Mushroom Goat Cheese Tart

I’m excited to share an original recipe! Well I’m sure a savory vegetable and chicken tart is not really that original, but I did create this without following any recipes and had fun in the kitchen! IMG_2202I went a little overboard at the grocery store when mushrooms were on sale and I needed to figure out what to do with 16 oz of white mushrooms… if you don’t like mushrooms, that’s totally okay- this recipe is versatile and you can put almost any of your favorite combination of toppings on a puff pastry sheet and you’ll get a delicious savory tart!  IMG_2199For this tart I used…

  • about 10 oz mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2-3 teaspoons of crumbled goat cheese (my fridge is constantly stocked with Trader Joe’s)
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
  • 1/2 yellow bell pepper, cut into thin strips
  • 1 cup of diced grilled chicken breast
  • 1 sheet of frozen puff pastry, prepare as directed on package
  • 1 egg, beaten (for egg wash)

Tools you will need:

  • pastry brush
  • measuring cup
  • measuring spoons
  • small pan
  • fork
  • cookie sheet
  • parchment paper or a silicone mat

IMG_2180Pre-heat your oven to 400ºF.

Start by lightly cooking the chopped mushrooms in a pan with a little bit of olive oil at medium heat. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook until mushrooms are soft, about 3-4 minutes.

Remove from heat and let it cool while you prep the pastry sheet. IMG_2182Gently roll out the thawed pastry sheet on a cookie sheet lined with a silicone mat or parchment paper.

Fold in each side about 1/2 inch in to give it a border. If you want to get fancy, you can press the tines into the edges to create a pattern. Totally optional! IMG_2184This next part is not optional, but really important for the puff pastry to not puff up in the middle. Take the fork and poke holes evenly through the center. IMG_2187Now take the cooked mushrooms and spread it evenly on the pastry sheet. IMG_2188For the next part, if you have ever built your own pizza this is not that different. Pile on other toppings in whatever pattern you want to create.

I laid down strips of bell pepper in alternating colors over the mushrooms and sprinkled spoons of crumbled goat cheese and spread the grill chicken pieces over the whole thing.IMG_2191For the final touch, dip a pastry brush into the egg and cover the edges with a light egg wash. IMG_2192IMG_2194The puff pastry box said to bake this for 20-22 minutes, but I needed to bake it for a total of 30 minutes until the edges looked golden brown and the goat cheese had a slightly toasted tinge to ensure that the whole tart was fully baked. IMG_2200Let the tart cool for about 10 minutes and cut with a knife or a pizza cutter. Serve warm with a nice side salad. IMG_2203The puff pastry was flaky and crispy along the edges and the creamy goat cheese balanced out the sweet bell peppers and the umami of the mushrooms. As a meal entree, the chicken definitely helped give it some more fullness.

I always have a pastry sheets stored in the freeze just in case I want to whip up another tart!

Healthier Creamy Wild Rice Chicken Soup

IMG_2140 Has anyone ever made a whole recipe just because of one ingredient? I do that all the time, even when it seems impractical or counterproductive. I made this delicious, creamy hearty wild rice and chicken soup for two reasons:

  1. it’s freaking delicious
  2. because I had a container of sour cream

Seems silly just for sour cream, but I had all the other ingredients and a lot of free time. I loosely followed this Cream of Turkey & Wild Rice Soup from Eating WellIMG_2130Step 1. First things first, let’s cook the wild rice. This will take almost 40 minutes, so best to let it cook while we put everything else together. Prepare the rice as the package instructs. You will need about 1 – 1 1/2 cup cooked wild rice. I never realized how expensive wild rice was until I bought it for the first time I made this recipe. The bag I bought was about $12. Yikes! Definitely a grocery splurge. But so worth it if you consider that wild rice tastes great and has a nutty flavor but fills you up with lots of fiber and essential minerals like zinc and folate.

Step 2. You will need:

  • a small pot
  • measuring cup
  • measuring spoon
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 2 cups of sliced mushrooms
  • 3/4 cup chopped celery
  • 3/4 cup chopped carrots (I had to make due with baby carrots and extra shredded carrots)

IMG_2131Heat up the olive oil over medium heat in the pot. Add in all the vegetables and cook until softened, for about 5 minutes. IMG_2132Step 2. You will need:

  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • salt
  • pepper

Add in the flour and coat the cooked vegetables until browned. Sprinkle salt and pepper in for flavor. Cook everything for about 2 minutes. IMG_2133Step 3. Add in:

  • 32 oz of reduced sodium chicken broth (4 cups)

Bring the broth to boil and lower the heat to simmer. IMG_2134Step 4. Add in:

  • 3 cups of shredded chicken (or turkey if you’d like)
  • 1/2 cup reduced-fat or fat-free sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley or dried parsley

Add in the chicken and stir. IMG_2136Step 5. Add in the sour cream and parsley and stir until all ingredients are combined.       Once the soup is heated through, lower the heat enough to just keep the pot warm. Your wild rice should be done soon. Once the rice is ready, add 1 to 1 1/2 cups to the soup and mix well. IMG_2139

IMG_2141Just in time for a rainy day (on the third day of summer, of course, Seattle!)…that’s okay, I got my Netflix and a bowl of this yummy warm soup!

