1. Ooey gooey salted caramel brownies

    These brownies are a complete delight!

    I have to share the recipe because they always impress. 

    They’re ooey & gooey.

    & the caramel makes them chewy. 

    I highly recommend making & sharing with others. It works well for a small wine night gathering with friends. They’re great for picnics in the summer. Or even bringing to work & sharing with co-workers- easier to coerce others to help you when you have a plate of these bad boys around. 

    It’s not an original recipe, but it’s too good not to share. 

    Ooey gooey salted caramel brownies

    Makes a 9 x 13 pan

    Ingredients

    • 4 oz. high-quality unsweetened chocolate
    • 12 Tbsp. butter 
    • 1½ cups sugar
    • 3 large eggs
    • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
    • 1 cup all-purpose flour
    • ½ tsp. kosher salt plus ¼ tsp. to sprinkle over batter
    • 1 cup (7 oz.) Werther’s Original Chewy Caramels, cut into small pieces (or other soft caramels)

    Directions 

    1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and line a 9 x 13–inch baking pan with parchment paper.

    2. In a microwave-proof bowl, melt the chocolate and butter together. Remove the bowl from the microwave and stir slowly to combine.

    3. Stir in the sugar. Add the eggs and vanilla and stir. Then add the flour and ½ tsp. salt; stir until combined.

    4. Fold in the caramel pieces.

    5. Pour the batter into the pan and spread with knife to level it. Sprinkle the remaining ¼ tsp. salt over the surface.

    6. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

    7. Let cool on the counter overnight. Cut into squares.

    *when transporting use wax paper between brownie layers to prevent them from sticking together. 

    Recipe from by Gale Gand in Chicago Magazine

     


  2. Mango, avocado, black bean and chicken bowl

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    I like love mangoes & I’m glad they’re going to be back in my life for the next several months. I love the sweet, bursting with flavor, sunshine-y fruit [I’m in need of anything sunshine-y at the moment]. I love when mangoes are ripe & juicy. I’m also a fan of the vibrant golden color of a ripe mango. The flavor pairs so well with other foods too- other fruits, curries, coconut, lime, savory foods, chili pepper…

    Have you ever seen the Seinfeld episode called the Mango? Just me? Okay. It’s a good one.

    This mango, avocado, black bean and chicken bowl is a fresh meal that can be served over rice or made into a salad. I’ve done both.

    It’s doesn’t involve a lot of prep. I even like to let the flavors get together & hang out over night. They taste great together then next day.

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    Mango, avocado, black bean and chicken bowl

    Ingredients

    • 2 fresh mangoes, peeled, pitted and diced
    • 2 avocados, scooped & diced
    • 2 chicken breasts, baked & shredded
    • 1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
    • 1/2 red onion diced
    • 1 1/2 tablespoons honey
    • 2 limes, juiced and zested
    • 1 teaspoon, chipotle pepper puree- buy a can of chipolte peppers & use the puree OR you can use Sriracha
    • ~1/2 teaspoon sea salt
    • 1/4 cup olive oil
    • 4 cups of cooked rice/or other grain OR ~6-8 cups fresh spinach/salad greens

    Directions

    Peel and pit mangoes. An easy way is to peel mangoes with a potato peeler. Then slice the mangoes up. The pit is wide and thin.

    Peel, scoop and dice avocados. It’s easy to slice in half, take out the pit. Scoop with a spoon and dice up.

    Shred baked chicken breasts. I baked two boneless chicken breast with 1 tablespoon of oil, sprinkled with salt and pepper about 30 minutes. Until cooked through. Let the chicken cool and shred.

    Combine olive oil, honey, sea salt, chipotle pepper puree and lime juice in a bowl. Whisk together.

    Top rice or salad with diced mangoes, avocados, black beans, shredded chicken and diced red onion. Drizzle dressing on top.

    Enjoy.

    Makes 4 servings.

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  3. Ginger sesame glazed edamame

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    This snack is truly addicting.

    I’m always a fan of your simple straight forward edamame, but last spring when we were in Hawaii, we were introduced to a version of this. I have not been able to get it out of my head since.

    I finally attempted it last night for some friends. It was a good decision. It was so hard to stop my hand from grabbing for more. The sweet and spicy flavors of the thick glaze coating is all I could ever ask for in life.

