Lo Mein Primavera

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

I cannot wait for the sun to come out!!! Due to the nasty weather this week the pool at the country club has closed, therefore I can't work the pool grille. Thankfully this weekend looks promising!

It was actually nice to have today off though because we made the transition from the beach house to our regular house for the rest of the week. I was able to help my mom pack up and get home early to do a little shopping and prepare dinner.

I recently bought the new Good Housekeeping magazine. It was cool to read because I was a part of a few aspects of this issue (although I worked more on the October and November issue). The first week of my internship I went to Grenwich Village for a photo shoot for the dishes featured in this issue. I stayed for the shoots of these 2 one-dish dinners:

It's so cool to see the final photos in the magazine after seeing the amount of work that goes into choosing the perfect shot.

I was browsing through the recipes and decided to make the Lo Mein Primavera for my mom and I. I tried to follow the recipe almost exactly, but of course I added a few simple changes. Here's the recipe with my changes:

1 pkg. extra-firm tofu
9 oz eziekiel fettucini (or any whole grain fettucini/linguine)
2 T. coconut oil
2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
1 red pepper, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 zucchini, cut into half-moons
2 carrots, grated
1 bunch baby spinach
1/4 cup bragg's amino acids
1/2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
chopped cilantro for serving

1. Cut in large chunks. Place on a paper towel lined plate and place another layer of paper towel on top. Place a heavy pot on top to press the tofu of excess liquid. Set aside while prepping the rest of the ingredients.
2. Cook the fettucini in salted boiling water until al dente. Rinse and set aside.
3. In a 12-inch non-stick skillet heat 1 T. oil on medium for a minute. Add the tofu in a single layer and cook about 10 minutes, until browned, turning once. Transfer to a plate.
4. In sames killet heat remaining T. of oil on medium. Add celery, pepper, and garlic. Cook a few minutes, unti ltender. Add zucchini and cook a couple more minutes, until tender, stirring.
5. Add carrots, soy sauce, and spinach. Cook until the spinach has wilted and everything is cooked through. Toss with the pasta, tofu, and garnish with chopped cilantro. For extra heat add some cayenne pepper!

This was a delicious healthy meal! I'm so glad we have enough leftovers to enjoy this meal again tomorrrow for dinner! Way to go Good Housekeeping :)

Slow Roasted Tomato Caprese Salad

We had a couple of visitors over last night for cocktail hour before dinner (my uncle and his girlfriend visiting from NY).. My mom asked me what we should serve for cocktail hour and I immediately thought of Barefoot Contessa's tomato caprese salad. This is no ordinary caprese salad... The tomatoes are slow roasted with minced garlic, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, a bit of sugar, and crushed black pepper. After roasting away in a low oven for a few hours the natural sugars of the tomatoes come out and the flavors are perfectly enhanced.

Right before our guests arrived I assembled the salad with sliced fresh mozzarella that we got from a local Italian deli and fresh basil from our "garden" (aka basil plant on the balcony). The caprese salad was a hit! I eat these tomatoes like candy and will be snacking on them and adding them to my lunch sandwiches throughout the week.

You can find the recipe here. I followed the recipe exactly, except I left the tomatoes in the oven for a bit longer (almost 3 hours!).

Sun Sun Go Away Come Again Another Day.....

Sunday, August 22, 2010

I know, I know.. Where have I been??? This is the longest time I have ever gone without blogging. But, hey.. I've been busy!!!!! As you all know, I have been job searching ever since my internship has ended at Good Housekeeping. I have had no luck until a couple of weeks ago. All of a sudden I received a bunch of calls in the course of 3 days. I scheduled interviews for basically whatever I could get and figured I'd see if any of the places seemed like a good fit for me.

I narrowed my potential career choice down to two... Di bruno brothers in Philadelphia and Battleground Country Club in Manalapan, NJ (only 20 min from my house). Both jobs were extremely different, but I trusted my gut feeling and went with the job in New Jersey. I felt really at ease with the employees of the company and felt that it was a place that I could really build my career. Di Bruno Bros may have been an interesting job, but I realized I may not be quite ready to make the big move out to Philadelphia.

Well, I started my new job as the pool grille cook and supervisor a couple of weeks ago. It was challenging at first to learn the ropes, but I quickly felt at home. It's not quite as glamorous as my internship at Good Housekeeping or any job I dreamed of having in food styling/food media, but I feel confident that I'm still doing what I love and I'm with a really good company that will treat me well. After labor day I'll move on to the country club restaurant and train to be a manager. I have always wanted to be a restaurant manager and feel that I will be really successful at this position given my customer service background (thank you, Nordstrom!) and culinary background. I'll keep y'all updated on how everything turns out!

Anyways, today was my day off and was a rainy and dreary day. Normally, I would be bummed out because that means I'm stuck inside and can't go to the beach or pool. However, today I was actually excited for the crappy weather because all I wanted to do was relax and watch sappy Lifetime movies with my mom. Sooooo..that's exactly what we did. Large mugs of tea were made as we cuddled with our puppies in front of the TV. Around 3:00, we started on dinner... yup, 3:00. What better thing to make on a rainy Sunday than homemade pasta?! This has to be my favorite thing to make (and eat!).

