Friday, September 28, 2012

The BEST Bolognese

Apparently I have been on a pasta kick lately.  I made the pasta balsamic chicken the other day, the zucchini lasagna just before that (OK, not exactly pasta), and the basil spaghetti with salmon and sundried tomatoes right before that.  Upon reflection, I don't think it is the pasta that I have been craving, but rather my utterly unquenchable obsession with the basil infused olive oil we bought at the Alaska State Fair.  As I have spouted before, the stuff is incredible.  Truly.  So I think the root of all the pasta dishes stems from my desire to put the basil infused olive oil in everything

Well, this bolognese topped wheat spaghetti lightly coated in the olive oil of my dreams and the result was simply magical.  Light noodles with a hint of basil and garlic topped with hearty, meaty, flavorful (and healthy!) bolognese sauce.  This is absolutely 100% my new red sauce.  I can't wait to use it on pizza! 

(Shhhh....we made a braided spaghetti bread using the leftovers and it was to die for.  Stay tuned for that blog post.)

Turkey Bolognese
(This makes a TON.  You could easily half or even quarter it.  I like to go big though.)
  • 1 medium sweet onion, diced
  • 3 or 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1.25 pounds of lean ground turkey (I used one of the packages from Costco.  You could certainly use much less.  If you do, make sure to use less of everything else too.)
  • 2 cans of no salt added diced tomatoes, drained
  • 2 small cans of tomato paste
  • 1 medium can of tomato sauce
  • 2ish tablespoons of oregano
  • 2ish tablespoons of thyme (I really have no idea how much of either spice I used.  Sorry.)
  • a few shakes of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 or 3ish tablespoons of fresh basil, thinly sliced
  • 1 pound of whole wheat pasta
  • a few glugs of basil infused olive oil
  • a little bit of freshly grated garlic
  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil.
  2. In a large skillet, heat a little olive oil over medium high heat.  Add the onions and the garlic.  Cook until soft.
  3. Add the ground turkey.  Use a wooden spoon to break the turkey into smaller pieces.  Cook until turkey is browned.
  4. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, and the spices.  Reduce heat to medium.
  5. Cook for a few minutes to let the flavors marinate.
  6. Taste and adjust spices.
  7. Add the basil.  Taste again.
  8. While the sauce is cooking, add the spaghetti to the water.  Cook until al dente.
  9. Drain the pasta and return to the pot.
  10. Add just enough of the basil infused olive oil to coat.
  11. Serve the pasta with the sauce on top.  
  12. Garnish with freshly grated parmesan.
  13. ENJOY!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Pasta with Balsamic Chicken and Asparagus

Simple and elegant.  That's what this dinner is.  So easy, so fast, and so good.  This meal is perfect for any weeknight where the whole family has lots of things to do--in our house, it is grad school (round 4 between the two of us), tutoring, and running club.  However, for families with hockey, soccer, gymnastics, piano, violin, and more on the plate, this is the perfect go-to fresh meal. 

Wheat pasta very lightly coated in basil-infused olive oil; asparagus tossed with a tiny bit of salt and pepper and olive oil; fresh chicken with balsamic vinegar, rosemary, thyme, and a splash of olive oil; and freshly grated parmesan cheese.  That's all it takes. 

Not only is this good for busy weeknights, but it would also be great the night before long runs.  (Remember when I ran marathons?  Fast?  And qualified for Boston?  Twice?....I don't, sadly.)  Yes, this is the perfect training meal too.  2012 will mark the first year in many that I have not run a marathon (or more) in.  Maybe I should stop cooking/baking and start running again.  Better yet, I should go back to the days of doing both.  Resolution set.  :)

Tangents aside, this meal is awesome.  Perfectly fresh, tasty, hot, and quick.  You'll love it.

