Cravings Broccoli Salad with Cashew Dressing

She had me at cashew dressing.

This recipe is out of Chrissy Teigen’s 3rd cookbook, Cravings All Together and it’s a solid five stars. Instead of the traditional mayo dressing with bacon, which is obviously delicious, we make a dressing out of cashews to dress the broccoli. And the dressing is the star of the dish, it’s so good. It’s sort of like a satay peanut sauce but not… actually now that I think about it, I am going to make this dressing to dip chicken in.

It’s a little sweet, a tad spicy, crunchy, nutty and creamy an easy and delicious salad that almost hits all of the five flavor elements.

Plus it’s dairy and gluten free if that’s your thing.

INGREDIENTS (serves 4)

2 medium heads of broccoli, trimmed and separated into florets (about 6 cups)

Kosher salt

1 cup chopped salted roasted cashews

3 garlic cloves, smashed

1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

2 Tablespoon unseasoned rice vinegar

1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon finely diced jalapeño pepper (preferably red, with seeds)

2 teaspoons light soy sauce

1 teaspoon fish sauce

1/4 cup thinly sliced

1/4 cup sweetened dried cranberries

DIRECTIONS

Place 1 1/4 cups of water in a 5 quart saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the broccoli, cover with a tight fitting lid, and steam until broccoli turns bright green but is still tender-crisp, about 3 minutes. Drain and then spread the broccoli in a single layer on a paper towel-lined plate to cool. (Don’t place in an ice bath, that will create soggy broccoli) Season the broccoli with the salt.

While the broccoli is cooling, make the dressing. Combine 2/3 cup of the cashews with the 1/3 cup vinegar, sugar, jalapeńo, soy sauce and fish sauce in a blender until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute; add water by the dressing if it’s too thick.

Arrange the broccoli on a large plate or platter, then scatter the onions and cranberries on top. Drizzle 1/2 cup of the dressing over the broccoli, then scatter the remaining 1/3 cup cashews over the salad. Serve the remaining dressing on the side.

Spooky

We kicked off the spooky season with my first visit to Knott’s Scary Farm.

We went straight to an amazing looking roller coaster. The lights were all lit up and it looked like a boardwalk. The ride was so fun we did it multiple times. The downside, the exit took us into clown alley. Yes, I know that I am an adult, but I have an irrational fear of clowns…sigh, I am not proud. It took all that I had to not look them, even when they came running at me head on…Otherwise I would have cried.

We had a such good time, rides at night are just better. Parts of the park were very dark and creatures of all sorts would follow us around breathing down our necks and jump out at us. A lot of them had on shoes with metal taps so when they ran and slid at you, it made an awful sound..basically scaring the shit out of us at every corner we turned.

We were walking through a very dark area with fog machines clouding our path when we realized why so many people run in the wrong direction in horror films. You know how we scream at those idiots? Well, we were them…We had a hard time figuring out where we were and where we were headed. If was legit in danger, I would have just fell to the ground and succumbed to my death.

However, it was fun and definitely something to do again.

The girls had fun at the store trying on masks.

We hit the pumpkin patch and we made it easy on ourselves this year. We went to one in Temecula, gave the girls some money, grabbed a glass of wine, and hung out while they did all of the things. Petting zoo, panning for gems, snow cones and all of the other shit that is a waste of money.

We no longer buy our pumpkins at the actual patch which saves a lot of money. We just grab them at a local store on our way home, the girls don’t care.

Then we carve them and then they die. {the pumpkins, not the girls.}

Luckily we got a few photos of our artistry before they wilted 20 minutes later.

The next day we made Oreo bats and I realized that the girls are almost too old for these food crafts. They just want to eat the ingredients rather than create. However, I MADE THEM HAVE FUN!

These are super simple using only 3 ingredients.

Oreos, bite size Reese’s and candy eye balls. We used the oreo filling as the glue for the wings and the eyes. Pop them into the fridge for 10 minutes to set or don’t and just eat them right away.

I think they turned out cute!

The girls have their costumes and we are excited to take them out Monday night, and then go right home to inspect their candy! {aka take all the good stuff}

Just kidding, we will wait until they are in bed.

The One and Only Crab Cake Recipe

Ironically, two days after I post about the only crab cake recipe one needs, I see this on Instagram.

So…. I figured it was a sign from the chef’s to post this. Honestly it’s so easy and delicious, you won’t look back.

