Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Hummus: Roasted Pepper & Roasted Eggplant & Garlic

Hummus is an absolute staple in my refrigerator.  It is one of my favorite snacks, salad toppers and has become a must have spread when making wraps.  Here are a couple of my favorite recipes;

Roasted Pepper Hummus

Ingredients

15 oz can of chick peas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
1 head roasted garlic
2 roasted bell peppers - red, yellow or orange
1 tbsp tahini paste
1 tbsp olive oil
juice of half a lemon
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/8-1/4 tsp salt

To roasted the garlic and bell pepper; preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Cut about 1/4 inch off the top of the garlic head, put into a baking dish with the bell peppers, drizzle with olive oil, cover with foil and roast until tender - about 45 minutes to an hour. 

*Instead of adding more oil when making the hummus I used the juices and any olive oil left in the pan from roasting the garlic and bell peppers.

In a food processor; combine all of the ingredients to your desired consistency, mixing to ensure all of the ingredients are evenly distributed and incorporated. 


Roasted Eggplant & Garlic Hummus

Ingredients

15 oz can of chick peas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
1 medium roasted eggplant
1 head roasted garlic
1 tbsp tahini paste
1 tbsp olive oil
juice of half a lemon
2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/8-1/4 tsp salt

To roasted the eggplant and garlic; preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Cut about 1/4 inch off the top of the garlic head, put into a baking dish with the eggplant, drizzle with olive oil, cover with foil and roast until tender - about 45 minutes to an hour. 

*Instead of adding more oil when making the hummus I used the juices and any olive oil left in the pan from roasting the eggplant and garlic.

In a food processor; combine all of the ingredients to your desired consistency, mixing to ensure all of the ingredients are evenly distributed and incorporated. 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Nasi Goreng Recipe

The best way to try authentic exotic dishes is to visit their country of origin. Thing is, it’s quite expensive to go out of the country just to savor such wonderful treats. Thanks to the internet, we can always look for recipes and information on where we can shop for ingredients that we’re not so familiar with.

One unique recipe that caught my interest was Nasi Goreng, which is a popular dish in Indonesia and Malaysia. And since the quest for tasting something new and distinctive is never ending, and creating dishes such as Nasi Goreng is simply a must. Note though, cooking this dish may take some time, so you might want to take out your iPad and play a few rounds on Cheekybingo.com to keep yourself entertained.

Ingredients:

1 red chilli
1 onion
1 bulb of garlic
½ tsp palm sugar
½ tsp toasted belacan (shrimp paste)
½ tbsp soy sauce
2 cups overnight rice
1 egg
2 tbsp of oil (preferably olive oil)


1. On a medium sized pan, toast the shrimp paste with low heat or until dry and aromatic.
2. Fry the egg sunny side up, set it aside.
3. Blend the onion, garlic, red chili, and the toasted shrimp paste.
4. On the same pan, heat the oil and add in the blended mixture.
5. Increase the heat to high and add the overnight rice.
6. Stir-fry until the mixture spreads evenly with the rice.
7. When done, transfer the rice mix into a bowl and top with a sunny side up egg.
8. The dish is best served with chicken, salted duck egg, fried potatoes, and vegetables.

Friday, February 15, 2013

DailyBuzz Food - Top 9!


Hey Everyone check out the DailyBuzz Top 9 Coriander recipes including my very own

Coriander Cauliflower Chickpea Soup

This is the first recipe of mine to be featured and I am very excited about it! 

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Review: La' Pans Food Corp


Something you may, or may not know about me is that I am a gal that loves sauces!  I always look forward to trying new varieties to add zing to the dishes I am eating, and the right type of sauces are great for adding flavor and turning mundane food into something special. 

Recently, I was fortunate enough to be sent a selection of samples to try from La Pan’s Food Corp; a So. Cal based company that has created a line of gourmet products ranging from bloody mary mix, hot sauce, traditional and spicy BBQ sauces all made using all natural ingredients.   

