TZATZIKI SAUCE

Printable Version is temporarily down

Tzatziki Sauce! Such a simple, clean and refreshing sauce. I can’t speak better words about this Mediterranean sauce. Typically you find it at Greek restaurants served as a topping or paired with stuffed grape leaves also known as Dolmas. By the way, I have an exquisite recipe for Stuffed Grape Leaves that you’ll really enjoy. There’s a bit of work involved but the enjoyment is extremely worth the time. And when you have some help, it goes fast.

tzatziki01But back to this glorious sauce. I’m all about multi-purpose recipes, this is one of them. You can place a dollop of this on top of your favorite fish or even dip a variety of your favorite veggies into it. Not only that, because you know I love encouraging to take my recipes and make your own, you can always add other herbs and spices to this for variety like adding onions or chives. Just remember, let it sit in the fridge for an hour or two first before serving. Overnight is even better!

tzatziki02

INGREDIENTS
makes about 2 heaping cups

1 large cucumber, skin peeled off
1 teaspoon salt
1 pound whole plain Greek yogurt (2 cups)
3 large garlic cloves, crushed
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt to taste

Using a potato peeler, peel the cucumber into strands up until you get to the seeds. Throw the seedy center part away. Place the strands of cucumber on a plate, sprinkle the salt on top, mix and let sit for about 15 minutes to draw out the water.

In the meantime, mix the Greek yogurt, crushed garlic, olive oil in a medium bowl. Then grab the cucumber and squeeze the remaining excess of water out of it and chop the cucumber strands. Combine the cucumber in with everything else, add salt to taste and let it chill in the fridge for at least an hour or overnight.

Buttermilk Biscuits

Printable Version is temporarily down

Okay so by all means this isn’t necessarily a healthy recipe. But I’ll admit being excited about this because having homemade biscuits is a little bit of a new thing for me. So much that I did need to figure out how to make them myself. I’m not a baker, baking doesn’t come natural to me so I’ll just say I lucked out at my first attempt because they came out so perfect. This is something I may do once or twice a year. And even though it’s infrequent, it’s still absolutely amazing, worth making instead of some weird cylindrical cardboard at the store. Therefore, I’m totally sharing this with everyone.

BiscuitsGravy02

You can make these using an all-purpose gluten free flour. They will be tasty so long as you use a flour you know you love. Surely they won’t be identical to the traditional buttermilk biscuit but they will taste really good nonetheless for a healthier alternative. So, you know how I said I rarely will make these? The same goes with my rendition of Poached Eggs, Biscuits and Gravy here on the blog. Definitely a must try!

BiscuitsGravy01

INGREDIENTS
Makes about 10

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the board
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon baking powder (without aluminum)
1 teaspoon sea salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, very cold
1 cup buttermilk (approximately)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

Preheat the oven at 450 F degrees.

Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl, or in the bowl of a food processor. Cut the butter into chunks and cut into the flour until it resembles coarse meal. If using a food processor, just pulse a few times until the consistency is achieved. Add the buttermilk at a slow continuous stream until it’s combined into a sticky dough. If it appears on the dry side, add a bit more buttermilk.

Turn the dough out onto a floured board. Gently pat (don’t use a rolling pin) the dough until it’s about ½” thick. Fold the dough about 5 times, gently pressing the dough down to an inch thick in between each folds.

Use a round cutter to cut into disks. Place the biscuits on a cookie sheet about an inch apart. Brush melted butter on top of each biscuit. Bake for about 10-12 minutes or until golden brown on top and bottom.

You can gently knead the scraps together and make a few more, but there’s a chance they may not be as good as the first batch.

NOTE: You can make these biscuits, cut them, put on a cookie sheet and freeze up to a month. When you’re ready for them, place in the oven at 450 F degrees for about 20 minutes.

Gluten Free Low Carb Pizza

There’s no wrong way to dress a pizza. We all know this. But these are some of my favorite toppings when I’m feeling pepperoni or sausage on my pizza. Otherwise I tend to do go meatless using various types of veggies and different cheeses. If you’re looking for a good red sauce you can always use my go-to Homemade Marinara. If you like your pizza sauce on the sweeter side just add a little bit of sugar to the marinara when heating it up. Feel free to use any of your favorite low carb and/or gluten free pizza crust but if you’re looking to make something homemade and fresh, definitely try my Cauliflower Pizza Crust!

