Mushrooms in Red Wine over Polenta (with a poached egg)

Today was the first day I cooked in about 2 weeks.

For me, that’s unheard of.  Literally the last thing I made was these Mocha Protein Cupcakes.  No a single thing has been made other than microwaving soup from a box and veggie patties.

I’ve been busy, but let’s not concentrate on that.  Today, I knew I needed to cook.  I needed comfort food.  Usually for me, comfort food is a cookie, but lately, all I’ve wanted is lamb stew.  Umm… random? Yes.

Lamb is a little out of my price range right now, so I went to the store and bought some beef.  I started making beef stew with a bottle of cabernet a friend gave me not too long ago.

With half a bottle of wine and my stew on the first of many hours of stewing, I had a bright idea.

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I enjoyed this with a glass of wine while listening to Boleros.  Boleros is a genre of Spanish music, popular with people my grandmother’s age.  I have the musical taste of an 80 year old hispanic woman.  If we’re being honest, it’s probably my most listened to Pandora station.  It makes me think of my grandmother, who loves to wake up and put on music to listen to with breakfast.

So tonight, with my boyfriend across the country, I listened to sad music, think of my grandma, drank wine and ate a tasty comfort meal.

I’ll stop sounding so melodramatic, because despite the obvious missing of the boyfriend, it was a pretty relaxing meal for me (which was much needed because I’ve felt like I’ve been on the go for the past three weeks).

In terms of benefits to you: This is a super easy meal. It’ll be ready in roughly 15 minutes and it’s pretty healthy and the egg is totally optional, meaning this can be totally vegan.

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Mushrooms in Red Wine over Polenta

1/2 cup corn meal
2 cups chicken/vegetable broth
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 an onion, sliced
8 oz baby bella mushrooms, sliced
1-2 tbsp fresh herbs (I used Rosemary and Sage)
1 garlic clove, minced
salt and pepper to taste
2 eggs (optional)

In a saucepan, mix together cornmeal and broth.  Put on medium heat.  While it comes to a boil, heat 1 tbsp of olive oil over medium heat and add onions cook a few minutes.  Add mushrooms and cook another few minutes (about 5), stirring occasionally.

If you’re not good at multi-tasking, you can do each one at a time, but I’m a fan of multi-tasking so while the mushrooms and onions cooked, I stirred the cornmeal/polenta.  Once the polenta is thick and starts to come off the side of the pan when you stir, divide onto two plates, like so:

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By now the mushrooms should be about ready.  Add garlic, herbs, salt and pepper and cook for a minute. Add wine and stir.  It’ll bubble, steam and reduce.  Once the majority of the liquid is gone, turn the heat off.  Try a mushroom to make sure you added enough salt, adjust accordingly.  Then divide the mushroom mixture over the polenta.  You can serve it just as it…

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Or you can be a rockstar and add a poached egg, for extra protein and deliciousness.  If you don’t know how to poach an egg… google it?

Just kidding.  Check out this blog post from Smitten Kitchen.

Place your poached eggs on top of your mushroom-polenta creation.  Sprinkle with paprika, cheese, pepper, whatever else you like and enjoy!

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This recipe is perfect for two people, but it’s easy to make for one (which is what I did and just had leftover mushrooms for tomorrow).

This might be my new comfort dish of choice, because 1. easy, 2. delicious, 3. warm and 4. wine.

What’s your comfort food of choice? 

For me, Ice cream is probably my ultimate comfort food, but if we’re talking about meals: thick fatty soups (think creamy tomato) with grilled cheese sandwiches.

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Eggplant Rolls with Goat Cheese

In the past week, I flew to New Jersey, drove to New York, prepared for a wedding, went to a wedding, drove back to New Jersey, took a plane back to California with a stop in Chicago, then drove from Orange county to Riverside for a graduation.

On Sunday, I was in 4 different states all in one day.  It was amazingly busy but totally worth it.   The wedding I went to was fantastic.

saragabecar2It was my friend Sara’s wedding.  You might know her as the Biscotti Queen.  She’s the lady who taught me to make biscotti, so clearly it was a wedding I couldn’t miss.   Their wedding was one of the most fun and unique weddings I’ve ever been to.