BBQ Blessings Spice Rubbed Steak Burrito Bowl

First off, I wanted to try the rub, and decided to use it on steak I planned to use with dinner.  Being that I strive to eat leaner cuts of meat, anything I can do to add flare is welcomed with open arms so, I coated the steaks I used on each side before grilling.  The result was a fantastically flavorful steak that accompanied the grilled veggies in my burrito bowl perfectly!

Ingredients
Serves four

Two 4 oz sirloin steaks
Three ears fresh corn
Three zucchini, sliced length wise
1 cup cherry tomatoes
One red bell pepper, seeds removed and quartered
15 oz low sodium black beans, drained and rinsed
½ cup quinoa, rinsed
La Pan’s BBQ Blessings Spice Rub
2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
2 limes
Salsa (optional)

A benefit of the BBQ Blessing Spice Rub is that it is so flavorful it cuts the need to marinate; I allowed my steak to sit with the rub for about four hours due to preparing them during my lunch hour at work.  I have made this recipe again using the same steak without allowing it to sit and the flavor was just as amazing.

Preheat your grill to medium high heat for about 8 to 10 minutes.  As a side note; I primarily use an indoor grill due to being unable to have an outdoor grill at the apartment I rent.  I know I am already in search of a new rental come the end of my lease!

Start by grilling the corn, this can be done one of two ways; dry – placed directly onto the grill, or by rubbing with a small amount of grapeseed oil; and cook until just charred on all sides.  Next, grill the zucchini slices, and bell pepper until achieving the same lovely char as you did the corn.  Last, cut the limes in two and place them cut side down on the grilled for a few minutes to loosen the juices.

In a large bowl; carefully cut the corn kernels from the cob using a sharp knife, halve the cherry tomatoes, roughly chop the zucchini and bell pepper, and then toss everything together with the juice of the limes and chopped fresh cilantro.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside.  As far as seasoning goes; I prefer the natural flavors of the grilled vegetables without adding any additional seasoning however, feel free to season with salt and pepper if you desire.  

If you are unfamiliar with how to prepare quinoa; simply rinse the desired amount before covering with water, bringing to a boil and allow it to simmer 15 minutes, and then drain off any excess water.  You can also take the ratio approach as you would cook rice but, this tried and true method works for me every time.

Next, grill the rubbed steaks to your desired taste; I prefer medium so about 2 minutes per side works perfect.  Once cooked, allow the steaks to rest (an essential step in cooking lean protein) at least 10 minutes before slicing thin.

Assembling the burrito bowls simply layer the ingredients starting with a bed of quinoa, followed by the grilled vegetables, then the steak and top with your favorite salsa.  Blue corn tortilla chips make a great accompaniment to this dish as well.

For the next recipe, I wanted to keep things classic so, I put together an easy dish of grilled chicken topped with the Foundation Gourmet BBQ Sauce.  I love sweet and spicy BBQ sauces and this one packs a rich flavor with the perfect amount of spice that goes on and on. 

Foundation BBQ Chicken

Something else that stood about La Pan's, is the entire ingredient list is comprised of easily recognizable ingredients (and easily pronounced) providing confidence that you are using products of high quality.  This is not something you see in comparison to other BBQ products on the market. 

My best advice is to check out La Pan's Food Corp to try the delicious product range for yourself.  You won't be disappointed!

Stay tuned another recipe using the Foundation Gourmet BBQ and La Pan’s Fire in the Hole! Hot Sauce; Spicy BBQ Baked Black Beans!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Quick Recipe: Wasabi Tuna Wrap


There are two condiments items that work as excellent flavor enhancers; wasabi sauce and salsa.  Wraps aren’t anything new when it comes to the world of healthy eating.  Using whole grain tortillas in place of bread not only helps to cut back on carb intake but, when filled with things like hummus in place of mayo, fresh veggies and protein they make for a tasty meal option or pre workout snack.  I have never been a huge fan of tuna salad but, the convenience tuna packed in water offers makes it a hard item to resist experimenting with, and one way I love to prepare it is simply with a dollop of wasabi sauce which complements the tuna adding a solid punch of flavor.

