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Quinoa and Black Bean Veggie Burgers

11 Feb
Black bean and quinoa patty with avocado and cilantro.

Black bean and quinoa patty with avocado and cilantro.

I recently stabbed myself in the hand. Like, a good one. Needed a few stitches and an update on a few vaccinations. My left pinky still does not open all the way.

I won’t get into the story, just know that every day that I do not set myself on fire or slice off a finger is a good day in the kitchen for me. Why am I even telling you about this then? Because I had to delay my Bikram yoga practice. I wasn’t going to take an open wound into a room full of other peoples sweat (read: germ) particles floating thru the almost non-existent air. And no, I did not stab myself in the hand to get out of Bikram yoga (or did I)?

So I went after my run miles with gusto, because I don’t need hands for that.  I’m back to starving all of the time. How does one person cook all day and not find time to sit down for a meal? I am quit the specimen.

The view during my runs. No problem.

The view during my runs. No problem.

These here veggie burgers/patties are so stinking good. I think I ate an entire batch in less than 24 hours. The pain in my arm from all the shots makes the timeline fuzzy…

Anyhow, they are savory and delicious. They are incredible with a big dollop of guacamole, or a few slices of avocado and tomato. You can eat them on top of a salad, sandwiched between a bun like a burger, maybe wrapped in a leaf of romaine: protein style. Even straight out of the pan and over the sink. Did that. One handed.

They also happen to be highly portable. These patties make a great snack or lunch or dinner. You can make a big batch and freeze them, so that you have something  healthy in times of need. I’m totally going to toot my own horn here and say that these are better than any frozen veggie burger I have ever tried. I’ve tried a few.

Why you should eat this? 

Quinoa: learn it, love it. A seed that cooks like a grain, Quinoa is a true superfood (and I hate that term). Quinoa is highly regarded for its protein content, which is about 14% by weight. It is a complete protein making it ideal for those who eat a vegetable based diet (or people who should eat more Quinoa). Its full of fiber, high in magnesium, potassium, and calcium.  For Pete’s sake: whole South American civilizations subsisted off of Quinoa as their main source of nutrition for centuries!

Quinoa cooks at the same 1:2 ratio as rice, but this bionic seed cooks faster. That alone should get you to swap out your brown rice habit for a quinoa one.

Quinoa and Black Bean Veggie Burgers (Servings: 8-10 patties)

  • 1 ½ cups cooked quinoa
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 6 oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and finely chopped
  • 1 ½ cups cooked black beans, or 1 15-oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained, divided
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Preheat oven to 350°F

Diced onion and sun-dried tomato.

Diced onion and sun-dried tomato.

Saute onions and sun-dried tomatoes. (The oil from the tomatoes should be enough to saute the onion.) Cook 3 to 4 minutes, or until onion has softened. Stir in ¾ of the black beans, garlic, cumin, salt and pepper. Simmer for a few minutes. Make sure that the onions get a little brown on them. You want that depth of flavor. Believe it.

IMG_2969

Transfer bean-onion mixture to food processor, add ¾ cup cooked quinoa, and process until smooth.

IMG_2970

Transfer to bowl, and stir in remaining ¾ cup quinoa and remaining black beans. If the mix is dry, add a little water. If it is too watery add more Quinoa. The consistency should ‘hold up’ in the shape of a burger.

Season with salt and pepper, if needed and cool.

Beauties ready to go.

Beauties ready to go.

Shape bean mixture into 8-10 patties, depending on how big or small you’d like them. In order for there to be consistency you can use either a 1/4 or 1/2 cup dry measure to scoop the mix out of the bowl. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment.

Bake 20 minutes, or until patties are crisp on top. Flip patties, and bake 10 minutes more, or until both sides are nice and brown.

Serve how you’d like and enjoy!

I will get back to Bikram once my hand heals. I will finish out the package that I bought and get back to you guys about it. Promise.

Trust me. So good,

Nichole

Garnet Yam Gnocchi in Brown Butter & Sage with Pink Lady Apples

29 Nov

Alright lets get the awkward part out of the way. Where have I been?

I KNOW.

I won’t get into a lot of details, but I’m going to blame Apple for my absence. My Macbook has been pressing me to upgrade my iPhoto (where pics get stored) for a while. I finally did and now I hate iPhoto. Hate it.

IT TAKES FOREVER.

Well played Steve Jobs (or whoever is in charge  these days). I know how much you guys count on my incredible photo skills, so I wasn’t going to do a post sans my stunning photography. Good enough?

