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Archive for the ‘meat’ Category

Yes, I am less than a week away from completing my whole30. I haven’t blogged since Day 2 because, at times, I’ve actually forgotten about this challenge all together. I’ve been so consumed with bringing all the creations in my head to life! When making the decision to participate in this challenge, I was somewhat afraid that I would run out of ideas and run out of energy to make the journey seem new and exciting every single day.

It’s funny how eating cleaner has not only cleansed my body but has also rejuvenated my perspective on life. I have always loved cooking and experimenting in the kitchen. But comfort food to me used to equate to lots of rich, buttery, and likely cheesy fattyness I don’t even really regret eating because I can’t deny it was good. Within the past 22 days, I have redefined what comfort food means to me. And, dare I say, I have surprised myself along the way.

People have a lot to say about paleo/whole30. I agree that there are negative aspects, like cutting out milk– as it is a good source of calcium. However, for the most part.. the grain, the starches, and anything with added sugar.. I realize I can really do without. I’ve learned that fresh produce can be equally as satiating when cooked well. If I’m craving something sweet, I immediate think fruit.. dessert.. yes! I’ve grilled, sauteed, baked, boiled, steamed, and Magic Bulleted my way through every meal and I’m absolutely loving how something as simple as careful and conscious preparation can make food taste better!

Let me update you on some of my creations:

Day 3: open faced omelet with sauteed peppers and onions, cherry tomatoes, avocado, cilantro, fresh lime juice, s+p

 

 

 

 

 

chicken salad (roasted chicken breast, avocado, lime , cilantro, onion) on a bed of romaine with apple slices drizzled with cashew butter

 

 

paleo blueberry muffins- made with almond flour, almond butter, and coconut oil

 

 

 

 

zucchini ribbons with mushrooms, coated with a light garlic sauce and topped with chopped almonds

 

 

 

 

smashed strawberry, peach, mango, pineapple, lime filled with pellegrino and finished off with some blueberries

 

Day 4: mixed greens salad with apple, avocado, tomato, green onion, and almond flour and coconut encrusted chicken

Day 5: homemade real fruit popsicle

 

Day 6: paleo pancakes with warm blueberry syrup and bacon on the side

Baked salmon with lemon pepper, steamed veggies, and zucchini bacon scallion fritters

Day 7: grilled burger with lettuce, tomato, homemade guac, and crispy bacon

 

Day 8: salmon with basil and walnut pesto.. And maple glazed sweet potato fries.

Sliced banana, almond butter, blueberries, and toasted coconut

 

Day 9: Zucchini boats with sausage and vegetable marinara filling

Day 10: Egg scramble with bell pepper, salmon, and green onion. And banana and almond butter drizzled with honey

Personal paleo pizza.. leftover sausage marinara, bell pepper, onion, mushrooms, olives, arugula, tomato, and basil

Apple sauteed with orange juice and topped with warmed slivered almonds, cinnamon and a drizzle of honey

Day 11: Fried “rice” made with cauliflower.

Day 12: Frozen fruit blended with banana.. nice and thick and refreshing. Better than ice cream!

Day 13: Paleo waffles with warm strawberry syrup

Day 14: BBQed chicken over slaw.

Day 15: Asparagus and sausage frittata

Day 16: Paleo banana pancakes topped with almond butter, warm strawberry syrup, and cinnamon

Day 17: Fish and chips– white fish battered with almond flour and coconut flour, baked sweet potato chips, and roasted red pepper and garlic dip

 

Day 19: Homemade trail mix– almonds, walnuts, dried cranberries, dried blueberries, and toasted coconut. Great snack! I make a big batch so I always have some on hand!

Grilled zucchini, bell pepper, onion, cherry tomatoes, and chicken

Day 20: BBQed pork chop with grilled vegetable, avocado, cilantro, and lime slaw

Frozen mashed banana with toasted coconut mixed in.. topped with warm strawberry sauce, slivered almonds, and extra toasted coconut

Day 21: Fried egg with mixed greens salad drizzled with balsamic

Personal portobello pizza with homemade sauce, hot Italian sausage, caramelized onions, and olives. Also, simple arugula and seasoned sweet potato salad

Day 22: Turkey and spicy sausage meatballs baked and then simmered in homemade marinara sauce.. on top of a sweet potato and roasted red pepper mash.. and arugula salad with avocado, tomatoes, olives, and red onion

Clearly, I had to make up for all the posts I never wrote. As you can tell, most times I’ll use the same ingredients over and over.. but I do try to prepare them differently each time. For some things, like the paleo waffles, pancakes, muffins and almond flour pizza crust, I did search the web for a good recipes to follow. But that’s about it.. for the most part, I’ve been cooking based on my instincts and it’s worked out well so far.

