Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Nicoise Dressing

Ok, when my mom and I took our Julia Child cooking class in March, we made this nicoise dressing and basically, all I can say about it is that it is ADDICTING!!! I've sort of wanted it on EVERY single salad since then (sometimes I'll have a Caesar Salad if I'm in the mood). Well, pretty much everything we made that day was addicting but that was largely in part to the vast amounts of butter and bacon in everything. But this dressing is very simple with shallots, olive oil, lemon juice, and seasonings. For some reason, when I kept it in my fridge it would get thick and sorta lumpy but I guess that's because of the olive oil (it doesn't do well in the fridge?). All I did was remove it from the fridge for about 5 minutes before serving and it was PERFECT! The only thing I did different from Mrs. Child was that I used the juice from a whole lemon because I love lemons and used one TABLEspoon of dijon. You can stick to her recipe (juice from 1/2 lemon, and one TEAspoon of dijon) if you'd like. Served over a nice simple bed of baby lettuce and some croutons. Oh, and I'm storing mine in a mason jar to make it that much easier to make and store.

What you'll need:
1 small shallot, minced
1 tbs. Dijon mustard 
Juice of 1 lemon 
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp. kosher salt 
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Baby lettuce mix

1. If you're making this in a mason jar or in a tupperware container, place all contents in the jar and just SHAKE SHAKE SHAKE until fully combined.
2. Before serving, give a good shake again. Remember, a little bit of this will go a LONG way!

enjoy :)

Monday, May 27, 2013

Top Five

This week seemed like one of the longest weeks ever. Now that the school year is coming to an end (don't forget I have a day job as a Preschool teacher), everyone is just itching for summer vacation. The three day Memorial Day weekend is making it that much more difficult to focus these next two weeks before we officially ring in the summer. We've been on a cultural kick and this weekend we went to the Getty Villa in Malibu which has some of the more exquisite gardens and views I've ever seen. From there we went to dinner at Paradise Cove, a small little private beach down at the other end of Malibu which is one of my favorite places because you eat outside, take off your shoes, and dig your tootsies right into the sand. A cold drink and a heaping bowl of calamari and french fries and you're good to go. I also had to make a stop at Sprinkles Cupcakes because El just dies over their mocha cupcakes. BTW, did you know you're NEVER supposed to refrigerate their cupcakes? You learn something new every day. Anyways, here are a few of my favorite things from the week that are keeping my eyes on the prize...
salt & pepper bowls my roommate found that I'm dying over 
green beans grown in my mom's garden
an umbrella in a drink makes it that much more fun to drink
Mecca aka Sprinkles Cupcakes
almost peach season
Enjoy your long weekend, everyone!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Strawberry Festival

Last week I was listening to the radio and I heard an ad for the California Strawberry Festival coming up that weekend. I had an immediate flashback to my childhood and frantically called Daniel DEMANDING that he take me. I had been once before but probably 18 years ago. I wasn't even 10 at the time and all I wanted to do was ride the rides, get my face painted, and eat all the strawberry shortcake I could get my hands on. This time, there were local farms selling their fresh produce, great restaurants making strawberry EVERYTHING, strawberry wine (which was just WAY too sweet for me), live music, and lots of sun. Outside of the main festival there were stands of local vendors selling their products (olive oils, salts, etc.). I, unfortunately, forgot to wear sunscreen so I came home with a horrible sunburn on my shoulders. But, it's turned into a nice golden tan so I can't be too upset. I bought far too many strawberries so I have a huge bag cut up and frozen in my freezer just waiting to be turned into a smoothie! 
strawberry pizza
about 3 bites and I wanted to pass out
strawberry wine
garlic fries
local olive oil makers
salt salt salt
even more salt

sushi maker
Belgian chocolate covered Strawberries
we had fun :)

Friday, May 24, 2013

Memorial BBQ Recipes

With Memorial Day coming up this weekend I thought I'd share with you my favorite recipes for a great BBQ. We are going to spend the weekend doing not a whole lot (well, Daniel is going out of town to visit his best friends so my mom and El get to enjoy my company for a few days) but Sunday attending the Getty Villa and going to Dinner at Paradise Cove. It's FINALLY warm enough to eat dinner at the beach and I couldn't be more excited! Nothing better than a nice cocktail, some calamari, and sinking your feet into the sand... mmmmmm. Anyways, here are the recipes: there are a few salads, sides, desserts, and beverage ideas. I hope you all have a wonderfully relaxing weekend!

