Yellowtail & Tuna Poke Stack w/ Honey Miso

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Last week was a doozy. It was incredibly busy for me (hence no posts here, and I am so sorry for that). Work was insanely swamped and had several other obligations that allowed for zero fun. Not my favorite kind of week, generally speaking, but I have learned to accept the good with the bad. One of the extra incidental appointments included visiting our tax preparer, who’s office just-so-happens to be about 30 minutes away and near one of the best Japanese food markets in Southern California. It’s called Mitsuwa and practically every time we drive by this little mart, that Kris calls “Heaven”,  we stop in to browse the shelfs, peruse the fresh fish and seafood on display, and occasionally we will eat at the little food court hidden in the back of the store. Kris isn’t far-fetched to call it “Heaven”,  for we all know about his love for sushi. If sushi was all he was given for the rest of his life he would die the happiest man, and I wouldn’t blame him. I too share a mutual passion for Japanese cuisine and consider it to be one of my champion favorites. Hence, the trip up there required the habitual stop. For quite some time, I have not stopped thinking about how I have been wanting to make a poke stack to share with all of you. Eating sushi and fresh fish does not have to be restricted to your favorite sushi bar, you can make it at home and it takes little time to prepare. It requires a few staples, but once you have them you are on the road to becoming the at-home-sushi-chef you have always wanted to be! 

Here are some important notes about buying and preparing sushi-grade fish:

  • Bright-colored fish (dull or really dark or brown fish means fish is beginning to oxidize).
  • Try to buy the fish from a local Japanese market that sells fish that is meant to be eaten raw. Our local Japanese market, Mitsuwa, will ship the fish to your door overnight. Farmer’s markets will sometimes have local fishmongers who should know which fish is freshest for sushi. Grocery stores do not always carry fish that is fresh enough for sushi style eating (if this is your only option, make shrimp or tofu sushi, grocery stores will carry will what you need). 
  • Fish that doesn’t smell. A strong smell indicates the fish is old. Fish that’s smooth and firm to the touch, not slimy.
  • Fillets instead of steaks. Fillets are a better shape for slicing sushi.

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Yellowtail & Tuna Poke Stack w/ Honey Miso

Serves 2


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Total Time
25 min

Total Time
25 min

For the Honey Sesame Miso Sauce
  1. 1 TBSP white miso paste
  2. 1 TBSP soy sauce
  3. 1 tsp ponzu
  4. 1 TBSP seasoned rice vinegar
  5. 1 tsp chili garlic sauce (found in most grocery stores in the asian food aisle)
  6. 1 tsp honey
For the Sticky Brown Rice
  1. 1.5 cups cooked long grain brown rice (see note*)
  2. 1/8 cup rice vinegar
  3. 1 tsp canola oil
  4. 2 tsp cane sugar
  5. pinch of sea salt
For the Stack
  1. .75-1 lb sushi-grade fish (I used a mix yellowtail and tuna)
  2. 1 avocado, chopped
  3. 1 green onion chopped, green and white parts
  4. toasted sesame seeds (I used a combination of white and black)
  5. seaweed salad, optional
  6. soy sauce & sriracha, for serving
For the Honey Sesame Miso Sauce
  1. In a small bowl, whisk all ingredients together (making sure to break down the miso, honey, and chili garlic sauce) and set aside. Chop the fish into small cubes and place into a medium bowl. Pour the sauce over the fish and mix to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit in the fridge while you prepare everything else.
For the Sticky Brown Rice
  1. In a medium sauce pan, combine the rice vinegar, canola oil, sugar and salt and heat over medium until the sugar is dissolved. Add the fully cooked brown rice into saucepan and toss over the heat for about a minute (the rice will look wet at this point), cover and let sit for about 5 minutes. Remove the lid, and make sure the rice has cooled down (it should look less wet at this point), set aside.
  2. Assemble the stack: Using whichever plate you plan on serving the stack on, place a stainless steel ring-mold (see note*) in to the middle of the plate. Place about 1/4 cup of the sticky brown rice into the bottom of the mold and press with the back of a spoon (be sure you have enough to cover the bottom). Add half of an avocado, chopped, onto the rice and lightly press with the back of the spoon to ensure evenness. Top with the marinated fish and press again, lightly, with the back of a spoon. Pull off the ring mold and then top with green onions, seaweed salad, and toasted sesame seeds. Serve with more soy sauce and Sriracha if you like a little kick! Enjoy!
Notes
  1. I used Trader Joe’s bag of Fully Cooked Long-Grain Brown Rice. Feel free to use any long-grain brown rice of your choosing just be sure to yield about 1.5 cups of cooked rice.
  2. The ring-mold I used was 4″ wide and 2″ tall. Stainless steel ring-molds can be found at most kitchen stores as well as online. If you don’t have the time to buy one, a DIY mold is in your future (use a biscuit cutter, spring-form ring, a cut aluminum can, or even PVC pipe!). You could always layer this dish without a mold at all, it won’t have the visual height, but it sure will taste the same!
HONEYED HOME http://www.honeyedhome.com/