We started out by making the pasta dough:
-1 1/4 c. whole wheat flour
-1 1/4 c. all purpose flour
-1/2 tsp. salt
-4 eggs
-1 T. olive oil
-3 T. warm water

Combine the flours and salt. Form a well and add the eggs, olive oil, and water. Whisk and incorporate. Knead the dough until smooth (5-10 min-- upper body workout number 1). Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for about 30 min.

While we were cooking, we snacked on some heirloom cherry tomatoes from the Asbury Park farmer's market. They were sooo sweet.. we ate them like candy:

Next, we took our large bunch of roma tomatoes (also from the farmer's market) and concasse'd them (aka blanched). To make tomato concasse, simply core the tomatoes and mark an "x" on the other end of the tomato with a pairing knife. Plunge them in boiling water for a mere 10 seconds and them immediately shock them in ice water. Peel off the skins and remove the seeds. My mom and I started removing the seeds and realized that these small roma tomatoes didn't have that many seeds, so we decided to save some time and skip this step. I simply roughly chopped the peeled tomatoes and set them aside for our sauce.

The other prime ingredient that we needed for our sauce was fresh basil. My mom and I skipped out to our garden (I kid you not) and picked a large bunch.

Yes, our garden consists of a large pot of basil on our condo balcony....

Did I mention we have a wine garden too? We apparantly grow empty wine bottles...

Finally it was time to make some PASTA!

Last week my mom and I bought this crafty pasta machine from William Sonoma. We chose to make bucatini (well... I chose to make bucatini). What is bucatini? It's a thick hollow spaghetti..my most favoooorite type of pasta! Well, let me tell you.. I got some workout making this pasta. This machine is not electronic and quite hard to use. In fact, my mom and I are considering returning it after all of the work it required (especially cleaning). We noticed as we were making hte pasta that it was all sticking together, despite the large amount of flour we were constantly sprinkling on it. We just prayed that it would all separate once it dried out a bit and was cooked.

I also browned some hot italian sausages to go with our pasta meal.
Unpictured was a fresh salad that we enjoyed with the rest of those cherry heirloom tomatoes, craisins, and a balsamic vinaigrette.

Ohhh, but how can I forget the sauce?! The best part of the meal!!!!!!!! It was so simple, yet sooo good. Usually I am not this simle, and when it comes to making a pot of sauce, my mom and I add tons of ingredients. However, this was a simple farmer's market sauce and contained only the simplest, fresh ingredients.

I started out by heating extra virgin olive oil in a large saute pan. I added about 5 small cloves of garlic (minced) and sauteed for 30 seconds, until fragrent (DON'T BURN THE GARLIC!) Next, I added those delicious peeled and chopped tomatoes. Seasoned it with a bit of salt and pepper and let the mixture simmer for an hour or 2. At the very end I added in torn basil from the "garden".
Oh so fresh and yummy! I'm sure you want to see a final picture of my plate with the pasta, sauce, cheese, and basil.............

Ummm.. well... I was hungry.. and um well.. I forgot to take a picture. I'M SORRY. I promise you, it was a beautiful plate that was devoured in minutes. My mom and I literally sat at the table after everyone was done and licked our plates...and everyone else's plates...and all of the pots. Ha, you think I'm joking...

Fried Ricotta Stuffed Zucchini Flowers

Sunday, August 1, 2010

I made these zucchini flowers as a fun cocktail hour treat for my mom's birthday. It really brought back memories for my mom since her grandma used to make them all the time. While I followed my mom's traditional family recipe, I added my own little spin to make them extra delicious! I stuffed them with a ricotta cheese mixture before coating them in egg batter and frying them in coconut oil. Here is the recipe for this outstanding Italian treat:

15-20 zucchini flowers
1 cup ricotta
1/4 cup pecorino or parm, grated
1/4 cup chopped basil
1 cup flour
2 large eggs
salt and pepper
oil for frying (any oil--I used coconut for its health benefits and sweet coconut flavor)
marinara sauce for dipping

1. Wash the zucchini flowers REALLY good-- You might find some bugs inside (yuck!).. Pat dry with paper towel
2. Mix together the ricotta, pecorino, basil, and a touch of cracked black pepper
3. Spoon about a teaspoon of the ricotta mixture inside each zucchini flower. Twist the tops to secure.
4. Heat a large frying pan over high heat and add about 1/4 inch of oil.
5. In a shallow bowl, mix the flour with salt and pepper to taste.
6. In another shallow bowl whisk the eggs.
7. Dredge the zucchini flowers in the flour and then dip in egg. Fry in the hot oil on all sides until brown. Drain on a paper towel. Fry the flowers in batches so the oil stays hot (you may have to add more oil for the other batches).
8. Serve with warm marinara for dipping!
9. Mangia!

