Raw Almonds with a Makeover

Raw almonds are so delicious.  I much prefer them over salted almonds… there’s something about the raw almond that tastes so natural and wholesome.  I usually make my own trail mix snack; it’s more cost efficient and I also get to add what I like into it!  Raw almonds, pistachios, raisins, dried cranberries, dried mango, some dark cacao nibs – yum!  I love it, but sometimes you need to spice it up a bit. (Enter first a-ha! moment for today’s recipe.)

During a meeting for work last week, we got to talking about our personal diets and eating healthy.  It was so interesting to hear about everyone’s personal health experiences – we had a Vegan, a Gluten intolerant individual, a woman preparing for her upcoming wedding (so many juices in the mix), and a fellow Paleo-er!!  I loved sharing our foodie stories over lunch, especially those that involved the wonderful cauliflower and almond!  We talked about a recipe for dates which sounded so good, though I’ve never had dates before… I bought dates this weekend at Trader Joe’s and will report back on that one.  We also talked about a simple and easy oven roasted almond recipe.  This was perfect since I was geting a little bit bored with my usual trail mix.  (Enter second a-ha! moment for today’s recipe.)

Oven Roasted Almonds with Sea Salt and Rosemary

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of raw almonds
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh rosemary, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F).
  2. Place all ingredients into a mixing bowl and toss well.
  3. Lay almonds onto a baking sheet.  Bake for 8-10 minutes.

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A Few of my Favorite Things

Another post to declare my love for all things to do with ground beef, turkey, etc.  Huge meatballs filled with bacon, onion, sundried tomatoes, and mushrooms.

Bacon Meatballs

Makes 8

Ingredients

  • 1 lb of ground turkey, 93/7
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 oz baby bella mushrooms, chopped
  • 6 sundried tomatoes, chopped
  • 4 strips of uncured bacon, chopped
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper
  • Tomato sauce
  • Grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F).
  2. In a large skillet over medium to high heat, add chopped bacon pieces.  Cook for 4-5 minutes.  Add onions, garlic, mushrooms, and sundried tomaotoes.  Saute for an additional 4-5 minutes.  Remove from heat and let cool.
  3. In a mixing bowl, add ground turkey and cooled ingredients from skillet.  Mix well.  Note that the mixture will be a little wet, since there are no breadcrumbs in this recipe to soak up the juices (traditional recipe calls for bread crumbs).  Once cooked, this will be okay, but the meatball rolling process will be a little messy!
  4. Using your hands, roll mixture into meatballs (whichever size you’d like).  For the purpose of this recipe, I made large meatballs, a little bit smaller than the palm of my hand.  Place meatballs onto a baking sheet.
  5. Bake in oven for 15-20 minutes.  When there are about 2-3 minutes left, top each meatball with tomato sauce and a little bit of grated parmesan cheese.
  6. Remove from oven, let cool for a few minutes, and enjoy – this is fantastic on its own or atop some spaghetti squash.

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A Love for Winter Vegetables

I love, love, love winter vegetables… Beets, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and my new favorite — Parsnips.  I picked up a bag of them at Trader Joe’s the other week, in search for a new vegetable to try.  This was perfect in this simple crock pot recipe.  It tasted really similar to potatoes!

Pot Roast

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1.5 lbs chuck roast
  • 8 oz baby carrots
  • 4 parsnips, peeled and chopped
  • 1 can of beef broth (14.5 oz)
  • Bacon fat (or olive oil)
  • Sea salt
  • Black Pepper
  1. Season chuck roast with sea salt and black pepper.
  2. In a large skillet, over high heat, add bacon fat (or cooking oil of your choice) and sear each side of the roast for about 4-5 minutes on each side.  It will get smoky in the kitchen, but it’s worth it as this process really seals in the flavors of the meat!
  3. Place the chuck roast in the crock pot, along with the carrots and parsnips.  Pour the beef broth over the roast and veggies.
  4. Cook on low for 8 hours.

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Meals on a Budget

Living life on a budget seems to be a modern trend these days.  We’re always trying to find the best deal or comparing prices to determine which store will yield the highest amount of savings.  (Or maybe this is just me?)

I’m not a crazy coupon clipper, but access to deals in this wonderful technology world have changed drastically.  We’ve got access to amazing deals through Groupon, Living Social, Jetsetter, Gilt, One King’s Lane, etc etc (And YES, I have an account with all of the above.  In fact, you should too since it doesn’t cost you anything to sign up).  Aside from browsing the daily deals from these websites, there’s always the browsing of the good ol’ weekly ads.  Heck, that’s the one thing that I look forward to the most when I wake up on Sunday morning!  Firing up the iMac, cup of joe in hand, and checking out the local grocery store ads and Target to help me plan for the week.