There was no assigned seating (or even enough tables for everyone to sit at), instead you mingled around, stood at cocktail tables, sat around fire pits, in adirondack chairs and generally enjoyed the company of great people.

Instead of a sit down dinner, the night was filled with amazing appetizers and desserts.  I thoroughly enjoyed the smores.

IMG_4297One of the many appetizers served was Eggplant Rollatini, perfect given Sara’s very Italian family.  As I was looking through my photos of the wedding mixed with some photos of foods I made before heading to New York, I realized that the day before I left I unknowingly made my own non-Italian version of Eggplant Rollatini.

I won’t call it Eggplant Rollatini, because it’s not exactly the same.  I’ll call it Eggplant Rolls with Goat Cheese

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Eggplant Rolls with Goat Cheese

1 eggplant
1/4 tsp paprika
salt and pepper to taste
4-6 oz goat cheese
1 tbsp capers
4 tbsp fresh chopped herbs (I used basil, oregano and sage)
1 can diced tomatoes, with juices
1/3 red bell pepper
1/2 a small onion
2 cloves of garlic
1 Tbsp olive oil (plus more for brushing eggplant or use cooking spray)

Pre-heat oven to 400F.  Slice eggplant lengthwise into thin slices.  Lay on a baking sheet, spray with cooking spray or brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt pepper, and paprika.  Bake for 7 minutes, flip then bake for another 7-8 minutes.  Remove from oven, turn oven down to 350F.

In the meantime, make your sauce.  In a blender, blend together tomatoes, red bell pepper, onion, garlic and 3 tbsp fresh herbs.  Add salt and pepper if you like (I only added pepper since I used canned tomatoes).

Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a large skillet, add sauce.  Cook for 10-15 minutes stirring occasionally while you prepare the rest of your eggplant.

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In a bowl, mix together goat cheese, capers, and 1 tbsp of herbs.  Once your eggplant is cool enough to handle, lay some of the goat cheese filling on the eggplant then roll and place seamside down into the sauce.  Repeat until you’ve rolled all your eggplant (you might have some left over filling which I like to sprinkle on top after baking).

Bake for another 10-15 minutes, sprinkle with remaining goat cheese/herb filling and serve.  One eggplant (depending on the size) should serve 2-3 as a main dish.

eggplantrolls2This eggplant was totally different from the one at the wedding, but in my opinion equally delicious.  Let’s be honest, anything with goat cheese is amazing and I love lightening up heavy dishes like this.   I should also note it passed the taste taste from Jesse and my co-worker from New Jersey.

That totally makes it legit, and now it has an amazing memory of an awesome wedding attached to it.

Overall, the travel and craziness of the weekend were totally worth it.  I got to visit an amazing friend, see a few others (although I missed a few friends I didn’t get to see), and was so happy to be a part of a wonderful couple’s special day.

I have so many other things to tell you about.  What do you want to hear about next? An AMAZING salad?  More about this wedding? Do you need a dessert in your life?  Tell me!

Cóctel de Camarón: Shrimp! Yes, Please!

So today, was a crazy day.  Ok it totally wasn’t crazy.  I was just exhausted.  I somehow had the bright idea of going to crossfit twice in a 12 hour time span…  I hurt real bad right now. I don’t recommend it.  Give yourself at least 24 hours between workouts.  It’s a good idea.

But work outs aside, today was a bizarre day for me in terms of personal realizations.  Way back when, I used to use SparkPeople to track calories, but I hadn’t logged in for almost a year.  So this morning, I randomly did…

I saw my last log in was after I got back from Italy where I ate my weight (and then some) in Nutella, Pasta and Gelato for nearly 6 months.  Since then, I’ve lost 18 pounds.  That’s kind of a lot on someone who is only 5’3″

I guess getting back home, eating normal meals and exercising a few times a week served me well (even if Paleo didn’t…).

So in honor of the fact that my butt (among other things) shrank, let me tell you about an actual meal (as much as I love cake, it’s not a meal) that is more or less balanced, light and delicious too.

