Cal-Mex Avocado and Egg Salad #SundaySupper

Avocado Egg Pinterest

Avocado Egg Salad - 11

This week’s Sunday Supper features a wealth of recipes for your Easter or Passover Leftovers.  A big shout-out to Liz, of That Skinny Chick Can Bake for hosting!  On that note, if you happen to find yourself with an excess of hard-boiled eggs today, the rest of this week, or ever, I’ve got just the recipe for you! If you are a regular at eating in instead, you know that I am not a fan of mayo. Like never. Not even aioli. I make my potato salads without mayo. I make my tuna salads without mayo. And, you guessed it, now I make my egg salads without mayo too!

So how do I get the creaminess into my egg salad? Well, with avocados and plain yogurt! For some time now, I’ve been adding a dollop of plain yogurt to my avocado smash to give it just a little tang. And lately, my go-to lunch is an avocado smash with a dash of cumin, spread on some crusty bread with a few slices of hard-boiled egg on top.   Then, as I was munching on this lunch last week, and brainstorming ideas for this week’s Sunday Supper theme – Easter and Passover Leftovers – I realized that I had a great start to a recipe sitting there on my plate!

Avocado Egg Salad - 03

Naturally, I decided to use my husbandy as a my taste tester for this CalMex Avocado and Egg Salad. (He’s actually always my taste tester, whether he knows it or not.) I made a few tweaks to get the flavors to meld together, but the cumin and chili powder in this really brings out the “Cal-Mex” flavors. I think this is about to become my new favorite lunch. And for those of you with a glut of hard-boiled eggs, I hope it becomes yours too! I’ve been loving this with some crusty bread, but I bet it would also be great as a wrap or even as a dip with a few tortilla chips!

Avocado Egg Salad - 25

 

CalMex Avocado and Egg Salad #SundaySupper
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
This mayo-free egg salad gets its creaminess from avocados and plain yogurt, and brings a new Cal-Mex kick to traditional egg salad.
Author:
Recipe type: Salad
Serves: 4-6 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 dozen hard-boiled eggs
  • 2 ripe avocados
  • ½ small red onion, minced
  • 1 small hot pepper
  • ½ cup plain yogurt, preferably Greek yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • ¼ cup freshly chopped cilantro
Instructions
  1. Peel the hard-boiled eggs, give them a rough chop and place into a large bowl.
  2. Halve the avocados, remove the pits, scoop out the flesh, and add it to the eggs.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and spices into the bowl, and combine with a large fork; slightly mashing the avocado while mixing in the other ingredients.
  4. Serve immediately. So easy. So yum!

Got more Easter or Passover leftovers that need re-purposing?  Check out the rest of these great ideas from the Sunday Supper Family!
Appetizers

Breakfast and Brunch

Main Dishes

Soups and Salads

Desserts

Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board.

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

Broccoli Calzones for #SundaySupper

Broccoli Calzones

It’s Oscar time! I’m not a big movie buff, so I’m not big into watching the show, but I do love a great Oscar viewing party with nibbles and fancy cocktails. I love any reason to gather around for hours of eating and drinking with television as background noise (e.g. the Super Bowl, award shows, pageant parties, and er, election results?) Today the #SundaySupper family is sharing recipes to get you through tonight’s parade of glamour, clips, speeches, song, sparkle, and dance. Thanks also to Katie of Ruffles and Truffles for hosting this fancy collection of recipes (and, btw, did you see the Sunday Supper video on DIY sparkle vases?!?).

I find myself back in the US once or twice a year and this means I’ve seen exactly ONE of the movies on the nominees list, The Grand Budapest Hotel. So, I guess I’m rooting for that? I haven’t even heard of any of the other films on any nominee list in any category except American Sniper. Boy, do I feel like I’m living under a rock when it comes to American pop culture. And, since the awards show starts at midnight GMT, I won’t be catching any of the show either, well at least not live. Tear.