CauliPizzaCrust02

INGREDIENTS
1 personal pizza

1 cauliflower pizza crust (or your fav personal sized pizza crust)
1/4 cup marinara sauce
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (or fresh)
16 pepperoni slices
1/4 bell pepper, thinly sliced
2 baby bella mushrooms, thinly sliced
1/4 small onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped

Place the pizza on a pizza stone or baking shit with parchment paper. Dress your pizza how you want it. Bake at 450 F for about 10-15 minutes or until cheese is bubbling.

CUCUMBER DILL SAUCE

Printable Version is temporarily down

This is one of my favorite sauces to eat with fish. It can go with pretty much any fish and even poultry but my absolute favorite is on top of salmon. For those who are trying to get more fish in their diet but can’t get past the “fishy” taste, using sauces like this is a great way to serve it. It also gives you more options in how to enjoy seafood too.

cucumberdillsauce

The basics of this recipe, by pulling the water out of cucumber, chopping it up and mixing in with Greek yogurt comes from a traditional Tzatziki sauce that I learned to make visiting Greece. It’s such a light refreshing sauce. The only difference is I added dill (you can use fresh if you like) and chives. Aside from having to let the cucumber sit for 20min to draw out the water content, everything else takes minutes to put together. There’s NO reason to go out and buy a jar of sauce with a paragraph long of ingredients, where half is entirely unnecessary. TRUST ME, things like this deserve a try at least once.

INGREDIENTS
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
½ cucumber, skin removed
1 heaping tablespoon chopped fresh chives
1 teaspoon dried dill
½ lemon, zested & juiced
Sea salt & Pepper to taste

Using a vegetable peeler, shave the flesh of the cucumber all around into a bowl. When you get to the center where the seeds are stop and discard them. Sprinkle about a teaspoon of sea salt over the cucumber, stir and let sit for about 20 minutes.

While the cucumber sits, combine the Greek yogurt, chives, dill, lemon zest and juice.

Grab all the cucumber and squeeze all the excess water out of it as much as you can. Finely chop the cucumber, stir, add salt and pepper to taste.

BEEF SHORT RIBS RAGU

Printable Version is temporarily down

These hearty one pot meals especially during the Winter is LIFE! I think I get more use out of the slow cooker during the colder months than any other time of year, but with that comes big batch cooking for even tastier leftovers along with really easy prepping so that you can do whatever you need to do for the day while it slowly cooks.

beefshortribsragu01This Beef Short Ribs Ragu recipe is among my favorite next to my Braciole & Italian Sausage recipe. It’s perfect for cold days and also for the holidays. But I’ll admit I’ve made this when it wasn’t cold because it’s that good. And often when I’m being good with my choice of eats, I won’t ignore the craving for this! Okay, believe it or not it doesn’t require anything fancy to make. Cooking it long and slow is the main ingredient to making this taste amazing. Normally I would use 1/2 cup of a dry red wine like Cabernet Sauvignon but there have been times I didn’t have any or forgot to get wine and it came out just as good.

beefshortribsragu02There is one ingredient you don’t want to ditch when making this, and that’s the pecorino Romano cheese. Make sure you go to the cheese section and buy the block of pecorino. Not the grated. It is often compared to parmesan cheese but the difference is that it’s made of sheeps milk; giving that much stronger pungent taste. AND IT GOES SO PERFECT WITH THIS DISH! Trust me. You can use the leftover block of Romano in place of Parmesan cheese, over any pasta dish, or shaved over salads. It can also be stored tight in a freezer bag in the freezer for future uses if you don’t plan to use the rest of it so quickly before the expiration date.

beefshortribsragu03One last thing! If you’re not feeling pasta, you can definitely serve this over a baked potato, polenta, Italian inspired quesadillas, and even top a homemade pizza with the shredded meat. Never feel you’re limited to only one dish when you make a big batch of food. Enjoy!

 

INGREDIENTS
Makes 8 servings

2 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt & fresh ground pepper
2.5 lbs beef short ribs
½ cup beef broth
1 Spanish onion, chopped super fine
1 large carrot, chopped super fine
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons Italian seasoning (equal parts basil, rosemary, oregano & thyme)
1 bay leaf
1 28oz can tomato puree
1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
½ cup dry red wine (optional)
4 inch long (and about ½” thick) chunk pecorino Romano cheese, broken apart
Sea salt to taste
1 pound tagliatelle or rigatoni

Season the short ribs with salt and pepper. Place about 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large pan and bring to high heat. Brown all sides of the short ribs about a minute each side. Lay the short ribs into a slow cooker set for 8 hours on low.

