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Monday, March 26, 2012

Lettuce Cups with Stir-Fried Chicken

Asian-inspired dishes are a type of food I've always found myself drawn to, despite the fact that I was not necessarily "raised Asian."  I am yonsei (4th generation) and was born and raised in a small town in the central valley of California, so I consider myself extremely "Americanized," compared to others of similar ethnicity.  I've never been to Japan, don't speak Japanese, don't really have any other Japanese friends, and don't practice Japanese religion.  Luckily, the only thing I really do know that can be associated with my ethnicity is the fact that I know how to make (and eat!) Asian food.  Especially when it comes to making certain types of Japanese foods (thanks, Mom!).

My mom is full-Japanese but also pretty Americanized, being born and raised in the central valley.  However, the one thing that has remained true and has been passed down through our generations is our love for Asian food!  My childhood days are filled with memories of the smell of Asian spices and aromas filling our kitchen.  Sukiyaki, tsukemono, and teriyaki chicken are just a few of the things my mom made best.  Her chinese chicken salad is also a frequently-requested recipe of hers, and her annual New Year tradition of sushi-making was always anticipated by close friends and family.  Now, living much further away from my family, I either dream of enjoying my mother's dishes or have to resort to making the recipe myself, although it never tastes quite the same as when it has been prepared by my mom's hands.  Regardless, I'm hopeful that I'll have the opportunity to share some of those "famous" recipes of my mom's in the future.

From left:  Mom, myself, and my sister, Sumiko, cooking together in the kitchen

Although we made a lot of Asian-dishes ourselves, we also were never disappointed in getting Asian food elsewhere.  Every once in a while, my family would enjoy take-out from our favorite Chinese food restaurant, Hong Kong Restaurant, in Manteca.  Elaine, the sweet lady who owned the restaurant, always greeted us by name and was so generous and caring, asking how the family is doing, sometimes giving a gift, and wishing everyone well.  Her chow mein and fried rice were very good and we were always happy to support her business.  We also enjoyed Thai food, especially pad thai, or pad see-ew.  My dad especially enjoyed ordering his favorite: coconut soup.

One dish we actually didn't eat growing up was lettuce cups.  Although they are a pretty common Asian-appetizer, for some reason, this wasn't a regular in our household, but I sure wish it was.  I didn't start eating lettuce cups until after I moved down to Southern California.  My love for lettuce cups started after I visited a now favorite restaurant of mine, Zengo, in Santa Monica.  The restaurant is a Latin-Asian fusion restaurant, with amazing food, location, and service.  They have a thai shrimp lettuce wrap that includes chorizo, peanut, cilantro, and tamarind chutney.  The chef-owner, Robert Sandoval, really has a skill for blending the two very different styles and creating amazing dishes.  I highly recommend their bottomless brunch, which includes unlimited small plates and cocktails.

Although this Latin-Asian variety is one I am currently content with enjoying at the restaurant rather than trying to recreate at home, I was interested in finding a simpler lettuce cup recipe with the same basic flavors that I could enjoy at a moment's notice.  Bon Appetit has recently become one of my more-trusted recipe sources, so I knew I could find a recipe there that would not disappoint.  These Lettuce Cups with Stir-Fried Chicken were just what I was looking for--quick, simple, yet full of flavor.  The combination of cool, crisp lettuce leaves compliment the savory, sweet qualities of the stir-fried chicken perfectly.  It's also a great basic starting point for those who want to be more creative with the ingredients.  I chose to follow the recipe for this first attempt, but who knows?  I may definitely try it again to make my own Latin-Asian fusion variety, letting out my inner-creativity like the mastermind-chef, Robert Sandoval.