Ham & Egg “Muffins”

While everyone is posting sweet holiday treats: cookies, cakes, pies, and bars…I’m marching to the beat of my own drum by posting a healthy breakfast recipe! Maybe I just can’t wait for the new year and start new goals.

These little muffins are paleo-friendly, gluten-free, protein-packed, easy-to-make, annnnnddddd….delicious!

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I saw these on Pintrest the other day and decided to make them. It only requires 3 ingredients that are among my kitchen staples: sandwich meat, eggs, and black pepper- I had no excuses.

What you will need (makes 6):

  • regular 12-cup muffin pan
  • something to grease the pan with: butter, olive oil, coconut oil, etc.
  • 6 eggs
  • 12-18 slices of deli meat
  • black pepper or other spices/seasonings

22759082090_bd8ab47590_kI had this giant family-size package of deli meat that was a combo of ham and turkey, so I made the “cups” with both kinds. I experimented with how many slices I would need. To keep the egg from spilling over the pan, you’ll need at least two slices, but an extra slice will help!

Pre-heat the oven for 350°F.

Grease 6 of the muffin pan molds lightly with oil or butter. Fit each cup with the deli meat. 22921099486_215f26cfcf_kCrack 1 egg gently into each cup and it should fit perfectly.

Sprinkle the egg with your choice of spices/ seasoning. Go crazy, add whatever spices your tastebuds like: sea salt, basil, parsley, black pepper.  For some pep in your step in the morning add paprika or red chili pepper flakes. 22947088345_a4fbaabece_k

Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes until the whites are solid and the yolk is soft. Opps! I did burn the ham a little the first time! 22759072750_57cd3a7511_kThese delicious “muffins” are great to heat up the next day for a quick, filling breakfast out the door. The protein will help keep you satiated until lunch!

This is just your base recipe – from here add your own flair, here’s some ideas to get you started:

  • scramble the egg
  • add chopped mushrooms
  • add a little bit of cheese
  • add…..BACON! or turkey bacon to keep it somewhat healthy
  • add chopped bell peppers
  • add spinach
  • add onion
  • add asparagus

What would you add? Comment below!

 

 

Oven-Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

 

Happy November readers! Here in Seattle, we are definitely feeling that autumn chill, pulling out those heavy coats, chugging hot toddies, and bouncing off the walls from leftover Halloween candy. I don’t usually get to do much for Halloween, not that I don’t like the holiday, I just usually am too lazy/busy to join in the festivities. But this year, I had some classmates who have never carved pumpkins before so we had ourselves a little carving party.

This was a great chance to keep the seeds and roast some healthy snacks! Man, have you guys ever hollowed out a pumpkin before? It’s a lot of (messy) work!  22933674832_84259c2dd1_o

The last time I got to carve a pumpkin was probably when I was like 9! That was also the last time my dad kept the seeds and roasted them. My boyfriend and I decided to carve something cute and easy: we looked up a lot of ideas on the net and settled on characters from Totoro– a very famous childhood anime movie. This is mini totoro and the soot gremlin. Aren’t they cute!

Okay – back to the cooking! Pumpkin seeds are also known as “pepitas”. They are super healthy, loaded with fiber, protein, iron and magnesium. I love tossing a handful of shelled seeds into salads, oatmeal, or quinoa. Course, they are also awesome as snacks. There’s lots of recipes online on how to roast these but I just found this one from Popsugar that has foolproof steps.

You’ll need:

  • the seeds (It’s okay if you have the stringy, gooey pumpkin insides stuck on them)
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • black pepper or whatever spices you like
  • a big bowl
  • a paper towel/towel
  • a cookie sheet
  • foil

Start off by filling up the bowl with cold water and soaking the seeds for about 15 mins. This will get most of the membrane off like magic! Drain and spread them out on a towel or paper towel until they are completely dry. I actually left mine out overnight, but maybe 4 hours is enough. Blotting with a paper towel may help too.
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When you are ready to make the seeds: preheat your oven at 350ºF and cover a cookie sheet with foil.