Drain the excess oil from the pan, place back on the stove on medium heat. Add the beef broth and scrape up the brown bits at the bottom of the pan then add the onions, carrot, garlic, and Italian seasoning. Stir for about two minutes then transfer into the slow cooker.

Add the bay leaf, tomato puree, crushed tomatoes, dry red wine (optional) and Romano cheese chunks. Stir gently and cover the slow cooker to cook. Feel free to stir everything once half way through if you like. It should be ready in as little as 6 hours but 8 hours is perfect.

Remove each short rib onto a large cutting board and use two forks to shred the meat. Place the shredded meat back into the slow cooker, add salt as needed, stir, and serve.

Serve over pasta.

NOTE: I recommend using a spoon to scoop the pools of fat at the top. You can also do so by scraping the solidified fat at the top after it’s been refrigerated.

Gorgonzola Butter

Printable Version is temporarily down

Gorgonzola Butter in my opinion is the yummiest way to enjoy gorgonzola cheese. For those who love Blue Cheese would definitely appreciate gorgonzola, especially mixed up with fresh chives and homemade butter melted on top of your favorite cut of steak; which mind you is ridiculously easy to make! You should give a try at least once, here’s my simple step-by-step recipe, Homemade Butter. I stumbled upon this idea of butter when I had leftover king crab meat, little bit of gorgonzola, chives that needed to be used fast and I had just bought filets. So I made the Gorgonzola Butter, let that melt on top of the steak straight out of the oven and then piled the top of all that with the crab meat. I’ll just say that any time I eat king crab, I’m always going to purposely leave just enough leftovers to do this again.

gorgonzolabutter

Making decked out butters for all sorts of culinary purposes is really fun because there are so infinite flavors you can turn butter into, whether it’s breakfast, lunch, dinner, or dessert. I did a Tarragon Chive Butter for one of my recent recipe posts: Bison Filet With Tarragon Chive Butter. If you want to try a more milder profile, give that one a guy to start with. But feel free to throw in chopped sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, fresh grated horseradish, any of your favorite spices, whatever you love most and enjoy!

INGREDIENTS
Makes about ¾ – 1 cup

¾ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
¼ cup heaping, crumbled gorgonzola cheese
2 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped
1 teaspoon sea salt or to taste (optional)

Mix everything together in a bowl until well combined. Place on a sheet of plastic wrap, wrap it up and shape the butter into a 1 ½” thick log. Refrigerate to harden, about a couple hours.

SAUSAGE AND CANNELLINI CIOPPINO

Printable Version

It’s finally starting to cool down and stay cool. Now that Fall is here, I’m ready to plant my face in bowls of all sorts of soup. This Sausage & Cannellini Cioppino is one of my absolute favorites because it’s a fast, easy one pot meal with a whole lot of healthy going on that doesn’t taste necessarily “healthy.” It’s bold flavors are given credit to the Italian sausage of course. I used TURKEY Italian sausage rather than pork to keep the grease level down. You really can not taste a difference whatsoever. They make a chicken Italian sausage too, I’m not a huge fan of it as I believe I CAN taste the difference but by all means, if you want to use it, do so!

SausageCannelliniCioppinoFor those who aren’t a fan of kale or never tried it, this is one of the best ways to try kale. Baby steps! It literally doesn’t have much of a flavor as it absorbs everything else in the soup but the importance of getting greens is huge. There are different kinds of kale, feel free to use any of them. The curly kale is great and more hearty than lacinto or dino kale but they all taste fairly similar. Also, extremely important! When buying broth, read the ingredients label! You will discover that most broth is hardly much REAL broth and riddled with MSG. The best way to get quality broth is to look at the ones packaged in a box and low-sodium. Pacific is one of my favorite brands. Just make sure it doesn’t have MSG. You can control your salt intake yourself very easily by just adding sea salt if needed.

Sometimes I love throwing in 1/2 pound of shrimp instead of beans or in addition to. Of course you can do whatever you want and make it your own as I always love to encourage that. If you’re new to cooking, it may be easiest for you to follow the recipe to get a feel for it and then next time make it by adding your own flare to it. Regardless, I hope you guys enjoy this cioppino as much as I do. It’s even better when you dunk homemade garlic bread into it!