*Recipe from Chef Andrew Zimmern

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 large egg, beaten

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce 

1/2 teaspoon hot sauce

1 pound jumbo lump crab meat, picked over

20 saltine crackers, finely crushed

1/4 cup canola oil

Lemon wedges, for serving 

Homemade remoulade/tarter sauce or your favorite store bought brand.Walmart Logo

DIRECTIONS

In a small bowl, whisk the mayonnaise with the egg, mustard, Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce until smooth.

In a medium bowl, lightly toss the crabmeat with the cracker crumbs. Gently fold in the mayonnaise mixture. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Scoop the crab mixture into eight 1/3-cup mounds; lightly pack into 8 patties, about 1 1/2 inches thick. In a large skillet, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the crab cakes and cook over moderately high heat until deeply golden and heated through, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer the crab cakes to plates and serve with lemon wedges.

  • These can be made ahead, formed or not, for up to a day.

Cowboy Pasta Salad

This pasta salad is truly addicting. When I read the ingredients for the dressing, I wasn’t expecting it to be as good as it was. Creamy, tangy, sweet and as spicy as you’d like depending on if you’re feeding adults or children…or adult children.

The girls and I made this again at home. I went a bit heavier on the heat by also adding some cayenne pepper. I thought about adding some bacon, but honestly it’s good as vegetarian side dish.

We had it for dinner, it’s just as good as the first time.

The next day, I tore some arugula and added it to the pasta salad. I suggest trying this too!

Cowboy Pasta Salad

Ingredients

1 lb. bowtie pasta

Olive Oil

1/2 cup mayo

1/4 cup your favorite bbq sauce

1 tbs spicy brown mustard

1 tbs Worcestershire sauce

1-2 tsp of your favorite hot sauce

2 ears of fresh corn

2 cups cherry tomatoes

8 oz. cheddar cheese, grated

8 scallions, chopped

Salt and pepper, to taste

Arugula, if you want.

Directions

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook pasta per box instructions, drain in colander.

Put cooked pasta in a large bowl and drizzle with evoo, so the pasta doesn’t stick together, set aside.

Husk the corn and cut kernels off the cobs. Add corn to pasta.

Halve the tomatoes, add to pasta.

To make the sauce, whisk the mayo, bbq sauce, mustard, Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce in a medium bowl until combined. Add the sauce to the pasta, tomatoes and corn, toss to combine.

Finely chop the green onions, add to pasta. Top with the grated cheddar cheese.

Taste for salt and pepper.

Enjoy!

Pan Seared Salmon with Arugula and Avocado

Simple ingredients come together super quick in this recipe. The flavors of the peppery arugula, the buttery salmon and the acidic dressing, play very well together. Definitely a weeknight dinner to put on repeat.

I used Trader Joe’s Unexpected Cheddar in lieu of Parmesan, just because I wanted to. The addition of mustard to a vinaigrette acts as an emulsifier, and keeps the oil and vinegar together with a creamy consistency. Don’t forget to season your vinaigrette before dressing your greens.

Serves 2

Ingredients

2 Salmon filets, preferably wild

1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

2 cups baby arugula

1 tablespoons fresh juice from 1 lemon, plus wedges for serving

1 tsp Dijon mustard

crumbled parmesan cheese (or any sharp cheese that you prefer)

1/2 ripe Hass avocado, pitted and cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1/2 tomato, chopped

Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions

 Pat the salmon filets dry with a paper towel. Season on all sides with salt and pepper. Heat 1/4 cup olive oil oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add salmon filets skin side-down. Immediately reduce heat to medium, medium low depending on your stove. Cook, pressing gently on back of filets to ensure good contact with skin, until skin is rendered and crisp, about 6 minutes. If skin shows resistance when attempting to lift with a spatula, allow it to continue to cook until it lifts easily.

While the first side of the salmon cooks, whisk lemon juice, remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil and the mustard in small bowl until combined. Season with salt and pepper.

Flip salmon and cook on second side for another minute or two, or to your desired doneness. I like my salmon close to medium rare/medium at 125 to 130 degrees.

Plate the arugula and top with avocado and tomatoes, dress with the vinaigrette. Crumble on your chosen cheese, place salmon on bed of salad and serve with lemon wedge.

Enjoy!

*Double recipe for 4 servings

Lemon Talk

Our lemon tree is in full produce mode. I’ve always wanted a lemon tree for those moments when you randomly need a lemon but don’t have one. You know, maybe you decided to make a piccata dish or you wanted to make pesto. All you need is one lemon and clearly you don’t want to go to the store for one damn lemon, right? I used to visualize the neighborhood and picture which homes had lemon trees and then I may have helped myself to a lemon or two in a time of need (the tree would be in the front yard, I wasn’t hopping any fences you guys). Now that I have said lemon tree, I never have to buy lemons, but I’ve realized that I don’t use them very often.

