Friday, January 28, 2011

Shrimp? Sure!

So, the holiday heyday and subsequent aftermath is finally coming to a close. Time to get back on track. Time to burn more calories, consume less, and try not to sacrifice all sense of culinary joy in the process.

The good news? It's definitely possible. Healthy eating doesn't necessarily equate to bland, boring eating. For me, it's all about lean but flavorful ingredients and smaller portions. Shrimpy portions, actually!

Shrimp has always been one of our favorite quick and easy protein choices. It's incredibly versatile, low in fat, and most importantly...delicious! We use shrimp in all sorts of dishes, from these mini-tostadas to Greek-inspired pita wraps with tzatziki sauce.

Today, we got a good deal on a pound of jumbo shrimp (I know, what an oxymoron...jumbo shrimp) so we kept the flavors simple since the big ones are so succulent. Ryan marinated them in olive oil, lemon zest, garlic, and S&P. After he roasted them at 400 (with the shells on--our favorite method for cooking them because it keeps them juicy and flavorful), he finished them with a bit of lemon juice, olive oil, and fresh dill.

Served atop a bed of whole wheat couscous with some sauteed asparagus on the side, shrimpy portions never tasted so good!

What dish do you turn to when you need some tasty, lighter fare?

Happy Searching,

p.s. I had to immediately put the extras in the fridge for fear that my portion size would jump from shrimpy to jumbo. We all have our battles, right?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Five Stars for Five Spice Pork

One of the most recognizable flavors in Asian cooking is probably Chinese five spice. If you don't recognize the name, you would probably recognize the taste--the flavor is not shy and is used in several Asian dishes.

Five spice is comprised of (cleverly enough) five spices: star anise, cloves, cinnamon, szechuan pepper, and ground fennel. Sometimes, it can be a bit overpowering. But these five spiced-pork chops we had the other night? Stood right up to the bold flavors and made my taste buds hum with delight.

The full menu included five spice-pork chops with a cilantro-jalepeno cream sauce, hash browns, and spicy sesame green beans.

The pork chops were lightly rubbed with five spice, S&P, then seared over medium-high heat in some olive oil to get a crispy crust. After being finished in the oven (because they were seriously thick), they got topped with a luxurious cilantro cream sauce (cilantro, jalepeno, garlic, green onion, white wine, cream).

Let me just say that I wish I had a plate of this in front of me right now. Five stars!

What are some of your favorite, go-to spices? Do tell!

Happy Searching!

p.s. Interested in more specific recipe details? Leave a request in the comments section and we'll get 'em to ya!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

I Heart Carne Asada

In case you don't know how much I love (and miss) SoCal Mexican food, this post will bring you up to speed. Or I'll just tell you now. Mucho. I miss it mucho.

The best carne asada burrito I've ever had is from El Portal in San Diego. So, thankfully, Ryan and I were able to snag some nostalgia in the form of two giant carne asada burritos during our visit to San Diego over Christmas. Unfortunately, the picture doesn't come close to doing them justice. (I was much more concerned with eating my burrito than photographing it at the time...the trouble with being a hungry girl).

The burritos at El Portal are fabulously balanced with just the right amount of fresh guacamole, pico de gallo and lean meat, all wrapped tightly in a homemade tortilla. El Portal's meat is what really steals the show, though. It's chargrilled, full of flavor, and incredibly tender. Holy smokes, I could eat some right this second.

And did I mention that these burritos are big? HUGE. I mean, as big as your head. Really! Here's some perspective:

This photo went up with much dispute (I'm sorry, Senor Blake) but it's really the only way to show just how gigantic these burritos are. Normally, a burrito this size would have a little bit of meat, a lot of rice, and some salsa and fixings. At El Portal? Almost all meat. Carne asada, you are my numero uno.

Happy Searching,

Thursday, January 20, 2011

My Favorite Meal

There really isn't a time when I don't enjoy eating. Just woke up? Starving. Back from a jog? Immediately famished. Sick? A snack usually always makes me feel better. Choosing my favorite meal time may appear to be challenging, but what would normally be a difficult decision is surprisingly easy. My favorite meal is brunch. It's the best of both breakfast and lunch. Genius.

In addition to the word itself (it sounds so bright and elegant and deliciously promising) and the fact that it's usually served on a weekend (relaxation), brunch offers several of my favorite things. Coffee? Yep.
Prefer champagne? (Who doesn't?) Check. Breakfast choices when your sweet tooth is flaring up (like French toast or pancakes)? Yup. Savory indulgences like Eggs Benedict smothered in hollandaise? You betcha.

A few months ago, we went to brunch at Enoteca Vespaio and enjoyed a relaxing morning of coffee, conversation, and brunchy bites.

We were both feeling more savory than sweet, even though I was tempted by the bread basket served with Nutella and marmalade. Ryan ordered the Croque Madame, a classic French version of a ham and cheese sandwich. Gruyere cheese and smoky ham, baked until golden bubbly and then topped with two perfect eggs. Mmmmmm.

I settled on the poached eggs with spinach, roasted tomatoes and brown butter hollandaise and was not disappointed. Fresh spinach, intensely flavored tomatoes, golden yolked-eggs cooked to perfection. The side of carmelized onion homefries alone were worth the price of admission. Yum. And the brown butter hollandaise? I seriously considered licking it off the plate.

Truthfully, Ryan's looked prettier (hence the pic), but mine tasted better. Both were good, but mine was awesome.

The next time we have a hankering for a bistro brunch, we plan to head back. I've already got my eye on the pressed prosciutto, fontina, arugula, and truffled egg panino. Doesn't that sound amazing?

Ahhh, brunch. Where are your favorite spots?

Happy Searching!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Resolution Rings

Ahhh, it's good to be back. New year. New ideas. New resolutions. Wait, what?!?!

No, one of my resolutions isn't to gain 30 pounds. Quite the opposite, in fact. But when life hands you onions, you make onion rings. That's right. Homemade, sweet, crunchy, onion rings.

Ryan whipped these up last night and they were sooooo light and crispy. They were 'magic' rings, disappearing quite quickly (sometimes after only a few seconds out of the fryer). The trick is to use club soda in the batter--the effervescence makes the batter super airy and light. If you're ever in the market for homemade rings, this recipe was da bomb (and surprisingly could totally get away with making them in a big pot if you didn't have a fryer). Five ingredients and an appetite--that's all you need!

Truth be told, we haven't started our New Year's Resolutions quite yet. I'm thinking we'll be digging in around the first of February. In the mean time, we have been enjoying our new ice cream maker, the deep fryer, and gluttony in general. (And a new camera to snap even more delectable shots of it all).

More posts to come!

Happy Searching,
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