Healthy Broccoli Salad

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Nothing like a good, creamy, bursting-with-flavor broccoli salad dressing to fatten up an ordinarily good-for-you vegetable… Except, what if you could make the same delicious result and STILL be healthy about it? Could subbing the normal amount of mayo with whipped cottage cheese possibly work…? This recipe is actually the result of not having very much mayo in the fridge, not feeling like shopping, and whipping together something that turned out really well with a bunch of ingredients that I already had.

Easy, tasty, healthy, flavorful broccoli salad. I may not want to eat broccoli any other way ever again.

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Healthy Broccoli Salad

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 30 min
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 heads broccoli
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced almonds, toasted (about 10 min at 350 degrees)
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries (I used Craisins)
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk (I used scant 1/2 cup milk + lemon juice)
  • 1/2 cup cottage cheese, slightly strained using cheesecloth, beaten with whisk
  • 2 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
  • ground black pepper to taste
Directions

  1. Trim the broccoli, and chop it into large chunks. Then cut each chunk into thin slices. I cut the stems into thin slices, stacked them and cut the other way (makes thin matchsticks). I cut the florets vertically into thin slices, slicing from the stem up to the floret top (this helps them stay together).
  2. Toss the sliced broccoli with the toasted almonds and cranberries.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk the buttermilk, cottage cheese, vinegar, brown sugar, and salt until smooth.
  4. Stir in the onion and let marinate at least 10 minutes (to mellow out the raw flavor).
  5. Pour the dressing over the broccoli mixture, and add black pepper to taste. Stir the salad until the broccoli is evenly coated wit the dressing.
  6. Serve and enjoy! (Leftovers can keep covered in the fridge for 2-3 days)

Margherita Pizza

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Hunter picked up some beautiful flowers from the farmer’s market last week (I wish I had a picture of them in their full glory!). Lovely blues and oranges, perfect for fall. Extra awesome bit – there was a bunch of basil in the center of the bouquet! Smells great, and deliciously useful.

Tonight, now that the last of the flowers have wilted away, we plucked out the fresh basil to make some homemade margherita pizza. Which I’ve incidentally been craving for weeks. Yum.

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(Throwback to 2013 when Hunter and I were living together in Amsterdam and didn’t have an oven. How to make pizzas in a pan.)

Margherita Pizza

  • Servings: 8ish slices (we finished the whole thing in one sitting)
  • Time: 30 min
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 cup (plus up to 3/4 cup extra) flour, we used whole wheat
  • 1 packet yeast (1/4 oz)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp honey
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2/3 cup very warm water
  • toppings: olive oil, freshly sliced mozzarella, tomatoes, basil

(A couple other fun topping ideas: (1) pesto, shrimp, garlic, sautéed mushrooms, parmesan; (2) sauteed/smashed anchovies, capers, roasted red pepper, garlic, parsley, parmesan)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees, and line a baking sheet with lightly greased parchment paper.
  2. In a medium sized bowl, mix together 1 cup flour, yeast, and salt.
  3. Add the honey, olive oil, and warm water. Bring dough together with your hands, slowly adding extra flour as needed.
  4. On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough (HARD) 6-8 minutes, until the dough is nicely pliable and stretchy!
  5. Flatten and stretch out the dough with your hands (optional: throw and spin it like they do in the movies) and spread it out on the baking sheet.
  6. Bake for about 8 minutes.
  7. Remove from oven, drizzle with olive oil, and top with the sliced tomatoes and mozzarella.
  8. Bake another 8-10 minutes, until crust is firm and cheese is a melty gooey mess of deliciousness. Sprinkle fresh basil on top.
  9. Slice and serve hot!

Cheddar and Chive Biscuits

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Also inspired from my trip to Charleston, these yummy little biscuits are the perfect quick fix for a bite of Southern comfort, or for when you have a little extra time in the morning and feel like treating yourself. Much fancier of a breakfast than milk and cereal, but without too much extra hassle!

