Monday, April 30, 2012

Keftedes with Yogurt Sauce

While visiting my sister and brother-in-law in Ohio, we dined at a local Mediterranean restaurant where I was first introduced to Kefta (Moroccan Meatballs). They were so delicious and I was determined to make them at home!

As a nod to my Uncle Alex and Thea Willie I decided to make Keftedes (Greek Meatballs) instead. I definitely enjoyed a delicious for one tonight, can't wait to make them for the husband when he gets home. These would also be great in a Greek pasta or as an appetizer for a party!

 Keftedes (16 Meatballs)
Time: 25min Prep/ 30min-1hr chill/ 8min Cook

- 1lb Ground Lamb
- 1/4c Bread Crumbs (Add more if desired)
- 1/2 Red Onion, Chopped (Add more if desired)
- 1 Egg
- 1/2-1tbsp Red Wine Vinegar
- 1/4tsp Garlic Powder
- 1/4tsp Onion Powder
- 1/2tsp Oregano
- 1/2tsp Basil
- 1/2tsp Coriander
- 1/4tsp Marjoram
- 1/8tsp Allspice
- 1/4c Fresh Parsley
- 1/2tsp Salt

  1. Mix together the spices and add it to your ground lamb.
  2. Add your bread crumbs, onion, and egg to the mixture and use your hands to mix well.
  3. Place the mixture in the fridge and let it sit for about 30min-1hr (longer if you have time).
  4. These will make about 16 small/medium sized meatballs. Place them under the broiler on a foil lined baking sheet and bake 4min on each side! Enjoy with the yogurt sauce.
Cucumber Yogurt Sauce:
- 1 1/4c Greek Yogurt
- 1c English Cucumber, Chopped
- 1tsp Lemon Juice
- 1 Garlic Clove
- Fresh Dill (Optional)

  1.  Sprinkle salt on your chopped cucumber and let it sit for about 20-30mins to allow liquid to be released.
  2. Pat the cucumber dry and place into blender/processor with the garlic clove and yogurt.
  3. Blend until ingredients are combined!
  4. This is not as thick as a tzatziki sauce it's a little more liquified. Feel free to play with the ratio of cucumber to yogurt to adjust thickness.
Nom, Nom!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Mango Pavlova

I mentioned to a friend that I've never tried Pavlova and lucky for me, she was delighted to make me one! It was fresh, light, and divine! I will definitely be making more Pavlova in the future. Thanks to Erika for sharing this great guest feature with us. She's in the process of creating her own blog so I'll be sure to share that link with you guys.

Feel free to switch out the mango for your favorite fruit or something fresh and seasonal, have fun with it and be prepared to devour it all. :)  Thanks for stopping by! 

Meringue nest:
4 egg whites, at room temperature
1 cup caster sugar*
*(You can add your granulated sugar to a processor/magic bullet and grind until it's fine, not powder)
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar or cream of tartar
1/2 tsp ground ginger or fresh ginger grated into a paste consistency (optional)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or seeds of 2 vanilla beans(optional)
Preheat oven to 275 F.
Beat the egg whites until firm, then slowly add the sugar and beat until it makes firm, shiny peaks. Sift the cornstarch onto the beaten egg whites, add the vinegar, vanilla, and ginger, fold in lightly with a rubber spatula.
Place a sheet of parchment paper on a sheet pan. Draw a circle using a plate and flip the paper to avoid dirtying your meringue with ink/lead. Pile the meringue into the middle of the circle on the parchment paper and smooth it within the circle, making a disk for a sheet-cake resemblance. Or create a nest/bowl by creating a well in the middle and mound the meringue along the edges using a spoon or by piping layers until you have a nice deep bowl. 
Bake for 75-90min. Turn off the oven, keep the door closed, and allow the meringue to cool completely in the oven, another 75-90min. It will be crisp on the outside and soft on the inside.
Sweetened Whipped Cream and topping:
1 cup cold heavy cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or seeds of 2 vanilla beans
2-3 chopped ripe mango
1/2 cup finely chopped pistachios
Whip the cream in mixer fitted with a whisk attachment when it starts to thicken, add the sugar and vanilla. Continue to beat until firm, but careful not to over beat! Refrigerate until assembly just prior to serving.
Chop Mango. Refrigerate until assembly, just prior to serving.
Chop Pistachio and set aside until assembly.
Peach Apricot Sauce:
1/2 cup rough chopped apricots
1/4 cup rough chopped dried apricots
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp ground ginger  or fresh ginger grated into a paste consistency
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or seeds of 2 vanilla beans 
1 cup peach jam
1 tablespoon triple sec orange liqueur
Place the apricots, sugar, and 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 10 minutes. Pour the cooked apricots, the jam, and liqueur into a food processor and process until smooth. Chill. Refrigerate until assembly, just prior to serving.

