Saturday, September 13, 2014

Peanut butter-pretzel energy bars

This past weekend I was lucky enough to participate in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in beautiful Santa Barbara.  39.3 miles in 2 bars were definitely going to be necessary!!  I thought it would be fun to make some nutty, salty-sweet ones for the amazing & awesome girls on my "team" instead of buying them.

I pretty much tried to copy a few of my favorite MOJO bars, and although they were all good, the actual recipe for this one came out the best (I'll work on the others, cuz they were all delish).  They are PACKED with nuts and not too sweet at all.  I love the pretzel-peanut-almond combo.  Don't the candy thermometer and talk of the "hard ball stage" scare you...they are actually pretty easy and cost pennies on the dollar compared to the price of just one bar at the market.

Here is a visual on the powdered peanut butter that the recipe calls for.  It's really fun stuff - would be great for smoothies, other baking, etc.  It's full peanut taste with 85% less fat!  I found mine at Whole Foods in the peanut butter aisle.

Makes 20 bars

1/2 c. whole roasted almonds
1/2 c. sliced almonds
1 c. roasted peanuts
1/2 c. chopped roasted peanuts (it helps to have smaller pieces to bind the bars together more)
1 1/2 c. roughly-broken, salted pretzels
1 c. puffed millet or puffed rice cereal
2 T. hemp seeds
2 T. powdered peanut butter (i.e. PB2)

1/3 c. brown rice syrup
1/2 c. honey
generous pinch of salt
1 t. vanilla

Before you begin, lightly oil a large bowl, a silicone spatula, a 9 x 13 rimmed baking sheet and the bottom of something flat for pressing your bars into the pan, like a glass or mug.

Combine all the nuts, pretzels, millet, hemp seeds and powdered peanut butter in the oiled bowl and mix well to combine.

In a small saucepan (1 - 1.5 quart) combine the brown rice syrup, honey, salt & vanilla and stir until mixed.  Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until a candy thermometer reads 250-260 degrees - the “hard ball” stage.  Immediately remove from the heat and pour sugar mixture over nuts, mixing with oiled spatula, until thoroughly coated (work fast here!).

Quickly pour the nut mixture onto the oiled sheet pan and press to fill evenly.  Use your oiled glass mug to pack it down firmly.  Allow to cool for about 15 minutes.

While still a little bit warm, invert your sheet pan onto a cutting board lined with parchment or wax paper (it’s a bit sticky).  Cut the whole rectangle into quarters and then cut each quarter into 5 bars.

Allow to cool completely.  Store in an airtight container with wax or parchment paper between layers (again, a bit sticky!). 

NOTE:  When taking them on the road, I’d suggest wrapping them individually in wax or parchment paper, and tying them with a cute string makes them even tastier :).

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Late-summer salad with salmon & dill

So, I know I just posted a salmon recipe not that long ago (grilled salmon tacos with peach & cucumber salsa), but the local, wild-caught stuff is just so GOOD & FRESH & ABUNDANT right now, I can't resist it whenever I look at it.  I'm taking full advantage of it's season and will not apologize for it.  Plus, one can never really have enough simple, heart- & whole body-healthy recipe options, right?

I love using fresh dill with fish and I can't say enough about the cherry tomatoes overflowing everywhere & the perfect late-season corn.  I'm really wishing summer produce would never go away.  This is the end, this is the end, my friend.

I made this for dinner the other night and my husband & kiddos unanimously decided that this meal should go on the blog.   So, requested, dear family.  Enjoy!

Serves 4

2 ears corn, kernels cut from cob (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
1/2 c. diced cucumber
2 green green onions - greens and whites thinly sliced
3 T. dill - chopped
2 T. white wine vinegar
1 T. olive oil
3 oz. crumbled sheep’s milk Feta (about 3/4 cup)
sea salt & fresh ground pepper, to taste

1 1/2 pounds center-cut salmon (about 1 inch thick), cut into 4 pieces
olive oil
sea salt & fresh ground pepper

In a medium saucepan, heat water until boiling.  Add corn and blanch 2 minutes.  Drain and place in an ice bath to cool completely.  Drain well and place in a medium bowl.

To the corn, add the tomatoes, cucumber, green onions, dill, vinegar, oil, feta and salt & pepper.  Mix gently to combine.

Preheat grill on medium-high for at least 10 minutes.  Drizzle salmon pieces on both sides with olive oil and season with salt & pepper.

Oil grill grates and place salmon, skin side down, on grill.  Close lid and cook for 4 minutes.  Flip, close lid and cook 4 more minutes.  Remove from grill and let rest a few minutes. 

Remove skin, if desired, or leave it on and eat it crispy :).  Serve salmon along with salad.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Banh mi burgers

If you are not familiar with the Vietnamese sandwich the Banh Mi, let me tell you, it's amazing.  One of my all time favorites.  I've tried many renditions, but traditionally it's made with pork and has a pickled slaw of carrots & daikon with tons of cilantro and jalapeno.  It's served on an airy, light baguette bread/roll with a crispy crust (not dense!). 