Lettuce Cups with Stir-Fried Chicken
Print this recipe
Yield:  8 appetizer servings
Recipe from Bon Appetit

16 large butter lettuce leaves
1/2 cup Asian sweet chili sauce
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, minced
2 scallions, minced
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp cornstarch
2 Tbsp peanut oil
3 medium shitake mushrooms (about 1 ounce), stemmed, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp minced peeled fresh ginger
1/4 cup unsalted, roasted cashews, chopped

Arrange lettuce leaves on a large platter.  Pour chili sauce into a small bowl; place on platter with leaves.  Mix chicken, scallions, soy sauce, and cornstarch in a medium bowl.  Let marinate 10 minutes at room temperature, stirring occasionally.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet.  Add mushrooms; stir-fry 15 seconds.  Add garlic and ginger and stir-fry 10 seconds.  Add chicken mixture and cook, stirring often, until golden brown and cooked through, about 3-4 minutes.  Spoon chicken mixture into lettuce leaves, dividing equally.  Garnish with cashews.  Roll leaves around filling and dip into chili sauce.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Mini Crab Cakes

I love anything involving seafood, so of course, I love crabcakes.  However, I am REALLY picky about crabcakes.  I've tried them at so many restaurants, and the majority of them are either too dry, too salty, not crispy enough, or not enough crab.

The best crabcakes I've ever had are the crabcakes at The Palace Grill, in Santa Barbara, CA.  Trips to Santa Barbara are a rarity, but whenever we do get a chance to go, we always make sure to visit The Palace Grill.  Their creole crawfish crabcakes are unlike any other I've ever tasted.  The flavor is so savory, yet not overwhelming, and there's a generous amount of seafood in each cake.

Luckily, I found a quick, simple crabcake recipe that is perfect for those times when I'm dreaming about The Palace Grill's crabcakes.  These crabcakes are SO easy to make, and they are perfect bite-size appetizers to serve to guests.  They may not be The Palace Grill's creole crawfish crabcakes, but they definitely help satisfy my crabcake cravings!

Mini Crab Cakes
Print this recipe
Recipe from Tracey's Culinary Adventures, originally from Bon Appetit - April 2009 issue
Yield:  about 24 cakes

8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
3/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1 large egg
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 tsp lemon zest
3 Tbsp chopped fresh chives, divided
1/4 tsp kosher salt
pinch cayenne pepper
10 oz fresh lump crab meat, patted dry and coarsely shredded
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
4 Tbsp (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted

In a medium bowl, whisk the cream cheese vigorously until smooth.  Add 1/4 cup of the Parmesan and the egg; whisk until well combined.  Beat in the sour cream, lemon zest, 1 Tbsp chives, kosher salt, and cayenne pepper.  Gently fold in the crab meat with a rubber spatula.  (Filling can be made 1 day ahead, cover and store in the refrigerator.)

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Spray a mini muffin pan with 24 wells with nonstick cooking spray.  Combine the panko, remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan and remaining 2 Tbsp chopped chives in a medium bowl.  Add the butter and toss evenly until evenly moistened.  Spoon 1 generous teaspoon of the panko mixture into the bottom of each well of the muffin tin.  Press gently to form a crust.  Top each crust with 1 generous tablespoon of the crab mixture.  Finally, sprinkle the top of each with 1 teaspoon of the panko mixture.

Bake the crab cakes for about 30 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown and the filling is set.  Transfer muffin pan to a wire rack and let cool for about 3 minutes, then run a knife around each cake and gently lift out of pan.  Sprinkle with additional chives for garnish, if desired.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Irish Cupcakes

I hope everyone had a nice St. Patrick's Day!  Tony's been out of town all week, and coming back home today, so we'll be celebrating a day late.  I have some corned beef simmering in the slow cooker, and carrots, potatoes, and cabbage on hand to roast right before dinner.  I can't wait, since we only enjoy corned beef once a year!

Earlier this week, we held another bake sale at work to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS).  You can read about the first sale here.  Last time I made 100 cupcakes, but based on the success of the last one, this time I made about 130!  I made around 60 Vanilla Bean Cupcakes (recipe previously posted here) and about 70 Irish Cupcakes.  It's a lot of work to make 130 cupcakes, but not so bad if you plan it out in on a step-by-step basis.

