Chipotle and Balsamic Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Strawberries

Thursday, May 30, 2013

What can I say, roasted brussel sprouts is one of my favorite veggie sides and I have blogged about them before Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Crunchy Bacon. So when I tried this amazing alternative at a restaurant (Xixa in Williamsburg, Brooklyn) recently, I had to attempt to replicate it. I have to say, the results were great, tasted just like what I was trying to mimic.

All the quantities are approximate. This was enough to serve 2 as side.

4 cups of brussel sprouts halves with outer layer removed
3 tablespoons of aged balsamic vinegar
Chipotle powder (about 1 tablespoon-- more means more spicy)
2 tablespoons of oil (I used grape)
1 cup of strawberries quartered
salt to taste

Preheat oven at highest temperature. My Breville BOV800XL Smart Oven 1800-Watt Convection Toaster Oven with Element IQ convection oven goes to 450. I leave the baking pan in so that it's hot when the brussels are ready to go in. If you don't have a Breville get one, no really regular oven will do. 

Toss brussel sprouts in oil and salt. Reduce heat to 425. Roast about 15-20 minutes tossing occasionally. Add balsamic and chipotle powder. Toss well. Roast another 5 minutes. Add strawberries and roast another 1-2 minutes. 

Zucchini Ribbons Salad with Arugula, Avocado, Toasted Pine Nuts and Herb Marinated Goat Cheese

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

This salad is transformed from simple to fancy due to zucchini ribbons. No fancy gadgets needed, just use your veggie peeler to slice the zucchini lengthwise into thin slices. I sliced 2 zucchinis into thin slices using the veggie peeler, then cooked them for a few minutes in a bit of grape oil.  I did not use the middle that had the seeds, will reuse later.


2 zucchini's thinly slices
one table spoon of grape oil
a few tablespoons of pan toasted nuts (I used pine nuts)
goat cheese or shaved parmesan
**(I used marinated goat cheese (recipe by my talented friend Julia found here Marinated Goat Cheese  
but any cheese would do)
Salt to taste
1/2 an avocado
any other veggies you feel like using

For dressing:

1-2 Tablespoons of olive oil (I used oil from the marinated goat cheese)
Juice of 1 lemon

Slice the zucchini into thin long strips. Rotate when you get to the seeded part.  Disgard the seeded middle for another use.  Heat a bit of grape oil till hot. On a medium flame, cook zucchini strips about 2 minutes per side. Salt to taste. Place on a paper towel to drain. Wait till cool to add to salad.

Wash and dry arugula, add avocado. Toss with salad dressing, reserve a little to drizzle over zucchini.  Top with zucchini, nuts and cheese of choice. Drizzle with a bit more dressing.

Voila. Tasty, filling and healthy!

Salad of Warm Tarragon Garlic Roasted Portobellos over Arugula, Radicchio , Sautéed Ramps, Cherry Tomatoes, Red onions and Goat Cheese

Thursday, May 23, 2013

I am really glad that summery weather is finally upon us which allows me to go back to eating one meal salads for dinner. To me, salad should be enjoyable—full of color and delicious ingredients and this one definitely fits the bill.
And of course, the beauty of a salad is that there is so much flexibility in what you put in or leave out based on your taste.

Portobello Mushrooms:
2 large or 4 small Portobello mushroom caps
2-3 cloves of garlic sliced thin
2  tablespoons of butter
2  tablespoons fresh tarragon leaves (thyme would work as well)
Salt to taste

1)      Preheat oven to 400. I used my  Breville BOV800XL Smart Oven 1800-Watt Convection Toaster Oven with Element IQ , if you don’t have one, regular oven is fine of course.
2)      Wash and dry mushrooms. Cut them up into 2-2 ½ inch chucks.
3)      Add to a baking dish. I use this one by Le Creuset Stoneware 1-1/2-Quart 9-Inch Square Baking Dish, Cherry
4)      Scatter butter cup up into small pieces, garlic and tarragon over the mushrooms. Cover with foil. Bake for 10-15 minutes.
5)      Remove foil and bake another 20-30 minutes until mushrooms are tender, mixing occasionally and adding butter if needed.
6)      The mushrooms will release a lot of liquid as they cook. I incorporated some of the liquid into the salad dressing, first allowing it to cool off.

SALAD (add/substitute as you see fit)
4 cups of arugula
¼ red onion sliced thin
½ hear of small radicchio sliced thin
6-8 tablespoons of goat cheese
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1 bunch ramp leaves (optional but adds a nice touch)
If using ramps leaves, you will need 1 tablespoon of butter or oil

1)      Wash and dry arugula. Add radicchio, onions and tomatoes.

