Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Spaghetti Squash Tacos

If I had to pick one food to eat for the rest of my life, I think I might choose tacos. I LOVE tacos. I mean, you can pretty much put anything into a tortilla and call it a taco. You can even use lettuce as the tortilla and call it a taco. Wait, does that still count as a taco? Anyway, these spaghetti squash tacos were posted to my Instagram awhile ago, but these were so tasty I had to memorialize them on the blog. Not only are they delicious and healthy, they're also low carb! So my friends who count macros, go ahead an enjoy your tacos. 

Spaghetti Squash Tacos

What you'll need:
  • 1.5 - 2 lb spaghetti squash
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt + 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 large egg, whisked
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 oregano
  • favorite taco ingredients: pulled pork, carne asada, avocados, guacamole, salsa, fresh cilantro, etc
What to do:
  1. Preheat oven to 400F. Split the spaghetti squash length wise. Season each half with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Rub the seasoning into the squash for even coverage. Roast the squash for 40-45 minutes at 400F. 
  2. Remove from the oven and allow to cool (about 8-10 minutes). Use two forks to shread the squash into a large bowl and season with the garlic power and oregano. Stir in the whisked egg until evenly coated. 
  3. Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, divide the squash into rounds and flatten each round into a flattened tortilla shape, about 1/4 inch or less thick. Repeat for remaining squash mixture.
  4. Bake at 400F for 12-15 minutes or until edges have browned.
  5. Remove from oven and cool slightly. Prepare tacos using your favorite toppings. Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Easy Chia Seed Pudding

Chia seed puddings are one of my favorite go to desserts to make. They require minimal time in the kitchen and are easily customizable! Since it's Valentine's Day, I thought I'd share how I put together some of my favorite chia seed pudding combinations. Any of these ingredients can be substituted for another fruit or flavor; if you like raspberries, use in place of the strawberries, etc! If you're treating your love to a home cooked meal, these would be a great after dinner dessert!

Chia Seed Pudding (Base Recipe)
What you'll need:

  • 1 cup dairy or non-dairy milk 
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tbsp liquid sweetener (maple syrup, honey, or agave), optional
Top Left- Black Forest
  • Chia Seed Base Recipe
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 oz dark chocolate, melted 
  • 1/2 cup pitted cherries
  • 2 tbsp water
  • coconut flakes
Top Right- Neopolitan
  • Chia Seed Base Recipe
  • Strawberry Yogurt (store bought or homemade)
  • Chocolate Pudding (store bought or homemade)
Bottom Left- Pitaya 
  • Chia Seed Base Recipe
  • Pureed Pitaya or Acai (frozen packs)
  • sweetener or frozen fruit of choice
  • sliced almonds
  • coconut shreds
Bottom Right - Chocolate Covered Strawberry

  • Chia Seed Base Recipe
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 oz dark chocolate 
  • 2 tbsp strawberry compote
  • Strawberries
  • Chocolate sauce
What do do: 
  1. To make the Chia Seed Pudding Base, heat the milk over medium low heat until it just begins to steam. Remove from heat and stir in the chia seeds, vanilla, and liquid sweetener. Pour the chia seed mixture into a container, cover and let it cool and thicken in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or overnight. 
  2. To make the Black Forest pudding, stir in the cocoa powder and melted chocolate into the chia seed mixture before storing it in the fridge to cool. Cover and allow to thicken. Make the cherry compote by heating the pitted cherries and water over medium heat until the cherries have softened, about 10 minutes. Layer the puddings with the compote, coconut flakes, and chia seed pudding.
  3. To make the Pitaya pudding, puree the frozen pitaya or acai packs with sweetener of choice or frozen fruit. Layer the puddings with the pureed pitaya/acai mixture and chia seed pudding. Top with sliced almonds (or other nuts) and coconut shreds.
  4.  To make the Chocolate Covered Strawberry pudding, divide the chia mixture into two separate bowls. In one bowl, stir in the cocoa powder and melted chocolate into the chia seed mixture before storing it in the fridge to cool. Cover and allow to thicken. With the other half, stir in the strawberry compote before storing it in the fridge to cool. Cover and allow to thicken. Layer the puddings with the chocolate mixture, then the strawberry mixture. Top with chocolate sauce and fresh strawberries. 

Monday, January 30, 2017

Crab Cake Salad

The other day, while strolling the aisles of my local Trader Joe's, I came across lump crab meat in the freezer section. Without a lick of hesitation, I grabbed a box and headed straight for checkout (I already had way too many unnecessary items in my basket). I can't say no to a good crab cake. One of my favorite brunch menu items are Crab Cake Benedicts, if a restaurant has got them, I'm ordering them. Anyway, I threw together a bunch of seasonings and a few binders and voila! I made myself some crab cakes. I had some leftover potato wedges from the night before, so I warmed those up in a pan and threw those on top of my salad. If you've never had a warm potato salad, I must insist you try it! You won't be disappointed. 

