Chickpea Salad with Lemon, Parmesan, and Fresh Herbs


After making this recipe, the song “My Favorite Things” from Mary Poppins started to play in my head. At first this seemed strange, but then it dawned on me why this song was stuck in my head — this recipe encompasses many of my favorite ingredients: lemon, basil, cheese, and garbanzo beans.

But, to be perfectly honest, I usually do not make “bean salads.” So, nonetheless, I was a bit hesitant to try this recipe of Chickpea Salad with Lemon, Parmesan, and Fresh Herbs; however, since it contained my favorite ingredients, I was hoping that the marriage of these elements would produce a fantastic result.

This recipe was a definite hit. The only modification I would make is to reduce the amount of lemon juice. But, other than that, this recipe is so simple that I will continue again and again to make it on days when I’m not in the mood to cook!

Cheers!

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Cheddar Jalapeño Bread

I LOVE spicy food. Just ask my friends — I excessively douse my scrambled eggs, Asian inspired dishes, sandwiches, and tortilla chips with Salsa, Tabasco, Sriracha, or Secret Aardvark sauce (or any combination thereof). But, in addition to my love of fiery, heat-loaded sauces, I also happen to enjoy jalapeños. In my opinion, jalapeños are a perfect addition to nachos, sandwiches, soups, and rice dishes to provide an extra kick of flavor.

Two weekends ago, I indulged in cheddar jalapeno bread for the first time at a friend’s house. I was completely enamored by the salty, spicy, and cheesy flavors that mixed together with the bread. I’ve always put jalapenos on sandwiches that are already overloaded with other ingredients; however, I had never thought to just make bread solely with jalapenos as one of main ingredients. I found a recipe for Cheddar Jalapeno Bread; however, my first attempt resulted in a massive failure. Now, that’s not to say that the previous recipe is flawed, because it is definitely not (this recipe is one of the top ten bread recipes on Epicurious and has plenty of amazing reviews). I would totally recommend anyone to make that recipe. My main problems resulted in the fact that the yeast I had on hand did not rise for some unbeknownst reason as well as that the bread takes about 6.75 hours to make from start to finish. Even though I love to bake and I’m completely willing to take the time, I’m usually not that patient (especially after I messed up the first time!). So, I decided to take a previous recipe for bread (as seen here), and add onto it by putting cheese and jalapenos on it at the end!

Step 1: Make Other Bread

Step 2: Slice Fresh Jalapeño Dough; Grate Cheese


Step 3: Place Cheddar Cheese, Sliced Jalapeños,
and Jarred Jalapeños On Top of Bread and Bake!


[I usually wouldn’t prefer anything “jarred”
over fresh — but, in this case, jarred jalapeños
are even spicier and bake really well!]

I was a bit nervous to make this recipe; however, I’m happy at the results. For next time, I’ll definitely make one modification: add the cheese and jalapeños just a few minutes before the bread is done baking. That way, the cheese-y flavors will be more pronounced!

Cheers!


When the Moon Hits Your Eye Like A Big Pizza Pie, That’s Amore! (Part 2)

This past weekend, I met up with a friend and her boyfriend at Grand Central Bakery in the Sellwood area of Southeast Portland. Although we ate at Grand Central Bakery for lunch, I fully intent to revisit this cozy, neighborhood establishment for a morning pasty and daily Cup-of-Joe. Besides being totally smitten by a delicious sandwich, I was also ecstatic to discover that Grand Central Bakery has a “U-Bake Menu.” This means that they sell “U-Bake” pie, pizza, puff pastry, and cookie doughs. Don’t get me wrong, I love making dough from scratch; however, sometimes it is just too time consuming.

With the “U-Bake” menu staring me in the face and tempting me greatly, I decided that the $2.95 purchase of pizza dough was definitely worth the price and would save me tremendous time. For a Sunday dinner with the generous help of Grand Central Bakery, I decided to make: Cheese Pizza with Feta, Sundried Tomatoes, and Pesto and Cheese Pizza with Carmelized Onions and Prosciutto.

Step 1: Chop Garlic and Prepare Olive Oil Base;
Chop Prosciutto and Sundried Tomatoes;
Caramelize Onions; Add Olive Oil Base to
One Half and Tomato Sauce to Other Half

Step 2: Place Mozzarella Over Top; Spread
Pesto, Feta, and Sundried Tomatoes Over
One Half; Spread Prosciutto and Caramelized
Onions Over the Other Half

Step 3: Bake, Cut, Serve!