The lemon tree was staring back at me probably wondering why I was neglecting it, I felt bad.

There is only so much you can do with an abundance of lemons. Lemonade, lemon bars, lemon cakes, lemon meringue pie, the list goes on. We still had cream cheese frosting in the fridge from Kaili’s birthday cake and I had puff pastry in the freezer, I didn’t see the harm in making lemon curd and then turn those three things into a lemon cream cheese danish.

This is the recipe I used to make the lemon curd.

INGREDIENTS

4 large egg yolks 

2/3 cup  granulated sugar

1 Tablespoon lemon zest (about 1 lemon)

1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (about 2–3 lemons)

1/8 teaspoon salt

6 Tablespoons  butter, softened

 If you have a double boiler then pull that out. If not, like me, simply place a small heatproof glass bowl over a saucepan of simmering water you will cook the curd in the top pot/bowl. Place on high heat. Once the water begins to boil, reduce to low heat to keep the water at a simmer.

Place egg yolks, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and salt into the top pot of your double boiler. Using a whisk, whisk until completely blended, then continue to whisk as the curd cooks. Constant whisking prevents the egg yolks from curdling. Whisk and cook until the mixture becomes thick, resembling the texture of hollandaise sauce, about 10 minutes. If curd isn’t thickening, turn up the heat and constantly whisk.

Remove pan from heat. Cut the butter into 6 separate pieces, then whisk into the curd. The butter will melt from the heat of the curd. Pour curd into a jar or bowl and place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top so it is touching the top of the curd. The curd will continue to thicken as it cools. Once cool, the plastic wrap can be removed.

This can stay in the fridge for about 10 days.

80’s in the House

Our USA mens national team qualified for the world cup. This is exciting, I mean, the fact that it was up in the air is depressing, but they did it. Now it’s only forward to Qatar.

We managed to watch a game at our local soccer bar which is always fun!

I also had a nice lunch with Uncle BK at the Michelin recognized Tuetano Taqueira in Old Town. The counter service restaurant has a large patio and the focus is on Birria. If you’re not familiar, Birria is stewed beef shoulder seasoned with cinnamon, cloves and chili’s, aka adobo, and it usually the plays a main role in a taco, or quesadilla. The restaurant is still trying to get it’s footing, but the food was delicious. A local magazine had an article praising the taqueira and highlighted their bone marrow birria taco, and yes, I ordered it.

The taco was full of deep flavor, rich and very messy. The liquid gold that is bone marrow added a layer of decadence to the taco. The tortillas, freshly made rounded the taco out, and were so good. But the scene stealer is their salsa matcha. More of a chili oil than a salsa, but you guys, it’s everything. I would have taken loads home, but the place is a work in progress, and something as simple as getting more napkins, which is very necessary when eating here, was a challenge. So I left the salsa slash chili oil behind, but I will be back.

We had an impromptu turnaround trip to Vegas. 80’s station, a favorite cover band of ours was finally playing after a long two years. So we made our towards Fremont Street for a Friday night of music.

We had the most delicious monkey bread at a restaurant in the container park. I tried to make it at home and it was a huge fail. This wasn’t a Pillsbury recipe you guys, and I don’t know what their secret is, but I will figure it out, probably going to have to go back a few more times to gather notes.

We ended the night listening to the 80’s station. We don’t need much to have the best time.

Vegas always delivers.

Cinnamon Applesauce Ornaments

This is a festive and easy activity to do for the holidays. Two ingredients, that’s it. These will make the house smell amazing and they make a great homemade gift.

INGREDIENTS

3/4 cup applesauce

4 oz. cinnamon

rolling pin

cookie cutters

glue

glitter various colors

straw

string

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 200°. Mix applesauce and cinnamon in small bowl until a smooth ball of dough is formed, your hands are the best tool for this.

I divided the dough amongst the three girls.

Roll dough to 1/4-inch to 1/3-inch thickness between two sheets of plastic wrap.

Peel off top sheet of plastic wrap. Cut dough into desired shapes

Make a hole at the top of ornament with a straw.

Place ornaments on baking sheet.

Bake for about 2 1/2 hours. Cool ornaments on a wire rack.

Once completely cool. brush with glue and decorate with glitter.

Wrap them up as a gift or hang on the tree.