INGREDIENTS
4 – 6 servings

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 fennel bulb, trimmed & chopped
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1 brown onion, chopped
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 tablespoon basil
1 tablespoon thyme
5 turkey Italian sausages, casings removed
2 cups pinot grigio wine
¼ cup tomato paste
3 cups vegetable broth
1 14 oz. can stewed or diced tomatoes
1 large dried bay leaf
1 14 oz. can cannellini beans, rinsed & drained
3 large kale leaves, stem removed & rough chopped

In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the fennel, garlic, onion, sea salt, and pepper. Let cook, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are softened about 5 minutes. Add the basil, thyme, sausage, and use a wood spoon to break the sausage up. Cook for about 5 minutes until almost cooked through.

Add the wine, stir by scrapping up the bits from the bottom of the pan then stir in the tomato paste, vegetable broth, stewed tomatoes, and bay leaf. Bring everything to a simmer, reduce heat to medium-low and let cook for 20 minutes, stirring once in a while.

Lastly, add the beans and kale. Stir and let cook for another five minutes. Remove the bay leaf, add more sea salt and pepper to taste.

ELK BEAN CHILI

Printable Version

What’s with all the exotic meats in my recipes lately? I know, I know. I’ve been feeling adventurous and curious about these healthier meat options. It’s been very fun so far and extremely successful. Just because it’s a meat most of us is unfamiliar with, doesn’t mean it has to be anymore complicated than working with something common like beef. It seems as though as long as you know the fat content, then you know when cooking it you may need more or less olive oil to prevent it from being dry. And of course, proper spices! If you’re all for trying new meats, you’ll likely love my Wild Boar Ragu which is to die for.

ElkBeanChili

So with elk, I literally treated it like ground beef. And it was a huge success. It has a less greasy taste to it and more rich flavor. In a chili, it’s not so distinctive at all given all the spices involved. So, if you want to give elk a try this may be the best way to try it out! If you’re not about elk, feel free to use any kind of ground meat. There are no strict rules to this at all. Oh and last thing… you could throw all of this in a slow cooker on low for 8hrs if you’re strapped for time. Just leave the beans out of it until the last few minutes before serving and you’re good to go!

INGREDIENTS
6 – 8 servings

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 brown onion, chopped
1 4 oz. can green chilies
1 14 oz. can stewed tomatoes
1 pound ground elk
½ tablespoon worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/8-1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 14 oz. crushed tomatoes
1/8 cup dark brown sugar (optional)
1 15 oz. can kidney beans, drained & rinsed
2 year aged sharp cheddar, shredded for garnish

In a large pot over medium-high heat drizzle the olive oil and sauté the onions for about 5 minutes. Add the green chilies and stewed tomatoes, stir for 2 minutes.

Then, add the ground elk, worcestershire sauce, chili powder, ground cumin, oregano, garlic powder, salt and cayenne pepper; breaking up the ground elk with a wooden spoon. Cook and stir until the meat is mostly cooked through.

Lastly, add the crushed tomatoes, brown sugar and let everything come to a boil. Once it comes to a boil reduce the heat to low so it can simmer for about 45 minutes. Stir occasionally and add the kidney beans the last 5 minutes.

Lamb Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

Printable Version

If you love stuffed cabbage rolls, then you’ll love this recipe! It takes the whole dish to a whole new level. I know some people are purists but you’ll be surprised to find there are many cultures including the Middle East that have their own variation of stuffed cabbage or some other kind of leaf. So I took the concept of the traditional Polish stuffed cabbage and used a more flavorful meat like ground lamb and complimenting it using the proper spices for it. Yet another fusion dish perhaps that is worth the prep work, I swear!

LambStuffedCabbage03I’ll say though, it may sound like a lot of work but it really isn’t. You can make the lamb mixture the day before which is super fast. Then take care of the rest later. One major word of advice though is make sure you have a big, tall pot one you’d use to cook spaghetti in. Also, a hand held strainer that would fit a cabbage head in. This will make removing a piping hot cabbage head so much easier preventing burnt hands.

