November 3, 2012

Homemade Protein Bars + A Havasupai Hike

homemade protein bars

I’m not going to rehash my constant struggle of healthy eating and weight loss with you. I’m certain we’ve discussed that topic before. But one thing I will mention, and surely I’m not the only one in a constant diet cycle who feels this way, is how much I loathe store bought protein bars. Somehow though, they’re always a staple on my grocery list and they can always be found in my desk drawer at work. But just as certain as this, is the fact that you will almost always find the opened wrapper still gripping to half of that partially eaten protein bar. In the trash bin. You see, I have a very hard time choking the whole dry and mealy thing down.

whole oats, nut butter and chocolate

October 13, 2012

Fresh Fig Bruschetta

fresh fig bruschetta

Let’s talk about simplicity. It can be used to describe so many different facets of life and it’s something I strive for in almost each and every one of them. Simplicity in the way I dress, the overall design and aesthetic of my home, my weekly schedule, and even in my morning routine.

glorious figs

September 22, 2012

Knock You Naked Brownies

knock you naked brownies

If you knew me well, you would know that I can almost always relate a life experience to an episode of Friends.  It’s one of my many valuable and indispensable traits.  Quoting one-liners from Ross, Rachel, Chandler, Joey, Monica or Phoebe has become almost a pastime for my family.  We do it so often, in fact, that it has really become second nature.  It’s scary sometimes.  Perhaps though, it’s because I can relate to those characters so much, especially Monica with her obsessive behavior and OCD like qualities where everything has to be in its place and freakishly clean.  Yep.  That’s me.

sugar, pecans and glorious butter

There is one particular episode where Monica physically exhausts herself to make the apartment guest ready, complete with a presentation of baked goods, and as the other Friends arrive, she proclaims in a voice of exasperation, yet contentment “I’m always the hostess.”  Well, that’s me too.  I feel such a burning need to provide and impress guests sometimes that it can become overwhelming and stressful.  I know I’m not alone in these emotions, but even when I tell myself that there is simply not enough time or resources to project the welcoming I intend to, my need to be a good hostess almost always takes over. 

August 4, 2012

Cheesy Zucchini and Red Onion Flatbread

cheesy zucchini and red onion flatbread

A weird thing happens when you become involved in the catering business.  You begin to hate, detest, even loathe your own food.  After week in and week out of making the same things over and over, the monotony of it all starts to get to you.  Tasting the same flavors, sniffing the same smells- it can become almost unbearable.  There was a time when I truly felt that if I had to look at even one more crab cake or caramel bar, I might just lose it.

crisp squash and zucchini

Luckily for me, I’ve been out of the catering grind for almost a year and a half now, and oddly enough, I’ve been finding myself craving some of those dishes that I at one point used to abhor.  Crab cakes are once again becoming desirable.  I enjoyed making that batch of caramel bars a few weeks ago.  As of last week, I even succumbed to my craving for Cheesy Zucchini and Red Onion Flatbread.

July 21, 2012

Homemade Mac & Cheese (with Bacon and Tuffle Oil)

homemade mac & cheese... with bacon

It came to my attention last week that I had never attempted to make Homemade Mac and Cheese.  My mom had asked me if I had a good recipe that I could share with her.  She was wanting to make Mac and Cheese as a dish to take along with her to a weekend get together at her friend’s lake house.  I racked my brain (I have a complex filing system stored up there) and came up short.  I had nothing.  Is this right?  Is this true?  But how can that be?  How is it that I have never melted cheddar into a creamy base and stirred in pasta to culminate in a gooey, cheesy, comforting dish that almost everyone has grown up on in some form of the matter?  I guess Velveeta had sufficed for the last 27 years.  That is, until now.

casarecce pasta

Once I realized that I didn’t have a macaroni and cheese recipe in my repertoire to pass along to my mom, my first instinct was to reference The Pioneer Woman.  I guess I just figured that a woman who has based her blogging career on cooking down-home, family friendly, comfort food should probably have a stellar Mac and Cheese recipe.  It wasn’t but a day later when my mom reported back to me its success and popularity.  It was a winner according to her.