The best part is, you can take the basic biscuit ingredients and add pretty much whatever you want to them to create whatever biscuit suits your mood. This morning, I chose to go savory with cheddar and chive, PLUS topped ‘em off with bacon and avocado slices!

Now, where’s my sweet tea?

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Cheddar and Chive Biscuits

  • Servings: half dozen biscuits
  • Time: 30 min
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 cup flour (I used half all purpose and half whole wheat)
  • 1/2 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • pinch of sugar
  • 1/2 cup finely cubed cheddar
  • 1 tbsp chives (I used freeze dried, but fresh would be even better!)
  • 3 tbsp cold (or frozen) butter, finely cubed or grated
  • 1/3 cup milk + some additional as needed
  • optional: bacon, avocado slices, cracked black pepper
Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees, and prepare a lightly greased baking sheet.
  2. In a medium sized bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, cheddar cubes, and chives.
  3. Cut in cold butter using your fingertips (I grated in frozen butter). Work butter in with the biscuit mix quickly to avoid it warming up too much. Texture should be crumbly.
  4. Pour in milk and knead the dough several times with your hands. Add small amounts of milk as necessary to just bring the dough together.
  5. Grab a small handful of dough and stretch and fold in half 4-5 times. This helps create layers in the biscuits. Shape the sides to create round biscuits and place on baking sheet. Repeat until dough is gone.
  6. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until golden brown on the bottom and a toothpick or fork comes out clean.
  7. Optional: While baking, cook bacon and slice avocado
  8. Serve warm, and enjoy! I sliced my biscuits in half and added bacon, a slice of avocado, and some black pepper. Yumm.

Pickled Shrimp Toast

Gotta boast in this post… this toast with the most (inspired by Edmund’s Oast)… is just awesome.

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I ate at Edmund’s Oast the first night that I was in Charleston, and the place was so me! The menu features EO’s own house-brewed beers, artisanal and creative small plates, and beautiful charcuterie boards. I sat at the “chef’s counter” in front of a large, open kitchen, and it was so much fun to watch all the action of these chefs at work. Plus the best part – sitting at the chef’s counter entailed getting little presents from the chefs!

And the beers were great. I’m always a fan of craft home-brews, and was perfectly pleased with my Edmund’s Oast Olde Ale, a malty, caramel-y brown aged in a cognac barrel for 6 months. Also enjoyed their Farrago No 2, a blend of four distinct beers imparting notes of blackberry, orange, cocoa and oak!

But if the beers were good, the food was UNREAL… I treated myself to their cornbread with rich honey butter (yumm), and their “Pickled Shrimp, EVOO rye bread, aioli”. It was ridiculously delicious. Yelpers agree with me. And you definitely will too, after giving this adapted recipe a try!

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Now this recipe has a lot of ingredients… but when I decided that I was going to be making it, I realized that I pretty much already had EVERYTHING I needed at home! (Just needed to buy fennel, lemons, and rye bread.) If you’re like me and live with a fairly standardly well-stocked kitchen, the process is a breeze, and the final product is finger-licking good. If you’re not, you might be able to get away with skipping some of the herbs/spices or using substitutes. It’s worth it. Mmm as I type, already wanting more of that rye, sturdy and crisp, topped with a makeshift garlic aioli… the shrimp, plump and seasoned… the veggies, adding a nice crunch, some beautiful color, and a bright freshness… Enjoy!

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Pickled Shrimp Toast

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Time: 45 min prep, 24 hour inactive, 5 min assembly
  • Difficulty: medium
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Ingredients

  • 8 cups water
  • 1/4 cup + 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 yellow onion, halved
  • 2 tablespoons Old Bay seasoning
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined (I used a package of frozen shrimp)
  • 1 red onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 fennel bulb, roughly chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • lemon peels, grated from 2-3 lemons
  • 1/3 cup EVOO
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed parsley leaves
  • large pinch allspice
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 garlic clove, finely minced
  • rye bread slices
  • optional: fresh dill sprigs, or dried dill for garnish
Directions

