Monday, April 30, 2012

CELEBRATE CINCO DE MAYO!!


Cinco de Mayo is on Saturday and I'm sharing with you all the recipes I talked about on TV, Monday.  So, if you saw my segments in Cali, Texas, or Florida and you like what you saw.   Give your guests something to talk about by trying out these fun and festive appetizers!  I've taken some of the old favorites and added a new twist to each one. So, get a head start on your party planning and head to the grocery store for your supplies!

SPICY MANGO GUACAMOLE
8 servings
INGREDIENTS
3 large, ripe avocados: halved, peeled, and seeded
2 limes, juiced
1 mango:  peeled, seeded, and diced
2 tablespoons of chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 medium red onion, diced
2 roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 jalapeno seeded and finely minced
kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

STEPS
In a medium sized bowl mash the avocado.  Add the juice from 2 limes.  Mix in cilantro, onion, tomatoes, garlic, jalapeno, salt and pepper.  Transfer to a cinco de mayo party bowl as pictured above and serve with tortilla chips!  Buen Provecho!

BUFFALO CHICKEN QUESADILLA
My recipe makes 10 quesadillas

WHAT YOU NEED TO GET STARTED
2 ½ cups of shredded cooked chicken
1 jalapeno finely minced
1 and a half cups of monterey jack cheese
10 8-inch white flour tortillas
non-stick cooking spray

BUFFALO SAUCE
YIELDS:  ¾ cup of sauce
½ stick of unsalted butter
4 tablespoons of dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons of white vinegar
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon of garlic powder
5 tablespoons of tomato sauce
¼ cup of frank’s hot sauce
1 and half tablespoons of fresh chopped oregano
Salt and pepper to taste

On your stove top melt butter and brown sugar together over medium heat in a sauce pan. Next, add white vinegar, tomato sauce and hot sauce. Then add garlic powder, cayenne pepper, fresh oregano, and salt and pepper to taste.  Lower heat and cook for up to 10 minutes.  Set aside and let cool.

In a medium size bowl combine shredded chicken, minced jalapeno, and buffalo sauce.  Mix well. 

Lay chicken mixture on top of tortilla.  Layer with cheese and cover with top tortilla.

Spray a large skillet with cooking spray.  Lay quesadilla down cook on medium heat until golden brown.  Flip to cook the other side.side.  Cut into quarters and serve with ranch dressing on the side.


BLACK BEAN TRES QUESOS DIP

INGREDIENTS
1 can of black beans
2 cloves of fresh garlic, minced 
¼ cup of chopped white onion
1 tablespoon of chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon of dried caribbean oregano
¼ cup of homemade sofrito
2 tablespoons of tomato sauce
1/3 cup mild cheddar shredded
1/3 cup of parmesan cheese shredded
1/3 cup of monterey jack cheese shredded
salt and pepper to taste

STEPS
Rinse and wash black beans well.  Add ½ cup of water, sofrito, tomato sauce, chicken broth, onion, garlic, salt and pepper.  Bring to boil.  Lower heat, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes. 

Pour beans into a food processor until smooth (or you can process half of the beans if you prefer to have some actual beans in the dip).  In the photo above, I have processed all of the beans.  If you have decided to save some of the beans, pour mixture back into sauce pan and mix well.  Then pour into serving bowl, alternating with each layer of each the three cheeses and serve.  Hmmmm que rico!!


MARGARITA PORK CHOP
recipe courtesy of the National Pork Board!
INGREDIENTS:  4 SERVINGS
 4 boneless pork rib chops, 3/4-inch thick
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
2/3 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon sugar
3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
1 tablespoon tequila


STEPS
Season chops with coriander, salt and pepper. Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, brown chops on both sides, turning once, about 8-9 minutes until internal temperature on a thermometer reads 145 degrees Fahrenheit, followed by a 3-minute rest time. Remove chops from skillet; keep warm. In small bowl stir together broth, lime juice, cornstarch and sugar; add to skillet, cook and stir until bubbly. Stir in cilantro and tequila; serve sauce over chops. 




 SWEET AND SPICY MANGO SLICES




INGREDIENTS

6 SERVINGS

4 Mangos sliced horizontally into medium sized strips
2 tablespoons of red chili powder
1 tablespoon of salt
1 lime, juiced

STEPS
Squeeze lime juice on to the mango slices.  Then, combine the red chili powder, salt, and sugar in a bowl.  Pour the mixture onto wax paper and roll the mango slices until covered.  You can also sprinkle the dry ingredients directly from the bowl onto the slices if you prefer.  Place them on a festive Cinco de Mayo tray and serve them to your guests.  It's a treat I'm sure they're gonna love!







