Sunday, May 29, 2011

Bandwagon Baking: A Memorial Day Treat!

Everyone knows that the fashion world goes through trends. {Some obviously better than others.} But did you know that the culinary world does, too?

Don't let those fancy chefs fool you; they get swept up into trends just like you and me. When you read as many cooking blogs and food magazines as I do {and log as many hours watching Food Network}, the trends are pretty easy to spot. Here are just a few food trends that have had their 15 minutes of fame in the past few years {some still holding strong!}:
The list goes on and on.

I try not to knock these trends until I try them, although some are so ridiculous {who doesn't need a giant, expensive slab of pink Himalayan salt???} for the average home cook that they are better left in the hands of upscale gourmands.

Me? I prefer accessible. Convenient. Adorable. Basically, this:

Yes, this is a mini Pie-on-a-Stick. And yes, I did jump on the food on a stick bandwagon. {Twice now, but who's counting?} Take one look at this and tell me you could've resisted.


I am loving the "Skewered Revolution" I'm seeing right now in the culinary world. Think beyond kebabs, corndogs, and toasted marshmallows, people. We're getting creative here. {See: Exhibits A & B}

I needed something portable, individual, and easy to bring along to a barbecue this weekend, and these cute little pies were just the ticket. Plus, check out how my mad skills with a paring knife helped me make them patriotic for the Memorial Day weekend! ;)

I have got to say, folks, I'm enjoying this trend quite a bit. I won't be the least surprised if this one sticks around. {Bwahaha!!! I didn't even mean to go there. But I did. :P}

Happy Memorial Day Weekend to you!

Mini Pies on a Stick
Adapted from: Bakerella, filling recipe from Taste of Home

You'll Need:
Store bough pie crust {if you're feeling very Martha & not in a rush, go ahead & make your own.}
Lollipop sticks (sold at craft stores)
Cookie cutters

For Filling:
1/3 cup sugar
2 cups frozen cherries
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cups water
1/8 cup cornstarch
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

In a large saucepan, combine the sugar, cornstarch and salt. Add the cherries, water and lemon juice. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Remove from the heat; let cool.

Assembling Pies:

I could explain it all to you, but honestly, Bakerella did such a good {and cute!} job letting her little one demonstrate how to properly assemble the pies on a stick. If she can do it, you can do it! Check out the photo tutorial. :)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Sneakily Sinful Smoothie

Pssssst.... over here. : : : looks over shoulder: : : It's me, with a quick post that you'll be glad you read. Remember a while back when I mentioned how I was getting a little extra fruit & veggies in my diet from healthy smoothies? Well, I have come to love these tasty, frosty concoctions. They're really easy to make. Sometimes I even throw in a handful of raw spinach for some extra vitamins. And it may be just starting to feel like Spring in most places, but it's already steamy hot over here in Florida, so they serve as a great way to cool down.

My husband has been very proud of me for cranking up my fruit  & veggie intake and incorporating so many new, healthy things into our meals {ok, exclude that whole Creamy Grits moment. Momentary lapse. ;P}. But I have a little secret: Every once in a while, I still sneak in some yummy treats during the week. Sometimes it's a little more obvious than other times {read: The giant hunk small piece of pound cake topped with a scoop of vanilla bean gelato I'll enjoy for dessert every once in a while.} Other days {mostly on days when I don't feel like being lovingly lectured about addictions to sugar...}, I quietly sneak some decadence into my smoothie. And it is worth. every. sip. :)

Everything in moderation, I say. This is just the mid-week treat needed to give me that push towards Friday, and I'm not ashamed to admit that I enjoy it. Besides, there's still fruit involved. But let's say we just keep this one between you and me. ;)

Peanut Butter Chocolate "Chimp" Smoothie
{Ok, ok.. I know that's super cheesy. Give me a break.}

You'll Need:

1 1/2 medium bananas
1 1/2 cups ice
1/4 cup rice milk {or whatever milk you use}
1 1/2 tbsp peanut butter {as in every other recipe, you can use whatever nut butter you prefer}
1-2 tbsp chocolate chips {I used milk chocolate, but you can use whatever type you like}

1. Put all ingredients in blender. Blend until smooth.

2. Sip & savor. Yum.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Most Delicious Grits. Ever.

Alright. Last week was lovely and all with the pineapple theme and everything. But enough about fruit. Let's talk about some real - bad for the figure, good for the soul - food. Just for a moment.

As you can see from my post title, there's no beating around the bush when it comes to this grits recipe. They are, indeed, the most delicious grits. Ever.  At least I think so. If you don't think so, I can promise you that you will at the very least agree that they're really, really good.