I started by baking the cupcakes first.  I made three batches of the Irish cupcakes, and then two batches of the vanilla bean.  Then I started on the ganache filling.  While the ganache cooled, I was able to scoop the middles out of all the Guinness-chocolate cupcakes, then fill each hole with the cooled ganache filling.  Finally, I made a large batch of the Baileys frosting to frost all 70 of the Irish cupcakes.  Then I made a large batch of the vanilla bean frosting to frost all 60 of the vanilla bean cupcakes.

These Irish Cupcakes are called "Irish Car Bomb" cupcakes by the original source.  This name comes from the popular Irish Car Bomb drink, which involves a shot of Baileys Irish Cream and Irish whiskey dropped into a pint of Guinness.  However, after reading the comments on the original post, it appears that some are sensitive to this name (connecting it to the actual car bombs in Ireland as opposed to the drink), so I've decided to simply name them Irish Cupcakes.

This Irish Cupcake recipe consists of a Guinness-chocolate cupcake, with a Jameson whiskey spiked ganache filling, and Baileys buttercream frosting.  Although this may seem like a rather boozy cupcake, the amount of alcohol is just right--there's just enough to lend the cupcake its flavor without being too overpowering.  I think that the three alcohols in this cupcake are a perfect combination!  This cupcake got rave reviews at our bake sale, with several people requesting the recipe.  Well, here it is, for you and others to enjoy!

Irish Cupcakes
Print this recipe
Recipe slightly adapted from Brown Eyed Baker
Yield:  24 cupcakes

For the cupcakes:
1 cup Guinness stout
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup dark Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
2 eggs
2/3 cup sour cream

For the whiskey-ganache filling:
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tsp Irish whiskey

For the Baileys frosting:
2 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
5 cups powdered sugar
8 Tbsp Baileys Irish Cream

For the cupcakes:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line 24 cupcake cups with paper liners.  Set aside.

Bring the Guinness and butter to a simmer in a heavy, medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add the cocoa powder and whisk until the mixture is smooth.  Cool slightly.

Whisk the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in a large bowl to combine.  Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs and sour cream on medium speed until combined.  Add the Guinness-chocolate mixture to the egg mixture and beat just to combine.  Reduce the speed to low, add the flour mixture and beat briefly.  Using a rubber spatula, fold the batter until completely combined.

Divide the batter among the cupcake liners.  Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 17 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.

To make the whiskey-ganache filling:
Finely chop the chocolate and transfer it to a heatproof bowl.  Heat the cream until simmering and pour it over the chocolate.  Let it sit for one minute and then, using a rubber spatula, stir it from the center outward until smooth.  Add the butter and whiskey and stir until combined.  Let the ganache cool until thick but still soft enough to be scooped or piped.

To fill the cupcakes:
Using an apple-corer, 1-inch round cookie cutter, or (my method) the base of a large decorating tip, cut the centers out of the cooled cupcakes, going about two-thirds of the way down.  Use a 1/4 teaspoon to scoop out the remainder of cake that did not lift out.  Once all cupcake centers are removed, use the 1/4 teaspoon to scoop ganache and fill the holes in each cupcake to the top.

To make the Baileys frosting:
Using the whisk attachment of a stand mixer, whip the butter on medium-high speed for 5 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl occasionally.  Reduce the speed to medium-low and gradually add the powdered sugar until all of it is incorporated.  Add the Baileys, increase the speed to medium-high and whip for another 2 to 3 minutes, until frosting is light and fluffy.

Using your favorite decorating tip, frost the cupcakes and decorate as desired.  Store cupcakes in an airtight container.


  • I used Jameson Irish whiskey, but you can use whatever Irish whiskey you prefer.
  • I created the candy shamrock decorations by melting green candy melts in a plastic squeeze bottle and piping the shamrock shape onto waxed paper.  Once the candy is cooled, you can easily peel off the waxed paper and place on top of each cupcake.
  • The boxes seen in the photos were purchased from BRPBoxShop.  Their boxes are good quality, they have the fairest prices...and did I mention, FREE ground shipping?!

Monday, March 12, 2012

St. Patty's Day Blog Hop - Shamrock Shake

Happy Monday everyone!  I'm glad you're here, because today I have a special treat for you!

