Monday, October 31, 2011

E is for: Elderflower Martini

Sometimes the best recipes come from mistakes or improvisation. This happened yesterday when I created this Elderflower cocktail. After cooking all afternoon (including the delicious Eggplant Parmesan I posted yesterday), I was exhausted from being on my feet all day and decided I needed to sit down and unwind.

I had planned to do an Elderflower cocktail at some point this week, so I had already purchased this pürlikör blossom from a local liquor store. Previously, I had only tried St. Germain, but the guy at the liquor store actually recommended this one instead, and it was about 25% cheaper, so I was sold.

Here's where the improvising came in. As I was getting ready to put everything in the shaker, I realized I was out of ice cubes (aka I forgot to fill my ice trays with water last time I used them). I actually considered asking one of my neighbors for ice, but I thought that might be kind of weird and there was no way I was walking to the gas station at this point in the day. So I looked in my freezer and found FROZEN BERRIES! Score! They served the purpose for quickly chilling the alcohol, and they added this beautiful magenta color to the drink, as well as a bit of flavor.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

E is for: Eggplant Parmesan {gluten free}

Eggplant is one of those foods where you either love it or you hate it. But if you happen to be one of the few on the fence, I urge you to try this recipe, and don't skip the salting step. It helps take some of the bitter taste away.

This is a healthier version of the traditional Eggplant Parmesan because you bake the eggplant pieces instead of frying them. Thanks to my friend Devon's cousin, Kara, for passing the recipe along. I actually made my own modifications based on similar versions I've made previously, and I think the combination turned out great!

The amounts I used in this recipe were perfect for a square baking dish. Feel free to increase the amounts to make them in a full-sized casserole dish if you're cooking for a crowd or want leftovers. Also, since I was making this for Devon who can't eat gluten, I used brown rice flour and gluten-free breadcrumbs. (By the way, we are planning an entire Gluten-free meal for "G" week!)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

D is for: Devils on Horseback {Dates, wrapped in prosciutto and stuffed with almonds}

Don't you just love those Dos Equis commercials? As I was driving around the other day I heard this Halloween one: "His deviled eggs recipe involves actual witchcraft." Classic. As you know, I posted a devilish egg recipe Monday.

Anyways, as I was searching around for more Halloween-themed appetizer recipes, I came across an appetizer called "Devils on Horseback." When I clicked on the description and saw dates (or prunes), prosciutto (or bacon), and some sort of stuffing (cheese, almonds, or chutney)...I realized I've indeed had these delicious treats, I had just never heard the name before. (And two "D's"...perfect for "D" week! Sold).

I was actually interested in where this name came from, so I did a little research for you. From what I can tell, it is a play on another appetizer called "Angels on Horseback" which are bacon-wrapped oysters. Substituting dried fruit is the less expensive and darker alternative. (I also found a hilarious entry on Factopedia, claiming the name came from medieval soldiers using bacon as armor. I laughed out loud when I read that one.)

Anyways...onto the little devils.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

D is for: Delicata Squash Pasta

So, I was going to post a delicious prosciutto-wrapped date recipe today, but then I realized... 

TODAY IS WORLD PASTA DAY!!

So obviously, I needed to make some pasta. I was already planning on making a delicata squash recipe for "D" week, so I decided this was the perfect day to do so.

I got this recipe from my dear friend, Kasey, who is a REAL chef in Chicago. We met in Barcelona during college, when we were both spending a semester in Spain. We were randomly paired to live together with our host mom, Delores. As we discovered our mutual loves for good food and wine, we instantly became inseparable and have been friends ever since. We even lived in San Francisco at the same time for a couple years before she decided to head back to the midwest. (Insert frown face here).

Monday, October 24, 2011

D is for: Devilish Eggs, two ways

Since "D" week falls the week before Halloween, I thought it would be fun to do a couple of Halloween hors d'oeuvres in case you are hosting a party and in need of a couple of fun appetizer ideas.

I found several variations of Deviled Eggs...or "Devilish Eggs" for Halloween. I saw ones that made the eggs look like blood shot eyes...that sort of creeped me out. But I also found olive-topped eggs cleverly made to look like spiders, and ones by Martha Stewart made to look like devil faces with strategic placement of a few garnishes. I couldn't decide which one I liked better, so I decided to just make both.

Start by making your favorite deviled eggs recipe. There are so many variations out there...relish, capers, bacon, curry, onions, mushrooms, pesto, the list goes on and on. Just for convenience sake, I'll post a basic recipe here...but feel free to use your own.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

D is for: Delfina, a tale of two dinners {Restaurant Review}

FOREVER, I've been wanting to go to DelfinaBut of course, whenever I have someone visiting, and by the time I remember to make a reservation, it's always too late to get into Delfina. It's that good. (And that popular).

