Summer Vibes & Chilled Soups…

 

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And another weekend comes to an end….sigh! We finished the weekend off right however, with drinks on the roof and dinner with a few close friends. This week we prepare to head down to Florida for our big 4th of July  gathering with my entire fam. Fingers crossed for great weather, happy flying, and  most importantly, a happy baby 🙂

Cold soups are a great summer dish. Not only can you make them super healthy with very few ingredients, but they are SO quick and easy to make. Some nights we prefer them as appetizers, but other nights, especially after fatty weekends, we prefer them as our entire meal  (I’d recommend with some bread and cheese on the side). We were in the mood for something fresh, so went with asparagus soup. We actually went into the store looking for white asparagus (which is AMAZING), but for over 10$/lb we went with the runner up, green asparagus instead LOL. Most importantly,  the real trick with cold soups is serving them SUPER cold, so we tend to stick the pot in the freezer for a few hours, because the refrigerator never gets cold enough.

Green Asparagus Chilled Soup

Ingredients: serves 4-6
  • 2 lbs Asparagus (chopped, keeps heads for garnish)
  • 3 medium sized leaks (sliced)
  • 1 medium yellow onion (chopped)
  • 2 cloves garlic (sliced)
  • butter
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp each salt, pepper
  • 1 tsp each ground ginger, thyme
  • Chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp flour
Directions:
1) Heat 3 tbsp butter and 2 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Add asparagus, leaks, onion, garlic, and spices. Saute until leeks are soft, ~7 mins. Dust mixture with flour, saute for another ~2 mins.
2) Add chicken broth until veggies are just covered. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer ~10 mins.
3) Remove from heat and let cool for ~20 min. Using an immersion or regular blender, blend until smooth. Add additional salt to taste (soups generally require more salt than you’d at first expect, but only add salt once blended and slightly cooled, because this often brings out the flavors more than when it’s hot.) Put the soup in the fridge until cold (this takes a lot longer than you’d guess… in the fridge it may take 5-6 hours, in the freezer 2-3 hours). This soup is also really good hot… so it depends what you’re in the mood for!
4) Right before serving, toss the asparagus heads with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and quickly saute over high heat, until they’re just soft. Add to the cold soup right before serving.
By the way, if you haven’t tried it yet, you HAVE to get out to Brooklyn to try the restaurant, Llama Inn. When I say it was AMAZING (Peruvian food), I don’t think  those words even do justice for how delicious and creative these dishes were last night. It is a perfect spot for Saturday date night, with an adorable rooftop, where you can get drinks beforehand.
PS. Someone is turning 8 months next week- I just can not believe it! She is on the verge of crawling (least that’s what we think?). I feel like these next few weeks could get quite interesting, once she is truly on the move!
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Chicken Piccata & Glamour Shots…

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Summer is FINALLY here, and what a beaut NYC has been lately! We have certainly stepped up our dinners and taken them to the roof, al fresco style! We have even been bringing Miss Char upstairs to join in with her dinner, and she loves it. In fact, it has made the whole feeding her solids things easier, because she’s easily distracted.

Chicken Piccata is one of my ultimate favorite meals when we go to an Italian restaurant. They seem to always make it so much tastier than mine (I’m guessing due to the large amounts of butter they load onto the pan). However, this last go around, this dish ROCKED. It is SO quick to make, demands so few ingredients, and just requires a little tender care on the frying pan.  I think the real trick is more capers, and even more caper juice. Almost like a dirty martini, extra dirty!

We had a great Father’s day weekend, where Charlotte cooperated  like an angel for our quick photo session in the park (and thank you Nick for cooperating like an angel too, for all 20 minutes LOL). We had never taken new born photos, engagement photos, etc . So I told Nick he owed me for a quick baby session in the park, since we had yet to capture one decent photo of all 3 of us together. Below are a few from the shoot 🙂

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Chicken Piccata: serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb of chicken tenderloins
  • 1 jar of capers (and 1/2- 3/4 of the juice in the jar as well)
  • 1 lemon (or 1/3 cup of lemon juice)
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 1/3 cup of flour
  • 3 table spoons of salt & pepper
  • 1 table spoon of garlic
  • 2 table spoons of butter
  • 1 bunch of parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 cup of chicken stock

Instructions:

  1. Season chicken with salt, pepper, and garlic
  2. Dredge chicken in flour and shake off excess (on both sides).
  3. In a skillet over high heat, melt 2 tablespoons of butter with a few tablespoons olive oil.
  4. Add  chicken and cook for 3 minutes. When chicken is browned, flip and cook other side for 3 minutes. Remove and transfer to plate.
  5. In the same pan, add lemon juice, stock and capers. I prefer to use the entire jar, adding half the juices as well (but keep in mind these are strong, so add to your liking). Bring to boil, scraping up brown bits from the pan for some more flavor.
  6. Add the chicken back to the pan and simmer for 5 minutes.
  7. After plating the chicken, pour remaining sauce over chicken and garnish with parsley.