Friday, April 13, 2012

USEFUL STORING TIPS

In order to be a successful cook, your supplies must be ready and fresh when you need them.  Here are some useful tips to help you store some of your favorite produce and maximize the best flavor.

 PLANTAINS
If your plantains are ripe like the yellow ones or green pictured here you can store both at room temperature in a well ventilated area such as on a countert top.  Where you store them is very important because green plantains will ripen in several days if stored away from direct sunlight and at room temperature.  You can also peel both ripe and green plantains, place them in zip loc bags and and freeze them for up to three months. 


ONIONS
To maximize the best flavor, onions should be stored in a dry, cool location.  They are good for atleast a month.  You can place them in a paper bag or wrap them with a cloth, but separate from other produce.  I don't recommend storing them in the refrigerator for best flavor.

 



TOMATOES
These beautiful red, juicy tomatoes do best if they are stored outside of your refrigerator as well.  If your tomatoes are soft to the touch and appear very ripe, don't worry.  Store them in a pretty bowl at room temperature for up to three days.  



 CITRUS FRUITS:  ORANGES, GRAPEFRUITS, LIMES, AND LEMONS
Although they look beautiful when used as a center piece in a pretty bowl on your table, it's not what you want to do.  They will remain fresh and taste so much better if you store these gems in the refrigerator for no more than three weeks.

POTATOES
Potatoes will change quickly if stored near your onions so store them separately in a cool, dry location in your kitchen.
 

FRESH HERBS:  THYME, CILANTRO, MINT, PARSLEY and ROSEMARY
Store your cilantro, mint, and parsley in separate plastic zip lock bags in the refrigerator for a week.  Both rosemary and thyme live about a week longer.  You can also place them in air free zip lock bags to maximize the flavor.  If your cilantro gets dry, wrap it in a wet paper towel to bring it back to life and then store it in the refrigerator.



Wednesday, April 11, 2012



BLACK BEAN PIZZA WEDGES
(the easiest pizza you ever made!)
2 pizzas can serve as an appetizer for 4 ppl

INGREDIENTS
8in circular whole wheat flat bread
2 cups monterrey jack cheese - shredded
1 can of goya black beans
1 clove of garlic - minced
1/2 onion chopped 
2 tablespoons of sofrito
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Wash beans with water.  Then pour beans into a sauce pan with a cup of water.  This is a simple recipe so you don't have to make the beans as if you were making a beans and rice dish.  Instead you can keep it simple with just a few ingredients and it will still be tasty.  Add sofrito, onion and garlic to your beans. Bring to quick boil and them simmer for 15 minutes.  Place flat bread on baking sheet and scoop beans on to the bread.  Top with shredded cheese and bake for 7 - 10 minutes or until cheese melts. 

Serve with your arugula salad (recipe below)

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HEALTHY EATS

ARUGULA CHICKEN WRAP

This meal came out of things I had in the fridge.  If I would of had parmessan cheese, I would of shaved some on top of the arugula salad.  But, I didn't and my meal was still delicious!!! 

INGREDIENTS 
(for 4 wraps) 
4 8in spinach wraps (picked up mine at Stew Leonards)
2lbs of skinless, boneless chicken breast
juice of half of an orange
2 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon of vinegar (I used Kikoman rice vinegar)
2 cloves of garlic (minced)
1 teaspoon of Goya adobo
1 cup of mozzarella cheese cut into cubes (goat cheese also works but I didn't have any handy)
1 and 1/3 cups of baby arugula
salt and pepper to taste (if you like)
1 to 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar

PREPARING THE CHICKEN
Clean and cut chicken into cubes.  Combine chicken, orange juice, olive oil, vinegar, garlic, adobo, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Whisk together until mixed well. Add the chicken to the bowl and mix well to coat.

Preheat grill. Cook chicken cubes for about up to 5 minutes per side, depending on size of pieces.

ASSEMBLING THE WRAPS
Leave your wraps out while your preparing the chicken so that they are room temperature.  Or heat up your skillet over medium heat and warm up each wrap in the pan.  Turn over to heat the other side after 30 seconds. Repeat with remaining wraps.  In a bowl combine arugula, mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, red onions, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper.  Then place mixture (about 1 cup for each wrap) in the wrap first.  Place chicken on top and fold.
 