Stop making that face. I know it doesn't look all that great. There isn't too much you can do photographically for a mushy dish devoid of all color. Get over it and put a spoonful in your mouth.
Until very recently, I didn't even care for grits. {Hard to believe for a girl who was raised south of the Mason-Dixon line, I know.} For as long as I can remember, grits have been one of those things that looked awfully tasty, but when I'd eat them I'd only get as far as the "awful" part. To be honest, I thought they were kinda gross. Sort of bland and gooey, and in Alton Brown's words, not exactly "Good Eats". And then something happened.

I tried the grits at Corner Bakery Cafe when I was living in Texas. {As it turns out, I'm not even sure they have these "life changing" grits on the menu anymore. Sad.} Suddenly, I understood all the fuss about grits. They were creamy. Cheesy. Delicious. {And I'm pretty sure they maxed out one's daily allowance of fat and calories. But, damn, were they good.}  And so began my love affair with cheesy grits.

Fast forward to three weeks ago, during our trip to Gainesville to move my little sister out of her dorm for the summer. After we finished up the move, we were famished and determined to get some good college town food {didn't everything taste better in college??} before hitting the road again. Upon recommendation from our friends, we ended up at The Flying Biscuit Cafe and proceeded to wait an incredibly long time to be seated. {It was graduation weekend, brunch time, and around the time that college students finally roll out of bed. We asked for it.} I'm pretty certain you could have served me shoe leather and I would have thought it was delicious.

Everyone made their selections, and I decided to sample a few things that looked good by ordering a bunch of sides. {Best idea ever, by the way.} My sister, Mary, was sitting across from me and we decided that since I didn't order grits she'd let me try a spoonful of hers. The grits hit the table and I wasn't impressed by the look of them. They didn't look cheesy. They were awfully white. And I was pretty sure they wouldn't come anywhere close to my beloved Corner Bakery grits. WRONG.

What I discovered was that those clever souls at The Flying Biscuit used white cheddar cheese {copious amounts, in fact} giving no indication from mere glance alone that these grits were packing a seriously cheesy punch. Corner Bakery, who??? {I also discovered that I had practically eaten all of Mary's grits.} Smitten, I decided to look up the recipe and recreate this fabulousness when I had Mary and her boyfriend Luis over for brunch. It wasn't a fluke {or my ravenous hunger at the time}. They really were as amazing as I thought.

So, my friends, I give you the recipe to the most creamy, cheesy grits you will ever put in your mouth. {And if they aren't, would you please give me the exact location of the place that makes them creamier and cheesier than this? Thanks in advance. ;)}

Creamy Dreamy White Cheddar Grits
found at Atlanta Journal Constitution online, and halved, even though you'll probably want to eat 12 servings all by yourself.

  1. In a saucepan, combine water, half-and-half, salt and white pepper and bring to a boil.
  2. Slowly pour grits into boiling water while whisking the entire time. (Watch out for splattering; mixture is very hot.)
  3. Reduce to low heat and continue to whisk often, until thick and completely smooth, about 10 minutes.
  4. Add cheese and stir gently until cheese melts. Whisk again to combine.
  5. Turn heat off and allow grits {and yourself} to rest 5 minutes. {All that whisking is sure tiring. But worth it. I promise.}
  6. Add butter and stir until completely smooth, silky and shiny.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Pineapple Week Finale: A Sweet {Not-too-Naughty} Treat

Well, here we are. The end of Pineapple Week and the course I am always anxiously awaiting: dessert!

I must, however, caution you about today's recipe. It isn't what you think it is. I mean, it is a cupcake, yes, but not the type of cupcake you're probably hoping for if you're anything like me. I decided to post it anyway because I am always talking about healthy eating and good-for-you foods and blah, blah, blah and so it seems sort of hypocritical to entice you to try something as dissuading as a Brussels sprout, and then WHAM, hit you with a butter-laden dessert to undo all the good you've done all week long. Sigh.


So, I have a dessert recipe to share with you that you don't actually have to feel too guilty about.* There is some sugar involved. And some rum. And a little bit of butter. And some cream cheese. So I wouldn't pass it up altogether because when it all comes together in the form of Pineapple Coconut Cupcakes, it isn't half bad. In fact, I'd say it's pretty good.


This cupcake is kind of like Pina Colada's goody-two-shoes sister had one too many sips of a Malibu and pineapple one night and decided to cut a little loose. Sure, her halo may have been a little crooked in the morning but no real harm was done. ;)


I found this recipe at Eating Well's website. It is originally for a layer cake, but I made a few alterations here and there and it worked out perfectly for cupcakes. {About 20 of them, to be exact.}

I hope you've enjoyed this week's pineapple recipes as much as I've enjoyed sharing them! Have a great weekend. :)

*If you aren't feeling particularly well-behaved and would like a more decadent treat with similar flavors, head on over to The Pastry Affair and check out this cupcake!