Pizza Dough WellPizza DoughBroccoli FillingFilling Calzone

Viewing party or not, I think you should give these Broccoli Calzones a try. They are a little heftier than other bite-sized snacks, but the veggie based filling means that you’ll still have stomach space to nibble on your favorite apps and desserts throughout the show.   Or, if you are like me, portable pocket foods are perfect for munching on the couch – with my foodie magazines, which is exactly where I’ll be Sunday night before the #SundaySupper twitter chat!

Broccoli Calzone

What are you nibbling or sipping tonight?

Broccoli Calzones
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
These broccoli calzones pack a veggie punch in a portable pocket. These are freezer friendly too! After baking, just let them cool completely and individually wrap in plastic wrap. Re-heat at 300F.
Author:
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • For the homemade dough: (or use store bought pizza dough)
  • 3 ½ - 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 2 ½ teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 ½ cups warm water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus a little more for greasing the bowl
  • For the filling:
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3-4 small Marguez sausages, chopped (optional)
  • 1 medium sized head of broccoli
  • ½ teaspoon dried basil
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ cup shredded mozzarella
  • ½ cup tomato sauce
Instructions
  1. Make the dough:
  2. In a small bowl, combine the yeast, water, sugar, and two tablespoons olive oil. Stir gently to dissolve the yeast and set aside.
  3. In large bowl, combine the flour and salt.
  4. Make a well in the flour (keeping the flour in the bowl) and once the yeast is starting to foam, pour the liquid into the well. Using a fork or butter knife, slowly incorporate the flour by circular motion to swirl the flour into the liquid.
  5. Once the flour is incorporated and the dough comes together, flour your hands and knead the dough until it is smooth and springy. (Tip: most recipes tell you to turn the dough onto a floured surface, but select a large enough bowl, and you can knead the dough right in the bowl, to save yourself the extra clean up)
  6. Once the dough is smooth and firm, drizzle a little more olive oil on the dough to coat, on all sides, the cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm, draft-free location to let the dough rise for 1-2 hours, until the dough doubles in size.
    Meanwhile, make the filling:
  7. Chop the broccoli into small pieces. I like keeping and chopping the stems to add some extra crunch.
  8. In a medium skillet or frying pan, heat olive oil over medium heat.
  9. Add the onions, sausages, and garlic and cook for 5-7 minutes until the onions are soft and the sausages are cooked though.
  10. Transfer the onions and sausages to a bowl, then add the broccoli and spices. Mix well.
    Make the calzones:
  11. Pre-heat oven to 450F
  12. Once the dough has risen, turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface, knead gently, and divide the dough into four equal parts.
  13. Divide each quarter into two pieces so you are working with an ⅛ of the dough at a time, keeping the remaining dough covered with a clean kitchen towel.
  14. Press the dough into a small disc, then roll out the dough from the center toward the edges into a circular shape about 6-7 inches in diameter.
  15. Spoon a small amount of tomato sauce into the center of the dough, top with a few spoons of the filling, and sprinkle over with a few pinches of mozzarella. Make sure to leave a border near the edge of the dough.
  16. Fold the dough over the filling to make a semi-circle and press down the edges. I like to add a little water to the border before pressing the edges down to create a nice seal.
  17. Gently slice a few steam vents on the top of the calzone.
  18. Place the calzone on a parchment lined baking sheet. If you like a nice golden calzone, brush the tops with a little olive oil or melted butter (I usually skip this step because I’m getting hungry!)
  19. Repeat with the remaining 7 pieces of dough to create 8 calzones.
  20. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the calzones are golden and browned on the edges.
  21. Let the calzones cool for 8-10 minutes before serving so the piping hot center has time to come to an edible temperature!

 

Nominees for Best Supporting Appetizers:

Nominees for Best Course in a Leading Role:

Nominees for Best Supporting Sips:

Nominees for Best Delectable Desserts:

Nominees for Best Dressed Table:

Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board.