July 12, 2012

Lemon Bars

silky, lucious lemon bars

I’m still trying to figure out if I’m more of a sweet tooth or salty fan. You would think I’d have that figured out by now. The thing is I’m pretty sure I like both equally. There are times when I down right crave a bag of salt & vinegar chips. Then again, there are also days when nothing else will do but a heaping scoop of Bluebell Banana Split Ice Cream. (Have you had this flavor of ice cream? No? Do your self a favor and go to your nearest grocery store and buy some NOW. It’s life changing).

crumbly buttery dough

The days that I do crave sweets, I’m often torn between satisfying myself with something chocolate or fruity. Do I want a dessert that’s more rich and substantial or do I want something lighter and perhaps a little tart? That’s often my predicament. Decisions like this make for quite the stress filled life, I know.

June 30, 2012

Tomato, Corn and Cheddar Pie

tomato & corn pie

I have been dying to make this pie for three years now.  The thing is, I forgot that I had been aching to try it until last weekend, when I was combing through my list of potential and future dishes to make for this blog.  As soon as I saw “Tomato and Corn Pie”, the yearning sensation came flooding back and all the other ideas I had in mind for that weekend’s kitchen festivities were thrown out the window.  My mind was on one track and one track only: Tomato and Corn Pie.

hothouse tomatoes and sweet summer corn

I don’t know what took me so long to actually make this pie.  It is a relatively simple process and it makes use of two of summer’s most bountiful harvests: juicy, ripe, red tomatoes and sweet, golden corn.  I first came across this pie on Smitten Kitchen’s site in August of 2009 and I remember thinking to myself how glorious and Southern this pie sounded, even though I had never heard of it before.

June 17, 2012

Peach Ice Cream

peach ice cream

There are so many reasons to love this time of year, despite the blistering heat and lack of rain that has left our herb garden sad and shriveled. Summer promises golden tan lines (and freckles for moi), pool parties, barbeques, vacations, slip ‘n slides and blockbuster movie releases. More importantly, however, is the fact that along with the arrival of summer comes peach season, and there is just something so special about biting into that first ripe, juicy, sweet and succulent peach of the year.

summer peaches, nature's treat

I must say, that of all the fruit fillings that are available to fill a flaky, buttery crust- and let’s face it, the options are pretty much endless- the simple filling of peaches, cooked down with a little water and sugar, is by far my favorite. I don’t think there are many other things in this world that can satisfy me and put such a smile on my face like a plate of good ol’ fashioned peach cobbler. Peach desserts don’t need the addition of any bells and whistles. If you buy them ripe enough, you hardly even need to add sugar. Peach cobblers, peach pies or whichever way you prefer to eat your peaches- they’re better off when kept simple, allowing the peaches to really sing.

June 8, 2012

Spicy Pickled Carrots

spicy pickled carrots

I spent the early part of my childhood moving around from city to city: born in Oklahoma, grew up young in Arkansas, briefly settled down in Seattle and moved to Texas at the end of my 4th grade year. So it’s no surprise that I (proudly) consider myself a Texan. After all, I did spend the majority of my life living there. Enough with the history lesson however, my point is this: I’m no stranger to Mexican or Tex Mex food. In fact, I was raised on it. My mom always swore, and still does to this day, that she could eat chips and salsa and an enchilada lunch special every day of her life. I feel the same way. It’s something I could just possibly never get sick of. We must have spicy salsa running through our veins… So, with 27 years of eating Mexican food, most often on a weekly basis, it comes as a surprise, to myself and Jon, that I had never heard of Spicy Carrots- that is until I moved to Arizona.

chiles de arbol... spicy!

Jon likes to eat breakfast burritos most weekends and we usually get them at cheap, shack like places titled something along the lines of “Fiesta Burrito” or “Super Burrito”- so you know they’re classy. For those in the know, they ask for a side of Spicy Carrots to go along with their egg, cheese and potato burrito. When I first moved here, Jon could see the quizzical look on my face- the one that gave away that I had never been exposed to these tangy, spicy, crunchy pickled carrots. He was in disbelief. How had I, a long time lover of Mexican food, never experienced this traditional Mexican accompaniment?

May 15, 2012

Vote For Me!

