Gerard's Paella

This was my second time making paella and I thought I'd try a different recipe this time. I found this recipe after watching Bobby Flay's Paella throwdown and it was the winning dish. The flavor was quite tasty but I ran into some difficulty with the cooking method. Since the entire dish is cooked on the stove top I found all the ingredients at the top of the pot did not fully cook so I had to throw the whole thing in the oven for an extra ten minutes covered with the lid. But even then the rice on top didn't finish cooking. I was afraid the dish would dry out if I continued cooking it, so I cut my losses and ate around the "al dente" rice. While the flavor was good I think next time I'll use the cooking method from Cook's Illustrated paella instead. Therefore, the following is a hybrid of the two recipes taking the best of both worlds.

Gerard’s Paella
• 1/4 cup olive oil
• 1 1/2 head garlic, with cloves detached but not skinned
• 2 red peppers or piquillo peppers (cored, seeded and sliced)
• 1 lb chicken, preferably legs and thighs with bone in (I used skinless, boneless, breasts
• 1 lb Spicy Italian chicken sausage (I bought mine from Henry's Farmer's Market)
• 2 yellow onions, chopped
• 1 (16 ounce) can diced tomatoes
• 3 cups chicken stock (Imagine Organic Chicken Stock from Henry's)
• 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads, crushed
• 1 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika (Spanish)
• 2 cups short-grain rice (uncooked)
• 1/2 cup frozen peas
• 16 large shrimp (21/25 count)
• 2 6 oz lobster tails
• 2 lemons, cut into wedges, for garnish

Split lobster tails down middle and remove flesh and cut into bite size pieces. Season shrimp and cut lobster pieces with salt and pepper and refrigerate.
1. Heat the paella pan (or any large, flat bottomed saute pan) over medium-high heat, add olive oil, garlic and peppers season with salt and peppper. Saute peppers until peppers start to blister. Season with salt and pepper
2. Remove peppers, cut into 1 inch pieces and set aside.
3. Remove casing from sausage and add sausage to pan – season with salt and pepper and cook almost all the way through then set aside and cut into bite size pieces. Add chicken season with salt and pepper to pot and cook until golden.
4. Add the onions and saute until translucent.
5. Meanwhile, crush the saffron with the smoked paprika in a mortar and pestle and add it to the stock.
6. Add the sausage, tomatoes and the stock and reduce the sofrito base down for about a half hour.
7. Meanwhile, pre-heat oven to 350F and adjust oven rack to lower middle position. Taste the sofrito and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Stir in the rice, cover pot and transfer to oven; cook until rice absorbs almost all liquid, about 15 minutes
8. Remove pot from oven (close oven door to retain heat). Uncover pot; Add the bell peppers, peas and scatter shrimp and lobster over rice. Cover and return to oven; cook until shrimp and lobster are opaque, 15-20 minutes.
9. Finish dish with squirts of lemon and serve with lemon wedges.

Spanakopita Sliders

I've never had any success with Rachael Ray recipes and vowed never again to make one of her recipes. However this one seemed fool proof since it had a couple hundred positive reviews so I thought I'd give her one more shot. I'm so glad I did because these spanakopita sliders were FABULOUS!! New fav! Even better then the kefta - just barely. I thought nothing could top the kefta but lobster and I enjoyed these even more. They had more of a greek influence whereas the kefta was more middle eastern OR maybe we just liked them more b/c there's cheese in the filling. The great thing about this recipe is that it comes together fast. Even when I made my litle "test patties" I didn't have to add any seasonings - that was a first. You must try these burgers! I kept mmmmm-ing (Er, word?) to myself the whole time I was eating them. Not only are they delicious but they're so freakin' cute they'll instantly bring a :) to your face. Yummy in the tummy. ENJOY!

**We ate these with the grilled zucchini and tzatziki from our kefta dinner and they were the perfect addition to the sliders. I also seasoned the zucchini this time with the greek salad dressing and they were NUM!

