Tuesday, January 31, 2012

S is for: Super Bowl Snacks, Part II: Muffin Pan Mania

Mini Deep Dish Pizzas
In case you haven't noticed, I'm sort of obsessed with my muffin pan at the moment. Lasagna CupsMini Quiches, Pita CupsElmo Cupcakes (though that one is sort of expected), but you get the idea. I can't help it. Everything just turns out so adorable and, well...mini!

If you are also a fan of the muffin pan mania, I've got good news for you. The second installment of my Super Bowl mini menu exclusively enlists the help of a muffin pan to make these miniature main dishes.

When you think about game day food, pizza and Buffalo wings would both make the Top 5. For pizza, why not make individual pies so that all of your guests can have their own? (UPDATE: check out this even MORE mini pizzas).

And you can't have a football party without hot wings. But they can be a pain (and a mess) to make and eat. How about combining all of the flavors you love about hot wings and bake them together in a deliciously spicy individual pot pie? 

R is for: Raspberry Cinnamon Rolls {Heart Shaped for V-Day!}

Do you have someone special on Valentine's Day this year? Why not make them a special breakfast to show your love and adoration?

This is the first of three Valentine's Day-related breakfast posts. However, as it happened chronologically, this was actually the second I made on that particular day, so the photos aren't quite up to par...but hey, don't they say "it's the thought that counts?"

I thought so too. And there's definitely a lot of thought and love behind these heartfelt cinnamon rolls.

This recipe is originally from my Aunt Candy. I must confess, the recipe made her way is much better...mostly because it contains more butter and brown sugar. But this way allows for the heart-shaped variation, which was too adorable to pass up.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Q is for: Quesadillas on the Grill {a Tailgate Special}

I've said it before and I'll say it again.

I. Love. Cheese.

I also happen to love Mexican food, so it's no surprise I have an affinity for quesadillas. But recently, my friend Devon introduced me to an idea I had never thought of previously: cooking them on the grill!

If you've never tried it, I highly recommend it for your next tailgate or barbecue. The key is to wrap them in foil so your toppings don't tumble to a smoky death in the hot coals. The outside will still get brown and crispy and the inside will be a deliciously gooey utopia of melted cheese.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

S is for: Super Bowl Snacks, Part I: Super Sliders

I know what you're thinking: S week doesn't start until February 5th.

And you're right. But here's the thing: February 5th also happens to be Superbowl Sunday. And being the sports girl that I am...you know I have some great recipes cooking for the big game. In fact, I have NINE different mini-sized munchies for your Super Bowl parties, which you will need to start planning for well before the 5th.

So yes, I'm slightly breaking the rules of my own blog, but it's my blog, so I am allowed to do whatever I want. I will still be finishing Q week, and I will still do R week. But just know there will also be some premature "S" posts scattered throughout.

I'm also extremely excited to announce I'll be posting these recipes over on hellobrit.com. Brit is like the tech-savvy Martha Stewart of our generation, with creative ideas for everyday living. I'm so honored to be featured in her food section! So head on over to Brit's site and check out the first of my three posts: Super Sliders!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Q is for: Quiches with Chard & Mushrooms

Make mini quiches for an easy breakfast all week!
When it comes to breakfast, I'm definitely a savory-over-sweet kind of person. And when I say that I eat eggs pretty much every day, I'm not exaggerating.

But sometimes with busy schedules, it's not always easy to fry up an egg sandwich or an egg taco (both staples of mine) before running out the door.

Enter the mini crustless quiches. (Ok, so they're not *technically* a quiche...but you get the idea).

You can make a bunch of them at the beginning of the week, use whatever veggies, meats, or cheeses you happen to have in the fridge, and eat them throughout the week. They are high on protein and low on carbs, and contain just 119 calories each.

The combinations are endless, so get creative! And if you need some ideas, visit Kalyn over at Kalyn's Kitchen. I consider her the queen of the mini quiches, or as she calls them "egg muffins."

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Q is for: Q {Restaurant Review}

Each week...in addition to my multiple recipe posts, I try my best to also post a restaurant review to coincide with the letter of the week.You can't get much more dead-on for "Q" week than a restaurant called "Q."