Cheese-Filled Apple Rounds #SundaySupper

Stuffed Apple Rounds

I’ve never met a cheese I didn’t like.  That’s said, I’m always a little disappointed with cheese platters.  It’s like the cop out appetizer.  And you know what?  I cop out almost every time we have a dinner party.  I’m always concentrating on dinner and dessert so throwing some cheese on a platter with crackers seems excusable if I’m baking a pie from scratch, right?

Recently, I’ve been on a hunt for more interesting and but quick appetizers.  Then, as I was sipping my wine and snacking on an apple with cheddar cheese cubes the other day, I had one of those recipe ah-ha moments.  Apples and cheese!  Duh.  In a moment of inspiration, I decided to make two versions of these apple cheese rounds, one with a blue cheese filling and another with a cheddar cheese white wine filling.  I haven’t served this for an appetizer yet but it’s a perfect snack and I think it would look wonderful on a large platter. I’m planning to put these out for a small Labor Day picnic tomorrow. The fillings are super easy to make, but coring and filling the apples was a little messier than I anticipated.  Messiness aside, the combination of fresh apples and cheese is a neat little twist from the regular cheese and crackers.    And if you have kiddos around, fill a few of those apples with peanut butter and honey or some Nutella and you’ve got snacks and appetizers for everyone!

CHEESE FILLED APPLE ROUNDS

8-10 small apples, preferably gala or fuji

For the blue cheese filling:
4 oz. cream cheese
½ cup sour cream
½ cup blue cheese crumbles
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
freshly ground black pepper

For the cheddar cheese white wine filling: (adapted from Bon Appetit)
4 oz. cream cheese
½ cup sour cream
2/3 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
¼ cup white wine
½ teaspoon paprika
freshly ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS

For the blue cheese filling:  In a small bowl, mix all of the ingredients together for the blue cheese filling.  I did this with a small spoon, because I like having the blue cheese chunks, but if you prefer a smoother filling, you can do this in a food processor.

Blue Cheese Filling

For the cheddar cheese white wine filling:  In a small bowl, mix together all of the ingredients for the cheddar cheese filling with a spoon or in the food processor.

Cover and refrigerate both fillings.  This is important because the apples will be easier to stuff if the cheese filling is cold.  In the meantime, core all of the apples.  It’s easiest to do this with an apple corer, but I don’t have one.  So, if you are like me and don’t have an apple corer here’s a tip for coring an apple with a small knife.

  1. Cut the apple in half.
    Stuffed Apple Rounds
  2. Using a knife, carefully cut in a circle around the core, keeping the knife slightly angled inward.
    Stuffed Apple Rounds
  3. Gently push the core out.  If the core won’t come out, keep re-tracing the circle with the knife.

Now you are ready to stuff the apples!  Using a small spoon, fill the center of the halved apples with the cheese fillings.  It’s ok if the cheese gets a little messy, you can always wipe the outside of the apple when you are done.  Once the apple halves are all stuffed, store them in the fridge until you are ready to serve them.

Stuffed Apple Rounds

Just before serving, take the apples out of the fridge and slice them into discs to serve.  If you are plating this on a platter, brush the apple slices with a little fresh lemon juice to slow the oxidation of the apples.

Stuffed Apple Rounds

Looking for more great ideas for finger foods and tantalizing trays?  Just take a look at all the great ideas from the Sunday Supper Group!

Savory Bites:

Sweet Treats:

Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board.

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement

Anytime Bars – Snack All You Want!

DSC_1464

I love snacking.  The problem is, most of the snacks I love are not healthy.  My favorite snacks are often high in sugar or high in sodium, and they are often carbohydrate heavy with few nutrients.  This creates a dilemma because I try hard not to have too many empty calories in my diet so I can save my empty calories for wine.  This means I’m always on the hunt for healthy, make-at-home, snacks.

