Sunday, March 31, 2013

Braised Chicken Tacos

Here we go, my first post to our blog. Found this recipe a while ago on Pinterest and decided to give it a shot. At first I was skeptical about this recipe because the chillies used were authentic latin chillies which I had to google where to buy from. Once we found them, the suspense continued because I have never puree'd chillies before.
But this recipe just turned out to be simply delicious, S was out for drinks with her friends so I had the whole kitchen to myself (good and bad)... the good? have beers while cooking, the bad? I have to chop the onions myself ;)
Well anyway, two and a half hours later and three beers down - there I was, nervous and hungry as S walked into the door tipsy and starving. Oh I almost forgot, since S is a vegetarian (or so she claims to be on the outside), I did decide to throw win some tofu into the tomato and pepper puree  and cooked it ready for her in ase she decided this was one of the vegetarian days for her.

Braised Chicken Tacos
recipe from No Recipes
10 tacos


1 pound skinless boneless chicken breasts
1 1/2 small onions, sliced thinly
6 cloves of garlic, minced
3 dried ancho chiles
3 dried guajillo chiles
2 medium sized tomatoes, cut in fours
2 bay leaves
juice of 1 lime
corn tortillas
Chicken rub mix: mix salt, peper, taco seasoning or pizza seasoning (or similar ingredients)
1 ripe avocado


Generously rub the chicken with chicken rub on both sides. Add about 2 tablespoons of oil to a large heavy bottomed pot and heat until the oil is very hot. Brown the chicken in batches, until they turn a golden brown on one side before flipping. Transfer the browned chicken to a plate.

Turn down the heat to medium low, add the onions and garlic to the pot, and cover with a lid for 10 minutes. When you remove the lid, the onions should be wilted and cooking in their own juices. Use a wooden paddle to scrape up all the browned bits (a.k.a. chicken flavor) from the pan, then turn up the heat to medium high to burn off the liquid. When most of the liquid has evaporated, turn the heat back down and stir and continue to caramelize the onions until they are brown and glossy (another 20-30 minutes).

Meanwhile, tear up the chiles into small flat pieces and place them in a single layer on a sheet pan. Roast in a 350 degree oven until they are fragrant, but be careful not to burn them as they will become bitter. Transfer the roasted peppers to a bowl and cover them with very hot water. Once the peppers are soft, transfer them to a food processor or blender (make sure to not add the seeds from the roasted chillies -- otherwise the puree will be bitter) adding in about 1/2 cup of the water they were soaking in along with the big chunks of tomato. Puree the peppers and tomatoes until they form a smooth sauce.

When the onions are done caramelizing add the pepper puree, along with the chicken, bay leaf and lemon juice. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, then reduce the heat to the lowest setting, partially cover with a lid and cook until the chicken falls apart when prodded with a fork (about 1 hour).
When the chicken is done, use 2 forks to shred the meat. Serve with sliced avocados, fresh cilantro, lime wedges and tortillas.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Pecan Pie

Let's talk about pie. That delectable flaky crust. A filling of sugar and buttery goodness. And a dollop of ice cream to top it off.

Here's a favorite of hubby's. A treat for him for being extra supportive in our first few months as newlyweds.  

Clearly my pie-crust creating and rolling still needs a little work, but this pie filling is delicious enough to distract from a perfect crust. Add a scoop of toasted almond ice cream on top, and you have the ultimate indulgence.



Pecan Pie
pie crust recipe & directions courtesy Smitten Kitchen
filling recipe adapted from Allrecipes
1 9-inch pie. I'll leave it up to you to determine how many that will actually serve ;)

For the crust:
Rather than re-post, please follow the recipe & directions on the link posted above. Smitten Kitchen never fails me.

For the filling:
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
6 tbsp butter, melted
2 eggs
1 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup chopped pecans

Prepare your crust first. While the dough is resting, prepare the filling.

Preheat oven to 400*F. In a large bowl, whisk eggs until foamy and then stir in melted butter. Add the sugars and flour, and mix until combined. Then, mix in the milk, vanilla, and pecans.

Once pie shell is assembled, pour in the pecan mixture into the unbaked pie shell. Bake at 400*F for 10 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 350*F and continue to bake for another 30-40 minutes, or until the crust is a nice golden brown and filling is set.

Let cool for a few minutes before slicing and serving.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Asparagus + Tomato Tart

Even after making the delicious green soup, we had about half of our asparagus bounty remaining. After turning to Pinterest for some recipe pin-spiration, I noticed a trend of beautiful asparagus tarts. Most of the recipes I found involved puff pastry, but we had a box of phyllo that was feeling a little neglected in the freezer. So, after a lot of browsing, reading, gawking, (and becoming really hungry, as always seems to happen when I'm on Pinterest...) I went in the kitchen to make my own asparagus tart creation.