Pasta with Balsamic Chicken and Asparagus
  • 1 bunch of asparagus
  • a glug or two of extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and ground pepper to taste
  • 4 or 5 healthy glugs of balsamic vinegar
  • about 1 tablespoon of rosemary  (maybe more...I don't measure well)
  • about 1 tablespoon of thyme  (again, I am not really sure...I like to dump, not measure)
  • 2 chicken breasts, cut into smaller pieces...and a little bit of olive oil
  • 1/2ish pound of wheat spaghetti
  • a light coating of basil-infused olive oil
  • paremesan cheese, grates
  1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees.  Snap the tough ends off the asparagus and discard them. Cut the spears into 1-inch pieces. 
  2. Put the asparagus on a baking sheet lined with nonstick tinfoil and toss with the glug of extra virgin olive oil and a little bit of salt and fresh ground pepper. 
  3. Roast until tender, about 10 minutes.
  4. At the same time, add the chicken pieces, balsamic, rosemary, thyme, and little bit of olive oil to a tagine or to a saute pan.  Cook over medium until the chicken is juicy and completely done. 
  5. Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti in a large pot of boiling, salted water until just done.  
  6. Drain the pasta and toss with the basil-infused olive oil.  
  7. Top with the chicken and asparagus. 
  8. Serve with additional Parmesan.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Roasted Red Pepper Soup

I've made carrot soup, asparagus soup, tomato soup, corn soup, potato soup, squash soup, pumpkin soup, beet soup, and broccoli soup, but I have never made roasted red pepper soup...until now.  And what a success it was.  Perfectly peppery, roasted, and spiced.  Also, it was extraordinarily fresh, and incredibly healthy (until I ate about fifty pretzel sticks).  This soup is perfect for fall--my favorite time of year! 

I can't wait to make it again.

Roasted Red Pepper Soup
Adapted from this recipe.
  • 1 medium sweet onion, diced
  • 5 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 or 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • about 30 ounces of lower sodium chicken broth (I used 2 cans)
  • 7 red peppers
  • between 1 and 2 tablespoons of crushed thyme
  • between 1 and 2 tablespoons of crushed rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
  1. In a large pot, saute the onions and garlic.  
  2. Add the carrots and the broth.  Simmer until carrots are cooked through.
  3. While the carrots and onions are simmering, prepare your peppers...
  4. With the broiler on high and the oven rack on the top notch, place the peppers on their side on a cookie sheet covered with tinfoil.
  5. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes until the side on top begins to blacken and blister.
  6. Use tongs to flip a quarter turn.  Cook for 5-7 minutes again until that side is blackened and blistered.
  7. Continue with the rest of the sides.
  8. Remove the peppers from the oven and place in a paper bag.  Let them sit for 15 to 20 minutes.
  9. Peel the skin and remove the seeds and stems.
  10. Dice the peppers.
  11. Add the peppers to the carrots and broth.
  12. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup.
  13. Add the spices.  Taste and adjust.
  14. Serve hot and garnish with a little rosemary.
  15. ENJOY!

In a pot, saute sliced onions and chopped garlic until soft. Add vegetable stock and roasted bell peppers. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Season soup with salt and pepper. Fill a blender half full, and blend until smooth. Repeat blending until all soup is blended. Reheat soup and serve hot.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Perfectly Soft Pretzel Sticks

Words escape me.  Truly.  I honestly don't know how to describe the heavenly little sticks of flaky but chewy dough with a little hint of salt that are also known as Pretzels.  When I plan my last supper, these will absolutely-100%-without-hesitation-or-a-shadow-of-a-doubt be on the mass quantity.

And yes, they are better than Auntie Anne's.  They are thicker, more flavorful, not as salty, perfectly crusty and doughy at the same time, not buttery, and literally straight out of the oven hot.  (I am salivating just thinking about them.)  Even better, they are incredibly easy to make!

I could sell these.  Maybe I should.

