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Tuesday
Sep282010

Inside-Out Pork Dumplings

This recipe was in my Whole Living, Body + Soul magazine. It was terrific and super easy to make. Like most of my other recipes, it didnt take more than 20 minutes to make.

 

(After eating most of it!)

 


Word to the Wise: You can easily substitute ground turkey for ground pork. Simply add an extra 2 Tbsp olive oil to the pan while cooking the turkey. If you are like me and enjoy leftovers, I may  double the recipe.

Inside-Out Pork Dumplings

Serving Size: 3

Time: 20 minute


  • 1 Tbsp olive oil

  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • 2 Tbsp ginger, minced

  • 4 scallions

  • 8 oz ground pork (or ground turkey)

  • 2 baby bok choy* (or approximately 1 per person)

  • 3 Tbsp white vinegar

  • 6 oz fresh wonton wrappers

 


  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Season with Salt.

  2. Add wonton wrappers one at a time. Cook until al dente or about 1-2 minutes. Drain.

  3. Heat oil and red pepper in skillet.

  4. Add ground pork or turkey. Cook about 3-5 minutes or until cooked thoroughly.

  5. Add garlic, ginger and scallions and stir for about 1 minute.

  6. Add bok choy; Cover and steam until tender (about 5 minutes)

  7. Add white wine vinegar and stir.

  8. Add wonton wrappers to mixture and toss.


*How to Cook with Bok Choy: I had never used Bok Choy in my food until tonight. Its really simple and  you can use it all. Start by making sure there are no brown spots on the stems. If you are using baby bok choy (which I recommend), you can peel the stems off and chop from the individual stems to the leaves. It simply gets sauteed and takes just a few minutes to become tender. With full size bok choy, you may need to peel the outside stems off first and then use the inner stems and leaves.

Tuesday
Sep282010

Dining Out at oENOlogy, Frontera, and Grand Lux Cafe

Who am I kidding...While I love to cook, I also love to eat really good food cooked by someone other than me. Since it was Joe's birthday this week, we decided to enjoy Friday night out. We started off at oENOlogy on Michigan Ave (505 N. Michigan Ave., to be exact) and proceeded to Frontera, Top Chef Master's winner Rick Bayless' restaurant, and completed the evening with dessert from the Grand Lux Cafe.

oENOlogy


  • Student Loan Consumption: $30

  • Downfalls: Children are allowed*

  • Repeat Appearance: Yes


With a variety of beverage flights to choose from - red only, white only, mixes, and champagne - the prices ranged from $15-$20. We ordered a red/white mix wine flight. The staff was helpful and explained to us the details of our wine selection. The flight also came with description cards. For those of us who pretend to be wine connoisseurs, this was a great help...(if I actually remembered the wines we drank, it would be far more beneficial to my wanna-be wine-o status).

We also indulged in a cheese flight. Again, the staff was helpful in recommending wine/cheese pairings. Upon the arrival of our delicious cheese (accompanied with bread, olives, nuts, and an amazing jam), we were provided with a description of the cheese and their origins.


*Caveat: I do not mind children in restaurants. In fact, I think they add an entertainment value to my dining experience. I DO mind children in a setting where screaming is impermissible and where their presence results in champagne all over my pants leg.

Frontera


  • Student Loan Consumption: $60

  • Downfalls: Music inside is slightly over the top

  • Repeat Appearance: Absolutely

  • Word to the Wise: They do not take reservations. They open at 5pm. Arrive at 4:40 to get in line.


We have been dying to try Frontera and let me tell you, there was absolutely no let-down in this meal or in the dining experience. The decor is fabulous - 3D dragons cover the rooms and mosaic artwork covers the walls. The outside patio is nice and provides a great people watching station (though there are no heat lamps so it was a bit chilly).

We ate and ate and ate some more and drank delicious drinks and still ended up with a bill within our special occasions budget range. Frontera's menu changes on a bi-monthly basis, which means that no two trips will be the same. We started off the evening at the bar with a drink that consisted of rum and crushed blackberries (Price: $10). Joe later had a phenomenal margarita that was perfectly made and incredibly unique, though for the life of me I cannot remember what was in it (Price: $12). The best part of Frontera is that they have platillos pequenos, with each plate falling in the $8-$10 range. We started by ordering a chips platter at Joe's request (heaven forbid we have any derivation of Mexican and not have chips and salsa!)(Price: $3) and a trio of ceviche (Price: $17). This ceviche blew my mind. One was a tuna cevice, another was a king crab ceviche, and the third was a calamari ceviche. Each had an entirely unique taste to it and was beyond fresh. We proceeded to order three small plates - (1) Flautas de Puerco - a pork rolled taco with carmelized onion; (2) Tamal de Pato - fresh corn masas with duck and (3) Enfrijoladas de Pollo - tortillas around chicken breast with a black bean sauce. I think that each one was better and better and the portions were perfect for 2. I am a sucker for Plantains, thanks to my time in Ghana, so I could not pass up the side dish of plantains with fresh crema and cheese crumbled on top (Price: $6). I think Joe got maybe 1 plantain and I devoured the entire plate.