    Ginger sesame glazed edamame

    Ingredients

    • 3-4 cups edamame [in the shell]- I bought them ready to serve from Trader Joes
    • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
    • 1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
    • 1 clove minced garlic
    • 1 1/2 tablespoons sesame oil
    • 4 tablespoons soy sauce
    • 4 tablespoons water
    • 1/2-1 teaspoon sriracha or you can use red pepper flakes
    • 2 teaspoons sesame seeds

    Directions

    If you don’t have ready to serve edamame, boil the edamame and drain it.

    In a skillet, heat sesame oil over medium heat. Add in ginger and garlic.

    In a small bowl, combine soy sauce, water, sriracha and brown sugar. Whisk together.

    Add sauce to skillet, cook over medium heat until sauce starts to thicken. Stir well to avoid sauce from burning.

    Add in edamame and sesame seeds, coat the edamame with the sauce.

     


  4. Creamy broccoli + pea risotto

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    Happy Spring! The weather should be getting warmer soon. Emphasis on should.  I love the thought of longer days & nicer weather.  I also love the transition of foods and dishes too. 

    This dish is perfect for the weather we are experiencing in Chicago right now. I’d say, the weather is confused. This dish is a nice juxtaposition of hearty and light. The creamy, rich risotto is balanced with the fresh flavors of the broccoli and peas. It has the lightness from added lemon that brightens it up. Risotto does require a little more thought and caress that some other dishes, but the outcome is really worth the extra care. 

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    Creamy broccoli + pea risotto

    Ingredients

    • 2 heads of broccoli chopped up into florets, should be about 2- 2 1/2 cups chopped
    • 1 cup peas, fresh or frozen. If you’re using frozen, make sure peas are thawed.
    • 3/4 cup Arborio rice
    • 4 cups chicken broth- can use 3 cups chicken broth + 1 cup of white wine
    • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
    • 1-2 tablespoons, butter
    • 1/2 medium white onion, diced
    • 1 clove minced garlic
    • juice 1/2 lemon
    • ~1/4 cup parmesan cheese, fresh, grated/shaved
    • salt and pepper to taste

    Directions

    In a skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add minced garlic and broccoli florets.  Saute and slowly stir in 1/2 cup of chicken broth and sprinkle with salt and pepper for flavor. Cook until broccoli is bright green and tender- about 4-5 minutes. Set broccoli aside. 

    In skillet, add 2 more tablespoons olive oil and butter. Heat over medium heat. Add in diced onions. Saute until translucent. Add in arborio rice.Ensure that rice is coated with the olive oil/butter mixture.

    Add in 1/2 cup of chicken broth to the rice and onion mixture. Stir well.  Once liquid is absorbed, add in another cup of broth. Repeat this twice more, until broth is gone.

    When the risotto is creamy and thick, stir in broccoli florets and peas. Add a handful of fresh parmesan and stir in well. Add in lemon juice. Add salt and pepper for flavor.

    Before serving, sprinkle with fresh parmesan.

    Serves 4-6

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  5. Incredibly easy coconut macaroons

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    There are limited number of ingredients in these cookies. The directions are simple.  Both win-wins. Whip up the egg whites & the other ingredients to the bowl, mix them up, plop them on the baking sheet, let them bake & voila!

    The recipes for macaroons are abundant. Some include flour, some don’t. Some include sweetened condensed milk, some don’t.  These don’t have either, so if you follow a gluten free diet- here’s a sweet option.

    I even know someone who has proclaimed that he is not a “coconut person” that went back for seconds and thirds.

    Incredibly easy coconut macaroons

    Ingredients

    • 1 1/2 cups shredded coconut, unsweetened
    • 3 tablespoons agave nectar [if you don’t have any-use table sugar]
    • 3 egg whites
    • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt

    Directions

    Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

    Whip egg whites until stiff. Combine in coconut, vanilla, salt, and agave nectar.

    Measure out 1 tablespoon mixtures and place on a greased baking sheet or a line baking sheet.

    Bake for 18-20 minutes until lightly browned.

    Makes 15-18 macaroons.

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  6. Seared tuna, avocado + quinoa

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    Life has been busy- school, work, chores, pshh! With St. Patrick’s day and being married to a very Irish boy, I was looking forward to posting a recipe about Guinness beef stew  & the Irish soda bread I made last week. Both were tasty & I guess you’ll just have to take my word for it- & now you’re wondering, without documentation, did it even happen?!  