Toss the dried seeds with a tablespoon of olive oil or enough so that each one is lightly coated. Sprinkle salt and spices in so that they are evenly covered. I used Trader Joe’s “Everyday Seasoning” that just has tons of stuff in it from black pepper to garlic to paprika!

In about 15 minutes you get crispy, golden pumpkin seeds!  22759072040_bac8de6861_o

Let them cool and them store in an airtight container.22933656162_99695a74d6_o

Snack on and snack happy everyone!

Easy Creamy Spinach Dip

Summer means BBQs, pool parties, and picnics – and this is one of my go-to recipes for something fast and easy to make but also a crowd pleaser. This creamy spinach dip is great if you don’t want to show up empty- handed but want to bring more than chips and a jar of salsa.
20356543796_e5cb85f384_oThe first time I had this was 10 years (!) ago when my one of my roommates made it, I thought it was magical…she said it’s Knorr. I’ve been making it for BBQs every since. It uses simple ingredients that you can find in most major supermarkets, even the water chestnuts (Hint: they usually hide in the “Asian” or “Ethnic” food aisle.) 

20194822858_d971bd28e3_oThe best part is your shopping list is at the store, pick up a packet of Knorr vegetable recipe mix (there’s other brands of veggie mix out there but I just have not tried it.) and get started. 

  • 1 package of 10 oz. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 1 16oz container of sour cream (use Lite if you’d like)
  • 1 cup mayonnaise (again use a lite or “olive oil” version if you want)
  • 1 packet of Knorr vegetable mix
  • 1 80z can of water chestnuts, drained and chopped (optional)
  • 3 green onions (optional)

20194816858_fa0a4fc41e_oOkay, it’s not very pretty or appealing when you are making it and in such large quantities, if you are freaked out by how much mayo goes into this like I was, breathe….it’s worth it in the end! Super easy steps: prep all your ingredients, dump it all in a large mixing bowl and mix well. Cover with saran wrap and place in the refrigerator to chill. Very important to give it the full 2 hours (or more) to chill and to really let the vegetable mix “meld” with the other ingredients.

A few tips:

  • make sure the spinach is “chopped” – you don’t want stringy leaves of spinach hanging from people’s mouths. Awkward.
  • use clean hands to squeeze out the water from the thawed spinach- it’s the best way to get all the water out and I’d usually squeeze in small fistfuls and at least twice
  • unless you or someone really loathes water chestnuts- I highly recommend adding them in. They really add texture to the dip and a great crisp crunch that balances out the creaminess.
  • This goes great with any sort of veggies (cucumbers, carrot sticks, bell pepper slices, celery) or crackers but my absolute favorite pairing is French baguette slices! I usually pick up two fresh baguettes from the store bakery section and ask them to slice them up for me.
  • Serve in a hollowed out bread bowl for extra fancy presentation! 20382795205_81dee26520_o

Hope you all are having a wonderful summer (with good people and good food)!

Spam Musubi

Yup that’s right…SPAM. Mystery meat in a can.

Before you make a face and turn up your nose, if you’ve never tried spam musubi- you need to try this! Spam musubi is the ultimate Hawaiian snack- it’s delicious, filling, cheap, and easy to make. 2015-04-18 22.25.15In this post, I will actually be showing you two assembling methods- using a musubi mold OR if you don’t have one-do not despair-you can use the original Spam can!

I actually did not follow a single recipe, but just to make sure I did not go in blind I reviewed Momfuku’s Spam Musubi recipe and Eating Richly’s recipe – both give you the basics and also shows you how Spam musubi can vary! There’s tons of recipes out there you can follow.

Pre-recipe step: make the rice! I used premium grade sushi rice. Sushi rice is moist, sticky, and slightly sweet and can be bought at most large chain grocery stores. But if you don’t have sushi rice, not a big deal, you can use regular rice too. I’ve actually used brown rice (for a “healthy” version) and it was fine, except it’s not as sticky, so the rice may fall out.

Prepare 2 cups of cooked rice according the instructions on the bag.

2015-04-18 22.32.32This recipe makes 8 servings.

You will need:

  • 1 can of spam (they have turkey, low sodium, teriyaki, etc.)
  • 2 cups of sushi rice
  • 4 large sheets of nori, cut in half (sushi seaweed you can get at Japanese/Asian grocery stores)
  • sweet soy sauce (optional)
  • a musubi mold OR save the spam can!!
  • saran wrap
  • small bowl of water

Slide the spam out of the can, cut in half and then cut those halves evenly, and cut them in half again. You should have 8 even slices. Spam from the can is not very pretty to look at, but I promise it will look more appetizing later.
2015-04-18 22.27.20Heat up a wide non-stick pan at medium heat. DO NOT put oil in the pan- it’s not necessary since there is fat in the spam. Place the spam slices in and cook on each side until it’s caramelized and a little crispy. If you want extra flavor, you can add some sweet soy sauce on the top before flipping it over. Wait until the sauce is bubbly and has thickened. 

