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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Cauliflower & Leek Soufflé

Lately there has been a buzz surrounding the nutritional benefits of cauliflower and light colored vegetables such as cauliflower, onions and garlic. Most of us have been told that the deeper the color of the vegetable, the greater the nutrients. This myth has recently been debunked, so I decided to use cauliflower, leek and garlic in my souffle in light of these recent findings. Cauliflower has been found to contain sulforaphane, a compound which can reduce the risk of cancer. In addition to cauliflower, I used another light colored vegetable, leeks. Leeks are a member of the garlic and onion family and have a mild onion taste and contain powerful antioxidants, minerals and vitamins. Souffles can be sweet or savory and contain eggs and milk and/or cream. Souffles are baked to create a fluffy, airy texture. For my souffle, I wanted to bring in bold flavor, so I added basil, thyme, red pepper, roasted garlic and shallot. The resulting dish turned out delicious; I loved the subtle flavor of the cauliflower and the sweet flavors of roasted garlic and leek. The chili powder added just the right amount of heat, adding to the bold hit of flavor this souffle packs. You could easily serve this for breakfast, lunch or dinner. If you intend to serve the souffle for dinner, I recommend pairing the souffle with a peppery arugula salad. 

Cauliflower & Leek Souffle 
(serves 4-6)
1 head of cauliflower, chopped into bite sized pieces
1 tbsp olive oil 
1 tbsp truffle oil 
1 head garlic, chopped
1 large shallot, chopped
2 leeks, thinly sliced (white and light green parts only)
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
1 cup milk 
1/2 cup sharp white cheddar or gruyere, shredded
1/2 cup sharp yellow cheddar, shredded 
4 eggs, beaten 
2 tsp basil 
1 tsp thyme
Pinch salt, pepper, chili powder and onion powder

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place cauliflower on a cookie sheet and drizzle with  olive oil. Roast cauliflower in 450 degree oven for 30 minutes, or until cooked through. While cauliflower roasts, heat a large skillet with truffle oil and add garlic, leek and shallot and cook until slightly browned. In a soup pot, melt butter and add flour, whisking well. Gradually add milk and whisk until combined and thick over low heat. Remove from heat cool for a few minutes, then add cheese, eggs, spices and cauliflower. Reduce oven temp to 300 and pour into an 8x8 pan. Bake for 1 hour, or until cooked through. 




Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Fiery Tofu and Coconut Curry Soup



 This week I found a recipe in Cooking Light magazine for a coconut curry soup which looked fantastic. This past weekend my husband and I found ourselves staying the night in Madison Wisconsin on our way to Chicago for my band's show. The roads were icy and dangerous, so we decided to play it safe and hang low for the night. To make a long story short, we ended up walking onto State Street to find something tasty for dinner. We stumbled upon a small deli-like storefront featuring traditional Thai cuisine. The weather, mind you, is nearing the negatives, so naturally our eyes darted straight toward the curry soups to warm our frozen bodies. We ordered a coconut curry soup with mushrooms, lemongrass, chicken, onions and galanga. Galanga is a root in the same family as ginger and tastes like a mixture between citrus and woodsy cedar. Galanga is used often in Thai and Vietnamese soup as a flavoring agent. The soup was fantastic which led me to make the soup as pictured. I was not able to find galanga, so my soup lacked the earthy element. This recipe is great for mild spice eaters as well as folks beginning to enter the world of curry. Give it a whirl! 




Click here for the recipe!

Apple & Carrot Slaw


This healthy side dish is simple and pairs nicely with BBQ ribs, fish or on a po-boy sandwich.

(serves 6-8) 
1 large granny smith, cut into thin strips
3 tbsp fresh lemon or lime juice
1 cup carrot, sliced thin
1 head napa cabbage, thinly chopped
1/2 cup minced red onion
3-4 tbsp cider vinegar 
2 tsp vegetable oil 
1 tbsp honey 
2 tbsp dijon
1 tsp salt 

Mix together cabbage, apple, onion, carrot and lemon or lime juice and toss well in a large bowl. In another bowl, whisk together vinegar, oil, honey, dijon and salt until combined. Pour liquid mixture over cabbage mixture and toss again. Refrigerate for at least an hour in a sealed container and serve!


Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Lowry, Uptown


Today was my second visit to the Lowry. I first visited a few weeks ago for lunch and ordered a delicious steak salad paired with the best cornbread I have every had. The Lowry opened on 21st and Hennepin in Uptown a few months ago and has been busy every since. The Lowry is owned by the Blue Plate company who also own the Highland Grill and the Groveland Tap. The Lowry is staged as an urban diner serving everything from whiskey, to burgers to oysters. They are open daily from 6:30am to 2:00am and cater to a wide variety of customers from the Kenwood families, to the Uptown hipsters out for a drink at 1am! The decor is reminiscent of an old diner with swivel chairs and large booths, yet modernized. The color palate blends navy blues, deep woods, and lofty cement and leathers. Their menu is clean and simple offering a handful of snacks, burgers, salads, oysters, breakfast specialties and larger entrees. The first time I visited, I was so impressed by their moist whole kernel cornbread that I had to return ASAP! This time around, I sent off an email in request of their cornbread recipe. Our server today kindly denied my recipe request, explaining the restaurant had decided not to give out any of their recipes to the public. However, my dining experience today did not illustrate the same caliber of cornbread I had expected. The bread was tasty, yet lacked the rich moistness of the previous visit which I assume can be explained by the lack of freshness. I gather the bread served to me today was a day or two old, which was ever so disappointing seeing as though I had been dreaming about trying it again. I still recommend you try the cornbread and cross your fingers you get a fresh batch. For my entree, I ordered a vegetable hash with béarnaise, a rich sauce of butter, herbs and egg. The hash was tasty but needed a good dose of hot sauce to amp up the flavor. I had been hoping the vegetables would be larger and roasted, but they appeared to be chopped up into tiny squares and cooked right alongside the mini potato bites. The béarnaise sauce was delicious of course, I mean think about the ingredients ;). Even though my meal was not as impressive as my first go around, I will certainly try my luck again.


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Sweet Corn, Spinach and Caramelized Onion Lasagna


Lately I have been increasingly excited to jump into the kitchen based on the support of my followers. It has been quite rewarding to hear that someone has tried and enjoyed one of my recipes. For this reason, I have decided to create a Facebook fan club page in honor of my blog! I hope you will all "like" me and check in to see new post updates and exclusive clips. What a crazy world we live in toady where we can click a button on the computer to show support!! 
Now back to the point, tonight I felt innovative so I dug out a whole bunch of ingredients in my kitchen to create a vegetarian lasagna. Using bread, lasagna noodles, ricotta, mozzarella, onions, spinach and corn I made a tasty meal to last the whole week. I am a huge corn fan, so as soon as the can of creamed corn caught my eye in the pantry, the idea for lasagna struck a cord. Take a look at the recipe!


Sweet Corn, Spinach and Caramelized Onion Lasagna
(serves about 8)
1 cake pan, about 8x12 or larger 
2 yellow onions, sliced
3 tbsp olive oil 
1 can sweet corn, drained 
1 can creamed corn 
1 box no bake lasagna noodles
1 carton part-skin ricotta
1  bag shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup parmesan cheese
1 box frozen spinach, thawed
5 slices toasted bread
3 eggs
1/2 cup milk
Salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder 


Preheat oven to 375. Begin by heating a large skillet over medium heat with 3 tbsp olive oil and add onions. Allow onions to caramelize over low-medium heat, turning often for about 20-30 minutes. Next, prepare your lasagna layers. Mix together creamed corn and drained corn in a bowl. In a second bowl, combine ricotta, spinach, 2 eggs and parmesan cheese, mixing well. Add a pinch of salt, pepper, onion and garlic powder to the cheese mixture. Next, dice up your toasted bread and dredge it into 1 egg and 1/2 cup milk combined much like you would french toast. To prepare lasagna, arrange a small layer of cheese mixture on the bottom of your pan, then top with lasagna sheets, then a layer of corn, then noodles, then a full layer of shredded mozzarella cheese and your cooked caramelized onions, then noodles, then cheese mixture, then noodles topped with a thin layer of mozzarella cheese and your soaked bread. Place a layer of tin foil over the top of your pan and cook at 375 for 25 minutes, then remove foil and cook another 30 minutes, or until done. 



Sunday, January 15, 2012

Honey Mustard Chicken with Sauteed Broccoli




For dinner tonight, I prepared roasted chicken drummies with a honey mustard glaze. The glaze is super simple, and creates a lovely balance between sweet and sour. I used a small amount of truffle oil while sautéing the broccoli which adds an amazing amount of flavor without having to use a ton. Truffle oil is an olive oil infused with truffles (a varietal of mushroom). If you have never tried truffle oil, you owe it to yourself to try it, your life will never be the same!