Better Than Auntie Anne's Pretzel Sticks:
adapted from this recipe.
  • 2 cups of nonfat milk
  • 2 packets of active dry yeast
  • 6 healthy tablespoons of packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup of butter, softened
  • 5 1/2ish cups of all-purpose flour (maybe a little more or less depending on the dough)
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 1/3 cup of baking soda
  • 2 cups of warm water
  • kosher salt for dusting
  1. Warm the milk in a 2 cups pouring measuring cup (or a bowl, I suppose) in the microwave until hot but not boiling (about 110 degrees).  This will be about 1 1/2 or 2 minutes.
  2. Add the yeast to the milk and let proof until foamy, about 5 minutes.
  3. When the yeast has proofed, pour the mixture into a stand mixture and add the brown sugar, butter, 1 cup of flour, and the 2 teaspoons of salt.
  4. Mix with your paddle attachment until blended. 
  5. Switch to the dough hook attachment.
  6. Add the remaining flour a cup at a time.
  7. "Knead"/mix on medium low until the dough is elastic and comes off the sides of the bowl freely.
  8. Move the dough to a medium-sized mixing bowl liberally sprayed with cooking spray.
  9. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about an hour.
  10. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  11. Line a cookie sheet with a silpat or parchment paper.
  12. Punch down the dough to get rid of the air.
  13. Whisk together the warm water and the baking soda in a shallow bowl.
  14. Pull off a racquetball-sized piece of dough and roll into a rope that is about an inch and a half in diameter.
  15. Fully immerse the pretzel stick into the water and slosh around.
  16. Let the excess water drip off the pretzel and place the stick on the parchment paper.
  17. Repeat the process.
  18. When the cookie sheet is full (about 8 or 10 sticks), use a sharp knife to diagonally score the sticks then lightly sprinkle with kosher salt.
  19. Bake the pretzels for 8 to 10 minutes until golden brown.
  20. Remove from the oven and DEVOUR!

Zucchini Lasagna

Since it has recently turned to winter (ok, fall...but it seems like winter), I have been craving comfort food.  However, as we all know, comfort food generally entails millions of calories.  It is always one of my culinary goals to redo comfort foods in a healthy way.  Success stories include chili, taquitos, tacos, spring rolls, cheese stuffed meatballs, and many varieties of burgers.  What's left?  Lasagna.

Well, we did it.  Zucchini Lasagna.  Who knew?  With traditional lasagna, the only part I actually really enjoy is the cheese.  Personally, I don't care for soggy noodles, over salted canned spaghetti sauce, and dry ground beef.  This zucchini lasagna includes perfectly al dente zucchini slices (you won't miss the noodles I promise!), homemade sauce spiced to your liking, moist ground turkey, and cheese (but in a "healthy" proportion...don't doubt me).  The other benefit of the zucchini lasagna is that you get a work out at the same time!!!--the baking dish weighed at least 20 pounds.

I certainly will never go back to regular lasagna again.  This stuff was incredible.  Like so incredible that I fantasize about making it again as soon as we run out of leftovers.

Make now, thank me later.  It is that good.

(p.s.  Still looking for suggestions for how to photograph our delicious food now that we have very little natural light.  Flash diffuser?  Light box?  Help!)