Spanakopita burger
Adapted from Rachael Ray
3 servings

• 3 garlic cloves, minced
• 1/4 red onion small dice
• 7 ounces, frozen spinach, defrosted
• 3/4 tsp dried oregano, crushed in palm of hand
• 2 oz Greek feta, broken into crumbles
• 3/4 pounds ground turkey
• 1 tablespoon grill seasoning (recommended: Montreal Steak Seasoning by McCormick)
• 2 plum tomatoes, thinly sliced lengthwise
• Salt and pepper
• Mini Hawaiian rolls or you can find slider buns at Trader Joe's

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add a little extra-virgin olive oil and add the chopped garlic and chopped red onion and cook 5 minutes. Transfer the onions and garlic to a bowl to cool. Return pan to heat.
Wring the defrosted spinach dry by twisting it in a clean kitchen towel over your sink. Chop spinach and separate as you add it to the bowl with cool onions, garlic and season with 3/4 teaspoon of oregano. Add in feta crumbles then turkey and grill seasoning. Mix and form into little slider patties, 1-inch thick. Raise heat on pan to medium-high. Add patties and cook 4-6 minutes on each side.
Season the tomatoes with salt and pepper. Toast rolls, if you prefer.

Zucchini Couscous

The other night lobster and I had his family over and we served our new favorite dish Kefta...num! Since we had company over I made the meal a bit more fancy and served hummus and this couscous recipe. The hummus turned out okay but I can't really give an honest rating since I made an error with the directions again - surprise, surprise :D If you want to give it a whirl, you can find the recipe here. Others who have made the dish enjoyed it so I'll have to try again another day. But, this couscous dish was a nice side to accompany the kefta. It had a beautiful vibrant yellow hue from the saffron and had the tiniest bit of a lingering spicyness as well. I enjoyed it very much and it was nice to serve something completely different then the usual suspects - grilled veggies. With the leftovers, this would be a great meal in itself served over grilled fish.

Zucchini couscous
Adapted from Barefoot Contessa
6 to 8 servings

• 1 1/2 cups homemade chicken stock or canned broth
• 1 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
• 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
• 2 zucchini, small dice
• 2 cloves garlic, minced & 1/4 of a red onion, small dice
• 1 1/2 cups couscous (10 ounces)
• 1/4 cup chopped basil leaves
• 1/4 cup chopped parsley leaves

Bring the chicken stock to a boil in a small saucepan, and turn off the heat. Add the salt, pepper, cumin, and saffron threads and allow to steep for at least 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil and saute onions and garlic in pan. Add the zucchini and cook for 5 minutes, or until lightly browned. Do not overcook since the zucchini will continue to cook in the couscous mixture. Bring the chicken stock just back to a boil. Place the couscous in a large bowl and add the cooked zucchini. Pour the hot chicken stock over them. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and allow to stand at room temperature for 15 minutes. Add the basil and parsley. Toss the couscous and herbs with a fork, season with S&P and serve warm or at room temperature.

Momofuku's Compost Cookies and Pizookie

WARNING: There is a high amount of butter and sugar and I've learned that consuming raw cookie dough is highly addicting. Please proceed at your own risk.

Since I didn't start cooking until a few years ago I never really baked anything when I was younger. I had never heard of the concept of eating raw cookie dough nor fought with my sister over who got to lick the mixing spoon from making brownies. Er, maybe Koreans don't do that?!! This Korean ate raw cookie dough - and she liked it! Thank goodness I left most of the dough in the bowl and there was just a little left on the paddle of the mixer or else it could have gotten a little ugly around here.

Since I love all things salty and sweet I knew I had to make these cookies. I'd seen these monstrous cookies all over the Internet on various blogs and people were raving about how good they were. They take a bit of time to make but the recipe is fairly simple. The most difficult part is waiting for the dough to set before you can make them and pop them in your mouth. They're called compost cookies because you basically throw whatever scraps you have lying around your kitchen into them OR if you're like me, you deliberately go out seeking ingredients to put in them. I put a combo of Munchos potato chips, pretzels, wheat thins, chocolate and peanut butter chips, and a Heath bar.

I was a bit disappointed with the cookies considering all the rave around them but the pizookie and raw cookie dough were sublime. For some reason the cookies didn't have as strong of a salty sweet taste as I would have liked. Most of the flavors kinda got lost and I couldn't distinguish one flavor from the other. Perhaps I needed to use more of a salty potato chip rather then a wheat thin...boooo! Oh well, at least the pizookie made up for it. I think since you bake the pizookie until it's just underdone the sweetness comes through much more then when it's fully cooked. The contrast of the hot cookie and the cold ice cream was soooo goooood. But then again, that combo would be good with any cookie recipe I suppose not just these. Well, if you don't try this particular recipe at least you'll know how to turn your favorite cookie into a pizookie.

