Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Posh Improvisational Cuisine


I was so excited that Arizona Restaurant Week was going to kickoff while I was in town. After going back and forth on a few choices, I decided to take my parents to Posh in Scottsdale. Since I missed Mother's Day and will miss Father's Day, I figured it would be a great opportunity to celebrate and try somewhere new with them.

The deciding factor was the menu that Posh listed for restaurant week. It noted that you pick certain items and the chef brings you an improv dish. Sounds fun right? Upon further research, I learned that improvisational cuisine is concept behind Posh. You choose the items you don't want and any allergies/preferences you have and they bring you different tasting dishes. While I'm sure there's somewhat of a set menu in the back, it was fun because we all got to try something different.

Posh has a contemporary/modern feel without being too "cold." It's fairly small so it still feels intimate and they also have a bar seating area around the open kitchen, which I'm a big fan of. The service was fantastic and everyone was very friendly and knowledgeable. Our drinks never went low and plates were cleared as we finished. Overall we enjoyed the meal, but I must say that the best part of Posh is the dining experience. Hope you get a chance to visit as well!

I often hear people complain about being hungry after going to tastings/restaurant week meals, but they need realize it is a tasting and typically not meant to be large portions. So make sure you're not expecting a family style meal when going to a tasting.

If you enjoy tasting menus as much as I do, be sure to check out Binkely's in Arizona as well!







Chef Joshua Hebert - Chef/Owner Posh

Meal:
Amuse Bouche: Mango/Ricotta Spoons
First Course: Carrot Ginger soup with Smoked Peas and Creme Fraiche
- My mom had a glacier lettuce salad that was awesome! I've never tried it before, but the lettuce looks frosted and it's very crisp! Try it if you can find it near you.
Second Course: Tabouleh Stuffed Calamari with Star Anise/Saffron Sauce
Third Course: Lamb served with Israeli Cous Cous and a Moroccan Glaze
Amouse Bouche: House made Chocolate Popsicle
Fourth Course: Marshmallow Brulee with a Chocolate Pate (It was a fancy S'more and I totally enjoyed it!)

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Bars

So I've been seeing photos of these bars everywhere and decided take a stab at them myself! I recently made them for a girlfriend's party and they turned out great. I did notice that I liked them better cold, note that these should be stored in your fridge.


Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Bars (12 small bars)
Time: 50mins Bake and Prep/30min-1hr Chill

Ingredients:

Crust:
- 2c Ginger Snaps (or Graham Crackers), Finely Crushed
- 3-4tbsp Butter, Melted
Cheesecake:
- 8z Cream Cheese, Softened
- 1-2tbsp Cookie Butter (Speculoos Spread)
- 1 Egg
- 1tsp Vanilla
- 3tbsp Sugar
 Cookie: You can use store bought dough instead if you have it on hand, bake time may be different
- 1/2c Flour
- 1 1/2tsp Vanilla
- 1c Chocolate Chips (I used semisweet and milk)
- 3tbsp Granulated Sugar
- 1/4c Brown Sugar
- Pinch of Salt
- 5tbsp Butter

  1. Heat the oven to 325 degrees and line an 8x8 pan with parchment or foil. 
  2. Add the melted butter to the gingersnap crumbs. Once the crumbs become moist press it down onto the bottom of the pan using the back of a measuring spoon. Place in oven for about 8mins to let it set.
  3. Make your cookie layer by creaming together the butter and sugar. Gradually add your vanilla and your flour. When the dough has formed fold in your chocolate chips. finished set that aside and make the cheesecake filling. (The dough will be harder than your typical cookie dough)
  4. Take your softened cream cheese in a bowl or mixer and gradually add your sugar, cookie butter, egg, and vanilla. Cream until filling has come together. 
  5. Finally add your filling to the crust and place flattened pieces of cookie dough on top.
  6. Bake in the oven for 27-30mins. Let it cool for about 30mins and lift the foil out of the pan. Cut your bars and place in fridge for about 45min-1hr. I liked them better once they had some time to chill in the fridge! Enjoy!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Fruitive

Fruitive finally opened their doors at the Hilltop Shopping Center on May, 25th and I am happy to welcome a healthy juice bar to the area!