Zucchini Lasagna:
  • 5 zucchini
  • 1 1/4 pounds of lean ground turkey
  • 1 medium sweet onion, diced
  • 4 or 5 green onions, sliced and the green parts discarded
  • 4 or 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 head of broccoli, chopped small
  • 1 container of fresh spinach, chopped (sorry, I have no idea what the measurement is)
  • 2 or 3 cans of no sodium added diced tomatoes
  • 1 can of tomato sauce
  • depending on whether you are going for thick or runny, you can add tomato paste too
  • about a tablespoon each of rosemary and thyme
  • 2 or 3 tablespoons of Italian seasoning (start with less and add more as you taste)
  • about 3 cups of cottage cheese (I used the entire tub of a larger Lucerne fat free cottage cheese)
  • about 1 cup of parmesan cheese
  • 1 1/2ish cups of part-skim mozzarella
  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.  Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Use a mandolin to slice the zucchini into 1/8 in slices.
  3. Arrange the slices on the cookie sheets and cook until they just start to brown on top, about 5-7 minutes.  
  4. Flip them over and cook on the other side.
  5. (I had to do 3 or 4 cycles of zucchini trays in the oven.)
  6. Remove the slices from the parchment paper and set aside.  
  7. Turn oven to 375 degrees.
  8. While all of that is happening, you can work on the sauce.....
  9. In a large non-stick skillet, cook all of the onions and the garlic with a little olive oil on medium heat.
  10. When they begin to soften, add the turkey and cook until it is brown.
  11. Add the broccoli, tomatoes, sauce, and your first round of seasonings.
  12. Simmer until the broccoli begins to soften.
  13. Regularly taste and adjust your seasonings accordingly.
  14. While all of that is happening, make your cheese filling.....
  15. Mix the cottage cheese and the parmesan together in a large bowl.
  17. Spray a 9 x 13 baking dish with cooking spray.
  18. Arrange a layer of zucchini slices on the bottom of the pan.
  19. Cover with about half of the tomato/turkey sauce.
  20. Cover the sauce with about half of the cheese layer.
  21. On top of the cheese mixture, add another layer of zucchini slices.
  22. Then repeat with the remaining sauce and cheese.
  23. Cover with one more layer of zucchini slices.
  24. Top it all off with the mozzarella cheese.
  25. Cover the whole lasagna with nonstick tinfoil, with the nonstick part facing the cheese.
  26. Cook covered for 50 minutes or so.  Then remove the foil and cook uncovered for 10 minutes or until the cheese begins to slightly brown.
  27. Let cool...the roof of your mouth will thank you.
  28. ENJOY!!!!!!!!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Pumpkin Brownies

Holy Moley!  This school year is NUTS!  New principal, new assistant principal, new superintendent, new standards-based programs (yay!), new policies, new procedures, new growth-based assessments (yay!), new mastery tracking systems (yay!), new everything!  I haven't been this excited, this nervous, this busy, this frantic, and tired since my first two years of teaching in New York.  (Love to my favorite people ever.)  It is so busy and exciting that I feel like I have just finished a marathon--every day after school.  Kids are learning, teachers are developing, and we are moving closer towards closing the achievement gap.  All amazing things.

With all of that said, though, when I get home from school, after school, and all of the after school work at home, I barely have enough energy to cook, let alone blog.  Never fear, however, there are still incredible things happening in this kitchen.  That is one of the only constants in my life....and the other one that lives here and Q.

Because it is a new school year and there have been lots of changes at school and in the district, it was perfect that a favorite staff member of mine had us all over for a gathering.  Appetizers, finger foods, incredible lasagna, and really, really great conversation was provided, but us attendees had to provide the desserts.  What did we bring, you ask?  Well, pumpkin brownies of course.

It is certainly fall up here in the Last Frontier, which means it is my favorite cooking and baking time of the year.  These pumpkin brownies are absolutely incredible and I am so happy they were the first things I made to welcome in the changing seasons.  Dark chocolate mixed with spice-filled pumpkin combine to make a magically moist and chewy, fluffy but dense, and sweet but savory dessert.  Honestly, these little gems are some of my favorite desserts ever.