Healthy Caesar Salad w/ Crispy Capers

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Now that I am fast approaching the ripe age of 29, I have realized a few things about myself. I have been having a bit of a quarrel with my inner being and I have these moments when I forget who I am, or perhaps what I like, or what I really want. For example, when at the local coffee shop I often look at the menu like I have never seen it before and have no idea what I have a hankering for. Because I don’t like to hold up a line, I quickly decide on a hazelnut macchiato or some fancy warm drink that doesn’t suit me. All along, I wanted coffee. Just a cup of black coffee… simple and straightforward. I usually leave the shop with disappointment and regret. Why do I do this to myself? The other day, when Kris and I were celebrating a close friends birthday, he went to the bar to get us drinks, he asked me what I wanted and I could not make a clear decision. Did I want to be as I was in my early twenties, and get straight to the point with a beer and a shot of tequila? Was I feeling more mature with a Ketel One and Soda? Or should I stick to what I know I love, a glass of red wine? The options were haunting me! It was like I couldn’t decide which person I was anymore. I ordered the vodka-soda and sipped it down, but felt it never really hit the spot. I should have ordered the wine. These internal battles take the best of me! I made a conscious decision soon after to stop this chaos and embrace the fact that I actually do know exactly what I want. I will forever walk in to the coffee shop and feel completely ok with a black cup of joe, and then when out with friends, I will be throughly fine with a nice glass of cabernet. I have reached an age where I am happy to announce that I have wholly decided on certain things that I cherish and that I want to appreciate this exact moment. This is the purpose for this post in particular. 

If Kris were to order a salad, when we dine out, it will almost always be a classic caesar. He is a big fan of crispy and crunchy lettuce with a cheesy dressing. For me, I rarely choose this option. I hate that restaurant caesar salads are made with romaine lettuce. Sometimes, when my indecisive past-self, was faced with the decision on which salad to choose I would occasionally pick that fresh crispy romaine caesar, and the amount of times I experienced disappointment was perpetual.  I have this philosophy, that if the salad isn’t held up by any cruciferous or super green lettuces then it is somewhat wasteful and provides a lot of empty calories. This is why I love a good arugula, kale, or spinach salad as my starter. A salad where you can see the nutrients, literally. I decided that this does not have to be a “black and white” decision any longer. We can love a caesar salad for its tangy and creamy dressing, keep the classic crunch, and add vegetables that make it worth our while. That is why I love this recipe. The dressing is amazing, and quite possibly my favorite Caesar dressing I have ever tasted. It makes quite a bit so you will have a fresh jar on hand for about a week. The crispy capers and olive bread croutons add so much more texture than typical caesars require, so there will never be any mistakes/fails in future salad meals. Cheers to making decisions and openly declaring what we know we adore! I hope you enjoy this as much as we do in our home!

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Healthy Caesar Salad w/ Crispy Capers