Pineapple Coconut Cupcakes
found at Eating Well

Cake:
  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour, preferably white whole-wheat
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup nonfat buttermilk, or milk
  • 2 tablespoons coconut rum, or dark rum
  • 2 teaspoons coconut extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs, separated (reserve 2 yolks for pineapple curd)
Garnish:
  • Fresh pineapple, cut into small chunks
  • 1/4 cup toasted coconut
For Cake:
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a cupcake pan with liners.
  2. Sift cake flour, whole-wheat flour, baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt into a medium bowl. Beat 3/4 cup sugar, honey, vanilla, oil, and melted butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Whisk buttermilk (or milk), rum and coconut extract in a small bowl. With the mixer on low speed, alternately mix the dry ingredients and the wet ingredients into the sugar mixture, starting and ending with dry ingredients and scraping the sides of the bowl as needed, until just combined.
  3. Clean and dry the beaters. Beat 3 egg whites in a medium bowl with the electric mixer on medium-high until soft peaks form. Gently fold the whites into the batter in two additions until just combined. Fill cupcake tins about 3/4 of the way with batter.
  4. Bake cupcakes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 18-20 minutes. Cool in the pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Turn out and let cool to room temperature, about 1 hour.
Pineapple Curd:
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 6-ounce can pineapple juice, (3/4 cup)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 5 teaspoons cornstarch
For Curd:
  1. Whisk 2 egg yolks, pineapple juice, 1/4 cup sugar and cornstarch in a small saucepan.
  2. Cook over medium-low heat, whisking constantly, until thick and beginning to bubble, 3 to 5 minutes. Let cool completely. Refrigerate a few hours or overnight to allow to thicken.
Frosting
  • 12 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese, (Neufch√Ętel), at room temperature
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon coconut rum (or coconut extract)
For Frosting:
  1. Beat cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar, & rum (or extract)  in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy.
To Assemble Cupcakes:

1. Using a sharp paring knife {or apple corer, as I did... what? It worked PERFECTLY!}, cut out a well in the center of each cooled cupcake to make room for filling. Discard {or snack on} scraps.

2. Fill a piping bag or zip top plastic bag with Pineapple Curd. Snip off bottom corner to create an opening. Carefully squeeze a small amount of curd into each hollowed out cupcake, filling to top of opening, just until level.

3. Fill a piping bag fitted with a plain tip or desired tip {or zip top plastic bag} with Cream Cheese Frosting. Pipe frosting onto cupcake in desired manner.

4. Garnish cupcakes with a light sprinkling of toasted coconut and a small piece of fresh pineapple.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Pineapple Week: A Dud of a Burger & A Fish Dish

We've made it to Thursday! That is certainly something to celebrate. {Along with the fact that I have finally gotten around to posting for today... at 11:33pm. Please excuse me if this post makes no sense at all.}

So, the pineapple recipe I'm sharing with you today is not actually the recipe that I intended on sharing. The recipe I thought I would be sharing sadly turned out to be a bit of a dud. Pineapple Teriyaki Burgers. Sounds kinda yummy, right? Well, they weren't. Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that I liked the idea of these burgers, but I didn't follow the recipe. At all.  As in, mine probably included 2 of the ingredients actually listed as part of the original recipe {using various high sodium powdered mixes just didn't sound very appealing.}. And pineapple was one of them.


Steve actually ate them quite happily. {Does this really surprise you?} I, on the other hand, was slightly grossed out by the fact that underneath the pretty ring of grilled pineapple, I was left with sort of soggy, un-browned turkey breast meat. {Think: Turkey burger with tan lines.} Blech.  Truthfully, the taste wasn't that bad, but I couldn't get over the little un-browned detail.  If I were to make them again, I'd probably just grill a piece of pineapple separately and add it as a topping after the burger was properly browned all over. Oh well. You live and you learn.

Anyway, the replacement recipe I have for you is much better. Mostly because it only requires a few ingredients {which is good because my eyes are closing as I type}. And it's yummy, too.

Grilled Swordfish Steaks with Pineapple Mustard Glaze
Adapted from a Food Network recipe
  • 2-4 swordfish fillets
  • 1 1/2 cups pineapple juice
  • 1/2 cup white wine vinegar {or rice vinegar}
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
For Glaze:
Combine the pineapple juice, vinegar, soy sauce, ginger, and brown sugar in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the volume is reduced by half, about 30 minutes. Add the mustard and cook an additional 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the lime juice. Let cool.

 For Fish:
Heat the grill to medium-high. Brush fish with olive oil and season with salt and pepper on both sides. Grill on one side until lightly golden brown, about 2 minutes, brush with some of the Pineapple Mustard Glaze. Flip over, brush with more of the glaze and continue grilling for 4 to 5 minutes, for medium doneness. Remove from the grill. Serve warm.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Pineapple Week: A New Twist on an Ancient Food

Have you tried quinoa yet? I feel like it's become extremely popular in the past year or two, which is probably a good thing because it's quite versatile and good for you.

