Food Day Friday – Delicioso Burgers Asada

So Adam and I have been eating Paleo (ish) for the last three weeks.  We are a little more flexible on weekends meaning haven’t turned down invites to Mexican, but during the week and the majority of the weekends, we have really adapted our eating habits. I’ve learned a few things:

1.  I don’t miss cheese as much as I thought I would.

2.  Almond milk tastes like almonds.  I’m having a really hard time switching from soy milk to almond milk (yes, this is a small problem in the grand scheme of life, I’m just having a moment).

3.  Banana “ice cream” still tastes a whole lot like bananas.  Don’t believe all the pinterest hype.  I like bananas, and in fact, when I’m just needing a sweet fix, this’ll do, but I want you to know that you will be eating a chocolate/banana/almond tasting sweet treat.  Consider this your Paleo PSA.

4.  I feel so much better when I eat this way.  My belly is one happy camper!  So, I’ll deal with banana ice cream and almond milk if I can feel this good!

5.  I’m still really enjoying cooking and creating given the paleo restrictions.  I wanted to share my newest favorite creation with you today:

Delicioso Burgers Asada with Chili Lime Sweet Potato Fries and Guacamole

burgers asada

Ingredients for Sweet Potato Fries

2  large sweet potatoes

2 TBSP grapeseed oil (more or less depending on size of potatoes)

1tsp chili powder

Fresh cracked sea salt

1 TBSP lime juice

Instructions for Sweet Potato Fries

Preheat oven to 425.  Slice fries to desired size and shape.  For this recipe (cooking time) I cut my fries into thickness of an asparagus stalk.  If you make your fries thicker, like steak fries, allow more time for cooking).  Brush fries with grapeseed oil.  Shake chili powder onto fries, brush to spread spice.  Crack sea salt on top to taste.  Bake for 25 minutes (or longer if you wish them to be crispy), turning once.  Squeeze a little lime juice on top after baking.

Ingredients for Burgers:

1 clove minced garlic

2 tsp chili powder

1 tsp cumin

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon oregano

1 – 1.5 lbs lean ground sirloin/beef*

(I’ve tried this with ground turkey and it’s much less flavorful)

Instructions for Burgers:

Mix spices into meat, form into patties.  Grill or cook in pan.

While everything is cooking, make guacamole.  If you want to get super fancy, you can save a few slivers of avocado, red onion, and tomato and place “deconstructed guacamole” atop your burger.  If you are going to do this deconstructed guac topping, you have to call the meal by it’s full name:

Delicioso Burgers Asada with Deconstructed Guacamole and Chili Lime Sweet Potato Fries with Guacamole for Dipping.  

Enjoy!

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Food Day Friday – Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Adam and I are back to eating healthy.  I’m still making yummy food, it’s just super clean yummy food.  For example, last night, I made beef medallions with balsamic reduction, grilled asparagus, and whipped sweet potatoes.  Not shabby for “diet” food, eh?  We derailed from the health train over Christmas and are just now getting back on track.  The threat of spring taking away bulky sweaters that cover my growing caboose may or may not have reminded me of the need for this.

Anyway… one of my favorite “grain free” meals, that I’ve loved for years (thanks to my South Beach Diet days) are chicken lettuce wraps.  If we’re being totally honest, no, they are not as good as PF Changs, but they aren’t fried, they are low fat, they are easy, and they truly are yummy.  Comparing PF Changs to these bad boys is like comparing apples and red peppers – they look pseudo similar but taste pretty different.

lettuce wraps

Trust me, though, these chicken lettuce wraps are “off the (PF) Chang

I’ve adapted them over the course of the last few years from various recipes but here’s how I make them:

3 boneless skinless chicken breasts (cut into very small pieces (size of blueberries or smaller)

1 bunch celery

1 can sliced water chestnuts

3 cloves garlic minced

1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper

1/2 tsp ground ginger (or fresh if you have it on hand)

1/4 – 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper (depending on your spice preference)

2 Tbsp Hoisin Sauce

2 Tbsp Red Wine Vinegar

1 large head Bibb Lettuce

Crushed Peanuts for Garnish

Saute chicken in oil of choice, brown slightly.  While chicken is cooking, cut celery and water chestnuts into tiny pieces.  Remove chicken from heat and place in bowl.  Add celery, water chestnuts, garlic, ginger, and pepper to the pan.  Saute until slightly browned.  Add chicken.  Add hoisin sauce and red wine vinegar and let simmer for 5 minutes.  Serve in lettuce and garnish with crushed peanuts.

What are your favorite lettuce wrapped meals?