Farro Risotto

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

I was watching a show on the cooking channel the other day and they were making a risotto with farro instead of arborio rice. I have never heard of making a risotto with this healthy grain and was instantly intrigued. My mom reminded me that we had a package of farro that we bought a while ago and never used... so last night I experimented with this farro risotto!

Farro Risotto with Roasted Asparagus over Portobello
1 cup farro
-4 cups chicken stock
-1/2 cup white wine
-2 T. olive oil
-1 small onion, chopped
-1 small bunch asparagus, cut in small pieces
-1/2 cup grated parmaggiano reggiano
-salt and pepper
-2 portobello caps
-grated pecorino romano

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss the asparagus on a baking sheet with 1 T. olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast for 15-20 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan bring the chicken stock to a simmer and have it on standby for the risotto.
3. In another medium saucepan, heat 1 T. olive oil over medium heat. Sweat the onion until translucent. Add the farro and toast for a couple of minutes.
4. Add the wine and cook until absorbed. Add in the chicken stock 1 ladleful at a time, constantly stirring. Once the stock is absorbed, add another ladle. Continue until the farro is cooked (it will still be a little chewy, as farro has a bit of a different texture than rice).
5. Season with salt and pepper and add the parm (off the heat). Stir in the roasted asparagus.
6. Spoon out the gills in the portobello caps and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for about 15 minutes.
7. Spoon some risotto in each of the mushroom caps and top with pecorino. Return to the oven for another 10 minutes. Enjoy your risotto with the rest of that white wine :)

Restaurant Review: Hotel Tides

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Another hidden gem in Asbury Park: The restaurant in The Tides Hotel.

My parents and sister discovered this restaurant last week and raved about it. They loved it so much, that they were dying to take me there so I could see for myself. As we walked a few blocks away from the beach in some of the sketchier areas of town, I was hesitant about where they were leading me! Long and behold, we showed up at the hotel... it was not what I was expecting. The outside decor seemed rundown and unimpressive. However, as soon as we walked in, I realized my parents wouldn't steer me wrong. The dining room was exquisite and we were led to a cozy booth off to the side. The lack of crowd at 7:30 on a Friday night was a bit discomforting, but the quiet atmosphere was quite enjoyable.

Naturally, we checked ahead to see if we could bring our own wine. You all should know by now that we are wine snobs and would rather bring a nice bottle from home and pay a corkage fee than have to choose from a short selection of overpriced wines from the restaurant wine list. My dad surprised me by bringing my favorite.. Cask:
My mom and I started off with a lovely beet salad. It was served with lightly dressed arugula and ricotta salata.
My dad started with cornmeal crusted calamari served over greens and a smoked paprika remoulade. It was out of this world!!
For our main dish, my mom and I both ordered the cod that was served over white beans, artichoke hearts, and a sage butter sauce. It was a very light dish with a lot of flavor. I loved the sage flavor that really came through in the beans!
As much as I enjoyed my meal, my dad's meal is seriously worth mentioning! It is pretty clear that I'm not the biggest meat eater and I rarely order meat out at restaurants. However, I would go back to this restaurant and order this dish.. the rack of lamb:
This was the most tasty meat I have ever eaten! The seasoning was incredible and every component to the dish was wonderful. I especially loved the vanilla-scented fennel slaw on the side.. so unique and flavorful! The chef even came out to greet us as we were eating our dinner. I was gnawing on a lamb bone as he came up to our table... that's how good this lamb was. I don't gnaw on bones! My mom, who doesn't eat red meat at all, even had to try a bite..and agreed that it was incredible!

Overall, it was a great night of wonderful food, service, and atmosphere. The restaurant should really work on its marketing to get more customers in. If more people knew about what they have to offer, they would have a packed dining room every night!

"Vegan" Spinach Quiche

Monday, July 12, 2010

Lately my mom and I really enjoy vegan food (even though we are definitely not vegan). I started reading the book Promises to Keep by Jane Green (a fun beach read). Coincidentally, one of the main characters in the book is a vegan chef. After every chapter there was a fun recipe. I particularly noticed one recipe for a "vegan spinach quiche" and showed my mom. She begged me to make it ASAP! And so I did....

For the crust:
1 cup cooked quinoa
2 T. quinoa, rice, spelt, or whole wheat flour to bind (I used whole wheat)
2 T. flaxseed
Small bunch of basil and thyme, finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

For the filling:
1 package firm tofu, drained
Juice of 1 lemon
10 oz fresh spinach
1 clove garlic, minced (I threw it into the vita-prep whole)
1/2 tsp. tumeric (I used paprika because that's all I had)
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 cup nutritional yeast (I'm a dummy and forgot to get this, so I made this quiche non-vegan and added pecorino romano)
1 T. Dijon mustard
1/4 cup toasted pinenuts

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Mix quinoa, flour, flaxseed, herbs, salt and pepper. Grease a flan tin with a removeable base and press the mixture firmly and evenly over the base and up the sides (I forgot to grease the tin, but it still came out fine!!)
3. Combine the tofu with lemon juice in a blender (I used the vita prep) and puree until smooth. Add the spinach and pulse until blended, then add the garlic, turmeric, salt, nutmeg, yeast, and mustard, blending briefly until combined. Pour into the crust, sprinkle the pine nuts on tops and bake for 30-40 minutes. (I also sprinkled the top with halved cherry tomatoes).
4. Serve hot or cold. I sprinkled my slice with crushed red pepper and extra pecorino!