Quinoa is a funky little seed. It's not actually a grain, although my brain always wants to group it in that category. Supposedly, it was one of the three food staples of the Inca civilization, so it obviously withstood the test of time. If we judge quinoa's beneficial properties by the contributions of the Incas, it's no wonder it has been called a "supergrain". {Which, once again, reinforces that grain imagery even though it isn't one. Are you confused yet?} They did some pretty amazing stuff ahead of their time, so perhaps we should take a cue from them and eat a little more quinoa and watch a little less reality television. ;)

Because of it's mild taste, quinoa works perfectly with almost everything you pair it with, which is pretty convenient. The pineapple-y dish I'm sharing today {courtesy of Sing for Your Supper}, is a nice change of pace for a quinoa dish. The pineapple adds little pops of sweetness throughout the quinoa. I call this a "side dish" because I'm sure a boy appetite would prefer some meat somewhere in the meal, but I could probably eat this as a main dish and be perfectly satisfied, as I find quinoa hearty and filling {and yet surprisingly light}. Then again, I can also eat cheese and crackers for dinner. You be the judge. :P


I hope you've enjoyed learning a little bit about quinoa {I bet you didn't think you'd get a little history lesson today, now did you?}, and that you'll try out some different recipes with this non-grain! Here's a link to some quinoa recipes in addition to the pineapple recipe below!

Pineapple-Cilantro Quinoa
Adapted from Amy at Sing for Your Supper

You'll Need:


1 cup quinoa, thoroughly rinsed {Ancient Harvest pre-rinses theirs, so technically you can skip this step even though I still rinse it out of habit.}
1 1/4 cups chicken broth {or water}
1 cup fresh pineapple, finely diced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt


In a medium saucepan, bring the chicken broth and quinoa to a boil. Stir in salt. Reduce heat to medium-low, and cover. Simmer until liquid is mostly absorbed, about 10-12 minutes. 

Stir and cover, turn heat down to low, and allow to steam for 5 to 8 more minutes until broth has completely absorbed. Fluff with a fork.

Stir in pineapple and cilantro.  Serve warm, or enjoy cold as a 'salad' of sorts.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Pineapple Week: A Juicy Appetizer

I don't know about you, but I love chips and salsa. Except I'm a little bit of a salsa snob. I am convinced this snobbiness developed when I was living in Texas and had access to some amazing Mexican food. {I am also snooty when it comes to margaritas.}

In my opinion, one of the key characteristics that all yummy salsas have in common is freshness. On occasion {and in desperate circumstances} I will succumb to jarred salsa, though I am almost always left disappointed when I do. And really, there's just no reason to go for the jarred stuff. Salsa is so easy to make on your own {and much healthier too without those icky preservatives}.

In sticking with this week's pineapple theme, I've decided to share a recipe for Fresh Pineapple Salsa that shows up pretty frequently around our place. My husband can destroy a large container of this stuff; it is truly a sight to behold. I can understand why. It's fresh, juicy, and a guilt free snack {except for the million tortilla chips you'll probably use to scoop it up with. Those aren't so guilt free, so choose wisely. ;) }



You know what else is cool about this salsa? It goes really well on top of grilled fish, especially Mahi. Or as a nice topping for tacos. Or, heck, you can just eat it by the spoonful if you prefer.

I'm giving you the basic rundown of the recipe I use, but feel free to add in any other things that you think would be tasty, such as chopped jalapenos if you like some heat or fresh corn. No matter what you add to it, I can guarantee you'll never go back to the stuff in the jar again!

Fresh Pineapple Salsa
a Kitchen Prep original recipe

You'll Need:

2-3 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 cup pineapple, diced
1/2 medium white or red onion {whichever you prefer}, diced
1 lime
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
pinch of sea salt

Directions:

1. Add diced tomatoes, diced pineapple, diced onion, and chopped cilantro to a medium bowl. Mix to combine.

2. Juice 1 lime over the mixture.

3. Add a pinch of sea salt. Mix to combine.

4. Serve with tortilla chips, on top of fresh fish, or as a taco topper. Enjoy!

Monday, May 16, 2011

A Week of Pineapples!

I hope you had a nice, relaxing weekend. Our weekend consisted of a lot of lazying around, eating, movie watching, beach time, and even a little bit of organizing. It's amazing what you can accomplish {or not accomplish, as the case may be} when you are actually home.

While I was organizing my pictures and blog posts for the week, I noticed an interesting theme developing: Pineapples! Three recipes, to be exact, that starred this delightfully sweet, spiky fruit. And so, it got me to thinking that perhaps I'd make this week all about pineapples.