After a great hot yoga session, I decided to drive over and check out Fruitive. I was immediately welcomed with friendly faces, homemade dehydrated fruit, and a sample of their Peaches & Greens smoothie. I decided try a few more menu items and ordered a small vegetable wrap (spinach, black bean salad, mushrooms, onions, and cucumbers with a splash of white balsamic vinegar and olive oil) and The Nobelmen juice (10% of procceeds will go to the organization). Both were fresh and delicious.

I loved the atmosphere. It has the design of a local coffee shop where you could easily enjoy a book or finish up some work on your laptop. You can also see all of the fresh ingredients they use behind the bar which is nice, I'm a big fan of any open kitchen concept!

I had a chance to speak with two of the brothers that own Fruitive before I left, they were both very nice and you can tell that they are passionate about their craft. Meeting them gave me hope that they will continue to thrive and grow. I believe a business is most successful when the owners and team members believe in their product and they definitely do at Fruitive. If you have tried juices before and haven't liked them, you probably just haven't found the one that suits your taste. For example, I prefer a more fruit based vs. greens and herb based juice. If you don't like fresh juice you can always opt for one of their many smoothies.

If you live in the area, pop in and show them some love. If you're driving through and looking for a healthy juice/salad bar, be sure to stop by Fruitive!



The black bean salad was great on my wrap!




Friday, May 25, 2012

Sweet Rice Flour Cake

My mom's friend made this for me on my recent trip home and was nice enough to share the recipe with me! It is chewy, delicious, and yet another versatile recipe. The version I had was made with dried mango and cranberries, but you could easily swap out the fruit or even use chocolate chips.  

Sorry about the photo, I promise to put a better one up when I make it again!


Rice Flour Cake (24 small pieces)
Time: 45mins

Ingredients:
- 2c Sweet Rice Flour
- 1c Milk
- 1c Sugar
- 1tsp Vanilla
- 2 Eggs
- 1 Stick Unsalted Butter
- 2 tsp Baking Powder
- 1-11/2c Dried Chopped Fruit
(Mango/Cranberries or Chocolate Chips)

  1. Heat your oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Beat together your softened butter and sugar until it's well combined.
  3. Add you eggs, milk, and baking powder.
  4. Slowly add your flour until it creates a batter. Fold in your chocolate chips or fruit at this point.
  5. Add your batter to a greased 9x13 pan and bake for about 30-35mins. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Dduk Bok Ki

My mom makes me this dish every time I go home and I die for it! Dduk Bok ki (pronounced: duck buck kee) is a Korean snack/street food that is chewy, spicy, and just fun to eat. You can get creative with this dish by adding different ingredients such as ramen, hard boiled eggs, and a variety of vegetables. Below is a good base to start with! Go visit your local Asian/Korean Market for the ingredients and be adventurous!


Dduk Bok Ki (Serves 2-3)
Time: 25-30mins

Ingredients:

- 20-25 pieces of Dduk (Korean rice cakes made from a sweet rice flour)
- 1 1/2c of Dashi Broth/Water/Vegetable Stock (Mom made her own broth)
- 2tbsp Seasoned Gochujang (Korean Sweet Red Chili Paste)
Season your own by adding: 1tsp seasame oil, 1/4tsp garlic powder, and 2-3tsp of sugar
- 2-3c of Fried Fish Cake (Odeng)
Slice and boil in water for 5mins to pull out the oil from the fish cake
- 1/2 Onion, Chopped
- 2 Cloves Garlic, Minced
- 2-3 Stalks Green Onion, Chopped
- 1-2tsp Roasted Sesame Seeds 
- Soy Sauce/Korean Chili Powder (Gochugaru) - (Optional, add at the end if necessary)
- Feel free to add any additional vegetables


  1. Add your broth, chili paste, and sesame seeds on medium/medium-high heat. The sauce will become thicker as you cook the dish. Once it begins to boil add your vegetables and fish cake.
  2. Cook the vegetables for about 8-10mins and add your dduk.
  3. Let the dduk get soft and chewy for about 15mins. Ours was frozen, if yours is fresh or defrosted you will not have to cook it as long.
  4. Add the green onions during the last 5mins of cook time and top with sesame seeds when serving! Enjoy!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Airport Food - Terminal B

So I know airport food can be pretty uneventful and stale...but I wanted to share a few good options that are available at Chicago O'Hare. I travel through Chicago quite a bit so I've found a few fun bites.