Honey Mustard Chicken with Sauteed Broccoli
(serves 3)
6 chicken drummies
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp dijon mustard
2 tbsp honey 
3 tbsp cider vinegar 
Salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder 
1 head broccoli, chopped into small florets 
2 tbsp minced garlic
1-2 tbsp truffle oil 
Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 425. Heat large skillet over high heat with butter. Coat chicken with salt, pepper, onion and garlic on both sides and add to heated pan. Sear all sides of skin until browned and slightly crispy. While chicken crisps up, mix together honey, vinegar and mustard. Transfer chicken from pan to a baking sheet and place in oven. Cook chicken for 40-45 minutes, basting chicken with honey mustard sauce every 10 minutes, and flipping chicken over once while cooking. In large skillet, heat broccoli over medium heat to char, then add oil and garlic until broccoli is tender. Enjoy!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Black Bean, Chickpea and Pea "Falafel"




My vegetarian kick has brought me to try my hand at falafel. While in Israel two summers ago, I tried some of the best falafel I have ever had and have wanted to try and replicate them. Falafel is a deep fried or pan-fried chickpea patty filled with all sorts of spices and herbs. Falafel is thought to have originated in Egypt and was eaten as an alternative to meat during lent. Falafel is a very healthy food, despite the oil used in deep frying. To make my falafel's a bit more healthy, I pan-fried my patties much like you would a potato pancake. Unfortunately the patties didn't turn out as crispy as a deep fried falafel, but the taste was comparable. I didn't follow a recipe, so I had to improvise along the way. I had trouble getting my falafel batter to the proper thickness for frying, so I had to add some toasted bread (thanks for the  recommendation Natalie!) which did help a bit. Some falafel recipes call for mashing the chickpeas instead of blending them in a food processor which makes for a looser more textured batter. I used a food processor which created a fine consistency and a denser patty. I have to admit, I would have liked my falafel to have turned out a hair fluffier, but for a first try, not too shabby. I used black beans and green peas as an additional filler, which added flavor and nutrients. I would advise readers to drain their beans a few times to remove all additional moisture, resulting in a thicker batter. I have my recipe listed below including the tzatziki sauce (cucumber yogurt sauce) so be sure to give them a try or make your own version!

Rachael's Chickpea, Black Bean and Pea Falafel 
*be advised that quantities are estimates and not exact
(makes about 2 dozen 1-2 in. patties)

1 can chickpeas, drained
1 can black beans, drained
1 cup green peas, thawed
1 cup cilantro 
1 cup chopped red onion
3 tbsp olive oil
1 lemon, juiced 
1/2 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
3 tbsp cumin
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cayenne
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup flour (more in batter is too thin)
5 slices toasted bread, diced 
1 head roasted garlic

Combine all ingredients in a food processor until combined. Add additional binding ingredients as needed such as flour or bread. Heat large skillet with vegetable oil to coat pan, and heat on high. Add a handful of batter into pan and fry into a patty shape until both sides are crispy and brown. Allow to dry on a paper towel and continue until all batter has been cooked. Place inside pita bread along with tzatziki sauce, tomato, cucumber, onion and lettuce. 

Tzatziki Sauce
(makes about 1 1/2 cups)
1 single container of plain greek yogurt 
1/2 cup sour cream 
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 cucumber, chopped
1/4 cup dill
Pinch of salt, pepper and cumin

Pulse all ingredients together in food processor and save for falafel sandwiches. 




Thursday, January 12, 2012

Sweet & Spicy Tofu

This past month I have been on a crazy tofu kick, adding it into anything I can. Many people out there pre-judge tofu as bland or tasteless, but tofu can act as the perfect palate to practically any sauce. Think about it this way, most everybody is a fan of plain old white rice which can be extremely bland without the incorporation of a tasty sauce or a good amount of butter or oil. Tofu is much like rice, in that it absorbs the flavors of whatever you're cooking it with. In additional defense of tofu, rice does not even compare to the nutritional benefits of tofu. Tofu is made of bean curd, which comes from the processing of soy beans. Tofu is a staple in many Southeast Asian diets and comes in a variety of textures from extra soft/silken to extra firm. Tofu makes a great substitute for meat because of its high protein and iron value while maintaining a very low fat content. This recipe featured in today's blog is an excellent stepping stone for tofu novices due to it's rich and bold flavors. The recipe came from Cooking Light magazine. I did make a few changes to the recipe by adding 1/4 cup pineapple juice to enhance the sweetness as well as adding broccoli and carrots for an extra does of nutrients. If you want to make this dish even healthier, sub brown rice for white. Enjoy!



