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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Cream Cheese and Green Chili Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Happy hour drinks landed a  few friends at our house for some wii, a game of darts and a final round of libations.

It was one of those nights when the fridge was nearly void of food; thankfully we have thousands of restaurants just waiting on stand by to bring us much needed nourishment.

The downfall of the delivery system is the 60 to 90 minute wait. Snacks were need stat!

Armed with cream cheese and the remnants of a pumpernickel snack loaf, simple grilled cheese sandwiches were already in the works. I then found a small can of green chilies in the cupboard, just the thing to take these cheesy morsels to the next level and tie us over until the delivery boy made his way to us.

Nothing complicated. Nothing fancy. Just peppers and cream cheese melted together on toasted bread. But there is something fat and happy about tipsy snack making.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Beet Burger

I like to test out different eating styles just to see how my body reacts to them. Recently I decided to give up meat and dairy and gluten. Self torture is one thing, but implementing food limitations on other household members is a whole different story.

Mealtimes have become interesting at our house. For the most part, I create dishes that Dave can easily add cheese too, and in some cases meat. I also created a large batch of homemade buns that I put in the freezer for handy additions to his portion of the meal.

With the basics covered for Dave, it leaves me pretty open to create anything I want. Today I decided to create a veggie burger, something he could easily top with cheese and place on a bun.

I started with a zucchini because it seemed the most versatile; any veggie that can pose as a dessert can't be a bad thing! So a little zucchini, some beets, garlic and seasoning salt all mixed together nicely. The real struggle is the binding ingredient since I'm not using gluten.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Lemony Asparagus with Fried Yolk and Egg White Pancake

There was an old Parisian chef who argued that an egg could only be properly prepared by cooking the yolk and the white separately and then bringing them back together to serve.

This idea ran through my head as I stared at a carton of eggs and a bunch of fresh asparagus wanting to concoct a breakfast with a twist.

Cooking the yolk and white separately seemed like it would ultimately just create a fairly basic fried egg. So I began to whip the egg white with a little spoon of mustard; then I poured that in a hot, buttered pan and cooked it until it was brown. After flipping my make-shift egg cake I added the yolk to the pan and let it all cook for a minute.

It was just the creative twist I was looking for. The whites do get an interesting texture similar to a super light frittata that I didn't love by itself; but it was a great back drop to the lemony asparagus with the runny yolk gooing all over it.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Flavored Butter: Sun-dried Tomato and Herb Butter

 One of my favorite late night bar snacks is a trio of butter and salt with a side of bacon at 694 Wine Bar in Chicago. Three amazing butters from three different regions sprinkled with three equally stunning salts. Oddly enough, three of us meet there late at night about every three months to indulge in this cholesterol-raising treat.

My second favorite butter appetizer is at Cyranos Bistro. This flavored herb butter is delivered along with a basket of warm bread and it is finger licking delicious. Give me an order of the herb butter along with a house made pate and I'm completely fat and happy.

With a party approaching, I wanted to create a touch of restaurant essence at home. With only one butter choice on hand it was an easy decision to make a flavored butter. The plan was to create a  butter spread for my homemade buns with the option to add thin slices of ham for a full sandwich. It needed to enhance the meat and also stand on its own melted into a warm slice of bread without overwhelming either.

This is when random condiments in the fridge come in handy. A few sundried tomatoes for depth, a little parsley and lemon to lighten it up and a touch of honey to add sweetness - this butter is fantastic!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Recipe Swap: Chocolate Avocado Chipotle Tequila Popsicles

After taking a month off from the Recipe Swap, we are back in full force to kick off the first weekend of summer with our individual remakes of a Chocolate Mint Pie.

My first inclination was to make an inside out pie in the form of a crunchy mint truffle using the homemade creme de menthe left over from my shamrock shake adventure. Days before this post was due I received an invitation to a Top Chef Drink party ... being held at my house!

Visions of glasses smudged from smoldering rosemary, concoctions bubbling with pop rock inventions and deconstructed cocktails swirled in my head. The only thing I knew for sure was that I didn't have a lot of time to create the winning drink AND prepare for the party.

I toyed with chocolate and mint in a drink but I couldn't get past the girly martini stigma surrounding those flavors. A frozen cocktail felt a bit better, but it needed a savory edge, something almost spicy. And it needed a filler. The obvious choice was a Greek yogurt until I remembered a chocolate avocado shake I once made. Avocados are green and so is mint, seemed like a fair swap.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Quinoa Salad with Orange Mustard Dressing

Plainly put - life is busy. There are many days I'm just worn down and don't feel like cooking. Those days I'm thankful to keep a pot of cooked quinoa in the fridge, nuts in the cupboard and vinaigrette ingredients for easy fixing. Quinoa is a great substitution in place of rice or any grain really. Toss in a few extra vegetables, a little dressing, serve it on warm on a bed of fresh lettuce and you have a fancy salad.

I've boasted about the benefits of protein-packed quinoa numerous times on this blog before so I'll spare you all that dribble again. Quinoa makes for a nutritious meals and is versatile for every day.

It comes in a variety of colors too: red, black, orange, purple or ivory. There is no nutritional difference in the various colors though some say the red quinoa has a chewier texture.

In this salad I used black, red and ivory quinoa just because whole foods had them mixed in a dry goods bin at a great price. Using a mixture of colors just gives a little definition to the salad.


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