Friday, March 23, 2012

Adios! Vamos a Cabo San Lucas!

image courtesy of google
See you next week....  We're heading to Cabo! 

Cabo is a place us East coasters have always wanted to get to.  I can't wait to sip margaritas, get some sun, scuba, and eat as many fish taco's as I can get my hands on!  Ohhh, and the guacamole, can't forget about that :)

Monday, March 19, 2012

Curried Tomato Soup with Kale Chips

I am extremely hesitant to try any recipe with the word "curry" (meaning the Indian kind).  My experiences with Indian food and it's spices are extremely limited.  The first time was in Philly for a group birthday dinner.  I ordered some chicken and rice dish the waitress swore wasn't spicy.  She was so wrong!  All I remember is being hot, sweaty and knocking back like 6 glasses of white wine.   The second time we were vacationing in Thailand and a friend of ours encouraged me to try several Indian dishes at the resort we were staying at.  That went better because I had someone guiding me.  Anyone who knows good Indian food want to take me out next week?!?  I want to try to get to know Indian food but need some guidance!

I have however, gotten acquainted with turmeric lately.  And turmeric is the base of curry powder.  I recently read a bunch of articles and learned it is really, really good for the body.  And because of my hummus obsession, I have really gotten to know cumin.  Love that spice!  It dawned on me that these along with a few others make up curry powder, the one I have been fearing for years! 

This recipe for tomato curried soup is delicious and uses deconstructed curry powder (I used turmeric, cumin powder, ground coriander and a dash of cinnamon).  San marzano tomatoes and two types of potato provide a tasty base for an intense flavor.  In the end I used a immersion blender and pureed the soup which resulted in a thick,creamy sauce with a bit of a kick!  Serve with some crunchy good-for-you kale chips.

I am thankful that the Food Matters Project pushed my taste boundaries!  This week's recipe was chosen by Joanne of Eats Well with Others, and you can find other bloggers take on the recipe here.


1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 of a yellow onion, chopped
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp freshly grated ginger
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
2 tsp turmeric
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 tsp grounded coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of sugar
1 regular potato, peeled and diced
1 sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 13.5 oz can of light coconut milk
1 28 oz can san marzano tomatoes
freshly ground sea salt and black pepper
fresh cilantro, for garnish

1 bunch of kale (I used dinosaur kale)
extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground sea salt and black pepper


In a large heavy bottom sauce pan, heat olive oil for until hot.  Reduce heat and add garlic, ginger, pepper and onions.  Cook for 2-3 minutes.  Add in potatoes, coconut milk, tomatoes and seasonings (turmeric, cumin, coriander and cinnamon).  Stir together, and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and cook covered while occasionally stirring for about 20 minutes or until potatoes are soft.

At this point you can either use an immersion blender in the pot or transfer soup with ladle to a blender to blend smooth.  Or, you can serve it chunky which would also be delicious!  Top soup with chopped cilantro for an extra flavor boost and garnish.

For the kale chips:  Remove the center hard vein of each piece of kale with a knife and cut into smaller pieces.  Spray with a mister or lightly brush kale pieces with olive oil.  Sprinkle each piece with a tiny dash of sea salt and pepper.  Bake at 375 degrees for about 10 minutes.  Serve with soup and enjoy!

Like Cheese Please on Facebook!!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Irish Cheddar Quiche with Guinness Caramelized Onions

Last year my St. Patty's day breakfast didn't go so well.  I woke up early to make my husband green eggs.  Yes, super cheesy, I know.  While I was cooking breakfast I accidentally knocked over the bottle of green food coloring which I cleaned up with the closest kitchen towel.  I sat it aside happy that I saved the counter-tops from an uncertain greenish future.   When my husband was showered and dressed, I excitedly "surprised" him with the green eggs.  He was over the moon.  Not so much.  But regardless, I made him smile with my quirky enthusiasm for St. Patrick's Day.

Here comes the bad part.  Just as he was walking out the door he washed his hands and grabbed a kitchen towel to dry them off with - the same towel fully saturated with green food coloring.  This resulted in dark green hands that wouldn't wash off!!  To top it off, he had an important early meeting he couldn't be late to, and certainty not have green hands at.  He called me at lunch time and told me the green dye still hadn't washed off.  He said he had to explain all morning why he had green hands - mind you, to a group of conservative big clients.  I felt SO bad.  Apparently they didn't have a sense of humor and an "I wrestled with a leprechaun" excuse wasn't going to fly.  (I thought that excuse was hilarious though).