Working with phyllo dough is a labor of love. My patience in the kitchen was definitely tested. But, the as the end result shows, a few tears here and there are no cause for frustration. Channeling Paula Deen, I also realized a bit of melted butter fixes any torn-phyllo woes. And really, apart from the phyllo prep, this tart comes along so easy and it's so, so tasty. All the fuss is worth it. The result is a bit like a light, crunchy, sauce-less pizza. Cut into little squares, it's a great appetizer. Cut into bigger squares, it's a perfect dinner. And with toppings like tomato & asparagus, it screams SPRING.

Asparagus + Tomato Tart
3-4 servings as main course, more as an appetizer

9 sheets phyllo dough, defrosted according to package directions
1 tbsp butter, melted
1/4 cup onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
6 oz asparagus
2 tomatoes, finely sliced
3/4 cup grated cheese, I used a mix of gruyere & white cheddar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1 tsp italian or pizza seasoning

Preheat oven to 350* and lightly butter a baking sheet (I used a pastry brush). Gently place one sheet of phyllo dough on the baking sheet. Brush melted butter on phyllo sheet, and lay another on top. Repeat with three phyllo sheets. After brushing melted better on the third sheet, sprinkle with some cheese. Repeat this process until all 9 sheets of phyllo are layered. Once the tart base is made, roll all sides of the tart a couple times, to contain all the ingredients you're about to place on the tart. To build the tart, start by evenly spreading garlic and onion. Then, layer tomato on top. Sprinkle with all seasonings. Line asparagus on top of tomatoes, and lastly sprinkle the remaining cheese over it all.

Bake for about 30 minutes in the oven, or until phyllo is a golden brown color, and all the cheese has melted. Let cool for a few minutes before cutting into squares and serving.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Asparagus Soup

Spring is here! Here in SF, here's how we decided to celebrate the arrival of spring: with a hot cup of soup. We used asparagus, though. That makes it spring-like, right?

H introduced me to the idea of asparagus soup. And, while I'm a big fan of my green veggies, green veggie soup seemed like a wild (and weird) concept. I went with it anyway. Life is an adventure. Plus, we used the Blendtec, so no matter the end result, at least I knew the process of making it would be exciting.

The soup was a-mazing. Beyond all expectations. We gulped down every sip and licked our bowls clean.
Put any reservations aside, and make this. It's as delicious as it is healthy!


Asparagus Soup
2 servings (as a stand-alone dish); it will serve plenty more if using as an appetizer or side dish

6 oz asparagus, ends trimmed and cut into 1-2 inch pieces
1/2 onion, roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2 cups vegetable broth
1 avocado
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
Sriracha, to taste
1 tbsp gruyere cheese, for garnish

Heat oil in medium-sized skillet, and add onion and garlic. Saute until onions are translucent. Add asparagus to pan, and cook for additional 1-2 minutes. Pour vegetable broth into pan, and cover with lid. Cook until asparagus is tender (you can test the tender-ness by piercing the asparagus with a fork; when it pierces easily, it's done). Salt & pepper the mix. Once cooked, pour into Blendtec (or food processor, or use an immersion blender). Add avocado and hot sauce, if using, to Blendtec also. Press "Soup" button on Blendtec, and let the magic happen. If using a food processor or immersion blender, you'll want to continue to use them until you have a puree-like texture. Pour into bowls, and garnish with more hot sauce, if desired, and sprinkle with gruyere cheese.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Baked French Toast

Enjoying a lazy Saturday morning? Haven't had breakfast yet? Go make this. Even if it's the most productive thing you do all day, you will not regret yet.  "Baked French Toast" basically means you get to eat bread pudding for breakfast.

Every bite is heart-warmingly delicious. It's all the goodness of french toast without gloopy fingers and sticky pans.

Chocolate & Banana Baked French Toast
2-4 servings

4 slices bread (we used sourdough), torn into pieces
4 eggs
1 cup milk
1/4 cup sugar (white or brown, your preference. I used a little of both)
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt
2 bananas, sliced
1 tsp powdered sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 375*. Butter your pan of choice (I used a 9in pie pan). Arrange bread in single layer along pan. Place banana slices over the bread pieces, again in a single layer, if possible. In a medium sized bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together eggs, milk, sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla extract, cinnamon and salt until well combined. Pour mixture over the bread & banana, coating every piece. Push bread slices down into mixture with fork or spatula, to soak up as much liquid as possible. Place into oven and bake for 30min, or until a fork poked in the middle comes out clean. Let cool for a minute or two, then dust with powdered sugar. Slice and serve.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Honey + Beer Sauce, two ways

Usually we cook veggie at home, but every now and then, H finds a delicious sounding meaty recipe that must be made. Rather than make two separate dinners, I usually try and figure out how to make his newly found recipe veggie friendly.

