Friday, December 30, 2011

Green Turkey and White Bean Chipotle Chili

Today I am guest posting for my fellow San Francisco foodie friend, Stephanie, over at Life Tastes Like Food.  

This recipe is a great winter treat that will stick to your bones without adding to them.  Plus, it will make your busy holiday week a little less hectic if you have a big pot of chili leftovers for lunches and dinners.


Monday, December 19, 2011

Guest Post: Baked Brie with Mulled Wine Cranberry Sauce and Glazed Pecans

Today Stephanie from Life Tastes Like Food is contributing a mouthwatering delight that looks perfect for an upcoming Holiday party.  I met Stephanie when she asked me to guest post on her Holiday Project Series; my contribution will be published later this month!  Stephanie also lives in San Francisco and I am excited for her guest post today!

Hi, Everyone! Stephanie from LifeTastes Like Food here. It’s so wonderful to be on Simply Scrumptious today!
I love this time of the year because the holiday season brings about an array of festivities!! Whether it’s an ugly sweater party,company holiday potluck, or family gathering, I find no better environment than to incorporate a little cheese into mix!
This appetizer incorporates holiday spirit by bringing together warm spices, depth from the red wine, and a tangy cranberry flavor that compliments the brie quite nicely. And when you add some crunchy pecans on top and throw everything in the oven, you really can’t go wrong.
This recipe is great for any gathering. It’s extremely simple to make and will be a hit at any holiday party. You can even assemble everything beforehand and then just pop it into the oven before your guests arrive! You can serve it with crackers, bread, apples, or anything else that fits your fancy.

While making it, pour yourself a glass of the red wine and enjoy while cooking! You deserve a break. 

First, make the cranberry sauce. 

Next, prepare the glazed pecans. I would do this right before you are ready to bake the brie but if you want to prepare them ahead of time, then make sure you spread them out on a piece of wax or parchment paper to cool. If you make them right before you bake the brie, you can skip that step. 

Then, preheat your oven to 350 degrees and using a knife,make a circle about ¼ inch from the edge on the top part of the brie. With spoon, scrap away the white part of the brie.
Pile on ½ cup of the cranberry sauce and pecans, like so.

Bake for 8-10 minutes. Make sure you watch the brie carefully because it you bake too long it will melt into a gooey mess…and wedon’t want that.
Now go eat, drink, and be merry! Happy holidays!!!

Baked Brie with Mulled Wine Cranberry Sauce and Glazed Pecans

For the Brie
·     18oz. wheel of brie

For the Cranberry Sauce*
·     1bsg cranberries
·     1/2tsp – 1 tsp orange zest
·     1orange squeezed about 1/3 cup
·     3/4cup wine
·     1/2cup sugar
·     1/2brown sugar packed
·     1/2tsp cinnamon
·     1/8tsp ground cloves
·     1/8tsp nutmeg

For the Glazed Pecans
·     1/2cup pecans
·     1/4cup water
·     1/4cup sugar

Start by adding all of the ingredients of the cranberry sauce together in a sauce pot. Heat everything on medium-high heat and stir constantly until the cranberries start to pop. Then reduce heat and let it simmer until the mixture begins to thicken (this takes about 10-15 minutes).Set aside. [You can also make this a couple days ahead to save some time!]
Using a knife, make a circle on the top of the brie wheel with a ¼ inch border from the outside. Take a spoon and scrape off the white of the inside part of the circle.
In a separate pan, cook the water and sugar for the glazed pecans on high until the mixture thickens. Then, reduce the heat to low, add the pecans and toss to incorporate. You can then spread the pecans out on wax/parchment paper for it to cool, but I suggest putting it on the brie right away so to avoid this extra step.
Take the brie wheel and place it in an oven-safe dish.  Add ½ cup of cranberry sauce to the top of the brie. Then top everything off with the glazed pecans.
Bake the brie for 8-10 minutes, watching it carefully. Serve immediately and enjoy!
Tip: It’s best to bake the brie in the dish you want to serve it in. Transferring it to another plate is where it gets a little tricky!But if you must transfer it, bake it on parchment paper, move it to the new plate while it’s still on the parchment paper, then cut/tear the parchment paper around the brie (so the paper is technically still underneath the brie when you serve it). Unless you’re fantastic with a spatula, this is the best way to go.