Ingredients 
Make two wraps

5 oz can tuna packed in water, drained
Two whole grain or whole wheat tortillas
2 tbsp hummus
Spinach
One medium vine ripe tomato
Salt and pepper

Simply combine the drained tuna with two tablespoons of Woeber’s (or your favorite brand) wasabi sauce.  Evenly spread one tablespoon of hummus onto each tortilla, on one side even spread out the spinach, divide the mixed tuna into two portions and spread on top of the spinach, top with fresh tomato slices, season with salt and pepper and enjoy!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Eating Clean


At times life brings on change whether we are ready for it or not.  It can be in the form of good transition, or bad and at times makes everything seem impossible to overcome.  Over the last several months, my life has gone through transition in all phases but, the one thing that kept me balanced through it all was the dedication I held on to keeping myself healthy – mind, body and soul. 

I live by the ideology; eat clean, stay fit and don't deprive.  Eating clean is a term I am sure most of you have heard before, if not, to explain it is a healthy lifestyle in which you nourish your body by consuming food in it's purest form focused on the nutrients it thrives on.  It is not about dieting, or restricting yourself from indulging, it is about focusing on feeding your body the best you can so that you can indulge, in moderation, without the worry.  For me, the benefits alone out weigh any desire I have for junk food, or sweets.  Almost immediately I noticed a huge increase in energy, I was able to better control my appetite, my complextion started to clear, and it catapulted the results of my fitness routine feeding my motivation to continue. 

The principles are straight forward;  
Increase water consumption; replace alcoholic beverages or those high in sugar with water and green tea, this helps aide in flushing impurities from your body, assists the body to better absorb nutrients, helps control hunger and as a bonus hydration promotes a healthy complexion.

Eliminate refined sugar and salt; instead opt to curb cravings with fresh fruit, and take advantages of herbs and spices to enhance flavor.

Choose whole or multi grains over refined when choosing bread, rice and pastas.  Dark leafy greens and fresh vegetables are also excellent sources of unrefined carbohydrates.

Stop reaching for processed foods; this is one of the most important principles to follow when looking to lead a clean lifestyle.  Processed foods, while convenient, are loaded with additives and sodium that work against your body’s fight to stay healthy.

Replace saturated and trans fats most commonly found refined foods, with unsaturated fats in the form of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated which can be found in nuts, vegetable oils such as olive, grapeseed, and flax, fish and avocados.  

Last but, most certainly not least; eat smaller portions five to six times per day – this helps maintain blood sugar dips, keeps energy levels up and is also a great way to manage appetite control.   

Is it easy to give up all things healthy that taste so good?  No.  But, for me I wanted change so, to make it happen I tackled it head on and after seeing continuous results haven’t looked back since. 

Getting Started

 

Food prep is vital; not only making preparing meals through out the week less time consuming but, also to replace convenience foods with healthy options.

Buying fresh meat, fruits and vegetables requires grocery shopping more often so, to make it easier I have a staple grocery list which consists of items I always have on hand making trips to pick up additional items much quicker.  Here is my staple grocery list;

- Unsweetened almond milk
- Cracked wheat or steel cut oats
- Whole wheat tortillas
- Protein - sirloin, fish, poultry, deli meat such as chicken or turkey breast
- Raw almonds, cashews and/or walnuts
- Unsalted natural peanut butter
- Chia seeds
- Quinoa
- Nonfat plain greek yogurt
- Berries
- Bananas
- Apples
- Lemons
- Fresh garlic
- Ginger
- Mixed greens
- Tomatoes
- Carrots
- Bell peppers
- Kale
- Swiss chard
- Low sodium stock
- Low sodium beans
- Tahini
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Grapeseed oil
- Vinegar - rice wine, red wine and balsamic
- Dark chocolate
- Tea - green, herbal