Place whipped cream in the basin of meringue and top with fruit, drizzle sauce, and sprinkle with pistachio. Refrain from assembly if not serving immediately to avoid soggy meringue. 

Monday, April 23, 2012

Banana Date Smoothie

The Vitamix is one hell of a blender! I'm not going to lie, I was pretty happy that my old blender from college finally stopped working. I now had an excuse to get myself a Vitamix. Friends, make sure you buy it during one of their demos, I got it much cheaper at Costco! My first creation was a banana date yummy! It reminds me of a shake, indulgent and not horrible for you!

Banana Date Smoothie (Serves 1-2, about 16-17ounces)
Time: 7mins

- 1/3c Dates (Make sure your dates have been pitted!)
- 1 Banana, Sliced (Fresh or Frozen)
- 1c Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk
- 4-6 Ice Cubes
- 1/4-1/2tsp of Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
- 1/8-1/4tsp Cinnamon

  1. Add all of your ingredients into your blender/Vitamix and start the variable from 1 and increase speed to 10. 
  2. Blend until you achieve your desired consistency and voila, you have a fantastic date smoothie!
  3. Adjust the ingredients as needed, you can add some honey if you want to make it sweeter, but the dates provide plenty of sweetness in my opinion!
  4. Optional: Add protein powder, flax seeds, or anything else you like to typically include in your smoothies!
 ENJOY! :)

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Trader Joe's Cookie Butter

Movie aside nutella and chocolate peanut butter, there's a new star in the pantry! 

Cookie Butter is amazing, well not so much in a nutritional way, but in "good for your soul" way. The best way for me to describe this sinful goodness is Christmas in a little jar! It's similar to gingerbread /gingersnap cookies made into a delightful spread. You can use it as a dip for your fruit, in smoothies and shakes, with ice cream, on sandwiches and crackers...really, the possibilities are endless.  I can't wait to start playing around with this ingredient!

As the noted on the jar, you just have to try it to understand. So go out and get yourself some Cookie Butter from Trader Joe's! Your waistline might not thank me, but your taste buds will! It's all about moderation right? ;)

What is Speculoos?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Braised Red Wine Short Ribs with a Basil Cheddar Polenta

Yum, right?! Cooking for one should be good too! I've been meaning to make short ribs and polenta for months now and I finally got around to it a few weeks ago.

Red Wine Short Ribs and Polenta (Serves 4)
Time: 4hrs prep and cook

- 1/2 tsp Paprika
- 1 1/2 tsp Salt
- 1/4 tsp Thyme
- 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
- 1/2 tsp Pepper

- 1/2-1 Bell Pepper, Chopped
- 1/2-1 Onion, Chopped
- 3-4 Cloves of Garlic, Minced (Optional)
- Flour for light coating
- Olive Oil
- 2 c Red Wine
- 2 c Chicken Broth
- 2 tbsp Honey
- 4 Short Ribs ( I used 3 for myself)
  1. Add your rub to your ribs and let them marinate in the fridge for 30min-1hr.
  2. Once ribs are ready, heat a pot to medium. Lightly coat your ribs in flour, add oil to your pot and cook ribs until browned on each side. Set aside on plate when finished.
  3. Add more oil to the pan if necessary and cook your onion and bell pepper for about 5mins.
  4. Add your wine, broth, and honey to the pot. Place your ribs in the pot and once it boils, reduce heat to medium or medium low for about 3 hours. You can put the ribs in a 300 degree oven for 3-4 hours as well. Remember with ribs, the longer they cook, the more tender they become!

- 1 c Polenta
- 2 c Chicken Broth (add additional water, milk, or cream to get desired consistency)
* If you don't have chicken broth use water. You will just need to season it more.
- 1-1 1/2c Shredded Garlic Cheddar (Use whatever cheese you want)
- 6-7 Basil Leaves
  1. Bring liquid to boil, reduce heat and add polenta. Once it begins to thicken, add your cheese and basil. Take off heat and set aside.
- 2c Spinach (more if desired)
- 1-2tbsp Olive Oil
- Salt, Pepper, and Garlic to taste
  1. To a medium heated pan, add your olive oil (garlic if using fresh) and spinach. The spinach will begin to wilt, add seasonings to your liking and you're done!
Plate your polenta, ribs, and place some spinach on top and enjoy! I know it kind of looks like a lengthy meal for one, but it's not bad once you get it going...and you can enjoy a fabulous dinner when you're done.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Funfetti Cookies

I figured since I always make devils food cake cookies, why not funfetti cookies?! There are several recipes online to make homemade funfetti, but I planned for an easy, semi-homemade baking day for myself. I also learned that greek yogurt doesn't work as a substitute for oil in my devil's food cake cookies...sorry husband, the funfetti will just have to do!