SIDE SALAD 
INGREDIENTS
4 cups of baby arugula
1 cup of sliced cherry tomatoes
1 cup croutons
1/2 medium red onion
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
5 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
1 apple - chopped into cubes
1/2 lb sauteed asparagus

Using the same bowl you just prepared your arugula in above.  Combine arugula, tomatoes, croutons, red onion, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, apple, and sauteed asparagus in a bowl.  Mix well.  Serve immediately with your arugula wraps or with your black bean pizza wedges.




Saturday, April 7, 2012

EASTER WEEKEND BRUNCH

 CHEESE OMELETTE WITH FLANK STEAK AND MASHED PLANTAINS

Tomorrow is going to be hectic with our family dinner, mass and of course brunch.  So, let's get a head start on Easter brunch and marinate the steak this afternoon.

Here's WHAT YOU NEED TO GET STARTED:
4 SERVINGS
3 pounds skirt steak cut into 4 pieces
5 cloves garlic - minced
salt and pepper to taste 
1 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
2 tablespoons of vinegar
3 tablespoons of sofrito
1 cup onion, minced
2 teaspoons carribean oregano
1 cup extra virgin olive oil

Mash garlic using a pilón.  Then in a bowl combine all of the above ingredients.  Whisk in the liquids such as the vinegar, juice and olive oil.  Place meat into the mixture, make sure it's covered and let sit overnight in the refrigerator.  

The following day using a grill (George Foreman, stove top, or outside grill - these all work).  Place meat on grill for no more than 4 minutes on each side.  Keep in mind this meat has no fat so if you over cook it will taste really bad.  Use your tongs to turn it over.  Serve rare/medium rare for the best flavor, but let it cool for several minutes before you serve it.

OMELETTE
So, I usually prepare this meal with eggs sunny side up but for Easter Sunday I'm trying something different.  Hope you guys like this omelette.   This meal is massive and should hold you over until your dinner guests arrive.  
INGREDIENTS
8 eggs 
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons of milk
1/2 cup of white onions minced
1 cup of shredded manchego cheese

Whisk eggs in a bowl.  Add salt and pepper to tasteAdd milk.  Whisk well.   
In a large pan over medium, spray cooking spray or what you prefer.  I use extra virgin olive oil.  Pour eggs in pan you should hear a sizzle.  Add manchego cheese.  Flip omelette when cooked on one side.  I serve it on a big serving dish and cut it like you would lasagna to serve.

MANGÚ
6 green plantains
salt to taste 
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves of garlic
1 and half tablespoons of vinegar

Chop off ends of plantains.  Then under cold water, using a knife slice vertically following the line of the banana and peel.  Slice and drop in boiling water.  Add salt and 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  In a saute pan, cook garlic until it is a very light, golden brown color.  Remove plantains when they are soft.  Place them in a bowl and mash them.  Using water you boiled them in in intervals from the pot, mash plantains until they are like a puree.  Add vinegar to taste, garlic, and a tablespoon of olive oil.

Garnish mangú with pickled red onions and serve with sliced avocado on the side

Friday, April 6, 2012

HUMMUS PLATE

GARLIC LEMON HUMMUS PLATE

HUMMUS
2 cans of garbanzo beans
3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 plump clove of fresh garlic
1 and a half tablespoons of fresh cilantro - minced
sprinkle of paprika
juice of half of lemon
1/4 cup of water

STEPS
Wash garbanso beans well.  Pour beans, extra virgin olive oil, cilantro, lemon juice, and garlic into food processor.  Add water and blend.  If mixture is too thick add more water.  Pour into bowl to check for lumps.  Serve with pita and spicy turkish ezmesi sauce as pictured above if you want an extra spicy kick.  Sprinkle hummus with paprika before serving.

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LAST NIGHT'S DINNER

GRILLED CHICKEN BREAST and GARLIC ROASTED ASPARAGUS with BAKED SWEET POTATO WEDGES 

This is last night's dinner.  There are tons of left overs today, but it's Good Friday.  I also made a Hummus plate.  I guess I'll finish that off.  That post is coming next.  Hope you guys like them both! 

