Zoodles: Take 1

A very dear friend gave me a Veggetti for my bridal shower last year. We drove across the country two days later to move to California. Needless to say, it’s taken some time to put all of these exciting gifts to use / remember where we put them when we moved. This is something I wish I’ve been using more frequently. Gluten free pasta is fine, don’t get me wrong. There are a few really good brands and at this point I really don’t miss “regular” pasta’s taste or consistency. Those gf pastas are just as terrible for you though, so this is a lovely and light way to get all the good fixings that you put in pasta, sans guilt. It’s a very tasty first take on zoodles and incredibly filling with so much veggie-chicken goodness! I prepared the asparagus and chicken the night ahead of time because I was making a different meal and just used the leftover pieces for this zoodles recipe.
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Zoodles with Chicken and Veggies
2 chicken breasts, prepared the night before (see first step)
1 bunch of asparagus, prepared the night before (see 2nd step)
Olive oil
12 mushrooms, sliced thin
1 small yellow onion, diced
6 oz spinach
3 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon butter
1 zucchini, “zoodled”
12 cherry tomatoes, halved
2 Tablespoons white wine
Red pepper flakes and parmesan cheese, for serving

1. The night before I cut the chicken into pieces and marinated in Italian dressing for a couple hours. Then sautéed until golden brown, and even a little burned in places. Set aside.

2. Cut tough ends off asparagus, lay flat on a roasting tray and coat with olive oil, salt, pepper, dash of cayenne, and garlic powder.  Roast in 425 degree oven for 8 minutes. Cut into bite size pieces and set aside.

3. Heat teaspoon of olive oil in pan and then sauté mushrooms and onions until beginning to caramelize. Season with salt and pepper.
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4. Add spinach and cook down until completed wilted. Add tablespoon of butter and ensure all veggies are coated. DSC_0179

5. Add cherry tomatoes, asparagus, and chicken. Bring to heat and then add white wine. Cook on medium heat until wine starts to boil and burn off, be sure to keep stirring so veggies don’t stick to the bottom. Add zoodles and cook until they are fully heated. No need to sauté or brown them.

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6. Serve with parmesan and red pepper flakes! DSC_0019

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Turkey Burgers and Sweet Potato Fries

It was not my intention to make such unnecessarily large burgers. I could have made 5 or 6 out of this recipe, as opposed to the 4 ginormous ones I created. They didn’t shrink as much as I thought they would. I’d also like to make more patties next time so the recipe can stretch out over more meals. You can also cook them on the grill but ours is so finicky that I didn’t feel like standing next to it all day making sure they didn’t burn to a crisp. The fries were also great the next day when I turned them into “hash browns” with breakfast. Leftovers love all day long.

Turkey Burgers and Sweet Potato Fries
1 lb ground turkey
1 small white onion, chopped
1/4 cup gluten free breadcrumbs
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 cups baby spinach
2 cloves garlic, chopped

3 sweet potatoes, peeled
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1. Cut sweet potatoes into 1/4 inch slices. Toss in a large bowl with spices and olive oil until all coated.

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2. Lay potatoes in an even layer on a cooking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cook in 450 degree oven for 20 minutes, tossing occasionally.

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3. Combine turkey, onion, breadcrumbs, eggs, garlic, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Separate into burgers and either grill or pan fry until fully cooked. Set aside.
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4. Heat olive oil in a sauté pan and cook garlic until fragrant. Add spinach and cook until wilted. Set aside.

5. Assemble burgers with cheese, sautéed spinach and onion (maybe a tomato too, if you find one in your fridge.)

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6. Devour with delicious cider!

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Warm Potato Salad with Horseradish

It’s hot in the Bay Area. Well, it’s Bay Area hot. That means around 85 degrees. There’s even a “hazardous weather warning” on the weather channel. It’s toasty, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not unbearable. It cools down a ton at night and is no where near those humid New Jersey summer nights. It feels like BBQ’ing weather so I decided to make some potato salad to go with dinner. This can also be served the next day but I’m not in love with it cold, so serve at room temperature, if possible.

Warm Potato Salad with Horseradish 
1 lbs small red potatoes, quartered
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
5 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup red onion
2 Tablespoons prepared horseradish
Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
2 teaspoons dill

1. Boil potatoes in salted water until tender. Drain potatoes and put into a large bowl. Toss with oil and vinegar while still warm.

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2. Add onions, horseradish, salt, pepper, and dill.

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3. Serve with grilled chicken and green beans.