  1. STEP ONE: POACHING In a large pot on high heat, combine the water, 1/4 salt, yellow onion, Old Bay seasoning, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then turn heat down to medium low and add the shrimp. Let shrimp cook about 3-4 minutes, then drain and remove the onion and bay leaves. When the shrimp are cool enough to handle, slice each piece in two, lengthwise.
  2. STEP TWO: VEGGIE PREP In a large bowl, combine red onion, fennel, red bell pepper, celery and sprinkle the teaspoon of salt on top. Let sit in room temperature about 30 minutes, tossing the veggies several times. Rinse the veggies and return to the bowl.
  3. STEP THREE: PICKLING PREP To the veggie bowl, add the shrimp, white wine vinegar, lemon juice, lemon peels, EVOO, parsley leaves, allspice, red pepper flakes, and cayenne pepper. Mix thoroughly to combine. Tightly pack mixture into airtight jars (I used four mason jars) and top off each container with some of pickling juice. Leave in fridge for around 24 hours.
  4. STEP FOUR: ASSEMBLY AND SERVE Take shrimp mix out and let sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes before you want to serve. Remove the lemon peels. Using olive oil, lightly heat rye bread slices in a pan until hot and crisp on both sides. I also threw in my minced garlic to cook them a bit. Mix garlic and mayonnaise (tada! quick and easy makeshift aioli). Top each slice of bread with mayo mixture and a generous portion of your pickled shrimp and veggies. Garnish with fresh dill sprigs, if you have them. Enjoy!

PERI PERI CHICKEN (I miss Nando’s)

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to Nando’s, my fave
a haiku dedication
please send me some sauce?

The first time I ever tried Nando’s was while on vacation in London and I immediately fell in love. The spicy Portuguese style chicken is so tender and flavorful in a huge, make-your-eyes-water-and-your-tongue-tingle kind of way. In a GOOD way. I was hooked. I made sure to go back to Nando’s for a second chicken platter before my flight out. That was two years ago, and I’ve missed this chicken terribly, BUT THEN(!) – Nando’s decided to open restaurant locations in Chicago this summer! Best news ever. I subscribed to the emails, eagerly followed the golden cockerel hunt (for free Nando’s for a year!), and made sure to visit several times before…

I moved to Ann Arbor, MI last month. There is no Nando’s location anywhere in this state. And then, one day I saw a tweet by Nando’s and it totally derailed me. Definitely spent a good half an hour reading about and salivating (longingly) over each of their sauces on their website. Decided right then that I NEEDED my Peri Peri chicken fix immediately, AND SO here we have it… my attempt at making homemade Peri Peri chicken!

…without Nando’s sauces. Or even bird’s eye chili, aka the central ingredient to the magical Peri Peri sauce. Or a grill. But hey! It actually turned out to be a really, really delicious experiment! And SO easy! Doesn’t really taste quite like Nando’s, but the chicken came out tender and so flavorful, and my insatiable craving is satisfied… for now.

But for real, this recipe is actually so easy. The sauce takes less than 10 minutes to make, then the chicken is marinated in it (I’d recommend marinating up to 24 hours – that’s how long Nando’s marinates their chicken!). Then you just pop the chicken in the oven, or throw it on the grill! So. Easy.

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Peri Peri Chicken

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Time: 10 min prep, 25 min cook
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • chicken (I used 8 thighs, other parts should work too!)
  • 8-10 bird’s eye chili (adjusted for spice level, I used serrano peppers as a sub)
  • 8 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • 2 tbsp paprika
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • large pinch salt
  • large pinch pepper
Directions

  1. Prep the peri peri sauce. Put all the ingredients except for the chicken in a blender and blend until smooth. Can adjust the amount of olive oil for a nice consistency.
  2. Use about a third of the sauce to marinate the chicken for a least a couple of hours. I slitted the chicken a little to really allow the marinade to get in there and add its flavor. I marinated for a full 24 hours.
  3. If you have a grill, use it! Otherwise, when you are ready to cook the chicken, preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Place the chicken on a foiled and (lightly) oiled cooking pan into the oven and bake for 15 minutes.
  4. Take the chicken out to baste with more sauce (about half of the remaining amount) and flip over. Let bake for another 10-15 minutes, until the chicken is browned and done on the inside.
  5. Drizzle the last bit of sauce on top (or serve on the side if it’s too spicy!) and enjoy!