I've created a little East-meets-West situation by turning the sandwich into a burger.  I've done a half-beef, half-pork combo for the meat and it's really nice with the lemongrass, garlic & ginger, etc.  I love this Asian twist on a burger - it's quick to make, packed with veggies, and adds some interesting flava-flav to dinner.

For the julienne of carrot and daikon, I highly recommend this little gadget - a julienne peeler.  It makes beautiful, perfect thin strips of whatever you use it on.  It's inexpensive, so quick and fun to use!

Serves 4

1/4 c. white vinegar
3 T. sugar
1/2 c. julienne of carrot (or shredded)
1 c. julienne of daikon (or shredded)

1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 pound ground pork
1 t. minced lemongrass
1 t. minced garlic
1 t. minced ginger
2 t. Asian fish sauce
1/2 t. salt
fresh ground pepper

1/2 cup chopped cilantro
4 buns, or light crispy baguette, cut into 4 sections for buns
Persian cucumber slices
Thinly sliced jalapeño
Mayonnaise (Kewpie brand recommended!)

Combine vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan.  Heat on high until boiling, stirring until sugar is dissolved.  Remove from heat and pour over shredded carrot and daikon.  Allow to stand 20 minutes, stirring occasionally for even coverage.  Drain veggies very well and set aside.

Preheat grill on medium high for 10 minutes. 

In a bowl, combine beef, pork, lemongrass, garlic, ginger, fish sauce, salt & pepper.  Mix very well with your hands until all ingredients are well incorporated.  Divide into 4 patties and drizzle or spray with oil for grilling.

Grill patties about 5 minutes per side or until a thermometer reads 145 degrees.  Remove from grill, cover with foil and allow to rest 5-10 minutes.  Grill buns or baguette lightly until toasty and warm.

Add chopped cilantro to carrot & daikon mixture and stir to combine.  Spread bread or buns with mayo.  Place cucumber slices on the bottom, then add the patty and top generously with carrot & daikon and jalapeño slices.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Coconut-lime noodle salad

This is a really light & cooling quick weeknight dinner salad for these last hot summer evenings.  The coconut-lime dressing is super mild.  It's not all crazy coconut-y, and my non-coconut-loving son gobbled this dish up.

I used glass noodles in this recipe which go by many names...bean thread noodles, cellophane noodles, mung bean noodles.  They are really easy to work with and are gluten-free for those of you avoiding gluten or eating a paleo diet. Omit the chicken and add some tofu for a great veggie dish!

Serves 6

1 1/2 c. coconut milk
1/2 c. fresh squeezed lime juice
2 t. fish sauce
1 T. brown sugar
salt & pepper

5 oz. glass noodles (aka mung bean noodles)
1 red bell pepper - thinly sliced
4 c. Napa (aka Chinese) cabbage - thinly sliced
1/4 c. roughly chopped mint leaves
1/4 roughly chopped cilantro
1 rotisserie chicken - shredded & cooled (about 4 cups)

toasted sesame seeds
garlic-chili sauce (optional)

To make dressing, combine coconut milk, lime juice, fish sauce, brown sugar in a small bowl and whisk until sugar dissolves.  Add salt & pepper to taste.

Cook noodles according to directions on package.  Drain and rinse well in cold water.  Allow noodles to drain for a few minutes so they are not too wet.

In a large bowl, combine noodles, bell pepper, cabbage, mint, cilantro and chicken. Toss with dressing.  Garnish generously with toasted sesame seeds and spoonful of garlic chili sauce, if desired.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Grilled salmon tacos with peach & cucumber salsa

My love affair with the taco continues here on Lieslicious...

These puppies are perfect for summer grilling...all the fillings are in prime season, salmon included.  Yes, fish does have a "season" and it's full-on salmon time right 'bout now.  

The fish pairs perfectly with a sweet-crunchy-creamy peach & cucumber salsa packed with all sortsa summer produce.  It's such a healthy & delicious quick of my absolute favorites!

Serves 4

1 pound wild salmon with skin, about 1 inch thick, cut into 2 equal pieces
2 T. olive oil
1/4 c. chopped fresh oregano
1 t. chili powder
kosher salt & fresh ground pepper

1/4 c. plain Greek yogurt
1/4 c. mayonnaise

1 peach - diced
1 medium tomato - diced
2 T. chopped cilantro
2 green onions - greens & white chopped
1/2 c. cucumber - diced

1/2 t. red or green jalapeno - minced
1 T. lime juice
a couple pinches kosher salt
1/2 avocado - diced

corn tortillas
Cholula (or your favorite hot sauce)
lime wedges

Preheat grill on medium-high for at least 10 minutes.  Drizzle salmon pieces on both sides with olive oil.  Sprinkle flesh side with chopped oregano, chili powder, and salt & pepper.

In a small bowl, mix Greek yogurt and mayonnaise together and stir well to combine.

In another medium bowl, combine the peach, tomato, cilantro, green onion, cucumber, lime juice and salt.  Stir to mix flavors.  Gently fold in diced avocado.