There's just something about Funfetti that makes me happy! It's not a fancy cake, but my husband makes sure I get one on my birthday every year.

Funfetti Cookies
Time: 10min Prep and 10-11min Bake

- 1 Box Funfetti Cake Mix ( I use Pilsbury)
- 1 Egg, 2 Egg Whites
- 1/3c Coconut Oil (It may be a little less because I forgot to fully measure this)
- 1 tsp Vanilla

  1. Heat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix together your cake mix, eggs, oil, and vanilla. It should become a soft, dough like consistency.
  3. You can chill for a few minutes to make it easier to roll into balls, you don't have to wait but it'll be a little stickier to work with.
  4. Place in oven for 10-11mins and enjoy these suckers!
I think I'm allowed to eat a few since each cookie is smaller than a slice of cake...I like my reasoning. :) Happy Monday!

Mailing your cookies? Here's how I do it. After many years of sending care packages overseas, this method has lead to soft and unbroken cookies each time! Hope this helps if you're sending a package to another state or overseas!

1. Put your cookies together as the picture above shows, and wrap them in foil.

2. Add a layer of parchment paper or plastic wrap and place a piece of bread on top. It will keep the cookies moist for your loved one! A Glad tupperware will fit about 16-20 cookies.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Citrus Shrimp and Kale Salad

Kale salads are somewhat of a newer menu item in my house but now I absolutely LOVE them! Not only are there many health benefits to kale, but it's a versatile and hearty ingredient. For this salad, I used the techniques that I learned from Wendy Jo Peterson and got my flavor inspiration from a kale salad that my friend Michelle brought to a party.

Citrus Shrimp and Kale Salad ( Serves 2)
Time: 20mins

- 1 Lemon, Juiced
- 7-10 Kale Leaves, Chopped and stems removed
- Salt, As needed
- Mango, Diced
- 1tsp Apple Cider Vinegar
- 1tbsp (+extra as needed) Olive Oil
- 1/2tsp Honey (Optional for sweetness)
- 2tbsp sunflower seeds (I use the roasted and unsalted kind) 
- 4-6 Shrimp 
- 1/2 tsp Lemon, Lime, and Paprika Seasoning

  1. To prepare your kale, you want to hold it upside down and pull the leaves off of the stems. After you've done that, chop the leaves into fairly small pieces. 
  2. Place in a large bowl and add 1/2-3/4 of your lemon juice, sprinkle of salt, apple cider vinegar, olive oil, and honey. Now use your hands and massage the kale for about 2mins. You will see the color get richer and the kale will begin to wilt a little. 
  3. Add your mango and seeds and toss thoroughly.
  4. Add some olive oil and shrimp to a medium heated pan. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt, llp seasoning, and some of your leftover lemon juice. The shrimp should be fully cooked in about 4-5mins. Be sure not to overcook your shrimp as it will become tough and rubbery.
This salad made for a healthy and delicious lunch today! Since the kale is hearty, the salad will hold up until lunch time tomorrow. Hope you start to explore the goodness of kale and try this recipe. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Savory Pancake - One Bite Breakfast

A savory pancake caught our eye one evening as my husband and I were watching the Travel network. The pancake had sausage or bacon cooked into it and was topped off with maple syrup and an egg sunny side up...we definitely recreated this one bite breakfast the next morning!

This may sound unappetizing to some...but I promise it is GOOD STUFF!

One Bite Breakfast (Serves: It's up to you!)

- Prepared pancake batter ( Use a premixed or your favorite homemade recipe)
- 1 egg/per person
- 3-4 sausages/per person, chopped ( I used Applegate Organic Chicken Maple Sausage)
- Maple syrup
- Oil (Whichever you prefer)
  1. Heat up your precooked sausage, chop into pieces and set aside.
  2. Make your eggs, sunny side up or over easy to place on top of your pancake when finished.
  3. Create a slightly thicker batter for this pancake so it can hold the sausage and egg.
  4. Once your pan is heated to medium/medium low, add about 1/2-1tbsp of coconut oil and place your batter into the pan. (I use oil because that is how my dad, who used to own a diner, makes fantastic fluffy pancakes that have a slight crisp on the outside. They really are perfect...)
  5. Add your sausage onto the uncooked batter. When you notice it's time to flip, use a big spatula and flip your hearty pancake over to finish cooking. Add some oil down for this side as well. 
  6. Once it's ready, plate it with an egg on top and a light drizzle of maple syrup!
  7. Take a bite and indulge in this sweet and savory breakfast pancake in all of its glory! :)
I know this recipe is a little vague, but if you have questions on any of the steps just let me know!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