My quest for healthy cooking and healthy snacks is underscored by the fact that I’m in Florida with my mother and her fiancé while my mom undergoes chemotherapy treatments.  My mother was diagnosed with stage III breast cancer late last year.  She’s been toughing out her treatments, but her appetite is next to nothing.  It’s difficult to feel so helpless when a loved one is feeling so sick.  Of course, because cooking helps me de-stress and because we are trying to keep healthy foods on hand for my mom, I recently purchased The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen: Nourishing, Big-Flavor Recipes for Cancer Treatment and Recovery, by Rebecca Katz.

The book is phenomenal.  For those who are caretakers, or even those who just want to integrate a healthier diet into their everyday lifestyle, the book offers wonderful insights on natural ingredients, spices, and delicious recipes focused on a plant based diet.  Indeed, we’ve been living off of recipes or ideas from the book.

One thing I’ve learned is that when my mom is in the mood to eat, we seize the moment.  In this spirit, and in my own selfish desires to have healthy snacks on hand, I made these Anytime Bars from the cookbook.  The ingredient list might have you hunting a little bit, but your local natural or health food store should have spelt flour and ground flax seed if your regular grocery store doesn’t.  The original recipe calls for dates and apricots, but we didn’t have any on hand, so I made these with dried blue berries and cranberries.  I also substituted with whole-wheat flour rather than unbleached all purpose flour.  I hate to admit it, but I’ve eaten more of these than my mom has, but we keep them around just in case she has the urge to snack.  These are truly great anytime, and I’d venture to guess that even those who claim not to love nuts, might fall for these.

ANYTIME BARS (adapted from The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen: Nourishing, Big-Flavor Recipes for Cancer Treatment and Recovery)

1 cup raw pecans
1 cup raw almonds
2 tablespoons spelt flour
2 tablespoons whole-wheat flour
2 tablespoons ground flax seed
¼ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
¼ cup rolled oats
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup dried blueberries
1 egg
5 tablespoons maple syrup (you can substitute with honey or agave nectar)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS

Pre-heat oven 350F.  Lightly oil a 9 x 9 in. or 10 x 6 in. pan, set aside.

Spread the pecans and almonds on a single layer over a baking sheet and toast for 8 to 10 minutes in the oven.  Take care not to burn the nuts and keep and eye on them.

Turn down the oven to 325F after the nuts are toasted.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine, the spelt flour, whole-wheat flour, ground flax, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and process for 5 seconds.  Add the toasted pecans and almonds to the food processor and pulse 5 times.  Add the oats and dried fruit, then pulse for another 12-15 times until the mixture is coarse and combined.

DSC_1435DSC_1440

DSC_1445DSC_1451

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together egg, maple syrup, and vanilla.  Add the fruit and nut mixture to the large bowl and combine with a rubber spatula.  Use clean hands to mix and break up any clumps.  Spread the mixture into the greased baking pan and press into the pan evenly.

DSC_1459

Bake for 25 minutes until toasted and golden brown, taking care not to over bake.  Let the pan cool on a wire rack, then cut into bars or squares.  Snack away!

DSC_1470

Sweet Onion Dip

Sweet Onion Dip

Fall is in full swing and in the US that means it’s American football season.  College football, pro football, to me it doesn’t matter.  I care about the snacks.  Game watching snacks.  The problem with these snacks is that most of them are processed, high in sodium, and junky.  Now, I’m a girl who can’t walk away from a bowl of Doritos and I enjoy my junk food every now and then.  But if you’ve experienced the American football phenomena, then you know that some guys and gals are parked in front of the TV for the entire weekend, for hours, watching “the game” and snacking on chips, dips, wings, and other game day munchies.

Although I’m headed back to Rabat in a week, where there will be no game watching, I did get a chance to whip up this homemade onion dip a couple weeks ago and it is a great snack for football watching.  I got this recipe from Martha Stewart and it caught my attention because it uses reduced fat cream cheese, reduced fat sour cream and leaves out the mayonnaise, while still scoring a 4 star rating!  The dip was delicious and super easy to make.  The hardest part was waiting for the onions to brown because they smelled so good. The Vidalia onions are sweet and subtle, while the cream cheese and sour cream give this the creaminess of a traditional rich onion dip.  This is hands down better than any onion dip that requires peeling back the tin or plastic wrap from the store.  I served this with potato chips and crudité for those that wanted to keep it on the healthier side.