*This makes way more cranberry sauce than needed for the brie, but I always like having leftover sauce for other dishes. If you don’t want to make that much, cut the recipe inhalf—you should still have a little bit left over.

Stephanie from Life Tastes Like Food loves to frost things and drink tea. When it comes to trying out new recipes,whipping out old ones, testing new restaurants or purchasing something random at the grocery store, spontaneity and lack of willpower to constrain herself come hand-in-hand. She believes there is a personal connection through food to life and that you can contribute many concepts from cooking and baking to life's everyday lessons.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Gluten Free Ginger Molasses Cookies

I don’t know about you, but every time I turn the corner there is a holiday treat awaiting my arrival.  And darn it – this is the first holiday cookie I've made! 
My roommate is gluten free so I decided to make a treat we could both enjoy.  I have always loved molasses crinkles and the Christmas issue of Bon Appetit had this recipe for Chewy Ginger Cookies.  I made a few adjustments to the recipe; I used gluten free flour and xanthum gum to substitute the all purpose flour, didn't use fresh ginger (too much ginger with the powder and crystalized ginger), and I replaced the shortening with butter.  There is just something about shortening that makes me feel gross.  I also used a little freezer trick to make this sticky dough a little easier to work with.  

I hope you enjoy this GF version and Happy Holidays!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Chocolate Covered & Walnut Stuffed Dates

My friends and I recently started game night.  Crazy it took us this long to make game night a regular event.

Nouns (hands down best game ever - we made it up studying abroad in Italy), Apples to Apples, Catch Phrase, and a little food/wine.  Great mid-week treat.

As an quick and easy treat I decided to make...

Chocolate Covered and Walnut Stuffed Dates
Note:  I decided not to quantify the recipe.  Make a little or as much as you want.  Figure about 1 walnut half per date.

Chocolate Chips
Orange Zest
Olive Oil  

Melt semi-sweet chocolate chips in a microwave.  Cut a slit in the side of the date and remove the pit.  Sauté walnut pieces in a little olive oil, salt, and orange zest.  Finely chop 1/4 of the walnuts.  Stuff dates with the larger walnut pieces pressing to close slit.  Dip half the date in melted chocolate.  Sprinkle a little finely chopped walnuts on top of the date.  Place date on parchment paper or foil.  Repeat with remaining dates.  Place dates in freezer for about 5 minutes or until chocolate has solidified.  

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving Weekend Snapshots

I went home and shared Thanksgiving (aka consuming mass amount of food) with family and friends.

But before we gorge ourselves we traditionally run in the Sacramento Run to Feed the Hungry.  I finished the 10k in 45:27 (7:19 minute mile pace), which placed me 6th in my age group and 40th in women overall!  

After shopping with my Dad on Black Friday, my Mom, Grandma, step Dad (Ron), and I looked through some old projector slides that we found at my Grandma's house.  So cool, right?  The top middle is my Mom and the middle picture is my Grandma; they are so beautiful!

I spent the rest of the weekend in San Francisco.  Ran the Steep Ravine/Matt Davis loop in Mount Tam with a friend from college, Matt.  Ate lots of food.  Ran to Hopper's Hands.  Hung a cute Crate and Barrel shelf.  Now I'm about to go watch some football with friends.  

I'm so thankful for my loving family and friends.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Salmon with Slow Roasted Tomatoes and Vegetable Israeli Couscous

Food tastes better when you know where it came from.  Food tastes even better when you hunt or grow it yourself.

The thrill of the catch in Campbell River made my salmon taste pretty good.  We can just forget about how you kill your new friend once he's in the boat.  Think small baseball bat and a good whack.  Slightly morbid/bloody/shocking the first time you see the kill, but sadly you just get used to it.  

The first time I tried on my yellow Hanson jumper suit in Campbell River I was shocked there was still blood on my pants.  Can't they rinse these suckers off?  Then, you get squirted with salmon blood a couple times and it's ends up being no big deal.  The lingering scent on my hands/clothes though is another story.  Even after washing the fish scent remained prevalent.  Attractive.  

I have a lot of salmon to eat by the way.  Want to come over?

I had a friend over last week to try my salmon out for the first time and I made Salmon with Slow Roasted Tomatoes over Vegetable Couscous.  For ease of making dinner on a weeknight I made the tomatoes the night before and then just reheated them at 300˚F for a little less then 10 minutes so they were warm.  It was the first time I made this dish and the couscous and tomatoes paired wonderfully with the salmon.  Stay tuned for more salmon recipes!