Stonewall Kitchen Wasabi Mustard

As was stated, and made rather obvious in my last post, I entered Stonewall Kitchen's Mustard Recipe Contest with my original recipe for Wasabi Mustard Seared Tuna on Crispy Rice.  Well, as luck would have it, I have been named a finalist!  But I need your help to win!  Unlike most recipe contests, the judgement here is left up to the general public.  Facebook "likes", Pinterest "repins", "likes" and "comments" and "comments" left on Stonewall Kitchen's blog will be tallied to determine the top 3 contestants.  So although my mother, my boyfriend and I might all think that my recipe is a worthy winner, it's not entirely up to us.  Those three votes will certainly not go to waste, but a vote from you will make my chances of being inducted into the top three that much more likely!

I want this win.  I need this win.  And more importantly, I don't like to lose.  So, please, help a girl out.  Follow the instructions below and vote for my Wasabi Mustard Seared Tuna on Crispy Rice.  You can choose one of three ways to vote, or if you really like me, perhaps you'll vote using all three avenues.  I promise it won't be time consuming, and you have until May 25th to do so.  Don't let me down- I'm counting on you!

Wasabi Mustard Seared Tuna on Crispy Rice

Vote for Karlie's Wasabi Mustard Seared Tuna on Crispy Rice

1. Go to the Stonewall Kitchen Facebook page, navigate to the left hand side where it says "Mustard Recipe Contest Finalist", select the beautiful photo of my Wasabi Seared Tuna and simply click "like"!

2. Go to the Stonewall Kitchen Pinterest page, where they have created a board specifically for the finalists titled "Finalist Stonewall Kitchen Mustard Recipe Contest", select the photo of my Seared Tuna, and either "repin", "like" or make a "comment".  Again, if you really like me, perhaps you'll do all three...

3. Go to Stonewall Kitchen's blog where they have posted all 11 finalists.  At the end of the post, make a comment about my Wasabi Mustard Seared Tuna on Crispy Rice.  You can say things like, "The Wasabi Mustard Seared Tuna is the clear winner in my book!", or "I think the Wasabi Mustard Seared Tuna makes the best use of Stonewall Kitchen's mustard products", or even something as simple as "That Wasabi Mustard Seared Tuna looks yummy!"

It's that easy!  So really there is no reason why you shouldn't vote for me... right?  If my instructions aren't easy enough to follow for you, click on the Stonewall Kitchen button below for further directions.

Thanks in advance for your vote!

Vote for me!

May 5, 2012

Wasabi Mustard Seared Tuna on Crispy Rice

Wasabi Mustard Seared Tuna on Crispy Rice

It's almost summer time, and the heat is nearly upon us.  I understand that not all of you live in the Phoenix area, so perhaps you can't relate quite yet (we've already hit temperatures of over 100º F), but it will be here soon enough for the rest of you- this I know.  The warmer months always bring about cravings that have been hibernating throughout the winter, unknowingly triggered by that first crank of the AC.  I don't think it's uncommon to frequently yearn for a double scoop of strawberry ice cream, a refreshing cocktail or ceviche during the summer time, just like it's not uncommon to indulge in soups, stews and roasts when it's cooler outside.

prepping the sushi rice rounds

So when I was challenged by Stonewall Kitchen (an innovative retailer of incredibly yummy sauces/jams/chutneys/mixes/marinades... you get the idea) to create a recipe inspired by one of their mustards, I pretty much knew that I wanted to create something that could be enjoyed when it was inhumanely hot outside.

April 29, 2012

Elote- Mexican Street Corn

corn + mayo = so good

Food flavor profiles and the combination of ingredients can sometimes surprise you.  Something as simple as chocolate dipped potato chips may sound wildly outrageous to a few of you, but in reality, it is delicious. (Who doesn't like that sweet and salty combination?)  Elote is no exception.  The two main ingredients here are corn and good ol' mayonnaise.  I know some of you reading this are cringing at the mere thought of it.