Momofuku's Compost Cookies
Adapted from here
Yield: 15 6oz cookies

1 cup Butter
1 cup Sugar
3/4 cup Light Brown Sugar
1 tbs corn syrup (I omitted this)
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
2 Large Eggs
1 3/4 cups AP Flour
2 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Baking Soda
2 tsp Kosher Salt
1 1/2 cups Your favorite baking ingredients!
(I used 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, 1/2 cup peanut butter chips, one Heath bar)
1 1/2 cups Your favorite snack foods (chips, pretzels, etc)
(I used 3/4 cup pretzels, 1/4 cup Munchos, 1/2 cup wheat thins)

In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream butter, sugars and corn syrup on medium high for 2-3 minutes until fluffy and pale yellow in color. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl with a spatula.

On a lower speed, add eggs and vanilla to incorporate. Increase mixing speed to medium-high and start a timer for 10 minutes. During this time the sugar granules will fully dissolve, the mixture will become an almost pale white color and your creamed mixture will double in size.

When time is up, on a lower speed, add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix 45-60 sec just until your dough comes together and all remnants of dry ingredients have incorporated. Do not walk away from your mixer during this time or you will risk over mixing the dough. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl with a spatula.

On same low speed, add in the hodgepodge of your favorite baking ingredients and mix for 30-45 sec until they evenly mix into the dough. Add in your favorite snack foods last, paddling again on low speed until they are just incorporated.

Using a 6oz ice cream scoop, portion cookie dough onto a parchment lined sheetpan.

Wrap scooped cookie dough tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of 1 hour or up to 1 week.

DO NOT BAKE your cookies from room temperature or they will not hold their shape.

Heat the conventional oven to 400F. (350F in a convection oven)

When the oven reads 400F, arrange your chilled cookie dough balls on a parchment or silpat-lined sheetpan a minimum of 4" apart in any direction.

Bake 9-11 min. While in the oven, the cookies will puff, crackle and spread.

At 9 min the cookies should be browned on the edges and just beginning to brown towards the center. Leave the cookies in the oven for the additional minutes if these colors don't match up and your cookies stills seem pale and doughy on the surface.

Cool the cookies completely on the sheet pan before transferring to a plate or an airtight container or tin for storage. At room temp, cookies will keep fresh 5 days. In the freezer, cookies will keep fresh 1 month.

*I used a 1/4 cup measuring cup and got HUGE cookies. Baked at 400F for 15 minutes

For pizookies
Adapted from here
2″ ramekins (or other small baking dish)
Vanilla Ice Cream
Preheat oven to 375° F (350° for convection ovens)

1. Fill ramekins 1/2 way deep with raw cookie dough. Place ramekins on sheet pan and put in middle rack of oven. Bake 15-18 min., or until top starts to turn golden brown. (remember you want them slightly undercooked, but not too doughy, basically still a little soft when you touch them)

2. Remove from oven and place each ramekin on a napkin (this allows you to hold the hot dish as you eat your dessert delight.) Top with a couple scoops of ice cream.

*Mine took 16 minutes

Veggie Burger

I've been feeling very inspired in the kitchen lately and have been on a cooking rampage - as you can tell. I've gotten some phone calls from my friends asking, "Is EVERYTHING you make good?! When are you going to make it for me?" Now, I don't want to be known as the girl who cried, "num num" about every dish I make and discredited in anyway, but everything I put on this blog really is that good. Since I live to eat, I ABSOLUTELY LOATHE when I make anything that turns out like crap. Therefore I scour the Internet for only the best recipes. And since I don't like to make the same thing twice, I'll only post about things that I'd make again and again because they were that good or have a lot potential to tweek and become GREAT. Mind you, I've had plenty of my shares of disasters, I just choose to spare you from all the disappointments that come out of my kitchen. Like that disgusting apple chutney that still haunts me to this day. Of course it had to have happened when I had guests over...lovely. So I hope you'll continue to read the Num Num and make many of the dishes that come out of this blog...the whopping five of you that follow me through my cooking ventures :)

Anyway on to the burgers. Per request of the lobster we had veggie burgers tonight. These were a nice change from our regular meat burgers and were healthy to boot. Since they were made with garbanzo beans the taste and texture are similar to what would happen if a falafel married hummus. We topped these patties with roasted red peppers, alfalfa sprouts for some crunch and slathered the bread with a garlic, lime, and cilantro aioli which packed an extra punch from the raw garlic flavor. They were quite tasty and made a nice, light dinner.

**You can revamp these burgers anyway you likey. You can turn them Indian by adding curry and garam masala or make them Asian and spicy by adding garlic, ginger, and scallions with a Sambal Oelek (spicy chili-garlic) or Sriracha aioli. The variations are endless!!