Each day, I’m learning more and more about food and expanding my palate to tastes and food pairings I’ve never really tried before. Since I started my whole30, I have not used any processed foods. Everything, including all the sauces and dips, have been made fresh.

I’m finding that now when I go grocery shopping, I’m usually walking in without a real plan– which is so unlike me. Usually, I make a list and check it twice. But I truly believe that clean eating is really about how food inspires you. I spend the most time in the produce section, circling around a few times to scan all the fresh goodies. Not relying on a list is actually a very freeing experience. I also scope out multiple grocery stores to grab ingredients.. Whole Foods for the freshly ground almond butter, almond and coconut flours, and coconut oil.. Trader Joe’s for just about everything else.. And a few trips to Safeway just because it’s closer.

I hope some of my whole30 creations have made the 30-day challenge a little less intimidating for those of you who are interested. Paleo/whole30 is not difficult at all. But, like all good things, it does take time. I do have lazy days where I contemplate just eating the same meal for a few days in a row. The key to staying motivated and sticking to eating clean is avoiding those lazy moments. I literally open all my cabinets and stand in front of my refrigerator for a few minutes at least once a day– sometimes more when I feel like my creativity is fading– and asking myself “What will I make today?”

 

I’m shocked that I’ve completed Day 22 already. I’ve really never felt better! I’m definitely appreciating and enjoying food so much more and I have also established way more confidence in the kitchen.¬†I know I have a lot more paleo/whole30 left in me! Stay tuned.. it’s not over yet!

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Today is my second day of paleo/whole30. Sometimes, after eating a big pasta meal, the morning after I feel like crap.. like why did I overindulge? I felt so energized and happy. My stomach didn’t feel like I had just grown a food baby overnight.. always a positive.

I had early morning class today, so I was able to establish a routine for school days. I woke up 30 minutes earlier than usual, so I could make a good breakfast before class. My usual cereal in a bowl with milk takes about 1 minute, but that is all over now. I made a quick egg scramble with a little bit of diced onion and tomato. I was in somewhat of a hurry, so I skipped the green bell pepper, avocado, and lettuce.. but that’s all going in tomorrow for sure!

On the way to school, I snacked on an apple that I had sliced up. I wanted to make sure I had enough sustenance because it’s a long class– a pretty quiet class that can definitely hear my loud grumbling stomach. Luckily, I got out of class earlier than I thought, so I was able to get home and relax. I warmed up a spoonful of the turkey filling from last night’s meal and chopped up some lettuce to go with it. Just as good as it was last night. I also snacked on a couple wasabi seaweed and trail mix again. So addicting. But, I realized that I should start putting together make-ahead meals on my days off. Knowing I’m always a little bit lazy after class to do all the prep work, it’ll be much easier to keep up with the plan and also not overeat and scour the refrigerator for something to inhale.

After I gulped down tons of water, I went outside to get some vitamin D. Poolside pilates is my favorite summer activity. I have to take advantage of this beautiful sunshine while I can! My neighbors definitely think I’m crazy.

For dinner, I kept it simple. Roasted chicken, medley of steamed veggies, and kale sauteed with garlic and tossed with chopped walnuts.

Although this was a basic meal, it did take a bit of time.. not that I mind, personally. In order to maximize the flavors from all the fresh produce, it’s important to not rush the process. I steamed the broccoli and carrots. Then set those aside on a plate. Using the same pan, I added a little bit of olive oil, sauteed onions and added mushrooms once the onions were already softened. I threw the broccoli and carrots back into the pan and seasoned it all up with a little bit of salt and pepper. These veggies were amazing! The sweetness of the onions and carrots balanced out the broccoli and mushrooms. I could have just eaten the whole batch of veggies for dinner alone. Using the same plan, I sauteed kale with garlic. Then, I was thinking I needed a little bit of texture and at the last minute added a handful of chopped walnuts.