2015-04-18 22.30.12Now we are ready to assemble! Here is my assembly station already to go (except for the wine!).  

2015-04-18 22.41.50First I’ll show you guys how to make the musubi with just the can! Wash the grease from the can and line it with saran wrap. Fill about 1/4 of the can with sushi rice. Pack it in with a spoon, make sure the rice is super-squished in. 

2015-04-18 22.43.16Lay a spam slice on top of the rice layer and fill up the rest of the space with more rice. Wrap up the saran wrap and gently pull it all out. Take the “naked” musubi and place it on top of half sheet of nori (shiny side down) and roll it up! 

2015-04-18 22.43.41While I think the can mold is a brilliant way to do it if you cannot get your hands on a mold. I really do recommend getting one though. You can get it online and I bought this one from the local Japanese grocery store for $3 and it was the best $3 spent!! Made a huge difference in neatness and speed of making them.  

2015-05-17 22.44.23With a mold, you want to set it on top of the nori sheet, slight off center. Again fill it will a little bit of rice. Use the little handle to press the rice layer down flat. 

2015-05-17 22.53.58Place a slice of spam on top, press it down with the mold so it “melds” to the rice better. 

2015-05-17 22.54.26Rice layer #2 and press again. Pushing down on the handle, lift the mold up….

2015-05-17 22.55.32It’s it perfect? Now tightly wrap the nori around it. Dip your finger in a small bowl of water and spread it across the edge of the nori to help it stick and seal close.  2015-05-17 22.55.51As much as I hate waiting to devour these, I’d advise to leave them for about 15 minutes so the nori soaks some moisture from the rice and spam and softens or else your nori will be crunchy and may rip and fall apart when you bite into it.

2015-05-17 23.01.03I like to wrap the musubis in saran wrap so the rice does not dry out and it makes  a really awesome grab-n-go lunch/snack! The musubis should be eaten within a day or two. You should fridge them after a day since it is meat,  but know that if you do -the rice can harden. You can microwave them too- they are really best when warm.

2015-04-18 23.14.56

On nom nom nom. Hope you like it!
2015-05-17 23.13.54

Basic Zucchini Pancake

My mom calls this an “Italian Pancake” – I have no idea what makes it Italian (Google ‘Italian pancake’ and this does not come up)! But with this super easy, über-basic recipe you can definitely give it whatever cultural spin you want. This savory pancake is similar to vegetable fritters (less crispy and oily) or Korean zucchini pancakes called Hobak Buchim. When my mom made this years ago, I was blown away and asked her for the recipe. As a true home cook, she never used precise measurements but attempted to give me some guidance:

You’ll need:

  • 1 zucchini
  • 2 eggs
  • chopped deli ham (optionally of course)
  • 1 cup of all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup of water (or broth for extra flavor!)
  • a large shallow pan
  • large spoon or small soup ladle
  • spatula
  • 2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil

Makes about 2-3 pancakes about 6″ in diameter

Start off by washing, peeling and grating the zucchini with a medium cheese grater- you don’t want it to be too fine or else it starts getting mushy.

Combine the flour, eggs, broth or water in a large bowl then add your vegetable or meat ingredients last. Make sure it is well mixed and the zucchini is coated with the batter.

2014-03-31 18.50.18Heat the pan to medium and add the oil, wait until the pan is nice and warm-hot and drop about 3/4 cup of the mixture into the pan and cook like you would a breakfast pancake.

2014-03-31 18.32.26When you start seen bits of golden brown (after about 5-6 minutes) you can flip the pancake over and cook for about another 5-6 minutes.

2014-03-31 18.36.19These pancakes are delicious and best served piping hot. You can eat it by itself or get creative and eat it like a crepe! Below I made zucchini pancakes and added ham afterwards for a quick lunch!

2014-03-31 18.54.58You can go crazy with the recipe and substitute or add other vegetables or experiment with different types of squash. I would, however, avoid vegetables that have a high water content, cheese, or extra sauces so the pancake does not get soggy. Some ideas for additions:

  • bell peppers
  • jalapeños (for a KICK!)
  • mushrooms
  • fresh herbs
  • thinly sliced onions
  • sun-dried tomato slices
  • artichoke
  • julienned carrots
  • spinach
  • hashbrowns (!!)

Note: if you do decide to add much more ingredients then you may need to adjust the batter to make sure its well proportioned.

2014-03-31 18.51.06Thanks ma!