Spicy Cucumber Salad

Fortunately for me, I get to live out one of my lifelong dream once a month each month as my department’s event planner. I love planning parties, and not to brag or anything, I am actually really good at it! This may be because I love a good theme, but most likely attributed to my control freak ways. I love being in charge and telling people what to do and when and how to do it! Kind of strange for my part-time introvert personality, but oh well. Today I executed our August birthday party. I thought I was going to be the only person making something, but boy was I wrong! we ended up with not one, not two, but THREE types of banana bread! Shit was ba-na-nasssssssssss!

Themes. I was not feeling very creative when planning this party. My sole inspiration at first was a picture of a dog I found on the internet. He was wearing sunglasses and hanging by a pool. This dog was too cool for school & a day job! Then it hit me how I was not by a pool in sunglasses. Hmmmm. It’s hot outside, why not plan a cool themed party!

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Check out those awesome Paint skills…

You know what else is really cool? Cucumbers! People put them on their eyes to reduce puffiness. Cucumber infused water is a diuretic. And they are the hipster stage of pickles! I decided to combine my affinity for pico de gallo and the coolness of cucumbers to create a refreshing yet equally spicy cucumber salad!

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Ingredients

3 cucumbers

2 jalapenos, diced

1/2 purple onion, diced

1 bunch cilantro, chopped

1 can sweet yellow corn, drained and rinsed

the juice of 1-2 large limes

8 oz queso fresco

2 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp chipotle powder

1 tbs garlic powder

sea salt and fresh black pepper to taste

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The Process

1. Wash all of your veggies to make sure they are clean! Some of the produce I used came from the community market here in Denton. Local and organic, yay!

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2. Peel and halve your cucumbers lengthwise, then slice the halves. Also known as quartering!ImageImage

3. Chop and dice your onion, cilantro, and jalapenos. I prefer to work with the jalapenos last, that way my hands do not burn as much at the end of the process. I also added all seeds to the salad for spice factor.

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4. Douse all of your chopped veggies with spices and lime Juice and stir together with the corn in a large bowl.

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5. Queso freso is the cherry on top of any tex-mex dish, in my opinion. It’s alright to be generous! ImageImage

This salad is filling without leaving you feeling weighed down. The most unhealthy parts, corn and cheese, make it! They really add some sweetness to counterbalance the chipotle and jalapenos.

I highly recommend this recipe for a summer party! If you chop fast, you can really throw it together in 10-15 minutes! Oooo, now if only I had a margarita to go with!

XOXOXO

Roasted Carrot & Ginger Soup

If you read my blog you know as a fact that I am a soup lover. For those of you who are just tuning in, I am, as a fact, a soup lover! I don’t discriminate against hot or cold during the alternating seasons. Yeah, I think soup is good anytime, year round.

In preparation for a juice cleanse I would like to do (need to buy a juicer) and as a “detox” from all the deliciously horrible things I ate in Nola, I have been trying to stick to a raw foods diet…or eating clean…or whatever.  Ha. I don’t think that Taverna brunch could be considered raw… I will, however, classify wine and mimosas as juice!  Back on topic. Eating clean. God I hate that term. Looking over my cousin’s meal plans from her juice cleanse, one caught my eye- a roasted carrot soup! Honestly, I only like carrots raw, in stir fry, carrot cake, and carrot souffle. The word roasted changes matters. I don’t think I had ever had roasted carrots before. This recipe is a little bit more on the dirty side of eating!

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Ingredients 

4 large carrots, chopped

5-10 garlic cloves, the more the better in my opinion!

1/2 large sweet potato, chopped

2 tbs fresh ginger

the juice of 1/2 lemon

1 1/3 cups skim milk

1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth

2 tbs flour

2 tsp chipotle powder

sea salt and fresh pepper to taste

1/2 tsp ground mustard

3 tbs coconut oil

(optional) garnish: 1 jalapeno and 1/2 white onion sauteed in 1 tbs butter

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The Process

1. Preheat over to 350 degrees.

2. Peel garlic cloves and chop your carrots and sweet potato. I like to leave the skin on my sweet potatoes for that extra fiber! Carefully peel and chop your ginger. Watch out for those fingers! For some reason it’s always a close call when fresh ginger is involved!

