Sunday, January 31, 2016

New ingredient, part 2!

   I am a huge fan of mushrooms... any kind, any preparation, any amount!!! In Poland we pick our own mushrooms straight from the woods (yes, that's right!) and we cook them as fresh as can be! And yes, we know exactly which one to pick and which one to stay away from... it's just one of our "Polish skills" that we are born with! I triad hundreds of different kinds of mushrooms (probably exaggerating here a little bit), but somehow I never tried Enoki mushroom... so thanks to my new year's resolution I have a perfect opportunity to do so.

   I was looking for some interesting recipes featuring Enoki, but since I didn't find anything that was "satisfying" enough, I decided to create my own.  I took the inspiration from Japanese cuisine and created a miso-ginger soup with Enoki and tofu.


* 4 cups ginger miso broth (Trader Joe's)
* 15 oz fresh Enoki mushrooms
* 2 cups baby spinach, roughly chopped
* 4 oz extra firm tofu
* 4 green onions, chopped
* 2 tbsp butter


1. Cut roots of the Enoki mushrooms, at least 2-3 inches from the end. In the small pen, melt butter and fry half of the mushroom for 6-7 minutes until golden brown, set aside.

2. Wrap tofu into 2-3 paper towels and squeeze excess water. Cut into small cubes.

3. Boil miso-ginger broth, add remaining mushrooms, spinach and chopped onions (leave some for garnish) and cook everything for 5 minutes.

4. Add tofu and cook for 4-5 minutes.

5. Pour into bowls, garnish with fried mushrooms and green onions.

   The broth is delicious - super flavorful and comforting, while fresh and light. The Enoki mushrooms are a great substitute for noodles, they are a little bit chewy and have a "bite" to them - just like noodles but without all the extra carbs and calories.


Sunday, January 24, 2016

Our Baby is two!

   I can't believe it, but it's true, Christopher just turned two (I swear, this rhyme was not intentional)! He is super funny, has strong opinions and lots to say, he loves to sing ("Let it go, let it go...") and loves to dance. He is really into cooking and baking, he always wants to help in the kitchen, he knows how to grate veggies, he can operate the KitchenAid mixer (supervised!) and he can "measure" dry ingredients (that does NOT mean that all the ingredients are getting into the bowl!)... basically what I am trying to say is that he is one awesome kid! So for his birthday we both made a hazelnut birthday cake with a Nutella frosting and chocolate glaze! He might only be two years old, but he already made his own birthday cake... and then ate a huge piece of it, but it's a different story.
Here is the recipe:

Cake Ingredients:

* 7 oz hazelnuts, grated
* 1/3 cup finely chopped hazelnuts
* 2 sticks of butter, room temp.
* 1 cup sugar
* 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
* 5 eggs
* 5 tbsp milk
* 2 tsp baking powder
* 1 tbsp vanilla extract
* pinch of salt
* 1 tbsp cocoa powder
* 1 tsp cinnamon


* 2 sticks of butter, room temp.
* 7 oz mascarpone cheese, room temp. 
* 1/3 cup powdered sugar
* 1 cup Nutella

Chocolate glaze:

* 10 oz semi sweet chocolate chips
* 1/3 cup butter
* 1 tbsp light corn syrup


1. Using a mixer beat together butter and sugar until smooth, about 5 minutes.

2. Slowly add eggs, vanilla extract and milk and mix for additional 2-3 minutes.

3. In a separate bowl, combine all dry ingredients (including nuts) and slowly add to the batter. Beat together for 2-3 minutes until combined.

4. Pour batter into two 9-inch, round, greased pans and bake at 350F for 30-35 min, until toothpick comes out dry. Transfer onto drying rack and let them cool completely (preferably overnight).

5. To make the frosting, combine butter, mascarpone and sugar and beat in the mixer for 5 minutes. Add Nutella and mix for additional 1 or 2 minutes until smooth.

6. Spread frosting between the cake layers, on the top and on the edges.

7. To make the glaze, combine chocolate chips and butter in glass bowl and microwave in 30 seconds intervals stirring after each time until melted completely, smooth and runny. Add corn syrup and pour over the cake immediately allowing the glaze to run down the sides to completely cover the cake. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to allow the glaze to set.

The cake was a hit! The birthday boy enjoyed a huge piece (so as his shirt and table and floor) and demanded another piece the second he woke up the next day (luckily we have enough to last us for ever).

   One very important piece of advice: do not forget about the cake while it's in the oven! Yes, that happened! We were playing with Christopher's train and the cake might have baked for few minutes more that it should... but it all turned out awesome and moist and delicious!

Happy Birthday My Little Man!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Power plant!