    Here is a recipe I completely adore. I love the fresh avocado & seared tuna. I love the combination of textures… the quinoa always has a bit of a crunch, the smooth avocado, the bite of the red onion topped off with a touch of savory sesame oil. It’s fairly easy to prep. The tuna is a quick sear on both sides- a minute on each side.  It’s also incredibly satisfying with the protein from the tuna & quinoa & lots of good fats. 

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    Seared tuna, avocado + quinoa

    recipe adapted from Ina 

    • 1 1/2-2 pounds fresh tuna steak, cut about 1 inch thick
    • 2 avocados, diced into 1 inch cubes
    • 1/3 cup red onion, diced
    • 1/3 cup scallions, sliced thinly
    • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
    • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
    • 2 limes, zested and juiced
    • 1 teaspoon sriracha
    • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
    • sea salt & freshly ground pepper for seasoning
    • 1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa

    Directions

    Prepare quinoa and set aside.

    Heat a pan on the stove. Brush tuna steaks with ~1 tablespoon olive oil. Sprinkle with sea salt and fresh ground pepper. In a very hot pan, sear tuna steaks. About 1 minute on each side. Set aside.

    Cut avocados. Dice onions and slice scallions.

    In a small bowl, combine 3 tablespoons olive oil, sesame oil, lime juice, lime zest, soy sauce, and sriracha.

    Cut the tuna into about 1 inch cubes.

    Combine tuna, avocados, red onions, scallions over the cooked quinoa. Pour dressing over the mixture and carefully mix.

    Serves 4-6

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    I also serve it over greens for a lighter meal [that’s my lunch today].

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  7. Smoky white bean + ham soup

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    We’ve been getting mighty comfortable at home lately. We’ve been cooking more & staying warm inside. It’s nice to have a pot of soup on the stove that’s been simmering all day. It’s nice to have for leftovers for the busy week, or to keep it in the freezer to pull out on a moments notice.

    This smoky white bean + ham soup really hits the spot on a cold day. Last week, Chicago got hit with some snow. It kept coming all day long. It was nice to come home to warm myself with this soup. Pair it with some crusty bread. And here’s to hoping the cold days left for the season are numbered.

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    Smoky white bean + ham soup

    Ingredients

    • 2 smoked ham hocks
    • 2 quarts chicken stock/broth
    • 2 cans white beans, drained
    • 1 medium onion, diced
    •  3/4 cup/ 2-3 large carrots, diced
    • 3/4 cup/ 2-3 stalks celery, diced
    • 2 russet potatoes, peeled and diced
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 2 bay leaves
    • 3 cloves garlic, minced
    • 2 tablespoons parsley
    • pinch of cayenne pepper [optional]
    • salt and pepper to taste

    Directions

    In a large soup pan, heat olive oil. Cook carrots, celery, onion and minced garlic on low/medium heat.

    When onions are translucent, add in chicken stock, white beans, ham hocks, bay leaves, potatoes, and parsley.

    Heat and let simmer for 1-2 hours. Ham meat should pull away from the bones easily. Remove the ham hocks from the pot. Take a tongs and fork to pull  & shred ham meat off bones. Discard the skin. Replace ham meat to the pot. Remove bay leaves.

    Serve with bread.

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  8. Thai chicken quinoa bowl

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    This was Sunday supper. It’s worthy of rave reviews. Ryan asked to bring some for lunch the next day, and he hates eating left overs.

    It’s How Sweet Eat’s Thai chicken quinoa bowl [do you read this blog? She’s pretty amazing.] The sauce/dressing has a lot of flavor- sweetness from the coconut mixed the the peanut butter & chili sauce. I added in some soy sauce because go figure, I thought it was almost too sweet. The textures! Crunchy, crispy. We steamed the carrots because someone doesn’t like raw carrots.

    The whole meal was delicious. It’s certainly protein packed which prolongs the satisfaction. We even added a scrambled egg too.