Pumpkin Brownies:
Loosely adapted from this pumpkin recipe.
  • 1 1/2 cups of flour
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 1/4 cups butter, melted
  • 3 cups of white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon, 1 teaspoon, and another little splash of vanilla extract
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 cup of cocoa powder
  • 1 heaping cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 heaping cup of pumpkin puree
  • 1 1/2 heaping teaspoons of cinnamon
  • 1 heaping teaspoon of ground cloves
  • 1 heaping teaspoon of ground nutmeg
  • about 1/4 teaspoon of ground ginger
  • about 1/4 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Fill a 9 x 13 baking pan with nonstick tinfoil.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, stir together the melted butter, sugar, and vanilla extract. 
  3. Beat in the eggs one at a time.
  4. Gradually add the flour, baking powder, and salt.  
  5. Mix the batter until it is evenly moistened, but do not over mix.  
  6. Pour a little more than 1/3 of the batter into another bowl, and stir in the pumpkin puree, and all of the spices.
  7. In the bowl with more batter, bled the cocoa powder and chocolate chips.
  8. Spread about half of the pumpkin batter into the bottom of the prepared pan.
  9. Follow with all of the chocolate batter.
  10. Top with the rest of the pumpkin batter.
  11. Drag a knife through the layers to create a marbled appearance.
  12. Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 45-50 minutes (maybe more). 
  13. Cool in the pan, cut into squares, and serve. 
  14. ENJOY!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Not Mr. B's Chili...But it Sure is Good!

My very, very dear friend Mr. B used to be my neighbor both at school and in the neighborhood.  Now, we teach on opposite sides of town and he moved an hour away.  (Lots of tears.)  Mr. B is one of the nicest, most compassionate, and thoughtful friends and teachers I have ever met.  He also tells really terrible (but hilarious) jokes, grew up in eastern Washington and roots for the Cougs, and doesn't know how to downhill ski--but we won't hold those things against him.

He makes up for his (very few) faults by making the world's most delicious chili.  I know that everyone says their mom or grandma or tailgate friend makes the best stuff, but they are all wrong.  It's Mr. B.  Hands down.  Although he has shared his recipe with me, I have never followed it because he is the only one who can create that magic.  However, I have used it as the base for my own chili recipe, which is also delicious, but doesn't have quite the same Mr. B love.  Yes, my Not-Mr.-B's-Chili tastes absolutely delicious, but his is far more special because a really, really, really, really fun event always accompanies his chili creations--sledding parties, gartyques, great conversations, football or hockey games, and certainly great time with our closest friends.

Mr. B.  Your chili has a permanent home in my heart.  Yours will always be more special than mine.

Not Mr. B's Chili: (but yes, it is delicious)

What I love most about chili is the lack of a need for measurements.  I compile all of the ingredients together and dump them into a massive pot.  I let all the flavors marry together for a while and then adjust for taste.  For those reasons, I have very loosely included the measurements--but they are different every time.
  • 1 medium sweet onion, diced
  • 3 or 4 scallions, thinly sliced with the green parts separated from the while parts
  • 1 to 1 1/2 pounds of ground turkey
  • 2 small cans of tomato sauce
  • 2ish cans of diced tomatoes, drained
  • 2ish cans of kidney beans, drained
  • 2ish cans of red beans, drained
  • a number of tablespoons of chili powder and cumin
  • a little less spicy paprika
  • a little bit of crushed red peppers
  • a few dashes of cayenne
  • a little bit of garlic powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • sour cream
  • shredded cheddar cheese
  1. Heat a glug of two of olive oil in a very large pot.
  2. Add the onions and the white parts of the scallions.
  3. Cook until soft.
  4. Add the ground turkey and cook until no longer pink.
  5. Add all of the beans, the tomatoes, and the tomato sauce.  Cook until hot.
  6. Add the spices, a little at a time, and let cook for a few minutes.  
  7. Taste.
  8. Add more spices and cook a little more.
  9. Taste.
  10. Adjust spices.
  11. When it is absolutely perfect, garnish with a dollop of sour cream, a few sprinkles of the green parts of the scallions, and cheddar cheese.
  12. ENJOY!  And be thankful of your wonderful friends.
  13. Thanks, Mr. B.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Basil Spaghetti with Salmon, Sundried Tomatoes, and Artichokes

The Alaska State Fair marks the start of fall every year.  Farm animals, 100 pound cabbages and pumpkins, zucchinis the size of a football, food carts, games, rides, and--my favorite--booths from local artisans.  We came home with a beautiful painting of Denali by my favorite artist, really full bellies, and some absolutely incredible infused olive oil.  The basil infused olive oil is so good I have been tempted on more than one occasion to drink it straight from the bottle.  (I haven't stooped that low, I promise.) 