Salmon with Slow Roasted Tomatoes over Vegetable Israeli Couscous
Adapted from this Epicurious Recipe
Serves 2 (I had leftovers)

4 Roma Tomatoes sliced in half
1 tsp Sugar
1/4 Cup Olive Oil + 2 Tbsp Olive Oil divided
3 Garlic Cloves Chopped divided
Fresh Basil - 10 Full Leaves plus 2 Tbsp chopped
Fresh Rosemary - 2 Sprigs leaves removed
Fresh Thyme - 2 Sprigs leaves removed
2 tsp Lemon Zest plus juice from 1 Lemon
1 Cup Israeli Couscous
Chicken Broth (follow cooking directions for couscous using the correct amount of chicken broth)
2 Small Zucchini chopped into 1/4 moons
1/2 red Onion chopped to similar size as Zucchini
6 Kalamata Olives diced

Preheat oven to 250˚F.  Toss tomatoes with sugar and a generous amount of salt.  Place cut side down in shallow baking dish.  Cook garlic in 1/4 cup olive oil in sauté pan over medium heat until fragrant and pale golden, about 1 minute.   Pour oil over tomatoes and top with 10 basil leaves, rosemary, and thyme.  Roast until the tomatoes are tender, about 2 hours.
Remove from oven.  Turn oven up to 500˚F or see my note in post above.  Transfer tomatoes to serving platter.  Strain to remove herbs/garlic and reserve the olive oil.  Add lemon zest, lemon juice, 2 Tbsp chopped basil, and salt/pepper to taste to reserved oil.  Set aside.
Toast Israeli Couscous in medium saucepan over medium/high heat with 1 Tbsp of olive oil and a dash of salt.  When golden, add chicken broth following directions on package.  Cook until al dente and all liquid is absorbed.
Meanwhile sauté zucchini, 1 garlic clove chopped, and red onion in 1 Tbsp olive oil in saucepan over medium/high heat for about 10 minutes or until cooked.
Toss vegetables with couscous and reserved herb/tomato olive oil to taste.  I used about 1/2 the olive oil.
Rub salmon with 1 Tbsp olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Cook in oven at 500˚F for about 12 minutes or until cooked through.  
To serve:  Place couscous on plate, top with salmon and remaining herb/tomato olive oil and kalamata olives.  Place slow roasted tomatoes around the salmon.  Enjoy!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Deep Sea Fishing with my Dad

My Dad and I went deep sea fishing at the tail end of summer in Canada at a place called Campbell River.  It was on his bucket list (don't get me started on those because this post will never end) and if it's not on yours add it now because it is quite the adventure!

My Dad and I set out to have a blast and catch a lot of fish, which is exactly what we did.  We caught 12 Pink Salmon (about 4 lbs each) that are currently begin smoked and canned.  We also each caught 1 Chinook Salmon.  Chinook Salmon have many names such as Nookie or Spring in Canada or King here in the states.  These are the big guys that you wait all trip for.  My Chinook was 14 lbs and my Dad's Chinook was 15 lbs.  Sliced up and frozen in my freezer right now.  Ready for eating. 

When we weren't fishing we played a ton of cars, consumed cold beverages, toured a neighboring island, and rode mopeds.

For lodging we stayed at the Painter's Lodge (top left below) and we fished with the Oak Bay Marine Group (bottom left below).

It got a little cold out on the water.  The picture below on the left is funny because my Dad has his hands in his jacket and my hands are too cold to fix my hair (I know, excuses, excuses).  And we are both typically pretty good at handling cold weather!

My Dad with his Chinook...

and here's mine!

Yaniv.  A Peruvian card game you must try. 

Here's our tour guide showing me how to hold a dungeness crab without any regrets.  I whimped out from holding the little sucker.  

Pretty much a perfect summer getaway :)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Harvest Salad

My family has owned a walnut farm up near Yuba City since the mid 1800's (Go Small Farmers!) so let's just say I'm partial to walnuts over any other nut variety.  My dad also grows a few vegetables each year for himself and his friends/family and when I went home a couple weeks ago I snagged a few butternut squash, peppers, and a watermelon.  

I decided to make a Harvest Salad.  Super simple, especially if you cheat like me and buy pre-cooked lentils and pomegranate seeds removed from the fruit (thank you Trader Joes).  The salad also has roasted butternut squash and honey goat cheese.  Perfect sweet savory combination for a fall dinner.