So when I found out my mom was going to be in town for a couple of days, I decided this was a perfect opportunity to try my luck. She loves their sister restaurant, Pizzeria Delfina, so I was positive she would love the restaurant too. I clicked on their website...8:30PM. YES! A little late by mom standards (she lives in the Mountain time zone), but still not too bad.

I totally hyped it up to her. Probably a little too much. When we arrived, (after a day of shopping and wine tasting in Napa, mind you), they informed us they were running about 15 minutes behind. But to make up for it, they gave me a free glass of Prosecco. Immediately, I wasn't as bummed about the extra wait time.

Friday, October 21, 2011

C is for: Curry Up Now {Restaurant Review}


I know I'm a little late to the food truck party, but I'm totally on board with this delicious phenomenon. For those of you who don't live in San Francisco, gourmet food trucks are all the rage here. When they're not parking in their regular spots at lunchtime, they're gathering at various Off the Grid events, where you can sample all of the fares in one convenient location. Here's a great article on them from the New York Times.

C is for: Chicken Salad with Dried Cherries & Celery

This "C" madness is *almost* over. I promise.

However, yesterday was leftover day, and I decided to make this SUPER simple (and delicious) chicken salad to bring to work and I wanted to share it here on the blog.

This is a variation of a chicken salad my mom makes, which is a variation of a chicken salad she had at a restaurant once. (Did I lose you yet?)

Anyways, when I was making the stuffed chicken the other day, I grilled an extra chicken breast using the same marinade, and it made a perfect base for this salad.

Normally, I would give you step-by-step photos, but all this recipe involves is some chopping, mixing, and that's it!

You could make the recipe as-is and use it for a quick and easy lunch (like I did), or as an appetizer on these delicious hazelnut crackers from Raincoast Crisps, or you could make a bigger batch and serve with croissants at a shower or luncheon.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

C is for: Chicken Breasts, Stuffed with Pecans & Goat Cheese

Chicken stuffed with a mixture of goat cheese, pecans, thyme, & lemon zest
As you may have noticed, I'm sort of on a roll with "C" week. Most weeks, I won't have as much time or options to post on each letter (I'm already dreading "X"), so I may as well capitalize while I can.

Another suggestion I received this week was from my sister, Heather. (Or, as I usually say, "Siiiiister.") She asked that I do a chicken dish. What you should know about Heather is she eats a LOT of chicken. She does not like red meat at all. She was once dared to eat a whole steak for $100 (or maybe it was more?) and she didn't even consider it.

I actually eat a lot of chicken myself. It's easy to prepare, it's healthy, and there are a lot of different things you can do with it. You can bread it, grill it, stuff it, saute it on the stove with a savory sauce, use it in a salad or stir fry, or roast it in the oven. On this particular night, I decided to use only ingredients I had in my fridge or pantry, so this is what I came up with.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

C is for: Cookie {and it's good enough for me!}


Courtesy: Sesame Street
The fun and interesting thing about starting a blog, (particularly a food blog) is the feedback you get from your friends, family, and co-workers.

Everyone has an opinion, a suggestion for a recipe or restaurant, and I love it! It's become far more social and interactive than I ever imagined.

But when my friend Felipe suggested on Facebook that I do "cookie" for C week (ala Mr. Cookie Monster), I was terrified.

No, not of the cookie monster, but of baking. A baker I am not. When I cook, I'm totally the type of person who won't necessarily measure things out...I just add what I think looks right and go from there until it tastes the way I think it should.

But baking is literally science. I actually did really well in high school chemistry (thanks to my wonderful teacher, Mr. Barlow) but for some reason when I bake, it just doesn't come out right. Exhibit A: "The Valentine's Day Cookies." I wish I had taken a photo of these beauties. They actually tasted great, but they turned out flat. Like, really, really, flat. Like, pancake flat. Sadly, most of my baking endeavors have ended in catastrophe, so I just don't do it.

But I'm always up for a challenge, and since the name of my blog was inspired by Cookie Monster's mantra, I decided to go for it. But I needed a recipe. I'm all about making organic and healthy food that tastes good, so I was intrigued by Carrie Vitt's Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe from her cookbook, Deliciously Organic. She also has a wheat-free version on her blog for my gluten-free friends. I emailed Carrie, and she graciously granted me permission to post the recipe here on the blog.

So here goes....

Monday, October 17, 2011

C is for: Cheese, Chutney, Curry, Cashews, & Cane Sugar

Remember how much I love champagne?

Well, I just might love cheese even more.

It's a tough call.

Either way, I especially love Brie. And I especially love it made this way.

Since this is a recipe for Baked Brie, I was going to do it for "B" week, but when I realized all five ingredients start with the letter "C," I decided to roll it over to this week.

I originally learned this recipe from my good college friend, Brooke Ware. But since she lives in Seattle, and I was living in San Diego at the time, I adopted it as my own go-to party recipe.

It became so popular among my friends that I basically couldn't come to a party without bringing this delicious appetizer.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

C is for: CHAMPAGNE! {Grand Mimosa}

I love champagne.