I’ve been looking on instagram, blogs, etc etc for paleo/whole30 ideas. I feel so inspired looking at what other people are making! Tomorrow is my day off, so I will be on a mission.

A little more pilates before bed and tomorrow is another day!

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I had a 4-week break from life and I went a little food crazy. Here’s a taste of what’s been going on in my kitchen..

Egg and Cheddar Breakfast Panini

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Chicken and Vegetable Lasagna

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Eggplant Parm

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Baked Ziti with Chicken

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Cheddar Jalapeno Popovers

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Homemade Fresh Whole Wheat Fettuccine with Pesto, Cherry Tomatoes, Feta, Arugula and Grilled Zucchini

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Nachos: Multigrain Chips, Mozzarella. Tomatoes, Lettuce, and Guacamole

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Smore’s Cookies

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Chocolate Chunk Cookies

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Rice Krispies Bears

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Okay.. I think I went a little photo crazy. Minus the baked goods (which I bake but don’t eat anyway), I feel like I try to incorporate lots of vegetables in my diet. However, I am definitely a lover of all things bread, pasta, and cheese. My 3 food groups.. I could, without a doubt, live off of those three things alone.

I am not in denial about my high refined flour intake or the sprinkles of cheese I put on just about everything. I can scarf it all down and not even feel guilty about it. But since I finally have time to spend some time in the kitchen again, why not change it up? Perhaps because it’s summer time, I’m feeling inspired by clean eating. And thus cue in paleo.

I’ve been doing a little research on this paleo/ whole30 thing. I hate to call it a diet, so I won’t. When I think of diets, I think of those anorexic types who nibble, skip meals, and forget that we need calories to survive. I don’t nibble and will never weigh my food. Being such a foodie, I am more interested in expanding my normal repertoire and tapping into my creativity by coming up with new ways to appreciate fresh produce and ingredients at their peak.

Since I have overeaten pasta, bread, dairy for so long, I think it’ll be good for me to take a break from it all at least. In addition, paleo means no legumes, or starches (like those delicious white potatoes I love so much and even corn). And I’ve never been a sweets person, so I’m not even going to stress that one.

So, what CAN I eat? Vegetables, fruit, lean meat, eggs, seafood, nuts and seeds. That’s pretty much it. The key is to avoid processed foods and, for me, start eating more consciously. I want to purge my body of all the crap I’ve been feeding it. Most people would dread this style of eating, but I’m actually really excited! Plus, it helps that I have a wedding to attend in about 32 days. Hoping to be happy, healthy, and lean by then.

Today was the first day of my 30 day adventure. For brunch ( I woke up late), I had a smoothie with frozen strawberries, banana, and applesauce ( I hope applesauce is okay.. it said 100% pure and no sugar added!). It was delicious and filling. It tied me over while I went to run my errands.

Once I got back from Trader Joe’s, I immediately munched on a few of these..

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Yum! I love this.. especially the kick of the wasabi. It’s light and crisp.. great substitute for chips. Also had a handful of this amazing trail mix that made it into the basket from TJ’s.

Then for dinner, I made turkey lettuce wraps with fresh guacamole. For the filling, I sauteed diced onions and green peppers, added the ground turkey, then chopped mushrooms and finely chopped jalapeno. Once that all cooked together, I seasoned it up. SO easy. The fresh guacamole included avocado, tomato, a little finally chopped onion, cilantro, a squeeze of fresh lime, and salt and pepper to taste.

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This was my very first attempt at making a lettuce wrap and I LOVED it!! It ended up being more hearty than I had anticipated. I thought I would still feel hungry, but actually I was full but not painfully stuffed. In the past, whenever I had to choose between lettuce wrap and pasta, of course I always chose pasta. So I really just never knew how delicious lettuce wraps could be! It’s Taco Tuesday and I wasn’t even missing the taco shell..and cheese.. and sour cream. Truth!

I believe putting in the time to prepare all the ingredients is the most important part. Even though I didn’t follow a recipe, having an image of what I wanted to include definitely did help. And that’s the essence of why I love eating like this so much! It’s just so much fun coming up with new things and trying out new combinations!

