the garlic, salt and rosemary in a food processor for a minute until it's as small as you can make it.
2. Add the balsamic and dijon and process for another minute.
3. Place your rack (of lamb!!!) in a baking dish curved down and cover it with the marinade (use your hands, they're the BEST tool any chef could ever want!)
4. Let stand a room temperature for about an hour.

Now it's time to cook!!!
5. Preheat your oven to 450*
6. Place the rack of lamb on a baking sheet UNCOVERED. For for rare meat, cook for 20 minutes exactly, and for medium rare, cook for 25 minutes.
7. Cover with foil and let cool for about 10 minutes.

Roasted Broccoli:
1 bag of broccoli from Trader Joe's
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. fresh cracked black pepper
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1. Mix all ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
2. As the lamb is resting, put the broccoli in the oven, lower the temperature to 375*.
3. Let cook about 7-10 minutes (your nose will know when it's ready)

enjoy :)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Brown Rice Pizza

If you hadn't noticed, I sort of have a love for Italian food. But, I like to tweak it and make it my own (also because I have some picky/difficult eaters in my family). So I created a SUPER simple recipe for a pizza that's delicious, healthy, and safe for my picky eaters.
Instead of using a dough for the pizza crust, you're going to use store bought brown rice (it's MUCH healthier, full of fiber and very simple to make). Trader Joe's sells a box of three frozen brown rice packs for under $5, so I suggest you use this one.

This is what you'll need to make you're yummy pizza crust:
1 packet of microwave brown rice
1 extra large egg
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 tsp. herbs de provence
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. pepper

1. Preheat your oven to 425*
2. Cut a few slits in the top of the brown rice bag and microwave on high for 3 minutes, then set aside to cool.
3. Scramble the egg in a large mixing bowl and slowly add in the cooled brown rice (if you don't let it cool, you'll end up with scrambled eggs).
4. Add the parmesan, salt, pepper, and herbs de provence and mix together.
5. Grease a small, round (or square) pie pan with canola oil spray (again, I suggest the one from Trader Joe's) and evenly spread the rice mixture all around the pan.

6. Bake for about 10-12 minutes until it's golden around the edges.

7. Remove from oven, and simply add your favorite pizza toppings all over. (I added pancetta, goat cheese crumbles, a tiny bit of parmesan and mozzarella cheese!)

8. Bake again for 10 minutes and let cool for about 5 minutes before serving.

enjoy :)

Spaghetti Squash

We all have those hankerings for pasta but not so much the hankering for when it makes our pants feel a little bit tighter. So, a healthy and DELICIOUS alternative is Spaghetti Squash! I know it sounds scary but I promise, it's just as delicious as pasta, yet 10 times healthier! Once you cut it open, it looks very similar to a pumpkin on the inside.

What you'll need:

1 tbs. kosher salt
1 tbs. pepper
2 tbs. olive oil
1/4 cup water
Aluminum foil
1 VERY sharp knife
1 glass baking dish, like the one below, large enough to fit the squash once it's cut (if you don't have a baking dish, a cookie sheet will work)

Glass Baking Dish

1. Preheat your oven to 425*
2. Cut the squash lengthwise from top to bottom (BE CAREFUL!!! If you're not skilled with a knife, you might need someone to help you. Many of my finger have been cut trying to do this, especially with the bigger squashes)
3. Scoop out the seeds and throw them away (or save them and toast them later)
4. Drizzle olive oil, salt and pepper on the CUT side of the squash.
5. Place the squash CUT SIDE DOWN in the baking dish (or cookie sheet) and add the water.
6. Cover the dish with the foil, put it in the oven, and cook for 45 minutes.
7. After 45 minutes, SLOWLY remove the baking dish from the oven, remove the foil and VERY SLOWLY flip over the squash (use tongs or a spoon to do this).
8. Put the squash back in the oven UNCOVERED, CUT SIDE UP for another 15 minutes.
9. After 15 minutes, remove the squash from the oven, let cool for about 5 minutes, then use a regular sized fork to scrape out the inside.
10. Serve as you would regular spaghetti and top with parmesan cheese and your favorite marinara sauce or Bolognese!

enjoy :)


When I can't figure out what to make, I usually turn to a Bolognese (fancy word for meat sauce). It's super easy and super tasty. I usually serve it over whole wheat pasta but when I'm feeling super fancy and super patient, I'll serve it over spaghetti squash (you'll find the recipe for that here).

All you'll need to make your Bolognese is:
2 tbs. olive oil
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. herbs de provence
3 minced cloves of garlic
1 lb. ground beef (I like the organic ground beef from Costco)
1 medium yellow onion chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
1 cup crimini mushrooms (white mushrooms will do just fine if that's all you have)
1/4 cup chopped basil leaves
1 jar pasta sauce (Trader Joe's has delicious -and cheap!- choices)

I should warn you that unless you love the lingering smell of garlic on your hands (which I don't mind but Daniel HATES), wear gloves!!!

1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat-high.

2. Add the chopped onions and 1/2 of the salt and 1/2 of the pepper and continue to sauté until the onions are brown and are now sweet. Once the onions are brown, add the mushrooms and let sauté for about 5-10 minutes. Finally, add the garlic and sauté for just a minute (you do NOT want to burn the garlic, it will taste bitter and icky).

3. Crumble the ground beef into the pan into small pieces, and, using a wooden spoon (they don't transfer the heat the same way a metal spoon wood, and they can also be safely used without scratching the bottom of the saucepan), sauté for about 5 minutes.
*you may need to drain the fat so instead of trying to drain it, spoon it out using a metal spoon to avoid dropping it in the sink*
4. Once the meat starts to brown up, add the rest of the salt and pepper, and herb de provence.
5. Continue sautéing for another few minutes until the meat is ALMOST cooked all the way through (it will continue cooking in the sauce and remain moist and tender if you don’t cook it all the way before you add the sauce)
6. Add the entire jar of the pasta sauce and let it sit on medium-low for about 10 minutes, until the meat is fully cooked and all of the flavors have come together.
7. To finish the sauce, add the chopped basil to the sauce and serve over your pasta or spaghetti squash.

enjoy :)
White Truffle Oil
***want to make it extra special? Add 2 tbs. of truffle oil to the Bolognese at the end***

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

My Inspiration... Grandma Bergie :)

how fabulous is she?!


All my life, I have loved too cook and bake; I guess it runs in my genes. My grandmother was a pastry chef and growing up my mom made us have family dinners at least 4 nights a week (thanks mommy), something that has rubbed off on me. The oldest of 6 (don't even get me started on who belongs to who) and with a vegan mom, a lactose intolerant step dad, and a diabetic boyfriend, I have had to become rather creative to create yummy dishes that they can all enjoy and love together.
So after years of watching the women in my life cook delicious meals and bake amazing desserts and people telling me I should be a chef and start a catering company and/or open a restaurant, I decided to start a blog so you can try the recipes out for yourselves!
I hope you enjoy reading and recreating as much as I (and my boyfriend, Daniel, who has decided he will be the taste-tester) do!!!
Carlye <3