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Vegas Recap + Chicken with Polenta

Our Vegas trip last weekend was outrageous. It was a once in a lifetime chance to see such a historic UFC card and even better to have seen it with our friends Deana and Jimmy from NJ. I couldn’t have imagined a more flawless outcome. We went to the Fan Expo, Old Vegas, the Weigh Ins, and of course, the fights. On top of all that, all of the fighters we wanted to win, won!

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The Weigh Ins Crowd

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Sitting in front of the FOX Table at the Weigh Ins

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Old Vegas

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UFC 189 — “It’s Time”

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Conor McGregor — Interim Featherweight Champion!

July has been unbelievably busy and exciting so far, which has in turn, limited my cooking time. I missed it a lot so it was nice to get in some kitchen time this weekend.

Chicken, Peppers, and Onions with Polenta
Olive oil
4 chicken thighs
Salt and pepper
1 yellow onion, cut in half and sliced
1 yellow pepper
1 orange pepper
1 red pepper
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup water
1 cup polenta
2 cups milk
2 cups water
2 Tablespoons of butter
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1 Tablespoon parsley, chopped

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1. Season chicken with salt and pepper on both sides. Heat a dash of olive oil in a heavy bottomed skillet. Brown chicken thighs on both sides then set aside on a plate.

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2. In same skillet, sauté the peppers and onions for about six minutes until they’re almost caramelized then add garlic and cook down. Add the chicken back to the skillet with skin side up and heat for about five minutes.

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3. Add chicken broth and a cup of water to the skillet and bring to a boil. Cover and cook for 10 minutes then uncover and cook for another 10 minutes until the liquid is reduced in half.

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4. While the chicken is braising, make the polenta. Bring 2 cups of milk and 2 cups of water to a boil then slowly whisk in the corn meal. Bring back to a boil and continue to whisk. Once the meal starts to thicken, add the butter and reduce heat to low. Stir frequently and add a dash more milk if the polenta starts to harden too much. The polenta should take about 15 minutes to become tender. Add parmesan cheese right before serving.

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… Also, Jason was craving chili and we needed to use leftover ground beef.

Quick Dutch Oven Chili 
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb ground beef
2 Tablespoons chili powder
1 Tablespoon cumin
1 Tablespoon oregano
3 Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, chopped
1 6-ounce can of tomato paste
1 6-ounces of hard cider
1 28-ounce can of whole tomatoes, crushed by hand
1 15-ounce can cannelloni beans
1 15-ounce can kidney beans
1 6-ounce can of green chilis

1. Saute onions, peppers and garlic together. Add beef. Stir in everything else except beans and bring to boil. Add beans and let simmer for 2 hours. Serve with sour cream and cheese.
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Espresso & Chocolate Ice Cream

We had the pleasure of hosting Jason’s uncle and his girlfriend this past week. It was their first time in California and it was such a blast. The weather was absolutely perfect and we took advantage of it by BBQ’ing and spending a lot of time relaxing outside in the backyard. Since it was going to be so warm, I decided the perfect dessert to share with them would be homemade ice cream! This recipe has a super strong coffee flavor, so tread lightly if you’re not a huge fan. You can always omit the espresso — if you use a bourbon soaked vanilla bean it will give the ice cream an impressive flavor and you won’t need the coffee.

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Espresso & Chocolate Ice Cream
3 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cup whole milk
Dash of kosher salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean
7 egg yolks
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted

1. In a large saucepan on medium-low heat, combine cream, milk, salt and half of the sugar. Cut the vanilla bean in half and scrape seeds into the liquid and place bean in as well. Bring to a simmer until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and cover, letting it sit for about 25 minutes. While you’re waiting, melt the chocolate over a double boiler.

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2. In a separate bowl, whisk egg yolks and leftover sugar until the yolks begin to become pale. It may take upwards of two minutes. Slowly incorporate warm milk and cream mixture into the yolks, being careful not to cook them. Pour all of the contents back into the saucepan and cook over medium heat until it begins to thicken. The final consistency will be thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon.
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3. Strain the mixture through a small sieve into a large bowl and stir in espresso powder. Cool entire bowl over an ice bath for about 10 minutes, slowly mixing it so that the entire custard cools.

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4. Once cool, put into a flat tray, I used a small brownie pan. Carefully drizzle about a quarter of the chocolate on top and place into freezer to chill.

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5. Remove the ice cream every 30 minutes, carefully mixing it up and chopping the chocolate up so it’s evenly distributed. Flatten the mixture again and pour another quarter of the chocolate on top. Repeat until you have enough chocolate throughout and the ice cream begins to stiffen. Once it’s almost completely frozen, put into an airtight container and allow to freeze overnight if possible.

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6. Try not to eat it all before you can serve it to friends and family!

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