    Thai chicken quinoa bowl

    recipe from How Sweet Eats

    Ingredients:

    • 1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
    • 2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
    • 2/3 cup chopped carrots
    • 2/3 cup shelled edamame
    • 1/3 cup sliced scallions
    • 1/3 cup chopped peauts
    • 1/4 cup freshly chopped cilantro [optional because I don’t care for cilantro]
    • 2 scrambled eggs, cooked and chopped up [optional]

    Sauce ingredients

    • 4 tablespoons sweet chili sauce
    • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
    • 2 tablespoons canned coconut milk
    • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
    • 2 teaspoons peanut butter
    • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
    • 1 teaspoon sriracha
    • 2 garlic cloves
    • 1 lime, juice
    • 1/4 teaspoon fresh grated ginger

    Directions

    Cook quinoa as directed. Set aside.

    Cook chicken. I baked two boneless chicken breast with 1 tablespoon of coconut oil, sprinkled with salt and pepper about 30 minutes. Until cooked through. Let the chicken cool and shred.

    Optional- scramble two eggs & chop up. Set aside in small bowl.

    Chop vegetables. Set aside.

    In a small mixing bowl, combine sauce ingredients.

    In a larger mixing bowl, combine quinoa, chicken, eggs, vegetables and sauce. Mix well.

    Top with chopped peanuts and green onions.

    Serves 4.

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  9. Sweet potato streusel muffins

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    Muffins are a great to have on hand. You can eat it for breakfast, but they have just enough sweetness to satisfy an afternoon craving.  These muffins are a complete delight. The spiced sweet potato flavor is reminiscent of a the sweet potato casserole served at Thanksgiving dinner. They’re the cat’s meow. Get your hands on some sweet potato to make them. I used coconut oil, but if you don’t have any on hand, feel free to substitute with canola oil.  Add a sprinkle of the crumbly streusel & you’re good to go. You won’t be disappointed.

    Sweet Potato Streusel Muffins

    Ingredients

    • 1 1/4 cup mashed sweet potato- I steamed sweet potato cubes to retain nutrients for 10-15 minutes, then mashed well
    • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
    • 1/3 cup coconut oil
    • 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
    • 2 eggs
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

    Streusel topping

    • 1/4 stick butter- 4 tablespoons
    • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
    • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
    • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt

    Directions

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

    In a large mixing bowl, combine mashed sweet potato, eggs, coconut oil, and sugar.

    Slowly mix in flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice.

    In a separate bowl combine streusel topping ingredients: butter, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt. Mix well until crumbly.

    In a greased or lined muffin pan, pour batter until muffin cups are about 3/4 full. Sprinkle with streusel topping.

    Bake for about 25 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean.

    Makes about 10-12 muffins

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  10. Magic Green Beans

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    We made Stephanie Izard’s magic green beans last night & what a treat.

    They’re steamed in a fish sauce vinaigrette, and you top with an aioli made from the initial vinaigrette. You add in some crunch with the cashews. The sauce is salty & acidic. They’re truly addicting.

    I added more detail from the original recipe because it lacked specifics. We actually made these two nights in a row. We found they were definitely better when we blanched the green beans first.

    Give it a shot. Make you own magic green beans!

    Stephanie Izard’s Magic Green Beans

    recipe via

    Ingredients

    • 1 1/2 pounds green beans, trimmed
    • 5 oz fish sauce
    • 4 oz lemon juice
    • 2 1/2 oz soy sauce
    • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
    • 3/4 teaspoon sriracha (I used a full teaspoon)
    • 3-4 cloves of garlic
    • 4 oz oil [I used olive oil]
    • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
    • 2-3 shallots, thinly sliced
    • 1/4 cup cashews

    Directions

    In a mixing bowl, combine fish sauce, lemon juice, soy sauce, Dijon mustard, and sriracha together. Transfer to a blender. Add in garlic cloves & emulsify with oil.

    Take 3-4 tablespoons of vinaigrette and combine with 1/2 cup of mayonnaise to make aioli. Set aside.

    Blanche green beans in a large sauce pan of boiling water. Cook beans for 3 to 4 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain beans and immediately plunge them into ice water. Let the beans sit in ice water for 3 minutes or until cool. Drain well and set aside.

    In a saute pan, heat a small amount of oil- about 1 tablespoon. Add in green beans and shallots. Add enough vinaigrette to cover the green beans [I used about 1/2 cup]. Let the green beans cook in sauce about 4-5 minutes. Sprinkle in cashews when green beans are close to done.

    Drizzle with aioli and serve.
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