Great, lets get to the food.

This recipe was inspired by left over garnet yams and a recent trip that I made to my new favorite restaurant in San Francisco – Rich Table. The recipe is seasonal, rich, simple, but decadent all in the spirit of Fall. I love gnocchi, but I never make it with russet potatoes, always garnet yams (the orange ones) because I prefer the flavor. The dish at Rich Table was a pork tagliatelle with apples and almonds. I loved the apples so much that in the spirit of culinary inspiration, I came straight home and added thinly sliced apples to my gnocchi. See how that works, inspiration is everywhere! Or anywhere there are incredible cooks behind  the stove, like at Rich Table.

Pork Tagliatelle with Apples and Almonds from Rich Table. Beautiful, right?

Why you should eat this?

Garnet Yams are full of fiber, anti oxidants, and anti inflammatory goodness. Beta carotenes, vitamin A & C, and magnesium. Of course with the added butter and cheese in this recipe the benefits will be compromised, just don’t eat this every day. Or try your best… because it’s really stinking good. The flavors are right on for Fall, sweetness from the cinnamon in the gnocchi paired with the tartness of the raw apples, and the richness of REAL butter (use it) and sage. This dish will warm up the cold nights ahead, for sure.

Sweet Potato Gnocchi in Brown Butter & Sage with Pink Lady Apples 

(Servings: 6-8)

For the Gnocchi

  • 2 lbs. sweet potatoes
  • cup whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus 1/3 cup for the work surface

For the Sage Brown Butter:

  • ½ cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
  • 20 fresh sage leaves
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 small Pink Lady apple, sliced paper thin

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Pierce the sweet potato with a fork. Bake the yams on a parchment lined sheet tray until tender and fully cooked, between 40 to 55 minutes depending on size.


Cool slightly.

Cut in half and scoop the flesh into a large bowl or peel the skins off with your fingers, depending on how much hot your hands can take. I don’t really have any feeling left in my fingers, so I went with the peel technique.

Using a potato ricer or a masher, mash the yams and transfer to a large measuring cup to make sure the yams measure about 2 cups.

Transfer the mashed yams back to the large bowl. Add the ricotta cheese, salt, cinnamon, and pepper and mix well.

Add the flour, 1/2 cup at a time until a soft dough forms.

Lightly flour a work surface and place the dough in a ball on the work surface. Divide the dough into 6 equal balls.

Roll out each ball into a 1-inch wide rope.

Cut each rope into 1-inch pieces.

Roll the gnocchi over the tines of a fork to form each piece.

Transfer the formed gnocchi to a large parchment lined baking sheet. Continue with the remaining gnocchi. You have some work to do here.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.

Add the gnocchi in 3 batches and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 5 to 6 minutes.

Drain the gnocchi using a slotted spoon onto a baking sheet. Tent with foil to keep warm and continue with the remaining gnocchi.

For the brown butter and sage sauce: While the gnocchi are cooking melt the butter in a large saute pan over medium heat.

When the butter has melted add the sage leaves. Continue to cook, swirling the butter occasionally, until the foam subsides and the milk solids begin to brown. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the salt, and pepper. Careful, the mixture will get bubbly. Gently stir the sauce.

When the bubbles subside, quickly toss the cooked gnocchi in the brown butter and sage.

Slice the apple super thin.

Transfer the gnocchi to a serving dish, add apple slices raw,  and serve immediately.

Trust me.

So good,

Nichole

Roasted Tomato Soup

13 Sep

This is my favorite time of year – end of summer beginning of fall: tomato season.

You say tomato, I say tomato soup. In a bittersweet twist, gone are the days when I dip a grilled cheese sandwich in a steaming bowl of this sweet and tangy goodness. Gone. Way gone. So gone.

Thanks a lot, dairy-induced-chin-breakouts.

These days, my skin seems to prefer a chunkier version of the broth-y classic. I like to load up on various toppings, mix them in and enjoy a hearty bowl of soup. This roasted version is just that – small chunks of roasted veggies – topped with MORE roasted tomatoes, goat cheese (troublesome skin friendly cheese option), scallions, nutritional yeast (remember that), and a spoonful of sirachup. You heard me, sriarcha + ketchup = srirachup. A spoonful to finish off this soup is just the right amount of spice to kick things up a bit.

My good friends at Sosu ketchup knew exactly what they were doing (magic) when they came up with the winning combination. They were also the very generous souls who gave me the tomatoes that I used to make this soup. Picked them up fresh from their kitchen – urban farming!