Oil grill grates and place salmon, skin side down, on grill.  Close lid and cook for 4 minutes.  Flip, close lid and cook 4 more minutes.  Remove from grill, cover with foil and let rest 5-10 minutes.  When ready to serve, remove skin and coarsely break up fish for the taco filling.  Sprinkle with a little more salt.

An easy way to warm up a stack of tortillas is to wrap them in a damp paper towel and microwave for 20-30 seconds.  Remove them, carefully unwrap them (steam may be hot!) shuffle the stack a bit, re-wrap & heat for 15 more seconds.  They will keep warm for awhile wrapped in aluminum foil.

To assemble, fill corn tortillas with a little fish, a bit of white sauce and a generous spoonful of salsa.  A little squeeze of lime and a couple dashes of Cholula (or whatevs you like) and you are good to go!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

watermelon & heirloom tomato gazpacho

Ok, it's officially official: we have undeniably entered into the dog days of summer here in LA.  And it is hot.  

This cool, refreshing summer gazpacho is your antidote to the heat.  It combines all the best foods of summer into a cold, crunchy, slightly sweet, slightly spicy little mixture.  It is incredibly light & super's all fresh fruits & veggies

I made a batch and have been having a bowl here & there, cold outta the fridge, for a snack & lunch over the last couple has been the perfect thing to eat when it just seems too hot & too much effort to make anything else. Feel free to adjust the spice level - you can omit or bump up the heat factor to your liking (I, of course, added Sriracha to mine at the end...I'm addicted).

serves 6

5 c. seedless watermelon: 4 c. roughly chopped + 1 c. diced seedless watermelon
3 heirloom tomatoes: 2 roughly chopped + 1 diced heirloom tomato
2 green onions - whites & greens finely chopped
zest & juice of 2 limes
3 T. chopped cilantro
2 diced Persian cucumbers
1 c. diced jicama
2 t. minced jalapeño
1 T. Cholula
1 T. olive oil
2 t. kosher salt
fresh ground pepper, to taste
1/4 c. sheep’s milk Feta cheese (optional)

Combine 4 c. roughly chopped watermelon and 2 roughly chopped heirloom tomatoes in a blender.  Blend on high until smooth.  Pour into a large glass bowl.

Add the remaining 1 c. diced watermelon, diced heirloom tomato, green onions, lime juice & zest, cilantro, cucumber, jicama, jalapeño, Cholula, olive oil, and salt & pepper.  Stir well to combine.

Cover & place in refrigerator.  Allow flavors combine at least 2 hours, up to overnight.

To serve, garnish with a sprinkle of crumbled Feta, if desired.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Butter lettuce salad with chicken, pickled currants, feta and croutons

Who doesn't love a big salad for dinner in the summer?  Big salads are one of may favorite thangs - you feel good about eating them and there are endless combinations of deliciousness.

This one is a keeper of a recipe - it's completely dinner-time satisfying with the grilled chicken and homemade croutons (I mean...homemade croutons make everything pretty amazing) and has a nice, tangy zing with the pickled currants & feta.  And I highly recommend the homemade dressing.  It takes literally minutes to make and takes your salads to a whole, new level (this one goes on ANY salad you give it).

Stay cool out there, people!!

Serves 4

pickled currants:
1/2 c. water
1 T. sugar
1/4 c white wine vinegar
1/2 c. dried currants

1 medium shallot - minced
2 t. Dijon mustard
1/4 c. white wine vinegar
pinch of kosher salt & fresh ground pepper
1/4 c. olive oil

homemade croutons:
1/2 pound firm bread - ripped into 1-1 1/2 in pieces (about 6 cups)
3 T. olive oil
fleur de sel

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 T. olive oil
2 t. dried herbs de Provence
kosher salt & fresh ground pepper

1 head butter lettuce - torn into bite size pieces
2 handfuls arugula
1/2 c. crumbled sheep’s milk feta
1/2 c. basil leaves, roughly torn

Combine water, sugar, white wine vinegar & dried currants in a small pan.  Bring to a boil.  Turn heat to low and simmer 5 minutes.  Turn off heat and allow currants to cool to room temperature in their liquid.  Drain liquid before serving.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Toss bread with olive oil and place in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet.  Sprinkle lightly with flour de sel.  Bake about 20 minutes, stirring halfway through, until crisp & browned.  Remove and let cool.

Combine shallot, Dijon, white wine vinegar and salt & pepper in a small bowl.  Wisk to combine. Add olive oil in a slow steady stream, whisking constantly, until combined.

Preheat grill for 10 minutes on medium-high heat.  Slice chicken breasts in half horizontally to create two thinner pieces (these cook quicker and more evenly and won’t dry out).  Coat the 4 chicken pieces with olive oil.  Season with salt & pepper and herbs de Provence.  

Grill chicken until just cooked through and an instant read thermometer reads 160 degrees - about 3 minutes per side (they cook really fast when they are this thin!).  Remove from grill, cover with foil and let rest for 10 minutes.  Dice chicken.

In a large bowl, combine butter lettuce, arugula, pickled currants, croutons, feta, basil and diced chicken.  Toss with dressing and serve.