Every now and then, I have enjoyed making a pizza on a Sunday afternoon. I’m glad that I improvised for this pizza as compared to a previous post (as seen here). I still have much room to improve including getting the temperature just right and the amount of ingredients used. But, that is part of the fun with experimenting!

Cheers!

Homemade Lasagna

I just spoke via Skype with a friend who I haven’t been able to speak to in months. Currently, she is living in Seoul, South Korea and teaching English to kindergartners. Although it’s been a vast adjustment, she has enjoyed all of the challenges, scenery, and culture. She is a very brave young woman and I’m proud of her for pursuing that opportunity!

I especially enjoyed hearing about her travels and new experiences. Since I love food and trying new things, I undoubtedly felt compelled to inquire about South Korean cuisine. Basically, mixtures of rice, noodles, vegetables, and various meats comprise most meals in combination with plenty of spicy flavors and seasonings.

However, although she is having a blast sampling Korean cuisine and other fare from her travels, my friend does miss traditional meals from home as well as classic Southern dishes. That being said, I decided to make one of her favorite dishes and dedicate this post to her (this may seem cruel – but, we talked about it on Skype and she though it would serve as a great reminder of home!). Since I don’t have a deep fryer, I thought that some type of pasta dish would be best. Instantly, the thought of lasagna came to mind. So, after replenishing ingredients at the store, I made a delicious Mushroom and Sausage Lasagna.

Step 1: Saute Onions, Chopped
Mushrooms; Add Sausage and Garlic

Step 2: Layer Noodles, Tomato Sauce,
Cheese, and Sausage Mixture (Alternating)


[Use Flat No-Bake Noodles — They are
easier to use and taste better!]

Step 3: Bake, Slice, and Enjoy!

[The flat no-bake noodles don’t look as aesthetically pleasing.
Despite the appearance, the flavors mixed together wonderfully.]

Lasagna can be a great meal when done right. Often times, an overabundance or shortage exists of one of the items and in turn creates a taste bud rollercoaster. For example, I have had lasagnas in the past where the amount of ricotta cheese was too prevalent or lasagnas which contained a sparse serving of meat/vegetables and seasonings.

The key to a great lasagna is setting up the best ratio of noodle to sauce to cheese to meat/vegetables. This can be found by happening to stumble upon a great recipe or through trial and error. In my case, I was lucky and happened to find a great recipe on the first try!

Cheers!

P.S. To my friend in South Korea — I miss you dearly and I hope this reminds you of home. In fact, I’ll make it upon your return!

When the Moon Hits Your Eye Like a Big Pizza Pie, That’s Amore!

“That’s Amore” by Dean Martin started playing on a television show the other night. I think that my subconscious engulfed the words “Pizza Pie” because a few days later, I felt the urge to make a pizza when I woke up on Sunday morning. I’m not sure if this song is where my innate desire originated from, however, I’m glad that it did because it gave me the chance to prepare a fantastic dinner!

The decision to make pizza was definitely prime. I didn’t have to visit the store because I could combine ingredients I already had at home. Plus, I also happened to have a packet of active dry yeast in the cupboard, so I could be entirely authentic and make the pizza dough from scratch! After much pondering, I decided to make a simple Three Cheese and Tomato Pizza.

Pizza Dough

Step 1: Mix Active Dry Yeast With Warm
Water and Olive Oil; Let Sit for 10 Minutes


Step 2: Combine Yeast Mixture
With Flour and Salt


Step 3: Gather Dough into a Ball; Put In Bowl
and Let Sit Under a Cloth for 2 Hours (To Let Rise)

Three Cheese and Tomato Pizza 

Step 1: Cut Tomatoes; Mince Garlic
and Add to Two Tablespoons of Olive Oil


Step 2: Roll Out Pizza Dough


Step 3: Place Garlic Oil on Dough, Put
Cheese and Tomatoes on Top, Bake!

[Nifty Pizza Cutting Scissors!]

I should have baked the pizza a few minutes longer (to brown the edges), but at least I learned a lesson for next time. All in all, the pizza tasted great and I think I can still hear that Dean Martin song playing in my head…

Cheers!