Now, what I have on my list may differ from what someone else eating clean has on theirs, or there may be items you don't like, prefer over others.  What one person eats doesn't mean it is what another person should eat.  The best thing you can do to set yourself up for success is to customize a menu of foods that works with you, for your tastes while holding true to the basics. 
While this journey started for me sometime ago, I will continue to share with you the recipes I love that support healthy eating but, do not cut out flavor in anyway.  Good luck!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Healthy Eating Habits

Wild Rice & Quinoa Chipotle Rubbed Grilled Chicken Bowl

Over the last several years, the push to end obesity in America has driven efforts supporting healthier eating habits in homes, on the go and in schools.  The Campaign to End Obesity (CEO), the Let’s Move campaign driven by Michelle Obama and Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution are amongst a few.  Some of the ideas are welcomed but, there is still far more resistance to tackle than there is support, and these concepts are ones I believe shouldn’t be pushed aside. 

A common response I hear when asking why fast food options are chosen over cooking meals at home is accessibility and ease.  It is far easier to pull up to the drive thru and have dinner in hand within a matter of minutes than it is to rush home and prepare a meal each night.  I understand the premise of fast food, and honestly cannot argue the ease it offers but, for me, fast food isn’t something I get from a drive thru, fast meals are ones that I create at home, with quality ingredients some freshly prepared and some prepared beforehand that offer nutrition, sustenance and are easily adapted to satisfy even the most aggressive cravings.

On Sundays, I prepare a few staple items to last throughout the work week making lunch and dinner preparation much easier.  There is always a super food which alternates between quinoa, wild rice, winter berries or faro, legumes in the form of chick peas, black or kidney beans, grilled proteins such as fish, chicken and lean cuts of beef and grilled or roasted vegetables.  Taking a little time out of my Sunday afternoon to prepare ingredients opens up much more of my time after work allowing me to maintain a healthy fitness regime, catch my favorite TV shows and even relax before bed with a glass of wine. 

Here is an original recipe that I often turn to during the week is different takes on the classic “burrito bowl.”  This one dish wonder is, in my opinion the easiest to prepare and the most versatile.  Taking the premise of the recipe and alternating between your favorite ingredients this adds a whole new twist to the ordinary idea.

Wild Rice & Quinoa Chipotle Rubbed Grilled Chicken Bowls

Ingredients
Serves 1

¼ cup plain wild rice
¼ cup quinoa

One boneless skinless chicken breast
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
½ tsp chipotle powder
½ tsp garlic powder
Half zucchini sliced length wise
1 or 2 tsp grapeseed oil
Avocado
Bell Pepper

Bring 1 cup of water to a boil, then stir in the rice and quinoa, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until tender, about 25 to 20 minutes.

Preheat a grill or grill pan to medium high.

Toss the zucchini slices with a light coating of grapeseed oil, season with salt and pepper.  Grilled until tender about 2 minutes per side.

Evenly coat both sides of the chicken with one teaspoon of grapeseed oil, black pepper, chipotle and garlic powder then grill 3 minutes on each side and allow to rest for ten minutes before thinly slicing.  Season with salt to taste.

Layer the prepared ingredients in a bowl, top with avocado slices and chopped bell pepper to serve.  

A great breakfast variation of this dish is to simmer the cooked quinoa and wild rice in a mixture of almond milk, cardamom, vanilla extract and cinnamon, topped with dried fruit, toasted unsweetened coconut flakes or almond slices and a light drizzling honey or agave nectar.Wild Rice

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Tamari Ginger Glazed Grilled Chicken CocoNUT Salad

Salads have become my go to staple for lunch and dinner but, as you know, they can easily become redundant so, to challenge this, I combined components not commonly seen mingling together keeping with summer flavors.  Thrown together using ingredients I had on hand; this salad is light but, hearty with textures that will create an absolute party in your mouth.    