What is your favorite snack for football season?

Sweet Onion Dip

[purerecipe]

All Around White Bean Dip

 

All Around White Bean Dip We’re back from vacation and I must be 10 pounds heavier.  We don’t have a scale, so I can’t really be sure, but after all the pasta, cured meat, cheese, wine, and gelato I’ve consumed, I don’t need a scale.  I need to work out.  While I’d like to say that I’m ready to get back to a normal, healthier diet, the truth is, I just want more pasta and pizza.  Refined carbs.  That’s what I want.  They are so evil that way.  Then again, my pants feel tight so I know I need to strike a balance. In times like these, I try to stick to a protein heavy breakfast (oatmeal with peanut butter and bananas), a light lunch, and a vegetarian dinner.  The oatmeal and peanut butter for breakfast helps to stave off of my carb cravings.  I also try to make easy meals, otherwise, it’s too tempting to boil some water and let the pasta take me over. This white bean dip is one of my tried and true recipes.  I use it as an appetizer for dinner parties, a side dish at cookouts, and on days like today, this dip with few crackers (ok some carbs) and a salad makes lunch.  The quick and easy version uses canned beans.  I think I cobbled this together from a combination of white bean dip recipes I’ve collected from Ina, Giada, and a few others.  It works well warm, room temp, or cold.  In the past, I’ve also added spinach and artichokes to it for a different spin, but I prefer the simple, classic recipe that follows.  I promise, it’s healthier and tastier than any of the dips being sold at the local grocery store.  Try it.  If you have an immersion blender or food processor, you have no excuse not to! White Bean Dip
All Around White Bean Dip
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 15 oz. can white beans, drained and rinsed (cannellini or navy beans will work)
  • 1 clove fresh garlic
  • 3-4 tablespoons olive oil, plus a little more for drizzling
  • 1 lemon (you’ll need at least 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice and some zest)
  • ¼ cup roughly chopped fresh parsley (use whatever fresh herbs you’d like, rosemary, basil, mint and dill all work well!)
  • pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. In a medium to large bowl or the bowl of a food processor, add the beans, garlic, oil, 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice, herbs, red pepper flakes and salt.
  2. Puree the ingredients with a food processor or immersion blender. This might take a few minutes, and you’ll have to stop it occasionally to scrape the bowl with a rubber spatula.
  3. Taste it and add lemon, salt, and/or pepper to taste. If the dip is too thick, add lemon juice or olive oil.
  4. Zest the lemon with a micro-plane grater until you have about 1 teaspoon of zest.
  5. Once the puree is smooth, spoon into a serving bowl, drizzle over with olive oil and sprinkle the top with salt, pepper and lemon zest.
  6. Garnish with fresh herbs and serve!

 

Keeping it quick and simple: Orzo Salad with Chickpeas

Orzo Salad with Chickpeas, Tomatoes and Corn

Our move is just over a week away and this means life is really hectic.  These days it feels like every time I check something off of my to-do list, two more things get added.  This, plus the fact that most of my cookware is now packed, means meals at home are simple and quick.  In addition to simple, simple, simple, I’m doing best to finish up whatever we’ve got left in our pantry.   This week, I made a basic orzo salad for lunch (and dinner) and was able to use up the corn, chickpeas and olives that were in our stock.  The meal was satisfying and took less than 20 minutes to put together.  A quick bite and I was back at the boxes.

I am really looking forward to our move and all the great new ingredients I’ll get to try out in Rabat.  I think this probably means that eating in instead is going to take on a whole new flavor!  Have you been to Morocco before?  What do you recommend I try?  What ingredients should I pick up during my first trip to the market?