Veggie Burger
Adapted from 101 cookbooks
4 servings

1 can garbanzo beans(chickpeas)drained and rinsed
1 roasted red pepper
1 jalapeno
2 large eggs (I would try with one egg next time)
1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
3 tbs chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 onion, chopped
Grated zest of one large lemon
1/2 cup alfalfa sprouts (optional)
1/2 cup toasted (whole-grain) bread crumbs
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil (or clarified butter)

Split peppers in half, de-seed and broil cut side down for 12 minutes. Place in zip-lock bag. Seal and let steam for 15 minutes until you can easily peel the skin off the peppers. Reserve red pepper for topping burgers and place jalapeno, garbanzos, eggs, and salt in a food processor. Puree until the mixture is the consistency of a very thick, slightly chunky hummus. Pour into a mixing bowl. Sautee onion and let cool then add to mixing bowl along with cilantro, zest, and sprouts and mix to combine. Add the breadcrumbs, stir, and let sit for a couple of minutes so the crumbs can absorb some of the moisture. At this point, you should have a moist mixture that you can easily form into four 1 1/2-inch-thick patties.
Heat the oil in a heavy skillet over medium high, add 4 patties, cover, and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, until the bottoms begin to brown. Flip the patties and cook the second side for 7 minutes, or until golden. Remove from the skillet and pop under broiler if you want them more crispy. Place on bread and top with roasted red pepper and aioli sauce.

**Cook these in a hot smokin' cast iron skillet and they get a great sear and become nice and crunchy
**You can also opt out into making these into burgers and just eat them as patties with the aioli.

Garlic, Lime, Cilantro Aioli
1/2 garlic
1/8 cup Mayo and 1/8 cup Sour Cream (I used more sour cream)
Lime Juice
Minced cilantro

Put mayo and sour cream in bowl, add grated garlic some lime juice, about a tablespoon of cilantro and salt to taste. This is more of a method rather then exact ingredients. I just eyeballed the ingredients and seasoned to taste.

Whole Wheat Apple Muffins

Don't you hate it when you buy an ingredient for just one dish and you don't know what to do with the leftovers? I had some buttermilk left over and thankfully found this recipe. As I skimmed over the list of ingredients I had everything I needed to make these muffins. Buttermilk, check. Apples, check. Must be a sign! Must be meant to be! These muffins were light, fluffy, super moist, and had just the right amount of sweetness. With every bite you get a warm, sweet cinnamony apple which reminds you of an apple pie. You can enjoy them for breakfast or do what I did and eat them for dessert with ice cream - so versatile they are. As an added bonus it really doesn't matter what kind of apple you use since these muffins spend such little time in the oven. Enjoy!

NOTE: As usual I forgot to read the directions and dumped the entire 1/2 cup of brown sugar into the mixture and missed out on the streusel topping. Oh well, just another reason to make them again. Hmmm...I still have more buttermilk and apples in the fridge ^_^

Whole Wheat Apple Muffins
Yield: About 18 muffins.
Adapted from King Arthur Flour

1 cup (4 ounces) whole wheat flour
1 cup (4 1/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt (I used sea salt)
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 cup (1 stick, 4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature*
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 cup (8 ounces) buttermilk or yogurt
2 large apples, peeled, cored, and coarsely chopped
Preheat the oven to 450°F. Grease and flour 18 muffin cups and set aside.
Mix together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon, and set aside. In a separate bowl, cream the butter and add the granulated sugar and 1/4 cup of the brown sugar. Beat until fluffy. Add the egg and mix well; stop once to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl.Mix in the buttermilk gently until just blended. Mixture will be lumpy and runny (If you over-mix, the buttermilk will cause the mixture to curdle.) Turn mixer switch to stir and slowly add in the dry ingredients. Fold in the apple chunks.
Divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups, sprinkling the remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar on top. Bake for 10 minutes, turn the heat down to 400°F, and bake for an additional 5 to 10 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Cool the muffins for 5 minutes in the tin, then turn them out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

*UPDATE: I swapped out half the butter for unsweetened apple sauce (the entire container) and did not miss any of the extra fat. This time I also made the streusel topping but still liked the original version better with all the brown sugar in the mix.
**I only had a 12 cup muffin tin so I baked the rest in a loaf pan at 375F for 15-18 minutes.
**Mine took only an additional 5 minutes after turning the heat down to 400F

Oven Baked Potato Chips and cheese sammies

Yesterday's leftover biscuits made the perfect holding vessel for an AMAZING ham and grilled cheese sammie. What could be better then ham, sweet roasted tomatoes, and blue cheese sandwiched between a buttery, flaky biscuit filled with bacon and cheese?? NOTHING! I knew the biscuits had potential...I knew it!!! They just needed to be filled with the right ingredients.