Sunday, January 8, 2012

Manny's Tortas



Manny's Tortas started out in 1999 as a small Mexican sandwich shop near Lake and 19th and has grown to be a staple in the Midtown Global Market as well as a beloved favorite of the Mercado Central. Manny's Tortas is owned by a husband and wife team who brought their hometown favorite to the states. The menu is simple and features a few salads and tortas. Tortas are Mexican sandwiches made on crusty rolls featuring all sorts of specialty meats and sauces. Each of Manny's sandwiches include avocado, refried beans, jalapenos, spicy mayo, cheese, tomato, lettuce and onion. I ordered my torta with chorizo and egg. The combination of the spicy mayo and jalapeno alongside the spicy chorizo sausage was ummm could I say, SPICY!! I had to pull out the jalapenos midway through my meal because my mouth was burning so bad. The torta was saved by the avocado and beans which helped to cool things down a bit. I would recommend ordering a torta with a milder meat such as milanesa, a breaded pork or chicken. Regardless of my spicy choice in tortas, this hot spot remains on the top of my list of great sandwiches in the Twin Cities. Everyone needs to try a torta at least once, so why not now?!


Thursday, January 5, 2012

Papardelle Pasta with Pan-fried Shitaki Mushrooms

Last night I made a delicious papardelle pasta with butter sauce, peas and shitake mushrooms. Papardelle is my absolute favorite pasta because of their thickness and their beautiful ribbon texture. Papardelle is a very broad fettuccine and comes from the Italian word, pappare which means to gobble up. For my pasta dish I used egg papardelle from Trader Joe's, which I highly recommend. I knew I wanted to make a meatless pasta and better substitute for meat than an earthy shitake?! The sweet peas added nice color and texture to the dish. I used butter and thyme as the base for the sauce, which created a wonderful richness to an already heartwarming bowl of pasta. This is a recipe you're going to want to make again and again so take notes! 

Papradelle with Pan-fried Shitake Mushrooms 
(serves 3-4)
I bag papardelle
3 tbsp olive oil 
1 1/2 tbsp thyme 
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp pepper  
1-2 cups sliced shitake mushrooms
1 cup fresh sweet peas
3 tbsp butter 
Salt, pepper 
Parmesan cheese

Cook papardelle using package instructions, reserving 1/4 cup cooking liquid. In a large sauce pan, heat olive oil over high heat. Add mushrooms and pan-fry until golden brown, then reduce heat and add thyme, garlic, pepper and peas, simmer a few minutes and then add the butter and salt and reserved cooking liquid until melted. Add drained pasta, tossing well and top with a sprinkling of cheese. 




Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Cocina Del Barrio

Corn chowder 
Salsa and guacamole trio 
Beer!

Fried calamari tacos

Cocina Del Barrio in Edina is the latest expansion off of the Barrio chain of restaurants which began in 2008 with their Downtown Minneapolis location. Barrio was founded by Ryan Burnet and Tim Rooney, well known in the Twin Cities restaurant industry. Barrio downtown was themed after a true tequila bar, serving small plates of Mexican street food- elevated and fresh. I have been to all of the three current restaurants, the third location being downtown St. Paul. Yesterday I tried a sampling of dishes at the 50th and France hub with my mom (*NO tequila!). The environment in all three locations is similar. The 
atmosphere is dark, sexy and channels a new-age Spanish gothic theme. At night, candelabras are lit, lights from the bar sparkle and the deep woods feel warm and luxurious making it the perfect spot for a hot date! 
My mom and I shared their corn chowder, calamari tacos and a salsa and guacamole trio. I have tried their corn chowder before at the downtown location and fell in love. I knew I couldn't resist trying it again. The chowder is unlike any I have had for a few reasons. One being the spice factor, roasted poblano peppers create the perfect amount of heat which is balanced out by the cream in the sauce. Secondly, the chowder is thick and creamy without being gummy. From what I gather, the innards of the soup consist of cotija cheese, sharp cheddar, poblano, fresh corn kernels, cream, vegetable broth and cilantro infused olive oil. I love that the soup is kept simple which allows for the sweet corn to really shine. Although quite filling, the soup is incredibly satisfying and delicious- a must try. The guacamole and salsas were tasty but predictable, nothing out of the ordinary. The tacos were tasty, had a nice crunch without hiding the calamari taste and were topped with a lovely mild salsa verde. I would recommend Barrio for a night out, and highly recommend trying their corn chowder and well as a few fun tacos but don't forget the tequila, they have over hundreds to choose from!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Korean Bulgogi Salad

A few nights ago I made a steak salad using an extra flank steak I had yet to use. My mom had given me a recipe for a Korean bulgogi steak marinade, so I put it to the test. Bulgogi is a Korean barbecued beef usually marinated in soy, sugar, sesame oil, scallion, rice wine garlic and chili. I pan seared the steak in thin strips and served over lettuce, onion and red pepper and a sweet sesame dressing. 