You can find their all-natural artisan ketchups here: www.sosuketchup.com  or very soon at a farmers market near me (San Francisco).

Why you should eat this? 

Tomatoes, guys: they’re like really good for you. Such a pretty fruit.

Loaded with so many good things – let us (and my limited attention span) focus on just one. Antioxidants. Vitamin C, E, and beta- carotene. Antioxidant super stars.

Why are antioxidants so important? Let’s get science-y.

Oxidation from our everyday environments can produce free radicals. The free radicals (bad guys) can cause chain reactions in your cells that will harm or kill them. Antioxidants (good guys) step in by terminating the chain reactions and helping to prevent damage to your cells. This is a very basic explanation, but just know that tomatoes are not the ‘fountain of youth’ – maybe like a ‘slow leak to a more youthful you’.

Eat tomatoes, guys. Right now while they are at their taste/nutrition peak!

Roasted Tomato Soup (Servings: 4)

  • 5-8 tomatoes (medium sized), cored if the seeds are large- otherwise OK, quartered
  • 1 large red bell pepper, seeded and quartered
  • 3 medium yellow onions, peeled and quartered
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • 5 large cloves of garlic, unpeeled
  • fine-grain sea salt
  • 2 – 3 cups vegetable stock or water
  • Srirachup to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or if you’d like – rub pans down with olive oil.

Arrange the tomatoes, skin side down, on a baking sheet.

Coat the bell pepper and onions with olive oil and put them on the other baking sheet along with the garlic (UNPEELED), place the pepper skin side down as well.

Give both baking sheets a sprinkle of salt.

Bake until onions get a bit of brown (you can turn them if you feel like they are getting too brown)….

and the tomatoes start to collapse a bit, about 45 minutes to an hour.

Be careful to check on the garlic here, if they are getting brown and a super soft by now, pull them from the oven.

Peel the garlic, dump all of the roasted vegetables (set aside some of the tomatoes to top the soup with. Do it! They are like candy at this point) into a big pot, and puree with a hand blender.

You can also use a conventional blender or food processor and work in batches. Blend in a cup of the stock, and keep adding the rest 1/2 cup at a time until the soup is the desired consistency.I like a chunk and texture to this soup, but smooth or chunky is your call. If the soup is not in a pot, add to a big pot and heat it back to a boil.

Serve in big bowls. Add the nutritional yeast (if you like) and  srirachup or your favorite hot sauce – adjusting it to your taste.

Top with goat cheese, reserved roasted tomatoes, and scallions. Maybe a big green salad on the side.

Slurp away.

Trust me, so good.

Nichole

Chipotle Bourbon Marinade

26 Jul

Make this. You will wonder how you ever lived without. No, really.

Marinate chicken or shrimp, grill vegetables, add to quesadillas, slather it on tofu or tempeh, scramble in eggs, make a vinaigrette, rub on steaks, add to ketchup and use in burgers or fries, on and on and on.

Make a lot of this and portion it out into ziploc bags and freeze to have on hand when life/food needs some spicing up. No bourbon on hand? You can use vodka or tequila too!

It’s like the ‘little black dress’ of marinades. A spicy little black dress.

Annnnnddddd, it’s so easy. SO easy. You simply need  the ingredients and a food processor (or blender). What would be easier? I come over and do it for you? Holler, we can make arrangements. I mean, there is booze involved, so it won’t take much else to convince me.

Why you should eat this? 

Be brave. Eat spicy foods.

In general, hot, spicy foods are stimulants. They stimulate the circulation and raise body temperature. If you live in a hot climate (obvs not here in SF), the increase in body temperature can make you feel cooler by diminishing the difference between you and the surrounding air, by inducing sweating, which cools the body when the perspiration evaporates. Perfect summer time sauce, if you are some place in the world where it is hot. If you are here in SF, well the spicy food will warm you temporarily, then there  is the booze.

Chipotle and Bourbon Marinade 

  • 1 can (7 oz) chipotle chiles in adobo
  • 3 tablespoons Bourbon (tequila or vodka)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons honey (can use 1 tbsp brown sugar)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Place all ingredients in the food processor and blend. Tasting is important here, if you think the sauce it too spicy for your liking, add more lime and honey (or brown sugar), maybe more ketchup, blend some more. Keep testing flavors until it is to your taste.

If you don’t like it at all, at least you have booze.