2)      If you are including ramps leaves, wash and dry them.

3)      Roughly chop and sauté in a skillet (I use this one by Le Creuset Enameled Cast-Iron 10-1/4-Inch Skillet with Iron Handle, Cherry in a little butter about 5-7 minutes.

4)      Add a pinch of salt. I allowed it to cool and did not dress it with dressing, just threw on top along with goat cheese and cooked mushrooms.

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3-4 tablespoons of slightly cooled mushroom liquid that resulted from the baking of mushrooms (optional)

1)      Wisk together. Toss with arugula, radicchio, onions and tomatoes. Top with ramps if using, goat cheese divided into small chunks and mushrooms.

Enjoy! This was a great dinner for my crew—filling and light at the same time.

Baked Lobster Tail with a Spring Salad of Arugula, Ramps and Shucked Sweet Corn

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

So as a savvy shopper who is also a big time foodie, I am always checking out sales at favorite places that I shop. I am a bit time fan of Fresh Direct (online food delivery service) and they don't  disappoint. Whenever I place my weekly order, I check out their "President's Specials". This week, I was thrilled--a sale on lobster tail, corn and ramps! Got all three and needed to somehow throw them together in a tasty and health conscious way!

Ingredients (Serves 3)
3 lobster tails, about 4 ounces each but bigger would have been even better
3 tablespoons of unsalted butter
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 tablespoons panko or break crumbs (I used whole wheat panko) 
Ian's Whole Wheat Panko Bread Crumb (3x9 OZ)

Remove your butter and allow it to become soft. If you are pressed for time, soften by microwaving for about 20 seconds.
Wash and dry your lobster tails. Next, you will need to carefully slice across the hard shell vertically (the long way) as well as across one or two times near the tail. This is a pain but will allow you to pill the shell back so that you can flavor the lobster tail while cooking it. There are many youtube videos showing you how to do this so if you are confused, go ahead and google for one.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. I used my Breville BOV800XL Smart Oven 1800-Watt Convection Toaster Oven with Element IQ but regular oven will do of course. 

Combine your softened butter with lemon juice and paprika. Mix well.

Place your lobster tails on a baking tray. I covered mine with foil to reduce clean up. Top with butter/lemon/paprika mixture. Spring panko on top--this will allow the butter mixture to stay in place on the lobster tail. Bake at 350 for about 7 minutes, broil for additional 2 minutes. Your lobster is cooked when it's a bright pinkish red.

I served this with salad but of course the options are aplenty-- rice pilaf, roasted or mashed potatoes, corn on the cob, linguine, etc.

Ingredients for Salad
5 cups of arugula washed and spun dried
Kernels removed from one corn
1 bunch of ramp leaves and ramp bulbs (washed, spun dried and kept separate)
Oil or butter for cooking ramps and corn
Salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon of brown sugar

Juice 1/2 lemon
2 tablespoons of ponzu or soy sauce Kikkoman Ponzu Sauce, 10-Ounce Bottle (Pack of 3)
1 tablespoon oil ( I used grape from Trader Joe's)
Mix well

Wash and dry your ramps. Separate leaves from bulbs. Roughly chop the leaves and set aside. Chop bulbs, you will cook them before the leaves.
Heat oil or butter in a skillet. I use this one Le Creuset Enameled Cast-Iron 10-1/4-Inch Skillet with Iron Handle, Cherry.  Add bulbs and a splash of broth. Cook about 8 minutes, mixing frequently. Add leaves and another splash of broth. Cook till leaves start to shrink and broth is absorbed. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Shuck corn. Heat oil or butter, add corn kernels, cook for about 3 minutes. Add a teaspoon of brown sugar and pan cook another 2 minutes.

Allow corn and ramps to cool a bit. Toss arugula with dressing. Top with corn and ramps. Serve with a side of lobster. This salad would also be great with shrimp, scallops or even a baked fish.


Baked Lobster Tail with Spring Salad

Lobster Tails with Butter, Paprika, Lemon and Bread Crumbs Before Going in the Oven

Cauliflower Roasted with White Truffle Oil

Monday, May 20, 2013

It doesn't get more simple and delicious in my book. This roasted cauliflower tastes decadent. So good that you will keep eating till it's gone. Absolute best straight out of the oven!

1 head of cauliflower cut into florets about 1/3 inch each, washed and well dried
3 tablespoons of oil of your choice. I used white truffle this time, have used grape in the past (all good)
Salt to taste

Preheat oven to 425. I use my amazing Breville Smart Oven to roast all my veggies (amazon link in side bar). Regular oven is fine too.