Harvest Salad
6 Servings

2.5 Cups Pre-Cooked Lentils (or cook your own French Green Lentils following package directions)
2/3 Cups Pomegranate Seeds
2 - 3 Cups (I used a whole Medium Size Butternut Squash) cut into 3/4 Inch Cubes
3 oz Honey Goat Cheese crumbled
2 + 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
3 Tbsp Orange Muscat Champagne Vinegar (or use regular Champagne Vinegar or Red Wine Vinegar)

Preheat oven to 350˚F.  Toss butternut squash with salt, pepper, and 2 Tbsp olive oil.  Cook until tender, but still firm, about 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool slightly.  Meanwhile mix lentils, pomegranate seeds, 2 oz honey goat cheese, with 1 Tbsp olive oil and 3 Tbsp vinegar.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Toss gently with butternut squash.  Toss arugula with a small amount of vinegar, oil, salt and pepper and arrange on your serving plate.  Top with butternut squash/lentil mixture.  Finish with remaining crumbled cheese.  Serve.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Sauerkraut and Sausage Appetizer

I missed Oktoberfest with this post (since technically Oktoberfect is in late September / early October) but this is still a great appetizer year round!  Perhaps even for your upcoming Halloween party?!

I made this recipe:  Sauerkraut with Kielbasa Sausage from Epicurious.  Then instead of serving it as a meal I sliced the sausage, topped it with the sauerkraut, and then ran a heavy duty toothpick through both for a tasty-slightly messy-one-bite combo. 

I hope you are having a great week!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Pick Me Up Pumpkin Smoothie + Tervis Tumbler

The Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program recently gave me this awesome Tervis Tumbler (with a Foodbuzz Logo of course!).  These little suckers are double walled, which makes them perfect for hot or cold drinks.  Plus, they have a lifetime guarantee against breaking, chipping, etc.  Sounds indestructible, but it's also just a great cup.  I drink my fair share amount of smoothies (mostly some version of the Green Monster) and when I'm home all my smoothies end up in this cup mainly because my hands don't get cold.

So I've been seeing pumpkin everywhere lately.  Is it Halloween already?!  Crazy how time flies.  Last year I was an energizer bunny.  I think this year I might be Chucky.  Although I've told this to a couple people and everyone looks at me like I'm crazy.  'That's scary' they say.  Well, yes that would be the point.  Is it possible to pull off a cute Chucky?  Doubtful...

I purchased a can of on sale Organic Pumpkin from Trader Joes and decided to throw it in a smoothie concoction after a run the other morning.  Turned out to be delicious, although I could see how some of your taste buds would like it a tad sweeter.  I didn't add honey to my smoothie, but try my version out and if it's not sweet enough add a little honey!  No harm there. 

I call this a 'Pick Me Up Pumpkin' smoothie because it's healthy and yet somewhat dessert like.  Perfect to start your fall day off right!

Pick Me Up Pumpkin Smoothie
Serves 1

1/4 Cup Organic Pumpkin (I used canned - you could also puree your own)
1/4 Cup Non Fat Plain Yogurt
1 Date (pit removed)
1 Cup Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk
1 Frozen Banana
1/4 tsp (or a little more to taste) Pumpkin Pie Spice
1 Tbsp Ground Flax Seed
Honey to taste (I did not use honey, but if yours is not sweet enough add a bit of honey)
Chopped Walnut (topping)

Combine all ingredients in a blender.  Blend until smooth.  Add honey to taste.  Top with chopped walnut.

Monday, October 17, 2011

San Francisco 49ers Tailgate

My sister, Sarah, and her fiance, John, were in Napa for a wedding a couple weekends ago so we decided to go to a 49ers game on Sunday with my Dad.  John proposed to Sarah about a month ago and the whole family is so excited for the newly engaged and to welcome John to our family.  He's pretty much the best guy I've ever met, which means he's perfect for my sister :)  Congratulations Sarah and John!

I made double batches of the tailgate food because the day before the football game I had my girlfriends over for Fleet Week and figured it would be easier to serve the same food two days in a row. Niky posted about Fleet Week here if you want to check it out!

The 49ers game against Tampa Bay turned out to be an amazing win (48 to 3 - wow) and the 49ers beat Detroit on Sunday, which means their record is 5-1.  Holy Moly.  Way to go niners!