So happy to share this new adventure with you! I will keep this updated with all my creations. I encourage everyone to join me for the next 30 days! ūüôā

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Oh, bread. Why are you so scrumptious? I have a serious weakness for 3 things: bread, cheese, and potatoes. Maybe these are my top 3 because they can be devoured in so many different forms. But of the three, bread is especially fascinating for a baker like me. And fresh bread is just incredible.

Yesterday, I was really craving something fresh yet substantial. Immediately, I thought of a Caprese salad. Afterall, what’s not to love? Mozzarella.. Good. Tomato.. Good. Basil.. Good. Put them all together.. GOOOOOOOD. But when I stopped by the bakery, I felt the urge to grab a fresh loaf of French bread. So I decided to build a Caprese French Bread instead.

I sliced the loaf in half to give myself two flat platforms. Next, in a small saucepan, I infused a couple cloves of minced garlic into melted butter at medium heat. That mixture was liberally brushed onto the open bread. I placed the garlic bread on a large sheet tray and baked at 425 degrees until the bread started to get slightly crispy– when edges begin to turn a golden color and the soft middle is just toasted. Then I piled sliced tomato and fresh mozzarella (crumbled into large chunky pieces) all over the garlic bread and popped it back into the oven until the cheese was completely melted. The final touch was a chiffonade of fresh basil sprinkled generously over the top with a little salt and pepper. I chopped the Caprese French bread up into individual serving sizes and they were ready to gobble up! Fresh. Crunchy. Satisfying!

Today, particularly inspired to use my cast iron skillet, I was determined to make these Rapid Rolls I saw on Kelsey’s Essentials on The Cooking Channel. I’ve made many doughs requiring yeast, but this is by far the easiest recipe I’ve come across to date. Anyone can achieve equally as impressive results with just 2 essential tools– a stand mixer and a cast iron skillet.

Rapid Rolls (Courtesy of Kelsey Nixon)

INGREDIENTS

3 (.25- oz) packets active dry yeast
1 3/4 cups warm water
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup melted butter, plus more for brushing
2 teaspoons, plus more for sprinkling
2 large eggs, beaten
4 to 6 cups flour, plus more if needed

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the instant yeast, and warm water. Let it activate for 5 minutes until bubbly. Stir in the honey.

On low speed, add 1/2 cup melted butter, 2 teaspoons salt, and eggs. Slowly add the flour cup-by-cup until fully incorporated and the dough pulls away from the sides of the mixing bowl. Add more flour if it is too sticky.

Portion the dough into 24 even servings. Form the rolls into desired shape and place in a cast iron skillet or on a baking sheet spaced evenly apart. Set aside and allow to rise approximately 20 minutes, or until doubled in size. Brush the rolls with melted butter.

Bake for 25 minutes until the tops are golden brown. Remove from the oven and brush with more melted butter, and sprinkle with a little salt.

Notes: Rapid Rolls

When making the dough, I only used 1/4 cup of honey versus the 1/2 cup stated in the recipe. I opted out of making the dough too sweet, because I don’t like sweet dinner rolls. I only used half of the dough to make 12 rolls in my cast iron skillet. With the other half of the dough, I will probably use it to make cinnamon rolls tomorrow morning. When using the rest of the dough, I can then control the sweetness and taste by adding a trusty combination of brown sugar, butter, and cinnamon.

Other than the amount of honey, I followed the recipe as it is.. Even the melted butter before and after baking and a final sprinkling of Kosher salt at the end. The butter and salt at the very end really bring out the flavor of the rolls, so do it!

This is what the rolls looked like before popping them into the oven (with the tops brushed with melted butter)…

And then, straight out of the oven..

When I broke into the perfectly-pieced puzzle of rolls, I fell in love. The rolls pull apart effortlessly. They are light, fluffy, and wonderful. These rolls will surely be at my Thanksgiving table! I suggest you bring them to yours, as well. Super for soaking up all the gravy!

But what did I decide to do with these rolls? I made sliders! I seasoned some ground beef and cooked the patties with my cast iron skillet on the stovetop.

Thanksgiving will be even better this year now that I’ve discovered this recipe. After the big Thanksgiving feast, I can’t wait to make little mini Thanksgiving leftover sandwiches with these!! I can already imagine the turkey, dressing, and gravy goodness stuffed into these yummy rolls!