Throwback but Better

This recipe for an updated tuna noodle cazuela {casserole} is ridiculously good. While I was at Trader Joe’s trying to not buy all of the new products, and just focus on my list, ha ha, I realized that I wasn’t sure what the original recipe for tuna noodle casserole consisted of. Obviously canned tuna and a condensed soup of some sort. A no skill required, long shelf life ingredients and comfort food all rolled into one dish. Probably originated in the what, the 1940’s? By someone who thought fish and cheese should go together, because, that is not a popular culinary pairing. I don’t remember my mom making this really… ever. She isn’t a big casserole person, aside from her amazing tamale pie. Anyhow, long story short, this version of tuna noodle casserole is just as easy and doesn’t require canned cream soup, you’ll thank me.

Since I have made this a handful of times, I decided to try a different shape of pasta. Let me tell you, this lily shaped pasta was a perfect fit for this creamy baked dish.

TJ didn’t have Piquillo peppers so I grabbed jarred roasted red peppers, they will do in a pinch. Other than that, instead of canned soup, we make our own roux, I added a little garlic and crushed red pepper because you know me. This is a simple and straight forward recipe for any night of the week.

Creamy Tuna Noodle Cazuela

*recipe adapted from Food and Wine

Ingredients

12 ounces farfalle (bow tie) pasta

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 medium onion, finely chopped

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour 

3 cups whole milk or half-and-half

1 1/2 cups frozen baby peas

3/4 cup piquillo peppers, sliced (6 ounces) *substitute jarred roasted red peppers

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

One 6-ounce can or jar solid white tuna in oil, drained and flaked

Salt and Pepper

1/2 cup panko bread crumbs

Directions

Preheat the oven to 450°. Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, melt 3 tablespoons of the butter. Add the onion (garlic and red pepper if you want) and cook over high heat, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the flour and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the milk and bring to a boil. Cook the sauce over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 3 minutes.

Add the pasta, frozen baby peas, sliced piquillo peppers, Parmesan cheese and tuna and season with salt and pepper. Transfer the mixture to a large baking dish, a cazuela (casserole dish).

In a small skillet, melt the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter. Add the panko breadcrumbs and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until golden, about 1 minute. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the casserole and bake for 10 minutes or until bubbling.

Serve right away. Pairs well with an Albariño or a good Chardonnay.

Spicy Beef with Peanuts and Cilantro

Our weekday dinners are planned ahead, some of the days the menu reads kid friendly and the other days have more inspiration behind it. Nights where I want to create something more complicated or technically challenging with bolder flavors and spice. Meaning the kids won’t eat it. So, half of the time we sit down at the table all together. Asking the girls about what they learned, and who got in trouble, kids always like to tattle, so that will get them talking. The other nights Shawna and I eat in the living room watching Jeopardy, where the girls are hanging out.

This recipe doesn’t fall under complicated, actually it’s quite easy to throw together, but it’s a tad spicy. So if you have children with more refined palates than ours, they might eat it for you.

*recipe adapted from https://www.nutmegnanny.com/spicy-beef-with-peanuts/

Spicy Beef with Peanuts

2 cups basmati rice

4 cups water

1 pound beef sirloin tips, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons sodium soy sauce

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 teaspoons fish sauce

2 teaspoons grated ginger

2 cloves garlic, diced or grated

1 small white or yellow onion, diced

3-4 teaspoons chile garlic paste

1/2 diced jalapeño (this can be omitted if you don’t want it spicy spicy)

1 lime, juiced

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 cup chopped roasted peanuts-a little extra if you want to garnish

1/4 cup minced cilantro-a little extra if you want to garnish

Salt to taste

Sriracha for garnish

Directions

In a sauce pan cook the rice according to package directions. Or, the way I do it. Heat a drizzle of oil in the sauce pan and stir in rice, let it get a little toasty and then add the water. Season with a little salt and a dash of sugar and the cook as the package suggests.

While the rice cooks, combine the sliced beef, soy sauce, brown sugar, fish sauce, diced onion, garlic, ginger, chile paste, diced jalapeño’s and lime juice. Stir and set aside.

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. When the pan is hot, add the meat and the sauce (everything in the bowl) to the skillet and cook, stir until meat is browned and the sauce thickens a bit. You can always add a little cornstarch slurry if you want the sauce thicker.

Remove from heat and stir in the chopped peanuts and cilantro, taste for seasoning.

Serve over your desired amount of rice, garnish with the extra cilantro and peanuts and drizzle with some sriracha.