** Marinade should be more thick than it appears in this picture… not sure why it looks so thin here. Clearly, I haven’t been working on my photography skills as promised. Guilty.

I like to marinate chicken drums and thighs in this for a few hours and then bake at 400 degrees for 50 minutes or so. Serve with rice and beans. That char on the skin – my favorite.

Trust me, so good.

Nichole

Spicy Lamb Curry

17 Jul

Summer in San Francisco. This almost sums it up, you can’t get the full reality until the you’ve experienced the wind. Cold, bone-chilling, wind. I’m not being dramatic here (I didn’t write that in ALL CAPS) and I’m not going to quote Mark Twain, but foggy, balmy, windy,  54 degrees is not the typical stuff summer dreams are made of. BBQ’s, sundresses, beaches, picnics, sunbathing…. all compromised by the lack of any actual sunshine and that WIND.

After spending the last few years in what I now consider tropical paradise, San Diego, it is taking me a bit of time to readjust to the climate here in the north. I’ve managed to acclimate (kicking and screaming) with a new devotion to layers, multiple hot showers each day, always hot tea/coffee  (sure do miss an iced coffee here and there), and the comfiest of comfort foods. This here, being no exception.

A big warm steaming bowl of this curry at the end of a cold day is just what I love. Savory, spicy, rich, and filling. Like a big hug in a bowl, though I don’t really like hugs that much, so more like a big SF Giants win in a bowl. You get what I mean.

Why you should eat this? 

If you are in another part of the country that is experiencing a heat wave or even summer weather in general – save this recipe until you cool down. Or maybe you have AC? Turn it up and make this.

If you are here in San Francisco or maybe reading this from the North Pole (what’s up, Santa!) then I’ve got something for ya. Eat this because it is good. It is not terrible for you and it is super easy. I can literally whip this up in 20 minutes, put it in the pot to simmer and jump into my second or third shower of the day.

Serve over a heap of brown basmati rice and warm naan. So good. Pro tip: if you’ve given up on eating gluten, eat this with white corn tortillas in lieu of the naan, because eating this with your fingers is the way to go.

I like to use ground lamb here, but have tried it with ground turkey and it is a very good substitution. If you are more inclined to use a ground beef, go for it.

Spicy Lamb Curry (Servings: 4-6)

  • 1 lb. ground lamb
  • 24 0z jar of  marinara sauce
  • 4 tbsp. curry powder
  • 1 onion, small dice
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeno, small dice
  • 1 red bell , small dice
  • 3 scallion, chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • brown basmati rice , cooked
  • naan (or corn tortillas)

Heat a bit of oil in a 4 qt. dutch oven or pot.

Add ground meat, a little salt and pepper and let it brown.

Once brown, remove from pot and set aside.

Add onions to the same pot to brown, scraping up bits of the remaining ground meat from the bottom of the pan (if you have a little wine here, you can add a splash to help with the scraping).

Add red bell, jalepeno, and garlic.

When the onions are translucent, add browned meat back in.

Give a good stir and add curry powder.

Add marinara sauce and stir. Bring to a boil and turn down heat to simmer. I know, my photography skills are incredible, right? I’ll work on this… promise.

Let the curry sauce simmer for about 20 minutes, you want the marinara to reduce a little, give the veggies time to absorb flavor, and the curry spices to really release all of their super flavored goodness (legit culinary term).

Test for seasoning, if you need more salt and pepper – do it. Also, if your jalepenos weren’t spicy enough for you, add some red chili flakes. Be brave, it’s cold outside!

Serve over the brown basmati rice and garnish with chopped scallions, eat up. WITH naan or tortillas AND your fingers.

TRUST ME, SO GOOD (dramatic flare)!!!!!

Nichole

Pulled Jerk Chicken

25 Jun

Admittedly, jerk is one of my favorite words. Not jerk in culinary terms, but the derogatory jerk. In a world where it would be acceptable to wear the same t-shirt everyday, I want to wear one that proclaims: Don’t be a Jerk.

That said, I realize a t-shirt will not create a difference in the jerk agenda, but the smug grin that I could pair it with, just might be priceless. Like say, you are wearing your blue tooth in the grocery store and having a conversation so loud that everyone from produce to bakery can hear all about how you just put fancy hubcaps on your sweet ride? I would purposefully walk right in front of you, just so you could see my t-shirt. If you were standing behind me in line, I would stand in that line backwards, facing you.

OK, I digress. Point is: don’t be a jerk, unless you are the pulled chicken sandwich variety.