Crab Cake Salad

What you'll need:
  • 8 oz lump crab meat
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 heaping tbsp mayonnaise (I used Chosen Food's new Harissa Avocado Mayo)
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp dried dill
  • 3/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tbsp green bell pepper, finely minced
  • 1/3 cup almond flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt + 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • salad greens
  • potato wedges or cubes, or even tator tots
  • feta cheese (optional)
What to do: 
  1. In a bowl, whisk together the egg, mayo, lemon juice, dijon mustard, chili powder, cayenne, dill, parsley, and garlic until combined. Stir in the lump crab meat, bell pepper, and cilantro until just coated. Add the almond flour and salt and pepper. Stir to combine. 
  2. Use an ice cream scoop to evenly divide the crab mixture. Roll into a ball and carefully flatten into a disk (use a light touch). Set them aside on a plate. I was able to make four 2.5-3 inch crab cakes. Heat a cast iron or other heavy bottom pan with olive oil (or ghee!) over medium heat. 
  3. Carefully place the crab cakes into the pan and let them cook about 8-10 minutes on medium low. Cover the pan after about 4-5 minutes. Remove the lid and flip. Cook for another 8-10 minutes or until the cakes have browned. 
  4. Serve atop a bed of salad greens, with warmed potatoes and feta cheese. Toss with your favorite dressing, or just a lemon wedge!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Chicken Enchiladas (Instant Pot)

Lately, I've been feeling rather uninspired in the kitchen. Maybe it's all this rain we've been getting in California that makes me not want to do anything but, Netflix and Chill. But anyway, I can't blame the rain, I actually like it. So the other day, I was rummaging through my freezer (I have one of those fridge/freezers with the freezer on the bottom where things just get lost in the abyss, so to speak), and I found a half full container of red tomatillo salsa I had made for this recipe I guest posted over at my friend, Steph's website, Stupid Easy Paleo. Then I thought to myself, enchiladas! They're relatively simple to whip up and always delicious. I was also able to scrap together enough frozen chicken thighs to make a decent sized meal. BUT, they were frozen. And I was hungry, like yesterday.

Since I was in a pinch, I remembered that my Instant Pot can pretty much cook a whole meal in about 30 minutes or less. This was my first time actually cooking with it; I've only ever made bone broth with it. First time for everything, Am I Right? Anyway, feel free to use your own enchilada sauce in place of the tomatillo salsa.

Chicken Enchiladas

What you'll need:

  • 2 lbs chicken thighs/breast (I used thighs and trimmed the excess fat)
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1/2 cup red tomatillo salsa (recipe below) + additional 1/2 cup for layering
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 chipote peppers in adobo sauce, roughly chopped
  • pinch of salt and fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1/4 cup water or broth
  • tortillas (homemade or storebought)
  • smoked mozzarella, crumbled feta (optional, or use your favorite cheese)
  • chopped cilantro, for garnish

    Ingredients for red tomatillo salsa
  • 1/2 lbs tomatillos, husked removed and rinsed
  • 5 garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 2 dried Guajillo chili peppers, seeds removed
  • 2 dried California or New Mexico Chile peppers, seeds removed 
  • 1 cup hot water
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp oregano, preferably Mexican oregano
  • 1-2 tsp honey, optional

What to do:

To make the red tomatillo salsa
  1. Place the tomatillos, garlic, and onions on a baking tray. Drizzle with a little olive oil and broil for 10 minutes. In the meantime, toast the dried chili until they start to blacken. Remove from heat and place the dried chilies in a bowl of hot water. Allow the chilies to rehydrate in the hot water for 30 minutes. Using the same pan, toast the cumin seeds and dried oregano until fragrant (approximately 2-3 minutes), remove from pan and add to a blender/food processor. 
  2. Check the tomatillos after the 10 minutes and flip to broil the other side for an additional 5-7 minutes. Remove the tomatillos, onions and garlic from the oven and allow to cool slightly. Peel the garlic cloves. Add to the same blender/food processor as the toasted spices. To the blender, add the cilantro, lime juice, salt and pepper, rehydrated chilies, and 1/4 cup of the pepper water (water that was used to rehydrate the chilies). Pulse to combine. Taste, and season if needed. Stir in honey if it's too tart.
To make the enchiladas
  1. Set the Instant Pot to, "Saute" Allow the pot to heat up for about 3-5 minutes, with the lid off. Add 1 tbsp of oil along with the onions, garlic, and shallots. Saute until fragrant, about 8-10 minutes. Add the tomato paste and chopped chipotle peppers and stir to coat. Add the chicken in a single layer and top with 1/2 cup of salsa (or enchilada sauce) and 1/4 cup water or broth. Replace the lid and turn to lock. Set the Instant Pot to "Poultry" and let it work it's magic (about 15 minutes actual cook time, but give the Instant Pot time to build up pressure).
  2. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 400F. Make your tortillas (I used Steph's recipe) or prepare storebought ones. Assemble your enchilada toppings, cheese, sauce, etc in a manageable line. Once the chicken is done cooking, release the vent of your instant pot. Remove the lid once it has completed venting and shred the chicken. 
  3. Spread 1/4 cup sauce/salsa on the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish. Place some shredded chicken and cheese in the center of the tortilla. Roll up to contain the filling. Place the tortilla, seam side down in the baking dish. Repeat with the remaining tortillas (I rolled about 8). Pour the remaining 1/4 cup sauce/salsa  over the top. Sprinkle top with cheese and bake at 400F for 15-20 minutes. Or until it is bubbly and cheese is melted and browned. Garnish with chopped cilantro. 

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Spiced Apple Cider Sangria

Drinks are necessary during the holidays. And I'm not talking about just ones with alcohol. Of course, a little adult beverage makes the holidays more fun. Holiday drinks are always full of warm spices that'll make you feel all soft and toasty on the inside. So why not combine the two? I mixed [cooled] hot spiced apple cider with some red wine to make an easy to drink, but super flavorful cocktail for any holiday party! I made my spiced apple cider in the slow cooker. If you're worried your slow cooker pot smells like last week's pot roast and don't want beef flavored apple cider, I've got a tip for you. Quick Tip to cleaning and removing smells from your slow cooker: Add about 1/4 cup baking soda to the pot. Add just enough water to make a paste (a few tablespoons or so). Then take a soapy sponge and rub the baking soda paste into every crevice of the pot. Let it sit overnight. Rinse the next day. Voila! No more weird pot roast smell. Now, get to brewing that cider!

Spiced Apple Cider Sangria

What you'll need:

  • 4-5 medium to large apples (I used a variety of Fuji, Red Delicious, Green, and Ambrosia, but use any or one combination)
  • 1 medium orange
  • 2 cinnamon sticks + 1-2 additional for sangria
  • 1/2 whole nutmeg 
  • 2/3 cup maple syrup + more to taste
  • a pinch of whole cloves
  • one star anise (optional)
  • water
  • extra apple and orange slices
  • 1 bottle (750mL) red wine (I used a cheap cabernet from Trader Joe's aka "Two Buck Chuck")
  • 1/3 cup orange liquor
What to do:
  1. Quarter the apples and remove the stems and seeds. Add to the slow cooker pot. Quarter the orange, add to the pot. Add 2 cinnamon sticks, nutmeg, maple syrup, cloves, and star anise (if using). Cover the fruit with just enough water to cover. 
  2. Cook on low for 8 hours. After about 7 hours, mash the fruit with a potato masher. Taste. Add more maple syrup if preferred. Let it cook for another hour on low. Strain. Save the pulp for another use, like apple butter!
  3. Store in an airtight jar in the fridge for up to 5 days, serve warm for just the cider. 
  4. In a large pitcher, combine the red wine, 2 cups of cider, 1/3 cup orange liquor, apple and orange slices, and cinnamon stick. Stir and cover over night to cool in the fridge. 
  5. Add a splash of seltzer water before serving. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Pumpkin Nut Panna Cotta Tart

This Pumpkin Panna Cotta is a lightened up treat that won't leave you feeling heavy after those multiple rounds of turkey and all the fixings. Panna Cotta is essentially an Italian style jello and is super simple to whip up. You blend, you heat, you stir, and BOOM, you're done. The crust is a magical blend of toasted hazelnuts, flaxseed and maple sugar. Don't like hazelnuts? Try pecans or walnuts! Short on time and don't feel like having to throw another dish in the oven to bake? Skip the crust all together and just make the panna cotta served in ramekins or cute single serving glass jars. It's totally up to you how you want to serve this because it will be delicious anyway. I was feeling a little bit naughty and drizzled a little RumChata and coconut caramel sauce (I used Juli's of PaleOMG recipe from her newest book, Juli Bauer's Paleo Cookbook) on top. 

