Slow Cooker Chili

Main Dishes | October 19, 2015 | By

Slow Cooker ChiliI’ve been on a little chili kick recently. It all started when I got really sick a few weeks ago. I was on a whirlwind tour of the United States — I started with a weekend in Chicago with friends, followed by less than 12 hours to recoup in LA and closed with a week in Boston for work. While I absolutely love traveling, this proved  to be too much for my body. I spent most of Boston sniffling, coughing and sneezing all to my poor co-worker’s dismay. I’ll spare you the gritty details, but needless to say, I was quite a mess. When I finally returned to my apartment and cats, I knew something warm and hearty was exactly what I needed  to kick the cold. Enter the most simple chili ever.

This was my inspiration for this recipe: I opened the fridge and search for anything that sounded remotely good to add to my chili. By some sort of luck, it ended up being pretty tasty — don’t you love when that happens! Once I was off cold medication, I tweaked the recipe a little further to help with cooking time.

I hope you enjoy!

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Simple Kale Avocado Salad

Main Dishes | May 4, 2015 | By

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Guess what everyone? It’s officially T-3 weeks until bikini season!! (For me anyway…). Cathy and I leave for Thailand right after Memorial Day Weekend, so it’s crunch time for getting that summer bod ready. And believe me, it’s been tough. NYC is FINALLY beautiful out which means everyone wants to get rooftop drinks…all the time! That’s sure not helping anything. I’m really trying to be good before I leave on my 2+ month summer world tour, just so that I don’t feel guilty about eating all of the pad thai, baguettes + fromage, and kebabs I want on my travels through Southeast Asia and Europe! The good news is that I’ve been testing out a bunch of easy, healthy recipes to keep me fueled throughout the day.

This is one of my new favorite go-to lunches. It’s extremely nutritious, surprisingly filling, and vegan-friendly. It’s also a very quick meal to prepare, and I have portioned out the ingredients to be perfect for a single-serving salad. The dressing takes inspiration from my time studying abroad in France, where my good friend adopted the recipe from her “host mom” who pretty much used it on everything. (One interesting tidbit: I became obsessed with French dijon mustard while in France, and the only brand I’ve found to be close to what they served in France is the Trader Joe’s brand! So clearly that’s what I used for this dressing).

I hope you enjoy this French-inspired healthy salad, and good luck to everyone trying to shed that winter layer!

Bon Appétit!

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Simple Kale Avocado Salad

1 Cup chopped Kale

1 Cup shaved brussels sprouts

1/4 Cup Toasted Almond Slices

1/2 Avocado, sliced

5-7 Baby Carrots, chopped

Dressing:

1/2 Tbsp olive oil

1 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar

1 Tbsp Dijon Mustard

Pinch of Salt

Pepper

Directions:

Assemble all of the salad ingredients onto a plate. In a separate bowl, whisk together all of the dressing ingredients. Drizzle the dressing onto the salad to your liking.

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Spinach and Feta Bread Pudding

Main Dishes | March 3, 2015 | By

imageOne thing I like to do when I have down time at work (which is not often nowadays) is search for quick and easy recipes. Titles like ” 7 Fifteen Minute Breakfasts You Must Try,” “One-Pot Meals Sure to Make Your Mouth Water,” or “5 Minute Dessert Hacks Better Than the Originals” are almost guarenteed a click from my mouse. I currently have probably 15 to 20 recipes bookmarked that I promised myself I would try. This is one of them: spinach and feta bread pudding.
I think I originally found this recipe under a title like “10 Easy Dinners Under 30 Minutes.” And though this recipe definitely takes more than 30 minutes if you count for the refrigeration time, I’ll forgive Food and Wine this once.
I love bread pudding if only for the fact that it’s so versatile. Not only can you make it with various types of bread — in fact last year I made a pretty tasty banana bread pudding for my boss’s birthday — you can add various mix-ins. And even though I love to experiment with dessert bread pudding, I never thought about making a savory bread pudding. So when Hailey came to visit a few weeks ago, I was super excited to try this savory dish.
The star of this dish is the feta so remember to use liberally. When mixed in the bread pudding, feta melts into a nice creamy, yet tangy, glue for the bread and spinach. When sprinkled on top, the feta browns and adds a slightly crunchy texture. This dish could really be called feta with bread and greens, and get along just fine.
I hope you enjoy this dish as much as I did.

Cheers!

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Spinach and Feta Bread Pudding (lightly adapted from Food and Wine)

3 Tbsp. of Olive Oil

8 Ounces of Bread (approximately 1/2 loaf)

5 Ounces of Spinach (approximately 2/3 of a cup)

1/2 Cup of Crumbled Feta Cheese

2 Tsp. of Dijon Mustard

1/2 Tsp. of Lemon Zest

1 Tbsp. of Lemon Juice

6 Eggs, beaten

2 Cups of Whole Milk

Salt and Pepper to taste.

Directions

Cut bread into cubes and spread over a lightly oiled baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10-15 minutes, or until dry. Let cool completely and then mix with the spinach and half the feta cheese. Set aside.

In another bowl, mix 2 tablespoons of olive oil with mustard, lemon zest and lemon juice. Add one egg at a time and beat until blended. Mix in the milk, salt and pepper. Pour the milk and egg mixture over the bread and spinach mixture, making sure to evenly soak the bread cubes. Transfer to a baking dish and refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours. (I refrigerated over night, but a couple hours should suffice). After you let the mixture sit, sprinkle the left over feta on top and bake for about 45 minutes, of until the bread pudding mixture starts to solidify. Bake for 5-10 more minutes afterwards, or until the feta crumbles start to brown.

