Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A Vegas Bachelorette Party + Asian Lettuce Wrap Tacos

My BFF is getting married next month and we're headed to Vegas next weekend for her bachy! Get ready Vegas, here we come. I'm so excited. But, I'm also trying to be my fittest self when I'll be lounging around the pool all day in a bikini. So, that means I'll be what I like to call "de-puffing". That means low carbs and not a lotta dairy until we go. It'll be good practice for when my wedding festivities come around next year!

So without further adieu, here is a carb friendly and dairy free lunch or dinner idea. It's a really great recipe!

Asian Lettuce Wrap Tacos
makes 4 lettuce wrap tacos

1 tbsp fresh ginger (minced)
3 cloves garlic (minced)
1 shallot (diced)
1/4 lb ground pork
1/2 lb ground beef (85/15)
10 shishito peppers (stem removed, diced)
1 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
1 ponzu
1 tsp mirin
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
salt and pepper
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 tbsp vegetable oil (any neutral tasting oil)
4 leaves butter lettuce or green cabbage
1 green onion (diced)

for the sauce:
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp ponzu
1/4 tsp mirin
1 tsp sriracha
1 tsp toasted sesame seeds or 1 drop toasted sesame oil
1 tbsp green onion (diced) 

Heat a large saute pan over medium heat with sesame and vegetable oil. Add ginger, garlic and shallot and let saute for 5 minutes. Add pork, beef, shishito peppers, crushed red pepper flakes, a dash of salt and pepper. Let cook for about 3 minutes, breaking meat up with a wooden spoon.

Add soy sauce, ponzu and mirin and let finish cooking for 5 minutes, until meat is cooked through. Remove from heat. 

As filling is cooking, mix together the sauce. Combine soy sauce, ponzu, mirin, sriracha, toasted sesame seeds and green onion together.

Build the taco. Add a scoop of meat, drizzle sauce over meat and sprinkle with some fresh green onions. Wrap it up and good luck. You'll make a mess but it's worth it. Yum!

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Wedding Planning and Italian Wedding Soup with Roasted Garlic

It's been almost 6 months that I've been engaged, and only have 11 months until the wedding. Time sure does fly! I'm in full wedding planning mode, and can't really say it's the most fun yet. It's all about booking people and places.

Okay, it's not all work. I found my dress, which I love so much. We did a food tasting and found our caterer. It's fun to try free food. And we're doing our engagement pictures on Friday. Yikes. I'm also planning a fun little surprise for my bridesmaids, which they'll all find out about soon!

Are you thinking I'm nuts for doing all this stuff a year out? Ya, I think so too. But all the other brides out there are booking everything up a year in advance! Gotta do what ya gotta do. 

So, in honor of all the fun and not-so-fun wedding planning, here's a recipe for Italian Wedding Soup.

Italian Wedding Soup with Roasted Garlic
makes 6-8 bowls

for the meatballs
1/2 lb ground beef
5 cloves garlic (minced)
1/2 - 3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan or hard Gouda
1 tsp ground cayenne pepper
1 egg
2 tbsp cream
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

for the soup
1 yellow onion (diced)
1 head garlic
3 carrots (peeled and diced)
2 tbsp tomato paste
3 cups Swiss chard (stem removed, rough chop)
1 cup Orzo (uncooked)
6 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 cups water
salt and pepper
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
2 tbsp olive oil

Get the oven cranked up to 400 degrees. Take the head of garlic and cut 1/4 inch of the top off, just enough to expose the cloves. Pop into a foil wrapper and drizzle with olive oil. Wrap it up leaving a little vent in the top. Add foil packed to the oven and let roast for 40 minutes. Remove and set aside.

As the garlic roasts, get the meatballs going. In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients. Adjust bread crumbs depending on how liquidy or thick the mixture is. Mix with hands, only until ingredients are combined. Don't squeeze the meat, it will make for tough meatballs.

Form into Brussels sprout sized meatballs. About half the size of a golf ball. Add meatballs to a foil lined baking sheet and pop in oven for 10 minutes. That's all. They are small so it doesn't take much time at all. Take out and let sit on the stove top until ready to drop into the soup

When you get the meatballs in the oven, get the soup going. Add 2 tbsp olive oil to a soup pot and heat over medium heat. Add onions and carrots and let cook down for about 7 minutes. Squeeze the roasted garlic out of the paper and add to pot. Add tomato paste, salt, pepper and crushed red pepper flakes. Stir to combine and let cook for 5 minutes. 

Add broth, water and 1 tbsp salt. Bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer. Let simmer for 5 minutes. 

Add orzo and bring soup back to a slow boil. Let orzo cook for about 6 minutes, until cooked. Add in Swiss chard and meatballs. Let cook for about 3 minutes, until chard has wilted.

Serve with freshly grated cheese.

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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Carmel Labor Day Getaway

Hope everyone got to enjoy a nice, long weekend relaxing like I did! Brian and I drove down the coast about 2 hours to the Carmel/Monterey area for a little R&R after a really tough loss for my Gamecocks on Thursday night. We enjoyed lots of good seafood, went stand up paddle boarding and of course enjoyed a few beverages.

We came back for a family BBQ on Sunday afternoon, and spent Monday back at home in the city enjoying the good weather.

Here are a few pictures from our fun weekend romping around.


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Friday, August 29, 2014

Lemony Baby Broccoli with Goat Cheese

We've got tons of great fresh organic food in San Francisco. I'm not sure I will fully appreciate it until summer goes and the farmer's markets stay open. What we lack in change of season, we make up for in year round fresh produce!

We've been to the market a few times recently down at Fort Mason on the Bay and have loaded up on leafy greens, peppers and fresh, local meats.

Lemony Baby Broccoli with Goat Cheese
makes 3-4 sides

1 large bunch baby broccoli or broccolini
2 cloves garlic
1/2 lemon (juice + 1 tbsp zest)
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
1/4 cup goat cheese (crumbled)

Heat olive oil in a large saute pan heated over medium heat. Add garlic and let cook for 2 minutes.

Add whole baby broccoli pieces to saute pan and add crushed red pepper flakes, salt and pepper, and squeeze lemon. Save some of the lemon juice to add to the dish before serving.

Let baby broccoli saute for about 10 minutes. It should still be slightly crisp and not completely limp.

Remove from heat and transfer to a cutting board. Chop up into bite size pieces. Add to a serving bowl and squeeze remaining lemon over broccoli. Add lemon zest and goat cheese. Stir to mix and serve!

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