About a month ago, I was contacted by Joan of Chocolate, Chocolate, and more, inviting a few other bloggers and I to join together in a St. Patty's Day blog hop.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with this term, a blog hop is an organized event where a number of bloggers work together to post something with a unifying theme at the same day, same time, with links in each post to the other participating blogs.  Of course, I was happy to participate.  It's a great way to not only gain exposure and acquire more page views, but also to encourage a sense of community around the "blogosphere" and make new blogger-friends!

Since our theme is St. Patty's Day, we scheduled our blog hop a week in advance so that all of our readers will have plenty of time to visit everyone's posts and gain recipes and ideas in time for the holiday.  As it turns out, all of us bloggers ended up making a wide variety of foods, so there should be something for everyone.  We have savory things, sweet desserts, and my contribution, a Shamrock Shake!

Apparently, McDonald's is known for making this minty shake every year around St. Patty's Day.  I've honestly never tried the fast-food variety, but if something tastes good from a fast food chain, then it's almost guaranteed to taste even better if made at home.  Plus, I'm always a little cautious when it comes to fast food anyway...especially if it's a green milky drink, so I prefer making it myself!

Luckily, this recipe requires only a few ingredients, so you can be sure that this milkshake is pure, without any fast-food "mystery preservatives."  All you need is some vanilla ice cream, milk (I use soy milk), peppermint extract, and green food coloring.  If you want to get extra fancy, you can add some whipped cream to the top, and garnish with green sprinkles.

I'm usually not a huge fan of minty things, but the creamy flavor of the vanilla ice cream in this milkshake makes the mint subtle and enjoyable.  Also, the green food coloring only adds a hint of color, so the milkshake is pale green, similar to mint ice cream.  I think it seems much more edible than something that was tinted BRIGHT green.  If you tend to like mint-chocolate chip ice cream or grasshopper pie, I'm sure you would enjoy this refreshing milkshake.

Please visit the rest of the talented bloggers involved in today's St. Patty's Day Blog Hop:

Thanks to Joan at Chocolate, Chocolate and more for making this blog hop possible!  It's been a lot of fun and I'll be supporting everyone's blogs in the future.  

Everyone else, stay tuned, because I do have a few more St. Patty's recipes up my sleeve...for now, enjoy the recipe for the Shamrock Shake!

My dog, Molly, was in this photo so I just couldn't resist not putting it up!
Shamrock Shake
Adapted from She Knows
Yield:  2 servings

1 pint (2 cups) vanilla ice cream
1 cup soy milk
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
1/4 tsp green food coloring
Whipped cream and green sprinkles (optional)

Place ice cream, milk, peppermint extract, and green food coloring in a blender.  Cover and blend on high speed until smooth.  

Pour into glasses.  Top with whipped cream and sprinkles, if desired.  Serve immediately.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Crispy Baked Ginger-Soy Glazed Wings

These Ginger-Soy Glazed Wings are the second variation of wings I served, alongside the Buffalo Wings from Wednesday's post.  For those who are not Buffalo wing lovers like I was, you may want to serve this flavor of wings instead.  However, don't rule out the Buffalo wings until you''ve tried Wednesday's recipe.  It changed my mind about Buffalo wings, and might change yours too. 

The best option, of course, is to just make both!  It's really easy to do, because most of the preparation is exactly the same.  You can bake both batches of wings the same way, and just make this ginger-soy glaze to pour over half of the wings.  That's what I did, and it was so simple.  They can both stay warm in the slow cooker for several hours, and the two flavors can be kept separated by using a piece of foil to serve as a divider. 

I think it's good idea to have an option of flavors when it comes to wings, especially if you're entertaining.  I've always felt that it's very important to keep guests comfortable and satifisfied, because what's worse than serving a dish that someone can't (or won't) eat?  Since these two flavors are so different, I think that it will accomodate the tastes of most guests, and will prevent anyone from going home hungry. 

As for this picture?  Probably not the best, but these were the LAST two wings left.  I was able to snatch them up for a picture before they were devoured like the rest of them! 