I am a strong believer in “If you realllllllllly want it, then just get it, regardless of price”.  We work hard for the money that we earn and we should be able to enjoy it, within reason though.  That’s why it’s important to check out these deals and weekly ads to help save money where possible!  And as a side note, who even shops for clothes at retail price anymore?  Marshall’s & TJ Maxx to the fullest – Hello!!!

This recipe features our Valentine’s Day dinner.  A delicious and scrumptious meal on a budget.  Stew Leonard’s is a local grocery store in the area and has such fresh produce, dairy, baked goods… everything is fantastic!!  This past week, lamb chops were on sale for $5.99/lb (usually $10.99/lb) and cauliflower was on sale for $1.49/head (usually $2.99/head).  So, the total cost of our romantic meal for two was $13; plus we had leftovers for lunch the next day.

Grilled Lamb Chops

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs of lamb chops
  • Olive oil
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper
  1. Season lamb chops with sea salt and black pepper.
  2. In a large skillet over high heat, drizzle olive oil, place lamb chops onto pan and sear each side for 4 minutes.
  3. Once both sides achieve a nice golden color, reduce the heat to low, and cover pan.  Let lamb chops cook for an additional 5-7 minutes, or until cooked through.
  4. Serve with rice, pasta, or mashed cauliflower.

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A Twist on a Classic Filipino Dish

What do you do when Mother Nature dumps nearly 3 feet of snow on your front door? You cook, bake, and eat!  (After you’ve shoveled, of course…)

Yes, we got hit hard by the blizzard dubbed “Nemo” in the Northeast.  Thankfully, we don’t get crazy blizzards like this every winter, but when we do, all of us New Englanders wonder “So, why the heck do we still live here?!?!?!?”

After what felt like endless digging outside, we retreated to the couch with a marathon of Downton Abbey, and frequent visits to the kitchen.  Eating, munching, cooking, tasting; a perfect lazy Saturday afternoon.

Tonight’s dinner is a twist on the Filipino dish, chicken adobo.  It has very similar flavors (as you can see, the ingredients are nearly identical), except I’ve used a combination of balsamic and sherry vinegars, and added California golden raisins and mushrooms.

Vinegar Braised Chicken & Mushrooms

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs of organic chicken drumsticks, bone-in (approximately 8 drumsticks)
  • 16 oz baby bella mushrooms, halved
  • 1/2 cup of balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup of sherry vinegar
  • 14 oz of chicken broth
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 6 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 3 bay leaves
  • Bacon fat (or olive oil)
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper
  1. In a large pot (or dutch oven), over high heat, melt bacon fat, and add onions and garlic.  Saute until the edges are brown.
  2. Season chicken generously with sea salt and black pepper.  Add chicken to the pot and brown for about 5 minutes on each side.  You don’t want to cook the chicken, but rather just achieve a nice and crispy golden brown color.  Remove chicken from pot and set aside.DSC02279
  3. Add mushrooms to the pot and cook for about 7 minutes, until tender.  Remove all ingredients (mushrooms, onions, and garlic) from pot and set aside.DSC02281
  4. Place pot back onto the stove top over medium to high heat.  Add balsamic and sherry vinegar to the pot, stirring and scraping off any browned bits from the pot.  Add chicken broth, raisins, bay leaves, and the reserved chicken, mushrooms, onions, and garlic to the pot.  Bring to a boil, reduce to low heat, and simmer for 25 minutes.DSC02284
  5. Remove bay leaves prior to serving.




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It’s All About the Presentation

Bacon and eggs, mmmm…. Bacon and eggs altogether in one bite, double mmmm….

Bjorn: Wow, why such a fancy breakfast today?

Me: Fancy, but so simple and easy to make!

Bacon and Egg Muffins

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 4 strips of uncured bacon
  • 4 eggs
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper

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  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees (F).
  2. In a medium skillet over high heat, pre-cook the bacon for about 3 minutes on each side.  Remove from heat.
  3. Pour a little bit of the bacon fat into each of the muffin tins; this will prevent sticking.
  4. Line the muffin tin with the strip of bacon, crack an egg in the middle, and season with sea salt and black pepper.DSC02264
  5. Bake for 10 minutes, or until cooked through.