Let me tell you, Rick Bayless and Frontera did not disappoint. Nor did the price! I was astounded when our bill came out to only $60-some odd dollars.

Grand Lux Cafe


  • Student Loan Consumption: $7

  • Downfalls: No room to wait to pick up carry-out

  • Repeat Appearance: Maybe...it is a bit far to trek for our late night, on a whim dessert hunts


Fat and happy from Frontera, we strolled around downtown until I remembered that someone had suggested Grand Lux Cafe for cheesecake. So up we went, on a packed Friday night, to eat even more food. We walked out not with a piece of cheesecake but with a piece of solid chocolate fudge cake to-go, that took up an ENTIRE carry out box. Yes, I am talking a standard, square carry-out box filled with chocolate cake. Thank god we didnt eat it all in one fell swoop.

Sunday
Sep262010

Sweet Potato Leek Soup and Salad with Buttermilk Parsley Dressing

On one of our first truly "cool" days of the season, I decided on soup and salad for dinner. I'm a sucker for a good soup, especially pureed soups. I'm an even bigger sucker for soups that taste like they have loads of cream in them, but don't, and instead are actually healthy. So tonight we had a Sweet Potato Leek Soup and a Side Salad with a Homemade Buttermilk Parsley Dressing (again, surprisingly healthy!)



Word to the Wise: I doubled the soup recipe, thinking that 4 servings (serving size: 1 1/4 cup) wouldn't be enough to have left overs. Truth be told, doubling this recipe made more like 12-15 servings. We now have 3 tupperware containers of soup - enough to last us the next 2 weeks. We also added grated mozzarella cheese to the soup.

Sweet Potato Leek Soup

Serving Size: 4 servings (1.25 cups per serving)

Time: 30-40 minutes


  • 1/4 cup freshly grated cheese of your choosing

  • 1 cup diced uncooked bacon

  • 1.5 cups sliced leek (about 1 large leek)

  • 2 tbsp water

  • 3 cups peeled, diced sweet potato (roughly 2 medium sweet potatoes)

  • 1 cup fat-free chicken broth

  • 1 1/2 cups water

  • 1 (5-ounce) can fat-free evaporated milk

  • 1/2 cup whole milk

  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

 


  1. Heat a large pan over medium heat. Coat pan with PAM. Add bacon and cook for 5 minutes or until browned (STIR FREQUENTLY).

  2. Add leek to pan. Add 2 tbsp water. Cook leek for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  3. Add sweet potato and remaining ingredients.

  4. Cover, reduce heat, and let cook for 15-20 minutes or until sweet potato is tender.

  5. Take mixture and add 1/3 to 1/2 of mixture to blender or food processor. Puree until smooth.

  6. Repeat with remainder of mix.

  7. Serve soup with freshly grated cheese on top.


Buttermilk Parsley Salad Dressing

Serving Size: 1 1/4 cups


  • 3/4 cup low-fat buttermilk

  • 1/4 low fat mayonnaise

  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley

  • Salt and pepper to taste

 


  1. Add ingredients to blender or food processor. Season with salt and pepper.

  2. Refrigerate for up to 3 days.



Sunday
Sep262010

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Since we carved pumpkins today, Joe suggested we roast the pumpkin seeds. I found a great, easy and healthy recipe for pumpkin seeds.


Word to the Wise: Keep an eye on the seeds. There isn't anything worse than burnt pumpkin seeds.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Serving Size: depends on how many seeds you have

Time: 30-40 minutes


  • 1 tbsp olive oil

  • 1 tbsp honey

  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper

  • 1 tsp cumin

  • dash of salt

  • dash of pepper

 


  1. Wash all the pumpkin goo off the seeds

  2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees

  3. Spray a cookie sheet with Pam (I lined mine with foil first)

  4. Spread the seeds out on the pan

  5. Roast for 20 minutes

  6. Place the ingredients in a ziploc baggie

  7. Put the seeds in the bag and shake

  8. Spread seeds out on pan again

  9. Roast for 15-20 minutes


Sunday
Sep262010

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread

It's a beautiful fall day and we decided to carve a pumpkin. In our house, you can't do anything without having food to go along with it. So what better to go with carving a pumpkin than my mom's pumpkin chocolate chip bread.

Word to the Wise: Start checking the bread at 45 minutes, not an hour...and...everything is better with more chocolate.


Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread

Serving Size: 2 loaves

Time: 15 minutes prep; 45 minuted - 1.25 hrs baking


  • 2 cups Sugar

  • 2 cups Pumpkin (1 Can)

  • 1/2 cup Canola Oil

  • 1/2 cup Fat Free Vanilla Pudding

  • 4 Egg Whites

  • 3 cups Flour

  • 2 tsp Cinnamon

  • 1 1/4 tsp Salt

  • 1 tsp Baking Soda

  • 1 1/4 cups Chocolate Chips

 


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

  2. Mix the sugar, pumpkin, oil, pudding, and eggs

  3. Add and mix in the flour, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda

  4. Mix in the chocolate chips

  5. Spray two 8" x 4" bread pans

  6. Pour batter into two pans

  7. Bake in oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour and 15 minutes

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