Pulled Jerk Chicken can do no wrong in my book. Sweet, savory, spicy goodness. Chicken so flavorful and tender that it can easily stand up against the beloved BBQ pulled pork that so many people adore. The pork version full of saturated fat from the pork and sugar from the sauce is a treat, for sure. Why not get the same satisfaction without gambling with heart disease?

You can eat this as a sandwich, a lettuce cup,  maybe as a taco, or as a salad on top of some really cool, hearty greens. Meat is so tender and flavorful, you won’t even need a dressing.

Why you should eat this? 

Its summer, you’re probably hot. This can be made late at night, when the house has cooled down, your catching up on TV. You can then heat it up the next day  and it will be amazing. These as a sandwich can be wrapped up and taken to a baseball game. Believe me on that one. As a lettuce wrap, put some of the meat in a container, lettuce in a baggie and boom, lunch.

This recipe is a lot of ingredients, but don’t be dismayed. You literally throw all of it into a pot and let it cook. Most of the ingredients will be fine to live in your pantry until the next time you make this and the perishable ones, you can buy only what you need. This is worth the extra time spent on your shopping list!

Phew, OK: long recipe – long winded, sorry.

Pulled Jerk Chicken (8 – 12 servings)

  • For the rub:
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground allspice
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground nutmeg
  • For the chicken: 
  • 4 lbs. bone-less, skin-less chicken thighs
  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil (or another high heat oil that you prefer)
  • For the marinade:
  • ½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ½ cup dark molasses (not blackstrap)
  • cup distilled white vinegar
  • cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • cup soy sauce (I used Gluten-free Shoyu, use what you have)
  • 1  tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 medium garlic cloves, smashed
  • 3 medium scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 1 ½ cups cilantro (about 1 bunch), coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 (3-inch) piece fresh ginger, sliced into 1/4-inch coins
  • 1 habanero pepper, seeded and sliced into rounds
  • To serve:
  • 24 (4-inch) deli French rolls or Iceberg Lettuce for cups
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

Combine all rub ingredients in a small bowl.

Coat the chicken all over with the rub and set aside. Get your hands dirty here, make sure that all of the spices are rubbed in and evenly coated.

Make your marinade.

Stem and seed the habanero pepper. Use caution here, if you have rubber gloves, wear those when handling the habanero. If not, wash hands thoroughly when you are done and don’t touch anything on your face for a while. In fact, go ahead and wash them again and again.

Peel your ginger and cut into 1/4 inch pieces.

Place all marinade ingredients in a medium nonreactive bowl and whisk to combine.

Heat the oil in a large pot that can transfer from stove to oven (dutch oven)  over medium-high heat.

Add the chicken to the pan, pour the marinade over and bring to a simmer. Turn off heat and cover the pot.

Place in the oven for 2:30  hours.

When the chicken is ready, remove the chicken from the sauce to a bowl. This will be tricky as the chicken pieces will be tender and falling apart.

Strain the sauce through a fine-mesh strainer, pour the sauce back into pot, get sauce to a simmer and turn to low. Let simmer while you pull the chicken.

Discard the herbs, ginger, and garlic pieces left behing in the strainer.


When the chicken is cool enough to handle, shred it into bite-sized pieces and place back in the pot with the sauce until ready to serve.

Split the deli rolls in half and toast,  place  the jerk chicken mixture on each sandwich.

If using lettuce, choose Iceberg and split the head into quarters and peel leaves apart. Place chicken in each ‘cup’ and enjoy.

Seriously, this is so good, trust me.

Nichole

Sun-dried Tomato and Green Olive Tapenade

19 Jun

This is not really a tapenade.

A tapenade would have capers. Looks like a pesto,but a pesto would have nuts and parmesan cheese.

Am I still in your circle of trust?

I guess I could call this a spread, but seeing that word as a headline makes me feel a little generic, somehow kinda cheap.

Great, now I’m shallow.

All of a sudden this whatever-it-is, is totally ruining my credibility.

Let me call it a tapenade, ok?

How about a *tapenade?

*Tapenade – a caper -less Provencal dish consisting of pureed green olives, sun-dries tomatoes, and basil. It is a popular dish in Nichole’s kitchen where it is generally eaten as a sauce for pasta, spread on sandwiches, scrambled in eggs, or by the spoon full over the sink.

Why you should eat this? 

Let’s talk about good fats. The fats in the extra virgin olive oil and the green olives in this *tapenade have incredible health benefits. Anti- inflammatory, heart healthy, improves brain function, protects blood vessels, improves digestion, and the polyphenols found in olive oil are natural for helping us lower our risk of certain cancer types.