 Pumpkin Nut Panna Cotta Tart

What you'll need:
  • 1 cup hazelnuts (or pecans, or walnuts), toasted and skins removed
  • 2 tbsp flax seed meal
  • 1/4 cup + 1 tbsp Otto's cassava flour
  • 2 tbsp maple sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 5 tbsp grassfed butter, cold
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 cup canned full-fat coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup maple sugar
  • 2 tsp gelatin
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 fresh grated nutmeg
  • pinch of cardamon
  • pinch of salt

What to do:
  1. To make the crust: Preheat oven to 350F. If using hazelnuts, bake for 8-10 minutes at 350F. Cool slightly, then remove skins by rubbing the hazelnuts together with a tea towel. It is okay if not all the skins come off. If using pecans or another nut, there's no need to toast before hand just add them to the food processor. 
  2. Add the hazelnuts to the food processor along with the next 4 ingredients. Pulse until it resembles a course meal. Add the cold butter 1-2 tbsp at a time. Pulse until it starts to come together. Press evenly into a tart pan. Bake at 350F for 18-20 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
  3. In a sauce pan, add 1/2 cup almond milk. Evenly sprinkle 2 tsp of gelatin over the almond milk, let it bloom. Blend the remaining 1 cup of almond milk, coconut milk, pumpkin puree, maple sugar, and spices until smooth. 
  4. Heat the gelatin mixture over medium low heat and whisk until the gelatin dissolves. Strain the pumpkin mixture into the gelatin mixture. Whisk to combine. Heat until the mixture starts to steam. Pour into the tart shell (or individual ramekins/jars). Allow the tart to set in the fridge. 
  5. Serve chilled with a drizzle of RumChata or Coconut Caramel, if preferred!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Deconstructed Papas Rellenas (Cuban Beef and Potato Stuffing)

I love a good meat and potato dish. This Cuban Beef and Potato stuffing is a play on the traditional papas rellenas or meat stuffed potato ball. If you live in the Los Angeles area, you probably are familiar with Porto's Bakery (and if you haven't, you must!). Porto's is a Cuban bakery that makes the tastiest Cuban pastries and cakes. They also have these deep fried mashed potato balls stuffed with a ground beef mixture. And let me tell you, you haven't lived until you've tried one of these!

While I love the holidays and all the traditional foods that are associated with it, sometimes, I believe you need a little spice in your life (and no, pumpkin spice does not count). Enter, this non-traditional stuffing. A deconstructed papas rellenas. A good Cuban dish requires a sofrito, think of it as the Cuban equivalent to a mirepoix (the aromatic base of any good soup or stew; carrots, onions, celery), except sofrito consists of onions, bell peppers, and garlic. You'll want to sweat and caramelize the onions first, then add the peppers and garlic last. Trust me, this extra little step will make this dish pop!

Deconstructed Papas Rellenas (Cuban Beef and Potato Stuffing)

What you'll need:

  • 2-3 small to medium white sweet potato (or any potato can be subbed), cubed
  • olive/avocado oil, salt and pepper to season the potatoes
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 5-6 sweet mini peppers (or one medium bell pepper), finely diced
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • pinch of cayenne (optional)
  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce
  • 1.5 tbsp apple cider vinegar or fresh lime juice
  • 1 bay leaf
  • (start with 1/2 tsp) salt and pepper, to taste
  • fresh chopped cilantro
  • 2-3 tbsp golden raisins (optional)

What to do:

  1. Preheat your oven to 425F. Toss the cubed potatoes with 1-2 tbsp oil, massaging the oil into the potatoes thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper. Lay the potatoes in one (1) even layer on a silicone lined baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes at 425F, tossing once about half way through. 
  2. While the potatoes are roasting, heat a large skillet over medium high heat with 1-2 tbsp oil. Add the onions. Sweat the onions until they start to caramelize and are fragrant, about 5-6 minutes. Add the peppers, then the garlic. Stir. Cook for another 1-2 minutes.  
  3. Add the ground beef. Break up the chunks. *Note: I add a little ground beef at a time, breaking up the chunks, as to not overcrowd the pan which could lead to steaming of the mixture and not sauteing*
  4. Season the mixture with paprika, cumin, cayenne (if using), and salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Once most of the meat has browned, add the apple cider vinegar/lime juice. Then the tomato sauce. Bring to a simmer and add the bay leaf. 
  5. Simmer the mixture on medium low for about 15-20 minutes. 
  6. Once potatoes have finished roasting, remove from oven and set aside. Season the ground beef mixture with more salt/pepper, to taste. Stir in golden raisins (if preferred, but highly recommended). Add the potatoes and garnish with chopped cilantro. 

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