Serves 4


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Prep Time
15 min

Total Time
15 min

Prep Time
15 min

Total Time
15 min

For the Caesar Dressing
  1. 2 TBSP whole-grain dijon mustard
  2. 2 TBSP red wine vinegar
  3. 1 TBSP balsamic vinegar
  4. 1 tsp worcestershire
  5. 3 garlic cloves
  6. 1 tsp anchovy paste (see note)*
  7. juice of 1 lemon
  8. 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  9. 1/4 cup fresh flat leaf parsley
  10. pinch of salt and pepper
  11. 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
For the Crispy Capers
  1. 1/2 cup capers, drained
  2. 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
For the Olive Bread Croutons
  1. about 1/2 of an olive bread baguette
  2. drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil
For the Caesar Salad
  1. 1 romaine heart, chopped
  2. 1 10oz bag “Cruciferous Crunch Collection” (see note)*
  3. a few shavings of a good Pecorino Romano cheese, for garnish
For the Caesar Dressing
  1. Combine all ingredients, except the olive oil, in the bowl of food processor or blender and pulse to combine. While the motor is running, slowly pour in the olive oil until it is emulsified and combined well. Set the dressing aside. (Store the dressing in an airtight container in the fridge for about ten days)
For the Crispy Capers
  1. Drain the capers from their juice in a fine mesh sieve. Place the capers between a few a paper towels to dry them well. In a medium sautee pan, add the oil and heat on high heat until almost smoking. Add the capers and fry them for about 3-4 minutes or until they begin to open up, like little flowers, and become crispy. Turn off the heat, and pour the capers and oil onto several layered paper towels on a plate, to drain the excess oil. Set the crisped capers aside.
For the Olive Bread Croutons
  1. Preheat oven to 350. I find that ripping the pieces from the baguette, instead of dicing into squares, yields more rustic looking croutons. The ripped up pieces of bread also get more dressing in all the little nooks and crannies. Rip up about half of one a baguette, drizzle with a bit of olive oil and bake in the oven for about 10-12 minutes or until desired crunchiness is reached.
For the Caesar Salad
  1. Combine the romaine heart and cruciferous greens in a large bowl and mix with your hands. Add the crispy capers and the olive bread croutons and pour as much or as little dressing as you like into the salad. Mix to combine with salad tongs. Top with a few shavings of the Pecorino Romano and serve immediately. (This salad does hold up pretty well, as the cruciferous veggies are pretty sturdy. I was still eating mine dressed from the fridge for another day!)
Notes
  1. Anchovy paste is what makes Caesar dressing so unique and it really gives a lot of flavor. I highly recommend that you use it. If you are vegan, it is ok to omit it, but do add a tiny bit more salt to taste.
  2. I love the bag of salad called “Cruciferous Crunch Collection” from Trader Joe’s. It has a mix of kale, brussels sprouts, broccoli, green cabbage, and red cabbage. I use the entire bag mixed with 1 chopped romaine heart. Please feel free to make your own combination if you cannot find this near you; I would substitute 2 cups shredded kale, 2 cups shaved brussels, 1 cup shredded red cabbage, 1 cup shredded green cabbage. You can add more romaine and less of the others if that suits you as well.
HONEYED HOME http://www.honeyedhome.com/

Maple Pecan Chocolate Chunk Cookies

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For my sweet Sarah: I honestly can not wait to see you marry the man of your dreams and to watch you walk down that aisle. You are going to be a stunning bride and I am so happy to be a witness to that and to have been your friend for all these years. You have grown into such a beautiful woman and I am so happy for all that you have become. Love you and can’t wait for the big day! 

It is funny how excited I become for this time of year. Spring time yields warmer weather and that ever-so-loved daylight savings time change. The days are longer and the sun begs to stay up for as long as possible. The Southern California girl in me couldn’t be happier. The other gift spring and summer give is wedding season. My schedule starts to pick up and the work load piles high; but I couldn’t be more honest in saying that I love it. I also have a few close friends tying the knot this year so not only will I be working weddings, but also attending! My dear childhood friend is getting married in May and in order to save time (and money!) she has asked some of her guests to contribute to a dessert bar; cookies, pies, etc… Of course I was more than willing to help and decided that I needed to embark on the perfect cookie recipe for her big day. I originally wanted to title these cookies “Maple Pecan Wedding Cookies” only because you should know that these little beauties are fancy and should be eaten for momentous occasions. I found this incredible Pure Maple Sugar at Whole Foods recently and have been itching to use it in a baked good, but have been holding off for the perfect opportunity. This sugar is not particularly cheap by any means and because it is a bit pricey, I decided that these cookies are elegant and are meant for impressing and awing friends. Now, don’t get me wrong, you are more than welcome to make these on a lazy Sunday afternoon, because after-all, who am I to say that we all don’t deserve a little lavishness every once in a while. Just know that the maple sugar adds incredible flavor to these cookies and is worth every penny for the splurge! The cookies are vegan, dairy-free and eggless, so feel free to get on in there and lick the spoon! I of course, had to add a bit of Maldon Salt to these babies because I can not get enough of that delicious salty/sweet combination. It is fabulously useful to purchase a good flaky finishing sea salt for your pantry stock. You will learn it makes all the difference in most dishes. Sometimes, a bit of extravagantness is necessary my friends. Enjoy! 

