Monthly Archives: May 2013

Slow Cooker Guinness Beef Tacos with Chimichurri

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I have been working really hard at improving my food photos. Have you noticed?

I’ve invested in lights to improve the color and lighting of the photos. HomeGoods has benefited from my ransacking of their shelves for new dishes, table linens, and cutlery. I’ve even been scouring salvage shops looking for interesting wood, stone, tile or marble backgrounds that I can use. Above is a nice maple tabletop that I found and am in the process of refinishing.

I’ve even been known to use the stone floor in my kitchen or the wood floors in my living room as backdrops on occasion. I just have to keep the dog sequestered in another part of the house so he doesn’t eat the food before I can take the photos. He has this silly idea that if it’s on the floor it belongs to him.
In September, I am going to my first ever food blogger’s conference, the International Food Blogger Conference 2013 in Seattle. There are three session tracks focusing on either Food, Writing or Tech. I am particularly excited about the Tech workshop track which includes food photography classes from renowned New York Times photographer, Andrew Scrivani. Studying food photo tips on the internet is one thing, learning from a master in person is quite another.

If you’re a food blogger, I hope to see you at the IFBC. Registration is just $95 for active food bloggers, as long as you agree to write 3 blog posts about the conference either before, during or after. And guess what? This just counted as one!

Slow Cooker Guinness Beef Tacos with Chimichurri
 
Author: 
Nutrition Information
  • Serves: 4
  • Calories: 437.3
  • Fat: 18.0
  • Saturated fat: 5.2
  • Polyunsaturated fat: 1.4
  • Carbohydrates: 31.1
  • Sugar: 5.5
  • Sodium: 244.4
  • Fiber: 5.2
  • Protein: 37.4
  • Cholesterol: 88.8
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Beef
I've slow cooked a beef roast in thick, dark Guinness ale then shredded and layered it in tacos with peppery chimichurri sauce. Does healthy eating get any better than this?
Ingredients
  • 1.3 lbs. raw beef bottom round roast, fat trimmed
  • 1 cup Guinness extra stout ale
  • 1.5 oz. fresh Italian parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1.5 oz. fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 2 fresh jalapeno peppers with seeds, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • pinch coarse sea salt
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • juice of 2 limes
  • 2 tbsp water
  • ½ lb. red cabbage, shredded
  • 8 white corn tortillas
  • 1 oz. cotija cheese
Instructions
  1. Place the beef roast in the bottom of a slow cooker (crockpot) and cover with the Guinness. Cover and cook on low for up to 10 hours.
  2. Remove the roast from the slow cooker and discard all but about ¼ cup of the remaining juice in the pot. Use 2 forks to shred the beef, stirring it back into the remaining juice, cover and set aside.
  3. Put the parsley, cilantro, jalapenos, garlic and salt into a food processor. Whisk together the olive oil, lime juice and water. With the food processor on high, slowly drizzle the oil mixture in until the chimichurri is roughly pureed and the texture of pesto.
  4. Heat 1 corn tortilla in a skillet on medium heat. Flip and, once warmed through so that the tortilla is soft and flexible, gently fold in half so as not to break it. Continue cooking about 1-2 minutes on each side until lightly crisp. Repeat for the remaining tortillas.
  5. Gently pull the cooked taco shell open, lay red cabbage shreds across the bottom, top with some of the shredded beef, and spoon chimichurri sauce over the top.
  6. Use a microplaner to finely grate the cotija cheese over the tops of all of the tacos. Serve immediately.

 

Video Demonstration of Slow Cooker Guinness Beef Tacos with Chimichurri

Chicken and Strawberry Flatbread with Mint Pesto

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I love strawberry season. I have thick beds of strawberry plants in my garden and they are currently covered in brilliant white flowers and green, seedy berries. So, officially, strawberry season has not yet started in the Pacific Northwest. But, this is the time of year when those big, juicy California strawberries start appearing on the produce shelves and I can’t help sneaking a pint – or two – into my cart.

Perhaps my love of strawberries goes back to my childhood. Strawberry was almost my name after all. No, really. I’m seriously not kidding.

You see my parents were your prototypical 60’s California hippies, to the point that they lived in a barn when I was born – we lived upstairs, the goats lived downstairs – and I was a natural, home birth. So yes, I was born in a barn. That’s right, if I leave the door open then you know I have a darn good excuse.

Before I was born, though, the name game started. Initially, I was going to be called Strawberry.

Come on. Put it together. You can do it.

That’s right. My last name is Fields so I literally would have been Strawberry Fields. Forever.

Thankfully my parents’ good friends, John and Paige, had a little boy shortly before me that they named Strawberry and so I was spared from such a fate. By the way, he has since changed his name to Jesse.

Then, my mother decided to name me Willow, for she was certain I would be tall and willowy just like her. My mom is 5’10” and the women in her family are all lithe, tall beauties. Unfortunately, while I inherited my mother’s love of cooking, gardening, and entertaining friends and family, I did not inherit her height or body type. I am just over 5’4″, in fact both my kids are taller than me.

Sigh.

