Sunday, September 29, 2013

Breaking Bad Finale

For those of you who have been living under a rock for the past 5 years, Breaking Bad, the best written show in TV history, aired its final show tonight. It was emotional, it was funny, it was just pure cinematic perfection. To get into the spirit, I created a menu that represented the best elements of the show. We had Heisenburger sliders, Los Pollos Hermanos french fries and buffalo wings, bacon for Flynn (who loves breakfast), and a chocolate chip cookie cake with homemade whipped cream and Walt's singnature blue methamphetamine rock sugar on top (don't worry, the recipe for those are coming shortly!). If you haven't yet watched the show, you have an assignment: I will NOT post a new recipe until everyone has caught up! Ok ok, I take that back. But seriously, you NEED to! Enjoy this little glimpse into our epic Breaking Bad Finale viewing party!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Slow Cooker Mushroom Basil Marinara

Like I told you all in my last post, I'm on a very strict diet and one of the biggest NO-NOs is canned or jarred tomato sauce; there's just too much sugar and other junk so I figured this would be a great opportunity to make my own! I looked up a few recipes and some called for 2 types, one type, or a bunch of types and thats what I wanted. I like a lot of flavors so I chose 4 different types of tomatoes: cherry, heirloom, roma, and plum. Each has a different taste, and when cooked together, marry very well together. So, after 2 days of cooking, I tasted it with some zucchini spaghetti last night... holy crap. IT. WAS. AMAZING!!! I could have done it in the slow cooker for about 8-10 hours but after that much time it just didn't seem ready enough. So I let it go overnight then all day again for a total of 30 hours. I know that is a LOT of time, but just turn it on when you leave for work one day (ON LOW!!!) and keep it going until dinner the next night. The longer the better, I promise!  BUT, if you're impatient, then overnight for 8 hours plus and extra 4 on low is just fine! The different tomatoes each bring a sweetness and the mushrooms add some great texture. Clearly I have an addiction to garlic so I added about 10 cloves and it was just lovely. Finally, a bunch of chopped basil made for a great zing of extra flavor! This is great on top of chicken, pasta, or even by itself with some bread for dipping!

What you'll need:
1 lb. cherry tomatoes
1 lb. baby heirloom tomatoes
1 lb. roma tomatoes
1 lb. plum tomatoes
1 lb. sliced crimini mushrooms
1/2 lb. sliced shiitake mushrooms
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 shallots, sliced and lightly sautéed
2 tbs. kosher salt
1 tbs. pepper
16 basil leaves, chopped

1. Chop the roma and plum tomatoes into 1/2" cubes, and slice the cherry and heirloom tomatoes in half (ok, I totally skipped this step and maybe that's why it took so long for mine to cook...). Slice your mushrooms and mince your garlic.
2. Toss EVERYTHING into the slow cooker and cook on LOW for about 8-10 hours. Cook again for 4 hours on HIGH.
3. Let cool and serve with pasta, chicken, or bread.

enjoy :)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Chocolate Chip Challah

To celebrate Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish new year)  at school last week I was feeling a bit overzealous and decided to make a challah! Now this was my first time making a bread that requires kneading so I was petrified. And to make it more appetizing for the kids I made cupcakes instead of a huge loaf. I found the initial recipe on this ADORABLE blog about cupcakes and changed a few things around to create a challah that was so golden and crunchy that parents are STILL asking me for the recipe! OH and I did NOT make this with a stand mixer, I did it all by hand and it turned out GORGEOUS and delicious!

What you'll need:
1 1/4 cups warm water
2 tablespoons active dry yeast (2 packets)
3 tbs. honey
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/3 cup sugar (or sugar replacement such as stevia)
1/3 cup canola oil
3 large eggs
4-5 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbs. water 
1/2 cup chocolate chips
LARGET glass bowl
1 tbs. canola oil

1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with dough hook, dissolve the yeast in the warm water and 1 tbs. honey (mix it around with your hands). Let sit for about 10 minutes until foam develops on top. Hello, yeast, you're awake!
2. To the bowl, add the salt, sugar, 1/3 up oil, 2 eggs, and remaining honey. Give it a quick mix, then, ON SLOW, start to add the flour one cup at a time until it is no longer sticky. Keep the mixer going on low for 10 minutes to knead the dough (or do it by hand). 
3. Swirl the inside of the glass bowl with the remaining tbs. of canola oil. roll dough around in the oil so it is covered all over. Cover with a CLEAN kitchen towel and let sit in a warm area for 1 hour to rise (what I did was turn the oven on to 250 then turn it off and let the dough rise in there). Don't worry, it WILL get bigger!
4. After 1 hour, dump the dough onto a flowered board and punch a few times. IF YOU'RE MAKING ONE LARGE LOAF: Put BACK into the bowl, cover, and let sit for another 30 minutes in the warm oven. Remove and dump onto a floured board. Roll out like a big long snake and press chocolate chips all the way down the "snake." Start rolling so it looks like a giant cinnamon roll. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
IF YOU'RE MAKING CUPCAKES: Line a cupcake pan with cups and roll the dough into the shape it looks like in the picture (you know like you did with play-dough when you made a snake when you were a kid!) and tuck chocolate chips all throughout. Cover with the towel and put back in the warm oven to rise for another 30 minutes (they're double in size, AGAIN!).
5. Beat the remaining egg and 1 tbs. of water. Brush the tops of the challah (this will give it the beautiful golden brown color) and bake for 30 minutes (for cupcakes) and 40 minutes (for whole loaf)

Monday, September 16, 2013

Just a little something that made me smile. Julia knows all :)

Cucumber Salad

I want to apologize for not having posted in 2 weeks. I have been on a strict health regime and diet and have lost almost 20 lbs. in 2 weeks!!! I decided to make a change and have been working with a doctor to get healthy. What I've done is basically cut out all "bad" carbs, so for the next few weeks, get excited for protein and veggie-heavy recipes coming your way!
The first thing I did to get myself ready was buy a whole bunch of new gadgets for my kitchen, most excitably the most amazing (and CHEAP!!!) spiral veggie slicer found here. I use it to cut cucumbers into thin slices, or spiral cut my zucchini to make spaghetti. At school, we've been making apple spaghetti with the kids and they're going absolutely CRAZY for it! The first recipe I will share with you is this great little cucumber salad. I thinly sliced 1 huge cucumber and mixed my own little tamarai-ponzu dressing. This is considered a "free" snack so I will seriously eat about 4 of these every day.

What you'll need:
1 hothouse cucumber (the big ones)
1 tsp. tamari (gluten-free soy sauce)
1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tbs. chopped scallions

1. Use a deli slicer, spiral veggie slicer, or a VERY sharp knife (be careful!!!) and slice your cucumbers VERY thinly.
2. In a small tupperware container, combine the tamari, lemon juice, and scallions and give them a good shake. Pour over cucumbers and chow down!

enjoy :)