Anyhow, because the olive oil is so good, we wanted to highlight it with spaghetti and fresh sockeye salmon seasoned with thyme, sage, and rosemary.  I also threw in some marinated sundried tomatoes and artichokes.  The result was perfect.  Not only was it very light, but all of the flavors brought out the lovely basil tones in the olive oil.  It was so fantastic it inspired me to try infusing my own olive oil (someday).

I can't wait to make this again!  Guilt free and extraordinarily flavorful.  Yummmmmmm!


Basil Spaghetti with Salmon, Sundried Tomatoes, and Artichokes:
  • 1/2 pound of wheat spaghetti
  • 1 pound of fresh Alaskan salmon
  • about a teaspoon (maybe a little more) each of thyme, sage, and rosemary
  • 1 cup or so of marinated artichokes, drained, and chopped
  • 1/2 cup or so of sundried tomatoes in oil, chopped
  • a tablespoon or so of Italian seaoning
  • 1 tablespoon or a little more of basil infused olive oil
  • fresh parmesan, grated
  1. Lightly cover your salmon with a little olive oil (not basil).
  2. Sprinkle with thyme, sage, and rosemary.
  3. Cook in a tagine or in the oven until just cooked through.
  4. While the salmon is cooking, heat your pasta water and then cook until al dente.
  5. Also, in a large skillet, add the artichokes, sundried tomatoes, and Italian seasoning.  
  6. When the pasta is finished, very lightly coat with the basil olive oil.
  7. Add the sundried tomatoes and artichokes to the pasta.
  8. Mix well.
  9. Serve with a piece of salmon on top and lightly cover with parmesan cheese.
  10. ENJOY!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Baked Spring Rolls

There certainly is little debate about spring rolls being one of the best finger foods ever created.  The perfect combination of crunchy and tender, harmonizing perfectly with veggies and spices.  Personally, I also love them because they are always piping hot--a clear indication that they are straight from the kitchen into my belly. 

With all of that said, actually making spring rolls has always been intimidating to me.  How on earth do you get all of those ingredients wrapped so nicely into that tiny little delicate paper?  More importantly, how do you do that without the paper ripping and the ingredients exploding everywhere?  Mysteries.

We gave homemade spring rolls a go and they were a resounding success!  Who knew?  Not only did we make them once, but they were so good we made them again the next day.  Additionally, we managed to get the same crunchy texture by baking the spring rolls instead of deep frying (we tried and that was no bueno) or pan frying.  Fine by me!  The healthier the better.  The only thing I will do differently next time is to add fresh basil.  Aside from that they were perfect--actually they were perfect in the first place.

My advice: don't be intimidated by these little guys.  They really are easy to make.  You will be so impressed with yourself afterwards and everyone else will love them too.  I promise.

Baked Spring Rolls:
Inspired by this recipe in Food and Wine.