It quite possibly might be my favorite alcoholic drink.

I love it by itself.

I love it in a cocktail.

I love it in a jello shot.

I love it for mimosas.

I also love that calling it a mimosa makes it perfectly acceptable to drink at breakfast.

I realize that mimosas are not really that complicated to make (dump in some OJ and you're in business)...but if you want to "fancy" it up a bit, there are a few easy steps you can take to really impress your brunch guests.

You're going to need some oranges, Grand Marnier or Cointreau (or some other good-quality orange liquor), and of course...champagne. (Or in this case, sparkling wine).


C is for: CSA

A typical CSA bag (adorable orange cat not included.)
This is not a recipe post. Nor is it a restaurant post. Instead, I wanted to sing the praises of CSA and encourage all who have CSA services in their area to participate.

"What is CSA?" you might be wondering? I'm glad you asked.

CSA stands for "Community Supported Agriculture." Basically, it's a way for you to get super fresh fruits and vegetables, while directly supporting local farmers in the process. I first learned about these when I was doing a story with Olympic swimmer Natalie Coughlin, who also happens to love cooking. (Thank you Natalie!) Also...my dad is a farmer in Montana, so supporting agriculture is something near and dear to my heart.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

B is for: Brunch and Bakery {Sweet Maple & Fillmore Bakeshop}

As you've no doubt figured out by my multiple "B" posts this week, I've decided that each letter will have its own week. This gives me a chance to post multiple recipes or blogs on certain letters and will stretch out my "ABC" exercise a little longer.

I mentioned in my very first post that I love going out to new restaurants almost as I love cooking my own food. And as my bay area friends know, San Francisco is full of great eateries. I got together with my friend Kim this morning for an impromptu brunch and stopped by a delicious bakery afterwards. I also got my very first iPhone last night, so I was obsessed with playing around with the camera+ ap. As I was headed home, the light bulb went off... "It's still B week!" making "brunch" and "bakery" a perfect chance to post a few pics.


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

B is for: Beef, Stir-Fried with Cabbage and Mushrooms

Most kids' chores go something like this:
-Clean your room
-Fold your clothes
-Do your homework
-Empty the dishwasher

In my house, it also included:
-Cook dinner once a week

My mom is a smart lady. She was a single, working mother raising two kids. As a way of helping her daughters learn their way around a kitchen, and in the meantime, lighten her load a little...we were responsible for cooking once a week. (Or else no allowance!) This meant meal planning (protein, veggie, starch) and making the dinner aesthetically pleasing (i.e. a plate of chicken, white rice, and cauliflower wasn't going to cut it).

Monday, October 10, 2011

B is for: Brussels Sprouts, Roasted with Bacon and Pears

I feel like brussels sprouts get a bad rap.

Or at least they did when I was a kid. It was always the dreaded vegetable portrayed in TV shows as THE worst vegetable a parent could possibly sentence their child to eat.

Truth be told, I never actually ate one until I moved to San Francisco. I was in the lunchroom at work, sitting down to eat with my co-worker and good friend, Devon Fox. As we warmed up our leftovers in the microwave, she forced me try one of these little green orbs of goodness, and I was instantly hooked.

Monday, October 3, 2011

A is for: Asian Chicken Noodle Soup

I've been sick the last couple days.

I realize for most people, the last thing they want to do when they're sick is to cook, but for some reason, cooking relaxes me, and this soup instantly makes me feel better.

For years, people have been using chicken noodle soup as a remedy for colds. I'm sure there's some scientific evidence that backs this up, but all I know is it tastes good and it's relatively simple to prepare.

This one puts an Asian twist on an old classic. Instead of egg noodles, it uses Thai rice noodles. It features fresh herbs and also provides a little heat, which always seems to make me feel better when I'm battling the sniffles. (Thanks Kelly Cisek for giving me my go-to home medicine).

Alphabet Soup

Forever, I've been saying I need to start a blog.

I read my friends' blogs, I read food blogs, I read photo blogs. I also enjoy writing, and I don't do it nearly enough.

But I can also be lazy at times. Saying you're going to start a blog, and actually doing it are two entirely different things. And then I get caught up in what it should look like. That starts an entirely new obsession (mostly frustration), especially for a web designing novice like myself. Finally, I decided it's not as important what it looks like right now, I just need to do it.

So here goes.

(Drum roll....)

I've decided to start a food blog of sorts. Since I enjoy cooking, it will have recipes. And since I also enjoy eating out, it could include entries on restaurants. And really, it's my blog, so technically it can include whatever I want.

But I like themes. So I needed a theme.

As I was walking home from the gym today, the inspiration struck me. What if I start at the letter "A" and work my way through the alphabet for each post? It would give me some direction, a fun challenge, with tons of possibilities. I realize that only gives me 26 entries...but that's a good place to start. After that, maybe I'll start back over or come up with a new twist.

So without further ado, I present to you: "'E' is for EAT."
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