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Chicken Breast can be fun, too!

Tonight was one of those nights where I had no idea what was for dinner…. until I opened up the fridge and found random goodies.  A few hours later, our tummies are satisfied and the fridge is a little less cluttered.  Hooray!

Orange Lime Grilled Chicken with Mango Avocado Salsa

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 2 boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 orange, juiced
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1/4 cup, olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon, cayenne pepper
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper

Ingredients (Salsa)

  • 1 mango, cut into chunks
  • 1/2 avocado, cut into chunks
  • A little bit of lime juice
  1. Mix orange juice, lime juice (save a bit for the salsa), olive oil, cayenne pepper, sea salt, and black pepper in a bowl.  Add chicken breasts and marinate for two hours.
  2. On a medium skillet, over medium heat, drizzle olive oil.  Add chicken breasts and cook 6 minutes on each side, or until cooked through.
  3. In a separate bowl, add mango, avocado, and a little bit of lime juice.  Toss well.

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The 3 F’s of the Holiday Season – Family, Food, and Feasting!!!

Ahhhhhhh, it’s been so long since I’ve posted!  The whirlwind of holidays, visiting family, and numerous hours in the kitchen prepping, cooking, and feasting has finally come to an end.  Back to work this week and getting re-adjusted to the normal life.

As we grow older, we begin to realize the true importance of the holidays.  It’s not about the gifts.  It’s not about the amount of money that you spend on a gift.  It’s interesting how we tend to believe that the more money you spend on someone, the more you love them?  Anyway, not to sound cliché, but the best part about this past holiday season was the time that we were able to spend with family.  Bjorn’s siblings visited from California and Texas, making an almost complete Bumactao household (missed dad!).  We only see them once every 1-2 years, so their visit was extra special.  And of course, we spent time with my family, who are all located in CT.

So, we’re making plans for holiday gatherings… the usual Christmas day brunch and white elephant gift exchange at our house with my family, but what to do with Bjorn’s family?  Being the planner that I am, I kept on bugging Bjorn for a definitive date/location for the Christmas gathering…  Finally, a few days before Christmas, we have the following conversation:

Me: So, have you spoken to your family?

Bjorn: Yep, I made an executive decision.

Me: Ok…

Bjorn: Dinner on Christmas eve.

Me: Okay, super!  At your mom’s, right?

Bjorn: No, at our house!!!

Me: **Silence** as I panic on the inside because this is merely days before Christmas and I haven’t planned ANYTHING! What to eat?  What do I need to buy at the grocery store? What’s easy to make?  How can I just use the oven to cook a majority of the items? Need to make a run to the liquor store.  Need to clean the house.  How will we divide and conquer?

Needless to say, it all worked out in the end. 🙂  I spent most of my day/early evening in the kitchen, but it was well worth it.  We had an amazing meal and enjoyed the rest of the night just hanging out, enjoying cocktails, playing board games (yes, no iPhone access for an hour!), and opening our secret santa gifts.

Here’s the star of the night…

Prime Rib Roast

Serves 12

Ingredients

  • 1 whole rib eye roast, bone-in, 8 lbs
  • Olive oil
  • Sea salt, 1/4 cup
  • Crushed peppercorns, 1/4 cup
  • Rosemary, 4 sprigs
  • Thyme, 4 sprigs
  • Minced garlic, 1/4 cup
  1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees (F).
  2. Cut rib eye roast in half (cooks more evenly in the oven).
  3. In a large skillet, over high heat, pan sear both halves in olive oil until nice and golden.DSC01928
  4. Prepare the ingredients for the rub.  Place the peppercorns in a plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin (or any other tool that will do the job). Strip the leaves from the rosemary and thyme sprigs.  Measure out the salt.  Mince the garlic.  Combine all ingredients into a bowl.DSC01927DSC01930
  5. Drizzle olive oil on the rib roast and pat on the dry rub.  Spread evenly and pat slightly to ensure that it sticks to the roast.053
  6. Place in oven for 30 minutes at 500 degrees (F).  Then reduce the heat to 350 degrees (F) and roast for an additional 20-30 minutes.  Use a meat thermometer to determine if the roast is cooked to your liking.  We love it medium rare, so I took this out of the oven when the internal temperature reached 145 degrees (F).  Remember that the roast continues to cook a bit even after you remove from the oven.
  7. Remove from oven and let the beautiful roast rest for 20 minutes before slicing and serving.DSC01933DSC01939