Sedona, AZ

I've never understood why so many people out there absolutely detest mayonnaise.  I'm not ashamed to admit that I love it.  Cream cheese, sour cream, alfredo sauce- if it's white and creamy, chances are I'm a fan, and yes, go ahead and insert your inappropriate joke here.

a view that takes your breath away

So while others may be hesitant to give elote- also called Mexican street corn- a try, the idea of corn rubbed in a mixture of mayonnaise, lime juice and smoky spices was something I was immediately drawn to.  I was first introduced to this dish back in September at The Mission, a mexican restaurant located here in Scottsdale, and was instantaneously hooked.  The idea of it was so simple, but it was unlike anything I had ever had.

cheesy I know, but I still like it <3

Cut to February, the weekend before Valentine's day when Jon and I traveled to Sedona to celebrate our 1 year anniversary, and I had my second encounter with this creamy corn that, honestly, I had been thinking about for months now at this point.  I had been trying to sell elote to Jon ever since my first bite at The Mission, and wouldn't you know that Sedona had a restaurant that went by that very name.

gotta love those red rocks!

Elote (the restaurant that is) doesn't take reservations, and they are only open for dinner.  As per the recommendations listed on Yelp, Jon and I arrived around 4:45 pm and joined the line of about 100 other individuals who had gotten there before us to eagerly await Elote's nightly opening of its doors at 5 pm sharp.

gloomy day, but still a gorgeous view

Of course, elote was obviously featured on the menu, their interpretation served off the cob in a bowl mixed with the mayo mixture, but Jon and I also savored their shredded beef empanada, the Colorado lamb shank braised in a spicy adobo sauce and the smoked duck breast with pasilla chiles.  Needless to say, the meal was spectacular.  It's upscale, yet traditional Mexican cuisine layered with complex flavors of spice and smoke.  And while the lamb was nothing short of perfection, wouldn't you know what Jon's favorite part of the meal was- the elote.

Elote- Mexican Street Corn

Recipe Inspired by Elote Café

4 ears of sweet corn, husks on
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup mayonnaise (I prefer to use reduced fat Hellman's)
2 tsp lime juice
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp + 1/2 tbsp paprika
kosher salt to taste
1/4 cup cotija cheese, crumbled (a mexican cheese available at most supermarkets)
1/2 tbsp ancho chile powder (regular chile powder can be substituted)
2 tbsp chopped cilantro 
1 lime, cut into 4 wedges

1. Soak the corn in cold water for about 30 minutes. Peel back the husks, making sure to leave them intact, and pull off the silk from the corn. Pull the husks back up around the corn.

2. Heat a grill to medium high heat. Place the corn on the grill and cook for about 20-25 minutes, making sure to rotate a few times throughout grilling to ensure the corn is cooked evenly.  Remove from the grill and let cool slightly. 

3. Once the corn is cool enough to handle, pull off the husks and slather each ear with 1/2 tbsp butter. Mix the mayonnaise, lime juice, cayenne, 1/2 tsp paprika and a little salt together in a small bowl and set aside. Mix the ancho chile powder and 1/2 tbsp paprika together in a different small bowl, set aside. 

4. Brush each ear with the mayonnaise mixture, coat with cotija cheese and top with cilantro and a sprinkling of the chile powder mixture. Serve with a lime wedge and enjoy!

Makes 4 servings

April 6, 2012

Lamb Burgers with Minty-Cucumber Yogurt Sauce

Easter time lamb burgers

Easter is one of those holidays where families come together to celebrate, often around an impressive spread.  Growing up, my family used breakfast time to establish a long running tradition of enjoying Cinnamon Apple Muffins in the morning while hunting down candy colored Easter eggs and combing through the basket the Easter Bunny had left us.  (Remind me to share those muffins with you next Easter, will you?)

chopped cucumber

So in the spirit of tradition, I wanted to create something for Easter dinner this year, something that Jon and I could enjoy together, something that was rooted in Easter tradition.  Though I've never personally enjoyed leg of lamb or rack of lamb or even lamb chops for Easter dinner, lamb is something I've always associated with this particular holiday.