Holy Kaprao!

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In August, I visited Thailand for a total of five days, and during that time, I ate kaprao a good three or four times. Fragrant, spicy spoonfuls of juicy ground pork, gooey fried egg and fresh basil. It’s addictive. It inevitably led to kaprao withdrawals back in Ann Arbor. Solution? Homemade kaprao in the lofty!

This dish is so fast and SO easy and SO delicious. Definitely going to be my go-to when I’m in need of a homemade Thai food fix.

Kaprao

  • Servings: 2
  • Time: 15 min
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground pork (chicken would be good too!)
  • large handful basil leaves
  • 5-10 chilli peppers, finely chopped (we used local farmer’s market cayenne peppers)
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • large pinch sugar
  • 1 fried egg, cooked rice

*Note – soy sauce, fish sauce, oyster sauce, and sugar is the base sauce for many, many Thai dishes! Once armed with these ingredients, you’re prepped to be able to keep making yummy Thai food, particularly noodles.

Directions

  1. Heat oil in a pan on high heat, then add garlic and chilli peppers (reserve a small amount for garnish) and stir for about 30 seconds.
    Wear an apron! Things get spattery :).
  2. Add ground pork and use a spatula to really smash the pork down into the oil, garlic, chillies. Break it up into small pieces.
  3. When the meat is almost done cooking, add the sauces and sugar (adjust amount to taste).
  4. Add the basil leaves, turn the heat off, and stir, letting the residual heat wilt the basil.
  5. Serve with warm rice (helps absorb some of the extra sauce and oil nom nom). Top with a fried egg and a sprinkle of fresh chillies. Squeeze of lime juice optional.

Super Superfood Smoothies

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Living in Ann Arbor has definitely had its (good) influence on Hunter (boyfriend, roommate). These days, he practices yoga, bikes everywhere, brews his own beer… and makes these superfood smoothies! Like, SUPER superfood. Beyond the normal protein powder, flax, chia seeds… Maca powder? Hemp powder? Spirulina…? He spends about half an hour whipping these up for four days’ worth of easy weekday lunches, pairing a green smoothie with one of the protein-rich smoothies each day. Easy to make, easy to pack, easy to drink between his classes. And this week, I decided to give them a try myself!

Verdict – surprisingly tasty, extremely filling (kept me full until dinnertime). The Chocolate Banana Maca might as well be a dessert. Berry Power is more similar to the smoothies I used to make (basically the berry taste and color is most prevalent) and the tiny bite of ginger is refreshing. Lean & Green isn’t so bad either, for a green smoothie! The avocados weren’t quite ripe enough for my batch, but Hunter assures me that the texture is usually quite creamy.

And the mason jars are cute.

(Note – these are not meant to be low calorie foods!)

Chocolate Banana Maca

  • Servings: 2 mason jars
  • Time: 5 min
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

combine in blender

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup yogurt (plain or greek)
  • 1 scoop whey protein
  • 1 tbsp maca powder
  • 1 tbsp cacao nibs
  • 2 tbsp flax
  • 2 bananas
  • 1tbsp coconut oil

Berry Power

  • Servings: 2 mason jars
  • Time: 5 min
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

combine in blender

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup yogurt (plain or greek)
  • 1/4 cup hemp powder
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 piece ginger (sliced)
  • 1 pound berries (I like using frozen blueberries)
  • optional: goji berries, camu camu powder

Lean & Green

  • Servings: 2 mason jars
  • Time: 5 min
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

combine in blender

  • 2 cups green tea (steeped)
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp spirulina
  • 1 avocado
  • 1/2 bunch kale/spinach
  • bit of extra water (as needed)