Thursday, August 30, 2012

Charred Pepper Steak Sauce.

Move out day! 

I can't believe it's finally here! This weekend is going to fly by, but by the end, I will officially be a Minneapolis resident. After living in Saint Paul for the last four years, it will be sad to see it go. I'm sure one day I will end up back there but for now, the city it is. I have such mixed emotions about moving. Part of me is extremely excited and the other part realizes that this is a reality check. I've graduated college, I have a full time job, and I need to be an adult. Weird right? It's still hard to imagine. But life moves on and so do I. For now, I'll just stick to what I know: Food. 

Remember my Baked Feta recipe? Well that was served on the side of grilled steak topped with an amazing red pepper steak sauce! It's hard for me to call this steak sauce-- it's like ketchup. It can go on a lot of things such as pasta, potatoes, chicken, veggies etc. My pictures are not the best  aid on how to make this, but take my word for it, its not too difficult. I adapted this recipe from Tasting Table, so check out there page for better presentation photos.

Charred Pepper Steak Sauce 

What you need:
- 1 red bell pepper
- 2/3 cup canned or fresh tomato puree
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon molasses
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice

Preheat your broiler. Place your pepper on a baking sheet and cook it under the broiler until all sides are charred, turning with tongs as needed. Char until all sides are nice and black without being too burned, it took around 10 minutes. Let the pepper cool for about 10-15 minutes. Once cool, take of the stem and use a spoon to scrape the seeds and membranes out of the pepper. Add the pepper, with it's skin, to a blender or food processor, along with the remaining ingredients. Puree mixture until as smooth as possible. Transfer mixture to a small saucepan. Simmer it gently over low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. It will yield a fairly smooth consistency that can be used as is, but if you'd like a smoother consistency, you have two options: running it back through the food processor or pressing it through a fine-mesh sieve (I left the mixture as-is). You can store this mixture in an airtight container for about a week. 

*** I doubled this recipe because I knew I would want to use it for other meals***

I seasoned the steak with sea salt, pepper, and a little Jamaican Jerk.

Next time: I will probably throw it back in the food processor to make it a little less thick. Good thing there is always a next time! 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Baked Feta with Tomatoes and Olives.

Moving day is approaching quickly!

Thursday is the big day, I move out of my apartment. I've been living there for two years and although it was the perfect location for going to class, I'm ready for a change. The rest of this week is packed solid with plans and last night was no different. For having a great first half of the year, Coridian took all of our employees and a "plus one" on an Al & Alma's Supper Club cruise last night. This was the same cruise line as the "vikings scandal". It was a three hour cruise on Lake Minnetonka and included a rib and chicken dinner as well as a large variety of adult drinks. I wish I would have taken some photos because the trip was absolutely beautiful and the weather could not have been more perfect! 

Tonight, Damian and I are picking up our keys to the new place so we can be all set to move in on Friday! I think a large Target run will also be in the plans for all the extra odds and ends. This past weekend we built a TV stand with some old bookshelves I purchased last year (pictures to come) and picked up our table and chairs from Andrea's old apartment. Between the State Fair and moving preparations I still had a little time to make this recipe:

Baked Feta with Tomatoes and Olives

What you need:
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1/3 cup chopped, pitted Kalmata olives
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
- 2 tablespoons finely-chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, divided
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 8-10oz block of feta cheese
- crackers, flatbread, or pita chips for dipping

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a bowl, mix the tomatoes, olives, onion, garlic, 1 tablespoon of the parsley, oregano, olive oil, and a few grinds of pepper. Place the block of feta cheese in the middle of your dish. Pile the tomato mixture on top of the feta. Bake for 15 minutes.

*** Do not add salt to this recipe! The olives and feta cheese provide enough saltiness to balance the black pepper. Also, the feta cheese will not melt in the oven, just become soft and begin to crumble.*** 

It was so good! I could eat this all the time... 

I served the dip with pita chips, steak topped with roasted red pepper sauce (recipe to come), and carrots with hummus. 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Minnesota State Fair

This past weekend was opening weekend for the Minnesota State Fair!

The state fair is a BIG deal here. After going for three consecutive years I can see why. Despite the rainy weather, Damian and I headed over to the fair around 6pm on Saturday. We tried to wait out the rain as much as possible but it still ended up raining once while we were there. Luckily this didn't put too much of a damper on the day! After 3 hours of walking and eating I would say it was a successful trip! 

Here's a run down of what we tried.

The corn is my favorite so we started with two of these!

These are the bull bites from Axel's-- delicious! That sauce is some sort of horseradish sauce.

We always get a pickle dog! So gross looking but so good!

It's comprised of a pickle wrapped in cream cheese and pastrami. 

We shared this turkey leg-- we were disappointed that it wasn't that great.

That thing is the size of my head!

For dessert: a fried snickers bar!

I wish this picture was as good as it tastes!

Damian testing out the Camaro! 

Check out how many people are down this pathway! 

This week is going to be a busy one! There is a light at the end of the tunnel: we are moving on thursday and friday! 

Have a great week!

(I promise there will be a recipe in the next post)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Zucchini Chips

Do you have the crunch?

"The Crunch" is defined as:
"Having the desire, craving, or need for any type of food that maintains a crunchy consistency" 
Used in a sentence: "Where did the chips go? Looks like Dan has the crunch again today!"