New Zealand lamb

I considered going the way of leg of lamb, but that seemed a little too fancy, and a lot too gluttonous for just Jon and I.  I thought about perhaps braising some lamb shanks, but I figured those might be too difficult to find (they're not). So what I decided was the best fit for Jon and I, on our first Easter dinner together, was lamb burgers.  It's casual, relatively simple to make and it can be cooked outside on the grill so that Jon and I could simultaneously enjoy the Arizona sunshine and a few cocktails poolside.

mint-cucumber yogurt sauce

I did some research and came up with what I think is one tasty burger.  I paired it with a mint and cucumber yogurt sauce, because, well, what is more traditional than lamb accompanied by mint?  This way, however, it has my own little spin on it.  The burgers are full of flavor and have that unctuous taste that can really only be delivered by lamb- a flavor profile that I am becoming quite obsessed with lately.  So if you're looking to indulge in a casual tradition this Easter Sunday, lamb burgers just might be the way to go.  Serve it along side some freshly grilled, sweet corn and a glass of crisp, white wine. Oh, and some chocolate eggs too.

juicy lamb burgers

Lamb Burgers
Recipe by Karlie

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 cup chopped yellow onion
1 1/2 lbs ground lamb
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 tbsp finely chopped mint
3 tbsp finely chopped parsley
1 fresno chile, minced
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp crumbled feta cheese
2 tsp dijon mustard
2 tsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp cumin
1 egg
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

4 buns or rolls of your choosing (we used onion and poppy seed buns bought individually from the bakery section of our supermarket)
sliced tomato
butter lettuce
pea sprouts
Mint-Cucumber Yogurt Sauce (see recipe below)

1. Heat your grill to about medium heat- charcoal or gas, your preference.  Now go inside and heat a medium sized pan over medium high heat.  Add the olive oil and after a minute or two add the onion and sauté until slightly golden, about 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes.

2. In a large bowl, add the lamb, cooled onions and the rest of the ingredients, garlic through salt and pepper. With your hands, dig in and mix everything together until it all looks evenly distributed, but be careful not to over mix the meat. Divide the meat into four sections, then shape and flatten into patties.

3. Place the patties on the grill and cook for about 5-6 minutes on each side, depending on the degree of doneness you prefer your burgers. Slather one side of each bun with the Mint-Cucumber Yogurt Sauce.  Top with a lamb patty, tomato slice, butter lettuce and pea sprouts. Take a big bite and enjoy!

Makes 4 servings

Mint-Cucumber Yogurt Sauce
Recipe by Karlie

1 cup non-fat plain greek yogurt
2 tsp chopped dill
1 tbsp finely chopped mint
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 cucumber peeled and chopped
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1. Place the greek yogurt in a strainer thats covered with a layer of paper towel and set on top of a bowel. Let the yogurt strain for about 20 minutes.

2. Place the yogurt, dill, mint, garlic and lemon juice in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until smooth and blended. Stir in the cucumber and season to taste with salt and pepper. Enjoy!

March 29, 2012

Spicy Roasted Chickpeas

spicy roasted chickpeas

Time to discuss healthy eating once again.  I'll be the first to admit that I'm struggling this time around with my battle for weight loss.  Everyone knows that losing weight requires two key elements: diet and exercise.  Unfortunately, I'm having a difficult time sticking with both.  Exercising after work sounds like no fun at all once I've sat through 45 minutes of bumper to bumper traffic and I know I have a million other things to accomplish that evening.  This problem, though easier said than done, should be easy to solve.  It's all about my own personal motivation.  I just have to make myself "do it".  I need to find that will that makes me crawl out of bed at 6 am to go for an early morning run or drive straight to the gym after work instead of going home with the intentions of working out that quickly fade into a thought of "I'll workout tomorrow instead..." Like I said, easier said than done.

drained chickpeas

Diet is the element of weight loss that I think requires much more planning and proactive commitment.  It's much more difficult to stick with a diet when you're grabbing lunch on the go, fighting mid afternoon hunger pangs with a bag of Gardetto's from the vending machine (as I did yesterday) or eating out for dinner because you didn't have time to go to the grocery store that week.  Being able to enjoy a healthy lunch, afternoon snack and dinner (assuming that each of these have been made in your own kitchen) is much more demanding than it sounds.  It requires plenty of thinking ahead with menu planning, grocery shopping and food prep.

pre-baked chickpeas

Of course it's always easier to prep tomorrow's breakfast and lunch the night before (that gives me at least 20 extra minutes to hit the snooze button), but I still don't want to spend hours in the kitchen, after a long day at work, slicing and dicing things to get into place for the next day.  I want meals and snacks that can be made in a snap so that I can't give myself an excuse for not hitting the gym after work.