 GRILLED CHICKEN BREAST
1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves of garlic (minced)
juice of half of an orange
2 tablespoons Kikoman plum sauce
2 tablespoons of spicy szechuan sauce
salt and pepper to taste

PREPARING THE CHICKEN:

Combine chicken, orange juice, olive oil, szechuan sauce, plum sauce, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Whisk together until mixed well. Add the chicken to the bowl and mix well to coat.
Preheat grill. Cook chicken for about up to 5 minutes per side, depending on size of pieces.

GARLIC ROASTED ASPARAGUS
1 lb of asparagus - rinsed and trimmed
2 cloves of garlic - minced
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Combine asparagus, minced garlic, salt, pepper, and olive oil in a baking dish.  Mix well.  Bake for 10-15 minutes. 

SWEET POTATO WEDGES
2 sweet potatoes - scrubbed and cut into wedges
1 table spoon of extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon of fresh rosemary

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  If your making the asparagus above you can bake them together.  Just combine all of the above ingredients in a baking dish.  Mix well and bake for 15 minutes or until tender.  Buen Provecho!! xx

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

FOOD BLOGGERS CONVENTION: SOHO

I had the pleasure of attending “The Fashion of Food” festival, Sunday in Soho.  The events are part of an annual conference put together by the International Association of Culinary Professionals.
What a fun time we had chatting it up with foodies, bloggers, and everyone else who had a food industry/love connection.

Here I am pictured with Chef Helen Roberts of Kikoman - (you may remember her if you saw my Food Network Iron Chef Fan Face Off competition.  She was one of the judges :-)  Love her!  She was "repping" all the wonderful Kikoman products like the yummy Plum Sauce and Low Sodium Soy Sauce that I love.  Remember the rice vinegar I've talked about.  I had flashbacks!!  
 I also chatted with author and chef Sandra Gutierrez.  She's a doll!  And I love her new cookbook.  Here's her spiced pepitas recipe:




So this conference was all food - from party foods, to pulled pork sandwiches,  Brooklyn wines, delicious coffee, gluten free baked goods and soft, cremy Irish cheeses.  They had tons of stuff.  It was great!  But the two unique finds for me were:  these handmade Marshmallows by Mitch.  Amazing!  They were soft and came in unique flavors like "orange sicle".  The best part - they weren't unbearably sweet so, I absolutely LOVED them.  That's Steve in the picture holding up one of those yummy treats!






 I also came across Chef's Salt - omg I'm hooked!!  The flavors are delicious and would be great for summer grilling.  Did I mention I mention I especially liked the Tunisian Fire flavor?!?

One last mention - my new IPhone app that I discovered at this event:  EVERNOTE.  It's a journalists' dream.  I recommend it to all reporters and bloggers!  You can organize all of your notes in one place.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

SERIOUS EATS IN 30 MINUTES OR LESS!

FUSILLI TOSSED WITH OLIVE OIL, GARLIC AND SPINACH
Sometimes it's really tough trying to decide what to make for dinner and FAST...So why not settle on a quick pasta dish that can be made in 30 minutes or less.  It's the easiest dish and if you have more time.  Make it a side dish.  It's really yummy and healthy!

INGREDIENTS for 2 servings & 4 side dish servings
10 oz of Fusilli (i luv Trader Joe's)
3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
5 garlic cloves minced
1/2 medium onion chopped
1/4 cup of vegetable broth
1/2 tablespoon of juice from one lemon
6 oz of spinach
salt to taste

STEPS
Cook pasta in boiling water with salt and olive oil until al dente.  Drain and set aside.  Meanwhile in a large saute pan drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat.  Add spinach, garlic, onion, salt, and toss until fragrant.  Now add vegetable broth and lemon juice.  Toss some more.  Lower heat and cover for two minutes or until done. Once it's done combine pasta and spinach in a bowl and serve.

OPTIONAL:  I like to serve it with grated parmesan cheese.  Sometimes I also add sundried tomatoes cut into small pieces.  You can add the sundried tomatoes once the dish is done.  Just mix them in well.

Enjoy!

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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

TACO TUESDAY!

It's Taco Tuesday everyone!  So, it's time for some taco's tonight at my place!  I'm sharing with you guys my favorite CHICKEN TACO recipe.