Why are we not doing shots of this right now?

If you are on a low-fat diet, it is still really important to consume healthy fats such as extra-virgin olive oil. Fats are what make us feel full at meal times and if you are not consuming enough, you’ll be a walking around a hungry zombie of a dieter.

Sun Dried Tomato and Green Olive *Tapenade  (Servings: 8)

  • 1 cup chopped or julienned sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained
  • 1 cup  medium green olives, pitted
  • 1 packed cup fresh basil leaves
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Zest and juice of 1 large lemon
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Optional – 3/4 cup of Parmesan Cheese
  • Optional – 1 lb Linguine (or your favorite pasta, I used soba noodles)

In a food processor, combine the sun-dried tomatoes, olives, basil, garlic, oil, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Puree, make sure that the garlic gets chopped up properly. Run a rubber spatula around to make sure that there are no chunks of it left.

Pulse until blended but still chunky (no big garlic chunks, though). Season with salt and pepper, to taste

SO EASY.

This can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks in a well sealed container.

If you are adding this to pasta, cook pasta according to directions and then throw a few heaping spoonfuls into the warm pasta. Keep adding the *tapenade until it suits your taste. This is where you can add parmesan cheese. Lots of it.

I like to throw a few spoonfuls of this into a quick egg scramble too. Super quick, really easy. Eggs full of flavor.

This is so good.

Trust me,

Nichole

Chicken Adobo for the Soul

23 May

 

I am just getting over a cold. Or maybe the flu. MAYBE, I just fended off the plague? Any way, it was 3 full days of a 104 degree temperature and enough congestion yuckiness to keep me out of the kitchen and in bed for a good week. Gross, I haven’t been this sick in a long time. I was probably pushing myself a little too much, working a lot and training for some races, my body was telling me that I needed to slow down. Point taken.

So I did. One whole week. THATS A BIG DEAL FOR ME.

Being this sick opened my eyes to a few things: 1) I don’t care for Ginger Ale if it doesn’t have whiskey in it, 2) THEY LOCK UP THE NYQUIL NOW and make you wait in the isle FOREVER just to get it out, (like I had ANY kind of energy to mix up some meth, Safeway!),  3) it is indeed possible to mess up chicken tikka masala… I’m looking at you India Palace.

All I wanted was some comfort food and a good nights sleep.

Alas, here is the comfort food I was seeking: Chicken Adobo over brown rice with sweet pickles and a hard boiled egg. No, this was not a creation born out of my state of delusion. A Philippine friend of mine told me that this is the way her family eats Adobo. I tried and loved it. You should too.

Why you should eat this? 

Just as chicken soup can heal a cold, I’m going to say that chicken adobo can too. It has most of the same properties that are important to a chicken soup, mainly braised chicken. Braising chicken on the bone (thats the key nutritional part here, do it) has many anti inflammatory properties. Soothing a sore throat and help ease the general misery of a cold.

Can I really sit here and tell you that this adobo helped get me through my cold? Yes. It was comfort in a bowl. Which, I believe made everything better. So that should be enough.

Plus? It’s so damn easy. All you need is this

and this

SO EASY.

Chicken Adobo (6-8 servings)

  • 4-5 lbs. chicken thighs and drums
  • ½ cup white vinegar
  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 talk of green onions, chopped
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Jar of Sweet Pickles (you’re not REALLY going to eat just one)

I like to buy the whole legs and then cut them into the thigh and drum portion. It will save you about 80 cents per pound or about  $4.00. Boom, kitchen economics.

Oh, and if you are going to use breasts here, ON THE BONE! Don’t do that boneless, skinless stuff. It will be a dry, sad piece of chicken. Don’t.

 

Combine the first 6 ingredients in a large pot. Bring to boil, then lower heat. Cover and let simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

 

Uncover and simmer until sauce is reduced and thickened, and chicken is tender, about 20 more minutes. I know, this is blurry right? Give me some credit, I was sick this is how everything looked to me for one whole week.

Garnish with green onions. Serve with steamed brown rice, hard boiled egg, and sweet pickles. Or just the rice… whatever kind of rice you prefer.

I like this one

The good news is that I feel mostly human again. Pretty sure it was this and the Nyquil.

Trust me, so good.

-Nichole

Sun dried Tomato Polenta Cakes and Green Garlic Pesto

16 May

Oh. Hey.