ORZO SALAD WITH CHICKPEAS, TOMATOES AND FETA

INGREDIENTS
1 cup orzo (I used whole wheat orzo)
1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
¼ cup finely chopped red onion
2 tablespoons of olives, pitted and roughly chopped
1 15 oz. can of chickpeas/garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 11 oz. can of corn, drained and rinsed (If you have fresh corn, grilled fresh corn is definitely preferable!  Cut the kernels off of 2 ears of corn, and char with 1 teaspoon olive oil for about 10 minutes in a cast iron skillet)
½ cup freshly chopped parsley (adding some mint wouldn’t hurt either!)
¼ cup red wine vinegar
juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon honey
¼ cup olive oil
1/8 cup crumbled feta cheese
salt and pepper

DIRECTIONS

Cook Orzo according to instructions on the box and allow the orzo to cool completely.  Meanwhile prep the other ingredients.  In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, honey, lemon juice and olive oil, then set aside.

Once the orzo is cool, in a large bowl, toss the orzo with the tomatoes, onion, olives, corn and parsley together with the dressing.   Add salt and pepper to taste, then sprinkle the crumbled feta on top before serving.

Getting ready to prep the salad!Orzo Salad with Chickpeas, Tomatoes and Corn

 

 

 

 

 

 

Duck Fried Rice with Brussels Sprouts

Duck Fried Rice

There are common misconceptions I faced growing up as a Taiwanese American. First, it’s that many people believe I’m “Chinese.” This isn’t a blog about politics, so I’ll let that one float out there (p.s. It’s not “Chinese Taipei” either). Second, other kids in elementary school believed I grew up exclusively on a diet of fried rice. This, as set forth below would be impossible, because in my family, fried rice relies on leftovers. We don’t just “make fried rice” for dinner. We make it because we have to–and we never serve it to guests.

Fried rice is the topic of today’s post. Truth be told, I didn’t eat a lot of fried rice when I was growing up. I NEVER ate it in restaurants. I still don’t. This is because my mom indoctrinated me with the notion that fried rice was “always” made with day old leftovers. Take leftover rice, leftover veggies, and whatever hodgepodge that “needs to be eaten” and throw it together. Not exactly a description of what you are expecting when you step into a restaurant. On the other hand, my mom made great fried rice. Because of my mom’s concoctions, in my mind, there are two types of fried rice. With ketchup and without. In my opinion, both are delicious, but ketchup is better. The ketchup adds a sweetness and depth of flavor that helps to pull all of the components of fried rice together. It mellows out overpowering flavors and brings the best out of the more subtle ingredients. Trust me, you aren’t getting this at your local Chinese restaurant unless you know the owner. Even then, peer behind the counter and look for a bottle of ketchup.

When I started cooking for myself in my first tiny one-bedroom apartment, I asked my mom how to make fried rice. True to her style, she was at a loss for a concrete recipe. It went something like: “Just stir fry some vegetables, add old rice, ketchup, salt and pepper. Oh, you like peas, so you can add some frozen peas too.” (Mom, don’t deny that you do this all the time when people ask you for recipes.) I’ll admit that when it comes to fried rice, I do subscribe (or at least I’ve been brainwashed by) my mom’s philosophies. It is the perfect dish for leftovers, especially leftover rice. And, because it is so reliant on leftovers, it is hard to articulate a recipe. What you put into it is so dependent on what you have on hand. So, a few weeks ago, when my mom and sister were in town we gorged ourselves on some pretty delicious dim sum. With our eyes bigger than our stomachs, we brought home about 1/4 of a roasted duck. They left, and with the duck in my fridge as inspiration, it was time to cobble together some fried rice.

What do you like to add in your version of fried rice? Is there an ingredient you wish you could incorporate?