101 Foods to Eat Before you Die

I first heard about this list on facebook and finally searched a few food blogs for the actual list. Being the adventurous foodie that I am, I wanted to see how many things I've actually tried. (I added a 101 just because it's one of my favorite dishes and I feel that everyone should try this awesome Korean BBQ at least once!) So after I counted up everything that I've tried on the list, I counted 80! The bugs will never happen so I probably won't finish this list. How many have you tried?

1. Abalone
2. Absinthe
3. Alligator 
4. Baba Ghanoush
5. Bagel & Lox
6. Baklava
7. BBQ Ribs
8. Bellini
9. Birds Nest Soup
10. Biscuits & Gravy
11. Black Pudding
12. Black Truffle
13. Borscht
14. Calamari
15. Carp
16. Caviar
17. Cheese Fondue
18. Chicken and Waffles
19. Chicken Tikka Masala
20. Chile Relleno
21. Chitlins
22. Churros
23. Clam Chowder 
24. Cognac
25. Crab Cakes
26. Crickets (I can't even catch one...let alone eat one!)
27. Currywurst
28. Dandelion Wine
29. Dulce De Leche
30. Durian
31. Eel
32. Eggs Benedict
33. Fish Tacos
34. Foie Gras
35. Fresh Spring Rolls
36. Fried Catfish
37. Fried Green Tomatoes 
38. Fried Plantain
39. Frito Pie
40. Frogs' Legs
41. Fugu
42. Funnel Cake
43. Gazpacho
44. Goat
45. Goat's Milk( If goat cheese counts?)
46. Goulash
47. Gumbo
48. Haggis
49. Head Cheese
50. Heirloom Tomatoes
51. Honeycomb
52. Hostess Fruit Pie 
53. Huevos Rancheros
54. Jerk Chicken
55. Kangaroo
56. Key Lime Pie
57. Kobe Beef
58. Lassi
59. Lobster
60. Mimosa
61. Moon Pie
62. Morel Mushrooms
63. Nettle Tea
64. Octopus
65. Oxtail Soup 
66. Paella
67. Paneer
68. Pastrami on Rye
69. Pavlova
70. Phaal
71. Philly Cheese Steak
72. Pho
73. Pineapple & Cottage Cheese
74. Pistachio Ice Cream
75. Po' Boy
76. Pocky Sticks
77. Polenta
78. Prickly Pear
79. Rabbit Stew
80. Raw Oysters
81. Root Beer Float
82. S'mores
83. Sauerkraut
84. Sea Urchin
85. Shark
86. Snail
87. Snake
88. Soft Shell Crab
89. Som Tam
90. Spaetzle 
91. Spam
92. Squirrel
93. Steak Tartare
94. Sweet Potato Fries
95. Sweetbreads
96. Tom Yum
97. Umeboshi
98. Venison
99. Wasabi Peas
100. Zucchini Flowers
101. Korean Kalbi (Just because it's one of my favorites!) 

By the way, I really love handwritten to do lists. I enjoy crossing off my accomplishments, yes I could use my smartphone, but there's just something about that notepad that I can't let go! :)

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter Eats 2012

Granted I was far away from my family and flying solo this Easter (duty calls for the husband), I had the pleasure of spending it with my second family!

Round one was spent at The Meerkat Manor where we dined on a delicious spread of: ham, broccoli casserole, sausage cheese balls, deviled eggs, rolls, caprese salad, and homemade brew.

 Sausage Cheese Balls (O.M.G. GOOD!)

- 1lb Spicy Sausage (Casing Removed)
- 1lb Sharp Cheddar Cheese, Finely Grated *8z
- 3c biscuit mix * 2c
* Revision that my friend uses
  1. Cut sausage into small pieces, add cheese and biscuit mix.
  2. Put in mixer until it it is fully blended. 
  3. Roll into 1-inch balls, freeze on baking sheet. 
  4. Once frozen, bake for 25mins in a 350 degree oven. 
The sausage cheese balls can be kept in a freezer for a very long time if you decide to put some away for later! This would be an awesome breakfast with eggs and some fresh fruit!

Easter got even more fun when they had set up a Easter egg hunt for myself, Bre, and John! I don't know if I was just rusty at this hunting for eggs thing, but man did they do a good job hiding them. I was eventually rewarded with the perfect gift for a champagne is a stopper that will keep your champagne carbonated!