chickpeas shaken in a bag

So I'm beginning a search for healthy quick fix foods that will keep me satisfied throughout the day.  These Spicy Roasted Chickpeas are my lasted find, which I discovered via Pinterest. (Side note: are you on Pinterest?  If you're not, you should be! It's definitely my new favorite way to waste time, but it's also fun and, I think, quite useful- especially for people like me who are constantly bookmarking or ripping pages out of magazines for things I want to remember or save for later).  Anyways, these chickpeas are incredibly easy, require very little prep and almost no clean up.  I get bored sitting in front of my computer all day at work, which makes me want to constantly snack.  I don't feel guilty munching on these throughout the day though and the added bonus is that they're actually quite delicious and flavorful.  So, healthy eating...?  I'm getting there.  Now, I just have to start hitting the gym.

crunchu chickpeas for a healthy snack

Spicy Roasted Chickpeas
Recipe Adapted from Willow Bird Baking

2, 15 oz cans low sodium garbanzo beans
3 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ancho chili powder
2 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 tbsp lime juice
3/4 tsp fine sea salt
1 tsp cumin
1 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro

1. Drain garbanzo beans of their liquid and rinse under cold water in a colander.  Lay out on paper towels to dry completely.  

2. Preheat the oven to 400º F.  Line a baking sheet with non-stick aluminum foil.  Spread the garbanzo beans out in a single layer on the foil. Bake for 40 minutes, stirring about every 15 minutes.

3. While the chickpeas are cooking, combine the chili powders, olive oil, lime juice, sea salt, cumin and cilantro in a small bowl and set aside. After the chickpeas are done cooking, let them cool for a minute, then pour them into a large Ziplock bag. Pour the oil mixture into the bag, seal and then shake to evenly coat the chickpeas. 

4. Pour the chickpeas back onto the baking sheet and continue to bake for 10 minutes longer or until the chickpeas are really crunchy. Enjoy and store in an air tight container.

Makes about 1 1/2 cups

March 4, 2012

Pepperoni Pizza Dip

pizza as a dip, what a great idea!

I’ve learned that I need to start prepping for certain holidays weeks in advance for the benefit of this blog.  I would love to feature a dish that would shine during a particular time of year.  I’ve attempted this in the past, but failed rather miserably.  My Christmas Croquembouche was posted Christmas Eve, which didn’t allow near enough time for someone to make their own croquembouche for a Christmas festivity, had they wanted to.   I had planned on making rosy pink macarons for Valentine’s Day… which, as I’m sure you can tell, I did not.   Furthermore, this featured ooey gooey, cheesy Pepperoni Pizza Dip was intended for Super Bowl Sunday.   And if I’m not mistaken, I believe it is now March. Only a month past due.

easy as 1, 2, 3, 4

I can’t beat myself up too much, I guess.   I’ve never been one to be punctual- and you can forget expecting me to be ahead of schedule.   I’d also like to mention that I’m superb at procrastinating or pushing things aside.   Nevertheless, I’m determined to get better.  There is always room for improvement and that’s what I like to think of this blog as: my own personal log of self-advancement. It’s a diary for my growth as an individual.  A place where I can share my thoughts and the current events of my life, as well as tracking the progress I’ve made over time.

supreme pizz dip

For instance, wouldn’t you agree that I’ve improved vastly on my photography skills?   You only need compare my current photos from this post or perhaps this one to the posts when I first began this little blog, with Chicken Milanese or Summer Peach Cupcakes.  I’d also like to think my skills in the kitchen have improved as well.  That’s why I sometimes select recipes that might be a little too involved or over complicated.  I think it’s fun challenging myself to learn a new technique.

ooey gooey pizza dip

So maybe in time for Easter this year I will have posted a stunning leg of lamb recipe for you all to try out in time to serve on Easter Sunday.  After all, recognizing the problem is the first step to self-improvement.

beware, this dip goes fast!

Pepperoni Pizza Dip
Adapted from Closet Cooking

4 oz 1/3 less fat cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup low fat sour cream
1/4 cup light mayonnaise (preferably Hellman's)
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
1/2 cup grated parmesan, divided
1 cup jarred pizza sauce
2-3 oz pepperoni slices (I used a mix of regular and mini- the mini slices are just so cute!)
1/4 cup thinly sliced green pepper
2 tbsp sliced black olives
1/4 cup sliced button mushrooms

1 crusty French baguette

1. Preheat the oven to 350º F.  Mix the cream cheese, sour cream, mayonnaise, 1/2 cup mozzarella and 1/4 cup parmesan together in a small bowl, and spread it evenly across the bottom of a 9" pie pan.