 

Happy 2011! New Year’s Sunday Brunch

 This year my friends and I decided to host a New Year’s Sunday Brunch. We thought this would be a perfect time to get together, catch up on each other’s lives, and cheers to a Happy New Year.

Naturally, I awoke too early on a Sunday and had plenty of time to mosey around the house before everyone arrived. With the extra time, I conjured up a few items that I think no casual Sunday brunch should be without.

Sunday Morning Paper

Different Coffee Mugs

Vanilla Candles

Flowers 

Non-Traditional Holder for Utensils

New Year’s Sunday Brunch included a Spinach and Bacon Quiche and Belgian Buttermilk Waffles with Glazed Bananas.

I chose to make a quiche for several reasons:

1. Can easily alter/modify/add ingredients

2. Option to pre-buy the crust or make from scratch

3. Simple and I have never made one before!

That being said, for this quiche, I altered the ingredients to cater to certain food preferences and allergies of my friends (I substituted cheddar cheese for swiss cheese (on one-half of the quiche only), nixed the bacon, and added mushrooms and roasted red peppers). I also chose to make the dough/crust the day before in order to avoid waking up too early to make it the day of brunch. Despite the fact that I had to bake the quiche for 20 minutes longer than the recipe suggested, the quiche turned out well and next time I’d like to experiment with other ingredients such as chicken, asparagus, and gruyere!

Step 1: Use a Blender/Food Processor
to  Make Dough; Fill 9-inch Pan with Dough

Step 2: Chop Dry Ingredients; Place in Crust


Step 3: Blend Liquid Ingredients;
Pour Onto Crust

Step 4: Bake, Cut, Serve!

The waffles seemed like the easy, go-to choice to complement a savory dish for this brunch. Plus, I couldn’t remember the last time I actually ate waffles and almost had forgotten what they taste like. That fact by itself solidified this choice as a done deal. These were very crunchy and the bananas provided a great flavorful kick in combination with maple syrup!

Step 1: Mix Dry Ingredients Together; Mix
Liquid Ingredients Together; Combine


Step 2: Preheat Waffle Iron and Pour
Batter (3 minutes each round)

Step 3: Heat Butter Until Foam Subsides;
Place Bananas on Pan for 1 Minute Each Side

Step 4: Add to Waffles, Drizzle Syrup, Enjoy!

I’m hoping that we can make New Year’s Sunday Brunch a tradition for next year too!
Cheers to a Happy 2011!

 

5 Things Thanksgiving Style

Within the past few months, I have truly learned to appreciate the small things in life and to be thankful for normal, everyday things most people take for granted. That being said, I am thankful (again) for Thanksgiving because it serves as a perfect reminder to remember what you are thankful for and count your blessings!

Don’t forget to tell your family and friends this Thanksgiving season that you are thankful for them — just a few words can make such a significant difference!

All right, it is time to move onto other Thanksgiving festivities a.k.a FOOD. It is definitely a good thing that Thanksgiving comes only once a year for according to the NYDailyNews.com, the average Thanksgiving meal rakes in a whopping 3,500 calories! Despite learning that terrifying fact, I still wanted to cook the usual Thanksgiving foods; however, I tried to make some of these foods a tad bit healthier (key words being “tried” and “some”)!

Now, it’s no myth that the reason why Thanksgiving foods are so unhealthy lies in the ingredients with butter, cream, sugar, and nuts as the prime culprits. And, vegetables dishes are usually sparse at Thanksgiving, but even when they are present, they are often laden with plenty of cream, cheese, and fried goodness. Nevertheless, the following pictures highlight a few of the side dishes I made for Thanksgiving as well as my Mom’s Turkey (side dish recipes taken from Epicurious.com and all contain a link to the original recipe):

1. Potato Gratin with White Cheddar Cheese

2. Italian Sausage and Bread Stuffing

I forgot to take a picture of the finished product… oops!

3. Roasted Sweet Potato Rounds with Garlic Oil and Fried Sage

4. Turkey

5. Lemon Pear Croustade

All of these side dishes actually turned out pretty well considering these were first-time recipes! Although only one of these recipes is a little bit healthier (Roasted Sweet Potatoes), I would totally recommend to make any of these dishes again. The Pear Croustade was a bit hit with the family and I will continue to use its pasty recipe for other future baked goods!

Cheers!