Food Day Friday – Sugar Cookies

icedIt’s not February unless I’ve made loads of heart-shaped sugar cookies with heaps of pink icing.

My mom made them every year as a Valentine’s Seasonal food, and I have kept up the tradition.

I don’t know where I got my sugar cookie recipe, I think it was actually from my college roomie’s mom. (What would I do without Candy Hull’s cookie recipe stash?)

There are a few keys to the perfect sugar cookie:

1.  Chill the dough.  I talk about this with every cookie recipe I post, but if you’re a cookie baker, you should really listen to this NPR chat from a chemist about the science of a perfect cookie.  It will change your baking.

2.  Don’t roll the dough too thin.  Very few people in the world like a crunchy cookie.  If you are one of those people, roll these sugar cookies thin, but for the rest of us, make them a little thicker (maybe 1/4 or 1/3 inch) and don’t let them bake too long.  You have to test them, because you don’t want them undercooked .  You’ll thank me later.

3.  Invite a cute kid or two over to help you decorate.  My sweet niece, Addison came over last week to decorate cookies with me and Captain Awesome and they turned out much more imaginative than I would have decorated them (wouldn’t you agree?  Her work above).

cookie decorating

Here’s my recipe:

1 cup butter

1 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla

2 eggs

3 cups flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

Mix butter, sugar, vanilla, and eggs.   Then add dry ingredients.  Chill for 2-4 hours.  Roll out and cut.  Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes.  Let cool, and ice with your favorite icing.

Happy Snacking and Happy Valentine’s Day!

Food Friday – Homemade Frozen Yogurt

It’s still January, so I know we’re all doing our best to maintain our New Year’s Resolutions and eat healthier.  I thought I would post my recipe for “frozen yogurt.”  I created this treat when Adam and I were detoxing last year and it’s not too shabby.

Before we go any further and your expectations rocket, I will tell you, this is a tart fro yo, but it’s all good for you stuff and it satisfies even my rather sweet sweet tooth.

ingredients

Ingredients:

1 cup plain yogurt

1 cup (natural) juice

2 frozen bananas (the riper the banana when frozen, the sweeter your froyo)

2 cups berries

(My favorite juice/berry combo is pom juice with blueberries and OJ with mixed berries or raspberries)

Put all those ingredients in your blender and pour into little freezable containers.  I like to use the 1/2 cup size.  Place in freezer and allow to set for about 24 hours.  One batch should make about 8  1/2 cups.

froyo

What do you make for healthy sweet treats?

Food Day Friday – Pesto is the Besto

I love pesto! I didn’t grow up on the stuff (unfortunately), but when my mother-in-law introduced it to me for the first time at the ripe old age of 20, it was love at first taste.

I use her delicious recipe.

Here are a few pesto tips:

1. If you have a Trader Joe’s nearby you, get your basil there. Their prices on basil, olive oil, and garlic will save you a lot of $.

2. You can refrigerate fresh homemade pesto for up to 2 days before it goes south, and you can freeze it and either defrost in the fridge or sink.

Recipe:

1. pkg Basil (2.5 oz)

2-3 gloves garlic

1 tsp salt

1/2 C grated parmesan cheese

1/3 cup olive oil

Blend in a food processor, and viola! (I am not a fan of the pine nut, so I don’t use pine nuts in my pesto).

My 4 favorite pesto uses are as follows:

1. Whole wheat penne pasta, pan fried chicken, cherry tomatoes, pesto (mix it all together and it’s perfect)!

2. Caprese Salad (cubed or balled fresh mozzarella, diced tomatoes/cherry tomatoes, pesto, and a little white balsamic vinegar all mixed together (Oh.My.Goodness)

3. Mozzarella and Pesto Stuffed Turkey Burgers (Just slice some cheese, slather on pesto, and grill or bake burgers as usual.

4. Pesto Orecchiette with Chicken Sausage, Green Beans, and Peas. I can’t stop making this recipe. Seriously, go make it tonight!

What are your favorite pesto recipes?

Food Day Friday – Chocolate Chip Cloud Cookies

There are days (and nights) when a chocolate chip cookie is a must have!  The other night was one of those nights.  One of my girlfriends came over and we baked gingersnaps and chocolate chip cookies.  It was divine!  My friend and I both enjoy cooking and baking, and we had a blast swapping cooking-making tips.

I like my cookies perfectly round, soft, and cake-like.  I am not a fan of the flat cookie, the greasy cookie, or the crispy cookie.

I posted a picture of my cookies on instagram and got numerous requests for the recipe.  My girlfriend who made the cookies with me proposed the name Chocolate Chip Cloud Cookies and I liked it, so it’s sticking.  I thought today on this Food Day Friday, I would share the strategy and the recipe for these sweet treats.