When I think of pineapples, I think of vacation. Scooped out pineapples boasting rummy cocktails, topped with cute little umbrellas. Sweet, juicy fruit salads brimming with tropical fruits. Icy sorbets served in pretty glasses. It's no wonder pineapples are one of my favorite fruits. I can practically smell the suntan lotion.

While pineapples are obviously quite sweet in nature, they make fantastic additions to traditionally savory dishes. They have just the right amount of tang to add that unexpected kick to a salty dish, and just the right amount of natural sugar to work it's magic in desserts and drinks.

Plus, pineapples are known as a symbol of hospitality and warm welcome. Who doesn't love a friendly fruit?! :) 

Today, I'm kicking off Pineapple Week with a drink recipe that is refreshing and simple, and even a little on the healthy side thanks to the green tea. Throughout the week, I'll post an appetizer, main dish, side dish, and dessert, that all incorporate... you guessed it... pineapple! Whether you decide to buy a whole pineapple and cut it up yourself or you take the easier route and purchase it conviently chopped and ready to go, I hope you'll give some of these pineapple-y dishes a try and add a little taste of tropical to your week!


Pineapple Mint Green Tea Cooler
an original Kitchen Prep recipe! {but inspired by a recipe found in Alicia Silverstone's The Kind Diet cookbook.}

You'll Need:
  • 4 cups hot water {not boiling, this will make green tea release tanins that make it bitter}
  • 3 green tea bags, I used Bigelow All Natural Organic Decaffienated Green Tea
  • 1/2 cup all natural pineapple juice such as Ceres, sold at Whole Foods
  • 2 limes {1 juiced, 1 sliced into wheels}
  • A handful of fresh  mint leaves
  • 1/2 cup all natural pineapple juice
  • Sugar or your choice of natural sweetener {I used approx 1/8 cup natural cane sugar}
1. Steep tea bags in hot water, about 5-7 minutes depending on how strong you like your tea.

2. Meanwhile, in a large pitcher, add mint leaves, sugar, 1-2 slices of lime, and the juice of 1 lime. Using a wooden spoon muddle together to release the mint flavor from the mint leaves, much like you would when making a mojito. This step isn't mandatory, but it will make a mintier tea than just throwing the leaves in and calling it a day.

3. Add pineapple juice and tea into pitcher. Cool in refrigerator.

4. Serve in tall glasses with ice. Rim glasses with sugar if desired and garnish with lime wheel.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Makeover!

I have made a big decision. I am planning a makeover for The Kitchen Prep. Sort of. I guess it depends on you.

Not that this is much of a secret, but I'm pretty new at food blogging {read: I just started this blog in January}. But guess what? I'm completely hooked.

I love the idea of sharing recipes with everyone "out there". In fact, I get pretty giddy when I get a new comment {especially from strangers. I know, "Stranger Danger" still applies. It is ingrained in my head. That's what happens when you teach elementary school kids for a while. But this is one case where strangers are welcome for the most part.} It's just very cool to me that I can be sitting in my apartment in my own little world, and then suddenly come up with a delicious idea that I think the whole world should know about, and voila. From my brain {or oven. or skillet. etc.} to your computer screen. Amazing.

My husband's perspective. This is what I look like when I'm blogging.
And yes, I do have bottoms on. They are elephant printed pj shorts and I'm not ashamed to say it.
Anyway, when I started The Kitchen Prep, I had this image in my head of what it would look like. I'll let you in on a little secret: It didn't look anything like what you are looking at. Not that I am snubbing my little project here, because I have truly grown to love it in all its raw and undeveloped glory. But as I imagine people feel about their offspring, I picture great things for my little blog. Whether I have 5 readers or 5,000 readers {Though, I'm not gonna lie, the latter sounds much more enticing}.

In starting my own cooking blog, other people's cooking blogs have become even more appealing to me because I look up to them much like a kid looks up to an older, cooler sibling {though I'm pretty sure that quite a few of the bloggers that you'll find in my Google Reader are actually younger -and far more talented-than I am}. And let me tell you, there are some GREAT blogs out there! {Just take a look at my Inspiration tab for a few of my faves.} Seeing just how fabulous some of these are makes me want to strive for perfection for my own blog. Ya know?

I promise, all this endless blabber is getting to an actual point. And here it is.

I have a hard time justifying purchases for myself. I am known to stalk an item for weeks, even months, and monitor the dropping price until I find it acceptably low enough to spend my hard earned pennies on. It's not a bad thing. You save a lot of dough this way, and sometimes even realize that you don't actually need the item you thought you couldn't live without. I do not, however, have as difficult of a time justifying purchases for others because I like to give!