2. Spread the pizza sauce on top then sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella and parmesan cheeses.  Top with the pepperoni slices, green pepper, black olives and mushrooms.

3. Bake until the cheese is melted, bubbling and golden brown on top, about 20 minutes.  Serve with a sliced baguette. Enjoy!

Serves 6-8 (or in my case, just Jon and I :-)

February 22, 2012

Five Spice Beet Soup- It's Better Than You Think

beet soup, it'll stain your teeth

I've done it again. Neglected the blog. But I do have a good excuse. After 5 months of living in Arizona, I had to buckle down and find myself a solid source of income. And guess what. I did. So now that that headache is out of the way, I figured I'd have so much time to focus on this blogging thing. Well, I have yet again run into another predicament. I don't have all that much time at all. After working 8 hours a day, dragging myself to the gym and returning home from a long day only to find myself inundated with a long list of chores waiting to be done, finding an hour or two to write up a post and upload pictures seems like an impossible task. I've even sat down several nights this week, laptop in lap, fingers gingerly placed upon the keyboard, mind geared up to write a simple post, and the next thing I know is it's 4 in the morning and I have a crick in my neck from sleeping slumped over my computer screen.

freshly scrubbed beets

So I know what I need to work on. Balance. Balancing work, responsibilities and personal projects. It's so much easier said than done, but it's a good goal to work on. I've always been one of those people who constantly has a list a mile long of Things To Do. I always have projects and goals.

pureed beets

Not to mention, it’s often difficult to get things accomplished when you have mountains in your backyard and it’s 75 degrees outside in the middle of February.

Lake Saguaro

One of these goals: losing weight. I have I mentioned this recently? Perhaps here? Or maybe here? Yeah… this goal is proving to be rather tricky. Jon and I tried out the Food Lover’s Cleanse. A diet meant for foodies, provided by the good people at Bon Apetit, which is where this recipe for Beet Soup came from. Did we stick to the14 day cleanse? Not exactly. We made it to about day 4 before we decided to give it up. The food was good, but it wasn’t practical enough for us. The recipes tended to be a little overly involved for week night meals and the ingredient lists proved to be pretty expensive at the grocery store.

how badass am I

A few good things did come from this short lived diet, however. This beautiful soup for one- I love the pink color of beets- and Jon and I learned that we love lentils. Neither of us had ever had them before, but they sure are tasty! And healthy to boot.

scenic drive through the AZ hills

Come to think of it… I’ve made quite a few soups as of late. The Vegetarian Wonton Soup, Black-Eyed Pea and Ham Soup with Collard Greens and now Beet Soup. Which one is your favorite?

healthy for you beet soup

Five Spice Beet Soup
Recipe Courtesy of Bon Appètit

4, 2"-2 1/2"diameter beets, scrubbed, trimmed, unpeeled, each cut into 6 wedges (about 3 1/2 cups)
3 cups vegetable broth, divided
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
1 celery stalk with leaves, stalk chopped, leaves thinly sliced
2 tsp grated fresh ginger
*1/4 tsp (or more to taste) Chinese five-spice powder
2 tbsp low-fat Greek-style yogurt
*Chinese five-spice powder is a spice blend available in the spice section of most supermarkets.
1. Place beet wedges in 4-cup glass measuring cup. Add 2 cups broth; cover with paper plate and microwave on high until tender, about 15 minutes. (Beware of this- perhaps try microwaving in increments- mine exploded!)

2. Meanwhile, heat oil in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and chopped celery stalk; cover and cook until almost tender and translucent, stirring often, about 12 minutes.

3. Add beet mixture and 1 cup broth to onion mixture; cover and simmer 4 minutes. Mix in ginger and 1/4 teaspoon five-spice powder. Transfer to blender; cover and puree. Season soup to taste with salt, pepper, and additional five-spice powder, if desired; rewarm if necessary. Ladle soup into 4 bowls. Top with yogurt and sliced celery leaves.

Makes 4 servings