Remember me? I brought you here to enjoy my food and writing and the left you in the cold for a few weeks? Forgive me. Life gets in the way . Oh who am I kidding…. it’s baseball season. If there is something that I am more obsessed with than food, it’s baseball. During baseball season, one of my favorite things to do is read news stories and crunch numbers/stats of my favorite team: THE San Francisco Giants.

It’s like that movie with Russell Crowe where he’s some kind of genius that scrawls numbers everywhere. OK, not that bad, but close. Real close.

So, pardon me if I seem a little distant for the next 6 months. I really am going to figure out a way to balance it all, promise.

Let’s get to it. This recipe is something I whipped together for a potluck that I attended a few sundays ago. (Hi guys!) It’s the perfect dish for mixed company. These little polenta cakes can be dressed up in a simple pesto, a hearty red sauce, or maybe a meat bolognese. Serve with big salad or steamed veggies and you’ve got quite a meal on your hands.  It would be a tragedy if I didn’t add that these polenta cakes are amazing the next morning with a fried egg on top.

Like this.

The recipe is a pretty standard polenta, added bonus of pine nuts and sun dried tomatoes really up the deliciousness.  The pesto here is really the star attraction. I used the first of the season, green garlic and basil from the Farmer’s market. If you make this in the future and cannot find green garlic because it has a short season, go with regular garlic. Works and is still fantastic.

The idea of them as a cake came due to my fixation with a whoopie pie pan that someone gave me. Whoopie pies are not really my thing. Maybe in another lifetime or just for you guys here, I might get the urge to make those cake pie sandwiches, but for the now, this pan will be turning out savory items like this. Probably a plethora of patties… burgers, sausages and such. If you don’t have a pan like this, you can use a cupcake pan. Fill them about halfway up. They will be taller with less surface area, but will still be a great vessel for any sauce. You can also use well greased ramekins. Or you can just eat this polenta as it is, flavor doesn’t change, still delicious.

Why should you eat this?

Basil is full of essential nutrients that promote heart health. Basil is a very good source of vitamin A and beta- carotenes. Which help prevent free radical damage in the arteries, that can lead to a heart attack or stroke.

Free radical damage is a contributing factor in many other conditions as well, including asthma, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis. The beta-carotene found in basil may help to lessen the progression of these conditions while protecting cells from further damage.

Basil is a good source of magnesium, which promotes cardiovascular health by prompting muscles and blood vessels to relax, improving blood flow and lessening the risk of irregular heart rhythms or a spasming of the heart muscle or a blood vessel.

BUT LADIES, basil does not protect your heart from jerky boys. For that you’ll need a good head about ya or a baseball bat, whatever works for you.

Sun-Dried Tomato and Pine Nut Polenta

(Servings: 6-8)

 

  • ⅓ cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, rinsed, patted dry, and chopped coarse
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 7 ½ cups water
  • Salt and pepper
  • Pinch baking soda
  • 1 ½ cups coarse-ground cornmeal
  • 2 ounces (1 cup) good-quality parmesan cheese, grated
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted

Bring water to boil in heavy-bottomed 4quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in ½ teaspoon salt and baking soda.

Slowly pour cornmeal into water in steady stream, while stirring back and forth with wooden spoon or rubber spatula. Bring mixture to boil, stirring constantly, about 1 minute. Cover and reduce heat to lowest possible setting.

Cook for 5 minutes, then whisk polenta to smooth out any lumps, about 15 seconds. (Make sure to scrape down sides and bottom of pan.) Cover and continue to cook, without stirring, until polenta is tender but slightly al dente, about 25 minutes longer. (Polenta should be loose and barely hold its shape but will continue to thicken as it cools.)

Meanwhile use paper towels to squeeze out as much of the oil in the sun dried tomatoes as you can. Then chop them into small pieces.  Set aside.

Carefully toast the pine nuts until they have just a small amount of browning. Remove from pan, to stop cooking. Set aside.

 

Off heat, stir in parmesan, sun dried tomatoes, and pine nuts. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Using an ice cream scoop for consistency, scoop polenta into pan. Like so.

This pan in no stick, but if you have any concerns about your polenta sticking, go ahead and rub some olive oil on the pan. Pop the pan in the fridge for 10 minutes to cool polenta and let cakes set.

I had to do this in 2 quick batches. I only have ONE whoopee pie pan that I don’t use very often…

Remove from pans and serve with pesto.  This one.