1. a great, traditional potato salad...
2. rainbow fruit skewers. how cute are these!?...
3. if you feel like being healthy (ew) veggie kababs with pesto dip...
4. the world's GREATEST Caesar salad with rosemary croutons...
5. who doesn't just LOVE homemade lemonade?...
6. strawberry and blueberry fruit salad. it's prime strawberry season!...
7. nothing says summer quite like some homemade guac...
8. i know Memorial Day is an American holiday but can't I try and sneak SOME Italian in here?...
9. one word... BACON! (baked potato salad that will KNOCK.YOUR.SOCKS.OFF!)...

Monday, May 20, 2013

Top Five

So I've noticed that many of my favorite blogs have a favorite "whatever" post once a week and I figured I'd start doing the same so I can share my current obsessions with you all. For me, Sunday marks the end of the week rather than the beginning. It's the day I spend with my mom doing really whatever we want. We cook really good comfort food, and eat on trays in front of the TV just relaxing and having a really relaxing evening before the hectic workweek starts. So every Sunday (Monday this week because I fell asleep early last night) I'll share with you my "Top Five" of the week! Enjoy :)

Chicken Tikka Masala at my favorite Indian Restaurant 

Jasmine in full bloom means one thing... Summer is coming!
Stanley Kubrick at LACMA was as beautiful as it was frightening 

More strawberries than I'd eve know what to do with at the California Strawberry Festival 
Lazy Sunday reading cookbooks looking for inspiration for the impending week

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Chicken Parm Meatballs

Ok, I think its official, guys. I've really outdone myself this time. First off, clearly I have a new obsession with making things into "cupcakes" but seriously... Chicken. Parmesan. Meatballs. I REPEAT!!! Chicken Parm Meatballs!!! I honestly don't even have that much to say here because they were SO good that I just want you to make them and see for yourself just how phenomenal these are. They're made from ground chicken (or turkey), fresh herbs, and a light crunchy topping so they're half the calories of regular chicken parm, are baked instead of fried (not that there is ANYTHING wrong with frying...) and there is no doubt that kids (and adults) will go crazy over these!!!

What you'll need:
1 lb ground chicken (or turkey)
1 egg
1/2 white onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. FRESH oregano, chopped
2 tbs. FRESH basil, chopped
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/42 tsp. pepper
1/2 cup light mozzarella cheese (shredded or cubed)
Marinara sauce (warmed)
1 tbs. olive oil
1 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs. DO NOT USE ANY OTHER KIND!!!)
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

1. Preheat your oven to 400*. In a large bowl, mix together the chicken, egg, HALF of the parmesan cheese, garlic, herbs, salt, and pepper. Set aside for a few minutes.
2. In a separate bowl, toss together the rest of the parmesan and the panko. Add the olive oil and mix together with a fork until it's evenly coated. 
3. Grease a cupcake pan and evenly divide the chicken mixture into each cup. Make a well in each "cupcake" and add the mozzarella in each. Pack the chicken back on top and sprinkle 1 tbs. of the panko and parmesan mixture to the top of each.
4. Bake for 30 minutes. Let rest for a few minutes and drizzle the warmed marinara sauce. Serve over pasta or by itself.

enjoy :)

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to the woman who has made me who I am today. You're strength, beauty, unconditional love for your friends and family, fabulous sense of style, and great sense of humor have been a true inspiration to me through my 25 years of life. Thank you for introducing me to my passion for cooking and my ability to show my love and affection to anyone I meet. I love you, mommy!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Meatloaf Cupcakes with Mashed Potato Frosting