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3. Toss your garlic and chopped veggies in coconut oil and lemon juice. Season with mustard, chipotle, and salt and pepper. I think the chipotle and mustard together do an adequate job of contrasting the carrot’s sweetness and complimenting the earthiness of the sweet potato.

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4. Roast your vegetables in the oven for about 50 minutes, tossing intermittently. Your kitchen should smell like Thanksgiving! Yum!

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5. Whisk together you flour, chicken or vegetable broth, and 1/3 cup skim milk.

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6. If you want to add something extra, thinly slice and saute a jalapeno and onion half. You’ll be glad you did!

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7. When the vegetables are finished, transfer to a blender with the flour, milk, and broth mixture. Blend, slowly add in the remaining milk, season with salt and pepper, and blend some more. Transfer to bowls and serve!

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I made some flat bread to go with because I was a carb fiend last week! Well, I crave carbs a majority of the time. I’d say this soup is guilt free for the most part! The ginger gives it a bit of an Asian flair! I ate my leftovers cold the next day. Carrot and ginger gazpacho!

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So tell me, are y’all soup time all the time fans? Or do you prefer winter|hot & summer|cold?

Hope your week is getting off to a great start!

Citrus and Spice and Everything Nice

(The everything nice being an abundance of cilantro and goat cheese.)

I judge a Mexican restaurant by three things: tortillas, guacamole, and salsa. If your restaurant strikes out on 2 out of 3 of these, chances are 98% to none, that I will no longer patronize your establishment. An example: 7 Mile Cafe in Denton. Old guacamole and marinara sauce salsa? Ummm, no thank you! They have since stepped up their freshness and salsa game, bumping them off my shit list. That sentiment is now semi-directed at Loco Cafe, but their biscuits make up for everything!

When it comes to guac, I am a total snob. I turn my nose up at that previously froze, pre-packaged crap they call avocado dip or guacamole spread. Some places, like Subway for example, disgrace the guacamole name. I may be slightly partial to their 50 cents per scoop guac because I swear it gave me food poisoning. They saying “if it’s brown flush it down” should also apply to avocados. I hate the smell and taste over an overly overly ripe avocado. <end rant>

Guacamole is one of my favorite snacks. Avocados are God’s gift to earth along with central air and <insert hot celebrity here>. Oh yeah, and they are one of those good fats! I’ll take a large avocado sprinkled with sea salt over a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Half Baked any day as long as I’m not PMSing!

That being said, guac makes for a pretty healthy snack. Something I can throw together in under 30 minutes time. Damn, I can make amazing guacamole faster than I can run a mile? (Sad but quite possibly true. I need to work on that!)

Here is my recipe! I love garlic more than vampire hunters!

Ingredients

2 large, ripe avocados

4 garlic cloves, diced

1/2 yellow or purple onion, diced

1 jalapeno, diced (seed if you don’t like spice)

a handful of cilantro but more than that would not hurt

the juice of half a large lemon

1/2 tsp ground cumin

sea salt, black pepper, and chipotle powder to taste

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The Process

  1. Deseed avocados and empty the flesh into a large bowl. I like to use the knife method, just make sure your aim is right!ImageImage
  2. Chop and dice garlic, onion, jalapeno, and cilantro. Add to bowl along with stated spices.ImageImageImage
  3. Mash together really well with a fork. Oh my! I think this is the most difficult recipe I have yet to post on my blog!Image

If you like your guac a bit creamier, I suggest adding a tbs of Greek yogurt. I am personally not a fan of tomatoes in my guac either. On top is whole different story!ImageImage

The tangyness of goat cheese accompanied with the smokey chipotle in the guac tast amazing together. Out of tortilla chips, I opted for the sea salt, dill, and olive oil Triscuits. Best decision of the day (besides this blog post).ImageImage

Tomorrow is the 4th of July! I hope you all have a very happy and safe holiday!