DUCK FRIED RICE

INGREDIENTS
1 tablespoon olive oil or vegetable oil
1 small onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 bell pepper, chopped (any color, use whatever you have)
10-12 Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
1 cup frozen peas (yes, my mom was right, I like peas in my fried rice)
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1 teaspoon Sriracha sauce, or more to taste (optional)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/4 roasted duck, with bones and skin (you can use almost ANY protein, tofu, chicken, beef, etc. Leftover stir-fry or Chinese take out is the perfect starter for fried rice! You can also use scrambled eggs, leave a comment if you want to know how to use eggs as a protein base)
about 1 cup of day old rice (Brown rice is fine, but whatever you do, make sure it is a day old. Freshly cooked rice doesn’t work)
2 tablespoons Heinz Ketchup
salt
pepper
2 stalks fresh scallions, chopped

DIRECTIONS

In a large frying pan or wok, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook for 2 minutes, then add garlic, peppers and Brussels sprouts. Stir and cook for 4-5 minutes until the peppers and sprouts are beginning to soften. Add frozen peas, sesame seeds, Sriracha sauce and soy sauce. Stir together. Cook for another 2-3 minutes, allowing the peas to thaw and the sauce to thicken just slightly. Remove the veggies from the heat and place into a large bowl. Set aside.

Saute the veggies

 

Veggies for the Rice

In the same pan, heat the duck over medium-high heat and begin to render some of the fat. If you are using a leaner protein, you may need to add some oil to the pan.

Rewarming Duck and Rendering Fat

Once the duck fat begins to render, but not splatter (about 2 minutes) add the rice and keep it over medium-high heat. There is an irresistible temptation to stir the rice. WALK AWAY. Let the rice sit in the duck fat, over medium-high heat for at least 2-3 minutes. This will allow some of the rice to toast and develop a nice crispy crunch.

Adding Brown Rice to Duck

Add the veggies with the sauce and stir to coat the rice. Add the ketchup. Stir to coat. When all the ingredients are re-warmed and the dish is heated through, turn off the heat. Salt and pepper to taste, top with fresh scallions and serve immediately.

Duck Fried Rice

Strawberry Mango Yogurt Pops

Strawberry Mango Yogurt Pops

I think a love for ice cream runs in my family. My mom, sister, and I are suckers for ice cream, but as we all know, the real stuff is high in fat and high in sugar. So, for an everyday treat, I try to stick with sorbet or frozen yogurt as a healthier alternative. Recently, to get myself in the mood for warmer weather, I made some yogurt pops to enjoy instead of reaching for ice cream.

These yogurt pops are easy to make and healthy. I don’t have Popsicle molds, but I used silicone baking cups and wooden stirrers (toothpicks would work too) to make these pops. The silicone banking cups work really well because they stand up to the freezer and are easy to peel off of the pops one they are frozen. I used a blender to make these pops, but you can also use a food processor or immersion blender. I made these with mangos and strawberries, but you really can use any fruit you like. Personally, I’d like to try this with some honeydew melon the next time I make it.

STRAWBERRY MANGO YOGURT POPS

Fresh Strawberries and Mangos

INGREDIENTS
2 cups plain or vanilla yogurt, divided (I used non-fat Greek yogurt)
1-1 1/2 cups (about 1 medium mango) fresh mango, cut into large chunks
1 cup fresh strawberries, sliced
2 or more tablespoons honey or agave nectar, more may be needed depending on the sweetness of the fruit and your taste preferences
1/4 cup milk, divided (any kind will do, use whatever you prefer)

DIRECTIONS

In a blender, combine the mango, 1 cup of yogurt, 1 tablespoon of honey, and 1/8 cup of milk. Taste and add more honey or agave nectar to taste. Taste! The sweetness is not an exact science and is totally dependent on the sweetness of the fruit and whether you use plain or vanilla yogurt.

Pour the mango yogurt into silicone baking cups, filling each cup to about 1/3 full. Place in freezer for about 15 minutes.

Mango yogurt

Meanwhile, rinse out the blender and blend the strawberries, remaining 1 cup of yogurt, 1/8 cup milk, and honey or agave to taste. Again, taste this and add more honey or agave to your preferences.