Round two was spent at my friend Lucy's house. The New Orleans natives made us a mean crawfish boil this afternoon.  It was my first crawfish experience, and it was awesome. The meal was spicy, simple, interactive, and overall just fun! I was so excited that I finally got to indulge in the yummy creole goodness, next time it'll be with my husband!

 I even sucked the heads of these babies, I figured if I was going to have the full experience I might as well go all the way! Click here to see how to eat crawfish.

I hope you all were able to spend the day with your friends and family too! Be sure to make those Sausage cheese balls and if you haven't had the pleasure of going to a crawfish boil, seek one out! Happy Easter!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Luna Maya, Norfolk

A last minute dinner request from a girlfriend lead us to Luna Maya in Norfolk. While this wasn't my first time, I knew the other two would greatly enjoy the food and vibe of this restaurant. It recently moved into a new larger location. It has a modern feel with the exposed bricks and simple furniture. I think it gets a little loud because of the large open space, but it's definitely a cool spot. The food is not the authentic Mexican cuisine one might expect, but it's unique and flavorful.

 I finally got around to snapping some pictures of their delicious food last night and hope they inspire you to create a Mexican/South American meal tonight or stop by if you happen to be driving through the area!

Appetizer: Salsa and Guacamole
The salsa is smokey and flavorful while the guacamole is light and fresh. The guac is little saltier than I would prefer, but I'm going to complain too much because I ate them all!

Drink: Mango Caipirinha
There were several different choices including: Passion Fruit, Fresh Blueberries, and several other varieties. You can taste the fresh muddled lime juice in this Brazilian rum drink and it's awesome.

Entree: Tamales Luna Maya
 I've ordered this entree several times. The tamale cakes, more like a sweet corn pudding vs. the traditional masa, are topped with an awesome heaping of braised beef. The beef definitely helps cut the sweetness of the corn cakes, but if you're not a big corn pudding fan this may not be the dish for you. I personally love the combination of the sweet corn and salty braised beef. Just don't expect your typical tamale when ordering this dish.

 I had seen a press review on their site that said it reminded them of Like Water for Chocolate, and realized it does the same thing for me too! 

I've also had the shrimp tacos (good and spicy) and my husband has tried several of their giant burritos, we've enjoyed it all!

My entire meal was around $27 so it's not exactly a cheap dinner out, but I enjoyed myself and came home with leftovers for lunch today.

Now go get yourself some good eats and enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Rosemary Coals

Check out Martha's post for rosemary coals, just in time for grilling weather! I don't know why I never thought about this, but what a great way to infuse flavor into your grilled meats and vegetables. I can't wait to try it!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Energizing Monkey

Here is ELBM's first guest post by a good friend of mine, Mari. She has been experimenting with different smoothies for her new Vitamix blender and this one was too good not to share! Thanks for letting me share with our blog friends. Hope you guys love it!

Energizing Monkey -- Ooh Ooh Ahh Chia!

It has only been about two weeks since my recent purchase and new kitchen addition…my VITAMIX!!! In this short amount of time I have become obsessed with making smoothies and other yummy creations. Today's concoction was inspired after viewing the "Hungry for Change" documentary with my family. So I decided that after school, my daughter and nephew would help me decide on a healthy smoothie to create. They chose what ingredients to use in addition to the *chia seeds I bought earlier from the Virginia Garden store at the local Farmer's Market. The kids named our concocted smoothie the Energizing Monkey…silly kids!

Energizing Monkey (2 Servings)
Time: 5 minutes 


- 1 c organic skim milk (or almond/coconut)
- 1 banana, frozen cut in half
- 2 tbsp organic chocolate hemp protein
- 1 tbsp organic chia seeds (or flax seeds)
- 1 packet Stevia (optional)

  1. Add ingredients in order listed to the Vitamix or any blender.
  2. Turn on to Variable 1 and increase to 10 quickly. Turn to high for 30 seconds until blended.
  3. Pour in two glasses, serve and enjoy!

 You may recognize that beautiful head of hair from a previous post! Here's my sous chef enjoying an Energizing Monkey while doing her homework!

*Chia seeds are a superfood described as a complete protein source, containing essential fatty acids and are a soluble fiber. The soluble fiber in the chia seeds will create a gel like consistency therefore, if the smoothie is left for 30 minutes after being made it will become gooey…so drink up! The chia seeds and hemp protein powder can be found at a health food store or online for purchase. Chia seeds can be substituted by flax seeds, but chia seeds are easier to digest and do not need to be ground up.