This was so delicious and healthy! My mom and I really enjoyed it :) We're especially excited about how the crust turned out and brainstormed some other ways to use this crust for other recipes! Stay tuned!

Vegan Bean Burger & Summer Vegetable Cous Cous

Last Friday I wanted to make a little something special to bring to a tailgate before the Chicago concert. We bought wraps from our local health food store and I made a summer vegetable cous cous salad that was easy to transport and very light and tasty!

(From Clean Eating)
3 T. balsamic vinegar
1 T. dijon mustard
1 T. extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. fresh ground pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
Olive oil cooking spray
1 medium zucchini, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 yellow squash, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 8-oz package sliced baby portobello mushrooms (I used a mixed blend of mushrooms)
4 cups cooked whole-grain cous cous
1/3 cup crumbled goat cheese
4 sprigs fresh basil, chopped (I used about double this amount--I love basil!)

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar, dijon, oil, salt, pepper, and garlic. Set aside.
3. Spray a large shallow roasting pan (I used 2 baking sheets). Arrange vegetables in single layer on the pan. Drizzle with vinegar mixture, tossing gently. Cook vegetables in oven for about 15 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally.
4. Combine vegetables with couscous, tossing gently. Top with cheese and basil.

Last night, my mom enjoyed some of the leftovers with a vegan black bean burger. I got the recipe from a blog that I regularly read called "The Front Burner". You can find the recipe here.

(The lighting was horrible in my kitchen.... )

Grilled Romaine Salad

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

My family had some 4th of July weekend! We had fabulous dinners starting at the ever popular Langosta Lounge on Thursday. It was fabulous as always. My mom, sister, and I all got a Mahi Mahi special that was incredible! My dad ordered the baby back ribs that came with the best sweet potato fries I have ever had in my life!

On Friday, we had to try out The Trinity and the Pope, which is a new restaurant in Asbury that is owned by the same owner as Langosta (Marilyn Schlossbach). While the cuisine was a bit different than we're used to (Creole/Louisiana-style), it was out of this world! We were immediately given some spicy kettle chips with a Remoulade sauce. I have never tasted anything like it! We all went crazy over it! My dad ordered a short rib in puff pastry appetizer that we all had to try... It was so rich and decadent. I would have ordered it as a main meal! I had the barbecue shrimp with jalepeno andouille grits as my entree. The spice and flavor was incredible! Everybody was very pleased with their meals! Marilyn has done it again... made my very picky family extremely happy with a unique dining experience!

On Sunday night, I cooked for a my family. I made crab cakes yet again, as requested from the rest of the group. I tripled the recipe for Ellie Krieger's crab cakes and made a few small changes. I sauteed the red pepper and green onion before adding it to the mix. I also mixed in whole wheat bread crumbs and then coated the cakes in panko.

For the side-dishes, I made some sweet potato fries, corn on the cob, and a grilled romaine salad. I was inspired by a TV shoot I helped out with at Good Housekeeping featuring Guy Fieri. He grilled romaine hearts and topped it with a sauteed onion and bacon mixture and some crumbled blue cheese. It looked soo good, so I had to make my own recreation of the salad.

I started by halving 3 romaine lettuce hearts and washing them thouroughly. After patting them dry, I grilled them a few minutes per side, until they were slightly charred and wilted. I sauteed 2 large vidalia onions and spooned it on top of the romaine. I also sprinkled on some dried cranberries, gorgonzola, and topped it with a balsamic vinaigrette:

For our last day of the holiday weekend, my parents, sister, and I layed on the beach until the early hours of the evening. We didn't make it out to dinner until around 8:00. We walked on over to Stella Marina, hoping for a delicious, relaxing dinner that we usually always recieve. Unfortunately, Stella was slacking on Monday. Not sure if it was the aftermath of a crazy weekend or what, but there shouldn't be any excuse for the service that we recieved. We arrived at the restaurant and were not seated for another 20 minutes, despite the availability of tables. It took longer than usual to recieve our bottle of wine. The waitress brought over some bread, which we were delighted to see because we were starving. However, upon first bite we realized the bread was unebile..stale and clearly very old. We kindly asked our waitress if there was any fresher bread available, but she regrettably told us they ran out from the weekend (couldn't they have at least revived a loaf by popping it into the oven?!). We got over it quickly and anxiously awaited our salad and vegetable appetizers. Well, those never came. We were waiting over an hour before we had to complain and beg for an explanation for the ridiculously long wait. The manager came over and said that the salads would probably not be out any time soon because of a back up in the kitchen. We asked for the check, paid for our wine, and left. Stella Marina is off our list of favorite restaurants for a while. Unfortunately, because I have always enjoyed it there. Our night ended with pizza on the boardwalk and a late night walk home...