Another Tuesday, Another Tart

I could not for the life of me decide what to make for dinner/tonight’s post! All I knew was that I wanted it to involve butternut squash and goat cheese. You guys should see my recipe journal/planner. I scratched out squash tacos, squash pizza, squash and quinoa salad, even ramen was an option! Phew! Aren’t you glad I am a little bit more creative than that? (Though I make some bomb-ass-doctored-up-not-your-average ramen!)

I was lazy today. Didn’t want to make pizza dough. Didn’t want to make tortillas. Was there an easy in-between? Not to my surprise, there was! And It was in my freezer! I had one roll of puff pastry dough left! I thought to myself, ‘Another Tuesday. Another Tart.’ Image

Kate and I have been talking about how we have been wanting Indian food for some time now, and just last night, my good friend Rayne posted a homemade Indian food Instagram. Needless to say, I was inspired by these two ladies and a craving for curry.

I wanted to make a garlic and onion chutney, but I lacked tamarind. The next best thing was something I know how to do make with my eyes closed and maybe one hand (preferably the left) tied behind my back: salsa! Why don’t I just roast my garlic, tomatoes, and onion as I would normally do for any Mexican dish and just switch out the spices? Some coriander here. A little turmeric there. A heaping tablespoon of yellow curry powder. Wow, I basically made a masala sauce sans the cream! Curry combined with butternut squash and goat cheese, atop a flaky, puffy crust will make your taste buds dance to an Eastern tune. Everyone else won’t want to be tarty to the party!

Curried Butternut Squash Tart with Goat CheeseImage

Ingredients

1 roll puff pastry dough

1 egg, lightly beaten

1/2 butternut squash, peeled and thinly sliced

1 large onion, roughly chopped

6 garlic cloves

1 cup yellow sunburst tomatoes 

3 tbs olive oil

1/4 cup feta cheese

4 oz fresh goat cheese

fresh cilantro

1 tbs yellow curry powder

1 tbs black pepper

2 tsp coriander 

1 tsp turmeric 

2 tbs sea salt

paprika and chipotle powder to taste (for spice)

the juice of 1 large lemonImageImage

The Process

  1. Peel and thinly slice half of a butternut squash. Image
  2. In an oven safe dish, mix together onion, garlic, tomatoes, listed spices, and 2 tbs olive oil. Make sure all surfaces are coated with olive oil. Roast under a broiler for about 20 minutes. When finished roasting, pulse in a blender for 30 seconds with lemon juice. The consistency should be smooth, resembling salsa. ImageImage
  3. On a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, unroll your defrosted puff pastry. Spread your “masala” sauce sauce on the inside. Brush the edges of the dough with your beaten egg. ImageImage
  4. Layer the slices of butternut squash over the masala sauce. Sprinkle feta cheese on top, and fold the ends of the puff pastry over. Brush the edges with egg. Image
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 30 minutes. By this time, the pastry dough should have puffed up nicely. Image
  6. Returning to the cutting board, chop cilantro and goat cheese. Sprinkle on top of the tart and bake for 15 more minutes.ImageImage

And you are finished! So easy! Maybe that is why tart can be derogatory? Well in my kitchen, the easier the better! Happy Almost Fourth of July! ImageImageImage

Fish Tacos on Homemade Corn Tortillas

Do you guys want to know my favorite thing to eat? Alright I’ll tell ya!

Tacos!

I could seriously eat them any time of the day! Hailing from San Antonio, I know tacos. I know that a taco is not a taquito. I know a taco is not a burrito. I know that tacos are easy and pretty hard to mess up, but sadly it can be done. I was raised on tacos. As far back as I can remember, my dad has taken me to the best hole in the wall, mom and pop places. Chorizo and egg tacos on fluffy homemade tortillas with a big glass of sweet tea was my go to!

I was raised on breakfast tacos. Never had I ever had a fish taco until I moved to the North Texas area. Strange thing! But now they are one of my favorite things! Oh yeah, I used to be a flour only kind of girl Now I die over homemade corn tortillas that are thick and chewy.