Oven baked potato chips served along side were a delicious treat. Making your own potato chips serves as a great blank canvas to make whatever flavors your heart desires. We seasoned ours with garlic salt, Caribbean spices, black pepper and Cajun seasonings. They were nice, crunchy and spy-say! The sammies and potato chips made the perfect lunch. Now I must to the gym :(

Cheese sammies

...happy belly :)

Oven baked potato chips - 2 servings
3 Russet and/or sweet potatoes
Garlic Salt
Caribbean Spices (360 brand)
Cajun Spice Mix

Pre-heat oven to 450F. Place oven racks on top and bottom one third of oven. Using a mandoline slicer, hold potatoes at a 45 degree angle and slice potatoes 1/8". Try to make slices same size. Using two baking sheets Spray PAM on bottom of baking sheet and sprinkle with spices. Spread potatoes in one even layer, not overlapping and spray again with Pam and top with more spices. Place baking sheets on top and bottom rack in oven and bake for 10 minutes. Remove sheets, flip potatoes over and move top baking sheet to bottom rack and vice versa and bake for ten more minutes. Watch potatoes very carefully towards end since cooking times may vary since they can burn very quickly. Potatoes are done when they feel hard and crispy. Pop under broiler for a minute or two if they do not crispy enough, but watch them VERY CLOSELY.

Assembling sandwiches:
Using Cheddar, Chive and Bacon biscuits, split biscuits in half using a serrated knife. Using a grater shave Roquefort blue cheese or Gruyere on both sides of the sandwiches. Place a few slices of ham and tomatoes on one side of the sandwich and top with other half of biscuit. Place biscuits on a baking sheet in 375F oven and roast for 15 minutes till cheese melts and top of biscuits are nice and toasted. Half way through baking, push the tops of the biscuit down to squish the sammies down a bit. By double baking the biscuits it changes the texture and makes them a little crunchy which we liked better.

Bacon, Cheddar and Chive Biscuits

I was going on a hike with my sister today so I thought I'd make us an energizing meal. I figured since we were "working out" we needed to fuel our bodies. In case you were wondering, yes cheese does give you more endurance :) and we can always use a little more calcium in our diet.

I thought these biscuits were pretty good. I was hoping for my "happy dance" reaction after I took my first bite but they were just "good." Although that didn't stop me from eating 1 1/2 of them :D They were not dense at all and tasted nice and light. This is a good starter recipe to tweek and make your own. Next time - and there will be a next time - I would and add some diced green chiles and use a stronger cheese, perhaps parmesan or gruyere.

Note: I was inspired to make some McDonald McMuffins so we made these into biscuit sammies and ate them with eggs and slow roasted tomatoes. Here's a good tip to make your eggs have the signature round look of a McD's mcmuffin. Make a frittata and cut the egg into round circles using a biscuit cutter.

Cheddar, Bacon, and Fresh Chive Biscuits – 308 calories
makes 6 large biscuits
Recipe by the Bon Appetit Test Kitchen

• 3 thick cut bacon slices
• 1 3/4 cup + 2 tbs cups bread flour
• 3/4 tablespoons baking powder
• 3/4 teaspoons baking soda
• 3/4 teaspoons table salt
• 1/4 tsp pepper
• 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
• 1 1/4 cups (packed) coarsely grated sharp cheddar cheese (about 12 ounces)
• 2 1/2 tbs chopped fresh chives
• 3/4 cup + 3 tbs chilled buttermilk

• Position rack just above center of oven and preheat to 425°F. Line heavy large baking sheet with parchment paper. Cook bacon in heavy large skillet over medium heat until crisp and brown. Transfer bacon to paper towels to drain, then chop coarsely.
• Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in processor; blend 5 seconds. Add butter cubes. Blend until coarse meal forms, about 30 seconds. Transfer flour mixture to large bowl. Add cheddar cheese, fresh chives, and chopped bacon; toss to blend. Gradually add buttermilk, stirring to moisten evenly (batter will feel sticky).
• Using lightly floured hands, drop generous 1/2 cup batter for each biscuit onto prepared baking sheet, spacing batter mounds about 2 inches apart.
• Bake biscuits until golden and tester inserted into center comes out clean, 16 to 18 minutes. Brush biscuits lightly with some melted butter. Let cool 10 minutes.

**Although the recipe calls for 3 slices of thick cut bacon, I used 3 slices of regular bacon and thought it could use more "bacony" flavor. Next time I would use six slices.