You are looking at a plate of cappicola, prosciutto, serrano ham, salami, mustard, apple chutney, dried fruit and nuts, rosemary vella, brie, humbold fog, and point reyes blue. Not too shabby for a layover lunch. I know some of you are probably thinking this was a risky option, but it was at a wine bar that was fully equipped with a pianist. Yes, the pianist marked this legit in my books ha!

- Tortas Frontera, a Rick Bayless restaurant
I tried it with my husband the last time we flew through ORD and it wasn't too bad. A little on the salty side for me, but everything was fresh (which I welcome at an airport).
http://www.yelp.com/biz/tortas-frontera-chicago

- Jamba Juice
Be sure to ask for NO SWEETNERS if you want to keep it on the healthier side. The fruit already makes it sweet, no need for the extra stuff.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Mexican Style Chicken Salad

I'm leaving on a trip this week so I have been eating everything I can to clean out my fridge. I had purchased a rotisserie chicken and used half of it to make Chicken Mole Tacos earlier this week and was left with plenty of cilantro and lime. I decided to make use of those ingredients and make a Mexican Style Chicken Salad with the rest of the chicken. This has turned out to be one of my favorite chicken salads! Hope you enjoy it too.


I served it on top of a bed of spinach for lunch one day and stuffed avocados for dinner the next!

Mexican Style Chicken Salad ( Serves 2-3)
- 3c Shredded Chicken ( I used a plain rotisserie chicken)
- 1/2c Cilantro, Chopped
- 1/8tsp of each: Cumin, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder
- Salt and Paprika ( To taste)
- 1/2-1 Lime, Juiced
- 1/4c Mayo or Greek Yogurt if that's what you prefer
- 1/3-1/2c of each: Minced Onion and Chopped Bell Pepper
- 1/2c Corn (I use frozen)
  1. Mix together your mayo, lime juice, seasonings, and cilantro.
  2. Pour the mixture over your shredded chicken, bell pepper, onion, and corn.
  3. Make sure everything is well mixed and enjoy!
Have a wonderful week, I'll post more goodness when I get back from my trip!

Oats and Yogurt

Looking for a way to bring some extra life to your yogurt? I typically add nuts, granola, or fruit and wanted to try something different this week. I mixed in oats, fruit, and even chocolate chips to my yogurt, which I loved. This combination is great for breakfast or as a mid day snack. What do you like to mix into your yogurt?


Chocolate Chip and Banana Yogurt (Individual Serving)
Time: 10-15mins

Ingredients:
- Yogurt ( I used Stonyfield Organics because I've had too much Greek Yogurt lately)
- 1/4-1/3c Oats
- 1/2-1Banana Sliced
- 1-2tbsp Semisweet Chocolate Chips
  1. Mix together your oats and yogurt, place in fridge for about 10mins. I like the texture, but you can let the mixture sit longer or even over night.
  2. Add your bananas and chocolate chips and enjoy!

Chocolate Covered Strawberries Yogurt (Individual Serving)
Time: 10-15mins

Ingredients:
- Chocolate Yogurt ( I used Stonyfield Organics)
* You can add chocolate chips or some cocoa powder to plain or vanilla yogurt
- 1/4-1/3c Oats
- 1/2c Strawberries Chopped
  1. Mix together your oats and yogurt, place in fridge for about 10mins. I like the texture, but you can let the mixture sit longer or even over night.
  2. Add your strawberries and enjoy!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Lemon Cheesecake Bars

After contemplating what to take to a friend's house for dinner, I was inspired by a container of lemon yogurt in my fridge. I decided to use that as an ingredient and make lemon cheesecake bars with a strawberry compote! I love anything with lemon in it so this was perfect! I typically would've made a blueberry or raspberry compote to accompany the lemon dessert, but I had strawberries that needed to be used, so feel free to add whatever fruit you enjoy or have on hand.