Crunch or no Crunch, this is a cool way to make a healthier version of your store bought chips. These are pretty easy to make but beware... they are very time consuming. This recipe is great if you have a lot of stuff to do around the house, pop these in the oven and don't come back for a few hours!

Zucchini Chips

What you need:
- 1 Large Zucchini
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- Salt ( I used coarse sea salt)

Preheat oven to 225 degrees. Line two large baking sheets with silicon baking mats or parchment paper. Slice your zucchini about 1 1/2- 2 inches thickness. Place the slices on a sheet of paper towels and take another paper towel and sandwich the zucchini slices and press on them. This helps draw out the liquid so it'll cook a bit faster. Line up the Zucchini slices on the prepared baking sheet tightly next to each other in a straight line, making sure not to overlap them. In a small bowl, pour your olive oil in and take a pastry brush to the the olive oil on each zucchini slice. Sprinkle salt throughout the baking sheet, try not to over-season because they will shrink! Bake for 2+ hours until they start to brown and are crisp. Let cool before removing and serving. 

Tonight we are packing up the closet! One week away from the big move. Next time I move i'm purchasing all new things so nothing has to be packed! 

Hope your having a great week!

Monday, August 20, 2012

(Paleo) Korean Ribs

I'm not kidding this time, these ribs are amazing. 

Carly came over for dinner on Saturday night, and in lieu of her new eating habits, I made ribs! I realized while making these, I had never made ribs before. Now I wonder, why the heck not? These babies were easy, I know say that a lot but I don't like putting a ton of effort into cooking! Do you have a crock pot? If the answer is yes, then you can make these. And well, if the answer is no, then you can also make these. Let's just say I started with one method and switched halfway through. 

Korean Ribs in the Crock Pot

What you need:
- 4 lbs of ribs (any cut works)
- 1 cup of brown sugar, firmly packed 
- 1 cup gluten free soy sauce
- 1/2 cup of water
- 5 whole jalapeno peppers

In a 6-quart or larger slow cooker, put the ribs in the pot. Add the brown sugar, soy sauce, water, and whole jalapenos (leave them whole!). Cover and cook on low for 8 hours, flipping once. If you're our of the house all day, flip them when your home and let them cook for a few extra minutes.

*** Variations I made: I used 2 1/2 Tablespoons of honey instead of brown sugar, in order to make the dish paleo. I took the ribs out of the crock pot after 4 hours (my crock pot was too small), transferred them into a pan, and cooked them at 350 degrees for the remaining four hours). ***

Attempt one: In the crock pot!

Attempt two: out of the crock pot!

We also took another stab at those grilled zucchini from last week! So delicious!

Carly brought some veggies and sweet potato brownies-- yum!

After dinner we headed out for Brit's last night on the town before study abroad!

Moving Update

Last week, Caitlin, Zach, and Dan helped me pack up my entire kitchen at the apartment. It was so much more work then expected. Looks like ALL cooking will be done at Damian's until we move! This week... we're going to attempt my closet! Wish us luck.  

Thursday, August 16, 2012

My First Try at Paleo Cooking.

Last night was my first try at Paleo cooking, and I think I nailed it! 

Carly and I were reunited after not seeing each other for almost three months, wow I can't believe it was that long. While she spent her summer in Chicago, she started eating Paleo, which is basically a guide to eating a "hunter-gatherer" diet. To summarize it,  

The website I attached above is a good description of what it means to eat Paleo and mentions the same reactions that Carly had to the change in diet. 
"By doing so, the argument is that our bodies begin to run in a best state. Anecdotally (and scientifically), reports are all saying the same thing about this type of diet – that multitudes of health problems go away, digestion operates efficiently, migraines go away, excess weight is lost, sleep disruption and anxiety problems decline and energy levels become optimum".
So I did my research and Paleo is exactly what we had for dinner. Honestly, Paleo or not, this recipe was awesome! I can't take all the credit for it- I found it on PaleOMG (which i admit to reading almost daily, shes so funny!). 

Don't they look messy? Ok, I get it, they are not the pretties things in the world...

Curried Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes

What you need:
- 1lb bulk Italian Sausage (I used spicy Italian pork sausage from whole foods, yum!)
- 3-4 sweet potatoes (try to buy them rounder/fatter so they are easier to restuff)
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 1-2 teaspoons curry powder
- 1 teaspoon ginger
- teaspoon ground cloves
- teaspoon cinnamon
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1-2 teaspoons of olive oil

Preheat oven to 425 Degrees. Cut your sweet potatoes in half lengthwise, place open side down on a cookie sheet and bake for about 25-30 minutes or until you press on the skin of the sweet potato and it "gives" a bit. While the sweet potatoes bake, pull out a large skillet and place over medium-high heat. Add oil, when heated, add your onions. When the onions begin to sweat, add your Italian sausage. Break up your sausage with a wooden spoon and let cook down. Once your sweet potatoes are done cooking, pull them out and let cool for a few minutes.  Use a spoon and carefully scoop out the insides and place in large bowl. When your Italian sausage is cooked through, add it directly to the bowl with the sweet potatoes. Add your spices to the mixture and combine. Restuff your potato skins with the mixture and broil for 3-5 minutes or until browned on top. 

***The sweet potatoes I purchased were very difficult to cut, so I cooked them whole for a few minutes in order to be able to slice them in half easier. ***

Carly made bacon wrapped Brussel Sprouts!

Don't judge my photos- I was starving.