Korean Beef Marinade
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup sugar 
3 tbsp rice wine
3 tbsp sesame oil 
2 tbsp minced garlic
1/2 cup chopped scallion


Cut steak into thin strips. Mix marinade together well and pour over beef in a ziplock bag. Keep in the refrigerator over night, turning bag around occasionally and serve the following day in a salad, stir-fry or wrap. 

Sunday, January 1, 2012

NYE Soiree!

Chorizo and potato pizza 
Pork shoulder sliders with pickled cucumbers 
Blue cheese dip and veggies 

Candied bar mix
Mom's secret peanut sauce 
Avocado and shrimp summer rolls 
Banana bread cupcakes with molasses cream cheese frosting 



New Years Eve 2012, where to begin... 2011 has been quite an amazing year for me. 2011 marked many new beginnings, to name a few: getting hitched, starting interior design classes, joining a new band, traveling to Hawaii and beginning this food blog! What better way to embrace the new year than throwing a party and cooking all sorts of great treats! No matter how hard you try to take the pressure off of NYE, drama and unattainable expectations always seem to creep into the fun of celebrating the new year. In my eyes, I felt that having my own party would solve the problem of the endless question of "what to do?!". I absolutely love throwing a party, especially if cooking is involved so what could go wrong?? Well, practically nothing unless you call the New Years Day hangover an error in planning ;). Last year Adam and I threw a holiday party and served among other things, a nut and pretzel bar mix and summer rolls. Both items were a hit, as well as simple to throw together so I decided to make them again this year. The spring rolls this year featured an amazing peanut sauce my mom made and for the rolls, I added creamy avocado and rice noodles. I love the addition of the avocado which accents the crisp vegetables and fresh herbs. I will of course be giving out the recipes below, so be sure and check them out. New this year were a blue cheese vegetable dip, chorizo and potato pizzas, pork shoulder sliders courtesy of my best bud Natalie and banana bread cupcakes. I had made up the blue cheese dip for for a chicken drumstick dinner featured a few posts back. I still had extra blue cheese to use up, so I whipped up another batch (recipe featured in previous posting). The chorizo pizza I new I wanted to try, because I have been craving this spicy sausage for a while. Chorizo is a Spanish or Mexican pork sausage featuring smokey peppers and paprika. I pan-fried thin potato rounds, caramelized onions and used fresh queso fresco to complete this mouthwatering pizzas. My friend Natalie brought over a delicious pork shoulder, which we placed onto crispy baguette slices and topped with a pickled cucumber for a sweet and sour note. I will have to gather the pork recipe from Natalie and get back to you for the recipe. Finally for dessert, I made banana cupcakes from a recipe I found on the Food Network. I loved the addition of molasses in the frosting and the moist bread quality to the cupcakes. I will definitely make this recipe again. Overall the party was a success and I was left with little remains, which marks a win in my book. Now if only I could make up a cure for the Sunday blues...

Chorizo & Potato Pizza's with Caramelized Onion & Queso Fresco 
1 pizza dough 
Cornmeal 
4 chorizo links
2 potatoes, thinly sliced
Olive oil 
Oregano, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder
2 sweet onions, chopped into rounds
1 cup crumbled queso fresco 
3/4 cup pizza sauce
1/2 cup fresh parsley 

Preheat oven to 450, with pizza stone inside to heat. Place onions in pan with olive oil and simmer on low-med for 30 minutes, or until caramelized. In another pan, heat olive oil over med-high heat and crisp potatoes with oregano, salt, pepper, onion and garlic until lightly browned, place on a paper towel. Add chorizo into pan and break up and cook until browned. Dab off extra grease with paper towels. Knead pizza dough into a large round and place on a cutting board sprinkled with corn meal to prevent sticking. Add pizza sauce, potatoes, then the onions, chorizo and finally the crumbled cheese. Cook for about 25-30 minutes or until lightly browned. Garnish pizza with parsley and serve! 

Candied Bar Mix
Handful of mixed nuts and pretzels (about 4 cups)
4 tbsp butter 
4 tbsp brown sugar 
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 300. Add butter, sugar and spiced into sauce plan and simmer until boiling, mix well. Pour sauce over nut and pretzel mix. Place mix onto cookie sheets and cook about 25 minutes, tossing occasionally. Cool on sheet and keep at room temp. 

Mom's Peanut Sauce
Peanut butter
Rice vinegar 
Apricot Nectar 
Garlic, ginger 
Chili paste
Cilantro 

Mix together ingredients in whichever quantity you need tasting as you go. Garnish with cilantro (exact quantities are unknown).