Kefta Stuffed Pita Pockets and Greek Salad

Today marks my 100th blog entry! Wow, I can't believe I've made 100 different dishes. Now I don't feel so bad when I look at my long laundry list of recipes I have yet to attack. So to celebrate, I made a recipe that I've had my eye on for a while now and what better occassion then for my 100th blog post. Ooooh and let me tell you, this dish did not disappoint. It was GOOD! So good in fact that it's going to be classified under NuM NuM, which is the hall of fame of the NuM Num - just in case you were wondering.

The inspiration for this meal came from a dish that lobster and I love eating at a restaurant near our house. The exotic spice mixture used in this recipe makes the meat so flavorful. There's a nice suprise at the end of each bite from the cayenne which gives a little heat in the back of your throat which is unexpected and makes it so fun to eat. This smelled sooooo good when I was grilling it on the dalmation. The smell alone had me hooked! We stuffed the meat into pita pockets along with some greek salad, grilled zucchini, and topped it off with tzatziki sauce. Each bite was loaded with a melody of flavors and it was THE BOMB! The lobster enjoyed this equally as much. After the first bite he said, "damn that's good!" I'm so glad I made a lot since we have plenty of leftovers for tomorrow. You know its NUM when you can't wait to eat leftovers the next day.

**The salad was really good too. I could've just ate that on its own.

Kefta and Zucchini Kebabs
Adapted from Gourmet Magazine in 1980
4 servings

For zucchini:
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup olive oil (we used about half of this)
2 medium zucchini (1 1/4 lb total), cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices

Prepare zucchini: Whisk together lemon juice, sugar, salt, pepper, and oil in a large bowl and stir in zucchini slices. Marinate at room temperature while making meatballs.
**We seasoned the zucchini with olive oil, salt and pepper

For kefta (meatballs)
2 slices firm white or wheat sandwich bread, torn into small pieces
1 small onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
1/4 cup loosely packed fresh parsley leaves
1/4 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves
1 lb ground turkey
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 egg white

Make meatballs: Cover bread with water in a bowl and soak 10 minutes. Squeeze handfuls of bread to remove as much excess water as possible and put in bowl of food processor. Add onion, herbs, bread crumbs, salt and spices and pulse until finely chopped. Place mixture in bowl with meat and egg white and mix with hands until well blended. Form turkey mixture into logs and put on skewers. If meat feels too flimsy and won't stay on the skewer broil instead of grilling.

Grill zucchini and turkey on oiled grill rack, turning over once, until golden and just cooked through, 4 to 6 minutes.

Greek Salad
Adapted from Barefoot Contessa
2 servings

• 1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, and sliced 1/4-inch thick
• 1/2 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved OR cut and remove seeds of vine
ripened tomatoes into 1/4-inch slices
• 1/4 red onion, sliced in half-rounds
• 1/4 pound greek feta cheese, (crumbled)
• 1/4 cup total of parsley and mint, chopped
• Romaine lettuce, chopped

For the vinaigrette:
• 1 cloves garlic, minced
• 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
• 1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard (I always end up adding 1/4 tsp more)
• 1/8 cup good red wine vinegar
• 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (I add just a sprinkle more)
• 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• 1/8 cup good olive oil

Place the cucumber, tomatoes red onion and herbs in a large bowl.
For the vinaigrette, whisk together the garlic, oregano, mustard, vinegar, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Still whisking, slowly add the olive oil to make an emulsion. Pour the vinaigrette over the vegetables. Add the feta and olives and toss lightly. Set aside for 30 minutes to allow the flavors to blend. Just before serving toss with lettuce and more dressing. Serve at room temperature

Stuffing the pitas: Cut each pita in half. Once the turkey is done cooking, slice each log in half and slice each half lengthwise so the pita is easier to stuff. Add the salad, grilled zucchini, tzatziki, opened wide and scarf it down.


Guacamole is the perfect appetizer to serve for any occasion - especially when you're lounging around watching sports. I've made it in the past but have never made it using a mortar and pestle. After making it this way, I must say I will never go back to my old method again. Mashing the ingredients to a paste really enhances all the flavors throughout the guacamole and gives it lots of flavor. Chili powder is not a common ingredient in guacamole but I liked the extra kick it gave along with the jalapeno. Enjoy!