Q Restaurant and Wine Bar is a quirky little place in the Inner Richmond, specializing in comfort food. It was also featured on an episode of "Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. Just how quirky, you ask? Besides the giant tree in the middle of the restaurant, the Christmas lights and the moon-like sculpture on the ceiling...all along the metal walls are the refrigerator alphabet letters, allowing diners to leave a temporary mark. Naturally, I took advantage by adding a little self-promotion to the wall. :)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Q is for: Quinoa & Kale Gratin

You may have heard of quinoa. Maybe you've even tried it. If you like it, you're gonna love this recipe. If you're one of those people in the "it tastes too much like healthy hippie food" camp...I think you still might like this.

For starters, it has cheese in it. Instantly ups the flavor value. I also always use chicken or veggie broth when cooking the quinoa, and it really helps in the taste department as well.

Now if you're totally lost and have no idea what the heck quinoa is...you should totally check it out. It's considered an ancient grain and once considered the "gold of the Incas." It looks sort of like cous cous, but it's actually related to leafy vegetables like swiss chard. It's gluten free, and it's a full protein on its own (so a great source of amino acids for you vegetarians out there).

Saturday, January 21, 2012

P is for: Pea Shoot & Arugula Pesto

I love pesto.

But in the winter, it's hard to get a good pesto fix. Especially if you like a good basil pesto. It's just not the same in the winter months. (Unless you freeze some in the summer, which I did...but it's now gone. Sad face).

But this week, I invented-slash-discovered pea shoot pesto. To me, pea shoots seem like something that should only be available in the spring and summer months. But miraculously, they keep showing up in my weekly CSA produce box, so I finally decided...these would be good in a pesto!

Friday, January 20, 2012

P is for: Pita Cups with Homemade Hummus {a Tailgate Special}

Baked pita chip cups filled with hummus, olives and feta
"Is that hummus?"

"So good, right?"

"Get these chips away from me."

Yes, this is hummus. And yes, it's SO good. And you don't need to pass on the chips, because these pita chips are whole wheat.

And better yet, it's homemade hummus INSIDE a baked pita cup. Healthy and delicious, what more do you need? (I kind of want a hot dog).

Anyways, whether you're hosting a football viewing party or going to a game this weekend, you've gotta try these.

(Try some.)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

P is for: Pulled Pork Paninis

Pulled Pork Paninis with Caramelized Onions & Homemade BBQ sauce
I own a lot of kitchen appliances. Probably way too many for my tiny apartment and miniscule kitchen. But I love them. And I find room for all of them. And I cheerfully added another when my cousin bought me a panini maker for Christmas. I decided to pair it with one of my other favorite appliances, my All Clad Slow Cooker to make these awesome pulled pork paninis.

Even more exciting than my kitchen appliances...I'm guest-posting this recipe on my friend Karen's blog, 365 Days of Slow Cooking! Karen and I go way back to our days at Great Falls High School...maybe even middle school too. (It all sort of blurs together at this point.) I was tempted to dig up an old high school photo to post, but didn't think anyone needed to see how awkward I was back then. Years later, we've reconnected on Facebook and through our food blogs. Karen is truly an inspiration. A couple years ago, she set out on a project to use her slow cooker every day for a year. She accomplished her mission and wrote a cookbook. And guess what?? She has another one coming out this spring. So if you're into slow cooking, definitely buy her book when it becomes available, and in the meantime head over to her site to get the recipe for these pulled pork paninis.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

P is for: Party for Jack {& Elmo Cupcakes}

A lot of times life isn't as much about where you are but who you're with. My time in San Diego was a perfect example of that. Sure, I was living in a beautiful city with nearly perfect weather, but it was my friends who really made it home for me.

About a year after graduating from WSU, the CBS affiliate in San Diego took a chance on a wide-eyed, extremely green sports reporter from Great Falls, Montana. I was pretty rough around the edges when I first started, but they must have seen potential and decided to stick it out with me. During my 4.5 years there, I learned a lot about TV, sports, and reporting...and in the meantime made some of the best friends in the world.

So when one of my friends (Melissa) was having a baby shower in SD, one of my other friends (Laura) was throwing a birthday party for her 2-year-old son Jack, and a third friend (Megan) was celebrating her own birthday, I knew I just had to be there. Laura enlisted my help in re-creating some Elmo cupcakes our friend Erin spotted on Pinterest and I wanted to share them with you.