Crab Egg White Omelet

I'm a bit behind in my blog updates, but I wanted to share with y'all another wonderful lunch that I made for my mom and I a couple of weeks ago. Clearly, we were trying to use up the wonderful lump crab meat leftover from the deviled eggs on Father's Day... So, I decided to make us some egg white omelets with crab meat.

I started by heating a nonstick skillet with a bit of coconut oil spray on medium high. Once it is nice and hot, I added in 1/2 c. egg whites (or about 3 egg whites). When that starts to set around the sides, tossed in some crab meat, halved cherry tomatoes, goat cheese, snipped chives, and salt & pepper. I folded over the first half once it looked almost completely set and then slid it on to the plate. I garnished the omelet with some sliced avocado, extra chopped chives, and a few drops of siracha and organic dijon. Best omelet I have ever had!

For my dad, I made a crab salad sandwich by mixing the rest of the crab meat with some mayonaisse, dijon, old bay crab seasoning, salt, pepper, and a no-salt seasoning mix. Piled that on a roll with a bit of cheese.. he loved it!

Crab & Avocado Salad; Vegetable Bake

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Today was a scorcher!! I tried to run on the boardwalk this morning and it was almost unbearable! By 11:30, temperatures were reaching 96 degrees! My mom and I were supposed to take a walk to Ocean Grove (about a mile away) for lunch, but I decided to surprise her by making lunch instead.. I figured it would be a little unpleasant walking to lunch in this heat!

My mom arrived home from her tennis match around 12:30 and this special lunch was awaiting her on the balcony:
I searched the fridge for anything that would taste good in this salad, and I must say that this salad was AMAZING. It consisted of a bed of mixed greens, chopped red bell pepper, chopped jicama, avocado, heirloom cherry tomatoes, lump crab meat, and a laughing cow cheese wedge crumbled on top.

We didn't have many dressings to choose from, so I took out some Bragg's Amino Acids spray, Frank's Sweet Chili Sauce, and Siraracha Sauce. The combinations of these 3 condiments were perfect on this salad!
Yum! What a refreshing summer lunch! I also had some sparkling water with lemon for both of us. We were both very satisfied :)

It's just my mom and I at the beach house today, so we wanted to take advantage of the moment without any boys to make a healthy vegetarian meal. I would normally go to my computer and search my library of recipes, but my computer broked down!!!! Yea, just won't turn on. All of my cookbooks are at the other house, so my only other choice was to make up something myself. I LOVE making up recipes. Especially when I know my mom loves the same foods I do. I had a basic idea in my head of what I wanted to make (a vegetable/cheese bake), but was very flexible with the ingredients depending on what looked fresh at the grocery store.

This was the end product:
Vegetable "Lasagna":

-1 zucchini, thinly sliced lengthwise (I used a funky yellow zucchini that looked really fresh at Wegmans!)
-1 white eggplant, thinly sliced (or you can use any small eggplant)
-1 8 oz package of sliced shitake mushrooms
-1 12 oz package of baby spinach
-2 ripe tomatoes on the vine, sliced
-3/4 cup fat free or low fat cottage cheese
-1/3 cup packed basil leaves, chopped + whole leaves for garnish
-olive oil spray
-2 T. balsamic vinegar
-Coconut oil or spray
-salt and pepper
-1/4 c. crumbled goat cheese
-1/2 tsp. nutmeg
-1/4 tsp. garlic flakes
-about 1 cup of your favorite marinara

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Arrange eggplant slices on a sheet tray and spray both sides with olive oil and brush with balsamic vinegar. Season both sides with salt and pepper. Bake approximately 15-20 minutes or until cooked through and browned (flipping halfway through).
3. Heat a 9 inch skillet over medium heat and spray with coconut spray (or add 1 tsp coconut oil).
4. Add spinach and cook until wilted. Season with salt, pepper, 1/4 tsp. nutmeg, and 1/2 tsp. garlic flakes. Reserve.
5. In the same skillet, spray again with coconut spray or add another tsp. of coconut oil. Heat on high.
6. Add shitake mushrooms and cook until the moisture is evaporated and mushrooms are browned. Season with salt and pepper. Reserve.
7. Mix the cottage cheese with salt, pepper, chopped basil and 1/4 tsp. nutmeg.
8. In an 8x8" casserole dish spoon a thin layer of tomato sauce and layer the zucchini, overlapping.
9. Add a thin layer of cottage cheese mixture (about half of it) and top with spinach and mushrooms. Top with more sauce and the eggplant. Add the rest of the cottage cheese and sliced tomatoes. Cover and bake in a 350 degree oven for 25 minutes.
10. Uncover the casserole and increase the oven heat to 400 degrees. Top with goat cheese. Bake for another 20 minutes or until the cheese is melted and a bit browned.
11. Important: Let rest for 10 minutes before slicing! My mom and I were too impatient and hungry and dug right in. BIG mistake.. It was too watery and didn't set yet. We realized later that the casserole cut better once it cooled off a bit!
Served on the balcony with some Zinfindel, ice water in a JAR (such a cool way to serve drinks), and Copolla crushed red pepper.