Bread is most often represented as something we munch on before the meal or as a side to compliment a dish. However, once in a while, highlight the beauty of freshly baked bread. Break that bread apart and decorate it with the food you love most.

nom nom nom,

B

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Mom says I never make any of my great creations while M is home. Geez. It’s not like I’m a professional here. But I promised that I would feed M well while she is home for the holidays. The holiday baking was quite intense, but we all survived. Unfortunately, the pounds of brown sugar, powdered sugar, chocolate, flour, eggs, and vanilla did not make it past December 25th. Christmas was a big baked goods extravaganza. But now, it’s time to settle back into reality.

So, I’ve been repeating a number of the recipes I’ve already tested for M to try out. Poor girl never got the chance to indulge the first time around. She finally tried the caramel corn when I made it for Christmas. Yesterday we made strombolis with tomato basil sauce, pepperoni, salami, and mozzarella. This morning, we made buttermilk pancakes. M didn’t quite understand the process. It is obviously more effort than using pancake mix from a box. However, like I said before, it is well worth it. M gobbled up the light, fluffy, airy, scrumptious buttermilk pancakes hot off the griddle. So good that she didn’t even want syrup! What a happy camper.. Made me happy to share the same pancake heaven I experienced for the first time a few weeks ago.

It’s been nice having someone around to eat all this food! Sometimes, it gets overwhelming producing so much food without enough mouths to finish everything when it’s hot, fresh, at its most desired eatability. Today, after buttermilk pancakes, I made the pizza dough again. This time, we used the pizza dough recipe to make pizzas instead of strombolis. We had a whole bunch of extra ingredients. In addition to the tomato basil sauce, pepperoni, salami, and mozzarella, I loaded some sauteed chopped broccoli, red bell pepper, and onion onto my pizza.

We had a couple somethings hot.. so, to mix it up, here’s something cold. It may be winter, but you can’t fool me– it’s never too cold for ice cream. As you know, I’ve only made ice cream once before and I told you I would continue to put my ice cream maker to use.

Last night, I adapted my own Orange Creamsicle Ice Cream using the Ben and Jerry’s French Vanilla Ice Cream recipe as a guide. The plan was to create a vanilla ice cream base and orange combination that will model the idea of an orange creamsicle.

Orange Creamsicle Ice Cream

INGREDIENTS

2 eggs
3/4 cups white granulated sugar
2 cups whipping cream
3/4 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
8 fl oz. (1/2 16 fl oz can) frozen orange juice concentrate

DIRECTIONS

1. Whisk the eggs until light and fluffy

2. Whisk in the sugar until completely blended.

3. Pour in the whipping cream and milk. Whisk until blended. Then add vanilla extract and frozen orange juice concentrate, and keep whisking until smooth.

4. Transfer the mixture to an ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

5. Store in an airtight container and keep in the freezer.

If you love ice cream and orange like me, you will adore this recipe. It’s refreshing, creamy, and better than any creamsicle you will ever eat!

For a special treat, ditch the extra sweet toppings and make an ice cream float! I placed a couple scoops of my Orange Creamsicle ice cream into a glass. Then, instead of using soda, I topped my glass off with Martinelli’s Apple Sparkling Cider. It’s fabulous!!

M will be around for a few more days before she returns back to the other coast right after New Years. I’m sure we will have a many more adventures in our kitchen before she leaves. With that said, I should start coordinating a few more meal ideas for the rest of the week.

nom nom nom.

B

P.S. Thanks for the mention, M. ūüôā

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My preparation for the Christmas holiday weighed heavily on developing a variety of baked goodies for Mom’s side of the family. But, particularly, this Christmas was filled with happier memories than most.

We usually don’t spend much time visiting with the relatives during the Christmas holiday– a rushed one day trip. This year, we were able to spend the whole weekend at my grandparents’ house, resulting in a more relaxed celebration. Quality family time.

I must get my intensity in the kitchen from Mom’s side of the family. My grandparents are excellent cooks. They wake up at the crack of dawn just to make sure our meals together are memorable. Sure enough, they always succeed. During the holidays, boy do they produce.

My aunt, who formally baked all the Christmas cookies, brought over a few side dishesРa layered bean dip, salad,  potato casserole, etc etc etc.. A couple of my other aunts also supplied dishes for the dinner. My grandparents presented a carved turkey and hamРa showmanship of edible artwork. M caught a picture of the turkey platter before it made its way to the table.