Fish tacos are actually very easy to make! So easy for a quick, delicious lunch or dinner!Image

Ingredients (For One)

Prepared masa mix (Maseca corn flour, salt, lime juice, water, oil)

queso fresco cheese

1 tilapia fillet

1 large Ziplock freezer bag

lime wedges

chopped yellow onion, red bell pepper, and cilantro

spices to taste: cumin, chipotle, salt, pepper, garlic

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I normally make my masa from scratch- very easy! But in this case I took the easy way out and bought premade masa mix because I plan to make papusas at some point during the week. This cut out about 15 minutes or prep time. No need for a tortilla press either! Tortillas can be formed and pressed easily and mess free using regular kitchen utensils.

The Process

  1. In your hands, form masa mix into golf sized balls. Cut the sides of a large freezer bag and place the masa inside the middle of the bag. Image
  2. Using a pie pan or plate, press down on top of the bag to flatten. ImageImage
  3. If need be, go over plastic bag with a rolling pin. Open the bag and peel the formed tortilla off. Non-stick! Image
  4. Heat 2 tbs oil in a cast iron skillet and cook for about 45 seconds to 1 minute on each side. ImageImage
  5. In the same skillet heat more oil and saute your onions and peppers and fish fillet. Season with the listed spices to taste. Image
  6. Now all you need to do is assemble your taco! Tortilla, fish, sauteed veggies, cheese, cilantro, lime juice!ImageImage

Now that you know how to make corn tortillas, your taco possibilities are endless! Next I will teach you how to make flour tortillas. Enjoy!

Monday Comfort: Skillet Greek Yogurt Mac

After starting the day off on the wrong foot, I could already not wait for 4PM to roll around. I hadn’t even walked into the library before things went downhill! Not even talking about the bike ride! (Ha!) Monday called for some serious comfort.

 

Comfort. I believe the word is synonymous with a large ooey gooey bowl of macaroni & cheese.

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Honestly, I could not get that Gruyere Mac from the Libertine out of my head! Dallas was too far to go and these “All About Mac” chain restaurants suck. I could soooooo make this at home. I could also make it semi guilt-free! (Major emphasis on the semi.) Did you know that when a recipe calls for butter, milk, buttermilk, mayonaise, cream cheese, and/or sour cream you can totally sub in Greek Yogurt? I use it as a substitute in potato salad, coleslaw, alfredo sauce, white enchilada sauce, dressing, I could go on and on! Take a gander at this substitution chart. Where this recipe lacks in butter, it makes up for in a teency bit of bacon. If you leave that off, totally vegetarian!

Oh yeah, to make this even better, I baked it in my cast iron skillet for about ~25 minutes.

Ingredients

5 cloves garlic, minced

2 jalapenos, sliced

1/2 sweet yellow onion, diced

2 tbs olive oil 

1 cup mozzarella cheese

1 cup Monterrey jack cheese

1/4 cup Monterrey jack cheese (for sprinkling on top)

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

1 cup 0% Greek yogurt

16 oz or about 4 cups macaroni pasta

1/4 cup Italian bread crumbs 

Sea salt and pepper to taste

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The Process 

If you have ever made boxed macaroni that later asks you to bake it in the oven for a little bit then this recipe will be easy peasy. If you are horrible at cooking, you can still make this creamy dish that may have The Libertine green with envy!

  1. In a large pot, bring salted water to a boil. After water starts to bubble, add in macaroni and cook til al dente.
  2. While your water is heating up, slice and dice the onions, garlic, and jalapenos. If you do not like extra spice, discard your jalapeno seeds.Image
  3. In a well seasoned cast iron skillet, heat up your 2 tbs of olive oil. Add the onions, garlic, and jalapenos. Saute and season with salt and pepper. Image
  4. When the onions become translucent, turn the heat down to medium-low. Slowly add your cheese mixture continuously whisking so the cheese does not stick or burn. ImageImage
  5. When the cheese has melted, add the Greek yogurt and more salt and pepper. Continue to whisk on low heat until creamy. Image
  6. By this point your macaroni should be finished. After draining, slowly add the noodles to the cheese sauce. Fold the noodles into the cheese with a large spoon. Sprinkle your remaining Monterrey jack cheese on top and evenly scatter the breadcrumbs across the top. If you are feeling adventurous (As I was) dice up a slice of bacon and sprinkle that on top too! You’ll be happy you did. Add one last dash of salt and pepper and you will have heaven after roughly 20 min of baking!ImageImage

See how easy that was! A well seasoned skillet makes this dish non-stick, making for less scrubbing and an easier cleanup.