For the Rolls...
  • 1 medium shallot, minced  (the second time we made these, we didn't have any shallots left so we used the white parts of 5 small green onions...I couldn't tell the difference)
  • 2 cups of thinly sliced (and then sliced again) green cabbage
  • 3 tablespoons of Asian fish sauce, divided (warning: it smells like feet, but doesn't taste like it)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of sugar
  • a little more than 1/2 pound of ground turkey
  • 6 or 7 medium shrimp--shelled, deveined, and minced
  • 1 largish yukon gold potato, skinned and sliced into matchsticks
  • a package of rice papers or tapioca sheets
  • 1 Thai chile, minced
  • a number of healthy shakes of the crushed red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • next time I am going to add chopped fresh basil
For the Sauce...
  • 2 small garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 small Thai chiles, minced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons of Asian fish sauce
  • 1/3 of a cup of water
Make the Sauce...
  1. Add all of the ingredients to a bowl and stir.  Adjust for taste. 
Make the Rolls...
  1. In a large skillet, heat a glug or two of olive oil.  Add the shallot and Thai chile and cook over medium heat until the shallot begins to soften, about 2 minutes.  (Be careful or it will burn quickly.)
  2. Add the cabbage.  Cook and stir until the cabbage begins to wilt, about 3 or 4 minutes.
  3. Add 1/2 tablespoon each of the fish sauce and the sugar.  Mix to incorporate.
  4. Transfer the cabbage mixture to a large bowl.
  5. Add another glug of olive oil to the skillet.  Add the ground turkey and cook on medium-high heat until the ground turkey is completely cooked through.  While cooking, break the turkey apart.
  6. Use a slotted spoon and transfer the turkey to the bowl with the cabbage mixture.
  7. Back in the skillet, add the shrimp and cook until pink.
  8. Add the remaining 2 1/2 tablespoons of fish sauce and 1 tablespoon of sugar.  Stir to dissolve the sugar.
  9. Scrape the shrimp mixture into the cabbage bowl.
  10. Set a bamboo steamer on top of 1/2 inch of water in a skillet sized so that the steamer fits perfectly on the rim.  Bring the water to a boil, add the potatoes, and steam until tender--about 3-5 minutes.  (If you don't have a bamboo steamer, a regular steamer in a saucepan will work fine too.)
  11. Remove the potatoes from the heat and let cool slightly.
  12. Add the potatoes to the bowl with everything else.
  13. Add the red pepper flakes and salt and pepper to taste.
  14. Preheat oven to 410 degrees.
  15. Fill a shallow but wide in diameter bowl with water.  Add one rice/tapioca paper to the water and use your fingers to submerge it until soft.  (We found that once the papers were softened, it was easiest to transfer them to a cookie sheet that had been flipped upside down.)
  16. Add a heaping tablespoon or so of the mixture to the paper.  Tightly roll up burrito style.  Repeat until the filling is gone.
  17. Place close together (but not touching) on a baking sheet lined with nonstick tinfoil.
  18. Bake for 10 minutes or so or until the outsides are crispy to the touch.
  19. Serve with the dipping sauce.
  20. ENJOY!

Monday, September 3, 2012

The Breakfast of Winners

For the past six years, I have had a half cup of some sort of cereal mixed with one serving of some sort of yogurt.  I've gone through Oatmeal Squares and Vanilla Activia, Rice Chex and Greek yogurt with fruit, Grape Nuts and Yoplait, and pretty much any other combination you can think of.  In my opinion, it is the best breakfast in the universe--healthy, filling (but not a gut bomb), and the perfect jump start to the day.

Well, I have been introduced to a competitor.  I walked into school the other day and my two closest girlfriends were eating what looked like a combination of gruel and baby food.  Unappetizing appearance, yes, but I was intrigued.  What was this magical breakfast they were both eating?  The Breakfast of Winners was the answer. 

I take absolutely no credit for the creation of this incredible meal, but it is so good it must be shared.  Oats, milk, yogurt, and fruit.  That's it.  And it is guaranteed to be the perfect start to your day.

The Breakfast of Winners:
100% credit goes to my lovely friends.
  • 1/2 cup of oats
  • 2/3 cup of skim milk (although they tell me that soy milk and almond milk works well too)
  • 1 serving of the yogurt of your choice--I chose Greek yogurt with fruit
  • optional:  fresh fruit, nuts, honey, brown sugar, etc., the options are endless
  1. Mix the oats, milk, and yogurt.  Stir completely to combine.
  2. Let sit for 10 minutes or so or until the oats are soft.
  3. Add your toppings, if using.
  4. Be a winner!