LambStuffedCabbage01

One last thing, the very end of the leaf can have a very thick spine which makes it difficult sometimes to roll the cabbage leaf. In the picture above you can see I cut an upside-down “V” to remove most of it off. It does make a big difference. Don’t worry about ruining the leaf! If you are confused and have any questions don’t hesitate to ask!

LambStuffedCabbage02

INGREDIENTS
6 – 8 servings

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 brown onion, finely chopped (1/4 of it set aside)
3 large garlic cloves, minced
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 pound ground lamb
¾ cup jasmine rice, mostly or fully cooked
1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 cabbage head, bottom core removed
2 bay leaves
½ tablespoon garlic powder
Sea salt and pepper
1 cup tomato puree
2 ½ cups vegetable broth
¼ – ½ cup crumbled feta cheese

In a pan over medium-high heat drizzle the olive oil and sauté the onions, garlic, black pepper, cumin, and cinnamon together until the onions are softened, about 7 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Mix the ground lamb, rice, cooled onion mixture, fresh cilantro and salt thoroughly in a large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.

Fill a large pot with water and bring to boil. Place the cabbage head carefully into the boiling hot water using a large strainer with a handle for about 5minutes. You want the leaves to appear bright green.

Remove the cabbage head into a large bowl. Peel off some of the softened leaves and place onto a plate covered with paper towels. Place the cabbage back into the boiling water for a few minutes until the next layer of leaves are ready to be peeled. Do this a few times until you peel most of the leaves off the head. Save the damaged and/or outer leaves to cover the bottom and top of the baking dish.

Using a knife cut an upside-down “V” to remove the toughest part of the spine at the bottom of each leaf. This will make rolling the leaves easier. Place each cabbage leaf sideways, spoon about ¼ cup give or take of the lamb mixture onto the bottom part of the leaf. Roll it up and tuck in the sides before completely rolling it up.

Line a 9” x 13” baking dish with imperfect cabbage leaves, place the stuffed cabbage rolls into the baking dish and sprinkle the top with garlic powder, sea salt and pepper. Add the bay leaves and vegetable broth. Top the rolls with tomato puree, the remaining fresh chopped onion and feta crumbles.

Cover everything with remaining leftover cabbage leaves and aluminum foil. Bake at 350 F for about an 1h 15min to 1hr 30min. Everything should be boiling hot.

Shredded Radicchio & Brussels

Printable Version

This is a very straight forward recipe that only takes minutes to cook. It’s so simple and so good for you. Most of the meal prepping I do is literally veggie dishes so I can easily heat up and only worry about the main deal. This recipe goes great with practically anything. Bake, pan sear/fry whatever it may be your favorite fish, or chicken breast, steak and lay it on top a bed of the Shredded Radicchio & Brussels. I’ve added a small handful of it to a rough chopped salad among whatever other random goodies I have in the fridge for a quick, lazy lunch or even dinner. BUT, my absolute fav is creating a circle of this in an oiled iron skillet, leaving a 4-5inch in diameter space in the center where I crack an egg or two in the center. Place the lid on top and let cook on medium-high heat for several minutes. Cajun seasoning sprinkled on top is divine! With toast and the oozing yolk, OH MY GOODNESS!

BrusselsRadicchio01Sooo my point is, make a big batch of this ahead of time. Use it in all sorts of things. Make your life easy. Get your veggies. Be healthier, feel healthier. And life is good. Hey, feel free to add or replace ingredients too. I love it when you guys go outside the box, after all that’s the whole point of this food blog. Creativity and options is endless. Last thing though… To make life that much easier, I buy the bags of shredded carrot but by all means feel free to save some money by using the good ole cheese grater. You can do the same with the brussels sprouts. Personally, I prefer using a very sharp knife and making thin slices to each one. The radicchio though, you’ll have to use a knife to get the shredded effect. It’s about 1/4 of a radicchio head to get a solid cup of thin slices. Okay, I’m done babbling. Go make nowwww!

INGREDIENTS

Olive oil
2 cups shredded raw brussels sprouts (about 20-25)
1 cup shredded radicchio
1 large leak, halved then sliced
½ cup shredded carrots
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ large lemon, juiced
Sea salt & pepper to taste

In a large saute pan over medium-high heat drizzle about a tablespoon of olive oil and add everything except the lemon juice. Stir frequently for about 5-7minutes or until the brussels sprouts turn a vibrant green.

Then, squeeze the lemon juice, add salt and pepper. Stir for about 30 seconds and remove from heat.