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And the use of Greek yogurt over butter and milk makes me eat more than just this little baby plate! Image

Oh Monday, you just got infinitely better in my book!

Roasted Cabbage & Potato. Soup’s On!

Oh hey! Remember that soup I briefly talked about in my first Friday Favorites post? See picture below.Image

Well, as promised and the whole point of this post, here is the recipe. Today I used cheddar cheese and red peppers to garnish rather than diced jalapeno and Swiss (above).

I take a lot of heat (literally) for liking soups in the summertime. My boyfriend made fun of me for slurping down a huge bowl last week after laying out at the pool. The temperature outside almost matched up with the temperature inside my stomach! I think this soup is good for all seasons because it tastes pretty good cold. That’s how seasonal soups work, right? Hot in the winter? Cold in the summer?

Whatever. Any kind of soup is good anytime of the the year!

After my supply of baby spinach dwindled away and I was left with only potatoes and onions in my produce stash, I decided to make a soup. I dreamed this up while laying in the blazing sun. Oh yeah, I had some cabbage that was going to go bad, too. Why not throw it all in together! Irish-German heritage unite! I came up with a Roasted Cabbage & Potato Soup. Image

Once you know how to make a soup base, in this case a cream soup, you can sub different veggies as you go! Cream of potato! Cream of cabbage! Creamed broccoli! You get the idea. This recipe can easily made vegetarian by using vegetable broth instead of chicken and not using that ONE slice of bacon. I actually make my chicken broth homemade so I don’t have to deal with all the salt and other bad things in canned food.

Ingredients

6 small red potatoes, cubed

1/3 green cabbage, about 4 cups roughly chopped

4 garlic cloves, crushed

1 tsp fresh rosemary

2 tbs olive oil

1 slice of bacon, diced

1/2 sweet yellow onion

3 tbs butter

3 tbs flour

1 cup water

1 can chicken broth

1 cup 2% milk

Seasoning mixture: 2 tbs sea salt, 1 tbs chipotle pepper, 2 tsp black pepper (all spices can be used more or less according to your taste bud’s preferences. 

Garnishes: sharp cheddar cheese and diced red bell pepper or Swiss cheese and diced jalapenoImageImage

The Process

This soup is pretty simple. The majority of time is dedicated to roasting your veggies. Then it’s just simmer time. Also, you will need a blender or food processor.

  1. After chopping your vegetables, place in an oven safe baking dish, toss in olive oil and top with half of your seasoning mixture, diced bacon, and rosemary. Roast in a preheated oven at 375 degrees for about 45 minutes.ImageImage
  2. About 15 minutes before you take your roasted veggies out of the oven begin to make your soup base! We’re gonna make a roux! Saute the chopped onions in the 2 tbs of butter over med-high heat. Be careful not to burn the onions. Whisk in flour. Whisk in remaining spices. Whisk in chicken broth. Whisk in water. Voila! You made a soup base! Doesn’t it smell amazing? Image
  3. Add your roasted vegetables to the soup base along with your cup of milk. Stir continuously so that the milk does not curdle. After about 15 minutes of simmering, you should be ready to transport the mixture to a blender or food processor.Image
  4. Pulse in the blender for about 5 seconds. You may have to do this in multiple steps. Pout into bowls and serve immediately with cheese and diced peppers! The cheese should melt after a few swirls with you spoon!Image

This soup is so deliciously hearty! The roasting, chipotle, and red bell peppers give it that Southwestern feel! Imagine this as the precursor to a huge salad with roasted corn, avocado, and grilled chicken! Why didn’t I make that? Until next time!Image