Ingredients
Serves 2

¼ cup raw macadamia nuts
¼ cup raw slivered almonds
¼ cup raw cashews
½ cup unsweetened coconut flakes
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 zucchini, sliced length wise ¼ inch thick
Agave nectar
1 tbsp peanut butter
1 tsp lime juice
¼ tsp sesame oil
3 tsp freshly grated ginger
1 tbsp fresh chopped cilantro
Light oil
A mixture of your favorite lettuces

Slice the chicken breasts into ¾ inch thick strips, and in a bowl toss with 1 tbsp tamari, 2 tsp grated ginger and 1 tbsp light oil to coat.  Grill until cooked through, about 2 to 3 minutes per side depending on the thickness, and then set aside to rest.  Brush the zucchini slices with garlic chili paste and grill until just tender  about 1 to 2 minutes per side, remove and then slice into 1 to 2 inch pieces.

In a dry pan, lightly toast the nuts until fragrant, remove and set aside.  Then in the same pan toast the coconut flakes.

To make the dressing; combine the peanut butter, 1 tsp ginger, 2 tsp tamari, sesame oil, lime juice and 2 to 3 tsp light oil until combined, using the agave nectar to adjust the flavor to your preference.  I wanted the dressing a little on the sweeter side to balance the robust and spicy flavors of the chicken and zucchini, and used about 3 tsp agave nectar.

Toss the cilantro and lettuce lightly with the dressing to evenly coat and then toss with the zucchini, chicken, nuts and coconut before serving.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Raw Recipe: Key Lime Pie

Aside from environmental benefits, raw foods offer health perks such as increased energy, a boost in weight loss management and aid in the alleviation of common GI issues.  Mental clarity and emotional balance are also benefits people commonly find from consuming a raw diet.  Another motivating factor to incorporating more raw recipes into your diet is that by consuming live versus cooked foods nutrition consumption is maximized resulting in cleaner blood and healthier cells.

The other night I was watching the Cooking Channel’s Unique Eats and was intrigued when a spotlight on Divine Pie came up.  With gluten, sugar and dairy free crusts and fillings this delightful pie stand offers Portland raw versions of tasty classic desserts.  The idea of raw pies is something I haven’t personally experienced or actually ever thought of until watching this segment but, I find the idea is a unique way of incorporating live foods into your diet and one that is perfect for warmer months when lighter dessert options are always welcome.  While I am not planning to change my diet entirely at this point, it was all I could do to contain my enthusiasm until the next day (I watched this episode at 12:30 am) to get into the kitchen and start experimenting with raw recipes.

The plan started with the idea that I would get my feet wet by duplicating one of Divine Pie’s amazing creations but, I haven’t been able to locate recipes for any of their pies.  Motivated by the challenge and geared with essential knowledge of how these raw delectable’s are created I developed my own recipes taking inspiration from one of the pies feature on the show (and my personal favorite) Key Lime.   

Now, what makes this raw pie interesting is not only the ingredients used but the way they are prepared and the role they play in creating the same flavor and texture as the traditional version, and surprisingly enough the result is mind blowing.

Raw Key Lime Pie

1 young coconut - coconut milk reserved and meat removed
2 avocados
¾ cup soaked raw cashews
1/4 cup raw macadamia nuts
¼ cup soaked raw almonds
½ to ¾  cup key lime juice
Zest of 6 to 8 key limes
¾ cup agave nectar

Crust

1 cup raw cashews
½ cup raw almonds
½ cup raw macadamia nuts
1 cup coconut flakes
1 1/4 cup chopped dates
1 tbsp coconut oil

Soak the cashews and almonds (as specified) for 4 hours prior to preparing this recipe.  To make measuring easier I like to use one container for the portions needed for the filling and another for the portions needed for the crust. 