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Pesto & Purees

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We cook with pesto a ton, as I’m sure you have already noticed. The great part of pesto is it keeps for a while, so if you make a large batch you can usually find more uses for it later.  I am a huge fan of emptying out the refrigerator and hate things to go to waste, which is how this idea came about. We were in the mood for a lean fish, but didn’t want to eat it plain, so I thought, why not try some pesto on top?! And boy, was it delicious. We plated it over some sweet potato puree (my new go-to side) and VOILA! This recipe was super quick, healthy, and above all, required very few ingredients, for those days that you just don’t have time to think of something new.

We had quite the weekend, which is why my posts have been lacking. We flew up to Toronto for Charlotte’s Baptism. It was such a great weekend, getting both sides of the family together. Everyone helped make her day feel even more special, and we were so thankful for great weather, easy flights, and a very happy baby when it came time for her big debut:) Below are some pics recapping the day.

PS The dress Char was wearing has been in Nick’s family for over 7 generations almost every baby in the family has been Baptized in it so far, and we were SO nervous she wouldn’t fit into it (because she’s HUGE, and we waited a tad later than most to get her Baptism together). Luckily, it fit, and she LOVED it.

Pesto Pan Seared Cod with a Sweet Potato Puree: serves 2

Ingredients:

 

For the fish:

  • 3/4-1 lb of cod or any other flaky white fish

For the sweet potato puree: 

  • 1-2 sweet potatoes or yams
  • 1 garlic clove (diced finely)
  • 1 tea spoon of grated ginger
  • kosher salt & pepper
  • 1 tea spoons of cumin and nutmeg
  • a few table spoons of olive oil for roasting and searing purposes
  • 1 table spoon of butter
  • 1/4 cup of sour cream or milk

For the pesto:

  • 1 bunch of basil
  • 1 cup of pine nuts or pecans (toasted)
  • 1/2 cup of olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 dash of chili flakes
  • 1 dash of kosher salt & pepper
  • 1 dash of lemon juice

Instructions:

Sweet Potato Puree: 

  1. Pre-heat oven to 450.
  2. Toss chopped sweet potato , garlic, and ginger with 1 Tbsp of olive oil, cumin, nutmeg, and a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Spread on a baking sheet, roast for ~25 mins
  3. Blend in food processor until smooth.
  4. If need be; add a dash of sour cream or milk to make creamier to your liking,

Cod:

  1. If not already portioned, cut the fish into ~1/4-1/3 lb. pieces. Salt & Pepper generously on both sides.
  2. Heat 1 tbsp each of butter and olive oil over medium high heat. Once the butter is completely melted, add the cod. Cook on one side until mostly cooked through, approximately 5 mins (fish should have formed a crunchy, golden crust.) Flip once, being careful to keep the fish together. Cook for another 3-5 mins, until fish is firm.

 For the pesto topping instructions, click to view previous post ….. Pesto!

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She had no idea what was about to go down….
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With her Godparents, Chris and Monica!

 

 

Paella for the win…

 

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Happy Sunday everyone!!! I can’t even contain myself to wait a day longer to write about this great meal we cooked Friday night. Sadly, my only contribution was buying the ingredients, but I’d like to think I helped add some spices at the end to make it just right 🙂

Paella is one of our favorite dishes when having guests over, because you can make a huge batch of it, and really add any proteins you like to switch it up. We were hungry, so this batch consisted of chicken thighs, shrimp, and chorizo sausage. Man, was it GOOD!

We had a much needed relaxing weekend as we prep for our next Toronto adventure: Charlotte’s baptism next week. We’re crossing our fingers for happy flights with this little 7 month old! Below are some pics of Charlotte at her friend Blair’s 1st birthday party this weekend. She loved the balloons and live music, however, slept through a good 3/4 of the party … (#wedontfeelguilty).

Paella

Chicken, Shrimp, & Chorizo Paella: serves 5-6

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 lb pack chicken thighs (we like a lot of meat, but you could shave back here if you want)
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 Spanish chorizo sausages, thickly sliced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 Spanish onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 green pepper
  • Bunch flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped, reserve some for garnish
  • 1 (15-ounce) can whole tomatoes, drained and hand-crushed
  • 4 cups arborio rice
  • 6 cups water, warm
  • 1 pound jumbo shrimp, peeled and de-veined (again feel free to add more or less depending on your preference)
  • Lemon wedges, for serving
Spice Mix for chicken:
  • 1 part paprika, kosher salt, and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 parts dried oregano

Instructions:

1) Marinate the shrimp for ~30 mins by mixing them with a generous amount of olive oil (so that the shrimp are well coated), 1 tsp each salt and pepper, 2 sliced cloves of garlic, and 2 tbsp lemon juice. Don’t over marinate or the lemon juice will slowly cook the shrimp, forming a gross ceviche.
2) Generously dust the chicken with the spice mix. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a paella pan over medium-high heat (we actually used an electric wok, and cooked it all at the table!) Saute the chorizo until browned, remove and reserve. Keep the leftover oil
3) Add chicken skin-side down and let brown, ~3 mins each side (it doesn’t need to be fully cooked through, because you’ll add it as the rice cooks.) Remove from pan, and keep with the sausage.
4) Add the shrimp, saute quickly (~1 min each side), until the shrimp has just turned pink (again, you’ll cook it more later, so no need to worry about them being cooked all the way through.)
5) In the same pan, sautee the onions, peppers, remaining garlic, and 1/2 the parsley. Cook for 3-4 minutes over medium heat. Add tomatoes and spices, cook until the liquid has mostly evaporated.
6) Fold in the rice and stir-fry to coat the grains, ~3 mins. Pour in water & chicken stock, bring to a simmer. Add chicken & chorizo, allow to simmer over medium heat until rice is al-dente, ~12-15 mins (try not to stir, as this makes the rice mushy).
7) Add the shrimp for the last ~2 mins of cooking. Once the paella is cooked and the rice looks fluffy and moist, turn the heat up for about a minute, until you can smell the rice toast at the bottom, then it’s perfect (you want a nice crispy bottom).
8) Remove from heat, garnish with some of the parsley.

And DIG IN!!!!

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Coffee Brined Taco Party…

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Recently I can’t seem to shake this permanent state of exhaustion I have been experiencing…..hence the lack of blog posts. Has the fact that we have a baby finally set in, almost 7 months later??? The crazy part is, I’m actually getting more sleep now, than before we had a baby (like clock work we hit the bed by 10pm EVERY night). However, trying to keep someone stimulated 24-7 is quite the energy burner. It’s safe to say I have really gone on to embrace good quality coffee, and thanks to my awesome parents for the surprise anniversary gift, we are now owners of a fancy percolator. It truly puts our Keurig machine to shame. Our first go around we accidentally brewed way too much, which led us to our coffee inspired chicken tacos. We had some friends over on the roof to top off a great Memorial Day weekend and went to town on this delicious taco feast!!!

Below are a few pics recapping our great memorial day weekend out East with some friends. Charlotte had a great first beach experience, however, taking a baby to the beach isn’t exactly relaxing. She ate a lot of sand, screamed when the freezing water touched her toes, and spent most of her time perched under the umbrella. All in though, it was great to escape the city and get some fresh, salty air 🙂

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Coffee Brined Chicken Tacos:

Ingredients: serves 4-6

  • 1 hefty table spoon of ground coffee
  • 3-4 large, skinless chicken breasts, or 6-8 skinless chicken thighs (or any mixture of chicken pieces you want, really)
  • 2 tsp salt, white or brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp each cumin, chili powder, paprika, cayenne pepper, ground black pepper, fennel seeds.
  • 1 tsp each nutmeg, cinnamon
  • 3 garlic cloves (sliced thinly)
  • Juice from 4 limes (or ~5 tbsp of lime juice)
  • 1 small can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (most grocery stores have this in their “ethnic foods” section)
  • Various taco toppings (we used roasted red, green, yellow, and ancho peppers, diced iceberg lettuce, greek yogurt, diced tomatoes, salsa, and mexican rice)
  • Flour or corn tortillas

Instructions:

  1. In a saucepan, add all the spices (other than the garlic cloves) & ground coffee to 3 cups of water and bring to a boil.
  2. Chop 4-5 of the canned chipotle peppers, add to the mixture. Simmer for 4-5 mins, so the salt/sugar is fully dissolved. Remove from heat, and let cool (approx. 1 hour, or until room temperature. You can put it in the fridge if you want to speed up the cooling, too.) Note that this mix will taste pretty gross on its own (because it’s very salty), but should smell good. You have to make a strong brine for it to really affect the meat.
  3. Add the lemon juice and garlic to the cooled brine, and pour into a large zip-loc bag. Add the chicken, seal the bag removing as much air as possible, then massage the brine into the chicken. We allowed the chicken to brine for 5-6 hours, massaging every few hours, although I’m sure it’d still be pretty good if you only have a few hours to brine (similarly, overnight might enhance the flavors more.)
  4. Once the chicken has marinated, remove from the brine and add to a medium-hot pan. It’s good if pieces of garlic/chipotle peppers are still stuck to the meat. feel free to add a little more paprika/cumin/black pepper to the chicken, but wouldn’t add more salt (the brine should make it salty enough). Cook until chicken is firm, ~12-15 mins. Let the chicken rest for 5 mins before serving.
  5. For the tortillas, we just started lightly charring them on the stove top, just putting them quickly on top of the gas range (maybe 10-15 secs each side.) We thought this added some nice flavor!
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