So, I've made up my mind to treat myself to a blog makeover upon reaching 2 important goals: Getting to my 100th blog post and having at least 50 followers. That way, the purchase is a little bit for me and a little bit for others, which seems like a win-win to me. :)

I am so grateful for everyone who has clicked on my TKP Facebook posts {I know it can get a little obnoxious, I'm working on it.}, and for my friends and family who became followers before I even had any recipes up! I'd love for you to spread the word about The Kitchen Prep to anyone you think would enjoy it, or anyone who'd be willing to help a girl reach her goal of beautifying her blog. ;) And I'd love to hear from you!! So please comment, comment, comment away even if it's to tell me that it doesn't matter how you cook your Brussels sprouts, you still hate them. Or to correct me on an ingredient measurement {I'm still working on that, too!}. Or to criticize me on my ridiculously excessive & incorrect use of curly brackets {sorry :P}.

Thanks for making my hobby all the more enjoyable by letting me share it with you!

xoxo,

Dianna

Friday, May 13, 2011

Happy Friday

No heavy-duty cooking for me this evening. Just a Grilled Ham & Brie Sandwich, a cold beverage, my hubby & the ocean breeze. Wishing you a very relaxing weekend!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Kitchen Science

I am almost always astonished by the "magic" of cooking & baking. I realize this sounds ridiculous, but if you know me at all, you will agree that it's a miracle that there is an exact science in this world that I actually enjoy and can usually get the proper results from. It's also one of the only times in life that I don't mind measuring or doing math, if necessary.

Of course, most cooking doesn't have to be exact and certainly doesn't require a degree in rocket science {thank goodness or we'd definitely starve}. In fact, some of the best dishes are the ones that contain a pinch of this and a dash of that. But still, it's cool to see science in action in the kitchen.

Anyway, this random thought is brought to you today by a recipe for Vegan Mayonnaise I found on Clean Green Simple {one of my new favorite places to find things that make me feel healthier}. When I made this recipe a few days ago, I literally stood in the kitchen, peering down into my blender saying, "That is SO cool." If you don't believe me, you can ask my sister Mary who happened to be there staring at me, staring at my mayo in wonderment. All I could say was, "It's like.... real mayo."

And it was. I never expect anything made in a non-traditional manner to turn out like the real thing. But it pretty much did. The consistency was fluffy and creamy. And the taste, thought a tiny bit sweeter due to the soy milk I think, was fantastic. My husband, who is thoroughly disgusted by regular mayo, has been using it on everything.

I'm really excited to make different versions of this stuff. For this batch I made plain mayo, then scooped out about 1/2 cup and set aside, and turned the rest of it into Chipotle Mayo for our Cinco de Mayo Fiesta Turkey Burgers. Zesty & delish.

I highly recommend heading over to Clean Green Simple & checking out the recipe for yourself because, well, you'll never have to buy mayo again, which is pretty cool. But also because it's way too easy not to try for yourself. Get in your lab... er... kitchen and whip some up. ;)

Yup, that's a burger on a gluten free English Muffin. We like to do things differently around here.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Brussels Sprouts I Didn't Hate

In a perfect world, I would be completely caught up on all the recipes I have been planning on sharing for the past few weeks. I would have gorgeous pictures to share with you and fabulous stories to go along with each recipe and you would be thinking to yourself, "Now that is one organized chick."

But the world is not perfect {Proof: I am not on an all expense paid trip to paradise sipping a frosty cocktail.}. And I am majorly backlogged on the things I've been meaning to share, mostly because like most people I have about 362,085,176 other things going on and sometimes at the end of a long day the last thing I feel like doing is staring at a harshly lit computer screen and trying to be charming. So there, I've confessed.

Today I'm organizing myself {and my stockpile of cooking magazines}, but before I dive head first into all that mess, I've decided that I must share with you a recipe for something that caught me totally off guard yesterday. It was one of those accidental discoveries. Serendipitous, if you will. :)

There I was, sitting cross legged on the floor starting to go through the aforementioned pile of magazines, when I looked up and realized that the morning had completely flown by and it was almost time to go to work. {I've been working in the afternoon, which gives the false illusion of more time to get things done.} I needed to make something for lunch unless I wanted to eat left over Chocolate Pound Cake from my Mother's Day Brunch. And I wanted to. I really did. But I've been trying to be good and the last thing I needed was to be all hopped up on sugar and then crash right there in front of my students. Not good.

So, I went to the kitchen and played the "What is in the Fridge & Pantry That Can Be Combined to Become Somewhat Nutritious & Edible" game. {Never played before? I highly suggest it.} I couldn't avoid the obvious: Brussels sprouts that had been sitting on the bottom shelf for far too many days. Bleeeeeeeh.

I really dislike Brussels Sprouts. I mean really. They are a pain to prep and they smell bad. I can never find a good way to cook them. Until yesterday.


In that ridiculous pile of magazines that were strewn all over the floor, I had come across an old issue of Clean Eating with a recipe for... you guessed it... Brussels sprouts. I gave it a shot and can you believe I actually found them to be kind of tasty?! Sprouts still won't be my go-to veggie, but the glaze made them edible and pretty enjoyable, and that's good enough for me.