Monday, January 16, 2012

P is for: Pizza at A16 {Restaurant Review}

As you know, my friend Kasey was in town last week and we had a great time eating and drinking our way through the city. On her final night in San Francisco, we met up at another one of her favorite spots...A16 in the Marina.

This was my first trip to A16, and we had a great seat at the chef's counter and had a front row seat to see all of the pizza making magic.

Some of my friends who have lived here awhile say that A16 has gone downhill a little since they opened. I have nothing to compare it to, but it was some of the best pizza I've had in the city. Perhaps it's new executive chef David Taylor, who took over about a year ago and spent time in Naples becoming a certified Neapolitan pizzaiolo. That's some major credibility.

Friday, January 13, 2012

O is for: Onion Dip {a Tailgate Special}

I know what you're thinking...onion dip is NOT healthy. And you would be right. BUT....technically I made this pre-New Year's Resolution, AND I made it with all low-fat ingredients.

Also, if when I mention French Onion Dip, your mind immediately thinks of a powdered soup of some sort, let me tell you that this includes none of that. This has real caramelized onions, and it tastes fabulous. The extra step doesn't take too long, and it's totally worth it.

I hear people tell me all the time how much they enjoy my blog, but follow it up to say they could never make any of my recipes. Nonsense! You can totally make this (and lots of other recipes)...just give it a try! And there's no better time than the 49ers first playoff game in what's seemed like a bajillion years. Go 49ers!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

O is for: Out the Door {Restaurant Review}

As you get older, birthdays aren't as big of a deal. These days, my idea of a perfect birthday: good food, a bottle of wine, and my closest friends. A festive candle never hurts either.

Monday, we celebrated my friend Kim's birthday with at Out the Door. Being how close it is to my apartment, I'm surprised I haven't been until now. Out the Door is basically the more casual version of Slanted Door, the San Francisco staple at the Ferry Building. But the great thing about OTD is they have three different locations, and you can get a lot of the same dishes in a more casual setting.

(And if you want a candle in your chocolate chestnut torte, they will cheerfully oblige.)

Monday, January 9, 2012

O is for: Omelette with Crab and Mock Hollandaise Sauce

As evident by my crab stuffed mushrooms and my order at NOPA the other night, I'm a sucker for anything with Dungeness crab right now.

When I was trying to brainstorm what would be on the menu for "O" week, I decided it was time I added to the breakfast section of my recipes page as it was looking a little lean. A plain old omelette (or omelet) isn't terribly exciting, but add in some fresh crab and top it with hollandaise sauce, and now you've got my attention.

As you know, I'm trying to eat healthy these days, so I found a great "mock hollandaise" sauce from Cooking Light. I'm not going to lie and tell you it's as good as the real deal, but it was surprisingly delicious and was half the fat and calories. (Only 2 grams of fat per tablespoon). If you like hollandaise sauce but watching your waistline, I definitely recommend trying this version. It would also be good on eggs benedict or steamed veggies! Mmmmmmm.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

O is for: Oven Roasted Beet Salad with Orange-Tangerine Vinaigrette

Beets are kind of like brussels sprouts. People have very strong feelings about them. Either they love them (like me), or they hate them (my friends Devon and Tonya).

Tonya is in town doing a veterinary rotation for two weeks, so I got to have her over for dinner last week. I wasn't aware of her beet hatred (she thinks they taste like dirt), but she was a good sport and had some salad anyways. She wasn't declaring herself a beet convert, but she didn't hate them either.

The key...you have to roast them! (And toss them in a yummy dressing).

Saturday, January 7, 2012

N is for: NOPA {Restaurant Review}

Whenever people ask me for restaurant recommendations, NOPA pretty much always makes the list. It's consistently good, it's open late, and it's one of my favorite spots in the city.

My dear friend Kasey is in town this weekend. We met in Barcelona and bonded over our love of food. (She was the one who did the delicata squash pasta). Our time in SF overlapped for awhile, but sadly, she moved back to Chicago a couple years ago.

But the good news...she's back visiting and when I asked her what she was craving, NOPA was her top choice.

Friday, January 6, 2012

N is for: Nacho Cheese Dip {a Tailgate Special}

One word: Velveeta.
Ok...I know what you're thinking. This is definitely NOT part of the New Year's resolution to eat healthy. Well, technically this was consumed BEFORE I set out on the healthy food kick.