Strawberry Yogurt

Remove the cups with mango yogurt from the freezer. Place a toothpick or wooden stirrer into the middle of one of the cups. The yogurt should be set enough to hold a toothpick or wooden stirrer vertically. If it does not hold the stick, freeze for another 5-10 minutes. Then, carefully pour the strawberry yogurt on top of the mango layer. Place a toothpick or wooden stirrer in the center of the remaining yogurt cups.

Strawberry Mango Yogurt Pops

Freeze overnight. One the pops are set, remove from the silicone cups and enjoy!

Strawberry Mango Yogurt Pops

Baking for House Guests: Banana Cake with Cognac Raisins (aka Monkey Bars)

Monkey Bars

I’ve had house guests in town the last two weekends which means I’ve fallen a little behind in getting new recipes posted.  When we have friends or family staying with us, I like to bake up a few items that work well for a breakfast or a mid-day snack so our guests have something homemade to nibble on.  Personally, I find that being forced to eat out every meal of the day can be tiring, expensive, and unhealthy when I’m away from home.  And, while it is always nice to stay with friends and family, access to the kitchen can feel like an imposition in someone else’s home.  I try to make guests feel welcome in our kitchen (even if it is tiny!) and if I can get my act together, providing some baked goods helps to create a warm welcome.

Last week, I made these banana cake bars to welcome our guests.  These are not as dense as a traditional banana bread and I baked them in an 8 x 8 pan before cutting them into squares for breakfast or a snack on the go.  I used Cooking Light’s recipe for Monkey Bars as a starting point, but I made a few modifications based on the ingredients I had on hand.  First, I used ½ whole wheat and ½ white flour.  Second, I didn’t have rum or apple juice, so I soaked the raisins in some cognac instead.  Third, because I was out of brown sugar, I used 1 tablespoon of black strap molasses and only ½ cup granulated sugar instead of the ¾ cup of brown sugar called for by Cooking Light.  Next, I doubled the bananas because I had two that really needed to be used, and I substituted non-fat Greek yogurt for the buttermilk.  Finally, I skipped the walnuts in favor of white chocolate chips since I was trying to finish up a ½ bag of white chocolate chips.

These bars came out really nicely and the house smelled wonderful.  They were light enough as a nice breakfast cake or a midnight snack.  The bars were very moist and full of banana flavor.  This recipe is a great way to use up ripened bananas too!

What is your favorite way to use ripened bananas?

BANANA CAKE WITH COGNAC RAISINS (adapted from COOKING LIGHT’S MONKEY BARS)

INGREDIENTS

½ cup raisins
1 ½ tablespoons dark rum, cognac, or apple juice
½ cup whole wheat flour
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon molasses (I used black strap molasses)
½ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup butter, softened
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 2 large bananas)
3 tablespoons Greek yogurt or buttermilk (non-fat or low-fat are perfectly fine)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg whites
½ cup white chocolate chips
olive oil or butter for greasing the pan

DIRECTIONS

Pre-heat oven to 350F.  Lightly grease and flour an 8 x 8 baking pan, set aside.

In a small bowl, add raisins and liquor or juice.  Microwave the raisins for 1 minute then, set aside.  In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, set this aside too.

Raisins soaking in Cognac

In a large bowl, add the molasses and sugar and beat on medium speed until well combined.  Add the butter and beat with sugar on medium until light, fluffy, and well-blended, about 4 minutes.

Molasses, sugar and butter

Next add the banana and the egg whites and continue to beat on medium speed for another 2 minutes, making sure the ingredients are all incorporated.  Add the flour mixture and beat on medium-low, until just combined, then stir in the raisins and white chocolate chips.

Mashed BananasAdding the bananas.

Spread the batter into the baking pan.  Bake for about 30 minutes at 350F or until the top is golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool on a wire rack before cutting and serving.

Ready for the oven!Monkey Bars