Brussels Sprouts with Spicy Peanut Glaze
adapted from Clean Eating Magazine


You'll Need:


1 lb brussels sprouts, trimmed of outer leaves, stemmed & halved
3 tbsp creamy peanut butter {or whatever nut butter you prefer}
2 tsp low sodium tamari or soy sauce
1 tbsp brown sugar
Juice from half a lime
1 dash cayenne pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
Sesame seeds {optional}
olive oil

1. In a small bowl, whisk together peanut butter, 1 1/2 tbsp water, tamari, brown sugar, and lime juice. Set aside.

2. Heat oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add halved sprouts and saute until just starting to caramelize, 1-2 minutes. Add minced garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds, being careful not to burn garlic.

3. Add a splash of water to the pan and stir. Pour in peanut butter mixture and stir until sprouts are coated. Cook for a minute or two longer until sauce has thickened slightly. Sprinkle a dash of cayenne pepper {more if you like a little more heat}, and stir for another 30 seconds. 

4. Sprinkle sesame seeds into sprouts. Serve immediately and give yourself a pat on the back for eating brussels sprouts without gagging! :)

Monday, May 9, 2011

Make Ahead Mother's Day

My Mom is one of a kind. She is stubborn. She likes to argue. She is generous to a fault. She has an unnatural ability to be ridiculously chipper at the crack of dawn, and used to insist on talking {and even singing} to me in the wee hours of the morning even though she knew very well that I am merely a shell of my functional self until at least an hour or two after I wake up.  She drives me crazy and drives me to succeed, sometimes all within the same breath. She is irreplaceable.

We spent the weekend celebrating her and the other wonderful women in my life {Grandma, Aunt, Mother-in-law...} the best way I know: With food! And tea! And champagne! And brunch! And a few extra pounds that we all probably put on that were definitely worth it. ;)

Saturday afternoon, the ladies in my family gathered at The Chesterfield Hotel in Palm Beach for a tea party. They served dainty {and delicious!} little bites that went perfectly with the occasion.

Almost too cute to eat. Almost.


 Sisters in Lilly!
Sunday morning, I hosted a brunch at my place where we lounged around, chatted, and of course, ate some more! The best part was the fact that almost everything I served was make ahead, so I had plenty of time to enjoy the company.

Clockwise from Upper Right: Strawberry Cream Cheese Bread & Chocolate Pound Cake; Ham, Cheese & Hash Brown Casserole; Blueberry Breakfast Bake; Easy Sausage & Cheese Breakfast Bread
We also had refreshing Green Tea & Pineapple Coolers {which I'll be sharing with you later this week} and Cream Cheese Biscuits - the only two things I didn't make ahead.

I spent a lot of time in the kitchen this weekend, but it was just a tiny fraction of the time my mom has spent going out of her way for me throughout the years. I'm grateful for her today & always!

Me & my Mama!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Citrusy Supper

Remember a while back when I mentioned that my tastebuds tend to trend with the season? Well, today's recipe is a perfect example of that. Bright, citrusy flavors, fresh fish, light flavorful slaw... can we say sunshine on a plate?



Unlike yesterday's dinner {which was worth every single semi-fussy step & dirty dish}, Tuna with Citrus Gremolata sounds kinda fancy but is really pretty simple. The ingredients are simple & cheap and most of the directions are along the lines of "chop & toss into a bowl". {Who doesn't love that?} You will need that zester again, but if you don't already have one, I urge you to go out and buy one anyway because it's quickly making it's way onto my list of favorite kitchen tools.{Watch your back, citrus press!}

The Rainbow Kale slaw that I served alongside the fish is just another way for me to incorporate some of the less "go-to" veggies that should get more recognition. Lately, I've been hearing a lot more about kale's nutritional fabulousness, and I'm excited about that because it makes it easier to find more creative recipes that incorporate it. As a side note, the original recipe from Whole Foods includes a red bell pepper, which I omitted because I nearly passed out when I saw the '$4.99 for 1' price tag at the grocery store. I think my rainbow will just have to lack in the red department for today, thankyouverymuch. However, if you're willing to shell out some extra dough {or find a yummy looking bell pepper at your local farmer's market that won't break the bank}, then by all means go for it.

Ok, enough of the chatter. Here's the good stuff!

Tuna with Citrus Gremolata

You'll Need:

  • 1 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 lemon zested
  • 1 orange, zested
  • 2 large cloves garlic, very finely chopped or grated
  • 2 tuna steaks
  • 1 tbsp rosemary, leaves chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • 1 lemon, juiced
For Gremolata:
1. Before cooking the tuna, combine the parsley, lemon zest and orange zest in a small bowl. Stir in the finely chopped garlic and reserve.