So this quiche is food coloring free, yet still celebrates St. Patrick's Day!  This crustless quiche uses delicious Irish Cheddar (the Irish know cheddar, that's for sure), Irish potatoes, and a secret ingredient - Guinness caramelized onions.   And to still incorporate the color green, I added in fresh spinach and kale.  I highly recommend using healthy good-for-you greens, instead of the green food coloring. Lesson learned! :)


Don't these ingredients just scream Irish to you?
1 cup Irish cheddar, grated
1/2 large onion, sliced
1/3 cup Guinness
1/2 cup spinach, chopped
1/2 cup kale, chopped
1 small potato, diced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 eggs
4 egg whites
1/4 cup non-fat milk
parsley to garnish
extra virgin olive oil or cooking spray to coat pans

Guinness caramelized onions adapted from Closet Cooking


Coat a large sauce pan with a little bit of olive oil or cooking spray.  Add onions over medium heat and cook until tender, about 5-7 minutes.  Add the Guinness to the pan, stir and cover.  Let cook for 15 minutes until liquid is absorbed.  While those are cooking, add diced potatoes to another greased pan, and cook over medium-low heat for 15 minutes.  Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

In a mixing bowl add eggs and egg whites and milk.  Whisk together.  Next, add in the cheese, onions, potatoes, kale and spinach.  Stir together and pour into a greased baking dish (I used a round pie dish).  Bake uncovered for 35 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.  Garnish with parsley.  Happy St. Patrick's Day!!!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Blood Orange Hummus

Over the weekend I was taking my puppy for a walk around the neighborhood, and was deep in thought of what to do with a couple blood oranges I picked up from the market.  I think about recipes most of the time I am walking the pup...  It's so nice to slow down for 30 minutes a day and enjoy being outdoors with an open mind.  I swear other than the unconditional love and cuddles, it is one of the best reasons to have a dog!  Anyways, as you know, blood oranges are only in season for a very short time of the year.  If you happen to see them, buy em quick!  For some reason this makes them extra luxurious in my mind... a rare gem of citrus fruits?  Maybe not, but I did want to do something special.

It was on this walk I decided to try to create a blood orange hummus.  I am a enormous fan of hummus, and knew that a basic recipe mostly always calls for lemon juice.  So why not replace blood oranges with lemons?  I was so delightfully surprised with the result.  I didn't have any tahini on hand, but I don't think it's essential with this particular take on tahini-free hummus.  I also added cumin, ground ginger, and little bit of tumeric for the pretty orange coloring and the health benefits.   The result was a union of spices that loudly comes together and complements the tangy blood orange juice.  This hummus is exciting, full of flavor and oh-so lovely.

The recipe was inspired by this week's selection for the Food Matters Project, which adapts recipes from the the Food Matters Cookbook.  This week's post is hosted by Erin from "Naturally Ella".  Check out with other bloggers did with Mark Bittman's "Hummus Served Hot" recipe here

Blood Orange Hummus


2 cup chick peas, rinsed
2 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon of cumin, 
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/8 tsp ginger and paprika
salt and pepper
1 blood orange (about 1/3 cup juice)

From clockwise: paprika, cumin, tumeric and dried ginger

For blood orange juice: roll orange with palm of your hand on a cutting board "loosing" the juices.  With a sharp knife cut the orange in half.  With both hands squeeze each half to release juice from pulp.  Be careful, the juice is blood red and can stain a porous wood cutting board (as I learned!).  Discard orange halves.  You should be left with about 1/3 cup of juice.  Set aside.

With a food processor, add chick peas, garlic cloves, spices and extra virgin olive oil.  Lastly add your blood orange juice.  Process until you have a smooth consistency.  Garnish with chick peas, paprika and a slice of blood orange.  Enjoy!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Dark Chocolate Clusters

Last week my girl friend and I realized both of our hard working husbands would be out of town for business at the same time.  We immediately decided just like 17 year old girls that we needed to have a sleepover.  When you grow up you're still allowed to do that, right?  So my puppy and I packed up our things and headed up to Lake Norman for a girls' night of deep conversation, yoga, puppy snuggling and dark chocolate.  It also helps when your girlfriend lives waterfront on a lake!   I swear, driving 20 minutes north, out of the city was like I went away on vacation.  Also waking up to a huge expansive body of water is extremely relaxing...
image courtesy of google

So to thank my friend for having us at her home, I decided to whip up these easy and healthy, yet delicious, dark chocolate clusters.  Dark chocolate is melted over omega-3 rich walnuts and dried cranberries.  I made each cluster to be about 1 inch in diameter, which I think worked perfect.  Our Lake Norman host loved them, you will too!


1 lb dark chocolate (70% Cocoa)
1 cup walnuts
1 cup dried cranberries


If you have a double boiler, melt the chocolate in that.  If not, MacGyver one up by boiling water in a sauce pan with a glass bowl sitting on top of it.  Place the chocolate into the glass bowl until fully melted. 