Lemon Cheesecake Bars (12-16 bars)
Time: 1hr Prep and Cook/ 2hr Chill


Ingredients:
- 2 1/2-3c Ginger Snap Cookies
- 6-8tbsp Butter, Melted
- 2 Eggs
- 12z Cream Cheese, Softened
- 6z Lemon Yogurt
- 10z Lemon Curd (1/4c for filling)
- 1tsp Vanilla
- 1 Lemon, Juiced and Zest
- 2tbsp Flour

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. 
  2. Add 2 1/2-3c of the ginger snap cookies into a food processor and blend until desired consistency is achieved. Add your melted butter to moisten the mixture.
  3. Pour the cookies into a greased 8x8 baking pan and use a measuring cup to press down your cookie mixture. Bake in the oven for 5mins to help set the crust.
  4. Mix together your softened cream cheese, flour, lemon zest, 2tbsp lemon juice, 1/4c lemon curd, lemon yogurt, and vanilla extract. Once they are combined, mix in your eggs one at a time. 
  5. Pour the cheesecake mixture and gently spread it onto the crust.
  6. Mix together your leftover lemon curd and lemon juice and heat it slightly to liquify the mixture.
  7. Drizzle the lemon curd mixture in horizontal lines and use the back of a knife and make lines in a vertical pattern to create the swirl. 
  8. Place your pan in the center of the oven for about 30-35mins. Check to make sure the center has set. Once it is done, allow it the cheesecake to cool on the counter for about an hour.
  9. After it has chilled for an hour, cover the pan and place it in the fridge for about 2-3hours to allow it to set completely. ENJOY! 


Strawberry Compote
- 2c Sliced Strawberries
- Remaining Lemon Curd and Juice
- 1-2tsp Sugar if necessary
- 1tsp Cornstarch
  1. I made this in a saucepan, but I think this would be just as good minus the cornstarch and heat. Just add the the smooth lemon curd and juice mixture to the strawberries and let them sit in the fridge! 

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Shockley's Sweet Shoppe




 How fun is that Yuengling Cake?

After hearing about Shockley's Sweet Shoppe from several friends, I decided to drop in to pick up a few treats this afternoon. Perfect pit stop after a nice hot yoga session right? As soon as I walked in, I was welcomed by several fun cake displays, a nice selection of daily treats, and two of the talented chefs. While I wished they had a larger selection for purchase, I did appreciate that the cupcakes and cannonballs were all fresh and delicious! My friend Mari had purchased cannonballs before and they were delightful. What is a cannonball you ask? They are cake balls made from a mixture of their leftover cakes pieces, I love the idea, who really wants to waste cake anyway? Since it depends on the types of cake they have made during that time, the flavors are a surprise every time!

Shockley's Sweet Shoppe has earned numerous Bride's Choice Awards and have been featured in several magazines such as The Knot, iDo, and Vow. After tasting their treats and meeting Tim and Dave, two of their friendly and talented chefs, I can see why they have received such praise and acknowledgement. I will definitely be visiting again to purchase some more goodies! If you're looking for a bakery to make a cake for a special event in Hampton Roads, I would definitely stop by Shockley's and meet with their great team!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Korean Style Fresh Spring Rolls

Since I'm planning on participating in "Meatless Mondays," I've been thinking about different recipes that I could make for me and my husband (who gasped at the idea) that would be filling and satisfying.

Last week I had a craving for something fun and light to eat and decided to make Korean style spring rolls. Typically my family makes these with Korean BBQ marinated beef, but I decided to use Shittake mushrooms instead for my savory component. Two of my girlfriends came by to enjoy this interactive dinner with me and we all had a great time! Have fun with this recipe and be sure to use your favorite protein and vegetables, it's an extremely versatile dish.


Korean Style Fresh Spring Rolls ( Serves 4)
Time: 30min-45hr Prep and Cook 



Ingredients:
- Spring Roll Wrapper (Asian Market or Ethnic asile at your local store)
- Rice Noodles
- 1-2 Bell Pepper, Sliced lengthwise
- 8z Shiitake Mushrooms, Chopped ( You can use the whole mushroom or just the cap)
* Use beef or chicken in addition to or instead of mushrooms
- 1/2-1 Onion
- Garlic, 1-2 Cloves Chopped
- Broccoli Coleslaw (Trader Joe's)
 * Feel free to use any combination of fresh julienne vegetables (carrots, lettuce, broccoli, etc.)
- 1 Cucumber, Sliced Lengthwise
- Cilantro to top your spring roll 
- 3-4tbsp Honey
- 1/8tsp Garlic Powder
- 1/2c Water and 1/2c Soy (Or Bragg Amino Acids)
- 1tsp Roasted Sesame Seeds

I love my cute apron from Florence, Italy! They had several custom embroidered shops in the area.

