unwrap health and happiness

After the whirlwind I like to call the Holiday season, it’s wonderful to be nestled in and take the time to plan out a home cooked meal.  For those of us still in the spirit of gift giving (like me), why not give the gift of delicious food, particularly food that’s wrapped in parchment. Some recipients might not realize, but for me the best gift I can give is food.  Food is a source of nourishment for everyone, so why not make something that’s a necessity something special?

With the usual New Year resolutions of losing weight, especially now that I have a bathing suit deadline for March, I’m making every effort to eat healthier and treat my body right.  One very late night, my creativity stirred me from my sleep and I drew out the following recipe for a delicate white fish in papillote.

Halibut en Papillote

Ingredients

  • 1/2 red onion, julienned
  • 1 zucchini, julienned
  • 1 carrot, julienned
  • 1 large clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb of halibut (or other white fish) portioned into 4 filets
  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced
  • 4 pats of butter
  • Fresh thyme
  • 1/2 Cup of dry white wine (I use Sauvignon blanc because that’s what I have in my fridge for drinking)
  • S&P to taste
Directions
  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Julienne your vegetables! If you’re lucky and have the best sister in the world, you can use your new beautiful ceramic knife that cuts anything like butter — BUTTER people!
  3. In a small bowl, combine the julienned veggies, minced garlic, olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Salt and pepper the filet of fish.
  5. Place the fish, 1/4 of your veggie mixture, two slices of lemon, two sprigs of thyme, a pat of butter, and 1 Tbsp of wine on a large piece of square parchment. (*I wish I could artfully photograph how to properly fold a papillote, but I’ll leave that to Cook Think.  I’m no pro.  I mean, I cheated and stapled at the end of my crimping.  I can practically hear the French culinary masters cringing.)
  6. Place the four packages on a baking sheet and cook for 10-12 minutes depending on the thickness of your fish.
  7. Unwrap and serve over brown rice, including all of the wonderful juices left behind!


The pat of butter snuck its way into my first healthy eating post! Forgive me!

One thing to note about this recipe is that the vegetables still have some bite to them after their time in the oven.  If you’re interested in baby food, I’d throw them onto a sauté pan for a few minutes before placing them in your parchment parcel.

Also, I’ve recently discovered Sous Style, brought to you by the ever talented Pippa Lord (Photo Director for Elle magazine).  The blog covers fashion and food, two of my biggest interests.  Plus, the Male Mondays posts (like this one) are a fun way to start your week.  You can thank me later.

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Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas, friends!  I hope you all enjoyed a filling and festive meal with your families and friends. If you’re in my family, you make sure to grab the mashed sweet potatoes with sliced apples lest you miss your chance at the apples! You then proceed to talk loudly, laugh a whole bunch, and take in the family time you so desperately needed.


You clean your plate too… but not before snapping a picture.

I’ve already received cookbooks galore this Christmas, so prepare for fun foods in 2012. Enjoy the rest of 2011 everyone. Cheers!

Say Cheese

I’m a bit of a mouse.  When I was a child, one of my favorite snacks was American cheese slices, which as a grew older matured to heavy hitters like gorgonzola, taleggio, and cashel.  There’s something magical about the taste and the way cheese can coat your mouth like velvet.  Now as an adult constantly trying to shed the extra five to ten pounds, I eat cheese in moderation, which makes cheese all the more appealing.

I considered myself fairly knowledgeable in the cheese department, so I was somewhat ashamed that it took me 25 years to place a creamy, dreamy piece of burrata (“buttered” in Italian) in my mouth.  Years ago, growing up on Lidia Bastianich’s Lidia’s Italy I spied this little treat.  She was in the Puglia region of Italy, cutting into a piece of solid mozzarella with overflowing ribbons of fresh curd and cream.  Cue your salivary glands.

A few weeks ago, the boy (aka Mr. Mouse) made his version of the first burrata caprese salad I’d tried at Alma Nove.  Something about making this treat at home made it taste better than any fancy restaurant’s version.  His version also tasted way better than the version I made a few nights ago.  Then again, when doesn’t food taste better when someone else makes it for you?

Tomato, Burrata Cheese, and Pistachio Salad

2 large plum tomatoes
fleur de sel
freshly ground black pepper
handful of torn fresh basil leaves for garnish
unsalted shelled pistachios, chopped
2 Tbsp of balsamic glaze
1 large round of burrata cheese

Cut tomatoes into slices and place on a large platter. Add the torn basil leaves and pistachios. Take the large burrata cheese round and cut into quarters. Place cheese in the center of the plate. Sprinkle with fleur de sel and pepper. Drizzle balsamic glaze over the salad. Garnish with additional basil leaves and serve.