I ate my heart out on Christmas day. We had a well-balanced buffet of food and a case of Blue Moon stocked in the refrigerator. Needless to say, I didn’t even make it to dessert.

When I woke up, I wasn’t even hungry. My aunt and my cousin stopped by the house. They went after-Christmas shopping at 6am. HAH. Not me. The idea of after-Christmas shopping didn’t even phase me; I would rather avoid the traffic and long check-out lines. However, it somehow became an outing. And as the hours passed, my tummy was growling for food. M, Dad, Zach, and I piled into one car. None of us in the car except M really cared about shopping. Zach and I figured we had a better chance at getting food if we left the house since the grandparents were spending the day preparing dinner. It wasn’t long before our car became the¬†I’m Hungry crew.

Eventually, in between shopping locations, my hungry tummy welcomed a Double Double and a strawberry shake from In-N-Out. YUMMM. I haven’t had In-N-Out in while, but danggggg.. that was TOO GOOD! The toasted and buttered bun, the juicy burgers, the crisp lettuce, the tasty sauce.. tomatoes, cheese.. Mmm. Don’t make me go on..DROOL.

The Double Double tied me over for the remainder of the shopping outing until finally heading back to the house for dinner. Prime Rib Night.. You don’t even know!!! But just to taunt your taste buds.. here’s a picture of one of the three dishes of prime rib!!

The prime rib melt in my mouth with savory satisfaction. After I inhaled my first piece drenched in gravy within 3 minutes after sitting down at the table, I went for a second piece. I put myself into a very pleasant Prime Rib Coma, watched the NBA game on tv, and ended the night watching She’s the Man with Zach. LOVE STM!

Stuffed from the night before, I slept off my coma and woke up late. Before packing up the car, I found myself in the tangerine tree in my grandparents’ backyard.

My grandparents told me to pluck the tangerines from their tree to take home. He didn’t want the tangerines going bad up there. So, I went in for the kill and felt oddly comfortable up in that tree. It ended up being a bigger hoopla than I thought.. Pictures were taken to document the experience.

I may have gotten carried away with all these tangerine pictures.. similar to how devoted I became to the process of collecting these little fellas. If you cannot already tell from some of the content in my blog, I have a pretty steady love affair with orange.. the color, the fruit, all of the above.

Sometimes, I feel like an orange– built with multiple layers. Zest, pith, pips, juice.. citrusy, sweet, sour, fragrant, bright.. An orange holds purpose. It is somewhat undecided in how it would like to be presented to the world, as it is does not have one distinguishable quality. Instead, it allows the world to have a taste of everything it has to offer, fitting in wherever it’s needed.

The light in the day paired with the bright orangey color of the tangerines was a perfect combination.¬†The tangerine, cousin to the beloved orange, adventure was a wonderful closing to the weekend’s festivities.

I may have been a little overzealous in collecting tangerines, but they sure are sweet!

nom nom nom.

B

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I hate to see my blog steering solely towards baked goods and sweets. The truth is, savory food really hits the spot for me. However, unlike the meals I used to prepare with my friends in college, I am hoping to do more than just cook a 30-minute meal. I know how to grill. I know how to throw together a hearty meat lasagna. I know all the shortcuts. But now, I’m trying to avoid them all. I want to explore my abilities in the kitchen and bring something new to the table.. literally.

Luckily I have an open palette to match my open mind, so there is nothing holding me back. A serious foodie never discriminates against food! And with that said, part of my mission is to also honor dishes of various styles, backgrounds, and cultures on this journey.

This morning, I came across a half moon press in our baking drawer– 3 half moon presses, actually (small, medium, and large). My mom bought them many many years ago, probably thinking we could use them to make pastries.. even though she doesn’t bake. She really loves kitchen knickknacks. (Guilty. I get that from my mama.) But what’s the point in owning appliances and gadgets that aren’t being used?¬†Big pet peeve. Hence my sudden urge to break in the ice cream maker and popcorn maker within the past couple of months.

It took me about 20 seconds to think to myself: Empanadas! The half moon press is perfect for empanadas! And I saved myself a trip to the grocery store, because I had all the ingredients for the dough. As for the filling, I quickly played around with a few ideas in my head as I scanned the kitchen. I wasn’t worried.