Crispy Baked Ginger-Soy Glazed Wings
Print this recipe
Recipe from Bon Appetit Magazine - February 2012 issue
Yield:  about 30 wings

Ginger-soy glaze:
1/4 cup honey
2 Tbsp soy sauce
3 large garlic cloves, crushed
1 2x1" piece of ginger, peeled and sliced

2 1/2 pounds chicken wings, tips removed, drumettes and flats separated
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

For the glaze:
Bring all ingredients and 1/4 cup water to a boil in a small saucepan, stirring to dissolve honey.  Reduce heat to low; simmer, stirring occasionally, until reduced to 1/4 cup, 7-8 minutes.  Strain into a medium bowl.  Let sit for 15 minutes to thicken slightly.

For the wings:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Set a wire rack inside a large rimmed baking sheet.  Place all ingredients in a large bowl; toss to coat.  Place wings on prepared rack and spread out in a single layer. 

Bake wings until cooked through and skin is crispy, about 45-50 minutes.

Line another rimmed baking sheet with foil; top with wire rack.  Add wings to ginger-soy glaze and toss evenly to coat.  Transfer wings to the rack of the foil-lined baking sheet, and spread out in a single layer.  Bake until glaze is glossy and lightly caramelized, about 8-10 minutes.  Serve immediately.

  • Ginger-soy glaze can be made 5 days ahead.  Cover and chill.  Rewarm before using.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

I'm usually not the type of person who feels compelled to make my own condiments.  Sure, making it yourself is probably always healthier, but sometimes, I just don't feel sure if it's worth the time.  Well, last month when I decided to make Buffalo wings, it ended up being convenient to make this Buttermilk Ranch Dressing. 

Tony and I are not fans of blue cheese dip, the most common dipping sauce for Buffalo wings, so we decided that ranch dip would be a much tastier option.  Ranch dressing is not something that I commonly keep in my fridge, so I initially planned on putting it on my grocery list.  However, I decided to do a little blog-searching, and found this great recipe from Cook Like a Champion.  The best part is, I had every single ingredient already in my fridge! 

It was meant to be.

This dressing is amazing; I never thought I would be so impressed with homemade ranch dressing, but I sure was wrong.  I think from now on, I would be very reluctant to purchase a bottled ranch dressing from the grocery store.  It's hard to describe the flavors of this homemade dressing, and how it compares to the store-bought kind...it's something you really need to try for yourself. 

This dressing was a perfect creamy element to the tangy Buffalo wings from yesterday's post.  I can't wait to try making this dressing again for a salad; I'm sure it'd be just as impressive.

Buttermilk Ranch Dressing
Recipe from Cook Like a Champion, originally from Barefoot Contessa How Easy Is That?by Ina Garten
Yield:  3 cups

3 scallions, white and green parts, chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves, lightly packed
2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1/2 cup buttermilk, well shaken

Place the scallions, basil, lemon juice, Dijon, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper in the bowl of a food processor.  Pulse until the mixture is smooth, about 15 to 20 seconds.  Add the remaining ingredients and puree until smooth.  Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving to let the flavors develop.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Crispy Baked Buffalo Wings

Before I begin, I think I should explain that pretty much all of the appetizer recipes coming up might not have the most impressive photos.  Why?  Because I made most of them last month for the Super Bowl.  I used up all the daylight while prepping everything, so had to settle with taking the photos at night before everything got eaten up!

But, I will give you my honest opinion of all of them in regards to flavor, and I can truthfully say that these wings were some of the best wings I've tasted.

And I don't even like Buffalo wings!

Yes, I'm strange, but for some reason, the slightly spicy, tangy flavor of Buffalo sauce never appealed to me...

...until now.

I should've known by the source of this recipe (Bon Appetit magazine) that this recipe would not disappoint me, but I was so certain that Buffalo wings were just not my thing.  Being the nice girlfriend that I am, I figured I'd just make half of the wings Buffalo-style (Tony's favorite), and half of another flavor (my choice, to be shared soon), so that both of us would be pleased.