Toss your washed and dry cauliflower florets in oil. Add salt. Roast till nice and golden brown, about 1/2 hour. Mix occasionally to get it to brown evenly.

Serve straight out of the oven if possible or reheat on a hot skillet.


Lemon Ricotta Pancakes with Cranberries (Syrniki)

Sunday, May 19, 2013

I got this recipe from my friend Marina, a very talented chef and fellow blogger. This is her original recipe that I implemented with a few tiny modifications. Check out her fabulous blog and recipe here: Marina's Recipe for Syrniki.

I typically don't make traditional Russian food but these babies spoke to me because of the lemony addition of lemon zest. My gang is also not a huge fan of raisins so I substituted cranberries. And ALL around hit, even my picky 7 year old ate them with gusto.

I served with a berry sauce that make a few weeks ago for serving with french toast and froze for future use. The recipe for the Berry Sauce is here.

One 15 oz container of ricotta (I used part skim by Poly-0
3/4 cup of flour (I used whole wheat)
2 large eggs
1 cup of cranberries (soaked)
Pinch of salk
Zest of 1 lemon (use microplane to zest) 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
1 tablespoon brown sugar
Oil for frying (I used grape)


1) Soak your cranberries (or raisins) in 1 cup of hot water for about 10 minutes. Pour enough water to cover raisins. Continue other preparations.  Once finished soaking, drain and carefully pat dry. 

2) Combine ricotta, flour, eggs, salt and sugar in a large bowl. If using, add lemon zest and vanilla. Mix well. I use this micropane Microplane 40020 Classic Zester/Grater to zest my lemon (wash the lemon first).

3) Add cranberries. Mix.

4) Heat about a tablespoon of oil to a pan and let the oil heat up about 2 minutes. I use this 1o inch skillet Le Creuset Enameled Cast-Iron 11-3/4-Inch Skillet with Iron Handle, Marseille.

5) Wet your hands and form ONE round patty, about 2 inches in diameter and about 1/2 inch thick. If it falls apart, you will know to add more flour to the future patties. Mine was just right but you might need more flour depending on consistency of your ricotta (maybe about another 1/4 cup). Cook until golden brown, about 3-4 minutes per side. 

6) Remove and place on place on paper towels to absorb excess oil.

7) Serve immediately or save for later. Serve the russian way with sour cream, the russian healthier way with greek yogurt, or my way with berry sauce. I also serves some fresh berries on the side for a complete breakfast.

Super Easy Apple Cake

Saturday, May 18, 2013

You guys should know, I am really more of a cook than a baker. I rarely bake as I try to watch my figure and just don't want to have tempting goodies around. 
That said, I got this recipe from a talented friend and a moment of weakness, decided to bake it up. It was very tasty and super simple to make.

3-4 apples (I used granny smith)
~1/3 stick of butter 
4 eggs
1 cup of milk ( I use 1%)
3-4 tablespoons of sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
2/3 cup of flour (I used whole wheat)

1) Preheat oven to 400.

2) In a baking dish, melt a few tablespoons of butter--enough to cover the bottom of the dish. Add thinly sliced peeled apples, about 3-4 of them. I used granny smith.

3) Bake apples in the oven for 10-15 minutes.

4) While apples are baking, whisk together eggs, flour, sugar, milk, vanilla and cinnamon. 

5) Pour over apples, sprinkle with a bit more sugar and bake about 20-25 minutes till golden brown.

All done! I served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Fiddlehead Ferns in Butter and Lemon

Monday, May 13, 2013

Love trying seasonal ingredients. Got my hands on these fiddlehead ferns and of course had to attempt to make them.Results were great definitely will make again in a larger quantity.
Tasted similar to asparagus. I watched a few youtube videos trying to figure out how to make these. Usually these are served over pasta but we had them with brown rice and lamb chops instead.

Fiddlehead Ferns-- mine came in a pack of about 2 cups
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoon unsalted butter
Salt to taste

In a colander, wash your fiddlehead ferns really well. I also removed the bottom of the stem with the brown thingy--it looked rough and unappealing.

Bring pot of water to boil. Add your cleaned fiddleheads and allow to boil for about 2 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon into a pot of iced water. Allow to cool for a minute.
Drain on paper towels.