Empanada Dough

INGREDIENTS

2-1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter (1 stick), cut into 1/2-in cubes
1 large egg
1/3 cup ice water
1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar

DIRECTIONS:

1. Sift flour with salt into a large bowl and blend in butter with your fingertips or a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse meal with some (roughly pea-size) butter lumps.

2. Beat together egg, water, and vinegar in a small bowl with a fork. Add to flour mixture, stirring with a fork until just incorporated. (Mixture will look shaggy.)

3. Turn out mixture onto a lightly floured surface and gather together, then knead gently with heel of your hand once or twice, just enough to bring the dough together. Form dough into a flat rectangle and chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, at least 1 hour.

*Recipe courtesy of Epicurious.

The empanada dough is comparable to a flaky P√Ęte Bris√©e (tart or pie dough). Same basic ingredients, same procedure. The addition of the egg, which differs from a P√Ęte Bris√©e, acts as a binding force for empanadas. When rolling out the dough, you will see that it has a semi-elastic quality that a P√Ęte Bris√©e does not.¬†Thus, when baked, the empanada will be able to hold its shape (and the filling) and won’t immediately crumble apart when broken into to eat! The final empanada will have a bite to it.. a slightly tender chew.. with a flaky exterior.

Once you place the dough into the refrigerator, keep time in mind; you have an hour to spare. It’s better to let the dough chill in the refrigerator for a little bit longer (if the filling isn’t quite done) than have the filling be ready before the 1-hour chill time is up. It only took me about 30 minutes to make my filling, including prep time.

This is my original recipe for the filling I created:

Sausage, Spinach, and Mushroom Empanada Filling

INGREDIENTS

1 package of frozen sausage links (I used Hot Italian because I like the spicy flavor), defrosted
1 medium onion, sliced (cut in half vertically, then cut in slices end to end)
2 cups white mushrooms, sliced
1 cup uncooked spinach, washed and dried
3 tablespoons sour cream

DIRECTIONS

1. Cut a slit in each sausage link with a knife and remove meat from the casing.

2. Place sausage meat, onions, and mushrooms into a heated and lightly oiled pan. Cook on medium to medium high heat. Stir occasionally and break up large chunks of sausage to ensure thorough cooking.

3. When the meat has just about reached its doneness, stir in spinach. Let the spinach wilt down. Then add sour cream, stirring until incorporated. Turn the heat down to medium low and keep it on the stove for about 3 more minutes.

4. Take the pan off the stove. Let the filling cool down before placing it onto the empanada dough.


After you add the sour cream and let it all heat up a little longer, the filling really came together. The sour cream thickened the juices from the ingredients. By allowing the filling to cool down, the juices dissipate and get soaked up by the whole mixture.

So, let’s see how it’s all put together..

I removed my chilled dough from the refrigerator. Lightly flour the board and rolling pin.. keep some ¬†flour around for additional use but avoid over-flouring. Roll out the dough to an approximate 1/8″ thickness. It should be rolled out fairly thin, but NOT paper thin. I just know I don’t want them to end up too doughy. I hate that.

For the next part, my medium half moon press comes into play. But,¬†remember, if you don’t have a half moon press, don’t be intimidated. You can use the same procedure. Instead, cut your dough into circles (for a half moon shape) or rectangles (for a square shape) and pinch to close with your fingers or the back of a fork.

I was able to use the back of my press to cut out the circle shape into my dough. I rolled and cut, re-rolled and cut.. until all the dough was used up, placing all my circles onto a plate. I prepared an egg wash (one beaten egg) in a small bowl.

I placed the dough on the inside of my press, added the filling into the center with a little bit of shredded cheese (although the empanada surely doesn’t need it).

With a small dabble of egg wash, I brushed along the edge of the dough. This acts as the glue.. keeping it sealed up.

Then, all I had to do was press the two handles together. Tip: If the dough circles feel sticky, lightly flour one side (the side laying directly on the press) with your fingertips. Do so as needed.

Once all the empanadas were pressed. I place them onto a cookie sheet. Brushed each with the egg wash. Fit as many empanadas onto the sheet as you can without crowding.

I put the sheet into a preheated 400 degree oven for about 15 minutes, checking them out periodically and rotating the sheet halfway through. I knew they were done when they turned a golden brown color.

And there you have it.. Empanadas! Or shall I say MmmPanadas.

nom nom nom.

B

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