Makes approximately 4-6 servings.

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Slow Cooker French Onion Soup

Main Dishes, Uncategorized | January 29, 2015 | By

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Though it’s not a surprise to anyone who knows me, I work a lot. No really; it’s not uncommon for me to work 10 or 12 hours a day, begrudgingly followed by a 45 minute run at the gym and topped off with some quality cuddle time with the kitties while I binge watch Friends on Netflix. And, though I love my job, it doesn’t leave me with much time to cook on the weeknights.

That’s where my trusty slow cooker comes into play.

Though I’ve only had this slow cooker for about a month (my brother gifted it to me for Christmas), it’s quickly become one of my favorite kitchen tools. It makes cooking so darn easy! Before work, all I do is quickly throw together some veggies, a protein and broth, turn the setting on low, and voila, 7-8 hours later I have a meal. And, to make it even better, my mom bought me a recipe book with over 400 recipes dedicated to slow cooking. My friends, I will never go hungry.

Side note: what’s your favorite slow cooker recipe? Though I have a book with 400 of them, I’m always looking for more. 😉

This French onion soup recipe is perfect for those cold, grey winter days when you want something warm to fill your belly … though we rarely have that weather in Southern California. Just remember, the croutes make the soup so don’t skimp on some good cheese and artisan bread! Otherwise, you’ll be left with only onions and broth.

Cheers!

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Slow Cooker French Onion Soup (adapted slightly from Best-Ever Slow Cooking)

3 Tbsp of Butter

1 Tsp of Olive Oil

2 1/2 Lbs of Onions (approximately 4), peeled and sliced

1 Tsp of Sugar

1 Tbsp of Flour

1 Tbsp of White Wine Vinegar

2 Tbsp of Brandy

1/2 Cup of Unoaked Chardonnay (though any dry white wine will suffice)

4 Cups of Chicken Stock

2 Tsp of Fresh Thyme, plus more for garnish

Salt and Pepper

Croutes

4 Slices of Artisan bread

1 Garlic Clove

Dijon Mustard

Gruyere Cheese

Directions:

Turn on slow cooker and add the butter and olive oil until butter completely melts (approximately 15 minutes). Add the onions to the slow cooker and toss slightly to ensure all the onions are covered in the butter mixture. Cover with the lid and a dish towel (to prevent escaping heat) and cook on high for at least two hours, stirring occasionally to ensure that the onions remain fully coated by the butter mixture.

Add sugar and stir until fully incorporated. Cover again with the lid and the dish towel and cook for four more hours, stirring occasionally. The onions should appear to be a deep golden brown at the end of the four hours.

Add the flour to the onions and stir. Next add the white wine vinegar and sherry slowly into the onion mixture. Add the rest of the ingredients (wine, chicken stock, thyme, and salt and pepper to taste), mix and cook on high for another 2 hours.

For the croutes, I used a small loaf of artisan bread I bought at Trader Joe’s. Cut the garlic in half and spread across the surface of each piece of bread. Spread with mustard and top with a generous slice of Gruyere cheese. Then, place under the broiler on high for 2-3 minutes or until the cheese starts to bubble and the bread starts to brown.

Pour the onion soup into bowls and top with the croutes. Serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings.

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Scallops with Bacon Spinach and Asparagus

Main Dishes | October 7, 2014 | By

Scallop 1Last Thursday my friend and I had a fantastic “date night” cooking dinner, watching the food network and drinking wine. My friend has lived in NYC for a couple years, and is unfortunately as much of a foodie as me, so we’ve been feasting together way too much. We decided to cook something light…but nothing is ever too light with us. We started out thinking fresh seafood and roasted vegetables. He lives right next to Chelsea Market, which is extremely convenient as The Lobster Place has some of the freshest seafood in the city, albeit pricey. We decided on some fresh scallops. But can you really have scallops without bacon?? I think not…at least not with us.

Bacon it is. We fried up a few slices to the perfect crispiness (yes, perfect bacon skills Mike- I’m not great with meats), and tossed it with some onions, garlic and spinach to serve as a bed for our scallops. To even out the meal I threw some asparagus in the oven tossed with olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper. It ended up being a pretty filling meal, but at least it was carb-free, right? And delicious.

I proved myself wrong that occasionally I do have time and the willpower to cook a full meal in NYC…as long as I have a cooking buddy.

Bon Appétit!

Scallop

Scallops with Bacon Spinach and Asparagus for two

3 Slices Bacon

8 Medium-sized Scallops

3-4 Handfuls Spinach

1/2 Onion, chopped

4 Cloves Garlic, chopped

2 Tbsp Lemon Juice, separated

Salt & Pepper

1 Bunch Asparagus

1 Tbsp Olive Oil

Directions:

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Toss the asparagus with 1 Tbsp olive oil, 1 Tbsp lemon, 1/2 of the chopped garlic and salt & pepper. Place the asparagus evenly on a tray. Once the oven is heated, place the asparagus in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until done.

While the asparagus is in the oven, cook the bacon on a stove top fully and set aside on a paper towel. Leave about 1 Tbsp of the bacon grease in the pan, and discard the rest. Salt and pepper the scallops, and sear them on high heat, about 2- 2 1/2 minutes on each side. Set the scallops aside, preferably covered in tin foil to keep warm. Sautée the onions and garlic together for several minutes on medium heat. Add the spinach, and continue to stir until done. Crumble the bacon into the mixture and turn off the heat. By this time the asparagus should also be ready. Lay a bed of the spinach on a plate and place the scallops on top. Side the plate with asparagus.

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