Guacamole - 3 servings
1 clove garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, seeded, minced (I only removed the seeds for half)
2 tbs minced red onion
Juice of half a lime
4 Haas avocados
1 vine ripened tomato, seeded, diced
Kosher salt
Chili powder
2 Pita bread

Using the pestle mash the garlic, jalapeno, onion, salt and lime juice to release their juices and make into a paste. Cut avocado in half and remove pit. While holding avocado make 1/2 inch dice using the tip of a knife and then spoon out flesh with a spoon and place in the bowl with the other ingredients. Continue method for remaining avocado. Season to taste with salt, pepper, chili powder and more lime juice if needed. I like it spicy so I used lots of pepper.
**Guacamole will develop flavors longer it sits.

Pre-heat oven to 375F. Cut pita bread into eight wedges. Spray with PAM and seasong with S&P or to be really fancy, Lawry's Garlic Salt. Toast for nine minutes until brown and crispy. Watch carefully for last couple minutes since they can easily go from brown to burnt.

Salmon Burgers with Soy Mayo and Sesame Slaw

My nephew came into town so I thought I'd make a healthy dish and served up some salmon burgers. We had the entire clan over and feasted on a ton of food. As you can tell lobster and I have been on a fish cooking frenzy lately. I love eating fish but I rarely cook it at home for some reason. But from now on, times are a changin'!! There will be many more seafood recipes on the Num Num and to kick things off right, these salmon burgers were delish! The salmon burgers on their own were pretty good but once you eat it with all the other components together it takes them over the top. Everyone at the table enjoyed them as well because it was pretty quiet and all you heard were a lot of oooh's and mmmms :)

Salmon Burgers with Soy Mayo and Sesame Slaw
Makes 6 burgers
Photo and recipe from here

Salmon Burgers
2.5 pounds salmon fillet, skinned, pin bones removed
2/3 cups panko (Japanese bread crumbs) or other dried bread crumbs
1/3 cup minced scallions
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
2 2/3 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 1/3 teaspoon sambal oelek chili paste
1 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons soy sauce

Using a sharp knife, cut the salmon into 1-inch pieces and transfer to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the fish is finely chopped. (Take care not to overprocess or salmon will become a paste.) Transfer to a mixing bowl and add the panko, 1/3 cup of the scallions, 2 tablespoons of the cilantro, minced ginger, egg, sambal oelek, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and 2 teaspoons of the soy sauce. Using a rubber spatula, mix gently but thoroughly to combine. Divide the mixture into 6 even portions and shape into patties about 4 inches wide and 3/4 inch thick. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate while you prepare the mayonnaise and slaw.
**I added a couple more tablespoons of soy sauce, salt and some Tony's Creole Seasoning to add more flavor

Soy Mayo
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup mayonnaise OR substitute 1/2 the amount with greek yogurt

In a very small saucepan combine the remaining soy sauce and the sugar and cook until reduced to a syrup, 2 to 3 minutes. The soy-sugar mixture should coat the back of a spoon. Set aside to cool completely. When cooled, add 1 1/2 tablespoons of the soy glaze to the mayonnaise and refrigerate until ready to serve the burgers.
**I ended up adding more of the soy-sugar mixture until I was happy with the taste

Sesame Slaw
3 cups shaved purple cabbage
3 cups shaved green cabbage
1/2 cup shaved red onion (thinly slice and soak in ice water for ten minutes stirring once or twice if it is a strong tasting onion)
1/3 cup thinly sliced scallions
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
2 tablespoons peanut oil
3 tablespoons unseasoned rice wine vinegar
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
Couple pinches of sugar (optional)
6 sesame rolls or other soft hamburger buns, for serving

Combine the purple and green cabbages, remaining 1/3 cup of scallions, the red onion, 2 tbs of the peanut oil, rice wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons cilantro, sesame oil, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and crushed red pepper, and toss thoroughly to combine. Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle with the toasted sesame seeds. Season with more salt if needed and add couple pinches of sugar if slaw tastes too acidic. Refrigerate while you prepare the burgers. Try to prepare the coleslaw a few hours in advance so the flavors meld together. The longer it sits, the better. Just before serving taste again and adjust seasonings.

To prepare burgers:
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. When the oil is hot, add the burgers to the skillet and cook, turning once, until golden brown on both sides and the salmon is just cooked through, about 3 1/2 minutes per side. Serve the salmon on warm buns, garnished with the soy mayonnaise and the sesame slaw.

Lemon Bars

To celebrate Easter I made lemon bars. I gave up desserts for lent so it was an extremely looooong forty days. Therefore, I must make up for lost time. These lemon bars were the perfect blend of sweet and tangy. No need to search for another recipe, this one's definetely a keeper. NUM!