Fortunately for me, though, my Nana stepped in. My stubborn, determined Nana who had always longed for a daughter but was unable to have more children after my father and uncle. And here I came, the first grandchild, her long-awaited girl, and sporting a tuft of downy strawberry-blonde hair identical to her own beloved mother’s. It was love at first sight.

Upon seeing me, my Nana cried “Oh what a bonny Colleen!” Then my father exclaimed, “Colleen! That’s a perfect name!” And so I became Colleen and escaped the burden of being Strawberry Fields. Forever.

Or at least that’s the way my Nana tells it. This is one of her favorite stories. She is turning a spry 93 years-old this week, her memory isn’t what it used to be, but she will tell you this story over and over again if you let her. Then she will loudly whisper “She’s my favorite, you know” and I will dutifully remind her that she has other grandchildren and she shouldn’t say that. But inside I am secretly bubbling with joy because I adore her just as much.

My mom remembers this naming episode slightly differently – it was more of an order than a cutesy exclamation according to her – but I prefer my Nana’s. To me, it signifies the beginning of an incredible bond that she and I have shared as long as I can remember. She has been an indelible, inspirational influence on me as a woman and I’m blessed for every additional day I have her in my life. I can’t imagine my life without her.

Happy birthday Nana!

Chicken and Strawberry Flatbread with Mint Pesto
 
Author: 
Nutrition Information
  • Serves: 4
  • Calories: 295.8
  • Fat: 9.7
  • Saturated fat: 2.3
  • Polyunsaturated fat: 0.5
  • Carbohydrates: 23.2
  • Sugar: 4.5
  • Sodium: 641.2
  • Fiber: 10.3
  • Protein: 33.9
  • Cholesterol: 70.0
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Poultry
Strawberries are in season and that's a perfect excuse to put a unique twist on your meal by arranging these sweet berries on flatbread spread with a mint pesto, coupled with lean chicken breast, and finished with a sprinkling of creamy goat cheese. Delicious!
Ingredients
  • 1½ oz. fresh mint leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 1½ oz. fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • pinch of coarse sea salt
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 4 pieces Flat Out flatbread - multigrain with flax
  • ½ lb. fresh strawberries, sliced
  • 2 oz. goat cheese crumbles
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425F.
  2. Put the mint, basil, garlic and salt into the bowl of a food processor.
  3. Whisk together the lemon juice and olive oil.
  4. Set the food processor on high and very slowly drizzle in the lemon juice-olive oil mixture until the mixture is finely pureed and creamy. Remove from the food processor and set aside.
  5. Grill the chicken on a barbecue or in an indoor grill pan for about 2-3 minutes on each side or until cooked through. Remove from heat and chop into bite size pieces. Set aside.
  6. Place the flat bread on a baking sheet and bake for 4 minutes.
  7. Remove from the oven and turn the flatbread over.
  8. Spread each slice of flatbread with the mint pesto.
  9. Sprinkle the chicken breast pieces over the pesto.
  10. Spread the strawberries over the chicken pieces.
  11. Sprinkle ½ oz. of crumbled goat cheese over each piece of flat bread.
  12. Bake for 4 minutes until warmed through. Serve immediately.

 

Video Demonstration of Chicken and Strawberry Flatbread with Mint Pesto

Whiskey Ginger Steak and Farro Salad

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A recent feature in a roundup of alcohol-infused recipes from SHAPE magazine (in which my Baked, Beer-Batter Tilapia Fish Sticks were featured) left me with a yearning to experiment with liquor. Couple that with my recent trip to Ireland, and you know that a dish featuring some nice, smooth Irish whiskey can’t be too far behind.

And so my Whiskey Ginger Steak and Farro Salad was born. I was inspired by the intoxicating (literally) flavor of the whiskey ginger that I sipped at the Jameson Distillery in Dublin and the plethora of farro recipes that I’ve seen all over the food blog world recently. You see, I’m not much of a cocktail drinker, I really enjoy wine much more. But, I have discovered that I truly love a good Irish whiskey. Jameson’s is okay, but the 12 year reserve Redbreast leaves me happy and warm all over.

For this recipe, I mix up a marinade of whiskey – preferably Irish – ginger, olive oil, and a bit of lime juice and then marinate the flank steak overnight. The long soak process tenderizes the steak and infuses a sharp flavor of sweet caramel with undertones of pepper and tart citrus.

I then grill up the steak and nestle it atop a bed of salad consisting of nutty farro and sauteed asparagus and red onion. It is delicious, quick to prepare, and as good as (better than?) any trendy Portland restaurant fare.

