Saturday, December 21, 2013

Chia Seed Pudding with Toasted Coconut + Pomegranate + Pistachios

If you would've told me 20 years ago that I could eat the chia seeds from my Bart Simpson Chia Pet, I would have looked at you like you had two heads.  Turns out these little seeds are quite the powerful source of nutrition.

Chis seeds have become a staple in my pantry for the past year.  I like to sprinkle them in my smoothies, add them to salads and best of all, make the quick little pudding you see above!

When chia seeds sit in a liquid, they become gelatinous...which in turn satiates your cravings.  Just a small amount will make you full!  Which is perfect for the mornings when you need a quick and healthy breakfast.  I usually make a variation of this in a small mason jar so I can grab-and-go on my way to work.

Along with the piles of presents I need to wrap and cookies to be baked, we are going to have quite a busy weekend.  Tonight is our 8th annual Little Black Dress (LBD) Party.  My girlfriends and I throw it every year and it is always a blast.  We have friends coming in from all over the country to celebrate and I can't wait to see everyone!

I hope you all have a lovely weekend!

Chia Seed Pudding with Toasted Coconut + Pomegranate + Pistachios
2 cups almond coconut milk blend (plain almond milk is just fine)
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons chia seeds
1 pomegranate, seeded
1/4 cup coconut, toasted
2 tablespoons crushed pistachios

Mix the almond milk, syrup and vanilla together in a bowl.  Add chia seeds and whisk to combine.  Place mixture in refrigerator and let chill for at least 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spread coconut evenly on a sheet pan.  Bake for 3-5 minutes, keeping a close eye in it and flipping/stirring it around at least once.  Remove from oven and let cool.

Break open a pomegranate and remove the seeds.  I like to do this over a bowl of water, that way the seeds will sink and the membrane pieces will float to the top.  Skim off the floaters and drain the seeds.

Place pistachios in a bowl and crush.

Remove pudding from refrigerator and transfer to individual bowls if desired.  Top with toasted coconut, pomegranate arils and crushed pistachios.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Chocolate Chip Hazelnut Scones with Nutella Glaze

If you are a regular on this blog, you'll see that I'm not a huge sweet fan.  Nine times out of ten, I will pick savory over sweet.  It's not that I don't like sweets, I just am not a fan of anything that is so sugary it makes my teeth hurt.

Last weekend, on our way out of the market, a vendor gave Matt a sample of a cherry scone.  He immediately asked if I could make a chocolate version.  Challenge accepted.  I was actually going to just make these with chocolate chips and a vanilla bean glaze. Then he came up with the idea to add hazelnuts and top with Nutella.  And because of his genius suggestion, we officially struck scone gold.

I love these because the scones have just a touch of sweetness.  And the Nutella glaze... need I say more?

Sending a huge thank you out to my friend Allison who bought this dish for me just because. Check out the adorable owl that adorns the side... how fitting!  

Chocolate Chip Hazelnut Scones
2 1/4 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons cold butter
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup hazelnuts, chopped
2 tablespoons cream to brush the tops

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, add the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Mix until combined.  Chop the butter into small squares.  Add butter to flour mixture and mix on low until the pieces of butter are the size of peas.  You can also do this with a pastry cutter or by squeezing it through your fingers.

In a separate bowl, mix the buttermilk, cream, eggs and vanilla.  Add to the dry ingredients and mix until the dough comes together.  You might need to use your hands and knead it in the bowl to pick up the flour at the bottom of the bowl.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and pat dough with your hands to form a large disc about 2 inches thick.  At this point, you can wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate or freeze it to bake at later time.  If baking now, cut the dough into 6-8 even triangles like a pizza pie.

Place the scones on a parchment or Silpat lined sheet pan.  Brush the tops of the scones with a little cream.  Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool for at least 30 minutes.

Nutella Glaze
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon Nutella

In a small bowl, add sugar, cream and Nutella.  Whisk until a glaze forms. Once scones have cooled, use a the whisk to drizzle glaze over the tops.

Consume immediately and try not to finish them in one sitting!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Oven Roasted Ribs + Homemade Rub

Can you feel it?  The wondrous anticipation of the Christmas holiday.  I love it.  Everything about the weeks leading up to Christmas makes me feel all warm inside.  It's the only holiday that there is an entire season dedicated to one day.  Slowly but surely I've been making my way through my to-do-list, feeling very accomplished with each task I cross off. Being crunched for time, I needed a recipe that was low maintenance and easy to make.  I give you my oven roasted ribs.   