Tailgate Menu

Summer Corn Salad (I added red bell pepper)
Sausage with sauteed red onion and red bell pepper
Bean Salad/Dip with Crostinis (Bean Salad consisted of white beans, sun dried tomatoes, olives, feta, parsley, salt, pepper, olive oil, and lemon juice)
Guacamole (I like mine salty with plenty of lime juice.  Don't forget to leave the pits in to keep the avocados green)
Cheese with Fig Jam on Crostini

The spread for Fleet Week

Summer Corn Salad 

Bean Salad/Dip

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Cauliflower Soup topped with Sausage and Mushroom

I was thinking about cauliflower soup the other day (please don't judge your foodie friend over here) and I couldn't decide whether to top the soup with curried crunchy chickpeas, toasted walnuts, mushrooms, sausage, or something else.  I couldn't just serve myself pureed cauliflower and call it a day.  I eventually decided to top my soup with a sauteed mixed mushroom/sausage/thyme mixture.  I guess it just sounded like the best combo for my mood at the time.  

I mean sometimes you just need comfort food.

And this dish just happens to be healthy (and gluten free I might add).  Hmm, sounds like a comfort dish I could get used to.

Cauliflower Soup topped with Sausage and Mushrooms
6 Servings

2 Heads Cauliflower - Cut off florets
1 Yellow Onion roughly chopped
2 Tbsp Unsalted Butter divided
About 4 Cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth
8 oz Crimini Mushrooms sliced
4 oz Porcini Mushroom (or another wild mushroom) sliced
2 Chicken Sausage sliced (I used fully cooked Chicken Apple Sausages)
Cayenne Pepper
2 Tbsp Fresh Thyme roughly chopped + 2 Sprigs Fresh Thyme

Place cauliflower florets in a large pot and add water to almost cover cauliflower.  Bring to boil over high heat and continue to cook until tender when pierced with a fork.  About 10 minutes once the water is boiling.  Remove from heat and drain liquid.
Meanwhile saute onions with 1/2 Tbsp butter, salt, and pepper until translucent and golden.  
Combine half onion mixture and half cauliflower in a food processor with about 2 cups of chicken broth and puree until smooth.  Return pureed mixture to large pot.  Repeat with the remaining onion, cauliflower, and chicken both.  Turn stovetop on to low heat and season soup with salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper.  Add two sprigs of thyme and 1 Tbsp of butter.
While soup is reheating, saute mushrooms, 1/2 Tbsp butter, salt, and pepper over medium heat for about 5 minutes.  Once the water from the sauteing the mushrooms has almost evaporated add the sausage.  Continue to cook until sausage and mushrooms are cooked and browning; about 5 minutes.

Remove sprigs of thyme from soup.  Divide soup among serving bowls and top with the sausage and mushroom mixture.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Spicy Green Seafood Curry Soup

I'm not a big coconut fan and I think I'll blame it on Jamba Juice.  I worked at Jamba Juice for 2 years in high school and I used to have to reach into big bins for shredded coconut to make the Pina Colada smoothie.  The smell of coconut seems so overwhelming to me.  

But, I tried a variety of different curries in Thailand a couple years back and my palate has grown to love curry despite the main ingredient:  Coconut Milk.  Thai food in general is so amazing and the country is gorgeous.  It's definitely one of my favorite vacations spots and let's not even get into the scuba diving in Koh Tao!

Thankfully Thai curries are less coconuty and thinner in consistency than American versions; they probably use less coconut cream.  

The upper left of the picture below is a yellow potato chicken curry that our tour guide made us during a trek outside of Chiang Mai.

The upper right of the picture below is a green chicken curry that we tried at a restaurant in Chiang Mai.

More recently I had a green chicken curry that I enjoyed and it sparked my interest to try my own version.  So I sat down and perused Epicurious until I found this recipe for Spicy Curry Noodle Soup with Chicken and Sweet Potato.  Then I altered the heck out of it to make my own own healthier version, which you can find after the break below.  

Now just a forewarning.  This recipe takes a lot of ingredients and is not quick and easy like most of my recipes.  But, it lasted all week: lunch, dinner, lunch, dinner, lunch, dinner.  It was too much curry for one person, but what the heck. 

I paired it with rice noodles, rice, by itself, and quinoa.  All variations were delicious!