A few years ago, I was listening to NPR, and I heard a fascinating piece on “How to Bake the Perfect Cookie“.  The expert is a chemist, who has figured out the formula.  I realize how nerdy this paragraph makes me sound, but it was really fascinating to hear the science behind the making of cookies.  I was pleased during her interview, to learn that I was already doing many of the things she suggested to make the perfect cookie rather unintentionally.  So, between her suggestions and mine, here is the strategy for Chocolate Chip Cloud Cookies.

1.  Unbleached or bread flour will make your cookies more cake-like and fluffier.  I always use whole wheat or unbleached.  Whole wheat flour does work well with this recipe, it makes the cookies taste a little more earthy.

2.  Use extra flour.  I like to add flour until my dough doesn’t stick much to my bowl, almost like a bread dough.  For some, that may be too much flour.  Note: On the recipe below, I have indicated the amount of flour that I use to create my cookies.  Feel free to reduce to your preference.

3.  Butter not margarine for all cookies!  Margarine makes cookies crispier, while butter makes them softer.

4.  Make your cookie dough ahead of time and chill for at least 4 hours if not overnight. (Bonus, nibbles of chilled cookie dough taste better than room temp in my humble opinion)

5.  Use a cookie scoop, it saves loads of time.  I used to use a spoon and roll, but this Christmas, my sister got me this fabulous cookie scoop.  You scoop and then push the bottom of the spoon and you get perfectly rounded balls every time.  It works really well with the hard refrigerated, dough, too!

6.  Cool your pans after each use.  This is a new strategy to me, but my cookie baking friend suggested it.  Of course it adds a few minutes to your baking time, but you don’t get a single flat cookie, so it’s’ worth it!

Here’s my recipe:

1 C Butter (very soft)

3/4 C Granulated Sugar

3/4 C Packed Brown Sugar

1 tsp Vanilla

2 Lg. Eggs

3 1/4 C Unbleached Flour

1 tsp Baking Soda

1/2 tsp Salt

12 oz pkg Chocolate Chips

Heat oven to 375.  Cream Butter, sugars, and vanilla until fluffy.  Add eggs.  Add flour, baking soda, and salt.  Then add chocolate chips.

Drop with cookie scoop onto cooled trays.  Bake for 9 minutes.

Holy Guacamole, It’s Food Day Friday

So once in a blue moon I’ll post some recipe here on the blog.  But there’s been no rhyme or reason to the food posts, and honestly, I keep forgetting.  So, here’s what I decided to do:  I’m going to have Food Day Fridays starting here on Mitzvot.

I can’t promise I’ll post about food every week, but when I do, it’ll be on Friday.  So to all my foodie friends, baking friends, and cooking friends, you’re welcome.  To those of you who have no interest in this, take a break on Fridays and we’ll see ya Saturday.

We’e talked about it before; my rocky relationship with food.  I have come to the realization that all of me; mind, body, and soul affect my relationship with God.  When I’m not eating well, I feel bad about me, and when I feel bad about me, I don’t do well with God.  Things can go to a dark place really quickly for me when my body is out of balance.

So for me, eating is spiritual, because all of life is spiritual.

No, I will not be giving a spiritual pep talk with every dish (breathe that sigh of relief).  I just wanted to explain why I think food fits here as we talk about everyday life with God.

A few weeks ago, I posted a picture of guacamole and some of my friends asked for the recipe.  Here’s how I make guac:

3 large or 4 medium avocados

3 TBSP lime juice

1/2 tsp salt

fresh cracked pepper to taste

3 cloves garlic finely chopped

1 small red onion (diced)

1 tomato diced

2 TBSP finely chopped cilantro

Step 1:  Pick the right avocados.  Seriously, this is the most important part.  The best way to pick is by feel.  Often, the ripe avocados’ skin has turned more brown than green, but that isn’t always the case.  Squeeze the little guy – you don’t want him to mash in your hands, but he needs to give a little.  A ripe avocado should feel like you’re squeezing a firm stress ball.

Step 2: Make the Guac.  Mash avocados (I like to use a potato masher).  Add lime juice, salt, pepper, and garlc and mix thoroughly.  Then add onion, tomatoes, and cilantro.  My Mexican friends taught me that if you really want your guacamole to look authentic, leave an avocado seed or 2 in the bowl, then everyone will know you made it from scratch.  Personally, I think this gets in the way of my chip dipping but to each his/her own.

Step 3: Snack your heart out.

Making guacamole is like making chili – everyone has their own take.

How do you make Guacamole?