In a bowl, pour water over the nuts until just covered and then let stand at room temperature until ready to use.  Once soaked, using within a day or two is best for quality and freshness.

To prepare the crust; in a food processor using the S blade, pulse the fresh and soaked nuts together until they just start to break up (alternately you can pre chop the nuts), add the dates and pulse until the mixture when pressed holds its shape.  Add coconut flakes and pulse until just combined.  Pour the mixture into a 9 inch pie dish and press to evenly to form the crust, cover with plastic wrap and keep refrigerated until ready to use.

Next, remove the top of the coconut with a serrated knife, pour out the milk and then using a spoon remove all of the flesh and pulse with the soaked nuts, avocado, lime juice, zest and agave until smooth.  *Depending on the ripeness of the avocados and how tart the key limes are you may need to adjust the amount of agave to reach your desired sweetness.  Once the mixture is smooth pour it into the pie crust and refrigerate for at least 2 hours prior to serving. 

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Eating Our Way Through the County Fair!

Nothing kicks off summer in San Diego better then opening day announcements of the county fair.  Known for being one of the largest in the country, the San Diego County Fair  boasts a traditional range of competitive events, live stock shows, exhibits, games and rides.  For most, anticipation runs high when it comes to the updated list of newly comprised random edibles.  Battered, fried, wrapped in bacon or doused in chocolate all unique, some outlandish and are most definitely geared towards out doing the prior year’s selection. 


We like making the most of our day, getting in most of what the fair has to offer, and have a pretty good strategy for making our way through each experience – start with a snack, wander through the exhibits and then hit the rides before indulging in as many fair treats as we can handle.  Aside from the sinfully delicious fried delectable’s there is usually a good selection of healthier options such as this year’s highlight the Antipasto Bread Bowl.

A crisp mix of romaine and iceberg lettuce lightly tossed in a red wine vinaigrette and topped with tomatoes, pepperoncini, mozzarella, black olives and salami served in a freshly baked crusty sour dough bread bowl.

Without fail someone in the group kicks off snack round one with an order of Aussie Chips.
Sliced potatoes battered, fried and topped with your choice of nacho cheese, ranch and/or sweet chili sauce they are crisp and phenomenally delicious.

At some point, we venture towards some of the more outlandish options, and this year was no different as we found ourselves in front of the “Bacon-A-Fair” in search of the highly recommended “Pork-abello” Kebab. 

Mushrooms stuffed with gouda, wrapped in back then grilled until the mushrooms are tender
and the bacon is crisp.



And if mushrooms aren’t your preference an excellent alternative are the Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers.
Filled to the brim with cream cheese and then wrapped in crispy bacon, these pack a punch on the
spice scale and are flavor packed.


What's a bacon themed concession without a Bacon Wrapped Fried Hotdog?
Wrapped in bacon, breaded and fried until crisp.

Other snack option include Cheesy Bread – fresh sour dough buttered and topped with mixture of mozzarella and cheddar cheeses, Italian Sausage topped with grilled peppers & onions and Fried Cheese Curds.   


And for those looking for something a little more familiar popular food vendor setup shop as well serving pizza and corn dogs all incredibly tasty offering plenty of variety for every taste.


After we've made our way through all there is to look at, rode as many rides as our stomachs can handle and wandered through more exhibits then anyone should in one day, we end the day with something sweet.  One of the most talked about desserts all over the news was a twist on a fair classic - funnel cake - and I couldn't wait to make my way to try the latest version.

Red Velvet Funnel Cake - Traditional funnel cake topped with cream cheese frosting, 
whipped cream and chocolate sauce.

Of course we couldn't leave without one last treat - Cream Puffs.
Profiteroles topped with fresh vanilla, chocolate and strawberry whipped cream - a perfectly light ending.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Margarita Cupcakes with Tequila Lime Buttercream


Happy Cinco de Mayo Everyone!