Remove the glass bowl from the sauce pan and place on a heat resistance surface.  Add the walnuts and dried cranberries to the chocolate.  Stir together.  Spoon mixture onto a cookie sheet lined with wax paper.  Transfer the cookie sheet to the fridge and let them set for at least 30 minutes.  Package in a small metal container to gift someone, or just enjoy straight from the fridge!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Seared Bean Sprouts with Orange Zest, Chicken and Bok Choy

Bean sprouts are crazy good for you.  Did you know that?  Bean sprouts have all types of vitamins (A, B, C, D, E and K), folic acid, and a good amount of fiber.    In this dish they are complemented with a few of my favorite veggies and a light sauce that comes alive with oj, soy sauce and orange zest.  A pinch of crushed red pepper is added at the end to give it some subtle heat.  (I've been doing that a lot lately, why not?)

Bean sprouts aka mung beans are also a terrific source of vegetable based protein.  Which makes them perfect for the Food Matters Project.  This is my second contribution to the Food Matters Project, and I am really excited about it.  How cool is it to be apart of something like this?  Forgive me, I have turned into a huge healthy food nerd :)  Anyways, this recipe was selected from Mark Bittman's cookbook by Dominca at WineFoodLove.   Check out other food bloggers take on this recipe here!


2 cups bean sprouts
2 tbsp peanut oil
8 oz chicken breast
2 tsp light soy sauce
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
2 tsp orange zest
1 tbsp honey
1 cup baby bok choy
1 cup slicked mushrooms
1 bunch of green onions
1/4 cup thinly sliced carrot sticks
1 cup brown rice
2 tsp fresh ginger, grated
few pinches of crushed red pepper


Heat peanut oil in a large saute pan over high heat.  Add chicken breast, season with salt and pepper and saute over medium heat until inside is no longer pink.  Remove fully cooked chicken breast from the pan and place on a cutting board.  I find it easier to now cut the chicken into thin strips.

Add the other tablespoon of peanut oil to the pan and heat on medium high heat.  Add bean sprouts, green onions, bok choy, carrots and mushrooms.  Cook for 2-3 minutes.  Combine orange juice, honey, chia seeds, soy sauce, ginger and orange zest in a small bowl and add to pan.  Add chicken breast.  Stir together and cook for another 4-5 minutes.  Taste and add a few pinches of crushed red pepper for an extra zing!  Serve over brown rice and enjoy!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Atlantic Cod with a Ginger Scallion Sauce

It may not seem like the most amazing sauce, but trust me, this sauce is ridiculous.  Ginger... scallions... I might even call it my kitchen's secret weapon.   And it only uses 4 ingredients.  I saw this recipe by Francis Lam on Gilt Taste and had to try it out.  Francis Lam knows good food.  He is a former editor for, currently is the Features Editor at Gilt Taste, and he has a show on the Cooking Channel, Food(ography).

The really fun part of this sauce is you get to conduct a little science experiment in the kitchen.   Growing up, science was always my favorite subject.  I loved the idea of exploring the reactions of certain elements.  In this case, you heat peanut oil until it starts to smoke.  Then you pour the peanut oil into a tall pot that contains the other 3 ingredients.  What happens is a smoky, exciting, "volcanic" reactionThe flash of intense heat makes the ginger and scallions sweeter and rounder, and infuses it all through the oil.  Your result is a fresh, salty delicious sauce.  And the volcanic reaction is cool!

This sauce is extremely versatile and could also be paired with chicken, eggs, noodles - you name it.   I topped pan-seared Atlantic Cod with my new creation the other night.  Atlantic Cod is a super healthy source of protein, low in mercury and low in calories.  Any white fish though would taste delicious with this ginger scallion sauce!

makes a lot (a little goes a long way)

2 bunches of scallions, rinsed, dried
2 ounces of ginger, peeled and cut into chunks
1 cup of peanut oil, plus 1 tbsp
1/2 tsp table salt, plus more if needed

2 pieces of Atlantic Cod (for two people, you will have a lot of extra sauce, sauce could serve up to 8 servings easily)


Heat one cup of peanut oil (you will want to use peanut oil for the flavor, but also its ability to heat to a very high temperature) on high heat until it starts to smoke. 

While the oil is heating, use a food processor to process the green scallions until they are finely chopped, but before they start to liquify.  Remove from processor and place in a large pasta pot.  (You will want something that is tall, much bigger than you think you would need)

Add ginger to your food processor and finely chop.  Add the processed ginger to your sauce pot.  Add salt.  Now here's the fun part.  (Be careful!!)  With oven mitts and your exhaust fan on high, pour the smoking peanut oil into the large pot.  Then stand back and let the oil flash fry the ginger and scallions.  After a minute, give the mixture a good stir and let sit for 15 minutes. 

Lastly, in a cast iron skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of peanut oil.  The skillet should be ready if you flick a drop of water into it and it sizzles.  Place your fish on the skillet for about 2-3 minutes depending on thickness of filet.  Flip over and cook for another 2-3 minutes till fully cooked through.  Top cod with the ginger scallion sauce and enjoy!

Follow me on Twitter! @CheesePlease531