In a pan, heat your butter for about a minute or two.  I use this pan by Le Creuset, it's a favorite and fantastic  Le Creuset Enameled Cast-Iron 10-1/4-Inch Skillet with Iron Handle, Marseille Add fiddleheads and lemon juice.  Cook for about 3-4 minutes per side on medium heat till start till get brownish. Add salt to taste. 

Serve and enjoy!

Sunday Brunch: Poached Eggs, Roasted Potatoes, Ramp Leaves and OrganicBacon

Monday, May 6, 2013

Ours is a busy family and because of this, we often don’t get to eat meals together. Our favorite family meal is Sunday breakfast. Which is really becoming more brunch as the kiddos get older.
That combined with my poached egg obsession, gets you the lovely brunchy meal below.

Poached Eggs seem so simple but are actually tricky. I have watched a few YouTube videos and tried a few recipes till finally found this one that results in perfection. Not surprisingly, it’s by smitten kitchen
this entry shows pictures along the way and is the best step by step that I have seen.

If you follow this recipe, you will get that perfect poached egg, I promise! Well at least after a few botched attempts!
I will note that this has only worked for me by poaching eggs individually which is why husband gets only ONE instead of two.


Heat a pot with a few inches of water in it. You will need enough to COVER the egg.
Put a splash of vinegar in the water. This helps to tighten the egg, in my opinion, you do not taste the vinegar.

Heat the water till it’s hot but NOT boiling or simmering. You want hot water BEFORE it simmers. If it simmers, reduce the flame.

Break the egg CAREFULLY into a small dish or ramekin.

Make a whirlpool in the water with a fork or a spatula and very carefully slide the egg in the middle, continue to create the whirlpool AROUND the egg for a few seconds. Now leave it alone for a few minutes. If your egg gets stuck, CAREFULLY slide a spatula under for about 30 seconds. In about 2-3 minutes your poached egg should be ready.

Scoop it out with a slotted spoon. Let it drain on a paper towel. Serve.

For each additional egg, repeat above. Time consuming but so worth it!

I served with roasted potatoes, organic bacon by Applegate, ramps (wild leeks that are currently in season) and a flat bagel.


4-5 potatoes, washed, dried, cut into ½ pieces
Peel if the skin is not good, otherwise leave the skin
2 tablespoons of oil (I use grape)
Salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat oven to 425degrees. I use my Breville Smart Convection Oven—you will see it listed under my favorite products.
Otherwise, regular oven is fine. Toss potatoes with oil and salt. Roast about ½ hour till golden brown.

Wash and spin dry ramp leaves. I already used the bulbs earlier in the week so I only had leaves.
Heat a pan with a tablespoon of oil (I used grape). Add ramps, cook till wilted. Add a bit of salt.

Balsamic Maple Bone In Loin Pork Chops

Friday, May 3, 2013

3 bone in pork chops, about ½ inch thick
2 tablespoons aged balsamic
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons chicken stock
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Wash and dry pork chops really well. Salt and pepper on both sides.

In a small bowl, combine maple syrup, stock and balsamic vinegar. Set aside.

Add oil to your pan, heat till really hot. I used a grill pan but a regular pan is fine as well. I have this grill pan by Le Creuset which I love: Le Creuset Square Skillet Grill Pan
Add your pork chops to pan. Cook about 2 minutes and flip over to the other side. Cook another 2 minutes (more or less).
Do not overcook. Remove to a plate and cover. Add your mixture of balsamic, maple syrup and stock. Deglaze pan and bring to a fast boil. Add pork back to pan for a few seconds.
Serve immediately.

I served my pork chops with a side of roasted fennel. Recipe here:

Recipe adapted from

Roasted Curried Fennel

I have had fennel many times in salad but have never roasted it and this was so much better. Next time I will add a bit more curry for a bigger kick.

2 bulbs of fennel, sliced thin.
1-2 teaspoons of curry powder (depending on how spicy you want it to be)
1 teaspoon of smoked paprika
Salt to taste
2 tablespoons of Olive Oil
Cooking Spray

Preheat your oven to 425. I have been doing all my roasting, veggie and otherwise in my Breville Smart Oven. Highly Recommend it. If you are interested, link here.

Breville BOV800XL Smart Oven 1800-Watt Convection Toaster Oven with Element IQIt comes in several sizes. I have the big one which is perfect for my family of 4. If you don’t have one, regular oven is perfectly fine.

Spray oil onto your baking sheet. Combine spices and oil in a bowl. Toss with the fennel.

Roast about 15 minutes, flip over and roast another 10-15 minutes till golden.

Adapted from

I served with a Balsamic Maple Bone In Loin Pork Chops, recipe here :