We were licking our bowls because it was SO good! I can't wait to make it again!

Father's Day Menu

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

I apologize for being MIA for a while! Life has been crazy busy and the commute to my internship was completely wearing me out. So, a brief update: I finished up my internship at Good Housekeeping yesterday! It was truly an amazing experience and I am so lucky to have been exposed to so many aspects of the industry. Luckily, there were plenty of television shoots while I was there that I was able to be a part of. I prepped shoots for Emeril and Guy Fieri, along with a show called "Food-ogrophy" on the Cooking Channel. I loved every minute of it!

I was extremely sad to leave! Unfortunatley there aren't any positions available at the moment, so I am now on the job search! (Wish me luck!!)

Last Sunday my mom and I organized a casual Father's Day dinner for my family. My uncle was in town from Cali, so he came along with my other uncle and aunt, 3 cousins, and grandparents.

I made sandwiches for lunch to bring on the beach with us. While on the beach, we sipped on some Chateau Ste. Michelle Riesling.. so light and refreshing!

I headed back to the condo early to prep dinner and appetizers. Our appetizers were pretty basic and included gourmet cheeses, crackers, hummus, etc. I wanted to make a little something special and prepared Giada's Deviled Eggs with Crab. It was delicious! I made a few minor changes: I added in the yolks of 3 eggs to the filling and ended up filling 8 eggs instead of 6. I also sprinkled the tops with paprika (afterwards I realized old bay seasoning would have been nice!):
We had a nice spread for dinner that was not too gourmet (my family enjoys comfort food!) but still incredible. I made an Asian barbecue chicken from Food and Wine magazine. I made this earlier in the afternoon and heated it up later. I made the mistake of coating it in the toasted sesame seeds too early because when I heated it up, the sesame seeds weren't as crunchy and toasty. Woops...next time I'll make sure to coat them with the seeds a la minute!
Since these had a distinct Asian flavor and were a little spicy, I made a few extra chicken drumsticks with Emeril's barbecue sauce.
We also made a double batch of Giada's Sausage, Peppers, and Onions. We served this with toasted Italian rolls, and pasta tossed with olive oil.
My mom also made a tray of homemade mac & cheese (a healthier version that included whole wheat panko and fresh sliced tomatoes!). I think the adults liked this more than the kids! We also had a tossed salad with toasted pine nuts, craisins, croutons, heirloom cherry tomatoes, and raspberry vinaigrette.

The night ended with my mom's famous Strawberry Roll and my grandpa's favorite cake.

Perfect Summer Meal

Sunday, June 6, 2010

This past week I have been craving a summer meal consisting of fresh seafood and a bright summer salsa. I have made Ellie Krieger's crabs cakes many times in the past and it has always been a hit. With a minimum amount of fillers, but a lot of flavor, this is the perfect healthy version of a crab cake. You can find the recipe here... I followed the recipe exactly, except I used whole wheat bread crumbs and did not use the tarter sauce.

To go along with the crab cakes, I made a salsa that I have been thinking about all week! I didn't know how it would turn out, but it was AWESOME and the perfect addition to the crab cakes. It was a bit spicy from a jalepeno pepper and sweet from the mango. Here's the recipe:

1 ripe mango, chopped
1 avocado, chopped
1/2 red onion, minced
1/2 cup chopped roma tomatoes
1 jalepeno pepper, minced
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
2 T. lime juice
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. ground pepper

Combine all ingredients. Refrigerate until ready to use.

I served the crab cakes over a small bed of peppery arugula, topped with the salsa and a few drops of siracha. Of course I added more siracha after this picture was taken :) I like everything super spicy!!
I also made a mustard sauce for dipping, since I knew my dad wouldn't like the salsa or siracha and my family loves a selection of condiments! I mixed dijon mustard with non-fat strained yogurt (siggi's..but you can also use any greek yogurt) and apricot preserves. This was an amazing sauce that was tangy from the yogurt, sweet from the preserves and a bit spicy from the dijon. I will definitely be making this sauce again to top fish, chicken, or even steak!

We also had some fresh corn on the cob with our crab cakes. I love having corn on the cob in the summer!

Chicken with Mustard Mascarpone Marsala

Monday, May 31, 2010

Happy Memorial Day Weekend! I had a wonderful weekend lounging on the Asbury Park Beach and spending lots of time with family and friends.

I've mentioned before the amazing restaurants in Asbury.. my family went to some of our favorites this weekend. Unfortunately, I missed out on Moonstruck on Thursday (I had work) and Langosta on Saturday, but I did make it to Taka on Friday night (the best sushi & Japanese cuisine) and Siculiana's (a new pizza joint on the boardwalk) on Sunday night.