2. Cut the tuna into bricks about 3 inches long and 2 inches wide, 3 pieces per portion. Season the tuna with rosemary, salt and pepper, to taste. Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and let stand for 10 to 15 minutes.

3. When ready to cook, heat a healthy drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot add the tuna and cook for 2 minutes on each side for rare, 3 to 4 minutes on each side for opaque fish. Douse the pan with the lemon juice.

4. Arrange the fish on a platter, scatter the gremolata over the top and serve.

Rainbow Kale Slaw

You'll Need:
  • 1 small bunch lacinato (a.k.a. dinosaur) kale, thick stems removed and leaves thinly sliced into ribbons
  • 1/2 a small shredded red cabbage, quartered and cored
  • 2 naval oranges or Clementines, peeled & segmented {*Note: I'm not gonna lie, segmenting oranges is kind of a pain, but practice makes perfect!}
  • 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup pumpkin or sunflower seeds
  • Approx. 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 orange juice, fresh squeezed or from carton
  • 1/4 balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1. In a large bowl, combine kale, cabbage, orange segments, onion, and sunflower or pumpkin seeds.

2.In a small bowl, whisk together mustard, orange juice, vinegar and pepper. Pour over the kale mixture and toss to coat.

Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to 2 days

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Eat Your Veggies

I think I may finally be caught up on sleep after my weekend-o-health-wreckage. Thank goodness, because yesterday made for a long, rough, grouchy Monday.

Today, I started Phase 2 of Wholesome Living week: Healthy eats. And I've gotta tell you, the dinner I made tonight was so yummy that the last thing I was thinking about was it's nutritional value. {I may or may not have licked the bowl it was so good.}


This recipe was adapted from one I found on a blog called Clean Green Simple {which I highly recommend checking out as a healthful & tasty recipe resource}. The blogger, Jessica, makes all vegan recipes, but from what I've seen they're all highly interchangeable with whatever you have onhand or whatever your particular dietary restriction may be. Jessica's version used kale for the pesto, but the bunch of kale in my fridge is currently spoken for in a recipe that I'll be posting later this week, so I used spinach instead.




Can you fit anymore healthy goodness into one dish? Possibly. I still have the rest of the week to experiment. ;) But in the meantime, I hope you'll dig into this one.

Basil, Walnut & Spinach Pesto Pasta
adapted from Clean Green Simple

You'll Need:
  • 1 lb quinoa pasta (or any pasta, really)
  • 4-7 cloves garlic, minced (I just grated it on my microplane)
  • 2 cups fresh basil
  • 2 cups fresh spinach
  • 3/4 cups unsalted walnuts, lightly toasted
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2/3 c. water (I found I needed just a splash more to get things moving in the blender)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 bunch asparagus, stems removed, chopped into 1-2 inch pieces
  • 1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions until al dente. Set aside.

2. Meanwhile, heat about a tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic. Cook, stirring frequently until onions are translucent and garlic is fragrant, 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat and add onion mixture to food processor or blender.

3. Return the pan to the stove over medium heat and add asparagus. Heat the asparagus for 4-6 minutes until tender crisp.

4. While asparagus cooks, add water, salt, spinach, basil, and toasted walnuts to blender or food processor and blend until smooth, drizzling a steady stream of olive oil while the blender runs. {I'm not entirely sure how much I added, probably about 1/4 cup, just enough to get everything moving smoothly in the blender.} Taste and season accordingly.

5. When asparagus is ready, combine all ingredients, including halved cherry tomatoes in pasta pot or large bowl and toss together gently.

I sprinkled a tiny bit of parmesan on the top, but truthfully, it didn't even need it. Enjoy your veggies!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Detox.

After a weekend of lots of hours on the road, moving the entire contents of my little sister's dorm multiple times {from hallway into the freight elevator, from freight elevator to downstairs hallway, from downstairs hallway to loading dock, from loading dock to rented minvan, from minivan back into my mom's house...}, far too many cocktails, and far too few hours of sleep, my body is begging for some TLC. Seriously. I slept for 11 hours last night and am still not feeling quite right.

Despite my intense urge to restore the balance, I was not a shining example of wholesome eating today. Since we didn't get in until late afternoon Sunday, we never made it to the grocery store and, consequently, my lunch consisted of Rice Krispies with about 3 whole drops of rice milk that were left in the carton. We did a little grocery shopping after work but I was so tired & hungry by the time we got home that I ended up eating about 1/2 lb of grilled shrimp and raided my supply of chocolate chips to finish it off. Ridiculous.

So, my goal for the rest of the week's meals is simple: Healthy, healing foods. It wouldn't hurt if they just so happen to be delicious, too.

Should I come up with anything fabulous, you know I'll be sharing. But for now... I have a date with my comfy couch. I'll leave you with a little inspiration for healthy choices from Alicia Silverstone's The Kind Life website.