I have some good news for you.  Barbecue is not just for the summer!  You can make fall-off-the-bone ribs right in your oven in the middle of a snow storm. That's exactly what I did this what I did this weekend.   






And so easy to make as well!  I'm a sucker for good barbecue.  On road trips, if we see a hole-in-the-wall place that says "Authentic BBQ", we are stopping.  Although these ribs were not cooked for 18 hours in a smoker with hickory wood, they are pretty fantastic.  Just what the doctor ordered for a cold, blustery day!  

I usually make a bunch of this rub to have on hand.  Keep in in a small Tupperware container and it stays good for a few months.

Mix the baste.  This just adds another layer of flavor.

Baste the ribs.

Cover with the rub.

The longer you can let sit with the rub, the better.  I let mine sit overnight but aim for at least 1 hour.  Throw them in the oven and forget about them for 3 hours.

After 3 hours, remove from oven and baste with your favorite barbecue sauce as well the drippings from the pan. Put back in the oven for 30 minutes.

Rib Rub
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
1 tablespoon granulated onion
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Mustard Baste
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons liquid smoke

3-4 pounds spare or baby back ribs
1/2 cup of your favorite barbecue sauce

Line large sheet pan with foil and drizzle lightly with olive oil.  Place ribs on pan and brush lightly with mustard baste on both sides.

Time to rub.  I normally use a spoon to dust the ribs with the rub.  You might not need it all and don't want to contaminate the spices with raw meat fingers.  Spoon the mixture on both sides of the ribs and rub in well, being sure to get it underneath any pockets of meat.  If you have time, let the rub sit on the meat in the fridge for at least 2 hours.  Overnight would be even better.  

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Remove ribs from fridge, place in oven and roast for 3 to 3 1/2 hours.  Remove from oven and baste with barbecue sauce and juices in the pan.  Place back in oven and cook for an additional 30 minutes.

Remove from oven and the ribs will be fall-off-the-bone good!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Coconut Chicken Soup

What a week.  From California to Texas to the Ohio, it seems like the entire country is experiencing snow storms and sub-zero temperatures.  Although it took me one and a half hours to get home from work, there's nothing better than finally getting there.  Walked in the door, turned on the tree lights, put on comfy clothes and slippers and warmed up this soup... 

I am obsessed with Thai food.  And soup but you already know that.  Almost every Friday, Matt and I go out for Thai food.  We call it "Friday Thai-day".  This soup is my variation of Tom Kha, the classic Thai coconut chicken soup.  It is the prefect balance of sour + salty + sweet + spicy.  I realize there are a ton of ingredients, some of which you might not have in your pantry, but if you want a future in Asian home cooking, make a small investment and they will take you far in your Eastern cuisine!  

Coconut Chicken Soup
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 red pepper, thinly sliced
1 knob of fresh ginger, thinly sliced
1 carrot, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 cups chicken stock
3 cans light coconut milk
6 cloves garlic, smashed
1 lime, peeled and juiced
1 stalk lemon grass chopped or 1 tablespoon lemon grass paste
1 Thai chili, halved
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon sriracha
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 small can water chestnuts, sliced
1/2 pound chicken tenders
1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
rice noodles

First, thinly slice the onion, red pepper, ginger and carrot relatively the same size.  Place a large stock pot over medium heat and add the oil.  Add the prior vegetables to the pan and cook for five minutes.  Pour in stock and coconut milk and turn heat up to medium high, bringing contents to a simmer.

Add the garlic, lime peel and chili to the pot.  Next add soy sauce, fish sauce, sesame oil, sriracha, and salt. Finally, add the water chestnuts, chicken, mushrooms and honey.  Simmer for at least 30 minutes.  Remove the chicken from the pot and slice into thin, bite size pieces.  Put back in pot.   Squeeze in the lime juice and remove the aromatics (lime peel, garlic and chili).

Soak the rice noodles in warm water.  Just before ready to serve, add cilantro.  Drain the rice noodles and place a handful in a soup bowl.  Ladle soup over noodles and serve.

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