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Maple Pecan Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Yields 12


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Prep Time
5 min

Cook Time
14 min

Total Time
20 min

Prep Time
5 min

Cook Time
14 min

Total Time
20 min

For the “Flax Egg”
  1. 1 TBSP flaxmeal
  2. 1/4 cup warm water
Dry Ingredients
  1. 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  2. 1/2 cup almond meal
  3. 1 cup pure maple sugar (see note*)
  4. 1/2 tsp salt
  5. 1/2 tsp baking soda
  6. 1/4 tsp cinnamon
Wet Ingredients
  1. 5 TBSP coconut oil
  2. 1 TBSP organic maple syrup
  3. 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  4. 1/2 cup chopped pecan pieces
  5. 1/2 cup chopped semi-sweet chocolate chunks (option to use vegan chocolate)
  6. Maldon salt for sprinkling
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350. In a small dish, make the “flax egg”; Mixing 1 TBSP flaxmeal with 1/4 cup warm water, whisk with a fork and set aside for 5 minutes to sort of “congeal”. In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients, whisk with a fork to combine and break up the clumps. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and add in the flax egg. Fold in the chocolate and the pecan pieces. Using an ice cream scoop, for even measurements, scoop out the cookies onto a silpat or parchment lined baking sheet. Sprinkle the cookies with maldon salt and bake for 13-15 minutes. The edges should be golden brown but the insides not quite set. They will harden as they cool so be sure to under-cook rather than over-cook.
Notes
  1. Organic Pure Maple Sugar can be found at most health food stores. If you cannot find it, substitute 1/2 cup brown sugar and 1/2 cup cane sugar.
HONEYED HOME http://www.honeyedhome.com/

Herbed Bulgur Bowl w/ Roasted Broccolini & Crunchy Chickpeas

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I have to warn you…there are about four different recipes within this recipe. I have sort of made, what I would call, an epic combination of all of my favorite things. Not to worry, the entire dish comes together in about 45 minutes if you are starting from scratch. It isn’t at all arduous, but each component is so delightful it is worth the extra steps to fuse them all together into this legendary bowl. Yes, I just used the word legendary to describe my lunch. It is honestly one of the best salad medleys I have ever tasted. This is one for the books, people. The roasted broccolini is super simple to make, the recipe yields about three ingredients, and I often prepare it as a side dish with dinner. The dressing recipe is my go-to herb vinaigrette that is wonderful in any salad composed of some sort of whole grain (i.e. farro, quinoa, couscous, brown rice, millet, barley…). Oh, and the crispy chickpeas?? If you don’t always have a batch lying around in your house, then you are truly missing out on one of the most flavorful crunchiest snack. They are so worth the some-what long roast period that they demand for that crackling bite. Chickpeas are super healthy and a great way to get more fiber into your snack time munch. I put them on everything: salads, pastas, soups… and you can even make them sweet and put them on your favorite dessert! 

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Herbed Bulgur Bowl w/ Roasted Broccolini & Crunchy Chickpeas

Serves 4


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Total Time
45 min

Total Time
45 min

For the Crispy Chickpeas
  1. 1 15oz can Organic Garbanzo Beans
  2. 1 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
  3. 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  4. 1/2 tsp curry powder
  5. 1/4 tsp salt
  6. 1/4 tsp pepper
  7. 1/4 tsp cumin
  8. 1/4 tsp dried thyme
  9. 1/4 tsp chipotle chile powder, optional
For the Roasted Broccolini
  1. 16oz broccolini, stems trimmed off, cut into florets
  2. 2 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
  3. juice from a lemon
  4. 2 garlic cloves, minced
  5. 1/2 tsp salt
  6. 1/2 tsp pepper
For the Herbed Bulgur
  1. 1 8.8oz package Bulgur ( I buy the quick cooking kind from Trader Joe’s)
  2. 1 handful fresh basil
  3. 1 handful fresh parsley
  4. 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  5. zest and juice from a small lemon
  6. 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  7. 1/4 tsp salt
  8. 1/4 tsp pepper
  9. 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
For the Bowl
  1. 1 cup pomegranate seeds
  2. 1 avocado, sliced
For the Crispy Chickpeas
  1. Preheat the oven to 400. Pour the can of garbanzo beans into a fine mesh sieve and rinse and drain the beans a few times very well. Place them onto a paper towel and dry them completely. Once dried, add to a small bowl and toss them with the olive oil and all the spices. Spread them out on rimmed baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes, rotating the beans about every 15 minutes with a spatula. Set aside.
For the Roasted Broccolini
  1. Add the trimmed florets to a medium bowl and toss with the minced garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Place the florets onto a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes or until the edges are crispy ( I roasted my broccolini along side the chickpeas to minimize bake times). Once roasted, let cool slightly and set aside.
For the Herbed Bulgur
  1. Prepare bulgur per package directions. Drain and set aside back into the pot you cooked it in. In the bowl of a food processor, blender, or vitamix; add the basil, parsley, garlic, lemon juice and zest, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes and pulse a few times to combine. While the blade is running pour in the olive oil (I like to leave this dressing pretty chunky, not blending the herbs too much). Pour the herb dressing onto the warm bulgur and mix well.
To assemble your bowl
  1. Add about 1/2 cup of the herbed bulgur to the bottom of the bowl. Top with a few roasted broccolini florets, a few slices of avocado, about 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds, and about 1/4 cup crispy chickpeas. Enjoy!
Notes
  1. The Crispy Chickpeas can be made up to three days ahead of time and will stay crispy in an airtight ziplock bag at room temperature.
  2. The Herb Dressing can be made in advance as well. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days.
HONEYED HOME http://www.honeyedhome.com/