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I would consider this to be moderately healthy.  Depending on what you serve with it that is…

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It involves shrimp, tomatoes, onions and a few splashes of (unhealthy) secret ingredients:

ingredients

Cóctel de Camarón

3 cloves of garlic
1/2 onion, diced
1 lb Shrimp, peel on
2 cups clamato
1-2 tbsp ketchup
2 tbsp orange soda
2-3 limes
2 tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Salt
1 Avocado, sliced
Tostadas, for serving

In a blender (I used my magic bullet), blend together 1/4 of an onion  (reserve remaining diced onion) and 3 garlic cloves with some water.  Once it’s smooth, add to a sauce pan.  Fill with water until about 2-3 inches from the top.  Add some salt (or a pinch of bouillon) and bring to a boil.  In the meantime, rinse your shrimp and place in a metal mesh strainer.

Cook shrimp in the broth by dipping the strainer into the broth, like this…

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Once the shrimp is cooked (pink all over, be careful to not overcook), place in a bowl over some ice.  You might have to do this in batches.

Next take about 2 cups of the cooking broth and place in a large bowl.

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Add about 2 cups of clamato, ketchup, lime juice and orange soda.   Be careful, it’s a science.  Taste it along the way to see how it is.

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Stir it all together and set aside.  Next peel your shrimp (alternatively you could peel your shrimp before cooking then put the skins in the broth to help give it more flavor).  Now you’re ready to assemble.

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Start by putting a good amount of diced tomato (1/2 cup?), onions, cilantro and Serrano chili in your bowl.  Then add the shrimp and avocado.  Last pour the broth/clamato mixture over your shrimp.  You want a good amount in there because it gives it great flavor.

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From there, you’re pretty much ready to go.  But don’t forget one important thing…

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A beer.  Because life is all about balance and a cold beer tastes great with this dish.

Serve with tostadas, extra lime, salt and hot sauce (optional).  This will serve 2-3 people.

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Whoever said that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach as probably right, but they forgot that the way to a woman’s heart is the same direction.  I wish I could take credit for this, but I can’t.  It was made entirely by an awesome boyfriend who makes ridiculously tasty things.

He makes me generally healthy meals, while I make him cookies and pies.

Clearly, a little bit of both is necessary.  Eat some shrimp and vegetables, as well as some cookies and wine.

What was the last healthy meal you had?

Pear-Onion Brie Bruschetta

Happy New Year!

With the start of 2012, I’m sure everyone’s thinking about resolutions.  Most people’s are probably to exercise more or travel somewhere exotic.  For me, it’s to cook more savory dishes.  So I’m starting 2012 with a bang! (I actually made these on January 1st!)

Ok I’ll be honest.  This is only sort of savory, but it’s also a little sweet.  Caramelized onions and pears.  Naturally sweet, but perfectly balanced with salty brie.

Baby steps.

I’ll get to fully savory soon enough.  After all, I have all year.

Pear-Onion Brie Bruschetta

1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1 large onion, diced
2-3 pears, diced
2-3 tsp fresh thyme
1 baguette
few ounces of Brie

Heat oil and butter together on medium.  Once oil and butter is hot, add onions and pears.  Cook until caramelized (about 30-40 minutes).  Basically you can put it in there, stir it around, leave it alone for 10 minutes, stir it, leave alone for 10 minutes, stir again, etc.

Once it’s a nice caramel color, stir in the thyme, cook for another minute and turn off the heat.  At this point you can either serve it or put it in a container to transport.  That’s really the beauty of this appetizer/snack.  You can take it anywhere.  It can be eaten hot or cold and it’s easy to assemble.

So for the assembly, cut a baguette into thin slices (about 1-2 centimeters thick? I’m bad with measurements, use your best judgement), spoon some of the onions and pears onto the bread, and top with a small slice of brie.

Serve and enjoy!  Just to note, I tried putting the brie under the pear-onion mixture but I found that it slides off more for some reason.  But if you want to put the brie under the pears and onions, go for it.

Like I said, this is perfect for any occasion.  I took it for a picnic.

You should try it too.  Feel free to make it a resolution, and by that I mean your resolution should be to eat more delicious things.