It's been awhile since my last post so, I figured what better to come back with than a festive Cinco de Mayo recipe.  Now, there are tons of margarita cupcake recipes on the web but, unfortunately most of which use boxed cake mixes.  There are a few from scratch recipes but, they didn't incorporate all of the traditional flavors of a margarita so, I had to think outside of the box.  I took a basic vanilla cupcake recipe that I adapted from a recipe I found in a book several years ago, and added three key margarita flavors; lime zest and juice, cointreau and of course tequila.  

Now, let's talk quality of ingredients.  Since the components of this recipe are primarily uncooked quality is key.  While I'm not saying you have to go top shelf, a good quality, great tasting tequila makes all the difference in the end result.  Also, to acheieve the best texture cupcakes and frosting all ingredients should be room tempertaure prior to preparing.

Ingredients - Cupcakes

3 cups AP flour
1 cup coconut milk
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp orange extract (or Cointreau)
1 tbsp baking powder
3 limes, zest and juice
1/4 cup Corralejo Tequila (or your favorite)

Ingredients - Glaze

3 tbsp agave nectar
1 tbsp tequila
juice of a lime

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment; cream together the butter, sugar, tequila, lime juice and zest until light and fluffy.  Then add one egg at a time until completely incorporated.  Next, mix in the salt, baking powder and orange extract until combined, and then add the flour in three parts, and the coconut milk in two parts, mixing just until the batter comes together.  Using a 1/4 cup measure; fill each lined cupcake tin about three quarters of the way full and then bake for 23 to 28 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  [I start checking the cupcakes after they have baked for 20 minutes to ensure they do not get dry.]

To prepare the glaze; in a bowl, microwave the agave nectar, tequila and lime juice for 30 seconds and then gently whisk to combine.

While the cupcakes are hot brush glaze all over the tops, allowing it to soak in and then gently brushing on a little more and then set the cupcakes onto baking racks allowing them to cool completely.

Ingredients - Tequila Lime Buttercream

4 sticks unsalted butter
8 cups confectioners' sugar
8 to 10 tbsp tequila
6 limes juiced
1/2 tsp orange extract

In a stand mixer using a whisk attachment; combine the butter, tequila, orange extract and lime juice with 2 cups of confectioners' sugar until combined, then keep adding the remaining confectioners' sugar until the frosting becomes light and fluffy.  [Note: In between adding the confectioners' sugar I taste the frosting each time and adjust the flavoring accordingly.]

Using a piping bag, offset spatula or even a ziplock bag with the edge snipped, generously frost each cupcake and then top with lime zest and sea salt. 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Coriander Cauliflower Chickpea Soup

Anyone who knows me knows I love soup.   Whether I am making a classic recipe, or throwing together ingredients I have on hand to create something completely new, when it comes to putting together a quick, healthy meal, soups are usually my go to.


I came up with this recipe while looking for something light to serve with steamed tilapia.  Coriander has an amazingly fresh flavor that compliments vegetable soups wonderfully.  The addition adds a lovely almost citrus flavor to the broth which is set off further with a squeeze of fresh lime.

Ingredients

One large cauliflower
15 ounce can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
6 cups vegetable broth
Two shallots
Two celery stalks
1 large fennel bulb
2 tbsp ground coriander
1 tbsp parsley
1 tbsp dried basil
Juice from one lime
4 vine ripe tomatoes, seeds removed
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Pecorino (optional)

In a heavy bottomed pot; saute the shallots and celery stalks until tender, slice and add the fennel and tomatoes, season with salt and pepper, and allow everything to cook down for about 3 minutes.  Remove the stalk from cauliflower and break off into florets, add to the pot tossing with the sauteed vegetables.  Next, add the stock, season with salt, pepper, coriander, dried basil and parsley, and let simmer until tender about twenty minutes.  Finish the soup by stirring in the chickpeas, adding the juice of one lime, and seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.  A spirnkling of freshly grated pecorino romano cheese adds a subtle creamy, salty bite which also compliments the flavors very well.