What a surprise it was when I tasted one and actually liked it.  I mean, I REALLY liked it!  The flavor of the sauce was so good, without being too tangy or salty.  The flavor of sauce also paired well with the AMAZING homemade ranch dipping sauce that I served with the wings...don't worry, I'll share that recipe with you tomorrow.

The best part about these wings are that they are baked, not fried.  I was a bit worried that the baked version might compromise the traditional flavor of the fried Buffalo wings that are usually served in restaurants/bars, but this baked version tasted absolutely perfect.  I think the secret is to be sure to bake the chicken wings on a raised rack, so that the juices can drip down and allow the wings to crisp. 

I highly recommend trying this recipe the next time you are craving Buffalo wings.  It's a bit healthier than the fried version, and in terms of flavor, it's SO worth it!

Crispy Baked Buffalo Wings
Print this recipe
Recipe from Bon Appetit magazine - February 2012 issue
Yield:  about 30 wings

For the Buffalo sauce:
1 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup Frank's hot pepper sauce

For the wings:
2 1/2 pounds chicken wings, tips removed, drumettes and flats separated
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

For the Buffalo sauce:
Mix first 4 ingredients in a medium bowl; let stand for 5 minutes.  Whisk in hot sauce; keep warm.

For the wings:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Set a wire rack inside a large rimmed baking sheet.  Place all ingredients in a large bowl; toss to coat.  Place wings on prepared rack and spread out in a single layer.

Bake wings until cooked through and skin is crispy, about 45-50 minutes.

Toss wings in Buffalo sauce.  Serve immediately.

  • The sauce can be made 5 days ahead.  After preparing, cover and chill.  Rewarm before using.
  • The reason why I think these wings tasted so good is because of the brand of hot sauce; Frank's.  I've heard a lot of good things about this brand of sauce, and is most likely the reason for the great flavor.  I've also used Frank's wing sauce; if you're in a pinch for time.  Just use the bottle of wing sauce instead of this sauce recipe, and the results will still be very good!
  • Since I made these for the Super Bowl, I lined my slow cooker with foil and kept the cooked Buffalo wings in it, with it on the "warm" setting.  The wings can be kept warm in the slow cooker for several hours.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Cowboy Quinoa

Well, here we are, back to Monday again.  I had a nice busy weekend, full of activity and also relaxation.  Tony and I did a lot of things, such as seeing a friend's work in a photography show, having dinner and drinks at a gastropub in Whittier, having an early morning workout at the gym, and enjoying the hot Sunday afternoon by riding our bikes to Yogurtland for some refreshing frozen yogurt. 

Can you believe it was 91 degrees in Long Beach yesterday!?  It was so incredibly hot, the beaches were packed, and it's only the beginning of March.  Such crazy weather we've been having lately; one minute it's freezing cold and windy, then the next thing you know, it feels like summer. 

Luckily, Tony and I went to the gym early, before it got too hot.  I must mention, this was my first time working out at a gym!  In the past, I never had to worry about going to the gym, since I kept myself active by playing sports; specifically, tennis.  However, now, with work and school, tennis hasn't quite worked out with my schedule, so I needed to find a new way to get my excercise in.  Thanks to Tony's purchase from a Special Olympics silent auction fundraiser, we now have a 3-month membership to a local gym (Tony always goes to the gym though, but usually to another gym quite a distance away). 

I have an appointment with a personal trainer tomorrow, to help me set up an exercise routine that will suit my needs.  I hope I can figure out a way to get in my exercise without having to burn a ton of calories...I need to keep these pounds on (crazy, I know).  However, even though I am always trying to gain weight, I DO value gaining weight healthily, so with this new exercise routine I will (hopefully) be maintaining, I'll share a healthy recipe that will get your Monday off to a great start. 

This Cowboy Quinoa is great because it contains a variety of fresh, healthy vegetables, and quinoa, the most nutritious grain of all!  It's a really bright, colorful dish that is packed with protein and other vitamins, so you can feel confident eating this for lunch without feeling guilty.  Best of all, it doesn't "taste" healthy...the beans, corn, avocado, and lime juice give it quite a bit of flavor, and is hearty enough so that you're not still hungry afterward. 