So, sometimes we end up with two versions of the same dinner, one for and made by the carnivore (him) and one for and made by the herbivore (me).

We took a divide and conquer approach to this dinner.

This was tasty and that something-different we yearn to incorporate into our weekly dinner routine. I decided to make it a little extra gluttonous and serve it with mashed potatoes. Because, really, what doesn't taste better with mashed potatoes?

Honey-Beer Sauce, two ways: with Tofu & with Chicken
recipe adapted from So, How's It Taste?
4 servings

(note: we divided the amounts below in half, and cooked each half in a separate pan, to better and easier incorporate the chicken in one and tofu in the other. If you're going to make only chicken or only tofu double the amount of chosen protein listed below)

1/4 cup onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup beer (we used Newcastle, but any beer you fancy will taste great)
2 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1 tbsp honey
parsley, for garnish (optional)
6 oz extra-firm tofu, if using
2 6oz. skinless, boneless chicken breasts, if using

First, prepare your protein. If using tofu, remove as much moisture from tofu, and cut into cubes. Salt and pepper your cubes. If using chicken, salt and pepper your chicken breasts, coating both sides evenly.

Heat oil in pan(s). We worked side by side, one pan for tofu, one pan for chicken. Add your protein to the pan and cook until done. For the tofu, you'll need to turn the tofu occassionally to brown all sides evenly. For the chicken, you'll cook each side about 6 minutes, or until it's done. Remove proteins from pan once done. To keep our proteins warm, we put them in an oven-safe bowl and placed them in the oven at the lowest temperature the oven can be.

Return the now empty pan to heat, and add the onions. Cook until translucent. In a bowl, or small measuring cup, whisk together beer, soy sauce, mustard, and honey until combined. Add the mixture to the pan, bring to a boil and use a wooden spoon or spatula to scrape the edges and bottom of the pan to loosen any stuck bits. Cook until the mixture has reduced to about half of what it was originally. Return your chosen protein to the pan, and keep turning until it's well coated with sauce.

Serve with mashed potatoes (the gluttonous side), or a salad (the healthier side)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Pav Bhaji

After nearly a week of (rare) sunshine and happy days, we're back to what SF knows best: clouds and fog. Weather like this begs for comfort food.

We're both big fans of Pav Bhaji here (loosely translated to Bread + Vegetables). This was an out-of-the norm day of the week for this type of dinner. We usually turn to this dish when we have a mish-mash of vegetables left over from the week. It's the perfect dish to use up leftovers, you can incorporate pretty much any vegetable and starch into it! It's also the kind of dish that tastes even better the next day, so make sure you make a little extra. It's hearty, healthy, and so, so satisfying. Hence, comfort food.

Every Indian home probably has their own version of Pav Bhaji. So, let this recipe serve as a guideline. Work with it and make it your own. We rarely repeat the exact ingredients and method when making pav bhaji, it always depends on what's in the fridge!


Pav Bhaji
recipe adapted from our mothers :)
4-6 servings

1 onion, divided: 3/4 of it chopped finely, 1/4 of it sliced for garnish
4 cloves garlic, chopped finely
1/2 inch piece ginger, chopped finely or grated
1 potato, boiled & peeled, and cut into pieces*
1/2 cup frozen veggies, thawed in microwave*
2 tsp pav bhaji masala (can easily find this at an Indian store, or online)
1 tbsp butter
3 oz tomato paste (or 1/2 cup tomato sauce)
salt, to taste
Pav / bread (fluffy dinner rolls are the perfect substitute for actual pav)

Heat oil in pan. Add onion and saute until translucent. Add garlic and ginger, and fry until lightly browned. Stir in the thawed veggies and boiled potato. Stir until incorporated. Add pav bhaji masala. Stir. Add butter, and stir until melted and incorporated. Add tomato sauce and salt. Continue to stir, and if the bhaji appears too thick, add water as needed. Continue to heat and stir until desired consistency is reached.

To prepare the pav (bread): in a separate pan, melt butter on and place bread on top. Once it's lightly browned & toasted, and flip once to toast both sides.

Serve with sliced onion, lime wedges, and chopped green chilies.

*Protip: We've found we prefer to boil fresh vegetables and thaw frozen vegetables prior to cooking. This both saves time and eliminates the need to use a pressure cooker to bring the Bhaji together.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Stuffed Baby Bells

Let's continue with the theme of making meals with whats-in-the-fridge ingredients.