Yes, it's somewhat cruel that I'm posting it for everyone else AFTER New Year's Day, but I'm sure there are some out there who are still throwing caution to the wind....especially with the 49ers playoff game coming up.

And as you know by now, I have a severe weakness for cheese...especially the processed variety. So if you'd like the recipe for this highly addictive cheese dip, (courtesy of my friend Devon and her mom Marilyn)

Thursday, January 5, 2012

N is for: North End Caffe {Manhattan Beach Restaurant Review}

As you know, I was in Los Angeles last week. When my cousin and I weren't busy decorating melted snowmen sugar cookies, we managed to check out a couple of great restaurants. Osteria Mozza was fabulous, but I also really enjoyed the North End Caffe, which we walked to for lunch on my last day in SoCal.

If it looks familiar to you, that's because it's been featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. Portions are HUGE, and the food is excellent. It was a beautiful day and we lucked out with an outdoor table.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

N is for: Neufchâtel and Smoked Salmon Endive Boats

N is for: New Year's Resolutions.

Yup. I'll be one of the cliche New Year's Resolution people clogging up the gym this January. Lately, my gym routine consists of Monday yoga, and nothing else the rest of the week. Not exactly good use of that monthly membership. And while I've loved all of the food I've made for the blog and for the holidays, some of the desserts, alcohol, and butter have definitely caught up with me.

Fortunately, I have a couple of warm-weather trips coming up in March that will help motivate me. My annual Spring Training trip in Phoenix with my San Diego girlfriends and a bachelorette party in Miami for my friend Kim. (Nothing like being forced into good shape by fear of what you'll look like in a bathing suit).

But I digress. Eating healthy doesn't mean you have to sacrifice taste. Exhibit A: These Neufchâtel and Smoked Salmon Endive Boats. Each spear will only cost you 32 calories, 1 gram of carbs, and 2 grams of fat.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

N is for: Noodleless Butternut Squash Lasagna Cups

The idea for these butternut lasagna cups took sort of a long and winding path. I started out wanting to bring a Noodleless Lasagna to girls night. Normally when I make a low-carb lasagna, I make it using thinly sliced zucchini and/or eggplant as the "noodles."

But since neither are really in season locally right now, I decided to do butternut squash instead. Then I decided it needed a white sauce instead of a marinara sauce. Then I started seeing lasagna rolls all over Pinterest and thought it would be cute to roll the squash up with the filling inside. And THEN...I saw lasagna cups on Pinterest using wonton wrappers, so I decided I was going to make my own version using thin slices of butternut squash.

This is how my mind works. Very weird. Anyways, they turned out adorable and delicious. And I even took the time to enter everything into a calorie counter and found out each individual cup will only cost you 182 calories, 11 grams of carbs and 12 grams of fat. Not bad for a New Year's Resolution meal! (To cut down on the fat even more, you could omit the white sauce.) Plus, the portable little cups would be great to bring to work for lunch!

N is for: Night with the Girls {Part II}

OK...so I had to post a quick follow-up to my "Night with the Girls Rose Jello Shots" post. I got together with my original "San Francisco Bachelor" girls tonight...and as a surprise, they all brought something that started with "N" to go along with my blog.

How incredibly sweet. This is why I love my girlfriends. They understand my blog obsession and completely embrace it.

Anyways, just wanted to share photos of all the wonderful food we consumed tonight while drinking wine and watching The Bachelor (while also switching back to watch the end of the Fiesta Bowl). I apologize in advance for my low-quality iPhone photos.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

N is for: Night With the Girls {& Rose Jello Shots}

Rose jello shots for the most dramatic rose ceremony yet!
Everyone has their guilty pleasures.

Some of mine: Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream, processed cheese and The Bachelor/Bachelorette.

I know what you're thinking. The Bachelor? Really?

Like I said, it's a guilty pleasure. But even more than that, it's an excuse to get together with my girlfriends, drink wine, gossip and laugh. I remember when I first moved to San Diego. Monday nights became girls nights. We would rotate apartments, and everyone would bring food and wine (mostly wine).

That tradition continued when I moved to San Francisco. I didn't know a ton of people when I moved here, but I quickly bonded with the girls from work over vino while making fun of the drama queens. And later, when I moved to a new neighborhood, my friend Amy and I would switch off walking the five blocks to each other's place to continue the Monday night ritual.
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