Whiskey Ginger Steak and Farro Salad
 
Author: 
Nutrition Information
  • Serves: 4
  • Calories: 352.9
  • Fat: 16.3
  • Saturated fat: 4.7
  • Polyunsaturated fat: 1.3
  • Carbohydrates: 19.5
  • Sugar: 1.4
  • Sodium: 203.8
  • Fiber: 4.3
  • Protein: 28.0
  • Cholesterol: 56.7
Recipe type: Salad
Cuisine: Beef
Flavors of smooth whiskey and peppery ginger infuse a hearty yet healthy and easy to make salad.
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup whiskey (preferably Irish)
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 oz. fresh ginger root
  • juice of 1 lime
  • pinch coarse sea salt
  • dash freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1⅓ lb. raw flank steak
  • ¾ cup uncooked farro
  • 1 lb. fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-1/12" pieces
  • ½ red onion, halved again and thinly sliced
  • 4 oz. fresh arugula
Instructions
  1. Put the whiskey, oil, lime juice, salt and pepper in a shallow bowl. Grate the ginger root on a fine shred then gather the pulp in your palm and squeeze to release the juice into the whiskey mixture. Discard the remaining pulp.
  2. Whisk the mixture together. Set half aside. Pour the other half over the flank steak in a shallow dish or resealable plastic bag. Turn to coat well. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  3. Cook the farro according to package directions. Drain, rinse in cold water, and set aside.
  4. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat and lightly coat with olive oil cooking spray. Grill the steak for 5-7 minutes on each side for medium doneness. Remove from the pan onto a plate and let the juices settle for at least 5 minutes.
  5. Add the asparagus and onion to the pan, sauteeing in the meat juices for about 5-10 minutes or until the onion is soft and browned and the asparagus is tender.
  6. Toss the cooked asparagus and onion with the farro in a medium salad bowl. Serve the farro mixture on a bed of arugula (1 oz. per person) and topped with a few slices of the steak.

 

Video Demonstration of Whiskey Ginger Steak and Farro Salad

Turkey Lasagna Cupcakes

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One of the biggest revelations of my weight loss journey was portion size. Until I started reading labels and measuring and weighing foods, I had no idea that I was easily consuming 2-3 times the standard serving size with each meal. It’s no wonder I packed on all those pounds!

It’s easy to gauge the portion size of pre-prepared or packaged foods, it’s right there on the label. But when I go to serve up some delectable dish that I’ve created in my own kitchen, it’s always a bit of a guess-timate as to what is exactly one serving. Did I cut that into equal portions? And if it’s liquid, does it look like there are still 5 servings left in the pot?

 

That’s what I love about these cupcakes. There is no guessing, they are individually baked into the perfect portion size.


Lest you think I am talking about some sugary, sweet, frosted creation here, let me assure you that is not the case. This is hearty, rich lasagna baked into cute little cupcake-like packages. Hence, Turkey Lasagna Cupcakes.


I simply wrap a cooked whole wheat lasagna noodle around the cup then fill it with a hearty stuffing of lean ground turkey, shredded zucchini, tomatoes, cottage cheese, mozzarella cheese, and herbs. For an added touch, I “frost” the top with just a pinch of shredded parmesan and a kalamata olive. Buono appetito!


Turkey Lasagna Cupcakes
 
Author: 
Nutrition Information
  • Serves: 12
  • Calories: 186.2
  • Fat: 7.0
  • Saturated fat: 1.0
  • Polyunsaturated fat: 0.1
  • Carbohydrates: 20.2
  • Sugar: 3.5
  • Sodium: 216.8
  • Fiber: 3.6
  • Protein: 17.7
  • Cholesterol: 4.7
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Poultry
A lean yet rich turkey lasagna with whole wheat noodles takes the pretty shape of a perfectly portioned cupcake. These are great for entertaining or as leftovers in the lunchbox.
Ingredients
  • 1 lb. ground white turkey
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
  • ½ cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh oregano leaves
  • 1 14.5 oz can diced, no salt added tomatoes
  • 1 6 oz can tomato paste
  • pinch sea salt
  • dash freshly ground black pepper
  • ¾ lb. baby zucchini, shredded
  • 1 cup 2% milkfat cottage cheese
  • 2 oz. mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 12 whole wheat lasagna noodles
  • ¼ cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 12 large, pitted kalamata olives
Instructions
  1. Heat a pan over medium heat and coat it lightly with olive oil cooking spray.
  2. Add the ground turkey and garlic, cook until browned and crumbled.
  3. Stir in the basil, oregano, tomatoes, tomato paste, salt and pepper and let cook for about 2 minutes more until the paste has softened up and the mixture is thick.
  4. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the zucchini, cottage cheese and mozzarella cheese. Set aside.
  5. Preheat the oven to 375.
  6. Cook the lasagna noodles according to package directions. Drain and rinse.
  7. Lightly coat a 12-cup muffin/cupcake tin with olive oil spray.
  8. Trim off the bottom 2" of each lasagna noodle. Take the remaining long piece of noodle and wrap it around the side of a muffin cup. Place the 2" cut piece in the center on the bottom of the cup so that it curves up slightly inside the longer noodle forming the wall -- this will keep your filling from falling out. Repeat for all 12 noodles.
  9. Fill the center of each cup with the ground turkey mixture, making sure each is evenly filled.
  10. Top each "cupcake" with a pinch of the parmesan cheese and 1 kalamata olive.
  11. Bake for 20 minutes or until the cupcakes are heated through and the cheese on top is browned and bubbly.
  12. Let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

 

Video Demonstration of Turkey Lasagna Cupcakes