Stuff your face and savor each and every calorie.  And remember kids, you’re doing it in the name of calcium!

citrus punch for our 100th post

Happy 100th post!  It’s been a while, but I’m still in the heart of my busy season.  Finding time to cook or even think about cooking has been replaced by excel spreadsheets and memos that are unfortunately not writing themselves.

The fact that Ray and I have been able to carve out pieces of our lives to blog about our shared passion is a success in itself. I’m so happy we’ve made it to 100. Let’s hear it for HUNDREDS more.

What better way to celebrate the big hundo than with my favorite? Citrus and cupcakes! Woot woot.

Key Lime Pie Cupcake Recipe

Makes 24 cupcakes.

1/2 C butter
1 C sugar
3 eggs
1 C milk
1 C flour
9 graham crackers
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp kosher salt
5 egg yolks
1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 C key lime juice (I cheated and just used regular limes because I have no patience to juice small limes — it’s like peeling a grape!)

Preheat oven to 350 Fahrenheit.

Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs, one at a time.  Mix completely before adding the next egg.

In an open storage bag, crumb your graham crackers with a rolling pin.  If you’re like me and like to release your stress and other other extreme emotion, grab a frying pan and whack the living daylights out of the bag.  Combine with flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

Add the dry ingredients in 3 batches, alternating with the milk and ending with the dry ingredients.   Mix until just combined.

In a separate bowl, mix the egg yolks, sweetened condensed milk, and lime juice. Pour the lime mixture into your batter and stir.  Make sure there is a clear difference between the graham batter and the lime mixture.  If you see graham batter clumps, then you’re good to go.

Fill cupcake liners 3/4s of the way and bake 20 minutes for full sized cupcakes, 10-12 minutes for mini cupcakes.  I did a mix of both because I was getting impatient and wanted to cook off all of my cupcakes in one load.

Cream Cheese Frosting

2 8oz packages of cream cheese (room temperature)
1 1/2 sticks butter (room temperature)
6 C powdered sugar (more or less depending on your sweet tooth level)
1 tsp lime juice

Cream together the cream cheese and butter with a hand mixer or stand mixer.  Add the powdered sugar slowly.  This will ensure a non-chalky frosting.  Add the lime and any food coloring you’d like.  I did one drop of yellow and two drops of green to match the limey color.

Wait for cupcakes to come to room temperature and frost.  Garnish with slices of lime and enjoy.

Thanks again everyone for the wonderful and continued support. Ray, I, and our humble blog truly appreciate it.

the great cookie off


Do I have your attention?

If you’re thinking what the hell is bacon doing in Katie’s great cookie off post, then you and I are not cut from the same cloth my friend.   In my world, bacon is always an honorary guest at any of my parties.

For anyone who knows me personally, you’ll know that I cook to decompress.  I’m also an accountant and it is now my busy season.  Let’s hear it for 9/30 year end businesses!  As a numbers girl, I would stereotypically throw myself into the zone of exact measurements and precise timing.  At the height of my busy season, my fellow auditors and I have decided to have a cookie off.  This time last year, we did a chili off and I managed to nab the win.  I’ll share that recipe once we’re in the heart of winter and I start craving warm, meaty chili.

This year, I decided to load an extra challenge on my plate, which was to bake gluten free.  One of our team members has celiac disease and can never enjoy any of my baked goods.  Boo urns.  I figured this was the perfect arena to showcase my potential science project.  Immediately, I was giving myself headaches about rice flour and xantham gum.  Enter, Joy the Baker.  Joy’s adapted recipe from The Gourmet Cookbook includes a simple flour free peanut butter cookie loaded up with bacon!  The bacon immediately grabbed my attention… as did the absence XANTHAM GUM!  Cue the hallelujah chorus.

This morning after my anticipatory trip to the gym, I immediately got my 6 slices of thick cut bacon into my skillet on medium heat until crispy.  Once done, I put them on a paper towel lined plate and waited until cool enough to handle before chopping.

In the meantime, I preheated my oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  I creamed together 1 cup of smooth peanut butter with 1 cup of half granulated sugar and half packed brown sugar in a large mixing bowl.  The brown sugar is so nice in this cookie because it gives a maple syrup like caramelization that pairs very nicely with the bacon.  After 2-3 minutes, I added 1 extra large egg and 1 tsp of baking soda.  Fold in bacon and roll the dough into walnut sized balls and place on parchment lined baking sheets.  Make criss crosses on the balls to flatten and in the oven they go.


Chop up your cooled bacon

The smush

10 minutes later, you’ll have golden brown, very tender cookies.  Allow to cool before you remove them from your baking sheet.  Eat one for quality control, then into my tupperware they went for tomorrow’s work day.

I also snuck in some salted chocolate chip cookies for the boy’s return tomorrow.  Will post about those and the results of the cookie off next time!