Lemon Bars
Adapted from The Joy of Cooking

For the crust:
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup powdered sugar
pinch salt
12 Tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

For the filling:
6 large eggs
3 cups sugar
zest of 1 lemon
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. lemon juice (about 5 lemons)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
Confectioner's sugar, for dusting

Sift the flour, sugar, and salt into a large bowl. Using two knives or your fingertips (recommended) cut in the butter until the mixture is the size of small peas. Press the mixture into the bottom of a 9" by 13" baking pan, and about 3/4" up the sides of the pan to keep the filling from leaking during baking.

Bake at 325 degrees for about 20 to 30 minutes, until golden brown. Set aside to cool.

To make the filling (you can do this as you are baking the crust), whisk eggs and sugar together until well combined. Add the zest and juice; whisk well. Sift the flour over the top and stir until well blended. Pour filling over the cooled crust. Bake until set, about 30 to 35 minutes. (They should be slightly jiggly.) Let the pan cool completely before cutting into bars. Dust with confectioner's sugar, if desired.

Blackened Fish Tacos with Mango Jicama Salad

Blackened fish

I must tell you about these amazing tacos!! Mexican food and I never really got along but if Mexican food tasted like this, I would eat it all the time...ALL THE TIME! These are not your greasy, fatty, full of lard kind of tacos. Oh no, these are made with fresh tilapia fish and kicked up a notch with a spicy blackened rub, tangy corn and topped off with a sweet and salty salad. With all those flavor combinations, it literally is a party in your mouth...makes you want to do the happy dance. These tacos are not only delicious, but they're healthy for you too. I hardly used any oil and flavored the corn with non-fat plain greek yogurt instead of creme fraiche. I know it sounds weird to cook with yogurt - I thought so too, but the flavor wasn't as strong and tangy as I thought it would be. It just added an extra element to the dish. I also learned a cool trick from another blog and made some hard taco shells too. You simply put however many tortillas you want to eat and wrap them in a damp paper towel and zap them in the microwave for 30 seconds. Once they're pliable put them in a pre-heated 450F oven and slide out the middle rack. Then drape the tortilla between two grates and bake until they become nice and hard and they'll turn out just like the ones in the photo.

Lobster was going nuts over these tacos too. At one point we were almost fighting over one of them and I thought I was going to have to take him out and stab his hand with my fork.

I served these with a grilled corn salad, grilled onions and stuffed them inside the taco shells too. Also make sure you squirt some lime over the top of your tacos because it adds a nice bit of freshness and really makes them POP!! Next time I would also serve these with black beans, rice and pico de gallo to round out the meal. You must try these! Hope you enjoy them as much as we did.

Fish Tacos with Mango and Jicama Salad
Adapted from Cooking Light March 2009
Serves 4

3/4 cup (3-inch) julienne-cut peeled jicama
1/2 cup sliced peeled ripe mango
1/4 cup sliced red onion
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon sugar (may not need sugar if mango is ripe)
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley
1/4 teaspoon salt
dash of black pepper

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and adjust seasonings to taste.

Blackened Tilapia Fish
Adapted from all recipes

1 pound tilapia
1 tablespoon paprika
2 teaspoons dry mustard
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt
1 tsp garlic powder

1. In a small bowl, mix together paprika, dry mustard, cayenne pepper, cumin, black pepper, white pepper, thyme and salt; set aside. Rub fish all over with spices so every bit of the fish is seasoned. Heat a heavy cast iron pan on high heat until extremely hot, about 5 minutes. Sear and cook fish on both sides until opaque and flaky which will probably be a few minutes per side.

To prepare soft tacos preheat oven to 250 degrees and wrap a stack of tortillas in a damp paper towel in a casserole dish and cover with a lid. Place in oven for 20 minutes.

Adapted from Bobby Flay

• 2 ears fresh corn , husk on
• Canola oil
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 2 tbs to 1/4 cup non-fat plain greek yogurt
• 1/2 lime juiced and zested
• 2 teaspoon ancho chili powder
• 1 tbs chopped fresh cilantro leaves
• 2 tbs crumbled feta or cotija cheese

Pre heat oven to 350F. Place corn on sheet pan and roast for thirty minutes or heat an outdoor grill to high and grill corn until charred on all sides, 10 or so minutes. Remove from the oven and remove the kernels with a sharp knife. While you are cutting the corn, put a cast iron skillet on the grill to heat.
Add the corn and the remaining ingredients to the hot pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until creamy and heated through.

**For this recipe I eye-balled most of the ingredients and seasoned for taste. I ended up using a lot more chili powder, salt and cheese.