Sweet Potato Ricotta Crostini w/ Roasted Grapes & Thyme

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“Things on Toast”. I have always been an avid supporter of this kind of eating. I even thought that if I was ever lucky enough to write my own cookbook one day, that this is what it would be titled. I am lover of bruschetta, tartines, crostinis, or anything for that matter that is served on a toasty crunchy little vessel. I think because I am someone who is a devotee to textures, I am kind of obsessed with the way different foods come together in your mouth in a single bite. A creamy center amid a cripsy frame is what I am all about. Layers and levels of flavor as well as composition are what make food enjoyable and, in my opinion, set the tone for artistry and craftsmanship. You can build an incredible meal when you really start to consider what exactly makes individual ingredients standout or blend in. Here is my food for thought: not only is important to think of “things on toast” as one structure with several stories, each supporting and holding the next level up, but all food should be understood in this way. This recipe, in particular, is one of my most favorite, simple yet seemingly fancy, toast creations. I love the crunchy rustic loaf paired with the velvety sweet-potato cheese, topped with the roasted grapes that taste like candy, and sprinkled with earthy and aromatic thyme. It has depth of flavor and really emphasizes the antecedent “food for thought” proposition. Also, I can not help but mention that it’s star ingredient is taking us straight to Healthy Town, USA. Sweet potatoes are nutrient dense little miracles packed with extremely high levels of antioxidants and many essential vitamins and minerals. It is a superfood that some experts believe we should eat every single day. I could easily get on board with this campaign and I think I’ll start right now…. 

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Sweet Potato Ricotta Crostini w/ Roasted Grapes & Thyme

Serves 4


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Cook Time
25 min

Cook Time
25 min

Ingredients
  1. 1 cup sweet potato, skinned and diced in 1/4″ cubes (1 small sweet potato)
  2. 1 cup red grapes
  3. 2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil, divided
  4. 1/2 cup fat-free ricotta cheese
  5. 1 TBSP milk (I used almond milk, use whatever you have or use water)
  6. 8 small slices of a crusty rustic loaf
  7. salt
  8. pepper
  9. 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  10. 1/4 tsp cumin
  11. minced thyme for sprinkling (about 1 TBSP or less)
  12. honey for drizzling
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400. Place the sweet potato cubes on a small rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with 1 TBSP olive oil, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, and 1/4 tsp garlic powder. Toss with your hands to make sure all the sweet potatoes are covered in oil and spices. In an 8×8 glass baking dish, add the grapes, 1 TBSP olive oil, 1/4 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper and toss with your hands. Set the grapes aside. Place the sweet potatoes in the oven for 10 minutes. Once, the 10 minutes are up add the grapes into the oven alongside the sweet potatoes. Roast them together, side by side, for 12 minutes. Let both grapes and sweet potatoes cool a bit.
  2. After a minute or two of cooling, add the roasted sweet potatoes to the bowl of food processor. Add the ricotta, cumin, and another pinch of salt and pepper. Pulse to combine. I added 1 TBSP of almond milk to thin out the mixture just a bit.
  3. Toast the slices of the rustic loaf in the toaster oven or under the broiler. Spread the sweet potato ricotta cheese mixture on the toast, top with a few roasted grapes (be sure to stick the grapes into the spread to avoid them rolling off the toast), drizzle honey over the top and sprinkle with a little bit of fresh thyme leaves. Serve immediately while the toast is still warm! Enjoy!
Notes
  1. This recipe makes enough for 8 slices of toast and would serve 4-6 as an appetizer. If you have extra sweet potato ricotta spread leftover, save it in an airtight container for up to three days in the fridge. Let it come to room temperature before serving again.
HONEYED HOME http://www.honeyedhome.com/