   No, not the power plant you are thinking about... I'm thinking about the plant that everybody is talking about recently and is considered a super food, apparently with some super powers! Normally, kale would not be my first choice as a green component of a salad, but I started using it more and more for two reasons: 1) it's one of the most nutritious leafy vegetables and 2) it is getting a little bit boring to always use lettuce or spinach. Everywhere I look, I see those extravagant, colorful and innovative ways to plate your salad, so I wanted to have a fancy lunch myself and I created my own kale salad extravaganza! Recipe below makes salad for one person:


* 1.5 cups baby kale
* 1/2 cup roasted butternut squash (recipe below)
* 1/2 cup shelled edamame
* 1/2 apple, chopped
* 4 grape tomatoes, halved
* 1 cooked egg
* 2 tbsp chopped red onions
* 1oz goat cheese, crumbled
* 2 tbsp balsamic vinaigrette


1. Roasted butternut squash: peel and dice one small butternut squash, coat with 1 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper and roast on a baking sheet at 400F for 20-25 minutes until tender.

2. To assemble the salad, combine all ingredients, toss together with the dressing and enjoy!

   I would add some baked chicken or turkey breast, to be honest. I didn't have any in the fridge and I was to hungry to cook/buy one (well, actually I had some until Justin ate it before I got to it!!!), but I think it would be a good addition, especially that it was my entire lunch.


Saturday, January 9, 2016

Pantry cleaning

   I'm sure we've all done it... looked into the pantry to see if we can create a dish out of things that are in there. I, personally, do it very often - it's cheap, it's convenient, and it's exciting - it allows me to "express" my creativity in the kitchen (and clean the pantry a little). Some times I look at the result of this "pantry creation" and I think to myself: what the heck was I thinking with this combination, but most of the time I am pretty pleased with the dish. Usually I am able to create something with only ingredients I find in my fridge and pantry (makes me so proud of myself), but sometimes I need an extra thing or two. This time I had to buy some peppers, but I was able to stuff them with things I already had on hand. They turned out great and extra bonus - they are diet and healthy eating friendly. The recipe serves 6 dieters following the New Year's resolution or 3 people who just want to enjoy their dinner without starving!


* 3 large red peppers
* 1 lb lean ground turkey
* 3/4 cup quick pearl barley
* 1 15oz can of petite diced tomatoes, drained
* 1 15 oz can green pigeon peas, rinsed and drained
* 1 large onion, chopped
* 1 garlic clove, minced
* 1 tbsp olive oil
* 3 tbsp shredded sharp cheddar
* 1 tsp ground cumin
* salt and pepper


1. Cook barley in excess salted water for 15-20 minutes until soft. Drain.

2. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and saute onions with a pinch of salt until translucent (5 minutes). Add garlic and cook for one more minute.

3. Add ground turkey and cook for 10 minutes.

4. Add drained diced tomatoes and pigeon peas, season with salt, pepper and cumin. Cook everything for additional 5 minutes.

5. Add drained barley and mix until everything is combined.

6. Cut peppers in half, clean the seeds and fill with the barley mixture. Arrange on the baking sheet, sprinkle with cheese and bake at 375F for 20 minutes.

   If you don't have pigeon peas, you can use black beans (or any other beans for that matter), I just happened to have few cans of those (they are Christopher's favorite), so I used them. Another tip for this recipe is that you can use more cumin powder for bolder flavor, but I wasn't sure what my two-year old thinks about cumin yet, so I went lighter on it - he loved it!


Saturday, January 2, 2016

New Year's Resolution!

   It's that time of the year again - time for the New Year's Resolutions! This year I decided to ditch the usual "losing weight" crap, I never follow through with it anyways, and I decided to be adventurous and think outside the box. My 2016 resolution is... drum roll please.... once a month I will cook with the ingredient I've never cooked before!!! How about that? It doesn't necessarily have to be something I've never ate before, given my love of food and willingness to try anything, this might be difficult. Don't get me wrong, there is plenty of exotic ingredients I haven't tried yet, but they might be difficult to get and I refuse to drive 2 hours to the specialty store to get some live cobra hearts (yes, that's right, I would totally try it)!!! So I decided to go with things I never personally cooked with in my kitchen!
To kickstart the new trend, I bought some... persimmons.

   I don't know how that happened that I've never tried them before, but somehow I always thought they would be mushy and melon-like (I do not like melons)! Well, I was wrong,  they are firm, sweet and delicious... and we are slowly getting addicted to them. I found some interesting recipes for cakes and desserts, but I figured persimmon salad might be the good way to start the new year!


* 1 lb Brussels sprouts
* 1 large persimmon, sliced and cut into pieces
* 1 pomegranate
* 1/2 cup dried blueberries
* 1/2 cup pecans, chopped


* lemon juice, from 1 lemon
* 2 tbsp honey
* 2 tbsp olive oil
* 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
* pinch of salt


1. Using a mandolin, thinly slice Brussels sprouts and transfer into the bowl.

2. Add pomegranate seeds, persimmon, blueberries and pecans.

3. Combine all ingredients of the dressing and mix well until smooth. Add to the salad, combine and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes before serving.

   Delicious! Sweet, sour, savory, crunchy and a little bit chewy (blueberries) - all flavors and textures on one plate. We paired it with some citrus baked salmon and it was a hit! So it's official now, my first experiment with new ingredients was a success!

Happy New Year,