On Saturday night I ventured back to the Colts Neck house and made a little date-night dinner for the boy. I wasn't sure what to make, but knew that Giada's chicken marsala recipe has never failed me. I used to make this dish a lot even before I went to culinary school and it was always a crowd pleaser. The recipe can be found here. I didn't make any changes, except I used a combination of baby bella mushrooms and shitakes. In this picture you can't even see the chicken because it was soo much sauce! But I swear they're hiding under there somewhere!

Giada recommends serving this with linguine (probably to soak up all that sauce!) but I thought that was boring. Instead, I made some whole wheat Israeli cous cous (cooked in chicken stock and a touch of salt to add extra flavor) and topped it with roasted grape tomatoes:

I also roasted some broccoli for some green on our plates, but didn't take a picture! It was a great meal that we enjoyed outside with a bottle of Chateau St. Michele Riesling. Delightful.

Sunday Night Catch Up!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

I've been super busy during the week and haven't had much time to update y'all on some of the latest things I've cooked! Well, I'm back on this Sunday evening to play a little "catch up" and fill you in on some good eats!

I made a couple of meals this week to send off to my grandparents. It's nice to know that they have some healthy home cooked meals that can last them through the week. I started off by making a Good Housekeeping recipe for "Crustless Tomato Ricotta Pie". I had to prep this recipe for a TV shoot earlier in the week and was dying to make it myself. It is so fresh and light--the perfect warm summer lunch.

I was at first unsure whether I could post this recipe-- I always have to be careful because some of the recipes I'm exposed to are not yet published and released to the public. However, I double-checked that this recipe was already posted on the Good Housekeeping website. This is a recipe you all have to try. It is great for entertaining--super easy and very beautiful & impressive to serve!
1 15-oz container part-skim ricotta
4 large eggs
1/4 cup grated pecorino romano
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 coarse ground pepper
1/4 cup 1% milk (I used skim--what I had on hand)
1 T. cornstarch
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
1 lb. ripe tomatoes (preferably heirloom or the freshest available), thin sliced

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Coat a non-stick 9 inch skillet with cooking spray.
2. In a large bowl, combine ricotta, eggs, pecorino, salt, and pepper.
3. Whisk together cornstarch and milk until combined. Add to the ricotta mixture.
4. Stir in basil and mint. Pour mixture into the skillet and scatter the top with tomato slices.
5. Bake for about 35-40 minutes, or until set.

As this would be a nice light lunch, I also wanted to make them a hearty dinner. My mom gave me a recipe out of a weightwatcher cook book to make, but I made several changes to make it a bit more tasty, but still healthy.

Pasta with chicken sausage, bell pepper, and swiss chard:

1/2 lb pasta
1 T. olive oil
3/4 lb Italian poultry sausage, removed from casings
1 onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 bunch swiss chard, cut in bite-sized peices
1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes
1/3 cup vegetable stock
salt & pepper
1 tsp. dried Italian seasoning blend
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, torn
pecorino romano cheese, for serving

1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the olive oil.
2. Add the onions, peppers, and sausage, breaking up the sausage with a wooden spoon. Cook until browned. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Add swiss chard slowly, adding more when it begins to wilt. Add the stock and tomatoes. Cover and simmer until the chard is fully cooked (about 10 minutes). Sesason with salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning.
4. In the meantime, cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling, SALTED water until al dente (I cooked it a bit longer because my grandpa likes pasta well-done). Add the cooked pasta to the sausage and swiss chard mixture.
5. Finish with torn basil leaves and freshly grated cheese. Mangia!

Off to another week at the externship! It's going to be another crazy week of T.V. shoots and final recipe testing for the October issue!

Millet Muffins

Saturday, May 15, 2010

My mom experimented with these muffins last week..and they were a success! She baked them on Mother's day so that we could all sample them. Well, even my picky grandparents and grain-hater father loved them. They are super moist, slightly sweet, and have a satisfying crunch to them from the millet. Not to mention, they are VERY healthy! My mom was so pleased that everyone liked them, that she went a little overboard and made many many more batches on Monday. I've been eating my way through my personal batch, enjoying them as an easy breakfast-to-go during the week.

(Recipe adapted from Allrecipes.com)
2 cups sprouted flour (or whole wheat flour)
1/4 cup ground flax
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup agave
1/4 cup applesauce
wheat germ for sprinkling

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease 16 muffin cups. (Or 8 extra-large muffin cups-- I like my muffins larger so they hold me over until lunch!!)
2. In a large bowl, mix the flour, flax, millet, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, mix the buttermilk, egg, coconut oil, agave, apple sauce, and vanilla. Stir the liquid mix into the flour mix just until incorporated. Pour the batter into the muffin cups and sprinkle the tops with wheat germ.
3. Bake 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Sour-Cream Pear Coffee Cake

Friday, May 14, 2010

It's about time I give an update on my internship, right?!! Well, it's AWESOME! Totally my dream job. I walked into the Hearst building on Monday completely in awe that I would be working in such a beautiful building for the next 6 weeks. I really didn't know what to expect on my first day, so I was a little bit nervous.