About a year ago I found a recipe for these cute little meatloaf cupcakes and I've been DYING to make them but El never let me because they were too fancy and he is very particular about his meat. I continued to obsess over them and browse Pinterest until I found the perfect recipe and I pretty much just tweaked the ones I found from both Skinny Taste and Key Ingredient. So tonight was one of my girl's nights with Lindsay and Katie and I knew they'd just love them. We started off with some fabulous cheeses and crackers (which I nearly devoured all of) then on to the main event. I was going to make some roasted asparagus, too, but I just ran out of time. Luckily, nobody was mad because they were full with just a salad and the meatloaf. They're really filling yet very light because they're made out of turkey as opposed to beef and I tossed some fresh veggies in there too. Honestly, they're so darn cute that I almost didn't want to eat them but I devoured mine. The serving size is 2 per person but you can make them even smaller (like the mini cupcakes) and eat more of them. Kids will absolutely love them because they're so itty bitty and even though they have veggies in them, you can't tasted them because of the other flavors in them. I topped them with mashed potato "frosting"and instead of using cupcake liners I just sprayed some non-stick cooking spray in the cupcake pan and they popped right out. These are really great for a cocktail party as an appetizer or even as a main dish for just about anyone who likes meatloaf. And honestly, who doesn't?!

What you'll need:
1 1/2 lbs. 99% lean ground turkey
1 cup Panko bread crumbs
1 cup ketchup
1 zucchini, grated and with the liquid drained
1 tbs. kosher salt
1 tsp. pepper
1/2 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 egg
Cooking spray

1. Preheat your oven to 350*. In a large bowl, use a fork to lightly toss the drained zucchini and the turkey. To the same bowl, add the bread crumbs, 1/2 cup of ketchup, salt, pepper, and egg. Set aside.
2. In a large pan, sauté the onion and garlic until you get a little bit of a crisp on the onions. Let cool for about 2 minutes, then mix in with the turkey mixture. Use your hands (your best tools!) to mix everything together and form "cupcakes" that will fit into the muffin pan.
3. Spray the muffin pan and add the meatloaf "cupcakes." Spread a little bit of the remaining ketchup over the top of each meatloaf (no more than 1 tsp.) Bake in the oven for 25 minutes.
4. While the meatloaf is cooking, cook your mashed potatoes. Let them cool for a few minutes then add them to a LARGE plastic ziplock bag with a 1/2" cut in the bottom corner. Remove the meatloaf from the oven and place individual meatloafs on a serving plate. "Pipe" the mashed potato "frosting" on each meatloaf and serve immediately!

enjoy :)

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Garlic Cheese Bread

I love garlic bread. Whenever I go out to dinner, I'm a little embarrassed to say that I get a little excited if they bring the bread basket and it's not just plain bread. Every Italian restaurant has great garlic bread, or an herb bread, or an herb cheese bread and I just love them. Years ago I came up with this version of garlic bread one day when all I knew how to make was plain spaghetti with parmesan cheese and I needed something else along with my pasta. It's so easy to make, really hard to mess up, and kids will love it, too. I've tried making it with vegan cheese but vegan cheese doesn't melt as well as it burns so I try to stick to the good old parmesan cheese. I do, however, use vegan butter because I had it in my fridge and tasted just fine. You can use any bread you'd like but I prefer ciabatta because the outside gets really, really crunchy and the inside of the bread stays nice and soft. But really, any bread will do just fine. If you want to get fancy and add some fresh herbs you certainly may. But hey, if it ain't broke, don't fix it!

What you'll need:
1 large loaf of ciabatta bread
2 tbs. vegan butter
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp. Lawry's garlic salt

1. Preheat your oven to 400*. Slice your ciabatta in half and spread the butter on both the top and bottom.
2. Mix together the cheese and the garlic salt and sprinkle it over the bread. Lay the bread on a baking sheet and bake for about 10-12 minutes, until the cheese starts to bubble and the edges of the bread turn golden brown.
3. Slice and serve along side your favorite pasta.

enjoy :)