We haven't made it to the grocery store this week, but our knack for being resourceful has proved to be a strength in the kitchen.

This might be more of a side-dish than an actual dinner, but it was main-course worthy for us!


Stuffed Baby Bell Peppers
2 servings as main course, 6-8 servings as an appetizer

8-10 mini bell peppers, sliced in half, and de-seeded & de-membraned.
1 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup crimini mushrooms, finely chopped
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp crushed red chili flakes
1 tsp taco seasoning
1/3 cup enchilada sauce

Preheat oven to 375* F. On a baking sheet, drizzle olive oil over sliced bell peppers until each is decently oiled. Arrange bell peppers, open side up, on a baking sheet, and bake for 8-10 minutes, until edges are slightly browned and they are tender. Remove peppers, but do not turn off the oven.

While the bell peppers are baking, whisk together cream cheese, chopped mushrooms, chopped onions, and all seasonings in a medium sized bowl. For convenience, spoon this mixture into a ziplock bag, and cut a hole in one corner. This will serve as your piping bag to more easily fill the cavities of the bell peppers.

Once the peppers are removed from the oven and slightly cooled, pipe cream cheese mixture into each one until all the mix is used. Pour enchilada sauce over all the bell peppers, coating the peppers evenly.

Place stuffed peppers back in oven and bake for 8-10 minutes, until tops are slightly browned and cheese is bubbly. Let cool a few minutes before serving.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Kale + Pistachio Pesto

It's been a whirlwind of a week. Which, in terms of preparing dinners, has meant an everyday mission of: use whatever is in the fridge to make a creative, delicious, healthy meal. Luckily for us (and for you!) we had quite a few successes.

We're 100% aboard the kale band-wagon. It's so versatile, and when prepared properly, so delicious. Here's attempt number one to entice you, fellow reader, to also try the goodness that is kale.

This recipe sort of came together on a whim, and we decided it was worthy-sounding enough to inaugurate our Blendtec (a generous wedding gift)! It made the blending and chopping process a BREEZE. Pesto was made in a matter of seconds, people, seconds. I'm a big fan, already. If you don't have a Blendtec, a blender or food processor will serve the purpose just fine.

Kale & Pistachio Pesto
recipe adapted from here, in the Blendtec cookbook
4-6 servings

1/3 cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic
2 cups kale, roughly chopped
1/4 cup pistachios, shelled and roasted
1/3 cup cheese (I used feta since we didn't have Parmesan on hand)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper, optional (if you like it spicy!)

In the order listed, add olive oil, garlic, and kale to blendtec. Pulse 6-8 times, until kale appears further chopped. Add remaining ingredients in the order listed above, and pulse again for 6-8 times until all ingredients are combined and you're left with a bit of a puree-like mixture. If it appears too dry, add a bit more oil and pulse 2-3 times more. To store, cover and keep refrigerated. It will last for up to 3-4 days.

Serving Suggestion:
On Day 1: Pesto over spaghetti, with the addition of grilled tomato & mushroom.
On Day 2: Pesto over bread: spread 1 tbsp of pesto onto bread, then toast.
On Day 3: Pesto scrambled eggs. Cook the eggs, and then mix in the pesto. Winner of best combination!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Orange + Yogurt Pancakes

Big news, folks: we're moving to suburbia! Our offer was accepted on a beautiful home in San Jose, and we'll be making the migration from the big city in the next couple of months. We're super excited. Especially for: more space, actually being able to hang pictures on the wall, our OWN washer & dryer, and a large backyard -- perfect for growing fruits & veggies.

On one of our recent visits to the home for an inspection, the current owner gave us a parting gift of a bag full of oranges from OUR soon-to-be backyard!

Wanting to put these to good use, we came up with this little breakfast treat.


Orange & Yogurt Pancakes
7-8 medium sized pancakes

1 cup pancake mix (I'm still going through a Costco-sized bag of Krusteaz Buttermilk Mix)
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup yogurt (homemade, greek, or full-fat, for best & fluffiest results)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp orange zest, for both the batter and garnish
powdered sugar, to taste

In a medium sized bowl (or large measuring cup with spout), whisk together pancake mix, orange juice, yogurt, vanilla extract, and half of the orange zest until just combined. Be careful not to overmix, as the more you mix, the less fluffy the pancake. It's OK to have lumps!

Heat a skillet on medium heat, add butter. Pour pancake batter onto pan, in desired shape and size. After a couple minutes, flip and cook both sides evenly. Transfer to a plate and top with remaining orange zest and powdered sugar.

Enjoy with syrup! For added orange flavor, mix 1 tbsp orange juice with maple syrup & heat briefly in microwave. Pour over pancakes.