Everyone in the test kitchen is SO nice and my job is everything and more than I expected. Every morning we start out with some coffee and breakfast. Throughout the day I do various things, such as making sure the test kitchen is clean at all times, running various errands, testing recipes, baking for events, attending photo shoots/TV shoots, and grocery shopping. I LOVE that I get to go to Whole Foods every day. I hate shopping, EXCEPT food shopping..and Whole Foods happens to be my favorite store ever! I'm such a foodie ;)

I didn't get to test any recipes this week, but I definitely will get the chance to next week. I have my own kitchen set-up and desk & computer station. On Wednesday, I helped out with a promotional TV shoot for a new Good Housekeeping brownie cookbook. Yesterday I was able to attend a photo shoot for the recipes in the September issue.

Today there were public tours going around the institute so I had to make a Good Housekeeping recipe for coffee cake. This was an AMAZING coffee cake!! I ate a ton of scraps (since I had to trim the edges when I cut it into squares). Since this recipe is available online, I see no issue in sharing the recipe with all of you. I am definitely making this cake again soon.. maybe even tomorrow?! As soon as I do, I'll post a picture!
2/3 cup packed light
brown sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 tablespoons margarine or
butter, softened
2/3 cup walnuts, toasted and

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups sugar
6 tablespoons margarine or
butter, softened
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups sour cream
3 firm but ripe Bosc pears
(about 1 1/4 pounds), peeled,
cored, and cut into
1-inch pieces

1. Preheat oven to 350 [degrees] F. Grease 13" by 9" metal baking pan; dust with flour. **(A cool trick is to grease the pan, line with foil, and then grease and flour the foil.. that way you can lift the cake right out of the pan and slice!)

2. Prepare Streusel: In medium bowl, with fork, mix brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon until well blended. With fingertips, work in margarine or butter until evenly distributed. Add walnuts and toss to mix; set aside.

3. Prepare Cake: In another medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

4. In large bowl, with mixer at low speed, beat sugar with margarine or butter until blended, scraping bowl often with rubber spatula. Increase speed to high; beat until creamy, about 2 minutes, occasionally scraping bowl. Reduce speed to low; add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla.

5. With mixer at low speed, alternately add flour mixture and sour cream, beginning and ending with flour mixture, until batter is smooth, occasionally scraping bowl. With rubber spatula, fold in pears.

6. Spoon batter into pan; spread evenly. Sprinkle top with streusel mixture. Bake coffee cake 40 to 45 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool …

My mom also made an incredible millet muffin last week, so I'll be posting that recipe tomorrow!

Savory Biscotti

Sunday, May 9, 2010

I've decided I can't say goodbye to this blog quite yet! Even if I won't be blogging about my day-to-day experiences at my internship, I can still offer some great recipes and restaurant spots. So, you may have noticed a change in the header of this website. It is not longer "diaries of a culinary student", but rather "of a culinary graduate". I look forward to sharing some good eats throughout the summer and experimenting with new recipes!

Before I share a new recipe with y'all, here are some more pictures of graduation (that I stole from Miss Huggins):

Team 3.. I miss you guys!
Me with Miss Huggins herself:
For Mother's day, I decided to make this new recipe for biscotti. I saw Giada make it on Food Network yesterday and was dying to try it out! My family loves biscotti, but this is a different kind of cookie. It is savory, rather than sweet, and contains goat cheese and dried herbs. Interesting, huh? Well, it was a hit and had everybody going back for seconds! There is no better complement to a chef than for everybody to go back for seconds.. I was very pleased :)

To go along with my biscotti, I prepared a beautiful Italian lunch spread with fresh mozzerella, basil, tomatoes, roasted peppers, Italian meats, and toasted Italian bread. The perfect lunch for my little Italian family!

Here is the recipe for Giada's Savory Biscotti:
-2 cups all-purpose flour (I used whole wheat)
-3 T herbes de provence (I didn't have any so I used an Italian blend)
-1 1/2 tsp baking powder
-3/4 tsp sea salt
-1/2 cup unsalted butter (room temp)
-1/4 cup (2 oz) goat cheese (room temp)
-3 T sugar
-2 eggs, beaten

Place an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, herbes de Provence, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and goat cheese together until smooth. Beat in the sugar and eggs. In batches, add the flour mixture and beat until just combined. Transfer the dough to the prepared baking sheet. With damp hands, form the dough into a 13-inch-long, 3 1/2-inch-wide loaf. Bake until light golden, about 30 minutes. Cool on the baking sheet for 30 minutes.

Transfer the loaf to a cutting board. Using a serrated knife, cut the log on the diagonal into 1/2-inch thick slices. Arrange the biscotti, cut side down, on the baking sheet. Bake until pale golden, about 15 minutes. Transfer the biscotti to a wire rack and cool completely, about 30 minutes.

*This would be a great Happy Hour snack! It would go wonderfully with a glass of wine!

Happy mother's day to my beautiful mommy and grandma!!!

Tomorrow I start my externship... here:

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