Green Garlic and Basil Pesto (Servings: 6-8)

 

  • ¼ cup raw pine nuts
  • 1 small bunch basil
  • 10 medium spinach leaves, thick stems removed*
  • 2 stalks garlic greens, roughly chopped (use all except the very thin top parts)
  • ** If you do not have Green Garlic – use 4 cloves of regular garlic
  • Zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • A few good grinds of pepper
  • 6 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup grated Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

 

Lightly toast the pine nuts in a small, dry pan over very low heat, until just starting to brown, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes. Thoroughly wash and dry the basil, spinach and garlic greens – this is not the best time for extra moisture. Combine the pine nuts, basil, spinach, garlic greens, lemon zest and juice, salt and pepper in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Pulse about 10 times, until the greens are roughly chopped. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. With the motor running, pour the olive oil slowly through the feed tube. Remove the pesto to a large bowl and toss with the grated cheese.

Adjust seasoning with extra salt and pepper to taste, and serve with extra grated cheese on the side.

 

Trust me, this is so good.

XOXO

Nichole

 

Beef or Tofu Bulgogi

3 Apr

This recipe, I am sharing by request. Someone asked me to write it down for them, but because I don’t cook with physical recipes, I needed to buy some time. Figure out a way to write this recipe so that it makes sense for everyone. Most of the time, I am guilty of describing recipes as: half a cup of soy sauce, maybe a few spoons of brown sugar, like 4 ounces of rice vinegar, and a vodka tonic. No sense at all.

I promised that I’d have it posted here within a week.

Boom. Nailed it.

Thinly sliced beef, marinated in sweet and savory. Ginger, scallions, and garlic living in harmony. The keys to most asian dishes. This is my interpretation of Beef Bulgogi. A Korean dish that  is so popular these days, there are chefs making butt loads of money, making a taco out of it.

I KNOW, what am I doing with my life?

The way it goes down for me is with brown rice, steamed broccoli and kimchi. Lots and lots of kimchi. This may or may not be my perfect vessel to consume VAST amounts of kimchi (fermented spicy cabbage, so good).

Why you should eat this? 

I’ve given you guys the run down on grass fed beef and brown rice, so eat this because its good.

If you prefer chicken or pork, go on and substitute it.

If your vegetarian, I got you. I have done this with an extra firm sprouted tofu (will include instructions below) and it was really good. My vegetarian clients (and me too)  loved the way that the tofu soaked up the marinade.

I prefer sprouted because as the packing states; it is easier to digest. Soy products should typically be eaten in moderation and always organic as they can often be allergenic. Soy is a product that is heavily genetically modified here in the US.

Beef or Tofu Bulgogi (Servings: 6)

  • 1-1.5 lbs. of thinly sliced rib-eye steak.
  • OR 1 package sprouted ext a firm tofu, diced
  • ⅓ cup of soy sauce or for a Gluten-Free variation, use Tamari Wheat Free Soy Sauce found in the health food section of your local grocery store.
  • 3 Tbl brown sugar (light or dark doesn’t matter. I’ve used white too, works)
  • 1 Tbl sesame oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. of ginger, finely minced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, sliced into slivers
  • 2 green onions including the white parts, finely sliced
  • 2 Tbl toasted sesame seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon of red pepper flakes
  • black pepper
You can slice your own rib-eye or sirloin steak across the grain in paper thin slices. Partially freezing the beef helps with cutting clean slices.

Whisk all the ingredients together in a medium bowl except beef/tofu and onions.

Onion slices should look like this. Thin, half moons. So that they cook evenly with the thinly sliced beef or small diced tofu.

When the sugar has dissolved, add beef/tofu and onion slices to the bowl.

In case the vegetarians feel like running away. Here, lookit!!

Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

To pan fry, place a few slices of beef/tofu in single layers and completely flat on a hot oiled frying pan and fry each side until cooked.

I prefer to cook the bulgogi until some of the edges have turned dark brown and crispy. This is where the brilliance of adding sugar comes in, imparts a sweet smoky taste. PLEASE use caution here, we’re not making jerky. Don’t let this sit for too long. If you are using a non-stick pan, it may not ever get brown. Keep an eye on it and use good judgment.

YES, I used two different wooden spoons to cook this…. things get hectic in the kitchen and I grab for just about anything. So what.

Serve with a bowl of hot rice, steamed vegetables, and kimchi… if your into that kind of thing. Otherwise, I know people who love to give this a good douse of sriracha. Who am I to stop you.

Trust me, so good.

 

Enjoy,

Nichole