Ah, one more thing...I forgot to add the tomatoes before taking the picture.  So just picture a reddish-colored veggie in there too.  The original poster of this recipe also added diced red bellpepper to this quinoa.  I would've used it if I had it, but I didn't so that's why I used tomatoes.  I'm sure both vegetables would taste and look great in this dish!  You can even throw in some chopped chicken if you want to add even more protein.  Head over to Gaby's blog here for a much prettier photo of this dish.

Cowboy Quinoa
Recipe slightly adapted from What's Gaby Cooking

1 cup cooked quinoa
1/4 cup fresh or frozen roasted corn
1/4 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup chopped tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper (optional)
1/2 lime, juiced
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 avocado, cut into small pieces

Cook the quinoa according to the package instructions.

Meanwhile, combine the corn, black beans, tomatoes, red onion, and red bell pepper (if using) in a bowl.  Toss to combine.

Add the cooked quinoa into the mixture, and add the lime juice and salt and pepper to taste. 

Add chopped avocado right before serving.

  • Add cooked, chopped chicken for even more protein

Friday, March 2, 2012

Bacon Deviled Eggs

I don't know about you, but I'm a big fan of bacon.  If I see bacon in almost anything, I'm willing to try it (except for that new bacon milkshake at Jack in the Box...have you heard of it?  The thought of a bacon-flavored milkshake does not entice me one bit!).

When I saw this interesting variation of deviled eggs in my Bon Appetit magazine, I knew I had to give it a try.  Besides, it would be a perfect appetizer for the Super Bowl. 

Yes.  The Super Bowl. 

I guess that shows how behind I am in my blog posting.  I'm making recipes at a much faster rate than I can find time to post them...I think I currently have 16 draft posts right now, waiting for me to finish them, plus more in my camera, that I still need to upload to drafts.  *sigh*  This school semester is slowing down my pace, but hopefully I can get caught up soon, because I have a lot of great recipes to share!

So back to these A-MA-ZING eggs.  They are good!  REALLY good!

The recipe in the magazine stated that it makes 24 eggs.  I originally thought that would be too much for just Tony, a couple friends, and I (because I made way more food on top of that...recipes to be posted soon).  I almost made 12 deviled eggs.

12.  What was I thinking?

Luckily, at the last minute, Tony stated that I should go ahead and make the full amount.  "Just go ahead and make 24," he said.  "We can put the leftovers in the fridge and eat them tomorrow."

Leftovers?  Ha!

These things were devoured so fast, they were practically gone before the rest of the food was ready to eat.  They have all the delicious qualities of traditional deviled eggs, plus a smoky, savory flavor from the bacon.  If you like bacon, I HIGHLY encourage you to try these eggs.  And, trust me...if you're not sure, just go ahead and make the 24.  It won't be very hard to finish them!

Bacon Deviled Eggs
Print this recipe

Recipe from Bon Appetit magazine - February 2012 issue
Yield:  24 deviled eggs

12 large eggs
3 slices of bacon
Butter, melted (if needed)
1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 heaping Tbsp chopped scallions
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
Scallions, thinly sliced, for garnish

Place eggs in a large saucepan; add water to cover 1".  Bring to a boil, cover, and remove from heat.  Let sit for 10 minutes.  Drain.  Transfer eggs to a bowl of ice water and let cool completely, about 10 minutes; peel.  Halve lengthwise and remove yolks.

Coarsely chop bacon.  Cook in a medium skillet over medium heat until browned and crisp.  Transfer bacon to paper towels.  Strain drippings through a fine mesh sieve into a small bowl.  Add melted butter if needed to measure 2 Tbsp.

Finely mash reserved yolks, bacon fat (and/or butter), mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, and chopped scallions in a medium bowl; season with salt and pepper.

Transfer to a large resealable freezer bag, then cut 1/2" off 1 corner.  Pipe into whites; garnish with sliced scallions and reserved bacon.