  1. Make the marinade by mixing together the soy sauce, water, garlic (chopped and powder), honey, and roasted sesame seeds. It may taste strong, but it will work when it's combined with your vegetables/meat.
  2. Saute the mushrooms, pepper, and onions for a few minutes with olive oil over medium heat and add the marinade to the pan. Cook on medium low until vegetables are ready and sauce reduces slightly. I prefer my onions and peppers to have a slight crunch. So cook to your liking!
  3. Prepare your noodles as directed, they should only take about 4-5mins to cook.
  4. For your wrapper, get a lid or a large pan and add water to let them soak. The wrapper is fairly delicate so you'll have to work with it a little.
  5. Once everything is ready, get a wrapper, add your vegetables and noodles to the end (don't get too crazy) and proceed to roll it up like a burrito. Add your sauce and enjoy!
 How do you roll it? Place the filling near one end of the wrapper, fold in the sides, and tuck and roll. It takes some practice, but you'll get it! 

 This was my first attempt at a peanut sauce, so if you have a better recipe feel free to use it!

 Peanut Sauce:
- 1/2c Peanut Butter
- 3tsbp Coconut Milk/Water
- 1/8tsp Garlic Powder
- 1-2 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar
- 2tbsp Soy Sauce
- 1-2tsp Sriracha Rooster Sauce
- 1-2tbsp Roasted Peanuts
  1. Mix together everything over low heat until smooth. Remove from heat and top with roasted peanuts.
 Fish sauce for the adventurous foodie. One of my girlfriends was not excited at the thought of fish sauce, but even she enjoyed it! Caution: It stinks! 

Lemon and Jalapeno Fish Sauce:
- 1/2-1 Lemon, Juiced
- 1/2 Jalapeno, Thinly Sliced with Seeds
- 1/2c Fish Sauce
- 2tbsp Sugar
  1. Mix together all ingredients, make sure sugar is dissolved. I'm not going to sugar coat it, it really stinks, but it goes very well with the spring rolls!

 Try adding a few slices of avocado and fresh vegetables for lunch the following day!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Mediterranean Salad

I recently made this delicious Med Salad to accompany my Keftedes. The base recipe comes from Wendy Jo Peterson. A few months ago I attended one of her healthy cooking classes and this was the salad my group prepared, it is a very delicious, healthy and filling salad! My version below is very similar to her recipe, I've made a few adjustments. Enjoy!


Mediterranean Salad (Serves 4-6)
Time: 20 Mins

Ingredients:
- 1/4c Red Lentils ( Cook as Directed)
- 1 15z Can Chickpea
- 1-2c Tomatoes, Chopped ( I like to use grape, cherry, or mini heirloom)
- 1 Bell Pepper, Chopped
- 1/4-1/2c Parsley or Cilantro
- 1/2-1 Lemon Juiced (Zest Optional)
- 2 tbsp Olive Oil
- 1tsp Garlic Powder
- 1-2tbsp Red Wine Vinegar
- Salt as Needed
  1. Cook your lentils as directed and let them cool.
  2. Mix together your garbanzo beans, vegetables, and cilantro in a bowl.
  3. Mix together your olive oil, lemon juice/zest, red wine vinegar, and garlic powder. Pour over your salad and mix well. Serve cold or as is. 

Optional Serving Suggestion: 
Garlic toast and over medium egg topped with med salad for brunch! 
 

Operation Baking Soda Deodorizer

Another fantastic use for baking soda - shoe deodorizers! Granted the New Balance Minimus are often worn without socks, I always wore them with socks. Except for one day when I quickly slipped them on to take the dog out, unfortunately the walk resulted in a pair of stinky shoes. I threw them into the wash twice with no luck and finally retired my sneakers, such a shame since they were still in good shape. 

Thankfully my stinky shoe savior, suggested filling coffee filters with baking soda to deodorize the shoes. I was skeptical, but after 2.5 weeks of letting the baking soda sit in the shoes, I wore them to TRX on Tuesday and SUCCESS!!!!! My shoes are GOOD TO GO!

So if you have a pair of stinky shoes, try these baking soda filters! Use it for your kiddos too...I know a lot of parents that mention their children's stinky feet, now you can avoid that too!