INGREDIENTS (You'll be able to make 10 nice size tacos)
1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast (cut into small cubes)
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves of garlic (minced)
1 tablespoon of dried (caribbean) oregano
1/4 cup white vinegar
juice of 1 lime
juice of 1 orange
salt and pepper to taste
10 corn tortillas (small)
1 bunch of fresh cilantro (stems removed and ready to go)
1 cup of shredded romaine lettuce
1 white onion (chopped)
1 tomato (diced)
1 jalapeno

PREPARING THE CHICKEN:
Combine chicken, lime and orange juice, vinegar, olive oil, oregano, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Whisk together until mixed well. Add the chicken cubes to the bowl and mix well to coat. Cover and refrigerate for about a half  hour.

Preheat grill (we use a George Foreman in our house). Cook chicken cubes for about up to 4 minutes per side, depending on size of pieces. During this time you should warm up your tortillas.  Heat up your skillet over medium heat. Place a tortilla in the pan, warm, and turn over to heat the other side. Repeat with remaining tortillas.
Serve your tacos with cilantro, tomatoes, onions, and lettuce.  Jalapenos on the side.  You can also serve them with your favorite hot sauce (Chula in my house) and Salsa.  Rice and black beans on the side also.
Buen Provecho! 

 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

QUICK CHICKEN GYROS FOR TWO



I first came up with this recipe on a rainy Sunday afternoon when I was craving a gyro but wasn't up for the trek in the rain to the gyro shop.  The tzatziki sauce is so refreshing and easy to make.  I opted for organic chicken breast and with the tomatoes and cucumbers, the meal feels so light.  So don't waste anytime.  Let's get started!! 

INGREDIENTS TO MAKE THE CHICKEN
1 and 1/4 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized chunks
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoon dried oregano
juice of 1 lemon
4 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons white vinegar

FOR YOUR SANDWICH YOU WILL ALSO NEED
3/4 cup of sliced red onion
3/4 cup of cucumber diced and seeded
1/2 cup of tomatoes sliced and seeded
2 pieces of Pita bread

PREPARING THE CHICKEN:
Using a pilon or a glass bowl, smash the garlic.  Then combine, lemon juice, vinegar, olive oil, oregano, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Whisk together until mixed well. Add the chicken pieces to the bowl and mix well to coat. Cover and refrigerate for about a half  hour.

Preheat grill (we use a George Foreman in our house). Cook chicken under for about up to 4 minutes per side, depending on size of pieces. Once the chicken is completely cooked, transfer to a plate and set aside.
MAKING TZATZIKI SAUCE:
16 oz. greek yogurt
1 cucumber, peeled and seeded
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon white vinegar
Salt and pepper
Generous squeeze of fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Add your ingredients into a blender and mix.  At my house we use the magic bullet.  Cup shown above.

TO ASSEMBLE:
Warm your pitas. Top them with chicken, tzatziki sauce, diced tomatoes, cucumbers and sliced onions.  Wrap them in aluminum foil and there you have it.  Just as yummy as the Gyro shop and made in less than 30 minutes!!  Buen Provecho!!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

NAOMI IS COOKING FOR US - AGAIN!!


Naomi's Mango and Passion Fruit Tilapia


You may remember last month, Naomi shared a special fish taco recipe with us.  Well, this month she's at it again - this time creating a mango and passion fruit tilapia!  It looks and sounds sensational.  

She says:  "A sweet way to prepare a meal in only ten minutes. Healthy too!" 

Here's what you need to get started:

Four tilapia filets (approx .75lb)
Half of a lemon cut into wedges
3/4 cup of diced mango and passion fruit
1/2 cup of white wine - I used "Middle Sister Smarty Pants" chardonnay
1/8 cup of mixture of chopped cilantro and red onion s
sea salt to taste   

Clean fish with lemon juice and place it on to heated skillet at medium heat.  Add wine, cilantro, onion and sea salt.  Take the diced fruit and hand mash it, dropping it over the fish.  Cover and let everything cook for ten minutes.  Do not turn the fish filets as they will break apart. 

And a delicious side to the tilapia dinner: 
Rum and Honey Platanos Maduros

What you need:
1 sweet plantain cut into long slices
3/4 tbsp honey
2 tbsp rum (I suggest "Captain Morgan" spiced rum)
1 tbsp unsalted butter
dash of cinnamon
 
 
In a heated skillet on med/high heat place the plantains, butter, honey, cinnamon, and rum.  Cook for about 10 mins, using tongs to turn the plantains once after five minutes.  If rum evaporates you may add a small amount of water to moisten, but don't drown the plantains.  Plantains are ready when they are soft to touch.  Se
rve with rice as pictured above.

Buen Provecho!  Hasta la pr
óxima!

xo Naomi